The Courier Ch. 24bycaligula97236©
Chapter 24 -- Anyia's Journey
Upon arriving at the first church along the route Anyia had to walk over the next three days, the Clergy allowed her to rest, eat, and relieve herself. Then they led her to a stone platform that had chains with cuffs suspended over it. They placed her wrists in the cuffs and immobilized her with her hands over her head. Anyia started to cry, because she thought she was about to be whipped. However, the Clergy members only wanted to bathe her. They covered her in soap and then rinsed her off with very cold water. The Priestess then unbraided Anyia's hair and shampooed it. The Clergywoman ran a comb through the younger woman's hair and announced that it would remain unbraided.
"If you can demonstrate to me that you understand the meaning of your experience over the next three days, I will re-braid your hair before you assume the collar. You need to prove yourself, however. To have your hair braided will be a privilege to be earned, not a right to expect. Do you understand me, Anyia Dukov?"
The Priests splashed her with several buckets of frigid water and then left her to shiver until the cool morning breeze had completely dried her. During her three-day walk she would be bathed in the same manner at sunrise and sunset. She was not allowed to touch her own body so she could not bathe herself. She could not dry herself with her own hands; she had to wait for the Creator to dry her body with the wind. The frigid water and being left to shiver was to remind her how exposed she was; her bare body presented to the mercy of the elements of the Realm of the Living.
Once she was completely dry, the Clergy members unchained Anyia and led her into the church. She knelt in the proper position of Penance, with her hands placed on the ground in front of her, her head touching the floor, her knees spread and her back properly arched. She was the Grand Duchess, but like any criminal or servant, she could feel the cool air blowing against her exposed vulva and sphincter. Her bottom still had some belt-marks remaining from the punishment her mother had given her the day before and five sets of welts crossed her thighs. She was humbled, with nothing to set her apart from anyone else who was beginning Public Penance. Her hair fell dishonorably around her face, but she was grateful for that. Her eyes were covered and her view of the world concealed.
The Priestess prayed, first in silence and then with a prayer in Archaic Danubian. She ordered Anyia to kneel upright and conversed with her, asking her about some of the mundane details of her life before she became Grand Duchess. The questions may have seemed trivial, but the Priestess was determined to completely understand the young woman in front of her, and often one can gain more insight from a trivial interest than from a major event. The conversation drifted to a friend that Anyia had in high school, an American exchange student called Jennifer Thompson. As she talked, Anyia was able to forget about the present and go back in time about five years in her life.
Jennifer was a year older than Anyia. Her school year abroad started very badly; within a month she had earned the enmity of the school's teachers by behaving like she would in the US, doing things such as skipping classes and smoking in public. About six weeks after classes started, Jennifer was caught smoking in a park and brought by the police to her school. The director was furious with both her and her counselor and ordered the girl to be switched in the gymnasium in front of 400 classmates. She was stripped, ordered to lie over a chair, and given the maximum punishment a student could receive, which was 25 strokes.
Jennifer's behavior calmed down after she was switched, but she always fascinated Anyia. The most important detail was her bright red hair. Anyia had never seen a girl with red hair before...not only red on her head but also thick red curls covering her vagina. The American's hair obsessed Anyia during the entire year they were together in school. Jennifer was a senior, so when her class graduated she had to have her hair braided for the final ceremony. Anyia was the one who braided Jennifer's hair and was elated to finally have the chance to touch it, comb it, and shampoo it. However, Anyia admitted that what she really wanted to do was to run her fingers through the thick red curls covering her friend's vulva. She felt horribly ashamed of her thoughts because of the taboo Danubians had about people of the same sex touching each other.
Jennifer spent a second year in Danubia attending classes at the National University before she returned to the United States. That was the year Vladim Dukov campaigned to become Prime Minister and Anyia's romantic attentions became focused on the sons of her father's political associates. Jennifer pursued her collage classes while Anyia finished high school, so the two friends saw very little of each other. Although they now were separated, Anyia continued to think about Jennifer and longed to be with her and see her naked. However, during the few times they saw each other the two young women had no reason to take off their clothing and Anyia never saw Jennifer in the nude after graduation.
