To read Chapter 1, click here
It was the calling of a bird (some unfamiliar northern raptor, unlike the small, twittering things in her homeland) that awakened Mei the next morning, so early that the sun was barely visible. Her Master (and she bit her lip in a little bit of embarrassment about how quickly she had begun calling him that) was asleep soundly, lying on his back with one of his huge, tightly-corded arms clutching her body against his. She lay on her side, with her head pillowed by his chest. One arm was draped delicately over his chest, and one of her legs was bent slightly across his. She had fallen asleep that way, softly tracing her fingers over the muscles of his chest and tracing her slender toes lazily up and down his leg as the room’s only candle had flickered and faded. His belt, the one he had bound her hands with the night before, was now holding one of her ankles tied to the lower bedpost.
Not that I could run anyway, as sore as my hips are from being taken like that for hours, Mei thought to herself, refusing to acknowledge a deeper truth that burned within her, namely, that she wouldn’t run away even if she could.
The bed was covered with thick blankets, but Mei and her Master both lay above them, completely uncovered. Trying to cover with them after the previous night’s passion would have made the room unbearably hot, and the cool northern breeze blowing in through the window against their bare, sweat-covered bodies helped calm the heat that He had stirred in Mei.
Even in sleep, His grip is strong, Mei thought, noticing how His thick arm coiled around her from her shoulder to her thigh, squeezing her tightly against him. Her eyes fell upon His massive chest. The muscles were tight, as though even in dreams the man was ready to leap up and do battle at a moment’s notice. She traced her eyes downward, over His stomach and down to the bodypart that had given her such frenzied passion the night before. His Manhood stood rigid, and Mei drew in a sharp breath at the sight. In the dark she had not seen just how huge it was. She’d felt it… Gods, she had felt it, but she had not laid her eyes on it. Now, she ran the hand that was draped over His chest down along his steely, muscular body and wrapped her hand around that. I almost need two hands, she thought, slowly sliding her fist exploringly up and down its length.
“I like it better from your lips or thighs than I do from your hand,” the Man said calmly, startling Mei enough that she gasped and tried to pull away (only making Him squeeze her tighter against Him).
Mei blushed. “I… I don’t know how to use my mouth for that,” she said meekly. “I didn’t know you were awake.”
“I wasn’t yet,” He answered. “But I don’t sleep heavily.” He turned His face toward her, reached the other arm over to grasp her face and kissed her lips deeply. There was no uncertainty in the kiss, not a hint of asking for permission, but it was the first kiss she’d had from Him that was not in the middle of the heat of sex, and when His lips parted from hers she craned her head toward Him for another, which He gave her. After that, He grasped her petite shoulders in His bear-like hands and turned her over on her other side, facing the window, and wrapped both of His arms around her, one around her waist. With the other, he clasped a hand around her slender neck. She pressed her body tightly into His embrace and was a bit surprised when she felt Him enter her again. His thrusts were slower than they had been the previous night, but still as strong and as irresistible. She felt her entire body melt into Him as He pulled her down against His hips, guiding her into the rhythm and tempo He wanted. As He leaned in toward her to kiss the soft flesh beneath her ears and along her neck, she was unable to hold in a groan.
This is not supposed to feel this good, Mei’s mind protested. Nothing is supposed to feel this wildly, ecstatically good. Every place He touched her felt like it was on fire. The unquenchable power with which He was thrusting below, the incomparably opposite softness of His kisses along her neck, the tight grip of His arm around her waist (an arm that she could tell was strong enough to crush her as a python would but which now embraced her almost, almost tenderly), all formed a contrasting cyclone of sensations that utterly overwhelmed her mind until it simply shut off. The outside world was gone, and she was not aware of anything except her own body, and the Man she had so quickly begun to think of as her Master, a Man who seemed to know her body better than she did. “Ooh, Master,” she cried out in a gasping voice, “I’m yours. Completely yours.”
His lips made their way back to her ear and he whispered “I know.”
Moments later, Mei felt her entire body shudder as she reached her peak. A moan of ecstasy escaped her lips at the release, and she felt His body tighten and knew that the moment had come for Him at the same time. With one final, forceful thrust He drove deep within her and held her there for a long moment before He finally pulled back from her with a contented sigh. She wondered if He would take her again as he had the night before, but it seemed that most of His virility had been spent upon her in the dark and there was only the need for a few short moments in the morning. Instead, and much to her delight, He lay there and held her, His arms still wrapped around her body. As His hands casually caressed her, she laid her hands softly over His rough and callused arms. Intermittently He kissed her neck, her shoulders, and bit lightly at her ears. She tingled at the way it would hurt for a fractional instant before He went back to kissing her. It was a long time before she finally spoke. “I’m not supposed to feel this way, the way you’re making me feel,” she said in a timid voice.
