For several minutes, Jewel lay without moving on the bed where her Master had left her, running her fingers lazily along the silver collar and chains. It was surreal, feeling such a thing upon her; the quintessential symbol of captivity, of a life that was no longer her own. Yet she found that in some way, some deep and secret way that whispered from within her soul, she found it almost natural. Because He stirs that feeling, she thought. It's Him that makes me feel so... so... she struggled for the word. So “owned.” Her legs squirmed at the thought, at so much meaning poured into a single word. At length, she heard the heavy wooden door to the bedchamber creak open and saw the red-haired servant girl enter. Once inside, the girl rested her hands haughtily on her hips and shot Jewel a stern gaze. “Get up,” she snapped, “and get dressed. Do you think you've been brought here to lie around all day?”
Jewel did not answer. She rose from the bed, forcing herself not to be self-conscious about once again being seen completely bare by this woman, and began donning the harem-silk that still lay folded on the velvet pillow beside the bed. It was no easy task fastening the flimsy strings that held the scant garment in place and once it was on, Jewel felt her face growing hot as she realized just how little the transparent fabric truly covered, but she finally managed to more-or-less put on the silk. Once she was as close to “dressed” as she felt she could be, she stood and faced the red-haired girl, who spoke again.
“I'm Scarlet,” the red-haired girl spoke in an imperious tone. “The first-girl of our Master's harem, the one most favored by the Master. You are here because our Master, Arturis, Prince of the Gaels, has chosen you to be one of his women.” There was a heavy pause before she went on, “one of his women, one of many, and you would do well to remember that and not think too highly of yourself.” Scarlet's eyes traced Jewel's body up and down once before she went on with a disdainful sneer. “Our Master has a garden of beauties at his disposal and from the look of you, you're barely even in bloom yet.”
Jewel wrinkled her eyebrows in confusion. “I beg your pardon?”
Scarlet huffed at the interruption. “I mean you're barely even a woman yet, little girl.”
“I am no 'little girl,' “ Jewel responded angrily. “I'm nearly thirty years old!”
Scarlet smirked. “Ah. Well, it was an easy misjudgement to make, given the size of your breasts.”
Jewel fought back a response, and simply bowed her head. “Yes, Elder.“
Scarlet crossed the distance between her and Jewel in a few steps and struck her so hard on the face that Jewel nearly fell back onto the bed. “What did you call me?!”
Jewel started to answer, but another slap to the face silenced her. “I'm not any older than you! Younger in fact, if you're as old as you say.”
Jewel bowed her head meekly. “Forgive me, first-girl,” she said, emphasizing the title Scarlet had used earlier. “It was an easy misjudgement to make, given the wrinkles under your eyes.” Jewel felt certain Scarlet would strike her again and she prepared herself for another blow, but it never came. Instead, Scarlet gave Jewel a wicked smile, which was unable to disguise a cold fury in her eyes, eyes which, Jewel noticed with a pang of insecurity, were the deep and intoxicating shade of blue that men dreamed of.
“You will have occasion to remember you said that, little tart,” Scarlet's threat was delivered in a silken voice that would have sounded affectionate (or even lustful) to someone who did not understand her words. Her hand shot out, making Jewel flinch from what she felt would be another slap. Instead, Scarlet slipped a single finger under the collar around Jewel's neck and pulled Jewel's face close to her own. Jewel felt Scarlet's other hand on her hip before it slid slowly around to the front of her leg, and then to her inner thigh. Jewel trembled and let out a whimper of objection as Scarlet clasped her inner thigh once and slid her fingers up to the still-wet cleft where her legs met. “For now, it's time to begin your training, little tart,” Scarlet whispered into Jewel's face as her fingers slid between Jewel's lower lips.
“What-” Jewel started to protest but Scarlet silenced her with a backward tug on her collar.
“Keep your tongue still, little tart,” Scarlet whispered steamily into Jewel's ear. “I'll put it back to use soon enough.” That was when Jewel felt the cool wetness of Scarlet's tongue tracing the lobe of her ear. She shivered and tried to flinch away, but Scarlet tugged her collar again. “Don't even try it, tart,” Scarlet whispered as she pulled the front of Jewel's harem-silk to the side. “When the Master isn't using you -and He rarely will- you're mine.” Her fingers began to turn pirouettes inside Jewel's cleft.
Gods, this is wrong, Jewel thought, not for the first time since being brought to Arturis's citadel, as Scarlet lowered herself to her knees, letting her tongue wind its way to and fro along Jewel's body until her face was at the height of Jewel's hips. “No...” Jewel whispered as Scarlet's tongue teased its way inside. “No. I'm... I'm His-” Jewel's sentence was cut short by Scarlet's finger thrusting deep within her while her tongue continued its dance at the front of her cleft. As Jewel's knees began to tremble, she felt that she would shatter, exploding into yet another coital frenzy, and hated herself for the realization.
In an instant then, the moans Jewel had struggled to stifle turned into an unbridled shriek of pain. Scarlet's teeth were clamped upon her. For what seemed to Jewel as an interminable era (though it was truly only a moment), Scarlet's teeth bit down before she withdrew them.
