Sunday, 7 May 2017

Mistress of Gor Chapter Twelve

Chapter 12: We arrive at the gates of Patashqar and deliver the Lady Sakkara to her Free Companion to be

The great gates of Patashqar stand as tall as twelve men and broad enough for eight kaiila riders to pass through in line abreast. It is said that 1,001 spear points guard the gates and that there are only two ways in which a woman may pass through into the city: firstly if she is a collared slave and secondly if she is with a man who is licensed and recorded on the city records as her keeper. In other words, a free woman may not enter Patashqar unaccompanied. This is in part to do with the nature of Patashqar’s main area of business – the slave trade in the Tahari. Seremides tells me that the custom protects Free Women from falling foul of the many slavers who operate within the burgeoning market quarter. The word quarter incidentally should not be taken to infer that it occupies geographically 25% of the city area. It is simply a descriptive term to denote a section of the city and in actual fact occupies over half of the streets within the walls. The slave pens themselves are enormous labyrinths with internal walls guarded in the same manner as the outer walls. Essentially each Pasha of the seven great slaver houses owns his own fortification within the city. All such fortifications pale in insignificance though in comparison to the Sultan’s palace that is built on a central mount overlooking the rest of the city. Access to this palace is via a paved road that winds up a steep incline. Along the way are watch towers holding archers capable of firing down on any force attempting to assault the palace mount. The seven Pashas of the great slaver houses may dream of usurping the rule of the Sultan of Patashqar, but while they remain divided it is nothing more than an impossible pipe dream.

Sakkara and I were conducted in the kurdah through the outer gate into a wide inner courtyard where our identities as strangers to the city would be established. Seremides presented his paperwork which was duly noted and stamped by a receiving officer of the Sultan’s bureaucracy. Free men incidentally have no problem in entering Patashqar, though if they are not native to the city their movements are said to be watched in detail. The Sultan, as I’ve noted before, is said to employ an army of spies and informers around the city. Some men say 1 in every 10 people within the city takes coin from the Sultan whether they know it or not. This makes Patashqar the most paranoid and surveillance orientated city on Gor.

Sakkara and I were instructed to leave the Kurdah so that our identities too could be recorded. I felt very uncomfortable stepping out into the inner courtyard dressed only in the revealing ta-teera garment. Within moments I was the centre of attention for here was a woman sporting no collar who was dressed in the garb of a slave girl. Sakkara standing beside me had no problem conforming to the traditional garb of the Free Woman of the cylinders of Gor, but questions were directed at Seremides as to my status.

"She is free,” he said, as an officer of the court returned to him his papers.

"We will of course have to make a determination of that ourselves,” said a court official who stood beside the wooden immigration desk. I realised with dismay that he intended to check my body for any sign of a brand.

"Seremides!” I said, turning to him for help, but he simply shrugged as if to say, ‘I can do nothing.’ Rough hands ignored my protests as they pulled my garment up over my hips to expose the most common slave brand areas. Such treatment of a free woman would not have been permitted in most cities of Gor, but in Patashqar the rules were somewhat different. I suppose they assumed that if a Free Woman was insolent enough to wear the revealing garb of a ta-teera, then they lost all rights to dignity when it came to verifying that they were indeed free. The same hands gripped my hair and turned me about, bending me over so that other less common areas of my body could be checked in turn.

"I verify she is not branded,” remarked the man to the court clerk who was seated at the desk. He wrote something on a ledger record as the assistant pulled the fabric of my garment down around my thighs again. My eyes flashed in anger as I smoothed the fabric myself.

The man had examined me thoroughly and without hesitation. His hands had lingered for a moment on my thighs as, holding me then, he had gazed into my eyes with a piercing gaze. I have found that men of Gor look directly at women without any sense of awkwardness. A man of Earth (and I count myself as having been one once, so this applied to me) would feel guilty if a woman caught him in the act of staring at her. An Earth man who had been spotted gazing at a woman’s breasts or legs or shapely bottom would quickly look away and try to pretend it was an accident. Not so a man of Gor. When I was looked on in that way I soon found myself out stared. It was I who felt embarrassed and quickly looked away while the Gorean man continued to feast his eyes on the curves and long limbs of my body. Then if I glanced up again it would only be to meet his gaze once more, he having not looked away at all. It was a deeply unsettling feeling knowing that men would watch you without any shame whatsoever.

"You wish to license these two females for entry into the city?” asked the man of Seremides.

"Yes, I do.”

