Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Panther Girl of Gor Chapter Three
Chapter Three: The Port of Lydius: the interrogation of Jacinta begins
What must you be thinking about me now? I mean, I know how this must look. I must seem like the passive observer now, kneeling in Nadu, gazing up with doe like eyes, desperately longing for the touch of my Master, while wild and exciting things happen all around me.
That's what Emma has become now, you must think. She'll kneel there and watch the subsequent story unfold all around her. She's become irrelevant to her own story.
What do you see when you read my words? Do you see a girl who simply says, “oh fuck me, Master! Fuck me hard! I have such slave needs! Take me now, and show me what it is to be a woman!”
I'm guessing you do not see a woman with the potential to save Gor?
I confess at this point in my narrative I must seem helpless and lost. But bear with me, for there will come a time soon when I am fleeing through the Northern Forests in absolute panic, with Brinn by my side, and we are pursued by thirty to forty men with swords and shields. And then we reach the towering cliff side which means we can run no further, and then the shield wall assembles behind us, and for the first time since I knew him, I sense fear in Brinn, for he knows he has failed and he will not survive this.
And I know that he now cares for me, and desperately needs me, and he knows he has doomed me to die and he cannot protect me, which is surely the most awful thing a Gorean man can possibly comprehend.
And the Warlord in command of the shield wall lifts the visor of his helm and he sneers, seeing Brinn push me back behind him, against the cliff side, for all the good that will do me, as he prepares to make his last stand, ready to die fighting.
“They say that if a tree falls in the forest when there is no one to witness it, it makes no sound,” said Seremides in all his martial might. “Well, today you will die in this forest glade, and there will be no one save us to witness it, and your name will pass into nothingness, just another trivial footnote in history. So passes the legend of Brinn of the Sardar mountains.”
And then Brinn turns to me and says something along the lines of, “when I am dead, submit to Seremides and he may spare you, Emma. Do that for me, for I do not wish you to die.” And then he prepares his sword and shield, ready for the Gorean equivalent of Valhalla, for he is a man and he has no concept of surrender.
And then I remember as if yesterday, I stand up and I look Brinn in the eyes and I say, “kiss me one last time, Master, for if I am wrong, then I've doomed us both,” and he obviously doesn't understand, but he kisses me anyway because he is going to die, and I think he now loves me, though he will never ever admit to it, and then with a smile on my face I say to him, “we are not dying today, Master.” And then I turn to face Seremides and the shield wall of his mightiest warriors with their glittering shields and short swords, and I say to Seremides, striding forward, barefoot, semi-naked towards the wall of his men, “many months ago you betrayed me. Many months ago you enslaved me. Many months ago you raped me. And now today I will kill you and all your men. And you will all die screaming in agony, wishing you had never crossed Emma of London.” And then I raise my right hand and I remember Brinn screaming, “Emma, don't!” and I remember the sudden absolute fear in Seremides's eyes, and then I...
The port of Lydius was my first sight of the sea on Gor – the ocean that Goreans called Thassa. I loved the smell of the salt air that blew inland from the strong ocean going breeze that enabled the great sailing ships of Gor to ply their trade along the western coast. I loved the squawking of migratory sea birds, and the more local gulls that fed on scraps of fish heads and slops on the wooden wharfs. I loved the colours of the sails of the high masted ships that I could see in the vast harbour and the full panoply of Gorean civilisation bustling before me. This was a vibrant and exciting city that welcomed people from as far afield as Schendi at the equator. It was a hive of trade, offering links to the Laurius river communities, the cities of central Gor, the vast open expanses and ice mountains of Torvaldsland, and the many remote islands dotted throughout the Thassa sea.
Brinn landed the Tarn a few pasangs outside of the city as he wanted to enter as unobtrusively as possible. I knelt on the grass as Brinn untied Jacinta and Melinda from the saddle rings and deposited his belongings on the grass beside them. Both the girls had their wrists bound behind their backs with binding fibre, and their collar rings were leashed together with two feet of slack between them. I could only imagine how Jacinta and Melinda glared at one another while they were forced to stand in such a close coffle arrangement. Brinn then removed the saddle, reins and harnesses from the bird, for he no longer had any need of a Tarn and would set it free. With Marcellus dead, the Tarn had no one to return to. I watched it fly high into the air, free to roam and hunt where it liked now.
“You set a Tarn free, but you wouldn’t set a girl free,” I said as I stood beside him.
“A Tarn is not a slave,” said Brinn simply. I saw he now wore the ring of red metal on a looped thong about his neck. It was so close, so near. If I reached out I could touch it. “It has served us well in bringing us here. I salute it and wish it good hunting from now on.”
The great bird seemed to wheel in a circle above us for a while as Brinn gazed up with one hand shielding his eyes, before with a thunderous roar it began to fly south west, to explore this new terrain.
