Chapter 5: Kurgus gives me a mission. I am now very scared indeed
One of the things I have most difficulty with as I write this account of my adventures on Gor, is forcing myself to think as I did in the early days, and recollect only what I knew than and not varnish the account too much with the privilege of hindsight. Foreshadowing is a great thing in a narrative story, but too much of it can taint the truth, and the truth is I was very much out of my depth for a long time. I am not now the same woman I was in the weeks leading into months I have described so far. That much is an understatement. And yes, I do now think of myself as a woman, not as a man in a woman's body. My old life as a man seems little more than a dream at times, and I sometimes find it difficult to recall how it felt to have a penis and surging testosterone leading me astray. My emotional responses now are purely feminine. Gor has changed me I suppose, but maybe I simply found the freedom to be the way I secretly wished to be on Earth. Despite the advantages on Gor afforded to the male sex, I would not wish to be a man again. The thought repulses me. I am a woman. I love being a woman. I still do not understand why anyone would not want to be a woman.
I am very different now, though superficially there are few physical signs of outward change. Of course I have a slave brand on my left thigh now which would be immediately obvious to you if you saw me nude. It is a simple kef design, shaped a bit like the letter 'k', that being the first letter of the word 'Kajira, approximately one-and-one-half to two-inches in height and a half-inch wide. The vertical bar is straight and somewhat strict, possibly indicative of the male dominance under which a slave-girl exists, while the two curling, frond-like extensions are feminine in style and placed near its base, as if in submission to the dominant bar. It is a beautiful design and looks pretty on me, though I didn't think so at the time when I felt the kiss of the white hot iron burning my flesh. The left thigh is a common brand site for girls, and in that I am but one of tens of thousands. There are of course other brand sites, ranging from the right thigh, to the lower left abdomen, which is the third most favoured brand site. They can also be on the left side of the neck (usually tiny behind the left ear), on the left calf, interior of the left heel, inside of the forearms, left breast, or the high instep area of the left foot, perhaps even on the buttocks of a girl. A Gorean man, suspecting an uncollared woman might in fact be a slave would be sure to check each and every possible brand site in turn.
I am happy I was branded on the left thigh instead of anywhere else. Personally, I think it is a perfect place for a girl to wear a brand.
I still think of Earth from time to time, and the thing that haunts me the most is the question of what happened after Udumi abducted me. I would not have been missed for several days, certainly not over the weekend, but eventually after I had missed a couple of days at work, with no phone calls made to explain why, enquiries would have been made. I have a brother, Alan, who serves in the British Infantry, and a sister, Bea. They would have been listed as next of kin, along with my mother. I can imagine how scared they must have been when police told them that I was missing. In the early days they would have been told not to worry too much, but as days turned into weeks and then into months, I can only imagine how they must have felt. I have seen so many cases on the News broadcasts of women going missing, their distraught families appealing for help, for someone to come forward and say what had happened. And then gradually the public forgets the victims as the news becomes old, and no new leads arise. But for the families the ordeal, the nightmare never ends.
And of course there is the realisation that eventually the police would have searched my flat for clues, and they would have discovered all the evidence of my secret life as Emma Price. Alan, Bea, and mum would have been told about the wigs, the make-up, the feminine underwear, the wardrobe full of dresses in my size and the shoes. The police would have been sympathetic, but the news, coming out of the blue would have been another blow for my family. Alan wouldn't have understood. Bea would have wished I had told her. And Mum? I don't know. You always wish and hope that your mother would accept you as another daughter regardless.
The newspapers would probably have caught wind of my secret life, and it would be known then to all my friends and work colleagues. Perhaps the tabloid press would have been respectful, but as evidence of my secret submissive fantasies were found on my computer, there would be those who might quietly say I was a victim of my own perversions. If you live a life where you hope to be tied up and dominated then you deserve what happens to you, according to some. More pain for my family. More pain for Alan, Bea, for Mum.
I hate not knowing. I wish I could know. I wish I could console them, tell them that I am still alive, and that I have come to terms with who I am. What would they think if they saw me standing before them now – a petite Gorean woman, branded, beautiful. Would it hurt them more than ever knowing what had happened to me that night in Milton Keynes? I don't know.
I'm a woman now, Bea, like you. You have a sister. I have knelt before men in chains. I have ridden across the Tahari desert. I have run through the Northern forests in fear of hunting sleen.
I have possibly saved Gor.
All these things are behind me now, but still to come. I must avoid the advantage of hindsight.
Though I shall confess I did actually see one of my family again after all. I'm just not going to say which one at this point in time.
Kurgus accompanied me through the main thoroughfares of Corcyrus approximately two weeks after Lady Jacinta had left on her secret mission for the Others. I know now of course what the Others are – the Kurii – and I know much about the long war between the Beasts and the Priest Kings, but in those days I only knew what Kurgus told me. We walked down a main street on which, to either side, the cylinders of residential occupation towered over municipal parks and public buildings.
“Like all cities, Corcyrus can seem bewildering at first,” explained Kurgus as he nodded to Morgan and Seremides to keep a respectful distance behind us. They were armed with short swords and they wore the brash scarlet of the caste of Warriors. Kurgus was a cautious man and he rarely ventured out without protection.
“Our enemies,” he would say, “might strike at any time. I am known to them, and it would be a coup indeed to remove one of the Kur's claws in a crowded street in broad daylight. A knife between the ribs is quick and silent.” That was how he often referred to himself – as a claw of the Kurii. I think it was an actual title of sorts for their warlords.
