Found in Passing
1. PASSING ON THE ROAD
“Oh, sir? You’re not a Cordovan, right? Are you from nearby, sir? Please?”
The man in merchant robes looked up at the girl tied naked against the tree beside the road. Someone had mounted a pole horizontally and tied her wrists to it, well apart and over her head, and she stood upon a wooden crate that kept her clearly visible to everyone nearby. On the other side of the road the land sloped down to a river, with few dozen military men about their business. Presumably she belonged to them.
“Indeed I am. Why are you asking, slave girl?”
“I’m not a slave!”, the girl protested.
“No?” He looked at her neck, and then down at her body. It was a natural act; she was an attractive young brunette with a firm body, small breasted but with pleasant curves. She shifted in embarrassment at the man’s examination. Her throat bore no owner’s collar; perhaps she was not a slave.
“Why are you there, then?”
“I was captured, by the soldiers! Please, can you help me?”
“That depends on several things. But tell me what happened, free woman.”
“They overran the camp I was in! My father is an officer with the Bethel army and they, they…”
“The soldiers got you, yes. So I see.”
“You’re not a Cordovan, are you? I can read your pass sash. You’re a neutral. Can you help me, sir? Please?”
“That’s a fair question and it deserves a fair answer, girl. No, I cannot. One of the conditions for my presence near the army is to report any abuses of power, and let’s be honest, more than one peasant girl has been carried away because she caught the eye of a soldier. Some of them even regretted it. But you have been caught perfectly fairly, my dear; your father is an enemy combatant and you are fair game for any Cordovan soldier who can catch you.”
The girl put her head down and moaned.
“Have they told you what they’re going to do with you?”
“They, they…” She shook her head.
“They’re going to enslave you.”
“I don’t want to be a slave!”
“I’m sure you don’t. But you’ve been captured now, and it‘s only a matter of time. What you want is not important. You have already been captured and stripped naked; soon you will be collared and legally enslaved. You are going to be a slave girl.”
“I, I know,” she choked out.
“I don’t blame you for being frightened. It will be a great change from what you’re used to, and one you will remember all your life. There is much to fear about slavery. You don’t even know who will buy you.”
The girl trembled in her bonds, half overcome.
“Look me in the eyes, my dear.” The girl lifted her head. The crate she stood on put their faces at the same height. “Would you like me to tell you some things you don’t have to fear?”
She nodded, her chin quivering.
“You don’t need to fear men who don’t know how to handle women, either clumsy or ignorant, not any time soon. Armies have taken young women like you since the dawn of time; the Cordovans will keep you safely and securely until they deliver you to professional slave traders, who are even better. You may not like what they do, but they know how to do it.
“You will not need to worry about anything that ever bothered you as a free woman,” he continued. “Not ever again. You will never have to save money, or serve your country, or find a good marriage. Those things are for free people, and aren’t allowed to slaves.
“You may not even have thought of it, but you also don’t need to fear a clumsy or ugly brand. Professional slave traders know that you will fetch a much better price on the auction block with a clean and pretty brand. They will take no chances on a fumbled mark.”
“They are going to brand me, aren’t they?” She was still fearful, but no longer panicked.
“Yes, absolutely. It’s part of the standard sales conditions. Every woman the army brings in must be marked before she is sold, and as soon after she’s brought in as is practical.”
The girl at the tree nodded, resigned to the iron. She had obviously expected nothing else.
“Are you afraid to be branded?”
“Yes, sir, a little. But if I’m going to be a slave, I have to be branded, right?”
“I hadn’t thought about it, but I’ve seen slaves and they were branded. I don’t want it, sir, really I don’t, but I can’t get away.”
“No, my dear, no you can’t. You will be wearing a unmistakable slave brand, and a collar, and nothing else, when you step out onto the auction block.”
The girl moaned and closed her eyes tightly. Tears appeared on her cheeks. With the end of one sleeve the merchant dabbed a few away.
“Too much truth at once, little one?”
She nodded, then choked out, “It w-was the auction block.”
“The army can’t very well keep all the women it captures.”
“I, I know, sir. But…”
For the first time he touched her naked body, touching her belly and hip and thigh. She shifted in her bonds. “When you open your eyes I’m going to tell you something.”
The girl took several breaths before she blinked her eyes clear of tears. Only then did she timidly look up at him.
“You are a pretty girl,” he told her. “You are going to bring a good price the first time you are sold, and a better one the next time. Do you hear me?”
She nodded jerkily.
“You may not have known that. Have you ever thought about being sold?”
She shook her head, her attention fixed on him now. “N- n- no, sir,” she choked out.
“Men will pay good money for a girl like you. Very good money indeed. When you are properly trained and have become an eager slave you will be an even more expensive piece of merchandise, and one that men will treasure.”
Despite looking terrified again and shifting uncontrollably in her bonds she answered, “Thank you?” It was clearly a question.
“You’re welcome. I cannot free you, and I doubt I would if I could. But perhaps I can make a girl’s journey into slavery a little easier.”
“You, um, you don’t have to keep calling me ‘girl.‘ I do have a name.”
He put a finger across her lips, quieting her. “Yes you do. I don’t wish to know it. You have it for now, and until the moment you are legally enslaved. Then it is gone. Forever, I think; once you are truly a slave, I doubt any man will want to free you.”
“Yes sir,” she said softly.
A bell sounded from some distance down the road and the man looked that way, towards something out of sight. “Ah, it’s noon. I have a lunch appointment waiting for me down the road, little captive girl.”
“I don’t know how long this army unit will be here. If you’re gone before I return we may never see each other again. Will you remember something?”
“I’ll try, sir.”
“Your life as a free person is over. You may not be legally enslaved yet, but that’s a technicality; you may be branded before sundown. Men have caught you and they’re going to keep you. Forget about freedom; it is behind you. Accept that you are a slave girl, that you are a piece of property, and that your purpose is to serve your masters, whoever may own you.”
Tears ran freely down her face but she answered, “Yes sir.”
He smiled, then leaned forward and kissed her cheek, tasting the salt.
“Good luck, my dear. I hope you get a good master.”
He turned away and walked down the road, his merchant robes swishing as he moved. He didn’t look back.
2. THE GIRL AT THE TREE
He returned with a full stomach and the promise of lucrative sales to the military in his future. He was a little surprised to see the soldiers still down at the river, but that meant that their captive was still in place as well.
She saw him almost as soon as he came into sight. “Master!”, she cried loudly, giving him the first smile he’d seen on her. “You came back! You came back!”
Some of the soldiers looked over at her, smiling and laughing at her reaction.
He didn’t answer until he got close enough to speak quietly. He returned her smile. “So it’s ‘Master’ now?”
“My life of freedom is behind me, you said. Isn‘t it?” she said, suddenly uncertain again.
“Yes, my dear, very much so. Have any of these fellows told you when you will be collared, or branded?”
“No, sir. Master, I mean.”
“I will take no offense just now. Other men may not be so indulgent. You have much to get used to.”
“I, I, yes, Master, I will; I’ve never been a slave before. I… Oh, Master--!”
