Sunday, 7 May 2017

Harem Girl of Gor Chapter One

Chapter One: The Floating Market of the Oasis of the 23 Palms

As I stood there in the dust, naked, in a collar and sirik chain arrangement, perspiring under the heat of the late morning sun, I remember thinking to myself how strange it was that there were only 21 palm trees growing in the so called ‘Oasis of the 23 Palms’.

The 'floating' market met once a week and like many markets formed around a desert oasis it broadly consisted of three tiers of merchants, arranged in three concentric circles radiating out from the water hole itself. In the centre, enjoying the luxury of the water facilities and the shade offered by the 21 palm trees, were the major slave trading families who dominated the trade in this part of the desert. They bought slaves in bulk and could usually undercut the prices of smaller traders. They employed professional soldiers to safeguard their stock and they wore ample signs of their wealth around their bodies. Despite the transient nature of the floating market, the inner circle of traders managed to erect their own stages and billowing silk pavilions. The second circle of traders, not nearly as impressive as the first, consisted of the upwardly mobile flesh traders, not yet wealthy enough to intrude upon the inner ring, but professional enough to have makeshift awnings and decent size coffles on display. Some of them offered certificates of authentication for their wares, as the inner circle traders always did, and one or two shared the costs of employing a physician to examine and attend to the men and women on offer. Some might go on to eventually enter the inner circle, but most would eventually be driven out of business by the primary slave trading families, for this was a shark like business where profit margins were narrow and thanks to the increasing number of caravan raids buyers could afford to pick and choose.

The outermost ring of traders, if one could call them that, consisted of ragged looking men – strong, fierce, warlike, usually scarred and heavily sun burnt, who set up shop in the full heat of the midday sun with nothing but a blanket to mark out their space. They weren’t encouraged to be there – they weren’t even wanted there, but no one from the innermost rings was going to try to send them away, for these men on the whole were outlaws, bandits and desert raiders – men who might just as soon cut your hand off as shake it. When they had women to sell (and it was invariably almost always women) they would turn up with a coffle of one, two, or maybe three women linked together on a common iron chain, and hammer a spike through the chain length into the hard sun baked ground. They would sit by their stock, calling out to worried looking passers by, and spitting at them when they hurried past and looked the other way. Most of them would still have their stock by the end of the day as they could offer no guarantees relating to health or lineage of the women, and so it would be in the twilight hours that the representatives of the great slave trading families would gradually intrude upon the outer circle and make token offers for the unsold stock. There would be much cursing and spitting and protests from the bandits who deep down knew they were being offered an insultingly low price for their women, but in the end they would take what they could get, for any price was better than no price when you hadn’t paid for the stock in the first place.

It was in this basic outer ring of bandit traders that I was being displayed for sale.

“Genuine desert Amirah for sale. 15 copper tarsks!” said Rashid as a heavily robed Bedouin hurried past. The word 'Amirah' on Gor loosely translates to the Earth word 'Princess' but in this context is usually used in a mocking sense by men of the Tahari for a Free Woman of lofty station who thinks highly of herself. To Rashid's mind, when he first acquired me, I was precisely that as I was still holding on to the vain hope that my fortunes might once again be reversed and I might find myself freed of the steel collar. Of course by the time I was in Rashid's coffle, I had been branded on my left thigh with the common kef brand, and my ears had been pierced with a needle so that I would wear earrings. He had laughed as I had been branded by a metal worker according to his instructions and I think he had enjoyed the look of shock in my eyes after the deed had been done to me.

I now know to my cost that such things make it very difficult indeed, if not practically impossible, for a slave-girl to be freed. The brand is irreversible and will always be there as a significant mark that will identify me as a slave. Yes, clothing will hide it, but the girl will always know it is there on her thigh. And in Gorean society, pierced ears on a girl are only ever found on slaves. No Free Woman would ever pierce her ears – aside from stripping herself naked in public, it is about as shameful a thing as she could possibly do. On Earth of course pierced ears on women are common place, and there had been many times as a man when I had considered having my ears pierced so that I could wear pretty earrings on the occasions I dressed myself as a girl. I loved earrings and found it awkward to have to resort to clip ons. But on Gor pierced ears and earrings were not only a sign of slavery, but of the most abject slavery – they were considered the mark of a slut. Very few Gorean men would ever free a slave-girl. Almost none would ever free a slave-girl with pierced ears. Perhaps in their minds it was a kindness because what sort of life would she have as a Free Woman if her ears were pierced? She would be shunned by her own sex, and derided by men. Life would be for most practical purposes impossible.    

