Monday, 15 January 2018

Shadows of Gor Chapter Twelve (of Eighteen)

Chapter Twelve: The Treasure of the Kurii

This was going to be hard for Marissa, I could see that. She knelt on the tiled floor of the feasting hall as the silver masked ladies of Tharna filed into the chamber, forming a semi-circle much like a crescent moon around her. Elizabeth Bentley stood beside Marissa, holding the girl by her hair. Enya and myself stood facing Elizabeth, meaning there was no way I might signal Marissa or caution her to simply accept this state of being for the moment.

“I am told this girl submitted to you, Rosalita?” said Elizabeth as she addressed me by my alias.

“That is correct. We suspected her of spying on us, though perhaps it was motivated by simple curiosity. Nevertheless we couldn’t allow her to go free after possibly having overheard us speak. She was offered the choice of death or slavery. She chose the latter,” I explained in my closest approximation of a haughty Free Woman's speech. Like the other women in the hall, I now wore a silver mask, though as we were going to eat and drink, our masks did not cover our lips.

“Weak,” said Elizabeth as she twisted Marissa’s hair in her grip. “There are too many such girls on Gor, all too ready to submit on their knees to men to save their lives. But here in Tharna, submission to men is no longer an option. Here in Tharna it is men who will submit to us.” Elizabeth gestured for the male captives to be brought into the hall. Brinn and the other man were escorted in to the chamber in close fitting sirik chains. Both men wore white tunics in contrast to the burgundy red gowns of the Tharna women.

“When it comes to slavery, the rules of New Tharna are very simple. No man will ever possess a woman. No man.” She crossed over to where Brinn stood staring at her. But of course he knew Elizabeth Bentley, and she knew of him. Brinn had been in the Panther camp, a captive of the Panther girls and then of Kurgus, as Kurgus had spoken with Elizabeth and her Kur allies on the eve of the great battle.

“You are the first of what will be tens of thousands of men who will serve us in the new state of Tharna. I hope you enjoyed being taken and used by the Ladies Rosalita and Enya, for that will be the only way you will know sexual congress in the future. You will never touch a woman unless she expressly orders you to do so. You will always be chained when a woman uses you. You will never directly look into a woman’s eyes without her express permission. You will always refer to a Free Woman as Domina. These will be the new laws by which you live, male.”

“I know you,” said Brinn with a smile.

“Of course you do. And see, I have risen again to a state of splendour.” She held her hands open to either side as she said that.

“You still serve the Kurii cause? This is all their doing?”

“No, all that is in the past. I now serve my own sex. What I do now is without the backing and support of the Steel Worlds.”

“I suppose your previous failure makes you dead to them?” suggested Brinn. It was interesting that he still stood before Elizabeth. She hadn't ordered him to kneel.

“The Kurii rarely give anyone a second chance. Failure for them is absolute. I think you know that.”

Brinn nodded. “I suppose if they knew you were here they might send someone to kill you?”

“Almost certainly,” said Elizabeth. “Or enslave me, which would be worse. You do remember though I cannot feel fear as an emotion? If you're trying to frighten me, such a thing is impossible. I do not fear the Kurii any more than I fear you. I fear nothing.”

“I remember. Your lack of fear is a weakness I think. It makes you reckless and easy to defeat. But your women here, they fear me. Oh they wouldn't admit it to you, Lady, but they fear me. They fear men in general. And rightly so, for any woman who doesn't fear a man is a fool. They pretend to be imperious and arrogant while they have the safety of numbers and the confidence in seeing me in steel chains, but put one of them alone with me, and her confidence would swiftly fade.”

“They are unaccustomed to having dominance over men, I suppose. In time they will grow to accept it as the natural way of the world. In time they will be ruthless enough, as I already am. I am teaching them.”

Brinn raised his manacled hands and examined the steel links closely. “You have chained me well, Lady. That is sensible of you.” He regarded the semi-circle of women with the feral eyes of a hungry predator. “Were I not chained, you would all be in serious danger now, Ladies. You know that don't you? I look at you, and I know what you are – natural slaves, collar meat for a man like me.”

The women stood their ground, but I noticed that few of them could hold Brinn's gaze for long as his eyes regarded them one at a time. Strangely, Elizabeth didn't seem concerned about Brinn's challenging demeanour either. Elizabeth of course had no fear of Brinn. She understood what he was capable of, which is why he was so heavily chained, but she alone was able to meet his gaze as an equal.

“Never mind them,” said Elizabeth, “it is me you should perhaps threaten. I hold the power here. Perhaps you wish to tell me how I am a natural slave and I will submit at you feet and beg the collar when you free yourself? Perhaps you think I will then grow angry, careless and make mistakes?”

“No.” Brinn returned his attention to Elizabeth. “I do not think that. I see many women in here tonight, but one of them here is not a natural slave. You are many things, Elizabeth Bentley, but I do not think you are a natural slave. You are like me in that respect – I do not think you would ever beg the collar. Not ever.”

“You think flattery will work?”

“No, I give you more respect for that. Make no mistake, Lady – I regard you as my enemy, but I will acknowledge you are not a slave. It surprises me, but it is what it is. I would accord you the honour of a dignified death.”

Elizabeth nodded, seeming to accept that.

“Do you wish me to give you an honourable death, Brinn of the Sardar? I will do that for you if you wish.” She produced a long knife from a sheath on her belt. “Say the word and I will slit your throat open. It will be quick. You will not have to suffer the indignity of serving women.”

“No. I thank you for your offer, Lady, but that will not be necessary.”

“Oh? And why is that?”

