Monday, 16 October 2017

Shadows of Gor Chapter Two (of 18)

Chapter Two: Queen Bitch

“Lady Cassandra, it is my great pleasure to welcome you back to the Sardar. As always, you grace us with your charm and exquisite refinement, and I speak personally for the entire household in Brinn's absence when I say that your visits are always a delight. May I offer you our full hospitality, and I place myself at your personal service in all things. I consider your word to be the word of Brinn, my friend and patron.”

Sadly, Simon wasn’t making any of this up for comic effect. I listened to him greet Cassandra with the warmest tones possible as I knelt in the dirt in the grounds facing the villa with the Household slaves lined up behind me for inspection. Cassandra had been carried to this spot in her gilded palanquin, and now her retinue of warriors had lined up in three ranks either side of her conveyance, standing proud with spears and shields and crested helmets in the Gorean manner. Simon had assembled Brinn’s own warriors to face them, not as any sort of challenge of course, but rather as a welcome since both sets of warriors in a sense belonged to the same family house.

The fact was, much as I hated to admit it, Simon really like Cassandra, and to make matters worse, she felt the same way about him.

I actually liked Simon. He seemed to be a good and moral man. So why did he have to like bitch-Queen, Cassandra?

“Kind, noble, Simon, you are and always have been a good and treasured friend of my brother, and a credit to his House.” Cassandra had stepped down onto an exquisitely woven rug from the Tahari that had been spread on the ground beneath the steps of her palanquin. She wore clothes of dazzling finery, richly embroidered and multi layered. Her eyes shone with kohl from above her veils, and it was possible to catch a glimpse of her softly curled chestnut hair peeking out from beneath the rich velvets of her hood. She looked a small petite figure, elegantly waisted, as she faced Simon and returned his greeting. “Your words of welcome, as always, are heartfelt and precious to me. It has been too long, kind, noble Simon.”

And then, as she had done once or twice in the past, she placed her small gloved hands on the backs of Simon’s larger hands. It was a daring and audacious thing for a Free Woman to do, even while her hands were gloved, for she was in a sense placing her hands within the proximity of a man’s where he could easily seize her wrists and overpower her. Symbolically it was tantamount to an act of implied submission on the part of a woman, had Simon and she been but casual acquaintances, but the fact was over the last couple of years they had become quite close. They had spent time together on her previous visits, seated fairly close together in Brinn’s cloistered gardens, conversing in a dignified manner with slaves in attendance to wait upon them. It had actually reached the point where Cassandra might converse with Simon, wearing only the two inner most layers of her veils, allowing him to see the sheer outline of her lower face and lips through the thin gauze. At times they sat close enough together that Simon could be enraptured by her expensive perfume and almost, but not quite, brush her knee with his.

It pained me that they liked one another so much. There was even talk that they might at some point begin formally courting one another with a long term view of entering into a year's contract of Free Companionship.

For Cassandra’s part she found the attention Simon gave her to be very welcome indeed. You must remember that Simon was not like the usual men of Gor – he still retained many of the qualities of an Earth man, and the presence of Cassandra dressed in such refinements contrasted greatly with the sexually alluring slave-girls he was used to seeing on the estate, for Free Women rarely visited Brinn's estate, and if they did it was usually in the company of a Free Companioned man, and therefore off limits romantically speaking. To Simon's mind I suppose she appeared to be a woman of elegant status – the very personification of courtly romantic love. I suppose she appealed to his fantasies of being Aragorn courting Arwynn in the Lord of the Rings. She gave the image of being a woman to whom he might swear a blood oath on the hilt of his sword and for her sake embark on great quests to a slay a monster. When Cassandra was in attendance Simon barely looked at the slave girls, and this was a unique experience for Cassandra, for Gorean men tended to prefer the more immediate and earthy delights of slave flesh, especially well trained slave flesh, to the effort and frustrations of courting a Free Woman over time with respect and dignity.

