The hot midday sun hung in the sky over the Hashitai Maze. The seemingly endless labyrinth of rocky cliffs and plateaus was baked in the scorching heat. There were no roads through the maze. Few travelers came this way.
A solitary figure stumbled over the rocky ground, following the cliffside. Periodically, he would stop in the shade of a rocky outcropping, to take a sip from a small skin of water and consult a scrap of parchment held in one hand. After a few minutes, though, he would set off again, casting a nervous glance over one shoulder back the way he had come.
He was a young man; a youth of some 19 summers. His skin was tanned a dark bronze by the sun. On his head was a ragged mop of tangled black hair and the beginnings of a beard. He wore a pair of torn, ragged pants, tied with a length of rope at the waist and a leather vest, a cloth cap and worn leather sandals. Hanging from his makeshift belt was a leather pouch with something heavy inside. Beneath his clothes, the young man had the thin, lithe body of an acrobat or tumbler. His name was Hamon, a lowly street thief of the city of Kadai, not far to the south. The great trading city stood on the crossroads of the major caravan routes crossing the continent.
Pausing once more in the shade of a large pillar of stone, he poured the last of his water into his dry mouth. For a few minutes more at least, his mouth wouldn’t feel as dry as the sand that covered the ground all around. He glanced once more at the grubby bit of parchment in his hand. The grime from countless fingers had almost completely obscured the complex marks on it, showing the narrow chasms of the Maze…and a path, winding its way into the center of the natural labyrinth. As near as he could tell, he was getting close to the end.
As Hamon started again, he glanced over his shoulder. He thought he didn’t think his pursuers would follow him into the wastes, but if he was wrong, the thief would suffer a thousand deaths at their hands before the final one ended his torment.
The sun was just starting to sink when the thief came to a dead end in the canyon; his destination…assuming he hadn’t become lost in the maze like countless travelers whose bones lay scattered among the rocks. And assuming the blind, old storyteller who had given Hamon the map had not deceived him.
Anxiously, the young man ran his hands over the rock face at the end of the path. The ancient marks were all but invisible to the eye, the sandstone worn away by wind and time, but underneath his fingers, he could still feel the glyphs faintly, as he’d been told.
Following them, Hamon came to a fissure in the rock, just large enough to admit a man on hands and knees. After a few minutes, clambering in the darkness, the tunnel opened into a larger chamber. It was a natural cave, but the hand of man had also been at work here, carving stairs and doorways into the rock. The same men who had shaped the cave had also cut holes into the ceiling. The sun was still high enough in the sky to let in a little bit of light through these openings.
Hamon passed through the chambers, following the winding stairs downward, deeper and deeper into the cave. The light from further up in the cave grew dimmer, but enough was reflected off the polished stone walls that the young thief could make his way further down without need of a torch. At last he reached the bottom on the stairs and all doubt was immediately erased from Hamon’s mind that he was in the right place. Before him was a large door, built into the cave walls out of gilded metal. Worked into the door were myriad symbols, depicting men, beasts, stars and gods.
In the center of the door, was a recessed opening, sunken into the metal, in the shape of a six-pointed star. Inside were more indentations. Hands trembling, Hamon reached down to his belt, to the leather pouch that hung there; the heavy weight that he had been carrying since he left the city. Opening it up, the thief slipped a hand into the pouch and drew out a large, golden talisman. It was fitted with a single diamond of great size and beauty in the center, with smaller lines of flaming rubies extending on each of the points.
On the back of the talisman were a number of curiously shaped indentations. When the thief held it up to the door, they matched the shape of the recess perfectly. He pushed the talisman into the slot, pushing it back until there was an audible ‘click’. Inside the door, some complex machinery went to work, unlocking the vault. Hamon pushed on the door, which slowly yielded to the pressure, swinging inward.
On the other side of the door was a large treasure chamber. Objects of gold and silver, dappled with ivory and previous stones of every color filled the corners of the room. But what immediately drew Hamon’s eye was a stone pedestal in the center of the chamber. Sitting atop it was a small, plain, oil lamp.
