The Herb Plot 3

by Zack

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© Copyright 2004 - Zack - Used by permission

Storycodes: M+/ff; bondage; kidnap; nc; X

(story continues from )

The Star Fleet Series
The Herb Plot - Chapter 3
by Zack
The Herb Plot 3 by Zack

Chapter 3

Jani was getting desperate.  Her right leg was trembling from the strain of supporting all her weight.  Already she had come close to disaster several times, and she knew that eventually she would fall and the rope around her neck would strangle her.  She was crying and whimpering, tears streaming down her face.  Her hopes soared when she heard a soft knock on her door. "Help! Help!" she screamed, then struggled frantically to regain her balance.

Carin entered the room.  "Jani!  What are you doing?  I know you like risky games, but this is ridiculous!"  She hurried to the wall next to Jani and untied the rope from the ring.

Jani lost her balance and fell to the floor, landing on her bottom with a thump and falling onto her back.  She gasped, "It, it's not game..."

Carin opened the noose and lifted it off Jani's neck.  "Lie still until you've recovered.  Oh, Jani, I thought you had more sense than to do something this foolish."

"I didn't... it's not a game."  Jani tried to sit up.  "We've got to get out of here!  He may come back to make sure I'm dead!"

"What? Are you saying someone deliberately tried to kill you?  Why would anyone do that?"  Carin untied Jani's knees and tried to roll her over so she could untie her arms. "Hold still until I get these ropes off."

"No time for that!  Help me up, we can't stay here."

Carin didn't know what was going on, but she responded to the panic in Jani's voice and helped her to her feet.  She found a robe and draped it around Jani's naked body and tied the sash to hold it closed.   Jani's blue dress was on a wall peg; Carin took it and picked it up some sandals from the floor.  "We can go next door.  No one will look for you there."

"Fine, but hurry!"  Jani led the way out the door and down the back stairs.  She stopped before the door to the alley.  "Check outside and make sure no one is watching."

Carin opened the door and examined the alley.  "No one is here.  Quickly!"  The women ran across the alley and into the headquarters building.  The hurried down the hall and Carin opened the concealed door to the conference room.  "We'll be safe in here."

Hovat was seated at the conference table and speaking into a transcriber.  He looked up with surprise when the women burst into the room.  "Carin!  What brings you here at this time of day?  And the zl... er, Jani, too."

"Jani says someone tried to kill her.  Would you mind looking the other way?  I've got to take her robe off to get at the ropes."

"Why would that bother her?"

"It bothers me!  Now turn around!"  Hovat shrugged and turned his back.  Carin removed Jani's robe and  started to untie her hands.  "Now tell me what happened, Jani."

"You remember I told you about the priest who was my customer?"

Hovat interrupted, "The alleged priest."

"Oh, he's a priest all right.  At least, he meets with the Inner Council, because everything he's told me about in advance has happened later."  She glared at Hovat's back.  "Anyway, today he told me Mavolo plans to poison the queen with a new potion they've developed.  It won't kill her, it will sort of hypnotize her so she'll do exactly as Mavolo tells her.  Once he's got her under his control she'll be made to issue decrees that reverse all of her reforms."

Hovat exclaimed, "This is preposterous!  Where could a primitive society like this get such a drug?"

"It's possible, Hovat.  We know that many herbal remedies and virulent poisons come from plants.  The priests of Sigur specialize in that sort of thing.  They could have developed such a drug." There was a pause as Carin removed the last of the ropes.  "But why did the priest tell you all this, Jani?"

"He just can't stop talking.  He tells me everything.  When he finally realized he had talked too much he was going to kill me.  I pleaded with him, tried to convince him to make me his slave instead of murdering me.  He said he would let Sigur decide.  If someone found me before I strangled it would be Sigur's will."  Jani put on her dress before she rubbed the rope marks on her wrists.  It bothered her to be naked in the same room with Hovat.

"Jani, this is terrible!  The queen has to be warned as soon as possible.  She might not be convinced by a message, so it would be best if you tell her your story in person.  But how can you get an audience?"  Carin thought a moment.  "I know!  We're in luck.  The Merchant's Council meets late tonight. You can come with me.  We can tell the queen then."

