Saturday, 6 May 2017

Mistress Of Gor Chapter Four

Chapter 4: Jacinta and I attend the Theatre in Corcyrus. I enjoy tormenting a male slave called Brinn. I am such a bitch these days

I have been very happy these past few days in the company of the delightful former Miss Rachel Evans of Oakhampton. On this wild and barbaric planet I seem to have made a friend, and that.  coupled with the fact that the initial shock of capture has receded, meant I was free in a sense to enjoy the delights of being a real woman, albeit on a planet where women are second class citizens. I had always longed to relate to female friends as one of them, to be able to share in what must seem like mundane activities to more typical men - to shop, to meet for lunch, to gossip and giggle, to drink a little wine, to talk clothes and beauty tips, and for several days I had precisely that experience with the Lady Jacinta. It felt like the last days of summer, when you try to make the most of the unexpected heat wave, knowing that in just a week or two darker skies and the first touch of an Autumnal chill is lurking around the corner. Jacinta kept telling me she was expecting Kurgus to despatch her away from Corcyrus on another mission 'any day now' and so we made the most of our time, meeting up when my Gorean lessons with Tallia had finished, and exploring the city together. It was fascinating, and I loved that time and I think had my life continued in that vein I could have been very happy.

Of course I wanted to fuck Jacinta. She was gorgeous. But how could I? She wasn't a lesbian, and I no longer had a penis.

Yes it was frustrating having to cover myself in public, even to an opaque veil, but would I have swapped being a genuine woman for returning to my previous life as a man on Earth? No, I don't think I would have. I loved my new body. I wouldn't trade it back for anything, even if that had been possible. At night as I lay in my bed I could barely comprehend my good fortune (for so it seemed at that moment before things turned sour) that I had been granted a fresh start as a pampered and beautiful girl on this savagely splendid planet. I lay most nights on the silk sheets of the great couch in my bed chambers, stroking my body, feeling the swell of my breasts, my hands then straying down between my legs and, oh God, the sheer pleasure… it was indescribable. Men - you have no idea, no idea at all how a female orgasm feels compared to your own. It is sheer bliss. It fills your body entirely, unlike anything stroking a penis can do. But then later in the night I would grow lonely for the touch of another person, for I was on Gor and being a Free Woman meant sexual intercourse was practically impossible. It would be unthinkable to order a slave-girl to my couch to pleasure me, no matter how much I might want her. The men of the villa would hear of such a thing and I was frightened how they might react. I might be killed. It was taboo on much of Gor. Too, even if I desired the touch of a man - and of course I didn't - I had no interest in them - no interest at all, no matter what Tallia may have thought - they would not touch me while I was the Free Woman living in Kurgus's estate. Why would they risk his ire? There were slave-girls aplenty for them to bed, day or night.

Slave-girls never wanted for sex of course, and by all accounts the sex was amazing if the elated look in their eyes before and after was anything to go by. I could always tell in the morning, when Louise tended to my bath and dressing me, if she had been brutally used during the night. There was such a spring in her step and her body seemed vibrantly alive. I couldn't understand why slave-girls were so happy to serve a Gorean man. They were given no choice after all. They were made to obey. They were practically raped. It angered me. I began to resent Louise and the other girls in their brief slave tunics for the hold they had over the men and for how happy they seemed at times. It irritated me when I would be saying something to Kurgus, or Seremides, or one of the other men, like Morgan, and as soon as a slave-girl entered the room, they would grow immediately distracted, as if bored by my conversation. I was beautiful too - probably more so than Louise, and yet in these cumbersome multi-layered gowns that barely showed the lines of my body, and wearing the layers of veils, my own beauty counted for nothing as it couldn't be seen. On Earth I knew I would easily have had men wrapped around my finger, eager to please me in any way I wished, if I dressed in an enticing manner. Men would clamour for my attention, competing to please me, now that I had a body as beautiful as this. I could easily have influence, wealth, power even. But here on Gor my beauty was concealed behind heavy drapes. 

You must bear in mind though of course that I had no interest in the attention of men. Of course not. My body might have been female, but my mind was still male. I wanted a woman. Women were beautiful and graceful; they wore such wonderful clothes and all my life I had wanted desperately to be like them. But still, I felt a little jealous at times of the way the men looked at the slave-girls. I didn't want the men of course. But still.      

I was due to meet Jacinta in the Gardens of Delphinia in central Corcyrus, just off from one of the dusty thoroughfares near the Street of Leather Makers for a drink before we would then go on to visit the theatre close by. It was one of our favourite meeting places for lunch as it resembled a high walled cloistered garden of Andalusian style with plants that would not have seemed out of place in the ancient gardens of Athens, and many beautiful water features that complemented the decorative urns and baskets of flowers. The garden smelt of exotic perfumes from carefully cultivated plants, and usually in the warm afternoons a modestly attired slave-girl would sit unobtrusively in a corner beside one of the fountains, playing a flute or harp for our contentment. It was essentially a place where Free Women could gather away from the stern admonishments of men, a place of privacy, run by Lady Delphinia, where we could kneel comfortably at a low table in small groups in the shade of what resembled olive and citrus trees to drink rich ka-la-na wine from small glasses, partake of small bowls of assorted delicacies and speak intimately without fear of what we might be saying. Men did not frequent the Gardens, with the exception of the occasional male slave who may have been brought along to carry a woman's shopping, but of course slaves didn't count. I was irritated that the beauty of the place was somehwat spoilt by strands of tarn wire stretched between the tops of the courtyard walls to prevent the descent of the giant hunting birds of Gor that could easily carry a raiding warrior on its back, but Jacinta explained it was a necessary precaution for it was not unheard of for an enemy Tarnsman mounted on one of the great winged beasts of Gor to swoop down on just such a courtyard frequented by High caste women, to seize and carry one away as a capture.

Within moments you might be plucked from where you knelt at a low table, thrown on to the back of the giant bird and carried aloft before anyone could react. The Tarnsman could easily bind you in mid air and carry you to an enemy city where you would that night feel the sharp kiss of the slaver's branding iron. Is that what you will risk in order to make the view of the night sky a little prettier?”

I suppose she had a point.

To be sure, the Tarnsmen of Corcyrus were supposed to patrol our skies to prevent just such an occurrence, but as Jacinta explained, ever since Corcyrus had lost the Silver Wars in what would have been the Gorean equivalent of 1983, she had been in effect a diminished city state. Back then the armies of Argentum had defeated the Corcyrian forces in several pitched land battles and had breached the great walls of the city to overthrow the then ruler, a female Tatrix. For decades Corcyrus was effectively a conquered city with a puppet ruler, nominally under the rule of Argentum's ally - Ar. Only recently had Corcyrus been able to re-establish some form of faltering authority, but still it was obliged to comply with strict surrender terms limiting the extents of its armed forces. The most crippling limitations insisted upon by Argentum and Ar concerned the size of the Corcyrian Tarn force.

I had been in the habit of travelling from the villa of Kurgus (situated in the wealthier quarters of the city) to the bustling centre of Corcyrus by palanquin. It is essentially a covered sedan chair (or litter) carried on four poles. The original word derives from the Sanskrit word for a bed or couch. Women of means traditionally travel this way because as I have mentioned before, the cumbersome robes of concealment make walking long distances uncomfortable and impracticable. The palanquin is traditionally carried by strong male slaves, and Kurgus had confirmed I was free to make use of his work slaves whenever I wished to travel.