He had referred to us as ‘females’ which emphasised our lack of status within his culture. Sakkara seemed not to notice the slight, but then she was probably counting the hours until she was united with her new family in law. Two licenses were drawn up and stamped. For these Seremides paid the cost of two tarsk bits from his funds. I understood that the licence confirmed my status as a free woman. From time to time I might be stopped in the streets by the Sultan's sprawling spy network and ordered to present my papers. Without them I had no legal status within the city and as a presumably unlicensed female could be taken to the pens. The catch was I did not get to hold my license. It was the property of a man – my keeper – in this case Seremides. For no Free Woman not born to the home stone of Patashqar can enter Patashqar unlicensed, and licenses are only granted in respect of free women to men.

"I hold your license,” said Seremides as he showed me the paper.

"How very nice for you,” I said. My calves were stained with dust and I felt a growing sense of irritation with the way I was being treated. “I need a bath, I need clothes, and I need something to eat.”

"All in good time, Lady Felicia.”

The clerk seated at the table now presented Seremides with a pair of metal tags. These he clipped on to slim hinged anklets. “Extend your left ankles, Ladies,” said Seremides pleasantly. Fuming, I did so, and had one of the anklets locked about it. The tag bore the number of my license. During the day of course it would be concealed beneath the robes and gowns of a free woman, but if necessary any guardsman of Patashqar could insist I lifted my skirts just high enough to display the locked anklet. A verification of my number could then be made against the corresponding number on the license. In this way it was not possible for example for one woman to enter Patashqar and another leave, even if the paperwork was stolen. I was not given the key to the anklet of course. It would be removed only when I left the city.

"You are number 8793, Lady Felicia. And Sakkara, you are 1935.” The numbers it seems were drawn at random.

"I must find my Free Companion to be,” said Lady Sakkara as she lowered the hem of her gown to conceal the anklet. “He will give you your silver for my safe arrival, and I will begin my new life in his caring arms.”

"We shall send word to his house and I shall escort you there, after which you may bathe, relax and enjoy a decent meal. I myself have business elsewhere in the city after that, as does the resourceful Lady Felicia.”

"I will need to bathe, eat and obtain some clothes before we meet with our contacts in the city,” I said quickly. That much was surely evident.

"But Lady Felicia, we can eat when we meet our contact here in Patashqar. A bath can wait – it is a trivial diversion compared to the importance of our work. And you are already clothed…”

"In a ta-teera,” I said angrily as I pulled at the hemline to tug it down once more. The stupid thing had a habit of working its way up my thighs when I walked, as no doubt it was supposed to do.

"It is a very pretty ta-teera. It shows off your body to a delightful effect.”

"Which I don’t want it to do. I am not going to meet our local contact dressed like this. How am I supposed to command any authority as Kurgus’s agent if I stand before him in a ta-teera?”

"Are you saying you have no natural air of authority or leadership, and that it is only a set of clothes that makes you a leader?”

"No, of course not…”

"Then you are essentially a resourceful woman with the necessary skills and fortitude to lead men in this endeavour, irrespective of any particular fashion?”

"Yes, but…”

"Then I do not see how you will be disadvantaged by wearing a ta-teera for a few more hours. Come, we are wasting time.” Seremides clicked his fingers and pointed to the back of his heel.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I said angrily.

"It is an instruction for you to follow me. We are going to deliver the Lady Sakkara to Milo Assante.”

"You’re telling me to heel you!”

"If you like, yes.”

"How dare you! I’m a Free Woman. I’m not your slave! Further more, I’m in charge here.” I stamped my foot and stared Seremides down.

"Lady Felicia is very pretty when she is angry. But she should not try the patience of a Gorean man too far. Come. It is my job to facilitate your mission in this city. We are wasting time.”

"And I’m not going there until I have a change of clothes! We will shop in the market place for something to wear.”

"Let me make something clear, Lady Felicia. We leave now. You either follow me, keeping a respectful tongue in your mouth, or I will put you on the ground, strip you, bind you, and carry you head down over my shoulder to our rendezvous. Which do you prefer?”

"You wouldn’t dare! This isn’t the middle of the desert now.”

"You are a licensed female in my care. I can and will do that. Do you wish to test me?”

He would. I knew he would. I closed my eyes and held back the rage that would have exploded in a torrent of swear words which in turn would have seen me face down on the ground with Seremides tearing the ta-teera from my body and binding my wrists and ankles together. I could not win. He would do such a thing to me. And no one here would intervene.

"Very well. Very well.”

"You will heel me to the house of Milo Assante and then to the house of our contact?”

"Yes.” I snapped at him in a foul mood.

"You will not moan, complain or act petulantly on the way, as is your more usual habit?”

