As My Master Commands
I lay here on the silk-covered pillows and consider the task before me. My master has ordered that I should record how I came to be in his possession, along with my own thoughts and feelings. As I stretch, the cool metal of his collar touches the passion marks he left on my neck and shoulder. After all the months of running and being traded across the country, it feels so strange to hold a pen in my hand as I regard the creamy sheaf of paper he has supplied for my use. I suppose I should begin at the beginning.
It had been miserably hot in Atlanta that Indian summer. My job with the FBI was rapidly turning sour. The Carson bust was just another example of how disposable I was to them. If it had not been for the tire blowing out and the trunk popping open as the car swerved out of control, I might well have gone into the river with the miscreants who perpetrated my kidnapping. As I lay in the hospital recovering, I considered a change of vocation. Perhaps taking that job my beloved mother offered in Atlantic City wasn't such a bad idea.
With only the requalification at the range standing between myself and returning to the viper's den, I stood gazing out of the window of my apartment toward the West. Perhaps I should head out and ply my skills in Las Vegas. Tossing back the room temperature brandy, I closed the heavy drapes and sank into the leather sofa to read the paper.
It was a slight stinging sensation that wakened me. Opening my eyes, I gasped in surprise at the two men who stood over me. One of them held a stun gun, the look in his eyes indicating that he wouldn't hesitate to use it should I resist. A pleasant drowsiness settled over me as I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
They were carrying me when I wakened. My muscles were still unwilling to respond to my mental demands that they extricate me from the situation. Opening my eyes, I saw a smattering of lights and others moving amongst crates that were being loaded onto whatever transport they were using. I was eased to the ground and left, my captors perhaps not realizing that I had awakened. While my body refused to cooperate with my wishes to flee, I was able to see quite clearly what they were doing. Several other unconscious bodies lay around me, both men and women. When the crates were loaded, they began loading the bodies. I quickly closed my eyes as they lifted me from the warm, rocky ground. When I opened them next, I was laying on some kind of bed. A broad strap was drawn across my upper chest, securing me and preventing my escape. Another strap was placed across my hips and another across my shins. Padded cuffs already secured my hands.
"This one is awake," a voice announced. I had been discovered.
"It doesn't matter. Finish securing the cargo and let's get out of here," another voice commanded. A mesh screen was pulled down and attached to the edge of the bed before the men moved on. As I lay trying to coax my body into doing my will, the conveyance began to move. To my fear and horror, I was being taken away, again.
Several strange sensations assaulted my person as I discovered that I had regained some control over my limbs. Pulling and struggling against my bonds, I tried to free myself. The screen was raised and I went still, watching to see what the man would do to me. From his pocket, he drew what looked like one of those smoking cessation patches. He peeled off the backing and pressed it firmly to my bare forearm.
"That will put you back to sleep," he explained as he took hold of the screen again.
"Wait, please. Where are they taking me?" I asked.
"Curiosity may get you punished. You are being taken to Pelo-canopis. You and the others will be auctioned. We use the money to buy supplies. Our planet, Mara-canopis, is engaged in a civil war. With the money we get from the sale of slaves, we buy the raw materials to make weapons. Rest now," he said as he drew the screen. Even as the words sank into my brain, I closed my eyes in surrender to the beckoning call of Morpheus.
When I wakened next, there was pandemonium in the room. Acrid smoke stung my eyes and burned my lungs as I struggled to free myself. One of my captors came along and began removing the restraints. He dragged me from the bed, pushing me toward the door. Stumbling, my muscles still slightly rubbery from the drugs, I landed on the ground. Behind me, my captor cried out in pain as he fell, an arrow sticking out of his chest. His golden eyes pleaded with me to help him as his blood welled up and flowed out of the wound. I looked on him in sympathy for his pain but my mother's voice urged me to look after my own needs at the moment. I rolled away from the dying man and under a large metal shape. Keeping absolutely still, I watched.
A man approached my position, a crossbow held at the ready. He nudged my captor with his boot before stepping through the open doorway. After a while, he came out and whistled. A creature unlike any I had ever seen approached. Taller than a quarter horse, it had long, shaggy hair all over its massive body. In the faint light, I saw that it also had sharp, lethal-looking fangs. The man climbed up on the animal and rode off, leaving me unmolested in my hiding place.
I stayed hidden until the sky began to lighten. When I crawled out of my hiding spot, I rubbed my eyes and looked around again in awe. Under my feet, the grass, if it could be called grass, was a brassy orange color. The smooth metal I had been hiding under appeared to be some kind of plane. Forgetting myself, I turned and was horrified at the body of the dead man. A small, furry creature was ears deep in his entrails. My startled gasp scared it and it took off. Like any reasonable, forward thinking person, I fled.
More wonders lay in store for me as I explored my surroundings. The sky was green, not blue and there were two faint outlines of moons in the heavens. I found trees with foliage the same color as the ground cover. Small shrubs were covered with clusters of bright purple berries. I watched what I could only classify as birds swooping down to consume the fruit and hoped that it would not be poisonous to me. Plucking off a few, I gingerly bit through the skin, feeling the juice squirt onto my tongue. When several minutes passed and I still felt well, I put one in my mouth, chewing it. Like a cross between a cherry and a strawberry, the small fruit was pleasing to my palate. I gathered more of them into my handkerchief before continuing on my journey.
For two days, I walked, using the direction of the rising sun as a guide. I picked more of the bright berries along the way, not knowing what else might be safe to eat. I had not found any water, but the fruit was more than adequate to keep thirst at bay. I didn't see any other people, or any roads, so I figured to keep walking until I saw signs of civilization.
In the morning, it rained lightly for a while, thankfully without any lightening or thunder. Several hours later, I came up on a small stream. The water was crystal clear and achingly cold as I stuck my hands in to wash the sticky feeling from them. I wasn't terribly thirsty, the fruit had quenched my thirst, but I dipped up some of the water and swallowed it, praying that it wouldn't make me sick as the water in Acapulco did when I was a teen. After drinking my fill, I heard the snap of a whip and a voice calling out to what sounded like a mule team. Thinking only of making an acquaintance that I could manipulate to get home, I leapt up and jogged over the rise, eager to meet someone who might be able to help. When I saw what means of locomotion propelled the wagon, I froze.
Several nude men were harnessed to the wagon tongue and several beautiful women, also naked, were chained to the back of it, walking as fast as the human coursers pulled. I stood rooted in place, unable to move as I watched. The man sitting on the wagon seat flicked his whip, striking one of the men in the small of his back and the wagon surged forward. Just as I found the strength to turn and run, they saw me. The man on the wagon pointed and the four men riding the strange animals detoured to come after me. Adrenaline powered my flight as I turned back toward the stream and fled.
The huge animals, I later learned they were called 'horses' after hearing the word on the lips of an early captive, quickly caught up with me. Running parallel on both sides, they kept me from getting away. A rope sailed over and around me, jerking taut, bringing me to an abrupt halt. The men vaulted from their mounts, pouncing on me, tying my hands and feet before stopping to see what they had caught.
"A pretty one, Master James will be pleased," one of them said of me as he held my chin firmly in his hand. The other one grinned as he ran his hands over my chest and arms.
"And strong, he'll be good on the wagon tongue."
I was hauled to my feet and thrown across the back of one of the horses. The rider mounted, pulling me up on his thighs and holding me still. As we returned to the wagon, he ran his hand appreciatively over my behind and smacked me soundly. I was dumped to the ground when they reached the others. Lying on my side, I glared up at the rider for a moment before turning my attention to the well-dressed gentleman stepping down from the wagon.
"Good day to you, sir. I am lost and I was wondering if you might perhaps direct me to the nearest city. I would be willing to remunerate you for your troubles," I said as I smiled gamely at the man.
"Strip him," the man said coldly. I had scarcely a moment to realize what he'd said before they were on me, unbinding my limbs and tugging my clothing off. I resisted and they wrenched my arm up behind my back to encourage me to cooperate. Shame colored my face, as I stood naked before the men.
"Kneel!" Master James ordered. When I didn't comprehend his command, the others swiftly struck me in the back of my legs, driving me to the ground. One of them kicked my knees apart while the other gripped my hair, tipping my head up. I tried to cover myself with my hands only to have them yanked behind my back and tied. Like an animal, I was held and examined.
"He's pretty," a rider complimented.
"Green eyed slaves fetch a high price in Cordona," another offered.
Master James studied me for a few minutes before he nodded. "Put him on the tongue and move Josiah to the rear."
Before I could protest, I was brought to my feet and hauled to the wagon. Both of my wrists were strapped to a bar in front of me and a broad leather harness was affixed to my body. Unable to cover my shameful nudity, I looked away from the others. The two in front of me turned to look at me and the one to my left nodded to me. Master James climbed back into the wagon and took up the reins. They weren't attached to the human coursers but to the tongue itself. Snapping the reins against the wooden tongue, he urged us to pull. I leaned into the harness and grunted, not really applying myself to the task. A gentleman doesn't engage in manual labor, even when nude and under duress. For my poor attempt at pulling, I was given a switch across my shoulder. From then on, I threw myself wholly into the work. The wagon rolled and we went on our way.