There was something very exciting about having four incredibly strong Gorean men shackled to the poles of my palanquin. I probably sound cruel and spiteful now, but you must bear in mind I had by now lived for several months on a planet where the native men expected me to defer to them at every opportunity. As a woman I was dictated to and judged by centuries of culture and rules and if I, or any other woman stepped out of line, I would be swiftly punished for it. My freedom came on the sufferance of men, and so I was more than delighted to be able to order four such Gorean men – any one of whom would dearly love to have had me chained to a slave ring at the foot of his couch, when he was free – to carry me through the streets and obey my every command. Yes, these men of Gor would obey the Lady Felicia. And if they did not, I would have them whipped.

Oh, but it was a sweet form of revenge against the patriarchal rule on this planet. It was the one exception to the rule that I must always defer to men, for when a man was enslaved he no longer had any authority over me.   

The slave pens were kept clean, but even so there was the musky scent of too much pent up testosterone that lingered in the air this morning. I gazed at the men in their heavy steel collars crouching behind the bars, staring with hungry eyes at my slim form as it stood there, tantalisingly out of their reach. They were slept naked in thick piles of straw and washed each morning with buckets of cold water before simple rough work tunics were issued. I had, as it happens, purely by accident, forgetting the time, arrived before the tunics were given out, and I happened to see how virile and powerful they looked unclothed. The sight of me, even dressed in robes and veils, seemed to excite them in a way that was all too visible. It had, I think, been a long time since they had been permitted to touch a woman.

“My apologies, Lady,” said the gruffly spoken Morgan, seeing what I could see standing stiffly upright between their legs. “Shall I have them whipped for their disrespect to you?” He glared at the men and seeing the threat embedded in his eyes, the men reluctantly stood back from the bars. Still they regarded me though, as a cat might regard a mouse that was beyond reach.

“There is no need. I am above such things.” I happened to gaze again by chance at their thick cocks and marvelled at what I saw. Viagra be damned, these men could hang Russian kettle bells from those stiff rods. Curiously I felt a strange tingle in my loins, but I quickly ignored it. 

A surly and brutish bunch, I thought. They were all physically very strong, far stronger than any man I had seen on Earth, but then they laboured long and hard in the fields of the villa from morning to dusk under the watchful gaze of overseers with coiled whips. There's was not the relatively light slavery that a woman might endure, but rather comprised of back breaking work. They would probably have been criminals or foreign soldiers captured after battle. I had brought the keys to the pens and, inserting one into the lock on, first Brinn's cage, opened the doors to each in turn.

As the four males were released from the pens and given smart tunics to wear, suitable for walking beside my palanquin, the guards motioned for them to file past me, which they did, blinking as they stepped outside into the direct sunlight from the concrete pens. Making our way to the shelter where the palanquin was stored, I ordered them to kneel in their appointed places while a guard chained them one at a time to the poles. A trip to the market meant a change of scenery for them – almost certainly slave girls to view - which many of them would consider a treat. I had of course noticed the insolent way in which Brinn had looked at me, but somehow I didn't mind. It amused me to remind Brinn of my femininity and know that Brinn desired me. It was natural enough. The Kurii machines had transformed me into a beautiful woman with a body and features that still amazed me each time I studied them in a mirror, and Brinn was a Gorean man deliberately deprived of the touch of women. I was like a juicy cooked bosk steak to a starving man. Some of Kurgus's household men shackled the four slaves to the palanquin while I watched. Brinn continued to look surly as his wrists were secured in steel that was far heavier than anything that was ever locked on slave girls.

“Perhaps there will be some slave girls for you to look at in the market place, Brinn. Won't that be nice?” I stroked his chest through his tunic as one of Kurgus's guards checked the shackle fixtures to his satisfaction. I marvelled at how strong his chest felt. Like iron. Oh, but I was so cruel. I enjoyed mercilessly teasing Brinn, reminding him of what he could not have. I was a bitch, perhaps, but it was my revenge against Gor and Gorean men in general.

Once the chains seemed in place, the guard presented me with a set of keys that corresponded to the shackles. I held the keys up close to Brinn's face and laughed. “Such a strong Gorean man, shackled to a Lady's palanquin. How far you have fallen, man of Gor?”

Brinn couldn’t suppress the shiver of excitement at the feel of my hand even though it was cushioned by the fabric of his house tunic but he looked up from his knees to meet my gaze and said, “Yes, Mistress, it will be good to gaze on slave flesh.” Perhaps if it were not for the shackles Brinn would indeed desire to show me what a strong Gorean man was capable of doing.

I took my place on the cushioned chair fixed to the palanquin platform and brushed three of the four curtains closed, to the rear and the sides, leaving only the front open to view. Then, as if on a whim, I opened the right hand curtain too, from which I could gaze down at Brinn as he lifted and carried his side of the conveyance. I liked the way his muscles rippled and flexed as he bore the heavy weight of the palanquin. I liked the way his skin shone with a veneer of sweat as he toiled in the hot sun. It was interesting to watch him as he carried my palanquin. I suppose some women might consider him handsome. I do not know for sure. I of course did not have any interest in men. Once I was sat comfortably, and once I had smoothed down my skirts, I gave the order to depart. “Raise the palanquin,” I demanded. “We're going to the market place and then to the Gardens of Delphinia. Remember you are carrying your Mistress. If the ride is rough you will all be punished. Ha-Ta!”

Brinn and the other male slaves duly chorused “Yes, Mistress” then with choreographed precision, lifted the palanquin placing the poles on their shoulders, accomplishing this smoothly without rocking the platform. Stepping out in unison they left through the rear gate and followed the avenues towards the market place. They had been well trained, and Kurgus had been very clear that if they were not good at the job they would be killed, and all knew Kurgus delivered the threat with evident sincerity. The palanquin jockeyed through the crowds and as we neared the market place, Brinn took in the view, including several very shapely slave-girls while waiting for me to provide detailed direction to my destination. The journey didn't take long. I sat in bored silence as the slaves threaded their way through the main thoroughfares. Generally speaking pedestrians made way for a palanquin, assuming correctly enough that the passengers would be rich or important, or more likely rich AND important. Close to the bustling market place was an area set aside for conveyances such as my palanquin. They could be safely left here during daylight hours along with the chained slaves while the passengers walked through the narrow market lanes. “This will do,” I said as I indicated a space close to some cafe fronts. The Lady Jacinta was to meet me at the walled gardens. With careful precision of movement, the male slaves lowered to their knees and then eased the poles of the palanquin from their shoulders to the ground with the softest of possible landings, remaining on their knees to await further instruction.