Hesitantly, Hamon stepped into the room, alert for any traps, but there didn’t seem to be any, or else years of neglect had rendered them inoperable. He slowly walked up to the pedestal. Peering down, the thief studied the lamp. It was unremarkable, the sort of thing that might have been found in any poor man’s home and never given a second glance. The lamp was made of copper, with a central chamber on small stubby legs. On one side was a looped handle, on the other a narrow spout, where the wick would be placed. The lamp was quite old; countless hands had held it before and left their mark on the dull metal.
Remembering what the storyteller had told him, Hamon picked up the lamp. Holding it in one hand, he gently rubbed the fingers of his other hand against the side of the lamp. Immediately, it began to shake and the thief had to struggle to hold onto it. A thick stream of green smoke shot out of the end of the lamp.
The cloud of smoke hung in the air in front of Hamon. It started to take on shape. In a few short moments, a spirit floated before him. It had the appearance of a beautiful, young woman with light green skin. Long hair, of a darker green, was tied back in a long ponytail, which hung down to her waist.
The djinn, Hamon had no doubt that was what she was, was dressed in the garb of a harem slave. Thin, wispy cloth, made of semi-transparent smoke, formed a green veil over the lower half of her face, a band around her large, round breasts, and a pair of baggy pants, ending in pointed slippers. The clothes were semi-transparent. Hamon could make out the shape of her nipples at the end of her perky breasts and a patch of dark green hair between her long legs.
Locked around the djinn’s neck was a collar made of gold, engraved with magic symbols that glowed with power. A chain, fashioned of dozens of points of light, ran from the collar to the spout of the lamp held in the thief’s trembling hands. Similar gold shackles bound the spirit’s hands and feet.
Long ago, some sorcerer of great power had defeated and captured this djinn, binding her with strong magicks to the lamp. If the stories Hamon had been told were true, whoever found the lamp could demand a single wish from the djinn and she would be forced to grant it.
The djinn regarded the thief with large, curious eyes of a brilliant emerald color. After a second, she lowered her head and bowed to him. “I am the slave of the lamp, O Master!” She said in a loud voice that echoed in the treasure room. “Speak your wish and I shall obey.”
“Slave of the Lamp!” Hamon began. He hesitated. “There…there is one thing, which I desire above all else…” the young man thought back and, despite himself, he quickly found himself telling his tale to the djinn.
In the city of Kadai, the sultan who ruled there had a daughter name Farai. She was said to be a young maiden of great beauty, intelligence and grace. Her father loved her so well that, to the shock of all, he had granted the princess the right to choose her own husband; whomever she wished. However, none of the suitors her father had provided pleased the princess. She had rejected them all. The girl was to turn 19 in a few weeks, still without a husband arranged.
Not long ago, Hamon had dared to sneak into the palace, risking execution in order to steal a few trinkets to sell. Deciding, if he was caught, he might as well be beheaded for something worthwhile, while he was in the palace, the thief climbed to a window and peered into the women’s quarters of the palace, where the sultan’s harem was kept, hoping to spy one of the many beauties the wealthy ruler owned.
It was also where his daughter lived. By chance, Hamon happened to look in while the Princess was disrobing to be bathed by her handmaidens. He had immediately been struck by the young woman’s beauty. For days afterwards, he had been unable to think of anything else. He knew he would do anything, if it would win him the heart of the Princess.
Hamon had spoken to an old woman, who was known in the city as a soothsayer and storyteller. She had told the young thief about this cave and the lamp within it, given him the map showing how to get there, and spoke of the jeweled key needed to unlock the bronze door. After first, he had scoffed at her tale. How could stories of some mystical cave win him the love of the Princess? That was, until he had seen the jeweled key at the House of Ophir.
In the respectable quarters of Kadai, he was known as Ophir the Merchant, but in whispered conversations he had another name: Ophir the Thief King. He was master of the Thieves’ Quarter in the city. All the thieves came to him with their stolen plunder for him to sell and split the profits. One such man brought in the star-shaped talisman, stolen from a traveler in the foreign district. Hamon recognized it at once.
It was dangerous for any thief to withhold their plunder from Ophir. To steal from the Thief King himself was madness. His ruthless knifemen would hunt down the poor fool who tried and subject him to the thousand and one deaths they were known and feared for. But, foolish with love, Hamon had stolen the talisman, fleeing the city ahead of the knifemen into the Maze and came at last to this cave.
