A Harem Fantasy Ch. 01bymadam_noe©
I was born a rarity and since the day it was discovered, I have been sheltered. To keep my skin pale, my hair red, I was locked away from the sun's rays. Because of the marking of my hair it was known that I would join the Queen's harem, but what it actually meant I had no idea. My education was not like that of my sisters.
They were made to weave cloth, learn the art of strategy and battle, learn trades and land management. My brothers were taught the arts and made servile for their future wives. I was given knowledge.
My own mother had died upon my birth and my father was little more than a handsome face and trained muscles, so a tutor was brought in. It was a man, a man the villagers referred to as "light keeper," but the meaning of that was never explained.
He was tall and thin, not as bulky as the other men his muscles were long and lean and natural, his face all hard angles, his eyes harsh or kind depending on the light, or my mischief. All day long I was taught the history of our elders the science of our brethren, the politics of modern day. I learned ledgers and ciphering, languages and philosophy, and strange arts.
My brothers were taught fighting and dancing so as to please their future wives, some arts not taught to women, but what I learned was very similar. I learned things no one else knew, secrets of the elders I was sworn to uphold.
It seemed every age brought a ritual, and like all things I was made to look forward to them at night. My first Equinox Vernal I was baptized into the Order of the Moon, a religion only practiced by the High Priestesses of Caldor, the capital city a thousand miles away. My second, a tree was planted in the village center in my honor. My third a new kind of rose was sent from Caldor, bred by the High Gardener herself. My fourth I passed the trials of Caldor, becoming a low priestess. My fifth brought my tutor, at my sixth my hair was cut for the first time. On my seventh there was a draught and they sacrificed two white bulls to me while I blessed the fields. Our harvest was large.
My eighth and I became a page to Lady Callie Marlowe, who had fought as a knight in the battle of Treole, my ninth and I became a published poet. At my tenth I sacrificed two bulls by my own hand so thirty women could have babies, my eleventh I became a healer of the village. My twelfth and I celebrated womanhood on the Equinox Vernal, as if it had been ordained. I was told it was.
That made me a high priestess. My thirteenth brought the markings around my ankles, braided tattoos that resembled restraints. My fourteenth and my Tutor brought me to the capital of our province with Callie Marlowe, and I was made a knight. My fifteenth and I joined the hunt. My sixteenth and I took a paige to train, my seventieth and I learned how to dance the dance of eight veils, a dance no other woman I knew hand learned.
Then my eighteenth came.
My tutor was named Cassipe, a man who'd been born and raised in Caldor as a servant to the queen, the old queen. The new queen had come to power during my twelfth year after the old one had passed. When Cassipe mourned her for ten days I knew he had been one of her men.
The Queen was forbidden to marry, forbidden to have children. She kept a harem of men and women to see to her needs, at that time I had no idea what that meant, and queens were chosen by merit and beauty from the harem.
When this was explained to me I began to realize I was being groomed to be a contender, but seeing as the new queen and I were only six years apart that seemed unlikely.
The old queen died a month before the Equinox Vernal and with every year the day was marked by a quiet Cassipe. When I was seventeen Vernals he was silent from that anniversary until the night when we all aged another year.
A year earlier I had been given my own servants, two girls from the village three years younger than I and forbidden to speak to me. Or they were supposed to be, but we talked openly. On the Vernal night they were ordered by my tutor to bathe me, dress me in thin white robes, and to bring me to the temple of the moon that had been built for me in the back of our gardens. Cassipe ordered my father to keep all of his remaining children inside the main house and I alone walked in the gardens.
Both moons were high, casting such a bright pink-blue glow that the torches were extinguished. I was shivering in the night air, unsure of what to expect. I never knew what would come, but so far my surprises had all been good.
I entered the temple to find it lit by what seemed like a thousand candles, all white tapers with perfectly gold flames. The roof was opened to the twin moons, shining their blue and pink light down onto the large altar that sat in the middle of the room. That night it had been covered in pillows and draped with white silk, fringed with gold.
