“You move, you die, this hammer will crush your skull”
Part two of story of Gor, Eowyynn and the Di Jan pirates. She has been captured by the Di Jan pirates and her captor has named her Eo. She has been stripped of her clothes and feathers and left to sleep on a rough wooden floor.
The night is restless, I drift in and out of sleep, tossing and turning and being yanked short by the cuffs and chains binding me. I try to sleep, i need the rest, but it eludes me teasing me with its promise of slumber then slipping away like an urt in the night.. Unbidden I moan and whimper in my half asleep state and when sleep does come it is ridden with nightmares. Large looming shapes, pain and being unable to move plague even my dreams.
My eyes are puffy and red in the morning when he comes down from his loft, but it doesnt matter, they are hidden behind the livid bruises covering my face. A throbbing ache reminding me of the strength on the blacksmiths arms and his rough calloused hands. I stir and try to sit up, but he ignores me and goes to his stove.
“You will be cooking here, and cleaning, earning your keep not just warming my furs like some spoiled silk girl” He says as he bustles about the servery. I can not quite see what he is doing, his broad shoulders block me view, but I can smell it. My mouth starts to unconsciously salivate at the smells issuing forth. I smell tarsk grilling and bread being toasted and my stomach rumbles on cue. He ignores me still and continues what he is doing.
I am torn, my body cries out for food, yet I do not wish to take anything from him. I fight a battle in my brain, between my pride and my hunger. Finally I realize that if I am to escape and be free I will need food and not be some starved wreck. I lick my split lips and open my mouth to ask for some food, even beg if need be.
Before I can demean myself with begging, a bowl of gruel is slid over to me, just a wooden bowl, not even a spoon. His voice cracks out a single word that is also a command “EAT”.
It is not the fried tarsk and vulo egg sandwich which he eats as he watches me, simply a thick porridge. It is slave food. He stands and watches me. A dribble of grease runs down his chin and he wipes it off on his sleeve absently, his eyes on me, assessing me.
I am disappointed, but hardly surprized by this and grab the bowl and cup my fingers about it, feeling the heat soak in. It had been a chiily night to lay naked on the rough wooden floor and the heat is a small luxury. I go to talk, but my throat is parched and it comes out a croak, I swallow and try again.
“I need a spoon” I say simply.
“Nay, no spoon, nay knives, you earn them, and when i trusts you wit them” Is his stark answer. I had expected as much, but felt it was worth an effort to ask.
I scoop up a glob of the gruel in my fingers, some dribble down between them and I hungrily shovel it into my mouth. My jaw aches at opening and ruefully I acknowledge to myself I would not even be able to eat the sandwich he has just finished. I don’t care, my belly screams out for more and I devour the food and I am licking the bowl and my fingers clean in no time. That is when he speaks again.
“I have decided, today I collar you”
I freeze, My fingers in my mouth. It is as I expected, yet still terrifying to hear the words said aloud. I muster my courage and stare at him.
“That will change nothing.” I say, sounding far more brave than I feel. “Collars can be removed.”
He chuckles “Aye, they can but I will not put some clasping collar with a lock on you, it will be permanent, bolted and soldered in place”
It can still be removed I think, but know it would be much more difficult and dangerous and then he continues. “Only a master smith like me would know how to remove it without crushing your neck” Is all he says, a simple statement.
My face must betray my emotions as he chuckles again. H comes over and grabs an ankle, clicking a manacle about it, it has a short chain and another, so far empty manacle, meant for my other ankle to hobble me. I start to scramble and kick out, but another cuff has my head snapping back. My eyes see flashes and I am stunned by the casual yet hard blow. The other ankle is cuffed.
When He undoes one arm from the wall, I don’t resist, it would be futile at this point and I do not need, or want, another blow to my head.
Soon I stand before him, shakled and a leather collar about my neck, it has a leash leading to his large fist. He gives it a tug. I stumble forward, pulled by the leash and he smiles. “This is how you should be, Beast”
I have no answers to that, my head still somewhat dizzy, and utterly helpless. He starts walking to the door ourtside and pulls the leash, not looking back. I scramble to keep up in my short steps, my only choice to follow or be dragged. I follow, lead like a Verr to slaughter.
It isnt a rough tugging, just persistent, as I am led down the stairs. The leash providing pressure on my neck, I take the quick short steps, my legs movement limited by the short chain. No way I could hope to run.
The stairs end and to the left, under the room I was just in, is his smith shop. Tongs, hammers, troughs of water and oil are laid out. In the back Is a forge, the bellows that breathe live to its fires laying unmoving, but it is to the huge anvil in the center he takes me to. It is large, black iron, pits and dents on it show it has been used. He takes me to it.
“Don’t move” he says, then from a bench takes a collar, a band of steel curved to fit a neck and open with the two edges about a handspan apart and ending in loops that, when fitted, will align with each other top and bottom. He takes off the leather collar and slips the cold steel about my neck. Then pushes my head down so my neck, and the steel band, rest on the anvil.
“You move, you die, this hammer will crush your skull” he informs me. Briefly I consider doing so on purpose, ending this all here and now. But I decide against it, I will get my freedom back and I will also make him pay, he owes me I think, he owes me too much to not collect.
The hammer comes crashing down and clangs iinto the collar, closing it slightly. I can’t help myself and flinch from the noive and the stinging vibrations on the collar from the stroke. Reflexively my head jerks and the hammer is already on another downswing. He adjusts his aim frantically on the stroke, unable to stop the hammer’s swing. Again it gives a loud clang, the collar that much tighter around my neck.
“Stupid girl” He yells out and grabs my hair “You want to die? I can smash you now you dumb bosk” He rings my head like a bell using my hair. It pulls and my head bangs against the anvil a few times. “If you dead, you no good to me. Tell me why I dont sell you now?” He continues, furious at my reaction.
He doesnt wait for an answer, his hand presses down on my head, pinning it there and he raises the hammer again for another swing. CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, the steel rings with each stroke, the opening about my neck is gone, the collar is afixed. My neck both sore and numb from the shockwaves going through the steel from when he hammered.
He gives me another light cuff and places a bolt through the loops, grabs a slaller hammer and mushrooms the ends to stop it from sliding out. He pulls my hair out of his way and says “This be tricky, dont move or you get burned. Not die but wish you had”
A bit of wet leather is shoved between my neck and the collar, it covers my head and neck. Another piece, this one dry, is thrown over my shoulders. I lay there, the wet leather chilled against my neck.
From the forge he draws out a wire, glowing hot and places it on the bolt. I hear the hammer striking down, this time a dull thudding sound. I see sparks fly by my eyes and hear them sizzle as they land on the wet leather. I can feel the collar, where there is no leather, heating up, but it is far from where he is hammaring on the steel, welding it to the loops and bolt on the collar, so it is merely uncomfortable and not searing my flesh.
Soon enough the hammer stops it bangs, a scoop of oil steams and it is tricked onto the steel, cooling it down. Then I hear a rasp of a file as he smooths off the edges. The leather is pulled from my shoulders then slithered out from my neck. The collar touches my neck, still warm, and the steel encapsulates my neck. It is on and not a locked collar, but a permanent one. The message is clear, he plans to keep me.
He pulls me to my feet and I stand wobbly. I tell myself the tears forming in my eyes are from the smoke and the soot in the smithy. The weight of the collar, a little loos but not overly so, rests on the bottom of my neck. I am now collared. To the rest of the world, they will see the collar and know I am nothing but a slave, it marks me as simple livestock.
The weight lies heavily on me, far more so than that of a simple steel band.