While there were certainly worse fates that could have befallen Marigold, she found only the barest comfort in knowing her family safe. Her mother, father and little sister seemed incredibly far away now, and the cold stone of the castle walls seemed to her like she had been swallowed by some enormous and terrible beast.
What had happened still felt like betrayal, even if she knew that her family hadn’t had any choice in the matter. There was no refusing the queen’s call for tribute, and as a consequence there had been no choice but to let the royal soldiers take her away from their village to far-off Crownstead, seat of the throne.
Marigold still wore the flower in her hair that her child sister had presented her as a final parting gift. It had been one of the first snowdrops that had bloomed this year. Its small petals had become almost wilted now, and their pure white had turned into a muddled, dirty yellow brown. Unlike most else she had brought along, she had been allowed to keep it. They had discarded all her luggage upon her arrival and made her wear a plain but comfortable dress cut to fit any young woman of her stature. The small flower was now everything that remained to remind her of the home she had been forced to leave behind.
“Girl!” shouted the custodian woman that was leading her into the south wing of the castle. “Stop dawdling! This way.”
Marigold had lost herself in thought as they had walked down one of the countless corridors of the royal stronghold. Her handlers had turned right and she had almost continued straight ahead in her reverie. She hastily rejoined them, fearing admonishment or punishment, but save for a disapproving look, none such came.
The strict woman led her up a winding staircase and down another spacious corridor, until they arrived at a large, ornate door. In truth, all the doors in the palace were ornate, each one carved in a different intricate pattern from fine, dark-oiled wood.
”These are your quarters until your audience with Her Majesty. You may move freely around this part of the castle until then, but you may not leave this floor. If you disobey, you will be punished. Do you understand, girl?”
The custodian nodded and opened the door for her. To Marigold’s slight surprise, there was someone already inside, sitting on the large bed that dominated the far side of the chamber. A girl her own age, on the brink of womanhood. She was slim and slight, and wore a plain dark dress with her long chestnut hair open around her shoulders. The girl smiled guardedly at Marigold, but said nothing.
“This is Irene. You may keep each other company as you wait. I have other duties to attend to. Hail the Queen.”
“Say it,” the custodian snapped harshly, her face suddenly stern and hard. “Hail the Queen.”
“…hail the queen,” the words spilled out of Marigold more out of startlement than out of conscious effort.
“You too, you disobedient brat”, the custodian spat at the girl Irene. Annoyance had carved deep furrows into the woman’s forehead. She looked like she was about to raise her hand against the girl. It made Marigold tense and take a step away from her.
“Hail the queen,” Irene said tonelessly.
“Good girl,” the custodian said tightly. “You will learn your place once you’ve met the Queen. And Gods help me, if you cause any more trouble, you will spend the time until your audience chained up in the dungeon.”
“…yes.” Irene said.
“It is a great honour to serve Her. She chose you, and you’d do better to appreciate her grace and generosity.”
Irene said nothing in response, and simply gave a barely perceptible nod. The custodian seemed satisfied and left without another word.
“Five hells, I despise that woman!” Irene said after a moment of uncomfortable silence between them. “May the spirits carry her off into the depths!”
Marigold was shocked and confused. “Why? What did she do?”
“She serves the usurper! Willingly! She welcomes us tributes with the smile and matronly words of a strict but kind mother, but all she does is lead the cattle to the slaughter.”
Marigold was lost for words. What was that girl talking about?
”But we’re just going to be put into her Queen’s service,” she said. “Surely, that’s not the worst thing in—“
“What have you heard of Queen Praxia?” Irene interrupted her.
Marigold had heard many things about her. Many crazy things, none of which could be taken for the truth by even the most gullible of fools. Father had told her to be wary of what travellers and merchants said when they passed through town. It was advice that she had immediately recognised as being very wise. Father was a bright and sharp man. She missed him, and his jesting. She rolled her eyes at Irene’s question and the ridiculousness that it implied.
“They say that she’s a Demon. A witch. Mendacia, the Goddess of Untruth in human form. They say she is former Queen Alessia’s sister and the King’s true love which the old queen tried to kill to have the King’s affection, but she survived. They say she is eight feet tall. They say she has green hair made from poisonous moss. They say she is the daughter of a Northman and a wild she-bear.”
Irene laughed mirthlessly.
“That last one is very good indeed. But you were right at the start. The Queen is a witch.”
