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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sanguin


“But we don’t have any money!”
“I’m sorry, but the law states that you pay your taxes one way or another. If you can’t pay with money, we’ll take one of your children to work until they can pay off what you owe.”
The woman gasped in horror, and covered her mouth as she tried not to cry. Her husband stood as stoically as he possibly could, but his posture was obvious hurt too. They had 5 children, but 4 of them were younger than 10. Only their eldest daughter seemed old enough to work off the taxes they owed.
“H… How long will it take?” The husband asked.
The tax collector shrugged. “Who knows? Generally a year or two.”

*****

“Be careful Danny!”
“Don’t worry Sandra; I’m the best at climbing trees.”
“I agreed to catch the apples, not you if you fall!” Sandra warned.
“I’ve been climbing these trees all my life; I’m not going to fall!” Danny assured her.
“You’re lucky your family owns an orchard,” Sandra stated, hiding her envy.
“Don’t worry, in just 3 years, I’ll be 18, and then I can marry you. It’ll be your orchard too then,” Danny informed her.
Sandra gasped. “Marry?! Who said anything about getting married?”
“My parents. They think you’d be the perfect bride for me.”
Sandra laughed. “Oh Danny… You’re probably right. I know my parents will be glad when they can marry me off. I’m just glad I’m still only 14, and they have to wait at least another 2 years.”
“That’s strange, look! There are men coming this way,” Danny pointed out.
Sandra shaded her eyes with a hand, and squinted to get a better look. “You’re right, and they have my parents with them. I wonder if something is wrong?”
The men were soon standing in front of the tree.
“Sandra…” her father began, trying hard not to cry.
The tax collector cleared his throat. “This is the one?”
Sandra’s father nodded.
“Fine then, I hereby take her into custody until she can work off the tax you owe. I’d suggest that you do whatever it takes pay your taxes in the future, or it will take even longer before she can be returned.”
Two of the men accompanying the Tax collector seized Sandra.
“No! Wait!” She cried out frantically. “Where are you taking me? What’s going on?”
“Don’t worry; you’ll see your parents again… as soon as you pay what they owe.”
 “How much?” Sandra demanded to know, resisting them the best she could.
“200 zeni.”
Sandra slumped. It was the appropriate amount of taxes for a family that owned the amount of land they did. The problem was that their land had been almost barren the last couple of years, and they couldn’t afford to pay it. It would probably take her a couple of years to work that off, especially if they couldn’t pay next year.
They dragged her to a cart full of goods and a couple of other children they had taken in lieu of money. She quieted down when she realized that if she protested too much, the collector would just take one of her younger siblings.
“No!” Danny protested. “Surely my parents can help!”
The collector smirked. “Go ask them. If they’re willing, they can come get her from us before we return to the Capitol city.”

⌇⌇⌇⌇⌇

“It’s been 3 years! Surely she’s paid off your taxes by now!” Danny roared.
Sandra’s parents shrugged. “All we know is that she did something not too long after she left that put a large credit in place of our taxes. We have no idea why she hasn’t come home.”
“That doesn’t sound good,” Danny murmured with a frown. “I’m going to go find her!”
“What if you can’t find her? What if she’s unable to come home?” Her parents asked, betraying the fact that they really were very worried about their daughter, even though they tried to pretend that nothing was wrong.
“My grandfather died a couple of months back, and left me some money. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to rescue her no matter what kind of trouble she’s in,” Danny prayed.
“But why? Why would you do this for our daughter?”
Danny was quiet for a moment. “Because… I want to marry her. Because I’m still angry with my parents for not saving her. Because I just have to know what happened to her.”
They each placed a hand on him sympathetically. “Don’t be too hard on your parents. They couldn’t help, we understood that.”
“Even so… I’m going,” Danny stated.
“Good luck,” they wished him, hugging him to convey their gratitude.

“I’m looking for a girl taken instead of taxes three years ago,” Danny informed the Tax Collector.
“Name and location she was taken from?” The Collector asked.
Danny gave him the information he needed, and waited for him to look through his records.
“Ah… It seems that she was too much of a handful, and was sent to work at the mines. From there, a large payment was sent to us, so as far as we’re concerned, she’s fulfilled her service.”
The mines! Danny pushed the alarming thought to the back of his mind, sighed, and mumbled his thanks.

