|Location||Close to opposite from the space elevator|
Diarecai is perhaps most notable for what it lacks: Emissaries, stimhibitors, and Ministry agents alike are rare on the fringes and nigh-unheard of in the interior... but a visitor from even another ringdom might most be surprised by the lack of a comprehensive communications or transport infrastructure - almost all messages, freight, and passengers are carried by ponygirls (or similarly athletic slaves in different attire: see Professions, below); if there are exceptions, they are proprietary, and jealously guarded by their users: certainly not something an untrusted outsider would be given access to.
To be fair, outsiders are greeted quite cheerfully, and Diarecaians are quite hospitable overall so long as you don't ask the wrong sorts of questions (see Government); often one can't ask any questions, as your self-appointed tour guides either volunteer whatever they think you might possibly want to know, or - equally likely - happen to be wearing some sort of gag. Its inhabitants are perhaps not (quite) so slavishly adoring of men as other ringdoms, which depending on your point of view can be a point either in favor or against it, but if you do happen to be a male visitor and reasonably polite you will have no shortage of eager prospects.
If you happen to be a female visitor, a certain degree of assertiveness is recommended if you intend your visit to have an end date; if you don't have an end date for your stay in mind, it is recommended that you make one up, and mention it frequently (should you decide to stay for longer, news allowing you to extend your stay is easy to feign).
Diarecaian races are known even outside the ringdom, and are the primary form of formal competition in the ringdom. Participants are scored both on the time they took to complete the (often obstacle-strewn) course, and on the extent of their restraints during the race (particularly at the beginning).
Events can range from simple, free-for-all dashes, to team-based tournaments; while a clever freewomb might be able to win - or at least place well enough to earn a living - racing alone, the highest stakes are in the tournaments.
In these tournaments, interested masters register teams of slaves to compete, with a maximum number of slaves per team determined by the race organizers. Due to the score multipliers associated with bondage, the conventional strategy is to have one slave in the team bound to the point of total immobility, to be carried to the finishing circle by the remainder of her team (her "handlers"): points are usually tallied separately for each slave, rather than each team, so having a single high scorer counts for more than five mediocre ones.
Sabotaging other teams is an acceptable - even encouraged - way of getting ahead in a race, provided that it is (1) begun after the race has started, and (2) reversible. The simplest and most common form of sabotage is to detail one member of the team to grab on to the other team's bound slave, and try to pull her away from her handlers. More sophisticated saboteurs may instead seek to bind the handlers and slow the team down in that fashion: bindings acquired during the course of the race, rather than worn since the beginning, do not provide a score multiplier.
Less widely known, but still popular, are the arenas, in which artfully bound contestants seek to plug their competitor's orifices before succumbing to the same. The winner's prize is traditionally being taken by the (usually male) judge, but additional rewards - monetary and otherwise - are offered to both the winner and runners-up based on the restrictiveness and elegance of the bondage they competed under.
The government of Diarecai does not appreciate scrutiny, and tends to administer its favored punishment for such: Silence.
Silence, as the name suggests, is the permanent removal of a criminal's ability to speak or make hand gestures, via bondage rather than anything so barbaric as surgery. The particulars of the bindings may vary depending on the discretion of the judge and the severity of the offense.
The laws are straightforward, perhaps unusually so:
- Murder is punishable by Silence.
- Espionage on government matters is punishable by Silence.
- Theft is punishable by fine and restitution from the owner of the offender.
- Attempting to question a Silenced person regarding the circumstances of their Silence is punishable by Silence.
- Attempting to tamper with the bindings of a Silenced person is punishable by Silence.
- Sedition is punishable by Silence, with possible leniency granted for extenuating circumstances, down to as low as a month's gag.
- Attempting to counterfeit a Silence binding ("forgery") is punishable by Silence.
Once Silenced, a woman's employment prospects obviously become rather limited, as well as her resale value if she was owned at the time; there are industries that have use for the Silenced, however, generally by harnessing them to equipment specifically designed not to require the use of hands (an industry in itself).
