To finish second really just means you’re the first of the losers.
If I didn’t already embrace this belief wholeheartedly, the first semester at Ragnaring finishing school would have drilled this into me. This place is more than just a girls’ finishing school, it is a grooming place for the elites of the future.
The elites I yearn to be a part of, one day.
My booted footsteps ring across the empty, vast spaces of the main hall. It’s late at night, and most are asleep, getting ready for the day ahead, but not me. I worry at my fingers, clear evidence that I’m nervous and jittery. I stare up at the vaulted ceiling, and as always, it makes me feel like I’m inside of a cathedral.
A very bizarre kind of cathedral, anyway. Nothing in this school exists in isolation: not our grades, not our performance, not our achievements. Everything is competitive, which is why this main hall is dominated by a singular feature.
A truly colossal screen hangs from the wall opposite the entrance, something like the sort of information screen you might find at an airport terminal, but supersized. The message is loud and clear: what’s on the screen is the only thing that matters here at Ragnaring, the only thing worth fighting for.
The rankings of all students at the school.
I knew this place was cutthroat before I got in, but Ragnaring is secretive, and I had no idea just how much. Nothing here is focused on education per se, not really. We’re not here to accrue knowledge, we’re here to build a generational ethos.
We are told to do everything we can—indeed, everything we must to get ahead. Cut every corner we deem necessary, because Ragnaring isn’t about developing your integrity, or your ability to be a team player… it’s about teaching you to be an overlord. How to rule over those very same people who think integrity and team-playing are what actually matters, hence why their fates are sealed: corporate drones for the rest of their lives.
But not us. We are meant to rule, and this is our last big test, before we are thrown out into the open world, ready to go claim our spots at the top of the social pyramid.
And this is why I can’t tear my eyes away from the screen, even though just looking at it makes my heart tighten, my breath quicken, and my hands ball into fists.
Because after all is said and done, after all the mind games and the cutting of corners, the music stops and all that remains is what’s displayed on the screen. My name, clear for all to see, Fiona Engel, next to an absurdly high score, near the top of the screen.
The devil is in the details. That’s the wrinkle here, near the top. Because I’m in second place, and the first of the losers.
Now, in a way, technically that isn’t true. Being in the overall top three counts for a lot here, or so we have been told: the school administration is fuzzy on the details, but it’s clear that the top three play by different rules… somehow. It is an important cushion, at least I don’t have to worry about the myriad humiliations that await those nearer the bottom… but it still smarts.
Even more so because of my direct competition.
The girl in third place, Elizabeth Jaeger, is clearly smart and capable, but also reserved. Her, I’m pretty sure I can handle. What really grinds my gears is Margaret Hogen, the redhead with a trust fund, darling of high society, haughty queen bee to a fault. The girl in first place… and my arch-nemesis.
She is especially cruel to girls like me, who didn’t get here because our parents are filthy rich, but through merit alone. I busted my ass to get the improbable and difficult grading you need to even qualify for a Ragnaring scholarship, not to mention the various certificates you need to bolster your application, the NDAs you need to sign, and the multiple interviews required to pass.
Margaret can insult me all she wants. She only got in because of her pedigree, but I’m here because I’ve earned it.
Maybe that betrays insecurity, and that’s why she has to constantly mock my purple hair, baggy jeans and flat-heeled boots, saying I look like a trucker rather than the high-society ladies Ragnaring is supposed to churn out like an assembly line.
God, she riles me on so fucking much.
I shake my head, sitting down on the marble floor, reflecting. Midterms are just behind the corner. With most of the actual academic work done for the semester, I will have no opportunity to overtake her before the midterm ceremony.
What that ceremony consists of exactly is kept from us students for now, but whatever it is, I certainly don’t want the rich bitch to bask in the glory of her first place.
Unfortunately, that leads me with only one option: the Wheel.
I lift my head to look at it, a bright beacon of inviting purples and blue neons. It’s a… storefront, almost. Conveniently located right beneath the giant screen—which I’m sure it’s no coincidence. Dwarfed by it, but never forgotten, because it’s at the Wheel that many girls’ paths here are made, or broken.
