My mouth tasted of metal.
Cautiously, I moved my tongue. It pressed against a solid, rounded plug of steel which nearly filled my mouth. I tried to shift myself; I was lying on old straw scattered on a solid stone floor. A tiny fillet of light showed under the door. I could see metal cuffs on my ankles -- the chain connecting them rattled.
My arms, my shoulders were pulled back, almost numb. I had, it seemed, been tied with a single length of rope, which went behind my neck, over my shoulders, under my arms, across my back, and round to the front at waist level, down through between my legs, round to the back, tied round a wrist on each side, round to the front again to pull the wrists slightly apart, then through underneath me again and on up to the mid-back crossing point, where it was securely tied. I fluttered my fingers against my buttocks ... about the only movement I could achieve.
I was tied up, chained, plug-gagged, naked, in what smelled like a dungeon, and my body felt very . . . strange.
I didn't know why I was there. What's more, I didn't even know who I was. Until I'd woken a minute or two before, everything was a big, immovable blank.
I closed my eyes, and felt a tear trickle down my cheek. This wasn't fair, I thought. It couldn't be fair. I was a full-grown young woman, that much I knew -- who had taken all my memories?
There was a noise outside the dungeon... somebody was walking along the corridor, striding purposefully, I decided, towards me. Was it whoever had put me here, done whatever had been done to me?
I wriggled a bit, and managed to get onto my side, looking up at the door. I heard the pulling of a bolt, and a second one, and shivered with nerves. This could be the beginning of the rest of my life, I thought, and would have grinned at the silliness of the idea if the gag had allowed it.
The corridor probably wasn't very bright, but when the dungeon door swung open, I caught only the briefest glimpse of my visitor, silhouetted against the light, before my eyes shut against the glare.
"What a well-packed little parcel -- and nicely secured, too!" The voice was husky and kind, with underlying humour, and I relaxed a little. It was a woman; I could smell soap and herbal perfume, and the rich smell of leather.
She came in and crouched by me, looking at me as I looked at her. She saw, tied and gagged and fettered, a young, slim-waisted natural blonde, hair cut in a generous, full-bodied helmet -- albeit disarrayed and dirty. I saw a cautiously smiling brunette, slightly taller than me. She was wearing thigh-high shiny black leather boots, matching soft leather gloves, and a short leather jacket, over a tantalisingly thin white leotard, cut high at the sides right up to her waist. There was a wide, studded leather belt around her waist, and a scabbard hung from it, enclosing a sword. The belt had what I took to be some decoration in the form of spiky metal discs; later I found out that they were actually functional throwing stars.
A chain about 20" long connected the metal shackles that imprisoned my ankles; from the middle link, another chain secured me to a sturdy ring-bolt in the floor. My visitor put a metal rod into one link in this longer chain, and pushed -- after a minute's concentrated effort, the link broke, flying away into the straw.
"Well, you're not who I was hired to find, that much is obvious," she said, gazing down at me again. "Still, I'm hanged if I've come all this way for nothing."
She helped me to my feet. One arm brushed lightly against my breast, teasing an already-sensitive nipple; I was weak and unsteady, and that didn't help matters. We stood close together, face to face, and I remember thinking that she was the most wonderful, most beautiful person I'd ever seen.
But then, for all I could remember, she was the only person I'd ever seen...
"Your gag is solid metal, youngster ... I can see the hinge, but the keyhole is too tiny to pick, and trying to force it could scar you, or even break some teeth. Still, I know an expert on locks and slaveware -- hel, she probably sold it in the first place!"
"Don't cry, precious ... I'm not leaving a pretty thing like you chained up in a dungeon." She put a consoling hand on my bottom, to guide me out of the cell, and lightly pulled on one of the ropes, between my wrist and where it vanished from sight. "Nice and snug," she commented, which was I suppose one way of describing it.
The corridor was long, lined in solid stone, and lit by small windows just below ceiling level. My -- rescuer? -- closed the dungeon door behind us; a piece of slate hanging on it just had the word "Memree" on it. "All I know about you is your name -- if 'Memree' is your name, that is."
She turned back to me, looking more serious. "Now, your choice, sera. I can cut the ropes and let you go your own way, or, if you desire it, I can put you under my protection, and take you with me."
She stroked my hair, and smiled, looking me in the eye. "You will notice the second option doesn't include setting you free -- at least, not yet."
The rope was tight, and, while an aid to good posture, too damn personal. Still, being left alone in this long, cold corridor, presumably below a castle, with nowhere to go, didn't seem a positive alternative. And, hey, she looked good, with her shiny black hair, flawless complexion, and a really cute pair of nipples pressing through that thin leotard towards me. Despite the chain hobbling my ankles, I managed to go down on one knee, and bowed my head to her.
"My name is Charol, by the way,'' she told me as we walked up a stone staircase, one arm companionably around my shoulder. "I was hired to find a man called Marius Restormel -- hoped he'd be down there. but you were the only warm body I could find. I can't say I'm too disappointed, you're going to wash up into a real beauty, I'm sure."
That really cheered me up. Not only did it seem that I'd soon be promenading through the streets bound and naked, but I'd look in desperate need of a bath. I might have had a sharp reply for Charol, if it wasn't for a mouth full of metal gag.
We passed one guard, who was sitting up against the wall, taking a well-deserved afternoon snooze, his helmet discarded beside him ... just as well, as it might have chafed the newly-rising bump on his temple. A spiral staircase up, along the top of some old inner defence wall in the gods' good sunlight, down some more stairs, through a partially overgrown courtyard, and finally we approached a side gate, guarded by a burly, unshaven man carrying a ceremonial pike.
"You took your time, Charol -- I go off duty in a few minutes."
"Well, I had to get myself something for all my trouble, Torner." Charol hugged me to her side proprietorially, while I blushed under the man's appreciative gaze.
Very nice, too, sera... I like her fashion sense in particular."