“Because I will be free soon enough, and I would not wish to miss the exquisite revenge I will undertake on you all.”

Elizabeth nodded. “I would, I suppose, have the same expectations for myself in a similar situation.”

Marissa had given no indication that she knew Brinn, and Brinn had adopted the same apparent ignorance, for he no doubt suspected that her presence here was a sign that the Priest King operatives of Samos knew his death had been faked and that they must be close on his trail. That undoubtedly gave him confidence that help was at hand. At some point Simon would realise Marissa and I weren't coming back and he would surmise we had met a similar fate to Brinn. What he and Samos would do then was a mystery to me. They certainly did not have the resources to scour the canals of the city for two she-urts. More and more now I was beginning to sense that our continued survival rested in my own hands. I couldn't rely on the assumption that Samos would discover the location of this house in time to be of any use to us. So yes, our combined fates rested in my hands.

“While a woman will never be owned by a man in New Tharna, women who are weak, women who betray their sex, women who submit and beg the collar, women such as that can and will be collared to a High Woman of New Tharna. Let them not presume to weaken the ranks of Free Women who stand and fight for our cause.” Elizabeth pulled at Marissa's hair, making her yelp again in pain. “Rosalita, you have proven you can master a man, and therefore you are worthy to join our ranks. You may claim this she-urt, or whoever she may be. With the steel collar we have gifted you, make her submission now complete.”

Marissa was beside herself in genuine dismay as she saw me hold an engraved steel collar in my hands. While she was no doubt telling herself that this was but a ruse, a deceit, a subterfuge, and that I was her colleague, she could see she was about to be genuinely collared. Slave steel was about to be locked around her neck, and if the shame of that wasn't bad enough, it was about to be done before the eyes of Brinn of the Sardar – her recent partner in Port Kar, and a man she claimed had feelings for her. He could see her on her knees, submitting, being collared by a supposed Free Woman of New Tharna, and he would not know it was a pretence. Could she go through with it?

“What was your name as a Free Woman?” I said to her as I held the steel collar, open on its hinges, about her throat. 

“Marissa, Lady Marissa...” she sobbed. She could not look in the direction of Brinn. Brinn however was watching her closely.

“Do you submit to my will, completely and without reservation? Or do you wish death instead?”

“I do not want to die,” she sobbed. Brinn's expression remained inscrutable.

“Then I, the Lady Rosalita, claim you as a slave-girl. You are no longer Free, but Kajira. My Kajira.” I had been very careful with my words, making sure that the collaring could be legally challenged. For a start I was not truly the Lady Rosalita, and for the second, I was a Kajira myself who could not own anything, and therefore could not in a sense claim anything, let alone a Free Woman. I hoped for Marissa's sake this would be enough to reassure her that her collaring was not legally valid. Had she submitted to Elizabeth of course it would be a very different matter, as Elizabeth was a Free Woman.

The collar clicked shut around her throat. As with all common Gorean collars, the lock mechanism is at the back of the collar where the slave cannot see it. I arranged her hair over the lock and clicked my fingers, pointing to my slippers – a command for Marissa to abase herself there, which she did.

“I name you Marissa,” I said simply, giving her her former name now as a slave name.     

“Good.” and with that simple remark, Elizabeth Bentley turned and headed towards the other side of the room where I noticed a couple of new comers had arrived. The women of New Tharna mingled together and, as they did, the heavily chained male slaves, Brinn amongst them, offered them wine. From the snatches of conversation I overheard it seemed that an announcement of great importance was soon to be made by Elizabeth. I watched her as she greeted a new arrival warmly, and was offered a gift of some sort – an item in an ornate sealed box.

Although Brinn’s movements seemed random to the casual gaze, it was clear to me that he was working his way through the feasting room of women, following a circular route towards me without trying to draw attention to his movements. He didn’t particularly look at me as he presented each Domina in turn with wine from a heavy decanter, but I knew I was his end goal. Whatever was going to happen next, I considered carefully that it should perhaps take place out of earshot of the women of Tharna. With one eye still on Brinn’s movements, I moved to a series of heavy drapes at the far side of the room, motioning for Marissa to heel me, which she did reluctantly. She too could sense Brinn approaching and I think she was humiliated beyond imagination that he would see and recognise her this way. But for myself I was now far enough away from the other women that I might converse quietly without any of them listening in.

“Wine?” asked Brinn as he stood close to me in his sirik chains. I nodded briefly as if uninterested, and I held my goblet, allowing him to refill it with another few inches of ka-la-na.

“You are of course familiar with the penalties for a slave who impersonates a free woman?” said Brinn quietly as he withdrew the rim of his pitcher from my goblet.

I nodded again, hardly daring to speak. He had seen my brand in the chamber of submission despite my best attempt at concealing it while we had sex. I was feeling slave emotions standing so close to the man who owned me. My body was conditioned to the point where I was fighting myself not to simply throw myself to the flagstone tiles and kneel there awaiting his commands. I understood what this was – a level of conditioning that had grown inside me over the years. For six years I had worn his collar, I had been legally his property. I had been kept under uncompromising discipline in the early days, and even in later years when my freedoms had been quite generous, Brinn had always reminded me of my status if I had ever forgotten my place. I had no strength of will before him any more. A simple snap of his fingers would make me obey. I was conditioned. I was a slave. And yet…

“I could end this pretence now, this very moment,” said Brinn as he looked at me. I think he noticed how I didn’t dare return his gaze.

“Please…” I whispered, feeling terrified now. If he did that we would all be doomed.

“What are you? Say it. I want to hear you say it.”

