Priestess – Chapter 9: The Offering
Three days between the Contest and the Offering.
A great deal can be done in three days. And it was.
And now there was only one night. The final preparations were made.
Aliera was prepared. She was bathed and massaged with scented oils. She had spent the night in the temple, keeping vigil until the morning. She was very quiet, but that just showed her meditative devotion.
Goran had spent the three days in another part of the Temple complex, being prepared for the public ceremony. He was shaved, massaged and oiled by the temple maidens. There were many volunteers. He was shown around the temple complex, taught the main rituals, and reminded of the part he would play in the Offering. More than a few maidens would have happily volunteered for that as well. He too was very quiet, but then he needed to save his strength.
Morning. Now there were only hours. The parade ground was filling fast, competition for the best spots was intense. Peddlers worked the crowd selling drinks, food and small mementoes of the occasion. The usual collection of entertainers worked the crowd: fire-eaters, musicians, acrobats, dancers and cat-jugglers.
Aliera spent most of the morning in the temple, watching the rituals. She wasn’t expected to join in, she had too much on her mind to reach the state of ordered calm needed for devotion.
Goran walked around the complex restlessly; from force of habit he’d learned all the entrances, and checked the defences (which consisted mainly of elderly sisters at each entrance saying, “Did you want to make an observance in the Temple dear? Just through there, and watch out for the pigeons.”)
Temple personnel ran around busily or gathered in corners chattering, there was an air of excitement all through the temple, and all over the city.
All too soon it was time for the midday meal. And then the last bath, the last massage with scented oils, the last time Aliera’s hair was brushed until it shone. For their official duties the priestesses wore a simple gown, basically two long rectangles of white silk, clasped on the shoulders and with a long woven belt tied at the waist. For a High Priestess the clasps were gold, the belt woven of fine gold threads. Skin smooth and scented, long hair rippling like a waterfall of moonlight. Her feet were bare, she wore nothing but her robe of office. And she wouldn’t even have that soon. Aliera quickly turned her mind from the thought. She’d been blocking that thought for three long days now. It would happen, it would be over, then she’d escape and go to darling Kevan. She didn’t let herself think about the details.
Goran was given a white silk loincloth, and a golden belt. He turned down several offers to help him get dressed.
Less than an hour to go.
Aliera and Goran were each given their last refreshments, drinks containing herbs that would give them greater endurance for the ordeal. They were then taken to two different doorways. Two paths were cleared through the crowd, lined by white-robed priestesses. A small party led each participant along the path to the raised stage in the centre of the huge parade ground.
The vast open space was filled with people. Eager, pious, curious, avid, shocked, excited. And silent, as the two parties neared the stage.
Around the edge of the parade ground stood the bright silk pavilions of the noble families, and the guilds, raised up on platforms so that the high and mighty could relax in comfort and see over the heads of the peasants. Lord Kevan was happily ensconced in the small green and yellow tent that belonged to his host’s family, numerous slaves scurrying to see to his needs. Many of the bare pink bottoms bore his brand, his trainees were terrified of making a mistake in front of their ex-master. He sighed and kicked away the slave who was kneeling in front of him. He’d use her again later perhaps. There’d be plenty of time.
In front of the temple fluttered the white silk shelter of the First High Priestess. And opposite that, in front of the palace, the red and gold of the King. Aliera’s family was ready to watch her make the Offering.
Tiarna was waiting on the central stage, watching as the two made their way slowly towards her. Aliera looked composed, but she was frozen rather than calm. Goran’s set expression gave nothing away, as usual.
Then they were at the stage. Climb the steps. Just get this done, and then she’d go to Kevan, somehow.
As they reached the top Tiarna, solemn in her role as First High Priestess, stepped forward to greet them. This was her last chance to break through to Aliera; she was afraid she’d made a mistake in having the girl’s Offering so soon but she was turned eighteen, some girls married at that age. And with Lord Kevan hanging around her there was no chance to wait longer, Aliera wouldn’t have waited few more years. She was too headstrong, too spoilt. But right now she looked heartbreakingly young. Tiarna could only hope Goran could give Aliera the strength she’d need.
