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Lellen's Journey Continues by Eslynne Weaver is a completed story. It is ten chapters in length and is currently available in its entirety in the Members' Area of Bethany's Woodshed. It is available both as an "HTML" file for online reading, as well as in a downloadable PDF format. It is also available as a file that can be transferred to your Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, or Apple I Pad, as well as other brand eBook readers. Each completed book that you obtain as a member of Bethany's Woodshed is yours to keep, even if you are no longer a member.

Lellen's Journey Continues completed on Bethany's Woodshed in November 2011, and will remain on Bethany's Woodshed until at least October 2012.

 

Chapter One


A quick flick of his wrist and the paddle caught the under curve of her buttocks for the twentieth time. Lellen whimpered in relief. Surprising at first, then soothing, she felt Arral run his fingers through the loosened locks of hair by her face.

“Good girl,” he whispered in her ear. “I am pleased with you.” Then louder, for the benefit of the customer standing in the shop, “Now get out there and apologize.” Obeying him, Lellen straightened, smoothing her dress back down and tucking her hair back in place before emerging from the little room that was his office.

“Please excuse my rudeness of earlier, sir. I realize you meant no disrespect.” She smiled sweetly, and the man nodded, mollified. “Are you still interested in this grey linen or is there something else I can show you?” she asked graciously, and stepped towards the shelf of domestic weaves he indicated.

It had been a trying day. For starters, a giggling, gossipy group of young women had come in, one of whom Lellen knew. Archly the girl had made pointed comments the entire time about women who think they’re better than others – warrior women – being taken down a peg or ten. And the incessant snickering! Lellen had successfully ignored them, but it was not without effort. But then this man had come in, complaining about every thing in the world, including the inability of the 2nd Set – her father’s Set – to protect its citizens. Lellen had, of course, taken it personally and snapped back about the ungraciousness of those with an inability to appreciate the hard work being done on their behalf. Arral had emerged from his office just in time to hear it and immediately returned to the office, apologizing and escorting his willful slave with him.

They’d had the shop officially open for a week now, and so far Lellen had been spanked everyday for something or other. It was harder work, in some ways, trying to please her Master and his customers, than it had been simply defending those same people as citizens. At least as a warrior she could speak her mind.

Leaning on a table piled with bolts of fabric to rest her feet a little after the man was finally gone, Lellen flinched and whimpered softly to herself. She had long ago decided that having a perpetually sore bottom was simply her new state of being. Too soon more customers entered the little shop and she stood up with a smile.

Arral watched Lellen fill the extensive list the woman had in her hand, glad for the business – it helped legitimize his supposed immigration here. Many people had stopped in since the shop opened, curious to see the off-worlder and his Markin slave, he supposed. Immigration was not particularly tight; one had to live, earn and contribute within one Tribe’s jurisdiction for 2 years, pass a fluency test in Markinese, break no laws and gain the acceptance of his own particular adopted Tribe. Within the Lorgenna Tribe he would have to earn an ‘acceptable citizen’ vote by 9 tenths of his resident city’s population. Not that he was particularly concerned about it. He planned on having wrapped up the case and returned off-world long before two years were up and it became a question. His thoughts returned to his lovely slave as he watched her reach for a bolt on a high shelf. He knew the work was hard for her, but she was intelligent, and she was catching on quickly. Arral was very proud of her.

Looking around, Arral once again marveled at the efficiency of Markin buildings. They had been lucky enough to find a house for sale in Igg by an owner who wished to sell quickly. It was in the merchant section of town, as most merchants manufactured or sold from their own homes, and therefore already separated into a lower shop floor and the upper living floor. There were plenty of curved shelves lining the round walls, so he had only needed to purchase tables for the floor displays and a moneybox. All of the domestic fabric they would offer was set up on consignment from the local weavers and knitters, and Arral placed orders to import any foreign fabric they thought would sell. He let Lellen pick out the personal furniture they would need, as she knew what would be needed in a home of this modest size. Having simple tastes, she picked only the most essential of kitchen utensils, bedding and furniture, which were simple enough to set up as soon as the house was vacant. The former owner, a baker, was moving to a larger house with more room for his many ovens, as his business was doing quite well. Arral had bought the place with a large down payment and 5 years of fairly steep monthly payments, which was about the longest sort of financing Markin had. It was taking some getting used too, the way Markin months and years were shorter than Rok’s. Rok’s year was only a little longer than Old Earth’s was, and they had kept the old system of 12 months to a year, which resulted in months ranging from 32 to 34 days. Markin, however, while continuing to use a 7-day week, had 11 months of 4 weeks each with a 6-day New Year’s celebration between the last and first months of the year. New Year’s Days, as they were called, began on the anniversary of the refugees’ landing on their new planet.

“How old are you,” he’d asked Lellen one day, realizing that he had not inquired before. She’d raised a surprised eyebrow at him.

“I’m twenty-two years old, sir, of course,” she’d answered.

“Of course?” he repeated.

“One is not of age until they are 20 years old. I couldn’t join the Set until then. They give promotions once a year. If I’d made it from the bottom of the Sixth, to the top of the Sixth, to the bottom of the Fifth, I must be at least 22 years of age, sir.” Arral smiled at her faint annoyance, as if she suspected he had thought her older, not able to progress as rapidly as she had.