The Djinn had listened impassively as Hamon told his story. When he finished, she spoke. “So you are in love with this Princess Farai? What is your wish then? To make her your wife? Your concubine?”
Hamon shook his head. “What I wish for is for you to make it possible that the Princess will fall in love with me, as I love her.”
“Very well, Master. Your slave shall obey!” the chains on the Djinn’s wrists jingled as she raised her hands and clapped twice.
There was a bright flash of light and a thunderclap and Hamon was momentarily blinded. When his vision returned, he was no longer standing in the treasure cave. He was standing on the bank of a large oasis, far from the wastes. One he was no longer a ‘he’…
“By the gods!” Hamon said, his voice oddly high pitched. On his chest, a new pair of large, round breasts strained to break free from the best he wore. His lithe figure now curved in at the stomach, before widening out again at the hips. The thief’s pants were now too small; he had to quickly retie the belt to keep them from falling. Between his legs, Hamon realized his manhood was gone, replaced by the lips of a woman’s sex.
“I’m a woman!” Hamon cried in surprise. Raising a hand to her brow, she found that, while his beard and mustache were gone, they’d been more than replaced by the long, flowing black locks of hair on her head. Hamon stumbled forward awkwardly, unused to her new body. Her hips swayed with every step and the new weight on her chest was disconcerting. She knelt at the edge of the oasis and peered into the waters. A stranger looked back up at her, with only the slightest resemblance to the man she had once been. Still, she had to admit, this new face was quite beautiful. Almost as beautiful as the princess…
“oh no…” Hamon said, quietly with a groan. How would she ever win the heart of the princess now? “Why did the Djinn change me like this?” Hamon wondered. “How does this fulfil my wish?” For a few minutes, she sat by the shore of the oasis, fuming angrily and cursing that wicked Djinn and all the spirits of the desert for their trickery.
The young woman might have continued like this for some time, but she was distracted by the sound of a group of people approaching the oasis; a large group of people. Faintly, over the dunes, Hamon heard the padding of many feet against the sand, the rattle of metal chains jangling together, the crack of a lash and the sound of a young woman crying out in pain…
Hamon jumped to her feet in fright. Awkwardly, the young woman clambered up a nearby tree, hiding in the branches and leaves. She had just made it when the slave caravan came over the last sand dune and into the oasis. Fearfully, the young thief peered out of her hiding spot at the group.
In the lead were several men in desert robes, riding on camels. The last of them had in his hand the end of a chain. Attached to the other end was an iron collar locked around the throat of a pretty young maiden who walked along at the head of a long slave coffle. Following along behind her were the other captives.
Near as Hamon could tell, all of the slaves were young women and girls. They wore only the tattered rags of their dresses, which did little to preserve any last shred of modesty they might have had. Each girl wore shackles on her hands and feet and a collar, linking her to the slaves ahead and behind her in the coffle with two short chains. Finally, the women appeared to be muzzled with a gag of tight straps which held a leather bit, like the bridle of a horse, securely in their mouths to keep the slaves silent during the march.
Behind the last, shuffling girl rode more slavers and pack camels, carrying provisions. The slavers drove their chattel down to the banks of the oasis before bringing them to a halt. The exhausted slaves sank to their knees with groans of relief. The slavers drove two long, metal spikes, through the chain leads of the first and last slaves in the line, into the ground, tethering the whole coffle in place. They then went and began unloading things from the camels. A cook fire was built from camel dung and some of the slavers went to collect water from the oasis to water their thirsty captives.
With a groan, Hamon realized the slavers were planning to camp here for the night. Maybe even for a few days, to rest their human merchandise and let them regain their strength for the next leg of the journey. Given her current state, Hamon knew she didn’t want to be found by the slavers. A young, pretty girl, alone in the wilderness without protection was in danger of being snatched by the slave traders. Many a slave she had seen for sale in Kadai’s extensive slave markets had been peasant lasses, carried off by passing raiders when they wandered too far from home without escort.