"You would -- and, come to think of it, so do I."
Torner grinned, and pulled the gate open. "I've seen neither of you, and never, ever opened this gateway."
He helped me on my way with a gentle pat on my rump, and Charol ushered me through. "You're the nearest thing to an honest man this castle holds, neighbour."
"Aye, mercenary -- when you bribe me, I stay bribed!"
The gate slammed behind us, and we were in a sun-baked alley between the main castle wall and some rundown tenements. I could smell baking bread somewhere nearby, and stale cabbage. A gentle, warm breeze ruffled my hair, as Charol took the opportunity to look at me in full sunlight.
"Well, Memree, I've seen slavegirls dressed like you on errands round the city, but that gag is too great an eye-catcher -- too memorable. We need to visit my locksmith friend. Delinda. and see if she'll take it off our hands."
Off my mouth, too. I thought, as I gave an encouraging nod. I just hoped we wouldn't have to walk too far; the friction from the rope between my legs was starting to do naughty things to me.
We walked arm in arm. out of the alley into a busy shopping street with a few market stalls. And. apart from a few appreciative looks from the idling male fraternity. nobody took much notice. Perhaps. I thought, I was well-known as a shameless slavegirl who got into ropes and chains more often than baths? But it was strange. I really even then had very little interest in my missing past. I had a new life now, and I very much hoped that this big, beautiful barbarienne by my side would be an important part of it.
Delinda's shop had a huge key hanging outside. and a small display window showing chains. manacles, and other more ingenious items. Charol pushed the door open, and we walked into the shade. and a small room with its walls festooned with Delinda's wares. The shop smelt of oil on polished metal, well-cured leather. and a flowery pot-pourri. It seemed miles away from the busy street. Delinda appeared from a back room. pushing a curtain back. She wore a leather tunic which left one breast bare; there was a golden ring through the nipple. and a short. delicate chain dangled down towards a tightly-belted waist. Her hair was black and curly, worn loose; she wore tiny panties, sheer enough for one to be pretty sure she shaved her pubic hair, and sandals. Her smile was welcoming, and she gestured us through into the private area.
"I've a little problem for you, Delinda!'
"When don't you have a problem, Charol? But she's absolutely gorgeous, my friend -- are you selling?"
"Only the clasp-gag, Del, if you can get it off."
"She must be a naughty girl -- I warn you, if she's foul-mouthed I'll re-stopper her right away." She walked over to me, standing so close that our nipples brushed, and she smiled. "But it's excellent work."
She took the gag, and my head, in her hands, and tilted. "Whew, it's fine workmanship, beautifully hinged ... and there's a small hole at the front, so your girl can drink through a straw, at least."
"But picking the lock? Something of this quality, I must first test..." She moved away, to a chest by one wall.
"Test what? If you can't pick it, cut it, Del! I want to know if I've got a songbird or a corncrake here!" Charol grabbed my ropes by their mid-back knot, and pulled me on tiptoe; I snorted, and wriggled helplessly.
"Not so fast, Char' -- always the hasty one." Delinda had a dull glass rod in her hand, as she approached me once more. "Such a devil in iron, it could be ensorcelled, and I don't want a magical bomb going off in here."
Delinda moved the rod towards my face, and it began to glow, first red, then white. The wand pulsed like a live thing, and gave off star-shaped sparks that burst to nothing as they fell, like soap bubbles.
"Wow!" Charol sounded impressed. "Big spell, right?"
"Right. I've never seen this rod glow a tenth as strongly!" I'd closed my eyes, now, but I could feel the light on my skin like summer sun, see the glow through my eyelids. It faded, gradually, and I risked raising my eyelids, to find Charol's friend crouching, running the rod parallel to my legs. It was still glowing.
'Still pretty bright," Charol commented. 'She's got a magic pussy, too?"
Delinda gave a little amused snort. "Not exactly," she said slowly. "The main magic is in the gag, I'm sure, but I'm getting traces even down here." She tapped my knee lightly, and rested her other hand on a convenient buttock. "Your little friend has been pretty close to a major magic spell, at least."
She stood up, and shook her head. "You want that gag off, you need the key, wherever that
is." The rod was replaced in its chest, and the lid closed.
Charol pulled on my rope, just where it skirted a breast. "Somewhere in the castle, I guess... a big place." She let the rope go, and stroked my shoulder idly. "But how about the roping? Does that tell you anything?"
Delinda eyed me professionally. "It's a standard bondage tie, used in the trade -everything properly displayed, yes?" She knelt behind me, and began to unravel the knot. "Nicely done, but too tight to be left indefinitely."
I found myself agreeing with that, as the rope finally fell away, liberating my wrists and much else. I rubbed at the red marks it had left, where I could see them and it was polite to do so, and waited to see what would happen next... which was that it took about four seconds for the locksmith to pick both the ankle-cuffs, to leave me completely unrestrained, except for the gag.
"If we can't ditch the gag, young Memree had better have some other gear to go with it, if you've some suitable bits and pieces to lend us," Charol said -- it looked as if my freedom was going to be shortlived. "This one's under my protection, and I'm not having her loose."
Naked women with unbreachable gags may have wants and opinions of their own, but, it seemed, they were seldom asked to express them. Still, I must confess that the prospect of being restrained by my glamorous rescuer had its attractions... and there was a damp spot on the discarded rope to prove it.
"What an unusual name,," Delinda commented as she pulled out a number of trays, selecting various items that clinked ominously, yet excitingly. "In the old dialect, a 'memree' is a child's imaginary playmate -- a make-believe companion. Ah, these should fit snugly..."
"It was the name chalked on the dungeon door, and she's not objected to me using it."
Not loudly, anyway, and I'd had no better alternative to suggest. I concentrated on rubbing my wrists while I had the chance.
