The Initiation Ch. 01byAlspethDelArbol©
As far as summer jobs went, it wasn't a bad one, even if her boss had the peculiar demand that she refer to him as "Master" whenever addressing him. He explained that it was a sign of respect in his culture. (What culture that was, Rachel wasn't sure. His name sounded Persian or Arabic to her American ears, but his deep, commanding voice had no trace of a foreign accent.) At any rate, the job brought in some extra money, and gave her something to fill her time with in between school years. Plus, it came with room and board, so she had a chance to live somewhere else for a few months and explore a different part of the country. Yes, answering the ad in the teacher's magazine had turned out to be a good decision.
Rachel finished wiping down the sink and counters and hung the damp washcloth up to dry. The laundry was probably done, and she could start folding it, but first she needed to check the front porch. Mr. Cihandaver . . . no . . . Master . . . seemed to have a lot of business associates who liked to give him gifts, and if she didn't check the porch several times a day, the presents tended to pile up. Rachel had some experience with this. When her father had been business editor of the local paper, he had been plied with many, many gifts from members of the Chamber of Commerce and other local businesses, especially at Christmas. Rachel opened the door and picked up the two small packages and the large, rather drippy one, that lay there. She wrinkled her nose a little at the metallic, coppery smell that greeted her.
Yes, the fact that people left gifts didn't surprise her. But, it was some people's insistence on leaving raw meat in the warm summer air that she found baffling.
Fortunately, the drippy package still felt chilled to the touch, which meant that it had been refrigerated not too long ago. She unwrapped it and found two chickens, plucked, and what looked to be a pot roast. The first time she had found meat on the doorstep, she had been tempted to discard it. But Mr. Cihandaver . . .Master . . . had assured her that no one would dare leave him tainted meat, and it would either be goat or beef, either of which tasted fine when roasted. Rachel wrapped the chickens in Saran Wrap and put them in the freezer for another time, coated the red meat with a flour mixture, seared it on all sides, and set it to slowly cook in a small amount of liquid on top of the stove. Then, she turned her attention to the other two packages.
One of the other afternoon's offerings seemed to be some gaudy, rhinestone looking things. Rachel held them up to the light slanting in through the south-facing kitchen window. Cubic zirconium, maybe? Rachel was no connoisseur of jewelry, fine or otherwise, but it was shiny and sparkly, and it would probably please Master Cihandaver. That was one nice thing about him. He was very grateful for the gifts he received, no matter how odd or impractical.
The next package was very heavy. When Rachel tore off the brown wrapper, she saw a delicately carved box, about 12" x 6" x 6". She knew about as much about various types of wood as she did jewelry, but she could appreciate the craftsmanship that had gone into carving the intricate symbols that decorated the dark red wood. The hinges were leather, and when she prized open the box, gold coins spilled everywhere. Rachel thought, at first, that they were chocolate-filled gelt, and she wondered why someone would send Mr. Cihandaver Hanukkah candy in June. But, when she picked one up and tested it with her fingers, she realized that the piece was solid, and the glyphs on it looked more Aramaic than Hebrew.
She stepped into the living room and placed the gifts on the low table near the door. They joined a wooden mask and a sword that had arrived earlier in the day. Rachel eyed the sword warily as she set the coins and the jewels on the table. The blade had barely touched her skin when she had unwrapped it, yet it had left a shallow, painful cut along the back of her hand. It had taken several tissues and four band-aids to cover the wound. Rachel hoped that Mr. Cihandaver would be distracted when he came in from work. Evidence of her clumsiness seemed to amuse him greatly, though he was always kind with his gentle teasing.
She heard the key in the lock and frowned. It had happened again. No matter how hard she listened, she never heard him pull up in the driveway. It was as though one moment he wasn't there, and the next moment he appeared out of thin air. He did that on the days she chauffeured him also. She would pull up in front of his office, watch the door for him, and the moment she blinked or turned to glance at something across the street, he would be there, leaning down to open the passenger door.
