tagNonConsent/ReluctanceLife and Times of a Priestess Ch. 09 Pt. 01-03

Life and Times of a Priestess Ch. 09 Pt. 01-03


Chapter 9: Concessions

Part 1

Danella was resting, reclining on her bed, reading one of Paul's novels about the adventures of a nobleman in the ancient days of Vanmar when an Empire controlled from a city in modern day Spalopia had ruled most of Vanmar. She was engrossed in the cruel culture which had dominated this Empire. Half of the population had been slaves. Some were treated well, but many were treated very harshly in their dull lives. Others had been hardworking freemen, but the nobles had lives of pleasure and arrogant luxury, interrupted only by the frequent civil wars and uprisings which occurred so regularly.

Of course the book did not dwell on the lives of the slaves too closely, but seemed rather to revel in the cruelties inflicted upon them. It was a fantasy, probably an inaccurate representation of that past time, and could therefore afford to be casual about the realities of the past. In its day that Empire had rivalled Pirion. Danella was repulsed by much she had read about that cruel Empire but she was interested to learn of the sexual practices the wealthy ancients had indulged in. Some of the noblemen had taken numerous of their slaves to their beds and noblemen and women indulged themselves in lavish parties where slaves, male and female, pleasured their masters and each other, for the gratification of onlookers. Some of the Emperors and the leaders of society enjoyed the flesh of many women. These practices of open sexual celebration were akin to Pirion's ways, but the society far less harmonious or humane.

She could understand that from such a cruel and perverse society the one which now prevailed in Vanmar had evolved. In some way the sexual practices had been banned and forgotten over the centuries. Even the cruelties and relentless civil wars and wars of expansion had been reduced. But the cruelty of their greedy society remained. It had merely changed. No longer were slaves chained for their masters but many of the people, soldiers included, remained slaves of a sort.

Part 2

Gerald came to the dormitory, earlier than usual in these days so it must mean something, a 'booking' for one of the 'girls' with an offer perhaps. She was not far wrong it turned out. He strode over towards Danella in his confident manner smiling at his favourites as he did so.

Gerald had enjoyed himself with many of the Priestesses by now, including Danella, but only a few times. Danella was not aware of why he had rarely selected her. Perhaps he would again some day; perhaps this was it. She was amongst the most popular Priestesses with the men, often requested by them. Many soldiers 'booked' her in advance. It was the only way they could be sure of taking their turn with her. Gerald, she could only assume did not find her the most attractive, and he already had his favourites whom he liked to visit repeatedly. He had enjoyed Sreela. Parmel and Agnessa were two he seemed to like in particular. It did not concern her but she had begun to find it unusual. She knew that her looks were particularly attractive to most men. In ceremonies as in the dormitory she was usually one of the first to be selected, Gerald had the power to book her when ever he wanted. This rejection by him did not concern her. She was too popular to feel unwanted and she did not particularly like the man. His manners she found rude, his self confidence irritating, and his looks were nothing that many other men did not have.

Once before Gerald had approached her to speak privately with her. Normally if he had a particular booking for one of the Priestesses he would merely shout it out across the dormitory which would save him the effort of traversing the room to communicate it. The Priestesses all knew each others appointments anyway. Nothing was secret here for long, but like sisters they cared for each other by reminding each other when they had appointments and they shared many of the details of their intimacies as they had always done.

She remembered that other time two or was it three weeks ago when Gerald had come to her to tell her General Ravelleon wished to meet her. Maybe this was another high ranking officer or perhaps another General who had seen her from a distance. Perhaps she had been recommended to the officer by someone, perhaps even by Gerald. The officers perhaps did not with the men to know who he was consorting with, a General who wished to keep his moral Prancirian reputation intact so that he could pretend to so set an example of Prancirian perfection to his soldiers. Maybe this one would be a little more able to admit his true human impulses than Ravelleon had been. She thought she had forgotten that sorry and embarrassing incident, but the mere approach of Gerald reminded her of it again. To be spurned like that by a man was a strange thing for a Priestess of Pirion to experience but he had actually managed to make her feel embarrassed about her attempts to seduce him. She had felt briefly what it must be like to be a Prancirian woman, brought up in the culture of refusal.

