The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

Cadmar's Tale

A short story of the birth of a mul gladiator

Cadmar's Tale

Author: Unkown


"Is that child born yet? I have people waiting to collect the merchandise soon!" yelled a rugged dwarf as he idly tapping a finger against the hilt of his short sword hanging at his hip. Around him was a camp made up of small huts and dozens of large cages that held human females. Looking over at one of the cages the dwarf yelled again. "Well?"

"Not yet Master Gonth. It has been a difficult delivery." The struggling midwife spoke to the dwarf as she looked down at the blood pouring out of the woman on the ground before her.

Gonth sneered and grasped his sword till his knuckles turned white. "By the dragon I should just gut the girl and take it out now. The gladiator trainer should be here any moment and I want the child born and ready for sale by then."

Suddenly a cry came from the woman as her body lurched wildly and blood streamed throughout the cage. Her head shook back and forth with wide eyes that saw nothing but the red haze of pain. The half-giant holding the woman looked nervously at Gonth but continued to try and restrain the thrashing woman.

"Hold her still! If she kills the child with her twisting, so help me I will have the skin flayed from her body followed shortly by yours!" Gonth pulled his sword and waved it at the half giant as he yelled. With a nod the massive giant tightened his grip until it appeared he would crush the woman’s body in his hands.

With a final scream and lurch the woman fell limp to the ground, her hands curled into macabre claws that seemed to reach for the bars of her prison to rend them apart and gain freedom. Quickly, the midwife, covered in the woman’s blood, reached down and pulled a small form the rest of the way into the world. After a moment a baby’s cry sounded through the camp. Her smile was forced as her face portrayed pain and frustration. "Your son is alive Master Gonth."

"So it is a male. Good, but he is no son of mine. He is a product, whose buyer should be here shortly." Putting his sword away the dwarf stepped closer to the cage, careful not to ruin his boots in the puddles of crimson blood that was readily spilled everywhere.

Repressing a shudder, the midwife bent to check the mother for any sign of life, and found none but unseeing eyes staring out the top of the cage. "Elmay is dead Master Gonth." Slowly tears fell from the midwife’s eyes.

"Dragon’s teeth! Now I will have to find a replacement. Clean the child and make him ready for sale." Gonth peered into the cage to examine the young child who was still yelling loudly.

"He must be very strong to survive that kind of birth Master. He will make a great gladiator." As the woman cleaned the gore from the struggling form she looked up at her master with hope that he would acknowledge something useful in the young mul. She found nothing but a hard stare in the blocky face.

"I do not care if he dies in his first match. As long as he fetches a good price then I will be happy." Gonth seemed satisfied as he turned from the scene and started walking by the other cages. "When is the next woman due to deliver?" He asked as he stared at another woman who looked well advanced in her pregnancy. Under his scrutiny the woman crawled away from the powerful dwarf to the furthest corner of the cage and cried softly.

"She is not due for another week Master." The midwife cringed at the string of curses the dwarf hurled at her after her reply. As he continued his outburst Gonth stalked to one of the huts and disappeared inside.

With the death of the mother and knowing that the cruel dwarf would never name the child, the midwife decided to take the honors for herself. "You are going to be a great warrior, I can feel it. Your mother was a strong woman and would have wanted you to have a fitting name." She spoke softly to the baby with a calming noise. Slowly the baby stopped crying and looked up at the woman. "I will name you Cadmar which means ‘strong in battle’ so that all will know that you are their doom if they care to war with you."

The trainer came the next morning. "Is my purchase ready Gonth?" The large human man that rode into the compound was dressed in fine, but rugged clothing. Everything about him screamed "merchant" to all that watched him. As he climbed down from his mount, a large bipedal lizard he graced the slaves that gathered with a rare smile.

Gonth pulled a whip from his waist and threatened the gathering slaves till all of the women disappeared from view. Once sure that he was alone with his guest the dwarf bowed deeply. "Yes it is Tyeek. The child is being prepared as we speak."

"Very good, I wish to examine it before we settle on a price." Tyeek watched the dwarf in amusement as the midwife appeared with the newborn mul wrapped in an old blanket.

"Master Gonth, Master Tyeek, this is the baby Cadmar." She handed the child to Tyeek and bowed to each carefully though both had completely ignored her from the moment Cadmar was in Tyeek’s hands.

"Cadmar huh? Well it better live up to its name for the coin I am going to give you Gonth." Tyeek unwrapped the baby to examine him. "It seems strong. Quiet though. Is it mute? I will not pay much for a deaf and dumb mul Gonth." He frowned at the dwarf, which caused Gonth’s eyes to open wide staring wildly.

The midwife interjected quickly. "Oh no Master Tyeek. Cadmar can hear and can make sound."

Gonth nodded eagerly momentarily forgetting that his slave had spoken without permission. "When he was born, the cries probably could have been heard as far as the Silt Sea. Now about the price."

Ignoring the pathetic dwarf Tyeek stared at the baby. "OK Gonth. It appears to be a very fine specimen. I will give you the standard amount for it." He put the baby into a special sack that he brought with him and took out a small bag. As he tossed the bag to Gonth, everyone nearby could hear the sound of metal chinking.

Gonth snatched the bag from the air and quickly opened it to count the money inside. "I take it that should suffice for now?" Tyeek gave Gonth a wicked smile.

"Yes, this will do for now. It is quite a good addition to my income. The crops and the erdlu herds have not been fetching good prices of late." The dwarf bowed to the man as he climbed onto his crodlu with his newly acquired purchase. "Good day to you Master Tyeek. I should have another of those ready in a week or so if you are interested."

"Perhaps Gonth, but I think one mul in my stables should be enough. They can be very strong willed and hard to break. I will think on it and let you know in the next few days." With a look of disdain Tyeek wheeled his mount around and started riding back to the distant city of Urik. Behind him Gonth started shouting and had his guards rouse the women slaves for their morning work in the fields.

It did not take Tyeek very long to reach his home on the outskirts of the city. Only a few moments later he was in the slave quarters. "Bratch! Bratch, we have a new arrival!" An old, muscled dwarf that lifted his head from the piece of armor that he was working on.

Quickly standing he walked over and tried to look interested. "Who has arrived Master Tyeek?"

Pulling the baby out of the sack, Tyeek handed him to the surprised dwarf. "This is Cadmar. Please see that he is given to one of the women to be taken care of until he is old enough to learn how to fight. I am counting on you to make sure that this little mul brings me a good return on my investment. I paid good coin for it and I do not wish to lose that money." Just as abruptly Tyeek turned and left the stunned dwarf standing in the middle of the yard holding the baby.

Bratch’s first thought was to smother the infant before he could realize the life he had been thrust into at birth, then decided that would be foolish. Alive, the child could someday be free and live as normal a life as he could under the dark sun. Also the possibility that Cadmar could become a powerful gladiator in the games made Bratch smile.

He whispered to the little bundle that seemed to smile back up at him. "You have great potential little one. I will ensure that you learn to use all that you have and more.

"I think it is time for you to meet the people you are going to live with until you are old enough to take care of yourself." With a sigh of resignation he walked towards the shacks that housed the slaves of House Tyeek.

7cb432fd9e951ebe5a3f8377df09c346

Raddu

Original creator of The Burnt World of Athas back in 1995 or so...