“Game?” the Emperor muttered to The Chanter. The Chanter, so utterly not expecting such a thing to be muttered by this girl, hadn’t even processed the words.
“Uh…” The Chanter mumbled, attempting to stall for time. He collected himself and stepped forward from the shadows. “Your punishment is complete. Go!”
“Game,” she said, stamping her foot defiantly. At that, the glowing ropes let go, dropping to the pit floor and snaking away in retreat.
The Chanter motioned and the floor opened up behind Kim, a large padded bench—like an ornate ottoman—rising up behind her. The Persecutor came back and looked at Kim oddly. What was she up to?
“Game is on,” The Chanter said.
The Persecutor grabbed Kim by the wrist and dragged her over to the padded bench, pushing her gruffly toward it. She climbed atop it, knees on the lower portion and torso across the top. The Persecutor pulled from a box a thick paddle of metal, small extrusions—bas-relief divots—protruding from the smoothly polished surface. Intelligent cuffs found their way around Kim wrists on the far side of the bench and slowly squeezed until she was well restrained as another set wrapped themselves around her lower thighs. Kim shivered at this. There was always something oddly unsettling as the cuffs reached around and found purchase, something uncannily humanistic about the movement and sensation. The leg restraints suddenly tugged tighter, drawing her legs closer to the bench, removing the gap between her and the exotic padding.
The Chanter: “Round one!”
The Persecutor pulled back, swung, and struck Kim’s buttocks with a resounding crack! He pulled away, leaving a clean, read shape of the paddle—divots and all—imprinted in her backside as if he’d just spray painted them with a stencil. He swung again, connecting full force on her bottom. He did this again and again to the point some turned away, unable to watch. The Emperor leaned in, a glint in his eye.
The Chanter called, “What is it?”
Kim, without hesitation or faltering in her voice, responded loudly: “Metal. One-centimeter thickness. 18 strikes.”
The Chanter: “Correct. Round two.”
The Persecutor put the paddle away and returned with a leather razor strop, the original function of the tool lost to antiquity. Again, he aimed, placing a hand on top of her buttocks along the tailbone and set to laying the strop almost exactly across the same spot as the paddle, creating a red stripe on top of the paddle’s harsh markings. Again, many blows later, he stopped and stepped back, Kim’s exposed flesh reddening in the dim light of the pit.
The Chanter stepped forward, looking at the marks more closely. “What is it?”
Kim paused, lowered her head, thought. “Leather strop. Wooden handle. 22 strikes.”
The Chanted nodded approval before answering. “Correct again. Round three!” He stepped back into the shadows, next to The Emperor. “Impressive…” he muttered.
The Emperor licked his lips. He was liking this game.