...by Dream_Weaver; The Scribe of Cos.
Ai Gorean, you
assume correctly, althea was indeed a slave. And ai again; kajirae are
not supposed to own anything. But when the Weaver says ‘althea’s
bench’ He does so because this particular seat will forevermore be
synonymous with the slave-girl belonging to Kinsella of Marn…
for seventeen years, althea sat on that tiny bench, fashioned by her
Master’s hand from driftwood when He was a young man. Until daybreak
each morning, the girl would remain there motionless, holding aloft an
oil lantern, pointing its delicate flame towards the ocean exactly as
Kinsella had commanded. her hopeful, sad eyes scanning the seas for the
merest sign of her Owner’s return.
Master will be setting sail on His voyage of exploration at noon
tomorrow. When I leave, you will use your education and intelligence to
keep My HomeStone. Each day, you will handle My affairs. Each night, you
will sit on My bench on the Western cliff top, shining a lamp to the
seas, so that one day your Master can find His way safely Home.”
He had kissed
her long and slow that morning, knowing that His journey was a dangerous
and a long one. Strong, calloused hands held the girl close as His lips
feathered softly across her mouth, His warm breath caressing her skin as
He whispered words of love and re-assurance into her ear. “Remember,
My darling althea, keep the lantern lifted high and burning bright, and
your dreams and wishes will return to you safely.”
By noon He was
gone, the bright, billowing sails of ‘Marn Voyager’ disappearing
over the horizon and into the unexplored seas to the extreme North
Western reaches of Gor.
The house, and
indeed the small island itself seemed completely barren after He had
cast off. Marn usually had a population of just seven people; Master
Kinsella, the bravest seafarer in all of Gor, the highly skilled kajirus
- puc, dan, ebb, aral and rory, and of course, althea. The male slaves
had all sailed with their owner, leaving the kajira alone on the small
rocky islet, 50 passangs West of the nearest inhabited island,
eighteen days a supply boat would arrive from Asperiche with life’s
essentials, ordered and paid for by althea from the ample coffers
entrusted to the slave. The old boat handler, Purdon, was the only
living soul she would see during her Master’s absence.
For the first
two years althea was happy enough. Diligently making the difficult walk
up the uneven, rocky pathway that led to the Western cliff top. Lantern
in hand, freshly filled with oil, she would wait for the sun to
disappear beneath the horizon in a symphony of awe inspiring colours,
before lighting the wick, taking her position on the crude roughly hewn
bench and holding the light high into the air with her left hand.
Despite its weight and the discomfort, the slave never once lowered her
arm – so sure was she that to fail in this simple task might result in
her Master failing to navigate back home safely.
Ahn after ahn
she would sit there in a trance-like state, her mind wandering aimlessly
just to pass the time. All that was important to the slave was her task.
Once in a while, the girl would set eyes upon a distant object on the
horizon. Her soul would dance with joy, her stomach churning with
excitement as the prospect of her Master’s return appeared imminent.
Each time, however, she would feel the immense disappointment of
learning that the vessel was just another trading ship, forging an
unconventional route across the oceans.
As althea sat
there, arm aloft, she would think back to the old days. The happiness of
the Free Companion ceremony. The joy of the humble harvest each year,
the overwhelming sense of completion when she provided Nihan with a
fine, healthy son…
Often, the slave
would think of her child. Her emerald green eyes would dance joyously in
the flickering light of the oil lamp as she re-called his childhood
years. How the boy grew bigger and stronger by the day – nourished
with good food and undying love. Then, silhouetted against the moons,
her delicate frame could be seen slumped sadly forward as althea relived
that fateful period in her life when everything changed.
The boy Najahl
was only nine when His father was taken from them, far too young to tend
the small farm on His own. Poverty followed quickly after Nihan’s
untimely demise, and with poverty came starvation.
memories haunted her, so the task set by her Master became harder and
harder. The pathway to the bench was becoming more even and less
treacherous, so often had the journey been made. The route becoming
easier with regular use, the jagged stones made smooth by the slave’s
In the ensuing
years, the girl found herself recounting a single moment in history over
and over again. As her heart wailed a cacophony of despair her solitude
became excruciating, but not once did the oil lamp descend below the
height of her slender shoulder.
Isolation is a
savage beast; it attacks the mind with debilitating voracity. Nine years
after Kinsella had set sail, and exactly 8 years, 10 months and three
days after He, His crew and His ship had smashed against the treacherous
edges of a huge uncharted rock to their violent deaths, althea’s mind
was reduced to three basic thoughts.
Had you walked
up that pathway on Marn one evening all those years ago, you would have
seen a slave – her body grotesquely contorted, her back hunched
against the pain of her deformed left shoulder – mumbling incoherently
to herself. Her words would have been simple, “althea should not have
stolen that black bread. No, No, she should not have. Then althea would
not have been enslaved and Son would not have been taken … althea
should NOT have taken that black bread …”
The girl would
wail and cry, the lamp swinging as her body jerked to combat the tears,
“but girl will not fail Master. althea will not let the Free down ever
again … No, althea will NOT fail Master.”
face; hardened by bitter winds, mangled hideously by extreme cold,
driving rain, and all the ferocity that the elements could contrive to
throw at her to weaken her resolve; would crumple into desolation as she
pictured the moment when she was face-stripped and her son was dragged
away by the childless, well respected merchant Galdur. “Najahl! What
has become of you? althea is SO sorry, SOOOOOOOO sorry!”