I stepped down off the platform and placed my right foot on the surface of the road. For one brief moment I had raised my skirts just a little to enable me to step down and Brinn had caught a glimpse of my shapely ankle. I turned, gazing towards the cafe fronts and then reached for the set of keys that the guard had given me. “You can come with me, Brinn, in case I buy anything later on that requires carrying.” I stepped close to the slave and fumbled with the iron key in the lock of the shackles around his wrists. How pleasing it was to own a Gorean man like this, to have him in my power. The lock was stiff and required some effort on my part to turn the key in such a heavy mechanism. I struggled, where a man might not. But then there was a loud click as the lock yielded to my effort. The first shackle sprang free on Brinn's right wrist. Then I turned to his other hand and, taking hold of his wrist for a moment with my left hand, worked the lock free on that shackle too.

Brinn hadn’t missed the glimpse of my ankle as I left the palanquin, and from the expression on his face he no doubt looked forward to making lengthy comparisons with the ankles of the slave girls passing by. He rose to his feet when I had freed him from the shackles, ready to follow wherever I led. I produced a set of close chains and held them up for him to see.

“Wrists, Brinn.” With a shrug of his shoulders he held his wrists towards me and one by one I locked them into strong steel cuffs with twelve inches of chain separating them. I would keep my slave chained during the afternoon even though there was no real need. He wore a steel collar detailing the name of his owner and the reward that would be offered if he was to run away and be returned. There was no where he could run to in Corcyrus. No one would give shelter to a male slave. But even so, the thought of Brinn not being chained made me fell nervous in the pit of my stomach. He towered above me, and his broad shoulders dwarfed my slim, delicate body. In the wild, without any authority to prevent him, Brinn could easily have snapped my neck with a single twist of his great hands.

Or anything else he wished to do to me.

I shivered for a moment before I remembered that he was a slave, and I was, in effect, his Mistress.   

“I'm going to be meeting the Lady Jacinta in the cloistered gardens, Brinn.” I motioned for him to follow me across the market square, signalling for him to heel. “Have you been fed since last night?”

“No, Mistress. Were we at your home, slaves would be fed at about this time”

“Hmm. Well, we're likely to be away from the house for several hours. If you beg nicely, I'll buy you a pastry in the gardens.” I stopped when we reached the walled entrance and, after waiting a moment or two for the great wooden door to open, entered with Brinn close behind me. About half of the low tables in the garden were occupied by kneeling women, usually in small groups of between two to four at a time. Nearly all of the women had removed their veils – one of the things I liked most about the place – because of course with no men about, there was no need for veiling.

“I feel like I can breathe again,” I said to no one in particular as I unwound the multiple layers of thin gauze from my lower face. I sensed a sharp intake of breath from Brinn as he saw my features unveiled, and I smiled secretly to myself, knowing how strongly my beauty must be affecting him now. It is not natural for a Gorean man to be able to view a woman taking liberties such as I was, and not to be able to then take her for his pleasure. I was a bitch. I loved making Brinn feel this way. It was his own fault for being Gorean.

“Do you like what you see, Brinn?” I asked with a smile as I shook my long hair loose and unclipped the pins that had held my veils in place. I also removed my soft white gloves revealing the slim wrists.

“The Mistress is beautiful,” he said through gritted teeth and I laughed sweetly.

“Oh, Brinn, you are a delight! I should bring you with me more often!”

Slave girls in loose knee length white tunics, unbelted, with modest neck lines busied themselves bringing food and ka-la-na wine to the low set tables. If the girls had been serving at, say, a paga tavern, for the pleasure of men, they would have been dressed very differently, if dressed at all, but here in the Gardens of Delphinia the delicate sensibilities of Free Women would be observed and respected.

“You may speak freely this afternoon, Brinn, while we are away from the house,” I said as I took a sweet pastry from a tray, and broke it with my fingers. “Tallia tells me a slave is sometimes permitted such an indulgence when his Mistress is bored and wishes to converse with him. You will not be beaten for anything you might say while we talk. Open your mouth, boy.” I held the piece of the flaky pastry in my right hand and would feed Brinn like some sort of pet while we sat in the gardens.

“Thank you, Mistress,” he said, obediently opening his mouth, but I could tell from the tone of his voice he was a long way from being a tame pet.

“You take food from a woman's hand well, Brinn.” It amused me to feed him the small pastry piece by piece. “Just like a kajira might.” I wiped my fingers in his hair when I was finished. “Do you think me cruel?”

Brinn fought back a snarl. “Yes, Mistress. I am a man. It is cruel to treat me as a man might a kajira.”

“Oh? Really?” I thought about this for a moment. “And why do you think you are somehow better than a kajira? You wear a collar, after all. I'm sure if I were the one who wore a collar, and you were feeding me by hand, you would not think it cruel now, would you?”

Brinn allowed himself a smile at the thought of such a circumstance, perhaps in his mind he dreamed of such a thing coming to pass. When he looked at me it was with a predatory gleam in his eyes “Mistress is a woman, and so she would look beautiful in a collar. Perhaps she would enjoy feeding from my hand, the hand of a strong man who owned her.”

I laughed again. “You're very bold, Brinn. And you're certainly not shy when you're given permission to speak freely. So, you think your Mistress would look good in a collar? I suppose you'd like that. It must be frustrating for you that I'm free and you're not. But you're mistaken, Brinn. I'm not the sort of woman who would take food from a man's hand, on her knees. I'm not like the girls in the street cafes in their short serving tunics. Yes, I've seen how you looked at them when we passed the cafe fronts.”

Brinn smiled again, this time showing his teeth. “It is frustrating, Mistress, but I can hope that one day I will be free once more.” He gestured to one of the serving girls with his chained hands. “I did look at them, Mistress, as a man finds pleasure in looking at a pretty girl, thinking how he might use her for his own satisfaction. It is a natural reaction. Mistress is correct though, she is not like these girls, she is far more beautiful. Were she in a collar her beauty would not be wasted in a place such as this.”

“Oh?” I was curious now. “What do you mean, Brinn? What do you mean when you say I would not be wasted in a place such as this?”

“It would not be Mistress’ fate to be a mere serving slave almost ignored by those she serves. She would almost certainly be sold to one of the finest taverns in the City where men would pay coin for her use, bringing great profit to her owner. Or perhaps a wealthy man might buy her to teach her how to please him in the furs, make her crave his touch, beg deliriously for his favour, the pleasure he might give her.” Brinn paused as though in thought “No, Mistress would never be a common serving slave.”

“You... seem very certain about that Brinn.” I shifted slightly, feeling uncomfortable by the picture in my mind. “It is of course a ridiculous speculation for as you can see I am not a slave. I would never allow myself to be collared.”

Brinn lowered his head as though chastened by my words, coincidentally hiding any possible satisfaction at the trace of unease he heard in my voice “Of course not, Mistress, please forgive me.”

“I am not the sort of woman who would crave the touch of a Master, or beg deliriously for his favour. I am free, Brinn, remember that.” There was still a hint of unease in my voice as I spoke. Had Louise said anything to him of what she had seen in my chambers? There had been times when she had surprised me early in the morning, when I lay on my belly on the great bed, on the soft silken sheets, having woken early, stroking my sex with my fingers, feeling restless for the months I had spent on Gor not being touched by anyone in what is after all a sexually charged society. I know she had surprised me at least once and in my fury I had threatened her with the whip if she ever spoke about what she had seen. I had been touching myself between my legs, and worse, I had been doing so lying on the tiles, with the length of chain that is secured to the slave ring at the foot of my couch, wrapped loosely around my left ankle. I had not realised the time, or that Louise would enter soon to bathe and dress me. I had been furious. I had cursed her and chased her away. I had then cried on my luxurious bed, feeling so lonely and confused. It was perhaps the female hormones that were now a natural part of my body. I hadn't been in control of myself that morning. I would never allow such a thing to occur again.

