A curious young man seeks passage to a famed island of Masters and slaves but finds himself involved in the island's trade in an undesired way. A new story from Chrisus!

Seeking Passage to Doraenium - Part 1
by Chrisus
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We’ve all heard of Doraenium. From infancy, we’d been exposed to its myths. Our parents had warned us with what happens to habitually “naughty boys”. The “bad men” would steal them from the safe bosom of their families and spirit them away to far-off Doraenium and it was darkly hinted that once they arrived there, they’d suffer all the torments of hell on earth.

Of course, this had the desired effect upon me as a boy. Even though I’d shared the bravado of my young companions and laughingly scoffed at Doraenium’s existence - declaring it to be an urban myth along with trolls and hobgoblins - I never-the-less retained a secret fear that, in fact, it might exist. And it has to be said it was a modifying influence on my youthful behaviour.

Later, as I grew older, I discovered that Doraenium did exist although it was hard to distinguish fact from fiction or to sort the truth from the wild stories of over-active, fevered imaginations.

From an early age – almost as soon as I could walk – I worked with my blacksmith father in the small, rural, farming village we called home. The village is my world and the furthest I have ventured from it is five miles when, each midsummer, we’d go to the annual fair at our parish market-town. I’d looked forward to these yearly outings as a boy and I still do so as an eighteen-year-old youth. The months leading up to the fair are busy ones for my father and me. In any spare time, we have from our main smithing duties; we forge all manner of small household items and trinkets for sale at the stall my father sets up at one edge of the market-square. The profits from this are small but given our poor circumstances, every copper disc counts.

My name is Linus and at eighteen, I’m tall and as you’d expect of a blacksmith, I have a strong muscular body. I have been told by the village maidens that I am good looking and certainly I find all are most receptive to my advances. I have to say rutting with them is a favourite pastime and often, you’ll find me in some haystack or stable-loft buck-arsed naked and fucking for all I am worth.

Last year, at the parish fair, my father gave me a few pennies and sent me to the local inn for a pork pie and a mug of ale. As you’d expect, the inn was overcrowded and I found myself sitting at a table with a boisterous group of strangers several years my senior. They welcomed me into their group and I listened enchanted as they spoke of their many travels and adventures in a world far beyond my own limited one. I heard of many wondrous things - all beyond my peasant’s simple comprehension - and I was suddenly gripped with a desire to go and to see these things for myself.

Then, I heard mention of Doraenium and in my naivety, I asked if such a place existed. My companions, obviously men of the world, laughed loudly and asked where I’d lived all my life. Blushing from my embarrassment, I told them that the fair is the furthest I’ve ever been from my home five miles away. This surprised them; they stopped laughing and adopted a kindlier attitude towards me and told me about Doraenium - a place they’d all visited.

From them, I learned that Doraenium is a sizeable island about two day’s travel by galley to the West of our shoreline. Its verdant pastures and forests shine emerald-green in the sparkling azure blue sea and its high mountain peaks are mostly wreathed by cloud which gives Doraenium its bountiful rainfall and rich pastures. But it was the island’s inhabitants that intrigued me the most.

My companions told me that the island is a slave society – mostly closed to “outsiders” and that it is rigidly divided into two classes – masters and slaves. And there are no mistresses or female slaves.

The masters live in unparalleled luxury and indolent pleasure served by their subservient slaves. And the masters are excused from all physical labours which are performed by those slaves.

The slaves, by comparison, live hard lives. They till the fields and grow the crops. They tend the vines and crush the grapes to make the wine which their owners imbibe to excess. They work the olive groves and fruit orchards and harvest their ripened bounty.

On the farms, the slaves are yoked together and made to plough the fields or, shackled in teams to farm carts, they labour to haul their masters’ produce to market.

In the town, they transport their masters around in rickshaws or in heavy litters carried on their brawny shoulders. Slaves serve their masters in their homes and ominously from my point of view, in their beds.

All this was new and bewildering to me. The concept of slavery isn’t something that I am overly familiar with. It’s true that I live in a feudal society and as a peasant I am at the lowest rung of my community. And I’d just accepted my lowly position in life and never questioned the status quo. The mysterious powers that determine a man’s destiny – even before his birth – had assigned this role to me and it had never occurred to me that my serfdom was akin to slavery. The fact that I was tied, by an accident of birth, to my local lord’s demesne wasn’t something I’d ever given thought to. These aren’t matters for we peasants to consider; they are the province of our feudal masters.

But listening to my companions, the concept of chattel slavery intrigued me. Fascinated, I hung on to their every word. I heard how the natural state for a slave on Doraenium is complete nakedness; apparently clothing or a covering of any kind is forbidden them. Nudity in my community is considered sinful and frowned upon and any offenders are publicly whipped.

Therefore, to hear of a community where more than half the population – I was told on Doraenium, slaves outnumber their masters by two to one – are permanently nude both shocked and titillated me. At eighteen, I am fascinated with both my own and the bodies of my youthful companions and had been since the onset of puberty. And guiltily, it is the male body that interests me the most despite my frequent couplings with the village maidens.