”Hogwash!” Marigold said dismissively. “My father says that people speak ill in all kinds of manners about the ones they don’t want in power, because they seek a reason to be rid of them.”
“But it is true! I have seen it. Everyone has seen it. How do you think she took the throne and made the King marry her? Where do you think our former Queen Alessia is right now? What do you think happened to her?”
This gave Marigold pause. She felt a strange and sudden sense of imbalance, as if she had stepped into a shallow hole in the ground.
“I.. never… thought about it,” she said, hardly able to believe what she was saying. How had she never thought about that? No one in her town had ever talked about it. No one had ever questioned it. She remembered that Praxia had become Queen in a short and violent coup, and that the King had gladly married her after that. Now that she thought about it, it made no sense at all.
“I see that you’re beginning to understand,” Irene said. ”And that is why you have been brought here. Because you are capable of understanding. You can break the curse.”
“Praxia has cursed the Kingdom. No one can remember what she really is and what she did to become the Queen. Some people do not even remember that there was a time when she wasn’t queen. Sometimes, people go missing, and none notice but a few. Some are stronger than others. Some can fight the curse”
“Like us.” Irene said. “And that is why she demands tribute. She knows her power isn’t limitless, so she uses lies and deception where she can. Why make people forget that you took their neighbours away when you can make them believe they have been drafted into her service?”
Marigold swallowed heavily.
“…but is there not peace? Praxia is no tyrant. She has claimed power for herself, but she is not using it for war. Life for us is just the same as it always was, even if she took the throne.”
“IT IS NOT!” Irene screamed, and suddenly she was on her feet. Her face had turned red. Marigold looked at her in shocked silence, mouth agape.
“It is not.” Irene repeated much more quietly after a long moment, visibly struggling to find her composure again. “You just cannot remember.”
Irene was still trembling with a rage that seemed to take all of her fortitude not to unleash at Marigold in a fit of further screaming.
“How many brothers have you lost in the war?” she asked through gritted teeth.
“Two,“ Marigold answered without hesitation, then shrieked in terror at what she had just said, clasping her hands in front of her mouth as the memories flooded her in a wave of gut-wrenching pain. Tears welled in her eyes as the grief burned through her like she had swallowed molten iron. A horrible shroud had been lifted in her mind.
She retched. Her head swam, and she tumbled against the castle wall. The world around her spun and she lost her footing. She slid down the wall and crashed to the floor painfully, where she sat and cried bitter tears as she remembered the brothers she had forgotten. It was as if something had cut a deep wound in a part of her body that she didn’t know she had.
She felt Irene’s hands close around hers and looked up through the wetness of her eyes. The girl’s face was as pale as ash. She had a thin scar on her right cheek that seemed fresh. She looked like a girl that had grown up in the seedy alleys of the city, too good for begging but not above stealing.
“I am sorry. I am sorry,” she said, flustered. “I should not have done that to you. I…”
“Thank you,” Irene sobbed through the pain, and she knew that she meant it. “For giving them back to me.”
Irene sat down on the floor next to her and held her for a while, until the worst of it had passed. Marigold’s eyes were red and swollen, but the pain had dulled and waned in the manner of a broken bone or a bad burn, and as such it felt like it would never leave her entirely. It was something she would have to forever live with, now that she remembered. But she also knew that it was better to live with the pain than to never have remembered. She was certain of that and it gave her a strange sense of strength.
When Marigold told her that she would be able to cope, Irene told her about the war.
There had been three kingdoms, not even five years ago, ruling in an alliance of equals that had lasted for centuries. Now they were gone, and their lands had been conquered and claimed by Queen Praxia. And with each of Irene’s words, the black veil over Marigold’s memories lifted, and Marigold remembered all of it. She had always known.
After that, Irene told her about things she truly hadn’t known. The way the Queen let her guard abuse the people for their own sick pleasure. How she took away the most beautiful daughters of their subjects to never return and never to be remembered. To have her way with them.
“Why did I not remember before? It must have been there all the time,” she asked finally, after Irene had finished and the two of them had spent another while in contemplative silence.
“You did not witness the war. You live far away, in the Reaches. The curse is strongest when it makes you forget the things that you only learned by hearing it from someone else. I used to live in this city, before they came for me, and I saw it happen every day with my own eyes. I saw it so much that I broke the cycle of forgetting. You need to constantly remind yourself. You need to know that it is happening. If you do not, you will eventually forget again. We are stronger… strong enough to arouse the Queen’s attention, but we are not beyond its power.”
