A Harem Fantasy Ch. 05bymadam_noe©
Lucius walked me to the stairs as men and women had done for centuries, and it felt intimate. I had just shared myself with him in the presence of two other men, and I found myself blushing like an adolescent when he kissed me goodbye.
I climbed the stairs, passed the guards who nodded, and descended into the women's section.
At the bottom of the stairs beneath a high bronze bowl of flame was a dark figure, instinct made me slow.
"Did you enjoy the men?" Mystrike said in a threatening purr. "They are so sweet, so almost...innocent. Lucius is my favorite, making him beg for mercy is the most erotic sound I can think of."
My blood turned cold. "But this is a place of...pleasure."
"And my pleasure is pain, so is the queen's."
I felt dizzy, frozen, and she took advantage, moving closer. She wasn't as tall as I, but she was older, wiser, and probably the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. The knowledge of those things was in her bearing, and she smiled at me, those strange purple eyes dark.
"You are joining a doomed dynasty, the time of the red hairs is coming to an end."
"What do you mean?"
She smiled and traced a sharp talon of a nail across my cheekbone. "Our regent is the fuel, the source of magic the world feeds upon. Our queen takes more lovers than any other, and just like those before, she is weakening. When she weakens too much it is customary to replace her with the next. But that won't happen, red hair."
She walked around me in a slow circle, the stealthy stalking of an animal I knew had seduced countless men. I was not so easily fooled, tensing, waiting to feel her strike. When it came, it was not with fists but words.
"Only the strongest can replace her and you, red, you're far from it."
"And you are, I suppose?" I said mildly.
Stopping in front of me she smiled. "Of course, for I can do the one thing someone like you can never do."
I just raised my brows, eager for her to leave.
"I can kill her."
We had begun with all seven women in the ring, but now it was down to Mystrike and me. It wasn't that she was the best of the group, t was that all the women had a strange way of deferring to her. Here was a woman who was queen of the realm made to serve another.
In the end I took down each opponent until she had no one left to take her blows. I was tired, my two sai felt as if made of lead, and I was bleeding from a small wound on my shoulder. She looked cool, refreshed, smiling. I felt like a dying dog in the summer heat, I knew I was dripping sweat.
She twirled one of the tridents around in a showy maneuver and struck the archer's pose. I had one thing she did not; an unconventional teacher. Lady Callie Marlowe had carefully studied every position, style, and theory of traditional teachings, as she made me, and come upon the conclusion that such show was unnecessary.
"If the object is to kill; kill your opponent, don't dazzle. If it's to drop them, do so quickly without the bother."
I stood a wide target, feet planted shoulder width apart, my three pronged sais at my sides. Laughing she charged at me but I had studied her moves as we sparred. She led with her right, her left drawn back, and that was the hand to watch out.
I whirled and spun around with full force. Her left sai swung up as the right went through my hair. I used both to catch her left and pull back, jerking it free. It clattered to the marble ground as I rounded and landed a solid kick in her chest.
She went down like a sack, the last sai clattering. At first there was silence and I turned to look grimly at the watchers. The queen and Marxim, the men who had sparred before, the lower levels of women who had yet to take the floor.
They began to applaud but the only smiles I saw were on Morganna and Lucius' faces. Something to remember, I thought, and bowed deeply to the queen.
She motioned for us to leave and I turned, ignoring the women as the crowd swallowed us up. The next level moved onto the floor and I moved to the edge of the arena, towards quiet.
Leaning against a large pillar in the corner I spied Cassipe. He looked tired but still as handsome as ever, dressed in golden robes he was resplendent. I moved towards him and when our eyes met he started.
"Virtal!" he whispered, grabbing me and forcing me behind the pillar.
"Cassipe!" I said and moved to hug him even as he shushed me. He stepped back and worriedly shook his head.
Frowning I bit my lip, wondering if what had happened between us precluded friendship now that we were in the harem. "How are you? Are you staying here or going out to teach someone else?"
"I am to stay here," he said with hooded eyes.
"Come, why would you not hug me, Cassipe? I know you may not be counted amongst my lovers here, but surely we are friends. Why, I've known you for as long as I can remember."
"Virtal," he said as if my name was a pain on his lips, "the queen keeps those of us who served her predecessor as...she calls us here 'private stock.' Like her consort we are forbidden to even touch another in the harem."
"She says to insure our loyalty. Virtal, it is too dangerous to even be seen talking to you."
"Why?" My shoulder wound began to ache and I knew I had best cleanse the wound and bind it soon, but I could not bear the thought of my great Cassipe living in fear.
