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Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Stake War of Zhor

A Tale of Zhor
By Christopher Leeson

NOTE: This story is based on "The Fact Sheet for Zhorian Universe Contributors" by Overlord. Overlord invites Zhor fans to try writing Zhor stories of their own. The article is found at

Most Zhorians believe that the Overlords, immortal beings just below the gods, serve the deities and guide humankind. Like the Olympians of ancient Greece, the Overlords are held to favor those who win glory through heroic deeds. Some cities have even erected shrines to their departed champions and, generation to generation, have regarded them as liegemen to the Immortals themselves.

But the Overlords do not favor ruinous wars. They limit the weapons of war and keep power spread widely across the face of Zhor, so that world does not follow the regrettable path of the planet Earth.

As in most heroic societies, wars on Zhor are frequent but small. It is ambitious warlords seeking to aggrandize themselves and rule many cities that cause the most damage. These despots tend to have quick, violent ends because the Overlords do not favor them. Nor do many of the cities that tolerate such reckless leadership tend to prosper.

Where the men of earth have wasting the biological potentials of their best young men in widespread conflicts, the statesmen of Zhor have found ways to allow their males to prove themselves, even while limiting the carnage of battle. It is for that reason that they favor the "Stake War." It is trial by combat in which individual prowess is maximized, but little upset is done to the polity of Zhor. The disputes between two cities are now commonly settled by a duel of heroes, and even major disagreements are generally resolved by the victory of a city champion.

If the contention is over a tract of land, or an outrageous affront to the dignity of a city, the polis whose defender has been defeated is duty-bound to make good the fair demands of the victorious. Land is transferred and compensation is paid. City-states that have been infuriated enemies oftentimes become allies within a few years of a Stake War.

In time, the Stake War has not only served to settle disputes, but has also become a contest of honor. A duel, or several duels are held in a day, often gracing grand festivals, like the meeting of sports teams on the planet Earth.

Alas, Earth has no true Stake War, and without such an institution it's history has been bloody. Unreason rules on Earth and it is not the nature of its inhabitants to let the outcome of a single warrior contest decide issues. Their conflicts never concern honor, but always naked power grasping and base gain. Therefore are fought by thousands or millions, with atrocity following atrocity, until the weaker side collapses into ruin. But victory in this sort of war is always false victory.  The stage is almost always set for even greater wars as ruthless coalitions fall out over proceeds of victory.

On civilized Zhor, the cycle of these festivals might be once per decade, once per five years, once per every three years, or once each year. Even friendly cities may compete, to publicly display of the prowess of their sons. A victor in the Stake War is well rewarded, usually from a settlement paid to his city from the defeated polis. But Zhorians spurn the inglorious chasing after gold.  They are a lusty people and prefer symbolic rewards of honor above crass gain. There is a saying, "A beautiful woman is better than an estate."

Before the synthesis of Ruk's Serum, a single woman of the town represented each duelist.  The higher her rank, the higher was the honor of winning against her champion. Whereas in Earth's Medieval Europe, a noblewoman would merely grant her warrior-
Whereas in Earth's Medieval Europe, a noblewoman would merely grant her warrior-champion a token to wear into battle, the woman of Zhor becomes the token, or the stake, herself.

Typically, the maid allows herself to be shackled to a wooden post near where the duel is fought, her face exposed to view. Sometimes she is adorned in trim garments; the display is a boast of how beautiful are the women of her city, and how glorious and fertile in culture is the city itself. If a champion of the woman's town loses the duel, she is stripped by the exultant victor and taken to his home to be his slave. Should she escape and return to her own city, her clan is honor-bound to return her to him who had won her fairly. Great indeed is the honor of the warrior whose private stable -- as Zhorians call their harems -- is graced by more than one stake-token, collared-and-branded wenches whom he has taken in the lists of champions.

Many Ruk maidens have gone to the stakes confident that they are defended by the best of their men and by their city's gods. "Against the will of the gods," the saying goes, "no woman can be enslaved." It is also said, "If the gods deem that one should serve on her knees, no effort can alter her fate." But, alas, history has shown that it is often the gods' will that a woman shall be a captured token. Ironically, the bastard sons and daughters that she may bear in bondage will become the proud defenders of the very polis that the lady's city had challenged.

But for some considerable time now, with the availability of Ruk's Serum, the prize of choice in many of these stake wars has become a serum girl. This change makes good sense and is widely popular. Serum girls are transformed males of Zhor, and many were formerly warriors. Is it not the bested warrior who merits the consequence of defeat more than does some innocent maid? To take home enslaved one who, in times past, has been a dauntless opponent of one's city is considered to be a triumph of special sweetness. If the serum girl has actually slain the warriors as a former warrior herself, is it not proper that she replace those fallen heroes through the rigors of the childbed?

