Sunday, 7 May 2017

Harem Girl of Gor Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten: Brinn faces a choice between certain death in battle, or slavery


I can hear it raining outside as I write this, the 24th set of pages relating to my time on the planet Gor. I’m more than half way through my story now and it occurred to me that my life prior to Gor may be something of an enigma to you – whoever YOU are. Until now I’ve thought of that time as an irrelevance, maybe because my old life as a man seems so much like a fading dream these days. When it does occur to me that I used to have body hair on my chest and a penis, it seems as incredible a thought as if I suddenly remembered I used to have wings and a tail.

I think I had always identified with girls as far back as I can remember, and possibly this was because for the most part I grew up in a female led household from the age of five. With Dad gone, it was left to Mum and my older sister, Bea (Nine at the time, going on ten), to look after me and my younger brother, Alan (two years younger than me). My Dad was one of those men who slipped through the social security net when it came to making maintenance payments for the upkeep of his family. Mum never received a penny from him, and we therefore had to downsize from where we originally lived and make ends meet the hard way. Mum worked during the day part time to fit in with school hours, and this meant she was only able to take on jobs at the lower end of the pay spectrum. We never had real holidays, not like other kids, but she lavished attention on us in the evenings, telling us stories and playing board games as the rain hammered down on the window panes. She used to get us to act out small parts in the stories she told us, and she would always give me the role of a boy, when really I longed to be a pretty girl wearing a pink dress, like the characters Bea would be given. I felt sorry for Bea because she must have had the burden at a relatively young age of stepping in for her Dad and helping Mum out with looking after us, especially when Mum's working hours clashed with our school holidays. I remember always looking up to Bea, despite the many times she got frustrated with my needy demands for attention.

Perhaps you think it strange that a young boy can hero worship his big sister, the way other boys can see older brothers as role models, but that was always the case with Bea. My early cross dressing probably began there in those early days with me begging my big sister to come play with me, and wanting perhaps to be like her. I remember Mum one day coming into my bedroom when I was perhaps seven or eight years old, and seeing me playing with my cheap knock off action man style toy (we couldn’t afford the real thing, only this made in Taiwan market stall version) that she had bought for me for my birthday. I had undressed it from its military uniform and was amusing myself by dressing it in some Barbie clothes from Bea’s doll collection, and was having a great time mixing and matching outfits. I think I had settled on pink sparkly leggings with a white t-shirt, high cut waisted biker jacket with three quarter length sleeves and strappy heels, not to mention pink handbag when Mum asked me what I was doing.

“Playing dress up with my action man,” I said. I had seen Bea do that sort of thing a few years earlier, though now she had grown a bit bored with it and was hanging out with her school friends listening to chart music, playing around with cheap makeup from discount stores and swapping stories about boys at school. Mum took the doll from my hands and told me, kindly enough, that I shouldn’t dress my action man up in girl’s clothes. I didn’t really understand.

“Boys don’t wear girl’s clothes,” she kindly but firmly explained. “They just don’t.”

I think Mum must have said something to Bea because that night she came in to see me in the tiny closet size bedroom that I shared with Alan and she sat down on the lower bunk bed and put her arm around me to ask why I had done that.

“Because you do it,” I said sadly, with what must have been longing in my eyes to win her approval.

Bea didn’t seem to mind. But she said I shouldn’t play dress up with my action man, because Mum didn’t think it was right, but if I wanted to, I could play with her old Barbie dolls when mum was at work, provided I kept quiet about it. I hugged my sister and told her she was the best. And she was. I loved Mum, and I loved Alan, but I loved Bea most of all.

I was thirteen years old when I first sneaked some of Bea’s clothes from the family wash basket. My heart must have been pounding like a trip hammer when I stuffed the pair of cheap tights, cotton knickers and one of her pleated charcoal grey school skirts under my t-shirt. I remember locking myself into the bathroom, as I was still sharing the bedroom with Alan, and there in private I pulled the knickers and tights on quickly. I pulled the skirt up too and felt light headed and incredibly turned on as I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair was too short for my liking – not enough like a girl’s hair and I wished Mum didn't make me go and get it cut every four weeks down the road. I just stared at myself in the mirror for a while and then I peeled the skirt off but kept the tights and knickers on. I pulled my pyjama bottoms on over the tights and rolled school socks over my feet so that I could walk safely along the landing to my bedroom where Alan was playing with some Airfix soldiers and tanks. He was re-enacting a war film that had been on telly the night before which I had sat through feeling frustrated that we couldn't watch 'Clueless' on the other side instead (I didn't dare ask to do so, but I loved the sound of the write up in the telly papers). He had already decided at the age of 11 that he wanted to join the army when he grew up, like his waste of a space Dad. I climbed into bed, pulled the duvet over me, and secretly wriggled out of my pyjama bottoms and socks. I spent the night rubbing my legs together in the nylon, feeling breathless, excited, wanting so much to dress and look like Bea did with her grown up looking makeup and hair. When I came without warning I was mortified for I had done so in the pair of knickers and tights. The next morning I buried them deep in the middle of the wash basket, hoping mum wouldn't notice anything amiss when she loaded the washing machine. I was nervous for a good 24 hours, constantly imagining she would find tell tale signs of what I had done, but nothing was ever said.

