Sunday, 4 June 2017

A Slave Girl's Revenge (A Gor short story)

“Mistress is late,” I said as the cloaked and hooded figure of Lady Serafina entered the upstairs room of the seedy and run down inn that stood close to the Maze sector of the city. The woman’s hand shook as she closed the door and lowered the hood of her cloak to reveal a soft, beautiful Taharian face framed with long olive dark hair. 

I had never seen a city like Patashqar before I was led inside in chains as part of a newly acquired slave coffle. The city it seemed occupied an important position on the trade routes of the Tahari between the east and the west and was therefore a melting pot for men and women of many races, and it was there within the great walls of Patashqar that I was collared to my first Master after having been taken and enslaved in the desert sands, somewhere far north of Al-Quada-a-Dhum.

My name is Sarai, and the story of my slavery is not unique I suppose, as in a sense it began the moment when I lifted my head and became vaguely aware of screaming from every direction. The caravan I had travelled with lay scattered and in pieces as raiders ran amok, cutting and hacking their way through our scant defences. Flames licked at canvas canopies and wounded animals lay on the ground bellowing for a release from their pain. I had fallen during the initial attack onto the rough stony Hamada ground that represented this part of the desert. As I raised myself up to a crouching position, I saw a man in the flowing robes of the Bedouin tribes run for his life and be brought down violently by two of the raiders. A knife flashed in the midday sun and a bloody line appeared across the man’s throat. He fell dead on the smooth stones in the sand.

The raiders wore loose robes adorned with bones and the rough sandpaper like scales of certain desert lizards. They carried sharp blades of precision steel and as I watched I saw one of the raiders kick a man to the ground, reverse the sword in his hand and drive the point downwards through the man’s exposed back, impaling him where he lay.

I was barely twenty one years of age, and just two weeks ago I had made the mistake of leaving the oppressive and conservative safety of my family home to explore the world outside, intending to find some freedom from the strict rules of my desert tribe. I had wanted a life outside of veils and polite behaviour, but I had not reckoned with the dangers of travelling through the vast Hamada plains with a lightly armed caravan escort for company.

“Kill all the men, but take the women alive!” shouted one of the Raider Captains. He seized a screaming girl with his left hand as he gave the order, spun her round several feet and threw her to the ground where the hard stones grazed her knees and the palms of her hands. “Blood and souls for the desert Djinns!” He turned as the girl lay there at his feet and met one of the remaining caravan guards with the point of his razor sharp scimitar. The guard choked as the weapon sliced through his midriff. The girl screamed horribly as the bloodied corpse dropped to the ground a mere two feet from her.

“What is your name, girl?” The Raider Captain gritted his teeth as he braced his foot against the corpse and pulled his blade from the man’s gut.

“Narmineh! Daughter of Iqbal the silk trader! My father is rich and my ransom is…”

“You have no ransom!” He cuffed her with the back of his hand. The girl’s head snapped back and blood trickled from her open mouth as she lay there dazed. “You are Nisa now – slave. Beg for your life or I kill you where you lie.”

“Please! I beg for my life!” The girl placed her lips against the man’s boot and he moved the heavy blade away from her throat.

“Strip quickly, lie face down on the ground with your arms and legs in binding position. My men will secure you when they are finished with the business of killing.”

I had risen to my knees as the concussion from the fall gave way to a surge of adrenalin. I saw the huge raider turn and regard me now, as young Narmineh tore the fastenings from her gown and stripped herself on the hard desert floor at his feet.

“Another pretty one, and rich too, I bet.” The warrior grinned as he advanced upon me.

I still wore the expensive silk Gallabiya and over it the intricate and ornately embroidered Thobe Al Nasha-ar over garment that marked her me as the daughter of a wealthy man. None of that meant anything here now that the caravan was burning and the last few defenders were being systematically butchered. My few belongings lay somewhere in and around the over turned cart, but I still had a long desert knife hanging on a silver chain from my hip sash. My hand was shaking but still I drew the blade and held it in front of my body with both hands, the point facing towards the desert raider, for I would sell my life dear on this day. It was a long knife, more suitable for a man than a woman, but that was precisely why I had chosen it. I didn’t want to be thought of as just another demure daughter of a wealthy and respected merchant man. I wanted to be taken seriously for myself.

