Priestess 13 – Hiatus
The Offering was over.
Pale morning saw many weary revellers trying to remember the way home, or at least to remember where they left their underwear. The stage was dismantled, the incense drifted away on the morning breezes and the silken pavilions were taken down.
Celebrations would continue for a week yet, but right now there were more pressing concerns for many of the citizenry. Like finding large amounts of lotion for sore, throbbing bottoms; or discovering who, in a rush of enthusiasm and religious fervour, they had married last night. Or at least who they woke up beside this morning.
In the palace Borlan was preparing his speech. At the end of the celebrations the king traditionally issued new edicts, and Borlan had some ideas that he was going to enjoy announcing. Priestess week was a time to celebrate, but also a time for citizens to examine their lives and return to the true path. And for the king to examine his kingdom, and decide how to reinforce good old traditional values. “A paddle hanging beside the door and a cushion on the seat, a gentle touch and sweet loving makes a happy home,” went the old saying. It was high time the good citizens of the kingdom rediscovered true domestic bliss.
And in the Temple the new High Priestess lay face down on her bed while her handmaidens soothed lotion over the terrible welts and bruises with a feather-light touch. Goran stood to one side, appalled at the marks he’d made on his sweet bride; for the rest of his life he’d shudder whenever he thought about the ceremony. But it was necessary, and it was over. He watched as the maids applied the lotion with the gentlest of touches. Aliera bit back a whimper.
Goran turned and walked into the courtyard, he couldn’t bear to watch. He knew it would be a long time before she wanted him near her, all he could do was to keep out of her way until she’d recovered.
Aliera lay on the bed trying not to moan as the girls applied the blessed lotion. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Goran turn away. Silent tears trickled down her face. If only she’d been braver, if only she’d been able to take it better, maybe he’d be proud of her now. But he could barely look at her, he wouldn’t come near her. The High Priestess closed her eyes to hide the shameful tears.
Elsewhere in the temple, despite all the excitement, life went on as usual.
There was a very short line in the courtyard outside Jek-Tar’s quarters. A great deal of leniency had been allowed for the Offering, but even so a few mischievous spirits had overstepped the mark. Seven sad faces watched the Discipliner approach the line and strip off his jerkin, ready for work. Minna sat at the table, opened the ledger and took the slip of paper from the first miscreant, a trainee who’d come home drunk after the celebrations. And thrown up over the supervising sister’s feet. “Avra. Trainee. Public inebriation. Ten with the strap.”
A firm strapping is no cure for a serious hangover. The hapless girl was bent across the table, and wailing in misery before the third red stripe branded itself on her cheeks. She howled through the next seven, then Jek-Tar ushered the sobbing penitent to the wall, to stand whimpering with her skirt tucked up, punished bottom on display. Many of the girls had decided that the hour on display after punishment was worse than the actual pain of the strapping or paddling. Or at least, as bad. The old Discipliner used to pat the girls on the shoulder and tell them not to earn a punishment again. Jek-Tar’s after-spanking treatment was a lot less enjoyable. But much more effective.
The next was a trainee who’d been caught stealing a few coins from the donations box. This was a serious offence, and it was only the fact that she was fourteen, and barely into her third week at the Temple, that saved her from being strapped down over the hurdle for the birch. But she bent over the table for thirty ringing slaps from the large paddle.
Drunk…. Rude to her supervising priestess…. Drunk and rude…. Failed to return on time after the ceremony… Too drunk to walk through the doorway and had to crawl… Impatiently kicked someone who was crawling through a doorway….
Before long seven throbbing bottoms were displayed along the wall. Jek-Tar started to collect the straps and paddles, nodding at Minna as she made another entry in the ledger, “Make sure they do the full hour.”
Minna spoke without looking up, “There’s one more.”
Jek-Tar looked around, “I see no-one else. Has one of them lost her nerve and run for it?”
Minna shook her head, eyes still lowered, then swallowed, trying to keep her voice steady, “There’s one more. Me.”
