Hibiz raced through the camp, almost colliding with guards and other servants. After nearly crashing into a swaggering guard who had drunk far too much, the boy heard the man's fiery curses behind him as he ran on down the row of tents. When he was admitted to Tushratta's tent, Hibiz fell face down on the straw-covered ground. "Master, forgive a wretched slave for this rude interruption!" he gasped out.
"Rise, boy. You know such elaborate obeisances do not bring joy to my heart." Barely looking up from the cloth chessboard spread on the table in front of him, Tushratta studied the position of his pieces before moving his grand vizier. A smile of triumph on his lips, he calmly gazed across the table at Aziru.
"Master Physician, are you sure you want to make that move?" Aziru asked innocently, his eyebrows cocked in a quizzical expression.
"Certainly. Why would I not?"
"Because of this," Aziru smugly replied as he picked up his knight and moved it two squares vertically and one square horizontally, capturing the physician's fortress in the process. "Master Tushratta, I am two pieces up on you. Would you like to concede?"
"How did you do that?" Dumbfounded, Tushratta stroked his beard and gazed at the board. "I do not understand how I missed that move, and I am a Mutaqaribat, Second Level Player, and you, Aziru, are only Third!"
Hibiz coughed politely, his trembling hands clasped respectfully across his middle. "Master, please allow me to speak!"
Tushratta gazed at the board as though he suspected some great treason had been committed. Then, shaking his head, he replied, "Aye, aye, Aziru, I concede. Put the pieces away in their chest." Looking to Hibiz, he asked, "What is it, boy?"
"A terrible thing, Master!" he gasped. "The she-orcs have gone berserk and are whipping the slave women without mercy! All of the poor wretches are bleeding from the lashes, and two have fainted!" He gulped for air, his heart pounding in his chest. "Many have been the beatings which I have witnessed in my life, but none so severe as this!" Of course, the boy was exaggerating in his description of the switching. Hibiz was a kind-hearted soul, though, who grieved when he found a small animal or bird that had died, and buried them in small graves with great ceremony. The other slave boys regarded him skeptically, but Hibiz met their taunts with an angry face and swift fists. While his kind sympathies were easily swayed by gentle creatures, the slave boy hated the monstrous orcs, whom he referred to behind their backs as "the apes."
"What!" Tushratta exclaimed incredulously as he rolled to his knees and was soon on his feet.
"Aye, Master, it is as I say! I wager they have been into their strong draught, perhaps even kapudri! Maybe they have pilfered some of the medical supplies. But, Master, this poor slave boy would not lie! The orcs have gone mad!" As he had been taught, Hibiz kept his eyes averted while he excitedly told the tale.
"Hibiz, fetch my burnoose," Tushratta commanded through tight lips. Walking over to the gong by the tent doorway, the physician struck the alarm three times, and three fierce-looking guards rushed through the opening. An expression of apprehension on their faces, the men bowed in respect and waited to see why they had been called.
"Buhur! Have you and your men been drunk or frisking with the camp followers? Hibiz has reported that the she-orcs are lashing some slave women unmercifully!" Tushratta asked in his calm, unemotional voice as Hibiz assisted him into his burnoose.
"Shakh, what do you mean? The camp is quiet. The only thing going on this evening is a little disciplining of the slave women." Buhur's brow furrowed in confusion.
"A little disciplining is one matter, but savage beatings are quite another! The master slaver will be enraged if any of his property is damaged! You and your men will follow me! Aziru," he looked back at his assistant, "you are coming, too! Some of these women might be badly injured! Bring my medical case! The Gods only know what those fiends have done! These half-breeds should all be whipped and then dismissed! I would have preferred that they had never been employed in the first place. Animals cannot be trusted to do the work of men!"
With those stern words, Tushratta turned on his heel and strode out the tent. The guards and Hibiz followed closely behind him. Aziru lagged behind, scurrying to catch up as he tossed a robe over his shoulders and repositioned his green skullcap over his balding pate.