Anyia admitted that watching Jennifer's punishment always fascinated her. She remembered the entire incident in loving detail: Jennifer's terrified teary face, her lovely body, the cruel red switch marks on her white skin, and the girl's screams...yes, Anyia remembered all of it. She wished she could have been Counselor Tolkiv, the prim imposing teacher who struck Jennifer and admonished her. Anyia spent endless hours masturbating over the incident and over the memory of Jennifer's punished bottom. Each time she was about to climax, she imagined herself whipping Jennifer.
The Priestess thought about Anyia's confession. Could it be that Jennifer's switching was an important event in Anyia's life, a single incident that fired up her imagination? That would make sense, because Anyia was fascinated with collecting foreigners, pushing them into servitude, and physically punishing them...Could it be that her real desire dated back to her unfulfilled fantasy of touching and punishing her American classmate?
A few minutes later the Priestess ordered the Grand Duchess to lie on a mat that had been placed on the floor of the church. The Clergy member stripped off her dress, hung it on a hook on the wall, and lay on a mat next to Anyia. Two Priests entered the room and also stripped off their robes. They set their mats a few meters away from the women and promptly fell asleep.
Anyia was exhausted but could not fall asleep for several minutes. She studied the mosaic on the church ceiling, which she guessed must have been completed in the late 1700's, judging by its style. The topic of the artwork was a common religious theme popular at the time; a griffin battling a ball of fire in a darkened sky. Surrounding the main battle were black-robed winged figures that were immensely old. The figures were praying and looking at the battle with concern. The image was a representation of the time-old fight between the Creator and the Destroyer, with the Ancients offering up their prayers to help the Creator win. For several centuries Danubian artists had used mythical animals to represent the Creator in such works of art, although that practice was dropped in the mid-1800s.
Anyia's thoughts returned to school and specifically to her friend Jennifer. She hadn't thought about Jennifer for a long time, because her father already was Prime Minister by the time Jennifer left Danubia. Anyia had become so different since that time in high school...or had she? Maybe she was indeed the same person, but one that had been allowed to develop her fantasies to their extreme. Not many people have the chance to do that. Everyone has fantasies, but maybe it is just as well that most people cannot realize them, because to have unlimited access to one's fantasies was to eventually to become corrupted and fall into the trap Anyia Dukov had fallen into.
For the first time in her life the young woman regretted that she had become the Grand Duchess. She wished she could have been a simpler person, leading a normal life...and not becoming the terror and the degenerate she had turned into. To be simple...like her brother, or her former housemate Kimberly Lee, or even like her father...
Her father...Anyia realized how superior her father was to her, the extent to which he was indeed a better person. Her father was Prime Minister, but the position had not corrupted him. He was still the same person he had been before he was elected. Unlike his daughter, whatever fantasies he had were left in the back of his mind. His duty as Prime Minister was to serve the nation, not to have the nation indulge him.
Anyia thought to herself: that was my duty too, but I failed. I could have done so much good with my title, and all I did was cause trouble. Now I have to start over. I've wasted so much and now I have to see how I can make up for that.
Anyia knew that she would never again wear a crown. The crown traditionally worn by Grand Duchesses was in storage and would remain there until her successor was coroneted. The one she had bought from Monaco no longer existed. Undoubtedly her father would have its jewels appraised and then exchange them for gold ingots for the National Treasury. It was equally likely he would attempt to sell off her expensive collection of clothing. Perhaps Kimberly Lee or Cecilia Sanchez would be tasked with posting the items to one of those Internet auction sites.
