Story of Gor, Daughter of Gor – Part 2

Daughter of Gor – Part 2
By Olga Turlovna


 

Introduction:

Dear readers, every now and again the discussion in the GE panther world arises about the possibility of herms being bred as slaves and escaping to join panther girl tribes. The novel Daughter of Gor is often referred to as a basis for legitimizing this claim, however , what is often overlooked is that this is a piece of fanfiction and not from the pen of John Norman.

Aurore of the Sardar is however a well written piece of fanfiction in my opinion. Very much in the style of JN. Judge for yourselves.

The full fanfiction story can be found on the fanfiction website, Fictionmania.

The story so far:

Agent of the godlike Priest Kings, Kurtz of Ar, has gone rogue.

All attempts to send spies to Kurtz’ fortified compound in the Schendi
jungles of Gor have failed. Male agents were identified and tortured,
and female agents succumbed to Kurtz’ masculine charisma and turned
loyal to him, betraying the Nest.

The Priest Kings conceived a final desperate plan, to turn one of their
male agents into a beautiful woman and send that woman to slavery in
Kurtz’ compound. They hoped his male brain would make her immune to the
power of Kurtz’ will.

Earth-man Aurius of London was chosen for that mission, and surviving
the transformation process became the breath-taking redhead female,
Aurore of the Sardar.

After a journey that made the nascent female begin to realise what she’d
lost by switching gender, Aurore voyaged up the River Nyoka, part of the
free-companionship entourage of Lady Nessa.

Kurtz’ men attacked the barge, killing many of its slave oarsmen in the
process, when a slave girl that infiltrated the entourage set the barge
alight.

Aurore’s primary guardian, Rorius, was killed during the battle. Her
second guardian, Telisio, was believed to be following close behind,
hidden in the jungle.

Part 1 of the story ended with free woman Lady Aurore being bound and
taken captive by one of Kurtz’ men.

Interlude – A nightmare in silk

Soldiers are trained to endure pain.

One technique is to construct what we call a “cave” in our minds, a
place filled with questions, thoughts, songs and memories that can
distract us from the agony in our physical bodies. Each second our minds
are occupied with a topic in the cave is a second we’ve survived.

Subjects to occupy us are considered in advance. Anything that is
intense is good. What exactly did your first kiss feel like? Try and
remember all the lyrics to the most important song in your life. What
movie scenes make you cry?

My own cave, I prepared with a memory of when I was a child, and here it
is. I was perhaps seven or eight years old and I was sick, burning with
fever. The glands in my groin were swollen as they battled a virus, and
they made my thigh muscles aching and uncomfortable.

On that night I had awoken from a nightmare, screaming out my terrors.
At that age I didn’t used to like my bedroom being pitch dark, so a
comforter light was left on by my kindly parents to cast a warm glow.
But sometimes, that lamp only made the shadows more sinister.

On top of my dresser a Millennium Falcon loomed over me, along with
plastic action figures of commandos and a model tyrannosaurus.

Delirium made it appear the figures were moving, creeping closer to me,
so I screamed again.

Then there was the sound of footfalls hurrying from my parents’ bedroom,
and my mother came to me. I cried with relief when she entered. She
could save me from these unknown threats.

She was dressed strangely – for once not wearing the night dress she
usually wore to sleep. On her upper body was a top, like the bikini she
only used on the beach, but it couldn’t have been. There could be no
reason for her wearing such a garment at night. Below the waist a long
vertically hanging strip of fabric hid her privates, running from her
tummy down to her shins. It was tied at her hips.

The brief outfit was made of a fabric that was soft and shiny. It moved
with her.

Around her ankle wrapped a steel bracelet. I could not see how it
fastened, almost as if it was locked there.

“You’re dressed as a princess,” I stated, too young to question why she
might wear such garments to bed.

Her laugh was warm and soothing.

“It’s not quite clothing for a princess, my dear boy,” she said to me,
and her hand ruffled my hair.

Fingertips brushed my forehead then, and she tutted sympathetically,
saying, “Oh dear, that’s quite a temperature,” and picked up a medicine
bottle from standby on a nearby shelf.

I opened my mouth obediently as she spooned in a sweet tasting syrupy
medicine.

Her presence was chasing the fear away, and I felt more lucid.

“One day I want to be a princess and wear a dress like that,” I stated
firmly. It seemed like a reasonable plan at the time.

She laughed again, but there was a tinge of melancholy.

“You can’t dress like this Arran. You’re a boy, and this is clothing for
girls.”

In response to this verdict I was petulant as only a child can be.

“Why can’t I be a girl and dress as a princess? Boys have to fight and
work hard. Uncle Richard says that girls can get whatever they want as
long as they look beautiful.”

She stroked my hair again.

“Uncle Richard tells you too much, but I promise you don’t really want
to be a woman,” she said, and she reached up to touch the Millennium
Falcon model and the Slave Leia figurine next to it.

“When you’re older, you’ll realise that in most of the universe, life is
so much better if you’re a man. Girls live forever in the shadows, my
love. Your future is to shine in the sun.”

I was by then placated enough by her presence to settle back to sleep,
but I still grumbled a little about wanting to be a princess, even after
she left me alone.

Next morning I wasn’t sure if the whole thing had been a dream generated
by my fever. Certainly I’d never had any ideas of wanted to be a girl
before then, and I never desired that state since, so the request didn’t
come from any deep seated craving in my rational mind.

Why would I want that? Girls were interested in boring things – clothes,
and dolls, and make-up. I wanted to be a soldier, not a princess.

By next morning the fever had broken, so I dismissed the night’s unreal
events and went straight back to making war, playing trench battles by
firing dart guns at my best friend across the no man’s land of my bed.

Yes, I convinced myself, it must have been a dream, because I never saw
the princess costume again, even when I searched my parent’s cupboards
that December looking for hidden Christmas gifts.

But I never forgot the vision either, mainly for the clarity of the
images I still have in my mind of my mother in that costume. It resides
in my pain room, to distract myself with debating whether it was real or
not, whenever I am suffering.

I can distract myself when I’m burning with the feverish heat, and when
my thighs ache.

14 – I resume my progress up the River Nyoka

Just below my feet, the Nyoka continues its sedate progress downstream
towards Thassa – the sea. It has likely made this same journey for
millennia, unconcerned by the events of human or Priest Kings, and it
will likely continue long after I am gone.

I find its steady presence comforting and try to distract myself,
watching any movements of ripples and eddies that distort the smooth
surface.

At one point I see a miniature whirlpool disturb the tranquillity,
perhaps created by the abrupt movement of some living creature hidden
below in the muddy water.

“I still say that this one should have been first prow,” a man’s voice
says, the sound of conversation coming from somewhere close behind me.
“Now there, is something quite exceptional.”

He called me exceptional, but I am exceptional in a far more profound
way than he realises. I am perhaps the only human being on Gor, or
perhaps in the history of the universe, to have truly changed sex.

It was less than a Gorean month ago that I was a man, a strong and
virile man. I was a soldier, a warrior, just as the man conversing is a
warrior.

That was before the Priest Kings gave me my mission. I’d wanted a
mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. They made me female.

At the back of my knee I feel a sharp sting. Some kind of mosquito-like
Gorean insect is biting me. I have been the victim of several such
attacks since we began our journey upriver towards the fortified
compound of Kurtz on Lake Shaba. Assuming these creatures are real and
the heat isn’t making me hallucinate, my flesh is delightful enough to
eat.

My wish would be to swat the insect, but I’m currently unable to reach
it. In fact I can barely move at all – these men having bound me tightly
to the prow of their longship.

I have a little freedom to turn my head from side to side, and to look
up and down, and I can also flex my fingers and wiggle my toes. I am
able to writhe my woman’s body sensuously, which I must do occasionally
to ease the discomfort in my thighs, but that completes the list of my
available options for movement.

“One ahn,” a second male voice replies. “We will be there in one ahn,
and the rest of the compound can debate which should be first prow.”

An ahn is a Gorean hour. I will be at least another hour trapped in this
position.

My spirits sink so low that tears well in my eyes.

The prow I’m lashed to is not quite vertical, but forms a gentle cupid’s
bow. My body is bound against this curve, so my back arches and assumes
the same shape, pushing my torso out and displaying it more completely.

My arms have been stretched upwards, wrists lashed together and secured
to the prow somewhere far above my head, in a fashion that pushes my
ribcage and my breasts out even further.

While the weight suspended from my arms makes them feel like they’re
being pulled from their sockets, it is the position of my legs that
strains my back and makes this ride really uncomfortable.

My long slender legs, the men tied either side of the prow, parted and
restrained at the knees. Those knees are secured bent at the joint, with
my ankles almost pulled backwards almost to touch my buttocks with my
heels. To complete the arrangement, my ankles were lashed somewhere
behind me out of my sight, and in this position I remain, unable to
straighten my legs out.

Thus, my bodyweight is suspended by a combination of my wrists; my upper
back (where my spine rests against the prow); and my stretched thighs.

Goreans call this the bow-tie, I was informed by my captors. Not because
it resembles the Urth garment of the same name worn by men, but because
the shape formed resembles a longbow. The woman forms the curved shape
of the wooden bow itself, and the ropes around the prow form the bow
string.

In the army, they used to call it a stress position.

I distract myself by recalling that there is a different position known
as the Gorean Bow and attempting to visualise it, where a kneeling woman
leans back so her head touches the floor, keeping her body lifted from
the ground. But I am not in this pose.

“She moves pleasingly in her bonds,” the first man comments from behind
me when I stretch and strain, trying to ease my thigh muscles.

It’s early morning but the sun is already getting hot. If I follow the
complexion of most redheads, any areas of exposed skin I present to the
UV will burn easily.

That will likely prove a problem, seeing as my captors stripped me naked
before displaying me at the prow of their war canoe.

It has been several hours since they last permitted me clothing.

The ship I adorn is on its way to the fortified compound of Kurtz, a
place located on Lake Shaba in the Gorean jungle region. My mission is
to penetrate this compound in the guise of a slave girl, and determine
why Kurtz has turned from service of the Priest Kings.

Then I must either return him to their service or terminate him.

I say ‘guise’, but there is no falsehood. I will indeed enter his
compound as a slave girl.

When I endured the dangerous transformation process in the service of
those same Priest Kings I already knew that Gor was not a pleasant world
to be a woman, and my brief experience as a female has only confirmed
this.

I’d be willing to bet that if I was a male soldier, I would not
currently be bound to the prow, naked and displayed for men’s pleasure.

However I have to remember that my gender has also saved me. As a male
soldier I might now have been dead, killed on the barge as my guardian
Rorius was.

Grasping at yet another distraction, I think over what I would do right
now, were I a male soldier.

“Status report,” I imagine hearing the snapped voice of a drill sergeant
demand, and I occupy myself by composing an update for this fictitious
fellow.

Events are progressing according to plan, would be how my situation
would be summarised for the platoon log, but that bland military update
would not convey anything of the tale of death and human misery that has
bought me to my current location.

That report would not detail how the screams of dying slaves on the
barge still ring in my ears. It would not convey how my success means
that I’m now in torment.

I wouldn’t tell them how I can relax my aching thighs and rest them, but
doing that thrusts my pelvis obscenely forward and increases the strain
on my arms. This relaxation of my thighs also further curves my spine,
doubling the pain in my back.

And I wouldn’t report that my only alternative is to tense my legs,
pushing my naked buttocks back against the prow as intimately as
spooning a lover, relieving the pain on my upper body but putting the
strain back onto my thighs.

When a fresh wave of suffering comes from nowhere I try to lift myself
using my arms, at the same time fumbling round with my fingers for any
means of freeing myself, but all I can touch are coils of rope.

The knots have been kept out of my range. Goreans know well how to
secure women.

Soon my muscles fail and I have to sink back down, and there it goes,
the pain in my thighs starts to build yet again. Aurore’s arms and
shoulders are not as a strong as the ones I used to possess, and I
cannot support my bodyweight for long.

“Do you think that He will give this one for the use of the warriors?”

It is the voice of the first man.

Comments like this are typical in demonstrating the casual manner in
which the rape of myself and the other women has been discussed since
our capture. They represent the attitude to women’s right to consent
prevalent on Gor.

Political correctness has not reached this discriminatory planet, and
Gorean men are not ashamed to enjoy women. Rather, they consider it a
perfectly natural thing to do, and take great pleasure from the
activity.

I reaffirm that this is not a pleasant world to be female, unless the
numerous scrolls written by slave girls are to be believed.

Those slaves claim their true nature is set free by the treatment they
receive.

But my transformation into Aurore has not changed my brain or my nature,
so I have the mind of a male, and a man’s cultural history. That means
I’m unlikely to ever understand this “true female nature” stuff, and
therefore all I can hope is that I will not be given “for the use of the
men”.

Unfortunately I am a captive female, whatever the gender of my mind
might be, and I accepted it as a risk of the mission that my captors are
likely to do with me as they wish.

This will not be a pleasant day for me.

When I was an Urth soldier, in the Special Forces, I was trained in
preparation for enemy capture. I was even stripped as naked as I am now,
and forced to hold stress positions as part of a mock interrogation.

Sexual abuse as a prisoner was never a concern for me then, however. Few
were as entranced by the body of Aurius, or Arran as I was known on
Urth, that they craved to touch it. For the spectacularly beautiful
Aurore, it is an entirely different matter.

Already they are using my gender to humiliate me. My knees have been
tied well apart, opening the view to my sex obscenely. I’m unable to
close my legs to hide myself, and I feel very exposed.

I could be penetrated easily like this.

My eyes follow a giant dragonfly like creature as it zigzags across my
vision, so slowly the world might be playing in slow motion.

“The Ubar will take no interest in her,” the second man says critically,
“He never does, but I bet Chiron will want her. She’s his type. You’ll
have to cross swords with him if you want rights to the redhead. Are you
telling me you dare test your prowess against he who was once Ar’s
second sword?”

Who is Chiron, I wonder.

“He enjoys too much authority while the Ubar is sick,” first man
grumbles. “I tell you, there will be trouble when the leader tries to
reassume his control.”

So, Kurtz is unwell? That is news to me. Perhaps his sickness explains
the interruption in service to the Priest Kings. This Chiron may not
know that Kurtz is an agent of the Sardar.

“The Ubar will never resume control unless he acts soon,” the second man
says.

“Perhaps this girl will be sufficient to draw him from the melancholy,”
first-voice speculates. “She would bring life to most men.”

“In that case, you will still not get her,” his friend retorts with
amusement. “Why do you torture yourself by watching her?”

I shift position in my bonds again, grinding my teeth with hatred of
these men.

Many died last night, warriors on the barge and the poor slaves that
burnt or drowned below, and these people do not care. They debate who
will have sex with me as casually as if I’m a prize on the table of a
card game.

If only I could hide my breasts, and the area between my legs, I might
not feel so helpless. One shred of dignity would make this bearable. But
I’m stuck, on display. A light sheen of sweat even blooms on me now,
making my chest look like it’s been made up for a girlie calendar.

Kurtz is to blame. I vow to kill him if I get the chance, whether he’s
melancholy or not. We’re so close to him I can sense it.

Focused on my hate I strain even more intensely in the ropes and growl
with frustration, imagining myself breaking his neck with my arms. Then
I remember that of course, I no longer have the ability to kill a man
with brute strength.

I had some skill at martial arts as a soldier, but I’ve given all that
up. I present no threat to a healthy adult male.

“I like that she’s feisty,” the first man, he who wants me, says, and I
still myself quickly.

I note that the river is starting to widen and the current resisting our
progress has slowed. There is a little bit of a breeze developing – the
territory ahead must be open enough to permit this.

“Less than a pasang to go,” the second man says.

Then, round the next bend, the river widens dramatically and there it is
– the lake. At last, Lake Ushindi. It’s huge – more like an inland sea.
As soon as we break cover the breeze increases, offering some merciful
cooling, and the surface of the water below me begins to be broken by
waves.

Our longship is hugging the marshy right hand bank. I recall Misk saying
that Kurtz’ compound was between the two rivers, and a pasang is about
three quarters of an Urth mile.

So any moment now I will see it, see him. I shuffle in my ropes, bracing
myself for what is to come.

15 – I make a triumphant entry into the compound

On Urth, a major sporting success is often celebrated by parading the
victors’ trophy through the home city. This ritual serves both to
intimidate and taunt enemies with the strength and power of the winners,
and to increase the loyalty of the home supporters, connecting them to
the team through shared participation.

While military captives are being displayed even today in the current
Middle Eastern conflicts, parading of captive civilian females only took
place in older and more barbaric ages.

The Incas and the Mayans displayed their women prisoners along with the
male, for example, dressing them humiliatingly to distinguish from their
captors. Many of these women ended up being tortured and sacrificed,
although the lucky females might be sold into slavery.

While on Earth this savage era is thankfully past, unfortunately on Gor
it is not the case. I am not lashed to the prow simply to make me
suffer. I have discovered that when raiding by boat on Gor, it is
traditional to display captive prizes at the prow of the vessel, live
figureheads, and trophies for the victorious homecoming.

The lead boat will display the highest status captive, and then women
reduce in value with the reducing rank of the ship.

I am bound to the second prow. Lady Nessa is ahead of me, she being the
wealthiest captive. Jaya, one of Lady Nessa’s waiting women who I know
to be attractive is on the third boat, and as a terrible insult one of
the captured slave girls has been displayed on the fourth and final
boat, rather than her other waiting woman, the Lady Coleen.

The sun is almost directly overhead us now. It’s oppressively humid
here, with the lake as a further source of water, and the breeze does
not cool me. Insects suck Aurore’s sweet blood.

Sweat has started running into my eyes, making them sting. My bare skin
streams with so many droplets I might be showering.

All in all, I’m in a miserable state.

Although I’m about to endure a public humiliation, when we round a
marshy headland and see the fort, I almost feel relief that this part of
my ordeal is over.

So steeling my resolve, I look up as best as I can, analysing what I
see.

I’d expected some crude construction of mud and straw, so the scale of
Kurtz’ fortifications shocks me. This is not a savages’ building of
bamboo – massive jungle trees have been felled and used for the piling,
sunk into earthwork ramparts raised above the level of the marsh.

The main compound has a wall large enough to keep King Kong out,
constructed from the same vertical tree trunks. They have been coated
with some dark tar-like substance to protect them from rot. Each one of
the many trunks forming the wall has been sharpened to a spike at its
uppermost point.

A pall of smoke hangs over the place, like the compound is in the middle
of an artillery bombardment, but I know such weapons are not available
on Gor.

The heat makes me feel faint, compounding my woes.

As the lead boat approaches a gate ponderously opens inwards on the wall
facing the lake, and our ship follows the lead vessel through the
opening.

Decorating the two spikes either side of the gate are the giant
decapitated heads of bear-like animals.

They look larger than a bear from Urth. At first I think it must be some
Gorean species I’m not aware of. Then another idea occurs to me and I
shudder.

Are those Kurii?

I’ve never seen the enemy in reality. These heads look as if they would
have been fearsome creatures, but now they are partially decayed and
putrefied. Maggots crawl in sunken eye sockets.

It is unlikely that Kurtz would have allied himself with the Kurii while
flaunting his gate with their dead.

I shrink away from them, nude in my ropes, as we pass beneath the heads
and enter the compound.

The compound of Kurtz is arranged with the buildings backed against the
walls, facing into a central harbour. Again I am struck by the magnitude
of the civil engineering. Kurtz arrived to seize a Kurii landing site,
and his men have built this – or more accurately the slaves to his men
have built this. It’s more like a town than a fort.

However the work is not finished, as if someone grew disheartened part
way through the project. Although it isn’t apparent from the front, a
section of the rear wall is missing entirely, so an enemy can simply
walk in from the inland side.

Commerce has commenced before the construction was complete. Sailing
ships and galleys of varying sizes are moored against the numerous
jetties. A larger ship has triangular sails and reminds me of an Arabian
dhow.

Ringing the jetties are smoking braziers, where some kind of plant is
burning. These give off the clouds that blanket the fortifications. The
plumes must be visible from miles across the lake. Kurtz is not
concerned with the location of his home being identified.

Our final destination is at last apparent to me.

A considerable crowd is gathered on one part of the wharf. There must be
several hundred there. The majority are men, but I also note a
considerable number of female slaves, mostly dark skinned girls from the
local tribes, but also a few white skinned northern women.

There are no free women among the crowd, unless they are free women who
choose to wear collars and dress either in slave camisks or walk around
the compound naked.

All on the dockside are laughing and cheering at our approach. People
can be cruel.

I am naked and in a lot of pain, and they’re treating this as some kind
of festive occasion.

I feel tears prick in my eyes.

The mocking from the men seems good natured, but some of the women shake
their fists at me, their expressions distorted into nightmares of pure
hate.

A space is ready for us to tie up side-by-side, the ships’ bows facing
the dock, so for the first time I can look across at the naked Lady
Nessa, bound to her prow at my left, and see Lady Jaya, similarly nude
at my right.

The front of Lady Nessa’s vessel is straighter than the one I decorate,
so she has been bound stretched out, arms together above her head and
ankles together down below.

Jaya, a raven black haired girl with olive skin, almost as beautiful as
Lady Nessa, has been bound similarly to myself. Her face is a rictus of
suffering. I wonder if I look as tortured.

Only three ships from our raiding party arrive at the dock. Missing is
the one that contained the male captives. I recall hearing that men are
rarely permitted within the compound, and conjecture that it must have
diverted to some other location.

On the lead longship, a blonde haired man jumps up to the rail by the
prow, so he stands at the side of Lady Nessa. It is he who commanded the
raid on her barge.

He is young to be in charge of such an operation, but he is strong,
virile. This is a man with greatness in his future.

Blondie did a good job of leading his mission, but his face has the
implacable merciless quality you see in many Goreans.

“Honoured warriors,” this man calls out to the crowd, “and worthless
slaves. I present the proud free-companionship party of Lady Nessa.
Please welcome our guests to the compound of Kurtz.”

He sweeps his arm in front of her, as if unveiling a work of art.

The jeer is like a roar.

From somewhere within the crowd I see an object arc its way across
towards Lady Nessa. It strikes her squarely on the face, the thrower’s
aim being good, and she is splattered with the scarlet juice of some
Gorean fruit.

Nessa cries out.

I don’t have time to feel sorry for her, because I look back furiously
to the crowd in time to receive my own missile, which is less accurately
thrown and strikes me on my thigh.

“Sleens!” I call out defiantly. “I hate you all.”

I had been expecting something like this – abuse by the mob. They are
reaffirming their membership in the group by turning on the outsiders.
The women, closest in status to ourselves, are likely to be more
insecure about our arrival than the men folk, and thus be the most
hostile.

“Rape them!” a female voice calls from the crowd. “Brand them!”

This maltreatment continues for several minutes. I become sticky with
the juice of fruit, missiles thrown at me from the crowd. Men approach
us, beasts miming obscene sexual gestures or clutching their genitals,
but the abuse from them has fortunately not turned physical.

Their faces are inhuman.

“Enough,” the blonde warrior calls then, and the crowd stills instantly.
Authority and order still reign within the compound of Kurtz, and we
will not be permitted to come to real harm.

Udumi, she who was smuggled on board the barge to start the inferno, has
jumped down onto the dock as gracefully as a cat, next to the blonde
leader.

I find her quite beautiful.

“Permission to run to my Master,” she wheedles in a needy childish
voice.

“Run to the Ubar first, kajira,” he says. “Tell him we have the captives
ready for judgement. Then you may fetch the head slaver.”

Obediently she races away.

I am expecting her to head for the most palatial of the buildings, but
hut she heads towards is small, almost humble, although it occupies a
prominent position in the harbour.

I look down at myself. Fruit is dripping from a strike near my naked
hip.

Shifting in my ropes, I try futilely to hide my body.

I realise I am nervous. Not nervous because I am a man stuck in the body
of naked woman, but because of the electricity in the air. There is
expectation in the crowd. Something important is about to happen.

“He won’t come out,” a man predicts sourly.

That man’s attitude is interesting to me, as are many things here to a
soldier engaged in reconnaissance. I have been in Kurtz’ camp for a
matter of moments, and I have learned much.

Something is wrong here – the men seem rebellious and demoralised. Their
leader is absent, and without his guidance the great work of building
defences has been abandoned.

The blonde haired fellow appears to be de-facto in command. Much is not
disciplined. A warrior sleeps unconscious on a jetty a short distance
away, drunk or drugged.

Udumi emerges from the hut, still alone, and makes for another building.

“Told you,” the man says cynically.

She will be on her way to fetch the “head slaver.”

I look down and see Aurore’s breasts, hanging full as ripe fruit. My
mind is filled with images of what is to come – the hands of men on me,
faces looking.

I glance to either side. The women either side of me have also stilled,
as we await the decision on our fate.

Rorius told me before he died that I must submit myself completely to
survive, but I can only do that and complete my mission if I can keep my
sanity.

Here goes.

16 – Judgement on the docks

This man was described as the head slaver, but to me he gives the
impression of being of the warriors, or perhaps one of the assassin
caste, for his clothing is armour of black leather. He has two short
swords strapped round his waist, and I can tell by the casual way he
wears them that he’s experienced in their handling.

The man in black leather strides up and down the dock, studying the
captives.

He stops before me.

“Hello pretty,” this man greets me, looking deliberately and at length
up and down my naked body.

He might be considered handsome, having strong features and piercing
dark eyes, but the way he looks at my body does not incline me to like
him.

Here stands a true Gorean male, a man used to taking what he wants by
whatever means he wishes. Rorius and Telisio were true Gorean men, but
they knew me as Aurius, and they were my guardians. This man sees
nothing but a desirable female before him. I shall receive no mercy.

He called me “pretty” in a way I did not like.

I am slightly higher than him from my bound position, so I give my reply
by spitting on him, an elastic gob that clings to the black leather of
his tunic.

“She’s spirited, this one,” the man who first caught me says
apologetically.

“Fetch me a whip,” black leather tunic says calmly, his eyes locked on
mine.

Inwardly I groan. I’ve forgotten the role I’m supposed to play already.
I shouldn’t have risen to some simple lechery. My remaining masculine
pride was provoked, and I’ve made things worse for myself.

Getting a beating here on the prow in front of the crowd is not going to
be good. I don’t like the idea of begging or screaming before strangers.

All the same, I can’t bring myself to break the confrontational stare
between us.

“She should be taken before Him before you do anything, Chiron,” my
captor counters nervously.

So this is Chiron, the one that they said I was “his type”. He seems to
be high ranking within Kurtz’ group, or at least the other men treat him
with some deference. Even the blonde warrior I had assumed to be leader
treats him with respect.

“Fetch me a whip,” Chiron repeats, in a voice that is not to be
countered.

Such an item is duly obtained, and handed to him. It is not the coiled
Indiana Jones bullwhip, but a whip with multiple strands of shorter thin
leather, reminiscent of a horse’s tail.

This is a slave whip. It is intended to cause pain, rather than injure
or maim.

I shuffle vainly, attempting to shield my torso by any means, even
though I know I’m tightly bound.

By now I am expecting him to draw back his arm in order to lash with
force, so when the touch does comes its nature takes me entirely by
surprise. It is a gentle brush from the whip, right between my legs at
the sensitive apex. I cry out, my body tensing entirely from instinct at
the intense stimulation, throwing my head to the side.

Then the whip is gone, but I can still feel where it touched against me,
and my face grows red as I know the damage is done and it is damage of a
different sort.

I have just experienced what is called a whip caress. The purpose of it
is to surprise a female into revealing her sexual responsiveness.
Aurore’s body is more unused than most to being touched, so I am
hypersensitive, and I’ve just shown that to everybody.

Even once the whip has gone there is a lingering tingle remaining from
my sex.

“Interesting,” Chiron says, watching my face burn with humiliation.

“Her response is exceptional,” someone else says, almost awe-struck, as
I feel more and more ashamed.

“Superb,” another voice says reverentially.

Chiron turns to my first captor then, sighing as if fulfilling a chore.

“Bring her down,” he says.

At last, warriors with knives move towards me. Priest Kings be praised.

When they cut me free from the prow, I fall into the arms of the man in
front of me.

I discover then I am unable to straighten my legs. A man has to grab my
ankles and pull them out, and I scream with pain as locked muscles
finally uncramp.

There is a similar shriek from Jaya that shows she is also suffering.

Well outnumbered, we are easily carried away.

The building we’re dragged towards is the small, humble hut, which
nonetheless occupies a prominent position in the harbour. Here Udumi
first ran, when she was sent for the Ubar.

The sense of approaching some life-changing collision is becoming
overwhelming.

He’s here. Kurtz is in here.

The hut has no windows, and a curtain at the door is part closed,
leaving the interior in almost complete darkness. Despite this
disinterest in us, on a short jetty before this structure the three of
us are forced to our knees, lined up one behind the other.

Gratefully I rub my wrists, restoring the circulation. There are deep
red rope marks at all the points where I was restrained.

All the women kneel with their thighs together, in the position of free
women or tower slaves.

My male intellect then reminds me of its existence, because even covered
in fruit stains I can’t help noticing how beautiful the curves of Lady
Nessa’s backside look when she’s in this position.

But the soldier’s part of my masculinity is busy with other thoughts.
The focus of the wrongness I have sensed throughout the compound is to
be found here. People keep glancing towards the darkened doorway of the
hut, like they’re worried children that can’t get a reply from a
sleeping parent.

I am in a place is missing the influence of its Ubar.

The dark-haired warrior, he who administered the caress to me,
eventually addresses us.

“My name is Chiron,” he says, striding back and forth before us. “I am
the head slaver among the men of Kurtz.”

I see that hanging from his belt are now bands of steel, open bands,
about the same diameter as a female neck.

Slave collars.

“The only reason you live is because you are women, and you have the
potential to serve and please men. There is no purpose here for a woman
other than to serve us, and therefore a free woman’s life will not be
spared.”

“You have a choice. Beg for the collar of a slave and call me Master,
and you may live. If you do not accept slavery, you will be cut and then
thrown into the water, where the thalarion will be drawn to your blood
to eat you.”

He only gives us a moment to think before he says, “bring forward the
first female.”

Lady Nessa is dragged towards the edge of the jetty by a warrior holding
each of her arms. Her eyes are wide with terror as she looks at the
muddy water of the harbour.

“No, no!” she pleads.

This must be even more frightening for Lady Nessa than for the other
captives – I recall she cannot swim. She screams with misery as she is
forced to kneel right at the edge of the jetty.

Then my kind hearted friend cracks.

“Masters,” she weeps, “Please, I beg for slavery.”

“Your request is granted,” Chiron says.

The collar is snapped around her throat only an ihn, a Gorean second,
later, and at that instant she is no longer Lady Nessa. She is not even
Nessa, unless that title is chosen for her. She is a nameless slave.

That same newly collared naked slave kneels on the jetty, her head down.

“She will be taken to the pens, where she is to be trained,” Chiron says
in a perfunctory manner, as if this ceremony has happened hundreds of
times.

“Now – does anyone wish to master this woman?”

“I want her,” a warrior says from close by.

It is the blonde haired young warrior from the barge, he who led the
mission. He is not un-handsome, and a good specimen of Gorean manhood.

There is a pause for a moment – I deduce that Chiron is waiting for any
other interested parties to declare, in which case some kind of contest
must take place.

There is none. Perhaps this fellow is not one to be crossed.

“Very well. When you wish her use, send for the girl and she is to share
your furs.”

Nessa is weeping as she looks fearfully up at her owner. This is the man
who is likely to take her virginity. Whatever Nessa’s future fate, he
will be remembered as one of the most significant people in her life.

Jaya is next. As Nessa did, she capitulates quickly.

I would have expected Nessa to be more highly contested, but this time
there are three men who desire the newly-collared slave girl to share
their furs. A fencing competition ensues to decide the issue, and we all
have to wait as the crowd cheer on their favourites.

Jaya is not consulted in this – she has already been collared and is now
merely slave.

