Tora Pt. 05



DaKar was in fighting stance, his body tense as he squinted and aimed the new rifle at an archer's target from five hundred paces. The sound of the shots cracked against the foundry courtyard walls, and straw from the target exploded into the hot late afternoon air. Five quick shots, all within the bull's eye, and only two holes. The foundry workers shouted and applauded. The Shogunate no longer needed the Dutch traders. DaKar and his artisans did not merely copy the weapons but improved them by making reloading unnecessary.

DaKar handed the gun to a young samurai and, bowing formally, congratulated everyone. On a black horse he made his way, at his leisure, back to the city. His mind was not on weaponry. Something was afoot at the Castle. Sayoko was more often seen there than at the Tora, and she did not even come to his quarters in the evenings. For the past two days and nights she was ensconced in the Map Room with the Shogun and the Master of Intelligence. Yesterday afternoon DaKar was invited to report to the Shogun on the progress of the work at the foundry and the training of the samurai. As the door to the Map Room slid open, hard voices fell silent. The Shogun nodded to DaKar, the other general bowed deeply, and Sayoko put her fingertips and forehead to the tatami. The tableau recalled the contrived beauty of a flower arrangement.

In the past few weeks, with Sayoko either at the Castle or at home in her study, DaKar's evenings were filled with the beauties of the Tora. Now, as he passed peasants tending the green rice fields, he smiled at the thought of the more debauched nights. All who passed through his hands emerged in the morning with smooth mounds, and shaving had become the height of courtesan chic. The fashion spread to the other brothels of the Yoshiwara, then of Osaka and Kyoto. The latest novels and poems referred to "naked orchids," and wood-block prints for sale showed giant, hairless oysters peeping out of luxurious silk. Chikamatsu's latest double-suicide play, starring the snowy Yukiko, had her fall artfully to the stage floor to reveal her smooth thighs and the glossy, blushing petals between them. The orgy that followed in the theater was violent, as was the coupling after her private command performance for DaKar in the Room of Bamboo.

Less successful as a trend was the short, diagonally striped tunic that left one shoulder bare. DaKar had requested the Tora's Master to provide the courtesans with such garments as a playful reminder of the slaves of his land, but only the most long-limbed dared wear them. All, however, had the best Edo jewelers fashion silver collars and anklets, which the women kept on after the last under-kimono had slipped to the tatami. The barbaric ornaments made the women appear more lewd, more naked than naked, and they crazed the patrons. Also thanks to DaKar, the women had further refined their sense of pain and now begged their other patrons to use the whip more often. The women's newfound passion for floggings aroused the patrons, who returned to the Tora again and again.

DaKar felt his sex harden as he recalled the mouths and tongues that set his skin on fire, the soft breasts crushed beneath his chest, the cries of women in sweet pain. The horse broke into a trot as DaKar's legs tightened around it, and he recalled the soft, moist parting of flesh, the moans of resistance, and the gasps of women unable to stop his invasion or the pleasure he forced on them. Many of the courtesans now preferred to be bound with chains rather than silk. The chicest referred to "slave rape" and "slave orgasm" in their banter. The Tora's Master noted the courtesans' sudden interest in DaKar. They dropped broad hints about wishing to be assigned to him and asked every evening if he would be dropping in.

DaKar sighed happily at the thought of the baths—the steamy, candle-lit baths with three women at a time, their limbs floating and languid, their hands sliding across his skin, two tongues on his shaft, their lovely moist faces, damp black tendrils against creamy necks, and laughter floating in the mist. He whipped his steed to a gallop, breathing the summer air.

While he could remember events, however, he could not remember faces or names. The delightful women merged into a single erotic mass, and after weeks of excess he felt as if he had drunk goblets and goblets of honey. His tongue sought the bitterness of wine.

The horse galloped up the slope to the enormous Castle gate, which swung open to a courtyard where grooms were waiting. DaKar strolled to the western garden to watch the sun set. His mind, however, was not on Mount Fuji, which towered over the enormous Kanto Plain like a god on fire. At the Castle, nothing had changed on the surface, but a current of tension ran beneath it, sensed but undefined. He sipped the tea brought in by a valet and contemplated the Castle walls, which burned orange.

