Finding Home: In The Beginningbyjennyb2492©
In the Beginning
Long before the time of your grandparents, or their grandparents, even before the eight provinces, a small group of nine Families made their way over the towering mountains and beheld a new and unexplored land. It was abundant with forests and rivers and wildlife, and seemed to go on forever – at least, the scouts who went out reported that they explored for days and could find no end to the new land, and no evidence of any other people. So these nine Families settled this new land in a small town, raising their children together, carving out a harsh new life for themselves that became easier with each generation as the land gave back more than she demanded.
Over time, as life lost a little of its dangers, some in the Families started to think less about how to support the survival of all the people, and focused more on gaining advantages for their own Family. The Families had blended to a great degree over the years, but there were still nine men who rose to power in nine Families who led the people, discussing and voting together in a large council when needed, and dispensing solitary judgment among their own Family. The leadership of these Families usually passed from father to son, as is wont in societies where strength is seen as evidence of leadership ability.
Women, though, wielded power in their own way. When the group was still small, mostly men, and each Family was still closely related, it was necessary and understandable for women to seek companionship, sex, and eventually marriage, outside of their own Family. There were no artificial boundaries that told them they could not enjoy and seek pleasure wherever they chose, and if they desired to give the pleasures they could provide for money, well there was no one who was going to object to the fair exchange of one for the other.
As the Families grew and became more self-focused, they began to migrate further away, looking for enough land to support the growing population. After a time, there were nine areas, or territories, with borders that were hard to pin down. And that is where the troubles began.
Skirmishes and land grabs became constant, as each Family tried to secure some of the riches they coveted that their own land did not possess. Towns were raided, with all the inhabitants turned out into the forests and new inhabitants installed, loyal to the invading government. Reasonable people, both men and women, called for peace and the fair establishment of permanent borders, but those who preferred to use chaos to their own advantage always seemed to be able to block those efforts.
Eventually hostilities increased as they inevitably do, and one Family attacked another Family so viciously that the second Family was almost annihilated. The other seven Families were shocked into reality and together they systematically took apart the first Family and made them slaves, spread out among the remaining eight Families. The idea of a slave being reparations for an unjust attack started then. Though the borders were finally hashed out, smaller skirmishes still occurred over the years and the winning province began taking slaves and using them to force direct ransom payments for reparations, instead of automatically keeping the slaves. It was a point of honor that all slaves were eventually let go; the impact of keeping someone a slave faded as memories of the last skirmish grew dim, as unfortunately they do, and few could stomach the idea of destroying families by using a mother or father as political pawns for the rest of their lives.
It became a problem over the years that there was much more willingness for a government to pay large sums of money to get back their women and daughters than their husbands and sons; this was a society very protective of its women since the early days when women were in short supply. Thus it became ironic that a society that valued women for their scarceness had become a society in which only women would become slaves.
As time went on and society got more "modern," raids became fewer and fewer – diplomacy was the choice for most disputes.
Each Family was still ruled by the Head. Tradition was that the Head was a man, though if you looked closely you would not find any laws mandating it anywhere. Each Head picked an Heir at some point; the man who would succeed him. Occasionally it was a son, but often it was from outside the immediate family. Sometimes the choice was wise; sometimes not, which is why diplomacy was not universally successful.
Somewhere along the way women hostage slaves naturally figured out that offering sex in exchange for favors or even freedom was not a bad idea. And then someone in charge began to realize that allowing these women freedom in their sexuality was working against the point of keeping them in the first place, and so rigidly controlling them became the norm. Some provinces became extraordinarily strict and even cruel; others took a more moderate approach. Recently, most knew taking hostage slaves was a practice that would not last much longer, but no one has been willing to be the first to give up their advantage by announcing an end to it.
Practically speaking, raids had grown rarer by the time of the first story; the last one was eight years before, between Edwal, ruled by Elias Palm, a dictator in all but name, and Cormond, ruled by Patrick Loring, who paid enormous sums of money to get his citizens back because he feared for their lives if they stayed in Edwal. At the point of the opening of the story, Liz was the only hostage slave in any of the provinces.
Some of the provinces, including Alaine, ruled by Daniel Weiss, had begun offering some women alternatives to prison for nonviolent, medium-length sentences. For usually about half the length of their original sentence, they could voluntarily serve as slaves in his house and leave with their records sealed after a couple of years. Despite the harsh demands on them, they had more freedom at his house and the lessons they learned about themselves and about self-control meant they left with a better understanding of what had wrong in their lives and where to go forward. He never turned them out to the street – every woman had a place to go when she left, and there was not a woman who had been there who was sorry she had made that choice. Thus Daniel was able to provide guests with women who were trained to pleasure them, and everyone saw it as a fair exchange in this society where no one felt sex was something to be ashamed of.
Though the Head, or Chairman, of each province was by strong tradition a man, women were equal partners in society and in relationships. These stories generally take place within the confines of the walls of the Weiss Estate in Alaine, where the balance of power between the men and women in the story is different than in the larger society.
As the stories open, Edwal has just invaded Alaine on some pretense. Edwal's ruler, Elias Palm, is becoming increasingly unstable and unpredictable.
This is the world that Liz exists in. If the setting of this world does not appeal to you, you may want to skip these stories. All these stories have elements of non-consensual sex, reluctance, and strong BDSM.
Chapters 3 and 4 are perhaps a bit more extreme than some people will enjoy; they are on the agenda for re-writes eventually.
I hope you enjoy.