I look upon the good humoured contest with disgust. It is barbaric –
three men sporting over which one gets to rape a slave.

Gor is a hateful place.

While I wait unhappily for the resolution I stare at the rough wooden
planking of the jetty, and I reflect that my turn is coming next.

The men on the boat said the one called “Chiron” would want me, but I’m
damned if I’m going to screw him after he humiliated me in front of
everyone. I can still feel where that whip touched my sex.

The thing that horrifies me is that I couldn’t control that reaction. If
he took me by surprise and did the same thing, I’d respond in exactly
the same way.

As I dwell on the involuntary betrayals by Aurore’s body, a dark haired
man with a scar on his face wins the contest for Jaya, and knotting his
hand in her hair he bends her head back and collects a victor’s kiss.

There is cheering from the crowd.

“Bring forward the next female,” he says.

A warrior grabs each of my arms, and it is my turn to be dragged to the
edge of the jetty.

“If you wish to live, beg for the collar of a slave,” Chiron’s voice
instructs me languidly.

The smell of burnt human beings from the barge is still in my hair.
Rotten fruit sticks to my skin. I have been stripped and ridiculed.

He sounds almost laconic, so sure is he that I’m going to capitulate. I
suppose that history is in his favour. I have read many Gorean scrolls
which describe the female beginning her journey into slavery by
submitting as a survival mechanism to avoid death, before joyously
releasing her inner slave.

I think that’s a load of bosk crap.

“You people had no right to murder those slaves on the barge,” I hiss
angrily, making sure my condemnation can be heard by as many as
possible. “Those poor men burnt alive. I would rather die than be slave
to such men as you.”

And with that, I rock forward on my knees, overbalancing towards the
water.

People are shouting. Someone grabs my ankle at the last moment, a large
male hand, and I am dragged roughly by this handle back onto the jetty.

From in the water, something boils just in front of me, and I glimpse
the snap of a brightly coloured reptilian snout, but the teeth just miss
my face.

Someone has just saved my life, but for me their act is a painful
experience. I feel a searing pain from my hips to my belly as the wooden
planking at the edge of the jetty grazes my soft skin.

I’m dragged safely back on the wooden planking, dumped on my side in
almost the same pose as when I emerged from the transformation process,
and everything goes quiet.

There is a stunned silence on the dock. Clearly no-woman has ever chosen
this way before.

Then, from the near darkness in the hut, a deep male voice speaks for
the first time.

“You can call us murderers, yes, but do not think you have the right to
judge us, daughter of Gor.”

His voice is resonant, charismatic. I am reminded of the voice of Vader
from the Star Wars movies. It tugs at something deep in my belly,
vibrating intensely. It is Kurtz. I can’t see him, but I just know by
the reaction from the crowd.

Everyone has turned to look into that dark doorway. I stare up, and my
eyes begin to make out a giant man’s shape, slightly darker than the
background shadows.

“Do you think I am unaware of your purpose in coming here?” that shape
continues. “You are in no position to accuse me of cruel murder. What do
you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin? Tell me, woman – did
you plan to kill me immediately, or after giving your ill-informed
opinions on my actions and my morality?”

I thought I knew fear as I tipped towards my death in the water, but the
voice brings a new horror. He knows.

Priest Kings help me – what are they going to do to me if they know?

Unwanted, the voice of Misk comes back to me, saying, “Parts of our
agents’ bodies are returned to the Sardar as a message – limbs, heads,
genitals. The treatment is barbaric.”

My future isn’t even the misery of slavery. I have endured all this only
to find a tortured death.

“You may call me a murderer, yes. I have killed many,” continues the
voice. “But do not judge me for that, woman warrior. If anything – you
are more responsible for the deaths on the boat than I. Your ignorance
of this fact makes you a fool.”

The word “ignorance” is almost spat, such is his dislike for me.

The warriors on the dock are still looking uncertainly towards the hut,
their free will lost in the force of his personality. I can see they
were not expecting Kurtz to involve himself in the selection.

But the alpha male has reminded them that he is Ubar, and now, like
children, they look for guidance.

“She would prefer to be treated as a warrior than a woman. So take the
woman to suffer the death of a warrior,” the voice says. “Put her in the
cage.”

His words fill me with dread like I’ve never felt before. I even don’t
know what “the cage” is, but it doesn’t sound good.

A male voice speaks up from behind me.

“I wish to take her first,” he says. “If she is to die anyway, let me
rape her and then she can go in the cage.”

I turn my head to look in alarm at the speaker. It is he who caressed me
with the whip, the one they call Chiron.

My stomach rolls with further horror at this prospect, and I look back
to the hut, hoping that Kurtz doesn’t agree.

“None shall touch her,” the bass rumble answers from the hut, and I
can’t help feel a moment of gratitude towards this man, even though I’ve
just been condemned to death by him. At least I shall meet my end
without enduring that violation.

“You are illogical,” Chiron challenges. “It is a waste to let her die
without using her. You did not see how she responds to the whip. Her
body cries out for the touch of a man.”

My face reddens. Everyone saw how I reacted to the shameful caress, and
there is some murmuring of agreement from within the crowd.

“When I am dead you will be Ubar here,” Kurtz responds. “But until that
day, I am Ubar. So draw your weapon and step inside, if you wish to
further debate the issue, or be about your business.”

For the first time I see Chiron look unsure of himself. This is even
worse news for me than provoking the anger of the Ubar. I have led to
Chiron being belittled in front of the rest of the compound.

“I am the head slaver,” he says. “She is my business.”

There is no reply from the hut.

He does half-draw his weapon and I think for a moment there will indeed
be a blood fight. But Chiron turns to look at me and I can see he has
found an easier focus for his aggression.

“Remember me, free woman,” Chiron says, and he slams the blade back into
its sheath. “I swear that if you live, one day I will break you.”

17 – The Cage

In the water, something brushes against the bare skin of my thigh, close
to where a brand might have been placed.

Don’t panic, I tell myself. That was just a fish.

There is, located in these fresh tropical waters, a carnivorous fanged
marsh eel called the bint. But they only attack when attracted towards
blood.

The scratches to my abdomen I sustained on the dockside have closed up.
Aurore’s skin will soon be flawless again, and I will not be attacked as
long as I don’t sustain a fresh injury.

The bars that form the sides of my submerged cube-shaped cage are too
close together to keep the thalarion from entering, but smaller harmless
lake creatures may come and go. I am not intended to die from being
eaten in the cage – I am meant to drown.

The roof of the cage, formed from that same criss-cross grid of bamboo
bars that makes up the walls, is level with the surface of the lake.
When the wind picks up, waves lap over it and I am splashed with
freshwater spray.

It didn’t take me long to determine that the gaps between these roof
bars have been fashioned to be large enough to fit the head of a human
being, but not to permit the shoulders and the rest of the body to exit.

Thus I can breathe easily, as long as I remained swimming or holding on
to the bars, but I cannot escape, and there is no means of resting.

The cage floor is down below, out of the depth of even the tallest of
men. At one point I dived down, checking there was actually a floor, and
I couldn’t simply leave by swimming underneath.

It turned out there was a floor.

“I am trapped,” I confirmed when I surfaced like a mermaid, reaching
through the bars to smooth back my soaking wet hair.

If Kurtz is true to his word, eventually I will die in here, because I
can’t keep swimming or hold on to the bars of the ceiling forever.

It will not be an easy way to go. Tiredness will take hold of me; I’ll
start to panic as I get too exhausted to keep moving; and eventually
even the adrenaline of fear will not be enough to energise my limbs. It
will could take several days before my human instinct to survive is
overwhelmed.

“I would wager that they don’t intend to kill you,” a man called Kwesi
says to me. “Look – here he comes again.”

One of the warriors is walking along the jetty towards our cage. He
stops when he is standing over us – the floor of his jetty being
constructed six inches further above the surface, so I look up from a
very humble position below him.

The warrior waits for a moment, giving us the chance to say something –
pleading for our lives, perhaps, but nobody speaks. Then he shrugs,
turns and walks slowly back towards the compound, which is a short
distance away.

The cage has been sunk into the area where the lake meets the marsh,
outside of the main fortifications. We are far enough into the reeds
that a vessel passing by with a would-be rescuer is unlikely to spot the
miserable humans in the vegetation, but we still have a reasonably
unrestricted view of the lake.

The wooden jetty above my head runs to a grassy area that extends out
from the back of the compound. I assume that on this grassy mound must
be located the original Kurii landing site, but from down in the reeds I
don’t have a satisfactory view of the geography.

“I would wager that they don’t intend to kill either of us,” Kwesi adds.
“You are too desirable to waste, and they would rather leave my vessel
with its captain intact.”

Kwesi is my companion in here. It must have been a surprise when a
beautiful naked woman was pitched through the hinged opening in the roof
of the cage to join him for a swim.

“It’s very kind of you to provide such pleasant company,” he called out
to the guards as they padlocked the exit and then walked away from us.

Left alone, we made our introductions, facing each other with my head
through one gap in the bars and his through another a couple of feet
away.

I discovered that Kwesi was the captain of a merchant vessel, trading
between Schendi on the coast and the settlements on Lake Ushindi. When
Kwesi refused to pay a levy of his cargo to Kurtz, his entire ship was
seized and he was thrown into the cage to reconsider his negotiating
position.

I agree with his assessment that his ship is more valuable with its
captain intact and generating future income, and it is unlikely he will
die in this mesh of bamboo.

Furthermore, on a personal level in my opinion it would also be a shame
to kill him.

“Water, water,” he pleads up to the guard on one of the periodic visits,
and I can’t help smile despite our predicament. It’s the first time I’ve
done so since the raid on the barge.

As a man, I would have enjoyed his dry sense of humour, but Kwesi is
also particularly charming to Aurore, talking to me in a way that is
unlike Rorius or Telisio, and unlike Aurius’ former male acquaintances.

It is impossible not to react to this gallantry.

Everything below my neck is submerged in the brown waters of the lake,
so it is the first occasion I haven’t needed to feel ashamed of my
nudity. I am a female head, enjoying conversing with a male head.

We are aware of our difference in sexes, but for once I am not belittled
by being the weaker one. He is a handsome black skinned man with a
beautiful deep bass voice.

However, other men around here have not forgotten that as a Gorean
woman, my beauty defines me. At one point the one called Chiron comes to
stand over the cage. Kwesi greets him jovially, but Chiron is only
interested in me.

“Don’t think you will be allowed such an easy death, female,” he says.
“Here’s a taste of your future.” Extracting his manhood, he then
urinates from above us into the water.

I realise an instant beforehand what he’s about to do and duck below the
surface, propelling myself backwards and out of range, but not quickly
enough to avoid feeling something warm splash my hand.

“Not very big, is it?” I retaliate when I’m back up breathing the humid
tropical air. “If you ever do take me, you’ll have to let me know when
you’ve started.”

“She-sleen,” he says as he stalks away.

Late in the first afternoon it pours with rain, huge warm raindrops that
wet you to the soul in the way that is only possible in the tropics.
Visibility drops right down and we can barely see the compound.

“No one will come and check on us when the weather is like this,” I
predict miserably, and I am correct.

My initial angry response to the incident on the barge and the mob
humiliation at the docks has faded now the crowds have gone, and as the
rain soaks my head I reflect on my mission with a clearer mind.

My masculine ego has got in the way of completing the Priest King’s
task. I will not succeed by dying here in this cage. I will not, one
day, be relaxing on a beach on Urth if I die, either.

Would slavery be that bad when it means living for a little longer?
Nessa and Jaya embraced life quickly enough. Why not Aurore?

I know what stopped me. It was the prospect of seeing the victory in
their faces when they took me.

This look of conquest is what I imagine when I think of being taken, as
I’ve often done since awakening inside Aurore’s divine body.

I have already antagonised the one called Chiron, and what is worse for
me, by spitting on him before the crowd I’ve publically insulted his
warrior’s pride.

Being taken by Chiron would be the worst of them all, but would it be
worse than death?

It might be. He wouldn’t just want to take me as a slave. He will want
me to suffer. Chiron will want to redeem his honour in front of his
peers by showing he has conquered me in every way.

Even so, one day, all this might be over, just a bad memory. Or would
the nightmare images haunt me forever?

My head is already drenched from the now slowing rain, so trying to
focus my thoughts I relax for a moment and sink below the surface.

The lake water is muddy and the visibility is low, but it still feels as
cleansing as a baptism. I glimpse the tail of a fish flee me with a
flick. Gor can be such a beautiful world.

When I emerge, I feel resolved and more ready to fight on. I am Aurore
of the Sardar, agent of Priest Kings, once Aurius of London. I will re-
engage in my mission, whatever that takes.

“Do you have anything we can attach ourselves to the side of the cage
with?” I ask Kwesi with fresh dynamism. “We could support ourselves
while we rest.”

He shakes his head.

“I am as naked and therefore as unequipped as you, my dear.”

Until then, I had not thought that he too might be nude. Perhaps since
my arrival he has thought of nothing but being naked in the cage with an
attractive member of the opposite sex. Water is the only thing
separating his genitals from mine.

“Why are they killing you?” he asks me then, genuinely confused. “The
typical punishment for a woman is to make her slave, and to kill one so
beautiful deprives the world of its chance to look upon you.”

“I am one of Kurtz’ enemies,” was the only answer I could come up with.

“But if you are a female enemy, making you live as slave is a worse
punishment than death,” he says.

Kwesi pauses while he thinks, and smiles at me then, certainty in his
expression.

“I wager they do not intend to kill you.”

“You didn’t hear Kurtz’ voice,” I counter. “And the Ubar is known to be
without mercy.”

My reply gives me pause as I realise the truth of my own words. Perhaps
I truly am too late to change my mind and submit, and I will drown in
this cage of water.

When night falls our morale drops with it. The water feels colder, and
for the first time in these equatorial jungles, I consider that the
chill may be a threat.

The rain, which slowed late in the afternoon, has renewed its intensity.
It has been raining for some hours. The night is pitch dark, our
illumination from the three moons of Gor being obscured by the
rainclouds.

A body of water the size of Lake Ushindi shouldn’t be susceptible to
rain, but I see the water level has risen by the length of a fingernail.
Drowning may be a threat to me, after all.

I wonder what is happening to Nessa, and Jaya. Perhaps they are warm in
the furs of some warriors while naked, they serve his pleasure.

In the middle of the night a terrible sound interrupts the noises of
nocturnal wildlife. It is a man screaming, an agonised noise. This is
not the sound of fear – it is someone enduring the torments of hell.

“What was that?” I ask, trying to think what tortures might produce such
a cry.

“Best not to know, I think.”

Then, without warning, the muscle in my calf cramps. I stretch out my
seized leg, awkwardly trying to massage without submerging, but a few
minutes later it does it again.

This time I cry out with pain.

“What is it?” Kwesi’s voice asks from the blackness.

“Cramp, in my leg. I think it’s the cold.”

“Permit me to massage the muscle for you.”

I feel a little uncomfortable about the idea, but for my survival it is
sensible to accept the suggestion.

Cautiously I extend my foot, stretching my toes out like a dancer, until
I feel them make contact with his body. Then I feel Kwesi’s giant hands
on my calf.

His fingers make circular motions, rubbing deep into the flesh of my
slim leg to relax the muscle. It is very soothing, and I can’t help
groan with relief in Aurore’s high voice.

There difference between our sexes feels very important to me now.
Massage is always sensuous, but something about my being Aurore means
there is an eroticism in his actions.

Staying alive must be my top priority, however. Soldiers are trained to
tolerate personal humiliations for the greater objective.

“I can hold you, support you while you rest,” he suggests next. “Then,
you can support me. We might be able to last longer.”

I’m not overly enthusiastic about the idea of even closer contact with a
naked man, but again the suggestion is sensible. I warily concede.

“Move closer,” he says, and I do so, ducking below several sets of bars
to lift my head above the surface in the square of space next to him.

As we get close our bodies begin to brush together while I manoeuvre
into position – kicking feet as we treat water, a thigh or an arm making
contact, my rubbery nipple stroking his chest as I twist my torso.

I am facing him. We are intimately close, and I am even more aware he is
a man, and I am now a woman.

He would only have to extend his neck to kiss me, and he looks for a
moment as if he’s contemplating it.

Deep in my belly there is a glow. A part of me wants him to make the
move that would break down the emotional divide between us. That part of
me is telling me that feeling his lips on mine might not be unpleasant.

It is perhaps lucky that he cannot read my conflicted mind.

“Turn around and rest back against me,” Kwesi says. “I will hold you.”

I do so. His hands search under the water for my forearms, and as he
folds his arms around Aurore’s narrow waist I lean back into him,
finding myself supported. It is as I’d thought. The sensation of having
my back against his chest is really quite nice.

But then I feel something different against me, something as firm as a
limb. His blood is aflame, and is pushing between the cheeks of my
buttocks.

I have been tricked. I panic, and flail in the water.

“No!” I cry, suddenly thrashing to escape, but without warning the grip
of his arms goes as tight as a vice, and I am trapped.

“Calm down, I’m not going to rape you,” he is saying urgently into my
ear, and his arms hold me even more firmly, like he’s taming a wild
horse in danger of harming itself. “Be still, girl.”

I struggle, but he’s stronger than me, and it doesn’t take me long to
realise I’m not going to let me get away until I give in and breath
calmly.

Gradually I stop resisting, defeated, and I try to un-tense my muscles.

“I’m not going to rape you,” Kwesi repeats as my heart rate begins to
slow. “You are beautiful, so my reaction to your body is completely
natural, and is beyond my control. But men of honour only rape slaves,
and you are not a slave.”

I don’t agree that “real men rape only slaves”, but that attitude makes
him almost a feminist by Gorean standards, so I can’t help feeling some
gratitude.

Once as Aurius the soldier, or Arran as they knew me on Earth, I was on
a winter survival exercise in a bitterly cold region of Swedish forest.
That night I slept naked between three other men, sharing our body heat
as we had been trained.

We joked much about homosexuality, but in the army you have to be used
to each other’s bodies, and the night passed without incident.

Aurius was a reasonably handsome man, so in my former life I’d been with
my share of turned-on women. But this is the first time in my existence
I’ve had physical contact with a sexually aroused male.

His manhood probes against me like a rod.

I know from experience of being in his place and having a woman’s body
against me that each small movement I make under the water might be
stimulating him, so I feel self-conscious of my body in a way I’ve never
done before.

At the same time, I am beginning to relax. He’s not going to force
himself on me. This is just human attraction. It’s not so bad.

“Sleep,” he repeats, but it takes some time before my fears reduce
enough to allow that, even though I have not slept since my capture, and
I am exhausted.

I awaken abruptly from a disturbingly sensual dream to find myself still
in his arms. The contact between us is even more intimate now. One of
his hands cups my breast, so my nipple pushes into his palm. The other
arm runs round my belly and down to the fulcrum of my legs, where I am
supported by him moulding his hand to my sex.

The sun is rising over the reeds.

How long has he been touching me like this? Where else have his hands
been? Did I respond to him? Is that why I had the dream?

“No,” I say, when I feel his passion still aflame, pushing my way out of
his arms, and he releases me immediately.

I bob up, several squares away, to see him looking sympathetic.

“You’ve never been with a man, have you?” Kwesi guesses.

“No,” I say. We’ve been intimate enough already that there can be no-
harm in admitting this.

“Is it really worth dying for, protecting your honour from men?” he asks
in a gentle voice.

I consider. It’s not just my virginity. I don’t even entirely dislike
the idea of having sex with a man instead of a woman. I might actually
enjoy it under the right circumstances, and I don’t intend that Aurore
remains celibate for her entire life.

“I don’t want them to feel they’ve beaten me,” I answer. “I don’t want
to be just one more Gorean female conquered by Gorean men, perpetuating
the culture of male superiority.”

“You are proud,” he says, “as every woman is, but is that pride worth so
much? Sacrificing your life will not prevent the rape of other women,
but by living to prove your case you might help your sisters.”

I’m morally right, I’m sure, but his argument makes me feel like I’m
being a petulant teenager.

“I suppose there’s not much point to my dying in this cage,” I
reluctantly say.

“Let me hold you again, free woman of Gor,” he gently requests.
“Experience the contact with a man, knowing he is not going to force
himself on you.”

This time I comply more quickly, ducking under the water and moving back
into his arms, as we had spent the night.

As I move my backside against him I discover him even more inflamed than
last night. His arms circle me intimately, but I do not react by
attempting to escape.

“You are naked, in the arms of a man,” he says. “Is this fate so
dreadful?”

I am silent.

What can I tell him? That I’ve been sent here because of my male
heterosexual personality, but I’m starting to quite like the way men can
react to me? With Kwesi’s giant frame enclosing me, it is impossible not
to feel protected. I am sure that for now, he will not permit anything
to happen to me.

I wonder if this is my female body beginning to influence me, that I can
so enjoy being held in the arms of a man. If so, it is not a good thing.
I am supposed to remain masculine.

I must resist these ideas, but not for now. The soldier’s survival
option is to permit him to hold me. We are still in this intimate hold
when a warrior from the compound comes to check on us.

By this time, the sun is high in the sky. It is oppressively humid. A
cloud of insects are above us, but they don’t seem to be biting.

Above the surface of the water, my long hair has dried. Below, it fans
out like the fronds of an aquatic plant.

We squint up as we both look to the guard.

“I have been considering my negotiating position,” Kwesi informs the
guard in his good humoured voice. “I am willing to accept the offer made
to me.”

“In that case, why are you there in that cage?” the guard asks with
black humour. “There is no reason for it.”

“There does seem to have been an oversight,” Kwesi agrees.

The guard unlocks the trap door lid of the cage and flips it back,
exposing a square exit large enough for a human being.

“Farewell,” Kwesi says to me as he releases his hold on my slender
frame. “Consider that life still has many wonders to show you, lady of
the Sardar.”

With that, he ducks under the bars to reach the exit. The guard leans
over, lending a hand to pull the muscular man up from the water.

This is the first time I have seen Kwesi’s body. He really is
beautifully toned, gleaming like polished ebony. His organ, still
rampant, is unusually large.

I wait, small and forlorn in my corner. The cage feels large and empty
without him here. I know if I attempt to escape there will be a
retribution, so I watch passively as the hatch is closed and re-locked.

The stillness of my body shows nothing of the conflict in my thoughts.

18 – I witness a third woman being collared

The two men are almost out of earshot when I resolve to act.

“Master, please,” I call out desperately. “Tell the Ubar I beg for
slavery.”

Time seems to freeze. I’ve said it. It’s out there, the words hanging in
the air.

A woman has addressed a man “Master”. That is sufficient in most places
on Gor to earn the speaker of the title a collar.

The guard doesn’t even look back, but Kwesi turns round and winks at me
once.

Their departure leaves me alone in the cage of water. If my muscles
cramp again I’m in real trouble with no-one left to help me. I only hope
the rest I enjoyed in Kwesi’s arms will be enough to keep my body
functioning.

The sun climbs into the sky with grinding slowness. I begin to fear than
no-one will return, and I truly will die in this trap.

Then I see two men approaching over the path from the compound, dressed
in the tunics of warriors. I feel relief, but also dread of what is to
come.

I do not recognise their faces.

“Is there a free woman here who wishes to be enslaved?” one of them
asks, looking around at the horizon as if he can’t see me.

“That is I, Masters, down here,” I reply humbly from down at the water
level.

They feign to notice me then.

One man crouches down on the jetty, reaching down to the padlock
securing the trap-door lid of my cage.

When he opens it, I duck with relief under the sets of bars to emerge
into the space.

“Hold up your wrists, woman,” one of the men orders me.

I comply, extending my hands up to him in supplication.

He reaches down to me, something steel in each hand. Warm metal closes
tightly around my cold wet wrists. I recognise these objects – slave
shackles.

It turns out that the short chain linking the two bracelets makes a
convenient handle to lift me from the water. The man does this in one
swift motion, Aurore’s weight not being difficult for him to handle.

Water streams from my naked body.

It’s only once he’s dumped me on the jetty I realise how weak I’ve
grown. I can’t stand up. Two of the men have to take an arm each, and
drag me along the short path towards the compound.

I try to part my chained wrists, and confirm that I can’t.

With my feet trailing behind me in the dirt I enter the fortifications
for my second time.

Despite the tropical heat, the braziers spaced around the compound have
been lit, giving off the same stinging smoke that makes the place look
like the aftermath of a barrage.

I am hauled as far as the wharf in front of Kurtz’ hut, where yesterday
we were judged.

There, one of the bracelets is temporarily unlocked, but only so my
guard can thread it through a heavy iron ring sunk into the rough wood
of the jetty and refasten it.

The two men walk away silently, and in this fashion I am left, my wrists
chained to the deck.

I had been expecting the slaver to be summoned immediately, but of
course this is not how Gorean society works. I am merely a nameless
woman who has begged for slavery. I must wait for the men to conclude
their business before they will attend to me.

It is not a dignified position in which to spend time.

I am feeling less weak, but I can’t stand up with my hands locked down
at the mooring ring. At first, when I try to get upright, I end up
crouching with my head low and my bare rump thrust into the air.

Then I lie on my side for a while, but the wood of the dock is hard and
uncomfortable. In addition, when lying down there is no position where I
do not feel self-conscious of Aurore’s body shape. Either I lie on my
front and the curves of my rump are presented; or I lie on my back and
the compound has a pleasing view of my breasts; or I lie on my side and
accent the womanly line of my hips and waist.

Eventually I realise I can sandwich the mooring ring between my thighs,
and wait in a kneeling position, with my knees together and my heels
tucked under my buttocks.

This means that my chained hands are in my lap, but at least I am
comfortable and I don’t look downright obscene. The chain between my
thighs presses against my genitals, also offering temporary protection.

I see that my presence on the jetty has not gone unnoticed. Some of the
men are loitering, finding tasks nearby the wharf as they gather like
scavengers around weak prey.

I keep my head down. One of these men is likely to deflower me by the
end of the day. I don’t want to look at them and think about which one
I’d prefer.

The wait I endure there is long enough that the approach of the most
likely candidate, the head slaver, Chiron, comes as something of a
relief to me. At his belt I see hangs an open collar that is waiting.

To his side and just behind him comes Udumi, walking with that
delightful catwalk stride that is her challenge to men.

This is the first time I have seen her with any clothing, although it is
only a slave camisk, barely reaching to her thighs. The material is very
thin, lighter than the fabric on the northern camisk I saw worn by Tala.
It is suitable for the jungle.

“I hear there is a woman who wishes to be a slave after all,” Chiron
says, more for the entertainment of the onlookers than for me.

“Yes Master,” I say, looking down at his feet, “It is I.”

“What is your name, free woman?”

I grind my teeth. As if he doesn’t know by now.

“I am Lady Aurore of the Sardar, Master.”

Chiron considers me before speaking.

“Once you wear this collar, you become property, owned. You cannot
unmake your choice.”

“And yet I beg for the collar, Master,” I say firmly.

He studies me for a moment, as if deciding whether I’m worth the effort,
and then he leans over me, blocking the sun as he reaches to his belt.

“Your offer is acceptable,” he says.

The steel band closes around my neck and I hear a click as it locks
shut.

I have been collared. Aurore is wearing a slave collar.

It feels heavy. I am very aware of it. The metal is warm against my skin
– perhaps it has been lying in the tropical sun. Instinct drives me to
reach up and touch it, but my wrists are trapped down at my thighs.

“What is your name, slave?” he asks.

“I have none, but what you give me, Master.”

It is the correct reply.

“I chose the name Aurore for you,” he says.

He looks around the crowd, and there is almost a chuckle as we know what
the next question will be.

“Does anyone wish to master this woman?”

“I want her,” a male voice says immediately.

“I will sport with you for her,” another man says.

Four or five others declare their interest. I can’t help note that more
men want me than the other women captured with me.

“None of you can have her unless you best me. I claim her for myself,”
Chiron eventually says, one the others have had their chance to speak.
“She will be second in my chain after Udumi.”

I’d expected this, but my spirits sink anyway. Unless someone fights and
defeats him, I will be Chiron’s girl and will shortly begin paying for
my insult.

And then another man speaks, the same voice from the darkened hut.

“Do you know the significance of the name Aurore to Goreans, slave?” a
deep voice asks.

It is a sound that pulls at something deep within me. I automatically
look up and almost see him, a silhouette of a huge bald headed man.

“It comes from the word ‘aurora’, after the aurora that is seen in the
night sky, near the poles of the planet. To the superstitious, the
aurora is an omen of evil changes. So that name is appropriate to you,
who come to us as the catalyst of doom.”

I don’t know how to reply to this, so I don’t.

“You must be my slave, woman of ill omen,” the voice says.

Chiron speaks before I can express an opinion on this.

“I want her, Ubar. I have served you with loyalty for many years,” he
says to Kurtz. “Do not let this doom you speak of begin over a mere
slave. Give her to me.”

There is a slight movement from inside the hut.

“You must do as you think necessary, Chiron. But as I said before, until
you are ready to challenge me, she mine.”

On an insignificant jetty in an alien world, the jungle air has become
thick with tension.

From my memories of being a man I understand this behaviour. We are more
likely to feud over women than anything else. Friend will fight friend
over their desire for a girl. This might be the moment when these two
warriors clash.

But as when I arrived lashed to the ship, the explosion of violence does
not happen.

“Mark her as mine,” Kurtz orders, ending the debate.

Udumi ducks into his hut, and emerges seconds later. She ties a strip of
purple ribbon to my collar, and I understand the meaning.

I am marked as Kurtz’ personal slave. Me, and only me, apparently. Our
eyes meet briefly as her fingers fumble at my neck. Udumi does not look
pleased that I’ve been awarded this honour.

“What do you wish done with your slave, Ubar?” Chiron asks rather
curtly.

“Train her until she is the best of them all,” is Kurtz reply. “A slave
suitable for an Ubar. I will send for her when I see fit.”

He turns away then, a shadow disappearing into the deeper shadows. This
man is my owner, but he dismisses me without even looking at me
properly. But he does call back one order.

“She is not to be touched sexually, at least for now.”

There is a notable grumble of disappointment from the crowd when he
orders me not to be touched.

Numbly I look around. That’s that. Lady Aurore is now Aurore the slave,
Aurore the kajira.

I am released from the dock-ring, but only to re-secure my wrists in the
bracelets, and in this manner I walk away from my owner to begin my new
life stunned by the enormity of what has begun.

19 – In which Aurore begins learning of the pens

“What is your purpose?” Udumi asks me harshly, almost spitting in my
face as she leans down towards me.

I am unsure how to answer. Perhaps she alluding to my mission?

From out of Udumi’s sight, along the line of kneeling women, Nessa is
silently trying to mouth the solution to me, but I can’t make out her
words.

There is a white hot pain in a stripe across my breasts as I am struck
with Udumi’s whip.

I cry out. Blessed Priest Kings, that hurts – she got me right across my
nipple.

“What is your purpose?” Udumi asks Jaya instead, as if my failure to
answer was utterly contemptible, and eager to avoid the same fate as me,
Jaya immediately blurts out:

“To please men.”

Her expression stony, Udumi moves along the line to Nessa.

“What are you?” Udumi asks.

“A slave girl,” Nessa answers promptly.

The next question I am asked – what is the most important quality in a
slave girl – defeats me again. This time the lash is across my back.

Since our class began, I am the only one to have been struck. I am only
a day behind the other recent captures, but I am made to feel every ahn
of my missing experience. Aurore is at the bottom of the class.

The other women have been clothed, in camisks of the light material
similar to the one worn by Udumi, whereas I have been naked all morning,
reinforcing my status as the new-girl.

The place where I kneel with these others is called the pens. It is a
demeaning title for my new home, naming it after a place suitable only
for the storage of animals.

The pens back onto the huge and incomplete outer wall of the compound,
made from tarred trees, so they comprise one side of my prison. The
other pen walls are made of mud and straw – the construction material
used for most buildings in this region.

It might not be as secure as the tree trunks, but there is no escape
from this place.

Chiron, or Master Chiron as I must think of him, was exultant as he
marched me across here from the jetty.