“Why is that, little concubine?” He asked before giving her neck a teasing bite before kissing further along it.
“You captured me. I’m your prisoner,” she answered. “And I… I’m married.”
“Well, your former marriage no longer matters.” He said frankly. “Now you’re Mine.” He squeezed her tightly and lifted her up so His tongue could trace its way along her upper back. “Besides, do you truly think you are the only woman in history who has enjoyed being taken as a captive?”
Mei giggled. “I doubt it, Master,” she said softly. “And yes, I’m yours… but what am I? Your prisoner? Your hostage?”
He pulled his lips away from her skin for a moment but squeezed her tighter, resting the side of his face against her ear and gazing out the window with her. “I think the word in your language is ‘qiè pú,(1)’” he finally said.
Mei felt herself shrink a little at the answer, but her greater reaction was surprise. “You speak the central language then, Master?”
“Yì diǎn diǎn,” He answered. “My people have to learn a little of your language because all the gods know your people can’t seem to learn ours.”
“Of course, Master,” Mei replied. “I didn’t know the Northern Barbarians had-“ her sentence went unfinished as a thunderous sound cut her off. She cringed for a moment, thinking it was a scream of rage from him. A moment later she realized it was a deep, hearty laugh.
“Barbarians,” he echoed. “Barbarians? Truly? Is that what the Central Plainsmen say we are?” He turned Mei over to face Him, and only when Mei saw the mocking grin on His face did she relax and realize that she had not made Him angry by speaking. Once her face was on the pillow next to His, with her nose practically touching His, he went on. “Among my people, when we are angry, we fight, right then and there, and then the matter is settled. There is no lengthy plotting, no pretense no ‘saving face,’ no revenge years later. When we have been wronged, the matter is solved immediately in the eyes of all the people according to the law. There is no guǎng xī to help the rich and powerful. Among us, we say what we mean and mean what we say. There is no pretense, no false courtesy. Honesty is more important than false ‘harmony.’ The men here are men, and they do not kowtow before any princeling or king –even me- with their faces to the ground like worms. They stand, as men were meant to stand. The women here are women and they don’t blush and hide their faces at the thought of a man enjoying their bodies completely and fully. They wrap themselves around their lovers passionately, as women were meant to. When we are hungry, we eat. When we are happy, we sing and drink. When our loins burn, we make love.” His grin became a teasing smirk. “And for that, the Central Plainsmen, with all your rituals, your secrets, your swords hidden behind smiles, call us ‘barbarians,’ do you?” He kissed her lips a few times as he pulled her into an embrace. “Barbarians then… I guess I like it. Well then, little concubine, how does it feel to belong to a ‘barbarian?’ “
Mei smiled, a smile not brought on by lustful passion or post-coital bliss, but a smile of true contentment. Her arms had been pressed against his chest, but now she slid them up over his shoulders and around his neck, pressing her entire body against Him as she kissed him. “I think being captured is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, Master,” she confessed between kisses. “I can finally be myself.”
He reached a hand behind her head, grasped a fistful of her hair and held her in a longer kiss than she had been giving, letting both of their tongues twist and writhe around each other for several minutes before pulling her back just enough that their eyes could meet. Mei noticed the color of his eyes for the first time. They were a mix of green and copper. “My sweet little concubine,” He uttered, tightening His arms around her and pressing her close enough that she could feel the swelling between His thighs that hinted the morning’s rigors might not be over yet. “You’ll be the finest prize in my harem.”
Mei felt herself shrink a little at the word ‘harem.’ She had thought as much, but hearing it spoken now, so plainly, she could not overcome a twinge of regret. “Then you have others, Master?” Even before he chuckled, she knew it had been a silly question. She had known from the way he touched her, the way he did everything, that of course there were others. No man could so confidently, so expertly, so masterfully command every inch of her body with the slightest touch unless he had done it many times with many women.
