My vacation in Bali was exactly what I needed, after a disappointing end to the competitive season. At age 38, that year's Australian race was possibly the last chance of my career to be on the World's podium, and I felt that I could have achieved such a dream without the mechanical issue that affected my bike.
I was in the best shape of my life, and I didn't feel old. But injuries had become an increasingly difficult challenge, while my younger competitors seemed to have much faster recovery times.
Anyway, Bali gave me the breathing room that I needed to regroup, recover and plan the rest of my life.
I spent the first week with my adored girlfriend Hannah, whose support had been invaluable through the highs and lows of those past few years. We spent time on the beach, toured the island on a rental scooter through the crazy traffic, visited beautiful temples.
When she flew back to Europe, I had a second week all by myself before having to meet my team in Singapore. I spent time meditating, and I kept active with some easy swims and runs. I didn't dare assembling my bicycle, or I would probably have gotten killed on the island's crowded roads.
I also attended a few yoga classes, where I discovered a deeper spiritual meaning to the practice. The teacher was a skilled local woman, helped by two younger assistants who kept roaming the room and offering helpful tips to the students. One of them was a petite Balinese girl who did not speak any English, but was still able to offer me guidance through the power of touch. She was not the most attractive woman I had seen on the island, but I felt entranced by her energy and intrigued by her assertive way of directing my practice: when she thought that my hands were not held flat enough on the wooden floor, she stepped on them with her pretty bare feet. A little later she invited me to bend my back deeper as I worked in a cat-cow pose, initially by applying pressure with her hand and then – when not satisfied – with her knee. There was something about her touch on my body that I absolutely loved. She kept looking at my cat-cow while helping my neighbor, then she walked back to me and she straddled my back with her full weight: it was clear that she wanted me to lift her up as I arched my back, and to let my back sag deeply under her when bending. I found myself wishing that she would never dismount, as I felt her butt and crotch on my powerful back moving at once with me, and I saw her pretty feet hanging in the air whenever I made my back taller through the cat pose. Unfortunately we then moved into a downward facing dog pose, which I performed with my petite rider on my back, allowing her to slide down my diagonal back and move on to the next student.
I kept looking at her throughout the class, trying to make eye contact. At the end of class I smiled at her on my way out, but all I got in return was a polite bow with joint hands. Was it just me feeling a connection there?
A few days later, reluctantly leaving Bali, I loaded my luggage and gear on the first of the fast ferries that would eventually take me to Singapore. You may call me old-fashioned, but I prefer avoiding flights whenever there is a viable alternative.
I spent my time reading books on my Kindle, then I got up to use the restroom and I almost bumped into another passenger. It took me a second to recognize her without yoga clothing, but it was the teaching assistant from the classes I had attended! Sadly I had no way to communicate with her, but she clearly recognized me and we acknowledged each other with a little smile and the ever-present bow of our heads. I wondered where she was headed. Perhaps another Indonesian island? Was she traveling with someone who spoke English and could act as a translator? I was dying to know more about this girl, but the moment passed. Later I saw that she was sitting next to a young Balinese man, who was deep asleep.
I tried to take a nap as well, but it's hard to rest well on a passenger seat when you are 6'2", with broad shoulders and long legs. Eventually I gave up. As I was bent down to put my sleep mask back into my backpack, I heard the quick steps of someone running and I saw a pair of pretty feet in flip-flops flashing by. I recognized them immediately and I turned around: it was her. It looked like she was running away from something, and it sounded like she was crying. I got up and followed her, but I lost sight of her until I looked in the most improbable place: the open deck upstairs, where nobody had been going because it was constantly splashed by the waves of today's choppy ocean.
She was arguing with the young man who had been sleeping in the seat next to hers. He could have been her boyfriend, husband, or perhaps her brother. There was nobody on the deck, except the three of us.
"Is everything okay? Do you need help?" I asked.
Neither one of them seemed to understand a word, but they turned around to look at me. Her expression seemed surprised, while he simply looked annoyed by my intrusion. I just wanted to make sure she was okay. I felt irrationally drawn to this young woman, as if Bali's Gods were asking me to protect her.
That's when I felt a sudden vibration under my feet, that quickly increased to a point where we looked at each other as if asking: "What's going on?"
Then came the blast, and I found myself flying through air that became yellow and red and so hot, until I could no longer see and I was deep underwater, with my ears in pain.
