Roberta finished going over in her mind the painful experiences that she had undergone since leaving Philippa and Rodolfo at the bandit's cave. It had certainly been a very unpleasant few months one way and another. She looked down at her body and saw the horrible scars the Town Tormentor's white hot irons had given her, just as the equally unpleasant burns from her first spell under torture had begin to fade. And she felt her still tender back and all the ridges and furrows there where she had been flogged without mercy so many times, the last such occasion being only a couple of days ago. It wasn't much of a life, really!
The closer she was to the Palace, the greater the danger of capture. Word must have reached the King's men by now of her approach. Several times the two of them had hidden while parties of soldiers had ridden past. It was easier to hide now that both girls were on foot. The horse had been left behind at the last town. The noble beast was now the property of Amelia and the Ladies' League for Truth and Decency.
How she hated Amelia! And how she loathed the contemptible Alfonso! Those two had better watch out once she was restored to favour! If she ever was restored to favour, of course! That was hardly guaranteed!
Then she tensed as she heard about a dozen riders approaching. As usual the phenomenally sharp eared Roberta heard these sounds long before Paula did.
"Hide, Paula! I Another search party - I think," she warned her friend.
The couple quickly hid themselves behind some bushes. But Paula saw who the riders were and nudged her companion in the ribs. (Or where she judged Roberta's ribs to be under all those ridges of muscle.)
"It's Rodolfo, darling! These are friends!"
Paula had told Roberta about her meeting in the woods with two of Rodolfo's men. She had encountered them while the naked girl was still hard at work and sore from the latest flogging. It had pleased Roberta to think that the bandit leader still thought about her. She didn't believe that Philippa had been following every detail of her sufferings with the aid of a magic crystal. It was odd that the old woman could keep so well informed, though. But carrier pigeons seemed a more likely explanation.
Roberta's continuing scepticism continued to imperil her chances of regaining her lost reputation. But the silly girl would persist in her course of wilful disbelief! Would nothing convince her?
The girls came out and greeted the riders. Rodolfo dismounted and embraced Roberta. It seemed to Paula that the lusty bandit leader took a little longer over this salutation than mere social politeness might dictate! She could hardly blame him, though. Roberta was more magnificent to look at by the day! The pair did make a handsome couple, being both tall, fair haired and strong.
Roberta must have thought somewhat along these lines herself, for she made absolutely no effort to disengage herself from Rodolfo's embrace. On the contrary she was visibly responding and pulling him closer to her naked body with those very powerful arms. Finally she kissed him with extreme passion on the mouth and Paula sighed to herself. She could see just where this was going!
She wandered off to find the two men she had met in the woods more than six weeks ago.
"Hi, you guys," she said. "Thanks for coming to Roberta's rescue - a couple of days too late! But I knew it was no use interfering. I think she and your boss like each other!"
As Paula spoke, an obviously willing Roberta was being led away behind a conveniently large bush - the one behind which the two girls had just sheltered. She smiled at the two bandits.
"I suppose you boys get a bit sex-starved with the life you lead! Always out rampaging about the country. Fancy taking out your suppressed desires on me, while your leader fucks the arse off my lover? I can take twenty different cocks from twenty strong and rough men in a night and still be craving for more! My stamina has been described as phenomenal! How's about it, guys?"
Paula was amazed to see the fear on both men's faces. They shook their heads in refusal of her offer. It would seem that there was more to the arrival of Rodolfo's men than merely a wish to preserve Roberta's flesh from further torment.
"You are not for the likes of us, Lady Paula. We can only assume that you were joking! Any man laying a finger on you would be risking his life. We are here to protect you, not to make love to you!"
"Lady Paula? Who told you I was a Lady! I'm just a parlour maid, really. Once I was Roberta's plaything, then I became the King's toy (though he never laid a finger on me, apart from pinching my sweet little bottom - such a gentleman).
"It is the King who has made you a Lady!" replied the taller of the two men. "He still seeks the traitor Roberta to have her flogged, tortured and branded before being permanently shackled and returned to Hell Island, but you are still high in his favour. When Rodolfo has finished his pleasure with Roberta, he will escort you to the Palace and a future as a Great Lady."
"And what about Roberta? Rodolfo's not taking her back to go through all that unpleasantness, I hope!"
"We will not return your friend to captivity, Paula, but in future Roberta will be on her own. Rodolfo has told the King's men of Roberta's innocence, but he was not believed. You must come with us and Roberta will walk the land alone, naked and friendless, to survive as best she can."
Paula was excited to think of the prosperous future that seemed to lie ahead of her, while at the same time sad to have to leave Roberta. But she hadn't seen all that much of her Mistress these last few months. They would have some exciting times together on the road and then they would inevitably be involved in some escapade which usually seemed to involve Roberta being flogged, put in prison and given hard labour of some kind or other. While all this boring nonsense was going on, Paula would have to kick her heels for a few weeks, admittedly in reasonably comfortable conditions. But before the pair went their separate ways, she must have a long conversation with her former Mistress and lover. There were things Roberta needed to know.
Because her back was still very sore, Roberta lay on top as she and Rodolfo made love. Despite her being a Golden Guard and a lover of her own sex, she was not a virgin, having been enjoyed by several men in her time. If Rodolfo had hoped that his noble cock was to be the first to penetrate the muscle goddess's remarkable cunt, he was disappointed.
The couple lay together for some minutes after a very hurried and almost brutal love making. Rodolfo had a very large member and it had more than satisfied even the well endowed Roberta. Roberta spoke first, a little breathlessly. That had been good!
"Great fuck! Thanks a million! I take it that was the sugar on the pill, Rodolfo? First the good news and then the bad?"
"Was I good, Roberta? I'd value a commendation from you more than from all my many other rapturously satisfied lovers put together. It goes without saying that you were utterly terrific! What a crying shame that you prefer making love to women! And - yes. I do have a bit of bad news for you. Smart girl to cotton on!"
"You were among the three men who gave me most satisfaction, Rodolfo. Now can we get to the point?"
"Considering you have known so few men in a sexual sense, Roberta, that is hardly an outstanding compliment! But I fear I shall have to be satisfied with that faint praise! Since we last met, I have been in negotiation with the Royal government. I am sure you will rejoice to hear that I and my men have been pardoned for our former crimes and are now His Majesty's loyal subjects."
"I am happy for you. It pleases me to think that you are loyal like me. For I too am loyal to the King. Despite his seeking me to have me horribly punished, I still live only to serve him."
"But he doesn't seem to realise this! To him you are a traitor. We have told him of your ordeal by whipping and how Philippa pronounced so favourably on the purity of your copiously shed blood. It may be that his mind will change in time, but he tends not to believe in seers like Philippa. He is a very modern man and has been infected by all manner of dangerous modern ideas."
Rodolfo paused here to make love to Roberta again. For the rest of his days he would boast of his double entry into that most sweet and succulent of cunts. When he had finished, to the entire satisfaction of both, he continued.
"The King misses Paula very badly. He wants her back at court and has made her a Lady. The Queen is very sick of late and her days are thought to be numbered. Paula may well be Queen before the year is out. So we will escort your little friend and helper to the King's presence and you will be left to survive on your own as well as you can. Perhaps you should put clothes on, Roberta, and flee the country in disguise."
"That would be the coward's way out, Rodolfo. I am not a coward. One day I will be restored. I would sooner die the most horrible of deaths in my own country than live in wealth and comfort in another. You believe in my innocence. Why are you casting me to the wolves like this?"
"I'm looking after Number One, Roberta. You wouldn't understand, having been brought up on a diet of total selflessness and loyalty to the King. Good luck, Roberta. Although I shall not lift a finger to help, I wish you well. Paula has some words to have with you before I escort her to the Palace."
"It's so nice to see you again, Paula. Now that my wife is ill and dying, I am very lonely. She doesn't know me these days. It breaks my heart to see the poor lady the way she is. But your sweet bottom has lifted my spirits a little already! It looks a little red. Have you been caned lately?"
"No, your Majesty! Worse luck! My Mistress, the traitor Roberta, used to cane me, but stopped doing so more than a month ago. There was a misunderstanding in a place called Rockwell Green and they tortured her horribly for seven days until I was able to straighten things out. Poor thing!"
"Let us not talk of Roberta! If you know what is good for you, my sweet little bubble bottomed Paula, you will forget all about Roberta."
Paula obediently forgot her friend's existence from that moment onwards. It was her plain duty to her Sovereign as well as the way to continue enjoying a wealthy lifestyle, which she already liked far too much to put in jeopardy!
There was one drawback, however, to this new life of wealth and high social status. The King insisted on the Lady Paula being naked at all times. He kept the Palace well heated, which was just as well considering the severity of the winter this year. But the place was inclined to be draughty and every now and again a stray blast of icy cold air would bring the King's naked favourite out in goose flesh. He would laugh jovially to see her shiver, but she failed to see the joke.
But she dined well, had plenty of excellent musicians to play the latest songs to her and life soon began to get pretty good. The Queen continued to sink into the grave, although with tiresome slowness. When she was Queen herself, Paula would nag her new husband into letting her wear the fine clothes all the other Ladies seemed to be covered with and she would personally choose a pretty parlour maid to be the King's nude toy, after which she would have the heating turned down to save money!
The only members of the Golden Guard that Paula saw these days were the two in constant attendance on the King. These were still Rosemary and Charlotte. Since the incident involving Anna's death and Roberta's disgrace there had been no more trouble. The passage through with the intruders had got into the apartments had been blocked up and guards doubled throughout the Palace complex. But not even a whisper of a fresh plot had been detected.
She would sometimes look out of the window overlooking the Palace Yard of an evening and see the daily disciplinary floggings being administered. Bertha was getting flogged a lot these days, after having been given an easy time for a while. But her lashes were few in number and usually delivered by the smallest of the Guard and never that well laid on. Any one flogging Roberta that lightly would have felt the lash on her own back for going easy!
All of this total lack of serious trouble only served to make the King and his advisers more convinced of Roberta's guilt than ever. But it was odd, thought His Majesty from time to time, that Roberta's activities while on the road with Paula, had been so commendable. Could it be that the woman had repented and was trying to make amends for the great wrong she had done? Or was that crazy old Philippa right about her?
The hardy Golden Guard soon adjusted to life without Paula. Rodolfo had forced her to hand over her sword to him as a condition of his not surrendering her to the Royal police, but she had her bow, so hunting was no problem. She also had a very useful pair of hands and feet to keep any would be attackers at bay and send them packing with more than just a flea in their ear!
Six weeks passed and she was wondering if life as a lone huntress was quite such a bad thing! Without the luxury loving and delicate Paula, Roberta had no need to visit civilised settlements any longer, and her back remained unpunished for all this time. The scars from Alfonso's last frenzied whipping had begun to fade a little and she had almost forgotten what it was like to be tied up helplessly and tormented at the whipping post.
The winter was appalling this year and even Roberta was happy to seek out a cave in the mountains and spend much of her time looking out at the utter desolation below. She must venture out to slay the odd animal, but restricted her ventures to the minimum.
Paula had told her to hold her fire until the weather improved before making a move and so she waited patiently for the sign that would let her know it was time to bring her long disgrace and exile to an end. Roberta trusted Paula. And Paula had done one last favour for her former Mistress before her Royal master's instruction to forget her. But Paula had then obeyed that instruction. Roberta was history now!
Finally the spring made a belated appearance, the snows began to melt and the naked Golden Guard came out of hibernation.
She looked across the valley beneath her winter hideaway. The plume of blue smoke appeared over the isolated copse in the midst of the Clearwater Meadows.
It took Roberta five hours to reach the signal fire and she was exhausted when she finally arrived. The snow might be melting, but the ground was wet and muddy, every step being an effort as she sank into deep mire every inch of the way. It was a filthy, muddy and dishevelled Roberta who staggered into the clearing to meet the one who was to get her inside the Palace.
Not one, but three people were waiting for her. One was an old woman, squatting over a heated cauldron. Obviously another witch, like Philippa. The other two were young women and as naked as Roberta. These two girls pointed at an upright post in the centre of the clearing. It was clear that Roberta was expected to stand near this post, which was as tall as she and with a cross bar near the top. It bore a disturbing resemblance to a whipping post. What was it with these cursed witches?
The old woman looked up from her cauldron. Roberta doubted that she was preparing some nice nutritious broth! She tried not to think about just what horrible ingredients had gone towards this particular witches brew! It smelt like nothing she had ever smelled before - not even in high summer when downwind of the latrines!
