||Shun was shuffling along with a line of other young men, all in leg shackles and bound to each other. They had walked, between horsed soldiers of the Chu army, most of the day, with few rest breaks and even fewer stops for water or food. When the line came to a stumbling halt, because a young soldier of Wu was too wounded or weak to go on, he was unshackled from the rest and dragged into the bush at the side of the road. Shun had no idea how these men fared after that. All of the men taken were young; no grizzled warriors of Wu were in the line of chained prisoners. He had no idea why he had been taken during the short raid into the encampment of the King of Wu or where they were going. He only knew he needed to continue putting one foot in front of the other, or that he'd be taken into the bush at the side of the road. His back, under his shoulder blade, where the sword of the horseman had only slightly nicked him, thanks to his pack—as well as Niu's pack—he'd had on his back, was only a dull ache now. That he could endure, and if he ever got back to Niu again, he would not complain about having to carry Niu's pack as well as his own. The wondering of why he'd been spared and then taken in the raid was more of a bother to him than the itchy scratch. As dusk started to settle into dark, he began to discover more of the why. The line of prisoners was stopped and soldiers of Chu came among them, prodding their bodies and turning them this way and that, looking them over very closely. Five of the smaller, more physically appealing, and well-formed of the young men were unchained and taken aside as the other prisoners were jostled away from the road and up a small hill and forced to squat near the tree line. They were left chained to each other and the chains were secured around thick three trunks. A couple of soldiers were left to guard the prisoners, while most of the rest started to set up a temporary camp and light fires closer to the road. Five soldiers, however, led the five separated captives, of which Shun was one, up, past the staked-out prisoners and into the forest. The five captives were pushed down unto their haunches beside trees, a separate tree for each, and one of their wrists bound with leather roping, which was passed around the tree trunk and then bound to the other wrist of the prisoner, forcing them on their backs, with their arms raised above their heads. The soldiers knelt between the spread thighs of the trussed captive of their choice and each did whatever he needed to do to prepare himself for giving and the prisoner for taking. The soldiers were the senior warriors of the guards. The one who had chosen Shun was the captain of the guard, a grizzled man of advanced age but of heavy musculature that marked him as a man not to be challenged lightly. He had once been a handsome man, but there was an old gash mark that extended from the top of one ear, down his cheek, and over his lips to his chin. It gave him a fierce look, with a mouth whose emotions had been split by the sword, one side smiling and the other side sneering. Shun could not look into the man's face that was hovering just above his while the warrior fucked Shun with a manly cock that knew what it was doing. The noises Shun heard from the four adjacent trees told him that the other four soldiers were doing the same as the captain. Even though Shun couldn't stand to watch the captain's face, he intuitively knew that he needed to please this man. This was the captain of the guard, the one who held all of their lives in thrall. Chances were good that none of these five captives would leave the forest alive, but Shun could but try to save himself. Shun had learned much at the Cut Sleeve Nanleshijia-house of prostitution-in Nantung while the jinan-male prostitutes-were training, even though his own training had been cut short. Just as they trained with mainly description and a few equipment aids, so did Shun when he managed to be alone. He knew the sounds to make to tell the man inside him that he was a master, he'd learned the secrets of tightening his channel around a yang chu—another man's shaft—and making love to it with the muscles of the channel wall, and he learned to arch his back and to praise the fucking and cry out for more, faster when the man was tightening and approaching climax. He knew not to just lay there inertly, but to move his hips in rhythm with the fuck and, at the last moment, to wrap his legs around the waist of his man and hold him deep inside for the clouds and rain—and to tell the man, with feeling, that no other man had touched him this deep and satisfyingly. He also knew that a man wanted him to signal his own passion by coming first and with cries of passion. He must have learned well, because when the captain ejaculated inside him after furiously thrusting as if he were still on the battlefield, he remained there, with Shun's legs encasing his waist, panting hard and