The Gentle MasterbySedonia Guillone©
Kingdom of Pierra, 3,548th year of Galen, Planet Adamah of the Weiran Solar System
Ariana slipped into the queen's chambers just after midnight. The guards on either side of the ornately-carved wooden doors stood to let her through. They did not ask her to announce herself, for Ariana was Queen Maya's favorite slave, and was allowed to come and go freely.
These men, heavily muscled and naked except for white loincloths around their hips, averted their eyes from Ariana as she approached, forbidden as they were to gaze on her beauty. If the queen's favorite should tell her possessive mistress that they had looked on her with lust, they would come to a very bad end.
Ariana brushed past them, her blue silken gown whispering about the curves of her body. She heard the guards shut the heavy doors behind her as she moved deeper into the inner chamber. The room itself felt like a cavern, dark and deep, lit only by the glow of flickering torches held in sconces on the stone walls. The air was heavily perfumed with sandalwood incense, an aroma that made her heady and languid.
The queen's gigantic bed stood in the middle of the room, a luxurious plateau of feather mattresses, fur coverings and silken pillows. Heavy wooden posts held up the massive canopy, draped with filmy curtains of dusky silk. Through them, Ariana could see the queen, seated on the edge of her bed, having her long ebony hair brushed by one of her maids.
When Maya saw her beloved slave approach, a smile spread across her smooth, cat-like face, and she beckoned to her.
"Ariana," she said in her silky voice, "Come, sit with me."
Ariana approached the bedside and kneeled in obeisance, then rose and seated herself on the plush fur coverlet. She looked on her queen with affection, taken with the woman's sleek golden skin and shimmering raven hair. Of all the royalty and ministers in the palace, the queen had always treated her with the most kindness.
Maya turned to her maid. "You may go now, Celine."
Celine nodded and set the brush onto a tray, which sat on the bedside table. "Yes, my lady," she replied. The girl retreated obediently, but not before casting a dark look at Ariana. The girl was jealous, not only of Ariana's sumptuous mane of ruby-colored hair, but also of her coveted place in the queen's heart and bed.
Ariana felt her hatred like a knife slicing her skin. Had she not been in her queen's forbidding presence, she would have cowered visibly under the hateful look. Even though she had been in service to the Pierran court for the last eight years since reaching her eighteenth birthday, she was still unaccustomed to the intrigues and backbiting inherent in all levels of palace life.
When the maid had left, Maya turned to Ariana, drinking her in with dark, velvety eyes. The queen's assured smiled had faded somewhat, replaced by a troubled shadow. She reached up and entwined her graceful, jeweled fingers into the wild mass of Ariana's fiery ringlets. Ariana knew that it had been her crimson hair and cream-colored skin that had won the queen four years ago.
Maya had seen her for the first time in one of the court performances, a lustful, lurid show in which she had been on her hands and knees, pleasuring a woman, her heart-shaped face buried between the moaning woman's thighs, while behind her, another slave, a man, threw off his loincloth and mounted her wildly, burying his shaft deeply within her sheath of red curls, his large hands gripping the curves of her hips. After the performance, the queen had asked her guard to bring Ariana to her chambers, and had made the girl her own. Since then, no one else in the court was permitted her services, and in turn, no minister or royal dared touch Ariana, lest he or she provoke the queen's wrath.
"I wished to have you to myself tonight," Maya told her, her words explaining the absence of her other consorts. The queen was a woman of rapacious appetites, rarely satisfied with one partner at a time. So Ariana knew that what her mistress wanted more than mere satiation was comfort, a comfort that she seemed to take from her slave's touch and presence. Maya gazed on her as she let the soft curls slip between her fingers.
Ariana took the liberty of reaching out to touch the queen's cheek, a boldness that Maya allowed only her. "Are you troubled, my queen?" she asked softly.
The other woman's eyes fluttered closed under her touch and she withdrew her hand from the copper fire of Ariana's hair to put it over her pale one.
"Always," Maya answered. "Something is wrong among my ministers. I feel it." She shook her head. "They have never wanted a woman in power over them, especially one who has proven herself to be of equal strength."
"Have you told the prince?"
Prince Dorian had recently entered his twenty-third year and was next in line to the throne of Pierra after his mother.