Hovat objected, "You can't do that, Carin!  Telling the queen would interfere with the normal chain of events and alter the planet's path of development.  It would be a violation of the First Directive!  You could be prosecuted and the university could lose its permit."

"Don't be ridiculous, Hovat!  We're not teaching them how to make steam engines or supplying energy weapons.  All we're doing is telling the queen something Jani discovered while she was in character.  No one will know that she's anyone other than what she appears to be, a prostitute with a blabbermouth client."

"You cannot do this, Carin!  Telling the queen is wrong!"

"Only if you think Mavolo's foul plan is a good thing, Hovat.  Anyway, I'm in charge here, and I've decided that the queen will be told."  She checked the time.  "Today's Council meeting is an hour after sunset.  We have over three hours to wait.  We better stay here, Jani. Do you need anything from your room?"

"No, but I should cancel the rest of today's appointments.  Tola can do it.  Tell her I'm sick."

Carin stood up, but Hovat forestalled her.  "I'll do it.  You'd better stay with Jani, and I have to go out anyway."

"I'll give you a note.  Tola doesn't know you."  Jani scribbled a short message on a piece of locally produced paper and gave it to Hovat.

"I still think you're making a mistake, Carin."

"The subject is closed, Hovat."

Hovat glowered, but he left the room with no further comment.

Jani was sitting at the table and holding her head in her hands.  Carin was concerned. "Are you all right, Jani?  Do you need medical help?  I can get out the medical equipment and run a diagnosis."

"No, I'm not physically hurt. It's always a mental strain when I've been close to death like this."

"Has this happened before?  Has some other client tried to kill you?"

"Oh no, the other times happened back on Zarn.  Once my boyfriend tied me up and it was difficult to breathe through the gag.  I almost smothered."

"You mean he deliberately left you like that?"

"No, he got drunk and passed out.  Luckily, the other girl in our threesome was able to wiggle over to me and pull out the gag.  Then we were able to untie each other, and I was so pissed I hogtied my boyfriend and we just left him.  Then us girls had a wild time together."  Jani smiled at the memory.  "Then another time I almost died, I was ..."

"No, that's enough, Jani!  I don't want to hear any more."

Jani shrugged, "Whatever.  How about you, Carin?  Have you ever had sex while you were tied up?"

"No I haven't!  Just the idea is repulsive."

"You ought to try it at least once.  You might be surprised."  Carin got red in the face and Jani backed off. "Fine, it was just a suggestion.  Everybody is wired differently, and if you don't want to..."

"I don't!  Now let's drop the subject."  Carin got her terminal and started to make a journal entry describing the day's events.  "We have some time to wait, Jani, so why don't you work on your reports?  You haven't provided one for weeks.  If you want to dictate them there's a transcriber in one of these cupboards."

Carin started writing with such concentration that Jani knew she had probed a sore spot. "Carin, why don't we go to the palace now and wait there until the meeting?  Or we might even be able to see the queen before it."

"The queen won't allow it.  When her father was king the palace hallways were always filled with petitioners and office seekers, and she hated it.  You don't get inside the palace now unless you have an appointment for a specific time.  It's a much more efficient way to run the government.  But we'd have to wait around in the open and I don't want to take the risk.  Now get to work on your reports."

"Whatever you say."  Jani found a transcriber and started to speak quietly into it.

About three hours later Athel entered the room.  "Hello, Carin, Jani.  I'm surprised to see you two here.  Isn't this the peak time for your businesses?"  He yawned.  "Excuse me.  I've adapted to the local schedule and I've been awake since before dawn.  This is way past my bedtime.   Anything special happen today at your Council meeting, Carin?"

"Queen Narona had to meet with the Flavish ambassador this afternoon so the Council meeting was postponed until tonight.  You haven't said much about me being on the Council, Athel.  Do you think I'm compromising my objectivity?"

"Not at all.  I don't care what Hovat thinks, it's good for you to get involved in the inner workings of this society.  You'll be able to get a much clearer picture from the inside."

