Ancient Rome 43 BC
Golden rays of sunbeams beat down on my thin little body as I sat in a pile of muck and mud in a corner of a rather large, iron cage built to hold humans as if they were cattle. I had tucked my tiny arms around my thin, bruised and dirty legs and stared at my feet. Hoping beyond hope that someone, it did not matter who, recognized me as the most respected daughter of the Sismondi. However, as the hours and days clicked by, that hope began to dwindle about as much as my hope of being reunited with my mother. Tears had stopped coming eventually and all I could think about was how I was going to escape.
I stood finally staring up at the sun, as it beat down on me and my fellow humans trapped in the cage and caught a fly as it flew in front of me. “Please Vesta, help me find Mama again.” I said quietly killing the little bug and popping it into my mouth. It was the only thing I had to eat in days. I closed my eyes pretending it was pudding instead of a bug. Then, whipped my hands on my stained, once yellow silk tunic.
Quietly, I slipped around a man staring out into the crowd of on lookers and found the lock that held us inside the cage. I had learned long ago that I could pick locks with my mind. No one ever knew how I did it, or how I escaped. Escaping slave dens was dangerous. But I was Vestia Sismondi. Not some runaway or a slave for that matter. My mother was the daughter of a very important aristocrat and she was going to have the head of the man who threw me in here when she found out what had happened to me.
I quietly stood in front of the lock, memorizing each piece of it with my mind, then, quietly began to stare at it. Mentally, willing the lock to open. It wasn’t my fault that the slave catcher had snatched me away from my mother as she had her back turned. It wasn’t my fault he had decided to steal me from her. I had tried to scream, but he was much bigger than I was and no matter how hard I tried to kick and scream and bite him, he eventually had me down in a cart filled with other crying children.
“This one will fetch a good price.” He had snarled to his friend. Yes, I would fetch a fine price. But that wasn’t going to happen today. I thought, pushing up my torn sleeves and trying the lock again. Soon, I heard the lock click, and smiled ruefully. I quietly managed to lift the lock off without anyone seeing me, and then dashed out of the cage. Only to run into the big mean, man who kidnapped me.
“You little shit!” He screamed at me shaking me. “How did you get out of there? Who let you out?” He asked, slapping me so hard that I fell to the ground. I glared as I turned around. I tried scooting under him, but he was quick and grabbed me again. That was when I saw the knife in his belt. I glared at him, and soon the knife began to lift out of his pocket just enough so I could reach it.
The minute I could reach for the knife I took it. Then, went to try and plunge it into my captors arm.
“You little shit!” He screamed at me again letting me go. I made a dash for it. “Pontius, catch her!” He shouted as another man grabbed me before I could reach the opening of the slave market. Things were not going as I had planned. I thought tiredly.
“My mother is going to have your head when she finds out you kidnapped me and tried to sell me off as slave. I am Vestia! The daughter of Ursus Sismondi!” I cried trying to beat Pontius.
“Shut her up!” The other man shouted to Pontius as he grabbed his knife and began to come towards me with it. “I’m going to teach her whose boss now.” He said glaring at me with a wicked look in his eyes. I screamed and shrank into Pontius arms.
“Please…. Let me go!” I cried again squirming.
“Wait!” A voice said suddenly and a young woman with pale, skin that looked as hard as rocks and blood shot eyes came forward. She wore fine clothing with a black cape covering most of her body and a strange necklace. I stared at her and continued to squirm. I had no idea who the woman was, and she frightened me.
“This is none of your business woman.” Pontius hissed at her.
“It is my business. Everything in Rome is my business.” She hissed at him. “How much do you want for the child?” She said now standing very tall and glaring dangerously at my captor.
“She’s not for sale.” He snapped. Still holding the knife up at me.
“Will this do?” The woman said sighing heavily as she took out a rich, velvet bag of coins. The man stared at her nodded, and Pontius finally let me go, thrusting me into the woman, when she gave him the coins.
She was as hard as rock when I slammed into her. But she caught me up into her cold arms and stared down at me. “Do not be afraid of me Vestia Sismondi.” She said very gently and quietly. “I am taking you home.” I stared at her for a moment. A part of me wanted to run away from this woman and find my way home on my own. But yet, she held me so tightly that I dared not move. Besides, if I ran from her, I’d only end up back in the slave cages so I clung to her.
“To my mother?” I asked. She nodded. “Are you a friend of Mama’s?” I asked whipping my tears as she carried me out of the slave dens.
“Not exactly.” The woman spoke gently. “However, I have a feeling that I will be when I return you to her. Vestia?” She asked me. “Can you make that apple move?” She asked and I stared at her, my mouth dropping open.
“You know I can move objects?” I asked staring at this strange woman. She nodded.
“Oh yes, I saw what you did with the lock.” She said gently as if she were trying not to frighten me. I looked for a moment at her and then at the apple on a sellers stand and moved it just a little bit with my mind. The woman stared at me. Then, at the apple. She bought the apple and gave it to me. Patting my head.
“Let’s get you home to your mama.” She said gently. But I was already looking back at the slaves in the cage where I had been. It didn’t seem fair that they still had to stay in the cages while I was freed. So, I tugged on the woman’s sleeve.
“What is going to happen to them?” I asked her. I knew she had enough money to buy all of the slaves who had been in the cage with me. There was something about her manner and style that told me so.
“To the others in the cage?” She asked. I nodded. “You already know what will happen to them.”
“ Couldn’t you buy them too? Please? And let them go home to their Mama’s and Papa’s?” I asked. The woman stared at me for a moment. And sighed, she turned around and headed back into the slave market clutching me to her as if she was afraid my captors would steal me again.