River had lost all track of time.
The wagon was uncomfortably hot and seemed to find every bump and pothole in the road. He thanked god that he hadn’t drank much all day and had very good bladder control. He had seen more than one of the chained boys, whimper and give in to nature. Maybe that was why they were being shipped naked; the fact that the Masters knew that there would be accidents on the journey. The wagon suddenly jerked and River was thrown forward, or would have been if he hadn’t been secured, another precaution maybe? He rearranged himself on the hard wooden bench. As he looked up he saw Jonathan looking at him in concern. He gave him a small smile and that seemed to be enough as the bigger man leaned back against the wagon side again and closed his eyes.
Suddenly the tarpaulin of the wagon was ripped open and a man sporting a tough leather kilt and chest straps climbed on board. His brown hair was shoulder length and tied back in a neat ponytail and his goatee beard was immaculately shaped.
“Listen to me sluts,” he bellowed, slapping a quirt against his hand. “You are now going to be transported over to the island. Once there you will be catalogued and assigned to your areas. Those of you that are island sluts will be taken into the village and auctioned off to the local businessmen. Those of you that are privately owned will be kennelled until your Masters collect you. Simon,” he barked and the slave that had secured them fell to his knees before him. “Unchain them and mark them as they disembark. Red for village sluts, blue for private owned, you have the list?”
Simon lifted a rolled up parchment for his Master to see. “I have it here, My Master,” he said.
The Master nodded approvingly. “Then get to it, Mine. I want to be left here in the next 30 minutes. The Master stepped down from the wagon and Simon suddenly changed again into the authoritarian he had been before he had arrived.
“Jonathan,” he said. “Release the sluts.” He stood up very tall and in a commanding voice said. “You will get off in an orderly fashion, single file. You will confirm to me your slave name and I will mark you and the list with your position.” He paused, “Remember, this list tells me if you are private or village slut, so don’t think you can lie to me and not be discovered.”
River was the third slave called forward. He followed the lead of the boys that had gone before him and knelt at the Head boy’s feet.
“Ownership,” Simon growled.
“Private,” River replied softly. “My Master is due to arrive ....”
“Did I ask about when your Master was due?” Simon snapped. River couldn’t help but cringe back at the boy’s tone. “No one cares what you know or think you know,” Simon continued. “You will have to learn to obey boy.” Simon put a swipe of blue across River’s chest. He then picked up a green stick and drew a green line parallel to it and then under that he put a black line. River looked down curious, not having seen anyone else marked in such a way.
He chewed his bottom lip and then said, “Might this one speak, Head Boy?” He kept his tone low and respectful hoping that he would not anger the boy again.
Simon looked down at him for a few moments then nodded. “Speak boy,” he said in a softer tone, appeased by the respect that River was giving him.
“May this one know what the colours mean Head Boy?” he asked softly.
Simon pointed to the blue line. “This means you are a private slave,” he said. “This one,” he said pointing to the green line, “tells the Master’s that you need to see a green because of your asthma. And this one,” he said pointing to the black line, “means that you are in need of punishment.”
“Punishment!” River repeated in shock. “What did I do, Head Boy? I am sorry, I am a good boy. I will be good. ”
Simon lifted his hand cutting River off. “Too late boy,” he said his tone not entirely unkind. “It is a lesson you must learn. A Master only wants to know what he has asked. Three stripes on your arse will serve to remind you in future. “
River hung his head, his mind in a whirl. Three stripes, three stripes with what, a belt, a cane, a ... whip? “Yes, Head boy,” River whispered. Suddenly he felt his heart start to race. What would his Master say if he arrived to find that he had been punished?
River looked up at the boy that had decided that he needed punishing and swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat.
Simon squatted down in front of him. “It’s not personal,” he said in a tone only River could hear. “You will thank me. Three stripes now are better than a full beating further down the road.” He gave River a small smile. “Now get out before I add three more.” He grinned to show that he was joking but River wasn’t taking the risk and jumped to his feet and out of the truck. He was shocked to see how dark it was. It had been about 11am when he had stepped out of the airport. Now it must be ... he had no idea what time it was. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and he dropped to his knees, his eyes locked to the ground and a pair of sandaled feet appeared in front of him.
“Display,” a gruff voice said and River snapped into position, jumping to his feet with his legs spread and his hands on his head. “Pretty,” said the Master that called Simon his. A thick finger traced the three lines on his chest. “Above deck,” the voice growled and the finger that was once dallying on his chest was now joined by four others and fastened roughly in his hair. His head was pushed down and then was marched, unable to lift his head to see where he was going, across the rough ground and up a gangplank. River stifled a cry as he was shoved head first into a crate and the door slammed shut. Unable to turn around he was forced to stay facing with his back to the door and his head almost touching the floor. He licked his parched lips. Every moment that passed made him think that this was a bad idea. Why couldn’t he and Endy just meet Franzi in Germany or in France, meet in a neutral place and decide if they wanted to do this. The boat gave a jerk and in the pitch blackness of his crate River shivered with fear and trepidation. “Please be there, My Master,” he whispered in the darkness. “I’m scared.”