“This is Lydius,” said Brinn. “Gaze on it well, Emma, for it will be your new home.”
My heart sank. Despite all my entreaties, despite all my sexual skills, Brinn was still intent on selling me. Very soon now I would be climbing on to the sun baked raised wooden boards of a slave platform, responding to the touch of a slaver's whip as he exhibited me to a crowd of potential buyers. I would be put through a series of basic slave positions and made to beg a man to buy me. This would be my life now. I felt miserable beyond measure.
Brinn clicked his fingers and indicated that Jacinta should approach him. She did so, with Melinda reluctantly following The girls had to walk slowly for they had not been trained to walk together at an equal pace in close throat coffle. With her hands tied behind the small of her back, Jacinta was unable to resist as Brinn stripped her of the red pleasure silk.
“What are you doing?”
“You are both too conspicuous in red pleasure silk,” said Brinn as he stripped me too. Melinda wore a commonplace slave tunic and so she was permitted to retain it.
“But I’m naked now!”
“So I have noticed,” said Brinn with a smile. “Do not fear, Lady Jacinta, if you beg me nicely then I will buy you a pretty slave tunic to wear in Lydius.”
“I’m not the begging type,” said Jacinta angrily.
“Then you can walk through the streets of Lydius naked for all I care. It is all the same to me. Of course if you are naked then I will have to appoint Lady Melinda as the First Girl in your place. First Girl cannot be naked when another girl is clothed.”
Jacinta glanced at Melinda and no doubt weighed up the possibility that she might be given a switch with which to maintain discipline in Brinn’s coffle. It was not an appealing thought, and even I was scared by the prospect.
“Very well,” said Jacinta. “I will wear the slave tunic.”
“You must beg for it if you want it,” said Brinn.
Jacinta’s face flushed red with embarrassment. “I beg a slave tunic to wear.”
“Surely only a slave would beg to wear a slave tunic?”
Jacinta stared silently at Brinn for a time. I could see she was wrestling with the conflict of either humiliating herself before Brinn, or suffering Melinda as First Girl. She lowered her eyes and then raised them again. “You are right. I am not a slave. I will not beg.”
Brinn said nothing for a while. I could see he wasn’t used to a woman defying him like that. After a while he simply nodded and pointed to Melinda. “The Lady Melinda is First Girl from now on. She has switch rights over you.”
I felt a sense of cold shock, knowing those rights would naturally extend to me too as I was a slave. Melinda of course seemed delighted by this.
“I will ensure perfect discipline from now on, Captor,” she said to Brinn. “I humbly request you untie my hands and give me a switch.”
Brinn nodded and did so. He was not happy with Jacinta’s refusal to demean herself it seemed. He also released the neck thong from Melinda’s collar ring.
Melinda touched Jacinta’s ass with the switch and tapped it twice. “You call me Mistress now.”
Jacinta said nothing. She simply looked away.
“I said, you call me Mistress!” Melinda placed the tip of the switch next to Jacinta’s left thigh. But still Jacinta said nothing. Then came the first crack of the switch on her thigh and she screamed a short sharp scream. Two more swipes of the switch caused Jacinta to stagger with bound wrists. Three more blows landed on her right thigh. Brinn watched the scene with a sense of detachment. He seemed to have no problem with Melinda administering discipline.
“I can keep doing this,” said Melinda as she placed the switch against Jacinta’s unmarked ass. There were three vivid red stripes on each thigh already.
“Mistress,” said Jacinta quietly.
“Mistress,” she said more loudly now, though her voice was trembling from the pain.
“Look at me, girl,” said Melinda. Jacinta did so. “Now lower your eyes.” Jacinta did so. “Emma, come here!” Melinda clicked her fingers and pointed to a space on the grass about a foot or so from her bare feet. I hurried there quickly and knelt obediently, not wishing her to exercise switch rights over me. “You are second girl, Emma,” she proclaimed, much to my astonishment. She was effectively appointing me, a slave-girl, above a Free Woman.
“No,” said Brinn suddenly. “Emma is third girl. Jacinta is still a Free Woman. Do not overstep yourself, Melinda.”
“Of course. You are right, Captor. Emma shall be third girl.” She looked contrite and that was enough to satisfy Brinn.
Jacinta said nothing. She gazed at the sight of the walls of Lydius, several pasangs away and pondered perhaps what her fate was going to be once we reached there.
“Good,” said Brinn, seemingly satisfied now. He bundled our pieces of silk in his hands and shoved them into a thicket of bushes where they would not be seen from the sky. And then, after loading us like beasts of burden, he led us down towards Lydius.