Delinda handed a shiny hinged metal collar to Charol. It was slim, about an inch high, and, in the abstract, rather beautiful, I thought. "Here, you'd better snap this on her -- she's your little buddy, and if it turns out that she's an unmarked slave, this should be locked in place by you if you're going to claim her."
I stood still, eyes wide and head high, wishing I'd had a bath, as Charol carefully approached, holding the collar. She encircled my neck with the icy metal, and pressed it closed with an emphatic click. She backed away, and watched with a smile as I carefully fingered it, rotated it a little, and let it settle. It wasn't tight, exactly, but it was reassuringly snug.
"She's not coy, is she," Delinda commented. "No hands attempting to cover her muff or that fine pair of titties, no blushes or cowering... I reckon you've made a conquest."
"Who. me, with a cute little pussy-tongue slavegirl, Del?" Charol seemed surprised at the suggestion, but it didn't stop her looking at me. or me keeping my eyes wide and my breasts high, shoulders back.
"Well, after your experiences with the hairier sex, a little uncomplicated physical affection couldn't hurt. Or don't you approve of what Loji and I get up to, these long evenings?"
"It's right for you. and Loji's blossomed, sure... "
Delinda brought out a black leather belt, with cuffs on chains dangling from it. The belt was half a hand wide. with a locking buckle at the front; the chains emerged from a gleaming metal tube which ran along the back third of the belt. so that one arm's chain could be extended while the other arm was pulled in. There was a short gap halfway along the tube. After letting me get a good look. she buckled the belt around my waist, and locked it. then gently snapped the cuffs shut around my wrists. Oh well, freedom had been nice for a minute or two, and the chains weren't very restricting.
She studied the effect approvingly. "She looks good in it, doesn't she?"
"It would hardly stop a determined villain from strangling me in my sleep."
Delinda smiled, and stepped behind me. She used a finger to hook the chain from the mid-tube gap, and tugged -- my wrists were drawn in to the ends of the tube, behind my back. She moved in front of me, and pulled the chain forward, and then up, and hooked it over a pair of clips under the buckle, about two inches apart. "There you are -- you can undo those clips easily, but your playmate can't, can she. And she can't move her hands about, either."
Charol viewed the effect admiringly. "Have you got those ankle-locking shoes in her size, with the adjustable hobble-chain? And a night-hood would be useful as well, I should think..."
It didn't take long before I was hobbled again, but at least these ankle-fetters came attached to a decent pair of sandals, which almost counted as clothing; Charol was also given some other oddments I didn't see, which she stowed in a pocket of her jacket. I wasn't worried; I was more interested in the possibility of washing the dungeon's grime from my hair and my body.
"You could leave her in my care while you continue your investigations, Char -I've a spare slave-bed she could be slipped into."
"I suppose Loji's having her afternoon nap in hers."
"She is, yes. Shall we visit her?"
We went through into another room, less cluttered and uncurtained, where Delinda's slave, Loji, lay on her bed -- not that she had any choice.
The basic idea was a stocks ... two pieces of wood hinged together, each with half a circle cut out of it, through which a wrist, ankle or neck could be put. Close the stocks and lock it, and the member would be held helpless. One stocks held both Loji's ankles a good eighteen inches apart, with her lying on her back; a second stocks held her neck, plus on either side her wrists. No chance of a slavegirl in such an embrace 'making her own amusement' with an idle finger or two!
Loji wore a red leather half-hood, covering her hair and eyes but leaving her mouth free -- free to play host to a gag, that is. A buckled leather strap held a rubber ball in place between her teeth. The area between the two stocks was pale and interesting, highlighted by a stiff, carefully and tightly laced red corset-belt, while each nipple had a golden ring through it, like the one Delinda herself wore. A fine-linked golden chain joined the two rings tautly.
"It seems a shame to wake her," Charol commented huskily -- and certainly Loji's complete sexual vulnerability did have a sensual dimension, I could feel my nipples harden in sympathy.
"Oh, she'd hate to have missed your visit," Delinda assured her, and moved across to her slave. Loji's pubic area was completely hairless, and her mistress stroked down the lips with one finger, surprisingly gently.
Loji stirred sensuously, undulated her hips, and Delinda stroked her again, gentling her lips apart. I sneaked a glance at Charol, and saw that she had one hand suspiciously close to her own crotch in sympathy.
Delinda told her slave that Charol was visiting, and Loji made a little purring noise deep in her throat in acknowledgement, whereupon Charol clasped one of her helpless little hands for a moment -- somehow, I'd have thought that shaking her warmly by the breast would have been more appropriate! And then Delinda found some wine, which she and Charol shared, after she'd set me up with a straw and a large pitcher of milk. I'd not realised how thirsty I was until then, and drank it all with great speed, down to the final disgusting slurping noises.
After that, we took our leave, and headed for Charol's room, which, by no coincidence, was next door to a tavern, 'The Lazy Goose'. "The place is old," Charol told me as we walked along another of the city's main streets, "but it's discreet, cheap, and the locks work."
I I I
Charol's room was on the ground floor, with its own door to the street. It was large, airy, and not particularly tidy, with a couple of sheepskin rugs on the bare boards, a rumpled double bed, wardrobe, table, storage chest, a couple of straight-backed wooden chairs, and a covered bucket. After helping me across the threshold with a hand on my bottom, she shrugged out of her jacket, and put it on a hanger on the back of the door. Myself, I headed meaningfully for the bucket.
After picking up a few previously-discarded items of clothing, Charol noticed where I was standing, and the slightly exaggerated way I'd crossed my legs. "All right, Memree, my imaginary playmate -- I get the idea. I'll unhook your chain at the front, and then you can have a good pee.''
She was as good as her word; the chain fell away from my poor undercarriage, and my arms suddenly had a good few inches of freedom, to remove the lid and discover that, messy housekeeper or not, my barbarienne had at least disposed of the slops before going out that morning, and even rinsed the thing out. I squatted, and watched as Charol drew the curtains across the window.
