Priestess – Chapter 2: Deciding
The High Priestess stepped forward as the crowd hushed. Aliera held her breath, every fibre of her being taut, she must hear Kevan’s name.
“The candidates have all done well in this part of the test. There is no clear winner. I will now speak to each in turn before I decide.”
This time the candidates were brought up the marble steps, past the Royal Enclosure to the area reserved for the High Priestess and her attendants. Tiarna withdrew into a screened section at the back, a small withdrawing room to give some privacy for rest or more intimate moments. The attendants lit lamps containing scented oils, a special blend that would cause the contestants to relax and answer with total honesty.
The miner, Brenn, was first. He stepped into the small room, blinking as he came out of the bright sunlight. Tiarna studied him; not tall but neat and well-muscled. He waited patiently for her to speak, enjoying the scented air. “You are not a young man, the girl could be your daughter – or even grand-daughter. Why did you decide to enter the contest?”
He thought for a moment, looking for the words, “Well my lady it’s like this. I never expected I’d win, but I wanted to show that I could do more than just swing a pick. My woman’s been gone now nigh on fifteen years, the children have children of their own, and I wanted to do more than dig ore. Just once I could stand in the sunlight and people would see more than an old man who tunnelled in the dark.” He stopped, surprised at his own eloquence.
“And what do you think are the most important qualities for the consort of the High Priestess?”
“Well, my lady, I think he should give her the strength she needs. And the discipline. Every woman needs to be protected, sometimes from herself. My woman – ah she was a woman, raised six children, worked as a weaver, and grew most of our food on land by the house – well she’d get so het up sometimes, so busy with everything, she’d snap at me and yell at the children. Then I’d put her over my knee and warm her backside until she cried it all away, and she’d be free as a bird after. If she thought she needed attention that I wasn’t giving her, I’d find her hairbrush on my pillow. Liked a bit of attention she did. And good loving after.”
“And did you enjoy the contest?”
“Well my lady, it was good enough, and they were very nice girls, thanked me afterwards each one did, and I was pleased to get this far, but – well – ” he shuffled his feet uncertainly.
“Yes? You can say anything in here, so long as it is true. There can be no penalty for speaking the truth.”
“Well, lady, they was just – girls. My old woman, she was a fine build of a woman. Wonderful proud form she had, something a man could really get a grip on.” Unconsciously his hands cupped the air, “Full-bodied you might say. Those young girls today, a man’s afraid he might break them. Nothing to them. I thought today might remind me of our times together, but, well, it was good enough, I’m not criticizing, but – ”
“But something was missing? You didn’t feel comfortable with them?”
He nodded eagerly, “Exactly right lady, it just didn’t seem comfortable.”
“Thank you for your honesty. My servants will give you some refreshments while I speak to the other contestants.”
Brenn hurried out, relieved it was over, to be replaced by the blacksmith, Jek-Tar. A huge man, young and vigorous, muscles rippled with every move.
“So young man, why did you decide to enter the contest?”
“My lady, I am the strongest in our village, and I have much experience in giving discipline. I knew I could do well, and I thought the Goddess might smile on me. A man must try his best, for the honour of his village.”
“And what is it that the consort of the High Priestess must do?”
“He must provide guidance and discipline, do whatever he must do to keep her working properly for the goddess.”
“What sort of discipline do you provide?”
“Those who need discipline are brought to me to carry out the sentence of the village elders. I just carry out their orders.”
“You punish anyone? Everyone?”
“Most of the men in our village are away fighting in the King’s wars. When they return they are soldiers, and follow their own forms of discipline. Children are punished by their parents. But women, young and old, especially those whose men are away, they need a firm hand and a strong arm.”
They were brought to the forge by the village constable, he’d announce the sentence and wait to see it carried out. Often a small crowd of friends, or those who laid the complaint, would come along to witness the punishment. The village was the main centre for the whole region and the blacksmith’s work was well known throughout the area, many distant farms and outlying hamlets sent their miscreants to the elders for justice. The day before he left he’d heard the noise outside, even above the ringing of the hammer on the anvil as he pounded the horse-shoe into shape.
The constable was bringing two young women down the road, followed by an interested crowd. Jek-Tar didn’t know the girls, they were from a smaller settlement in the hills. One, a tall, willowy brunette, strode along with her head high, attempting to show no emotion. The other, shorter and slighter than the brunette, was fighting the constable every step of the way. Her blonde hair flew in all directions as she scratched, kicked and bit, all the while yelling at the top of her lungs. Just as they drew level with the forge the constable lost his grip on the virago, who lifted her skirts and ran for her life. Many in the crowd gave chase, and for the next half-hour she led them in a riotous game of hide-and-seek around the village, as she tried desperately to escape. Finally cornered, she fought tooth and nail, all the while screaming abuse at her captors. Eventually she was bound and gagged, and carried still struggling to the forge.
The blacksmith had calmly finished the set of horseshoes and banked the fire, ready to perform his other duties. The constable stepped forward, wiped a trickle of blood from a scratch on his face and cleared his throat, “The elders have spoken in this case. These two young women were disturbing the peace, using language unsuitable to their gender and station. They were each sentenced to receive the discipline of the strap, ten strokes.” The brunette shuddered slightly. The blacksmith felt a little surprise, ten was a heavy sentence for such an offence, the argument must have been loud, long and lewd. He looked to the constable, who added, “There is some dispute over a young man’s affections. He has just been betrothed to this young lady,” nodding at the brunette, “But he had previously been – er – friendly with the other.” The blonde bundle on the ground wriggled and made furious noises through the gag. “They had a discussion in the market-place which became an argument and, well, they have both been sentenced to discipline.”
