She makes this look so easy, Jewel thought bitterly as she tried yet again to perform a hip-movement she had been unable to mimic yet.
“You're thinking too hard about it,” Jasmine chided. “Relax.”
“I'm trying,” Jewel sighed.”
“I know. That's the problem,” Jasmine answered with a smile.
Jewel sighed. “This isn't easy. My hips are sore.”
It was not until she heard Jasmine giggle that Jewel realized what she had said. “Well I'd suggest you get used to that. If the noise from last night is any indication of the Master's opinion of you, your hips are going to spend a lot of time sore.”
Jewel blushed. She still was not accustomed to the way sex was spoken of so casually here. I suppose that's something else I should get used to, she thought.
Jasmine clapped her hands once to get Jewel's attention and motioned to the floor. “Here. Rest for a minute and just watch me.” Jewel knelt down on the cushioned floor and watched as Jasmine began to demonstrate the movement with natural ease. The way the girl moved was almost otherworldly, with her hips able to twist in tight circles as her body remained otherwise motionless. Her lithe arms slowly lifted, hands inward with fingertips almost touching her supple body as she raised them above her head, crossing her wrists as though bound. Even without an audience, Jasmine's eyes closed as she danced, and Jewel noticed she was biting her lip. “The idea,” Jasmine spoke softly and breathily, “is to make your body's movements an invitation for Him.”
“I understand the point, Jasmine,” Jewel sighed in exasperation. “I just-”
“No, dear sister, you don't,” a thickly accented voice corrected. Jasmine stopping her dance and turned to face the source of that voice. Another concubine, clad in the same diaphanous silk, walked toward Jewel with her deep green eyes fixed upon her. This concubine's hair was light brown, and her body seemed to have been carved our of ivory by the same sculptor who had crafted Scarlet. As she neared Jewel, she touched the tip of her finger to the temple of Jewel's head. “This part of you understands,” she lowered her hand and pinched Jewel on the same spot where Scarlet's bite still ached. “But this is the part the Master is interested in, and it doesn't seem to have grasped yet what your purpose is.
“She's new, Lotus,” Jasmine said in a tone that managed to be demure while still coming to Jewel's defense.”
“I realize she's new,” Lotus clipped, “but has she no idea what a slave girl's dance is meant to be? You are from the Central Plains, yes? Did the concubines there dance as frigidly and stiffly as you do?”
Jewel blinked. “I wouldn't know. I've never seen them.”
“Hmph!” Lotus's hands went haughtily to her hips. “In all your years you have never seen a lord's girls dance for him?”
Jewel averted her eyes. “I've never met anyone who could be called a 'lord,' “ she confessed.
Lotus's eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What city did you come from that has no lord?”
“Lotus,” Jasmine tried to interrupt but was stopped by a fierce halting gesture from Lotus.
“Answer my question, dear sister,” Lotus pressed on.
By this time several other concubines had gathered from around the Seraglio to see what the fuss was. Jewel was keenly aware of their eyes upon her, though she didn't raise hers to meet them. “I don't come from a city,” she answered softly. “I'm from a village called-”
“Village?!” The way Lotus pronounced the word seemed to contain more derision than Jewel knew could be poured into a single utterance. Lily's eyes circled the room and she raised her voice to address the other concubines. “Sisters, we have a village-girl among us.”
“You must have made a mistake, Jasmine,” mocked one of the girls as the cruel laughter of the others filled the room. “She's supposed to be in the kitchen learning to be a scullery-maid.”
Other taunts followed, and with each one, Jewel felt herself shrink.
“If you are so certain of that, Lotus,” Jasmine intoned quietly when the laughter died down, “then perhaps you can be the one to tell the Master that you don't approve of His choice.”
The room fell silent. Into that silence, Jasmine spoke once again, her timid and unassuming voice covering the edge contained in her words. “After all, perhaps He doesn't know women as well a you do, and is incapable of choosing them for Himself.”
Lotus's eyes took on the likeness of javelins as she fixed Jasmine with a glare, but before she could speak she was interrupted by Scarlet's voice at the entrance to the Seraglio. “The Master comes.”
Instantly, the concubines scurried toward the entrance, adjusting their silks to display their bodies. Some flung themselves at the ground, arms outstretched pleadingly toward the entrance as if begging for attention. Some knelt. Lotus, for her part, reclined on her side on a cushion in the sunlight, giving full display to the ample curve of her hip as the afternoon sun made her smooth thighs seem to glisten. Jewel froze for a moment, uncertain of what to do. A whim told her to look for Jasmine and try to mimic her. The petite girl who had become Jewel's tutor was kneeling timidly behind the others, knees together with her palms on the floor in front of her. Just like the moment Jewel first saw her, she seemed almost childishly innocent except for the solicitous way her chest was thrust forward. Her eyes seemed to have widened, and Jewel noted -though she had no idea what she would do with this knowledge- that she was the only one of the nine women in the room whose eyes seemed genuinely excited, rather than simply “getting ready,” at the coming of their Master. On reflex, Jewel knelt beside Jasmine and attempted to copy her.
