How I came to be jessed - well, like many others sold into indentured servitude, I was purchased by the highest bidder, to hunt and cure animal hides for sale in the village market. That is what it means to be jessed, which differs from slavery in that it is chosen by rather than forced upon an individual. Being jessed is not slavery, but freedom. The jessed have few worries, few needs that are not met by their masters, and usually end up with marketable skills when the term of contract expires. In many ways, it's similar to apprenticeship, but in other ways it's a gamble; the jessed whose master is cruel faces years of torment and abuse. But what in life is guaranteed? All is risk. Anyway, one may flee a cruel master, start fresh in another town.
I was born Laerti Rhys'Kurt, to my mirastri (mother), the half Elven and half Sylvan wife of my pernarthu (father), who was of Sylvan descent. Raised in a small Elven Village in Wehnimer’s Landing, I learned to speak, read and write the Eldanar language. Mirastri tutored me and when I was old enough, began to teach me the art of curing hides. At this time, I was too young to hunt, so I stayed at home with Mirastri, curing hides left for us by Pernarthu. As our fur trade often took us to the city of Wehnimer's and the town of River's Rest, I also learned Common, the language of the mostly-human merchants. Some of our neighbors were Elven warriors, who taught me Warrior-speak, a skill that served me well in later years when I became a hunter in my own right. They introduced me to the Order of Voln, and helped me in the long and patient process of learning the skills needed to become a Voln Master.
My pernarthu, a born hunter and skinner, was a fisherman by trade. Over the years, he had saved his coins and purchased a small fishing vessel, and hired local villagers to sail with him. With his crew, he would often go out to sea and be gone for several months at a time. While he was away, he would leave with Mirastri and I the hides he had trapped between sailings, these to be cured and sold to support the family in his absence. When I was old enough, Pernarthu taught me, whenever he could spare time, how to fish, sail, hunt and skin. We spent days at sea together fishing and hauling crab back to the village for sale. Later, he took me on as a part-time apprentice, sometimes taking me out to sea with him.
Several years passed, and my mirastri took ill. Pernarthu had to go back out to sea, so I stayed home to care for her. I cured and sold the hides, as Mirastri was too sick to do so. But I had not grown skilled enough to support the family by myself; I often made mistakes in curing, and those hides would fetch no profit. Our income dropped as I tried to handle the household single-handedly. I began to fear that soon we would not have enough money to buy Mirastri's medicines, or pay the village healer. I hoped my pernarthu would bring home a large catch of crabs or fish, and keep the family out of debt.
One fateful night, Pernarthu's boat was caught in a horrible storm at sea. Pieces of the boat were found floating in the ocean. It was obvious that something terrible had befallen him and his crew. Villagers searched the waters for several weeks hoping to find some clues as to what happend, but no bodies were ever found.
I knew not where to go or what to do. With Mirastri sick, we were unable to sell enough skins because I was not yet good enough at skinning to reap a profit from it. In order to make money to care for Mirastri, I offered myself at auction, and was gratefully jessed to the highest bidder, a cave dweller in Danjirland. I worked happily for him, hunting and curing skins for trade, for two and a half years, honing my skills under his kind tutelage, until he passed away. As he had been a kind master, and generous, I was saddened when he died. Fur trading being the only skill I really knew, and with much about it still to learn, I set out in search of a new owner who might complete my training. I have yet to find one as wise and gentle as the cave dweller, but I am not giving up. I now reside in a town called Solhaven, where I am much of a loner, but hope to one day be jessed again. Every now and then, I return to the Elven Village to visit Mirastri and check that she is well cared for. I still grieve for Pernarthu, and saved my coins to purchase a tattoo -- a colorful sailing ship on my waist -- to honor his memory. And that is how I came to be jessed.