“I am glad to hear it, lovely one.” But it was disconcerting in some ways, for him to realize that she was only barely 18 by his own world’s counting.

The next day Lellen and Arral were awakened just as the 1st hour started by a commotion downstairs. Lellen sat up suddenly, recognizing some of the voices, even as Arral growled at her to be still, concerned.

“It’s my father, Master,” she explained as they threw on clothes. Dashing downstairs in her bare feet with Arral only a step behind her she quickly undid the bolts and threw open the door.

“Appi!” she cried happily, giving the big man a huge hug before turning to the shorter woman beside him and hugging and kissing her as well. “Ammi, I can’t believe you’re here!” she bubbled on in Markinese. Gently but firmly her father put his hand on her shoulder and pushed her to the side. His face was set intently on Arral’s, who remained still, weaponless but on guard. Seeing his intent as he slowly withdrew his short sword from his scabbard, Lellen stepped in front of him again. “Appi, no. Wait until I talk to you. Please, look at me!” The older man paused to glance down at his daughter.

“Lellen, this is between us men.” Arral bit down on a smile as he predicted her reaction. Lellen’s hand shot out and clamped down on her father’s wrist, gradually numbing his sword hand.

“I am a warrior too, as well you know, Appi, and just because I look like a dalla now doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten.” Pleased, her father forced her little hand off of his wrist.

“I am proud of that, Lellen, but if you aren’t able to even maintain a pressure lock on me, I know you have not been able to avenge yourself fully on this man.” He spat the last word, as if he did not think Arral was worthy of its use.

“He was not the first who stole me. He bought me.”

“Bad enough,” Pren replied, stepping towards Arral.

“I called him what I shouldn’t have.” Pren paused, looking at his firstborn as if she’d gone daft. “And then I ran away. He has captured me twice. It is his right to own me.” Firia looked close to tears.

“But Lellen, he is not Markin! You didn’t have to tell him what it meant!”

“He knew, Ammi. I was foolish enough to think he would not know, when I was enraged enough to call him that, and to steal his dagger. He could have killed me.”

“For the theft of a dagger?” Pren sounded murderous. “What sort of law is that?” he demanded.

“I held it to his throat.” Lellen’s eyes were downcast. Her father lowered his sword a hair’s breadth.

“Lellen, you are to sit down, right there, and tell me everything. And you,” he growled, turning to Arral, “I see you have at least enough courage to stand your ground and not run, but do not think I forgive you yet, if ever. Sit also.” Arral nodded his head and offered his visitors chairs around the cutting table and a hot beverage. Firia gave the tiniest flicker of a smile at his hospitable tone of voice, but still declined his offer of a drink. Pren ordered his three young sons to guard the door and check upstairs before he sat down, and then replaced his sword. Lellen’s eyes remained downcast as she sat beside her Master, across from her father. When all was settled, she began to speak. She told them as much as she dared, omitting some of the more personal details of her encounter with his Lady, and her growing desire for her Master. Her father asked questions as she spoke, until he was sure he understood the situation. Finally, when she was finished, Pren ordered her to strip. Lellen blinked.

“Appi?” Firia nodded to her so she turned to Arral, who, while it did not please him, knew that Pren was only concerned for her. He needed to make sure she was not hiding any bruises or other signs of abuse. He nodded also, so she obeyed, blushing. Her mother stood and looked her over carefully, feeling along her joints and jaw for any injury. She skimmed lightly over the fading marks from her past few spankings, making sure they were confined to the fatty parts of her cheeks and there was no bruising around her hip bones or lower back. She sat back down and Lellen pulled the tunic she had worn back over her head.

“I believe her,” Firia told her husband. Pren nodded once.

“Sama did not think he was abusing her either,” he said. Lellen glared at her father. “Give me the contract.” Lellen hesitated. She did not know the code to open her collar, but Arral stopped her anyway.

“The contract is between Lellen and I. It is not necessary for you to read it.”

“But, Master…” Lellen began but was silenced by his cold glance. She suddenly remembered that the contract identified him, not as a merchant, but an information gatherer, and held her tongue.

“You have heard her describe what has happened; you have seen on her body that she hides no scars. You have been given information from the Healer, her cousin, and all together this should be enough evidence that I am not your enemy.” Pren returned his cold eyes and seemed about to argue, when Firia placed her fingers on his arm.

“It may contain things a father would prefer not to read about his daughter,” she said softly. Lellen flushed, but Pren interpreted that as agreement, and sighed.

“I suppose I have to trust that you will not harm her. I am displeased with her station, but I suppose I must trust also that it is true you will free her. Be forewarned, Arral Drakkon,” he said, “if I ever find that you mistreat my daughter, I will make my extreme displeasure very, very clear to you.” Arral nodded.

“Of course. As that will never happen, you are welcome in my house, sir, as are the rest of your family.” Pren nodded curtly and rose from his seat.

