Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Beauty's Release

Anne Rice

  Ann Rice

  Writing as A. N. Roquelaure

  Beauty's Release




  AFTER HER century-long slumber, the Sleeping Beauty opened her eyes at the kiss of the Prince to find her garments stripped away and her heart as well as her body under the rule of her deliverer. At once, Beauty was claimed as the Prince's naked pleasure slave to be taken to his Kingdom.

  With the grateful consent of her parents, and dazed with desire for the Prince, Beauty was then brought to the Court of Queen Eleanor, the Prince's mother, to serve as one of hundreds of naked Princes and Princesses, all playthings of the Court until such time as they would be rewarded and sent home to their Kingdoms.

  Dazzled by the rigors of the Training Hail, the Hall of Punishments, the ordeal of the Bridle Path, and her own mounting passion to please, Beauty remained the undisputed favorite of the Prince and the delight of her sometime Mistress, the lovely young Lady Juliana.

  Yet she could not ignore her secret and forbidden infatuation with the Queen's exquisite slave, Prince Alexi, and finally the disobedient slave, Prince Tristan.

  After glimpsing Prince Tristan among the disgraced of the castle, Beauty, in a moment of seemingly inexplicable rebellion, brought upon herself the very same punishment destined for Tristan: to be sent away from the voluptuous Court to the degradation of harsh labor in the nearby village.



  Sold on the village auction block at dawn, Tristan soon found himself tethered and harnessed to the carriage of a handsome young Master, Nicolas, the Queen's Chronicler. And Beauty, put to work in Mistress Lockley's Inn, became the plaything of the Captain of the Guard, the Inn's chief lodger.

  But within days of their separation and sale, Beauty and Tristan were both seduced by the iron discipline of the village. The sweet terrors of the Place of Public Punishment, the Punishment Shop, the Farm and the Stable, the Soldiers' Night at the inn enflamed them as well as frightening them, causing them to forget their former selves utterly.

  Even the harsh judgment of the runaway slave, Prince Laurent, his body bound to a Punishment Cross for exhibit, only served to tantalize them.

  And, as Beauty gloried in chastisements at last equal to her spirit, Tristan became hopelessly enamored of his new Master.

  Yet no sooner had the pair met and confided their shameless happiness to each other than a band of powerful enemy soldiers attacked the village, kidnapping Beauty and Tristan along with other choice slaves, including Prince Laurent, to be taken by sea to the land of a new Master, the Sultan.

  Within hours of the attack, the stolen Princes and Princesses learned that they would not be ransomed. By agreement between their sovereigns, they had been condemned to serve in the Sultan's palace until such time as they would be safely returned to their Queen for further judgment.

  Kept in long, rectangular golden cages in the hold of the Sultan's ship, the slaves accepted their new destiny.

  As our story continues, it is night on the quiet vessel and the long voyage is nearing its close.

  And Prince Laurent is alone with his thoughts about his slavery....




  But something had changed. As soon as I opened my eyes, I knew we were close to land. Even in the shadowy silence of the cabin, I could smell the living things of the land.

  And so the journey is coming to an end, I thought. And we will finally know what awaits us in this new captivity in which we are destined to be even lower, and more abject, than before.

  I was as relieved as I was frightened, as curious as I was filled with dread.

  And by the light of the one night lantern, I saw Tristan lying awake, his face tense as he peered into the darkness. He too knew that the voyage was almost ended.

  The naked Princesses still slept, however, looking like exotic beasts in their golden cages. The piquant little Beauty was a yellow flame in the gloom, Rosalynd's curly black hair draped her white back to the curve of her plump little buttocks. And above, the long, delicate-boned Elena lay on her back, her straight brown hair combed out over her pillow.

  Lovely flesh, these three, our tender fellow prisoners: Beauty's rounded little arms and legs begging to be pinched as she lay snuggled in her sheets; Elena's head thrown back in the total abandon of sleep, her long slender legs wide apart, one knee against the bars of the cage; Rosalynd turned on her side as I looked at her, her large breasts falling gently forward, nipples darkly pink and erect.