“I’m going to break you,” he said, dragging me using his fist knotted in
my long hair. “I might not be able to rape you, but I can still break
you. You’re going to wish you died in that cage.”

He was jubilant. Udumi, in contrast, seemed hugely aggrieved that I’d
accepted the collar, rather than drowning.

“I cannot be expected to train this girl,” she complained to Chiron.
“She is wild, one of those where beating does not teach fear, but makes
them meaner.”

“I will learn fear, Mistress,” I said humbly.

This answer is still not sufficient.

“Even if she does obey, she is all long arms and legs,” Udumi continued.
“How is such a girl to be taught to be graceful?”

“At the moment she is gangly and does not move well,” Chiron agrees,
“but she has potential as a pleasure slave.”

Udumi inspected me thoroughly then, inspecting my teeth; pinching the
slim feminine muscles in my arms and shaking her head; and even
intimately lifting my breasts to feel their weight and firmness.

“Why not have her sold straight away?” Udumi pressed. “She is only
bright enough to be a kettle girl, or perhaps one who pleases men in the
baths of a city. These roles do not require training.”

Silently kneeling with my head down, I accept these critical appraisals.

I am already familiar with this treatment of new recruits in the army,
where it is known as beasting. Always the newcomer is informed they are
beyond hope, and deficient in every way.

By applying this treatment the instructor starts the process of breaking
down the former personality of the individual, ready to rebuild them
into a more suitable form. It also begins to bond the individual to the
other new recruits, in a similar fashion to a sorority hazing.

Both beasting and hazing are crude and transparent techniques, but
effective.

The best way to respond to this treatment is not to respond, but let the
trainer do as they will and get it over with as quickly as possible.

“Show me nadu,” Udumi demands to Nessa, and remaining in her kneeling
position my friend spreads her thighs wide, flaunting her sex in the
position of a pleasure slave.

I risk looking around. This might be my home for many months.

The few windows in the pens are small, set high out of reach and they
are barred. Outside it is raining again.

Except for the empty room assigned for training, the pens are little
more than a storage area for female goods. There is a dormitory room we
are locked at night. There is a place for keeping the accessories of
slaves – camisks, silks, whips, restraints and the like.

And that is all.

Food and drink is kept outside of this building, so we cannot eat
unsupervised. The diet of slaves is strictly controlled.

When the sun is directly overhead we are permitted a brief rest, I take
the opportunity to talk to Nessa.

“How are you doing?” I ask her gently.

She looks pale and tired, although her eyes are no longer tear streaked.

“I was taken, I am no longer white silk,” she admits to me in a defeated
voice. “Last night my master taught me much about my slavery.”

I put my hands to her upper arms and hold her tenderly to me.

“My free companion will not want me now,” she says mournfully. “He will
not ally his family with a slave girl who has been so well used.”

“Are the other women the same?” I ask.

Nessa nods, reaching up and fingers the ribbon of purple silk.

“You are the only virgin remaining among our group, Aurore. Warriors
outnumber slaves here, so all are taken as companions in the furs.
Perhaps you have been fortunate in your Master, although they say he is
a cruel man.”

Udumi has been out of my mind for a moment, but our embrace has not gone
unnoticed.

“Do not touch each other,” she says harshly, crossing over to us. “It is
forbidden.”

We break apart our hold.

“Kneel,” we are commanded, and I receive a lash for hugging Nessa, and
another across my back because the way I knelt was lacking in grace.

Udumi’s whip is a single strand slave training whip, and like Chiron’s
larger multi-strand version it is designed to hurt rather than harm. I
am already becoming familiar with it.

Nessa is also struck twice – once as punishment for the physical
contact, and once to remind her she is a slave. At the second lash, she
cries out.

Udumi is a hard taskmaster.

Everything I have been doing is unsatisfactory for her. The way I sit;
the way I kneel; particularly the way I walk; the way I eat; the way I
drink; where I place my arms and hands; and the way I hold my head.

Apparently I am the worst kajira that was ever seen on Gor, and I will
be lucky if a man ever wants to pay a few copper tarns for me.

In the classroom I count thirty women in the collar, but there are
perhaps as many again resident in the pens. These others are more
experienced slaves, who have completed training and spend more of the
day in menial domestic chores needed to keep the compound functioning.

Only a half-dozen of my classmates are from the raid on the barge, so
the rest of the women in this room must be captives of earlier forays.

I am part of an ethnic minority, being a white skinned northern woman.
Most of the slaves are girls from the local tribes. Some of them do not
even speak Gorean very well, preferring Ushindi or Ukungu, the languages
of the jungle peoples.

Udumi uses her whip on these women every time they speak in their native
tongues. Seeing this, I predict that soon, Gorean will become their
preferred language.

The rest of the morning passes with this repetition of questions and
movements. Guessing its deeper purpose is not difficult. It is like a
form of cult brainwashing. I know that by the time I have repeated the
answer that I exist “to please men” so often it becomes instinctive, it
will grow harder to resist accepting that truly I do only exist for that
purpose.

At one point I am removed from my classes by Chiron and taken to a room
where I am examined by one of the physicians’ caste.

Samples of my blood are taken and a record is made of my fingerprints.
It will go on permanent record somewhere that I am a slave. Measurements
are made of my proportions, and details such as my eye and hair colour
are noted.

Then the medical becomes more intimate. An embarrassing and
uncomfortable procedure confirms that I am a virgin. My attention is
diverted, as a trick to once again surprise my erogenous zones with the
whip, and my reactions are noted.

“Exceptionally responsive, this one,” the physician comments with
professional interest. “She is as tense as a bow string.”

I am still blushing when I am returned to my classes.

The afternoon is devoted to some of the more practical skills required
of a slave girl. I learn how to warm the Gorean alcoholic beverage,
paga, to serve it at the most satisfactory temperature, and how to clean
an animal carcass to extract the cuts of meat.

In my previous life I had to forage for game, so I am not squeamish
about animal flesh and I find this lesson useful as a survival skill,
losing myself in concentration.

However Jaya protests for a fraction too long about touching the cold
clammy entrails, and she is beaten severely, until she’s helplessly
lying on her side in a foetal ball, begging Udumi for mercy.

Her flogging takes so long and is so vicious, I think for a moment that
Udumi intends to beat Jaya to death as an example to the rest of us.

That is the last time anyone hesitates to complete one of her tasks on
my first day.

This same meat is then cooked ready for the enjoyment of the men this
evening, but rather than being given the chance to try this delicacy
ourselves, at the end of the day most of the women are only offered a
bowl of slave gruel.

The three women who were captured with me, Nessa, Jaya, and Colleen, are
denied even this nourishment. They are each to serve their master this
night, and they will only eat what he gifts them from his hand.

Hungry slave girls are known to be more eager to please.

Left behind, once night falls I am shown to a straw mattress in a
section of the building that resembles a hostel dormitory.

It is quiet in here – most of the girls being out for the night in
duties of service to men. The few that remain have masters who do not
wish for company every night, or masters that are away on the business
of the compound.

It is also very dark, without the need for oil lamps that are kept
burning to illuminate other nocturnal activities. The only light comes
from the moons of Gor, shining in through a high window.

I lie on my side, my knees drawn up and my hands sandwiched protectively
between my thighs. My breasts are squashed between my upper arms, and
the absence of the once-familiar genitals between my legs is very
apparent.

I am much aware of being female.

A rule of the pens is that all the women have to sleep naked. Nocturnal
clothing is one thing provided only at the discretion of the master
whose bed you share.

Thus I am surrounded by other women, all naked, like me. It is
impossible not to feel myself as the same as these female slaves. I can
hear whispered conversations between friends in the semi-darkness, but
no-one wants to talk to the Ubar’s slave.

My only ally in the pens has been Nessa, and she is in the furs of her
master. I feel lonely. Last night I rested back in the arms of Kwesi. It
was preferable to lying on this hard mat.

In the privacy the night gives me, I reach up to my throat. There it is,
my slave’s collar. I’ve been constantly conscious of its presence and
wanted to touch it all day, but it would have been obvious to anyone
watching me.

The steel still feels heavy. My fingers rub its outer surface and I feel
a loop, such as might be used to attach leashes or chains, and the
indentations of writing.

I don’t know what it says, but it is unlikely that the collar has been
personalised to me. It will likely give simply the name of my owner,
Kurtz, or declare that I am the property of his men.

I am nothing but a slave. This collar connects me to the untold
forgotten millions of women, through the thousands of years of Gorean
history. They too will have fingered their collar as they tried to
accept their place as slaves.

Around one tenth of the Gorean population live in slavery at any one
time, but of those who wear the collar almost ninety-five percent are
female. Almost one in every five women across Gor are enslaved, or will
be at some point in their lives.

Each one of them is collared as a means of marking them as slave.
Collars can be made of rope, leather, wood, or even precious metals or
jewels, and they can be made to control behaviour through strangulation,
but the simple bands of steel are the most common. There are thousands
of similar slave collars out there on Gor, but this one is around my
neck.

I move my fingers around the circumference, tracing for the small
opening where the key might unlock it.

Any Gorean would see me in this collar and immediately understand its
meaning. I am property, owned, below human status, an animal.

The person who owns a slave may do anything they wish with their
property. Gor recognises no crimes against slaves, not even murder.

There is nowhere I can run to on this world where people will treat me
with respect and kindness, while I display this collar around my throat.
I will only be fleeing into submission before another owner. I have
accepted slavery, and therefore I do not deserve any mercy.

I look up to the barred window high above me, where moonlight shines,
wondering how many other women are waiting in confinement right now.

In the darkness of my pen, I hear a moan. It is a sound of longing
almost to the point of the desperation being painful.

“Be silent, slave!” another female voice hisses.

Does the moaning woman wish to be free, or is she in the throes of
“slave need”? I had always believed that to be a mythical state. Priest
Kings help me if I get to a state where I sound like her.

However, a lack of sex is not likely to be a long term issue for me. I
know the effect Aurore’s body can have on men, because I was once a man
myself. I, for example, would have been desperate to touch a girl such
as her.

How long will they keep their hands from me?

I finger the thin piece of purple ribbon knotted round the unforgiving
ring of steel. This small decoration has saved my virginity. I would be
in Chiron’s furs right now, were I not wearing this ribbon.

Such power, a piece of ribbon can have. My sisters in the collar are
being taken, while I lie here alone on my side.

I don’t know how Nessa can stand it. She must be exhausted.

A yawn escapes me at that very moment. When was the last time I slept
properly? It must have been nearly two days ago, the previous night to
the attack on the barge.

Tiredness begins to take me then, as if I’ve permitted myself to release
the feeling.

Last time I slept I was a proud free woman of Gor. Only a month ago I
slept as a warrior, with a nude slave draped atop me. Tonight I am the
naked slave, naked except for a steel collar that I cannot remove.

This should be too momentous a night to sleep to sleep – I have become
kajira. I can see the feminine curve of Aurore’s pale hip in the half-
light, and I can feel her silken thighs brush against each other if I
raise my knee.

I should also be too uncomfortable to sleep – my mat is not well padded,
and sharp points of straw penetrate the coarse fabric, but I am
exhausted and I eagerly seize the chance escape this barbaric world.

20 – I have a night-time conversation, after all.

I awaken abruptly, not knowing where I am, or how much time has elapsed
since I fell asleep.

It would seem I am in a room, barely lit by light from a high, barred
window. Around me are the figures of sleeping people. I realise they are
nude women. I’m in a room full of naked women.

I try to inhale with surprise, and realise I cannot breath.

Someone grips my head tightly, using their hand knotted in my hair.
Their arm is around my neck, and my throat presses into the crook of
this attacker’s elbow.

It’s a slim arm – it must be another girl.

Her body is clamped intimately against my back. Her leg is around my
waist, pinning me in a wresting hold.

She intends going to strangle me.

I panic and struggle, trying to call out for help from one of these nude
sleepers, but I can’t exhale enough to make a single sound.

“Be silent, and be still,” the girl’s voice whispers.

It sounds like Udumi. I am in the slave pens of Kurtz’ compound, and
Udumi is trying to kill me.

I continue to struggle. Stars begin to appear before my eyes.

As I start to lose consciousness strength fails me and I am forced to
relax. I am expecting the end – she is going to kill me and I won’t even
discover why, but the oblivion will be a blessed relief.

Then my assailant releases the tension on my neck enough for me to draw
in a big gulp of air.

“Try to scream, and you die,” she whispers.

The grip relaxes further, enough for me to answer.

“I choose not to scream,” I whisper back quickly.

“Wise decision” she replies.

As reality returns to me, I understand what she must be doing. She wants
a private conversation, which is almost impossible in the close packed
environment of the pens. Slaves are allowed no secrets.

“There was no need to attack me,” I grumble.

“You and me are going to have a talk,” Udumi says rapidly, ignoring me.
“I want to know what the deal is with you. You are the only slave the
Ubar has made his own since the raid on the landing site. I want to know
what makes you different to the others. Beautiful women have come and
gone, and he has chosen none for himself.”

“He’s sat there in his hut being miserable, out of everyone’s way, and
things here have gone on just fine without him. Everyone was happy.”

“Then Aurore arrives with her perfect body, tied to second prow, and he
calls you the catalyst of doom, an omen of evil. Chiron and the Master
risk fighting, because of you. What makes you so special?”

I need more allies in this place. I resolve to sacrifice a little of the
truth to Udumi, in order to hide my deepest secret.

“I am sent by the Priest Kings,” I say, Aurore’s whisper sounding high
and nervous to my ears. “It appears I was betrayed and the Ubar knows
this.”

The grip of her thigh around me relaxes a little.

“They have sent other women,” Udumi says, “Mina, Carla, but he has not
taken the same interest. Why are you worth rocking the boat?”

I don’t want to tell her it is because I was once a man.

“Perhaps it is because I came from Urth, and he has interest in a
barbarian woman?” I say, and then realise she might be one of the lower
caste women that do not know of our world. “Have you heard of Urth?” I
question.

Her breasts move against my back. I have amused Udumi with my ignorance,
and she laughs, but it is a bitter, cynical humour.

“Have I heard of Urth? You’re talking to an L.A. girl, bitch,” she says,
surprising me by switching language to speak in American English.

“I’d assumed you were local,” I admit.

“Because I’m black?” she says, aggressive. “You think the slavers
wouldn’t want black women from Earth?”

“You don’t have the accent of a barbarian,” is all I can say, using the
term that Goreans use to describe all women taken from Urth.

“You are only the second Urth woman to pass through here,” she
speculates, a little mollified. “I have risen to first-girl here, and
you arrive with the body of a passion slave. It might be possible he has
an interest in understanding why barbarian women look like Sports
Illustrated swimsuit models.”

I must seize on her theory.

Kurtz treatment of me at the docks suggested I have been betrayed in
every way, and he knows I was once a man. I will be viewed as a freak if
this information is allowed to spread. My best strategy is to appear
ignorant, and go along with Udumi’s own conclusions.

“But would he really risk violence with a long-held friend over that?” I
whisper.

“You do not know him, Udumi says ruefully. “He acts always as he
considers an Ubar must, with no regard to the consequences. His sense of
duty will kill us all. The Ubar would destroy the whole compound if he
thought it was necessary to meet some greater objective.”

At least I have moved the conversation away from why Kurtz is so
interested in me.

“You’re not jealous?” I ask, “That the Ubar has chosen me?”

Udumi laughs again, but it is not kind this time.

“Before he sank into whatever depression ails him, I saw him order
captive girls bound and thrown to the thalarion in the lake, because
they failed to please him. He took women only for temporary pleasure,
you see, never showing interest in a personal slave.”

“The Ubar has not laid with a woman since he went into retreat, but if
he is emerging from his illness, he may return to his former ways.
Unless you’re very good at engaging his interest, you have the shortest
life expectancy of any girl in the camp.”

She pauses.

“I’m sorry, Aurore. My master, Chiron, is known as the woman-breaker,
but at least he is rational. I would rather be serving him than the mad
Ubar.”

“And Master Chiron is not pleased with your behaviour at the docks. He
will deliver some chastisement, and your next few days will not be
pleasant,” she warns. “Further reason that none will be jealous of you,
Aurore.”

My spirits falls with each sentence she speaks. At times like this, a
soldier relies on occupation, focussing on his mission. I must find out
what intelligence I can.

“How long has Kurtz been unwell?” I ask.

“I was taken when Kurtz first seized this place, and he also captured
the bear-creatures whose heads are on the front gate. They were kept in
the building outside the compound, where the male slaves are housed.”

“Kurtz went to visit them often. One day he returned from a visit in
rage like I have never seen before. In his fury he had beheaded the
animals, and it was after their heads were put on the gates that he
retreated to his hut.”

This is very interesting. First, I have learnt that Kurtz is certainly
not allied to the Kurii. The opposite seems to be the case. Secondly,
no-one but him seems to realise that the Kurii were sentient beings.

I think the situation between Udumi and myself is diffusing, but it
turns out I’m not off the hook.

“So, agent of the Priest Kings… There’s something else we need to reach
an understanding about,” she continues. “I’ve not forgotten you said a
night with me would be something special. I’ve seen the way you looked
at me. Are you a lesbian or something?”

“Bi,” I answer automatically.

Why did I say that? Why not “lesbian”?

“I would advise you not to tell any of the native Gorean women that you
are bisexual. Their culture raises them to desire those with masculine
qualities, so it is very rare on this world for people to favour their
own sex.”

“It will make it more difficult for you to make friends, and you need
friends. You will suffer much at the hands of the men, and you are
resented by the other women because you have not been used.”

“So I won’t tell anyone,” Udumi concludes, “but try anything on with me
and I’ll kick your ass.”

We are silent for a moment as I reflect on this.

The wrestler’s hold on me has relaxed completely now. I try not to think
about her as a lesbian woman might, but it’s not easy when she’s
spooning me.

“Thank you for your kind advice to me,” I eventually whisper in a
grateful voice. “Why are you being so nice now when you were hard on me
during the day?”

“I am still a slave here,” Udumi says, the toughness returning to her
voice. “The master ordered me to train you until you’re the best slave
here, and that’s what I must do. I will be harder on you than the
others, because you must be the best. I don’t want to end up being the
one thrown into the lake.”

“But when the door is locked for the night,” she continues, “we are both
just women, and we can look out for each other.”

I’m surprised she’s so thoughtful, so deep. This is the girl who
instigated the burning of many male slaves.

Udumi’s role in the raid on the barge has always troubled me and I am
about to question her about it, but she suddenly releases her hold on me
and scrambles to her feet.

She must have a sixth sense, because a second later there is the sound
of the door to our room unlocking. It swings open to admit Chiron, he
who is her master and the man who manages the slaves.

His face is illuminated by a small oil lamp, the light of which gleams
of Udumi’s dark skin.

“Why are you not at your sleeping place?” he demands.

“I needed to use the straw,” she replies glibly.

He looks unconvinced, but gruffly says, “Be on with you,” and Udumi pads
across to the heap of cut reeds in the far corner where we are permitted
to relieve ourselves.

Chiron walks around the room then, holding the light over one girl and
then the next, crouching down close enough as if he’s trying to inhale
their scent.

I’m not sure what he’s looking for – seeing the reflection of many open
eyes in the dormitory I can see that most here have been awakened by the
disturbance, but they just look up passively.

When my turn comes I fold one arm over my breasts and use my other hand
to hide my sex, in the manner of women ashamed of their nakedness.

He looms over me, lingering longer than some of the others, almost close
enough to kiss me, but to my relief he moves on.

Seemingly at random he selects one girl, holding her upper arm, and
after whispering something to her, she scrambles to her feet.

The slave follows Chiron from the room, walking a few paces behind with
her head lowered.

As he closes the door, we are once more in darkness. Women were silent
in his presence, but once we’re alone they exhale with palpable relief.
It seems no-one wanted to be chosen.

The sound of the lock trapping us in hear is barely audible, but I hear
it all the same.

21 – In which I learn that life as a slave is not unlike service in the
army.

Once the first day of our lives as slaves has grown to a week in
servitude and then weeks, the initial terror we women suffered during
our capture and collaring settles to a more routine level of misery.

In Kurtz’ compound, the training routine for female slaves repeats the
same daily pattern as I experienced in my first day, where the morning
is occupied with what I call our “brainwashing”, and the afternoon is
devoted to learning physical and domestic tasks.

Men outnumber women in the compound, so the former being lazy beasts, as
soon as the females are able the menial chores are handed to us.

These humdrum tasks include cleaning, the washing of clothes, sewing,
and preparing of food. I learn from observation of the more experienced
slaves working that as time progresses in the compound execution of
these chores will take more of my day, and less will be spend under
teaching.

I am not unhappy with this likelihood. The chores are in fact welcome,
as they permit me some freedom of movement about the compound, without
having to earn release from the pens through nocturnal service on my
back.

My lot has also improved with the allocation of clothing. On my second
day as a slave I was granted one of the light camisks, so rather than
being the only one nude I was in the same uniform as the other girls.

Mine is similar in design to the one I saw worn by Tala so long ago in
the Sardar, but it is made from a lighter fabric than Tala’s, more
suitable for wear in the tropics.

My camisk is formed from a rectangle, with a hole to be slipped over the
head, similar in fashion to a poncho. The garment is then tied tightly
at my slim waist with a length of coarse rope.

Once in place on my body it barely reaches to my thighs, as Tala’s did.
Another similarity is that it is not wide enough to wrap around me
completely and cover my sides, so in profile I appear as almost nude.

The garment plunges deeply at my neckline to flaunt the swell of what
little of my cleavage is already visible from the side, and it is also
scooped out low at my back.

I am aware I look very beautiful in this garment.

I found it shamefully revealing when I first tried such a scanty thing,
but even that was too much coverage to please the men. Chiron insisted
on the lower hem being shortened even further, to flaunt more bare
female leg.

Nonetheless, it is a great improvement on being naked so I don it with
pleasure in the mornings. After a couple of days in the camisk, I feel
less self-conscious of the constant watching eyes of the men.

In defence of the particular taste of the men of Kurtz, I should
interject that am grateful for being given a camisk at all, as it is not
typical slave garb in the tropics. Jungle kajirae typically wear short
strips of rep cloth, tied about the hips, and they have to go bare-
breasted.

I think it has survived as the fashion in this compound because the
warriors of Kurtz are from the Northern latitudes, and they are
sentimental men, showing themselves capable of some nostalgia in
fashions that remind them of home.

I feel no particular yearning to be elsewhere. Unlike the other women I
have no former life to return to now. The anniversary soon passes where
Aurore has been longer as a female slave than she was as a free woman,
so for Aurore if not Aurius, the compound has become my most settled
home.

As long as I avoid my greatest fear – enduring rape from Kurtz and his
men, and a fate of sexual servitude to this group of warriors, things
are bearable.

I am protected by the judgement of Kurtz on me, on that day when I was
collared on the dock side. I do not understand his motivation for this –
I have heard enough examples of his brutality that I know he is not a
merciful man, and we hardly began our connection on a good enough basis
to engender his kindness.

Whatever his reasons, it is impossible not to feel some sense of
obligation towards my master, that elusive voice in isolation in his
modest hut.

My master said he would send for me when he saw fit.

Weeks soon turn to months without that event occurring, and I don’t
glimpse him outside his hovel, so I concentrate diligently on my
training, learning what is known as “slave paces”, and await his
summons.

Often I catch myself fingering the ribbon at my collar and staring
towards his doorway, but apart from the guard posted outside there is no
sign of life.

Meanwhile my mission to the Priest Kings has not been forgotten – indeed
I feel the need to cling to some remnant of my male persona, so as a
means of retaining the soldier’s mentality I continue to gather what
intelligence and information are made available to me.

No attempt is made to confine us by day, but the reason is not out of
trust, but because it is unnecessary. One side of the compound fronts
onto the dangerous waters of the lake, and in the other three directions
there is only a short distance to the impassable and treacherous
swampland.

There is nowhere to run, so we can go almost where we wish. The ships
are guarded, which are the only possible means of escape, and we are
forbidden access to the building a short distance from the compound that
houses the male captives.

Other than that, I have more access to the outside world than I did as a
free woman.

The one regulation I have just mentioned – that on visiting the male
slaves, is to prevent us attempting to free the men and start a slaves’
revolt, but is also for our own safety. Udumi tells us that early into
the camp’s history a female slave went to deliver the male captives some
wine, passed too close to one of the men, and was held there until the
morning being much used.

She learned to her cost that the absence of female intimacy had been a
more serious depravation for those men than a lack of alcohol.

My efforts at espionage mean that except for the layout within the
building of the male slaves, I form a detailed mental map of Kurtz small
empire.

Inside the compound I learn the locations of the buildings, including
the storage warehouses; the armoury; the sleeping areas for the
warriors; the large structure used for social eating and communal
gatherings; the kitchens; the workshops used by the smiths and
leatherworkers, and the modest hut occupied by my master.

I learn the function of the braziers emitting acrid smoke I had earlier
observed. The dense cloud is repellent to the biting insects that infest
the jungle, and it seems to work. Since arriving at the compound I have
been relatively unscathed by insect attack.

Sexual assault I have also been spared, as well as rape, but in this
matter I am unique. With men outnumbering women there is a tolerance of
a man grabbing and handling a passing kajira, whether she has a master
or not, and the caresses that follows these temporary captures are often
intimate.

It is worth recording that in this respect a difference I have noticed
between the behaviour of the women newer to their collar, and the older
hands.

The new girls try to avoid the attacks if possible, finding them
humiliating violations, whereas the more experienced seem to not only
enjoy the touch of a warrior, but actively seek opportunities to get in
a man’s range.

Observing the women, I concluded there are two reasons for the
behaviour. Firstly there are evolutionary advantages to the approach
adopted by the experienced slaves. Being in the good favour of multiple
males increases the chances of the woman receiving protection if
threatened, and she may also receive gifts such as food in exchange for
her physical contact.

These situations of sexual bartering by the more vulnerable females are
not unknown on Urth, in places such as women’s prisons, so it is not
surprising they occur on Gor where we are captives.

The second reason for longer term slaves seeking the gropings is more
disturbing to me, as it is a spell cast on the women that I too have
begun to fall under. It is a very simple reason. After a while here, we
crave anyone’s touch.

On my first day, Udumi rebuked me for hugging Nessa. I later learned
that female slaves are forbidden any physical contact with each other.
Not even a friendly, chaste, embrace is allowed.

Acts of self-pleasuring are very strictly prohibited. Occasionally the
slaver, Chiron, will check our pens at night. This explains the
inspection of women I witnessed on my first night. A girl that has
aroused herself has a particular scent that can be detected by inhaling
close to her.

I am told that any girls caught relieving their own sexual needs without
male involvement are flogged in front of the whole compound. The
humiliation of being publically identified as a slut is said to be worse
than the physical pain.

It is a clever tactic by our masters, this restriction of our sexual
release. The captive women will begin to desire any form of the comfort
that comes with physical contact.

In the army, the tactics used by my trainers were meant to shape me both
mentally and physically for the tasks required of a soldier.

When training slaves great effort is also put into the psychological
elements of shaping the female mind into one satisfactory to the trainer
except in the situation of slavery, the training is not to turn us into
killers, but to encourage beauty and passion.

Thus our morning sessions are intended to sexualise us, making us
constantly aware that we are women and that women are different from
men; making us aware of our own beauty; of the men around us; and of our
rightful place as their slaves.

The undoubted eroticism of some of our activities maintains women in a
state of arousal for hours at a time, desires which we are then cruelly
forbidden to sate.

I am no more immune to this slow enforced growth of frustration than the
other captives in the pens. At times I can feel Aurore’s perfect body
tingle with desire to be caressed.

For example, after the ahn we spent discussing the best ways to use
one’s mouth to provoke desire, even I would have been willing to accept
a warrior’s touch easing the aching emptiness between my legs.

Men, it turns out, are not the only ones that need to get laid once in a
while.

Let’s make clear I am not saying that I am discovering that it is
woman’s true nature to be a slave, and she should be a sexual plaything
to men. My morality is still that of an Urth male. This admission of my
building desire is no more than that – unsatisfied sexual frustration.
All the same, the growing desire is like woodworm burrowing into my
mind. And I reached that mental state after only a few weeks. How might
I be after many, many months of this?

The physical tasks I perform also remind me of army service, being as
carefully structured to train as the mental exercises. Each movement I
make is repeated to perfection, until my body has its own memory and
walks or kneels gracefully without conscious thought.

Every job I’m assigned has function, such as cleaning soiled straw from
areas of the pens, but it also teaches me of my insignificance. Once I
was nothing compared to the devouring entity that was the army. Now I am
still nothing.

Merciless suffering is another inevitable pillar of army life. In the
communal space of the compound is the whipping post. Nessa is flogged
into unconsciousness on her third day for stealing a pasty from the
kitchen area.

She was so weak with hunger she was hallucinating tarns in the sky.

Women are sometimes lashed for no reason other than to remind them that
they are slaves, or we are even tied to the whipping post and then
released unharmed after a frightening time anticipating the flogging.

But this is unusual – beatings are only occasionally given without any
justification. When I am lashed, it is usually because as my teachers
and my conditioning insidiously tells me – “I have deserved it”.

I am a very poor slave girl, so they tell me, and I am punished so
frequently that I am in almost permanently sore somewhere on my
vulnerable flesh, but my tolerance to the tortures is slowly increasing.

As expected Chiron has been my chief nemesis for punishment. He has
beaten me severely several times, using the multi-stranded Gorean slave
whip, the one designed to be agonisingly painful but leave no permanent
marks that reduce the victim’s value.

It is these whippings make me feel most slave. I cannot help but fear
them, and by extension fear Chiron, or punishment from any of the men.

When I was transformed I had expected that my masculine emotional
control would remain, but it didn’t take long for Chiron to show me that
Aurore can be made to cry.

I can admit that I fear him.

Therefore as much as I can I keep out of Chiron’s sight, and when that
is not possible I try with true diligence to please him, losing all
thought of my former self in my devotion to completion of my tasks.

I can’t escape him in my dreams though, and sometimes I wake screaming
from nightmares where he looms over me with the whip. These I fear will
remain with me for the rest of my life.

Our days are ones of ignoble suffering, but despite all the pain and
indignities, in the pens we learn to be grateful that we are females and
that we are desired enough to be slaves. Gor is a barbaric world, and we
see examples of how the treatment of women is lenient compared to the
treatment of men.

One of the male captives from our party, a bowman responsible for
guarding the barge, was reluctant to labour on the construction of the
fortifications after being bitten by a thalarion from the swamps, and
before the whole camp he was put to the sword as an example to the
others.

Occasionally the silence of the night is abruptly broken by the sound of
a man screaming in agony. Then I put my hands over my ears and try not
to imagine what kind of torture might make a human male emit such a
noise.

Friendship between people of either gender grows through shared
suffering and helps one endure the unendurable. Nessa has remained the
person to whom I feel closest. It is she that I seek in my moments of
leisure.

If I had still been a guy, I’d have tried my best to get Nessa on a
date, but I know as Aurore, other people will be gifted with the chances
of physical intimacy with her.

She does not speak much of her nights serving her master, but midway
through our second week he is away overnight, carrying out some duty for
the Ubar, and I can see his absence pains her.

“You like him, despite everything he does to you?” I ask her curiously.

The smile she flashes is guilty, but is not quite the sad, broken look
she gave me after her first night in collar.

“There are worse masters a girl could have,” she admits. “I would not
now wish to be taken from him, and given to one of the others.”

The reply makes me despondent, somehow. Perhaps because her affection is
not directed towards me, and perhaps I fear that she is succumbing, like
so many others seem to, to the effect that Gor seems to have on women.

I feel strangely dejected as I like up in the queue for my bowl of slave
gruel. Like I’m the one being left behind, rather than the lucky one.

But then something finally happens. The girl whose turn it is to dish
out gruel to the queue of hungry women shakes her head, refusing to give
me any food. She points me across to Udumi, who I ask for explanation.