Gerald arrived at her bedside and touched her arm as if he owned her, although she smiled agreeably at him and gave him all her attention anyway. She would not normally mind such a touch from most people. The Priestess and generally all the people of Pirion communicated with each other partly in that way. She did not like Gerald to touch her because they were not and had never been socially intimate, even though they had shared each other's bodies a few times. If he had shared her bed and her mind more often she would probably have wanted him to touch her as an act of recognition of their friendship but they had not yet come to that basic level of friendship. Because of the distance between them she preferred to keep it that way. Her relationship with him was very Prancirian, at arms length and using the Prancirian she had leaned, 'businesslike'. She did not like the way he seemed to assume that he was in control of them. He treated them as children, patronising in his sense of superiority. She resented him for that refusal to accord her and the other Priestesses the dignity of equality.

"Danella, and how are you today?" he flirted in the way he flirted with them all when he felt like it. There was little sincerity in the question. If she had tried to extend into a longer conversation he would soon stop listening. "I see you're reading again. Trying to educate yourself?" She was sure he had never read a book in his life, not since his school days at least.

She smiled along with him, at least he showed some humour and his criticisms were probably not meant, although she couldn't quite be sure of that. Perhaps that was why she did not warm to him. She could not really trust him. She was never sure of his motives. Perhaps he really did think Pirionites were inferior people to be conquered, and ordered, and treated like children. "You know we do read and have books in Pirion," she told him.

"You can't tell me you had books here. When do you Priestesses have time to read books? You prefer the books of Prancir, not of your own country. I have never seen any of your Pirionite books!"

"Oh we do have our own scholars," she argued. "You haven't seen many of our books because you burned many of them when you came here. But I grant you that you Prancirians have a great variety of literature. That is, I believe, because your lives have been harder than ours and some of you are driven to write by the insecurities of your lives and by your lack of fulfilment in ordinary life." She was pleased at her perceptive judgement of Prancirian culture. The reading she had achieved and her knowledge of the Prancirian soldiery had given her insights into Prancirian and Vanmarian culture which she could not have produced before. Her own thoughts surprised her, because she had not heard that thought from anyone before.

"Our books are better than yours," he admitted, he joked "Because you spend too much of your time doing dirty things and not producing anything." She knew he meant sexual worship. There was some truth in what he said. It was partly what had driven her to travel away from Shanla, and gave her the desire, despite the calamity of war to see the Vanmarian countries also. She had discovered already that there were many cultural things which Prancir and Vanmar had which were rich in value but only existed because of the limitations of the people's lives, sexual and economic. Gerald did not greatly care about what he said, she realised. To him it was probably just a line to test her with, but he had come up nonetheless with some perceptive thoughts. He would lose interest in the conversation soon she knew, but he was not unintelligent.

"There is some truth in what you say" she admitted. But Gerald was not really looking for agreement. He thrived on witty arguments and it was unusual for him to have gone so far along the road of a serious exchange of thoughts.

"Good" he said, as if his little argument won it was time to end this conversation before it became tiresome. "But don't get too involved in our superior culture," he joked. "Now you have to work for a living. I have some more business for you," he said this last sentence more quietly, as if he no longer wanted the audience he had been playing to only moments before. "General Ravelleon wishes to see you again," he said, quietly so no other Priestess could hear.

"Ravelleon?" she said, shocked to hear his name again, having counted it out after what happened before. She was at a loss for words for a moment not wanting to reveal to Gerald that her advances to the man had been rejected.

"Yes Ravelleon himself. He must have enjoyed you the last time. Surely you are not surprised. You must have given him the time of his life. You are surprised because he hadn't wanted you again sooner," he guessed. It surely had not occurred to him that she might have failed to satisfy a customer, for whatever reason. She knew her reputation for popularity with 'customers' was high.