I felt lonely again, and I knew I was growing more confused as the days rolled by. You must understand my body did not simply appear feminine, it WAS feminine in every natural function – a body awash with oestrogen and other female hormones. I found myself swinging between petulant sulks and mood swings and feeling irritated at times. As the months wore on I grew more emotional than I had ever been as a man. I found myself needing the reassurance of security, maybe as an innate part of a natural biological urge to reproduce and ensure safety for children – an impossibility of course ever since I had drunk slave wine – the breeding inhibitor that Kurgus gave me. It is commonly given to slave-girls to insure no unwanted pregnancies occur.
Now that I had a feminine body, ruled by floods of oestrogen, I craved predictability, continuity, safety, roots, relationships.
I missed my friend Jacinta. I was scared I might never see her again, and that made me cry at night, so much like a girl. I think I was in love with her, but my feelings were confusing and frightening. She was a beautiful woman – exactly my type, and whenever we had parted to return home, I had fantasised about her in bed, wishing she might be there with me, kissing me, making love to me. I would feel aroused, but each and every time I tried,I failed to hold on to the fantasies. They melted away. I still felt the yearning urge to be with her, but I couldn't... I couldn't bring myself to orgasm. And yet she was a beautiful woman. I didn't understand what was wrong with me. I would stimulate myself thinking about her, and it felt good, but I never reached an orgasm. Instead my thoughts would drift off to how beautiful her hair was, or how skilful her eye make up was, or how pretty her clothes were. I would try to visualise us having sex and each time I would find myself drifting instead to thoughts of her shoes and how much I wanted shoes like hers.
And it was even more frustrating when I was with her. In my mind I knew I found her attractive, but... touching her hand... kissing her good night – small playful flirtatious things – none of it ignited the spark, as it would have done when I was a man. It felt good... it did feel good, but... it didn't ignite fires in my loins.
On an intellectual level I knew I wanted to have sex with Jacinta. But my body simply felt, well... frigid.
I was growing scared of the way I was feeling. Was it the oestrogen? Was my Kurii granted body subtly changing the way my mind worked, the way I felt about things?
I knew I was attracted to women. I knew that. I always have been. Women are beautiful. They are amazing Their hair is so wonderful. The clothes and shoes they wear are so pretty. I've always wanted to be like them in every way.
I used to feel so much more when I was in the company of a beautiful woman when I was on Earth. Back then a woman touching my bare leg beneath my skirt would send me mad with desire. Now it would just feel, well... nice.
“Whenever you choose to leave your house you should always be accompanied by a man, Felice. For the time being I have assigned Seremides to watch over you. Eventually you may wish to hire some other men, but if you do, consult with me first. Any men in your employ need to be men I can trust. The thing to remember is that Corcyrus may seem placid, but only recently there was a coup. The old order has changed and the streets are rife with suspicion and recrimination. It will be a long time before the situation truly stabilises. A woman should not walk by herself in this volatile climate.”
“So you keep telling me.”
“Be careful how you dress outside of your property. Full veils and street gowns should be worn, no matter how uncomfortable you may find them. A Gorean man can be attracted by as little as an exposed wrist on a free woman. Be modest. Be discrete. Be polite. You are a woman, Felice. A Gorean woman.”
“Okay. I’ll assume Corcyrus is an up market Baghdad full of lecherous men with dodgy facial hair. Change of topic: is there somewhere around here we can stop to get something to eat?”
“There are some dining establishments close to the market place. We’re heading that way as it happens. What are you in the mood for?”
“Anything. I’m not fussy.” I gestured with my gloved hand. “I’ve noticed I have a healthier appetite since I’ve been living on Gor. I appreciate my food more.”
Kurgus nodded. “That is to be expected. Your body is no longer polluted by chemicals and poisons in the air you breathe. Living on the planet you did I am surprised you had any taste for food at all. Your world disgusts me with its toxic filth.”
“Is this another of your ‘Earth is a sewer’ lectures?” I smiled beneath my layers of veils. “Because I’ve heard it all before.”
“It’s the truth. Believe the evidence of your own body if you do not believe anything else. By now you will have flushed the toxins from your system. Your sense of smell and taste has improved, hasn’t it? You feel more awake, more alive. You think more clearly. Believe what your body tells you.”
“Okay. But we still have better music than you do here on Gor.”
“Do not remind me of that awful noise you listened to in London. It sounds like machines. Cold, inhuman machines. And so loud. I don’t even think it’s music.”
“Do you realise how old you sound, Kurgus?” I was enjoying this. Sometimes Kurgus could be quite receptive to conversation. Other times he would be dour and see any off hand remark as barbed attacks on his ego.
“I am old. 175 years old. I am proud of my age and experience. What of it? Why do Earth women always put such a premium on being immature and knowing nothing? You are but a child to me. You have experienced nothing in your life. Nothing worth speaking of. You have not fought and killed men at the length of a sword arm, close enough to have felt their last dying breath on your face, or led a band of loyal warriors through dark pine scented forests in the winter, or ridden a Tarn across jagged mountain tops with the cold north wind blowing through your hair.”
“No, I can’t say I have. Not a lot of call for that when you’re working in a call centre answering phones all day.”
“Always you joke.” Kurgus waved his hands in the air. “One day I think you will learn that Gor is not a joke. One day, yes, you will learn.”
“Hey, calm down. Look, I do like it here. Honestly. I do appreciate the simpler life, the lack of stress in the people and the way they live closer to nature. I like the importance you place on honour and the way you take pride in things. I even like the lack of technology sometimes and the way you appreciate the things you do have more. You Goreans have something good going for you. But you’re not very good at taking criticism.”