"No, I will not.”

"Good. So then, if you will both follow me.”

"That is he: Milo Assante,” said Sakkara with relief and excitement as she squeezed my arm. “My Free Companion to be. Isn’t he handsome?” She looked to me for confirmation, seeming to want my approval for her High Caste arranged companionship. I glanced at the man as she walked confidently into the arboreal cloister. He wore the usual Gorean tunic and sandals and like most men of the city who were not of the warriors, he was unarmed. I noticed a distinct absence of the exaggerated physique from his portrait painting, but at least he wasn't ugly. Close behind though were two other men, probably retired Guardsmen, who wore scimitars at their belts. They regarded Milo with the air of experienced bodyguards, checking out the cloister for any sign of potential trouble. When they saw Seremides apparently alone, except for Sakkara and myself, they relaxed.

Milo was, I suppose, good looking. He was strong, broad shouldered, with a good chin and cheekbones and a shaggy head of hair that would appeal to women such as Sakkara. It was hard to tell for sure, because it had never been completely obvious to me what women looked for in men, physically speaking. I had on Earth seen some men that I considered to be quite plain looking, surrounded by women who claimed he was attractive.

"I am sure you will be very happy,” I said as the men approached. Seremides would undoubtedly make a handsome profit now, having brought Milo’s betrothed safely to the gates of Patashqar. The man was, by all accounts, wealthy and of important standing within the city.

"Milo, it is I, Sakkara of Kadesh.” She made to take a step forward, but Seremides’s left hand held her back for the moment. She turned to regard him petulantly and, now that her beloved was close to hand, shook her wrist to free herself. “Release me!” she demanded, glancing round to see the reaction of her Companion to be. Milo sniffed, not pleased with the sight of his woman being handled in such a manner. But Seremides did not release Sakkara’s right wrist. “I said, unhand me!” snapped Sakkara, now feeling a lot braver than she had been in the desert when we had both been at the mercy of Seremides’s moods. For a moment I thought Seremides was about to cuff Sakkara, but with obvious difficulty, he reined himself in, preferring not to force Milo into a confrontation when money was at stake. With a shrug, Seremides released her wrist and regarded Milo who stood there still frowning.

"Good! You hurt my wrist!” Sakkara rubbed her skin around her wrist, and took a step away from Seremides. “Do not dare to touch me again. Be thankful I don’t instruct my Free Companion to be to have his men beat you. You would deserve nothing less.”

Yes, now that her suitor was here with privately employed guardsmen at his beck and call, I could see that Sakkara was once again the haughty free woman from the caravan trip. It is interesting to see how rude some Gorean women can be when they are protected by the laws of their Homestone and they have armed men to intervene should someone object to their behaviour. I suspect she would have liked to have had Milo’s men beat Seremides, but knew full well that they would only do so if Seremides attempted to hurt her, or through some form of insolence, insult Milo’s honour. Provided he did neither, I did not think Milo would take action against Seremides. For one thing, Seremides today wore scarlet, and on Gor that was a clear sign he was of the warriors and would according to his codes, defend himself the moment steel was drawn. The codes of the warriors are such that they are practically obliged to kill a man who offers a challenge.

"Lady Sakkara, I rejoice and praise the Priest Kings for your safe delivery to the city of Patashqar.” Milo offered a warm smile as he approached our small group with his arms outstretched in the universal sign of affection. Sakkara clasped her hands together in joy and rushed forward in a rustle of skirts to be embraced. It was quite a daring move for a Gorean woman, and one that startled Milo a little as he had not expected such a public show of affection. Milo of course had no idea what had happened to Sakkara in the Oasis, and couldn’t conjecture how her ordeal had affected her.

"Milo, Milo… it has been horrible, truly horrible…” she placed her veiled face to his left shoulder where she settled for a moment until Milo, no doubt feeling a little self conscious that his Free Companion to be was expressing such emotions in public, pushed her gently away from him.

"My dearest Sakkara, you are safe now. Patashqar is your home and no harm will come to you so long as we are together.”

There was a brief cough from Seremides, meant to gain the attention of Milo and his men, as well it did.

"Yes?” Milo looked up with a growing sign of irritation at the warrior in the faded and worn scarlet.

"Touching as this moment is,” remarked Seremides, “there is the important matter of a settling of accounts before the Lady Sakkara can depart for her new life in your care.”

"Accounts? What are you talking about?” A signal from Milo made both his guards approach closer. Their hands it was plain to see rested on the hilts of their blades. Seremides obviously saw this but gave no sign it was of any importance.