In the evening, when we were finally called to halt for the night, I sank to the ground and leaned against the wagon tongue. My hair hung in sweaty curls on my forehead and every muscle in my body was twitching or throbbing in pain. A guard came along and ordered me to my feet. I groaned as I tried to comply. When I managed to stand, he removed the harness, tying my hands behind my back again. I was then shoved over to where the others were kneeling in the shade. Forced to my knees, I let my head hang down.
"It's hard for the first couple of days, then it gets easier," the man who had been beside me commented. "My name's Vin."
"Ezra P. Standish at your service. You'll forgive me for not shaking your hand," I replied testily.
"Are you new here? To the Kondar Province?" he asked.
"Yes. I must make contact with someone who can help me to return to my home," I told him.
"It's not going to happen," came a voice from behind me. The large, dark-haired man who had been in front of me had spoken. "No one gets away from Master."
Before I could correct him, the guards returned and released several of the slaves. The women quickly went to work gathering wood for a fire while the men set up a tent. I, in my exhaustion, shifted from my knees to lie down on my side. The soles of my feet hurt and I sincerely hoped that they would not expect me to rise again.
"Oh, your poor feet!" one of the women commented. Moments later, the dark skinned man who had been in front of and to the side of me on the wagon tongue dropped behind me. He touched my ankle and I jerked away from him, hissing in pain.
"I will tend to your injuries," the man said softly, "Just rest for a minute."
The man, Nathan, went to Master James and knelt, waiting to be acknowledged. He explained to the man that I was injured and was given permission to fetch his healing herbs and other supplies from the wagon. He returned to my side and prepared to clean and dress the blisters on my feet. It hurt, more than I would have believed possible. With my feet cleaned and slathered in an oily balm, he wrapped them with strips of cloth and tied the cloth around my ankles.
"Thank you," I said when he'd finished.
"Your feet are soft, like a baby's. You will need to toughen the skin. The balm and herbs will help. Drink this, it will help with the muscle spasms," Nathan said as he held a cup to my lips. It tasted bitter and I tried to turn away but he held me by the chin until I emptied the cup.
"Nathan, come and get your food," the guard called. I lay on the ground, too weary to even ask if I was to be fed. When Nathan returned, he had two plates. He set them down before helping me to sit up, leaning against the tree trunk. With more patience than I would have had, he fed me and gave me to drink from a tall cup of cold water. I had finished barely half of the food when my eyes closed and I slept.
When I opened my eyes again, my arms were no longer bound behind my back. A rough blanket covered me and the person next to me. I needed to relieve myself and so I sat up, looking around. A fire burned brightly in front of the tent and two of the guards sat there, talking softly. Without thinking about it, I tried to stand. A cry of pain and surprise left my lips as my battered feet tried to take my weight. The guards leapt up, rushing to stand over me.
"Lay down and be quiet," one warned.
"Please, I need to make use of the facilities," I told him. At his blank look, I amended my words, "I need to empty my bladder."
It was then that I realized that I had been shackled by the ankle to a long chain that held all of the slaves. I was disconnected from it and allowed to limp to the nearby shrubs. When I had completed my business, they returned me to the chain, ordering me to rest. I needed no command to heed my body's call for sleep.
In the morning, early in the morning, I was wakened by a hard jab in the back. "Up, up, you lazy slave. Get on your feet or I will have you whipped!" Master James shouted as he nudged me again. I shook my head, clearing it for a moment.
"Certainly you don't intend to start off now, it's barely light out here," I protested.
Ten lashes of the whip later, I realized that he did indeed intend to start off at barely dawn. I was given only a bit of bread and a couple of swallows of water before being forced back into the harness. Nathan removed the cloth from my feet and commented that they were much better. I did have to admit that it didn't hurt to stand as it had when I was up during the night.
For several hours, we pulled the wagon across the broad prairie. At midday, we stopped to rest and to eat. Ashamed of my lack of clothing, I kept to myself, not socializing with the others. A woman handed me a pan with a slice of cooked meat and some kind of vegetable-looking material. My eyes swept over her and I dropped my gaze to the plate in my hand.
"Eat quickly, Master James will be ready to go soon," she told me.
"Thank you," I said, sincerely grateful for her kindness. She was the one who had commented on my injured feet the previous evening. "My name is Ezra," I told her.
"Inez," she replied.
The food was pleasant enough, though I was too hungry to care. When the pan was empty, I returned it to the bucket where another woman was washing them. Across the clearing, I saw Master James feeding the large man, Josiah, from his hand. He cupped his hand beneath Josiah's chin, smiling fondly at him. Near the fire, two of the female slaves were begging treats from the guards.
We were returned to the harness and made to pull the wagon again. At dusk, our master called a halt. I was sent with Buck to gather wood for the fire. He scowled at me for being hesitant to pick things up from the ground. Once returned to camp, I went to sit near some of the others, still keeping to myself. Another female brought me a pan of food and I ate, barely managing to finish before I dropped into a restless sleep. Nathan wakened me and gave me another cup of his foul-tasting brew.
When I awoke the next morning, a warm, female body was curled up to mine. Both of us got up quickly, as the guards were coming along the line with switches to rouse the slaves. I gladly took the pan of food I was handed and found a place to sit and eat. Soon, we were called to pull the wagon again.
Around midday, we spotted the town. Master James urged us onto the road and we eagerly complied. The road was smoother than the ground and the wagon was easier to pull. When we reached the town, we were stopped at the gates.
"What is the purpose of your visit to Yokata?"
"I wish to sell a few of my slaves and perhaps purchase a pair of draft animals. Do you know of a place where I might get a fair deal?" Master James asked as he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
"The stockyard is on the east side of the street. They will have everything you need. Have you seen any of the Harkers on your journey?"
"No, but we saw signs of them. That's why I wanted to be within your city walls for a few nights."
When the gates were opened, we were urged to pull the wagon again. I was stunned and appalled at the conditions inside of the stockade walls. No traces of any modern equipment were to be found. No electrical lines ran between the buildings and no automobiles lined the streets. My hope of finding anyone who might help me to return home dimmed. We reached the stockyard and stopped. Strange looking animals milled about in sturdy pens while other, smaller animals were held in individual cages. I saw people moving among the cages, inspecting the offerings and exchanging coins to purchase them. I also saw what I could only assume was a blacksmith, working at a forge.
After some negotiating, we were told to pull the wagon around to the side. We were then unhitched and driven into a large cage. Twenty or more other men inhabited the enclosure and I cringed at the way they looked at me. The female slaves were driven into a similar cage next door. I spied a spot of shade and walked over to sit down. The others in my group, Vin, Nathan, Josiah and the big guy called Buck, remained in a huddle, not splitting up as they moved to join me. The other of our master's male slaves moved to another corner, striking up a conversation with some of the existing slaves.
In the evening, we were fed. The food, if you could call it food, was bland and accompanied by a hunk of dry bread. I choked down as much as I could before I stopped. Across the enclosure, a skinny young man was hungrily licking his plate. Pushing up from the ground, I walked over and offered the kid what was left in my plate. Fear contorted his face as he looked at me.
"You can have it. I don't want any more," I said as I lowered the plate to the ground. Indecision was so plain in his face that it was almost painful to see. Finally, his hand crept out, lifting the plate and digging in. I smiled and returned to my spot. Buck looked at me suspiciously as I sat down.
"Why did you do that, Ezra?"
"Do what? Give him the food? Because he looks like he needs it a lot more than I do. What does it matter to you?"
"Just be careful in here, Ezra. If one of the others thinks you've taken a liking to his property, you could be hurt badly before the guards could get you out," Nathan explained.
"I don't know what you're talking about. All I did was give the boy something to eat! He looks like he's about to starve to death. Don't any of you care about that?" I challenged them.
"You did a good thing, Ezra. Just be careful," Josiah said, looking meaningfully at each of the others and ending the discussion. When it was dark, we were driven from the enclosure to a dormitory. The floor was covered with hay and a few blankets. There were some bunks, not enough for everyone, about half. My group and I avoided the fighting for the bunks and took up a spot in the far corner. Later, in the dark and over the snoring of Josiah and Buck, I heard some moaning. As I concentrated on the sound it developed a rhythm. I fell asleep puzzling over the noise.
