Chapter Seven: I lie awake in the dark, listening to Chloe being fucked
The floorboards were hard and uncomfortable after having spent so many years on Brinn's couch bed, or at worst on the soft furs piled deep in front of the coal stoves in the kitchens. I was chained by my ankle to an iron ring set at the base of the wall, with a chain length insufficient to reach the couch bed itself. I think that had been Simon's intention, as he had adjusted its length before clipping it to the wall.
Softly at first in the darkness, and then louder, and then much louder, Chloe was moaning and crying out from the couch bed where Simon was enjoying her at his leisure.
The expression on my face as we had climbed the narrow wooden ladder into the cramped attic garret overlooking the seedier canals of Port Kar had probably said it all. I stood there fuming, my head mere inches below the narrow ceiling, while to my smug satisfaction Simon had to stoop, as a coin or two changed hands to be pocketed by the grizzly looking landlord.
“Bucket for your shit is over there. The window is a bit stiff, and might break if you force it, but you can send your slaves downstairs to empty the buckets on the steps of the canal. Tell them to be careful – the cobbles there are slippery and narrow.”
“I’m sure that will be fine,” said Simon as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully and tried not to meet my gaze. Chloe suddenly screamed as a large urt shot out from under the splintery wooden cot and ran back down the ladder out of sight before either Simon or the landlord could react to it.
“Won’t charge you extra for the pets,” said the landlord with a gap toothed grin. “And you get a free complimentary candle.” He pointed to a small stub of wax, barely two and a half inches in height that lay stuck to a three and a half legged table by the window, propped up by loose bricks. If we were lucky it might last a couple of hours.
“Don’t say anything, please, Emma,” said Simon as our new Landlord departed and Simon closed the floor hatch for privacy. The garret room measured perhaps twelve feet by eight feet, though the ceiling slipped down on one side meaning you could only sit or kneel there.
“What’s there to say?” I said my voice dripping with acid. “It’s a lovely room. Far superior to the shit hole I lived in when I was in Rashid’s collar.”
“I agree this is all my fault,” said Simon as he sighed and tried to open the narrow window overlooking the canal. When one of the hinges cracked away from the rotten wood frame, he quickly gave up and gingerly moved it back in place.
“Three minutes!” I suddenly said. “Just three minutes!”
“Please, this is hard for me,” said Simon. “Yes, I should have been more careful with my coin pouch once we left the ship and stepped down onto the wharf. I accept that. I really do.”
“Three minutes!” I was fuming. Less than that probably before a man had accidentally jostled Simon and in doing so had cut and lifted his coin pouch. “Has no one told you what Port Kar is like?”
“Obviously it has a certain reputation, but we had just left the ship and…”
“Unbelievable! Just…” I was practically speechless.
“Luckily I did conceal a few small coins in the lining of my tunic otherwise we wouldn’t have any funds now.”
“Oh, how thoughtful of you, Simon! Well, having three copper coins makes such a difference!” I gazed again at our new home. It stank of boiled cabbage from further down below. The floor was filthy, and as for the cot bed, the sack cloth sheets and straw filled mattress probably harboured all manner of wood boring beetles.
“Emma, I’ve told you before, while we’re travelling together it would really help if you called me 'Master', not Simon. Not for me, you understand, but it’s what other people expect and…”
“Oh shut up! You’ve gone and lost all our money!”
Chloe still found it hard to believe that any man would allow me to speak to him that way. Although she knew he came from Earth, she had never seen him surrounded by his Justice League of America action figures inside the submerged Kur ship called Golden Klaw, and had only known him once he'd put on some, admittedly impressive looking, muscles, and gone all Gorean in his physical appearance. And yes, he had changed a bit while under Brinn's influence, but when it came to me, he was still Simon, the computer geek from Earth, and I really didn't see him as a Master.
“Our first day in Port Kar could obviously have gone better,” said Simon.
“You think?” I said in my pissed off ‘snark’ voice.
“Emma, I’m asking you nicely to just work with me on this. Now, tomorrow will be another day…”
I rolled my eyes at such a stupid thing to say.
“...another day, and first thing in the morning we’ll leavea message for the charming Lady Marissa and then go and locate Brinn’s body and examine it to ascertain it is indeed Brinn. Or if it isn’t, then obviously we’ll find out what happened to him. So, let’s get some sleep, because it’s going to be a busy day for all of us.”
“Fine. Though how anyone is expected to sleep in this slum.” Outside we could hear screaming and people shouting. There was also loud raucous singing coming from a paga tavern two doors down the road, accompanied by the sound of breaking glass. I had no doubt whatsoever that setting foot outside of this house once the sun went down would be a very stupid thing to do, for the area was probably home to all manner of cut throats and thieves. Simon’s choice of cheap accommodation essentially made us prisoners in this single room until day light.
“I’ll take the bed, obviously,” said Simon.
I rolled my eyes again. I hardly expected anything else. For all his supposed clinging on to the decent standards of Earth, Simon was never slow to take advantage of the benefits of being a Free Man on Gor in contrast to my status as a slave-girl.
“Um…” now Simon cleared his throat and gazed at the window, not looking at either of us. “Chloe, I’d like you to share the bed with me.”
“Master?” Chloe looked up surprised. Simon had never sent for her before when we lived at Brinn’s estate. It was something of a bolt from the blue.
I didn’t know what to say. Simon wanted Chloe in his bed for the night!
“Is that okay, Chloe?” he asked. There was none of the certainty that a Gorean man might have. “Are you okay with that?”
“Of course I am, Master.” Chloe took the couple of steps towards the cot bed and knelt on it, gazing up at him. She looked very beautiful in the fading light as Simon showed the first signs of growing arousal.
“I’ll… just see to Emma first.”
As I watched, Simon opened up his travel bag and produced a length of chain that extended to a slim ankle ring. I narrowed my eyes as he approached me.
“What are you doing with that?”
“There’s a slave ring fixed to the low wall just above the skirting board, Emma. I’m going to chain you there.”
“Emma, I’m a man, I don’t have to explain myself to you. You really are giving me a headache.”
“For God’s sake, you don’t honestly think I’m going to run away into the cess pits of Port Kar do you?”
“Well obviously not, no, that would be very foolish. No, of course not, but there is only a single bolt on the floor hatch and I do not trust our neighbours. I don’t want someone sneaking in here during the night and stealing you. I’m going to take the sensible precaution of securing my property safely.”
“Yes. My property. Technically I own you now, Emma. I bought you, remember. Please don’t make a fuss. It's been a long day for me.” Simon locked the chain to my ankle and then to the slave ring. I was secured, helplessly secured, and as always, hearing the click of the lock snap in place, I felt the familiar weak sensation in my limbs, for it is a strange thing to be a girl who has chains secured upon her person, for which she herself does not possess the key.
“See. Now my property is secure,” he said, gazing down at me in a way that made me less sure of myself.
“Yes, Master.” I suddenly realised with a shock what I had automatically said, now that Simon had placed me in a semblance of bondage. Oh fuck – I had just called him Master! I blushed.
“Well now, that was quite unexpected. You just called me Master, Emma,” said Simon with a smile. He no longer looked quite so uncomfortable, now that I wore his chain and I had said that.
“It… it just came out. I shouldn’t have said that. You’re from Earth.”
“That's okay. It was nice to hear. Perhaps you should say that more often, Emma. It sounds good coming from your lips.”
I touched the chain that extended from my ankle and looked nervously away. Simon was my friend. Sort of. Well, as far as a slave-girl could ever be friends with a man from Earth. He had always been kind and considerate to me on the estate. But now that he had locked a chain to my ankle and secured me in his room, he seemed to look at me like a Gorean man might.
“Tomorrow is another day,” I said quietly. I felt unnerved by this slight change in Simon’s demeanour.
“Call me Master again, Emma,” he said as he gazed down at me. “It sounded good, the way you said it just now.”
I swallowed hard and said, “Master…”
“Mmm. I think you should call me that from now on, Emma.” With the chain locked to my ankle – his chain – a chain that only he could remove – Simon placed his hands on my upper arms and held me, gently, but firmly, as he said that. “For appearances sake, you understand?”
“Yes Master,” I said softly. I suddenly found I couldn’t look at him. Not as I had done just ten minutes before.
“I like that. No more using my name from now on, Emma. Not here in Port Kar. In fact…” he paused for a moment and thought about it. “Not ever again.”
“Yes, Master.” My eyes were suddenly drawn, down cast as they were, to the rising bulge in his tunic. Simon had an erection from speaking to me this way! I gasped.
“Is something wrong, Emma?”
He was turned on by mastering me! Simon! Simon, who had collected Justice League of America figurines in the past. He was aroused by locking a chain to my leg and having me call him Master…
“Who owns you, Emma?”
“You do, Master,” I said softly. I don’t know why this troubled me so much, after all I had been had by many Gorean men in the past. Maybe it was because this was so different, because it was Simon – Simon who always reminded me of Earth. If he was beginning to change in the way he felt about me, then I was losing my last reference point to my old world.
Chloe was a good actress, I’d give her that. I could almost think she was experiencing rapturous orgasms if her convincing moans, squeals and pitiful cries were anything to go by, but of course I recalled Simon’s performance more than five years ago when I had had to do all the work to even get him to the point where he had the confidence to penetrate me. Obviously he must have gained some experience in the intervening years – that was to be expected, what with the slave girls he occasionally invited to his bed, but even so, this was Simon – he used to collect Justice League of America figurines and obsess over why Fox TV cancelled Firefly mid-way through season one (to be honest, I was annoyed by that too, at the time – we had talked about it quite often on the estate, and Simon had suggested ways the series could have gone in hypothetical seasons 3 and 4, but I think I'm digressing now). But yes, as I lay on the cold hard floor, in the darkness, it was easy enough to think that Chloe was finding a degree of sexual fulfilment in the dark. Only I knew better.
I sighed and rolled on to my other side. It was certainly going on for quite some time. I suppose Chloe was using all her skills to prolong his erection and keep him going. Something like that. Mind you, with all the moaning coming from that cot bed, it didn’t seem she was doing much more than just writhing in pleasure. I could just about make out the upright shape of Simon kneeling above her as he thrusted deep inside my friend.
Chloe was certainly noisy tonight. It was irritating actually. She would be more convincing if she didn’t make her faked responses sound so loud. It didn’t help that I could hear similar sounds of passion coming from one of the rooms below us and to one side. I felt very frustrated as I lay there alone on the floor, unwilling to even touch myself intimately in case they might hear. I scratched at the floorboards with my nails and cried quietly to myself. I was a slave-girl! I shouldn’t be left alone like this! It wasn’t fair!