Cassandra, like most Free Women, resented the fact that Gorean men seemed only interested in slaves, so Simon's affections were very welcome. And as I've noted before, Simon is handsome, and thanks to Brinn's training, quite muscular now. I could see how he might appeal to a Gorean Free Woman who hadn't been touched in months, if ever. For it is hard to be a Free Woman if you have sexual desires. Men expect you to be chaste and pure. They only respect you if you are. Show signs of sexual desire and men will disapprove. You are a Free Woman after all – such feelings are only appropriate in slaves. And so you are expected to make no attempt to seek out sex. If you are lucky, a man might take an interest in you, though with so many slaves available to him you will have little opportunity to compete in terms of desirability. Often your value to the man will be economic, political, or maybe to produce children for his line. Sex then might be simply an exercise in duty or for child bearing, and the man will seek his real pleasures  with slave-girls, leaving the Free Companioned woman for the most part lonely and unfulfilled.

No, it is not easy being a Free Woman on Gor.       

“I have taken the liberty of preparing a bouquet for your suite of rooms,” said Simon as he motioned for Shannon and Chloe to step forward. Their arms were full to bursting with an abundant array of freshly cut and arranged flowers of magnificent colours, including many of Brinn’s most prized orchids. Both girls were dressed now of course in very modest tunics with closed necklines and hem lines that covered their knees. They looked demure and almost virginal as they knelt and presented the flowers for Cassandra to examine.

“Simon, they are beautiful. So very beautiful. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” She pulled one orchid from the arrangement held by Chloe and placed it gently to her nose. Even the way she sniffed the flower seemed the epitome of feminine grace. “You are so thoughtful. So kind.” And now she gazed up at him, and for a few moments their eyes locked before Simon awkwardly cleared his throat and looked away, obviously feeling the moment was too intimate for such a public place.

Yes, it really annoyed me that they liked each other so much. Because to me the bitch was nothing but spiteful and cruel.

“It is good to see you again, Simon,” said Cassandra. “I apologise of course for not sending advance word of my visit, but as I will explain to you later, these are not ordinary circumstances.”

“No apology is necessary, gentle Lady. Consider this estate your home away from home. All our resources are at your disposal, and I personally swear my life and my sword to protect you during your stay.”

I remained stoic, kneeling on the ground beside the other girls, though deep down I felt like rolling my eyes in dismay. My opinion of Simon was plummeting rapidly.

“Your words comfort me, as always. I only wish the nature of my visit was kinder than in truth it has to be, but I will talk of such things later when I have changed from my travelling clothes and refreshed myself inside the villa.”

“You will dine with me tonight, Lady?” asked Simon. “I will have a banquet arranged in your honour. Dare I ask whether you might do me the honour of perhaps sharing my table?”

“It would be an honour, Simon.” Her eyes sparkled with pleasure at the thought.

I was growing heartily sick of this as I watched. I glanced back at the line of girls in their modest house tunics and satisfied myself they were kneeling correctly with their thighs together. I also studied the impassive faces of the male slaves in their clean work tunics. They were under the watchful gaze of a dozen or so of Brinn’s warriors, for unlike the female slaves, their obedience required rather more supervision. I didn’t think any of them would do anything stupid, but you can never fully tame a Gorean man. I could of course have any one of them beaten if I so wished. It felt good to have authority over male slaves. They resented my power of course, for no Gorean man relishes being under the control of a woman. Imagine then the humiliation of being under the authority of a woman who is herself a slave?

But yes, it amused me to know that I could strike a male slave with impunity, and he would have to accept it. If he dared so much as resist, or raise a hand to defend himself, Brinn’s men would have him slowly impaled on the villa’s walls. I was untouchable as far as male slaves were concerned. But I don’t think I really abused my power.

Not really.