moving his lips to the hollow of Shun's neck and down to his nipples. When he tongued back up to Shun's face, the young prisoner closed his eyes and let the captain open his lips with his own. Shun sucked on the captain's invading tongue as he had been taught to do to show total capitulation and he began to move his hips again, bringing the captain's yang chu back to strength. The guard captain fucked Shun again, this time taking more time. This time the captain also moaned as he fucked. This time they made love. So, Shun knew that he had won favor with the man. Meanwhile, the four other soldiers had finished, leaving their conquests groaning and whimpering and were replaced by four fresh soldiers, already holding their engorged cocks in their hands, and ready to give the second fucking. A soldier was standing beside the crouching captain too, but with a gruff command and a flick of his wrist, he waved the soldier away. Soon, though, that soldier returned with another captive in tow, tied him off to another tree, and the chain of five relief stations once more was intact. But by now the captain's buttocks where moving again, constricting and expanding, as he fucked Shun more slowly and languidly a third time, paying more attention to Shun's prostate with the bulb of his cock, and being rewarded with shuddering and exclamations of ecstasy from Shun. This time after the captain had come, he moved his knees up to beside Shun's chest and presented his cock for cleaning. "Bite it and you're a dead man," he growled. Amazingly, after Shun had given him the suck play he wanted, rather than leaving, he moved back down to Shun's hips, encased himself on Shun's yang chu, and slowly rode the young captive's cock, seeming to enjoy having a man inside him as much as he'd enjoyed fucking Shun. While this was proceeding, Shun turned his face to the side to see how the other captives were faring. Four of them were enduring their third soldier. One of those captives was struggling and cursing—and he was being beaten with the fists of his laughing oppressor for his trouble. Shun did not think he'd survive to his fifth man unless he became wiser and stopped fighting it. Two other captives were laying there like limp rags, softly whimpering, barely conscious. For them, it would be a long night too, Shun thought. But they might survive unless the soldiers had planned to dispatch them in the forest anyway. Shun was surprised to recognize that the fifth captive, the one brought up later to substitute for the captain's unwillingness to yield with him, was Rong, the young soldier deflowered by Niu just the previous night. As he was looking at Rong, Rong's face turned to his. It was full of fear and pain and shock. "Do not fight it, Rong," Shun whispered loud enough for the young soldier to hear. "Think of each one as being Niu and being welcome. Open to it. Do whatever you need do to survive. Make them want to keep you alive." The worry began to melt from Rong's face. He had understood. As Shun watched, he saw Rong relaxing, and his hips begin to move. He looked back into the meaty soldier's face that was grimacing down at him—and he smiled. The soldier reacted with surprise and new ardor. He lowered his lips to Rong's, and Shun noticed that his buttocks lost the sharp, rapid movement of the rough fuck and that he was taking it slower now. Rong would manage, Shun thought. Just as Shun would do whatever he had to do to keep the captain of the guard happy. When both Shun and the captain were spent with the captain riding Shun's cock, the solider laid his barrel chest on Shun's and looked down into his face. Shun could look at him directly now. He knew he had to learn to do this without wincing, and he had to admit that he was enjoying the cocking. The captain did not have the length and thickness and power of Niu's cock, but at least he seemed to recognize that Shun was there, which was not something Niu did well unless he wanted a favor. Although it had started off as only the captain's pleasure, it had become the two of them working together for mutual pleasure. "You pleasure me," the captain said—saying it almost as if it was an unexpected surprise. "You pleasure me as well," Shun said with a smile on his face. "Please, will you fuck me again?" Of all the tricks Shun had learned in the nanleshijia-male brothel-this was the most important. Even if the client is paying grandly for the use of your channel, tell him you want another ride without paying more. He will feel a man. He likely will be willing to pay even more the next time. "In a moment, my little bird," the captain said. "And there will be more tonight. You will sleep on my mat tonight. You are not a stranger to this, are you?" "No, sire," Shun answered. "I am not a soldier. I was a jinan—male prostitute—for the court of the Wu. I have worked in a male house of pleasure—in Nantung. The famous Cut Sleeve Nanleshijia. If you unbind me and keep