“Criticism from an Earth woman? That is like poetry from a bosk.” Kurgus turned a corner and led me on towards the market place.
“So I’m a bosk now am I? Lovely.”
“You will eat now.” Kurgus pointed in the direction of a simple restaurant with an open shop front and low tables and woven mats inside. The tempting scent of freshly cooked meat coated in rich spices wafted across from the open stoves. “Follow me, and moderate your conversation. We may be overheard by other people. No more of your meaningless barbarian babble. Sometimes I don't even understand what you're talking about.”
“Moo.” I made a Bosk noise.
“What? “Kurgus stared at me in exasperation.
“Me stupid bosk. Moo.”
“Sit down and be quiet, woman. You are trying my patience today.” Kurgus nodded a quick greeting in the direction of the owner of the eatery as he sat down cross legged beside a low table that allowed him to keep his back to the wall and observe the street outside.
I lowered myself gracefully to my knees, adopting the common tower position of the Gorean free woman, with my back straight and my hands resting on my thighs. At first the position had felt awkward after a lifetime of slouching on sofas, but now it was beginning to feel natural to me. It was a graceful way for a woman to kneel, and the feminine nature of the posture made sense to me. The thick, heavy layers of robes and veils would still take some getting used to though.
I watched as Kurgus clicked his fingers without even looking around. And there in my peripheral vision, above the line of my veil, I saw the figure of a slave-girl take heed of the summons and approach our table. With liquid grace, the slave dropped to her knees and lowered her gaze. She was a couple of inches taller than me, with long chestnut hair and healthy tanned skin. Like the other two slaves in the eatery, she wore a clean and reasonably modest white tunic that covered much of her thighs. It was sleeveless, and tightly belted with a length of binding fibre, but with a closed neck line a couple of inches below the steel ring of her collar. Her name, ‘Bina’ was inscribed in classic Gorean script on the steel, beside a cursive mark that probably identified the eatery she served in. “Please Master and gentle Mistress, may Bina be of service this day,” spoke the girl in a soft voice. I could smell the girl’s perfume – soft like her voice, but with rich and exotic highlights that added to her beauty. I noticed Kurgus's gaze linger on the girl's body, flicking up and down between her breasts and legs repeatedly.
“We will eat,” said Kurgus briskly. “Meat.” He pointed to the table. “And a selection of whatever vegetables you have today. And fresh baked bread, still hot. The Lady will partake of some juice. Paga for me. But bring us goblets and a good ka-la-na wine too.”
The slave nodded once in response. “Very good, Master. Will you require some water?”
“Yes, cold. And warm towels for after.” He watched as the girl withdrew and rose to her feet in a fluid motion. “We should buy you a slave,” said Kurgus after a while. He glanced back for a moment to observe the girl's ass as she approached the stoves.
“A present for the girl who has everything?” I laughed softly. “I have Louise on loan.”
“Louise is mine. She cannot serve you full time. There is much to do around your house. Unless you wish to scrub the floors yourself?”
“I could do without that, yes.”
“Later this afternoon then.” Kurgus dipped his fingers into a bowl of rose water on the table to clean them. There was another such bowl beside where I knelt. “I shall make enquiries with a slaver I know. You will be pleased to know I shall spare you the embarrassment of having to attend.”
“Having to attend the purchase of a slave from a set of private pens. It is not something you would be comfortable with.”
“Afraid I might blush and swoon?”
“As I said, it is not something you would be comfortable with.” Kurgus fixed me with a a firm stare until I looked away.
“Okay. Okay. Don’t take everything I say as a challenge to your masculinity.”
“You do not challenge my masculinity. You do often try my patience though. The slave pens of Corcyrus are no place for a Free Woman. Particularly not one such as you.”
“Oh? What’s that supposed to mean.”
“It means the slave pens of Corcyrus are no place for a free woman such as you.”
We spoke only of trivial things while we ate. Kurgus had chosen well for the food was excellent. I did not however eat very much of it for I was paranoid about ruining my gorgeous figure. Having been gifted a body as beautiful as this, I was not going to ruin it with a diet of rich food. That was less of a problem on Gor of course as the food here was natural and lacking in added sugars and starches. Only after Kurgus had finished dining did he push away the plates and turn to thus business at hand.
“It is time we discussed your mission in the Tahari, Felice.”
What shall I tell you about the Tahari? That wild, savage desert region in which I was to eventually be brutally enslaved. The Tahari region is located southeast of Ar, below the eastern foothills of the Voltai Mountains. This area is shaped like an enormous, lengthy trapezoid with eastward leaning sides. At the northwest corner of this region is the opulent city of Tor. Further west of Tor, on the Lower Fayeen River, is the city of Kasra. The desert area in the middle is known as the Wastes or the Emptiness. This area is hundreds, or even thousands, of pasangs wide. It is mostly rocky and hilly except for the dune country area. A hot wind blows nearly constantly there and water is very scarce. There are some oases that are fed from underground rivers, tributaries that flow from the Voltai.
The Upper Fayeen and Lower Fayeen are tributaries of the Cartius River. Both are sluggish, meandering rivers. The Lower Fayeen is important as it leads to Kasra, a major port for the embarkation of the salt trade. The famed red salt of Kasra received its name because this is the port where the salt leaves the Tahari region. The salt is brought in from secret pits and mines deep in the interior of the Wastes. Upriver from Kasra is the village of Kurtzal. Kurtzal, located north of Tor, is little more than a loading and shipping point for trade. Teehra is a district located southwest of Tor and bordering on the Tahari. Turmas is a Turian outpost and merchant station located at the southeastern edge of the Tahari. It is not to be confused with the Stones of Turmus, another Turian merchant fort.