There may, however, be more to it than that: a Silenced woman was kidnapped and removed from Diarecai in an attempt to learn more about the nature of the punishment; she actively resisted first the attempts to remove her bindings, and subsequently the attempts to question her once her gag was removed. A raid on the facility holding her succeeded before finding a truth serum that worked, which suggests that this government is prepared to go very far indeed to keep its secrets.
The personnel who worked at that facility have all either disappeared, or been witnessed among the ranks of the Silenced.
There is a notable lack of law pertaining to the treatment of slaves; it is generally regarded as the owner's business what they do with their slaves, so long as it does not break one of the above laws.
Beyond the above laws, the size of Diarecai and the relatively slow nature of most of its communications mean that it is administered as what an off-worlder might term separate provinces, with a Council of Judges in each province responsible for determining lesser crimes and their penalties.
Despite this fragmented setup, Diarecai seems to be headed by a despot who goes by either the name or title of Takarian - the fact that references to Takarian as its ruler have been found as far back as the War suggest the latter, but given the Torean aptitude for biological endeavors it may well be a single man.
No description has been found of the man, save that in fact he is one; attempts to inquire further have been met with threats of Silence.
Diarecaian cooperation with the various Ministries is sporadic and grudging at best, and outright hostile at worst. The penalty for espionage (and the sometimes nebulous problem of just what counts as espionage) means that more than a few well-meaning Ministry officials (as well as perhaps those who mean less well) have vanished, or turned up Silenced.
The Ministry of Truants in particular, to the extent that it has any presence in Diarecai, is strictly focused on retrieving runaway slaves, and usually those from other ringdoms; there is a considerable amount of friction over what the Ministry terms intransigence and what Diarecaians term snooping, or occasionally meddling... or espionage.
In the latter case a truant officer is best advised to apologize and leave before further questions are rendered impossible.
In contrast to their relations with the Ministries, Diarecai maintains unusually friendly relations with the southern AI, likely due to the proximity of its best farms, the lack of any intervening neighbors (Diarecai's northern borders abut other ringdoms rather than the badlands), and an uncomplaining Silenced workforce. It is unclear what is received in exchange for the food that goes to the pole, however, and the topic is apparently considered one of the many secrets of the government.
Diarecai and Vorruk share a border, and as such rumors and conspiracy theories - often mutually contradictory - abound about the relationship between the two secretive ringdoms. Among them are that the two ringdoms are working together in service to the AIs, that Diarecai abducts Marionettes, that Diarecai is responsible for the Marionettes, and that Diarecai is quietly at war with the Black Church.
There is little evidence of Marionettes or Black Church activity within Diarecai itself; however, it is unclear how much of this, if any, is due to hostility, and how much is due to the difficulties associated with getting any information out of either of the two ringdoms.
While there are a good deal of freewombs in Diarecai, there's no particular shame associated with being owned; neither does being a slave necessarily preclude owning slaves, which can produce tangled webs of obligations that other ringdoms enjoy mocking, preferably while well away from Diarecaian borders... which are ever so slightly fuzzy. Jokes notwithstanding, ownership loops (off-worlders might call these "marriages") are generally precluded by the requirement that the previous owner consent to the sale.
A few of the more striking common professions include:
- Aside from walking, these women are the principal means of delivering people from point A to point B; the more established ones provide their own coaches or carriages, while the newer recruits to the profession must rent such. A ponygirl hiring on with a team is expected to match the team's outfit; most ponygirl teams wear hooves and some form of arm binding along with the traditional bit gag, but there are exceptions, generally owing to an owner's taste. The bit itself is traditionally used to signal whether a ponygirl is available: to hire one, simply fasten the bit in her mouth; remove it once you arrive.
- To call these women "prostitutes" would imply a stigma that does not in fact exist; neither does it encompass the whole of what they do. Often they will work in concert with ponygirls to direct a visitor to the more interesting or intimate locales, and when it comes to bindings that cannot be put on or removed without help, these are the ones to talk (or grunt, or moan) to. Their traditional attire is a ring gag and collar, with fashion and personal style dictating the use or lack of gloves, boots, or body paint.
