The crowd had simmered down, new sawdust had been laid over the blood in the pit and Spike had established the lock on the gate pick-proof. Tresten came down to the centre of the pit and smiled up at the audience.
"Number Three was a most reluctant prize, was he not?”
Laughter accompanied the shouted, “most reluctant.”
“Yet he declined the opportunity to Bid for freedom from Tresten,” Tresten faced the cages. “Yes, all captives may Bid to be Earners rather than Earned. Should they be reluctant to do so,” Tresten spread his arms and turned in a circle, “you, my good people, may win them from me. In accordance with custom, Tresten has selected his favourites and they will not return to Bidding after tonight."
The audience quietened.
"This night and this night only, you may bid for Number Four, a pretty thing harvested on this very night. Number Five, a vampire who is sure to temper Tresten with cool ecstasy and Number Six, a dark eyed beauty to add fire to Tresten’s bed," he winked at Xander.
The theatre echoed with wolf whistles.
Tresten walked up to the cage and leered in at Dawn. “What say you, Number Four? Do you wish to Earn freedom from Tresten?”
Spike thought he might explode. He stepped in front of Dawn and shielding her from Tresten’s leer, slanted his head up at the giant.
“There’s been a mistake, mate. She’s not free to Bid. Her, her and him,” he pointed at Dawn, Fred and Xander, “they belong to me and I’ll do the earning of freedom.”
Laughing, Tresten walked to a staircase and sat on the fifth step up. "You have no people, Number Six was clear on that."
"Like I said, Number Six was mistaken. Tell him,” he swatted Xander’s ass hard, jarring him against the bars. "Tell Tresten who you belong to."