Sunday, 7 May 2017

Mistress of Gor Chapter Seven

Chapter 7: I am alone with Brinn in a stable barn where no one can help me

“There is straw and empty sacking over there,” said Brinn as he slid a locking bolt on the inside of the stable door, securing it in place with a padlock. “Make a bed of sorts with it.”

I was frozen practically motionless with fear. Inside the stable it was gloomy, with light only filtering through a series of arched window openings high up on the walls, far beyond my reach, now that the large double door had been closed. There were a number of empty pens in which common riding Tharlarions might be kept, but this particular stable was now empty. It was, it seemed, more commonly used for storing large crates, of which there were many dozens, and serving as a quiet place for discrete liaisons between slaves.

“You will find slave perfume over there,” added Brinn, pointing to a flat crate perched on top of two small barrels to serve as a makeshift table. There was indeed slave perfume in a stoppered vial no bigger than a plum, along with some slave cosmetics, a bota of paga and a paga bowl. “Use it on your wrists, your neck and between your breasts.”

“Please, please Brinn... think about this... you are making a terrible, terrible mistake.” I backed away as he approached, towering above me.

“Tell me, Lady Felicia, and remember when you answer that if you lie to this or any other question that I ask today, I will beat you as if you were a lying slave-girl; are your breasts as beautiful as your legs?”

“Oh God, help me...” my back pressed against the rough hewn rear wall of the stable, made of upright beams with heavy planks nailed between. “Brinn, you have to understand – I'm a virgin!”

It was true. The Kurii machines had given me a female body that was pure in the sexual sense of the word. My hymen was still intact – a fact that could easily be ascertained in moments by any slaver who might wish to inspect me. A woman's virginity is a precious commodity on Gor, and one that commands a price. Furthermore, it is a sign of purity and desirability in a Free Woman. Potential Free Companions might not wish to take a woman who has already known another man's bed. Such a woman might shame him in some way and make for an undesirable match. It is worth remembering of course that the Gorean male does not necessarily require his Free Companion for sex after all. He has easy access to slave-girls that can satisfy those needs in a far superior fashion than a clumsy Free Woman might. 

“I am not familiar with the word,” said Brinn, for in my panic I had used the Earth word derived from Latin.

“White Silk,” I said quickly, now using the more common Gorean term that he would be familiar with. “I'm white silk!”

“Ah.” Brinn seemed pleased. “Excellent. Now answer my question, and if I feel you have lied, you will be whipped. Are your breasts as beautiful as your legs?”

“Yes,” I sobbed. “Yes, they are.”

“Vain little slut,” said Brinn to my reply.

“No, no, no...” I slapped at his outstretched hands with my own as he reached for my body, but the powerful Gorean slave simply brushed them away. He seized the v-neck of my slave tunic and casually tore it apart, baring my breasts.

“Ah!” He seemed pleased by what he saw. “The vain little slut didn't lie.” He tore the tunic further until it no longer covered my upper body, but rather now served as a mini-skirt. The length of leash chain still dangled from my display collar hanging between my breasts and dragging on the floor by a further length of seven feet or so. The chain was quite long, allowing perhaps for a woman to move about her tethering point in ways that might please a man if he so commanded. Sobbing, I tried to cover my breasts with crossed arms, but he was having none of that.

“Display yourself.” He slapped me once and I was flung back against the far wall, reeling. My arms were pulled down so that they could not interfere with his line of vision.

“Brinn, please! I am frigid. I am not sexually interested in men. You mustn't do this!”

“Quiet. Many Free Women say the same thing until they discover the truth about themselves in the furs. Now perfume yourself, make us some fresh bedding, and then kneel before it with your thighs apart, your back straight, and your hands resting on your thighs, palms turned up to greet me.”

What could I do? Screaming would do no good. Even if someone heard they would ignore it. Brinn had been awarded the morning off, and he had been permitted to choose any one of the girls locked to the punishment bar. I wasn't even sure anyone would hear, as these stables were no longer in use and therefore men rarely came this way. He could easily kill me if I tried to fight back. True, Kurgus would then kill him, and it would be a slow death – probably tortured for many days before being impaled and his body mounted on a spike on the walls as a warning to other slaves.

For all the good that would do me.

As I set about dabbing slave perfume on my body, I tried to rationalise what was happening. Brinn had to realise what he was doing was tantamount to a death sentence from Kurgus, and yet he didn't seem in the least bit concerned. Did he want to die? Was that it? Was this some grizzly suicide where he was going to rape me and then kill himself before Kurgus could claim revenge? And what of me then? Would he kill me too after he had raped me on the rough sack cloth bedding?

