Jungle Moons

Jungle Moons was the next Wulf story to see Usenet’s light of day, and to some extent its origins were a result of my friendship with some members of the BDSM community and learning that they (like the aforementioned furries) were frequently misunderstood and often seriously misrepresented in the eyes of popular culture. Not that there aren’t a huge number of bondage enthusiasts who are sorely lacking in social skills, but in the end you’ll probably find the same percentage of idiots and assholes among the BDSM crowd as you would among, say, NASCAR fans — probably lower in fact.

My discovery that people who like to tie up and spank each other aren’t any more or less messed-up than the rest of the world, and that such relationships are extremely complex and subtle led to a fair amount of BDSM and D/S material in the Wulf series. While at its heart it’s really just more fairly-kinky porn, Jungle Moons also represents a (possibly ham-fisted) attempt to portray a dominant/submissive relationship sympathetically, and not as something that’s necessarily harmful or even undesirable (check out the excellent film Secretary with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal for a better take on the subject). And of course, the subversive nature of BDSM relationships (the fact that the supposed “subservient” partner is in many cases actually the one in control, for example) makes for very fun and interesting storytelling.

That Wulf spends most of the story as Chuma adds a nice perverse element to a story that’s already overflowing with naughtiness like lesbian incest, sexual slavery, bondage and other fun stuff. The albino Countess Xylara owes something to Elric of Melnibone for her condition, but she’s a hell of a lot less chaste and self-loathing. Her sister, the lushly-figured and decadent Nineh was actually inspired (in appearance, anyway) by the tragic Anna Nicole Smith during her fleshier phases. Alrynna, in all her submissive, sexually ravenous glory, is probably every would-be dominant’s dreamgirl, but unfortunately isn’t really based on anyone in particular.

This story also introduced my later habit of mixing first- and third-person narratives. I originally did it just because of Xylara’s long flashback, but later continued doing because I enjoyed having the flexibility of mixing the reflective, personal style of first-person with the more omniscient qualities of third-person perspective. I haven’t seen it done too often elsewhere, and I used it extensively in subsequent Wulf stories. Since then it’s managed to infect some of my other mainstream efforts, so it threatens to be a signature style of mine. Time will tell whether it was a good idea or not.

So on with the show. Wulf gets to see how the other half lives. 

__________

Despite my habit of continual self-deprecation, I like to think that I’m a good person. I only steal from people who can afford the loss, I’ve never killed save in self-defense, and I occasionally contribute some of my ill-gotten loot to the Temple of Phaedra, to help those less fortunate than myself (even though I suspect the priests use most of it to fund off-night orgies with women from the Red Temple). I have never denied enjoying sex, but I’ve only wanted it with willing partners. The notion of inflicting pain during sex, or even pretending that it wasn’t voluntary had always been somewhat alien to me. I hadn’t really caught onto the notion that not everyone in the world feels that way.

Case in point: back when I was a lowly swordsman/apprentice sorcerer at the Imperial Magic Academy, I was a lot more idealistic than I am now. I used to stay out late, hoping to interrupt a mugging in progress, rescue a maiden from brigands, or possibly foil a Slaerthist plot to turn the imperial court into geckos. Much to my regret, I had never had the chance to do any of these things. Never, that is, until that fateful night when a full moon rode in the skies above Godshome, occasionally obscured by drifting gray clouds, and I saw a coffle of hooded, chained figures being herded into a back entrance of the Temple of Kashella of the Nine Whips, a sect known for their exuberance and love of suffering.

Readying my saber, I crept closer, noting that as the last figure was herded in by burly, whip-wielding guards, the door shut behind them, but failed to latch. Waiting a suitable period, I edged the door open, loosing my blade and reviewing my meager list of offensive spells.

The hallway was narrow, lit by occasional lantern-boxes, and as I slowly made my way down it, I heard disturbing sounds echoing from ahead of me — the sounds of screams, impassioned blows and pleas for mercy. Gods, I thought, what monstrous evil were the Kashellists up to now? Up to this point, they’d confined their sadism to each other — now, had they taken to stealing innocent citizens and inflicting wicked torments on their unwilling flesh? Well, if that was the case, they’d have to deal with Wulf the Swordsman-Sorcerer!

The corridor widened into a vault-ceilinged room, and I cautiously peeked out into the dim light beyond. The scene was enough to make my blood freeze.

In the vast chamber, at least a dozen individuals, male and female, ranging in age from their early twenties to their late fifties, naked or nearly so, writhed in chains, shackles, or on low, leather-padded benches. Tormenting them was a squad of leather-clad men and women, their faces concealed by hoods or masks, all emblazoned with Kashella’s whip-sigil. The victims were being whipped with crops, flogged with cats, poked, prodded, their various extremities pinched in vices.

There were other — to my young eyes even less savory — torments going on, but I didn’t wait. I bounded into the room, brandishing my saber (no, not that one — the metal one... I know what you’re thinking, you perverse little mother-grabber...) and trying to prepare a spell of stunning.

“Hold, you torturing bastards!” I shouted. “Don’t move and no one gets hurt! [Yes, it was an idiotic thing to say given the circumstances, but I was young and stupid] Now, let your prisoners go!”

There was a moment of stunned silence as everyone in the room, torturers and tortured, stared at me in wide-eyed astonishment. Then, a familiar voice spoke up.

“Wulf? Is that you?”

I gaped, my head spinning, as one of the “victims,” a portly, middle-aged man, his head strapped into an eyeless leather mask, easily unshackled himself , then pulled off the mask to reveal the rheumy-eyed, bearded countenance of Professor Fimbagel, my Necromancy 101 teacher.

I lowered my sword slowly, face reddening, as I realized that not a single victim was racing for safety, and that several of the torturers were giggling loudly under their hoods.

“Gods, Wulf,” barked Fimbagel, throwing down his mask in disgust. “You sure know how to wreck a good evening.”

I stepped back, reeling with embarrassment and fled, as the giggles erupted into raucous laughter, from both victims and torturers.

As I dashed back down the hall, Fimbagel’s voice echoed in my ears.

“See you in class, Wulf!”

It was my first inkling that the world is often not quite as it seems.

***

You may know me as Wulf the Freelance, general knockabout and victim of circumstance. Then again, you may not. In that case, I’ll simply say that I’m one of those rootless adventurers who’s supposed to stride the kingdoms of the world and crush the thrones of the mighty beneath my sandaled feet. Actually, I’m a rather scruffy-looking professional larcenist who knows just enough magic, swordplay, acrobatics and courtly manners to get myself out a convenient door or window whenever the going gets tough.

Those who read my previous memoir might remember that when I left off I was still in the form of an n’doro, or lion-man, the result of a veldt-lands sorcerer with a sick sense of humor. I’d been captured by superstitious locals, who had ignored my protestations that while I may have looked like a bipedal lion, I was actually a cowardly, cringing human thief who just wanted to go home and blow what remained of his money on a huge jar of ale and — if possible — an attractive young Red Temple prostitute with a recently-validated health certificate.

What I got was dragged up onto an auction block and sold to one Countess Xylara, a white-skinned, white-haired, and red-eyed Xeshite noblewoman with, I was later to learn, a taste for the exotic. Of course, given my luck, she wasn’t even a deviant in any traditional sense I was aware of, but that’s getting ahead of my story.

I was taken, still chained and protesting a blue streak to a couple of eunuchs who probably didn’t even speak Imperial Common, to Xylara’s barge — an ornate, gilded seagoing abomination drawn by a team of twelve matched hippocampi. There, I was taken belowdecks, and given over to the attention of a second pair of thugs — ogres this time, who grunted, and urged me into a vaulted chamber.

“Wash, cat-boy,” growled the first. “The mistress likes ‘em clean. Heh, heh, heh.”

“Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh,” replied the second (apparently they’d both had the same dialog coach), who unchained me, then slammed and locked the door.

For the first time in weeks, I was alone and unchained and in civilized surroundings. So civilized, I reflected, as to tip over into the bottomless abyss of decadence.

The room was windowless save for a tiny porthole which a sprite might have had a hard time fitting through (I didn’t even bother to consider escape by this route), but lit by numerous blue-white mage-globes, items owned, back in the White Empire, only by wealthy nobles and merchants, and then only one or two at a time. Everywhere I looked, I saw richly polished dark wood, brass and soft carpets. The room was subdivided into numerous levels, each railed and comfortably furnished with couches, leather chairs, and even hanging plants, arranged sort of like a reverse ziggurat. All the levels led down to the bottom of the room, where an ocean-sized alabaster tub lay, water gushing in through spigots carved in the form of laughing porpoises. The water steamed gently, and pink flowers floated on the surface.

I wasn’t sure whether these were special guest accommodations, or if this was considered to be the slaves’ quarters — I wasn’t about to question my position. Since I was already naked save for a filthy little loincloth that covered about nothing, I didn’t waste a lot of time undressing, but instead plunged into the massive tub, feeling hot water inundate my every pore and orifice, soaking the tawny fur which still covered my body, massaging my weary muscles. With a sigh, I sank beneath the surface, letting the water soak into the rough, matted hair of my mane (I’d been a lion-man for several weeks now, but I still wasn’t entirely used to it).

When I breached the surface again, I was afraid that the accumulated filth of weeks of travel across the Veldt Lands would have turned the water black, but it seemed that some sort of drainage system whisked away the soiled water even as more poured from the spigot. Gods, had I actually managed to land on my feet yet again? I was, after all, a cat, if only temporarily.

I luxuriated in the water for many minutes, wondering exactly what was going to happen. Of course, I had my suspicions; Xeshites are a notoriously perverse and sybaritic race, and the countess’ expression when she bought me had been anything but wholesome and generous. She had, I thought, looked at me with the same expression as a spoiled rich child presented with a unique and expensive toy by an indulgent parent. Given the Xeshite’s well-known propensities for deviant behavior, I harbored few illusions as to exactly what she intended to do with her new toy. Lion-men were apparently rare outside the Veldt Lands, and I suppose the various Xeshite men, women and animals might get tiresome and dull after the fiftieth or sixtieth time. I sighed.

It wasn’t much later that I got my first inkling as to what Countess Xylara intended. Along the wall of one of the middle-elevated sections of the room, a panel slid silently open. Its appearance, though soundless, made me jump, setting up a tidal wave of hot, perfumed water and flower petals.

Through the opening came a remarkable vision. It was a woman — human, and by the look of her hailing from Litharna or Murvane. She was short, pale-skinned, with a tiny, triangular face and large, brown eyes. Her hair was jet black, tied into a long braid that hung down behind her. She wore a pale lavender satin robe, which swished and moved alluringly as she approached me. Behind her, the panel slid shut once again.

“Hello,” I said as politely as I could muster, in Imperial Common. “Uhh...”

“Hello, lion-man,” she replied in a pleasant voice, sensuously accented and heavy with implications. “I am Alrynna, slave to Countess Xylara.

“Uhhh...” I said again, trying to keep my mouth from hanging open. I was acutely aware that she was naked beneath the robe, and I hadn’t enjoyed the carnal company of a female since the life-sucking daemoness at the Alabaster Temple, an experience which I had no desire to repeat. I felt a faint stirring beneath the water, and hoped that it wouldn’t be too obvious. “Charmed. I’m not really a lion-man, you know...”

“It doesn’t matter,” Alrynna replied, gliding forward like a cloud. “Xylara wanted a lion-man, so lion-man you shall be. I have been ordered to offer myself to you, lion-man. As Countess Xylara is your mistress, absolute and unquestioned, so are you my master, to do with as you choose.”

As I gaped (I should really stop being so astonished at how randy everyone else in the world is, but they keep surprising me), she slipped out of the robe, presenting to me a body carved of pale stone, legs full and muscular, a wispy thatch of pubic hair between them, belly slightly curved, breasts small and well-formed, her pink nipples stiffening as they were exposed to the air.

“How may I serve you, master?” she asked. “May I join you in your bath?”

“Of course, if you want,” I babbled, the old human Wulf showing through the muscular and exotic lion-man exterior. “I mean, I haven’t seen a woman like you in...”

She stepped into the water without raising a ripple and silenced me with a kiss, fitting her lips to my short muzzle and slipping her tongue into my mouth.

“No talk,” she whispered. “The Mistress wishes me to please you.” She pulled back and looked into my eyes. “She instructed me to repeat these words to you exactly: `This slave is yours. Do with her as you choose. If she does not please you, whip her or beat her as you like. She is not to deny you any pleasure, short of her own death or permanent injury. If she shows the least hesitation in any way, you may punish her, then inform me so that I, too, may punish her. She is commanded to serve and obey you as she serves and obeys me, and as you are to serve and obey me when the time comes. Enjoy the pleasure of her body, and take her as hard and as often as you desire. So say I, Countess Xylara of Xesh’.”

I gaped, jaw hanging. These words, repeated in that soft, sensual voice, from that delicate mouth, its owner sitting beside me, naked in the warm water, white skin wet, tiny breasts just beneath the water, were like foul curses issuing from a Rexxaran vestal. I was speechless.

“Do you understand my mistress’ words?” she asked, concern etching her elfin features. “If I have not recited them to your satisfaction — “

“No!” I barked, making her jump and splash more water. “You did fine. Nothing wrong with your delivery at all. You were perfect. In fact, possibly the best recitation from memory I have ever heard. No need for punishment or chastisement of any kind.”

“Oh.” I’d swear she looked disappointed. “I am glad that my master is pleased with me. Now,” her features hardened, and a look of unrestrained lust glittered in her brown-black eyes, “how may this slave serve you?”

***

If she didn’t love her work, she certainly gave a good impression of doing so. We embraced and tongued each other in the bath, warm water lapping at us, hands sliding over slick skin, touching, stroking, rubbing, teasing. In about a half-dozen heartbeats I was as hard as a rock (I forgot to mention that the stupid shaman who stuck me with that treble-damned lion-man body also gave me an organ the size of a prize Shalban squash — by the way, that means really big, for people who aren’t familiar with Shalban squashes and their dimensions). Her nimble fingers danced up and down my cock’s engorged length, alternating pressure with light, tickling touches so cunningly that I was seriously considering coming when she drew me out of the bath and led me to one of the room’s several couches.

There, she toweled me dry, but as I reached for her she gently stopped me, and stepped back. As I watched, my lust rekindling along with an uncomfortable pounding in my temples, she spent a majority of the time stimulating herself with the towel, and a minority of it actually drying herself. She rubbed its rough surface across her nipples, and I watched as they distended into fleshy pink knobs. An observant lass, she noticed that this appealed to me, so she played with them more, stroking and pinching, squeezing so hard that she moaned softly. Then she drew the towel between her legs, pulling it back and forth against the neatly trimmed patch at the junction of her thighs, breathing harder and harder as she did so. The white fabric slipped between the fleshy folds of her labia, rubbing roughly against the soft skin of her cunt, against her clit and — I assumed, since she pulled it backwards with equal fervor — her asshole. I realize that this is not a sensation which most women of my acquaintance would relish, but judging by her expression, it put Alrynna into a near-ecstatic state, body trembling, eyes closed, lips tightly pursed, breasts quivering and tight as a mainsheet in a high wind.

Well, this would be enough to put any male who expressed even a passing interest in the opposite sex well in the mood, human or not. I was certainly no exception, and I realized that my erection had grown downright painful. I rationalized that since Alrynna had seemed so eager to please, it couldn’t hurt to put her to the test.

“Come over here, beautiful,” I said, sitting up and indicating my uncomfortably hard shaft. “Apply some of that enthusiasm here.”

She seemed a bit surprised at my phrasing (not the most original in the world, I’m the first to admit), but smiled warmly, replied, “As the master wishes,” and slipped down between my knees, soft pink tongue flicking along the underside of my cock.

“Does this please my master?” she asked, then gave me one more long lick and encircled my cockhead with her lips.

“Oh, yes,” I replied, “I would say that it does.”

My, the woman was talented. As noted, my non-human equipment was considerably more massive than what I’d carried as a man (I’ve never been obsessed with such things, but it was damned hard to miss), but Alrynna’s skilled mouth managed to get around it all, then slide it effortlessly down her throat. Though the sensation threatened to overwhelm me, I was still able to gape in surprise as most of my sizable organ vanished between those seemingly-tiny lips.

I groaned. “Harder,” I gasped.

She got the idea, lightly scoring the flesh of my cock with her small white teeth, slipping it in and out of her with greater and greater speed and force each time. I felt the hot urgency of building orgasm, and she must have felt it, too, for she released me, then began tugging at my cock with both hands, flicking her tongue across my sensitive head.

Another groan escaped me. “Gods...” I managed, “I don’t think I can...”

I didn’t. Weeks of dealing with frustrated lion-man libido (they only have sex every few months, but when they do it’s an all-out orgy) combined with a normal human sex drive (that is to say, the desire to have sex more than twice a year) had put me in a horrific state while I traveled alone across the veldt, forcing me more than once into the arms of those reliable stand-bys, Mother Thumb and Her Four Daughters. With the exception of a life-draining snake-daemoness in a ruined temple (an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy — then again, maybe I would...), I hadn’t enjoyed female company in a couple of months.

I engage in all this useless exposition to explain why, a moment later, I unleashed a geyser of hot white come all over Alrynna’s hands and lips, an event which she greeted with unrestrained delight, continuing to lick and suck and pull at my cock even as my eruption subsided into twitching after-shocks.

“Ahhh, master,” she said, rolling onto her back beside me, her face still streaked with my come. “Our mistress will be pleased.”

Rationality returned to me in a sudden rush, and, as Alrynna cleaned us both with towel and tongue, I realized exactly what I’d landed in.

I wasn’t stupid (I lack good sense most of the time, but I’ve never considered myself stupid), so the purpose of Alrynna’s demonstration wasn’t lost on me. She’d obviously been trying me out for the mistress, and would return with the report that I was hung like a mountain troll, came like a volcano, and liked to watch women masturbating with towels (although I didn’t come by the first two honestly, the third was legitimate). Rexxara and Phaedra... Was that good or bad?

I thought on it for a few moments, watching Alrynna finish sopping up the remains of my orgasm with the towel — her skin was so white, her breasts so small and compact, her face elfin and innocent...

One other thing I should remind you of — as lion-men only have sex every three to six months, they seem to store up their libidos, and are able to come four or five times in a given session and, as you know, I hadn’t had sex in quite a while.

Again, I’m running off at the mouth here — the fact is that my cock began to stir again, and I gazed at Alrynna with newly-kindled lust.

As her towel dragged across the sensitive flesh of my organ, it sprang up once more, filling up like a boiling sausage.

Alrynna looked up, an instant of surprise flashing in her eyes, then got the idea, and smiled wickedly.

“It’s back,” I said. “I think I’d like to put it inside you this time.”

“As my master wishes,” she said, simply.

I figured that she would appreciate a little stimulation of her own. My tongue had approximately the same consistency as the towel she had enjoyed so much — I figured she’d appreciate my applying it to her with equal enthusiasm.

I was wrong. She didn’t simply appreciate it, she pretty much went wild. The rough surface scraped at her thighs and she sighed. I touched her mons, and she moaned. I spread the soft lips apart and ran my tongue over the moist pink cuntflesh inside, and she screamed.

I drew back. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Did that hurt?”

She looked down at me with a frustrated expression. “No!” she barked. “Don’t stop!”

Awfully demanding for a slave, I thought, as I returned to my job, rubbing my tongue against her cunt, touching the rapidly-swelling protrusion of her clitoris. She let out a piercing shriek which rapidly rose into the supersonic, grabbed the back of my heavily-maned head, shoving my face against her pussy.

I licked faster and harder — gods, it didn’t seem to hurt her, so I figured what the hell. The harder I licked, the more she moaned and screamed, and when I slipped a finger into her cunt, rubbing the inside walls and feeling her juices come thicker and heavier. A moment later, she did something I hadn’t ever experienced before (except later with Narisha, but she’s a demon, and they’re built differently) — she tensed, a strangled cry escaping her throat, and unleashed her own orgasm, a flood of sticky, sweet-tasting liquid, rushing out of her pussy, drenching my face, her thighs, and the couch beneath.

We fell apart for a few moments, both panting heavily. My cock was still hard enough to cut glass, but she was overwhelmed by sensation for a moment.

“Oh, master,” Alrynna sighed. “No one but my mistress has ever done that before...”

Aha, I thought... the plot thickens.

“And I think,” I replied, “that you’re the first woman who’s come all over me. I liked it.”

“Let me fuck you,” she said. “Put your cock inside me...”

I wasn’t about to argue, and allowed her to slip astride me, holding up my rod, and slipping it between her still-sopping pink cunt-lips.

“Ahhhh...” she gasped as she slid down onto me. She was tight, her cunt gripping me, and I slowly slid into her against substantial resistance. She loved every instant of it, releasing a string of tiny moans and sighs, until at last the entire length of my enlarged n’doro penis had filled her.

Then the motion began — slowly at first, she rocked up and down, rising and falling on my cock, her juices lubricating the way, cunt still clinging to me in a tight corolla.

I sat up and grabbed her shoulders, rasping my tongue against her small breasts, watching with satisfaction as her nipples swelled and hearing her moans increase.

“Harder,” she gasped. “Bite me.”

No longer concerned about hurting her — damme but it only seemed to excite her more — I bit down on one luscious pale nipple. An avalanche of contractions raced through her body, and I felt her come around me once more, clamping down so hard that I almost winced in pain. Sensation overwhelmed me and I let my claws — carefully sheathed until now — slip out, and ran them, firmly but not too hard, down Alrynna’s heaving flanks, leaving tiny pink furrows behind, scratching but not breaking the skin.

“Ohhhhh...” Another soul-deep gasp escaped from her, and her cunt closed in on me once more. The heavy contractions continued, milking my cock, squeezing and releasing, until I, too came once more, erupting another load of come into Alrynna’s heaving cunt.

I’m not entirely clear on what happened after that, since the weariness of the preceding weeks suddenly crashed down on me, and in a few moments I was out cold (not terribly considerate to Alrynna, I realized, and vowed to make up for it later), to dream of what might lie in store for me over the next few months.

