The Manumission Game, part 6 of 6

“I come to play,” he said, holding up the cards and fanning the deck to show the faces. “Do you care for Six-Card Pitch?”

Their faces were suddenly avid. “Nay, Six-Card Pitch is a game for fools. Let’s play a round of Tentstakes,” said the dark-skinned tall woman.

“And the stakes shall be...” the most buxom of the shorter women said, frowning as if she were trying to remember something.

“Ourselves!” another cried.


The Manumission Game

Part 6 of 6

by Trismegistus Shandy


After playing several more games of Six-Card Pitch, Tentstakes and Spiral Wheel with Skopansen, and one more strategy meeting with Ftymsar, Tyngsen thought he was ready to meet the five women again.

“I can’t put the impotence curse on you this time,” Ftymsar said. “If you win, you’ll need to be able to get it up, and you’ll need to bed all five of them before dawn to free them. You’ll just have to go in waving the deck of cards and hope that distracts them from their obsession. If Skopansen’s right about the kind of game they were playing, and I’m right about the way that spell works, then seeing the cards should distract them at least temporarily, long enough for you to shuffle and deal and so forth. Then... well, if Skopansen’s wrong, I guess you’ll have too much fun to blame him much, right Boss?”

“I guess so.” Tyngsen forced a smile.

He arrived at Madam Fparadra’s house early in the evening, having telephoned her just after noon. She locked him into the vestibule, and he set down the valise with his extra change of clothes. If the cards worked, the women wouldn’t tear off his clothes as soon as he entered... and he’d worn an old suit he didn’t mind replacing if he was wrong. Holding only his eighteen-hundred-mark deck of antique cards, he pushed open the inner door.

The women got up and approached him.

“Behold, it’s the false man!” the smallest of them said. “Wherefore comest thou again, maid?”

“I come to play,” he said, holding up the cards and fanning the deck to show the faces. “Do you care for Six-Card Pitch?”

Their faces were suddenly avid. “Nay, Six-Card Pitch is a game for fools. Let’s play a round of Tentstakes,” said the dark-skinned tall woman.

“And the stakes shall be...” the most buxom of the shorter women said, frowning as if she were trying to remember something.

“Ourselves!” another cried. “Whoever winneth the last hand, that one shall be master of all the rest, from now till the morrow’s dawn!”

“I’m game,” Tyngsen said. He went to the table in the corner and started shuffling the deck. The women pushed several of the less unwieldy chairs closer around the table, and sat down, looking just as eager as they’d been when they thought Ftymsar and Tyngsen could satisfy them.

He dealt four cards to each of them, then set the deck aside and looked at his cards. The Four of Bones, the Five of Shoes, the Seven and Ten of Moons. As he was considering what to do with them, the woman to his left discarded the Two of Trumpets and drew two more cards. The next player drew one more without discarding anything, as did the next. Then the short, pale woman discarded the Six of Tents and one face-down card, and drew three more. The tall, dark-skinned woman on Tyngsen’s right smiled toothily and threw down the Highwayman. “Proffer me your hands, all of you,” she commanded, and they did, some looking apprehensive and some resigned. She pulled one card from each of their hands, including Tyngsen’s Five of Shoes. After considering them for a few moments, she discarded all but five of the cards in her hand, face down.

Then Tyngsen’s turn came. Without the Five of Shoes, he no longer had a chance of an assorted straight; the best he could do on drawing two cards was two pairs or a triplet, and he couldn’t see how to make his odds worse by discarding something first. He drew two: the Ace of Shoes and the Ten of Bones. A single pair, then, and almost no chance of winning this round — he might even be eliminated.

They went round one more time, all but the player who’d used the Highwayman drawing one more card to make up their losses. Then they all showed their hands.

Tyngsen’s hand wasn’t quite the worst: one other had a single pair, the Sevens of Trumpets and Shoes, and one had assorted trash. She sighed and stood up, stretching in a way that a whole man would have found distracting. “Fie! One of you shall be my master, alas.” She leaned down to the small pale woman and whispered to her, just loud enough for Tyngsen to hear, “I hope thou mayst win.”

The tall dark woman who’d played the Highwayman won that round, naturally enough, with an assorted straight. The player to Tyngsen’s left shuffled and dealt, and the game went on.

In the second round two Powers were played, the Crocodile (which let the small pale woman force the player to her right to take her hand as it was, with no chance to discard something before drawing her last card) and the Sorcerer (which let the buxom woman with red hair draw four more cards before discarding down to five). Tyngsen had nothing dangerously valuable to begin with, and discarded nothing; he drew one more, and achieved another pair, the Eights of Moons and Tents. When the cards were shown, his was still not the worst hand of the round; two others had single pairs, one of them the Threes of Trumpets and Shoes. She pouted and flounced over to one of the beds, saying, “My master shall find me a saucy servant enough, I dare say.” Tyngsen was sure he would, whoever he was.

