Sunday, 4 March 2018

Kiera of Gor (4)

4: White silks and red silks

I was the first to scream as the enormous six legged sleen emerged cautiously from the thick foliage, but within seconds my screams were added to by the screams of the other girls. None of us had ever seen such a thing before and instinctively we recognised it for what it was – a dangerous, feral predator that viewed us as food. The reaction of the two men did nothing to allay my fears, for as the sleen appeared Leofric withdrew several steps facing the beast, and Sadric pushed me to my knees beside the tree.

“Keep small, do not run, Michelle,” he said as he gazed at his sword belt lying on the ground close to Leofric's feet. “If you run it will pick you out as its preferred prey. You will be dead before I can save you.”

And so I screamed again as I knelt there beside the trunk of the tree, desperately trying to appear inconsequential to the wild beast. I watched as it moved its head, taking in the possible threat of Leofric who now had his own sword drawn and ready between him and the sleen, and the sight of the naked girls, so vulnerable, so defenceless, so terrified, chained together in two coffle lines, hysterical now at the thought of those great jaws tearing them limb from limb.

I think the men were actually scared, for I now know after the event that men would opt to use spears to fight a sleen; the greater length of the weapon being suitable to keep the claws and the snout of the beast at bay. Warriors would brace the butt of the spear against the ground in the face of a sleen charge, in the hope that the beast might then impale itself on the steel point with a reckless attack. But Sadric was temporarily unarmed and Leofric only carried a sword.

Some men might have run to save themselves, leaving me to my fate, but Sadric refused to do so. I know now that Gorean men will risk their lives to protect beautiful slaves. We are precious to them it seems.

The sleen continued to paw the ground and pace forwards while it tried to decide which tasty morsel to snap at first. This gave Leofric enough time to scoop up Sadric's sword belt with his off hand and throw it in an overarm arc towards his friend. The motion angered the sleen and seeing Sadric reach out to seize the weapon as it flew towards him, the beast chose to lunge at Sadric. Again I screamed, for I knew that Sadric would not have time to catch and then draw the blade before the jaws were biting deep into his flesh, but Leofric let loose with a bellowing cry and he ran forward, slashing at the beast in a fit of rage that made it turn with remarkable agility on the axis of its rear paws and swipe at him with its forward paws. Leofric it seemed had expected this and he rolled forward and to the side, missing a blow that might have disembowelled him otherwise.

Sadric was now shouting at the beast with his own sword drawn. The scabbard of the weapon he kept in his left hand pointed towards the animal, and he swept it to the left and the right as a distraction while the blade in his right hand was drawn back ready to strike. Leofric circled round the animal doing much the same. Whichever way the sleen turned, it had one of the two men threatening its flank, and animals are reluctant to engage prey under those conditions unless they're very hungry.

Thankfully this sleen looked well fed and wasn't delirious with hunger. It growled, hissed and pawed the ground, thinking what to do. It understood the threat that men could pose, for animals have over many generations learned to fear our species as being an aggressive predator. We dominate the top of the food chain through our ability to fashion and wield weapons of cold steel and we can work together intelligently in very large numbers to eliminate threats to our livelihood.

I was of course cowering for I was a woman and defenceless. What use were my small teeth and nails in such an encounter? I was totally dependent on these armed men to save me.

“Keep behind me, Michelle,” said Sadric as he continued to circle the sleen. I did so, crawling on my hands and knees, feeling too scared to get up from the grass.

And then maybe the sleen heard an animal moving through the thickets somewhere behind it. Maybe it was the sound of a tasty tabuk that might prove easier to hunt, and so the sleen began to withdraw, hissing the whole time. The men permitted it to do so, making it clear the consequences if it didn't. They wouldn't permit the sleen to feed upon us. We belonged to the men, not the sleen.

As the immediate danger seemed to subside, I reached out and for some reason touched Sadric on his thigh. It was an impulse on my part, nothing more. He turned round, seemingly surprised as he gazed down at me on my knees, my hand trembling still from fear.