“And now, I am sure you would like to see Brinn’s children,” said Simon as he motioned for Chloe to bring them forward. Chloe had passed her arm full of bouquets to one of Cassandra’s slaves and now she smiled sweetly and brought Marik and Jacinta forward to stand beside Simon. Simon then presented them to their Aunt, Cassandra. I felt a sense of pride as I saw how regal Jacinta looked. Shannon had brushed her hair until it was glossy, and had dressed my daughter in a pretty ankle length gown of peach silk with flared sleeves that ended in lace. Not even quite five years old, and yet she stood like a Ubara. Marik had been scrubbed and brushed clean but had still managed to get fresh grass stains on his knees and elbows. Despite this he resembled a tiny Gorean warrior in his scarlet tunic with a fur trimmed white cloak held by a golden chain. But my pride at their appearance was tempered by sadness that I could not present them myself. Despite being their mother, I was a slave-girl, and it would not do for a slave-girl to present the children of Brinn in any official public capacity. Simon had taken it upon himself to fulfil that role in Brinn’s absence. He did it with kindness and understanding for my feelings, and yet my heart felt torn as I saw my children standing there without me by their side.

I love you both so much, I thought to myself. More than anything, you are my world.

Cassandra was genuinely delighted to see them. Despite her hatred of me, she loved her niece and nephew and it showed.

“Amita,” cried Marik as he ran forward and hugged Cassandra around the legs. She laughed softly as she beckoned for Jacinta to come to her too. Jacinta of course did not run, rather she walked every bit as gracefully as Cassandra might. But she too was happy to see her ‘Amita’; her aunt.

“Marik! I hardly recognised you,” said Cassandra in a very convincing tone of voice. “Who is this strong new warrior serving my brother, I thought to myself, as I saw you standing beside the Lady Jacinta?”

Marik loved to hear this. He puffed himself up and showed Cassandra the muscles in his right arm. “I have my own sword now, Amita,” he said as he quickly drew the wooden blade from its scabbard. “I hunt Kurii down by the river.”

“How wonderful!” Cassandra hugged them both, and as she did she turned them slightly away from my view. “Valour like that must be rewarded. I have presents for you both. A silken gown for Jacinta from fashionable Ar, but for you my mighty warrior, I have had a crested helm made in the forges of Vonda to fit your head. Your first war helm!”

Marik squealed with excitement and began to beg his aunt for the helm.

“Soon, my precious boy, very soon. But for now content yourself with some chocolates from Lara.” She motioned with her left hand and one of her house slaves produced a gilt edged box stuffed with crumpled sugar paper and filled with expensive chocolates with truffle centres. I watched, feeling sad and powerless, as Marik and even Jacinta broke all their composure to scrabble gleefully around Cassandra’s skirts in their haste to stuff rich chocolates in their mouths.

I could never give my children presents of course, for as a slave I owned nothing. I could only give them my undying love.

I saw Chloe glance at me, and I could tell she knew I was hurting inside. But still, I looked up with a sense of pride for my wonderful children. They were mine. No one could ever deny that. They had come from me, and I was their mother.

And then came the moment that couldn’t be postponed indefinitely. Simon navigated Cassandra across some unrolled carpet rugs towards the line of household slaves who at my signal all lowered their heads to the ground in submission before this important Free Woman. I did so too, not daring to look at her until she gave the command for us to raise our heads. I hated being a slave at that moment in time. I was nothing now, not even worthy of standing before my children. I was aware of her slippers close to where I knelt and submitted. I could sense her standing there, gazing down at me, with Simon close by. I felt angry, ashamed, and powerless. This was my home! On Earth I would have shared the status of my husband. Here on Gor I was a slave. Yes I was first amongst slaves, but that counted for little when it came to Free Women.

“I am so absent minded when it comes to these silly slave-girls,” said Cassandra after a while. “Remind me of her name again?” She was addressing Simon of course.

“That is Emma, the First Girl on the estate.” Simon was discrete enough not to mention the obvious, that I was also the mother of Brinn’s children. He knew, I think, that it was a touchy subject as far as Cassandra was concerned.

“Raise your head, Emma. Look at me, girl.”

I did so, lifting my head slowly and gazing up at the woman in her exquisite veils and soft silken gowns of concealment.

“My brother still favours you, then?” she said with a bitter smile.

I swallowed hard and nodded, not knowing quite what to say. “I am his girl, Mistress.”

“Quite. He does seem inexplicably fond of you.” Her eyes flashed as she regarded me closely. “My brother has a thing for sluts it seems.”

“Yes, Mistress.”

“Earth born sluts in particular.”

“Yes Mistress.” I swallowed again, burning inside with anger.