I think the main reason why Brinn chose Lydius as his destination was because it was a Free Port, administered by the Merchant caste, and that meant a policy of open gates without the usual strict checks you might find in other cities. People could, within reasonable limits enter and leave the city without presenting papers and stating their business because the Merchant council wished to maximise trade to their advantage. We approached the west gate on foot, with Brinn's possessions loaded on our backs, for slave-girls are often used as porters when men are travelling. I say 'our backs' but Melinda as First Girl was spared the heavy lifting. She instead walked proudly beside us, occasionally tapping one of our thighs with her switch.
“Head up, little Emma, back straight,” she would say as I struggled with the peasant bow, a quiver full of arrows, our cooking utensils and pots (we had acquired more along the way) and two sacks full of food hung around my body. Jacinta walked ahead of me with Brinn's sword belt draped and hung diagonally across her body, the sword and dagger sheaths at her back. She also carried Brinn's war helm on a leather loop, slung over her chest, along with hemp sacks containing slave chains, bedding, and tools slung over each shoulder. Her wrists remained in bondage.
The gates were open, and despite a number of guardsmen standing close by in the mid morning sun, we passed through without question. Beyond the gates I could see the main street leading on into the heart of the city – a thoroughfare that was crowded with wagons passing in and out, loaded with trade goods no doubt.
Young boys with trays of hot pies and smoked fish pushed through the crowds ranging down the narrow side streets as Free Men and Women haggled with stall vendors that lined the central road. I saw an immense variety of fish for sale, many of them resembling Earth fish such as mackerel, herring, lampreys, eels, stockfish, cod, crabs and lobsters. Many were fresh from the Thassa sea but an hour ago and lay on beds of brown salt. There were stalls loaded with wheat, barley, oats and rye, and other stalls piled high with garlic buds, herbs, pears, strange tubular roots I had never seen before, and others selling haunches of meat, often covered in flies that the vendors didn't even bother to swat away. I saw bales of fleeces and silks and cotton and rep cloth and linen and canvas for sails. There were stalls selling delicate glass, nails, coal, planks of Ter wood, weapons, and of course chains and collars, slave bracelets and ankle cuffs and whips and all the variety of slave equipment that I was only too personally familiar with.
Brinn paused at a stall close by the gate that was selling ka-la-na wine in small clay cups. He purchased one and drank it while his eyes scanned subtly through the crowd. I followed his gaze and saw three men, fierce looking, who loitered perhaps a little too obviously by the side of the gate where they appeared to be playing dice on the top of a barrel. They had the look of hardened outlaws – men with no homestone to call their own – men who were in the business of selling their swords to a Warlord when he was throwing gold around, as Kurgus was now.
I watched as Brinn smiled at them, and I saw them in turn smile back. One of them, possibly the leader, struck his left shoulder with his right fist in acknowledgement. One of the others nodded towards Brinn. The third drew an etched knife and kissed it while he stared intently and somewhat menacingly at my Master.
“You know them, Master?” I came close to Brinn and shifted the weight of the sacks across my shoulders.
“No. But I think they have been waiting here for some days now to kill me.”
I gazed back quickly at the men and saw that all three were armed with weapons that look well used. It seemed they no longer had much interest in their dice game as they now left their spot by the side of the gates and began to walk casually through the crowded street, occasionally pushing surprised citizens out of the way.
“They work for Kurgus,” said Jacinta as she stood there in the dust. She looked tired and dejected.
“You recognise them?” I asked her.
“No, but obviously they have been paid by Kurgus to look out for us. There will be similar men at the other gates, at the Tarn cots and at the wharves. We would have had the same reception if we had gone to Laura.”
Brinn finished the wine and placed the clay cup back on the market stall. He straightened up as he saw the men slowly approaching, trying not to draw the attention of Guardsmen to themselves.
“Move ahead of me,” said Brinn. “Emma, stay close. Melinda, bracelet position.”
Melinda reluctantly turned round and crossed her hands behind her back. She winced as Brinn swiftly tied her wrists together with binding fibre. Now she was rendered as helpless as Jacinta. Brinn slapped their asses and urged them forward, the heavy sacks and other accoutrements swaying with each step they took.
“Where are we going?” I asked as I kept pace with Brinn. The outlaw men were maybe thirty paces behind us, pushing through the crowds. They were beginning to split up so that one man remained behind us, and the other two men flanked us.
“A good question. If we stay in the crowded thoroughfare one of them will try and stick me with a dagger, unobserved. If we head into a side street, they will wait until we find a quiet place and they will draw swords. If I head to a house I know, belonging to agents of the Priest Kings, they will discover it and kill me there. My choices seem limited. Keep moving.”
I hurried now, frightened, for I knew that these men would almost certainly claim me after killing Brinn. I did not think they would be very kind Masters for a girl to have. Burdened as we were by the sacks of belongings, we were never going to outrun the three hired killers, and Brinn knew that. In the end his choice was made for him as the crowds grew denser the closer we got to the centre squares of Lydius. In this condensed crush of people, it would be too easy for the outlaws to crowd close to Brinn and stab him with knives, and so he made his decision and pushed us into a narrow side road.