Alone in the dark with only the rise and fall of the ocean as his company River had no choice but to wait, his shaking had subsided and he had resigned himself to his situation. He tried to understand the reasoning behind the rough treatment, it was meant to be a holiday but so far there was nothing that was remotely enjoyable about the whole trip. He had begun to feel a bit sick, even closing his eyes never helped. The box was humid and airless and his muscles were beginning to cramp. He tried to picture in his head his Master. He had seen old pictures of him but nothing recent. The ones he had seen were very reminiscent of his second life avatar tall, thin and handsome. Outside of his packing case he could hear people moving about, laughing and joking but he couldn’t see anything or hear anything clearly. He shuddered, if this was above deck what was it like below? He hoped he would never find out.
It seemed an eternity till the motion of the boat stopped. Again he heard people moving around, shouting, and laughing. He heard cracks of leather hitting soft flesh then yelps of pain and he whimpered to himself remembering the black mark on his chest. The door of his prison opened as abruptly as it had closed and a hand gripped his ankle and pulled him out. It was still dark and flickering torches lit the night sky. He lay still between the feet of the Master not knowing what to do, only knowing from gut instinct to keep his mouth shut.
“Welcome to Talbot Island precious,” the Master growled. It was not Simon’s Master, this Master was short and stocky with short cropped blond hair and sparkling blue eyes. A smile played on his lips as he traced the black line on River’s chest. “Are you a trouble maker slut?” he asked.
River wet his lips nervously. “N... No Master,” he stammered. “I am a good slut.”
The Master frowned. “You say you are a good slut yet you have a punishment mark. Do you tell lies also slut?”
River began to shake. “No Master,” he said pleadingly, “this slut doesn’t lie, this slut misunderstood an instruction, he is being taught to listen better.” River looked up with liquid eyes from between the Master’s legs hoping that the Master would believe him and not be too hard on him.
The Master laughed and reached down and ruffled his hair. “I am playing with you boy, I know why you are marked.” He held up the inventory that Simon had worked from. “Good for you that you tell the truth boy, if you had lied to me your punishment would have been much more. “The Master stepped back. “On your feet, boy.” He waited patiently knowing that the boy had been cramped for the past few hours. River got to his feet and stood with his head lowered and hand clasped behind his back, one knee flexed and his body straight. The Master walked around him appraising his appearance. “Your Master will be pleased I think,” he said with a smile. “Now heel, boy. You do know how to heel?” he raised an eyebrow waiting for an answer.
“This boy knows how to heel Master,” River answered in a low subservient tone.
“Good,” the Master said and walked off not checking to see if River was following, just knowing that he would be. River followed close to the man’s heel, his hands held firmly behind his back. His eyes darted from side to side taking in the sights, the whole village was lit with flickering torches, giving it a mystical, even romantic atmosphere. He almost tripped as his bare foot hit a step and he had to catch himself. He followed the Master up the steps and through the doors into a green room. “Nadu,” the Master barked and River dropped to his knees recognising the gorean word for kneel. He looked around him, though it looked very medieval he knew that there would be modern day medicines and equipment hidden from view. A Master dressed in a green tunic and brown leggings stepped from behind a curtain and greeted the blond Master with genuine friendship, then he looked down at River.
“Nice,” he said appraisingly. He raised an eyebrow at the thick black line drawn on River’s chest but said nothing. “What is your name”? He asked thumbing through some papers.
“River, Master,” River replied.
The Green looked at him then back at his papers. “Asthma?” He said. It was more of a statement than a question, so River kept his mouth shut. “Do you have your inhalers?” He asked.
River bit his bottom lip. “They are in my luggage, Master.” He then added. “My hand luggage that is, Master.”
“We will get them to you,” the Healer said. He picked up his stethoscope. “Display!” he growled and River snapped into position. He nodded his approval then pressed his instrument to River’s chest. “Deep breath,” he said, dis-compassionately. River inhaled. “Again,” the healer snapped again and again River inhaled and held it before exhaling again. The healer pulled his stethoscope out of his ears and scribbled something on his notes. He stood back and looked at River. “How do you feel?” he asked.
River, nodded. “I feel okay now, Master, I ... I panicked a bit,” he said lowering his head in shame.
The healer nodded. “Understandable,” he said. “Your first time?”
“The slaves always come back,” the healer said as if that was an important point. He looked River in the eyes. “You are fine, if you have any problems, have your Master bring you back.” He took a green pen and drew a symbol on his shoulder, just above the three lines that were already there.
“Please Master,” River said, “what does that mean?”
The healer grinned. “It means that you can be punished.”
River gulped and lowered his head, nodding in acknowledgement of his words.
“Now go outside and find the nearest Master,” the healer said. “Show him your black mark.”
River broke his position and nodded. “Yes Master,” he whimpered and hurried to comply.