I listened in slack-mouthed awe as my companions spoke of how slaves on Doraenium are routinely sold along with the cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry on market-days. But what interested me even more was the annual spring sale of slaves and its associated festival.

These events occur over a period of three days and the highlight of each day are the slave auctions when many owners sell their slaves and purchase replacements from the supply of new slaves brought to the island by slave-dealers from the mainland.

The nights are given over to feasting and debauchery when the newly purchased slaves are usually initiated into their onerous duties by their new owners. I listened as my companions told of how the unhappy, naked slaves are paraded shackled and whip-driven through the town’s streets prior to being placed on display at the slave-market. Here they are subjected to the lecherous attentions of all the freemen citizens.

Listening to my companions talk about the “great slave auctions” – and they all seem to have attended at least one – only whetted my appetite to witness one for myself. I vowed one day to visit Doraenium and to take part in the festivities that accompany these yearly festivals.

And that day has arrived! Today, I take my leave of my disapproving father and set out on foot for the coast some two days walk from my village.

I am travelling light with just the clothes I wear, a few copper coins in my pouch and a meagre ration of food packed for me by my anxious mother and sister. My brother, two years my junior is to take my place in the forge during my absence. I reason that I will be gone for no more than two weeks.

My plans are simple; I will walk to the coast and hopefully convince a captain of one of the galleys trading with Doraenium to let me work my passage out to the island.

Nothing has prepared my simple peasant’s mind for the hustle and bustle of this busy sea-port. All around me are scenes of feverish activity as cargoes are unloaded from newly arrived trading galleys. My ears are unaccustomed to the cacophony of sound that raucously fills the air and I find the unintelligible babble of many languages bewildering. And for the first time, I come face to face with real slavery. In truth, I am more accustomed to the benign slavery of the farms surrounding my home village where slaves are treated firmly but fairly and seen as members of the family.

The wharves team with gangs of slaves, who unchained from the oars of their masters’ galleys, toil relentlessly under the cruel whips of their overseers. These poor wretches toil semi-naked – their modesty preserved under filthy rags tied around their emaciated waists. Their sun-blackened, whippet-thin bodies are dreadfully whip-scarred and are evidence of their suffering as they toil at the oar. Their heads are closely cropped and their faces covered by thick stubble that adds to the grimness of their appearances.

So uniform are they in appearance that it is impossible to determine their age with accuracy. Their slavery has made them old before their time. However, it is possible to get an idea of their length of service at the oar by the colour of their torsos and the number of whip scars on their shoulders and back; obviously the longer they have served at the oar the darker the relentless sun has coloured their hides and the greater the number of stripes they have garnered. They groan under the heavy yoke of their slavery.

The slaves are remorselessly driven to unrealistic feats of strength under the cruel whips of their impatient overseers. They struggle under the impossibly heavy loads of large clay amphorae containing grain, olive oil or wine and weighty baskets of produce or thick bundles of animal hides.

Somewhere, a teenaged slave stumbles and spills a basket of plump, black figs over the wharf’s surface. Immediately three overseers descend upon him and assail him with their whips. Despite his anguished cries and futile begging for mercy, he is lashed without respite until every last fig has been gathered up and placed back in the basket. As he does so an angry overseer berates him.

“You careless dog! Pick up every last fig and be quick about it. And take care not to bruise them or I’ll ram every damaged fig up you useless arse. NOW MOVE!”

Only when the slave has gathered up the last fig and hoisted the basket high on to his shoulder, does his torment cease.

My simple village life hasn’t prepared me for these scenes of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man and I am distressed by the sorry plight of the slaves. It’s true that the whip is used by my overlord and I have witnessed many public floggings in the village square. But these had been given as legitimate punishment to miscreants who’d broken the laws or who had offended against public morality. At home, neither the whip – nor any other form of torture - had ever been used without justifiable reason and to see it used so enthusiastically on the long-suffering slaves upsets me.

I turn my back on the wharves and look for a waterfront tavern used by off-duty seaman. It makes sense that this is where I can enquire about finding a berth out to Doraenium. And besides, I am hungry.

The tavern I eventually chose is close to the waterfront. Its shabby interior is small and ill-lit by two small windows that front onto wharves. Even this early in the day, it is crowded with rough, noisy seamen who seem determined to drink as much ale and wine as is humanly possible before they put to sea once more.

As I enter, the room falls silent and I’m acutely aware that all eyes are turned in my direction. I’m embarrassed by their sudden silence - and their attention – and I’m aware that I am blushing profusely.

“Well lad, what can I do for you?” The tavern-keeper asks not unkindly.

“Please sir, I’d like a tankard of ale and some bread and goat-milk cheese.”

“Well young sir, sit y’self down over there,” he indicates a table in a far corner, “and I’ll fetch them to yer!”

Shyly, I move to the table – there are three seamen already sitting there - but they shuffle along the bench and make room for me as I take my place alongside of them.

“Well, young feller me lad, where are you from what brings yer here?” An older sailor asks.

“Sir, my village is two days walk from here and I have come here to find a way to get to the island of Doraenium.”

“And why would a simple, country boy like you be lookin’ to go to Doraenium, I wonder?”