I would have Louise beaten if she had dared to tell anyone what she had seen.

“You know that, don't you, Brinn? You know that I could never be a slave?”

“Mistress is correct, she is free and I am but her property. But Mistress is also a woman and life for a woman can be dangerous and if she were ever to encounter the misfortune of wearing a collar she would soon enough find herself on her belly begging for the attention of her Master, for she is but a woman.”

I of course had little understanding of what life was truly like for the unfortunate Gorean woman who might fall into the hands of a man. I had seen Free Women and I had seen slave-girls, but the reality of the transition from one state to another was beyond my imagination. “I suppose you have owned slaves before, Brinn? When you were free, I mean?”

“Mistress, I was not wealthy like Kurgus, with a large dwelling that required slaves to maintain it. I had no need to purchase a slave. When I needed a woman, I needed only spend a copper at a tavern or one of my friends would grant me the use of a slave. Also, it was simple enough to take a slave from the streets for a time to serve my needs. It might have delayed their errands but what was that to me?”

“I see. I forgot that you simply took a woman if she pleased you.” I shook my head, angry at the thought that men on Gor could do that. They really were savages, barbarians.  “I suppose if you were free and the opportunity and circumstances arose, you would perhaps have taken me at such a time.”

Brinn's smile grew broad “If I were free, Mistress would be worth a great deal of effort to ensure such circumstances might arise.”

My eyes flashed with barely restrained anger. “Really? A great deal of effort?”

"Yes, Mistress, effort that I am sure would be repaid many times over.”

In the months I had been on Gor I had never faced a man before who would actually look me in the face and tell me matter of factly that he would like to take me by force if the circumstances were different. Especially not a man who was a collared slave. For a moment I was stunned, not knowing what to say. Then, saying nothing I reached quickly for a goblet and drank from it. My throat felt dry. I needed a drink. Brinn noticed my hand tremble slightly as I held the goblet. It was nothing of course to bare my face before a slave in a secluded garden such as this, but it gave Brinn the opportunity to marvel at my luscious lips. They were probably not unlike slave lips, to Brinn's mind. Easy to crush in a Master's kiss. Humiliating as his subservient position was, Brinn was at least deriving some entertainment from my confused responses. He obviously gathered that I was as yet unfamiliar with the pleasure that a woman could succumb to when taken by a strong man but perhaps he was beginning to wonder now what I might be like in the furs.

“I will never free you, Brinn. You know that, don't you? You will be a slave for the rest of your life. So forget any thoughts – any fantasies you may have of being free and throwing me to the floor and stripping and collaring me. It will never happen.”

Brinn lowered his eyes to the floor in deference. "Yes, Mistress, I am yours to command." There was a slight twist of a smile to his lips as he said that.

A slave-girl rose and approached us, dropping to her knees before the me. “Welcome, Mistress. Do you require a table?” She had noticed Brinn of course, but had happily ignored him.

“Yes, a table, and close to the back of the garden please. I have a dear friend who will be joining me shortly. We will be staying for just the one drink before attending the theatre. We will wish to speak in private.” I clicked my fingers at Brinn and motioned for him to follow as the kajira led us through the the most private enclosure between the thickest trees and bushes. Three quiet spaces could be found there, two of which were still empty as most patrons preferred to sit close to the fountains and other water features.

“Kneel here, Brinn.” I pointed to my feet. It was close enough for me to be able to feed him by hand if I so wished. “And, girl, bring some fruit juice and a bowl of water for my slave,” I said to the kajira. “I assume you're thirsty, Brinn?”


Jacinta seemed troubled when she arrived. She had told me yesterday that she would be meeting with Kurgus in the evening and attending to 'some business' in the morning.

“I'm late, I know, things took longer to arrange than I expected. My network in Corcyrus is extensive, but frustrating at times.” Jacinta knelt beside me, quickly unpinning her own veil and baring her face as I had done. She smiled when she saw Brinn and cast me an enquiring look. “Mmmm, who's the beef cake?”

“A palanquin slave. His name is Brinn. Be careful, he's not exactly docile.”

Jacinta laughed at that, but I noticed how she gazed in delight at his brawny muscles and chiselled jaw. I suppose Brinn was good looking, handsome even. I suppose that was the case. I wouldn't know, of course. “You can't bring him into the theatre. You'll have to chain him outside. I'd be too distracted and wouldn't pay attention to the play otherwise.”

“Jacinta!” I was shocked. I had never heard a Gorean Free Woman speak like that before.

“Relax, Felice. We can say anything we like here. No men, remember?”

“God, you're terrible.” I laughed as I poured us both glasses of ka-la-na wine. The wine came from the vineyards of Vonda and was our favourite, though Jacinta didn't seem to appreciate it quite the way I did. “He caught sight of my ankle when I stepped off the palanquin earlier today. And, God, I shouldn't be saying this, but... you should have seen him this morning when he was naked and first clapped eyes on me. He's HUGE!”

“Do tell.” Jacinta clinked her glass against mine. We both shifted our gaze towards Brinn as he stood there calmly regarding us, unconcerned that we were discussing his physical attributes as if he were perhaps a prize bull.

“I'd show you, but..” I gazed around at the other refined Free Women within the area.

“Better not. We don't want to start a riot.” Jacinta laughed and then put down her glass. She suddenly looked serious. “I'm leaving tonight. An hour or two after the play in fact.”

“A mission?” I stared at her in horror. “No, you're my best friend... you can't leave me!”

“Hah. I'm your only friend. No one else would put up with little Miss Frigid from London. Yes, Kurgus briefed me last night. I'm leaving once it gets dark. I've already packed.”

“ no... please don't go. The last couple of weeks have been the best of my life. Please... when will I see you again? When are you coming back?”

“Who knows. And by the time I do you probably won't be here anyway. The truth is, it might be years or never before we cross paths again. This isn't like Earth where we can take a train or plane and meet up at the weekend. I'm sorry Felice.” Jacinta placed her hand over mine. “To be honest I'm worried about this one. It feels bad.”

“What? No! Don't go! You can't go then!”

“We don't have a choice. Do you think I have a choice?”

“No.” I sounded quiet and forlorn. Soon it would be my time too and I would be sent out into remote parts of Gor that few women from Corcyrus would ever have seen, accompanied only by my appointed handler, Seremides, a man for whom the job had been assigned as a 'punishment detail' for mistakes he had made previously. I was suddenly very scared both for Jacinta and for myself. “I don't think I can do this! I don't think I have what it takes to be Kurgus's agent in some foreign barbaric land. He's made a mistake! I can't do this! He chose the wrong girl!”

“Hush. By the Priest Kings, never say that to him! Never! Do not ever let him doubt you. Do you think this is a game to him? If you fail then he loses something important in his great schemes. He would never send you if he thought you were incapable of carrying through his mission. Do you want to be collared and enslaved? Because that's the only alternative you have to working for him as I do. Well?”

