Sunday, 7 May 2017

Mistress of Gor Chapter Eleven

Chapter 11: We rest for the night with consequences

"Stop pressing against me, slut!” snapped Sakkara as once again the rocking motion of the sand kaiila caused the two of us to nudge one another. The space inside the kurdah was as cramped as I had feared it might be. There was no getting away from the fact that Sakkara and myself would be in close proximity to one another for several long days. If I could accept that, it soon became plain that she would not. “If I had my way you would be walking in a neck chain behind the animal!”

My mood towards her was less than cordial too on account of the fact she was now dressed in the full flowing gowns of a desert woman. The fabric was cheap and simply made, but the garments covered her body completely and gave her the appearance of a dignified Free Woman of the Tahari, whereas I hardly dared move in my snugly fitting pale blue ta-teera slave garment.

How had she acquired such clothing? Well, it seemed she had lied when originally asked if she possessed any money. She had in fact a coin hidden in her slip which she had been reluctant to reveal to either Seremides or myself. That morning before we took leave of the oasis, she had found a merchant whose stock included desert haiks, and she had purchased clothing for herself with the coin. The fact that she was now properly clothed and I was not served as a source of bitter resentment to me. 

“I’ve really had enough of your attitude, Sakkara.” I turned as best I could to address the issue. “I am really sorry for what happened to you in the oasis, but for the last time, it was not my fault. I’m not sorry I escaped suffering the same fate as you, and believe me if I could I would have saved you, I would have. What they did to you was horrible, degrading, barbaric, and a crime in any sane society. But there was nothing I could do to help you. I was naked and chained, and the fact that I didn’t share your fate was purely down to luck. Sakkara, I’m so sorry for you. Please don’t be angry with me. We should be helping one another get through this ordeal.”

For a moment she tried to say something and then she simply broke down and began to cry. All the bottled up emotion from last night came out in a torrent and I placed my arm around her and hugged her to my chest. Her head rested against my shoulder and she just stayed there for a while, her tears wetting the fabric of my skimpy ta-teera.

“It should have been you,” she sobbed. “I wish it had been you instead of me.”

What can you say to that? What can you say to a woman who has suffered a hideous ordeal and who is then honest enough to admit she wished you had suffered in her place? It is what we would all secretly wish for I suppose. It doesn’t make you a cruel person to wish someone else suffered in your stead. It only makes you human.

“Sakkara, if there’s anything I can do…” I got no particular sexual pleasure from holding Sakkara. This wasn’t the time or place for such feelings, no matter how beautiful I knew Sakkara to be. I simply wanted to comfort her as a woman would do and a man should.

“If I had been white silk…” she whispered. “I wish they had taken you instead of me…”

“I understand.” I kissed her softly on her forehead. “I understand, and I don’t blame you for feeling that way. We will get out of this, Sakkara, and in time you will heal. But for now we must work together. We can’t be at one another’s throats all day. We’re still very much in danger. Seremides may or may not intend selling us, but he is only one man. He may not be able to protect us from other men. It is still many days to the safety of a city’s walls after all.”

We made camp that night in the shelter of a ruined desert building. It was a simple adobe construction of two rooms and a short walled courtyard, which had long since been abandoned by its owners many years ago (they may have been killed or driven away by raiders). Most of the roof had since collapsed and the floor was now covered in deep drifts of sand blown in from outside. I was concerned to see that the building already had a guest – a robed man of the desert who, like us, intended to bed down for the night before continuing his journey the next day.

“Tal,” said Seremides as he dismounted from his kaiila.

“Tal,” said the nomad as he sat cross-legged in front of the ruined building. His own riding animal was tethered close by and he had already set up camp for the night. I peered at him from the kurdah enclosure as Seremides wound the reins of his kaiila to the remains of a hitching post.  

“Do you object to us sharing this shelter with you tonight?” asked Seremides. 

“You are welcome to do so, son of the desert. My name is Al-Fayed. I am but a simple traveller across these dunes and offer you the warmth of my camp fire in these troubled times.”

