The kingdom of Aksala was in crisis. It was surrounded by Invader's army by all sides. The army had cut off all the trade routes. The food stores of the kingdom could only survive for one more week. The king had called an emergency gathering. All the efforts of negotiation with Invader's army had failed. Evacuation of civilians was not possible due to the army on the outside. All the lords and commanders had assembled in the Hall. Tension stretched throughout the Assembly Hall.
The Assembly hall was a large hall at the centre of the Royal Palace. It was created such that a king's voice could clearly reach the far corners of the hall. White tapestries with an uncoiled dragon on them hung from the walls depicting the Royal signet. The king sat in the high chair at the head of the hall. His face was haggard and he had a defeated look in the eyes. Murmurs were heard all over the hall, some ranging from the incompetence of the king, to the power wielded by the Invader.
"Silence" ordered the king. When only silence remained he spoke.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are in a grave crisis. The Invader has blocked all the routes going outside the kingdom. Evacuation of people is not possible. Food stores cannot be restocked. Our maximum survival time in siege would be two weeks to a month."
This caused a murmur of voices. When the murmurs did quiet, the king continued.
"I am faced with two choices. One is to fight the invader, which will cause loss of many lives but it will be a quicker end. Second is to wait for a miracle to happen and die of starvation in the process. The Invader is not keen on using the army as he seems to be in waiting mood. He is waiting for us to fall."
The last sentence seemed to make him age by another ten years. The king had heard of discontent growing among his lords. He feared some may go behind his back and kill him and his sons and then negotiate a deal with the Invader. He seethed at such a cowardly act. That is why he had called this gathering. The Royal Line had a tradition of witches from the time they had first come into rule. These witches had helped the kingdom in many battles and administrative endeavors. He motioned for his page to bring in the Witch.
There was silence in the Assembly Hall when the Witch entered with a cackling laugh. Everyone knew that Witches were mad. They could easily curse you and turn you in to a toad. So they were fearful and distantly respectful of the witches. The Witch cackled as she came to a stop. Then with a cringing voice she asked,
"How may I help, Your Majesty?"
The king had to give credit to the Witch. She always knew when he needed her help. This fact always frustrated him. He schooled his expression and then in a steady tone addressed his audience.
"This is the Royal Witch. Her ancestors have been with the Royal Line since time immemorial. Today I have brought her here, because she has a solution for our problems."
A loud cheer went up. It was all the people could do in a helpless situation. When the cheer did settle, the king addressed the Witch.
"Tell us all about the solution, Witch."
With a cackling laugh, the Witch turned to the lords and commanders.
"The Kingdom is on the verge of losing its freedom. The men of the Royal Line have the power to defeat the Invader. But the power has been dormant for so long, that it has vanished. There seems to be a ritual, that if performed can return the powers and thus save the kingdom."
A chorus of voices went up. All wanted their questions answered. The Witch continued nonetheless.
"In the past when the Royal Line was active and fighting for survival, the women of the Line had performed a ritual. They had sacrificed something they had to the holy spirits, so they could pay the price for the power that would make their husbands and brothers invincible."
She paused to see if anyone would disturb her. She was only met with silence. She continued.
"However for a few centuries our kingdom has remained unchallenged and the king and his successors lost their power. With changing time, the women of the Royal Line forgot the value of the sacrifices and started living a lavish life. This has led us to this point of time."
The king thoughtfully added, "We have let our ancestors down. Tell me Witch; is there a way to regain the power?"
The Witch turned to her king. She folded her hands around her chest and said,
"The Royal Line may have forgotten their past glory but we witches have studied it time and again. We can still perform the ritual and the powers can return."
Someone in the crowd yelled "Do it."
This started a chant of "Do it" in the assembly hall.
"What will you need for the ritual?" The king asked.
"We will need the cooperation of the women of Royal Line. The ritual can be performed on a full moon night which happens to be tomorrow." The witch replied.
