Lily and Iris pushed away the light foliage as they made their way through the forest. With the sun moving slowly through the sky, Lily was now able to mark the passing of time, a concept which she embraced with renewed wonder.
They had been moving through the forest for several hours, and the sun would soon set for the day. They had encountered a number of smaller animals along the way, but the animals had either ignored them or avoided them, making their journey relatively smooth.
Lily glanced at the darkening sky and cracked a smile. In the past, the darker sky would have frightened her; it signalled the coming of the night and the possibility of attack. But now, she had Iris with her. With Iris’ ability to see in the dark, she had nothing to fear from the night.
As night fell, the two girls switched places, with Iris taking the lead and Lily holding on to her hand, giving verbal directions when her constant probing detected a possible opening.
Finally, in the dead of the night, with the land blanketed in darkness, Lily and Iris emerged from the forest, into a wide, open plain, dotted with vegetation, with a winding dirt road cutting through it. Lily could see nothing, so she relied on Iris to tell her about her surroundings.
“Hmmm… nothing much, except… wait. To our left. About a kilometre away. Multiple heat sources… looks like an encampment.”
Raising her eyebrow, Lily closed her eyes and sent her probe to maximum range, feeling out the lay of the land. Iris was right. A kilometre away, there were five objects that felt vaguely tent-shaped, and one… cage?
“…the cage intrigues me. Let’s go.”
Moving quietly, the two girls closed in on the encampment, allowing Iris to get a better view.
“I see five tents surrounding a burnt-out fire. There’s about twenty?…twenty-three? People sleeping in them. There’s a cage with… women in it. About thirty of them, all naked and sleeping. There are two armed men standing at the door of the cage.”
Women? In a cage? Lily furrowed her brow. It was entirely possible that travelling around naked in cages had become a recent fad while she was away, but… it was far more likely they had stumbled upon an encampment of slavers.
Now, Lily was not quite chivalrous enough to go out of her way to stand out for the sake of helping a group of women she did not know. If anything, her first instinct was to avoid the group. However, there were certain ways in which she could utilise the slavers to her advantage. For one, both Iris and herself were stark naked. While this state of undress was not particularly uncomfortable, it would likely cause them trouble when attempting to enter a city.
On the other hand, nobody would even look twice -at least, not with suspicion – at two naked girls in a cage full of slaves. She had initially intended to steal some clothes at the earliest opportunity, but this meeting with the slavers presented a very convenient alternative that saved a lot of walking time and checkpoint hassles.
She signalled Iris to draw back and began to think of a strategy to land herself inside of the cage.
The greatest obstacle would probably be her prosthetics – unlike Iris, she didn’t have the ability to generate a faux humanlike texture. Her arms and legs were clearly, indisguisably metal, and that might create suspicion.
“Hey Iris. Do you have any space for me to keep my prosthetics?”
Without a word, Iris turned her back on Lily. Two panels on her back opened up, revealing large, spacious compartments.
“Well then. This is the plan…”
The next morning, the slavers packed up their tents and checked on the condition of their wares, getting on the road again. They were ahead of schedule; they should reach the city of Oparil within the next two days.
Just a bit down the road, they came across a strange sight: two young girls, completely naked, asleep at the side of the road. Curiously, the one which looked older was missing her arms and legs, only a torso, lying against the shoulder of the younger one. She had abnormally long green hair that went down lower than her hips, making it longer than the entire length of her body.
Despite the unusual circumstances of the discovery, the slavers collectively grinned in anticipation of profit. While the girls had a slight amount of dirt on their skin, they were clearly beautiful. They would fetch a high price, especially the younger one. She had rare white hair, and younger girls were always in demand. From her build, she probably would be of little use for physical labor, but that was not the type of clientele they served. Even the crippled one, with her arms and legs missing, could be marketed as a flesh doll, incapable of resisting or running. In the best case, they might even get a soft-hearted rich philantrophist willing to pay just to “save” the girl.
Moving silently so as to not wake the two, the slavers crept up on the girls, getting close, then they struck, restraining the younger girl’s arms behind her back and covering her mouth. As the girl’s vivid green eyes snapped open in surprise, her mouth straining against the gag, the commotion awoke her disabled companion, who, without her support, fell to the ground helplessly, red eyes wide open in terror. Unable to move on her own, the girl could only scream.
“Stop! Don’t touch my baby sister! Leave us alone! Stop!”
As the girl screamed, her younger sister struggled against the slavers, tugging and pulling, trying to break free. Frustrated, one slaver, with a skilled hand, snapped a <<Slave Collar>> around her neck, touching a ring on his hand. As the black ring-shaped choker magically induced an immese, sharp sensation of pain, the green-eyed girl’s eyes bulged before she went limp, breathing heavily, offering no further resistance, her face adorned with beautiful resignation.
With a triumphant grin, the slavers carried the girl and her now-sobbing sister to the horse-drawn cage and threw them inside, locking the cage.
Inside the cage, Iris slowly made her way back to Lily’s side, where she hugged the disabled girl and began sobbing into her shoulder. Lily’s own eyes awash with tears, she buried her face in Iris’ white hair.
All around them, the other women in the carriage watched them with a mix of pity and interest.
Naturally, these other women did not see the hidden smiles which graced the faces of the two girls.