The Courier Ch. 25bycaligula97236©
Chapter 25 -- The Equinox
Two days after her release from the Royal Residence, Maria Elena returned to her job at the university. There was plenty of work for her because the leaves of all the trees on campus had started to turn and already the grass needed constant raking. Criminal # 101025 knelt in front of the university gardeners and was promptly issued a rake. With no further ceremony she stood up, walked to a section of lawn near the campus administration building, and began gathering fallen leaves. Her supervisor had told her that would be her primary concern for the next month, raking as much as possible during her working hours. Once the leaves from their sections were gathered, Maria Elena and her co-workers had to dump them into specially-built wagons and later move them to an enormous compost pile located next to the university's agriculture department.
In Danubia it was illegal to burn leaves or any other organic matter. Leaves had to be buried back into the soil or transported to collection sites. At the height of autumn, many criminals, especially ones who had spent the summer working outside, were ordered to help collect and transport leaves and garden debris from public parks and also from the yards and gardens of pensioners and other people who were able to gather up the leaves, but not strong enough to transport them.
To add to the effort, the Danubian Church handed over many of the people performing Public Penance, which that year included Cecilia and Jason. For several weeks the couple joined a group of 20 other university students who were performing Public Penance. They wandered around the neighborhood outside the university with their shovels and wagons, taking away the garden debris of older residents and hauling it to the compost pile. The work was dirty and hard, but because they were collared servants they had to do what they were told.
Cecilia's transition to performing Public Penance turned out to be psychologically difficult. She knew that she had to be extremely careful to adhere to correct protocol at all times, because everyone was watching her. One very important detail that set her apart from hundreds of other people performing Public Penance was her dark skin. It was obvious she was not Danubian, but she was performing a deeply Danubian ritual. She became the focus of much curiosity and people paid much closer attention to her than they would have paid to any Danubian under the same circumstances.
Cecilia was very much accustomed to being in charge, but her collar took away that perceived authority. In class, for example, she had to get out of her seat and kneel whenever she was called upon to answer a question. She had to assume the correct posture, which meant getting on her knees, extending her hands out in front of her, spreading her legs, and arching her back to completely expose her vulva to anyone standing or sitting behind her. By Wednesday afternoon, all of her classmates had seen her in the posture of Penance, which meant that everyone she knew had seen her vagina and anus fully exposed. She had one professor in particular who seemed to delight in her predicament. He called on her continuously and instructed her to come to the front of the class before kneeling and answering so that everyone could see her.
Cecilia knew that she did not have the right to complain, because the entire purpose of Public Penance was to experience humility. Being forced to expose herself changed her personality. Much of her self-confidence had vanished with her clothing. She dropped her bossy abrasive manner of treating people and became more reserved and shy. Jason had told her that eventually her self-confidence would return, but once it did return it would be a different type of confidence and much more profound. During the first few days of wandering around the campus in the nude and exposing herself to everyone she knew; she didn't see how that would be possible.
As Cecilia had foreseen, Jason took a leading role in her life. She quietly followed him around Danube City, watching him and copying whatever he was doing at the moment. She wouldn't have wanted to admit it, but whenever she was not in his presence she felt very uneasy, to the point of feeling unprotected and afraid. She needed to be with him as much as possible. She had always felt that need, ever since she met him, but she had managed to keep that need in her subconscious thoughts. With the collar on her neck she no longer could hide behind her authoritative position or her abrasive personality to conceal her underlying fear of being without her fiancé. She would not be able to live without Jason, and for the first time in her life could openly admit that, both to him and to herself.
Up until she began performing Penance, Cecilia only had a vague idea about what her fiancé did with the Church, since he was not one to push his beliefs on her or anyone else. Now that she wore a collar, the Clergy expected her to understand why what she was doing was spiritually significant. It turned out that Jason knew all about Church teachings and was able to explain them. He was well advanced in his theological training, whereas she knew absolutely nothing. He had memorized a large portion of the Texts of the Ancients, knew the parts of the Judeo-Christian Bible that were relevant to the Danubian Church, and could sing Danubian hymns in their original language. She would have to rely on him to catch up and not look like a total fool in front of the Priestess. One of the very first things he had to teach her was correct prayer protocol, since she didn't even know that.