Only students and staff are allowed in. No outsider knows what the Wheel is about, or what it sells. Even if you were to break in, all you’d see on its illuminated shelves is envelopes. It’s only once you open them that the truth is revealed… as is the reason for its peculiar name.
The wheel always turns, or so it has been said, and that is certainly true here. This is where the real competition between students takes place: the selection on offer on the shelves is unconventional, to say the least. You can buy better grades, academic shortcuts, access to tests from previous years, and many other privileges… and you can also buy services intended to sabotage your competitors.
To make their own tests harder, deny them access to privileged material, and so on. To absolutely bury them until they are no threat to you. Of course, such weapons are very expensive, but the mere fact that they exist sets the tone for every facet of life here.
At the Wheel, you really can buy most anything… for a price.
Typically, every service purchased carries a forfeit and a cost. The forfeit will usually be humiliating and degrading, although not fully sexual. It’s a way to counterbalance the boost you’re acquiring, I’m sure.
It’s also hypnotically enforced. Weaselling out of a forfeit is just… unthinkable. I shudder at the memory of the way the school hypnotist carefully, surgically removed my very ability to say no to a forfeit.
It’s been done to all of us, and that makes it okay. No one has an advantage, the playing field is leveled.
The cost, on the other hand… that’s accounted as a form of debt to the school. No one knows how it will be repaid, exactly, and that makes a lot of people uneasy. Myself included, which is why I’ve bought things quite sparingly here.
My working class upbringing has made me naturally wary of credit systems. And, to be honest, I’ve gotten quite far here on my skills alone, barely having to use the Wheel at all to secure second place. Ideally, I really would prefer for that streak to continue…
But I have no better option, not if I want to one-up Margaret, and put her in her place. So, with a heavy sigh, I stand up. I need to stop dilly-dallying, it’s time to go big or go home… and I do not intend to go home.
Forcing myself to feel fierce and determined, I march down to the Wheel, the thud caused by my boots against the marbled floors echoing across the empty hall.
The Wheel works on triple shifts: there’s always one person behind the counter, 24/7, and never more than one. I wonder, for a second, who this store clerk used to be before she was hired. Was she a student here? I find it hard to believe.
All of the Wheel’s employees are women, of course, but they don’t look like the sort of competitive beasts I see in class every single day. They don’t even do much in the way of promoting the wares on offer. They all look quiet, meek, and unassuming.
This particular clerk, Cindy, awkwardly averts her eyes when I approach her counter with an envelope in hand: my benefit of choice, a 10% boost to overall score that should be high enough to propel me to first place… but low enough to not indebt me too much towards the school. Whatever that means, exactly.
She rings in my transaction, but I’m already gone by the time she’s done. I stare at the screen with trepidation, and it’s only when I see my name shoot to the very top that I allow myself a tiny squeal of glee.
God, to witness Margaret’s face when she sees this tomorrow morning!
Now, however, it’s time to open the envelope. Inside, I will find information about the forfeit. The debt itself may remain a mystery until the end of the year, but forfeits must be performed immediately upon reading them.
I pull out a strip of paper with trembling fingers, angling it towards the light as I begin to read the words.
I blink in confusion at first, staring at the paper uncomprehendingly. Then, realisation dawns, my mouth goes dry, and my heart begins to beat faster.
And my eyes widen in horror.
* * *
I play for keeps.
That’s what grubby upstarts like Fiona Engel never get about the people like me. Oh, I’m sure the dream of social mobility must be very nice, but… well, let’s just say you can take the girl out of the gutter, but can you take the gutter out of the girl?
Years of inescapable street rat upbringing have left their mark on poor Fiona’s psyche, I reflect, reclining in the chair, crossing one leg over the other. She avoids the Wheel in a bizarre academic equivalent of storing your money under the mattress rather than in a bank… and she’d never think to come here, in the Headmistress’ own office, to ask a direct question.