The raider swung his scimitar in a vicious arc and it caught the side of my desert knife. He was strong – very strong – and so my blade was simply slapped out of my hands before I knew what was happening. The fingers of my right hand felt numb and bruised from the impact as I scuttled backwards – the silk hem of my modest long skirt tearing against the rough stones on the Hamada floor.

“Point a knife at a man and he is within his rights to kill you, girl.”

I reached desperately under the rectangular length of cloth that was my formal outer garment and placed the fingers of my left hand on the hilt of the smaller hidden dagger that I kept concealed from everyone in the caravan. As the raider reached down to take hold of my hair, I displayed the stabbing knife in my hand and drove it into his outstretched arm. It drove through skin and flesh and pierced through the forearm.

The knife hilt tore from my hand as the raider staggered back, clutching his wounded limb. I had been unable to hold onto it after I struck. Now other raiders were taking an interest as the task of clearing away the last pockets of resistance was coming to an end.

Rough hands seized me and pulled me down onto my back. A fist cracked my face and for a moment I didn’t know where I was, until other hands began tearing and cutting my clothes from my body. I was stripped in minutes – my slim body exposed, naked to men for the first time in my life.

A scarred and sunburnt face thrust itself close to mine. I could smell strong alcohol on the man’s breath, and could see a white mush where a right eye once was. I screamed and fought desperately, but four men were holding me down and all I could move was my head. I snapped hard with my teeth at the man’s nose but he was quicker and seconds later I felt a fist drive hard into my stomach. I gagged as the breath left my body and then, choking, I was suddenly sick. The raiders laughed and smeared the vomit across my face.

“What sort of Lady would be sick in polite company!” said one of the men as he kicked me sharply in the ribs. I felt a hand brush against my sex, and fingers began probing. I screamed curses that I had never publicly mouthed before – words that officially I didn’t know, but unofficially had heard my father’s guards use when they were off duty. I felt the fingers move deep inside me and find resistance.

“We’ve got a blushing white silk girl for you, Omar! She made you bleed, so now you can make her bleed!” The men all laughed.

The raider with the wounded arm pushed the one eyed warrior out of the way and he took his place between my legs. His comrades then pulled my thighs apart.

“Leave me alone, sleen!” I swore. The man called Omar replied by taking a knife and placing it firmly in my mouth with the edges touching my lips.

“The only sound I want to hear from you now, girl, is ‘please Master, fuck me please’, understand? Say anything else and you won’t have a mouth left. Do I make myself clear?”

I nodded dumbly as blood trickled from the cuts the blade had already made to my mouth.

And then, as the other raiders proceeded to count the strokes of Omar’s thrusts, he proceeded to loosen his belt and slowly rape me until he came with a loud grunt. A smear of blood trickled down my thigh as Omar eventually withdrew and simply said, “Which of you motherless bastards is next?”

And so I became a slave-girl, a kajira. I belonged to this man, Omar, and in time, when he was sated from his use of me, he led me in chains to the city where he lived. Patashqar was a vibrant mixture of colours, scents, sounds and experiences. Taharian men and women dominated here and I soon understood why. Their warriors were better armed and more professionally drilled. There was an efficiency and vigour here that was missing from the desert sands where tribes seldom made alliances for long.

My new Master owned a large town house within the more affluent area of the city, away from the shrieking markets and the narrow winding streets of the labyrinth like centre – an area nicknamed the Maze by the thieves and cutthroats who lived there. His trade was not only in raiding for slaves, but also in buying and selling hashish – a hard resin like drug that induced a pleasant euphoric feeling in those who smoked or ate it. It grew in the east and was imported by caravans through the desert, following the silk routes that had originally been the primary source of wealth for Patashqar and other cities and towns founded along that way.

My slavery within the city was easier than it might have been elsewhere, for I was kept clean – my hair was long and healthy looking and I wore clean clothes. I enjoyed two good meals a day and my work, though hard, wasn’t cruel. Provided I did as I was told I could enjoy a bearable life. But the possibilities inherent in Patashqar made me dream of freedom. At night as I lay in my straw filled pen I would touch the steel collar around my throat and try to remember the soft beds and comforts of my father's house where I had lived as a Free Woman.

“Mistress is late,” I said as the cloaked and hooded figure of Lady Serafina entered the upstairs room of the seedy and run down inn that stood close to the Maze sector of the city. The woman’s hand shook as she closed the door and lowered the hood of her cloak to reveal a soft, beautiful Taharian face framed with long olive dark hair.