The bundles of switches rose and fell as the sun slowly sank and dusk gathered over the land. Their faces to the ground, the two rows of slave women cringed as they heard the slap of each bundle of switches as they fell across the tortured flesh of their sisters in slavery. Their passions aroused at the sight of switches landing on bare, quivering bottoms, the Southern guards gritted their teeth and looked straight ahead. They tried to appease the stressful bulges in their breeches by thinking of how they would later use their hands to relieve their aching members or take their pleasure with the camp prostitutes.
"Twelve!" Durraiz cried as she brought the hazel switches down over Aeffe's smarting, blood speckled rump for the last time. "You shouldn't have wiggled and thrashed so much, girlie! You ought to have kept yer sweet cheeks thrust out so I could have hit 'em squarely!"
The four she-orcs stepped back and surveyed their work, smiling as the women sobbed. "Four beet-red bottoms!" Bagalaam sighed in satisfaction as she lightly rubbed the switches over Gode's seared buttocks. "Dearies, did you ever see anything so sweet as a scored and glistening arse!"
"Nothin', nothin' is sweeter... unless it is two scored and glistening arses!" Her eyes closed, Sulmûrz panted as she tossed aside the hazel switches. "There is nothing wot delights me eyes so much as the bleedin' cheeks of a chastised tart! And, ooohhh, the melody of the swishin' of the 'azels is like the gentle music that Luthien's flogger made when she flailed the black blood out of Melkor's 'oly bum that night in Angband!"
"OOo! OOo! Tell us the tale!" cried out Bagalaam. "I ain't never 'eard that one!"
"Well, dearie, the old legends say Luthien and 'er man went to Angband to steal the Silmarils from Melkor's iron crown. She did one of those magic fairy dances for 'Is 'Oliness, but 'E weren't none too impressed with 'er until she offered 'er services as a flagellant. Then the Mighty One got down on 'Is knees and begged 'er to flog 'Im. She agreed and then she went to work whippin' 'Im, 'er right arm raisin' and lowerin' in the air until she got tired, and then she switched to the left! When she wore out one whip, she picked up another! She beat 'Im until 'E 'owled in pleasure, twitchin' and squirmin'! And then 'Is ponderous black tool shot out a fulsome load of divine seed, and the foundations of Angband shook with 'Is pleasure!
"But then while 'E was out as cold as a dead fish, the treacherous elf took one of 'Is silmarils! She would have taken all three, but 'er man 'ad gotten so 'eated up at seein' the whippin' of the Mighty One, that nothing would satisfy 'is lively lust until she flailed the daylights out of 'im too! The sound of Beren's moanin' and screamin' as she blistered the blood out of 'is 'indquarters was so loud that it woke Master Melkor out of 'Is slumber, and 'E was bloody angry at the stealin' of 'Is silmaril! Then the two thieves 'ad to get out of there quick, Luthien wearin' naught but 'er leather corset, and Beren as naked as the day 'e was born! And that's 'ow Luthien made off with Melkor's crown jewels!"
Bagalaam howled in laughter and slapped her thigh. "That's a good one, dearie!"
Sulmûrz wiped tears of laughter from her eyes and then spoke up. "These sinful wenches 'ere are truly lucky, cos we ain't chargin' 'em nothin' for our tender lovin' care!" She smiled impishly. "And 'cos we've all got a bit o' elf in us, we she-orcs consider it a matter of honor to follow in the finest of the grand old tradition of our kinswoman, Luthien! We whip the best of any of our noble kind, and won't stop the scorgin' and strappin' until we keel over with exhaustion!"
Cocking her head to the side, Durraiz chuckled mischievously. "You know the elves never tell the truth about the time the Mighty One met Luthien. The tale that Sulmûrz told just drips with the truth, and I know in my heart that it is the only reliable account!"
