Bewildering Stories

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I Get My Caresses
from the Blood of My Victims

by Rachel Parsons

Table of Contents
Part 2 appeared
in issue 148.

part 3 of 4

I composed myself by slapping my thighs and squeezing my arms around my breasts before entering the reception chamber. “Okay, Rhiannon, you can do this.” I had admired the women from the land of women my whole life. During my whore days, I had wished I had their strength, and it had been their inspiration which had helped me conquer the Dyvedians, avenge my honor, and drive their allies, the Terran military, off our world.

She was six foot six, light brown hair down to her waist. She was in a tunic, with open laced boots. She was sixty, but looked forty. Unlike most mortal women, her breasts had neither sunk nor dropped at that age. She reminded me of my late mother, Modron.

“Rhiannon!” She smiled at me. “Come let me look at you, child.”

I came up to her like a little girl. “You are a fine woman, Rhiannon.”

“Thank you, ma'am.” I would have curtsied, except that is really silly looking when you're naked.

“Don't call me, ma'am. That is unseemly. You who are to be high queen. High queen. In the land of men. If this had happened in ancient times, we may never have had to leave the world of men.”

“You are welcome here, now.”

“Tell me, do you get much grief because you are a woman?”

“Oh, more than you know. But that's largely because I am cursed, and have to display my beauty. Men still want to take advantage of me, even though they know it could mean their deaths.”

She laughed. “And they always will. I don't know what I'd do in your condition, but you bear your embarrassment well.”

I bowed my head. “I do now, but it hasn't always been such.” It was partly a lie. I don't bear it well now, either. But I wanted Perthesileia to think highly of me.

“I know. When I held the dispatches about your shame in my hand, I thought to raise an army to help you.”

“Why didn't you?”

“Because by the time we had debated what to do, and had gotten consensus, you had already driven your foe to his knees. I am sorry that we are sometimes so slow to react. But you must know this; you get a group of women together and they will not be able to agree on the shape of the meeting table, much less whether to go to war.”

“Some men are like that too,” I said.

“You would know,” she said. “You have to work with them every day. Oh, this is such a nice palace. And such nice grounds. Do you hunt in them frequently?”

That brought me back to my guilt. I flushed and said, “Sometimes.”

“You must take me on a hunt. I'll be forever grateful to you.” Her eyes sparkled.

“It'll be my pleasure.” My planning for this moment having gone awry didn't take away from the honor of hunting with the greatest woman huntress of our world.

“Why don't we do so this afternoon? I've brought my own special game. I think you will enjoy it. Where can we go so we can have a private gaming?”

“The northern side of the preserve has little game. You can have your own game there.”

“Splendid. Have one of your servants direct me. What time can we do this?”

I glanced at the grandfather clock in the hall. “In about two hours.”

“How wonderful.”

We met two hours later. On my side was the same group that had been with me on the ill fated morning hunt. Perthesileia had her attendants; warrior women in tunics, with swords dangling by their sides, and quivers full of arrows. They looked at me with disdain. Whether it was because I was naked, or because they doubted my ability as a warrior, I couldn't tell.

Perthesileia snapped her fingers, and out of her carriage came four women carrying a cage. Her special game. With hardly a grunt, they carried it to where she and I were standing. Only the deep bend of their knees indicated how heavy the animal in the cage must have been. Then they unveiled it.

I gasped. Inside the cage was a young man, naked, quivering, about the same age as my victim.

“Perthesileia, this is outrageous. How could you think I would countenance such a sport?”

“Don't you hunt humans here? I heard that you did. Only that, since this is the land of men, it is women that are the hunted. I thought you might find this a refreshing change. I am sorry if I have offended you.” But I could tell from her tone, she was far from sorry. She was upset instead at my rejection of her 'special game.'

I raised my hand. “I am sorry to have snapped at you. At one time I might have enjoyed this sport. But I was a prostitute, and men hunt whores for their sport. There for the grace of the goddesses go I,” I said pointing at the frightened man.

“I see. Well, then, I guess I have no choice but to release him.” She turned to her warriors. “Girls, it seems I made a terrible error in judgment. Rhiannon here does not like this kind of sport.” There was an 'ohhhhh' of disappointment that went through her entourage. They glanced at me with ill concealed hate. I had spoiled their fun.