“Maybe they won’t see me…” she thought to herself. The sun was now getting low in the horizon. “When it’s dark, I’ll climb down and sneak away. I can hide out in the dunes until the slavers leave. I just need to stay hidden a little-“
Hamon had little warning before the branch of the tree, which she had believed to be sturdy enough, suddenly gave way under her weight. She tumbled out of the tree with a cry. Fortunately, a bush was underneath her when she fell, which cushioned her fall and she wasn’t hurt. Unfortunately, her fall wasn’t quiet. As the young woman scrambled to her feet, some of the slavers were already running over to investigate.
Hamon dodged one man who leapt forward to grab her. She turned and ran for her life. The slavers knew their trade well, however. The young woman had not gone more than a dozen paces before one of them threw a rope lasso which caught her. She yelped as she was yanked backwards, falling to the ground.
Before she could get up again, the man was on her. Using the long rope, he quickly lashed her hands and feet together, the way one might hogtie a calf for branding. Hamon kicked and struggled as best she could, but before long, she was reduced to a helpless, squirming package.
The slavers picked up their catch and dragged her over to their camp. Setting her down by the fire, they examined their newest captive. Hamon cursed the men as they pawed over her body, until one of the slavers ran to fetch a gag and the bit was forced between her teeth. The thief’s clothes were soon torn off, exposing her body to the men. The slavers were, understandably shocked at finding a pretty young maiden alone in such as place, and dressed as a man, but seeing her naked figure, they quickly decided it wouldn’t do to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially a mare as fine as this.
One of the slavers brought out an iron collar and a set of shackles. These were put on Hamon and she was led over to the other captives and added to the end of the coffle. As night fell, the frightened captive lay on the sandy ground, huddled close to the other, naked slaves to stave off the night’s chill air, wondering how her life had changed so much in such a short time. Only a few hours ago, she had been a young man, hoping to claim the heart of the Princess. Now she was a freshly captured slave girl, soon to be sold to some nobleman’s harem or worse…
The next morning, after the slavers had cooked their breakfast, they gave their chattel some water, to drink and got them ready to move. Each girl had a water skin hung around her shoulders for the journey ahead. The slavers leapt onto their camels and with curses and liberal use of the lash, got the slave caravan moving.
Trudging along at the end of the coffle, Hamon sweltered under the hot sun. As a thief, he had rarely ventured out during the day. Night was when he plied his skills. Better to idle away the hot hours of the day in one of the many cantinas, sipping sweet wine and watched the naked slave girls dancing. She found herself falling behind again and again. Each time, the slavers used their whips to keep her from slowing down the coffle too much. Before long, her back was red with lash marks.
When the sun had reached its midpoint, the slavers paused to rest. A cloth awning was strung out to shade them and the slaves. To the women’s relief, they were finally given some more water as well. After an hour, when the sun wasn’t quite so hot, their march resumed. They kept moving through the evening until the sun had set and they could no longer see well enough to keep going. Then the slavers made camp, watered the captives and fed them hard, dry biscuits. As they cooked their own supper over a campfire, the women lay down in their chains, taking what rest they could before the next day’s march.
That routine was repeated the next day; marching in the morning and evening, resting at midday and night, and the day after that. On the morning of the third day since Hamon’s capture, the caravan came into sigh of Kadai.
“Home again…” Hamon thought as she spied the sandstone walls of the city on the horizon. The young woman ruefully considered how much had changed since a week ago when the thief had set out to find the lost cave and the Djinn inside it. “At least I don’t have to worry about Ophir and his knifemen…” she thought. The thief king would never, in a thousand lifetimes recognize the naked slave girl being marched into the city in chains as the young thief who had stolen the talisman from him.
That day, the slave caravan did not stop at midday to rest. Instead, they pushed on through the irrigated fields, filled with naked slaves toiling amongst the grain, and reached the city gates in the late afternoon. A crowd was gathered around the gate, farmers returning from their fields, merchants bringing in their wares and of course, locals seeing who was coming into the city. The arrival of the slave caravan quickly gathered the attention of all those nearby.
