When they made their first move the next morning, and Robert saw the stone circle that meant they would have to take a penalty before the game had even really begun, he remembered Pet’s fear about her governor. His gratitude to Pet, for telling him of that worry in the dark, took away his breath for a moment.
He felt certain that they could not win, now—probably they could not place even in the upper three, and gain at least an honor point in the multiyear standings that would determine whether he received another invitation. In all likelihood Robert’s dreams of glory in the Ludian game, the real game, had just come to an end. But knowing that his wife, his wonderful piece, had confided in him her anxiety and had helped him understand her needs, let him look at the stone circle and the fucking block that had risen from it not as the grave of his hopes but as a place of opportunity.
Pet stood at the edge of the circle, now, looking back at him, hesitating to bend over the block as she knew the game rules demanded. Robert had to decide in an instant whether to use force on his naked wife: he could after all simply manhandle her over the fucking block, cuff her wrists, and take her as prescribed by the rules of the game.
Every fiber of his being refused that path, though, no matter how many other players—even Prosperian players—would have taken it to avoid the second penalty. Once the fucking block had risen a timer started: if the piece had not been bound to it within five minutes the second penalty began, and the player had another two minutes to get the girl restrained, at which point he must deliver at least six strokes of the cane and then fuck her.
The penalties had constituted an important part of Discipline from the time of the Roman legions. They provided an element of randomness, since players—even, in the midgame, multiple players at once—could move into penalty squares or hexes entirely by accident. They tested the officer’s, and then later the player’s, mettle and his ability to deal with adversity. Most important, in the full game, they tested his ability to discipline his piece, a dimension of the game difficult to capture in piece-less versions of the rules.
The Prosperian piece-less rules prescribed a physical challenge as a penalty, usually calisthenics like push-ups or bicep curls. The gamemaster judged a man’s performance, and gave the second penalty for failure to do the exercise quickly enough, or with proper form—the second penalty consisting of another exercise. Robert had Discipline to thank for his excellent physical condition as well—he felt certain—as for the voracious sexual drive that let him fuck his lovely bride three times a day.
In both the full game and its piece-less versions, the real penalty didn’t have to do with the fucking of the piece—or her whipping and fucking—but with the loss of opportunity. A penalty hex gave the player no gold. No gold meant no ability to fortify or upgrade. While every other player—unless they, too, had entered a penalty hex on their first turn—now had at least a few denarii (the ancient Roman coin that still served as the currency of Discipline), Robert had none.
The only silver lining to that dark cloud was that if he had had gold, he would have lost some of it on entering the penalty hex: having none, he couldn’t lose it, and now at least they knew where the penalty near them was located. Each player’s home hex had a penalty within two hexes. Robert had the very slight advantage of knowing the precise location of his, to set against the much greater disadvantage of losing both the gold and the chance to use it, as his competitors were probably doing right now.
All those concerns occupied his mind alongside the immediate need to master his piece, the element of the full game that made it so fascinating to its devotees. Robert could perhaps gain something important from his handling of Pet, now, and win another small advantage out of the disastrous first move: the gamemasters, along with millions of other people throughout the galaxy, would probably be focused intently on the scene in this penalty hex. If he mastered his wife compellingly, the gamemasters might remember Robert and Pet’s performance when the time came for a contest with another player.
“Do you remember last night, darling?” he said, leaning forward to murmur the words into her ear. Though the gamemasters could easily have ordained that players and pieces have microphonic implants so that not even the softest whisper could escape trans-galactic broadcast, communications between player and piece had been regarded as sacred from the game’s earliest days: only Pet could hear Robert now. He put his hand on her bottom, and she trembled like a tiny animal a man might find orphaned in the woods and bring home as his, well, as his pet.
His own Pet nodded, turning her face over her naked shoulder to give him an anxious look. She knew, though at a novice’s level, what the penalty space meant. She had at last, that morning, read the book all the way through as they had waited in their quarters for the summons to the elevator.
Still naked from their lovemaking, she had shivered when Robert, seated, had stood her in front of him, holding the collar and leash in his hands. He had brushed the leash teasingly against her sweet cunt, where she had taken him so deep and so greedily as she rode to orgasm after orgasm the night before, looking up into her eyes. Pet had made a little sound in her chest, but she had not protested. He had fastened her leather collar around her neck, attached her leash, as required for the opening ceremony, and led her down the corridor to meet the other five players.
“You will be magnificent,” Robert had heard Reggie Harkins whisper to Pet as a Magisterian lord and a Prosperian official together pressed the button that opened the elevator doors.
Then Reggie had hugged Pet. The sight of two lovely naked girls, each on a leather leash held by her husband, embracing, had made Robert’s prick grow hard, but he had focused on maintaining the same kind of game face Tom Harkins had, and the other four players seemed also to wear.
