Saturday, October 09, 2004


Day Seventeen

Fran brought us some breakfast - cold roasted ox, mainly, with some bread and freshly-churned butter, plus some rather week beer. The day was rather slow to start, generally; Fran took me to their practice field, and Memree came along, wearing her sweater over her slavegirl gear, and watched as we did some sparring using blunt swords. After lunch, we actually managed to get some sleep, back in the wagon...

I don't usually sleep in the afternoon, and when I do I never dream, as far as I can remember, but this time was the exception. I was hunting, with a long tribal spear, and it was night, but there were lights, and noise, and suddenly I knew that I was also being hunted. A flash of lightning showed me a figure in full armour, with a spear twice as long as mine. It was a woman, and as she turned away from the sudden glare it seemed for a moment that it was--

"--to get ready, sister", Fran's voice said loudly and cheerfully. It was almost dark now, and she put a lantern on one wall, and lit another which was already hanging in the wagon. I was lying back on the cushions, the place still as untidy as ever, with Memree's head in my lap, my hand in her hair, only gradually coming awake. This was not the way I usually behaved -- how had she even unlatched the door without me coming instantly alert and ready for trouble?

Fran was already dressed for the evening's entertainment, in her shiny metal breastplate, a pair of knee-high boots that also looked like metal, but were presumably specially-treated leather, and a matching belt, wide and tight with an ornate buckle at the front. There was no plate-mail kilt, now, instead a rather small pair of shiny black panties were on full display. She smiled slightly nervously as Memree and I took in the ensemble.

"Well, you look stunning", I told her appreciatively. "But what have you got for me?"

The clothing the Churmuk keep for guests, and I suppose for themselves too, must be one of their more valuable treasure hoards; I stripped off, and let Fran wrap me in a "T" shape of black leather, which made a wrap around my waist, laced at the back. The down-piece dangled at the front, until Fran pulled it back and through, up under the back of the wrap, and let the free end dangle a few inches down over it. As it moulded and settled, the final result was slightly more sexy than Fran's arrangement. Next came a pair of matching boots, of black leather so thin they were more like long stockings with soles on the feet, and so tight a fit that they stayed up perfectly. And of course there were matching gloves.

Thankfully, a tunic came next -- I don't mind flaunting my breasts, but I do like to keep my back covered from my neck to just above my waist, due to my old scars. This tunic was made of crisp white linen, and was just long enough to show an inch or so of skin above the leather wrap. As an aid to ventilation, the front was held together, or apart, by five fine six-inch chains, making it usefully tight at breast level, and nicely loose below.

"I take it that the feast area is well-heated", I commented, adjusting the tunic's arms, which ended at the elbows, covering a few inches of glove.

"How does it feel?"

"Almost indecently sexy, and I love it", I assured her, then turned to Memree, who had been watching carefully. "If we both look this good, let's not bother with my cute little accessory -- let's just hood her for the night, and head on out!"

Memree gave little snort. "As you wish", Fran said. "But it is too early to go yet -- so let's dress her up in the gear I've brought along, anyway..."

I stripped Memree to her collar, then took her and a bucket outside for a pee, while Fran unpacked and smoothed out what she had brought. This was white leather, and probably even more expensive than my outfit.

I sat back and watched, as Fran began work. She started with a delicate-looking chain around Memree's waist; it had no separate lock, one of the chain-links itself opened and closed if properly manipulated. Next came stocking-boots like mine, only white, and each of these was clipped to three suspender-chains to link it tautly to the belt-chain. Long white gloves, next, and fine chain bracelets at wrist and elbow, which Fran linked with tiny padlocks to the waist-chain (level with her elbows) and the outside suspender-chains (level with her wrists), so that Memree's arms were kept straight at her sides.

"Well", Fran said, "I could use a lot more chain on her, capture her breasts and so on, but I don't think I can top this for effect." She stood aside. "This one would look stunning, even in clothes."

I nodded my agreement, gazing at my helpless companion and feeling rather warm myself in sympathy. "We'd better take a gag, to use later", I said, getting to my feet.

