A Cruel Passing of Innocence

A Cruel Passing of Innocence
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ISBN:  9781907753589
Author:  J. D. Jensen
Word Count:  66,575
Format:  eBook

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Rite of PassageRite of Passage

One of the servant girls hurried to Nassara's side, her face timid and bashful, and gently she took Nassara's hand and led her to the central mound of cushions. The master remained motionless, watching.
   Indicating Nassara should sit on the cushions, and then to lay back in the curved hollow of its centre, the girl gestured for Nassara to spread herself, arms and legs open, exposing the fullness of her reposing body.
   'Be not stiff, young mistress,' she instructed. 'Let your body be relaxed, like when you sleep. Be eager for him, or he beat me and you if he get angered.'
   With that she moved back to the man and began to disrobe him, carefully lifting off his outer garment in the practiced manner of one accustomed to the duty. He stood silently, a casual smile on his lips, not taking his eyes from Nassara who, uncertain where to look, feared rebuke if she looked at him, yet fearing to look away
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Sold into slavery by her stepfather, Nassara is stripped, beaten and delivered to the Palace of Misery, where young slaves must hasten to adapt to the Masters' cruel perversities, or face harsh punishment.

Adorned in golden rings and chains, oiled and shaven, ready for prostration in the hot sun for the Masters to behold, the slaves of pleasure must perform their duties with compliant devotion. So quickly lost is Nassara's innocence, how terrible the torment her emotions must travel, and what agonies her flesh must endure.

Nassara's only consolation is her love for Zheeno, yet Ahmood, the sadistic leader of the whip-boys, is ever vigilant, knowing his Master's infatuation with the beautiful new slave girl. So when the young lovers are undone will Nassara's courage and contrition be enough to save Zheeno? Must she confront the dreaded brush whip of serpents' tails? Will the ruthless Masters be yet more merciless than fate itself?

