The silence around the farm was deadly. Not one of us dared to speak.
We were woken amid the night, violently, by guards who busted through our shack and pulled the chains that bound our limbs.
I jolted awake, unsure of what was going on. Only knowing of the severe pain, I was feeling throughout my body as the guard dragged me from the shack and onto the open farm. I landed in the hard dirt that was burnt from the hot days.
My messy dark hair fell around my body and stuck to my moist narrow features.
God forbid black and grey-furred werewolves walked amongst the others. As royals, the King and Queen had fur white as snow. The noblemen, their fur was either silver or gold. The commoner’s fur was red or brown.
Then there was me, Deonna, fur as black as coal.
The pain in my chest was so great I could hardly stand to my feet. I nearly fell over but thankfully my slave friend Kamala stood beside me and kept me on my feet.
She gave me one glance before whispering, “Keep your chin up and your back straight. If they think you are going to die soon, they will hunt you.”
The guards finished gathering the slaves around the farm and they stood behind us as the head guard, Jasper, took his place in front of us. He stood tall and proud; he was the most feared out of all the guards. He decided our fate; whether we lived or died.
“Good news, slaves. You’re getting out of here. The king had ordered that you be sent to the homes of the nobles as a prize.”
We stared at each other, riddled in fear. Confused as to what he meant.
I was only at the slave farm for a couple of years.
At the young age of 3 years old, I was adopted by a commoner family, and we lived in a small village south of the continent. At the time, commoners were allowed to hold slaves as their own. Some commoners even allowed slaves to be a part of their families.
I was lucky enough to be a part of a family. I obtained an education. I learned about slavery in different regions of the world. How black and grey-furred wolves weren’t particularly liked or respected in most areas but if I stayed in the commoner’s village, I would be protected.
For most of my childhood, I lived in fear. I feared being taken away from my family and made into a real slave like the others in different regions. I feared the noblemen ripping my home apart and collecting all the “dirtballs” as they called us.
But still, it happened.
My family was able to protect me until a couple of years ago when I turned 15. That was the year the king changed the law. It came to horror to my parents and the other commoners around us, but they were no longer allowed to hold slaves in their homes or towns. All slaves were to be rounded up and sent to the higher-ranked hierarchy. Slaves under the age of 18 would be sent to the slave farm to properly train for their lifetime of duties.
The rules of the farm were simple. We weren’t allowed to speak until given permission. We weren’t allowed to complain, cry, or express any sort of pain or emotions. We weren’t allowed to leave our bunkers unless given permission. We only ate and drank when food was provided to us. Whatever tasks were given to us, must be completed within the provided timeline. We couldn’t talk amongst each other unless permission was granted. Any violations of those rules would result in a severe beating. We couldn’t shift. So that we could protect ourselves after years of being chained.
Like most of the slaves on the farm, I was underaged. I wasn’t due to go to a nobleman’s home until I was at least 18 years old. Only one more year, and that was only if I lived to become 18.
Some of the older slaves on the farm were either too old, too weak, or too sick to be put in the home of a noble.
My body was trembling as Jasper looked amongst our faces; there was no expression on his face.
“In your shacks, I have posted the names of each noble family. It’s up to you to decide who to go with. You will present to your assigned guards your decision by morning,” Jasper announced as he motioned for the guards to come to collect us.
One by one we were being dragged back towards our shacks. I had to work to keep up the pace of everyone else. My breathing was crisp as I tried to maintain my rapid heart rate. I swallowed hard as nausea overtook me.
I had to keep reminding myself: not here; I couldn’t throw up here.
Once we got back to the shack, I went towards my assigned area. Kamala and I were placed towards the corner. We slept on piles of straw and remained in our chains. They were afraid of what we’d do if they took away the chains. These chains were the only things keeping us from transferring into our wolf forms.
They kept us weak.
As stated, on the wooden walls of the shack, there was a long piece of paper with the names of the noble families. After what felt like a lifetime of silence, one of the slaves, Stasha, stood and made her way toward the paper.
She read the paper silently to herself; her face showed nothing but worry. She stumbled backward as though keeping her own weight on her feet was painful. After another breath of silence, Kamala finally stood and made her way towards the paper as well. I followed pursuit, wincing as I pulled myself to my feet. I held onto my chest and made my way towards the paper.
There were 12 names for each of the 12 slaves. We had to choose one family each to go with.
I looked at Kamala; a fear of being separated from her. During my time on the farm, she has taken care of me. She’s the only one who knows about my medical condition, and she’s helped me manage it so it wouldn’t be as noticeable.
She helped keep me alive.
Now, I was losing her.
“It’s going to be okay,” she whispered as she assessed my face. “Just keep breathing.”
I did as she said and maintained a steady breath; I inhaled slowly and exhaled even slower. Attempting to keep my heart rate steady; slowly pain in my chest subsided, and I felt myself calming down.
The other slaves began gathering around and reading the names we had to choose from. One girl, Laya, pointed at a name in particular.
“The Roessler’s,” she said, her lips forming a thin line as she stared at the name.
We all turned to look at what she was pointing at; The Roessler Family.
I didn’t know much about them, but back when I lived in the village with my family before, I was taken to the farm, I remember reading about the Roessler family in a newspaper. Marlon Roessler was known to be the most racist nobleman; he was also the highest-ranked nobleman.
Being assigned to the Roessler’s would mean being assigned to death.
“Well, someone has to,” another slave said; I didn’t know where that voice came from.
“We draw straw,” A slave said. “The one who picks the shortest straw will go to the Roessler’s.”
Laya opened her mouth to argue but another slave quickly placed her hand over Laya’s mouth.
“It’s the fairest solution,” the slave told her.
One by one each of us picked a straw; I saw the flood of relief from each girl as they picked a long straw. However, that relief didn’t last long as they remembered they still needed to pick another name off the list.
By the time it got to me, there were only a couple of straws left.
I grabbed onto the straw.
Taking in a shaky breath, I stumbled backward. I looked at the concerned gazes as I fell into the mound of straw that sat in my corner. I tried to count my breaths to maintain my heart rate again but the dizziness that overtook me made it nearly impossible.
I looked at the concerned faces of those around me until my eyes landed on Kamala who was rushing towards my side.
“Deonna?” She asked softly, placing her fingers across my forehead. Her palm was instantly damp from my sweat, and she wiped it on the rags she wore. “Deonna, breathe,” she said to me. But her voice was distorted. “Stay with me…” was the last thing I heard before everything went dark.