She maintains a steady monologue as we walk, pointing out the CELT living area, the barn, the dining room, the entertainment hall, the guest quarters, the pool... The men around the pool are almost all older, prosperous, and powerful-looking. The women are all young, long-legged, and beautiful. Suddenly, I feel stupid again. This place is little more than a brothel. Being one rich man's CELT is interesting and sophisticated--it even has social standing in some circles--but here, here I am just another...what, corporate escort?
"Who are these women?" I ask.
"They are entertainers," Marina answers, then adds softly, "They are nothing...whores...pigs." I glance over at Tory, cautioning her to say quiet. No sense getting into an argument now. It's obvious that the class structure around here is ironclad; this kind of talk is accepted, perhaps even expected.
"Those are the mountains we hunt in," she points north to the woods. They look quite rugged. The road leading into the valley is now visible. It seems to be lined with...crosses.
"Are those crosses?" I ask, confused.
"Yes. Runners who fail are caught are hung on the crosses. It's a kind of Roman spectacle for the guests. They can walk among them or watch from their balconies as the sun sets," she explains, literally without blinking an eyelash.
"Hung on crosses..." My voice is a little unsteady. "You mean crucified?"
"Yes," she says. "It's the tradition. It's only..." she searches for the right English words, "a play act..."
A play act... "You mean it's simulated?" I ask.
"Yes, simulated. No one is ever really hurt. It's just for show." It's clear that she doesn't want to linger on this subject.
A show like that does sound interesting. I guess if no one really gets hurt, where's the harm? It's a little extreme of course, but today people are more open about the things they found stimulating. A hundred years ago, no one would have dared walk a beautiful girl on a leash. Nowadays, it's common, trendy. Models vie to make the most daring and risqué fashion statements. Still, subtlety is important, but maybe it doesn't matter in a place like this.
Marina turns into the guest quarters. Tory and I follow. It is a large building with a spacious lobby. It feels like an expensive hunting lodge. A service desk stands on one side; a bar-lounge on the other. In the middle is a wooden platform, a stage, raised up about a foot off the ground.
Three naked girls are tied on the platform. For a few seconds, my mind refuses to accept this bizarre image of public bondage and pain.
Marina walks over. "These are lobby decoration--girls who are being punished." The nearest wears six-inch punishment heels which are chained to a floor ring. She's bent over at the waist and her wrists are chained to the same ring. Ropes around her neck and crotch are tied to an overhead beam. They ensure that any rest comes with extreme pain. She stares at us, her muscles trembling.
"What did she do?" Tory asks in shock.
"Let's see." Marina lifts a small white card off the platform and reads, "Flora ...London ...She displeased a guest ...She's to be whipped at 6: 15 ...thirty-five lashes." She returns the card. "You can come back and watch if you want." Out of the corner of my eye I see Tory about to respond. Again, I signal her to stay quiet.
"That's a common offense," Marina says casually. "Girls are tied here in mid-afternoon so that their pain peaks during the cocktail hour, when they get their punishment. This one will be in agony by then; an interesting display for the guests...no?"
I nod. "Yes, interesting." CELTs are punished of course, but usually not in public. It's just considered bad taste.
Marina walks to the next "display." A gorgeous redhead is on a spit just as we had been the day before. Her hamstrings and calf muscles are straining to take the pressure off her ass. Heavy weights and bells have been clipped to her nipples. "This pig will be ringing her bells quite vigorously by the cocktail hour," Marina jokes.
The last girl is squatting on her toes with her outstretched arms belted tightly to a horizontal beam. Her ankles are strapped to her thighs and her knees are pulled to the side and tied to the beam, preventing her from taking weight off her bare feet. A ball gag is strapped deep in her mouth and she is drooling profusely. Her piteous eyes follow me as I walk to her front.
"This one won't last another two hours," I say to Marina.
