I was awakened by two slavegirls. They were dressed in their very short tunics, brazenly open in the side, showing too much of their flesh for my liking, for my inner calm.
They attended to me, but made no secret of my status, of what I was. They were attentive but cold, they showed me no affection. When we were done, they brought me through a long corridor to a room where I was greeted by the Slaver.
I had no reason to show him any respect but politeness made me bow my head in his presence. He smiled at me and bowed his head in mock courtesy. He looked me over, from head to toe. I was glad I was still in my robe.
All was lost, I knew that. My freedom gone, lost to some dreadful scheme, some plan I didn't even know about, a plan that would benefit someone other than me. I was a pawn, although a valuable pawn, but I had been sacrificed, sacrificed or utilised.
'It is time, my lady,' the Slaver said and bowed to me while making a gesture towards the door.
'Time for your triumph,' I replied, not wanting to give him the pleasure of seeing me humble myself, not before him, not yet.
I knew the time for him to triumph, for him to see me being degraded, was to come. There was no turning back, now, no way out, but I would keep my head as high as I could, for as long as I could.
He clapped his hands and, instead of the two slavegirls, two young men entered. They were dressed in tunics and sandals, but although they were servants those were the tunics of free men.
I was taken from the room, the two guards by my side and the Slaver in tow. We stopped at the foot of a stair. Sun was shining in through the doorway at the top and I could smell the day outside. It was a hot day.
I stood in the shadow awaiting my turn to climb those stairs. I heard the noise from the commotion outside, the people shouting, the growling and barking of angry men, eager men.
I heard my name being called. I heard a voice call 'the former...' before the roar drowned the announcer. I didn't know what title he had given me, but whichever one he had chosen, it was gone now, stolen from me, and could never be given back.
I climbed the stairs with my two young attendants. I was moving from the shade, into the sun, and it was as if this transition spelled my doom, signified my move from freedom to captivity.
The Slaver entered the stage with me and was greeted by the Auctioneer. He nodded at the Slaver and looked me over. Then he turned to the crowd.
We were standing on a platform that was built from stone, attached to the Slaver's house, his castle, where he kept his stock.
As I got used to the scorching sun, I saw the sea of heads below me. The square in front of the Slaver's castle was packed with people. Most of them were men, staring and smiling men. Some were women, but not many.
I had been at the square, myself, and I had been bidding on girls on this very platform. Never had I seen the place so crowded as now.
When I had been the buyer, I had looked at the girls, tried to assess their assets, tried to figure out if they were strong enough or lithe enough, what I could use them for. I had partly been a calm and collected buyer, but partly I had pitied them, thought they had looked miserable and scared as they stood in their nudity, being watched by the crowd.
'Strip,' the Auctioneer said, his voice authoritative but calm.
'No,' I replied.
He took a long and hard look at me. Then he turned to the crowd.
'The lady doesn't wish to show her assets to you. She prefers to keep her clothes on.'
The people laughed. He turned to me.
'But how will they know what they are buying, if you don't take your clothes off?'
'I will not take them off,' I replied.
'We are waiting.'
'Strip,' he repeated, a lot more menace in his voice, this time.
He made a gesture with his hand and I felt hands grip my arms. It was my two young attendants. I knew there was no point in resisting it. There was no way out.
I felt my robe being torn down from my shoulders, revealing my body. I felt the fabric of my dress slide over my skin, with a sense of disbelief.
I had never been naked in the presence of men. The only ones who had been allowed to see my body had been my mother and my maidens in waiting. It was unthinkable for a woman of my standing to reveal her body in public. Yet it was done to me.
The Auctioneer nodded again, and I felt my robe being pulled down from my hips and in an instant, I stood naked in front of the crowd.
My pride forbid me to try to cover up, although there was not much pride left for me. There is no pride allowed for a slave, there was none allowed for me. I had been stripped naked on the Slaver's platform. I was to be sold and the buyers had to be allowed to assess my assets.
The crowd went wild. They stared at me, leered at me, shouted and me and cheered. They cried out at the Auctioneer and I heard bids being given.
I wondered why they were so excited. Surely it couldn't be the sight of a naked woman, a naked me, that excited them. There were naked women on this platform, every day.
Was it because I was of noble birth, that I had lost my standing and now they could enjoy the sight of me being humiliated in public?
Another thought entered my mind. I heard the bids and knew I was selling for more than most slavegirls were sold for. I was valuable.
An unwelcome pride about being valuable struggled with the overwhelming shame of having to stand naked before the people, being auctioned off like an animal. I was valuable and it spoke to my vanity. Together with that sensation came the bitter pang of the knowledge that I had been stolen, that I would not gain from my sale. I was to be given nothing. It was the miserable and fat Slaver, who stood licking his lips, who would make a profit. I was the commodity.
When finally one bidder had outbid the rest, I went for a price at least ten times more than I had ever paid for a slave, even for a strong young man. I stood rooted to the spot, watching the proceedings as if they didn't concern me, as if it was someone else, not me, being sold.
When my buyer presented himself, I saw who he was. I knew him well. He was a man who had been a guest in our house, who had looked at me with lust in his eyes and a cruel smile on his lips, the man whom my father had rejected as my fiancé, who had undone my father's bid for power, and made it clear he would take his revenge. I knew, in my heart, that it was he who had planned my enslavement. I knew all to well that he had made this happen. And now he had bought me, now he owned me, and I was not even to be his wife, I was to be his slave, his property.