My life as Emma really began when I left home to go to Bristol university where I was able to effectively live a secret life away from my family. No one knew me when I arrived and I was able to reinvent myself from scratch, and anything I did could be conveniently forgotten about at the end of each term when I returned home. I began buying girl clothes of a unisex style while I was studying – jeans at first – tight fitting and stretchy. They fitted me perfectly, and I began to grow my hair long, which enabled me to wear girls' tunic tops without seeming too ridiculous. Other students recognised what I was doing, but most of them accepted it. I wasn’t presenting as a girl as such, I just happened to be wearing less than masculine clothes. If anything I suppose I looked a bit hippyish with the tunic tops and long hair. I started wearing girlie bracelets and added a necklace. I never dared a skirt, but did occasionally get asked by student girls who befriended me why I didn’t go the whole way and turn up at Uni in a skirt or dress. I guess I was still too afraid of the reactions I’d get. Girl jeans was one thing – male fashion after all was shifting towards skinny jeans anyway – but skirts was another thing entirely.

Though of course I would buy skirts. I’d buy them and dresses from the various charity shops dotted around Bristol for pocket money prices. I stockpiled them in my room and slipped into them in the evenings, posing in front of the mirror. I bought makeup from Boots the chemist and learned with the aid of YouTube videos how to make my face up. That was the real jumping off point, for once I had foundation, eyeliner and lipstick on, the clothes suddenly ‘popped’ and I was amazed at the results. I began to go out in the evenings to safe bars and clubs dressed en-femme. I made friends in the T-girl world, and I loved every minute of it.

One day Bea turned up unannounced at my student bedsit, knocked on my door and called out to me. I was wearing a top and skirt from New Look, and was perfectly made up, not because I was going out, but because I loved dressing as a girl any chance I had. I froze as I lay on my bed and didn’t dare make a sound. I pretended I was out. After a few minutes Bea left and probably drove back home. My stomach had been doing flip flops the whole time, for I hadn’t locked the door, and if Bea had simply turned the door handle…

What would she have said? Would she have been okay with it? Would she have just smiled after the initial surprise, and then come over and hugged me fiercely and told me “hey, it’s okay, it’s really okay. Now I have a little sister as well as two little brothers.”

I sometimes wonder how different my life might have been if Bea had walked in on me that day. I'm sorry - I don’t even know if you’re interested in this side of my life. Maybe if I knew why I was writing this then I would know what I was supposed to tell you.

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Brinn’s hand was on the hilt of his short sword, but I knew that if he tried to draw it from its scabbard, three other blades would quickly cut him down where he stood. I suspected Brinn was a great swordsman, but he was outnumbered three to one, taken by surprise and with little room to manoeuvre. There are times when even the best warrior has to admit the odds are against him.

“It is a small world,” said Jacinta as she stood there by the barred window. She seemed very pleased with herself, and well she might be, for she had, without knowing it, captured a high ranking agent of the Priest Kings. “It is Brinn, isn’t it? Though I understand you're going by the name of Abid in Patashqar. Last time I saw you, you were being fed on your knees by the hand of a woman. And now look at you, so splendid and strong looking in your bright scarlet tunic with a sword at your side.” Jacinta gestured with her small knife as she spoke.

“Lady Jacinta.” Brinn nodded in acknowledgement for although her face was modestly veiled, Brinn recognised her voice.

“You will by now have noticed, perhaps, my three companions. Note the confident way they stand and brandish their weapons. Let me assure you, for the avoidance of any future doubt, that each of them is an experienced and capable swordsman with many years of experience.”

“They certainly have the look of experienced men at arms,” admitted Brinn.

“It would be a shame to have to order them to cut you down where you stand, Brinn. I think I would prefer instead to have you shipped back in heavy chains to Kurgus’s villa. Your escape was rather embarrassing for Kurgus. It highlighted lapses in his otherwise tight security. I understand his Kur Masters weren’t impressed.” Now the Lady Jacinta paced between her men. She was careful, I noticed, not to move within easy reach of Brinn’s arms. She wasn't stupid.

“What are you doing in my rooms?” asked Brinn with a snap.

“I have been watching you since you returned to Patashqar, specifically when you made a point of loitering near a known dead drop used by Kurgus’s agents. Really, Brinn, you have a lot to learn about blending in with the surroundings. I passed you by several times when you pretended to drink at that café. You didn’t notice me of course, because I’m rather better at this sort of thing than you are.”

“Apparently so.”

“I followed you back here last night, and earlier today I assigned an operative to follow you to Lady Melinda’s house. How is she by the way?”

“Quite secure,” said Brinn with a smile as he gazed at Melinda in the sirik chains and the brief slave tunic. Melinda blushed a bright red and gazed down at her small bare feet.

“Oh.” Jacinta rolled her eyes in despair. “Am I the only one of Kurgus's agents who can operate successfully without being captured?”

Now Jacinta turned to regard me. She said nothing for a good ten to fifteen ihn. “Tal Felice.”

“Her name is Emma now,” said Brinn matter of factly. “And she wears my collar.”

“No.” Jacinta's eyes flashed in anger over her veil. “Her name is the Lady Felicia Fonseca Gebara Torres of Corcyrus and she is my friend.” Jacinta motioned with her hand towards me. “It's over, Felice. You're safe now. Come here. I'll send for a metal worker to cut that collar from your throat, and you will be given fine robes and gowns again. Your ordeal is at an end.”

My eyes lit up. I was going to be freed! Freed! It was finally over.

“Remain where you are, Emma,” said Brinn, and I instinctively froze at the sound of his commanding tone of voice. “You do not have permission to break position.” Jacinta must have frowned, seeing me respond to Brinn's command like that, for she motioned me over once again.

“It's all right, Felice, he can't hurt you any more.”

“Her name is Emma, and she will remain at my side until I say otherwise.”

“It is all right, Mistress, you can call me Emma – it was my name on Earth after all,” I said quietly, blushing as she regarded me in the off white slave tunic.

“You do not have to call me Mistress,” said Jacinta.

