A Harem Fantasy Ch. 12bymadam_noe©
The next week passed like a strange dream. With the queen absent, and I in her place, I had great power. Not limitless, but enough to survey all that I had to do.
Lucius was quite right. He was indeed very intelligent, if stubborn. Things were softening between us, but there was still an iron core inside him that would not bend or break. As much as it depressed and bothered me, I found myself almost admiring it by turns.
I also found myself ignoring the harem pleasures as business took over. At night I was often so exhausted that the only pleasure I knew in the day was at the raising of the moon. My thoughts in the night were heavy, and not given to levity.
I had come here as a spoiled brat, I knew that now. Despite years of hard work and training for one single goal, I was spoiled and sheltered. Now the weight of the world rested on my shoulders. I found myself envying my sisters even more. A life to lead freely, to own a small plot of land, raise a family the way I desired.
At night Lucius seemed to understand, and he simply held me. Those were the times I liked him best that week. I sought his counsel in the day on matters of state and he was never shy about arguing with me. And he did not always argue what he believed; often he argued many sides so that I would see them all and weigh them similarly.
After my work was done, we raised the moon. At those times I felt almost like we were alone. I seemed not to notice the crowd below or the harem members present. Lucius would smile and I felt the goddess within me, the god within him. It was a thing of beauty and all that week the moon shone brighter than any could remember.
At night I pretended my luxe rooms were in a farmhouse and Lucius and I were married. There would be work early in the morning, and soon children. At night I dreamt of two women with swords, blood, fear, and watching Lucius' light fade. Each morning I woke to the haunting sound of the Queen's mad laughter.
There was not all that much I could do. I did spend much of my time researching Fisine and her religious order, almost a parody of the old religion. They too believed in the inner strength of women being the path to spiritual enlightenment of all, but they took it one step further. They seemed to believe men should be slaves, and that pain and pleasure were one in the same.
It explained a lot, including how the order had survived. It attracted many women related by 3 or 4 degrees to a noble house with no female heirs. The order believed a male child could not hold the estate until he married, they believed it should go to those distant female relations. As such, they aided their cases and received rich rewards when the estate was funneled into the hands of a distant female relative.
The queen had strengthened their position, granted them unseemly land allowances in the provinces and here in town. She had not made it the official religion...yet. She had however laid the groundwork by instituting harsher laws on men. If she ruled another twenty years we might see men become slaves well and truly.
Lucius in the morning would aid my communications with Cassipe. I mostly asked about the days before Antal's rule. All that remained in the records about the previous queen, Cassipe's queen, were stories of her beauty and talent. Information on her budget, military strategies, and policies on infrastructure seemed nonexistent.
From him I learned the military budget had been small, the provincial governments stronger, the central weaker, and tolerance had been a lofty aim. A far cry from the modern world.
The old religion had once been practiced in many different ways, as was shown in the harem. All of us in the harem showed that in the various ways we had been raised. Now there was little declension from Fisine's practice. The queen set the fashion and it seemed that women in our world were overly fond of wielding whips.
My goal became clear. I had to win the nobility. I would do it through their men. I dared not tell Lucius this yet for I worried how he would take it. I could not put into words why his defiance was so distressing other than my world needed one anchor, one thing I could count on working as I had always been told it would. Ii thought a consort would be that anchor, but Lucius was the most unpredictable element of my world.
I sent my orders for the ball and had the invitations written by hand, the scribes using the most beautiful calligraphy possible. I made note that the evening would honor the beauty and power of men and had them delivered the day of the ball. I wanted as little word to return to the queen as possible. After that night, I did not know what would happen.
I remained in the public chambers on the ground floor, allowing visits from the subjects. Most were land disputes, appeals for decisions by high courts, and it was dreary. After I would greet the moon, then the ball would begin. I would arrive late as was customary, and also practical. It would take me a time to make ready.
Before the last visitors entered the chamber I sent word to have the upper levels of the harem make ready to greet the moon. I heard the case, freshened up, and hurried with the guards to the higher levels where the queen's balcony looked over the courtyard.