"Yes," she replies, "she'll need to be repositioned. She's the current..." she thinks about the word, "...centerpiece. "The idea is to always have one pig in extreme pain. This way, whenever guests visit the lobby, something interesting is happening." She takes a bamboo rod from atop the beam and strikes the girl hard on her nipples. Her eyes widened and she wails into the gag. "A guest or one of the guards will animate them every few minutes," she explains. It's more interesting, no?" I watch as the girl tries to absorb the pain. Her eyes roll back and blink rapidly; she's on the verge of passing out. A guard walks over and says something to Marina in Russian. Obviously annoyed, she gives him a sharp reply and then turns her back. The guard is pissed, but he just begins to reposition the nearly unconscious girl. I get the impression that this is standard behavior for the haughty Jäger.
She walks to the back of the lobby. Half-a-dozen naked girls are chained to the wall with their wrists above their heads. She walks over to one and runs a finger between her cunt lips. "Wet," she announces, licking her finger. "She'll go fast." Marina pushes her finger back inside and the girl dances around a little on her toes. Annoyed, she grabs a nipple. The girl gasps, but says nothing. "These are the overnighters for the guests. Any pig not selected by a guest is available for the Jäger after 9: 00 p.m. This one will lick a Jäger's cunt and ass all night to avoid being whipped." The girl puts on a seductive pout and tilts her head. "I like that sometimes," she smiles and twists harder. "It makes for interesting dreams."
Tory and I look at each other.
A man in a golf shirt appears and starts touching the girls' breasts. Marina releases the nipple and steps back respectfully. The man nods and squeezes the girl's breast as if kneading dough. It's disgusting. This is not going to happen to me!
He turns and stands in front of Tory, undressing her with his eyes. I can feel my temper flaring, but just stand by with my head bowed. Marina's smirking.
"I hope you can run very fast," she says to Tory as we walk outside. This is the first time she has spoken to her directly. Tory is confused, but the meaning is crystal clear to me--as an entertainer, Tory will be hard-fucked and disciplined every night. She's simply too beautiful for a place like this. Men will be on her like a pack of wild dogs.
Marina leads us back to the runners' cells. "The hunt is in two days," she says. "Tomorrow, I'll explain the rules and give you some advice. I assume you want to be Jäger." She is looking only at me. Apparently, Tory has already been written off. I give an indefinite nod and she walks away.
"Charming," Tory whispers over my shoulder. I look back and smile. The image of the girl suffering on the bar comes into my mind. "We need a life raft, Tory, and the Jäger is the only one around," I say softly, watching Marina swagger away. "No sense crying over the stupidity that got us here; we need to survive."
Tory wraps her arms around my back, cupping my breasts. "Let's go to bed, Lover," she says, sticking her tongue into my ear. I don't argue.
The black sky turns orange as we wait for the sun. We are naked; that's the tradition here, girls run naked in the hunt. I'm used to it, but I wonder how well our soft skin will fare in the forest. Some of the runners start to stretch. I elbow Tory and we followed suit. The girl is athletic and physically strong, but does she have the stamina? We'll soon find out.
A few guests watch from their balconies, drinking coffee and smoking. I assume they all have companions in their rooms, but only two or three women are visible at this ungodly hour. They are probably curious Russian whores. It seems incredible to me with all the CELT beauties around that a man would bring his personal whore or mistress to this place, but there is no telling for taste.
Nemov walks into the middle of the runners and holds up his hand. "When the sun hits the valley floor, you may start running. The rules are simple: you will have a one hour head start; you must evade capture until Noon; there will be no violence. I should also warn the new girls that the Jäger use dogs, so hiding under a rock probably won't do you much good." He pauses as if waiting for a laugh.
"Anyone who evades capture twice will be invited to join the Jäger." He points to a very tough looking group of maybe ten girls, including Marina, who stand nearby. Each is dressed in the standard leathers and boots with a long whip tied at the waist. "Runners who are captured are punished symbolically in the afternoon." He pauses and looks at us hard.
"Is there any runner who would like to withdraw?" I have the impression that this is a pro forma question being asked on-advice-of-counsel and that anyone taking the offer will be very sorry.
"Excellent," he declares after a moment of silence. As if on cue, the first ray of sunlight peaks over the mountain. "Let the race begin!"
The other runners bolt down the road. I grab Tory's arm; I want to see where they're headed. "Your only chance is to cross the valley and make it to the tree line on the other side." It's Nemov. "If you get there, you'll need a plan of some kind. Perhaps you should use your time crossing the valley to think of one." It's clear from his mocking tone that he doesn't think we have any chance.
