“In a few moments, Theta, I’m going to gently lift you out of of your trance. You’ve been under for a very long time, and it will be a long journey back up, but I’ll be with you for every part of it. I’m going to count from one to ten. With every number, you’re going to feel more of the wonderful deep potential energy of your trance convert into active energy. You will feel just a little bit more alert, a little more awake, and by the time that I count the last number, you will be fully conscious. You will emerge relaxed, refreshed, and content. You will remember all of the instructions that I’ve given you, and they’ll be tucked away in your subconscious, where you’ll be able to follow them easily and naturally, just like you’ve been doing. And you should know that I am happy with how well you’ve performed them…”
Her voice slows, takes on a tone of great import.
“…and, Theta, I especially want you to know that I am very proud of you.”
A brief pause.
“I’m going to start counting now. With One, you’re going to feel just a tiny bit of warmth and energy, as if you’ve slept in on a beautiful morning, and the sun is beginning to show through your window…”
Your eyelids flutter with every number as Cora slowly brings you up. It seems like an eternity, but there are no clocks, just her voice, and your time is ultimately at her command.
“… and with Ten, you are fully back, fully suffused with warm positive energy, refreshed from your time in trance. It’s a beautiful day in the city. Theta… how are you feeling?”
You open your eyes. You’re in a bed, soft white sheets, abundant pillows, dressed in comfortable two-piece python print pajamas. Your mistress sits in a chair by the bed, in a simple grey shift dress, those impossible emerald green reptile eyes open wide, eager to drink in every photon of you.
You’re certain you have a sleepy smile on your face.
“I feel very good, Mistress. It… feels like a lot happened. May I ask a question about the status of my task?”
She nods. “You may, Theta.”
“Did we get it done?”
Cora grins, unabashedly displaying row after row of fangs. She reaches for your hands and gives them an affectionate squeeze and doesn’t let go.
“We got it done!”
“H–” One of your instructions kicks in. You instantly rephrase your request in the proper format. “Mistress, may I ask a detailed question about the status of my task?”
“You may!” Still grinning.
“Ah, now,” she says. “That’s a story. How about I tell you over lunch? Are you hungry?”
There’s a slight whiff of in-progress cuisine in the air. Mealtimes are something different, special, just slightly outside the normal parameters of your relationship, and her questions don’t compel an answer as they normally would; she genuinely just wants to know if you’re hungry. You catch the scent of fresh bread, five-spice mix, cilantro.
Cora nods. “Yes!”
You lean in to hug her. “The answer is absolutely yes.”
As you nibble the end of your crispy catfish bánh mì, Cora asks if you’re ready for the story. You nod.
“You were physically, if not mentally, present when Elder Mara commanded that I report to her last week, so this part will be easy for you to remember. It’ll surface easily in your memory as I give you the codeword for what I want you to remember from that day. Theta, recall codeword Crimson.”