The helpless slaves sobbed as their naked bodies were examined by every eye around the gate. With their hands chained, they couldn’t even try to cover themselves. Only a handful of the slaves had even a shred of cloth covering her body and these were quickly torn away by the crowd that pressed around the helpless women.
The slavers kept watch over their chattel, to prevent the crowd from damaging their valuable merchandise, but they didn’t mind the men feeling up the slaves. Muffled squeals rose up from the girls as hands reached out from the crowd to paw at their naked breasts or ran up their thighs to finger their snatches.
Hamon whimpered into her gag as several men roughly groped her body. Her cheeks flushed red with shame, as several of the men shouted what they would do with her, if they owned her. “Any of them could be my new owner, soon enough…” she thought, trembling with fright.
At long last, the coffle broke free of the crowd. The women shuffled down the streets, towards the slave district. Hamon had rarely ventured to that part of the city in her old life. The slave markets were on the outskirts of the poor district, well away from the noble’s quarters where there were rich pickings for thieves. As they got close, the caravan could pick up the smell from the slave pens, of thousands of unwashed bodies sweating in the hot sun.
At one of the slave dealers, a man in the robes of a palace functionary came out to inspect the coffle of new slaves, accompanied by a slave girl with a stylus and wax tablet. He went down the line, taking each girl’s name and, after carefully inspecting her teeth, breasts and sex, gave a value for the palace tax records. These were marked down by the young scribe.
“And who is this beauty?” the official said, eyeing Hamon at the end of the line. The young woman cringed as he reached forward to cup one of her breasts.
“Maritha.” The slaver joked. The word meant “Desert Blossom” in one of the trade languages common among slave dealers. “We…found her alone, like a desert flower hidden in an oasis, only a few days ago.”
Hamon, now officially the slave Maritha, sighed as the name was marked down. It was fruitless to argue. For one thing, they likely wouldn’t believe her name was Hamon; a man’s name. For another, the gag made it difficult to argue anything in her current position.
The young woman endured the older man’s inspection with glum resignation. He finished and named a high price for her to his scribe. A number of guards then came out of the building to take charge of the coffle. Along with the other women, Maritha shuffled into the dark interior.
Inside, the slaves were unchained. The metal collars and shackles were returned to the slavers, while the women had their hands lashed together with rope. In another room, a group of slave women, stripped naked save for a collar bearing the sigil of the slave dealership that owned them; were waiting with buckets of lukewarm water and stiff bristled brushes. With rough efficiency, they washed the dust of the desert off the new slaves, to make them clean for the auction block.
Wet and shivering in the cool, stone chambers, the slaves were herded down another hallway and into a small cell. Outside, Maritha could hear the sounds of the auction, muffled by the thick stone walls of the dungeon. The slaves huddled in the cell for the better part of an hour as other slaves were being sold. Soon enough, their turn came. The cell door was opened and a guard stepped into the room. He reached out and grabbed the girl closest to the door. The startled captive was dragged out of the room, the cell door slamming shut behind her.
After that, every few minutes, a man would come to take away another slave. Some of the frightened women shrank back from the door, hiding in the corners of the cell, so they wouldn’t be taken next. Maritha couldn’t see the point. Sooner or later, they were all going to be taken out and sold. There wasn’t any point in delaying it. After the fifth girl had been selected, the next man to come took Maritha.
The captive stumbled as the guard roughly dragged her down the hallway. At the far end, the dimly lit hallway opened into bright daylight. Maritha blinked as she stepped out into the open air of a large courtyard. Directly in front of her was a low wooden platform. In the center was a thick pole, to which was bound a naked young woman; the girl who had been taken just before Maritha.
A slave dealer stood on the platform beside her, calling out to the crowd of buyers milling around in front of the auction block. He gesticulated wildly, speaking in the rapid tongue of the auctioneer. After a few minutes more, the bids died off and the man declared her sold. As the sobbing slave was untied from the pillar and led off to meet her new master, Maritha was dragged up onto the stage.
A murmur ran through the crowd as they saw the new slave up for sale. The auctioneer gave a wicked grin, watching as Maritha’s hands were raised and lashed to the top of the pillar, leaving her naked body completely stretched out and exposed. He reached forward to caress one of her breasts, before sliding down her belly between her legs, to the delight of the audience.