The city of Tor, along with the Dreaming City of Patashqar, deep in the desert sands, is the wealthy and luxurious city of the desert region. It is famed for its splendours, comforts and pleasures. It is the principal supply point for the oasis communities of the Tahari. Thousands of caravan merchants are headquartered here and much of the city is organised to support their trade. There are always people from many different cities visiting there on business or pleasure. The city has two growing seasons which helps in food production. The greatest heat of the summer is between the Fourth and Sixth passage hands.
The city was constructed in concentric circles, broken by many, narrow crooked streets. The city's water supply is primarily located in the centre of the city. This is the most protected area of Tor. It rarely rains in Tor so water is precious. The water in Tor is slightly salty and unclear. Yet, many homes have well-watered gardens. The city buildings are generally made of mud brick and are covered with coloured plaster. The buildings are rarely more than four stories high. This is due in part to the city's irregular topography as it is located on a hilly, rocky area. The city streets are like deep, walled alleys and in the centre of each street is a gutter to collect waste. The city has a large bazaar, a place of hundreds of small merchant stalls vending a wide variety of wares.
Instead of paga taverns, you will find over fifty cafes in Tor. They serve basically the same functions as paga taverns. An extremely expensive cafe is The Silken Oasis. It is known even as far away as in Ar. In the middle price range are such cafes as the Golden Collar and the Silver Chain. They are both owned by the same man, a Turian named Haran. Some good, inexpensive cafes include the Thong, the Veminium, the Pomegranate, the Red Cages and the Pleasure Garden. The dancers at the Pomegranate are said to be superb. The Café of Six Chains is another café but little is mentioned about it. The Golden Kaiila is known to have gaming tables. Many of the cafes hire children to try to bring people to the cafes. A child will generally receive a copper tarsk for each customer they bring in.
The city police wear white robes with red sashes and scimitars. Thievery is harshly punished. Male thieves will have their right hand severed while female thieves become immediate slaves. These punishments occur even on a first offence. Slavery is a major business like in many cities. The city often buys slaves from caravans and then sells them for a profit to other caravans. In general, they will buy slave-girls for about three silver tarsks. They also pay bounties to their city warriors on women captured from enemy cities. They will customarily pay a silver tarsk for a comely girl in good health. There is also a municipal slaver who will board your own slave girls for copper tarsk a day. You can pay extra for that girl to receive training as well.
The rugs of Tor are very famous and are similar to the oriental rugs of Earth. It can take five girls more than a year to make some of these rugs. The specific patterns are intricate and passed down through families. The patterns are memorised, sometimes by men who are blind. The rugs are made on simple looms and the pile is knotted onto the warp and weft. Some rugs may have up to four hundred knots per square hort. Each of those knots is tied individually by hand by a free woman. Most of the dyes for the rugs are mostly natural dyes such as vegetable dyes, or others from barks, leaves, roots, flowers, and animal products. Rug makers are a subcaste of the cloth makers but they consider themselves a separate caste. The carders, dyers and weavers are all subcastes of the rug makers.
In the Wastes, are numerous oasis communities. Each community numbers from a hundred or so people to thousands of people. They are often located hundreds of pasangs from each other. They depend heavily on caravans to provide many of their needs. Jungle birds are specially prized as pets. These caravans generally travel the western or distant eastern edges of the Tahari. Within the dune country, as the oases are small and infrequent, little but salt caravans will ply that area. The oasis communities also rely on the caravans to bring exports from themselves. The principal exports of the oases are dates and pressed-date bricks. A date palm may grow up to one hundred feet tall. A date palm takes about ten years before it can bear fruit. A palm will annually yield forty to two hundred pounds of fruit. Date bricks are long and rectangular, weighing about four pounds each.
The nomadic tribes of the Tahari desert live hard lives. There is a nearly constant hot wind that blows in the desert but it is welcomed as it makes the desert bearable. The wind usually blows from the north or northwest. The wind is not a problem except in the spring, should it blow from the east, or in the fall, should it blow from the west. But, the nights are cool and may even be chilly. Shelter trenches may be built for protection in the desert. This is a narrow trench, four to five feet deep and eighteen inches wide. It provides shade from the sun and is much cooler as well. A trench is always dug with its long axis perpendicular to the path of the sun for maximum amount and length of shade. The sand surface can reach a temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit on its surface and 140 degrees in the shade. But, only a foot below the surface, the temperature can drop 50 degrees.
Sand storms in the desert seldom really bury anything. The sand is usually blasted away as soon as it is deposited in the desert. Decomposition in the desert also proceeds very slowly. Well preserved bodies have been found that were dead over a hundred years. Skeletons, unless picked by animals, are seldom found in the desert.
The conservation of water is the key to survival in the desert. One generally does not move without water on the sands during the day. One tries to move and sweat as little as possible. Their garments are loose and voluminous yet closely woven. Their outer garments are often white, a colour that will reflect the sun. The looseness of the garments acts as a bellows, circulating air over damp skin, and cooling the body by evaporation. The close weave keeps moisture as much as possible within the garment, condensing it back on the skin
It rains very rarely in the Tahari. Years may pass without rain in some areas. When rain does fall, it is sometimes very fierce and can turn the terrain into a quagmire. Following the rains, great clouds of sand flies awaken and become pests. The nomads will leave water arrows, markers that indicate the direction of water holes, underground cisterns or oases. They also sometimes dig up rocks at night, clean them and leave them so dew can form on them in the morning. They will then lick the dew off in the morning. When water is in short supply, the nomads will not eat. Digestion requires a lot of water. It may take weeks to starve but only two days to die of thirst. Most of the water in the Tahari is unclear and slightly salty. The destruction of a water source is an inconceivable offence, the most heinous crime there is in the Tahari. It will unite the tribesmen and nomads against the offender.