In the dim light of morning, I felt someone covering my mouth. Strong hands pulled me up and dragged me across the room. The hard edge of a bunk hit me in the stomach as I was driven to my knees against it. Both of my arms were imprisoned behind my back as something was shoved against my open mouth. As my mind was processing what was happening and why, I felt something cold and wet running down the crack of my ass. Pure, unreasoning terror gripped me as rough hands took hold of my hips. The wad of blanket held to my face obscured my breathing and I felt dizzy as my cheeks were pulled open and a large, blunt shaft pushed into position. Mercifully, I blacked out before I was penetrated.
A wet cloth passed over my face and I came up fighting. Josiah and Buck restrained me as I tried to swing on Nathan. As I recovered myself, I hesitantly searched my body for pain. Not finding any, I looked around at the others.
"What happened?" I asked softly.
"I stopped them," Josiah answered. "They won't bother you again."
Nausea welled up in my throat and I curled into a ball. Shame and rage vied for control as I hid my face from the others. I felt other hands touching, soothing as I tried to regain control of my emotions. When I heard the guards coming, I sprang away from them. I couldn't bear for them to see me weak and frightened. The guards demanded of the injured men and discovered that Josiah had been the one who attacked them. With whips, they separated the older man from us, dragging him from the dormitory area. I ran to the bars to protest and was pulled back by the others.
"Be quiet, you'll only make it worse," Vin warned. Several minutes later, we heard the snap of the whip. Not until the eighth blow did we hear him cry out. Two additional blows fell, then the hated whip was silent. The guards returned, driving us out of the dormitories and into the enclosure. We ran to Josiah, gently drawing him into the shade.
Master James put his female slaves out to show that morning. Two were purchased and led away by their new masters. With the money, he bought two pair of draft animals and another wagon. When he returned for his male slaves, he was informed that Josiah had injured several of the others in his cage. He glared sternly as the graying man dropped at his feet.
"Why Josiah? You've never been in trouble before."
"They were going to rape Ezra and I stopped them. I was protecting your property, Master," Josiah answered. He tensed as his master's hand came down on his shoulder, then lifted his eyes. There was no threat of punishment glaring down on him and he relaxed slightly. Nathan was ordered to tend to the welts on Josiah's back before we were loaded into the new wagon.
The next few days were fairly pleasant. We rode in the wagon by day, sleeping in it or under it by night. The guards took some of the slaves to their tent for the night. I often lay in the wagon, in my chains, listening to the sound of their coupling.
One of the guards caught me near the wagon after the evening meal. With just the tip of his finger, he brought my face up so he could look into my eyes. He caught my hands and pinned them above my head as his hand caressed my hip. Too frightened to even cry out, I turned my face away and closed my eyes.
"Master James would have my hide if I marked you in any way," the guard said as he let me go. I sank to my knees and shuddered. I was still trembling when Nathan came looking for me. I couldn't bring myself to answer his concerned questions as he led me to the wagon for the night.
On the fourth day, we spotted the city of Cordona on the horizon. My apprehension increased as I remembered what the guard had said about green-eyed slaves in that city. I was relieved when I heard that we were turning south toward Pergas instead. Vin informed me that he was from that city and it saddened him to be taken there as a slave. The others comforted him but I couldn't understand what he was feeling, I had no frame of reference.
During that time, I also learned the names of some of the female slaves. Aside from the lovely Inez, who had dark hair and dark eyes and moved with the grace of a ballerina, there was Missy. She was a boisterous redhead and popular among the guards, they often selected her in the evenings. Another lovely example of womanly form was a younger girl named Claire. I learned that she had only recently been made a slave. Her father spent his time spreading their unique religion. Claire had been stolen from her father's camp and sold into slavery.
"Slaves out!" the guard yelled as he opened the barred door at the back of the wagon. As we came to the opening, he slipped an ankle cuff on us and attached us to the length of chain he held. I had been taught, as the others had, to kneel a certain way when put on display. Under threat of the whip, I knelt as I was shown, blushing crimson at being inspected like a stud bull. I stared at the ground until I noticed the elegant, shapely legs that stood in front of me. A delicate hand cupped my chin and lifted my face.
"Extraordinary! What are you asking for this one? He's beautiful!" the woman complimented.
"He is untrained. I'm taking him to Pergas for training. He will be worth much more then," Master James said with a teasing smile. He was not willing to part with his goods on the side of the road.
"I'll bet he will make an exquisite pleasure slave. Please don't sell him to one of those horrible brothels, they'll ruin his spirit and his beauty."
"Perhaps Madam will be there when he is auctioned. If you bought him you could use him as you wish. I really don't care what happens to them after I sell them."
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the guard watching me and rubbing his groin. The full horror of what I was in this place suddenly became very clear. When the woman moved down the line to inspect one of the others, I lowered my head and trembled. After the woman and her entourage had gone, we were driven back into the wagons. I crawled up into the corner and wrapped my arms around my knees as I shook. Josiah petted and tried to comfort me but I was inconsolable.
In Pergas, we were again given into an enclosure. This time, Master James paid extra so that we would be separated from the others at night. Josiah, Nathan and a few of the others were separated from us during the day for training. I was horrified to learn that I was being trained to be a pleasure slave, a male whore as it were. For the next month, we were taught the things a male slave had to know. Embarrassing as it was, we were taught to display ourselves in a way that would make our master want to have sex with us. When the trainer discovered that I was a virgin to male-to-male intercourse, he mocked me. We were also taught the proper way to wear cock rings and harnesses. Nipple clamps were applied with chains and gems. I learned to dance. They taught us, male and female alike, to dance in a seductive manner. I was fascinated to watch the female slaves dance. Everyday, I was taught to stand and to kneel so as to be appealing. Because I was so fair skinned, they worked with me in the shade. They showed me how to turn my head and drop my shoulder in an inviting manner. Without actually penetrating me, they demonstrated the positions most men preferred. The first few nights after those lessons, I was too distraught to sleep.
When our month of training was completed, we were returned to our master. He inspected us, making us show what we had learned. I was embarrassed at the praise he lavished on me. We were chained by the neck to each other and walked to another place. One by one, we were removed from the chain and taken inside. The letters above the door were foreign to me but I would later learn that the man was something akin to a veterinarian. I was examined thoroughly and then strapped, belly down to a gurney. Unable to move, I tensed at the first touch of the stylus behind my ear. A number and a symbol were etched into my flesh, marking me forever as a slave on this world. I also received several, painful injections. Afterwards, the man gave me a piece of peppermint candy. I had never been particularly fond of peppermint, but this was the first sweet treat I had been allowed since the brilliant purple fruit when I first arrived.
As we were returning to the training pens, several people commented on us. Our master flushed with pride that he had acquired such excellent merchandise. In the pens, we overheard that someone had kidnapped the son of the ruling family. A large reward was offered for his safe return. To our surprise, we were loaded into our wagons at dusk and left the town.
We made camp in the woods. The guards were given their pick of the slaves to entertain them for the evening. Two chose female slaves and two chose male. Master James warned the men that had chosen me that I was a virgin and not to be damaged. They just laughed and promised that they would not damage me or lower my value in any way. In a nearby clearing, they had built a small fire. We were fed, after a fashion. The guards tossed the food and made us catch it. I was not good at the game and Vin ended up with most of what they threw. My mouth watered at the sight of the bright purple fruit when they brought it out.
"You like these don't you, pretty boy?" the guard taunted. I tried to curb my enthusiasm. They made me crawl on my knees to take the fruit from their hands the first time. I shuddered when one of them crushed the berries and trickled the juice along Vin's stomach and groin. "Lick it off and I'll let you have more," he coaxed. I shuddered and sank back on my heels. One of them came to his feet and brought something from his pocket. He took hold of my hair and forced my mouth open as he poured the thick, oily substance down my throat. I coughed and gagged but swallowed it.
"What have you given me?" I asked.
"Jalatha, a deep red liquor made from the very fruit you desire. It has a strange effect when concentrated. It will make you more relaxed and willing to do things you might otherwise not want to do. You are already feeling its effect," he said.
Indeed, I was feeling strange. Willingly, I was led to where Vin lay on the ground and bent to lick the sweet fluid from his body. The juice had collected in his navel and I eagerly sucked it out. More of the juice was squeezed onto his groin and I lapped it up, blithely unaware of the reaction I was engendering in the other man. When the juice was drizzled on the upright shaft, I willingly took it in my mouth to suck, causing Vin to writhe and thrust. His orgasm surprised me, it was not as sweet as the fruit.
"Swallow it all and I'll give you more of the jalatha," the guard teased. I eagerly complied and looked up, like a puppy waiting for a reward. A few more drops of the liquor were placed on my tongue and I savored it.
Some time later, I returned to myself. In the glow of the fire, I watched as the guards took possession of Vin. Their strong, dark hands gripped his hips as their thick shafts plundered him in turn. He moaned in pleasure as a fist wrapped around his erection and worked him in sync with the thrusts in his ass. When they had both used him, they rewarded him with a drink of jalatha.
