Mothers of Darkness and Light
Caution: This Fantasy Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Mult, Fiction, Caution, Violent,
Desc: Fantasy Sex Story: Chapter 1 - The world has been ruled for many centuries by a mad, evil Goddess who has corrupted everything good. An ancient prophesey offers a dim ray of hope. Not only is there almost no sex in this story but it is very dark. DO NOT complain if you read it anyway and don't like it - you have been warned.
Felana's sentinel no longer knew what year it was.
He had once been Felana's high priest, but when She was overthrown, he had volunteered to tend to the last of Her business. For this duty, he had forsaken everything - even life and death - until his purpose was fulfilled.
His wizened body showed every century of starvation and abuse that he suffered at the hands of Chara's followers. He sat, his unkillable body shivering in the freezing, forgotten ruin.
His eyes jerked wide open when he sensed the birth. It was the eighth potential to appear during the countless years of his watch.
This time was different though, for he had sensed the birth of a mate three years earlier.
It was only a slim chance, he knew, but without him there would be no chance at all. He roused himself from the pile of rags that he had been using as a bed and went in search of food. It would take him years to regain his strength.
Fortunately, time was something that he had plenty of.
Balelak, a senior priest in Chara's temples finished his preparations for the upcoming ritual and looked over at the throne, nodding to indicate that everything was ready.
'Prince Felood looks bored', thought the priest. An evil smile crossed the his face as he contemplated the Prince and the upcoming ritual. Felood wouldn't be bored for long - satisfying Chara and the Prince with quality sacrifices was his job - and he took it very seriously.
Why shouldn't he? This was his favorite of all of Chara's Rites.
Despite what Balelak thought, boredom was the least of Felood's problems. This was the part about being the Queen's second son and, consequently, Chief Sorcerer, that he really hated. Why couldn't he be more like his Uncle Berouk? Berouk had always loved these ceremonies.
Felood had very strong, personal feelings about this particular rite, but with Chara's attention focused directly on what was happening, allowing even a hint of those feelings to show would be exceptionally dangerous. He couldn't afford even the slightest slip, so by pure force of will, he projected a mask of boredom onto his face.
The first candidate came forward with her mother. Bowing to Felood and then Balelak, she began.
"Chara, Mother and Goddess, accept the sacrifice that we offer You here today."
With the first word of the Declaration of Intent, his sorcerer's vision detected the unmistakable signs of the Goddess' attention. Numerous tendrils of powerful magical energy quickly coalesced onto Chara's Presence - a man sized, smooth, black stone situated prominently on one corner of the alter. Unfortunately, Her mood, clearly visible to him in the colors of Her aura, radiated dissatisfaction. She undoubtedly heard the same reticence that he noticed in the candidate's voice.
"We pray, Dearest Mother, that You may find this sacrifice worthy of You and that through it, we, Your children, may be found pleasing in Your eyes."
She stood in her place in front of the priest and waited. When he decided that her Declaration was adequate, he leaned over and grabbed the handle of the ceremonial robe and pulled.
Sudden nakedness unnerved the candidate slightly, but she knew that the pain and humiliation of this rite had just begun. With a deep breath to steal her nerves, she continued.
The candidate then began the Act of Cleansing, but not well - not well at all. The Prince was saddened as he contemplated her failure. Knowing what was to come, he clamped down on his emotions, allowing nothing but extreme boredom to radiate from him.
The priest moved next to the girl, stopping her hands and bringing her into a comforting embrace. There was very little surprise from the audience when her lifeless and disembowled body slumped to the floor. The priest stooped to wipe the blood from his daggar on her robes and then returned it to its hiding place in the sleeve of his robe. He called for the next candidate.
Immediately, everyone could tell that this young woman was different. She breezed through the Declaration of Intent with a strong, steady voice. Her sudden nakedness when the priest performed the Revelation did not rattle her in the least. She went through the Act of Cleansing without ever breaking eye contact. Step by step, she worked her way through the Rite, not once exhibiting any hint of fear, doubt or even pain.
The power of her sacrifice and the beauty of her work moved Balelak to rejoice - surely Felood would enjoy this one! Chara, he knew, would honor the young girl well.
Finally, as the girl completed the Blessing of Sacrifice, the priest glanced around the room. Few candidates ever completed the full Blessing. Even fewer did so with the strength and beauty of this girl and the courtiers were rightly impressed. The priest glanced at the Prince, who was regarding the successful candidate with well deserved respect and admiration.
Everyone's attention was diverted by unexpected movement from the site of Chara's Presence. Up to now, it had been brightly lit, indicating that Chara had been watching the proceedings. The assembly stared as the light from the stone increased to near blinding. When it dimmed, they could see that the stone's form had changed into that of a girl.