“Now…” The auctioneer said in a loud voice, turning to the crowd. “Who will be the first to bid on this lovely creature?”
A man, near the front, raised a hand. “I bid 1000 Silver dinars.” He said in a sharp voice that cut through the noise of the auction. The man was tall and thin, with a pinched, almost skeletal face, marked by a narrow goatee. He was dressed in black robes of exquisite finery and a black headdress. Maritha’s eyes widened in surprise as she recognized who bid on her. It was Shiriban, the Grand Vizier, the right hand of the Sultan.
The babble of talk from the crowd grew more intense. The auctioneer paused a moment, before saying. “Very well, 1,000 Silver Dinars is bid. Who will bid higher?” Maritha detected a hint of despair from the man. There would be few in the audience willing to bid against the second most powerful man in the city. Sure enough, only a few spoke up, hesitantly. The grand vizier outbid them and in a short time, the auctioneer was forced to declare Maritha sold.
Maritha was untied from the post by one of the guards. Grabbing the end of the rope binding her wrist, the man dragged her to the edge of the stage. Behind her, the next frightened girl was led out and bound in her place. At the end of the platform, Shiriban was counting out silver coins to one of the slavers. As he finished, Maritha was led forward and handed over to him.
“Yes…” the man said, in a deep voice, running her eyes over Maritha’s naked body. “I was right about you. You’ll make a good ornament for the palace.” He nodded his head. Another man, dressed in the livery of one of the Sultan’s guard, stepped forward. “Take this girl and put her with the other slaves. I have some coin left; I’ll stay and see what else if being offered.”
With a bow, the guard took the end of Maritha’s lead. Tugging on it, he turned and started towards the buyer’s gate, with Maritha stumbling along after him. Once again, the young woman was forced to run a gauntlet of eager hands, feeling, pinching and groping.
Outside the gate, on the street, a dozen paces away, a horse cart was parked against the wall of the slave dealers. The back of the cart was built into a mobile cage, with iron bars. Inside were half a dozen naked slaves, men and young women. Another guard stood watch. He turned, a grin crossing his weather-beaten face as he saw the first man approaching with Maritha.
“I think she’s the finest one yet.” The man said, leering at the naked captive. “If you ever get lonely, sweeping the halls of the palace, you come down to the barracks and ask for Hakim the Red and I’ll show you a good time, pretty maid.” He told Maritha.
“Not likely.” The first guard said in reply. “She’ll be some nobleman’s concubine within a week.”
“A pity.” He pulled out a ring of keys and unlocked the back of the cart. “Well, in you get.” He said. As Maritha climbed up into the back of the cart, he reached forward and caressed her backside, running his fingers over her slit. When she gave an indignant squeal, he simply laughed and playfully slapped her buttocks, before shutting the cage door and locking it again.
Maritha sat down with the other slave purchased for the palace. As the afternoon wore on, the guard was sent back with more of the Vizier’s purchases, a young man and three more maidens. The Vizier came back with the last of these. “Take them back to the palace.” He ordered, before getting into a sedan chair, carried by two burly slaves. The guards climbed onto the cart. One of them cracked a whip and the slave cart rolled after the chair.
During the slow ride back to the palace, Maritha thought about what life at the palace would be like. Despite her beauty, she had no illusions about being chosen for the sultan’s harem. The women selected to be his concubines were trained in the finest slave schools from a young age in the graceful arts, singing, dancing, poetry… Not to mention the thousand ways to please a man. So, unless she was lucky enough to catch the eye of a nobleman, as the guard had said, she’d most likely end up a palace servant. It wasn’t a bad life, Maritha thought, far better than many living on the street in the poorer distracts.
“And if things are too bad, maybe I can escape.” She thought to herself. “I broke into the palace once, certainly I can break out.” The only thing that held her back was the certainty she had nowhere to go once she was out of the palace. None of her old friends in the Thieves’ Quarter would recognize her now, and if she left the city; a beautiful young maiden, traveling the countryside alone; she would only be abducted by slavers and sold again, if she wasn’t hung as a runaway slave. Once more, Maritha silently cursed the Djinn that had put her in this position.