I woke up with what I could only describe as a hangover. It was cool and I wiggled closer to the warm body curled in front of me. When my senses finally kicked in, I realized that it was Vin I held so tightly. The images from the night before burst upon my memory and I rolled away from him before I began to vomit. Horror at what I had done gripped me as my stomach clenched over and over. Firm hands took hold of me and a cool cloth was passed over my face. I flinched until I recognized Nathan's strong hand. A cup was pressed into my hands and I rinsed my mouth.
"Ezra, are you alright?" Vin asked as he knelt at my side.
"I'm sorry. So sorry," I told him, shame making me unable to meet his eye. Hands took hold of me and turned my face up to his. In the beautiful blue orbs I saw no condemnation. Vin moved slowly closer until his lips gently brushed mine. Like an electrical jolt, I felt a tremendous surge go from my lips straight to my groin. Before I could respond, he drew away.
All that day, I avoided Vin. I was appalled at the way I had behaved. The guards made fun of me, reminding me of the shameful act I had performed. Master James called me to him and made me kneel at his feet. He gave me a basket of some type of pod and had me shell out the seeds inside. The simple, repetitive action calmed me and kept me away from the sources of my embarrassment.
We remained in the forest for another day and that night, we were kept in our wagon. Under cover of darkness, several men rode in on horses. A heavily bound form was lowered and a bag of coins handed off in exchange. The body on the ground was uncovered only for a moment before it was covered again and placed in the wagon with us. The new captive was shackled to the wall of the wagon and we set off. After a while, the bound figure stirred and whimpered pitifully.
We were a long way from Pergas in the morning. Our master stopped only long enough to rest the animals and allow the slaves to feed. The bound captive was not released. Nathan went to Master James and pleaded to be allowed to give food and water to the new slave. Master drew his knife and threatened that if Nathan revealed the identity of the new captive, he would be gelded. Accepting the threat, he took a plate and went into the wagon.
For another week, we traveled quickly to the south. The new captive was not allowed out of the wagon except to relieve himself three times a day. Only Nathan saw him when he carried his food in to feed him. When the new captive began making noise and keeping us awake, our master had him gagged. Master James was worried about something, and he kept us on a very short leash. Often, he took both Josiah and Buck to his tent to help him work out his anxiety. They would return to the wagon late at night, sweaty and exhausted. A couple of times, I caught him watching me and I was afraid. The guards still taunted me but they left me alone. Many nights, I lay in my chains wondering what it would be like. I had the average, heterosexual curiosity about it, but had never indulged in anything other than plain, old, vanilla sex. I began having strangely erotic dreams, featuring Vin and occasionally Buck. One made me feel warm and tingly, the other scared me a little.
Vin and I cast several long glances at each other but I was too frightened to act on my feelings for him. I knew that Buck and Josiah had exchanged touches and more under the wagon when the guards were asleep. A few times, I watched them, satisfying my need to know. It didn't look like the horrible, painful experience I had heard about in college, it looked like it was pleasurable for both of them.
Buck and I were tethered together by the neck and sent with a guard to gather the purple fruit. I worked slowly, sneaking the fruit into my mouth from time to time. When we had filled both of the bushel baskets, we returned with the guard to the camp. The female slaves took the fruit and went to the kettle where they were preparing to make jalatha from it. The guard led us to Master James.
"Did you eat any of the fruit while you were picking it?"
Fear tingled in my belly as I realized that I might be punished. I denied eating the fruit, my face a mask of innocence. Buck also denied eating the fruit but admitted to licking the juice from his fingers. The guard nodded at our master and Buck was dismissed. I looked back at the guard and cringed at the whip dangling from his hand.
My hands were restrained above my head to the side of the wagon and I received ten lashes. Master James ordered me to count. I delayed calling out the number, thinking to prevent the inevitable. "One," I announced. My body leapt under the whip, its braided lengths burning across my lower back. Prompted by my master, I managed to force the next number past my lips, "Two." After only the second stroke, I was yelling and begging for mercy. By the tenth, I was unable to cry out.
The next day, I was sent out again with Buck to pick the berries. Not once did I even put my sticky, purple fingers near my mouth. I shuddered with relief when I was dismissed and fled to the wagon to try to control myself. Vin snuck in and put his arm around me, pulling me to lean against him. My fear drained away as he placed light kisses on my face.
Two days later, our caravan was attacked. The Harkers struck with brutal speed. I had never imagined that an attack could be carried out successfully using such primitive weapons. The crossbow proved to be quite an effective killing instrument. Master James and his guards fell under the brutal assault. All of the slaves were set free when the attack began. I grabbed a blanket and bolted into the woods. For two days, I hid in the forest while they searched for the others.
I was free. On the edge of the forest, I found an abandoned lodge of sorts. Inside I found some clothing. Nothing up to my usual standards but after being naked for over a month, they felt like the finest Armani had to offer. I found a small stand of fruit trees and picked as much as I wanted. A little farther on, I found a small garden and picked some vegetables. I could hardly believe my luck when I found the loaf of bread sitting on the windowsill. For over a week, I enjoyed the freedom. In the small lodge, I felt safe.
I was in the orchard one day when I heard the shouts. I could hear the sounds of heavy footfalls running through the trees. Dropping on my stomach behind a pile of mulch, I peered around to see who was coming. I couldn't believe it when I identified the tall man running to avoid the Harkers. I crept away from the orchard until I could get up and run. I grabbed Buck and pulled him into the small cave I had found. In the inky darkness, we waited, staring at the shrubs that covered the opening for the capture that we both feared.
It never came. We spent the night in the chilly, damp cave. I pulled off the large shirt and gave it to Buck to put on when he started shivering. We huddled together, sharing our warmth all night. In the morning, we crept out. Circling around, we picked up the rest of the clothing I had found and took off into the forest. We paused at the orchard just long enough to fill our pockets with fruit before disappearing.
We were free. We found a cave near a lake. The purple fruit grew thick along the ridge and there were other things to eat in abundance. We carried in bundles of tall grass to pad the ground we used for our bed. Buck taught me how to find ground tubers that were safe to eat. He told me that Vin and Josiah had been captured the night of the attack. He didn't know about Nathan.
One night, huddled together for warmth, Buck kissed me. It was a gentle, chaste kiss, barely more than the lightest brushing of skin on skin. Starving for warmth and comfort, I arched my back and nuzzled against his neck. Buck shifted slightly, covering more of my body with his as he kissed me again. Moaning softly at the pleasurable sensation, I wrapped my arms around his torso and reveled in the warmth we were generating. One of his hands groped along my hip and he pulled me to my side. As our little grass nest warmed, I became aware that Buck's hand was working under the waist of the trousers I had stolen from the lodge. When I realized that he was cupping the cheek of my ass as his fingers crept into the crease, I stiffened and began to struggle.
"Please don't!" I begged, suddenly realizing that he could easily overpower me and take what he wanted. My heart was in my throat as I tried to push him off of me.
"Just relax, Ezra, I won't hurt you," Buck insisted as he stilled my struggles.
"Please don't. I've never... I'm afraid," I admitted.
The tension seemed to drain out of Buck as he sighed and released me. Rolling away, he got up and left the cave for a while. Alone, I became aware of something startling, I was rock hard and aching. Moaning softly, I willed the erection to fade as I wondered what was happening to me here. I had always been a happily heterosexual male. In Atlanta, I'd had my choice of debutants and society women. Buck apologized when he returned, saying that he hadn't realized I was a virgin. That night, my dreams were those of an innocent but filled with images and desire. To my surprise, I found myself dreaming of Vin.
It was too good to last for long. One day, while Buck was out getting more fruit, I spotted the Harkers searching the woods near our cave. They were squatted down, studying the footprints they had found in the soft dirt. I heard them talking.
"He's been here. He's probably staying in one of the caves in the area. If we find a place to wait, we're bound to catch him. Chris wants him. The villagers have been complaining about the food he's stealing."
They only spoke about one person. Perhaps they didn't know that there were two of us. My mother's voice rang in my head again, telling me to look out for myself. Buck had been a slave for a while, he was used to it. I had been free. I was an agent for the FBI. I had to remain free to find someone to help me return home. I would have to sacrifice Buck.
That night, in the cave, we sat eating the fruit Buck had brought back with him. I casually mentioned to him that I thought I saw a snake down by the bushes where the purple fruit grew. I told him that I was afraid to go out there. Buck took up a good-sized stick and went out of the cave toward the bushes. I crept up behind him and struck him on the back of the head with a rock. He slumped to the ground with a moan. I checked that he was still breathing before I ran away. It wasn't long before I heard them capturing him. Alone in the dark of the cave, I was horribly ashamed of what I'd done. I had betrayed a friend to save myself. My mother's teaching had saved me, I should be thankful. Instead, I was miserable.