She appeared to be young - no more than ten years old. She was completely naked making the bulge of a near-term pregnancy very difficult to miss. She smiled sweetly as the assembled audience prostrated themselves before their Goddess.
Waddling in the fashion of very pregnant women, Chara moved over to the second of the day's candidates. The Goddess gently stroked the young woman's hair. "Honoring me, you have honored yourself and your family." The voice was soft and sweet, but reverberated powerfully throughout the large room. With a sudden pop, She vanished - the Presence stone reappearing in its accustomed spot.
With the Rite successfully concluded, the crowd of other candidates and spectators dispersed. As the Prince left, he gazed inscrutably at the bodies of the two girls where they lay on the floor. His soul screamed with sadness and outrage, but he did not allow it to show on his face.
Balelak waved his young apprentices in to clean up. The youngest, a lad of 8, had never seen this particular rite before and was unprepared for the sight of the disemboweled body of the unsuccessful candidate and the beautifully mutilated body of the successful one. The priest was very irritated with the boy who was both crying and vomiting. There was no helping it - Chara would not permit this weakness. His daggar quickly found itself buried in the boy's heart.
He instructed the remaining apprentices to throw the bodies of the first girl and the boy into the offal pit outside the city. There would be no mourning them and their failures.
He called to his senior assistant. They gazed upon the other girl's form, drinking in the beauty of her body and the carefully placed symbols, each carved into her skin by her own hand with the ceremonial knife, all glorifying Chara. They carefully and reverently gathered her breasts, clitoris and head, reuniting them with her body and placed her into the ceremonial coffin. Her remains would join the remains of the other successful candidates on the Tower of Chara's Love.
No one saw, minutes after the priest and his staff left, as Felood reentered the room and strode quietly over to the pool of blood in the center of Chara's altar. Strong feelings welled up inside of him as he stared at the mess. He brutally suppressed them and left as soundlessly as he had entered.
Feldor, the palace slave recruiter, carefully looked over the slaves of the small farm. It wouldn't do to just pick them at random. Life at the palace was a brutally dangerous place. Mediocre slaves tended to die too quickly, making his life harder than necessary. No, smart, healthy slaves - survivors - that was the way to go.
At the beginning of the next row, he halted, his eye caught on a young woman - a very healthy young woman. As he looked her over, she kept her head down, but regarded him nervously. He could feel her analyzing him. Will he pick me? he could almost hear her thinking.
"Girl," he asked her, "how do you like working here, on this farm?" He gently put his hand under her chin, tilting her face up so that he could see her better. Looking more closely, he realized that, under the caked on grime from the fields and the hideous utilitarian clothing, she was very beautiful.
"My Lord," she begged, "how can an unworthy such as myself even hope to know how to answer such a question?"
She was polite at least, and knew her place in Chara's world. He needed to see some personality, though. Feldor paused in thought before posing his next question.
"If the Queen, Chara's representative on things physical and the High Priest, Her representative on things spiritual, were to give you conflicting orders, which would you follow?"
It was an ugly question, with no correct answer. A long line of slave recruiters had developed many questions of this type, where the reaction to the question was more important than the answer itself.
The girl blinked in shock. He knew then, that she instantly understood just how difficult a question it was.
She dropped her head and whined softly, "My Lord, what could a common slave like myself ever do to attract the attention of both the Queen and the High Priest?"
A classic evasion technique! Though it took some intelligence to come up with that response, he knew that it took even greater bravery to actually say it. It was clear that not only was she unusually brave and intelligent. In addition, though, Feldor also sensed a certain... something.
He instructed his assistant to escort her to the palace immediately.
The trip to the palace was so far beyond her limited experience that she found it both frightening and exhilarating. She drank it the newness of it all, the sights, the sounds and the smells - anything that wasn't toiling in the fields, until she felt like her brain would explode.
She was travelling with five other women, four common slaves like herself, and Dujura, a Named Slave and one of Feldor's female assistants. As they were all in good health and provided with good walking shoes and plenty of rations, the trip was expected to take only about 6 days.
Almost from the very beginning, Dujura started reviewing information that the young women would need to know in their new duties at the palace. First, she reviewed Chara's laws. Farm slaves rarely had need to know more than five of the commandments, but in the palace, they would need to know them all by rote.
Next, she covered the four castes of Chara's people. The two slave classes they knew already. Common slaves, like herself, did all of the menial work. Named slaves handled more important duties. On Chara's farms, the foremen were all named slaves.
It took two whole days of their trip to cover the nobility. Not only did they need to know every rank of the caste, but also the badges and symbols they used and the correct terms of address.
Another two days were spent covering the royal family. Dujura reasoned that specific knowledge of each of the royals just might be useful.