“The circumstances and facts pertaining to your mission are these,” explained Kurgus quietly across the low table. “We have a consignment of advanced weapons hidden somewhere on Gor. You are of Earth, so you possibly have some idea of what these weapons can do if used against primitive armies. If the Priest Kings' weapon laws were no longer enforceable, these weapons could be used to conquer much of Gor within days. There is a problem. We do not know where they have been hidden. For security reasons the location was kept very secret. Several years ago the coordinates of the location were implanted in the head of a free women living in Corcyrus, without her knowing it. She was to be picked up by our agents and taken to a location where the information could be safely retrieved.” Kurgus paused briefly to pour us both a glass of ka-la-na. Unlike Jacinta he had excellent taste when it came to wine.
“Unfortunately for us, various circumstances led to the fall of the puppet regime in Corcyrus. The free woman – the Lady Yasmina by name – fled the city, as did many other women to escape the inevitable fate that befalls your sex after law and order breaks down. Many of our agents were tasked with hunting her down, but she apparently vanished. For years we didn't know what had happened to her. But recently we had a stroke of luck. Lady Jacinta captured an agent of the Priest Kings and as we routinely do, we mined her for information, expecting some simple useful details, but in this case we hit a gold mine. She told us about a slave girl called Erin.
“There are pieces missing from the jigsaw, but what we have been able to work out is that this Lady Yasmina didn't get very far on foot and alone before she was enslaved. Presumably some passing vagabond decided to chance chain luck and stripped her. I expect the wretched girl deserved it. So many of Free Women seem to be natural slaves, it's no wonder they end up in collars. But I'm digressing. Agents of the Priest Kings must have been looking for her too. Maybe they intercepted one of our agents and found out about the hypnotic deep memory sequence. I don't know. But it appears the Priest King agents found a slave-girl called Erin – once the Lady Yasmina. Obviously they decided to ship her to the Sardar as quickly as possible for her mind to be taken apart by the Priest King's machines. Lacking our retrieval code systems, they would take the direct route and turn her into a vegetable to acquire the co-ordinates. Ironic really, as we wouldn't have had to hurt the girl ourselves. So who truly are the bad people in this hidden war? Hmm? But she never reached the Sardar. Fearing we might intercept them en-route by land, the agents sent her part way by sea instead, to avoid our road block traps. By the time she would be back on land we would be looking in the wrong places. But as luck would have it, pirates attacked the ship carrying erin. The Priest Kings lost her.
“Well, the pirates seem to have done us a favour by attacking the ship in question. This in itself was not of much use to us, except that the Priest King agent divulged the name of the ship that was sunk by the pirates. I made enquiries and after a few months discovered the name of the pirate captain who had been operating in those waters at the time. Our contacts with pirates and bandits are a bit better than the contacts the Priest Kings have.” Kurgus smiled as he said that. “To cut a long story short, I discovered that slaves taken in those waters were sold in the markets of the Tahari. Apparently prices for white women in that season in the Tahari were among the best on Gor. Supply and demand and all that.
“Well, from there we spoke to crews when they've docked in central Gorean ports and by written enquiries to the Caste of Slavers we tracked down the history of sales of the girl we think is Erin. We disguised our interest by also enquiring after 20 to 30 other girls, as if this was routine. We think the girl, Erin, currently resides in the city of Patashqar.”
Patashqar is often referred to as the Dreaming City of the Tahari, occupying as it does an important position betwixt the caravan routes favoured by slave traders. It is said it is the major clearing house in the Tahari for slave flesh and that its auction blocks occupy a quarter so large that it has its own standing armies. Dominated by seven great slaver houses, the market is almost a city within the city as the seven Slave Lords seem to rival the Sultan for wealth and power. Actually, in all likelihood their combined wealth exceeds that of the Sultan, and it is only their intense rivalry that prevents them from presenting a force that could threaten the ruler of Patashqar. Even so, the Sultan is careful to keep that rivalry boiling over with a network of spies, agent provocateurs and what we would consider to be terrorist cells, to maintain an ever shifting balance of power in the slave market quarter. It is said that the Sultan simultaneously invests in factional groups opposed to one another so that no one side can ever win. His money it is said even funds groups of plotters opposed to him, on the grounds that if you control the funding of a group dedicated to your own overthrow, you will have a pretty good idea of what they are up to. Whether that is simply paranoia amongst the slaver houses is hard to tell, but I think the Sultan is probably a very clever man.
A girl brought in chains to the markets of Patashqar would be swiftly sold to one of the seven houses. While in theory small independent traders can and do exist in the market place, there is really very little profit in them doing so. Taxes can be high if they are not aligned with one of the seven houses and the running costs for floor space are such that it is usually simply a better idea to sell wholesale to a slave lord than to strive to obtain a better price on the shop floor. Nevertheless the independent dealer in slave girls can often surprise people with choice acquisitions that will fetch premium prices. To this end they often rent an auction block for a day or two days and then depart the city in search of new girls once their initial coffle is dispensed with. One thing is always certain though. If one of the great slave houses makes you an offer for your coffle, you would be a fool to turn them down. It really is a case of an offer you can't refuse.