“No... I do not want to be collared and enslaved. But I don't have your confidence and skills.”

“Nor did I when I first started. It comes through experience. Seremides will help you. He'll resent your authority but he would die before he would allow you to fail Kurgus.”

“Kurgus is going to send me to the deserts of the Tahari! To the ancient city of Patashqar, wherever that is! I'll be useless there!”

“You shouldn't tell me where you're going. Never tell anyone about your mission, Felice.”

“But I can tell you. I trust you.”

“Priest Kings preserve me, you really are going to be useless.” Jacinta rolled her eyes in exasperation. “No you cannot trust me, and you're stupid to think that. If I was being tortured for information, do you think I'd hold out telling the enemy where you're headed if telling them meant an end to excruciating pain? We all break. We're all weak in the end.”

“I'm sorry.” I could see that something had changed in Jacinta's eyes. She looked at me now in a slightly different way. But I couldn't understand what it was.

“I shouldn't have spent so much time with you. It was a mistake.”

“Please don't say that. Please. I love you, Jacinta.” I reached out my hand and Jacinta allowed me to take it.

“Forget it. I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. I spoke out of turn. I'm tired and I'm nervous and it makes me poor company this afternoon. I always get nervous before a new mission. Let's drink up and head to the theatre. I was going to show you one last Gorean tradition before we say goodbye.”


True to her word, Jacinta had insisted I chain Brinn outside with various other personal slaves. The theatre owner gave me an engraved disc with a number on it pertaining to his chain leash so that I could reclaim him after the performance. The male slaves were chained to a long horizontal bar set into the wall on one side of the building exterior, while the female slaves were chained at the other side to a similar bar for obvious reasons.

“He'll be all right here, will he?” I asked. Brinn stood proudly beside several slightly shorter men. Unlike him they weren't heavy work slaves, but rather domestic slaves. By Earth man standards they were still strong of course, and all of them were far, far stronger than either Jacinta or myself, but compared to Brinn they were practically boys.

“There's a water trough if he gets thirsty,” explained Publius the attendant as he clicked the lock shut on Brinn's collar, “and he can shit on the floor if he needs to.” I could see Brinn was gazing hard at seven slave-girls in brief street tunics who knelt chained to the second bar at the female side of the theatre front. None of them could met his gaze.

“Behave yourself, Brinn,” I snapped, clicking my fingers in his face. “They are not for you.”

“Apparently not.” Brinn paused. “Mistress...” He gazed down at me with a polite smile. His wrists were still chained with twelve inches of chain between the cuffs. Is hands were huge. Together they could easily snap a man's neck in a single motion.

“I don't like the way you were looking at those girls.”

“That is clear it me now. But rest assured they are not my primary interest.”

I was of course veiled once more, but Brinn had seen my face in the Gardens of Delphinia, and I suspect he would never forget it. “Oh? And what exactly does that mean?” I stared up at him with my hands on my hips.

“Mistress earlier said I was free to speak my mind without fear of punishment when we approached the Gardens of Delphinia. May I ask whether that condition still holds true?”

“I suppose it does. Yes.”

“Then I think that if Mistress was on her knees, chained to the slave bar on the other side of the theatre front, dressed provocatively in a simple white tunic, barefoot, helpless until her Master returned, then she would be the only girl I would be gazing at.”

I slapped Brinn hard across the face, but he didn't even flinch. I became aware of Jacinta laughing beside me.

“Well, you did give him permission to speak, Felice.” She waved the two wooden carved tickets in my face. “look, we need to take our seats before someone else does. You can always whip him later when you return to the villa.”

“Maybe I will.” I took one of the two tickets and glared at Brinn. “There's a water trough you can drink from if you get thirsty.”


The Corcyrian theatre was laid out very much like a Greek theatre. There was a backstage area, seating arrangements for the audience, and an orchestra pit. Theatres in the central Gorean cities started out as simple, temporary wooden structures, often the home to travelling troupes of players who would perform a selection of tragedies, mysteries, and more popularly, comedies. Tonight's performance was by a travelling company of actors owned by a man called Boots Tarsk Bit, which struck me as a very strange name even by Gorean standards. His group of players would be performing almost exclusively a selection of comedies, mostly farces, many of which were his exclusive property. The layout of the stage was the same as in later stages: three doors, opening to the separately contrived locations, such as a brothel, a temple, or a hero's house. The stage itself was enclosed by wings at each side, and the scene house had a roof. By compartmentalising the stage it was possible to perform on one stage, be ready to move to a second, while a third was in preparation from having previously been used.

The audiences sat on temporary wooden benches where there was room; but this soon became untenable if the performance was a popular one as standing patrons would soon cram in and make sitting down impractical. Due to the time it had taken me to arrange for Brinn's tethering outside, we had lost our seats near the front.

Jacinta glared at me with pretend anger as we stood close to some other women. Nearly 90% of the audience was male, and this was due to the rather ribald nature of Boots Tarsk Bits's usual repertoire.

“I forgot to tell you by the way,” whispered Jacinta quietly as the performance was about to begin, “that Gorean theatre is almost always shit.”

“What?” I looked round at her in surprise. “But...”

“Oh yes. If we're lucky, we'll get to see something with the aesthetic quality of 'Carry on Camping'.”

“What?” I loathed 'Carry On' films with their diet of seaside postcard smut. “And if we're unlucky?”

“Oh, it'll probably be hardcore porn.”

“Jacinta! What are we doing here?”

“Well, I'm leaving tonight so I wanted to make sure our last day together was unforgettable.” She winked above her veil.

And then, to the accompaniment of loud cheers from the men in the audience, and some surprising tutting from a number of the Free Women, the play began.
The curtain lifts on a sparsely set stage that contains bare boards, a wooden backdrop meant to symbolise a Gorean cityscape and a solitary bush as a prop.The actor playing the hero Laertes strides onto the stage. As befits the traditional role of a Laertes, the character possesses an impressively large chin, suitable for stroking whilst deep in thought. I stare at Jacinta with an expression that is meant to say, 'for fuck's sake,” but of course the expression is hidden beneath my veil.

“And so to the city of Argentum I have come, I, Laertes the Wise, to make my fortune as men are wont to do, and of course to sample the delights of the paga taverns!” There are boos from the rowdy audience to the mention of Argentum – a city the men of Corcyrus hate, for it was Argentum who defeated the Corcyrian armies in 1983 and sacked their city. But there are then cheers at the mention of the paga taverns. I shut my eyes in disbelief and consider the possibility that Jacinta has an evil sense of humour when it comes to our last day together. “And yet, due to a deficiency in funds, I possess but two meagre copper tarsks to my name.” Laertes holds aloft both copper pieces to solicit mock cries of sympathy from the Gorean audience in the stalls. “Indeed, my friends. And yet,” Laertes now rubs his prodigious chin, “a thought occurs to me. Perchance these two coins can be put to a use that may in turn procure a better turn in my fortunes?”