“I'm sorry Mistress, please forgive me.” I put my hand to my mouth as I realised I had just called her Mistress again without thinking. Beside me Brinn chuckled.

I was paralysed with indecision. My mind screamed at me, this is your chance for freedom! You don’t want to be a slave-girl on Gor do you? Reach out, take Jacinta’s hand – ignore this dominant barbarian who thinks he owns you, and be free once again. He can’t hurt you now.

But my body trembled at the very thought of disobeying him like that. Brinn was my Master – he legally owned me – I had the whole crushing weight of Gorean law and social customs stacked up against me at his beck and call. I had no rights on Gor. I was his slave. He had given me an order, a command. Dare I disobey it? A Gorean man would whip me or worse for such disobedience. And yet, surely he too was a prisoner now? He was outnumbered, caught off guard, surrounded by three armed men who might cut him down at the least sign of resistance. And yet, Brinn seemed so confident, so sure of himself. He couldn’t possibly win – it would be impossible, but what if he did? What would be my fate if he did perhaps overcome the men, impossible as that must seem? What then for me after I had disobeyed a command? I was scared by the thought. I had spent months being trained to obey. I had spent months in Rashid’s collar, being punished for the slightest disobedience. I was conditioned, now that I wore a collar, to obey men. I gazed up at Jacinta, desperately wanting to join her, but I was scared. My Master had ordered me not to break position! Dare I disobey? He was a Gorean man and would punish me harshly if I did.

“Mistress, I have been commanded by my Master…”

“You see. These last few months have been very good to her,” said Brinn as he lifted my chin with his left hand and smiled, pleased with my discipline so far.

“You have a collar,” said Jacinta.

“Yes Mistress.”

“You are branded?”

“Yes Mistress.” I felt ashamed. This was my friend, and she had to see me like this.

“You do not have to call me Mistress!”

“Please... I am scared not to...” And I was. I was so used to referring to a Free Woman as Mistress now that I automatically felt a rising panic at the thought of forgetting to do so.

“This Corcyrian slut may be too scared to disobey her Master, but Lady Melinda Fornier of Paris does not fear the empty threats of a blustering Gorean male.”

I watched as Melinda walked smugly away to stand beside Jacinta near the window. “You will regret the way you have treated me these last few hours,” she said. “When my friend here has you locked in heavy chains, I will have you harshly beaten to within an inch of your life.” She stared defiantly at Brinn, which I couldn’t help but think was something of a mistake, for Brinn seemed to be amazingly calm in the face of his almost imminent capture.

“I’m not your friend,” said Jacinta with irritation. “We are I suppose colleagues at best, but do not overstate the relationship between us. Emma here is my friend – we have shared ka-la-na together. You, I have only just met, and frankly I’m not exactly impressed with the way you let Brinn capture you.”

“He came to my apartments in Haddiyah Street!”

“Don’t you have a securely locked door and barred windows to prevent just such an occurrence?” enquired Jacinta with scorn.

“He knew about the dead drop – he left a message using the correct protocol. I understood him to be a new agent of Kurgus, so I allowed him in.”

“Learn to take precautions in future. Take myself for example – I have three professional armed men in attendance. I didn’t just confront Brinn armed with a cheeky smile and a fruit knife, hoping for the best.”

“Just who do you think you are to criticise my performance in Patashqar?” demanded Melinda.

“Apparently I’m the agent of Kurgus dressed in ornate gowns and veils, instead of standing there in a torn slave tunic, chained in a sirik. Since you ask.”

“I wish these chains removed.” Melinda presented her chained wrists to Jacinta.

“I’m sure you do.” Jacinta turned to face Brinn. “Do you have the key to her chains?”

“Yes.” Brinn smiled but made no move to produce it.

“Are you really intent on doing this the hard way?”

“You’re wasting time!” snapped Melinda as she pulled at the close wrist chains of her sirik. “Order your men to cut him down if he resists. Consider that an order from me.”

“I don’t take orders from you, Melinda. I answer directly to Kurgus.”

“I am second highest ranking agent in Patashqar after Samir!”

“I am getting heartily sick of you,” said Jacinta. “You are as arrogant as you are incompetent. It's probably something to do with you being French. If you don’t shut up and let me think, I’ll have one of the men gag you.”

“You wouldn’t dare! I serve Kurgus!”

“Don’t try me. Women disappear all the time in the Tahari. Do we understand each other?” Jacinta stared Melinda down and I was pleased to see her back away from my friend.

“Thank the Priest Kings for that. Just where does Kurgus find his current crop of agents!” With a sigh she turned her attention back to Brinn and me.

“I wouldn’t be too harsh on her, Lady,” said Brinn to Jacinta. “My deception was actually quite skilful. Besides, you are on thin ground berating her for being stripped, chained and dressed in a sirik chain, as it is my intention to have you in precisely that condition in say, twenty minutes or so.”

“I think I am developing a headache today,” said Jacinta as she rubbed her left temple.

“My sympathies, Lady, it can happen to the best of us,” said Brinn.

“Brinn, you either have delusions of grandeur or you misread the situation completely. Even Tarl Cabot isn’t this stupid.”

“I think Tarl would be impressed with me today. To acquire one beautiful agent of the Kurii is fine work.” He tapped me on the head to indicate whom he spoke of. “To acquire a second is even better.” He motioned towards Melinda in her skimpy slave tunic and chains. “But to add a third, and such a senior operative as you, well, I think Tarl would be green with envy.”