“Tonight, you will serve your master,” Udumi says.

My first emotion is pleasure at this news. My mission might be complete
and I can get on my way. But I also start to feel fearful. I glance down
at the body the Priest Kings created for me and see Aurore’s breasts
straining against the tight camisk, and her long bare legs made to wrap
round a man in the throes of pleasure.

This might be the night I experience sex as a woman. Something tightens
in my belly – part dread, part hope.

I pull at the tunic and notice that a stain from the cleaning I’ve been
doing today soils my garment.

“This camisk is dirty, Mistress,” I say addressing Udumi with the
respectful title as we always must. “Permission to go and fetch a clean
one before I report to the Ubar.”

Udumi shakes her head, and she smiles mischievously.

“Your outfit for tonight has already been selected for you, daughter of
the Sardar.”

22 – Aurore of the Sardar serves her master

“Paga, Master,” I say, and keeping my head appropriately lowered I
extend my arms and offer the drink out to Him.

Silently Kurtz takes the cup from me. I do not look up, knowing it
unwise to do so, but I sense I am being appraised. Then he speaks.

“It would please me to know how goes your life as a kajira, Aurore.
Specifically – I wish you to tell me if you find your new life better or
worse than being a free woman.”

I take a few moments consider my response. I must answer honestly –
slaves are not permitted deception.

As I rest back on my heels, my ears fill with a jingle of chains from
the outfit selected for me. It turns out Udumi had reason to be amused
at my expense. Slave steel was to be my only permitted clothing for the
evening.

My only adornment is this set of interlinked chains locked about me. The
longest one of these chains runs head to toe, proceeding vertically from
a fastening at my collar down to my feet. In my current kneeling pose it
lies heavily on my chest, where it trails in the valley between my bare
breasts.

A horizontal set of shackles are padlocked to this at the height of my
waist, and secure my wrists in front of me, where at the maximum I can
spread them about the width of my hips apart.

My ankles are locked in bracelets, fastened together with a final
horizontal chain slightly longer than the one securing my wrists, and
padlocked again to the vertical link.

Goreans call this dress of chains a sirik.

With even the smallest movement there is the sound of the metal, the
touch of steel intimately on bare flesh. Their weight hanging from my
shackles makes me constantly aware of their presence. What is my
experience of being a kajira? I feel ashamed; naked; feminine;
desirable; vulnerable; beautiful.

Looking down at my naked body, I see that the light from the oil lamps
gives my ivory skin a pleasing golden glow. Some kind of moth flutters
around one of those lamps, drawn to it the same way I have been drawn
all the way across Gor to the Ubar.

“Gorean society is so repressive of free women that in some ways, my new
existence is little worse than the old,” I have to admit. “It is better
than the death I faced in the cage would have been. Free women do
nothing but wait on the will of men, but now as a slave at least I have
occupation and purpose to my life.”

The words are true. Improving at any skill brings reward, even if those
skills are learning to please men. I cannot deny that Aurore has grown
more desirable under Udumi’s tutelage, and it has been impossible for me
not to react to my success.

“You think that it is better for a women to be a slave, than to be
free?” he asks, sitting forward as if this is very important to him.

“Not in general, Master,” I clarify. “My experience has not been typical
of most slave women. Master has been unusually kind – I have not been
raped like every one of the others. If I had to endure that, my reply to
you now might be very different.”

I steal a quick glance at Him, before letting my shackled hands rest on
my bare thighs. Kurtz, the man whose word protects my fragile virginity,
is staring directly at me. His eyes glint of the shadows in the semi-
darkness.

He is an exceptionally large man, with most of that size being muscle
rather than fat. Kurtz wears a pair of loose-fitting trousers on his
lower body – a garment unusual on Gor where tunics are more common.

His upper body is bare. I can see he is completely hairless, even
without eyebrows, as if he’s descended from one of the exotics bred to
engender a particular physical trait.

Kurtz’s brow is low and almost apelike, and his lips are full, with a
cruel pout. He reminds me of a Roman emperor, about to give the thumbs
down to a gladiator.

The radiating sense of his power and presence is overwhelming. It feels
more like kneeling before a tiger than a human being.

It is perhaps his voice that is the most charismatic thing about him
though. It tugs at something deep inside me, awakening something female
and sexual.

“It has certainly been challenging to keep myself and my men from raping
you,” that predator says. “You look exceptionally beautiful, when nude,
chained and submissive. But then that was the intention when you were
sent here – you were created to be a lure to men.”

I feel my face grow hot. I know how I look, and I’m sure he is correct.

“I am most grateful that Master has protected me from the hands of his
warriors,” I acknowledge humbly.

“However you have a unique capability to experience pleasure from the
perspective of both sexes. Therefore you must be a little curious to
find out how your female body might perform in response to a man’s
touch, and find your situation restricting? I presume you left the
Sardar a virgin?”

He can read me like a book. Yes, I feel relief to have been spared, but
I have to admit it is not total relief. I have the virgin’s fear of the
unknown when it comes to sexual matters, but that comes with the
virgin’s inquisitiveness.

“You cannot, for example, deny there is some eroticism in this situation
between us – will you kneeling beautiful and naked in your chains before
me? Do you claim you find not the least pleasure in your current
position? Does not one part of you wish me to touch you and awaken you?”

This one I really don’t want to answer, but my face colours and that
probably gives me away.

I try to deflect him with my own question.

“You seem to know everything about me, of my mission and my origins,
master,” I ask.

“Of course,” he replies, as if that is self-evident.

To prove his point, he reaches behind himself for something. There is a
heavy clunk as an object is placed on a low table next to me. It is a
dagger, unsheathed, the handle conveniently towards me.

“Should you still wish to kill me,” Kurtz says, “this will be convenient
for you to make your attempt, although I recommend your best chance is
when I am seated, otherwise the sirik you wear will make reaching a
lethal strike point on my body more difficult.”

Now he’s mocking me, daring me to try. Is that why I’ve been chained
this way? I consider the dagger. It looks a solid weapon, but it would
be difficult to fatally wound a man when I can’t raise my hands above my
belly.

“Perhaps, Master, you could spare both of us that unpleasant outcome by
explaining your conduct with respect to the Priest Kings,” I boldly say.

I sense I have entertained him with this reply.

Kurtz dips his hand into a bowl at his side, filled with slices of
spiced meat. He takes out a piece, and offers it to me, holding it
between his strong thumb and forefinger.

“Eat, my slave,” he orders.

I could probably reach out to the food, even with my hands in the heavy
bracelets, but this is not what is expected of me.

Shifting forward on my knees I lean towards him, and turning my head to
the side I gracefully take the piece of meat between my teeth.

There is a jingle of chains, and my breasts brush my upper arms.

My lips touch his fingers, gently as a kiss, and he releases the food.
His eyes move momentarily from watching my nipples to a study of my
face.

The contact between us, the first time we’ve touched in any way, is like
an electric shock, his fingers linking through me to the apex of my
legs.

I am being fed, as a master feeds a female slave. This is done by hand,
the way one feeds a pet, not with hands or cutlery the way a free human
being might eat.

It is demeaning to me, as much has been this evening, but a common
practice in pacifying slaves on Gor. His earlier comment comes back to
me, and I admit to myself that yes, there is a kinky thrill to being
reduced to this state.

Kurtz releases his hold on the food and I rock back demurely onto my
buttocks, hiding any inner turmoil.

The spiced meat is delicious. I realise I’m ravenous.

He speaks.

“When you arrived here, lashed to the front of the longship, you
probably observed the two severed heads that adorn my gates?”

I had indeed. I recalled the half-rotted giant bear heads.

“Yes, Master.”

“Those two Kurii were captured during my first mission here, when I
claimed this land.”

I have already learned from my conversation with Udumi that these are
probably Kurii, but his statement confirms the truth of it.

“I interrogated the creatures for many days. They were abused much at my
hands. We had many interesting conversations before I killed them.”

“One day, the more dominant of the beasts asked me a question. He asked
why so many human females are raped by human males. The kur do not have
this practice, you know. In fact the opposite is almost the case. Their
fertile females, the ones they call egg carriers, are known to fight
among themselves for access to the sperm of the strongest males.”

“The kur told me that of the higher species of mammals on Gor, Urth and
on their home world, only the human is known to commit rape. He wondered
why this is the case.”

Kurtz pauses.

“You must be unintelligent, or you would not have been selected for this
mission. Tell me what do you think the answer is, Aurore?”

I take a moment to think.

“It is easiest to answer for Gor. The culture of this barbaric world
encourages taking of women as captive prizes when men fight with each
other. In fact, the most beautiful captives become symbols of male
status.”

“Women are also reliant on the stronger males for protection, which
leaves them more vulnerable to men’s exploitation, while nurturing the
culture of male superiority.”

My mind races forward, and more ideas occur.

“Finally, Gor’s patriarchal culture represses female sex drive with the
supposed importance of retaining chastity and virginity. Women cannot
freely engage in sexual pleasure without being branded as sluts, and
loss of virtue lowers their perceived value. This means that free women
are understandably unwilling to engage in sex outside the bond of
companionship.”

“Sexual denial by free women means there are very few available free
women to engage in intimacy, and creates resentment among the men,
further driving men to forcibly take women in order to satisfy their
desires.”

I sit back. I think I have answered well.

He bangs the cup of paga down on a table so suddenly that I jump.

“No,” he says, vehemently, “I used to think exactly the same, but my
debate with the Kurii showed me that much of what you describe are the
symptoms of the problem, not the root cause.”

“Perhaps Master would tell me the correct answer?” I say, a little
disgruntled.

“The answer is that women are raped because of the technology,” he says
decisively. “If the technology of this world was allowed to advance,
female emancipation would result. A woman with a gun would be the equal
in combat to a man, and not reliant on male physical prowess for
protection.”

I look up, wondering where he’s going with this. He has a point I
suppose – give me a semi-automatic rifle, and Aurore’s days of slavery
would immediately be over. But that can’t be all there is to it.

“Now tell me why technology in this place is frozen in the era of bows
and arrows. I have seen your world. It could offer many improvements to
Gor. Building a railway through the swamp to Schendi would be a much
easier and safer way to travel than using the river.”

I begin to understand where he’s leading.

“The Priest Kings,” I have to admit. “It is because of the Priest Kings
that progress on Gor is stalled.”

“Correct,” he nods approvingly. “All those women suffer a life of misery
because of the Priest Kings – those same Gods who have sent you here.”

He presses his argument with another question.

“Do you know why the city of Ko-Ro-Ba was destroyed?”

My answer is sulky.

“It was on the orders of the Priest Kings.”

“Hardly a merciful act, do you think? An entire city razed to the ground
to set an example to the rest of Gor. And they’re supposed to be the
good guys.”

I feel obliged to defend those who sent me here.

“You think the Kurii are any better?” I counter. “I am female, they see
me as nothing more than a food source. You suggest siding with those who
would eat my flesh? And you’re a human male – only a dumb animal in
their eyes.”

He is shaking his head in disagreement.

“I do not advocate either side at this point, but I can at least
understand the simplicity in the Kurii actions,” Kurtz says. “I have had
much to think about, since the kur made me consider that I am, perhaps,
on the wrong side in this conflict. I am still reaching a decision in
this matter.”

I am a little incredulous.

“So that’s what all this is about? You’ve spent all these months sitting
in here deciding whether rape is a bad thing, and whether you’re on the
wrong side?”

Kurtz looks irritated with me.

“I have been involved in other activities, but that is all you are
permitted to know for now, slave.”

He emphasises the last word, “slave”.

When I am silent, Kurtz indicates the dagger.

“So that is your explanation, or at least the explanation I am disposed
to give. Now you’ve heard this do you wish to kill me, or perhaps you
would like to consider your own position?”

The weapon lies there on the table.

“Am I allowed to return to the Sardar to report this information?” I
ask.

“Of course not. You are my owned slave, and you are a very beautiful
one. It pleases me to watch you while you come to terms with your place
in the world. Goreans say that only a fool frees a slave, and I am
inclined to agree. I would prefer to continue debating this topic with
you here naked and in my chains than send you back for the Priest Kings’
opinion.”

I clench my fists at my sides in frustration, but only manage to make
the links between my shackled wrists go taut as I pull the waist-chain
into my smooth belly.

“Someone from the Sardar will presumably be watching the slave markets
for your onward sale?” he asks. “Well, they will have to wait. You will
remain here at my pleasure, Aurore.”

With that statement, he offers me a second piece of meat, like he’s
baiting me. I consider rejecting it out of pride, but that would only be
spiting myself.

I take the meat, with the same delicate use of my teeth, and the humble
touch of my lips to his hand.

He isn’t going to defeat me, though. I can play games as well.

“Master’s intelligence reports are very accurate,” I reply petulantly,
as it is pointless denying it. “Master Telisio must have travelled here
quickly from Port Schendi to reach you in time for you to intercept the
barge.”

Kurtz laughs mirthlessly.

“Spying is not an attractive trait in a kajira,” he says. “You could be
beaten for it. I am not unaware of your activities in my camp. You have
made quite an effort to learn your way around.”

I’m not giving in.

“Was it his idea to burn the slaves on the boat,” I ask before I’ve
thought about it, “or did my Master come up with that one?”

But this time I have gone too far.

“Kneel to the whip,” he orders me abruptly, voice suddenly angry, and I
flinch. We had been making progress, conversing almost as equals, and
now the relationship between Ubar and slave is back.

I look up, uncertainly, and see in his face that he means it. I have
provoked this Gorean wildcat, this larl, to retaliate.

“I said kneel to the whip,” he commands more sternly this time.

This time I obey, although not gracefully, with the sirik so restricting
my movements.

I have been taught many of the Gorean slave positions already, so I am
familiar with “kneeling to the whip”.

Remaining on my knees, I put my head onto the dirt floor, so my back
inclines in an uphill slope from my shoulders to my rump, which then
becomes the highest point of my body.

When kneeling to the whip the woman is expected to fold her hands
underneath her body, as if bound, but in my case it is not necessary to
mimic this position as my hands are truly shackled down at my belly.

My back is unprotected and in a position ready for punishment. I feel
very vulnerable.

Long dark red hair drapes over my face, obscuring my vision.

“Many here think I have been too lenient with you,” he says. “You have
seen many times that it is typical for women new to their slavery on Gor
are beaten and raped. When you look upon me, know that I myself have
delivered this treatment to many slaves. I would be considered a
criminal and a barbarian on your world.”

I do not speak.

But rather than feel any lash, there is a touch from his fingertips on
my back, stroking me as gently as one might handle a porcelain vase.
Delicately he explores my, tracing out ribs and the bumps along my
spine, from my shoulder blades to my coccyx.

The contact makes me shudder more than I would have done if he’d hit me,
but my reaction is from pleasure, not pain. I try to hide this response
from him.

“I am the only one aware that it is not your nature to respond as a
slave in the way the other women might,” Kurtz is saying. “But do not
forget that I am an Ubar of Gor, whereas you are a female slave. You
grow too bold, asking questions that are not your place.”

Fingers move over my rump, becoming intimate. Nerves in the skin of my
buttocks seems to be linked to my groin, and the warm glow starts to
build that signals my own arousal.

“I counsel you not to push me, or to challenge me again in public where
I am obliged to punish you the way an Ubar might. You are not my only
concern in this place.”

“Forgive me, Master,” I say humbly. To my annoyance I feel genuinely
contrite, and I curse my conditioning.

He doesn’t hit me in the end, but he shoves my shoulder, so I tip off
balance and sprawl undignified onto my side.

“You have displeased me. Go, Aurore,” he says, his voice tired. “I do
not wish to see you any more tonight. Have the guard lock you back into
the pens.”

My master is a Gorean, and I know when it is unwise to argue. I put my
forehead to his feet, then stand and shuffle out of his hut.

From a military perspective my first service to him would be viewed as a
success. I have learned many things, and I have not been killed. But as
I cross the compound back to my sleeping quarters it is disappointment I
feel.

For some reason, I did not want him to dismiss me so quickly. I try to
convince myself that it was because I enjoyed the intellectual challenge
of our mental sparring. Conversing with him was the most alive I’ve felt
since arrival in the compound.

Privately I admit I was also aroused, yes, I was aroused by his touch,
his voice and his presence, but that surely doesn’t mean I wish he’d
kept me there to have sex with him.

I shake my head. No, it wasn’t that.

“Hurry,” the guard says, and my bare backside is swatted with his sword,
making me jump.

I have not been naked in public since my humiliating arrival and the
morning of my collaring, so I feel self-conscious clad only in slave
steel, aware that the guard’s eyes are on me and he is enjoying watching
the way that I move.

It’s a good thing the guard can’t tell my body is aflame.

Again I try to convince myself that all I wanted to stay for was the
debate. Yes, that was it. I vow to think on his words, and be prepared
with better responses by our next encounter. I can show him.

The guard strikes me again.

He knows I cannot in fact proceed more quickly, the chains between my
ankles restricting me to small steps, so he must be doing this for
sport. Resigning myself, I receive several more swats before reaching
the safety of the pens.

Lying on my straw mat, I face another lonely night in the pens. Chiron,
he who has the keys to my chains, has also retreated for the night so
there is no-one available to release me until morning.

I feel sorry for myself. The Ubar’s personal choice I might be, but I am
still no better than a slave.

23 – The man who wasn’t there

The woman extends her arms straight above her head, wrists bent,
clicking her fingers in time to the barbaric tempo of the music.

With her eyes closed to concentrate on the sound, she keeps her head
still, but begins to rock her hips back and forth in a blatantly sexual
gyration. Her face grows strained, as if even that motion is not enough
to express the emotion she is feeling.

Overwhelmed she rips the dancing silk from her body, thrusting out her
bare breasts, extending further with each bar like a pendulum gathering
momentum.

I hold my breath, unable to tear my eyes from watching her.

She’s spellbinding, I’m in the presence of greatness. I couldn’t have
imagined a human could perform something so evocative, and without even
using her legs. But it’s true. All the while she has been on her knees.

This is the first time I have watched one of the wild dances of Gor. I
decide it remind me most closely of flamenco, having its roots in
barbaric folk dances, and being very reliant on marking out tempo and
rhythm with the use of the body.

Gorean music also has similarity to flamenco in the way it draws in the
audience, making it impossible not to tap feet or clap in time with the
rhythm. These accelerate through the duration of the performance, along
with the volume, reaching an eventual orgasmic climax.

I use the word orgasmic deliberately, because here is one of the notable
differences. Flamenco is also a dance of passion, but it is more subtly
sexual that the overt way a Gorean slave dance might be. In that respect
Gorean performances are closer to the pole-dances of Urth, or routines
performed on stage in a burlesque performance or a sleazy strip club.

Gorean dances are almost universally created to please and arouse men.
They are always danced by a woman, and they serve to display the girl’s
sexuality and desirability, making the men want to claim her for
themselves and prove themselves powerful enough to tame her.

I was once a man, so this performance I now watch certainly inflames my
desire and I lust for this dancer. But juxtaposed on my male psyche is
that of Aurore, a female.

I want her, but I also want to be her, and be so utterly desirable,
feeling eyes unable to look away from my body. I am aroused, but I am
aroused as a woman, being heated, rather than hardened. I am excited of
the power I might hold performing as she does, even as I fall under her
spell. I am excited, but afraid.

These fears and doubts will have to be put aside because I am a kajira,
one of the slave women of Gor. Whether I wish to be like Carrie or not
is irrelevant. My hidden craving to be like her will inevitably be
fulfilled, because Carrie is the slave chosen to teach us to dance.
Before our first lesson starts, we are treated with this demonstration,
and witnessing it is a privilege.

Carrie dances a need dance. This particular style of performance
progresses in a number of phases, beginning with the girl appearing
indifferent to men, and progressing through stages where the girl become
more and more aware of her own sexuality and the presence of the males
about her.

Finally at the climax of the dance she surrenders, abandoning herself to
the barbaric music and the needs of her own body, desperate for the
touch of any man present. She has been reduced to slavery by her own
desires.

Whether I agree that this performance bears any truth to female
psychology does not matter. The women in the pens will learn to dance in
this fashion anyway.

Carrie finishes her performance still on her knees, but slumping with
her head to the floor, so her torso rests on her thighs, showing great
flexibility.

She is breathing heavily, and I can see her ribcage heaving and a light
sheen of sweat breaking on her skin. Then she sits upright, smiling with
pleasure.

There is loud applause, in the Gorean manner. I jump to my feet, along
with many other girls, shouting out my approval and stamping my feet on
the floor.

A number of men have joined us in the room – this class being a popular
one for spectators, and their praise is even more enthusiastic than that
of the women.

I look down at Carrie in admiration. She looks older than many of us,
physically almost approaching middle age, so assuming she’s been dosed
with the physicians’ caste serums that extend life, this might mean she
is in fact many hundreds of years old. Her hair is still jet black
however, and she has olive skin like the Hispanic women on Urth, also
reinforcing my impression of her as a flamenco dancer.

One might expect that aging has reduced her beauty, but instead it has
given her a full bodied elegance. There kneels a true woman, rather than
one recently out of girlhood who still has much to learn about her sex.

Carrie is to teach us this and many of the Gorean dances, as a master
may demand to see any style – the belt dance; the whip dance; the
capture dance; the need dance; chain dances; and the dance of the seven
thongs being just a few examples.

As the remaining warriors gradually filter from the room she tells us
that we will specialise in only one, and develop it more completely to
be our showcase. Carrie informs us she will select these for us after
observing us over the first few days of training.

I smile ruefully at her words. She will have her work cut out getting me
to look good. Aurius danced like he had two left feet. I could keep in
rhythm, but little more than that.

Our lesson commences.

I am expecting her to begin training us by passing on some complex moves
typical of an Urth lap dancer – the grind; the breast stroke; arching my
back into a crab shape; but she orders the class to their knees.

“An expert dancer can delight men just using her hands and her arms to
perform,” Carrie says, raising her hands up high. “Position yourselves
like this.”

I am lifting my arms over my head, crossing my wrists in a cruder copy
of her first position, but she looks right at me, shaking her head.

“You are the one called Aurore?” she asks. Even her voice is sultry and
passionate.

“Yes Mistress,” I say, not sure why she’s singling me out.

“You are not to participate in this class,” she says. “You can only
watch. Your master orders that you are not to be trained in dancing
until you are red-silk.”

My face glows with embarrassment, probably as scarlet as if it was red
silk. Everyone has stopped to look at me, watching my reaction. Some of
the girls that consider themselves my rivals, or that are jealous of my
status here, show pleasure at Carrie’s judgement.

“Why has he done this?” I protest, so indignant I forget her title.
“White silk girls are still taught dancing in other cities on Gor.”

I am sure on this point. Free women are, of course, not taught dancing –
the wanton sexuality of a slave dance being entirely inappropriate for
such as they. But white silk slave women are often prepared ready to
please their owners, learning to replicate sexual acts before they have
experienced them.

“I’m sorry,” Carrie says sympathetically. “Those are the Ubar’s
instructions.”

No-one is going to dare disobey Kurtz.

I have to kneel there, seething with rage but keeping my body still, as
I watch the others practice. I’m even made to kneel with my knees
together, whereas the other women move with their thighs wide in the
aspect of pleasure slaves.

My hands stray to the collar locked round my neck and I fidget with it,
rotating it and fingering the metal. This seems to have become a habit
when my hands are idle and it annoys me further when I catch myself in
the act. Hateful thing. I don’t like being reminded that I am a slave.

It takes half an ahn before my anger is overcome by interest in the
class, but eventually I’m completely distracted by watching and even the
humiliation of being a spectator is temporarily forgotten.

I would never have believed a woman could communicate so much just by
using her upper limbs. Attention is paid to every detail, for example
the angle to bend the wrists; whether the fingers are together or
spread; arms lifted or lowered; elbows bent or not.

Much of lap dancing back on Urth is about the tease and the titillation.
The girl touches and moves her body erotically, so the man imagines the
delights that would be his if he possessed her.

She is telling a story through her movement, and the mental aspects of
the performance are therefore as important as the physical moves.

Slave girls must therefore be confident in expressing sexuality in front
of male and female watchers, so in the second part of the lesson, all of
the slaves except me are ordered to remove their clothing ready to
display that sexuality.

Then, kneeling naked before Carrie, they are instructed to spend half an
ahn intimately touching their own bodies.

I feel particularly miserable at being denied participation this part of
the exercise. Aurore’s frustration has been building steadily since my
collaring, and a temporary repeal of the prohibition on masturbation
would have been a very welcome relief.

Being ordered to watch a room full of nude beauties caressing
themselves, but unable to enjoy any pleasure myself is an experience
close to torture for me.

When our class is dismissed, I stomp across the jetties of the compound
and consider marching straight into my master’s hut to demand an
explanation.

A guard stands outside his hut though, which is unusual.

I want to walk past this fellow, but I know better than to try. The Ubar
warned me not to act above my place in public, and I can see the wisdom
in this.

While there is unrest in the compound, it would be dangerous for both of
us if I make him appear weak.

I control my emotions, accept that venting my frustrations will have to
wait for another time. I spin round and stare into the muddy waters of
the harbour, clenching and unclenching my small fists.

It comes as a relief when I am instructed to go with Jaya into the
marshes and gather bunches of the burning reed to fill the braziers. The
two of us walk through the gap in the wall, waving at the warrior on
watch who smiles at us appreciatively, pleased with the distraction.

The reeds that produce the best effect in deterring the insects are to
be found in the water of the swamp, so we make our way a short distance
from the dry land, where the vegetation is particularly dense.

The marsh is only six-inches deep, but below that the lakebed is soft
and thick with eons of decayed vegetation, so we quickly sink up to our
knees in the dark clinging mud.

This is a menial and messy task where getting filthy is inevitable, and
therefore one best allocated to slave girls.

With my short hooked knife I get to work, cutting the stems. Neither of
us says anything.

Jaya is one of those demurely quiet women, whom you first think is very
shy, and then wonder if they have nothing to say because they’re very
dull.

Behind Jaya’s back, some of the other kajirae say she needs to find a
man while she still has her undeniable beauty.

I make an effort to break through this demure wall while we work
together, but eventually I give up attempts at conversation and we
gather bundles of plants in silence, standing close together. It is this
silence that saves us.

Jaya suddenly places her hand over my mouth, raising her finger to her
own lips to indicate the need for quiet.

I nod to show my understanding, and she withdraws her hand.

Noiselessly I mouth “What?”

She indicates an area in the swamp across to our right. Although it away
from the land occupied by Kurtz, and is deeper into the marshes, there
the ground rises enough to break the surface of the water, forming a
small dry island surrounded by chest high grasses.

I see the movement of the tarn first within this grass, the flicker of a
vast wing. It is a giant brown bird, a true war tarn rather than the
smaller varieties used for tarn races in the cities.

Then, walking by his mount I see the tarnsman.

He is a lean specimen, middle aged with a face disfigured by a scar that
looks like a relic of a sword wound. The man is pale skinned – a
northern colour, rather than the beautiful ebony tint of the jungle
warriors. His tarn also suggests distant origins, as the local jungle
tarns tend to be as brightly coloured as birds of paradise.

Wary in unknown territory, he has his sword drawn.

We crouch as low in the reeds as we can.

There is no need for either of us to convey that the danger to us is
very real.

Over my time in the protected captivity of the compound I have not much
considered the many other threats Gor continues to pose to women. But
exposed in these marshes, I am reminded how Jaya and I would make a
pretty prize for this fellow to carry off.

If the tarnsman comes this way trying to reach the higher ground of the
compound, he’ll walk right across our hiding place. Two slaves armed
with reed-cutting knives will not present much challenge to an armed
warrior.

We can’t even attempt to flee, as moving through the thick mud is too
precarious. It would be easy to overbalance and draw attention to
ourselves.

Our best strategy is to freeze, and hope to remain unseen. Females are
prey, not the hunters.

I did not see his tarn land, and for this I silently berate myself. It
must have passed very close by us, unless he has been here since
daybreak. I am losing my warrior’s instincts.

We spend a nervous few ehn, but luckily for us the tarnsman makes
directly for the large area of higher ground, presumably intending to
inspect the compound. His bird waits obediently hidden in the circle of
vegetation.

Where he makes landfall the reeds change to meadow grass that is almost
chest high.

Jaya and I squat in silent anguish. Granted the man has not seen us, but
he will soon be between us and the fortifications, cutting-off our route
to safety.

However, fate turns out to be on our side. Others have been more
watchful than we.

There is the sound of movement approaching, and I glimpse our head
slaver, Chiron moving rapidly through the grass.

His twin blades are already drawn. Chiron is an intimidating sight, but
rather than attempt to flee the tarnsman waits for his arrival.

They face each other in a cowboy standoff. Blood will be spilt today.

“What is your business here, stranger?” Chiron asks him, using the
Gorean word “stranger”, which can also mean “enemy”.

“My business here is my own,” the man shrugs in a gravelled voice.

“We do not welcome visitors here,” Chiron states.

The man seems unconcerned by this news.

“It is your people and not me, who are the invaders on this land.”

The tarnsman looks as if he’s about to elaborate on this claim, but
those are to be his last words. From out of the high grass right behind
the tarnsman rises my master, standing bare chested and godlike.

In his hand he holds a long knife with a serrated blade.

Kurtz wraps the man’s head in the crook of his giant arm, taking him by
surprise, and with the knife he slits the warrior’s throat in one quick
slice. Blood pours like a river down the front of the man, who, when
Kurtz releases his hold, is already falling dead to the ground.

The tarnsman’s loyal bird screams at this outrage and it rears up at the
Ubar, flapping its huge wings and giant claws extended ready to deliver
a killing strike.

The attack would be successful were it not for Chiron, who comes from
nowhere to stand between Kurtz and the bird. He holds his swords crossed
above him, as if he’s warding off a vampire.

The tarn screams its fury once again at the two men, but then it
abandons its late master and the beats of its wings carry it up and
away.

All present watch it flying to the north east away over the lake, before
the two men turn to examine the body.

I’ve never seen my master outside his hut before, let alone this far
away from the fortifications. He is unnaturally pale in daylight, almost
albino white, but his eyes still look dark and merciless.

“This was not simply a young warrior proving himself by snatching a
girl,” Kurtz observes, nudging the corpse with his foot. “This is an
older man, experienced. He came here with deeper purpose.”

“Reconnaissance for our friends across the lake, do you think?” Chiron
asks crouching to search the body.

“It is unlikely,” Kurtz says. “The warriors of the Black Slaver are
themselves black skinned. No… he comes from afar, and so represents a
far greater threat.”

When Kurtz concludes his search Chiron says, “We will never know. The
man has nothing to identify himself.”

“They will send others,” Kurtz says with certainty, standing to look to
the horizon. “Tell no-one of these events. If these further men arrive
in peace you are to welcome them, showing disloyalty to me in order to
determine their purpose.”

“That is unwise,” Chiron disagrees. “Already your absence causes much
unrest. Even loyal men whisper that it is time for a new Ubar when all
your attention is on that girl.”

My heart skips when Chiron refers to me.

“Perhaps if you gave her to me, and selected another?”

Kurtz laughs cynically, as deep a sound as a bull snorting.

“Your intentions are too obvious. Aurore is part of a greater plan, and
one that requires much effort. For now she must be treated differently
to the others. In time my reasons might become clear.”

Chiron looks disbelieving, but does not say any more.

As the two men move away I consider that such is the trust between
Gorean warriors that Kurtz didn’t even need to comment on Chiron saving
his life.

24 – A slave is permitted to choose

The concerns of female slaves are unimportant compared to the business
of men, so seven days then pass where I have to endure the daily
humiliation of sitting out the dancing class, before I am next summoned
to next kneel before my master.

He is unkempt this time, or as unkempt as a hairless man can appear. He
looks morose when I first enter, but his spirits seem to lift as I very
grumpily clash his cup on a tray, preparing to serve him paga.

My temper has not been good for the past week. I am not pleased about
the denial of dance training, and I am not pleased at unknowingly being
part of this “greater plan”.