Guilt was my only companion. Sitting beside a stream, I could only think about how I'd betrayed Buck to the Harkers. I could hardly sleep because of the nightmares. I had developed the habit of stuffing a roll of cloth into my mouth when I lay down to sleep so that no one would hear me screaming myself awake. I couldn't bear to look at my reflection in the water. The feeling of self-loathing was becoming overwhelming. I buried the core from the fruit I had finished and climbed to my feet. I headed west. That was the only thing that mattered now, going west.
I woke up from a sound sleep. In the distance, I could hear people talking. I got up and hurriedly headed for the woods. Before I got there, I heard more voices. Veering away from the approaching people, I angled out toward the open field. I heard the scream of the horse and whirled around, spotting the Harker bearing down on me. Dropping the fruit bundled up in my extra shirt, I took off running. The massive beast bore down on me, I could feel its moist, hot breath. A rope dropped over me and snapped tight. I fell hard on my shoulder and felt it pop. My scream of agony rent the air as he leapt down and approached me on foot. Savagely, the clothes were stripped from my body. I screamed again as my arms were bound behind my back. As before, I was tossed up on the back of the horse and the man climbed up with me. The constant jogging of the animal finally caused me to surrender to the darkness.
I screamed as the hands held me down while my shoulder was put back in place. Pushed into a sitting up position, I was held as my arm was bound to my side. A cup of bitter liquid was held to my lips and I drank. As the pain eased, I slept again.
"Ezra, can you hear me? Ezra? Wake up for me, please?"
I heard the voice calling to me and tried to wake up. My shoulder still ached terribly and I was cold. I shivered and was drawn into a warm embrace. I hurt so badly! I tried to hold on to the warm body. Guilt washed over me again as I remembered betraying Buck.
"Buck... I'm sorry... I... Buck," I tried to confess.
"I told you. He's the one who cold-cocked me. He's the one who left me for them," Buck hissed as he paced inside of the dormitory. His face still carried the bruises from the beating his captors had given him when they caught him. It was only Vin's begging that kept Buck from hurting me in spite of the tender moments we had shared in the cave.
It was a shock to see all of them there. Josiah, Nathan, Vin and Buck were all there as well as a thin, dark haired young man. I was told that he was the one who had been concealed in our wagon. His name was JD and he was painfully shy about his present circumstances. He had been brought up to be a leader and now he was a lowly slave. Around his neck was a metal collar. I asked Vin about it when we were alone together.
"It's a slave collar. It means that he belongs to Master Larabee. He might collar me later in the week. He's been really gentle with all of us."
"What does it mean when he collars you?" I asked, confused.
"It means that he wants to keep JD for his own slave, not to sell him. Master Larabee is his owner." The way he said the last word made it sound so reverent, like something to be desired, coveted. If he collared Vin, it would mean that he wanted to keep him. If he didn't collar me, it meant that he might sell me away from Vin.
When Nathan announced that I was well enough to have the bandage removed from my shoulder, the head of the Harkers sent for me. Shaking in fear, I made my way through the camp. The tent was the largest one in the clearing and it was golden in color. Four guards stood before the tent flap glaring balefully at me as I timidly approached. One of them opened the flap and motioned for me to enter. Inside, I looked around curiously. In one corner of the lavish tent, a thick rug had been put down and was covered in pillows. Near the center of the dwelling, a small fire burned.
"Is that how they taught you to present yourself to a free man when you were in Pergas?" A haughty voice snapped. Instantly, I dropped to my knees and shuddered.
"Forgive me Master," I begged. Soon, a pair of sturdy leather boots appeared in my field of vision, I dared not to raise my head to look upon the man who held my very life in his hand.
"Regard me," he ordered. Slowly, I lifted my head and looked up at the man. His face was stern, as was the set of his shoulders as he rested his hands on his hips. Sandy blond hair framed his face in windblown wisps as his hazel eyes scoured over my naked body. The way he looked at me made me want to crawl closer and beg for his touch. As soon as the thought occurred to me, I blushed in shame.
"So, you are the thief who has been stealing from the peasants," he said. "What should I do with you?"
Fear stole my voice and I swallowed hard as I bowed my head. For the first time, I realized that he held a whip in one hand, its cruel strands hanging alongside of his sturdy, dark pants. The other whips that had been used on me were designed only to punish, they would not leave permanent marks. What he held in his hand was the kind that would tear into tender flesh. I trembled before him.
A startled gasp left my lips as he grasped my chin, forcing me to look at him again. Hunger burned in his eyes and I was truly afraid of what he would do to me. A wicked grin curled the corners of his mouth as he took in my expression.
"Nathan tells me that you're a virgin. Perhaps I should try you before I allow my guards to take you for their pleasure."
Shock washed over me as I found my voice. "Please don't! Don't let them hurt me... Master."
A firm grip pulled me to my feet, leading me across the tent to the carpet and pillows. He guided me to my back, positioning my hands above my head. I lay tensely as he opened the belt that hugged his narrow hips. His thick, engorged shaft spilled from his pants and I instinctively clenched my stomach. He lowered his body on top of mine, his shaft digging into my hip. His lips descended, capturing mine. His tongue roughly forced its way into my mouth. To my unending shame, my body began to respond to him and I dug in with my heels to rub my blossoming erection against his hip. He smiled as he began to rock against me, igniting my desire. With a groan of pleasure, my seed spilled between us. When his eyes burned into mine again, I rolled to my stomach and raised my hips into the air, inviting him to sate his desire with me. Calloused hands brushed over my posterior and I flinched, curling my hips. A disgusted sigh floated down and I hesitantly opened my eyes to looked around. He was shaking his head as he tucked himself back into his pants.
"When you can offer your body to me without fear, then you will be ready. Send Buck to me," he ordered as he turned and walked to the low table across the way. I managed to get up on shaking legs, wiping my stomach with the cloth he threw at me and bolted from the tent. The guards' laughter made me burn like a scalded cat. Remembering my training, and trusting that Master Larabee wouldn't allow them to touch me until he had, I slowed from my terrified gait and walked seductively. An appreciative whistle sounded from one of them and I smiled. Perhaps I had found a weapon I could use. I had been trained in the art of making a man desire me, it was a tool I would wield with ruthless efficiency.
During the next days, I was made to work, hard. Despite my protest that I had been trained as a pleasure slave, I was hitched to a plow blade and made to till the soil. The guard flicked a switch across my bare legs if I didn't work hard enough. At the end of the day, I collapsed gratefully in the dormitory and waited for Vin to join me. I began to think that they were deliberately keeping us apart during the day. At night, he would hold me with my head cradled on his chest. The strong, steady beat of his heart lulled me into a sound sleep. Some nights, Vin, Buck and JD would not come to the dormitory. I learned that they were serving in Master's tent and staying to tend to his pleasures. Buck seemed to derive great joy from telling me that Vin had screamed in ecstasy as the Master impaled him. Indeed, the dark love bites on his neck and shoulders seemed to testify to his words. I shunned Vin afterwards, moving to lay next to Josiah so that Vin couldn't cuddle with me.
One day, I was also called to the Master's tent in the evening. To my dismay, a cock harness was tightly cinched to my groin, complete with a strap that covered my ass, indicating that I was off limits to them. Josiah embraced me gently and encouraged me to demonstrate to the Master that I was willing to serve him fully. I looked at him, horrified.
"How can you even suggest such a thing? I have no desire to be used that way! I was free before and I will be free again some day. I will leave this place and never return!" I shouted at him. "I suppose you like being taken that way."
"Master Larabee has been gentle with me. He could have sold me off to work in the fields for the peasants or given me to one of the brothels but he didn't. He has taken me and yes, I have received pleasure from it. I had been with Master James for a long time. I was trained as a household servant. I tended his clothes and cooked his meals. When the Harkers murdered his family, he was away at school. No matter how hard things were, he never sold me. I gave him my body willingly and he captured my heart."
I stared at him in disbelief. He had loved his master! He had willingly lain with the man! I turned from him, shuddering in horror at the thought. As much as I had grown to care for Vin, I told myself that I would leave him behind in a heartbeat if it meant returning to Earth. The thought filled me with emptiness that made my heart ache. The guard opened the door and called to me, I followed him to Master Larabee's tent. Vin and JD were already there, serving sweetmeats and other delicacies. I was handed a leather pouch filled with Canata wine and sent to fill the cups. Several other free men and women sat around in the tent, laughing and conversing with our master. We worked among them, silently. One of the men noticed me.
"You have managed to acquire yourself a virgin, Chris? I would have thought you would have deflowered him by now," the man said with a knowing grin.
"I have enough others to choose from. He is like a yellow canata fruit," my master replied. While I didn't understand the reference, the derisive laughter was enough to make me blush with shame.