“Thank you,” I whispered. And I meant it. My body was suddenly awash with submissive hormones as a result of being saved from a near death experience.

“What for?” said Sadric as she carefully slid his short sword back into its scabbard.

“Saving my life.” I felt a surge of gratitude all of a sudden and for some curious reason it seemed important to me as I knelt before Sadric to let him know that I was grateful. I lowered my eyes and felt a little giddy as he continued to gaze down at me. I might be in a situation like this again with my life threatened, and so my body reacted in a way that would ensure a strong man understood how grateful I would be, so that he might act the same way in the future.

I kissed his thigh! I can't believe I did that, but I did. I kissed his thigh and I placed my head against his leg, submissively. 

“Did you think I wouldn't?” He grinned and ruffled my hair as I knelt like that before him.

“Some men wouldn't,” I said.

“Some men of Earth perhaps. Men like Leofric and I protect what is valuable.”

“I'm valuable?” I said, lifting my eyes. I was pleased that he thought me valuable. I was pleased he seemed to like me more than the other girls.

“I think so, yes. You're worth protecting, Michelle.”        

“We were talking,” I said, “before the animal appeared. You were listening to my appeal. We were, I think, sharing a moment...”

“The time for talking is over,” said Sadric rather brusquely now I thought. Had we not made a 'connection' just now? Did he not feel sympathetic towards me? “You said what you wished to say. Return to the other girls and speak no more today.” 

The moment had been lost. I got back to my feet and walked to where Sophia and Eleanor sat in the long grass, watching me. My cheeks flushed a little, for I sensed they had seen me touch and kiss Sadric's thigh in a moment of weakness. I couldn't meet their gaze as I knelt down and felt the ankle chain secured again to my left ankle, fixing me in place once more in the coffle.

The next morning we travelled on through the plains and woodlands of central Gor.

On the fifth night the men decided they were far enough away from the crash site to relax and slow our pace. We camped that night in a meadow of softly swaying grass bordered by some tall trees with serrated palm like fronds. As before we were told to gather wood for a camp fire and this we did in our respective chain coffles with the shackles locked about our left wrists. It was frustrating work because in each coffle the ankles of the rear most girl were shackled together with close chains, meaning that if we tried to run we would be limited in speed to her slow stumbling walk.

I think we were all tired from the fast pace we had been encouraged to take, not to mention the near death experience with the wild sleen. We were beginning to understand too that we were now on a world where our civil rights and liberties, those cultural things we had come to take for granted, they no longer applied to us. These men did not respect us in the slightest! They kept us naked! They kept us chained! They rationed our food and made us beg piteously for it when we grew hungry! And they taught us their language with the threat of beatings from a stick.

I was of course furious with them. On Earth I was used to getting my own way, and it angered me now that there seemed no way of reasoning with these two brutes. Eleanor felt the same way, and I began to find myself agreeing with her more and more as we sat together in the evenings, keeping ourselves warm with blankets by the camp fire. We had few blankets and so two girls would together have to share a single one. Eleanor was like me, an intelligent woman who wanted to find a way to escape. Somewhere on this world she assured me we would find civilised people who would be horrified to hear how we had been treated. We would receive sanctuary from such people once they understood the dire circumstances in which we had found ourselves.

“It is just a case of knowing where to go,” said Eleanor in a quiet whisper one night. We ate the bitter slave gruel that we had each been given. It was unpleasant, but at least it was filling. It was protein rich it seemed, and low on fat. As before it was served to us in thick globular helpings spooned onto the surface of a broad green leaf approximately twelve inches in diameter. It was a common enough plant that grew in abundance in this part of Gor and it had pale blue berries at this time of year that were edible. The men forbade us from picking any of the berries as we travelled through the countryside, but in the evenings as we made camp, some berries would be picked and given out, distributed to us in single handfuls as a treat along with the gruel. I found the berries sweet and I very much looked forward to therm.

“We can’t rely on the other girls when the chance comes,” said Eleanor that night as we ate together.

“The chance?” I said, as hope welled up inside me.