It was possible.

I moved my wrist to my nose and inhaled the scent. It was deeply sensual, far more so than any Earth perfume I had ever bought in a department store, and any girl who wore it was virtually begging a man for slave rape. Gorean slave perfumes are an art in themselves and the caste of Perfumers have over centuries created alluring scents designed with one specific thing in mind – to drive a man wild with desire for the girl so perfumed.

I heard, rather than saw, Brinn prepare an ankle chain and anklet that he fixed to an iron ring set on the cement floor close to the straw bales. As I dabbed perfume between my naked breasts, I then heard the chain slithering across the cement floor to where I knelt. Without asking permission, Brinn opened the anklet, took my left ankle and locked the cuff about it. I was now chained to a central ring with insufficient length of chain to reach the stable doors if I tried to run away.

I was chained.

“Please Brinn... I was petty and horrible to you, but I have learnt my lesson now. I promise you, I swear by the Priest Kings that if you let me go, I will not say a word of this to Kurgus. I will not seek any form of revenge. I will forget any of this has taken place. I swear to you by all I hold dear.”

Did I mean that in the heat of the moment?

Probably, yes.

Had Brinn freed me, would I have kept to my word hours later when I was once again robed and veiled and safe?

Probably not.

“You smell good, Lady Felicia. I am already aroused, just looking at you.” He lifted my hair as I knelt there and breathed the scent of the perfume where my hair had fallen softly between my breasts. “Ah, but I have missed the sweet pleasures of women that you denied me for so long.”

“I will buy you, Brinn, and I will have you freed. I swear I will. Whatever Kurgus asks, I will pay it. You will be free and I will give you money to see you on your way.”

“Do you think me stupid, Lady?”

“Please... oh, God, please...” Would nothing I said sway him? Was he really prepared to die to have me for an ahn or so? “What do you want, Brinn? Whatever it is I will see you get it. I have money, I have the ear of Kurgus. Just tell me what you want!”

“I want you to prepare a bed of straw and sack cloth. Do so now.” He slapped my rump and set me scampering towards the bales of straw, with the length of ankle chain slithering along the cement floor behind me.

I tried to take as long as I could to pile straw into a deep bed, and to beat the sacks until the dust and insects had been driven out, but Brinn grew tired of waiting and picked up a whip from a hook on the stable door which he showed me. I then quickly redoubled my efforts and moved at a pace that seemed to be more acceptable. Finally, I had a makeshift bed in place. It was surprisingly soft and comfortable as I tested it with my hands.

“I'm begging you, Brinn.” I dropped to my knees before the straw and sackcloth bed and held out my small hands in a supplicating gesture that Tallia had taught me to if I ever needed to appease a man. “Don't do this. I can't do this. You don't understand. I do not desire men.”

“But this man desires you, Lady Felicia.” Brinn reached down and pulled me up with one hand. The hand curled around my lower back and suddenly pressed me to him. “Do you not comprehend the effect you have on men?”

I struggled, suddenly feeling only too clearly the stiff evidence between his legs, under his tunic, that pressed hard against my left thigh as he held me tightly. Now he gripped my wrists and kissed me.

He kissed me.

I was held inescapably tight, and I was kissed and... my God... my body suddenly quivered. I hadn't felt such a thing before. Without thinking, I lifted myself on the tips of my toes as I felt a sudden rush of pleasure through my body. His mouth left mine, but he now held both my wrists in one of his hands. I must have looked shocked and flushed and shaking because he laughed.

“My frigid Mistress.” His other hand traced a series of narrowing concentric circles around each of my breasts, turning me on in a maddening way that became fierce and overwhelming as he touched my nipples.

This was impossible! 

I couldn't be feeling this way!

What was my body doing?

He threw me down to the sack cloth and straw and casually stripped off his tunic, discarding it. I desperately tried to rise from the bed but was simply pushed back on to the sack cloth. Now he kissed me again, this time lowering himself down onto me, and I moaned softly as I felt the hard iron strength in his body. His hands were suddenly roaming across me, stroking my thighs, between my thighs, around my hips, across my breasts again, where now his tongue licked and tasted me. I was suddenly on fire, writhing and wriggling to his touch, incredulous as to what was happening. Somehow my body was responding passionately to his touch!

