The [Butler Slave] slowly walks up to his master’s balcony, scroll in hand. He stops at a polite distance and bows.
“Your Eminence, the dozens of missives have been read, documented, and investigated,” he smoothly announces.
[Sultan] Chaviv, the “Eminence,” lounges in his chair, letting the [Courtesan Slave] massage his shoulders. Firm but gentle fingers rub lotion into soft skin, precisely working against muscles. An adequate purchase, Chaviv decides, both the lotion and the slave.
“Is that so,” he replies, unamused but faintly curious. As one of the wealthiest men in the world, Chaviv has enjoyed all the pleasures affluence can bring; perhaps, enjoyed too much. The mundanities of his work, his family, his life… it wears on him. His job is to run his city and create profits, which involves very little action of his own. The laws set by [Empress] Cleopatra have made ruling effectively a very hands-off approach. His only real responsibility is to make sure that the wealthy elites are happy and that [Runic Slaves] are lended to appropriate [Caravan Masters], both of which processes are mostly handled by his servants. The elites are happy so long as they stay rich and [Caravan Masters] that have been lended [Runic Slaves] before will get them again and again. If they die, then it will be their sons or daughters that will take up the class.
So yes, of course the job is boring. Everything had been running smoothly until recently. Forty seven letters from extremely wealthy individuals and a single ten-page paper from the [Auctioneer] in charge of the Grand Auction were sent to Chaviv; not a single one was read by the recipient. He has [Scribes], [Historians], and [Writers] who will sift through the various formalities and frivolities for him. Then, once they’ve done all the relevant research, and properly summed up the problem, he can have the fun of picking a solution.
“Explain the main points,” Chaviv orders and his [Slave Butler] obliges.
He unfurls a scroll and clears his throat. “A man by the name of Bone spent nearly two-hundred million gold drachme at the Grand Auction today.”
“Impressive,” Chaviv says, his curiosity peaking. “Was there an item to warrant such an excessive quantity of spending? Was another minor city being sold?”
“No, your Eminence. Bone spent such a sum on fifty auctioned items.”
Chaviv taps his chin thoughtfully. “That's quite a lot of items to buy,” he comments. The Grand Auction on any given day will sell anywhere between fifty and three hundred items, all of which are chosen by the [Auctioneer].
“And how many items were sold that day?” he asks. It isn’t common for individuals to buy a significant number of items at the auction and anger many of the wealthy elites, but it does happen.
Chaviv freezes in surprise. “Bone bought every single item at the Auction?”
The [Butler Slave] nods. “He did.”
The [Sultan] can't help but allow a smile to grace his lips. Picturing the outraged faces of the [Merchants] at the auction watching a newcomer outbid them on everything is singularly amusing. It’s not something he’s ever heard of before either. Clearly, this Bone is making a statement.
“What else can you tell me about him?” he asks.
“Bone is an adamantine rank [Necromancer] who leads a gold ranked team known as Merry Marrows. He is also responsible for dumping half a billion gold drachme worth of expensive crystal into the market and upsetting the economy.”
“Adamantine rank? I guess that explains where he got his wealth,” Chaviv muses. He shifts in his seat, glancing at the descending sun from his balcony. Today would be a bit too late, but tomorrow evening would be a good time.
“It’s a bit early in the week, but call a royal assembly tomorrow. Invite everyone involved, including Bone. I would like to assess this man myself and see if any form of punishment or action should be taken.”
“Of course, your Eminence. Do you wish for me to leak your dress or do you wish me to keep it hidden?”
Chaviv waves his hand lazily. “No need. They have many networks available to discreetly observe my clothing. Let them use them.”
“It will be done, your Eminence.”
The [Sultan] watches his [Butler Slave] leave. At the same time, he feels a firmer pressure on his shoulders.
“Four hours!” Jessica whines at a table in the inn with her hands on the side of her head. “It took you four hours to piss off half the jewelers and important people in the city! All that money, at those angry people, just to buy it all out?”
Quasi snorts and leans back in his chair. “You make it sound like it should have taken longer.”
“That’s… ugh,” Jessica shakes her head and turns to the other female of the group, “What do you think about this?” she asks.
Fiona shrugs. “What is there to think about? As [King], my husband has every right to spend his wealth however he deems fit.”
Abernick leans forward. “Fiona, I don't think she is upset about Quasi spending his money. It's the fact that he can accrue then spend enough money to buy a small kingdom within a few hours without notifying anyone.”
“Thank you!” Jessica says to the [Grand Necromancer].
Before the conversation can continue, Naunet arrives with plates stacked with a foreign delicacy, along with a large jug of imported syrup.
“Master Bo-Quasi,” she quickly amends, “I used my [Perfect Attempt] skill to make these, um, waffles, as you call them. Are they to your liking?” She places each plate in front of the four at the table.
Quasi looks down and finds, indeed, a waffle, though of darker pallor than the traditional golden brown thanks to the wheat flour available. It will have to do.