"Simply put, the Lady Sakkara owes her life and freedom to me. When the caravan was attacked she begged for aid. Under the codes of the warriors I gave her such aid as she desired. You understand the codes of the warriors, yes?”

Milo nodded. What Seremides was alluding to was the curious Gorean concept that stated that if a woman owed her life to a warrior who had saved her, then she did in fact owe her life to him, and she was essentially now his. Or in other words, unlike the Earth concept of chivalry, if a Gorean warrior saved a woman, he was within the rights of his codes to keep her for himself. But in this case it was patently obvious that Sakkara had not been enslaved. She remained a free woman in her gowns, veils and robes, even to her slippered feet. If only I had been accorded the same courtesy. Throughout this encounter I was only too aware how the guardsmen were staring at my legs, my bare arms, the swell of my breasts revealed in the deeply slashed v-neck of the scandalous ta-teera garment, my bare throat, and of course my unveiled face. Even Milo had been gazing at me in a way that probably angered Sakkara. So long as I was clad like this, I would be the object of interest of every man I passed. It was a strange feeling to know that every man who set his eyes on me wanted to throw me to the sand and rape me. Back on Earth when I dressed provocatively as a woman I did so knowing all the power was in my hands, and that I could easily spurn any man who approached me, while still enjoying the power I possessed over them. Here on Gor it was so very different, and my beauty was my own worst enemy. Here on Gor I had no power, and I could be taken at any time by anyone, unless a man like Seremides was close at hand to protect me. But it was Seremides who had dressed me like this! I hated him. I hated the way he had done this to me to remind me how reliant I was on him.

"You wish coin?” said Milo eventually.

Seremides nodded. “The woman is yours for two silver Tarsks. Such is the fee for my sword these past few days.” It was a significant sum of money but I suppose bearing in mind the High Caste position of Sakkara, and her value to her Free Companion to be, it was not an unrealistic price. Considering Sakkara would have been lost forever if the bandits had taken her, Milo would no doubt consider two silver Tarsks a small sum to pay for the safe return of his beloved.

"My dear,” he said to Sakkara as he held her hands and gazed down into her eyes. “Simply pay the warrior out of your dowry, and then we shall return to my town house where you may bathe, relax and tonight dine on the finest victuals Patashqar has to offer.”

"Oh Milo, would that I could, but my dowry was lost when the caravan was attacked and plundered. I barely escaped with just the clothes upon my body. But I am safe now, and my love for you is stronger than ever before.” She squeezed Milo’s fingers and smiled beneath her veil.

"Your dowry is… lost?” Milo stiffened and suddenly released Sakkara’s small fingers.

"Yes, I mean… the bandits… they took everything…”

"That is… unfortunate.” Milo took a step back and reflected on the matter.

"Please Milo, pay Seremides and we can be away from here. I long to bathe and wash the dust from my clothes. Your slaves can prepare a fine feast for tonight, for I have eaten poorly these last few days and…”

Milo signalled Sakkara to silence with a wave of his hand. “I am sorry my dear, but this changes matters considerably. The love I bear for you is immense, but it would not do to accept your hand in Free Companionship without the dowry of 150 pieces of freshly minted Kadeshian silver. People would look at the house of Milo and say, 'poor Milo has entered into a contract with a woman who cannot even afford her own companionship veils'. Love is indeed love, but there are matters of principle that cannot be ignored.”

"What are you saying, Milo? Please, do not joke like this.”

"I am sorry, dearest Sakkara, but I cannot possibly enter into Free Companionship in the absence of your dowry. May I suggest you send word to your father and ask for fresh funds to be sent under secure guard to Patashqar? I will then be honoured and proud to take your hand as before.”

"No! Milo! No! Please, no!” But Milo had now turned his back and signalled to his guardsmen to withdraw.

"You are not prepared to pay the two silver Tarsks for the female?” enquired Seremides.

"No,” said Milo, without turning around. “To do so would set a poor precedent for my House.”

"What then do you expect she will do?” asked Seremides.

"That is not really my concern. This was an arranged companionship between High Castes for diplomatic and financial benefits. Let her return with a dowry or not at all.”

"No!” Sakkara ran forward and touched Milo’s arms, but one of the guardsmen quickly intervened to pull her away. Without saying a word, the man dragged her back towards Seremides.

"She is yours according to the codes,” said the Guardsman. Seremides nodded and looked at Sakkara.

"You understand, Lady Sakkara, that in the absence of consideration from Milo of Patashqar, you are mine according to the codes of the Warriors?”