“A slave, Master.” I whispered softly. I had to tell him who I really was before he did something stupid. And yet I was afraid how he might react. I had used him in the chamber, used him while he lay there in close chains.

Brinn smiled as he regarded the other women in the room. “They would tear your fine clothes from your body if they knew you were a slave. They would beat you until there was barely any life left in your body. They would probably kill you for your deception.”

“Please…” there was no mistaking the raw emotion in my voice, the softness of my supplication. I had to tell him who I was...

“Do you think me a fool, Emma?” Brinn said as he regarded me again. I looked up, startled. He knew? “Of course I knew who you were. Your body is known to me, slave.” He seemed happy with my reaction. “Your sexual responses are easy enough to read, even if you did sit astride me. Did you orgasm well?”

“Yes, Master...” I whispered, frightened but also relieved. “It was a good one. You understand why I’m doing…”

“Yes. Which is why I will not give you away.” Brinn glanced now at Marissa as she gazed away from him, red faced, for she knew that he would have recognised her features. “I am sure that will be an interesting story in time, but now is not the time to hear it. You look well in a collar by the way, Lady Marissa.”

“Please, Brinn… do not say that…” Marissa hid her face in her hands. “we are partners. We work together.”

Brinn seemed to ignore her comment. I suppose it is difficult for a Gorean man to view a woman as a partner if she kneels before him with a collar about her throat. I didn’t truly know what lay in Marissa’s future, but I suspected Brinn might not view her in the same noble and dignified terms he once had. Gorean men can be very inflexible in such respects.

“What is your plan, Emma? You have one, yes?”

“I do.” I regarded the other women in the room. One or two of them glanced in our direction, curious perhaps that I was talking at length to one of the male captives, but hopefully they put it down simply to the fact I had used Brinn in the chamber of submission. Perhaps I was teasing him? Perhaps. “I’m going to find the keys to your chains and the cell where you are being held. I’m going to free you and find you a sword. The rest will then be up to you.”

Brinn smiled. “No.”

“What?” I glanced up at him again. What did he mean, no?

“You will do no such thing, Emma. I do not require your help.” He lifted his chained wrists and regarded them. “An opportunity always arises. Very soon I will be free and then I will bring down this conspiracy in Port Kar. You need not do anything.”

“With respect, Master…”

“I have given you a command, Emma. You will acknowledge that command now, or I will throw you to the floor, strip you, and beat you for your disobedience.”

“You can’t do that!”

“It is what I will do. You are a slave. My slave. Do not test me on this. I do not wish you to risk your life. You are just a slave, Emma.”

“This is insane!”

“I will not warn you again, Emma. You are to do nothing.”

“We can’t do this here,” I said quickly. “Come this way.” I parted the drapes and stepped through into the adjoining chamber that was an alcove like room maybe twelve feet deep. There was a raised couch set into the far wall with the usual accompaniment of slave shackles, suggesting that this was perhaps a pleasure alcove for guests in the feasting hall to retire to when their passions might require rather more intimate surroundings. I took Marissa by the left wrist and pulled her through, nodding for Brinn to follow, which he did. I breathed softly as I pulled the drapes closed behind us. I was worried we might have been seen slipping away like this, but as far as I could tell we had been lucky.

“What are you doing, Emma?” said Brinn as he regarded me again.

“It was too risky talking as were were. Elizabeth would have noticed. She’s not stupid.”

“No, she’s not stupid.” Brinn took my wrists together in his hands and pulled me towards him, kissing me on the lips. I shivered, knowing only too well what his touch could do to my body.

“I am serious, Emma. This is no place for you. I will not have you endanger yourself. Elizabeth is dangerous. You will keep quiet and you will not attempt any rescue. That is my command now.”

“She’s going to kill you! Trust me on that,” I said. “She knows there’s too much of a risk in keeping you alive. She’s going to kill you.”

“She will try.”

“Oh, for fucks sake! You’re in chains! Be realistic! Your arrogance can be breathtaking at times.”

“I always escape.”

“You either get lucky, which is rare, or someone helps you!” I was feeling very frustrated now. “Don’t you see that? You can’t just trust to dumb luck and hope that one of the women makes a mistake! Elizabeth is going to kill you! Let me help!”


“So much has happened these last couple of months,” I said, “I don’t even know where to begin. You’re presumed dead. They faked a body to look like you. Cassandra has inherited your estate and she…” I clenched my fists, remembering how that bitch had treated me. “She has our children…”

“Good. It is reassuring to know that in the event of my apparent death the children are cared for by my sister,” said Brinn with a nod of his head. “Cassandra loves our children.”

“She took them from me! She sent me away from the estate and had me sold in a slave market in the Sardar foothills! You have no idea what I’ve been through…”

“We will talk of this later, Emma.” Brinn held me and pressed my head to his shoulder, despite the risk that one of the Tharna women might pass through the drapes to see what was going on in this alcove area. “I am sure Cassandra did what she thought was best for the children, but clearly I should have made provisions for you in the event of my death.”

“I felt like dying… you can’t possibly imagine how I felt, knowing I would live in collar after collar, never seeing my children again.”

“I am sorry, Emma. I didn’t think.” He kissed me on my forehead and I think perhaps he realised at last what my life would have become if he had been genuinely dead and if Simon had not intervened to buy me at the market place. Brinn finds it hard to ever admit he is wrong, but I think that night in the house in Port Kar he came as close to saying so as he ever does.