When the man passed by seeming to ignore him, Rashid spat at his feet. “May all your male kaiilas lust after each other and father no offspring, Bedouin pig! I hope you ride in the next caravan that I raid!”

I was one of the three women he had on display, and like my chain sisters I stood in the hot sun with my wrists confined in front of me in a sirik chain arrangement. I was naked, as were Mehra and Kara. The iron collar around my neck was my sole ornamentation aside from the sirik chains. After the three day trek across hot sands, Rashid had sponge washed my body with a bucket of water drawn from the oasis well and had attempted to comb my hair to the best of his ability. My neck, wrists and the space between my breasts had been dabbed with a slutty slave perfume and I had been taught a number of basic display postures by which I might present myself enticingly to potential buyers. Like Kara and Mehra I posed now, turning my body from one position to another under the watchful eye of Rashid and his heavy whip. He had used the whip on each of us on our first day in his coffle so that we might fear it, and fear it we all now did. My back still bore some red marks from the brutal whipping that were slowly fading. The whip, wielded with the strength of a Gorean man is a powerful inducement to obey your Master, and to do so promptly.

A Sirik chain is, I suppose, a very beautiful arrangement in which to confine and display a girl to passers by, though I didn't appreciate either of those qualities at the time. The chain itself is light and graceful and attached to a Turian style collar, which typically can be worn in addition to a girl's permanent collar, on account of the fact that it fits loosely on a girl. It resembles a round ring and can be grasped in a man's fist, permitting him to turn a girl's body with it as a control device. Like the more common flat Gorean collar, it locks in the back. The main length of sirik chain hangs loose, falling to the floor maybe 12 inches longer than is required to reach from the collar to the ankles. Part way down this chain, where the wrists would naturally be brought forward, a slaver will attach a pair of linked slave bracelets, while at the end of the chain is attached a set of linked ankle rings. The ankle rings themselves when locked upon a girl's ankles, serves to lift a portion of the chain up from the floor. Men love to see a slave-girl locked in Sirik, as it displays their bodies in the most sensual way possible. The bracelets and ankle rings can be removed, and used separately, which permits the sirik to function as a slave leash.

Depending on the whim of a girl's Master, the wrist and ankle chains can either be short, for display purposes, or longer, allowing the girl some freedom of movement to go about her chores. Today the chains were reasonably long as Rashid wished us to move under his direction, to entice men's interest in our flesh. 

Four months ago I had been a Free Woman in the service of Kurgus of Corcyrus. I had travelled under the escort of Seremides to the great walled city of Patashqar, deep within the burning sands of the Tahari. Now my fortunes had changed. I was a slave-girl, with a kef brand burnt onto my left thigh. Now I toiled in the palmeries of Rashid's camp, tending to the meagre crops and performing backbreaking work during the day, and spirit breaking work during the night when I would be passed around and shared by Rashid's brothers. My once soft body was now toned and supple from hard work, and my delicate olive hued skin was now almost the colour of varnished palm wood after many long days spent in the desert sun. My feet were dusty and my body was wet with sweat, but for all that I think I was still incredibly beautiful. All three of us were, for Rashid had not bothered to waste food on captured women that would not bring a fair price at auction. Of all the women he had taken recently, less than half still lived. The last couple of months had been brutal and soul destroying but I had fought hard to survive.

And what of Seremides, my mission Handler? By now I assume he had met with the Lady Melinda, had made various arrangements and had travelled north. By now he may well have reached the great Northern Forests of Gor through which the mighty Laurius river flows. I suspect he would have gone first to the city of Lydius on the coast, there to plan an expedition into the interior, for only a fool would risk the Northern Forests alone. I looked down at my shackled wrists that confined me in the sirik chain. Girls look beautiful in chains. I looked beautiful in chains. No matter how angry I was at being chained, I understood how alluring the sight of me in bondage might be to men.