Then, too, Zhorians feel that a born woman is a citizen of glorious worth. A serum girl is held in lower esteem, as one whom the gods have spurned in some way. Even nobles, transformed by Ruk's serum, feel the stigma. It is fortunate, therefore, that the customs of the Stake War have allowed serum girls special dignity by allowing them to volunteer to be tokens of war. The status of a serum girl whose champion vanquishes his opponent usually lives with enhanced dignity forever after.

For the women whose champions lose the test, their fate is slavery. Custom forbids ransoming, for that would corrupt the proceeds with gold, and would also put a special burden of sadness upon the less wealthy classes. Zhorians do not believe that honor should be for sale.

It must be said, however, that in some cities, more cities every year, the Stake War has taken a fascinating turn. Under the newer customs, the defeated warrior is himself placed in at the feet of his conquer. Before his on-looking countrymen, he is given an injection of Ruk's Serum. The winning warrior, oftentimes, has chosen the exact vintage of the serum received before the match begins. They can select different vintages from serum suppliers, each displaying a small picture of the girl that the genetic cocktail will bring into being. Most victors wish to receive beauty into their beds, beauty enough to incite a warrior to great amatory feats, while his virile performance makes the defeated foe's christening as a slave more memorable.

When the subdued warrior has become a beautiful woman, "he" is customarily taken to the winner's city and paraded as the centerpiece of a procession. Afterwards, the stake-token is publicly collared and branded, oftentimes by the very man who has vanquished "him." Once a combat-prize becomes a slave, she is a slave true. A master may sell her outright, either privately or on a public block. In fact, stake-war tokens bring high bids in local markets; sometimes, pleasure houses and expensive taverns will offer extravagant sums, knowing that patrons will flock to be entertained by the mortification of a fallen enemy. But the prestige of a man who has won his token by skill at arms is so lofty that most stake-war victors prefer to keep their slaves for display for so long they can afford such an expensive self-indulgence.

Obviously, there are cases where a warrior has conquered and tamed a former opponent, only to be himself defeated later and made another man's trophy, sometimes as early as the very next year. Zhorians invariably say that all that occurs on the face of Zhor is the will of the gods and they do not ponder the right or wrong of it. Their society admires winners and does not for long remember the names of the fallen.

The ultimate fates of trophy girls are various. But one renowned story is so unusual that it bears repeating here. It is recorded that a warrior named Lial, of the city of Sharsina, was bested in the lists and taken to his conqueror's city, having first been injected with Ruk's Serum -- which had been done before the dismayed eyes of his fellow citizens. But the victor, whose name was Valdam of Cromarr, did not force her to ride in the parade that celebrated the humiliation of Lial's city; he found a similar-looking girl to perform as a substitute. The former swordsman, Lial, was bound and subjected to branding as soon as the transformation was complete. Valmar put a silver collar upon her throat, but required her to wear the silver collar of her status only as far as the city gates of Cromarr, Valdam's city.

There a caravan waited. Valdam now offered to send Lial back home, to Sharsina for six months. She would, he said, be permitted to dwell half the year in her own city, and half the year in the city of Valdam. Most interestingly, she was told that when she was with Valdam, she would not be treated as a pleasure slave, but as a guest, allowed to dress as she chose, be attended by servants, and have an allowance for her own use. Her free time she might pass as she saw fit.

"What trick is this?" demanded the bound wench. Well might Lial be suspicious, for she knew that had the gods favored her in the lists, she would have given Valdam the Ruk injection, as she had received hers, but then would have subjected his pretty prize to the degradation of vaec-pelda, just as soon as the transformation had been completed.

"No trick," he said as he began to untie her. "I am my city's champion," said the warrior of Cromarr. I am not so desperate to find a bed-warmer that I need tolerate the company of one who denies that she is either a woman or a slave. Play at being a free serum girl for as long as you wish.

"But if you tire of such existence, you may of your own volition kneel with crossed wrists and you shall begin living the life of a true pleasure slave. From that moment on, for as long as you are my possession, you will be treated as a common wench whose only value lies in her body and her beauty. You will wear pleasure silk, slave-face, and scent. You shall work at chore suitable for a owned girl. Disobey after you have willingly made your submission and you shall know the sting of the girl-whip expertly wielded."

