Joia sobbed quietly in her darkened room as though she would never stop. Her sorrow at watching Gemina suffer and die was eclipsed only by the shame of her body’s response as she witnessed the event.
The thought that she might have to watch every one of her companions lose their head in a similar manner was almost more than she could bear. What made it all the worse was the way she could not seem to control her shameful reactions.
She quietly sobbed as her mind replayed Gemina’s suffering over and over again. Her body tensed in preparation for another humiliating, yet pleasurable, release. Then she heard a rustling in the darkness, followed by a soothing voice…
“Who’s there?” she whispered quietly, her heart leaping in her throat as she rubbed the tears out of her eyes.
“Hush, my child.”
It was Ysabella…
“You should not be here,” Joia told her anxiously, sniffling as her matron gently caressed her face.
“I must warn you, Joia. Clemencia is in a dangerous mood. She wishes to watch each one of you lose your head. She is an exceedingly cruel Mistress, desirous of more power within the compound. When Master is displeased, it brings her great joy to take one of you out and watch you lose your head.”
“I am in danger?” Joia murmured quietly in alarm. “What about the others? What about Marsona?”
“Yes – yes; all of you! Joia, you must be careful! If Master is not pleased, Clemencia will see to it that all of you are slaughtered!”
“Then Master must be pleased,” Joia responded. “It is the only way.” She could take no more humiliation by continuing to watch her sisters die one by one, only to feel perverse pleasure during their suffering.
“Tell me what I must do, Ysabella! You must tell me! I can bear this no longer. Surely Mistress will soon take Marsona’s head. I do not wish to be there when it happens. Please, Ysabella! Tell me what I can do to stop all this!”
Two days passed before anyone was summoned again. The girls were left in a state of heightened anxiety. None of them wanted to see Clemencia come for any of them.
A feeling of dread and despair settled upon them all. As for Joia, she learned all she could from her matron. She was determined to learn how to satisfy Master’s lusts.
She had made her decision. If it was within her control, the next girl fated to lose her head was going be her. She did not wish to see even one more of her sisters suffer, especially her friend Marsona.
Mistress finally stepped into the room on the third day. All conversations were effectively silenced. No one dared make eye contact with her.
They all looked away, fearful she might choose one of them. Joia saw the look in Clemencia’s eyes. To her it was as though the woman was looking to send someone to their death.
“Master has need of one of you,” Mistress said in a casual manner. From Joia’s perspective, they were words from a poisonous serpent.
“Whom shall I take to see Master? Who wishes to provide such an honorable duty?”
Joia stepped forward, her heart thumping loudly in her chest. “I shall go.” She tried to sound confident despite the fact her insides were quivering.
Clemencia scowled at her. A volunteer was not who she was looking for.
She tried to look beyond Joia at one of the others. “Perhaps I should take…” That’s when Joia stepped right in front of her.
“Am I not suitable, Mistress?” Then she bowed her head low.
She could tell Clemencia was annoyed at her. But it was better to risk losing her own head than to witness the death of another of her captive sisters.
Mistress paused, taken aback by having one of the girls offering herself so willingly. Then she sighed irritably before grabbing Joia by the wrist.
“Come with me, if you will. If Master likes you, perhaps he will allow you to keep your head.” There was cruel amusement in her smile.
Joia heard quiet gasps from all around. But she observed none looking directly at her save Marsona. Her friend was giving her an anxious glance.
She tried to return a smile of reassurance. It was a reassurance she did not feel in the slightest. Then Clemencia roughly pulled her out of the room.
Joia went willingly, resigned to her fate. She firmly believed the result would be the loss of her head. But it would all be worth it in the end, so long as she would not have to bear witness to another of the girls being slaughtered by the blade…
Ysabella’s words served her well. The experience was not altogether unpleasant. On the contrary, Master’s touch was gentle, and she willingly gave herself to him.
She adapted quickly. Despite the disgrace of such intimacy outside a proper betrothal, Joia felt a pleasure from his penis. The encounter succeeded in blotting out the horrors she had witnessed thus far.
Joia noticed the marks on Master’s face from the struggle with Alviva. She kissed them tenderly. Then she begged forgiveness for her sister’s violent reaction.
She wished to honor the slaughtered girl’s spirit. But inwardly her desires lay elsewhere. She truly wanted to spare the rest of the girls from the blade, if that was even within her reach.
Her gesture was not entirely marked by a desire to spare the others. His gentle caresses had touched her deeply. She even found herself hoping he might call upon her to return for a future encounter.
Before she left Master’s private chamber, he allowed her to speak freely. She offered her head in the hopes it would spare the others. He declined, telling her she had found favor in his sight.
However, he did give her words of hope. Master told her he would spare the others if it would ultimately bring her peace. They only had to submit with a willing spirit.
Joia bowed low, thanking him for the precious gift of all their lives. She told him she was in his debt. She would humbly return to serve him any time he so desired.
Joia was forced to wait outside the chamber as Mistress was summoned inside to speak to Master. When she emerged a short time later, her face was twisted with rage. Clemencia’s eyes burned at her with an intense hatred.
Joia swallowed hard. Now it appeared her best efforts were all for naught. Instead of saving all their lives, she had just made a very powerful enemy.
Over the next several days Joia made a point of telling each girl how she had willingly given her body to quench Master’s lusts. It was humiliating to share such intimate things. She did her best to avoid specific details of their time together as much as possible. However, she assured them that if they were submissive, she had Master’s word there would be no further harm bestowed upon any of them.
All the girls took her words to heart. Over time, each one was called to serve in Master’s private chamber. Certain ones were summoned more than others.
Joia was summoned most of all. Thoughts of the falling blade had previously filled her nights with despair as well as shameful pleasure. But now they began to diminish.
Her position increased in the eyes of her female companions. They began to look to her for wisdom, almost as much as their individual matrons. In the meantime, she found herself being drawn more and more to Master’s gentle, loving touch.
Their increased attention and devotion toward Joia did not escape Clemencia’s notice. Neither did the young woman’s growing closeness to Master. Mistress grew increasingly harsh with her.
Joia kept her mistreatment hidden from Master. Clemencia still had great power. But so long as Master was pleased with her and her sisters, life would be more tolerable than the alternative.
What she did not count on was the day Master’s travel plans took him away from the compound…
2010; 2021 (written for Aravanna and Hitomi Mar 15 ’10; ed. Jan 11 ‘21 by riwa)