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The name Tarl Cabot will of course be familiar to any casual reader of John Norman’s Gor books as the principle narrator of many of the adventures on the Counter Earth. On Gor too he is a legend, as his exploits have often had a major influence on many different Gorean societies. For myself, I had suspicions that Tarl Cabot as such no longer existed, and that although there had once been such a man in the late sixties, many of the subsequent exploits attributed to him were myth, propaganda, or distorted versions of possibly plausible events enacted by other men. I remember discussing this with Jacinta one sunny lunch time in a café in Corcyrus before I set of to the Tahari.

“I mean, do you know anyone who has ever actually met him? Tarl Cabot, that is.” I pronounced Cabot with a silent ‘T’ the way it is pronounced in Bristol in England, where John Cabot, the fifteenth century Genoese explorer, is a local hero there.

“Well no, but by that logic you may as well doubt the existence of William Shakespeare. Cabot is spoken of in Torvaldsland, the Barrens, Ko-Ro-Ba, Ar, even in the frozen Inuit North. They can’t all be urban legends.”

We were drinking ka-la-na of the more common white variety in the shade of some olive trees and enjoying the day, bitching about men and rolling our eyes in despair at some of the slave girls who were serving in the establishment.

“Look at what they’re wearing,” I said as a slave-girl passed by with a tray of drinks for a nearby table. “Don’t the proprietors of this establishment realise that Free Women frequent this place?”

“I don’t think they care. We take up a table for hours on end just picking lightly at a plate of olives and sipping tiny glasses of ka-la-na. They make far more money when men order great plates of roast bosk with all the trimmings.”

“Well I’m paranoid about my figure, so I'm not eating much at the moment.” I couldn’t tell her that being a woman was new to me and I was thrilled with the body I had been given, and fearful that it would deteriorate in quality if I ate too much. “I’m keeping to about 1,500 calories a day maximum, just to be on the safe side.”

“You’re so vain, Felice – they ought to write a song about you,” laughed Jacinta. “But yes, I know what you mean – I’m hardly going over 1,300 calories a day myself. I feel so hungry sometimes.” She gazed around the café and nodded. “You’re right - the slave girls serving here are dressed in very short tunics.”

“Scandalously short!”

“And the way they’re slit at the sides,” said Jacinta with a frown. “Look at the way they’re walking – the little sluts are flaunting themselves in front of male customers.”

“Let’s go somewhere else tomorrow. To be honest the ka-la-na here isn’t particularly good anyway.”

“Really?” Jacinta looked down into her glass. “Tastes fine to me… Anyway, you were saying about Tarl?”

“My theory goes something like this. I reckon there was originally a Tarl Cabot, and he knew this Philosophy Professor, John Lange, in America who supposedly edits the books. Tarl probably did come from Bristol and he probably did receive a ring of unearthly red metal that provided him with a way to Gor. If the books are to be believed all this took place in the late sixties to the early seventies. Then the Kurii became very active and you were recruited and so on.”

“I know that bit. And?” Jacinta sipped her ka-la-na and licked her lips. “It really does just taste like normal wine to me. You don’t like it?”

“Jacinta, you have many fine qualities, but wine appreciation isn’t one of them. Did you drink Liebfraumilch in the early seventies when you were at university by any chance?”

“Why, yes, and Blue Nun sometimes.”

“You’ve confirmed my worst fears.” I laughed softly. “Anyway, I reckon we saw the last of Tarl in the events of book six when he gets himself enslaved in the marsh lands. After that he seems to become a different person – harder, more Gorean in nature, now calling himself Bosk. I think this was his replacement – another agent of Priest Kings – perhaps a native born Gorean this time. Only by now the name Tarl Cabot is becoming known on Gor, but few people know what Cabot looks like, so the Priest Kings have this Bosk pretend to be Cabot, because the enemy are wary of the name. It makes for good propaganda. And then after his adventures in Torvaldsland this Bosk is poisoned and ends up a cripple, confined to a chair. Only by now the legend of Tarl Cabot is too useful, and so a new Tarl Cabot is appointed from the ranks of Priest King Agents. This one is noticeably even more Gorean in nature, and he conducts various missions until something inexplicable happens to him too. For a time then the Priest Kings decide to abandon their ‘Tarl Cabots’ and we read instead about an Earth man called Jason Marshall. But he doesn’t really work out. And so the Priest Kings appoint a fourth Tarl Cabot who ventures into the barrens and is soon caught up in the great Ar-Cos war where I think he is eventually killed sometime in our late 1980s, because suddenly the chronicles cease and nothing more is heard of him for decades.”

“Well it’s a theory,” laughed Jacinta. “You’ve certainly thought this through, Felice. So you’re saying there hasn’t been a Tarl Cabot for, what, twenty five years?”

“Pretty much. Oh, people on Gor still think he’s out there somewhere, like a sinister bogeyman, and they attribute everything that goes wrong with their plans to his interference. I expect he’s become such an urban legend now that the Priest Kings don’t need an official Tarl Cabot roaming around doing their work – the enemy are now so paranoid about him that they create him in their own minds every time something goes wrong. He’s about as real as Santa Claus or the Easter Rabbit.”

“Just imagine if you met him though.” Jacinta lowered her voice as she kneeled at the low table in the café. “I mean, just imagine if it was really the same one person all this time. All the things he’s done – the adventures, the expeditions, not to mention the long chains of women he’s enslaved along the way.” She shivered slightly at the thought. “Imagine if he caught you. What he might do to you. Can you imagine that?”

“But it's not one man,” I sighed in exasperation. “No one man is that remarkable. It’s propaganda, Jacinta, can’t you see? That’s why Professor Lange publishes the books. It’s Priest King Propaganda.”

“I actually like to think there’s a Tarl Cabot out there somewhere. It keeps me on my toes.”

“Oh really, Jacinta…” I said in derision.