No Powers turned up in the third round, and Tyngsen, after discarding the Nine of Trumpets to avoid the chance of a straight (he’d started with the Seven of Shoes, the Eight of Shoes, the Nine of Trumpets and the Ten of Tents), managed to draw the Tens of Bones and Moons for a triple. But though this beat one player’s single pair and another’s lower-value triple, it wasn’t the best of that round; the small pale woman had two pairs, including the Archons of Moons and Tents.

In the fourth hand, with three players left, Tyngsen finally managed to achieve a hand of assorted trash. He sighed in relief; there was now no chance he’d be required to do something impossible. He’d had men between his legs before, and hadn’t liked it, but he could endure it one more time, he thought...

When they showed their hands, though, he felt something strange, a warm rush of blood to his crotch and breasts, and a topsy-turvy feeling in his belly. He touched his shirt (he was the only player wearing anything) and found it uncomfortably tight, though Gurefkam’s illusion spell was still holding up, and the shirt still looked like a perfect fit.

“I shall be thy master!” the small pale woman said to him in triumph, and her lone remaining competitor, the woman with red hair, said: “Nay, I’ll be her master and thine! Shuffle and deal, wench!”

“Play fast,” Tyngsen said. “I feel funny. Why is my shirt so tight?”

“Why dost thou wear it?” asked the buxom woman with red hair.

“I don’t know,” Tyngsen said. He took it off, and then his shoes and the rest of his clothes. The two remaining players were discarding and drawing, but he didn’t take much notice of them until they showed their hands, and suddenly the small pale woman stood up and started to grow taller, and slightly darker of skin, and... that’s odd. Her breasts were shrinking and something odd was growing in her crotch... Tyngsen looked down at his own crotch and laughed.

“I’ve won!” the man cried. “I’m the master of all you wenches, and you’ll know and confess it many a time before dawn!” Then he looked around and paused in confusion. “Marry, this is not the room wherein our game began... And who mayst thou be?” he said to Tyngsen. “I know thee not.”

“I’m...” Suddenly the name “Tyngsen” felt wrong. “I’m Pindra,” Tyngsen said. She looked down at herself. “I know I look like a man, but I’m not. Feel this,” and she hugged him from the side, so her breasts spread out on either side of his left arm. A couple of the other women were eagerly approaching him too; the redhead hung on his right arm, and the tall dark-skinned woman put her arms around his neck from behind. The others hung back coyly, beckoning him to one bed or another.

“Thou’rt a woman, then?” he said, hesitantly. “Yet still hast the aspect of a man...” He ran a hand down her side to her hip, then cautiously explored her crotch. She shivered at his touch. Didn’t she used to be numb down there?

“Welladay, it mattereth not — 'tis some unknown aspect of the spell. I see four women, and I feel a fifth under my arm, and there are beds enow... Yet stay, there were five of us. Whence cometh the sixth?”

“I joined your game late,” Pindra said. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“I shall seek an explanation for this anon,” the man said. “But first, to bed!”


Tyngsen woke feeling very strange. When he first sat up, he thought the strange feeling was thoroughly enough accounted for by being sandwiched in between two other men, naked and sound asleep, to judge by their snores. But when he crawled out of bed at the foot, trying not to disturb his companions, he felt something odd at his crotch, and the absence of something on his chest. He stood up and touched his chest — as flat and hairy as it had falsely appeared to be these last nineteen years. And his crotch... there was something, a couple of somethings, he hadn’t had since he was eight years old.

“'Tis almost strange to be a man again, is it not?” said a deep voice from somewhere to his left. He turned, and saw a slender man wearing Tyngsen’s discarded clothes from the night before, except for the shoes, which didn’t seem to fit him. “I scarcely remember the time I passed as a woman, or how long a time it was. Yet meseemeth it was many a year, and it must certes have been more than the one night I bargained for. Thou wast not with us when our game began, nor were we in this room.”

“I can explain about that,” Tyngsen said, and glanced at the bed with its four sleeping occupants. “But maybe I’ll wait till they wake up, and tell you all at once.” He remembered his change of clothes in the vestibule, and went to the puzzle-door to open it.

The man followed him. “Ah, I see,” he said as Tyngsen unlocked the door. “'Tis simple enow... yet meseemeth that when I wore a woman’s shape, it was woefully perplexing.”

“I don’t know why your spell made you stupid as well as female,” Tyngsen said sharply. “I know plenty of women smart enough to figure out this puzzle.” He opened his valise and started getting dressed. “I’ll go downstairs directly, and see if Madam Fparadra can scrounge up some men’s clothes her customers have left behind, for the other guys.” He was still trying to wrap his mind around the enormous fact of his regained manhood, and he didn’t want to have to deal with the disenchanted sorcerer just now. He rang the bell to call for Madam Fparadra.

The sorcerer was trying the door. “Locked,” he muttered. “Wherefore are we locked in?”