Rachel scurried over to the door as it began to swing open. Another unusual part of his requirements, but not unpleasant. He came through the door, smiled and said, "Good evening, little one." Turning, he presented his back to Rachel so she could ease his suit jacket over his shoulders, folding it carefully over her arm before holding out her hand to accept his tie, which he had unknotted. He opened the top buttons of his dress shirt, sniffed the air appreciatively and smiled, then turned his attention to the day's mail, which was stacked neatly by the gifts. Rachel went to his closet to hang up his suit jacket and tie. As she placed the dark jacket on a hanger and hung it alongside all the other, almost identical jackets, she stifled the temptation to hang it out of order and see if he really would notice, as he had told her he would.
As she came back into the living room, Mr. Cihandaver had finished with the mail and was examining the day's treasures. He lifted the box of coins first and several fell out and rolled under the table. Rachel dropped to her knees and retrieved them. When she held them up to Mr. Cihandaver from her kneeling position, he looked at her speculatively.
"Thank you, little one," he said.
"You're welcome, Master," she replied, and her cheeks flushed at the gleam in his eyes. She began to rise, but he motioned her to stay where she was, so she remained, kneeling, at his feet.
He pulled the gaudy jewelry out of its case. Rachel hadn't noticed that the jewels were part of a series of chains and necklaces. Mr. Cihandaver untangled one and motioned for her to lower her head. She did so obediently and he clasped the necklace around her neck. It was a thick piece of silver-colored metal, about a thumb's width across, with several of the smaller shiny jewels placed at points along a winding vine, with one quite large one in the center. The bottom edge of the necklace had loops of metal around the circumference, like the edges of a lace doily. The metal warmed her neck and Rachel blushed as she felt her nipples harden under her blouse. What would Mr. Cihandaver think if he noticed?
Mr. Cihandaver put a finger under her chin and lifted her face until her gaze met his. He smiled and stepped back. "Put your hands behind your neck," he said. "Lift your hair a little so I can see how it looks."
Rachel did as she was told, the movement thrusting her breasts out. She saw Mr. Cihandaver drop his gaze to her chest, very briefly, and his grin widened. "That looks very nice on you, little one. Would you like to keep it?"
It wasn't her normal style, yet it fit her neck like it had been made for her. Besides, he had been kind to her, and it would be churlish to refuse. "Thank you, Master," she replied. "I hope you don't tire of seeing it. It seems that once I put a necklace on, it tends to stay on until I get a new one."
"It's very becoming," he said as he turned his attention back to the gifts. Rachel stayed on her knees, something seeming to hold her to the floor. Finally, she touched his leg hesitantly. He looked down from where he had been swinging the sword. "Yes, little one?"
"Dinner," she said. "Do you mind if I go check on it?"
He looked at her, waiting. Rachel frowned.
"Dinner?" she repeated. "I need to check the meat."
Mr. Cihandaver lifted his eyebrows slightly and his glance drifted to the collar-like necklace then back up to her eyes. "I need to check the meat . . .?" he repeated.
Heat suffused Rachel's face. How could she forget such a simple thing? "I need to check the meat, Master," she said.
Mr. Cihandaver nodded. "You are excused, little one."
He ate, as he always did, in silence, surrounded by papers and sketching what looked to be ditches of varying sizes and bridges that crossed them. On some papers he would scribble numbers, then mutter something, curse, ball up the paper, and toss it over his shoulder. Rachel, who always stood next to him while he was eating, in case he needed anything, had learned to anticipate his moves, and she prided herself on the fact that she could often field the wads of paper before they hit the floor.
Finally, he rose. "It was delicious, little one. Thank you."
"You're welcome, Master."
He picked up his glass of iced tea. "I'll take this in to the study with me. I have some guests coming this evening. We won't need anything. Show them to the study when they arrive, and once you're done with the kitchen you are free until morning."
"Thank you, Master."
He nodded, barely acknowledging her words as he moved toward the study, tea in one hand and his papers in the other. Rachel moved about the kitchen, clearing his plate and eating from her own as she washed the pots and pans, wrapped leftovers, and set the timer on the dishwasher. She was almost done when the doorbell rang. She patted her hair and opened the door with a smile. Seven men of varying ages stood on the porch, all of them with short hair and wearing dark pants and white shirts. She blinked at them, reminded of the nice, clean-cut Mormon boys who would canvass the neighborhood where she grew up during the summer.
"Are you the ones Mr. Cihandaver is expecting?" she asked.