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“I really am developing a headache from all of this,” said Jacinta as she rubbed her temple again. “Brinn, I’ve been operational for forty years and in all that time no one has enslaved me. That isn’t going to change any time today.”

“I have been pondering the name I will give you, Lady Jacinta, after I have collared and branded you.”

“Have you now.”

“I think I will call you Kira.”

It’s a very pretty name. For a slave.”

“I’m glad you like it.” Brinn turned now to me. “Emma, do you think she suits the name, Kira?”

“Please, Master, she is my friend.”

“She’s a Free Woman, Emma, she isn’t your friend. You’re a slave, and I asked you a question. Do you think the name will suit her when she’s naked, in a collar?”

“Yes, Master, I think it will.”

“I’ll see you pay for this, Brinn. I will take Emma back with me to my house in Brundisium, and I’ll give her all the time she needs to recover from the nightmare she’s been through. She’ll recover from this, but you – you’re going back to Kurgus in a cage, and whenever I visit his estate I promise you, you’re going to live in fear of what this Free Woman is capable of.”

I felt so proud to have a friend like Jacinta. Could it be true, I thought to myself? Was my slavery really over now? Would she free me and look after me? Could I ever be the same again or had too much happened to me? Could I pass as a Free Woman once more if I tried?

“Emma is my property now,” said Brinn with a smile. “It is all quite legal. I have papers of ownership if you wish to see them.”

“That will not be necessary,” said Jacinta.

“She has opened up to to her slavery with great passion,” said Brinn. “You would be surprised to see what a hot little slut she is in the furs.”

“I see.” Jacinta regarded me coldly now. “Is that true, Emma? Do you respond to his touch like a slave?”

“Yes Mistress. Please forgive me.” I lowered my head and wished that the ground might swallow me up.

“There is little of the Free Woman left in her I think,” said Brinn, “and even that will gradually fade. She still wrestles with doubts and conflicting emotions but she is growing to understand her slave belly.”

“Her slave belly!” snapped Jacinta.

“Yes, it is in most women, it just requires the correct handling to awaken it. You yourself for example might harbour such feelings that you perhaps have repressed for many years if you found yourself branded and collared.”

“I assure you that is not the case.”

Brinn shrugged. “Then you are the rare exception, Lady Jacinta, for it is my experience that most women eventually respond appropriately to the collar and brand. The threat of the whip helps of course.”

“I find your tone offensive.”

“So too did the Lady Melinda. She is currently coming to terms with some changes to her lifestyle.”

“May I remind you that I am accompanied by three armed men. You are outnumbered and at a serious disadvantage.”

“Apparently so.” Brinn smiled at each of the men in turn. To a man they stared back at him with no expression whatsoever.

“Brinn, you are being tiresome now. Throw your sword on to the floor, kneel on the tiles and extend your wrists behind your back for binding.”

“I think I will prefer to fight. The codes of the warriors, you understand?”

“Brinn, you cannot defeat odds of three to one,” said Jacinta, feeling exasperated. “These men are extremely good fighters. Santos, Asheer, and Limidius all have many kills to their name.”

“I have heard the name Limidius before. He has a fearsome reputation it is said. Didn't he fight in the great Ar-Cos war?”

Limidius nodded in acknowledgment to that as he watched Brinn carefully. His sword was ready to strike if Brinn drew his own weapon.

“That he does,” said Jacinta after a while. “He is sometimes said to be the greatest swordsman on Gor.”

“I am rather more modest than that, Lady,” said Limidius. “I would not claim such a fine title for myself. Tarl Cabot for example...”

“Well you are surely one of the greatest swordsmen on Gor,” said Jacinta as she turned to regard him.

“I have my moments,” said Limidius. “It has been a long time indeed since any man bested me in combat. There was my Captain in the great Ar-Cos war I suppose, but no man since.”

“And that was when he was fighting alone,” said Jacinta. “He is accompanied now by two more of my men. Really, Brinn, do you honestly want to die?”

“I have no intention of dying,” said Brinn with a smile as his hand remained on his sword hilt.

Jacinta rolled her eyes in exasperation. “And what exactly do you expect to happen then?”

“I was thinking along the lines of, after I resolve this fight to a satisfactory conclusion, I will strip you and tie you to the slave ring at the base of my couch. That one over there.” Brinn pointed with his left hand.

“You obviously live in a fantasy world, Brinn.”

“I don’t think so. I recall seeing your face in the gardens in Corcyrus by the way. You are very beautiful, Jacinta. You will look lovely in my chains.”

Jacinta stiffened hearing that. Face stripping oneself before a man is of course a serious matter on Gor. Brinn of course had been a slave at the time, or so we thought, and so he had not really counted. Now Limidius gazed with curiosity at Jacinta.

“You revealed your face to this man, Lady?” The other swordsmen were curious too.

“It was… it was not as he seems to be implying.” She shrugged. “He was a slave in Corcyrus. Felice and I were in a garden frequented only by women. The normal social rules could therefore be relaxed. Naturally enough we saw no need for veils in  the absence of men.”

“But men were there, Lady,” said Brinn with a smile. “Myself for example. You face stripped yourself before me. I do not know how it is in the Tahari, but in Corcyrus only a slave would do something like that.”

“You were a slave, Brinn – it didn’t count.”

“In actual fact that is not true,” said Brinn. “I was never branded, and slave papers were never prepared for me. I had never formally submitted. I had been added to Kurgus’s work detail by way of a ruse so that I might spy on him. Technically and indeed legally, I was never actually a slave. Some people may have assumed I was, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was truly free.”

“Oh.”

“You voluntarily face stripped yourself before a free man, Lady,” said Brinn with a smile. “I recall you had very pretty lips.”