Her face fell in confusion and she twisted in the ropes holding her, almost falling off the wooden crate. The merchant caught her, holding the naked girl by the hips lest she kick away the crate and hang helplessly by her wrists.
“What’s all this about, girl? You were happy to see me a moment ago!”
“Master… I, I...” She gulped air and blurted, “Master, this girl deserves a whipping!”
“You do? Why?”
“I, I lied to you before, Master. You asked if I had ever thought about being sold and I said I hadn’t and that wasn’t true.”
“Oh, so you have.” It didn’t seem to surprise him.
“Yes, Master. I have thought about being sold, and wondered what it would be like. I’ve been thinking about it since you left, and I don’t think I should have denied it when you asked.”
“Because slaves aren’t allowed to keep secrets from the free?” His hands were still on her hips, and he squeezed a bit to remind her of them.
She nodded, her chin quivering. “Yes, Master. And…and...”
“And I shouldn’t keep secrets from you, Master. You’re the nicest person I’ve met since I was captured and I don’t want to be a bad girl around you. I don’t want to be a slave - really, I don’t - but whatever I am you deserve… well, you deserve for me to be nice to you.”
“You really did need a kind word, didn’t you, girl?”
“Yes, Master, I really did.”
“And you think you deserve a whipping?”
“I…” She turned her head as much as she could. “I don’t know! I mean, I didn’t mean any harm, and I know we just happened to meet each other, and you aren’t really my master or anything, and I’m technically not even really a slave yet, and, and…”
“You’re working yourself up, girl.”
“I know, Master.” She took a few deep breaths, then looked him in the face and spoke calmly. “Master… It’s because you’re a good man. I could lie to a mean man, or a soft one, or just someone at random, but you were honest, and sympathetic with me even though we both knew what’s going to happen to me. You were always honest with me, Master. I should be honest with you, too.”
“I think you really are a good girl at heart. Now answer me something, honestly. Do you think you deserve a whipping?”
She looked as if she wanted to burst into tears again but nodded. “From you, Master, if you think so. You should if you want to. I lied to you and you should discipline me if you think I need it.”
He took her head in both hands and studied her face for a few moments; whatever he found there, he then looked lower, at all her flesh on display. He reached a decision.
“I am going to go talk to your captors.” He met her gaze and added, “Don’t go away.”
He walked down into the riparian meadow. He talked for a while with soldiers. She couldn’t hear anything. Various people looked at her. After a while the merchant returned. He had a whip.
The naked girl eyed it with fear.
“If you have changed your mind, save your breath. I have decided to whip you and your captors have agreed.”
He held up the leather for her to see. “This is a normal slave whip. You might not have been whipped yet, but you will feel whips like this in the future. Bad girls are whipped often, obedient and eager girls only rarely. Normally the girl is suspended or at a whipping post, but with you backed against a tree, I’ll just have to work around it. Do you understand?”
“I think so, Master.”
He looked her over, selected a spot, and laid the leather across her belly with a resounding smack. Her piercing scream announced the act to everyone. She had barely drawn breath again when another strike evoked another cry of pain. He gave her another, and another. Neither counted strokes but the beating was fast and unrelenting.
Soon it was over. The girl hung limply from the crossbar, blubbering softly. The merchant was breathing heavily himself as he coiled the whip again. He found and retrieved the crate and put it back under the girl. He guided her feet back onto it, and paid only a little attention to where bending down in front of her put his face or what he could see of her from there. She was to be a slave soon anyway.
She had quieted a bit.
“Hurts, doesn’t it?”
“People say it’s good for a slave to know her place. It’s good for her to know that she’ll be whipped if her master is unhappy with her. What about you? Have you learned anything from the whip?”
“I didn’t know it would be like that!”
“Whips cause pain. That’s what they’re for.”
“Yes, Master, but…” She looked confused, unable to speak what was on her mind.
“But that’s pain, Master. I hurt, right? I’ve just been whipped, and my arms have been up like this for way too long, and I kind of have to go to the toilet. I hurt! I hurt a lot! And I’m going to be branded, and I can’t even imagine that. But it was easier to be whipped.”
She sniffled and continued, “I did learn something when you whipped me, Master. I discovered that I’d rather be whipped by you than disappoint you. I gave you less than you deserved, and you had absolutely every right to whip me for it.”
She squeaked in surprise as he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her. When his lips found her open mouth she didn’t know what to do at first, but quickly returned the kiss with willingness though no skill. Her naked body was still tender from the whip; it was also warm and soft and offered no resistance at all.
When he finally lifted his lips from hers he said quietly, “You are going to make a fantastic slave girl.”
“Yes. You have just been captured and you’re already showing the responses of a devoted girl eager to please her master. You are a natural slave. That will increase your price more than blonde hair or big breasts would.”
“How can I be a natural slave? I was free just yesterday…”
“Being born to free parents only makes you legally free. We all know that free people can fall into slavery; is it really so surprising that a natural slave might not be in a collar?”
“I guess not. But… me?”
He smiled kindly. “Yes, you. Your owner is going to be a very lucky man, young lady.”
“Oh, Master…” She began crying on his shoulder.
“Let’s not get that started again, girl.”
“It’s not me being scared this time.”
“Either way.” He moved back just enough that her breasts were not pressed against his chest and dried her face with his sleeve again. “I stand by what I said. Your future master had better count himself lucky to own you.”
“I hope… Master?”
“Would you like to own me?”
He was taken aback a moment; this time it was him who struggled for words. Finally he answered, “Girl, I’m old enough to be your father.”
“You’re not my father. I don’t even know if my father’s still alive! You’re not him, you’re you. And… and you’re the best master I’ve met.”
“Girl, you haven’t met that many masters. You haven’t even been legally enslaved yet.”
“What is it slave girls are supposed to say? ‘Buy me, Master’?”
“Yes,” he admitted. “Slaves for sale say that.”
“Buy me, Master. Please buy me! I know I’m not trained but I’m smart, I learn quickly. I can sew really well, I can make and repair your clothes and I’m sure I can learn how to make slave girl clothes, unless you want to keep me naked of course. And I’m an fair cook, and I’m good with numbers if you need me to help with bookkeeping--”
“Hold on, there, girl!”
She stopped, and he grinned at her. He rarely heard a sales pitch quite like that. She returned the smile hesitantly.
“You’re overlooking at least one major point. Do you know what it is?”
She shook her head.
“We don’t know if you’re for sale.”
“Oh! Oh… you‘re right, Master…”
“I’m going to ask you a question, pretty girl. I’m going to need a truthful and honest answer.”
He took her head in his hands again, the cloth of his robe brushing her nipples. “Look deep inside your heart, girl. Are you looking for a master, or a rescuer?”
“Oh…” She looked surprised, then hesitant, and tried to look away for an instant. “That is a good question, Master. I, I may have to talk a while to give you all the answer I should…”
“Oh, thank you!
“Yes, yes, I did first call out because I hoped you could rescue me. Even now, I think it would be wonderful if you could. I’m scared and I don’t think I want to be a slave girl. Maybe you’re right and I’m a natural slave, and maybe I would be good at it - and I’d try ever so hard if you bought me, Master - but I’ve always been free until now and I don’t know anything about how to be a slave. It would be wonderful to return to my home and be a free person again… but I know it isn’t going to happen. And, Master?”