“Because Earth girls are natural sluts, aren’t they, Emma?”

“Yes, Mistress, they are.”

“They?” Her voice now had an edge of bitterness to it, and just a touch of icy warning.

“I meant, 'we', Mistress, not they. We are.”

“Stand up and strip,” said Cassandra without warning. I complied immediately, though I couldn’t think why she had ordered me to do so. She wasn’t so cruel that she would beat me without at least the contrivance of an excuse, and so far there hadn’t been time for me to give her one. I stood and pulled the tunic from my body and as I did so the slight intake of her breath made me realise why she had given the order. I stood there naked but for the iron belt around my sex. She knew. Oh God, she knew.

“So it’s true.” She reached out and touched the belt with a pursing of her lips beneath her veil. “My brother intends using you as breeding stock again.”

Breeding stock… oh, how I hated the Lady Cassandra. “Yes Mistress,” I said meekly.

“You would suppose, wouldn’t you, Emma, that a gentle Free Companion from the Sardar might be more appropriate to gift my brother with further children?”

“Yes, Mistress.”

“It seems I suppose that my brother has fallen for a ‘love slave’.” She spoke that phrase with a sense of derision, as if to imply a weakness of sorts. Many, many men would agree with her, for the concept of men taking and falling in love with a single slave was viewed as soft in some quarters. Not that any man would ever suggest that to Brinn’s face. “I suppose every great man is permitted a single character flaw.”

I tried my best to stay calm and respectful, but it was far from easy.

“You are fertile at the moment?” Cassandra lifted my chin with the fingers of her right hand.

“I am, Mistress, hence the belt.”

“Slut,” she said again.

“Yes Mistress.”

“I suppose the belt is necessary then, as I imagine you're the sort of cheap girl who whimpers and crawls after men every chance you can get, whenever you're in heat. I despise girls like you.”

“Yes Mistress.” I imagined rising up from the floor and punching the insufferable bitch in the face, breaking her nose with my fist. But it would be the death of me, and Brinn would be home soon.


Dozens of girls gazed up at me from the floor of the slave pens where they knelt. I was First Girl, and at times like this they looked to me to say something that might help. I knew them all by name and I felt a sense of responsibility, especially to the new girls who were still making the transition from being free.

“You don’t need me to tell you the obvious,” I began as I knelt facing them all. Chloe sat beside me as my second here. “We have a Free Woman in residence, and the truth is she hates me. This means if any of you get into trouble I will have little or no influence to help you out. If Brinn was here things would be different, but he’s not. Simon will be sympathetic, but he can’t or rather won’t overrule the Lady Cassandra. This means you all have to be extremely careful for the next few days. If you even think there’s a possibility she might be close by, do not under any circumstances appear to be a sexual threat. She will have you whipped if she sees you behaving in any way that she considers salacious. She is a Free Woman. You know what that means.”

Many of the girls shifted uneasily and glanced at one another. We all feared Free Women.

“Don’t think the men will protect you, because they won’t dare to stand up to Brinn’s sister. She is of his House. They know she has his implicit authority. The men may pity you, but they are in Brinn’s service and they will obey. Shannon – you have something you want to say?” I noticed she had her hand up.

“Mistress, you know it’s not a question of what we want to do. The men will make use of us regardless. We have no choice in the matter.”

“I know. I know. It’s hardly your fault. I don’t know what to tell you. If a man makes use of you, and the Lady Cassandra sees it, she will blame you. She will be cruel.”

“But we can hardly tell the men to leave us be,” said Shannon. “They will whip us or worse.”

“I know. All I can suggest is you use your initiative and if a man wants you, if a man is touching you, try your best to lead him somewhere private. Entice him. Promise him great things, anything to get him to take you somewhere private. And be demure in public. Play down your sexuality. The men will understand why you’re doing that. Most of the men here are reasonable and they will not wish you to be whipped in the open square. Tell them the situation. Some of the men have you as favourites. They are fond of you. They do not want you to suffer. Candice, you have something to add?”

Candice had put her hand in the air. “Mistress, how long will the Free Woman be staying here?”