Jek-Tar shrugged, he just carried out the sentences. He gestured to the brunette to follow him to a bench near the front of the forge. The onlookers spread out, jockeying for good viewing positions. The girl was obviously nervous, but trying to be dignified; she walked stiff-legged to the bench. He motioned her to the side facing the audience, they’d see her face as she was punished, but not her private charms. The constable hovered close, ready to hold her down if need be.
“Remove your underthings and raise your skirts.”
She paled, but she knew that was coming, and she knew that she couldn’t fight it. Fumbling in embarrassment she reached under her skirts to untie the laces of her drawers, soon they were in a heap around her feet. Trembling now, she raised the back of her skirts until he could see the target area. Gently he nudged her over the bench, she bent over and reached out to grip the edges tightly.
Jek-Tar took the punishment strap from its nail on the wall. Two feet long, three inches wide, thick heavy leather on a wooden handle. He didn’t want to draw out the waiting for her, so he took up position and raised the strap. The watchers drew breath ready to give the count.
CRACK! The girl gasped as the crowd chanted, “One!”
CRACK! “Two!” She tried to muffle a yelp.
CRACK! “Three!” CRACK! “Four!” The girl was crying out at each blow, her feet stamping the ground.
CRACK! “Five!” CRACK! “Six!” CRACK! “Seven!” Tears rolled down her face, she was yelling out at each stroke, her bottom a mass of thick welts.
CRACK! “Eight!” CRACK! “Nine!” The girl sobbed loudly, but managed to keep her grip on the table, knuckles white.
CRACK!!!!! “TEN!!” The crowd shouted in triumph as the girl lay her head down on the bench and wailed. He gave her a few minutes to compose herself, then nodded to some of the watching women who hurried forward to comfort the girl and help her off the bench.
Then he turned to the other girl. He reached down to hook her bound hands and drag her upright. The constable bent and untied her feet, and was promptly kicked in the face for his trouble. Jek-Tar wrestled the girl over the bench and pulled her wrists to the end, tying them to a convenient hook placed ready for situations like this. She kicked wildly until Jek-Tar and the constable, working together, tied her ankles to the legs of the bench. Much shorter than the brunette, the blonde’s feet barely brushed the ground. In the struggle to get her on the bench she’d ended up facing the opposite way to the previous spankee, the audience were going to get a good show.
Jek-Tar lifted the girl’s skirts over her back. She squirmed desperately, shook her head and made frantic noises into the gag. He tried to untie the laces on her drawers, then lost patience and tore them away. The crowd were silent for a moment, viewing her plump cheeks and smooth thighs. Her position on the table, legs stretched wide and tied down, also gave the audience a perfect view of the secret places between, her rosy pussy lips and tiny puckered asshole.
The constable stepped back and Jek-Tar picked up the strap and raised it high. The watchers drew as close as they dared, ready to count.
CRACK! “One!” A red welt began to rise.
CRACK! “Two!” CRACK! “Three!” CRACK! “Four!” The girl was squirming, wriggling her cheeks as much as her position would allow.
CRACK! “Five!” CRACK! “Six!” CRACK! “Seven!” She had tears in her eyes, yelling into the gag.
CRACK! “Eight!” CRACK! “Nine!” Tears rolled down her face, still she tried to writhe away from the heavy strap.
CRACK!!!!! “TEN!!” She was crying in earnest now, limp on the table.
Jek-Tar stepped back but then the constable stopped him, “There will be a further penalty for her resistance, attempted escape, and for attacking an officer of the Village Council.” He wiped away another trickle of blood from his cheek, “I can give such a penalty on the spot. It’s a standard fifty with the strap.” The blacksmith paused a moment, this would be a heavy penalty for the girl. He looked at the crowd; like the constable, many bore scratches and bruises from the demon-girl now tied over the table. She wouldn’t find much sympathy there.
Well, she’d earned the stripes, now she’d get them. He lifted the strap again, CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! five quickly across the centre of her cheeks, the girl was screaming into her gag now. More strokes rang out, another five lower down, her bottom was blazing crimson. Five more fell right where cheeks and thighs met, her bottom was swollen, purple welts criss-crossing in an angry pattern. The girl was bucking and twisting as far as she could now but it made no difference to the strapping.
Jek-Tar decided her cheeks needed a break, he aimed at her left thigh. Five strokes landed hard down the back of her thigh, each one curling to snap at the tender skin of the inner thigh. Five more, and her thigh was an even red and the girl was shrieking into the gag, writhing and frantic. He moved to the other side and ten strokes had her right thigh the same colour. The girl was crying hard now, great sobs shaking her body. The only thing he could do was get it over quickly.
He looked for somewhere else to strike, the only white skin left was the strip between her cheeks, safe so far from the strapping. Ten strokes seared that tender skin bright red. The girl was howling now, he gave her the last five hard and fast across the lower cheeks. The girl sobbed, miserable, red from hips to knees.
They left her there for an hour, on display as a lesson to others. Finally the constable untied her and led her away, limping, still gagged, no fight left in her. She wouldn’t be running anywhere for a while. He hoped the boy had been worth it.
“And this is the discipline you give?”
“To those as need it. When I’m told to do it. It keeps the place peaceful, everyone following the rules. One good punishment can save a girl from making mistakes she’ll regret all her life.”
She thought for a moment, surveying the solidly muscled form in front of her, “Thank you Jek-Tar. You are a worthy contestant. My attendants will show you to a place of refreshment.”
As the blacksmith left, Lord Kevan was ushered in.