A Companion for The Road Shemmin the stallion wandered through the market, browsing the many vendors lining the streets of Maudner, second largest city in the kingdoms and supposedly one where almost anything could be found, even rare items of wonder and mystery, though all he'd seen so far were the typical wares you'd find in any market in any city, though perhaps in more abundance here. The food at least showing some variety, your common staples such as potatoes and corn interspersed with some of the local delicacies.
As he pushed further along through the crowd smells from food stalls wafted his way, some quite tantalizing while others not so much. Subsequently his stomach let out a low growl, reminding him it had been a while since breakfast, perhaps it was time to take a break from perusing the market. He headed towards one of the stalls emitting the more enticing smells.
Sitting down at a wooden table set up in front of the stall he waited. After a moment a young feline came over, a female Siamese, her tail swishing a little behind her as her almond shaped eyes gazed at the male horse who sat down. "Hello fine sir, what mayhaps can I get for you?" the stallion smiled at the young cat and gazed at her.
"Well, first do you perhaps have some wheat ale or mead? Also would you happen to have a nice vegetable stew?" He reached into his hidden pouch and brought up onto the table some coins, enough to pay for the meal as well as a little bit extra to ensure the cook gave him the best possible, the cat's hand scooping up the gold as she turned to head to the kitchen.
She returned quickly with some ale and left again as Shemmin gazed around at the few other patrons, taking a swig of the ale, most of the civilians still moving around the market or eating at some other stand.
Finally she returned with the stew, smiling at Shemmin as he payed her a little extra. His stomach growled at the smell as it hit his nose and he had to restrain himself not go at his meal like a starving foal at his mother's teat. He ate quietly, his attention mostly on the meal, satisfying his stomach more important at the moment.
He finished his stew, rising as he took the last swig of the ale. Shemmin left to resume browsing the market for something unusual, his stomach now full, leaving his mind to ponder more important things. Though what those should be he wasn't quite sure. What was it he wanted? So far he'd always been able to know, to find just what he needed. Now he was unsure but he had heard some rumors that there was a part of the market where sales of a more, secretive, nature occurred, perhaps there he would find the answer.
After several fruitless discreet inquiries he finally was told where to go by a gnarled old rat, the wizened female cracking a mostly toothless smile at him, winking as he left her in the direction she indicated, feeling a little bit uneasy from their brief exchange.
Finally he had passed the more mundane carts and booths, now there were stalls with merchants of all kinds of races selling harder, and some most likely less legally, obtained items, such as exotic pets, weapons, jewels etc.
Shemmin was a little bit impressed, here at least seemed to be something more interesting.
He found merchants and vendors spouting praise for their Swords of Shalur, or the mythical Sand Cats of Myar. Cloaked old crones selling potions and poultices, claiming they were the genuine article, guaranteed to work. He chuckled to himself as he wandered further, still unsure what it was he sought, he'd had nearly everything, or so he thought, not until he began to travel had Shemmin felt he lacked anything in his life, however he soon learned that there was far more in this world than he had thought.
Now, he had begun a journey to see as many lands as possible and to find and hopefully obtain as many rare and wondrous treasures he could find, purchase and if it came to it, steal, though he preferred to stick to the first two, not really being the dishonest type. After a bit his sensitive ears picked up a sound, it was voices, though this was different from the usual noise of the market, this sounded far more excited, he walked faster towards the sound, finally coming out upon a large square, a small crowd was gathered around what looked like a small stage-like apparatus.
At first his gaze was just on the crowd but slowly it made it's way towards the stage at the front, curious as to why they were here. The crowd was a mix of species, a fair amount actually despite it wasn't that large of a crowd. Finally his eyes fell upon the stage and there he saw a most interesting sight. There, standing on the stage was a male Raptarian, his scaly hide a dark greenish blue, next to him was a largish canid, probably a mastiff or such, usually hired for the heavy work or as a guard.
Though it was not those which had interested him so, it was the figures standing in a row on the stage. There, before his eyes stood several young males, possibly boys, of varying species. There were some humans, a couple of reptilians or so and a mustelid, all slender young things with nothing but loin cloths on. Shemmin slowly made his way to the crowd, working his way up towards the front and stopping a row back or so. He nudged a fellow spectator. "Pardon but what is this?" the spectator, a wolf in what was probably his forties or so turned and spoke to Shemmin.