The Dreaming City reference alludes to the great quantities of narcotics that are consumed by the wealthy inhabitants of the city. With the amount of money that washes through the walled city, the wealthy classes indulge themselves with the finest pleasures at any price. Rich, silky, opium pipes can be bought from the far east, the smoke of which is said to induce the greatest pleasures outside of sex. But it is when combined with sex that heaven is truly reached. The pleasure couches of the great Lords of Patashqar are therefore often accessorised with ornate golden opium pipes as well as the most luscious of powdered and perfumed slave girls chained to their iron rings.
“I intend that you go there, accompanied by Seremides as your Handler, and you obtain the information we need. I have a coded sequence that when spoken will put the girl into an automatic trance and force her, without realising it, to recite the coordinates. But this is how clever we are. For fear of you being captured and the code being tortured from you, the activation code has in turn been subliminally implanted in your head during the subliminal language lessons while you slept. It can only be activated by you asking this erin a very specific question that she will know the answer to. When you hear her correct answer, those words will place you into a subliminal trance during which you will speak the activation trigger to Erin. We believe the plan to be fool proof.”
“How will I find this girl, Erin?” I asked. “The task seems daunting.”
“I hope you will not have to. We have contacts within Patashqar and even now they are tracing the girl for us. For security reasons only Seremides has the names of our contacts, so if you are captured alive, you can not provide those names to our enemies.”
“Oh. And what if Seremides is taken alive?”
“Seremides will never permit himself to be taken alive,” said Kurgus matter of factly.
“Oh-kayyy. So when we reach this desert city we go and see your friends and they tell us where Erin is? Next question. How do I get to speak to her? She's almost certainly going to be someone's property.”
“There are several options. If she runs errands in the souks and markets, you and Seremides simply intercept her. Alternatively you will carry sufficient funds to buy her at a very attractive price if you so wish. Remember, you only need to speak to her for a brief period of time.”
“Are we to rescue her?”
“Don't be ridiculous. Once we have the co-ordinates, she is of no value to us.”
“And then you return home to the rich rewards that you so rightly deserve.” Kurgus smiled in his most enigmatic way possible as he poured some more ka-la-na. “To my beautiful new agent.”
Louise screamed and writhed helplessly, bound, as the First Girl in Kurgus's personal coffle chain brought the slave switch down across the girl's back for the third of five strokes. Louise's hands were tied to an iron ring fixed to a courtyard wall at a height designed to accommodate a kneeling girl. She had been stripped and her hair tied in a thick knot at the top of her head so that her back would be bare. Nearby all the other slaves of the household, both male and female, had been lined up to watch the punishment.
Some might say that in those early days I had undergone a marked change since I had first been brought to Gor many months ago and subjected to the strange alien science of the Kurii machines that had transformed my body into that of a woman. At first I had been shocked by the brutal introduction into the cruel social order of the world of Gor. I had been shocked at my first sight of girls enslaved in the Gorean cities. When I had been served by them I had felt embarrassed and concerned on their behalf. Often I looked away, not wishing to see women in such a plight. But several months later I had slowly become accustomed and numb to the deeply ingrained practice of slavery within Gorean society. It was everywhere I looked and commonplace, so I gradually became desensitised to it. Soon it seemed natural enough to be served by slaves in cafes, and it no longer seemed unusual for a girl to kneel before me in a brief tunic and call me Mistress. I was no longer surprised to see steel collars locked around their throats, proclaiming them to be someone’s property. In much the same way that repeated viewings of extreme horror movies might desensitise someone from celluloid violence, I slowly came to accept the presence of slaves as normal, especially since everyone around me thought that way, to the point where I often didn’t even pay attention to the slaves as they toiled around the estate belonging to Kurgus. I suppose I was desensitised in the same way that back on Earth I was desensitised to the East European and Asian workers who scrubbed and cleaned houses for a minimum wage, while I bought champagne that cost the equivalent of a whole day of their wages. Was I suddenly a bad person? Looking back now after all I've been through, I suppose I was. Perhaps in my defence my new found acceptance of the Gorean status quo was simply the way my mind had acted to allow me to make sense of my new position within Gor. For it could just as easily have been me kneeling in a skimpy slave tunic, collared and whipped, and I dealt with that by embracing the alternative as if to say, I am Free, I was not brought to Gor to be a slave as the other men were.
If I had thought about it more I would have realised that Louise had probably done nothing to warrant the whipping. She had always seemed to me to be an obedient and dutiful girl, and aside from her popularity with the strong, virile men of Gor, I rather liked her. But this afternoon as I watched in the cool shade of the courtyard walls she was being punished for something or other. I don't recall ever enquiring what the girl had done, but whatever it was, the First Girl deemed it worthy of five lashes of the slave switch.
It's true that in my old life on Earth when I was a man I would never have seriously considered the possibility that I might watch a whipping as real as this one. Everything I had seen in the past had been consensual and tame. The sort of spanking you might receive in a fetish club in England is usually quite bearable. This obviously wasn't. On Gor a punishment beating is just that. But that afternoon after dining with Kurgus I idly watched as Louise's wrists were tied to an iron ring, the First Girl stripped her bare and beat her with a switch. It was unthinkable outside of erotic fantasy, and even then in those erotic fantasies I had usually been the one who was stripped and chained and whipped. But those long months of training on Gor had a way of changing my outlook to life. I was no longer the man that I once was. Now, without realising it, I shared some of the common traits of the Gorean Free Woman, including a growing resentment towards slave girls.