During the remainder of the trip, they chatted freely about life at the palace and what to expect in their new positions.
They were still nearly a day away when the first sign of their destination appeared.
"It isn't the palace itself, but the 'Tower of Chara's Love'," Dujura said, pointing out a massive pyramid shapped structure. "It is a monument to the many women who have proven their love and devotion to the Mother Goddess."
It was several hours before they could see the palace itself. The stone of the walls and towers were still solid, but clearly worn by uncounted years. Sometimes, when the light was just right, the structure seemed more like the carcass of a dead animal just starting to rot in the hot sun.
Just as they were reaching the outer walls of the palace, Dujura gave them one final warning about its inhabitants and their own fates.
"When we enter the palace, I will escort you to a common area where you will stay until claimed by a royal or a noble in need of a slave. Whoever claims you will give you their crest, showing that you work for them. You will continue to work for that person until either they, or death, releases you."
"I know that up to this point, you girls have had little or no contact with either royals or nobles. Some of them treat everyone nicely. Many of them are nice to other nobles, but treat slaves like furniture. Most of the nobles, unfortunately, hate everyone and are thus very dangerous.
"May Chara's beneficence shine upon you."
The party formed a single file line as they entered the palace, with the young slave girl bringing up the rear.
At the entrance, they passed a wizened old lady. The other members of the party ignored her. She was prepared to do likewise, but the crest on the woman's dress caught her eye.
It was obviously a royal crest, though it wasn't one that her guide had mentioned. Without more information, it was impossible to act with certainty, so she guessed that the woman was a princess and gave the appropriate bow as she passed.
The woman seemed sad, lonely and distracted, returning the bow out of habit, but with no other hint of acknowledgement.
The group of slaves were long gone hours later when the Lady Aurella snapped out of her reverie with a start. Why had that one young slave girl bowed to her?
Later still, when the answer came to her in a flash of insight, she ran into the palace to search for the girl. She just wished that she had gotten a better look at her.
The young woman was scared and despondent. Being a nameless slave, toiling mindlessly in Chara's fields outside the city had been a comfortable, if hard life. Nothing much happened to her and nothing much was expected of her. Now her peace and comfort had been stripped away and she found herself sitting in the palace courtyard, waiting for some noble to claim her.
She didn't have long to wait. As Feldor had predicted, the first noble to enter the courtyard moved almost directly for her, claiming her immediately.
"I am the Lady Garia," she stated simply. "Never have I been fortunate enough to be first to select from a new batch of slaves. I see why it is considered a blessing."
Not knowing how to respond to the statement, or even if she should, the young woman continued to sit mutely.
A pleasant smile appeared on the Lady's face and she continued, "Come girl, we have things to do. But first, tell me your name."
The woman stood up, bowing her head, but said nothing.
"Don't be afraid, little one. I will not hurt you, but I need to know your name."
The lady's voice was gentle and soothing, eliciting a small measure of bravery. "I don't have one, milady."
Sadness tinged the Lady's voice as she replied. "That we shall have to remedy, and soon. For now though, I will call you simply 'girl'. Is that acceptable?" 'Girl' nodded her head mutely. "Alright then. Come along - we have so many things to do."
Lady Garia instructed her in how to behave at court, how to clean and care for the house and how to care for her three young children. Lady Garia, being the Queen's sister, was often needed at court, so it fell to the young slave woman to look after the children and insure that the household ran smoothly.
Felana's sentinel, much to his shock, found both the potential and the mate were now living in the palace. Perhaps the ancient prophesey could be fulfilled after all? To be free after all this time was almost unimaginable.
He found a quiet, abandoned building about 3 hours walk from the palace where he could sleep and store food stolen from nearby fields. It was difficult enough to get around the palace without arrousing suspicion, he didn't want to attract any extra attention by having to worry about basics of living during the time that he spent there.
The necessary parts were now in motion. All that he could do was wait until the time came for him to act.
After making all possible preparations, while enjoying a moment of peaceful rest, a stray thought made him start. The Lady Aurella, he realized, was in this area somewhere.
Seeing her again - now that would be a blessing.
For the first few weeks, the young slave girl didn't leave the Lady's apartments except in her company. The palace was almost a maze and the Lady Garia wanted her to have a chance to learn the layout reasonably well before asking her to run errands alone.
Her first solo trip was to a watering station inside the castle and near Lady Garia's apartments. Since her attire clearly indicated her status, the nobles just ignored her. Other slaves didn't quite ignore her; they watched her with considerable curiosity, but said nothing, yet.
Trips to the watering station quickly became a part of the girl's morning routine. It took nearly a week, but eventually, one of the other slaves struck up a conversation.
"My name is Clialia, what's yours?" The young woman asking had moved very close and spoke in a quiet whisper.