  And to my far right the black-haired Dmitri, vying with the blond Tristan in muscular beauty, Dmitri's face oddly cold in slumber, though by day he was often the kindest and most accepting of us all. We Princes, caged as securely as the women, probably looked no more human, no less exotic.

  And each of us wore the stiff little covering of gold mesh between our legs, forbidding us the slightest examination of our own hungry organs.

  We had come to know each other very well during the long nights at sea when our guards were not near enough to hear our whispers. And in our quiet hours of thinking and dreaming, perhaps we had come to better know ourselves.

  "Do you feel it, Laurent?" Tristan whispered. "We are near to the shore."

  Tristan was the anxious one, the one who grieved for his lost Master, Nicolas, yet watched everything around him.

  "Yes," I answered under my breath, with a little glance at him. Flash of his blue eye. "It can't be long."

  "I only hope..."

  "Yes?" I said again. "What is there to hope for, Tristan?"

  "... that they don't separate us."

  I didn't answer. I lay back and closed my eyes. What did it matter to talk about it when soon all things would be revealed? And we could do nothing to alter them.

  "Whatever happens," I said dreamily, "I'm glad the voyage is ended. I'm glad we'll soon to be put to some use again."

  After the initial tests of our passion, we had not been used again by our captors. And for a fortnight we had been tortured by our own desires, the boyish attendants only laughing gently at us and quickly binding our hands when we dared to touch the delicate wedge-shaped casings of mesh that imprisoned our privates.

  We had all suffered equally, it seemed, with nothing to distract us in the hold of the ship but the sight of one another's nakedness.

  And I couldn't help but wonder if these young caretakers, so thoughtful in every other regard, realized how relentlessly we had been schooled in the appetites of the flesh, how our Masters and Mistresses in the Queen's Court had taught us to crave even the crack of the strap to alleviate the fire within us.

  Not a half day of the old servitude had passed without thorough use of our bodies, and even the most obedient of us had received constant chastisement. And those sent down from the castle to the penance of the village had known little rest either.

  But those were different worlds, as Tristan and I had often agreed during our whispered nighttime conversations. In both the village and the castle, we had been expected to speak, if only to say, "Yes, My Lord," or, "Yes, My Lady." And we had been given express commands and sent now and then to do errands unaccompanied. Tristan had even conversed at length with his cherished master, Nicolas.

  But we had been warned before we ever left the Queen's domain that these servants of the Sultan would treat us as if we were mute animals. Even if we could understand their strange foreign tongue, they would never speak to us. And in the Sultan's land any lowly pleasure slave who attempted speech would merit immediate and severe punishment.

  The warnings had been borne out. All during the voyage, we had been petted, stroked, pinched
, and guided about in tender and condescending silence.

  When, out of desperation and boredom, Princess Elena had spoken aloud, begging to be let out of the cage, she had been quickly gagged, her ankles and wrists bound against the small of her back, her undulating body suspended on a chain from the cabin ceiling. And there she remained, the attendants scowling at her in shock and outrage, until she had given up her vain and muffled protests.

  And how kindly and carefully she had been taken down afterwards. Her silent lips had been kissed, her hurting wrists and ankles oiled until the red marks of the leather cuffs were gone from them.

  The young silk-robed boys had even brushed her sleek brown hair and massaged her buttocks and back with their strong fingers, as if such irascible little beasts as we must be soothed in this manner. Of course, they had stopped soon enough when they realized the soft shadow of brown curly hair between Elena's legs was moist, and that she could not help but move her hips against the silk of the grooming mattress, so excited was she by their touch.

  With little scolding gestures and shakes of the head, they had made her kneel up, holding her wrists again as they fitted her little vagina with its inflexible metal covering, the chains coming round her thighs and quickly clasped tight. Then she had been put in her cage, arms and legs tied to the bars with thick satin ribbons.

