The Story of Sushann, Tarrahh, and Natilya

(Author's note: I write stories with a bondage slant, not bondage scenes spliced together with a little bit of story.  If you want nothing but descriptions of sex with whips and chains, then I am not the author for you.)


During the 23rd century A.D. on Earth, a semi-religious group known as The Followers of Eric Potsdam saw an opportunity to carry out the hijacking of Planet CBQ 4960, which they named after their founder.  These Followers dynamited the warp gates that were the only way to reach the planet, cutting themselves off to guarantee their own way of life and to avoid the plagues that were then raging on Earth. That way of life was built on three fundamental ideas:

Everything in moderation, including progress.

People need real work, important work that needs to be done, in order to be happy.  Computers steal work.

Men are happiest when they are in charge of their women.  Women are happiest when they are under the control of their men. 

And so the Followers of Eric Potsdam established a way of life based on his version of an ideal society in the year 1900, before computers took over so many jobs and left so many people with no real work to do.  And unlike Earth in the year 1900, female slavery was an accepted part of Eric Potsdam's ideal lifestyle.

This is the beginning of a new story series about the planet Ericpotsdam, and about the interesting societies that developed there after the planet was hijacked and cut off from Earth and the spreading galactic colonization of mankind.  Just for perspective: this one is set about a century and a quarter after the marriage of Sindrelaine and Tollis deta Sia, in locations several hundred to several thousand miles east of Danitz or Vegonyn.  But you do not need to read any of the stories set in Danitz or Vegonyn in order to enjoy this one.

We will discuss: Who were Natilya, Tarrahh, and Sushann?  How did they come to be enslaved?  Why were they happy to be taken away from their home town?  Which of the three women was happiest when secured in chains?  Why wouldn't their owner sell any of them?  What became of them afterward? 


On September 30, 2444 AC (after colonization), the brand-new battleship Schlahh, the pride of the Archipelago Navy, happened to encounter the Erionaller training battleship Yuviteks, which was on a routine patrol among the islands of the Eastern Archipelago.  Six years earlier Erionalle had been defeated in a war with the Guided Republic of the Archipelago, but that defeat had not completely eliminated Erionaller naval and merchant ships from the waters around the archipelago.  Erionaller merchants continued to travel and trade among the islands and nearby coastline.  They were especially welcome in places that weren't parts of the Republic.  The captain of the Schlahh thought that he saw an opportunity to kick the Erionallers out completely.  Although there was no war declared between the rival island nations, the Schlahh opened fire.

Anyone who thought about the possibility of such an encounter would have predicted an easy win for the Schlahh.  She was the largest battleship ever to operate on the waters of the Great Ocean on the planet Ericpotsdam.  She displaced 20,000 tons, was armed with a main battery of six 305-millimeter guns, and was solidly armored.  The Yuviteks displaced only 9,000 tons, with much thinner armor.  She carried only three guns in her main battery, and they were only 240-millimeter, firing shells about half the weight of those fired by the Schlahh .   Besides, the Yuviteks was 20 years old, and the Schlahh had been in commission for only two weeks.  How could the Yuviteks possibly win?

Six years earlier, the war had demonstrated many severe deficiencies in the Grand Duke's Erionalle Navy.  Much of the Erionalle Battle Fleet had been unable even to reach the war zone without breaking down, the crews were more likely to panic than to fight, and the officer corps had been riddled with cronyism, politicking, and buck-passing.  The terms of the peace treaty could have been a total disaster for Erionalle.  That outcome was avoided only because the powerful Kingdom of Danitz had provided diplomatic support.

After that war the Grand Duke had recruited a Danitz Navy officer, who was then serving as naval attaché at the Danitz Embassy in Erionalle, to reform his fleet.  The result was a severe shake-up.  Most of the old-line admirals found that they had been retired and that their fancy ranks and titles were suddenly strictly honorary.  Politicians were no longer allowed to stick their noses into Navy personnel or purchasing decisions.  The Erionalle Navy became solidly professional, with a primary emphasis on training, on more training, and on achieving real combat readiness instead of on wearing fancy uniforms and looking good.  A shipbuilding program began; the ships were designed by one of the best Danitzer naval architects.  Many of the old, weary, and poorly-designed warships were scrapped.   The Yuviteks and several of the other older ships that survived were drastically modified.

The Yuviteks was at full battle stations when the shooting started.  Her crew members plugged the leaks and put out the fires started by enemy shell hits, and they restored electrical power to the main battery guns when that was interrupted by battle damage.  Those main battery guns, and the 140-millimeter secondary guns, kept up a sustained and deadly-accurate return fire.

In contrast, the officers and men of the Schlahh had not had time to properly learn their ship or each other in just two weeks after commissioning.  They weren't really a crew yet.  One of the first hits on the Schlahh knocked the ship's primary fire-control rangefinder out of alignment and killed the chief gunnery officer.  The inexperienced assistant gunnery officer didn't know how to uncouple the damaged rangefinder from the guns so that a secondary finder could be used.  He ordered his three main battery turrets to fire under local control.  None of the gunners had practiced that exercise.  The gun captains had to use hand-held optical gear instead of a high-precision four-meter split-image rangefinder, and they were unable to be sure which guns had caused which shell splashes.  They corrected for each other's aiming errors.  Their shooting soon became wildly inaccurate.

After about an hour, the Yuviteks was joined by the Tinoreks, a 2100-ton "pocket cruiser" according to Erionalle Navy terminology.  Tinoreks fired two torpedo salvos and scored just one hit for eight "fish" expended, but that hit was perfectly placed.  Both of the Schlahh's engine rooms began to flood.  The engineering officer was knocked out by the torpedo explosion, and the ship's damage control officer had been killed by a shell hit while on deck trying to organize an effort to put out fires started by 140-mm shells.  Nobody else knew how to lead an effort to control the flooding.

The end of the battle was marked by a radio message sent by the Yuviteks.  It was addressed to Erionalle Fleet Headquarters, but it purposely wasn't coded, so naval radiomen over most of the Great Ocean could understand it.  It read "Schlahh sunk repeat Schlahh sunk am recovering survivors."

Chapter 1. Sushann

I learned what had happened to the ship my father was serving on shortly after 3:00 am on the morning of October 2, less than two days after the battle.  I was awakened, and so were my stepmother and sister, when a loud knocking began on our front door.  My stepmother Natilya got up and answered it, still half asleep.  A squad of Guided Republic Special Security Police barged in.  One of them grabbed and handcuffed Natilya; the rest fanned out through the house, searching it.

My sister Tarrahh and I were yanked out of bed, still in our nightgowns.  We were handcuffed also, and dragged by the front door to join Natilya.  We were told "Commander Rolf Trygg is charged with High Treason in connection with the loss of the battleship Schlahh .  We have orders to arrest his entire family."

A Security Cop grabbed each of us and hauled us out of the house that had been the only home my sister and I had ever known.  We were given no chance to put on shoes or change out of our nightgowns.  Those were thin, frilly nightgowns, too, never meant for wearing outdoors.  The cops were probably supposed to touch us by one arm only, to keep us from falling if we stumbled, but the one who had me didn't keep his other hand to himself.  He poked and prodded my ass as much as he wanted to, and I didn't dare complain.  I doubt that the cops in charge of Natilya and Tarrahh were any more polite.

My sister Tarrahh was 20 years old, and I was 18.  We are both blondes, and we have both been told that we are quite pretty.  Natilya has black hair and is almost as old as Dad but still looks damn good too.  Those Security Cops really enjoyed eyeballing and manhandling us.

Then came the journey downtown, in an open wagon.  The driver of the horses was another Security Cop.  We sat right behind him, with our handcuffed arms over the back of the wagon bench.  Two more cops sat on either side of the driver and kept staring at us during the trip downtown.  It was easy to tell that they weren't just guarding accused criminals.  Their eyes gleamed too brightly, and they kept exchanging single-entendre jokes and comments.

We were dumped into one of the barred cages in a holding pen, along with everybody else who had been arrested that night.  At least the guards were nice enough to remove our handcuffs.  We huddled together and collected more stares, from prison guards and from guys who had been arrested.  None of us could sleep.  I thought that that must be the ultimate in misery and humiliation.  What did I know?

The so-called trial took place that morning.  We were taken to the courtroom still in our nightgowns, and in handcuffs behind our backs once again.  The whole event lasted just over two hours.

The case against my Dad was based on radio messages received from a division of Republic Navy destroyers that arrived at the scene of the battle about an hour after the Schlahh went down.  The Erionallers broke off rescue operations and left the scene to avoid the risk of further battle as soon as our destroyers arrived, even though the Erionaller warships completely outclassed the firepower of our destroyers.  The destroyers rescued the survivors that were still in the water.  The radio messages were based on survivor interviews on board those destroyers.

Dad was Engineering Officer of the Schlahh.  His duty station was below, near where a torpedo had hit, and none of the survivors rescued by the Republic Navy destroyers had seen him after the torpedo explosion.  Apparently the captain never ordered abandon ship and stayed on the bridge when the ship went down.  Dad was accused of incompetence in damage control, and therefore of high treason.  He wasn't there to defend himself.  The captain had powerful friends and relatives who deflected as much of the blame away from him as they could.  So my Dad became the number-one patsy to take the blame for the loss of the ship.

I thought that that was ridiculous.  The captain of the ship was the one who started a battle without a proper declaration of war or a properly-trained crew.  The only thing that he did right was go down with the ship when it was sunk.

My Dad hadn't had enough time to complete the training of damage-control crews or any other engineering staff in only two weeks after commissioning.  And even if he had been incompetent - which I didn't believe - that isn't the same thing as being treasonous.  But of course nobody was paying attention to my opinions.  Dad was found guilty in absentia, and he was sentenced to death and to total confiscation.  All of our property was forfeited to the Government of the Guided Republic.  And for that purpose, female family members were considered property.  Natilya, Tarrahh, and I were all reduced to slavery.

The humiliations continued to pile up.  We were ordered to stand, still in handcuffs.  Security Cops with grins on their faces sliced our nightgowns off using sharp knives.  They marched us out of the courtroom naked, with our hands behind our backs, and they took us to another holding cell.  I suppose that the usual prisoners in that courtroom were guys, and that the cops who got to handle us thought that they were getting a rare treat.  I thought that all of the cops in that place were a bunch of slime worms - I still think so - but of course I didn't call them that at the time.

From the second holding cell we were summoned one by one; I was first.  I was taken to a small room and ordered to lie down on a stretcher on my back.  Straps quickly anchored my ankles, and my knees, and my wrists by my sides, and then my body at chest and waist, and my neck, and my head.  The head strap went across my mouth and cheeks, had a hole for my nose, and also went around wooden blocks pinned against the sides of my head.  When it was tightened, I had to keep looking straight up.

And then a couple of the prison staff began working on my forehead.  They didn't bother to explain to me what they were doing, but they told me to relax, keep my mouth shut, and not try to move.  One of them tapped my tummy a few times with a whip to warn me about the consequences of misbehavior.  They commented to each other about red pigment, and green pigment, and getting the patterns aligned properly, and then one of them began using an instrument that gave me hundreds of little stings.  It wasn't hard to figure out.  They were tattooing me!  I don't know about your society; in my society, only slaves wear tattoos.  And this one was going on right above my eyes.  There would be no way to hide it.  A hat would not reach low enough.  Nobody would ever be able to look at me again and see anything except a slave girl.  I was too stunned by the change in my status to start crying yet.

My stretcher was then carried off to a corner of the room, with me still helpless on it.  I was left on a support stand there for several hours.  Apparently the prison staff didn't want me scratching or otherwise bothering my new tattoo until it quit oozing blood and the skin had a chance to start healing.  An attendant wiped the tattoo every so often, using a cloth that was soaked with alcohol.  They apparently didn't want my tattoo to become infected.  The alcohol stung worse than the tattooing needle.

The work of the tattoo shop continued while I lay there on my stretcher.  I couldn't see anything except the ceiling and part of a wall, but I could hear and recognize voices.  Soon Tarrahh, and then Natilya, joined me on the stretcher support stands.

That evening they turned us all loose back in our cell, and fed us some bland oatmeal for supper.  At least they didn't put handcuffs back on us when we were released from our stretchers.  We saw each other's tattoos, matching pretty rose flowers with vines and leaves that extended just above our eyebrows.  We each had to face the fact that we were slaves, and were either widowed and orphaned already or would be as soon as the Special Security Police got custody of Dad.  We also had to face the strong likelihood that we would be sold to different owners and would never see each other again.  We picked a corner of our cell where we could all lie down together, with Natilya in the middle.  Tarrahh and I both really liked her.  Dad had asked for our approval before marrying her after our mother died, and she had been a great stepmother.  We spent the night with our arms around each other, taking turns crying and comforting.

I thought that that would be the absolute bottom of the course of events.  I was still wrong.

Chapter 2. Sushann

There was a slave auction scheduled for the very next day, and we were in it.  Breakfast was more oatmeal, and then our wrists were handcuffed in front of us.  We were taken to a cleaning room, with bare concrete walls and floor.  Our handcuffs were clipped to ceiling chains, and the chains were winched up until our wrists were suspended over our heads.   Then some guards showed up in shorts, and they began to have fun spraying us and each other with cold water.  Eventually they added soap, and washcloths, and they enjoyed scrubbing us all down.  Finally some older slave women came in, and dried us, and put our hair up in pony tails.  A pony tail is a good practical hairdo for a working slave, since it isn't too complicated and keeps her hair out of her eyes.  In my country, pony tail hairdos are rarely worn by free women.

Afterwards we were taken out to the auction pavilion in front of the House of Justice.  We were put in individual holding cages, each just big enough to stand in, and we were exhibited naked to anybody who wanted to come through and take a look.  We weren't handcuffed or chained in any way, but we were warned that we would be strapped to the backs of our holding cages if we tried to face away from the public or otherwise hide our charms.

I tried to smile; it wasn't easy.  I figured that my chances of bringing a high price would be better if I smiled, and I would be considered more valuable and less likely to face nasty treatment if I brought a high price.  I wondered how Tarrahh was feeling.  I knew perfectly well that Natilya was feeling rotten, but I couldn't be sure about Tarrahh.

She and I and a group of our friends had been downtown shopping a year or so ago, and we had paused to watch a few minutes of a slave auction when we happened to walk by the pavilion.  That night, in our bedroom, she told me that it might almost be fun to be sold like that.  "Just think, naked in front of all of those people, and you don't even have to be embarrassed because you don't have any choice about it.  And then to have two or three handsome guys bidding against each other to own you, and one of them gets to lead you away in chains."

I was horrified.  I said "You know that the ones who will really be bidding are slimy old men and the owners of whore houses, don't you?  And did you hear what Chyann said about the Crimson Caps?  If Yossuff, the boss Crimson Cap, bids on you, nobody else will dare to bid against him.  Yossuff will buy you, and you will be taken away to the private dungeon of the Beloved Son and Heir, where you will be raped and tortured to death for the fun of it."  The Crimson Caps were officially the Special Security Detail to the Beloved Son and Heir of The Bold and Resolute Leader of the Guided Republic, but everybody called them just Crimson Caps because of their distinctive headgear.  They used that name themselves.

She answered "Yes, I know, it's only in my private fantasies that all of the bidders are handsome young men.  That is why it would be only almost fun, but not really fun.  I would be too busy worrying to have any real fun."