Offering night is a time of celebration and high spirits, almost a once in a lifetime event. Discipline is relaxed, and outrageous behaviour is tolerated. Almost expected. But a full Priestess is expected to behave a little better than a novice or a trainee. She is certainly not expected to run semi-naked and roaring drunk through the Temple proper, and under no circumstances is she expected to be found attempting to scale the huge silver stature of the Goddess in the inner sanctum, with the apparent purpose of whispering a special request in her ear.
It had only taken one look for Minna to fall deeply in love with the huge young blacksmith. But he seemed so focussed on his work as Discipliner and in the Temple forge. He hardly glanced in her direction. Every day as she sat there writing neatly in her ledger she’d dream – one day he’d look up, their eyes would meet, and…..or he’d ask her to help him oil the straps, she’d be sitting beside him in his quarters and……or…….a hundred different ways to attract his attention. And last night, when she’d taken much too much wine, she decided to ask the Goddess for help. The Goddess encouraged her acolytes to live a full life, and up to now Minna’s life had been achingly empty in the romance department. Surely the Goddess would help her catch Jek-Tar’s eye.
But now she’d be getting his attention in the only way she didn’t expect, or imagine, or desire. She was going to be punished, and severely. He’d notice her, alright. And he’d be so disgusted, just like everyone else – a full Priestess rarely presented for punishment, and no-one had EVER committed such sacrilege.
Minna kept her eyes on the page as she read the sentence, “Minna. Priestess. Sacrilege in the Inner Sanctum. Fifty each with strap, paddle and – and birch.” It was one of the severest sentences possible. A shocked whisper ran round the courtyard.
Jek-Tar stood silent as Minna rose and walked stiff-legged to the padded hurdle. She bent over it and waited, trembling.
Jek-Tar slowly lifted her skirts and bared her plump cheeks. It was a long time since Minna’s last Discipline, five with the strap when she was a trainee. She’d make up for that now.
Her wrists were quickly secured to the supports at the sides of the hurdle, then came the horrible moment when her ankles were secured as well, her legs drawn wide apart, leaving her totally exposed. Hot tears of humiliation fell onto the dusty ground.
Jek-Tar selected a strap, then surveyed the target area. He’d need to work methodically to get the girl through this with no lasting damage, the punishment would need to be spread across her cheeks and her thighs. She’d certainly not appreciate his efforts at the time, but he’d take what care he could for her sake. But he was obliged to deliver a standard, severe punishment, and he’d never shirked a set task. He couldn’t be seen to go easy on the girl, simply because they worked together.
One muscled arm raised high, then the strap fell, striking with a clap that echoed around the courtyard. A red stripe blazed high on her cheeks as he readied the next stroke. It fell just as loudly, just below the first, overlapping it slightly. Minna tried valiantly to take her punishment in silence, but gasps quickly became moans, then wailing cries, as a series of red stripes marched down her cheeks. Her cries became shriller as the strap began to fall on one thigh, striking hard across the back, the tip curving around to bite the softer inner thigh. He stopped an inch or two above her knees, and lay some more strokes across her sit spot – she’d stand up to write in the ledger for some time to come. After twenty-five there was a pause, Minna’s cheeks and one thigh blazed red. Jek-Tar walked around to her other side, and began again. The strap falling on her blazing cheeks was agonizing – it was almost a relief when he reached the untouched thigh. Almost. And by the time he’d finished her bottom blazed crimson, with a darker band across her lower cheeks.
At last the fifty were done, Minna hung sobbing over the hurdle as Jek-Tar lay the strap on the table and went into his quarters. He returned a few moments later with a paddle – as long as a man’s forearm, wider than his hand, as thick as his finger. A fearsome piece of smooth oak. But in deference to the birching to come, he’d selected a paddle without holes. She’d be punished enough without that.
Jek-Tar wondered if he should wait a while, give the girl time to recover. But the burn from that strapping wouldn’t subside quickly. And it was best to get it over with.