He stepped outside of the infirmary and looked around him. He felt vulnerable and lost and he wrapped his arms around his body, looked to the ground, closing his eyes as he tried to settle his nerves. He felt the Master’s presence before he even opened his eyes and he dropped to his knees, keeping his head down.
“Why are you uncaged boy?” the gruff voice asked.
River stammered as he answered, “I ... I ... was in the infirmary, Master.” He said in a low voice. “He told me to get out and find a Master to ... “ he paused not wanting to say but knowing that the marks on his chest already told the story to the Master standing over him. “Punish me,” he finished, his voice dropping even lower.
“Look at me,” the Master demanded and River looked up, his eyes scared. “The man standing in front of him was not as big as some of the other Master’s he had seen but he had an air of authority that was instantly recognisable. His shoulder length mousy coloured hair was dragged back in a ponytail and secured with a leather thong. He crossed his arms across his bare chest and devoured River with his eyes. “Get up,” he demanded. “And heel.” He strode off and River jumped to his feet and hurried after him, almost running to keep up with his long strides. The Master strode up to a building and opened the door. He indicated with his head for River to enter and then followed him inside.
The room was very basic. A wooden desk and a heavy red padded chair stood on one side of the room and a large book case on the other next to a heavy looking carved wooden door. Thick chains with cuffs hung from the wall and a spanking horse stood to the side. River swallowed and automatically knelt. The Master went behind his desk and sat down, leaning back and putting his boots onto the desk. He shuffled some papers till he found what he seemed to be looking for and then he looked at River, not disguising his lust. “Slave name?” he said in a low growl.
River shuddered at the tone and kept his head down. “River, Master,” he said softly.
“Master’s name?” the man demanded and River began to shiver slightly. His mind went into overtime. He had been taught not to say his Master’s name under any circumstances. In SL Gor, he had simply pointed to his collar and emoted it being carved with his Master’s name. But here ... here he didn’t have that luxury. His mind whirled and he bit his lip before whispering. “I am forbidden to speak my Master’s name.” He closed his eyes then opened them again as the blow he had been expecting never landed. “I can draw the pattern of his name,” he continued adding Master as an afterthought.
He shivered as the heavy boots hit the floor and the Master came up to him, standing in front of him so that they were under River’s nose. River’s hair was suddenly tussled and the Master growled, “Good boy.” River dared to look up at the man towering over him. “You would not believe how many of your brother’s fall for that. You have been trained well.”
“Thank you, Master,” River muttered.
The Master nodded. “Now kiss my feet and beg to be punished.”
Trembling, River bent forward and pushed his lips to the dusty black boots, kissing each in turn. “Please punish this boy,” he whispered.
“LOUDER BOY,” the Master bellowed.
“Please punish this boy,” River repeated, louder this time. He began to shake even more now the words had been spoken.
“Get up,” the Master said. “Bend over the horse, hold on to the straps.”
Feeling sick, River jumped to his feet and did as he had been told, taking hold of the straps that hung loosely at one end of the horse. The Master came up behind him and caressed his naked arse, feeling the shape with his hand and squeezing the cheeks slightly as if he was evaluating a purchase in a shop. River turned his head to the side and saw him pick up a cane and he made a small whimper and closed his eyes tightly, gripping hard to the straps, hoping that he didn’t embarrass his Master by twisting away from the pain.
“Five I think,” the Master said. “Do you agree boy?”
River nodded, feeling sick. “Yes, Master, “he said. “Thank you, Master.”
The Master swiped the cane through the air a couple of times, testing it, then stepped behind River. “Count nice and loudly boy,” he said uncaringly. He pulled back his arm and brought the cane down hard on River’s rump.
River cried out in pain and twisted his hips. “One,” he cried.
“Straighten up,” the Master demanded. “Or I start again.”
River held his body ridged, his breath ragged in his throat. He screamed again as the cane cut into his unprotected ass. “Two,” he gasped. “Please no more,” he begged. He cried out in pain again as the Master ignored his pleas and he whimpered. “Three.”
“Nearly done,” the Master said, reassuring him. He brought the cane down again.
“Four,” River wept. The next blow landed before he finished the word and River cried out again, his whole body trembling as he suffered the pain of his beating. “Five,” he cried.
The Master walked up to his head and stroked his hair. “Good boy,” he said softly. “Very good, boy. I will tell your Master that you were found pleasing. “
River nodded. “Yes, Master, thank you, Master,” he wept.
River stood up painfully and limped after the Master, through the carved wooden door. “This is the Kennel,” the Master said. “You will be caged here until your Master claims you.”
River nodded. “Yes, Master, thank you, Master.”
The kennel Master opened a small cage. “In you go slut.” He said not unkindly. River looked at the tiny cage and got painfully to his hands and knees and crawled inside it, he curled onto his side on the thin blanket that covered the floor. The Master gave him a smile. “Good boy” he said. “You shouldn’t be here too long. Sleep well slut.”
“Thank you, Master,” River said softly as the man walked away leaving him in darkness.