"Thanks, Athel.  I appreciate your support, and I may need it more than ever.  I was just about to leave for the meeting and Jani is going with me.  She heard about a plot against the queen and we're going to warn her.  But Hovat objects on First Directive grounds."

"If it's something Jani can reveal without going out of character I don't see a problem. What's the plot all about?"

Carin checked the time.  "Mavolo is planning to poison the queen.  I can't tell you all the details now, we're running late.  We'll be back in a couple of hours.  I'll explain everything then."

"Tell me in the morning.  I don't think I can stay awake a couple of hours."  Athel yawned again.  "Do you think there's any danger?  I can escort you to the palace, if you think there is."

Carin considered the offer.  Athel was tired, and he was no warrior anyway.  She shook her head.  "I don't think there's any risk.  I'll see you in the morning."

Carin and Jani slipped out of the back door and into the alley.  The tavern was on one edge of an  enclave of old buildings that had somehow escaped the fire, and to get to the palace they had to traverse most of it.  Carin was very nervous as the two women threaded their way over the cobblestones of the narrow, twisting streets.  Twilight had not completely faded and two of the moons were visible tonight, (one was almost full), but in spite of this little light penetrated between the closely-set old buildings and the streets were very dark.  Carin and Jani had a real fright when they met two men in a narrow street, but the men passed them with no more than a glance.  Relieved, the women hurried on.

Finally they reached the edge of the new town.  The streets in this burned-out area had been re-surveyed and ran in straight lines on a rectangular grid.  They were also much wider than the narrow lanes of the old city.  The street wasn't paved, but in this section a brick sidewalk had been installed.  Carin breathed a sigh of relief.  Now the bright moonlight illuminated their path, and it was only about half a kilometer to the palace.

Jani and Carin increased their pace now that they could see better in the moonlight.  This section of the city was deserted at this time of night.  There were many vacant lots and construction sites, and the buildings in use mostly housed businesses or government offices, closed at this hour.

They could see the lights of the palace now, and Carin relaxed a bit.  They were walking next to a building under construction when three men stepped out of the shadows of the scaffolding that shrouded the half-built brick walls.  They were dressed as sailors, wearing canvas trousers and knit shirts.  One man said, "Jani?  Is that you?"

Jani was startled, and blurted out, "Yes.  What do you want?"

"We want you to sail with us, darlin'."  He gestured to his companions. "Take 'em."

Carin and Jani turned to run, but two more men had moved in behind them.  Jani got in a kick that doubled up one of them, but two others seized her and pushed her to the ground.  Carin tried to dodge around the men blocking her path, but she was also forced to the ground by two men.  One held her hands behind her back while the other wrapped rope around her wrists, then cinched and knotted it.  She tried to call for help, but her screams were muffled by rags stuffed in her mouth and held in place with more rope.  Once she was helpless she was immobilized; her knees were tied together and then linked to her neck so her chest was crushed against her thighs.  Her ankles were tied to her wrists, and now she was a tightly wrapped ball.  Jani was treated the same way.

The men brought out a pair of two-wheeled handcarts that had been concealed on the construction site and a woman was deposited in each.  Sea bags piled on top of the hapless passengers concealed them from view.

"Good work, lads, but now we must run.  The cap'n will skin us if we lose the tide. Take them to the ship; I'll follow as soon as I have a word with the priest."  He turned to a black-robed figure who stepped out of the shadows, and the others jogged toward the waterfront, pulling the carts through the deserted streets.

"So, those were the women you wanted?"

The priest replied, "Yes, you have done well."

"Why you want these particular women?  You weren't so choosey about the others we've supplied."

"That is not your concern.  You are being paid well to follow orders and keep your mouth shut."  The priest dug in the pouch on his belt and produced a folded and sealed paper.  "Give this message to High Priest Angko.  He is sailing with you to Sigurla."

The leader of the kidnappers took the paper, gave a mocking salute, and hurried away to catch up with his men.  The priest watched him go, a thin smile of satisfaction touching his lips.  Then he faded into the shadows.