“Only one way to find out,” Quasi says determinedly. He grabs the jug of syrup and prepares to smother the waffle in diabetic goodness, only to pause as his tophat is lifted up.
A loud chirp comes from over his head, then a bird the size of a fist hops down on the table. The hatchling spreads its nascent blue, yellow, and red feathered wings and pounces on Quasi’s waffle, ripping into it like it is prey. The bird swallows a chunk and chirps happily.
“You bought a bird too?” Jessica exclaims in annoyance.
“Jessica!” Quasi cries in mock hurt. “Do you truly believe I burn away so much money for just a bird?”
Jessica, Abernick, and Fiona all share a look.
“Yes.” Jessica replies.
“I mean…” Quasi trails off, pensive. He shrugs. “You’re not wrong, but still! This is no simple bird, no lesser avian!”
He pauses for dramatic tension. Jessica rolls her eyes. “This is a phoenix,” Quasi continues, “but not just any phoenix!” The bird voraciously rips apart the waffle with great gusto. “This is Barglesmash, Slayer of Waffles,” he exclaims proudly, at the same time as the bird tears the waffle in half like a [Warrior] slaughtering another. Then it chirps with its head held high in complete and absolute victory.
Fiona snorts loudly and Abernick offers a deadpan stare. Jessica just glares at Quasi, and then the bird.
“You just named it, didn’t you?” she asks, despite already knowing the answer.
“Master Quasi, do you want me to make another waffle?”
Jessica’s glare shifts to Naunet. “Why did you have to buy her too? Arent you against slavery?”
“I am, and I wouldn't have if I didn't need to buy everything at the auction. Also, I’ll free her or whatever.”
Naunet frowns in disapproval. “Master, my freedom isn’t possible except for the two situations specified in the Ptolemaic Law.”
Quasi rolls his eyes. “[Slave] is just a class. It can be removed easily if you just accept freedom.”
Naunet shakes her head. “Freedom such as that is against the law. I will not break my oaths,” she says resolutely with utmost conviction.
Jessica frowns. “Your oaths are stupid,” she states.
Abernick rolls his eyes as he leans forward and grabs the jug of syrup. He puts a small, unrespectable amount on his waffle before placing the jug on the table. “That's a bit hypocritical considering your own oath of celibacy.”
“It's not the same,” Jessica shoots back, “I would lose my class if I broke it.”
“So would Naunet,” Abernick chimes back while shoving a piece of waffle with an unacceptable amount of syrup on it into his mouth.
“That's not right. Her oaths harm her, mine don’t,” Jessica says meekly.
Fiona slices her waffle and raises a piece to her mouth. “Because of your oaths, you can’t have any children and my husband needed to thoroughly fuck your mother until she got pregnant,” she says while licking the waffle in a way that leaves little to the imagination before shoving the piece into her mouth.
Jessica’s cheeks turn bright red as she splutters at the [Bandit Queen]’s words. She looks at Quasi to glare at him for what he had done, but that only causes her to imagine things she does not wish to think about.
Naunet frowns disapprovingly at the teasing. “Master, do you wish for me to make more waffles?” she asks again, trying to change the subject.
“Mmmm, sure. You should make some for yourself too,” he pauses and looks around the inn, “Are you sure it’s fine to still stay here, what with the owner being dead?”
She nods slowly. “Asim’s Omari has no immediate family to take ownership of this building. If no family shows up within a week, which is currently not possible as they live within another city, he will have forfeited the building and all items within. Then, the building will be auctioned.”
“But [Slaves] are immediately auctioned,” Quasi notes, remembering that he had left her and then bought her at the auction literally hours later.
“A [Slave] must be serving their master at all times as is written in Ptolemy Law.”
“How big is this law?” Fiona asks curiously.
“Seventeen thousand pages,” Naunet says, “all of which I have memorized if you wish to know more.”
“Memorized that much? That’s rath-” Fiona cuts herself off as the leather entrance covering is pushed aside and two well-equipped [Palace Guards] march into the inn.
One clears his throat. “I am looking for the one named…” he checks the scroll he’s holding, “Bone. I have a message to deliver from the palace.”
Naunet straightens her posture and walks towards the men. “I am Naunet, [Head Slave] to master Bone. I will accept the message and inform him of its contents,” she bows slightly, but not too low or too long. They are only [Palace Guards], after all.
Without blinking, the guard with the scroll steps towards her and hands her the scroll. Then, both guards turn and leave.
Once they are gone, Naunet turns around and walks back to the table and the surprised group.
Abernick raises an eyebrow. “They just gave it to you? I would think they would wish to hand it to Quasi first.”
“A [Slave] is treated as the master's voice and hand. Giving me a message is considered the same as giving it to my master.” Naunet explains. She turns her head to Quasi. “Do you wish me to read the message for you, master?”