  Yet this display of passion had not angered them. On the contrary, they had stroked her wet sex before covering it, smiling at her as if to approve her heat, her need. Yet all the moaning in the world had not brought mercy from them.

  And the rest of us had only watched in lustful silence, our own starved organs pulsing vainly. I wanted to climb into her cage and tear off the little shield of gold mesh and stab my cock in the wet little nest made for it. I wanted to open her mouth with my tongue. l wanted to squeeze her heavy breasts in my hands, suckle the small coral-colored nipples, and see her flushed red with throbbing pleasure as I rode her to the finish. But these were but painful dreams. Elena and I could only look at each other, as I hoped in silence that sooner or later we might be allowed the ecstasy of each other's arms.

  The dainty little Beauty was also most intriguing, and the buxom Rosalynd with her big mournful eyes absolutely luscious, but it was Elena who was full of cleverness and dark disdain for what had befallen us. During our whispered talks, she laughed at our fate, tossing her heavy brown hair over her shoulder as she spoke.

  "Who has ever had three such marvelous choices, Laurent?" she asked. "The Sultan's palace, the village, the castle. I tell you, in any one I can find delights to suit me."

  "But, darling, you don't know what it will be like in the Sultan's palace," I said. "The Queen had hundreds of naked slaves. In the village there were hundreds at labor. What if the Sultan has even more than that – slaves from all the realms of the East and the West, so many slaves he can use them for footstools?"

  "Do you think he does?" she asked excitedly. Her smile became charmingly insolent. Such wet lips and exquisite teeth. "Then we must find some way to distinguish ourselves, Laurent." She leaned her chin on her hand. "I don't want to be just one of a thousand suffering little Princes and Princesses. We must see that the Sultan knows who we are."

  "Dangerous thoughts, my love," I said, "when we can neither speak nor be spoken to, when we are pampered and punished as simple little beasts."

  "We'll find a way, Laurent," she said, with a mischievous wink. "Nothing ever frightened you before, did it? You ran away just to see what it would be like to be captured, didn't you?"

  "You're too quick-witted, Elena," I said. "What makes you think I didn't run in fear?"

  "I know you didn't. No one ever ran away from the Queen's castle in fear. It's always done in the spirit of adventure. I did it myself, you see. That is why I was sentenced to the village."

  "And was it worthwhile, my dear?" I asked. Oh, if only I could kiss her, make her pour her high spirits into my mouth, pinch her little nipples. It was a great cruelty that I'd never even been near her during our days in the castle.

  "Yes, it was worth it," she said thoughtfully. She had been in the village a year when the raid happened, a female farm slave of the Lord Mayor, working in his country gardens, searching out weeds in the grass with her teeth on her hands and knees, the gardener a stout and severe man, never without a strap in his hand.

  "But I was ready for something new," she said, turning over on her back, letting her legs go apart as she always did. I couldn't stop staring at the thick brown hair of her sex under the woven gold shield. "And then the Sultan's soldiers came as if I had summoned them with my imagination. Remember, Laurent, we have to do something to distinguish ourselves."

  I laughed to myself. I liked her spirit.

  But then I liked all of them: Tristan, a beguiling mixture of strength and need, who bore his suffering in silence; and Dmitri and Rosalynd, both contrite and dedicated to pleasing, as if they had been born slaves instead of royalty.

  But Dmitri could not control his agitation or his lust, could not hold still for punishment or use, though his mind was filled with nothing but high thoughts of love and submission. He had spent his short village sentence pilloried in the Place of Public Punishment, awaiting his whippings on the Public Turntable. And Rosalynd too knew no semblance of control unless shackled tightly. Both had hoped the village would purge their fears, allow them to serve with the finesse they admired in others.

  As for Beauty, well, next to Elena she was the most enchanting, the most unusual slave. Cold she seemed, yet undeniably sweet, thoughtful and rebellious. Now and then through the dark nights at sea I saw her staring at me through the bars of her cage with a puzzling expression on her strong little face, her lips spreading easily in a smile when I acknowledged her.