"Virtal, the queen is very strict, nothing like the old queen. Death of even her favored lovers is well known, most infractions are punishable by death. She is harsh, and...well it is best to say she is nothing like the old queen." The way he spoke of Antal's predecessor showed clear love, and for a guilty moment I felt bad for having kept him from her all those years.
"I wish I could free you somehow," I said.
He shook his head. "Virtal, I am a priest. I was never much of one, but I had my moments. I sense great danger for you here, I have for long. I had a vision that the priest they sent to you that...night would kill you, and so I slew him."
I gasped, truly shocked. Cassipe was a man who never showed the slightest inkling of violence. "But why? Why would a priest kill me?"
He shook his head. "So much has changed here, if I knew how much Caldor had changed since the old queen's death I never would have delivered you. Virtal you must guard yourself wisely and tread carefully. Find your friends and keep them close. I can say no more."
He reached to brush my cheek as he had so many times in the journey to Caldor but stopped at the last minute. I watched him disappear back into the crowd knowing he felt the same longing I held in my heart.
I turned and saw Morganna smiling at me. "Yes?"
"Good fight today, but you must get cleaned up. Soon it will be time to greet the first moon."
I gulped nervously. My first true test with the queen, and I had reason to believe she had sent a man to kill me.
We had many gods and goddesses, but the father of us was the sun, our mother the first and largest moon. For a brief moment in every eve the two great orbs hovered in the sky at the same time, the briefest moment of mating between the greatest of the gods.
Caldoria ruled women, magic, and the moon. It was believed that the queen, the strongest in magic, granted Caldoria the brief time to propagate with her husband Ilarniat, the sun. From each mating came the new life of the day, the promise of the future. Should they not meet...great disaster would befall the people.
As her second I would channel the energy, guide it with the priests and priestesses. I was dressed in soft white robes, twisted about my shoulders leaving much of my skin bare. The skirt was split in the front almost to the apex of my thighs, but where it hung it brushed the floor. My new maids braided my hair and then the call came.
In the hall the women waited, each dressed like a flower in bright colors. We marched up the steps to where the men were, all dressed in the soft trousers of the colors that suited them best. Markal wore yellow, Uloga black, and Lucius wore a green so deep it matched his eyes. Again he smiled at me and I easily returned it.
The guards opened the doors and led us through the queen's apartments to her grand veranda. On it a stone altar stood covered in thin pillows. Draped across it was the offering of Marxim, completely naked, his skin oiled. The queen stood, her back to us, in a black robe so long it trailed across the stones almost to our feet.
"Mystrike explain to my new second her duties."
Mystrike stepped forward and with a scowl faced forward, not meeting my eyes. "She will ready your consort, and he who she chooses as her consort will ready you."
The murmur of the crowd below was building. My heart slammed inside my chest, unsure of what that meant. "Stroke him to hardness," Morganna whispered behind me helpfully.
"Who have you chosen as your consort?" Antal demanded, turning.
She was naked beneath the open robe, her body lushly curved like a beautiful statue, oiled as well. In her belly button she wore ornamental jewelry, something I had never seen before, and it took all I had not to gape.
"I have not decided. Must I do so?"
She smiled but it did not touch her eyes. "Then I shall enjoy all three. Come, my pets."
I turned to watch the men and noticed back in the apartment Cassipe and other older men watched with guarded expressions. This all seemed so strange that I paused, then Morganna nudged me.
I approached Marxim who lay flat and emotionless as if expecting something horrid. "Forgive me," I whispered impulsively, feeling as if I was somehow violating him.
I smoothed my hands up his thighs, enjoying the hard muscle of him, and he twitched nervously. I found his penis soft, and took it gently into my hand. He was cool, and gulped, his phenomenal blue eyes finally meeting mine.
Some silent message passed between us I could not read, and so I began to work my hand, glancing at the scene next to us. The priestesses watched as did Cassipe and the other "private stock." The queen was held aloft by Lucius and Uloga, suckling at her breasts, as Markal lapped at her pussy.
She was wet, her juices glistened in the flame light on his mouth. As she moaned she reached down, fisted his hair, and yanked painfully. At his cry Marxim winced, and I kept up my gentle ministrations, adding another hand to his soft sac.
More cries of startled pain came from us but I held Marxim's eyes. Under my hands he began to grow, lengthening and hardening, his penis superbly formed and sized. I stole a glance at it and sucked in my breath at the sheer beauty of him.
"He is magnificent, is he not?" Antal said beside me, making me jump.
"Yes, my queen."
She trailed a sharp nail from his ankle to where my hand rested on his sack as he blushed scarlet. "And this is the only time you may touch him. Trust me, you will come to live for these risings, as Mystrike once did."