There was still plenty of light, but Charol lit an oil-lamp on her bedside table, and, after quickly smoothing the surface, sat on the bed. "Now, make yourself useful, and help me off with these boots, will you?"
Feeling absurdly happy for having accomplished something for myself, I replaced the lid, and hurried over, to kneel by Charol's feet. I grasped one smooth, shiny leather boot around the ankles, and looked up at my -- mistress? She certainly looked beautiful, and extremely sexy, in that thin, skimpy leotard, with her nipples pushing out against it, and a hint of the mysteries of her crotch below. She gazed at me fondly, I think, and I gave her an exaggerated wink, and began to pull.
"That's it," she commented, as the boot began to slide off, rather more easily than I had been expecting. "I call this real luxury." She stretched back lazily, pulling the fabric even tighter over her breasts.
I pulled on the second boot, now, which came off just as easily. Charol lay back, and I went to work on her gloves, which were thin enough leather to roll down. The smell of well-kept warm leather was almost overpowering me as I folded the gloves neatly, and placed them on the chest nearby. Now, how could I communicate my overwhelming desire for a bath to this mighty, sexy warrior?
I tried rubbing at some smudges on my stomach, and looking straight at Charol in what I hoped was a meaningful way. She sat up, undid her belt and carefully placed it and her sword on the bedside table, and grinned.
"Who's a dirty girl, then? I know what you want!" She swung her legs across onto the floor next to where I was still kneeling, and then stood up, ruffled my hair affectionately, and headed for the room's second door. "I'll get a jug of water, hopefully fairly warm, and then we can see to you properly."
She returned with a large pitcher, gently steaming, set in a decent-sized basin which also contained a bar of soap and a natural sponge. While I got to my feet, she put the basin on the floor, and got the other items ready.
"Step into the basin, Memree, and we'll begin."
My hobble-chain was just long enough to allow me to do this, while Charol dipped the sponge into the ewer, and ran the bar of soap across it a few times, to work up a lather, watching me.
"We'd better start at the top, with your grubby blonde hair," she commented, and poured a little water over my head. It was warm, and felt delicious as it trickled down towards the basin. She used the sponge on my hair and, after a brief warning to close my eyes, on as much of my face as was accessible, rinsed the sponge and wiped my face clean, and massaged my hair, before pouring more clean water over me. Then she started to soap my body, using the sponge again. Her touch was gentle, but it did wicked things to my breasts, when she singled them out for special attention. "You'll never get anywhere in life without a clean pair of boobs," she muttered as she admired her handiwork, water dripping from the nipples.
She used the bar of soap directly on my pubic bush, with one corner going a little further than strictly necessary ... but we all have to make sacrifices for personal cleanliness. The soap was perfumed, and I felt very grateful to be fragrant again. My back crack got a good soaping too, and my legs, before the sponge, rinsed, wiped away the lather, and Charol carefully poured the last of the jug's water onto all the right places, set it down, and hunted out a large white fluffy towel.
I'd started to shiver, but she rubbed me with the towel, starting with my hair, and continuing downwards. I held my arms out to be dried, then parted my legs, and enjoyed the luxury, the sense of well-being that the rub-down was giving me.
"You'd think you were the boss," Charol commented mildly, as I stepped out of the basin onto the bottom of the towel, and she knelt to dry my feet. Her leotard was splashed down the front now, and almost transparent in some interesting places.
I picked up the sponge, mimed its use, and raised an eyebrow in a way I hoped would seem cute but meaningful. She smiled, and tipped the grimy, soapy water back into the jug, which she then picked up. "You talked me into it."
She returned with the jug full of fresh hot water once more, and set it down by the basin, then smiled at me, standing there with soap and sponge at the ready. "You know, this ought to be more fun than my usual solo effort."
My wrist-chains would have stopped me raising both hands to head level, so I'd thought she might remove them, but, after peeling off her leotard, she knelt in the basin, her feet and ankles overhanging, and looked at me with a grin. "Be gentle -- and if you get soap in my eyes, I'm trying out all the gadgets Delinda lent me, so be careful too!"
I soaped her hair, and massaged the lather in; it felt good. The sponging continued, as I gently washed her face, standing close enough for my chains to touch the sides of her breasts, and stroke along towards her nipples, which were already looking perky. Once my soapy sponge had reached breast level, she stood up, and looked me straight in the eye, licking her lips; I crinkled my eyes in what I hoped would be interpreted as a grin, and then sank to my knees, the better to concentrate on her flat, firm stomach, and her neatly trimmed yet luxuriant black pubic bush. There were times when having one's mouth entirely out of action was a considerable frustration -- and this was one of them!
Charol's front was pretty near perfect, but, to my amazement, I'd found her back marred by old purple weals, at least a dozen from her shoulders to her waist. This made me angry, and there were tears in my eyes as I gently sponged along them. This woman had been whipped bloody -- what animal would ever do such a thing to such a beautiful, strong and confident woman?
She must have known what I was thinking from the course the sponge took. "That's old business you're seeing, Memree -- those scars are from years ago. Lucky a leotard hides them so well, eh?"
I wanted to know more, but I had no way to ask -- no right to ask, either. So I used the sponge to stroke her back gently, before continuing on downwards.
I poured the last of the water down her front. Her breasts dripped water... I turned away, and got the towel ready for her.
"This feels weird," she commented as I began to dry her. "For you too, I guess." She raised her arms for me to dry underneath, staring at the far wall. "I don't usually bring people back here, as you may have guessed from the general mess ... especially not naked, collared slavegirl types."
"I feel I can talk to you -- you make me want to talk more than -- hel, than anyone, I guess." I rubbed her breasts carefully, but she didn't seem to take any notice, except at the level of reflex. "Hel's drifts, I only had one glass of wine at Del's," she added, which was entirely the truth -- though most people use that size of glass for beer, not wine, it must be said.