Even though Cecilia was wearing a Penance collar, officially she was classified as a criminal. Because she was collared, she had a custodian and an owner. Many places in Danube City that previously had been open to her now were off-limits. There were clubs and restaurants that she had been able to go to with her students or with professors that would no longer welcome her. She reluctantly acknowledged that her place in society had changed; that there was no point in thinking she could possibly be the same person or lead the same life she had led before she visited the Temple.
Cecilia's feelings about the Socrates Club changed along with how she felt about herself. She had been going to the criminals' hangout throughout the entire time she had been in Danubia, but always as a guest of Jason or Kim. She could not be a member because she was not collared, thus whenever she was there she felt like an intruder. The reason she really went was because the club was the only place in Danube City where it was possible for her to make love with Jason.
On Friday afternoon Cecilia Sanchez filled out a membership card to formally join the Socrates Club. An assistant manager interviewed her to make sure she understood the club's rules and her own role within Danube City's criminal society. The Socrates Club, which previously had been a place where she felt like an intruder, had become a place of refuge, a place where she was accepted and where she belonged.
That night Cecilia took her place at the microphone on the stage of the club. In accented Danubian she recited her own life, from her experiences growing up, to her studies in Chicago, to her flight to Danubia, and finally her current transformation. She concluded with:
"I don't know if I will be performing Penance for the rest of my life or not. Maybe I have a future, or maybe I have nothing ahead of me except the endless present, the reality of the collar on my neck, until my soul separates from my body. I guess that is something the Creator does not want me to think about, so I will try not to think about it."
She looked at her fiancé, took a breath, and continued:
"Now that I am performing Penance, I know that the only thing people will see about me is my collar. The collar and my nakedness have become my identity to the world. The Creator has forced me to understand that I can't think of myself as a university program director any more. I have to accept that my job is not who I am; it's only what I do. I guess...I suppose...after four years of living in Danubia, I still have to figure out who I really am."
Cecilia left the stage, returned to her table, and cuddled in Jason's arms.
While Jason and Cecilia were sitting at the table, she couldn't resist doing what she always liked to do, massage his penis and work him into an erection. Slowly she rubbed his thighs and gently touched his testicles before circling her fingertip around the end of his penis. It did not take much to make him very hard. As usual, they left the table and slipped out of the main dining area of the club through a small door on the back wall. As usual, she led him upstairs with her hand fimly gripping his shaft.
Once they were in the room, their normal sex routine changed. Cecilia was in a relatively quiet mood, so instead of straddling Jason, she got on her elbows and knees on the bed and presented her backside to him. He held off on the temptation to enter her right away to concentrate on touching and massaging her widely spread bottom. He gently touched her vulva and teased her clitoris, making her desperate. She arched her back even more, frantic for him to enter her. He continued rubbing her bottom and teasing her, but made no move to actually push inside. He was desperate himself, but he held back because Cecilia needed to be taught a lesson. She was collared, and thus not in a position to give him orders.
"Oh Jason...Oh please...Ohhhhh."
He surprised her by saying: "You need to wait. Don't be so impatient about everything."
Finally he did decide to push inside her, not because she was desperate, but because he could not hold off any longer. As he thrust and she moaned with pleasure, he silently berated himself for not having more control over his own body. He pushed into her as hard and as deeply as he could, climaxing, but staying inside as long as he could to make sure she had the orgasm she wanted. After they were finished he would have a big surprise for her.
Exhausted, they cuddled for a bit. Cecilia dried off her lover's penis and began to play with it. She normally would have started telling him what a naughty boy he was and that he needed a good spanking, but that night he did not give her the chance to start up with that. He sat up and moved to the edge of the bed. He grabbed her wrist.