After crossing the city, the cart reached the walls of the palace. The guard’s unlocked the cage and let the slaves inside out. The captive men and women were herded through one of the smaller side gates, passing into what appeared to be the servant’s quarters. In a small common room, the slaves were untied and ungagged. Laid out on the table were servant’s clothes for them. Trousers and vests, of rough-spun cotton for the men. For the women, a long band of thin white cloth wound around the chest and a short linen skirt. Around their necks were locked silver collars, engraved with the sigil of the Sultan’s house, marking them as his property.
While they were getting dressed, the Vizier entered the room. Going to them in turn, he questioned the slaves about their skills and assigned them to their duties around the palace; this man to the stables, this one of the gardens. One girl to the kitchen; another to clean the halls.
Just before he got to Maritha, the door to the room opened and a young woman entered the room. Maritha’s heart skipped a beat. Though the woman was veiled, the thief instantly recognized her as the woman Hamon had loved, Princess Farai!
“Princess, you honor us with your presence.” The Vizier said, bowing. Hurriedly, the new slaves mimicked his movement. Maritha lowered her head, but couldn’t help peering up out of the corner of her eye towards the young princess as she entered the room, accompanied by two handmaidens. “It’s not often you veil yourself and leave the woman’s quarters.”
“I heard from one of the servants you were going out to the slave markets today.” Farai said, in a sing song voice. “I thought I’d look over what you bought. I have need of a new chambermaid. I’m bored with the last girl you sent me…” As she talked she looked over the new slaves. Her eyes skipped lazily over the male slaves, but lingered on the women, eyeing them with a look that was almost hungry.
“She doesn’t care for men?” Maritha thought, absently, watching the Princess study one of the other slave girl’s large breasts with obvious lust. Then, she turned her attention to the thief.
“Stand up, slave!” Farai ordered. Almost unable to believe she was standing so close to the woman she’d desired so much, Maritha obeyed. “Remove your clothes.” The young slave hesitated a moment, but the Vizier gave her an angry look, compelling her to obey the princess. Slowly, Maritha undid her garments, letting the cloth fall to the ground. She stood still, confused, as the princess examined her naked form.
“Yes…” Farai said, with a sigh. “She will do nicely.” The young woman declared. Turning to the vizier, she said in a voice that brooked no disagreement, “I will have this girl for my chambers.”
“Of course, your highness…” The vizier replied.
The princess snapped a finger and the two handmaidens who were with her stepped forward and seized Maritha. “Have her bathed, dressed and placed in my private chambers.” Farai ordered in a haughty tone. Without giving her a chance to get dressed, the two slaves half-led, half-dragged Maritha out of the room.
They passed from the servants’ quarters down a long hallway into the women’s quarters. In the private baths, Maritha was lowered into a marble bathtub. One of the handmaidens clapped a hand and a procession of slave girls entered the room, bearing jugs filled with hot water, which they poured over the young thief until the bath was filled. Exotic oils and perfumes were added, so the bath took on a lovely scent.
Stripping off their clothes, the handmaidens climbed into the water to join her. With rough efficiency, they cleaned every inch of her naked body, gently easing away the marks of the shackles on her wrists and ankles and the callouses on her feet from the long march to the city. When they finished, they lifted the dazed girl out of the bath and dried her off with clean linen towels.
Hot water and a razor were called for. Maritha stood still, not even daring to breath, as she was closely shaven all over, until she was completely hairless from the neck down. They even shaved the patch of curly hair from between her snatch, leaving her womanhood bare.
Next, the handmaidens dressed her. Fine silks, so sheer as to be translucent, were summoned and wrapped around the young woman. Gold arm bands were placed on her arms, hold bracelets placed around her wrists and ankles. Her hair was arranged and pinned in place with a gold brooch with a large sapphire on it.
With Maritha dressed the handmaidens gently, but firmly, pulled her arms behind her back and bound them snugly with a long ribbon of soft silk cloth. Her feet were bound the same way. A thick band of cloth was pulled between her teeth as a cloth, another was pulled over her eyes as a blindfold.