“How was I to know you were free?”

Brinn shrugged. “Perhaps you should have considered such things before you face stripped yourself in public. Did you truly know who else might be in the vicinity? Could you be sure men weren’t somewhere close to hand? Or was it in truth a case that you perhaps secretly hoped a man might see you and think you pretty? Really, Lady, face stripping yourself in public…”

“Is this true?” asked Limidius.

“Quiet,” she snapped. “He tries to confuse you all. You are intelligent men, therefore he will not succeed. Watch him closely. He may try to draw his sword.”

“Then of course there is the matter of what you said to me that day. Words along the lines of, ‘who is the beef cake?’ when you saw my muscular torso. You seemed rather excited, especially when your friend - once the free woman Felice, now my slave slut Emma – described in some passing details the size of my manhood. I seem to recall you speculating that had we all been in private you would have wished to see for yourself.” Brinn smiled.

I could well imagine that behind her veils Jacinta was now blushing a bright red.

“Is this true?” asked Limidius.

“Do not listen to him! Keep your weapons ready.”

“You displayed a sexual interest in a free man in public, Lady, after face stripping yourself before him shamefully. That is a very slave like thing to do. But maybe customs are different in the Tahari?” He looked round at the three swordsmen.

“No they are not,” said Limidius.

“Personally speaking,” said Brinn, “I am glad I am not in the service of a woman who face strips herself in public and expresses scandalous sexual feelings of an intimate nature. But then, I am of the warriors. Other castes may feel differently about such important things.”

“I am of the warriors too,” said Limidius.

“And I,” said Santos,

“I too am of the warriors,” said Asheer.

“Oh.” Brinn seemed surprised and disappointed by this. “Perhaps the codes of the warriors are different in the Tahari? Maybe they apply different standards to the rest of Gor?”

“No, they do not,” said Limidius.

“Don’t listen to him. He is twisting my words. He is desperate because he knows he cannot beat all three of you,” said Jacinta.

“That same week of course I was present when the Lady Jacinta chose to attend a lewd and bawdy theatre performance by the famous Boots Tarsk Bit Travelling Troupe of Renowned and Accomplished Players.”

“I have seen some of their plays. They are very entertaining,” said Limidius with a broad grin.

“Indeed.” Brinn acknowledged the fact with a nod of his head. “She seemed most interested in particular in the performances where haughty free women were tricked into a collar and eventually enslaved.”

“Those are my favourites too.” Limidius chuckled, remembering one or two of the finer ones.

“I found it interesting at the time that the Lady Jacinta was so keen on watching so called 'Ladies' being reduced to slavery.”

“This is ridiculous! I was only there for a joke! I wanted to see Felice’s reaction! It was my last day in Corcyrus. I didn’t actually like the plays! I took Felice there precisely because they were so bad.” Jacinta glared at Brinn.

“And yet you remained there for the entire performance. Did you perhaps find yourself getting excited by the parts where the Free Women characters were being made to strip? Did you perhaps imagine yourself there on that stage, sharing their inevitable fate?”

“I will not listen to any more of this nonsense! Limidius, order your men to attack him.”

“Not just yet,” said Limidius as he rubbed his chin in thought. “He seems an interesting fellow, and too, he is of the warriors.”

“Asheer, Santos. I command you to attack Brinn.”

Santos and Asheer regarded one another and then looked towards Limidius for his instructions.

“Hold for the moment,” ordered Limidius. “There is no hurry.”

Jacinta turned and stared at the bars fixed in place over the narrow windows. It was of course impossible to leave the room that way. Indeed, the only way out seemed to be through the doorway in which Brinn stood.

“I think I wish to leave,” Lady Jacinta said to her men. They regarded her with smiles.

“The doorway is straight ahead, Lady,” said Limidius. Jacinta regarded Brinn again, standing there, not moving, blocking the doorway.

“Perhaps I will not leave just yet,” she said quickly.

“As Lady Jacinta wishes,” said Limidius with a smile.

“Tell me, Limidius, is it actually true that you fought in the great Ar-Cos war?” asked Brinn.

“It is true. I served under an excellent Captain.”

“And what was this fine fellow's name?”

“Brinn, of the Sardar Mountains of course.” Limidius broke into a big grin as he nodded and acknowledged his former commander.

“Tal, Limidius.”

“Tal, Captain.”

Jacinta looked at her men in dismay as Limidius first sheathed his sword and then motioned for his companions to do the same. “No one is to point steel at this man. Should either of you do so, you will face my blade. Do you understand?” His companions looked confused for a moment but, seeing the grim determination in his face, they nodded acknowledgment and sheathed their weapons.

“I heard you were serving with Dietrich of Tarnburg these days?” said Brinn. His hand no longer rested on the scabbard of his short sword.

“For a time I was, but conflicts in central Gor have been sparse these past few years. The region has become too damn peaceful for my liking. There’s no money to be made in times of peace for a man like me.”

Brinn stepped forward and clasped the right hand with his former companion in arms. “Has she paid you well?” He indicated Lady Jacinta as she took a couple of steps back until she had reached the barred window and could go no further.

“Adequate. She takes advantage of the depressed prices this season due to the lack of war and the abundance of sell swords.”

“Are you employed on a fixed contract or a rolling contract?”

“The latter, Captain. She pays us only when she is in the Tahari.”

“Excellent, then you will have no qualms about taking alternative employment with immediate notice.” Brinn reached into his pouch and produced three gold coins. The eyes of the men either side of Limidius lit up at the sign of such wealth. “Your pay for today,” said Brinn as he handed the money over.

“This is too much,” said Limidius quietly.