Erin's parting words in the slave pens of Banu Hashim came back to me now.

“Hexagram 23,” she had said as she had knelt in the straw, her body illuminated dimly by slow burning oil lamps that hung well out of our reach, her head down, but her eyes watching me like the eyes of a chained cat. She had been the Free Woman, Lady Yasmina, before being enslaved, and before that she had been the American girl, Caroline Milton, working for her country's embassy in London. “Hexagram 23: things are not the way they appear. Reality seems like a hall of mirrors. Intrigues are multiplying like summer flies, and there are rumours of discontent. It is the time of illusion, disintegration, distrust and deception. You must prepare yourself for what is to come.”

“I see,” I had said. I had never had any time for things like the I-Ching when I was a man back on Earth, and even less time for them now that I was a woman on Gor. 

“There is no blame in holding back, indeed it is your responsibility to keep your strength intact for a period of resurrection. Discretion is the better part of valour. Learn to choose the proper moments for action, and take solace in what is firm and secure.”

She had of course been right about the deception at least. I think I knew much of the truth now, perhaps more so than anyone else on Gor, for all the good it might do me in my current position. Layers upon layers of deceit, and the fate of Gor in the balance. Not just Gor of course but potentially my own planet, Earth too, for the Kurii would not be content with simply mastering Gor. Erin had told me much about the age old balance of power and how the Priest Kings had kept the ambitions of the Kurii in check, not only in relation to Gor but in relation to our solar system. If the Priest Kings were to fall, then Gor would fall, and then so too would Earth.

If Seremides had indeed made it to the Northern forests, then it was surely only a matter of time before a New World Order would arise.           

“There are only 21 palms.”

“Eh? What? What did you say, girl?” Rashid stood up and spat again. He had an inexhaustible supply of phlegm it seemed. His lower arm bore a deep scar from where a dagger had once cut him deep to the bone.

“There are only 21 palm trees in the Oasis of the 23 palms.”

Rashid looked round and stared at the trees that grew around the deep pool of sparkling blue water. He squinted and counted: one, two, and three, but he always found it difficult to count things that were far away. Coins were easy – a man could hold them in the palm of his hand and place them one at a time on the ground as he counted them, but objects in the distance that all looked the same… that required a concentration he didn’t have. He tried dividing the trees into groups of three, but when he found he had more than three groups to count he gave up from the impossibility of the task. “Who taught you to count?” He back cuffed me for making him feel stupid.

I slowly picked myself up off the ground and wiped a smear of blood from my mouth. None of my teeth were broken, but I ran my tongue over them slowly just to make sure. “Everyone can count.” I paused and waited the space of a heartbeat before adding, “Master.”

Rashid stared at me and so I lowered my head submissively, but despite this I think he knew I was making fun of him. He grabbed hold of my hair and pushed me down to my knees, and as he did so my chain sisters shrank back in fear as far as their neck chains permitted.

“Make fun of me once more, girl. Go on. I dare you.”

I said nothing, but my heart was beating with fear. The man was quite capable of beating me within an inch of my life. He had done so already twice before.

“Bah! The sooner I sell your worthless hide the better. There are always more women where you come from.” It was true – the raids had been extremely fruitful this month and the raiders now had more women than they needed.

“He will kill you if you continue to provoke him,” said Kara in a hushed whisper as she stood beside me, extending her chained hands in supplication towards the men who passed by Rashid's space. “Please don't antagonise him, Emma.”

“Maybe we would be better off dead,” I whispered back. I could see no hope any more. I saw a life spent in a desert encampment, subjected to brutal toil during the day, and random rape during the nights.

“No, Emma, life is precious. You must cling to it always. You will find a kinder Master – one who will care for you, and you will find pleasure in his ownership of you. You must be strong until then.” Kara kissed me softly on the side of my face and I stifled back a sob. It was a small token of compassion from a girl who suffered as much as I did, and I was grateful for it.