Anyia cringed at the thought of having her clothing and jewelry auctioned, but she knew how her father thought about such matters. He felt that it was his duty to the nation to attempt to recover as much of the money his daughter had spent as possible. There was no way he could come close to recovering the total amount she had wasted, but he would be determined to do what he could. Every time he could purchase an ingot and return it to the National Treasury was a small redemption for his own dishonor for having raised such a daughter.
As she lay on her mat staring at a mosaic on the ceiling, Anyia continued to think about her father. At first she resented him for being such a miser, for having no appreciation for the good things life had to offer. However, there was no question that if there was any man in Danubia who met the country's definition of honor, it was Vladim Dukov. Anyia realized that her father had not changed at all when he became Prime Minister. He was the same man with the same outlook on life; a firm belief that the Creator had placed him in the Realm of the Living to serve. Being a collared criminal, or a Spokesman, or Prime Minister made no difference to him. Each position for Vladim Dukov was simply a form of service to the Creator and his fellow Danubians with differing demands and expectations.
Anyia knew that her father was not a martyr. He did not make unrealistic personal sacrifices, nor did he expect anything unrealistic from others. He disapproved of the writings and beliefs of people such as St. Augustine and Gandhi because he felt their expectations of people were cruel and unreasonable. He enjoyed a good meal or a good glass of wine or a comfortable bed as much as anyone else. However, he remained a simple man with simple needs. He wanted only enough from the material world for him and his family to be healthy and comfortable. To have anything more than that made no sense to him, because to have anything more would mean it had to be denied to someone else. His reasoning was that the Creator had given him a certain level of well-being, something that everyone in Danubia deserved. To want or expect anything beyond that would be dishonorable.
Anyia was just beginning to understand why her father was so appalled by her lifestyle. His disapproval went beyond how she treated her servants or even her willingness to betray Danubia. He could not understand her insatiable quest for more...more servants...more dresses...more adoration. She was living in a nice house with a husband who loved her and was well-liked by the public: why wasn't that enough? Indeed...why wasn't that enough? That was one of the questions she would have to answer over the next several days.
Anyia's next night was not a night of reflection, but a night of discomfort. The weather had changed and there was a cold drizzle falling during the entire walk. She shivered as the cold water dripped down her bare skin and her feet sloshed through muddy puddles. The Priestess shivered as well, but suffering in such a manner was part of her profession, something to be withstood stoically.
Although Anyia was not able to think about much except being cold, wet, and muddy, the walk of the second night did help clear her mind. It is very hard to think about one's past or the deeper issues in life when one is exposed and shivering on a cold wet dark country road. When daylight came and Anyia saw the second church along her path looming in the distance, she felt deep gratitude toward the Creator for having made it through her second night of her journey. There would be just one more night, and then she would arrive at the Temple of the Ancients.
After sleeping through the morning hours, Anyia and the Priestess spent the second afternoon of her journey talking in a quiet park near a small stream. The weather was clearing, but everything was still very wet and the park was completely deserted. It was a perfect setting for a quiet conversation, even though Anyia's uncovered body was shivering in the damp air.
"You must learn to withstand the weather, Anyia Dukov. Your Path in Life is to forsake all clothing, and you must train your body to accept the consequences of your actions."
The Clergywoman spent much of the second day lecturing her ward about the futility of owning too much of the material world. She berated Anyia about the impact that her materialism had on the country and everyone surrounding her. She understood that the Grand Duchess was aware of the evil she had committed against her servants and there was no point wasting her time belaboring something she already knew. The big issue was not Anyia's cruelty, but her greed and her insatiable desire for more things and more servants. The Priestess believed that was the root of the Grand Duchess's problem... greed and an extreme feeling of entitlement.
The two women sat in silence for a while as the sky continued to clear. Finally the sun came out and heated the air. Anyia was very grateful to feel it shining on her exposed body. Abruptly the Priestess changed the subject by taking a folded newspaper article out of a folder she was carrying. It was a front-page article of that morning's paper.