It wasn't a fantasy any more.  There were some nice-looking young guys among the people who came by the rows of slave exhibit cages to look us over, but I didn't think that any of them would be serious bidders.  They were mostly too young, just taking the opportunity to look at real live naked women.  I gave my very best smile to a couple of nice-looking older men who might really have enough money to buy me.  A few of the other men and women appeared to be owners of whore houses.  And there was a Crimson Cap who came by and took notes.  I tried to look as ugly as I could when he was around.  He asked me to turn around, and he took a good look at me from all sides.  The only good part of the entire experience is that I didn't see anybody I knew.  That would have been even more humiliating.

That afternoon I was the first member of my family put up for auction.  An auctioneer's assistant unlocked my exhibit cage, and put a noose around my neck, and tightened it all the way to the safety knot in the rope that just kept the noose from choking me.  And then he led me out onto the sales stage by the rope leash attached to that noose.

I looked over the crowd, wondering if I could hope for anybody there to become a good and kind new owner.  I did spot one handsome young man at the back of the crowd wearing some kind of foreign uniform, with a backpack and a fancy gold-hilted dress sword.  I tried to do my best to aim a special smile just in his direction.  And then the auctioneer went into his spiel:

"Here we have a lovely young blonde virgin, never slave-trained.  You can take full pleasure in training her yourself, exactly as you want her.  She should bring at least two hundred goldgrams.  Can I have an opening bid of one hundred?"

"Fifty goldgrams."  I turned to look.  A Crimson Cap with a wide gold band around his cap had placed that bid.  That had to be Yossuff.  Obviously the Crimson Cap who inspected and took notes hadn't thought I was ugly.  Nobody else said anything for a moment.  The auctioneer resumed "Fifty do I hear sixty.  Fifty do I hear sixty.  Sixty goldgrams . . ."  But you could tell he didn't really expect any further bids.  Nobody dared to bid against Yossuff.

The ultimate pit opened in front of me.  I remembered the horror stories that were whispered about the Beloved Son and Heir's private dungeon.  No slave girls had ever emerged alive.  A few men had visited there as guests of the Beloved Son, and they were probably the sources of stories about tongues cut out so the women couldn't speak, but could still scream; stories about vocal cords cut out, so the women had to scream in whispers; stories about a variety of horrible ways to die.  Nobody dared to tell these stories in public, for fear of arrest by the Crimson Caps.  Now this would be my fate.

I scanned the crowd, looking for sympathetic eyes for one last time in my life.  My eyes reached the handsome guy in the foreign uniform just as he said "Sixty goldgrams."

There was a longer silence.  Somebody had dared to bid against Yossuff!  Then the auctioneer said "er . . . sixty, sixty, sixty, uhm, do I hear seventy?"  You could tell he was as astonished as anybody.  "Sixty do I hear seventy . . . sold to the man wearing the blue honors sash!"

My new master broke out into a big fat grin.  "Sixty?  Wow!  Bargain!"  And he continued to talk in a loud tone of voice, with an accent so strong that I couldn't understand very much.  He sounded happy.  He apparently didn't notice the dirty look that he got from Yossuff, or the way that Yossuff spoke to one of the junior Crimson Caps.  I began to have my doubts that I had completely escaped that private dungeon.

My new owner swaggered down to the stage.  An auctioneer's assistant led me down the steps of the stage by my leash, and handed that leash to my new owner.  While this was going on, the auctioneer sold another slave.

My new owner said "Turn around, I want to get a look at all of you."  I could follow his accent if he spoke slowly.  As I turned, he added another loud "Wow!"   The turn gave me a chance to look back at the stage and see who was coming up for auction next.

Would a double miracle be possible?  There was nothing to lose by asking, even though some men will automatically say "no" to anything a slave asks for.  I turned back to my new owner, and said "Master, that's my mother on the block."  I didn't want to come right out and ask him to buy her in so many words.

Yossuff was also looking at Natilya on the stage, and he bid "Fifty goldgrams."  It was quite a compliment to Natilya, but not one that she really wanted.  She was pretty enough to bring pleasure to a gang of sadists who would torture her to death.

"Sixty" was the immediate bid from my new master.  He didn't give the auctioneer an opportunity to say "Sold" to anybody else before he got his bid in.

"Sixty do I hear seventy?  Sold, to the man wearing the blue honors sash."  The auctioneer didn't waste much time looking for further bids.  The auctioneer's assistant led Natilya down to join me, and my new master said "Wow!  A double bargain!"  Then he swaggered to the back of the pavilion, leading both of us to the desk where he would pay for his purchases.

The clerk at the desk began to make out our title deeds.  He put the thumbprints from both hands on each deed.  While he filled in height, hair color, skin color, eye color, tattoos, our new master began wildly gesturing, checking all of his pockets, saying "Small knife, small knife, it should be here somewhere.  Oh, the heck with it.  I've got a big knife.  A really big knife.  I'll use that."  And he pulled out his sword.  He waved it around, wearing an idiotic grin.  Several other people stepped back.

"You girls, stand right there.  I'm going to pull on your leashes tight, but stand right there."  Two quick short slashes, and he cut a bit over half a meter from each leash.  One more flamboyant waggle with that sword, and it was back in its scabbard.  Then he said "Hands behind your backs", and he tied our wrists crossed rigidly at right angles.  We were both quite secure, with no chance of touching the knots that held us.  He tied the left-over ends of our leashes together.

In a quieter tone of voice, he asked us "Are there any more girls in your family here?"  I hadn't known that he could speak quietly.  His foreign accent had suddenly disappeared.

Natilya said "Yes, one."  She glanced at me and added "Her sister."

Our new owner turned to the clerk and began waving his arms and checking all of his pockets again.  He found a purse, pulled it out, peered into it, reached into it with one finger, and carefully counted the gold coins in it.  Then he asked the clerk "Will you accept a purchase order on the Erionaller Embassy?"

The clerk said "Uh, sure."  Later, I realized that the clerk was using the coins in my master's purse as a bribe to the Crimson Caps.  He expected the Caps to kill my new master and steal us.  He didn't want to be blamed for selling us to somebody else besides Yossuff.

In the meantime, Yossuff had disappeared.  He had presumably gone to get reinforcements.  There were only a few crimson-capped thugs at the auction.  One or two thugs might not be enough against a man with a gold-hilted ceremonial sword that had a genuine sharp edge.

Another really pretty woman came up for auction.  A junior-boss Crimson Cap with a narrow gold cord around his hat stood up, but placed no bids.  Everybody else looked over at him.  Nobody else was willing to bid either.  The auctioneer said "We'll re-bid that item later."

Tarrahh was the third item after that.  Once again that junior-boss Crimson Cap stood up.

This time our new master bid "Twenty goldgrams."  He apparently wanted to see how low he could go.

"Sold, to the man wearing the blue honors sash."  Apparently the auctioneer figured that the Crimson Caps could steal all three of us with only one murder if we were all sold to the same foolish buyer.

Our new owner left Natilya and me standing by the clerk's counter, naked, tied together by the neck, hands behind our backs, while he went to take Tarrahh's leash.  It's a weird feeling, watching your own sister being sold into slavery.  Then, when the paperwork on her was complete, he marched us all out of the pavilion.

He didn't bother to shorten Tarrahh's leash or tie her hands behind her back.

Chapter 3. Sushann

We went across and a little way down the street to a place called the 'Slave Shop on the Corner'.  We had to walk right past the front door of another, larger, slave-supply dealer to get there.

Our new owner started by buying a box of a dozen matching padlocks, with three keys that fit all of the locks.  They were very nice padlocks, stainless steel, gold-plated on one side.  Our owner said "Wow!  Exclusive!  Unique key cut and also unique keyway.  Once I get these on you, nobody else will be able to get them off because I will have the only keys that work!  It says here on the box that if these are engraved, the engraving will cut all the way through the gold to make the lettering or whatever come out in silvery stainless-steel color.  That will be really pretty."  And then to the store clerk, "Do you know any good engravers around here?"  The clerk mentioned several, located less than a block away down Tomsson Street.

The second item was collars.  Our owner chose inexpensive aluminum, with no built-in locks.  He leered at us and said "OK, you three pretty slaves, kneel right here.  Let's get these collars on you and make this enslavement official.  You first, and then you, and then you," locking them on with three of his brand-new padlocks.  "Wow, you all look really good!"

Natilya kept sending nervous glances out the front window of the shop.  The Crimson Cap with the narrow gold gold cord around his hat was casually loitering there, leaning against a lamppost.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to loiter inconspicuously when you are wearing a bright crimson cap with gold trim?

Natilya tried to interrupt our master when the collars went on, "Master, we are all in grave danger.  Those-"

Whap!!  Our master cut her off with a slap across her cheek.  He bragged "No mere thug will dare to bother me.  I've got diplomatic status, through the Erionaller Embassy."  He wouldn't let Natilya tell him that Crimson Caps are not just "mere thugs".  You should have seen his fatheaded grin.

We were still kneeling when he cut our rope collars off with a nifty little folding knife that he pulled from one of his pockets.   I wondered where that knife had been when he was waving his sword around.

He picked up a pair of handcuffs, a one-piece design to hold two wrists with no connecting chain.  He put one of his new padlocks through a hole in  the connecting block of the cuffs, and said "That is an interesting idea."  Then he bought four pairs of those handcuffs and paid for all of the slave metal.

Clothing came next.  He selected six open-sided camisks, wide enough to cover our shoulders and overlap at our waists.  He passed them all to Tarrahh saying "One for you, and put two of them on the other girls."  Natilya and I couldn't help with that.  Our wrists were still lashed at right angles behind our backs.  He swaggered up to the front of the store and paid for the camisks while Tarrahh got us dressed.

Then our owner came back again to buy some more slave supplies:  Backpacks that Tarrahh put on Natilya and me; three narrower more revealing camisks; and then he went up and paid again.

"Stuff the extra camisks in the backpacks.  Can't leave them not paid for, that would be willful concealment of merchandise, that's a crime."

Two-and-a-half meter lengths of chain, which he locked on our collars using more of those matching padlocks, connecting us all in a slave coffle with a leading chain.  Close-fitting slave tunics that laced like corsets up the back, and strappy sandals; Tarrahh had to put the tunics in the backpacks and the sandals on our feet, while our owner paid yet again, advising the clerk to "Waste not, want not, you'll never run out of money if you pay for everything strictly as you go."  The clerk was looking at him, clearly wondering about the strange character who was stirring up such a commotion and paying a tidbit at a time.

Our owner was in the back of the store once again, looking at warm ponchos, when a scream came from down Justice Way to the right.  Some woman was really frightened.

The Crimson Cap who had been "loitering" out front ran toward the scream.  Our owner put a poncho back on the shelf and spoke in a sudden quiet intense voice: "Girls, we are leaving.  Now."  He grabbed the leading chain for his slave coffle and headed for the door.

I had been too nervous about the Crimson Caps to think, but it finally came together in my mind: He had made one demonstration of his sharp sword, and he didn't need to cut Tarrahh's leash to make another.  He had picked the store on the corner.  He had paid for everything promptly, so he had no bill to settle.  He had appreciated the danger all along.  Tarrahh understood a second or two before I did, and she told Natilya and me in a quiet voice to "Get moving!  Our getaway is starting!"  We were out the door of the Slave Shop on the Corner within 15 seconds after the departure of that Crimson Cap.

Our owner led us to the left onto Tommson Street as we went out of the store.  If the Crimson Cap had looked back along Justice Way, we would never have been in his line of sight.  Our owner continued to lead us across the street, and into the front door of a restaurant; through the restaurant to a hallway marked "Restrooms", which were on the right with the restaurant kitchen on the left; on down the hallway to another restaurant served by the same kitchen and restrooms; and then out onto Fishermans Alley.  It was one of the prettiest getaway moves I had ever heard of.  Even if the Crimson Cap had kept on "loitering", he would never have seen us go out the back.

* * *

Fishermans Alley leads right down to the docks, two blocks away.  Our new owner started walking slowly along the waterfront.  His swagger and flamboyance had suddenly disappeared, and we attracted little attention.  Then he took us into a travelers supply store, where he bought knee-length traveling cloaks for the three of us.  The cloaks were designed to cover both bodies and backpacks, since so many travelers seem to use backpacks these days.  For Natilya and me, the cloaks also covered our securely-tied arms.

As we left that store, Tarrahh turned to our owner and said "You know, if you took that distinctive gray three-cornered hat off and put the hoods of these cloaks up, we would be able to spot Crimson Caps from much farther away than they could recognize us."

Whiff!  Our owner slapped the air just in front of her nose hard, saying "Whap!  You will remember to address me as Master at all times!"  And then he put my hood up and added "Even when you are making damn good suggestions."  Tarrahh put her own hood up, and then Natilya's also.  Our owner folded his hat flat; it was designed to collapse into a five-centimeter-wide band.   He attached it to the right front of his uniform tunic with a couple of ribbon loops that were obviously designed to hold it.

Our master checked his pocket watch.  We walked down the waterfront a bit faster after that.  Our master clearly had a destination in mind and a schedule to keep.  We reached Wharf 21, turned down it, and went down to the second ship on the right, the Star of Villton.  There was a desk set up at the foot of the gangplank.  A gray-haired man with a mustache was sitting there, wearing the uniform of the Republic Customs and Immigration Service.  Our master said "I am declaring these three slave girls as part of my personal baggage.  Here is my diplomatic passport.  So the girls are exempt from being searched or needing additional paperwork."

The reply was "Ah yes, that's perfectly legitimate, perfectly legitimate.  Assuming that your passport is real, of course, and that these slaves really are yours.  Not that I mean to doubt you or anything like that, no, no, nothing like that at all.  But we had a case not too long ago where some women who were wanted by the Security Police pretended to be slaves and got out of the country without proper exit visas.  We can't have anything like that again, nothing like that ever again.  So now the Customs Service has been told to inspect exit documents extra carefully.  Please give me your passport for a closer inspection.  We can't be too careful about these kinds of things."

The customs agent then pulled out a magnifying glass and spent over two minutes studying the stamps and seals and the photo on that passport.  I could see our owner becoming impatient, although he tried to suppress that reaction.

The passport was handed back, with the comment "That seems to be perfectly in order, sir, perfectly in order.  Now about these slave girls.  Do you have any proof of ownership?"

Our owner pulled out the deeds that had been issued when he paid for us.  I hadn't appreciated what elaborate documents those were.  Engraved lettering, engraved curlicues down the sides, signatures, rubber stamps, embossed seals pressed into the paper across the signatures and rubber stamps so they couldn't be altered inconspicuously, a wax seal holding a ribbon of special multi-color threads, all were used to make those deeds hard to forge.

The customs agent pulled out an ink pad and said "We'll begin with the little ash-blond slave.  She seems to have her hands free already.  That will speed things up just a little bit.  I wouldn't want to cause any unnecessary delays here.  People's time is much too valuable to put up with unnecessary delays.  You can also keep things from being delayed if you release the hands of the other two."  And pointing to Tarahh, "We'll ink her right thumb and put a confirming print down here at the bottom of this deed."

Our owner pushed our cloaks aside and cut the ropes off of Natilya's and my wrists.  While he was doing that, the customs agent picked up his magnifying glass and compared Tarrahh's two right thumbprints on her title deed.  "Yes, yes, same general shape, let's check the details.  Yes, this line splits in the same place on both prints.  Same scar across both prints too.  How many lines in this whorl?  Yes, that checks.  It would appear that these prints were both made by the same thumb.  Now for the rest of the document.  I should have a reference booklet of slave dealers' signatures and stamps somewhere.  Now where did I put it?  I couldn't have forgotten it, now could I?  Ah yes, here it is.  Now where did I set that magnifying glass down?"

I was beginning to wonder if this agent had been alerted by the Crimson Caps to watch for us.  Was he delaying us deliberately?  Somehow I knew that the Crimson Caps were searching for all they were worth, and that they were closing in fast.

