The Manumission Game, part 4 of 6

“I’m not a woman,” he said in a low voice. “I’m a man, but a wicked alchemist did this to me. Can you tell me anything about the sorcerer who did this to you?”

A haunted look came into the eyes of the women for a moment, but quickly passed. “We have ever been thus,” one of them said.

The Manumission Game

Part 4 of 6

by Trismegistus Shandy

That night Tyngsen met Ftymsar at Madam Fparadra’s. He found the sorcerer chatting in the parlor with Drispana, one of the older girls — she was just starting to lose her looks, and would need to find another line of work soon, if she couldn’t find a husband.

“You ready?” the Boss asked him.

“Sure. I’ve got everything I need right here,” Ftymsar said, hefting his large black bag of spell-materials.

Madam Fparadra led them upstairs and peered through a small barred window in the door. “Good, the inner door is closed...” She unlocked the outer door, let them into the vestibule, and locked them in.

Tyngsen studied the room. The inner door had a hydraulic mechanism attached, apparently to close it automatically if it wasn’t held open. From this side, it looked easy to open; he wasn’t sure what kept the women on the other side from opening it, or how their customers got out when they were finished.

“You know the drill,” Ftymsar said, “undress and step into this circle.” He knelt and sketched a circle on the floor with green chalk.

“How are you supposed to cast this curse on somebody I don’t like if you need them to undress and step into a circle?” Tyngsen said, untying his shoes.

“Oh, I can cast it from a thousand miles away if I’ve got some of the guy’s hair or fingernails, or dirty underwear or used condoms, or any of several other things with a connection to him. But it’s a lot faster and easier if the target cooperates. You want to be here all night?”

“You’re the expert,” Tyngsen said, taking off the rest of his clothes and stepping into the circle. The impotence curse turned out to be a fairly quick spell; he didn’t feel anything, of course, and he watched Ftymsar carefully to see if he detected anything off about him. He didn’t seem to suspect anything, at least not while he was working the spell.

“You took that awfully calm,” he remarked as he put his materials back into his bag. “Most guys would be a little nervous about losing the ability to get it up for four days or more... I can’t guarantee it will wear off sooner than a week, but if it lasts longer than that, come to me and I’ll do another spell to break it.”

Tyngsen shrugged. “My lady friend and I are old enough we don’t jump in the sack like teenagers every time we see each other,” he said. “A few nights of quiet cuddling and talking will be good for us. — What next?”

Ftymsar took a deep breath. “Now... we go in. Let them do what they want with you, and they’ll probably lose interest in a few minutes. Then I’ll draw the circles and you tell them to step into them and stand still. Identify yourself first, tell them you’re their master, Boss Ftero’s heir, and so forth.”

“All right. Let’s do it.”

“Follow me through the door as quick as you can... Leave your clothes out here, you won’t need them.” Ftymsar turned the doorknob, pulled the door open just far enough to admit him, and slipped through; Tyngsen was on his heels, and pulled the door to behind him, hearing it click loudly as it shut. He glanced back and saw that from this side the doorknob was a kind of puzzle; then his attention was drawn to his surroundings.

There were five women, all young and beautiful and none wearing anything, scattered around on beds, chairs and couches. They were of different ethnicities, their skin ranging from pale to ebon and their builds as diverse again.

“Thou hast returned!” cried a small slender woman with pale skin, rising from a couch and stepping rapidly toward the men.

“And brought with thee a friend,” said a taller and darker woman, jumping out of bed and following her companion.

“Dost fare better this day?” another one asked Ftymsar. “Oh, I hope so!”

“There’s something’s amiss about thee,” said the fourth, approaching Tyngsen and looking him forthrightly up and down. The fifth took Tyngsen’s hand and said dubiously, “He seemeth manly enow...”

Ftymsar was being dragged, unresisting, into one of the large beds by three of the women, leaving these two to study Tyngsen uncertainly.

“I’m afraid I can’t do what you want,” Tyngsen said, uncertain if they would be able to understand him. “I’m under an impotence curse, like my friend there.”

“Mayhap... but let us try thy mettle ere we despair,” one of the women said, taking him by the left arm. The other took his right, and they pulled him toward another bed. He let them.

It didn’t take them long to figure out that he wasn’t what he looked like.

“I can see it, but I can’t touch it,” one of them said in frustration as she groped his crotch.

“I feel these but see them not,” the other said, grasping his vestigial breasts. “Is it a woman or a man?”

Tyngsen glanced at the other bed, where Ftymsar seemed to be thoroughly distracted with the other women’s useless ministrations. Hopefully he hadn’t heard that.

“I’m not a woman,” he said in a low voice. “I’m a man, but a wicked alchemist did this to me. Can you tell me anything about the sorcerer who did this to you?”