"You are not the only one who must atone for your actions, Anyia Dukov."
Anyia saw a picture of her husband standing at the Prime Minister's podium in the National Parliament, with her father standing right behind him. She read the following:
Royal Grand Duke renounces the Rights and Powers of the Crown
The Royal Grand Duke of the Republic of Danubia formally introduced legislation in the National Parliament that requested the revocation of most Royal powers and privileges yesterday morning...
Anyia read several paragraphs and started crying.
"He shouldn't have had to do that, Priestess. It was my fault...I was the one who...I mean, he didn't do anything..."
"Anyia Dukov, the Creator has determined that your husband must sacrifice what is most dear to him, just as you must sacrifice."
"I...I've destroyed him...and the Royal Family...I've ruined everything..."
"I don't think that is true, Anyia Dukov. It was the proper time...that's all. The time of the Royal Family has passed, and you and your descendents must make your way in the Realm of the Living just like anyone else. The change was necessary. Necessary and predestined."
Anyia forced herself to read the rest of the article. The Priestess continued:
"You are still the Grand Duchess, and your husband is still the Grand Duke, even if your role is now only ceremonial. You still have your duties to the nation. You still have your husband and your marriage, and eventually you will have your children. You do have a Path in Life, Anyia Dukov."
"Yes, Priestess...I suppose that's true. But I can't see how my husband is going to forgive me for what I did to him."
"Both of you will have to come to terms with what has happened. It won't be as hard as you think, Anyia Dukov."
When the sun set that evening, Anyia had to endure another frigid bath before the prayers that would precede the final part of her journey. The Priestess had one surprise for the Grand Duchess: she told Anyia that she needed to have her hair properly braided before leaving the Church. Anyia was elated at having that part of her life return to normal. It was something small, and yet for her very significant, because she understood that she had already passed through the worst part of her personal abyss.
The final part of Anyia's journey took her through Danube City. The two women entered the outskirts around 9:00 pm, just as most people were settling down in their houses. For several hours Anyia and the Priestess walked through the deserted streets of the city's suburbs. They emerged into the historical business district and approached the Old City Wall. Their trip led them right though the city's main plaza and past the National Parliament Building. By the time they approached the Temple of the Ancients, the sky was starting to lighten in the east.
Anyia was expecting to be collared in an elaborate ceremony, probably with Grand Prophet # 4 present along other members of the Church hierarchy. After-all, this was a momentous moment in the career of the Priestess and the history of the Danubian Church, the collaring of the nation's Grand Duchess.
The Priestess knew her ward well-enough to understand that she expected her to make a big deal out of her collaring. It was precisely because of that anticipation that she decided that Anyia's collaring would be very simple. Upon arriving at the Temple, the Priestess led the Grand Duchess to the back of the building, to the spot where the fire-pit was located. She ordered the young woman to stand still while she put her hands around her throat to measure her neck size. She wrote the measurement on a small piece of paper and handed it to a Temple attendant.
Anyia looked around, finding it hard to believe that no one else was present. She was deeply disappointed.
"Anyia Dukov, wearing the collar is an agreement between you and the Creator. In the presence of the Creator you are not any more significant than anyone else."
Anyia struggled to answer: "Yes, Priestess."
The attendant returned with a Temple collar. The Priestess placed the collar in Anyia's hands and told her to kneel.
"Take a look at this collar, Anyia Dukov. Tell me what you notice about it. Is it any different than a collar that we normally issue?"
Anyia turned the collar over in her hands. It had the typical smooth appearance of a collar issued by the Temple. At first she thought it was just an ordinary collar, but then she noticed that...there was no hole for a key. Her heart skipped a beat, because she realized there was no way to unlock the collar once it was on her neck.
"I...there's no keyhole, Priestess."
"That is correct, Anyia Dukov. This is a permanent collar. It will remain with you for the rest of your natural life. Once it is on your neck, you will never take it off."
Anyia started trembling.