“I am giving our prey to her to do with as she wishes,” Perthesileia said. “And I trust that she will find a sport that will test our mettle as warriors just as much,” she added as a challenge. I felt my hospitality being insulted.

I felt a twisting of my arm. Zusanna, in woman form, was smiling at me. “I could arrange something, darling Rhiannon. Something that would amuse both my pack and your guest. And compensate us for your refusal to give us the carcass of the intruder this morning.”

“You mean you'd let them hunt you?” I knew what she was up to and I didn't like it. Werewolves don't let you hunt them, unless it is really you that they are hunting.

But Perthesileia overheard that. “This one, she can arrange a hunt?” If she wondered where Zusanna had suddenly popped in from, or what had happened to my lupine companion, her eyes didn't show it.

“Perthesileia, it will be too dangerous. Zusanna is a werewolf. If you hunt her pack, it will really be you that they are hunting.”

But that got Perthesileia inflamed. “That couldn't compete with hunting for men, but it will have to do.” She turned around. “Girls, do you want to go on a werewolf hunt?”

They talked among themselves. “Of course, your majesty. But what is this kind of game? What is a werewolf?” one, obviously the girls' spokesperson, asked.

“Only the most interesting game in the world,” Zusanna said, practically purring. “I will have them ready in half an hour.” Zusanna exited to the woods.

“Perthesileia, this is wrong. Your women will not survive this.”

“Being used by men has made you weak, Rhiannon. I pity you. I thought you would be worthy of the honorific 'woman,' when I decided to honor you. But you are still nothing more than the plaything to men you became in New Dyved. The women who opposed helping you were right. I am sorry I came this long way to find this out. From now on, we real women will refer to you simply as 'Toy,' as that is what you are. A toy for men. But watch, Toy, and see how real women go about things.” She ordered her girls to bear their arms. I was still suffering from the hurtful things she said to dissuade her any more.

“They'll die in there,” Arianrhod said.

“Serves them right for the nasty things she said to you,” Rosalyn said.

“No one deserves what Zusanna's pack will do to them,” I responded, even though still feeling hurt from what the queen of the women had said to me.

“Can you persuade Zusanna to call it off?” Branwen asked.

I shook my head. “It is part of my bond with her. She will kill for me, but I must allow her the right to kill for her pack too. I can persuade her to lay off my subjects without my permission. But Perthesileia and her women are not my subjects. I can only stand here and watch, as she said.”

“But you will stand here as a woman,” Rosalyn said. “Not as a whore, as she alleged. You will shed tears for them. You are Rhiannon; not 'Toy.'”

“Yes, I am Rhiannon and I will shed tears for them.” I held on to Rosalyn's arm.

But I didn't just stand around, and there would be time to shed tears when the screaming began. Instead, I decided to interrogate the naked man who had been released to me. I didn't think it could be a coincidence that a naked man had been running through my grounds this morning, and Perthesileia had wanted to release another this afternoon.

It wasn't. The man, whose name was Franklin, talked to me. This was after he peed out of fear when I approached him. My disgust must have shown on my face, because he got down on his knees, crouching in his own urine, and clasped his hands for forgiveness.

“Stand up, sir. Be a man.” But I was secretly delighted that it had been a man who was suffering this indignity. The kind of indignity that the girls on my corner and I had suffered. I had wet myself cringing in front of cruel men many a time.

He got up, holding his hands in front of his male organ. “Please, mighty mistress, do not punish me. I deserve no less, I know, for offending thee, but please, please...”

Oh, this was so righteous. I had to rub my face, and turn away from him grinning, before I continued. “Right now what I want from you is information.”

“Anything, mighty mistress. Anything.” Goewyn giggled at that. I glared at her. She smothered her smile, but uselessly, as it kept cropping up during the interview.

“Do you know a James?” I described James to him.

“Yes, he shared my cage until this morning. The mighty mistress, whose name I am not worthy to speak, released him for practice this morning. She wanted to be sure she would beat you, oh mighty mistress. And forgive me for suggesting that anyone could beat you, oh, mighty one.”

A girl could get used to this groveling. “I see. And who is Priscilla?” He was about to answer when the screaming began. Perthesileia's girls weren't going to go silently, that was for sure. The screams were loud, and horrible, and high pitched. They screamed like someone had reached down into the pit of their womanhood, and, with spiked gloves, were digging at them from the inside out. I had heard women scream like that at Farrell's court when women prisoners had their bellies opened up and live cats sown inside them. As the cats clawed to get out of their confinement, they women hollered and hollered and hollered. I hope to the goddesses I don't hear screams like that again any time soon. Franklin swooned from the sound of it.