“You do not seem very frigid to me, Mistress?” he said with a gruffly spoken laugh. His hand went between my thighs again and touched me even more intimately. Oh God! I had never felt anything like it before! Not as a man, and not even when I had touched myself in the privacy of my bed chambers as a girl.

I suddenly realised I was gripping Brinn with both hands and, horrified at the thought, I let go.

“No! Stop this!”

To my astonishment, Brinn did stop. He lay there in the straw, propped up on one elbow, gazing down at me as I lay on the sack cloth, my body flushed with desire, my breath coming in sharp gasps. His right hand strayed, motionless, between my thighs. He smiled as my thighs instinctively gripped his hand before he pushed them apart again. My thighs were quivering as he gazed down at my face and brushed a finger across my pouting lips.

“I have stopped. See the control you have over me, Lady.”

I moved my left leg and felt the heavy chain locked about my ankle. I was chained like a slave. Just the thought of it made me quiver. What was wrong with me? I had been on Gor for over four months now in this body and I had never felt anything like this before.

“Brinn...” I swallowed hard. “I'm white silk... please don't take that from me...” I could feel how hard his cock was, how big it was, for it rested now between my thighs, pressed hard against my right thigh. It would be easy enough for him to simply take hold of my waist and enter me in a single movement. I knew I was already wet in anticipation of being fucked. The Goreans have vulgar terms for such a thing.They refer to a girl being 'oiled' in anticipation of being taken by a Master. They refer to her 'slave juices'. Whatever. The simple truth was my body was ready for him. My sex was ready for him. I however wasn't ready for him. It was like my mind and my body were two separate entities, except that my body was feeding me pleasure signals to try and overrule my rational thought.

“You would look good in my collar,” said Brinn, gazing down at me. “I have lain with many slaves in my time, but you are truly exceptional. I will savour this.”

“Kurgus will kill you Brinn. I'm very important to him. He needs me. You have to believe me.”

“I do not think so. I rather think my pretty Mistress is just saying that in the hope of scaring me.” Brinn produced a length of binding fibre and set about lashing my crossed wrists together. Then, with the loose end of the binding fibre he looped it around a slave ring that had been screwed into one of the support beams of the stable wall. It was a matter of moments to tighten the length of the bonds so that my arms were stretched now above my body as I lay there in the straw bedding exposed before him.

I remember how different it had felt when Tallia had bound me to a slave ring on my first night in Corcyrus. Then I had simply felt frightened and angry. Those feelings still held true now, but with Brinn binding me I also felt something else – a giddy wave of submission washing through my body. The tensing of my arm muscles as my wrists were so expertly bound seemed to induce a euphoric feeling of pleasure through my body. THIS was how I had always imagined bondage might feel like when I had masturbated to my fantasies as a man back on Earth.

The timbre of my breathing must have changed subtly, for Brinn smiled again, noticing the difference. I wriggled my wrists and moaned exquisitely on the sacking. The effect on Brinn was to make his cock quiver in its stiff arousal. I, it seemed was turned on by bondage at the hands of a strong man. He it seems was turned on by the sight of bondage applied to a woman.

“No, it is true! I swear it! He... ohhhh!” I wriggled again in the straw, crying out as Brinn's hand did something delicious to me again between my thighs. His touch was experienced and teasing. He somehow knew how to drive me to distraction if he chose to do so.

“I'm sorry. Did I distract my cold, frigid Mistress? You were saying?”

“I'm vital to his plans. Absolutely vital.” I drew my legs up slightly in the sack cloth, bending them at the knees to the side of me, clenching my thighs together now that he had paused in his foreplay. “ He needs me to travel to the Tahari in but a few days. He needs me! He will kill you if you do this!”

“I still don't believe you.” Now he stroked my stomach, continuing to tease me intolerably as I lay there bound my eyes fixed on the immense size of that rigid cock that at any moment might be thrust deep inside me. It was unfeasibly big and I felt sure that in my virgin state it would seriously hurt me. Surely it could even tear me? I was afraid of it. But too, I was mesmerised by it. I licked my lips, and then unbidden came dark thoughts of what it might feel like to be fucked by such a huge powerful man with such a big cock, while my hands were crossed and bound above my head, while a chain arrangement was locked about my left ankle, and while a display collar and chain leash hung from my throat. I knew I must be incredibly hot and wet now between my legs. But why hadn't I felt like this with Tallia or Jacinta, both of whom were beautiful women?

“You must believe me, Brinn, you must!”