Even Louise irritated me sometimes with her sexy little body and the erotic manner in which she moved before men. It was ingrained in her from years of training and serving. The little bitch commanded the room every time she entered it.
It wasn't really her fault I suppose, but I could see she loved the attention she received from the men.
And then of course I recalled how Louise had once embarrassed me when she had entered unannounced to my bed chambers as I lay naked on the tiled floor, the length of couch chain loosely wrapped around one ankle, my thighs spread, my ass slightly raised on a cushion, moaning with pleasure as I stroked between my thighs, teasing my new sex with my slim fingers for I had discovered very early on in my new life the explosive power of the female orgasm. It was amazing, and so very different from the way I had felt as a male. With no possible means by which I could respectfully have sexual intercourse in the villa (it would not do to try and sleep with one of Kurgus's slave girls – homosexuality was uncommon on Gor and that is how the act would be seen as I was now a woman too) I was left to masturbate in private on those long hot summer afternoons, turned on of course by the simple sight of my own gloriously nude body in the mirrors. It was not a respectable image for a Gorean Free Woman to present to a slave. I feared my state of wanton arousal would soon be the subject of quiet amusement in the slave pens belonging to the villa – the slave girls would whisper to one another, “The Mistress is secretly a slut!” They would giggle to hear this intimate secret and the knowledge of my moment of weakness would forever be locked in their eyes when I looked at them. By now my humiliation could possibly be known throughout the pens – the slut of a barbarian girl who writhed in the furs, desperate for the touch of a man.
Or so they believed.
For Gorean women were supposed to be cold, frigid, aloof, and impervious to what Gorean men referred to as ‘slave heat’ – the arousal that led to orgasm. Free Women would have sex, yes, but always calmly and without losing control. The Free Woman Felicia it seemed had no such inhibitions. Free Women of Gor would think that disgusting.
I did not know for sure that Louise had told anyone, but the possibility was there. By the time the First Girl had finished, Louise hung limp from her bound wrists with the full weight of her body. Her back was criss-crossed with stripes from the switch, though in truth the strength of the First Girl's arm was weak, compared to the equivalent strength of a man. Now the First Girl turned to face the remaining slaves - It was important to face them down to ensure the lesson was learnt.
“The girl was beaten for being displeasing,” she remarked. “Let this be a warning to all of you.” The First Girl then threw the switch to the floor and turned to regard Louise's marked body again. I felt strangely ambivalent about the whipping. Louise had probably done something to deserve it after all. From now on I would think of slaves like a Gorean woman. What did it matter to me if some Gorean girls were enslaved? Let them be collared. Let them live their lives in subservience to free men and women. They were after all, effectively aliens as far as I was concerned. I no longer had any great measure of sympathy for them at all. They were all primitive savages living in a primitive culture. They deserved little better.
Some hours had gone by. I now stood in the shade of one of the outbuildings, for the sun was hot today in Corcyrus as I watched two of the male slaves, under the direction of Louise, wash and scrub my street palanquin with stiff bristle brushes and sponges. The men wore simple house tunics of grey rep cloth, sleeveless like the ones the girls wore. Their collars however were heavier, less ornate, as befitting simple work collars for manual labourers. It was true that I watched them with more than casual interest. Their bodies were tanned and deeply muscled. Each man would have been an impressive body builder on Earth, but here their physiques were considered quite ordinary, except for one. “You must be thirsty,” I said from the shade of the overhanging pagoda roof. I had addressed the male slave, Brinn as it happens. I had not sought him out of course. He just happened to be working here at this time of day each day.
“It is hot work, yes, Mistress.” Brinn wiped the sweat from his forehead and regarded me with the sombre gaze of a strong Gorean man forced to labour under the instruction of a woman. Today I wore a soft extremely feminine perfume that made it difficult for Brinn to concentrate on his work. He had not been permitted a woman for nearly two months on my explicit instructions, and that point had soured his mood in the pens. He was acutely aware of women in his deprived state. Even dressed in flowing gowns and robes, with my lower face veiled, my presence here, standing so close by, was enough to stir the blood in Brinn’s veins, I knew. Louise was some distance away now, working on the garden, tending to some vegetable patches, her hands and knees dirty with soil as she weeded around the sul plants. The marks on her back from the whipping would take days to heal, but she was probably thankful that the punishment had been inflicted personally by the First Girl and not, for example, by a man. A man’s strength would have hurt far more. She could hear the conversation quite clearly though from where she knelt amongst the vegetable patches – the Mistress of the house speaking to a male slave – and so she perhaps smiled softly while her face was out of sight. Slaves saw and heard far more than their owners ever realised.
“I could have Louise give you some water,” I said, apparently out of a sense of kindness to Brinn and the other men.
“It is not necessary, Mistress,” replied Brinn, though he was clearly sweating under the heat of the sun’s direct rays. “The girl works in the garden. There is no need to interrupt her on our account. The sul patch must be weeded thoroughly.” Brinn regarded the other slave who worked alongside him on the palanquin and saw that he too nodded silently. Neither of the men seemed particularly interested in receiving any petty, token ‘treat’ from the Mistress of the house. They were after all Gorean men, even if they wore iron collars about their necks, and they did not wish to be beholden to a Free Woman. His eyes were quickly drawn to the sight of my bare wrist as the long flowing sleeves of my gown fell back a little as I raised my arm in a casual gesture. He stared in rapture at the glimpse of perfect honey coloured skin and imagined perhaps what it might be like to tear the woman’s veils from my face and kiss me hard enough to draw blood from my mouth. My body shivered slightly at the thought.