***

Lady Xylara put in an appearance a couple of days later, or rather I was summoned to her presence. The ogres showed up again, friendly as always (an unusual state for an ogre, let me tell you — normally they have all the personality of a small piece of wood, and the social skills of a rabid wolverine), informed me that I was expected to bathe and groom myself, then escorted me out on deck. The sea was an unbelievably deep blue, choppy and foaming, save for a large bubble around the barge itself which remained flat and placid — some sort of enchantment, I suspected. This tub needed it — an ornate nightmare of excessive Xeshite naval architecture, lacking sails or oars, and towed by captive hippocampi, we’d be swamped in anything rougher than a stiff breeze. A squadron of small Xeshite armed cutters also accompanied us, remaining close enough to assist if pirates or jarreks showed up (whether these were an official government escort, or part of Xylara’s household troops, I wasn’t able to find out).

“In there, puss,” grunted my escort, indicating the baroque nightmare near the stern which seemed to serve as captain’s (or at least owner’s) quarters. “Say hi to the mistress for us.”

“Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh,” said the other. Ogres are easily amused.

Not knowing what the hell to expect, I walked through the gilded, overdecorated door and into the scented chambers within.

I felt like a bug on a plate. The center of the room, where I now stood, was its lowest point; the remainder was tiered, like an amphitheater, similar to my luxury prison belowdecks. It was softly lit and hung with silken material, and on the tier immediately above me lounged the pale-skinned, white-haired Xeshite creature who had bought me a week before.

She was of the same type as the lovely Alrynna — that is to say she was small and slender, as if delicately crafted from carved ivory. Her skin was even paler than that of her slave — milk white, in fact, far paler than any woman I’d ever seen before, without even a trace of color. Her hair was similarly without pigment, luxuriant ropes of pure white, hanging around her like a cloak as she reclined on a low padded couch above me. If she stood, I’d swear that her hair would drag on the ground.

The mistress regarded me coolly, with strange eyes. Their whites were normal, but her irises were blood-red, surrounding deep black pupils. Her face was oval, soft and fragile-seeming, her mouth small and a lustrous pinkish color.

Countess Xylara was wrapped in a white satin robe, a few intricate traces of red embroidery offsetting the altogether colorless nature of her skin and the fabric.

After a few moments, Xylara extended an arm with an elaborate flourish.

“Kneel, slave,” she said in a high, tiny voice which was at the same time charged with authority. “I am your mistress, and you shall serve me as I desire. You are not familiar with what is expected of a slave, so your current insolence will be forgiven. In future it will not, however. Now, kneel before your mistress.”

I’m a practical man. I realized that I wasn’t in any position to argue. With one call, my delicate little Xeshite bitch-queen could summon a squad of ogres, without the kind sensibilities of my escorts, who would relish the thought of beating me bloody, twisting a few limbs in the wrong direction, snipping off various important parts of my anatomy, and tossing me to the sharks.

Needless to say, I kneeled.

“What would my mistress have of me?” I asked, although, as you might guess, my razor-keen intellect was racing with plans for escape. Unfortunately, none of them would work, so I figured that I’d think on them later.

Xylara smiled. “You learn quickly, lion-man. Do you have a name?”

“Yes,” I replied.

The silence stretched out between us as she waited for me to provide it. For my part, all she’d asked me is whether I had one, and I’d be damned if I gave her any more that what was actually required.

“Ah,” she said at last. “As you obviously won’t tell me, I’ll have to call you Nummy Muffin Kookoo Butter — “

“NO!” I roared. “My name’s Wul — uh — Chuma, all right? Does that please my mistress,” I snapped insolently, using the name of the lion-man whose pride I’d temporarily usurped.

She chuckled. “You have spirit, Chuma. And Alrynna tells me you have other skills, as well. I hope you enjoyed her company.”

“I liked her well enough,” I replied, trying not to let on that I’d spent the last night or two feverishly thinking about her.

“I see. Well, that is good, for you will probably be enjoying her company quite a bit from now on.”

Damn... Maybe this Xeshite noblewoman was going to be kinder than I’d thought...

“I can tell that you like the idea, lion-man,” she said and laughed, a light, tinkling sound. “Now, although you are my slave, and are bound to do as I desire, I will tell you about myself nonetheless. Perhaps it will help you serve me better.” She shifted her position, settling comfortably into her chaise, the fabric of her robe stretching across her breasts, giving me a brief silhouette of a stiff nipple.

“Listen to my story, slave. It will tell you much.”

***

The jungle pressed in upon Xesh like a tight green veil, hot and stifling. A great verdant fist of humidity, the entire nation was wrapped in its sweltering embrace, and its people, unable to tame the jungle, simply decided to become like it. In vast stone cities, the Xeshites feasted off the bounty of the jungle, and learned to live with its rhythms. With plentiful food, few went hungry, and the vast surpluses created a thriving economy. Hardwoods were harvested from the seemingly inexhaustible forests, gold and silver panned from its rivers, slaves torn mercilessly from its indigenous peoples.

The Xeshites grew bored and wealthy. Decadence crept into what was once a prosperous and vital culture. Nobles dwelled in elaborate towers or jungle estates, engaged in elaborate intrigues, complex love affairs, and wild games of love and murder. Many wandered into a wilderness of drug-induced dreams, never to return. Others indulged their most perverse whims, creating mad and horrific amalgams of sex, torture, death and mutilation. The jungle wilderness, where chaos reigned and only the strong survived, had completely taken root in the Xeshite psyche.

Count Utharzi yi-Exyndra controlled nine separate estates, ranging from Brass Tower, in the city of Xesh itself, to the riverside complex known as the Moonpool. He had six daughters and two sons. All wished to be the sole heir to Utharzi’s vast possessions. His daughters were Tysha — tall, slender, with long black hair that had never been cut, and who wished only to become a priestess of Phaedra; Udra — pale of skin, with thin, crinkly red hair and deep blue eyes, a schemer and dabbler in black magic; Nineh — blonde, lush bodied, given to overindulgence in wine, herb-smoke and dream powders, dedicated only to more and more elaborate debauchery with her harem of slaves, the first of which she recruited when she was but fourteen years old; Daeshi — skeletally thin, with frosty blue hair, quiet, possessed of a cold and deadly intelligence, daughter of a union between Utharzi and a Litharnan mistress, who died in childbirth; Nyxra — dusky skinned and black haired, dedicated to her father and apparently untouched by the malevolence and perversity that lurked in the Xeshite soul; and Xylara — youngest and frailest of the six, born with milk-white skin, red eyes and snowy hair, largely ignored by her father and shunned by the remainder of the family. Utharzi’s sons were Kyric — an athletic, muscular black-haired young man of great bravery, but little intelligence, and Thorvaz — thin, weak, and gawky, but plainly the brightest and most dangerous of the family. Thorvaz had little time for the elaborate debauchery and affairs which Xeshite tradition demanded, but gave himself instead to the study of sorcery, and the development of an elaborate network of spies, informers and agents throughout his household, and among rival houses as well.

Of this family, Thorvaz and Daeshi were reckoned most likely to succeed their father, while the others were expected to receive small shares of his estate. Rather than competing with each other, the two developed an alliance of sorts, with each dedicated to supporting the other’s claim, and intent upon a close relationship after Utharzi finally passed away. Exactly how close Thorvaz and Daeshi’s alliance was proved the source of many rumors and obscene speculations, but no one was able to prove that their relationship was any more than political.

Utharzi himself was a stern, black-bearded man who shunned many Xeshite traditions. He refused to shave his head, and enjoyed engaging in physical labor. He personally led many slave-taking expeditions into the jungle, often returning home with appalling wounds. The Xeshite primarch awarded Utharzi the order of the silver griffin for his selfless bravery during the Third Jarrek Incursion, in which the reptile-men, weary of the constant drain of Xeshite slave-raids on their villages, banded together and tried to sack Xesh itself. It was said that ten thousand jarrek war-canoes filled the harbor of Xesh, and that the city would indeed have fallen had Utharzi and his household troops (many of them jarrek slaves themselves) not held the gates of the primarch’s palace for two hours while the Xeshites rallied their forces.

Though he had little patience for the meaningless maneuverings of the primarch’s court, Utharzi was an exemplary Xeshite. His estates were maintained by legions of well-trained slaves, who were mercilessly punished for the slightest infraction, but also compelled to constantly express their love and admiration for their master and his family. His entertainments were painstakingly-planned masterpieces of eroticism and violence, often in combination. He maintained a seraglio containing dozens of young men and women from many nations, and there indulged in his various passions, the chief of which was the infliction of pain upon the innocent and untouched.

As for his family, Utharzi possessed mixed feelings. Thorvaz and Daeshi pleased him most of the time, though he often disparaged their frailty and unhealthy appearance. He would have much preferred his other son, Kyric, to be his heir, but eventually even Utharzi was forced to admit that the brawny warrior was nothing short of an idiot, fit primarily to fight battles, engage in endless athletic contests, eat, drink, and cavort with concubines.

Utharzi’s opinion of the rest of his offspring varied. Tysha he genuinely loved, but found her religious ambitions distasteful. Udra, pale-skinned dabbler in necromancy and extra-planar sorcery, generally met with his approval, but was rarely present to receive it. Nineh chose to waste her time in elaborate couplings and carnal excess — Utharzi thought this foolish, but at length decided it was a harmless phase which she would soon outgrow. Nyxra, seemingly unaware of the wickedness around her, doted on her father and loved him dearly, and Utharzi himself, in a rare display of restraint and fatherly love, saw to it that he did not engage in any of his favorite vices in her presence. Xylara, his youngest, was an albino and prone to many illnesses. Utharzi, who valued vigor and good health, tended to blame Xylara for her weakness, but otherwise paid her little mind.

Xylara grew up in a strange world, filled with doting servants, scheming siblings, a distant, disapproving father, and luxuries which might have seemed extreme and decadent in other lands, but were considered entirely normal by the Xeshites. Although Utharzi ignored his youngest, she was given an excellent education by highly skilled slaves, and grew up with a fundamental understanding of language, literature, science, mathematics, magic and history. As her desperate efforts to please her father and so earn his approval proved futile, she grew to realize, as childhood slipped imperceptibly into adolescence, that no one truly cared whether she lived or died, suffered or prospered, and that the only person she could truly rely upon was herself.

Xylara often wondered at the strange things her father and siblings did. She learned early what intimate relations between adults were; indeed, she never gave the matter much thought until womanhood bloomed in her, and the first feelings of passion and desire stirred in her loins. At first, her fingers satisfied the needs she felt late at night, and she slept peacefully. As months dragged on, however, the burning desire was harder and harder to quell. She was well into her eighteenth year when she decided to approach her sisters and ask for help.

By this time the weakling child, who had not been expected to live past her first year, had grown into a young woman of considerable beauty and intellect. Her studies had revealed many medications and herbs which provided her with strength, and Xylara’s own will to live had created a vivacity far in excess of what anyone had expected. All the same, both her father and most of her siblings still thought of her as a helpless invalid, prone to illness and not likely to live long.

Of her various siblings, Xylara maintained the best relationship with Nineh, who seemed best able to understand and explain the changes and desires which wracked Xylara’s body. She visited her at her private pavilion one summer day, as late afternoon shaded into the shadows of dusk.

Nineh greeted her sister warmly. She lounged indolently on a low couch, naked but for light scarves draped over her body, more for aesthetic effect than for warmth or protection. Thick, golden ringlets cascaded from her head, across broad white shoulders, framing a round, soft-featured face. Vain and self-indulgent, Nineh wore cosmetics constantly, her large blue eyes surrounded by black lines of kohl, her eyelids painted sapphire blue and purple, her lips constantly stained blood red. The rest of her body, inadequately concealed by orange and red silken scarves, was lush and full, her breasts pale pillows with large pink nipples, now slightly erect and swollen beneath the light silk, her hips wide and flaring, stomach and thighs full and inviting. Though her rivals and those outside the family often made disparaging comments about her body, calling her fat or corpulent, but Xylara always thought that Nineh’s body fit her exquisitely, rounded, lush, excessive, yet also aesthetic and pleasing — the sort of body that invited adoration and exuded raw desire.

“What brings you here, my love?” Nineh asked, stretching languorously, scarves growing taunt across the soft flesh of her breasts. “I’m expecting Grey and Thalim soon.”

Xylara settled herself on a settee facing her sister. “I have some questions for you. They might even bear some relation to your activities with Grey and Thalim.”

Nineh’s eyes widened somewhat at this, her interest piqued. “Speak on, sister. I’m always happy to aid in your education.”

Xylara smiled briefly. She was dressed far more modestly than Nineh, in a pearl-gray tunic with a narrow silver belt and sandals, but she was neither embarrassed by her sister’s near-nudity, nor self-conscious at her own apparent modesty. She had practiced what to say, and began without preamble.

“I know what you do with the slaves. I know the other sisters do it, too, though Tysha seems uninterested. I see pictures in my mind of you and your slaves, when you’re all naked, and they’re touching you. Sometimes I think of what you do, and I touch myself.” She stroked her thighs lightly, and indicated a point between them. “Here.”

Nineh seemed pleased. “Do you really? Does that give you pleasure?”

Xylara nodded. “Oh, yes. It is as if my entire body tingles, and compresses down to a single point. It’s as if I’m on fire, and it is all quenched at once. It gives me great pleasure, sister.”

The blonde woman gave a brief laugh. “Wonderful, Xylara. You please me. We were worried about you for many years.”

Xylara frowned. “Worried about me? Why?”

“You were so... frail,” Nineh replied after a brief pause. “You seemed so sickly and unable to care for yourself. Even if you lived, we feared you would never know... the sort of pleasure you describe.”

“I’ve had to care for myself, sister,” Xylara said dourly. “Neither father nor most of my brothers and sisters seemed concerned.”

“I was, sister. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for you.”

“Pity you didn’t show it more often, Nineh. It would have improved my life immeasurably to know that you cared for me.”

Nineh shrugged. “I’m sorry, sister. I do care for you. Perhaps now I can make amends for past inattentiveness.”

“I’m sure you can. You know that I’m no fool, sister. Fools do not live long in this family.”

Another laugh. “What about Kyric?”

Xylara nodded, smiling grimly. “Without father’s protection he’d have been fed to the hounds long ago. In any event, I’ve lived long enough to know what you do. I’ve read, I’ve watched —”

“Evidently you have,” Nineh interrupted. “I wasn’t aware of your presence when I’ve been at play with the slaves.”

“You’re no fool either, Nineh. You know that father has spy-holes everywhere. Even in your pavilion.”

Nineh made a dismissive gesture. “Of course. I wouldn’t be surprised if the randy old goat has watched me himself once or twice.”

“To repeat myself, dearest sister — I know what you do, and I know that it is related to what I feel when I touch myself. I’ve read all the books. Sometimes I read them before I touch myself. Sometimes I make up my own scenes and imagine them as I touch myself. You are usually in them, by the way — I’ve admired the way you do these things for some time.”

Nineh smiled. “Flatterer.”

“Scarcely, Nineh. You are good at what you do. Unfortunately, it is all that you do.”

Nineh took no offense. “It’s all I want to do.”

“You fuck very well, sister. That’s the right word, isn’t it? ‘fucking’?”

“It’s a somewhat vulgar term.”

“You scream it out enough when Grey puts his organ inside you.”

“Vulgarity can be exciting. More discrete observers call it ‘sex’ or ‘making love’.”

“Fucking will suffice, sister. In sixteen years with this family, I’ve learned to be direct when I need to be. The fact is, sister that I want to be fucked. My hand and imagination are good as far as they go, but I want more. I want to fuck like you do.”

A deep indrawn breath, and Nineh’s succulent breasts rose once more. Xylara noted briefly that her nipples seemed to stiffen slightly, silhouetted even more starkly against the thin silk.

“Oh, sister,” Nineh sighed. “I think that I can oblige you.” Deep blue eyes met Xylara’s, pinning her like a bird in the web of a crab-spider. “There are many different ways of fucking, to use the term you have so immodestly chosen. Men fuck women, men fuck men, men or women fuck large animals — “

“Women fuck other women?” Xylara said, firmly and distinctly. “Perhaps even sisters fuck sisters? Is that what you are getting to? Dearest sister?”

Nineh was impressed. “You have grown up better than I’d hoped, my sweet little sibling.” She plucked a small silver bell from a nearby table and rang it, summoning a nyman servant, who shuffled in slowly, owing to the fact that he had been blinded.

“Tell Grey and Thalim their services will not be needed immediately,” Nineh told the servant. “They may amuse each other as they please, but they are to remain ready should I summon them later.”

“Yes, mistress,” mumbled the nyman, and shuffled out of the room, maneuvering through the furniture by memory alone.

“Now,” Nineh said, discarding her scarves and sitting up, entirely naked, to face Xylara, “perhaps we can begin the first portion of your education.”

***

Xylara sat on a velvet chaise, legs extended as Nineh crouched between them. Nineh had insisted that Xylara remove her tunic (“It’s best to avoid the difficulty of undressing,” she had said, pulling the garment up over Xylara’s head. “That way we can get to important matters right away.”)

Nineh placed her hands on either side of Xylara’s shoulders, and gazed at her, their faces only inches apart. The soft curve of Nineh’s breasts brushed lightly against Xylara’s smaller ones, and she felt their nipples touch, and her pulse raced.

“I suppose that how to start depends upon exactly what sort of fucking you want,” Nineh began. “If you’re overwhelmed with passion, and just want to be taken like an animal, I recommend against any preliminaries. On the other hand, starting slowly is probably the best way to do it overall.”

“I’d like to go slow,” Xylara replied. “It will make it easier to remember everything.”

“Good.” Nineh drew closer. “I’ve found kissing is a good start.”

Nineh’s lips touched Xylara’s. They were warm and pliant, and after a moment Xylara felt her own lips open at the insistent touch of her sister’s tongue. Nineh’s arms enfolded her, holding her close, soft skin warm and inviting. Xylara’s heart pounded faster now, and she returned the kiss, her own tongue darting into Nineh’s mouth, tasting musky moistness.

“Oh, sister,” whispered Nineh. “You’ve waited too long...”

“Just long enough,” Xylara replied, voice muffled against Nineh’s lips. “I’ve waited just long enough.”

A sparkling throb spread from Xylara’s nipples, down through her belly to the warm place between her thighs, and she felt the moisture start. Her hands ran up and down Nineh’s back, stroking the carefully-oiled skin, sending tremors through Nineh’s body.

“I’ve wanted this so long,” Nineh husked, pressing down on Xylara, breasts pillowed heavily against her chest, thighs opening up to slip one of Xylara’s legs between them. “I wanted to show you this...”

“Show me now, sister,” Xylara replied.

Nineh slid slowly down Xylara’s body, long-nailed fingers lightly scoring the flesh of her shoulders and arms. She stopped at Xylara’s small breasts, snow-white, topped with pink nipples growing painfully swollen and erect.

“A little play with these helps, Xylara,” Nineh said, encircling one breast with her hand. “Are your nipples sensitive?”

Xylara nodded, a small moan issuing from her throat as Nineh’s nails touched the engorged flesh. “Yes. I touch them when I play with myself.”

“You like to touch them hard or soft?”

“Hard. Sometimes I squeeze so hard they hurt.”

“I like that,” Nineh said. “I love to play with nipples.” She squeezed and dug in her nails, making Xylara shudder and moan, louder this time. “I’ll let you play with mine later.”

“Yes.”

Nineh’s face hovered over Xylara’s breast, and her tongue flicked out to touch a nipple. “I love to bite, too.”

“I’ve seen you,” Xylara gasped. “I watched Grey biting your nipples. It made me so excited...”

Nineh’s lips touched Xylara’s aureole, and white teeth grazed her nipple.

“Ohhhh, Nineh. Darling... My sister...” Xylara groaned heavily. The throb between her legs grew faster and deeper. “Again. Again, please. You’ll make me...”

“It’s called coming, sister,” Nineh whispered. “Are you going to come?”

“Keep biting me, please.” Xylara felt an edge of desperation creeping into her passion, as if she would do anything for release from the pressure building inside her. Desire built, and she felt like a supplicant, or even a slave, kneeling in chains before her beautiful sister, ready to serve her in any way she desired. “I want to...”

“To come? Say you want to come.”

“Oh, Nineh, I want to come. I want to...”

Nineh’s teeth bit down again, as her hand massaged the other breast, nails biting the tender flesh. Then she switched back and forth, biting first one nipple, then the other.

So hot... So very hot... Please...

“Ohhhh, Nineh!” cried Xylara, bucking upward. “Oh! Nineh, PLEASE...!

Her cry trailed off into an incoherent moan, and the pressure exploded through her, again and again.

Nineh looked pleased. “Just from playing with your nipples, little sister. You will be very popular.”

Xylara sighed, shocks tripping through her. “I want more, Nineh. I know there’s more.”

Nineh grinned broadly. “And insatiable, too. My admiration for you is growing, little girl.”

With that, she crouched between Xylara’s thighs, and spread them apart with her hands. She stroked the tender flesh between them.

“This has many names, as you have probably discovered,” she said, blowing lightly on Xylara’s thighs. “The most clinical is ‘vulva,’ but I’ve always preferred ‘cunt.’ It’s a lovely word, isn’t it?”

Xylara nodded, feeling the fever building again.

“Isn’t it lovely? Say it, sister.”

“Cunt,” Xylara gasped. “My cunt.”

“Goooood,” Nineh said gently, stroking once more. She spread Xylara’s cunt-lips apart, then touched an index finger to the center of her desire.

“This,” she said, licking a finger and stroking, “is your clitoris. It’s where all the pleasure comes from. It’s what your slaves must worship and treat with the greatest love and care. It’s called ‘clit’ for short. Say it.”

“It’s my clit,” Xylara said, voice strained and high pitched. “You’re touching my clit.”