I'll never be able to imitate that expression, Jewel thought, and instead lowered her eyes humbly.
Arturis entered the Seraglio without a word. He still wore bear-hide pants, and His body was covered with sweat. As the concubines began to croon and mewl, He strode toward the two nearest the entrance, reached down toward them, clutched both of their collars, one in each hand, and hauled them to their feet, kissing each of them forcefully. Jewel grimaced, having known she would have to endure the knowledge that He who she called 'Master' had other women who served at His pleasure, but having been unprepared to witness it.
Having drawn deeply from the lips of these two, Arturis released their collars and took a seat on top of a mattress-like cushion in the center of the room. “Scarlet,” He snapped and pointed toward His belt as He stretched His arms. Scarlet hurried toward Him, knelt at His side and -as Jewel watched in surprise- began unfastening His belt with her mouth. That's a trick I'll have to learn, Jewel thought jealously.
Arturis's muscles made snapping sounds as He stretched, and as He lay back, He snapped His fingers. At that sound, the remaining concubines flocked to His side, and Jewel hurried to follow. Lotus reached the bed first, and Arturis grasped her by the sirik and pulled her into one of His arms on the opposite side of the mattress from Jewel, where she immediately pressed her body against His. Jewel, having been the last to reach the bed, knelt beside it, noting with some annoyance that she was close enough to Scarlet to hear her sighing and moaning as she removed the belt and unfastened the bear-hide pants to reach the pillar that had been the source of Jewel's frenzied heat the night (and morning) before.
Lotus, now wrapped in one of Arturis's great arms with His hand aggressively squeezing her buttocks as He clutched her, made a great show of “accidentally” letting her harem-silk come unfastened and giggled as it fell away. In the meantime, Scarlet had finished with His belt and now gazed upon the rigid shaft of His manhood, licking her lips as she cast her eyes cast toward Arturis piteously. With the hand that was not holding Lotus, Arturis clutched Scarlet's hair and forced her face downward toward His hips, wrapping her lips around Him.
Jewel heard Arturis say “come to me, little one,” in a softer voice than she had thought Him to be capable of, and Jasmine knelt down beside His head, leaning toward Arturis and kissing His lips softly. Arturis kissed her thrice more before simply saying “my shoulders, little one.”
“Yes, Master,” Jasmine quickly replied. As she repositioned herself behind Arturis and began massaging His square, steely shoulders, Arturis gave a snap of His fingers again and pointed to two of the other girls, and then to His feet.
“Yes, Master,” the girls answered in unison and crawled to the foot of the mattress where each one removed one of His boots and began massaging His feet.
“The rest of you,” Arturis snapped, “dance.”
Jewel froze. Around her, the only three remaining concubines in the Seraglio rose slowly, sensuously, to their feet and began to twist and writhe their bodies before their Master's eyes, but she remained on her knees, terrified and all-too-conscious of her awkwardness. She lifted her eyes toward Arturis and noted the way Lotus's eyes were cast in her direction. Her mouth was occupied licking the sweat from Arturis's chest, but the wicked smile in her eyes was clear enough. Jewel's eyes flicked in Jasmine's direction, desperate for guidance, but to no avail. The younger concubine's eyes were locked on Arturis's face as though the rest of Creation had passed into aether. Get up, stupid girl, Jewel chided herself. DO something! Anything! But her body refused to obey. Fear kept her knees rooted to the floor; fear that her Master would find her dance as lifeless as she felt it to be. Around her, the other three twirled, letting their harem-silks fan out as they spun. Every movement they made seemed to have “bed me” written into it. Every twist of a hand or a foot, delicate though it may have been, was a subtle invitation drawing Arturis's eyes inward. One concubine's hips twisted as Jasmine's had done, seemingly reaching out and crying for Arturis to discard Scarlet's mouth and take pleasure from between the dancer's thighs. Another made slow rotating motions that caused her firm and full breasts to dance of their own accord as the rest of her body moved slowly. The third one moved in an almost ballet-like way, stretching her leg slowly above her head and tracing her hands downward along her thigh, stopping as they reached the place her legs met before putting her feet back on the ground and twirling away from Arturis, giving her hips a shake that brought a grin to Arturis's eternally stoic face.
And still, Jewel remained rooted to the ground where she knelt.
By now, the two who were massaging Arturis's feet were using not only their hands but their tongues, their eyes fixed lustfully upon His face as the tips of their tongues flicked over His feet worshipfully. His face was between Lotus's breasts and Lotus was clutched so tightly against Him that her legs almost got in Scarlet's way as His hand gripped Scarlet's hair more tightly and forced her down upon Him with ever-increasing speed and ferocity, impaling her mouth with the shaft until its tip was in her throat when he pushed her head down.