Lial did not wish to be treated as a slave, and did not wish to linger in the despicable city of Cromarr, so she accepted the offer. She returned home to Sharsina with the caravan, but found herself unwelcome. A girl who is enslaved is considered dead under the law. The slave she becomes is regarded as only a slave with no connections to free persons. By returning and claiming such connections, Lial unwittingly mortified her family.

Her own brother said to Lial, "You were a fool, sister. What good does your homecoming do anyone? We already held your funeral. Words of praise were spoken over your grave. By cming back, all who pronounced your eulogies must now be choking on their words. Open your eyes, Lial, you are not who you were; you walk among us as a ghost. Whenever you are seen, people either laugh or spurn you, and by spurning you, they spurn our house.

"The gods willed your defeat and its consequences," he continued. You should have thrown your master deceitful leniency back into his face by kneeling and crossing your wrists at once. In that way you would have done dignity to the man you were and also to the unfree girl you are now. What can your fate be in Sharsina, except death at your own hands or submission to your master Valmar later on? Don't you see what the rogue has done? He has used you as a tool to twist the knife of his city's victory deeper into our own polis' guts."

Lial was amazed by this attitude, but soon realized that many of her relations shared the same opinion, but were seldom so gentle in expressing it. Her parents soon sent her to a secluded house that they owned, to live with but a few servants. She was instructed not to attend any family function. "Let our friends and kin remember you as the son who was slain in honorable combat," they said.

Lial would have brooded for a long time over such treatment, but she was feeling sorely distracted, more so each day. Serum girls have sexual drives as strong as a man's, but the serum redirects their erotic interest toward those of her own former sex. Also, the serum contains genes taken from women for whom bondage was a compulsive need. So Lial found herself feeling her slave-needs and her man-need rising. 

It made her furious, but there was no cure. The physician Ruk had not merely wanted to create women from men, but also wanted to give them the drives that would make them comfortable in pleasure slavery.

Now in the grip of lustful obsessions, Lial enjoyed only troubled sleep at night. To gain sexual relief, she tried to return to those places that offered gratification to a young man. But the stress upon Lial's mind was heavy. Sometimes her bodyguard had to carry her home, passed-out drunk. Indeed, the maid was wont to drink very heavily while joylessly watching slave girls serving and dancing. Sometimes she would even brol one of them using a false twyl, but such foolery never brought satisfaction.

To attain true release, Lial at first hired oernads, lewd men who sold their bodies to rich women for money. She found one known for having "broken in" many new serum girls. She discovered that the pleasures to be had acting in a female sexual role were both less demeaning and more intense than she had anticipated. But it was so hard to gain satisfaction; a man was capable of only one release, while she needed several in the same march of hours.

Now, when Lial walked past the door of a pleasure house, she rarely thought about the delights that she had formerly tasted within as a man, but instead wondered what it would be like to live as one of the girls serving within. A branded wench might be whipped for not being sufficiently pleasing, true, but even the idea of living under the threat of the whip enlivened Lial's daydreams.

She ceased lamenting the loss of her relations with women now that she was finding men so appealing. "You are superb, my wench," casual lovers would tell her. "May the gods make you a pleasure slave, so that every man in his city shall find attainable what you have just given to me." This complement pleased Lial, but it angered her, too. She was already a legal slave; that she had to pay so much good money to find relief was due to the whim of her hated master. But when she considered going back to Cromarr and surrendering, getting all she craved without recourse to oernads, Lial's pride revolted. While she might enjoy a few weeks of being treated like a common silk slave, the idea of being trapped in such a life for all time appalled her. Also, she preferred to die of yearning rather than give a triumph to such a one as Valmar.


Her problem was that she was exhausting men before her own lust was spent. To get around this, she swallowed her pride and became a frequent visitor to slave clubs. In such a place, it was possible for a free woman to be intimate with several men in a single night. Also, as the name implies, women could there could satisfy their genetically induced drives by wearing the collar -- chains even -- and being treated by club trainers and male visitors alike as a common pleasure slave. Liala did not know why, but with the feel of the collar on her throat, and with a man able to see her brand and even trace it with his fingers, her orgasms were more powerful and more satisfying than they had been with the oernads.

But while slave club activity made her feel better, but her six months at Sharsina were almost up. She wished that she could flee and find a new life somewhere else, but realized that she had no place to go. Soon after, Valdam's servants came to escort her back to her master's home. Lial accompanied them without deep regret. Her own city, once so beloved, now held nothing for her. Moreover, under the law, had she refused to return to her legal master, the magistrates would have had no choice but to compel her.

