The kingdom of Jupta. This place is a place filled with heroic knights, mystical creatures and dark magic. The kingdom was set on a huge continent that it shares with five other neighboring Kingdoms. Jupta, located on the very west of the Alexian continent, is friendly to all the other kingdoms, save for the Shiarl Kingdom, a country that sits on Jupta's northeast border. They have, over the course of time, engaged in warfare over the borders, land and resources. No side has ever been able to gain any substantive victories over the other, so the wars have always ended up coming to stalemates. The only real casualties, have been the men lost in those battles. This story takes place seven years after the last debacle.
Sarah was the daughter of the head priest of the Shrine of Shereidon. Shereidon was a god that many of the peoples on the Alexian continent worshiped. There were many shrines built throughout the countries for the people to gather. The Shiarl Kingdom, however, did not worship Shereidon, though they believed and coveted his power.
Sarah, a girl dressed in a white cotton and linen uniform, was busy about the temple located near the border of Shiarl. Her auburn hair bounced along her shoulders as she helped set up ceremonial decorations for an upcoming festival. Her shrine outfit hung about her shoulders comfortably, the sleeves only covering her shoulders. The top seams dipped sharply around her neck, briefly tracing the top inside curves of her breasts, to meet almost at the center of her chest. Three woven strands of gold string gently kept the small opening around her cleavage closed and It conformed rather softly around her medium, almost perfectly rounded breasts. It traveled underneath her tightened blue sash that she wore as a belt. Her shrine maiden dress traveled out underneath her sash, down the length of her soft tan thighs and came to rest slightly above her knees. Her dress was adorned with small trails of gold and blue.
Sarah was fresh and young and nubile at the age of eighteen, but she had no interest in many of the squires or knights that happened to wander into the temple to pray. Though she was an attractive girl, she was only interested in her devotion to Shereidon. She hoped one day to take her father's place as head of the temple.
She was in the main room of the temple at the start of her ordeal. The main room was massive. The whitened marble contrasted with the bright red rug that traveled from the huge main entranceway. The rug traveled through the middle o many pews and towards several carpeted stone steps, which in turn lead up to four altars, semi-circling a huge statue of the God. The statue was also made of white marble. The statue was muscular. His beard flowed down to his feet and hie eyes shown with softness. His arms were hung to his waist, but his forearms were outstretched with his palms held up.
Sarah had just finished cleaning and setting up the second altar when she heard a great deal of commotion coming from the entranceway.
There were men that were yelling from the outside, some screaming, most alarmingly upset. Sarah ran from her spot at the altar towards the Shrine doors. But just as she was about to open them, the massive brown wooden doors were instantly torn down and a huge amount of people wearing gold armor, with green pants and carrying swords immediately entered.
She paused, taking in the situation and then whirled about instinctively. She had not even taken two steps when one of the men had managed to snag her with his arm around the waist.
"Ahh let me go!", she cried in a soft voice.
But another rough gloved hand curled around her mouth. She suddenly smelled a strange odor wafting into her nose. She looked about and realized that the soldier's hand also held a small white cloth.
"No", she whispered, as her struggling began to cease. But soon all she saw was encroaching blackness.
The muscles in her legs gave out and she found herself slumping into darkness.
The soldier holding her suddenly felt her weight and then kneeled down to spin her around. He curled his left arm around her knees, let her stomach fall across his shoulder and picked her up. he carried the unconscious Sarah out of the temple.
A bearded man on a huge brown horse met up with the soldier outside of the entrance. He was big and muscular, and his black hair matched his gruff appearance. Several men wearing bright blue clerics robes were sprawled about the ground.
"Sir, we have the High priest's daughter," the soldier informed.
"Good work Alex," The man said in a stern authoritative voice, " I'm sure that she is the one that truly knows what I desire."
"Yes sir," Alex nodded.
The gruff man beckoned and so Alex leaned up against the horse, so that he and the man could slide Sarah's unconscious body up on top of it
The gruff man looked to the distance. The sky was orange, the sun setting on the horizon. A crisp wind blew.
"We'd best be off, before news gets to Jupta about this," he said, " We must have time to conduct our interview."
"Yes, Duke," Alex saluted.
