48 Hours a Day - Chapter 740

Published at 22nd of March 2021 02:25:05 PM

Chapter 740: 740

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Chapter 740: Slave

Zhang Heng had heard about the tragic stories that were connected to the Roman slaves.

While Zhang Heng participated in the Black Sail dungeon, the slave trade happened to be booming. He had led the Jackdaw to attack several slave ships when he saw how countless black men were stuffed into the vessels’ bowels, waiting to be slaughtered like livestock. The nauseating stench of urine and sweat permeated every cabin of the ship.

After he hijacked the ship, Zhang Heng selected the strongest fighters from those black slaves with Laeli’s assistance. He would then recruit them into his pirate gang, and he would send the rest off to an island. These islands would later serve as essential covert supply points when his gang battled against the Nassau Marine. At that time, Zhang Heng was granted the title Liberator of the New Word. He did not expect that he would become a slave one day.

The worst thing was that the system had made him a slave in the second century, a period where society itself had been built upon a system of slavery. Rome had a social structure that was literally like a pyramid. Right at the top were nobles, followed by commoners, foreigners, and at the very bottom, the slaves.

These slaves were not considered human and were simply treated as production tools or instruments that provided entertainment. The performance going on above them was the prime example of exploiting the slaves for pure entertainment—these gladiators would shed blood and flesh in exchange for cheers and applause.

“What’s going on in your mind?” Zhang Heng asked Varro.

“What?” replied the latter, shocked. “Oh, oh, I’m thinking about when our turn to perform as gladiators will come.”

“Are we required to do that?” Zhang Heng was a little surprised. Judging by the tasks that were assigned to them currently, they were supposed to be ordinary arena workers. Especially Varo—not only was he skinny, but he also lacked courage—he could not even muster enough confidence to feed the lion in the cage. If he was forced to become a gladiator and fight with his life, Zhang Heng suspected he would survive no more than three seconds.

“Not now, of course. We know nothing about becoming gladiators. We’ll be making a fool of ourselves if we jump into the arena now. No one wants to see our clumsy performance. But…” Varo lowered his voice, “I got news… The Germanic barbarians will be sent over here tomorrow! Once they arrive, we will have to attend the gladiator school to train with them.”

Varo looked at Zhang Heng. However, he did not see the panicked expression he expected. Startled by the nonchalant reaction, he added, “You… have nothing to say?”

“What do you want me to say?” Zhang Heng raised his eyebrows.

“We are about to be sent to a gladiator training camp tomorrow. I heard that life there is worse than death. They will torture and lash us nonstop. Many have died trying to endure this brutal training. Those who do make it will have to participate in an assessment. If you pass, you will be chosen as a gladiator, where you will fight to your death during your performance in the arena.”

“If you are so worried about your own life, wouldn’t you be fine if you fail the final assessment?” Zhang Heng said.

“That’s the problem. All slaves failing to pass will be sold to the mines or villages to make up for the losses. Know how the people over there treat their slaves? They will keep you working all the time, just like their livestock. Until the day you die, you will never be free!” Varro explained in desperation. “It shouldn’t be like this. Chickpea promised me.”

“Who is Chickpea?”

“A slave trader. I was a friend of his. After I became a slave, he told me that the nobles would buy me over in the city, and I would get to run a business. As long as the person who buys me gives me a sum of money, I can generate more money for them. And once my business flourishes, I will be able to buy back my freedom again,” Varro clenched his fists with both hands. Unwillingly and painfully, he cried, “Why is this happening? Why have I been sold as a slave? I don’t belong here…”

“Maybe it’s because you have a well-maintained body?” replied Zhang Heng. “Were you a businessman before becoming a slave? You’ll look a little more like a soldier if you put on some armor.”

“But I have never learned to fight!” Varro shook his head. “This is ridiculous. It is obvious that I can use my business knowledge to bring in more wealth. Why would they send me to gladiator school to be tortured? This is such a waste of talent.”

“Heh, if what you say is true, maybe you should talk to the master here,” suggested Zhang Heng.

“I tried. I told the overseer about my situation and asked him to tell the master here,” Varo said.

“What happened after that?”

“Then… there has been no news until now.” Varo put down the rag in his hand and hesitated, “Maybe I should go and look for the master personally. What do you think?”

Zhang Heng did not answer right away. Instead, he asked, “You said you were a businessman before. Why were you sold?”

“Don’t mention it,” Varo sighed the moment he heard the question. “I sold antiques. A business passed down to me by my father. Our family had made a lot of money from this, but unfortunately, someone got to me afterward. I heard my friend telling me about how lucrative the flax business in Egypt was. So I discussed with a nobleman over there to grow more flax. He would provide the land, and I was supposed to pay for the rest of the expenses. Once the flax gets woven into the cloth, we would sell them to Rome. However, my friend was robbed as soon as he got on the road. He lost his people and money. And what’s worse was that I signed a contract with him earlier. If he did not get the money within the specified time, I would need to pay him a large number of liquidated assets. I tried my best, but still, I couldn’t collect enough money to pay him. So not only did I lose all my assets, but I also became a slave.”

“Well, what a sad story,” said Zhang Heng.

At that moment, there was another deafening roar of applause. It seemed the gladiatorial performance had reached its climax. All around the stands, the spectators were ecstatic.

And Varo had made up his mind. “Tomorrow, when the Germanic barbarians are escorted here, everyone would be asked to gather at one place. At that time, our master should also show up. I can talk to him and tell him about my business experience. If things go well, I’ll be able to leave this place.”

“Really? Then I wish you good luck,” replied Zhang Heng.

“Sorry, I can’t help you,” said Varo, embarrassed. He had just explicitly described the horrors of the gladiator school, and now he was saying that he was about to leave Zhang Heng here. The two had just met, and they couldn’t be considered as friends or even acquaintances for that matter.

After the previous conversation, however, the two had indeed gotten a little closer. Now, Varo was like a clay bodhisattva crossing the river. Protecting himself would be difficult, let alone watching out for Zhang Heng.

“It’s okay. Just remember to tell me the day you become a free man.” After Varo’s story, Zhang Heng wasn’t too optimistic about Varo’s success rate. He knew that amid the darkness, Varo had just seen a glimmer of hope. Nobody could persuade him to give up the idea of escaping the gladiator school now.

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