“Buy me Masters!” said Kara suddenly, as she noticed Rashid's attention turn back to us. Taking the cue from her I extended my wrists too and shifted position in the graceful sirik arrangement of close chains, turning my left hip to strike a seductive pose, shaking my head to loosen my hair, pouting my lips as I too cried out, “buy Emma, Masters! Let Emma please you in the furs!”

Rashid nodded with a sniff as his hands went about my hips and ass and made small adjustments to the way I posed. The sirik chains clinked with metallic chiming sounds each time I moved. It was a sound that appealed to men, I knew, for Gorean men love the sound of chains moving when they're secured on a girl's body. Satisfied that I was posing adequately, Rashid turned his attentions to the Taharian beauty, Mehra.

“I love you, Kara,” I whispered. “I wouldn't have survived these last few months without you.”

“Hush, Emma.” She smiled softly, but I could see she felt the same way about me. “Turn your attention to the men here. Maybe one will buy you and you'll be free of Rashid. Seek a strong and fair Master. Serve him well, and you will be happy.”

“Maybe a man will buy us both?” I hoped that was the case, but I knew the odds were against it. Few men in the Tahari desert had the wealth to own more than one girl at a time. Aside from the cost of purchase, there was the upkeep – the cost of water and food, all of which was scarce in such a harsh environment. I feared losing Kara after all these months we'd been together. I feared her being sold without me, or I being sold without her. I feared one of us being taken away, and never seeing one another again.

“Perhaps.” But I could see the same fear in Kara's eyes. We knew the chances were that this might be our last day together as chain sisters.

“Buy me, handsome Master!” I cried out to a richly dressed man who passed by, but he barely noticed me, intent instead on assessing the silken clad girls displayed in the central slave stalls of the inner circle – girls belonging to the established slavers who could guarantee pedigrees and certified good health. I watched him disappear into the crowd of men heading towards the richly bedecked pagoda stalls where the girls would be displayed with carefully applied slave cosmetics to enhance their appeal. I was probably one of the most beautiful girls on sale in this oasis, and without doubt Kara's legs were unrivalled, but neither of us were displayed at our best. “Buy Emma, Master, and let her dance for your pleasure,” I cried out to another man, possibly a merchant, as he gazed briefly at me.

There must have been close to two hundred girls on sale today, and despite my considerable beauty, I was but a single tree in an abundant forest. Also, it seemed to me that potential buyers were delaying making any firm decisions until they had viewed all the merchandise. Perhaps too they worked on the principle that by buying later in the day they would be more likely to barter down the basic asking price for a girl like myself.

The sirik chains jingled as I moved suggestively, posed, shook my head again, and gazed up at a man who had stopped to regard me with interest. I bit my lower lip softly as I had been taught to do, and lowered my eyes in what I knew would be a very submissive expression. I opened the palms of my hands to the man, letting him see how soft and vulnerable they were, like the petals of a desert flower.

“I am trained to give a man pleasure,” I said feeling his interest holding. “I was trained in the slave pens of Banu Hashim.” It was true. To my shame I had been trained to please a man in the furs, to touch him in certain ways that would deeply arouse him, and to move in certain ways in the furs that might maximise his pleasure when he had entered me. I knew also how to subtly prolong his arousal within me and how to sense if he was close to coming, and what to do to draw him back from that precipice so that he could enjoy his slut for another ten ehn. All of these skills and more had been taught to me.

I think you, dear reader, would be surprised if you saw me now, perhaps chained to a ring set into the tiled floor by your feet. I think you might desire me, even though you are probably of Earth and you are taught and raised to believe that you should not secretly desire the submision of women. You would feel guilt, I guess, for feeling that way, but secretly you would still want me.

“I only buy girls with very dark hair,” he said, feeling the texture of my blonde hair between his fingers. “A shame, for otherwise you are beautiful.” He walked on to the next set of girls belonging to one of the other part time slavers, for in that coffle there was a girl with striking blue-black hair.