From behind the unfamiliar drapes of the huge tent, Nassara watched the dark silhouettes of the foreign men moving in the firelight. Her eyes were swollen from her tears, and the black mantle of despair hung over her, engulfing the youthful recesses of her mind. She felt so terribly alone. Her bewilderment, her fear, and not least, her anger began to sap the tender precincts of her heart and soul. A sense of disbelief and dread that she had never encountered before numbed and confused her mind, bringing fresh tears at every new surge of fearful reality.
   In the quiet, uneasy darkness, the silky fur of the animal skin rug was good against her naked body. Yet this place was alien to her. Even the smells were strange, and somehow evil, as if the very fabric of the tent itself were tainted with the stale odours of past suffering. It made it difficult for her to reflect upon the journey she had made here with her stepfather and half-brothers, and for her gentle innocence to make any sense of it at all. Those vile images danced before her eyes, refusing to leave her in peace for a single moment. She could recall in every vivid detail how the foul men had restrained her kicking, struggling body, and how, then, at that incomprehensible moment, her father and brothers turned away from her. Again, now, she felt those stinging tears of confusion welling in her eyes.
   She knew she was not alone in this place. She could hear restless movement from other human bundles nearby in the oppressive darkness. She knew by the occasional feminine murmur of distress that there were other girls here, like herself. She could hear muffled sobs. Very softly Nassara called out in a timid voice, but the feeble, sniffling response was in stilted words in a language she could not understand.
   Then someone was coming. The thick drapes of the entrance were pulled roughly aside, letting the firelight in. Standing there was one of those same foul men who had taken her earlier. The turbaned, thickset figure stood there for some moments, peering in, his presence instinctively menacing to Nassara. In the increased light she could see his terrible eyes looking at her like black stones of evil. He rasped some angry, guttural words she did not understand, and strode over to where she sat hunched beneath the fur that barely covered her shoulders. He peered down at her and she shrunk instinctively away, but the man bent lower. With a flurry he pulled away the loose flap of fur, exposing her warm nakedness.
   Laughing suddenly in a wicked tone he spoke gruffly again, the odour of his mouth offending Nassara’s nostrils. Then something swung in the foetid air and she felt a stinging blow across her shoulders. She gasped at the shock, cowering away from him and clasping her arms protectively around herself. Her body trembled from the unexpectedness of the blow, but her hatred, outrage and despair seethed within. The man mumbled, belched and then went out again, pulling the heavy drapes behind him, bringing darkness once more to the inside of the tent.
   The desert night air was cold outside and she was glad to snuggle back inside the fur wrapping. Her shoulders stung from the whip and presently began to throb, but this was scarcely the primal source of misery that engulfed her.
   The journey had lasted for over two suns and one moon. Her father – for indeed she had known him as her father for as long as she could remember – had been silent and vacant, unresponsive to her youthful questions. He rode ahead with her eldest brother, who glanced back at her occasionally with shielded, knowing eyes. She had ridden several paces behind with her younger half-brother, the two of them sharing the mule, their lithe bodies moving pleasurably against each other’s to the beast’s lurching gait. With her arms clasped lightly around his waist she felt her youthful breasts rubbing against his strong back. She felt good at the familiarity of his bodily warmth and vitality, and there was joy in her heart at the outset of the journey.
   It started as a surprise excursion out of the village, so she thought. She recalled how excited she had been, and how she laughed and chatted joyfully with her young brother. Though, oddly, her mother stood weeping as the small group left just after sunrise. But Nassara thought nothing of it. At first she hummed happily to herself as they went, sometimes pausing to chatter animatedly to her brother about some passing matter of interest, glad to have some adventure away from her sheltered village life. The ride, the sloping hills and the vast green plains they travelled across were a constant pleasure to her unsuspecting mind.
   To begin with her half-brother joined in with the idle banter, laughing occasionally at her girlish remarks. But after the first sundown he became remote and silent, as if knowing the secret of their destination. In the late evening she watched their sullen faces from across the crackling flames of the campfire. Thinking only that travellers were tired after a day’s ride, she thought nothing more of it, having snuggled down for the night, looking forward to the dawn.
   It was long past the second sundown when the journey came to an end. At the moment the mule lurched to a halt she had been dozing in the saddle, her arms clasped around her brother’s lower chest. Groggily opening her eyes as the beast’s motion ceased she could see a gathering of men waiting there, watching her. It was a village or a camp, perhaps. Fires burned here and there. There were strange voices, strange sounds and alien smells that troubled her, even though she felt reassured still by the protective presence of her father and brothers.
   Helped down from the mule she yawned and rubbed her eyes, unsuspecting that these were the final moments of her youthful innocence… and of her family, and even of her past. Her father and brothers stood aside, turning away from her, shamefaced, as other men talked to them in low, stern tones. Then two bearded, evil looking turbaned men, their dusty robes greasy with dirt, came to her side, and seizing her roughly they propelled her towards a tent.
   Protesting loudly she resisted and kicked out, calling desperately to her father, but the turbaned men only gripped her more firmly, taking no notice of her struggling or pleas, and harshly pushed her through the open entrance of the tent.
   Suspended from the high cone of the ceiling oil lamps glittered behind hanging brass cages. Furs, gaily coloured rugs and gold-threaded cushions lay on the floor in untidy profusion, and draped casually over them was an elderly, white-bearded man dressed in long silken robes embroidered with trimmings of braided gold. His presence seemed somehow sinister. Black eyes studied her from his dark, leathery, expressionless face.