"Yes," she granted, although it was untrue, but she wondered at her own reluctance to admit the failure of her previous encounter with the General. A Pirionite was well used to the close affection of others. It should not have concerned her to admit something which was due to Prancirian perversity. She had of course confided in Sreela, and in one or two of her other closer friends among the Priestesses, but had shrunk from letting it be widely known. She had believed that she was observing Gerald's original request that her visit to the General be kept secret, although she had no qualms in sharing the knowledge with close friends. She recognised that the real reason was her reluctance to advertise her failure to seduce a man she had wanted. Emotionally she felt sensitive towards Ravelleon. Rationally she knew the incident had merely reflected the strange inhibitions of Vanmarian cultures.

"He wishes you to visit him again, at the same place as before, this evening for dinner at seven o'clock. The message also said that he only wanted you to go if it was your will. This is not therefore an order. But I have never known you to reject a client," Gerald commented, lapsing into his own thoughts. "The General has said that if you prefer you may think about it for a few days or you may go tomorrow or soon. I think the General is too polite", said Gerald. "A General should issue orders, and you do work for him. But I think he is a generous and polite man who wishes to bring a little romance into his own life. He is not the type to use a public brothel. He prefers to wine and dine his intended conquest in the absence of his wife. He does again ask us to keep this liaison as secret as possible. So, what answer shall I sand him, as he gives you the choice. Although I must suggest that it would not be wise to reject any General and certainly not this one."

She did not wish to deal with this request any differently than she would any other, but in the case of Ravelleon she felt unready to meet him and was not sure she ever wanted to see him again. But the dinner had been good and the conversation, while strained at times, had been challenging and illuminating. Of course she must go. This request probably represented the belated success of her seduction. The proud loyal General had had three weeks in which to think about the beauty and comfort she offered and to realise what he had missed by his stupidity. She feared irrationally that he might wish only to talk and eat as before and that she would once more be tempted to make a fool of herself. But that could not happen twice. Either he would now wish to 'make love' or he would make it clear that he wished only to appreciate her beauty, not to enjoy it fully, and she would not anger him this time by trying to seduce his self control away from him.

She was tempted to say, "no not tonight." Her reaction was avoidance, but her brain told her she had won some kind of victory at least, over this proud man whose energies were directed into such a wrong direction as war. She recognised that she had probably won a battle for the heart of this man. The invitation was an admitance that the rules of Prancirian propriety were fallible. He had determined to rid himself of her temptation, to protect his own ideal of the way a Prancirian General should behave. In so doing he had probably recognised that there was something in Danella's offering which he really wanted. She could imagine him sitting, lonely in his offices, giving out orders to his inferiors and wondering why he rejected the advances of a woman he must have desired, whose embrace could have done him no real harm. After all, half of his army at least, maybe more, were consorting with Pirionite women and even home in Prancir soldiers, including other Generals, were indulging themselves. Why not he? But she knew that he wanted to provide an example to his men. He wanted the sexually restrained Prancir which he fought for. Maybe if such a man could be encouraged to lose his principles with regard to his personal life, perhaps the principles for which he was able to fight this awful war might also be lost and she would be helping to save her people.

Part 3

Gerald told her there would be no guard this time to show her the way. The city was not dangerous and she knew her way to the General's quarters. She never needed a guard when she went to visit other officers. At quarter to seven on the following day she put on one of her two Prancirian dresses and came out into the dark evening cool to walk to the General.

As she walked some soldiers noticed her and waved. One of them whistled at her and she laughed back at them. She recognised Albert, one of her regulars as she approached them and the other two seemed familiar. Yes, one she had been with before, but she was unsure of the other. She had surely seen him in the dormitory before but she could not remember whether she had accommodated him herself. If so it must have been some months before.

"On your way to somewhere then," joked Albert.

"Of course," she answered, not knowing what he thought was funny. Of course she was going somewhere, were not they also.

"Who is it this time?" he asked. "Who is the lucky soldier?"

