ancient

I tell him,



You will refer to me as My Lady. You will keep your eyes down unless I tell you to look at me. You will remember at all times that I will do exactly as I like with you.



I tell him, you are in a unique position. I will tell you this once, and you may choose to understand it if you wish. You have been given as a gift to me, to seal an alliance with another warrior queen, who believed that you would please me so much that we could seal the truce between us. You were exchanged at great price and your ability and willingness to please me will determine a great deal about the outcome of this alliance. The fate of two nations rests on you.



Yet your task is not a complex one, not like the tasks of the queens you serve and obey. She and I spend our days dealing with a multitude of problems, and the fates of thousands of people rest upon our decisions. She and I face a different challenge with every dawn. Your life, your task, is far simpler. it is a singular focus. It is to please me, to be the perfect diversion for me, the perfect reward for my days spent doing what I do.



I am neither cruel nor inhuman. My wish is not for embittered slaves who serve me reluctantly, but for servants who take joy in their participation, knowing that I am fair and human, knowing that I am capable of affection and generosity. It is my wish that you come to take great joy in your service to me, that your pleasure be genuine and your trust in me complete.



But I will have obedience, regardless of your motives. Never doubt that. Willingly or not, joyfully or not, it is your choice. You will serve my pleasure, my whim and my desires, regardless. In time I may come to treasure and value you, and perhaps you will earn my tolerance and flexibility. But at this moment you have only one choice: to do as I say, to the utmost of your ability, without hesitation.



I sit back, take a good long look at him, kneeling before me, head down. Excellent shoulders, and from the looks of it a good strong frame. He will be quite strong enough to handle my desires. My rival and ally knows more of my tastes than I suspected. I wonder which servant has been passing along information about my peculiarities and preferences. Must look into that. Either death or a rich reward awaits that servant, whoever it is. We’ll see.



You’re from the north, they tell me. light hair, light eyes. I hear your people are strong and stubborn. They told me your name. I found it unpronounceable. Do you like your name?



No My Lady, he says. I hate it.



That takes me by surprise. And do you miss your home? I ask.



No, My Lady, he says. I ran away.



Well now, I say. Perhaps the gods have brought you here for your own happiness. We’ll see. In the meantime, I must call you something. You have a certain spirit, and you are quite pleasing to the eye. I shall call you Khu for your spirit and Neferu for your beauty. It is a greatly fortunate name I have given you.



I am grateful, my lady, he says.



I don’t believe I gave you permission to speak. But you please me, and you will learn. In this case I will allow it. You may always thank me for my gifts to you.



He bows more deeply, straightens his spine, shoulders back. A perfect slave’s pose. I’m more pleased than I dare let on. Mustn’t let him have his head too soon. Nehebka, bitch that she is, has given me quite the gift.



Stand up and turn around, I say. Let me look at you. He presents himself modestly, his eyes down. He turns slowly. I can see him suppressing his trembling. Good. His anticipation and fear will be easily sculpted into desire. They have decorated him nicely for me too — a fine new tunic and silk breeches, in soft colors that enhance his fairness. He wears thick bronze armbands and the heavy chain of a slave around his broad neck.



Undress, I say. I wish to see you unclothed.



Now he cannot suppress his trembling. He pulls the tunic off, slowly, and unties the laces on his breeches, letting them fall. Then he stands, well-trained this one, hands clasped behind him, eyes lowered. I can feel his stare on my feet. He is dying to look at me. His phallus is well-shaped and well-sized. This one will be delicious, I can tell already.



Another important test. You may look at me now, for a moment, I say. You have my permission. I settle back to enjoy his gaze and watch his responses. They are gratifying. His eyes travel along my body, up leg and hip and waist, lingering on my breasts that move behind thin white linen. It is good to feel desirable, after all day hiding my desires under armor, leather, powerplays and fierce negotiations. And yes. His phallus rises at the sight of me, as I hoped it would. He notices, and lowers his gaze, embarassed. He wants very badly to move his hands, to cover himself. But he controls this instinct, keeping his hands behind him as he has been taught. Excellent. He is indeed as well-trained in the basics as Nehebka’s minion described. But he has never been a bedroom slave. He will be a fascinating toy.



It is time to test the stamina and nature of this toy. To see if simple obedience can be sculpted into singular devotion. Go to that wall, I say, pointing. Take hold of the two thick ropes you see there. Wrap them round your wrists so that you can grip them tightly. I shall manacle you if I see fit to, but for now I will simply command you to hold the ropes yourself, and not let go. Grave punishment awaits if you release your grip.



He lowers his eyes and moves to the wall, spreading his arms and gripping the ropes, one on each side, his back to me. His breathing is ragged and his skin is already flushed. I shall redden it far more. The ropes are beautiful wound down his thick forearms like serpents. They echo the ropes of his muscles even now straining in his shoulders and thighs.



I move toward him. I lean in and breathe into his ear. He shudders. I whisper, Your feet. Spread them far apart. He does so, stretching his arms further up and apart. Now he is almost truly suspended, arms stretched to the limit.