Only someone used to the way us sophisticated folk rub elbows together would be comfortable with the idea of just waltzing in here and making inquiries. But that’s exactly how you get ahead in life, even if Fiona doesn’t quite realise it yet.
She doesn’t think like a winner, but like a peon. She can’t help it, it’s her upbringing, her legacy, her true nature. And I intend to show her.
“So,” I ask. “Am I correct? Are the top three girls exonerated from the debts they accrue with the Wheel?”
Headmistress Polina regards me with a flat stare. Her lips narrow, her eyes focus on mine. I know the look, one frequently exchanged among predators who recognise and acknowledge each other as such. She sees me for what I really am: a fellow high society lady like her, fit to rule over scores of lesser girls.
“I’m afraid I can’t comment on that,” she says, turning her nose up. I have to put in a serious effort not to roll my eyes. I understand how the game is played, of course she can’t give me a direct answer and has to merely hint at the truth, but this affectation of propriety is a little too much.
“Is it safe to assume the top three play by a different set of rules?” I ask, dancing with her. I want to show her that I understand she has to be reserved in how she assists me.
“No assumption is safe,” the Headmistress replies. “Not here. But…” she looks around, circumspectly. “Let’s say yes, for the time being. Winners always play by different rules, after all.”
I knew it! I flash her my most charming smile, a wordless appreciation of the fact that we understand one another perfectly, as you would expect of two worldly women. I thank her, and take my leave, knowing that Fiona is done for. I have an ace up my sleeve now.
You see… I think I get how the system works, now. If you splurge on the Wheel, and still fail, you end up so buried in debt that you will never recover. The key is to indebt yourself liberally… and then win. If you’re at the top, you’re immune from the consequences.
How much like real life, after all. We decent folk always land on our feet, unlike the born servants like Fiona, who live hand to mouth on a consistent basis. If you want success, you don’t wait for it to land in your lap. You do what it takes, secure loans, and then deliver. That is how you win in real life, so why should Ragnaring be any different?
Oh, Fiona, my little purple-haired bitch. I can’t wait to show you that the system always wins.
I turn the corner, and almost run into… a purple-haired bitch. Speak of the devil, I think to myself.
I immediately put on my best resting bitch face, looking at my rival with a calculated look of contempt. Are we going to start verbal sparring? Because I think I have enough ammunition to make the bitch cry now.
But, no. Fiona seems hell-bent on avoiding my gaze, and she’s holding a slip of paper in her trembling fingers.
“So uh, Margaret… I used the Wheel, and…”
Wow. Brave of her. I hope she doesn’t wisen up to the nature of the game just now that I’ve finally secured an edge on her. But… no. She doesn’t seem triumphant, or proud, or haughty. If anything, she looks mortally vulnerable right now, with the wide stare of a deer caught in headlights.
“My forfeit is…” she croaks out at last, unable to match my gaze. “I have to be my closest competitor’s, huh… submissive study buddy for 24 hours…”
For a long moment, we stare at one another in silence. Then, I break out in hysterical laughter, nearly bending over in my hilarity while Fiona just stands there, pallid and mortified. Scared to death that the whole corridor is going to hear, and witness her humiliation at my hand.
With her forfeit now pronounced, I literally spot the exact moment when the school hypnosis we all undergo at the beginning of the year snaps its jaws around Fiona. Her pupils dilate, her lips leave out a breathless oh, and her knees bend slightly, like she’s trying to make herself physically smaller.
I put my hands on my hips, cocking my head, arching an eyebrow, trying to press the advantage for all that it is worth. I know the hypnosis is making me seem physically larger than her now, and I want to drive the point home, to intimidate her to the fullest. Judging by the way she’s trembling in my presence, I’d say that’s a success.
Twenty-four hours. I have been given this exceptional gift, a time window in which to utterly break my rival, and I won’t let this opportunity go to waste. The hypnosis guarantees that she’s at my mercy.