"It's really strange," she went on, opening her legs automatically when I used one towel- covered hand to push them apart. "You've not said a word, I only met you two hours ago, you've probably only come with me because you have nowhere better to go, or don't want your friends to see you in that gag, but ... I feel as if you're my best friend, from growing up with the tribe, and my time in the wars, and, well, everything."
She stepped out onto the towel, looking so lovely that for a moment I wanted to see her in my collar and chains, powdered and perfumed for the bed of her powerful mistress, me. I dried her toes, and consoled myself with the thought that the one inside the bonds has her own sort of power. And anyway, this situation wasn't permanent, was it?
Charol, pink and dry, emptied the basin into the jug again, and pushed them both out of the way, before sitting on the edge of the bed. She looked at me, and patted the quilt beside her. "Come on, then, time for a girlish heart to heart, my hearty!"
I took my place beside her, pulling one wrist-chain out long enough to tap the gag with one finger, and trying to look wistful, though I had no idea how any of my expressions beyond wide-eyed innocence were working, with such a vital part of my face obscured by unyielding metal.
"I know you want it off, child," she said gently, with any hint of exasperation directed at the gag, not at me. "Sunil's teats, but I want it off, too -- to see so much of a mystery but not its heart, to want, but not know what it is I want, it's eating me up, driving me extremely crazy."
She mimed strangling herself, rolling her eyes, and then pushed her damp hair up into a terrible mop, making it all so theatrical that I gave a snort of laughter.
"See?" She calmed down, with a visible effort. "Anyway, with that gag in our way, conversation's going to be a bit one-sided, but let's try, shall we?"
I nodded, and gave a thumbs-up gesture.
"So, do you know what happened to Marius, Lord Restormel?" I shook my head.
"Do you know him -- would you recognise him -- tall, white hair, a big droopy moustache... ?'
I shook my head again, feeling miserable.
"Let's try something simpler. The name chalked on that dungeon door, that is you -- Memree?"
I shrugged as eloquently as I could, taking the chains into account.
"But you must..." She looked shocked. "Memree -- it is your name?"
I shrugged again, and could feel a tear gathering in the corner of my eye, and then trickling down onto my cheek.
"Oh, you poor babe." She hugged me to her fiercely, my head on her shoulder, and I relaxed, let her enfold me, and allowed the tears to come. Tears of relief that I'd been able to share my burden, mainly, as well as tears of self-pity.
I would have been quite willing to continue that hug until nightfall and beyond, but at last Charol set me back up beside her, looking at me very carefully. "So you can't remember your name, then -- but what do you remember?"
Again I shrugged... then pointed at her.
"You remember me -- me finding you in the dungeon, and nothing before?"
I nodded, eyes cast down... and then moved to hug my friend and captor. The chains meant I could only clutch the sides of her waist, until she drew me to her again.
We allowed ourselves to fall back onto the bed, still hugging, breasts squashed together. Charol was on top, one of her legs between mine. She kissed my jaw, just under the gag's metal band.
"I'm not this kind of girl, you know," she said gently, and then kissed the gag itself. "And I'm not going to become one until we can get rid of this bloody gag, and have a proper talk."
Somehow, she got hold of the chain at the back of my belt, and inexorably pulled my wrists in -- I didn't resist, except to savour the strength involved. Her other hand reached under my crotch, and brought the chain forward, brushing gently against my blonde bush, and I squirmed at the startlingly intense sensation. She clipped the chain into place, leaving my hands and arms helpless and my pussy bordered by the chains, and then kissed my neck, while I made a noise in my throat somewhere between a purr and a groan.
Charol pulled back the blankets and top sheet on the bed, and deftly rolled me on to the open part, rearranged the covers, and climbed in next to me. I moved languorously, so that my hip rubbed against hers, and looked across at her.
She looked at me, with a smile. "I must be mad," she commented, and I was in no position to disagree. "Now, you, get to sleep, and stop trying to deprave your mistress."
"We've got a busy day tomorrow, so we both need plenty of rest."
We hurried along the sunny, busy street the following morning. Charol was dressed as previously, except that today's leotard was a pale grey, and seemed to follow the contours of her body even more closely than yesterday's. She led me on a leather-and-chain leash clipped to my collar at a pace that, with my hobble-chain, meant I was nearly running.
I was rather more comprehensively dressed than before; none of it, however, covered the bits that counted, so I felt more naked than ever. I still had the belt Delinda had lent us, with my wrists carefully secured behind me, but I now had long white leather gloves, which ended not in fingers but in a single piece that kept fingers and thumb together. Above the belt I wore an unyielding white corset, which Charol had laced tight; it didn't cover my breasts, instead it pushed them up and forward, making me seem exceptionally well-developed. Charol had also laced a wide white leather 'posture collar' over the metal band, which kept my chin up at a rather haughty angle. This was linked to a sort of head harness, again in white leather, including straps over the top of my head and a band across my forehead, plus a pair of what on a horse I would call blinkers or blinders, preventing me from seeing to the side. "To take away attention from the gag", she'd commented as she had tightened the buckles. Could I argue with that?
Charol had brought a tray of breakfast in from the tavern, and helped me to suck up some specially thin porridge and a mug of hot, sweet cha before gorging herself on a plate of eggs, sausages, tomatoes, and fried bread. And then, after clipping the leash into place, she had announced that we had got an appointment.
We approached an impressive three-storey townhouse in a quieter part of town, and my companion gave me a little boost up the front steps. "As I told you, I've been hired to find Marius, Lord Restormel, and I need to give his wife a progress report -- with you part of it."
She pulled on the bell; we could hear it ringing inside. "I just hope you're not their long-lost daughter, or I've got some explaining to do!"
An elderly butler opened the door, and gave a thin smile when he saw Charol. "Ah, sera Charolia... Milady gave orders you were to see her at once."
