I had a vague memory of falling unconscious, then nothing. When I came back to my senses I was no longer in the pantry, though my head hurt like hell. I opened my eyes. Before me I saw a richly furnished audience chamber. Dozens of figurines and statues, many in unabashedly erotic poses, stood sentry at the walls--marble and onyx, crystal, jade, glass--and near the ceiling more figures served as light sconces, crouching with their knees drawn up, hands holding bowls of burning oil. Even the furnishings were variations on the human form: interlocked bodies that formed tables and chairs, some having sex, some merely clinging to each other. The total effect was one of entrapment, as if the swooning nudes had been imprisoned against their will.
I looked down. I was strapped in a leather slave harness, my arms bound behind me, my legs spread wide with a bar at my ankles. Tight silver clamps pinched my nipples and clit. A stout phallus had been wedged into my sex, and my anus was pursed around another. Both were buckled tightly to a belt at my hips.
Even worse, not a trace of hair remained on my body. My head was as smooth and bald as an egg; even my eyebrows and eyelashes were gone. That only spelled one thing. Shezrine.
I had been captured by the Queen.
The curtain before me suddenly whipped up. The back of a silver-gilt throne faced me, and over the top I saw the back of Shezrine's silver-gilt scalp. Her long, slim calves poked out from between the throne's legs. With a languid motion of her foot she spun the chair around to face me. She gave me a cold, inscrutable stare. She did not gloat, nor did she smile with satisfaction. Instead her dark eyes raked me as if to say, *I have you, and can do anything I like to you.*
And I knew it too...oh gods, I did. I was determined not to flinch or cower, but the power of that stare, and my own helpessness, instigated a trembling that started deep in my body, making my muscles contract against my will, sending involuntary waves of pleasure spasming through my sex. I was thankful in a way I was bound as I was; the sheer rigidity of my position guaranteed the imperceptible shuddering would not show, for all the chaos it created on my insides.
"The Duke betrayed you, you know," Shezrine said. "He wanted his borzium mines more than he wanted the regard of the rebels." She laughed, a rich sound of amusement like the low notes of a cello. "You are my captive now, and in my power. How does it feel, Amazon?"
I wondered if she really expected me to give an answer to that. Tears stung my eyes as I thought of my hair. Flesh may heal, verbal abuse be forgotten, but hair takes forever to grow back. I steeled myself for death, torture, or whatever bizarre transformation her magic afforded. "I would rather be free, your Majesty," I said, which was the truth. It was also utterly meaningless, as at any moment I could die.
Shezrine laughed softly. She was even more undressed than when I had seen her the first time, wearing nothing but her belt of crystals, a pair of high silver boots, and her nipple rings. "Ah, but you are not. You are mine and mine by right, as a conspirator against the Throne. As for your friends, I'll deal with them after your fate is decided. But first, you."
She snapped her fingers. An unseen forced lifted me in the air and placed me on my feet. A latch in the floor locked onto the wide bar that spread my ankles apart, keeping me there.
"Ordinarily, I would not have thought of you as an annoyance," she said. "To be frank, I thought you only an intriguing curiosity when you came to my kingdom, and I wondered how it would feel to have you in my bed." She rose from her throne, the crystals of her belt chinking softly together. As before, I found her repulsive but fascinating. "Indeed, I am very pleased you have fallen to me in this fashion. You are such a rare delicacy. Strong willed, but with one weakness: your attraction to bondage."
I gasped as she pulled on a nipple clamp, whimpered when her manicured fingers, each tipped with a long talon of platinum, found the tiny clamp on my clit. The three clamps were connected by chains, so motion from one traveled to the others. She pulled on my clit quite painfully and I stifled a sob, a ragged sound I kept behind my lips. I was damned now, no matter what I said next. "As you are, your Majesty."
My revelation made Shezrine stiffen like a doll. She grasped my nipples and pulled them away from my body so I had to quickly muffle a scream of pain. "You are more dangerous than I thought," she said.
She let go and I felt my breasts bounce back against my ribcage, the rebound pinching my clit. I was sorry I had spoken. She might torture me now in any way she chose.
But she did not.
"The strong are always attracted to weakness," she said, sounding almost philosophical, if she wanted to absolve her own attraction. "Whether the attraction is to master the weak, or become one of the weak from a position of strength, is no matter. I do not know how you heard of my secret games, but you will never tell another."
She touched the toe of her silver boot to a tile in the mosaic at her feet, which depressed. I heard a clicking noise such as the one a portcullis makes. My arms were being pulled up behind me on a chain so I was forced to bend over. My legs were still spread by the bar at my ankles, so my torso leveled off parallel to the floor. I felt even more helpless, a rush of adrenaline that was part danger, part sexual.