“Blessings of the Goddess be on you both.” Neither one answered, they weren’t ready to talk right now. “Aliera, my dear, this is the most important ceremony of your life. You will need humility, and acceptance, and courage. And when you find them, I pray that the Goddess gives you the great gift of serenity.” She couldn’t be sure the girl could even hear the words, let alone understand them. “And Goran, yours is a difficult part to play. I know you’ll be tempted to make it easier for Aliera, to hold back during the discipline sessions, but you won’t be helping her. The aim of this ceremony is to show that Aliera is worthy of one of the highest positions in the kingdom. To be worthy of high rank she must first be prepared to be treated like the lowliest slave. We are all slaves to the Goddess. You must help Aliera strip away her pride, her attitude, even her dignity. Then she can offer to the Goddess her humility, and courage, and endurance. For Aliera to make a true Offering you must force her beyond her limits, let her find out what she is capable of.” At least Goran was listening. Aliera still seemed to be unaware of what was happening. “Goran, when Aliera’s brothers were her age you led them into battle to prove themselves. Now help Aliera prove she is worthy.”
Goran nodded briefly, and Tiarna had to be satisfied that she’d done all she could. She followed Aliera’s path back to the temple wall, to take her seat in the white silk pavilion. The crowd surged in to fill the pathways.
The attendants filed off the stage, down to the ground at one side where they waited with the other items that would be needed, the items that Aliera had polished for three days. The chair had been placed ready in the centre of the stage. Waiting. Goran and Aliera stood alone, lit by the golden rays of the setting sun.
When Goran took her hand and led her towards the chair Aliera shivered for a moment and seemed to wake up. There were no days, no hours, no minutes left. It was going to happen. Now. And she couldn’t do it. She looked wildly at the eager mass around them, “No….” Just a panic-stricken whisper.
Goran knew how to soothe and gentle a horse. He hoped it worked with women too. He held her shoulders, turned her to look into his eyes. A familiar face. A lifeline. He spoke softly and gently, “Aliera, you can do this. And you will. Forget them. There is only you, and me. Look at me. We can do this. You are a brave girl. A princess.” As he spoke he untied the belt at her waist and dropped it, then reached for the fastenings at her shoulders. “Look at me. Look only at me.” He undid the clasps, letting the simple gown fall to her feet.
Aliera stood naked, the last rays of the sun making her skin glow. She was alabaster-pale, silk-smooth. Firm, high breasts were tipped with rosebud-pink nipples. The silken wave of her hair flowed down past her slender waist and the flare of her hips, stopping just above the full roundness of her bottom. She kept her eyes on Goran’s as the crowd began to cheer and clap for the beginning of the ceremony.
Goran untied his belt and let the loincloth drop. He didn’t need to be unclothed so soon, but Aliera might find it a little easier to get through this if they were both naked; he’d do anything he could to make this in any way more tolerable for her. Several ladies gasped at the sight that was revealed. Aliera was going to be a lucky girl, the goddess can be very generous. One woman in the front row fainted, but she was held to be rather highly-strung. She recovered soon enough to be sure she didn’t miss anything.
Goran took Aliera’s hand and brought her to his side as he sat down, then he lifted her easily to place her over his knees. He felt her stiffen in fear and softly stroked her back until she began to relax. “Good girl. Be brave now. This won’t be so bad.” At least by comparison with what came after.
Aliera dimly remembered her disgust at the fuss the slaves made during the Contest. She had been so sure she’d have more dignity when it was her turn. But that was in another life, three days ago. And she was discovering that there is no dignity when you are over a man’s knee. Her bottom was high in the air, she was totally helpless, and she could feel the warmth of his skin against hers, she struggled to cope with the sensations.
Aliera had never been smacked, never been spanked. She was going to make up for eighteen indulged years in a few hours.
Goran looked at the perfect, creamy-pale globes. It would be some time before they looked like this again. He raised his hand.
Tiarna had told him to take the girl past her limits. A ten-minute spanking with his battle-hardened hand would take her far past any limit. One of the attendants prepared to turn the timer.
The huge crowd fell silent.
The first slap exploded into the silence. On Aliera’s right cheek glowed a bright red handprint. Two seconds later he left cheek showed another.
Goran settled into a rhythm, methodically working from side to side from the crown of her cheeks to mid-thigh, then back to the beginning again. The crowd began to clap in time.
Dignity went with the first slap. Pride with the second. Aliera squealed, she begged, she kicked wildly. She was in tears before the first minute was over. By the end of the third minute Goran had both Aliera’s wrists pinned behind her back to stop her desperately thrashing hands from trying to protect her bottom from its first experience of true punishment.