The helpless slave girl was picked up and carried out of the baths. The handmaidens brought her to another part of the women’s quarters. Finally, she was laid down on a bed of soft silks and feather pillows. A short chain was hooked to Maritha’s collar. The other end was attached to the head of the bed, keeping in her place. Silently, the two handmaidens withdrew from the room, leaving the young thief alone. Lost in the darkness of her blindfold, Maritha lay on the soft bed, anxiously waiting for whatever came next. Every now and then, she thought she might hear someone coming, but no one entered the room.
The slave’s mind was spinning, trying to process what had happened just now. The princess, her princess, had selected Maritha as one of her personal handmaidens. Or was she more than that? The clothes she’d been given weren’t those of a servant. They seemed more the attire of a concubine. But why would Princess Farai want another woman for that? Maritha remembered how the Princess had looked at her in the slave quarters…
Just then, someone came into the room. Bare feet padded quietly on carpet, towards the bed. Maritha felt someone climb on the bed. A young, female body crawled on top of bound captive. A pair of soft lips began kissing Maritha, starting at her neck, slowly moving up to her lips. Meanwhile, the unseen girl’s hands began to roam over the slave’s body, slipping underneath her thin silks to caress her breasts. Maritha tensed as one of the hands slid down her belly. She gasped into her gag as the teasing fingers slipped between her legs…
“oh yes…” Princess Farai whispered. “I was right to choose you.”
She reached up and untied Maritha’s blindfold. The young woman blinked as the band of cloth was pulled away. She was in a large bedroom, richly decorated in every color. The Princess knelt on top of the captive slave. She had removed her veil and cloak and now wore only a sheer dress made of translucent blue silk. Maritha’s eyes widened as she took in the lovely sight of the younger girl. A curious feeling came over her, helped along by the teasing fingers of the Princess against her breast and sex.
“Do you find me beautiful?” Farai asked with a smirk. “You don’t need to answer, I know you do. I could see that the moment I saw you. You’re beautiful too.” She lowered her head, pulling open the cloth covering Maritha’s chest, and began kissing her breasts, sucking and nibbling on her small, pink nipples. The whole time, her hand continued to tease the slave girl’s snatch with her fingers.
The slave girl moaned into her gag in pleasure. Her breathing became quicker as she was pushed closer and closer to climax. At the last minute, Princess Farai pulled her hand away and straightened up. A quiet groan of disappointment escaped Maritha’s lips. The younger girl looked down at her with a mischievous grin. “Naughty slave!” She teased, playfully slapping one of her captive’s breasts with a hand. “You don’t get to cum…not before your Princess! Now, let’s see if you know how to serve your Mistress…”
Reaching down, Farai untied her captives gag. Before Maritha could speak, the Princess placed a finger on her lips, to keep her silent. Farai turned in place on the bed, pulling up the skirts of her dress, and crawled back, so she was straddling Maritha with her sex hovering above the thief’s face.
It took her a moment to realize what the Princess wanted her to do. Heart beating rapidly, the slave girl lifted her head up, opening her mouth and extended her tongue. She began to pleasure her Mistress, awkwardly at first, but after a few moments slowly got the hang of it, judging from the soft gasps that escaped the Princess’ lips. Encouraged, Maritha dug her tongue deeper into the other woman’s sex, slowly working her towards climax. Soon enough, the Princess moaned loudly, body quivering as the pleasure shot through her entire form.
Farai crawled off Maritha, a smile on her face. Lying down beside the slave girl, the Princess rolled over to face her. “That wasn’t bad. With a little practice, you’ll be perfect. Now, you deserve a reward.” After a moment, she sat up and crawled down along Maritha’s body. The Princess was too high-born to consider using her mouth on a lowly slave. Instead, she used her hand again. Sliding her fingers along the slave girl’s snatch with a practiced ease that spoke of experience, she quickly had her plaything quivering and gasping within moments. This time, she did not pull away until Maritha gasped and climaxed.
The slave girl lay back on the bed, breast rising and falling as she breathed heavily in the afterglow. The Princess smiled, watching her slave. Leaning over, she whispered into Maritha’s ear. “You know, I think I may come to love you, my little desert blossom.” In those words, Maritha realized her wish had now been granted…