“I in turn can offer you some food. My name is Seremides.” They nodded at one another, but Seremides also took the opportunity to notice the man's weapons laid out on a blanket close by, where he was in the act of polishing and cleaning them. The weapons seemed to me to be of very high quality, suggesting Al-Fayed was no mere 'simple traveller'.

“You have slaves with you?” Al-Fayed gazed at the kurdah, and the sight of Sakkara and myself jostling slightly to peer through the curtains of the platform.  

“They are in fact free ladies, but are understandably shy and apprehensive – particularly the Lady Felice, on account of the unfortunate brevity of her garment. Let me make introductions.” He motioned for us to leave the Kurdah, something I was reluctant to do, dressed the way I was. Sakkara climbed down first because she had nothing to fear, dressed the way she was.

“This is the Lady Sakkara of Kadesh,” introduced Seremides. “She is to be Free Companioned to a Magistrate in Patashqar.”

“Tal Lady,” said Al-Fayed with courtesy. “May the desert winds be kind to you on your journey. Come, share my meagre fire and rest assured I mean you no harm.”

“And this...” Seremides paused as he noticed I still hid myself within the curtained enclosure of the Kurdah. “Lady Felice, you will have to leave the kurdah at some point tonight. There is no prolonging the inevitable.” He clicked his fingers to summon me down.

I was blushing crimson as I eased myself down from the Kurdah. I have a difficult enough job stepping out of taxi cabs in a short skirt without appearing indecent, so climbing down from the kurdah in a brief ta-teera garment was next to impossible without revealing much of my beauty. I sensed the sharp intake of breath from Al-Fayed as he saw my body for the first time.

“By all the Djinn of the deserts – now THAT is a woman! Free, you say?” His eyes roamed the curves of my figure, and if looks alone could devour me, then I would already have been a choice banquet laid out before him.

“Free, though the Lady has lost all her possessions, hence the unfortunate brevity of her sole garment. May I present the Lady Felicia of Corcyrus. She travels to Patashqar too, where her fortunes are assured.”

“Interesting.” The man stared long and hard at me as I stood there, shifting my weight from one foot to the other, feeling scrutinised the way a Gorean man might scrutinise a slave-girl. The sand felt blistering hot under my soft bare feet as I turned my face away, not wishing to meet the man's gaze.

Seremides instructed Sakkara and myself to tend to the camp fire for cooking. This we set out to do with the supply of firewood Seremides had sent us to gather in the oasis before we left. While Seremides tended to the two kaiila, massaging their muscles and grooming them after a hard day’s march, Sakkara showed me how to set up cooking facilities on an open fire while Al-Fayed watched with interest. I felt very stupid as I realised I lacked basic skills that any young Gorean girl would have mastered by the age of ten. My reliance on Earth on technological labour saving devices had left me ill equipped to prepare food on an open fire. Together we built a simple frame work on which to hang a pot of water and seeing how useless I was at most things, Sakkara instructed me to peel and chop vegetables for the pot.

“That’s something even you should be able to do,” she said with a trace of the bitterness still present in her voice.

We knelt there, two women, working to prepare an evening meal as Seremides and Al-Fayed sat on the lintel of a crumbling wall, drinking paga from a cup. They gazed with satisfaction at the sight of us on our knees doing what they considered to be women’s work.

“When you are finished, Lady Felicia, you are to clean my sandals and weapons harness. “ Seremides seemed content, relaxed after navigating the desert for a day. Without him I would have probably travelled around in circles, for the desert looked the same to me in every direction. There had been no roads that I could see, but to Seremides’s eyes the path to Patashqar was obvious enough.

Sakkara glanced at the large chunks I had been cutting from some root like vegetables and, shaking her head in despair, took the knife from me and pointed towards the sandals and sword belt. “Clean the leather. I will try to save our meal from the butchery you’re inflicting upon it.”

That night as darkness fell, we knelt by the camp fire keeping warm. The temperature can drop considerably in the desert at night out in the open. The oasis had felt very sheltered, but out here the famous wind of the Tahari blew strong. I shivered a little in my skimpy ta-teera and gazed enviously at the warmer gowns that Sakkara wore. Seremides had permitted us each a goblet of ka-la-na but had instructed us to take small sips and make the wine last. “There will be no refills,” he said as he guzzled paga by the cup full, conversing with Al-Fayed. Copying Sakkara, I lifted my veil slightly with my left hand as I placed the cup to my lips with my right, such that the cup obscured that part of my lower face that the slave-girl veil did not. Even though the thin fabric continued to make a mockery of its function.

