Title: The Ma’Rani Chronicles – Kadissa’s Faith Restored
Author: Layla_Aaron (aka Luscious_Words)
Feedback address: email@example.com
Date in Calendar: 17 June 2011
Fandom: Original fiction; original characters
Summary: 'The Ma'Rani Chronicles: Kadissa's Faith Restored' is the introduction to the world inhabited by feline and canine shape shifters as well as immortals. Trapped in a world of sexual slavery for three centuries, Kadissa finds herself rescued one night by a woman willing to allow herself to be tortured in exchange for Kadissa's release. Intimacy with Xhalina, an avatar of a pleasure/fertility goddess, helps start the healing process for Kadissa.
Warnings: Offscreen violence; references to knifeplay.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD11
Disclaimer: Original characters from my fertile imagination.
Kadissa’s hand shook with a fine tremor as she drew a black line across her left eyelid, and she paused momentarily to collect herself. She stared at the reflection of the door in the mirror, expecting him to walk through the door at any moment. She shivered then resumed applying her makeup. If her makeup was not immaculate she would earn new bruises; bruises no one could see unless she undressed. Kadissa swallowed hard. She stepped into the low-back, black halter dress, placed the filigree silver collar around her neck, and put on a pair of teardrop diamond earrings – all items selected by the man who controlled every aspect of her life.
With a few deft movements, she swept her waist-length hair up into an elaborate French twist. She gazed at her reflection while she secured the upswept do with strategically placed pins. Kadissa braced her hands on the edge of the ivory marble counter, took a deep breath to steady her nerves then exhaled through her mouth. Tears threatened to well in her eyes. Her teeth sank into her lip and she squeezed her eyes closed. Runny mascara equaled bruises; bruises left on her body by the man she was forced to call “Master.” Over three centuries of slavery, passed from one sadistic bastard to another, and all she craved was release. Release from the pain and abuse; release from this hellish life. The sound of Alejandro’s harsh laughter in the next room sent a shiver down her spine. She drew in another slow, deep breath then slipped on the black stiletto heels before walking into the adjoining room to await the man’s approval.
Her master cast a cursory glance at her, snarled something into the cell phone then nodded. His gaze landed on her once again, staring intently at her face. He barked harsh words into the cell phone then snapped it shut and turned his full attention to her. “Take your hair down.”
Kadissa pulled the pins from her hair and let it cascade down her back. She gave her head a shake while curling her fingers around the pins. Unable to tell from his expression if he approved or not, she waited silently for him to speak. She knew she would suffer if he didn't approve and their departure was delayed while she fixed whatever he deemed necessary. As much as she wanted to close her eyes, she kept her gaze on him. Unlike some of her previous masters, Alejandro did not like a slave to bow their head, drop their gaze. He took pleasure in seeing fear and pain in the eyes of his slaves.
Alejandro nodded. "Better." He strode toward her and grasped her chin. "So regal and elegant, yet so common," he murmured. "A common priestess and whore, no one special." His words should have cut like the finest of his blades, but she knew the truth he did not. She also knew better than to contradict him. As high priestess to the goddess Nysa, she was one of few trained to officiate over the ascension of the Ma'Rani. If only she could find the woman who would be Ma'Rani. But in her current state she could neither search for the royal shapeshifter, nor officiate over her ascension. Worse yet, she could not have the protection of that special woman.
He released her. “Put on your wrist and ankle cuffs then join me downstairs.” He dismissed her with a wave of his hand and stalked from the room.
In the limousine Alejandro hooked a small chain between her ankle cuffs then hooked her wrist cuffs together. Kadissa cowered against door, wishing she could yank the door open and fling herself from the moving vehicle. That would serve no purpose because any injuries she’d sustain would heal themselves in a short amount of time. It could be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage of being a shapeshifter, depending on the situation. While blessed with incredible strength and an ability to heal herself and others, Kadissa was also weak from lack of food. She relied on the limited kindness of other slaves in the household for her meals, and she’d not eaten in two days.
Alejandro stroked the back of his fingers down her cheek, and she stiffened her spine to keep from shuddering in revulsion. “Tonight, I will finally taste her blood. Royal blood for a common slave. I think I am getting the better end of the deal.” He let out a sinister chuckle. “I suppose I will miss you, but I’m sure I can find a replacement easily enough.” He grasped her chin in a tight grip, forced her to look at him. “Slaves like you are never in short supply.”
Kadissa met his gaze but said nothing in reply. She didn’t recognize the route and knew better than to ask where they were going. When he released her chin, she turned to stare out the window. In her mind, she went over his words again and again. A small frisson of hope blossomed as she realized freedom might finally be within her grasp. Was it too much to wish for? Kadissa squeezed her eyes closed and prayed.
An hour later, the limousine stopped. Kadissa didn’t recognize the elaborate three-story mansion. At a slow speed, the car made its way up the tree-lined drive. Her heart pounded in fear. She felt her hopes for freedom fade into a black hole of despair. This seemed like every other time she’d been passed to another master. She clenched her jaw, biting back the tears threatening to stream down her cheeks. She was no closer to freedom than she had been when she dressed.