When Lial reached Cromarr, Valdam continued to be as good as his word. He treated the serum girl well, just as he would a guest. As a good guest, however, Lial was expected to attend the social functions held by her patron. The other guests regarded her -- a stake-war token who was not living as a slave -- as an oddity, a thing neither fish nor fowl. Her situation was unusual even on Zhor, where life is customarily lived in all its endless variations. Lial knew that some of the others at these fetes were betting on how long it would be before she knelt servilely before her lord, but out of respect for their host they treated the girl with punctilious correctness.

One thing that Lial hated most of all was that Valdam would not give her funds enough to go to the slave clubs. He said that if she would dishonor herself so, she was a true slave. What she would have to pay for there she could get at home simply by falling to her knees and crossing her wrists. Lial refused and hired oernads when she could afford them, but she who could not afford a slave club could hardly afford to pay oernads for sexual relief. She occasionally had liaisons with Cromarr citizens who found her beautiful, but such rakes never took uncollared serum girls seriously as lovers, and she rarely saw them twice.

Valdam appeared to enjoy Lial's company even though she avoided calling him master and lord, something that he didn't insist upon. Sometimes took his "guest" carousing. She usually drank too much, just as she had done in Sharsina. One night, in a tavern served by several beautiful cup slaves, Lial realized how much she envied these girls -- their blatant sensuality, their sultry, seductive carriage and, especially, the ease they had in finding sexual relief. If they hated their lives, they at least didn't show it. She hated her own life and her face in the mirror told her so. Not for the first time she thought seriously about suicide.

Suddenly, Valdam touched Lial's knee under the table. She felt the heat of his flesh through her thick winter hose. She glanced at the face of her putative master and frowned. She read desire in his eyes, but what was different was it was as though she was really seeing him for the first time. This handsome man, she realized, was better as a warrior than she had been. Now he was her master. But what did that mean?

Valdam may have sensed the opening of a door that he must step through at once, before she had a chance to close it again. He took her hand. When Lial did not pull it away, the man smiled. "My friend, would you like to go to a room?" he asked. "The joy that I am determined to give you shall surpass any that you have ever yet found in a slave club."

The girl looked at him, perplexed.

"But I caution you. I vow to do all that I can to ignite you with slave fire the first time I drive my twyl into your goddess-like body."

Lial was silent for a full minute, but the need welling inside her was torturous. She realized that it would be convenient if he allowed her to be his mistress; she would then have to go no farther than his private bedroom to gain sexual relief. And, also, the idea of risking ignition at his hands for some reason thrilled her. It seemed to her that the danger would add spice. Also, if his performance didn't measure up to his boast, she would have the satisfaction of telling him that he was a sorry lover.

"I will dare it," she whispered hoarsely. Feeling as she did, Lial would have said yes to any man.

Valdam led Lial up the stairs. By now the former warrior had climbed stairs with many different men, but something -- she didn't know what -- felt different this time. Valdam left her alone in a mostly-bare brolling room that rented for a small fee. He had gone to the office of the tavern master, and asked that maids be sent to prepare his fetching companion for his pleasure. "She wishes to do it as if she were a slave," he told the man. "I want her to prepared like the lowly cup girls who serve siolat to your customers."

The wine-seller nodded thoughtfully. "So it shall be! Brol her well, my friend! Exchange her page-boy garments for pleasure silks!"

Valdam he would do that if the lady of his desire cooperated.

"All serum girls should be pleasure slaves," the tavern-keeper reminded the warrior.


The dutiful taverner went to fetch a pair of his girls. When he returned with them, Valdam bade the two to go do their work and, while the cup girls prepared Lial, the two men discussed business. The warrior laid a proposition before the other, who seemed quite agreeable to it. They shook hands to seal the bargain.

Valdam lingered in the barroom downstairs until the maids came to tell him that Lial was ready -- nude and with a painted face -- a true vision of delight. Upon returning to the brolling room, the warrior saw neither fear nor shame in his favorite's expression, but only an intense hunger. He stepped closer to her. Lial blushed, but when he stood contemplating her beauty she became impatient and reached out. Valdam was pleased to find Lial so eager and, taking her by the shoulders, knelt next to her and forced her sweetly painted mouth up against his.

Her body flowing into his told Valmar that he could do anything with her that he wished. Deftly, the warrior pinned Lial against the red silk sheet and made free play with his hands. He savored the feel of her and sighed with fulfillment; he had had been waiting for this moment ever since the girl had returned to Cromarr. Meanwhile, Lial continued kissing his neck and shoulders until, with a sudden impulse, she shifted and wrapped her legs around him. Valmar responded to the gesture and their love play gained in gusto. When the male had at last reduced the female to helpless mewing, he freed his blood-engorged twyl. The girl, who was no stranger to the sight or feel of such a thing, braced herself. Valdam took a position of advantage and then penetrated her with a slow and steady pressure. The girl reaction was impelled by instinct; she thrust her hips against his, desperate to take in as much of his maleness as possible.