"You may like to come over here, Golden Guard Roberta," said the elderly lady, apparently countermanding her youthful acolytes' order to go over to the whipping post. Seeing the relief in Roberta's face, she cackled horribly.
"Don't worry, my dear! You'll get your whipping soon enough!! Now come here! AT ONCE!!"
Roberta obeyed, a tingling between her shoulder blades in anticipation of yet another application of the whip. The old witch pointed at a glass ball which reposed on the ground, next to the cauldron.
"Look into the crystal, Roberta! Look and see what you shall see!"
"I see the King and I see Paula. She is naked and His Majesty is pinching her bottom! Now I see the Commandant and Bertha. They are in bed and Bertha is being fist fucked - horrible!"
"Horrible, my arse," growled the witch. "Don't tell me you haven't done the same in your time. Hypocrite!"
"Bertha and I did exactly that! It's not the act so much as the thought that the Commandant is having such relations with an ordinary Guard. That is why I am horrified. I'm not a hypocrite, Mother whatever your name is."
"I am Mother Felicity! Mother of the Golden Guard who whipped you so well and so often during the days of your foolishness and indiscipline!"
"How is Felicity? She was almost as strong as me, you know! A whipping from her really hurt! I hope she is well!"
"She is very well indeed, Roberta and one day soon you will meet her again, though not at the punishment post, you will be relieved to hear!"
"Why am I to be whipped today? And who is to whip me?"
"Questions, questions, Roberta! One day you will have that simple faith which accepts the wisdom of such as us without quibbling! Go over to the tent and inside you will find a selection of whips. Choose the two that you consider most suitable for my assistants to use on you and hand them to the two young lovelies!"
Mother Felicity cackled. Elderly witches did a lot of cackling. They were famous for it!
"They are lovely are they not, Roberta? Lovely and desirable! You desire them, don't you? And you shall have them, Roberta! You shall taste the lovely juices that ooze from each of those ripe cunts - like honey only sweeter by far! You shall enjoy them both soon enough. But first, it is necessary that you be whipped by them until they are too tired to raise their arms any more!"
"I suppose I am not allowed to whip them after they have whipped me?"
"If you wish. Why ever not! But you are a strong and experienced Amazon, the veteran of many battles. Your warrior's body is scarred from a hundred fights and many whippings. They are young and pure with ivory white and silky smooth skin. Their bodies are slight and willowy. Could you really wish to scarify such delicate beauty?"
Roberta looked at the young witches and her heart softened towards the pair, despite the fact that they were about to chastise her. She hung her head abjectly. It would indeed be a crime to mar such delicate beauty.
"You are so right, Mother Felicity! I could not raise a hand against them and would fight anyone who wished them harm!"
Both girls looked happy and smiled bewitchingly at the blonde giantess. Roberta looked at their pale faces with those black eyes and blacker hair. Her experienced eye ran down the length of those glorious bodies - those twin temples of sweet seduction! How she desired them! But first she must be whipped. Roberta went inside the tent and saw an array of whips. She chose the two with the thickest, heaviest and longest lashes, not knowing why she did so.
"You have chosen well, Roberta! For your last flogging you have picked the whips that will slice that hide to ribbons! I salute you, brave Roberta!"
Roberta handed them to the two young women, who were called Amy and Celestine. She was then tied to the post, so tightly that even with her enormous strength she could not move her arms an inch. Then the first lash landed, cutting her transversely across her whole back and drawing blood from a deep cut. The second followed a second later and the agony from both slashes was like the pains of Hell itself. Roberta had never known such pain as that inflicted by the witches' whips, wielded by those deceptively strong young enchantresses. For even Roberta, with her prodigious strength, could not have struck with such colossal force. She had never cried out before and knew that she must maintain her composure now, under the most horrible flogging of her life.
Seventy times each naked young witch laid her fearsome whip upon her torn back, methodically crisscrossing it in a horrible fashion. After seventy apiece they were as tireless as at the start. This demon possessed pair would never tire. They would rip every piece of flesh from her back and lay bare her ribs before they finished. Roberta kept silent and finally lost consciousness.
"How does Roberta feel?"
She opened her eyes and saw the old woman standing over her. The naked girls stood on either side of the old witch and all were smiling down at Roberta as she lay on a comfortable couch out in the open with the now empty whipping post a few yards away. She looked at the ground and saw it was covered with blood. Warrior blood. Her blood.
"I feel well. Better than I can ever remember feeling! But I should be dead! Your two delectable assistants must have killed me!"
"Get up, Roberta and come with us!"
Felicity led the wondering Roberta over to the tent and sent the two young witches inside. They came out, each bearing a large looking glass. One stood in front of Roberta and the other behind. She stared at her back in total astonishment. She fainted with shock at the sight of it. It bore not a mark! Her skin was as soft and silky as the day she first joined the Golden Guard as a twelve year old oblate!
When she woke up the two young witches were lying next to her, one on each side. For three hours Roberta tasted the charms and delights of first one body and then the other. Every word Mother Felicity had uttered concerning the sweetness of those magical beings was correct! Finally she fell into a deep sleep.
In the morning she woke up to find herself alone in the clearing. None of the three witches were around. The cauldron was gone, along with the tent and the whipping post. Not a drop of blood was to be seen at the spot where she had been flogged so painfully the day before. She felt her back and the scars from many whippings were still reassuringly there! But she felt no pain and was totally healed after that last hellish flogging - if it had really happened!
It must have happened. The memory was fresh in her mind and she felt her blood freeze as she called to mind the horror of the whole episode. How she had kept quiet under such torment she would never know. It had certainly required every ounce of her famous courage and self-control. Roberta was glad, however, that her back was still scarred. If she ever did rejoin the Golden Guard she would be very conspicuous without the marks of at least one flogging on her! The embarrassment would be shaming.
And the old witch, Mother Felicity, had said that the worst and latest punishment had also been her last. She hoped this was true! For a girl of just over twenty-one she had endured more pain in the last couple of years than most people get to experience in a lifetime. It was time to take things easy! She felt tired this morning, after making love to those incredibly sexy witches the night before; otherwise she might not have felt as she did about future punishments, which could hardly be ruled out in the harsh world of the Golden Guards, to which she devoutly wished to return.
Roberta looked around for her bow and arrow. It was time to shoot and cook some breakfast. But there was no sign of them. All she had was herself - her naked self and a vast expanse of deserted country.
Since there appeared to be nothing further to detain her around here she started walking the last few miles towards the Palace. Paula had told her, before leaving her a few months ago, that she should leave the witches' wood and make for the lake a mile from the Palace complex. There was a small island in the middle of this stretch of water and she was to swim out to it and wait until nightfall.
The three witches, one elderly and foul of visage and the others young and of surpassing, if dark, beauty, watched her leave the enchanted wood. The silly girl might think her troubles over, but they knew better! Amy and Celeste followed, disguised as birds of ill omen, and Felicity stayed behind. Roberta saw the hovering and swooping birds overhead and wished she had something to shoot them with. Amy and her friend sensed this and started diving on their victim and lover of the night before, pecking at her body and drawing blood from a dozen deep cuts. Roberta knew who they were and sank to her knees.
"My friends! I am sorry. Please forgive me! Whip me again if you wish. Do what you will if only I can share a bed with you both again soon!"
Both witches ceased their attacks and Roberta was able to continue, although her cuts still hurt from where the sharp beaks had torn deep into her flesh.
At the summit of a low hill Roberta caught a glimpse of the wide and deep lake, and the familiar shape of the King's Palace a short distance away from it. Paula had been insistent that she swim across to it and Roberta, by this time, was not about to go against the little girl's wishes. The experience with the three witches, what she saw in the crystal and the miraculous healing after such a horrible flogging all showed the former sceptic the error of her ways.
Because Roberta was a Believer at last! How sad that some people only come to belief the hard way! Paula had always been a believer and she was now a Lady. Roberta, the sceptic, had gone through one horror after another and her ordeal was not over yet. There is a moral here!
The spring might have arrived, but the lake was fed by streams coming straight from the surrounding mountains where the snow still lay heavy. Some pieces of ice still floated on the surface. It might be clear enough of ice for a swimmer to make her way to the island, but she would be frozen before she got half way there - except that Roberta was no ordinary woman.
She walked straight into the water until it was up to her waist and launched herself towards the island. Even one as toughened by nearly a decade of naked exposure to the coldest of cold weather could not suppress a gasp as the cold enveloped her strong body.
Roberta knew something about the coming swim! She must swim three times around the island, keeping well away from the shore before she set foot upon it. No one had ever told her this. Paula had merely said that she must swim out to the Island and wait. But fresh instructions were coming from somewhere all the time. There was no voice telling her what to do, but she knew all the same.
Thirty yards from the shore, Roberta turned to the right and began to swim anti-clockwise around the tiny wooded island. A large fish was between Roberta and her goal. The girl knew that the sea beast would not allow her to get any closer until her three circuits had been completed. Her fingers and toes started to hurt first. But gradually the cold crept further and further up her arms and legs and her chest was gripped by an agonising iciness.
The cold finally took over her whole body and even the hardy Roberta knew that life was ebbing out of her. She still had one circuit to complete. On one side of her a large fish blocked further progress to the island and on the other, a companion fish stopped her making back for the lake shore.
Finally, just as she was ready to die from the extreme cold and a tiredness that was more profound than anything she had ever experienced even in the fiercest and most prolonged of battles, she was free to swim the few yards to the island. She dragged herself onto the narrow beach with what strength still remaining and lay seemingly lifeless on the white sand.
Naked and frozen Roberta lay semiconscious on the little island's white sandy beach after her swim in icy cold water. She lay there for nearly an hour, more dead than alive, until feeling slowly started to come back into her numbed body, beginning at the tips of her fingers and toes and hurting terribly, but showing her that she was still alive.
As soon as she was able, she got to her feet and walked towards the centre of the island. This spot was high enough for Roberta to see the Palace and into the courtyard. It was evening now and three defaulting Golden Guards were being led to the whipping post to receive whatever award their carelessness had earned them today. She felt a lump in her throat and tears in her eyes at this reminder of a life that she was still exiled from. Why was she not lined up with all the rest to watch a fellow Guard being whipped? Come to that, why was she not being whipped herself? Anything was better than being out in the cold as she was. Then a soft warm hand touched her thick and sinewy upper arm.
She looked round and saw Celestine standing just behind her. The young witch looked so utterly lovely that Roberta went down on her knees and kissed her pretty delicate feet. Celestine patted her head gently and told her to get up.
"It is I who should be kneeling, Roberta! Strong Roberta, brave Roberta and darling Roberta!"
"Where is Amy? Still swimming around the island to keep intruders away?" asked Roberta, about ten minutes later, as she briefly drew back her head from a long and utterly wonderful kiss. She had never imagined, until meeting these two witches, that mouths and tongues could be so soft and so warm or that their waters could be so intoxicatingly sweet to the taste.
"Yes! Now go on kissing me! Hold me tight, my darling and kiss and kiss and kiss me," said Celestine with a mixture of the imperious and the pleading. Roberta obeyed for a minute longer and then pushed the eager, open mouthed Celestine away with extreme gentleness but very firmly.
"Who are the three Golden Guards being punished tonight, my sweet Celestine? Upon what errant backs is the lash falling with such terrible force? It is too far away for me to see clearly."
"One is Bertha, your former lover and your betrayer, who was given twelve lashes - far less than the stupid cow deserves. The other two are new since you left. They are Rachel and Frances. Today is a great day for them! They are getting thirty apiece and it is their first punishment since joining. For three months they have not made a single mistake and now the inevitable has happened! They will neither of them find it easy to keep quiet today! For it is the strong armed and merciless Felicity who has been appointed to tear into their delicate flesh. You remember your first flogging at Felicity's hands, I'm sure! Good, isn't she?"
There was sisterly pride in Celestine's voice.
"I'll never forget my first whipping as long as I live! Instead of a dozen or two, I was given nearly two hundred and I almost died that night!"
The two eager, hungry mouths might not be joined in a kiss of love and passion, though they were close enough for each to feel the other's breath upon her face, but Celestine's slender arms had not relaxed their grip. The young witch might be slightly built but she was still far stronger than Roberta if she cared to exercise her witch's powers. Roberta knew that she would find it hard to escape her clutch even if she wished to - which she decidedly did NOT!
"Is Felicity due to be flogging Bertha tonight, Celestine my darling?"
"No, valiant Roberta - my heroine and my love! One of the smaller women is doing the honours on the bitch! And she has been ‘encouraged’ to go easy on her. Now let us sleep together, but only after several hours of the wildest and most abandoned love! Give yourself to me! Come, Roberta! Let us rest on the mound that tops this enchanted isle!"