"No, please, no!” Sakkara struggled in the grip of the guardsman and turned frantically to see Milo’s retreating form. “I am a Lady of Kadesh! I am High Caste! I demand to be returned to Kadesh!”

"Be quiet.” said Seremides abruptly as he seized Sakkara by the hair with his left hand and, with his right, ripped the veil from her face. I raised my hand to my mouth in horror knowing what this meant for her. Sakkara had been face stripped in a public cloister in a Gorean city. Too, I understood how inflexible the codes of the warrior could be. Sakkara was his by right of the fact he had saved her life. While there was the possibility of a rescue price higher than that she would provide on an auction block, Seremides was content enough to allow Sakkara her freedom, but with no further hope of a fee from Milo of Patashqar, Seremides was left with only one way to make money from the haughty free woman.

"Seremides,” I began, but a burning glare from him swiftly ended any protest I might make.

As Sakkara screamed, Seremides pulled a desert knife from his belt and slashed deeply down the fabric of her gowns, splitting the fabric to the waist. Roughly now he tore the gowns apart around her hips and then pushing her on to her back, pulled the rent strips away from her legs. She howled and sobbed as she lay there on he courtyard tiles, naked save for her slippers. These two were pulled from her body and, as an after thought, thrown towards me. Quickly I ran forward and scooped them up before Seremides might change his mind. I had shoes now! It was a small thing but important. I dropped to my knees and began searching amongst the torn, slashed fabrics in the hope of salvaging some intact length of cloth to cover myself in place of the ta-teera, but Seremides was not about to permit that.

"Lady Felicia, leave the fabrics where they are.” I stopped as ordered and backed away, though not before I had seen that the gowns could be repaired with needle and thread. My eyes implored him to change his mind but I knew that Gorean men seldom did so when it concerned women.

Sakkara was turned over on to her belly and drawing her wrists back, Seremides locked them in slave bracelets. She continued to cry and shake her head desperately as Seremides then tied a leash about her neck. She had not yet been collared, nor was she branded, but no one in the courtyard was left in any doubt what her eventual fate might be.

"I should get half a dozen copper Tarsks for you in one of the slave markets,” said Seremides as he pulled Sakkara up on to her knees. “Poor recompense for risking my life these past few days, but a wise man knows when to cut his losses.”

"I’ll buy her!” I said. Everyone in the courtyard had now turned to regard me. Milo in particular was enjoying the sight of a girl in a skimpy ta-teera acting like a Free Woman might.

"You want to buy the Lady Sakkara?” Seremides was as amused as the rest of the men. “With what exactly?”

"You would take two silvers from Milo of Patashqar. I will match that price.”

"Again, I say, with what. You have no funds, Lady Felicia. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you possess nothing but the garment and slippers you now wear.” There was mocking laughter from the other men as they regarded my slave-like state of dress.

"Pretty slave,” sneered Milo as he paused in the courtyard a while longer.

"I’m not a slave,” I said defiantly, staring up at him. “I’m free!”

"Then you should be ashamed of yourself,” replied one of the guardsmen. “Surely it is worse to be free dressed like that than to be a slave. You belong in a collar.”

I moved closer to Seremides and lowered my voice, because in trying to influence a Gorean man it is better to do so in private such that there can be no public interpretation that he is deferring to the demands of a woman. “I have no funds now, but when we make contact with our local resource I will sequester some funds, and you will be paid from that money.”

"Any funds you request will be given to you for the furtherance of your mission, Lady Felicia. Kurgus would not take kindly to you spending his coin on a slave girl because you wish to spare her the auction block.”

"And I will answer to him then if he has a problem with how I spend his money. All you need to know is you’ll get two pieces of silver from me as opposed to 6 pieces of copper from one of the local slaver houses.”

"Four silvers, Lady Felicia.”

"You would take two from Milo!”

"The circumstances are very different. Do you want the Lady Sakkara or not?” He tugged at the leash and Sakkara cried out as she stumbled forwards, her wrists still braceleted behind her back such that she was unable to steady herself.

"Very well. Four silver Tarsks.”

"When I have my money then you will have the girl. Until then she belongs to me. Do you intend freeing her?”

"Of course. She is not a slave.” I felt a certain obligation towards her, despite the bitterness she felt towards me.

"How little you know, Lady.” Seremides shrugged and clicked his fingers, pointing them then to the paving stones at his feet. “Kneel!” was the order he barked at Lady Sakkara and swiftly she did so. “Spread your thighs.” Sakkara sobbed but did as she was told and I could see that in doing so she was profoundly aware of her position. “That,” said Seremides, looking down at the girl, “is a slave.”