Valdam exulted. This one -- a wanton natural slave to the very fiber of her being -- was giving herself over to him like a surrendered slave. And what a slave she would make!  The club trainers of Sharsina had taught their shameless customer how to brol with zeal. Lial had probably wrested many a squeal of delight from slaves, and must also have learned something of their techniques that she was now using to delight him.

As Lial gave of herself without restraint, it was like she was half on ground and half in the sky. Though lost in the clouds, she was brought her back to earth by the lurch that presaged her master's release. She had time for only a gasp before his heated balm filled her; Lial could not hold herself back and she came uncontrollably in his arms.

The sound that accompanied her climax was almost a shout. This was not the sex that she had become used to. It was something to astonish! The sensation made her think of fire. She spasmed with what was the most overwhelming orgasm she had ever known. In the wildness of the moment she didn't realize that it was the slave girl's abject surrender on a genetic level, her helpless capitulation to the dictates of Ruk's serum.

Delirious, Lial screamed and dug her nails into her master's back. Then calm descended.  The well-brolled wench found herself somewhere on high, upon what felt like a volcanic cloud of caressing heat. This pleasant sensation gradually dissipated and the girl felt like she was drifting down into a warm and soothing sea.

They had both spent themselves and so, wrapped in one another's embrace, they slept the sleep of exhausted lovers. In the morning, Valdam blinked away his drowsiness and sat up. When Lial felt his movement and opened her eyes, he whispered, "I felt you change last night, sweet one. Do you sense that you have entered a new state of being?"

Lial frowned thoughtfully. "Yes. I -- I don't know what it is, Lord."

She had called him lord without having to be ordered to do so.

Valmar smiled and touched his hard-loving wench between the thighs. Lial lurched as if stung, so intense was the electricity of the contact. "What you have felt is ignition," he told her. "I have lit the slave fire in many a wench, some of them stubborn and defiant serum girls.  The best of them reacted just as you have; slavery and womanhood have, at last, taken possession of you."

Lial tried to squirm away. "No! It's not ignition!" she exclaimed. Her thoughts whirled. Though she had often fantasized about being ignited, a thing that could only happen to a slave, the male part of her nature had always refused to believe that it could happen.

Then it dawned on her.  It couldn't happen to a man.  It couldn't happen to a free woman. Somehow, by a journey of tiny steps, she had become a true woman and a true slave.
And the type of slavery that Valdam would demand of her would be pleasure slavery.

"You are ignited, lovely pet, and there is no cure for it. The goddess has remade to be the daughter she wants; the needs that she has instilled in your breast shall define you for as long as you live." His smile became a broad grin. "You have become exactly the very token-prize that I have wanted."

Lial stared at the wall. She knew about ignited serum girls; young men made jokes about them. Lial had brolled many of there kind -- wanton and compliant creatures. They were capable of driving men almost out of their minds with pleasure, but she refused see herself as one of that debased order. Not knowing what to say or do, she reached for her pageboy clothing on the floor.

Valdam nodded. "You have not knelt before me with crossed wrists, therefore, our agreement continues. Nothing needs change, unless you wish it to change. But, lovely one, do you not crave a new and different kind of life? Is it not is time for the warrior Lial to become the girl Liala and cross her wrists?"

She stared up at him. He had called her by a woman's name. He had the right to change her name, of course. He was her master.

What? Had she called him master in her own secret mind?

"Now that you will be forever one of the ignited sisterhood," the warrior asked, "will you not choose to live to the fullest the life that can now be yours?"

Liala's brain reeled. What did she really want for herself? Just looking at this handsome man made her ache inside; the desire to please him gripped her with a physical pain.  If she gave in to desire, what would her life be like?

At the Stake War, Liala recalled, Valdam had conquered her as a man. Now she felt like he had conquered her in a new and even more humbling way. 

What next? The warrior of Cromarr seemed to be holding open the door to a new life. He obviously wanted her to enter it and, indeed, she thought that she could glimpse something beautiful within. But as tempting the lure was, Liala recognized the danger. There would be no returning from the other side. Liala was sick of the way she had been living and wondered whether she dared to put her fate into the hands of one who was so committed to possessing and dominating her.