“It will not be pleasant for you tonight if you remain in my coffle, unsold,” hissed Rashid into my ear as he gave a false smile to a couple of men who walked by. Nearby two men were engrossed in examining the brown haired Taharian beauty, Mehra, and were putting her through some basic positions to gauge her value.

“Please, Master. It is not my fault he wants a dark haired girl.”

“Well, find someone who wants a blonde slut, if you know what's good for you. You have already cost me a fortune in slave gruel these past months!”  

Another Bedouin walked past Rashid’s thin blanket that lay spread on the ground. The Raider twisted me round towards the man in the heavy robes and called out, “Proud Desert Amirah! 15 copper tarsks!”

“Desert Amirah… you outlaws would claim anything… I suppose you have the Ubara of Ar on your chain as well, hmm?” This Bedouin didn’t flinch from Rashid’s gaze, but rather smiled with an air of confidence that suggested he knew how to look after himself. His eyes regarded me with interest, and he smiled when I suddenly lowered my gaze, unable to directly meet his eyes.

“She’s an Amirah, aren’t you, girl?” Rashid twisted my hair hard – hard enough that I grimaced but refused to cry out.

“Are you an Amirah, girl?” The Bedouin regarded me with frank contempt.

“Not an Amirah, but I come from the cities of Central Gor, Master. I speak many dialects of Gorean fluently and can read and write as well as any scribe. I can cook, I can sew, I can dance, and…” I looked up boldly now, for I knew deep down that if I  stayed with Rashid for much longer he would eventually be the death of me. “I…” my voice broke slightly for I wasn't used to appealing to men in such a manner, but Rashid gripped my hair hard now as if to remind me what to say, “I know how to give a man pleasure in the evenings…”

“Your voice does sound educated. You are certainly no peasant girl.” The Bedouin raised his hand to his chin and pondered the matter. “And you do have very pretty lips and very pretty legs.”

“Kara has pretty legs too, Master,” said Kara quickly. She could tell that the Bedouin was wealthy from the quality of his desert robes. A life in his collar might be preferable to many of the other collars a girl might find herself in at this oasis. “Buy Kara, Master, and she will obey your every whim.”

He laughed at that as he nodded. “Kara does have pretty legs. You are a tempting slut, but there is something about this girl in particular...” he gazed back at me, much to Kara's annoyance, for even I would concede she had the best legs in this slave market. 

“A desert Amirah! Seventeen copper tarsks!” Rashid could tell the stranger was interested in at least one of his stupid slave girls.

“Let me think, Outlaw.” He turned his attention back to me. “Are you beautiful when you are bathed and dressed in pleasure silks?”

“Yes Master. I am the most beautiful girl here when I have been washed.” I struck a pose again, having felt the instructive tap of Rashid's slave whip against my ass. “Please inspect me intimately as you wish, Master. I am hot and desirable in the furs.” it was a horrible thing I had to say, but if I had not said it, I would have been whipped by Rashid where I stood. It is humiliating enough to be exhibited for sale in a market place, but even more humiliating to be forced to be complicit and co-operative in your own marketing.

Once, over a year ago when I had been a man on Earth, I had fantasised about things like this. I had imagined being a beautiful slave-girl chained and placed on sale, to be inspected by men, to be haggled over, to be leashed and bought and then trained. But that had just been a warm and delicious fantasy born out of a long suppressed desire to be a woman. The reality of course is something else entirely.    

The man took hold of my hips, turned my body about, felt with the palm of his hand the firmness of my breasts, stroked between my thighs and examined me carefully for scars.

“You have been whipped recently. Are you an obstinate and clumsy girl? Or simply wilfully disobedient?” His finger tips traced the fading red marks across my back.

“Neither Master. It was an introductory whipping to teach me to fear the lash.” I squirmed a little as his fingers touched my sex – much to his delight it seemed.

“And did it serve its purpose? Do you fear the whip now?”

