It’s been a week now, since Jaxan has joined as our household slave. The words household slave are bitter on my tongue.
Whatever conversation my wife had with Jaxan in regards to the time available to renegotiate the contract, I asked not to know in the end. I don’t want to know, and I explained that I wouldn’t talk about it again, that in the end, Jaxan was a child I now felt cuckolded by, and whatever terms of the Oath that child needed to have met was my wife’s responsibility and not mine.
I can’t say Thalica was happy about it, but the subject was dropped and I’ve currently been informed that her moon passed completely yesterday, and she was… able.
I’m twenty-four and newly wed. Even if I can be a stubborn ass, when my wife is making an obvious invitation to bed, I will take it. And it was nice, as it had been. It was the ending to the first tumble in the covers that we took which immediately began a new argument.
Contraceptives in this world come in the form of questionable potions brewed by alchemists, and are not cheap at all. So, I decided to engage in the gambler’s contraceptive instead. Just not giving her the frosting injection.
Mrs. Thalica is a mother of two children. She knows how babies are made in the crudest sense. A man plants his seed and a baby grows in the soil of her womb. So when I did all that digging and left the seeds out, she became upset.
Am I at fault? Yes, of course I am.
Would I like to have a child with Tally? Sure, but I’m not exactly trying to jump into fatherhood with both feet here. Even I’d like to establish some financial stability first. We’re making money, there’s no question of it, and it’s about ten times what she was making before my arrival into her life.
I have never once lorded that fact over her.
Instead, I’m working hard to make more money. It occurs to me that I’m acting like my own father, but I’m different in that my work is at home, and I make time for the children. Even if they aren’t mine by blood, they come part-and-parcel with Tally as members of my family, and I will treat them as I feel I would treat my own children with Mrs. Thalica, should that day ever come to pass.
I had created the rules to the trading card game, and three starter decks from carefully torn paper. Fire, Plant, and Water decks. I went with the whole Fire scorches Plant, Plant drinks water, and Water quenches Fire kind of motif.
Of course once the children learned the rules, they couldn’t stop playing it in their free time. There were times when I saw Jaxan looking on curiously, and it wasn’t until this morning, she had gathered the courage to ask if she could borrow my deck to play a game together with the children.
“Would you like your own deck?” I asked her.
“I…” she hesitated. Whenever the word want was about to leave her mouth, she hesitated. I handed over my deck to her at that point, not saying a word further, but receiving one of thanks in return.
She knew how to be polite.
Tally had bought a small chest recently, in it there are many bottles of wine. If she wants to turn to that as consolation, that’s fine, it’s clearly my fault. Thankfully, she at least waits until her children retire to bed first before she opens it up.
I’ve gotten my hands on hazelnuts now from Zedron, and I’ve been working on creating marshmallows. It’s difficult to do without corn syrup, but it’s possible. I’ve succeeded about once in ten tries, and now I’m preparing to create that. The ultimate PB&J sandwich… the Two-point-oh. Yeah, two slices of bread, one with almond butter, hazelnut spread, and marshmallow fluff, and the other containing blueberry jam, raspberry jam, and apple jam, which is surprisingly one of the most requested jams in the store.
It’s such a commodity, that we had to purchase actual jars. We sell a full jar of it for one silver coin. There haven’t been too many purchases of it, but it’s sold. And it made Tally happy to sell a single thing in this store for so much. She’d gone from two loaves a copper to one silver a jar.
She also doesn’t treat Jaxan poorly at all, but she’s still her master.
The shop now officially closes at three bells, something she painted on a sign out front listing our business hours. We’re closed one day a week now, the rest of the week we’re open from sunup. So roughly 6AM-3PM. I still wake with Tally around 4:30AM to get started, and yes, the basic brown bread is still being made along with the others, it’s just that Jaxan is the one gaining experience in making it, being taught diligently by my wife.
After the shop closes, Jaxan, Tally, and I clean up. Now that I’ve gotten most of the decks done over the last week, and only have individual card creation to do work on for the eventual promotional releases and booster packs, we each take turn making food. Well, Mrs. Thalica and I mostly, for now. She intends to teach Jaxan as well, for obvious reasons.
Jaxan is allowed to take a break, and when she does, she plays with the children. I’ve basically given here the deck I made for myself at this point. Of the three children, she’s by far the best, as would be expected of her age, however the one who pushes her to the limits in the game isn’t Nefetina, but Trevorkane.
“I give double Fire mana to my Red Dragon Pup, and I invoke the skill breath of fire! Haha! That’s sixty damage! Let’s see you survive that, Jax!”
“Hmm… I use my trap card, Tricky Treant, to take the attack!”
“It was a Tricky Treant you had face down the whole time!? Why didn’t you use it before?”