Shezrine reached beneath me and plucked the long chains that connected my clamps. "As I said, I have a special way of handling rebels. Common criminals in this city become slaves of the coursest sort: mine workers, streetsweepers, and the like, though if they are comely they may wind up working in the public concupisceriums. Enemies of the throne are no different. They become slaves as well. The difference is I train them myself. It gives me even more pleasure when the guilty ones are members of my own court, so they may serve as a warning to others. I delight in their humiliation when they become what they detest. All nobles detest slaves, you know, even as they use them...they scorn their helplessness, their abjectiveness, their lack of self-control."
She continued to play me like a stringed instrument. Zings of mingled pain/pleasure shot through my engorged organs.
"However, I can only give personal attention to so many. Do you see the sculptures that line this chamber, the lamp sconces on the walls, my couches and divans and tables? They were all captives like you once, until I ensorceled them. My father taught me the spells to transform flesh and blood into other substances that are more useful and decorative. Once my enemies, they now serve me in other ways."
She laughed, running her talons over my belly. I felt my abdominal muscles jerk involuntary, but I could not escape. I knew the secret of her statues and bric-a-brac.
"And you intend to do that to me," I said evenly, having to know for sure what my fate was.
"Perhaps. I have other things in mind for you at this time, however, than for you to join my collection." She walked around to my rear. I gasped as she pulled my buttocks apart, exposing the anal plug which corked me. She toyed with the rim of it, making it move inside me. My body betrayed me with its trembling, and the rigidity of my bondage only made it worse...bringing to mind the shameful pleasure I had experienced too well in the Duke's bed.
"You like that, that don't?" Shezrine said amusedly as her finger probed and pressed. I was to find out later she took a special delight in anal play. "Ah, I think I will play with my lovely mahogany doll some more, being as you enjoy it so much."
The fingers of her other hand squirmed into my sex as the plug ground in and out. Blood rushed to my face as I realizing I could be toyed with in so degrading a manner. I wanted to sob at the utter humiliation, but the growing fires would not be banked.
But before I could come the sensations stopped, leaving my nerve endings smoldering damply. My whole body tingled madly with a tension which would find no release. I sobbed out loud, realizing what the White Queen had made me experience in this utterly degrading manner.
"I was correct," Shezrine said with satisfaction. "You have the makings of a wonderful slave in you. I could tell even when you came to the palace the first time. Your fascinated horror at my captives, as if you wished to either free them or join them. There was disgust on your face, yet a yearning, too. I could see it even across the courtyard." Her hands caressed my face. "You have the potential to be a very special slave to me. Do you know what a Rurani Eschai is?"
I shook my head no.
"It's the highest position there is for a slave, and the lowest: the highest because you serve me alone and are exalted before all others, the lowest because every aspect of your individuality is obliterated, even your memory. You will be a blank slate for pleasure, and I will take great pleasure in training you." She stroked my cheek as one would a favorite pet. "You would be a most finely fashioned toy for my private games."
I shuddered at her touch. "If I am to be this Rurani Eschi, this paragon of selfless servitude, I would rather have the transformation over with, Your Majesty, so I can become used to the duties of my new position."
Shezrine chuckled at my sarcasm. "I don't know. You have the potential, true. I shall ask you an honest question. Do you want to be, or would you rather I release you and sent you from the city? What would you say if I gave you that choice?'
She was playing with me, the same way she played with the sexual parts of my body. I did not wish to be her mindless slave, of course, but I also knew that the rest of the rebels might suffer the same fate. Yet I could only answer honestly. "I would rather go free, your Majesty."
"Fair enough," Shezrine said, with a winsome tilt of her head. A smile crinkled her lips. "Exactly what I expected you to say. What if you could have your release with no exile, and guaranteed the safety of your friends?"
"You are playing games, your Majesty," I said.
"I speak truthfully," she said. "I will set to you a certain test. If you pass, I will let you walk free from the palace, to warn the rebels or rally them, and what you do next is up to you. If you do not, you will become mine, and be branded my slave in a ceremony tonight. "
"I agree to the test." Whatever it was, I thought, surely the risk involved was worth escaping her idea of slavehood.
She unharnessed me and redid my configuration, locking my wrists to the center of my ankle bar so I was bent over double. She fastened something else to the bar, a chain that had suddenly dropped from the ceiling.
Before I could speculate on its purpose the new chain jerked me into the air so I hung about five feet off the floor, gently swinging on my back. My legs were spread shamefully wide by the bar, my wrists fastened to the middle of it. A more helpless and exposed position couldn't be imagined. Any could come up to me and bend slightly for a splendid view of my exposed sex.
Shezrine laughed at my humiliation and strolled back to her throne. "As I mentioned, your test." She sat on the velvet cushion and clapped her hands three times.
On to Chapter 20
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