I opened my eyes, but I was completed disoriented. So I just let some air out of my mouth and I followed the bubbles. Once on the surface, the scene before my eyes was terrifying: the boat was completely enveloped in flames and had a huge hole right in the middle. I swam in that direction to see if I could help anyone, but the heat coming from the fire was way too much and I had to stop. I could barely hear anything, but I looked around me and I saw a man perched on a floating piece of wood that looked like a large fragment from the ferry's bar. He waved to attract my attention, then he pointed to his left with an open palm. "What does that mean?" I thought, until I saw her: a woman struggling to swim, as the waves threatened to envelop her. I swam in her direction as fast as I could, but once I got there she was nowhere to be seen, so I dove and looked for her underwater despite the low visibility. She spotted me before I saw her. She grabbed my shirt, attracting my attention so I could pull her up to the surface and then take her to the floating piece of wood. I carried her backwards like a lifeguard, with her back against my chest and an arm around her chest to hold her chin and face out of the water.
Once I helped her climb on top next to the man, using my body as a ladder for her feet, I realized that it was the three of us from the upper deck: we must have been ejected into the ocean, and it looked like we might have been the only survivors. I suddenly felt exhausted, but it was not time to let my adrenaline go down yet: we were still dangerously close the the burning ferry, and it was clear that neither of my companions were good swimmers, so I placed my forearms on the wooden platform and I started kicking in the water with all my might, effectively acting as a motor for the little improvised raft.
The girl thanked me with a sweet caress on my face, then she wrapped herself in the man's arms as she started shaking, out of pure fear and shock. I kept swimming for them for about 10 minutes as they basically ignored me. There was barely enough space for the two of them, so I was going to stay in the water until someone came to rescue us.
I took a break once I felt that we were safely distant from the burning vessel, and I turned around just in time to see it sink into the choppy ocean. The three of us looked at each other in despair: all we could see now was the ocean, and a cloudy sky. There was no point in swimming in a random direction, so I decided to save my energy and simply float there, with my forearms on the wooden platform and the rest of my body in the water.
We spent the next few hours in silence, occasionally looking at each other with blank expressions. My two Balinese companions occasionally exchanged some words, and they changed positions a few times trying to get comfortable. Eventually they settled for what roughly looked like a sukhasana (the easiest yoga sitting pose), with their backs against each other for balance and comfort. My arms were resting on her side, close to her feet. That's when I noticed that one of her ankles was swelling up. As I looked at it, she noticed it as well for the first time and she said something to the man, who in turn looked at me with an alarming expression and gestured for me to take my t-shirt off. As he tore it to pieces to make a bandage for the young woman's ankle, I wondered why it couldn't have been his t-shirt, but it didn't really matter: my body was mostly submerged anyway.
As soon as he was done with the bandage, he looked up at the horizon and he stared at something open-mouthed. Then he pointed in that direction, shouting something completely unintelligible. I gestured for him to get down and they went back to sitting against each other, looking in opposite directions as before. Once I felt that their position was stable enough, I placed my hands on the wood and pushed myself up until my upper body was out of the ocean. I could only do that for one or two seconds, or the platform would have capsized, but it was enough to spot a small island in the direction where the man had pointed. I got back into the water, placed my forearms by the woman's crossed legs and started swimming with my legs, pushing us in that direction.
I kept swimming for at least an hour, but it looked like we were barely making any progress. At least the ocean was starting to calm down, so I could see our destination more clearly. Occasionally the man would point at the island and bark some words at me in a tone that sounded like orders. "Shut up, you idiot," I found myself whispering. I think the girl understood my tone of voice, because she gave me a little smile of understanding that encouraged me to renew my efforts.
I kept kicking and kicking. I could have definitely reached the island within a few hours by swimming freely, but I could only use my legs if I wanted to keep pushing the platform and save my two companions. And while in an extreme situation I would probably have abandoned the man to save my life, I felt deep inside that I would willingly die trying to save this enchanting young woman.
A few hours later I was completely exhausted: as a professional athlete I have plenty of strength and endurance, but I am also used to a very large intake of nutritious calories. Now I felt like I was starving, and getting cold. It was also starting to get dark, and there was no chance that we were going to reach the island before sunset.
I had no choice but to keep going, until I found myself having to follow the stars to make sure I was swimming in the right direction. Just as I was starting to doubt my ability to take the three of us all the way to the island, something remarkable happened: the girl and I made eye contact, as she looked at me with a serious expression and an intensity made even stronger by the dim moonlight.