- It is also common for pleasurers to own - and sell - assistants, who wear more extensive bindings in addition to matching the gag and collar of their mistress. Indeed, many pleasurers - reputable and otherwise - double as auctioneers, matching slaves to likely buyers. It is not unheard of for a wealthy freewomb to pay to be an assistant to a particular pleasurer with the understanding that she will then be sold to an appropriately desirable master or mistress.
- Similar to ponygirls, couriers are hired to get things from point A to point B; usually these things are messages, though occasionally they will be packages too small to bother a ponygirl for. Their gag is a combination of panel and ball, with the former serving as a slate to write her destination and intended recipient on, and the latter allowing her to keep it from being removed by any except the intended recipient.
- Couriers seeking higher fees will often wear arm bindings to advertise that they will not (cannot) read the messages you send with them, and a few - the most experienced with a locale, usually - wear blindfolds to advertise their discretion with regards to the identity of the sender. The messages themselves may be stored anywhere on a courier's body (inside the womb is a common choice), but any key for an encrypted message is generally printed on the inside of the gag.
- It might be more accurate to call them "trendsetters" due to the disproportionate number of them selling clothes, restraints, or toys; this is likely related to the fact that they are expected to model their wares to (or with) their customers. Due to this, there is no "traditional" gag for shopkeepers - only whatever they're modeling at the time.
- While not perhaps unique to Diarecai, these women are tasked with maintaining and communicating with the various devices - mechanical, electronic, or otherwise - that are ubiquitous in modern galactic societies, with a distinctly Torean approach: their hands (and often forearms) are encased in sturdy mitts to prevent external jostling from interfering with the subtle haptic commands and requests of their profession, while their tongues transmit their own inputs into customized mouthguards.
- As with the previous professions listed here, the accoutrements described - in Diarecai at least - may or may not be removable by the wearer, and usually aren't when it comes to slaves.
Men in Diarecai are a diverse lot, but they are just as subject to the laws of Diarecai as any woman - a perhaps unusual situation among the ringdoms, and one that results in very few male visitors from other, "less civilized" ringdoms.
One might even say their situation is even more constrained: you will meet no Silenced men on the streets of Diarecai... but neither will you meet very many male lawbreakers. Of the four journalists who, on separate occasions, attempted to discover the reason for this, two were Silenced before their findings could be made public; another one, male, simply vanished. The last delivered a somewhat cryptic message, by courier: "There are rights, and there are privileges." Further attempts to interview her were rebuffed by her new owner.
Nevertheless - or perhaps because of this integrity - they are held in high esteem by most women in Diarecai, and to be owned by one is considered a point of pride. To be sold by one, conversely, carries more shameful connotations unless the man in question specifically vouches for their worth during the auction.
Bondage is as much a fashion accessory as an instrument of discipline here, if not more so. Gags, collars, or various other accessories may be styled as indicating loyalty to (or ownership by) a particular faction (or individual), or, more rarely, indicating that one is affluent enough to let one's slaves do all the actual work.
Gags in particular, while worn, are often used to signal that a woman is presently "on assignment" (see Professions) - with a ponygirl, for example, one is expected to leave the bit fastened if one wishes to travel further with her later, or to remove it if finished. Depending on how well the owner trusts their slave, or the nature of the profession, the gag may or may not be removable.
The streets of Diarecai's more urban areas, therefore, are populated by an eclectic mix of bound and unbound women, often with the one half leashed by the other; the rare man who finds himself on foot rather than in a carriage or coach may well be taken aback by the sheer number of women who accost him, variously begging, suggesting, or stopping just shy of demanding that he take them on as his ponygirl - men, it seems, are expected to ride, or at the very least take a pleasurer along if they would rather stroll.
As one travels to the more rural, agrarian provinces, the crowds vanish, or perhaps more accurately are preoccupied out in the fields. Here is where the majority of the Silenced are put to work, harnessed singly or in groups to pull otherwise-automated farming equipment across the gently rolling landscape.