“Uh, sure,” Quasi says with a smile. He’s actually quite impressed with how she handled everything. Especially how she kept his real name hidden. Granted, he was also surprised that upon becoming his [Slave], she had intuitively learned his full name through a skill called [Sense Master].
She unfurls the scroll and her eyes move quickly, reading several pages worth of content in less than a minute. When she finishes, she refurrels the scroll and frowns.
“His eminence, [Sultan] Chaviv Bensaid has ordered you to appear at the palace early tomorrow morning for the central court proceedings to be questioned and possibly tried for allegations of disrupting the market.”
“For such a long scroll, that seems like a pretty short message,” Abernick comments.
“The [Sultan]’s court tends to use a great deal of flowery words and explanations in their messages along with quotes of all relevant laws. I have merely taken the initiative to omit everything but the message,” she explains dutifully, though her frown is still on her face.
Abernick sighs. “Looks like your plan was a success,” he takes another bite of waffle, “though I was expecting a more favorable meeting instead of actually being tried.”
“Nothing ever goes as planned for Quasi,” Jessica says with such absolute honesty that the entire table goes silent. Barglesmash hops across the table to her plate and starts devouring her untouched waffle.
Fiona starts laughing, followed by Abernick, and finally Jessica laughs too, all except for Naunet who stands by, lost and confused.
She gives Quasi a puzzled look, but her master merely waves it aside with a smile on his face. “It’s fine,” he says, enjoying the laughter of his team at his expense.
Quasi waits for the laughter to die down before he turns to Naunet. “Looks like I’ve got a meeting tomorrow. Anything I need to know about it?”
Naunet perks up. “Yes. [Sultan] Chivav did not mention his attire anywhere in the letter.”
“Attire? Why do his clothes matter?” Quasi asks.
Naunet quickly bows. “Apologies, master. I forget you are foreign to the laws and traditions. The showing of flesh within the sands is sacred. It is expected that those of a lower cast be clothed more than those of a higher cast,” Naunet points at her very conservative attire, “As a [Slave], I am expected to show as little skin as possible or risk insulting my master. A commoner is expected to show less skin than a [Noble] and everyone must always be more covered than the [Sultan] or risk gravely insulting him.” She pauses and glances at Quasi’s shoulder. “It’s also expected that all capes must be shorter than the [Sultan], though since you don’t seem to wear one, that’s not a problem.”
Quasi raises an eyebrow. “So, what? I have to make sure I show less skin and wear a shorter cape than the [Sultan] without knowing what he will wear?”
Naunet nods slowly. “Yes, though I think your current dress and clothing will be acceptable. [Sultan] Chivav very rarely wears anything more than a simple short toga and a cape that reaches his ankles.”
“Well, that explains why so many people are covered even when the weather doesn't seem that bad,” comments Quasi, remembering how most people were covered from head to toe in the market and that the only people he saw with less clothing were in the more expensive and high class parts.
“So Naunet, does that mean you can never show any more skin than your hands and face?” Fiona asks.
Naunet shakes her head. “These traditions do not apply to my master and his immediate family. If my master or those he lives with ask me to wear less clothing at his home or in private, then it’s completely acceptable for me to do so.”
Fiona’s smile widens. “So, as Quasi’s wife, if I were to order you to take off all your clothes in private around me, you would be fine with it?”
Naunet nods. “So long as the Master does not forbid it, you may even ask me to pleasure you.”
“What!?” Jessica blurts out in anger. “You can’t make her do that! That’s horrible!” she exclaims in growing outrage.
Naunet frowns. Her hands go to her hips as she glares. “Miss Jessica, that is slander. As a [Slave], it is my duty to assist the family with their needs. If they have sexual urges that require my body, then it is expected and most honorable that I assuage them,” Naunet retorts, “and my skills are anything but ‘horrible.’”
Jessica’s mouth is wide open with abject surprise.
Fiona, the morally questionable [Bandit Queen], chuckles deeply. “Tonight is going to be a lot of fun.”
[Sultan] Chaviv takes a seat on his throne. He looks at his subjects, noting their clothing. The poorer [Nobles], those with little money and connections are wearing clothing that covers most of their body. Upon seeing him, many of them immediately remove their head wrapping. As for the wealthy, they wear clothing slightly more covering that his short toga. Even their capes, though broad, are a centimeter smaller than his own. They have used their connections and wealth to obtain information of his choice of clothing in advance.
Once again, he looks at the crowd of people, noting their postures and expressions. He sees many eager and curious faces. It's quite clear to Chaviv that they wish to see Bone punished for his brazen spending. They have taken his spending as a direct insult to them. Regardless of how they feel, it is his job to see if it was intended or not.
He clears his throat and calls up his aura. “Send him in,” he commands, filling the room with his intent.
The large stone doors open slowly and Bone enters.
Curses, gasps, and screams of outrage ring throughout the audience.
Bone walks forward with a cane in one hand, a large hat on his head, a mask reminiscent of a skull on his face, a flowing three meter golden cape with a lion mane on his shoulders…
… and nothing else.