Then – without breaking eye contact – she firmly placed the sole of her bare foot on top of my forearm. I felt a shiver run down my spine, and I was sure that she was communicating with me. This petite young woman was taking ownership of me with her feminine power and superior inner strength, telling me that my stronger body was at her service, and it was going to push her all the way to the island because she demanded it. I felt delirious with tiredness, yet overwhelmed with a desire to obey and please this dominant little angel.
I gave a little kiss to her foot, then I looked up at her again. She was still serious, intensely looking into my eyes. I kissed her pretty foot again and again, delicately and adoringly, then I pushed my forehead against the wood between my forearms and I started kicking harder. In response, she placed her foot on top of my head.
Looking back, that is the moment when I first submitted to her. There was going to be no way back.
From that moment, I started referring to her as Princess in my mind. And as I worked through my exhaustion to push her toward the island, my Princess spurred me on and encouraged me throughout the night with the pressure of her beautiful feet on my hands, forearms, shoulders and head, as well as with words that sounded very much like confident commands to a loyal steed. I found myself wishing that she could mount me and ride me like the Little Mermaid on a seahorse.
We made it to the island shortly after sunrise. When I finally touched the ocean floor with my toes, I couldn't believe it and I started crying with joy. The Princess wiped away my tears with her toes, and I kissed her feet repeatedly, to thank her for giving me the motivation to complete the longest swim of my life.
That's when the man, who had been mostly quiet, gestured for me to move to his side of our little raft. The Princess looked at me and nodded, as if commanding me to obey him. So of course I did. He mounted my shoulders and rode me to the beach while I pulled the raft with the Princess on board.
That's when I decided to refer to this entitled Balinese man as the Prince, not without some irony, given that I had no desire to serve him except for the purpose of pleasing my Princess. Also I started really thinking that they must be brother and sister, given how much they looked alike.
We finally made it to the shore, where they sat down on the sand while I collapsed in exhaustion. But the little Prince was not done with me: he wanted me to pull our raft onto the beach, so that the ocean would not take it away. After I did that, they stood up and we all seemed to agree on walking up to the edge of a thick jungle, where we could rest in the shade of some palm trees. However it was immediately clear that the Princess could not walk easily with her swollen ankle, so I motioned to pick her up in a cradle and carry her. Before I could even touch her back and legs with my arms, the Prince hit me with his hand on a side and yelled at me, while gesturing for me to get down on my knees.
"What the hell?" I thought. I could easily have overpowered this man, but I was too tired to argue and I just wanted to take the Princess to a safe and comfortable place. So I obeyed as he made me kneel, then get down on all-fours. At that point the Princess sat on my back, with her feet hanging right in front of my face. As tired as I was, I felt so happy to feel her weight on my back again, after those few seconds at the yoga class a few days earlier.
The Prince started walking and – without any need for further commands – I followed his footprints on the sand, carrying the woman on my back like an obedient beast of burden. Although delighted by the pleasure of carrying my Princess, and tired beyond reason, I started wondering what made these two people feel entitled to my submission. Perhaps they were part of a higher group in Bali's caste society, and considered me inferior since I was a foreigner. Or did they simply see my strong body – so much larger than theirs – as a resource to tame and exploit just as if I was an animal?
I closed my tired eyes for a few seconds as I kept crawling, assuming that the Prince would keep going straight toward the woods, but the Princess grabbed a fistful of my hair and pulled it to right to order me to turn. Apparently the man didn't like the area where we had landed, so we proceeded on the sandy beach for another 20 minutes until he found a spot that he deemed satisfactory.
My Princess was not very heavy, but at this point I would have been tired even if I had been crawling without any burden. However, when we finally stopped in the shade of some palm trees, she made no motion to dismount. So I just stayed there for several minutes, serving as her human chair while the Prince seemed to be using some large leaves to create a place for us to lay down. Then he took a break, walked to me and squatted down to check out his sister's swollen ankle. He didn't even look at me or acknowledged my existence, as if I was an actual chair, until he grabbed one of my wrists and pulled it upwards. I followed his request – out of curiosity if nothing else – as he made me lift my right hand and use it to grab the elbow of the left arm, so that my right forearm would be parallel to the ground. He had just created a footrest for the comfort of my Princess, who immediately placed both her feet on my right forearm. I was now a three-legged human chair, exhausted after swimming through the night with two other humans in tow, and I started wondering how long it would be until I collapsed. But then the Princess acknowledged my devotion with a brief caress on my head, and I responded by repeatedly kissing her feet, grateful for the honor of using whatever was left of my energy in her service.