“Yes, there will be an opportunity if we watch for one. I intend to take that opportunity. Are you brave enough to do the same?”

I thought about this. To attempt an escape was risky. What if we failed? What if the men caught us? But could I realistically expect any form of rescue if I didn’t try to escape myself? Who would ever find me here on an alien world? What use would any of our law enforcement officers be so far away on Earth? Eleanor was right when she said we had to rely on ourselves.

I moved my left foot and felt the chain slither along the grass. It was locked about my ankle, and the chain links extended further to Eleanor’s left ankle and also to Sophia’s. The men kept us chained all day and all night. At no point were we set free except one at a time when an ankle chain might be moved to a wrist or vice versa.

“We can’t escape while we wear chains,” I said as  touched the chain links that lay on the grass. Eleanor nodded, for she know this to be true.

“The men have the keys to these locks. If we can steal the keys…”

I drew back, feeling scared now. I didn’t like the thought of trying to steal the keys from the men. I could see no way of doing so while they were awake and alert and marching us across the rolling meadows of Gor, nor could I see how we might sneak up on their sleeping bodies at night, for our ankle chains were invariably secured to a tree trunk preventing us from moving close to where they lay.

“How do we do that?” I asked.

“I… I don’t know. I don’t know yet,” said Eleanor. “But we must remain ready for any opportunity. So I’ll ask you again. Are you with me or not when the time comes?”

“I’m with you,” I said as I clasped her hands in mine. “We have to get away from these men and their chains.”

On the sixth day we reached the outskirts of a settlement. From the hilltop looking down towards the river where the settlement stood we could see a high palisade built from logs, inside which numbered just over a hundred houses. There was a series of wooden wharves stretching out to the river where a number of low keeled fishing boats bobbed gently in the fresh water. Surrounding the village were acres of farmland, mostly growing root vegetables and grain based crops, but in some of the fields I saw animals grazing. What excited us all was the sign of people, ordinary people, farmers presumably, working these fields. They looked up as we made our way down in the two chain coffle lines with a man at either end of the procession. I think we were all very conscious of our nudity now that we were approaching a settlement. We wore our chains on our left wrists of course and continued to hold the chains up from the ground in our hands so as not to trip or stumble.

“Look, Michelle,” said Eleanor in a low voice, “there are women in the fields.”

And there were. They seemed to be simple peasant women, stocky, broad shouldered with thick legs – body shapes suitable for hard manual labour. They wore sleeveless tunics of some simple fabric, frayed at the edges, and cut to mid thigh. As we drew closer I saw that each one of them wore some sort of rope collar about their throats. I thought they were quite plain looking on the whole, though one or two of them might scrub up quite well.

“Should we say something?” I asked Eleanor. “Call out to them? They are women like us?”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” said Eleanor as we marched past the fields. “Look at the way they’re staring at us.”

I saw what she meant. None of the expressions I saw seemed particularly friendly or welcoming. They saw us and they didn’t seem to like what they saw. At first I dared to hope that they were simply outraged that we were naked and chained together, but no, it was more than that – they didn’t like the look of us.

“Perhaps they’re jealous,” I said.

“Jealous?” replied Eleanor.

I nodded. “Look at them, they’re mostly plain and dirty. We on the other hand are really quite beautiful.” It was true. There wasn’t a single plain or ugly girl in either chain coffle. We had all, it seemed, been picked out for our undeniable beauty. If we were indeed slaves, and I really didn’t appreciate the suggestion that this was the case, then we were obviously quality merchandise of exquisite loveliness. I myself was of course incredibly beautiful and, angry as I was that I had been abducted, I could understand why a man on Earth had perhaps earmarked me for abduction. Of course I would be selected. I would be viewed as a prize, a fabulous prize. I would soon be free of course, but if hypothetically I was kept as a slave – an unthinkable prospect -  if I was sold in a market place, I would undoubtedly fetch a ridiculously high price on the block. Men would squander fortunes to buy me.

