The foreign merchant was furious. He lifted his machete and swung it to slash the female slave for speaking without permission. In a flash, the burly slave Asparta rushed in front of her, pushing her behind him to protect her. Asparta’s eyes were filled with rage as he glared at the foreign merchant.
The foreign merchant immediately halted his actions. According to the market rules, once a trade was in the talks, it could not be cancelled regardless of whether payment had been made. This ‘merchandise’ was now considered Madam Xie’s property; hence the foreign merchant had no right to disgrace or damage it.
The female slave started crying. She desperately begged Madam Xie, “Ma’am, please! I know how to cook, I even know how to rear horses! I’ll give you massages, anything you want! Please! You can ask me to do anything, and I’ll do it as long as you let me be with my Asparta! Ma’am, please! I beg of you!”
At this moment, Asparta, too, had kneeled on the floor and kowtowed to Madam Xie. “Ma’am, if you buy Agatha and me together, I promise you, my life will be yours!”
Madam Xie never liked to buy slaves in pairs because they would be more likely to escape together once they settled down. But Madam Xie knew, if she really wanted to let the slaves she bought sacrifice their lives for her, she must first buy their hearts!
Whips and blades may force them to kneel down, but it would never make them willing to sacrifice their own lives.
Madam Xie thought carefully. “How much is this one?” She asked the slave merchant.
The foreign merchant started scheming in his mind. Eventually, he spoke. “This one… well, this slave isn’t your ordinary level of beauty. Look at her jade-colored eyes, her perky and firm breasts…. Not to mention her round and plump buttocks…. Heh heh…”
Madam Xie impolitely cut him off, “She’s a woman, a female slave will never be as valuable as a male slave.”
The foreign merchant smiled slyly, “That is true, but she is no ordinary woman! Without her, it’s no use buying Asparta!”
Madam Xie instantly knew she was being scammed by the merchant. But Madam Xie was no ordinary person; she was the woman who single-handedly brought up Cheng’an City’s King of Troublemakers, Li Chengfeng! Madam Xie gave him a cold smirk and walked a step towards the merchant, “Now, I’ll give you two options. One, I give you the normal price and bring her home; Two, she is separated from her lover and commits suicide for love. You, in turn, won’t get a penny’s worth of your investments back.” She replied.
The foreign merchant gave a forced smile, “And how would you know that?”
Madam Xie sneered, “This Asparta is obviously strong and skilled in martial arts, his hands are big and strong, I can see that across his thumb and palm are large calluses. Many scars on his chest were caused by knives and blades, and his shoulders are obviously callused as well. This must mean he was once a warrior who used to wear heavy armor and weapons! His tendons around his arms and feet have not been broken. It seems to me that he still has a lot of strength. If he really wanted to escape, you and your men would definitely not be able to stop him. The only reason why he stayed must be because of his lover. Seeing that the two of them harbor such intense love, they will definitely follow each other through life and death! If you doubt me, you could try it and see for yourself!”
The foreign merchant stared at Madam Xie. His expression changed immediately. “Ma’am, you are quite cunning. Alright, you win! Eighty-two silver pieces, take her away!” He replied slowly.
Asparta and Agatha cheered upon hearing this, embracing each other as they sobbed with joy.
The slave-trading business in Daqi was very developed, and so was the management. The ordinary slave trade transaction must have a guarantor present. This ensured that both buying and selling parties were legitimate and that the slaves were not obtained illegally. Otherwise, anyone could simply kidnap a person and sell them in the market as slaves. Wouldn’t that just lead to chaos in the market?
After Madam Xie had negotiated with the foreign merchant, they went and found a city guarantor. When the guarantor had guaranteed both parties’ legitimacy, both the buyer and seller presented their permitted license to buy and sell slaves with the city’s official seal issued by the city’s official palace. Followed by signing a contract where the buyer, seller, guarantor, and slave all agree and sign. Only then will the transaction be officially completed.
This contract was then made into three copies—one each for the buyer, seller, and guarantor. The guarantor’s copy must be filed and registered as a backup record in the government office. As well as to officiate and register the slave’s name and credentials in the papers.