"I don't have a name," she replied. "My Lady calls me 'girl'."
The young woman started, and a pained look crossed her face briefly. "Has your Lady said anything about having a naming ceremony?" came an apprehensive reply.
"My Lady says that it will be necessary, but every time I ask about preparing for it, she changes the subject."
Clialia gave a nervous laugh before replying. "I guess she does. Well, my dear, I must go." The woman left quickly, but looked back and gave her a half-hearted wave.
It turned out that Clialia was one of the Queen's slaves and, as such, they would often end up in each other's company. She would never talk about the naming ceremony, but her Lady made arrangements for a sponsor and training. The reason why nobody talked about it quickly became obvious.
In the days and weeks that followed, Clialia introduced her to the other slaves working in the palace. Privately whispered warnings followed many of the introductions. The palace's denizens and frequent visitors included more than a few trouble makers plus several that were just plain dangerous.
The Lady Aurella hadn't really seen the girl who bowed to her that first time, outside the palace gates and so it took her several weeks to find the girl.
The restrictions on her form (that of a ghost) limited her mobility. Consequently, she staked out a frequently used corridor and began bowing to everyone who came by. She knew that only the girl that she was seeking would return her bow. She didn't have to wait for long.
She called after the young slave, a slip of a girl. "My child?" She whispered hopefully.
"Yes, my lady?" She answered politely while watchfully maintaining a respectable distance.
Upon hearing her reply, the old woman's face lit up. "You have come at last, child!" She said, half to her and half to himself. For nearly a minute, she cried, a strange mixture of joy and relief filling her face. She composed herself and placing her hands gently on the girl's shoulders, reassured her, "Hope has returned and all will be well."
The girl had many chores to see to and so she continued on her way. The strangeness of the encounter left her thoroughly puzzled, but the woman's parting words left her inexplicably happy. She wished that she had had more time to talk with her.
It was a sunny, warm spring day and, more than anything, 'Girl' loved the feel of the sun on her skin - it was one thing she missed about not working outside. She was just enjoying a moment alone sitting on a bench near the watering station when a soft voice almost startled her.
"Hello? Do you mind if I sit with you?"
She opened her eyes to see the old woman gesturing to the seat next to her. She smiled at the woman and nodded before closing her eyes again. "I've been wanting to talk with you, mi'lady."
"Not surprising. You want to know who I am, and why I was so happy to see you."
She nodded, only mildly surprised by the woman's insight.
"Do you have a name?"
"Not yet, mi'lady. My mistress calls me girl, for now."
"Ah. Well, girl, I am the Lady Aurella. Do you know why no one else seems to acknowledge me?"
Realizing the truth of her words, her eyes snapped open so that she could look at the lady. "No, mi'lady. Why?"
"It's because I'm dead."
Her words made no sense. "You look perfectly fine to me, how can you be dead?"
"I am a spirit, Girl. An apparition. I can only be sensed by my descendants."
This statement confused the girl even more. How could she be one of this Lady's descendants?
"What you see when you look at me is how I looked when I died, but I am far older than I appear. I have been a spirit for thousands of years, waiting."
"Waiting for what?"
"For you. For one of my progeny. For someone that could see me and would talk with me."
There was a desparate edge in her voice, a deeply rooted loneliness.
"I'm sorry, mi'lady, but nothing that you've said so far makes any sense."
"Perhaps I should start at the beginning, then?"
"I think, mi'lady, that it would be a big help."
"Many years ago, when I was Queen of this land, and Felana was the Mother Goddess, a young woman was born into a poor family in a remote part of the kingdom. Life was hard for her and her family; she vowed that no matter what it took, she would grow up to be rich and powerful.
"When she was old enough, she secured an apprenticeship with a powerful, young magician. She worked hard at her craft and so, in a very short time, as such things go, she became a journeyman and struck out on her own.
"She was already successful and powerful enough to comfortably support her family, but the taste of power proved to be addictive. She worked to find ever more powerful magic and to master it, until, finally, she was both the most powerful person in the world and the most evil and corrupt.
"It did not take her long to realize that only one more level of power existed in the world - the Mother Goddess Felana. The greed that had seized her heart could not be assuaged by second place, so she worked ever harder until she found the means to destroy Felana and become the Mother Goddess in her stead.
"After overthrowing Felana, this woman had me and my family murdered and all our palaces destroyed. To rule in my place, she elevated a woman from a family loyal to her to be queen. That family has ruled ever since.
"What Chara did not know was that two of my youngest children were visiting cousins in a remote country village. Their caretakers spirited them away into hiding. They survived and had children, grand children, great grand children and so on until, many generations gone by, all knowledge of their royal heritage was lost - save one thing.