The king turned to the Queen. His eyes pleaded her to say yes. The Queen who was so far quiet and sitting behind a curtain said, "The Witch will have our complete cooperation."
Another cheer went up. The Queen got up and strode towards her chambers. She knew about this ritual. All the Queens were taught about it during their education. However it was her daughters she was afraid for. After she was tamed by the ritual she would not have any say in her daughter's welfare. Her daughters would be by themselves in this cruel world. She steeled herself for her inevitable future and went in to her chambers for one last night of her freedom.
Queen Merida of Aksala, entered the ritual room. It was a circular room and was surrounded by high walls and a huge dome. There were small gaps in the ceilings so as to allow moon light inside. The Queen stopped in front of the witch.
"Witch, is there any other solution apart from the ritual?" She asked her voice laced in desperation.
"No majesty. It is not possible. Pleasing the Holy Spirit is one thing, but displeasing it can have serious repercussions." The witch replied solemnly.
The witch looked up into the sky. The moon was still covered in clouds. Only Moon Magic could help perform the ritual. The witch silently prayed for the Moon to reveal itself.
As if some god heard her prayer, the clouds parted. Moon light filtered from the windows and fell on the Queen and witch. The witch's body hummed with the power. This was the day when all the Witches went up for the Hunt. For the betterment of the kingdom, the ever loyal Witch would perform the ritual. It was prophesied that the King of Aksala will rewrite history of the ancestors. Today she was going to play her part in the prophecy.
"Prepare yourself Queen. Time is not on our side." The witch said.
The Queen gave a nod and strode purposefully towards her quarters. It was time to gather her daughters and put them away to sleep.
Fifteen minutes later, all the adult women of the Royal Line were present in the Ritual Chamber. Five circles were made of some magical white powder. All the circles were directly under moon light.
The witch faced each of them and said, "Kindly shed all your clothes and stand over in the circles I have made."
Each of the ladies, including the Queen stripped and entered the circles.
The Witch started chanting something. A dim blue aura formed around her body. Soon an invisible barrier had formed where the circles were made and effectively trapped each of the ladies in the circular prisons.
The witch turned towards the Queen and said, "I will start with you, milady."
The Queen swallowed audibly.
"This ritual is performed so that the men of the Royal Line can harness the dormant power that their Line carries. Due to some reason, this power can only be invoked after pleasing the Holy Spirit. All you ladies standing here have nothing material that you can offer, But a sacrifice must be offered to the Holy Spirit to harness the power. The sacrifice that you will provide is your FREEDOM."
There was shocked silence. Then the younger of the women started banging on the barriers. The effort however was useless.
"My Queen, kindly ready yourself." The witch said and started chanting.
Under the moon light, the Queen started feeling the effects of magic on her body. She felt her waist contracting. She looked down and saw a long metal band wrapping itself around her waist. Once it covered her waist, it started contracting. Within moments her waist size was reduced and she was feeling dizzy.
The Queen's sister in laws and other women of the Royal Line saw her changing and renewed their banging. About a minute of banging and wailing later, they became silent. They had resigned themselves to their fate. They watched their Queen changing helplessly. The metal corset had finished its contractions, when they saw strips of metals extending from it and moving towards their mother's crotch. Slowly the crotch plate formed and sealed itself in place. Their Queen was now effectively under chastity. They were horrified.
When the Queen saw the horrified expressions on the other women's faces, she looked down and wailed. The magic was spreading over her body and she had no control over it. After the crotch plate had fixed itself, metal bands started forming on her arms. The metal bands were located at her wrists and elbows. The magic forced her hands to go behind her back and she felt her elbows drawing close. Pain shot in her arms and shoulders when her elbows touched together. Her wrist bands had also joined each other. The pain was intense and a sense of breathlessness overcame her. Yet, she remained upright. She had to remain strong; after all she was still the Queen.
