"But I'm a good girl," she insisted again. "Please, don't make me do that....." Oryoki's head hung low, the weight of chains pulling her down into the folds of her kimono, even though the shackles had been released. This was not the first time she had been stolen, or even the second. Her life as Oryoki had started when she was but 6 years old. Her parents were missionaries to Yokahama, and she had been separated from her mother at market one day. An elderly woman had scooped her up, wandering alone, so precious she was... pale skin with hardly a freckle, eyes like morning glories, little silky red tresses. These were not the colors of the Japanese, these were the colors of the Vikings and Celts. The woman did not know english, but knew to look around for a frantic white lady. They were easy to spot in their long and fussy gowns. Feeding Oryoki little cakes stuffed with sweetened beans, the elder looked out to the streets as she tended her stall. Hours passed. It was not until the nightswatchman walked by later, alongside the lamplighter, that she heard the news. At this time, Oryoki was asleep in a pile of futons in the store, away from view. An english woman run over by horses, her husband mad with grief at the loss of his wife and little girl, he jumped from the bridge. They found his body, but not the little girl. How sad. Mamasan looked at her little sleeping bundle, her new treasure.
Oryoki was raised as Mamasan's very own granddaughter, serving tea and folding linens. She had a knack for origami, so Mamasan made sure she had the finest papers around for the little one to make the cranes they sold on holidays. A tall gentleman came to the store one day, looking for some fine silk stationery for his sister. He spied Oryoki, then just 15, quietly tending to her duties in the back, and was struck with desire. From the side he could see her profile was different, but mostly it was the fire of her burgundy hair against her pale pink skin. Cherry blossom white, not quite porcelain. He made an inquiry as to her availability. Mamasan was hesitant. She had grown to love Oryoki as a granddaughter, although she was not as comely as the girls at the tea house where she hoped Oryoki would work some day. Her nose was long, her hair resisted darkening, and she had the large breasts and wide hips of white women. All her kimonos had to be differently fit. While she was not ugly, she did not blend in harmoniously. All these years of good manners and fine diction and attention to detail of the hostess did not take the eyes off her awkward body. She would never work at the higher class tea rooms.
Mr. Nakamura did not care, he had other thoughts in mind. His marriage had been arranged years before, and his wife resided in another city. He was hoping for something of a more personal service than the tea and fan dance. He could not help but be aroused at the sight of her flaring hips and rising bosom, bound under layers of silk and cotton, tucked in place by an obi, and clearly ready to burst out as soon as he untied the package. He made an offer, Mamasan refused. He said he would come back. When he returned, over a year later, Oryoki was alone. Mamasan had taken pneumonia, and could not be disturbed. He tried to make conversation with her, but she was shy and looked away. He returned again, after a few months, yet Mamasan was still unavailable. Years of fantasy had been tormenting him, he must have this english girl....
As Oryoki was blowing out the candles, and winding down the woven mats that covered the windows at night, she heard a knocking outside. There was no one to be seen out the door, so she put on her outdoor shoes and grabbed her outside kimono, stepping from their apartment to investigate the noise. Mamasan lay snoring in her bedroom, she hardly woke these days. Oryoki's life was the store and home, tending to her grandmother. They had no visitors, Mamasan's son only visited once a year on the holiday. When she gave him money. Oryoki called out into the dark, and no one responded. She closed the door behind her and walked towards the entrance of the store, near the front of the building. Few but the drunk and the cheap girls could be heard or seen at this hour, yet this was not their sound. A dark figure appeared before her, a silhouette of a man, blocking her view of the street.
"It's time you came with me, Oryoki," he said, and he held a cloth to her face before she could scream. The streetlight faded to black and Oryoki went limp in his arms. She woke later to the rolling of waves, and the pulling of ropes over winches, the sounds of wind cutting sails. She was on a boat, bound at the wrist and ankle in a chain, her captor seated across from her on a chair.
"Why did you take me from my grandmother?" she cried out. He was smoking, it was a sweet and dreamy aroma, her head was pounding. "Who are you?"