“I don’t know. Just a few days I hope. I don’t understand why she’s come here while Brinn is away. Simon says she has an announcement to make at the feast tonight, but I would have thought she’d want to share it with her brother in attendance. I don’t know her very well. I don’t really understand the way she thinks. But remember, she’ll be looking for any excuse to find fault with us. Don’t give her anything she can use.”


My plan for that night was simple in its brilliance. I was going to be as insignificant as possible during the banquet meal and take advantage of my First Girl status to be nowhere near Bitch Queen Cassandra throughout the evening. Supervising from afar was the obvious way to go, and if she couldn’t see me then she probably couldn’t think to make my life a misery.

Unfortunately all my clever plans were shot down the moment she informed Simon I was to be the serving girl at their personal table.

“She hates me! You know she hates me!” I said to Simon as he broke the news to me in the kitchens where I was overseeing Gilla and five of the other girls as they prepared the food.

“She doesn’t hate you, Emma. Well, not you personally – she just feels awkward around slaves.”

“Awkward around slaves?!” I had always been able to speak without hesitation to Simon, expressing myself in ways I wouldn’t have dared to do to any Gorean man. By and large Simon accepted freedom of expression from me on account of our shared past and the fact that I was from Earth. But even so he winced and urged me to caution as I let out a tirade of complaints regarding Cassandra, and gave him a frank and honest assessment of her character, possibly comparing her to a she-Sleen in the process.

“Emma, you can’t say things like that. I’ll pretend I didn’t hear any of it.”

“Ohhhh!” I clenched my fists in frustration and stomped about the tiled floor, much to the alarm of the other girls. “You can’t put me to serving your table! She’ll find fault with everything I do! You know she will!”

“I’ll be seated there too, Emma, so I’ll ensure things go smoothly. You’re an experienced slave-girl. As long as your service is pleasing, I can’t see there will be any problems.”

“Simon! She hates me!”

“Emma, look… I think you shouldn’t really call me by my name in public.” He drew me aside by my arm, gently so as not to hurt me. The other girls tried not to be too obvious in the way they were obviously listening in on our conversation. A few of them were amazed I was able to use a man’s name to his face without being punished. “When we’re in public you really should call me Master. Just for appearances sake. And please, let’s not have a hissy fit.”

“Hissy fit?!” I stomped about the floor some more and knocked over a set of pots to express my annoyance. Quickly, Anya hurried over to pick them up.

“Emma, you really are reading too much into this. You know how to serve well, just keep our goblets topped up, be quick to respond to commands, try to look demure, and…”


“Emma, please… just work with me on this. I’ll be engaging the Lady Cassandra in conversation the whole time. Why, I suspect she’ll hardly notice you.”

“Oh, she’s going to notice me all right. Trust me on that.”

Simon pressed the knuckles of his right hand between his eyes in a pained expression. “Emma, I don’t know why we’re even having this conversation. You’re a slave-girl. You have to do what I say.”

“Or what? You’re going to beat me? You’re going to whip me? Huh? Is that what you’re going to do? Okay…” I stormed off towards a wall rack and removed a slave crop and carried it over to Simon. “Here! Here’s a slave crop. Go on then! Beat me, if that’s what get’s you going!” I thrust the crop towards him, but Simon waved it away.

“You know I don’t want to beat you, Emma. Please…”

“Why not? Haven’t you become a misogynist Gorean pig by now? Don’t you want to show everyone what a tough man you are on Gor? Go on, why don't you – I’m only a slave – you said so just now. That’s how you see me. A slave! Just like all the other men do!”

“Emma, please calm down. You know I don’t see you like that. But… but I mean you are a slave. I mean, you have to obey. Don’t make this difficult for me. The other girls can hear us.”

“Fine! Fine! I’ll wait at your stupid table and pour your stupid drinks!” I crossed my arms and turned my back on him. The other girls in the kitchen stared aghast that I was able to talk like this to a man on the estate. Surely I would be whipped to within an inch of my life for this? But no – if anything, Simon seemed driven to placate me. Of course had I spoken like this to any other man on the estate I would have regretted it instantly.

