Sold

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I was scared, very scared of what will happen next and contemplated on running away, but I also knew what happens to runaway slaves. The kind of life awaits them without a master, we often suffered the worse fate that the chances of me staying here and accepting my punishment was a better alternative than chasing my uncertain freedom.

If I could explain to master Li He what happened, I knew he would listen, he'll hear me out and - maybe, just maybe - forgive me for hurting his wife. Whatever he does, whatever he thinks I deserved as a punishment, I will openly accept it because I knew deep inside, master Li He would not be able to hurt me. It'll break him to see me in pain, suffering because of him.

But things never turn out the way as I imagined, because fate had turned its back on me. What I knew was a decent life before is now filled with wickedness.

It was his mother, mistress Bing who came soon after, she brought a gang of hired men with her. Mistress brought them, so they could corner me like an animal and punish me the way they think I deserved.

"Ma!" Mistress Jiaying cried out to mistress Bing as soon as she arrived, she locked herself inside the master bedroom - afraid of what else I would do to her.

I heard her shuddering voice broke as she teetered helplessly into her mother in law's arms.

Mistress Bing crooned as she held mistress Jiaying like her own child. "There, there, now. I'm here and we'll teach that insolent rat a lesson about fighting back to her owner."

The rest of their conversation was a muffled blur as I felt my heart raced to my chest. I was corrupted with panic uncertain of my future. Before long, the door to my room slammed open and came to these men surrounding me inside my room. They dragged me outside to mistress Bing and Jiaying.

Both my mistresses stood side by side with each other, mistress Jiaying carried a wet towel in her hand as she put pressure on her swollen wounds while mistress Bing stood there with her hands resting upon her hips. Her glance inclined downwards with menacing flare. It's been a few years since I last saw her, and her presence never failed to bring such fear in me.

I was always afraid of her. Her unspoken hate for me emanated deep within her flesh and stained the air we breathe.

She sneered. "Drag her out to the shed and tie her with her back open to me."

The men obeyed, and I was dragged outside the house. I did not scream, I did not fight, and I didn't cry as they took me outside and bound me with my arms raised and my back exposed openly for easy access of her whip.

My entire life growing up in her manor, she was never allowed to lift her finger on me, although she took most of her anger on my mother and often abused her for reasons I thought the mistress of the manor is supposed to treat a slave.

It was something I never understood then.

It did not take long before mistress Bing followed to the shed and wasted no time handing me my punishment.

The beating lasted all night, only stopping when her arms grew tired and she could no longer lift them. She whipped me so much that her own arms would be screaming in pain the next morning. Once she's done, she ordered the men to throw me into a small storage slightly bigger than a dog's cage - where I would spend the next couple days crouched like an animal and starved without food or water.

I heard of slaves being treated so cruelly by heartless masters like this, but I never thought this what would become of me. Not once I wished for death as an escape, but this time, I wished for death to come to claim me because I saw no better life after this.

The heat seared during the day inside the small cage, and I could only pray for a glass of water that would never come. The night was cooler, but I was so spent, exhausted and starved that the next couple days came and went without me realizing. I slept as an escape.

By the third day, I heard someone's footsteps from the other side, perking my head up. The chain on the door rattled and the stream of light flooded as the door opened. My eyes squinted, I haven't seen sunlight in the past couple of days.

A man grabbed my shaking arm and dragged me out. He made me walk a few yards with him to the courtyard and that's when I saw a man standing in the middle of the yard. He wore a wide brim straw hat, hiding half of his face and a well fitted black robe. His posture was elegant, and I knew he's someone I haven't seen before.

He watched as we made our way to him and once we got near, he ordered the servant manhandling me to let go.

"That's enough." He said. "Let her go!" His voice was firm and in command.

The man let go and I almost fell on my knees, weakened from days of starvation and caged in the storage. I looked at him uncertain what to do or think. The mysterious man observed me for a few seconds then strode over to his horse, fetching a flask. He loosened the lid and hand me the container for a drink of water.

I snatched it from his hand like a feral animal and drank and drank until the last drop of water fell in my mouth. I was thirsty and dying, couldn't get enough drink of water.

He offered me spiced rice ball next and I consumed every bit of it in front of him without feeling any shame or reserved daintiness. I didn't care, I was hungry. I could care less whether I looked like a feral animal or a woman.

Once I'm done, he merely groaned and said..."Let's go."

I understood right then that I was just sold to a new master, and he is now my new owner.

My new owner mounted on his horse, I expected to walk while he rode when he offered me his hand to help lift me up to his back.

His gesture surprised me, and I jerked at the sight of his wide palm, thinking he was going to hurt me. "Don't be scared." He murmured, his voice is a gentle wave of softness. "I will not hurt you like your previous masters."

*****

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