He sits forward in his chair, amused with my actions.

“Perhaps if serving your master does not suit your mood, you would like
to be whipped instead?” he asks.

Momentarily I freeze. I think he is jesting with me, but with a Gorean
man one can never be sure. I reflect, and decide that I do not wish him
to have me lashed.

So I serve paga then with slavish humility, kissing the rim of the cup
before offering it to him on my knees, extended my arms out to him in
the perfect position, and keeping my head down.

Kurtz has permitted me clothing for my second visit, and I am
unshackled. By his request I have been given the simple camisk of a
domestic slave though, and not the silks that the other women usually
wear when summoned to please their masters.

This is strange, but no one in the pens dared question it as I was
handed my garment ready for my evening.

“Look upon me,” Kurtz commands, and I do so, gazing up at him from under
my heavy feminine eyelashes.

From my humble kneeling position his giant figure looms over me, pale
and almost ghostlike.

His eyes are almost jet black, like a shark’s, and they stare so
intently at me that I have to break the gaze and look down first. I fix
instead on his cruel mouth. Between us persists that animal magnetism
I’ve felt since my arrival in this place.

Kurtz picks up a meat pastry and breaks it in half, placing the first
section into that sensuous mouth in one go.

I’ve not been fed all day and my mouth waters.

“You want some?” he asks me, presumably spotting my longing glance.

“Yes Master,” I tell him.

He smiles tauntingly.

“You may have some only if you disrobe.”

My insides give a lurch.

Why is he doing this? Yes, he wants to see me nude, as men will always
want to view naked women, but if so why not just order me to undress?
Why make me undergo this humiliating barter?

If it is a challenge to my will, dressing me just to see me remove the
camisk, then it is one I will win. He has seen me unclothed enough times
that one more will not matter. So I shrug with deliberate nonchalance
and unfasten the knot securing my belt, and slip the poncho camisk over
my head.

Folding the garment nearly beside me I shake my hair so it falls tidily
into place down my back. Two can play at this game so I cup the
undersides of my breasts, checking they’re level in a deliberate act of
provocation.

Nude, I look casually up at him.

“Is this satisfactory, Master?”

Kurtz smiles again and holds out the other half of the pastry to me.

“Quite satisfactory,” he says.

The food is far enough away that I have to lean forward onto all-fours.
Freed from their support in the camisk I feel the weight of Aurore’s
full breasts swinging underneath me.

Thus, using my teeth once again in the submissive manner expected of me,
I take the pastry from him, kissing my lips briefly to his fingers.
There has been much coaching from Udumi in correct execution of
receiving food as a slave, and I know I look graceful and beautiful as I
extend my neck.

Sitting back on my heels, I lift my hands to my face to delicately chew
the rest of the food.

“Do you think my decision to bar you from participation in the dancing
is motivated by cruelty?” he asks me with abrupt directness.

I have had a week to consider this.

“No, Master,” I admit, shaking my head. “Master never seems to act
without it being part of a greater plan, although in this case I cannot
divine his exact purpose.”

I use the words “greater plan” deliberately, referring to the mysterious
purpose he has for me.

“We teach women to be slaves in this place,” he says, like he’s
beginning a sermon. “For you, the process is different to the others, as
you need to learn something of being a woman, as well as how to please
as a slave.”

“And that’s what this is about?” I say critically with a full mouth,
indicating my naked body. “This, and denying me the dancing? Why does
that help?”

He does not answer. Rather, his hand is abruptly under my chin, turning
my head from side to side so he can examine my face. His skin is rough
and calloused with a lifetime holding weapons, but he feels warm and the
tender contact is not unpleasant.

I keep my eyes down.

“You really are exceptionally beautiful, my Aurore,” he says.

As with his earlier order to undress, this abrupt jump in direction also
hits me without warning. And also as before, when he describes me as
“his” Aurore I get such an intense flush that it’s like my belly has
turned to liquid.

Inwardly I curse and reject any thoughts of pleasure. I’m busy being
angry with him. I refuse to get turned-on.

Swallowing my food I try to concentrate on the pastry, which happens to
be delicious.

“I have not taken a woman for many months, you know,” he says, “not
since my discussions with the Kurii.”

His eyes following my curves are loaded with intent. He is a man and I
am a woman, and the intense tension in the room is the same that has
existed between the sexes back into pre-history.

“I was raised to believe I wasn’t doing anything wrong when I used to
take females,” he says as if he’s missing those days. “The girls I have
previously been with, at first I had to force myself on them, but they
soon took pleasure from our encounters, and eventually they longed for
them, begging for the opportunity to please me.”

“But after the Kurii, I lay with no-one, although I did not prevent my
warriors enjoying the pleasures of women. There would certainly be a
mutiny if I denied them all access to the slaves, and my dilemmas should
not theirs.”

“Then the day came when you knelt on my dock, beautiful, naked and
completely helpless, yet so courageous and undefeated. And I wanted you
to take you more than any woman I had ever seen before.”

My heart rate seems to double.

“Yes, keeping to my vow has not been without difficulty.”

My stomach is rolling, and I feel light headed now. The worst thing is
that a small part of me really wants his resolve to break. I’ve seen
enough of how women can enjoy sex that I’d like to experience it for
myself. Who in this place would be a better option than Kurtz? Between
my legs is already warm and liquid in anticipation.

“Perhaps Master should return me to the Sardar if his lust is
uncontrollable?” I say, not quite managing to keep my voice from
quavering.

He sits back in his chair then, tension dispersing as he laughs out
loud.

“No, my Aurore, you do not escape your duty to the women of Gor so
easily. And, I am strong in many ways, but I am too weak willed to part
with you. Rather – I intend to offer you a choice – one that will teach
you something of being a woman, permit you to be of service to
womankind, while answering the more important matter of whether I should
return to service of the Priest Kings.”

This sounds ominous.

“You eventually accepted that part of the responsibility for the
subjugation of women on Gor is with the Priest Kings, were you not?”

There is a pause.

“Yes, Master,” I say cautiously.

“Then the first option I offer you is to reject those same Priest Kings
and remain safely here with me, continuing your white silk existence as
you are now. I will accept your view that the rape of female slaves is
wrong. I will also see you are protected for your life here, and I will
not permit you to be sold.”

“But I might never return to the Sardar?” I say, picturing endless years
of scrubbing tunics in the lake. “Why can’t you simply let me leave as a
free woman?”

Kurtz smiles, amused.

“How could you return to the Sardar when their rule perpetuates the rape
of women?” he says smugly, and my irritation starts to rise as I see
he’s manoeuvring to trap me. “That would be a betrayal of your many
sisters here on Gor. Besides, although I am Ubar here, my men would make
use of you as soon as you were out of my sight.”

“You would also be under threat from the rest of Gorean manhood as soon
as you left my sight in your robes of concealment. Aurore, you must see
that the risk to your virtue would be too high while you were
transferred.”

I look at him, eyes narrowing suspiciously.

“And my other option?”

“If you want to return to The Sardar, logically you can only do that by
willingly submitting to me sexually, and therefore making yourself
complicit in proving that the morality of the Priest Kings is correct,”
he says, as catlike as if he’s sprung a trap. “If you too discover
pleasure in surrender to lovemaking, you vindicate that woman can indeed
be happy in slavery, and I should return to the service of The Nest. Gor
returns to normal, and we avoid the doom to this culture you represent.
At a time of my choosing I will escort you to Port Schendi myself, where
you will eventually be delivered to an agent of the Sardar for return to
Urth.”

He’s smiling like he’s delivered an argument of genius. Something
explodes within me, his suggestions makes me so angry. My vision turns
white for a moment.

“And this is supposed to teach me about being a woman?” I demand. “By
only offering me the choice to become your whore in exchange for my
future, instead of being kept in the pens to avoid being raped? That is
no choice. It’s just a different kind of force you’re using. I’ll have
to sell myself in the furs to you, in order to get home.”

But my master is pressing on, keeping his cool.

“You might act outraged because you think these choices are different
for a free woman, or even a woman on your home world, Aurore.” he
insists. “But you are wrong. Throughout history the female options have
only been the ice queen or the whore. You face the same dilemmas as
woman through time. Gor simply shows this dilemma at its two
philosophical extremes.”

I am ready with a reply.

“In that case if I sleep with you, it still does nothing to vindicate
slavery on Gor. Rather, it proves the treatment of women across the
universe is wrong.”

Kurtz shakes his head.

“Consent is the concern we must address with both rape, and slavery. A
woman on Urth does not live a life so very different to a pleasure slave
on Gor. Both have to use their sex to their best advantage in life. You
have just removed your clothing in exchange for food, as might a
stripper on your home world. All that is different on Gor is the removal
of her first consent, and even that is similar to what faces many
females in your Urth’s arranged marriages. All I’m trying to do is help
you see that whether there is choice or not, the sex slave will be
happy, while the nun’s life is empty.”

Seizing my camisk from the floor, I jump to my feet.

“I’ve heard enough of this ludicrous argument,” I fume in Aurore’s high
voice. “I’m not proving that rape is acceptable just to get home. I’d
prefer to grow old in the kitchens. Beat me if you want, but I’m
leaving. Screw you.”

I’m not sure if he was expecting me to fall into his arms, but at last
my replies finally get a reaction. Kurtz’ expression grows thunderous.
He quickly stands as well, making me realise how large he is compared to
me. The top of my head doesn’t even reach to his chin.

I am seized without warning, one of his hands knotting in my hair and
the other gripping tightly round my back, forearm running diagonally
from my rump to my shoulder blade. In this fashion I am pushed backwards
so I look up into his huge face.

My bodyweight is supported by his arm. If he released me like this I’d
fall back. But I’m sure he’s not going to. He holds me with the
fierceness of an assailant, but also as if I’m as delicate as porcelain.

“Look, I could take you easily if I wanted,” his voice filled with
emotion. “I even know it would make you happy, but you don’t know what’s
good for you, Aurore.”

I’m about to come back with that being the most used patronising line in
history – the man knows better than the woman what she wants.

But I’m utterly silenced by the kiss.

He presses his lips to mine hard, forcefully and passionately. It’s a
kiss of possession, of desperation. Something in me ignites in response
and my legs turn to water, but I’m also pressed into him so firmly I
think he’s bruising my mouth.

I’m trying to push him away – both hands on his chest. It’s futile –
he’s far stronger than I am, but my resistance is unnecessary.

“No,” he gasps, releasing the pressure my mouth, and he casts me aside
as if I’m the dangerous one and not him. “This is not what must be.”

Then Kurtz sinks down to the floor, cursing and putting his head in his
hands.

Cautiously I crouch down to pick up my camisk, which has been dropped in
the struggle.

“Go,” he says in a voice still filled with emotion. “I am not strong
enough to control my lust for you. Do not come back unless you do so
ready to serve me fully.”

He doesn’t need to ask a second time. Turning my back I race from his
hut, not even bothering to dress before I leave.

25 – There are exceptions to many rules, but not all.

Six nights later, the combined population of Kurtz’ compound gather in
the largest of the buildings.

The slaves are told that we have guests, and there is going to be a
feast in their honour.

Amongst us women there is great excitement. Those who never experienced
slavery might expect that for kajirae one evening is as miserable as any
other, but Goreans know that it improves the demeanour and conduct of
captives if they are occasionally rewarded with participation in
pleasurable activities.

We will thus be permitted to enjoy the events, when we are not
performing our many duties. For both slaves and warriors, any break from
the normal routine is welcome.

My spirits lift for the first time since I fled from my master’s hut.

We will see entertainments and musicians; and there is to be opportunity
for those of us that please to be gifted improved food and drink, fed
from the hands of our masters.

Allocated tasks at the command of Udumi, girls rush around in the pens,
prettifying themselves as much as they can.

Some girls wrap themselves in the silks of pleasure slaves and are
permitted access to makeup, in preparation for serving the sexual needs
of the men.

The less attractive and the lower ranking slaves are given simple work
camisks, and their duty is to serve food and drink, satisfying the more
mundane appetites.

I am numbered among the latter group, not on grounds of beauty but
because my unique status means I am not to be used for pleasure.

This should be a relief to me, but for some reason it is not. Perhaps it
is because I see the pleasure girls are evidently looking forward to the
evening with more relish than the serving girls.

Sluts. I am annoyed with them, as everything here has irritated me since
I parted from my master. Over and over I have replayed the scene in his
hut – the deal offered to me; our argument; and the kiss.

Oh, that kiss – why I am cursed with the company of a man that bugs me
more than anyone, but gives a kiss such as that?

No, I keep telling myself. The kiss doesn’t matter – it is the argument
that is important. And there I know I’m in the right.

By sleeping with him all I’d prove is that both of us are aching to get
laid. But his ultimatum turned it into something more. Things were going
well, I was about ready to put out, and he’s gone and screwed that all
up with some Kurtz-like mind game.

If I go to him now, he’ll interpret that to mean that all this secret-
inner-slave crap is real, and all women really need is a man to give
them a good seeing-to.

What a ridiculous situation, in a hateful world.

There is only one who is immune to my general ill feeling towards the
Gorean planet.

Nessa passes me with a jingle of the slave bells that are buckled to her
wrists and ankles. Her face is flushed with excitement.

“I am chosen to dance,” she informs me, “I can show my talents to my
master.”

So please is she that she risks breaking the prohibition of physical
contact, and gives a chaste kiss to my cheek.

Her beauty has bloomed in the collar, and she looks breath-taking clad
only in pleasure silk, a garment of a red shade as dark as my hair.

Desire groans in me. I have been a woman amongst women for some time, so
a female naked or provocatively dressed is a common sight for me, and
yet her beauty can still have this effect.

Nessa is one of the many reasons I haven’t just run away and tried to
cross the treacherous marsh – an option that I’ve seriously considered
since my master’s proposition. I tell myself I can’t leave Nessa here as
slave, when we both fell captive in that brutal raid.

But mostly, it comes down to Kurtz. He is a beast.

He’s got me, and he knows it. He knows that I know it. I’m powerless to
help myself – my only way out of here is through yielding even more
profoundly, but I’ll have to do it anyway.

When I agreed to my mission to find him, I’d never expected to be placed
in this dilemma where my only route to personal salvation is to betray
every other woman left behind, “proving” that we are meant for slavery.

May the Priest Kings curse him!

What he feels for me is nothing but physical lust, I am sure, but I am
wrong-footed anyway by have never been the subject of such desperate and
intense desire before. My inexperience at handling his attention makes
me feel like a nervous teenager again, even though the emotion is
entirely inappropriate.

“Talunas!” interrupts Vani, one of the more experienced slaves in the
pens, rushing excitedly into the hut where we are dressing ourselves.
“Master Petrucus told me there are Talunas in the compound!”

Nessa flashes her a look of irritation. Petrucus is her master, what is
he doing telling this to Vani?

For the rest of us, it is news. I have never seen a Taluna before. They
are the panther girls, Amazon-like women of the forest, escaping from
unwanted companionships or slavery to live in small tribal groups in
forests and jungles.

Unlike most Gorean women, panthers are skilled with weaponry, although
this ability is self-taught so they are no match for males in combat.

Aware of their inferiority they rely on guerrilla tactics, striking and
retreating to hostile terrain where they can evade their enemies.

Taluna is a name for women of the jungle tribes, and the girls that
escape to the northern forests are normally known as panthers. The name
“panther” comes from the way they dress themselves, in the skins of wild
predators.

It is a hard life, wherever these women live. Outcast from society they
live in poverty, subsisting under constant threat of capture by men, who
find the hunting of such women a pleasurable sport.

“Your master is in the hall as well,” Vani says, turning to me now and
giving a conspiratorial nudge with her elbow. “The panther women bring
him out from his rooms, when you cannot.”

“Paga slut,” I retort calmly, to her, hiding the rush of emotion.

Should I consider this development a threat or be unconcerned? Kurtz has
only shown interest in me up to now, but the qualities he likes in me –
beauty and spirit – might well be found in a Taluna. What would I do if
there was competition?

It is with increased urgency that I hurry to the kitchen and then to the
large hall, carrying a heavy tray of tarsk meat.

The circular chamber is busy, and is noisy with conversation. A large
fire burns in its centre, the smoke rising to a hole cut in the ceiling
to facilitate its escape. The fire is very bright, making the edges of
the room behind the people deep in shadow, and difficult to discern.

Music plays, the wild rhythmic melodies of Gor, amateur players amongst
our population being led by one of the musicians’ caste who sits humbly
at the side of the room.

There my master sits, in his place on the carved hardwood Ubar’s throne.

My heart jumps into my mouth. I study him – the man who wants my
virginity. Then he right looks at me.

I drop my gaze, but it’s too late. I’ve been caught staring.

Being so easily busted makes things worse for me. We both know what’s in
the air between us. As he seems able to read my mind I expect he guesses
how much I’ve thought about his ultimatum.

Do I want to sleep with him or not? Since I was given my mission, to be
transformed into Aurore, I have constantly feared rape. Seeing the face
of a stranger leer over me in victorious conquest is an image that
haunts me.

But being taken by someone like my Master – feeling his hands on me;
hearing that deep voice that tugs deep in my sex – yes – that might not
be so bad.

Arran, or Aurius of London, as he was known to Goreans, was entirely a
heterosexual male. But the prospect of being penetrated by another male
is no longer abhorrent to me. Perhaps it is the influence of my female
body, and perhaps it is the many months of mental conditioning. Whatever
the reason – that’s how it is.

Even if I had to take the role of the slave, the submissive party, it
doesn’t matter much to me. All that holds me back, is him thinking he
has won this debate.

I steal another glance at him, and he is looking right at me. Why are we
drawn to each other in this way? Most in the room are studying the
Taluna.

I too examine the women, feigning disinterest in him.

They are barefoot and clad in brief animal skins, barely less revealing
than the pleasure silks of the slaves. Panthers do not wear the robes of
concealment, either because of practicality, or because by revealing
themselves they deny their status as women.

All of them stand, rather than sit. Each is armed, from a combination of
spears, daggers or short bows and quivers of arrows.

It should be noted that panthers do not use swords, the Gorean weapons
being made of a grade of steel that is too heavy for a woman to wield
effectively.

The leader of their band is obvious, a blonde woman who stands taller
and stronger than all the others. Her followers stand behind her, some
of them looking nervously about the room, others looking with distain.

The targets of this displeasure are obvious. In the flickering firelight
I can see some of the pleasure girls already in the arms of the men, but
before our guests can get too offended Kurtz bangs his cup loudly on the
throne, bringing the room to a sudden silence.

“You have requested a parley with us,” the Ubar says to the leader of
the Taluna band, “even though it is not our custom to permit women who
are not slaves to enter the compound.”

The blonde nods.

“I am Ailsa,” she says. “I am the leader of this tribe of Taluna. We are
the Jerags Sa’ng Vana’shii – The Sisters without Masters, and we live in
the jungle upriver of the lake.”

Ailsa, she is called, like a lioness, and like a lioness she is.

She stands proud and beautiful, a magnificent creature. Anyone who
believes women are meant to be slaves only need look at her to
understand this is not true.

She has the superbly toned body of an athlete, but she is not muscular
in such a way as to make her un-feminine. Ailsa’s legs are long and
lithe, and her breasts strain against the brief skins of her top.

Her butter-blonde hair is straight and extends down to her rump. This
woman’s beauty rivals that which the Priest Kings gifted Aurore.

I wish for a moment that I could again be a man. Then I would tame her
and make her my own.

“Like you,” Ailsa continues, “we make our living from the trade on the
river. And like you, we are threatened by the strongest in the region,
the Ubar known as Bila Haruma.”

“We are here to suggest an alliance to our mutual benefit.”

Kurtz considers her silently, his brow furrowed.

Finally free to study him while he’s looking at someone else, I try to
read his emotions, but his face is inscrutable.

The name of Bila Haruma is not unknown to me. He is the leader of the
Black Slavers – they who dominated much of this territory before the
arrival of my master.

He is reputed to be a great leader – a true Ubar. I am surprised that he
has not already clashed with the men under the command of Kurtz. But
apart from the tarn incursion, things on Lake Shaba have been peaceful
since my arrival.

“Sample the hospitality of our compound,” my master eventually says.
“And later we might discuss the terms by which you might join us.”

Kurtz waves his arm as if he’s tired, and the music begins again.

Ailsa takes her place at a wide stool at his side, sitting cross-legged
in the manner of a man, rather than kneeling as wood a female. She lays
her spear down at her feet, but retains a dagger attached at her waist
to show she doesn’t entirely trust her hosts.

I decide that Kurtz’ prohibition on my serving him is surely intended to
refer to service alone in his hut. Ignoring him might also earn me
punishment. So I move in to offer him meat, craving being closer to his
aura, and I am already part way into my kneeling position at his feet
when he loudly says “No, another girl.”

It is one of those moments where conversation seems to come to a stop in
time to witness the embarrassment. Everyone has noted what is happening.

The blush begins to flower as I stand and move away.

I have been publicly rejected by my master. I know the reason why – he
forbad me to serve him until I was ready to do so more completely as
slave, but the rest of the camp is not aware of the situation between
us.

My eyes start to blur. Oh no, I don’t want to cry. Priest Kings, it can
be annoying having female emotions.

I want to run from here, hiding in the pens for the rest of evening, but
I am not to be permitted the chance of escaping his presence.

“Kajira, here,” says Ailsa to me, clicking her fingers.

I kneel before the proud Taluna, keeping my head down. The girl’s cross-
legged position means that from my angle I can see straight up her short
skirt of animal skins to her most intimate parts, but Ailsa is unashamed
of flaunting herself before another woman.

“Tarsk meat, Mistress,” I say humbly, holding the plate out before me.

I try to distract myself from my recent shaming by stealing glances at
her exposed sex, but my libido seems to have dropped to zero.

The whole camp will think I’m too poor a slave to serve him. Colleen has
already rushed up to take the place that should rightfully be mine,
Colleen who all the other girls say has fat short legs.

“The girl has feelings for you, Ubar,” Ailsa observes, taking some
strips of meat delicately in her slim fingers. “Your rejection wounds
her.”

I can see the Ubar’s feet in the corner of my view. I do not look his
way.

“Aurore has a longer journey than many to learn that she is truly woman,
and she is slave,” he says. “Some of the lessons are hard, but
necessary.”

“Not every woman is a natural slave,” Ailsa counters, “although only a
true kajira would cry because she cannot debase herself before men.”

“Perhaps,” Kurtz replies, his tone noncommittal.

“You, the dark-haired slave, come here,” Kurtz says to Nessa, who is
flitting past us, the silks of a pleasure slave flowing about her
hurrying as she carries a jug of spiced wine. She runs with the short
steps of a trained slave, moving as if her ankles were linked with a
chain.

Nessa obeys the command instantly, serving the Ubar and then the Taluna,
and then kneeling before the two of them with her head down as she waits
to be dismissed.

The release does not come.

“Take off your tunic, slave” Ailsa orders her.

Again Nessa complies instantly although she flinches like she’s been
struck as she reaches up to her left shoulder for the fastening loop.
Pulling the garment away, she is naked.

“This one is dressed as a pleasure girl, but she does not have the
body,” the panther says critically. “Her breasts are too small to please
a man.”

Nessa is breathing heavily, either from fear or because she has been
running, and her chest rises and falls pleasingly. In my opinion her
proportions are entirely satisfactory.

“I thought the Taluna were supposed to hate men,” Kurtz observes.
“Surely you would therefore prefer that the least suitable of women be
sent to please them?”

I smile as Ailsa is temporarily silenced by my master’s logic.

“You may go,” he immediately commands Nessa.

Nessa looks hurt as she retreats. Perhaps she interpreted the Ubar’s
reply as agreement in the verdict on her beauty. I who know him better,
interpreted the rapid dismissal as a tactic to get her out of the
panther’s range.

I do not like Ailsa, although hypocritically I am unable to avoid
finding her intensely attractive.

The haughty power she shows is a beguiling display of spirit, and I can
understand a little of those men of Urth who fantasise about submission
to strong women.

Her bare legs are so close to me that I’d only have to lean forwards to
kiss the skin of her thigh.

Denied the chance to taunt Nessa, Ailsa directs her cruelty back to me.

“You are dismissed for now, Ubar’s slave,” Ailsa says contemptuously to
me, “but only so you can finish your duties return to me later. It
amuses me to keep you close to him whom you cannot please.”

“Yes, Mistress,” I say humbly, and keeping my head down I rise smoothly
to my feet.

The next ahn of the evening is not pleasant for me.

All know of my rejection, and interpret it to mean that the Ubar is no
longer interested in his personal slave.

“Aurore is too gangly,” I overhear one of the other women saying acidly
during one of my visits to the kitchen. “Her master does not want her.”

Chiron also reads my rejection as a sign of Kurtz waning interest. When
I reach him to offer my tray of vulo eggs, he uses the opportunity to
reach inside my tunic and caress the rounded curves of my bare buttocks.

“He tires of you,” Chiron tells me, agreeing with the assessment of the
kitchen girls. “Soon you will be my personal slave, and on that day you
will no longer be white silk.”

The evening progresses.

Nessa overcomes the dismissive assessment of her figure to perform an
exquisite belt dance, a routine based on the idea that the woman’s head
must not rise above the height of a man’s belt.

I am proud for her.

She is so sensuous; so graceful; so challenging. It’s hard to believe
that there in the sand is the woman I knew so recently in robes of
concealment. What man would not want her for a pleasure slave?

When she finishes, her head to a man’s sandal, I realise I’ve been
holding my breath.

I join the applause, which is deafening. Not everyone in the room is
impressed. When Nessa kneels with her head to the floor to receive the
Ubar’s approval I know she is close enough to hear Ailsa’s contemptuous
comment.

“Slave.”

The night seems to last forever, but only another ahn passes before
Kurtz bangs his cup on the throne, ordering the room back to silence.

The Taluna gets elegantly to her feet, standing proud and strong,
holding her spear in one hand.

“Do you have a verdict on the alliance with our group?” Ailsa asks.

“I do,” my master says.

“And what is it?”

“No.” states Kurtz.

Ailsa first looks astonished, but then her face clouds with anger as she
realises that’s all he intends to say.

“Am I to be given a reason for this uncivil rejection?” she demands.

“You are foolish to bring your band of women into a camp filled with
armed warriors,” he says. “And I do not wish to make alliance with a
fool.”

Anger turns to fury. Ailsa picks up her spear from the floor, as if she
is considering throwing it at him.

“We will depart, then,” she says eventually, bringing her temper back
under control.

“I think not,” says Kurtz. “You will remember that our custom is that
the only females to enter my compound are slaves.”

“We are not kajirae!” Ailsa states vociferously.

“You certainly think yourself above them. You have treated our women
with great contempt since your arrival,” Kurtz notes.

“They are weak,” Ailsa says. “They betray us by displaying their
weakness before men.”

“So you are better than any one of these?” Kurtz asks, fingering the arm
rest of his throne with a show of indifference.

“Of course.” Ailsa spits.

“Then I suggest a test,” he offers, sitting back to look up at her. “If
you can best a weak slave of mine in a fight, I will acknowledge you are
better than all these women, and you may leave with twenty gold tarn
discs, of double weight.”

“If that weak slave defeats you, you and your band will join their
number in my pens.”

Ailsa laughs viciously. She has suddenly regained her self-assurance,
not realising she’s been goaded into a corner. My master is correct. She
is not wise.

“I could beat any one of these pathetic females,” she says almost
confidently. “You may even select the style of fighting.”

“Unarmed combat, then,” Kurtz says languidly. “You will each attempt to
strip and subdue your opponent, either by a hold or rendering them
unable to continue.”

The hall has grown loud with excitement. Here is a contest, sport in the
Gorean style, where the competition is brutal and the loser has much to
fear.

Ailsa also seems eager for the fight. She is already removing her bow
and handing it to one of her deputies. She then reaches for the waist
tie that secures her dagger in place, and hands that over as well.

She looks powerful and fit, even unarmed. I try to think if there are
any slaves in the compound, with a chance of victory over this woman.
Uzima comes from the tough docks of Port Schendi, and is used to taking
care of herself, being little better than the she-urts of Port Kar. She
would be my selection.

“Who shall I make beg for mercy?” asks Ailsa.

“Aurore,” says the Ubar. “Aurore will fight you.”

26 – In which I discover that some of my masculine instincts remain, but
others have gone forever.

I don’t make eye contact with my master as I move numbly to the ring of
dirt that is the area for contests.

He is a cruel and barbaric brute, but he is a genius, I must acknowledge
that.

Kurtz is the only one that knows I used to be a man. He is the only one
here who knows I used to be a soldier. He is the only one here who knows
I am trained to fight.

So Kurtz has lured the panther into this fight, and now she walks into
the trap.

I have read a number of scrolls where kajirae describe their encounters
with panthers. When challenged to fight for freedom by the proud and
strong warrior women, the slaves are reduced to grovelling weaklings.

I found these accounts unsatisfactory.

Tonight I will craft a tale more to my taste. Since my transformation
into a woman I have been demeaned, humiliated, beaten, abused and
belittled. That kind of treatment builds up a lot of resentment,
especially to someone with so much masculine pride.

I’ve been frustratingly unable to do anything about this frustration
before now, but tonight, after months of constant defeats, I’m overcome
with the craving to kick some ass.

Here my master has also shown his genius.

“Skinny slut,” Ailsa says, and she shoves me in the shoulder. “I can see
from your soft body you’ve been in some high-caste cylinder all your
life. You will be no match for me.”

Such insults are nothing to me, gamesmanship before a contest, but the
Taluna has also upset Nessa, and for that offence I am determined she
will pay. I am still too much of a man to let someone hurt a girl I care
about.

And my master knows this, too.

“This white silk slave is your personal slave?” Ailsa calls across to
Kurtz.

“She is,” he confirms.

“If I am risking the collar in this fight, then so must she,” Ailsa
taunts. “When I win, she will be delivered to me.”

“Agreed,” Kurtz says without hesitation.

I look wide eyed across to him. But he’d promised I would choose my own
destiny. My stomach seems to dive to my feet. This is far more important
than Nessa. I am fighting to avoid an uncertain future as slave to the
Taluna.

He meets my eyes for a moment, and I can read in his neutral expression
that he’s certain of my victory. It’s okay for him though – he’s not the
one gambling his freedom.

Buckets of the lake water are being tipped to the floor of the circle.
Evidently the dry dirt floor is considered too easy a surface to make
good sport, so we will have to struggle on the slippery ground.

“Great, mud wrestling,” I glumly think.

The volume of the crowd is building to a roar already, but to my
surprise, for once it is in support of me. I am one of their own, and I
am also the underdog in this competition. Goreans are a loyal people,
and they love to see a victory for the little guy, so it seems they have
two reasons to cheer me on.

I step into the ring, and Ailsa steps in at the far side, facing me.

The black mud is cold on my soles, and is half-an-inch deep. This is
going to be treacherously slippery.

We are quickly encircled by a crowd, several people deep. Wagers are
being accepted, with very good odds offered for those foolish enough to
stake money on the gangly kajira’s victory.

I hop from foot to foot, limbering myself up like a boxer.

Aurore’s body is certainly the weaker of the two women, but I am at much
less of a power disadvantage with her than I would be fighting a man.
Ailsa and I are about the same height, so we will be equal there, having
the same length of reach.

My woman’s body is beautifully flexible, and the physical chores I
perform have toughened my muscles more than is apparent. Learning the
slave positions and serves of Gor has also improved my poise and
balance.

In Ailsa’s favour are combat experience in her current body, and her
Amazonian muscle development. I am sure that Ailsa will attempt to win
by intimidation, aggression and physical strength. I must win by
remaining calm, and using technique.

The greatest threat is if she knocks me out with a well-aimed strike, or
gets me into a wresting pin where I’m forced to submit.

Everyone is in position.

There is a moment of silence in the room. We are ready.

I mentally push all the ring of faces away, my eyes locked on the woman
in front of me. She is all that is important.

“Begin,” someone says.

My ears ring with the volume of the crowd’s shouting.

