It was always sunny where he was. An occasional cloud would pass over the sun, but sandy winds would quickly protest and sent it away. The heat was nearly unbearable, even for those who had been born and raised in the forsaken desert.
Heracles knew what the people in the caravan thought of him. As a Greek boy, sold into Egypt along with his brother, they thought him of less worth. As a slave, they thought him a strange contradiction. He was often found sleeping and lazing about, but he never left a job undone. His broad shoulders carried dense muscles that held the capability to lift an ox right off of the sandy ground.
It was no mystery, the man was strange. But needed much y the large caravan. His exemplary way with the animals and strong back made him valuable. The same couldn't be said as much... for his older brother.
"Oi! There you are!" Sadiq's gruff and annoyed voice sounded in the Greek slaves' ear. Heracle's sleepy green eyes looked up to meet his brother's. "Playing with the cats again eh?" Sadiq sighed as he sat next to his brother. "Stupid head."
"Jerk." Heracles nodded accordingly. The white cat purred and nestled into the crook of his knee that was stretched out in front of him.
A thin, brown piece of cloth was tied about his head with a small piece of leather. It covered his hair and neck, and just a small bit of his shoulders depending on how he turned his head. His face was smooth and handsome with green eyes shining. But like every other slave in Egypt at the time, he had no shirt, revealing many striped wounds across his back and torso. A thin pair of tattered pants that ended just above his ankles. An even thinner pair of black shoes covered his feet so that they didn't bleed from walking on the rough sand.
"Did you finish feeding the horses?" Asked his brother, who was dressed exactly the same. But his back was laced with more scars from beatings and tortures from the slavers, while a short, scruffy beard covered his jaw and chin and black eyes shone beneath his hairline.
"Yes I did." Heracles sighed and looked at his brother. "How did watch duty go?"
"Eventless as usual." The two slave boys sighed in unison, leaning their heads back against the cart they currently sat behind. Another cat hopped down off of the cart and landed on Sadiq. It purred slightly as it rubbed against his scruffy chin.
"I think she likes you." Heracles laughed softly as his brother's rough chin was bombarded with the foreign fluff of the white kitten. Sadiq couldn't help but crack a small, rare smile as he ran his hand along it's back, causing it's purrs to grow louder.
"Not as much as you of course." He replied. "By the way, is that one cat doing any better?"
"Aphrodite? No. She's lived her life." Heracles said with a sad frown. "It's only a matter of time."
"I'm sorry I suppose."
"Don't be. She's old."
Sadiq sighed as the small cat suddenly found something much more interesting to do and jumped off of him. "You know... I thought you were crazy when you told that other guy, but I wish I was a cat too." He said suddenly. Heracles looked at him. "No one really hates you, they can't really sell you for labor and there's no need to worry about status."
"No one hates you, except me of course." Heracles said quietly.
Sadiq was about to say something, but was cut off as a shout and then a crash came from the other side of camp. They both instantly jumped up and ran toward the source. Being the only two slaves left alive in the caravan, they knew they were required to take action for risk of punishment by their owners.
They came to a sight of such confusion that they weren't sure what they were supposed to do. A large group of men stood above a woman. Her (fair/dark) skin and (light/ darkened) hair made her look even more frightened and terrorized than she may have been, from the way it was matted to her head and her cheeks were pulled tight in terror. Quickly they realized she was a slave from the cuffs around her wrists and ankles, and the bruises all over her arms and legs.
Heracles saw one of the slavers lift a whip above his head and acted without thinking twice. He rushed forward and slid between the men and stood just as the whip came down. It collided harshly with Heracles neck and arm. He winced at the sharp pain, but lifted his muscular arm so that the weapon wound around his forearm and he yanked it out of the slaver's hands.
"What's going on?" He asked in his quiet voice, The men around him and the girl sent terrible glares that made him feel the gravity of what he had just done.
"What do you think you're doing slave?!" the caravan leader screeched. Another weapon came down on Heracles, and made an angry red mark at the base of his neck. Heracles grimaced, but kept a monotonous look in his eyes.
"She is frightened out of her senses. Surely whatever she did was out of fear that you had inflicted upon her." Heracles said.
"Do not interfere any more than you have, or you will be punished severely." The leader said.
"I will take any punishment you deem give her." Heracles said. "But Leave her be for now."
The tall man stared at him with a skeptical look. His stern gaze and firm frown beneath his beard read malice. Heracles just looked right back, letting the malice whoosh right over his head.
"Very well slave. You have two days to set her right. Then you can take full responsibility." He said. Heracles nodded.
"Understood." The crowd started to disperse, mothers ushering their children to their tents. But the whole while, Heracles didn't stand down. He kept himself as a wall between the girl and the people around them. When only the three slaves were left in the spot, he turned to the girl.
"Are you alright?" he asked. She nodded silently, tears building in her eyes. "what is your name?" he asked. The girl hesitated, then shook her head. Heracles raised an eyebrow, then it hit him. "Can you speak?" He touched her cheek and pushed her head up so he could see her clearly. He felt drawn to her (e/c) eyes right away. She shook her head again, tears falling. Heracles nodded.
"Alright. Let's get you something to eat. You look hungry." Heracles gently took her upper arm and pulled her up. He noticed her leg was slightly swollen and nodded at his brother, who caught on and supported her from the other side. They half-carried her to their smaller camp and gave her dry bread and water.
"Sorry- it's all we've got." Sadiq said, sitting next to her. "These guys don't give you much." The girl just nodded and bit into the flat bread ravenously.
"So- I'm guessing your from somewhere outside of here." Heracles said. "Are you from (country)?" A nod. "I see. Stolen on a ship I think?" Another nod.
"Can you write?" Sadiq asked. She nodded. "Write your name in the sand then kid. I don't want to be calling you 'you' and 'kid' all of the time." He said.
The little girl nodded and leaned over. She drug her finger through the rough, fine grains of sand until a word started to take shape. The two brothers looked down and read.
"(y/n)?" Heracles asked. The slave girl nodded and smiled softly.
"Nice name." Sadiq said. "I'm Sadiq. This is my brother Heracles." Heracles gave a tiny wave with his hand, which now had marks on it from his earlier save of the girl. She looked at it for a moment, tears once again building. Heracles frowned and put his arm back down.
"Hey, don't worry about it." Sadiq said. "He could use a little toughening up." He said, jerking his thumb at his brother, and giving a little wink. "We've been through worse."
The girl nodded and the frown remained. She leaned forward again and wrote in the sand.