Chapter 4. The Crimson Caps

Lieutenant-Leader Fasshim of the Crimson Caps was cursing his rotten luck.  He was stuck trying to keep track of an Erionalle Navy officer who had bought three slave girls right out from under Yossuff and the Beloved Heir.  But Fasshim also was responsible for several other slave girls that Yossuff had purchased, and his only assistant was Yanni.  Nobody thought very highly of Yanni.

Yossuff had made a mistake, bringing only three other Caps to the slave sale.  Then he sent one of them back to their headquarters with orders for a couple of plainclothesmen to intercept that goddamn Erionaller and take the slaves back.  That was before the Erionaller had shown how sharp his sword was.  The sword could cause trouble, even though its owner was obviously a complete doofuss.  So Yossuff had to go back to HQ himself and order up more reinforcements.  That left just Fasshim.  And Yanni.

Fasshim was doing his best to loiter inconspicuously outside the shop where the Erionaller was buying locks and collars and other slave supplies.  He never thought about taking his crimson cap off; after all, it was on his own head, where he couldn't see it.  Fasshim wasn't normally involved in surveillance work.

A woman screamed, from somewhere down Justice Way.  Obviously that damn Yanni was interfering with the other newly-purchased slave girls who were being kept over there, or perhaps he was offending some free woman.  Whichever, the problem had to be dealt with.  Fasshim ran down to deal with it quickly.  He was responsible for watching the Erionaller officer, but that officer was busy in the back of the slave-supplies store looking over some more merchandise.  Fasshim figured that it would take at least a few minutes before the Erionaller finished paying for whatever he was about to buy.

Yanni turned out to be completely innocent.   Somebody else's slave had been groped by yet another person who had no right to do that.  The groper and the slave owner were about to start a fight.   Fasshim told them both to "Knock it off".  They took one look at his crimson cap, and they both decided that that would be a good idea.

Fasshim hurried back to the Slave Shop on the Corner.  He looked into the store through its display windows.  The Erionaller and the three slave girls were gone!  Fasshim went into the store and interrogated the clerk.  The reply was "This counter is placed so I look into the store to watch for shoplifting, not outward.  I don't know where they went.  The guy did ask about engravers."   So Fasshim went down Tommson Street and checked each of the engraving shops.  There was no sign of the Erionaller or the slave girls.

Yossuff came back to Justice Way from the Crimson Caps headquarters, bringing six other Caps.  It is easy to imagine how he felt when he learned that his quarry had disappeared.  Fasshim's job, and perhaps even his life, were in danger.

Fasshim saved himself by observing "You know, there are only three possibilities as to where that guy and the slaves could be.  Maybe four, depending on how you figure the second one.  First off, they could be en route to the Erionaller Embassy.  I presume that you have covered that possibility by alerting the plainclothesmen around that embassy."

Yossuff answered "Yes".

"Second possibility is that they are somewhere around the town.  Either they are innocently eating lunch, or going for a stroll, or shopping, or something.  Second-and-a-half possibility is that they are hiding in a safe house used by Erionaller spies somewhere in town.  If that is the case, then we will find them sooner or later.   We can alert the regular police and the Special Security Police.  With that many people watching for them, they won't get away.

"Third possibility is that they headed for the docks."  The implication was obvious.  Many of the ships moored along the docks were bound for destinations outside the Guided Republic.

So Yossuff ordered "Head for the docks."

The first place to check at dockside was clearly the office of the Republic Customs and Immigration Service.  A gray-haired man with a mustache was sitting behind the counter, wearing a Service uniform.  Yossuff said "We're looking for an Erionalle Navy officer with three slave girls.  Have any of your customs people seen them?"

The reply was "Ah yes, ah yes.  An Erionalle Navy lieutenant, with three slave girls wearing traveling cloaks, chained in a coffle.  One pale blonde, and one shorter ash blonde, and one older girl, with black hair.  All three are unusually pretty women, unusually pretty.  They were all purchased at today's auction.  The lieutenant was wearing a sword and a pale-blue honors sash.  On the sash was a Diplomatic Service badge and the stripes of a Navy full commander.  I understand that Erionallers often get honorary navy commissions and promotions.  Their paperwork was completely in order, sir, completely in order.  I inspected it myself.  That must be the group you are referring to, is it not?"

"YES!  Where are they?!!"

"They are aboard the Star of Villton.  Five-masted steam schooner, flying the flag of the Danitzer Administrative District in Vegonyn.  Next port of call will be Desrilay, Erionalle."

"And where is this schooner?"

"Right out there."  And the customs agent pointed out the window of the office, toward Wharf 21.  Yossuff immediately led his group of Crimson Caps out of the customs office and onto that dock.

They were back about ten minutes later.

Yossuff complained "The ship has sailed!"

"Yes, yes, of course.  It's over there now."  The customs agent pointed out the office window again, this time toward Wharf 19.  He was actually pointing past the wharf at the Star of Villton, which was in the middle of the channel.  "The Erionaller officer and his slave girls were right ahead of me when I went aboard to give the first officer the departure papers for the ship, and the gangplank was pulled up about ten seconds after I got back on the dock.  No way for anybody to get back off the ship after I did.  No way at all."

"Stop! That! Ship!"

"Yes sir, yes sir, the full resources of this customs and immigration station are at your disposal for stopping that ship.  We await your detailed orders on how to go about accomplishing your goal."   The customs agent waited five seconds for Yossuff to realize the complete futility of his order, and then added "Can I show you the way to the Port Captain's office?"

Chapter 5. Lieutenant (honorary Commander) Wreford Morton

The Customs and Immigration agent finally stamped "Approved for Export" on the title deeds of each of my three new slaves.  I led my slave coffle onto the Star of Villton as soon as the last deed was stamped.  The Customs and Immigration agent followed us onto the ship and handed a bundle of paperwork to the first officer, saying "Final clearance, sir, final clearance for this voyage.  I hope you have fair winds and gentle breezes all the way to Desrilay.  I will look forward to seeing you again soon, sir, I hope you will be here again soon."  It would be hard to persuade that Customs guy to shut up.  His fussy inspection of my paperwork had already delayed our planned departure by about fifteen minutes.

The Star of Villton got underway under steam power alone.  As it did so, the purser came up to me and said "Who are these women?  Where are their passports?  Where are their tickets?  The passenger cabins on this ship are sold out."

I said "They are slaves, officially part of my baggage, so they don't need tickets.  Since I am traveling on a diplomatic passport myself, and they are slaves, I don't have to have passports for them.  All I have to do is prove ownership, and I do have title deeds, which just passed inspection by that super-fussy Customs guy.  I expect that under the circumstances I will have to pay a baggage surcharge."

"What makes you think that the Star of Villton is in the business of transporting slaves?"

Here was another officious idiot, just what I needed after that Customs guy.  I answered "I have just served for one year as assistant naval attaché at the Erionalle Embassy.  I have a pretty good idea of who ships what from here to Erionalle.  I am well aware that you have a slave deck.  I am even aware that you aren't using it for slaves right now.  Besides, it's academic, unless you want to tell your skipper to go back to the dock.  The gangplank is in, the stern lines have been cast off, and I expect that the next engine order will be 'Back one-third'."

Sure enough, we overheard that engine order delivered from the quarterdeck only a few seconds later.  A junior ship's officer approached the purser and said "Sir, there is at least one bay of slaves' quarters still unfolded just forward of the engine room.  If I remember correctly, the charge for using it was two hundred ten Erionalle ducats, between here and Desrilay."

The purser gave the junior officer a dirty look.  I expect that the purser had hoped for a much larger bribe.  I probably got the junior officer out of trouble by saying "That sounds about right, based on the ships' manifests that crossed my desk as naval attaché.  At fourteen to one, that would be fifteen goldgrams.  Three five-goldgram coins should cover it."

The purser could argue neither with a payment in gold, nor with a currency conversion that gave him an extra break.  He turned to the junior officer and said "OK, take them down to the slave quarters."

A tight spiral staircase took us down two decks, to a spot just in front of the engine room.  A bunch of partitions and cage doors were folded against each other on the bulkhead by the access hatch.  Only one bay was unfolded.  If the others had been opened, the entire deck would have been set up for slave transport.  As it was, the rest of the deck was stacked with barrels of textile dyes made from the seaweeds that grow in the channels around the islands of the Guided Republic.  There was just enough room between the barrels of dye and the end of the slaves' bay to give access around the end.

Slaves in one of these bays spend most of their time confined in what amount to square-section plywood-and-canvas tubes.  The opened bay was only about 70 centimeters wide, with bamboo plywood panels on both sides.  The girls would lie on their canvas bunks and be able to touch both sides with their elbows very easily.  The triple bunks had no mattresses or blankets, just the bare canvas.  There was also about 70 centimeters vertically between the bunks.

The junior officer explained how the facilities worked.  "This end of the bay, you will notice, has a space between the door and the ends of the bunks.  If you lift the panel that covers this space, you will see a toilet hole and a couple of foot platforms.  You squat on the foot platforms when you use the hole.  We'll flush seawater through the channel beneath the hole every so often, and that will move what you do in the hole down to the bilge to be flushed over the side.  It won't stink too bad if you keep the cover panel down tight between times.  Be sure you use the hole.  You will live with anything you put onto your bunks.  If there is any piss, shit, or vomit in the canvas when we arrive, we fine your owner another three goldgrams.  Then it's up to your owner to take three goldgrams' worth of skin off of your body with a whip."

He turned to me and said "You will need four padlocks to secure your property.  We could sell you some padlocks, if you need them."  I didn't, of course.  He continued "This end, with the waste hole, has a single full-height door.  The other end has individual doors for the three bunks.  The slaves lie with their ass ends in this direction.  You can then feed them good food, or slave slop, or not feed them at all, individually from the other end.  You will be responsible for feeding them, by the way.  Slavers who make shipments usually have their own staff to handle that job."

I opened the padlocks that attached the coffle chain to the collars, and said "Okay, you and you, climb in.  You can keep your travelers cloaks to serve as blankets and keep you warm tonight."  I still didn't know my slaves' names, so I couldn't order them by name into the slave bay.  Then I turned to the first one I bought and said "I'm keeping you with me in my cabin on the main deck."  The one that I kept looked very nervous.  The other two followed orders and climbed into two of the slave bunks.

I locked the slave bay with four of my new padlocks.  I picked up the backpack that one of the girls had been wearing, and took my remaining slave away.  The entire slave-installation process hadn't taken very long.  Our ship had just finished backing out into the channel and was starting downstream when we reached the deck.  I looked back at the dock.  About half a dozen Crimson Caps were checking everybody there.  They would be disappointed.

Chapter 6. Lieutenant Morton

The Star of Villton has three excellent first-class cabins in the front of the midships deckhouse.  Mine wasn't one of them.

My cabin was on the port side.  It did have a porthole, so it had natural light and I could look out.  It had a washstand, so I could clean myself with a washcloth or shave in privacy.  But the toilet was down the corridor, and the cabin was just wide enough for one set of narrow bunk beds and a space to set my sea chests down.  The sea chests had been delivered to the ship on the previous evening.

When you are with a nervous girl and you want to calm her, the last place you want to take her is a small cabin where the largest piece of furniture is a bed.  This is even more true if she is a slave, you own her, and she doesn't know you well enough to predict how you will behave.  So I dropped off the backpack that I had carried up from the slave quarters, and also the backpack from my own back that had the supplies I used during my final night at the Embassy.  I told my slave to take off her travelers cloak and her backpack as well.  That left her wearing only a new wide light gray camisk.   I stepped back out of the cabin to a bench seat built into the side of the deckhouse, right outside my cabin hatch, and I ordered my new slave to sit beside me.

She sat very tentatively.  She left about ten centimeters between us.  From the way she moved, you would have thought that I had ordered her to sit on a hot stove. I had to put her at ease, somehow.  I started with the obvious line: "So what is your name?"

She answered "My name is -- or was -- oh! -- trick question."  Then she slid to her knees at my feet, and she put her hands on her thighs.  She looked down and mumbled something toward the deck.

I asked more sharply "I didn't hear that.  What is your name?"

She spoke a bit louder, in a very strained voice, "Whatever Master wishes."

I said "OK, Whatever Master Wishes.  Stay right there and don't move."  Then I stood up and went back into the cabin for a few moments to pick up some important supplies.

When I came back out I told her in a stern voice "You have been disobedient.  I told you to sit, and instead you are kneeling.  I had to change my order to match what you are doing.  It's supposed to be the other way around.  You are supposed to change what you are doing to match my orders.  Now stand up."

She stood, rather uncertainly.  I am medium-tall, about 183 centimeters, and she was above average for a girl, about ten centimeters shorter than I am.

My next order was "Turn and face the ship's rail."  She gave a frightened little gasp at that one, and she glanced nervously overside at the river water, but she did turn.  "Hands behind your back."  She forced herself to follow that order.  I secured her wrists with one of my new pairs of cuffs, and I put a padlock on the handcuffs.  "Now, sit!"

When she sat, I sat right next to her and put my left arm around her waist.  In a quieter tone of voice, I ordered "Now, cry!"

It took her a moment to react, and then her chest began to heave.  She seemed to be having trouble breathing.  She looked at me, wondering, blinking back tears, and said "My Master - wants me - to cry?"

I used my ordinary voice instead of my giving-orders voice, and I said "Not exactly.  But I can easily see that you need to, and we aren't going to accomplish anything until you have that out of your system."

I squeezed gently with my left arm, intending to give her a reassuring hug.  She took it as a cue, and turned toward me, and said "Oh! Master! Mastemmmm" as she buried her face in my armpit and sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed.

She must have cried for about 20 minutes.  Each time she came up for air, I used a handkerchief to help her blow her nose, squeezing her nostrils shut one at a time.  I dried her tears with another handkerchief.  Then she buried her face in my armpit again, and kept right on sobbing.

The tears worked a complete transformation.  When they finally ended, she was much more relaxed.  She looked back at the town of Tarkochi.  I thought at first that she wanted one final view of her home town, but then she said "Do you think Yossuff is likely to come after us and stop the ship?"  She was still a bit worried.

I said "Hardly likely.  After the naval battle a couple of days ago, all-out naval war is on a hair trigger here.  This ship has a home port in the district of the Vegonyn Empire that is administered by the Kingdom of Danitz.  I am carrying an Erionaller diplomatic passport.  If I were in his shoes, I wouldn't want to risk touching that hair trigger.  The Guided Republic might find itself under attack by all three nations' navies."

(I later learned that Yossuff had wanted to stop our ship after all.  But the Republic Navy port captain saw the danger and refused to give the necessary orders.)

My new slave cuddled up to me.  She smiled and said "For just a split moment there, when you told me to face the rail, I thought that you might want to toss me overboard."

I smiled reassuringly and answered "There are three reasons why I wouldn't do that.  Let's consider the most important one first.

"Let's imagine for just a moment that you have done something which makes me so angry with you that I decide to drop you over the side.  I actually can't imagine anything you could do that would really make me that angry, but let's pretend for a moment.   So I tie your hands behind your back, and I tie a heavy weight to your ankles to make sure that you go straight to the bottom and drown.  I carry you to the ship's rail.  And you look up at me.

"The expression on your face is the same one that you were wearing a few hours ago on the auction block, the one that says 'I am a damsel.  I am in severe distress.  If you ever want to think of yourself as a man ever again, you must help me.  Please help me.'  The last time I saw that expression, I risked my career and my life to rescue you.

"So I carry you back to this bench, and I apologize, and I promise never to get that angry again.  Since I didn't really get that angry, I don't have to really apologize.  And you can believe my promise to never get that angry in the first place."

