I had to post another chapter because I knew I wasn’t the only one on pins and needles! Happy reading! ~Mo
Priestess – Chapter 6: After the Decision
The announcement was made, the waiting was over.
The crowds left, agreeing it was the best entertainment in the arena for over a generation.
The participants all returned to their homes.
And in three days Aliera would make her Offering.
Lord Kevan was jubilant as he rode home. A princess! All his own! And money. Prestige. Power. Most of all, power. At last his family would be returned to its proper place as one of the most important in the country. He rode into a glowing future.
Aliera stared at her father and brothers as the Royal coach clattered through the crowded streets. They’d made no secret of their preference, but she’d never forgive them for their reaction. Merila’s chatter covered the silence of the others. She’d made plans for a family meal in the evening, Aliera’s last meal with them before she left for the Temple that night. All Aliera’s favourite dishes, no official guests or courtiers, a time they could remember the past and enjoy just being a family. The family sat in silence around her.
Tiarna sat back in the carriage as she returned to the temple. She prayed she’d made the right choice, she so desperately wanted Aliera to be happy. She smiled across at Brenn, sitting straight and nervous as the carriage bumped along the street. She hoped she’d made the right decision there too.
Brenn jolted along in the carriage, still stunned. He knew he couldn’t be Consort to the young princess, he’d just wanted to do something to prove he was somebody. And now he looked to become Consort to the First High Priestess. He hoped he could rise to the occasion.
Jek-Tar wandered through the busy streets, following the attendants and minor priestesses as they wended their way back to the temple grounds. Tomorrow his duties began as Discipliner for the Temple, he hoped he’d do his new job properly. Jek-Tar never really thought he’d be chosen as Consort but to be called to serve in the Temple, and in such an important capacity, it was beyond his prayers.
Through a side entrance from the arena forty-six former slavegirls took their first steps as free women, each holding a healthy purse – the promised dowry for participation in the Trials. Each held her other hand to her burning cheeks. A throbbing bottom was a small price to pay for freedom, but freedom didn’t stop the stinging.
Goran rode home alone.
All over the city the countdown began. Three days! Food must be ready, entertainers rehearsed, tourists accommodated, streets cleaned, buildings decorated, rituals performed. Slaves, priestesses, entertainers, innkeepers, bakers, brothelkeepers and merchants all scrambled to their tasks.
The royal family dined quietly, making muted discussion when prompted by the queen, who was teary-eyed already as she prepared to say goodbye to her daughter. All too soon for Merila the meal was over, and they escorted Aliera to the main gates of the castle. The Temple coach waited in the flickering light from the torches, Aliera disappeared inside and her daughter was gone.
Lord Kevan relaxed while two of his slaves massaged his back. It had been a busy evening. Luckily the last batch of stock were fully trained, he’d just been enjoying their obedience for a while longer before they were sold. He’d sent messages to his usual clients, the discerning few who appreciated his special talents. Any slaves that didn’t sell would go to an exclusive brothel that was always pleased to take any of his stock.
He’d set the sale for the morrow, so there were many preparations to be made. The stock must be clean, freshly plucked, skin smooth. And each one was given a good reddening, just as a farewell lesson and a warning of what to expect if they neglected any of their duties for their new masters. He’d make sure each one screamed for a good half-hour.
The estate would also be sold. It was no more than a lodge in the country, the large family estates were long gone to pay two generations of gambling debts. But soon he’d be walking into palaces and living in luxury. Rich pickings for life; no more hanging on the outskirts of society for Lord Kevan. The slaves scurried around, packing those possessions he wanted to take and preparing the rest for sale.
Aliera was ushered into her new quarters, a series of spacious rooms opening off a private courtyard. Every room opened onto the courtyard gardens, fountains tinkled and perfumed flowers scented the air. Small bright birds flew twittering among the flowers, in the sunlight they would sing sweetly. Aliera paced through the rooms that would be her home for the rest of her life.
In a nearby suite of rooms opening onto a similar courtyard Tiarna faced her new Consort. Brenn felt a little strange in such luxurious surroundings, but he knew what to do when faced by a woman who needed him, needed the touch of his hand. He watched as Tiarna thanked the hovering attendants, accepting their surprised congratulations and then tactfully urging the women out until they were alone. She was a fine woman, full-bodied and stately, yet there was a kindness in her that reminded him so strongly of his late wife. He could be happy with this woman.
Tiarna faced the man who’d so unexpectedly captured her attention. “We have indeed taken them by surprise. It will be a busy three days before the Offering, but tomorrow we will attend the King and I will present you as my new Consort. After the Offering we will have the appropriate official celebrations.”
“Not so fast lass, first we both need to be sure that I’ll be up to the job. We need our own private Contest, don’t we?”
She smiled, “I don’t suggest anything tonight, after all you’ve had a very – strenuous day. Mayhap tomorrow we can see if we are compatible.”
“Nay lass, no time like the present. There’s some things I’m never too tired to do, and I’ll hazard a guess you’re long overdue. Come here.”
Almost hypnotised, Tiarna moved towards this little man with the commanding presence. Somewhere inside her something stirred, responded to his air of assurance.
“Now, tell me what you need.”
She sighed, “I need, I need to – to ….” She was suddenly tongue-tied.