"You need to get over my lap."
"You're collared, Cecilia. That means some things in our lives are gonna have to change, and that includes what we do in here. Now, I'm telling you again, you need to get over my lap."
Reluctantly Cecilia obeyed, moving across Jason's lap. With his fingertips he pushed her legs apart and made her position herself so that her bottom was tilted upwards and properly presented. He began massaging her bottom-cheeks. When she started to respond, he reached between her legs and gently touched her vulva. She was becoming aroused again. Abruptly he stopped.
"We need to get something straight. As long as you have that collar on, I am the one who'll decide when you cum. I will decide when I think you deserve to have an orgasm. You need to turn that part of your life over to me. If you really need it, it's OK to ask, but don't expect me to always say 'yes'. Do you understand?"
Shocked by her fiancé's sudden transformation, Cecilia silently nodded. Jason landed a very sharp slap on her bottom. She squealed.
"Look, how many times have you told me that nodding is rude? You've always told me to say 'yes, Cecilia' and 'no, Cecilia'. Now it's my turn. I expect the same standard of behavior out of you that you expect out of me."
He landed a second hard slap on her bottom.
"Do you understand?"
"There's another thing. I've given this some thought, and I've had to make another decision about things between us. As long as you wear that collar, you can't spank me. I'm the one who will have to spank. You have to agree to that, because you need to understand that humility is not just for when you're out on the street. Your collar requires that you exercise humility with me too."
Cecilia thought for a second, still terrified at what was happening.
"Jason, please...can I sit up so we can talk about this?"
"No, not right now. I'll tell you when you can sit up."
"But...you're collared too. You don't have no right to tell me..."
"Yes, I'm collared, and I've been collared for four years. That means I have four years of training over you. Do you really think you know more than me?"
"I guess not..."
"I guess not also. This is something you'll have to do. I know that for a fact. You have to do it."
Still shocked by Jason's authoritative voice and his certainty that he knew what he was doing, Cecilia said nothing more. She lay quietly, waiting for whatever it was that he was going to do to her.
He could feel her trembling slightly. She was scared, not only of the painful experience she knew she was about to endure, but also because the last remnant of her authoritative façade had been surrendered along with her clothing. They had changed places, because only a week before it had been Jason lying across Cecilia's lap. She was vulnerable, realizing that her only choice was to obey Jason. Obeying him had never been her intention, and yet, that was what she would have to do.
He massaged her bottom, relishing the feel of her soft, warm, dark skin. Finally he rested his hand on her right bottom-cheek.
"I love you. You're the only woman I'll ever love."
"I'm yours, Jason...I'll prove it..."
There was nothing more either needed to say. Cecilia would have to feel what it was to be spanked...not spanked erotically, but to be spanked severely, to the point of tears and beyond.
Jason started with moderate slaps, hitting her on alternate bottom cheeks. He was in no hurry, so he let several seconds go by between each slap. He sensuously massaged her bottom between slaps and occasionally touched between her legs to tease her vulva. He was strict about her staying still and quiet. If she moved or tried to put her legs together he gave her a warning pinch on her labia.
Nothing more was said, but Jason paused after he had spanked Cecilia for about 15 minutes. Her bottom stung, but not too badly. In fact it felt hot, and had Jason wanted to, he could have easily aroused his fiancé. However, arousal was not the reason he had Cecilia over his lap. In the interim while he allowed her to rest, she knew that what she had just endured was only a warm-up. Within a few minutes Jason would be slapping her very hard. She was desperate to have the waiting come to an end, but also desperately scared of what was about to happen.
Jason positioned her with his fingertips and massaged her bottom one final time. Then he slapped her with real force. She squealed, but dared not move.