“I think not.” Brinn now smiled at Lady Jacinta. She looked worried, and I could not blame her. My heart sank as I considered what was about to happen.

“Pour us paga, Lady. You will find bowls, cups and a bottle over there. The men in this room wish to drink and become better acquainted.” Brinn pointed to a low table at one side of the room, well away from the main door.

“She is going to serve paga, dressed like that?” asked Limidius with a frown.

“A good point. Emma – assist the Lady Jacinta in removing her sumptuous gowns, robes and veils. She can serve the paga naked.”

I looked piteously at Jacinta, knowing how she must be feeling now. She had thought she was going to place Brinn in chains, deliver him in triumph to Kurgus, and also free me, but now the tables had been turned. But I had little choice. I stepped forward and looked my friend in the eyes.

“I’m sorry, Mistress,” I said, and I was. I could see Jacinta’s small hands clench into futile fists. She had been free now for forty years, but that was no doubt about to change. She stood there, silent, as I busied myself with the complicated series of hooks and clasps, removing her rich garments one at a time while the men watched. The veils I removed last of all, peeling them in layers from her face. Until she stood there in just a soft sleeveless under garment, cut to mid thigh.

“All her clothes, Emma.”

I saw Jacinta close her eyes tightly as I removed the final garment. Behind me I could hear cries of admiration from Brinn and her former employees.

“Now serve paga,” said Brinn as he admired Jacinta’s naked body. It was as perfectly curvaceous as I remembered it to be from that morning in the villa in Corcyrus when I had first gazed upon Jacinta in the baths. I squeezed the fingers of her right hand as a sign of strength and I watched her walk slowly to the low table. She had to kneel to place the paga bowls and bottle onto a tray, and these she carried towards Brinn and Limidius.

Jacinta was silent and quite dignified as she knelt and poured paga for each man in turn. I admired her resolve, but knew it could not last. Brinn had been playing with her from the moment we had set foot into his house, and he would I suppose continue to play with her for a short while yet, for his own amusement. And then my lovely friend would no doubt join me in a steel collar and be taken to a metal worker to be branded.

“You must be Kurgus's longest surviving agent, Lady,” said Brinn in genuine admiration. “I am actually very impressed. Forty years is it not?”

“Thereabouts,” said Jacinta as she knelt before my Master.

“Remarkable. However did you achieve such a run of luck?”

“I have my methods,” said Jacinta bitterly. “Just who are you, Brinn? I acknowledge I seriously miscalculated today.”

“I'm an agent of Priest Kings. Your enemy.”

“Oh.” Jacinta looked up at him.

“You know what that means, don't you?”

“I am spoils of war?” She guessed.

“Yes.”

“I am perhaps to be ransomed?” There was some hope in her eyes.

“I have the Lady Melinda for that.” Brinn and I both saw the hope now fade from Jacinta's eyes. “And besides which, an agent with your record should never be let out into the wild again. I will collar you, I will brand you, I will pierce your ears and nose and I will train you to submit like Emma here. Is there anything you wish to say before I begin?”

“Yes, Brinn. Reshaka Te'An Tevu.”

To my amazement Brinn just stood there silently, staring down at Jacinta. And then, still not saying a word he downed the bowl of paga, walked back to the low table, poured a second helping and approached my naked friend again. Jacinta regarded him with a steely gaze.

“Understand this, if you're lying to me, I will kill you,” said Brinn.

“I am not lying to you, Brinn of the Sardar Mountains.” Jacinta met his gaze without hesitation.

I knelt confused as Brinn carried on staring at Jacinta before finally turning away and downing his second bowl of paga. “My congratulations, Lady. I cannot read you. You're either telling the truth or you are a remarkably accomplished liar.”

“Master?” I said quietly, not understanding any of this. Jacinta's former men also looked confused, as did Melinda.

“Lady Jacinta has just given me an extremely rare recognition code. It is a code only certain people know. It supposedly identifies her as a particular kind of Priest King agent – one who has been operating as a double agent within the Kurii ranks.”

Jacinta smiled softly at Brinn.

“Am I supposed to believe that for nigh on forty years you have been secretly working for Priest Kings?” he said.

“I gave you the code.”

“Where did you get it?”

“From my handler of course. I work for Priest Kings.”

“Did you torture and kill someone to get that code?”

“I work for Priest Kings,” said Jacinta again.

Brinn watched her expression and body carefully again to his frustration. “I still cannot read you.”

“Then believe me. I work for Priest Kings.”

“Who is your handler?”

“I have been ordered not to divulge that information to anyone, not even other Priest King agents.”

Brinn threw the paga bowl at the far wall where it exploded into shards.

“I am sorry if the truth distresses you, Brinn. For it appears we are colleagues...”

 
---------------------------------------------    



“We’re not slaves!” hissed Melinda as she knelt beside me.

“True, but you are my captives, and as such you will be under my discipline until I decide what to do with you both. Jacinta may or may not be an agent of Priest Kings…” said Brinn. He seemed annoyed still.

“I am,” said Jacinta quite calmly from where she knelt on the floor.

“That is to be determined in due course. You will both remain captives for the time being, and therefore be exempt from sexual use. I need to travel to the Northern Forests and there I shall determine your fates. It may be, Lady Melinda, that we will be able to trade you for our agent, Lady Coraline, held still by Kurgus. Or it may be that you will end up being branded and sold. We shall see. Lady Jacinta – if you are telling the truth, then you will be freed. If you have lied to me however, your slavery will be particularly harsh. Do you wish to stand by your story? Think carefully now?”

“Yes. After all it is true.”