"We are his acolytes," the youngest one, a boy of about twenty, answered eagerly.
Rachel frowned. The word acolytes conjured up pictures of fourth-graders lighting the candles at Sunday services.
One of the men saw her frown and stepped forward. "He means associates," he whispered. "Crazy kid did horrible on his SATS."
Rachel relaxed. That she could understand. "He's in his study," she told them. "It's --"
She didn't need to finish. The men charged past her like a herd of wildebeest being chased by a jaguar. Or, a herd of jaguar chasing a wildebeest. Was a group of jaguars called a herd? Were wildebeest and jaguars in the same food chain? Rachel was so busy pondering this that she gave no more thought to the men as she returned to the kitchen to finish the evening's clean-up and make the kitchen ready for breakfast in the morning. It wasn't until she was walking through the living room on her way to her own bedroom suite that she noticed one of the men had dropped something. Something so powerful , so important, that she knew immediately she must find its owner and return it before its loss became a catastrophe.
She picked up the Blackberry and headed to the study.
The room was empty. Rachel stood in the doorway and looked around, puzzled. Eight men, the seven plus Master Cihandaver, couldn't have left the house without her hearing. The only way out would have been the front door, and she could see that from the kitchen, where she had been working. Rachel backed out and peeked into the guest bedroom, which was on the other side of the hall. That, too, was empty. And the bathroom couldn't hold eight grown men, unless they were up to something really weird, in which case Rachel would be better off going to bed.
Still, it was a puzzle, and she hated unsolved mysteries. She stepped back to the door of the study. She even ventured in, peering around the room, looking for clues. And then she saw it. Her Master's chair had been pushed aside, and the rug underneath lay folded neatly, leaving the outline of a door in the floor. Rachel dropped to her knees and traced the edges of the door with her finger. Her heart began pounding in her chest, but she found herself drawn to lift the door. She slipped a finger through the heavy iron ring and tugged slightly. The door didn't budge. She pulled again, a little harder. It moved slightly. She put both hands on it and tightened her muscles. Just as it began to lift, an enormous hand dropped over hers. Rachel lifted her startled gaze and saw her Master standing over her. From her point of view, he seemed to have grown almost a foot taller and his shoulders were impossibly broad. He wore black leather pants and tight leather boots that reached up his calves. His open-throated shirt was made of fine-spun white linen and over his shoulders was draped a heavy robe made of a black fabric that Rachel didn't recognize.
Rachel opened her mouth to make some excuse for her behavior, but the words died in her throat. She couldn't decipher the look on his face. It wasn't anger, or even annoyance. Nor was it understanding or compassion. Resignation? Arousal? Universal certitude?
"Free will," he finally said.
"What?" That wasn't what she had been expecting.
"I give you free will," he said. He reached down and wrenched the door open, releasing a gust of cool air into the room. "You may follow me or you may go."
He started down the stairs, then turned to gaze at her, still kneeling by the opening. "Those who choose to follow me shall have responsibilities and requirements, but also rewards far greater than the human mind can conjure. "
"And those who don't?" she whispered.
He shrugged. "You can't miss what you never had."
Rachel watched him glide to the bottom of the steps before she made her decision. She slipped through the opening and carefully lowered the trapdoor back into place before scrambling after her Master.
At the bottom of the stairs, she had two choices. One was to turn left and follow what appeared to be a tunnel. The other was to turn right and followed what appeared to be a flickering trail of candlelight. Rachel chose the candlelight, and was led to a large hall with impossibly high ceilings. Rachel knew they were underground, but the walls seemed to go up and up, well over fifty feet. The walls were made of some kind of heavy stone, possible granite or marble. Her dazed mind couldn't discern between the two. Three rows of what looked like church pews were placed in front of . . . was that an altar? And, were those the gifts that had arrived earlier? Behind the altar, a set of marble steps . . . she was sure those were marble . . . that ran the length of the room and led to a platform on which sat an enormous throne. Her Master sat on the throne, and his presence seemed to fill the room.
Cut into one wall were alcoves from which spilled jewels and coins and other treasures. Six of the seven men were seated on the first row of pews, and the seventh, the oldest in the group, was at the base of the steps. He was on his knees facing her Master, and, though they weren't speaking, she knew they must be communicating somehow.