Ailsa begins confidently moving towards me, in a half crouch. So sure is
she of victory that she barely has her guard up.

As soon as I score a hit and she realises I have some physical training,
the fight will become much more difficult, but while we are untested
there is the chance I could defeat her immediately with one knockout
blow and strip her once she’s rendered unconscious.

“This one is for Nessa,” I say, and instead of using Aurore’s body for
the graceful movement of a slave intended to give men so much pleasure,
I twist my torso, extending my foot to the height of my head and using
the momentum from the rotation to execute a Taekwondo spinning kick.

It is a showy and risky move – the leg extension in a spinning kick
leaving the groin very vulnerable, but the momentum gained by success
can be devastating.

Luckily for me Ailsa is not anticipating the attack and she does not
block.

However my execution is not quite perfect, and I skid to the left,
narrowly avoiding overbalancing, so rather than striking her temple I am
too low and hit under her ear. All the same it is enough to send her
sprawling into the wet mud.

I have no intention of fighting fair with my ownership at stake, so I
move in while she’s still on the ground and punch her as hard as I can
in the side of the head.

Moving back into a guard position, I watch as Ailsa’s face splashes into
the oozing sludge.

I think for a moment it’s all over and I’ve knocked her out, but one
does not become leader of a Taluna tribe without being tough. Ailsa’s
eyes flutter open and she begins to push herself up, shaking her head
groggily and wiping the filth from her cheek.

I close in for another strike, but this time I have been overconfident.

My step forward is fractionally too long and my leg slides away from me.
Ailsa needs no invitation to grab my ankle and pull me completely off my
feet. I suddenly find myself on my back in the layer of mud with Ailsa’s
body on top of me.

She moves against me, trying to bring up her knees so she can straddle
and use her bodyweight to pin my arms. I’m not going to allow that to
happen – if she succeeds I will surely lose, so I begin twisting right
and left underneath her.

All the same, the writhing motion of her body is so sexual it almost
distracts me.

Sex – she will be frightened of her own sexuality.

Reaching down her body I rip at the brief animal skin skirt, suddenly
leaving her naked below the waist.

For a moment I tune in to the crowd noise, aware of the cheer this has
evoked. They must have a pleasant view.

Ailsa is livid at the humiliation I’ve just delivered, and for a moment,
she claws furiously at me, with no regard for winning, just trying to
scratch my face. I am grateful that the arduous life in the forest wears
down the nails of panthers.

We tussle for several minutes to the loud encouragement of the crowd,
rolling over and over and punching, so one girl and then the other is on
top.

Ailsa is not fighting with enough coherence to present much threat, but
constantly blocking tires me. At one point she lands a punch so my cheek
flares with pain and I see stars.

Then she remembers her goal and grabs for my camisk, pulling it away so
hard that it hurts my shoulders.

The garment tears away, but in concentrating on it she leaves herself
undefended.

I rip Ailsa’s panther top away, and manage to twist my hips enough to
throw her off me, so I roll to the side and to the edge of the circle.

Breathing heavily I regain my feet.

We are spread out in similar fashion to the start of the fight, only now
both of us are naked and both of us are covered in dirt. I have to
marvel for a moment at her divine body. The camouflage of mud on her
pale skin only makes her more desirable.

“Take her, Aurore,” a woman’s voice encourages from just behind me.

For a second time the Taluna and I close on each other.

This time, Ailsa is being cautious. Her guard is high, but she’s not
formally trained and it’s slightly too high. Exploiting the gap in her
defence I kick the side of her knee and her leg gives way, so she falls
part on her face into the ooze.

Immediately my hands are on her left arm, holding where the joints are
at wrist and elbow.

I twist the limb, and she has to move flatter into the liquid mud. A
bubble forms where she exhales from under the surface, and she
splutters.

I feel my first moment of pity for her, and my first comprehension of
what I’ve done. It is over now, already over, my hold on her pinning her
into place. But there will be a dreadful few seconds as she comes to
realise that.

Sure enough, Ailsa’s attempts to break free become increasingly more
desperate. She’s almost breaking her own limb in a panicked attempt to
escape, but I cannot risk giving her the least slack.

“Please,” she says to me, opening her mouth enough that liquid flows and
she coughs. It is the first time I have heard her use the word.

Sympathy surges within me, but it’s too late.

The crowd invade the circle. My other senses begin to function again,
and I become aware of the noise – applause and cheering.

People are patting me on the back. Although I am naked, no-one attempts
to touch me intimately.

A warrior takes Ailsa’s arm from my hands, and a second warrior pulls
her free arm behind her into almost the same position.

Swiftly her wrists are bound together. She has started weeping.

With her wrists secured a piece of rope is circled around her throat to
serve as a choke leash, and with this she is lead back before the Ubar.

The crowd pulls back, leaving Ailsa and I alone before his thrown, save
for the warrior who holds her leash.

I fall to my knees. I am still a slave. She remains standing, even
though her lip bleeds from a split and she looks exhausted.

In the edges of my vision I can see the other Taluna, hopelessly
outnumbered, being quickly subdued.

Kurtz looks coldly at Ailsa.

“I believe you agreed that if my weak slave defeated you, then you and
your band would join them in the pens?” he asks.

“No!” she pleads, shaking her head, “I didn’t mean it.”

“See it done,” Kurtz commands. “Those of my warriors who wish to teach
these Taluna that they are women may do so.”

There is not a shortage of volunteers in the room.

“Nooo!” wails the blonde as a warrior with a beard drags her by her
bonds towards the edge of the room, towards a place intimately deep in
the shadows.

I have brought this about. I watch her in horror, until what I can see
becomes too personal and I have to look away.

“You did well, Aurore,” Kurtz says to me.

I do not feel like I have done well. I might have been the victor, but I
feel like what just happened was a defeat.

Guilt overwhelms me. My animal male drive to win overcame whatever
humane part of my nature resisted. Ten women are being enslaved because
of my actions. One is already being violated right before us, and I
cannot evade the rhythmic sound of her moaning. It might haunt me
forever.

“Thank you, Master,” I am obliged to say, masking my emotions.

He considers me for a moment. I dare to look up and see that he is
leaning forward, as if considering another of his barbaric Ubar
judgements.

I drop my gaze again.

Something lands in the sand near me with a soft thud. I look at it and
realise it is a small silver key. I pick it up.

“The panther’s terms were for the victor to be permitted to leave,”
Kurtz says. “You may do so if you wish. We accept no free women in this
place, but you can walk from the compound, where arrangements will be
made to return you to the place from which you came. It is time to
accept your destiny, be it here or elsewhere.”

This is the key to my collar. All I have to do is unlock it, and I am a
free woman. I could go back to the Nest straight away.

Only I know the meaning of his words. He wants me to submit truly, or
leave. My choice is to accept the ways of Gor, or reject them.

I look around the room. Everyone is watching me waiting for my answer,
and their goodwill is almost overwhelming. Except the panther girls, who
I see are now disarmed and chained, I know the names of everyone in
here.

I only felt so deeply a part of a group when I was in the army.

From the edge of the room there is another low moan that breaks the
silence.

All I had to do was let Ailsa win, and I’d now be leaving the compound
as a slave to the panthers. I have shown myself to be weak, and
contemptible, and Gorean.

Crawling closer to the dais, I hold the key out to my master.

“I could have let the Taluna win, but I did not. Thanks to me, ten women
who could have been walking free are now slaves. As penance, I too
deserve to remain nothing but slave, Master,” I say in front of the
whole crowd.

Amongst these brutal and barbaric people, I believe I have found my
place.

27 – Stockholm syndrome

“Have you heard of capture bonding?” Kurtz asks me tenderly.

“No Master,” I admit.

My voice shivers, for he is tracing his fingers up my sides, from my
hips to under my arms. The touch tickles me, but it is also delicious.
The nerves in my skin seem to be linked through my body, from fingers to
toes, but pooling most intensely in the growing warmth at the apex of my
legs.

“It is a phenomenon observed by the caste of physicians of your world. A
captive begins to take on the views of their captors, empathising with
and becoming loyal to those people, instead of the captive’s original
social group.”

“Stockholm syndrome, Master,” I groan sensually. “You mean Stockholm
syndrome.”

I have my head resting back on his chest. When he speaks Kurtz’ deep
voice therefore resonates through me, and I can hear the steady strong
beat of his heart.

After my contest with the Taluna he ordered a bath carried into his hut
and filled with scented water. There he washed me, slowly and
sensuously, as if he were the one that was slave.

Now he is lying back, relaxed, and I am leaning back into him.

We are, of course, both naked.

“In pre-historic times of conflict, on your world as well as here on
Gor, females were more likely to be taken captive than to be killed.”
Kurtz says. “Sites of ancient massacres show an absence of female
skeletons, confirming that the women were carried away as prisoners.”

“If the woman learned to take on the views of her captors, submitting to
them, her captors would be more favourably disposed towards her, and her
survival would be more likely.”

“Thus the physicians say that there is an evolutionary advantage for
human women to be psychologically susceptible to this occurrence of
submission into the captors’ culture,” he says.

“It is less advantageous for males to inherit this trait, as being
genetic threats to the home males they are more likely to be killed
immediately.”

His hands reach under the surface of the water and move to my lift naked
backside, cupping and caressing my buttocks intimately. Oh, that feels
so nice. Having my rump touched as a woman is a beautiful experience.

My Master’s passion for me is inflamed, that desire being expressed by
the rod of his meat that presses against the base of my spine.

He lowers me back down, and his arms wrap round my waist. Parting my
thighs, he moves his fingers between them, touching my sex for the first
time.

And the person that was once Aurius of London does not shrink away from
him. I am so aroused that my sex yearns for the contact with him to be
even more intimate.

“The optimum survival tactic is not for the woman to yield too quickly,
as there is the possibility she may be rescued and then ostracised by
her own people as a traitor. Neither can she take too long to accept
defeat, as if she annoys her captors with overly long resistance they
might harm her.”

“Master is suggesting that this is happening to me?” I ask.

“It is a possibility,” he says, “or what is occurring between us right
now might be pure sex drive. What do you think?”

“I’m not accepting that I’ve suddenly learned I’m a natural slave, if
that’s what you’re suggesting, Master. But I can admit that women have
sexual needs as well as men, and right now I really want that pleasure.”

I feel him nod.

“For me also, desire for you has become more important than anything
else. Let us accept there is a third option for you, where you remain
with me until you wish to leave, and we consider the issues in Gorean
culture another time.”

“And where does this fit into this third way?” I ask, lifting my elegant
lower leg from the water.

There is the sound of a slave chain rattling as it moves against the
side of the bath. The source of that noise links a steel bracelet locked
around my left ankle to a loop embedded deep in the floor of the Ubar’s
hut.

In every other respect I am free to move around, but I am also
restricted for the night to a radius about this point.

My mind keeps going back to Tala, chained similarly to wait in my furs,
so long ago at the Nest. Then I was the warrior, holding her in my arms.
Now I am the slave girl.

“I said you could remain with me until you wish to leave, Aurore,” he
says, and I can hear the humour through his chest. “Not that I would
free you while you are here.”

He touches the very core of me with his fingers then, in a caress not-
dissimilar to the first I received with the whip, and I cry out at the
stimulation.

“Your reaction to my touch is quite delightful,” he says, and to make
his point his fingers move up my sides again, touching the surfaces of
my breasts to brush my engorged nipples.

I can’t help but writhe, proving his point with an involuntary display
of the sensitivity of Aurore’s body.

“One area where my training here has been brutally effective…” I admit
in a groan, “is in awakening desire in me. I am aching with need for
you, Master. The part of me that was a man still finds women attractive,
but my female biology has provoked my desire for strong men. I tire of
resisting this truth.”

“So take me,” I then plead. “Take me as slave if you really must think
of it that way, or take me as a woman, but take me.”

“Do you beg your master?” he asks gently.

If it’s so important to him, I’ll say it.

“Please, Master.”

He turns my torso to him and kisses me, kisses me tenderly. The warmth
that suffused my body ignites into flames.

Then, in a simple hut, somewhere deep in the jungles of a barbaric
world, an insignificant slave woman and her master grant each other’s
wish.

28 – In which our numbers increase.

“Something is different with you this morning Aurore,” Nessa says.

I blush, amused and irritated at the same time. How can she possibly
have noticed already?

Nessa laughs in sudden understanding, a tone of gentle teasing.

“Aurore is no longer white silk everyone,” she crows out to the women in
the room.

I try to shush her but it’s too late.

Kajirae rush across congratulate me, like losing my virginity has been
some kind of achievement. The atmosphere back in the pens is warm and
enveloping.

Instead of being above them somehow, my status elevated by my chastity,
I’m suddenly at the same level. My sisters in the collar are no longer
jealous and see me as one of them.

Hiding my blushes I continue to wash myself, sponging from the bucket of
tepid lake water provided for the girls in the pens. I have to
concentrate on the area between my legs, which is sticky and unpleasant
after my night’s activities. There was some blood, as is common when a
virgin is deflowered. When he first entered me there was a little
discomfort, but by the end of the night being filled with him was one of
the most delicious sensations that must be possible.

“Did you enjoy it?” Nessa asks. She stands nude next to me, also
cleaning herself at the small bucket.

How can I answer that? I’m tired and I feel strangely emotional, but I
also feel complete.

“As time passes you will gain even more pleasure from the act,” Nessa
tries to educate me, “and you will crave being taken by your master more
and more.”

My feelings are too uneven to want to hear this right now. Maybe I
yielded too easily. Maybe I’ve already betrayed womankind, and if I
desire those experiences even more, it will just prove I’m slutty.

But it felt so good, moving under his hands.

I don’t need anything more to disturb my equilibrium, but it happens
anyway. Our intimate conversation is broken by the arrival of one of the
Taluna, being returned to the pens.

Kurtz promised Ailsa that her band would join us in the pens, but all
the women spend their first night in the compound elsewhere. Ailsa’s
group were divided amongst the men, each girl being given to a warrior
for the night. They only join us in the morning.

This girl is shackled in a coffle, linked at the throat to her fellows
who only yesterday moved freely in the jungles.

Today they are slaves, sitting miserable and naked, and speaking little.

“You two lazy sluts!” Udumi calls to Nessa and I. She seems to have been
afflicted with the same irritable mood as most of the girls.

“You are to cleanse the hall of the debris from last night,” she says.

“Yes Mistress,” we both say in unison, and we head from the pens.

There are only two types of weather in the jungle – pouring rain, or hot
and humid. At the moment it is the latter. We are likely to sweat during
the strenuous cleaning, but at least we won’t get soaked on our short
walk outdoors.

Armed with rags Nessa and I cross towards the communal building, but we
stop short, only half way in our brief journey.

An “X” shaped wooden cross has appeared overnight at the dockside. To
this is tied the Taluna, known as Ailsa, secured hand and foot.

She has been much beaten – I can see a series of red welts from the whip
that criss-cross her body, and she is soiled with mud and dirt. All the
same she still looks magnificent – her Amazon body looking all the more
toned for being tensed in the frame.

Her breasts are divine. A small part of me yearns to touch her, but I
will not add to the violations she’s endured and even if Ailsa welcomed
the attention Nessa is here. I well remember Udumi’s warnings about the
very few lesbians on Gor.

The panther looks up at us as we approach.

I’m expecting to see hatred in her eyes, but she just looks defeated.

“Mistress,” she pleads, and I realise it’s me she’s talking to. It’s
been some time since I was addressed in that way.

“Some water, please mistress,” she begs humbly.

I mercifully fetch her some water from the marsh, containing it in the
round shell of a Gorean nut that resembles a coconut.

Ailsa’s wrists are tied, so I have to hold the drink to her lips for
her.

“Thank you, Mistress,” she says hoarsely as she swallows.

I have to replenish the cup several times before she is able to talk
easily.

“During the night I was much used,” she then says. “And today my girls
and I will be collared.”

“Forgive me,” I tell her, heavy with responsibility.

She shakes her head, shuffling slightly to get more comfortable in the
ropes.

“It was my own arrogance led me to this fate,” she says.

“I thought I could be treated equally to men, but this was a mistake.”

“During my ordeal this night I have reflected on my place in the world.
I think no-one would choose to be a woman of Gor.”

A vision of my previous night fills my mind – the kisses of my master,
and the touch of his hands on my body.

“It’s not so bad,” I say, and I really believe it as I proceed to clean
the hall.

For me, being a Gorean woman in slavery continues to be a pleasurable
experience. That night I am denied the slave gruel in the pens, again
being summoned to serve the desires of my master.

With Ailsa’s misery troubling my conscience, I discuss her observations
on the desirability of being a woman with him. However, undermining any
argument that being female is pure suffering, it just so happens this
conversation occurs when my master is deep inside the body of Aurore.

At that moment the experience of being a woman is very pleasurable
indeed. We are lying almost still, me atop him, only moving enough to
maintain our mutual arousal.

“I have heard it said that the weak men of Urth would chance places to
be a Gorean female, even if she is a kajira,” he says, with a tone that
suggests he doesn’t quite believe it.

“Is that true Aurore? There are men who would be jealous of you, even
though you are made to lie naked and chained in the furs of a jungle
savage?”

I look down at Aurore’s lush body, and then down my long bare leg to
where once again the ankle bracelet is in its place.

“There are many men on Urth who would readily swap places with me,” I
admit.

“Why are the men of your world so unhappy, that a female pleasure
slave’s life is something to be desired?” Kurtz asks me curiously.

Pleasure slave? Hearing him say the title gives me an uncomfortable
glow.

As I think I can’t resist gyrating my hips a little, feeling the
sensation of a solid object – part of another person, moving inside my
abdomen. Who wouldn’t want this, if this is womanhood?

“The role of the man is no longer clear in Urth society, because social
skills and intellect have become more important than physical prowess,”
I say. “Or it might be the men who consider themselves unattractive that
long to be female. Unlike Gor it is the women who make the sexual
selection on my home world, and men long for this power.”

I seem to be getting into full flow.

“Our society raises us to believe if a man works hard and lives a good
life, he deserved a beautiful woman. But the women haven’t agreed to
this deal.”

“So the smart guy that studies hard will still have to watch his dream
girl go on dates with some meat head, just because the guy has a body
like Conan the Barbarian.”

I smile at the image of Conan, and rub Aurore’s slim hand across the
massive pectoral muscles of the Ubar’s chest.

“So the man would like to be the beautiful girl, because if he was her
he could understand how she feels being so desired, and why she makes
her choices.”

“But the leader of the panthers is desired,” Kurtz questions. “She is
probably being taken against her will even now. From her own lips she
states she doesn’t wish to be a woman, and yet you tell me some of these
men would still want to be her?”

“Even with her, they would like to change places,” I admit. “There is a
purity of purpose in slavery – all that is important is pleasing the
master. To someone whose life seems without meaning, to have reason and
be cherished might be desirable.”

That seems to arouse him for some reason, and he begins to move his
hips. The motion is ever so slow, but it is the start of a rhythm.

“What about you, Aurore?” he asks, running his hands up over my back.
“Do you enjoy slavery? Is that why you didn’t leave when you had the
chance?”

I smile, boldly leaning down to kiss his cheek.

“Master will never get me to admit that. I just like having sex as a
woman.”

So that is what we do.

29 – The coming of the grey man.

I am running across the wooden docks and jetties of compound, racing
back towards the slave pens having just dropped a bundle of soiled
tunics to the laundry, when I notice a dark-skinned slave woman is
waving vigorously at me from a doorway.

It is Udumi. Udumi is beckoning me across to her.

I switch direction, the shelter she offers being closer than that of the
pens. Today is a pouring day in the jungle – one of those days it rains
so hard that you’re drenched the moment you’re exposed to the open air.

Our tropical slave tunics are ideal for keeping the wearer cool in the
sun, but they’re not a good garment for the wet. Mine is soaked, and
when it does that it clings to every curve of my form and goes partly
translucent, almost as revealing as if I were naked.

The Priest Kings also chose to give Aurore hyper-responsive nipples that
grow erect at any excuse, so they protrude against the wet tunic,
impossible to hide.

It is not a dignified look, but luckily there is only Udumi to see me in
this state.

“Come in quickly, I have a bone to pick you,” she says harshly.

Hmm, this doesn’t sound good. Her hostile voice is back, the tone she
used to speak during my early days as a slave. All the same I comply,
and follow her into the room. It looks like one of the warrior’s
quarters. It is at almost the opposite side of the compound to Kurtz’
hut. They face each other across the jetties like enemies.

This must be Chiron’s rooms.

Prising the mat of my long hair away from my back I lean over and try to
wring out some of the water. It can take an ahn for Aurore’s hair to dry
in the perpetual rain forest humidity.

Apart from the dirt floor there is none of the monastic poverty present
in my master’s quarters. Opulent furs and fabrics are piled in an untidy
heap almost waist-high, and wider than a human being. Next to the mound
sit multiple bottles of fine wines and perfumes.

He has some throne-like chairs of a mahogany wood, and painting of a
nude woman on her knees decorates the wall.

“What’s the problem?” I ask Udumi.

“You told me you were the agent of the Priest Kings,” she says, “sent to
infiltrate Kurtz’ group. You have succeeded – he made you his personal
slave, and then his passion slave.”

“Yes,” I agree.

She seems to be furious, but I’m baffled why. I’ve not done anything
wrong.

“I assume your mission was to make your way back to the home of the
Priest Kings, where you would be returned to Urth?”

“That was the idea,” I confirm.

I am not expecting the slap, so she catches me right across my unguarded
cheek, almost knocking me off my feet.

“What in the name of the Priest Kings are you doing still here then? I
saw what happened after the fight. He offered you freedom and passage
home. Instead you come out with some crap about only deserving to stay
here, and then you run around the compound like some love-struck
fourteen-year-old.”

Udumi grasps my shoulders, trying to shake sense into me.

“You’re not an unattractive woman, Aurore. I presume at some time in
your life on Earth a guy has shown interest in you. So why are you
acting like this is the first time?”

I rub my sore face, which is throbbing with pain.

“I let a sheltered life,” I say. “Actually this is kinda the first time
I’ve had so much attention.”

“Grow up, Aurore,” she insists. “Gor is not a fair world. It doesn’t
matter if you deserve to stay as penance for the panthers. Get out while
you have the chance.”

Udumi lifts her hands to her head and rubs her eyes with exasperation.

“Oh, Priest Kings, Aurore, you don’t know how you can piss people off,”
she groans.

“Why is this important to you?” I ask. “What difference does it make
what I do?”

“Because I want you to leave and take me with you,” she says. “You might
enjoy playing adult Dungeons and Dragons but I would do anything to go
home.”

I am so surprised at this request that I almost do the cliché jaw drop.

“But I thought you liked Gor,” I say. “You seem so happy, and so natural
in your place.”

Udumi grimaces like I’m dumb.

“All I’m doing is what I have to do to survive,” she says, “and for
women on Gor that means submission. But I don’t for one ehn buy into all
this women-are-meant-to-be-slaves crap.”

To emphasise her point she cross her wrists, and says in a needy voice,
“Oh master, please rape me, oh teach me my slavery.”

It sounds entirely authentic. She is quite the actress.

Udumi sinks to the floor then, as if exhausted.

“You came here of your own free will Aurore, so perhaps that’s why you
don’t understand what it’s like. Maybe that’s your problem. Well let me
enlighten you.”

“When a woman wakes up and discovers her old life is gone forever and
she’s a prisoner on Gor, it is easier to forget her former existence,
give up all hope and lose herself in the role of a slave.”

“That’s how I stayed alive and kept my sanity, but that doesn’t mean I
wouldn’t switch this life at a moment’s notice to be sitting in a bar in
Santa Monica drinking a margarita.”

I too feel a sudden pang of longing at the image her words provoke.

“Then you come along, playmate of the month with the chance of a way
home, and I can’t forget Earth any more. You woke up all my hope, and
all the pain. And then I’m forced to watch you throwing that all away
when I’d give anything to be you?”

She sighs.

“I’d never thought what I’m doing would hurt anyone else in that way,” I
admit. “I’m sorry. I can imagine that must be hard for you.”

“There’s more,” Udumi says. “My grandmother, back in L.A. She was sick,
cancer of the liver. I want to see her before she dies.”

I look at her, bemused.

“In the scrolls on the lives of slave women on Gor, none of them ever
worry about ageing relatives,” I say.

“You must snap out of the sex fantasy Aurore, you must leave, and you
must take me with you.”

“I would like to help you,” I say, “but I’m not sure how I can do that.
Agents of the Priest Kings are to watch the markets of Gor for my sale,”
I tell her. “But they will not expect to buy two slaves. I would have to
return to the Sardar and send for you, or plead with my master to return
us both.”

“He already nearly crossed swords with Chiron over my collaring. It’s
not going to go well if my master wants Chiron’s woman as well.”

Udumi is shaking her head.

“It doesn’t matter,” she says. “You do not have long left to run around
in this romance of whips and chains. And whatever you think of your
master, he is a Gorean and will eventually treat you the way Gorean men
treat women.”

“He is different from the others,” I say, wanting to defend him. “He
does not take women by force anymore.”

She shakes her head again and leaps back to her feet.

“See this?” she asks.

Udumi lifts her beautiful ebony left thigh, twisting her knee to present
the brandius mark to me. On her it adds to her beauty, rather than
detracting.

“He might have said you weren’t to be used sexually, but I don’t
remember the conversation where he told Chiron you weren’t to be
branded.”

It is my turn to shake my head. I feel sudden fear.

No, actually he hadn’t expressly said I wouldn’t be marked for life as a
slave, but surely that’s his opinion.

“You will be marked soon,” Udumi insists. “Let that be your wake-up
call.”

“None of the women from your raid has long left here. It is harmful to
keep captives here beyond a certain duration. Bonds begin to form
between the slaves and their masters, and neither wants to part. Slave
trading is a business, so the girls have to move on.”

Nessa and her blonde-haired warrior are attached to one another. Surely
they won’t sell Nessa?

“One of the slavers’ caste comes here in the next week. He will buy the
first of you. They will mark you all before then.”

I’ve become so used to the routine her I have forgotten that the
compound is a training and processing place for slaves, and by necessity
those slaves must be sold onwards.

I have no more time to think on this, though. There is a sound from
outside the hut, and Udumi swears. I am aware of the voice of Chiron,
owner of this place, and of this girl.

He has a knack of disturbing our conversations.

“Hide,” Udumi urges indicating the mound of fur and fabric, “Under here.
Don’t let him find you.”

She lifts some silk drapes from part-way up the heap. There is no time
to argue. I scramble into place underneath them.

I feel weights added to those above me, as Udumi piles further items on
top, probably disguising the shape of a human figure.

There is a small cave-like opening in the silks. Like a child spying
from under the bedclothes, I can see into the room.

Chiron enters his quarters shaking the rain from his tunic, accompanied
by a strange looking man.

The male visitor is cloaked almost as heavily as a free woman might be,
wearing a cowl of grey material, stained dark from rainwater, that masks
his features. He is an unusually shaped fellow, having very broad
muscular shoulders but a slim waist, so his upper body is almost an
inverted triangle.

“It does not engender trust that you hide your face,” Chiron says to
him.

“I can reveal myself if you wish, but most prefer I keep myself
covered,” the man says, and when he draws back his hood I can see why.

This one’s face is hideously deformed. White hair bulges from patches
where his skull is not swollen. His skin and hair show he is elderly,
which means he must be ancient in Urth years, but his shoulders are
enormous and still bulge with the muscle of his prime.

The grey man looks as if someone tried to create some superhuman, but
the experiment turned him into Frankenstein’s monster.

“You are an exotic?” Chiron asks, referring to the poor humans bred for
specific traits or behaviours.

“You could say that,” he answers.

“Forgive me – raise your hood again.”

The grey man does so.

The two men then sit in the throne chairs.

From my narrow field of view there are occasional flashes of Udumi’s
body, as she moves around the room, kneeling first to serve her master,
and then the guest.

“Your slave is a beautiful woman,” the grey man compliments.

“She is barbarian,” Chiron answers, “taken when the Ubar first seized
this place.”

“Really?” the grey man answers, “that is more interesting to me than you
might think.”

Once drinks are served, Udumi kneels and the men settle down to
business.

“You have requested a parley with me, and not the Ubar,” Chiron begins.
“So say what you have come to say.”

“I represent those who once used this landing site for their… tarns,”
the grey man begins, answering carefully.

“This territory was seized unlawfully from them by he who you call Ubar,
the man known as Kurtz, causing much disruption to our trading operation
in this area. This slave girl that kneels here would have been just one
part of their property that was lost.”

After a pause he adds, “Those I represent are much vexed.”

Chiron shrugs.

“Gor is a place for the strongest to take what they want,” he responds.
“What has happened to your people, has happened. What is your loss of
concern to me?”

The grey man shifts in his seat.

“Those I represent wish to renew their operations here,” he says. “This
construction,” (and he gestures to the walls of the compound) “might be
serendipitous. They send me to propose to you a joint venture.”

“My associates have access to an almost unlimited supply of barbarian
women that we can deliver here. In the compound they will be trained and
sold on for mutual profit. Everybody wins.”

Anger bubbles in me at his casual words. From the darkness under the
silks and furs, I reflect that the captives do not win.

“If this offer is so attractive, why not take it straight to the Ubar?”
Chiron asks.

“Because the first of our terms is that we are delivered the one called
Kurtz, who must give account to those I represent for his conduct. You
will become Ubar in the compound, and we hope you to be a more
reasonable man with whom we can do business.”

Even though Chiron is the beneficiary of this offer, he seems angry.

“You are bold and foolish to come here as Kurtz’ guest, and speak such
sedition,” he says. “I am loyal to him. I should put you to death right
here.”

The grey man seems unalarmed by this threat.

“I do not discuss an easy black and white matter of betrayal with you. I
speak of a change which is inevitable, whether you help me or not,” he
says. “Your Ubar is resented by many others apart from my employers, and
this territory was not unclaimed before you arrived.”

“Bila Haruma, he who holds the Ubarate at the north shore of the lake,
has seen his trade badly damaged by Kurtz’ activities. Already he is
gathering his forces to mount an assault on this compound.”

“He has decreed all the men who serve Kurtz are to be put to the sword,
or taken as slave.”

“A tidal wave of hatred builds, one that will wipe this place from Gor.”

“Only we have the power to prevent that fate, but those I represent will
not intercede to save the one who has harmed us. So the decision before
you is not about betrayal. It is about joining us, or meeting your
deaths. You have the chance to save the lives of all here.”

Chiron thinks for a moment.

“You said that delivery of Kurtz was one of your terms. There are
others?”

“Only one more,” the grey man replies, “a trivial matter. We believe you
have a white girl here as slave, exceptionally beautiful with dark red
hair, who was in the party of a river boat which was captured by your
men some months ago. That girl will also be given to us.”

I gasp, but Chiron is already speaking and no-one hears me.

“Aurore?” Chiron asks. “What do you want with Aurore? Why is she so
important?”

“Those I represent desire the use of her,” the grey man says.

“There are many female slaves,” Chiron counters, “even a few as
beautiful as her. Make use of those.”

“She comes from the houses of those who oppose my employers,” says the
grey man. “The opportunity to use her for retribution against them is
unique.”

Silence falls for a moment. Then the grey man speaks again.

“You are a man of conscience. I suggest you tell the Ubar every word of
our proposal. He has a sense of honour even in his madness, and may
sacrifice himself to save this place from Bila Haruma, and give his
agreement.”

Chiron seems somewhat mollified by this suggestion.

“How will we contact you, if do wish to accept this offer?” Chiron asks.

The grey man is prepared for this question.

“The landing area for our Tarns is still here,” he answers. “Leave a
lock of the redhead girl’s hair affixed to the slave post there, and we
will understand the sign.”

Thus do I learn that I truly am the catalyst of doom, as Kurtz foretold.

My master is to die, either at the hands of the others or the Ubar
across the lake. I am part of the deal that will lead to his death.