“That’s not all I’m doing,” Nineh whispered. “I’m going to play with your cunt and your clit at the same time.”

“Will you put your fingers inside my cunt?” Xylara asked. “I’ve seen you doing that...”

“You learn so quickly, little sister.” Nineh licked her fingers again, savoring the taste. “Oh, you don’t need any more spit, do you? You’ve got all the juice you need... I’ll explain your cunt to you, Xylara. You can put so many things in it. You can put in fingers, or tongues, or cocks — you know what a cock is, don’t you? No? Well, we’ll fix that shortly — or dildoes, or just about anything you want. They all feel so different. I’m sure you’ll be wanting all sorts of things inside your cunt, won’t you?”

“I already do.” With tentative hands, Xylara touched her nipples, and felt her pleasure redouble. “I already want something in my cunt.”

“We’ll start with fingers.” Nineh slipped her middle finger between Xylara’s distended pink lips, feeling soft flesh give way and open for her. Xylara gasped briefly.

“Does it hurt?” Nineh asked. “I’m sorry, darling. It’s only for a moment.”

The pain passed shortly, as Nineh slid a second finger into Xylara’s cunt, while continuing to massage her clit with her other hand. The heat built and built once more, and Xylara realized she was tumbling headlong into another orgasm, even stronger than the first.

“Oh, Nineh,” she cried, feeling a tremor in her voice. “Oh, I’m going to come again!”

Instead of replying, Nineh pressed her face into Xylara’s sopping cunt, a stiffened tongue rubbing her swollen clit, then cleaving the soft fleshy folds beneath. That was all Xylara needed to trigger yet another thundering orgasm. She cried out once more, thighs scissoring together, hands gripping the back of Nineh’s blonde-maned head, pushing, thrusting, straining, as another wave of explosive passion raced like white-hot metal through her veins.

“Sister...” gasped Nineh, feeling the strength of Xylara’s contractions, pressing against her cunt harder and harder, bringing down another wave of orgasm, then licking softly and lightly as the tremors faded away, rising up from between her sister’s thighs, face slick with her cunt-juices.

“You are so beautiful, sister,” she said, softly. “I’ve dreamed of taking you this way, but I never knew. I was so afraid you’d be sick, or die, or never know what love was like...”

“I’m here, Nineh,” Xylara replied, waves of warm contentment following the waves of passion. “I wanted you.”

They stayed alone together for another hour, as Nineh urged Xylara to kiss her, then play and suckle at her breasts, and then play with her cunt and clitoris. Xylara felt drowned in hot, soft flesh, and cried out in joy herself as Nineh came and came again for her, groaning deeply, and crying out how much she loved her sister. They lay together for long moments after that, limbs tangled, lips seeking out soft flesh, hands teasing and stroking.

“To see you now, as beautiful as you are,” Nineh sighed. “I knew that I wanted to make love to you, and to watch you make love. I’ve thought of it, and I’ve played with myself, too. To make love to your own sister — no one I know has ever done such a thing. Lady Thyma, Duke Xurak’s daughter, fucked both of her brothers at once, but that was just to entertain her mother. Now I’ve had you, my beautiful little sister, and we’ve done something no one else has done.”

And so they continued. Nineh informed her of the various ways in which a man could take a woman, then summoned her favorite male slaves, Grey and Thalim, to demonstrate. Both were strapping, muscular specimens with no ambitions in life save pleasing their mistress (a brief life of drudgery in the mines awaited them should she ever grow tired of either), and performed tirelessly, touching Nineh’s young sister with practiced fingers and tongues, and allowing her to exercise their cocks (Nineh explained the various names and functions of the male organ in detail before summoning the pair) as she chose. They took her, one after the other, under Nineh’s watchful oversight, in all manners possible.

“Put your lips around Grey’s cock,” Nineh said, as she sat in a large chair, watching, allowing Thalim to lick her and play with her clit. “Slide it into your mouth. You must relax your throat and let it slip all the way in. Men like women who can do that.”

Dutifully, Xylara positioned herself beneath Grey and began to lick his stiff organ. Nineh had informed her that both Grey and Thalim had exceptionally large cocks — all the better to learn on, she told Xylara — but Xylara discovered to her own surprise, and Nineh’s loudly proclaimed delight, that she had no difficulty fitting Grey’s thick organ between her lips, and slowly slid it into her mouth, tickling it with her tongue, sliding it out, then letting it slide in, deeper each time. She breathed feverishly as she did so — the thought of exciting this man so much caused her thighs and clit to throb once more. She salivated heavily, spittle bubbling from the corner of her mouth as she swallowed more and more of the slave man’s cock. Finally, the entire length of his shaft was inside her, and she began to pump, slipping the organ in and out of her mouth, lips tightly gripped around it.

“Play with his balls,” Nineh advised. “Squeeze them gently.”

Xylara complied, tickling and squeezing Grey’s testicles as he moved to her rhythm, his hot shaft thick with her saliva, moving in and out of her.

“Go fuck her, Thalim,” Nineh ordered. “Put your cock in her pussy. It’s best she get it all at once, I think.”

Xylara could not see Thalim as he gently spread her thighs and rubbed his distended cockhead against her swollen cunt-lips, but she felt him, and another orgasm built inside her like a towering thunderhead before the afternoon downpour. She felt hot juices cascading down her thighs, lubricating Thalim’s huge penis, and it excited her even more. She came within moments when Thalim thrust into her, pushing aside the soft tissue inside her cunt with persistent but gentle pressure.

“Ahh-mmmm...” Xylara’s cries of passion were muffled by the great cock inside her mouth, and she sucked with redoubled enthusiasm.

“Get ready to taste him,” Nineh warned. “I think Grey is going to leave you a gift.”

Xylara had read of men’s orgasms, but was scarcely ready for the burning gush of semen which exploded into her mouth when Grey groaned and unleashed his pent-up passions. She swallowed as quickly as she could, but much of it dribbled out of her mouth, a long sticky white stream dripping from her chin.

From her seat, Nineh applauded. “Well done, little sister. You make me proud.”

But she was not finished. Nineh showed Xylara several different positions, ordering Thalim and, after he had managed to develop a second erection, Grey, to take her in as many ways as possible. She sat across Thalim’s hips and rocked, letting his cock pound into her. She sucked Thalim as Grey fucked her from behind. She let Thalim lift her up and plunge into her as he stood. She let each of the men position themselves on top of her and fuck her in turn. She even sat on hands and knees without protest as Nineh played with her asshole, lubricating it with oil, and allowed Thalim to force his still-stiff organ into her.

She came every way they fucked her. She lost count of how many orgasms she had that day, her body bucking and heaving to the rhythmic thrusting of fingers, the lapping of stiffened tongues, and the heavy pulse of erect cocks. She was in a world that she had only barely known existed, and even then had known only from books. Nineh was pleased, and repeatedly praised her. The two slave men were eventually worn out and crawled away to their quarters, leaving Xylara and her sister to lounge together on Nineh’s enormous bed.

“Join me, sister,” Nineh said. “We’ll fuck every way imaginable, with everyone imaginable.”

Xylara nodded wordlessly. Her sister, yes. Now, her lover as well. For the time being, the great new universe of sexuality had opened up like an ancient and complex flower for Xylara, and she intended to explore every subtle facet, curve and crevice. And Nineh was her best partner in that exploration. For now, at any rate.

For the better part of a year, all went well. Nineh and Xylara made constant love to each other, and virtually every slave they could get their hands on. The other siblings, only barely aware of Xylara’s existence even in the best of times, did not concern themselves with her affairs, and were content to plot and intrigue on their own.

Unfortunately for Xylara, her ambitions proved more far-reaching and complex than those of her sister. For Nineh, the pleasures of the seraglio were enough, and endless feverish couplings satisfied her. While Xylara enjoyed her adventures with her sister, she came to realize that sex alone no longer kept her occupied. Now, well into her seventeenth year, and more aware of the world around her, Xylara wanted more.

She wanted power, and she was determined to get it.

***

Xylara continued to read, to question, to investigate. Watching her brother Thorvaz, and in the process remaining unnoticed by him, she noted his network of informers in other families, and his intrigues to gain power for his own family. Her sister Daeshi worked closely with Thorvaz, and the two of them took more and more charge of family affairs as her father grew older and faded into dotage.

Xylara began to develop her own spies and informers. Nineh gracefully gave several of her more accomplished pleasure slaves to her sister, and Xylara learned to send these to the parties and feasts of other large families, using them to seduce prominent men and women, gaining valuable information and material for extortion. Her first attempts at blackmail were crude but successful, and Xylara soon managed to obtain a substantial income, with which she purchased a small villa in the jungles north of Xesh, where she and Nineh often retired for week-long debauches. Unknown to her sister, Xylara also used the villa to meet with her new agents.

As time passed, and Xylara approached her nineteenth year, greater desires stirred inside her. With the exception of Nineh, who had no apparent ambition beyond endless and ever-increasing sexual excess, none of the family had cared for her. All had their own goals, and none involved her. Perhaps, Xylara thought, the youngest daughter could surprise them all. Perhaps she could take supreme power in the family, and administer her father’s estates, possibly replacing other powerful Xeshite dynasties, and taking her place at the side of the primarch himself. Her espionage redoubled, and some of it began to be directed against her own siblings.

Though she learned quickly, and her intrigue skills were the equal of a noblewoman from any lesser land, her brother Thorvaz was no fool. He was aware of his young sister’s operations, but thought little of them so long as they did not directly threaten him. But when it came to his attention that she was cataloging the names of his informers, gathering extortion material on him and Daeshi, and even approaching mercenaries with the notion of forming her own household guard, Thorvaz decided that his sister had gone too far.

He met with Daeshi on his sister’s private yacht in Xesh harbor. On deck in the guttering torchlight, he sat, nursing a goblet of wine and glowering at Daeshi, who stood gazing over the moonlit water. She was clad in a dark blue gown, with a plain silver circlet and a narrow white belt. She was painfully thin, her hair a tracery of frosty blue-white, her eyes an intense violet-blue. She always spoke softly, and rarely showed anger.

“It seems,” Thorvaz said, running a finger around the rim of his goblet, “that our sickly little sister has come into her own.”

“You mean Xylara?” Daeshi asked. “She’s certainly come into Nineh enough times. Are you saying that the little cripple actually has higher ambitions?”

Thorvaz nodded. “She has obtained a list of all my agents, and I think she means to subvert them, use them against me. She also seems interested in learning the layout of your private estate, and whether you have any lovers or not.”

Daeshi’s calm exterior did not waver. “Not even you know that, brother. A woman must have some secrets.”

“So must a man,” Thorvaz replied, “and I mean to keep mine. The little fool seems to think that she can replace us as father’s heir. She needs to be taught a lesson.”

“I agree. This family can’t afford her foolishness. What do you propose? Should we dispose of her?”

Thorvaz shook his head emphatically. “No. We can’t start that tradition. The Askaly managed to kill themselves off with internecine feuds. I just want her left in a position where she can’t threaten us. Or perhaps in a position where father will be forced to deal with her. Having father dispose of a treacherous youngster is far less dangerous than us doing it ourselves.”

“Of course, brother. I think I can arrange a suitable incident.”

Thorvaz’s curiosity was aroused. “What do you have in mind, Daeshi?”

“Hm. Perhaps I should let it be a surprise. Suffice to say, a certain young man from a certain family owes me a favor. I suspect that he will have no objection when I tell him exactly what the favor is.”

“I look forward to seeing your plan unfold, sister. It’s a pleasure to watch you work.”

“You flatter me brother.” Daeshi glided toward him like a ghost, and picked up a silver pitcher. “More wine?”

***

The annual Primarch’s Fete was the crowning moment of the Xeshite social season. All major families were invited, and turned up in their best finery. Dancing, feasting, music, games, and many entertainments went on from sunset of the first day until sunrise of the second. Alliances were made and broken, love affairs begun and ended, trysts consummated, and the usual debaucheries were the engaged in with even more enthusiasm than usual. Virtually no excess was too great, and each Primarch’s Fete was greater and more elaborate than the last.

Xylara, being the daughter of one of Xesh’s greatest heroes and most prominent nobles, had attended fetes since she was seventeen. At the previous year’s festivities, she and Nineh had managed to seduce over sixty men and women between them, a feat made possible by taking on as many as four at a time. Nineh had been less than discriminating, and the two of them had been exhausted for a week. This year, however, Xylara was more intent on making contact with those who would help her in her quest for power and influence.

For the first few hours, Xylara was lost in admiration of the glittering crowds of overdressed nobles, their legions of slaves, elaborate coaches, wild hairstyles and cosmetics. She danced for a time, with a variety of foppish noblemen, all of whom were either too old or too uninteresting to warrant her attention. It was just after midnight that all her elaborate plans for making contact and building her network of informers came to an abrupt halt.

He was tall, muscular, firm-jawed, with long blonde hair and a stern gaze, which fixated her from the moment she saw him. He was dressed in a dark gray waistcoat and black breeches with shiny black leather riding boots.

“Would you like to dance, my lady?” he asked. “I’m Parval Syxari.”

Xylara took a gloved hand, mumbling her name, and allowed him to lead her out onto the floor, where they spun and swayed through elaborate court dances, her mind struggling to comprehend what was happening to her.

The Syxari were a rival house. Part of Xylara’s mind knew that her father would be furious to even see her dancing with the man, but most of her heart and mind was caught up in an emotional whirlwind, transfixed by Parval’s deep blue-black eyes, hypnotized by his deep voice as he whispered endearments to her, telling of how he had seen her the year before, and had spent the intervening months wondering how to approach her. Later, when they were alone on a high balcony, he went so far as to drop smoothly to his knees and confess a deep and unrequited love for her, and ask that she at least favor him with a kiss. That, he said sadly, was all he could possibly hope for.

Despite her years of excess and sexual experiment with her sister and their slaves, Xylara had never known the kind of love which Parval offered. She had read of it, true enough, but had always imagined that such affection and devotion existed only in books. Now, here, alone beneath the stars and the swollen tropic moons, a man kneeled before her and said words she thought she would never hear.

Of course, she was lost. Parval was a handsome man, and far more experienced than Xylara imagined. Though she had had accelerated training in the labyrinthine paths of Xeshite society, much of her remained a naïve girl, with little practical experience. As she and Parval wandered the halls of the primarch’s palace, walked in the gardens, sat beside fountains and among statuary, and Parval whispered ever-sweeter endearments to her, Xylara grew thoroughly infatuated, and by the time the fete had ended, she had made an appointment to see Parval at her private jungle villa.

***

Daeshi told her brother as much a day later.

Thorvaz smiled. “Your efficiency continues to astonish me, sister,” he said. “They will be together at her cabin, then?”

“One week from today, Thorvaz.”

“Very well. When should we come?”

Daeshi considered this. “Somewhat after she does, I think. We should at least let the little bitch have her fun.”

***

The days dragged by so slowly that Xylara feared she would scream out loud. Each day, thoughts of Parval’s features and his words echoed in her mind, and each night her imagination suggested a million exotic couplings with her new lover. She spent some time with Nineh and the slaves, but it was not enough. Nineh observed a certain lack of interest in her sister, but chose not to ask why; for her part, Xylara kept silent, fearing the reaction of any family member should she be caught scheming with the son of a rival house.

At last, the day arrived, and Xylara set out for her villa, accompanied by several discreet slaves. They took a pole barge down the Uyla River, then rode pack-lizards to the heights above, where her small hideaway crouched, hidden amid dense green foliage.

It was a small house, but comfortable, built on three levels, with a large courtyard roofed over with greenery, a bathing pool, dining salon, bedroom and library. It had been badly run down when Xylara purchased it, and had it restored by the most discreet workmen available. Sorcery concealed it from outside observers and kept wild animals away — here, in fact, Xylara felt safer than in any other place. She called it Arborhall, and it belonged to her alone.

Though attended by slaves, all sworn to secrecy, or rendered incapable of carrying tales by having tongues removed, Xylara was determined to have the villa entirely unoccupied tonight, save herself and her lover. She sent all her staff to the small slave quarters down the hill, and set about preparing herself for Parval.

Oh, the day passed slowly... She tried on a dozen gowns and experimented with a dozen different combinations of kohl and lip-paint; none of them seemed adequate for the time which she saw coming. Finally, she settled on a full-length silver dress with a deep décolletage, and violet lips with shadowy blue on her eyelids. She left off her smallclothes, content to be naked beneath the gown, feeling the softness of its fabric against her bare flesh.

And how she longed to touch herself, to think of the pleasures Parval would bring, to carry herself to the brink and beyond, dreaming of his touch, his lips, his loins, his... yes, Nineh would tell her to go on, to think of it all, and not to hold back... his cock, and how it would slip between her moist and willing lips, and linger at the threshold of her cunt, and finally penetrate deep inside her, and she would come and come and come, then he would come inside her, tell her he loved her, and she would swear eternal love and devotion, and then...

It was all too much. Xylara forced herself to concentrate on readying herself, but the day went so slowly that as the sun finally touched the horizon and she caught sight of Parval’s white boat making its way down the muddy brown ribbon of the river, it seemed as if an eternity had passed.

But as soon as Parval swept through the main doors of her villa, grandly handing his long, swirling cloak to a mindless wolfen attendant, who vanished back down the jungle trail, Xylara knew the wait and self-denial had been worth it.

“Darling,” he said, an edge in his voice which spoke of the agony of their separation, then approached her and swept her up in his arms.

Oh, how she surrendered to him. How she replied to his whispered words of love and longing. How she responded, her heart racing, her breath coming in short gasps, her loins aching, her once-frail body coming to life as it never had before, not even in the presence of Nineh and her most skilled concubines. Oh, how she desired him, how she...

...how she loved him? she wondered. Did she? She wondered, as he lifted her up in strong, corded, muscular arms, and bore her toward the bed chamber, did she love this man? All he had said and done evoked chords of memory from the long, elaborate romances she had read, and of the wild romantic fantasies which had chased each other through her brain since childhood. Fantasies which remained unfulfilled even during her most orgiastic rites with her sister and others. Fantasies of handsome men who spoke of love and carried her to faraway places, away from her father, and her uncaring family, and away from the oppressive heat of the green jungle, away from the thick humidity and horrific stenches, away from the diseases and the rot and the misery. Was this the man who would do this for her, she wondered, surrendering to his touch, allowing him to pull away her gown and gaze down at her naked, willing body, with a combination of hunger and tenderness? Was this the man?

Her pounding heart threatened to burst as Parval’s strong hands and tender lips roamed over her body, stroking her face, kissing her mouth with hot passion barely restrained, cupping and massaging her breasts, stroking her nipples, then squeezing them and licking them with a rough tongue.

“You are so beautiful, lady,” he whispered. “I’ve loved you since I first set eyes on you.”

“Parval...”

“I never dared hope that I could make love to you, hold this sweet naked body close to mine. I want you, my darling.”

“I want you, too. Take me, please...” Xylara’s voice threatened to crack. “Any way you want, darling. Take my body any way you like.”

A different look flickered through his eyes, then — a look of passion and desire overriding his former tenderness. She knew what he wanted — it was what all men wanted.

Though she lay entirely naked, milk white skin against the rosy silk of her bedclothes, Parval remained dressed, in his ruffled shirt and breeches. Looking between his thighs, Xylara saw a swelling prominence, a hardness that reflected the harsh hunger now filling his countenance.

“Let me take you in my mouth,” she whispered. “Let me put you in me.”

“Yes,” he hissed. “Unlace my breeches and take me in your mouth, my darling.” The words were rushed, as desire inflamed him.

With practiced hands, Xylara unlaced Parval’s tight breeches, then pulled them down, revealing gleaming muscular thighs and a rock-hard penis, thick and veined, purple-headed, hot with built-up longing.

“Suck me,” Parval commanded. Such words from one whom she loved so excited her strangely. She felt a deep wanting, to be taken and possessed by this man, held in bondage and forced to pleasure him. Her breath came even faster, and she felt herself totter on the brink of orgasm just from the thought.

Her eager lips sought the great head of his swollen organ, kissing and flicking her tongue at its opening, then tracing the line of his glans, stiffly stroking down its back, tracing its veins, loving its every surface, every contour, desiring it with every fiber of her being. She stroked the proud cock with trembling fingers, scratching lightly with long, blood-red nails, then encircling and tugging at it.

“Suck me,” Parval said. “Put that cock in your beautiful mouth and suck it. Now.”

The firm, calm voice of command dragged her steadily closer to explosion, and she encircled the engorged, red-purple member with pouting lips, wet with floods of saliva. He was enormous, filling her mouth, and she felt a sudden moment of panic as his large, strong hands laced behind her head, and he thrust into her sliding down her throat, near to choking her. She gagged for a moment, but he persisted, and in a moment, the great rod slipped into her without resistance, and she pumped and suckled at it eagerly, fingers reaching down to cradle his testicles, and encircling his shaft tightly, stroking it hard even as it drove in and out of her mouth.

“Yes,” Parval muttered. “I love how you suck me.”

Passions raced like hot metal through Xylara’s veins.

“I love you,” she hissed, releasing his cock, then sucking it more. “I love your cock. I want you. I want to serve you.”

She left off sucking, and tugged at his spit-slick shaft with both hands.

“Use me,” she begged. “Take me. Fuck me.” Gods, how the words excited her. “Make me your slave. I want you so, Parval. I want your cock. I want you.” She swallowed the great member once more. “I want to be your slave.”

It excited her so — what did it all mean? Why did this surrender to the man she loved make her clit throb so, why did the thought of being a whore and a slave make her want to come endlessly, and serve this man in whatever he desired?

Xylara did not know. All she knew was that she wanted to give herself up entirely to him, to be an empty vessel to his desire, and to completely submerge herself in the love and control which he gave her.

She fell back onto the bed, spreading her thighs apart for his view, pulling the pink lips of her cunt open.

“Take this,” she said. “Please put your cock in me. Fuck me like a whore, Parval.”