“You are strong. I am not. I forgot everything.”
Irene didn’t answer, and looked at her with a deep apprehension. Marigold sensed a great hesitation in her as the girl continued.
“I am certain that that is not true, either,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
”The Queen can only sense your presence if you resist her curse,” Irene said, her voice pained and breathless, as if getting the words out faster would make what she knew was about to happen less painful. “You have fought it before. I am sorry. It must have been very painful, and I am making you remember just as I speak of it, but you must remember. You must fight the curse.”
And, just as Irene said, Marigold remembered in a flash how…
…she had woken up one winter morning after a night of restless and violent dreams and for the first time in three years she had noticed the two empty beds that had been standing unused and unheeded the whole time. She had cried hard and called her mother and her father and told them what had happened, and they had looked confused and angry, then turned away and simply returned to what they had been doing. She had run after them, and yelled at them. And when they had turned around, their faces had been wiped clean, only confusion in them. “What is it? Is something the matter?” They had asked as if the last few moments had never happened.
She had spent the days raving and yelling and despairing, until finally, days later, she had woken up peacefully, walked past the empty beds without noticing them, and fetched a pail of water to start the day.
Two weeks later, the same events had repeated themselves, and again three weeks after that, until finally the Queen’s men had come to take her.
She took a deep breath and looked at Irene. The pain was there and it was real and heavy as a yoke, but she bore it because Irene was right. She had to fight it.
And just as that thought solidified in her and gave her strength, the door flew open, and the custodian walked in with an air of authority so severe she might be the queen herself. She was flanked by two palace guards. A thin smile played across her lips. She looked at Irene.
“Your Queen will see you now, Irene. Come with me.”
Irene stayed on the floor. Marigold took her hand. She could feel Irene tremble and grasp her so tightly it hurt. Marigold didn’t let go.
“What is she going to do to her? She cannot make her forget. She is too strong!” she said defiantly. The guards raised their clubs, but the custodian held them back with a sharp gesture of her hand. Her voice was mocking.
“She is nothing but a stubborn little quim. Do not mistake her insolence as strength.
When she tried to escape earlier, the fight she put up was pathetic. A stable boy could have kept her from getting away. But she did well to make you remember. I was beginning to worry that we had mistakenly been brought some weak-willed peasant girl that would have her mind snap like a twig when she faced her Queen. Now get up, Irene, or I will make you.”
Irene looked at Marigold, then got up. They both knew there was no choice. What could they possibly do?
“Do not forget me,” Irene pleaded, and in her eyes there was warmth and love and also deep despair and anger like a raging fire caged in a stone hearth.
“Never in a thousand years,” Marigold said, hoping with all her heart that she would be able to keep that promise.
And with that, they led her out and closed the door behind them, leaving Marigold alone with her desperation.
For a while, she repeated everything in her head until she was certain that the memories were deep and firm, and the pain and unease assured her that they were. They were burning in her now, acidic and bitter.
She decided to explore the castle like she had been allowed to do, since she might just as well, and there might be a chance for her to escape. However, there was hardly anything to see. There were more rooms alike to hers, all of them empty. There were many sitting rooms, mirror rooms, a dance hall, a gallery with hundreds of framed pictures and stuffed heads of animals mounted on plaques. They all seemed wasted and garish in their empty grandeur. In every room, she recounted her memories in her head to make certain they were still with her.
She felt numb. This felt wrong. She felt like she should have a great purpose now that she knew the power she had. But before she had even had a chance to find a plan or a meaning in all of it, she had been left all alone. Irene was gone, behind a literal army of palace guards. She might as well be on another continent for how much Marigold could do to help her.
She continued wandering the halls, but found the end of every hallway guarded by multiple fierce-looking men in light armour, carrying clubs and with manacles dangling from their belt-loops, grim reminders of her hopeless lot as a helpless captive. Even one of them would have been enough to keep her from escaping. She had found no other way out, either. The windows did not even need to be barred for that. The fifty-foot drop onto the city roofs below was more than enough to deter her from trying that route. This was still jail, and there was no way out for her. And even if she could escape, what then?
What was she supposed to do? In the stories her father had read her when she had been little, the Hero had always had a mentor that had set them on their quest, or the quest had presented itself to the Hero. And the Hero would often struggle and fail to achieve that goal at first, but at least he always knew what he was working towards.
