Authors: John Booth
Jalia and the Slavers
Jalia and Daniel have been travelling for weeks with Talla, a young woman they rescued in Taybee. They are heading for the city of Brinan where the Mine Owners Association keep their gold. The presence of gold and Jalia in the same place means that trouble can only be a footstep away.
One thing leads to another and Jalia and Daniel find they have no choice but to destroy the Mine Owners or die trying. To do that they must travel on to Telmar, a city built on seven islands.
Book 3 of Jalia - The World of Jalon
First published in 2013 by John Booth Enterprises Ltd
Cover Design by JBE
Jalon Map by JBE
Copyright ©2013 John Booth
All rights reserved
John Booth asserts the moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work,
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Other Books by John Booth on Amazon Kindle
The Inspector Monde Mysteries
Jalia on the Road
Jalia in the North
Jalia and the Slavers
Revenge of the Brotherhood
Carlotta and the Krius Scepter
House of Silver Magic
Sapphire Magic: Breaking Glass
Gold Magic: Terror in Mind
The Magic Series (Anthology)
Visit the author’s web page
Scrawls in the Dust
Jalia at Bay (Jalia #4)
Jalia ran for the tree felled by a winter storm. The man behind her was in a berserker rage, not yet aware of the fate of his companions. She reached the trunk seconds before him and leapt onto it. Jalia grinned. This was fun.
“Die,” the man cried as he sliced his sword a couple of inches above the bark, aiming at Jalia’s feet.
Jalia hopped, landing on the blade, resulting in it coming to abrupt halt as it dug into the tree. The man on the other end turned out to be weaker than the oak and screamed as his wrist snapped.
Drawing her sword from its scabbard on her back, Jalia took up a classic swordsman pose. The man held his wrist, temporarily unable to fight, and Jalia made no immediate move to attack him. She wanted to savor the moment.
He screamed as Daniel’s sword stabbed him from behind, the blade going in through his back and out of his chest. The man stared at the blade in stupefaction before slumping to the ground.
“Did you have to kill him so fast? That’s the only fun I’ve had since leaving Taybee.” Jalia glowered at Daniel, who glanced behind him. A pair of men, making up the trio who had attacked them, lay slumped on the ground with a throwing knife sticking out of their right eyes.
“It seems to me you dispatched those two without giving me a chance to join in.”
Jalia pouted. “I wanted to check I had my eye in. We’ve been weeks on the road.”
Daniel grimaced. “Risky throws. You could have missed both.”
“If I had, you would have taken care of them.” There was no doubt in her voice.
Daniel cleaned his sword without answering. He put it in its scabbard and turned back towards camp. Jalia jumped to the ground and skipped over the body to catch up with him.
Talla appeared from where she hid and shuddered when she saw the bodies up close. “Slavers, most probably.”
“I hope so,” Jalia said cheerfully as she retrieved her knives and gore splattered about her. I expected to find dozens of them on the road and these are the first three we’ve seen.”
Talla looked to the Brigaran Hills they had been steadily approaching for days. They were white capped with snow.
“Winter lingers longer in Brinan because of the hills. The road has probably only become passable in the last day or so.”
It didn’t stop every village we came across sending us on our way,” Jalia replied sourly.
“Word on the changes in Taybee has yet to get out,” Daniel reminded her. “All they’ve seen is slavers for the last few years. And we know that the miners send out raiding parties.”
The journey had been devoid of the usual diversions. Jalia rarely left a village poorer than when she entered it. Card games and wagers of all kinds were her lifeblood, but there hadn’t been a chance to practice those arts since leaving Taybee.
They passed through villages on many occasions, but were invariably met by hostile men urging them on their way. Every village was a fortress, protecting their families.
The Mine Owners of Telmar demanded much of the people in the region. They needed large quantities of food to feed their miners and were not inclined to grow their own. They also needed a supply of new slaves to work in their mines. The raiders the owners paid to get these things, found it simpler not to bother with negotiation and payment when theft and kidnap worked just as well.
“I don’t want to camp here,” Talla told them. She was a woman they became friends with in Taybee who was accompanying them on her way home to Telmar. She wasn’t used to violence and the bodies and blood upset her.
“It’s too late in the day to move. Daniel can drag the bodies out of camp.”
“I get all the best jobs.”
Jalia was still feeling out of sorts and annoyed once the bodies were gone. It wasn’t over the length of the fight though. In the weeks since they left Taybee, Daniel and Talla had become close friends and Jalia was feeling jealous.
It wasn’t as if Talla made any kind of play for Daniel. It would have been obvious to even the dumbest of women that Daniel was taken and Talla was not the slightest bit stupid.
Rather it was that Talla did things with Daniel that perturbed Jalia. Talla helped him cook and they discussed the merits of various spices. Jalia never did anything like that and would never want to. But when she saw the two of them indulging in conspiratorial conversations and flashed smiles, it made her fume.
Daniel was aware of what was going on and had offered to take over the hunting. Talla and Jalia would then make the meals together. But the thought of cooking didn’t suit Jalia either. She would much sooner hunt than cook. It was the certain knowledge she was acting unreasonably that made Jalia even angrier.
Fortunately, the journey would be over soon. The hostility of the villagers had meant they focused on travelling and they had made good time.
Jalia found Daniel practicing with the crossbow he had bought in Taybee. He practiced every evening before the light failed. He had proved skilled with one, much to Jalia’s surprise.