“Of course I have others,” He said with a laugh, tracing a hand casually along her thigh. “Does a prince in your country have only one girl? No, dozens of kingdoms send virgins to be his concubines as a tribute payment. My people are warriors. We don’t wait for kingdoms to send girls as tribute; we go out and collect them ourselves.”
It occurred to Mei that that was the second time He’d referred to himself as a prince. Among her own people, a prince would have been a lean and elegant wisp of a man, fair-skinned and boy-faced, with soft, effeminate hands that could probably not even grasp a sword. Clearly things are different here, she thought to herself. Her Master was every inch a warrior. And yet, obviously he had found time in a warrior’s life for more refined pursuits. He knew some of the Central Plains language, and he had already proven he knew their customs as well. She wondered what kind of life He must have lived, to find time to learn so many ways. She wondered where he found so much time. Then it occurred to her, no wonder he has so many women. We’re probably the only recreation He has.
A tiny knocking sound at the door drew Mei’s thoughts back to the present.
“Enter,” her Master commanded. The door opened and a servant girl entered, head bowed, and holding a tray. Mei’s eyes widened a bit at the sight of the girl’s clothing, if indeed ‘clothing’ was the right word for it. Above the waist she wore a thin, translucent black piece that was little more than two brief triangular slips of silk over her breasts, tied by a string around her back and another around her neck. Her face was half hidden behind a veil of the same fabric, with her eyes visible over the top of it. In lieu of pants, a gold chain around her waist held two long rectangular pieces of the same translucent black silk, one in front and one behind. Neither piece covered the sides of the girl’s legs. Her wrists and neck bore gold bands, and it took Mei a moment to realize that the gold band around her neck had something that looked like writing on it and that there was a chain connecting both of the wristbands to the collar.
The servant girl’s eyes were a deep and startling shade of blue, and her long red hair looked almost like fire. Mei felt a swell of jealousy within herself as she looked at her.
The servant girl froze for an instant in surprise as her eyes fell on Mei, and in that moment it occurred to Mei that both she and her Master were naked. She pressed herself tightly against Him, partly to hide herself as best she could and partly because she wanted to make sure the servant girl saw her in His embrace.
As the servant girl entered the room, she knelt beside the bed and laid the tray on the bedside table. “Your tea, Master,” she said in a soft, youthful voice and then in a more inquisitive tone, “a new girl, Master?”
“Yes, an exquisite one,” her Master replied, and Mei found an immense satisfaction from the fact that her Master’s eyes never left her body as the servant girl spoke. “Bring a harem-silk and a sirik.”
“Yes, Master,” was all that the servant-girl said. Before rising, she picked up something off of the floor and rolled it into a bundle. Mei realized as the servant-girl left that what she’d picked up was the tattered remains of the dress her Master had torn off of her the night before.
“The day has to begin,” her Master said calmly, rising from the bed and putting on His bear-hide pants. As He untied His belt from around her ankle he regarded her with a smirk. “Don’t bother trying to run away, little concubine. I’ll just catch you again.”
Mei smiled back. “Master, there isn’t an army in the world who could take me away from your arms. But then again, I liked being caught. It might be fun to run away just so it can happen again.” As He grinned wolfishly she asked more curiously, “what’s a sirik?”
“It’s what marks you as Mine,” He answered as He fastened the snakeskin belt around his waist (and Mei saw for the first time that there was a dagger sheathed in it). “It guarantees that if any Man tries to steal you from Me, everyone who sees the gold collar and chains knows that I have the right to take you back.” The servant-girl entered again, carrying a red velvet pillow, upon which there was a folded scrap of black silk like the one she wore, and a set of three gold circlets connected by two chains, opened and unclasped. She knelt as she entered the room. “Lay it on the bedside next to the tea kettle,” her Master commanded, still not even sparing the servant-girl a glance. The girl obeyed, bowed and left the room.
Mei looked at the silk, and the golden circlets. She rolled close to the bedside table, lifted up the largest of the three (the one that was meant for her neck) and looked at the writing on it. She couldn’t recognize the language. “What does it say, Master?” She asked in a voice that sounded like a small girl inspecting a curious trinket at school.
“It says ‘property of Arturis,’” He answered as He laced one of His boots.
“Arturis,” Mei echoed, running her fingers over the unfamiliar letters. “What does that name mean?”
“It’s hard to translate it into your language,” he said. “I think the closest you could get would be ‘Huǒxióng.’ “
“Mmmm,” Mei smiled. She thought of the heat in her heart (and in her body) throughout the night, and of His massive strength. “It’s a name that’s perfect for you, Master.”