She smiled up at me for a few moments, and then asked "What are the other two reasons?"

"Number two, I just paid sixty goldgrams for you.  I don't want to toss all that money overboard.  And finally, right now, you are wearing very nice handcuffs and an aluminum collar, secured with two of the padlocks that are the only ones in the world that match my new keys.  I don't want to lose those padlocks either."  When I reached the end of this list, I was smiling at her, and she laughed in relief.  This was the first time I saw how much more beautiful she was when she laughed.  She was finally able to relax completely in the circle of my arm and the grip of my handcuffs.

Then she asked "Who are you, Master?  How did you happen to be there when we needed rescuing?"

I said "I am Lieutenant Wreford Morton of the Grand Duke of Erionalle Navy.  I have just finished a one-year assignment as assistant naval attaché at our embassy here in the Guided Republic.  I decided to walk the streets of Tarkochi one last time on my way down to the docks to start my journey home, and my walk carried me down Justice Way and past the auction pavilion.

"Several weeks ago I got a Dear-John letter from the girl I was hoping to win back in Erionalle.  I had some spare cash that I had just withdrawn from the bank in Tarkochi, and I figured that I could afford as much as one hundred fifty goldgrams to buy one slave girl, a girl who could never send me a Dear-John.  I never dreamed that I would buy a three-girl harem for only one hundred forty.  Yossuff did you and me a big favor, because nobody else was willing to bid against him.

"Personally, I am a member of the Morton family that owns Triple-M, Morton Marine Minerals.  My great-grandfather started the company.  He is long dead, of course, and his ownership is now split among a whole raft of uncles and cousins.  But it is a prosperous company, and I get enough in dividends to easily be able to support myself and all three of you.  We will live in the mansion that my great-grandfather bought from a land baron who who was obsessed with having a huge house.  The land baron went bankrupt building it, and Great-Granddad got it cheap.  It's divided into apartments now.  Quite a few family members live there.  I've got the end of the northeast wing, which is as big as most houses.  We'll have plenty of room."

She asked "Marine minerals?"

I explained "The water of the Great Ocean is a very dilute source of all sorts of metals, for example copper, vanadium, cobalt, and also traces of gold, silver, platinum, and others.  Aluminum, too, this whole planet is rich in aluminum, but that is almost a byproduct of our specialty-metals recovery and refining.  The sea life concentrates the specialty metals very strongly in its biological processes.

"That sea life is harvested for fish oils, and sea cotton, and organic chemicals.  The wastes from making these products go to rotteries where they are decomposed by bacteria into fuel gas.  We buy the left-over sludge from the rotteries, and that sludge is a pretty good ore.   We extract and purify the metals that were originally in the sea water.

"Many of the sea-plant farmers hire crabster fishermen to keep those nasty armored bottom crawlers out of the sea-cotton fields.  Morton Minerals buys the crabster shells, which are the only parts of a crabster that are worth anything.  Those shells are another good metals ore.

"I have outside interests too, besides the Navy and the family company.  Like most young men, I am interested in women.  Like many other Erionallers, I am a bondage buff.  We have some fanatics in Erionalle who actually want to require that all free women, as well as all slave girls, should be kept in chains at all times.  I can't agree with that, but I do think that a woman is at her most beautiful when she is chained helpless, preferably on a bed.  And that is why you are wearing handcuffs right now."

She said "Oh."  She sat there for a few moments, with her mind digesting what I had just told her.  Then she added "I never did answer your original question properly.  Master, my born name is Sushann Trygg.  I was enslaved yesterday as part of the penalty for my dad's part in the loss of the Schlahh; he was the chief engineering officer.  My stepmom Natilya and my sister Tarrahh were caught in the same enslavement.

"I beg you to be gentle with me in your chains.  Please, Master, be gentle.  I am going to have to learn to like them.  When you lock me up like this, I feel that it is because you don't trust me, or you want to punish me.  I suppose that that feeling doesn't make any more or any less sense than your feeling that I am prettier in chains, but it is just as real."

I said "Trust.  Hmmmm.  I think that there is one way we could both be happy.  Turn away from me, and bend forward.  I have to get those handcuffs off of you, and show you exactly how they work."

Within a few moments she was watching me demonstrate my new solid-link handcuffs.   I did all of the talking.  "These aren't like police-model handcuffs.  The pivoting bows of the cuffs won't spin all the way around and close again.  That means that the cuffs must be opened before they can be applied. That also means that the cuffs can be much wider than police cuffs, with comfortably rounded edges.  You could wear them for most of the day without hurting your wrists, even if you spent much of that day squirming in bed.

"Opening them is easy enough, although you will notice that there is no keyhole in these cuffs.  This hole in the center block between the cuffs goes all the way through, but there is no slot  for the teeth of a key beside the hole on either side.

"On one side there is this small smooth cylindrical knob."  I held the cuffs with the pivoting bows downward, and I twisted that small knob.  The cuffs fell open.  "See, nothing to it.  Here, you try."  Of course it worked for her too.

I added "Next lesson.  Try it while wearing the cuffs.  Hands in front."  I put the cuffs on her with the release knob toward her fingers.  Once again she had no trouble in getting the cuffs open.

"Third lesson.  Hands in front again.  Now try to get out."  This time I put the knob away from her fingers.  She fumbled for a few seconds, then smiled at me and shook her head to admit defeat.  I added "But of course absolutely anybody who comes along can easily take them off you," and I did exactly that.

"Fourth lesson.  Hands in front again."  This time I latched the cuffs onto her wrists in the loosest notch, with the knob toward her fingers.  Then I locked one of my new padlocks through the hole in the center block.  "Now try."  Sushann quickly discovered that the release knob wouldn't turn with the padlock in place.  "Are your hands small enough to slip the cuffs off when I set them this loose?"  It turned out that her hands were small enough, although it took a minute or so of serious wriggling to get the job done.

"I guess I should have set them tighter.  Let's try that."  Without removing the padlock or putting them on her, I squeezed the cuffs between my hands.  Nothing happened.  "Here, you try."  She couldn't make them any tighter either.  "It's called a double lock.  With a padlock in place, these cuffs cannot be either tightened or loosened.  I could have put a bolt and nut through the hole and that would also double-lock the cuffs.

"So you see that these are variable security handcuffs.  Depending on how you wear them, you can easily release them; or you can't, but anybody else can release them; or anybody with a wrench can release them; or nobody can release them without the right padlock key.  I think that this is a really neat design.

"Now once more, hands behind your back."  I put the cuffs on her with the release knob toward her fingers.

"General Order Number One.  You are not to release these cuffs when they are set this way, or release any other type of similar confinement that I place you in, without a specific or general order from me.

"General Order Number Two.  If I hurt you while you are wearing these cuffs like this, or other similar confinement, then you will release yourself.  That is an order.  That is not permission, or a suggestion, it is what you shall do.  I may find that I must hurt you deliberately at some time in the future in order to punish you.  If that happens, I will padlock the cuffs or otherwise confine you unable to escape.  So if you can get out and I hurt you, it will be an accident and I will need to know the cause so that I can keep it from happening again.

"General Order Number Three.  If the ship sinks, or if we have some similar emergency, you are to release yourself and deal with the problem as best you can.

"You are feeling that I don't trust you.  Now I am trusting you to follow these general orders.  I can trust you in that, can't I?"

She smiled at me and said "Yes, Master."  Her smile said that I had put an inescapable cuff around her heart.  I was very glad that I had given her a chance to cry.

Chapter 7. Lieutenant Morton

"OK then Sushann, let's go eat."

"Thank you Master.  I have had nothing since breakfast.  Of course Natilya and Tarrahh haven't had anything either."

"We'll have to check out both eat-in and take-out arrangements in the galley."  We soon learned that the galley served three meals a day, at conventional hours, but that they were always open to serve convenience foods such as sandwiches and soup.  Crewmen might be called onto duty at any hour, depending on the weather, and passengers might want food at any time.

The menus were interwoven.  A breakfast of eggs, sausage, and toast was followed by egg-salad sandwiches with sausage bits mixed into the egg salad.  If lunch was roast chicken, then chicken soup would be served in the afternoon.  On that first evening of our voyage, supper was ham steaks, followed by ham-and-cheese sandwiches in the evening.

The tables in the dining area were bolted to the deck and surrounded either by low bar stools, also bolted in place, or by built-in booth seats.   No storms could send this furniture flying.  There were no low kneeler hassocks or other arrangements just for slaves.

I wasn't sure about the slave-handling customs aboard the Star of Villton.  I knew that some people frown on keeping slave girls in restraints at all times.  However, when we arrived at the dining area, I noticed that one older passenger was traveling with a slave girl, and he had her wrists shackled to the low backrest of one of the bar stools.  I took the hint and left Sushann's hands in their cuffs, which of course meant that I had to feed her.  She seemed to enjoy this.  She followed my General Order Number One and did not touch the release knob on her cuffs.  The ham steaks were very good.

The galley had food pails available for carrying meals to other parts of the ship.  I was told that the captain used these pails; he preferred to stay closer to the bridge, so he had food brought to his sea cabin.  I had two of these pails filled with excellent sandwiches - ham and cheese, with lettuce and tomato, mayonnaise, on rye - and I carried them down to the slave quarters, along with two small bottles of water.  Sushann came down with me to say goodnight to her stepmother and sister.

Then it was time for Sushann and me to spend our first night together.

Only one person could sleep in the rather narrow single bed in my little cabin.  A bed wide enough for two people would have taken up most of the floor space.  There was also an upper bunk, folded against the bulkhead.  If I had been sharing my cabin with a brother officer to save some money, one of us would no doubt have unfolded that bunk and used it.  But that wasn't what I had in mind for sleeping with Sushann.

The cabin also contained an alternate sleeping arrangement, a rolled-up wide hammock, and brackets on the bulkheads for hanging it.  The advertised purpose was a safer and more comfortable place to sleep in severe weather.  A hammock can swing with the wave action, so you don't have to brace yourself to avoid being tossed out of your bed. But the hammock had another useful feature as well: it took up almost all the width of the cabin, including the space over my sea chests, so it was wide enough for two people.  When it was used in that way, it put both people on the same level instead of stacking them one above the other in separate bunks.  I am sure that my new slave and I would not be the first couple to take advantage of that feature, which would of course be useful even in calm weather.

I rigged the hammock up, and I sat on the end of the bunk and undressed.  Undressing Sushann was very simple, since she was wearing nothing except a camisk.  I undid her handcuffs from one wrist, and I tossed her onto the hammock.  And then I joined her there.

When I rigged the hammock, I also attached one of my two-and-a-half-meter lengths of slave-coffle chain to the hammock support hooks at the corners of the top.  I was then able to pull Sushann up toward that end of the hammock, wrap her arms around the length of chain, and handcuff them there.  Sushann lay on her back with her arms stretched over her head and gave me an uncertain smile.  I sat there, and looked her up and down, and admired my prize.  Sushann's entire body was slim.  Her breasts were each just large enough to completely fill one of my hands.  Her skin was pale, as you would expect from a light-colored blonde.  All the hair on her body matched, so she wasn't using bleach on her head.

I reached into the air over her tummy.  I wiggled my fingers in a clawing motion.  And I asked her "Are you ticklish?"

She watched me, and she giggled.  She was apparently so ticklish that I didn't even have to touch her in order to make her laugh.  I lowered my hand onto her ribs and quickly confirmed that this was true.  Sushann was, and is, one of the most ticklish women that I have ever met.

She laughed.  She giggled.  She howled.  She begged for mercy.  I kept right on tickling, with my hands ranging from her ribs to her neck, and her breasts, and her underarms.  I gave her a ten-second break as I shifted my weight onto her lower legs, immobilizing them, and then I started in on her feet.  That got an especially strong reaction.

And then she used the release knob on her handcuffs and brought her arms down toward her body, slowly and carefully.  She gasped "Sorry - Master - I'm under orders - rule number two - I'm hurting."

I paused in my tickling and asked "What's wrong?"

"Stitch - in my side - or maybe it's a - cramp in my rib muscles - it hurts - to breathe."  I noticed that she was taking quick shallow breaths, trying to recover.  Eventually she sat up, slowly and carefully, and twisted her upper body back and forth, working the muscle pain out.

Finally she was able to relax again, and take a couple of deep breaths without wincing.  She lay back, and stretched her own arms back over her head, and wrapped them back around the chain at the top of the hammock, and latched the handcuffs back on her own wrists again.  She said "Sorry, Master.  But you ordered me to release myself if you hurt me, and believe me, that hurt!  It's alright now."  Her eyes had no more pain, only passion.

The interruption shifted the mood in the cabin.  There didn't seem to be much point in sustained tickling any more.  I leaned slowly closer to her face and kissed her gently on the lips.  Then I kissed her hard, and licked her lips with my tongue.  And then I kissed her even harder, with both of our mouths open, and I massaged one of her breasts.  I moved down her body, kissing a breast and touching her love lips with my fingers.  And she exploded into her first orgasm of the night.  It was far from her last.  Besides squirming and laughing, Sushann had gotten hot during the tickling.  It turned out that tickling was her favorite form of foreplay.

All night long I tickled in brief bursts, and caressed, and made love, and napped for short intervals.  At some time during the night she said "I like this kind of confinement."  When I asked her why, she added "It keeps my hands out of your way, so that you can do what you please to my body.  And it gives me freedom to shift back and forth on this hammock, so that I can do this."  And she rolled over on top of me and started another round of passion.  I quickly learned that there is something better after all than a woman chained naked to a bed; that is a woman who is chained naked to a bed and showing you she is having a wonderful time.

I know for sure that I never hurt Sushann again.  I could tell because her wrists were still in my handcuffs when we woke up the next morning.

* * *

The Star of Villton held its course close-hauled under sail through excellent autumn weather.  The next morning I started a schedule which I would follow for all seven days of our journey to Desrilay:

--  take sponge baths and toilet breaks with Sushann in the early morning.  (A shower would have been nice, but the ship didn't have enough fresh water to put showers in passenger cabins.)

--  feed an early breakfast to Sushann.

--  visit the slave quarters, carrying a food pail of breakfast for Tarrahh.  Install Sushann in the slave quarters, and take Natilya out.

--  eat late breakfast with Natilya.  Get some exercise with her, walking laps around the ship's maindeck.  Sit with her on the bench outside my cabin and enjoy the excellent weather.  Give her a bit of privacy in the cabin and let her take a sponge bath of her own.

--  eat early lunch with Natilya.

--  visit the slave quarters, carrying a lunch pail for Sushann.  Exchange Natilya for Tarrahh.

--  feed a late lunch to Tarrahh.  Exercise with her, on deck and also in the cabin.  Give her a sponge bath.

--  feed an early supper to Tarrahh.

--  visit the slave quarters with a supper pail for Natilya.  Exchange Tarrahh for Sushann.

--  enjoy a late supper, evening, and night with Sushann.

Natilya spent about 20 hours a day locked into a 70 x 70 cm tube in the slave quarters.  She had nothing to do there except wonder and worry about her future.  She told me more than once how much she looked forward to and appreciated her mornings topside.

I had several reasons for not bedding her.  I discussed several of these with her while we sat together on that bench outside my cabin.  For one thing, it seemed wrong to be having sex with both mother and daughters, somehow akin to incest.  For another, she was an older woman from my point of view.  And then there was the limit of my own endurance; I did not think that I could enjoy passion with three women a day, for day after day after day.  I reassured her that I did not think she was ugly or unworthy of attention by men.  I just didn't think that taking her would be right for me. I did not discuss the biggest reason for this, which was her reaction to the loss of her husband.  Until she accepted that loss, any sex that I had with her would be rape.  I did not want to become a rapist.  She spent at least an hour of each morning topside just sitting on that bench, staring at the ocean, saying nothing.  I would bet that she was thinking about him.  I sat near her for much of these times, not touching, not saying anything, just quietly sympathising.