The truth was, Port Kar scared me. I had grown accustomed to the safety, comforts and privileges of Brinn’s estates in the Sardar and I had forgotten how savage and cruel other parts of Gor could be, none more so than the island enclave of pirates, freebooters and rogues that owed an allegiance only to themselves. While Port Kar was of course a city in the geographical sense, it didn’t pander to the civilised norms of the Sardar and central Gor. Here a sense of lawlessness pervaded, held in check mostly by the strength of your sword arm and your fear of those strong enough to administer their own basic sense of justice if you acted beyond the realms of common law.
You could see the difference in the eyes of the men who lived here – men who were prepared to take what they wanted from strangers. I feared those men. Oh God, how I feared those men! They lived on the spoils taken from others weaker than themselves, and while out of necessity they wouldn’t ‘shit on their own doorstep’ they would offer little in the way of sympathy to those new to the Port.
I didn’t want to be here, I wanted to be back home, but home where Brinn might protect me. I wanted to turn the clock back to a time when the only thing I had to worry about was speaking out of place once too often and being caged in the kitchen for the night while Brinn took another girl to his bed. Here I felt in fear of my life, for I was not confident now that we had landed and seen the narrow streets surrounding the wharfs - streets teeming with cutthroats - that Simon would be capable of standing up to them once they sensed weakness on his part.
I was afraid of what might ultimately happen to Chloe and myself if a knife in the dark brought Simon down in a pool of blood in a back street alley way. Simon was strong now, after many years training with Brinn, but he was a man of Earth, still shackled by the limitations of his birth place, and no match for the hard, cruel faces that watched our comings and goings.
I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t just the moans and cries coming from the ramshackle bed where Simon took his pleasure from Chloe, though that was beginning to grate on my nerves. Fear kept me awake – fear of what might happen tomorrow when we left this run down garret and we threaded our way through the streets of Port Kar – streets that quite literally had no names in many cases.
In the darkness I heard Chloe orgasm. It was unmistakeable, and I think beyond the realms of what she might fake. The dawning realisation that Chloe had indeed been fucked in some delicious overwhelming way made me grip my ankle chain in frustration and wriggle on the dry floorboards. I could imagine Chloe delirious with pleasure now, lying there in a sheen of sweat, basking in the warm glow of her climax, while I lay here alone and unfulfilled.
I saw a very different Chloe that morning. The transformation was remarkable from the day before. Chloe rose from the bed frame and ran her hands through her glossy mane of hair. She was vibrant, glowing, full of life, and she moved like a sleek cat as she ran to the narrow window and gazed out onto the street below. I stirred in my chains, feeling the sense of frustration still at my own lack of fulfilment, but Chloe was now a woman who had been fucked from one orgasm to the next and she looked refreshed and happy and content as a result.
“I love my collar,” she said as she turned round to face Simon, her bottom resting against the narrow window sill, and her hands in her hair to subtly lift the swell of her breasts before her Master.
“That’s good,” said Simon with a smile as he now rose from the bed. My eyes narrowed as I saw his naked body fully for the first time in quite a while. Six years of working out under Brinn’s instructions had given him chest muscles and Pecs to match his muscular arms and thighs. To my shame I found myself growing aroused at the sight of him as he walked across the room with the confidence of a man who had brought immense pleasure to a woman. Even the most timid man gains confidence from giving an orgasm to a woman. He feels powerful as a result.
On Earth now Simon could be doing black and white photo shoots for expensive colognes, topless, leaning against urban back drops, with an enigmatic expression on his face. His hair was unbound, when usually during the day he tied it back, and it made him look like some virile barbarian of pulp swords and sorcery fiction. Simon caught me looking at him, and amused by the sight of me quickly averting my gaze, called out, “Good morning, Emma.”
Brinn had more muscle, but there was an aesthetic almost classical look to Simon’s body like the chiselled marble of a Greco-Roman statue of antiquity. He was handsome, pretty even, yes, like a male model might be. And compared to Brinn’s harder, scarred flesh, Simon was still smooth and unblemished from the relatively soft life he had lived on Gor.
“Was I pleasing, Master?” asked Chloe as she ran to Simon and dropped to her knees before him. Simon reached out and ran his hand through her hair, seeming to relish this measure of submission, however consensual it might be.
“Very much. You were magnificent, my little kajira.” Now he reached out and touched her collar, locked as it was around her throat. “I’ve never owned a girl before…”
“You do own me, Master. I am legally your property.”
“I know, and it feels strange. But in a good way. Go downstairs Chloe, and fill a bucket from the canal. Bring it upstairs, wash yourself and then send Emma to do the same.” Simon watched as Chloe nodded and hurried out down through the trap door and the narrow ladder, carrying the simple, rough, wooden bucket in her left hand. Now that we were alone, Simon half regarded me across the room and a curious look crossed his face. “I suppose I own you too, Emma,” he said with a half smile.
“I suppose so.” I curled my knees into my body where I lay, and heard the heavy ankle chain slither across the rough floor boards. Simon’s gaze could be piercing at times. This was one of those times. “If you must think in those vulgar terms.”
“To think, I now legally own the beautiful Emma of London,” said Simon, kindly enough as he walked towards me, picking up his green tunic as he did so. He pulled it on over his muscular body, concealing his manhood from my sight. “It is strange to have you in my chains.”
It was clear to me that some subtle change had occurred in Simon since he had taken Chloe into his bed. He seemed more relaxed around us now that he had enjoyed one of us in the furs. And the way he looked at me…
“Are you going to release me?” I extended my ankle slightly towards him.
“Of course. The ankle chain was simply security for you during the night.” As I watched, Simon took hold of my ankle in his left hand. He held it there without making any attempt to find the lock on the steel or produce the key. I became acutely aware of the effect of his hand upon my leg.
“You have beautiful legs, Emma,” said Simon as he crouched down beside me.
I didn’t know what to say. I leaned back against the lower half of the plaster wall and placed both hands palms down on the wooden boards. I couldn’t meet Simon’s gaze for some reason.
“And your ankle takes Gorean steel very well indeed. I trust that the use I put Chloe to last night didn’t disturb your sleep unduly?”
“You were both quite noisy at times,” I said as I sat with my back to the plaster board wall.
“Were we?” Simon chuckled. I noticed he had still not moved to pick up the key to my ankle chain. Until he did I remained his prisoner, chained to the floor ring. “I suppose we were lost in the moment. I confess I quite like Chloe. And you will note the sex was consensual. You did notice that, Emma? I didn't simply order her to my furs.”
“Yes,” I said acidly. This really wasn’t a topic of conversation I was particularly keen on pursuing. “In so far as she’s a slave wearing your collar of course…” I looked up at him, the implication in my words surely clear enough, that by law Chloe had no choice at all.
“Emma, do you honestly think I would have raped Chloe against her will if she had declined? Is that what you think I’d do? Honestly?”
“I don’t know what you’d do, Simon. You’re a little different this morning.” I glanced down at my ankle where his hand was. It was very distracting. I sniffed. “The floor was hard last night. I was cold. I think the sea breeze from Thassa blows through the canals.” There had been a sea mist when we had arrived, hanging over Port Kar with its cold salt taste. Since Port Kar is basically built on a lagoon of small islands, it is enveloped by the chill of the ocean that laps around the fortified quarters. In Port Kar you are never more than a stone's throw away from water.
“It is in my power to free you, you know,” said Simon. “I could do that now that I own you. I could have papers of freedom drawn up by a scribe. I could have them witnessed, stamped, sealed. You could be a Free Woman again. Imagine that?”
“You would do that for me?” I gazed up in hope.
“Would you like me to? Do you want to be free again, Emma?”
“Yes.” I swallowed hard. “But please don’t play with my emotions. Please don’t give me false hope.”
“There is still the possibility that Brinn is dead. Maybe that wasn't his body that was fished out of the canal, but that doesn't mean he is still alive. If Brinn is dead, then I have to consider your future. I promise you, Emma, I would not see you sold to some anonymous Master. I would not see you spend your life in some Gorean man's collar. I would consider freeing you.”
“And Chloe?” I gazed up at Simon, wondering how he felt about freeing Chloe.
“Chloe seems to me to be a natural slave, Emma. The way she moved last night in the furs, writhing in complete abandonment. She’s not like you.”
I didn’t say anything. Simon it seemed had a truly romantic and somewhat vanilla idea of what I might be like in the furs. I decided not to shatter that illusion, for my own sake if nothing else. “It is true, Simon, Chloe is a natural slave. I of course am not. Yes I wear a collar, and I am branded, and men put me to their use, but…”
“Exactly. I've always thought you were different, Emma. I’ve always known you were better than that. The things that men must have done to you. The pleasures they must have taken from your body against your will…”
“Yes…” I turned my head, not quite meeting his gaze. He seemed to think I was some ruined Princess deserving of being rescued by a Knight on a white horse!
“I think it may be too late to free Chloe though,” said Simon as he crouched beside me. “Honestly… last night she was a complete slut. Just like the Gorean girls I’ve had on Brinn’s estate. It was something of a shock to me to be honest, bearing in mind she comes from Earth as you do.”
I nodded quickly. Poor Chloe. “I’m not like Chloe,” I said again. But his hand! He was still holding my ankle, his fingers moving a little against my skin. I swallowed hard, knowing how his touch emphasised the brutal, inflexible Gorean steel that was locked upon me.
“The institution of female slavery is of course terrible,” said Simon. “This is such a primitive world in that respect. It is deplorable. And yet, it is considered the norm here, and if Chloe is a natural slave... indeed if any girl is a natural slave... would it not be cruel to free her? Would she be happy being free? I do not know. But you still have the potential to be Free, Emma. You are different from the other girls, so I could arrange that.”
I nodded again quickly. If Brinn was dead, if he was gone from me forever, then I wanted desperately to be free again. I wanted my life back. I did not want to be passed from collar to collar, from Master to Master, always afraid that a Master might grow tired of me and sell me like a used car for a newer model. I wanted stability and security in my life again. The reported death of Brinn had proven to me how precarious the life of a kajira truly was on Gor. In just a single evening I had lost everything. That could happen again and again and again, so long as I was a slave. “Please free me, Simon. Please free me...” I gazed up at him with tears in my eyes. He could do it now. He could say the words. Of course there would be the matter of documented papers. It would not be safe for a girl with a brand burned into her thigh to move through the cities of Gor without formally documented papers declaring her free. I would not like to be such a girl discovered to have a brand, to have been a slave, and be unable to prove she was now free.
“I hear you, Emma. Port Kar of course is not really the place to free a slave. But if Brinn is dead, when we return to central Gor, I will consider freeing you. But have you considered what you might do once you were free?”
“No... I... I have never thought it possible... I don't know what I would do. I have no money... nowhere to live...”
“I could help you there. I do not have a lot of money, but I have some. I could rent an apartment in a city, far from the Sardar. You could live with me if you wished.”
I gazed at Simon. “Live... with you...?” I let the words hang in the air.