What it does not guarantee, is that she will enjoy it. Ragnaring is very deliberate with its hypnosis: it ensures compliance with the forfeits, nothing more. Even so, I bet to myself I’ll have the bitch dripping wet by the time I’m through with her. She must see the lustful thoughts reflected in my wolfish grin, because she starts shivering even harder.
Oh, my dear Fiona. I’m about to give you a preview of the future I have in mind for you, once I finally succeed in taming you. Because, as you’ll see…
I only play for keeps.
* * *
The tiles are hard against my knees. Hard and cold, just like the taste of despondency and misery. Hard and cold like my nemesis, Margaret.
My mother used to have a cleaning job, and for a second, I wonder if Margaret knows that, if that’s why she’s dressed me up in this ridiculous maid uniform, and has had me clean every inch of her quarters to a high sheen. Maybe she doesn’t, and she’s simply making a classist statement.
Even so, it… smarts. My mother must have known the same ache in her knees against cold, hard floors. The same roughness in her hands, while the ladies lording it over her stayed smooth-skinned and royally pampered.
I know Margaret wants me to think that this is my place. That no matter how hard I try, this is where I’m going to end up. I have to concede that it’s… pretty smart. That I can hate her all I want, but I should not underestimate her as my opponent.
I suppress the tiny, faint shiver that goes through my body at the idea of Margaret inexorably maidifying me. No, it won’t come to pass. The hypnosis compels me to obey her for now, but once I’m free, I’ll return to my combative self, with my spirit unbent and unbroken.
I allow myself the tiniest of sidelong, defiant glances at the redhead, reclining in her chair like a queen, one leg elegantly draped over the other, smirking as I scrape and bow on the floor like a supplicant.
Her student quarters are considerably larger than my cramped room. She paid extra for the privilege, which I always considered to be a silly waste of resources, but now… it contributes to her sadistic humbling of me. Having to clean every single inch of something I don’t own and could never afford, not even with my scholarship.
Unfortunately, it’s clear that Margaret is used to having people to clean after her. That may be true at home, in her family mansion or whatever, but certainly isn’t true at Ragnaring. Her room is a mess, compared to mine. She must be overjoyed at the prospect of finally having her own maid to clean it for her.
Just for today, though. I’ll turn the tables on her soon enough.
I let out a surprised yelp when something bumps against my back. Margaret has exploited the opportunity, and rested her feet on the small of my back just as I was crawling my way past her chair. Using me as an impromptu foot stool.
“I like you so much better this way,” Margaret says in a happy, purring tone. “On all fours, cleaning, acting like my footrest. Finally making yourself useful.”
My cheeks redden at the way her humiliating words infuriate me… but also at how they seem to fuel the growing, traitorous heat between my thighs. What’s worse, I know that isn’t the doing of my hypnosis. Ragnaring doesn’t do that.
It’s just, there’s something oddly… erotic about being at the mercy of the person I hate the most in the entire world. Just for one day.
“Yes, Queen Margaret,” I say. She was very particular with the proper way of addressing her, and my compliance sends her into a fit of gleeful giggles.
“Say that again,” she says.
“Q… Queen Margaret,” I say, chewing over the words, the feelings that ripple across me as I speak them. The many delightful implications they carry about our respective status, and the nature of our struggle… and the vision Margaret has for how it’s going to end.
“I love how that sounds,” Margaret says, stretching in her chair. “Believe me, Fiona, this is but a preview of things to come. And there’s more…”
There’s an amused, cruel twinkle in her eyes that makes me swallow with dread. Margaret withdraws her feet, stands up, then plops herself back down on my back.
“Ugh,” I say, flexing my arms to bear her weight. I clench my teeth, straining as Margaret literally turns me into her human chair.
“What?” She says, snorting. “Are you saying I’m heavy? Watch your tongue, peon.”
“N-n-no, Queen Margaret,” I say, in a feeble voice that doesn’t sound like my own. It’s all for the Wheel, I remind myself. All to secure first spot on the screen. To gloat at the ceremony and watch the smile die on Margaret’s face.