"It is one of the laws of this world that a rightful queen of this land may, at her death, choose to stay and counsel her heirs. Only a rightful heir to the throne may see or hear the spirit and only the spirit will hear anything that it spoken directly to her.
"So, girl, since you can see and hear me, then you must be a descendant of mine and could legitimately be queen of this world. As long as Chara is goddess though, you will remain a slave."
Her, Queen? The absurdity of the statement nearly made her laugh. In fact, the entire story must be complete fabrication, mustn't it? For now, she could not come up with a single thing to say in response to the woman's story, so she closed her eyes, sat back and continued to relax in the warm sun.
Shortly afterward, the old woman nervously called to her. "Girl - you need to get up." She opened her eyes to discover that she was surrounded by a pack of male slaves.
During her days on the farm, she'd had occasion to witness predators hunting. This had the same feel to it, but this time, she was the prey.
"Hello there, girl." said one man near the front. He stepped out of the pack as he neared her. His voice sounded playful, but the expression on his face and body language radiated menace.
Though she wouldn't remember it, or realize the significance, until later, the man had walked right through the form of the Lady Aurella.
He walked right up to her as the crowd continued to close in and, when it made a tight circle around her, the leader started alternately pushing and groping her. Fear was overwhelming conscious thought, but her instincts took over and she started pushing back.
"What are you doing? Leave me alone!"
Speech seemed to be her only recourse as hands appeared from the crowd at random. One grabbed her top, ripping it off. Another balled into a fist and slammed into her kidney. The pain nearly drove her to her knees, but she suspected that if she fell, she might never get up.
The crowd began chanting as it continued to close in on her. "Royal scum. Royal scum," she finally was able to make out just as a long nailed hand raked her back leaving a set of long, jagged, bleeding cuts. She screamed from the pain.
A hand reached out, ripping off her skirt. A knee came up and slammed into her crotch. A second fist slammed into her other kidney. She was unable to bear the pain any further and darkness claimed her.
Gradually, she realized that she was awake - and alive.
Not knowing what to expect, she opened her eyes. She saw that Clialia and Her Lady were sitting next to her. Their faces were at first anxious, then relieved as they realized that she was awake. Looking around further, she realized that she was on the bed in her own bedroom of her mistress's apartment.
"How are you feeling?" asked her friend.
"Awful!" she spat back. "What happened?"
Lady Garia slipped off of the bed and beckoned towards a young man standing in the back corner of the room. "Girl, this is my youngest brother, Lord Broon."
Lord Broon was definitely her brother - the family resemblance was obvious. He bowed to her politely before speaking. "We're not sure exactly. Before the crowd appeared, what were you doing?"
She looked around the room and realized that quite a crowd was present. The attention was making her nervous, but she sensed from his tone that the young Lord was only trying to help.
"I had gone to get our daily water ration. When I arrived at the watering station, it was empty and peacefully quiet. The morning sun was shining onto a bench near a small bed of flowers. There's nothing that I enjoy more than sitting in the sun, enjoying nature's beauty."
Broon and Garia traded a look of recognition burdened with sadness. Her Lady spoke, "Well, girl, being a member of the royal family is a special responsibility - a gift, if you will - given to us by Chara. In return, She expects us to be constantly working in Her service."
Broon continued, "Any member of the royal family or their staff who loses focus gets a little reminder. The entire scene that you experienced was arranged and controlled by Her."
The girl couldn't imagine how one minute of peace justified such a severe beating, but she vowed that she would be more careful.
They had her lay back down in her bed to rest. As they filed out, she saw the Lady Aurella moving with the group. She smiled at Aurella to reassure the former queen that she was fine before rolling over and going to sleep.
The incident proved to be a turning point in her relationships with the other palace inhabitants. Members of the royal family and their staff now saw her as one of them. Wherever she went, they would greet her with a friendly word. All non-royals now ignored her. The Lady Aurella would usually walk with her whenever she could.
Wherever she went and whatever she did, the incident weighed constantly on her mind. She enjoyed talking with Clialia, mostly just sharing palace gossip, but she was constantly aware of the danger of enjoying it too much.
She was puzzled about one thing. Farm gossip consisted, more than anything, of a litany of who was sleeping with whom. Nothing of the sort was even whispered at the palace. Finally, her curiosity got the better of her and she asked Clialia.
Her friend replied, "Farm slaves are given considerable latitude since they truly have nothing and amount to nothing. The rest of us have to strictly follow all of Chara's commandments - specifically the Third Major Commandment."
"Only in the Rite of Conception shall a man lay with a woman," the girl responded automatically. "How does that work, though?"
"It isn't something that is talked about. I haven't gone through it yet, but I tended to Lady Garia her last time. She was in bad shape right after. She was badly bruised and she was bleeding from her bottom."