Fran was getting a final item out of the pack she'd brought. "I agree", she said. "Some girls look silly in them, but somehow it only enhances your girl's desirability."

She held up the last piece of white leather; it was a hood, lacing up the back, with large, stylized eye-holes. "We'll just put this on her for our entrance", she said, putting it around Memree's head and beginning to tighten the laces. The effect was rather erotic, and very fascinating. The fine leather moulded itself to every contour; lines of thick stitching simulated arched eyebrows, and the lively, alert eyes revealed through the twin holes dominated the otherwise empty face. I suppose there were small nostril holes to breathe through, but they weren't visible.

I clipped a chain leash to Memree's collar, and we were ready. "She looks really splendid, doesn't she?" Fran adjusted the hood very slightly, and stroked its leather gently, lingeringly.

"Makes me wish I were a man", I replied. "Then there'd be no risk of me being dressed up like that."

"I'm not sure 'dressed' is quite the word, Mistress", came the comment from behind the white leather, rather muffled.

"True -- but nobody asked for your opinion, did they?" I patted her flank for emphasis. "Come on, then, my love - best foot forward!"

"Well", Fran said quietly, "at this moment I almost envy her."

The feast was held in the central pavilion, of course, with the ground smothered in carpets, rugs, and cushions of every possible colour. The only Churmuk in full uniform and with weapons flanked the entrance; the rest lounged about in breastplate and trousers, breastplate and panties, leotards with or without breastplates...there were even a couple of mannish shirts to be seen. There were no chairs, except a throne intricately carved from a white wood. The tribe's First Speaker sat there, grey-haired yet still handsome, wearing her breastplate over a long black dress. She was flanked by two strikingly beautiful almost naked slavegirls, each with her leash tied to an arm of the throne. They knelt, backs straight; the First Speaker was idly stroking the brunette's hair. In front of the throne was an open area, with only a large plain carpet on the ground. To its right was Natella, sitting on some cushions, in her breastplate and a rather small pair of leather panties, with a naked girl lying at her feet -- naked except for a studded leather collar, and matching leather cuffs joined by a short chain, that is.

We stood just inside the entrance, taking in the scene -- and letting the scene take us in, too. Slavegirls were hurrying about with pitchers of wine, platters of meat, and baskets of bread; they were generally naked, except for occasional straps of leather and lengths of chain. I noticed Natella, and nudged Fran.

"That 'slavegirl' with Natella... wasn't she from her squad this morning?" I kept my voice low, and left a confident smile on my face, breathing in the various perfumes. Whoever was selling bottled fragrances to this tribe was doing a roaring trade, unless it all came from a recently sacked caravan.

"Perhaps it's her night off", came from behind the thin layer of white leather, and I swear Memree's eyes sparkled mischievously in the lamplight.

Fran ignored us, waiting for every warrior to notice our arrival. Swiftly, talk faltered, and she took a deep breath, and announced "The Lady Charol, warrior and adventurer, and captor to her lovely and loving trophy-slave Memree!" She pulled the bow securing the lacing loose, tugged the hood's two sides apart, and pulled it away, to reveal my blonde's hair and face. We walked forward in the brief silence, which was soon broken by clapping, usually of one hand on the thigh. A number of warriors stood, as we passed, and shook my hand as they stated their names, none of which I can remember now. Fran got hugged in a sisterly way a few times, while Memree tended to get lightly stroked on her flank or behind. As an entrance, I've seldom experienced better.

We stopped in front of the throne. Fran knelt, and I followed her example, while helping Memree to retain her balance doing likewise.

"First Speaker", Fran said, "I present Charol, and her trophy-slave."

The woman gazed at us calmly, before allowing her face to soften into a slight smile. "We welcome thee, Charol, to the Churmuk", she said in a strong, clear voice. "Our wagons are thine."

"Thank you, m'sera", I replied. "Your people do us great honour."