With bellies full, we listened to the boastful Seremides as he ‘entertained’ us with tales of his great exploits around the various regions of Gor. If his stories could be believed he had travelled well and was an expert at capturing women.

“A girl in your furs is to be savoured if it is you who first caught her. The fresh captures are always the best. To see them wriggling and steeling themselves to resist your touch.” He licked his lips and refilled the paga cup. “There is nothing better in life.”

And so he went on, telling us that the nature of women is to be dominated, and the nature of men is to dominate and I knelt there gradually blotting out his words which soon became a background sound like the buzzing of insects. I knew very well the fantasies many women had of kneeling in submission and being chained. Those very fantasies had brought me to Gor at the hands of the beautiful but manipulative Udumi. Even after what she had done to me, I still longed for her lips and body. Part of me still desired to kneel in submission before her and wear her collar. Even after what she had done to me. I couldn’t help the way I felt. Ironically I now had a body that held no interest to her, and it was a body that she had effectively devised. I wondered where Udumi was now, what she was doing. Was she even now sitting at another bar in England, talking to another man, tempting him to admit his secret fantasies, as all the while a taxi cab waited patiently outside for her signal. Oh Udumi, how good you are at your job. I still felt aroused when I dreamt of Udumi and of how it might feel for her to lead me to a Gorean couch, strip me of whatever scandalously short garment she had given me to wear. I could feel my nipples swell and a warm glow spread between my thighs as I imagined being chained to the couch for her pleasure. Oh Udumi. I really was putty in your hands that night.

I suppose we were all feeling somewhat relaxed as the evening wore on. It therefore came as a surprise when Al-Fayed eventually spoke.

“So, I gather it is now the time for us to engage one another with blades of steel.” Al-Fayed wiped his mouth with his right hand, regarding Seremides, as he rose, loosening a fold of cloth of his jallabah to reveal the well worn scimitar hilt at his side. From his fluid movements I could tell he had been pretending to drink the cups of paga, and was in fact perfectly sober.

“There is no need for this,” said Seremides as he too rose from the opposite side of the camp fire. Curiously he too seemed very alert and I realised that he too had been pretending to drink from his cups of paga the whole night. Al-Fayed suddenly realised this too and nodded as if to acknowledge the mutual deceit. Seremides motioned to us both with his left hand and pointed to the farthest corner of the ruined adobe building. “Felice, Sakkara, kneel quietly facing the wall. Do not hinder me in any way.”

Al-fayed grinned as we scurried to safety. “Once I have slain this fellow, be sure to strip yourselves completely and kneel in the sand with your palms resting on your thighs. I will decide which of you will share my furs tonight. If you are both exceptionally pretty, I may make use of both of you.” He drew his scimitar and took a couple of steps back, circling in an ever increasing arc away from the camp fire.

“They’re going to fight over us!” said Sakkara as she pressed her forehead against the far wall. “Men are fighting over us!”

“I think that’s fairly obvious,” I replied. I glanced round and saw Seremides, now with a blade in his hand too, circling away from the fire. It seemed that neither man wished to fight in the cramped confines of the ruin, but neither man was going to be first to pass through the ruined archway. It was equidistant to both blades.

“Put up your blade and you may retire in peace,” said Seremides. “I have eaten well tonight and have no wish to kill you.”

“Excellent,” replied Al-Fayed as he spat onto the ground. “It would be a shame if that was what you wanted, as unfortunately for you it will not happen. But I shall offer you a similar deal. Discard your blade, and I will permit you your life. I am only interested in the females.”