Carin was terrified.  Her cramped position in the cart was very painful, and she felt as if the gag was smothering her.  She tried to scream, but all that came out of her plugged mouth were muffled bleats.  When she got over the initial shock her fear intensified.  Why would anyone kidnap her and Jani? This was not a random abduction, the men were waiting for them.  She was sure she knew the reason, and was more frightened than before.

When the sailors reached the harbor they slowed their pace to a casual-appearing walk.  They moved along the wharf until they reached the gangplank of Crnath's Bounty, a small hermaphrodite brig.  The ship was ready to depart; the mooring lines were singled-up and the sails flapped in the gentle breeze.

Captain Zalek was on the quarterdeck.  When he saw his men he shouted, "About time you got here.  You have our special cargo?"

The first mate (who had led the abductors) replied, "Aye, Cap'n.  In the carts."

"Then get aboard quick. I want to sail on this tide."

The men wheeled the carts up the gangplank and onto the deck.  As soon as they were aboard the gangplank was pulled in and the captain ordered the dock workers to cast off the mooring lines.  The square sails on the mainmast and the schooner rig on the mizzen were sheeted home.  The ship drifted away from the wharf and gathered steerage way as the sails caught the wind.

As soon as the ship was out of the harbor the captain joined the first mate on the main deck.  "Did you have any trouble, Marto?"

"No Cap'n, no one saw us."  He chuckled. "One of 'em kicked Rolo in the balls, but he's fine now."

"All right, get them out of those carts before they smother.  Put them in my cabin.  Take out their gags, but leave them tied."

"Uh, is the crew goin' to get a turn?"

"Yeah, but I'm the captain, so I go first.  I don't want anybody jumping to the head of the line.  You see to it."

"Aye, Cap'n."  The mate and a sailor took Carin and Jani out of the carts and carried them into the captain's cabin.

Carin was weeping quietly.  As soon as they were alone Jani said, "Carin?"

Carin made an effort to get herself under control.  "Oh Jani, this hurts so much, and I'm so frightened.  You realize that Mavolo is behind this, don't you?  The priest must have told him you knew about the plot to poison the queen."

"You're right. The priest must have told him.  Uh, you know we're going to be raped, don't you?"

"Yes, I suppose I do.  But I'm not going to surrender peacefully!"

"That's just what you must do!  I'll do the fighting.  You pretend you're dead, and don't show any reaction at all.  That's a real turn-off, and the men will probably leave you alone since they've got me.  Playing the rape victim is part of my act, and I'll keep 'em excited."

"Oh, thank you, Jani.  That's so good of you."

"It's not exactly a sacrifice for me."  Jani groaned.  "I wish they'd get to it.  These ropes really hurt."  The door latch rattled.  "Show time.  Remember, Carin, don't display any reaction at all, no matter what's done to you."  The captain entered the cabin.  Jani snarled, "About time.  Get these ropes off me and I'll wipe the floor with you.  You're not man enough to take me."

* * *

An hour after dawn the ship was anchored off Sigurla's only beach.  The ship had a crew of seventeen, and one passenger; Angko, one of the High Priests of Sigur.  Carin had been raped five times, and Jani twenty three times.  Angko had remained true to sect doctrine, and  two crewmen didn't like girls.  This meant the rest of the crew averaged less than two sex acts each.  Jani was loudly scornful of this poor performance, and she only shut up when Captain Zalek got so mad he threatened to keelhaul her.

Carin was surprised she wasn't emotionally shattered.   During her ordeal she had tried hard to separate herself mentally from her body, viewing what was happening to her as an anthropological demonstration.  She got no sexual pleasure from any of it, but it didn't hurt unbearably.  A couple of the sailors had slapped her around in an attempt to get some reaction from her, but she followed Jani's instructions exactly and didn't respond.

One man hadn't been discouraged by her passiveness; he was so enthusiastic that some of the others called him a 'corpse fucker'.  This lead to a rather violent fight, and after that no one was willing to use her.  For the rest of the night she just lay on the deck, not that she could move anywhere else.  She watched the moonlight on the sails, and tried to ignore the grunts of the men and Jani's moans and screams.