Marigold wondered how many others like her had walked these halls. The Queen had been summoning tributes for years, so there must have been many of them. And none of them had been able to do anything to challenge the Queen’s power. Or maybe they had, and no one was left to remember it.
Maybe she wasn’t the Hero. Maybe she was one of the countless others that failed before him. There always had to be those countless others—so when you told the story, the Hero’s accomplishment would seem even greater in comparison. But no one ever told the story of those people. She thought about how sad that was. All those people that fate didn’t choose to have fateful meetings with a wise wizard that led them on the right track. All those people who didn’t encounter a faerie in the woods and who were granted no magic sword and who had no blood from an ancient bloodline. Didn’t they try just as hard? Didn’t they want to succeed just as badly?
In their last moments, those people whose stories were never told must find their fate terribly unjust and meaningless.
She had been alone for what felt like less than two hours when she heard heavy footsteps and looked around. At the end of a corridor, a guard was purposefully walking her way. She swallowed. The custodian was there, following the guard’s footsteps, the thin smile on her lips as motionless as if it had never left them. Irene was not with her.
Marigold’s heart sank. She sighed and let herself be escorted into the inner parts of the castle without a word of objection. There was nothing else for her to do.
She was taken to a grand washroom, where she was disrobed and bathed in hot water and fragrant soap. A maid braided her hair and she was given a simple but beautiful white dress to wear. It was quite loose in most places, almost like a gown, but it sat perfectly around her waist and shoulders, and she remembered how someone had taken her measurements when she had arrived. It had been tailored just for her.
There was a mirror in the corner of the room, and she caught herself in it. The dress was made of an incredibly finely woven fabric she did not recognise. The threads were so thin she could not see them, and the surface seemed to shimmer like water. It flowed like liquid across her skin, too, meeting almost no resistance. It was also sheer enough that she could clearly see the outline of the nipples on her breasts as well as the darkness of the hair between her legs. When she commented on this, she was ignored. Instead, an attendant pulled the snowdrop from her hair and threw it away under her protests, instead replacing it with a wreath of sword lilies and a silver chain choker that fit tightly around her neck. She was lightly powdered and perfumed until she looked as beautiful as she ever had.
All the while, she repeated her memories in her head. She must not forget about the curse, about her brothers, about the war, about the three kingdoms, about the truth the world had forgotten. And never about Irene. She had to remember. Maybe she would still find her mentor. Or maybe someone would find her and she’d be the one to tell them what to do and set them on their way. Yes. Maybe she was the mentor, and she hadn’t met the Hero yet. Or maybe she was the faerie. No matter what, she mustn’t forget.
They took her to the throne room. Outside the enormous double doors, they told her what to do, how to behave and the punishments that would follow if she disobeyed. They made her repeat it twice before they opened the portal, ushered her through and closed it behind her.
The splendour of the throne room was overwhelming. The walls were frescoed from floor to ceiling with paintings of beautiful women in scenes of legend and fairytales. The whole ceiling was made from iron-framed glass, held up by many massive pillars, high enough to give her the feeling of being outside, in a forest of enormous marble trees. At the base of each pillar stood what looked like the empty pedestals of statues that were no longer there. Instead they were topped with thick pillows, and women lounged on them, wearing the same sheer fabrics as Marigold wore, or even less. Many of them in fact were completely nude, seemingly unperturbed by it. They were all of them watching her as she walked down the long red path that was set into the cold marble of the floor in place of a carpet.
Marigold’s bare feet made quiet noises that echoed through the large space with each timid step. At the end of the room, atop a dais of nine steps, sat Queen Praxia. The distance was great enough that Marigold could not quite see her yet. The King was nowhere to be seen at all. She was painfully aware of every pair of eyes on her. There seemed to be no courtly business going on. There was no one here that didn’t belong here except herself. She felt like a she was ship drifting on a still ocean, caught in the doldrums, and a current was carrying her where she did not want to go. She kept walking, because there was nothing else for her to do.
When she had reached the bottom of the dais, she knelt in the manner she had been told to. From the corners of her eyes, she saw many more beautiful women sitting and lying on pillows and chairs around the Queen.
“Hail the queen,” she recited, and her voice was small and dry. She felt like she must run away like a spooked horse. Kneeling felt like baring her throat to a ravenous wolf, and yet she knew nothing else she could be doing instead that would help her.