“You are just grasping at words. The words mean nothing.”

“No! I'm not making this up. I have to find an enslaved girl called Erin in Patashqar. She was a former Free Woman and she has a set of co-ordinates that Kurgus needs to locate a vital stockpile of weapons on Gor. She is extremely important to Kurgus, and so he will be furious with you if you harm his Agent. It is true!”

“Splendid.” Brinn took my chin in his right hand and tilted my head so that I would hold his gaze. “That is interesting indeed.”

“Interesting?” I must have looked confused.

“Indeed. That is precisely the sort of information I was sent here to discover.”

“What?” I stared at him with the growing sense that in my terror and panic I had said something very rash indeed.

“I serve Priest Kings,” he explained. “In a sense you, and especially Kurgus, are my enemies. We know he has plans that will affect the delicate balance of power on Gor, but we only know of them in the vaguest possible terms.”

“You're a slave! You're just a work slave!”

“My mission required me to pose as a recently enslaved criminal. I was placed within a consignment of work slaves destined for Kurgus's farm lands. I was to watch and listen, which I have been doing for months now. Kurgus and his men however have been quite discrete in that time. You, dear Lady Felicia were anything but discrete when you met the Lady Jacinta to attend the theatre. What you said about going to the Tahari soon interested me. I needed to know more. Information freely given in a moment of confusion and stress is always so much more reliable than information extracted through torture. Something Kurgus thankfully doesn't understand.”

“No...” I had just told him precisely who we were looking for and where she might be found. Some Agent I was! “But... you would never be able to escape with this information. No one can possibly rescue you. There are too many armed men in residence. It would take an army.”

“Escape itself is relatively easy when you're working in the fields with only one overseer for each coffle of 4 men. I simply kill the overseer and make my escape. Do not doubt how talented I am when it comes to killing. I am of the warriors.” He kissed me on the lips, tasting me with his teeth and tongue. My body loved it. My mind however was enraged. “The difficulty of course is not in the initial escape, but rather in the subsequent pursuit by armed men with hunting sleen. All male slaves know that even if they ran, they would be hunted down by trained sleen within an ahn or two. Other male slaves however do not have my advantage.”

“Which is?” I pulled at the binding fibre on my crossed wrists, feeling no give in the bonds.

“I have two armed associates who await my escape. They are at a pre-arranged location in a small wood, approximately two pasangs from here. I will have enough time to run that far before the sleen can be prepared. The men have tethered tarns waiting in place. We will be in the air long before Kurgus's men can reach me.”

“I have been stupid...” I sobbed.

“Yes, you have been stupid, pretty little agent of the Kurii.”

“What... what are you going to do with me...” I gazed up at him, realising that none of this would necessarily save me from rape now.

“Ah, now that is a question indeed, my lovely little slut. It is true that I have not had a woman for over two months.”

“Please... you have valuable information. You should escape now. Any further delay and you run additional risks.”

“That is true.” Brinn began stroking and touching me again. He had noticed previously the most erogenous areas of my body based on my trembling reactions. Now he was applying himself to them with interest. “For your information, you are far from frigid to a man's touch. Indeed, for an untrained woman you display marvellous responses.”

“Please, Brinn... you don't have time! Think of your mission!”

He seemed frustrated as he considered this. “You are right. I could have you quickly now, but I wish to savour you, to take my time, to teach you how to pleasure a man in the furs. But the information I have from you must be relayed quickly if we are to await your arrival in Patashqar.”

“What?! Are you mad? There's no way I'm going to Patashqar now! The mission has been compromised I've been compromised!”

“Oh? So you are going to tell Kurgus the truth about me, and how you foolishly divulged the secrets of your mission while you lay, chained enticingly on a straw bed, quivering to my touch? I wonder how he is likely to react...”

“Oh God. Kurgus would enslave me...”

“If he didn't torture and kill you. He is not a forgiving man.” Brinn pushed my thighs wide apart and placed his fingers within my sex. I moaned, arching my back in the sack cloth as he pleasured me. “No, I think you understand how much you stand to lose if you tell Kurgus about any of this. And so your mission will proceed as planned. I would like to take you with me today, but I fear the burden of your bound body, slung over my shoulder, would slow me down. It is not a risk I can take. So, when you arrive at the desert city of Patashqar, I will be waiting for you instead, pretty agent of the Kurii. There in the city of Patashqar I will enslave you, and then I will enjoy you at my leisure. Until then you can delight in your last few weeks of freedom. Guard those moments well, for soon in Patashqar they will be taken from you.”