“I don't want to leave marks that the Master would see,” she said casually, rising to her feet as Jewel's scream died down and tears began to roll down her cheeks. Jewel fixed her eyes upon Scarlet as her breath came out through clenched teeth in hisses of fury, but Scarlet gave no response. Her hand shot out with a speed that frightened Jewel and clasped around Jewel's collar again, and without another word, Scarlet turned and walked out of the bedchamber, leading Jewel by the collar with her.
Jewel kept her face pointing forward as she descended the spiral stairway from the bedchamber, but her eyes darted around. She had not seen much of this fortress the previous night, terrified as she had been as her new Master carried her over his shoulder.
“Your name?” Scarlet asked
“I'm Jewel,” Jewel answered.
Scarlet tugged on the collar, choking Jewel for a moment. “I asked for your real name, not some pet name given on a pillow.”
Jewel stiffened. “Jewel is the name my Master has given me,” she insisted. “No name I had before that matters.”
Scarlet gave a sigh that dripped with contempt. “They're always like you when he first captures them,” she sneered. “So bed-charmed, so overwhelmingly lust-struck that they think they are in love with him. I'll bet you honestly think you will make him love you too, hm?”
Jewel said nothing, but averted her eyes.
“Get over your dreams, little tart,” Scarlet mocked, giving Jewel's collar another tug. “You are a toy, you are something to amuse him, just like all of us.” As she said 'all of us,' the pair of them reached the bottom of the stairway and entered into what Jewel guessed must have been a throne room, and Jewel gasped. More than a dozen women, all dressed as she was and bearing the same silver sirik, were there, engaged in a woman's household duties. Jewel could not resist looking them over, seeing just who were these women with whom she would now have to compete for the attention of the Man who had captured her. Each of them seemed to go through every movement, no matter how small or minute, with a lascivious flair as though a man's eyes were upon her. Few of them even glanced at her, but for those who did, their expressions ranged from casual interest to open hostility. “Meet your sisters,” Scarlet remarked with a note of malice in her voice as she saw where Jewel was looking before giving her collar a more forceful tug and leading her down a hallway to another room.
The first thing Jewel noticed about this new room was the robust fragrance, both floral and smoky. It seemed to her to be some kind of incense. The room itself was well-lit, but the windows were high, more than half her body-height above her head. The floor was lined with cushions of silk and velvet, as though the entire room was made for lounging about. There were seven more concubines here, reclining on cushions and whispering to each other. One of the seven, in a corner by herself, was playing a soft tune on a large instrument that looked like a kind of harp. “Jasmine,” Scarlet snapped, and the girl playing the harp immediately stood up and hurried over to her. As she approached Scarlet, the girl stopped, keeping her hands pressed to her sides and her eyes downcast.
“Yes, first-girl,” the girl said timidly.
Scarlet released Jewel's collar while flinging her toward the girl. “Jasmine, our Master has brought in a new girl from his latest raid. Teach her.”
Jasmine bowed her head quickly. “Yes, first-girl,” she repeated in the same meek way.
Scarlet turned and walked languorously away. Once she was gone, Jasmine's eyes rose to meet Jewel, and Jewel felt a pang of shock. She's barely more than a child, she realized.
Jasmine was half a head shorter than Jewel, with large eyes and the kind of dainty nose that women of the Southern Plains envied. Her limbs and build were slight, and her breasts appeared as though they had only begun to grow a handful of years earlier and had yet to finish growing. Yet she stood with her chest thrust forward as if to put them on display.
Jasmine smiled at Jewel, a smile that almost broke Jewel's heart for the innocence that shined through that smile. Jewel quickly dismissed the thought. She can't be as child-like as she seems if she has served a Man like my Master. When Jasmine spoke, her voice was almost a squeak. “Sister, it's nice to meet you,” she said without the smile ever leaving her face. “Has the Master given you a name?”
Jewel's eyes blinked twice. “Yes,” she answered slowly. “He has decided I'm to be called Jewel.”
Jasmine's eyes widened and she gave a small gasp that seemed to be genuine delight. “Oh, it's a beautiful name! It sounds like He enjoys you.”
Jewel nodded her agreement. She started to explain what Arturis had said about the reason for the name, but thought better of it. She already had an enemy in the harem in the person of Scarlet, and she was not eager to make another so quickly.
“So, I'm meant to train you then?” Jasmine asked.
Jewel nodded, feeling her face grow warm at the thought of what this training might entail. Her mind went back to what Scarlet had done with her a few minutes before in Arturis's bedchamber. “I don't know what services the Master requires of His women,” she said neutrally.
Jasmine's eyes betrayed a hint of mischief. “Well I would suspect you already saw the most important service He requires. Anyone in the East Wing heard Him teaching it to you last night.” The warmth in Jewel's cheeks turned to a blaze, but Jasmine showed no signs of jealousy. Instead, her smile grew brighter and she gave a small giggle. “So, new sister, do you dance?”
Jewel shook her head.
“Well,” Jasmine said with a giggle, “let's fix that.”