I take up the scourge, my favorite black oxhide, with the smooth wooden handle that fits my hand perfectly. I want him to see it, so I slide the tails over his shoulder and down onto his chest, dragging it across his nipple. He gasps and shudders again. My other hand slides down his belly and finds his cock. It leaps in my hand, going from half-erect to quite hard at my touch. I slide my hand further down, to his well-formed scrotum, which is contracted, as if he is already very aroused. And further, to see how he reacts, my hand moves between his legs, exploring his secrets, fingering that dark opening. He gasps and his cock leaps. His hands tighten on the ropes. This is better than I had dared hope. But I mustn’t show my pleasure so immediately. I back away without saying anything, and lay the scourge across his back, just so he can feel its length and weight. He is shaking, but he is breathing deeply. Training again, taking over. He’s controlling his arousal and trying to focus his attention. Excellent.



The scourge strikes him in the center of his shoulderblades. then again on each side of his torso. I work lightly at first, watching his response. He begins to relax into the sensation. I’m not even causing him pain just yet, only a this mild rhythm that brings the blood to the skin and warms him.



The buttocks, the back, the thighs. I find the rhythm of it and my mind begins to clear itself as I move, making patterns of red lashmarks on his skin. All the worries of the day, this domestic dispute and that battle negotiation, this supply question and that strategy for battle, all are fading, replaced by my even breath and the sound of the scourge against this lovely back. There is no anger in the strokes; quite the contrary, with each movement I clear my heart to deep affection, to pleasure, I focus on the single beat of the lash, the sound of my own breathing and his, the way his body tenses and releases with each strike. Nothing else exists. It seems like pure love that I lay across his pale skin, love and desire surging deep into his flesh with every stroke. I will make you love me, I think. I will burn desire and affection into your very soul. You will want nothing beyond what I desire, and you will be richly rewarded.



I let the scourge trail off and move forward to stroke his cock again. It is half-hard; he is deep in that trance that comes from the rhythm and the movement of blood, but as soon as I touch him he shudders as if awakening, and his breath quickens.



I can tell he is dying to speak, gritting his teeth to keep himself silent. You may speak, I say to him as I fondle his thick phallus. Gods, he says. goddess, mistress, my lady, I’d do anything, anything… he’s babbling, breathing hard between words.



Anything to convince me to stop? I say.



No, he gasps, and catches himself. No, My Lady. No. I beg you, I beg you to continue. If it pleases you, if it delights you, I beg you, please… He stops himself. He’s trying not to speak too freely, even though he is drunk with sensation and barely able to think. He’s very strong, this one. Anything, my Lady. Anything you ask of me.



I smile, then, allow myself true pleasure in this acquisition. He’s quite perfect.



You please me, delicious Khu-Neferu, lovely Khu. I shall indeed continue. You relieve my mind of its burdens. Your surrender pleases me greatly.



I step back and lay into the scourge, harder and more thoroughly this time. His skin is reddening nicely. He seems to leap and shudder the most when it strikes his buttocks, or the back of his thighs. A bit faster, and more force. I allow myself to release my annoyance at the day, to send it into the beat of the scourge against the skin. He can encompass it; he’s strong enough to take that on for me. Each little incident fades in the smooth strokes. A diplomatic tangle. Slap, and it’s gone. The revelation of a spy among the servants. Another bright thwack, and it seems utterly unimportant. Soldiers and horses, food and fire, all disappear under the hot swing of the scourge, the satisfying sound of it striking his skin. He is moaning now, but not in pain. He is deep in trance, beyond arousal, into that world I envy, the world of pure sensation without thought or worry. I let it all go, bringing the scourge round over and over until I forget everything, my name, my position, my duties. Only this hot skin, this repetition of a dance. He is moaning, crying out, infused with trance and pleasure and heat. He is in strange territory, overwhelmed. I pause, and then take the scourge up to a peak, harder than ever. Slow, incredibly powerful, so that his whole body leaps in his bonds, his knuckles white on the ropes.



Then I stop for a moment and go to him. He is breathing deeply, eyes closed, deep in a trance. I run my hand gently up his spine and he shudders. I whisper into his ear, What’s your name? My Lady Basti, he says. Khu-Neferu. Yours. Yours my lady, your Khu. My name is yours.



Oh my lovely one yes, I say. Perfect. You please me greatly. He is very nearly weeping, gasping with sensation and desire and purely focused on his joy at my approval. He’s trembling and I need to let him rest for a moment.



Let go of the ropes now, I say. You may kneel and rest. He slides down the wall, shaking, breathing hard.



I would like to soothe him myself; sometime soon when I have established my dominance more firmly I will be able to indulge him this way, but right now it is too soon to coddle him, much as I would like to. I pull the rope to summon the two little wide-eyed slaves I keep near the door at night. They have seen a great deal, and I trust them implicitly. As deafmutes, they had been doomed to a life of begging until I took them in and taught them how to serve me. To them I am a goddess and they would die for me, unhesitatingly. And I would most certainly kill for them.



