1 Chapter 1 – Birthday!
When he opened his eyes, a giant smile lit up his face. It was his birthday!
Jumping out of bed, he grabbed his clothes for the day and jumped behind his changing screen. Normally he waited for his servant to come wake him, but he had laid out his clothes, himself last night, and was far too excited to stay in bed.
His dad only visited about every six months, and he was supposed to be here today, so he wasted no time in throwing on his clothes. Pausing in front of the mirror, Joseph Aurum examined himself, before he dashed out the door. His servant, Curt, had to jump back as he rushed past, to keep from crashing into him.
Joseph heard a chuckle from him, but kept going. He couldn't wait to see his dad.
His whole life his mother had told him he could be anything he wanted. Just because his father was a slave merchant, did not mean he had to follow in his footsteps, but Joseph adored his dad and couldn't wait until he turned seven so he could finally choose a profession. He knew that most other kids would be heading off to whichever apprenticeship had been arranged for them when they turned seven, and many dreaded the day, but because of how rich his father was, Joseph didn't have to worry about that.
"You said he would get to choose!" shouted his mother in fury.
Joseph paused just outside the doorway leading into the dining room. His mother had never raised her voice before. It was shocking.
"And he shall." His father's voice was the same calm, deep tone it always was.
"You never said you would take him away!" There was fear mixed into the anger.
Joseph knew his mother hated his father's job. She was afraid he had other wives that she didn't know about. Their marriage had been arranged, but he was sure his father loved his mother, because he was always calm around her.
"The boy needs to learn to be a man. He can't do that when there is no man for him to be around. I will still let him choose what he wants to be, but he will do it by my side." His tone was final.
Plastering a smile on his face, he stepped out into the dining room. His mother's eyes swung to him and he could tell she wanted to snatch him up and run.
"Father! You're home! Do I get to travel with you?" He tried to hide the excitement in his voice, because that had always been his dream, to placate his mother.
"You want to go with him?" she whispered in horror.
"Of course! How else am I going to see what jobs I could take?"
His mother looked at him for a moment, before leaving the room. He watched her go, wondering if she would be okay, but the momentary loss and confusion were quickly washed away when his father stood up and clapped him on the shoulder.
"Let's go, before she comes back and tries to stop us again," said his father softly.
Joseph followed his dad out the door and into a waiting carriage. It was the same one his father always used.
"We'll go eat at this inn I know of, before we start."
"Is mom going to be okay?" the excitement of being with his dad as he was leaving, was tempered by the worry for his mom. She had seemed to deflate as she left the room.
"I spoke with all the servants before meeting with her this morning. They knew she would be upset and will make sure she is safe. I'm sure she will miss you very much, but we'll be back in six months."
Nodding to himself, Joseph sat up straighter in the carriage and the worry for his mother began to fade as his father started telling him about some of the slaves he dealt with.
His father had originally been a normal merchant who traveled from place to place selling his wares, but as the slave trade became more and more popular, he saw an opportunity, and took it. When he was only twenty years old, he bought his first set of slaves. They were children, who were going to be killed because the slave owner had no use for them and no one wanted to buy useless children.
His dad knew that if he could train the kids, they would be worth more as they got older, so by buying them really cheap, all the money he poured into them would come back when he sold them as skilled slaves.
Slavery was very common in this world, but no one really wanted to take the time to pour money into kids to train them without a guaranteed buyer, so very few children were kept back for the opportunity, and the rest were killed. His dad stepped in and took those children for very cheap prices. He spent years training them, then instead of selling them, he got a brilliant idea. He would keep them and use them to train even more slaves, more than he could train on his own.
As the number of slaves that he owned grew, the amount of money he had began to diminish. Just before he got into trouble, the first set of kids he had trained for sale, were ready. But then he encountered another problem. They were too skilled for any of the slave markets he knew of. He traveled for several months, visiting slave market after slave market, before he finally found one, he was comfortable selling his trained children at. They would be sold at high dollar, which was a form of guarantee that they would not be abused. Not many people who wanted to abuse children would be willing to pay so much for them.
He also worded into the contract, that if they were ever found to be abused, the owner would be responsible for paying whatever charges he felt were necessary to compensate him for the damages. This also guaranteed that the children would be unharmed.
Joseph was amazed to hear of his father's back story. He had never gotten to hear it all before. He couldn't wait to hear more.