Behind the altar stood Cassipe in a robe like my own, white with gold trim. It seemed strange to see him in the color as white was forbidden by all but the Priestesses to wear. The first time I had worn a white gown Cassipe had looked up from the breakfast table at me and pronounced it was to be all I wore.
He was tanned like a lowborn farm laborer and the white made his skin seem even darker a bronze, a shade closer to his dark eyes. His hair was blonde but the sun had made it almost white long ago, and tonight his long hair was loose and flowed into the robe as if they were one.
He was fifteen Vernals older than I, and a complete autocrat who taught me total obedience to him and the order, but that had not stopped my tender feelings. He was quite handsome, sought after by all the local women, but for eighteen years he had refused them all in order to raise me.
After the last Equinox Vernal, on a hunt, I had looked at him too long, and he had ordered that I never look him in the eye, so I fixed my gaze on his chin.
"Virtal, tonight you are eighteen Vernals."
I said nothing as I had not been solicited. The sense of obedience was commanded only by him, as even the mayor and governor were my inferiors. I wondered, not for the first time, how our statuses would be in Caldor. I secretly suspected he would also be my inferior.
In my nights I imagined all sorts of things, touching we never did in the day. I had no idea of what men and women did in the darks of their rooms, that knowledge was forbidden to me, but it did not stop my dark imaginings. As the only men I saw were my family and Cassipe, it made sense he was the face I saw in the night.
"Six years ago the first step on the bridge to womanhood was taken, and tonight will be your last."
Our eyes met sharply and he looked away first. I watched his throat bob and cast my eyes down again. I felt electric and trembling with anticipation, though I tried hard to calm myself.
"Lay on the alter, facing the moons."
I hesitated and took a deep breath, climbing atop the soft alter and lying down on my back. The moons were above me, looking so close and large that they appeared as if they were going to collide. At the height of the Equinox Vernal they would pass by each other so close that Huginal, the closer moon, would dip five hundred miles closer than its normal orbit. At that moment all the tides would surge, the birds call out, and the world rejoice that another year had passed.
I folded my hands on my stomach and swallowed.
"Virtal, you must understand that I would sooner slay myself than cause you harm, no?"
"When a woman takes this step there is pain. No one knows why, but it happens for all. It will happen only the first time."
His voice was off to the side and I wanted to look at him for reassurance but I was frozen, staring at the moons creeping closer together.
"This ceremony is as old as time for the priestesses. Normally it is a priest who carries it out but the priest who was sent for you has been missing for a week now. So I must take his place. These men have been taught from the beginning of their education to complete this act causing minimal pain, but pleasure is to be forbidden to the priestess.
"Having done this in effect for a few other women in my time, I do not think it conscionable to carry out without pleasure for both, and I am not bound by the same laws," he said softly.
"Close your eyes, Virtal, and I promise you will enjoy this."
I closed my eyes but trembled, unsure of what it was he meant. Pain, pleasure, what on earth could he mean? And then I felt his hands placing mine at my side, and then my robe was parted.
I was naked beneath and though I had been naked in front of my maids often I had never been so before a man. The air felt cool and the tip of my breasts hardened as they did when I was alone with my deepest, darkest thoughts.
I felt his fingers brush them and I gasped, biting my lip to keep the sound in, waiting for permission but he said nothing. The tips hardened even more and then I felt him pinch them both. I tried to hold back the moan but I couldn't. I expected a reprimand but none came.
Then I felt something hot and wet. I opened my right eye slowly to find his blonde head bent over me. His mouth! He was kissing me with his tongue on the tip of a breast, pinching the other one. I gasped and felt my hips roll upwards.
Sensations I had never known exploded, and I felt as if I could feel each and every cell of my body. Deep between my hips I felt something seemingly turn over and expand, a feeling of liquid warmth and tension roll outward from there.