"May I ask a question Mr. Nemov?" I ask politely.
"Certainly Jesse, that's what I'm here for," He replies.
"When are the Jäger released?"
"Good question." He looks at me with slightly more respect. "As I said, the guests will give chase first in one hour. They are mounted on horseback and accompanied by the dogs. One hour after that the guests are asked to pull back to the tree line and the Jäger are released. The Jäger take control of the dogs."
"Thank you." I turn to Tory, "Let's go." We set off at a good pace. The other girls have maybe half a mile on us, but we manage to close by the time they reach the tree line. As I guessed, Tory is in superb shape and runs as if she is training for a marathon.
"Do you trust me, Tory?" I ask when we reach the trees. She smiles and nods. "Okay, then listen. Let's circle the mountain at the timberline until we find a stream then you go upstream. I'll cross the stream and run farther on in the same line. At the right time, I'll double back and hide with you upstream."
She looks at me for a few seconds. "That's a good plan Jess, except I think I can run farther than you for half-an-hour."
I looked at her surprised. She's right of course; she understands that once we find the stream the critical element is distance. Too short a run and they will be on us right away; too long, and they will intercept the runner as she doubles back. Neither the guests nor the Jäger are stupid, they will realize that they have been fooled as soon as the trail stops. "OK, I agree," I kiss her fast and hard on the mouth then start racing through the woods. She follows.
We discover the first stream within a mile, but it's no good. "Too shallow..." She nods and we continue on to the next. "This is okay," I say, I'm tiring and breathing hard; Tory looks fresh, as if she just came out of the shower. She nods, kisses me again, and runs into the forest like a deer. I'm beginning to enjoy these kisses and for a fleeting second think about Lesbian lovers. I'd miss cock of course...
I smile again. No time for this now. I start moving upstream, looking for someplace to hide two bodies. The mounted guests and their dogs will be here soon; we need to hide. I pray that Tory doesn't cut it too close.
About two kilometers upstream, I find an ideal overhang. It will hide us from all but a determined foot search down the middle of the stream. I don't think the quests are going to go to that much trouble, but I'm not so sure about the Jäger. It doesn't matter though, we're out of time.
I tuck myself inside the hole and wait. In a few minutes, I hear a gentle splash and see Tory moving carefully upstream. I call out softly and she wiggles inside the hole, nestling her nude body into my outstretched arms. Despite the dampness and the desperate situation, we laugh like two Catholic schoolgirls hiding from Sister Perpetua.
In a while, we hear horse hooves; we hold our breath, but don't see anything. In the distance, I hear dogs braying; another girl captured. I'm sorry for them, but happy that we are safe. It's a game...I've nearly forgotten the crosses.
In a few minutes, I see someone walking up the middle of the stream. I pull Tory inside and wiggle farther into the mud. It's one of the Jäger. She passes by without noticing. I can feel bugs crawling on my back and into my hair.
"Let's take a look," I whisper when I'm sure the Jäger is out of sight. We step out into the sunlight and look around...no one in sight. Quietly, we clean ourselves in the stream. I keep looking upstream in case the Jäger decides to retrace her steps. Why would she do that? She's already searched this ground.
Suddenly, something bites me on the leg and I fall head first into the stream. I can't...move my legs. What's wrong? The panic is instantaneous and overwhelming! I desperately need to breathe, but can't get to the air. I take water into my lungs. The next moment, I'm lying on the grass, coughing. I still can't move my legs, but now my arms are also paralyzed.
Slowly, I realize that hands are chained and that my legs are encircled by some kind of whip. I turn my head painfully. Tory is lying next to me. Marina and another Jäger are standing by the stream talking. Another girl walks out of the stream, looks over at us and smiles.
How stupid of me; one girl walks the stream to draw out dumb rabbits, trailed by two others walking along the banks. I feel like an idiot.
The two Jäger walk over and release our legs, tying their whips to their waists. One cuts a branch and uses it as a switch to move us downhill. I look over at Tory; she has the frightened look of a deer caught in the headlights. When we get to the road that circles the mountain, they make us sit and wait. Soon a wagon pulled by two horses appears and we're ordered to stand. The wagon has no sides, just an overhead center beam supported by wooden tripods at each end. As it gets closer, I spot two bare chested men sitting in the front. Half a dozen runners are standing, chained to the overhead beam. I looked at Tory and smile encouragement that I don't feel. She smiles back, but it's clear that she's frightened to death.