“As a Free Woman of course. With respect and dignity. There would be two bedrooms of course. You would have your own room. Private. Secure. I would permit you a lock. You could come and go as you pleased. I would care for you. You would in a sense be my 'kept woman'. It is common place on Gor. In return you might for example tend the apartment while I worked. Keep it clean. Provide a cooked meal when I return. Shop during the day. Provide pleasant conversation in the evenings. That sort of thing.”
I bit my lower lip and lowered my gaze.
“I am registered with the caste of physicians,” added Simon, concerned now with my lack of response, “though simply an apprentice by their standards, but I could find work and I could support the two of us. It wouldn't be the luxury you're used to from Brinn's estate. The apartment would be small, but you would be free.”
“Free...” I whispered the word softly.
“But for now, we have appearances to maintain. You do understand? While we are in Port Kar I am going to have to ask you to play the role of a slave. Well, I say play a role – you are I suppose actually a slave – and you do actually belong to me, legally, and by the rights I have as a Free Man - so there is no pretending or role to be had, but I will have to ask you to dispense with some of the familiarities we have shared in the past, Emma. Things are very different now. You can’t refer to me by name any more in Port Kar. Others would think me weak. I cannot be seen to be weak. You will have to call me Master from now on.”
“Master…” I said the word softly and felt a shiver of anguish run through my body. He was so close to me.
Simon smiled and touched my thigh now with his hand as he crouched beside me. His fingers caressed me softly. “That word sounds lovely on your lips, Emma. Say it again. Please.”
“My Master...” I must have looked very small, crouched by the wall, with my ankle locked in Gorean steel.
“Yes, Emma...” Simon looked at me thoughtfully. His hand stayed on my thigh. It was my left thigh where my brand lay. He could feel it under his fingers. “I am your Master. You wear my collar. I own you... I own the sensual, lovely, Emma of London...”
There was suddenly a sharp intake of breath from me as his hand moved further up my thigh, towards the brief hem of my tunic, and that it seemed broke the spell, as suddenly Simon was back to normal, as he quickly moved his hand back and realised what he had been doing.
“I'm sorry, Emma. I was supposed to see about unlocking your ankle.”
I nodded quickly. Very quickly. Simon seemed very different this morning. I watched, saying nothing as he produced a key and unlocked the shackle. As he did so I heard Chloe emerge through the trap door, carrying a bucket of water that sloshed as she dropped it on the floor with a thump.
“Is everything okay?” she said as she shivered a little, rubbing her arms with her hands. “The sea mist is really cold out there. But the good news is there's a little early morning stall open down by the canal that's selling hot breakfast rolls...” She gazed up at Simon with an eyelash fluttering 'pretty please Master' expression. “Please, please... pretty please, oh wonderful Master...”
Simon promised us some breakfast, but first he wanted to make contact with the Lady Marissa. It was unlikely that she had reached Port Kar before us as her intention was to travel to the Sardar mountains before turning round to reach the pirate city, but in any event we could leave a message at her apartment to notify her where we might be found. I think Simon also hoped that he could avail himself of some money and food from the Lady's apartment as our funds were perilously low after paying for the squalid accommodation.
The Lady Marissa had rented a living space in one of the more respectable areas of Port Kar. That’s relative by the way: the words ‘respectable’ and ‘Port Kar’ and in this context I simply mean that you can probably step outside of your house in broad daylight and look to the left and the right without necessarily fearing for your life. Her residence was a new build of sorts, probably dating back to maybe ten years after Bosk (aka Tarl Cabot) saved Port Kar in a decisive naval battle and gave it a Home Stone. From that point on some measure of respectability was bestowed on the city, and it began to claw its way up from the cess pit that it had previously been. This new build was on one of the outer lagoon islands, for like most cities growth occurs on the outer fringes of the old city and therefore the older more squalid residences can be found to the centre of any configuration. This particular lagoon island was connected by bridges and canal boats to the older quarters and was simple enough for us to reach once we obtained directions from men who didn't obviously look like pirates.
Although a citizen of Corcyrus, Marissa had leased an apartment within a walled courtyard here to assist her localised work for Samos. Three of the walls of the compound were the walls of the building built around the courtyard while the fourth side was a plaster brick wall washed with light blue paint with an open iron gate in the middle. Standing at the gate were two men with swords at their belts, charged with the responsibility of preventing anonymous passers by from entering the private compound. This was a reasonable measure of security within Port Kar and their wages were no doubt paid for collectively by all the residents. Each of the three sides of the building housed three apartments, one for each storey, and access to each storey was via its own heavy wooden door, securely bolted from the inside and secured from the outside with a key lock. Individual steps led up to the upper two storeys meaning that there were no common or shared corridors that might prove dangerous. The courtyard itself was comprised of one third flagstones with perhaps two thirds grass and vegetation. As a communal space it might be shared by all the residents, though I suspected that the sexes would rarely mingle. As it happened, all the residents here were women, which made sense I suppose for the security at the main gate would only deter outsiders. By and large it is safer for single Free Women to reside together rather than share residential spaces with single men. This is doubly so in a city such as Port Kar.
Unless the women living here were particularly wealthy, the guards would probably only be employed during daylight hours. Once the sun went down they would make their final rounds, knock on the doors to inform the women that they were leaving, and that the women should then seal themselves into their homes if they knew what was good for them. Bolts would be drawn back against the doors and bars would be locked against the narrow windows. Free Women would not venture out after dark unless they had the resources to pay for trusted escorts. To be a Free Woman of moderate means in Port Kar would be to be a virtual prisoner of your own home once the sun sets. Only when dawn came again and the reassuring sound of the guardsmen announcing their return could be verified, would these women dare to unbolt their doors and venture out once more into their common area courtyard.
Such is life on Gor for women.
We stopped short of the iron grilled gate as the two armed men motioned that Simon should proceed no further.
“This is private property,” said the dark haired man. “You have no business here.” Through the iron bars of the gate I could see a number of Free Women moving around in the courtyard. A couple of them were talking while a third was hanging out washing to dry. They were all veiled of course, though not as heavily veiled as they might be if they ventured out onto the main streets. My eyes caught sight of taut lines of tarn wire stretched across the roofs of the compound. The tarn wire was a standard precaution in Gorean towns and cities and it would prevent a Tarnsman from swooping down suddenly to seize and carry off a robed Free Woman.
“I have business here with the Lady Marissa of Corcyrus,” said Simon.
“Then you’re out of luck, stranger,” said the dark haired guard, “because she left for a journey east several weeks ago. She’s not at home.”
“I’m aware of that. She will be returning in a few days and I need to leave her notice of where I’m staying and how she may contact me when she does return. She has a kajira, yes?”
“She does,” said the guard as he continued to size Simon up.
“I’m to leave the details with her kajira. I don’t expect you to take my word for it - I have a piece of paper in the Lady’s own handwriting bearing the seal of her signet ring authorising me to visit her apartment once I arrived here. She tells me that one of you is able to read?”
Illiteracy is common among the lower castes of Gor. Reading and writing is not something that all Goreans are taught at childhood. Warriors in particular are not only often illiterate but proud of their illiteracy. Brinn is able to read and write, but quite poorly in fact, and he only learned once he became an agent of the Priest Kings. That one of these two guards could read was unusual but it meant that written instructions might be communicated to him.
“That will be Adrian,” said the dark haired man as he nodded towards his partner. Adrian stepped up and held out his hand. Simon then produced a small piece of paper from his tunic. It was folded twice into a small square and sealed with wax stamped with Marissa's personal seal. As we watched, Adrian broke the seal and read the script. No doubt it informed him that Simon was considered a friend, could be trusted, and was entitled to call upon her residence while she was away and come and go at his own pleasure.
“What’s your name, stranger?” asked Adrian.
“Simon. Simon of the Sardar.”
Adrian nodded, refolded the paper and handed it back to him. “The Lady seems to have granted you full and unrestricted access to her property. Were you planning on taking the girls inside with you?” His eyes lingered on me in particular.
“Well, yes.” Simon seemed bemused by the question.
“Free Women live here,” said Adrian, gesturing back with the thumb of his right hand. “They’re not going to like seeing your slaves, especially not dressed as they are.” We wore short slave tunics that revealed our legs and arms and the plunging neckline was particularly revealing in itself. “I’m not going to intervene if one of the women tries to hurt one of your girls, but I will intervene if you attempt to strike one of the women in return, do you understand?”
Simon gazed at Chloe and myself. “We won’t linger in the courtyard, and I will not strike any of the Free Women who live here.”
“It’s your choice. You might want to consider tethering the girls to an iron ring further down the street where the Free Women can't see them. Less provocative that way.” He pointed to one such ring that looked rusty and rarely used. It was perhaps fifteen yards down the street from the gate to this compound. I looked up at Simon in alarm at the thought of him leaving Chloe and myself there.
“Master,” I said, “This is Port Kar… please don’t leave us in the street… someone is likely to steal us….”
“You called me Master,” said Simon with a delighted smile. “Very good, Emma.” He touched my hair and ran it through his fingers. For myself I was terrified enough at the prospect of being abandoned that I wasn’t going to worry about having called him Master by accident.
“Please Master… even if you chain us securely, a man with a pair of bolt cutters could steal us away while you are inside.”
Simon looked up at the guards. “Can I trust the two of you to watch out and ensure no one attempts to steal either of these girls?”
The guards laughed at that. “This is Port Kar. If I said yes, would you believe me?” asked the dark haired man.
“I see. In that case I’ll take them with me.”
Chloe and myself stuck close to Simon as we walked briskly through the iron gates towards the left side of the courtyard where the heavy door to Marissa’s apartment could be seen. I heard two of the free women shouting the word ‘sluts’ as they caught sight of us in our brief tunics. They seemed angry that we had been allowed into their personal space, and I think if Simon had not been there they would have set upon us with sharp sticks, or possibly hurled stones. But Simon was a man and he was imposing enough with his height and broad shoulders to maintain the peace for the sufficient time it took for Chloe and myself to reach the wooden door.
“Please hurry, Master,” said Chloe as Simon thumped his fist against the door three times. A slit in the door itself opened and through it we could see a pair of eyes – eyes belonging to a woman, though not a free one.
“The Mistress is not at home, Master,” said a voice that immediately told me the slave on the other side of the door was English. Her Gorean was basic, accented and unmistakably that of an Earth girl abducted some time ago and taken to Gor to be a slave.
“Open the door,” said Simon. “I won't hurt you. It's Kiera, yes? I come on behalf of your Mistress.” He passed the paper through the slit in the door. It was unlikely that the girl, if she was from Earth, could read Gorean, but she would probably recognise the broken wax seal of her Mistress and understand what it therefore meant. I can read and write Gorean to an excellent standard by the way, but that is because I was recruited by Kurgus as an agent of the Kurii and I had the language embedded in my brain by their alien science. Girls brought to Gor to be slaves are not given the same education, and in fact learn to speak Gorean the hard way, with the threat of harsh punishments if they falter.