“Probably because if you hadn’t been locked in, you would have been wandering all over town jumping the bones of every man between fifteen and fifty,” Tyngsen said. “You were women for a long time, three hundred years or more. For at least the last forty-five years and probably far longer, you’ve been living in a bordello in Kosyndar.”

“Nay...” the man said, looking dazed. “It seemeth but a night past, when we devised our wager-spell and sat down to play, in Yurim’s cabinet in Sderamyn.”

“The sorcerer who figured out the spell you’d used and told me how to break it said you messed up somehow. I guess you shuffled two decks together, to make things more unpredictable, but you forgot that would make an exact tie possible, and you probably forgot to take ties into account when you cast the spell. So with no winner, all of you got turned into insatiable women, instead of just four of you, and none of you could change back until I brought in a deck of cards and got you to pick up the game where you left off, centuries ago.”

“Thou... thou hast freed us, then. Thou sharedst our fate, and let the spell turn you into a woman and let... ach, it was Torsalem who won and fucked us all! Why didst thou go to such lengths to free us?”

Tyngsen stared at him, wondering where Madam Fparadra was. In bed, of course, at this hour. Would one of the servants answer the bell, or would he be locked in with five sorcerers until past noon?

“I just don’t like slavery,” he said curtly.


It was more than an hour before anyone woke to answer the bell. In that time, the other four men awoke, embarrassed and relieved, and heard Tyngsen’s story and told their own. Tyngsen’s disgust with them only increased when he learned that they hadn’t been fools enough to mix two decks and make one where ties were possible; instead, two of them had been scoundrels enough to cheat in the last round, using sorcery to transform their worthless pairs and trash into Archons' pavilions.

Madam Fparadra, when she finally woke, was none too pleased to find all five of her most lucrative women turned into hairy, indocile men; but she kept her mouth shut in front of the Boss, and if she complained in private to her friends, later, Tyngsen didn’t blame her. Tyngsen felt some responsibility for the five displaced sorcerers, though he didn’t like any of them, especially not the man who had exultantly taken advantage of her dim wits and insatiable appetite last night. He packed them into his car (which astonished and frightened them in equal measure) and drove them to a hotel, where he bought them all breakfast and paid in advance for a couple of nights in two adjoining rooms. He telephoned Ftymsar, gave him the address of the hotel and the sorcerers' room numbers, and told him to come over and start getting them oriented to modern life.

“They owe me big for your fees on the diagnostic spells, and the cost of five slave girls, and the guy who won owes me one night’s pay,” he said. “And by the time they’re in a position to start earning money by sorcery, they’ll owe me for however many nights in the hotel. Figure out how powerful they really are, and whether I can collect on the debt if they don’t feel like paying it, or if it’s safer to just let them go.”

Then he drove to Suryndra’s apartment. He wasn’t sure what she would think of the new him. He wasn’t sure what he thought of the new him. The scantily-dressed girls he’d seen that morning at Madam Fparadra’s had affected him strangely; he’d felt his penis stiffening, the way his customers' penises had done when he was in Madam Esgara’s house, and shuddered in horror. He wasn’t going to be like those men! He’d have it cut off again if he had to...

He knocked hesitantly at Suryndra’s door. She answered a minute later, and seemed to pick up on his mood at once. “You look pale,” she said. “Did you...?” He nodded.

“I played cards with them last night, and I lost, of course,” he said. “Though it took until the third round.” He told her what had happened after he was eliminated, and then what happened when the small pale woman, whose name turned out to be Torsalem, won; and what happened the next morning.

“Oh!” she said, and to his surprise she wasn’t horrified, but delighted. “I knew there was something different about you...” She hugged him, as she’d done thousands of times; this time he didn’t feel their breasts squeezing together, but hers against his unyielding chest. His breath caught in his throat.

“You’re all there,” she whispered, touching his crotch gently through his pants. “And everything seems to work right,” she said with a giggle as his manhood — how strange to think of it! — responded.

“You’re not upset, are you?” he asked anxiously. “We can still be friends, even if I’m not... like I was when we met?”

“Oh, I think we can be,” she said. “Let’s find out.”



Afterword

This is one of several stories I’ve written involving slavery. I’ve been bothered by the way some transformation stories on the net tend to fetishize slavery, and I tried to subvert that trope here, as well as in “Quarantine Cove” and in my novels Wine Can’t be Pressed Into Grapes and When Wasps Make Honey, showing characters who escape from slavery, or rescue others from slavery. In this particular story I’m not sure I’ve done such a great job of subverting the trope; the reader will have to judge.

This story was inspired by “Cards” by Owl, which I read many years ago on the Transformation Stories Archive. The horrific situation haunted me until I came up with a sequel in my head, that gave the unfortunate characters in “Cards” a reasonably happy ending. It was years later that I decided to actually write this story, not as a direct sequel, but more loosely based on the situation in “Cards,” without being about the same characters or in the same world.


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.



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