When Roberta, after making love to Celestine, opened her eyes it was to see Amy standing over her and her still sleeping sister. Amy looked decidedly annoyed to have missed all the fun! She kicked Celestine hard in the ribs and the young witch woke up. She looked somewhat guilty to see her sister! Up until now the two had done pretty well everything together.
Amy's voice betrayed as much fury as the vicious kick she had just administered to her sister.
"While I swam round and round the island in that fucking icy lake, you had Roberta all to yourself," raged Amy. "You cow! You fucking sneaky selfish cow! You bitch! You know Roberta loves me more than you. I want the best for her and you only want to enslave the precious darling girl! Get up on your feet and fight me for her! Or are you a filthy little coward as well as a bitch?"
Roberta had never seen two women, and certainly not two lovely witches, so infatuated with her before, let alone so obsessed that they were willing to shed each others' blood and punch each others' noses for the privilege of possessing her! It was quite a morale booster, to say the least!
"Are you going to accept Amy's challenge?" whispered Roberta into Celestine's shell like ear. "Say you will! Make me proud of you, darling!"
"Yes. I'll fight the cow! Try stopping me, Roberta! I want you for my Slave. I want you forever and ever to love and to own. You want it too - admit it! Amy is my darling sister, but I will kill her to make you mine."
Roberta looked into her black eyes and had doubts. Was it right of her to stir her lover up in this way? Did she want to see this lovely face bruised and bleeding? No! The impending fight must not take place.
"Hang on! You are both too sweet to fight each other, my sweet and darling Celestine. Fighting does nothing for the appearance! Look at me and be warned! Believe it or not, I was quite pretty once! I would really hate it if either of you harmed a hair of each others' heads. Take another look at me, girls! I'm a big, big woman! There's plenty of me for both of you to enjoy! Dive in, the pair of you, and get some of me!"
Amy seemed to see the point of this and launched herself on the still recumbent Roberta in an extremely athletic leap, her legs straddling Roberta's head. Roberta stuck her tongue into the young witch's opened and fragrant pussy, savouring once again the flavour of those juices, seemingly a distillation of the Nectar of the Gods. Celestine worked energetically away at Roberta's other end, lapping and slurping at her generous vagina. There was a magic in the way Celestine's lips and tongue stimulated Roberta's secret places so that her whole body began to writhe in an ecstasy she had never experienced before. Amy, meanwhile, forced Roberta's head ever more firmly between her perfect witch's thighs with their smooth skin and amazing strength. The Golden Guard knew that, until both witches had entirely slaked their lusts upon her, she would not be free to move a muscle. Not that she was complaining - far from it! This sure beat breaking rocks on Hell Island!
It was two whole days before Roberta was allowed to rise from the grassy mound, on which she had originally gone to bed with just one of the two sweet and sex starved witches. By the time the orgy was over she had long since lost count of the times the two had switched ends, first it would be Amy sucking the juices out of Roberta's cunt, while Celestine held her head in a grip that even the strongest of the Golden Guard could not break, and then the position would be reversed with such unearthly speed that Roberta had no time to move before the other pair of thighs had her in an equally vice like grip and another tongue/lips combination was arousing her to yet more heights of ecstasy, causing yet more sweet essences to flow.
Finally the pair saw that Roberta, even with her strength and stamina, could not take much more of this. They would have been more than happy to carry on for days and days more, but realised that mere mortals have their limitations. So they left her to sleep it off for a couple of hours while they went to the lake to find a few nice tasty fishes for their breakfast. They were both ravenous after fucking Roberta non-stop for forty eight hours! When Roberta woke up she could get her own food!
As they ate they sat looking down at the exhausted girl. There certainly was a lot of her and it was all totally, but totally, delicious! They knelt on either side of the sleeping Amazon and bit hard on her rock like biceps. Roberta slept on. She was totally shagged out!
"It was silly to fight each other, Amy," said Celestine. "Mother would be annoyed if she knew of our quarrel!"
"Mother IS annoyed, you silly girls!
They looked up to see Mother Felicity standing a few yards away. Both young witches looked appropriately abashed.
"Sorry, Mummy!" they both said. And then they both looked back at Roberta and experienced a return of their rivalry. However willing the big girl might be to share her favours equally, each wanted this mighty hunk of womanhood for herself!
"How is our step-sister, Felicity?" asked Amy.
"Well. She knows what she needs to know. She can do Roberta's job for her of exposing the real traitor. If you wish, Roberta can be yours forever and not see the Palace again. What is your decision?"
"I want to take Roberta away to the quarries to be my hard working slave by day and my lover by night," said Celestine enthusiastically.
"I want her to go back to her old life. I could not bear for her to be unhappy. Even with one of us to share her bed, she would long for her life as a Golden Guard. Let her go home to the life she loves," said Amy.
"Can Roberta decide?" asked both beautiful young witches at once. So long as Roberta made the correct decision both were happy to leave it to her!
"No. You two must decide between you. I am waiting for you to make your minds up, girls!"
Roberta started to wake up. She was still a resilient girl and hadn't eaten for over two days. She was tired but hungry. What a shame her bow and arrows had been taken from her, but she would work something out.
And maybe Amy or Celestine would catch something for her - though she doubted it somehow. These two were happy to use her, but possibly not quite so willing to look after her.
She opened her eyes, saw all three witches standing above her, looked at the love bites on her arms and smiled. But there was tension in the air! Something seemed to be upsetting them. Amy and her sister looked straight into Roberta's eyes.
Celestine spoke first. "I wish to take you to work for me in the quarries that my Mother has given me as a coming of age present. You will be fed, but not paid a penny and be my property. You will toil in the heat of the desert sun for eighteen hours a day and be my lover at night. The ruthless Taskmistress will make you work even harder than you have worked in these last two years of punishment, flight and more punishment. You will be whipped for the slightest offence and never be given a day off for the next seventy years.
"But you will not age in that time, Roberta. You will look as young seventy years from now as you do today. Even after all those long and painful years during which your back will be horribly punished each and every day, my body at night will be as sweet to the taste and touch as it is now. And it will be yours! My silly sentimental sister wishes you to go back to your old life where you will most likely die a glorious death in battle within a year. We have to decide between us which future it is to be for you. It could well be that there'll be a bit of a punch-up between the two of us to settle this! Exciting, isn't it!"
"If I do not unmask the true traitor, my beloved King will still be in danger. I have a duty to His Majesty!" said Roberta.
"That's all taken care of, Roberta. Felicity, our mortal step-sister, has been told all that needs to be known. The true culprit will be unmasked and the King's life saved. So your task is done whatever we decide between us. And your reputation will be restored. Your family, whom you have not seen for so long, will be given a nice fat pension and lump sum. What do you wish for, my lovely one? Not that you have any say in all this!"
"Will I wear leg-irons in the quarries and be whipped until I bleed by one as strong as I?" asked Roberta.
"Yes. You will be loaded with heavy clanking chains except when I remove them at night. And the woman who punishes your inevitable laziness will be as strong as the two who whipped you the other night. Stronger!"
"That's OK, then! Make up your minds by whatever means you decide on. Either way, I'm perfectly happy! At least I'll have a steady job! And it's always good to have a sweet body to fuck at the end of a hard day's work!"
The three witches left Roberta to catch up on some much needed sleep. They retreated to confer.
Twenty minutes later Roberta was awake again and refreshed, ready to face whatever was in store, either a lifetime of Slavery by day and sweeter than sweet love by night or a return to the life she loved. Both had much to recommend them. She knew that her future was a whole lot rosier than when she had been stuck on that horrible Hell Island.
The three witches came out from behind the screen of bushes. Roberta looked at the two beauteous rivals for possession of her body. Determination and resolve were writ large upon those exquisite faces.
She saw that both young witches had oiled up their supple young bodies and were wearing strips of leather around their tiny delicate hands. They were going to settle this dispute with their fists! How primitive! How brutal! How bloody! How wonderful! Bring it on!
Even so, Roberta was more used to fighting that watching others fight and, at first, she found this spectator position hard to take. She was a warrior, not a watcher. And a fighter was what she would never be again if Celestine won! She let out a cheer.
"Come on Amy! Murder the bitch! Kill her, Amy! Kick her fuckin' ass!"
Mother Felicity scowled horribly. Who did this impudent fucking cow think she was? If only she hadn't promised the bitch that the recent flogging had been her last! She'd like nothing more, right now, than to see Roberta given a whipping to end all whippings! Then she remembered that if Celestine won the upcoming fight, Roberta would get lots more scrumptious, lovely lashings - seventy fucking lovely years of them! She started looking around for a form of words to get herself off the hook!
This was not too hard. She had once been a politician before deciding that sorcery was an even more corrupt occupation. Before that she had been a lawyer. There wasn't one dirty trick, not one incredible piece of malodorously dishonest mental gymnastics that she didn't know!
"When I said that your recent lashing was your last, Roberta, I meant the last this week. And that was last week! So if you don't shut that mouth, I'll flay you myself. Shut the fuck up, Roberta and let my two darling young lovelies punch away at each other! Sit back and enjoy it, Roberta! I intend to! Stupid pair of bitches, beating each others' brains out over a cow like you!"
"Sorry, Mother Felicity! I thought it sounded too good to be true about getting no more lashes!"
Roberta settled down to watch the fun. And there was plenty of fun to watch! High class fun! She was amazed that two such sweet girls should have acquired so many fighting skills in the course of their brief lives! Both of them had totally unmarked faces and flawless bodies and yet it was obvious from the outset that both knew how to fight.
Because of the skill each young sorceress possessed it was some time before either could land a fist on the other. It was Amy who struck the first real blow. It had a solid meaty sound to it and Celestine's ivory skinned face had a red spot all of a sudden. Celestine uttered a horrible curse and a branch fell off a tree, almost braining Amy. Amy swore back, even more diabolically, and a fissure opened up in the ground between Celestine's legs. Celestine jumped clear, her eyes blazing with hate. Why did fucking Amy always come up with the best tricks?
Roberta was enraged at all this rather unsporting behaviour! She wanted her body to be won by the victorious girl as the outcome of a fair and hard contest. This was not her idea of the correct way to fight for her! Especially as seventy years hard labour without parole might be involved!
"That's enough of that, you two! Fight fair. Let’s have a good clean fight from now on. No telekinesis, no gouging, no holding, no low blows and you break when I say "break". Fight on!"
She was standing between them now, towering over the two of them, and clearly in no mood to see any more flashy dirty tricks from either fighter. Mother Felicity held her peace.
Obeying referee Roberta's order, both naked oiled up witches put up their lethally wrapped fists and began circling around each other, looking for an opening. Both of them had a punch that could smash concrete and both were quick on their feet. Not many blows were likely to land, but those that did would hurt a lot and do great damage. Shamed by Roberta's stern admonition, and anxious to retain her respect, neither of the two lovelorn fighters stepped out of line again and Roberta had little to do, except marvel at the skill these two were displaying as they parried and lunged, dancing in and out and gradually making each other look a lot less pretty.
It took a long time for the two to hurt each other, but hurt each other they did and ribs began to crack, noses to crunch and stomachs to ache under the thrust of deadly blows from hardened fists. As the fight progressed, caution was abandoned and punches exchanged with no attempt to evade. A war of attrition had clearly been tacitly agreed on and two sweet faces were being pulped and two delicate bodies bruised.
But, as with the whipping of Roberta the other day, these two showed no sign of tiring or slowing up. The little island echoed to the sound of thuds, gasps and cracking of fist upon bone. It was all pretty horrible and Roberta knew she ought to be disgusted, rather than excited, at all this carnage. But was the damage that real or that permanent?
Roberta guessed that any injuries they did to each other would soon enough heal. Those black eyes and bloody noses would look totally unmarked next day. These two were not mortal fighters, but witches. Some of that damage looked pretty bad, though, and it was real blood they were shedding and real screams they were occasionally emitting as a particularly good shot landed!
Finally Mother Felicity had had enough. For one thing she was bored out of her skull, and for another she was getting tired of seeing her daughters rough each other up. So unladylike and unwitchlike! What a terrible example to be setting in front of a mortal.
"STOP!" she shouted. "Referee Roberta is to pronounce one of you the winner."
Bruised and bleeding but not breathless, the two stepped back and looked expectantly at the Referee. It was not an easy choice to make and Roberta took a minute or two to reprise the whole contest before announcing her verdict.
