232 The Willing Escapee*
*Eldovian Year 1713, 24th day of the 7th month*
When Ebony had left that day - and of course Aegin meant THAT day, the one where she'd kissed him - he'd been understandably confused. He got that she'd been seeking comfort, that she'd been looking for a way to wipe the disgust from her mind and her body. She'd said as much to him as he'd held her afterwards. What Aegin didn't get, and what he felt was really not the time to deal with, was the fact that he really hadn't wanted to push her away.
It was strange really. He'd never thought of himself with another. Let alone Ebony. Sure she was attractive, and she had a good heart, but Aegin had never exactly been in a position to care about someone that way. Of course he'd been intimate with others over the years, but in brothels, a place where the relationships were guaranteed not to pass beyond the threshold of the bedroom. Aegin had been completely fine with that. With Ebony though it had felt different, deeper. The only way he knew how to explain it was the time they'd spent together and the knowledge they held about one another. So that was how he explained it to himself.
It did not however, condone Ebony's treatment by the Slave Master. Aegin had never expected the deal with him to be set in stone. He was honestly surprised it had lasted as long as it had. But touching her like that, forcing her. It really pissed him off.
It was time to leave the Island. To leave the Arena behind and find somewhere better, even if they died trying. And they definitely would die if they tried alone.
Aegin knew their best bet by far was the Reapers.
"So you know that visiting Lord who set his squadron on us two days ago?" asked Aegin as he sparred with Talo. The other Reapers were observing both their fight and the one between Layton and Sel. The kid's whip wielding tended to hold it's own against the strange eunuch.
Talo frowned at him, "Yeah, what of it?"
Aegin pushed back with his spear, taking a couple of steps back then circling as Talo did the same with his Trident, "He tried to **** Ebony".
Talo sighed, but did not look horrified. Aegin knew it was because it was not an uncommon occurrence on Herguard, but he still felt it to be completely wrong.
"I'm sorry, Little Thorn," Alistair spoke, his deep tone breaking the silence. Clearly they'd overheard what Aegin had said from the sidelines. It was not as if Aegin was talking in quiet tones.
Still, Aegin didn't like the way he said it, "Is it really okay for you to accept something like that?"
Aegin dodged a blow from Talo, parrying with his own spear jab.
"Kid, you know the deal," said Talo, "We're slaves, they're slaves. We do what we're told to do. Willing or not".
Aegin dodged another jab, "And that doesn't bother any of you?"
Will scoffed, "Of course it bothers us kid, but we're hardly in a position to do something about it".
Aegin spun, "So you'd do something if you were in a position to do so?"
Aegin felt the blunt end of the Trident hit the back of his legs hard and he went down, Talo's Trident stopping inches from his face.
"This is really getting to you," Talo frowned, "I can never get you on your back".
Aegin scoffed, pushing the Trident out of the way as he stood, "Of course it's getting to me, what I'm questioning is if its getting to any of you?"
They looked at each other, even Sel and Layton had paused their fight to weigh in. Finally, Alistair spoke again.
"Of course it gets to us, Little Thorn," Alistair said, "But we have all been here much longer than you have. There have been attempts at escape before. They never end well for the escapees".
"Even if they get out of the Arena and onto the streets, they have no way off the Island," said Talo, "Believe me, I tried".
Talo turned and lifted his shirt. Aegin had seen the ugly scar on his back plenty of times. The scar that went from the back of ribs and curved jaggedly around to his hip on the opposite side.
"No one can navigate that fog unless they've seen the path through it before," said Talo, "If you take even one wrong turn, you end up one of the thousands of ships on the reefs and jutting rocks. I was one of few to survive".
The twins, Eros and Eon stepped forward and each put a hand on Aegin's shoulder.
"Sorry Age," said Eros, "But once you come to Herguard-"
"You don't leave without the Master's permission," Eon finished for him.
Everyone off the Island assumed that the Pirate Lord was the Master of Herguard. It was all a front. The Pirate Lord plundered what he could whilst in service to the Slave Master. No one even knew the Slave Master's real name. The Madame as well. Though the Madame adhered to whatever the Master said.
"And of course," Will continued, "That's assuming you can get out of the Arena. With the Poison Guards he's stationed randomly, you have to be careful with any of the Guards you fight in case you get cut. Only one antidote, which of course only the Master has access to, so, at best after a couple of hours you're as good as dead".
Aegin had heard about the poison guards before of course. One of the many warnings he'd been given. He'd silently applauded the Slave Master for being creative with his lack of resources. He'd had poison but not enough to coat the blade of every guard. So he only coated some, but never told his guards or any one else which ones were coated and which weren't. It made for slow and dangerous conditions if anyone attempted to make an escape.
Aegin sighed, "So if I come up with a plan that'll get us past the poison guards, out of the arena, onto the boats and through to the open ocean safely, then will you be willing to work with me?"
"Of course," Talo scoffed, "Do you seriously think any of us want to be here?"
The others all nodded in the short silence before Talo pointed at Layton, "Except maybe Layton, but no one ever knows what that kid is thinking".
"He's currently thinking you can go fu-"
Alistair slapped the back of the sixteen-year-old's head and Layton looked at him with a frown.
"We're warrior slaves, not animals. Don't make me wash your mouth out with the only soap bar we get this week," Alistair declared.
Not just Layton, everyone looked significantly disgusted. No one wanted to put the soap bar that had been shared with a hundred or so sweaty men in their mouths.
Alistair turned to Aegin, "You have our allegiance Little Thorn, on the condition that you have a viable plan".