The trading horn sounds loud from the docks below. Astryyd turns from her task, brushes off her apron and pulls her back to the nape of her neck. Throwing the furs about her shoulders she opens her door and steps out. A blast of chill air rushes past her and she pulls the furs tighter about her. The docks were not far so she decided to see what the traders had and wanted before lugging a barrel of mead to the docks. Upon arriving at the docks, she sees a long ship loaded with a bosk and cages of vulos and stacks of grains and fruits from the south. Two men stripped to the waste were hauling goods from the ship to the dock while a large merchant spoke with one of the village Jarls. Astyyd stood back under the shelter and poured a horn of mead for herself from the mead barrel. Smiling, she realized one of the bonds had placed a barrel of the Pumpkin Spiced mead at the docks. Smart girl. Keeping her eyes on the merchant, remembering her last incident on the docks, she absently reached down to confirm the dagger was still strapped to her thigh. It was a reassurance though she sensed no threat from this merchant.
She noticed the man make a gesture in her direction and the Jarl turned and smiled at Astryyd extending an arm beckoning her over to the conversation. She stepped boldly to the men and smiled, “Tal Jarl, Sir.” nodding from one to the other.
“Tal Lady”, the merchant swept into a low bow taking her hand and kissing it. A strange custom for sure but she simply smiled as the village Jarl introduced her as the mead maker and begin to praise the Pumpkin Spice mead that the village had grown to love.
The merchants eyes grew wide and smile spread across his face. “Pumpkin Spice mead, eh? I must be sampling this mead.”
“Have you a horn, Sir?” she asked. He turned and in a booming voice yelled to the men on the boat. “Uttuma, fetch me horn!” turning back to Astryyd. “Where can me boy fill a horn?”
“The cask by the hearth, Sir.” she watched as the man approached from the ship with a horn. He was clean and shaved except for a small tuft of hair about his chin. He lowered his head as he passedto go fill the horn with Pumpkin Spiced mead. Bringing it back to the merchant, she watched as he placed it to his lips and took a long swallow. His eyes lit up and Astryyd beamed with pride internally. Her fathers recipes had so far paid off for her.
“Lady, this is a delicacy! I simply must have some. Name your price…….better yet, I will trade you…..”, he looked around to the ship and the men working there, “I will trade you Uttuma for two large barrels.” He looked at Astryyd expectantly.
Astryyd was stunned by the offer…..a thrall? Really? She had never even considered the idea of owning slaves herself. What in the world would she do with a thrall? The village Jarl spoke up, “Ah, a thrall would be a wonderful gift for you Lady Astryyd. A strong back and weak mind is just what you need. He will make a nice bosk for you.” he chuckled. “Come here, boy, lets have a look at you.” The thrall named Uttuma stepped forward and Jarl inspected him as one would a bosk, checking muscles and teeth. Astryyd stood still stunned by the offer. “What say you Astryyd? He meets with my approval.” the Jarl laughed again.
“Good, good!!” the merchant snapped. “Let’s get that mead onboard. Uttuma, go with your new mistress and retrieve two barrels of that fine Pumpkin mead!” he turned and set about his business.
The thrall came and stood in front of Astryyd head hung low. “If mistress will show me the way…”
Astryyd stared dumbfounded for a moment then looked over the thralls shoulder at the Jarl who still had a smug grin on his face. She shot him a brief scowl and turned back to the thrall, “This way, boy” and she headed back to the brewery. The entire walk she had no idea what to say. She had never owned anyone before. Where would she house the man? She sighed and stopped mid stride and turned to him.
“You are called Uttuma?” she asked. She saw him looking around the village with wonder. It was a beautiful place.
“Yes Mistress”, he said dropping his gaze again.
Astryyd sighed and relaxed a bit. “I am Astryyd, Uttuma. It is nice to meet you.” The thrall looked like someone had smacked him stunned. There was an uncomfortable moment before Astryyd turned and continued to the brewery. They retrieved the barrels and she was quite impressed with the strength of this thrall. He carried one barrel on his back with straps and the other he carried in his arms. She thought maybe this would not be such a bad thing. They returned to the dock and delivered the barrels to the merchant.
“Ah, Lady, you will not be sorry with this trade. Uttuma is a strong back and keeps his tongue…..most of the time. Be sure to beat him regularly to keep him in his place. You will want him collared though. Do that soon.” the merchant chided and Astryyd saw a look on the thralls face that gave away the fact that the merchant must have beat him often.
She straightened her shoulders and stiffened her jaw, “I am sure he will do as I bid quite well, Jarl. Thank you for the trade.” turning she looked at the thrall, “Come, boy. Let’s get you collared and settled.” She left the dock with the thrall in tow.
Within in the evening, the man had been collared by the new blacksmith and a pallet of furs had been placed in the brewery. As she went about her normal chore of the evening, Uttuma followed her asking what he could do to please his mistress. She sent him on several errands including retrieving empty barrels from the longhall. He went about every task she gave him obediently and quickly. Once she had him settled in for the night, she went about making a list of chores for the thrall. Maybe having him around would be beneficial after all.