We knelt in a line with our backs to the wall as Brinn conversed with the three men he had hired. Melinda still had the angry frustration of a woman who believed she had been treated unfairly but at least knew she would be exchanged in Lydius for a Priest King agent of equivalent value to herself.

“It is as Brinn said,” explained Melinda. “A deal will be done and I will be exchanged.” She looked down at me. “I have value, you see. I have been operational for many years. I have done good work. I look forward to being freed in the city of Lydius.”

I ignored her and looked instead to my friend, Jacinta. She looked calm enough, but I could see there was tension and fear beneath the surface of that calm exterior of hers. We were in an ankle coffle with ankle rings locked about our left legs. There was two feet of chain between each ankle ring.

“Are you really an agent of Priest Kings, Jacinta?” I whispered. Jacinta looked away and gazed up at the barred window on the wall opposite. She didn’t meet my gaze.

“She has no future now,” said Melinda. “Either she is lying, in which case she will be collared and enslaved in Lydius for trying to deceive Brinn, or she is telling the truth, in which case she is a traitor and Kurgus will hunt her down and feed her to his sleen. Either way her future does not seem good. I myself of course will soon be free in Lydius. I merely have to tolerate these indignities until then.” She touched the ankle chain and darted a cold look at Jacinta. “Traitorous slut!” she said. Jacinta continued to look away, ignoring Melinda. “Is this how you survived all these years, because no agent of Priest Kings would ever enslave you? I expect you were captured routinely through your own incompetence, but your magic identification code always saved you. You belong in a collar!”

“Leave my friend alone,” I said.

“And as for you, slave-girl, you call me Mistress when you speak to me. I am free, remember!”

“Forgive me, Mistress.” It had been easy to forget, since the Free Woman Melinda now wore a brief slave tunic.

“I should have you beaten. Perhaps I will.”

“Emma, come here,” said Brinn kindly. I rose to my feet and took four graceful steps to be beside him. I gazed up into his eyes as he took hold of my waist. Even such a simple thing as touching me like that gave me a sense of pleasant anticipation. A slave-girl who has spent many months being naked becomes sensitive to the touch of a man. A slave’s skin is more alive to the sensation of touch. Partly this is to do with sensory training in the early days of my life in the pens, where I was taught to react to different textures ranging from soft silks and velvets to coarse rugs and sand and of course the touch of a man’s hand. I was conditioned during the lessons to associate being touched with being given some form of pleasure. When I was given treats in a class it would be on the understanding that a man, usually a guard, would touch me while I ate.

“I am pleased with you, girl.” Brinn smiled and I felt happy. It is a strange thing that I feel happy when my Master is pleased with me. It doesn’t necessarily translate into some form of physical reward such as good food, or maybe a saucer of ka-la-na, or pretty silks to wear, or pretty earrings (I would not admit it but I was actually growing rather fond of my barbaric earrings. The nose ring I wore though still bothered me), but rather I, like other slaves, was conditioned to feel a sense of elation at learning I had done well. “You obeyed me earlier as you should. I am pleased.” He kissed me tenderly and I kissed him back, relishing the moment.

“You stir such feelings in me at times, Emma,” he said. “It is unusual.”

“Yes, Master.” I felt his hand move to my ass, reach under the brief hem of my slave garment, and I felt a surge of excitement at being touched like that.

“You will receive a pan of ka-la-na tonight.”

“Thank you, Master!”

“I will be travelling north soon. You know that.”

Here it comes, I thought. I was going to be taken to a public pen to be kennelled there with other girls until an unknown day when Brinn might eventually return to the Tahari.

“I know Master.” I tried to stop my eyes from watering for I knew now that he didn’t like to see that.

“You’re scared of the pens in Patashqar, aren’t you?”

I nodded and bit my lip. “Very, Master. I spent two months in one.”

“My journey north will be a long one. It will not be comfortable.”

“I know.” Something in his voice now made me gaze up with a little hope.

“It may even be dangerous. The wilds of Gor are home to outlaws, and then there are Kurii forces who may attempt to intercept me. You would be in considerable danger.”

“I would be with you, Master!”

Brinn laughed. “Clever, devious little slut. You would, though, be least girl in my ankle coffle, as both Melinda and Jacinta are to remain free for the time being.”

“I don’t care, Master!”

“You would be expected to defer to them as they are Free and you are a slave.”

“Of course, Master, that is only right.” Now I was full of hope. Could he actually be reconsidering… I opened my lips slightly and leaned forward a little – a slave trick that usually makes a man feel more dominant, more possessive, more eager to have his girl close by.

“I am going to take you with me to Lydius where I am to exchange Melinda for the Lady Coraline.”

“Thank you! Thank you!” I kissed his chest with passion, hearing those words at last.

Brinn silenced me with a finger to my lips. I stood there quiet, but my heart fit to burst with relief. I would not be penned in the Tahari! My life would now be bearable at least.

“Then I will seek to clarify the identity and allegiances of the Lady Jacinta. She claims to be a double agent for the Priest Kings, but I am suspicious by nature.”

“And then we travel from Lydius to the Northern Forests, Master, to find the weapons cache!” I beamed, happy beyond belief. “I will make camp and cook for you and...”

“Then in Lydius I will sell you in the market place, Emma, and I will proceed on alone.”

“What? No! Master! What have I done? You can’t mean that! You can’t mean to sell me in Lydius!”

“You have done nothing wrong, Emma, but I will sell you in Lydius all the same, and never see you again.”

“But… I don’t understand…”

“I fear…” Brinn seemed to search for the right form of words, “I fear I may in time grow fond of you, slave-girl. That cannot happen. Therefore you will be sold on the auction block in Lydius. I have spoken and in such things I never change my mind.”

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