The Dragon's Backbone
Prologue: The choice
Copyright© 2007 by Oz Ozzie
Fantasy Sex Story: Prologue: The choice - A young girl who is an addict finds love, magic and redemption in a wilderness adventure.
I met the man I would love forever the day they gave me the death sentence.
The jailor made me dig my own grave in the soft earth. I looked into the hole where they would put me after my death and wondered why I wasn't able to feel anything. I wondered whether they would even give me a gravestone. What would it say?
"Zia, Whore and Seedie."
I wondered how I had come to this. I shouldn't have turned out this way, an utter failure. My life had promised more than this when I was young. I had grown up in the village of Undartha, a few days travel from the city in a poor farming area. Although my parents were very poor, just farm labourers, and we struggled for food, all my memories of my early days are happy and full of laughter.
I roamed the village and the hills with my older brothers and their friends, playing and exploring through the farmlands. I always wanted to play healer, and my brothers let me bandage them when they were scratched. The more I did it, the better I got, and then I learned to make poultices from some seeds that grew in the hills to help them to heal quickly. When the village healer heard of this, he spoke to my father and I became his apprentice. For me, this was an important choice. I was growing, starting on path to becoming a woman, and I was no longer as welcome to roam with the boys as I had been. Becoming a healer would give me real status in the village, and I would be able to find a better husband when I was older. The healer treated me like a grumpy old man, but I still loved the work.
I would have been happy, very happy, even working for the grumpy old man, but my mother died suddenly from a severe winter flu not long after I started working as the healer's apprentice. I now know that there was nothing I could have done, nothing at all. But I didn't know that then, when my world came crashing down around me. My father was never the same after this. He drank, and he couldn't find work - when he even looked for it. My brothers lost their friends. Oh yes, village people are harsh, no doubt about it. I was the only one who worked, and we lived on my tiny apprentice income. I think that my brothers stole food and money.
As the healers apprentice, I learnt how to read peoples health from their breath, skin and aura. I learnt how to use herbs and ointments, how to bind cuts and pull teeth. I learnt other things too, about how to start and finish life. I liked births the most. How I wanted to be a real healer, it was my true calling in life. But it would take me years of practice and study before I could be a real healer. So I gave myself, heart and soul, to that old healer so I could learn my appointed trade. And the people of my village laid their naked bodies and souls before me. I knew their birthmarks and their life marks; their secrets, and their affairs.
The day of my eighteenth birthday was something I had been looking forward to for many years. On this day, I would be of age. I would be able to ask the healer to go to healer school and he would arrange it for me — I needed his reference. And that was the very first thing I did that morning. But he refused. He said that he would only let me go to the healer's school once I had given him my body as well as my heart and soul.
The healer, the lecherous fool, is the first of the three men who ruined my life.
He threw me out. He told me that I knew what I had to do if I wanted to be his apprentice any more. I went home to my father and told him what the old fool had said. He told me to stop acting like a spoilt princess, and go back and give the old healer what he wanted, that we needed the money, he had to eat. I refused and shouted at him, so he put his hand over my mouth. I struggled, and then my father tried to take me himself.
My father, the drunken sot, is the second of the three men who ruined my life.
I kicked my father in the groin and he collapsed, and then I took my medicine bag and walked out. I had nowhere to go. Nowhere. I knew how my brothers looked at me in the one bedroom we shared, how they stared when I changed behind my curtain. I knew I was a pretty girl, and I saw the desire in their eyes. I would not be safe now, not from my family either. And with the secrets I knew of the village...
I thought of staying with the Thain of the village. His daughter was my age and we had twice saved her from the embarrassment of childbirth. They couldn't turn me away. As I came to his door, I saw the healer leaving. I wondered what he had said to them. When he saw me he broke into a toothy grin, and looked me over like my brothers.
I fled. I never saw anyone from the village of Undartha again. I made my way to the city. I thought that surely there would be a place for a young nearly trained healer in the city, and I was full of hope. I had no money, so I slept outside in the late summer nights and ate from the forest until I arrived at the city, hungry for real food. In my innocent state, I had imagined a place for a young healer in the city.
Perhaps there was, but there is also a place for a pretty young girl newly arrived in the city, and her not nearly as worldly-wise as she thinks she is. And that place came and found me within minutes of walking through the city gate. I know now that they watch the city gate, looking for girls like me who drift in from the country. But I didn't know it then.
A beautiful girl, not much older than me, with bright fashionable clothes, lovely hair, and laughter in her eyes made friends with me and took me to a tavern. Bridget and I shared the best meal I had ever eaten, and over some real wine, I told her my story, and she promised to introduce me to a healer the next day.
When she found out that I had nowhere to stay that night, she insisted that I stay with her for the night. Even her spare bed was a real bed. I was in paradise - I had never slept in a real bed. She changed to a beautiful nightgown - I was entranced at the idea of a nightgown that made someone appear so desirable. I wondered whether she had a boyfriend - or even a lover. She seemed so mature. I felt so country, so backwards, so inadequate compared to her, in my filthy undershirt. If only my life had been like hers - how much happier I would be. Maybe I might even have a boyfriend.
From a draw in her dresser, she produced a velvet bag with a sweet pungent smell. She took some seeds out of it, crushed them, and then split them into two parts. She told me to take it, that they were a nice dessert to finish off a wonderful night. In my desperation to be like her, I didn't think about it - after all she was going to eat them too.