“Keep moving. Precede me,” he said as he glanced back to see the outlaws now only fifteen paces away. We fast walked and then slow ran down a number of twists and turns, moving blindly through the funnel like sequence of narrowing alleys and lanes until we ultimately reached a bricked up dead end.
The alley was deathly quiet with only the distant hubbub of the previous roads drifting faintly in our direction. Brinn sighed and drew first his short sword and then his long hunting knife from the weapons belt slung across Jacinta's shoulders.
“Kneel by the far wall, all of you,” he said. “Do not attempt to stand up while I'm fighting. If anyone does, I will assume she plans on distracting me to aid Kurgus's killers, and I will cut her down without mercy.”
We knelt with our backs to the far wall, knowing he meant exactly what he said. We were trapped, and Brinn was outnumbered three to one.
Brinn stood there with blades drawn as the outlaws rounded the corner. They too had swords drawn, though they intended to fight one handed. It is a difficult and specialised skill to fight with two weapons and I think it must be a bit like trying to beat out two different rhythms on a drum kit simultaneously. Brinn would have preferred to use a shield I think but with the odds the way they were, a long knife in his off hand was better than nothing.
“Brinn of the Sardar mountains,” said the tallest of the outlaws. “This is our lucky day.”
“You're going to make us very rich men,” said the ugliest outlaw.
“And we'll celebrate, after pissing in your dead mouth, by having your women,” said the outlaw who reminded me somewhat of a predatory rat.
“I'm curious,” said Brinn as he held his knife outstretched and his sword back, “what is the bounty on my head?”
“Ten gold,” said the rat face.
Brinn nodded. “I'm pleased with that.”
“So are we.” Rat face sniffed and swept his own blade in a number of figure of eight arcs designed to loosen up his muscles.
“I don't suppose Kurgus wants to take me alive?” asked Brinn politely.
“Do we look like we give a fuck?” Rat face lowered his blade and crouched, ready to spring. He was there to distract Brinn of course, as suddenly the other two charged forward, screaming battle oaths and slashing with their blades at Brinn's chest and head. Brinn turned, parried one blade with his long knife, and parried the other with his gladius. The clash of steel sounded loud in the deserted alleyway as Brinn slammed into the body of the tall man, knocking him backwards. The ugly one recovered from the parry and swung his blade down again only to scrape sparks once more against Brinn's long knife. Brinn was fast, and he was co-ordinated. He used the weight of his left hand holding the knife to drive the ugly man's sword down towards the ground, and then before I could even scream, Brinn sliced up with his gladius and drove it straight up and through the outlaw's throat.
Already the tall man was recovering, but Brinn stepped round the dying body of the other outlaw, wrenched his blade free and parried the incoming blow with his long knife. I screamed, warning him of the rat face coming up behind him with another blade, and Brinn twisted again, this time with the sword he had freed from the falling body, just in time to parry this new attack.
The ugly man hit the ground as Brinn now risked a series of cuts, thrusts and slashes at the rat face, driving him backwards in the couple of seconds it took the tall man to regain his combat stance. Brinn was swearing as he risked a sudden chop at rat face's eyes, before taking two sudden steps back, turning and catching tall man's blade between both his gladius and knife in a scissor pattern. With a scream of rage, Brinn swept his blades apart, raising his opponent's blade just long enough for him to kick at his exposed stomach and punch him in face with the hilt of his sword. As the man doubled up in pain, Brinn brought his gladius down and around, to cut deep into his skull.
“Master!” I screamed as the rat face stabbed Brinn in the left shoulder – a blow that would have driven through his back had my warning not made him turn round in time. Brinn screamed in pain, but as the last outlaw tried to pull his weapon free, Brinn took the precious couple of seconds to slice with the gladius across the man's chest and drive his long knife deep into his gut.
I kept screaming as Brinn didn't pause, but carried on chopping and cutting at Rat Face's body until it had stopped moving. Blood was streaming down Brinn's left shoulder and I saw his knife hand grow limp and the knife fall to the floor.
“We can't stay here. Kurgus will have more men.” There was a wild, savage expression on his face – the expression of a warrior who had been through the red mists of battle rage and had come out alive. I rose to my feet and ran to him, embracing him, for warriors need the touch of a woman after battle. He held me with even his wounded arm and kissed me deeply and passionately. I could see fire burning in his eyes. He was still flushed with adrenaline, his hands shaking, his breathing seemed ragged. Suddenly he turned me round, pressed me against the stone wall at the side of the alley way and without warning, pushed inside of me. I wasn't prepared, and it hurt, but I knew he needed this now. He had faced the prospect of death and had won, and that filled a man with a taste for life far and above anything else. This was simply a hard, quick fuck, with me pressed against the wall, quivering, hurting slightly as he calmed himself back down so that he could think straight for the dangers ahead. Brinn groaned as he came and pressed me very hard, hurting me some more. He wasn't himself. He had almost died. He turned me back round so that I now faced him and he kissed me again, drawing blood from my lips.