Two ‘Free Women’ (in truth, slaves dressed in theatrical costumes, as no Gorean Free Woman would suffer the indignity of performing on stage) walk onto the stage from the left. They are fully robed and veiled and appear to be in deep and earnest conversation. By chance Laertes the Wise spots them and, drawing the attention of the audience towards them, says, “Why, if my eyes do not deceive me, I do spy two noble ladies of Argentum walking through this very same park, enjoying the fresh air and beautiful landscapes for which the city grounds are rightly famous. Ladies of Argentum have of course a reputation as being the purest and chaste in all of Gor!” The men in the audience laugh loudly and jeer at this comment. There are calls of “the women of Argentum are sluts!” and “women of Argentum belong in collars!” by way of reply. I frown and gaze at Jacinta who gives me her 'I told you so look'. We both giggle quietly at how bad this is, much to the annoyance of several men standing nearby. Laertes the Wise looks shocked as he listens to the audience and addresses them back. “But no, my friends, surely not? Everyone knows that the women of Argentum are chaste and pure. I know for a fact they would rather die than suffer the indignity of the collar.” And still the jeers of the audience contradict the actor, until he quickly motions for silence. “No, no, I cannot believe such a thing. Let me prove the purity of the good women of Argentum to the men of Corcyrus!”     

“Fine Ladies of Argentum - a moment of your time, if you will.” The seemingly friendly figure of Laertes the Wise appears before the two women. “I hesitate to trouble such noble women, but I have a small favour to beg of you in a most contrite and humble manner.” The women gaze up at Laertes with a degree of obvious condescension.

“What do you want? You have the look of a common vagabond or, even worse, performing player about you. As you can see we are women of High Caste, and it is hardly fitting that we spend time associating with the likes of you.”

“Again I hesitate to trouble you, but the truth is I beg the use of an empty purse for but a moment. My funds have sadly shrunk to the level of but a single copper tarsk,” Laertes holds up one of the two worn and battered looking coins in his possession, “and yet, thankfully, my last coin is but no ordinary coin. It is a magic coin of Anango, and with the aid of an empty purse I shall be able to replenish my funds to my satisfaction.”

The ladies seem curious, despite their dislike of the man’s peasant demeanour. “I am the Lady Lucy of Argentum.” The audience laughs out loud, for of course she has the name of an Earth girl and Earth girl names are often given to slaves as appropriate sounding for their station. This is because Goreans view Earth women as natural slaves, much to my annoyance. “And this is my good friend Lady Cindy of Argentum.” More laughter, for she too has an Earth girl slave name. “What is a magic coin of Anango?”

Laertes looks surprised, but also alarmed. Quickly he motions for the ladies to lower their voices, for they did in fact speak quite loudly. The audience, playing along, also falls quiet, after telling one another ssssh! “Please, do not draw attention to it.” He looks round in an overly dramatic manner, as if expecting to see thieves lurking around each corner. “I am surprised you have never heard of the coins of the Magicians of Anango. Forged from magical metal of meteoric origin, a coin of Anango, if placed within an empty purse, allows the holder of the purse to draw out additional coins so long as the magical coin remains within the pouch!”

“Surely not?” Lady Lucy looks naturally sceptical.

“But it is so! Why, I would be only too happy to demonstrate, if you but allow me the use of an empty purse for but a moment.” The women of Argentum look at each other with obvious signs of greed in mind. Lady Cindy produces a purse from inside her robes. She removes several silver coins from it and hands the now empty purse to Laertes.

“Why then, Sir, demonstrate the magic of your coin of Anango if you will.”

“By all means.” Laertes holds aloft his copper tarsk. “Behold the magical coin of Anango! See now how I place it, and it alone within the purse.” But as he does so, the audience is allowed to see the back of his hand quite clearly, where the second coin is gripped between his fingers, invisible to the ladies. He offers the men in the audience a knowing stage wink as if they are in on the confidence trick, indeed, as if they are co-conspirators in the act. This is known as 'breaking the fourth wall' in theatrical terms, recognising or acknowledging that there is an actual audience. The deed is done and the purse closed tight. “And now we but shake the purse and recite the magic words of the Magicians of Anango: Alacashar, Alacashan, and let us see what we now have.” He opens the purse again and removes two coins to the amazement of the ladies. “See – the magical coin and another, more ordinary coin.” He returns the empty purse to Lady Cindy and bows his head. “My thanks for now I have the means by which to purchase a cup of paga and a complementary slut. I go now, in gratitude, to the nearby tavern. Farewell, fine Ladies!” Laertes makes a big display of leaving, but has to pause for a moment to tighten his sandal strings, giving the women the chance to confer in stage whispers loud enough for the audience to hear clearly.

“The fool,” says Lady Lucy to Lady Cindy. “He possesses a magical coin of unparalleled wealth and uses it to produce but a single coin for paga! Does he not realise the same feat can be repeated again and again?”

Lady Cindy nods. “My thoughts exactly. In his desire for a simple life of cheap but intoxicating liquor and the company of disgusting paga sluts, he does not understand what he carries.” Now it seems Laertes’s sandal strap is tight enough and so he makes to leave, but before he can, in a fluster of long skirts, the two women hurry to block his way.         

“Not so quick, good and noble Sir!” wheedles Lady Cindy. “Tarry a while and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.” Lady Lucy is also quickly by his side. “As we have done you a great favour, perhaps you too could allow us a small service. Let us borrow the magical coin of Anango for a few ehn, that we may too try it for ourselves.”

Laertes rubs his chin once more, seemingly unsure. “Surely you have things to do, gentle Ladies of such noble and delicate bearing? Places to be? Although your company is indeed charming and delightful, I would not wish to bore you by troubling you any further.”

“Why, no trouble at all, kind Sir. Please... let us play with your magical coin for a while, as we are fond of such magical enchantments and rarely get to see them in the city of Argentum.”

“Very well, your entreaties and feminine charms have worked wonders upon me.” He winks knowingly at the audience to the sound of loud cheers and cries of 'strip and collar the Argentum sluts!' The atmosphere in the theatre is quite loud and rowdy, fuelled by the sale of cheap table ka-la-na wine from nearby booths. In my boredom I try a cup, costing a copper tarsk bit, and find it tastes like Blue Nun. I slop mine on to the sawdust packed on the ground beneath my soft slippers, which is the best place for it. Jacinta however drinks hers. I suppose, thinking about it, supermarket wine in 1975 before every street had a Waitrose, must have been equally as bad and so she doesn't know any better. “Here then is the magical coin of Anango. Use it for a while as I enjoy the healthy rays of the sun.” Laertes hands Lady Cindy one of his two ordinary copper coins and watches as she places it quickly in her empty purse, closes the purse and then opens it again.

“It hasn’t worked!” wailed Lady Cindy. She held out her hand and in it was but a single copper coin.

“Strange” Laertes rubbed his chin again, apparently deep in thought. “The magical coin of Anango has never failed before. From memory there are only two possible reasons for the enchantment to fail. We can easily discard the first of those possibilities. The coin will not work in the hands of a natural slave. Obviously slaves are prohibited from handling money, and so the enchantment was configured to prevent its use by them.”

“Well obviously I’m not a slave!” Lady Cindy looks irritated by the very suggestion.