For long moments I watched the moons slide towards each other with the same sort of expectant feeling that he was building inside me. Then his hand left my breast and skittered downward, towards my aching heat.
He touched the place I had no name for, the one part of my body that had to always be covered, even in front of other women. He parted the folds gently and I tensed, but then there was a feeling of pleasure so white hot intense I made a strangled sound.
He began to move his fingertips and I felt everything in my body return inward, focusing on one single point. He stroked faster and faster until my panting became a crashing imploding thing, and just when I felt a pinnacle was in sight, he stopped.
Gasping, he lifted his hand and head and his eyes met mine. I expected to be reprimanded for opening them but he just held my gaze as he slid his glistening fingers inside his mouth. The sounds he made were the same I made when chocolate was presented; a desperate soul sampling the rarest of treats.
He pressed his mouth to mine and the feeling was strange. Then he made me open my lips and I felt a shiver all along my body spiking a pulse between my legs. I closed my eyes, lost sight of the creeping moons, and felt his tongue touch mine. He tasted hot and salty, the strange taste must have been from his fingers, from me.
Suddenly he pulled back, leaving both of us to pant, and then he looked at the moons. With a curse he jumped up on the alter, lying across me and parting my legs. I became aware that there was a part of his body that was harder than the rest, a jutting piece of flesh between his own legs. I didn't question it, somehow knowing my body craved it.
He leaned down to kiss me as the tip of that jut touched my tender folds.
"I am sorry for the pain you are about to feel, but thank the Goddess it recedes. Just clutch my shoulders and cry out if you need to, but stay still and it will pass. Yes?"
I nodded and felt his hips move back. Then they surged forward and in one swift move the jutting piece of flesh entered me. Immediately I felt agony, a burning feeling as if I had been made not of flesh but fabric, and it had been torn. I screamed into the night and squeezed my eyes against it.
I felt my heartbeat everywhere, the tension in my body far from pleasurable, and it lasted dozens of heartbeats. When I came down from it the pain was receding rapidly, and I felt a wet sucking at my breast.
He repeated his motions until the pleasurable tension was upon me, then he reared back and surged forward. The pleasure was incredible, more intense than anything I had ever imagined. I clutched at him and heard, as if from a distance, mewling sounds come from my own throat.
He had always been so long and narrow where the men of my village were shorter and bulky with muscle so I had never appreciated his size. He dwarfed me on the alter, a strange feeling for a girl born so tall, and I felt delicate and worshipped in his arms.
Above his head the moons were almost merged, casting an ethereal glow on his golden white head. Then he reared back, his eyes meeting mine as the angle changed, his flesh hitting some spot inside me that made my whole body shudder. His hand returned and the pad of his large thumb stroked the spot he'd teased earlier.
He glanced at the moons, his rhythm faltering for only a second.
"Come for me, my sweet Virtal, the moons are almost complete."
I felt the call we all did, the ocean getting ready to surge, the silent birds waiting, my blood calling out for release in the same way my body did now.
He surged deeper and I felt it, shining in front of me. The moons collided, my blood surged, the birds called out, and my scream echoed with theirs. Cassipe shouted and thrust even deeper, trembling as I did and the world went mad for a moment.
It took a long time for me to come down and when I did Cassipe kissed me softly and then removed his body from mine. He pressed a towel to where our bodies had joined and patted gently.
I closed my eyes and when I opened them he was dressed again and bid me to sit up. When I did he gave me a bone cup filled with a dark green liquid.
"Drink this. What we did could get you with child, but it is forbidden. This is a drink that will prevent that from happening. Drink."
I smelled it and knew the herbs well. One was a blood thinner, one was to ease cramping a woman felt at monthtide, another was to help pregnant women past their due dates to quicken, and the last was a poison that in small doses made a person sleep and appear dead. Most useful for escape.
"Will I sleep?"
"Fare thee well in Nod, then." I drank it all and it tasted foul. By the last swallow my eyes were drooping and then I fell into a dreamless sleep.