Like Hell they will, I thought to myself as I watched Brinn rise from the sackcloth bed and walk to the other side of the barn where, strangely, he set about lighting a lantern and gathering together some parchment, a marking stick and a tape measure. Forewarned was forearmed as the saying goes, and if Brinn thought I'd be walking naively around Patashqar without taking every sensible precaution now that I knew he'd be watching out for me, then he must be the stupidest man on Gor.

I lay on the straw bed and glared at him. I suppose he was feeling quite smug now, having elicited all manner of responses from my body. I pulled again at my wrist bindings which continued to resist any effort I made. Damn him. Damn all men of Gor! I felt wretched, with my body still tingling, somehow frustrated at having been brought to a position of heat and then left to simmer and cool down. Why had my body betrayed me like this? I didn't understand. There had been nothing of the sort when Tallia had bound me.

Brinn had a an oil lamp lit now and he was making marks on the piece of parchment. He glanced over at me and smiled, seeing my voluptuous curves quite clearly in the early morning light that shone down now through the high arched windows on the opposite side of the stable walls. I turned my face away with a soft clink of neck chain, so as not to receive his gaze.

I hated him.

I hated him!

He had no right to do such things to me! I was not a Gorean slave-girl. I was Free by all the customs and laws of Gor.

I hated him!

“What are you doing?” I heard him approach with the paper, the marking stick and the measuring tape. Brinn didn't answer me. “I suppose you should consider leaving soon if you plan on making your escape. It will be easier before you are expected to report back to the Overseer for the afternoon work detail.” I hoped his escape would be bungled. I hoped that his armed compatriots were no longer waiting for him with saddled tarns, ready to mount and fly away at a moment's notice. I hoped Kurgus would release his hunting sleen quickly and track Brinn down before he even managed to run the length of a single pasang.

Brinn set the oil lamp down in the corner of the stable beside the makeshift bed of straw and sack cloth and with the parchment and marking stick began to make notes, his eyes flicking from me to the paper and back again.

“Kurgus will no doubt come for me very soon,” I said, feeling a little more confident now that I knew I was in no imminent threat of either rape or being killed. So he thought he would enslave me in Patashqar, did he? Overconfidence would be his downfall. “You had better untie me, unlock my ankle chain and return me to the punishment bar where Lana and Sally no doubt await. I am a fair woman. I will give you some time to make good your escape before the alarm is raised.”

Brinn continued to ignore me. He now, taking the measuring tape, began to measure certain aspects of my body, paying no heed to my protests as he turned me onto my left said and then my right. Some of his measurements were of a very intimate nature and I had to grit my teeth and ignore his probing fingers. The series of measurements recorded such data as the width and length of my fingers and toes, the width of my heels, the short distance between my nostrils, my height, the circumference of my head, the circumference of my throat, wrists and ankles, and so on.

“What are you doing?” I asked again.

“Recording your measurements before I take my leave.” Brinn had found some ink too and working carefully he recorded prints of my fingers and toes on the parchment. “They will ultimately be recorded on your official slave papers.”

“You presume too much, Brinn,” I hissed. “There is a saying on Earth – don't count your chickens until they're hatched. It won't be a simple matter to enslave me in Patashqar. You can't exactly walk up to me in the street and take me in broad daylight!”

“Actually, that is precisely what I do plan on doing.” Brinn smiled. “Your eyes are quite lovely when you are angry, Felice.”

“Are you insane? There are laws in Patashqar, like there are anywhere else. I need only call for guards and you will be arrested for making the attempt.”

“Hardly, for l will arrive in Patashqar ahead of you by several days I think. Formal slave papers of ownership will be filed on you with the central authorities. You will be recorded in great detail as a slave-girl. I will then report you as a runaway, one suspected of stealing the clothes of a Free Woman. My accusations will have to be verified in front of a magistrate of course, but the detailed records of your body, when compared with your actual body, will prove the matter conclusive to my satisfaction. You will then simply be awarded to me by the very guardsmen you sought to call.”

“No!” I stared at him in horror.

“Oh... poor Felice... did you perhaps harbour the foolish belief that you would escape my eventual collar?” Brinn laughed. “In Patashqar I WILL find you. And in Patashqar you WILL be handed over to me once I declare my case. Runaway slave-girls are not afforded the protection of city law.”