I just need to get through the day.
“Let’s see,” Margaret says, rummaging through a bag that was stashed away under her bed. “Where did I put it… Aha!”
I breathe easily as Margaret lifts herself off me, circling me slowly, theatrically. I gulp as her naked feet come to rest in front of my face.
“Look at me, peon,” she says in a soft voice. I obey, and it’s only the hypnosis that makes me do it, of course. My eyes are absolutely not lingering on the pearly smooth skin of her feet, or her toned legs, as they travel upwards.
But then, something catches my attention.
Margaret is looking down at me, smirking, regal, superior. She’s holding something that makes me draw in breath. It looks leathery and slick and dark, it’s an…
“Armbinder,” she supplies for me. “Here, let me show you how it works.”
“B-but,” I stutter, but Margaret is moving deftly behind me before I’ve even realised it. She places one foot on my buttocks, and then yanks me by the hair like it’s a makeshift set of reins. I shout from the pain, but the humiliation stings even worse. I hate how confident she is in mastering me, behaving as if it’s her birthright. I hate that it makes my sex twitch.
As I follow her lead, shifting from all fours to a kneeling position, I feel Margaret swiftly pulling each of my arms into the binder’s sleeves. And then, the ominous sound of a zip being pulled up fills the room.
Margaret steps back and circles around me, clapping in enthusiasm. I stare up at her, realising how this must look from the outside.
Me, the working class girl who got here on a scholarship and gambled on the Wheel, crushed by my own forfeit, kneeling submissively on the floor, in a maid uniform that highlights all my curves. My arms, safely tucked away now that
I’ve finished working, because I don’t need them if I’m not cleaning.
Entirely defenseless, as I look up at this gorgeous redhead with shaped thighs and clever green eyes and a cruel smile, born and bred to be served and revered, towering above me in her victory.
I keep telling myself that I’ll get my dues when the forfeit ends, and I get to witness the horror on Margaret’s face at seeing me in first place. But for now, I struggle even to visualise it. The honey of hypnotic submission is clogging my thoughts, sapping my strength, enveloping my vocal cords, and going all the way down to my cunt.
In the constrictive, humiliating, and oddly pleasurable embrace of the armbinder, it’s childishly easy for Margaret to upset my balance. With her slightest push, I’m sent toppling to the floor, staring up at her as she towers over me.
Her left foot rises to fill my vision, and then descends against my face.
I quiver at the touch, and even more so, at the symbolism. The way her toes adhere to my forehead, the naked heel resting against my chin, my nose and lips firmly squashed under the sole. Like my face was made for her to rest her foot on.
I’ve done things with girls’ feet before, of course, both as a submissive and a dominant. They seem to be pretty common among the Wheel’s forfeits. But the fact that it’s Margaret…
God, that’s as hot as it is disturbing.
“You people never learn,” Margaret says, shaking her head. “The system always wins. You think I don’t know why you’re having to suffer through this stupid forfeit?”
My eyes widen in alarm, and in response, Margaret grinds harder, pushing her weight into my facial features. Pinning me to the ground, in spite of my hypnotically-enfeebled struggles.
“I’m always one step ahead of you,” she says. “I know how the Wheel actually works, and that’s why you’ll never catch me.”
I experience a moment of panic, my eyes darting this way and that. Is it true? No, it can’t be true, keep it together Fiona! She’s just trying to manipulate me…
Margaret flashes me a predatory smile, maybe noticing my sudden fear and alarm. A silent moment of dread passes… and then, she steps on me.
Both of Margaret’s feet dig into my sternum, making me wince and groan.
“Tsk tsk,” she says. “Again with your insinuations that I’m heavy. Rude serving girls don’t go far in life, Fiona.” Margaret then brings a hand theatrically to her chin. “Then again, serving girls in general don’t! Haha!”
I whimper at the combination of her weight, the hypnosis, the humiliation, and the fear that she really has one-upped me. God, I wish I could check the score remotely. I would literally pay to know it right now. My heart beats faster and faster as Margaret walks cheerfully up and down my torso, crushing my tits beneath her feet—another statement of her belief that we’re fundamentally not the same. That she’s the better woman.