There was no warning, just the CRACK of the first paddle stroke. He followed the same pattern as the strapping, working down her cheeks and thighs. But the width of the paddle meant a greater overlap, punishing the same areas even more. Minna struggled frantically against her bonds, but could barely move. Her pleas for mercy were lost as she wailed louder at each stroke. Red darkened to crimson. Minna’s cries became shriller as the paddle punished her agonized sit spot, the area was darkening to a shade of purple. Jek-Tar worked on her thighs, aiming at the back, then the inner and outer surfaces, trying to spread the strokes as much as he could. At last the paddle was laid on the table. For several minutes the searing burn continued, it was hard to tell the paddling had stopped. Jek-Tar waited patiently until the girl quieted and stilled.
Minna gasped and whimpered, wishing desperately that the next few minutes were over.
Jek-Tar lifted a bundle from the bucket of brine. The birch swished through the air as he shook the drops out, then he took position at her side. He’d follow the same pattern again, but the birch would spread on contact – there was no way to spare her anything.
The first stroke of the birch on her throbbing cheeks was worse than anything she’d ever felt. Minna’s voice rose in a thin thread of pain and protest, growing ever more shrill as the birch rose and fell. After the first ten her cheeks were covered with a fretwork of fine dark lines. When he aimed at her sit-spot and thighs, stray switches lashed even more tender places. Minna sobbed now, too hoarse to wail. At last the birch was discarded. She gasped in relief, then realised Jek-Tar was taking a fresh bundle from the brine bucket, ready to begin from the other side.
Fifty strokes take forever.
At last, long after Minna had stopped struggling and crying out, the birch was dropped into the dust.
Jek-Tar stood watching as she gasped and moaned, then carefully tucked her skirts into her belt. Minna didn’t move as her wrists and ankles were released. Jek-Tar eased her to her feet, holding her upright as she sagged, her strength slow to return. He walked her towards the row of red bottoms. Minna closed her eyes as she was urged along. This was the final humiliation. He’d never look at her now, he must be so disgusted. And the way she’d behaved – she couldn’t even take her punishment with dignity. When they reached the wall Jek-Tar paused, holding her steady. He looked at the repentant young women, each one silently vowing never to earn another punishment. “Go. Now.” Surprised, they hesitated for a moment, then scuttled away. Several were so keen to get away that they forgot to release their skirts, their red bottoms bouncing as they hurried along.
Jek-Tar kept his hold on Minna, easing her through the doorway and into his quarters. Before she realised it she was being lowered on to his bed, lying face down of course. She buried her face in his pillow, sobbing silently.
Jek-Tar moved quietly around the room, then knelt at the side of the bed and started to smooth cooling lotion on her glowing skin. It was hard to believe that the hands that wielded the punishment implements could become so gentle.
Minna shuddered then gulped back her tears as his hands circled her cheeks, then started to run along her thighs. Soon the worst of the searing stinging eased, then the aching throb was less intense. His hands worked around her cheeks, thorough and gentle, in soothing circles. Then along the outside of her thighs, and the backs. Then he gently eased her legs apart and smoothed the lotion down to the soft inner surfaces of her thighs. Moving up and down, taking the edge off the pain. Up and down, moving higher. Minna gasped as his knuckles brushed against – oh goodness – she wriggled.
“Is that helping? Is the pain going?”
“Yes. Thank you.” A thin thread, her voice emerged from the depths of the pillow.
“Have I missed anywhere? Do you need more?”
“Um….it’s ok.” A tiny voice inside her head was shouting at her – ‘You’re alone with him! Half-naked! MAKE THE MOST OF IT GIRL!’ Minna realised that you can’t actually die of embarrassment, and she’d already plumbed the depths – what did she have to lose? “Maybe I need some more. Please.” His hands kept circling and stroking. It was quite a pleasant sensation, if you could ignore the furnace on your bottom. Minna told herself to go for broke, after all she’d never get another chance like this. Pray the Goddess, no. “Um, the birch caught me in – er – other places.” She opened her legs a little wider. “It’s very – er – tender.”