A few things were becoming clear to me now. During our abduction, just as the paralysing agent rendered us numb and helpless, the men had used a small cylindrical device that had burned a mark into the flesh of our left thighs. It would have been an intensely painful experience had we not been drugged, and at the time I didn’t understand why they had done this. It was essentially a brand you see, and although it was some time before I had the chance to examine what had been done to me, I understood implicitly that the brand would be there for life, deeply imprinted into my flesh as it was. It was shaped a little like the letter ‘k’ though more cursive and graceful than most fonts that I was familiar with. It had been done cleanly with precision, helped by the fact I was in no position to struggle and resist. After the crash when we were herded in a group outside of the spaceship I noticed that all the other girls had received similar brands on their left thighs. I still didn’t understand then the purpose of this barbaric scarring, but now I did. These men had told us we were slaves. They were treating us as slaves. To their mind we were slaves. It suddenly dawned on me that these brands possibly served a purpose on this alien world to mark us as slaves, and to then ensure that we could not be mistaken for anything but slaves. Even if we somehow obtained clothing, if there was any doubt in the matter of our status a man need only uncover the flesh of our left thigh to discern the brand there.

I wore a slave brand burned deep into my flesh. I was furious of course. It would always be there, long after I gained my freedom. I would always have to cover it up in public. I would not for example be able to wear bikini bottoms on a beach when I eventually returned to Earth.

I spoke to Eleanor about this and she agreed that the brands had to be an identifying mark that proclaimed us as property that could be bought and sold.

“These men are barbarians, Michelle,” she said one evening. “Look how primitive they seem to be in their style of clothing, like ancient Greece or Rome. And they carry no sign of modern technology.”

I nodded. It was one of the things we still didn’t understand, for we had come here on board a spaceship of some sort. These men had been on that ship and the science that was involved was far in advance of anything Western civilisation was capable of producing. And yet in all other respects these men, Sadric and Leofric, could have stepped out of the pages of some fantasy film. They carried swords for example! Why not guns? Perhaps firearms were illegal here, like they are in the UK. But surely before long we would find ourselves in a city where the technology we had witnessed lying crashed in the smouldering countryside might be replicated and exist in abundance. There we would find rational people with the means to return us to Earth. Even if slavery was legal in the cities, it surely couldn’t be right or appropriate that women from Earth might be made slaves? Perhaps it was the custom that the women of this world were put in chains, but surely not women like me? And yet I was locked in a coffle chain and I was being marched across the countryside with no end in sight. The men told us little except to remind us at every turn that we were slaves. We continued to be taught Gorean which I confess I found to be a beautiful sounding language and reasonably easy to learn. The grammar structure seemed logical and the words themselves were easy to remember on the whole. I soon found myself excelling at the lessons unlike stupid Sophia who often forgot words when questioned. I had little sympathy for her when Leofric would whip her thighs with his crop for getting something wrong. Didn’t she understand we had to learn their language? Did she think they would go easy on her if she made little effort? I was far clever than her and I strived to learn the lessons. I did not wish to be beaten.

Eleanor too seemed to pick up the language fairly easily and I often found myself in competition with her for treats and rewards.

From our vantage point at an elevated position I could make out that the palisaded village formed the centre of a wheel shape from which radiated a series of irrigated fields, strip-like, spanning out from it like spokes. This is apparently the preferred shape of villages on Gor and many of them tend to be situated close to rivers as sources of fresh water for the crops. The mainstay crop grown by the peasants is a yellow grain called sa-tarna which serves as a staple food throughout central Gor.

“The caste of peasants is a low one, Michelle,” explained Sadric as he walked alongside me in the mid-morning sunshine. He often spoke to me and I could tell he had some sort of affection for me in particular out of all the girls in his chain coffle. I smiled softly, knowing that this could prove to be an advantage. I was of course incredibly beautiful so it made sense that he would be smitten by my charms. No doubt in time I could work my way with him and soon Sadric would be desperate for my approval. “But to my mind they are essential to the well being of Gorean society. It is said that they are the ox on which the Home Stone rests.”