"First time at one of these eh? Hehe, you're in for a treat then my boy" the wolf chuckled and patted the larger equine's shoulder. "Now see that is Ol' Jargas up there, the one talking and the chiseled mountain of canine there is Frung, the muscle if you will and they are the wares Jargas is selling" The wolf waved his hand to indicate the boys up on the stage.
He took a better look at the stallion as Jargas was readying to begin the auction. The wolf spoke again to Shemmin" You seem like a fella looking for something out of the ordinary, I dare say you've come to the right place then.
Now you're welcome to just watch, get a feel for what goes on. Jargas holds an auction oh I'd say ever week or so, maybe every two or three when business is slow. Though if one of those fine young things up there strikes your fancy I'd go for it, hehe, just be prepared to battle it out with anyone here for your pick, always a good idea to come to Jarga's auction with a full purse" Shemmin nodded as the wolf was rubbing his own muzzle, appraising the boys, deciding if any of them were worth bidding on.
"Well, I think I may just be a spectator this time around, they are nice and all but I am gonna hold out to see what he has next time, good luck to you though" Shemmin gazed at the young boys up on stage, their bodies glistening a little with sweat, the heat of the day not much but enough to make them perspire a bit. Shemmin's eyes fell upon one of the reptilian boys, a slightly chubby crocodile boy, his scales were a darkish blue, with his underbelly area being a lighter blue.
The boy gazed around, a little nervous it seemed at the people gawking at his body, his hands fiddling with the rope that ties them together. Shemmin gazed at the young croc for a bit before finally turning his attention to what Jargas was saying. He was describing one of the boys, what he was like, how skilled he was in various tasks.
Shemmin listened, watching closely when the bidding started, the first boy, a red and black lizard went for about 400 gold, Jargas seeming pleased with that price, next was a human boy, he seemed to be the least nervous of the bunch, standing proud.
He went for about 800, a fattish bull having purchased him. Finally after a few more it was the blue croc's turn, he stepped forward a little timidly, Jargas going through the details then the bidding began.
Shemmin wasn't quite sure why but he raised his hand right, calling out 100 gold, instantly it was outbid with 200, he called again for 400 and was outbid again with 700. Shemmin contemplated a moment, what he was doing, why did he want this boy, this young crocodile.
For some reason he just had to have him so he raised his hand again calling out 2,000 gold. Jargas grinned, he had expected the boy might make him some good money but this was far better than expected. He was about to call it when a shout came."3,000 gold" he nodded at the bidder, wondering if the stallion would try to outbid his competitor. He didn't wonder long as Shemmin called out 9,000 gold.
Jargas nearly fainted from joy, this was amazing, it had been quite some time since one of his boys had sold for such a price. He looked at the other bidder, waiting to see if he would try to outdo the young stallion again but the bidder did not and finally Jargas shouted "Sold, to the Eponan gentleman in the front" Shemmin headed over to the side where the other winners waited by the side of the stage.
Jargas finished up with the last two boys in the auction, the crowd dispersing shortly after, Jargas came down from the stage smiling, followed by Frung leading the boys. "Well fine sirs, you have made my day, especially you young sir, what is thy name oh generous one" he addressed Shemmin, who spoke back to the old lizard.
"It is Shemmin sir and you are welcome, glad I could do you such a service" he made a half bow, Jargas bowing back as he motioned Frung to bring the little croc boy forward. Shemmin looked at his prize, the boy not looking back, clearly unnerved by the large equine.
"It is okay Sul, chin up boy" Jargas chuffled and lifted the boys snout up gently "This is Shemmin and you are his now, be good and do as he says, do as you have been taught little one, now go on" he pushed the boy firmly but gently towards Shemmin, handing the horse a rope attached to a collar around the boys neck.
Shemmin takes it and thanks Jargas, heading away from the square, tugging the rope gently "Come along, Sul is it? We have a little ways to go to the inn I am staying at" the boy meeps a little at the tug but follows obediently, his tail swaying droopily behind him as he gives one last glance back.
They round the corner and the square is gone from sight, the croc boy casts his gaze downward, only taking in the ground and the feet of the stallion as they walk. A few people look at the two as they pass but it is a normal occurrence so they don't give it much thought, returning to their own affairs as the stallion leads the boy to the inn. He had chosen a modest place to stay, one that while it was not the most extravagant it was comfortable and decent.
To be quite honest he could have afforded a stay in the finest inn available but he wished to remain as anonymous as possible.