His hands stopped moving, leaving her skin, then she gasped and jerked as the cool lotion touched between her cheeks. Gradually his fingers eased along, circling the little rosebud there. Then another shock as he began to smooth the lotion further down, his fingers moving around places she didn’t even let her doctor touch. It was certainly taking her mind off her punished bottom. He continued to smooth the lotion, his fingers teasing her. Soon Minna was in a libidinous haze, almost purring, wriggling to feel that amazing touch on every tender spot.
She reached out a hand and touched his arm, running her fingers up and down, feeling the muscles moving. “Please. Please.” She barely knew what she was saying, what she was asking – she only knew she wanted. Yearned.
Jek-Tar took hold of her hips and eased her up onto her knees, her shoulders still on the bed, knees wide, bottom high, offered up to him. “Are you sure?”
She was. She didn’t know what she was sure OF, or care, but she was sure about – whatever it was. Minna wriggled, “Please, NOW please!”
Jek-Tar knelt behind her, taking hold of her hips and steadying her as his rigid member nudged her slick pussy lips, slipping between them, stretching her as he moved deeply inside. Minna arched her back and gasped as she felt the sweet invasion, felt him filling her. He slowed as he felt the barrier inside, telling him this was her first time, then thrust quickly. Minna gasped at the sharp pang, but it was gone in an instant. And still he filled her, pushing in until her heated bottom rested against him. Then he began to thrust, slowly at first, pressing against her throbbing cheeks, that heat now spreading, changing.
Suddenly a wildness grew in her, she gave a guttural growl and thrust back against him, “Harder!”
Now they moved in unison, pounding against each other, grunting in satisfaction. The pain as they moved against each other shooting through her, becoming a greater heat. Their voices rose louder as the wildness grew, then together they rode the sensations, howling as the waves took them higher and higher. Finally they cried out their release, collapsing on the bed together as they bathed in the afterglow.
They lay in silence for a time, Jek-Tar softly kissing her shoulders, her neck, as she shivered in reaction. Then Minna reached for his hand, bringing it to her lips and kissing each finger. “Thank you.”
Jek-Tar stroked her cheek, “My pleasure. Truly.”
“You’ve made it – better.”
“You’ll feel it tomorrow. As you should.”
“I know.” She closed her eyes, “I’m so ashamed of myself.”
“Don’t be. You’ve been punished, now it’s over. Well, it will be when you can sit down again.” He took his weight from her back, rolling on one side and drawing her against him, his strong arms circling her, “But you’ll NEVER do anything as disgraceful again.”
Minna closed her eyes, “I know. You’ve been very kind to comfort me like that. I won’t expect more, don’t worry.”
“I meant the statue-climbing. No woman of mine shows such disrespect.”
“Oh, I’ll never do that again – no WHAT?”
Jek-Tar kissed her ear, the only part he could easily reach right now, “I don’t comfort everyone like that, you know.”
“Yes, but…I thought you were just being – nice.”
“That was very nice.”
She smiled, “Oh yes, it was! But – you – are we…?”
“Indeed we are. If you want to.”
“YES! Oh, yes, please, yes, I want to. Be your woman, I mean. Yes, please! But – you never looked at me, you hardly talked to me…I thought you didn’t notice me.”
“I looked. I noticed.” And he’d have made his move. In his own time. But when she needed comforting – who better than a blacksmith to know about striking when the iron was hot? He decided not to share that thought with her though, not yet.
She snuggled against him, “This was the worst day of my life. And the best. You really do know how to take the pain away.”
“I could help you with that again. If you’re ready.”
“Oh, I’m ready!”
He worked hard most of the day, taking her mind off her punished bottom. And that evening they curled up together in sleep, sated and spent. The Goddess is forgiving.
In the quarters of the Second High Priestess Goran slept in a chair at the side of his bride’s bed. He knew she’d need time to recover, but he could at least watch over her. He hoped she’d forgive him soon. He missed her smile, but he knew he’d need to be patient. He had to wait, keep his distance, and give her time.
Aliera curled up on her bed, miserable. He wouldn’t even share the bed with her. Her own husband was so disgusted with her that he barely touched her. She cried silently. It was a long time before she slept.