"I am your new master, my dear. I arranged this with Mamasan a long time ago, did she not tell you?" He pulled out some papers from his coat, and it detailed a lawful sale of concubine to a Mr. Nakamura, for the sum of fifty... Oryoki couldn't believe her eyes, Mamasan wouldn't do this to her. Would she? For years she remembered another lady, tall with red hair wearing black, who would walk everywhere with her, who held her hands, and taught her to pray and be silent. One day she was gone, and Oryoki lived with Mamasan. That was when her name became Oryoki. Before then... she became woozy, the sweet and pungent smoke took over her mind as Mr. Nakamura slipped his hand into her bodice.
Oryoki woke to shouting, and the scream of fire and the sounds of guns above deck. She didn't see Mr. Nakamura anywhere, which was a relief, but she was still shackled to the cot against the wall. After a few minutes, the door opened and a tall man in strange clothes and high leather boots came in. He didn't see her, not right away, he was looking around the room and poking through the crates, trunks and parcels. He turned around after a few minutes, and saw her drawing into her kimono, the shackle had dragged against the floor and made a noise. Oryoki made a peep, and closed her eyes.
"Who'er you?" he asked, but it wasn't Japanese. She recognized it as that funny kind of english, because she spoke some as well. Mamasan always made her talk to the english sailors when they came to the store, and handle the sale. They were usually charmed by this little girl, obviously of english parentage, but speaking fluent japanese and completely at home selling silks and papers and textiles. She was good at bartering, often getting a better price than Mamasan herself from the foreigners. Usually it was the displaying of the dimples and the batting of thick lashes over blue eyes that did them in, made them stop haggling. Oryoki perked up.
"I am Oryoki. I am... I am stolen by a man I do not know." She held up her shackled hand and foot, and the stranger looked around the room until he found a key. It was lying on the table beside the chair, next to a lamp and a pipe. The owner must have been expecting to return soon. But everyone upstairs was dead, or mostly dead, and the pirates were scouting for treasures and loot and arms. He unlocked her shackles and held her face up to the light. It was usually a bad idea to bring along the women. Just have a couple rounds, and then sell them to the next ship or drop them off in port. Someone would have a use for them. He liked to travel light.
Piers took his breath in when he gazed at her face. It had been months since he had seen a white woman, and this one didn't have the usual scars of infection and abuse and missing teeth of the ladies he'd find in port brothels. Oryoki looked back and met his gaze, and a flame passed between them both. He quickly dropped his trousers, and pushed her back down on the mat, lifting up her kimono. Which was when she cried out, protesting. Piers was used to the typical protest of woman, but this was different, this was fear. She had no idea what he was doing. He tried again to part her legs with his knee, but she kicked out and screamed, "You are not my husband." Piers couldn't remember the last time he had met a virgin, or a concubine who was attached to her master. It stopped him in his tracks.
"Lassie... Ah do na' knooh wha' to tell ye. Yer master, he's dead, thar's no' on here but summa mah men an' sailors we ahr takin'. Ah can't take ye wit me."
"Why not? I am a perfectly good person." She stood up, pushing Piers off of her, and put her kimono back in place. Then she scanned the room for something to drink, eyes landing on a decanter on the sideboard table. She stomped over, and poured herself a glass, and drank it quickly. A moment later she was coughing and gasping for air. Piers laughed out loud.
"Ye can't even drink proper, haw'r ye gonna fight?"
"Fight?" Oryoki turned to look upon this strange man laughing at her, and her rustled feathers were sticking up all over. She wanted to strike him but she couldn't take her eyes from him. His shirt was open, revealing a smooth and muscled chest. She had only seen Mamasan's body, and her own. Of course, at the bath, there were other women, but Oryoki looked down. This was different, this was a man, and he was not japanese. He was tall and white like her, with curly blond hair that fell around his shoulders. She had remembered the look of the english sailors, but they were so well groomed, even when they drank too much. This one was wearing a gold jewel in his ear, a medallion on his neck embedded with a ruby, and a flowing white shirt. His pants were black, and tucked into tall leather boots. His forearms were large and muscled, not like the japanese men that came to the store. She blushed and felt heat come up from her belly. Her nipples pulled in tightly and a strange feeling tugged in between her legs. Oryoki thought of those hot summer nights when she couldn't sleep, and she'd be dreaming of a man touching her body where she was naked. Now she felt it all again, across from this ruffian, this laughing idiot ruffian, this strange and handsome man. "You want me to fight? I have never hit anyone in my life!"