"You both fought well. There was an abundance of skill and courage on both sides! I congratulate you both on a truly magnificent display!" Both witches smiled painfully. It hurt both Celestine and Amy to move even one tiny facial muscle after all the hard punches they had dished out and taken. Roberta continued.
"But it looks like I go to your quarry, Celestine. You had a slight edge. Pity! I want to go back to the Palace, now it's all over! But I'm all yours to do with as you wish. I wouldn't try to escape even if I could! I mean to say, the nights are going to be fantastic, even if the days are going to be a bit of a pain in the arse!"
Amy looked none too disappointed at the verdict. She had expected it, having been aware that Celestine was gradually getting the upper hand. She smiled at Roberta through her bloodstained face and wished her good luck.
"You'll need it in those quarries, Roberta! Over the next seventy years your body will be worked and your back will be scourged as they have never been before! It makes my blood run cold to think of the working over you are going to get! But my sister will be true to her word. The days will be hell on earth, but the nights will be like Heaven and she'll always be there to welcome you to her bed. And I'll find a lover to replace you. I shall grieve over you for a while, but someone will come along. Maybe a man this time! Men aren't all bad. Not quite all!"
Amy and Felicity went away and Roberta was left with Celestine, who ordered her to place her hands behind her back before disappearing herself. Roberta stood like this for several hours, all alone on the grassy knoll, still covered with Amy and Celestine's blood. Finally Celestine returned with a rope and some shackles.
She bound Roberta's hands tightly together and placed irons on her ankles. Although Roberta was well used to this by now, she still felt a great thrill of excitement run through her. It would be seventy years before these leg irons came off! A five feet long chain was attached to the irons.
"Come to the boat, Slave! You will not have to swim back to the shore, but after the boat trip is over, there is a long walk for you to the quarries! I shall ride a fine horse, Slave!"
"When do we make love again, Celestine?" asked Roberta. She could hardly believe it when she heard Celestine's icy reply.
"Talk to me even one more time without permission and I will whip you once more. And you know how painful that is! This time I will not allow you to faint away! You will feel such pain as even you could not endure without crying out loud for a mercy that is not forthcoming. Believe me, Slave! Such pain exists and I can inflict it!"
Shocked at the severity in her lover/mistress's voice, Roberta obeyed. Once they had reached the shore and Roberta had carried Celestine through the shallow water, a horse was waiting. Roberta was ordered to kneel and Celestine placed her bare feet on her strong and whip-scarred back, vaulting nimbly into the saddle.
The young witch seemed utterly oblivious to the difficulty a chained Roberta might have in running beside the trotting horse, not deigning to look down once at the toiling Slave beside her.
They stopped that night at the clearing where the flogging had taken place. The whipping post was where it had been before, as was the tent. Roberta was chained to the post and Celestine went inside the tent. In the morning she was handed her bow and arrow and ordered to kill and cook Celestine's breakfast. She shot a rabbit and Celestine wolfed it down. For a delicate looking girl she could certainly eat as vigorously as she could fight!
The witch tossed the bones to Roberta to gnaw. This was clearly all the food she was getting for now! Roberta looked at her Mistress and saw that her face was as bruised as ever.
"It should have healed a bit by now, Mistress." she said.
"Are you deaf, Slave?" asked Celestine in a reptilian voice with a snake like smile.
"Not deaf, Mistress. Just forgetful. Please forgive me!"
"Forgiveness is a mortal concept. Forgiveness is for weaklings like you! I am no weakling! You know my strength, Slave. You have felt it on your back before and are about to feel it again. Get a whip out of the tent. The best and longest!"
Roberta did as she was told. She doubted Celestine's power to make her howl for mercy. But she knew she was in for a great deal of pain. Why had she not kept her big mouth shut? Because she had not really believed Celestine's promise, of course. She would know better in the future! She picked a good, strong whip with a twenty foot length of hide that tapered from the width of her forearm to a thin tip which would slice even her leathery back open with the first lash! She took it to the stone-faced Celestine, who secured her firmly and stood well back, raising the whip and bringing it whistling through the air.
"I did warn you, Slave!" Celestine hissed as the first lash fell.
A hideous shriek rent the air. "Please, Mistress! No more. It was just a silly mistake. I won't step out of line again."
Roberta had never pleaded for mercy before. But she had never felt such pain before.
The whip fell a second time and Roberta howled in agony. She pleaded again for mercy. Again Celestine ignored her and brought the whip down upon her bleeding back a third time, then a fourth and a fifth and a sixth and the horrible shrieks continued.
Celestine had spoken the truth about her ability to make even the stoic and brave Roberta rend the air with her frenzied pleas for mercy. And she had been right about the said mercy not materialising! Seventy times the lash fell upon Roberta and seventy times she shrieked in an extremity of agony such as she had never even imagined before, let alone experienced. In all the long years that lay ahead, a broken and totally chastened Slave never spoke out of turn again!
Whenever Celestine said "jump", Roberta's only answer would be, "How high, Mistress?"
By the time the two had reached Celestine's quarry, Roberta and she had both healed. Along the course of the long journey the young witch had many times more than made up for the horrors of that cruellest of punishments. But Roberta would never forget it. She knew who the boss was, alright!
At night they were equals and lovers, but by day Roberta was nothing. Less than nothing. A worm that her mistress might crush at any time.
The long whiplash curled spitefully through the air looking almost leisurely as it gracefully landed on the Slave's back. The Taskmistress was a fly fisher in her spare time, and it showed in her flawless technique! The lazy and rapidly tiring Roberta swung her pick with more vigour. She'd said it before and she would say it again (silently, of course. Speech was forbidden from dawn until dusk) There was nothing like the Taskmistress's leather whip on her back to re energise her!
She didn't want too many more cuts like that today, even if her skin was as hard as leather after sixty nine years, eleven months and thirty days of hard work and harder punishment. Today would see the end of her seventy years in the quarry and she wondered what lay ahead for her.
She would certainly not miss labouring in this arid and hellishly hot spot. It was not the hard work that got to her these days so much as the horrible deadly boredom. Roberta wanted some more constructive uses to put her enormous strength to.
Because that strength had increased vastly over seventy years! Roberta calculated that it had doubled about every decade or so. She wasn't a mathematician, but knew that she was pretty damned strong by now, and she had been hardly a weakling to start with! It was not so much that Roberta looked more muscular and powerfully built than ever, although she certainly did. Paula's jaw would hit the floor if she could see her now! What gave her the phenomenal strength she now possessed was the fact that each individual sinew had many times more power in it than ever.
Back at that road with the fallen trees, she would be able to lift all three at once and with only one hand! She was a power house on two feet and she craved for things to do with this power. Roberta wanted to launch herself on a world that needed strong champions to right wrongs and rescue the oppressed from evildoers.
There remained little stone still to be extracted from the quarry by now. What had been a fair-sized hill was now a low depression and Roberta was breaking up the last few blocks of marble, prior to the site being turned into a housing estate for low paid elderly peasants - or some such thing. (Though why anyone would wish to end their days in a rainless part of the world like this was hard for Roberta to fathom).
But she would miss her nights of love with the ever more succulent Celestine, whose youth had lasted as miraculously as had Roberta's. It wasn't that she was in love with the eternally youthful witch. She was too mortally afraid of her after that merciless whipping seventy years ago to feel love. But she did lust for her with more hunger than ever. Bodies like hers weren't exactly ten a penny! She might know every last crevice of Celestine's body and she may have explored all the fragrant nuances of flavour in those honey sweet juices, but each night was as exciting and wonderful as the first had been, seventy years ago when she had first come to Celestine's bed, hot, sweaty, bloody backed and dusty after that first terrible day of servitude.
Her lover had kissed away all the hurt in her body, restoring it so that it might receive more pain and do more hard work next day. Then she had bathed her, making her clean and sweet smelling. After these delightful preliminaries the Loving had begun! Those heavenly six hours had passed like six seconds.
The nights might have all passed with bewildering speed but the days had dragged. How they had dragged! It always seemed to be flaming hot around here. In seventy years not a drop of cool refreshing rain had fallen on the ever thirsty Roberta's burning nakedness. In all that time there had not been a single cloud in the sky. In all those years Roberta had known no shade from the sun's fearsome rays.
On her first day, the wicked Taskmistress had used her whip on her a dozen times before the all too brief midday meal and mug of water. The afternoon had been even worse and Roberta had been taken to Celestine's room more dead than alive. But the night had restored her vitality and next day she was ready for more hard work.
"Do you regret awarding the fight to me, darling Roberta?" she had asked on that first night, shortly after kissing her long and hard on the mouth.
"I did until tonight! Now I wouldn't be anywhere else!" she replied. "I'd work a thousand days like the one that has just ended for just an hour with you, my sweet!"
"That's really a very nice thing to say, Roberta. But you are a nice girl, aren't you? The nicest! I thought Amy had won, actually. She was just a bit sharper than I was - or so I thought!"
"It was desperately close, darling Celestine. If I had thought she had won, I would have said so. I really would have preferred to go back to my old life as a Golden Guard, doomed to die gloriously in battle before I was twenty five. And I still worry about things at the Palace."
"No need to worry, brave Roberta! All has been taken care of and the wicked conspirators have been put to death, after a suitable amount of truly ghastly, stomach churningly, horrible torture, of course!"
"And I never got to give that message to the Chief Torturer!"
"What message, darling!"
"The one from the Town Tormentor at Rockwell Green! It doesn't really matter - not important."
"I could see your message got passed on, Roberta. If it was important."
"It was just asking me to remember him. Quite trivial."
"You were still an unbeliever in those days, Roberta. My mother and my sister and I grieved over you for your sceptical ways. It took so much pain and so much hard and degrading work to beat it out of you. It was worth it, though, wasn't it darling?"
"Well worth it, sweet love!"
Roberta was recalled to the present time by getting her second lash in as many minutes. She really wasn't concentrating today! And the fact that it was her last day was no excuse to slack! All this residue of seventy long years’ hard work had got to be disposed of by nightfall. She put all her thoughts to one side and worked harder than she ever had before. So hard did she work that all was finished two hours before her day was officially done.
Roberta was told that Celestine would not be in her room until the usual hour and was obliged to remain in the sun as its rays gradually became less hot and the red rim set below the horizon. Wherever she was due to go after today, she hoped it was a bit greener and cooler than this!
Finally the hour for the last night of love arrived and the pair were together again. Celestine washed her lover's strong body and bathed her wounds for the last time.
Six hours passed and Roberta awoke wondering what came next.
"Seventy years soon pass, do they not, my love." whispered Celestine gently.
"Too soon, Mistress. Are we still to be lovers?"
"That is up to you, Roberta. Now that you are stronger than ever, there are great things for you to do. Put this on!"
"This" was a blindfold. Roberta, unchained at last, was led to the horse and walked, not knowing where, for three weeks. When she was finally allowed to see where she was, she gasped in total amazement.
As the blindfold was taken off, Roberta was somewhat surprised to see herself back in the clearing where she had been twice whipped, firstly when Celestine and Amy had alternately attacked her back from both sides and secondly by Celestine alone. The shame of her reaction to that second whipping still haunted her.
She had received seventy lashes and wept and screamed for mercy after each of them She, Roberta the bravest of the brave had grovelled and pleaded for mercy. Even seventy long years of ceaseless hard work and pain had not expunged this dreadful memory. She still feared Celestine and obeyed her every command.
Roberta looked around the familiar and ill favoured clearing. It was still a horrible place! The same tent was there - or an identical tent was there! For this was a new tent, as new as the one she had been in seventy years ago. The dreaded whipping post, where she had been such a coward, was also where it had been. There was blood on the ground. With nausea she saw hordes of insects devouring the blood and bits of torn flesh. Obviously some poor wretch had recently been put through the same horror that had reduced the once proud Roberta to a compliant serf, afraid of her own shadow.
"Do you wish for your freedom, Slave?" said Celestine, coldly. To think she had been so affectionate to her on the last night!
"Yes, Mistress. I desire to be a free woman. I desire it as I have never wished for anything before. But I await my Mistress's decision."
"I am going to whip you again, Roberta, with all the terrible force of my supernatural strength! If you suffer in silence, rather than whine and howl for mercy as you did last time, I may perhaps free you, and then again I may not. Nothing can be certain where my capricious will is concerned! One thing is certain, though. If you utter as much as a grunt I shall enslave you forever, but there will be no nights of love for you this time. Pain will be your lot all day and all night for ever. You bore me now, Roberta! I really feel I have totally exhausted all the possibilities where you are concerned."