The great importance of what I’ve just heard temporarily dislodges
Udumi’s warning from my mind, but when I hurry back to the pens I see
with further dread that the forge has been lit.

30 – A line is crossed.

I have been plunged alive into the sun. I am burning, screaming and
screaming from the white heat.

The suffering is only a moment, but a moment lasting forever.

Then the sun is receding into eclipse and I fall back to darkness,
leaving just one place on my left thigh that continues to burn with an
intense light.

I am able to open my eyes.

Vision changes from bright white to dark shadows, and what I can see is
blurred with my own tears.

The first thing I discern is a line of frightened women, on their knees
awaiting the same treatment I have just received. A coffle links their
collars together, should any of them try to escape.

The pain in my leg is still agonising, but it has reduced to the level
where I’m free from the madness of a few seconds ago.

I’m bound over a piece of furniture resembling a pommel horse, legs
either side of this thing. Clamps fasten my left thigh in a vice-like
grip. This was a sensible measure from my owner’s perspective. I
struggled like a wild animal when the iron was pressed into me, and I
could easily have done myself damage or smeared the mark, reducing my
value.

I was branded third in line, which I suppose must be better than being
one of the later girls. The anticipation will make it worse for those
further behind me in the queue.

Filling my nostrils is the smell of burnt flesh. It is my own burnt
flesh – the perfection created by the Priest Kings now and forever
flawed.

“It is a clean mark,” the blacksmith says approvingly. “You can release
her from the rack. Keep her tied for a day, like the others, so she’s
unable to tear at the brand.”

I look across to his forge and see the iron bearing the symbol of the
brandius flower is already back in the coals, heating again.

Men close in, releasing my leg from the clamp. The next girl starts to
panic and wail as she is dragged from the line.

At the first movement flexing my limb, the pain increases exponentially
once again, and I give another scream.

Something has happened to me that will never be undone. My flesh carries
the mark to indicate I am a slave girl. It is a mark that cannot be
removed.

The smooth skin of Aurore’s left thigh carries this mark. The left is
the common side to brand a girl, so that her master might feel the mark
with his right hand.

Even when the two of them are in the dark, both man and woman will be
reminded that she is slave.

I will always remember.

There are many different styles of brand, and many styles of branding.

In some places on Gor it is the practice to mark captives immediately
upon their being seized, but in other cities the brand is considered a
mark of quality and is more like a symbol of graduation from training.

Here in the compound of Kurtz I have just learnt branding is performed
at a time of convenience, the arrival of the panthers to increase our
number having created a group of sufficient size to be worth the effort.

Udumi was correct, and I was wrong.

I did not believe my master would let me endure this slave ritual, but
this time he did not speak out at the last moment to save me. Fool me.
He is Gorean after all.

I thought I was special – he even offered to release me. In fact, I am
nothing more than his kajira. Kurtz mind games tricked me into yielding,
into giving him everything he wanted.

I am no better than the earlier female agents. Like them, he has made me
question my loyalty to The Sardar. If returned to the Priest Kings I
might be labelled as compromised, like the others.

None of it matters, anyway. I am a branded slave.

Successfully marked, Aurore the kajira is released from the branding
rack, but only to be re-bound. Then I am carried back to the pens by one
of the warriors and left lying on my side, wrists secured to my ankles
out in front of me.

There on the dirt floor, I have plenty of time to reflect on my
situation.

The burning pain from my thigh flames unrelenting. Sometimes it throbs
and intensifies like a solar flare, but it never fades away.

Meanwhile in our humble dormitory, the numbers of bound females slowly
increases.

Ailsa is branded; all of her tribe; Nessa; her ladies in waiting –
Colleen and Jaya; it goes on and on.

Many are weeping.

We are now linked by our brands to all the slaves throughout eternity.
All Goreans understand the meaning of this mark, just as they do with
the collar.

In some ways I have become more valuable – unbranded girls cannot be
sold in many cities, and many men believe that a clean brand enhances a
girl’s beauty.

In other ways am forever diminished. A Gorean man will not take a marked
girl as a free companion. Why should he, when he can enjoy her as slave?

Feeling very miserable, I lift my head from the floor enough to look
down my body at the oozing sore of flesh.

I do not think it makes me look more beautiful.

By the time all of us are processed the floor of the dormitory is
crowded. The rump of one girl, Vani, is left just before my face. Her
pose, clutching her ankles in the same manner as me, presents her sex
obscenely to be.

It would be erotic, were I not too uncomfortable to have any desire.

Older slaves – those already marked with the brandius, move amongst us,
keeping us watered and wiping mouthfuls of a nutritious paste onto our
tongues.

One of the newly branded panthers refuses the water, not wishing to risk
having to relieve herself in front of the others, and she has to be
lashed until she complies.

We do not even have the right to dehydrate to save our dignity.

Making the need to urinate grow more intense, there the sound of yet
another rainstorm outside. I hate the jungle.

Then night falls, and with the fading light my pain finally begins to
fade, but I still feel despair.

I had felt that I had been making progress with Kurtz, and our
relationship had changed into something unique on Gor. In this
assumption, I have been misguided.

When I am released in the morning I want to go straight to his hut and
teach him by demanding the key to my collar, but I am driven with swats
of the whip towards the classroom and must obey my owners.

There we all are kneeling, and answering the same questions.

“What are you?”

“I am a slave girl.”

“What is your purpose?”

“To please men.”

Udumi looks insistently at me when it is my turn to answer.

“What are you?”

“I am a slave girl,” I say, and I understand the truth of it now.

“What is your purpose?”

“To please men,” I tell her mournfully, believing that also.

Freshly-branded, we shift uncomfortably as we rest on our heels, trying
to ease the pain in sore thighs.

It might be expected that our branding would be enough to cope with, but
there is a new humiliation prepared for us today.

At some point during the night, a vast mirror has been brought into the
classroom. It almost fills one wall, floor to ceiling. We are made to
disrobe and then kneel before this mirror in silent contemplation of
ourselves in the position of pleasure slaves.

The psychology is again crude and obvious, but effective. How can one
not accept the truth of their slavery when it is there in front of them?

Udumi walks up and down the line, using her lash on any girl who breaks
eye contact with her own image.

I study my reflection intently, letting the sight fuel my righteous
anger.

Last time I knelt like this, before a mirror in the position of a
pleasure slave, I was in the mountains of the Sardar.

I had just been transformed. Then I was a free woman, imagining myself
as a slave. Now I truly am a slave.

Back in the Sardar I could not believe what a beautiful woman I had
become. But the body crafted for my by the Priest Kings has only grown
in desirability through slave training.

Aurore’s posture is even better than it was. She kneels to present her
body completely instinctively. Toning of my muscles in response to
dancing and the whip has made me look more nubile.

I hold up my chin, so the collar of slave steel that has been locked
round my throat for so many weeks is clearly visible.

My eyes flick down to the slave brand at my thigh. It is angry red,
still protesting at the violation of my flesh, but soon it will heal and
fade to a pale colour similar to my skin.

My body looks superb. Aurore’s breasts are full and pert, nipples
begging for a man’s caress. Between my legs my sex, now red-silk, pleads
to be filled.

I am downhearted about my situation but despite the black mood I still
respond to the view by growing aroused, just as I did last time I
observed myself in this manner.

I wonder how Aurore might look from the back. One of the negatives of
being inside this body is being unable to enjoy a rear view of myself.

At my left side kneels Ailsa, once a Taluna, wild and free as the
animals of the jungle. Looking at this line of naked women with male
eyes, I note that she is perhaps the only one close to me in beauty.

Ailsa is also collared in slave steel, and she too wears a fresh brand
on her thigh. She will never return to leadership of a tribe in the
forest, even if she escapes from this place. Women will not follow one
marked to show she was weak enough to fall slave to men.

Rather than hate me for reducing her to this condition, Ailsa seems to
cling to me. It is not unknown that a newly collared female slave seeks
out the companionship of a more experienced woman who she can view as a
mother figure.

Perhaps this has been the case with her.

Ailsa too stares at her body in the mirror. Unable to look away, she can
do nothing but accept the image of herself as slave.

She is magnificent, a living challenge to men to prove themselves strong
enough to tame her and make her theirs. Women such as her cannot realise
the power their bodies can provoke.

I desire her very much.

What would she do if I tried to touch her in passion? Making a man like
me into a female slave is cruelty itself – I am constantly surrounded by
desirable women, but I can only find sexual gratification in the company
of men.

“Concentrate,” Udumi says from behind me, and my back catches fire as
she touches me with the whip. “Look at yourself, and know that you are a
slave.”

“Yes Mistress,” I say, and gazing into the glass I once again
contemplate what I have become.

31 – I learn of the mutability of everything

“How much for this girl?” the fat slaver asks.

He is standing over me, and I almost start with fright.

“Aurore is not for sale,” Chiron answers. “See that purple ribbon at her
collar? That indicates she is the Ubar’s girl.”

“Pity,” he says, and moves down the line.

“Mind you Sir, the Ubar has not seen her for one week,” Chiron says
maliciously, knowing I’m listening. “I believe he has tired of her, and
soon she will be gifted to others.”

It has indeed been one week. It was one week ago Udumi warned me that we
would soon be sold. It was the day when the grey man visited, and when I
was branded. That was the day all hope was lost.

I wonder if Kurtz is ashamed to face me after letting me endure such
torment, but I have not even been granted the opportunity to question
him about this small detail.

“Buy me, Master,” Nessa is saying to the fat slaver, from a few places
along.

She looks humbly up at him, the fat slaver looks down on her, and I see
Nessa’s appealing eyes widen as she realises she interests him.

“What is your name, girl?” he asks.

“Nessa, if it pleases Master,” she stammers.

“Let me see your body, Nessa,” he commands gently.

She reaches for the disrobing loop at her left shoulder and pulls at it.
Her tunic falls away, and she is open to his examination in all her
naked glory.

Goreans say that only a fool buys a girl clothed.

“Are you trained?” the slaver asks.

“I can cook, and sew, and clean, Master,” she replies. “I am trained in
the services required of a kajira. I can dance and provide pleasure in
the furs.”

She blushes as she says the last part.

“What do you want for this one?” the slaver asks Chiron.

“Ten gold tarn discs,” he answers.

It is the kind of price one would only offer for a well-trained girl,
and Nessa is just such a girl. Over the past months we have become
experienced as slaves, learning the many thousands of subtleties to
acting in a manner that is most pleasing to men.

I shall give just one example of matters I never understood when I was
free – it gives offence to a free person for a slave to present their
back to that person. Upon entering a room, I am therefore taught to
instinctively find a place to stand or kneel where I face all the free
present therein. Free persons in the room would not even be aware I am
considering my position in this manner.

And that is as I said, just one example. There are over one hundred ways
to enter that room even before choosing the location for kneeling.

The fat slaver moves down the line, and Nessa glances sideways at me,
her face anguished. She has grown somewhat attached to her warrior, I
think, and does not wish to be parted from him.

She believes it would be bad luck if she were sold on the day he was
away, raiding across the lake.

What she does not know, but I hopelessly do, is that her life with him
will inevitably soon end anyway. My belief is that it is better she is
sold now, and gets away from this place, before it is engulfed with the
destruction or revolution that approaches like a thunderstorm.

Life goes through settled periods of stasis before sudden upheaval comes
along. It is the times of change that are dangerous, both to men and
women.

“How much is this one?” the fat slaver is asking, indicating one of the
panthers.

“Five silver tarsks,” Chiron says. “This one is new to the collar, and
early in her training. She is still somewhat wild.”

That is an understatement. This girl, a beauty with jet dark hair and
olive skin, is lucky to have escaped the fate of her fellows, and be
permitted a place in the sale line.

Two of the Taluna wait nude in punishment cages. These bamboo cages are
tall and narrow, too small for a captive to sit. However, like the water
cage they are also too wide for the captive to brace themselves between
the sides in order to rest or sleep.

The cages are suspended above the dock, the swinging of the cage making
the captive feel more helpless. In this confinement the panthers must
remain standing for many hours.

Passers-by are encouraged to sport with the women.

This punishment is being dispensed because Ailsa’s group of Taluna were
unhappy with the turn of events that led to them being collared. In the
darkness of the dormitory last night Ailsa was attacked and beaten black
and blue.

Free warriors do not normally interfere with spats and power struggles
between kajirae, but Ailsa’s injuries were sufficiently severe to
temporarily incapacitate her, reducing her usefulness and value.

Thus action was taken by Chiron, and the ringleaders are standing in the
cages with ample opportunity to contemplate their behaviour.

They are not placed there for a set term – rather they will wait until
Chiron decides they are sufficiently broken.

I suspect they will not repeat their mistake.

I was also involved in the disturbance, having done my best to intervene
and protect Ailsa, so I kneel in the line with a few grazes and bruises
about my person.

“Are you sure this redhead is not for sale? She is in the line.”

The fat slaver has returned to stand over me. I look down at my knees.

“She is in place because it is good for women to be exhibited before
men,” Chiron says.

This concurs with a widely held opinion amongst Goreans. Actually the
men in the compound have been encouraged to watch our training whenever
they wish, so we experience the effect we can have on a male.

We therefore frequently train before a small crowd. Dance classes are
particularly popular, as are the sessions where we execute the series of
positions and movements known as slave paces while naked before the
mirror.

To a female who has been sheltered all her life it can boost her
confidence to know herself so desired, and she will subconsciously adopt
the behaviours that make her most pleasing.

I too am more aware of myself when there are masculine eyes watching me.

“What is your name again, slave,” the fat man asks me.

“Aurore, if it pleases Master,” I answer.

“If it is good to be displayed, then disrobe, Aurore,” the fat slaver
commands me.

I might be the Ubar’s girl, but I know better than to disobey.

Without objecting I reach for the rope that ties my camisk at my waist
and unfasten the knot. I lift my only piece of clothing over my head,
and fold it carefully, placing it on the ground at my side.

Naked, I endure his inspection.

“This one is the prize of the group,” the fat slaver says to Chiron.
“Look at her figure. And look how she reacts to being examined.”

My face grows hot with anger and shame. I wish I could cover myself up.

“You have the body of a passion slave, Aurore,” the slaver says to me.
“Were you bred to please men?”

“I am from a village in the Sardar, Master. Near the forbidden places of
the Priest Kings.”

“They must have blessed your birth then,” he says, “to gift you with
such beauty.”

That is truer than he knows.

“When the Ubar is finished with her,” Chiron says in a drawl, “I intend
to have use of her myself before she is sold.”

Oh, lucky me. My future looks better and better.

“What training do you have, Aurore?”

“I too can cook, sew and clean, Master,” I answer. “I am trained to
serve. I have a little training in dancing, but not as much as the other
women.”

Forty slave girls kneel with me in a line along the sunny dockside. The
braziers that drive away the insects are lit. Particularly thick clouds
of smoke occasionally block my view of those girls further down the row.

The slaver moves down the line.

I wait nude under the hot open sky, trained not to replace my clothing
until permitted to do so.

My hair shifts across my face in the breeze and I lift my arms to tidy
it back, noting it has grown longer since my transformation and could do
with trimming to even the ends.

These forty women in the inspection line represent most of the female
population of the compound. The only ones absent are those girls who
belong to a particular male who prohibits them from participation, such
as Udumi, or the girls like Carrie with skills that earn them a
permanent home here.

It takes an ahn to decide on the sales. The fat slaver selects ten
women, including three of the Taluna and most importantly to me, Nessa.

She looks numb with surprise and shock as her collar is unlocked and
removed, in order for her neck to be secured in a new coffle belonging
to the fat slaver.

Chained at the throat, she is joined in a line with the other sold
girls. They all remain stripped, their tunics being the property of the
compound of Kurtz.

She is shaking her head. This is not how it is supposed to end.

Nessa is a romantic at heart, and she has hoped to remain with her
warrior in the compound, or be rescued in some dramatic fashion by he to
whom she was pledged as free companion.

I too am miserable about the unfolding scene. Now I will never see her
again. I have not even heard spoken the name of her new owner.

The slaver moves away to haggle with Chiron. Selection from the display
line apparently being completed, discipline breaks and girls move
forward to spend a last few moments with those they consider friends.

Many of us have tears in our eyes. Even in the inhumanity of slavery it
is impossible not to grow close to one’s companions.

Jaya, Colleen and I comfort the one once known as Lady Nessa.

“My Master, Petrucus,” she pleads to us. “When he returns, you must tell
him I was sold. Tell him it was not my choice.”

“He knows you care for him,” Jaya sooths, stroking Nessa’s hair as if
she’s calming an animal.

“Perhaps he will follow the slaver and come for me,” Nessa says, voice
breaking as she begins to weep.

“Perhaps he will,” Jaya says, her own voice filled with emotion.

I suspect he will not, but I do not tell her. I suspect he has
deliberately absented himself, like someone who has to rehome a beloved
pet and does not want to witness the moment of departure.

“Slaves, back to your work,” Chiron says, and at his command we are
forced away from our friends.

Cracking the whip, the fat slaver’s henchmen drive the line of women
onto his boat, and as she disappears into confinement below decks I take
what will probably be my last look at the Lady Nessa, she who has been
my companion for so many months.

We are an unhappy group in the dormitory that night. In the darkness
there is the sound of women crying as many lament lost friends. But not
all are unhappy. Kajirae can be spiteful creatures.

Nessa’s descriptions of her master’s kindness have not gone unnoticed
and several of the women are considering their prospects at becoming his
chosen.

That man re-joins us next morning when the raiding boat returns.

We are ordered to cheerfully greet its arrival.

A dark skinned woman is lashed to the prow, a pretty girl with
smouldering dark eyes and a frizzy nimbus of hair. She is perhaps a
little short, but she has unusually large breasts for her frame.

These are presented nicely for my view, as her back has been arched to
fit the prow of the boat.

“I present the Lady Rehema,” says the blonde haired warrior with a sweep
of his arm. “I have a mind to take her for my own. Welcome her to the
compound of Kurtz.”

One of the women who hoped for promotion to his favourite is displeased
at this news.

“Slave!” she taunts the Lady Rehema in a loud voice.

With low spirits I back away from the crowd, and when no-one is watching
I slip away back to the pens.

That afternoon the rain comes in yet again, and this time it rains for a
week without stopping.

32 – Discovery in the marshes

When the monsoon rain stops, Ailsa and I are sent to gather bundles of
the burning herb that drives away the insects. This is usually a daily
chore in the compound, but the unending downpour has kept us all inside,
while making it impossible to light the braziers.

It is a delight to finally be away from the stockade, and in the
panther’s company. My spirits start to lift, even though the mud has
turned into a quagmire and our progress is slow. The sun has broken
through and the marshes seem to steam.

An iridescent butterfly so colourful as to appear unreal moves from
flower to flower across the reed bed, looking for nectar.

We dally about our task, exploring long after we have gathered a
sufficient quantity of the herb.

“Look,” Ailsa says at one point, trying to bend down as she indicates a
small purple flower growing in the dampness of the marsh.

To reduce Ailsa’s chance of escape she is chained to me by three lengths
of slave steel, linking collar to collar; left wrist to left wrist; and
right wrist to right wrist.

I have to crouch down with her so she has enough slack to pick the
bloom.

“This is a brandius flower,” she says, and holds it to her thigh so I
can see the similarity in form.

“If you dry this flower out, the petals can be chewed, or brewed into a
tea,” she explains. “The drug has a relaxing effect in small doses, but
larger amounts produce hallucinations.”

The flower is discarded and we continue.

We pass by the water cage where once I was kept and when I look down on
my former prison my gorge rises with nausea.

The level of the lake has risen by a foot in the monsoon rain, lifting
the surface above the top of the cage. The bloated corpse of a man is
pressed on the underside of the bamboo grid, face upwards, looking for
salvation that will never come.

“They forgot him, in the rain,” I say, clutching Ailsa’s arm as my head
spins. “Let’s get away from here.”

The only place we avoid is the prohibited building where the male slaves
are housed, and the gang of male slaves themselves. We see them from a
distance though, caked in filth as they shovel mud onto a gigantic
earthwork rampart.

Lately the malaise that had afflicted the compound has healed, and work
is underway to seal the incomplete section of the outer wall. Kurtz has
been seen more about the compound.

If the warnings given by the grey man are true, it is a good thing that
military discipline is being restored. I need to warn my master in case
Chiron has not reported the conversation, but I haven’t been permitted
to serve the Ubar since my session of eavesdropping.

Ailsa and I wander further from the fortifications. We do not take care
to watch for tarn attack. If someone comes, it is of no matter. One
master is as cruel and brutal as another.

About a pasang distance from the compound we discover the site of the
Kurii landing ground, a broad raised mound of grassy earth higher than
the surrounding reeds.

“This looks like a landing place for tarns,” Ailsa says, reading the
land with the instinct of a forest girl, “but I don’t understand why the
grass has been burnt. It’s the wrong shape for a fire.”

At the edge of the landing circle two thick wooden posts are sunk into
the ground, about six feet apart.

The purpose of these posts is to secure female human beings between
them, as proven by the shackles fixed to the wood and the diameter of
their bracelets.

I crouch down between them. The grass looks black with bloodstains, and
I recoil in horror for a second time. This is a place of sacrifice, an
altar to dark gods.

I can’t comprehend the terror a slave chained here to be a meal for
beasts must experience.

It makes me feel cold, and I have to move away.

“I think we should go back,” I say, but Ailsa has spotted something
else.

“What’s that?”

A second set of wooden posts have been positioned a short distance away,
ready to inflict further forms of suffering.

This beam has its top about ten feet above the grass. Fixed to that top
of that post is a horizontal crossbar, about six feet in length, so the
whole construction forms the shape of a capital “T”.

We close in on this object, and only on passing by do we realise we were
facing the back of the construction. A man has been bound to the front
of the crossbar by his outstretched arms, so he hangs, body weight
suspended by his wrists.

It is the one known as Barolios, who was of the warriors.

“Priest Kings have mercy,” I say softly.

I can see he has been much beaten before he was affixed to the post.
Barely an area on his flesh is not bruised, burnt or blooded except for
his genitals, which I can see clearly as he is naked.

His ankles are also lashed together, with a thick hemp-like rope.

I think he is already dead, but as we approach the post with growing
horror, he slowly lifts his head and opens one swollen eye.

There is no recognition in the vague gaze, and I understand. He’s never
seen me unveiled, and does not recognise me.

“Barolios – it’s Aurore,” I say, rushing forward the last few paces
between us.

I place my hand on the giant muscle of his broad thigh, instinctively
wanting to give the comfort of contact.

“Lady Nessa?” he asks me. His voice is barely audible, a croaked
whisper.

“Alive, but slave, like me,” I tell him, and his head slumps back into
unconsciousness as if that news is a defeat, not the victory of
survival.

“Yesterday she was sold,” I say, not sure if he can hear me.

“We must free him,” I urge Ailsa. “Help me reach the bindings – he is
too high for me to aid on my own.”

But the panther backs away until the chains between us pull at my limb,
shaking her head all the way.

“Leave him,” she urges.

This the brave Ailsa. How can she not help me? I want to slap her for
her timidity. I could cut him down easily – I even have a curved knife
meant for harvesting herbs that I could use for the task. We could
escape and go after the slaver’s vessel to liberate Nessa.

But I can do nothing unless she lifts me up to those bindings. Ailsa is
stronger than me. I can’t even raise my arm without her permitting it.

“Help me,” I urge her with rising temper, but she continues to shake her
head.

“You don’t understand,” she says. “It is too late to save him. If you
want to show him kindness, speed his passage. Give him the death of
pleasure.”

“What’s that?” I ask. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“Make a cut in his manhood, deep and near the base,” she says. “Then
arouse him with your touch, and he will bleed out swiftly.”

I’ve never heard such a barbaric idea in my life, and I look at her
aghast.

“Leave him, then,” Ailsa says with irritation, reading my reactions, and
she turns towards the reeds jerking me even closer to her.

I thought Barolios was unaware of all this debate, but he surprises me
by croaking out more words.

“Go, slave,” he says in a voice that is not kind. “Enough blood is
already on your hands.”

Ailsa turns back round at this, as surprised as me.

“Why am I at fault?” I can’t help asking.

“All die because of you, omen of evil,” he whispers. “They told me my
death would be a meaningless sacrifice. The barge had to be taken at all
costs, but to seize you, not Lady Nessa.”

“That’s not true,” I say, shaking my head. I am the one backing away
from him now. “They put her at first prow. She was the objective.”

“All disguise,” Barolios whispers. “We would have been at our
destination by now. Lady Nessa would have been with her companion. They
told me you boarded the barge because you needed it to be captured, and
your objective was to yield to Kurtz.”

Ailsa is looking at me with wide eyes.

“You came here because you wanted to be a slave?” she says, aghast.

“It’s not how it sounds,” I try to explain.

“If you hadn’t fought me I would be free,” she accuses. “And you were
only here for me to fight because you craved the collar.”

“Keep away from her,” Barolios warns. “Death follows behind this one.”

Unfortunately the panther is unable to heed the warning. Only Chiron can
release the shackles that join us, and he is right back at the compound.

Instead Ailsa pulls against the chains so hard that I lose my footing
and stumble into her.

“Don’t speak to me again, slave,’ she says, and we have a frosty and
silent walk back through the reeds.

33 – In which many truths are learnt.

“The Ubar has sent for me,” I tell the guard at the entrance to my
master’s hut.

This statement is entirely a lie, but I have clad myself in pleasure
silk to try and gain admission, and woman so-dressed can distract a man
from his duties. After a longing glance at my figure the guard does not
question my reasons and lets me enter.

The silk grazes my body as I pass within. It is the first time I have
worn such a garment.

Gor recognises two main designs of slave silks. The most common is a
tunic-like garment, similar to the clothing of Roman servants, coming
down to thigh length and fastening with a slip knot at one shoulder
designed for easy removal.

The desert regions and the south favour the version I wear now, a top
formed of two triangles to cover the breasts, like a bikini, and two
narrow strips of cloth for the lower body, which reach from the hips
down to the ankles. These strips thus cover the pudenda and the
buttocks, while leaving the girl’s legs completely bare.

As with the Northern clothing, the silks are fastened with string bows,
designed for easy removal.

Far more of my body, Aurore’s body, is on display than is hidden – a
show of exquisite female flesh. These are about provocation rather than
concealment. My legs are bare; my arms are bare; my shoulders are bare;
my belly is bare; my feet are bare; and my back is bare.

They are simply the most erotic thing I have ever worn, but I have more
important things to think about than being sexy right now.

I find my master sitting cross-legged on his furs, staring into the
distance. He does not look well, but I don’t give a tarsk about him.

He looks up when I enter.

“Aurore,” he says, not even seeming to notice my attire. “I hope you
have recovered from your marking.”

I brush aside the civilities and go straight for the attack.

“I saw the warrior named Barolios, Master,” I demand. “He was once of
the party of Lady Nessa, she who I was travelling with when I was
taken.”

He shrugs, as if this is not important news.

“Barolios said that I was the target of the raid, and not Lady Nessa. Is
that true, Master?”

Kurtz, the Ubar of the compound, considers for a moment. I think I’m
going to get one of those “curiosity is not becoming in a kajira, blah,
blah, blah,” responses, but I do not.

“It is true.” He says.

I feel faint. It is true. I am responsible for all of it. The slaves and
brave men who were killed on the barge. Nessa and her ladies being sold
into slavery. All my fault.

“Why Master?”

He considers again.

“You know from our earlier debates that since my interrogation of the
Kurii, their accusation has tortured me. Have I committed my acts of
terror in the name of the good Priest Kings, only to be actually working
on the side of evil?”

He looks at me directly.

“You must understand I am not a good man, in the view of your Urth
culture, Aurore. I have killed many men, and taken their women as my
slaves. You would call these war crimes.”

“But the Gorean world has encouraged such actions of me. This is the
culture passed down to us by the Priest Kings, that teaches men and
women from birth of man’s place as the master, and woman’s natural place
as slave and victim.”

“Despite my upbringing, I resolved to act no further for the Nest until
I had tested the truth of this morality.”

“Of course I could not test it with the men. The men of Gor are
certainly happier than the women. The question that troubled me, along
with scholars on this world and your own, is whether women are
eventually happier when they accept themselves in their submissive
state.”

“Women are sentient beings, and any intelligent free creature will
initially resist the will of another being imposed, but that resistance
does not make the imposition automatically wrong, if the outcome is
better for both.”

“When you were collared I called you catalyst, and that is the truth.
Much rests on you, Aurore.”

Tension is building in me, tension and dread, like I’m slipping to the
edge of a cliff and about to go over.

“You came here believing your mission was to return me to the service of
the Priest Kings, or eliminate me. Those in the Nest believed that only
a woman with the mind of a man could complete this task.”

“In fact, I planted this idea in the Nest. It was my plan, mine, and not
that of the Priest Kings, that a man should be transformed into a woman,
and delivered to me in slavery.”

“You were brought here so I could observe someone experiencing female
slavery, without the cultural conditioning present in every other
woman.”

“What I wanted to learn was this. If the female body you have worn so
entrancingly effected you, so you accepted that your happiest state and
most natural place is as a slave, then the philosophy of Gor is correct.
We have proven that slavery is where all females should rightly be.”

“If you continue to reject woman’s place as a slave, then you prove that
the culture created by the Priest Kings on this planet is barbaric. I
decided that I would fight for female liberation, even if that means
alliance with the kur.”

“Either way, my former life must be lost. I cannot go back to being the
man I was before.”

I am over that cliff, aghast at his explanation. There must have been
better ways to argue this point than transforming a male soldier into a
woman and leaving me here in something like a slave Leia costume.

“You’re crazy after all,” I accuse him. “All those people died – on the
boat; the ones you tortured and returned to the Nest; all the others
that were taken slave; just to test an idea?”

“Not just an idea,” he says determinedly, “an idea that effects the
future of Gor. Many more lives have been sacrificed for causes of less
importance than this. The culture of a planet is at stake.”

I shake my head.

“People have died,” I insist, “You think getting your answer is all that
matters, not the means of reaching that answer?”

“That is the tragedy of being an Ubar, and the decisions that face us.”
He says gravely. “I have committed many unfortunate acts in the name of
my cause, but that is the burden I accept for victory.”

I look scornfully at him when he says this.

“A leader from my world named Adolf Hitler said victory is all that
matters, not morality,” I retort. “One day I’ll tell you how that worked
out for him.”

I don’t know if he’s heard of Hitler, but at least this seems to get
through his sanctimonious armour.

“You forget your place, kajira,” he growls, and grasps for the whip. “Do
not question or insult me. You do not have the right.”

My temper is up, so I boldly face him.

“Go on, hit me,” I say. “That will really prove that you’re right. Hit
me, just here across my face.”

I present Aurore’s delicate right cheek. Kurtz goes red as if he’s about
to explode.

“Never has a woman vexed me like you do,” he says, casting the whip
aside out of his reach.

We look at each other in silence for a moment, in mutual exasperation.

“So, I can’t wait to hear what you have learnt from this experiment,
Master.” I say sarcastically.

“Thinks have not progressed as I intended,” he admits in a deflated
voice, ignoring my tone of insolence. “You have not been truly treated
like a female slave, so your experience has not been representative of
other women.”

“In return for this uneven treatment you have responded ambiguously. In
some ways you are slave, in some ways you are not slave.”

“I should have ordered you to be raped the moment you arrived, and then
treated you completely without mercy.”

Seriously?

“And why didn’t you treat me so cruelly, mighty Ubar?” I ask
caustically.

“I developed tender feelings towards you,” he says, “and did not wish to
see you suffer.”

I am about to reply but I am stopped as effectively as hitting a wall. I
thought we liked each other as intellectual sparring partners, and there
was certainly physical lust as sexual companions, but it never crossed
my mind there might be even more than that.

My mouth is hanging open, so I close it.

“But you know I was once a male,” I stammer.

“I showed unforgivable weakness,” he says, as if that truth was
irrelevant. “So my treatment of you switched between kindness, and
determination to treat you as slave.”