“You’ve gone a long time without a man’s touch. And you need the release that touch can bring. Yes?”
She nodded, relieved he was taking the initiative.
“Very well lass, we’ll make a start. Let’s get you over my knee.”
Tiarna expected to feel awkward and embarrassed, she was not a young woman and she hadn’t been in this position with any man other than Tellen. But she was taken over his knee without fuss, and was soon staring at the beautifully polished floor. She could feel her robes being lifted, then his hand touched her bare skin. Tiarna gasped, but stayed still.
Brenn stroked the smooth globes. Here was a woman well past her youth but still firm, pleasing to the eye. She carried herself with dignity but knew how to give true submission to her man. He admired the full, mature shape of her, a woman for a real man to admire and enjoy. He’d give her of his best.
“Now lass, here’s a good dose of what you need.”
His hand smacked down at full strength, surprising a very undignified squawk from the First High Priestess. It had been so long since she felt that sting. A second squawk, and each cheek showed a glowing red handprint. Then it began in earnest.
Brenn was methodical, smacking one side then the other, working his way down from high on her cheeks to the tops of her thighs, then he’d return to the top to start again. He smacked slowly and hard, Tiarna felt the full force of each one. By the time he’d finished three rounds and was starting on the fourth, Tiarna was wriggling on his knee, her feet kicking up a little at each stroke.
“Enough! That’s enough, thank you. I’ve had enough now.”
“Ah lass, we’ve barely begun. You’ve a long way to go yet.”
And again his hand slapped down hard, now tears gathered in her eyes, her fists beat on the floor. She’d forgotten how it could sting, then burn. Tiarna kicked higher, wriggling more desperately. Still he went inexorably on.
“Please, please Brenn, it hurts, I’ve had enough, please!”
His answer was the steady slapping of hard hand on soft bare skin. Tiarna was kicking like a child now, the tears starting to fall, she was crying out loudly at each hard smack. The fire was burning strongly, it felt like he was spanking her raw.
Brenn’s hand painted her cheeks pink, then red, then crimson. He could feel the heat at each slap, she was desperate now. Brenn redoubled his efforts.
Then suddenly it was too much, beyond anything she could control. She gave a loud despairing wail and broke into gulping sobs, her body wracked by convulsive weeping. Brenn softened his strokes, just enough to stoke the fires, no longer full force. Tiarna sobbed for a long time.
At last she quieted, gasping into the silence as he stroked her throbbing cheeks.
“There, lass, you needed that. Up with you now.” Tiarna found herself sitting gingerly on his lap, sobbing softly onto his strong shoulders. “See, you’ll feel better now. A woman is always better for a good weep. Lets the tension out.” He rubbed her shoulders comfortingly. “Just let it all go.” Tiarna snuggled into his strength. It had been so long since she had been able to let go like that, she felt renewed. His hand stroked lower, tracing her spine. She relaxed against him, revelling in the freedom to let everything drift away, just for this moment. His hand brushed against her cheeks, she gasped but didn’t stop him.
Brenn’s questing hands roamed on, soon Tiarna was burning with a different fire. She brushed her lips across his skin, “My dear, after today, can you…..?”
“Well lass, I’d not be able to give you a full re-enactment right now, but I think we can manage a taste of what I’ll be giving you whenever the need is on you.”
Much later Tiarna lay beside her new man, listening to his steady breathing. Her cheeks still held a warm tingle, and the rest of her felt the glow of a well-loved woman. The Goddess was generous, Tiarna had never expected to feel this way again after she lost Tellen. Who would have thought that the contest for Aliera would yield such pleasure for Tiarna as well. She smiled in the darkness. It seemed there’d be many nights of such pleasure for her. She prayed she’d made the right choice, that Aliera would feel such pleasure too.
Goran finished his nightly inspection of the palace guard; even at such times security must be maintained. Seeing the forbidding look on his face none of his men dared to comment on the day’s events. Then, alone, he returned to his quarters in the palace barracks. He paced the small rooms, looking at the meagre furnishings. He’d never felt the need for more, never bothered setting up a home off the base. Now it all seemed so small, so barren.
His staff hurried in; the retired soldier who acted as his manservant and the woman who’d been his housekeeper and bedslave for nigh on five years. Both were beaming.
“Oh sir! Thank the Goddess. It was a good decision,” Sergeant Trymon made no attempt to conceal his delight at the result of the Contest. Dintra was less outspoken, but she smiled as she began to serve his meal, she’d prepared the dishes she knew he liked best.
Goran frowned, still not believing the outcome, “Sergeant, I’m not sure the Goddess made the right choice.”
“Sir! How can you doubt the Goddess. She has spoken, the choice is naturally correct. Princess Aliera is a lucky girl. You will be the best Consort ever.”
Goran shook his head, still unconvinced. At the announcement the crowd had cheered, led by King Borlan and the two princes. And Aliera had looked at him and hated him. He still felt the ice-cold disgust he’d seen in her eyes. Goran could plan a campaign and win a war, but he knew that in the battle for Aliera he’d need different weapons, he wasn’t even sure what they were, and for the first time since he became a soldier he faced the possibility that he might fail. Loving her might not be enough.
Goran slept badly that night.