There was so much I wanted to say and so much I could have said, but I knew we only had a few precious minutes before our lengthy absence would draw suspicion, and so I didn’t ask Brinn about Marissa, and what she was to him. Was he really planning to Free Companion her? There would be time to ask him when all this was over, and I was clever enough to know that the best time to broach the subject would be in the furs when I had his erect penis in my hands, my mouth close to its tip, licking and sucking it. That was always the best time to discuss anything with Brinn, when he was in a sense not thinking straight, and when he might agree to many things. It would also perhaps remind him of the pleasures I could provide – pleasures of which the Lady Marissa in all her finery could never hope to emulate.

And then to my astonishment, Brinn simply left the alcove chamber, clicking his fingers together for Marissa and I to follow him.

We emerged in time to see Elizabeth ready to make her announcement. A hush had fallen in the feasting hall and now the women gathered once again in a semi-circle, holding their goblets of wine as Elizabeth held an item for them to see.

It was a globe, about the size of a clenched fist, gold in colour and engraved with a ribbon of sigils that pulsated as it sat in Elizabeth’s open hand. It had been presented to her in a velvet lined box made of engraved ka-la-na wood.

“It may not seem much,” said Elizabeth as she walked the length of the semi-circle so that each woman in turn could view the artefact closely, “but with this weapon in our hands, the Captain’s Council of Port Kar will fall. It is a rare piece of Kurii technology brought to Gor and supposedly lost for over forty years. My mentor in the Steel Worlds spoke of it when I was first trained.” As Elizabeth ran her fingers across the spherical surface, the sigils seemed to flash randomly, reacting to the touch of her fingertips. When it was my turn to observe the globe I paid particular attention to a series of indentations on the surface, roughly the size and shape of three digits. “Tonight then we have several things to celebrate. I know the hour grows late, but we should recognise the great work done by Lady Atria in securing this priceless weapon.” She acknowledged the woman who had been the late arrival in the hall while I had spoken with Brinn. “And we should welcome the two newest Ladies who have ascended to seats within our Shadow Council. The Ladies Rosalita and Enya have vowed to hold true to the dominance that women shall enjoy over men in New Tharna. Males will pass amongst you all now to offer you more ka-la-na before we dine. Fill your goblets and drink with me now to praise first the bravery, integrity and success of the elegant Lady Atria.”

A silver masked woman of New Tharna then brandished a long supple slave crop and gestured for Brinn and the other man to attend each of us in turn with flagons of wine. Both men were closely chained so that they might only take short steps in the ankle restraints. Their wrists had perhaps six inches of chain linking the bracelets together. My Master gazed at the woman as she struck him on the thigh with the crop.

“Go! Serve us! Now!”

The woman wasn’t quite close enough that my Master might simply seize her, throw her to the tiled floor and rip her robes and gowns from her body, but with maybe one or two short steps he would be. When Brinn didn’t move, she took a step closer and threatened him with the crop again. She didn’t seem pleased that he had simply endured the first stroke.

“Do you hear me, male?!” she hissed. “Serve us.” I could see Elizabeth watching with interest as the Tharna woman now stepped within the easy reach of my Master. But of course she would feel confident enough, secure even in her dominance, for was Brinn not chained? He might easily be overpowered if he made any move against the woman.

“Serve us, male!” said the woman again as she struck hard against Brinn’s left thigh. Suddenly she was on the floor, on her belly. Even chained as he was, Brinn had reached up, and flipped her onto the ground. He moved quickly, to the limit offered by his sirik chains, kneeling on her back, pressing her to the tiles. Three of the women at the tables screamed and there was a moment’s disarray as the assembled silver masks tried to take in what was happening. A chained male had dared to lay his hands on a silver masked woman! Was he insane? Did he not know what might be done to him?

Two men ran into the hall, hearing the screams of the women, and they carried heavy cudgels. They were about to subdue Brinn, violently, but a motion of Elizabeth’s right hand stalled them in their paces.

Brinn noticed this out of the corner of his eye as he tore the gown of the silver masked woman from her neck to her waist, baring her breasts. He removed her belt and pulled her wrists behind her back, binding them tightly with the belt.

“Help me! Help me!” screamed the woman as she writhed on her belly, aware that no one was coming to her aid. “Elizabeth! Please!”

Brinn flipped the woman onto her back now, with her bound wrists pinned beneath her. He drew the torn remnants of her gowns down past her legs, and from her body. She writhed piteously on the floor, naked, for she did not even wear an underslip beneath the gowns. That was quite daring of her I thought, but then I suppose she hardly expected to be stripped in the great hall. If Brinn was surprised that no one had yet rushed to stop him, he showed no sign of it. He picked up the slave crop and motioned to the woman.

“Head to the tiles, in obeisance,” he snarled. “Quickly!”

“Elizabeth! Help me!” screamed the girl. But then Brinn whipped her twice across the thighs and, howling with pain, she struggled to her knees and put her head to the tiles at Brinn’s feet. She knelt there, trembling, looking very much like a disciplined girl new to the collar might.

Now it seemed Brinn did not know what to do next. He was astonished that he had been permitted to do all of this, but he was still chained in sirik, and could hardly fight his way to freedom. And so he stood there with the slave crop in his hand, the terrified Tharna girl stripped, kneeling before him, her silver mask fallen to the tiles several feet away.

And then Elizabeth walked towards Brinn. She had no fear of him. She simply held her hand out for the slave crop, saying nothing. For a moment Brinn gazed down at her, considering perhaps whether to try and seize her as he had seized the other woman. The two men with wooden cudgels watched him closely, ready to intervene if he tried. And then with a shrug and a smile, Brinn handed the slave crop to Elizabeth. He had after all made his point. Chained he might be, but tamed he was not.