While we waited for the slave to slide the bolts back, Simon turned to glare at the three Free Women who watched Chloe and myself with barely disguised hatred. They had moved closer but were still wary enough of Simon to keep their distance. Perhaps they could not be sure that the guards at the gate would protect them.
It was obvious enough once the door swung open why the girl had been taken and abducted from Earth. Whoever she was she was incredibly beautiful, though that would have been a safe bet even sight unseen for Gorean slavers only select the cream of Earth women to be taken to the far side of the sun. She had the features of a model, or a rich girl who was descended from a succession of beauties claimed by rich men for their wives. Nevertheless she was now it seemed a woman’s slave and this meant some effort had been made to conceal the beauty of her body at least, for she wore a shapeless grey smock like garment, sleeveless yes, but with a hem that draped to below the knees. It was unbelted in order to conceal the no doubt exquisite curves of her body and as she knelt it draped like a tent against the floor. It was baggy and sack like and yet she was one of those lucky few who would have looked stunning if all she wore was a thread bare duvet cover. Free Women rarely display their female slaves provocatively for it is not in their interests to do so. They do not relish men lusting after their property and ignoring them in turn. But there was no mistaking the natural beauty of this girl as she knelt before Simon, to the side of the open doorway, her head meekly lowered and the word ‘master’ coming from her lips. Simon obviously liked what he saw for he stared for several seconds before a slight cough from myself brought him back to the here and now.
“You are Kiera, yes?” he asked.
The girl looked up and nodded, saying in broken but recognisable Gorean, “Yes Master, my Mistress has named me Kiera.”
The name was engraved on her steel collar, along with Marissa’s name as her owner. I could only imagine from my past experiences with Free Women what it must be like to actually be owned by one. There would be no pleasing them. It would be a horrible existence. You would be subject to their petty mood swings and constantly afraid of being punished for some imaginary fault. Women can be competitive bitches to one another at the best of times, but that is as nothing compared to how Free Women are to slave-girls.
“I am Simon of the Sardar. These are my two slaves, Emma and Chloe.”As he indicated us I regarded the girl with my standard ‘First Girl’ scrutiny. It’s always best to start off on the right footing when encountering another person’s slave. Let them know who’s boss before they try to do the same to you. I had learnt that the hard way over many years on Gor and I wasn't going to give any ground here.
“Slave,” I said to the girl, Kiera, in greeting. I placed my left hand on my hip and regarded her with an air of polite superiority. She regarded me back, apparently not happy that two slave-girls had entered the home of her Mistress. Oh, I don't think she objected to the presence of Simon – quite the opposite in fact – for if she was truly the slave of a Free Woman then presumably her contact with men would be very limited, and if she was anywhere near as sexual a girl as I was, that would leave her very frustrated indeed. So I imagine she relished any visit from a man, and especially the opportunity to converse with him. The presence of Chloe and myself however would be an unwelcome distraction.
“May I be of service, Master?” Kiera decided to ignore me completely and focussed on Simon instead. To my annoyance she quickly knelt in the position of nadu – that is with her thighs apart, though clad as she was in the long smock that hung below her knees, the sexual symbolism of the position was somewhat irrelevant. No doubt the little slut wished she was wearing a more revealing tunic such as the one I wore.
“Do you have paga, girl?” asked Simon, pleased with the beauty who deferred to him like this.
“Sadly no, Master, my Mistress does not drink paga. There is ka-la-na to hand? Please may I serve you?”
“Ka-la-na will do. Emma, Chloe, would you like some ka-la-na too?” he turned to regard us with a smile.
My eyes lit up, but then I quickly said, “not if I have to drink it from a shallow pan on the floor...”
Simon laughed softly and ruffled my hair with his hand. “There's no need for that, Emma, there isn't a Free Woman present, is there? You can have ka-la-na in a bowl which you can hold in your hands. How does that sound?”
I nodded eagerly. “Thank you, Si... Master...” I quickly remembered not to call him Simon in time. I would have preferred drinking from a ka-la-na goblet of course, but the hand held bowl would be good enough. It amused me to see the surprise on Kiera's face as Simon instructed her to fill two pottery bowls with ka-la-na as well as a goblet for himself. She regarded Chloe and I, realising now that we were obviously favoured slaves to be permitted to drink wine from a hand held bowl like that. Yep, suck it up, slave-girl – we're not like you, I thought to myself.
Kiera performed the serve of the wine with grace and as I took the bowl from her hand I smiled and said, “thank you, slave.” I made a point of standing as authoritatively as I knew how to after my many years as First Girl. I think pretty little Kiera knew now which girl here was in charge.
“Your Mistress keeps good wine,” said Simon with a smile as he glanced at the girl's lower legs.
“I wouldn't know, Master,” said Kiera rather pointedly as she saw two slaves drinking what she had never been permitted to taste.
“Perhaps you'd like to have some ka-la-na too, Kiera?” said Simon, quickly picking up on the subtle meaning behind the girl's words.
I was quick to interject as Kiera's eyes lit up at the thought of tasting wine. “That's probably not a good idea, Master,” I said. “The Mistress Marissa probably has firmly held views on what her kajira is permitted to eat and drink.”
“A fair point, Emma. Maybe another time, Kiera.” As Simon turned to regard the interior of the small apartment, Kiera shot me an angry look. I simply smiled and and gave her a 'whoops, sorry about that,' shrug of my shoulders.
Kiera was a little bit too pretty for my liking. I was glad she wore a shapeless smock like garment with a long hem line.
The apartment itself was small, and with the short narrow windows it must feel quite claustrophobic in the evenings with the heavy shutters closed and bolted in place. This comes as no surprise really since Port Kar is built on a series of small islands in a lagoon where land itself is at a premium and, like the cosmopolitan sprawl of cities like London, Singapore and New York, commands high prices. This area of Port Kar was reasonably dry, by which I mean it wasn't built on the water table itself, which made it even more expensive. Many areas of Port Kar feel permanently damp because of the criss-crossing intersections of canals and the close proximity of the sea which rises and falls with the tides. Marissa's apartment consisted of this small living area, maybe sixteen feet by twelve feet, a smaller bed room, possibly twelve feet by ten feet, a small storage room about the size of a large walk in wardrobe and a small alcove kitchen area, though the cooking itself would be done in the living area where there was a coal and wood burning stove on which pots and pans could be heated. I could see no sign of a bathroom and I suspected that the compound probably had a communal area for that since the residence was exclusively set aside for Free Women.
A heavy slave ring was set into one of the walls of the living room, and it would be there that Kiera would be chained at night while her Mistress slept on the couch in the bed chamber. But with all that aside, the apartment was clean, smelled pleasant, and was secure.
“I want you to give this to your Mistress when she returns, which hopefully will be any day now,” said Simon as he handed Kiera another piece of folded rence paper. “It has our address in Port Kar on it. When she returns here she is to find us and make contact. Do you understand?”
“Yes Master.” Kiera tentatively took the piece of paper without looking at what was written inside. As I watched, she licked her lips suggestively. It was obvious from the way that Kiera was looking at Simon, that she had not had the touch of a man in a long time. I recognised the need as she watched him pace around the apartment looking at Marissa's ornaments and possessions. I suppose Simon was curious to learn a little bit about the woman he would be working with here in Port Kar. As I watched he opened a wall closet and ran his hands through a number of expensive robes and gowns. Various shoes sat at the bottom of the closet along with some boxes that Simon opened one at a time. I think Simon was probably looking for documents that might prove illuminating, but there was nothing like that to be found. Marissa obviously wasn't an avid reader.
“You're from Earth, yes?” I said to Kiera. She knew now that I was the favoured slave girl here today, so there was no need to be aloof any further.
“Yes! Oh my God – are you from Earth too?”
“We both are,” I said, “though you wouldn't tell from my accent. You're English, yes? Your accent gives you away. Your Gorean isn't very good.”
“Yes! My name's Michelle Frost. I was abducted from London over nine...”
“I'm sure you were,” I said interrupting her before she could recount her life story. I didn't really have the time and by now I had heard similar stories many times over. “We all were. Though this ordeal will soon be over for me. Simon intends to free me.” I glanced about the apartment taking it all in, for it suddenly occurred to me that I would soon be living in a place much like this, though definitely not in Port Kar. Once Simon freed me, once I was a Free Woman again, a place like this would be my new life. Simon had suggested I could live with him as his 'kept woman' – an arrangement common enough in cities where Free Women found it hard to get by alone. There were advantages to living with a man under his protection, though I was unsure quite how intimate such relationships tended to be. They were very different from the Free Companionships which were the closest Gorean equivalent to marriage. What would a man expect of his 'kept woman' exactly? Simon had already suggested I would tend to the household chores and prepare food for him in the evenings, so it sounded very much like a domestic housewife role, but did it extend to sexual favours? I glanced at Simon and reminded myself how foolish my concerns were. It was Simon! He would never expect such a thing from me. No, once I was free he would treat me with respect and be sensitive to my feelings. He would ensure I had my own privacy – did he not say I would have my own room? There would be no pressure from Simon as regards intimacy. He simply wanted to ensure I was safe.
And even the household chores would not be onerous for surely we would have the resources to buy a slave to tend to them? Yes, I would expect as much from Simon. We would need to buy a girl to keep our apartment clean and tidy and to tend to his meals. Why should I have to do that once I was free? He obviously hadn't thought this through properly. A slave could do that. I would treat the girl well of course, provided she worked hard and obeyed me in all things. I would not be like the Gorean Free Women I had encountered over the years.
I suddenly realised Kiera was laughing softly.
“What's so funny?”
She seemed happy now as she crossed her arms and regarded me, speaking now in English. “Wow, you really are gullible, Emma, and living in dream land. You think a man is going to free you? Really? Here on Gor?”
“Yes, as it happens, I do. I will be free soon. Simon will remove this steel collar and free me.”
“Okay then, little Miss Special, answer me this…” now Kiera stood with her own left hand on her own hip facing me in the way I had stared her down earlier, “if your Master intends freeing you, why hasn’t he freed you already, hmm? That's a collar around your neck. You still look like a kajira to me.”
“Things have been happening,” I said. “He’s been busy. He said he’s going to free me and he will do. It just… things have been happening.”
“Oh?” Kiera looked amused.
“Look, I could ask him to free me now and he would,” I snapped. “It would be that easy.”
“Then what’s stopping you? I assume he has the key to your collar and there are plenty of dresses that would fit you in the wardrobe here? Afraid to broach the subject for fear of finding out the truth?” Kiera bared her teeth. “Face the fact – you're afraid to ask him, because the moment you do is the moment he says no and your silly little dream of freedom lies on the floor like shards of broken glass.”