"No. I know Sakkara. She is Free. She does not want to be a slave.”

The men laughed again and Milo began to applaud with a slow hand clap designed to irk me.

During the months I’ve been on Gor I’ve given much thought to the question of whether free women do secretly desire the collar. The infamous Tarl Cabot of course is sure of the answer, that any woman who is stripped and collared grows to love her slavery. On Earth when I read the books I simply dismissed the possibility as unbridled male fantasy, but living here on Gor has given me an interesting insight into how complex the answer possibly is.

Consider the nature of the environment in which Free Women live. From puberty they are forced by complex codes to conceal their features and body in multiple layers of opaque clothing and veils. Not even their wrists or ankles are to be exposed for fear of being seen to be sluts. They are taught from an early age that a woman with sexual feelings is a natural slave deserving of the collar, and yet obviously enough women develop deep sexual needs, as all human beings do. They are probably confused and frightened, thinking perhaps that they alone have these needs and desires, fearing perhaps that the other women in their community are chaste and frigid. Fearing perhaps that they are natural slaves, as the rules of society tell them is the case, they fight to suppress these feelings in much the same way that many gay men in earlier times when homosexuality was considered disgusting, perverse and illegal did so. Perhaps Gorean women with strong sexual needs learn to hate themselves for feeling this way, but no matter how much they try to pretend they can control their need for sex, they are constantly reminded of its availability, for Gorean society is overtly sexual by nature.

Wherever they go Free Women see strong men that invariably inflame their desires, and too they see slave girls, briefly attired, enjoying the fruits of their sexuality. A Gorean Free Woman may never have kissed a man, let alone felt his caresses, and yet every day she sees slave girls enjoying all of this and more. The desire to have what you cannot have grows stronger and stronger until it must become unbearable. I suppose it must be akin to being a sexually healthy man who lives his life wearing a chastity belt that he cannot remove. Place that man inside a brothel full of luscious women and you can perhaps imagine through this analogy how Free Women on Gor must feel. Perhaps many of them begin to take risks in their desperate desire for affection, love and of course sex. But even in this they are frustrated, for men on Gor will naturally enough seek sexual congress from slave girls who after all are semi-naked, and trained in the arts of love making, whereas Free Women are bundled up in thick layers of gowns that conceal whatever beauty they might have. With slave girls freely available for the price of a cup of paga, why would you, a man, bother to court a Free Woman whose appearance is something of a gamble?

Is it any wonder then that so many Free Women naturally despise their collared sisters and feel insanely jealous that men only have eyes for the kajiras? In many ways I share in this intense frustration for of course I too am surrounded every day by impossibly beautiful slave girls that I would desperately want to take to bed. But not only does society say no, for same sex intercourse on Gor is even more of a taboo than it was on Earth in the early twentieth century, but I no longer have a penis with which to penetrate them. In many ways, I too am a man locked inside a chastity belt, who spends his days in a brothel full of sexually promiscuous girls, frustrated in any possible attempt to enjoy them.

This also explains the sexual responsiveness of a Free Woman who is enslaved. When she is suddenly touched for the first time intimately, it is like a release for all the frustrations and pressures that have built up inside of her. Think of a virgin young man who is given oral sex for the very first time. Overcome by a myriad of sensations he has never experienced before, almost all young men for the very first time will lose control and come very quickly. The same desperation can be seen in Gorean free women who experience overwhelming waves of pleasure that they were never allowed before. It’s like, to a starving man, the simplest of meals will seem like a feast. The man who has eaten regularly however will probably not appreciate his next meal quite so much.

It is estimated that 19 out of every 20 Gorean women are free. The slave population numbers are skewed beyond the basic 1 in 20 if you take into account the many thousands of Earth girls that have been brought to the planet since the early 1970s, but even so, slaves are vastly outnumbered by their free equivalents. Consider then what it takes for a Free Woman to attract the attention of a man. Clothed as she is, the man has no idea whether she is attractive or not. Think of your own experiences when you have seen Middle Eastern women dressed in hijabs. You have no idea whether they are beautiful or not, and in any event you probably feel unable to interact with them because their choice of clothing acts as a form of barrier, which is after all part of its purpose. The Free Women of Gor are much the same, protected, whether they like it or not, by their robes and veils of concealment. Interaction with the male sex, outside of their immediate family members, is strictly limited. What then of the Free Woman who has a strong and healthy sex drive and is keen to be fulfilled? She might be brazen enough to call attention to herself in some way, but nearly all such approaches are considered improper. As a Free Woman she is supposed to be chaste, virginal, frigid. Showing an interest in a man is frowned upon, most especially by other Free Women who are under the spell of peer pressure. It is like the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes when no one wanted to be the lone voice that pointed out the emperor was naked. To be a free woman who takes an open interest in men is to be condemned by your own sex, even though many of them may secretly have the same feelings, but dare not make such a thing public. Back on Earth I was affected by something like this. In secret I would dress myself as a girl, but it would always be a secret from my more public life. Perhaps some of my male friends had similar fantasies, but if so I would never know, for I could never say in conversation with them, “have you ever wanted to dress up as a girl?” To say something like that would be to invite scorn and ridicule, much the same way as if a Free Woman of Gor expressed a sexual interest in men to her peers.