“You told me not to be seen leaving the house. I had to wait until our guards had completed their sweep near the back gates and then I made my way through the leather workers district for anonymity’s sake.”

“That was clever of you Mistress.” I stepped forward to help the woman – my Mistress - remove the heavy embroidered cloak. Underneath it she wore a long multi-layered gown of pale blue silk and underneath that there would be a slightly longer white cotton shift to render the silk opaque and decent. “You spoke to the House Master about me?”

“Yes – I did as you suggested. He will not include you in the role call tonight. He will not expect to lock you in the pens. I told him you would be serving me this evening.”

I smiled softly. “That was well done, Mistress. You did well.” Then I hung the cloak up on a wall peg. “I brought something for you to drink to calm your nerves.” I indicated a decanter on the bare table, alongside a ceramic cup.

“That was thoughtful of you.” The Free Companion of Omar sat down on the only chair within the room and smoothed down the silk around her legs as I poured a small measure of the liquor into the cup and presented it to the woman. It was strong liquor – a local drink that resembled brandy. The Lady Serafina coughed a little as she sipped it.

“Please drink all of it, Mistress. It will help.”

The Free Woman nodded and did so, taking five swallows before the cup was empty. She felt a burning sensation in her throat and stomach, but as promised she did feel a little calmer now.

I knelt by the chair so that I could unlace the calf length boots that Serafina wore. They had two inch heels to raise the hem line of the skirt above the dust and sand that covered the city streets after the desert winds had blown through the city.

“Can I see my disguise?” asked Serafina as she flexed her toes and touched the rough wooden floor. The boards in this room were sanded but not varnished and so the grain felt harsh against her soft feet.

I smiled and took Serafina’s hand, guiding her to her feet. I ignored the question for the moment and fussed around the fastenings of the silk dress, peeling it away in layers. “This will be an evening to remember Mistress.”

“I hope so. But I feel very nervous. I will be safe in the Maze, won’t I?”

“Slaves are safe enough in the maze, Mistress. No one bothers them much – they have nothing worth stealing after all.”

Serafina stood in her white sheath like under garment and crossed her arms about her chest as I moved to hang the silk dress up beside the hooded cloak. “But I’m not a slave…”

“But tonight you will be disguised as one. And no one will know the truth if they look at you.”

Serafina had been curious for some time what the Maze was like. Her life after all was boring in comparison. As the Free Companion of a politically arranged relationship she enjoyed none of the love and close companionship that came through relationships of the heart, and with Omar often away for long periods of time conducting his business affairs and raiding across the desert sands, she was left to sit in the safety of her courtyard garden during the day and read books at night. Omar had companioned her because she was well educated and of a high caste, and that meant that as a desert born outsider he would be grudgingly accepted amongst the ruling classes of the city. That she was beautiful too was an added bonus to his prestige. I wasn’t too sure what Serafina had gained from the companionship, but I suspected it was probably money. Many of the blue blood families were heavily in debt to the money lenders and a companionship to Omar would no doubt have cleared those debts away. Serafina had few friends in this city and so for the last few months she had confided more and more to her personal body slave - myself. I had dutifully listened with interest as the young woman spoke of her loneliness and her isolation; of the feeling of being trapped behind the high walls within the mercantile sector of the city. I in turn had often spoken of the exciting and colourful Souks I had found within the Maze sector – of the lights and the carnivals; of the jugglers, the clowns, the acrobats, the story tellers, the dancing girls, the streets lined with alcoves selling all manner of goods – some legal and some not. But whenever Serafina had expressed an interest in seeing the place, I had always paused and reminded her that it was not a safe place for Free Women to venture into.

“But you walk there without any concern,” Serafina had said after I had told her of an open air street theatre that had staged a comedy by a popular playwright.

“Slaves can pass freely of course. You would have nothing to fear if you looked and dressed like I do.”

The seed had been planted, and for several weeks it nurtured and grew in the Lady’s head until one day she spoke the words I had waited to hear.

“If I looked like a slave… resembled a slave… I could walk there with you, and see the things you describe?”

“Oh yes, Mistress,” I said as if this was something that had never occurred to me in a million years. “You would see such wonderful things. Mistress is very clever. That possibility had not crossed my mind.”

Serafina blushed at the thought and added, “My Free Companion, Omar, of course would not need to know. He is away on business for three weeks, leaving at the weekend. I could travel with you one night and be back at home by the morning. It would be our secret, dear Sarai.”