We got to our feet, as the noises of conversation and catering returned to their previous levels. A harpist began to play. Fran led us to a well-cushioned space at the edge of the central open area, and we all three sat down. We'd hardly settled before a flurry of slavegirls surrounded us, with food and drink. Fran helped herself to a goblet, and drank deeply.

I let Memree sip some of my wine, holding the goblet to her lips, and spoke quietly. "Are any of the other slave-types just warriors dressed up, like Natella's little friend?"

"That's Jerri", she replied. "And no, I don't think so... though she looks so different like that."

"It could be the result of a private wager -- then again it could mean that Natella is planning mischief", I said. "She may not have liked me beating her in combat."

"That is possible, certainly", Fran replied, picking up her goblet again. "I must concede that she isn't the most forgiving, easy-going person I know."

I fed myself and Memree with chunks of spicy meat in rich gravy, and scraps of bread dipped in the juices, and just settled back to enjoy the evening; there was nothing else to be done.

Since we were at the edge of the open central space, we had a fine view of the entertainments, which grew wilder as the evening progressed. There was singing, juggling, knife-throwing, absolutely frenzied acrobatics and dancing, and by the time of full darkness outside, some prettty serious-seeming wrestling.

Once we'd finished eating, I gave Memree a final sip of wine, and then got out her ball-gag; on her best slavegirl behaviour, she eagerly took it into her mouth, and leaned forward to let me fasten it in place. The lights were lower, now, and after we'd watched a particularly uninhibited set of dancers, I found that Memree was not only lying across my lap and having her hair stroked by me -- she was lying across Fran as well, getting her rump stroked. Who was supposed to be in charge of whom? If one of us stopped, head or bottom would rise up to nudge the idle hand back into action.

The wrestling bouts each involved two naked Churmuk warriors, flesh gleaming with oil, with the First Speaker herself calling out the scoring from the throne. It was obviously skilful, and sexy in its way; I was impressed by the lack of emnity involved, except in the final bout, which was obviously a grudge match, with some serious hair-pulling, a knee-to-breast blow that made me cringe in sympathy, and a double strangle-hold that was only broken in the end by Natella's intervention.

"Those two meant it, didn't they, Fran?"

"The old romantic triangle", she told me. "Slenna's playing them both for suckers...aah, now what's Natella up to?"

Natella stood in the circle, waiting for conversation to die down. "My sisters, tonight our entertainment has been top-class, in honour of our First Speaker and our guest, m'sera Charol. Do you think it fair if we ask Charol to take part in tonight's climax?"

I looked at Fran, questioningly. She shrugged. It looked as if this was the pay-off to Natella's plotting, but what could we do about it?

"Charol is a mighty warrior", she went on, "and her slavegirl is beautiful, loyal, and I'm sure skilful. How better to celebrate than in a friendly bout of rope-and-tie, against myself and my own shameless nymph...?"

This suggestion was met with applause, cheers, and cries of support -- after all the wine I'd consumed, I nearly joined in too, but turned to Fran for some explanation. "What the Hel is 'rope-and-tie', neighbour?"

Fran looked less than enthusiastic. "Warriors compete, to see who can capture and immobilise a slave more quickly." She made a face. "They use each other's slaves, of course."

"That doesn't seem too bad... but let me guess, Natella's your champion at it."

"Well, actually, no..."

I stood up, moved into the ring. A few extra lamps were being lit around it, and it looked almost welcoming to my slightly wine-befuddled brain. "This seems a fine way to make my own small contribution to an excellent evening", I announced loudly, to much applause.

Natella moved over to me, and we shook hands. "Since you are our guest, I think you should go first -- it will give your slavegirl an example to follow."

Of course, I could have done with such an example as well, but I smiled and nodded in agreement, before returning to Fran, who still looked less than happy.

Fran removed my tunic, on the grounds that it might be a hindrance, and folded it neatly. "Your target, Jerri, should stay inside the ring, but you can move outside it if you need to." She smiled tensely. "You are given a rope, and you must tie her wrists together behind her, and her ankles. First Speaker will time you by her pulse... oh, and the tie must remain secure for a further twenty beats. You aren't supposed to knock your target out -- this is wrestling, not boxing."