“You won’t be so smug in a few minutes,” I said to Kiera. “Just watch,” and then I turned neatly on my toes and marched quickly into the kitchen area, past a surprised Chloe who had caught the tail end of the conversation. I found Simon stuffing vegetables into a hessian sack.
“Simon, you know that conversation we had earlier…”
“Emma, I thought we’d talked about this,” said Simon as he turned round with an annoyed expression on his face. “I thought we had an understanding that you called me Master from now on, hmm?”
“I… I’m sorry, I’m not thinking straight at the moment,” I said as I brushed some hair from my face. “I’m sorry, Master but what I wanted to say was…”
“Hold that thought, Emma,” said Simon as he put a finger to my lips, effectively shushing me. “How about you turn round, walk back into the living room, count to three and then come back in and start again? How does that sound?”
“I think that's best, don't you, Emma? Turn round, think how you should address me, and then come back inside.”
I walked back into the living room with my head held high as if this polite rebuke didn’t mean anything. I tried not to look at Kiera who was smiling and touching her collar in a meaningful way, but my peripheral vision is just too good not to notice her amused expression. I counted silently to three and then turned on the balls of my feet and walked back into the kitchen where Simon was continuing to examine and select various bits of food for his sack.
“Master…” I said meekly.
He glanced round and nodded. “That's better. You may speak, Emma.”
“Thank you, Master. We were speaking this morning and… well… wouldn’t this be a good opportunity to free me? I mean, since you said you would… there are a number of gowns and robes in the closet that would fit me, so…”
“You’re referring to the Lady Marissa’s gowns and robes, Emma?” Asked Simon as he placed a turnip in the sack. It was a red turnip, but I knew from past experience it tasted like a turnip.
“Yes, we’re broadly the same size, though my breasts are bigger, so if you freed me I’d have clothes to wear and…”
“Well now, we can’t simply just help ourselves to Lady Marissa’s clothes now, can we?” he said as he picked up a couple of choice bottles of ka-la-na and added them to the heavy sack. “I’m not sure she’d approve of you wearing her clothes. In fact I’m pretty sure she would say no.”
“We’re taking her food…” I pointed out.
“Emma, do you honestly think the Lady Marissa would begrudge me some food while I await her arrival?”
“Well, no, of course not, but…”
“Of course not. She likes me Emma, and we will be working together. If she knew I had no money here in Port Kar then she would tell me to feed myself at her expense. After all the food is no doubt purchased with operational expenses from Samos.”
“Well, yes, but…”
“But I really don’t think she'd be happy if I gave you some of her rich gowns to wear. To be honest, Emma, I don’t think you did much to win her favour when she met you in the Sardar. You could have made more of an effort to be nice to her.”
You have got to be fucking kidding… But I didn’t say that. I simply lowered my head and tried to look meek. “Even without the gowns, you could still free me, Master. You could say the words and remove the collar from my neck...”
“Well now, let’s think about this properly, Emma. Of course I’m going to free you, but now? Right now? This minute? You’d be a free woman wearing a scandalous slave tunic! Think of the shame! Think how humiliated you would feel. How could you step outside dressed like that? It certainly wouldn’t be appropriate. I’m not even sure it would be legal for a Free Woman to wear a slave tunic. I couldn't let you embarrass yourself like that in public. I think too highly of you to allow that.”
I glanced back towards the living room. I couldn’t walk back in there still wearing a collar… I couldn’t face the triumphant look on Kiera’s face if I did that. “Perhaps you could just say the words though… that you free me?” I placed the palm of my right hand tenderly on Simon’s chest and looked up at him with doe eyes. “Then you could tell the others, Chloe and Kiera, that I was now a free woman? And that I’d just be playing a role until you could find me some suitable clothing? That would work…”
“You see... now you're complicating things. Why complicate matters, Emma? You’re a beautiful slave girl – truly beautiful.” He cupped his hand under my chin and raised my head up to look at me. “It would just seem strange and confusing if you wore a collar but were free. I'd be confused, you'd be confused, Chloe would be confused. It’s much simpler if you remain a legal slave while you wear that collar, yes? I think that makes more sense, don’t you?”
“Please… please, Master… just say the words… just tell the others…” I begged.
“This is getting irritating now, Emma. You know I’m going to free you – why do you have to keep going on about it? I’ve done so much for you and yet all you do is complain and nothing is ever good enough. Frankly you give me a headache sometimes.”
Tears formed in my eyes, but these seemed to annoy Simon even more. “And now you’re doing that crying thing you do when you don't get your own way.” He turned and opened another overhead cupboard. “Honestly Emma, men don’t want to see their slave crying all the time. It’s not very pleasing.”
“You said you’d free me…”
“And I’m going to! But I can’t just do it now, don’t you see? I’ve already explained why! It's for your own good. You’re really pissing me off now! I shouldn’t have to put up with this sort of behaviour! You should be smiling and pleasant and pleased to be with me. Things could be a lot, lot worse for you, Emma. Have you considered that?”
I began to feel scared as I looked up and saw his eyes narrow and harden as he continued. “Most men would not put up with this behaviour from a slave-girl. Now go back in the living room and wait until I'm finished. I don't want to talk about this any more. Just be the best slave-girl you can possibly be for the time being.”
I felt like I was walking a gallows march as I miserably re-entered the living room. I couldn’t meet Kiera’s eyes now.
“Still wearing a collar, I see, 'special girl',” she said as she walked towards me, sensing the power balance had shifted somewhat.
“It’s complicated,” I said quietly.
“Yeah, obviously complicated… slave.” She stood beside me and touched my steel collar. “That’s not coming off any time soon, Emma. Time to smell the coffee and face facts. You don’t see the way your Master looks at you when your back is turned and you can’t see him doing so, do you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Every time you look away, he stares at you. Stares like a hungry man stares at a juicy bosk steak. Guess who’s the bosk steak? No, he’s not going to free you. Not ever.”
“He will! He said so! I’m going to be free again!” I sobbed. I clenched my hands into small fists.
“And yet, here we are, dressed in a skimpy slave tunic with a collar locked around your throat. Pretty little slave. Pretty little slave who thinks she's going to be free.”
“Shut up! Shut up!”
“You were so snotty and rude to me when you came in here. Like you were something special. Well you’re not, Emma. You’re just another pretty face in a slave collar. Get used to it.” She stabbed a finger at my chest and I snapped. I was suddenly on her, hissing and pulling her hair and I quickly bowled her over onto the floor, swearing at her as she struggled in my grip. As always I took the girl by surprise before she knew I was going to do something like that.
Kiera was screaming loudly as I held her down by her lovely long hair. One of her arms flailed up and caught me on the side of the face, it swung back and her nails came out to try and rake my cheeks, but I swatted it aside with my right fist and then raised that fist ready to hit her back hard. But my wrist was suddenly seized in a strong grip and I found myself being pulled back by Simon, away from the fallen slave-girl. I had forgotten just how strong Simon was these days, for he flung me easily onto the tiled floor where I slid until I made contact with the far wall.
“Emma! Stop it! What the hell are you doing?!” shouted Simon. I rolled onto my side and made to lift myself onto my hands and knees as Kiera pulled herself back to the furthest wall away from me. She glared at me through a tangled fringe of hair as I snarled and hissed in her direction and she hissed back, baring her nails again. Chloe looked shocked as Simon strode forward, took me by the shoulders and shook me hard.
“Stop it, Emma! I fucking mean it! Stop! Now!”
“She…” I began babbling, but Simon simply cut me off.
“I don’t care. I don’t want to know. I’m not interested in the petty squabbling of slave girls.”
“Petty squabbling!” I struggled in his grip, and Simon responded by throwing me on to my belly, pulling my arms back and securing my wrists tightly behind the small of my back with binding fibre and capture knots. I sobbed, unable to put up any more resistance now that I was tied like this. I simply lay on my belly as the fading adrenaline left me feeling shaken and weak. Kiera curled herself into a ball of sorts, tucking her knees up under her chin as she sat with her back to the far wall watching me.
“Who started this?” said Simon to Chloe.
“Um, I’m afraid Emma sprang at Kiera,” said Chloe. “They were arguing I think.”
“This is ridiculous, Emma. You were a First Girl once. This is exactly the sort of behaviour you wouldn't have had any patience with if it had occurred amongst the girls on Brinn’s estate. You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re lucky the Lady Marissa wasn’t here to see the way you acted. Apologise to Kiera for your outburst, Emma.”
“What? You can't be serious!” I struggled as Simon lifted me up onto my knees. “I'm not apologising to a slave!”
“Oh, I am very serious, Emma. Do not test me on this. Apologise to her now.”
“Or what?” I stared at him defiantly, for I knew that Simon could never beat me.
“Or...” he thought about this for a moment. “Or I will appoint Kiera as First Girl and leave you with her here for the remainder of the day. Kiera, is there a slave whip in this house?”
“There is Master,” said Kiera as she rose now and walked towards me. “Leave her with me, Master. Appoint me as First Girl. You will have an eager to please slave-girl when you return, that I promise you.”
I had my head down now at Kiera's feet and I was apologising. “I am sorry, Mistress. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. I am sorry.”
“See, Emma, that wasn't so hard now, was it,” said Simon as he lifted my head back up and motioned for a disappointed looking Kiera to step away.
“Please don't go in there, Simon.” We stood outside a paga tavern with a sign hanging above it that read 'The Four Chains'. It was owned by Procopius Minor, and was located close to Pier Sixteen between two warehouses that we reached via a rickety swing bridge that had seen better days, and then by a narrow flat bottomed boat. After walking back from the Lady Marissa's apartment Simon had purchased Chloe and myself a late but hot breakfast roll with one of his remaining coins that we had shared, kneeling in the early afternoon sea mist that clung with its coiled tendrils over the slick, wet paving slabs that run alongside the narrow waterways. We shivered in our slave tunics and wished for a cloak of some kind to keep us warm. Then Simon had urged us on, away from the dingy, narrow tenement building in which our garret room lay, and on to find a paga tavern.
“I need to think, and Brinn always told me that a man does his best thinking over paga,” said Simon as he counted the few remaining coins he had. We passed by a couple of girls who knelt by the side of a canal. They looked hungry, dirty, and they were dressed in ragged tunics, not much different than the tunics of slave-girls, but these girls wore no collars and they had no brands. They were two of the she-urts common to Port Kar – destitute Free Women who foraged for scraps of food in the gutters and side streets of the city. They paid little attention to us as we walked past, though they were careful that we didn't approach within arm's reach, for they could see how strong Simon looked. Despite their threadbare tunics and muddied limbs, they were pretty enough I suppose. Simon regarded them with interest. We would soon see more of these girls as we crossed the swing bridge. There was a third girl who was scooping up fruit rinds that floated in the canal, and a fourth who ran down an alleyway, pursued by a group of three other girls that she had perhaps angered, or whose territory she had trespassed on. In some ways the girls reminded me of the Panther Girls of the Northern Forest, except of course the Panther Girls fed well and carried themselves with an air of superiority that these she-urts lacked.