During these mornings when Natilya was out of the slave quarters, I kept one of my lengths of chain locked to her collar as a leash.  I did not keep her in handcuffs or otherwise confine her.  The leash was sufficient to keep her under lock and key, as was proper under the social customs followed on the ship.

* * *

The afternoons were different.  As I already mentioned, my afternoon slave was Tarrahh.  I found that she was different from her sister Sushann in many ways, including appearance.  She was about ten centimeters shorter in height.  Her hips, and her waist, and especially her bust were a total of about ten centimeters larger than Sushann's measurements.  Her hair was ash blond instead of pale blond.  If they hadn't had similar blue eyes and similar facial features, it would be hard to believe that they were sisters.

There were other differences too, having nothing to do with appearance.  I didn't make her nervous, and she shed no tears.  Of course she probably had a better idea of what to expect from me.  She spent a morning in the slave quarters with Sushann before her first afternoon with me.  She probably got a detailed briefing on how the previous night had gone.  What else would they have talked about, through one thin layer of canvas?

I learned more about their differences when I started my first afternoon with Tarrahh by showing her how the variable-security handcuffs worked, just as I had shown them to Sushann.

Her reaction to wearing the cuffs with release knob toward her fingers was "That seems rather pointless."

Her reaction to wearing the cuffs with release knob away from her fingers was "I suppose that could be called the whore's setting.  The girl is available to anyone."

Her reaction to wearing the cuffs with padlock in place was "You keep a woman locked up like this for any length of time and she is going to get very hot for you.  Especially if you lock her hands out of the way, and then spank her or whip her."  She was overgeneralizing, of course.  The highest-security setting didn't do much for her own sister Sushann.  But her expression when she said this clearly showed that it was true for her, and that she was getting warm already.

So when I took her into the cabin, I started by cuffing her wrists in front over her head to the corner of the upper bunk.  That confined her standing and opened her back and butt for a gentle spanking.  Tickling didn't do much for Tarrahh.  Spanking got her very hot very quickly.

Eventually I rigged her onto the hammock with a different arrangement than I used for Sushann.  I attached Tarrahh's wrists widely apart to the two-and-a-half meter chain with two pairs of handcuffs, and I padlocked both pairs.  Tarrahh couldn't roll over toward me, nor could she roll away, nor could she escape either my handcuffs or my attentions.  It all had a powerful effect.  Keeping her securely chained was enough to keep her getting hotter.

Kisses, caresses, sweet words, and admiring her marvelous naked body all helped, but weren't essential.  Several times I left her chained on the hammock for about fifteen minutes without touching her or saying anything.  I just kept looking.  She was ready for sex when I finally caressed her.  She needed no other foreplay.  And when I did start using my hands and my lips on both of her breasts and both of her sets of lips, she quickly reached the first of her multiple orgasms.

I quickly confirmed that there is something else better after all than a woman chained naked to a bed; that is a woman who is chained naked to a bed and showing you that the chains are making her have a wonderful time.

I must have hurt Tarrahh a bit during the spankings.  Her skin turned red.  But she never complained, that evening or any later evening when suppertime arrived and our time together in the cabin ended.

* * *

The wind on this trip kept blowing from the west, not the southwest as is usual in those waters.  We stayed under sail, close-hauled, because the ship was faster under sail than under steam, and we would reach Desrilay sooner even though our course was a bit less direct.  The wind pushed us to the north of where we wanted to be.  I knew this because I was using my sextant and my reference manuals, which were in one of my sea chests; I took advantage of the opportunity to get some navigation practice after a year ashore.  We finally turned onto the starboard tack, and ran due south, entering through the North Suido into the Erionalle Inland Sea.  The sails came down, the main boilers were fired up, and we steamed into Desrilay Harbor.  All good things have to come to an end, including ocean voyages.

I had kept my women in camisks through the entire voyage, saving their slave tunics for our arrival.  The tunics were rather conservative, for slave wear.  They had broad shoulder straps, which attached to the fronts with double buttons.  Skirts were included, flaring out from the hips, knee-length on Natilya and Tarrahh and just above the knees on Sushann because of her height.  The fabric was opaque brown sea-cotton.

But the front openings on these tunics buttoned all the way from neckline to hemline.  All of the buttons were polished brass, gleaming against the medium brown of the sea-cotton fabric.  It was obvious that undoing the front buttons and the shoulder-strap buttons would allow these tunics to be stripped off of a slave girl even if she were tied or chained into helplessness.   Besides, these tunics laced up the back like corsets.  They didn't have the extra strength or the boning of corsets, so they could not rearrange a woman's body to slim down her waist.  But they fit the natural shape of the slaves who wore them just as closely as corsets would.

I chained my slaves into a coffle again for going ashore.  Natilya was the leader, confined only by the coffle chain.  Tarrahh, in the middle, wore padlocked handcuffs behind her back.  Sushann wore handcuffs latched behind her back, and she was prevented from getting her hands loose only by my order.  I had learned what my women liked during our voyage, and I saw no reason to change the fundamentals of the way I treated any of them.

The ship's baggage handlers unloaded my sea chests and sent them to the Morton mansion via railway express.  My slaves and I went shopping in downtown Desrilay, buying additional slave garments and equipment.  We filled the backpacks that both Tarrahh and Sushann wore, and Natilya and I both carried shopping bags.

Then we took the train.  The Morton mansion is in Dobbse, a small town a bit over 30 kilometers out of downtown Desrilay.  Suburban expresses make the run with only two stops in less than 30 minutes.  On the train, I found a first-class compartment for four.  The window seats had V-shaped grooves in the backs.  Tarrahh and Sushann could sit back in comfort with their arms in the grooves, and I didn't have to undo their handcuffs. My sea chests were shipped to Dobbse on the same train that we took.  My cousin Letsie met us at the station with her pony cart.

Chapter 8. Lieutenant Morton, Describing his Relatives

I have to interrupt my own story at this point to tell you a couple of other family stories.

Some families have black sheep.  We called Letsie our black ewe.  She over-ate as a child and as a teen-ager, and she was distinctly overweight when she reached adulthood.  For almost ten years she drank, and ate, and grew heavier, and had sex with every half-good-looking guy who would take her.  She had a reputation for giving generous gifts to sex partners.  Many of the guys she played with were in it for the money.

By the age of 29, she was a drunken wreck.  She had medical problems caused by her life style.  Her shares of the family company had been given away as gifts or sold on the open market, and she was broke.  She came staggering back to the family mansion and she begged us to take her in. Her grandfather made a severe but realistic judgment: she was enslaved by food, and booze, and sex.    Neither he nor anybody else in the family would give her any support whatever until she admitted her status as a slave.  He marched her downtown to the courthouse.  Her parents, and brother, and sisters went along as witnesses when she locked a slave collar around her own neck.  The next stop was a tattoo parlor where her left bicep was permanently marked with a slave chain.  (The left bicep is the usual place for a slave tattoo in Erionalle.)

She was entrusted to the care of Dr. Harl, who had married into the family.  He was a medical doctor, completely uninterested in the family minerals and metals business.  He had a practice among the families of the village of Dobbse, with an office and a clinic in the southwest wing of the family mansion.  Letsie was installed in the basement of that wing in a room that was progressively converted into a cell.  The basement there is entirely underground.  Her only window looked into a window well.  That window, and the door of the room, soon had bars.

Dr. Harl made Letsie quit booze and sex cold turkey.  With her medical problems, she would have been a danger to anybody who had sex with her anyway.  He had a back brace and a lower-face half-mask made for her.  She wore one or both of these whenever she was outside her cell. The back brace had broad waist and shoulder straps, pressure pads for her back, a broad posture collar, a solid pin that reached below hip level when she stood, and an aluminum dorsal fin.  Additional straps could secure her wrists and her elbows to the dorsal fin.  With the brace on, Letsie could not sit comfortably on anything that had an ordinary backrest.  Her special chairs had a hole for the pin, and they were backless except for a slotted clip that fitted the edge of the fin.  They had latches which engaged the fin and pin solidly when she sat down, so that they converted her back brace into a well-supported back rest.  But she couldn't stand up again until somebody released her.

I was ten years old at the time.  I was often asked to be her release person.  You can imagine how she felt the first time she had to ask a ten-year-old boy to allow her to stand.

The half-mask looked like a gag, but it wasn't.  Several layers of cloth and metal mesh covered her mouth, but there was nothing poking into her mouth.  She could speak clearly, even if she was somewhat muffled.  The purpose of the half-mask was to prevent anybody from giving her unauthorized food, or any alcoholic beverages at all.  So Letsie was unable to escape from her rigorous diet.

Slowly, steadily, she lost weight.  Slowly, steadily, month by month, the straps on her back brace were tightened and the pressure pads were adjusted.  Her spine had developed a severe curve when she was overweight, and it had to be gradually straightened.  After a year or two, she had lost dozens of kilos and had an excellent posture.

Dr. Harl backed off only a little bit on the discipline.  He still keeps a close check on Letsie's weight and posture.  Whenever she gains a kilo or two, the half-mask goes back on.

Her muscles have adjusted, and her body now needs the support of the back brace.  She develops backaches whenever she goes without it for more than a day or so.  The brace has became a permanent part of her wardrobe.  After months of almost-continuous arm confinement, she has become actually more comfortable with her wrists and elbows strapped snugly to the brace.  Her arms still remain anchored behind her now unless she is actually doing something with her hands.  She depends on family members to secure and release her as needed.

Of course Letsie's "pony cart" does not involve any equine ponies at all, even though that is what we have always called it.  It had been made as a tool to give Letsie some exercise, and as a toy for the children of the family to ride.  Dr. Harl rode it only once, and he had a whip.  Children like me weren't allowed to use a proper whip on her, but we could cut a branch from the willow tree in the garden, and I suppose that that gave a mild sting.  Besides, we could always threaten to ask Dr. Harl to ride again.  Letsie worked hard for us in order to keep that from happening.

In more recent years, Letsie and her pony cart have become our package shuttle to the Dobbse railway station.  There are bells on her pony harness which jingle whenever she moves, so she is easier to spot when there is a crowd at the station.  When I arrived with my coffle of slaves, I loaded her cart with my sea chests, which arrived by railway express at the same time as I did.  I piled on the shopping bags from the stores in Desrilay.  Then I hooked the leading chain for my slave coffle to the back of the pony cart, and I led a procession of four slaves to the mansion, chatting with Letsie to catch up on the family gossip.  The mansion is only about a ten-minute walk from the train station.  It was a tough pull for Letsie, although fortunately the road is flat almost all the way.  Those sea chests are heavy.

* * *

Back in the day, my grandfather was the chief buyer for Triple-M, our family company.  He did that job as skipper of the family "yacht" - actually a converted fishing boat - which he sailed all around the islands of the Grand Duchy of Erionalle, stopping off in the various ports and negotiating with the owners of the small local fish-processing and sea-plant-processing factories.  Taken all together, these factories supplied a significant fraction of the material that was waste to them, and ore to Morton Marine Minerals.

Back in the day, my grandfather was a superb ladies' man.   He really did have a girl in every port, and he brought some of them back to the mansion.  My great-uncle told the story more than once about the time that one of Granddad's women refused to have anything more to do with him, because she had learned that he had two slaves at home in the mansion.  By the time Granddad finished talking with that woman, she had agreed to come to the mansion and be number three.  Don't ask me how he did it.  I've never understood it myself.

Triple-M prospered, and the dividends on Triple-M stock grew.  Granddad decided that as a fortieth-birthday present for himself, he could afford to have the northeast wing apartment finished to his specifications.  It had never been properly finished before; the land baron who built the mansion ran out of money.  Granddad's big project included pine and bamboo paneling for the walls of the family members' living quarters, with accents of oak, cherry, and maple.  It included new, matching furniture, with slave anchor points built in.  It included new kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures.  The northeast wing was quite a luxurious space when all of this work was done.  And as might be imagined, the project also included facilities designed for the keeping of slave girls.

Ironically enough, Granddad hardly got to use his new slave-confining arrangements.  The year he turned forty was also the year that he met Grandma. Back in the day, Grandma must have been quite a woman.  (For that matter, she still is.)  She was the daughter of a local farmer.  Granddad met her at a local fair, and he was immediately smitten.  She was about nineteen years younger than he was, slim, dark-haired, relatively short at 162 cm.  Some of Granddad's slave girls had bigger breasts, and many men would judge some of those slaves as having prettier faces.  But there was something about Grandma that attracted Granddad in a way that could not be denied.

Grandma was also attracted to Granddad, but she refused to have anything to do with a man who kept a harem of slave girls.  Granddad was so thoroughly smitten that he agreed to get rid of them all if she would marry him.  And he kept that promise.

For the next few trips on the family yacht, Grandma went with Granddad and met his girls-in-every-port.  She warned them all not to chase Granddad any longer, because she would find out sooner or later and she was in a position to make any of them very uncomfortable if she wished.  She gave them her name and the address of her parents' farm, so that they would know where to send letters if Granddad kept chasing them.  She warned Granddad about the consequences if she ever received any letters from former girlfriends.  Granddad quickly saw that any further girl-chasing would open him to blackmail, because the girl could threaten to write his new wife.  So he became a one-woman man.

But he didn't remain a one-female man for very long.  Grandma quickly became pregnant, with my Aunt Jolia.  By the time Jolia was two, she would meet him at the door of the apartment with an enthusiastic "Daddy's home!  Daddy's home!".  That made him happier than he had ever been before.  He knew that he would lose those greetings if Grandma ever divorced him, so he stayed faithful.  The slave quarters became junk storage rooms, and the slave-confining tracks became filled with dust and dirt.

I know many of these things because I was Granddad's favorite grandchild.  My parents lived in an apartment in the central block of the mansion.  I enjoyed visiting Granddad and talking with him.  I was curious about the slots that could be seen in the floors of Granddad's apartment here and there, where the rugs did not cover them.  Granddad explained as much as a small child could be expected to understand.  When I was seven years old, Granddad satisfied my curiosity by locking me in one of the slave quarters with the solid outer door closed and all of the lights out.  He kept me there for seven minutes in total blackness.  I agreed with him afterwards that it was a scary experience.

Granddad died when I was twenty.   The northeast wing apartment has three floors plus the basement, and Grandma didn't like the vertical life style, with its constant running up and down stairs.  She moved into a smaller space in the central block, all on one floor.  Granddad left the northeast-wing apartment to me, his favorite grandchild.

I had never used it.  It had had been closed since he died.  I didn't need it, because my Navy duties kept me away much of the time.  I stayed in my old bedroom in my parents' apartment when I was at home.

Now I needed Granddad's place.  I sent radiograms from the Star of Villton.  By the time we arrived, all of the bedding had been aired, and everything about the place including the slaveholding equipment had received a thorough cleaning.

My grandfather had done a good job of designing the slaveholding facilities.  Now at last somebody would get to use them.  I wonder if he knew that I would bring a group of slaves home when he picked me to inherit his apartment.

Chapter 9. Sushann

Our master had about a month of accumulated leave available from the Navy.  He used it to start his three women into their new lifestyles.  He did not want to make me jealous of Tarrahh, or vice versa, so he tried to treat us as equally as possible.  Of course for different women, "equally" does not mean "identically".