The faint laughter of the feudal lords' children playing in another garden wafted up to him. The merriment, DaKar mused, did not alter the fact that the Castle was a prison. During the war to end all wars, through a series of crafty, temporary alliances, the young Shogun—a mere samurai—had brought the numerous lords to their knees, one by one, until he had united the country under a military government. For good measure, he kept the lords' wives and children in apartments in the Castle. The lords were required to visit their families in Edo twice a year. The journeys drained the lords' coffers and took them away from their fiefdoms for a few months. Besides holding the lords' families hostage, the Shogunate employed an elaborate system of espionage, intrigue, and assassination to keep the aristocrats under control, for beneath the calm were the grudges and resentments of a former ruling class.

The sky darkened. The garden was filled with the humming of crickets and the clicking of lizards. Bats streamed out of the Castle's eaves. A larger figure circled the Castle. DaKar knew it must be Sayoko on her tarn with her falcon escort. She guided the beast to the other side of the Castle. He rubbed the roughness of the tea cup against his lip as the sun disappeared.

He made his way back to his quarters, deep in thought. The long meetings in the Map Room, the rush to develop the arms industry, Sayoko's coolness, and, always, the disturbing, invisible current beneath the calm—what did they mean? The Shogunate was troubled. But by what? The country was an island fortress: no threat came from abroad. Merchant wealth was trickling down to the artisans and peasants. Even if the peasants were restive, the feudal lords would crush an uprising with ease. Then it dawned on him: the Shogunate had uncovered the beginnings of an aristocratic rebellion. Poorly armed, disorganized rabble would be a minor problem, but an alliance of lords with armies of unquestioning loyalty was another matter. The Shogunate was preparing for war, DaKar realized, and a thrill surged through him, warming his blood.

In the dim hallway to the state official apartments, he saw Sayoko's small form several paces ahead of him, like a moth in her gauzy summer kimono. He approached her swiftly and silently. She heard nothing until he placed his large hands on her shoulders and roughly yanked her robes down her arms. She gasped in fright and groaned as her back hit a stone wall. DaKar's sharp features emerged in the gloom. She could not move. With a quick act of violence, he had cleared her mind of all else, even affairs of state.

Her world now was the darkness, his hands roughly parting her skirts, then her thighs, his hands lifting her ass, and the sudden, almost painful piercing of her heat. Then her moans as her petals swelled and moistened around him, and her writhing as he forced her flesh open. The thrusts that crushed sobs out of her. And the weakness that filled her as he showed her that he could take her anywhere he wished, without the protocols of either the Castle or the Tora.

And now he took her roughly against the wall, savoring her helplessness, her softness, and the fragrance of her hair. She fought him at first, then she moaned and clutched him. She threw her head back, crying out when he hurt her. They kissed deeply. All that was taut within her loosened. She had not been touched by a man for too many days. It had been too many days for him, as well. The beauties of the Tora were delightful but eventually cloying. He missed something, and it was this: the pure form of the joining of two halves, recognizing no law or morality. The joining was always violent. He could guide it and force her surrender to it, but neither of them could resist it.

Her whimpers told him she was close, but she tried to twist away from him, afraid that she would cry out too long and too indecently. He held her still and waited for it—the long, indecent cry that echoed in the hallway, heard by the hidden guards. The Shogunate allowed DaKar full freedom and, since he came to Edo, Sayoko's passionate sobs had been heard in the Castle's public places more than once. The guards envied DaKar's privilege and desired Sayoko, and her cry inflamed them now.

Her breathing slowed and her body softened. Her head rested against his chest. DaKar withdrew slowly. He swept her up in his arms and strode to his quarters. Sayoko was still in a delirious half-swoon when DaKar laid her on the futon. He tore off his robes and then hers, and her groin lifted to him. He was not interested in her heat, and turned her roughly on her belly. From a black-lacquered box he took a vial of clear oil from Gor and poured it between her buttocks and held her down by the neck as he rubbed the liquid into the crease.

She strained against his grip as his finger explored her, lightly around the rim, which made her heat spasm, and then deeper. She cried out in pain yet felt the lips of her heat thicken. "No!" she sobbed into the silk quilt, but shuddered as the pain softened her and turned into a terrible pleasure. She felt his sex probe her and bucked against him. He pinned her wrists beside her head and pushed slowly into her, pleased by her groans and her resistance, and then by her surrender when her body obeyed him and she moaned his name. She came quickly. Her cries were guttural, and her spasms brought him to his.

Later, they were quiet in the candle-lit bath, legs entwined in the deep tub, eyes peaceful. And later, for the first time in several weeks, they both slept long and dreamlessly.

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