On the whole the she-urts are left alone by the authorities, though every once in a while a cursory attempt is made to round some of them up. However, they are free, and therefore accorded the rights of a Free Woman.
Port Kar does not recognise the institution of Free Companionship, and so it is a sad fact that many of its women, having no such rights under law, can descend into penury and find themselves living on the streets. Ironically it is then the case that many slaves have a better standard of living, for at least they have guaranteed meals and a dry place in which to sleep at night.
A cold wind was blowing from the Thassa, and the narrow canal structure of Port Kar meant that it was funnelled between the buildings that lined the canals. Seagulls wheeled overhead, carried aloft by the wind, squawking and scavenging for scraps of fish and offal, just about visible through the clammy mist that settled like some diaphanous veil over the cobbled lanes. Although sparse and sketchy in places, it seemed to suffocate the city, settling like some grimy grey shroud. There was a sombre, sallow mood about Port Kar, and I felt on edge, fearful, tense, as I paced along the line of the canals, following Simon against my better judgement.
We passed a young girl, possibly fifteen or sixteen years old, hands outstretched, her cheeks sucked in with hunger. She looked cold in the frayed remnants of what had once been a gown. It had been torn or cut short so that she might move quickly if necessary and be able to run from pursuers. Chloe threw a chunk of her half of the hot roll to the girl, and I watched as the girl seized it in mid air, not quite believing her luck, and then ran as quickly as she could, into the mist, to find somewhere safe to eat it.
I hate paga taverns. My first argument with Brinn, shortly after he bought me, was at a paga tavern, when he threw me to a table full of men while he enjoyed himself with some slut whose name now escapes me.
So yes, I hate paga taverns.
A paga tavern serves as bar, restaurant and brothel for men who don't own a slave of their own, and many men who do but relish some variety. It is a sociable environment, much like an Earth pub, with the added availability of slave-girls on tap. Sometimes they simply play Kaissa there – the Gorean version of chess, while others may enjoy watching a slave-girl dance in a central sand pit. Gossip abounds in a paga tavern, and Brinn always said he would tour paga taverns when first arriving at a new city, for it was the best place to learn the lay of the land.
The Four Chains was typical amongst paga taverns, in that it was filled with a number of low, mismatched tables of various sizes. The tables are low of course as Goreans rarely use chairs, instead they sit cross-legged on the floor at these tables. There was indeed a sandpit in the Four Chains which could be used for wrestling spars, but at the moment was occupied by a lithe, long legged red head who danced for the pleasure of the dozen or so men who had started drinking at some unearthly hour in the morning. Or perhaps they had been drinking all night, and had yet to stop. It was hard to tell. The tavern had an area of curtained pleasure alcoves to the side where men and slaves retire for sexual pleasure, for the girls are typically available with the purchase of a cup of paga. The cheap availability of slave-girls in such venues astonished me at first, for it was literally the case that you could have sex with one of them by simply paying for an alcoholic drink. Imagine if that were the case in a Weatherspoon pub on Earth! Free sex with a beautiful woman for the price of a pint of Carling lager...
I could see at the far end a kitchen area separated from the main drinking room by a beaded curtain. Swing doors or beaded curtains make it easy for slave-girls to navigate through carrying trays of food or drinks.
I could smell smoke in the air, and the smell of hot grease from the cooking intermingled with sweat, and of course the strong smell of fermented beer and paga. Ka-la-na wine is not typically drunk much in a paga tavern. Men simply do not seem to ask for it there. The ceiling here was low, though adequate for Chloe and myself, but it brushed precariously close to Simon's head as he passed. A man gazed at me and his eyes moved to take in my long legs, the swell of my breasts through the figure hugging slave tunic. He was cruel looking, with sun-kissed leather skin and black hair that hung in thick oiled dreadlocks about his impassive face. He was of Port Kar, and he was like the sea – savage and unrelenting. His face bore scars that seemed self-inflicted, such were the meticulous patterns they seemed to form, and as I passed he suddenly barked at me, making me jump, making me cling to Simon's arm in fear. Then he laughed and swilled paga from a heavy pewter cup into his mouth, and he spat where our feet passed.
I do not like paga taverns.
The pleasure alcoves here were small, I think, because the paga tavern was small (think of the dimensions of a typical London pub) and their entrances were circular, maybe twenty-four inches in diameter. Here in the Four Chains they were stacked in levels – again to maximise the available space - and the openings were reached by narrow ladders fixed into the walls. I have never been in a pleasure alcove but other slaves have told me that once inside the alcove has curved walls and is about four feet high and five feet wide, lit by a small lamp which is set into a niche in the wall. Alcoves are typically lined with red silk and floored with layers of thick love furs (usually seven inches deep) and cushions. Each alcove comes complete with a selection of ropes, chains and slave whips, catering for all preferences of the customer. Additional equipment can be requested from a storage cupboard at the rear of the tavern.
There were maybe ten girls working in the Four Chains this morning, and all of them wore clinging wraparound diaphanous silks with deep plunging necklines. The silks had bow ties, meaning a simple tug could strip a girl completely. The girls ranged in beauty from maybe three truly exquisite girls, to girls who were simply pretty, to one or two girls who were perhaps slightly below average in beauty. And yet, I noticed that one of the girls that I might have assessed as being below average in beauty, she seemed to be extremely popular with the men drinking paga. Perhaps she was exceptionally good in the furs. It was possible.
All the girls wore collars of course, and all the girls had pierced ears. Piercing the ears of slave-girls is growing extremely common throughout Gor, though it is not yet by any means universal. One thing is sure, that girls without pierced ears regard girls with pierced ears as beneath them. A pierced ear girl is said to be the lowest form of slave, though once we outnumber the non-ear pierced girls, maybe the tables will turn and we may then dictate what is the norm.
There were no Free Women present, which was hardly a surprise, especially in a place such as Port Kar, where all the unsavoury aspects of a paga tavern would be magnified ten fold. In fact, more often than not Free Women are not permitted in most paga taverns, though a few progressive places (usually in forward thinking cities such as Ar or Ko-Ro-Ba) allow them to enter if they so wish.
Two of the paga girls closest to the door as we entered knelt before Simon and spoke some words of welcome that brought a smile to his lips. I could see on his face the expression of a man of Earth who had never been to a lap dancing club before, but had been persuaded by work colleagues to attend, and was now revelling in the sight of semi-naked beautiful women offering to dance for him.
I could see Chloe looked nervous, for the interior reeked of testosterone. I think we were the only privately owned girls in the establishment, as obviously enough there is little need for men to bring their own slaves here. What is the point? You go to a paga tavern after all to sample another man's girls for variety. Often when men do bring their own girls to a paga tavern they choose to fasten them with chains to slave rings set into one of the walls. Personal slaves are usually braceleted and told to kneel quietly while their Masters enjoy themselves with the paga sluts instead.
I took Chloe's hand and gave it a tight squeeze. “There are enough girls serving here that we won't be bothered,” I said with a whisper. “Just stay close to Simon. We obviously belong to him, not the tavern.”
Some of the men regarded Simon as he pushed his way deeper into the tavern. To a casual glance Simon looked tall and strong, and despite his handsome, maybe even pretty features, he looked strong enough to look after himself, and so no one here gave him any trouble. I had butterfly nerves in my stomach as I followed very close to my Master.
“Paga,” said Simon as he reached a table, calling out to a short blonde girl. I gazed at the girl and saw her gaze at me. It was obvious that when she had seen Simon she had liked what she had seen. After all, he was quite handsome. Pretty even. He was broad shouldered, strong, tall. I suppose slave-girls in a paga tavern, knowing that they come with the price of a cup of paga, might well want to serve Simon. I scowled as I looked at the girl. She could see that Simon was my Master, and that I no doubt wore his collar. The look she gave me made it clear there would be no love between us.
“Of course, Master. My name is Aphris, if it pleases you.” The girl kneeled in submission before him. I took that cue to kneel to the right of Simon, while Chloe kneeled by his left hand side. I held my head up high, proudly. I was an owned girl, and I obviously belonged to Simon.
Simon looked at me, suddenly surprised to see how closely I was kneeling beside him. I was practically touching his body.
“Emma...” he said with a smile.
“Master,” I said, as I touched his thigh. I shot a glance at Aphris and suppressed a smile at the look of irritation on her face.
“What's got into you all of a sudden,” said Simon with a soft chuckle. He placed his hand on mine and kept it there on his thigh. I could see he was pleased with this small sign of affection.
As Aphris watched, I quickly leaned forward and kissed Simon on the lips, drawing back a moment or two later. Aphris understood now who was in charge in this tavern, and that it was Emma of London.
“Emma...” said Simon again, even more pleasantly surprised. I smiled at him and shook my head, showing off my beautiful earrings to Aphris. Hers were quite plain in comparison. The poor girl. “I obviously need to buy you hot rolls for breakfast more often,” said Simon, mistakingly assuming my warmth was a consequence of a full belly.
I wasn't really listening, as I was more interested in watching Aphris slink away to prepare Simon's paga. Once she was out of sight I turned back to Simon and said, “I suppose you find her attractive?”
“Well, she's obviously a very beautiful woman, yes. Even more so because of the pleasure silks she's wearing.”
“They're cheap silks. You can buy better ones in the market.” It was true. Girls who work in paga taverns usually wear cheap silk because it never lasts long what with all the cooking grease in the air, and the rough handling.
“Well, I don't know about that. The silks simply look very good on her.”
“Typical.” I sniffed. “I suppose you're thinking of taking her to an alcove?”
“Do you think I should, Emma? She comes with the price of the paga after all.”
“I think we shouldn't even be here. Places like this are dangerous, Simon.”
“Master, Emma. You call me Master while we are in Port Kar. Try to remember that.”
“Master, then.” It had been an innocent mistake, as I didn't really think of Simon as 'Master' material.
“Perhaps I should take you to a pleasure alcove, hmm?” Simon grinned.
“Don't be ridiculous,” I snapped.
“What's the point of owning a luscious slave-girl like Emma of London, if I can't take her to a pleasure alcove?”
“Your paga is coming,” I said quickly, and pointed at the now returning figure of Aphris, in her slutty cheap silks.
“So it is.” Simon watched as Aphris knelt on the boards of the floor and presented the cup. The custom in paga taverns is for the cups to be filled from a vat and brought to the table by a slave-girl. You can of course simply walk up to the bar and order the drink yourself, but where is the pleasure in that?
“Please remember that Aphris comes with the price of the paga,” she said with her head bowed. And of course she did.
“Thank you, Aphris,” said Simon as he raised the cup to his lips. “You may leave the table for the time being, but remain attentive for my commands. I may require more paga.”
