Once upon a time, a baby girl was born in Aitarsha. Her name was Lukia, and she was the daughter of the king. They lived in a palace, by the sea, built of stone. As Lukia grew up, the king decided that she should get married, and started looking for boys her age that she could find attractive and interesting, but she was always unhappy. Oh, some of those boys were sweet, but she couldn't think of them as peers: she was Lukia, daughter of Leises, and they were just villagers, sons of peasants or shepherds, knowing nothing of kingship and good government.
One day, a ship came to Aitarsha, crewed by strange men wearing outlandish clothes and speaking an unknown language. The crew of the ship started trading beautiful objects of ceramic and glass, things of a skill which noone in Aitarsha had seen before. The priest of the god of abundance was concerned about it for some time, but his worries were quickly placated when the captain of the ship donated a beautifully carved ceramic vase engraved with scenes depicting the abundance of nature, and a dagger with an extraordinarily hard and sharp blade, which the priest could put to use for the required sacrifices.
All the men who crewed the ship were young and strong, in their early twenties, and so Lukia was attracted to them, and in particular to their captain. Wasn't the captain of a ship, in some ways, as high as the king of a people? In the ship, and in the trade exchanges on land, the captain must rule over all the men, and solve the disputes. Without time for argument or councils, his word is law. Wasn't that like a kind of government?
Lukia managed to get to know the captain quite well, to the extent that two strangers who share no common language can know each other. She tried to learn his language, but he seemed far more interested in learning hers, so she started teaching him the basic words: house, road, river, sea. She realized that he was very quick in learning, which surprised her and pleased her, as she wanted a husband who would not only be strong and worshipful, but also intelligent and crafty.
When the time for taxes came, the king noticed that much fewer crops and cattle were collected, and asked some of the people who would, in other years, pay significant taxes why that year they had paid so little, thinking perhaps a bad spell of weather had made the harvest less plentiful, but he found out the foreigners were to blame: people were trading their produce for the things the foreigners brought with them, which were very expensive and rare. However, the king had noticed the attraction that Lukia had for the captain of the ship, and so he did not raise any protest, in the hope that she could at last find a worthy husband.
After many days passed, the captain told to Lukia that they would leave very soon, and she was welcome to come with him to his land, if she so wished. Lukia asked his father about it, who thought it was not such a good idea, as Lukia was his only child and the queen had died while she was little. He didn't want to have to take a new queen so late in life, and he would miss Lukia dearly, but after her incessant pleading he let her go.
Lukia and the captain were married by the priest of the goddess of love, but as Lukia was a princess, he was attended by the priest of the god of abundance, and the high priest of the father of the gods. The captain, who explained that by a tradition of his land could not give his true name, was called Preles as a nickname, and under such a name he married Lukia. He promised that he would come back the next year, and took Lukia to the ship. The next day, Preles and his crew departed for an unknown land, taking princess Lukia with them.
After Aitarsha was too far away to be seen, the manners of Preles changed very quickly, and he demonstrated to Lukia an uncanny knowledge of her language. He told her that as he had not given his true name, the marriage contract was not binding, and that by the law of the sea (a law from his land) she belonged to him: everything taken in a trade exchange belonged to the crew, and she had been taken by the captain. She had thought it sweet and considerate when he had taken her in his strong arms and helped her up the ship, but now she realized the significance of the act. She had been cruelly deceived, and now a life of uncertainty awaited her, but she knew that, unlike other girls that Preles could have chosen, he had chosen her, and she had royal blood. She demanded to be taken back to her people, in a tone that had always intimidated everyone, but the captain only laughed at her and casually slapped her. Only then did the true scope of the situation start to become apparent for her.
"We shall not take you back to your people," said the captain, "neither now nor next year. You will never see them again."
Preles' people were accomplished sailors, but their knowledge of the sea was still limited, and so they needed to hug the coast. Making virtue of necessity, they used those chances to stop every once in a while for necessary provisions. At the beginning, while the sailors went to collect water and food from the land, Preles' tied Lukia to the ship, so that she could not escape, but there came the time when Lukia was showing enough obedience and submission that Preles thought it would be safe to let her go for a walk in the land while the sailors did their work. That night they told her to make a fire and to prepare the meal for the fifteen men. As they became contented and the wine took its effect, Preles commanded her to dance for them, naked by the light of the fire.
After she satisfied them, Preles tied her to a tree and started doing something on the fire that Lukia could not see. After some minutes, Preles told her to close her eyes, which she did, and she felt the most intense pain of her whole short life, to the point of fainting. When she came back to her senses, Preles explained to her that people who are owned (Lukia's people did not know of slavery and lacked the specific vocabulary) must be branded on their foreheads, that all may know, so they cannot easily escape. Lukia was branded with some symbols containing a few lines and curves and Preles told her they were a way to engrave sounds: those sounds stood for his public name, the one he used in the City. Naturally, she could not read them, as she could not look at her own forhead without a mirror, and neither would she be able to understand them otherwise, as she was illiterate.
After some time they arrived at the port of the city, and Lukia was awed. She had never seen buildings of such size and height, and she had never seen a true city, with lots of buildings clumped together. In truth, what she used to call a city, the place where what she used to call the palace was, could be better described as a village, and the palace as a small stone house. On disembarking, her legs were tied so she could not run, but where would she have run in the maze before her? She was taken, unlike other provisions, directly to the house of the captain, who for the first time allowed her to know his public name: Naklos.
Naklos had two wives, and was hoping one day to get a third. The trade he had made with Lukia's people had been very lucrative, as they had paid dearly for very cheap second rate craft products, like the ceramic vases that would not sell for much in the city, or in any other civilized realm. When Lukia met Naklos' two wives, Shela and Daima, she felt so hopelessly ugly and worthless that she could not understand how she could ever have thought to share Naklos' life as an equal: they were dressed in carefully crafted clothes, they wore glittering jewels, and their hair was of a black colour that she had never seen before. She was ordinary, blonde and thin, and too tall. What she did not know, because she had never left her secluded people, is that beauty is often that which is exotic or strange, and so she was, for the standards of Naklos' culture, a very exotically beautiful slave girl. That she was a slave was evident by her clothes, by her brand and by her posture, which had been drilled into her by Naklos.