Parval calmly removed shirt and breeches, standing naked at the foot of the bed, gazing down on her. He resembled a carved marble statue, poised and ready to take her however he wanted, regardless of her desires or protests. It excited her even more.

Parval walked slowly around the bed, looking down at her with an expression that was at once tender and commanding. “Not yet, darling,” he said. “I think you need a little punishment before you earn your reward.”

Oh... Just the thought of serving this man, of feeling the sting of his punishment, pushed Xylara over the edge, and she felt orgasm clench her body tightly. Tremors wracked her even as his rough hands seized her, turned her over and set her on hands and knees before him.

“Good girl,” he said. His voice was sweet, dripping with honeyed adoration. “Stay there, and take your punishment, my sweet little slave.”

Xylara’s body tensed, waiting, then pain lashed through her as his flat hand struck her naked buttock. He drew back and struck again, the harsh slap echoing through the room, the pain redoubled.

As she kneeled, biting her lip, holding back her cries, feeling hot tears well up in her eyes, Xylara realized that pain from someone she loved was greater than any pleasure. Again and again he struck, raining down blows, turning her buttocks bright red, sensitizing them to the next blow, which came even faster and harder. If she held back her cries then, they were cries of pleasure and joy, not of pain and degradation.

At length, the blows slackened, then stopped, and Parval stroked the hot, red buttocks softly.

“Very well, lady,” he said, softly. “I think you’ve earned your reward.”

Xylara rolled over, spreading her legs once more, pulling apart the pink lips, heedless of the hot moisture which now streamed down them.

“Take me now, Parval. I belong to you. I want to serve you every way I can. Parval, darling. I want to go away from this place with you, leave our families behind, make a life somewhere else, away from this gods-cursed jungle. Litharna, perhaps, or the White Empire.”

“Later, my love,” Parval said. “Now it’s time to give you what you wanted so.”

With that, he moved atop her, his still-stiff cock slipping inside her seemingly of its own accord, filling her to overflowing. None of the slaves was so huge — he was the largest she’d ever had, and she felt herself coming uncontrollably as Parval thrust his enormous organ into her.

She cried out in a passion she had never before known, coming again and again at his insistent thrusting.

“I want to come, my love,” he said, with a trace of regret in his tone which puzzled her.

“Come in my mouth,” Xylara said. “Let me suck you ‘til you come.”

Silently, Parval complied, standing and allowing her to kneel before him, once more slipping his cock between her lips and allowing her to envelop him in the hot moistness of her mouth. She carried on as before, alternately sucking and licking, tugging with her hands, stroking his balls, whispering endearments as she did so.

Parval responded as before, taking her head in his hands and thrusting into her, speeding to his own pace, using her body, taking her as she chose. Xylara’s heart soared, for she felt fully alive and wanted for the first time in her life.

The smashing of wood and the shattering of glass broke her fantasy into a billion shards. A dozen household guards were in the room, swords drawn, and at their head, smirking and strutting like an emaciated peacock in ceremonial armor, was her brother Thorvaz.

“Caught you, sister,” he said lightly as Xylara drew back and blanched, seeking something to cover herself, to lessen the horror and humiliation she felt.. “Consorting with the enemy. Gods, Parval, what deviltry did the two of you plan? Assassination? Rebellion? The destruction of our household? My sister has become quite the schemer, hasn’t she?”

“Am I free to go, Thorvaz?” Parval asked, his voice now flat and devoid of the passion and devotion it had once held. “I think I’ve paid my debt to your sister quite sufficiently.” He smiled down at Xylara, who crouched in a heap at his feet. “I’m sorry, dearest, but I was running out of romantic things to say to you.”

Xylara gasped and felt tears well up inside her — bitter tears of rage and grief this time.

“Oh, do finish, Parval,” Thorvaz told him. “You deserve some satisfaction for all your work.”

“My thanks, Thorvaz,” Parval said, grabbing Xylara’s head once more. “It’s a pity our families are such enemies.”

With that, Parval began to stroke his cock, holding Xylara firmly by the hair, until at last he came, cascading hot semen into her face and across her trembling lips.

“Your sister is good, Thorvaz,” Parval said as he dressed, and Xylara lay, sobbing on the floor. “Perhaps you can hire her out. Earn a little extra income.”

Then he was gone, and Xylara was taken from her villa, still naked, and in chains, her body wracked with sobs. Behind her, as Thorvaz guided their boat down the river, Arborhall blazed, as household troops and slaves looted and burned. Within a month, the jungle would completely reclaim what had been Xylara’s only refuge.

“You should have stayed with Nineh and her harem,” Thorvaz told her. “At least there you did no harm. You dabbled in things you did not understand, sister. You left me no choice but to destroy you.”

Xylara only stared sullenly at her brother, tears and streaks of semen drying on her face, unable to clean herself for the chains which bound her.

They took her before father, and listed her crimes.

“Conspiracy, treason, consorting and fornication with avowed enemies of your line, concealment of funds,” Thorvaz said, unable to keep the smirk off his face. “Gods know what else she planned, father.”

Count Utharzi was now far beyond his days of glory, and spent most of his time in bed, his body wracked and wasted. There were those who might have claimed that his life of wickedness and cruelty had led him to this fate, to die by inches in endless agony, but they always did so well out of the old count’s earshot. Though frail and wasted, he still commanded great power, and could eliminate anyone he chose with a word.

“Daughter,” he said, a trace of the old fire lingering in his voice. “You have displeased me.”

Xylara remained naked and chained, her face still streaked and filthy, and kneeled at the foot of her father’s bed.

“I am old now, daughter,” Utharzi continued, “and I realize that, perhaps, I should have loved you better when you were younger, then you would not have turned against me so.” His eyes, sunken in his skull, but still bright, scanned the room. Daeshi was there with Thorvaz, as was Nineh, gazing with concern at her sister.

“I see the hand of your older siblings in this matter, as well,” said Utharzi, fixing his gaze upon Thorvaz. “Your joy at your sister’s downfall is unseemly, my son. If you are hoping that I will disown her, exile her, or even have her slain, you will be disappointed.”

Now he looked at Xylara, and she seemed to shrink before him. “None of this mitigates the enormity of your deeds, Xylara. My punishment is this: from today forward, no member of this family may see or speak to you, unless summoned here and given leave to do so; I give you my estate, the Moonpool, as your residence, but you may neither visit nor stay at any other family holdings; finally, since men were your downfall, no man, or male of any race or species, shall ever be allowed to lay his hand on you ever again. You may see and speak to men, but none may touch you, nor you them. Any man who touches you without your consent shall be slain. Neither noble, commoner, nor slave shall sully you with his touch. Should you ever break my decree, all your titles and holdings will be revoked, you will be stripped of all family protections, and sold as a slave. This I decree, though it is with a heavy heart. Now leave, all of you.”

With that, Utharzi’s guards ushered them out of the bedchamber. Xylara was unchained, bathed, and dressed (by female slaves — Utharzi’s decree was already in effect), then sent to the Moonpool, where she remained, attended by slaves.

Days stretched into weeks at the Moonpool, and the weeks into months and years. Xylara lived a life of indolence, attended by female slaves, and free to travel and make love as she chose, but never with a man or male of any kind. She bought many slaves, kept them, punished them, discarded them, searching for the happiness she had once known with Nineh, and that she had hoped for with Parval. None helped, until Alrynna, who loved her absolutely, and gave her whatever she wished. She kept Alrynna with her, and even nursed her own kind of love for the pale, dark-haired young woman. Men and males of different species sometimes found their way into her household, to make love to Alrynna as if she was Xylara, and to give Xylara some taste of the fulfillment she would never know.

At length, the old Utharzi died, senile and in agony, the spirits of those whom he had betrayed and slain tormenting him in his final days. Perhaps it was the death of his favorite daughter, Nyxra, who drowned while sailing, which stole the last vestiges of the old man’s will to live. To what pit of hell he descended, none knew, but most silently hoped it was a deep one. As for Utharzi himself, Nyxra was dead, and what remained of his family had disappointed him; he died without naming a successor, choosing instead to divide his family estates between the various children, in the understanding that the last survivor take the mantle of matriarch or patriarch. His decree regarding Xylara remained unchanged, but by then she had grown accustomed to her new life.

Still, the memory of her betrayal burned in Xylara’s mind. She was little better than an exile in her own land now, shunned and cast out. It was Thorvaz, she knew. Thorvaz and Daeshi, the hateful conspirators who wanted all the family’s power for themselves. She hated them both, and also hated Parval. A foolish pawn, and little else, he had still played with her, and crushed what little belief she had had in the faithfulness of men. She longed for the day on which she would make them all pay. Xylara still desired power, but now she desired vengeance as well.

***

“Now you know who I am, and why I am, lion-man,” Xylara said, stretching. “I have brought you to be Alrynna’s master. You are to make love to her as you would to me.”

“And you’ll watch?” I asked.

“You catch on quickly. I’d heard lion-men were rather dim.”

“You’ll find I’m no ordinary lion-man,” I said, then after a pause added, “Mistress.”

“You’re arrogant and willful, lion-man,” she said. “We’ll have that worked out of you someday. In the meantime, prepare yourself. I will summon you before the voyage is done. Be ready for a repeat performance with Alrynna, though I will be there as well.”

***

Xylara kept her promise two days later. My ogre attendants had informed me, in between guffaws, winks and similar antics, that the barge was due home soon. I wondered exactly what lay in store at Xylara’s estate, but what happened on the barge proved far more than enough for my delicate sensibilities.

I was summoned and escorted in the usual manner, this time taken to a large chamber to starboard amidships. As soon as the door slammed and locked behind me, I took stock of my surroundings, and immediately began to wonder if I really wanted to be there.

It was a large room, built of light, polished wood, with heavy beams across the ceiling and along the walls. The beams themselves bristled with hooks and eyebolts. Hanging from the hooks was a wide variety of interesting objects, and it should come as absolutely no surprise to the reader that these included whips, crops, cats, cuffs, collars, thongs, brushes, knives, and a number of items whose exact use was a mystery to me, although I suspected that I had a pretty good idea as to their basic function. Miscellaneous straps and chains hung from the ceiling, and a number of unusual items of furniture decorated the remainder of the room. Almost everything was white, as well — the leather was dyed white, the metal was enameled. None of it, I was relieved to note, was spotted with red, either.

Nearest me was a sort of low bench, equipped with a utilitarian assortment of eyes and straps. One end was padded like a pillow with white leather, while the other was semi-cylindrical, crafted of narrow bamboo slats. I swallowed heavily.

A small door at the opposite end of the room opened, and my “owner” entered, dressed in an endearing garment crafted of supple black leather, standing in almost blinding contrast to her snow-white skin. Her legs were exposed, and a crisscross of lacing down the front, back and sides showed even greater amounts of flesh, though nothing vital was revealed. She wore a pair of knee-high leather boots, and her hair was done up in a single braid, coiled about her head, and then hung down to the middle of her back.

“Hello, Chuma,” she said. “I made you a promise the last time we talked. I’m here to deliver.”

I stood impassively. As before, I was dressed only in my loincloth, and I suspected that I wouldn’t be enjoying its company for too much longer.

She clapped her hands. “Slave!” she barked. “In here! Now!”

The door opened once more, and Alrynna entered. This was a somewhat different Alrynna, I had to admit, for she entered with eyes down, moving with a slow, shuffling gait. A black leather collar hung with a number of rings surrounded her neck, while she bore thick cuffs, also with rings, at her wrists and ankles. Beyond that, save for a thin gold chain around her waist, she was completely naked. Slowly, her very manner exuding passive obedience, she walked up to Xylara, then kneeled down, eyes still downcast.

“I told you that you could do with this one as you wished,” Xylara said, selecting a short black crop from the wall, and using the tip to lift up Alrynna’s delicate, pointed chin. She still sought to avoid eye contact. “Isn’t that right, slave?”

“Yes, mistress,” Alrynna said softly.

Xylara smacked the crop lightly across Alrynna’s shoulders. “Look at me when I’m talking to you, slave,” she ordered.

“Yes, mistress.”

Gods... My experiences at Kashella’s temple came back to me. Under other circumstances, I might have started to look for a suitable weapon so that I could deliver Alrynna from servitude and heroically leap over the side with her, but past events now suggested that she was loving every moment of this. I stood my ground and kept silent, realizing with growing certainty that it was arousing me, as well.

“Now,” Xylara said softly, “onto the table.”

“Oh, mistress!” Alrynna attempted to maintain a facade of fearful obedience, but her enthusiasm for the work at hand showed through nonetheless. “Have I misbehaved so? Will you punish me?”

A brief look of annoyance flashed across Xylara’s features and she barked, “If you’re fortunate. Now get on the bench!”

Without further word or protest, Alrynna positioned herself on the leather-padded bench, face down into the leather pillow, arms hanging over the sides, buttocks and legs draped artfully across the smooth, semi-cylindrical end.

“She’s a good slave, isn’t she, Chuma?” Xylara asked, walking slowly toward the bench, and taking her time about it. (Personally, I thought Alrynna seemed way too enthusiastic to really be a “slave,” but my albino Xeshite mistress was in command here, so I didn’t say anything.) She still held the crop in one hand, and lovingly caressed it as she walked toward the supine Alrynna.

Okay, okay — I know what you’re thinking. I’m a pretty straightforward person when it comes to sex. I enjoy the company of a happy and enthusiastic woman (and don’t even mind if there’s more than one), I have experimented with a variety of techniques and positions, and I have experienced the company of several different species and nationalities. On the other hand, I have limits. I have absolutely no interest in taking what is not freely offered (and have gone so far as to rid the world of a couple of deviant males who did), I like my companions to be experienced and of legal age, and I never really liked to inflict pain (I also have never been terribly interested in sex with my own gender — not that I don’t acknowledge the possibility, it’s just that I’ve never met a man who struck my fancy in that way).

Then again, there are always exceptions. I like to pride myself in being supportive and accommodating. If a woman wants it from behind, I will give it to her from behind. If a woman enjoys being licked all over, I am only too happy to oblige. If she wants her girlfriend to join in, I am nothing short of ecstatic. So, I suppose that it only naturally follows, if she wants to be tied up and beaten with peacock feathers, I have no choice but to cooperate. It just wouldn’t do to have a reputation for being insensitive to a woman’s needs.

So I watched as Xylara walked slowly and appraisingly around Alrynna, who lay face down on her leather-padded contraption, arms and legs limp, hanging down, the white, rounded flesh of her ass, and the downy-haired pink softness of her cunt exposed. Xylara trailed her white riding crop across Alrynna’s buttocks, then flicked it once, connecting with the pale flesh with a sharp snap. Alrynna squirmed alluringly, and Xylara brought the crop down, harder this time, leaving a single red weal.

“Like it, my pet?” Xylara asked, voice stern.

“Yes, mistress,” replied Alrynna, softly.

Xylara struck again, the crop snapping down on naked flesh still harder, eliciting a sharp cry from Alrynna.

“Say it again,” Xylara demanded. “Say it like you mean it.”

“Yes, mistress,” Alrynna said, slightly louder this time.

Another blow, and Alrynna’s strangled cry was even more heartfelt.

“Again! Louder!”

“Yes, mistress!” Alrynna shouted, voice midway between a plea and a gasp of pleasure. “Yes, I like that, mistress. I like it when you hurt me...” Her voice trailed off.

Xylara delivered one more blow (I suppose just to drive the message home, but I’m not sure), then stopped, gently stroking Alrynna’s ass, marked now with several red weals.

At last, she spared a gaze in my direction. I still wasn’t sure whether she expected me to be on the receiving end of her riding crop (or any of the other devices which hung from the wall), but I had no doubt that I would find out soon.

“Like her, lion-man?” she asked, looking me up and down like a horse she intended to buy. “Oh, I forgot — you’ve already shown us how much you like her.”

Xylara returned her attention to Alrynna, who continued to lie silently on the bench, her excitement evident only in her hurried breathing, and the slight shine of moisture on the distended lips of her pussy. Slowly and methodically, Xylara attached the cuffs at Alrynna’s wrists and ankles to straps at the foot of the bench, then cinched them down, holding her slave tightly against the leather-padded surface.

“You’d like this one, wouldn’t you?” she asked. “You’d like to fuck her, wouldn’t you?”

I remained impassive. With a fierce look, she brought the crop down on the back of Alrynna’s thighs, making her cry out and squirm again.

“Answer me, slave!” she barked, shaking the crop at me. “You want to fuck this bitch, don’t you? Answer me, or you’ll get some of this for yourself.”

I grimaced. “Yes,” I admitted.

“Yes, what?” she demanded, holding the crop up, as if to strike Alrynna again.

“Yes, I’d like to fuck her,” I said at last.

“And how would you like to fuck her?” Xylara’s soft hands ran up and down Alrynna’s back and thighs, scoring the white skin slightly. “Where would you like to put your cock into this little slut?”

I was getting the idea. “Anywhere the mistress wishes,” I replied.

This seemed to satisfy her. She turned away, leaving Alrynna panting harder as she lay against the bench, her limbs stretched tight and immobile. My gaze wandered back to Alrynna’s exposed ass, decorated with the evidence of Xylara’s attentions, and the quivering lips of her cunt, moist with excitement, below.

Xylara looked back at me for a moment, noting my erect cock, and selected a long, cylindrical object from the wall, decorated with low bumps and irregularities. She walked back toward Alrynna.

“Her ass, I think,” Xylara said, coolly, stroking Alrynna’s pale buttocks, first with sharp-nailed fingers, then with the dildo. “I think you should fuck her ass.” She put down the dildo, then moved back to the other end of the bench and pulled Alrynna’s head up by the hair. “You’d like that wouldn’t you?

“Yes, mistress,” Alrynna breathed, and I saw the sheen of perspiration glistening on her brow.

Xylara continued to hold Alrynna’s hair, and slapped her across the face.

“Louder, bitch!” she barked. “Tell me you’d like him to fuck your ass.”

“Yes, mistress,” the slave whispered. “I want him to fuck my ass.”

“Louder!” Another slap.

“Yes, I want him to fuck my ass, mistress!” Alrynna said, an edge of real desire in her voice.

“All the way? All the way up your ass? You want all of his cock inside you?”

“Yes, all the way. I want him to put his cock all the way up my ass, mistress. Please let him. Please.”

Again, it seemed enough. Xylara released Alrynna’s hair and moved back to the other end of the bench. From beneath it, she pulled a small earthenware crock, stuck in two fingers and withdrew them, coated with a shiny substance. This, she applied to the head of the dildo, then spread Alrynna’s ass cheeks and smeared more onto the puckered surface of her asshole.

She looked up at me as she did so. “Don’t feel guilty, lion-man,” she assured me. “This bitch loves it. She loves doing what I tell her to do, don’t you, slut?”

“Yes, mistress,” came the meek reply, trembling with tension and anticipation.

Xylara slid a finger into Alrynna’s asshole, and the slave’s body tensed.

“You can fuck her, lion-man,” Xylara said, “but there are rules. You’re not fucking her. She’s just the body. Remember, you’re really fucking me.” She slid her finger in and out, triggering another taut moan from Alrynna. “Think of how much you’d like to fuck me, how much you’d like to have your cock up my ass. Use her the way you’d use me. Don’t look at her. Look at me. Fuck me through her, lion-man.”

With that, she began to slip the dildo into Alrynna, slowly inserting its knobby head between her slick ass-cheeks, then easing it in a fraction at a time. Alrynna’s moans grew in intensity, and she strained against the leather restraints which held her.

“Like it, bitch?” Xylara demanded. “Say you like it.”

“I love it, mistress,” came the reply. “I love it when you fuck me...”

Xylara slapped a buttock, hard, then drove the dildo inside her. “The bitch loves it,” she assured me. “She loves me so much.”

Given Alrynna’s enthusiasm, I had a hard time doubting it. As noted, I’ve never been too excited about that particular form of lovemaking, but once more, if it was what they wanted...

Xylara alternated fucking Alrynna and slapping her ass for several more minutes, and I noted that the slave-woman’s cunt was sopping now, juices running down the white columns of her thighs. She rubbed heavily against the rough bamboo stroking her clit as her mistress slid the knobby dildo in and out of her asshole. Her cries rose in intensity, and I suspected that she’d come at least twice so far.

At length, Xylara left off, pulling out the dildo and dropping it to the floor. “We are ready for you, lion-man,” she said. “Put your cock inside her. Remember, that it’s me you’re fucking.”

With that, she stepped back, unlacing the crotch of her white garment, pulling it up to reveal her hairless cunt framed by milk-white flesh, and stepped onto the bench, pulling up what appeared to be a padded backrest (hell, did the thing have a built-in oven as well, I wondered?) as she did so, and positioning her thighs on either side of Alrynna’s black-maned head.

“She’ll lick me, now,” Xylara told me. “You fuck her ass, and she’ll lick my cunt. I’ll come for you, lion-man. Look at me and fuck me like you fuck her. Do it.”

I stepped forward, ready to do as asked. Alrynna’s face was busy between Xylara’s thighs as I spread her cheeks apart, and rubbed the head of my painfully erect cock at her well-lubricated hole.

“Put it in,” Xylara gasped, working her clit with her fingers. “Fuck my asshole now.”

I slid my way into Alrynna, listened to both women cry out, felt past the initial resistance, and thrust inside.

“All the way,” Xylara urged, voice fast and breathy. “Put your cock all the way inside.”

I was about half way in now, and both women urged me on. Slowly, I thrust further, watching the heavy shaft of my cock disappear inch by inch into Alrynna’s tight asshole. In a moment, I had penetrated all the way to the hilt, and I felt her tighten with another orgasm. Xylara cried loudly, and I suspected that she was coming, too.

She pulled up Alrynna’s head by the hair again, and slapped her once, twice, three times.

“Don’t look at this slut!” she cried as she struck. “Don’t look at her! You’re fucking me, remember! Me! Ahhhh... Suck me more, bitch...”

Without protest, Alrynna returned to her intense cunt-licking, and I began to fuck her asshole faster.

“Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me,” Xylara moaned, now almost entirely gone into incoherence. “Fuck my asshole. Put your cock all the way up my ass...” With another deep groan, she came once more.

Alrynna continued to hump herself against the bamboo (since my raspy tongue seemed to drive her wild, I suspected that the harsh surface was entirely to her liking), and her cries built up in intensity once more.

“Scratch my ass!” Xylara demanded, still writhing in orgasmic frenzy. “Use your beautiful claws on my ass...”

I obliged, once more careful, even in the throes of passion, to scratch but lightly and leave only long, pink welts. Alrynna’s cries turned into screams, but these were clearly of pleasure.

Xylara cried out amid the wrenching passion of orgasm. “Come on me,” she begged. “Come all over my ass. I want to see. Come for me...”

That was enough for me. I pulled out of Alrynna’s ass, and stroked myself to orgasm, jetting white semen across her heaving cheeks. Xylara cried out in pleasure, and I would swear she came again. Overwhelmed, I slid off and collapsed on the floor, letting my come drip down Alrynna’s thighs and watching as she brought her mistress to another orgasm before the Xeshite called a halt.

“Oh, well done, lion-man,” she sighed, and sat heavily at the foot of the bench. Alrynna remained strapped to the bench, still moaning and bringing herself off against the rough bamboo. “You do fuck well.”

“That,” I gasped heavily, “is the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“Perhaps we should see how else she can serve us?”

I glanced at Alrynna’s flushed face. She turned imploring eyes at me, full of desire and unexpended energy. I realized with an interesting mixture of lust and apprehension, that this had only been the warm-up. Our little slave girl could apparently go all night like a Litharnan lumberjack.

“That would be nice,” I replied.

***

Xylara and I washed off in an adjoining chamber. As usual, she did not touch me, though she played with herself for me again, leaving the first stirrings of my second erection lurking deep inside me before we returned to the main room, where Alrynna was still bound and (apparently) waiting eagerly for us.

“Miss me, sweet little slave?” Xylara asked, trailing her crop across Alrynna’s back and shoulders.

“Oh, yes, mistress,” Alrynna breathed. “I miss you so when you’re gone.”

“Miss my whip?”

“Yes, mistress.”

“Miss my fingers?”

“Yes, mistress.”

“Miss my tongue?”

“Oh, yes, mistress...”

“Miss my fist?”

That sent a shock through Alrynna’s body, and she sighed deeply.

“Oh, yes, mistress. I miss feeling your fist inside my cunt. Will you put your fist in me, mistress?”

Xylara chuckled, but did not reply, and returned to me where I stood nearby, my erection steadily growing, my mind still trying to comprehend the weird world I’d landed in.

“Suck him, bitch,” Xylara ordered. “Suck him well, and you’ll get what you want.”

Alrynna looked doubtful. “Mistress, no,” she said, fearfully. “He’s too big.”

For a moment, I thought she might be serious, then realized that this was all part of the act as well. Alrynna had already sucked the hell out of me, and hadn’t thought I was too big then. After a moment of concern, I relaxed and realized that both the women were well into their roles, and both enjoying the hell out of this.

Xylara slapped a hand across Alrynna’s ass. “Suck him, bitch. Suck his cock and make him come in your mouth. Suck him or you get nothing.”

“Please, mistress. I don’t want to. He’s too big. I want your fist in me.”

“Suck that cock of his, and you’ll get it, you little slut. Otherwise, I’ll give you to someone else.”

“Oh, no, mistress. I want to stay with you. I’ll suck his cock for you.”

“Good girl.” Xylara looked at me. “She’s a good little bitch when she wants to be.”

“Yes, mistress. I’m a good girl. I’ll suck him for you. Will you put your fist in me if I suck him?”

“Of course, if you’re good.”

“Will you?”

“Yes,” Xylara said, a trace of irritation slipping into her voice.

“Promise?”

“YES, I PROMISE!” Xylara bellowed, completely nonplussed. “Now shut up and suck him off! I swear you are the most troublesome slave I’ve ever had!”

“Yes, mistress. Will you punish me for being so troublesome?”

Xylara spoke slowly and deliberately. “Shut. Up. Alrynna.”

“Yes, mistress.”

Xylara had me position myself on the seat in front of Alrynna. She unfastened her slave’s wrists, allowing her to rise to her elbows, though her ankles were still shackled, her ass still fully exposed to Xylara’s tender mercies. As Xylara stepped behind Alrynna, the slave woman fixed me with a huge-eyed stare.

“I’ll suck you for my mistress,” she said, encircling my now-erect cock, tongue flicking out to lick up and down its shaft. “I’ll make you come for her.”

“You’d better, bitch,” Xylara said, her mistress persona now back in place. She’d donned a glove of what looked like calf-skin or some other extra-thin leather, supple and shiny, on her right hand. As I watched, she pointed her fingers and fitted them between Alrynna’s thighs. “Do it right, and I’ll give this to you.”

Alrynna finally took my cock in her mouth and began to suck, sliding me in and out with feverish enthusiasm.

“How’s she doing, lion-man?” Xylara asked.

“Just... fine...” I managed to grind out through clenched teeth.

“Good. Think she deserves a reward?”

“Oh... Yes... I think... so...” Heat spread from my cock through my belly as the sopping moistness of Alrynna’s eager lips enveloped me.

“Then I’ll give it to her. Ready...”

“Mmmm, mistressssssss,” breathed Alrynna, holding my cock and licking it up and down. Behind her, Xylara tensed, then thrust her hand into Alrynna’s cunt (at least I assumed that’s what she did; I couldn’t actually see it). Then the muscles in Xylara’s arm clenched, and I had a pretty good idea what she was doing. Alrynna shrieked as Xylara’s arm thrust into her, then returned to her impassioned sucking at my cock.

“Oh, she loves it, doesn’t she?” Xylara asked, more to herself than to me or Alrynna, as she pumped her arm in and out, with increasing force and speed. “She loves what her mistress does to her. She loves to be tied up and whipped, doesn’t she, my sweetest little love? She loves to have her cunt abused, doesn’t she? She loves to have cocks in her mouth, and loves the way they taste when they come all over her tongue. She loves her mistress’ fist inside her hot, tight little cunt, doesn’t she?”

As a matter of fact, she seemed to, for she sucked me with a level of enthusiasm I’d rarely encountered before, staring up at me with eyes full of devotion, her cheeks hollow, her body tensing and quivering each time her mistress’ fist thrust into her cunt. Gods, I wondered idly, where did these people come from?

I didn’t have long to wonder, for Alrynna’s talented mouth had me on edge in a few moments. Behind her, Xylara continued thrusting, and continued her narration, directed at me this time.

“Oh, you want to come, don’t you? You want to see that sweet little face drenched with your come, don’t you, you bastard? You son of a bitch, you want to fuck her face and come all over her. Well come now, hear me? Shoot your come all over that bitch’s face. Fuck her hard. Make her scream.”

Alrynna screamed pretty well at that, and I realized that she was coming with mind-numbing intensity. That was all it for me as well, for I came in copious quantities (damned lion-man physiology...), pouring semen into her mouth and all over her face, as requested.

“That’s right, lion-man,” Xylara continued, still thrusting her leather-covered fist into Alrynna’s sopping, contracting cunt. “Give the bitch all you have.”

I complied, disgorging a few more squirts of come, before I once more subsided to the floor. Gods, I thought, this is it, lion-man or no lion-man...

Part of me was actually a bit ashamed at this point, for playing in such a vulgar drama. On the other hand, both women seemed to like it, for Alrynna licked up what she could, and kept coming for another minute, while Xylara urged her on with a combination of fist-thrusts and a non-stop stream of obscenities. Finally, they seemed through, as well, and Xylara joined me on the floor, stopping first to unshackle Alrynna’s ankles, so that the exhausted slave woman could lie draped and unbound across the strange bench, breathing heavily and moaning, heedless of the white semen that still decorated her face and shoulders.

“Well done, lion-man,” Xylara sighed, lying a discreet distance from me, and still not touching me. “Very well done.”

***

I suppose it was best for my own health and sanity that we made port a few days later, before Alrynna and her mistress had a chance for another go at me. I spent the time in idle repose, wondering if I would live out my days as a lion-man slave to a decadent, sadistic noblewoman, doomed never to allow a male of any species to touch her. Gods, despite the generous work benefits, I wanted to go home.

But still I wondered — where was home, and would I recognize it when I got there?

We docked at Xesh City, a chaotic jumble of gray and white stone, an island midway between the sapphire-blue waters of the Lambian Gulf and the lush green ocean of jungle which covered the entire subcontinent. Various villages, fortresses, estates and other small settlements were scattered over two hundred leagues around the city, but Xesh itself was the jewel of its empire, a place of exquisite decadence, and elegant decay. It was like the setting of a Third Cycle Imperial operetta, but it was very, very real.

Houses, temples, warehouses, government facilities — all were built in an ornate, tasteless fashion, in blinding white or deep blue. Many had obviously been added to over centuries, with dozens of competing architectural styles. Sea monsters and dragons fought with elaborate geometric shapes or complex knotwork patterns in the Murvani style; bas reliefs of heroes stood side-by-side with faded frescoes and chipped mosaics. One structure was a stern assemblage of columns and lintels, while the next was a multi-tiered Kaitian-style pagoda or a Queshin revivalist fortress. Just looking at all the buildings gave me a headache.

And that was only the beginning. The Xeshites themselves were easy to spot — they were the ones doing absolutely nothing. Most were conveyed everywhere by slave bearers, and lounged on sedans, in carriages, or even massive couches carried by towering ogres or minotaurs. All affected a look of extreme boredom, as if nothing could possibly stir their jaded senses.

Xylara was an unusual Xeshite, in that she was an albino. Most were swarthy and black-haired, though I saw a number of blondes and redheads, and many more who had shaved their hair or dyed it strange colors. Dress was elaborate, expensive and impractical. Fanciful gowns in rainbow colors, revealing shifts or bodices, impossibly wide shoulders, shoes with heels or platforms so high that their owners would have had trouble tottering down the street without falling over. Hair was coiffed in dozens of styles, ringleted, woven, braided, coiled, waxed, lacquered, shaved, sculpted. Tattoos, rings in any part of the body capable of taking them, ritualistic scarification — it was all here, and during my brief sojourn through the city, I barely scratched the surface.

I attracted a good deal of attention, since apparently no one had ever had a lion-man slave before. Plenty of other races and species lived here as slaves, though — most flavors of humans, orcs, goblins, a few dwarves and wolfen, a very few elves, many throgs, ogres, minotaurs, nymen, and a handful of Kaitians, looking sad and miserable as cats doused in water. The entire nation was built on the labor and misery of slaves; should they ever disappear, Xesh would be devoured by the jungle.

And the jungle was all around, at best only barely hidden from sight. The air was hot and steamy, so thick you could cut a piece of it and save it for later. The oppressive paw of the jungle pressed in against Xesh’s walls, infiltrating every nook and cranny of the land and its people. Towering green stood all around us, and stretched off into the hazy distance.

Ogres carried Mistress Xylara and her favorite concubine, Alrynna. Beloved Chuma got to pad along behind, with the various other human slaves, mostly female, all chained, eyes downcast, overseen by spear-armed male guards. As we trooped through the city, others dodged swiftly out of our way — exiled and disgraced, Xylara still pulled a lot of weight, by all appearances.

We didn’t waste any time in Xesh proper. Later, I decided it was so that Xylara could minimize the chances of accidentally making contact with a male in sight of others, since apparently her relations with the rest of the family, except Nineh, had gone from bad to worse. Xylara directed our little caravan through the teeming streets, and to one of the city gates.

Outside, the gate opened onto a great muddy clearing of red-brown earth. Here, hired wagons and carriages were waiting. They were drawn by enormous lizards, driven by “friendly” jarreks (only kidding — a “friendly” jarrek is one who waits a few minutes before hitting you over the head with a club), and we endured a bumpy and uncomfortable ride down slippery jungle roads to a nearby river, where a massive barge lay moored to a dock.

“My private barge,” Xylara told me as I climbed painfully out of the wagon. She was still on her sedan chair, held aloft by expressionless ogres. “It will take us to the Moonpool.”

“Glad to hear it,” I replied, picking my way through the mud toward the docks. “Nice of you to speak to me, mistress.”

“It’s not a privilege I extend to most of my slaves, Chuma,” she said. “I usually don’t bother to call them by their names, either. You should be grateful for my attention.”

“Believe me, I am,” I said. “But please realize that I deeply resent myself or anyone else being owned like a piece of furniture. I know it’s not my place as a slave to say such things, but I really don’t care whether you punish me or not. I’ll never accept being a slave, no matter how long I remain one.”

She was silent for a moment, a number of expressions chasing each other across her milk-white face. Then she smiled a hard smile.

“Spirit,” she said. “I like it.” She struck one of the nearest ogres with a quirt. “Dock. Now.”

We embarked on the barge, and the ogres poled us out into the wide, muddy river.

Now, the jungle closed around us in earnest. Thick greenery grew to the river’s edge, often extending well out over the banks; in places trees had fallen entirely into the water. Birdsong and insect drone soared in a deafening chorus, and the heat seemed to redouble, despite the vast expanse of water all around us. I sat and panted, wondering what evil god had conspired to deprive lion-men of sweat glands.

We neared Moonpool just as the sun began to sink in golden-red-orange glory, a swollen mass on the horizon. Slaves were lighting torches as we drew up to the docks, and I got my first look at Countess Xylara’s private pleasure-palace.

Located on a low hill above the river, Moonpool was a round collection of fairy-tale towers and low domes, occupying a gravel-covered clearing about fifty yards from the dock. Slaves carefully tended stone enclosures containing flowers, cacti, and succulents, running the length of the pathway up the hill. A wrought iron gate provided access to the interior, and I gazed about in awe as we walked in. The towers, domes and pavilions were all crafted of some light, shell-like material, and all glowed from inside with warm yellow or exotic blue light. Some were dark, but were set with small chips of eish, a rare and expensive stone which absorbed light during the day, then shone brightly after dark. In the center of the complex, however, was the feature which gave the estate its name.

“The Moonpool,” Xylara said with a grand gesture.

A rocky, roughly circular depression lay before us, with the estate’s various structures rising above it. The depression was filled with water, varying from a few inches in depth around the edge, to perhaps twenty feet deep in the center. Mage-globes set at various points beneath the surface lit the entire pool to crystal clarity, revealing a wonderland of rocky spires, waving water-plants, and darting schools of colorful tropical fish, flashing like blue-red beacons in the night. As tired, homesick and world-weary as I was, I could not help gaping with amazement. An intangible quality surrounded the place, welling up like an invisible fog, surrounding me and touching forgotten parts of my heart and soul. I wasn’t entirely certain what the Moonpool made me feel, but it was something deep and dark and strange. I looked quickly away, lest I lose myself in its contemplation.

“It’s beautiful,” I said.

“Yes, isn’t it?” Xylara said, though I detected a dozen more unspoken thoughts behind the simple words. “Reach out and feel it, Chuma. It’s enchanted. Probably the most valuable of the family’s estates. Swim in the Moonpool and it takes away weariness and sorrow. Swim on the night of a full moon and your wounds are healed, your sicknesses cured.”

“Is that how you overcame your weakness as a child?”

She nodded. “Among other things. I think that father gave me the Moonpool to show his displeasure toward Thorvaz and Daeshi. They were both furious that I got the estate and they didn’t, but there’s nothing they can do about it.”

“I see.” I looked back at the Moonpool as darkness deepened; its depths vanished in shadow, and its mysterious depths seemed to go on forever.

***

Several weeks passed at the Moonpool before that sick little psychodrama entered its next act. As a pleasure-slave, I was pretty much allowed to do as I chose, save for when the mistress required my “services.” I explored the Moonpool estate and the surrounding jungle — always under the close observation of Xylara’s ogres, however. I contemplated a number of different escape schemes, but for the moment, I was content to stay where I was. The Moonpool was a magnificent estate, with carefully-manicured grounds, pleasant pavilions, plush bedrooms, paneled sitting rooms crammed with exotic and rare books, lush dining halls where slaves served endless parades of delicacies. Life was amazingly easy, though in the back of my mind, the human adventurer I once was champed at the bit and wanted to get the hell out and back into hardship, deprivation, and deadly danger.

Not that Xylara made things any easier. Her appetites had not declined one iota in the years since her father’s decree. If anything, they increased. She had me make love to Alrynna in every conceivable way — romantically, aggressively, violently, in numerous positions gleaned from Xylara’s vast collection of sex manuals, and in every possible orifice. All the time, Xylara watched, or participated as much as possible without actually touching me. Sometimes she wanted me to pretend I was making love to her, and order each act in painstaking detail. Other times, she was content to let me romp with Alrynna without any restrictions or oversight, while she watched and toyed with herself.

There were other slaves, as well — Xylara liked variety, though Alrynna was her unquestioned favorite. She tried me out with at least a half-dozen other females — a sleek Kaitian (an interesting experience, given that we were both of a feline persuasion, even though mine was not my original body), a blonde Cold Islander, a Veldt woman, and several more.

Still, it was cavorting with Alrynna and me which seemed to give Xylara the most pleasure. I suppose a wizard-sage (you know, the type who peers into your soul and then tells you that you hated your father and wanted to have sex with your mother, and then charges you 500 crowns) could have analyzed her obsessions and tendencies and come up with a picture of her twisted psyche, but the nearest wizard-sage was back in the White Empire, and I never received any formal training.

All I knew was that she seemed to live for sex. My guess is that it was one of the only things in her life which truly gave her pleasure, and which she felt she had control over, even if her precise partners were limited. She seemed to adore large cocks, and never stopped raving about the one my n’doro body came equipped with (I think this may have represented some repressed longing for the treacherous Parval; either that, or it was because she’d wanted to have sex with her father, or so a wizard-sage might have told her). Despite memories of her capture and humiliation before her father, she loved the thought of being come on, and had finally decided that, while she couldn’t actually touch a man, the results of a man’s orgasm didn’t count. On several occasions she had Alrynna jack me off while she kneeled a safe distance away and allowed my hot semen to splash across her face or breasts. Other times, she had me come on Alrynna, and licked it off.

And her strange, dominant love-play continued. Alrynna was always the target of her attentions in this area; I was apparently reserved as a back-up “master.” It’s not a role I relished, especially, since I have always preferred sex where everyone is equal and able to do whatever they want, but I accepted the role with good grace, realizing that it was nothing more than that — a role which I played, and which both Xylara and Alrynna went along with.

Now, you may think, “Gods, what a setup! Chief pleasure-muffin at a hot albino babe’s sex-palace! He can do anything he wants, and gets to fuck endlessly! Lucky bastard!” If you do, you’ve obviously never been a pleasure-muffin. Let me tell you, after a couple of weeks in service, the novelty really begins to wear off.

A few things kept life interesting. Delving into the minds of Alrynna and her mistress, for one — figuring out what went into making someone a voluntary slave, and someone else a mistress. For my money, sexual slavery seemed dull, while being master or mistress seemed like an awful lot of hard work. I obviously didn’t have the right mindset for that kind of lifestyle, I realized.

There were some surprises, however. My own assumptions about people like Alrynna ended up challenged when she informed me that she could stop Xylara’s whippings and floggings any time simply by asking. It was then that I realized Xylara and Alrynna’s dirty little secret — the fact of the matter was that Alrynna was in charge of whatever happened, and had the control to stop or alter it at any time. Xylara, the “mistress” was, in reality the individual being controlled. The slave received what she wanted, that is to say, pain from someone she loved (which, in Alrynna’s mind at any rate, was mixed up with pleasure and therefore largely indistinguishable), while the mistress was forced to provide it, and had to stop whenever asked.

I asked her one day while Alrynna and I relaxed beside the Moonpool (it did, indeed have the reputed restorative powers, which Xylara found a perfect aid to our marathon sexual encounters), “Who is the real slave here?”

Alrynna looked quizzical, sipping with slow sensuality from a glass tumbler full of fruit juice. We were both naked, but Alrynna wore a white leather collar decorated with silver rings, a complement to her pale flesh.

“Why, I am,” she said, all innocence and matter-of-factness. “I am slave, and Countess Xylara is mistress. She is your mistress, as well, though your commands supersede all save her’s.”

I glared at her. “Save the speech,” I told her. “Tell me the truth, Alrynna. Your ‘master’ orders it.”

“Hm.” She made a noncommittal sound. “If I refuse, will you punish me?”

I sighed (making a sound like a whale breaching, with my deep throat and heavy lips). “I can’t win with you, can I?”

“I guess you can’t, Chuma. I love you all the same.”

“I think,” I replied, thoughtfully, “that you just answered my question.”

With that I rose and without another word, dove into the Moonpool.

It was several days later that, after a surprisingly ordinary bout of bonking (I’d ended up bringing myself to orgasm while watching Xylara and Alrynna in a tight embrace, licking each other’s pussies and coming, repeatedly and loudly; despite my increasingly blasé attitude about our continuing sexual adventures, the sight of those two together could still get quite a rise out of me), Xylara dressed herself in a white silk robe, and summoned me to a private audience chamber nearby.

She seated herself in a plush chair, long hair unbraided and hanging around her like the wings of an angel, and bade me sit in a similar one nearby.

“You have performed well, Chuma,” she said.

I nodded. “Thanks.”

“I have a job for you.”

I was silent, waiting. The war of wills between us still continued, with neither of us giving ground but, in a grudging way, earning each other’s respect. If she didn’t want to break my spirit, neither did I wish to break her’s, and something resembling affection had even begun to grow despite my best efforts to the contrary.

“I’ve decided to send you out on loan to my sister, Nineh,” she said, finally. “We’ve remained in contact — father’s decree didn’t cover letters, and we sometimes trade favored concubines. It isn’t permanent, so you’ll be back here in a couple of weeks.”

I laughed briefly. “You have confidence in me, mistress,” I said. “How do you know I won’t take the opportunity to escape?”