But suppose she cares nothing for the opinions of other women? Suppose she does approach a man and, daring to be bold, makes suggestions to him, perhaps even being brazen enough to loosen her veil slightly or to reveal her exquisite ankles or wrists, almost as if by accident? There is a good chance that the man in question will be shocked by her actions and will tell her she has brought shame on herself. He may accuse her of being a slut, and instruct her to secure her veil more firmly, and take care that the hem of her gown adequately covers her ankles in future. She would certainly be sent away, and news of her disgraceful behaviour might then be made common knowledge.

"Where did you find this one? She poses like a slave but talks as if she were a man. Superb. I will give you four silvers for her.”

"She is not for sale,” growled Seremides, though I could sense frustration in his voice. Would he actually have wanted to sell me?

"Five silver Tarsks,” said Milo, “and I will teach her, her place at the feet of men.”

"She is not for sale,” said Seremides again.

"All women are for sale if the price is right,” said Milo. He was, I suppose, a man who was used to getting what he wanted. “Ten silver Tarsks.” I drew a sharp breath. This was a considerable sum of money to offer for a Free Woman who was not noticeably of High Caste or from an influential family. It seemed the handsome young Milo of Patashqar did indeed want to teach me my place on Gor. A smile crossed my lips for I knew of course that I was crucial to the plans of Kurgus, and now that we had reached the city at last, and my mission was almost at hand, there was no way at all that Seremides could part with me. Nothing Milo could offer would induce Seremides to sell me, for to do so would be to bring the wrath of the Kurii upon him. Feeling emboldened by this, I struck a pose and regarded Milo with a sidelong provocative glance from under my eyelashes.

"I will never be in your collar. I will never kiss your feet. I will never beg you for use. I will never call you Master. And there is nothing you can do about it, for all your vaunted Gorean male superiority.” I then rather pointlessly raised my fingers in a 'fuck off' V shape towards him – a gesture that was of course meaningless on Gor, though from the hardening of his eyes I could see that my intent was clear enough.

"You dare…” he hissed as his two guardsmen stepped forward to guard his flanks.

"Fuck you!” I shouted in English, causing Seremides to stare down at me in alarm. “Fuck you, and the way you just cast Sakkara aside like that because she doesn’t have any money.” God, but I was suddenly full of righteous anger as I took two steps forward, knowing that Seremides, whether he liked it or not, had my back. “You think you can do anything you like to women, yes? Well, fuck you, because I’m the one woman you can’t have, and there’s nothing you can do…”

"Quiet!” Seremides grabbed my wrist with his hand and drew me towards him. I was suddenly aware that Milo gestured for his guardsmen to stand down, but the look in his eyes was simmering hatred. The guardsmen's hands had been on the hilts of their blades it seems. as I had taunted their Master.

"I will not forget this insult,” said Milo very softly as Seremides began to back away towards the exit, pulling me with him as he did so. His right hand held Sakkara's leash, but I knew that he would release it to draw his sword at the first sign of any trouble.

"The woman has a loud mouth,” said Seremides, “and she will in time be reprimanded for it. Our business here is done unless you wish to try to impede our departure?”

"Go,” said Milo with a snarl. He knew that the odds were not good enough in his favour to guarantee that his two men might kill Seremides without risk to himself, and so he reluctantly allowed us to leave.

For now.

Seremides was in a black mood as he escorted Sakkara and myself quickly through the streets of the city, glancing to the sides and behind every few seconds as if expecting armed pursuit. Sakkara's crying made his mood even worse and so he lodged her temporarily in a public street pen while we met with our contacts in the city. The street pen is basically an open enclosure with hitching posts to which girls can be secured for a small fee. This is commonly done when a man doesn't wish to be encumbered with his slave while he has important affairs to see to. Each street pen has a man overseeing it who marks the girl with an identifying number on her thigh with a grease stick, and who issues a paper receipt so that the girl can be picked up later. In a sense it is no different to a cloakroom where you might leave coats and bags.