“What does that mean? What is a Home Stone?” I asked.

Sadric laughed. “Do not ask a Gorean what a Home Stone is, Michelle, because he will not understand your question. It will puzzle him. It is simply the Home Stone. No more needs to be said."

“Well, that's about as clear as mud,” I said with a shake of my head. “How am I to learn Gorean if you won't explain things properly?”

“Some things you will learn through experience, pretty little slave. Some things cannot simply be explained.”

“You keep calling me that! I don't want to be a slave,” I said.

“That is a shame then, for you are a slave. Perhaps the tarsk does not wish to be a tarsk? Perhaps it wishes it were a Tarn? But nevertheless it is still a tarsk. It would be a shame if a tarsk was not happy being a tarsk.”

I knew what a tarsk was and how it had two very different meanings on Gor, referring to both a species of animal and a form of currency commonly accepted throughout central and northern Gor. I was learning many things about Gor. I was clever and I listened well to everything that was said. I listened to Sadric and Leofric when they spoke away from us, and I was beginning to understand their sentences better than they probably thought I did.  

As we neared the settlement I began to make out further details. To my shock and horror I saw a number of women strapped in to leather harnesses attached to heavy iron ploughs. These women were naked and they were being forced to drag the heavy ploughs through the soil as if they were oxen. They were being controlled by women who were clothed in a modest manner, wearing long smocks of coarse fabrics that hung to their calves. These women were very different from the naked or semi-naked girls with rope collars about their throats. I suspected that the women with the rope collars were slaves and that the others were free. The free women were mostly barefoot and their lower arms were bare to facilitate work in the fields I supposed. Curiously as they saw the approach of our two chain coffle lines, and as they saw for the first time the figures of Leofric and Sadric, the free women quickly veiled themselves with plain scarves that hung loosely about their necks. It was as if they were wary of allowing strange men to see their features.

I also saw men emerge from the gates of the palisade. The men were armed with powerful looking long bows and they came as a group towards our lines, seemingly suspicious of us. Sadric didn’t look too concerned as he raised his right hand in a welcoming salute as the villagers (five of them) fanned out in a semi circle, notching arrows to the bows. The sight of Sadric's empty right hand gave them cause to lower the points of the arrows to the ground. If we were a threat, it was no immediate threat.

Sadric ordered our two chain coffles to halt where we were. He had been at the head of the procession and now he walked back along the line.

“Kneel, thighs apart, hands flat on thighs, backs straight, stomachs sucked in,” he ordered in English. I was still curious how it was he spoke English so well and with the kind of colloquial flourishes that only a native speaker would apply, even though his accent was Gorean.

I knelt swiftly with a jingle of chain and adopted the position as ordered. My heart was beating quickly now as the peasant villagers walked towards us, their bows lowered, but arrows still held in place. These were the first people we had seen since emerging from the crashed ship. What would they be like? Would they come to our aid? They must come to our aid! We were obviously beautiful women in need of rescuing. What gentleman could stand by and permit us to be marched naked in chains? They would see us and object in the strongest possible terms to the way we were being treated.

Even so, I didn’t dare speak for fear of what Sadric or Leofric might do. They met the villagers and began conversing in quick, fluid Gorean. I strained to hear the words and was surprised when I recognised some of them. Sadric seemed to be assuring the men that he wasn’t a threat. He motioned towards us and referred to his kajirae in positive terms. I saw the village men grin as they regarded us. No doubt this was the typical male response when they saw naked women as beautiful as us. But why did they not immediately object to our treatment? One of the peasants, possibly their leader, asked Sadric a question in respect of us and he answered in the affirmative. Then the peasant approached us and I shrank back a little where I knelt in the chain coffle. The men walked down our line and then Sadric ordered us up on our feet. We rose, the chain ringing melodically as we did so. And then to my horror the peasants began to inspect us! And by inspect I mean with their hands as well as their eyes! I squealed, hardly believing what was happening as I felt hands on my flanks and breasts.