“Rise, tribute,” said the Queen. Her voice was strong and clear and full of a hidden power that Marigold was suddenly certain not everyone was able to perceive like she could do.
She rose to her feet and looked up. Above her, on her tall throne sat the Witch Queen Praxia, dressed in a high-collared white dress and black gloves, and wearing a thin three-pronged crown made from silver. And at her lap, wearing nothing but a wreath of hyacinths and a smile, was Irene.
It took Marigold all of her composure not to scream and run. Her mouth twitched as she pressed her lips together in a vain attempt to keep her composure. A deep agony made her screw her eyes shut for a moment and she had to take a deep breath before she felt that she had the strength to open them again.
She looked at Irene. She could not keep herself from doing so. Her sun-kissed skin was clean and smooth and her hair was woven in a light, broad braid. She seemed to pay no attention at all to the fact that her breast and her sex were exposed for everyone to see. Instead, she lovingly looked up at Marigold, looking as if she wanted to desperately share something wonderful that only she knew. In her eyes, there was nothing left of the Irene that Marigold remembered. The Queen had made her forget herself. She had destroyed her and turned her into her pet.
Marigold despaired. She understood in that moment that they were nothing. She was nothing. She was no one. She wasn’t the Hero. She wasn’t the mentor. She wasn’t even one of the countless people that failed before. She was merely one of the victims the Hero had to avenge.
“Do not sell yourself so short, my beautiful girl,” said the Queen, and Marigold flinched in surprise. The witch had read her thoughts.
“Yes. I have. My magic is that of the mind, as you know.”
“What did you mean, selling myself short?” Marigold asked.
“You may not be a Hero, Marigold; you may not be remembered, but that means not that you are no-one. In fact, you are quite something, which is why I wanted you, and Irene for that matter, as tribute. Your mind is strong, and I want strong minds to serve me.”
“Please don’t make me forget,” Marigold begged. They had told her not to speak unless prompted, but no punishment could be bad enough now to keep her from trying to save herself.
“Why? What were you going to do with your knowledge? Do you know how to defeat me? You do not. Do you have a plan? You do not. I can read your mind like a tableau. You feel powerless and cheated, and rightly so. What you have is no power. It is a burden. And I will take that burden from you.”
The queen raised her hand towards Marigold. Marigold took a step backward, raising her arms in front of her.
“Just let me go home!” she shrieked. “Please! Please, don’t—“
She blinked. She stood before her Queen, her heart beating heavily as if from great exertion. She was light-headed and her chest was filled with a trepidation that was hard to explain. She knew she had to remember. She had to remember why she had come here. She had to remember why. She had to remember her brothers. She had to remember the war. She had to remember the three kingdoms. She had to remember what the Queen had done. She had to remember what she wanted to do, hoped to do, even if she didn’t know how, and most of all she had to remember Irene. She had promised.
She had to remember, and in her heart she found that she still did. She still remembered, and her relief was as great as she had ever felt.
She remembered her brothers. She remembered how proud she had been when they had gone to war and given their lives for the Queen so that She could rule all. She remembered the glorious war that her Queen had won so absolutely. She remembered how glad she had been when she had heard the news. It had been all worth it. She was glad they were dead if it meant that Her Queen might reign.
She remembered the three kingdoms and how pathetic and weak that alliance had been. Weak men sitting on dusty thrones in decaying castles, stagnating and withering away, ready to be conquered by someone possessing true strength. Marigold had grown up in contempt of it, until Her Queen had finally taken her rightful place, stomping them into the dirt and making all the lands her own. She remembered how thankful she had been when she had heard the news that the three kingdoms were no more and that her Queen had conquered them.
She remembered what the Queen had done. She remembered the truth that the world had forgotten. The truth they were too weak to understand, and unworthy to remember. Her Queen had made the world hers, so utterly and completely that even the idea of anything else had died out like a candle deprived of air. Her Queen had absolute control. She remembered how she had found out just today how absolute the power of her Queen was, and how exciting it had been. She had always suspected, of course. That was why she had been so happy to be chosen as a tribute. She had always hoped that it would happen to her. She had always wanted to serve her Queen.