Sakkara gasped beside me and I reached out to take her hand in mine. Unlike her I was determined to watch the fight taking place. Not only was my freedom and possibly my life at stake, but I wanted to see how Gorean men fought close up. My only experiences of sword play to date, outside of the brief and confused battle  when the caravan was attacked, had been in films where wildly theatrical fight scenes reminiscent of choreographed ballets had given the impression that fighting was akin to a dance routine. Perhaps I still harboured the hope that if I watched and memorised the moves, I might one day be able to face a Gorean man with a sword in my hand. I know now of course how foolish that assumption was. There is simply no way I could last long, let alone win in a sword fight with a Gorean man familiar with steel. Not all Goreans are familiar with the use of a blade of course. The percentage of trained warriors on Gor as part of the population is relatively low. There are other castes of course who have men capable of fighting (though not to the same degree as a warrior who has trained all his life to do little else) but even so, like Earth most people on Gor pursue non-military professions.

People often forget just how physically tiring a sword fight can be. Swords are heavy. And in addition to skill and speed, physical strength counts for a lot, because you can theoretically win a sword fight simply by smacking your opponent’s blade around with your own multiple times until he tires his arms. Once fatigue sets in, it’s a simple matter to swat his sword aside and before he can recover sufficiently, kill him. Both Seremides and Al-Fayed were without doubt strong men. As I watched they closed upon one another and began to strike heavy blows, content to parry one another rather than commit to killing strikes that might not get through a skilled defence. Like most warriors they were testing one another’s speed, skill and strength of arm. The sword blows sounded to my like hammers striking anvils, and I knew with a sinking feeling that my weak sword arm would be swept aside by any of those blows. The simple act of parrying such forceful strikes would probably leave me off balance for a moment with my blade well away from my body, leaving me open to a follow up strike. There was no denying how much of a disadvantage women were at if they tried to fight a man with a sword.

I bit my lip nervously now as Al-Fayed struck hard again and again, forcing Seremides back towards the camp fire. The desert raider seemed to know what he was doing, swinging his curved scimitar in a lethal figure of eight loop that forced Seremides to counter on every side. There was a rhythm to Al-Fayed’s style, but not so much that Seremides could predict where the next blow would come from.

“Tell me,” grunted Al-Fayed as he sliced to the left and then to the right, “when I have slain you, which woman should I take to my furs first?”

Seremides parried both blows, but only just. I grew more and more nervous as it seemed that Kurgus’s man was definitely coming off worst here.

“The Lady Sakkara is red silk and therefore experienced, to the extent that a Free Woman can be. The Lady Felice is white silk and therefore probably quite frigid.”

I flinched at that comment. Frigid! Just because I didn’t find myself attracted to men didn’t mean I was frigid!

“But on the other hand, the Lady Felice is, as you can see, breathtakingly beautiful. On the balance of things, she has the edge there on Sakkara.” Seremides managed to send a couple of his own thrusts and cuts at Al-Fayed, but they were easily countered by the raider.

“That’s not true,” hissed Sakkara to me. I shrugged, rather pleased with the assessment outside of the 'frigid' comment. I glanced at Sakkara and briefly stuck my tongue out at her.

“On the other hand, splendid as the Lady Felice’s legs are, and you can see they are magnificent, beneath those layers of gowns, the Lady Sakkara’s legs are near perfection. You will have to trust me on that, robed as she is.”

“Interesting,” said Al-Fayed as he skipped forward and nearly slashed Seremides’s sword arm open. Only a rapid step back had saved my Keeper from a debilitating would that would have rendered him useless in the fight.

“Your legs are vey good,” I said to Sakkara reluctantly as she offered me a superior gaze. “He is right. They are better than mine.”

Sakkara nodded, pleased with this. “My Free Companion will be delighted when he sees them in Patashqar. I suppose…” she thought about it for a minute, glancing to where I knelt, “your legs are quite good too.”

“Quite good?”

“Well, if I were not here, I suppose men would think them near perfect. But I am here, so they lose by comparison. Your legs are slave pretty though.”

“Why thank you,” I said sarcastically. Today was just getting better and better…

“If I might make a few observations relating to your fighting style,” remarked Al-Fayed as his blade now cut a razor sharp slash across Seremides’s left leg. A ribbon of blood immediately appeared, broadening in size as he moved.

“Please do so,” grunted Seremides as he moved even further back towards the fire which was now perilously close to his back. “I am not so conceited as to be irritated by constructive criticism.”