The girl nodded. “Of course, Master. As you command.” She darted another glance at me and obviously assumed she was being sent away because Simon intended using either Chloe or myself in the pleasure alcoves. I may then have casually stuck my tongue out at her when Simon wasn't looking. Was that bad of me?
“So you see, Emma, I haven't simply come here for sex with a slave-girl. My motives are professional.”
“I suppose. But then why are we here? I don't like being in a paga tavern. There are many men looking at us right now.” I didn't dare look back at any of them for fear it might prompt one or more to attend our table.
“We're here because I’m doing what Brinn always did – I’m listening. He would sit for hours at a time in a paga tavern, apparently nursing a cup of paga, listening to the conversations going on around him. He would learn a lot from the gossip and conversations.”
“Nursing a cup of paga…” I snorted. “You obviously didn’t go drinking with him much…”
“I’m sure he took his work for the Priest Kings seriously. Try it. Listen to the table to your right. Hear what they’re talking about. Then tell me.”
I nodded and turned my attention, without being too obvious about it, to the nearby table where three men were sat together, with paga girls in attendance. They played with the girls as they conversed. I listened for a few minutes and was interested by what I heard. There was no practical application of the information to our work, but it was interesting nonetheless.
“So then,” said Simon as he drank his paga. “What did you hear?”
“The men are pirates. Quelle surprise. They talk of some legendary woman who sails a ship on the Black Coast. They call her Yishana, the Ubara of the Black Coast.”
“And?” Simon seemed intrigued by the title.
“She too is a pirate raider. She somehow commands a fast ram ship called the Larl of the Thassa and she is a legend on the ocean close to Schendi. I find this hard to believe, but she commands a crew of loyal Askaris and she plunders ships of Cos. She, like her men, is from the Black Ubardoms. Like her men she wears a shift of bright cloth about her loins, and she stands on her command deck with a spear and shield. She has long braided hair and a savagery when it comes to hunting down ships of Cos. She has even engaged ships of Port Kar and apparently sunk them, though the conversation seems to imply the Port Kar ships hunted her and came off worse.”
“Interesting,” said Simon. “Of no use to us, but interesting. It is unusual for a woman on Gor to wield that sort of authority over warriors.”
“I like the sound of her,” I said. “Why shouldn’t a woman command men?”
“Because Gorean men will not have it so,” said Simon. “Or so I was always led to believe. Men do not follow women into battle.”
“She sounds magnificent.”
“She is probably an urban myth. Or a pirate myth. I can’t believe a ship full of Askaris would actually obey her for so long. They're more likely to put her in a collar and use her for their own pleasure. There is no doubt more to the story than first appears.”
“You just don’t like the idea of a woman on Gor being a Pirate Captain.”
“I’m a realist, Emma. I have first hand experience of what Gor is like. Such things do not exist.”
“There was Tarna. She was in command of raiders in the Tahari until it is said Tarl Cabot defeated her. And she was real. I actually met her in my father’s house in Elysium. She was real.”
“Brinn tells me she was likely a puppet of her Kurii masters, no more no less. She held power so long as they permitted it. That is possible on Gor where men are forced to obey a woman because a higher power dictates it so. The Enemy make use of women as agents quite often. You were one, yes?”
“I was. I was the Lady Felicia of Corcyrus. I served Kurgus.”
“But the only power you had was the power Kurgus allowed you. You had no power without Kurgus.”
It was true. I had depended on men for my authority at the time.
“Gor is unfair,” I said.
“Possibly. That is because Gor is natural. Only the natural laws hold sway here. That, and of course the laws of the Priest Kings, but they do not interfere in the way men relate to women.”
“Sometimes you almost sound Gorean yourself, Simon. You can’t possibly approve of the way things are on Gor. You’re from Earth. You respect women. You know we are your equals.”
“My views on the subject aren’t as rigid as they once were, Emma. Experience has taught me much. It is obvious enough that women are, on average, physically weaker than men. Therefore we are not completely equals.”
“Strength isn’t that important.”
“On Gor it is. On Gor strength counts for a lot.” Simon smiled and took my left wrist in a tight grip and as I cried out he forced my hand down onto the low table. “Free yourself from my grip,” he said.
I tired. I pulled and I pulled and I strained as best I could, but I couldn’t free myself. “I can’t! You know I can’t!”
“Why can’t you?”
“Because you’re stronger than me.”
“And so you wear a collar and a slave tunic, while I am free and drink paga. Because on Gor there are no protections afforded to you by artificial social customs to make up for the inequality in strength. Here, I could if I wished, take you to the pleasure alcove and chain you inside by your left ankle. And you would have to please me, or else I could use the whip on you. Would you dare to resist?”
“No.” My voice was quiet. “You know I wouldn’t.”
“And why is that?”
“Because I fear the whip.”
“But surely you could take the whip from me and overpower me?”
“No. You know I couldn’t.”
“So you see, we are not so equal after all. We are not nearly equal in fact.” Simon drank some more of his paga.
“I don’t like you when you’re like this. You sound Gorean.”
Simon laughed. “It’s me, Emma. I’m still Simon. You shouldn’t be scared.” He touched my chin with his fingers and lifted my head up. “Have I ever hurt you?”
“No. No you haven’t.”
“Call me Master.”
I swallowed hard. “No you haven’t, Master.”
“You’re kneeling in Tower,” he said with a frown. I had always done so in Simon’s presence. Kneeling in nadu with parted thighs seemed far too sexual and inappropriate when I was alone with him, since he was from Earth, and so I commonly knelt before him as I might kneel to a Free Woman, with my thighs and knees together. That seemed more appropriate, more fitting in Simon's presence. He after all respected me. “From now on unless a Free Woman is present, you will kneel before me with your knees apart in nadu, as a kajira should. Do so now.” He smiled.
“I hate you!” I sobbed as I did as he said. I felt open, exposed, vulnerable now.
“It is more convincing, Emma, that is all,” said Simon as he gazed at my wide spread thighs. True, my brief slave tunic covered my sex, but I would be open to his casual touch if he so chose. “You wear a collar, Emma. Presumably it has writing upon it? What does it say?”
“It says I am the property of Simon of the Sardar.” I blushed.
“I could get used to owning women,” said Simon as he studied me closely. “I am beginning to understand the attraction.”
“Owning women is wrong! You know it is. It's not right.”
“Right and wrong are subjective, Emma. It doesn't really matter whether I think it is right; I am only one man. Here on Gor, Goreans hold to different values. What you consider to be wrong, they would consider to be right. Goreans believe that female slavery is in fact 'right'.”
“But it isn't!”
“But you are in the minority there. Even most Free Women approve of female slavery, provided they themselves are not actually enslaved. Here on Gor your views are radically abnormal to the point where men and women view them as deranged. I'm not saying I approve of the institution of female slavery on Gor, I'm just being honest enough to admit I can appreciate the attraction of owning a woman.”
“And you own me.”
“Yes I do. It's a pleasing thought, I admit.” Simon drank some more of his paga. “You do look beautiful in a collar and slave tunic, kneeling before me with your thighs apart. I can understand why a man would want to keep you like that.”
“I will not let you speak to me like this when you free me.”
“No doubt. But you are not yet free, are you, Emma?”
“So then...” Simon finished his paga and placed the empty cup on the low table. I was angry by now and I showed it, turning my head away. Everywhere I looked there were men – strong men – taking and using the lithe, scantily clad girls who served in the paga tavern. This was the natural order on Gor that Simon referred to. The subjugation of my adopted sex.
“I don't know about other girls, but sometimes I feel it's right that I should be in a collar,” said Chloe without any warning.
“Chloe?” I gazed at her in surprise, and saw Simon smiling as he regarded her. She crossed her wrists before her body and presented those crossed wrists to Simon in submission.
“I feel fulfilled after last night, Master. I feel vibrant, alive, happy.” She looked up with a teasing smile that seemed to make Simon's blood run hot. “I don't understand the sexual politics of the matter - all I know is I feel good because I am your slave. That can't be wrong.”
“Chloe, you're really not helping here,” I snapped.
“Let her speak, Emma. I would like to hear what she has to say,” said Simon as he placed his hand on Chloe's thigh and, as the girl squealed in delight, he moved his hand down towards her sex.
“I think many women secretly desire this, Master. I do. I have been a slave long enough to admit it. I was very happy in my collar last night. I won't speak for Emma, but I feel slavery is right for me. I think I am a natural slave, and on Gor it is therefore right that men make me a slave.”
“Oh?” Simon seemed very interested by this admission.
“You have no idea how we can feel at times. It is incredible. Beyond anything I would ever experience as a Free Woman.” Chloe glanced towards the pleasure alcoves, some of which had curtains drawn, while the others were open to reveal glimpses of the soft furs, the lamps, and the arrangement of chains. “You are a man, Master, and you are strong physically. You are right when you say that means something on Gor. Here, if you see a slave-girl, you can have her, as and when you wish. That is your birthright on Gor. It is, as you say, natural. I am such a slave-girl, and I wear your collar, and after last night, I am pleased that I do wear it, Master. I do not want to be cherished and respected by you. I need a strong Master to feel fulfilled.”
“Chloe, this really isn't a good idea...” I said.
“Emma, I told you to be quiet.” There was a look in Simon's eyes that reminded me suddenly of a Gorean man. “Chloe is being honest. I appreciate that. You will not interrupt her.”
“Or what?” I snapped. “What exactly?”
Simon thought about this for a moment. He glanced at the pleasure alcoves and looked back at me. “I see there is a whip hanging in the open alcove over there.” He indicated it with his right hand.
“So...” I looked at it and felt a growing sense of unease. Fucking Chloe. Why did she say what she did? No good would come of Chloe reassuring Simon that this 'natural order of Gor' was something he might embrace.
“You need me to say it?”
“You're actually suggesting... You have no right!”
“I have every right, Emma. I legally own you. You wear my collar. For the last time, shut up. Understand?”
I lowered my head and nodded once. I did not wish to be whipped.
“I find myself confused at times,” said Simon as he stroked Chloe's inner thighs. The girl began moaning softly like the hot slut she was, making it abundantly clear what she wanted. “Between the way I was brought up on Earth, and the way things are here on Gor. There are things I desire, and I often feel guilty for desiring them.”
“There is nothing to be confused about, Master. You are a man on Gor. I wear your collar. See.” She touched the steel about her throat. “I feel fulfilled when a man treats me as a slave, as you did last night. You are doing nothing wrong.” As she spoke, she raised her wrists above her head and crossed them there, lifting the swell of her breasts as Simon aroused her with his hand, as if she might be chained to a slave ring set on the wall. “Can't you see I want this? I need this? And Master, bear in mind that, just like Emma, I respond exquisitely to bondage. I would be a wild slut if you chained me,” she said with an enticing smile. “Oh!” But she suddenly realised what she had said about me, and gazed in anguish, the fingers of her right hand over her mouth. “I'm sorry, Emma! I didn't mean to say that!”