"Sounds fine to me", I said, as somebody handed me the rope in question. "But if Natella isn't your local champion, Fran, who is?"

Fran crouched down by Memree, and began removing her chains. "Why, Jerri is."

I felt sick, as I moved forward. Jerri, now without her wrist-cuffs, came forward too, with a confident smile, escorted by Natella.

"Thy challenge is bravely accepted, Natella", First Speaker announced. "You must now state the prize for this contest, for the loser to forfeit."

Natella glared at me briefly, and then smiled. "A weight of gold, m'sera, or the tied lovely -- loser's choice, of course."

Oh dear. Whatever the Churmuk called a 'weight' of gold would be more than I'd got in my purse, for certain. A tiny, booze-fortified voice suggested that I had become infatuated with Memree, and to have her taken away might, in the long run, be a good thing... but, much more than that, I did fancy my chances.

"If that is all you can afford, dear warrior -- I accept your terms!"

First Speaker nodded calmly. "The slave must remain inside the circle, but the warrior need not -- though retreating delays the victory. On my word, brave Charol... begin!"

I lunged for Jerri, who sidestepped. I'd been drinking, and she hadn't... it showed. But perhaps she thought I was more inebriated than I was... I caught her, and we grappled, me holding tightly to the rope. I wondered for an instant how the rules would cover her roping me instead...

The whole tent was in uproar, as Jerri wriggled and writhed, trying to get free, but at last I looped the rope around her wrists, and, as if underwater, slowly tied a knot, with her wrists crossed, and took the rope around the other way for good measure, then tripped her onto the carpet, hard enough to bounce, pulled her feet back roughly, and roped them too, so that they almost touched her hands. I yanked the knot unmercifully tight, then stood back, panting.

The further twenty beats seemed to take an hour, but at last, despite Jerri's full strength, First Speaker stood. "The ties are secure", she said firmly. Elapsed time, 97 beats."

I staggered back to my cushion, where Fran was giving Memree her final preparations. All her chains were off, but she still wore her boots, gloves, and collar. I put my tunic back on.

Fran removed Memree's gag, and looked across at me, with a reasonably encouraging smile. "A fair time, in the circumstances", she said.

"Mistress, can you hood me, please? It will give my face some protection."

Fran and I looked at each other, and we both nodded. Natella was in this to win, and pulling hair or an ear, or scratching, would not be beneath her. We slipped the white leather hood on, and Fran began to lace it up.

Natella came over. "You're hooding her?" Her voice carried to the whole tent. "What trickery is this, sera?"

"No trickery, neighbour." My voice was equally loud, and if anything a little more patronising. "I'm afraid she bites, and I'd hate you to come to any harm."

By the time the laughter had died down, Memree was ready -- and looking just a little bit sinister in the big-eyed, mouthless hood. She walked to the middle of the ring, beside Natella, and gave a slight bow towards First Speaker.

"Art thou ready, slave Memree?"

"I am, m'sera."

"On my word, noble Natella... Begin!"

Natella moved like a striking scorpion, and managed to grab Memree's wrist and pull her forward. Memree didn't resist, but went with the pull, diving under Natella's hand and managing to break the hold. She nearly left the circle, but managed to stop and make a crouching turn. Natella tried to put the rope over Memree's head, but Memree grabbed it and pulled... they both nearly fell. Natella yanked the rope free one-handed, and threw a punch at Memree's jaw, which missed... but a sweeping kick to Memree's shin connected, and Memree fell, with Natella diving on top of her, looping the rope around one wrist. Memree used the heel of her free hand to push Natella's chin up and away, which delayed Natella, but Natella's strength and ruthlessness, her warrior training, meant that the fight was far from equal.

The wrist was secured, now, the knot tied while Natella used her weight to pin Memree. She then lifted her -- and kneed her in the stomach before pushing her down flat, and capturing the second wrist. Memree was panting hoarsely, and trying to get free, but she was on her front, with Natella's knee in her back now -- she had her legs wide apart, kicking wildly, but Natella didn't have too much trouble in looping the rope round one, and then the other, and pulling them together. It wasn't long before she had both Memree's legs bent back, the rope around them.