“It’s over for you,” Margaret says, delicately placing one foot against the hollow of my throat. She looks at me with a curious look when she does it, almost like she’s experimenting. “You’ll always come in second place. This is just a forfeit to you now, but by the time the year is done, it will become your entire reality. I’ll make sure of it.”
Margaret’s foot digs deeper against my throat, eliciting a choked half-breath out of me. Every single muscle in my body hurts. Locked in the armbinder, pressed under my and her body weight, my arms are starting to tingle and go to sleep.
“Do you know what you’d see right now, if you could check the score?”
I’m honestly speechless. I’m not stupid of course, I always knew in theory that Margaret could always indebt herself even more to stay in first place, but… she’s already used the Wheel so often… her forfeits seem to never involve me, either. And now she says she has an ace up her sleeve, knowledge I don’t have.
I should find the idea laughable, but somehow, with her foot mastering my very breathing, my arms bound, and my sex on fire, it’s so hard not to believe her…
Eventually, Margaret lifts her foot from my throat, but my relief is short-lived. She angles it in the air until the toes are pointed straight at my face, and then thrusts down.
The mere image of it is so powerful. A foot, stomping down. Pushing and pinning down a conquered rival, snuffing out the weak resistance beneath it, the helpless and aimless thrashing of my defeated body.
Ragnaring is merciless, I know. The hypnosis compels me to obey, and so my lips part in slutty anticipation as Margaret’s foot slowly worms her way down my mouth, claiming it as her toe warmer, her foot holster, her sweat cleaner.
“God, it’s a shame the forfeits are non-sexual,” Margaret says, her voice dripping with lust. “Or I’d have you lick something else entirely right now.”
I shake my head around her foot, but the pathetic display just makes Margaret laugh. Slowly at first, then faster, she begins to pump her foot up and down, plunging further in each time. The embarrassment is terrible enough that it makes me tremble. My arch-nemesis is fucking my mouth.
“Yes,” she hisses in triumphant pleasure. “I get to shut you up, at last. Suck it, peon, while I tell you how things really are between us. People like you are too simple-minded to understand what’s required to get ahead, but I do. I know how to use the Wheel. I know more than you could ever hope to even grasp, because your mind was never meant to compete. It was meant to serve.”
Tears begin to stream down my cheeks, and not just from the gagging, as Margaret flexes her elegant leg, leaning forward. This way, more and more of her weight shifts to the foot that’s currently inside my mouth, pushing it deeper, until I’m literally impaled on it.
Her toes are tickling the entrance to my throat, and her face is now so much closer to mine that I can hear her breath, see my own reflection in her green eyes. I look like a pathetic fucking loser.
“I’m in first place, peon. Always have been. Not for one moment has your silly little Wheel booster propelled you to the first place you crave so much, and you can never have. Maybe you don’t believe me, but you’ll see it for yourself when next you lay eyes over that screen. I want you to look at your name beneath mine. And I want that to crush you.”
I close my eyes, unable to even visualise it, to even process the sheer tsunami of horrible and pleasurable feelings that are currently taking my body by storm.
“I don’t just play,” Margaret says. “I win. Always. And you, my dear Fiona…”
She brushes tears away from my cheek with her thumb, contemplating me.
“You’re not even the prize, not really, you’re just another step on my way to the top. But I will have you. And if this is how you feel after a mere day in my service…”
Her voice drops to a whisper, our gazes locked, and not in combat for once, but in the intimacy that is shared between a winner and a loser, every time a fight is decided.
“… think how thoroughly I’ll get to break you, once you’re mine.”
The desperate moan that escapes my throat is equal parts dread and arousal, and I know from the spark in her eyes that she knows it. Her joyous laughter echoes across her student quarters, dotted by the increasingly frantic sound of my gagging as I take her foot down my throat, in desperate worship of Queen Margaret.