The noon day sun was high in the sky as I knelt again, chained by the collar to the punishment bar in the quiet courtyard close to the five girl cages. As before I was positioned to the left of Lana and Sally in order of height, and as before I was dressed in a fresh, clean slave tunic. What differed this time was the fact that my wrists were braceleted tightly behind my back, and a slave gag had been forced into my mouth. I could not speak, perhaps to cry out and alert men to Brinn's impending escape, nor could I remove the gag with my chained hands. I knelt there counting the ehn until someone might free me.

Thirty to fifty ehn had passed by my reckoning before someone did.

“Good morning, Felice. I see you acquired a blanket during the night.” Kurgus had risen rather later than he typically did. An exquisite brunette with skin like honey had been chained to the slave ring at the foot of his bed and he had chosen to linger for a time, satisfying himself before discarding the girl on the tiled floor. He had also taken his time over breakfast, ordering a second plate of smoked tarsk strips and several cups of fine black wine. He had decided that this morning he would not be in a hurry to begin work. Instead he gazed out of the bay windows overlooking the courtyard where the sleen pens were housed, and sipped a cup of steaming black wine, deep in thought. He barely noticed the line of five small punishment cages opposite the sleen pens. From time to time slave girls would be locked inside if they hadn’t been perfectly pleasing during the day. It was a common practice within the villa and farm grounds. By the time Kurgus felt suitably refreshed and ready to stroll around the grounds, the sun had risen to greet the ninth ahn of the day. He had, towards the end of his walk around the sleen farm, paused to inspect the punishment bar that was fixed to the far wall of the courtyard. Two slave-girls knelt in the position of pleasure slaves, heads bowed, as he approached. They would no doubt strive to work harder this day. Kurgus ignored them. He was only interested in his lovely agent from Earth. After admiring my bare thighs for a moment, he removed my gag and watched as I coughed and spat saliva onto the ground. 

“Good morning, Kurgus.” I crouched before him, my mouth feeling very dry. He had no doubt seen the procured blanket in my cage and the lack of one in Lana's cage. “As you know, I am a resourceful woman. The blanket was relatively easy to obtain.” I had decided to remain calm when Kurgus returned, and not to give him any indication that I may have fatally betrayed his plans to a resourceful agent of the Priest Kings who was now in the process of escaping. “I take it you have no objections?” I regarded him curiously.

“Of course not. You are free, Felice. Slaves on this farm are expected to serve and obey you perfectly at all times.” Kurgus smiled. “Did you sleep well?”

“No. The cage was cramped, the sleen were noisy and the night was cold. I think I will prefer a soft bed in future.” I crawled forward on my knees and indicated my braceleted wrists behind my back. Kurgus smiled and obligingly freed my hands. “Also, the breakfast arrangements leave much to be desired.” Now was not the time to remonstrate about being forced to eat a bowl of gruel.

“You do amuse me, Felice. I would hate you to lose your delicious sense of humour.”

“In that case I will try my best not to.”

“Hmm. I imagine you have a busy day ahead of you? Tell me something I would like to hear.”

“I am keen to recommence my studies under the tutelage of your Panther Girl, Tallia, Kurgus. I have much to learn before I further your plans.”

“Good.” Kurgus smiled. “Today I am pleased.”

“Thank you.” I shifted position again and placed my fingers on the display collar and chain that I wore and looked up at him as a prompt. I noticed Lana and Sally were both ashen white and very quiet. The Mistress it seemed was not going to be enslaved. This didn' bod well for either of them. “You chose well when you chose me.”

“I would like to think so, Felice. Well, you can hardly spend the day being idle when you have studies to attend to, can you?”

“The very same thought had occurred to me, Kurgus. We seem to be of a like mind on the matter.”

Kurgus produced a key that he inserted into the lock on my collar. With a snap click, the mechanism was released and the hated chain was lifted away from my throat. “I will arrange an escort back to your rooms, where you may dress with Louise's help. I very much look forward to hearing good things about your studies in the next report from Tallia.” He helped me to stand, offering his hand for support. “Some women would have been hysterical. Some women would have raged and screamed. It does you credit that you did not.” Kurgus kissed the back of my hand lightly as I resisted saying what I really felt about being locked in a cage for a night and left to the cruel ministration of his overseer. Now was not the time. Instead I smiled and permitted him to kiss my hand. “As I said, Kurgus, you chose well.”

But the Salt Mines of Klima would freeze over before I would ever forget the indignity he had inflicted on me last night.  

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