“Chloe! For fuck's sake!”
“Interesting.” Simon laughed, ignoring my sudden outburst as he turned to me. “Do you respond exquisitely to bondage, Emma?”
I said nothing.
“Emma has assured me before that that is not the case,” said Simon. “She says she is different. Chloe? Is she truly a natural slave like you?”
“Please Master, I shouldn't have said that... I meant only to speak about myself...”
“I asked you a question, Chloe. Answer truthfully,” said Simon with a hint of warning. “You wear my collar remember.”
“She is, Master,” said Chloe, gasping now as Simon's touch began to drive her to despair. “We both are! Ohhh...” She was squirming to Simon's touch as she spoke. “Emma is every bit as slave as I am. She becomes a passionate hot slut when she is chained to a couch and aroused by the hand of a Master. I have seen it. I am sorry, Emma...” she added quickly in between gasps of pleasure. “I have to answer him truthfully.”
“I see.” Now Simon looked at me again in the way a Gorean man might look at me. “You will not lie to me again in future, Emma.”
I said nothing.
“And in future, you will always answer me when I speak to you. Is that clear? No more of these pouting silences.”
“Yes, Master,” I said quickly.
“Whose collar do you wear? Who do you belong to?”
“I belong to Simon of the Sardar, Master.”
“Do you think this is some sort of game? Do you think you are simply playing a role? Do you think I am weak because I come from Earth? Do you think I am easily manipulated?”
“No, Master.” I didn't like this gradual change in Simon.
“I am going to ask you a simple question now, Emma, and I am going to look deep into your eyes while you answer it. I have known you for many years, and I know when you're lying or trying to be sly to avoid a question. If you lie to me now, I will send you on your hands and knees to fetch a whip between your teeth from an alcove. Now answer me truthfully: do you feel aroused when a Man dominates you?”
“Yes, Master...” I whispered.
“Is it right that a natural slave wears a collar on Gor?”
“Please, Master... I'm Emma...” I opened the palms of my hands open on my thighs in an effort to appease him. “Don't do this...”
“I think I have been far too accommodating with you, Emma. You have been moody, unpleasant, argumentative, and quite ungrateful for all I have done for you. I think a stricter discipline from here on in is appropriate, for your own good. On the way back home today, I intend to buy a slave switch from the market place. I will hang it from a hook on the couch in our room. Do you understand what that means for the future?”
“Yes, Master...” I was close to tears.
“You will be subject to Gorean discipline from now on. This is for your own good. Do not test me on this.”
“What ill fates beset me! What vile forces of despair conjoin to afflict me with all manner of woes!” The voice was loud, booming and overly dramatic, and it was coming from the bar where the paga vat was kept. Chloe, Simon and myself turned to see who was speaking like that. “Truly I am ruined tonight! Ruined! Only paga can sweep away the onset of despair at such foul misfortune that has struck me today. Bartender! Take pity on me and fill my cup with the fruits of the paga tree so that I may drink myself to an early grave in abject sorrow. Sadly no one on Gor of any merit shall mourn my passing.” I saw a rather larger than life man enter the paga tavern and stride theatrically towards the bar with exaggerated steps. He was paunchy and dressed in flamboyantly striped robes, with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He looked very out of place amongst all the pirates, brigands and rogues who frequented the paga taverns in this area of the docks.
The bartender looked at the man and sniffed. “Are you some sort of actor?”
“Why, yes! But no mere actor, rather the custodian of a portfolio of plays so endearingly fabulous that I have trodden the boards of the greatest stages throughout Gor. Boots Tarsk-Bit, sometimes known as Renato the Great, auteur, at your service.” He fumbled in his belt pouch for coins and seemed disappointed by what he found. He placed a chipped and possibly heavily shaved copper coin of small denomination on the wooden bar. “No doubt you are an enthusiastic patron of the theatre and offer substantial discounts – possibly even a 'three cups for one' offer – for thespians of genius such as myself!”
So this was Boots Tarsk-Bit, the travelling Player? Many years ago Rachel had taken me to see one of his plays in Corcyrus the night before she had left on her secret mission for Kurgus. The play I recall had been dreadful – a second rate pornographic farce in which no subtlety was tolerated. It had been terribly demeaning to women. I understand now it was pretty typical of Gorean theatre, which by and large caters for the tastes and preferences of men. No Free Woman would perform in such a play of course, and therefore only slave-girls tread the boards, though the male parts are traditionally acted by Free Men. It would be scandalous for a Free Woman to demean herself by 'acting'. Furthermore, it is common practice for a travelling theatre troupe to auction off use of their 'actresses' for the night following a performance. This brings in additional revenue to the company which often relies not on ticket prices but on voluntary donations from the audience after each performance. It is natural enough that a man watching the play might become interested in one of the girls taking part, and might therefore be prepared to part with coin afterwards to become acquainted with her rather more keenly.
I pitied slaves that were compelled to be part of such a production. How terrible it must be for them.
“It's the same price as for anyone else. And for your information, I've never been to the theatre. I'm allergic to sawdust.”
“Never been to the theatre?” Boots seemed incredulous. “Why, Sir, then you have barely lived! Man can not live on bread and water alone! The mind! The mind itself needs sustenance. Feed the mind and your body will follow.”
The barman scooped up the coin, looked at it closely and said, “this coin has been shaved.”
“Really?” It seemed news to Boots who took it back and examined it closely in the dim light of the smokey paga tavern. “There are a small number of groove markings maybe, but certainly no damage that might indicate precious metals being cut from the sides...”
“I know a shaved coin when I see one. That one will get you just half a cup of paga.”
“Outrageous! Is this the way Port Kar's custodians of refreshments hound and victimise travelling artists who seek to enrich their lives? I would not have faced such slander in Cos...”
“Fuck off back to Cos then, or sit down and drink half a cup of paga. Your choice.”
Boots rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “On reflection I shall make do with the half cup. No doubt a luscious paga girl is still part of the price?”
“You can use Midia. She's the one with a squint.”
“Excuse me, Sir,” said Simon as Boots passed by our table in search of a vacant one, “I just wanted to say I saw two of your plays last year.”
“You did?” Boots's face lit up with pride. “You Sir, are obviously a man of refinement and learning – a rare thing in this establishment it seems.” He shot a glance back at the surly bartender. “I trust they did not disappoint?”
“You were performing at the Sardar fair, and yes, they were amusing. You'd be welcome at my table if you wished. My name is Simon. These are my two slaves, Emma and Chloe.”
“And how delightful they are,” said Boots with an obvious leer as he took a seat, sitting cross legged opposite Simon, and very close to myself. I shifted in alarm as his hand caressed my thigh. “They must bring you a lot of pleasure.”
“I can vouch for Chloe in the furs,” said Simon. “She is exquisite and eager to please a man, but I have not had Emma since I bought her.”
“You have not yet sampled the honeyed nectar of this ravishing beauty?” said Boots in surprise. I squealed in alarm as his hand reached under my tunic and touched me intimately. “She is then a recent purchase today?”
“Emma? Oh no, I've owned her now for several weeks.”
“And in all that time you have not put her to use? She is perhaps white silk and you have a sale in mind?”
“She's not white silk,” said Simon. “But she's not for use.”
I was incredibly thankful for those words because I had a very good idea what Boots's next question might otherwise have been as we sat close to the curtained alcoves where girls might be led on a chain to be ravished. I did not wish to be ravished by Boots Tarsk Bit. I clung to Simon's arm and looked down at the table, not daring to meet Boots's eyes and inflame his passions any further.
“She seems shy and bashful. The little tease. No doubt she is overcome with sexual feelings for me?” enquired Boots.
“Possibly,” said Simon as he glanced at me. “I have been told she is a natural slave and responds exquisitely to bondage. I have been somewhat lax with her in the past, but that may now change.”
I squirmed, horrified to hear Simon say something like that about me.
“But tell me Boots, for I overheard some of your conversation with the tavern owner, what problems were you referring to?”
“A sympathetic ear! How rare that is in Port Kar! I am in truth beset by hardships. The Boots Tarsk Bit Revue of Scintillating Marvels lost its performing Verr on the sea crossing to Port Kar, and due to a luggage mix up, two of our pavilion tents are en-route to Schendi as we speak. I know I will never see them again. As for my actresses – surely my star attractions with their lithe bodies, melodic voices and Priest King given gifts for exquisite comic timing – two of my finest actresses, including my precious Brigella, have come down with an outbreak of the virulent Scrippett’s Woe – a nasty tropical disease that brings on an unsightly rash, loss of voice and high fever for several days. Without them tonight’s performance cannot possibly take place, and there is not nearly enough time for me to find two adequate replacements. But if I cancel tonight I forfeit the entire theatrical run with all the punitive contractual penalties I was forced against my will to sign for. It seems the very Gods themselves conspire to destroy me.”
“A sad tale indeed,” said Simon as he nursed his cup of paga. “Two missing actresses, did you say?”
“Alas yes, two beautiful slave-girls, almost as beautiful as the two visions of loveliness who wear your collars and huddle so very close to you, almost as if they are concerned about something.”
I cleared my throat. “Master, I think perhaps we should be going? I’m sure we have things to do…”
Simon waved aside my suggestion. “How difficult is it to learn the lines of a play, friend Boots? Presumably replacements would need weeks of study and practice?” He glanced briefly at us.
“You would think so wouldn't you,” said Boots as he leaned in to speak quietly, “for everyone knows that the theatrical profession is one that requires rigorous training to master the one hundred and one subtle turns of the head alone. But between you and I, over a couple of cups of watered down paga that is frankly over priced for what it is, we employ simple stage hands at the foot of the stage to hold up prompt cards for the actresses to read aloud. Often an actress hasn’t even read the script before she strides the boards!”
“I am amazed,” said Simon pleasantly. “So two replacements could in theory take to the stage with little in the way of preparation before hand?”
“So long as they are beautiful and sensual, yes. Sadly the truth is that much of our audience cares little for the words in my play – they simply wish to see beautiful slaves posing as haughty Free Women placed in comical sexual situations that invariably lead to them being stripped naked and enslaved on stage.”
“Master, I really think we should be going soon,” I said again as I tried to hide away from Boots’s gaze.
“Sit still, Emma,” said Simon. “I am interested in Boots's current predicament. His very livelihood seems to be at stake.”
“I fear it is,” said Boots with a sad nod of his head.
“No doubt if two replacement actresses of considerable beauty suddenly became available at short notice, the man who was able to provide such beauties would be entitled to a reasonable share of the night's takings?” said Simon as he leaned forward towards Boots.
“Under the circumstances I would be in no position to say otherwise,” said Boots as he eyed me and Chloe again.
“Then it is perhaps time to rejoice, friend Boots, for I think I know where two such talented actresses may be found...”