The Morton family mansion is quite a place.  It probably has as much room inside as ten ordinary houses.  The lawns on the front and sides are relatively narrow, but the grounds in back stretch all the way down to the creek, with lots of room for outbuildings and gardens. Most of the mansion is three stories tall, with shallow-pitched roofs.  The outside walls are made of patterned brick; light tan is the background color, while dark brown surrounds the windows and marks the corners.  The central block has corridors attached on both sides, and each corridor leads to two wings sprouting off at right angles from its end.  The northeast wing, where we would be living, was around to the right and in back.

Master led his procession of four slave girls around to his wing via an outside stone-paved walkway.  He unloaded all of the sea chests and packages from Letsie's pony cart, dismissed her, and took the rest of us inside.  The ground drops away at the back of the mansion, so the basement isn't underground on that side.  We entered our new home through a door from the garden right into the basement.

Master showed us my new room first.  It was  one of the slaves' quarters in the basement, rooms which had been re-modeled as part of his grandfather's big project.

Each of these quarters measured about two by three-and-a-half meters, with a bed along the back wall, a row of closets in one of the long side walls, and plumbing fixtures along much of the opposite side wall.  The plumbing included a toilet in the corner alongside the front wall, then a shower head on a hose, and a sink toward the back of that wall.  There were waterproof curtains available to hang around the plumbing area; these curtains could contain the splash from the shower and allow a bit of privacy from people outside the room when privacy is most wanted.   A slot in the floor ran through the middle of the entryway and over to the sink, where it branched to the toilet and the bed.  The entryway could be closed by a gate which folded off to one side, or by a very solid door at least ten centimeters thick.  The floor was mostly concrete, with several throw rugs; it slanted gently toward a drain in the floor under the shower head.

The basement on this side has large windows which look out on the garden.  As long as the solid door wasn't closed, I would be able to look out my doorway and enjoy the pretty garden view, even when the folding gate to my quarters was closed and locked.

He asked  "So what do you think of it?"

I answered "It seems to be a reasonably comfortable space, for one person.  You won't be staying here with me, will you?"

He grinned, and said "No.  Most of my, uh, special relations with you will be upstairs in my room on the second floor.   These slave quarters are usually comfortable places to stay, even if they are somewhat cramped.  I've been squeezed into tighter living quarters more than once at sea.

"But they can be uncomfortable, if I want them to be.  A slave who misbehaves could face a variety of punishments.  The slave quarters are well equipped for that.  I had better demonstrate."  He went over to the wall with all the closets, and he unlocked one of them.  It had shelves full of all types of slave restraints.  He picked out two leather cuffs, a spreader bar, and a large crank.  He plugged the crank into a hole in that wall and began to spin it.  A chain with a snap-hook at the end came down from the middle of the ceiling.

He said "Come over here", and I came.  He locked the spreader bar onto my ankles, holding them about 75 centimeters apart.  He removed the handcuffs which had held my wrists behind my back, and he replaced them with the leather cuffs and attached those to the snap hook in front.  Then he went back to the wall and spun that crank slowly in the opposite direction.

When he had me stretched up with my hands over my head and my heels about two centimeters off the floor, he folded up the curtains, so that I would have no privacy anywhere in the cell even if I weren't closely confined.  He took Tarrahh and Natilya out of the room and closed the heavy outer door.  I heard the lock click.  I couldn't see anything, because the room had no light at all.  I couldn't see my own elbows, although I knew that they were only a few centimeters from my eyes.  I couldn't hear anything, because that heavy outer door was also essentially soundproof.  The only sensory inputs to my brain were from the tension on my arms and my legs.

OK, Master, I thought.  You have made your point.  This room can be very uncomfortable.  You don't have to leave me here very long to convince me.  You can let me down now. 

Nothing happened.  I stood on tiptoes to take the strain off of my arms.  That just transferred the strain to my feet.   I couldn't keep that up forever. Still more blackness and silence.  I began to wonder if Master felt he needed to leave me there overnight to make his point.  I couldn't think of any reasons why he might be mad enough at me to do that.  Would he be that nasty?  I really didn't know him very well yet.

Still no changes.  I thought, Please Master.  I will beg for my release from this bondage, if you will let me.  I will apologize for any faults that you have found in what I have done.  Please Master, Don't leave me here overnight.  I will be a good slave. 

The blackness and tension continued.  Master, you have always treated me kindly.  I beg you, don't be mean now.  I haven't quite panicked, yet, but I'm working on it.  I will fight panic . . . . I will fight panic . . . . I will fight panic . . . .

The lock in the heavy door clicked.  The door opened just wide enough to let Master look in.  I pushed myself around with my toes to face him.  I must have had a rather pain-filled expression on my face.  Before I could start begging, he said "I'm sorry, Sushann.  I didn't mean to leave you in here that long.  I was going to come back as soon as I put Tarrahh in her basement slave quarters and anchored Natilya to a ring in the kitchen.  But the fresh food delivery man came, and I had to reject his bananas because they were overripe, and we got into quite a discussion on how much I would have to pay for the rest of the food, and in short I've been delayed."

He pushed the door the rest of the way open and turned on the light switch which was just outside.  Light flooded in.  Master spun the wall crank back the other way and took the tension off me.  Then he came to me and removed the leather cuffs and the spreader bar.  He re-installed the curtains.

I was very relieved.  My Master was still a kind and thoughtful master.  He had even given me a few moments of dimness with the door only partly open so that my eyes had a chance to adapt to the light.

And then things got even better.  Master said "Come, sit on the bed, I have some things I need to teach you now."  When I followed that order, Master handed me one of the combination padlocks that were part of our recent purchases in Desrilay.  He took another of those padlocks himself.  He said "Hold the lock in front of you.  Now start dialing, right eight clicks."  I quickly realized that the combination of this lock was not dialed by setting numbers around the knob to a mark.  It was dialed by counting the clicks as that knob was turned.

Master continued "Now left three clicks.  Right seven clicks.  Left five clicks.  Pull on the loop."  He followed his own orders with the lock he was holding.  Both locks popped open.  "It's really easy to remember.  It's like the decimal fraction for eight and three-eighths, eight-three-seven-five.  I bought five locks today, and they all use the same combination.  And now you know it too."

He went over to the shelves of slave supplies and picked out a three-meter chain, and a one-meter chain with a clip at one end, and a very pretty stainless-steel cuff with gold-plated trim.  The cuff was about 5 centimeters wide.  He used one of the new combination padlocks to secure the cuff around my left ankle; the same padlock also attached the longer chain to the cuff.

He unlocked a storage compartment below my built-in bed.  He reached in and found a metal gadget with a pin sticking out between four wheels.  He slid the end of the pin into the end of the floor slot, which was inside that storage compartment.  He pulled the gadget out, and he re-locked the compartment.

He said "This is a slave-track skate.  The end of the pin has a knob that won't fit upwards through the slot, so the skate stays on the track."  And as he padlocked my ankle chain to the skate, he added "You are now confined within three meters of the trackwork.  There are tracks up as far as the third floor of this wing, and there is even a track through the garden and out to the stables in back.  So you can go lots of places, but you can't get away.

"Now, do you remember the three general orders I gave you that first night on the ship?"

I did, and I promptly quoted, "One, don't release myself without orders from you.  Two, I am ordered to release myself if you accidentally hurt me.  Three, I am ordered to release myself if the ship is sinking."

He replied "Or if there is any other similiar emergency, such as this house burning down.  Now I will add General Order number Four:  You will not tell anyone that you know the combination to your padlocks; not even your sister or your stepmother.  That will be our little secret.  There are several reasons for this.

"For one thing, we have some free servants on salary on the mansion staff who would practially go on strike if mere slave girls aren't really kept confined.  Those servants include the chief cook and the chief groom for the stables.  They are important enough that we have to keep them happy.

"Besides, my grandmother is still going strong as the grande dame of the mansion.  She is a bit old-fashioned in her thinking .  She would probably insist that I keep my slave girls locked in chains even if she didn't have to worry about the opinions of the chief cook and the chief groom.

"And finally of course there is my sense of military security.  In the Navy, if you don't need to know a secret, you aren't told.  Nobody else needs to know this secret.

"Now, you want me to trust you.  Can I trust you to follow these orders?"

I answered "Yes, master, you can.  Thank you very much for your trust.  I promise that I will never betray it."  And since then, from that day to this, I never have.

* * *

My Master stood up. "I'd better go release Tarrahh; I left her stretched standing in total darkness too.  Her room is just like this one.  Do you want to come along?"

He handed me the one-meter chain with the clip.  "You can use this as a leash for the skate as it follows you around, or you can use it as a belt and clip the skate chain to your waist to make the skate follow you more closely.  If instead you let your track skate trail the full length of the ankle chain behind you as you walk, the skate is likely to hang up at the corners."  I took his advice, using the one meter chain as a belt.  I still had to walk very square corners when I passed the sink leaving my quarters, and again when I made the turn toward Tarrahh's room, in order to pull the skate all the way to the corners in the trackwork.

When Master had announced my demonstration punishment, Tarrahh had watched me get chained in the middle of my room.  It seemed only right that I would be able to watch her being unchained.  But as it turned out, I didn't.

I got as far as her door.  Master opened it and looked in, just as he had done for me.  But Tarrahh was moaning in a way that I hadn't.

Master pulled the door the rest of the way open, and I caught a whiff of the odor in the room air.  That was the final proof, as far as I was concerned.  The room smelled of aroused womanhood.  Chaining and stretching Tarrahh, and leaving her in total darkness, had been a major erotic turn-on.

Perhaps some girls would enjoy sexy games with their sisters.  I am not one of them.  I am willing to talk with Tarrahh about sex, and I have often been naked with her ever since we started sharing a bathtub when she was four years old and I was two.  But the thought of sex with my own sister just makes me want to say "Oh, yuck!"

I was too embarrassed to want to go into Tarrahh's room.  I said "Please, Master, I'll wait out here."  Master went in.  I leaned against the wall, looking at nothing in particular, and I listened.  I heard slapping noises that could have come from bare hands on flesh, or perhaps from a whip or paddle.  Tarrahh's moans came faster and faster until they merged into a sustained wail, and then they died away.  Water splashed in the sink as somebody cleaned something.  There were some thumps as of closet doors opening and closing, some conversation that I couldn't understand, and some jingles of chain links that were almost too quiet to hear.  Then Tarrahh came out of the room with a very satisfied expression on her face, followed by Master and by a track skate that was chained to her ankle.  The padlocks on her skate chain were the key-lock type that Master had bought at the slave shop on the day that he bought us.  Nobody but our Master had a key.

In the meantime, Natilya must have been busy in the kitchen.  At just about that moment, she shouted "Supper!" down the basement stairs.   The slave-track slot ran up the wall at the edge of those stairs.  Tarrahh and I had our first lesson in getting up a staircase while shackled to our track skates.

Chapter 10. Lieutenant Morton

I looked back at our journey on the Star of Villton as a sort of honeymoon, an erotic holiday that could not be sustained indefinitely.  In particular, I had neither the time nor the sexual energy to keep on having several climaxes with one woman in the afternoon and another at night, every afternoon and every night without end.  So I established a rotation schedule.  Sushann got Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Tarrahh got Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  Sundays were for cuddling with both of them, one on either side, with no actual sex or orgasms.

All of Sunday was a day of rest, and Sunday afternoons were for feedback.  I put each of my slaves in their own quarters, and I asked each of them individually how they felt about the way I had treated them the week before.  I adjusted their confinement based on what they told me then.  Tarrahh always wanted to be treated just a bit more harshly than Sushann.  I soon shortened Tarrahh's track-skate chain to about two meters.

The week-night evenings started out about the same regardless of which woman would be bedded that night.  At about suppertime, I secured my bedroom partner for that night in short-chain ankle cuffs, and also handcuffs behind her back.  I marched her to the supper table in the dining room on the ground floor.  I installed her on a slave hassock.  She was confined kneeling with her head just above table-top level, unable to get off of the hassock due to the straps that were buckled across her thighs and across each of her ankles.

My other women, including Natilya, prepared and served the meal.  I fed my intended bedroom partner by hand.  Everybody else sat down around the table, and we ate our food and discussed the day's events and other similar mundane topics.

Then I took the bedroom slave that wasn't sleeping with me down to her own quarters and double-locked her in, by closing Sushann's folding doorway gate or by closing the heavy main door of Tarrahh's quarters; also by setting a remote-controlled track blocking pin in place at the center of the slave quarters to prevent a track skate from rolling past that point toward the door.  This girl slept alone in her own single bed at the back of her quarters.  Sushann thanked me for using the gate instead of the door and for leaving her chain longer, so that she could enjoy the garden view by looking through the bars of her gate and the basement windows  Tarrahh preferred closer confinement.  I left a dim light burning in her room, because she would have been in total blackness otherwise.

Natilya slept in an older slave cell, upstairs just off the kitchen.  It was part of the original design of the mansion, not part of my Granddad's remodeling.  After supper her ankle shackles were attached to an anchorpoint near her bed by a chain that was long enough to reach all of the kitchen.  She had the job of washing the pots, pans, dishes, and silverware used for supper and then putting everything away.

I released that night's bedroom partner from the hassock and I marched her up the stairs to my own bedroom, which was on the second floor.  My bedroom was dominated by a custom-made extra-king-size bed with cast-aluminum headboard and footboard, tall posts at all four corners, a power winch that could be used to reel in ropes or chains, and lots of attachment points.  It was another inheritance from my Granddad.

As you might expect, I had to treat my girls differently in bed in order to really keep them happy.  For example, I used spread-eagle rigs on both of them as one of my available options.  Sushann was put in a slack spread-eagle, with more than enough room to squirm when I was tickling her.  Tarrahh's spread-eagle included four-kilogram weights attached to each ankle, hanging off the end of the bed over pulleys to keep her under tension.  Tarrahh could still writhe in an orgasm, or flex her arms and legs to keep from getting muscle cramps during the night, but the weights were always there ready to pull her out and stretch her completely once again.

Many other bondage arrangements were only used on one of my women.  Some examples:

I had a set of leather modified-hogtie straps that I used only on Tarrahh.  These straps secured her ankles at right angles to each other, rigidly, so that she could not bring her knees together.  Her arms were folded wrist-to-elbow behind her back.  Her ankles were connected to a chain that ran up to the top frame, six feet over the mattress, instead of having a conventional hogtie strap to her wrists.  I lay down on my back and pulled her on top of me, and I adjusted the length of the chain to the top frame to maintain tension on her ankles.  Soon I was deep inside her, and her skin wasn't touching anything except me and her confining straps.   I had enough free space to swing a paddle, or a whip, or a spanking hand over her bottom or her thighs.  We lasted as much as an hour like that, moving very little except for the occasional spanking strokes, in no hurry to push onward to orgasm and end the lovely total intimacy.  She spent much of that time in a slave subspace completely out of normal mental function.

Then there was the variant on a St. Andrews cross, for Tarrahh. I called it a St. Andrews asterisk, because it had an extra shorter cross bar parallel to the floor across the joining point of the X-bars.  The first time Tarrahh saw it, the ends of the short cross bar were clipped to the wall opposite the foot of my bed.  I stripped her naked, and I strapped her to the longer X-bars at wrists, and elbows, and shoulders, also above and below her breasts, and at waist, and thighs, and knees, and ankles.  I put a strap across her forehead and connected that strap to the X-bars on either side.  I blindfolded her.  Then I moved some stuff; she couldn't tell exactly what I did because of the blindfold.  I unclipped the cross bar from the wall and I tipped the whole thing forward.

Tarrahh screamed for a moment.  She was absolutely helpless and could not protect herself from falling and bashing herself head-first on the floor.  However, before she landed, the ends of the short cross bar fell into V-notches on a little cart that I had wheeled into position in front of her.  The cross continued to tip, lifting her feet off the floor.  I steadied it when she was horizontal.  Then I pushed the cart over to the bed, connected a hoist chain from the middle of the bed to the center of the cross, and I started the lift motor.