“Emma...” he said, as the adrenalin began to ebb away, leaving his body feeling shaken and weak from the after effects.
“I may not sell you in Lydius after all...”
I purred and suddenly kissed him back, my body excited now beyond belief.
“These are very bad times,” said Carsus as he closed and bolted the door behind us. Brinn, still bleeding from his left shoulder wound had led us to the one safe house he knew about in Lydius. “I think our companions in the city of Laura are dead. Kurgus’s men arrived there and have begun to settle old scores. There are rumours that he has men in Lydius now, looking for Priest King Agents. Something has sent him into a furious rage and all pretence of subtlety is at an end in Northern Gor. I received a coded warning that Priest King Stations along the Laurius River are being attacked. I can only assume he doesn’t know of this one, or else I too would be dead by now.”
“Or he does know of it and he has kept you alive in the hope that you will lead him to me.” Brinn looked anxious as he held his right hand tightly over the sword wound to staunch the bleeding. “We have to assume this house has been compromised along with all the others on the Northern border. But I need medical attention urgently.”
“Of course.” Carsus opened a first aid kit and began to tend to the shoulder wound, disinfecting it, cleaning it and stitching it. “What is going on? Mercenaries are flocking to Laura. It is practically a Kurii stronghold now that Kurgus has been throwing gold about as if there is no tomorrow.”
“There may well not be a tomorrow unless I act quickly.” Brinn gazed about the simply appointed room as Carsus tended to his wound. The furnishings here were minimal, befitting the compartments of a warrior. “How many men can we count on in Lydius?”
“Warriors? None. This is a remote station. We do not maintain bodies of armed men. We have agents at the docks and elsewhere, but no fighting men to speak of. Kurgus has caught us unaware.”
“I thought as much. Then I have to hope Limidius meets me at the Exchange point. Kurgus is burning with fire and pursuing a scorched earth policy where we’re concerned. I fear this is his end game in action now.”
Brinn sat cross legged on the floor as Carsus poured paga for them both. I didn’t honestly think this was an appropriate time to get drunk, but Gorean men can be very inflexible on the matter of paga.
“All three of these women were Kurii agents. This one,” Brinn indicated me, “I have placed in my collar as she was a slave when I found her. She will remain there until I choose to sell her. This one,” he indicated Melinda, “I suggest we exchange for the Lady Coraline, assuming our channels of communication with the enemy are still open?”
“I believe so,” said the man. “The Kurii have already contacted us to say they are prepared to trade the Lady Coraline for an agent of equal worth. I assume therefore they believe they have extracted all the information they can from her. I met her once. She is a good woman. She deserves our help.”
“I will leave Melinda in your care then. See she is transported to the Sardar and the exchange made.” Brinn turned to regard his Parisienne captive. “It seems you will have your freedom, Lady. Congratulations.”
Melinda shot Jacinta and me a triumphal look as she stood there in the slave tunic. She would be freed, and soon she would be wearing the fine robes and veils of the Free Women of Gor again. I would like to be able to say that the planned exchange broke down and the petty and spiteful bitch ended up in a slave collar, but to my knowledge that wasn't the case. I have no reason to believe that Melinda was not ultimately exchanged and given her freedom again. Not all fates on Gor are poetic ones, and in Melinda's case she seems to have won. Did you perhaps think her ultimate fate was to end up on an auction block? I wish I could tell you that was indeed the case.
“Serve well in your collar, Emma,” she said with a self-satisfied smile. “I will think of you in your bondage when I am free again in a comfortable villa in Corcyrus.”
“And this one,” Brinn indicated Jacinta, “claims to be a Priest King double agent. She gave me the appropriate recognition codes.”
“That is interesting.”
“I do not trust her however. We need to ascertain whether she is lying.”
“That is a simple enough matter.” Carsus turned to regard her. “Who was your handler?”
“I am not supposed to divulge that information to anyone,” said Jacinta.
“Lady, in case it is not obvious, your fate now rests on us deciding whether you speak the truth or not. The confirmation of your status by a high ranking and known Agent of the Priest Kings will almost certainly sway us.”
“Marik. Marik of Brundisium. I reported to him,” said Jacinta.
“The name is known to me.” Carsus smiled at Brinn. “It seems she is telling the truth if Marik can vouch for her. It will take me a few days to confirm the matter via our communication channels, so I suggest leaving Jacinta here while...”
“Don't bother,” snapped Brinn suddenly. He glared at Jacinta. “Oh, but you are very good, Lady.”
Jacinta said nothing, but simply gazed back at Brinn.