He learned early on that flaunting wealth oft makes one a larger target for thieves and murderers. They reach the inn, the stallion heading in though the doors, the boy following. He stops at the bar to talk to the innkeeper "I'd like some bread and cheese and vegetable stew brought up to my room, some mead and um" he looks at the boy " and would you like something?" the croc boy looks up and timidly asks" um well I g ggguess some turkey?" the inkeeper nods and heads to the kitchen to get it prepared, the stallion having given him several coins before he did.
"Come along then" he heads up the stairs with the boy in tow, going to a room farther down in the middle of the hall.
He opens the door and leads the boy in, closing and locking it behind them and then turning, he undoes the ropes attached to the boys arms and then removes the collar.
"There, that should feel better, sorry for not doing it sooner" Sul rubs at the spot where the collar was.+ His hand reaches out to caress the boy's cheek, the croc shying back at first but Shemmin is insistent and touches him, giving a gentle stroke. "Tell me Sul, where are you from?" Sul shivered a little, he wasn't sure about this large male, he'd tried to be brave like the other boys but he was unable to muster the same courage so remained nervous. So far though the big stallion hadn't done anything mean to him so maybe he was okay.
Sul finally spoke after a brief bit of silence " I I I'm from the swamplands south of here, um, it's called.,"Froen Swamp" Shemmin finished for the boy " I know of it, I've yet to go there myself but it is on my list of places to visit." the food arrived before he could ask the boy any other questions so they sat at the table to eat.
"Here you are little one, eat up" Shemmin smiled softly at the young croc as he took some bread and a hunk of cheese, using the bread to soak up some of the stew liquid, pairing that with a bite of cheese.
Sul's tummy rumbled at the sight of the large turkey legs on his plate, it had been sometime since he'd eaten anything so extravagant. He licked his lips but waited, having been taught to only eat when told to.
Shemmin noticed the boy wasn't eating "Hey, if you don't start it'll get cold, eat up" Sul blushed a little but started eating, doing his best not to tear into it voraciously. Shemmin smiled a bit, watching the boy as he ate, glad the kid had a healthy appetite at least, wouldn't be much fun if he had to force feed the crocodile.
After he'd eaten about half his stew Shemmin spoke to the little croc again.
"So Sul, how did you come to be with Jargas? If you don't mind me asking" Sul let out a soft burp, blushing and looking down "Well, um, I'm not really sure, I wasn't very old when I was taken I guess, at least that's what I was told. I don't really know, just that I was with some rough type people before Jargas, they sold me to him when we came here. He wasn't all nice and such but he was far better than the others had been" Sul sniffled a little "Ssosorry mister Shemmin, anyways um, now I'm with you so that's what matters, at least that is what Jargas says, the past is the past, no need to dwell on it" the little croc boy seemed close to crying but he breathed deep and let out a sigh instead.
Shemmin gazed at his new charge with a bit of admiration, the boy was timid somewhat but he'd managed not to breakdown into tears so he had some strength in him at least.
"Well young Sul" Shemmin let out a soft yawn and stretched his arms, standing up "I think it's time we retire for the night, it's been an interesting day and now I'm ready for rest, and I think so are you little one" Sul was about to shake his head no but a yawn escaped his snout and he blushed for the third time that night "I I guess you're right sir, um, so where will I sleep then?" he looked around the room but there was only one bed.
"Um" Shemmin took off his shirt and started to undo his chaps, looking at the boy "Oh, well you'll sleep with me Sul" he stripped down the rest of the way, the boy standing and looking at him nervously. "A are you sssure? Um, I well um" Shemmin stood in nothing but his loin cloth "Yes? Come, it's alright, I can't very well have you sleeping on the floor, it's cold and dirty down there.
Now enough dilly dallying my boy, come here" he beckoned for Sul to come to the bed, climbing in and patting the space he made next to him. "Come sleep, tomorrow we have much to do before I can head out" Sul reluctantly got into the bed, tucking his tail between his legs as the large male smiled softly, wrapping an arm around the boy gently, giving him a hug.
"You have nothing to be afraid of with me young one, now rest and dream" he gave the boy's cheek a soft nuzzle and blew out the lantern in the room, the croc held in his arm as he began to sleep. Sul sighed softly, staying awake for a little bit, gazing out into the dark room. He sniffled a little and a tear slowly fell down his cheek, unable to hold it back now like he had earlier. He settled in as best he could against the large equine, the body warmth beginning to sooth him some.
Finally he drifted off to sleep, his head nestled against the strong arm of the stallion.