“I’m looking for a girl sent to work in the mines about 3 years ago,” Danny explained to the man in charge. He then gave the necessary information so he could look her up.
“Hmm… She’s not on record as ever having worked here… let me try one more record…”
Danny waited what seemed like forever, but finally, he had an answer.
“She was bought before she ever got here.”
“Bought?” Danny questioned. “As in slavery?”
“No one knows for sure, but every once in a while, a girl is bought by the crown.”
“Do you have any idea where they took her?” Danny asked desperately.
The man shrugged, and then wrote an address down on a piece of paper. “This is my best guess.”
“Thanks…” Danny said, feeling almost depressed. He had really hoped to find her by now.

Danny looked around the courtyard with apprehension. There was no doubt about it, this was the correct address, but he didn’t know whether to hope she was here, or hope she wasn’t.
“Such grotesque statues…” he murmured to himself as he inspected the 4 statues of naked men lining the path to the front door. Each one was the height of actual men, and they had life like skin-tone, but they were all contorted and shackled into awkward and painful positions that no real men could possibly withstand. To add to the realism, the statues all looked like they had been severely beaten and scratched.
Danny caught himself about to touch one, but shivered and backed away before he actually did. One of the statues opened his eyes, and looked straight at him. He clutched his heart, and jumped back at least a foot, almost bumping into a statue on the other side of the path.
“Are you stupid? Leave here before they catch you!” The statue insisted.
“What?” Danny asked. “I’m here to find a girl.”
“Trust me! You don’t want to find any of the girls here!” Another statue exclaimed.
They were seriously freaking him out, so Danny ran away from them towards the door.
“Don’t say we didn’t warn you!” The statues called out after him.
Danny took a moment to calm both his heartbeat and his breathing, and then knocked on the door. The door knocker was shaped like a man bent in half, and in order to use it, one had to grasp its torso, and bang his rear against the door.
“What kind of place is this?” Danny wondered.
The door echoed like thunder for a moment. Danny unconsciously held his breath as he waited for the door to open. Finally, with a sound like timber cracking, the door parted from its frame to reveal a woman.
“Can I help you?” She asked. She was dressed as a maid, and had a kind expression to go along with her sweet aura.
“Um… I’m looking for a girl that was brought here about three years ago. Her name is Sandra.”
“I’m sorry, but there’s no one by that name here,” the maid informed him.
“Are you certain? She’s 17 by now, and has blonde hair and blue eyes.”
“Hmm… it’s true that a couple of girls match that description, but none of them are named Sandra,” the maid stated.
“Can I please see them for myself?” Danny inquired.
“Are you here as a customer then?” The maid wondered.
“Customer?” He paled. If this was some sort of brothel, he would do whatever it took to rescue his future bride.
“If you’re here as a customer, you can come in and look the girls over, but other than that, I can’t let you through the door.”
Danny took a deep breath to give himself time to think.
“Seriously, run away while you still can!” One of the statues yelled.
The maid’s kind and friendly aura evaporated. “Statues are not allowed to talk! If their majesties were not coming for an inspection in less than an hour, I would have you all brought in to be beaten!”
She returned her attention to Danny, her sweet aura back as if it had never disappeared. “Sorry about that. Sometimes the statues forget to keep their mouths shut.”
“Uh…” Danny uttered, not knowing what to say.
“Anyway, we do have their majesties coming soon, so perhaps it would be best if you came back later,” she suggested.
“I’m not leaving until I find her!” Danny insisted.
“Suit yourself,” the maid shrugged. She stepped back to allow him in, and then shut the door with a resounding boom. “It’s also true that girls are bought by our lady from time to time. Those that can handle the rigorous requirements become mistresses here, and those that can’t either become maids, or they go home. Occasionally a girl dies…”
Danny felt his heart stop. “Would you know if Sandra was one of the ones who’ve died?”
“I’ve only worked here for about 2 years, so if she died before I came, you’d have to ask someone else.”
“I see… Well, how many ladies are there?” Danny wondered.
“Total? There’s the Lady, six Mistresses, and 4 of us maids.”
