Chapter 6

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It was a stupid plan. Gaiana had nothing to her name. No connections, no money, nor any real survival skills outside of the city. It was a 'go that way and hope for the best,' sort of mentality. The sort of mentality that got so many runaways killed in the first place. She didn't want to go home, but she did. And Mimoza promised not to tell anyone what happened.

Mimoza told her that her family needed her. And that if they were selling her, it meant they couldn't provide for her anymore. Gaiana believed it. Archos had put himself into so much debt, that he'd have probably sold his own body if that were an option for a man.

So Gaiana went back. Not for Archos' sake, but for Sophus' sake. She at least wanted to be on good terms with him before going off. Despite having a low opinion of her master, she still loved them both. They were the family that took her in. The family that saved her as an infant and owed her livelihood too. Her option was to either runaway and most likely die from the forces of nature, or to get sold, and at least have a shelter over her head.

At the very least, satisfying some of the family debt might make Sophus' life easier. That alone made it worth it.

The center of the markets square was bustling with life. Not just merchants from the city, but foreigners from Sicily to Egypt. People constantly visited the city for trade, and most of them leaving better off than when they came. She'd have liked to have become a merchant. She'd even seen a few Egyptian merchants that were women. If she were lucky, maybe she'd get sold to an Egyptian that could let her practice medicine.

Not many people were looking for slaves at the moment. It was summer, so many people wanted slave labor for mines or plantations, but that wasn't an option for Gaiana. She'd be sold as a house slave. Good for housework and child caretaking. But if she was very unlucky, she'd be bought as a prostitute.

Gaiana carried a small makeshift shiv underneath her tunic, crafted out of a sharp stone with a wooden handle. Although she knew being sold was her only option, she'd at least get a final say in what master she wouldn't tolerate. If she got sold to a good master, she'd go along happily. If she didn't, the shiv was either to run away, kill her master, or kill herself depending on what was needed. She wasn't sure if she could through with that last option.

The slaves for sale were few. There were only three people left to be sold. It was Gaiana, a scrawny young boy, and a balding old man. The old man was more likely a burden than a benefit. Sure he was healthy, but with so few years left to his life, there was little return value from actually buying him.

The man auctioning them was a middle-aged man. Greying hair, but still healthy. He might've been an athlete once but now he had a heavy gut from a comfortable life as a merchant. The old man stepped up next to him first. The auctioneer scowled in disgust at the sight of him, but it didn't keep him from doing his job.

"One Drachma!" The auctioneer called to the streets. The amount of coin he called was equal to a soldier's daily pay. It was a modest price for the old man, because the auctioneer clearly didn't expect much from the old man's value.

"One Drachma, one drachma?" His enthusiasm waned. Even at a low price, no one wanted to buy the slave.

The people in the crowd only averted their eyes. Bored, and tired of seeing a useless product. But the auctioneer continued his calls, refusing to give up on a potential sale.

Gaiana scanned across the crowd, picking out people on the streets that she most wanted to avoid.

The first she saw was a Spartan veteran. Nereus was his name. She knew he was a Spartan because he wore a cowl with Spartan colors and symbols on it. He was very clearly prideful of his position, and wanted to show it to everyone who looked at him.

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