Piers got himself up, and rechecked for his sword in its scabbard. He couldn't take a woman who didn't have skills, and he didn't want to leave this one behind. Sometimes the men would take a wife. A pirate wife. But they still needed to learn the ways of the ship, the rules of engagement and how to handle a sword on land or at sea. He saw another sword lying by a coat laying over a trunk. He picked it up, smaller, curved, light weight, pearled handle. He handed it to her. Then he drew his sword.
"Come on, lassie. Do yer best", and he tapped the tip of her blade with his. Anger and indignation and lust filled her body, and she lunged back, hitting at his sword, striking it again and again. He moved it, she found it, the blades slicing around the room like two bolts of lightning. She was quick on her feet, and quicker with her hand. He lunged, she parried, he turned, she followed. Soon they were breathless and chasing each other around the room. Piers started laughing, and put his sword back in the scabbard, and Oryoki put hers down as well. He poured another glass of the fire water and handed it to her, this time she gulped without hesitation and didn't let out a yelp. He poured one for himself and tossed the shot back.
"Ah see yer a nat'ral, Miss lassie." He winked at her. She was flushed and flustered, the kimono dissheveled and her breasts heaving under the thin camisole nightgown she had been wearing when she had been captured. "Ah could take ye wit me, Miss lassie, but then ye would be mahn." He slipped his hand past her outer garments and curled it behind her waist, and then lower to cup her bottom, squeezing. She had never had anyone touch her there, ever, and he was so ... so.. close. She could hear her heart beating, and could hardly catch her breath.
"But you are not my husband," she replied, and she batted her eyelashes and flashed her dimples. A row of pearly white teeth showed under her petal pink lips. Piers was a goner. Flaming red hair tumbled down around her shoulders now, long lost were the shreds of muslin she had used to tie it back every night, that she had been wearing when Mr. Nakamura had taken her from her home. Her home.... Oryoki thought of her Mamasan and knew she would never see her again. They must be far from Yokohama by now. And she wasn't a girl anymore, she was 17. She was ready to be a woman.
"Tha'ht can be arranged, Ah am the cap'tin. Soo, ere you comin' or no?" Oryoki felt the flames of her desire burst into an inferno inside her. She longed to shed the remaining garments she wore and pull Piers onto her, to have him touch her everywhere, to run his golden stubble along her neck and down her back. Another noise came at the door, this time a sailor came in, also an english.
"Cap'n, dere navy's coomin'. We hafta go." The sailor looked at Piers, and then Oryoki, and turned and left. She went over to the trunk and pulled out piles of clothes and shoes, they were not hers, but she needed something more than bare feet and a shredded kimono. She pulled out a pair of men's leather boots, a bit too big, but they'd do for now. She found a wool jacket, it looked like an english soldier's. It was not a Japanese style at all, with a nipped waist, large brass buttons, a wide double breast and collar, and tails in the back. She wore it over her kimono, it would be warm. Then she pulled out the belt from a pair of pants, and strapped it around her kimono and gown. She slipped the sword into the belt, and stood facing Piers. This time she did not look down.
"What's your name?" she asked, suddenly formal, and sticking out her hand the way she would see the english greet each other. Piers laughed out loud and took her hand in his.
"It's Piers, but, ye kin call me darlin'," he said as he raised her hand to his lips. Oryoki shivered. "An' yers, me dear?"
"Ory..." she realized she would become someone else, again. Her name before she met Mamasan had been Margaret. But Oryoki was maybe too delicate a name for this new life. She would have to think of something. "For now, it's Piratoki!" Piers pulled her in and kissed her, until she was breathless. The boat could have burned down around them and neither would have noticed. He pressed himself against her body, and decided he would wait until they were somewhere nice, after a long steamy bath, before he plucked the petals of her flower. Until then, he would guard his new wife and pirate woman with all he held dear. But really, he would probably spend the rest of his keeping her close. He didn't want to think of leaving her behind anywhere, after all.
"Oookay, Piratoki. Do ye want to live a lahf a free'doom?"
She was surprised at this. Maybe she didn't understand what he meant by all the husband talk. "Yes?"
Piers knew she had no idea what real freedom tasted like, and maybe it would take a while for them to learn each other. But for now, he had to go and he was going to take her with him everywhere, anywhere. Piratoki had got her man.