Another kind of pit

« August 2008  

Sunlight glistened off of a calm lake as noon approached. Several of the fishing boats were heading back to shore with their catches.

A single tributary river lay between Mark's captors and their destination. There wasn't a bridge on this side of the lake as it was a lesser-traveled path. Two of the men had already crossed the stream and were putting their leather sandals back on. Mark was trying to take his shoes off with his hands still bound, but Umalliq, as the leader was called, growled "¡Mana, hamunki!" He figured this meant "Hurry up" or something similar, so he stumbled quickly into the river but nearly lost his footing. He did succeed in reaching the other side without being completely soaked which was a minor consolation in his predicament.

They treaded on for another hour before coming to a larger, well-worn dirt road. While they were walking, a couple of the fishermen rode past on donkeys with their catches and farmers passed by them also with small loads. Mark felt a bit like the fish.

Finally the group arrived in a town. The men kept Mark between them and headed toward the center of the market place. He had a hard time not staring at one man that they passed in particular. The giant had to be more than ten feet tall nearly four feet wide at the shoulders! A few shops had entryways that would have been large enough for him which caused Mark to wonder if it was the owner's decision or that of a human rights group. He decided that since slavery seemed to be allowed that it was probably for the sake of extra business.

As a whole, most of the people were a little shorter than Mark. A couple were very short. Most of the crowd in the streets had dark hair in varying shades of brown or black, but there were also some with red or blond hair. About half of the men wore swords over their tunics. The women seemed to prefer dresses with either a cloak or shawl. But then some of the men had cloaks also. They were probably travelers.

Umalliq stopped at a dyer's booth in the market and K'urpa removed the bundle from his back. He removed several powders which he set on a board that served as a counter. The merchant counted out eleven gold and five silver coins which he paid to Umalliq. Mark wasn't familiar with the money system, but he knew this was a lot.**

The next stop wasn't pleasant at all. It was an auction block with several pens and structures that were partially hidden from view. With the amount of land it occupied in the middle of the town, it was either very profitable or it had been owned for a long time.

The auctioneer paid them sixty-three gold coins. Mark didn't know if it was in exchange that he was left there, or if the money had been from a previous sale. Either way, the rope was soon removed from his wrists and he found himself at the bottom of a twenty foot pit with six other slaves. It was good that noon had passed as there was only a metal grate to cover the top.

He greeted the others in the way he had learned, by saying "Wawqicha" while looking at each successively. Two of the men turned away to stare at the wall in disgust, wanting to be alone. An older man chuckled softly and said, "Napaykullayki." The accent had given away Mark's unfamiliarity with the language and the man did his best to make Mark understand that "wawqicha" meant "brother." His name was Kusirimay, and he explained this because there were two women in the pit also. One was close to Mark's age and was named Sañi. The other was older and Mark had a hard time with her name, even after three tries. The last man was close to Mark's age also and was called Llanke.

It was a very long afternoon in those cramped quarters. By the end of it his head was hurting from the number of words and ideas he had been exposed to in a new language. He hardly understood anything, but he did know the auction was to be in the morning. He pitied the people who were around him. Each of them was troubled, though Kusirimay and Sañi tried to distract themselves a little by talking to each other and to him. Maybe it worked. Just before his eyelids closed in exhaustion, Mark remembered David. He hoped he was doing alright.

Mark was jarred awake several times by cries of rage or fighting coming from other pits like his. It barely registered in his tired head, but he had been lucky.

** For more information on the coins used, please see Appendix A

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