“If you can’t rescue me and can’t buy me…I want you to know that I won’t ever blame you for anything that happens to me. You found me like this, tied naked to a tree! Even if I never see you again, Master, and I spend the rest of my life as a slave, well, I’ll know that there are men like you out there. Maybe one of them will buy me someday.”
“That’s not a bad answer at all, dear girl. I don’t blame you a bit for wanting a rescuer, either. But I need answers to all of the question. What of the other part? Do you truly want to be my property?”
“I, I, I don’t know! I’ve never been a slave before! I’ve never been anyone’s property before! Ever since I was caught I’ve been surrounded by masters and I know they can make me a slave girl and I’m completely terrified because I know they’re men and I’m naked and it only takes one touch of a whip before I’m willing to do anything for them and I’m afraid you might be right about me being a natural slave…”
“Focus, girl, focus.”
“Sorry, Master! Sorry! I… I don’t know, Master. I think- no, no, I do know. It’s just taking me a while to put into words.”
She breathed heavily and gave him a timid smile. “Master... there is no man in all of the world I’d rather belong to. If I really am a natural slave, I think you might be my natural owner. You’re… a good man, and I think you're the right man for me. I would rather be a person, yes, but if I have to be property… I’d like to be your property. If you’re willing to buy me, I’d like that very much.”
“You truly feel that way? After two short conversations?
She nodded. “I don’t know why, but I do. Maybe because you were the first man to care about who I was, not just another girl to enslave. But… Master, somewhere nearby there’s a branding iron. It might be getting hot right now. I know it’s out there somewhere and it scares me so much I can’t even stand up sometimes. The soldiers, the slavers, anyone else is going to have to carry me there in chains. I, I think if you cut me loose from here, Master, I could follow you stark naked even through city streets all the way to that iron.”
He kissed her again and this time she was not surprised.
“I am going to go talk to the solders again.”
He walked down into the meadow; from the tree by the road she could see him speaking with some of the soldiers. They moved closer to the river bank and she lost sight of him.
After what seemed like much, much too long to the girl she caught sight of the merchant’s robes moving among the military uniforms. She beamed happily.
Several other men came along when he returned.
“So, Bethelite wench,” said one, the unit commander by his insignia. “I hear you’re already begging to be bought.”
“Y-yes, Master.” She winced, mortified, but it was true.
“I’ve been asked to come up here to explain things to you, even though you’re the kind of woman who does not usually get explanations of what free men choose to do with her.”
“No doubt you’ll get the chance to express your gratitude later. But for now, listen. This is what’s going to happen to you.
“You are a Bethelite and family to an active combatant in time of war. Now that we’ve caught you we’re allowed to kill you, enslave you, or ransom you. We’re going to enslave you.
“The army has contracts with several slave traders. You will be turned over to one of them. There you will be enslaved: collared and branded, documented as legally taken spoils of war, and given any training they may choose to give you. Then you will be sold for whatever they can get for you.
“No, Master,” she choked.
“Don’t be too distressed, girl,” the merchant said. “Worse things happen in wartime. I know you’d rather have left with me, but I never expected to take you home today; I’m not carrying the kind of money you are worth already.”
“No, no, Master, I do understand. Thank you for trying. And thank you very much for talking to a girl who needed someone, if only a little.”
“It really was my pleasure. You’re an exceptional girl. Before I go I’m going to tell you one last thing.”
“Sir? Master, I mean.”
“Learn your lessons well. Your masters will appreciate it. Do you remember what I said the first time I left?”
“Yes. My life as a free person is over. Accept that I am property now. I, I just wish I were your property, Master.”
He kissed her again and said, “Me, too, girl.”
He turned away. If he looked back she didn’t see it through her tears.
3. MEETING AT THE SLAVE HOUSE
At first the slave did not look up when she heard someone enter the courtyard, as people were coming and going all the time. She had much sewing to do, repairing clothes she was not permitted to wear, and a chain on her ankle to keep her in place while she did it.
Then the newcomer stopped only a few feet from her. She looked up and gasped.
“Master!”, she cried out in surprise, delighted. “My master! Oh, it’s good to see you!”
“And you too, girl!”
She turned to face him, kneeling in the dirt and spread her thighs wide to display herself, beaming happily. “You found me…”
“I found the house. Slave traders need to buy produce, too.”
“Oh, of course, Master.”
“I knew I could find you eventually. Do you know how many slave houses are taking in captives around here? Not all that many. It was only a matter of time.”
“And here you are. You found me, Master.”
“I see you have a collar now. It looks good on you.”
“Thank you, Master. I’m still getting used to it. All of the formalities are done with, though; I am legally a slave now.”
“I didn’t think it would take long.”
“No, Master, it didn‘t. The day after we met I was sold to the slave traders. And I got this.” She shifted to display a slave brand recently burned into her flesh.
“Ah, I see.” He laid a steadying hand on her, not too close to the brand, and examined her marked flesh. “You’re marked very nicely. Clearly, of course, so that everyone will know what you are, but also beautifully. You were afraid of it, I remember.”
“And I was right. Being branded hurt more than I can tell you, Master. But I was tied very tightly and when they used the iron on me I couldn’t do anything but scream while I was marked. It hurt for days afterwards. I kept thinking of it and remembering that I was a slave now, a branded slave.”
“That’s one of the reasons for branding you.”
“Yes, Master, I know…” She hesitated before adding, “There is another change in me since the last time we met, Master. It isn’t as visible, though.”
“Other than becoming a slave? What’s that?”
“I’m a slave who’s open for men.”
“Yes, Master. When we met then, I was a virgin. I’m not any more.”
“That’s as memorable as your enslavement, dear girl. I hope it wasn’t too painful for you. Who took your maidenhead?”
“I don’t know.”
“The night after you left, the soldiers… I don’t know who was first, Master; there were so many of them. And I was the only woman in their camp. I think most of them had me at least once.”
“Oh… Was it bad for you, girl?”
“It was rough sometimes, Master, but it’s nothing more than many girls go through. It hurt some, and I was sore a few days afterwards, but the soldiers weren’t being mean, just using me as a convenient woman.”
“And since then?”
“A few, Master. The men here may use any of us they like. But most of them go to the more experienced girls.”
“Not surprising, either way. Trained girls know well how to serve men’s needs; on the other hand, you are a pretty and willing slave.”
“Thank you, I think, Master. But I‘m not eager yet, I just know that I don't have a choice. Girls like me are at the mercy of men, you know.”
“As you where when I first found you by the roadside; nothing has changed that.”
“I‘m not sure, Master… I have changed. I don’t think I’m who I was when you saw me at the tree.”
“No? Something more than the fact of your enslavement, or your rape?”
“More than just that, I think, Master. It’s true I’m not the free person I was, I don’t have my name or citizenship any more, and legally I’m only an animal. But I think it’s more than just legal rules. You saw a free woman who was going to be enslaved, and now here I am, really a slave. I think I’m different now.”