The older man rose, stepped to a lectern next to the altar, and motioned to the gifts, then to the alcoves.
"He has told us to distribute our offerings as follows. Samuel, take two bushels of jewels and find buyers for them. Give the money earned to the charities that He has designated. Matthew, the gold can be exchanged through the usual means. You know what to do with the profits. Josiah, choose a third of the sturdiest swords and other weapons, and take them to the Plowshare Exchange Company and then make sure the farm equipment produced goes to those in need. Sergio, He needs you to come up with a new food campaign. The raw meat sacrifices are fine, but canned goods are much more practical and more easily distributed to food banks. Ahmed, we have finally reached our quota of rain dance masks. Gather the shamans and take the private jets to the drought areas to start the rains, and to the flooded areas to stop them. Any questions?"
"What about me?" The young man who had first spoke to Rachel at the door waved his hand eagerly.
The older man glanced at the other five men in the pews, all of whom shook their heads imperceptively. He sighed. "You can work with me on the cyclical calendar, Gideon."
"Cool, dude! It's the fertility season, right? Do I get to go find some virgins?" Rachel saw the older man wince.
The men rose from the pews and moved around the hall. They took treasures out of the alcoves, conversed with Gideon, and made their obsequiance to her Master, who remained seated on the throne. Rachel stepped into the shadows as the men filed by her, arms filled with treasures, minds intent on the tasks at hand. The hall emptied and she was alone with her Master. He gazed into the shadows where she stood.
"Come out now," he commanded. Rachel stepped into the glow of the candlelight.
Her Master nodded and beckoned to her to move to the base of the steps. She started across the stone floor, but he raised his hand, stopping her. "Barefoot," he said quietly. Rachel kicked off her sandals, and put them side by side to the left of where she stood. She took a step closer, but he shook his head.
"Naked," he told her.
Rachel gazed at him and realized that he wasn't Mr, Cihandaver, her employer, anymore, but some sort of supreme being . One whom she had chosen to follow and obey when she made the conscious decision to trail Him down the stairs. She had seen evidence of His kindness and compassion for humans and their suffering in the way He ordered the treasures distributed, but she also saw in His eyes that He would be obeyed, or the consequences would be quick and fearsome. She lifted trembling hands to her collar and began to unbutton her blouse. Red heat stained her cheeks as she undressed for Him for the first time, the soft white fabric sliding off her shoulders, the colorful skirt falling around her ankles. She folded these articles of clothing carefully, putting them on top of her sandals. Her hands shook as she reached back to unclasp her beige bra. She held the cups to her breasts as she shrugged off the straps and then, unable to put off her exposure any more, she dropped the silk away from her body, revealing her heavy breasts to His gaze. She tugged her panties over the curve of her hips, noting that the crotch was soaked through as it peeled away from her cunt. She added her undergarments to the pile, the stood, looking down, waiting for His command.
"Look at me." The words drew Rachel's gaze to her Master's. His eyes burned into her. "Once I take you, once you give yourself to Me, your are Mine. Do you understand?"
Rachel's mouth went dry. She nodded.
"Yes, Master." Her voice was lighter than the breeze, but He heard it and was satisfied.
"Come, my pet. Kneel on the altar."
She moved toward Him, toward the altar slowly, like a bride going to meet her groom, giving Him time to gaze upon and appreciate the gift He was receiving. When she reached the altar, He held out His hand and she took it, allowing Him to help her onto the flat slate surface where she knelt, facing Him.
He reached into a pocket and when He pulled his hand out, yards of delicate chain were wound around His fingers. His other hand dove into another pocket and he came out with a handful of what appeared to be rings and clamps and hooks. He spilled these on the stone in front of Rachel's knees. She looked at them, not comprehending.
"Nipples first," he murmured. He leaned down and sucked her right nipple into His mouth, making it hard and wet with His lips and tongue. When He lifted His head, the nipple stood away from her body and Rachel was breathing faster. Her Master seized the swollen bud between His fingers and tugged it away from her body as he quickly pinned a clamp on it. Rachel's gasp of pain turned into a moan when he flicked the nipple with His tongue and briefly ran a finger along her wet slit.