She realised now what he meant. She was going somewhere to see someone and he wanted to know where she was going to visit. But she still did not understand what was funny about that. They had a strange sense of humour, these Prancirians. They could laugh at anything and they seemed to find humour in the most uninteresting words. They laughed at any possible reference to sexual activity. She thought perhaps that the idea of her going to visit someone in order to have sex made him laugh. She did not find such an ordinary occurrence funny herself and could see no humour at all in that, but many Prancirians seemed to find the merest suggestion of sexual activity funny. They turned it into humour. She could only assume that was because they could not perceive of it as a normal everyday occurrence. It was normally forbidden to them. Therefore they pretended that it was funny.

"How about a freebie?" asked the other soldier she knew. She had learned that word by now many solders asked for it when she was particularly warm and friendly to them. Gerald would not allow them to give freebies. It was impossible inside the dormitory with guards at the door, but when they were out visiting it was possible. Their occasional visits to Pirionite men were effectively freebies. Perhaps Gerald would have allowed some of these if he had known, as they were acts of kindness to their own people. Sreela and the others had felt it best not to give Gerald the power to prevent this by informing him.

The only other 'freebies' she had given here were to Ravelleon's guard and the offer she had made to Ravelleon, being a high ranking General, was probably free. She doubted Gerald would charge one of the commanders who allowed the 'business' to continue and probably profited from it.

"No, Gerald won't allow me, and I am on duty. I must continue now, but come and see me soon." As she would to Pirionite men whom she knew well, she greeted Albert. Reaching forward to him she grasped him gently around the waist and brought her lips towards his face. She sensed the recoil of surprise in him as he almost stepped back. This was not the standard Prancirian greeting. Perhaps in certain situations and between certain people, relatives, family friends, this greeting could be used, but normally amongst people who were not partners it was not allowed.

To do this out in the street made it even more unusual. Such a showing of affection was not normal amongst Prancirians who enjoyed the affections only of wives, girlfriends and the love of a mother. As he realised the greeting she intended Albert rallied, making the most of this free gift of pleasure, although she could tell he was reluctant to go too far out here in the street where officers and others might notice and disapprove. He clutched her around the waist, allowing her to lick his cheek hotly. She let him go and he now seemed reluctant to let her go as she moved to the next man who she knew.

"I hope you're not going to charge us for this," joked Albert. "What did I tell you Jean, she is very keen, good at her job, she is. She offered to approach Jean also, whom evidently she did not know personally. She was willing to extend friendship to him too as with the others, and he also was a handsome man. However at that moment an officer began to approach further down the road. Evidently this kind of fraternisation with Pirionite women, perhaps any women, was not allowed on the streets by the military rules. Albert issued a warning "Watch it Jean. There's an officer coming. Sorry Danella. We love it, but its against regulations."

She deferred to them and stepped back saying, "I must go anyway. I will see you again soon. Goodbye!" She walked down the street as they gazed after her. They thought they knew what Priestesses were like, full of kindness, sexually direct and usually very willing to satisfy them, but this affection was beyond the bounds of duty.

"I wonder if that officer in charge at the brothel knows what she's getting up to when she goes outside?" "Probably not," said Peter, the other one who had thought he knew everything about Danella, "but he can hardly stop her." "Do you think she would give me a kiss like that if I run after her?" asked Jean, joking, but feeling a little annoyed at having missed the chance of a quick grope.

"She probably would" said Albert. "Look at her go. She doesn't even know you and yet see how generous she is. You must try her out sometime. I can tell you she is high class." In his own mind he was thinking that these women were far more friendly than his own harassed wife at home and the women he had known in his younger days. And the prostitutes at home, you had to watch them for every penny when you could afford them, and they could switch off the tenderness at the tick of the clock, and usually did when time was up. If there wasn't a war on this would be a nice country to live in, away from the pressures and unhappiness of life in Prancir. But he didn't say any of that to the other two. There was a war on and they had better get on with it, instead of wasting time thinking about it.

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