The Captured Princess Ch. 06byHandsInTheDark©
"Oh! The new girl!"
I braced myself as upwards of fifteen beautiful women streamed towards me. They all had the "you must be hugged and kissed!" light in their eyes, and I felt more like a visiting cousin than a recently made slave. It was oddly and powerfully comforting, even if they were all naked and some of them were prettier than I was.
(And some were less beautiful. I struggle to understand this. I see women who are very obviously beautiful, but men barely give them a second glance. And I have seen less perfect women who men will not leave alone. What is it that men sense about these women, that makes them so relentless? I was raised to believe that men only cared about beauty, and it is clearly what matters most to them. But there is something else as well, and I do not know what it is.)
Hugs and kisses blurred together. They were ecstatic to see me, but it was the largest crowd I'd seen in days and I'd just gotten over my isolation, and my visit with the Prince. Colors and sounds and faces were still almost stunning.
"Come, Alani! Oh, you're lovely. We have food -- grapes, and a little cheese, we've saved it for you -- but first a bath, we'll wash you-"
They slowly resolved into individual people. I recognized Siri from Enjine's description -- short, impossibly cute, with waves of dark brown hair and brilliant blue eyes. Antara was a stunning blonde girl, not over 20, with the sweetest voice I'd ever heard. Quasar had jet black hair, an oriental face, and she danced every step she took. Suchita was a stunningly sensual, tall goddess of a woman with a quiet smile. I could see no pattern in what was here; the Prince clearly didn't have a single "type" as far as women went.
"-Is it true you were a princess! Oh, how different everything must be! But we will help you-"
"Stars, STOP! Too much!"
"Isolation," Quasar said. "Oh, sweet girl, how long? Do you know?"
"No! And I'm going back in at some point."
Sad silence. I looked around. "Sorry to ruin the moo-"
Suchita stepped forward and laid her hand briefly across my mouth. And then turned to the others.
"Quasee, find Enjine and get her in here. Antara, the bath, and we'll want music, so Inara, get your flute. Clarissa, the combs and oils." She moved her hand. "Alani, were you painted white?"
"Get nail polish, Clarissa. One of you find some spiced wine if you have to hand job every guard from here to the kitchens to do it. That can be your job, Siri."
That got laughter. Siri licked her hand with a wicked grin, and darted off just behind Quasar.
"Talk or don't, sweet child, as you wish," Suchita said to me.
I had never been given service like this as a Princess, and in that moment I learned a lesson about the difference between someone who Has To, and someone who Wants To. I suddenly wondered how civilization worked at all with such heavy reliance on slave labor. I looked at Suchita.
"You are all... happy here?"
"We are all here," Suchita said, smiling. "It is simply where we are. Happiness comes from something other than a place or even a situation."
But fatalism, I thought, always comes from misery.
"But there are other places to be," I said. "Have you tried to go to any of them?"
"I would still be myself in any of them," she said. "And what I am is a Prince's toy. It is my place on the wheel."
"There is no wheel."
"There is. It is found in the will of men. How else do you explain the fact that you are not a Princess now?"
"Insufficient attention to defenses. Too many plowshares, not enough swords."
"Such was Fate's decree."
"If I ever run across this Fate bitchling and her fucking wheel," I said, "I'm going to slap her face so hard she'll be forever looking at where she's coming from."
"Actually," Suchita said, "I don't think you're the only one who wants that..."
"Heat pulse, stand back," came Antara's voice. There was a flash of red, and a gust of steam. "Bath's ready!" she sang.
I made haste. I didn't want the Prince on my skin a moment longer. I dipped a toe in, shivered from the heat, and sank slowly into the warmth and vapor. Soaps and oils followed me on the hands of harem girls. I selected one soap for my face and one for my body, and poured an essential oil into the bath. I was struck by the fact that a harem girl got the same pleasures and treats as a Princess, when it came to bath; I couldn't decide if I liked that or not, but in the end it came to the same thing in my case, so I let it go.
"Moonrise on solstice night," I cooed. "What bliss."
Hands descended on me and scrubbed; Clarissa lifted my hair out and did complex things with soap and water and warm towels and drying oils and combs. Others lifted my feet out, inspected them, and applied pumice to my skin and files to my nails. When Inara and Antara began a soft flute and voice duet, I nearly cried.