“Please, no!” I wailed and received a slap across my face for my troubles. I heard a few protests from some of the other girls and they too received a quick and salutary beating. One girl was wailing, on her knees, and this angered a peasant who simply reached down took hold of her hair, pulled her to her feet and barked some order at her that she didn’t understand.

Sadric translated for the girl. “Stand still, stop your crying or the peasant will whip you,” he said. “The choice is yours.” The girl did as she was told, sniffling back some tears.

I was greatly afraid now as a man forced my mouth open and inspected my teeth. I shut my eyes, feeling utterly humiliated as he tried to insert two fingers in my sex. When he couldn’t easily fit both fingers inside me, he tried with just a single finger. I wept, feeling abused, but I knew what he was doing. I had read an article once on just such a practice in Pakistan whereby the virginity of a girl is tested in such a way. If both fingers can be inserted inside her, she is judged to be sexually promiscuous. I was a virgin still and so my sex was tight and narrow. My vaginal muscles had not yet learned to stretch from active use. The man seemed pleased by this and he slapped my rump in appreciation.

“He likes you Michelle,” said Sadric with a chuckle. “You seem to be white silk.” He had seen how the man had failed to easily penetrate me with two fingers. “You were obviously a chaste Free Woman on Earth, what the caste of physicians refer to as being in a pre-sexual state of Metaglana. That’s good. That makes you more valuable, my dear.”

“White silk?”

“A virgin, in your language.” He gazed at my body in a way I did not like. I blushed and looked away in rage as he continued. “A free woman who has reached an age of sexual maturity and has experienced sexual congress with a man is termed in a state of Flarina thereafter. She is a full woman in the biological sense.”

“I am a full woman,” I snapped. I did not care for his technical distinctions.

“No you are not. You have not known a man between your thighs. Such a thing changes a woman dramatically. You remain in a delicious state of innocence.”

“I hate you!” I snapped.

“For now,” he said with a smile. “Relish these moments where you may speak your mind, Michelle. It will not always be that way for you. As a slaver I am not very typical of my caste. Other men you meet in time will take a stricter view of you.” He ran his hand over my ass and thighs in a way that made me tremble and experience some curious sensations that I do not wish to describe.     

Even Eleanor sobbed as the same thing was done to her as had been done to me. Like me Eleanor could not easily be probed by two fingers. Eleanor turned her head, unable to meet my gaze or that of anyone here as she was examined. She it seemed had not known the touch of a man any more than I had. But Sophia! Sophia was easily penetrated by one of the peasants with both his fingers. Like me I knew Sophia had had boy friends, but I had never been privy to the fact she had been sexually active with them. Sophia it seemed had offered her charms more readily than I had been prepared to do. My sexual favours were precious after all, and men should have to compete hard for them.

“But we have some red silk girls too it seems,” said Sadric as he approached Sophia and, taking her right wrist, turned her about for inspection.

One by one we were all intimately inspected by these filthy peasants. I was furious! How dare they handle me like this! I had rights! I was from Earth! Even more than that, I was from England! I was cultured! I was intelligent! I should not be treated as a slave!

I think Sadric saw the anger in my face for he cautioned me to silence with a finger to his lips and a meaningful shake of his head. I frowned, but held my tongue.

By the end of the inspection we discovered that of the eight girls, five of us were virgins and three had been sexually active in the past. If that seems an unusual split I can only suppose that one of the criteria for our selection included virginity. Maybe the people of this world treasure and value virgin women. It occurred to me that if this was so then my virginity might offer me some protection, some safeguard against any possible molestation. If I was valued as a virgin then surely I would be kept as a virgin? That seemed to make sense to me.

I was suddenly very relieved to have been assessed as being 'white silk'.

Sophia and the other two red silk girls began to look worried as they were one at a time freed from the wrist chain coffle and stood apart from us, the white silk girls. I watched as Sadric chained my friend to her two fellow slaves, forming a separate chain sequence.

“What is going on?” cried Sophia. “Why are we being chained separately? I don’t want to be chained separately!”