“Yes, Master! I do!” I wriggled again to his touch, and I think he could see that my nipples were now stiff and swollen, signifying deep arousal from a combination of his exploratory touch and my acute sensitivity to bondage. The Kurii machines had moulded my body to be sexually responsive. I had discovered to my shame that morning in the disused stable in Kurgus's farm how easily I could be brought to the point of near orgasm through the simple application of tight bonds and stimulation of my nipples. Since then I had lived in fear of my physical responses, knowing that in a sense I was no longer in control of what my body desired. I remember reading once that women are hard wired like that – the body can overrule the brain. There was a study using magnetic resonance imaging that showed that the area of the sensory cortex in a woman's brain associated with her genitals is easily aroused by stimulating her nipples.

Bondage in particular did something to my body, producing dopamine – the organic chemical that triggers our pleasure receptors. I could no more control such a thing than I could control my breathing.

The Kurii had designed my body well for the planet Gor. 

“Your responses seem good. What is your name?”

“Emma, Master. But Master can call me anything he wishes if he were to buy me.”

“Of course. But I like your name. Kiss me, Emma.”

I stepped forward, raised myself slightly on tip toe and, with my wrists still shackled before me, kissed the man deeply and passionately. I had always thought of kissing as a simple enough thing requiring little in the way of skill, and so it is on Earth, but In the training pens of Banu Hashim I had been trained in a dozen subtle variations.

I think I kiss well.     

I think, if you, the man of Earth who is reading this now, found me chained, naked, helpless, kneeling at your feet, ready to serve you in any way you might command, I think you would find I would kiss you well.

I would be afraid not to.

“You have some skill, Emma,” said the man as he then pushed my body away. “But perhaps it is too early in the day to buy a slave-girl. There is much choice in the market after all, and I shouldn't rush into any hasty decisions.”

“Please buy me, Master! Please buy Emma! Let her please you in a thousand different ways!” He was about to walk away! I dreaded to think what might happen to me tonight if no one bought me.

The Bedouin chuckled at that. “You want to be bought, don’t you? I can understand why.” He glanced at Rashid as if to underline his last comment. “I live in a great walled city now that my travelling days are over. Far preferable to you I think than the savage life in an outlaw camp.”

“Nineteen copper tarsks – she’s in much demand,” said Rashid.

“Kara too will crawl to your feet and pleasure you, Master,” said Kara. Despite our friendship, there was a sense of rivalry between us now for it became evident that one of us might escape the coffle of Rashid. We didn't want to lose one another, but neither did either of us wish to be the unsold girl on a display chain.

“Your legs are splendid, Kara.” Now the man began to examine Kara's body with his hands, and I simmered in frustration as the little slut made a big show of getting hot and excited from the man's touch.

“See how excited she is by your touch,” said Rashid. “Imagine her now in your furs, her body illuminated by a soft oil lamp. She is in much demand but she is yours for twenty copper tarsks!”

“I am tempted, but again, there is something enticing about Emma.” His hands left Kara, and I smiled softly as he turned his attention back to me. I dropped to my knees before him in a jingle of sirik chains and raised my braceleted wrists in an imploring and submissive manner. What man of Gor can help himself when a desirable and beautiful woman in a collar and chains drops to her knees before him? I knew it would send a powerful message.

“Emma begs for your collar, Master. Please buy Emma. Let Emma serve you this evening by the light of the three moons.”

Rashid seemed pleased with my performance. Surely he couldn't be angry with me if the man did eventually walk away? I was trying. I was really trying. I shook my hair and lowered my lashes, gazing now at his feet. I could sense Kara beside me do the same, still competing with me to be bought. She was my friend, but neither of us wished to be the unsold girl on Rashid's coffle tonight.

“Have you any comprehension of what it will mean to be in my collar, Emma?” asked the man as he gazed down at me. “You will be a full slave in every respect. I will never free you. You will serve me each night in the furs and if you are not fully pleasing, I will whip you.”

“I understand, Master.” I couldn't look at him as I said that. “I will please you. Emma will please you.”

Kara was silent now. She could tell that the man had more or less made up his mind. Though she was I think puzzled that he had shown such an obvious interest in me. There were after all many girls on sale in the floating market of the 23 palms and he had not yet inspected the girls displayed in the inner two rings of the stalls and booths: girls who wore exquisite slave cosmetics; girls who had been professionally groomed and dressed in pleasure silks to enhance their desirability.