The queen's eyes of dark velvet opened wide and she chuckled wryly. "My son? I wouldn't be surprised if he were behind what's happening. He is easily swayed by men like Dogon. I believe it was he who had my general try to kill me four years ago." She shook her head. "How I wish Elan, my elder, could be king," she said sadly. "He would rule wisely and well." Her beautiful face darkened. "But because his father wasn't my husband, he must hide, that they don't seek him out and kill him."
Maya sighed. "If only Karan hadn't turned on me the way he did. I depended on him. My position has been greatly weakened without his protection. He was my prize." She fell silent and closed her eyes again and began to nuzzle Ariana's hand.
Ariana remembered when General Karan, had been found standing over the sleeping queen, a dirk raised in his hand. Ariana had just begun as Maya's personal slave and was on her way to her chambers when she heard the commotion echoing through the wide marbled halls of the palace. The general had been shouting something she couldn't understand, perhaps in his native language of the northern Veltlands.
Then she had seen him, a large warrior with a mane of silvery blond hair, struggling to free himself from the guards who were dragging him away. He possessed such great physical strength that it had taken four men to restrain him.
As his punishment for trying to murder the queen, he had been stripped of his rank, whipped, and branded on the cheek and hand. His home and lands had been burned, and his wife murdered. He was banished from the palace grounds, his life spared for the purpose of forcing him to live and suffer his humiliation.
It was said he had a daughter, but no one knew of her fate. Since then, Karan had been seen stalking the cave-filled hills beyond the Sylvan lands just outside the kingdom. No one knew why he stayed so close to the place of his ruination, but most people, even hunters, avoided that area, for fear of falling into his hands and being the victim of his revenge.
"You have ministers who are loyal, do you not, mistress?" Ariana asked.
Maya looked up from her enjoyment of nuzzling Ariana's delicate hand. "Mm," she murmured. "But none so loyal as you." She looked back down and began to flicker the tip of her tongue along the soft skin of Ariana's wrist.
Ariana felt pity in her heart for her mistress, even as her body came alive with heat from the kiss of her beguiling queen. She reached out and cupped the queen's face in her hands and kissed her, knowing from long practice just how her mistress liked to be kissed.
Softly and slowly, she ran the tip of her tongue over the queen's dusky lips, parting them to taste the inside of her mouth in light, quick circular motions along the inside of her lips and on her tongue.
A low moan issued from the queen's curved throat and she let her wrap fall open, revealing her lithe golden body for Ariana to pleasure.
"Ariana," she whispered when the slave had moved from the queen's mouth to her neck, teasing it with small nibbles and licks, "Make me forget it all, just for a little while."
Ariana lifted her face momentarily from Maya's perfumed skin.
"Yes, my lady," she whispered as she lay the queen back gently on the fur coverlet. She began to caress her mistress' full breasts with their large nipples the color of plum wine. "I will give you every pleasure you wish for."
Her words and caresses elicited more soft moans from deep in the queen's throat, and Maya reached a manicured hand, seeking Ariana's sex under the folds of her gown.
Ariana smiled and lifted her gown over her head, letting it fall to the marbled floor. She knew the queen enjoyed gazing on her pale skin and ruby-fire curls of sexual hair. Ariana moaned softly as the queen's fingers rubbed her swelling clitoris, gathering the cream that oozed out from her hot opening. The queen had a hunger for woman's musk and delighted in the feel and taste of Ariana's in particular. She paused her rubbing to lick the cream off her fingers, one by one.
"Oh, my queen," she whispered as she lowered her head to suckle her mistress' full nipples.
Ariana's lips on her breasts made the queen wild and she wove her fingers into Ariana's hair and pushed her head down between her spread legs.
Ariana nuzzled Maya's bush of dark curls, then buried her face into the wet depths, teasing and licking her slit with her tongue. At the same time, she gently rubbed and kneaded Maya's large nipples between her fingertips.
A cascade of breath-filled moans spilled from Maya's throat and she raised herself on her elbows, a voyeur to her own pleasure. "Ariana," she whispered. "Ariana."
Ariana showered her queen with her arts of pleasure, licking and suckling the golden-skinned woman into a frenzy. She laved the queen's musk-drenched vagina with her tongue until Maya threw her head back, her loud moans echoing through the shadowy bedchamber. The air close around them smelled of their heated musk and the queen, lost in ecstasy, entwined her fingers into Ariana's hair and pulled her harder against her open crotch.