Mystrike had been her second! The anger now made sense, as did Marxim's fear of me. Mystrike had said she and the queen relished pain, and from the scratches and bruises on the men I knew it was true.
"You may step to his head now, Virtal. When he crests you will kiss him, swallow the magic, and then share it with your partner tonight."
She fluidly hopped onto the table and straddled him, lowering herself onto his erect penis, moaning. Marxim let out a groan as I settled, then he reached up and gripped my hands as if he would fall without me.
She began to move with most graceful, fluid motion I had ever seen. Her hefty breasts bounced, her head was thrown back, and Marxim began to pant. They built with the noise of the crowd, with the slow creep to where night met the day.
Marxim squeezed me so hard I thought I would have bruises. The feeling of pleasure between them grew with the queen's moans, and I felt my own body grow heavy and flushed with arousal.
I snuck a look at the others and found their eyes fixed on the lovers, but Lucius' met mine. I could see the evidence of his arousal clearly and the look in his eyes told me he was imagining us up there.
I closed my eyes and thought of it, his beautifully lean body beneath mine, mine moving above, taking him deep, giving rise to the magic of the world. He would fill me and I would take him. I would not hold him down, instead I'd want his hands all over me, mine over him. The thought shot lust through me deeper than Antal and Marxim could achieve.
Something hit me hard and I opened my eyes to see the queen staring at me in rage, her hand swinging away from the slap. "Pay attention and channel, you impudent bitch!"
I held my tongue, seething, tasting blood.
Her eyes held mine as she pumped faster, trying to outrace the rising of the first moon. Marxim whimpered, holding back, and the flush spreading across her breasts said she was with him.
Reaching down her right hand disappeared from view. The moon crested, and so did Marxim. He cried out and Antal found her peak, mewling in quieter joy, and then I saw it.
The blade was long, wickedly curved, and she slashed open his shoulder with it. His hands gripped mine so tight I feared bones would snap, and his shout of pleasure became a scream of agony.
The moon peaked and she slid off, licking one side of the blade, beckoning Mystrike over with a finger. "If you are a worthy second you can heal Marxim, as Mystrike here has done for two years nightly. To raise the power you may take any of the men."
I looked at everyone gathered and saw raw fear of the queen there.
"I need no one," I said when my eyes found Antal again. She and Mystrike licked the blood together, their tongues intertwining like fearsome beasts of prey. They laughed and breaths drew in all around me.
"Virtal, take Lucius, he is of great power. Don't let Mystrike...touch me," Marxim whispered.
I forced my hands from his and came to stand at his side, over the wound. The energy of the sex was still fresh and the twin powers of moon and sun were at their strongest.
I placed one hand on his flesh, raised my other to the sky. I called on the mother and father and found their warmth, the love of earth and sky, and I opened my body and soul wide.
It poured into Marxim and he bowed and gasped under it, the male of his energy matching the female of mine. I felt the zing of it heal my own wounds from the day's fights and once his flesh was whole I pulled back.
Below me Marxim stared up, his deep blue eyes wide as saucers, boring into my own gaze. "what have you done?" he asked in a voice barely more than a whisper.
"She healed him, all of him, all of his old scars!" Missiply gasped out.
Everyone went statue still, their eyes rolling to the queen. Where had I tread wrong? What had I done wrong? Fear like I'd never known crept over me when Cassipe refused to meet my eyes.
Queen Antal glided to me like a goddess in the flesh, the wicked knife wet with spit from two mouths. She glanced down at Marxim and the man, so much taller and stronger, shrank back.
My heart raced like a mad rabbit and I awaited my punishment.
After the span of ten heartbeats she threw her head back and laughed. "You have given me the perfect gift, a man made fresh and whole, and oh, clean flesh."
She trailed the tip of the blade up his leg and it was if a breath passed through the room. "Choose your consort of the night, but to sample your power myself tomorrow I will take whatever man you claim tonight."
"Whichever man I claim tonight. I have your word, you bond by power on this?"
The three men looked at me with fear as the queen nodded, sealing the bond. "I claim Morganna, and as she is a woman, she is free from that bond."
"I may claim her still, Virtal. Do not think to outwit me. Powerful and strong you may be., but I am queen here, no one else!"
I bowed deeply, my forehead to the ground at her feet. "Forgiveness, my queen."
"Go, leave now. You others will stay for a moment."
Morganna didn't hesitate, she grabbed my hand and dragged me through the lush forest of the queen's suites. As we walked past birds of brightest plumage and animals of sinewy grace, I began to doubt my fate for the first time in my life.