“Well it should be,” Arturis commented. “I chose it myself. You’ll start your training today, little concubine. You’ll be trained when to serve tea, how to massage muscles, how to dance, and such. Put on the silk. I’ll clasp the sirik on you before I go out.”
Mei looked at the silk, then at the sirik, and then looked toward the man who had awakened such a fire within her in only a single night. The terror of being carried away, followed by the night of pleasure unlike anything she had even dreamed of, all capped off by the sight of the servant-girl had brought her to a decision. “You won’t have to clasp your chains on me, Master,” she said serenely, and the sound of metal locks clicking into place brought Arturis’s attention back to her.
When Arturis finished fastening his boots and stood up, Mei was kneeling on the bed with her legs apart, displaying the still-throbbing flower of womanhood that had been his plaything for most of the night, and the pink early morning sunlight shone brightly on the skin of her naked body. Her eyes were wide, and despite the mix of elation and intoxicating nervousness she felt, they were watering so deeply that they shined. The silk, still untouched, lay on the pillow on the nightstand, but her hair was pulled back as she fastened the collar of the sirik around her neck, having already fastened the wrist cuffs. When the collar was fastened, she rested her hands on her knees and lifted her chin, proudly displaying the golden collar so Arturis could see her bearing his name. “What’s this,” he asked with a curious grin.
Mei wasn’t sure how much of her language He spoke, but it was difficult to convey emotion in a language that was not her own. She decided she would speak the first sentence, the most important one, in her own tongue so he could hear her sincerity, and hope he understood. “Zhǔrén,” her voice quavered as she spoke, “wǒ shì nǐde qiè pú, nǐde xiǎo núlì.” From Arturis’s reaction, Mei could tell he understood, so she went on in his language. “You captured me, stole me away from my lands, from my people, and from everything I have ever known. But I am not afraid anymore. The truth is I have never been as happy in all my life as I am in your arms.” She drew in a deep breath before going on. She was nervous about what she was about to say, but she had determined herself to say it. “Though I am only a possession, I plan to be a precious possession for you. I know there are other girls who serve you, and some of them may know how to please you better than I do. I don’t know how to dance for you. I don’t know how to relax your muscles after a long day with a massage. I don’t know all the ways to make my body more pleasing for you in bed. But Master, I will learn them, and learn them well. And when I am finished, it will not matter how many concubines you have. You will not be interested in any of them, except me. I will not stop until I am the only woman you can think of.” Once she said that, she slowly crawled across the bed toward him and began kissing him along the skin above the waistline of his trousers.
Arturis stroked her soft black hair with one of his enormous rough hands. There was a note of wonder in his voice as he mused “a precious possession indeed… What’s your name, little concubine?”
“Mei,” Mei answered.
“Not anymore,” Arturis said evenly. “From this time forward, your name is Jewel.”
“Yes, Master,” answered a woman who would never again refer to herself as ‘Mei.’ “If that is the name you have given me, then it is the only name I want. I am your jewel.”
Her answer, spoken with such devotion and submission, was too much for Arturis, and he grasped her tiny waist with both of his enormous hands and lifted her up to kiss her again. Her entire body was trembling again as she wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist and returned his kiss with the fervor of a thirst-victim at an oasis. When their lips finally parted, Jewel heard the words she had hoped to hold onto as her last little secret, the words she had been afraid to admit to herself about her captor, escape from her lips in a quivering breath. “I love you, Master.”
Arturis didn’t say anything in return. He kissed her again and set her down on the bed. With a final look into her still shimmering eyes he walked to the bedside table, drank a cup of the steaming tea at a single draught, and walked out of the bedroom. Before the door closed behind him, Jewel caught a glimpse of the intensely jealous eyes of the red-haired servant girl, who had been listening at the door the entire time.
(1) qiè pú - Mandarin: the term does not directly translate but "qiè" means "concubine." With "pú" added it refers specifically to a concubine of low status, typically a slave captured in war.
(2) Yì diǎn diǎn - Mandarin: "a little bit."
(3) guǎng xī - Mandarin: a term that refers to relationships that entail special favors; almost exclusively associated with cronyism.
(4) Huǒxióng - Mandarin: "Huǒ" means "fire," and "xióng" means "bear."
(5) Full translation of Mei's words: "Master, I am your qiè pú, your little slave."