The men jump down and lift us into the wagon, chaining our arms over the rail. There's no unnecessary groping--a bad sign; they're all business. My nipples push into Tory's back as we are moved forward on the beam. The wagon makes several more stops. I notice two runners emerging from the trees as we pass. It's clear that once the wagon had passed, the road is safe ground for those who have evaded capture. Several Jäger nod in their direction; I am incredibly jealous.
After a few minutes, we come to the first cross. The men climb down. Lunch! We stand chained and naked in the sun. Tory's hair is in my face and her hard round ass is pressed against my crotch. "Don't be afraid," I whisper. "This is a show for the guests. We'll beat them next time, Tory." Her head nods and she pushes her butt back; I respond by rubbing my breasts over her back. The distraction takes our minds off the cross looming over us at the side of the wagon.
When lunch is over, the men lie back in the grass and wait. In a while, a bell rings three times. Several guests stand nearby. It's time.
One of the men extracts large leather cuffs from a bag and straps them on the first girl's forearms and ankles. They're designed to spread her hanging weight over a larger area. She begs piteously as they take her off the beam and walk her to the cross. It's useless of course, but appropriate.
I can see everything now. She pleads with the men as they stretch her arms, attaching each wrist to the short chain hanging from the end of the horizontal beam. Then, one at a time, they lift her ankles off the wagon floor and attach them to chains near her knees. She is suspended now by her arms and legs. She can't pull herself up by her arms as they are too stretched out too far, but she can use her legs to take the weight off her arms. This doesn't seem too bad. One of the men pulls a braided whip out of the bag and positions himself in front of her. She moans and shakes her head; he gives her 20 strokes. She's screaming hysterically by the time he's done. The girls on the beam are crying and jerking their chains in fright.
Bitterly, I remember Marina's words, "It's just for show." This is no show, and her ordeal is just beginning! The pain will be unbearable when her legs tire. I can feel Tory shaking; in fact, the entire beam seems to be vibrating with fear.
The wagon moves off to the next cross.
By the time it's Tory's turn, the wagon smells of girl piss and vomit. Several are crying and pulling hopelessly on their chains. I stand quietly and whisper in Tory's ear, trying to keep her calm. I can't remember anything I say and I'm sure she's not listening. It's just the sound of my voice. She goes up without a sound and only screams when her whipping starts. I am incredibly proud, but my heart breaks watching her body writhe under the lash. I glance down at the crowd. Several men stare at her longingly. You sick fucking bastards! I want to scream at them, but again the evil thought crosses my mind that she does look incredibly beautiful.
I also go on my cross without a sound and even manage to withstand ten of my twenty strokes before screaming. I can see one of the Russian whores looking at me with a smile and licking her lips. I know she's getting off on this. I watch the wagon and most of the crowd move off to the next cross. The whore stands at my feet alone. Her head is level with my crotch. She waits until my pain subsides and then speaks.
"It's about two hours until the sun sets," she says. "By that time you'll be really hurting. I watched this last week; once the legs go your chest will feel as if it's being crushed and every breath will be excruciating. It wouldn't be so bad if they just let you go numb, but they come back two more times with the whip."
I looked down at her, but say nothing.
"If no one is looking, I can let you rest your feet on my shoulders. Do you want that?" I continue to stare down at her, but don't say anything." She laughs. "Maybe in a couple of hours, you'll be friendlier." She walks off in the direction of the wagon.
The sun is still high in the Western sky when my leg muscles begin to burn. I looked over at Tory's cross, but can't see much. At some point, the wagon passes in front of me, returning to the first cross. I can hear the screams as each girl is whipped. It's true; they are being revived with pain. When my turn comes, I smile at my torturer and he smiles back. But the whip strikes my body with horrifying intensity. My screams are as loud as anyone's.
After a long while, the wagon passes me again. The Russian girl walks behind and stops at my feet. "It takes a while for the wagon to make this last circuit," she explains. "After their final whipping, each girl is taken down and secured. That takes time."