“She will squirm in your furs tonight for twenty copper tarsks,” said Rashid, obviously keen to close the deal before the man had a change of mind. He quietly cuffed Kara and motioned with a snap of his fingers for her to move a few paces away from me. The presence of Kara might only serve to make the man consider his options again and then ultimately consider other pieces of merchandise from other stalls.

“Ten, and you’ll take it, because you know the slavers of the inner circle will only offer you four tonight when the market closes.”

“Twelve.” Rashid spat into his hand. “She is almost white silk.”

The Bedouin laughed. “A girl is either white silk or she is not. And there are many more such girls in this market who are almost white silk, Outlaw. Enjoy your four copper tarsk coins tonight.” He turned his back on Rashid. To my horror I saw him walk away. Rashid would be furious with me! I had failed to encourage the man to buy me!

“Very well then, you motherless bastard! Ten copper tarsks.” The Bedouin turned, hearing that, spat into his own hand and then the men clenched palms and stared each other in the eye. I held my breath. I was going to be free of Rashid, but would my future with this other man be any better? They talked for an ehn or two about details. Obviously Rashid had no papers for me, but the Bedouin seemed not to care.

“You've been sold...” said Kara in despair. I hugged her and kissed her on the cheek, with a jingle of both our chains. We wept, for my sale meant that we were unlikely to ever see one another again. This is one of the things the Gorean books often gloss over – the loss of friends when you are a slave, for a man may simply sell you at any time, and you may find yourself taken to another city all together to start your life anew. How cruel the institution of slavery was. How barbaric it was to simply strip my life away like this. I had no say in anything. I could be traded as easily as a pair of shoes.

“Please be strong, Kara. Be strong for me.” We rubbed noses for a moment and whispered things to one another, for we knew we only had minutes before my sirik chains would be removed and my new Master would leash me himself. I would be taken from here and I would never see Kara again.

“I'm afraid what Rashid will do to me tonight.” Kara trembled in my arms.

“Someone will buy you before night fall.” I wished I could believe that for certain, but I knew that there were a lot of girls on sale here, and it was more than possible that Rashid would simply accept a derisory offer at the close of the day from one of the larger Slaver houses, which would mean Kara would be no better off. She would continue to be marketed each morning and beaten each night until she attracted the interest of a customer willing to pay a suitable number of copper coins for her.

“Your Master is handsome,” she said as she raised her braceleted hands to her face to wipe away the tears.

“I suppose he is.” I shrugged and glanced in his direction. I could see why girls might think so.

“And strong! He looks very strong!”

“Yes, he is most certainly strong,” I said bitterly.

“He will make you a true slave, I think, Emma. He will make you happy.”

“I will never be happy as a slave,” I said. “One day I will be free again. I will never accept this as my fate.”

“Oh, Emma...” Kara looked at me sadly. “I think you do not understand yourself yet. One day I hope you will.”


Rashid took a key from his belt and unlocked first the collar, wrist, and ankle cuffs of the sirik chain, and then the heavy iron collar itself. It was badly made and the wrong size and there were red scratches around my throat where it had chafed badly. “The price does not include the collar,” grunted Rashid.

“So I see.” The Bedouin produced a collar of his own and opened it on well oiled hinges. I dropped back to my knees in the dust as the collar was fitted around me. This one was a better fit with smoother edges.

“Here in the Tahari my name is Abid, meaning Fire in their dialect,” said the Bedouin. “But you of course know my true name, don't you, pretty little Emma?”

“Yes, Master.” I did know this man only too well.

“It has taken me a long time to track you down. But here you are, and here I am.” Brinn, the man who was now calling himself Abid in the desert, clipped a leash to my collar and, with a sharp tug, walked me through the market to where his kaiila was tethered. Brinn owned me now. I was his slave-girl at last.

But I am getting ahead of myself already. I should perhaps take a step back now and recount instead the events that had occurred four months previously following that morning when Kara and I had been taken by Seremides to the public slave pens of Banu Hashim: the events that eventually led to me being sold here in the Oasis of the Twenty One Palms.

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