He thought for a few moments, then said, “No, girl, I don’t think you’re so different. You’re much less scared than you were, it’s true, but I think you’re the same girl I met then. She was a sweet and intelligent girl, a natural slave who hadn’t been collared yet. Now here you are, collared. Legally you‘re not the person you were, but you haven‘t changed much at all.”
“I… like that answer, too, Master.”
“You should always know yourself. While it helps to listen to the people around you, you also need to listen to yourself. Who do you think you are?”
“Um… Well, now…” Her hand went to the metal collar at her throat. “Right now I’m Slave #489. But that’s only until I’m sold.”
“That’s what you’re called, not who you are.”
“Oh. Yes, I see, Master.”
“Do you really think you’re someone different before your capture?”
“I… I think I am, Master. I…” She crossed her arms over her chest, hugging herself, her head down. “Master…”
“What is it, girl?”
“Master, you’re a free man, and I’m only a slave girl; are you ordering me to tell you?”
He put his hand on her shoulder and said, “I think we established our opinions on truthful slaves when we first met. Yes, girl. I order you to tell me.”
“I think I’m your slave girl,” she confessed softly. “I don’t know why. I wouldn’t even be a slave if I had a choice. But you… Since I was captured you’re the only man I’ve wanted to belong to.
“You told me to accept my enslavement, and I’m trying to. But a slave needs a master. And… you’re my master. In my heart, you’re my master.”
He breathed a soft oath to himself in wonder. They were both quiet until he said, “Yes, I see. Girl, kneel.”
She slipped naturally back into a slave‘s position, with her thighs widely spread; he sat down on the ground facing her.
“There are some things I must tell you, girl. You might not like hearing some of them, but I think they must be said. Do you believe that I’m not going to tell you anything to hurt you?”
“I do, Master. I know you’ll tell me the truth because it’s true.”
“Good girl.” She smiled at his praise. He sighed and began, “Both of us need to accept that right now, I don’t own you. You’re the property of the Sunrise Slave Houses, and neither of us should let ourselves forget that. Clear so far?”
“Yes, Master. I have a collar, and chains, to remind me. But, Master… you, too?”
“I’m going to remember it, too. Girl, I can’t promise to buy you. I can’t even promise to be in town when you’re put up for auction. For that matter, even if I’m able to be there, it’s possible that I would be outbid. I am not a poor man, but there are other men with money, too. None of the other bidders are likely to know you as I do, girl, but you are not going to be cheap. Slave traders know how to present girls like you, and they’re going to make a nice profit when you’re sold.”
“Yes, girl; you’re going to bring a very good price on the auction block.”
“Oh, I hope so, Master!”
“That’s my money, remember. Or were you hoping for somebody richer?”
“No, Master! No, I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant…”
“I know. You just want to do well when you’re sold.”
“Y-yes, Master. Maybe I shouldn’t, to make it easier for you to afford me?”
“You’d best plan to be as attractive and desirable as you possibly can. Slave traders know when a girl is trying! Besides, what if I’m not one of the men bidding on you? A wealthier master might be better than a poorer one.”
She thought about this and said, “You’re right, Master. But…I hope you’re the one who finally buys me.”
“We’ll see. Hope is cheap.”
“For you, I wish I was…”
“No, girl, don’t wish that. To purchase a treasure is no waste of money.”
“A treasure? Me?”
“Let’s not get off subject, girl. The point is, I might not be able to even bid on you, much less buy you. I don’t want you to become too hopeful now, or heartbroken if you’re bought by someone else.”
“I… I know that’s a good idea. But I don’t want another master.”
“I know, dear girl. But then, you didn’t want to be a slave, either.”
“You’re right, Master. I’ll try.”
“I admit, though… I hope it is you, at the end.”
“Yes, well…” He sighed, looking a bit uncomfortable.
“Master? What is it?”
“There are some things which I think I should tell you, little girl, and if they change your mind about wanting to belong to me, so be it.”
She looked at him with a worried, pleading expression but he said, “Wait and listen, girl. When we first met, and you begged me to buy you, I told you that I was old enough to be your father. That’s still true, and I am well aware of the difference in our ages. You may be willing to look beyond it, but I haven’t forgotten that you are much younger than I am.
“Be that as it may. I’d hardly be the first man to buy a much younger slave, some pretty girl to warm his bed and be a pleasant decoration for his house. I always thought I wouldn’t be that sort of man. And, frankly, I think you can be more than a toy for a man who should know better.
“Which… has left me annoyed with myself over the last few days. Because I keep thinking about the girl I found on the road.” He grinned wryly to himself and sighed, not looking directly at the girl. She bit her lip, clearly wishing to talk. Then he turned his attention back to her.
“And now here she is. Girl, when I said you’re young enough to be my daughter, I wasn’t just talking about our ages. I had a family once. My wife was a wonderful woman,” he said wistfully. “The love of my life, I suppose; I haven’t remarried. You never get over these things, but as the years go by you get used to them. My wife was out on a supposedly safe road when brigands attacked; what they didn’t destroy they carried away, including my wife. I have not seen her since then; I expect she’s in a collar somewhere, serving men like any other slave.
“Our daughter was with her. She wasn’t killed in the attack, so they must have taken her, too. She would have been too young to bring a good price then. By now… by now she’ll be about your age, old enough for men to want to own her, old enough for men to see her as a woman. Old enough for men to... well. Just as they see you. I suppose my daughter has grown used to a collar by now too.”
He paused, looking again at the naked girl in front of him. He leaned forward and brushed away a tear from her face. Don’t cry, girl. It was nothing you did. You did not take my wife and daughter away from me. But you see my point, dear girl. I am not looking for a new wife, nor am I looking for a young girl to replace my daughter. They are both gone and I don’t expect to see either of them again. And just because I see a pretty slave for sale doesn’t mean that I should confuse her with either of them. Do you see?”
“You may speak now, girl.”
“Oh, Master, I’m so sorry for you! It must have been… I mean… I’m sorry, Master, I didn’t know. Can I…” She hesitated a moment, then said, “Master, if one pretty slave for sale can comfort you, in any way, please let her do so.”
He smiled at the girl and said, “You’re tempting in many ways, my girl, but I don’t think I’d say ‘comforting’.”
“I wish I could be,” she said softly. “I would like to comfort you and bring you happiness, Master. If I could, and were allowed to.”
“That’s…a much more tender request than ‘buy me, Master’.”
“I would beg that, too. I’m not your wife, or your daughter, only an untrained girl who’s going to be sold off soon. I know I can’t be a wife or daughter to you, Master, but… maybe, please, could I be your slave?”
“You still wish that, girl? After what you’ve heard?”
“Yes, Master! More so, if anything! Before, I knew that I would like to belong to you, because you’re a good man and I think you’ll be a kind master. Now… now I think you need a woman, too. You sounded so lonely, Master. A slave girl can't replace a wife or a daughter, but maybe she could bring some happiness to her owner?”
“Many girls do.”