Two Magisterians, a Maran, and a Draconian, they had stood with stony faces, their pieces in front of them, the girls’ hands at their sides so that everyone could see how their masters preferred their cunts to look. Maran girls were never allowed to grow their pubic hair, so the barbarian’s olive-skinned piece was smooth like Pet between her legs, but the other pieces sported interesting trims, with the blonde Draconian girl’s shaved above her bare cleft into what looked to Robert like it might be the shape of a dragon’s head.
After the ceremony each player and piece had boarded their own separate elevator cab. The cabs had made their way, then, with blacked out windows, down to the ring of Ludia and then to the players’ home hexes, as assigned by the gamemasters. Players were placed according to specific rules governing how near to or far from the edge of the game board they might be, and how near to or far from their competitors, but always in a configuration unknown to the players themselves.
Now at the edge of the stone circle, in the penalty hex, Robert saw Pet’s forehead move in a way he thought he knew, and he turned his head so that she could whisper into his ear. He caught a glimpse of his handheld, affixed now to the inside of his forearm: it had just begun to flash red, meaning that he had less than a minute to start fucking Pet, or he would have to pick up the cane and thrash her. Much worse, the second penalty would mean the loss of a turn, at which point they would be lucky not to finish last of the six teams, probably eliminated only a turn or two after that.
“Make me,” his beautiful, naked, collared-and-leashed, demure, wonderful bride breathed, so softly he could scarcely hear her words. “Please, sir. Make me.”
Robert felt her body tense and he understood: she wanted to tell him not just in these urgent words but with her physical resistance that she had understood something important, something new about her own needs. Perhaps he had helped by reminding her of their conversation and of their wild lovemaking on the station, or perhaps having her governor turned up all the way for the past fourteen hours or so, while leashed and collared by her lord and master, had accomplished this result on its own.
He didn’t hesitate, then: he took Pet by the shoulder and overcame her rebellion. He raised the leash enough to tug at her collar, and he marched her toward the fucking block.
“On your knees, girl,” he growled, and he enforced the words with his hands, roughly making her kneel on the padded and leather-covered support. He pulled firmly but not violently on the leash, hoping that he could find a balance between the deliberateness of his mastering his piece and the need for haste, and Pet responded, crying out as she let herself be toppled over the end of the block that faced the little pond.
His handheld read fifteen seconds, now. In the back of his mind Robert knew he had the chance to do something extraordinary—something he could never have done in the piece-less game. He remembered a game at his club on Prosperia where, as he and Pet had just done, he had stumbled into a penalty on his first turn. He had done his push-ups well and quickly, but he had known the game was lost—just as he had thought he knew, when he had seen the stone circle here on Ludia. In the piece-less game, no calisthenic challenge could win the gamemaster’s favor the way mastering a beautiful, naked, submissive woman could.
With one hand on Pet’s back, holding her down as she struggled atop the block, he took his place behind her and parted his robe with his other hand. At the same moment, then, he thrust his iron-hard prick into his wife’s wet, needy cunt and shifted his hands to take hold of her wrists and hold them against the sides of the block. The rules stated only that the piece must be restrained—not that her wrists need be in the cuffs. Standing astride her pert backside, his knees to either side of her thighs, Robert shrugged his player’s robe from his shoulders to fall behind him and began to master his piece in earnest, fucking Pet as hard as he had ever fucked her, as the wooden block creaked under them.
He didn’t know whether his style had indeed won him any favor with the gamemasters, but now, with his wife responding to his thrusting cock even more urgently than she had the previous night on the station, with her crying out her need and climaxing under his pounding hips over and over, Robert didn’t care in the slightest. Since he had become fascinated with the game in college he had dreamt of a moment like this one.
He had thought that dream dashed on the very first move of this game, for despite all the honor of the invitation to play on Ludia, and all the pleasures that had already come with representing Prosperia and his corporation, a disaster on the board would mean bitter disappointment. Even with the penalty, though—even if their bad luck continued and they were eliminated two moves from now, which represented the earliest turn a player could exit the game—this moment in the stone circle would remain with him.
“Sir… oh, God… I… I…” Pet’s moans became more and more indistinct, the longer Robert thrust into her. “Please… I can’t… sir…”
He held her wrists firmly and he thrust hard, obeying the rule for the stone circle: the greatest possible force. The seed seemed to boil in his balls, and he grunted with each thrust, using his piece’s cunt to seek an orgasm of his own. It came, at last, like an avalanche from the Prosperian Alps, and he held himself in deep, his lap firm against Pet’s little bottom, as he spurted inside her womb.
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