“You showed such courage, Aurore,” he continues, almost pleading. “It
was inspiring to me. You knew the consequences when you agreed to the
transformation, and yet you bravely continued.”

He looks at my body, like he’s been in the desert and I am water.

“Only you amongst women know the power a female such as you can have
over men. What no-one anticipated was that the beauty you have would be
combined with such exceptional spirit, making you far more provocative.
Desire overrode my judgement.”

“I wanted you, but I could not bring myself to take you by force, so I
offered you the right to approach me on your own terms.”

I have no idea how to respond. I find myself blushing.

“Anyway, you deserve to know how this change to you was brought about.
My most loyal man, Telisio, was sent to plant the idea in the Nest,”
Kurtz resumes. “When the transformation was a success he travelled with
you, noting as much of your early reactions to being a female as he
could.”

“Your other companion, the warrior known as Rorius, grew suspicious of
Telisio’s excessive interest in you, but did not deduce the precise
nature of the relationship. As you surmised months ago, Telisio arrived
shortly before you did, to warn of the approach of the barge.”

“He was watching, one of the people in the crowd, when your ship entered
the compound, but you did not know it.”

“We had expected you to beg for the collar immediately on the dockside,
and planned that Telisio would reveal himself to you. Disheartened at
this betrayal, you would accept your slavery more quickly.”

“But your comments about my morality angered me greatly, and I sent you
to the cage before you had chance to discover his presence. You seem
gifted with the ability to provoke emotion in me, both positive and
negative.”

I can’t let this go. “People died,” I insist. “Barolios was crucified
yesterday.”

Kurtz grimaces.

“Gor is a barbaric world,” he said. “Leadership and survival require
difficult choices. There is not always room for mercy. He did not bend
to our will, and would have been a threat to the people here had he
lived.”

I look up at him. Could I reciprocate with feelings for this man as he
seems to care for me? I can’t decide if his motives are incredible
bravery, or if he’s a grade-A psycho nut-job. He seems to have the
emotional maturity of a teenage boy at times.

I sink down to the floor, leaning back against the raised dais that is
his sleeping place, and I put my head in my hands. The strip of silk
rests between my thighs, just about hiding my dignity.

“Look at me,” I moan. “I’ve been transformed into this, all for a high-
school social science project.”

My eyes drop to Aurore’s scantily clad divine figure, as they’ve done so
many times since I awoke in the Nest.

“Look at me,” I moan again.

In the female body created for me, and the clothing intended to display
it, the results of this experiment are breath-taking.

Thousands, perhaps millions, of women through Gorean history have failed
to resist being awoken by the touch of silk, and Aurore is no stronger
than them. Silks are designed to enhance the girl’s beauty by making the
wearer constantly conscious of her body, unable to deny that she is
female, and a sexual being.

Considering there is so little coverage, I can feel every area of
contact. The smooth fabric stokes like a lover’s caress. My nipples,
grazed steadily by the lush fabric, have decided to stay permanently
erect, with the nubs impossible to disguise through the thin layer. The
swath resting between my ivory legs brushes against the rounded contours
of my pudenda. Behind me, the other piece sits on the curves of my
feminine buttocks.

“I have no answer for you on your little experiment,” I admit
mournfully. “I feel beautiful, but demeaned. A part of me is slave, a
part not-slave. I have been blissfully happy, and miserable here. So I
cannot tell you this is right for all women, but it might not be wrong
for some of them.”

After a pause I add, “This is a military standard screw-up.”

“Indeed,” agrees Kurtz. “Things have gone more awry with my plans than
you know. Loyal Telisio is missing. I dispatched him after your arrival,
to update the agents of the Priest Kings in Port Schendi, and he never
arrived. I am not the only threat on this river.”

“These threats grow in strength, and this little ubarate will be
absorbed before another could arrive, either by the forces of Bila
Haruma, or in the reprisals of the Kurii.”

“You know about that?” I ask.

“Chiron can be trusted completely,” Kurtz states, “even though his
dedication is tested by him reacting to you in the same way that I do.”

We look at each other for a moment.

“Whatever the outcome will be, it is the time for you to leave here, my
precious Aurore. Under either scenario, you will fall slave to another
man, and your chance of a life on Urth is forever lost.”

“You must return right away to the Sardar,” Kurtz says. “You have done
enough for the Priest Kings, and should not be involved in the aftermath
of my demise, or attempting to save the rest of Gor’s women. I will
remain here and decide whether to surrender the compound to Bila Haruma,
or let Chiron sacrifice me to the others.”

My argument with him is set aside. I can’t just let the man who’s told
me he cares for me sit here waiting for death.

“Come with me,” I urge him, “we will flee together.”

Kurtz shakes his head.

“There must be a sacrifice, to whoever takes over,” he says. “Otherwise
there will be reprisals against those who remain. You might be permitted
to escape, whereas I will not.”

I am protesting but he silences me.

“You must go downriver to Port Schendi. Seek out a free women of the
physician caste, named Coraline. She will aid you in returning to the
Nest.”

I am hesitating.

“Go, Aurore,” he commands. “There is a canoe hidden in the reeds, just
beyond the landing site.”

He is almost pushing me from his hut.

“Go! Because if you do not go soon, I will never be able to part with
you,” he says frantically, and for a moment I can believe he cares for
me. He kisses me tenderly on the forehead, and my body blazes with
desire.

I want to melt into his arms one last time, but it is too late.

The implacable face of the Ubar descends once again, and he is the man
driven by animal instinct. I am pushed from the hut into the dawn light.

“We shall never meet again,” he says, and I am inclined to believe him.

34 – With others, I depart the compound

Clad in my skimpy pleasure silks, I pad in bare feet across one of the
jetties. I glance across to the gap in the outer wall that leads out
towards the marshes, and my freedom.

It’s not even guarded.

I could walk over there, this very second, and leave. The braziers
produce smoke so thick they reduce the visibility. No one will see me.

I turn my back to my escape, and cross the network of docks that ring
the outer wall, circling towards the building that contains the pens.

I have no intention of going without liberating Udumi, and also Ailsa.
Some good could come of my time here, if I can save them. A change of
outfits would be a good idea as well. I don’t relish the idea of walking
into Schendi Port dressed in pleasure silk.

My spirits are in turmoil. Freedom is before me, something too wonderful
to contemplate. But Kurtz is sitting back there behind me, alone inside
his hut, waiting patiently for someone to come and kill him.

Perhaps I should have done it myself, using the same dagger he offered
me so long ago. Death at Aurore’s femme fatale hands must be better than
the alternatives that lie before him.

I stop, half turning back, almost ready to return to his hut and carry
out the deed. Then I press forward again.

He has sat here for months, waiting for me to arrive and solve his
dilemma. Then everything went wrong, apparently because he developed
feelings for me.

No man has ever said they cared for me as a woman before. It’s a heady
experience. He has risked much to protect me. How am I supposed to react
to that?

He is also to blame for all that has happened. If it wasn’t for him,
Aurius would be on Urth, of little use to the Priest Kings. There would
be no slave brand on my thigh, and no collar around my neck.

It is time to abandon him. Knowing when to cut one’s losses is
important, for a soldier.

I pass the punishment cages where the panthers stood. They are now
empty, the girls whom were captive there being most remorseful after two
days on their feet.

My hand brushes the bamboo as I pass them on my way to the pens.

I look up and see the guards are bunched together, conversing as they
watch something across the lake. They are not even looking at the
opening in the wall.

This will be easier than I think.

A stack of packing crates are close to the edge of the wharf, along with
tar-coated coils of the thick rope used to secure ships.

I am cutting behind this stack of crates when it happens.

Arms grab me from behind, multiple sets of arms, and a cloth is held
over my face. I am struggling before I know what’s happing, but there
are many of them.

Then I inhale instinctively, trying to scream, and my lungs are filled
with the fumes from some kind of chemical. It makes my head swim.

Someone is trying to abduct me.

Don’t panic, use your wits, I tell myself.

Rather than try to break out forwards – a method which is destined to
fail with my weak body, I propel myself backwards against my assailants.

My head connects with someone’s face, and I hear a female voice cry out
with pain. At the same time my bare back presses into a chest – a female
chest.

She is scantily covered – either a slave, like my attack from Udumi on
the first night, or a panther. I throw my head back several more times,
trying to break the mystery woman’s nose, but my attacker is wise now
and dodges my attempts.

“Sleen, she’s a fighter,” she curses.

The grip of hands on me remains just as tight, but I’m starting to
weaken now, and gradually I realise I’m not going to escape them.

I panic, but that only makes me inhale the strong smelling fumes more
deeply. The world of Gor is starting to become unreal, and there is a
strange ringing in my ears.

Then comes despair. I am lost. Everything is lost. All this work and
suffering is for nothing.

“We have the one we want,” another female voice says with relief.

The sound of her voice speaking is my final companion as I fall from the
universe and into oblivion.

Olga’s note:

Part 3 will end the story (unless this is a bluff and someone has just
finished Aurore off) but as I mentioned last time – if there’s a Gorean
plotline you’re desperate to see – post me a nice review to tell me and
I’ll do what I can.

Deleted Scenes

Olga’s note: I’m never sure how patient you’re going to be out there in
reader-land, so Olga tradition is to include a section for any deleted
scenes I write, then you can create your own personal redux version of
the story if you wish.

14b – The aftermath of battle

Olga’s note: I wrote this long chapter early in drafting part 2, which
was going to sit between chapters 14 and 15. I wanted to describe in
retrospect the dramatic moment of Aurore being stripped by Kurtz’ men.
This chapter also explained the time gap between the raid on the barge,
and the arrival at Kurtz compound next morning.

I like this section, but including it means there are four consecutive
chapters dealing with the degradation of the captives, which I felt
overemphasised the point that it’s not nice being a female prisoner on
Gor.

As our ship progresses along the swamp infested side of the lake, I try
to return to the images stored in my cave, but more intense memories
rise to occupy me. I am blocked by replaying the events of the previous
night.

I remember that while the Lady Nessa’s barge was disappearing forever
beneath the waters, our four longship scale canoes moved upstream, away
from the area of the river surrounded by cliffs.

I made this short journey, my first in the company of Kurtz’ men, bound
hand and foot, and down on the floor of one of the vessels. I was left
lying in a puddle of water. My robes of concealment absorbed it like
litmus, adding to my misery.

It turned out that only a short distance up river was a beach-like area,
where the raiding group grounded their canoes and contrived to spend the
rest of the night resting, treating the wounded and examining their
winnings.

Onto this beach I was dumped in an undignified manner, lifted by my
bound wrists and ankles. It was strange to be handled in such a way –
Aurius was heavy and muscular, but Aurore could be lifted by a man with
little effort.

Every one of the captives received this treatment, regardless of gender,
until we all lay parallel on the beach, bound and lined-up side by side
like matches in a box.

“We are the men of Kurtz, lady,” the warrior had said affably to me last
night when he’d tied me up. He too had effortlessly thrown me over his
shoulder and carried me across onto one of the longships.

These were the men of Kurtz.

I was running the risk of drawing attention to myself by looking around,
but occasionally I had to lift my head. I was in enemy territory.
Reconnaissance was as instinctive as breathing.

A clean-shaven blonde-haired warrior seemed to be commanding the
operation. He was young to be the senior officer, but that sometimes
happens when someone has exceptional ability.

I studied him carefully.

The tropical climate had tanned him to a beautiful bronze colour. He
would have looked like a Scandinavian back-packer, were he not clad in
the raiment of a Gorean warrior, with a heavy-looking war axe hanging
from his belt.

He did not give us the courtesy of his name.

The only tactical threat to his raiding party was by a suicidal
rebellion from the male captives, so they were dealt with immediately. I
would have done the same thing, were I one of the raiders rather than
part of their prize haul.

In their bonds the captive men were stripped, to make certain that none
carried hidden weapons. Then the men were linked into a long coffle,
joined together by chains running from neck to neck and wrist to wrist.

I did not blame them for surrendering without attempt to save the women.
They would likely be sold on or put to work in one of the chain gangs
working on Kurtz’ fortifications. An arduous and dangerous life lay
ahead, but one where they had a chance of eventual liberation and return
to a normal life.

Life can be better than death, even for those such as them.

Barolios, he who had been chief amongst Lady Nessa’s men, was the only
exception to this handling.

The giant warrior had not surrendered, and had only been defeated by
knocking him unconscious.

On the beach he was awake, and apparently he was no more in favour of
giving in.

On his belly his ropes were replaced for male slave shackles, configured
with bracelets at the tips of a short “X” of chains. In this fashion his
limbs were secured close together behind him, and he was thus unable to
straighten his body or stand.

Then the enemy warriors stripped him, teasing him and slapping his
incredibly muscular naked buttocks like he was a joint of beef.

At one point he was flipped onto his back, and one of the female slaves
ordered to arouse him. Barolios struggled, berserk at this humiliation.

He had a fine warrior’s body, straining so hard at the ropes that blood
appeared at his wrists. It was wise of them to keep him restrained.

We watched these events with growing dread from our line in the sand.
With no threat then remaining from the men, they could take their time
with the rest of the booty.

Inanimate objects were dealt with first.

A wooden chest containing the financial element of Lady Nessa’s dowry
was counted and retained. Most of her personal possessions, including
her spare robes and correspondence, were used to fuel the fire.

The keys to the female slave’s collars were in that chest. Thus, the
human beings changed hands as easily as transferring the key to a man’s
belt. Those female slaves that were in her party barely paid attention
to this, kneeling unchained and despondent on the sand.

Ceramic jugs of alcoholic paga recovered from the barge were passed
amongst the men, and drinking began.

Along the line of human matchsticks I could hear Lady Nessa weeping as
the effects of her entire life were casually divided up or destroyed.
Back in Schendi she had said everything would be fine. She was wrong.

She had been on her way to a free companionship, but that would probably
never happen now.

Like me and her other ladies, she lay face down in the sand, still bound
hand and foot.

I wondered if her betrothed companion would come to rescue a miserable
slave, or if he would seek the company of another as consolation for his
loss.

A bottle of Nessa’s expensive perfume was presented to the dark skinned
slave girl, she who infiltrated our group and set fire to the barge.

Udumi, they called her.

She strode about the camp, stark naked, jubilant in her victory.
Exquisite, but deadly. Sometimes I saw her bare feet and ankles pass
just before my face.

With their inhibitions lowered by alcohol, many of the men made good-
humoured lunges at her. Most of these she managed to evade, but one man
grabbed her and kissed her soundly, vigorously groping her rump.

She seemed to be something of a favourite, and was permitted to banter
more freely than is typical in a slave.

Her thigh quite clearly carries the brandius mark – the brand affixed to
Kurtz’s slaves. We should have noticed it before the disaster on the
barge, but no-one pays attention to a naked slave.

Just as I had been dreading, the dispersal of the inanimate objects was
the warm-up act.

The free women captives were the main entertainment that evening, and
much sport did we provide. Four of us were taken: Lady Nessa, her two
ladies in waiting whose names were Coleen and Jaya, and myself.

The man who first captured each one of us was given the honour of
disrobing his victim.

Blondie had taken Lady Nessa personally. Instead of Nessa’s free
companion, Blondie was to be the first man to disrobe her.

“You’re a beauty,” he told her, and while she was still bound he kissed
her fiercely on the mouth. “I would like to keep you for myself.”

The tall bearded man, he who had challenged the defenders to “surrender
or die”, had taken both the Ladies Jaya and Coleen.

For me, was he who first bound me, the one who said, “We are the men of
Kurtz, Lady.”

I was dragged across the sand by him, until I rested on my side with my
head almost in his lap.

He looked older than Aurius was, and he was much older than the female-
me, his hair starting to turn white. But he was still hearty and
physically strong, like every man on Gor was powerful compared to
Aurore.

He would have seemed paternal, were it not for the situation.

My veil was ripped away first. Face stripping, the Goreans call this. It
was only after I felt the hot night air of the jungle on my bare face
that I understood how used to wearing it I’d become.

I looked up at him indignantly, the uncontrollable Aurore blush making
my face flame.

“Oh, what a beauty,” he crowed, “look at those big eyes, and that soft
mouth.”

I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of pleading to remain robed,
so I was stoically silent when he stripped my face, but then I was
pulled up to him and kissed soundly on the lips and I cried out with
surprise.

His stubble was bristly and uncomfortable against my smooth female skin.
His lips were firm against me, and there was nothing I could to do get
away.

It was embarrassing, but even a forced kiss could have been made worse.
It is common on Gor to mark a slave by biting their lip, as an early way
to establish ownership.

My face was held towards the others in turn, so the men could compare us
with their own captives. The other female eyes I saw were red with
tears.

My own tormentor had drawn a long steel dagger from his belt. It looked
razor sharp. He could have killed me in an instant with it, but I was
female, and I knew death was not the fate to be feared.

“Here it comes,” I thought, as he grabbed a handful of the robes at my
shoulders.

On our journey across Gor our campsite had been ambushed. I had been
bound and narrowly avoided being stripped. Then I had been saved by my
companions. This time, Rorius was not there to rescue me.

There was the sound of shredding cloth, as the knife sliced through my
robes. He cut from shoulder to wrist down one sleeve; from shoulder to
wrist down the other.

I was, at that point, still not particularly indecent, having only had
my slim arms bared.

Then came the final dreadful cut, from my neck at the throat down my
chest to my belly, and on and on right down to the hem at my ankles.

With this slicing complete, he could pull away my robe in one easy
movement, and he did just that, like revealing a magic trick.

I was a woman naked before men. The warm night air of the jungle was on
my skin, bared from head to toe.

“Blessed Priest Kings,” my captor said, looking down at me with awe in
his voice, “take a look at this one.”

Other men from the raiding party moved towards me, not unwilling to view
and give their opinions on a naked female.

Over the course of my two lives I have been nude before strangers as
both a male and a female. Being naked as a male is not an enjoyable
experience – if the genitals are inert they look small and pathetic, and
the alternative presentation by a man in an awoken state is even more
embarrassing.

But as a female, the experience of being undressed is possibly more
intimidating.

The men standing above me looked at me in a way I’d never been looked at
before. I wanted the sand of that beach to swallow me up.

My male history made me feel even more vulnerable in my nudity. I knew
just what they were thinking. It was desire, hunger, lust, adoration. I
was a female captive of Gorean men, and I knew there was nothing to
prevent them satisfying their cravings.

Clothes are a protective barrier for a woman, and that was gone from me.
The emptiness between my legs where once there had been a penis was
exposed. Aurore was lying there presenting a set of delightful
defenceless vulnerabilities.

I gazed up at them, waiting for the instant when the frenzy would begin.
But my captor held me close, like he was cuddling a lover, and perhaps
he saved me.

So I was returned to my place in the sand relatively untouched, along
with the other women. I suspected by then there was some prohibition to
raping the captives, but that only delayed the inevitable until we
reached the compound.

Spending the rest of the night in this manner we were not much
physically assaulted, although I was occasionally groped, and sometimes
intimately so.

We were greatly mocked however. The slave, Udumi, was one of those who
enjoyed taunting us. She had not dressed.

“These women seem a sorry lot to me,” she said, “only good for use as
domestic slaves.”

At one point she crouched down next to Nessa, and put her hand on the
woman’s naked hip.

“Do not fear though, ugly one,” Udumi said to her. “There are more men
than women in the compound, so there are not enough women to share the
furs, and it is likely some man will take pity on you.”

When it was my turn, she knelt before my head, and stroked my long red
hair away from my cheek.

I had a view right the way up her lustrous ebony thighs, but she had her
knees together so her sex was concealed from me.

“A night with me would be something special, you said,” she whispers, as
intimately as pillow talk. “I think you’ll find it is you who provides
nights of pleasure.”

She strokes my naked buttock.

“Although you are not very bright, you have a body that is pleasing to
men. You are likely to be much used.”

I could do nothing to intervene as my robes were cast into the campfire,
along with those of the other women, emphasising that our clothing would
be, forever lost to us.

Silently I watched it burn.

I had no idea when I would next be able to conceal my beauty, if ever.

Our miserable night progressed towards dawn.

The goods being successfully sorted, the men were beginning to manage
the reloading onto the longships.

I rested my forehead in the sand, conserving my energy for whatever
horrors awaited me, until I saw the sandaled feet of the blonde leader
standing between Lady Nessa and myself.

Behind him was the bearded warrior who had taken Jaya and Coleen.

“The raid has been a great success,” bearded man said to blondie. “Very
little loss of life.”

They had not considered those who had died below the decks of the barge,
or the warriors that gave their lives trying to defend us.

“I think we should celebrate this victory,” the bearded one continues.
“With Him being unwell morale is low, and a triumph would be good for
the men.”

There is a pause while the blonde one thinks, and I sense him smile.

“Take this one and this one,” he says, pointing with a foot towards Lady
Nessa and then myself, “and lash them to the prows.”

20a – In which some debts are collected

Olga’s note: This is an unpleasant scene describing Aurore enduring a
flogging. I liked the rhythm the counting gave to the writing, but I
felt it was too dark for the tone of the rest of the story, and for a
piece of Gor fanfiction. John Norman rarely provides very explicit
description of scenes such as sex, torture and branding, unless it is
necessary for the narrative, and I don’t want to break with his
approach.

There is also plenty of graphic violence already in the branding scene,
which is much more critical for the narrative.

However I have sympathy with those of you who crave the more masochistic
elements of kajira life, so you can put this back in your version of the
story if you wish.

My breasts press into the wood of the whipping post.

It is a wide thing, the diameter of the trunk of one of the jungle
trees, planted vertically into the ground.

One of my arms is either size of it, as if I’m hugging the thing like an
environmental protestor, only my arms are held in place by metal
fixtures rather than being free to release my hold.

Thus I stand against the post, my forehead resting against it, my back
and my rump presented out to the world.

I am naked, of course, as is expected in this situation.

“One,” I say, counting the number in Gorean.

Immediately my back explodes with pain. It’s nothing like the punishment
lashings I received from Udumi. If they were the pain of getting too
close to a candle, this is touching a hot iron in comparison.

I was hoping to remain silent, at least retaining my dignity for a
couple of strikes, but when the lash bites I’m unable to keep from
briefly crying out.

“Two,” I say.

This time it’s worse. Oh Priest Kings help me – that hurts.

The noise I emit from the second strike is more of a scream.

I try to mentally escape, but the cave I am trained to use to endure
suffering is no good here, and being forced to count traps me in the
present. The attacks are too sudden to prepare myself mentally,
switching from zero to infinite in an instant.

Facing the post, I can’t see when Chiron is going to strike. I only have
my counting to rely on. I could hold off saying the next number, but
that might only draw out the inevitable.

“Three,” I say.

The blow is lower down this time, across my defenceless buttocks and the
backs of my thighs. I’m trying instinctively to lift my feet as a shield
to my rump, but they are bound too, my ankles lashed together at a ring
close to the ground. My body twists and distorts in the bonds.

Chiron, no, why did he hit me there? Is he trying to spread the pain
more completely across my body?

Tears are starting to fill my eyes. I’d vowed not to cry, but I’m not
sure I’ll be strong enough to hold to that promise.

I don’t want to speak again, but I must.

“Four,” I say.

The lash is across my backside again, and once more I have to scream.

Think about anything else but the pain, Aurore, I tell myself, but I
can’t go through with this good intention. I my mind is trying to
describe what is happening, rather than avoid it. It reminds me that
what I am enduring is not a lash, but lashes. Chiron is using a many-
stranded slave whip.

This whip is an example of the designs intended to punish women, hurting
as much as possible without doing permanent damage. It is not like the
bladed whip-knife of Port Kar, and neither is it like a coiled Indiana
Jones bullwhip. Those devices are likely to permanently scar.

Count, Aurore, I urge myself.

“Five,” I sob in terrified anticipation, and the pain explodes across my
back again I push my torso into the post, arching my spine, as if that
trunk of wood could somehow hide me.

Priest Kings help me, we’re only half way. I am to be given nine lashes
as punishment, and a tenth to teach me that I am a slave.

“Six,” I say before I can stop myself, and my voice dissolves into
another scream before I’ve finished saying the number.

As the pain fades I realise I’m crying, and I can’t seem to control the
weeping.

“Seven” I blubber.

This time my legs give way, and when I’m able to regain awareness of my
surroundings I realise the shackles at my wrists are supporting my
weight, holding my body against the post.

On shaking legs I manage to stand.

“Eight,” I cry, and then scream as my skin ignites once again.

I look around me. People are moving around the compound, some ignoring
my punishment altogether, and some standing to watch.

Genuine sadism is very rare on Gor, as the world provides sufficient
outlets for venting of aggression and passion. There is no need to take
revenge on women, as so many men on Urth do.

However the sight of a desirable naked female, her body moving against a
slave post, is appealing to many.

“Nine.”

It is barely a whisper, but Chiron hears and the whip falls on my rump
once again.

Anything would be better than this – feed me to thalarion or plunge me
into an inferno. I would prefer to sleep with the whole compound.

My consciousness must be fading more frequently, because when I regain
my awareness I am again supported by my wrists. I struggle to get my
legs to support my weight.

One last one.

“Ten,” I count.

The reminder I am a slave is the worst yet, but it also comes as a
relief.

I am shaking uncontrollably, and I cannot stop weeping. I try to will my
body to respond to my commands, but nothing happens.

Lying slumped against the whipping post, I wait for them to release me.

23a – A man experiences a conversation between women, about men

Olga’s note: After a grim chapter let’s finish for now on something
light. This is a chatty chapter developing the backstories of Nessa and
Udumi, which sits approximately after chapter 23.

I wanted to explore a bit more about their emotions and histories, as
the two women felt underdeveloped as characters, but anywhere I tried to
place this in the main story it seems unnecessary.

A second reason for writing this section – I found the damsel in
distress sequence in King Kong very exciting, and wanted to place it in
a Gorean setting. One version of the Captive of Gor book cover depicts a
scene that is very close, and I wished John Norman had explored it in
more detail.

One of the themes in my TG writing is to try and show male readers they
too can be wonderful, and a good man can be a precious thing to women.
This chapter was an opportunity to show that, as well as showing women’s
gratitude for rescue, but as with many of the cuts, again it doesn’t
advance the narrative.

The piece of fish has been stewed and seasoned to perfection, presumably
by a slave working in the kitchen.

Delicately I clean my fingertips with my full lips, sucking as
intimately as a lover’s kiss. I am not unaware how suggestive I must
look, but I am surrounded only by other women, sitting on mats on the
floor of the pens.

We are being rewarded with something above the level of the usual slave
gruel, and it is delicious. Everyone is enjoying the treat, and good
humour means the atmosphere in the pens is more informal than usual.

Udumi sits on a mat eating with us, no higher in status than any of the
others.

She wears a brief tunic, and rests back on her arms, reclining with her
bare long legs stretched out.

“How came you to be a slave, Mistress?” Nessa boldly asks Udumi.

Udumi narrows her eyes and I think for a moment Nessa will be punished
for such an impertinence, but after consideration Udumi shrugs and pops
another piece of fish into her mouth.

“I do not remember anything about how I came from my home city to be
here in the jungles of Gor,” Udumi says while chewing, being careful to
avoid reference to her origins on Urth. “I think I was drugged.”

“But I awoke from a sleep in my own home cylinder to find myself bound
and lying in grass, at the landing site that lies just outside the
compound.”

She inclines her head to indicate a direction, and then takes a cherry-
like fruit and pops it in her mouth.

“Around me were men in dark uniformed tunics. Somehow I knew they were
not like the men at home. Their eyes were hard and masculine. When I
caught them staring at me, they were not embarrassed and did not look
away. I would receive no mercy.”

“I was terrified. I screamed. I was not dressed as they. My clothing had
been taken while I was unconscious, and being bound hand and foot, with
my wrists secured to my ankles behind me, I was unable to free myself or
seek covering.”

“When I controlled my hysteria enough to speak I tried to appeal to them
to release me, but these men answered harshly, in a different tongue to
my own.”

“One of them lashed me with a whip and I understood I was better to keep
silent.”

“Then things got even worse. From the marsh I heard a deep roar, the
sound of some enormous animal. Bound and helpless, it was terrifying to
me.”

“There was some kind of an argument amongst the men. I do not know the
topic of the dispute, but I knew it was provoked by the sound of the
beast in the swamp, and I knew I was involved, as one of the men
gestured towards me repeatedly.”

“Whatever the outcome, shortly after that I was raped, as I lay on my
back in the grass. The man took me quickly, as if he was hurrying.”

“I heard the roar again. It was drawing closer. It was the sound of some
large, hideous animal.”

“Then I was released, but only for the purpose of securing me in a
different position, chained between two slave posts that still lie out
there on the land behind the compound. I could not pull in my hands to
protect my body, and I felt very vulnerable. My thighs were bloodied,
with the shame of what had been done to me.”

“From the marsh there was a third roar, almost upon us.”

“Even the men looked frightened, and they backed away from the noise,
leaving me alone in its path as if I was to protect them, and not the
other way round.”

“It emerged, a giant bear like creature, but nothing like a bear near my
home. Its eyes burned with intelligence. They were fixed on me. It made
a sound, almost like a language, and a second smaller one of these
animals emerged from the marsh.”

“I was trying to back away from these beasts, but the chains held me
there, standing before them.”

“I screamed, losing my mind back to fear.”

“I was there to feed these creatures – a sacrifice. There was no hope
for me. My death would be horrific.”

Udumi smiles.

“And then the men of Kurtz, as I now know them to be, were everywhere
about me. They must have been hidden in the marshes, all around us.”

“I was in the middle of a fierce battle, chained and helpless, and yet I
remained unharmed.”

“The men of Kurtz were fighting the men in the black tunics, and the
bear-like creatures. Dead bodies were everywhere, and the scent of blood
seemed to have driven the beasts into some kind of killing frenzy.”

“It seemed impossible. And yet the Ubar prevailed. He was different then
to the way he is now. He strode about the field like a god, always where
the battle was most deadly.”

“There was a confidence and surety in his purpose.”

Udumi pauses takes a piece of bread, mopping some of the sauce that
flavours the fish.

“I had hoped these men were there to liberate me, but I did not know
Gor. I was made slave, in the same manner as all of you, and taken as
Chiron’s personal choice.”

“Did you hope to be the Ubar’s girl?” Nessa asks.

Udumi shakes her head.

“Once one surrenders completely to Chiron, he is better than many other
masters might be, including the Ubar. And I owe him my life. He
personally stood his ground when one of the beasts attempted to attack
me. All he expects in return is total obedience. For his faults, I
cannot forget what he has risked for me.”

Nessa smiles.

“Sometimes I think our masters are not as cruel as they like to
believe,” she says.

“You keep the quarters of Petrucus, do you not?” Udumi asks.

Nessa nods.

“He too is a fine warrior,” Udumi compliments, as if that is one of the
most important qualities in a good master.

“I hope you are not too unhappy with him,” I say gently to Nessa.

She wrinkles her forehead as she thinks. The expression makes her look
cute.

“Sometimes my thoughts return to the one to whom I was pledged as free
companion,” she says, “and I wonder if I would have been happier than I
am now. But it does not do to dwell forever on things that cannot be.”

She looks down at herself, clad in the brief tunic. She strikes me as
very beautiful.

“It is possible for a good master to make a girl feel very precious, and
value her place as his slave very much,” Nessa says, and this comment
she directs at me.

“You do not understand this yet Aurore, as you still have to be opened.
But a man can make you feel so desirable that you know he will do almost
anything for you. You can feel very safe, very protected.”

“There is not much courage in me,” she continues. “I would rather be
defended by men than have to fight as one, even if that costs me my
liberty.”

“I am a slave girl,” Nessa concludes, “and I am not unhappy as a slave.
If it is the will of the Priest Kings that I am destined for slavery,
then I must accept my fate.”

I think of Misk, back there at the Nest, and of his plan to send me up
this river in order to be captured. When Nessa speaks of it being the
will of the Priest Kings that she fall slave, she doesn’t realise how
truly she speaks.

 


©Olga Turlovna

 

 

 

 

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