Kadissa huddled in a tight ball outside the bedroom door in fear for her life and the life of the woman behind the door. She considered scurrying into the nearest corner but remained by the door, straining to hear the slightest sound. The reputation of the sadistic bastard who’d brought her here preceded him; he hadn’t earned the name of Alejandro el Carcinero without reason. Kadissa cringed as she fretted over what viciousness he might be dishing out to the other woman. She knew his love for his blade. Although she herself had never felt the cut of his blade, she’d seen his handiwork many times on others. He would show little to no mercy and enjoy every second of it.
She lifted her head and caught a glimpse of the woman who’d greeted them at the front door. The deep growl emanating from her own chest surprised Kadissa as she glared with fierce intent at the other woman. Her tigress, her inner beast, longed to race down the hall and tear the bitch apart for allowing such horrific torture. Yet she reined in her animal side. She’d save her strength rather than waste it on a traitor. She stared the other woman down.
Breaking eye contact first, Kadissa tried once more to hear any noise from the bedroom. Nothing, not a peep, even with her extra sensitive hearing. The room must be sound-proofed to preserve the silence of the elegant hallway. A shiver danced along her spine as she tried to keep any thought of what torture lay behind that door. She closed off her train of thought and retreated deep into a peaceful place in her mind, drifting back to the days she trained as priestess to Nysa.
Unsure of how much time had passed, Kadissa flinched and recoiled when the door flew open and the dark-haired man stepped out. With a blood-covered dagger in one hand and a malevolent sneer on his face, Alejandro presented the image of evil incarnate. She could only imagine what he’d done and she didn’t want to.
Kadissa whimpered when he grabbed her long hair, twisted it around his hand and hauled her into the bedroom. She scrambled behind him to keep the tension of his grip slack, unable to endure the pain of her hair pulled taut so soon after he pulled her from the limousine into the mansion. The sight of blood splatters stopped her short.
Alejandro untangled his fingers from her hair and let out a harsh, demonic chuckle. “I believe I got the better end of this bargain. A taste of royal blood for a common slut. The bitch is all yours.” He smirked at the titian-haired woman clinging to the four-poster bed.
“She’s not common and she’s not a slut,” the woman hissed. “She was a slave, forced to degrade herself.” The woman drew in a deep breath. “Now, get the fuck out of my establishment,” she growled. “You’ve contaminated it enough.”
An evil laugh echoed in the room and hallway as Alejandro exited. Kadissa shuddered, unable to stop the tears slipping down her cheeks. She brushed them away then took the opportunity to glance at her savior. Freedom was hers and Kadissa wanted to thank the person responsible.
A sharp cry caught in her throat as she stared at the petite woman. The blood trails from her hips and pelvis ruined the sensual image created by her voluptuous curves and shoulder-length tresses. Alejandro had lived up to his name and gone beyond anything Kadissa had ever seen him do.
Kadissa rushed to the woman’s side, catching her when her knees buckled. She recognized the woman by the small birthmark on her hip. Her heart raced. In her arms she held the woman who would be queen, the future Ma’Rani. Kadissa jumped when the door flew open and turned to see who entered the room.
“Xhalina?” The woman Kadissa considered a traitor hurried over to them. “Why do you keep doing this?” She bent at the waist, started to touch the redhead, and Kadissa snarled at her, baring her teeth. The woman stepped back and stared at her.
A deep warning growl escaped Kadissa. “Keep your hands off her, you traitor. You did nothing to stop this, and I doubt your abilities to help her.” Kadissa cuddled the injured woman against her then rose with her in her arms. She carried Xhalina to the side of the bed and gently settled her on top of the burgundy coverlet. She ignored the intruder, focusing instead on the patient. With the right care, Kadissa could heal all the wounds on Xhalina and leave no scars.
“How dare you? She is bleeding because of you, not me.” The other woman grabbed Kadissa’s arm and spun her around. They glared at one another, a battle of wills between a pair of tigresses.
“Lalita, that’s enough. These accusations will not help matters. I’ll explain it…” The injured woman trailed off with a cough. She rolled to her side and slowly curled into a fetal position, facing the pair of women.
“Kadissa, please do not be angry with Lalita. She tries to stop me every time…” Xhalina paused to draw in a deep breath; her body shuddered from the effort. “But each time I ignore her pleas,” she whispered.
“You, you allow this torture?” Kadissa stared at the future queen. “Why would you do that? What could be so important that you would allow…this?” She waved her hand at Xhalina’s injuries.
“There are times when it is the only method by which a woman is released. This is a small price to pay to ensure the freedom of women like you.” She offered Kadissa a sad smile. “With Lalita’s help, the wounds should heal.”
Glancing between the injured woman and Lalita, Kadissa whispered, “Please allow me to help you. I have healing powers and would be honored if you would consent, my queen.”