The three dancers began to twirl mockingly around Jewel, seeming to take delight in the fear that compelled inaction, each one making a point to give her hips exactly the same shimmying sway Jewel had found so impossible to perform as they passed in turn in front of her face. Jewel assumed their dance was now a mockery aimed at her eyes, as she doubted her Master was paying any attention to anything but the girls pleasuring Him.
At length, He reached an arm toward Lotus's hair, clutched it in His fist in the same manner as Scarlet, and forcibly tugged her down until her face was at His hips. Pulling Scarlet's head backward He withdrew Himself from her mouth -and Jewel winced at the gasping moan Scarlet let out as her mouth disengaged- Arturis held the two slaves with their faces barely a hair's breadth away from each other. “Lick,” He commanded.
At Arturis's command, Scarlet and Lotus's tongues began to slide up and down opposite sides of His shaft in perfectly mirrored movements, tracing all the way down to the hilt before turning around and going back up to the helm. When their tongues reached the tip, they kissed it in perfect unison, bringing their lips together so that they were also kissing each other before beginning to trace with their tongues again. Arturis looked down to watch them for a moment, then leaned His head backward and looked at Jasmine, whose eyes had never left His face. “Kiss me, little one,” Arturis ordered, “and then go to your harp.”
Jasmine's response of “Yes Master” was barely more than a whisper as she leaned forward and kissed Arturis's lips before rising and hurrying to the harp in the corner of the Seraglio where Jewel had seen her playing that morning. Jewel glanced in Jasmine's direction and caught her eye long enough for Jasmine to silently mouth the word 'dance!' with wide and insistent eyes before her attention became focused on her harp.
As Jewel's heart sank, Arturis brought her back to reality with three syllables. “Jewel, to me!”
Jewel gave her head a quick shake to clear it, choked the words “yes, Master” through a voice that was fighting back sobs, and crawled to the place at the head of the bed where Jasmine had knelt a few minutes before.
Arturis's eyes were fixed on Scarlet and Lotus with a look of merely casual interest, but they turned toward Jewel and showed displeasure. Did you not hear my command, little concubine?”
Jewel hung her head, not meeting her Master's gaze. “I heard it, Master.”
“Did you believe you were not included when I said “the rest of you?”
Jewel sniffled and a single sob racked her voice as she struggled to speak, trying to tune out the sounds of the four women whose mouths were now at work on her Master. “No, Master. I didn't think that.”
“Then why didn't you obey?”
Jewel raised her eyes to her Master sorrowfully. “I... I can't, Master. I don't know how.” She felt as though the beating of her heart had stopped. She felt certain that the way He had spoken of her that morning would vanish, that He would change His mind and discard her. Her mind hearkened back to Lotus's taunt about her being better suited as a scullery maid. For all her boasts of being more pleasing than the others, she had failed to do so before she had even more than begun, and there was nothing left for her to do but await the response of her captor... her prince...her Master.
“I expect you to do better in My bed tonight than you did here today, little concubine,” Arturis said as His eyes returned to the two at His hips. “For now,” He spoke, addressing them rather than Jewel “both of you, swallow!” Having commanded thus, He pulled their faces back from His manhood and held them next to each other, cheek-to-cheek and open-mouthed. Jewel heard them cough as her Master released His seed into their awaiting mouths and forced their faces back down. “Clean me,” He commanded, and both girls let out a muffled 'yes Master' as they began to lick the seed that had spilled on His thighs, groin or stomach. Arturis kept them at this for a few minutes before pulling them to opposite sides and tossing them aside. Pulling His feet away from the two who were licking His toes (both of whom pouted and whined as He did so), Arturis began to lace up His boots and re-loop His belt. This done, He rose to His feet. As He rose, every concubine knelt, the last of them being Jasmine, who crossed the room from her harp to kneel beside the others.
Glancing at Jewel, Arturis spoke with relaxed ease. “My bedchamber at First Watch, little concubine.”
Jewel lowered her head and spoke as if the intended listeners were her Master's feet rather than His ears. “Yes Master,” she whimpered, and Arturis strode out of the room without so much as a word. After He was gone, the concubines rose to their feet again, and Jewel found it impossible to avoid their eyes. All of them were regarding her smugly except for Jasmine, who gave her an excited smile. “Sister,” Jasmine said in the same near-squeak of a voice Jewel had heard that morning, “don't be so discouraged. The Master wants you in His bed tonight.”
Jasmine's face shone with excitement as she said this, but in her mind's eye, all Jewel could see was her Arturis, her Master, kissing the lips of that deceptively innocent face as it gazed back at Him in absolute adoration. Unable to fight back her tears any longer, Jewel collapsed to the cushioned floor and cried uncontrollably.