With Sakkara secured, Seremides now made haste to meet our primary contact within the city. I knew already, because Seremides had told me her name, of one person within the city that received regular payment from Kurgus, and who therefore might be of use to us: a woman called Lady Malinda, but I understood she was not the contact we were now going to see. She was not the primary contact who was expecting us, and who would detail how and where we might find the slave-girl, Erin.   

"Rest assured, Seremides, I’ll be making a full and critical report of your behaviour to Kurgus’s man in Patashqar, to be conveyed back to Corcyrus. Your handling of me since we left Corcyrus has been beyond the pale.”

"I believe I have fulfilled my duty in conveying you to Patashqar through what most Goreans would agree is dangerous and hostile territory. You have reached your destination alive and free. Under the circumstances I believe I have done a very good job.”

"Well you’re in for a shock then when I make my full report. Look at me! I’m heeling you through the back streets of this city, wearing nothing more than a ta-teera. I’m tired, my calves are caked with dust and sand and I’m lucky not to have been raped multiple times with your blessing several days ago.”

"You neglect to mention I saved your life twice at great risk to my own.”

"That doesn’t change the fact that you chained me by my neck to a tree and offered me for use to passing men!”

"We had to acquire some money. Without funds we would never have been able to leave the oasis. You were welcome to think of an alternative way of raising a substantial sum of money in a very short time. Again, you are alive and free and you have arrived safely in the city where you will work.”

"In a ta-teera! You’ve kept me in this scandalous garment simply to humiliate me. I hate you! You are the most horrible man I’ve ever met!”

"I could hardly purchase fine clothes for you in the middle of the desert. And I see no reason to delay meeting the local agent here so that you can go shopping. There is plenty of time to do that after we learn what you need to do to make contact with the former Lady Yasmina. Agents of Priest Kings will be active in Patashqar, as will be the agents of the Sultan, and agents of the seven Pashas of the great Slaver Houses. In addition you have succeeded in making an enemy of a City Magistrate within hours of arriving. Kurgus would agree that the security of the mission cannot be risked by you delaying further in order to go shopping and take a bath.”

"I’m dressed in a ta-teera! You have no idea how that feels!”

"If it is any consolation, Lady, you look very good in a ta-teera. Were you not an agent of the Kurii I would be of a mind to keep you in it much longer. Legs as good as yours should not be concealed in a long flowing gown. Rather you should leave them visible for the pleasure of men.”

"Fuck off.” Seremides’s puzzled expression made it clear that he wasn’t familiar with Earth swear words, though my tone was unmistakably clear.

It was difficult keeping pace with Seremides as, like most Gorean men, he walked quickly with long strides when he was in a hurry.

"Keep up, Felice. We’re late enough as it is.”

"I’m hurrying as best I can,” I said as we threaded our way through a maze of side streets. I still felt very conspicuous in my skimpy ta-teera, hurrying to an important rendezvous for which I should be formally attired to impress our local contact. “I will make a poor impression on our local agent dressed like this!”

"On the contrary,” said Seremides as he glanced at my body, “you shall make a splendid impression, especially with legs as good as those.”

"That’s not the impression I want to make! I should be conveying an air of authority and professionalism when I meet this man.”

"I will handle that for you, Lady. Just follow my lead once we are inside and try not to contradict anything I say.”

"I’m supposed to be handling this matter, Seremides. You are overstepping your position. Your responsibility was simply to get me to Patashqar safely. From there on in I am to deal with our local agents.”

"Never fear, I shall introduce you, Lady, and you may then speak your piece. That is your right.”

"But I’m not going to be taken seriously dressed like this. Please Seremides, for the sake of an hour, can’t we find some more respectable clothes?”

"Where we are going you will arouse less suspicion entering dressed like that.”

"What? Why? Where are we going? Who is our local agent?

"His name is Safwan Samir and he is in charge of one of the seven great Slaver Houses. We will be meeting him at his place of work.”

"We’re meeting him in a slaver house?”

"That is what I said. You understand now why entering the house dressed as you currently are will arouse no suspicion. Dressed in the gowns of a free woman, men would note your arrival with interest and you would be spoken of afterwards in paga taverns. The spy network employed by the Sultan would soon hear of it, as would the spy networks of the other slaver houses, and very quickly they would begin to wonder why a Free Woman might enter a slaver house. In short, your identity and cover would be compromised.”

"I see.” I clenched my small fists. “But I don’t like it.”

"Of course not, Lady Felicia. There seems to be very little about now being a woman on Gor that you do actually like.”

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