“What a clever Mistress I have,” I said. “You think of everything. Why, it would be a simple enough matter to make some excuse so that you would not be missed for an evening.”

“Yes, yes, that could be done.” Serafina thought of several possible excuses for being absent for a night that she could give to her household staff. “This would be discrete, yes?”

“Oh very discrete, Mistress. No one would know where I would take you. Absolutely no one. You no doubt have in mind a plan where I rent a room in a house close to the Maze quarter itself, a room in which we could meet early in the evening and change your clothes?”

“Yes – that sounds sensible.”

“My Mistress is so clever. She thinks of everything. I have just the place in mind. An Inn where rooms can be rented for a few hours and no questions are asked. The owner is only interested in coins.”

“It is an exciting thought, Sarai.”

“Yes it is, Mistress.”

The conversation had occurred three days ago, and now tonight the woman stood in her under gown in the discrete and quiet room on the second floor of Reynard’s Inn. I had paid Reynard in advance and had told him that he would see a cloaked and hooded woman arrive, but that he should ignore any comings and goings after that. He raised a curious eyebrow but at the sight of the minted coins in his hand he agreed not to ask any questions. He thought it was strange doing business with a slave girl, but when I assured him I was acting on the behalf of my Mistress who had provided me with the money, he accepted that as the likely truth. Where else would I have acquired the coins from after all?

There were multiple laces tied in small bows down the length of the back of Serafina’s under gown. I loosened each bow and carefully slid the final garment from the body of my Mistress. Serafina was now more bared than I was, for as a slave girl I at least wore a white sleeveless tunic and sandals. It was a common tunic for slave girls – cheaply available in the markets. The design was essentially a long panel of cloth with a hole in the centre for the head. The material then hung down the body, leaving the sides bare. A belt was tied with a slip knot around the waist, holding the material in place, covering both the front and back of the slave. Commonly in the city the hemline fell halfway to the slave’s knees.

Serafina was expecting to wear a garment like mine and she was surprised therefore when I instead produced a long silk scarf from the tabletop. I hung the scarf – it was white and semi-transparent – around Serafina’s neck and arranged it so that the two lengths fell in equal measures over the front of the woman’s body. The lengths of silk were crossed in an x shape over Serafina’s breasts and then drawn between her legs, pressing closely over her sex. I drew the ends behind my Mistress and crossed them again, belting the ends around the woman’s waist. I then knotted the ends in a slip knot, on the left side of the women’s body. The free hanging wisps of silk dangled from her left hip enticingly, brushing against her bare knee.

“I don’t understand,” said Serafina as she felt the tight silk across her body. “Why have you done this?”

“You can’t go onto the street naked, Mistress.” I stepped back and admired my handiwork.

“What else will I be wearing?”

“Nothing Mistress. Just that.”

“Sarai!” Serafina looked shocked, and more than that – she looked scared at the prospect of being seen by men like this. “This is outrageous! I will not walk the streets like this! No – my mind is made up. I made a mistake. The evening is now cancelled. We shall instead return…”

“Sssh!” I suddenly placed my fingers to my lips and looked very worried.

“What?” Serafina looked alarmed at my sudden reaction although she didn’t understand what had triggered it. “What’s wrong?”

“Did you not hear, Mistress?”

“Hear? Hear what? I heard nothing?”

“Stealthy feet in the corridor outside our door – approaching very quietly.”

“No… I heard no such…”

“There it is again!” I took hold of my Mistress’s arm. “There are men! Men outside! It is as I feared!”

“Sarai! What is going on?!”

“Oh Mistress... we are in such danger...”

“Danger?!” Serafina allowed me to take her into my arms as her ears strained to hear any sound behind that wooden door.

“You must have been followed by slave hunters who operate on the fringes of the Maze! Oh my poor Mistress! They must have seen a hooded and cloaked woman entering this Inn on her own! Oh Mistress! I should have considered the possibility! And now they will find us here alone...”

“What do we do?”

“We must flee… while we still have the chance. There is a fire escape of sorts outside the window. Quick! Hurry!”

“But my clothes!” Serafina was still clad in just the wisp of silk stretched around her slim body.

“There is no time! Quick! Before they realise what we are doing!” I led Serafina to the window and helped her through onto the steps outside. Despite the urgency I found time to scoop up a small sack that I had already placed beside the window before Serafina arrived. We ran down to the first floor where we had to jump the final distance to the alleyway below. Together we landed on the street below.