me with you, I can make love to your yang chu in the manner that is fit for a king." Shun was pulling out all stops. He was sure that a soldier of Chu would be proud to be mining a channel that the royals of the House of Wu had dipped in. It didn't matter that it wasn't true. That he had been a mere servant, not a fully trained jinan in the nanleshijia. This was a matter of survival, and Shun very much doubted that the captain of Chu had the least notion of what a male courtesan could do. Indeed, this information seemed to arouse the captain. Shun could feel the man's cock hardening on his stomach. Much as the captain was aroused at sharing a channel with the King of Wu, though, he seemed to have a greater interest in something else Shun had mentioned. "You worked in a famous nanleshijia, did you say?" "Yes, my lord. You are magnificently strong and built like a horse, so I could show you the position of the galloping—" "You know the workings of a nanleshijia? The management?" "Yes, of course. Does that—?" "You could manage a nanleshijia for me, then? That is what our charge is. We were to bring young, comely men of Wu back from this raid. The army of Chu wants to establish a nanleshijia for its officers on the shores of Tai Hu Lake—outside the capital at Danyang. The court wants nothing of that sort inside the capital city, so I must set one up at Tai Hu." "Yes, I could do that," Shun said. And he could, he may have only been a servant in the Cut Sleeve nanleshijia, but he was clever and he had eyes. He could see what was done to manage it. He moved the heels of his feet to the muscle of the captain's calves and started to massage his legs. There was so much more Shun could do to keep the captain's ardor up—to make him believe that Shun wanted him—if he could get his hands free. He began to willfully tremble and to sigh and to give the captain "now, again . . . please" looks. He believed he may be coming out of this well enough. But now he thought of the others—and especially of Rong, who was being taken by his third soldier, who wanted to stand, feet planted firmly in the ground and hold the pelvis of the diminutive Rong to his crotch with strong hands on Rong's waist, and while Rong was arched back to toward the ground, pull the youth's body back and forth on his cock. Rong was giving Shun a plaintive "just barely enduring it look." There were strangled whimperings and manly grunts coming from Shun's other side and he turned his head to see that an arriving soldier would not wait for the one before him to be finished with one captive and that they were sharing the captive's hole. "We could open a nanleshijia with these young men, sire—your soldiers have picked candidates well. But the strength of a nanleshijia in Wu is in providing virgins. May I suggest that—?" "Virgins?" the captain exclaimed. "What an idea. A man of Chu wants his jinan experienced and well used. The men of Chu are magnificently endowed; we want holes that will take us easily. What my men are doing here is beginning the preparation of making these captives into the holes that the soldiers of Chu want to dip in." "But these captives up here, sire. Some will not live the night. Few will want to poke dead men." "There are more staked below," the captain growled. "How many jinan do you need for a nanleshijia?" "Your men picked out the most arousing young men to bring up here tonight, didn't they?" Shun asked, desperate now to save Rong as well as himself if he could. "Yes. Why do you ask that?" "You will want the most comely of the young men you have captured to serve in the nanleshijia, won't you? If you, these captives here are the ones you should not be using up before the pleasure house can be establish." The captain grunted his understanding, and Shun believed he had gotten the point but he was showing irritation, most likely because he hadn't already gotten that point. Shun didn't want to lose him, so he started moving his belly so that the underside of the captain's cock was rubbing against it. Shun started to pant and moan. He moved his pelvis so that the captain's cock slipped under his balls and the bulb was rubbing against the rim. With all of the concentration he could manage, Shun got the cap of the cock positioned up against his hole and he started puckering the rim against the bulb. "Now. please . . . don't make me wait longer," he murmured in a breathy voice. Also with hoarse voice, the captain whispered. "How do you want it, little bird? This one is for you." "Hard and furious," Shun cried out. "Be a soldier. Conquer me." It must have been what the captain wanted to hear, because he laughed heartily and gave Shun what he asked for. And this time it was the captain who was the more winded and exhausted of the two after the climax. "One favor?" Shun asked as they were cooling down. "I will not unbind you until we reach Tai Hu Lake," the captain answered. "Not that. To manage a proper nanleshijia, I