“Quiet,” growled Sadric in warning as the wrist cuff was locked about her left wrist. With the reduction in size of the two former chain coffles, the five virgin girls, of whom I was one, were secured together in a single chain line separate from the red silk girls. We gazed at one another feeling a new shift in status, but unsure how that was going to affect us in the future. Sophia looked forlorn as she was separated from me in her own small grouping. She raised her right hand towards me, but it was swiftly cuffed back to her side by one of the peasants who worryingly now seemed to be in charge of her shortened coffle line.

Both lines were now marched towards the palisade gates of the village. I saw a number of the free women in their heavy smocks pause in their work to gaze at us. Their lower faces were now veiled before Sadric and Leofric and they spoke amongst themselves as we passed by. We were maybe only twelve feet or so past the first couple of free women when we heard shrill hostile words being shouted at us, followed by a couple of stones that were thrown in our direction. I yelped as I felt a sharp stone strike my shoulder blades. It was the free women! They were shouting and abusing us. I didn’t understand what was going on. What had we done? More stones flew through the air, and I noticed now other free women coming down from the fields, leaving their slaves hard at work on the plough harnesses and on the grain planting. Sadric frowned and told us to keep moving. “Straight through the gates,” he said. “Follow the men. Keep your heads down. Don’t look at the free women. Don't challenge them in any way.”

This all seemed insane to me. Why did they hate us? We hadn't done anything to them! Didn't they understand we were victims here? I ducked as another stone flew past my head and our pace quickened as we almost ran towards a barn building ahead of us. Now a couple of the men moved to confront the dozen or so women who abused us so mercilessly. They had grown tired of this and they made it clear in no uncertain terms that the women were to disperse and return to their work. Again I understood a few of the words and could tell from the tone of the voices that the men would tolerate a little abuse directed at us, but no more than that. This it seemed made the women even more angry, but instead of directing that anger at the men, they redoubled their fury at us as if we were to blame because their men folk prevented them from hurting us.

I was glad to be away from the peasant women as we ran in a chain line into the darkened barn. There were windows here but they were shuttered except for one side where the windows overlooked a village square.

“What is going on?” I said to Eleanor.

“I don’t know, but I think we need to stay well away from those women. I think they would tear us to pieces!”

We knelt in the straw when one of the peasants commanded us to do so. I don’t know what compelled me to do so, but I reached out and took hold of Eleanor’s right hand with my chained left. She looked surprised by this but then nodded and gave my hand a squeeze.

“You’re not the only one who is scared, Michelle,” she said.

“You seem so brave,” I said as I moved closer to her. Somehow being next to this black girl with her defiant personality gave me courage. “I’m shaking inside. What is happening to us?”

“Stay strong. There has to be a way out of this.” She squeezed my hand again. Now Sadric and Leofric entered the barn behind a couple of the other peasant men. They nodded as they saw us and then they approached the three red silk girls, Sophia being one of them.

“We have been offered hospitality here tonight,” said Sadric. “That and some supplies for our travels tomorrow. It is appropriate therefore that I offer our hosts something in return.”

I didn’t like the sound of this. I shrank back next to Eleanor and I felt her raise her arms to embrace me. A few of the other girls moaned softly and huddled closer to one another too.

“Sophia, Julia and Kim, you’re all red silk,” he continued to speak in English. “I’m granting your use tonight to the elders of the village after we eat.”

They began screaming and I couldn’t look, for my first emotion was relief that I wasn’t chained in that group of three ready for being put to use tonight. Sadric allowed ten seconds or so of hysterical screaming from the girls before he warned them to silence with the crack of his whip. They knelt then, not daring to voice any further protest but deep inside they must still be hysterical with fear.

“None of you are trained, but you will do your best to be pleasing tonight. If you do not, you will be whipped. If you attempt to resist…” Sadric walked around the group of three girls, “well, the peasants may simply slit your throats if you anger them with your behaviour.”

The girls began weeping. One of them looked close to fainting.

No comments:

Post a Comment