"Now! Now!" Maya ordered in a frenzied whisper.
Obediently, Ariana took up Maya's swollen desire between her lips and sucked on the hard nub and and tender skin until the queen's entire body shook and convulsed with her climax.
Maya fell limp and stretched like a cat, while Ariana covered her with kisses, pressing her full lips to her stomach, breasts and neck, and finally, her lips. The queen murmured in satisfaction when she tasted her own cream on Ariana's lips and languorously licked it off.
When she'd had her fill, Maya stretched again, sighing with satisfaction. She turned over and entwined her almond-colored body with Ariana's.
"My dear," she purred, "You are a treasure beyond jewels."
Ariana continued to brush her lips along the queen's perfect skin. She reached out and caressed her mistress' breasts and thighs, such as the queen enjoyed after sexual play. However, Ariana was still aroused and her touch was fevered.
Maya leaned her head toward Ariana and suckled her full sensual lips with her own. "My little slave is dying for release, isn't she?" she teased.
"My lady's beauty and touch rouse me to a fever," Ariana answered.
The queen purred from deep in her throat. "I have something for you." she murmured, sliding her hand under a large silken pillow where she kept some of her toys. Maya loved toys and rarely let sex play pass without them.
The one she chose for Ariana was one of her favorites, a perfect replica of the male sex organ, fashioned from the bark of the coria tree. Maya's palace woodworker had fashioned it for her, sanding it to the most perfect, delicious, smoothness.
Maya teased the wooden object lightly along Ariana's skin, whispering it over her rose-pink nipples and down her stomach. She trailed the head of it through Ariana's bush of fiery curls and teased it up and down her engorged slit. With a silvery tinkle of laughter, Maya pushed the tip into Ariana's sheath, moving it around just enough to elicit a moan. She then pulled it out and brushed it over Ariana's lips. "Lick your cream off, my dear," she purred.
Ariana did as she was told, opening her mouth to take the wooden shaft deeper as if it were real.
The queen smiled and murmured sounds of satisfaction as she pulsed her toy in and out of Ariana's mouth. Finally, she withdrew it and plunged it swiftly and deeply into Ariana's hungry sheath, rocking it in and out of her again and again.
Ariana spread her legs wider and moaned, her head thrashing side to side against the pillows.
The queen became roused again by her play and tossed the wooden shaft aside. She straddled Ariana, burying her face deeply between Ariana's thighs. She thrust her own sex into Ariana's face so that they could pleasure each other at the same time.
Ariana once again teased and licked her mistress' wet folds, breathing in the woman's musk. At the same time, she could feel Maya's tongue on her slit. The queen was licking and suckling furiously, roused to a frenzy by her slave's musk and wetness.
The sensation of the queen's warm wet tongue working her clitoris mounted in strength and intensity until it finally exploded into great shivers of orgasm. The queen did not stop licking her until the last tremor had passed through Ariana's body.
In turn, Ariana continued suckling her mistress' clit until Maya cried out with the release of her second climax, her sex pulsing against Ariana's lips until the ecstatic shivers had passed.
When they had, the queen's body relaxed and she rolled off Ariana to lie limp and satisfied alongside her. "My sweet Ariana," the queen breathed, "You are the most potent drug. I daresay I won't need my sleeping potion this night." She gestured to the goblet one of her chambermaids had placed on her bedside table before Ariana came in. The queen always had difficulty sleeping and relied heavily on her chemist's mixture of sleep-inducing wildflowers.
"Thank you, my queen. You, too, bring me the sweetest pleasure."
Maya purred her satisfaction as she ran an elegant fingertip over Ariana's skin. "Were you anyone else, Ariana," she murmured, "I would think you were merely flattering me." She leaned over and pressed a sensuous kiss onto Ariana's shoulder. "But I know you speak only the truth to me. It's one of the reasons I cherish you."
Ariana stroked her mistress' obsidian hair. "Thank you, my lady," she whispered, even though Maya's words had brought a shiver to her bones. She hoped her honesty with her queen really did mean something.
