|"Life is never so bad it can't get worse."|
What was our purpose here? What would we do now? Would we head off to Chirosovo? After this experience, I felt like simply returning to Deva and packing it in. It just wasn't worth it; we didn't have any coherent sense of where we were going, what we were supposed to do when we got there, and how it would matter at all. We needed a better direction, but I don't know where we would get that.
After almost half an hour, my thought processes were interrupted by a loud scream from the upstairs of a nearby building. The voice was a familiar one.
Good, I thought. Perhaps now Aahz would come back. I allowed myself to believe this until about ten minutes later, when the Penbrius-induced scream repeated. I began to think of the ways in which Pervects are different than Klahds, and indeed when the scream emanated for the third time, even louder, I lost all confidence in Aahz appearing soon.
As I stated earlier, I really just stayed put, thinking that if I went anywhere it would just be looking for trouble. Well, it didn't really matter, because trouble found me anyway.
"That's him," a familiar looking woman said. "He refused me."
I now recognized her as the one who had squeezed my butt in the cantina. I began to run. I didn't get far.
I had only gotten about twenty feet when a forceful hand grabbed my left shoulder and pulled me back, knocking me off balance and to the ground. I looked up and saw a woman who would have resembled Massha, if you had turned Massha's fat into muscle. She took her hand, and threw some powder on me. She said, "Billings Cardozo," and everything turned black.
I awoke to discover that I was hanging off of some sort of ropes. The ropes were tied to my shoulders, and held me on a wall about four feet off the ground. What was perhaps more perplexing, or bothersome, was that I was completely naked. Even more disconcerting was the fact that this seemed to be some sort of town square.
The ropes bound me tight; there was no way I could free myself. I sensed an additional pressure holding me there, leading to believe that I was also held by some sort of magik.
I smiled weakly as people walked by. The men who walked by me just seemed to avert their gaze and shake their heads, perhaps in disgust, but in what I hoped was some sort of sympathy. The women were far meaner, however. Some threw dirt at me. Some pointed at me and started to laugh hysterically. Still others came up and made what I assumed were sexual gestures to me.
Finally Aahz showed up.
"Aahz!" I yelled. He saw me, but quickly averted his gaze and moved closer to me.
"Aahz, what in Deva is going on here?"
"Keep your voice down," Aahz said. "It's against tradition for a kaijin to be speaking loudly, and the only way I can talk to you is with my back turned."
"Aahz, where am I?" I demanded. "What's a kaijin? What can I do."
"Listen, kid," he said, "you're in pretty serious trouble. I told you it was bad form to deny a woman what she thought was rightfully hers. For all intents and purposes, you were rightfully hers."
"What?" I screamed.
"Kid, keep your voice down. Listen, kid, Rio Paulo is one hell of a fun place to come, so long as you're not a weeny prissy pants. But you have to go along with it. If you don't want to, you don't come here."
"But I didn't have any choice in the matter."
"Kid, if I searched really hard, I think I might be able to find one being on this dimension who cared. Right now, you're a kaijin, which is just the formal term for a weeny prissy pants. The woman you denied has the right to leave you up here until she feels you've overcome your inhibitions."
"Can't you get me out of here?"
"Listen, kid, I'm barely allowed to talk to you. If I try to release you, we both will get thrown in jail. And if you think your current situation is bad, it's only because you haven't seen a Rio Paulo jail. Even Pervects are frightened at the
prospect." "So what do I do?"
"Well, every day at around high noon, the original woman you spurned is going to perform a traditional Rio Paulo ritual in front of you. She's going to basically try to get you aroused, and also less inhibited about what she's doing. Here's my advice to you, kid: don't look away from her at any time. I don't care how much your sensibilities are threatened. You won't be set free until you actively watch her perform the entire ritual."
"And how long will that take?"
"For you? Probably a month."
I sighed. Hopefully Tananda and Chumley would be more understanding of my plight.
After several hours, it was high noon and the ritual was to begin. I was lowered to a point only a few inches off the ground, for whatever reason. I didn't know at the time.
The woman (odd, I thought, that I didn't even know her name) showed up and stood in front of me. She inserted her index and middle finger into her mouth, and licked them heavily. She then reached down with her fingers and...
I averted my gaze. It was too disgusting.
She came up to me and slapped me. "This is going to take a long time," she said disapprovingly.
I had no choice but to agree.
(THE END of the original chapters.)