“Is there a problem?” asked Carsus.
“There is, and the Lady Jacinta well knows it. Marik was killed in Brundisium just over two months ago by Kurii agents. How very convenient for our so called double agent here.” Brinn turned back to regard Jacinta. “Did you order his death? Was this part of your cover story so we would not be able to verify it?”
“Marik is dead?” Jacinta looked shocked.
“Lady – do not try my patience with your pretend tears. This is not news to you, is it?”
“Brinn, I honestly did not know... I have known Marik since 1979...”
“Oh, but you are very good, Lady. Just the right degree of shock without pretend tears that would give you away as a poor actress.” Brinn turned back to face Carsus. “Let us then determine the truth about Lady Jacinta.” He turned back to regard her again. “If you would kneel in the middle of the room, Lady.”
Jacinta nodded and knelt in tower where Brinn had indicated. If she was nervous about her upcoming interrogation, her features didn’t indicate it.
“You will answer our questions truthfully without any attempt at evasion. If I decide you are lying to me I will whip you, do you understand?”
“I understand.” Jacinta glanced at the whip that hung from a hook on the wall. It was similar to the whip that had once been used on me in the slave pens of Banu Hashim. I never wished to feel a whip like it ever again.
“You haven’t been whipped before, have you, Lady?”
“No,” said Jacinta.
“You may be under the impression that you could endure being whipped?”
“No. I have seen slaves whipped before. I have seen how they react. I am under no illusions that I would be any tougher than they were.”
“Good. Let’s begin with who you are, Lady. Before you came to Gor?”
“My name on Earth was Miss Rachel Evans of Oakhampton., I was a student in the early seventies and I became involved with radical politics. Feminism even.” She smiled, knowing Brinn would have no idea what that meant. “I met Kurgus as he was stationed on Earth at that time in the early days of the slave acquisitions from my planet. They were establishing networks in Western Europe and America. Kurgus was operational in England. I found him fascinating for a time. He was so unlike the other men I associated with at university. We dated for a few nights and…”
“Dated?” Brinn was obviously unaware of the concept.
“It is how men and women decide on their mutual compatibility on Earth. We met at cafes and bars, and we talked.”
“Courtship then? I assume Kurgus was simply assessing you. You were interested in Free Companioning Kurgus?”
Jacinta laughed and shook her head. “I don’t think you understand the early seventies, Brinn. I had no intention of becoming engaged or marrying anyone. I was a free spirit. I wore Biba dresses and had posters of David Bowie on my wall. I was interested in Kurgus because something about him excited me. I was considering sleeping with him, that is all.”
“I see. You have slave feelings for men?”
“Wanting sex doesn’t make a woman a slave. Free Women have sex on Gor.”
“Under certain conditions, yes.” Brinn frowned. “It sounds like you were preparing to offer yourself to Kurgus. Did you present yourself before him in the form of slave attire common to needy women on Earth?”
“I dressed to be pretty. I wanted him to like me. Earth is different to Gor.”
“Did you bare your legs? Your bosom?”
“I think I wore a midi skirt to just below my knees, and a low cut blouse. And strappy sandal heels. It was a long time ago. I can't remember to be sure.”
“Kurgus seemed to like me. He spoke to me very differently than the way the male students did. They had always been very deferential, pleasing, and they had always been very careful not to say anything that I might take offence to. Gender politics was something I felt strongly about in those days.”
“Gender politics?” Brinn curled his lip at the sound of that phrase.
“It is the concept that men and women should be equals in every respect. That the gender differences are artificial constructs imposed by society.”
“Your world is sick,” said Brinn. “You are quite obviously not the same as a man. Continue.”
“Kurgus walked me back to my campus room after our third night together. Somehow we both knew he was going to enter my room and spend the night with me. I felt very excited. You must understand that I was young and inexperienced when it came to men.”
“You were white silk?”
“Yes. Yes I was.”
“Kurgus was the man who deflowered you?”
“Such a quaint way of speaking, but yes. Kurgus deflowered me that night. It was consensual.”
“Did Kurgus treat you with respect and dignity, as you were a Free Woman of Earth?”
“No, no he didn’t.” Jacinta blushed.
“Of course not. He treated you the way Earth women should be treated.”
Jacinta sighed. “We had consensual sex. We were both Free. That is acceptable in Gorean society. It is certainly acceptable on Earth.”
“I am not really interested in the whys and wherefores of your sexual proclivities on Earth, Lady. I am sure Kurgus fulfilled your desperate slave feelings that night. What then?”