General Karan's honesty had not. It had been said he never lied to Maya, and that he had served her with unerring loyalty. He had once been a slave himself, snatched from a traveling group of Veltlanders. His physical strength had been evident even as a boy and the Pierrans placed him in the army. Karan killed his first man at fourteen, while still only a page. He had risen to his rank through hard work and sheer determination and strength. The queen rewarded him with wealth and a beautiful Pierran wife. What reason would he have had to turn on her and come at her with a knife as she slept?
Ariana had always suspected foul play against the general, but didn't dare breach the subject with her mistress who was now much more at ease. There was no fruit gain in dredging up the bitter past. No doubt, a conjuror's hand was responsible for the queen's attitude toward General Karan, but Maya believed herself invulnerable to magery, and would be angry with Ariana for suggesting otherwise.
So Ariana kept her silence. Her queen was plagued enough with troubles in the present, and Ariana's only duty was to bring the woman comfort and pleasure.
Maya sat up and reached for the goblet on her bedside table. She dipped her forefinger into the potion, smoothed a few drops onto Ariana's lips, and licked them off.
"Have a sip, my sweet Ariana."
Ariana took the goblet. "Yes, my lady," she answered.
She didn't wish to drink the potion, but to refuse would be a suspicious act. She lifted the golden chalice to her lips and took as tiny a sip as she could, struggling as she swallowed not to show her mistress how offensive the potion was.
By the gods! The concoction burned a trail of liquid fire down her throat, all the way to the pit of her stomach. The next she knew, her eyelids began to flutter heavily, as if they were made of lead instead of flesh.
Terror overtook Ariana as she realized what was happening. She could feel the chalice being lifted from her hand.
"No!" Ariana struggled to cry out to the queen. It's poisoned! But her whole body and face were growing unbearably heavy and numb. Helplessly, she fell back against the pillows as the shadowy, incense-filled chamber faded to gray.
In her haze, she heard the emptied goblet clatter on the marble floor. Then she felt the queen's supple body slump against hers, just as the gray faded to black.
Ariana opened her eyes to a fierce pounding in her head and churning in her stomach. She did not know how long she'd slept, for the queen's bedchamber was windowless and remained a cave of torch-lit shadows at all times.
At first she didn't remember the evening before. She felt a weight on her body, and looked down at the queen whose head of obsidian hair lay on her stomach.
She put a hand on the queen's cheek. "My lady," she whispered.
The queen, who usually slept with deep, sigh-filled breaths, lay unnaturally still.
"Mistress," Ariana said, a bit more loudly.
The queen did not stir, and Ariana began to remember what had happened.
Terror rising, she pressed her fingertips to the queen's pulse. There was no movement. Maya's heart no longer beat.
Ariana cried out softly as she realized her queen was gone, leaving only the lithe golden body, now an empty shell. She covered her mouth to stifle her cries of grief and horror. The only person in the world who gave her anything resembling love and affection was gone, ripped from her by some greedy, power-hungry traitor. She slumped over Maya's body and clung to her, sobbing quietly in the shadows.
Her tears were interrupted by voices echoing in the antechamber. Ariana's heart surged fiercely when she realized what would happen if she were found leaning over Maya's corpse.
First the General, now me.
Frantically she disengaged her body from the queen's and slipped off the large bed. Without a chance to look back at her mistress, she snatched up her gown from the floor and slipped behind a wall tapestry, into a small opening in the stones only she knew about.
The opening brought her into the palace's network of underground passages. Ariana had discovered them as a child playing around the palace. Even then she had been in service, fetching and carrying for the kitchen slaves. But in her spare time she was allowed to play.
She had been young then, no more than eight when the Pierran soldiers had invaded her village, taking women and children for slaves. Her red hair had made her a prize, and she had been kept working until she was old enough to serve with her body.
The secret passages were ancient, woven into the structure of the palace only shortly after Lord Galen had created mankind.
Ariana's discovery of the passageways had renewed her, giving her something she could call her own, a sanctuary where she could be alone with her thoughts and feelings. The dark, damp corridors were like a womb, and it was in their depths that she knew peace.
Many times she had thought of escaping Pierra through the passages and making her way back to her homeland. But she was a slave with no money and no other skills besides her arts of pleasure. She did not even own a pair of sandals. None of the haram slaves did, for there was no need of footwear when most of one's life was spent in a bed. When the queen had taken her for herself, Ariana had then become afraid to leave the one person she believed loved her.