“I’d like that, Master. Very much. You lost your family to slavery, as I have. I’ve lost everything I used to have, everything I used to be. Master, I’m only a piece of property now. If you would let me be your property, I’d like very much to serve you and make you happy.”
He took her head in both hands and kissed her, more tenderly than masters generally kiss slaves. “Girl, I have produce to sell and cannot spend all day talking to a slave. But I will speak to the men here about upcoming auctions.”
“Thank you, my master. Thank you. I will hope.”
“Do you still remember what I told you at the tree about accepting your slavery?”
“Yes, Master. I remember and I've been trying. I try not to think of when I was free and to always think of myself as a slave.”
“Good girl. You will be happier for it. The men around you will appreciate it, too. Now that you are a slave, I am going to leave you with an instruction, too.”
“You are, Master?”
“Yes. You begged me to buy you, but I do not own you yet. There are many other men in the world, and it's important that you to try to please them, too. Not just because they hold a whip, but because they are free and you are a slave girl. A slave's purpose is to serve the free.”
“I know, Master; I hope I can.”
“I might not buy you, but someone will. Whoever it is, you must submit to his wishes and serve him, always. He will own you, totally.”
“Y-yes, Master, I know.”
“Since you're a slave girl, I want you to be a pleasing and valuable one. Will you obey me in this, girl?”
“Yes, my master. This girl will try very hard to be pleasing. And valuable.”
“Good girl.” He moved forward to kiss her again. This time his hands reached out for an unchaste touch. After a moment so did hers.
“Back to work, slave,” he said. “I know where to find you now.”
“Yes you do, Master!” She watched him depart with a happy smile.
4. USED IN PASSING
The slave trader called an idle greeting when the man in merchant's robes entered the courtyard, and was answered with casual politeness.
“Excuse me for not meeting you more formally,” he said, “but I'm a little distracted.”
“Yes, I see,” said the merchant, grinning.
The slave trader stood in front of a wooden block where a nude woman had been chained down on all fours; his tunic half concealed her head, but it was obvious to all what she was doing, and why the trader liked being just where he was. He petted her head idly as she worked.
“I hope she's doing that well,” the merchant said.
“I don't have any complaints. She needs practice, but she's willing. And if she disappoints me, the whip will remind her do to better.”
“I would expect nothing else. Do you need to whip her often?”
“Not this one.” He stroked her bare back; the girl's body showed few signs of whippings. “She was collared only recently, but she's learning her place quickly. So what brings you around here, sir?”
“In truth, I came to see this slave.” From beneath the slaver's tunic the slave in question made a muffled sound of surprise. “I was told she'd be out here. She is really taking well to slavery?”
“Some women do. Usually ones who've thought about it for years beforehand.”
“I haven't known her for years, but I've met her before and she struck me as a girl who could accept her enslavement and not try to pretend she was still free. That is Slave Four Eighty-Nine under there, isn't it?”
“Yes, sir, that's her.” The girl made some poorly understood sounds and the slave trader took her by the hair, not gently, and said, “You're not done, wench. You aren't finished until the master is finished.”
The girl gave a quiet, interrogative noise.
“Keep going, girl,” said the merchant. “If you don't do the very best you can, expect the whip. If he wouldn't whip you, I would.”
“And I certainly would,” the slaver agreed.
“I'd expect nothing else from a man in your profession.”
“No, of course not. But it isn't just professional training, it's also—oh, my! Yes, wench, that's a nice use of the tongue. Do that a few more times.”
Grinning, the merchant commented, “Your profession has its fringe benefits, too.”
“Yes it does! Slower now, slave. Don't make men come too soon.”
The merchant studied the walls of the courtyard for a while, as the slave trader gave instructions to his student. He feigned disinterest, certainly not well but politely. The slaver quietly talked the girl through her task, and in a few minutes he was able to step back and adjust his clothes without revealing any signs of his recent activities.
“A properly trained pleasure slave would have been more skillful,” the slaver told her. “But you are only newly caught, and practically a virgin; if you are as eager with all your lessons, you will not be whipped very often. Please men and the rest follows.”
“Yes, Master,” she gasped. “Thank you, Master!”
“Keep up the good work, wench. Now since you've got a visitor, I'll leave you to him. Remember that you're still in training; if he asks anything of you, comply as best you can.”
“Yes, Master; this slave will remember.”
He brushed the girl's hair back into place, more or less, and said, “There; you should be presentable when you're seen.”
The merchant looked over, admitting to noticing them again, and asked, “Are you done now?”
“Yes, I think so, sir. I hope you didn't mind waiting.”
“Not at all. After all, you're doing your job. How could I rush you?”
“Sometimes it's a nice job,” the slaver chuckled. “If you need anyone, we'll be around. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the girl. Call out if she's anything less than perfectly obedient; pretty much everybody here carries a whip.”
“I will. She'd better not need it, though.”
The slaver laughed and departed.
Though naked, and in chains, and still on all fours and unable to rise, the girl beamed happily. “You came back.”
“I did. And I find you still here.”
She laughed a little and tugged at her bonds. “I can hardly leave, Master.”
“Even if I could run away, Master, I wouldn't. You wouldn't be able to find me.”
“I hope that's not the only reason, girl.” It was well known that slavers would inflict horrible punishments on runaway slaves, as demonstrations for others.
She smiled at him. “It's the most important one, Master.”
“So. That answers one of my questions. One of my reasons for coming was to see if the young girl had gotten over her crush on the old man.”
“You are not old, my master. Older than I am, yes, but not old.” She gave a small laugh and added, “Forgive a slave for disagreeing with a free man, Master?”
“Just this once, I suppose,” he agreed good-naturedly. “But it was a serious question and I wanted to know. Had you changed your mind? And if you had, would I buy you anyway?”
“You could, Master. When I am for sale, nobody will ask me who I'd prefer.”
“Indeed I could. Any man who had the money could buy you regardless of your wishes, once you go on the block. Even if you had changed your mind I could buy you, then take you home in chains, beat you into submission, and keep you as any other slave.”
“Yes, you could,” she breathed. “Master, if a girl may ask... If I had changed my mind, would you anyway?”
“I hadn't decided.”
She smiled at him, then looked down shyly. “Master... I think you should buy me, take me home, beat me if you need to, and keep me as your slave.”
“I have not changed my mind, Master. If I have to be a slave, I'd rather belong to you.”
“Even if I would whip you?”
“Any master would. I've been whipped, Master; I'm not that new to slavery! You did, when we first met. I know that we are often whipped, and rightly so. Who would respect a master who couldn't bring himself to whip his slave? But I trust you, Master; I believe you'll punish me when I deserve it, or need it.”
“I haven't even bought a whip yet.”
“You will, won't you, Master? My father had a whip, and I'm sure he used it when he captured women, free or slave. And...” She trailed off uncertainly and hung her head.
The girl softly said, “And I want to never need it, Master, but I know I will. Slavery teaches women things about ourselves we might never know if we were free. It's taught me that I can't bear the whip. A lash or two and I am begging to obey the man, begging to serve him, begging to do anything he wants.