“Quite. Quite. That is so obvious as to be beyond dispute,” Laertes says to Cindy. Laughter spreads throughout the audience in jovial disbelief. Now the girl playing Cindy – a slave-girl, of course, for real – blows an out of character kiss to the members of the audience, acknowledging their cheers and attention. Several of the men respond by shouting for her to show them her legs and breasts, making the slave-girl seem even more pleased. “That leaves the other possibility. Do you by chance wear garments spun from the looms of the island of Ianda? For as all but the most stupid men and women know, the cloth of Ianda resists the enchantments of Anango.”

“Of course. We know that.” Cindy and Lucy nod quickly in agreement. “The cloth of Ianda is resistant to magic. That is common knowledge to all but stupid men and women.”

“It is?” Laertes looks surprised for a moment before quickly correcting himself. “I mean, yes, it is!” There is of course no such place as the island of Ianda. It is worth noting too, that the fabled and fictitious Magicians of Anango are known of everywhere on Gor, except on the island of Anango, which does actually exist, but where the locals themselves have never heard of them. It is a commonly used cultural stereotype, much like Frenchmen eating garlic. 

“But I don’t recall buying cloth spun in Ianda.” says Lady Cindy.

“But you must have done!” said Laertes quickly. “Think clearly – if there are only two explanations for the magical coin failing to work, and we have discarded one of them – the possibility of you being a natural slave – then that only leaves the other explanation! By the application of pure brilliant and insightful logic, we have come to the only conclusion left.”

“He has a point,” agreed Lady Lucy. “You must be wearing cloth spun in Ianda, otherwise that would mean you’re a natural slave.”

“I recall now!” said Cindy quickly. Perhaps a little too quickly. “A man from Ianda sold clothes in the market place last year. I believe I purchased some.” She nodded to herself as the audience began to laugh again. Lady Lucy however looks at her suspiciously, much to the entertainment of the audience. She offers the audience a stage whisper meant for their ears alone: “Strange, for I know for a fact that my good friend Lady Cindy prefers to buy the cloth of Ar to that of all other cities. If I were a suspicious woman I might now be feeling suspicious...”

“There we have it then!” remarks Laertes with delight. “To prove the matter beyond any doubt, perhaps Lady Lucy would care to draw forth two coins from the purse.” As the ladies watch, Laertes replaced the magical coin of Anango in the purse and closed it once again.

“Happily, Sir.” Lady Lucy eagerly seized the purse from her rival, Cindy, and undid the thongs. But to her dismay she too drew forth only the single coin.

“Bizarre. Could you too be wearing cloth from the weavers of Ianda?” asks Laertes as he rubs his chin in a theatrical flourish.

Rather startled, Lucy glanced between Laertes and Cindy. “I recall buying from the same cloth merchant last year too!” The audience laughed again as both women regarded one another suspiciously, almost as if both knew the other one was lying.

“But to be sure, we must be.” Laertes took the magical again and returned it once more to the purse, but this time, as the audience can plainly see, he once again palmed a second coin into the bag. “Now let us see what we see. Ah!” he drew forth two coins. “So… nothing wrong with the bag or the enchantment on the coin. It must be one or more of your garments.”

“Perhaps we should be going…” suggested Lady Cindy as the audience continued to laugh.

“Yes, perhaps we have business elsewhere very soon…” added Lucy.

“But Ladies, wait – all you need do is…” Laertes looked round the stage several times, apparently not noticing the single piece of scenery until the very last moment – a fake bush which has now been carried on to the stage behind them by a stage hand dressed head to foot in black. This is a stage convention on Gor, and the audience is supposed to pretend stage hands in black are not there. “Yes – all you need do is step inside that fine piece of shrubbery, remove the offending garment, and then the purse will work for you!”

“I think we really should be going…”

“Unless…” now Laertes looked suspiciously at both women. “No, such a thought is beyond belief, for the women of Argentum are renowned as the most pure and chaste on all of Gor. And yet…”

“And yet?” the women of Argentum moved close together for moral support. Cindy and Lucy hold hands, trembling slightly as Laertes strokes his huge chin in deep thought.

“Unless, you are in a hurry to leave because you know for a fact your clothes are not spun in Ianda, which would mean that the magical coin has failed to work because you are both natural slaves?!”

“Preposterous!” cried Lucy.

“Absurd beyond measure!” added Cindy.

“And yet here you are, no longer interested in producing magnificent wealth for yourself. Such a change in behaviour is indeed suspicious.” Laertes rubbed his chin, deep in thought again. “Perhaps I should call a magistrate to investigate and clarify the matter to the satisfaction of all concerned?”

“No need! We hurry now into the bushes!” cries Lucy as the girls scamper behind the piece of scenery, much to the laughter of the men in the audience. The bush prop is of course arranged in such a way that it stands with its narrow edge facing the audience, therefore acting as a screen between Laertes and the women, but ensuring all three are visible to the audience.

“Is there much more of this?” I whisper to Jacinta.

“Oh yes,” Jacinta whispers back with a malicious wink. “Welcome to Gor.”

“Did you truly buy cloth from a merchant of Ianda?” asks Cindy.

“Why yes, of course,” Lucy lies convincingly, if a little nervously. “And you?”

“Probably the very same Merchant.”

“The offending cloth in question is likely to be your heavy brocade street gowns,” suggests Laertes in an effort to be helpful. “Pass me the items of clothing now, so that the magical powers of the coin will no longer be thwarted.” He stands with his back to the small hedge, winking again to the audience, as both girls reluctantly remove their street gowns to cheers from the assembled men in the straw covered stalls, some of whom begin to slap their left shoulders in applause. “Quick now,” says Laertes. “This is a public park after all.” The women thrust their garments over the bush into the man’s hands. Turning to the audience he winks knowingly once again as he thrusts the folded gowns into a sack at his feet. “Excellent! Try now, again, the magic coin of Anango!”

“It still doesn’t work!” cry Ladies Lucy and Cindy in unison after thrusting hands into the magic purse once more. Laertes considers this for a moment in an overly dramatic style and then replies, “in that case your lighter house gowns – they must be the offending articles. Remove them quickly and all will be well, I’m sure.”

The girls make a big show of indignation and annoyance as they strip down now to their slip like under garments, screened symbolically from Laertes, but of course fully exposed to the audience who appreciate the gradual displays of slave flesh. “Did you really buy your lighter house gown from a cloth merchant of Ianda?” asks an anxious Cindy. “Why yes, I must have…” replies a troubled Lucy, now more worried than before. Again the clothes are thrust over the fake hedge and once again Laertes shoves them quickly into his sack.

The men in the audience are laughing as the girls try the magic coin again, but to no one’s surprise a second coin still fails to appear. “The magic coin isn’t working!” wails Lady Lucy. “But this cannot be, for we now only wear our slips and veils.”

“Then by a decisive system of logic we have found the offending garments. The cloth workers of Ianda are of course famous for their soft slip undergarments and pretty veils. It should have occurred to us to begin with. Strip off behind the cover of the bush and prepare yourself for unparalleled wealth to come!”

“I like this not at all,” says Lucy as she removes her last layers of clothing, as does Cindy.