Roberta obeyed, sick with despair. She knew how impossible were the conditions the diabolical Celestine had set for her freedom. Even after seventy years of being flogged every day and with a skin as thick and desensitised as hers had become, she would not withstand even one lash from the possessed Witch. She was half inclined to tell the witch to take her to whatever place of torment and slavery she wished. The whipping was no more than a formality. But Celestine was set on causing her more pain. All signs of love had vanished from those wicked eyes. If only the sweet Amy had won!
Inside the tent she saw a whip identical to the one Celestine had used on her to such hellish effect so many years ago. There was blood - almost fresh blood - on the business end. It had been used very recently. She wondered if the poor victim had survived. Today it would be used again. She shook with fear at the thought of the horror that was ahead.
Just as she was about to go outside and present the whip to her merciless Mistress a warm, soft hand touched her arm. She looked around and a tear ran down her cheek. It was Amy! She looked everything that her Mistress was not - kind, loving and full of sweetness by day as well as by night. Amy's hand excitedly felt every inch of Roberta's stronger than ever body.
"Darling Roberta! How strong you are! What a wonderful body those seventy years have given you! But I see to my sorrow that your mind and spirit are humbled and broken. Have courage, my darling! With my help you will soon be the Roberta of old and my sister will have no more power over you. Look down, darling at my thighs, and how the sight of you has made the juices flow!"
Roberta obeyed. Seventy years of being silent by day had made it impossible for her to utter a word. She saw that juices were indeed running down Amy's inner thighs. She knelt and her tongue lapped up the sweet liquid.
"Take your fill, my sweet darling Roberta. Savour my offering of love and swallow it all! It will give you the strength you are going to need in a few moments when you face your greatest challenge yet. And speak! Make yourself speak. Speak to me and speak to Celestine. Freedom of speech is everyone's right! How dare she have made you be silent! Just you keep quiet like the brave girl you are and then I'll sort her out good and proper!"
Roberta thirstily licked out the willing Amy, sucking up the love juice as fast as it flowed. When she had finished she spoke, the first time she had opened her mouth during the day for seventy long and wretched years.
"You seem to have been fighting again, Amy! I wish you wouldn't! You're far too lovely to spoil your looks like that! That face is as bad as it was seventy years ago, after that struggle which I so devoutly wish you had won! I hope you won this time, after collecting all those terrible bruises!"
"I lost! I shall tell you the story, which will astound you! You have so much to learn, Roberta, and in such a short time! Soon I shall fight her again and this time I shall win. My undying and passionate love for you and my contempt for her will see me through to a glorious victory! Just you wait and see! You must play your part, my angel girl! First you must take Celestine's furious whipping in silence and after that I must fight and beat her. From then on you and I will be together, in equal and loving happiness to bear life's burdens and share its joys in loving harmony. No Slave and no Mistress but a devoted and caring couple. Be brave, my sweet!"
"Can't you stop Celestine hurting me again, Amy?" Roberta was trembling with fear and there was pleading in her voice.
"Yes, I could. I could easily rescue you from the whipping that is to come. But I won't and you wouldn't thank me if I did - not afterwards. Not when you'd had time to think about it! And the true Roberta would never ask such a question. Would she?"
"No. Already I feel her contempt for the writhing cowardly worm I have become! You are right. I shall think of you and our life together as my back feels the terrible weight of your sister's fury. You have given me strength of mind again to match that of my body, Amy! My darling Amy!"
Roberta stepped outside the tent, leaving Amy inside. Soon she was tied up again and as had happened seventy years ago, the whip hissed angrily through the air and on to her stretched back. She felt her lungs burst as the hellish agony sliced through her whole body, and not only her body but her entire being. She remained silent, even though the effort to suppress a shriek of pain seemed to have sapped most of her strength. Would she be able to withstand another sixty nine strokes like that? She must. There was no choice. The cowardice of seventy years ago must be redeemed and the old Roberta reborn in the same crucible of pain that had once destroyed and humbled her.
An enraged Celestine increased her efforts when after thirty lashes her Slave was still obstinately refusing to cry out. She knew that she was causing Roberta far more agony even than seventy years ago and still she kept quiet, even as the flesh was ripped off her body, piece by piece. She reached the seventieth lash and was ready to go on, killing her victim rather than see her gain her freedom, when her sister's voice rang out across the clearing. Damn that Amy!
"Enough, you evil woman! I am ashamed to call you a sister! Leave her be and fight me again. This time I shall beat you and Roberta and I will be together."
"So you can enslave the cow as well? Fat chance of that, little sister! She is mine, Amy! Either that or she is nobody's!"
"I only want her to be free, Celestine. If she will have me then I would like to live with her, but the only thing that really matters to me is releasing her from a foul bondage so that she may once more be the proud woman that destiny has intended her to be. Prepare to fight me again!"
"If you want another hiding, that suits me fine! But we'll have no referee this time!" laughed Celestine. "I think that the poor whipped Roberta needs a rest! The bitch is more than half dead already after the going over I gave her! She can stay here, and when I have seen to you and left you stretched out on the ground where you belong, I either make the miserable piece of shit cry for mercy or she dies!"
Roberta saw both young witches go inside the tent and when they came out, both bodies were glistening with oil and both pairs of hands were protected with what looked to the shocked Roberta, still in great pain from her flogging, to be strips of metal. They would cause each other terrible harm if they fought wearing those!
"Don't wear those awful things, girls! " she cried.
Despite her weakness she forced herself to speak. "Wear leather like you did last time. Be reasonable! You did enough damage to each other with that - remember!"
"Who told you to speak, Slave!" raged Celestine. Her lovely face was twisted into ugliness with her fury.
But Amy respected Roberta's judgment in these matters.
"If Roberta thinks we should wear something else, she is the trained warrior around here! She is the expert."
"She is a Slave. And if she talks again, I shall kill her for sure!"
Then the aged Mother Felicity appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Actually she had been hovering around for some time, in the guise of a falcon, but the two daughters had been too preoccupied to see her.
"Release Roberta!" she ordered Celestine. "Let her sleep. When she is awake again, she shall referee this fight as she did the one before. Do as I say, Celestine and make it snappy! I am very disappointed in you!"
Celestine, looking like a naughty little girl rather than Roberta's imperious Mistress, untied Roberta and Felicity led her to a couch inside the tent. She lay down surrounded by rows of lethal whips and lines of bottles, all containing various differently coloured liquids. Felicity took down three bottles and poured out some liquid from each into a shallow bowl. Roberta then fell asleep. Her last sensation was of Mother Felicity rubbing the mixture into her shredded back.
When she came round her back had ceased to hurt and she knew that it was healed and smooth, and that as long as she lived it must never be scarred again. Walking outside she saw the two young witches, one who had been her Mistress, tormentor and nocturnal lover and the other, who only wanted selfless love between equals. The sinister Celestine looked in far better shape than her sister, who still bore the marks of a recent fight in which she had been beaten. Amy didn't look like much of a champion, thought Roberta.
"What happens if Celestine beats Amy?" she asked Felicity.
"Then she has you back. I hate what she has become, but she is of age now and there is little I can do. Amy will do her best, Roberta. She loves you very much. How should my daughters cover their hands for the fight, Warrior Woman Roberta?"
"I suggest they wrap them in leather strips like last time, Mother Felicity. Metal would cause dreadful harm. I can't imagine what they were thinking of. Celestine took weeks to heal last time, when she had been bruised only by leather bound fists."
Mother Felicity ordered her two daughters to do as Roberta had decreed. They came out of the tent with their hands once again wrapped in soft leather strips. Their bodies were both oiled by now and glistening, but Amy's entire body from the waist upwards was still covered with many bruises from her recent losing fight. Roberta wondered what had been the cause of it.
As soon as Roberta gave the order, the pair started on each other. Amy made the first strike and sent Celestine reeling backwards. For a bruised and tired girl, she was showing amazing energy today! She followed this up with another hard right handed blow which knocked her sister to the ground. Roberta started counting. It had been agreed that if she counted up to twenty and the felled fighter was still not on her feet, the fight was over. Roberta had no power to stop the contest in any other circumstances.
Celestine made it to her feet at the count of seventeen and looked shaken. Amy was a different girl today! The fight resumed and Celestine managed a bit of a come back, hitting Amy's already bruised face several hard blows and making her nose, which Roberta guessed to be already broken from the previous contest, bleed copiously.
But Amy was not to be denied another knock down for long! In the third minute after her first decking Celestine, she felled her sister again and this time Roberta's tormentor was still lying on her back as Roberta reached twenty. Amy had won - and in only a few minutes!
"Congratulate the victor, Roberta!" ordered Mother Felicity. "She has given you back all that Celestine had taken from you. Love her and protect her, Roberta, and she will make you very happy for the rest of your life."
Roberta embraced Amy, who responded happily. She kissed her, trying her best not to touch that tender and very likely broken little nose.
"Thank you for rescuing me, darling! Now that we are together, I fear nothing in this strange new world where all my old friends are either long since dead or very old!"
"Thank you for being so brave under Celestine's flogging. It was that amazing courage than inspired me to win. Without your brave example I should have failed yet again!"
Amy took her rescued lover's hand and led Roberta away from the clearing, with its tent full of instruments of torture, and the whipping post with the bloodstained grass around it. Roberta looked round and saw that Celestine still lay flat on her back. When Mother Felicity threw cold water over her she stirred a little but showed no other sign of life. It had been a terrific punch of Amy's - right on the button, and sending her straight into dreamland for quite some time!
In a few hours of leisurely strolling, hand in had all the way, they were back at the lake, with the island a few hundred yards off shore. A boat, identical to that which had carried Roberta and Celestine seventy years ago, was moored on the shore and the two lovers got in. Roberta rowed the couple over to the island. Amy looked terribly tired, as well she might after all her recent exertions, and Roberta was happy to do all the hard work!
"The Palace looks the same as ever!" exclaimed Roberta as soon as the two young lovers, hand in hand and pausing frequently to kiss, had reached the topmost point. Look! The Golden Guard still exist! The defaulters are being led out for their evening whipping! How I wish I were there!
"I cannot be a Guard, though. You have to be enrolled as a girl of twelve. Even with my enormous strength, they would not take me at my age. What is my age, Amy?"
"You are just over twenty-one, Roberta! And those Guards are your former lover Bertha, who is being punished for the second time in a week and Natalie and Celia, who are both known to you and getting ten lashes apiece!"
Roberta almost fainted! As soon as she could speak she stammered her amazement to the laughing Amy.
"How can this be, sweetheart? How can it be?"
"We are witches, Roberta and can play tricks with time that you mortals cannot. You did indeed spend seventy years as Celestine's slave and sexual plaything. But for me and the rest of the world, it all took place over one night! Never fear! I shall play no more tricks with you and you are mine now! And I am yours!"
"Celestine told me that the real culprits had been put to death, but I see that she lied. For Bertha is one of the guilty ones and she still lives, the miserable traitor!"
Roberta looked at Amy's battered face.
"So your face was still bruised today after the fight with Celestine! And the whip I took from the tent for Celestine to use on me was stained with my own only half-dried blood!"
Amy nodded. "And the blood around the whipping post was also yours. And another thing, my angel. Don't, bother looking for that clearing again! No matter how hard you search, you will never find it!"
Roberta had absolutely no wish whatever to revisit that spot. It might be where she had met Amy, now her life's partner, but there were too many other far less happy memories bound up with it. Then her mind turned to the present.
"I have to go to the Palace, Amy. I need to right the wrong that was done me. Will you be alright to stay here until I return for you?"
"I shall come with you, darling. You can't do what you have to do alone! In any case, I want to fight by your side and maybe die with you. For if you die there is no point in my living a second longer in a world where you are gone. There is much I know that can assist you. Don't stop me, I beg you!"
There were tears in Amy's eyes and Roberta knew that she could refuse this girl nothing. Being tied to this delightful creature was still slavery, albeit a sweet and lovely kind of servitude!
"We are equals, are we not? How can I stop you! And how could I ever deny you anything! You seem to know so much, Amy. I'll let you lead the way!"
"I hoped you'd say that! I am still a witch, darling Roberta. Remember that when things look bad. I have great powers and they are all at your disposal until your honour is restored and I become a mortal like you. You'd like me to be as you are, would you not?"
"I love you as you are, Amy. Witch or mortal - it's all the same to me!"
"Now you are free, Roberta, you will age like anyone else. I could not bear to see you grow old and die and not share the same destiny myself. All I want is to walk the same journey as you by your side until we are both buried in the same plot of ground, our bodies touching in death as they did in life!"
"Right! That was so beautiful of you. What now, Amy?"
"We swim across the lake to the little beach where we are nearest the Palace. The water will be cold, but not too cold for you, my hardy friend and lover!"