A haunted look came into the eyes of the women for a moment, but quickly passed. “We have ever been thus,” one of them said.

“What’s your name?”

“We need no names.”

It was time to try something different. “Listen,” he said, “I’m your master, Boss Tyngsen. Your owner. Boss Ftero, who used to own you, was my uncle, and I’m his heir and successor.”

“Oh,” one of them said. She seemed uninterested. “Let us go, and see whether his friend hath recovered his strength,” she said to her companion, and got up to go over to the other bed.

The other woman continued groping Tyngsen’s crotch for a little longer, and said, “Thou’rt a girl; I feel thy cunt though there be something amiss about it. Why not join us in taking our pleasure of yon fellow?”

“I’m not a girl,” Tyngsen insisted quietly. “It just feels that way...” He thought about trying to explain, and gave up. “I don’t enjoy it when a guy puts his thing in down there.”

“It’s the only joy we ever have,” the woman said. “Thou must surely be sad, if thou hast no joy in being tumbled. Hast suffered some injury there?” He could barely feel her finger in the numb cavity the alchemist had cut into him; still, he didn’t like it. He pushed her hand away gently and said:

“Yes, I suffered an injury there once. But I’m not sad, there are other good things in life besides sex. We’ll break this spell and you’ll be able to think of and enjoy other things.”

“Oh.” She seemed finally to lose interest in him, jumped up and wandered over to the other bed. About that time a couple of the women who had been trying without success to get Ftymsar erect lost interest in him and headed toward the bed Tyngsen was just getting out of. He tried to tell them he was their master, but with no better success.

Ftymsar, in the other bed, patiently endured the attentions of the other women while the three who had first accosted him discovered to their disappointment that Tyngsen wasn’t equipped to satisfy them. Finally, all five seemed to grow bored and retreated to the other end of the room, pouting. Tyngsen sat up and looked at Ftymsar, wondering how much he had overheard of what the women had said about Tyngsen, or what he had said to them about himself.

If he had overheard anything odd, he didn’t let on. Probably he had been too distracted by the women in bed with him, even with the impotence spell, to notice what the others were saying. He said to Tyngsen, “Did you try telling them you were their master?”

“I did. They didn’t seem to care.”

Ftymsar sighed. “Okay, it’s not an obedience spell at all. It’s just an obsession spell. That narrows it down a lot. I still don’t know how it works, but...” He mused quietly for a few moments, then went to where he had dropped his black bag when the women grabbed him, opened it, and got out the chalks. He drew a couple of circles in the floor, and said to Tyngsen:

“Try this. Just grab one of them — the smallest, the hazel-eyed girl there — pull her into this circle, and hold her there, if you can.”

“I can, unless the others gang up on me.” Tyngsen tried ordering and cajoling her first, though. “Listen,” he said to her, approaching the couch where she lay and looking down at her, “come stand in that circle over there.”

“Thou canst not pleasure me,” she said. “Wherefore should I obey thee?”

“No, I can’t pleasure you. But you’ll be able to have other kinds of fun later, if you do this now.”

“What other kind may there be?” She lost interest in him and gazed at the wall vacantly.

He took her by the shoulders and lifted her from the couch. She didn’t resist much, and after brief glances at him the others didn’t seem to care. He frog-marched her into the circle and stood there.

“When may some other men come?” she said. “Thou and thy friend are of no use.”

“Later,” Tyngsen promised her. “Right now you need to stand still and be quiet.”

She was, for a while, though not all through Ftymsar’s diagnostic spell. A couple more times, at intervals of half an hour or so, she complained that she was bored and that Tyngsen and Ftymsar were no fun. Tyngsen worried that she would say something to give away his secret to Ftymsar, but she wasn’t that specific in her complaints.

Finally, Ftymsar said: “Let her go, and let’s get out of here.”

He worked the puzzle set into the door — it was fairly simple, but apparently too complicated for the women to figure out — and he and Tyngsen slipped through quickly. The women didn’t try to follow them.

“What did you learn?” Tyngsen asked as they got dressed in the vestibule.

“I’ll need to study and think about what I’ve seen,” Ftymsar said with a frown. “It’s a complex spell, but I think it was supposed to be temporary, and something went wrong with the conditions that were supposed to terminate it. The immortality might be a side-effect of that; they can’t age or die until the conditions of the spell are fulfilled and they’re freed. If I can figure out what those conditions were supposed to be, and we can replicate them... then we might not need a counterspell at all.”

“Let me know what you find out. Meanwhile, let’s do the counterspells for the ones we know how to disenchant.”

They finished getting dressed, and rang the bell. Madam Fparadra came and looked through the grille, verified that none of the women were in the vestibule with them, and let them out.