“I don’t,” she replied, looking straight at me. “I’m asking for your word that you will not. I suspect that you are a man of your word. Or at least a lion-man. Besides, she’ll be at Emerald Grove, so deep in the jungle you’d have no place to run even if you did escape. Do I have your promise, then, that you won’t escape while in service to my sister?”

That took me by surprise, I must admit. It also made me realize that if I had seriously wanted to escape over the past few weeks, doing so would have involved only eluding a couple of bone-brained ogres, something which was well within my abilities. The fact is that I remained at the Moonpool because I enjoyed it here, the enervating nature of the sex notwithstanding.

“All right,” I said. “You have my word. I don’t rule it out at some later date, however.”

“I would be disappointed if you did, Chuma,” Xylara said. She clapped her hands and a pair of young slave-women appeared, dressed in cotton shifts, and began to braid her long hair. “You leave tomorrow. Go get some rest.”

With that, I left, in the uncomfortable realization that the next act of the drama was about to unfold.

***

A trio of surly Jarreks poled the barge along a sluggish spur of the Uyla River. I remembered that Xylara’s beloved villa once occupied a hill overlooking the Uyla, but one such rise resembled the next, and I had no idea which one it had been. We headed down the Sashim Flow, moving cautiously up the ever-narrowing stream. Two of Xylara’s ogres accompanied us, but they spent most of the time playing dice, spending about five minutes after each roll counting the little spots, then arguing over what number came after four. They were here mostly for show, since I’d already promised Xylara I wouldn’t escape, or possibly to ward off any hostile Jarreks we encountered, though this seemed an unlikely event.

At last, the spur narrowed to a shallow flow, barely wide enough to accommodate the Jarreks’ barge, and we tied up to a stone pier. The jungle was thick here, hanging over us with bright green menace. The birds were louder, too, and the insects thicker. My tail twitched this way and that, reflexively swatting flies, mosquitoes, and other pests. As I clambered off the barge, I bade the two ogres farewell.

“Yah,” grunted one. “‘ey! ‘At were a seven!”

“Nah!” barked his companion, “‘At were a nine!”

“What the ‘ell’s the difference?” demanded the first as the Jarreks began to pole back down the spur.

I grunted. No escort. What the hell, I’d walk...

With that I made my sweaty, grimy way up the slope to Emerald Grove, Countess Nineh’s estate. It was a low, rambling stone structure with numerous ornate shrubs, rock sculptures, courtyards and fountains, with several larger buildings dimly visible through the shadows in the trees. I approached the main gate, and noted a single throg on guard.

“Tell your mistress that Chuma is here,” I ordered as the hairy thing cast me a baleful glance, its yellow eyes rheumy and apathetic. It shuffled away , leaving me to wait at the gate. At length it returned.

“She’s in the main dining hall,” it husked, sounding tired. “Through the main doors and straight ahead.”

I left the creature at the gate, contemplating the unfairness of the gods which had made him an unsightly furball and me a picture of male feline pulchritude (he didn’t have to know it was all fake), and pushed through the main doors.

The interior was dim, lit indirectly with magic lanterns or small lamps. The floor was paved with an intricate abstract mosaic, the walls carved in complex knotted patterns. The scent of incense hung heavy in the air, and everywhere slaves hurried, padding quietly along on bare feet, flitting in and out of shadows.

The dining hall opened up before me, with a long bloodwood table, with elaborate, high-backed chairs, and I got my first look at the beloved and infamous Nineh.

“Welcome, Chuma.” Her voice was deep and rich, echoing off dark wood paneling and low-hanging copper lamps. “You certainly live up to my sister’s descriptions. Please forgive my rudeness in not sending an escort — our household is somewhat informal.”

I had to admit that Xylara did her justice. The only word which leapt to mind was “lush,” and I don’t mean in the alcoholic sense. My guess was she’d spent the past few years growing even lusher. Thick ringlets of silver blonde hair tumbled over an oval, gently sculpted face and wide blue eyes. Her lips were full and sensual, painted bright red.

She sat in a chair as lushly padded as she was. I found myself wondering how family rivals could ever have found her in any way corpulent, for the body she displayed to me, well contained within a bright red satin gown, looked like nothing less than a fleshy wilderness where one could get lost for weeks and never want to find the way home. Her shoulders were round and white, skin flawless. Her enormous breasts were soft mounts, vast and inviting, hanging over a rounded belly and wide, gently flaring hips. Of course, everything from shoulders down was concealed by the gown, but my imagination was working overtime. After weeks of the frail Xylara and her skinny maid, I was most assuredly in the mood for the company of a woman of substance.

“Thank you,” I said, “and if a slave may be so bold, your ladyship looks even more bountiful and beauteous than I had imagined, even after Countess Xylara’s descriptions.”

She laughed at that. “Xylara said you were insolent for a slave. She also said I couldn’t punish you, but you could make up for your misbehavior in other ways. Have you eaten? It is quite an honor for a slave to eat at this table, might I add.”

“I have not,” I said, seating myself near her. “And I do not consider myself a slave.”

Nineh sighed, shaking her head slowly. “Xylara is so lenient with her slaves,” she said, sadly. “But then, I think I see why she likes you this way.”

We ate for an hour, making small talk, with Countess Nineh treating me like an intimate rather than a piece of property, as nude slaves of both sexes brought each course on silver trays. Nineh chattered incessantly about nothing — who was sleeping with whom, what she had done when she was fourteen, minor changes in Xeshite fashion, how many dresses she owned, and so on. I was able to keep up, but I could feel my mind going as I did so. When the slaves had taken away the last course, and she stood to fix me with a lusty gaze, it was all I could do to keep from heaving a gigantic sigh of relief.

“So,” she said, “you know why you’re here, lion-man. Perhaps you can demonstrate your skill with that enormous cock that Xylara keeps mentioning in her letters.”

If I were human, I’d have raised my eyebrows. As it was, I twitched my ears and made a rumbling sound.

“It’s nice to be noticed,” I said. “And I’m happy to demonstrate if the mistress wishes.”

“Oh, my,” Nineh said. “You may be insolent in some things, lion-man, but you’re obedient where it counts. Go clean up first. I’ll have the slaves draw you a bath, then I’ll have them show you to the Aquamarine Chamber. That’s where I break in all my stallions.”

Gods, but her sense of the dramatic was a bit much, I thought, as a young man led me to the bath chamber, where I soaked for a half hour, got out, dried and combed myself (a number of slaves wanted to do it for me, but I was afraid they’d try to braid ribbons into my mane or something), and followed my slave-guide down several twisting corridors, past courtyards and gardens, through spacious hallways and atria, stopping at last to the arched entrance to a round, vaulted chamber, all painted — not surprisingly — aquamarine. The slave scuttled off at that, apparently not about to disturb the mistress at work. Oh, yes, I hadn’t bothered to dress. I hadn’t had a lot of clothing to begin with, and I suspected Nineh would have me out of them in a trice no matter what happened. I stepped naked into the Aquamarine Chamber.

Welcome, I thought, to your doom...

Nineh lay like a princess in the center of the room, which was entirely padded and upholstered, strewn with cushions and pillows, and hung with yards of deep blue and purple silk. It was brightly lit — so brightly, in fact, that I suspected sorcery, but didn’t bother to check for certain, so intent was I upon the luxuriant form of my new — if temporary — mistress.

She was naked save for a single string of pearls around her neck, and a silver anklet set with a small bell. Clothed she had been striking, but now she was nothing short of ethereal, looking for all the world like some corrupt and decadent foreign love goddess come to earth to teach man the lost secrets of sexual ecstasy.

Her silver-blonde hair cascaded down over creamy shoulders, only partially obscuring the rich fullness of her breasts, each a vast white pillow topped with a wide, pink nipple, seemingly covering a full third of each. Her belly was expansive and cushiony, but not grossly so — it and her wide but aesthetic thighs seemed entirely suited to the lavish opulence of the Countess’ body. All was pale, alabaster white, unmarred by blemish, freckle, birthmark, or any imperfection. It was as if she was a warm, living statue, carved from a single block of perfect ivory.

“You’re beautiful, your ladyship,” I said (not certain whether this was the proper form of address).

“Thank you,” she said. “And you are beautiful, too, lion-man. I’m glad that I still have such an effect on males, and that you appreciate me even after the fleshly pleasures of my sister and her slaves.”

She certainly did have an effect, for my erection sprang rapidly to prominence, rapidly reaching the point where I felt as if I had a third forearm projecting from my groin (no, I wasn’t quite that big, but it certainly seemed like it). Nineh saw it and her eyes widened.

“My, my, Xylara doesn’t exaggerate,” she said in mock-awe. “So big, my dear creature... Bigger than Gray, even. Poor, dear, Gray. Such a pity he didn’t check the river for dragon-lizards before crossing...”

She seemed lost in thought for a moment, then at last laid back, legs slightly apart, and stared at me with wicked eyes, crooking her finger and beckoning.

“I’ll bet you don’t think I can get that entire cock in my mouth,” she whispered. “I’ll just bet you don’t.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Alrynna had managed it several times, but only approached her, proffering the object in question for her closer inspection.

“Oh, yes...” she seemed lost in admiration, staring closely at my cock, now getting even stiffer. She touched it lightly, running her fingers up and down its length.

“So hard, too,” she said. “Oh, I imagine you’re carrying quite a load in that, aren’t you?”

My problem is that I simply don’t know how to respond to comments like that. I remained silent, marveling at how silly she sounded.

She took the lead, and a moment later, I was lying on my back, with Nineh between my legs, worshipping my cock with a feverish intensity.

“Oh, my.” She stroked with both hands, then ran her soft, tongue up and down it, leaving a slick trail behind. “It’s so beautiful.”

I was almost embarrassed at the attention, but decided not to say anything, simply abandoning myself to the sensation of her light fingers and hungry mouth. Her lips grazed my hot flesh, then gently kissed my cock’s swollen tip.

“It’s so beautiful,” she repeated, softly. “It’s the biggest I’ve ever seen...”

From what I’d heard of Nineh’s history, I strongly doubted whether that was the truth, but I suppose it’s the sort of thing that most men love to hear (I’d always been of the strong opinion that it wasn’t the size of the scimitar that mattered, but rather how well one cut with it, but that’s as maybe).

Still purring endearments, she fitted her mouth around my cock and slowly slid it in, slid it out, then swallowed again, each time a little bit more vanishing between her bright red lips. She took more time than Alrynna, slowly savoring what Xylara’s slave had eagerly devoured — it wasn’t better or worse, but it was certainly different.

Normally, I wouldn’t say that there was much in cocksucking for the average woman, but I’ve run into enough women who enjoyed it to doubt that conclusion. I think that most women are naturally empathic, and feed off the pleasure they give. This certainly seemed to excite Nineh, who alternated swallowing my prick, then flicking her tongue across its head and down its length, spreading hot saliva as she did so.

While Alrynna favored racing to the top and pushing her victims off the cliff, Nineh built slowly, making her way to the peak slowly, stopping to watch the scenery as she did so. Her ministrations sent me into a haze of heart-pounding excitement, building slowly toward release, then letting me down slowly. I felt myself clenching a nearby cushion, claws involuntarily unsheathing, scratching deep rents in the fabric.

Then she hauled herself up, spit a thick gobbet of saliva onto my shaft and thrust it between the pillowed mounds of her breasts, still moaning incoherently. As the hot softness enveloped me, my own meaningless growls escaped my throat, sensation washing over me in steadily-increasing waves. She breast-fucked me for several minutes, leaving off occasionally to tug on my shaft, flick her tongue along it, slick it up with her spit and mutter quiet endearments.

“You’re so big,” she whispered. “I want that in my cunt so badly... I want you to fuck me with it...”

She didn’t oblige herself in this request for another few minutes, bringing me along, squeezing me between her breasts, toying with her own nipples, lapping at my cockhead, lubricating it with more saliva, until she finally fell onto her back, spreading her legs apart, revealing the soft gold of her cunt-hair and the rich pinkness beneath.

“Fuck me,” she hissed. “Oh, please, put that cock in me. I’ve never had such a big cock in me before... I want it...”

With urgings like that I didn’t have to consider her request for long, and so positioned myself atop her, cockhead resting at the portals of her pink, fleshly depths. I could feel the heat rising off her; I was damned hot, too, but like all other lion-men, I had to work it off by panting. It only added to her excitement, and she smothered my black muzzle with wet kisses, crying out impassioned exhortations.

“Put it in, Chuma... Put it all the way in...”

Well, I figured if she took her time with me, I’d return the favor. Besides, I didn’t want to hurt her...

I slowly pushed past the opening of her cunt, feeling rich moist flesh open before me, a warm and welcoming hotness urging me to thrust deeper.

“Oh!” She cried. “Oh, yes!” She licked my face frantically, then fell back, surrendering her body to the insistent thrusting of my cock, licking her lips, spittle streaming uncontrollably from a corner of her lips.

Slowly, slowly, her cunt opened for my cock, deeper and deeper, taking its enormous length up to the hilt. She was soaking, so my second thrust went faster and easier, as did my third, fourth, and the subsequent two or three hundred.

Nineh wailed at my continued thrusts, gripping a pillow, sharp painted nails digging furrows as my own claws had a few minutes before.

I thrust faster, and she caressed her own breasts, squeezing nipples between bright red fingernails.

“Oh, oh, oh, oh!” (Her dialog was a bit repetitive, but she didn’t seem too worried about it.)

I reached down and held my cock steady as it thrust in and out; she helped, spreading her pink cuntlips, toying with her clit, which now swelled alarmingly, nearly the size of her own small finger.

“Oooh, Oooh. Aah, aah. Ahhhhhhh...”

Part of me felt that she needed more varied cries of passion, but I was one to talk, since most of my noises had been incoherent grunts and growls.

Her cries rose to a shriek, and she bucked and heaved, breasts bouncing hard, belly heaving, cunt contracting. She came hard, and very loud.

I wasn’t about to finish, mind you. I pumped her to a second, then third, orgasm, then pulled out, moving astride her, pillowed by her massive, undulating breasts, grabbed her hands and placed them on my cock (there was more than enough room for both of them). Taking my lead, she pumped at the great organ, still slick with her spit and cunt-juice, pulling hard. My own groans grew in intensity, then she opened her mouth, extending her tongue beneath the head of my cock.

“I want you to come,” she gasped. “I want you to come now...”

That ended the matter with great finality, and I unleashed a torrent of white come across her tongue and lips. She took it, grinning delightedly, rubbing my long and now somewhat flexible cock across her cheeks, smearing semen all over her face and shoulders.

“It’s beautiful,” she sighed. “It’s so beautiful.”

“So,” I replied, panting and falling like a redwood, “are you, dearest Countess. So are you.”

That wasn’t the end of matters, not hardly. After a brief respite, Nineh asked me if my recuperative powers were as amazing as Xylara had said in her letter. Since I was getting hard again, there was no way I could deny it, so she responded by summoning two more male slaves, who began to take her with practiced ease. I played along, and we ended matters with each of us in one of her major orifices, sending her over the brink into a dozen more orgasms or so before coming violently ourselves. Overwhelmed, Nineh dismissed the two male slaves (never did catch their names) before curling up against me and dropping into a deep sleep, where I soon joined her.

***

Dawn rose pink and gold over the jungle, though only a bit of it managed to filter through the thick vegetation. I breakfasted with Nineh in a private salon overlooking a round courtyard, bright with flowers and green with carefully-manicured shrubs. A pair of slaves tended the plants, carefully snipping, pruning and weeding as we watched.

Nineh probably came by her lush physiology honestly, but I suspected that her diet didn’t help matters. Breakfast was a wilderness of rich foods, from scrambled ostrich eggs, buttered biscuits, thick gravy, mounds of crisp bacon, pancakes, and a few jungle fruits (thrown in, I imagine, simply for color). She ate ravenously, and after the previous day’s exertions, I did the same. I found myself thinking that if she needed to eat so much to maintain her luxuriant body, I wasn’t about to stop her. Epicureanism seemed to be the rule in Xesh, rather than the exception.

“Ahhhh,” she sighed, letting the fruit from a red-orange fruit I couldn’t immediately identify dribble down her chin (to be sopped up by a nearby slave — gods, these people were excessive...). “You are a marvel, Chuma. You certainly live up to Xylara’s descriptions... I would try to buy you from her, but I doubt whether she’d sell. Believe me, I could provide you with quite a life here, lion-man.”

And, I thought, after a few months of life with Nineh I’d be one butterball of a lion-man. Of course, Nineh would probably end up working all the rich food off me in any event, much like her dear sister had.

“I don’t know if I’d be a satisfactory slave, Countess,” I said. “I tend to be a bit overly familiar and don’t act with the proper respect. You’d probably have to beat me to keep me in line, but that would only make things worse.”

She laughed. “Does my sister beat you, lion-man? I know she enjoys inflicting pain.”

I shook my head, shedding a bit of hair onto her eggs, which she daintily picked away. “Only on the willing,” I replied. “I think she likes to watch me be master to her female slaves.”

“Oh, dearest Xylara... Getting around father’s decree any way she can, is she? I love her so. Damn that father of mine and his stupid orders! By all the gods, if I were in charge of this cursed family I’d lift his decree soon enough!”

“You miss her?” I was actually surprised that the decadent Nineh had any place in her sex-besotted heart for sentiment.

Nineh plucked a peach from a bowl of fruit in front of her.

“Oh, I do miss her. Very much.” She delicately nibbled at the fruit, white teeth and pink tongue flashing. “I miss her laugh, I miss her voice.” She took a healthy bite, juice splashing across her lips and chin. “But I miss her body most of all. No!” This last was directed at the slave who stepped forward to sop up the juice. “I like it this way. It makes me think of her.” She closed her eyes and licked at the exposed flesh of the peach. “Her beautiful white skin, her little breasts. Gods. Such sensitive nipples she has.” She took another juicy bite out of the fruit. “And that lovely pink cunt... Oh, Chuma. You poor thing, being so close to my sister and never being able to touch her. Believe me, she’s a luscious little thing for all her weakness and frailty. And she comes so well, Chuma. Ah, I’m sure you’ve seen that.”

I nodded. “She seems fond of watching.”

“I know. She pretends it’s her you’re making love to. The poor dear. Father was such a monster. None of us liked him much, except Nyxra — the silly little chit never noticed what a bastard he was.”

She stretched and finished off the peach, sucking the last bit of pulp from the pit before spitting it into a slave-proffered silver bowl.

“Xylara, now... Beloved little sister. She’s learned so well. She seems to enjoy herself even if she can’t touch men. Not that men are all that necessary. I’ve always found women much more stimulating.”

“Even more so if they’re related, eh?” I asked.

She cast me a black glance. “You are quite the smart-ass, aren’t you, slave? Pity Xylara told me not to punish you. The fact is, yes, making love to my little sister was exciting, but there’s more to it. Men are entertaining, yes, with their versatile little organ and their strong hands and their long tongues. I wouldn’t give them up for anything. But given the choice, I’d rather spend time with women. We have so much more to talk about.”

“I’m pleased to hear that my gender is so stimulating,” I said, sourly.

“Oh, did I hurt the kitty’s feelings?” Nineh asked sarcastically. “Xylara said I couldn’t beat you, but she didn’t say I couldn’t make sport of you. Now, hold your tongue, male, and listen.”

It was an admonition which I’d frequently heard from women of my acquaintance, and it usually meant, “Shut up, let me run down men as a group, and don’t object or you’ll prove you’re like all the others.” I sighed again.

“Xylara so enjoys inflicting pain. I think that it excites her more when the other person wants it. I have some interests in that area myself, though I like being punished as much as I enjoy punishing.”

It came as absolutely no surprise. We spent the morning chatting, mostly about sex, which was an even greater obsession for Nineh than for her sister. I finally came to agree with Xylara that it was all that mattered to her.

Morning climbed toward noon, then slid down into afternoon. After breakfast Nineh allowed me to creep off by myself, and I spent several hours reading in her library. She summoned me to the salon for a late lunch, which we ate over more conversation, until finally Nineh looked up into the sky.

“See, Chuma,” she said. “The clouds gather.”

The afternoon cloudburst was building, when it seemed as if all the heat of the day gathered into one point and exploded into a flood of warm rain. Already the first fat droplets began to splash down upon the courtyard, making great wet splotches on the pavement, and on the broad leaves of the plants.

She stood, shedding her red silk dressing gown, and standing naked before me, the pale white expanse of her luscious body once more welcoming my gaze.

“Come with me, Chuma,” she said, huskily. “Share this with me.”

I followed her through the glass doors and out into the courtyard, where the rain beat an ever-increasing rhythm, turning the plants and the path underfoot wet and shiny. In a moment, my pelt was soaked, and it didn’t do my mane much good, either.

Nineh turned, spreading her arms, tilting her head back, letting the rain plummet down on her, saturating her blonde hair, plastering it to her head, beading up on her shoulders, running down to drop off her hardening nipples.

“Come, Chuma,” she demanded. “Fuck me like the first storms of summer.”

A bit overly ornate and poetical, I thought, but I wasn’t in any position to be a literary critic. I stepped forward with long strides and swept her up in my arms, holding her close, fitting my short muzzle to her face, slipping my rough tongue between her lips, feeling her tense and tremble against me as warm rain pounded down, harder and harder.

“Take me,” Nineh cried. “Take me among the flowers...”

Gods, I thought, what kind of drivel does this woman read?

I lifted her up then, and deposited her, as she requested, on the rich loam, beneath the variegated colors of the undergrowth. My heart pounded, my cock grew uncomfortably erect — Phaedra’s Tits, I’d have thought that Xylara and Alrynna had managed to milk the last few drops of lust out of my body, and here I was, ravishing my mistress’ sister beneath fanflowers and philodendron, rain pouring down to drench us both.