With that the small army of soldiers mounted their own horses and quickly disappeared from the Shrine with their prisoner.
News of the attack on the Shereidon temple grew fast. The head priest, whom had actually been away to see the King of Jupta on business, was horrified to learn of his daughter's abduction. A search patrol was immediately launched and suspicion grew that once again it was the Shiarl Kingdom. The patrol had left for the shrine immediately and was hot to follow the trail that the attackers had supposedly in their haste. The attackers were not yet known and the pursuit may have been delayed, but the mystery of Sarah's abductors would not be too difficult to uncover. Unfortunately for Sarah, it left just enough time for her to be...
When Sarah became aware again, she knew that she wasn't home. She remembered what had happened as her gaze began to focus. Her arms refused to move from their position and as her vision started to clear. She realized that she was standing up. The sandals that she wore at the shrine had been removed, her bare feet rested upon the smooth wooden floor. Her wrists had been secured by ropes to a large wooden beam that traveled through a vertical wooden beam. The wooden beam was smooth and circular and was about two inches thick. It rested along the middle of her back as it embedded itself into the floor. She quickly realized that the wood floor she was standing on was just a portable contraption.
As her auburn hair floated across her shoulders as she learned that she was still wearing her shrine outfit. Her ankles were also secured by more ropes that lead from the wood floor. The lines were taut enough so that she wasn't leaning on the vertical beam, but loose enough to give her limbs and inch or so movement.
As she quickly surveyed her surroundings, the room morphed into what looked like a throne room. There were about four soldiers, all wearing the same garb from before, standing about the place. Two were guarding at each side at the double doors behind her while the other two were standing on each of side of the small staircase that lay in front of her. The blue sparkly floor, flowed up the staircase towards a bright gem encrusted chair. Sitting in that chair was a muscular man, with a black beard and a gruff face. He was wearing finely embroidered blue pants and a golden silk shirt. By his throne lay a scabbard.
Sarah also noticed an old sinister looking man standing at the man's right hand. He was wearing a rather shabby black cloaked robe, that was torn at the seams. Sarah caught the gleam in the man's crooked eyes and suddenly became aware of a strange feeling. Although she was wearing clothes, she felt embarrassed by his gaze.
But what had happened to her? Why has she suddenly being held captive? And what did they do to her when she was out? Could they have...?!? Her heart started to beat fast as she started to panic.
"I see that you are finally awake... Ms. Sarah," the man in the chair spoke kindly but with authority.
"Wh... what?," she started to form sentences, " What is going on?"
She was still trying to take in her surroundings.
"Well, my guess is that your being held captive," the man mused.
The other men in the room chuckled.
Sarah became suddenly afraid. Her breath became very slow and her skin grew cold.
"Oh don't worry. Our intention is not to harm you," the man explained.
Sarah narrowed her eyes, then quickly retorted, " Then why am I your prisoner?"
"I'm sorry for the rough treatment," the man continued, " but it is the only way to get the information I seek."
Sarah paused, wide eyed. She had no idea what the man was talking about. She didn't know anything besides how to upkeep the Shrine. She didn't know why someone would abduct her just to ask her questions.
"I don't know anything, I'm just a Shrine maiden," she explained, " Now please let me go."
She struggled with her bonds, pulling against the ropes. But the binds were too strong for her so she quickly sighed and relaxed. Her skirt felt smooth as it brushed against her legs She caught the old man's gleam again and felt very insecure. She looked away.
"You are the old man's daughter, are you not?" the gruff man asked.
Sarah decided to be defiant and didn't answer.
"Well, are you or not?! This will go easier if you just cooperate," the gruff man asked again.
Sarah shot the finely dressed, but overly gruff man an angry look before saying ,"Yes!"
"Then we did not make a mistake," he said.
The soldiers kept eyeing her and she moved her limbs as best as she could. She was growing both impatient and fearful about the situation.
"I swear I don't know anything about anything," she claimed, " I just want to go home."
"Indeed you shall, after telling us what I wish to know," the man retorted.
It was then that the old man spoke up. His voice was low and oily and it made Sarah's skin crawl.
"Perhaps It would be better Lord, if you were to introduce yourself and clarify to the young lady the meaning of her visit," he advised.