A few quick adjustments later, Tarrahh was suspended in a face-down flying spread eagle over the bed.  I positioned myself on the bed with my crotch below her mouth.  Later I shifted my crotch to below her love lips.  In both positions, one quick push on Tarrahh was enough to set her swaying back and forth.  By way of foreplay, I could whip, or spank, or caress, or kiss, or suck, or even tickle, on any part of her body however I wished.  Her breasts were especially good targets because of the way they were hanging down toward me.

The forehead-level strap supported Tarrahh's head, so that she could hang from this cross for hours without getting a sore neck.  If the room was warm enough, she could even fall asleep when the passion was over despite being strapped almost totally immobile.

In contrast, Sushann's rigs allowed much more wriggle room.  The simplest was a diagonal stretch.  I used her spread-eagle straps, but I left her right arm and her left leg loose.  She could use her arm to try to fend off my tickling, but of course she was never very successful at that.  Her left leg wrapped around my legs to pull me in closer when I was inside her.

I remembered that she liked to have her wrists handcuffed around a chain across the top of the bed, the way I had rigged her on our first night together on the Star of Villton.  I liked that arrangement too, and I re-used it fairly often.

Sushann also had a head harness with a blindfold and an attaching loop on the top.  I generally used that harness by itself, with no restraints on Sushann's arms and legs.  Even if she fell out of bed while attached by the top loop, the stresses were spread onto all of the straps so that she could not choke herself or break her neck.  I could tickle at will, because she could not see where my fingers were aiming next.  She could wrap her arms and legs completely around me, turning me on differently from the way I felt when I took Tarrahh while Tarrahh was strapped into total helplessness.

There were also riggings for shorter-term confinement.  For example, I could put a slave girl on her back and secure wrists to the bedposts at the top corners of the mattress, and her ankles to the same posts, but about one meter higher.  This confined the girl bent upwards, with her butt in the air asking for intense attention.  Sushann and Tarrahh both liked that one for up to an hour, but it would be very uncomfortable for much longer than that.

* * *

My girls' lives were not all fun and games.  I was expected to repay the hours the mansion staff had put into cleaning the northeast wing by making my slave girls available for general assignments. The usual general assignment involved cleaning the semi-public areas of the mansion, the ones not occupied by specific members of the family.  There were lots of things to clean.  Doing all the mansion windows would be a full-time job by itself.

The slave trackwork ran only through the northeast wing of the mansion, and over to the mansion library on the third floor, and out to the stables.  I had to put my girls into some other sort of rig for working in other areas.  I linked Sushann and Tarrahh by about three meters of chain between metal waist bands.  Tarrahh wore ankle shackles, separated by only 40 centimeters of chain.  I decided that Sushann needed no other confinement; she couldn't run away, because she couldn't move any faster than her ankle-shackled sister.  Sushann therefore became the ladder climber of the team, scrubbing the top panes of the windows and dusting the chandeliers.

Natilya wore ankle shackles connected by a half-meter of chain, and she worked separately from her daughters.  She was often called to prepare and serve food in the main kitchen and dining hall, where the extended family gathers for at least one meal each weekend.  That hall is also rented by outside groups several times each month.

Slave discipline was and is another important requirement, also not fun and games.  The appropriate techniques weren't obvious.  I had learned that hours of close confinement might be erotic for Tarrahh instead of being perceived as punishment.  Sushann would see the same close confinement as horrible and unjustified torture.  The two girls had equally diverse reactions to being whipped.

So Tarrahh wore a special head harness when she needed to be punished for minor offences.  The harness held light and delicate spherical bells at both of her ears, and a somewhat bigger bell at the back of her skull.  Tarrahh hated being unable to move without causing a tinkling sound at her ears and a jangling sound against her skull.  Twenty-four hours of that treatment was more than sufficient to keep her in line.

Punishing Sushann was much simpler.  I just replaced her combination padlocks with keyed padlocks for about a day.  She wasn't really any more confined by the key locks than she was by the combination locks and my orders not to undo them, but I could tell that the key locks bothered her.  She fretted.  And afterwards, she never repeated whatever minor offence she had done to earn a punishment in the first place.

Chapter 11. Sushann

We had an interesting break from routine about three weeks after we began our new lives with Master.  One afternoon after our regular assignments were done, he locked Tarrahh and me into our basement slave quarters and ordered us to take showers, do our hair, and stay naked.  He also ordered me to do my lips with an extra-strong color of lipstick.  He gave no explanations for why these orders were given.

Half an hour later, when he arrived to let me back out, he already had Tarrahh on a leash, wearing her knee-length cloak, and also a slave hood with holes for her ears but not for her eyes.  I could tell from the way she held her arms that her hands were cuffed together behind her back under that cloak.  She wasn't wearing the ankle shackle for her slave-track skate.

Master rigged me the same way, except that I didn't wear a hood.  Then he coffled us together by our collars.  He took Tarrahh by one arm, and he guided us up two stories, over to the central block of the mansion, and down a corridor.

That corridor was a dead end.  It had several doors down one side, which appeared to be access doors for personal apartments that might be occupied by family members, or perhaps by servants.  The other side of the corridor had recesses that looked almost like doorways, except that they had sills about ten centimeters high, and walls instead of doors at the back.  These recesses appeared to be places for displaying slaves.   Their back walls were studded with metal staples that were clearly intended to anchor leather straps.  Some of the staples held straps already.  But why would anybody want to display slaves in such a lightly-travelled corridor?

I was obviously about to find out the answer to that question.  Master unclipped the coffle chain from my collar and attached it (and Tarrahh) to a convenient hook on the wall.  He took my cloak off, leaving me naked.  He said "Get into the recess, Sushann, facing out.  Put your heels on those two little platforms at the bottom."  The little platforms were about 60 centimeters apart.  When I followed these orders, he strapped my ankles to the wall.  He removed a longer strap from the staples which held it, re-threaded it into a different set of staples higher on the wall, and buckled it loosely around my waist.  Apparently I was taller than the slave that had previously occupied this recess.  Master adjusted a few more straps, unclipped my handcuffs, and secured my wrists to the wall at about shoulder height.  My arms formed V-shapes on both sides of my body.  I couldn't even try to cover my nakedness.

I wasn't completely naked for very long.  Master opened a drawer built into the wall and took out a long strip of thin, gauzy, transparent fabric, maybe 40 centimeters wide.  He threaded this strip behind my stomach, and then brought one end up from my right side across my chest, over my left shoulder, and across behind my back, to hang loosely downward from the V of my right arm.  He brought the other end from my left side down across my hips and then behind my thighs to hang loosely down from above my left knee.  He carefully arranged this gauze to fold and drape in three layers across my breasts and my crotch, appearing to hang that way by accident.  And then he pulled my waist strap tight and buckled additional straps at my shoulders and my knees.  The strip of gauzy fabric was trapped securely between me and the wall behind me, even though it looked as if it were about to fall off.

Master said "Sushann, you will smile, and you will say nothing at all.  You are allowed to wink, and wave your fingers, and otherwise reply non-verbally, but you will say nothing at all."

I was still confused.  Who would I be replying to?  But I dutifully answered "Yes, Master." And then Master tripped latches on both sides of the recess and spun me around.  I had been strapped to a panel which pivoted around its center.  When the side latches engaged again, I was on the opposite side of the wall. I was above the buffet tables in the main dining room of the mansion, which is huge.  The pivoting panel isn't recessed on that side, so my back was flush with the wall.

Fortunately I was out of reach of everybody.  That dining room has a ceiling two stories above its floor.  The pivoting panel is on the upper of those two stories.  On the dining-room side, my feet were at least three and a half meters above floor level.  I have heard people wishing to be a fly on the wall.  I was a girl on the wall.

The room was beginning to fill with nicely-dressed people.  Many of them were wearing blue honors sashes of the style awarded by the Grand Duke.  There were at least fifty place settings on the tables.  Some sort of meeting was apparently going to be held.

The first person to notice me up there on the wall immediately pointed, and said "Oh, look, the wall decorations will be live for this meeting."  The eyes of several other people followed the cue of his pointing finger and looked me over critically.  I heard several comments, like "Hmmm, a pretty one" and

"I like the way the ends of that drapery flutter in the gentlest air currents."  I followed my orders; I smiled, and I said nothing.

Latches clicked over to my left.  Another panel pivoted around, with Tarrahh attached, and she joined me on display.  She was still wearing her hood, but otherwise was bound and wrapped the same as I was.  I wondered if she could figure out where she was, just by listening.  The hood blindfolded her, so she had no visual clues.

To my surprise, she wasn't wearing her slave collar.  I was a bit concerned at that.  Was she for sale?  But on second glance, her hood was locked on with one of the padlocks to which only Master had the keys.  Also, nobody on the floor below was making any comments or guesses about buying her, or about probable sale prices.  I concluded that a sale was unlikely.

More latches clicked over to my right.  A third panel pivoted around, with another hooded girl attached.  I wondered for a moment if it was Natilya, but I quickly realized that it wasn't.  The hooded girl was too tall, and her figure was that of a younger woman.  I confirmed my conclusion by looking down.  Natilya soon came into view moving food from the kitchen to the serving tables.  She was wearing a waitress dress, which had a skirt a bit longer than her usual slave tunic.  She was restrained by her usual work-time leg irons with the half-meter chain.

The next hour was unlike anything that I had ever experienced before.  The people below enjoyed a good meal.  The girls on the wall had nothing to do but stand there on our little foot platforms.   We could wiggle our toes if we wished, because the foot platforms were very shallow and actually supported only our heels.  That was about our limit of movement; we couldn't dance and be sexy.   But the men on the floor below kept looking at us anyway.  The ones who came with their wives or girlfriends would sneak peeks.  Some of the ones who came alone tended to stare.  I stared back and kept on smiling.

After the meal, a meeting was called to order, and I learned that this was the monthly Chamber of Commerce dinner.  There was a brief business meeting, and then Master took the podium and gave an interesting talk on his recent tour of duty as a naval attaché in the Guided Republic.  I hadn't realized how well he understood the Republic's politics and social life.  I learned some things myself.

Coffee was served when Master's talk had ended.  Afterward as the meeting broke up, people were in no hurry to leave.  More people looked up at us, studying us as if we were works of art.  The comments that intrigued me the most came from one young man who pointed at Tarrahh and stated quite positively "That one is Mannaea.  I'm sure of it.  I would know that body anywhere."  I was under orders not to say anything, so I just kept smiling. Several people wanted to discuss the Guided Republic's politics with Master, so he had to stay down on the floor until the last attendee had left the meeting.  The last few people were still standing around on the dining room floor when the latches to my right clicked again, and the third display girl pivoted back out of the dining hall.  As her panel pivoted, I was able to see the opposite side.  It was an Old-Master-style painting, of Andromeda in Chains.  The woman in the painting was even more naked than the real live girl who had taken her place for one night.

Eventually the last of the meeting attendees left.  Soon afterwards Natilya, Tarrahh, and I were all back in our own little dining room in the northeast wing, eating leftovers that Natilya had brought from the main kitchen.  It was Friday night, so it was my turn to be secured to the slave hassock, and Master fed me.  Between bites, I asked "Master, who is Mannaea?"

Master answered "She is a cousin of mine.  How did you happen to hear her name?"

"One of the men at the meeting pointed up at Tarrahh and positively identified her as Mannaea.  He was completely certain."

Master laughed.  He said "I'll have to tell Mannaea that she was there."  But then he turned more serious.

He continued "This is a good lead-in for things I meant to tell you now anyway.

"The display panels that you were mounted on were installed by the land baron who originally built this mansion.  He put slave girls on them, during the few years that he had this place before he went broke.  According to Morton family tradition, those slave girls were always naked.  They never wore hoods or any covering for any other parts of their bodies.

"Then Great-Grandfather bought the place, and he was more conservative.  He didn't want nude women in his dining hall.  The panels went unused for years.

"Eventually Grandfather grew up and wanted to exhibit his pretty slaves.  He was the one who came up with the strips of gauzy fabric.  We still use the same style today.  He also invented the style of draping that we use.  I don't know if you were aware of this, but three layers of that gauze are reasonably opaque, even though one layer is transparent.  If you drape the fabric properly, a girl's nipples and crotch are at least as well hidden as they would be by a bikini bathing suit.  A properly draped girl was, and is, extremely sexy but not obscene.  That is how I draped both of you.

"Great-Grandfather was willing to accept that.  So Grandfather was allowed to exhibit his slave girls.

"There is more than one story on how the first free woman came to be exhibited.  One version says that one of the Morton women lost a bet.  Another has it that one of the women wanted to show some guy just what a pretty wife he could have, if he proposed.  The third version is that the first free woman was Grandmother, and she agreed to be exhibited as part of the deal when she negotiated with Grandfather to give up his slave girls and his girls-in-every-port and marry her.  Or perhaps it was just that a Morton family teenager was feeling very mischievous.

"In any case, free women are never exhibited with their faces bare.  They are always hooded, or at least masked.  Who gets exhibited?  That is a secret of the Morton family women.  I don't know who was on the third panel tonight.  She could have been a Morton, or she could have been the daughter of one of our servants.

"And as you are already aware, slave girls like you, Tarrahh, are now sometimes exhibited hooded. The third girl may also have been a slave.

"Neither Tarrahh nor the other hooded woman was collared tonight.  Collars aren't always worn by slaves on exhibit, and they may sometimes be worn by especially daring free women.  You can't tell a display girl's status by whether or not she wears a collar.

"Under the current circumstances, Mannaea's best move if she is asked where she was tonight is to smile, confirm nothing, and deny nothing.  She won't be believed if she denies being exhibited anyway.

"And all three of you are hereby ordered to follow the same policy.  If anybody asks you who was under a hood, you will confirm nothing, deny nothing, and smile.  If somebody insists, tell them that you are following your master's orders.

"And you aren't allowed to ask anyone any questions about when or whether they have been exhibited."

I have always been proud of following my Master's orders.  I don't suppose that I will ever know for sure who the third girl was that evening, the first time that I spent as a display girl in the Morton dining hall.

Chapter 12. Natilya

Ever since the day that I was arrested and hauled off to enslavement, I had felt that I was living my life in something like a large glass bottle.   The bottle shielded me from close involvement in what happened, as if it was all happening to somebody else.  I missed the close emotional contact with other people, especially my stepdaughters, but I did not want to risk breaking the glass.  It protected me from the horrible pain of losing Rolf, my husband.  So I did the work that I was told to do, and I waited and hoped that something would resolve the stresses which could hurt me.

My usual clothing was a slave's working tunic, sleeveless with a mid-thigh-length skirt, made from opaque fabric.  I also routinely wore ankle shackles linked by half a meter of chain.  The shackles were padded with leather and carefully chosen to fit me so well that they did not bruise my ankles, and I wore them 24/7 for days at a time.  This kind of tunic and these shackles did not feel very sexy, because I was wearing them mainly to cook food and wash dishes.

One evening near the end of my master's leave from Navy service, he watched as I finished putting the supper dishes away, and then he released me from my usual nighttime anchor-point chain.  He said "Slave Natilya, follow me."  He hadn't called me "Slave Natilya" before.  I wondered why he did so then, but I obeyed orders.  He led me up to an apartment on the third floor, just outside his regular area in the Morton mansion.

That apartment is a one-room efficiency, located in the middle of the northeast wing.  All of its walls are interior.  It has only a skylight for natural lighting.  The single room contains comfortable daytime furniture, and a food cooking/serving counter, and a generous-size bed with one side pushed up against the wall.