It was an unthinking impulse of desire that brought Liala to her knees. Impulsively, with arms trembling, she attempted to cross her wrists, but at the last instant her courage failed.

The ignited girl cursed herself. She had never felt like a coward before, but this fear of the unknown was making her a poltroon. Was it such a disgrace to surrender? Her brother had expressed disgust that she had not knelt with crossed wrists long ago, and her kinfolk had rudely concurred. Did they understand something that was not at all so clear to Liala herself?

The slave's large eyes, now dewy, met her lord's imperious gaze. She suddenly realized that she hoping that he would command her. She did not think she would hesitate for a second if he stated his desires. But he didn't feel impatience; he was too strong and certain of his reality and of her reality to doubt the outcome.

He had already warned that he would not take anything from her unless it came with her complete surrender.

The dog! He could have ended her anguish by forcing her with his strength of arm to say the all words that he wanted to hear, but he would not. He wanted the words to flow from her own heart, to become a contract with him that she was entering into with full consent.

To one side, Liala saw her reflection in the long mirror that hung upon the door. It reflected a slave girl. How beautiful she appeared, how sensuous and desirable. Liala knew that if she were still male, she would have wanted to throw such a one on her back and brol her and fill her with balm until he had no more balm to give.

That's what Valdam wanted to do to her; she was sure of it.

But what did she want? She could put on those boyish clothes again and walk away. Today could be like yesterday.

But yesterday had been no great day. All her yesterdays were like torment.

Valdam read turmoil in that enchanting face. He stood up, went to his pack, and took a silver slave collar from it. He said over his shoulder, "I had this neckband inscribed while you were in still the throes of your transformation. Remember its inscription? It names you Liala and declares you property. You wore it but briefly before I sent you home. I have always carried it with me because it reminded me of you. Since you have returned, I've kept near at hand, hoping that you would submit unexpectedly and I could place it around your throat without a moment's delay."

Liala regarded the gleaming object. The slave girl within her heart and mind began to whisper, telling her that she should ask him to let her wear it forever.

Then Valdam set the silver choker at her feet and took black leather submission cuffs from his pack. These he offered to her.  She closed her eyes and her body language told him to do his will.  He placed a pair her wrists, and another on her ankles. She kept her eyes closed, afraid to see reflected her new adornments. Such baubles were not worn by all slaves all the time, but many masters thought that they reminded a new thrall that her status had been changed and that she should not act like one who is free.

Nude except for the black leather, Liala lifted her wrists and tried again to cross them. But once more she hesitated. To step through that open door would transform her as much -- more even -- than had Ruk's serum. At least the serum had been a thing forced upon her and she couldn't fault herself for her transformation -- but this change would come with her consent.

"Does my slave cross her wrists?" Valdam asked with a coaxing smile. "Or is this alluring movement only a casual gesture?"

With a burst of courage, Liala permitted the slave girl that dwelled in her heart to speak through her lips. "She -- she does -- cross her wrists."

Swiftly, with her heart pounding like a hammer, Liala acted out the gesture of submission. The moment that she did so, she saw her master's gaze change, change from the gaze of a patient guide to that of a commanding lord.

Now it was done. There would be undoing it.

Valdam calmly took a cord from his pocket and bound her hands together; he didn't draw tight the knot; it wasn't necessary. There would be no escape for this pretty blonde wench -- and probably she would not even attempt an escape. Then he picked up the collar, opened it, and placed it about her throat. Liala heard as well as felt the snap of its lock. Liala felt faint; slavery was her reality upon her at last.

"I am a slave girl!" the spirit inside her shouted.

Liala tried to grasp the thought that she was no longer a legal human being. She was only a beautiful animal, a pet, a domestic beast, and an object of male desire. She was the nude image in the mirror, the one had a master, a master who had named her Liala.

Liala touched her neckband like a freewoman might touch a diamond necklace, and she watched her reflection. What was it about the collar that made her so much prettier? She glanced at the brand on her left flank. Valdam had fondled it in the darkness, as most of her other lovers had.  Men like it so very much, so how could she herself dislike it?

Liala had an adventurous spirit, but where did adventure lie? Forward! Always forward. One door had closed behind her, she realized, but were there not other portals waiting in the misty landscape ahead?

She settled forward on to her belly, sighed, and tried to think who and what she really was.

Her own family didn't want her. They had told her that her old life was over.

But with Valmar a new life was at least possible.

The champion of Cromarr could not miss the small smile on his wench's lips. No witness was needed to make Liala his pleasure slave. She had been marked with his brand before the officers of his legion; long before this, he could have reduced her to obedience. It was only because he had wanted her so much, and had wanted so much from her, that he could not claim her that way. Instead, he had waited for this moment.