Jalia hated crossbows. To her, they were a weapon associated with raiders and the nastier forms of low-life’s, such as city guards. She preferred to use her throwing knives in the close quarter combat where crossbows excelled. An ordinary person would not even consider owning a crossbow. If they had a bow it would be an ordinary one, designed for hunting. Jalia used a hunting bow from time to time, but that was very different to a crossbow.
“I don’t see why you have to practice with that thing. Where will you use it?” Jalia asked irritably as she casually threw a knife into the target Daniel had carved into a tree. Two crossbow bolts were stuck in the target, each a few inches further away than her knife from its center.
“I want to regain the skills I used to have, Jalia,” Daniel explained for the twentieth time since they left Taybee. “Mart said most of the raiders use crossbows. I might need to pick up one in a fight and use it to save your life.”
Jalia sniffed disdainfully at the very idea. They walked down to the target and Daniel struggled to pull out the bolts as they were deeply embedded in the wood. Crossbows had a superior range to a knife and required much less skill to use.
They moved back to where they had been standing.
“Perhaps you should practice,” Daniel said as he cranked the handle to prime the bow and loaded a bolt. Jalia held out her hand and Daniel gave her the crossbow.
She swung the bow towards the target which was fifteen yards away. As the crossbow swung past the target, she loosed the bolt without appearing to take aim. The bolt embedded itself a couple of inches above the center.
“You might be right.” Jalia threw the crossbow back to Daniel. “I don’t usually miss by that much.” She turned and walked into the trees.
“If I was that good, I’d never practice either.” Daniel murmured. He knew then that Jalia must have been trained in using crossbows and was much better than he was. Just another thing she hadn’t bothered to mention in their three years together.
“How does she do those things?” Talla asked in open admiration. “I can’t throw a knife without cutting myself.” She had been watching them from the camp.
“You could learn,” Daniel proffered her the crossbow. Talla stepped back as if he had waved the biting end of a poisonous snake in her face.
“No, no, I’m not cut out to be a fighter. When I see blood, I faint.”
“You were brave enough to risk going out a blizzard to save Jord.”
Talla’s face fell as she thought of her dead husband. She was a pretty young woman who was always smiling and when she was sad, it was as if the sun had passed behind a cloud.
“I’m brave enough when I have no choice, Daniel. Or rather, I can overcome my fear, but I’m not an adventurer.”
“If you aren’t afraid when you fight, then you aren’t being brave. It’s brave of you to return to Telmar, given that you know what you’ll find when you get there.”
“We shouldn’t have left. Jord and I should have fought for our city. But Jord wanted to leave and I had pledged my life to him.” Talla looked down at her feet and then looked at Daniel, “That doesn’t explain why you are going there.”
“Jalia wants to see a gold rush and I want to see the world. What could be simpler than that?” Daniel turned the crossbow towards the target and without appearing to aim loosed a bolt which buried itself into the center of the target. “Ah, I see. The trick is not to try too hard.”
Talla laughed, “You two are just as bad as each other.” She stamped her foot and went back to the camp where venison stew cooked over an open fire.
That evening, Daniel asked Talla what she knew about Brinan. The hills in the distance were a sure sign they were approaching the city, which nestled within them.
“Some say that Brinan is the oldest city in the world,” Talla told them as she ladled stew onto a plate and passed it to Jalia. Jalia took it ungraciously and then smiled at Talla to compensate for her rudeness. Talla didn’t appear to notice either the rudeness or the smile and Daniel steadfastly ignored the exchange.
“It sits in the Brigaran Hills, which we can see over there. A mile to the east of the city, the Brina River flows through a deep ravine cut into the belly of the land.”
“There are hot springs that bubble up to the city from the depths of the earth. One of them blows spurts of boiling water at regular intervals. In the time of the Magician King’s, it was capped and used to send hot water through pipes into every part of the city, keeping it warm even in winter. The system works to this day and the streets of Brinan do not suffer cold in even the darkest of winters. The residents wear light clothing all year around. It is so mild.”
“There are large baths built into magnificent settings in the heart of the city. The rich have always been attracted to Brinan and they have spent fortunes on public buildings. There are glass buildings housing fruit trees and flowers from warmer climes. Anyone can visit these gardens and I have done so myself in happier times.”
“It is said that sixty feet or so below the streets of Brinan there are lakes and underground canals of hot steaming water. The locals tell of monsters lurking in the dark. When I visited as a child, the caverns were closed to the public because so many people disappeared without trace.”
Jalia’s eyes widened as she listened. Talla continued her tale seeing how interested her companions were.
“Until the gold rush, Brinan was a town of gentility and learning. I went there as a child, because I had been sick. Many believe that drinking the waters and bathing there will cure you. It worked for me.”
“And since the gold rush…?” Jalia asked, fascinated with the idea of a place where you could bath in hot water all year round and even swim in it. Talla’s description of Brinan overcame Jalia feelings of annoyance and she couldn’t wait to see such wonders with her own eyes.
“When gold became plentiful, many families found themselves much poorer. The people in Brinan looked like potential slaves to the mine owners and people began to vanish.”
“When we entered Brinan before the start of winter we found it in chaos. People were scared to leave their homes and the elders of the city were unable to find the money to pay for guards.”
A delegation of mine owners arrived just as we left, but I don’t know what they were there for.” Talla stopped as her stew was now cool enough to eat. The three ate in silence.
“I expect we’ll find out what is going on in Brinan very soon.” Jalia grinned in anticipation. “I doubt there’s anything we can’t handle.”
“Heroes,” Talla muttered under her breath.