“Master...if you owned me, I wouldn't be just a slave, I'd be your slave. I would want to be a good girl for you, happy and obedient and eager to please. And I wouldn't want to be less than the very best slave girl I can be for you, or for you to let me.”
“I wasn't planning to. But I'm a little surprised to hear you say it, girl.”
“I can't lie to you, Master. I have to be honest. You won't allow anything else.” She sounded satisfied and even pleased.
“That's true, girl; we established that when we first met. Just as I noticed that you were a natural slave.”
“I said so, didn't I? Yes, I think your inclinations to being a man's slave were very close to the surface even when you were captured. You're adapting to your new status very easily, as well. Don't you think so?”
“I'm afraid you may be right, Master. I still don't want to be a slave sometimes, and wish I could be free again, but every day it's getting easier not to think of that and just be a slave, totally. I am a slave now, and I should stop imagining not being one. And... and I think you may be right, Master. Um. Master... did you hear the man who was using me talk about girls thinking of being sold?”
“Master... Master, I've been thinking about being sold for years. For as long as I can remember. Even when I was a little girl I was fascinated whenever I saw the market. I'd see slaves up on the auction block and wonder what it was like, totally naked and exposed, being up for sale, totally vulnerable and exposed. It must be so scary for them. Scary and, um...”
“Yes, Master,” she said shyly. “As soon as I was old enough to start noticing boys it became even more frightening, of course, but incredibly exciting, too. The girls were naked, and for sale, and going to masters who would use them, completely and freely. They didn't even know who would buy them, and they were going to have to submit to their buyers' every wish. Totally. Whoever it was.”
She trailed off, blushing. He stroked her hair gently.
“And you see that as a slave's fantasy,” he said.
“I think so, too, girl. It's nothing to be ashamed of, dear, it's natural. Being sold is a very exciting and memorable event for a slave, and very sexually charged.”
“For a slave.”
“Yes. Have you forgotten the collar on your throat?”
“No, Master. I remember it. I can't forget it.”
“You are a slave, taken in war and stripped of your status as a free person. You know that. You're accepting it very well, too; many women would still be struggling against their bondage at this point. But the men here seem happy with your progress and your willingness to serve. So you accept that you are legally enslaved, right, girl?”
“Yes; I know that, Master.”
“So now you're facing the idea that you are a natural slave, too. That must be very frightening for a young woman.”
“It is, Master, it is. I don't know if I want to be a natural slave, Master! I know I didn't want to be legally a slave, and that didn't matter when the Cordovans captured me, but wouldn't it be worse to be a natural slave? I could at least hope that I could be freed some day. But if I'm a natural slave, Master, that's forever, it's what I am. And... and I don't know; if I'm a natural slave maybe I shouldn't be freed, even if I wanted it. What could I hope for except a good master?”
“That is what most slaves hope for, isn't it?”
“I... I suppose it is, Master.” She looked up at him. “Does that make me a slave girl, Master, that I want a good master?”
“No. It means you're a sensible slave girl.”
“Don't let it worry you so much, girl. I suspected your nature when we first met, and it doesn't bother me. Why should it? I'm the natural beneficiary of having happy willing slave girls around.”
“Of course you are, Master,” she agreed softly. “Why would men object?”
“Indeed.” He stepped close to her, too close for her to look up and meet his eyes, and ran his hand down her bare back. “Here you are, a naked woman chained in place, ready for men to take their pleasure with her. We're men; why shouldn't we enjoy the benefits of our sex?” His hand passed over her rear and she arched her back for him, as much as she could in her bonds.
“You're ready for men, too, girl. I can feel your warmth.”
“Of course, Master. I've already been used by three men since I was chained here. It's why I was put out like this.”
“You don't sound as if you object, girl.”
“Oh, no, Master!”, she asserted. “I wouldn't be allowed! And...and I don't think I should, even if it's hard sometimes, right, Master? They're trying to teach me to be a better slave girl.”
“Is it working?”
“I hope so, Master.”
“You want to be a better slave girl?”
“I... think I need to be one, Master. I can't be free again, so...”
“So, yes.” He touched her between her legs and she yelped loudly in surprise, bucking involuntarily at the contact. He laughed a little, pleased.
“Yes! Yes, Master, yes! I was a virgin until I was caught, Master; I don't know enough about sex yet! And... and I do want to be good at it. Men are going to use me, and they're going to use me a lot; I already know that, even new to the collar. I knew it even when I was free. And, um... and it's a lot of fun, too, Master.”
“Are you turning into a pleasure slave already, girl?”
“Not yet, Master,” she confessed. “I have a long way to go before I'm ready for that... But maybe I can be good enough that the men who use me aren't too disappointed?”
“The man who was just here didn't seem disappointed.”
“You weren't here the first time, Master. He unlocked my cage one night, and had me, and beat me when I was slow. But I did ever so much better the second time! I am getting better, Master, really I am. I... I hope I will be pleasing, when I have a single master.”
“Mm.” He did not sound pleased.
“I do, Master, really I do! I know I haven't learned very much yet, Master, but I'm getting better all the time! Please don't be unhappy with me, Master; it's only been a little while since I started learning how to serve men, and only a little while since I was collared; men have only been giving me the chance to even try to--”
“Enough, girl,” he said, and she fell silent immediately. He patted her bare rear and said, “You didn't displease me. Tell me, though: did you deserve the beating you got?”
“I don't know, Master. Maybe. I was trying, but I could only be obedient, not pleasing, and I was scared.”
“Have you learned better?”
“Oh, yes, Master; I'm much better than when I arrived here.”
“Then it doesn't seem to have harmed you any.”
“No, Master... Master?”
“Um, I...” She shifted in her bonds, her chained hands clenching nervously. “I was put out for men to use, Master. If you wish...”
“Are you asking me to use you, girl?”
“...Yes, Master,” she admitted quietly. “I am. I offer myself for your use, as a man can use a woman. Please use me and enjoy me, Master.”
“Tell me why, girl. Are you required to?”
“No, Master, although I'm not allowed to stop them, I mean if I could anyway, like this. I... I thought it was the right thing to do. I've never gotten to serve you that way, Master...”
“That's true, girl.”
“I would like to, if you would let me, Master. If you wanted to. If you wanted to use a poor untrained girl like me...”
“I think you're fishing for a compliment.”
“Men will tell you if you misbehave...” He stroked her and she cried out loud, helplessly, lifting her body to his touch. His fingers slipped inside her without resistance. “You're ready.”
“Oh! Yes! Please, Master, use me! I am a slave girl! I am for men! I am for sex! Please, Master, please!”
“As men use slave girls?”, he asked, his fingers within her.
“YES!”, she cried. “Yes! Please!”
He came around the chained girl and adjusted his robe.
“Show me what you can do, now that you are more experienced.”
She licked him eagerly, sighing, “Yes, Master,” kissed at him and took him into her mouth. The free man let her work for a time and then withdrew, provoking a small moan of disappointment.
“Head down,” he commanded, pushing her head to the ground. He stroked her body as he moved again, and grasped her by her raised hips. The slave gasped as she was entered and cried out as she was pushed forward by his thrusts, the chains clinking as her body moved. She cried out words of approval and thanks to the man using her.
