With my father's hand still on my shoulder, we walked into the enclosure. I stopped cold. On each side of the packed dirt walkway were naked females, kneeling and chained to a post from an iron collar around their neck. They had their eyes trained on the ground and the same curly tattoo on their left cheek.
"Father, what is this?" I could barely breathe.
Nicholas chuckled, "They are slaves, my dear."
"You can't be serious. It's barbaric."
"I'm dead serious. These girls, and ones like them, are my stock in trade."
I turned to him, horrified. "Your shipping business. You're a slaver!"
He bowed, smiling. "One of the most respected around."
"Obviously slavery is legal here, but what about elsewhere in this world? Is it legal everywhere?"
I was stunned to silence. Father guided me forward where we stopped in front of a female. She didn't move. There was a smaller post near the woman that had her skills and previous owners nailed to it, and the beginning bid. "Stand up," Nicholas commanded. The woman stood gracefully but still kept her eyes lowered.
He had her turn around and he checked her mouth and various other signs of health. He then pulled out some paper from his coat and handed it to me as well as a feather pen. "The feather is enchanted," he said as if this explained everything. "Write down her number." When I looked confused, he showed me where it was written on her description papers. I wrote it down.
We did the same to several other women. "Are all slaves women?" I asked.
"No, but most are. Most men are too independent and fight their slavery to their last breath."
Soon we came to different group of slaves. They still had the mark on their cheek,but they were clothed. "Why are these slaved clothed when the others aren't?"
"These are domestic, or common, slaves. The unclothed slaves are pleasure slaves."
We walked through these slaves also and I wrote down several numbers as ordered, then we left the enclosure and went to stand with all the other potential buyers in front of the main tent.
A middle age man came walking out of the tent divider and, judging by the papers in his hand, I was certain he was the auctioneer.