“You’re the strongest and toughest out of all of us,” said Thundra. “A strong slave can work their way up in the ranks to eventually become a soldier if they find ways to prove themselves. But you’re just sitting around harvesting potatoes or carrying loads on your back.”

Thundra’s elder sister approached her with a growl. “Let me make this perfectly clear, sister,” said she. “I. DO. NOT. WORK. WILLINGLY. FOR. SLAVEDRIVERS!”

Lightning always shouted; she had since Thundra was in swaddling wrap. But that outburst was something new; a deep nerve had been touched upon. Zeffir and Stormy had made themselves as small as they could in the hut, pressing themselves against the thin canvas walls, so as not to be caught up in their sister’s wrath.

Wiping Lightning’s foamy spittle from her face, Thundra set her heels firmly on the ground and looked her sister in her burning eyes. “Fine,” she said. “You do as you want, sister. But you know what? This lot isn’t as terrible as you think. You know what I like about Gash’s horde? There’s no hypocrisy here.”

“HA!” said Lightning. “Tell me where you see that, Thundra. From where I’m standing, with a forced load on my back and potatoes in my hands I’m surrendering to folks that didn’t grow them, it looks like an insecure orc forcing others to do the dirty work to keep him in comfort.”

“Gash has worked for what he has. So have all of his fighters,” said Thundra. “If you’re strong, you have the chance to exel. You can make something of yourself swinging a sword–or, I suppose, digging out potatoes as you prefer. And if you’re weak then you find something else to do.”

“All I see is the weak being trampled and cannibalized to help the strong,” Lightning growled. “You’d praise that, along with the lot that will see you in bondage to the end of your days?

“This about what we saw back home. The poor suffered and died so that the rich could live good lives. It’s no different in Gash’s horde, except that the strong can advance themselves here. And if you’re not strong, well…just look at Stormy, who’s small but fair, and who has Gash’s eye? Or Zeffir, who’s quick and sneaky and comes at you from the side when you’re not looking? We’ve all found places here that we never could have had at Mother’s.”

“Someday, I think, you’ll see just how wrong you are about this place, little sister,” said Lightning. “I just hope the rest of us are around to protect you then.”

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