“Your defence on the whole is good, but lacks the sophistication to turn my blade at the crucial moments permitting a counter strike.”

“I see.” Seremides didn’t dare risk glancing down to his wound, for taking his eyes off his enemy would be a fatal move, but I could see that the cut had gone deep. Seremides would have problems running at any speed, not that he had any intention of doing so. Honour is important to a Gorean man, and for all his faults, Seremides would not simply surrender me.

Al-Fayed now flicked his blade out like the forked tongue of a snake and drew blood on his opponent’s left shoulder. “You’re good, but obviously I’m better.”

“I see that now,” said Seremides with the understanding that he was unlikely to win. “Were this but a training spar I believe there is much I might learn from you stylistically.”

“A shame then that this is not a spar. There is still time to surrender the females to me.”

“You know I cannot do that with any sense of honour.”

“Of course. I respect that and I will honour your corpse in the desert fashion after enjoying the first of your women in the furs.”

I desperately needed to find a knife. I would attempt to stab him when he laid his hands on me. I would not submit meekly to rape at his hands. Sakkara trembled beside me, knowing as I did that in mere minutes we would be stripped and bound, ready for the Tahari man’s pleasure.

“Not again,” sobbed Sakkara. “Please, no.”

Seremides now had his back to the blazing camp fire and could retreat no further. He had perhaps twenty or thirty seconds longer before Al-Fayed’s skilful sword wrist would send a sliver of steel through his breast bone and into his heart. And then I would be the man’s slave. He would strip me and collar me and even if I could find a knife before then, I knew he would simply take it from me and whip me for my impertinence. I was suddenly furious with my lot in life – my absolute helplessness before any strong man of Gor. From where I knelt I gouged two fistfuls of sand and suddenly exploded with rage, leaping up onto my feet, screaming at the top of my voice and launching myself in an adrenaline run straight at Al-Fayed’s left flank.

There were but thirteen paces between me and him and as I ran, yelling furious Earth obscenities, he reacted by instinct and turned to face this new threat. He was however fully prepared to receive an attack from Seremides, and was by turning towards me, probably feinting and offering an opportunity which would be a trap. But he hadn’t reckoned on my two fist fulls of sand and before I was within sword range of his deadly blade, I threw both hand fulls directly at his face. This he hadn’t expected, and for a second or two he was off guard. A second or two was all that Seremides needed. His blade thrust forward and caught the Taharian raider through the side of his rib cage. Seremides didn’t stop there. Knowing his blade was probably lodged in the man's ribs, he simply released it, collided straight into his opponent and brought him down onto the ground. While the raider remained disorientated Seremides head butted him hard and then gripping the man’s sword arm, thrust his right hand holding the blade into the camp fire.

There was a shrill scream as the raider lost his weapon and his hand began to burn. I turned my head away now as Seremides released the arm to drive both of his thumbs through the man’s eye sockets. The screams were truly horrible. Both men thrashed around - Al-Fayed blinded, mortally wounded and with one hand burnt badly was fighting for his life. Seremides picked up a rock the size of a plate and dashed it into his face three times. With the fourth blow the Taharian man lay still. We had won. Seremides did not intend taking any chances, and as he sat atop his enemy's body, he drew a knife from his belt and cut the man’s throat, just in case. Blood sprayed from the severing of the arteries, staining Seremides’s tunic.

“Is it over?” I had retreated to the far wall where I had gripped Sakkara in my arms to protect her in the event I had failed. We huddled pathetically together, for what little protection that offered. I could feel her heart beating furiously against my breasts.

“Yes.” Seremides rose, covered in blood and regarded us both. “He is dead.”

“Thank God,” I whispered. Of course I took a sense of pride in all of this, tendered with relief that my gamble had worked. Seremides would now surely view me in a very different light. I had after all saved his life at the crucial moment. He would have to respect my quick thinking and my ability to fight even a man of Gor. I would have his respect, even though I now had the body of a woman. He would be gratefully humble and have to acknowledge that sometimes a woman can win.