And so later that evening there I was, dressed in a simple but modest shift of white cotton, slightly baggy and not belted, so as to conceal the alluring lines of my figure. The other girls in the hall were similarly dressed. We were all freshly scrubbed but wore only subtle perfumes and minimal makeup. Simon and Cassandra dined together at the high table, while other members of the Household dined at other tables spread out across the hall. Musicians played from a raised stage, and Simon had ordered the hall decorated with garlands of greenery and many large baskets of flowers suspended from chains from the ceiling. Vertical poles with crackling torches substituted for the more usual energy bulbs and cast a warm glow throughout the dining area. I knelt at the halfway point of the long table, where obviously enough Simon and Cassandra sat facing one another, separated by a length of twelve feet. Nevertheless they were deeply engrossed in conversation.

“I really want to hear about your progress in Vonda,” said Simon as he motioned for me to refill his wine goblet. It occurred to me as I knelt there in a slave collar, attentive to the subtlest of signs that service might be required, that if I had been taken to Gor as a man, and not transformed into a woman, I would no doubt be enjoying all the benefits of the male sex on this warlike planet. I could be sitting where Simon sat, feasting in a great hall, enjoying fine wines, and the service of beautiful slave girls who would be mine to command. All this would be my right, my lifestyle if I hadn’t been turned into a girl by the Kurii machines. And yet, kneeling as I was, afraid of displeasing Cassandra (I would be hard put to displease Simon to be totally honest. He would forgive me virtually anything) I could not imagine going back to my old life as a man. No, my life as a girl might be a harsh one, but it was a price worth paying to have such a beautiful feminine body. The truth was, I loved being a girl. So did Chloe. In the early months when I had trained her to dance, Chloe and I had spoken at times about how thrilled we were to be reborn like this. Perhaps you will never understand the yearning we had experienced all our lives, wishing fervently to be girls. Despite our slave status, this was a dream come true, and no amount of humiliation would ever make me surrender my chance to live life as a woman.

“It’s going very well, Simon. I have set up distribution centres in Vonda to provide food for the poor. It’s a simple enough model. I have made arrangements with merchants to bulk buy excess food close to its sell by date. I get this food at a fraction of the market value since it would simply spoil a day or so later, and through an efficient system within the city I ensure this food goes immediately to the most needy of our citizens.”

“I’m impressed, Lady. Very impressed.” Simon raised his goblet of wine and Cassandra smiled softly beneath her veils.

“I feel it is something I can and should do with my new found wealth. There is too much suffering in our cities. I have limited means of course, but at least in Vonda I can make a difference. The city is my home now; I have taken its Homestone as my own, and am determined to do what I can. By my calculations we feed close to seven hundred mouths on a regular basis. By this time next year I hope that will double.”

“And this is at your own expense?”

“It is. But I have the money. I can still afford fine clothes, fine food, and I live in a beautiful house. I would rather the mighty Tarn Talon sigil of my brother’s flag is associated with helping those less fortunate than myself, rather than simply frittering away the money on casual excesses.”

Okay, take a step back here. Yes, as if it couldn’t get any worse – Bitch Queen Cassandra actually feeds the poor in the city of Vonda out of her own pocket. This was really getting to me. Why couldn’t she just be a vicious greedy spiteful bitch all the time to everybody? It would make things so much simpler.

“You are a remarkable woman, Cassandra. I hope you don’t mind me saying so.” Simon leaned forward at the table and gazed deep into her eyes.

“Such words from you, noble Simon, they are all the recognition and reward I can dare hope for.”

I felt like rolling my eyes as she took a deep breath, and she touched her breast lightly with her right hand, overcome with emotion. Oh, puh-lease…

“I may be forward in saying this, Lady Cassandra, but I am honoured to have made your acquaintance. I confess I think of you at times when you are not here.”

“That is more than I ever dared hope, Simon. I…” and now Cassandra looked flustered, as if embarrassed to speak further. “Sometimes I too… I'm sorry, I shouldn't speak thus...”

“You mean that? Truly?” Simon lowered his voice just a little, though none of the other diners were close enough to hear them anyway.

“You must think me shameful when I say I was hoping you might be here when I came today. I feel a kinship with you at times. You make me feel special.”