As she cried out incoherently, I shoved Nineh’s thighs apart and thrust my face between them, beneath the downy softness of her pubic hair, my tongue rasping her mons, forcing apart the soft lips of her vulva. As with Alrynna, the rough surface didn’t seem to bother her, and as I pushed a finger into her, claws carefully sheathed, she moaned louder, urging me on.

I licked feverishly, feeling the tiny nub of her clitoris spring up, then stroked it with one finger, feeling her body convulse and contract. For all the sex she was reputed to have had in her life, she certainly didn’t seem jaded by it all — rather, the more she got, the more she seemed to want. I alternated licking and stroking, watching with fascination as her clit swelled and honey dripped from her distended lips, sending her crashing over the top into a deafening orgasm.

“Take me!” she cried, wave after wave of churning through her, water pouring down from the plants above, her white flesh streaked with mud and loam. “Fuck me now... I need you to fuck me now...”

With that, I moved up, both of her legs moving to rest on my shoulders, spread her lips wide, and slid my cock into her. Sopping once more, my cock met only minimal resistance, sinking all the way into her moist and heaving cunt. I bumped heavily against her clit, sending her into another mind-numbing wave of orgasms, then thrust repeatedly, feeling her cunt squeeze around me as I did so.

She made strangled noises, rising in to a crescendo each time I thrust in. Her fingers kneaded her massive breasts, squeezing her erect nipples to hard pink knobs, smearing more dark mud across her. The distended kettledrum of her belly rose and fell each time she came. We seemed to be completely transported, writhing and coming in a separate bubble of hot rain, bobbing leaves and rich loam.

“Come!” She moaned, barely able to grind the word out of her clenched throat as her back arched, her belly strained upward, her breasts rising up, streaked with water and mud. “Come now!”

Nineh seemed to have an endless capacity for orgasms — I, on the other hand, could only have one at a time, and I had been climbing up a slope to explosion for several minutes now. At last, as her cunt once more squeezed my cock, and I felt poised on her very innermost depths, I let loose a torrential orgasm, as she continued to cry out, mouth open, rain continuing to pour down on both of us.

I held her close, feeling orgasms continue to wrack her, then pulled out as aftershocks rumbled through her body. We were both soaked and a muddy mess, but I didn’t particularly care. Above us, the rain began to slacken as the afternoon downpour gave way to twilight, and the steady drip-drip of the vegetation slowed.

“Gods, Chuma,” Nineh said, her voice heavy with exhaustion. She lay in a sated, voluptuous heap, heedless of the mud and dirt which streaked her breast, belly, thighs, and face, legs still spread slightly, semen and her own juices leaking gently from her cunt. “I see why Xylara loves you so...”

Even in my worn-out state, her words took me aback.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Loves me?”

She smiled. “Ah, I’ve let the bristle-worm out of the cocoon, haven’t I? I probably shouldn’t have told you, but she has mentioned more than a passing affection for you in her letters. Hm, it seems my hot-blooded sister is growing soft... Sentimentality for slaves is a dangerous thing.”

I would have replied, but as I rolled over and sat up, I chanced to look up to the roof of the salon behind us. That chance saved both of us; a shadowy figure moved there in the late afternoon dim — a figure which raised its arm and began to throw...

“Look out!” I bellowed, hauling Nineh’s nude, recumbent body out of the way, rolling to the side with her, just as a heavy, narrow-bladed spear streaked through the humid air and buried itself in the loam where she had been lying.

“What?” Outrage, then fear flashed across her sleepy features, then she screamed.

“Get inside!” I ordered, grabbing the spear and bounding toward the salon. My fatigue vanished as shock swept through my body, compelling me to action. My enhanced body hadn’t gotten a good workout in weeks, but even so I gathered myself and sprang in a single leap, to the flat roof of the salon, spear at the ready.

A dark-clad man stood there, staring in sudden fear. His face was painted black and green, and a brace of daggers hung from his belt. After an instant of indecision, he seized the daggers and flung himself at me, slashing and stabbing.

As a human, I might have been in trouble (I tend to run away from assassin types — they often carry poisoned weapons), but as Chuma the n’doro, I was a pretty dangerous customer. I parried his thrust, knocked aside his second dagger with the backstroke, then drove the spear home, impaling the poor bastard before he even knew what was happening. I kicked his twitching body off the spear, then quickly scanned the roofs of the villa, looking for other attackers. I saw one other, frantically climbing down and attempting to flee into the jungle.

I roared involuntarily (my old lion-man hunting instinct kicking in) and sprinted over the roof , crashing down into the undergrowth just behind my quarry. He cast a single, terrified glance back at me. I must have looked like an apparition risen from hell to him — a heavily-muscled, bipedal lion, naked and plastered with mud, face contorted into a snarl of rage, a bloody spear clasped in one hand — for he shrieked once, then fled headlong. In his haste, he tripped over a root and went sprawling. My battle-rage, which I had felt before when I fought the snake-daemoness, spurred me onward. Without hesitation, I jammed my spear into the fallen man’s back (as a human, I’d probably have tried to capture him, but what the hell, I was a savage...), then crashed into the jungle in the direction he’d been running.

My n’doro senses, so long dormant, returned to me as I dashed into the murky green darkness beyond. A thousand smells and a million sounds assaulted me, plunging me into a wild mosaic of sensations. Ahead, I heard human voices, speaking in what they thought to be low, surreptitious tones. I smelled human, too, and something else, unfamiliar and strange. A moment later, I burst into a nearby clearing, and the following scene presented itself.

A half-dozen or so lightly-armored humans stood, in various aspects of shock and surprise, standing dumbly, drawing weapons. One of them drew a longbow and loosed an arrow at me; I flung myself aside and the arrow buried itself in a tree with a woody “thunk!”

Beyond the warriors stood a tall, pale woman with long black hair, clad in a traveling cloak, staring at me in sudden horror. A few yards away, four hippogriffs stood tethered to trees, looking at me with only minimal interest, and possibly mild hunger.

I raced at the humans and slashed with my spear. An instant later, two of the six were dead, including the bow-shooter. A third sprang at me, scimitar spinning. I ducked and gutted him, leaving him to writhe, screaming, among the underbrush. The fourth died, throat slashed, gouting blood, while the last two ran, throwing down their weapons, and fled, panicked, into the jungle.

The woman was my quarry now. My human brain fought animal instincts, demanding that I take her alive. Even as she ran back, desperately trying to reach the tethered griffins, now bucking and shrieking, scenting blood in the air, I crouched and leaped, dropping my spear, grabbing her and flinging her to the ground, pinning her shoulders.

Our eyes met, frosty violet and bestial black. Her skin was deathly pale, stitched with a delicate tracery of blue veins. I realized that I knew her.

“Lady Daeshi, I presume,” I snarled, teeth gnashing. “Give up if you want to live!”

Her face softened, and she spoke, a high and distant voice like cracking ice.

“You have the advantage of me,” she said. “I seem to have no choice...”

Perhaps it was the tone of her voice, perhaps it was a brief flicker in her eyes, perhaps my lion-man senses warned me of danger, but whatever the cause, I was able to whirl around, claws extended, to slash violently at the warrior who had crept up behind me, dagger poised. It was one of fighters who had fled, and he fell, clutching a slashed abdomen, a bloody mess. I’d seen people die of such wounds, and it wasn’t pleasant; I finished him with a slash across the throat, then turned back on Lady Daeshi, who was once more attempting to reach the hippogriffs.

Another slash across her shoulder rent flesh, caused her to fall, screaming in pain and shock. I grabbed her by the throat, and held her up at full arm’s length, her feet dangling two feet above the ground.

“Try that again, My Lady,” I growled, “and you’ll lose that arm. Now, we’re going back to Nineh’s villa and discuss matters.”

Daeshi’s eyes were defiant.

“Put... me... down...” she snarled. “I... order you... Slave!”

Rage surged through my veins and I roared in anger, flinging Daeshi like a toy, to crash against a tree. The hippogriffs screamed and tugged at their tethers, but did not attack.

She was alive, but barely conscious. I scooped her up and carried her back toward the villa. I wasn’t about to be gentle — we needed answers, and needed them now.

***

We tied Daeshi to one of Nineh’s dining room chairs (the weeks with Xylara helped a lot here — my knowledge of knot-tying had grown immeasurably) and waited for her to return to consciousness. Nineh, wrapped in a pale lavender dressing gown, looked on with concern and indignation, and as soon as Daeshi’s eyes flickered open, immediately shouted angrily.

“Trying to kill me, are you, sister?” she demanded. “I always knew you were a cunt, Daeshi — now I know you’re a treacherous cunt as well!”

Though clearly in pain, Daeshi retained her composure.

“I’m scarcely in a position to defend myself, Nineh,” she replied, softly. “And as for cunts, I am only too happy to defer to your expertise in that area.”

Storm clouds billowed in Nineh’s face, and she slammed Daeshi across the face with an open palm, drawing blood.

“Fucking bitch!” she shrieked. “I’ll hand you over to my throgs and let them teach you some respect! Then we’ll see how gods-damned defiant you are!”

I placed a hand on Nineh’s shoulder and gently pushed her back. Anger and wounded dignity were understandable, but hardly constructive.

“Wait,” I said. “We need to know what’s going on here.” I looked at Daeshi. “You weren’t born yesterday, Countess,” I continued. “You know what Nineh’s capable of doing to you. I need to know what’s going on.”

Daeshi smiled sourly. “As I said before, I don’t have much choice in the matter. If Nineh promises not to kill or injure me, I’ll tell you what you want to know.”

I cast a silent inquiry at Nineh.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t sell her to the Jarreks,” she said, in a low voice full of malice. “They’d put her to good use.”

“We need to know,” I said. “Punishment can wait.”

Nineh locked gazes with Daeshi and very deliberately spat in her face.

“You have my promise, you whore,” she said. “I won’t kill you or injure you, nor will any of my slaves, servants or employees. Fuck you.”

Daeshi’s smile remained unchanged. “I knew you’d see reason, sister.” She turned her gaze to me. “As you seem to be the most rational individual here, I’ll tell you what you want to know. Since you know me, I suppose you’re also familiar with my brother, Thorvaz?”

I nodded.

“It seems he’s weary of waiting for the rest of us to die. He wants to be undisputed patriarch. I think that father’s last little practical joke sent him over the edge.”

“So he’s killing off the other siblings?”

“Oh, Nyxra and Kyric are dead already. Our brother took a nasty fall off a roof while he was drunk. I told Thorvaz that he needn’t worry — the stupid fool was bound to kill himself eventually, without any help, and I was right. In any event, Kyric and Nyxra are dead, and Tysha renounced her inheritance long ago when she pledged herself as vestal to Phaedra — probably the smartest thing she could have done under the circumstances. That left Thorvaz, myself, Udra, Nineh, and Xylara. Dear Thorvaz knew Xylara hated his guts and would never go along with him, and that you were her closest friend in the family, but he managed to persuade Udra and me to give up our claims and endorse him as patriarch —”

“How’d he manage that?” I asked. “You don’t strike me as the type to give up on absolute power that easily.”

Daeshi shrugged as best she could against her bonds.

Nineh snorted. “He probably found out that you were letting half the men in Clan Yamazz bugger you.”

For a moment, Daeshi’s reserve cracked, and a look of dismay flickered in her eyes.

“Oh, I know, sister,” Nineh said. “I’ve known for years. If it ever got out you were associating with those bastards, Thorvaz would have to banish you, or worse... Now, can’t you see what a magnanimous sister I’ve been all these years? Imagine, trying to kill me after I’ve been so kind?”

After a second, Daeshi returned to her normal, emotionless poise. “In any event, Udra has no interest in running the family, so Thorvaz offered her unlimited funds and facilities for her sorcery, and me, he... As my sister here suggests, he persuaded me rather forcefully to go along. We decided to dispose of both Nineh and Xylara, leaving us in sole control of the family. Thorvaz retains his old reluctance to openly murder family members, so we were to make Nineh’s murder look like the work of Jarrek raiders. That spear you used so handily on my bodyguard is a Jarrek weapon — it was to be left sticking in Nineh’s body.”

“Fucking bitch,” Nineh repeated under her breath.

“What about Xylara?” I barked, suddenly alarmed.

“Hm. You’re her toy, aren’t you?” Daeshi asked. “Such loyalty in slaves is quite endearing, lion-man.”

I refused to be baited. “Never mind that. What’s going to happen to Xylara?”

“Oh, Thorvaz and Udra are leading a band of mercenaries to the Moonpool. Udra’s going to use magic to kill Xylara and her household. Thorvaz was going to claim that both murders were the work of the Jarrek tribes, and call for another great crusade against them. That way he gets rid of his troublesome sisters and becomes a great military hero of Xesh at the same time.”

“Just like father,” Nineh grumbled. “Gods rot his soul.”

“I couldn’t agree more, sister,” Daeshi said. “Please believe me, I never disliked you. I’m only here because Thorvaz forced me to be.”

“My heart swells with love and forgiveness,” Nineh said, flatly.

I ignored them both. “Udra’s using magic?” I asked.

Daeshi nodded. “She’ll tap the magical energy from the Moonpool itself. You probably know that it’s magic is most powerful on a full moon night. Tonight is a double full moon — the magic will be enormous, and Udra will turn it against Xylara.”

Damn! A double convergence! I’d been away so long that I hadn’t bothered to keep track of the calendar. It was the sort of thing that happened only once every decade or so.

“There’s still time to stop him,” I said, partially to myself. I stood, fighting the fatigue which dragged at me after my passionate afternoon of fucking, and the soul-breaking strain of deadly combat. “Keep her here, Nineh,” I told her. “I’ll take one of the hippogriffs to the Moonpool and warn Xylara.”

“I wish you luck, lion-man,” Daeshi said. “My fondness for my brother has declined greatly over the past few years.”

Nineh cast her a black glance.

“Now, now, sister,” I heard Daeshi caution as I stalked out of the room, “remember your promise.”

***

A hippogriff is a tricky thing to ride, these were especially ill-tempered, disliked me thoroughly because I smelled like a lion, and the fact is that I’m afraid of heights. Other than that, I had a lovely flight back to the Moonpool. I’d armed myself as best I could with scavenged weapons — several Jarrek spears, a longbow and arrows, two scimitars. None of the attackers’ armor fit me, of course, so I was in my usual robust garb of a simple loincloth and leather baldric.

Nineh had provided me with a map, which I clung to like grim death, despite the wind whipping at my face as we soared on the thermals and sudden downdrafts that erupted from the moist jungle below in the climatic chaos of early evening. The sun had not quite reached the horizon when I departed Emerald Grove, so I had perhaps an hour of daylight left, though in the jungle night fell like a shroud with little or no twilight. If I didn’t get back to the Moonpool before the sun vanished I’d be flying blind.

Brown ribbons of rivers crisscrossed the rich carpet of green jungle. Occasionally flocks of white birds erupted from their depths, winging toward their roosting places. A few Xeshite settlements and estates lay along the various rivers, torches and watchfires beginning to glow (and probably a bunch of Xeshites wondering what kind of an idiot would ride a griffin this close to sundown).

Slowly, the sun sank in red-gold glory toward the horizon. Nineh’s map was barely visible, but I estimated that the Moonpool was close. An ocean of blue-black now stretched from horizon to horizon, and below me, clinging to a shallow bend in the river was the now-familiar circular estate, the glowing depths of the Moonpool itself in the center.

Shaking with relief, I guided the hippogriff downward in the swiftly-gathering darkness. It squawked, shrieked and protested, and I had to prod it with a goad before it finally cooperated, folding its wings and falling into a stomach-wrenching dive, finally pulling up just short of the ground and landing heavily, casting a hateful glance back at me.

The hippogriff had just about given up on me. I grabbed at its bridle in order to tether it, and it struck at me, its great beak stabbing like a spear. I didn’t have time to fight with the stupid beast, and so only turned and dashed toward the nearby estate, now beginning to glow with warm yellow and eerie blue light. The hippogriff snorted briefly, and took to the air, apparently weary of its life as another piece of Xeshite property.

I bounded into the compound, surprising a couple of ogre sentries, who fortunately recognized me.

“It’s cat-boy,” grunted one. “Didja have fun?”

“Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh,” said the second.

“Take me to Xylara!” I demanded. “This place is going to be attacked!”

“That won’t be necessary,” said a voice, and Xylara stepped out of a nearby structure, hastily tying her robe shut. “What the hell are you talking about, Chuma?”

“Your stupid maniac brother,” I said, hastily. “He had Daeshi try to kill Nineh, and now he and Udra are heading here to kill you. They plan to blame it all on the Jarreks.”

To my astonishment, Xylara seemed completely unsurprised.

“After all these years...” she said, softly. “So, my brother and I are finally going to bring this comedy to a conclusion.”

“We’ve got to get out of here,” I urged. “Udra is planning to tap the Moonpool and use sorcery. You don’t have enough guards here to fight them both!”

Xylara stood in silence. Three more ogres wandered out of the shadows, looking slightly confused.

“Did you hear me, Xylara?” I said, my urgency increasing. Behind me, the two moons grew visible in the blue-black sky, and their silver radiance lit the compound, casting weird shadows. “You’ve got to run. We can go to Emerald Grove and figure out what to do.”

“No,” Xylara said at last. “I’m not running. I’ll stay and end it — either Thorvaz will die or I will. Either way, my curse will be ended. I can’t live any longer in the shadow of my father and how Thorvaz betrayed me.” She snapped a steely glance at the nearest ogre, her red eyes reflecting back the blue light of the Moonpool and the silvery luminescence of the two moons. “Skar! How many ogres are on duty?”

Skar considered this, counting slowly on his fingers. “One... two... three... four... Uhh, what comes after four?”

“Never mind,” Xylara said, sharply. “Get them all armed. Arm all the able-bodied slaves. Tell them we must fight for our lives.”

This seemed to please Skar. “Yes, ma’am!” He turned, bellowing, “Awright, ya stupid dwarf-fuckers! Ya heard the lady! Assholes and elbows!”

As the ogres hustled off, all martial fervor and bloodlust, Xylara looked directly at me.

“Thank you, Chuma,” she said. “Will you stay and fight?”

“I’m your slave,” I replied, hoping that she’d catch the irony. “How can I do otherwise?”

She nodded. “Very well.” Without hesitation, she reached out a hand, and touched my shoulder.

I jumped as if she’d tried to stab me.

“Xylara —” I began.

She stopped me with a finger to her lips.

“No, Chuma,” she whispered. “Don’t speak. My curse ends tonight. I’ll not give Thorvaz the satisfaction of killing me before my father’s decree can be lifted. I’ve not touched a male in nearly a decade, Chuma.” Her arms encircled my chest and she pulled herself close, rubbing her cheek against my pelt. “I want you to be the first.”

I knew exactly what she was talking about (and so, apparently, did my libido, for my cock began to stir beneath my loincloth — even after the day’s tumultuous events, my lion-man body still wanted to fuck), and my logical mind rebelled.

“Xylara, not now...” I babbled. “I mean... I want to, but... Thorvaz could be here any moment...”

“The ogres will give us warning,” she said. “Besides, I doubt if he’ll get here before midnight, especially if Udra’s planning to use the Moonpool’s magic against us.”

Gods, I couldn’t argue anymore. I placed my arms behind her back and knees, and lifted her up, holding her feather-light, pale body tightly.

“I don’t think I’ve ever made love this close to a scrap before,” I said, as softly as I could, carrying her back into the pavilion, “but I’m willing to try.”

“Chuma...” she whispered as I placed her tenderly on the round, silk-covered bed inside the pavilion. Breathing deeply, I stroked her naked body gently, my mouth and tongue seeking out her lips, her shoulders, down to her breasts, small and firm, pink nipples hardening at my touch.

“Darling Xylara,” I whispered. “I’ve wanted you so much.”

Damn, I thought. I really mean it.

“Take me,” she moaned. “Please, use me. Any way you want.”

I licked at her, harder and harder, seeing the long pink weals my tongue left. I held her beneath me with one hand on either side of her torso, stroking her sensitive nipples with my thumbs, feeling her shake at each caress.

“Sweetest woman,” my voice was edged with a deep growl.

“Use me, Chuma. Make me your slave.”

Her words jogged my memory. I knew what she wanted.

“Do you want to suck me?” I asked, proffering my erect cock.

“Oh, yes,” she sighed. “Yes, please, let me suck you...”

Without further encouragement, she wrapped her lips around my organ, nibbling up and down, flicking it with her agile, pink tongue.

“It’s been so very long, darling...” she breathed, licking again, leaving my cock hot and slick. “I’ve wanted this so...”

“Would you like that cock inside you?” I asked.

“Oh, yes...” Passion laced every syllable. “Yessssss...”

“You have to earn it, Countess,” I said as sternly as I could. “You have to be good to get this cock.”

“Oh, I want to be good for you.” She drew back and kneeled in front of me, hands drawn up coyly over her breasts, gazing at me with wide eyes. “I’ll obey my master.”

I knew what came next.

“On your knees, then. Now.”

She obeyed, wordlessly, moving to her hands and knees, looking back at me with a trembling expression which said, “Well? What the hell are you waiting for?”

I pushed her shoulders down to the bed, so she kneeled with her splendid white buttocks in the air, still shaking with anticipation.

I brought one hand down on a rounded ass-cheek with a loud slap, and heard her gasp in response. Again, and she gasped louder. Again.

“Yes, Chuma...” She groaned, voice teetering on the edge of a wail. Beneath the firmness of her buttocks, her cunt-lips quivered, moist with excitement. “Oh, punish me... Make me your whore...”

She was no whore, and never would be (it’s not an attitude I cultivate toward other people in any event), but I was happy to cooperate.

“You’re such a good little slave,” I told her, slapping down with greater force.

“I’m coming, Chuma...” The wail finally broke through, and she collapsed on her face, clenching and gasping. “Oh, you’re making me... Come...”

Just from getting a spanking, I wondered? Damn, but she was better at this than Alrynna...

She rolled over on her back, hands sliding down her own thighs, spreading them open, stroking her mons, growing slippery with her own moisture.