They scampered down the grassy slope to the water and dived in. It was indeed cold. It had only been a day or two since she had last plunged into this freezing water on which pieces of ice still floated. Amy swam beside her, a sleek and sinuous fish once more.
"It's OK for you, Amy! Fish can take it better than warm blooded animals like me!"
"Sorry, Roberta!" said Amy, spluttering beside her. "I'll suffer the same as you from now on. I was a nice fish, though, wasn't I?"
"The sweetest fish I ever did see! But it would have been sad if some angler had caught you! Although I'm sure you'd have dealt with the situation."
The pair exchanged no more words until, cold and tired, they made the little beach near the Palace. Amy was shivering badly and Roberta could see that the slightly built young witch had overdone it. She ought to have let her go on being a fish! In order to warm her up again she put her powerful arms around her and drew her close against her body. As warmth began to return to the near frozen Amy, the pair kissed and fondled each other, getting more and more excited by the second.
"Will you go on being naked once you are a mortal?" asked Roberta. She would miss that lovely ethereally nude girl's sweet body if it were to be clothed, although Amy would wear fine clothes and display them to perfection.
"It might be advisable, Roberta. Nude women get into trouble with the law, unless they are Golden Guards, their auxiliaries, or the King's latest favourite parlour maid! You found out yourself how painful it can be to offend the Ladies' League! Lady Paula is nude again, by the way. When she is Queen it will be different, but for now she is the King's special Nude Lady."
"I think we should stay here for the night," continued Amy, now warm again, but still keeping close to Roberta. "For one thing, it's really nice to be so close to you and for another, the conspirators are not due to strike until a few hours after dawn. So we have time to get to know each other. How does that grab you?"
"Fine! You're the boss, Amy!"
"No, I'm not. But I do know a few things you still don't. So you'd best do as I say when the day comes. You do remember what you were told the other day? About Felicity being in on it all?"
"Well, the bad people suspect her of being aware of their plans and she has been framed much as you were. The poor girl is being tortured as we speak. She is strong, Roberta, but only mortal as you are. Although she is only a half sister, I feel so desperately sorry for her. If we could make our move now, I would be happy to do so, but it is hopeless until the well in the Private Courtyard is uncovered by the Water Carrier. Our way in is via the well shaft. One hour after the water has been drawn for the day, the well will be unattended but still uncovered. Then we can get into the Royal Apartments."
"How heavy is the cover on the well?"
"Tons and tons. It takes a special winch to lift it and a team of horses."
"I'm a lot stronger than I was a couple of days ago. It was only two days ago for you but it was seventy years for me. I could raise that cover easily. I know the way to the Torture Chamber from the Private Courtyard. I'll disable the three torturers, free Felicity and bring her here."
Amy shook her head, tearfully.
"We can't risk the plotters getting wind of our presence, Roberta. It could be months before they tried anything again and you need to be restored to favour soon. You have waited too long as it is. I'm afraid Felicity must suffer a few more hours of hideous agony before her ordeal is over. It breaks my heart, though whenever I think about it."
Roberta comforted the weeping Amy and the pair settled down to wait for the well to be uncovered. As soon as Amy had calmed down Roberta asked a question on a matter that had been puzzling her.
"If witches don't age, then how come Philippa and Mother Felicity are so old looking?"
"It suits them to look old, darling. But they can take on any shape or form or appear to be any age! Don't worry, sweetheart! I'm still only seventeen."
"And your sister? How old is she?"
"Twenty. I did well to beat her today, didn't I? And to almost beat her the other day!"
"Very well indeed. And another thing puzzles me. I would have though you would have healed almost overnight. You healed my back in hours, stripped of flesh though it was."
"I fought against another witch, darling. Any hurt we cause each other has to heal naturally. We can heal your back for you in seconds, especially if Mother thinks it was wrong to hurt you in the first place, which she did. Celestine is in big, big trouble, by the way, or will be when she wakes up after I KO'd her!"
"She should be awake by now! It's been hours!"
"Not the way I hit her. The timing was prefect, sweetheart. If she is awake she'll have a nasty headache!"
"I'm surprised a sweet thing like you is so bloodthirsty! I'm glad you beat her, though! You'll never know how glad!"
"I'll be nothing but sweetness from now on! At least to you!"
Amy looked beseechingly at her lover.
"Do you forgive me for helping Celestine whip you? It was a sort of punishment to you for having been a disbeliever. And also it was a kind of coming of age gift for Celestine. You were incredibly brave. But I knew you'd never hold against Celestine the second time. You have nothing to be ashamed of, my love! And you more than made up for it today, because Celestine hurt you so much more this time!"
"Why was it not possible for me to be quiet the other day? It's still hard not to think of it as seventy years ago!"
"It was the power she had over your mind, Roberta. If she'd only stepped on your toes you'd have most likely let out a yelp! It was partly your fault. You desired her so much that you had surrendered a goodly part of your will to her. But you are alright now, my sweet. Now you are ready to put right the evils that threaten the kingdom. Soon you will be back where you belong and the Golden Guard will be purged of its traitors. You know who they are, don't you?
"I know. The Commandant herself and my slimy former lover Bertha. But who prepared the drug that put me into such a sleep that I allowed my weapons to be removed?"
"It was a renegade witch, Roberta. Your friend Paula tracked her down and she fled the country, but not before telling Paula where your sword etc and the remaining potion could be found. She insisted it had to be you who recovered your weapons for yourself or she would make the proofs disappear for ever. Hence her having to organise your escape first.
"You'd have been allowed to finish all this a long time ago, but Philippa was furious with you about the things you said. As a witch myself I have to say you got what you deserved when you were whipped at the bandits' cave and subsequently."
"Well, I believe now. Knowing what I do, it amazes me that I ever had doubts. What must I do to clear myself, Amy?"
"You must take two of the Golden Guard with you when you go to find the proofs. You must have witnesses because your word alone will be useless. The King's two trusted Personal Guards will not do for this purpose, as they will be needed to protect His Majesty. And poor Felicity is unable to go. Any two guards will do, darling. They are all trustworthy except for the two traitors, and we know who they are."
"The rest room is attached to the private Courtyard. There's always a few of us there at any time," said Roberta. "Getting from there to the living quarters shouldn't be too hard. What will you be doing while I'm sorting that out?"
"I'll be flying around, waiting for you. I think I'll be a raven again. But try not to be too long. You'll have maybe twenty minutes before you must be back at the well.
Beatrice and Jenny were settling a minor difference. They were both interested in the same little wench who worked in the kitchens. The wench wasn't too bothered which of these fine young Golden Guards appropriated her. All the wench wanted was to stir up a bit of trouble and she had succeeded!
"Why don't you fight each other for me? Meet in the rest room just after dawn. You've got the morning free tomorrow" the little girl had told them the night before.
"We'd both of us be whipped for fighting. You've seen Guards punished. It isn't pretty! And it wouldn't be just a dozen. There's not been a fight for years, but the last time there was, the guilty pair were given a hundred apiece. Sorry, Lily, we don't fancy you that much!"
"Scared of a few lashes, eh? Call yourselves Golden Guards! Cowards! Roberta wouldn't have minded getting hundred if a girl she wanted was at the end of it! She was a heroine, that one!"
So here they both were, squaring up to each other with the sweet Lily as the prize for one and the whip as the punishment for both. Silly girls! As if there weren't plenty of pretty wenches like Lily adorning the Palace! The King's ever eager eye for a pretty face ensured that female beauty was a commonplace around here!
Both of the infatuated nineteen year olds had discarded their sword belts and other impedimenta. Only two others were watching and this was two too many as far as the rivals were concerned. With total privacy there was a chance their damaged bodies might not draw the Commandant's attention until the bruises had faded. Not much of a chance, though!
One good thing was that Senior Guard Felicity, that hawk-eyed officer, was in disgrace and being tortured horribly in the dungeon. As the first fierce blows were being struck in this rather pointless fight, Felicity's head was being raised from the water tank after almost two minutes' submersion. She drew a deep breath and was immediately under water again. This had been going on all night so she knew the drill backwards by now.
During her all too brief moment out of the tank she saw the brazier being heated up. More hot irons looked like being applied to her before too long. It would be a change from being half drowned!
The Town Tormentor from Rockwell Green had arrived at the Palace the previous evening and was assisting the Chief Torturer in his interrogation of Felicity. Felicity had formed a deep dislike for this man, whom she suspected to be gay. She was unusual, if not unique, for a Golden Guard in being deeply in love with a man whom she hoped to marry in a year when her service was over. Being tortured by a real man was one thing, but having this fairy dunking her in the tank and neatly jotting down his findings in a little notebook was an insult!
Meanwhile, back in the rest room, Beatrice had just landed a beauty of a right slightly under Jenny's left eye, raising a huge lump which would take at least a week to go down. This was two minutes into the fight and it was not going poor old Jenny's way at all.
During the years of training, these two had often been paired against each other during the unarmed combat sessions and Jenny had always lost, especially in the kind of bare fist fighting that the wicked little minx Lily had insisted on for this contest. Why she had agreed to fight Beatrice for the favour of this silly little bitch she couldn't work out, especially now, as Beatrice thumped her other eye and almost closed it. But a Golden Guard, once in a fight, never gave up. Jenny fought on, grimly determined that she would not be disgraced.
Beatrice landed a direct hit on her opponent's nose, cracking it and cutting it open. Jenny, on the verge of defeat, saw an opening and hit Beatrice hard in the gut, making her rival grunt but doing no serious damage. Beatrice paused for less than a tenth of a second and replied with a huge thudding blow to Jenny's tummy. Jenny dropped her guard and clasped her tortured stomach with both hands. That was the last she knew for several hours!
Amelia and Joanna applauded Beatrice's not exactly unexpected victory as Jenny flew across the room and slid down the wall after thudding into it from the impact of the deciding punch. It had been too one sided a fight for it to be that interesting, which was why only a couple had bothered to come along and watch. Poor old Jenny never had a chance.
This pair only applauded for a couple of seconds and they found themselves grasped from behind. All the Golden Guards were strong young women, but the grip that held Amelia and Joanna was unbreakable.
"Help, Beatrice," they both croaked.
Beatrice, the easy victor against Jenny, came running to their help but a mighty kick struck her square on the jaw and sent her spinning across the room to join Jenny in a protracted period of unconsciousness. When, hours later, they woke up in the cells, chained to the walls with only rats for company, and with the prospect of a very severe flogging in front of them, they both agreed that Lily had not been worth the trouble!
Lily had not really fancied either of them in any case. She was another of these rarities around the place who preferred the opposite sex to her own. Having got a couple of arrogant self satisfied dykes to beat each other up and then get horribly flogged for their pains pleased her greatly! There was not much future in the Palace environment for a trouble maker like Lily. There was only one way to go for a girl who had an attitude like that. She was fired soon afterwards.
"You two are coming with me," said Roberta, "I need you to be witnesses. This could be a big day for you two. Come along girls and don't struggle. I'm a hundred times stronger than the pair of you put together!"
"I can believe that," gasped Amelia. "Look here, Roberta! If we agree to come with you, will you let us go? You're strangling me. I don't think you know your own strength these days! Breaking rocks does wonders for the physique!"
"Will you both give your word, on your honour as Golden Guards? I promise you I only want you for a few minutes. After that, take me to the King!"
On this particular morning, when Beatrice and Jenny were brawling over the maid, Lily, and Roberta was once more inside the Palace confines, Lady Paula had slept poorly for some reason and kept yawning. The Queen was sinking faster these days and the King, or Teddy, as she had learned familiarly to call him in the last few months, was at the poor lady's bedside a great deal, waiting for the end, which could not long be delayed.
Although a loving and attentive husband in his wife's final days, as a conscientious ruler he still needed to attend to important affairs and this he did for three hours each morning. He liked to have the Lady Paula standing by during these tedious sessions. She would stand near the large windows, sometimes looking out over the small Private Courtyard and sometimes the main courtyard where the nightly whippings of defaulting Golden Guards took place. Last night Bertha had received her second punishment in a week, getting twenty lashes this time, weakly applied as usual. Why the Commandant didn't dismiss her, Paula could not make out. She probably wasn't even a good lover! Paula couldn't imagine her to be a good anything! Although the Commandant and she were getting to be almost an embarrassment recently with their ill concealed affair.
When not staring at the goings on outside, Lady Paula contented herself by looking around the large Presence Chamber and the myriad of petty officials and humble petitioners who pestered poor old Teddy until he became almost frantic.