“I’m disappointed in you, Lydia,” said Elizabeth as she gazed down as the stripped girl. “You were careless.”

“It was a demonstration,” said Brinn, understanding now. “I see.”

“But of course. I do not think anyone will be careless with you again. I would rather something like this happened now, rather than later when no one is around to prevent you from attempting to escape. No other woman will take chances with you again after this demonstration of your abilities.”

“A wise lesson indeed,” said Brinn.

“You will serve wine now, warrior,” said Elizabeth.

“And what of her?” Brinn nudged the kneeling girl, Lydia, with his foot.

“She will serve wine too,” said Elizabeth.

Brinn smiled and nodded.

The women now began to take their places at the semi-circular table in the great hall. I took the opportunity while the last of the exiled Free Women of Tharna circulated before taking their seats, to speak with Marissa. She looked distraught and out of her depth now that she wore a serving gown and a collar. I don’t think it occurred to her that she was in actual fact quite modestly dressed for a supposed slave. The women for example had not given her a brief slave tunic to wear, for such a scandalous garment would have been deemed offensive amongst polite female company. Rather she had been given a modest white single piece garment that draped to just above her knees. The neck collar was high, but not so high that her steel collar wasn’t clearly displayed, and the garment was unbelted so that it might be worn loose. Slave garments are ordinarily close fitting and belted so as to make the most of the curves of a woman’s body. Marissa was barefoot of course and her single garment was sleeveless – concessions to her status naturally.

“Are you okay?” I asked her as she stood beside one of the bay windows overlooking the dark waters of the canals.

“Of course I’m not okay,” she said bitterly in a hushed voice. “What a stupid question! I’m barefoot, unveiled, naked beneath this single piece of clothing and I wear a collar. And Brinn has seen me like this!”

“So I see. You understand the necessity though? Why I had to do what I did? That it was for your own good?”

“Yes…” Marissa gazed in embarrassment out of the windows, not that there was anything much to see in the bleak darkness out there. “They would have killed me…”

“Yes. I did it to save your life.”

“But I wear a collar! You have no idea the shame I feel – how could you, you’re simply a slave – a collar is natural to you.”

“I was free once. Most slaves were. Very few are bred slaves.”

“But you’re from Earth. Brinn told me once. You’re a natural slave. Everyone knows the women of Earth are natural slaves. It’s right that you should wear a collar.”

“You have a funny way of showing gratitude,” I said in annoyance. “I’m your only hope of getting out of here, remember.”

Despite my convincing disguise I felt acutely uncomfortable and rather scared to be surrounded by so many free Women. Let me be honest here - my experiences of Gorean Free Women haven’t been good ones. Or rather, my experiences of them while I have been a slave (which accounts for the majority of my life on Gor) have been terrifying. I have over the years been systematically conditioned to fear Free Women and to my shame I instinctively look down when one faces me. I find it very hard to meet their gaze. I wasn’t always like this of course, but since I was locked in a collar I have lived in mortal fear of them. There are good reasons for this for on the whole Free Women treat slave-girls abominably. They hate us, despise us, resent us, and perhaps in many cases are jealous of us, or rather jealous of the desire men feel for us.

Swaddled in their multitude of gowns and veils they find it very hard to compete with beautiful, curvaceous, scantily clad slave girls who are well versed in pleasing men. And so Free Women despise us.

They terrify me. I wish it wasn’t true, but the last six years have conditioned me to fear the very sight of a Free Woman. Sometimes men will protect me, but not if I have offended a Free Woman in some way. It still mystifies me how much men of Gor defer to Free Women of their own Home Stone. Bearing in mind how patriarchal Gor is, a Free Woman can get away with the most vicious, spiteful, rude and patronising behaviour, and provided she is in her own city, protected by its laws and guardsmen, the men of her city will tolerate it. In contrast, the slightest hint of disrespect from a slave girl will be met with strict and swift discipline. I have seen a Free Woman berate a man in public, insult him quite openly, and he does nothing. I once asked Brinn why this is, and he replied, “She is a Free Woman. She may speak her mind as she wishes.”

On Earth such rudeness would not be tolerated, but then on Earth we do not have a divisive gulf separating Free Women from slaves. I suppose the closest we get is the way we think of polite, charming women compared with drunken foul mouthed chavs. But even this is a poor fit, as the comparison doesn’t match the Gorean divide. The fact is Free Women are given a degree of tolerance and acceptance that would be unheard of on Earth.

A Man will always side with a Free Woman when it comes to a slave girl. Always. I cannot think of any exceptions. This is of course provided the Free Woman is somewhere safe or if she shares the man’s Home Stone. A man might collar a Free Woman in the wilds, if she is of a different city, but on common ground the woman has the confidence to know that she is safe. And Free Women revel in that power. They know they can do anything they like to us, and a man will support their actions. They can have us beaten for the slightest thing. I have known of girls to be beaten for looking at a man with what a Free Woman considered to be a sultry look. Free Women despise us. They see us in our brief slave tunics, long legged, sexual, and they despise us.

Perhaps they fear the thought that it would not take much at all for them to resemble us. Just a change in circumstances and they too might kneel on the floor in a scandalously brief garment, a brand on their thigh, a collar about their throat, kissing the feet of a man. Perhaps we are a constant reminder of what they feared to be in their dreams.

“How can you live like this?” said Marissa softly.

“What do you mean?” I gazed at the woman with curiosity.

“The way I feel now… dressed like this, you have no idea how I feel.”

“I have a pretty good idea, actually. You feel open, exposed, vulnerable, humiliated, scared, out of your depth, nervous, fearful, and unsure of yourself. Welcome to Kajira club.”