All evening, we served the free men. Inez and Claire danced, their bodies rubbed with oil so that they gleamed in the firelight. Although I had not been given anything to eat, I was too proud to beg as I saw JD doing. He was bowed over a man's lap, sucking and licking the man's shaft in between bites of meat and fruit. Vin rubbed against our master and was rewarded with pieces of meat. When the women finished dancing, they were rewarded with slivers of meat and a swallow of jalatha. I remained silently in the corner, watching the cups so that I could refill them.
JD left the tent in the company of one of the free men. Inez slipped away with another of the men. Buck was led away by one of the women, smiling as she gripped his shaft and pulled. Gradually, the others left until it was just Master Larabee, Vin and myself in the tent. Vin was nuzzling and rubbing himself against our master. Chris fondled him while staring at me. My stomach clenched as I saw him preparing Vin for penetration. From a small bottle, he poured several drops of liquid into Vin's mouth. I instantly recognized the jalatha wine and licked my lips. I watched as our master urged Vin to his hands and knees as he unfastened his pants. I trembled and squirmed uncomfortably as I watched him pour something on his hands and stroke his shaft. I whimpered when Vin moaned as the thick, heavy cock was pushed into his body. Master Larabee pulled Vin up so that he sank into his lap, impaling himself deeply.
"So much... so full... please," Vin moaned as he clenched his fists.
I licked my lips again as more of the jalatha wine was poured into Vin's mouth. Some of it flowed out of his mouth, running in rivulets down his body. I leaned forward, almost begging to lick the drops from his chest.
"Come over here, Ezra," my master ordered. I crawled across the tent, my eyes following the path of the wine. He deliberately trickled more of the liquor on Vin's chest, where it pooled in his navel. Gripping Vin's throat, he pulled back, arching Vin's back and making the trails of the wine glisten in the firelight. "You want to lick it off of him?"
I must have, might have, I think I nodded before leaning over and slurping the liquid from the divot on Vin's stomach. Balancing with my hands on his thighs, I greedily licked the sticky trails. Master Larabee drizzled more of the wine and the faster drops reached Vin's groin.
"Please Master," Vin begged, curling his pelvis and trying to create the friction that would bring him to an orgasm.
Master Larabee poured some of the wine into a shallow bowl, lowering it in between Vin and myself. With his other hand, he guided Vin's erect shaft into the liquid. He then allowed me to empty the bowl. I immediately moved to lap up the wine. Like a kid with a lollipop, I licked and sucked. Vin cried out, thrusting into my mouth, pushing back against the shaft buried in his tight well. His hand gripped the back of my head and held me as he moved between the two points of stimulation.
"That's it, pretty one, suck on him. If you bring him off, I'll give you the jalatha wine you so desire. Yes, that's it. They taught you well in Pergas," my master complimented as his hand joined Vin's on my head, carding through my hair. I debated stopping to tell him that I had never learned this in the slave training pens, but Vin's thrusting required all of my attention. After several minutes, Vin's moans came more rapidly. Soon, my mouth was filled with his seed and I swallowed it quickly. When the hand clenched in my hair relaxed, I drew away, licking the trail of the droplet of wine that I had missed earlier. When I reached his throat, I moved suddenly to capture his lips. The sweet taste of the liquor he had consumed was still in his mouth and I gathered it with my tongue. Without realizing it was happening, I rose with Vin as he was urged upwards. Master Larabee began to thrust into Vin while watching us kiss.
A cry of completion caught my attention and I pulled away from Vin's mouth to search for the source. Master Larabee was holding tight to Vin's hips, his head thrown back in ecstasy as he emptied his balls into the tight passage. I sank back slowly to sit on my heels as I watched. Vin didn't appear to be hurting as he rode the final disjointed thrusts. His chest heaved and his hands hung limply at his sides. After a few minutes, Master Larabee eased out of Vin's body, gently coaxing him to lie down on the pillows. His hazel eyes raked over me before dropping to check the cock harness I wore. For the first time that evening, I realized that it hurt. My own erection was straining against the leather straps. His hands ghosted up my thighs, touching the harness. I cried out as my cock sprang free. My master poured more of the oil into his palm and reached out to touch me. I flinched, trying to back away.
"Don't! Don't hurt me," I begged. In spite of my fear over what he would do to me for resisting his touch, I tried to back away.
"On your back," he commanded harshly. The tone of his voice cut through my fear, forcing me to comply. The satiny pillows felt almost icy to my heated skin as I lay down. Remembering my training, I resisted the urge to pull my knees up to protect myself. As I had been trained, I stretched my hands up and lay completely still. I watched as he took up the bottle of wine, dripping it along my shaft. I cried out in surprise at the cool liquid.
"Vin," my master called gently. At his command, the longhaired beauty rose and moved. Master Larabee positioned him between my legs. Vin did not move, he had not been given permission. The blond moved until he was above my head. He grasped my wrists, holding them to the rug before nodding to Vin.
His mouth descended and I cried out at the insistent suction that enveloped my erection. Vin's tongue lapped the length of my shaft and his chin nudged my balls, sending a jolt through me that caused me to writhe and quiver. My hands opened and closed ineffectually on air as I sought to guide him back to what he had been doing.
"Please Vin," I begged. I was rewarded again with the sweet suction. It took only seconds before I climaxed, thrusting and screaming. When I regained my senses, Vin was licking me clean, his insistent tongue prolonging the tingle in my gut. Something was pressed against my lips and the thick, sweet jalatha wine saturated my tongue. Vin's body soon covered mine as I slipped blithely into sleep.
When I wakened, it was light out. Vin lay alongside of me, his arm wrapped around my waist. Memories of the night before assailed me and I sighed. Blue eyes opened and Vin smiled as he stretched and pressed against me. He kissed me gently before pulling away.
"We must hurry! Josiah will save breakfast for us," he said as he drew me to my feet. We hurried through the camp, I noticed that several knowing grins were directed toward us. True to his word, Vin found a pan that Josiah had set aside for us. We wolfed down the food before the guards came to escort us to our duties for the day. I cheerfully accepted the harness and threw myself whole-heartedly into my work.
That night, all of the slaves were brought together. Master Larabee called to Vin and he gracefully knelt where he was shown. A gleaming metal collar was set around his neck and locked. Tears of happiness welled in my eyes as I watched. I knew that Vin had been traded around a lot before winding up with Master James. He was not thrilled to be a slave, but he had made his peace with the idea. He wanted, desperately, to please Master Larabee so that he didn't have to worry about being traded away or sold like so much chattel. Vin lowered his face demurely as tears of joy rolled down his cheeks. JD burst from the gathered slaves to embrace Vin.
As happy as I was for Vin, I was also fiercely jealous. He walked with a new spring in his step. When he bathed, he carefully scrubbed the collar so that it gleamed. I had no collar and was in fact still a virgin, I hated him for having what I didn't. I took to sleeping near Josiah again so that he wouldn't see how much I envied him.
A new tent was set up in our camp a week later. A free man from Jobar, far to the east, had come to visit my master. I was given to the man, Master Nichols, to tend to his belongings. When I entered the tent, something ran past me, startling me. I was dismayed to see that whatever it was had pulled one of the garments from the open trunk. Lifting the silky material, I groaned at the holes and runs I saw. Hoping that the man would not miss it, I stuffed the cloth into the trash pail under the remnants of the morning meal. After I had put away the clothes, I took the pail to the trash heap.
"Ezra, come here," Master Larabee called several hours later. The anger in his voice made me cringe. I followed him to the new tent. "Did you put away all of Master Nichols' things this morning as you were told?"
"Yes Master," I quickly replied.
"Did you see a red and yellow silk shirt as you were putting things away?"
I had, it was the one the animal destroyed. "No Master," I lied.
"Are you sure? It was right on top of the trunk," Master Nichols said.
"No Master, I didn't see it. I put everything away just as you commanded."
One of the guards walked up with the soiled garment in his hand. "I found this in the trash pile."
Sweat stood out on my body as I stared at the fluttering bit of cloth. Ashamed and afraid, I couldn't lift my eyes to my master.
"Do you know how this got to the trash, Ezra?" Master Larabee asked.
"No Master," I whispered. He sighed and I dared to raise my head.
"It was my jingo, Minx. I keep the cloth for him so that he doesn't damage anything else. I trained him that this cloth was the only one he was allowed to lie on," Master Nichols said. I glanced at him and was horrified to see the small beast perched on his shoulder.
"I... I... didn't know! It frightened me! I didn't know the animal belonged to you!" I hurriedly explained. My master's expression remained hard.
"Why didn't you just admit it?" he asked.
"I was... afraid."
Master Larabee reached out, grasping my chin. "Have I been so cruel to you? Have I hurt you for no reason? I have been patient with you, gentle. You shame me, Ezra." He motioned to the guards and they grabbed me, pulling me to my feet. "Take him to the whipping poles and wait for me."
"Please Master! I'm sorry! Don't punish me," I begged as I was dragged across the camp.