"We take care of each other," Clarissa said quietly. "We are each other's slaves, even Enjine, the head of the harem. She said you met her, I think? She's nice, and so smart. She remembers everything. But the point is that when any of us comes back from the Prince, she's taken care of. Massages, baths, whatever we have. We are the best friends in the world."
Because you have to be, I thought. But it made sense. The more men dominate, the more women bond.
"-can't believe I didn't hear she was here," drifted Enjine's voice, and then she pushed herself in front of me and smiled. "That's perfect. Sweet girl, just soak, it's good to see you in a comfortable setting..."
She darted off again, and Clarissa, behind me, chuckled.
"She's a lucky girl, Enjine is."
"Yes. If the Prince loves anyone at all, it's her."
"Then he loves no one, simple Clary," Quasar said, as she settled in to inspect my hand. She turned to me. "They say he loved a woman once, when he was barely twenty, and something terrible happened. And now he will not love at all."
"Enjine will win him over," Clarissa said. "You'll see."
Enjine darted back. "I heard all that, you know. Alani, close your eyes, open your mouth, and prepare for a trip to heaven."
Nervously I closed my eyes, and Clarissa gasped. A moment later there was richness and sweetness...
"Where did you get real chocolate," Quasar whispered.
Enjine chuckled, almost shyly. "Oh... A visiting noble last month. You'll remember him -- jet black hair, oriental, off-world accent. The Prince had me make sure he slept well at night. He was... generous."
I'd had real chocolate exactly four times before. Three times with my family, on the Garden of Pleasures night, when the moon occulted Cekali. And once in secret; it had been given as a gift from an admirer from Skyfall. I'd been fifteen, and I'd fantasized about marrying him for a month. (My father forbid future contact from him; he was from a very inferior and materialistic house.)
This chocolate met all my expectations, being sweet and dark and rich and having just a hint of orange to it; and it was a full minute before I could open my eyes again. It was unnerving to find I was being avidly watched by seventeen women; Inara had put down her flute and I hadn't even noticed the music had stopped.
"I bet it's not her first time," one of the girls whispered, jealously.
"Fifth," I said, airly. There were general groans.
"It's so, so unfair that only men know how to make it," Quasar complained. "And it's that way on all the worlds, even the pussy ones."
"Democratic ones," I corrected automatically. Pussy was a vulgar term and my mother had been adamant that it not be used in reference to politics. My father had used it all the time. "And it's been analyzed. We know it's sugar, something cream-based and extracts from an unknown plant. And it was not always secret and scarce. On forgotten Aireth it was available everywhere."
"So were unicorns and democracies," said Inara. "Do not weary my ears with tales of Aireth. Frozen water falling from the skies? A moon so bright it cast clear shadows? Please."
"Frozen water falls from the skies on Apollyon Four," one girl said. "My grandmother was from there."
"She told you fairy stories, child," said another. "Ice falling from the skies would kill people. A 100 gram object falling three thousand meters is fatal; can you imagine the carnage from shards of ice stabbing down from the skies?"
"She said she caught it on her tongue."
"That's how her tongue got so forked, then."
There was general laughter.
Enjine looked me over. "Out of that bath, pretty girl. The warm towels are ready."
I was lead to a bed layered in thick towels, and they wrapped me in them, rolled me about, and massaged me through them. It was impossible bliss. Clarissa daubed me with perfumes, and Enjine brought me silks to wear.
Once I was comfortable, the Princess Questions started. There is no getting away from this, I have learned. People without rank always want to know what it is "like" to be a Princess. I've learned that whatever specific question they ask first, reveals what is missing in their own lives. The plain ask about suitors. The underfed ask about meals. Slaves ask about authority. All women ask about clothing and shoes.
What always strikes me about my life, in comparison with others, is not that I had better food, or better clothing, or more handsome suitors (in fact I didn't; most potential matches are physically unappealing, because politics trumps everything.) It is the variety of experiences I have had. I was free to read, to ride, to learn weapons (a freedom I did not avail myself of much, sadly), to travel with my family, to sit at court and sometimes even to speak at it, to see things many people never see. So many people, I have learned, do one thing in life, over and over, and never hope for more.
