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My story in this anthology is “Simplicity,” in which the warrior Pimchan is sent two children as slaves. They’re white foreigners — known to Pimchan’s people as “monsters.”
excerpt from “Simplicity”
by Marian Allen
Nadia pointed to the bags and said, “You. Bring.” She mimed picking up the boxes.
The girl monster burst into sobs. The boy embraced her and said, “Don’t be afraid, Mandy. Mother and Father would want us to be brave.”
Pimchan exchanged startled looks with Nadia. Who would have suspected that monsters were civilized enough to revere their ancestors?
Nadia clapped for the children’s attention. “You speak the Beautiful Language?”
The boy nodded. The girl swallowed her sobs and nodded, as well.
“Then know that you have nothing to be afraid of. You’re now in the service of the finest Warrior and the most generous and just mistress in all the world.” It gratified Pimchan to hear Nadia say so, even though she realized Nadia had said it to aggrandize herself, not her mistress. “Her name is Pimchan, but you must always call her Mistress. My name is Nadia, and you may call me that, although you must always speak and behave to both of us with respect. You are slaves. You no longer have the names you were given elsewhere. Here, you’re Pimchan’s Male and Pimchan’s Female. If you work hard and behave yourselves, someday you may be named and freed, as I was. Do you understand?”
The girl, round eyes wide, whispered yes. The boy, a flush of something – was it pride? – on his cheekbones, jerked a grudging nod.
Nadia continued, “There are rooms for you. Actual rooms, not corners of store rooms or stables. You’re very lucky children.”
The girl began sniveling, clutching her brother’s hand.
The Warrior scowled. Nadia and Nandan had never mewled so, insofar as she knew. Of course, Nadia and Nandan hadn’t been in a land across the sea from their own people, caged and moved secretly to what might as well be the far side of the moon, where they knew no one but one another.
Pimchan said, “I will not be kept awake by a puppy taken before it was weaned. Let them share a room for the rest of the night. Begin their training in the morning, as Tyana trained you.”
She strode past the three, down the corridor to her room. From that darkness, she saw Nadia, carrying one of the boxes, directing the girl, who carried the torch, to the room Nadia had used when she was Pimchan’s Female.
Pimchan reopened the All-Father’s letter and read it again, this time reading between the lines.
Their parents were advisers to my court …. The parents were reportedly killed by footpads…. Other Fahr-ang are demanding I release these children to them, but I am disinclined to do so.
I present them to you, nameless, as is customary.
What was the All-Father dragging her into this time? What had he dragged those children into?
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character uses a child to manipulate a situation.