   Despite her fear and confusion, Nassara’s wide eyes alighted on the dazzling jewels that adorned his fingers and sparkled in the subdued light. Although frightened she spoke angrily, indignantly, but he did not react at all, as if she were of no greater consequence than an ant in the dirt.
   ‘What is this place? I want my father. What do you want of me?’ She spat the words out, her eyes blazing with anger and fear.
   Immediately the two men, one either side of her, took hold of the folds of her garments and pulled down, ripping them from her shoulders. The force of their shocking action made her lose her footing and she struggled then, but one of her captors grasped her slender neck and held her firmly. His fingers tightened in a powerful squeeze that threatened to crush the delicate frame of sinew and bone, so that in a trice she was rendered as helpless as a kitten grabbed by its scruff.
   The other man ripped again at the remaining shreds of garment, tearing them away from her body. Now she stood naked in the glowing light, the hand of the man still vicelike around her neck, forcing the angle of her head slightly back so that she had to look down at the old man, who watched her now with almost casual interest.
‘Leave me!’ Nassara snorted with indignation, her breath coming in frightened gasps, her speech stunted by the restricting pressure on her neck. ‘Let me be! Take your hands… what?’ Her back arched from the contraction of her spine in its tensed concave posture, causing her buttocks to be forced back and her chest forward. Her pert, naked breasts quivered, glistening in the pale light, her body shaking slightly in her tremor of anger, fear and humiliation.
   The old man’s gaze travelled up and down her body, assessing it as critically as if she were a young calf at the marketplace. His eyes were without compassion, and they moved curiously until coming to rest upon the lightly furred area between her thighs, lingering there for some moments, seeking out the peeping folds of her youthful sex. She felt her cheeks burning with shame and indignation. Her lips trembled and her bright eyes blazed with furious defiance and shame. Then, at last, the old man turned away, waving his hand in a curt gesture of dismissal.
   The two men rushed her out, still in her nakedness, forcing her protesting legs to move hurriedly, easily thwarting her attempts to bend down to retrieve the torn remnants of her clothes. The evening air was already chilled, but she was grateful to be out from that impure tent, again beneath the stars that she knew and loved. Perhaps now it was over, although her mind could see no reason for this strange interlude. What obscure purpose did it have for her to be paraded in this debasing manner of exposure?
   Perhaps it was just one of the mysteries of life that her mother had warned her of. Now she would be able to return home and embrace the familiarity of her mundane life, to delight again in her cosy surroundings, now that her nakedness had been revealed. No more would it be that exclusive domain for her eyes to linger upon its reflection in the pond as she washed in the early sunlight of each new day. Perhaps it had been some strange ritual to mark – in some way that was beyond her understanding – the passing of her innocent youth, and her transition into womanly maturity. Had she not so recently discovered that such newfound maturity came often shockingly to those lingering traces of innocence? Even those cosy surroundings of familiarity and departing childhood held deceptive shadows, darkened by the newness of maturity. Learning often came with such numbing abruptness.
   But there was no time for such thoughts. As she was pushed from the tent and came into the firelight she could see three mounted figures not far from her. She recognised them instantly, her spirits rising, and she called out earnestly and with impetuous joy. ‘Father! My brothers! I am here, wait for me!’
   But in that fleeting instant, that now made tears well up in her eyes each time she remembered that hateful moment, her father and brothers looked back at her, unsmiling, expressionless, as if she was as inconsequential as an unwanted lamb left for slaughter. Why were they leaving without her? Was this a game to be played in completion of the ritual?
   She wanted to run to them even in her nakedness, thinking they would cover her and pull her up to ride with them, and laugh and tease her panic and dry her tears. But still her captors restrained her, holding her arms tightly, and she saw the leather pouch being handed up to her father.
   There was a dreadful dawning of untenable thoughts in her mind. The stepfather whom she trusted and loved as her own true father, bent down and took the pouch that jangled with heaviness. Examining the contents briefly, and without a word or a backward glance, he turned his mule by the reins and rode away into the night, and disbelieving, her eyes bright with newly brimming tears, she watched her brothers turn and follow.
   Before they reached the rim of light from the crackling fire, she saw her younger brother turn briefly. His eyes, sad but resigned, caught hers. Then abruptly he turned away from her… the sister with whom he had laughed and slept beside, and shared their mother’s bread. Had it not been he whom she reached to for comfort in the night when the wolves howled, inseparable in their fraternity? Now he was gone into the shadows, and at the very moment of that bitter realisation Nassara screamed, a piercing scream of dreadful realisation, of horror, and of lonely fear.
   The men threw her down violently onto the ground, the grit biting into her face. For a second she grovelled there, spitting out the grains of sand, until she felt hands around both her ankles. Then she was being pulled, facedown, over the ground, her nipples dragging painfully against the rough texture, her long hair brushing it as she was drawn along, her hands scrabbling uselessly at the dirt. She heard men laughing as she passed. Roughly she was pushed into the silent tent, the men releasing her then, pointing to the bundle of fur wraps on the floor. It was as if the sad bundle had been there for her all along, knowing she would come to it. At least she could tuck herself away, warm in her isolated misery and confusion, and sob her heart out in the darkness.
   After a while she slept fitfully, until she fell into a deep stupor from which she had no desire ever to awake.

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