“You are special to me, Lady Cassandra. Beside you other women cannot hold a candle to your grace or beauty.”

“Surely you say such things out of some misguided kindness towards me,” said Cassandra sadly, “for it is obvious to me that you can have any of the slaves here in this hall. You must only have eyes for them…”

“They mean nothing to me, Cassandra. I hardly notice them.”

I didn’t know how much more of this I could take. Really, it was ridiculous. I knew for a fact Simon had slept with Sabina only three days ago. What a hypocrite! He had been asking after Sabina for weeks until he had wrestled with his Earth man conscience enough to send her to his bed. Simon's problem wasn’t that he didn’t have any interest in the slave girls, but rather that he still felt guilty for treating them as slaves. Even five years on he was still wrestling with his conscience at times, at war with the Gorean behaviour that had gradually changed him from the young man I had encountered in the Kurii ship.

“That means so much to me, Simon, that you feel that way. So many men think only of the vulgar slave sluts, like Emma here.”

Yeah, and fuck you, too.

“Cassandra... this may be a step too far, too soon, but, well...” Simon reached into a pocket of his tunic and produced a piece of folded paper. I eyed him with concern. I knew for a fact he had been writing poetry these last couple of months, but surely he hadn't... “When last you were here and you eventually left, I... well, I wrote a poem to express how I felt about your departure.”

Oh no, he had...

“A poem? For me?” Cassandra seemed to almost swoon again.

“If I may?” Simon quickly unfolded the paper as Cassandra nodded eagerly. With a slight cough he began. “A flower grows from beneath a blanket of fine and purest white. It reaches toward the sun for warmth, for heat and for the light. My feelings for you grow stronger still, despite the surrounding cold. My heart is yours, bartered gone, for yours has it been sold. Its petals shine from morning dew, its stem grows stiff and strong. It stands strong through the freezing cold; it stands the winter long. I long for you, for your soft touch, I miss the way you smile. The longer that we stay apart, the longer every mile. The flower stretches through the snow, it reaches toward the sun. And now without you, I fear the colour is gone…”

I wanted to slap him. I really did.

I imagined slapping him.

Several times in fact.

“That is so beautiful. Simon, I am speechless,” said Cassandra, visibly moved by the clumsy words.

“I wasn't sure whether it might be an audacious thing for me to do. I hope I haven't overstepped the mark?” said Simon as he folded the paper and returned it to his hidden pocket.

“Not at all. It has elevated you even higher in my esteem. But...” And now Cassandra seemed troubled, “I fear I must spoil the moment, as I have an announcement to make, one that I have tried to put off for as long as possible. Could I ask you to present me to your assembled Household?”

“But of course, Lady, of course.” Simon rose to his feet, dabbed at his lips with a napkin and thumped the wooden table three times to attract the attention of all the diners in the hall.

“Men and women of the Sardar, we have the fair Lady Cassandra with us this evening, and she has travelled far from Vonda's fine walls to bring us news that seems to trouble her. If I have your attention now, I will yield the floor to the Lady.” And he did, seating himself down again as Cassandra now rose from her own chair.

“Good people of the Sardar, I know you all to be loyal friends and sworn oath-men and women to my brother's banner, and therefore the news I bring you today saddens me greatly. Brinn of the Sardar, the hero of Fell's Bane, the terrible, strong right arm of the Priest Kings, was brutally murdered in the wharves of Port Kar. Brinn of the Sardar is dead!”

The hall fell silent, but I didn't notice. Rather I felt a rushing and roaring sound in my head as I knelt there at the foot of the table in stunned disbelief. I remember my body shaking, actually shaking as I stared up in dismay.

“His body was fished out from one of the canals, partially eaten by the canal urts. I am as stunned as you all are, and I swear this, I will not rest until I know the full facts of what has happened in Port Kar, and I will commit all my resources to uncover the truth of this murder and to bring down a savage vengeance against the men responsible for the death of my beloved brother.”

I was shaking my head now, crying, the jug of wine slipping from my fingers to crash and spill without warning on the floor. No doubt the eyes of every slave girl in the hall were upon me at that moment, but I didn't notice, so engulfed in shock was I.  