Flauthkulot could barely contain her excitement, and her ponderous girth wiggled like jelly in a crockery jar. "Durraiz, me love, I'm so inspired by this tale that I want to lash the wenches twelve more times! Couldn't we whip 'em some more? Please? Just a wee tap or two? The bundles are still good, scarcely splintered at all. There is plenty left 'ere. Couldn't we wear the 'azel switches out on the wenches?" The elephantine beauty pouted petulantly, pushing her jaw forward, causing her two bottom tusks to extend over her upper lip, much resembling a bulldog.
"No!" Durraiz barked. "Twelve is what I ordered, and twelve is what it will be! If I hear any more of yer harpin' and carpin', I'll wear a few of those bundles out on you!"
"Oooo!" Flauthkulot wiggled her ponderous rump in excitement. "Would you? Would you? Please! I'd give anything - anything at all - just to be beaten soundly by you! You can do it better of any of the others! Ooohh, if you promise me ye will, I'll get down on me knees and treat ye like the sacred goddess ye are! Please, Mistress, please!!"
"Work before pleasure, work before pleasure, I always say, dearie!" Durraiz chuckled in spite of herself. "The dispensing of discipline comes first, and then as an act of charitable mercy, we must clean these poor wayward women's wounds! Sulmûrz, fetch the salt!"
"Ohhh yes!" Sulmûrz moaned, her body bucking involuntarily in the throes of passion. Fetid moisture dripping down her thighs, the she-orc staggered away to the wain and soon returned with a earthenware basin of dampened salt.
"Sulmûrz, you bring the basin and come along with me! The rest of you stand back!" Durraiz ordered as she walked towards Aeffe. "I'm in command here, and besides, I know more about how to do this than any of you!"
"Durraiz!" Bagalaam grumbled. "Wot's to know about rubbin' salt on someone's bum? Just take an 'andful and smack it on 'em and rub it deep!"
"Silence! Not another word out of you, Bagalaam!" Durraiz dipped her meaty paw into the basin of salt and smeared the damp mixture over Aeffe's raw, bleeding back, buttocks and thighs. "Nurnian salt - the best there is!" This new pain was more than Aeffe could bear, and throwing back her head and shrieking in agony, she sagged against the ropes in a swoon.
"Oooo!" Sulmûrz squealed, shaking her bottom and causing her necklace to tinkle. "Oooo! Look who's coming! If it ain't the physician 'imself! But, awww, he's too late for the fun!"
Turning her head to the right, Durraiz' eyes followed along the long line of slave women. The Southern guards had jerked their bodies to attention and were saluting. "That means trouble," Durraiz muttered out of the side of her mouth.
And indeed there was trouble headed in their direction. Though his expression was composed, almost indifferent, the physician's eyes blazed with anger. As he strode between the two rows of women, he signaled for more guards to join Buhur and follow him.
The six female orcs glanced around wildly, but seeing that they were outnumbered, they fell to the ground, bowing before Tushratta as he reached them.
"Oh, Master," Durraiz simpered as she kept her head inclined, "you'll be right pleased with what was done here this evening!"
"I am not pleased," the physician replied icily. "If any of these women have been permanently scarred because of this torture, I will see that all of you lose your right hands and your employment!" Turning to the guards behind him, Tushratta ordered, "Men, cut those women down immediately! Aziru, examine them!"
"Wot?!" Durraiz asked incredulously. "I thought we would leave them tied here overnight! The lesson would stay with them a lot longer that way!"
Ignoring the orc's protests, Tushratta turned his attention to Aziru, who was in the process of examining Aeffe's scored and bleeding buttocks. "What mischief has been done, Aziru?"
"They will not be sitting down anytime soon," Aziru remarked as an exploratory finger brought a squeal of pain from Aeffe, who had recovered from her faint. "The wounds are painful, but should not mar these lovely backsides forever. The stripes have already been salted. Let them put on their garments and send them back with the others."
"What about us, Master?" Durraiz shifted her position and looked up at the tall physician. "We did the best we could!"
"Durraiz, certainly you did your very best." Tushratta smiled benevolently. "I think all six of you should be appropriately rewarded for your labors here this evening."