“Because it was easier to take the thirty regular damage and live long enough to damage you back. Now I can use my item Cure Potion to heal that damage, give nature mana to my Dryad, and cast charming kiss on your Red Dragon Pup!”
“Aw man… Charmed again!?” Trev complained.
“Yup, that’s twenty damage. I discard my nature mana, and you have to wait one turn before you can attack again. Furthermore, I have the field card Quake Zone in effect, so the shaking of the ground causes an extra ten damage.”
“You’re…. cheating!” He complained, knowing full well she wasn’t.
“Look at my TK losing like a Poo-poo-head!” Nefe, who was watching the game with interest taunted her brother.
“Shut up pee-pee-tina! Go pee-pee on your water deck! You can’t even beat me anymore and I’ve got a type disadvantage!”
He said this shamelessly as he had just been outplayed by Jaxan when he had the type advantage against her.
“Shall we finish it up, young master?”
She had another nature mana card, and took the remainder of his last monster pet’s health, winning the battle.
Trev fell backwards and yelled and kicked the ground.
“I hate it that you’re so good! Why are you so good, Jax!? You couldn’t even read properly until Nefe taught you!”
“I… don’t know? But it’s really fun to play against you.”
“Yeah. It’s super fun! I’ll beat you next time!”
Jaxan has fit into our household properly, the one still holding his peace is me. She’s a good girl. Smart as a whip, just lacking the opportunity. I truly lament what would have happened if she had ended up with someone who didn’t treat her well.
For the record, she’s fifteen years old, tomboyish in nature, and incredibly clever. She’s had no formal education to speak of, and not many prospects in the way of a significant other being at the marriageable age. To her, the choice to become a slave she truly felt was something of a lifeline.
I just can’t understand it, that’s all there is to it.
But aside from the awkwardness between us because of this matter, my wife treats her like she would a member of the family… like a cousin who came to stay for a while. So that’s just how it is now.
Today is my day to cook Sup, and I’m making spaghetti with a meat sauce. We have beef today, and along with a cleaver I purchased, I was motivated to make some food I enjoyed. The kids love noodles, and again with the cleaver, making things like fresh spaghetti noodles has gotten way easier.
Peeled stewed boiled tomatoes, garlic, onions, finely diced bell peppers, mushrooms, and when served over the pasts, grated cheese. The scent of garlic was heavenly to me.
The first couple of days Jaxan would wait for us to finish eating before she would start, but I wasn’t having any of it. Rather than command her, or have my wife do it the easy way, I added a place at the table, physically picked her up and deposited her into the seat I prepared.
“Eat now, or choose to go hungry. We eat as a family here.”
My rough attitude towards her seemed to frighten everyone at first until they understood my intention. At least I hope they understood. I’ve never handled either Nefe or Trev roughly, nor do I plan to. There are better ways to discipline them should the need arise, but it sure as hell won’t be over missing a meal.
There is also an addition of toasted garlic bread which I thought was nice. How badly I crave that white cheese that is almost the glue to hold this type of cuisine together. Zedron promised he was looking into getting some of it for us.
Speaking of Zedron, I have a meeting with him when the store closes tomorrow. I’m going to be explaining the game as the children play it in front of him, so he understands the fundamental reason why this game is going to let him sleep on a bed made of platinum coins.
Also, I want to take everyone out and get them some new clothes. We have the coin for it, and Jaxan, while having being loaned a set of Tally’s clothes at my request since all she has was essentially a single dress that was borderline rags, needs a few sets of her own. Things needed to be accounted for, such as having an extra set ready for when her moon inevitably comes, and that is sonot my department.
I’m glad I was born a dude, just saying.
Then there is the final matter, solving the situation of where to put Jaxan. She needs to be able to sleep in a room and not the first floor. It would be ideal if she could have a space in the children’s room, but unless this world has bunk beds, it might be much asking her to share a bed with Nefetina, since the little princess is prone to nighttime accidents.
She is, and god love her, as Trevorkane so succinctly puts it, Pee-pee-tina.
But even so, I do love this family.
“Say what now?”
“I’m saying if you want her to sleep in a room, it will be our room she sleeps in.”
“Are you even listening to yourself, Tally?”
She sighed. “She’s a woman, Gar.”
“That’s all the more reason, Tally!”
“This is how things are done. If she was even fourteen, I would allow it still, but she’s a grown woman. It’s not right to quarter her with the children.”
“So even the mighty Oath that’s so damn important isn’t worth anything here?”
“It’s not a matter of that Gardavan, it’s a custom. Adults do not share rooms with children, it has nothing to do with her being our household slave. Even I had to change rooms when I came of age.”
“Gar, I have accommodated everything I could within reason, haven’t I? Like you can’t back down on hating me for taking her in a slave for her own benefit, as well as our own, I can’t back down on this.”