“Would you like to stay, Appi, Ammi? It is quite a ways back home, and I know you must be tired,” Lellen offered, then glanced at her brothers. “I am sure Naga, Seteven and Lim would like the chance to meet all of the lovely women who come in to buy fabric,” she teased.

“I have a dalla waiting for me,” Naga, the eldest, proclaimed proudly, while Lim blushed. “And he’s sweet on a cute little girl in his school class.”

“What about you, Seteven?” The teenager shook his curly hair and toed the floor. He always had been the shiest. Pren softened a little.

“We can stay for a few hours, Lellen.”

The graying man paced back and forth, angrily trying to wear a strip in the stone floor.

“What demon possessed you to fire on the Starling??” he ground out, furiously. The younger man, who was harder to see in the flickering lamplight, leaned back in his seat and placed his booted feet on the roughhewn table.

“The pilot and passengers were slavers. I figured I might as well get rid of a few while they were such easy targets.”

“You idiot! Those were my men!” The younger man shrugged.

“I didn’t know that. So you’re telling me my information was wrong? They weren’t slavers?” The slithery quality of his voice made the older man halt his pacing and advance on the half hidden one.

“They had done slaving runs before, yes. But those were just a few stupid women from the most southern continent. Your Tribe barely even trades with them. Why should you care?” The man shrugged and reached into the shadows to run his hand up and down the arm of a woman sitting there.

“Ardelia is from Semmika, which is on the southernmost continent. She’s the one who found out who it was on that insignificant ship we blew out of the sky.”

“You stupid young whelp!” the man’s hands crashed into the table, bringing his mottled red face closer to the younger man’s. “You don’t understand anything! It was not insignificant, that damn ship cost me a fortune to outfit! If you’d wanted to kill them, fine, but don’t lose the ship in the process. And those men could have been useful! Maybe they knew something about the latest information gatherer they’ve sent out about me.”

“Why should we care what the Council knows about you?” returned the indolent voice.

“Because,” the old man responded, grinding his words out vehemently, “if they arrest me, I will make sure to tell them every little detail about your great mission that they could possibly want to know. Their precious police force will be crawling through all of your hideouts before you even know what kicked you in the ass, and you, my friend, will become a slave for life, if not something worse.” The young man stood up so suddenly the older one involuntarily took a step back.

“Are you threatening me?” he hissed.

“You better believe it,” the graying man answered.

“And what’s to prevent my making sure you can’t tell anybody anything?” he snarled, his face a centimeter from the older man’s.

“You need my money,” he replied smugly. “You need my ships, and my explosives. So don’t even think of trying anything.” Turning on his heel he stalked towards the rocky concealed door.

“We won’t need you for long, old man,” a female voice said from the darkness. The man at the door laughed, a short harsh sound.

“Sure. Let me know when that miracle happens.” He opened the door with an effort, then, stepping through, let it slam.

“Oh, you’ll know,” the female voice answered. The day passed quickly – too quickly for Lellen, who was trying to catch up on her family while serving the customers as well. She even got so bold as to forget to curb her sharp tongue once, and realized what she’d said when her family fell silent, watching Arral walk up to her. It was something of a sobering experience to feel him grip her arm and propel her unresisting form to his office. She felt like they were moving in slow motion as she noted their expressions, Lim’s eyes wide in sympathy, Naga almost censuring, as if he’d learned a thing or two from his dalla, Seteven watching Arral’s approach with a measure of apprehension, her mother’s faint sympathetic smile, and her father’s keen observation of every nuance in her Master’s movement. He shut the door of the office.

“You know the rules, Lellen. No disrespectful answers. Bend over, hands on the chair, feet apart.” His voice was firm but not unkind. She glanced at the door as she pulled her skirt up. “Yes, they will be able to hear us.”

“My father…” she began.

“Your father will accept that it is my right to punish you. I am not going to hide from your family.” Silent, the slave nodded and then bent over to put her hands on the seat of the chair. Resting her forehead on the padded back, she spread her legs as wide as she knew he wanted, and waited. His hand descended with a loud smack and she sucked in her breath. Over and over it fell, till the slaps echoed in her ears and she whimpered with the pain that was rapidly building in her sore buttocks. The sting multiplied hotly, lighting fire to her tender flesh, and she bit her lip to keep from begging him, rising on her toes but otherwise keeping her hips mostly still under his hand. When her whole bottom had been smacked to an aching red, he stopped, then startled her with four hard spanks that landed on the delicate copper flesh of her inner thighs. Unable to bite it back, Lellen loosed a shriek. But then he was done. Helping her to rise, Arral tipped her face up to his and looked down into her moist violet eyes.

“You have nothing to be ashamed of, lovely one.” Lellen nodded. They exited the office to find her mother chatting pleasantly with the customers who had come in and her youngest two brothers not meeting her eyes. Naga looked a tad smug, and Lellen decided she’d have to speak to his dalla! Her father was calm, and almost as if he was less concerned now than he had been before. It was a bit strange, but she was glad for it all the same. Somehow, she felt the strength of his acceptance sweep through her, and she realized that her planet, her people had not rejected her because she was a slave. She was still important, still part of the society she had grown up with, and while she was part of the lowest class now, she was Markin, and that would never change.

 

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