The girl didn't know what to make of that, but it certainly didn't sound very good.
Shortly thereafter, things became very busy. She began training for the Rite of Naming while Clialia started preparing the Queen's youngest daughter for the Rite of Induction. She didn't see her friend for awhile.
The girl was getting water weeks later when she saw her friend sitting on a bench. She wasn't sure which was more alarming, her friend's eyes, red and watery from heavy crying, the dark circles caused by lack of sleep or the haunted expression that she wore. All thoughts of her errand evaporated as she rushed forward.
"Clialia - are you ok? How can I help?"
Her friend lifted her head to say something, only to break out into a body-wracking sobs. The girl did the only thing that she could think of - she wrapped her friend in a consoling hug. Time lost all meaning as she sat with her friend.
When Clialia had calmed down, the girl asked her to share her troubles.
"It's the training for the Rite of Induction," her friend replied. "I've known the queen's daughter practically her entire life. She's such a sweet, friendly child and it's my job to torture her so that she'll be able to go through this painful and humiliating ritual without stumbling."
"Surely it can't be that bad." It was almost a question.
"Yes," Clialia replied. "Yes, it's every bit that bad." Her friend paused in thought, then continued sadly, "and you'll probably have to train Brayla for it too."
After realizing how long they had been sitting there, the girls said their good-byes and returned to their duties. Girl was left wondering what could possibly be so bad about that rite as to cause her friend that much pain.
She asked both Ladies Garia and Aurella about it, but both deliberately ducked the question by changing the subject.
One year after coming to the palace, she found herself kneeling in Chara's temple, about to begin the Rite of Naming. She wore a new dress, given to her by her Lady especially for this occasion. Her Lady's thoughtfulness was just one of the things that made being her slave a joy.
Her Lady was not there today, but she understood why. The Rite was both harsh and difficult and deliberately so. Named slaves received considerable freedom, but first they must prove their loyalty to Chara.
"Oh, Chara, our dearest Mother. Please welcome your humble slave into your temple and grant her the smallest of your Blessings." Her voice quavered slightly, but it was strong and clear. Her Lady's youngest brother, Lord Broon, smiled encouragingly from the place reserved for her sponsor.
"I come here to prove my worth to you and to receive the smallest token of your affection - a name." She completed her Statement of Intent.
Barenak, the junior priest presiding over the ceremony, reached over and
grabbed the tab of the girl's ceremonial gown, stripping the garment away. Because of her slave discipline, the sudden nakedness made her only mildly uncomfortable.
After performing the Revelation, he chanted for several minutes in the Old Tongue. 'Chara', the ancient word for 'mother' was the only word she recognized.
He then handed her the ceremonial knife. It was time for her to perform a Minor Cleansing. She must use the knife to trace onto the skin of each arm one of Chara's symbols and then rub her blood onto the Presence Stone of the altar. This was the trickiest part of the ceremony.
Working carefully, she drew the symbols. She saw them slowly form and that they met Chara's standards of quality - not an easy thing to do considering the pain. It took considerable will power not to flinch or cry out, but she knew than any sound would be her last.
As she rubbed her blood into the stone, it came to life indicating the presence of the Goddess. The priest chanted and then paused. A soft, feminine voice whispered "Prove that you love me."
The girl took two wide, flat paddles from Lord Broon and began to slap them against her flesh in a meticulous pattern. Carefully designed to cause considerable pain without causing significant harm, the paddles quickly turned her skin an angry red color. She reached the end of the routine, breathing hard and sweating profusely, but making no other sound.
An expectant silence filled the temple, then the voice intoned "I love you too, Moai".
"I accept my name, Moai, Great Mother and I pledge myself eternally to your service," said the young girl, completing the Rite. The Presence Stone went dark and everyone quickly departed. Moai and her sponsor, Lord Broon moved quickly to Her Lady's apartments in the palace where the usual routine quickly returned. A strange urge to celebrate filled Moai's entire being, but she knew that Chara would not approve of such foolishness.
In his own chamber, Barenak was enjoying a good laugh at her expense. The name 'Moai' that the young slave girl was so proud of was from an obscure, now dead, northern dialect. It referred to beautiful young female slaves whose minds had been destroyed by powerful drugs so that their bodies could then be sexually abused without resistance. Chara was pleased to see the priest laughing. What's the point of irony if nobody appreciated it?
Being a named slave of a great lady only increased the demands on her time. In addition to caring for the house and children, she was often called upon to attend Her Lady at official functions and to carry messages throughout the palace.