Jacinta ignored the barbed inference. “I was besotted with Kurgus for a time. I continued to see him. The Kurii had not yet established places on Earth for their agents where slave-girls might be kept for their use, and so the men who were stationed on Earth were accustomed in those days to making their own arrangements for sex. There was no shortage of women who might satisfy them. Kurgus seemed to like me. Then one day he announced he was leaving, he was being recalled. I didn’t want him to go. He told me I could come with him if I wished. He told me that his Masters were recruiting talented girls for work of a very confidential nature. This was the first wave of Earth women who were recruited to serve the Kurii on Gor. I was young and naïve. I assumed I was going to be working in say the Middle East, for Kurgus had explained something of the restrictions I might face where I was going. The veils and the full robes of concealment and so forth. I didn’t know I would live on Gor until I woke up there on a soft silken couch.”
“So you were a Kurii agent when you arrived on Gor? A willing recruit?”
“Yes, I suppose I was. Though I didn't yet understand what the role entailed.”
“Kurgus did. As soon as I arrived on Gor he changed his mind about me. I was no longer of sexual interest, now that he was back on a planet full of slave-girls. I was now expected to be dignified, to suppress my sexuality. Kurgus even seemed to blame me for the fact that I was not white silk! The arrogance of the man!” Jacinta glanced down at the floor. If all this was an act, then it was a very good one.
“One day I went to Kurgus and… effectively tried to seduce him. I missed him. I missed his touch.”
“Shameful,” said Brinn, shaking his head in disgust.
“Kurgus thought so too. He pushed me away, told me I was a disgrace in speaking that way. He told me I was a Free Woman on Gor and I had standards to meet. He stripped me, tied me to a slave ring set on the wall, and beat me for my approach to him.”
“Excellent,” said Brinn.
“I was returned to my rooms and told never to demean myself that way again, or it would be the collar for me.”
“A Free Woman does not offer herself to men for sex unless she is a slave.”
“So everyone on this miserable excuse for a planet tells me.” Jacinta’s voice was bitter now. “I wanted to go home, but of course that was never going to happen. I began working for Kurgus, secretly hating him now, and then one day I captured a Priest King Agent operating in Vonda. Before I could hand him over to Kurgus, I spoke to him, as I was curious what the enemy was truly like. I had him chained of course, but we spoke for several hours and at some point during our conversation I began to talk about how unhappy I was. How I wanted to go home. The agent told me that might be possible. By the early hours of the morning he had effectively recruited me. His name was Marik. I never handed him to Kurgus, instead he became my handler and I began to feed information to him about Kurii activities. He promised that one day the Priest Kings would send me home.”
“You’re still on Gor.”
“Yes. That day never came. It seems…” Jacinta raised her eyes to the ceiling and shrugged her shoulders, “it seems I am just too valuable an asset to be given my freedom from Gor just yet. It had always been a case of, maybe next year or the year after or the year after that. One day I will be returned home. One day.”
“You don’t sound a very committed Priest King operative, Lady.”
“Do you want me to lie and pretend I am?” she looked Brinn deep in the eyes.
“No. No I do not. It occurs to me that you may well be playing both sides against one another all this time.”
“No. I have hated Kurgus for a long time. He brought me to this planet under false pretences. And then he abandoned me. He took away my freedom to choose my own life. I want him to fail. I work for Priest Kings precisely because they are opposed to him. Your greater cause is an irrelevance. I simply wish payback against Kurgus and his Kurii Masters. Is that really so inconceivable?”
“I’m impressed,” said Brinn as he walked to the wall where the whip hung from its hook. “You really are exceptionally talented. I can see why Kurgus values you so highly.” He took the heavy Gorean whip down from the hook, much to Jacinta’s alarm.
“What are you doing, Brinn?”
“Any lesser agent of the Kurii would have opted to express admiration and commitment to our cause. Your tale is so much more believable because you paint a picture of only siding with us to gain revenge against Kurgus. I assume you’ve been rehearsing that tale in your mind for some days now, knowing you would be in Lydius before long?”
“You have to believe me, Brinn. I’m telling the truth!”
“But I don’t believe you, Jacinta.” Brinn shook the whip loose from its coil. The tip of the horrible lash slithered snakelike across the floor, close to where Jacinta knelt. “You truly are a consummate actress.”
“No I’m not! Why do you keep saying that? Brinn – I’m telling you the truth.” Jacinta held her hands out to his, outstretched, with her palms softly exposed in a pleading position often employed by slave-girls who face a whipping.
“I told you the penalty for lying to me, lady.”
“You can’t whip me! I’m a Free Woman!”
“You are my captive, and you are an enemy. You continue to lie to me and my patience is at an end. You will be whipped.”
Jacinta suddenly leapt to her feet and ran blindly for the door. Brinn did not attempt to stop her. Jacinta turned the handle and pulled but the door didn’t move.
“It is locked, Lady. You did not see Carsus lock it, but it is a common precaution in times of danger.”
Jacinta threw herself at the door, but simply bounced off it. Now she looked wildly about the room, terrified what Brinn was going to do to her.