The mind of the Gorean male only flows one way, irrespective of whether he is free or if he wears a collar and chains. I could see him observe me closely as he noticed how my gowns were tightly belted today, offering a tempting glimpse of the shape of my body. Brinn had been a long time without a woman. That fact amused me greatly, for I had by now grown to dislike the superiority of Gorean men towards me. I had little recourse against Free men, but those who found themselves in iron collars, forced to work on the estate, yes those I felt capable of extracting a little revenge from. I knew that when they looked upon my body, heavily robed as it was, they imagined what it would be like to take hold of me, tear away my veils, cut the robes from my body and have me on the grass. Again the thought gave me butterflies in my stomach. Lovely tender butterflies. This of course they would never do though, and so it amused me to remind them at times of what was forbidden.
But Brinn was somehow different. I could see that he was aroused in my presence, but he often seemed reluctant to talk to me, almost as if he was struggling to control his baser instincts. That amused me and made me torment him all the more. “I’m curious, Brinn – what are the circumstances that led to you being enslaved? You’re not Corcyrian by birth are you?”
“No, I am not,” he nodded. “But you probably wouldn’t want me to tell you why I was collared.” He was careful not to smile as he said that. Were there any words more likely to prompt a follow up question from a woman? He didn’t think so.
“Well, I think you can let me be the judge of that. Are you a criminal?” I touched his arm briefly as I asked the question. It was a brief touch, but Brinn no doubt had to resist his primal urge to seize and ravish me in reply. I marvelled at how strong his arm felt. Truly he was a brute. My breath came quick for a moment until I moved my hand away from those muscles. My perfume of course was very feminine and perhaps just a little arousing to a sex starved Gorean man. Like most Gorean men, it was all he could do to control his natural urges.
“Of a sort. I was enslaved for breaking the law.” Brinn shrugged. “It was a risk I chose to take. I do not regret my actions. I only regret being caught.”
“And what was your crime? Are you a thief? A murderer?” Again I touched him in a casual gesture that was maddening for the man concerned and quite surprisingly delightful for me. I could imagine his thoughts. Did I not know what the touch of a woman would do to a man who had been deprived of sex for so long? This was an amusing revenge on Gorean men in general.
“No, I am neither a thief nor a murderer. Oh, I’ve killed a man before now, but it was a fair fight over a point of honour. Hardly murder,” said Brinn.
“Then what was your crime? Tell me.” I said, for I was becoming annoyed with the way the conversation was progressing.
“Do you command it? asked Brinn. “For you may not wish to hear the answer.”
“Yes, I command it,” I snapped, growing tired now of this laboured exchange. “Tell me, or I’ll have you whipped.”
“Then I shall tell you. As you command it.” Brinn was I think hoping I might order him to.
“Yes. As I command it, Brinn.” I touched the handle of the coiled house whip that was clipped to my belt. It was enough to procure a swift answer from Brinn.
“I enslaved a free woman of Corcyrus, which of course is a crime, even though it turns out she was not really from Corcyrus, but a barbarian woman from Earth brought to Gor to pose as a Corcyrian woman. She was pretending to be high caste – a scribe I believe. She was known to me. She was haughty, arrogant at times, but insufferably beautiful. Blonde hair.” He paused as if to remember clearly. “Olive skin like honey, with a build and stature not unlike your own. I suspect the lineaments of your form are more or less the same. I desired her. And also, I thought she would look right in chains.” Brinn smiled at me. “I believe haughty, arrogant, beautiful women should be enslaved. Especially ones from Earth. They are truly gorgeous when stripped and bound to an iron slave ring. And so one night I stole into her room and seized her.” Brinn’s eyes sparkled as he spoke. “It was a simple enough matter. She struggled of course, but I quickly gagged her with some of her own veils. Then, in the privacy of her rooms, I slowly raped her and waited for night to fall. It was several hours before it grew dark, so in the meantime I chained her to the slave ring at the foot of her couch, and from time to time took her again for my pleasure. Only when it was dark and clouds obscured the moons did I carry her out of her house over my shoulder. Her wrists and ankles were tightly bound with leather thongs. An hour later she was in the shop of a metal worker. I paid the man two coppers to brand her and pierce her ears. My mistake was to boast of it in the wrong paga taverns. I was arrested a week later.” Brinn paused. “Is something wrong, Mistress? You seem very quiet.”
I couldn't speak to begin with. “You… dare to speak to me like this!” I was furious as I slapped Brinn across the face. I hit him as hard as I could, but it didn’t seem to bother the man too much. Why would it? I wasn’t very strong after all.
“Mistress did command me to tell her. I did not think it would be a good idea to do so, but I could not disobey a direct command. I might be whipped for it.”
“I should have you whipped!” I stared up at him, enraged. Brinn towered over me, but of course he was just a slave. There was silence for a while. Neither slave nor free woman said anything, until I broke the silence. “The woman was freed of course when she was recovered?”
“No. By the time she was recovered, the damage had been done. I’m afraid I ruined her for freedom.” he grinned. “When the magistrates saw what she had become, how she looked in silks and a collar, they knew she could never be free again. Also there was the matter of her pierced ears.” Brinn regarded me rather boldly for a slave. “If I take a woman I always pierce her ears and only a fool would free a woman with pierced ears.”
It was a saying on Gor. Gorean men consider pierced ears on a girl to be the sign of a true slave, hence no Free Woman would ever dream of having it done to her.
“Get back to your work, Brinn,” I hissed as I turned quickly away.
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