She remembered hearing about the Queen from merchants and travellers. Tales of her beauty. Tales of her power. Tales that she courted with women and kept a harem of pretty girls. She hadn’t believed the stories. They had been too good to be true. She had always lusted after the pretty girls of her town, but she had known that no one would understand. She remembered the first time she had touched herself in the night after that. She had always wanted someone else to touch her that way. Not as crude and rash as she imagined men and boys doing it. She wanted to be with someone as powerful and beautiful as Her. Her Queen. It had been but a dream, a vain hope, that could never become true.
She remembered the dreams that had visited her, weeks before she had known that she was chosen. Dreams of the touch of her Queen, of giving herself up to her, of serving her. She had finally given in and told her parents, told them that she wanted to travel to the seat of the court, and become the Queen’s lap servant. They had been shocked, and appalled at her wanton desires, and forbidden it. And even after the Queen’s power had made them forget it, Marigold had kept resenting them for it. She had wanted nothing more than to be free of them.
But then she had been chosen, and they had taken her to the royal palace where she had met Irene. And Irene had opened the world to her. Irene had told her the beautiful truth about her Queen, and Marigold had finally understood how truly magnificent She was. Irene had shown her. They had embraced and shared lover’s kisses when they had understood how much they both wanted it, writhing on the floor in their reckless abandon to give each other a small taste of the pleasure their Queen would give them. She had felt her body, warm against hers, as they touched each other and told each other how much they wanted to be the Queen’s servants. When they had taken Irene to meet their Queen, Marigold had promised that she would never forget her, because she was the one that had shown her the true glory of their Queen.
She remembered how she had entered the throne room, her feet eagerly carrying her towards her destiny, proud to be seen by the servants of her Queen as she was about to join them in their service, ready to finally fulfill that shameless, whorish desire that had always been burning between her legs.
She remembered seeing Irene, docile and subservient at her Queen's feet like she had always wanted to be, and being so happy for her that she had wanted to cry.
She remembered how she had just confessed her eternal love and pledged her unquestioning obedience to her Queen, begging Her to take her, begging Her to adjust her memories and erase everything that didn’t make her serve.
She remembered back and saw her entire life in an uninterrupted stream of desire and longing, all of it leading her here into this very moment, and she knew that her Queen had granted her wish. Whatever few doubts she might have had were gone, if they had ever been there at all. She was completely hers now, as she had always wanted to be.
Her Queen lowered her hand. Marigold looked at her magnificent face and down at the sacred body below it. She wanted it, and she knew that the Queen could read the wanton desire in her mind. She also realised that she was now incapable of feeling and desiring anything which her Queen didn’t allow her to. Nothing yet remained in her mind and soul that wasn't entirely Her design. That was what it meant to be blessed with the Queen’s will and touch. And that meant that her Queen wanted her shame to be dripping at the sight of Her. She wanted her mouth to water at the thought of worshipping between her legs. She wanted her to tremble with the anticipation of it.
“You are a bright one," her Queen said. "Perhaps unexpected for a peasant girl.”
”My father made sure I got all the same lessons as my brothers, and my mother convinced the priest to teach us all how to read and share even his profane books of worldly knowledge. My parents always wanted me to become a tribute.”
“I know they did,” said the Queen and spread her legs. Marigold's heart leapt as the Qeen's brilliant white dress slipped apart at the front, and Marigold was finally presented with what she had so long craved. With a beating heart, she brushed aside the shoulders of her own dress and let it fall to the floor. She had always dreamed of this and it was finally coming true. It was what she had come here to do.
For just a heartbeat, she indulged in the warm relief of finally being naked in front of the woman she served. Then, she knelt between her Queen’s legs and it felt like coming home. She was finally where she wanted to be. As she licked the folds of the most holy of places, a peculiar thought came to her. It didn’t stop her or even bother her, but it felt curious in an almost entertaining way. It was a thought from before. A pale ghost of a memory, something that had been important to her, and something that the Queen had deemed her worthy to keep.
She was not the Hero, she thought, nor the mentor, nor the faerie. She was the words of the story, along with everyone around her, in the throne room and in the whole kingdom. They were the words, and her Queen was the one telling the story.
She wondered how many times she was yet to be rewritten -- before the queen made her forget that thought and replaced it with more blissful purpose and desire, and all her attention returned to the sanctum of her Queen’s sex. She was inexperienced in the ways to pleasure her, but her Queen guided her actions and thoughts, and Marigold eventually achieved her dream of making the Queen peak with her tongue.