Eventually the Prince was done with his preparations, and I was actually impressed by his manual skills: in little over 30 minutes he had built a small temporary shelter using branches, tying them with vines and covering the whole structure with leaves. The Princess took her feet off my forearm and stood up on one foot with her brother's help. That's when I realized that both my arms had gone almost numb, the left by single-handedly sustaining most of the Princess' weight, and the right by holding on to the other in order to offer her a comfortable footrest.
"Now what? I just want to sleep," I thought as the Prince gestured for me to follow them. Thankfully, he made me lay on my back on some of those large leaves inside his improvised shelter. Well, at least he had enough sense to understand that I needed to rest. Then – while the Princess waited standing on one foot – he slightly lifted my feet and skillfully used a vine to tie my ankles to the tree that served as main pillar for the shelter. Despite my delirious exhaustion, I was about to protest when I realized the purpose of what he had done: the Princess sat on my abdomen, rested her legs on my chest, and laid with her back and head against the slight incline of my own legs. I even thought of placing my arms right above my head, so that she could rest her heels against the palms of my hands. This divine creature was entirely on top of me, and I felt so privileged as I drifted into a deep sleep.
It was dark when I first woke up. I must have slept all day! The Princess was also sleeping, still on top of me, though she was now resting on her side in a fetal position. This meant that her feet were also laying on their sides, one on my chest and the other on my throat. I didn't want to wake her up – we all needed plenty of rest – but I slowly rotated my head laterally and toward her until I could place a soft kiss on the bottom of her big toe. In response, she moved her foot slightly and pushed that toe into my mouth. I soon fell asleep while holding it between my lips like a pacifier.
What was going on with me? Why was I drawn into so much adoration for this woman? I had always been a bit of a feminist, and not a stranger to some D/s games as a switch, but this was a level of psychological subservience that I had never experienced before. No matter what, I was not going to let her go. My new Princess was literally all I had in the world right now, and I was even going to let her stupid brother boss me around if that allowed me to be in her service.
It was sunrise when I woke up again. Had I just slept for over 20 hours? The Princess was no longer on top of me, and my ankles had been untied. I really needed to use the bathroom, so I walked out of the shelter and into the jungle to find a private spot when I saw my two companions. The man seemed about to get up and walk to me – perhaps afraid that I would abandon them – but his sister put a hand on his arm to stop him and said a few words. If I had to guess, they probably meant: "Don't worry, my new slave would never abandon his Princess."
After taking care of my business in the woods, I ran into the ocean to somehow wash myself off, then I joined the two siblings in the shade. The Princess was sitting on what looked like a small throne, made of bamboo tied with vines. It was clear that the Prince had wasted no time putting his impressive manual skills to use! The throne even had armrests and a backrest, some sort of cushion made out of leaves, and a little umbrella on top. Without even thinking, I got down on my knees before the Princess and looked down at her feet. Her ankle seemed to be doing better, although it was still a little swollen. She rewarded my manners and subservience by handing me a few bananas that I immediately devoured, suddenly aware of my extreme hunger. Then the Prince handed me some coconut to eat, and he let me drink milk out of a coconut on which he has somehow managed to carve a hole.
The food in my stomach made me feel much better, and I was ready to figure out what to do next to survive this ordeal. But I suddenly realized something: even though I was an athlete with many endurance events under his belt, I knew very little about surviving in the wild. Without the Prince, I would probably have had only a few bananas to eat and nothing to drink. So I'd better stick with him, and not just to protect and serve my newfound Princess: if he was going to use my strength like on the previous day, perhaps that would complement his manual skills to get us out of this situation. So I was going to swallow some of his bossy ways (together with my pride) and try my best to be collaborative. After all, the lack of a common language made any negotiations impossible: it was always a choice between obeying or walking away. My resolve was soon going to be severely tested though.