“Where to?”

“The Maze – we must hope to lose them in there – they will be watching the street outside the Inn. Come.” I took my Mistress’s arm rather forcefully as I led the frightened woman deep into the labyrinth of winding streets that was the Maze district. “Whatever you do, don’t run in the Maze. If you run the people here will think you have something of value. Walk slowly – swing your hips – think like a slave.” My hands moved to Serafina’s waist.

“You’re posing me! Like a slave!”

“Sshh! Don’t attract attention to yourself here. You’re just a slave now if anyone looks at you. Just a common slave.” I pulled my Mistress into a recessed doorway as a couple of thieves strolled past on their way to perform a couple of burglaries that night. One of them pinched Serafina’s ass as he strolled by and the woman let out a sharp yelp in surprise. I meanwhile had reached into my small Hessian sack. “Just one more thing. Turn round and face the wall, Mistress.”

“Why?” Serafina did as she was told, but she was confused by this sudden and unexpected turn of events. Right now her heart was beating furiously with fear and a sense of desperation. She felt vulnerable dressed like this, lost in the pitch dark of the side streets of the Maze district. The only light came from street lanterns, but more often than not many of them had gone out for lack of oil.

“I need to complete your disguise, Mistress.”

“Disguise? It’s a bit late for that isn’t it? Oh!” She gasped as her hair was lifted away from the back of her neck and a cold steel collar encircled her throat.

“You will attract too much attention unless you’re collared, Mistress.”

“I don’t want to be collared!” She tried to push away from the plaster coated wall, but I pushed her forward again to hold her there gently.

“It’s for your own good, Mistress.” The collar locked shut with a click. Serafina’s hands flew to the steel around her throat and she felt a number of fine marks engraved into the surface of the metal. “Surely you understand the necessity? Look at you – you are dressed like a pleasure slave in that thin silk scarf… without a collar you would not belong to anyone in which case the first man who saw you like that would take you for himself. Is that what you want? To be seized, and locked in steel, and raped? To end up on an auction block? Is that what you want Mistress?”

“No, no… of course not!”

“Then you understand why you must be collared?”

“Yes, yes… I’m sorry Sarai…” The touch of the collar was worrying. Surely she now looked like a real slave?

“You could be a little more grateful, Mistress.”

“Thank you Sarai, thank you… please look after me…”

“You understand I am only doing this for your own good?”

“Yes, of course you are! I will wear the collar. Of course I will. There is writing here on this collar. What does it say?”

“I do not know Mistress. It is too dark for me to read. It is probably just a standard script of some kind that denotes who you belong to.”

“Where did you get the collar? Does it belong to my house?”

“No Mistress, it does not. It belongs to the House of Draco.”

Serafina turned round and pressed her back against the alley wall. She was lost and collared in the most dangerous district of the city. Only I knew that way out. “The House of Draco? What is that?”

“A tavern of sorts I believe, but that is surely not important now. It is only a disguise after all.”

“Help me Sarai!”

“I am Mistress. We are safe now, I think. But be quiet. I must listen for footsteps.”

I meanwhile produced the second item, also held within the Hessian sack. “Stand very still Mistress. The light here is dim and I need to attach this to your collar.”

“Attach what?” The light was bad in the doorway of the alley. The nearest street lantern was over twenty yards away. Serafina felt something click against a ring that hung from her collar.

“A leash Mistress. Just a standard slave leash.” I gave it an experimental tug and found it controlled Serafina very well.

“Why have you leashed me?!”

“A precaution Mistress. The streets are very dark – I wouldn’t want to risk us being separated. You wouldn’t want to be separated from me in the middle of the Maze would you?” I looped the free end of the tether several times around my left wrist.

“No! No, I wouldn’t, Sarai… I’d never find my way out alone…” She was very scared now, imagining she could hear the quiet footsteps of the supposed slave hunters somewhere in the distance.

“Then you understand the necessity of leashing you?”

“Like a slave?”

“Yes, just like a slave.”

Serafina nodded quickly, though she didn’t like the idea of being leashed. That too made her look like a slave. “Are they close? Can you hear them?”

“I think so, yes – we had better move deeper into the Maze to lose them. Come, follow me – take quick steps.”

“My feet hurt – there are so many stones and the dry sand is harsh against my soft feet…”

“Quiet, Mistress – do you want the slave hunters to hear you?”