“Do not mock me. Remember your place, slave!” hissed Marissa.

I sighed. Why was I even bothering to help this woman? She was a Free Woman. If she were back in her gowns and veils she’d probably treat me like shit. “It could be worse. No one you know can see you like this. What happens here will be your secret.”

“Brinn knows! And you will know. You will know, Emma. You have seen me like this!” she looked genuinely distraught. “How can I look at you again when I return to my gowns and veils? How can I even bear your presence, knowing you’ve seen me so humiliated?”

“I won’t tell anyone if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“No you won’t. I would have you beaten savagely if you even hinted such a thing. Do you understand me, slave-girl? Speak one word of what you’ve seen today and I will have you pleading for death.”

“You realise I could have you whipped? I mean, right here, right now. This moment.” I was pissed off by now. The ingratitude was beginning to really annoy me.

“You dare?!” Marissa made to slap me, but I saw the slight movement of her hand before it swung towards me and so I quickly grabbed her wrist.

“Do something like that and I will be forced to protect our pretence here. I would have to punish you otherwise the silver mask women would suspect we’re not what we seem. For better or worse you’re my slave tonight. Act the part or we’re likely to be killed and our bodies dumped in the canal. Now be quiet. Kneel behind me as I sit at the table and hopefully we'll get through tonight without dying.”

The overwhelming sense of fear and tension had made me forget just how hungry I was. I hadn’t eaten for some time, and when I had it had been small pieces of food given to me by Simon. And so as the platters of food arrived at our table I possibly forgot my decorum and attacked it eagerly with fingers, tearing strips of meat and eating them before some of the other Ladies had joined in.

Marissa was probably hungry by now too, and so every third piece of food I passed to her. She knelt by my side, gazing up at the feast and was grateful for the food I gave her once she got over the humiliation of being fed by hand.

“Eat,” I said to her as I dipped some torn bread in the gravy and then placed it by her lips. “No hands,” I said with a smile, knowing that her first instinct would be to take it with her fingers. Her pride of course was weaker than her hunger and despite the fact that Brinn could see her like this, she took the food between he teeth and, with lowered head, ate it quickly. I passed her then slices of meat and some pieces of cheese. All the food she took from my hand. I was not trying to be cruel, but I had to act the part of the woman of Tharna I was supposed to be. I could not be seen to be sympathetic towards Marissa, for her own safety, if nothing else.

“She is an insult to our sex,” said the Tharna woman to my right as she watched Marissa take a strip of cooked meat between her teeth. “Some women deserve the collar.”

I nodded and continued to feed Marissa. Brinn, the other man, and Lydia, the Tharna woman who Brinn had stripped and shamed in front of her peers, all served at the high table, bringing food and refilling our goblets. I sat back in my chair and regarded them, finding a source of amusement in the sight of my Master serving women, naked, and in chains. I was still very angry with him for the callous way he had left me to a terrible fate when it seemed that he had been killed. That and the possibility that Marissa had spoken the truth when she said Brinn intended to Free Companion with her. Yes, I was furious, and even more so now that he had dismissed my attempt to save him, suggesting that as a woman, as a slave, I was of no use at all. I drank a goblet of wine and then motioned for more. When the Tharna woman was steered towards me, I simply dismissed her, and snapped my fingers for Brinn to fill my cup instead. Brinn stared at me as I motioned for him to approach.

“I want wine, slave,” I said, holding my goblet. His eyes narrowed and I wondered what was going through his head now. Surely even Brinn couldn’t be stupid enough to allow his pride to take over?

“Fill my goblet!” I said again, as I enjoyed the sensation of being able to order him around. Part of me knew that Brinn would remember this, and would punish me eventually, but right now I was so angry with all that he had done, or rather not done for my sake, that I simply didn’t care. Brinn had beaten me before, and he would do so again. A few more strokes of the lash would be a small price to pay for the satisfaction of seeing him serve me now.

Although we were served food by Brinn and the other chained man, I motioned for Marissa to attend to me personally instead. I wanted to keep her busy and to ensure no one else might order her to serve them if she appeared idle. I could at least ensure her continued humiliation was as minor as possible. And then with a ringing of a fork against a crystal goblet, Elizabeth rose to her feet to address us all once again. 

“Ladies, when I first came to you, this order was lost, meandering, nothing more than a refuge for women who had fallen from the grace of Tharna and who dreamed of her past glories with no means of restoring them. I promised you an end to lurking here in mist shrouded houses in the lagoons of Port Kar. I promised you power and with that power the ability to take back what you once had – authority and dignity. We should not lurk in the shadows, squandering what meagre resources and wealth remain, always fearful that one day men will find us. We should be agents of our own fortune and destiny. And now with this artefact in our hands we will be.” Elizabeth placed the small globe on the table directly in front of her. “Look upon it and see the future.” Elizabeth gestured towards the globe. “It seems small, insignificant even, but with this we shall destroy the council of Captains in Port Kar and replace it with our own council. Through that council we shall rule this city and then we shall in time extend our reach across the Thassa, marshalling fleets, warriors, steel and fire that will sweep this way and that, cutting down our enemies like…”

There was a sudden commotion from beyond the stout double doors to this feasting hall. I heard cries of men, followed by the clashing of steel. Something was occurring inside the house, and by the alarmed reactions of the women seated at the high table, it wasn't something any of them had anticipated.

“Be still, Ladies,” said Elizabeth as she sat down again at the centre place of the table, her attention now fixed on the set of double doors which was the only point connecting the feasting hall with the rest of the house. “Whatever is occurring now, we will deal with it. Show no fear.”