The Prince gestured for me to get down on all fours and follow him behind the throne where his sister was sitting, then to take off my shorts (which left me with nothing but a Speedo), lay flat on my belly and slide with my body beneath it. As I obeyed, I realized that the throne was more like a howdah – a kind of large lifted saddle used in several countries to ride large animals like elephants and camels (see main photo above) – and I was about to be ridden just like one of them. Once he was satisfied with my position, he ordered me to get up on all fours, which I did carefully in order to lift the Princess as gently as possible. I wish I could feel my Princess' butt and thighs on my back like on the previous day, but the howdah was relatively comfortable on my back: the Prince had carefully wrapped the bamboo with leaves containing some sort of padding. Besides, the Princess immediately placed a foot on my shoulder blades and the other on my head: she was sitting high enough that my back was like a floor for her, just as it happens for people riding elephants or camels. The touch of her bare feet immediately soothed me, as I felt only pleasure and fulfillment out of a gesture that most people would have found humiliating. I was her property, honored to be used as a pack animal for her comfort.
The Prince needed to slightly adjust the position of the howdah on my back, so he gave his sister a hand and let her stand up on her healthy foot, that was now placed right between my shoulder blades and my neck. I just stayed there on all-fours, steady and patient like a tamed animal. Within a few seconds she sat down again, this time letting one foot hang next to my face while the other rested on my head. I kissed the first foot, ecstatic to feel her soft skin under my lips, while the Prince took his time fastening the howdah to my back by tying some vines around my chest very tightly, then some more around my shoulders and even over my sacrum and then around my thighs. I was wearing nothing but my Speedo at this point. Then he squatted in front of me, took me by surprise by stuffing a thin piece of wood into my mouth, and before I realized what was happening, I had a vine tied around my head and two long ones going back toward the howdah: I had just been bridled, and the bit was uncomfortably tight in my mouth. This was going too far! I had been feeling like a willing collaborator until that moment – albeit compelled into some very hard and subservient labor – but now I was really being treated like an animal. My instinct was to fight this, but there was no way I was going to endanger the Princess who was still on my back. I am sure the bastard was counting on that, and he had intentionally made me lift her before anything else. The Princess must have sensed my tension, because she soothed me by rubbing her foot against my hair for a few seconds. "I am doing this for you, divine woman" I found myself thinking.
I had been on all fours for at least 30 minutes with the Princess on my back, when the Prince was finally ready to start moving. I expected him to walk ahead of me like on the previous day, but instead he stepped behind me and went out of my field of view. Then I felt the bottom of one of his feet on my sacrum, followed by the other foot and all of his weight. He was now standing on top of me, and probably keeping his balance by holding the howdah's backrest with his hand. Was he just testing his handiwork? He certainly wasn't planning on riding me together with his sister, was he? She was the injured one, not him.
I felt my right bridle pulling. I wondered why I had to wear such an uncomfortably tight bit, which hurt my mouth and made me drool uncontrollably, but this was my Princess commanding me, so I did not hesitate to turn around on the spot under the weight of my two Riders. Hopefully the man would now dismount, I thought. Instead, he hit my right thigh with a long flexible stick. The son of a bitch had made himself a whipping cane! I screamed in pain through the bit, in shock, but when he hit me twice more and even harder, I started crawling beneath my two Masters.
The Princess led me toward the ocean, then she steered me so that we would travel parallel to the shore on wet sand, where my hands and knees would not sink as much. That was certainly helpful, but their combined weight on my back kept feeling heavier and heavier. I guess she must have weighed about 115 lbs, while he was at least 140 lbs, so the total burden on my back was more than my own body weight! But the worst part was that the Prince kept hitting me with his cane at least once a minute, sometimes to make sure that I kept his desired speed, some other times seemingly just to remind me that he was in charge and I was his beast of burden.
We kept going for hours. I had no idea what we were looking for, or for how much longer I would be ridden. Once in a while I would get a short break, during which the Prince would step down and I was allowed to get down on my elbows to give my arms a little rest. The Princess never dismounted, probably because they knew I would never try to rebel as long as it could risk hurting her, but during the breaks she sat on my neck and put her feet on my forearms, so she could take off my bit and hand-feed me some coconut. I ate out of her hands, licked them clean, then docilely allowed her to place the bit back into my mouth.
She was using me like an animal, but she knew how to make me feel grateful for the honor of serving her. Her brother – on the other hand – ruled through fear and pain. When he decided that a break was over, he kicked me in the ribs to order me to get up on all fours, then he stepped back up onto my sacrum and hit me with the cane to get me going.