The warrior knew that his girl had made the right choice -- right not so much for him as for herself. He saw in her eyes the joy of a freed prisoner, of one who was stepping out of a dark cell into a full and healthy life beneath the sun.

The warrior came to her, knelt, took her satiny cheeks between his palms, and kissed her mouth, hard. For Liala, it was like being branded again -- but this time it was with the heat of passion, not the heat of a charcoal burner. She fell in against him, her murmured voicings quickly turning into mews and sobs. Then, clinging to his shoulders as the strength went out of her, she wept breathlessly.

Valmar let her weep her fill.  Then Liala rested, her cheek upon his shoulder, as pliant as a tabby cat. For many months the champion had been patient with her, letting her folly have free reign, until she had grown wise enough to turn away from folly. However much this acceptance of a humble status would change her, she was determined to embrace the change with determination.

As if reading her thoughts the warrior said, "You must learn to be a good thrall."

His insight startled Liala, but she responded quickly. "I shall be the best of slaves!"

"Your name is now Liala. Lial is dead," Valdam told her.

"I thank my master. It is a fine name for a...slave."

The warrior chuckled. "It is an especially fine name for a pleasure slave."

She shivered, charmed by the words that could now describe her. "Yes, especially for a pleasure slave!"

"You life must change."

The girl in his arms nodded. "I want to live a new kind of life, my master."

He suddenly released her and stood up. She started to do likewise. "No, sit where you are," he said. "It is not yet time for you to go home."


"This house is an excellent place for you to become the person you want to be."

She frowned. What was he saying?

"You have been proud, my pretty Liala. You have too long refused to accept your true nature. Though you please me greatly at this moment, you are by nature willful and your defiant ways will soon return. In a stable, if a slave fails in submission, it is a master's duty to send her to the whip." He shook his head. "But I do not wish to punish a girl whom I so much fancy, or tell any servant of mine to do it for me. A trainer, a stranger, should teach a slave that she is a slave, but I cannot afford to send wenches to professional slave schools.

"Instead, I have arranged with the master of this tavern, who is a friend of mine, to board you. You shall work as a cup girl to pay for your food and lodging. I have asked him to treat you like a common, low wench who has just been purchased at the public marketplace. In six months, when you have had time to learn how to obey, how to make yourself alluring, how to work hard, and how to please a man, I shall come back for you.

She knelt there speechless. He regarded her, marveling at the prize that the gods had bequeathed him. At last he said, "They say that ex-harlots makes the best of stable slaves and I believe it. Learn harlotry well, sweet one, for I will have no time for you unless you can serve me as the best of pleasure slaves. Does my pet understand all that I have said?"

Liala head swam at the thought of what lay in store for her. Dazed, she nodded slowly. "Y-Yes, Master." Lilala knew that what he intended to do was not unusual. Many men gave their girls over to training in taverns and pleasure houses. Many times she had had fantasies about serving in such an establishment.

Valdam kissed the girl on the top of her head and then left the room. He would not return for many a day. Liala did not remain alone for very long; a lash-slave of the house came for her. Her instruction was to begin.

She had fully wished to cooperate to please Valdam, but Liala's mood became defiant when it became clear how mortifying tavern service could be. Though the house staffers were not professional slavers, they well knew how to make good cup girls out of raw Ruk wenches.

The commonest punishment was switching. For more grave offenses there was the girl-whip. The earliest weeks of training were always the harshest. One who had lived as a free person all her life had to learn to respond to her surroundings with the mind and heart of a slave. "Breaking a girl to the collar," was what slavers called the process.

After a couple months, the punishment that she came to dread the most was being "chaste bound," sometimes with gag a to keep her from begging from annoying others. In constraint, a girl had to languish chaste for hours, or even days. In the grip of intense man-need, Liala would accuse herself for being disobedient or talking back and vow that she would never repeat her mistakes. Alas, there would always something new to spark a new flare of spleen and she would be punished all over again.

In a few months, Liala had become even-tempered and obedient, indistinguishable from the other girls, some of whom had served in taverns continuously for decades. She would make friends and sometimes she would make enemies, but always she would make the best of circumstances, for she retained the courageous heart that had made her a notable warrior.

Liala was not mocked in the house, because in it only Ruk maids worked as cup girls. Whoremasters liked serum girls for brolling; they were as lusty as males, and their conversation was never so inane as those woman-born.