“Nor I,” she replies. “We are now as naked as slaves behind this bush!” Cheers from the audience, and now virtually all of the men begin to applaud, striking their left shoulders with their fists in appreciation at the slave bodies now exposed on stage. The girls give the men an out of character twirl, exposing themselves completely as the cheers drown out the dialogue for a few ihn. Flesh coloured adhesive patches cover the brand sites on the girls' bodies – again this is a theatrical convention for slave-girls to play the roles of Free Women in the nude. Often when such a girl is theatrically 'branded' as part of the story, the adhesive patches are simply removed with a flourish to reveal the existing brands.

“So then,” Laertes strokes his chin as he claims the intimate knee length slips handed to him over the hedge. “I surmise no cloth of Ianda stands between you ladies and the wealth that the magical coin of Anango will now generate for you. Oh happy day that your lives may be so enriched.” But although Laertes cannot see it, the girls are distraught as, now naked, concealed only by the bush, they take it in turns to dip their hands into the purse, but alas, each time they only succeed in pulling out the single plain coin of Anango.

“This cannot be,” says Lucy in anguish. “Still the coin does not work.”

“Impossible!” remarks Laertes. “Unless…” He frowns now and studies the hedge. “Unless one of you is truly a natural slave…”

“No!” cries Lucy.

“Not I!” cries Cindy. As one they turn and glare at one another in an accusing manner.

“The facts are unquestionable,” states Laertes. “One of you must be a natural slave, for the proximity of a slave girl body is obviously rendering the magical coin ineffective. The question that remains is simply… which one of you is secretly a slave and which one is not?”

“It must be Lucy!” cries Cindy.

“No, no! Obviously it is Cindy,” replies Lucy.

“I can see a determination of the matter must be carefully considered. Happily there is an easy way to settle this. Step forth from behind the hedge. As a man with some experience in these matters, it will be easy to tell which of you has the body of a chaste free woman and which of you has the delicious curves and sweet belly of a slave girl in heat.”

“But we are naked!” wails Cindy and Lucy. “Give us back our clothes first.”

“How ridiculous. It would be difficult to determine which of you has the body of a slave if you were both fully dressed. Quick now, or will I have to chase you out from behind the bush with a switch?”

“No!” Lucy runs out from behind the bush to loud cheers from the audience. Cindy follows close behind to even more cheers. Both girls are blushing and acting coy and demure, trying to cover themselves as best they can with their hands. The audience goes wild with appreciation for both girls are very beautiful indeed, and they both know it.

“Hmm.” Laertes turns to address the audience again in a conspiratorial stage whisper. “Behold my luck – both girls obviously have the sweet hips and soft curves of a slave. They are both ravishingly beautiful and would fetch several gold coins apiece on the auction blocks of Ar once trained. What good fortune comes my way.” He winks to the men facing the stage and receives cheers in reply.

“Please Sir,” wheedles Cindy. “As you can see, Lucy is obviously the natural slave!”

“Ridiculous!” cries Lucy. “Why, Cindy here is exactly the kind of girl who would normally be seen in a collar, not I!”

“It is… more difficult to tell than I thought. The differences between you are not all that obvious.” Laertes considers the matter with further stroking of his chin. “Perhaps if you both knelt as a slave might?”

“Kneel?” Lucy sounds outraged.

“Never!” Cindy looks aghast.

“The switch then it is…” Laertes barely has time to put his hand on the stick before both girls have dropped to their knees on the stage. “Knees spread of course,” adds Laertes. With further squeals of outrage, the girls spread their knees. They are of course perfectly positioned on the stage to maximise visibility to the audience. 

“Back straight, Lucy.” Laertes taps her once with the switch. “Good. And hands on thighs, Cindy.” He taps Cindy’s body too. “Excellent.”

“This is intolerable,” complains Cindy to the laughing audience. “It is surely obvious to any man with half a brain that Lucy must be the natural slave here.”

“How is it that this insufferable man cannot see the difference between Cindy and myself?” Lucy too addresses the audience. “She is so obviously the natural slave girl, not I.”

“And still the matter is not clearly decisive,” muses Laertes the Wise. “But wait! What is this? A Free Woman of High Caste approaches! Quick – lie on your bellies with your wrists crossed behind your backs, so that she may not see your faces and tell that you are free!”

The girls throw themselves flat onto their bellies and quickly cross their wrists as instructed, though the audience can see no Free Woman anywhere on the stage.

“It could be a woman I know. She must not see my face,” wails Cindy.

“I would die of shame if I was recognised by someone familiar to me,” adds Lucy as she presses her face into the grass. Neither girl seems to notice how Laertes walks now behind them, nor, until it is too late, do they see him reach for two sets of slave bracelets with which he secures their wrists in steel, one at a time.

“My wrists!” they cry one after the other, now snugly bound.

“Hush. The bracelets will make you seem like slaves to the casual observer. Lie still until the woman passes by.” The girls hardly dare move for fear of drawing attention to themselves, though Lucy can’t help but wriggle in her bonds for the delight of the audience. After a short pause of no consequence, Laertes continues, now crouching down behind the prone form of Cindy. “The moment of danger has passed, but still I confess to being vexed on the question of which of you is the natural slave. Your bodies are I fear, both beautiful enough to be collared, and you both kneel exquisitely in the short grass. But there remains a simple test, for only a slave girl would succumb to a Master’s intimate caress.” He places his hand between Cindy’s thighs, close to her sex.

“Don’t you dare!” Cindy squeals in panic, but is unable to prevent Laertes from stroking her between the thighs. Soon her body begins to shake – soft moans and sighs of pleasure are heard from her lips as she is unable to control herself.

“Slave! Slave!” hisses Lucy as she struggles in her own bonds, seemingly victorious. “I knew it! She is a natural slave!”

“You think?” Laertes rubs his chin again.

“But of course! Any woman who moans and wriggles in such a way is obviously a slave. The proof lies before you.” Lucy glares at her former friend, happy to be proved right. Cindy lies there weeping, betrayed by her body, unable to face the accusation on Lucy’s face.

“Your perception is astute. But let us prove beyond any doubt by applying the same caress to your body so that this girl knows how a true Free Woman would respond – with dignity, sufferance and frigidity.”

“No, please, no!” Now Lucy begins to quiver in fear, but ignoring her protests, Laertes begins to touch her in the same way. And so, against her will Lucy too begins to moan and sigh, her body responding passionately to the man’s caress.

“Hah! Slave!” cries Cindy in triumph. “You too!”

“Well, things become abundantly clear now,” says Laertes following some more chin stroking. “It appears the free women of Argentum are sluts after all.” Loud cheers echo through the theatre, accompanied by men of Corcyrus striking their shoulders with their fists in applause. “Who would have thought such a thing?” More laughter. “It seems I was wrong and the good men of Corcyrus were correct all along. I salute your uncanny perception in such matters!” The Laertes actor salutes and bows to his audience who applaud wildly, obviously hating the city of Argentum and all its citizens. The slave girl actresses bow low while kneeling, touching their heads to the floor, at which point the curtain drops to the sound of applause as the play reaches its conclusion for the night.

“Oh... my... God...” I stare at Jacinta who is desperately trying to suppress her giggles. “Can we go now?”

“Go? This is only the first play.” Jacinta gazes down at her programme. “They're performing five more...”

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