The other women watched in horrified silence as the arms of the Queen were joined behind her back. They saw metal bands forming at Queen's ankles and just above the knees. When the bands had fixed themselves, small chains formed from nowhere and fixed themselves between the metal bands. It dawned on them that they were now going to be hobbled. Some women renewed their thrashing while the others looked on with a resigned look.
The Queen felt the final item latch onto place on her body. It was a metal collar. It was humiliating to find herself collared.
"Thank you milady. Your courage will be remembered for the many generations to come." The witch said and moved towards the other women.
Soon the ladies were writhing and thrashing around the barrier as they were restrained by the Moon Magic. They tried to look towards their Queen with pleading eyes. They found only hollow and defeated look in her eyes.
One by one the witch performed the ritual on every woman present in the Ritual Chamber. When the ritual completed, a cloud cover slid over the moon, darkness filling the room. The witch clapped her hands, and lights lit up in the lamps located around the chamber. In the light, several of the royal maids came and put huge cloaks on the shoulders of the women. The cloaks reached up to the ankles. This helped covering most of the restraints from prying eyes. Only the collar was visible.
All the women were slowly led to their chambers. They found it difficult to shuffle at first with the small chains around their ankles, but soon were shuffling towards their respective quarters.
Somewhere around the kingdom a war horn was sounded. A huge war cry went over the entire kingdom. The final war had begun. The powers would be tested and remembered today.
War and Peace
When the ritual was completed, King of Aksala gave the orders to march. A war horn sounded. The King had stealthily gathered his forces and those of the lords and positioned them at the borders of the kingdom. There were four men of the Royal Line including him and each man had their own troops. They each took east, west, south and north respectively.
With the war horn, the biggest battle in centuries started. The Invader's army was protected with some magic. The King, with his new found powers located the source of magic. He went through the enemy lines like an arrow, piercing them and killed Invader's only witch. The Invader had been overconfident in his assumptions of the prowess of Aksala and he paid the ultimate price.
As the other three members of the Royal Line covered the King, The King started fighting the Invader. The King defeated the Invader. A loud cheer went up among the army. The remaining troops of the Invader's army became scattered in the absence of their leader. They were chased down and captured by the remaining army. That day, a huge feast was ordered for the troops. The King himself spent time with the soldiers to commend them on their courage and valor. It took almost entire week to clean up the kingdom of the damage due to the war. The normal life started after one week. The King signaled for his son and relatives to return to the Royal Palace.
It was quite apparent that her daughters were confused, but the Queen had no way of protecting them. The life of the women in the Royal Palace had changed dramatically after one month of the war. When the King had returned, he had organized a full festival to let the people of the kingdom know about the sacrifice of the Royal women. However, the Queen noticed the magical restraints holding the women soon became a symbol of their submissiveness. Within a month of the ritual, the men of the Royal Family became arrogant about their power and the Queen and other women were degraded to a lower status.
This was done because the crotch plates of their restraints had become a permanent part for the women. This meant that they couldn't produce heirs for the Royal Line. They found themselves becoming objectified and degraded to entertainment status. The King and other men soon married other women in hopes of extending their bloodlines. Pacts and marriages were done within kingdoms for political and ambitious reasons. It became apparent to the Queen that her daughters would be unsafe in these conditions. So she gathered few faithful guards and servants and secretly they had whisked off the young daughters to the Royal Line to a safe place. There they would live as simple common woman, but safe from these atrocities. After a teary farewell they were sent off.
Apart from the current restraints additions were done to their attire. Since the Queen and other women who participated in the Ritual couldn't have sex, they started becoming frustrated. The new Queen and her friends devised new ways to torture the women of the Royal Line. They decided to add a gag to the women's restraints. These were open mouthed gags and were welded in place thus making them permanent fixtures. The humiliation was increased when the previous Queen was called to King's bed chamber and forced to give oral satisfaction to the new Queen. The women who participated in the ritual were officially reduced to the status of Royal slaves.
In the end, the Ritual made sure that the peace of the kingdom was returned and life returned to normal for the people. The women however found out that their life had just become worse from bad.