When he finished he pulled her back up by her hair and presented himself to her again, and without needed to be told she cleaned her juices off him and took him in her mouth once more. She continued longer than necessary, but in time he pulled back and folded his clothes back into place.
“Did you like that, girl?”
“I... Y-yes, Master, yes I did. I'm glad you got to have me as a slave. Thank you. I, I never got to yield to you as a slave before. Thank you very much for that, Master, and, and I hope you can enjoy me again.”
He stroked her cheek. “Perhaps I will, girl. You are going to be sold soon enough.”
“Oh! I know, Master, I know I won't be kept here for long – but they tell us so little here. Do you know when? Or where? I hope you can be there when I am sold, Master!”
“Your masters will tell you anything they think you need to know, little slave. You will be sold when your owners choose, not before nor after.”
“Yes, of course, Master,” she agreed quietly.
“Girl. Do you still hope that I will buy you?”
“Yes! Oh, yes, Master, yes! Please buy me, Master, please let me be your slave girl!”
He smiled at the chained woman in front of him and she looked up through disheveled hair at the man who might some day own her.
“I will tell you this much, girl. You are not for sale today. But I have asked and I now know when you are going to be for sale. And on that day you may see me again.”
5. IN THE MARKET
Slave auctions are always popular events. People come to buy or just to watch – and it's an open question whether the sales or the audience makes a better show. Pageantry and ritual attract attention and entertain people. Men will show up reliably for anything involving naked women and when those women are slave girls being displayed and sold potential masters will be very interested indeed. So will many women.
Those who actually ascend the block may have mixed feelings about the sale, but they are the property not the owners. Merchandise is not consulted about how it may feel or to whom it might want to be sold. What is done to them is by the will of others. It does not matter; being displayed naked to a crowd and purchased by an unknown master must be expected by slaves, and it is a profoundly important part of their lives.
For potential buyers the question is less, and no few of them look for vitality and excitement in the chattels being sold. Slave traders make a point of presenting their wares well to potential buyers, and exposing every pleasant feature their stock possesses.
This morning's sale had been a fine one and by noon the spectators were dispersing to try their luck at the food vendors and other stalls of the market square. Those who had come only to watch and be entertained were already returning to their usual lives; those who had made purchases were collecting their new property.
In an open courtyard not far off of the market square, a slave trader led a naked woman in on a leash, her hands tied behind her back.
“Lot number eight, house number 489,” he announced.
The auctioneer nodded; he'd sold her not an hour before. “Bring her over here,” he said.
The first trader did so and thrust her to her knees in the dirt. She knelt without resistance at the feet of the men standing there.
“This is Slave 489, yes?”
“She certainly seems to be,” agreed the other man, a young man in soldier's gear. “Look up at me, slave.”
“You look like the slave I bid upon. Do you recognize me from the sale?”
“Y-yes, Master.” She nodded, trembling. Her eyes were wet with recent tears. She smelled of sweat and female heat. “You, you bought me, Master.”
He nodded and said. “That's enough for now. Stay.”
The soldier turned away and spoke with the auctioneer, and they moved away to a nearby table where some other men already waited, leaving the slave to await their return. They talked for several minutes. Papers were examined, and signed, and exchanged. Money was given over to the slave traders.
In time the soldier returned. He looked down at the kneeling girl. “You have been sold,” he said. He smiled and added, “You are no longer the property of Sunrise Slave Market.”
“Yes, Master, I understand. I have been sold.”
“Do you know how to render submission?”
“Of course, Master.” She bent forward, awkwardly because of her bound wrists, parting her knees even more to let her lower her head to the dirt at his feet. A few people looked over from around the courtyard, and she heard at least one behind her stopping to listen. The girl ignored the other people; only one mattered to her now. She recited the ritual statement she had practiced.
“My master, I submit myself, fully, in every way. I am a slave. I am only an article of property, bought and sold, to be used by free people. I beg to be allowed to serve you in any and every way you desire, now and for as long as you may own me. You have bought me and I am yours. You are my owner and my master.”
“Kneel as you were, slave girl.”
The girl obeyed, again a little less gracefully than a more experienced slave might have. She did not try to close her awkwardly open thighs.
“That was nice to hear. You say it convincingly, too. But listening to you, I get the feeling there's something else.”
“Forgive me, Master?”, she answered.
“You were looking out at the bidders even before you were brought out onto the action block. I saw you. You were looking for somebody, weren't you?”
She dropped her eyes and admitted, “Yes, Master. There was another man who might have bought me, if he had been here today.”
“So the little slave girl has a lover? Who is he? A handsome boy your age? A rich man, or a noble?”
“N-no, Master. He is a vegetable merchant.”
“A vegetable merchant?”
“Yes, Master. He was kind to me. Please don't be angry, Master.”
“I'm not angry. Truly, you wanted this vegetable merchant to buy you? Did you know him before you were captured? Would he have freed you?”
“No, Master. I didn't know him before; actually, I met him the very day I was taken by the army, after I was captured but before I was legally enslaved. And...and, no, he wouldn't have freed me. I don't think so. I think if he ever owned me he would keep me.”
“I don't care who owned you in the past, or who you hoped would own you in the future. There were others who bid on you today. The men who didn't buy you aren't important. I need to know that you will serve the man who did buy you.”
“Yes, Master, I will, really. I promise. I will be a good slave to you, Master. I've never been owned by a single man before, I was only enslaved a few weeks ago, but it's what I am now. I know I am property, not a free person. You bought me and I am yours, Master.”
“That's even nicer than the submission speech you were taught.”
“Thank you, Master.”
“I believe you, too. There's something you've overlooking, though.”
“Master? There is?”
“Yes, indeed,” he said, chuckling. “But then, nobody's told you anything. Tell me, did you wonder how I could afford to buy you?”
“It's simple. I'm acting as an agent for a wealthier man.”
“Oh, of course, Master.”
“So will you submit to his will?”
“Of course, Master.” She bowed her head. “I have no choice. If he bought me, he owns me; I must obey him... Him, or his agent, right, Master?”
“Ha! Yes, so far as he chooses to share you. But since I have you, and you are of course totally in my power for the moment, there's only one thing I can do with a pretty little slave girl like you.”
He bent over and lifted her chin, looking into her eyes with a smile playing about his face.
“Yes, there's only one thing to do with a girl like you,” he repeated. “I'm going to turn you over to your owner!”
She blinked in confusion a moment, then a man stepped around her to stand next to the warrior. She gaped in surprise and disbelief.
He grinned widely, enjoying his own joke.
“Hello, girl. I told you I'd try to make it to the auction!”
He took her hair in his hand. “Yes, girl, I'm your master now.”
He bent down and kissed her, his other hand at her cheek. “I knew I had to wait for the auction. But you're mine now.”
“Master...how? I mean...I didn't...I was looking for you...”
“Do you remember that Amicus here was standing near a very large fellow in a red cloak? It's easy to be missed when you're behind a big colorful man. And I knew you'd be looking at Amicus when he bid, so I could move into his shadow then.”