  When Tristan wept, she would say softly in his defense:

  "He loved his Master." And she would shrug as if she found it sad but incomprehensible.

  "And you loved no one?" I had asked her one night. "No, not really," she said. "Only other slaves now and then.... And there came that provocative look that made my cock rise at once. There was something savage in her, something untouched, for all her seeming fragility.

  But now and then she seemed to brood on her resistance. "What would it mean to love them?" she asked once, almost as if talking to herself. "What would it mean to yield the heart completely? The punishments, I love. But to love one of the Masters or Mistresses...." She looked afraid suddenly.

  "It troubles you," I said sympathetically. The nights at sea worked on all of us. The isolation worked on all of us.

  "Yes. I long for something I have not had," she whispered. "I deny it, but I long for it. Maybe it is only that I haven't found the proper Master or Mistress....

  "The Crown Prince, it was he who brought you to the Kingdom. Surely you found him a truly magnificent Master."

  "No, not at all," she said dismissively. "I can barely remember him. He did not interest me, you see. What would happen if I were mastered by someone who interested me?" And her eyes took on a strange glitter, as if seeing for the first time a whole new realm of possibility.

  "I can't tell you," I had said, feeling suddenly at a loss. Up until that moment I was sure that I had loved my Mistress, Lady Elvera. But now I wasn't entirely certain. Maybe Beauty spoke of a deeper, finer love than I had ever known either.

  The fact was, Beauty interested me. She who lay beyond my grasp upon her silken bed, her naked limbs as perfect as a sculpture in the semi-dark, her eyes full of half-revealed secrets.

  Yet all of us, despite our differences, our talk of love, were true slaves. That was certain.

  We had been opened up and inalterably changed by our servitude. No matter what our fears and conflicts, we were not the blushing, awestruck beings we had once been. We swam, each at his or her own pace, in the dazzling current of erotic torment.

  And as I lay thinking, I sought to understand the important differences between the castle life and the village life, and to
guess what this new captivity in the Sultanate promised us.


  I HAD SERVED well for a year in the castle, property of the strict Lady Elvera, who had had me whipped each morning as a matter of course, while she took her breakfast. She was a proud and quiet raven-haired woman with slate-gray eyes, who spent her hours at delicate embroidery. I had kissed her slippers afterwards in thanks for the whipping, hopeful for the smallest crumb of praise – that I had taken the blows well or that she found me handsome still. Seldom did she speak a word. Seldom did she look up from her needle.

  In the afternoons, she took her work to the gardens, and there I coupled with Princesses for her amusement. I had first to catch my pretty prey, which meant a hard chase through the flower beds, and then the blushing little Princess must be carried back and laid at My Lady's feet for inspection, after which my real performance commenced and must be carried through perfectly.

  Of course, I had loved these moments – pumping my heat into the shy and quivering body beneath me, even the most frivolous Princess shaken by the chase and the capture, and both of us burning under My Lady's steady gaze as she nevertheless went on with her sewing.

  Pity I had never covered Beauty during this time. Beauty had remained the Crown Prince's favorite until she fell from grace and was sent down to the village. Only the Lady Juliana was allowed to share her. But I had glimpsed her on the Bridle Path and longed to have her gasping under me. How finely tuned a slave she had been even in the first few days, her form as she marched beside Lady Juliana's horse quite impeccable. Her hair was golden as wheat as it hung down beside her heart-shaped face; her blue eyes flashed with burnt pride and undisguised passion. Even the great Queen was jealous of her.

  But, looking back on all of it now, I did not for a moment doubt Beauty, when she said she had not loved those who claimed her affections. I could have seen, had I looked, that her heart wore no chains then.

  But what had been the particular quality of my life in the halls of the castle? My heart did wear chains. But what had been the essence of my bondage?