“You disobeyed a command, Lady Felicia.” He wiped his knife clean and returned it to his sheath. Then he turned his gaze to Lady Sakkara and said to her, “fetch salves and bandages and needle and thread. Tend to my injuries. Quickly!” She jumped up and hurried towards our supplies to fetch the items he had ordered.

“What?” I looked up at him. “I just saved your life.”

“I instructed you to kneel by the far wall and avert your gaze. You disobeyed.”

“You were about to be killed! I saved us!”

“I was luring him to the fire. I had a special move that would have killed him when he made his death strike. You on the other hand risked your life in a clumsy move that only worked by pure chance. Had I not risked everything in a reactionary strike that might have got me killed, you would be dead now. You stupid ignorant woman.”

I couldn’t believe this. Was he serious? “You are so full of shit, Seremides. He would have killed you if it wasn't for me! 'Special move' – fuck you!”

“I was controlling the fight the entire time. I was leading him into position for my death blow. He was overconfident and would have been cut down like wheat. You almost got us all killed!” He strode forward and seized me by my hair, dragging my head down to the sand. “Do not ever, ever disobey a command from me again, Lady Felice. With blood rage etched across his face, and still bleeding from his cuts, Seremides dragged me by my wrists across the sand, ignoring my pathetic struggles and screams for him to stop. He dragged me to one of the hitching posts that didn’t have our kaiilas tethered to it, and there he quickly lashed my wrists to the highest of the iron rings. I sobbed, standing on tip toes as he pulled the rope to raise me into that precarious position.

“Seremides! What are you doing! Let me go!”

Now he pulled the ta-teera down around my hips, and pressed me against the post, my naked breasts feeling the coarseness of the wood. “Let me go!”

Turning my head to gaze rover my shoulder I saw Seremides unclip the Gorean whip from his belt.

“You can’t be serious! You can’t whip me! You can’t!”

“You nearly got us all killed.” Seremides loosened the coils of the whip such that the leather tip dragged across the sand.

“No, no, no…” I squirmed helplessly against the post, hardly believing what was about to happen to me.

“Your problem, Lady Felicia, is that you have never felt the whip. You therefore have no fear of the whip and so you act in a manner as if there are no consequences to your actions. But you are a woman on Gor, and there are very many consequences.” Seremides drew the whip slowly down my body, watching me flinch to its touch. I was helpless to stop him with my wrists tied above me to the hitching post. “It will do you good to feel the whip. It will make certain things clear to you.”

“You can’t whip me, I’m free! I am of Corcyrus, as are you.”

“We both know that’s a lie, Lady. Your homestone is a barbarian city on Earth. You do not share the Corcyrian homestone, and as such, I have no affiliation with you outside of the fact that we both serve the Kurii. You cannot claim either caste or homestone privileges with me.” Now he moved the whip between my thighs and I trembled as I felt the smooth leather against my sex.

“Please don’t…”

“You know what this is, don’t you?” asked Seremides. I nodded quickly and turned my head away. The touch of the leather against my sex was inexplicably making me feel aroused, combined as it was with the bondage at the hands of a man. I shook my head desperately. “Please, Seremides, don’t.”

“Tell me what this is, Lady Felicia?” He slid the leather slowly back and forth and I moaned softly, my Kurii designed body betraying me as I stood there, open to the whip. “The kiss of the slave whip,” I whispered in shame, my cheeks flushing with embarrassment.

“You know what it is said to do to slaves, hmm?”

I nodded again. I knew that if Seremides was to move the whip away he would find the leather wet with my juices. To my horror my body was actually turned on by this.

“But you are a Free Woman, and therefore the kiss of the slave whip will do nothing for you, yes?”

“Please…” I turned my head away. Any moment now he would look and see the truth. Why was my body reacting like this? I suddenly hated myself for responding in such a fashion.

“I am sure there will be no sign of arousal, Lady Felicia. In which case you will have proven to me hat you are not to be whipped. For I would only whip a woman who cannot prevent herself from displaying slave response to the touch of the whip, like this…” As he moved the leather again, touching the most intimate parts between my thighs, I felt a warm glow spreading through my loins. I was flushed and, as the vulgar Gorean saying goes, ‘oiled for use’.