She fell quickly quiet as she hurried along behind me – a leashed and collared slave as far as any of the inhabitants of the Maze were concerned. We passed quickly through more bewildering side streets – streets that I knew well from the many errands I had run through them in the past months. At night the Maze was very sinister and Serafina found herself shrinking back in fear whenever strangers approached.

“I want to go home.”

“We can’t go home. Not with you dressed like that. But don’t worry Mistress, I shall hide you somewhere safe.”

“Please, Sarai – don’t tug the leash like that – there is no need – I’m following you as quickly as I can!”

“But Mistress, this is how slaves are led. Do you wish the men here to grow suspicious? Do you want them to guess that you are not truly a slave?”

“No… but…”

“But what?”

Serafina fell silent as she continued to follow me, even when I gave the leash another sharp tug. After ten minutes of confusing turns through the cramped streets, I paused at a recessed door in one of the alleyways. “This will do. We can hide you here until the slave hunters pass by.”

Serafina glanced up. There was a lantern burning above the door and a sign. She read the words and stiffened where she stood.

“This is the House of Draco!”

“Is it?” I gazed up at the sign in surprise. “What a coincidence. But what of it?”

“The collar I wear… you said it is from the House of Draco.”

I dismissed this fact with a sweep of my free hand. “What luck! Surely no one will question your presence here then. Fortune does indeed smile upon you tonight, Mistress. Come.” I jerked the leash hard and made Serafina follow me into the crowded, smoke filled tavern.

There were no free women in residence here – just free men – outlaws, thieves, brigands, and off duty soldiers. The women that did occupy space in the tavern were slaves of various sorts and they all wore collars marking them as the property of Draco.

“I don’t think we should stay here,” whispered Serafina.

“We have little choice, Mistress, for the slaver hunters are surely right behind us.”

“Sarai… I really don’t think I have heard them at all tonight…”

“They have tried their best to be quiet, I agree. Look – an alcove that is free. We can hide in there.”

The alcoves were set into the walls, and each one was big enough to house a comfortable looking couch. Men would take slaves there, draw back the velvet drapes and enjoy the girls in relative privacy for the price of a copper coin. It was to one such alcove that I force marched my Mistress.

“Let us return to the Inn, Sarai. I think we should risk the slave hunters, for I truly haven’t heard them…”

“Oh Mistress, I can’t let you take such a foolish risk.” I took Serafina’s hand and pushed the woman onto the couch. Several men had noticed us with interest, and so I quickly drew the curtain back. Serafina scrambled around on the couch and as she did so her left foot brushed a short length of chain that was attached to the alcove wall.

“What is this?”

I picked up the length of chain and demonstrated the workings of the steel ankle clasp at its extremity. “A slave bracelet, Mistress, attached to a length of chain. It is used to secure a girl and keep her safe.”

“Safe?!” Serafina couldn’t believe her ears.

“Yes, a girl is quite safe when she is secured. Give me your ankle.”

“No!” Serafina pulled her ankle away, but I simply grabbed it and snapped the ankle clasp in place. My Mistress howled and tried to leave the alcove but the length of chain didn’t permit her to pass through the curtain. “Where is the key?”

I shrugged. “You would have to ask Draco. I do not know his arrangements in such matters.”

“We can’t stay here!”

“Plainly you can Mistress. You are quite well secured.” I checked the coupling of the chain to the wall and was quite satisfied that even the strongest of men would be unable to pull it free without the use of tools. “Now I am going to leave you for a while. You must be quiet otherwise you may attract unwanted attention to yourself.”

Serafina’s face went white and she began to plead with me but to no avail for I had already left the alcove, drawing the curtains shut again. I walked halfway across the floor before a tall man blocked my path and placed his hand on my ass.

“I don’t work here Master.” I raised my chin so that the man could view the script on my collar. “But a girl has just been chained in that alcove over there. She is currently free for your use if you would care to try her.”

The man grinned and slapped my ass before he strolled towards Serafina’s alcove.

Ten minutes later I was back at Reynard’s Inn and was hurriedly dressing in Serafina’s fine clothes. This was my chance to escape – to flee the city and the confines of slavery – to be free again! I searched for the key to the collar around my throat but Serafina had not carried it with her. There was no reason why she should have of course, but it meant that I would still be collared in steel following my escape. But that was a problem for another day. Tonight, dressed head to foot as a free woman, and with the collar hidden beneath the folds of the cloak, I was at last free again!

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