But I quickly cut off the questions. I was no longer a princess, and the reminders hurt.
And as I looked around the harem room, all marble and red silk hanging and gaslight, I knew that the variety of experiences of my life was over. This would be my world now. For all the silk and marble, I was in a cage.
"Fuck the Prince," I snapped, suddenly.
Immediately the gaslights faded out, and darkness descended. As the girls wailed in terror, a red light blinked on, high in the ceiling, and pulsed rapidly. By that light I saw the girls fall to their knees and cower on the floor, arms wrapped around their head. The poses were so uniform I decided it must have been some kind of conditioning that I had not had yet. All I felt was sudden terror.
Four armed men entered. I tried to run, but they were swift and strong. I was grabbed by the hair, and brought to my knees; and they quickly bound my wrists and knees, and carried me out.
I was dragged to another white room with odd furniture I did not recognize, but all of it had straps and manacles and hinges, and I did not doubt it was all designed to turn a woman's body into a helpless plaything. The men quickly had me trussed, face down, on a nearly horizontal, curved wooden X that raised my ass, held my wrists and ankles tight, bound my knees and elbows still, spread me open wide... A tight band around my waist prevented further squirming.
One of the men produced a knife, cut away my clothing, wadded some of it and forced it into my mouth. A strap around my head kept it there.
Then they left, silently. They had never said a single word. I was not worthy of words.
I pissed on the floor. It was the only act of defiance I had. I resolved that I would not cry, no matter what.
Time passed. While the room and furniture were white, the straps and buckles and various devices on the wall were not, so the effect was not as disorienting as the other room had been. But the effect was to focus my attention on the paddles, whips, little torments, bottles of oils and electric cables in the room.
Time passed. A slave girl came in with a mop and cleaned up my mess, and left wordlessly.
"Foolish child," said a voice. It was familiar, but it took me time to place it. There had been a guard with me at one point, the one Enjine had teased...
I raised my head and looked at him. He was dressed all in black, and wore black gloves. One of the legends about Tormenters had mentioned the black gloves.
"Listen carefully," he said, lifting my head further by my hair, so he could look into my eyes. "There's a game called good guard, bad guard. We don't play it here. All of us are bad."
He took a needle out of his pocket, carefully measured out a dose from a vial, and injected my arm.
"The Prince needs your obedience driven into place permanently. When I'm done it will not matter what you want or believe; you will always please the Prince. His anger will be the worst thing in the world; his pleasure, the most important. I'm not interested in changing anything else about you. The rest of you doesn't matter.
"The injection will take hold in a few more minutes. By the way, this is not a torture session. You may experience some unpleasantness, but only when you resist. Put differently, this will be as miserable as you choose to make it."
He began to stick things to my skin. Things with wires.
"These electrodes administer shocks, but nothing agonizing. Nothing like before. Some of them just make your muscles contract. And, Alani, please. There's no point in hiding your fear. Some of these sensors monitor fear and arousal... there are no secrets in this room. You can pretend to be stoic, but that just makes the technique work faster."
Would it? I wondered. Or was that just a lie to trick me into letting my emotions run wild? Was it the truth, a trick, a trick within a trick? I realized I couldn't know, and that it didn't matter.
He affixed something between my legs. That would be a little torment, a vibrator. He gently slid something oiled and slippery into me. More straps. And then goggles were put over my eyes. They lit, showing me only bright whiteness.
"Those goggles know when you close your eyes. More than a blink will cause a burst of pain; it's a very unusual and frightening sensation. Test it if you want, but you'll learn to keep your eyes open very quickly."
I felt a stirring, a shivering... not arousal, not coldness. A restlessness. My fingers began to twitch. I tried to still them, and it worked for a time, but then the little spasmodic movements began again.
"The stimulant is working. I'll be back later to check on you."
I knew how this worked. The lack of sensory stimulation brought on the visions, and the silent, unanswerable fear of permanent madness. Knowing how it worked didn't help me fight it; if anything the fear kicked in faster.