I kept wondering what we would look like to an observer. Here's an athletic white man, enslaved and ridden on all fours by two Balinese people: a woman sitting on a howdah and controlling him with bridles, while using his head and shoulders as a footstool, and a man standing behind her on the slave's lower back, hitting him mercilessly with a cane to demand more speed as they ride him for hours and hours.
Somehow I didn't even resent them though. I saw my Princess as a divine creature worthy of any sacrifice, and the Prince as an irritating but necessary evil whose skills were necessary to keep the Princess safe through this ordeal.
On the third break, I really didn't know how much longer I could endure. My riders probably sensed my exhaustion, because they let me rest a little longer and the Princess gave me a larger quantity of coconut to eat. Once I was done eating, I kissed her feet and something inside me just snapped: I started crying like a baby, letting my tears flow all over her feet. I was broken, mentally as well as physically. I missed my life, my girlfriend, and anyone who could speak my same language and didn't want to treat me like a slave.
My Princess consoled me with some sweet rubs on my head, letting her fingers through my hair. The Prince – on the other hand – saw my breakdown as an opportunity to rebuild me into a more submissive slave. In hindsight, I guess he needed to make sure that I did not rebel once the Princess eventually dismounted my back. So once she sat back up onto the howdah, instead of ordering me up on all fours, he walked right in front of me and stood right by my face. I was not sure what to expect, when he hit my shoulders cruelly with his cane. I moaned in pain, but I was not sure what he wanted from me. So he hit me again and again, as hard as he could, until I started sobbing again. What was happening? Then I felt the Princess' foot on my head, pressing it down until my lips touched the Prince's foot. He hit me again, and I kissed his foot. He hit me harder, and I kissed both of his feet several times. He hit me again and again, and I started licking the sand away from the top of his feet. He wanted me to submit to him. He knew that I was devoted to his sister out of adoration, so he needed to earn my devotion to him out of fear. He wanted me to respond to his abuse with outright worship, and in my broken state that's exactly what I did: he kicked me hard in the face, and I immediately kissed the foot that had just hit me. He slapped my face over and over again, and every time I kissed his hand without hesitation.
Then he put the bit back into my mouth, placed a foot on my head and pushed it down until my forehead was on the sand. I didn't dare moving from this awkward position, down on my elbows with my face in the sand. Then he said something to the Princess, who stepped on my head and down onto the sand with his help. I saw him take the cushion off the howdah and place it on the sand, so she could sit on it. For the first time in hours I had nobody on my back, but it didn't last long: the Prince stepped heavily on my head, sat on the howdah and pulled my bridles hard to get me up on all fours. Then he rode me back and forth in the most punishing and abusive way, hitting me hard with his cane on my shoulders, making me turn suddenly with sharp tugs of the reins, then hitting me again until I was carrying him as fast as I possibly could. He wanted to prove that I would serve him even without the Princess' involvement, and I did so with complete devotion, letting him abuse me and thanking him with more foot kisses when he finally dismounted.
I carried both of them for at least another hour after that, until I heard him say something to the Princess with an excited tone of voice, and jump off my back just as she reined me to a stop. He ran up toward the trees, while I waited by the ocean with his sister on my back. A few minutes later I heard him call for her. She pulled my left rein, turning me toward the trees, and then she realized that she didn't have the only tool they had used so far to spur me on: the Prince's cruel cane. Probably unsure on how to order me to move, she resorted to hitting the back of my head twice with the bottom of her foot. I took the hint and started moving. I was beyond exhausted and now crawling on hot soft sand, but she wanted more speed nonetheless as her brother kept calling for her excitedly, so I got kicked on my head over and over again by her adorable yet merciless feet. When we finally made it up there, I suddenly knew what we had been trying to find all day long: a source of freshwater. The Princess rode me straight into the small lake created by a river coming down a nearby mountain, until my chest started touching the water. Then she took a step down to sit on my shoulders, straddling my neck with her legs splashing into the water. She took some water in her hands to wash her face and drink, then she rinsed my hair and took my bit out of my mouth to let me drink. I could hear her overjoyed voice and I felt proud for having carried her all the way there. Then her brother walked up to us, hugged her and looked down at me. He made a fist with one of his hands and held it in front of me. I promptly kissed it, and I thought: "You are a cruel Master, but you have proven to be our skillful leader and I respect you for that. I will be your obedient and devoted slave, trusting that even your most merciless abuse will be meant for our ultimate common good."