"Yes, your right Mortimer," the man agreed.
He stood up out of his chair and slowly walked toward the bound girl. As he stepped down the staircase in his smoothly black boots, he gave out his introduction.
"I am Duke Ross, of the Kingdom of Shiarl," he bowed his head to her.
"Duke... of Shiarl?", she exclaimed.
"Correct," he smiled with his beard.
"Why would you kidnap me? I'm a citizen of Jupta. Do you wish to start a war again?", Sarah berated the Duke.
"Well, eventually," the Duke admitted, " but I'm aware as much as you are that a war against Jupta is really pointless."
Sarah swallowed as the Duke continued.
"Nobody wins. The two sides are deadlocked. No one has advantage over the other," he explained.
"Yes, so why would you want to risk causing an international incident, such as kidnaping a Shereidon Temple worker no less, that may trigger another onset of war? Hasn't there been enough bloodshed?", she asked.
"I do not wish another pointless war myself," Ross admitted," but I do wish there to be a war that has a point. And that is why I have abducted you."
Sarah was confused. She had no idea why she would be so pivotal to the Kingdom's plans.
"I don't have any merit to any of your Kingdom's schemes. Moreover, many other countries may look down upon your desecration of a Shereidon Temple priestess," she told, " You don't have any cause. Please just let me go."
She pulled on her ropes.
"I want the spell," he flatly said.
A jolt suddenly went through Sarah's body. The spell? She darted her eyes back over to the Duke's face. She inwardly hoped that he had not caught her momentary gasp, but his knowing and intrusive glances toward her gave her the feeling that he had.
"You know... the spell," the Duke said again., raising his eyebrows.
"I don't know any spells," Sarah voiced.
"Well, see... there... you lied," The Duke strode up next to her.
He drew his face close to hers and smiled. She could smell a faint scent of alcohol on his breath. She tried to draw her head back as much as she could from him. His gruff face just smiled and then he stood straight back up again.
"You are the daughter of the high priest. So he must have told you the spell I want. It's a tradition to pass the secret on, is it not?", he smiled wryly.
Sarah's grim expression told the story. She did know what he was talking about. But she had no idea how he could have known. She just stared blankly and said nothing.
The Duke moved closer and then pressed his hand against the vertical wood beam, drawing up close to her body. He was still smiling knowingly. He drew his mouth up close to her face. Her cheeks drew flushed and she closed her eyes, pulling back away as best she could. But when she opened her eyes again, she found he had drawn his mouth close up to her left ear.
"I want the Ragnabirth spell", he whispered.
"No! You can't!," she blurted out.
She immediately realized her mistake. Everyone in the room was smiling, especially the duke. She gritted her teeth in disgust and then bit back her tongue.
"Ahh So you do know, " the Duke stood up straight again, " well now were getting somewhere."
"You... won't get any farther," she sighed, relaxing in her restraints, " I won't tell you anything."
"I don't know about that, " The Duke grinned, " I think you'll want to tell us sooner or later."
Sarah just glared at him with anger in her eyes. In her heart she could not believe that someone such as the Duke would know about the Ragnabirth spell. No one was supposed to know. It made her upset that he knew about it.
"I know all about what the Ragnabirth spell does, " the Duke explained, " I know how to perform it, what it does, and it's risks. But... what I don't know is what the words are. In fact nobody knows of any written form of the spell."
Sarah just stared silently.
"Actually sire, " the oily old man interrupted, " It's forbidden by law to even write the words out, or so I'm told. The law is even forbidden to mention I believe."
"That written law only exists archived in the main temple. So few even know about it," the Duke explained.
"So how is it that you know?" Sarah grumbled.
"Well... Shiarl espionage does wonders." the Duke mused," In any case we know that you know the words."
"I don't know them," Sarah denied.
"But, you do," the Duke grinned.
Sarah shook her head in denial. She just wanted to go home.
"Your going to tell us the words," the Duke commanded, " and then you can go home."
" I don't know them," Sarah vehemently repeated.
The Duke chuckled. He didn't at all seem angry. Instead he seemed amused. The old man's face was cracking into a smile as well.
"Well, you can either tell us what we want to know, or you can be the subject of entertainment and still tell us what we want to know," he mused.