Lucius waited. We needed little preparation. By then, since this was our only contact, we both had great physical need built up for the moment. I greeted my people, dressed finely for the ball, and as they cheered I covered Lucius. I kissed him first with a smile. I had a plan in place for later that evening, where his nature would be an asset.
Surprised, he kissed me back, raising his head to follow when I pulled away. I laughed as I rose up and slid him inside me. I was so nervous and my day so boring I had spent hours fantasizing about this, and the reality was sweet.
So sweet I almost forgot to raise the goddess. I moved over him, pumping, my hands stroking his lean, strong body, and when the hot curled tail of orgasm beckoned me I remembered to open myself to the great spirit.
Somehow the passion made her stronger and she shot through me just as I peaked. Lucius gasped and came with me, jerking up and placing his arms on my waist completely against tradition. I cared not, I felt the god strong in him.
There were gasps in the crowd and when Lucius and I slowed our panting and opened our eyes, we found the harem staring at the sky. I looked up and laughed.
The moon was eclipsed, looking bathed in blood. There were many legends of such an event, good and bad, the oldest was that only a queen of true power could accomplish it.
From deep within the queen's rooms I heard her cry out, and Marxim paled. "Go, now, and make ready. I will attend her."
"Tomorrow, Marxim, I swear this shall be your last night spent in fear." He gave me a look of hopelessness but nodded, and left for her inner rooms.
I disbanded the harem and let Lucius return to his rooms to make ready and I went to mine. I was dressed in a white robe shot through with purple dye flowing between bands of white. The piping at the edges was gold braid, and the gold and purple matched the ribbons wound through my hair. Again I was dressed in pounds of metal for decoration and coated with thick makeup. In the end I did resemble a living work of art, exactly the image a leader should project, but it made me feel tired when there was so much work to do.
At the edge of the harem, under the weight of stares from all the members, I met Lucius. He looked...amazing. He wore dark green clothes, the material thin and fine and silken, flowing over his body. At one shoulder a black cape attached, part of it anchored at his waist on the opposite side. His hair was damp and slicked back, looking much darker than its usual golden color and showing the sharp bones of his face. His eyes appeared almost as dark a green as his clothes. He gave off an aura of power worthy of a queen's consort.
"My qu- lady," Lucius said and bowed with a wink.
I frowned at the near slip. "My consort. Come, let us meet the nobles." Taking his hand we stepped forward and guards parted, though more lines the grand staircase.
We climbed down to the administrative floor and passed more as we rounded the corner away from the small hall that led to the pool, and took the stairs down to the public rooms.
A crier announced us, the woman's voice carrying loudly. The musicians paused for my name and Lucius', and the began a royal arch for our final declension into the throng. It was not the queen's song, but it was a variation on her theme.
Guards lined the way to the throne platform. I took the throne and Lucius took Marxim's seat as he would not be joining us. The other seat, planned for Lucius, was efficiently removed.
The throng fell silent as the tune faded.
"My nobles, gentleman and ladies, I welcome you. I am Virtal the Just, this is my consort Lucius. I wish to welcome you to the palace in the queen's absence. Tonight we celebrate...love."
There was no major reaction; in fact, if one dropped a pin in the outside courtyard, there in the ballroom I surely would have heard it.
"Love is the guiding force between the goddess and the god; love is what brought forth the blood moon tonight. Love is the answer to war, to fear, to uncertainty. Love is what we shall strive for, and tonight, it is what we shall celebrate!"
This was, I knew from records, the strangest speech every given by an heir of the throne. However, by the end of the short spurt of words, I knew I had the men. Their eyes were soft, some of them seemed almost infatuated. Who would have thought I would be a romantic hero? If that is what I needed, I would become it. If I had to compose sonnets and learn to sing softly with a lute, I would.
Applause began, shyly at first, but then the loud thundering of the men's claps overtook the women's, and the music began anew. I accepted a goblet of brewed wheat as did Lucius.
"To love," I toasted him and smiled at my consort's perplexed look.
When we had drunk a long sip I stood and held my hand to him. "Let us dance."
