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His Magesty's Freightway
"Hi. I'm Sardon. I'm a trotter for His Magesty the Emperor's Freightway. You've probably seen me. One of thousands who run past every day, hauling those carts along the overpass to the terminal. Thought I was just an animal, didn'tcha. No, I was human. Just like you. Wait, I know you. You're the man on the roof. You sat there on your cushy pillow, eating grapes, watching us. We brought those grapes you know. Oh, I've seen you, day after day. Growing fatter, softer. Beautiful women serving you wine from golden goblets. Goblets that I pulled here with my own sweat. Wine that sloshed in the bottles as we hauled the carts down the freightway. What did you say your name was? Okay Jaques. What're you in for? Insulting the Emperor! Tsktsk. To his FACE? You're lucky you weren't shot. Well, Congratulations. Now you're a trotter too. Let me tell you about your new job."
"Right now, we're at the buffer at the freight terminal for this city. All freight terminals look like this. Get used to it. Have some stew. You'll need your strength. Don't give me a look like that, eat it, or you'll be sorry. More. That's the ticket. I know it tastes funny. Its magical. You'll have hooves in no time. Eat up, I know you have a big stomach. It'll get smaller, trust me. You'll need some Sandals until your hooves grow. How big are your feet? You don't KNOW? Well, lets try some on. Here, these sandals fit. Bind them tight, you won't have time to stop and retie them for a good while. You won't need them after a few weeks. Its almost time to go. Get your harness on."
"Don't tell me you're not a donkey. You'll put on the harness or be shot. You'll get used to it. Two years and you'll either be dead or used to it, I warrant. See how the straps are padded with sheeps wool? They don't hurt. You'll get used to it. Say nothing to the freightmaster. Just stand, and wait here, on the yellow stones. If you say anything, you might be shot.
"Pull! You got the weight to do it! It gets easier once the cart is moving. Good. Keep the traces taut, and trot along. Gigio there is the group leader. We have four carts in this group. If you try to get away, Gigio will shoot you. Don't worry, he's a nice guy. He never shot anybody who didn't deserve it. He's a killer shot with that crossbow though."
"I don't know what we're pulling. Its not particularly heavy. No, they gave us a light load, since you're starting out. Usually pull twice this much. Probably some salted fish, judging by the barrels. Keep up the pace Jaques. If we fall behind Gigio will shoot us both. Come on, I can't pull it by myself. A blister! Deal with it. You'll have more before you're completely changed. Look, ahead there's a rest stop. Thank Goddess, you're giving me a headache with all that wheezing. Hard to breath, I know. Your lungs will grow too."
"Drink. I don't care if you feel sick. Listen to old Sardon, and drink your water. The next segment is uphill, and you're gonna need it. Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you. Rest a bit while you can. Poor bastard. He'll probably get shot before the week is out."
"Up Jaques! Its time to go! GET UP! You want to get us shot? That's more like it. Heave to, off we go. We can walk up the hill. Keep those traces taut, I can't pull this all by myself. You think this is some vacation by the sea? PULL! Quite a view, eh? Not even the towers in the palace have a view like this. You'll learn to appreciate it, young man. Its better than a dank dungeon, eh? Get sick and die in the dungeon. You're thirsty. Yeah. I told you to drink, but you wouldn't listen. Maybe next time you'll listen to old Sardon, eh?"
"Midday break. Petre and Dadit here will take the cart from here. Another will be along for us shortly. Don't sit there, you'll get us shot. Come to the buffer. Eat some stew, let it digest while you rest. You'll get used to it. Its a hard life, but not a bad one. You get fresh air, plenty of excersize. You get to see the kingdom. Of course, you might get shot. That's the hard part. No, you'll always be a trotter, there's no anti-stew."
"You don't need those sandals any more Jaques. Let the shoemaster put some shoes on those hooves of yours. You don't want them wearing down to raw stumps on the stone roads, do you? Your fur is growing nicely. Soon we'll go to the mountains. Its cold up there, you'll need the warth. You got such nice ears too. Heh, and you said you weren't a donkey. Hold still! The man knows how to put on shoes. He won't hurt you. Good boy. Still gonna wear that loincloth? Doesn't stay up well with your tail in the way there. If you trip on it, you'll be shot. None of us wear clothes. Suit yourself, but don't say I didn't warn ya. Embarrassed? Nonsense, you've got balls to rival any trotter."
"You're looking good Jaque. You started out fat and lazy. Now look at you, all rippling muscles and shaggy fur. Really like that stew now, don'tcha? A handsome trotter, for sure. Its enough to make my loins tingle. You're stronger than old Sardon, I warrant! My two years is up. I survived. What am I going to do now, boy? I don't know. Maybe I'll get a job as a cab puller or something. At least I'll have my freedom. Good luck to you too boy. Remember old Sardon, won'tcha? Good. I'll bring you some grapes sometime. You're due back to this terminal in two weeks? I'll see you then. Don't get yourself shot, eh?"
"Hi. I'm Jaques. A trotter for his Magesty the Emperor's Freightway. You've probably seen me, one of the thousands that run along the freightway. Thought I was an animal didn'tcha? No, I was human, just like you. I don't recognize you. What're you in for? Poaching in his Magesty's forest! Tsk tsk. You were hunting for your family? Yeah, that's an old story. They'll get your wages while you're here, don't worry about them. He's not a bad Emperor, huh? Naw, I insulted the Emperor myself. Two years. Well, Congratulations. You're a trotter now. Let me tell you about your new job..."
His Magesty's Freightway copyright 1999 by Anonymous.
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