It was definitely fighting. I could hear the ringing of steel swords on the other side of the double doors. Was the house under attack? I hadn't considered the possibility that Samos could possibly find us so soon, and yet...

There was a final scream and then silence. We all sat at the circular table, the women of Tharna perhaps afraid to say anything for fear that they might draw attention to themselves, and yet whoever was standing now on the other side of the great doors was hardly likely to walk away from the feasting hall, whether there were sounds coming from within or not. 

“Elizabeth...” one of the silver masked women turned to face her leader, breaking the silence as her hand holding a fork began to tremble. “What is happening?”

Her question was answered soon enough as the doors were suddenly thrown open. I caught a brief glimpse of a man lying on the floor, probably dead, and I saw enough of his body to tell that it was one of the guardsmen who served New Tharna, but then my attention was drawn to the sight of men wearing the scarlet tunics of warriors striding into the room, and with them, apparently in command, was Simon.

“Tal, Ladies,” said Simon as he indicated that his men should take up positions guarding the only exit, and the remaining men should fan out either side of the doors. I recognised one of the warriors from Samos's feasting hall, and guessed that they all must serve him.   

Simon looked rather pleased with himself for this was after all a considerable victory on his part. His appearance in the feasting hall with a number of Samos’s men spelt the end for Elizabeth Bentley and her conspiracy of Tharna women. What hope did they have now that Simon had found them, for he was accompanied by the five armed men assigned to him by Samos. These men were warriors, and there really is no mistaking a warrior on Gor. A warrior has a way of standing, of walking, of looking at you, like a predator, for in a sense that is what they are – predators who either prey on others or protect their weaker kin from rival predators. These men were trained killers, happy to shed blood at a single command. From the look of them they had already killed the hand full of guardsmen in Elizabeth’s employ. Just one of them might slaughter every woman in this hall if he so chose. But there were five of them.

I saw they carried slave shackles in their left hands while their right hands grasped the hilts of their short swords. The women of Tharna it seemed would not be killed. Additional lengths of chain terminating in ankle and wrist cuffs were thrown over their left shoulders for they had anticipated many captures tonight.

So, Elizabeth, it’s all over for you now. All your planning, all your scheming, in fact this whole power fantasy of yours, it all ends tonight.

I did think Simon was perhaps talking a bit too much though. “I suppose you’re curious as to how I found you,” said Simon as he strolled into the centre of the great feasting hall, gripping his own short sword like some Lord of the Rings character might. I knew Simon’s tastes when it came to Television viewing on Earth. In fact, one of the things that troubled him the most about now living on Gor was that he might never know the ending to Game of Thrones. Only last year when Brinn bought some new slaves, and two of them turned out to be Earth girls, he eagerly sought them out, not for sex but to ask them if they knew what had happened in the show after season five. Sadly for him, one of the girls had been taken from Earth in 2014, and the other girl had never watched Game of Thrones. Simon was mortified, and he spent a good fifteen minutes asking her to search her memory in case any of her friends might have mentioned the show in their conversations.

I suppose Game of Throne is over by now. It must be 2023 on Earth now. Strange to imagine all the things I must have missed in the six or so years since I was captured and transported to Gor. I had for example been looking forward to all the talk of a Wonder Woman film. I hope it turned out to be a good one.

“Not especially,” said Elizabeth Bentley as she gazed down at Simon from her high throne. This wasn’t the answer Simon was hoping for as he made his swaggering grandstand performance. He frowned and brandished his blade again, pointing it in turn at each of the women seated at the U-shaped table.

“It is over, Ladies. My men will move amongst you with chains and collars. You may have dreamt of ruling over men in Port Kar, but by the end of the day you will find yourselves naked, collared, kneeling in the straw of Samos’s save pens.”

There was consternation throughout the room as the women began to cry out in desperation. There was no escape of course, for the great hall had but the single set of heavy double doors through which Simon and his warriors had entered. True, there were large windows overlooking the canals, but they were paned with small pieces of glass set into a heavy wooden frame, and a shutter like arrangement of steel bars were locked over each window for security. While the bars were designed to keep intruders out, they would also keep the helpless women inside. It really didn’t look good for them.

Though Simon really was overdoing the boasting and grandstanding.

“My name is Simon of the Sardar, and I claim you all as captives, Ladies.”

Strangely enough Elizabeth Bentley seemed anything but concerned. I recalled how she was incapable of knowing the sensation of fear due to a car accident when she was a small child, but even so she should surely be concerned that she would soon be stripped and enslaved. Did she not have any plan to escape? Was she not going to perhaps plead with Simon? To offer him riches in exchange for mercy? She seemed incredibly calm, Bored even.

“You have nothing to say about that, girl?” said Simon to the semi-masked figure of Elizabeth Bentley. “You are not curious as to your eventual fate now?” As he spoke, Simon paced about the feasting hall. He turned to regard Brinn and the other shackled men who had been forced to serve the high women of Tharna tonight. “Hail, brother,” he said to Brinn, feeling very proud of himself.

Brinn grinned back and raised his chained hands in greeting. “Hail brother,” he said back. “It's good to see you, Simon. I would of course have escaped eventually, but it is convenient that you have expedited matters. I have grown bored of waiting for an opportunity to present itself.”

“The pleasure is all mine. You have done so much for me over the years. It is good to finally be able to help you back.” Simon turned to address the women again.”Who has the key to the shackles binding these noble men?”

“That would be me,” said Elizabeth as she raised her goblet and sipped from it.