Down on the floor the crowd parted for us, still moving, but their eyes were fixed to us. Good; just as I wanted.
Lucius reached for my shoulders as the partner who would follow. Smiling, I placed his hands on my hips and put mine on his shoulders. "You know how to lead, yes?"
I had been expecting to have to ask twice but immediately Lucius took the lead. He danced like he moved in the arena, with pure, sheer grace. He lead the dance as well as any woman could and I found he made it easy to follow.
There were gasps from the crowd but they melted away from my mind. I looked up into Lucius' beautiful face and his smile was more dazzling than any of the chandeliers. We moved together like we had been partnered through life. I couldn't help but smile back at him and wink, dipping back on a slow turn in the dance. He laughed, a wild, free sound of joy, and when I came back up I tipped my head up and kissed him.
The crowd was moving slowly, their faces staring at us openly. Lucius kept up the lead. I wanted the world to see I would not treat men as objects; I wanted them to see my path was not one of pain and cruel power. If there was anything of love and friendship possible between these couples, I wanted to foster it, to strengthen it, and in such give men power.
I would not tell my consort just yet. He would have his day in the sun, but for now he needed to stand solidly with me; not in front of me, and not behind me. That was a giant step forward under this world Queen Antal had formed.
The song ended and I slipped from Lucius' grasp as he bowed to me. Taking his hand we returned to the dais and sat. There was a feast awaiting us as the dancers filed to tables lining the dance floor. The lesser nobles remained in the courtyard and I quite envied them.
It had only been two months since I had arrived, but it felt like an eternity. In that time I had not been outside, my only glimpse of the world from the queen's balcony. I wanted to dance out there, under the blood moon and the stars.
As we ate and Lucius and I made the pleasant easy talk of two people with ears all around, the urge grew. I could not help but think of that night with Cassipe and Lucius. Never had it so firmly been planted in my mind my place. I would be the next queen. I was the current queen's heir and steward.
With that thought, when the meal was cleared, I bade the musicians to play a lively tune from my homeland, and I led my consort out to the courtyard. The higher nobles stared at us in horror, the lesser in disbelief. I smiled to them all, and this time Lucius did not need to be told. He took the lead, and we danced the night away.
The ball ended just before dawn, and by then I was mad with lust. I had expended more energy than any other day of the past week and yet I was far from exhausted.
"Come with me," I told Lucius as we climbed the stairs to the harem. I led him away, towards the pool, and when my path became clear his steps quickened.
"I hate this metal," I said, opening the door to the silent pool.
"I hate this cape," he replied with a grin.
His grin made him soft, young, as if he were a boy. I gave in to a mad urge and pushed him into the pool. Lucius seemed shocked and made a great splash. I didn't wait and jumped in myself. I stayed under the water for a long minute, wiping the heavy makeup from my face.
Before I came up he grabbed me about the waist and we rolled. Breaking the surface and sputtering I saw him standing and grinning, quite wet. His clothes clung to him in a very enticing manner. Lucius' eyes slid down and I realized my white dress was translucent in the water.
I could only gasp and splash water at him. He dove under again and the light was so dim when he was under the water I could not see him. Hands suddenly caressed my thigh and I jumped, but then he was gone. The water seemed still yet he sprung from the water like an old god and grabbed me.
Mad with lust I clung to him and kissed him just as fiercely. Raising the moon had been sheer gentleness and now we needed rough animal passion.
His hands nearly bruised my breasts as he tore my dress to gain access. I clutched his head as his teeth skimmed down to capture the peak of one and cried out when he bit it. Lucius laved the hurt and fiery desire spiraled through me. I wrapped my legs around him, supported by his strength and the water. He sucked now and I could wait no longer.
I reached between us, gathered up his short clothes, and felt his hard, hot length. I positioned him and sank down, the water making it rough and somehow more pleasurable.
We both cried out when I was seated. I tried to move but Lucius stopped me, and then walked slowly to a column. He slammed me into it and smiled. "That's more like it."
I was past caring for anything other than the pleasure we could give each other. He fucked me, hard, without any trace of the reverence found in my other lovers. I needed it, and I fucked him back, slamming my hips against him, biting his shoulder until he cried out.