will need an assistant. Someone I can trust. I know that captive over there. His name is Rong. May I have him—alive and unruined—as my assistant?" * * * * Within weeks Shun had set up a nanleshijia for the army of Chu in a many-pavilioned compound that was provided by the army on a cliff overlooking Tai Hu Lake. The villa was nothing like the Cut Sleeve Nanleshijia. It was more like an army barracks. And the soldiers coming here for sexual relief were nothing like the refined clients Shun had known in Nantung. They were rough and brutal. Shun quickly learned why they wanted their jinan well used and toughened to the cock—they wanted them to survive to the point of ejaculation. The captain stayed with Shun and in his bed—being lost to Shun as Shun knew he would be once Shun had the use of his hands and could make love to the captain in all of the ways Shun had seen practiced in the Cut Sleeve pleasure house. But it wasn't more than a couple of weeks before the nanleshijia was so popular that the captain had to take to the field again with most of his soldiers to recruit new jinan. Guards were left at the nanleshijia, though, and although Shun started to plan an escape for Rong and himself almost from the time the captain first told him of the plans to establish a nanleshijia, the guards were still too much on the alert and Shun hadn't managed to scrape together enough of the means to escape or to have been able to slowly extract from people around him how far it was back to Wu territory and what the best avenues of escape were. Shun didn't have a clue where he was in relationship to a border of Wu, for that matter. The longer Shun went without escaping, the harder it became for him to want to. He found that he enjoyed being the zhaoguzhe—caretaker—of a nanleshijia house. Or he would enjoy it immensely if it was one set up to service the pleasures of the refined gentlemen of Wu rather than the coarse soldiers of Chu. However, whenever he thought of just settling where he was and being content with the man who had saved his life, his thoughts went to wondering what had happened to Niu. He could not deny his addiction to Niu no matter how attentive to his sexual needs the captain was. And when he thought of Niu, he thought of Nantung and pined to be there. Shun did his best for the jinan and was sorry to see the captives slowly disappear or die, but he took heart that the captain had permitted him to keep Rong by his side untouched—at least to the extent that Rong wanted to be untouched. Rong had gotten a taste for the yang chu. Shun enjoyed a good ride himself, but as long as the captain was there, he was getting quite enough of that. Rong wanted the attention and was learning the wiles of seduction and holding the interest of a man from Shun, but whenever he'd gone with one of the soldiers sent to the nanleshijia for relief, he spent several days in the sickbed, unable to close his legs. There must be some middle ground, Shun thought. It was Rong who gave Shun an idea of this middle ground. There were tradesmen who brought supplies to the nanleshijia, and it was Rong who was assigned to receive these supplies and pay the tradesmen. One day after Shun had seen the exchange of vegetables for money, Rong left the kitchens with the tradesman and didn't come back for some time. When he did, Shun could hear the clinking of coins in Rong's hand, and the young man went directly to his room. The next time Shun saw him leave with a tradesman, he followed at a distance. When he got out to the entrance court to the nanleshijia, he saw no sign of Rong or the tradesman. So, he walked down the road several paces to where it wound into a copse of trees. There he saw that the tradesman's now-empty cart was drawn up to the side of the path. Empty of vegetables now, that is. The tradesman was leaning over the open tail of the cart, his back toward Shun, and the ankles of Rong's bare legs were hung on his shoulders on either side of his head. Shun could have been angry that the nanleshijia's money was going into Rong's pockets soon after it was given to tradesmen, but he wasn't. The nanleshijia was getting its vegetables. And watching the tradesman fuck Rong, and listening to his pleasure in doing so, told Shun that there were randy men to be served in the local community who would pay for it. So, before the captain left again, Shun got him to agree to devote a section of the pleasure house to civilian men from the vicinity, to be serviced in a more civil style than the soldiers wanted. The captain had reluctantly agreed, but he'd questioned whether there was demand for such services. When he found that there was high demand among the local men, he then objected on the grounds that he wasn't going to raid for captives to serve anyone but the armymen for whom they were intended. "We will find young men to serve just this section of the house, then," Shun said. "Young virgins we can sell at high—?"