Madam Xie glared at her two new slaves. “From today onwards, both of you are a part of our Li Family! You are now on Daqi’s land! Here where the sun rises, and where the sun sets, all the earth that light touches, they all belong to our Daqi! You’d better think twice before plotting any escape. Without your slave release contract and your customs clearance documents, just how far do you think you can escape to? Where COULD you escape to?” She threatened them, her tone cold as ice.
The two slaves shivered. They trembled as they knelt down to Madam Xie, signifying they were ready to surrender themselves and abide her every order.
Madam Xie nodded. As she turned around and walked away, not two steps more, she saw a slave merchant bringing along a row of shackled slaves slowly moving through the streets. These slaves were wearing very worn-out clothes made from sackcloth. Each of them looked very small and young, and all of them had a look of dull and numbness to them. Madam Xie only took a look and didn’t want to see such a sight again.
But as Madam Xie’s eyes swept to the end of the line, she suddenly locked eyes with a little girl with dishevelled hair.
This little girl was of medium height, she wore sackcloth, and her hands were bound by shackles. Although her face was dirty and tattered, she still has a beautiful face, especially her eyes. There was a look of timid and hope in her bright black eyes, making anyone feel sorry for the poor thing.
This little girl stared at Madam Xie and suddenly halted her steps. She opened her mouth and timidly shouted to Madam Xie, “Mama!”
The sound of her trembled cry was not loud, but her voice was crisp and moving. Like a sharp blade that had ruthlessly stabbed Madam Xie’s softest spot, it made her tremble as her eyes suddenly turned red, and tears welled in her eyes.
When the girl saw Madam Xie’s reaction, she immediately knelt down to Madam Xie. Poignantly shouting, “Mama! Please! Help me!!”
Madam Xie’s heart was broken by this sad and poignant cry. It felt like she was suddenly transported back in time to her painful past, where she had to take a five-year-old Li Chengfeng to flee and hide from enemies. This memory revived her innermost maternal instinct.
“Wait!” cried Madam Xie.
The slave merchant was startled. As he looked toward the direction where her finger pointed, a puzzled look appeared on his face. But the merchant’s money-making nature made him blurt out “Twelve pieces!” without even thinking.
Madam Xie, without missing a beat, immediately took out a small pouch of money. She then went towards the little girl, her gentle eyes full of warmth as she told her, “My child, you have suffered!”
The little girl knelt down and cried. “Thank you, Mama! Thank you for saving my life!”
Madam Xie knew that what this little girl had done was just a ploy to attract her attention, but she was very impressed by the little girl’s intelligence to think fast and use her own strengths to save herself in such a desperate environment. Madam Xie had already fallen for this little girl’s charms. She held up the little girl with her own hands and softly asked, “Child, what is your name?”
Wiping her tears, the girl smiled. Her sweet, bright voice rang, “Madam, my name is Su Yuehan!”
“A good name! What a good name! Come now, follow me home,” replied a delighted Madam Xie.
“Yes!” Su Yuehan answered in a crisp and chirpy voice, as she quickly followed behind Madam Xie. Asparta and Agatha, who were beside them, glanced at each other and carefully followed them home.
After Madam Xie and the slave merchant had finalized their transaction, the slave merchant who took the pouch was very puzzled and thought to himself, ‘Where did that female slave with her come from? Was she from his homeland?’
But he soon waved away that thought, ‘Who cares? I just got money for free! Only idiots would say no to that!’
But neither Madam Xie nor the slaves or the slave traders would have thought that this young girl who was now called Su Yuehan had two names before this. The previous two names being: Cheng Qianfang and Su Zhixian. She had numerous and varied identities throughout her long life: assassin, murderer, princess, consort, queen, dancer, thief, star officer, beggar, and one of her scariest identities that had never changed: demon.
And now, she had one more identity to add: a handmaiden.
Su Yuehan followed behind Madam Xie, lowering her gaze to the ground, though remaining cautious. No one saw the flash of smugness on her face and her smirk throughout the journey.