Chapter 20

A Demonstration of Competence

“As you would expect, Miss Fara, those that wish to progress in the art of Kòngzhì Rén have to demonstrate their understanding of the principles of the art and their ability to put it into practice.” Mary Tang was explaining to Fara and the others how the process of examinations would work. “It is sufficient, at this stage, only that you prove to me you can put into practice the four Paths: the Hand, the Cane, the Rope, and the Look. You must also show an understanding of the four pressure points of Pain, Pleasure, Humiliation and Fear. Please remember: at this stage, we do not expect you to exhibit great prowess in any particular field. It is more important that you can show a range of skills.”

Fara nodded, biting on her lower lip. She felt confident about her understanding but she knew that putting it all into practice was a different matter. The other three listened with a mixture of jealousy that Fara was having the first attempt at the exam and relief that it wasn’t them.

“Good. In that case, you need to know that the test will start this evening at seven o’clock. You will take one slave from the cages. Here is a key — cockroach, I think it is. You have worked with him before. I will observe. You may do whatever is needed to demonstrate your understanding of Kòngzhì Rén. When you believe you have finished, return the slave to his cage. I will observe, but I will not comment nor answer any questions during the trial.”

“And how will I know if I have passed?”

“Do not worry; you will know for yourself, I believe. But afterwards, I will deliberate. Such an award is not made lightly. This may only be the first step, but it must be taken properly.”

At seven o’clock exactly, dressed in white qipao, white stilettos and white, wrist-length gloves, Fara presented herself to Mary in the training room. Mary was waiting, standing impassively at one end of the room. She was wearing a long black qipao in black silk brocade. Bright red piping edged the collar, shoulder fastening, and the slit in the side of the skirt. Beside her, held in a crouched position by hobbling straps and fastenings on his leather suit, was a slave; the same one, Fara assumed, that had accompanied her on her first appearance at Gerard Street.

Fara was impressed by the stillness that Mary seemed to project around her. Even her slave, hobbled as he was, seemed to be surrounded by an aura of calm. The poor man was obviously uncomfortable. The leather suit alone, stiff and heavy, would mean he was hot and would find moving difficult. The hobbling that fastened his ankles close to one another and his thighs to his ankles would make every step in Mary’s wake a considerable effort. His leather hood had only tiny eyelets allowing him sight. Across his mouth a thick round bar, held in place by a strap around his head, acted as a bit gag. It pulled uncomfortably at the corners of his mouth. In the middle of the bar a hook was fitted. This served to hold the strap of Mary Tang’s handbag, allowing it to hang conveniently accessible for her. She unfastened the bag and drew out a scent atomiser, using it to blow a cloud of scent into her hair. The slave held his head back, making sure the bag hung clear of his body. Tossing the atomiser back into the bag, she then found her cigarettes and lighter. She took one from the case and lit it. As she returned the cigarette case and lighter to her bag, her slave had to suffer a stream of exhaled smoke in his face. “There,” she said, turning back to Fara, “the scent of Lotus flowers and tobacco is a soothing one, I feel.”

Fara smiled. She wasn’t sure that Mary’s slave, struggling to stay still while the handbag dangled from his gag, felt particularly soothed.

“Now,” proposed Mary, “are you ready to begin?”

Fara took a deep breath. “Yes,” she said, sounding more confident than she felt.

She started with a polite bow to Mary before walking slowly from the room. Mary followed her. At first, her slave made a move to hobble after her, but a simple shake of Mary’s head told him he should remain. Fara walked down to the room where the slave cages were, trying to concentrate on the routine she had planned.

Bernard was crouched in his cage. Fara unfastened the padlock and opened the door. An admonishing finger told Bernard to remain in place. She stepped back from the cages and took a leash from the hooks on the wall. She clicked her fingers and beckoned to Bernard, who emerged on all fours. As he started to stand, she shook her head. He remained on his hands and knees and crawled towards her. Another finger gesture pointed him to her foot. Bernard complied eagerly, as Fara had known he would, pressing his face to the floor beside her shoe and then, as she moved it towards him, bringing his lips to the toe to kiss it.