“Fuck me, darling,” she said. “Take this cunt. Please. It belongs to you. I belong to you.”

“I want it,” I husked, placing my head between her thighs, nibbling, as gently as my fangs allowed, at her pink outer pussy-lips. She cried out again as I did so, and again when I softly applied my tongue.

“More, please... Eat it, master...” (At that point I sincerely doubted I’d ever seen a disciplinarian slave mistress more eager to be a slave herself, but this was Xesh, after all).

I complied, pressing my tongue deeper, stroking her clit with my fingers, feeling her tensing and heaving beneath me.

“Fuck me now... Please... I’ve been good,” her voice was tinged with both anticipation and desperation. “I’ve been good for you, master. Please fuck me now...”

I’ve never been much for keeping people in suspense, especially when a small private army backed up by evil wizards is coming to kill my sorry ass, so I obliged, standing while lifting her up by the hips, fitting my cock against the hot pink of her cunt, and slowly sliding inside.

Well conscious of the fact that she hadn’t had a real male organ inside her in the better part of a decade, I was careful, feeling her open up before me. She apparently hadn’t wanted for penetration in all that time, given her extensive collection of penis-surrogates, and so accepted me without undue discomfort.

“Gods...” she cried. “Chuma, oh...” Her words rose to a crescendo. “Oh... Oh... Chuma... CHUUUUUMMMAAAA....!”

She came again, bucking and heaving, writhing against me, as I held her up against my hips, supporting her thighs with my hands, thrusting slowly but steadily. She tugged urgently, cunt clenching and unclenching.

“Stay in me,” she gasped, feverishly. “Keep your beautiful cock inside me, oh, my beautiful Chuma...”

I obliged, thrusting deeply into her and holding her soft white body against me.

“Chuma... My love, my darling... Chuma,” she continued to gasp and cry out. She whispered urgently in my ear. “Come in me. Fill me up. Oh, my cunt wants you so... Please come in me...”

“All right,” I said. “I’ll come for you.”

I lowered her back down to the bed, placing her legs on my shoulders and deliberately began to thrust again, listening to her cry and squeal with each downward stroke. The hot, moist friction against the skin of my cock spread through me as passion built upon passion, sending me closer and closer to the moment of release.

“Come,” Xylara urged. “Come, darling Chuma... Fill my cunt with your come...”

A growl built to a snarl in the back of my throat, and finally erupted full-blown as I felt the growing heat explode through me like a shock of lightning. I felt my cock squeeze hard and release its load of semen, pounding again and again into Xylara’s welcoming depths. I think it made her come again, too, for she clung desperately to me, nails digging into my pelt, raking the delicate skin underneath, as she cried and howled, then fell back, gasping, sweat beading her milk-white brow.

“Oh, Chuma...” she began, voice heavy with affection and longing.

At that moment, raucous shouts erupted outside, and the bellowing voice of an ogre rang out.

“Yer nibs — I mean, My Lady — they’re comin’!”

Xylara glided to her feet like a white bird taking wing.

“Go hold them, Chuma,” she said, casting me a soul-deep glance. “I will be with you in a few moments.”

She kissed me briefly, then was gone. I scrambled back into my loincloth and gathered up my weapons, then made for the outside.

The scene was like a painting by one of the late Litharnan ab-realists. The light of the two moons shadowed all in silver; the Moonpool blazing forth with an alien blue effulgence, rising as a faint column into the darkness. Near the perimeter of the compound, twenty or thirty humans in armor struggled against the estate’s defenders. The ogres held their own, but there were only six of them, outnumbered and outmaneuvered by the humans, who attacked or dodged around them, or shot from a distance with arrows — the light was that good. I drew my bow and shot back, winging one of the bowmen and freeing up a beleaguered ogre.

It wasn’t enough, though. Xylara’s human slaves were armed with clubs, knives, hunting spears and various other improvised weapons, and were totally unarmored. Besides, I suspected that none of them knew how to fight, and served only to slow down our attackers. I winced when one young woman died, desperately trying to ward off the blows of a burly human veteran.

There was a crackling in the air, and the acrid smell of ozone — I knew this sensation all too well from my days at the academy. Someone was gathering energy to cast a major son of a bitch of a spell, and I suspected that I knew who.

I raced forward, spear in one hand, saber in the other. Yes, that was Udra for sure; even taller and more bloodless than Daeshi, with a frizz of red hair surrounding her head like a halo. She was dressed all in black, and literally dripped with amulets and talismans. She wore a daemon-skull circlet, and magical energy flickered around her, blue and silver as she spread her arms out dramatically.

Hell, I realized that she was in the process of letting loose a burst of energy which would kill every living thing within a hundred paces, except for her and people she’d specifically protected. Normally, no mage of her experience was capable of such a feat — the torrent of energy from the Moonpool was the only thing propelling her to such heights, and even so she’d end up having to spend a month in bed, weak as a kitten.

I wasn’t about to give her the chance. As arcane syllables slipped from her wan lips and formed an intricate nimbus of runic energy in a silver-blue bubble around her, I cocked my arm back and flung the Jarrek spear as hard as I could. Its enchantments were weak, but I was hoping that all of Udra’s energies were dedicated to her mass-murder spell, leaving her personal wards weak and vulnerable.

I was partially right. The spear plunged through the shimmering bubble, lightning flashing, and struck Udra full in the chest. It didn’t quite kill her, however. The magical force flowing through her sustained her for a moment or so, allowing her to fix me with a look of ultimate hatred, then, in her last instant of mortal existence, focus her anger and what remained of her magic directly into my unprotected body.

It was as if the world had caught fire. Heat, cold, pain, agony, lanced through me in molten torrents. My flesh blistered, blackened and peeled, then just as suddenly froze and cracked. I staggered back, barely able to remain upright as my tendons snapped, muscles withered and bones shattered. A million kinds of suffering assailed me, and in the moment it took me to fall backwards into the void, I remember thinking, This is what it’s like to die...

Suddenly, it was over, as with a crash, warm, lambent blue water washed over me, submerging me, sucking me down into its depths. The Moonpool! I’d fallen into it, and now the energy which Udra had absorbed rushed back into its enchanted waters, and through it into my battered, sundered body. Strength returned as I felt the damage suddenly reverse itself — bones knit, muscles and skin healed, pain flowed away into the welcoming surcease of the tropic, blue-green waters.

An instant later, I bobbed to the surface, gasping for breath and propelled myself into the shallows, finally dragging myself onto dry land.

Gods... I sucked in fresh air gratefully, reveling in sensation — or, actually, in the lack of it, for the pain had gone, and I felt normal again.

Normal? How normal? With a sudden start, I looked down at myself, and gazed upon naked, hairless flesh, smooth and fishbelly white.

By the Gods, I was myself again! The Moonpool had not only healed my wounds, it had dispelled the Veldt shaman’s ensorcelment. I was Wulf again.

I didn’t have long to savor my return to humanity. The attackers were still there, still surging forward, racing through the compound. Nearby, I saw a frail-looking man in elaborate black and silver armor and a conical helmet, holding a large sword, seemingly carved of obsidian. It must be Thorvaz, I thought, casting about for a weapon.

Before I could formulate a plan, Xylara appeared, clad in white leather armor, studded with silver spikes. Her hair was bound up into a great mane and threaded through a hole in the top of her enameled white hoplite helmet, and she held a slender blue sword, glowing with the same color as the Moonpool, in one hand.

“Beloved brother!” she shouted. “At last we can show how much we love one another! Come and embrace me!”

For all his elaborate, and probably enchanted, armor, Thorvaz seemed reluctant to cross swords with his sister.

“I’ll not dirty my blade,” he replied, motioning forward with his weapon, and calling out to nearby warriors. “You, there! Kill her and I’ll give you a chest of gold!”

“Coward!” Xylara shrieked. “Gods-blasted coward! Lack the courage even to face me blade to blade!”

“Kill her!” Thorvaz roared. “Kill her, now!”

Xylara set to defend herself against the trio of warriors coming toward her.

No, by the Gods, I thought. Thorvaz couldn’t play fair even after he’d stacked the deck. I prepared to run forward, hoping to catch him unawares, grab him from behind, disarm or disable him, persuade the warriors to back off... Hell, I thought, they’re going to kill me anyway.

My somewhat suicidal charge was interrupted by a silent explosion of light, streaking down from the sky above, striking Thorvaz from behind in a sun-bright burst, sending him crashing down with a shriek of pain.

Astonished, I, and the remaining attackers, looked up for the source of the light. What I saw in the sky above made me gape.

Illuminated in the glow from the Moonpool was a great, steel dragon, which I realized after a moment was actually a massive contraption of metal, crystal and precious stones, from its sleek, silvery head, to its riveted, articulated neck and its lashing tail studded with gems. Its rider was, to me, even more astonishing.

It was Nineh. She wore a helm like a Cold Islands valkyrie, and was dressed in a shining steel outfit suitable only to the warrior-woman fantasies of adolescent boys and decadent noblemen, exposing vast stretches of thigh and the rich fullness of her breasts while apparently providing next to no protection. As I watched the beast descend in a whirring rush of wings and a whack of wind, I saw a shimmering bubble surrounding her, and realized that the outfit was for show only — her real protection was magical.

In one hand, resting casually on one shapely, inadequately armored hip, was a long lance, still glowing and crackling with magical force, emitting occasional flashes of the same light which had struck down Thorvaz. As her mechanical mount landed gracefully nearby, Nineh leveled the weapon, and unleashed another explosion, as bright as the sun, cutting down one of Thorvaz’s warriors.

I ducked out of sight behind one of the crags surrounding the pool, realizing that she wouldn’t recognize me as a human. The attackers, suddenly beset by a powerful counterattack, began to flee, but Nineh denied them even that opportunity. An instant later, a dozen winged forms, creatures with scaly humanoid bodies, tails, and bearded, draconian faces, swept down out of the dark sky to skewer their enemies with spears, or rip at them with claws and teeth. In a moment, the fight was over; Nineh and Xylara stood facing each other, the first mounted on a massive, deadly-looking automaton, the other standing, still defiant, a vision in white leather and war-helm.

“My, my, sister,” Nineh said, grinning, “I think this is a good look for you.”

My choice was to flee, naked and unarmed, back in human form, into the jungle, or show myself and hope I could talk my way out of trouble. Neither seemed terribly good right now, but I chose the second since it seemed to hold at least some hope of success.

I walked out from around the rock, hands raised. “You may not believe this...” I began...

“Who the hell are you?” both women demanded in unison. Xylara held her sword menacingly and, more worrisome, Nineh leveled her light-lance at me.

“I really don’t know how to explain this,” I babbled, “but I’m actually —”

“It’s Chuma,” said a voice from atop the rock which had been my hiding place. Looking there, I saw Alrynna crouching, gazing down at us with an amused expression. “He killed Udra, then she cast a spell at him, he fell into the Moonpool, and came out like this.”

“Chuma?” asked Nineh and Xylara, once more in unison, staring incredulously.

“The name,” I said firmly, “is Wulf.”

***

They got me cleaned up and dressed decently, while Xylara shed her armor, and Nineh saw to that metallic nightmare she’d been riding.

“So you were never really a lion-man?” Xylara asked, still seeming rather skeptical of the whole thing.

“Oh, I was a lion-man all right,” I told her. “And I might have stayed one if your bloody sister hadn’t blasted me and knocked me into the Moonpool. There was so much energy there under the twin moons that it healed my wounds and dispelled whatever enchantment that Veldt bastard cast to change me.”

“So you’ve been lying all this time about who you are.”

“Well, if you want to be technical, you never asked me. Besides, you paid for a genuine, certified lion-man, and if I let on that I was actually the sole survivor of the White Emperor’s Veldt Lands expedition, you’d have me in the tin mines so fast my head would spin.”

“Hm.” She shrugged. “Maybe you’re right. I was a rather hasty woman when I first met you. That will have to change now that I’m Matriarch.”

“You’ re what?”

Nineh chose that moment to stride into the room. She, too, had lost the armor, and was now swathed in the folds of a voluminous, red satin robe, Alrynna followed a few steps behind, smiling impishly.

“Matriarch,” Nineh said. “Supreme authority. Leader of the family. I have no desire to be in such a vulnerable position. I much prefer maintaining authority as Xylara’s adviser and confidante, and letting the rest of the world think I’m a mindless sensualist.”

I cocked an eyebrow at her. “You’ve done a pretty good job of hiding it so far.”

Nineh chuckled. “I even fooled my own sister. My dear Chuma, or should I say, Wulf, this is Xesh. Mindless sensualists don’t survive long unless they learn to play games of intrigue and backstabbing better than anyone else. Even you must admit that I concealed my true nature brilliantly.”

“Hiding an army of dragon-men, a clockwork dragon, and a sunlance so that not even Thorvaz suspected,” Xylara said.

“It’s a feat worthy of our treacherous family history.”

“How is Thorvaz, by the way?” I asked.

Nineh drew a thumb across her throat. “He always was a weakling. He was wearing chaos-armor, but I laid him out just the same. In any event, I’ve agreed to renounce my inheritance, and I’ve persuaded our little bitch of a sister to do the same, so long as we leave her to her estate and take no further action against her. Her alternative was painless death, regardless of whatever promises I made, so I wasn’t surprised that she agreed to the deal. Fucking cunt.”

“So I take it your father’s decree is revoked?” I asked Xylara.

She nodded. “It’s been so long, though, I’m not entirely certain what to do about it.”

“Why change, mistress?” Alrynna asked. “Keep me and live as you please. I never want to leave you.”

Xylara looked at her slave-woman tenderly. “I love you now as I ever have, Alrynna. You’ll never want for a home or a mistress as long as I’m alive.” She turned her gaze to me. “Now, master Wulf, it seems that I owe you a great deal. You’re free, of course. I wanted a lion-man, and as a human you’re somewhat less... stimulating.”

“Oh, thanks so much, mistress,” I said, sarcastically. “Your continued devotion is touching.”

The tender look flashed across her face again. “I still love you, Wulf. It was hard to admit before. I love the person inside, not the body he occupies. But I know that you want to go home. And, besides, just because I 1ove you doesn’t mean I have to continue to have sex with you as a human. I can have all the human males I want now.”

I shrugged. It wasn’t the worst brush-off I’d ever gotten, and I actually felt something like love for her, as well.

“So what else can I do for you?” Xylara asked. “Name it, and if it’s in my power, I’ll grant it.”

I didn’t hesitate. “Free your slaves, Xylara. All of them. Tell them that they’re free to go, or that they can continue to work in exchange for food and living quarters. Maybe even pay them a little. But let them know they can leave if they want.”

Nineh looked shocked, Alrynna looked amused, but Xylara, bless her heart, actually looked thoughtful.

At last she nodded. “I’ll do as you ask, Wulf. My slaves will be freed.”

Now it was Alrynna’s turn to look distraught. “Oh, mistress, please...” she pleaded. “Don’t send me away.”

“Dearest Alrynna, if any of you wish to stay on as slaves voluntarily, it’s not in my power to stop you,” Xylara said. “You are, as Wulf says, free to leave should you ever want to, however, but I will never send you away.”

“I’ll never leave, Xylara. I’m your slave forever.”

I sighed. Gods, but I love romantic endings.

***

True to her word, Xylara set her slaves free. Also true to her word, she didn’t have sex with me again, and neither did Alrynna and Nineh (I’d love to have written you a nice passionate farewell orgy scene with all four of us, but it wouldn’t be the truth). They all treated me apparently genuine affection, though I suspected that the they were more eager to get me out of the way and get to close grips with each other, now that I was no longer a sexy, energetic and well-hung lion-man. Ah, the illusions of existence...

Xylara provided me with a small felucca, well stocked with provisions, which we christened the Alrynna. I spent a few more days enjoying the pleasures of the Moonpool as a human being, but I was actually eager to get going. I left early one morning, saying goodbyes as unemotionally as I could muster, dragging Alrynna to the river, and setting off beneath the light of the rising sun.

For my part, I was glad to put Xesh behind me.

***

Nineh sighed deeply, gazing about at the luxuriant decadence of the playroom in Xylara’s barge.

“You’ve done well by yourself, sister,” she said. “How I’ve missed you.”

Xylara nodded. She was in her favorite outfit — her black leather, with all her various implements hanging from a belt. Nineh was a bit more demure, she thought — a lacy blue gown, alternating silk and sheer panels, exposing a vast quantity of her sister’s beloved and delectable body, now even riper and more inviting than before.

“I have a present for you,” Xylara said, taking Nineh by the arm, and directing her to one corner, where her favorite bench stood. Chained to it, legs apart, arms outspread, breasts rising and falling with excitement, was the delightful Alrynna, gazing with unbridled devotion at Xylara and her sister.

“You know this choice bit of flesh as Alrynna,” Xylara said. “Despite my mistreatment of her —”

“Oh, mistress, you never mistreat me,” Alrynna interrupted.

“And,” Xylara said, unhooking a riding crop from her belt, “despite intensive training, she still misbehaves constantly.”

“Only because I cherish each blow from my mistress,” the dark haired woman continued.

Xylara rolled her eyes and handed the crop to her sister. “She often makes me wonder who is slave and who is mistress, in any event.”

“So I see,” observed Nineh, accepting the whip.

“Not that she is truly a slave, mind you,” Xylara added. “Since that rootless impostor forced me to free all of them. I gave her the option of freedom, or staying with me as my companion —”

“As your slave, mistress, regardless of what some adventurer says. He was a fine and handsome adventurer, all the same. At least when he resembled a lion. After that he was, well, somewhat ordinary.”

“The slave wanders a bit,” Xylara said. “Now that I have taken my place as the rightful head of the family I can do as I please, and I say she is free to stay or go as she desires. The fact that she has chosen to continue on as my slave despite the fact that I have given her leave to depart is something which I find quite...”

“Exciting?” suggested Nineh.

Xylara nodded. “I wonder how many of your slaves would stay if given the choice. Most, I imagine. You offer them a great deal.”

Nineh stroked her own breasts and pulled the fabric of her gown tight against them. “I offer more and more with each passing year.”

“And so it should be,” Xylara said, walking closer to the bound Alrynna, Nineh following along behind. “Each year there is more of you to share with the rest of us.”

“So is she mine?” Nineh asked.

“To do with as you please,” Xylara replied, and Alrynna tensed abruptly with excitement. “There are one or two conditions, however.”

Nineh stroked the whip along the outline of Alrynna’s small breasts and observed with satisfaction that her nipples hardened as she did so. “And what are the conditions?”

“First, that she stay here with me, though you can borrow her occasionally.”

“Agreed.” Nineh bent down over Alrynna and flicked her tongue along the other woman’s neck. “What else?”

Xylara smiled. “The second condition is that I be allowed to do anything to you which you do to her.”

Nineh gasped and stood suddenly, then a smile broke across her face.

“Why, sister,” she said brightly, “I’m offended that you feel it necessary to even ask such a thing. My body is yours to do with as you please.”

Xylara smiled and bowed her head.

“Of course,” Nineh went on, “I think that the same should apply to you.”

“Ah.” Xylara looked back at her. “You wish me to be your plaything as well?”

“Certainly,” Nineh said. “And perhaps we could both be playthings for this little morsel.” She stroked Alrynna, who stretched and purred like a grateful cat.

Xylara laughed at that. “Why not? You two are probably all I’ll ever need.”

“But what of the men?” Nineh asked, frowning. “Men with their wonderful hands and tongues and cocks? Won’t you want them anymore?”

“Oh, once in a while, I suppose,” Xylara said contemplatively. “But they’ve done me so much harm over the years. Can’t say that I trust any of them anymore.”

“I’m inclined to agree with you on that,” Nineh said. “But I don’t think I can ever leave them behind entirely.”

“What of Chuma, or shall I say, Wulf?” Alrynna asked, impatient at being left out of the conversation. “He behaved well. He even helped you.”

“Silence, slave!” Nineh snapped, bringing the crop down on Alrynna’s thighs and eliciting an excited indrawn breath for her trouble.

“You learn well, sister,” Xylara said. “To answer your impertinent question, for which I will no doubt punish you severely —”

“Oh, I would be most grateful if you would, mistress.”

Xylara cast Alrynna a withering glance. “You would only be disappointed, you perverse little monkey, is if I didn’t punish you, wouldn’t you?”

“I would be devastated, mistress.”

“She’s worse than we are, Xylara,” Nineh observed. “And that is saying quite a bit.”

“In any event, to answer your question, you impertinent little bitch, yes, Wulf treated us honorably. I suppose men like him are all right. If any wander through here, I’ll welcome them into my bed. On the other hand, this is Xesh, and men are bred to be treacherous here.”

“Like our late brother, gods rest his soul,” Nineh said. “And poor Parval. Wasn’t it a shame how his father came home unexpectedly and found him in bed with that entire orcish squat-ball team? How could such a thing have happened?”

“A shame, indeed,” Xylara agreed, smiling as if savoring the memory of a particularly satisfying meal. “Sad to hear about his disinheritance, as well. I hope he enjoys his exile, as well.”

“How will you punish me, mistress?” asked Alrynna hopefully, moving herself abruptly back to the center of attention.

Xylara put her head in her hands. “I give up. Nineh will decide how to punish you.”

“And then will you punish her in the same way, mistress? Can I watch you punish her?”

“I’d very much like that,” Nineh said, selecting a number of items hanging from the wall. “Perhaps you can even help her.”

Xylara sighed again. What the hell was the world coming to?

Well, she thought as she watched Nineh belabor Alrynna with her quirt, and heard Alrynna cry out in ecstasy, at least her troubled past was behind her. Now she had the power she’d always dreamed of, but she wondered if it was all really worth it.

As she continued to watch and her own pulse began to race as Alrynna’s exquisite torment went on, she finally decided that it was. After all, she could have all the pleasure she desired, and what good was power without pleasure?

Xylara settled down into a plush chair to watch, and wondered what she would do to Nineh.

Gods, it was good to be alive.

— END —