The two Golden Guards, stood discreetly on either side of the entrance, scrutinising all the visitors as they came in and never taking their eyes off them until they left. Since the attempt involving Rowena and her alleged collaborator, the traitor Roberta, security was very tight. The only other naked woman visible to the visitors was the Lady Paula, who tried to look haughty, as befitted a Great Lady. Even after several months' experience, Paula still occasionally found that nudity and haughtiness did not always go too well together - but she was getting there and these days the diminutive former parlour maid was the haughtiest nude in the Kingdom!
This particular morning, while Jenny was being pulverised by her comrade and friend Beatrice, Lady Paula was watching the dried blood from last night's flogging being washed off the polished marble flagstones where the whipping post was situated. She knew that only one defaulter had been spotted at today's morning parade, and that was Charlotte, one of the two Personal Attendants on the King. As in Roberta's time the two personal attendants were inspected separately, one at a time - so that the King was never left unattended even for a few seconds.
Paula had witnessed the inspection and had been incredulous when Charlotte had been summarily sentenced to one hundred lashes for her slovenly turnout. The Commandant had personally inspected both girls. Paula had seen Charlotte and there had been nothing in any way amiss with her appearance. She wondered whether the increasingly erratic Commandant was losing her reason.
If Charlotte had been shocked and terrified at the savage and unwarranted award, she did not show it. With that calm acceptance of discipline that was the hallmark of the elite Guard she had saluted smartly and returned to her duties. Paula stole the occasional glance at the soon to be flogged Charlotte and marvelled at her calm demeanour. Once again Lady Paula, who had served as a frequently punished auxiliary for a time, wondered why there was so much competition to enrol in a unit which treated its members so harshly and, in this case, so monstrously unfairly.
She went over to the opposite window and looked down at the Private Courtyard. Now that the well had been uncovered and the day's supply of water taken up, there was not a tremendous amount of activity there, in fact it was as quiet as the grave. Even so, there did seem to be some violence going on in the Guard's Rest Room. If a fight was in progress then the two quarrelsome Golden Guards in question had best be careful not to be found out! Quite a few unexplained bruises and cuts had been overlooked in the past few months, despite a likely breach of the strict rule against unauthorised brawling, but a crackdown was about due. It could just be that this particular quarrelsome couple would be made an example of.
Paula rather hoped the pair's fighting each other would not be found out. In Paula's opinion, it was better to get these petty squabbles settled quickly rather than allow resentment to fester, and a good quick fight, such as appeared to be in progress right now, was the best way to go about it. And this had been Roberta's view.
In any case, the Lady Paula was getting to be a bit sick of all the punishments of late. Some of them, like the impending flogging of poor Charlotte, had been as grossly unfair as they had been savage. There should be a better way of regulating the Golden Guard than bloody and capriciously awarded floggings every night. Not that morale seemed to be adversely affected by so many women's painful and disfiguring experiences. But, by this time, Lady Paula was tired of watching. Seeing Roberta on the punishment stand had been different, of course! But that had been a long time ago and in any case she had long since forgotten her former Mistress.
Looking up, she saw a raven perched on top of the opposite roof. The bird seemed to be staring right into her eyes and with unnatural intensity. It winked! Paula nearly fell through the floor. She knew enough of sorcery to be well aware that this was no ordinary bird. Something significant was afoot today! Perhaps the creature constituted a threat of some kind. She was undecided over whether to have the bird shot when she felt a great need to leave the Presence Chamber for a few minutes. It was not an upset stomach, but a compelling feeling that she needed to be outside, that drew her away from the King's side.
Coming out into the open courtyard she felt the cold air against her tender skin for the first time since leaving the now forgotten Roberta. Because of the King's insistence on her twenty four hours a day seven days a week nudity she had never felt much like coming out of doors in the winter. And although it was now springtime it was still far from warm. Today, in particular, was chilly in the extreme! She looked at the two Guards on duty outside the Royal apartments, where Roberta had once mistakenly thought a wasp had stung her, almost two years ago. Both Guards stood rigidly upright and unmoving. Paula felt colder than ever merely by looking at them with their tall and almost naked bodies. She felt colder still when she realised that they would be standing there, motionless in the chill breeze, for seven hours until at last they were relieved.
She decided to walk around the Guard's living quarters and, as soon as she was out of sight of the two gate guards, she felt a hand on her bare shoulder. Looking round she saw a naked girl, younger than she and clearly not a Golden Guard or an auxiliary. Paula knew all the auxiliaries well and this delicate raven haired beauty with the battered face and bruised body was not one of them.
"Go straight to the King, Lady Paula, and tell him you are not well. Then go to your room and lock the door. Do not come out until you hear my voice telling you that all is safe. Hurry! There is no time to lose. Don't worry, Lady Paula! All will be well - I promise you!"
Paula immediately obeyed this amazing woman, who seemed not to feel the early morning chill any more than did the hardy Guards. She realised, as she sped to the King's side that she ought to have asked this strangely compelling apparition what right she had be here in the first place let alone naked and issuing orders to the future Queen.
Ten minutes later she was in her room, locking and bolting the solid door behind her. As she lay on her bed she thought about that strange naked dark eyed and beautiful girl. For she was very, very lovely, despite her battered face and black and blue body. The girl had clearly been attacked recently - either that or she had been involved in a pretty ferocious fight. It had been a fight, decided Paula. Without having any reason to do so, she knew that the girl was a warrior - of a sort.
Paula had only once seen a woman involved in a fight using her bare fists and that had been when Roberta had fought and killed Bernard at the bandit's camp several months ago, not too long after she had helped her to escape. She found herself fantasising about Amy's injuries and how they had been acquired. As she constructed a likely scenario, involving this slim but obviously very exciting young woman, she found herself becoming sexually aroused.
What Paula needed was a proper relationship, one that went beyond being slapped on the bottom from time to time! But the King's loyalty to his dying wife meant that this was impossible for now. So Paula was forced in upon herself. Physical violence had always been a thing that turned her on sexually, even if the nightly floggings had become stale entertainment of late. She had masturbated times without number when watching the long suffering Roberta's back being whipped to a bloody mess and also when she had relived these unpleasant episodes later.
Now she found her hands reaching down to that familiar place between her legs as she writhed on the bed, imagining Amy exchanging hard blows with whatever opponent had done such damage to her and ultimately triumphing. For she had no doubt that Amy had triumphed; that had not been a recently defeated woman who had told her what to do with such authority.
Twenty minutes after she had locked herself in her room, feeling more than a little ashamed of her timorous behaviour, a commotion could be heard from down below in the King's Presence Chamber. Soon after this, footsteps became audible running towards her room and there was banging on her door and shouting at her in a rough and coarse voice to come out in the name of the People - whoever they were! She still had a dagger in her room and she ran and got it out of the drawer where it had lain for months. If the intruders did manage to get in she would not die without putting up a fight.
The sounds increased in volume and intensity, with curses, shrieks and, finally, the groans of dying men. At last silence returned. A knock on the door was accompanied by the sound of Amy's voice telling her that it was safe to come out. She opened the door and saw several bodies lying in the corridor. She recognised two as belonging to recently recruited servants. Obviously the Palace had once more been infiltrated by rebels. Roberta, with her uncanny knack of spying out traitors, would have spotted them right away, had them arrested and sent down below for the Chief Torturer and his buddies to play with.
"Come with me, Lady Paula!" said the bruised young woman. "And why don't you put on some of those fine clothes that have been languishing in your wardrobes? I realise that Her Majesty, the Queen, is still alive, but it is nevertheless wrong for you to be naked. The King will assuredly agree when he sees how fine a lady you are in those wonderful garments! Get dressed and come with me!"
Once again it did not occur to the Lady Paula to disobey. Not that it wasn't a very welcome command! She had been longing to dress up for ages and was heartily sick of shivering all day! Long gone were the days when she had found nudity exciting.
On returning to the Presence Chamber Paula saw a very disturbed scene. The King, her adored Freddy, had been slightly wounded and was having his arm dressed by a surgeon. Five very dead-looking bodies were being taken away by members of the Golden Guard. And overseeing these clearing up operations was Roberta, wearing her sword, arrows and quiver - and not only that!
"What HAS been going on?" asked an astounded Lady Paula, dressed in all her finery and looking very imperious. "Is it OK for me to stop forgetting Roberta now, Freddy?"
"You must be mad to come back here, Roberta!" spluttered Amelia as she was released from the blonde giant's iron grip. "They'll kill you this time, after torturing you so horribly that even you will scream for mercy. Why didn't you get out of the country when you had the chance?"
"Shut up, Amelia! Come with me and be quiet, or I'll send you both to dreamland like those two idiots over there!"
"Yes, they are a couple of fools!" agreed Joanna, who was rubbing her arm and trying to restore some feeling now that it had been released from Roberta's brutal grasp. "And it wasn't even much of a fight! Pathetic, in fact! Jenny should be whipped just for being so bad at unarmed combat. She needs six weeks non-stop training to bring her up to scratch, does that one!"
Both girls found themselves being propelled towards the living quarters and were astonished when Roberta pushed them inside the Commandant's room. This was a kind of holy of holies as far as ordinary Guards were concerned. It was an open secret that Bertha was brought here for the purpose of being made love to, but no other Guard would dream of setting foot in here!
"You are mad, Roberta! Fucking insane!" said Joanna. "I hope you make it clear you forced us to come in here. Mind you, people only need to look at you to see nobody could resist you. You are totally amazing these days! How did you get such an amazing body? I want one just like it! You aren't a mere human any longer!"
"Pull the bed to one side and stop talking. You two are really beginning to piss me off," ordered Roberta. She felt like telling Joanna that she, too, could have a body like hers - if only she had seventy years to spare!
It took both Joanna and Amelia five minutes to shift the heavy bed, revealing a square stone underneath it. Roberta then ordered them to pull up the flagstone by the metal ring in the middle. Once again it took both strong and sweating women a long time. When they saw what was under the stone they gasped in sheer astonishment. Inside the recess was the uniform of a golden guard together with a small packet.
"That's very like your sword, Roberta! It IS your sword! And it's your belt too! I see your number etched on it! How did your uniform get here?"
"It was hidden here after I was drugged and robbed," replied Roberta. "See that sachet? That's what is left of the drug they used to poison my food. The stupid women were afraid to be seen disposing of them so they hid them here. Also the witch who prepared the potion wanted the evidence to always be where you have found it. Don't ask me why! I can tell you from personal experience that these witches are a law unto themselves! I suppose she wanted the Commandant to be under her power. Bertha and the Commandant conspired together in this diabolical plot. They were behind the attempt to kill the King that night and they wanted me out of the way. When the plot failed they had me accused and convicted. And this morning they are going to try again to assassinate the King and his beloved favourite, the Lady Paula."
"How do you know they are going to try again?" asked Amelia, still not entirely convinced. Joanna was completely convinced, though and was having difficulty keeping her hands off Roberta's incredible muscles! She worshipped her already!
"Never mind that! We must warn His Majesty! One of you must go and rouse the rest of the Guard and then come to the King's Presence Chamber. You, Amelia!"
Amelia went to sound the alarm and returned pale-faced to tell Roberta that the entire Guard except for the two unconscious fighters, the pair of gate guards, the two personal guards and the three of them were asleep and could not be roused.
"Drugged, the lot of them; just like me! We have no time to lose, girls!" shouted Roberta. "Don't ask questions! I don't know all the answers myself! These bloody witches play their cards very close to their chests - even my dear sweet Amy!"
In a few minutes the three Golden Guards, together with two hastily alerted Gate Guards, were at the door of the Presence Chamber. The two Personal Attendants looked at Roberta with the same amazement that her presence had caused Amelia and Joanna a few moments ago. Hawk-eyed Roberta took in the scene at a glance and didn't like what she saw. Talk about arriving in the nick of time!
"That pair talking to the King! Who let them in? Are you two blind?" shouted Roberta who was now wearing again the weapons that had once been stolen from her.
Two men looked around and saw seven Guards coming straight for them, swords drawn. Before they could do anything they had been overwhelmed, disarmed and killed. At the same time at least twenty other armed men burst into the room and Roberta and her six companions automatically formed a protective circle around the King, preparing to do what they had been trained for and defend him with their lives.
Then another naked woman appeared, herself armed with a deadly looking sword. It was the awesomely lovely Amy, fresh from ordering the Lady Paula to safety, and she neatly killed two of the attackers before taking her place at Roberta's side.
"The Palace is crawling with these bastards, Roberta! I must go and protect your drugged comrades, for they are helpless the way they are. It's going to be a busy few minutes! Have courage! We shall defeat them and you will be the one to kill the most. Just leave a few for me! It's going to be a really super fight!"