Such an errand took Moai to the corridor near the Queen's apartment. The message and it's reply were both important and urgent, her mistress had told her. Moai's frantic hurrying abruptly brought her face to face with a young man, very much surprised to find himself nearly run over. Prince Felood was greatly amused by the rapid progression of emotions on her face, from surprise, to recognition and then fear.
Sensing an imminent panic, the Prince calmly grasped her arm and gently placed a finger on her lips. "I suppose that I need to be more careful, milady." He softly whispered into her ear.
The ridiculousness of the situation nearly made her laugh. "I am so very sorry your Highness," she begged as she threw him an impossibly fast bow.
Felood had often seen the young woman in the company of his mom and aunt, but he had not really paid attention to her. It surprised him how he much her beauty affected him when confronted by it at such close quarters. He needed to get away from her before his self control failed.
"Please carry on," he told her, gesturing behind him in the direction that she was headed. He stared after her quickly disappearing form, with only a look of deep concentration to be seen on his face as she opened the door to his mother's apartment and went in without announcement.
The time had arrived for the Rite of Induction for Jellala, the Queen's only daughter. Moai was not familiar with this rite, but she was well aware of how badly the preparations had weighed on Clialia's mind. Thankfully, after today, it would all be behind them.
Having heard that it was a fairly gruesome rite, Moai had wanted to avoid it, but the Lady had insisted - her oldest daughter would begin preparing for this same rite very soon herself.
Almost from the beginning, the rite caused a nervous knots in her stomach and a sour taste in her mouth. Seeing these sweet, beautiful, young girls forcing themselves to perform these rituals nearly made her vomit.
Her only consolation was that Jellala was doing exceptionally well. Her friend should be proud of her young student. Clearly, she knew the ritual cold and was performing it with an ease born of confident knowledge.
The royal family and staff relaxed as the young princess continued to acquit herself well throughout the long ritual. Finally, it was over and she had committed not one mistake. The royal party breathed a collective sigh of relief.
The crowd waited for the closing pronouncement from the priest, but there seemed to be a problem. The three priests present for the ritual were in a heated discussion that dragged on for several minutes. Just as a gentle murmur began to spread through the crowd, Balelak, the senior priest, appeared to pull rank to end the debate and everyone resumed their places.
Balelak cleared his throat before speaking, "As none of the young women today committed any breach of the ritual, we have been forced to judge the quality and sincerity of the applicants for induction into Chara's family."
He paused and the co-presider continued, "It has been decided that Jellala gave the poorest presentation today, and we do therefore commit her to the training hall for the Rite of Graduation for this cycle's newly ordained priests. Chara's love be with all of you." He intoned, completing the rite.
Like a tidal wave, shock and dismay from the pronouncement washed over the royal family. They all watched helplessly as the young princess was dragged away by the temple guards. Sensing that nothing good could come of staying, the Queen and her sister, the Lady Garia, quickly ushered them all out of the chamber to the Queen's quarters.
Once behind closed doors, the emotional backlash from the devastating turn of events exploded through the room.
Two days later, Moai was travelling to the Queen's chambers when she passed a procession of priests moving through the hall pushing a cart containing a badly abused body. The priests gave her a cruel smile as they passed. That night, she awoke screaming from a nightmare as her sub-conscious mind finally identified the body as Jellala's.
Weeks later, the royal family was still burdened with grief. Moai's nightmares had subsided to about once a week.
She had just gotten the kids asleep and was leaving the nursery when an animated discussion broke out in the greeting chamber. She checked to make sure that the kids were not woken before carefully closing the door behind her to investigate the disturbance.
The Lady Garia and her sister Queen Gelana froze in mid-discussion as Moai entered the room. She curtsied politely before asking, "Your Highness, My Lady, can I be of any assistance this evening?"
Her Lady shared a look with her sister and her Lady nodded. The Queen gently took Moai's elbow and guided her to a nearby couch.
"Moai," Gelana began, "I know that you and Clialia have become close friends, so I wanted you to know what was happening and why."
Moai didn't know what to say, so she waited expectantly for her to continue.
"You're familiar with Chara's second major commandment?"
"When one dies, one must be born."
"Very good. In practice, it is left to the family of someone who dies to provide for a birth to satisfy the commandment. With Jellala's death, I must arrange for someone in my household to become pregnant."
Moai didn't know where this was going. She was sure that her perplexion was visible when The Queen continued.
"Moai, your friend Clialia is the only woman in the household right now that can be spared for this duty. She will be participating in the Rite of Conception next month."
She thanked The Queen for telling her and was allowed to retire to her chamber.
Her Lady's oldest daughter, Brayla, turned nine and Moai found herself saddled with a new chore. She loved working for her Lady and cheerfully performed any other task asked of her. This one, however, she loathed.