Jason was spanking Cecilia with quick double-slaps, one on each side of her bottom. She knew that he worked out and continued to be an excellent runner, but she did not realize how strong he was until she felt his hand on her bottom: over and over, with no hint that the punishment would end any time soon.
Finally she was able to surrender herself and cry. Through the haze of her pain, she vaguely hoped that her fiancé would stop as soon as tears started falling, but the spanking continued uninterrupted. Once her body was heaving with sobs, Jason slowed down, but struck her with a very hard slap about every 15 seconds.
Cecilia was crying uncontrollably when Jason finally stopped. He placed a reassuring hand on her back and gently rubbed her very sore bottom. Finally he told her to stand up and to lie on the bed. He gently stroked her back while she cried herself to sleep. In a very quiet voice he said something to her, although because she was asleep she couldn't hear him. He really was saying to himself:
"You're mine, Cecilia. You'll prove yourself to me, just like I had to do for you. That is our Path in Life, for both of us."
He kissed her swollen bottom and lay beside her to go to sleep.
By the third week of September, signs of the impending change of seasons dominated the Danubian landscape. Already the trees were turning color, the nights were becoming longer and colder, school children were settling into their routines, and the countryside was busy with the first part of the harvest. The Fall Equinox was rapidly approaching, which meant the nation was beginning its descent into the darkness and cold of winter. Along with the Fall Equinox would be the most important religious holiday of the Danubian calendar, the Day of the Dead.
Cecilia spent several days teaching Maria Elena about preparing for the ceremonies. The most important part of the preparation was special food. Blood-red fruit punch and blood-red sauce had to be prepared, along with black noodles and potato pastries shaped like skulls. The food was unique for the Equinox, because protocol prohibited any recipes eaten during the Day of the Dead from being eaten at any other time of the year. Also, any prepared dishes eaten during the Day of the Dead could not be purchased for money; therefore each household was responsible for preparing its own food.
Four years before, Victor's wife and Tiffany had taught Cecilia how to prepare the Day of the Dead dishes; now it was Cecilia's turn to teach Maria Elena. She invited Carmen and several other students from the exchange program who were performing Penance, so for several days Victor's kitchen was full of naked women learning first hand about the most Danubian tradition of all.
When Carmen noted that the pots of blood-red juice and sauce looked like something from a horror movie, Cecilia commented:
"This is only the beginning. We're all gonna be marching this year, and when we do, you'll really get to have the death experience."
On the morning before the Equinox, the women packaged up the food they had prepared to take it to the Church that was located on the university campus. They had not prepared the food for themselves, but for the Church to distribute to marchers and worshipers over the next two nights. Because Cecilia, Maria Elena, and Victor all were collared, no adults in the household would remain to have dinner. Pedro would have to spend the holiday with Spokeswoman Kimberly Lee-Dolkivna, who also had to take care of the sons Vladik Dukov and his wife Tiffany.
The women were joined by the other students from the group of 13 who had taken collars to protest Maria Elena's trial, along with Victor, Jason, Kim's sister Cynthia and her husband, and a couple of Jason's friends from his Church group. The group carried the food over to the university and dropped it off at the Church. There were over 20 people present, so one of the Priests came outside to give them a short service and blessing. From there they boarded a trolley and traveled downtown to the Plaza of the Ancients, where thousands of naked criminals and Church penitents already had gathered.
Maria Elena was rather surprised that the square was very quiet, because she would have expected that such a large crowd would be making more noise. However, the collared subjects understood that they were about to perform a very important service for the Church and the Danubian nation, something that all of them took very seriously. The tradition went back 3,000 years, to the very beginning of Danubia. The weight of those three millennia fell very heavily upon both the marchers and the Clergy members as they prepared for the ceremony.
Clergy members and Temple attendants spread out around the plaza with buckets of white and back body-paint. Other Clergy members pulled tarps off huge piles of wooden torches that had been deposited at foot of the steps of the Temple. Behind the torches were piles of arm-slings and a row of basins full of oil was lined up at the top of the stairs.