"Thanks. The toy-girl's with me." As if the leash didn't make that obvious. The man allowed himself a quick glance at me, and a broader smile. I felt myself blush.
We walked into a long, high-ceilinged hall, panelled in wood and decorated with old, expensive-looking paintings, and followed the butler along to a set of double doors. "That's an intricate lock-gag you're using, sera," he commented, glancing at me again.
"The little minx deserves it," Charol replied casually, and I blushed even more deeply.
"Sera Charolia, M'sera," the butler announced, ushering us into a large and elegant reception room. A log fire blazed merrily in the grate, beneath a large painting of a handsome, moustached, grey-haired man. Lady Restormel stood in front of the fire, middle-aged but still a good-looking woman. She wore a long black dress, slit up one side and baring a large diamond-shape of stomach. Her hair was still jet black, and intricately curled. She looked at Charol questioningly.
"I assume I'd have heard from you earlier if you had any definite news."
"Indeed, Lady Restormel," Charol replied. "I searched the dungeons of the castle thoroughly---"
"And found nothing?"
"Only this toy-girl, whom I've appropriated. You've never seen her before, I assume?"
Charol had let the leash drop between my breasts, and I stood still as Lady Restormel approached, and walked round me, scrutinising me with care. I looked straight ahead, and found myself staring into the lively, intelligent eyes of the portrait over the fireplace.
"Well, I don't recognise the little slut -- you keep her, certainly." She came closer, and prodded my breast with one finger.
"She knows nothing," Charol added. "I brought her along in case she'd been a servant or slave here, or recognised you or your husband's portrait--"
"Why is she staring at it like that?" Her voice was sharp, annoyed.
I turned towards Lady Restormel, and stared at her. That face -- those faces -reminded me of something, but it escaped my grasp, and was gone.
"Memree -- eyes down!"
That broke the spell. I broke eye contact with the now extremely annoyed aristocrat, and looked at the carpet, bending forward slightly at the waist, while Charol grabbed the leash, holding it halfway along.
"The impudent little bitch -- she deserves a whipping!"
"Your pardon, m'sera... She's a bit simple, I'm afraid," Charol said grimly. "I'll teach her better manners today, my word on it!"
She held the leash as if she was about to strike me with its end... but her anger, at least, soon fizzled out.
"See that you do," Lady Restormel commented, before drawing a deep breath, and turning her attention back to her husband's portrait. "Anyway, you must search the rest of the castle, particularly the parts that aren't used these days."
She turned back towards Charol. "I'm convinced my husband never left there -I want him back, or I want his body to bury."
"Understood, Lady Restormel. Of course, I'll need to bribe my way in again, so--"
She pulled a cord hanging beside the fireplace, and we could hear the distant tinkling of a bell. "Quite. See our chamberlain on your way out."
Charol pulled on my leash, and we headed for the door, which was being opened again by the butler. "Thank you, m'sera."
As we left the room, she called after us -- "I want my husband, mercenary -or I want revenge!"
After Charol received a fresh, satisfyingly heavy purse from the house's chamberlain, we set off back to our room. Charol was annoyed, both with me and with her employer, and walked even faster; I had to run, trotting daintily, to keep up, very aware of what I'd land on if I tripped, and I was breathless by the time we got back. Charol stood me in the middle of the room, and looked at me solemnly.
"Back in the castle -- it's just as well the woman pays generously!"
"And as for you, Memree, misbehaving like that, and staring at your betters ... Kneel down!"
She pulled in the hobble until my ankles were touching, and then pushed a rope between the chains through my crotch and me. She then wound the rope tightly round my ankles, and knotted it, so that I was kept kneeling back on my heels. "I've promised to teach you better manners, haven't I -- and this should be a start."
Charol crouched in front of me, and unclipped the blinkers from the head-harness, before producing a brown leather full-head hood, with only nostril-holes plus a lace-up back. "I've got preparations to make", she said, as she thrust the richly-smelling leather over my head, pulling it on tightly. "You're staying here," she added rather needlessly, I thought, as she began to lace the back of the hood together securely.
The last thing she said to me was "Struggle if you want, girl -- but if you fall over, you will be punished for it. You'll have a more helpful attitude when I get back, I hope."
1 heard the door close. I couldn't see a scrap of light, and could hardly move. Plug-gagged, hooded, bound and corsetted, even my fingers restrained -- was ever a girl more helpless? And yet, the touch and smell of the leather was so sensual, the knowledge of who had done this to me... it all lit a fire inside me, a heat I could encourage by just squirming slightly and pulling on my wrist-cuffs...
It can't have been any later than mid-morning when I heard the door open again, and Charol's voice saying "What, still there?" in a cheerful tone.
She must have crouched by me again, because I felt her hands gently exploring my breasts.
"Say, these are a bit hard, aren't they?" She squeezed them for emphasis, and I wriggled, which in turn led to a moan deep in my throat. A finger explored the lips of my pussy, and prodded in -- I shuddered, and tried to lean forward.
"This was supposed to be a punishment", she said, and started unlacing the hood. "But I just can't help treating you well, can I!'
The light was almost blinding as she pulled the hood off, and I closed my eyes; when I opened them again, the blinkers were back in place. Charol unwound the rope from around my ankles and slid it out from against my undercarriage, and then cranked the hobble-chain back out to its full length, before helping me to my feet.
"I'm going back to the castle -- d'you want to come with me?"
The posture collar made nodding difficult, but I managed enough for her to get the idea. She shucked off her jacket, and unbuckled her belt, before giving me a hug. "Brave girl."
She began to pull off her leotard, and I noticed a fresh one in shiny black on the bed. She saw me looking at it, and smiled.
"I'm going to give you a little competition on our foray -- it may slow down the guards' reactions a bit." She crumpled the grey leotard into a ball, and threw it onto a chair, before picking the fresh black one up. "Now, close your eyes, my friend..."