“So… you really would know if someone was named Sandra,” Danny replied, his hope that maybe she was just lost in the crowd utterly crushed.
“We maids are trained in domination just as the Mistresses are, but we are not as…”
“Demanding,” a new woman supplied the missing word. “You are capable of commanding obedience from a naturally submissive man, but you do not have what it takes to break a strong man and bend him to your will.”
The maid nodded. “Exactly so.”
“So the question is, potential customer, do you wish for a relatively gentle touch? Or would you prefer someone who can truly strip you free of your will and remake you into a new person?”
“In just one night?!” Danny asked incredulously.
“Usually, unless you are very strong of spirit,” the woman smirked. She had black hair and blue eyes, and was wearing a strange dress that was low cut, had short sleeves, and the skirt was split up the middle almost to her womanhood. It parted to either side to show off her legs, but was otherwise full length. The dress was purple and black, and abundant with lacy ruffles… and chains… She completed the outfit with a pair of shiny black leather boots that came to her mid thigh, and had long sharp heels.
Danny forced himself to stop thinking about what she was talking about. He shook his head. “I’m just here to find a girl named Sandra.”
The strangely dressed Mistress smiled patiently. “I am Mistress Abattre. It means to beat, as in to beat up any man who does not bend to my will.”
She gestured around the room. “These are my sisters, Mistress Misere, Mistress Douleur, Mistress Soumettre, and Mistress Panique. We’ve all been taught by our Lady how to break a man using our respective specialties. Misery, Pain, Subjugation, and Panic. Which are you in the mood for?”
The four other women were all wearing almost exactly the same outfit, except in different colors contrasting with the black – gray, bright red, dark orange, and dark blue. The dresses were made from expensive fabrics and made the Mistresses look like they could be high society ladies, except they were all twisted and perverse.
Danny held up his hands, and stepped backwards towards the door a few steps. “I really think I’m in the wrong place.”
“As if we will let you leave so easily,” Abattre laughed.
“I…” Danny searched for a good reason for them to let him go. “I probably don’t have enough money to be a customer. I just came here looking for Sandra.”
“That’s not a problem, we can always take our payment in blood,” Mistress Soumettre informed him. She then cupped her hand around her mouth to amplify her voice as she shouted. “Mistress Sanguin, this one is for you!”
The entire room fell silent, and then Danny heard the clicking of heels striding closer. Slowly, a woman wearing the same dress in black and dark red – the color of dried blood, Danny thought – emerged from a dark corridor. She had her blonde hair pulled back into a tight bun.
“Sandra?!” Danny gasped. The woman stared at him coldly, her blue eyes bored holes in his soul. Her expression softened just a hair.
“Danny?”
“Sandra!” Danny exclaimed happily. “I’ve come to rescue you! I have enough money to pay off your debt and bring you home.”
The five other Mistresses all laughed as if he had just told the funniest joke they’d ever heard. Even Sandra smiled in amusement.
“You don’t understand, I am not some sort of slave or indentured servant. I am a free woman in their Majesties service. I am Mistress Sanguin! My specialty is blood… To honor the friendship we once shared, I will give you a choice. Will you stay and pay for the privilege with your blood, or will you leave now while I’m still being generous?”
Danny unconsciously took a step closer to the door. “Your parents are worried about you! Won’t you please come home?”
Sanguin’s soft expression disappeared completely. “Go home? To parents who had no choice but to let me be taken to pay their taxes? Why would I choose that when here I perform an important service? Here, I am powerful!”
Mistress Panique tapped her thigh lightly with a sturdy riding crop. “I beg to differ! We are powerful no matter where we go, but why would any of us leave when all our toys and wonderful playthings are right here?”
“I think I’ll go now,” Danny decided.
“Fine,” Sanguin granted generously. She pointed at the maid, who was still waiting to see if she would be needed.
The maid opened the door, the effort making her muscles harden visibly. Danny suddenly realized that escape from this place would be almost impossible. No wonder the statues warned me not to come in here!
“Tell my parents that I’m well, and happy. Perhaps I’ll visit them… I do miss everyone, but not enough to go home,” Sanguin said.