“He lacks balls, doesn't he?” Arianrhod sniffed.

“Oh, that's not true, Arianrhod. I thought he had very nice testicles. And his penis was nice and long,” Goewyn burbled. Arianrhod and I just looked at each other.

Nothing was found of Perthesileia or her girls, not even their tunics. Zusanna, of course, is tight lipped about the whole subject. I sighed. This would probably mean a visit to the land of the women. When you kill the monarch of a land, you have little choice but to take it over. It was the war with New Dyved all over again. This I would do after my coronation as high queen.

For now, I needed to do more interrogation of poor, scared, naked Franklin. I decided to have as much fun doing this as I could. When he woke, he found himself on a waterwheel. I could dunk him if he displeased me, or even if I simply pleased to do it. After testing the chains, he realized this.

I answered his unspoken question. “In case you pee on yourself again. Or in case I just get bored with you.”

“Yes, mighty mistress.”

“I do like the way you talk. Well, Franklin...”

“I am not worthy to have a name, mighty mistress.”

I dunked him. “Don't interrupt me again, Franklin.”

“Yes, mighty mistress.” I dunked him again. This was getting to be too much fun.

“Or speak unless spoken to.” He kept silent. “Good. You're learning. Now, Franklin, before your unmanly swoon, you were going to tell me who Priscilla was.”

“James always talked about her. I think they were going to be married before Mistress Perthesileia captured him.”

“And how did she capture him?”

“It was during the war. His flying machine, I think he called it a shuttle, was thrown off course and he found himself among the mistresses. He resisted them, at first, as we all do. But he soon was housebroken like we all are.”

I felt sorry for him. “Were you cruelly treated?” I asked.

“Yes, mighty one.”

I was beginning to feel guilty about inspiring this fawning. Even the men who took me in New Dyved hadn't expected that. But that may be the difference between men and women. Men don't care about their sex slaves one way or the other; they just want to use you. Women want complete domination. Like Alcippe. Like Perthesileia.

“Well, you won't be here. Once I get what I need from you, I will release you. You will be free to go.”

“Go? Go where? You aren't just going to toss me out, naked on the streets. How will I survive?”

I shook at that. Started crying.

“I did not mean to make you cry, oh mighty mistress.”

“Shut up; just, shut up.” I left him on his water wheel, went and got Arianrhod. “You interrogate him. Find all you can about James and Pricilla. Then release him and give him to Elfrod for training.”

“What happened, Rhiannon? I thought you wanted to interrogate him yourself.”

“I can't do this. He reminds me too much of me in New Dyved. You must do it, Arianrhod. You must.” I went to my bedchambers and spent the rest of the afternoon sobbing.

James Watson and Pricilla Montgomery were to have been married but then the war started and he was called to duty. I found this out from letters in Perthesileia's personal possession. They were well thumbed, but I expect not by him. From what Franklin said, she'd read them over and over again to James while he was in his cage, and then make him eat her feces. After each bite, he would be made to say, “This is Pricilla I'm eating. For I am not worthy of the love of a woman.”

It made me feel less guilty about killing him. After what Perthesileia did to him, death had been a kindness. He had been broken, humiliated, and dominated by her. No wonder the valkyries were having trouble mending his soul. I shuddered, and thanked the goddesses that my enemy, who had dominated and humiliated me, had been Alcippe. After she had taken from me my entire life, and taken it as hers, she had just cast me out as garbage. She hadn't tried to destroy me.

She had enjoyed my humiliation, but it had been a means to an end. For the queen of the land of the women, the humiliation and domination of men was what life was all about. According to Franklin, the women there raid nearby kingdoms, take boys from their fathers, and raise them to be slaves. After they sire more slaves or more women, they are then used as Perthesileia had used James and Franklin. When they are used up, then they become the subjects of a hunt. By that time, they are capable of offering little resistance to the women who come after them.

I was going to have to track down Priscilla Montgomery, offer her some fantasy version of what had happened to her man, and then, when I went to conquer Perthesileia's kingdom, free the men from their bondage. I, who had been abused by men, was going to have to be the liberator of men. One of the many ironies of my life.

Proceed to part 4...

Copyright © 2005 by Rachel Parsons

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