Ask and Embla enter, and bow. They spot Khu and need no instructions. I gesture, and they help him to his feet and walk him to the cushions. Embla pets him and rubs salve into his back, not for the injuries which are minimal, but because he deserves this sweetness and indulgence after the scourging. Ask brings water, a bit of cheese and bread, and Khu eats and drinks, coming back into his body. His eyes are filled with wonder and worship as they come back into focus, as he becomes aware of the ministrations, and of my gaze from across the room on my couch. He barely notices Ask and Embla; he can’t take his eyes off me now that they’ve found me.



Soon the little slaves fade quietly away, seeing my nod and my smile, and smiling themselves, move back to wait outside the door. They watch, wakeful, all night every night, for my call. In return, they are my most pampered pets, sleeping in my bed through the day while I am away, coddled in every respect.



And I turn my attention to Khu, now recovered, kneeling on the cushions, watching me with adoration from underneath his lowered gaze. Hoping I won’t catch him looking directly at me.



but I can find no other fault with him at this moment and I must have some excuse to be stern. It is almost impossible to disguise my hunger to experience his body’s ranges. I rise and walk slowly toward him. You’re looking at me, aren’t you?



Yes, My lady, I cannot lie. I was. Please forgive me.



I shall, perhaps, if you continue to please me. I am certainly not finished with you tonight. His shudder is gratifying — he is more excited than frightened, but it is true he does not know me, and has only heard rumors, perhaps, and exaggerated ones no doubt.



What were you taught about how to beg for forgiveness? I say. Show me what they told you.



They did train him properly, after all. he remembers, and immediately comes forward off the cushions, crawling toward me and then lowering his forehead to the floor, reaching out his right hand to touch the tip of my boot.



I beg, you, My Lady Basti, for mercy. My transgression was inexcusable, but I beseech you for forgiveness. Your every desire is my own. I am nothing unless I please you.



He sounds genuinely frightened, but truly sincere. I wonder what he’s heard about me.



The Blood Princess, that’s what they used to call me. I heard it whispered, and once or twice I managed to beat it out of a new bedroom slave, that nickname that I honestly didn’t mind and certainly, at least when I was younger, rather deserved.



Niankhaset, my old unflappable tutor who taught me more than anyone suspected outside the chamber where we played, would chide me when I played cruelly with one of the slaves. Basteti, my nectar, if you break the toys you won’t have them to play with any more. At 14, at 19, though, I knew I had as many toys as my heart could wish, and didn’t particularly care to see any of them more than once. So what if their scars kept them from household duty for a week or two? They would no doubt be grateful for the respite, and I knew for a fact that some of them rather overplayed their injuries, hoping to get out of the work for a few extra days. Hence my reputation, only partly deserved. I never killed, nor permanently maimed, any of them, though to hear the rumors I had tortured and dispached countless slaves over the years, especially during those years when Father was alive and I had no duties past being decorated and trotted out at every banquet, the promise of my eventual slavery as a wife being dangled in front of every visiting dignitary, fat pasty things three times my age who would leer at me over their greasy roast peacock. And Father would turn a blind eye to the ways I worked out my rage with a succession of slaves… Too soon all that luxury ended; too soon the upheaval that forced me into the real spilling of blood, not in the bedchamber but in the courtroom where my father’s assassinated body lay, still warm…



More than charm, more than language and singing had Niankhaset taught me. The ways of sword, too, and knife, the roll and thrust of spearplay, and the subtleties of herbs used to heal or kill, so that I was ready when the time came to dispatch every traitor who thought that with Father gone, their way to the throne was clear. They thought me cruel, simple, self-absorbed and easily distracted. How wrong they were. Their names have been destroyed and their bodies scattered by birds.



Perhaps the fear in this slave’s eyes is not unjustified, I thought, idly gazing down at his prostrate form, still stretched to touch the tip of my boot, still trembling in suspense.



You heard rumors of me, did you not? When they told you where you were being sent, you heard me spoken of? You heard what has happened to others who have entered this chamber?



I… I have been told of you, My Lady.



And what have you been told?



He is hesitant. He is afraid to anger me. The truth, I say. You may speak. There will be no recrimination for the truth.



They call you the Blood Princess, my Lady. They say you have killed. They say your desires are… powerful and strange.



And do you believe them?



Truly, my Lady Basti, I believe nothing I have heard of someone unless I have seen it myself.



Perhaps your people have the wisdom they are rumored to have after all. But indeed, my strong little pet, my desires are quite powerful. If they are your desires too, then we shall find ourselves quite in harmony. If not, well, there is no shame in kitchen work…



His face is still to the floor, his hand still on my boot, but he tenses visibly. No, my Lady, I beg of you. Test me, try me, but do not send me away. I fear no work however lowly or difficult, but I would do anything for the privilege of your presence. I am yours, and my skills, my body and mind, are yours to command. Please, My Lady, I beg with all my soul, let me stay.



Your people are also as silver-tongued as they say. I shall not dismiss you yet. I believe you may be a most pleasant diversion.



I leave him there, prostrate on the floor, for the moment. It is convenient for the things I wish to find out about him next.

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