As he did so, Fara reached down and fastened the leash to Bernard’s collar. She jerked on the leash, pulling him up. His head was now close to her hip, his face barely an inch away from where the slit of Fara’s qipao closed at the top of her thigh.

Fara could tell that Bernard was slipping into a submissive reverie. While she knew this would help him be more obedient, she needed him to pay attention to what she wanted from him. She reached down and twisted one of his nipples, bringing forth a whimper. “Come,” she said, pulling him to his feet and leading him back to the training room.

Once there, Fara tied his wrists with a simple but efficient use of rope and then chose a cane from the rack.

With the long cane as a guide, she went through a repeat of the exercise where they had steered a slave though various positions. In that first exercise, Bernard’s attention, had needed to be improved by several face slaps and hard cuts from the cane across his buttocks. This time, he followed her directions almost without fault.

Mary stood quietly at the end of the room watching without a word. Her hobbled slave crouched beside her. The only movement from her came as she took the occasional draw on a cigarette, sending a curl of smoke drifting lazily into the air above her. Her long, black qipao made her look like a black marble pillar beside the door.

Fara was unable to read Mary’s reactions to the work she was doing but, still feeling confident, she tapped Bernard on his back, his thigh, and then on the back of his neck, indicating that he should kneel and drop his face to the floor. She stepped towards him. He, anticipating that she was asking him once again to lick her shoe, lifted his head slightly. Fara brought her foot up and pushed down on the side of his head trapping it beneath her shoe with the spike of her heel inches from his eye. Bernard’s panicked squeal told Fara that he was terrified of what might happen next but, confounding his fears, she lifted her foot and crouched down beside him.

“Did that frighten you, cockroach?” she whispered in his ear.

Bernard, still shaking with the thought of what Fara might have done with the heel of her shoe, nodded.

“And yet, that sad little prick of yours is as stiff as anything. Why would that be, cockroach? You can tell me, can’t you?” Fara reached down and drew a finger nail across his belly just above where his cock was springing upwards.

Bernard whimpered as his cock twitched in response to the pleasurable sensation, at the same time shamed by the way that his body betrayed his addiction to submission.

“Yes, Mistress,” he gasped, “please, will you let me cum?”

Fara laughed. “Don’t be silly! What an idea. No, you can go back in your cage and you’ll keep your hands tied out of the way, too. I think you’ve had quite enough amusement for one day. Go on. Go downstairs. Put yourself in your cage and I’ll come down to shut you in shortly.”

He looked up at her for a moment and then bowed his head. He got to his feet, bowed again, and then left. Fara waited for several minutes before following him.

In the room downstairs, Bernard was back in his cage. His cock throbbing and his hands still bound behind him, he could only watch dolefully as Fara shut the door firmly and clipped the padlock in place with a satisfied smile as the hasp clicked home. Fara felt confident that she had shown all she needed. She hoped that she had done enough but she wasn’t certain it was enough to impress Mary Tang. She looked across at her. “That is it,” Fara said. “I have finished.”

Mary Tang nodded. She reached down into the handbag that still hung, open, from her slave’s gag. She took out a powder compact, flipped it open and stared at the mirror in the lid for a moment before snapping it shut once again and returning it to her bag

“Thank you,” Mary replied with no trace of either approval or dissatisfaction on her face. “I shall consider your performance.” She snapped her bag shut, turned on her heels, and with a click of the fingers to indicate that her slave should follow, left the room with Fara wondering whether or not she had passed the test.

At the end, Fara felt completely exhausted. The others gathered around her in the dormitory.

“How did it go?” Collette asked.

“I don’t know.”

“You’ll have done fine,” Daphne chipped in.

“Maybe. It did seem to go all right and I had the one we called ‘cockroach’ to boss around; he’s the easiest of them, isn’t he?”

“Lucky cow! I bet I get stuck with ‘slug.’ He doesn’t seem to know his right from his left half of the time.”

“Well, I feel like I’ve run a marathon. It’s so hard having to pay so much attention all the way through so that every move is done correctly. There were some bits that I’m sure I messed up. I’ll have to wait and see what the inscrutable Mary says, I suppose.”

“No clues?”

“Nothing. Still, she didn’t say I’d failed.”