It had been a struggle, I'm sure a much harder one than Natella had expected, but Memree was trussed now, arms and legs helpless behind her, as Natella moved free, and turned to First Speaker. "I have her", she said triumphantly, and glanced over at me. I rose to my feet, very angry with the way that Natella had fought... but Fran put a restraining hand on my arm.

"Thy time is 79 beats, though the slave fought thee well, and with courage", First Speaker said, still looking at Memree, who was jerking and struggling like a mad thing. The tie had to remain effective for at least twenty heartbeats after its victim had been caught... and that time wasn't over yet!

Natella and I both watched as Memree strained and tugged. "Seven beats to go... five..."

Were the leather gloves a help or a hindrance? They saved Memree from rubbing her wrists raw, but mightn't the ropes slip across sweaty skin more easily than across even well-polished, supple white leather?


Natella's smile was wider now, as she watched. But did the knot slip an inch? Certainly Memree was straining, sweat gleaming on her back.


Free! An arm was out of its captivity, the glove scraped and torn across the back of Memree's hand. First Speaker stood, with a faint smile. "The slave has freed herself, Natella, and just inside the time allowed."

"But it was less than..."

I moved to help Memree, who'd already extricated her other arm. I crouched, and untied her ankles. Natella's protest had faded to nothing under First Speaker's gaze. She'd been bested, but -- well, what was a little gold to the leader of many a Churmuk raiding-party?

I helped Memree to her feet, and turned to Natella. "A close contest", I told her graciously. "it's your choice, but I do hope you present me with your slave -- she might help me keep this one under control, which as you've seen is not always easy."

Natella glared at me, and then transferred her gaze to Jerri, obviously seeing if she could shift the blame for losing onto her partner. Jerri turned pale at the prospect of a career change from warrior to slave.

"I..." Natella gave a little cough, and tried again, with a rather unconvincing forced smile. "I do see your problem, Memree is obviously a handful... but no, it's my choice, and I choose to offer you gold, sera Charol."

"As you wish."

I unlaced the hood; Memree's face was damp, and a glowing deep pink from her exertions. I kissed her on the mouth, and she pressed herself against me in a very enthusiastic, thankful way...

The entertainment was over, now, and the warriors of the Churmuk were getting carefully to their feet, while slavegirls removed dishes and goblets, collected cushions, and generally began to clean up the pavilion. The door-flaps were tied back, and the colder night air was encouraging everybody to move. Some of the lamps were being dowsed; Natella and Jerri left without any further words, for me or for each other, and First Speaker and her two body-slaves walked off to their own door. I've never known such an elaborate evening to finish so suddenly.

Fran joined us, putting a blanket around Memree's sweaty nakedness. I put one arm around Memree, and the other around Fran, and we set out for the guest wagon.

We all three went in, and Fran lit the lamp for us while I peeled Memree out of her boots and gloves, and folded up the blanket she'd been draped with. "Well, if Natella didn't dislike us before tonight", I began...

"Now there's money on it", Fran continued. "But I don't see there's anything she can do now -- you both impressed First Speaker, and she is the woman who has the final word around here."

"As well as the first one", I said absently. "I'm sorry about the glove." I held out the one that had got torn in Memree's struggle for freedom. "Maybe Natella should buy a new one."

Fran smiled. "Maybe. But I'd better be off, it's getting late."

Memree got to her feet, and approached Fran, eyes lowered. "Thank you for your support, Mistress", she said, and then hugged her tight and kissed her full on the lips for what seemed an excessively long time, while Fran almost automatically embraced her too.

"I... I'll see you both in the morning", she said, and left.

And that's about it for today. It must be almost midnight, now, though I can hear some shouting around the other side of the camp. I'm too tired to want to investigate, though. It sounds as if some of the people are coming this way, I just hope that they don't want to disturb us.

My hope was in vain - a rather loud knock on our door, I'd better open it, befo--

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