Word came from surrounding villages that a new people was coming and burning entire cities down. What were they searching for? New slaves.

Gabrielle's family went into hiding in their basement when the invasion happened. They heard rushing feet and screaming outside. They were sickened by the sounds of the weak and old being killed. Then the roar of large hammers and things tearing down buildings to find survivors. Luckily for Gabrielle and her family, the basement door was well hidden. And so they sat and waited, Gabrielle meditating and trying to summon the ancestors for guidance, while her sister, mother, grandmother, and two little brothers cowered in fear.

However, that had all happened the previous week. They had run out of food the night before and they were all very hungry. Gabrielle was determined to find food. It was night when she left and the first thing she did was to go to the tree where her father was buried. She knelt and prayed to her father, who had been a powerful medicine man before he died. She prayed, asking for help and strength in hopefully leading the rest of her people to safety.

She didn't know how long she'd been there, but a small group of people came and someone barked orders to them in a language she didn't know. Before she could move, they had tied her hands behind her back. Someone pulled her hair back roughly so she faced the leader. His face leered so close to her own she could smell the foul breath of the enemy. He spoke her language, but his words were heavily accented. "Don't move. Don't talk. Don't do anything I don't tell you to do. If you do, I'll take this knife and slit your throat right here." As he said this, he took the blade and slid it lightly against her throat. They pulled her to her feet and marched her at an exhausting pace through the rubble all night and through the next few days.

She had given up figuring where they were during the night after she lost sight of her father's tree. Soon, they came up to a large area of cleared land. In front of her loomed a large and grand city filled with gardens, homes... anything one could expect in a city. Everything surrounded the largest building in the city, which resembled for her, a temple. What she thought most strange though, was the amount of people there. There were many, powerful individuals as well as what she figured were slaves.

Gabrielle absorbed all this in the minute it took her to walk from the city gates to inside the temple. As unbelievable as it was, there appeared to be more people inside here than outside wandering the streets. Quickly, she was pushed to the side where a number of other people were. All captives... Just like me... She watched as the distinguished people milled about the room, talking to themselves. Then she turned to the other captives. A few she knew from negotiating with other tribes. Others she had never seen before. One thing was sure however, and that was that no one was willing to speak up. They were all afraid of what the future held.

Soon, the ceremony began. One by one, they had to line up and walk to the center of the room, a large arena in fact. There, a number of people would regard them. After he or she had been thoroughly checked, the bidding would begin and soon, the new slave would be taken away. When it was time for Gabrielle's turn, no one took special notice to her, finding her uninteresting. However, a man stepped out. He appeared young and very handsome, but she fought the desire to look at him. They captured us and brought us here for nothing that we did wrong, she thought. I shall never have any feelings for any man who has done this. Gabrielle lowered her eyes.

This leader walked around her, studied her at different angles. He cupped his hand and tilted her chin up so he could see into her eyes. Her body and face hadn't shown any emotions besides the usual fatigue, but what he saw in those eyes filled him astonished him. He saw so much pain and anguish in those eyes that he felt his heart go to her, reach out for her. Then she turned away. "What's your name?" he asked fluently in her language.

Gabrielle, who was surprised, looked back up and answered and told him, "My people call me Gabrielle." She looked down again.

He motioned to someone behind him that she would be his and was willing to pay full price for his new slave. After a few minutes of talking to his own people in his own language, he led her to a room in one of the wealthier sides of the city and told her that this would be her room. As he turned away to leave, Gabrielle asked him, "What am I to call you?"

"You can call me Michael." He walked away.

Gabrielle looked at her new room. It was simple, elegant as well as large and roomy. They were in one corner of the building and it had two large windows that made up the walls that faced outside. When she looked, she could see the whole landscape in the gentle evening light. It was very beautiful. Green rolling hills, trees filled with blossoms. Everything reminded her of home and she vowed again out loud that she wouldn't have any feelings for this man or his people.

That night, Michael found Gabrielle lying on the floor. Strange. I don't know anything about this new slave yet I feel a strange feeling coming from her. A sense of calmness... Peacefulness... And all that hurt in her eyes... What could have happened that she would be hurting that way? But he knew and hated the reason behind it. Because she was taken against her will. There's a strong person behind that mask. If only she could trust me... He went to his closet, pulled out a blanket, and covered her with it before getting in his own bed next to her.

At dawn, Gabrielle got up. She looked and saw Michael still sleeping, so she got up quietly and folded the blanket. She set it down next to her and sat down, looking out one window. It had the perfect view of the sunrise. Seeing it made her think of her family once again. How many times did I see this with father? she asked herself. Every morning before going out of the village to learn something new, we'd watch the sun rise. I miss him so much. Her thoughts traveled to the numerous walks into the forests, the climbs up distant mountains, learning the ways of animals and influences of plants. She remembered most however, the talks they had when she wasn't learning. They could talk about anything in the world. She cried silently as the sun climbed upward.

Gabrielle didn't hear Michael get up. He wasn't much of an early riser, but when he saw Gabrielle looking out, he was suddenly awake. Then he saw her crying. She must be hurting so bad, he thought. Again, his heart ached to comfort her. He got out of bed, crept behind her, and hugged her from behind. Gabrielle was started at first, but felt that she could trust him. They watched the rest of the sunrise together.

Breakfast came, and he led her to a dining room. She stood behind him as he ate, giving him the food and drink he asked for. He asked if she was hungry several times, but she lied and said no. After the masters had eaten, Michael brought her with him outside. They walked to an apple tree and Michael picked an apple for her to eat. Gabrielle took it and ate, grateful.

He talked to her in her language, explaining everything to her. Occasionally, he said a word in his own language and made her repeat it. In this way, he taught her new things everyday, and the pain she had felt earlier began to become more bearable. The two became almost inseparable, as good friends usually become. They formed a bond that only the two of them shared, trusting each other with everything.