"Oooo! We really laid it on 'em, Master!" Durraiz simpered. "What are we going to get for it?"
"Twenty stripes each." Tushratta grinned.
Her mouth dropping open, Durraiz gaped at him in disbelief. "What kind of reward is that? You can't do that! You don't have the authority!"
"No?" The physician's eyebrows raised. "Watch and see." Tushratta stepped aside as the guards rushed forward and surrounded the disbelieving orcs.
Her eyes rolling in her head at the sight of drawn spears and scimitars, Durraiz began to sweat. "Master physician," she looked up at him pleadingly, "aren't you being a little harsh on us? We are only trying to do our duty as we have been ordered to do! The master slaver told us to teach 'em a lesson for escaping! Maybe we got a little carried away, but we meant no harm!" Her voice trembled. "We gave them only twelve lashes and then saw to their weals! They'll be sore for a few days, but when their welts heal, they'll be as good as new! The assistant doctor says so!"
"Durraiz, you and your friends can think about it while the guards punish you. Men, take their weapons and then tie them to the trees at the edge of the camp! Give them twenty lashes each and spare not a one of them!"
"Aye, Physician. I promise you we will lay it on to them." Buhur and his rogues smiled as they prodded the twitching orcs to their feet. As they were herded towards the trees by the guards, Bagalaam and Flauthkulot whispered to each other.
"Ooo, lovey," Flauthkulot gushed, "me belly's gettin' 'ot already, and I'm feelin' a tinglin' between me legs! One little touch and I'll soak me leathers! I've never been whipped by a Southron before! I 'ere they like to give it to their women 'ard, fast and vigorously!"
Bagalaam moaned and shook her hindquarters. "I 'aven't been this excited since me old dad stripped me naked, strapped me down over a log and blistered me arse with 'is flogger! Soon we'll all be 'umpin' the trees as those 'andsome men kiss our backsides with Southern fire! Oooo! I can 'ardly wait!" Giggling, Bagalaam twitched again as her body convulsed in a spasm of ecstasy. "I 'ope they rape us! It'll be me first time, and not every she-orc can say 'er maiden'ead was taken by one of the 'ot-blooded Southrons!"
As the two physicians walked back to their tent, Tushratta was silent. Clasping his hands behind his back, the doctor was deep in thought. Finally he broke the silence. "After that, I could use a goblet of wine."
Aziru sighed deeply, a pensive look upon his face. "After beholding so many delectable blossoming flowers spread open in full pink bloom, it is not a goblet of wine that will quench my desperate thirst. Only the heady wine of love will sate me! It would take all five of the delightful fallen goddesses of passion to satisfy me tonight!"
"Do you forget, my friend? Tonight is your turn to be on duty should any injuries be reported in the camp," Tushratta chuckled congenially. "Who knows? Some zealous flagellant might strain a muscle in his excitement!"
"Tushratta," Aziru groaned, "you have snatched me from the arms of the houris in the realms of perpetual bliss and cast me back down to earth's misery!"
"To assuage your grief, Aziru, I will give you leave to read my priceless volume of medicine written by the greatest ashipus of Bablon."
"I would rather explore the mysteries written on the trembling houris' bodies as they sigh and whimper beneath me! And you, Master Physician, will you seek the altar of passion's ecstasy?" Aziru shook his head. "How I envy your night of freedom!"
"Nay, Aziru. First I will take my supper, and then I must attend to my journal," the physician replied. "There is much I must write upon its pages."
"What a waste of a night meant for enchantment!" Aziru lifted his palms upward as though imploring the gods to have mercy upon him.
"After perusing my journal, I think I shall enjoy a restful night of slumber upon my couch," Tushratta remarked good-naturedly.
"May the gods be gracious to you and strike you with sense, for you, my friend, are devoid of any!" Aziru grumbled.
"Perhaps a game of chess before you see the patients will cheer you up."
Aziru sighed in misery, but Tushratta only smiled and clapped him on the back as the two men passed the guards at the doorway and walked into the tent.