Liala herself often served in the silks. With so much need upon her, she was usually grateful to do so. Where once she had once dreaded the idea of giving teur, Liala soon realized that the technique could be carried with little physical effort. She was lusty, but she had so many customers that a full brolling with each of them would exhaust even her.  So, Liala offered as much teur as possible to those who would accept it.

Liala, as a stake-war trophy, enjoyed some status, both with other cup girls and the tavern-goers. Valdam had wanted her to learn to dance, and so had seen to it that she would be taught the alluring capers of the tavern, including the Dance of Slow Revealing. She showed a talent that surprised even herself and drew in crowds, which added to her notoriety. And it flattered Liala's vanity to walk through the serving room with hot, lustful eyes following her.

She developed a sway in walking that made her customers moan with desire. Her self-image had changed considerably. In her heart she was no longer a warrior of Sharsina; she was only Liala, a bondmaid owned by one of Cromarr's most celebrated champions. Like many of those go got their training as cup slaves, she thought constantly about the day that her master would come to reclaim her. Liala vowed that when he did she would amaze him with her mastery of the arts of pleasure.

Valdam finally returned, a full week before he had originally intended to. His glance fell upon a blonde with long, alluring legs and undulating hips. The warrior was well pleased at the sight of the girl moving between the tables. He went to her, took the tray from her hands, and crushed her lips against his. That night, at home, wrapped in her master's arms, Liala, too, had much to be pleased about.

Lial's family in Sharsina would only remember a son who had died honorably. They would not seek to see Valmar's stable girl again; reunion would serve no purpose and bring no joy to anyone. Zhorians are not a sentimental people and they are skilled at dealing with loss; they are reared to face life's harshness with strength. Such strength helps them rise above pain, and by rising above it, they spare themselves much sorrow.

Meanwhile, Liala, only one of three girls in the stable of Valdam, was fulfilling her master's every dream of delight. He ceased to fight in the stake wars and Liala was pleased, so much did she fear losing him. And, if her were victorious, she certainly did not want a third rival in the house, one more whom she would have to compete with.

It was a good life in Cromarr. Valdam's favorite often danced for her master brought him to a fever pitch of excitement. Valmar refrained from telling his pretty wench how much she meant to him, for slaves are easily made vain, but Liala had in fact surpassed his every imagining of what an ideal stake-war trophy could be. The goddess Neala had worked her magic well on the unpromising captive from Sharsina. Liala served her lord with a zeal that filled every fiber of her being. He thought of her as his love-slave.

Just as Valdam cherished Liala as his love-slave, she held Valmar of Cromarr as her love-master -- though a wise girl never her master that, for it would be presumptuous. She she tried to show him her feelings in little ways.  Because she admired his manly pride, she sought to polish it until it beamed like the sun. She did this by telling him about his wonderful qualities whenever they were together.

And they were together very often.

Liala would know a life of depth and satisfaction as the favorite in Valdam's stable, until the day when --

But that is another story.



  1. I just started reading the actual text, but I already enjoyed the background reading of the world of zhor.

    I guess there happened a copy & paste error: the text contains exactly the same paragraph at the beginning. It's the second one starting with: 'But the Overlords do not favor ruinous wars ...'

  2. Finally I was able to read the whole story. I enjoyed the mental experiment with the effects of Ruk's Serum and the given choice to Lial. Although I think for my taste Ruk's Serum leads to a too narrow and lopsided identity change. But this is rather a problem I have with the Zhor universe, I like it when the possibilities of the mental changes are more open. For the story itself, I wished there would have been a few more details how Lial lost his final battle.

  3. Hi, vbranden,

    The way I did the mental change is the way I thought I had to do it for this story. Others have done Zhor with a different methods of mental change, and in future stories I might do so, too. Look at it this way: this is only the way that Lial reacted. What Ruk serum does to the mind is to instill an impulse to "natural slavery." Surely the expression of this impulse would be different in different subjects. Overlord speaks of a "repressed slave" in which the impulse does not appear at once and might never appear, unless something -- maybe a shock -- happens to break through the repression. Also, Ruk's Serum does not make a subject a nymphomaniac. It just lets the subject keep his own customary drive. Men tend to desire a lot of sex and often are promiscuous. But a woman doesn't have this strong drive, That's lucky for her because she is normally not satisfied for hours by a single sexual experience. Hence, serum girls, having the sexual drives of the man that they were, cannot get the same satisfaction so easily. She may need many experiences to satiate herself to the same degree. If a man had a weak sexual libido, however, he would not find himself so helpless and driven as the lusty Lial obviously was. This is a great universe; there a lots of ways to approach it, and I hope that this piece inspires more people to write in it.