It was market day. A bustling crowd gathered to buy livestock and slaves. After the chickens, horses and cows had been sold, the dealers waited for the slaves. Kroll walked into the market, but stayed toward the back. He was interested to see the price paid for the boy. He may be small, but the kid was strong. Kroll had primed the auctioneer to make it clear the boy had run with Malaxia’s finest troops and held his own. He was confident of a high price.
There were only a few slaves up for sale. The hammer went down on three men. The prices were high, between six and nine gold coins each. Kroll smiled as the final slave, a boy was pushed into the arena. A murmur swept across the buyers as the auctioneer introduced the boy as a hard worker and skilled in woodcraft. Kroll pushed traders aside and moved forward for a better look. It was not Ned. Mild bidding ensued and the boy achieved three gold coins. The auctioneer’s hammer crashed down as he closed the auction. Shoving more men aside, Kroll was angry.
“Where’s the boy who ran with my warriors?” he bellowed.
The auctioneer strained his neck and looked at the commotion. He flinched at Kroll in full fighting uniform. A large sword swung at his side. The auctioneer was startled into silence.
“Where is the boy?!!??” he shouted.
“I, I, err.. I’m not sure,” the auctioneer stuttered. “He was not delivered to me.”
Kroll’s nostrils flared. The auctioneer must be telling the truth. There was no way a spineless man like that would defy him. Everyone knew of Kroll’s short temper and reputation in battle. He turned and stormed out of the auction hall. Everyone moved aside to let the fighter through.