My push to complete my second novel is over for now, so back to my first loves, the characters of An Involuntary King. (see cover on right.)
Falni tried to keep her face impassive as the various factions in the mood for buying threaded their way through the two lines of slaves, poking, prodding, and looking in, or so it seemed to her, every possible orifice. Beside her Oona was practically pissing herself trying to get the wealthy woman's attention.
The Moorish man seemed particularly interested in Falni, because, she guessed, of her blue eyes and pale hair. She waited until he had his nose a fraction of an inch in front of hers and then bared her teeth and snarled. She knew that ploy could have gone awry, but it in fact made the man jump back with some oath she could not understand. He gave her a distasteful look and turned his attention to Oona.
The woman never even came to look at her. She was clearly looking for a plaything for bed sport. She noticed with some amusement the woman paying particular attention to one dark god of a man. Serve her right, Falni thought, if she takes him, since about the only thing about her he would show any enthusiasm for would be her sons or male servants. She had watched him trying to curry favor with the guards here by flirting with them, resorting to another man in the salve pen when his efforts were rebuffed.
The Danes and the woman settled their rivalry for several of the young muscular men in the old fashioned way, by bidding. When the Danes, having, in spite of having to take second best, were done looking at men for their oars benches, they turned their attention to the women. Falni was ready for them. When the first one came up to her and grinned lasciviously, she smiled up at him sweetly and said, in Danish, "The first time to try to fuck me I will have your balls off and in my hands before you know they are gone." His friend erupted in laughter, got a hard punch in the arm for his reward, and moved on.
Finally the Celtic man, a Breton Oona had had a chance to tell her, came up to her and gave her a frank, amused look. She had noticed when, looking at the woman's prize purchase, he had sneered and looked as if he was chuckling. He reached to one of her braids and twirled it around his finger. He spoke to her in a variety of languages, finally in Saxon . "You are a mess."
Falni gave him a long unbelieving look. "Trade places with you, and I will be the one offended."
Rather than frowning or striking her, he smiled. "You have a point there." He glanced about at the other women slaves, showing some interest but more disgust. he turned back to Falni. "You look strong, healthy, in spite of the mud, filth and blood. Can you do farm work, not just in the house but in the yard as well?"
"I am glad you said 'can' and not 'will' because I can say yes."
He lifted an eyebrow. "Are you saying you won't do it?"
She glared up at him. "I somehow do not think my willingness is needed."
He gave a short bark of laughter. "Well said. I think you might just be amusing to have on the journey back to Paris." He turned away from her suddenly and strode over to the slavemaster.
Falni saw him point to two men who had not attracted the interest of either the woman or the Danes. Then she was distracted by Oona's sudden cry.
Falni turned to see her friend being led away by one of the Moor's servants. She was crying for help, but not to Falni. She was pleading at a distance with the rich woman, who did not so much as heed her. Falni's heart sank watching her red headed woman who could sing Shannon's songs led away to Sif knew what sort of fate.
"Come along," said a rough voice, and Falni flinched from the feel of a man's hand grasping her arm.
"What? No!" she shot at him, realizing he had spoken in Saxon. "What is this?"
The man was one of the Breton man's armed guards. "Lord Mixail has bought you. Come along with us."
Falni looked to where the tall Breton was counting out coins into the slavemaster's palm. he glanced back over his shoulder to see that his men had collected his "purchases". He looked at Falni and gave her a wry smile. He winked at her. She was speechless as he left the pen and his men dragged her and the two men after him.