He suddenly began to grind against me and the pleasure caught me by surprise. I screamed out his name as I came, peaking with colors bursting behind my eyes, and before it passed he slammed into me so hard we shook the giant stone column.
Lucius cried my name with his release and it was a beautiful thing to watch, even in the dim light. He shook with it and I clutched him, undulating my hips when he could move no more, determined to milk him dry.
When it passed he collapsed against me, gasping. It hit me then. Cassipe had been right. What I had felt for him was young, foolish infatuation. He would always have a special place in my heart, but now...I wanted Lucius and only Lucius.
Shaken by this I forced a smile and disengaged from him. He leaned against the column still panting and I swam a short distance and splashed him. I understood why Lucius scared me now. All my life I had only had to answer to Cassipe and Lady Marlowe, my teacher and mentor. I had always known the day would come when I would leave them. Now I answered to Queen Antal and I knew there would come a day when I would kill her. All these people who had held power over me shaped my life, but I knew I would one day be free of them.
Lucius had won my love, which meant he held power over me. What truly scared me was I did not want to ever be free of it.
I yawned and stretched. The high windows of the harem told me it was late afternoon. I had left orders to be awakened only an hour before raising the moon.
"Virtal, Lucius," came the voice again.
I rose up on one elbow and shook Lucius. "Who is it?"
The curtain to Lucius' chamber opened and there stood Marxim, looking most grim and resolute. "What is it?" I asked with a yawn.
"The queen has decided to end her mourning. She has summoned you, Virtal. Please, hurry, and do take care."
My heart winced. Would I die? Did she know what I planned? Was I to die, or merely suffer her torture. Worse, would she kill another? Torture another and make me watch? I looked at Lucius who blinked sleepily at me. Stroking his face, I knew. If she hurt him, I would kill her tonight. The queendom be damned.
"I'll be right there." I kissed my consort. "I must go and get dressed and you must as well. The queen commands us. Lucius, promise me, whatever happens, you will not stand in my way."
He sat up and grabbed my head holding it close. "Do not do anything foolish. Your position is not secure. Fisine still lives."
"And if I kill the queen and I die, who is next in line?"
His eyebrows shot up. "Do you honestly not know? I must yell at your tutor for leaving you in ignorance. Virtal, if you both die and there is no other designated heir, Fisine becomes queen."
My stomach quaked.
"I will do nothing foolish but do not disobey me tonight."
"And if your order countermands the queen's?"
"I will be smart enough not to phrase it so. Now get dressed, and have some faith in me." I kissed him again and borrowed his sheet to cover me as I returned to my room.
The maids awaited me, took the bracelets and earrings I carried in my hand and helped me remove the heavy necklace. My hair was quickly and simply put up and I was dressed in a simple dress and sandals. I asked for my sword and the maids glanced at each other but did as I said and fastened the scabbard and belt around my waist.
I entered the queen's rooms to find the top tier assembled, the stock kneeling, foreheads to the ground by the queen's throne. Marxim stood by her other side, head down. Lucius stood by the stone altar where the moon was called and I joined him.
"You wear your sword, why is that, little Virtal?"
I curtsied to the queen, as beautiful a ever, but she seemed pale and drawn. "I like the feel of my blade with me, as it was only a week ago two women tried to kill me and my consort."
She sniffled. "You have disobeyed me."
The world seemed to fall silent. I raised my chin. "Have I?"
She stood. "You little bitch! I ordered you to take others of the harem each week. This week have you lain with anyone but your consort?"
My heart pounded. That was her only quarrel? I should have felt relieved, but this smelled like a trap. "No, my queen, only Lucius."
"Lucius, do you seek some special power over my heir?"
"No my queen, only her affection and satisfaction."
"Tell me Virtal, has any man possessed you arse?" The curse term drew gasps from the women. Missiply, her twin Annist, and Morganna blushed as well.
"Yes, my queen."
I hesitated, wondering where this line of dark questioning would lead. "Lucius."
"And only Lucius?"