Josiah had shown me the poles when I first arrived, after I was well enough to leave the dormitory. He explained that a slave would be suspended by their wrists from the upper pole. Their ankles would be tied to the lower poles so that they neither swung nor twisted under the blows. He was warning me, telling me to be careful. I should have heeded his words.
My hands were lashed together and the rope tossed over the upper pole. A rope attached near the ground was tied to my left ankle and then to my right with about two feet of slack. When the rope was secured to the other pole, my legs were spread and I was unable to move. Josiah approached me, intense sadness burning in his eyes as he covered my groin with a sturdy leather pouch. The thin cord was passed around my hips and tied in the front. I saw them coming, the other slaves. Vin had tears in his eyes. Buck looked strangely pleased that I should be punished. Nathan would not meet my eyes, he would care for me afterwards. JD looked horrified. He ran to Master Larabee and threw himself at his feet, wrapping his arms around his master's waist, shaking in fear. Tenderly, JD was petted and sent back to Master's tent, he need not witness the punishment.
"Please, please don't! I'm sorry! I'll never do it again!" I begged as I saw him on the edge of the clearing.
"No, I don't think you will," he replied. "You have lied before and you lied again, in spite of your previous master punishing you. You stole from my peasants. You betrayed a friend," my master said. I cringed at the listing of my transgressions. Through tear filled eyes, I looked to Buck. "You will now pay the price."
The whip connected solidly with my lower back and I screamed. I lost track of how many times I felt the burning touch. When I passed out, I was revived with a bucket of cold water. The whipping continued. I was beyond crying out. The pale green sky was cloudless as I stared up at it, praying for all of this to end. Another lash stole my breath and I looked at Vin. He had gone to his knees clinging to Josiah.
"Bring him down and bind him," my master said. My feet scarcely touched the ground before I was thrown against a tree. The rough bark irritated my raw back and I struggled. Thick leather straps encircled my ribs, pinning my arms at my sides. Another strap tightened around my thighs. Master Larabee took a cloth and dried the sweat from my upper right chest. His eyes were still hard when he looked at me. "You will now be branded with the Harkers brand. You should pray that you don't fall into the hands of any of my enemies, they will teach you the true meaning of slavery when they see it."
Josiah approached me with a length of cloth. He passed it around from behind me and used it to raise my head, imprisoning my chin so that I could not move. I felt the heat long before the iron even touched my skin. Held so perfectly, I could not move but had to wait for its searing kiss. Unable to open my mouth, I groaned as the iron was pressed into my flesh. I felt a brief tinge of shame at having wet myself but it was miniscule compared to the agony I felt. When the cloth around my chin loosened, my head sagged limply forward. I only barely realized that Nathan was smoothing something cooling onto the brand. The straps were removed and I collapsed into Josiah's waiting arms.
For two days, I lay on my stomach in the dormitory while Nathan tended to my back. He assured me repeatedly that I would bear no scars from the whipping. It was nothing compared to the mark burned into my chest. When he pronounced me fit to return to my work, I went. The guards and other slaves scorned and mocked me wherever I went. Not even Vin's embrace could bring a smile. I resolved to do whatever I was told until I could figure out a way to escape. I had to get away from this place. Master Larabee seemed to delight in watching me, often summoning me to his tent to serve him his supper. On my knees, I hand fed him. Harnessed and restrained, he made me watch as he took the others, making certain that they screamed in pleasure under him. He never touched me or allowed me to touch the others.
Finally, something inside of me shattered. I refused to leave the dormitory in the morning until the guard rousted me with a switch. I dallied with my work until they slapped me. I refused to eat. For three days, I had only water. My body bore testament to the displeasure of the guards. On the third evening, I was brought before my master.
"I'm giving you to Master Nichols. He seems to find you amusing. Perhaps you will be happier with him than you have been with me," he said. Before I could find my voice to protest, I was gagged and hauled away. I was not even allowed to see Vin or the others again.
Master Nichols saw fit to clothe me, after a fashion. A rectangle of cloth with an opening for my head and a length of rough twine to cinch it around my waist, the garment marked me as the lowest of lowly slave. While in the forest, I rode on the back of one of his draft animals. As soon as we reached the grasslands, he made me walk.
True to what Master Larabee said, the Harkers brand drew attention to me. In the taverns we passed, Master Nichols allowed men to beat and humiliate me exchange for drinks. It seemed that they enjoyed telling others how they had abused a Harkers slave. But he never used me nor did he permit anyone else to use me. He said that as a virgin, I would fetch a fantastic price on the market. I ate because he ordered me to, I existed. I no longer cared what happened to me.
For three long weeks, I walked across the grasslands. I learned that Master Nichols came from a large family of all boys. Their father had died when the youngest was a mere baby. They were wealthy enough that they were able to keep their considerable holdings. All of his brothers worked, either on their farm or in the village, earning money to support the family. Matthew, my present master, often went out in search of runaway slaves. He collected the bounty on the ones he returned. It was a hand to mouth type of existence but occasionally he had money or something of worth to return to his family, now he had me.
Mistress Nichols was a pleasingly plump woman with smile lines. She welcomed her son happily and marveled over the new slave he had brought. Expressing her dismay at my condition, she ordered me to bathe and rest for a few days. When rested, she decided to keep me around for a while. Under her gentle tutelage, I learned to garden and to cook. I pressed clothes and tended to the house. The youngest of the Nichols' children were barely more than toddlers and I was charged with overseeing and protecting them. Because of that responsibility, I was given clothing. While I was now clothed and treated well, I was also desperately lonely. The other slaves shunned me because I had been a pleasure slave and because I was branded. The loneliness burned in me at night as I lay on my soft pallet in the floor of the children's nursery. The walls of the room were painted a rich, golden color and they reminded me of Master Larabee's tent.
Coming from the market one afternoon, I passed a group of Mistress Nichols' field slaves. One of them deliberately bumped into me, spilling the groceries to the ground. I glared at him before turning to gather the things back into the basket. I never saw the rake handle that connected with my skull.
When I awoke, I was in agony. I couldn't breathe through my nose because of the swelling. Not that I could breathe easily with broken ribs anyway. My eyes were swollen nearly shut and my shoulder was out of place again. I recognized that I was in a ditch before darkness claimed me again.
A cool cloth touched my face and I groaned. Firm hands prevented me from moving. Bandages bound my ribcage and held my arm tightly to my body. My aching head was lifted and cool water touched my lips. Like ambrosia, the water energized me. I opened my eyes, looking up at my mistress.
It wasn't Mistress Nichols who tended to me and I frowned. Too weak and weary to question, I slipped back into a dreamless slumber. When I wakened next, a spoon filled with warm broth was held to my lips. I eagerly took all that was offered and washed it down with more of the delicious water. My hunger and thirst abated, I questioned my caretaker.
"Please Mistress, where am I?"
"I'm not your mistress. My aunt and I found you in a ditch, near dead. We've been tending your injuries for the past few days. Do you remember what happened to you?"
"Beaten by the other slaves. Mistress Nichols will be furious! I must return and beg her forgiveness!" I cried as I sought to sit up.
"The entire Nichols family was killed in a slave revolt. Only the youngest of the children survived and they were taken away for their protection. Warnings are out all over the area for them. You must rest now. You need to give your body a chance to heal."
The women, Nettie and her niece Casey, took care of me until I was completely healed. I stayed with them, helping tend their garden. When several of the slaves responsible for the Nichols' slayings were caught, we went to town to watch them punished. They were brought up individually to the platform. The executioner had a variety of methods at his disposal. His goal was to make the deaths as painful and gruesome as possible to discourage other slaves from getting any ideas.
First, he castrated them, cauterizing the wound with a hot knife. Their hands, which had raised weapons against their master, were crushed with a maul. Their kneecaps were also smashed because they had run away. They were also burned with torches, writhing and screaming in their bonds. That they should be made to suffer, chains were wrapped around their ribcages and slowly tightened, crushing the life out of them. I lost my lunch early on in the demonstration of justice and Nettie petted my shoulder soothingly. When it was all over, docile and timid slaves all over the city shook with fear.
For Nettie and Casey, having a slave was a new thing. They had never been able to afford one before. Willingly, I pulled the plow, allowing them to have a larger garden. On my hands and knees, I pulled weeds and propped up the seedling plants. I made a few simple repairs to their house. I was well fed and cared for but I was still empty inside. One afternoon, I saw a familiar frame topped with blond hair being dragged along, his hands bound behind his back.