And yet the
slave girl continued to obey Master Kinsella. He had purchased her for a
bronze tarsk bit on a rare visit to the mainland. Back then of course
she had been quite beautiful. Her red hair and striking green eyes had
captivated Him from the first moment. He had taken the naked woman back
to His ship and had beaten the insolence and self-pity from her face. A
ship’s captain was well used to delivering a skilful whipping and in
that first hour in His cabin, the former farmer’s partner had truly
become slave. Over the next two years His love for the beast was
returned willingly, her past largely forgotten as her belly began to
burn with greater intensity. Love and obedience are as powerful as they
are beguiling to behold and she possessed both in monumental proportions
for this great Man.
seventeenth year of her vigil, althea was a macabre curiosity to behold.
The old boatman Purdon would wince painfully each time he laid eyes on
the creature. her haggard, buckled body only recognisable by virtue of
those mesmeric eyes. She barely spoke to him during His visits now. More
likely He would catch the odd word that meant nothing to Him. “…not
fail. Najahl. So sorry. Black bread …”. She would hand over the
money and scuttle unevenly back into the immaculately clean house,
leaving the old man to carry the provisions into the kitchens. Purdon
would shake His head sadly, having long ago given up trying to talk
althea out of her assignment. One evening, shortly after Purdon had left
for Asperiche, althea filled the old oil lamp and replaced the wick.
This was no simple task for the woman, as her left arm was now almost
completely useless to her. The crooked limb jutting at an impossible
angle from her destroyed shoulder. As the day drew to a close, the winds
started their baleful song, gathering momentum ominously as the rains
started to fall. As althea set out on the familiar journey up the well
trodden path to the driftwood bench, she could hear the savage power of
the storm as the gale slammed into the cliff face, causing the small
island to howl its fear in a chilling concerto of fearsome noise.
Well used to
such displays of the power of the elements, althea hobbled her weary way
up to the highest point on the island, seemingly oblivious to the
driving rain and the biting cold winds, which collided with her face.
Slowly lowering to the bench, the slave’s left arm rose automatically
into the air, her drenched body assuming it’s usual state of trance as
the huge red sun disappeared for the six thousandth time beneath the
horizon and in doing so, capitulating to the insistent storm which was
rapidly becoming one of the worst for a hundred years.
saturated and feverish, the slave closed her eyes. The nightly play
which took place in her mind opened once more and the girl was a
FreeWoman again, creeping up to that window ledge where the freshly
baked loaf of black bread had been left to cool. And now she was being
hauled up in front of the magistrate, His pitiless eyes staring
unblinkingly down on the thief as he grabs for her veils and rips them
roughly from her face. The tears falling from her son as He is hauled
away in misery. Suddenly she is in the grand main cabin of a large
clipper. The man she would know as Master looming high above her, arm
raised, wielding the five-bladed leather whip. The slave cowering as
the first blows rained down on her back, making the entire ship seem to
sway as Kinsella claimed his wench. Deep in her mind, althea could even
hear the ship’s bell ringing a doleful beat as the whip licked into
her flesh over and over again.
play would change scene once more, and althea would be in her Master’s
arms. He would be stroking her and kissing her hot flesh as the last
tremors of sweet, intoxicating orgasm rippled through her stomach. His
fingers tenderly combing her hair as His deep soft voice murmured His
satisfaction. But tonight, the scene did not change. The toll of the
large brass ship’s bell just kept on sounding, indefatigable.
The slave had
never before noticed how vivid that sound had become in her dreams, and
she was strangely comforted by it. Its steady, clear resonance even
managing to drown out the noise of the howling winds in her ears. Even
the spiteful assault on her weather beaten face seemed less severe at
that moment and the girl finally found the sanctuary of sleep.
close to the ragged, sharp rocks below, a Merchant ship was turning hard
about. The exhausted Captain fighting against the storm, praying to the
Priest Kings for help and guidance as His vessel was thrown about the
sea. His keen eye spotting the strange, eerie glow of a faint,
flickering light, high off of His Portside bow. The ship’s bell
clanging noisily as ‘Thentalia’ rolled and dipped in the swell of
the mountainous waves. The ship’s crew working for their very lives,
scrambling to raise a small sail on the after-most mast, aiding the ship
to turn more quickly and thereby avoiding the crushing rocks…
althea woke with
a start. The pain in her left shoulder a familiar dull ache, the
lamp’s flame burning low now. The morning was a glorious one, the sun
having banished the night storm to history. The slave struggled to her
feet and looked back down the pathway to her Master’s home. How she
did not notice the grand Merchant Clipper moored in the small bay would
be the stuff of legend. The woman’s mind clearly in automatic as her
naked toes picked a careful route down the hillside.
It was the voice
she heard first. Strong, authoritative, clear. The young merchant
commanding His crew efficiently as they unloaded all manner of riches
from the damaged ship’s hold onto the dockside. As he stood
orchestrating events from the pier, the smart man ran slender long
fingers through a shock of flaming red hair, matted and damp from the
mind was returning to her in a violent rush of coherence, causing the
woman to lose balance and stumble, her limbs becoming instantaneously
weak as the oil lamp collided with the ground and the kajira fell to her
captain turned round, His large emerald green eyes widening in surprise
at the sight before Him. The crumpled body shaking as the slave
struggled for breath. Countless years suddenly became lucid in a
tormented mind as the woman’s gaze locked to His. she could feel
consciousness slipping from her as her addled brain struggled to take in
the scene. Before she fainted, althea managed to say just one,
breathless, beseeching word.
You are encouraged to click the link below and leave any comments or questions about this tale. There are no right or wrong opinions and the Weaver will be interested to see what lessons, if any, can be drawn for althea's story.