master and a slave.

I looked back down the street. I could no longer see any sign of the fellow who had been in the room, the magistrate, or the guardsmen, with their shapely prisoner. She had been on a guardsman's shoulder, being carried, her head to the rear, as a slave. Later I did not think she would be often accorded the luxury of such transportation. Soon, perhaps in a day or two, she would be learning how to heel a man and to walk gracefully on his leash.

'Oh!' said Phoebe.

Someone in the crowd, in passing, had undoubtedly touched her. Marcus looked about, angrily. I did not know, really, what he expected.

I looked back down the street. I could see the head of Milo, with its blond curls, over the heads of the crowd, about fifty yards away. He was standing near a wall. The free woman's palanquin had stopped briefly by him, and then, after a time, continued on its way.

'Oh!' said Phoebe.

Marcus turned about again, swiftly, angrily. There was only the crowd.

'If you do not care for such things,' I said, 'perhaps you should give her a garment.'

'Let her go naked,' he said. 'She is only a slave.'

'Perhaps some article of clothing would not be amiss,' I said.

'She has her collar,' he said.

'You many never have noticed,' I said, 'but she is an exquisitely beautiful female.'

'She is the lowest and most despicable of female slaves,' he said.

'Of course,' I said.

'Too,' said he, 'do not forget that I hate her.'

'It would be difficult to do that,' I said, ' as you have told me so many times. Phoebe lowered her head, smiling.

'Too,' said he, 'she is my enemy.'

'If ever she was your enemy,' I said, 'she is not your enemy now. She is now a slave. Look at her. She is simply an animal you own. Do you think she does not know that? She now exists for you, to please and serve you.'

'She is Cosian,' he said.

'Turn your flank to him, slave,' I said. 'Touch you collar.'

Phoebe complied.

'You can see the brand,' I said. 'You can see the collar. Furthermore, it is yours.'

He regarded the slave, docile, obedient, turned, her fingers, too, lightly on her collar, so closely locked on her lovely neck.

'And it is a pretty flank,' I said, 'and a lovely throat.'

He moaned softly.

'I see that you think so,' I said.

The feelings of the young warrior toward his slave were profoundly ambivalent. She was not only the sort of female that he found irresistibly, excruciatingly attractive, as I had known before I had shown her to him the first time, but, to my surprise and delight, there seemed to be a special mystery or magic, or chemistry, between them. Each was a dream come true for the other. She had been, it seems, in some profound genetic sense, born for his chains. They fitted together, like a lock and its key. She loved him profoundly, helplessly, and from the first time she had seen him. He, too, had been smitten. Then he had discovered that she was from Cos, that ubarate which was his hated foe, at the hands of whose mercenary and regular forces he had seen his city destroyed. It was no wonder that in rage he had vowed to make the lovely slave stand proxy for Cos, that he might then vent upon her his fury, and his hatred, for Cos, and all things Cosian. And so it was that he had determined to reduce and humiliate her, and make her suffer, but with each cuffing, with each command, with each kick, with each blow of the whip, she became only the more his, and the more loving. I had know for a long time, even as long ago as the inn of the Crooked Tarn, on the Vosk Road, before the fall of Ar's Station, that she had profound slave needs, but I had never suspected their depth until I had seen her in a camp outside Brundisium, kneeling before Marcus, looking up at him, unbelievingly. She had known then that she was his, and in perfection. I had no doubt they fitted together, in the order of nature, in the most intimate, beautiful and fulfilling relationship possible between a man and a woman, that of love master and love slave. To be sure, she was Cosian.

Phoebe put down her head, shyly smiling.

'Cosian slut!' snarled Marcus.

He seized her by the arms and lifted her from her feet, thrusting her back against the wall of the building.

He held her there, off her feet, her back pressed back, hard, against the rough wall.

'Yes,' she cried. 'Yes!'

'Be thusly used, and as befits you,' said he, 'slave, and slut of Cos!'

'Yes, my Master!' she wept. She clung about him, her eyes closed, her head back, gasping.

Then he cried out, and lowered her to the stones of the street.

She knelt there, gratefully, sobbing. Her back was bloody. Marcus had not been gentle with the slave. She was holding to his leg.

'Disgusting,' said a free woman, drawing her veil more closely about her face. Did she not know that she, too, if she were a slave, would be similarly subject to a master's pleasure?

'This is a very public place,' I said to Marcus.

A small crowd, like an eddy in the flowing stream of folks in the street, had gathered about.

'She is a slut of Cos,' said Marcus to a fellow nearby.

'Beat her for me,' said the man.

'She is only a slave,' I said.

'A Cosian slut,' said one man to another.

'She is only a slave,' I said again.

The crowd closed in a bit more, menacingly. Phoebe looked up, frightened. In the press there was not even room to draw the sword, let alone wield it. 'Let us kill her,' said a fellow.

'Move back,' said Marcus, angrily.

'A slut of Cos,' said another man.

'Let us kill her!' said another fellow.

Phoebe was very small and helpless, kneeling on the stones, near the wall. 'Continue on your way,' I said to the men gathered about. 'Be about your business.'

'Cos is our business,' said a man.

The ugliness of the crowd, its hostility, and such, was, I think, a function of recent events, which had precipitated confusion, uncertainty and terror in Ar, in particular the military catastrophe in the delta, in which action, absurdly, the major land forces at Torcadino, one of the largest assemblages of armed men ever seen of Gor, under their polemarkos, Myron, cousin to Lurius of Jad, Ubar of Cos, had now set their standards towards Ar. Torcadino had been a supply depot for the forces of Cos on the continent. It had been seized by the mercenary, Dietrich of Tarnburg, to forestall the march on Ar. Ar, however, had failed to act. She had not relieved the siege at Torcadino nor that in the north, at Ar's Station. Dietrich, finally understanding the treason in Ar, in high places, had managed to effect a withdrawal from Torcadino. His location was now unknown and Cos had put a price on his head. Now there lay little or nothing between the major forces of Cos on the continent, now on the march, and the gates of Ar. Further, though there was much talk in the city of resistance, of the traditions of Ar, of her Home Stone, and such, I did not think that the people of Ar, stunned and confused by the apparently inexplicable succession of recent disasters, had the will to resist the Cosians. Perhaps if there had been a Marlenus of Ar in the city, a Ubar, one to raise the people and lead them, there might have been hope. But the city was now under the governance of the regent, Gnieus Lelius, who, I had little doubt, might have efficiently managed a well-ordered polity under normal conditions, but was an unlikely leader in a time of darkness, crisis and terror. He was, I thought, a good man and an estimable civil servant, but he was not a Marlenus of Ar. Marlenus of Ar had vanished months ago on a punitive raid in the Voltai, directed against the tarnsmen of Treve. He was presumed dead.

'Kill her!' said a man.

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