That evening, I heard Nettie telling Casey that a band of Harkers had been captured and would be sentenced to death. My heart sank to my toes as I remembered the preferred method of execution. I could not bear the thought of Master Larabee screaming that way. It was several days before the verdicts were announced. My mistresses took me with them into town to shop and to see the feared and hated Harkers. I gasped as I recognized the guards who had tormented me in the camp. A little farther down the line, I saw some of the free men who had frequently visited my former master. When I spotted the last cage, I wanted to cry. Master Larabee was chained in the hot sun, his arms and legs stretched and painfully bound. I could tell that he'd had no food and probably little water since his capture. I quickly knelt beside the cage and looked at him. His eyes tightened when he saw me. Pulling a handkerchief from my pocket, I soaked it in the pan of tepid water that sat in the cage. I offered it to him, reaching through the bars. He opened his mouth and greedily sucked the moisture from the cloth. Three times I wet the cloth and held it for him before he spoke.
"Ezra, go away from here before you are punished," he rasped.
"Master, please... tell me what to do," I begged.
"Get away from there!" a man yelled, his foot connecting with my hip and sending me sprawling in the dirt. "Go on, get away before I put you in a cage too!"
Nettie hurried over and led me away. We quickly finished our shopping and returned home. That night, the first of the executions was carried out. On the still night air, I could hear the agonized screams. Scalding tears rolled down my cheeks as I cried myself to sleep.
Two days later we heard that the leader of the Harkers had somehow escaped. I tried to conceal my joy at hearing that my former master had not been so brutally killed. I went about my duties as before, smiling like a fool every time I saw a person with golden blond hair on the road. I was getting a drink from the well when I overheard Casey talking to Nettie.
"The leader of the Harkers offered me a lot of money for him. He said that if we brought him there tonight, he would even give us another slave in exchange."
"He'll be killed if we sell him to that man. Do you want that for him? He's a good and gentle slave and he's helping us here. I don't want to lose him," Nettie replied.
That night, I cried in my sleep. Master Larabee had come for me! He wanted me! Even if I never saw him again, I was overjoyed to know that he had searched for me. My dreams were filled with images of the camp, of licking jalatha wine from Vin's body, of his ecstatic cries of pleasure when Master Larabee filled him. I awoke to blankets wet with my own seed and an aching emptiness inside.
The next morning, a pair of strangers came to the door. I was working in the garden and tried to ignore them. When Nettie called for me, I rested my hoe against the fence and went to her.
"Ezra, these men have papers saying you belong to them. You must go with them," she said sadly. Fear washed over me as my hands were shackled and a rope place about my neck. I could hear Casey sobbing as I was dragged down the road. Numb with shock and newly found grief, I stumbled along behind my new masters.
My next stop was an auction block. Bathed and with my hair neatly trimmed, I was displayed. A mark on my thigh indicated that I was still a virgin and several men leered at me. When I was shoved onto the stage, the handler put me in position as a pleasure slave.
"He has been working on a farm, ladies and gentlemen, but the calluses on his hands can be softened. Just imagine these sweet, full lips wrapped around you as you fill his throat or the tightness of his untried ass. Can't you see these green eyes looking at you as you force him to your bed?"
The bidding was fast and furious. When the bidding was ended, I was dragged from the stage. My leash was handed to a gruesome looking man who fondled me roughly before tossing me across the back of his horse. Despair settled over me and I surrendered myself to the inevitable.
We had been riding for several hours when the riders came from the other direction. A haughty voice rang out over the snorting and stamping of the animals.
"Eat steel!" my new owner replied as he drew a sword from the sheaf on the saddle. I could only cringe and hope that I wasn't killed or maimed in the fighting. Sparks from the swords landed on my bare skin and I flinched. The distinctive clanging of sword on sword and sword on shield filled my ears, deafening me. The animal I was bound to leaped and twisted, throwing me around against the ropes that held me in place. A different sound ended the confrontation, a wet sounding cough cut off a cry of pain and I felt blood dripping on my back. My new owner slumped and fell from the saddle. The victor leapt from his mount, grabbing the riderless animal. Before I could look upon my new owner, a bag was placed over my head.
After they resituated me on the horse, we rode off. Being blindfolded was disorienting and I concentrated on keeping my stomach from rebelling. When we stopped to rest the animals, another strip of cloth was tied around my eyes over the bag. The bottom of the bag was lifted and a cup held to my lips. I slaked my thirst before the cup was withdrawn. That night, my new captors made camp. I was allowed to relieve myself before being chained to a tree. Once again, the bag was lifted and I was given water. In addition, some dried meat was placed in my mouth. When I had finished it, a piece of fruit was given to me followed by more water. With a full stomach, I quickly fell into an exhausted sleep.
I was roughly awakened in the morning and fed again. After tending to the call of nature, I was tied to the horse again. All day we rode. My captors did not bother to speak to me other than to tell me that they were going to feed or water me. By nightfall, I was exhausted and sore from riding. I sank gratefully to the ground and lapsed into sleep.
When I opened my eyes, I was shocked. It took only a moment for me to tell myself that I was still dreaming. Above my head was a canopy of gold. I rolled to my side, gasping in shock at the smiling face mere inches from my own.
"Master?" I questioned foolishly.
"Hello, Ezra, my pretty one. Did you sleep well?"
I wept as I tumbled into his arms. I clenched my eyes closed for fear that it was all a dream and I didn't want to know who it was I was really clinging to. Finally, firm hands forced me from him and I looked up again. He was still there, looking tenderly at me. From outside, I heard footfalls. Tearing my eyes away from his face, I looked toward the tent flap. My heart clenched as Vin stepped into the tent and came to my side. I lifted one trembling hand to touch his face and card through his hair.
That night, the camp celebrated. Josiah had embraced me so tightly that I thought my eyes would pop out. JD hugged me too, nuzzling seductively near my ear before licking my earlobe. Nathan smiled and said only that he was glad to see that he wouldn't have to fix me up. I turned from Nathan to see Buck standing behind me. Around his neck was a jeweled collar unlike any I had ever seen. I learned that it meant he was first among the work slaves. Timidly, I went to my knees before him, ashamed to even look upon him. In a heartbeat, he was on his knees too, holding me in his arms and assuring me that he had forgiven me. Before the evening meal, I was brought before Master Larabee and driven to my knees. Around my neck, he affixed a metal collar, his lust-filled eyes searing me right down to my soul. That night, he took me alone to his tent.
I watched as he undressed, his lean, hard muscles rippling beneath the golden skin. My mouth watered as my stomach tightened at the sight of the thick, heavy shaft that stood proudly from his groin. Needing no urging, I went to my knees, offering myself up to him.
He took me that night, removing forever my innocence and my virginity. With gentle, patient hands, he prepared me. His calming touch and voice centered me and helped me through the first painful entry into my body. Strong fingers wrapped around my aching erection and steered me toward my climax. Afterwards, as I slumped against the softening shaft that was still embedded within me, I felt something else. Opening my eyes, I saw Vin leaning over me to lap up the fluid from my stomach. I moaned as I reached for him and he kissed me, his lips bearing the taste of sweet wine. My master eased himself from me and gestured for Vin to take his place. For a second time that night, I was impaled and made to cry out in ecstasy.
That is how I came to be in the possession of the Harkers leader, Master Chris Larabee. We have since moved from the village in the woods to a city. The Harkers were elected to positions of authority all over the country. My master now has a sprawling mansion and many slaves to serve his needs. Josiah is in charge of running the house and Nathan sees to the care of all of the slaves. JD was offered his freedom and the chance to return to his family but he declined. It seems that he is in love with Buck and unwilling to leave him. Although Master Larabee can call any one of us to his bed at any time, he is content usually with Vin and I.
These final paragraphs I will put down so that the reader may understand the enormity of what we have learned from this slave, Ezra P. Standish. It appears that the reports of UFO's in the countryside were not the product of too much wine or shooting stars. Our scholars reason that there are indeed ships coming from other planets landing on our soil. We hope to one day locate or capture one so that we may study its construction. An investigation has discovered that there are indeed several hundred slaves on our planet who were brought here from other worlds. Many were bought by highly placed, wealthy individuals. I have never regretted the day that I decided to reacquire Ezra from the village where I had been sentenced to die. It surprised me that, after beating and branding him, he would show kindness to me the way he did. By giving me those few precious drops of water, he saved my life. My own men rescued me that very night. I was disappointed when the women refused to sell him to me.
The men who took him to the auction house have never been identified. They are part of the group that is bringing the captives to our planet. A vote taken by our ruling council has decided not to free any of the slaves, regardless of their planet of origin. At Ezra's request, I did find out what happened to the younger Nichols' boys. After some negotiating, they were relocated to a home with the women, Nettie and Casey, looking after them. It never ceases to amaze me the loving concern my green-eyed slave has for those less fortunate. Although it seems to me that a slave is already less fortunate than the lowest of free men or women.
As I finish this narrative, I can't help but smile at the beauty of form that the pair of my slaves exhibits. Even now, they are curled together, palest white and golden tanned, dark curly hair and golden brown silken tresses. It takes so little to keep them happy and I am willing to provide it to them because they are keeping me young.
Signed, Master Christopher Larabee, ruling the Kondar Province of the planet Pelo-canopis.
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