“Then come down from your high table, kneel before these men with the key and remove their shackles, kissing the feet of each man as you do so.”

“That is not going to happen,” said Elizabeth, despite the obvious despair being shown by the Tharna women all around her.

“Do you wish to feel the whip?” said Simon with all his new found Gorean bravado.

“That's not going to happen either.” It seemed that Miss Elizabeth Bentley was feeling very confident in herself.

“Oh? You have perhaps other warriors within this house who you think will come to your rescue?”

“No, I suspect you have killed them all. There were only four in total.”

“Then yes, Lady, we killed them all. We took them by surprise. They were so used to nothing much happening day after day that when we did strike...”

“Of course. I will bear that in mind next time,” said Elizabeth.

“There will not be a next time for you, Lady. You have no men to fight us after all.”

“I don't need to. My men have outlived their usefulness the moment they permitted themselves to be overcome. Once I've finished my wine I am going to come down from this table and kill you all, one at a time. You however I may spare so that I can place you in chains alongside your 'brother', Brinn. You are not a warrior, therefore you do not deserve a quick, clean death. I'll permit you to beg for your life.”

“You think you can kill all these warriors?” said Simon in disbelief. Several of his men laughed.

“Yes. One at a time. With a long knife.” She tapped the hilt of a knife that lay on the table. 

“You are obviously insane.”

“Some have said that of me in the past, yes, but it is a very clear and rational form of insanity that does not compromise how exceptionally deadly I can be.”

“So deadly that a slave-girl defeated and nearly killed you on Skaffel Peak?” sneered Simon as he now turned round and noticed Marissa for the first time. He saw me too, but of course did not recognise me in my mask and robes.

“Thank the Priest Kings that my ordeal is at an end. You have no idea how I have suffered, Simon, since we parted ways near the docks!” Marissa hurried towards Simon, her bare feet running across the tiled floor of the feasting hall, but before she could reach Simon, one of the armed men accompanying him seized her left wrist and brought her to a standstill. Obviously they were being overly cautious. Samos’s men weren’t necessarily that familiar with Marissa, and a warrior tends to take no chances during a conflict. It would not have been the first time that a woman might have run towards a man, seemingly grateful, but then use a concealed knife or poisoned pin on him.

“Lady Marissa,” said Simon in surprise as he saw the briefly skirted woman. In place of the She-urt tunic she now wore beautiful slave livery and had a gleaming steel collar locked about her throat.

“Yes! It is I,” she said, taken aback by the man who had suddenly intervened. She pulled at his grasp, struggling, but was unable to free her wrist. The man scowled at her and she just as suddenly desisted in her resistance. “Tell your man to unhand me! His grip is too tight!”

“My apologies, Lady, These men know I am not a warrior and that my reactions might be slow. They only sought to guard me.” He motioned to the man who then released Marissa and took a step back in the process.

“She wears a collar,” he said.

“So I see.” Simon regarded Marissa carefully. Dressed and presented as she was now, she might of course be a slave. “You have been collared, Lady Marissa.”

“It is nothing.” She placed her hand to her throat in alarm. Perhaps she had forgotten she wore a collar, though I doubted that. In my early days of slavery I had been always conscious of the band around my throat. How could I not be?

“Are you now a slave?” asked Simon.

“No, I am but a captive of our enemies! I have not been branded!”

“But you wear a collar.” Simon stepped forward and examined it. “It’s locked about you. I presume you cannot remove it?”

“Yes,” said Marissa with her hands clenched into small fists. “I cannot remove it.”

“I apologise, lady, but I must reassure my men that you are indeed not branded.”

“You have my word,” said Marissa, plainly offended. She stared at him, apparently insulted by his presumption that she might be other than free.

“That is of course enough for me,” said Simon, “but my men are less trusting than I. If you would show us your left thigh…”

Marissa blushed and then, having little choice in the matter, raised the hem of her garment up to reveal the most common brand site, which of course remained unmarked.

“Excellent. And perhaps your other thigh – the right one?”

Furious she then exposed that part of her flesh too. “Satisfied?” She said as she thrust the hem back down about her upper legs.

“I believe so, yes.” Simon looked at his men who all nodded. “So, let us then free you of that collar.” He turned to regard the women of Tharna, seated around the feasting tables. “Who has the key to this collar?”

“Once again, that would be me,” said Elizabeth.

“This grows tiresome, Lady,” said Simon as he pointed the tip of his blade directly at the high table. “If you don’t want my men to drag you down onto the floor and kill you here in this very hall, you will come down from your chair and kneel at my feet. You will give me the keys to the chains worn by these men and your women will submit to the collar. Do you understand?”

“I understand that you require a lesson in respect,” said Elizabeth as she rose now from her chair. “This is New Tharna and you are trespassing. The only men who enter New Tharna are those who swear to serve us with steel, or those who submit to the collar and chain. Which will you be?”

“Neither,” said Simon. “And congratulations, Lady, for you have finally exhausted my patience.” He turned to face the nearest of his men. “Seize her, drag her down to the floor at my feet and then set about seizing and binding all her women here. It’s time to end this farce.”

“Yes, I believe it is,” said Elizabeth. She picked the globe up and as I watched hr closely she traced her fingers along the series of indentations. “Now you will learn what true power is, and the nature of the woman who wields it. Let us find out how well your men fight an enemy that they cannot see.” And then as her fingers traced the last of the sigils, the entire chamber was plunged into an absolute darkness, pitch black, without so much as a single point of light. And then I heard Elizabeth slide a steel knife from the leather sheath at her side.

And then the killing began.

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