Oh the bliss, I cannot describe it. It is so wonderful, the dreamlike state you enter when you eat the selial seed. All I can say is that it is better than any other experience you can have. No pain, no suffering. And then, after that wonderful state, you enter a dreamless sleep. I had heard of selial seed before, but it was against the law to have any, so I'd never thought that I'd see it myself.
I was addicted. I gave my virginity to a man by the name of Tom, that Bridget introduced to me as her lover, in exchange for a small packet of selial seed. He owned me after that. Any person, any time, any how, I gave myself to any depravity anyone could imagine. All I got in payment was a small packet of Selial seeds after my whoring was done.
Tom, the bastard, was the third of the three men who ruined my life.
Oh, I wanted to die. For a year, I lived in his brothel. I worked every day. I tried to run away. I tried going without the selial seed. But it was no good. Every night, I had to have it. And the better the tips I got for Tom, the more Selial seed he gave me. I tried to build up a supply so I could run away, but I couldn't. I didn't have the wit or the backbone anyway. The selial seed kept me in a haze of desire. For the seed, not for the other thing I did in my life. Though I had a certain skill at that. I was the busiest of the girls, even though not quite the prettiest.
I knew I had reached the depths of depravity when I performed the same seduction on a newly arrived country girl that Bridget had done to me. I got three days off whoring for that, and I spent all three days in seedie bliss state. Bridget had died, of the pox. I had done my best for her, but I could see that she didn't want to live. I hoped for the pox. It couldn't be long, surely, and it was the only way out that I could think of.
One night, near dawn, just as the night's work was complete, soldiers burst into the brothel. I was sitting at a table near the front desk crushing my seed for the night. Caught in the act. They stripped me, and dragged me, naked, through the city streets to the barracks, and threw me into a cell. In the morning, they put me before a judge in prison garb. I was caught, red-handed; "Zia, Whore and Seedie". I only said one word in the whole trial: "Guilty."
The judge sentenced me to six months in the local jail, and a tattoo on my forehead marking me as a convicted whore. I knew that I would die, having to go without selial seed. I passed Tom on the way out of the court. He would die in the public square later that day, for his crimes of owning a whorehouse and selling selial seed. How I wished to see that. But they took me back to the cell.
The jailer told me what would happen to me. As a seedie, I would go insane without the seed. I would yell and scream and the jailers would have to listen to me. So instead of putting me in a solitary cell, they would put me in the open jail with both men and women. The other prisoners would use me as they saw fit until I was fully insane, then they would kill me. The longest a seedie whore had ever lasted was five days.
So they made seedie whores dig their own grave first. It seemed fitting, he said, since we were walking dead anyway.
I looked in my grave, and saw the wreckage I had made of my life. I thought about what he had said. I could see myself in there. All too soon, I would be there. I was afraid. I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of dying. Somehow it had never seemed real before. I was afraid of what would happen in the jail. Most of all, I was afraid of having to go without seed.
I jumped into my grave, and asked him to fill it right then. He laughed and laughed. Then he told me that the prisoners already knew that they were getting a new toy, and that he'd hate to let them down. In fact, he was looking forward to watching. He took me back to the cell. He stripped me of my prison clothes and left me naked. That was how I would enter the jail, he told me, but I had a couple of visitors first, and he wanted me to look my best, such as it was, for them.
The first visitor was a healer. He looked me over, and commented in surprise that I didn't have the pox. I asked him to give me something to make me die. He looked shocked and said that he was a healer, and wouldn't do that. I told him I knew better, that I had been a healer's apprentice. He looked at me with contempt - "a healer, and now a seedie? You deserve every minute of what happens to you." He left.
I crawled into the corner and wept. Perhaps I did deserve it, but I was so afraid.
My second visitor was a frontier soldier. He wore the uniform - fur and leather, dark face, hard eyes, and he walked the frontier soldier's walk. I had seen enough of them.
He looked at me. "Sit in the seat."
What, naked? But what did I care; I sat in the seat. Whatever this was, it was going to be bad.
"I offer you a choice. A chance."
I looked at him. How did this make sense? Would it give me life? Would it get me seed?
"I am taking a squad of men into the mountains, to The Dragon's Backbone, for winter, to guard the passes against the enemy. They get lonely and cold up there. You can come with us for winter, look after the squad."
I looked at him. Winter? Whore? In the mountains? What about seed? I'd heard about The Dragon's Backbone, they were a forbidding range of mountains on the far side of the kingdom. In winter they'd be cold, so cold. Yes, I was sure that whoring was what he wanted from me. "Will I get seed?" I asked.
"No." he said, decisively. "If you try to do that, I will kill you."
"But I won't even survive tonight." I could feel the raging desire - I had missed last night.
"It's six days travel on horseback into the mountains. You cannot travel without it. I would give it to you until then."
I leapt up to kiss him, to hug him, to - I don't know what. Seed!
"I know you will come, for those six days. But then there will be no more seed. And I will hold you to your choice."
Yes, yes, what did I care. Anything.
He made me swear to my bargain - winter with his squad and no seed - on the patron of the healers, Heroclynius.
Healer - he knew I was a healer?
"Oh yes, I know who you are."
"But I will die with no seed"
"No. You will go insane for a week or so, and you will always have a desire for it. But you can survive."
Oh, seed, for six days, then I would see. But there was no choice, here and now, jail or six days of seed. Death, or the Dragon's Backbone.
I had always wanted to see the mountains, I told myself.