"Wh..what...", Sarah felt a cold shiver run down her spine.
She looked around at her surroundings again. The men in the room were staring at her with silly grins on their faces. Everyone's gaze seemed to be focused on her body. She immediately thought about protecting her virginity. She had to...It was a law to be a virgin in order to be a priestess at her shrine. But she was in a very precarious position. Anyone could do anything they wanted to her at the moment. She was in no position to guard herself. She subconsciously pressed her thighs together and felt her cheeks redden.
"I know what you are, " the Duke smiled, " Temple Worker. Priestess. Virgin."
Sarah gulped at the last word. She drew her head down and gave the Duke a reserved look. Her cheeks reddened.
"I bet no man has ever seen you naked," he continued.
The thought of everyone in the room looking at her while she was nude crashed into her brain. Her nipples started to tingle a little, but she tried to clear her head away from the thoughts. She didn't want these strange people to stare at.. everything.
"I... don't know anything," she whispered again.
"Well, we'll see," Ross continued on, "in the meantime I'd like to show you something."
The old man hobbled forth and produced a long slender black box from within the confines of his dirty old tunic. He handed it to the Duke. The Duke just continued to stare at the confined Sarah.
She struggled in her ropes, pulling and tugging at them, but she could not get free.
Just then, the door to the throne room opened with a loud sound and the soldier named Alex walked through.
"Ahh Alex, You just made it, " the Duke said, " Please close the door."
The soldier named Alex did just that. Afterwards he strode through the room, nodding at the nubile young Sarah and took a seat by the steps. Sarah knew then that something was up.
The Duke had again come up to within arms distance of her. She struggled again to get free as she peered at the black box that the Duke had in his hand. He slowly opened it.
"Take a look at this," he smiled.
His thumb and index finger dug into the box, and a moment later her produced a small fuzzy creature. It resembled a caterpillar, except that it was completely covered in white fur. It's size was that of a small pinky finger. Sarah thought it looked harmless. As it wiggled in the Duke's hand, she thought it looked a bit cute.
"Strange isn't it?," the Duke smiled, "these creatures are very rare to find. Very magical creature."
Sarah stared at the fuzzy white caterpillar more closely.
"It has a voracious appetite. Continues to eat regularly," he explained.
At once Sarah started to become concerned. What did it eat? She asked in her mind. But before she could even react the Duke reached out and placed the fuzzy creature onto her right shoulder.
She jumped. She didn't want something to start taking bites out of her! She didn't much like insects. She just wanted it off. As she struggled to try and fling it off, the Duke reached out right arm and grabbed her on the other shoulder.
"Calm down," he said, " they don't eat meat. It won't hurt you at all."
She calmed down, but then watched then as he produced yet another white bug. His fingertips placed it directly onto her blue cloth belt.
"What... what do they eat?" She asked.
The Duke produced a third one and then stooped, placing it onto her dress.
"Silk," he smiled, standing tall again.
At that he closed the box and then stepped back. It took a moment for her to realize what it was he had just said. The bugs that he had just placed on her ate silk. That meant that...
She looked up onto her right shoulder. Sure enough, the small white bug was starting to chomp into the seam. Her heart lunged.
"So..," The Duke said, "We'll give you time to think it over. You can tell us the words to the spell whenever you want and we'll just let you go. But... well... I wouldn't wait too long to decide!"
He laughed and then walked back to return to his seat. The people in the room turned their attention away from her, and started conversation amongst themselves. Every once in awhile they would glance toward her. The old man was staring at her with obvious enjoyment and the Duke licked his lips at her in anticipation.
She wasn't going to give in. The Ragnabirth spell was a spell no one should have ever known about. The only reason she knew about it was because of her lineage. It was a forbidden spell, only to be used as a last resort if the world should fall into chaos. She knew she could never give it up.
She struggled, trying to get free of her bonds again. She could not break them, and she started to breathe heavily. The bugs were already chewing on her uniform in front of a room full of men. They were all waiting for the bugs to start peeling away her clothes strip by strip. She whipped her head around trying to locate them on her tunic. She spotted one all the way at the bottom of her skirt, near her knees. It was crawling on the seam, eating away at it as it moved.