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The capital city lay three weeks of travel inland if you were on foot and animals of burden weren't much quicker. No matter the distance though, the capital was just as humid as the coastal port city where most things started; natives of generations weren't bothered but the sticky air bothered visiting foreigners, and the travel from the coast inland was dangerous without a proper guide and good sized party. The desert was harsh and unforgiving of strangers. Blistering hot during the sunny days and an uncontrolled frozen wasteland not long after the sunset. If you weren't prepared for such a trek you'd end up dead before the first town or checkmark at an oasis.

 

The capital itself lay with its back against sprawling mountains that kissed the desert. The tops always coated in a blanket of white that fed down into the city through streams both above and under the ground to fill a lake and river that went for miles until it vanished on the horizon and then faded out shortly thereafter. A productive economy, with merchants, tradesmen, and gifted makers of all sorts the kingdom in question was by no means lacking. Exporting such fine beadwork and satin fabrics that their world desired; rare furs and gold work adorned with gems of strange colors and rarity. An economy that ran on the foundations of slave work, and while the field of slave labor had come a long way in recent generations it still existed in many forms. There were laws that protected slaves from certain things, such as being overworked or beaten without reason; the reward for reporting such things was worth it whilst the punishment was not worth being caught doing either to your slaves. That didn't mean that brothels didn't have slaves, they did. Not all worked as whores as most slave owners knew well enough to keep their slaves away from such work. There had been laws made about that too. No children. And any money earned had to be given to the slave for their own keeping. It didn't take long enough for one or two slaves to realize they could buy their own freedom that way. 

 

Slaves aren’t used in the standing army. If one is scouted, recruited and chooses to be in the army, they earn their freedom. Along with land and a monthly stipend after retirement. This leads many men to head down this route, seeing as a term of service is only six years. Many were done before the age of twenty-five.

 

The palace, the crowning jewel of the city, even this place ran on the backs of slaves. The only place in the palace where no slave worked was the harem. Beautiful young ladies, some still girls, held a courtyard and whole wing to themselves. Adorned with anything they might fancy and a staff of eunuchs and ladies-in-waiting to see to their needs and desires while they waited out their lives in luxury. The girls and ladies that loitered these halls, dressed in fine clothes, had been presented to the harem as gifts to the sultan and his family. They came from nobles, or those wishful of such a title. Successful generals, bankers, advisers, merchants, anyone who had a desire and a way to be on the sultan's good side had presented their youngest daughter. Many of the girls were new, few had remained since the death of the sultan and the ascension of his only child, a son, into power. The harem now filled with those hoping to catch the new ruler's eye, and with any luck his wife would be selected from the harem short of a wedding offer from outside the kingdom. Unlike previous years, not since the founding of the harem perhaps, there were three girls in the harem who stood out against the rest. Dressed in clothes and decorated beadwork, they looked no different than any other in there. It was the jingle when they walked that set them aside from the others, and the golden band at their neck that looked beautiful but was a reminder to all that this was a slave, not a gift.

 

Perhaps the two new advisers whispered in the new sultan's ear, and the old advisers were just that. Old. Getting too old to care, and not thinking of the repercussion of not caring. Talks of adjusting slave rights, and laws. The three girls in the harem had been brought in from a recent auction by one of the younger advisers and while the harem was only for the sultan to choose from, any girl in there had the right to deny him a night of service. They were, after all, not property. They could leave if they so desired. They would bring shame on their families and themselves in doing so, but it was their right. However, girls brought in from the slave trade would be expected to perform, and it would only be in their benefit to do so. It wasn't like they could be married off to a noble or merchant of wealth. They would only ever be slaves. In here, they could be well dressed, cared for, maybe give birth to a child of the sultan and be taken to the family wing where the previous sultan had only taken one woman, his wife, and only produced one child: his son. There they would be a slave no more. Able to give orders and live their lives in honor. If they didn't perform, if they chose not to provide, they were smart enough to know that worse fates awaited them outside the harem walls. It was this mentality that had the advisers agreeing with this movement. The pool of girls in the harem was smaller than it had been in previous generations. Beautiful and well placed, but the advisers knew most of them would have to be married off to retiring generals and well-off merchants. That, and the sultana, the Sultan's mother, was a handful. She had been during his father's reign and would continue to be so. Unable to have children after her only son, the king had then refused to bring in another woman from the harem out of love for his wife. It was not the way a man should enjoy the desires of the flesh, so they said, and so their new sultan should. As well as have a girl who would know to not overstep her place or wish for such a folly. The sultana was a princess in her own right, an arranged marriage from a foreign country - they didn't want that mess again either. No, they needed to gain control once again. For two generations now the kingdom had grown leaps and bounds and instead of seeing it as the smart choices of the reigning family, they saw it as only a matter of time before the drastic changes would come back to bite them in the ass. They needed to go back to their roots, and this was the start.

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VanillaBerry

  • VanillaBerry

Bio: Socially anxious writer who loves video games.
Other than that, I really enjoy world building and crafting unique or personally interesting characters to live in the cyberpunk-ian fantasy world that I've been cooking up for the last several years.

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