"In a few months," Lady Garia exploded, "Brayla must undergo the Rite Of Induction, bringing her into Chara's family. I am very sure that I do not have to remind you how difficult the ceremony is, though I'm not sure that you know exactly what happens to failed candidates: the girl is taken as an offering for the ascendancy of newly ordained priests. As part of the ritual, the new priests take the girl into a room and sexually brutalize her until she is dead."
Moai was painfully aware of what the ritual entailed, and even more painfully aware of the consequences of failure - Jellala still haunted her dreams regularly. Her mistress continued, speaking more softly. "So you see, Moai, that to hold back from her training would be doing Brayla no favor, but would risk her life."
There was a long pause, while Moai struggled to suppress her fear and grief. "I will do my best," she finally managed.
"I know you will," the lady consoled her. "There is one other thing I want to remind you of. Seven girls go through the ceremony at a time and at least one girl will be taken as an offering. If no girl fails, they will take the girl whose rituals are judged the poorest.
"Like Jellala, Brayla being a member of the royal family will make her a target. It is almost certain that unless one of the other candidates commits a breach of the ritual that Brayla will suffer the same fate. It is not fair, but we must recognize the ugly reality of the situation."
Her eyes went wide and she struggled to find words to express her horror. Chara's ninth edict came, unwelcome into her tongue, "Chara's ways are both good and just." She whispered. She kept to herself the remainder of the edict, "Doubters and detractors will learn this truth and despair."
The Lady smiled, pleased with her understanding of the situation. Brayla's training resumed the next morning. Moai hated it all the more and found herself struggling to suppress the emotions that coursed through her.
The Rite of Conception hadn't even begun yet and already Prince Felood was hating it. The success of the last Rite of Sacrifice had rocketed him to the top of Chara's list of favorites - even though he really had nothing to do with it. Getting picked to participate in this rite was supposed to be one of Chara's greatest honors. As the Chief Sorcerer, he had been "honored" a number of times before.
It was an honor that he would have happily foregone. Unfortunately, to do so would be certain death.
This particular Rite of Conception had taken an ugly and unexpected twist when his mother's young slave girl, Clialia, was included. He knew the girl well and would probably be able to recognize her. The drawback was that if her identity were to come out, she would quickly become a target for the most brutal and sadistic of the rite's participants.
Felood kept an eye out as the remaining male participants assembled. They were, pretty much to a man, the worst group of thugs that he could possibly imagine. He couldn't believe that the women participants would sign up for this abuse - if it weren't for Chara's second major commandment.
A gong rang out. The crowd of men became deathly quiet. The pregnant pause was broken by the entrance of the women - each led by a priest.
The hoods that covering the women's heads did a pretty good job of hiding their identity, but it was trivially easy for him to pick out Clialia. The only chance she had was anonymity. He wasn't really worried that the others would recognize her, they just weren't that smart. As long as he didn't give her away she should be fine.
The women were moved to the ceremonial platforms and their hands bound to a strong metal frame. Except for brief breaks to use a bathroom, there they would stay for the next day or more.
As much as he hated it, he knew what was expected of him. He kept a sigh to himself as he randomly selected one of the women. He wasn't sure but he thought he recognized her body. Vowing to just get it over with, Felood use his fingers to insure that the young woman's vagina was a least slightly moist before entering her.
The whole thing was so cold and impersonal that he was having trouble maintaining an erection. His fellow participants had no such trouble. He was nowhere near his own climax when the first of the other male participants let go with theirs.
Felood started worrying that he wouldn't be able to orgasm at all. The concern naturally was producing the worst possible reaction - his penis became almost completely soft in the young woman's vagina. He despaired for a solution when an odd passing thought struck him.
His erection quickly solidified and, almost immediately, he filled the woman's vagina with his first orgasm's sperm - all the while imagining the young slave girl, Moai. He felt terribly guilty, but the thought was powerfully arousing.
He was enjoying the calm of the aftermath when the one phrase that he most dreaded exploded from the far corner.
"We have a bleeder."
It was fairly common for the thugs who participated in these rites to abuse the women's anuses. Even Chara had been forced to act - by Her edict, the men were only allowed to climax in the women's vagina.
As the Chief Sorcerer, he had been able to go one step further, insisting that an enema and some lubrication become a standard part of the preparations for this rite - several women had miscarried because of severe vaginal infections. Unfortunately, it wasn't always enough. Occasionally, one of the women would experience a tear in the tender back tissues.
He moved on, selecting, as his next partner, a woman near the commotion. He knew that there was nothing he could do, but he wanted to know who it was.
What he saw placed an icy grip on his heart - it was Clialia. With anticipation hanging in the air, a pack formed around her. He knew, from sad, past experience, that she wasn't going to make it. The jackals would abuse her until she bled to death.