“You have just added five lashes to your punishment for getting up without permission, Lady Jacinta. Do you wish me to add another five, or will you return now to your former kneeling position?”
“Please… please, no… you can’t possibly mean to whip me…”
“I will give you three seconds, Jacinta.”
Jacinta ran back to the spot in the middle of the room and dropped to her knees. Her body was quivering now for I suspect she had seen slave-girls being whipped in the past, and had some inkling then what the lash must feel like. “Brinn, think for a minute, just think…”
“You still have time to spare yourself the lash if you tell me the truth. This really is your last chance.”
“I’m telling you the truth!”
“Your performance really is very convincing. But you see, I simply do not believe you.” Brinn flicked the whip so that the leather slid harmlessly along Jacinta’s naked thighs. She jumped, startled, but settled back into her Tower position.
“What do you want me to say? Do you want me to lie? I’ll lie for you if that will mean you won’t whip me!”
“I simply want the truth.”
“Oh God, this is insane!” Jacinta was crying now as she stared at that evil heavy whip.
Brinn motioned towards Carsus. “Tie her wrists to the slave ring.”
“No!” Jacinta struggled, held, as Carsus dragged her towards an iron slave ring set into the floor. He swiftly tied her wrists together and bound them to the ring. Jacinta knelt there now with her back exposed, her arms outstretched before her. She felt Carsus draw her hair away from her back and knot it above her scalp.
“You will receive ten lashes for lying to me, and five more for breaking position and running to the door. After your punishment I will then ask you my questions again. I suggest you tell the truth next time or the whipping will be repeated.”
“Emma! Help me, for God’s sake!” screamed Jacinta as Brinn trailed the tip of the whip across her back. “Tell him I'm not lying!”
“Emma can’t help you,” said Brinn. “Only the truth can help you.”
“Master, parts of what she told you she previously told me back in Corcyrus...” I said.
“Of course, Emma. She is meticulous when it comes to fabricating a plausible background.”
“Please, Brinn, please… I’m begging you now…”
Jacinta would not be able to endure the whip, I knew that. Her body was too feminine, too weak. Maybe the strong girls with thick calves who worked on the peasant farm we had visited might have been able to endure it for a while, but Jacinta would break quickly.
“Tell me the truth.”
“I have told you the…” The lash came down for the first time and Jacinta screamed loud enough to wake the dead. I flinched and looked away as a stripe appeared across her back. She shook, and clenched her knees together where she was bound to the ring. Brinn let the pain of the first blow soak through her body for a few seconds, allowing her to register the pain, before he said, “one.”
“Please… no more…”
The lash cracked down a second time and Jacinta let out another scream. I turned away, unable to watch this. That had been me once before in Patashqar.
“Please! Please! Please!” Jacinta’s face was wet with tears. There were two stripes on her back now.
“You have thirteen more lashes to come, Jacinta. And then we begin the questioning again.”
The third slash of the whip made Jacinta collapse on to her stomach. Brinn ordered her back to her knees with the threat of adding that stroke back to the total if she didn’t immediately comply. I watched in horror as my friend struggled back into kneeling position, her body convulsing already. She would not be able to last the full fifteen blows.
“That was three. Brace yourself, Jacinta. This wil now be the fourth of fifteen.”
“I lied!” screamed Jacinta suddenly. “You’re right – you’re right… I never served Priest Kings! I serve Kurii. Just do not whip me any more. Please!”
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” said Brinn with satisfaction. “Your mission was to lie to me, to earn my trust and then betray me at some point, yes?”
“Yes, yes!” Jacinta puked some spittle onto the tiled floor.
“You thought you could fool a Gorean man of the caste of the warriors?”
“Please do not whip me. Please…”
“I knew you were lying all along. You were just too convincing, Lady.”
“Master…” I said softly, “she may just be saying this because she is desperate not to be whipped…”
“Do not be ridiculous, Emma. I am skilled in the art of interrogation. I have simply broken her and now we get to the truth.” Brinn turned his attention back to Jacinta. “You serve Kurii faithfully? You are committed to their cause fully?”
“Yes, yes…” More tears spilled down her cheeks.
“You have never served Priest Kings, have you?”
Brinn nodded, satisfied in his own mind that he had uncovered Jacinta’s deception. “You have conspired with the beasts that threaten all of Gor. You have done so no doubt for promises of wealth and power. You have no doubt been responsible for many deaths and a great deal of suffering. You engineered the downfall of Elysium and masterminded the death of a brave warrior and his Oath Men. On Earth by your own admission you experienced slave needs that made you dress provocatively and beg the touch of a man. I will therefore have you branded when we reach the Exchange point close to the Northern Forests. There too your ears and nose will be pierced. You will wear a collar and a brand, Lady Jacinta. You will be a slave on Gor, for the rest of your life, serving the very men you sought to destroy.”
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