Master closed the door of the apartment and ordered me to "Strip!"  I hesitated, finding it hard to believe that he could act so completely differently from how he had always treated me before.  But he just said "You heard me.  I''ve seen it all before, so you don't have any secrets.  Do it!"

Master watched out of the corner of his eye, but he very politely did not stare whille I took my tunic off.   He had another stern order: "Onto the bed, on your back!"  And then he covered me from ankles to above my breasts gently with a sheet, as if he wanted to preserve my decency.  I was a bit bewildered by the mixture of hard orders and soft actions.

Master went around to the head of the bed and said "Hands over your head!"  He reached through two of the gaps between the bars of the headboard, grabbed my wrists, pulled them through the headboard, clamped both wrists in one of his hands, and applied handcuffs with his other hand.  He put a bolt through the center block of the variable-security handcuffs, and he tightened a nut on that bolt with a small wrench to make sure that I couldn't get loose.  He set the wrench on a small table by the foot of the bed, in plain sight, but there was no way that I could reach it. Master went to the foot of the bed and looked down at me.  He removed my work-time ankle shackles, and then covered my feet with the sheet again.  He grinned and said "We have a house guest tonight.  I want him to be well entertained.  You are, uh, assigned to be his nighttime entertainment.  You are to give him, uhm, a full slave service.  I expect that you will do this very enthusiastically.  I don't want to hear any complaints from this guest tomorrow morning."  I was thoroughly shocked.  I had never expected him to treat me like that.

His tone of voice wasn't quite serious.  Was his grin a hint that he might possibly be kidding?  He walked over to the door of the room.  At the door he turned, and his grin turned into a smile, and added "Oh, by the way, the guest's name is Rolf."  And then he left.

Rolf? Rolf?! My husband's name was Rolf. He was on the Schlahh when it was sunk. I had not heard any reports that he survived the sinking. He was under sentence of death in the Guided Republic. Could he possibly still be alive? Do miracles sometimes happen? The door opened, and the house guest walked into the room. My dreamed-of miracle had happened. I said "Hello, Rolf."

He stopped dead.  I gave him an uncertain smile.  It felt like he stood there for at least an hour, although it was probably no more than a minute according to the clock.  He came over to me and gently caressed my forehead.  I relaxed, and closed my eyes, and waited for his kiss. Instead I heard a pounding noise from the wall by the foot of the bed.  I opened my eyes again.  Rolf was facing the wall, leaning on it with his elbows, beating it with his fists.

I asked "Rolf?  What's wrong, Rolf?  Please, Rolf, tell me what is wrong! ROLF!!" He finally turned away from the wall, and toward me.  I have never seen a more agonized expression on the face of any man, before or since.

He said "What is wrong?  You can't see what is wrong?  I'll tell you what is wrong.  You are supposed to be my woman.  I am supposed to be there, to protect you.  Now somebody else has enslaved you, and tattooed you on your forehead, and chained you to a bed, and I wasn't there.  I couldn't protect you.  Do you have any idea just how inadequate that makes me feel?  Somebody else has been bedding you, and I can't blame you for it, 'cause you aren't being given any choice.  And now your body is being given away, and you still have no choice.  How many times has this happened before, Natilya?  How many other men have had the woman who is supposed to be mine?"

I sighed deeply and answered in a calm, soothing voice "Zero, Rolf.  Nobody has had me.  I have not shared a bed with a man, nor have I been taken in any other way, since the last night with you before the Schlahh sailed."

There was a moment of silence.  I could tell that he wanted to believe me, but that belief did not come easily.  Finally he asked "Somebody enslaved a woman as beautiful as you, and then never took you to his bed?  Why would anybody do that?"

I replied "He's got Tarrahh.  He's got Sushann.  He takes them on alternate nights.  They keep him plenty busy.  He's told me that it would feel like incest to take me too."

He was astonished.  "They are here too?"

"They are here too.  Our master clearly loves them both, and they love him.  He is doing his best to keep them both happy.  He is the closest thing to a son-in-law that you will ever have, now that they both wear tattoos and his slave collars.  You should be nice to him."

"So you have been enslaved, but you have never - really, never - been hurt."

"We were enslaved by a judge in the Guided Republic.  Master rescued us from the Beloved Heir's personal torture chamber, by buying us and taking us away.  And I haven't been hurt until right now.  You are hurting me, Rolf.  You are standing over there, and I am over here, and you won't come and touch me, and I can't go and touch you.  Please, Rolf, don't stand away from me like this."

He finally came over and kissed me hard on the lips.  Then he slowly removed the sheet that Master had covered me with, pulling it down to the foot of the bed little by little and kissing each part of my skin as he revealed it.  Of course he paid extra attention to my most sensitive areas.  He knows them well.

Rolf and I had never practiced bondage before.  Sushann, and especially Tarrahh, had been telling me how wonderful it was to be completely helpless at the disposal of a man who loves you.  I never really understood them until that moment.  An explosion in my soul finally broke that big glass bottle that I had been living in.

The next morning Rolf's head was pillowed on my tummy when I woke up.  That was the reverse of the way that things tended to work when I was a vanilla wife, not a slave, in the Guided Republic.  I had always pillowed my head on him.  I couldn't do that with my hands cuffed to the headboard.   Somehow or other in all our night of passion I never got around to telling him how to use the wrench to get the cuffs off.

I told Rolf that I liked having his head on my tummy.  Unfortunately the bed was too small for Rolf to be really comfortable that way.  He had to sleep bent at the waist, on his side in a sort of L-shape, or else leave his feet dangling off the bottom of the bed.  Besides, with my wrists cuffed, he missed having my arms around him when we made love.

So on later nights, we came up with some better ways to sleep together, or at least we think so.  We start by making love, with no restraints on.  I am not allowed to take my hands off his body, and I hug him tightly.  Then Rolf straps me across the top of the bed, with my wrists attached to one side rail and my ankles attached to the other one.  He lies down on his side in the center of the bed, oriented normally lengthwise.  He uses my tummy for a pillow.  The two of us together make a T.  Since he is on his side, much of his body weight is on his shoulder and he doesn't squash my ability to breathe.  I would have thought that the close confinement would make me stiff the next morning, but it doesn't.  I sleep very soundly that way.

But I am letting our story get out of order.  I will let my Master tell about what happened when Rolf and I finally got out of bed after that first night together again.

Chapter 13. Lieutenant Morton

After I installed Natilya on her bed I headed over to the central block of the mansion using the second-floor connecting corridor, and I went down the main staircase to the front entrance.  When I arrived, the only person there was a Navy petty officer.  I asked him if he knew anything about the Republic Navy officer who was supposed to be delivered to the mansion, and he told me that a slave girl with a metal fin on her back had guided that officer, and his Erionaller escort, "down that hall".

I realized that Letsie had taken Rolf across to my wing using the first-floor connecting corridor, and then up the side staircase.  We had gone around each other without either of us realizing it.  I had meant to brief Rolf about my ownership of his wife before he walked in on her.  He must have gotten one hell of a surprise when he found her on that bed.

I stayed in the front hall until Letsie and the escort officer returned.  I signed the paperwork to take responsibility for Rolf as a prisoner of war, and then I returned to the basement of my own wing of the mansion.   I was met by two very worried slave girls.  They were wearing their working tunics and the ankle shackles that linked them to the slave tracks.  In a tone of forced politeness, Tarrahh asked "Master, where is Natilya?"

Sushann explained "We were assigned to clean the bathroom in the stable building today.  We met the gardener's daughter Lorrie leaving the northeast wing just as we were returning here after we finished.  She told us that she had been cleaning a third-floor room to accommodate a visitor, and that she had heard one of us would be given to the visitor for the night.  And when we got here, Natilya was missing."

I nodded my head and answered "She's with your father, in that freshly-cleaned room.  He's the visitor."

There was a shocked pause.  Then they both said "What!! Really!?!" in perfect unison.

I said "I know that I can be a teaser, at times.  But I would not kid you about something as important as that."

They looked at each other, and they both broke out into the most radiant smiles I have ever seen.  They moved into each others' arms and danced around in a circle with their ankle chains jangling.  Then Tarrahh stopped dancing, turned to me with a more serious expression on her face, and she asked "Master, how long has he been in Erionalle?"

I answered "He was rescued by the Tinoreks, not the Yuviteks, so he was separated from the largest group of survivors and his name was on a different list.  I learned about him being here just this morning when I went in to Fleet Headquarters to check up on my next assignment.  I overheard a conversation about interviewing the engineering officer of the Schlahh.  I knew that that was your father.  So I confirmed that this officer was correctly identified, not some junior engineer or damage-control guy or something.  As soon as I knew that the engineer was named Rolf Trygg, I made arrangements for him to be brought here.  It took me much of the day, running from office to office.  That is the big reason why I only got back this evening."

Tarrahh reached out as far as she could and pulled me into a three-way hug. Her ankle chain was barely long enough for her to reach me, because it had gotten tangled up with Sushann's chain during their little dance. Both girls started dancing around in a circle again, moving the other way around so that their chains would untangle.  With their arms around me, I had to dance around too.

Sushann asked "When can we see him?"

I answered "Probably tomorrow, sometime.  There is a blocking pin on the track into the third-floor lounge outside their room.  You won't be able to reach their door to knock on it until I clear that pin.  Which I will not do until they have had an undisturbed night together."

I then let Sushann and Tarrahh each take a shower in her own quarters before supper.  When they came upstairs to my kitchen and dining room, I said "This isn't a night when either of you could be happy alone locked in your quarters.  Therefore, we're having a special event.  I know that it is Friday, but we are going to use Sunday-night rules."  Under those rules, neither of them was shackled helpless onto a slave hassock to be fed by me.  Instead they worked together to prepare a steak dinner, which we all fed ourselves.

When bedtime came, I lay in the middle of the bed with a slave girl on either side.  My girls held hands across the top of my body and pulled themselves together.  I was squeezed into a very affectionate girl-flesh sandwich.  It was a marvelous experience, even though I knew that there could be no sex under Sunday-night rules.  Love does not always have to be expressed through sex.

* * *

The next morning I had the girls prepare a cold Continental breakfast of rolls and bread, butter and jam, grapes and apple slices, orange juice and coffee.  We adjourned to the lounge outside Rolf and Natilya's room, and we ate our own meals, and we waited.  Rolf and Natilya finally came out at about 1:30 that afternoon.  He had his arm very protectively around her shoulder, and she looked up at him with radiant affection.

Tarrahh and Sushann naturally hurled themselves at their father as soon as he got within range of their slave-track chains.  Quite a few hugs were exchanged, and quite a few tears were shed.  Then the girls introduced him to me.

I said "Hello, sir."  He was after all a full commander, and I was only a lieutenant.

He said "Hello.  Thank you thank you thank you.  You saved my women when I couldn't be there for them.  I owe you an enormous debt of gratitude."

I replied "I'm very very happy to have done so.  They have done their best to fill my life with love.  I hope that you will be happy with the way in which I intend to rearrange their lives.  As a matter of fact, it's time to do that now.  Girls, kneel on the hassocks.  Commander Trygg, please stand behind Natilya."  I had arranged a row of three slave hassocks at one end of the room.

I continued "I bought cheap aluminum collars on the day I bought my women.  The collars were a quick temporary measure to be worn until I could get the women safely out of the Guided Republic and home to Erionalle.  I never meant to keep the women in those collars indefinitely. Yesterday afternoon I finally got around to buying permanent replacements.

"Natilya first.  I'm going to keep her for several reasons, some of them rather selfish, and one big one much less so.  As long as I own her, she has a secure legal status right here.  No idiot bureaucrat can order her to go back to the Republic and risk arrest by the Crimson Caps while she applies for immigrant status at the Erionaller embassy where I used to work.  Nobody can lust after her, and sue you over some imagined insult, and demand ownership of her as compensation.  Anybody who thinks about trying that with me will know that they would face the law firms retained by both the Morton family and the Morton Marine company, and we have very good lawyers.  So I had this collar engraved."

The collar was highly polished stainless steel, about 5 millimeters thick and one centimeter wide for the most part.  It was thicker and it widened out to about two centimeters in the front, which allowed for a more substantial built-in lock.  On the left front it was engraved "Natilya, Property of Wreford Morton".  On the right front it was engraved "Body for exclusive use of Rolf Trygg".

I showed this collar to Commander Trygg, and he nodded his approval.  Then I said "We should do this together.  So, Natilya, put your hands on top of your head.  Commander, please grip her wrists firmly."  And while she was held helpless in this manner, I locked the new collar onto Natilya's neck and removed her old padlocked aluminum collar.

I turned to the other two girls, ordered "Hands behind your back", and handcuffed them.  I told them that "All of the children that I hope to have will be born to my esdigie.  I am allowed to have only one esdigie at a time, so my esdigie will be whichever one of you is more pregnant.  That is why your names aren't on these collars.  You will probably be trading them back and forth."

These collars were highly polished stainless steel in the same basic design as Natilya's.  Both were engraved "Owned and loved by Wreford Morton"  on the left front.  On the right front, one of them was engraved "Personal body slave".  The other one had some gold trim, and gold fill in all of the lettering, and the right front was engraved "Esdigie".

I said "Tarrahh, neither of you is pregnant right now, and you are the older sister.  Would you rather be the esdigie or the body slave?"

She answered "Body slave, if it pleases you, master."  That was no surprise, considering how she had always reacted before.  I am sure that she is proud of being more submissive than her sister.  So I locked the body-slave collar onto her neck, and the esdigie collar onto Sushann, and I removed their aluminum collars.

Then we all enjoyed more of the food in that cold Continental breakfast that had been waiting ever since early morning.  And our new lives began.

Epilogue. Lieutenant Morton

My new assignment is exactly what I most wanted.  I am executive officer of Patrol Boat-124, which operates in the Erionalle Inland Sea between the two largest islands of the Grand Duchy.  We do police work among the fishing boats and the sea-plant-harvesting boats, and we do customs work for ocean vessels that are entering or leaving Erionalle.   Best of all, we are based only a short distance up the coast from Dobbse, so I can stay at home at the Morton mansion when I am not needed on the boat.

Rolf Trygg has been granted special-immigrant status based on the political-refugees provisions of Erionaller law and on his death sentence in the Guided Republic.  The Morton family has loaned him the money to open a boat-engine repair shop, and he is using his engineering skills to maintain fishing and harvesting boats.  He and Natilya still live in that third-floor efficiency apartment in the Morton mansion, and she still cooks and cleans for me and Tarrahh and Sushann.  He is saving up money to buy a place of his own.  I will probably give Natilya to him as a gift once he has become a full Erionalle citizen.

The brand-new Erionalle Navy battleship Settasiel has been placed in commission.   She is currently the most powerful warship in the eastern Great Ocean.  Her sister ship Ergalann will join her within the next year.  The Settasiel is much smaller than the  Schlahh was, but the  Schlahh was sunk by the even smaller Yuviteks , which is back in commission as a training battleship after repair of her battle damage.  Nobody is anxious to challenge the Grand Duke's Erionalle Navy.

The Bold and Resolute Leader of the Guided Republic has signed a treaty giving Erionalle merchant shipping an uncontested right to trade in the Eastern Archipelago.  The skipper of the Yuviteks has been awarded a medal; the action between his ship and the Schlahh is going into the history books as the War with One Battle.  The treaty also provides for the Republic to pay compensation for the injured and dead crewmembers of the Yuviteks.  If a war is necessary, that is certainly the kind of war to have and the way I would want it to end.

Tarrahh is my esdigie right now.  Sushann isn't pregnant, yet.

The End

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