“Sir, I have heard of the annual festival and I want to see it for myself.”

“You mean the slave auctions?” A younger sailor asks. “And why would yer be wantin’ to witness slaves bein’ sold orf, I wonder?”

I’m not sure how to answer. I can’t just say that my interest is prurient or that it borders on the homo-erotic. More than that, I am excited at exploring the world beyond the only one I’d ever known and visiting the island gives purpose to my sense of adventure. Somehow, I manage to stutter out a reason.

“There are few farm slaves in my village and until today I’ve not seen a real slave. But two years ago, I was told about the slave auctions on Doraenium and ever since I’ve wanted to visit there and see them for myself.”

“And tell me lad, how do yer plan to travel to Doraenium?” The older sailor asks. “Do yer have the money to pay yer passage on one of the galleys travellin’ over to the island?”

“That all depends on how much it costs, sir! I don’t have much money – just a few coins - and I was hoping that I could work my passage on a ship. Do you know of any ships looking for temporary workers?”

“Laddie, it could be that I might be able to help ‘ee. Would ye be willin’ to work yer passage as a crew member?”

“It all depends on what I’d have to do, sir! You see, I’m a blacksmith and not a sailor.”

“Why, laddie! There’s nothing to it. You’d be helping with the galley slaves and the cargo of slaves we be takin’ over to the auction. You’d not need any special skills other than feeding and watering the slaves. Do ye think ye could do that?”

“If that’s all that’s required sir, I think I could do that.”

“That’s the spirit lad! And it’s just a short trip of two days over to Doraenium. It’s not as though it’s a long voyage. And we be leavin’ on this evening’s tide.”

It would appear that the gods are favouring me. I have found a way to get to Doraenium and it won’t cost me one copper coin. Indeed, Good Fortune smiles on me; I have met up with these friendly seamen who are taking me with them to meet the captain of their galley.

I can scarcely believe my luck. By a stroke of good fortune, I have fallen in with a group of friendly seamen who are taking me to the captain of their galley in the hope that he’ll give me a berth to the island of Doraenium. I’d come to the port with this idea in mind but I didn’t know it would be so easy to make friends with a group of sailors and to sign on as a crew member of their vessel.

I walk with them towards the wharf where their galley is berthed. Of course, all this is very new to me. As a country lad, I’d never been further than five miles from my parents’ home and so my senses aren’t able to absorb all that is happening around me.

I suppose the thing I notice the most is the large number of semi-naked slaves toiling under the cruel whips of their brutal overseers as they struggle to load and unload the ships moored to the stout, stone wharves. These wretched men – and really they are men no longer – have been relegated to the lowly level of beasts-of-burden, They sweat and strain under the heavy crates, kegs and baskets that twist and contort their bodies into obscene shapes and the only sounds they make - apart from the rattling of the chains fastened around their ankles and wrists – is the loud rasping of their oxygen starved lungs and their agonized cries as the sinuous whips coil snakelike around their semi-naked torsos.

I’d not had much exposure to the few slaves in my rural community where they are the exception rather than the norm. The handful of slaves I’d come across were mainly farm labourers and they were treated benignly by their owners. But what I now witness shocks my senses and arouses pity within me for the plight of these unfortunate wretches. The filthy scraps of tattered rags they wear tied around their emaciated waists are a small gesture of decency but I suspect this concern is for the onlooker’s outraged sensibilities rather than the slave’s dignity and self-respect.

And as we approach the galley – whereby I hope to travel to Doraenium – I am overwhelmed by its foul stench. It is the stench of slavery; of the unwashed, sweat-sodden bodies of the galley slaves and their bodily wastes. The sickly-sweet smell of excrement, urine and vomit fouls the very air that I breathe. The vileness of it catches in my throat and cause me to dry retch. One of the seamen sees my distress and comments.

“You mightn’t think so now but if you sign on as a member of the crew you’ll soon get used to the slaves’ stink. It grows on you until you don’t notice it no more!”

I doubt that very much but it would seem if I am to travel to Doraenium then I must endure the foulness of the galley-slaves. I comfort myself with the thought that my trip is a brief one of two days. It seems a small price to pay for a free trip to the Island of Doraenium.

“There she be, lad! There’s the “Lucky Wanderer.”

The old seaman points to a sixty oared galley moored at the end of the wharf. It truly is a thing of obscene beauty with its sleek, black hull and colourful superstructure painted in hues of red, green, blue and gold. Written at the bow and stern in large, gilt lettering is the galley’s name – “Lucky Wanderer”. Given the suffering of the naked slaves chained three to an oar, the name strikes me as most incongruous. I doubt if any of the one hundred and eighty oar-slaves would consider themselves as lucky.



  1. 31118azti - April 15, 2020, 10:00 am


  2. scotts60143 - April 16, 2020, 7:46 pm

    Great first chapter!! I think he was not thinking clearly…when he entered the room it went silent? That should have kind of been a red flag, but it does make for a great story!!

  3. darkmusingsofahornyoldfag - May 3, 2020, 5:14 am

    Nice! Very well written. Thank you!

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