Two days or nights out of three for the next twelve days, Tyngsen met with Ftymsar to free one or more of the ensorcelled slaves. Then they had to wait until the next full moon to free another, and then till the following full moon to free the other slave ensorcelled under that spell. Then Ftymsar sent to his contacts in Khareush, and they settled in to wait for the hippogriff milk.

Tyngsen had already told Suryndra about what he had planned, and now he warned her that the time was imminent.

“You’re so brave,” she said. “I don’t know if I could risk getting enslaved again, even to free somebody I cared about. Much less getting ensorcelled so I wouldn’t even want to try to escape... If those busybodies who preach against the bosses knew what you were really like, they’d shut their mouths quick.”

Tyngsen shrugged uncomfortably. “I try to do right by my people,” he said. “My uncle did, too, but he didn’t know what it was like being a slave.”

She squeezed his hand, and looked at him with tears in her eyes. “Don’t mess up! I don’t want you as my slave, I want —” She looked away. “I’m afraid it would mess up our friendship, if you got magically enslaved to me.”

“I won’t mess up,” Tyngsen said. “And Ftymsar has good reason to be even more careful than usual. We’ll be fine.”

A week passed. If the airship to Khareush had made the best possible time, and Ftymsar’s contact had been able to get a batch of hippogriff milk on the very next airship back to Kosyndar that same day, and that airship made the best possible time... then the milk could arrive any hour now. Tyngsen kept his radio tuned to the station that monitored air traffic, and whenever an airship from the east was spotted coming in over the coast, his nerves were on edge until he knew whether it was coming from Khareush and headed for Kosyndar. When such a ship was finally spotted, he gave Pengram his instructions, left the office, picked up Suryndra at her apartment, and went to Madam Rispema’s house.

Madam Rispema greeted them at the door. “I just had a call from Ftymsar,” she said; “he’s met with the courier at the aerodrome and is on his way here.”

“Good,” Tyngsen said. “Please send for...” He hesitated a moment before remembering the name of the slave they were to disenchant today. “Kefpidra. And have you got the room ready to Ftymsar’s specifications?”

“Right this way, Boss,” she said.

She showed them two rooms with a connecting door. The larger of the two had bars affixed to its door into the hallway, so there was no way out except through the adjoining room. Suryndra would wait in the outer room while Ftymsar and Tyngsen tried to free Kefpidra from the spell she had been placed under by her former master. If anything went wrong, Suryndra would be the first free person they saw, afterward.

Tyngsen and Suryndra waited tensely in the outer room for a few minutes, until Madam Rispema ushered in Kefpidra. Kefpidra was a tall woman in her mid-thirties, who had been unable to speak until recently, when Tyngsen had countermanded an order given her fifteen years ago by her former master before he died and Madam Rispema bought the girl at the estate sale. She seemed still unused to her voice.

“I’m here, master,” she said.

“Good. I hereby order you to sit down and relax in whichever chair you like best, until Ftymsar gets here.” She sat in the nearest cushioned chair and seemed to go limp, like a marionette whose puppeteer had passed out in a drunken stupor; her head lolled to one side, her mouth gaped, and a few moments later, the crotch of her gown was marked by a spreading stain. Tyngsen cursed his carelessness, the sorcerer who’d placed her under this spell, and the master who’d hired him.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “You needn’t relax quite so much next time I give you an order like that, and you may move to another chair.” Kefpidra stood up and moved to the nearest chair, a wooden one, but didn’t look Tyngsen or Suryndra in the eyes.

They sat in awkward silence for a time. Suryndra whispered to Tyngsen, “You could end up like that, if something goes wrong. Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Ftymsar thinks it’s safe enough, or he wouldn’t do it. Yes, I’m sure.”

They waited another quarter of an hour before Ftymsar arrived with his black bag. “I’ve got it, Boss,” he said breathlessly. “We should go over the ritual one more time before we start, but we can’t take too long — we’ve only got five and a half hours till sunset, and if we don’t start in the next half hour we’ll have to wait until tomorrow. The milk’s already three days from the hippogriff’s teat, and I think it’s safer to try the spell now than to wait until tomorrow when we’ll have one or two more rehearsals under our belt, but milk that’s less fresh.”

“You’re the expert,” Tyngsen said. “We’ve already rehearsed seven times together, and Suryndra has helped me rehearse my part several more times.”

They reviewed the ritual once more, Suryndra listening anxiously, Kefpidra impassively. Then Tyngsen said: “Kefpidra, follow us into that room there. Suryndra — stay here, guard the outer door, and don’t let anyone else in.”

“Be careful,” she said, and hugged him. If Ftymsar was curious about why Tyngsen didn’t kiss her, he didn’t say anything.