“I come to this great hall today as my brother's surviving kin, to take up residence here and put his affairs in order. By nature of Gorean law, I claim his estate and assets as they stand. We will grieve together for my brother, but we will also celebrate his great life. The passing of Brinn of the Sardar is no small thing, and I swear that the mourning shall be heard throughout every city of Northern Gor.”

Every man and woman in the hall could surely hear me crying beside the table. Every man and woman of Brinn's estate knew me and what I meant to Brinn and what Brinn in turn meant to me. I think they probably at that moment pitied me.

“But my first concern of course is the safety and wellbeing of Brinn's children, my niece and nephew. To that end I have had papers prepared to formally adopt them. I will ensure they will be raised with great love and kindness and honour and..”

“NO!” I rose suddenly from the floor, tears streaming down my face, fists clenched, and the only other sound in the hall was the sharp intake of breath from the other diners. “You will not have MY CHILDREN! No one takes MY CHILDREN from me!” 

Chloe later told me at that moment I looked like some wrathful spirit, and that I would have scared even Brinn with my look of absolute hatred. There was no doubt that at that moment I was ready to kill, if necessary.

“You dare speak to me like...” Cassandra was turning in shock towards me.

“You can't have my children! They are my...”

And suddenly a great fist struck me full in the face. My head snapped back, my nose broke and I was sent flying to the ground, to crash against the tiles. I could have been killed. As it was I lay there with blood streaming from my nose. It had happened so fast that I barely knew who had hit me. It was Brandon - a giant of a man - one of Cassandra's warriors, and part of her honour guard. With a couple of long strides he stood over my body, pulled me up by my hair and struck me again with the flat of his hand across my face. It was like a thunder clap and I nearly lost consciousness.

And then everyone heard the small voice that simply cried out across the hall, “Mama! Don't hurt my mama!”

And now everyone turned and looked to see Jacinta, not even five years old yet, standing in the doorway of the great feasting hall in her nightgown, her favourite rag doll in her hands, gazing at my broken body across the tiled floor.

“Jacinta, sweetheart, what are you doing here?” said Cassandra in alarm as she began to move towards my daughter.

“I couldn't sleep, Amita. I wanted a drink...” she stared, possibly traumatised at the sight of her mother, beaten to a pulp by a towering warrior with a bristling black beard. 

“Sweetheart, you must go back to bed right now. You can't be here.” Cassandra moved to pick up the child, but Jacinta surprised everyone by running between the tables towards me. Only when she was about ten feet away, did the huge bulk of Brandon step forward and catch her.

“I'm the Lady Jacinta! Don't you dare touch me!” My daughter said that with an authority that belied her years. And shocked, Brandon released her arm and stepped back.

I lifted myself in great pain, and turned my bloodied face from the sight of my daughter. “Please don't let her see me like this... please...”

But she did see me. She looked long and hard, and tears came down her cheeks, and then, drawing herself up to her full height, she slowly turned round to face Brandon, the doll dropping from her hands onto the floor. And she said very slowly, “one day my brother will be very big and strong.” She paused. “And then he'll kill you for hurting my mama...”   


  1. Many thanks for another excellent story.

    Did Brinn ever take you to see Marcellus as he said we would at the end of the last series?

    Thanks, Donna

  2. Hi Donna,

    I did see my father again, but not by going to Port Kar. He came to Brinn's estate one day without Brinn warning me in advance, or even bothering to tell me that my father was actually still alive! I wasn't happy about it, especially when the first I knew was when I came face to face with him as he sat beside the fire place hearth in Brinn's Great Hall.

    He was gradually dying from the complications with the stabilisation serum, and he had decided to undertake one last great adventure before passing on to the Cities of Dust. He had assembled a band of warriors and acquired a ship with the intention of sailing as far south as possible to explore uncharted Gor below the range of the jungles of Schendi. And before doing so he wanted to see his Grand Children and speak to me one final time.

    It will be a flashback sequence at some point in 'Shadows of Gor', and will have significance in book 5, 'Ubara of Gor'.

    - Emma x