With these words, the incredible Amy vanished. Roberta had a vague idea that a raven was fluttering overhead and then she was slightly wounded in the side. From then on the fighting was too fierce for her to notice anything save the flashing blades of the rebels who had gained access to the Palace with such ease, thanks to the foul treachery of she knew who.
Against seven of the Golden Guard, even the score of attackers stood little chance. Roberta alone accounted for six in as many minutes and the group, fighting as one, soon had the odds against them reduced and then eliminated. The four surviving attackers surrendered their weapons, kneeling and begging for a mercy the scurvy knaves would not have extended to their conquerors had the positions been reversed...
"No prisoners!" ordered Roberta, whom no one thought to disobey, despite her fugitive status. The wretched rebels were summarily slaughtered where they knelt.
"We've saved the Chief Torturer some work," joked Roberta as she sheathed her bloody sword and turned to see how the King was. His Majesty, a worthy descendant of a long line of warrior kings, had taken his part in the recent battle and was slightly wounded. Roberta saw that the hurt was trivial.
"Where is the Lady Paula and where is the Queen?" he asked.
"Paula is safe and the Queen was not a target this morning," answered Roberta. "They know she has not long to live."
Amy reappeared after seeing that the drugged Guards were no longer in danger. A few, who had drunk hardly any of the affected water, were recovering already and preparing to rid the Palace of the remaining invaders. Several rebels were trying to get into Paula's room but Amy and Charlotte were sent to deal with them and it took only a few minutes for the pair to slay the lot. At one point Amy was impaled to the wall by a rebel sword. She pulled the weapon out of her body and killed her astounded attacker before he had time to draw breath. No trace of any wound could be seen on her!
"You've got an unfair advantage, Amy!" laughed Charlotte. Charlotte was beginning to realise that her coming whipping might not after all take place and this made her happy, despite the continuing danger.
By this time more and more of the Golden Guard, less heavily drugged than the others, were beginning to recover. Hearing the commotion, they all made for the sound of battle and after no more than twenty minutes from the time the attack started, the rebels had all been arrested and put to death. The Commandant and Bertha were run down and captured several miles away from the Palace, attempting to flee.
The two traitors were loaded with chains, tied to horses and dragged across the rough ground back to the Palace. The pair were then brought before the King. Bertha was trembling in every limb, but the Commandant was defiant and unafraid, despite knowing she had only a short and horribly painful future ahead of her.
"I won't ask you why you betrayed me, former Commandant," said the King, with a richly dressed Paula at his side. "But I want to know all about your fellow conspirators. I want names and I want them all - fast!"
"I will say nothing! Long live democracy. Long live the Republic!" replied the former Commandant.
"To the torturers with her," said the King and the former Head of the Golden Guard was dragged away.
Bertha was by far the easier nut to crack - as Roberta had known she would be. She told all she knew and was then taken away herself to be tortured. It was at this point that Amy remembered her sister, still in the dungeon and still being tormented by the Chief Torturer and his gay friend, the Town Tormentor of Rockwell Green.
"May sister Felicity be released, darling?" she asked Roberta.
Roberta looked at the King, who nodded.
"How could we have forgotten that poor woman's plight? Release the wronged Felicity at once, Commandant Roberta! Then be back here. We have much to discuss today with you! But first you should have your wounds treated."
"My so-called wounds are no more than scratches, Your Majesty, if I may be permitted to say so! I shall indeed be back in Your presence soon!"
After giving instructions for the still comatose Jenny and Beatrice to be locked in the cells, prior to being sentenced for fighting, she went down to the dungeon, that dread chamber where she had been tortured almost to death eighteen months ago.
Felicity hadn't quite got it right about the Torturers' schedule. Her immersion experience was indeed drawing to a close, but the heated irons were nowhere near hot enough as yet to be applied to her chest and stomach. These people were perfectionists to their fingertips - artists, in fact! While the torturers were waiting for the dreaded irons to become white hot, she was put on the rack and given a bit of a quick stretch. Like Roberta before her, she was to be convinced for the rest of her life that this very painful experience had added inches to her height!
The Town Tormentor was given the task of turning the ratchet, just as son as a furiously struggling Felicity had been firmly secured to the horrible instrument. It took all seven of the dungeon staff to subdue her and, with the exception of Julian, the Town Tormentor, they were rugged and hairy-chested men with terrific muscles and hard, hard bodies which they left uncovered above the waist. As she was wrestled into submission by these macho men, Felicity reflected that life down here wasn't all bad!
"Who are your dastardly fellows in this evil plot against the Throne?" asked Julian in his prissy self important voice. What a fucking fairy, thought an enraged Felicity as her joints cracked and strained and her sinews and ligaments tore away from their moorings. She'd need weeks of rehab to get over this!
"I am a loyal member of His Majesty's Golden Guard, you pathetic fairy arsehole! God, if I had just five minutes with you, my friend, you'd know a thing or two about the practical side of pain - not just the theory!"
Soon the irons were deemed sufficiently hot to be applied to the muscular Felicity's magnificently sculpted body and a fresh stage in the "interrogation" began. Felicity, like Roberta a few months ago, smelt the odour of burned flesh and saw a spiral of blue smoke ascending into the dank dungeon air from her freshly scorched chest and belly.
In a few minutes time, iron number one had started to cool off and was no longer glowing so fiercely that it hurt the eyes to look at it. It still hurt the body to be touched by it, though. Did it ever! Iron number two was taken from the fiercely glowing brazier and applied twice, thrice and four times to the squirming, writhing body of Senior Golden Guard Felicity. As iron number two began to glow less fiercely and the first one was ready to be used again, even Felicity wondered how much more of this she could take without screaming and begging them to stop.
Then the door burst open and the chamber was soon full of her comrades, led by Roberta. And Roberta was wearing the Commandant's insignia! Roberta looked stronger than ever - and mad as hell! Was Felicity ever glad to see her! With Roberta, at her side and armed with a sword, was her favourite half-sister, darling little Amy. Poor Amy looked a bit knocked about and the protective older sister Felicity, despite her weakness after nearly two days of non stop torture, couldn't wait to sort out the person responsible.
"Who did that to you, Amy? I'll teach them to hit you! Just let me get at the bastards!"
"Celestine did it, but don't worry! It's all taken care of, Felicity. You should have seen what I did to her," replied Amy proudly looking down at her bruises. "And when Mother has finished with her, there won't be much left of her for you to do anything to! Mummy's really, but really, pissed off with her this time!"
"Two of you take Felicity to her quarters," ordered Roberta. "Don't even think about reporting for duty for at least a week, Senior Guard Felicity! I've been tortured myself and I know how long it takes to get over it!"
Shortly after Felicity had been freed, the ex Commandant was brought down to be tormented herself. Within minutes they had attached her to the drowning machine and her head was being immersed in the tank. Roberta left the torturers to their grisly task. The last she saw of her former Commandant, that once mighty lady was spluttering and gasping prior to going under again!
Roberta felt no pity. She had been shocked beyond measure at the traitorous woman's words of defiance. Democracy! Whatever next? The very idea!
Twenty minutes later, Bertha, screaming and weeping, was brought down and strapped to the table. Soon the white hot irons were searing her flesh and her screams were so loud that they could be heard all over the Palace. The King, upset by the irritating noise, ordered her to be gagged.
Three days later, the pair were brought up to be hung upside down and whipped in front of the entire Golden Guard. This was the first flogging since the abortive rebellion.
The ex-Commandant, silent to the end, died under her lashing, which was what the King had decreed and Roberta had intended. Bertha was given far fewer lashes and within a week, shaven headed and hobbling on whipped feet like Roberta eighteen months ago, was led off to a lifetime's hard labour on Hell Island.
As soon as things began to get back to normal, the two rivals for the fickle Lily's love were brought before the new Commandant.
"What have you to say for yourselves?" asked Roberta.
"We were both guilty of fighting, Madam Commandant," said Beatrice, speaking for both girls, now firm friends once more after several days in a dark cell to think things over and reflect deeply on the error of their ways. "We are truly sorry for letting the Golden Guard down."
"I award twenty lashes each. And Jenny needs to be trained in unarmed combat! I saw enough of that fight to see that her performance was a disgrace! It really sucked, Jenny! Until I judge you to be fully fit to carry out all the duties of a Golden Guard, you are stripped of your uniform. In six weeks you will fight Beatrice again. I do not necessarily expect you to win, but you must put up a very much better show next time! Since your little set-to was instrumental in at least two of the Guards being away from the refectory and happily not being drugged, I suspend the whipping for now. Should you offend again, be assured that the lashes will be added to your punishment on that occasion."
"Golly! I can't believe we got off so lightly! That would have been a hundred for sure a few days ago," said Beatrice as the pair went back on duty, Beatrice to guard duty and poor Jenny, minus her equipment, to be trained to fight bare handed. (Long before her six weeks intensive training were done she was to be one massive bruise! But, when the time came to fight her friend and rival again - officially and in the line of duty this time - she managed to last a very respectable length of time against Beatrice, to whom she was able to do a lot of damage, before being knocked out, and was reinstated.)
"I imagine she's been whipped often enough herself to know the lash is not always the answer," said Jenny. "I guess there will be a lot less blood on the parade ground of an evening in future! She'll make life much harder in lots of ways, but our backs won't get shredded so frequently, and when they do it will be because we really deserve it."
The guard Charlotte, who had been awarded one hundred lashes shortly before the attempted coup, was similarly let off her punishment.
"I know you fairly well, Charlotte! You do make the odd slip up, but this time you get the benefit of the doubt. I imagine you were punished as a way of upsetting you and making you less attentive. You more than made up for any fault in your turn out by your bravery on that day. We could not have done it without you!"
The King appointed the totally rehabilitated Roberta to temporary command of the entire Army as well as the Golden Guard. Her first action in this capacity was to lead an expedition against the now banned Ladies' League for Truth and Decency in the part of the country where she had spent so many painful hours being flogged for doing no more than wearing the King's uniform - albeit a very exiguous uniform!
The League's ringleaders were brought back and handed over to the Chief Torturer, who, together with his friend from Rockwell Green, made many very interesting discoveries concerning the ability of humans to stay under water for longer and longer periods. These findings were to be the subject of a scientific paper submitted to the Torturers' Annual Convention later that year - a paper which earned both men tremendous kudos. Both of these accomplished and dedicated torturers rose, in time, to the very top of their profession.
Alfonso's band were also hunted down and killed, except for the leader, who was also brought back and given three horrific weeks in the dungeon before being taken to the Men's Hell Island, where he found many fellow bandits with whom to labour and toil. He was joined by more and more as the years went by.
Felicity left the Golden Guard three months after the coup and married her long-time gentleman friend. Roberta was glad to see her go. Felicity was a fine woman, but she had exercised an unfortunate influence on some of her younger comrades who had begun to show disturbing signs of a sexual and romantic interest in men. Roberta soon stamped that out, and for a while, the floggings resumed their previous severity until Sapphic love once more became the norm.
As Roberta succinctly put it, "I want to lead a band of hard women, not a bunch of silly giggling girls!"
Amy and Roberta remained quite inseparable for the rest of Roberta's exceptionally long tenure as Commandant. Despite throwing herself into the thickest part of the fighting on hundreds of occasions, Roberta, although horribly wounded time and time again, did not get the glorious death in battle that she had wanted as a romantic girl. Mysteriously, her wounds always healed quickly and left no scars.
The Queen died a month after Roberta's return and Paula became Queen soon after. She had several sons in the years that followed and the future of the Royal House was assured.
When Roberta finally retired, she and Amy went to live together near to where she had first met Queen Paula. On their first day of retirement Roberta looked at her face in the mirror. Something had been puzzling her for a while, now.
"I seem to look younger all the time, these days, darling Amy! And so do you. Have you an explanation, you adorable little witch?"
Amy blushed prettily, looking hardly seventeen years old, despite being every second of thirty-eight.
"Actually, Roberta, you're a witch like me these days and have been since I fought Celestine for the second time. Mummy decided on it when Celestine behaved so badly. My bad sister looks older and older these days, being no longer a witch herself after you took her place. Oh, Roberta my sweet! We're going to have such fun together, casting spells on all and sundry!"
"Nice spells, I hope," said Roberta. She doubted it, somehow. Amy was a mischievous little darling, even after all this time!
"Of course, sweetheart! Well - fairly nice ones! Don't look at me like that, Roberta! It's not our fault if some people don't have a sense of humour! Is it?"