Tyngsen followed Ftymsar into the inner room, and Kefpidra followed him; he shut the door behind them and locked it. The door to the hall was barred on the outside, but he thought it prudent to move a chair in front of it as well, while Ftymsar checked to make sure the chalk circles he’d drawn on the floor a few days earlier were still undisturbed.

“We’re ready,” Ftymsar said. “Undress, and tell her to undress, and get into your circles.”

Tyngsen did so, and gave Kefpidra some additional instructions as well.

Soon they were each nude and in the appropriate circle. Ftymsar lit his brazier, put the first of the spell-materials into the cauldron, and spoke the first words of the spell.

Tyngsen listened carefully for his cues, and spoke his parts without, as far as he could tell, any hesitation or mistake. The form of the spell was rigid enough that they could not leave their circles until it was finished, at risk of, in the early stages, wasting the hippogriff’s milk and their time, or, in the later stages, being entangled in the obedience spell along with Kefpidra. But they could shift their position and posture from time to time, and if they needed to, could relieve themselves into the old-fashioned chamberpots Tyngsen had procured for the purpose, which were set within each circle. Tyngsen had drunk two cups of coffee after he heard the news of the airship’s approach on the radio, to make sure he’d be wide awake and alert until the spell was finished, and not long after the first part of the spell he had to speak, he needed the pot. Kefpidra didn’t need hers until several hours had passed, but she did eventually, and Tyngsen was glad he’d given her specific instructions about it; without them, she might have peed on the floor, dissolving the chalk circle and dooming them all.

Tyngsen had thought himself calm enough when they began, but as the ritual proceeded, he grew more nervous. He was a moment late with one of his responses, and worried that he might have already doomed them by that slip. But Ftymsar didn’t seem concerned about it, so he tried to relax and listen for his next cue. He spoke that response on time, and the next one, and the next one... The light was getting dim. Would they be finished by sunset?

They were, just barely. The setting sun was in Tyngsen’s eyes when Ftymsar spoke the final words. Tyngsen felt a little twinge of headache like he’d felt the other times they’d dispelled an obedience spell, and then Ftymsar poured water over the coals and said: “It’s finished. You can relax and get dressed.”

Tyngsen stepped out of the circle and picked up his underwear. He noticed Kefpidra looking around hesitantly. “How do you feel?” he asked her.

“Strange,” she said.

“You can get dressed,” he said. “Or not. I’m not giving you orders either way. You have the next two days off to do whatever you please, as long as you stay in the bordello, and then you’ll go back to work the next day...”

She picked up her clothes and started getting dressed, then stopped. She looked at Tyngsen for a long moment, then put the rest of her clothes on. “I can do what I want...?”

“Yes, and when Madam Rispema or I tell you what to do in the future, you won’t be magically compelled to do it, and you can interpret our orders sensibly, instead of doing exactly what we say when we speak carelessly like I did a few hours ago. I’m sorry about that, by the way.”

“Thank you, Boss,” she said.

“Do you remember what I said a few months ago, to you and the other girls, about how you can earn your way out of slavery?”

She frowned, and said: “Vaguely... I’m not sure. Can you tell me again, please?”

He repeated the conditions of his offer. “So you don’t have to work for the next couple of days, but if you want to do some work — maybe less than a full night’s work, if you like; you can tell some customers no if you don’t want to serve them — you’ll be earning money toward your freedom.”

Ftymsar had his clothes on by now, and he said, “Have you got the key to this door?”

“Yes, it’s here in my trousers pocket.” Tyngsen unlocked the door, and said, suddenly, “Are you sure it worked right? Might it have gotten transferred to you or me instead of dispelling?”

“Pretty sure,” Ftymsar said. “If that had happened, I think we’d be compelled to obey Kefpidra... But we’ll know for sure when we see Suryndra.”

Tyngsen opened the door and stepped out.

Suryndra jumped up from the chair she’d been sitting in and looked apprehensively at him. “Did it work?” she asked.

“I think so,” he said, “at least for Kefpidra. Try ordering me to do something silly.”

“Stand on one leg and sing ‘Down in Huresh the Lilies Grow’.”

“No.” He stuck his tongue out at her and grinned.

“I think this operation is a success, Boss,” Ftymsar said. “Let’s go home and crash.”

Tyngsen took Suryndra home, and spent the night with her.

I'll probably post part five in about a week.

A Notional Treason, a transgender fantasy of manners in the same setting as Wine Can't be Pressed into Grapes and When Wasps Make Honey, is now available from Smashwords in EPUB format and from Amazon in Kindle format.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

"The Manumission Game" is inspired by (though not exactly a sequel to) an old story from the Transformation Stories Archive. I'll identify that story and its author in an afterword after part six is posted, but you're welcome to speculate about it in the comments. It may be obvious to people who remember the story in question by this point.

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