Aliera had never felt anything like this. For the first time in her life her own comfort was not a prime consideration. She told him to stop, she screamed it, she even begged, and still his hand fell relentlessly. She felt as if she was on fire, searing slaps just kept on heating her cheeks. Aliera kicked high and wide, wriggling frantically.
Halfway through the time Goran shifted her further forward and pinned her legs between his. In the last five endless minutes hot pink cheeks became bright, angry red. Aliera was wailing now, choking on her sobs as she howled her outrage. And still he spanked her.
For the last minute or two the wails died away to deep gulping sobs. The crowd clapped on happily as the time counted down. After a red-hot eternity, Aliera heard the chiming bell that signified the time was up. Goran let her scramble off his lap, then stood to watch as she clapped both hands to her tormented seat. Aliera couldn’t bear to rub her poor sore bottom, she simply stood with her hands clutching her throbbing cheeks, threw her head back and howled. With her mouth wide open and wailing, and tears rolling down her face, she looked closer to eight than eightteen.
Goran let her cry away the worst of it, then he reached out and took her arm, gently positioning her behind the chair. Aliera felt his hand at her back, pressing her down over the back of the chair, she whimpered as she realised what was about to happen. Goran eased her over until she could put her elbows on the seat and rest her face on her arms. “Good girl. You did well, now be a brave girl Aliera. Just relax and this will be easy on you. Come on now, be a brave girl.” She felt him nudging her feet apart, spreading her legs wide. She was totally exposed to him, her bright red cheeks high over the chair, her most intimate places open and defenceless.
Aliera gasped as she felt the touch of his fingers, trailing down her back and between her cheeks, down to – she quivered, and moaned in wordless protest. “Hush now, there’s a good girl, see? This doesn’t hurt, does it? Just relax now.” Gradually the soothing whisper calmed her, the feel of his hands was – no, she wouldn’t let it be pleasant, that would be a betrayal of poor loving Kevan. But it was very tolerable.
He waited until she was calmer, until the tension was gone. She could feel his hands on her back, her thighs, her stinging cheeks. And her pussy. She started to make small sounds of pleasure. And then it wasn’t just his hands.
“Now be a good girl, be a brave girl, that’s my Aliera.” It was probably fortunate that she couldn’t see what was happening. Some of the women in the audience moaned, presumably in sympathy, as Goran positioned himself. Perhaps the Goddess had been too generous. Aliera could feel the stretching as her pussy accommodated his shaft, she whimpered at the sudden sharp pain as he thrust into her the first time. Goran moved slowly until he was inside her, filling her, then began to thrust in and out in a steady rhythm. Aliera could feel the pain of his deep thrusts, the pounding of his body against her sore cheeks, and she moaned as she tried to deal with it. And then a new heat began to rise. She tried to ride the wave, whimpering as so many new sensations buffeted her. Then Goran stilled, and she felt a new warmth spurting deep inside.
Goran helped her to stand, he hugged her briefly as the attendants carried a simple litter laden with cushions onto the stage. Before she realised what was happening, Aliera was placed face down over the cushions. Then the litter was lifted by four of the attendants, and she was carried feet first down into the crowd. For the viewing.
Aliera was carried from the stage to Tiarna. The High Priestess inspected her bright red cheeks and nodded approvingly. The litter was then carried slowly past the silken pavilions along one side of the parade ground, until it stopped in front of the royal enclosure. King Borlan nodded quickly and waved them on as Queen Merila tried not to shed tears at the sight of her daughter. She’d always known this would come, but the reality of it was hard to take. Aliera’s brothers sat silent, torn between pride in their sister and a desire to defend her.
The litter moved on, along the other side of the parade ground, back to Tiarna, then on to the stage where Aliera was carried right around the stage before being carried up the steps. The attendants had made the display last almost an hour.
It was an hour of humiliation for Aliera as she heard the comments and knew all those eyes were viewing her. She buried her face in her hands and lay there, hating them all, not realising that the attendants were giving her as long as possible to recover.
Kevan craned his neck as she was carried past, she was indeed a luscious little piece. He’d have liked to be the one up on that stage with her. Even more he’d like to get her alone for a while, he’d show her a few tricks the lump up on the stage had never heard of. He beckoned one of the slaves over. Time for some more personal entertainment.
Aliera stood up shakily, the pain had subsided to a hot prickling over her sore skin. When she turned she saw that the chair was gone, in its place was a padded bench. On one end of the bench lay a sturdy wooden paddle.