It was only seconds before I got the all-clear, and saw Charol wearing, if that was the word, the leotard. It was shiny black, very thin and incredibly form-hugging... on that score, my bits of bare flesh were more modest. It was cut so high at the thigh (or arm-pit) that it needed a few bits of thin black cord to hold it together -- and, as Charol turned to give me the full effect, I could see that it was so narrow at the back, below waist level, as to be practically nonexistent. It had full-length sleeves and a neck-high collar... and perhaps I should mention the heart- shaped cut-out at the front, revealing her navel at its bottom tip, and cut away to expose her breasts at the top. The effect was -well, if she'd given me slave papers to sign there and then, they'd have been signed without any thought being required.
Charol smiled nervously, as I gracefully knelt in submission once more, and bowed my head. "Chump", she muttered, and buckled her swordbelt back on, then donned her jacket again, which she carefully fastened at the front.
Again she helped me to my feet, and gave me another friendly slap on the bottom. "Let's both have a pee, and then get out of here!"
We got past Torner at his gate with no problem; Charol gave him a purse roughly half the size of the one she'd got from the Restormel chamberlain. That much he expected -- when my barbarienne sweetly asked him to look after her jacket, and removed it to reveal the leotard, which in turn revealed... Well, he gave a wonderful impression of dying of indigestion, though he probably meant his act to have a more romantic interpretation.
'Strange, he usually only holds one pikestaff", Charol commented, once we were inside. She unhooked the chain from the front of my belt, freeing my arms, at least to a certain extent; I pulled at the wrist-cuffs, bringing the chain around, and flexed my shoulders. I might still be hobbled, collared, corsetted, blinkered, and mouth-plugged, but this amount of freedom seemed positively overwhelming.
"Stay close to me, youngster," she said, looking at me closely. "And if there's any fighting, well, try to keep out of the way, yes?"
We set off in a different direction from the previous evening's escapade, with Charol keeping one hand on her sword-hilt and the other, since I wasn't leashed, on my belt, her fingers warm against my side. The corridors were dusty and lit only by skylights, and with every corner we turned seemed to get dustier, with cobwebs more intrusive.
"Last time I went down, and found you in the dungeons, my silent one," Charol commented, when we reached spiral stone stairs at the end of a narrow, mud-floored corridor. "Just to be different, tonight let's start at the top."
So, we climbed upwards. Considering that the castle wasn't particularly huge, and was inhabited by the town-lord, his family, retainers, guards, and servants, it was positively unnatural that nobody came this way -- ever, judging by the webs we had to push through. I've since decided that the tower we'd chosen to investigate had a repulsion/effacement spell on it, which did not work on us because we didn't belong in the castle... Or perhaps the strong enchantment on my gag disrupted it for us.
The spiral stone staircase finished on a small landing; a quick check showed only two empty store-rooms on this level. Curiously, everything here was completely clean, unlike even the first step down the stairs. We were not yet at the top, however; a sturdy wooden ladder led up to a circular hole in the ceiling.
Charol went first, and I followed cautiously, wishing my chains would not chink and rattle so. She helped me over a low wall, into the tower's top room; above, we could see the old oak beams supporting the roof.
Since it was the whole width of the tower, the room was large. In some ways, it reminded me of Delinda's workroom, with its restraint devices hung on the wall ... but here there weren't just cuffs and chains and collars, corsets, hoods and straps, light switch-whips and leathers, here there were torture devices too. Chains with cuffs hung from the ceiling, with pulleys to lift the victim off the ground; there were long, heavy whips, some with barbs along their length. A rack for stretching its victims was ready for use; there was a long, sturdy oak table with tongs and clips and pincers strewn about, an unlit brazier and its irons, a rack of keys, even at least one gag like mine -- but could the part in my mouth really be that big? A tall, bulky 'iron maiden' leant against one wall, with the spikes inside its lid visible. Put a victim in there, and close the door inch by inch, until the spikes started their inexorable penetration... I shivered. Suddenly, it was cold...
Charol moved forward into the room, towards a pale wooden coffin, set on a pair of trestles, and I followed. Strangely, the place had the smell of a pine forest in spring -- but with a rather unpleasant sweetness underlying it. My champion pushed the coffin's lid sideways, and we peered in. He was dead, as white as marble and as cold, when I touched his face. The chill went through my glove as if it wasn't there. I felt -- sadness? Had I known Lord Restormel? There was almost a familiarity, somehow. Charol put her hand on my shoulder, and was about to speak-
"He's dead, you meddling cow, and you'll join him -- in a day or two!"
The words were too loud, and almost inside our heads. Charol drew her sword, and moved away from the coffin...
There was a glow in the air, between us and the ladder down. It grew brighter, and then started to develop a dark blue centre.
"The castle's people have forgotten this tower exists -- so you, you silly bitch, must be from outside, yess?"
The blue centre took on human form ... a woman's form, though half a head taller than Charol. It was almost as if she was clad in skin-tight blue leather from head to toe, but that wasn't clothing, that was sorcery. There was no mouth visible, but the eyes were a pair of burning white ovals. And her sword glowed blue-white, too.
"Am I a bitch or a cow, lanky? I've always thought of myself as more of the lioness type." This was my first experience of Charol's fighting style. She says that making her opponents angry leads to them making mistakes -- but from what I've seen, I'd say it tends to make them even keener to cut her open, pull out her guts, and strangle her with them. And the flippant humour she exhibits in such situations, I think, leads her to under-estimate the foes in front of her.
"My name is ATZMON, cow-dugs -- Atzmon, flame of magic!"
"Is cow-dugs your middle name, do you mean?"
With a wordless scream of rage, Atzmon rushed at Charol, sword aloft. At the last moment Charol side-stepped, ducked, and sliced at Atzmon's side. Where her sword touched Atzmon's blue 'skin', there was a sudden flare of light ... When she drew her sword back, the tip of the blade had melted.