Outside, Danny discovered a carriage bearing the royal crest, and half a dozen guards unloading an armored wagon full of burly looking men. Sanguin pushed Danny to the side, and whispered a command for him to stay put and out of the way.
Mistress Abbattre ran up to the man who looked like he was the toughest of them all. She punched his left cheek without any warning whatsoever.
“You think you can resist us?” She demanded. “You think that you can withstand all the pain and agony that we will make you suffer? Who knows, maybe you can, but can you withstand that?!”
The men all looked at the statues. “If you resist submitting to our will, we will lock you up out here and leave you to rot!”
“But don’t think that will get you out of daily torture and punishment,” Mistress Douleur continued the obviously well used speech. She selected a different victim, and pressed a metal rod to his abdomen. He screamed as if he was on fire, and tried to get free, but the guards prevented him.
A new woman strode out of the still open door followed by 4 naked but perfectly obedient men. She wore an all black dress – that seemed to shine with a hint of blood as the light hit it – made from velvet. It didn’t have a part to show off her legs, but was decorated with manacles, and various other shiny chains. She carried a letter.
The door to the carriage opened, and the King and Queen stepped out. “Lady Desespoir,” they greeted.
“Majesties,” Lady Desespoir curtseyed respectfully. The men accompanying her all dropped to their knees, and bowed their heads. “As you can see, I have a few men ready to be of service to you.”
“You’ve done an excellent job, as always,” the King praised. He accepted the letter she handed him, which was all the notes they had taken on each of the men. Often, secrets and vital information came out as they broke a man.
“You men!” Lady Desespoir pointed at the prisoners, and then gestured at the obedient men. “Take a good look at these men here. They have been reborn, and now vow to serve the Kingdom and their Majesties without fear or hesitation. This is your fate. If you do not break to our will, you will die. Those are your only options. I am Lady Desespoir, and my specialty is despair!”
One of the prisoners dared to scoff. “You expect us to be afraid of a bunch of women?”
Sanguin marched up to him without the slightest regard for the fact that he was taller and far more muscular than she was. She let him examine her nails for a moment. Each finger was tipped with a sharp metal spike that was a razor.
“I am Mistress Sanguin; you will fear me, because I will take your blood little by little until I have completely exsanguinated you!” She used the nails of her right hand to scratch an X across his chest. It immediately bled profusely. She placed her hand on his neck, and dug one nail in to drive home the point that she held his life in her hands.
Lady Desespoir accepted a packet of information on all the new prisoners, and continued to chat with theKing and Queen for a few moments. Meanwhile, all the Mistresses except Sanguin forced the new prisoners into the house and down to the dungeon. After that, the “inspection” was over, and the King and Queen got in their carriage and left.
Lady Desespoir decided to inspect the statues. She examined them closely, and as hard as they were trying to appear silent and submissive, something in their eyes promised to murder her the first chance they got. She laughed.
“Sanguin, I think it’s time they bleed a little more.”
“Yes, my Lady,” Sanguin replied with a quick curtsey. She circled one slashing him randomly with her nails.
Lady Desespoir snapped her fingers, and ordered. “Bring me some honey!” A maid that had been paying attention from near the door immediately rushed away to do as commanded.
When the maid returned a few moments later, she held out the jar for the Lady. Lady Desespoir smeared honey all over the men after Sanguin scratched them up. The Lady then smiled at the maid.
“Come check on them in the morning. If there’s anything left after the insects and the animals come to feast, then bring them inside and let them decorate a wall in the dungeon for a bit.”
“Yes, my Lady!” The maid replied almost eagerly.
“Came, Sanguin, we have work to do,” she purred, stroking Sanguin’s cheek with one finger as she walked towards the house.
“I will follow momentarily. I just want to send this man away with a message for my family,” Sanguin explained, pointing to Danny, who was gaping at them in horror.
“As you wish,” Desespoir murmured, and then strutted away.
The moment they were alone, Danny shakily approached Sanguin.
“This is a horrible place! What did they do to you?!” He cried out.
“They saved me and gave me a purpose,” Sanguin replied. “I’ll tell you.”

⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩

Sandra sat in the back of the cart with her arms wrapped around her knees. She was still in shock from being ripped from her parents so suddenly. They may have been poor, but they were always happy and loving.
When they arrived at the Tax Collector’s office, the children were all assigned a place to work. They started with the boys, both ten. The Tax Collector examined them carefully.
“This one has spirit. He’ll be a cabin boy… Do you like that? It’s high adventure for you!”
The boy nodded with a grin.
“And the other… You’re not spirited… I think a coal delivery boy,” the Collector pronounced. The boy sighed in relief, and nodded.
He moved on to the other girl in the cart. She was 8 or 9. “Washing dishes in the Dancing Bear Inn. That should be suitable.” She nodded, also looking a bit relieved that he didn’t assign her somewhere horrible.
“You…” He pointed at Sandra as he thought. “You’re old enough to be a maid, or… a shop helper…”
One of the assistant collectors cleared his throat. “Sir… working as a maid or shop helper would take her years to pay off the tax, but if she were sent to the madam, she could pay it off in a matter of months.”
“You have a point…” the Tax Collector mused.
His assistant caressed Sandra’s body as if picturing the delights he would soon uncover.
“No!” Sandra protested. “I’ll be a maid! I’ll be a very good maid!”
The Tax Collector shrugged. “If that’s what you wish.”
His assistant wouldn’t drop the matter though. “Sir, if you just give me a few minutes alone with her, I’m sure I could change her mind.”
Sandra cringed as he squeezed her butt, and then smacked his hand away. “Stop touching me!”
He grabbed her by the wrist. “Why you disobedient little brat!”
She struggled, kicking him in the shin as she tried to pull free from his grasp. The Tax Collector sighed.
“Clearly, she doesn’t have the right attitude to be a maid or a working girl. She needs some discipline. To the mines with her!”
“What?!” Sandra demanded. “Mines?!”
The Tax Collector smiled at her reassuringly. “Don’t worry, the sooner you learn to do what you’re told, the sooner you’ll be returned here for reassignment. … Of course… if it takes you too long to learn your lesson, you’ll likely die, and then we’ll have to make another trip out to your parents in order to collect their taxes.”
“No!” Sandra begged. “Please don’t! I’ll be a good maid, I promise!” She struggled and fought as the assistants all dragged her back out towards the cart.
All too soon, she was on her way to the mines. The journey was supposed to take 2 weeks, but 3 days before they arrived, a carriage stopped, and forced them to wait for a few moments.
Out of the carriage stepped a woman who was both beautiful and strange. She wore a dark dress and makeup, and had a powerful aura.
“You there, girl. Stand up and let me have a look at you,” she commanded.
“If you want to take me to a brothel and make me submit to men, then I would rather work in the mines!” Sandra informed her with attitude.
The woman laughed. “You have the right attitude, I like that. Now… Stand up and let me have a look at you!” She commanded in no uncertain terms.
Sandra complied.
“Has a man ever showed himself between your legs?” The woman asked.
“No,” Sandra replied with a shudder.
“If one were to do so, what would you want to do to him?”
Sandra narrowed her eyes, and growled. “I’d want to kick him, and scratch his eyes out! I’d want to tear open his neck and let him bleed to death!”
“Bleed, huh?” She smirked. “Your specialty shall be blood. If you come with me, I’ll see to it that you never have to submit to any man ever… unless you want to.”
“Wait a minute!” The two men escorting the girl to the mines protested. “We can’t just give her to you!”
“I am Lady Desespoir. I am acting with the full authority of their Majesties. If you try to stop me, you’ll find yourselves in my dungeon.”
“Yes my Lady!” They hastily agreed.
She handed them a small purse full of money. “That is to pay whatever she owes. You may each take a small amount to compensate for your trouble, but that money had better get to the Tax Collector and be credited to her account. Trust me, I’ll check,” Lady Desespoir chuckled menacingly.
“Yes my Lady!”
She held a hand out to Sandra. “Come. Leave all this nastiness behind you.”
Sandra smiled at her savior. “Yes, Lady Desespoir.”
The Lady gestured for Sandra to get into her carriage, smiling fondly. “You’re lucky I was in the area delivering something.”
A week later, Sandra got her first look at the Lady’s large house. It was not quite big enough to be considered a mansion, but it was certainly bigger than anything Sandra had ever seen.
“At first, you shall be trained in strength and endurance. After all, it will be your job to subdue fully grown men. For that, you will need all the skill you can get.”
“Yes my Lady,” Sandra replied, grinning at the prospect.
“Hold out your hands?” The Lady commanded. Sandra complied, and watched curiously as sharp metal spikes were placed on each of her fingers, and then tightened securely. “This shall be your weapon. It will take you a while to stop scratching yourself, but once these are a part of who you are, you’ll never be at anyone’s mercy.”

Months passed as Sandra was taught basic fighting skills, and drilled in strength and – most importantly for her – speed. Her attacks would rely on her ability to get close to her opponent quickly, and strike. This was to subdue an unruly subject. Most of the time, she would need to know how deep to cut and where.
When Sandra had been with Lady Desespoir a year, the Lady and her entire household threw the girl a party.
“Congratulations!” The Mistresses cheered. “You are now one of us!”
Lady Desespoir stroked her head as if praising a well trained dog. “From now on, your name shall be Sanguin, which means blood.”
Sandra thought this through quietly. To be honest, she had been nervous and squeamish at times. She was not naturally a person who enjoyed hurting others, but she had so much talent. The skills came easy to her, and she was good at what she did.
Plus, the men that came here were criminals. They were sentenced to death, but given a second chance at life. All they needed to do was pledge their loyalty and service to the King and Queen. If the Mistresses could get them to do so, them they lived. If not, they died.
Sandra considered it a service worth performing if she was able to save even one life. She nodded, smiling.
“Yes, my Lady. I am Sanguin, and my specialty is blood!”

Go To Part 2 

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