“You wanted to hide from me?”
“Don't look so sad, girl. I knew I might be outbid. If I couldn't buy you, it would be easier on you if you never knew I'd been there at all.”
“Master... my master cares about my feelings?”
“Don't get too confident in that, girl. Remember that I whipped you once. I'll do it again, too.”
“I know,” she said, smiling now and unafraid. “I'm sure you will, Master, any time you need to.”
“Will I need to often, girl?”
“Oh, no, Master! Not if I can help it!”
He grinned and smoothed her rumpled hair. “I believe you, girl.”
She glanced away shyly. He stood up and looked down at her, kneeling in the dirt. She shifted a little, nervously, and Amicus laughed quietly. “I believe her, too,” he said. “She was pretty disappointed when she thought she hadn't been bought by the 'vegetable merchant' she was looking for.”
“Ahem. Yes. We're going to have a talk soon about the difference between produce and vegetables, too. It will involve a whip if she makes that mistake again, too.”
“I remember what you said to me about that.”
“You learned. She will, too. She's a bright girl, and eager to please.”
“It's a good thing nobody else knew that, or you'd never have gotten her for as little as you did.”
“Little? You didn't have to pay it! She was expensive enough.”
“Master?” The girl looked up timidly. “May I ask... was I too expensive?”
“I bought you, didn't I?”, her new owner said. “You were expensive, girl, but not so much that I regret buying you. A good investment is worth the money, and I would have paid more than I did to put my collar around your neck.”
She beamed happily up at him, her face flushing red. “Yes, Master. And... thank you, my master.”
“Speaking of collars, you won't be allowed out in public without one. Luckily, I've got one just for you. Read this, girl; you might never see it again outside a mirror.” He held out a brightly polished metal collar, just the size to encircle a woman's neck, and held it down for her to see the inscription stamped onto the metal. She read it breathlessly.
“'This slave is the property of Horace, Merchant of Heramia.'”
“Yes, she is.” He slipped the metal ring around her throat and closed it. The lock made a tiny click as it fastened shut.
“I... I am the property of Horace,” she said breathlessly. “My master's name is Horace. I belong to Horace, the merchant. Horace owns me.”
“Yes, I know,” he said, grinning.
“Sorry, Master...” She smiled, too, embarrassed.
“The collar bears my name, but not yours.”
“A slave's name is whatever her master chooses to give her.”
“Maybe I should give you a free woman's name, since you were free recently. Maybe I should give you a fancy name, something with dignity, suitable for a free woman. I could call you 'Theodosa'.”
She gasped in surprise and gaped foolishly.
“How— Oh. Of course, you saw my papers, Master!”
“Yes, I did, girl. And I will not call you that. I think 'Theodosa' is much too grand a name for a slave girl.”
“I think so, too, Master,” she agreed. “It's only suitable for a free woman. It... it wouldn't be right for me anymore. Not now. Not... like this.” She hesitated and added, “Maybe it never was.”
He stroked her hair, like a pet. “Don't regret that you used to be free. I'm sure you were a nice girl then, too – even if you did dream of being sold. I suppose I would have liked Theodosa, but I'm glad I've got the slave you are now, instead.”
“So am I, Master. You have me, and I am your slave.” She looked down shyly and asked, “You have bought me, Master. What will my owner name his purchase?”
“I will not name you today.”
“You heard me, girl. I have been calling you 'girl' or 'slave' since we met, and I see no reason to change now. Giving you a name might let you forget, in some tiny way, that you are only a slave now.”
“This girl will try very hard to remember that, Master. After being sold, I don't think I could forget it, not for a long time. I was sold on an auction block like any other animal, Master; I will remember.”
“I'll name you after we get back to Heramia, as it becomes convenient, but for now I will keep you as you are, naked and nameless. Anyone who thinks I might spoil you or become infatuated with you should be able to see that I will be the master. My slave will remain exactly that, a slave I bought.”
“Yes, Master. My master. I... I...”
“What is it, girl?”
“You pointed out that I am naked, Master...”
“Does it distress you to be naked, girl? Does my new slave want clothing?”
“No, Master, I, I learned that quickly. I know that I will be dressed when it pleases my owner.”
“Eventually, I'm sure it will. But listen, girl – you were naked on the auction block and I am taking you out of here the same way. I want you to get used to your collar, and I want everyone to see you as a slave. You will be a naked slave, a recently purchased piece of property and nothing more. You will be introduced that way in Heramia. When you are well known there will be time later to let you have clothing.”
“Yes, Master. Thank you. Let it be as my master wishes,” she answered, smiling.
“Why, Horace, I think she likes it that way.”
Horace chuckled, and the girl looked up at the free men.
“May I answer, Master?”
“Yes, girl, say what you wish.”
“Master, I was thinking about this before the auction,” she told Amicus. “The man who finally bought me first saw me when I'd been captured by the Cordovan army, and later on a few times at the slave traders', and of course on the auction block today. While I was waiting for the sale, hoping to see him again, I realized that he had never seen me with clothes on.
“The army took away everything I had when they captured me, and, well...” She smiled. “Every time he ever saw me I was naked. Every time we've been together he has been a fully dressed free man and I've been naked, either as a captive or a slave.
“I... I decided I didn't mind. If I have to be a slave, and I'm lucky enough to be his slave, I don't want to wear anything but what makes him happy. Give me a collar, his collar, and whatever clothes that he wants me to wear or nothing at all. And if my master wants me naked he should keep me naked, no matter what anyone else says. I belong to him, not anyone else.”
“Horace is right,” Amicus said, smiling. “You are a natural slave.”
The girl bowed her head, embarrassed but smiling. For women like her it was a compliment.
“Girl, look up at me,” Horace said. She obeyed, and he took her face in his hands. “Girl, do I own you?”
“Yes, Master, definitely,” she affirmed, beaming. “You bought me and you own me.”
“Then listen and remember this. You are forbidden clothing. Now and until you are told otherwise. Do you understand?”
“Yes, my master!”, the girl said giddily. “You... you are my owner, and I cannot wear clothes without your permission. You are, you are keeping me naked for as long as it pleases you.”
“Yes I am.” He stroked her cheeks and ran his fingers through her hair. “I thought it might distress you more.”
“No, Master, it doesn't bother me. Not at all. Maybe it should, but... I remember what we said at the side of the road. I don't think a slave can hide anything from her owner, and I remember your whip when I tried. You are who you are, Master; I don't want to hide anything from you. And I'm happy I won't be allowed to. Physically or emotionally. I am yours, and if I could hide anything from you, you would not completely own me.”
“She is one to keep, Horace. Already she loves you.”
“Yes, Master,” she admitted. “I love you, my master. I have for a while, long before you bought me.”
“You know a man can't always speak of loving a slave girl.”
“I... I. Yes. Yes, Master, I do. A man like you has to love a free woman, a wife, not a slave he bought off an auction block.”
“Good. Then we will not speak of it.” He pulled her close, and she melted into his kiss.
Copyright© 2012 by Wyvern. All rights reserved. I welcome your comments. Email me at wyvern.parabola[at]gmail.com