Both women had been stripped naked and tied spread-eagle on the deck for the sexual assault, and now the captain ordered them released and wrapped for delivery.  Their wrists and elbows were tied behind their backs, and then their tied ankles were fastened to the elbow bindings in a severe hogtie.

The hatch had been opened and the crew was hauling sacks of barley out of the hold. The ship's longboat, loaded with grainsacks, was alongside, and Carin and Jani were handed into it and rowed to the shingle beach.

As soon as the women were ashore Captain Zalek confronted Angko. "All right.  They've been delivered, so pay what you owe me."

Angko gave him a heavy canvas pouch.  The captain opened it and counted the gold coins it contained.  "Just as agreed.  Nice to do business with you.  Our shipping agent will bill the temple for the cargo delivery and your passage."

Angko said, "You charge a high price for your extra services, Captain.  Perhaps in the future you will wish you had been more moderate."

"Special services are costly.  And perhaps I'll wish I hadn't dealt with you at all, if the law finds out about this.  Kidnapping is a hanging offense."  He looked over the side, where the crew was loading sacks into the jollyboat.  "If you want to go ashore you'd better take this boat.  The tide's rising fast, and the beach will be under water soon."

Angko clambered over the gunwale and leaped into the boat.  Captain Zalek was sorry he didn't land in the water.  Like all seamen, the captain was a follower of Crnath, the sea god, and didn't much care for Sigur and his minions, for all that he craved their gold.  Actually, there was still over an hour before the beach would be covered with water, but the quicker the priest was off the ship, the better.  He watched the boat until it reached the rocky shore.

The captain felt the ship moving under him.  He jumped, thinking the anchor was dragging, but was relieved when he realized it was just the current swinging the ship around its cable.  This small bay was notorious for its tricky currents, and a ship unable to sail out was doomed to be driven aground.

He was getting anxious now, and looked to the beach.  On the top of the cliff was a stone structure with a crane projecting from it.  A cargo net loaded with grain sacks was being slowly pulled up to the top of the cliff; then the crane was swung inboard and the net unloaded.  That must have been the last of the barley, because the next net load was the two women.  He could hear shrieks of fear as the net swayed in the breeze.  With all of the cargo unloaded the sailors got in their boat, and once they were clear of the beach a rope ladder dropped down.  Angko climbed it to the top of the cliff and stepped onto the battlement.

Captain Zalek relaxed once the ship had sailed clear of the bay and was safely out to sea.  He turned to the first mate.  "Well done, Marto.  The priest paid real good for those two women.  I wonder why he wanted them?"

"I don't know either, Cap'n.  I asked the other priest, but he just told me to mind my own business".

The captain nodded.  "That's good advice.  It's not healthy to interfere in the affairs of Sigur.  Anyway, a profitable voyage."

"Yes, Cap'n, and fun as well.  It's not often you meet a woman like Jani."


"The blonde.  She worked upstairs at Smade's Tavern.  The other woman was Carin.  She owns Smade's."

The captain was shocked.  "You know those women?"

"I visited Jani a few times.  I don't know Carin, I just saw her in the tavern.  I recognized them as soon as the priest pointed them out.  What's the matter?"

"These aren't peasant girls, like the others we supplied.  I've heard of Carin, the queen appointed her to the Merchant's Council.  When she's missed people will be looking for her."

Marto shrugged.  "What difference does it make? No one saw us with them, and they're on Sigurla now.  No woman has ever returned from there. Don't worry, we're in the clear."

"As long as nobody gets drunk and runs his mouth in some bar."

"Nobody will do that again, Cap'n.  They'll all keep the oath.  They all remember what happened to Dik when he broke it.  Nobody will talk."

"I hope so, but I've got a bad feeling about this.  I'm going to make an extra sacrifice to Crnath."

End of Chapter 3

Copyright © 2004 by Zack. All rights reserved.
I welcome your comments. Email me at [email protected] or [email protected]

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