“Just explain it. There has to be a reason.”
“She’s a woman. That is the damn reason! She’s not a girl, but a woman. She’s passed her moon, that makes her a woman. Fourteen is the threshold, but a proper family would move her into an adult’s room as soon as she had it!”
“Wait… this is because of her…?”
My wife nodded.
“She’s an adult. A woman. The same thing would apply if it was man, Gar. This is why I wanted her now. By the time her servitude was over, we would have had one, maybe two children together, and if we don’t somehow move into a better household, it would be time for Nefetina to stay with us until she’s married.”
I held out my hands.
“Okay. Let’s say somehow I’m accepting this as a thing. I’m not saying I am, this is purely hypothetical here, but we… do that at night.”
“And that wouldn’t change.”
“Honey. Angel… My beloved. Are you telling me we are going to be doing that in the same room, at night, with Jaxan present?”
“How else do you learn?”
I swore a whole lot, using words from foreign languages I wasn’t even aware I knew.
“You seriously find nothing wrong with this?”
“There is nothing wrong with this.”
“I’m going to talk to that wall,” I said, while pointing to the nearby wall, “because I truly believe it is more capable of rational conversation right now than you are!”
“Alright. She cannot stay in the children’s room, but you want her to not sleep on the first floor. Then either you figure out her sleeping arrangements, or you stop being so damn stubborn! This isn’t your homeland… that land of Earth you are from. This is Avondale, and this is how things are done here!”
She put her foot down.
“You don’t find it weird or uncomfortable?”
“She will have her own bed for Goddess’ sake! Unless you are suddenly harboring desires for her to share ours?”
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid, Tally!”
Again a sigh.
“Gar, please… don’t make me go downstairs for a bottle of wine over this. When I was Fourteen, I got my moon. I was moved into the adult’s room, and stayed there for a year. Then I met my husband, and we fell in love. I was educated in such a way, and because of that I wasn’t afraid of my first night with my husband. Do you have any idea how frightening it would be if I had not known what to expect and what to do?”
“So you… did those things when you moved rooms?”
“No. But that’s when the education on how to be an adult is begun. Jaxan has not received it properly. This is part of the reason I had Gemma find someone just like her. I will be providing her with the knowledge she should have learned from her parents, Gar. They are debtor slaves now, the ties of their family are cut, and she has no one. She’s too old for the orphanages, what do you want me to do?”
“So this is all just neatly buried under some kind of blanket act of charity?”
“Yes, husband. But it’s not all charity. She is expected to serve our household and in return all the things she needs to survive when it is over, will be hers.”
“She’s fifteen now. This is a marriageable age, right?”
“Anytime after a woman’s first moon is of such an age. Fourteen is considered the standard as you are an adult then, one way or another.”
“So what happens when she finds a partner to marry?”
My wife shook her head.
“For her it will not be until her crest is gone. It is forbidden to slaves to marry during their service, excepting certain situations."
"It is the marriage of two slaves who have no end to their servitude. Lifelong slaves, and only with the approval of their masters.”
“Let me guess, that child is born a slave.”
“Nonsense. The child is taken as a member of the family the slaves are a part of. Or in cases where the slaves who marry are not of the same family, it is either decided beforehand, or in the case of a son to the family of who his father serves, or a daughter, to the mother’s. This is why permission is needed. This is not just local to Avondale, Gar. This is something that exists throughout the continent. If you go to another town, you will see there is no difference. This is also not specific to the Goddess. This is just how things are.”
“You say nonsense like I should know, but that’s where things differ from my homeland. Slaves could marry and have children, and those children would be slaves as well for their entire lives. They would even be encouraged to have many, children in fact. Some would be sold away, the rest put to work on large plantations.”
“Again, Gar, this isn’t your homeland. There is no war being fought over slavery because it’s not a lifelong sentence unless you’re a major criminal, like a bandit or a murderer. What Jaxan did is a perfectly normal thing when you consider her circumstances. It’s a fair term meant to give her the most benefit in exchange for the large amount of help she is going to be. Don’t you understand? She’s not going to be here forever. She will have her own life to live after this, with my blessing. It’s not even unreasonable for her to think of me as a mother or older sister for the rest of her life… Though you seem to be set on making me out to be some wicked mistress. Why do you think I went to see Gemma? Because I could trust her to find someone that would be the least likely to cause a problem for us.”
Thalica put her arms around my waist.
“Please don’t hate me for trying to do what I believe was the right thing. It hurts me, badly, that my husband thinks of me as some kind of barbarian, when it’s only ever been the opposite.”
“If you stop talking now, you win.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Jaxan can warm your bed tonight.”
She smiled. “Maybe you’d like that, but you’d be downstairs, and I’d still be warm.”
She walked away from me, and I was left shaking my head.