I could still taste chocolate. It was a rich and lingering and complex taste, with a tiny bit of orange in it. It wasn't fading; my limited sight was again making my other senses stronger. Enjine, I decided, was complex even for a woman, a strange mixture of sweetness and obsession and cleverness. Was she truly happy here?
I was starting to shake now; the stimulant had me so restless that I could not lie still. My skin began to tingle and my mind began to race, memories flitting by, more and more quickly...
Suddenly the vibrator started, and I jerked my hips upward and away from it, and then realized that made my pose even more inviting to anyone who came in behind me. And the movement did no good; the device followed me upwards, and now I was trapped in this pose, unable to escape the vibrations-
Enjine licked her lips slowly, watching the video feed. She shifted restlessly in Lord Tir's lap, and blushed a little to find her own wetness making the leather beneath her slippery.
"You've never explained how you got access to this camera, my Lord," she whispered.
"You know the answer. My unknown benefactor provides the necessary keys."
"You call him unknown, but I think you know who it is..."
"I don't. And if I did I wouldn't tell you. But I don't know."
"One of the younger princes?"
"I don't know."
Alani's soft moan drifted from the video image. Enjine pressed herself downward, tighter against his leathers, and licked her lips again, faster.
"My Lord will perhaps forgive any unseemly behavior on the part of his enslaved slut," she whispered.
His hand drifted over her bare belly. He chuckled. "You exist to be unseemly, slave." His hand drifted lower, settling and stroking lightly, less than a centimeter from where she suddenly needed it to be.
"I do. The Prince's lessons were not all in vain. Look at her, writhing, fighting not to feel, not to imagine... you understand, I believe, than when a woman's sexual awakening is... sudden and unexpected, sometimes the obsession takes hold deeply. She has no idea how to fight this; look at the way her legs tense, I'd like to lick very slowly along one right now, no woman in her state can resist a tongue ..."
Suddenly she was thrown to the floor, and she found his hand gripping her hair and forcing her to look up. "You aren't here to admire her torment. I know it arouses you; I can smell it. But you're here because you've been through something like this and you can explain to me what this does to her. Return to my lap when you can focus."
Enjine nodded after a moment, and flowed herself into his lap again. "It is difficult, Lord. The Prince treats me as a child -- a smart child, but a child -- and a fuck toy. He does not see my other gifts, and that you do, sometimes confuses me."
"Little confuses you, Enjine. But to my question?"
"I don't remember this part of my conditioning. There are... half-memories, hints and glimpses of things. Some are terrifying. But from those half memories, and things the Prince has mentioned... she's being shown images, and they flit by too quickly to take in, so she can't form a conscious reaction to them, but the mind still reacts, deep down... that, and the little torment, will continue until she's incoherent with lust. And then the real conditioning begins. She's shown images, and those wires measure whether she responds with pleasure or revulsion. And then she's given punishment or pleasure, according to whether her response was 'right'. Both the punishments and pleasures are tiny, little shocks or little sexual stimulations, but it's all so fast -- several images a second. The brain learns quickly, and the artificial intelligence that does all this is infallibly accurate. Her responses will shift and twist and conform. This goes on for hours, and when she's conformant enough, the Prince will probably enter and give her more obvious rewards with his hands and his cock... women are wired, Lord, to trust and obey men who have a deep effect on us sexually. It is the worst thing in the world, because the men who give the best orgasms are so often the least trustworthy... present company excepted, of course, Lord..."
"Or not," Lord Tir said, chuckling softly. "And then?"
"I don't think there's much of anything else. As the Prince plays with her body, she'll be forced to experience pleasure and need she can't possibly fight. When he takes her, the orgasm will be impossibly strong and last for many minutes; the intelligence running her knows how to make that happen. When she's literally exhausted and passes out, the hypnosis is applied so she doesn't consciously remember much, and she'll wake up in his lap, sated, sullied, sore, with trained and ingrained feelings of awe and affection for him. I remember that part. All I can tell you is that before she was taken I did something for her that may help her a little. Never mind what. But even so I don't hold out much hope. It does something to a woman to feel so utterly ravished, and wake to find herself snuggled against her ravisher. The Price is fond of saying everyone is clay. How true it is, I don't know; but a woman will follow her emotions; subvert the emotions and you subvert the woman."