I had edged around to the far side of the oak table, and could hardly bear to watch what seemed a terribly one-sided fight. And, while I've never truly remembered anything from before Charol's entrance into my dungeon, disturbing images flooded my head, full of fears and nightmare. Hanging from those chains ... Atzmon coldly chanting from a spell-book nobody human could even focus on ... Lord Restormel helpless yet defiant... A sacrifice, and Atzmon's chilling laughter...
There was an old, blackened sword in my fist; I'd picked it up from the table. It looked as if it had been dug out of a fire-pit, the blade was flaking and rusted, but Atzmon lunged again, Charol parried, and Charol's sword shattered into a thousand pieces. She rolled away frantically, and looked my way -- I threw the sword to her.
"So, scar-back, you've returned my little experiment to me -- the dear sweet 'Memree', so eager to please!"
"What did you do to her, demon?" Charol held the sword ready, waiting for Atzmon's next attack.
"Merely improved the little animal," the reply came, filling the room. My insides were ice-water, the whole tower seemed to buzz with energy, making my hair stand on end where it could. "A lack-wit she was, but with a little sorcerous boost from me, courtesy of the late Lord Restormel, she's actually quite clever now, in her own way!"
"You killed Restormel, for your experiment?"
"I'd expected to send his lady back a drooling simpleton, which would have been amusing--" She lunged, batting aside Charol's sword with casual strength. Charol rolled away again, barely managing to hold on to her weapon. "--but instead I got a corpse. It's no matter to me."
It was to me, though. I didn't understand it, the words seemed to wriggle and fade in my mind. I stared at the table, looking for something to throw, to distract the hulking she-demon. A fist-sized wooden box ... but whatever was in it was so heavy I couldn't even lift the thing. A steaming bottle of what looked like thick red wine...but it was too hot to touch, seared my hand from inches away. I threw an empty glass flagon, but it bounced off her back as a molten globule, Atzmon didn't even notice it. What else was there? A wire cage containing a single pigeon; a tray with the remains of a meal on it, already mouldy; a head-only version of an iron maiden, its front open to reveal long spikes to pierce the neck and both eyes; a pair of pincers, some half-used dark red candles, a metal boot which could be screwed tight until flesh burst and bones cracked. I picked it up, almost fainting when dried blood flaked off, and waited my chance.
"You're not saying Memree is Lord Restormel, in mind?"
Atzmon stopped her advance for a moment. I got the impression she'd break out laughing. "Oh no, his mind and thoughts are dead and gone -- I just ladled her a little of his intelligence, the dark gods know she needed it!"
Charol attacked now, and the swords clanged together. She was sweaty now, and getting worried, while Atzmon was merely amused, a cat playing with her next meal. I threw the torture-boot, but Atzmon's sword flicked out, cutting it in two -- Charol had to duck as one half flew straight at her.
The duel continued. They'd moved well away from the ladder down, and I might have managed to escape -- but where to? Using a low stool, I managed to clamber up onto the table, on my knees at first and then standing. Ignoring the clash of swords, I stared desperately at the items by my feet. There was a little heap of bloodied clothing, an oil-lamp and a flask of oil, a long saw studded with what I hoped were animal teeth. But there was one possibility, if I didn't mind probably getting killed,...
Charol got through Atzmon's guard -- again there was a flash of light as her sword touched the she-demon's hide, but at least this sword didn't melt, and it left a line bleeding light across Atzmon's flank.
"You think you can hurt me," Atzmon taunted her. "Here, swords are for cissies, let's you and me wrestle," she announced, letting her sword drop and advancing on my champion. But she circled warily, and Atzmon moved closer to the table, her back to me.
Atzmon grabbed Charol's blade, and tried to pull it out of her grasp -and I leapt onto her back, grasping the iron maiden head, crammed it down on her, and slammed the front shut with all my strength.
I flew through the air, landing on the coffin, which fell off its trestles ... I ended up on the floor, bruised and breathless. Charol stood nearby, watching as Atzmon tried to pull the iron contraption off her head.
Anyone human would have been dead by now, but Atzmon was upright, if staggering, tugging at the head-piece and making a sound like a thousand mice being crushed in a cider press. I thought of the spike through her neck, how the eye-spikes must have been driven deep into her brain, and only just stopped myself throwing up -- not a good idea when gagged.
Charol waited her moment, and then swept her sword around, cutting through Atzmon's neck as if through butter. The metal-encased head flew free, along with the two hands that had been grasping it, and the body crumpled -literally, shrinking and deflating like an untied balloon.
The head hit the wall, and bounced back, rolling to a halt by Charol's feet. I got up shakily. My first priority was to check the assortment of keys on display.
Charol picked the metal head up, looked inside. "Empty," she announced, though it took two attempts before the word came out clearly. "I hope she's dead, or we will both be very annoyed."
She moved over to the coffin. "I'm definitely not charging Lady Restormel enough for this, you know."
I approached her, holding a small, insignificant-looking key. "Memree, that was very, very brave of you... I owe you my life, I'm sure." At that point, she noticed the key. "That's it, you reckon -- the key? And you want me to do the honours?"
She took it, and cautiously inserted it in the tiny crack... and the gag sprang wide open, letting her remove its core from my mouth. She held the gag for a moment, feeling its weight and looking at the size of its plug, then clicked it shut, and put it down on the table.
She looked at my face, and hugged me to her; I smiled, and then raised my lips to hers. The kiss was very gentle, tentative, but we promised each other a lot more.
"Well," she said softly, still holding me close, "That was worth waiting for. I suppose I ought to unstrap, unlock, unbuckle and unlace you generally, now?"
"Let's not do anything hasty," I replied gently, pressing myself against her. "With all the equipment here, we ought to be able to find a ball-gag to fit this head-harness, don't you think... ?'
"Well -- if you're sure... "
"Think of it as saving my mouth for later."
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