“Oh, Lady Felicia,” said Seremides with a show of dismay as he slid the whip away from me and inspected it. “I am disappointed in you. This is the response of a slut.” The whip was wet where it had touched me against my sex. “This is the response of a slave.”

“You don’t understand. I don’t want this. I’m not in control. Please…”

“The Kurii machines did their work well, Lady Felicia. You may think you are still a man in a woman’s body, but you have the helpless emotional responses of a natural woman. Your body influences your mind whether you want it too or not.” Seremides considered the matter carefully for a moment. “Perhaps I should inform Kurgus of your natural responses to the kiss of the whip?”

“No!” I struggled against the leather that bound my wrists above my head. “Kurgus would recall me. He would collar me as I was originally to be collared.”

“Perhaps not. Perhaps he would be compassionate and caring and understanding, like the men of your world?”

“That is not Kurgus.”

“No,” said Seremides with a smile, “no it is not. You disobeyed a command from a Gorean man, Lady Felicia. Do you understand that such a thing is not tolerated?”

“I understand! Please, there is no need to whip me.”

“What are you?”

“A woman!” I sobbed.

“Where are you?”

“On Gor.”

“Do you understand what it is to be a woman on Gor? Or do you still cling to your irrational belief that women on Gor should be treated like the women on Earth?”

“I understand my place, Seremides. Honestly I do.”

My body shook again as suddenly the leather of the whip was caressing me again. I moaned piteously and strained against my bonds.

“Are you in any doubt as to the nature of your sexual responses, Lady Felicia?”

“None,” I whimpered.

“You belong in the collar, don’t you?”

“No! I serve the Kurii! Please let me continue the mission and serve the Kurii!”

“It is only because of that that I do not now treat you the way I would treat any other girl displaying such a reaction to the whip. Know this – if you disobey me again, the whip will be used. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Seremides, I do.”

He nodded and reached to untie my bindings from the tethering post. My wrists were still lashed together, but were now free from the metal ring. I was not to be whipped after all. Because despite evidence to the contrary, I was still a Free Woman. Seremides took hold of the free end of the tether and led me by my wrists to the corner of the adobe building where he forced me down onto my knees. The Ta-teera was still pulled down around my waist, baring my breasts. I saw him stare at them in the flickering fire light with obvious desire.

“Please… my garment…”

Seremides nodded and pulled the clingy fabric of the ta-teera back up over my breasts, affording me as much modesty as the slave garment could give me.

“Do not free your wrists, Lady Felicia. I want you to sleep tonight with binding fibre on your wrists. In the morning when you wake you will not speak until I speak to you. When I awake I expect to find you kneeling here in the position of a free woman, awaiting my instructions. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Seremides. Of course.”

I spoke hardly at all the next morning. Seremides rose and, seeing me kneeling properly with my still bound hands resting in my lap, untied them and directed me to help Lady Sakkara prepare breakfast. We worked obediently, Sakkara once again directing me in the series of chores around the camp. Seremides spent his time checking his weapons and packing our supplies carefully across the backs of the two sand kaiilas, having looted Al-Fayed's belongings. He was thorough and methodical, displaying a degree of attention and detail that would do an army soldier proud. He ate with us, saying nothing, and so we chose not to speak either. By his feet, perhaps as a reminder of his authority, was the slave whip, coiled but ready for use should he deem it necessary. After breakfast was finished, Sakkara directed me to scrub our plates and pans clean with sand. Water is obviously too scarce a resource to be wasted in the desert on washing up. These too were then packed away and finally when Seremides had secured the harnesses on our beasts, he directed us to take our place again in the flimsy kurdah.

“Secure your veil, Lady Felicia,” he snapped brusquely, for my ridiculous filmy slave-veil was loosely pinned after I had eaten. I fixed it more securely, for all the good it did me, and climbed up on to the platform of the kurdah where Sakkara was already seated, clutching the low rail at the front for support.

“He is in a bad mood,” she whispered to me. “It’s your fault.”

“You think?” I said sarcastically.

“Do not anger him further. We are still two days ride away from Patashqar.”

And so we rode on, finally reaching the great walls of the city without further incident by noon of the second day.

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