When her Queen had conferred her appreciation, Marigold was allowed to pleasure herself, which she eagerly did under the Queen’s watchful and benevolent eyes. Her lower lips were more sensitive than she could have ever imagined them feeling, and touching them felt like finally drinking from a clear well after she had been dying from thirst. She was finally serving her Queen, and it was better than she had always dreamed, better than she could have ever imagined. She pushed her finger hard against the aching nub that crowned the blazing fire of desire at her core, and the feeling was like nothing she had ever experienced. Her body erupted in a shockwave of pleasure and a sudden, maddening need gripped her. She moaned in shock and awe as something stopped her from reaching the irresistible peak that would grant her release.
“I…” she mewled, rubbing hard against the roiling pleasure between her legs that refused to erupt. “I…”
Her world was on fire and there was nothing but herself and the desire to finally, finally …
“…obey!” she said, and all her devotion, and all her perfect subservience exploded into one glorious, orgasmic burst of indescribable joy and pleasure, and she screamed and moaned and collapsed as she lost all her senses in the blinding release.
She had proven her devotion.
It took her a long moment to recover. She lay on the cold marble floor, the eyes of her Queen and all of her servants upon her heaving, sweating, naked form. She was proud and content to let them see her spent and delirious from obeying and serving her Queen and being the wanton slut that she had always been meant to be. Always wanted to be.
In time she got to her knees. It was where she belonged. In front of the woman she served.
“I obey you, my Queen. I am yours”, she said, a smile on her lips. She kept her composure, but her mind sand with joy and disbelief. Destiny had brought her here, to the place where she had dreamt of. All her hopes, all her desires had come true.
“You are mine,” said her Queen, and her heart bloomed with joy and warmth. She had been accepted at her Queen’s court, and at her lap.
“Thank you, my Queen,” she said. She felt her Queen’s will radiate from her like an unseen light in the back of her mind, and she knew that she was to take her place among the retainer. She was still reeling with arousal, so she joined Irene at the Queen’s feet and continued between the girl’s legs. She knew she had the Queen’s approval since she was allowed the desire to do it.
Irene spread her legs eagerly for her, and her cleft was wet and ready for her tongue. Marigold lost no time and cupped her mouth around Irene’s slit, sucking on the wetness of her folds, pushing them apart with her tongue, licking across them and across the small protrusion where Marigold’s own sex was most sensitive.
Irene moaned loudly with pleasure, and pushed Marigold’s head harder into her with her hand on top of Marigold’s head.
“Yes,” Irene whispered, her voice breathless between deep gasps and moans. “We serve our Queen! Gods yes! Harder!”
And as Marigold licked the hot wetness at her core, Irene remembered what Marigold did not. She remembered seeing her, afraid and devastated. She remembered her, begging to leave, before their Queen had made her forget herself, and replaced her with the obedient, servile girl she was now. It was that beautiful knowledge that made her pleasure climb and peak until she finally erupted, her lust and ecstasy a celebration of the devotion that had been burned into Marigold. The same devotion that Irene had always felt.
When Irene had ceased her moans and screams of pleasure, there was a great commotion at the Queen’s command, and Marigold and her were greeted and welcomed by the tributes that had come before them. Marigold tasted their sweet lips and felt their smooth skin and she knew that she would soon lay with each of them as the time presented itself. Her new life would be one of pleasure and contentedness, now that she could serve the Queen with her mind and with her body. The Queen was good.
When she had tasted everyone she looked at Irene, whose face was as docile and content as her own. She was beautiful, as they all were. Marigold still loved her, but that love had become a drop in a vast sea of adoration she felt for all the Queen’s servants. She loved them for their obedience, and their devotion. She loved them for being like herself, so incredibly eager to serve and please, and she loved them because she knew they shared the same uncontrollable lust and desire.
Without having to be told, they all knew to look to their Queen. As She spoke, all breaths were held. She raised her hand and gave them all a gift of great arousal, and Marigold knew that it was a gift She gave gladly and readily. The Queen picked a dark-skinned servant to be the one to attend Her, and the rest of them each found a partner to still the burning need that had been ignited in their loins.
Marigold found herself with a tall blonde with large breasts, wide hips and piercing blue eyes that burned with a hunger and desire that matched Marigold’s own. Her name was Lea, but what mattered was that she was the Queen’s eager servant. They fell into a ravenous kiss. She felt the hardness of Lea’s nipples against her own breasts and they quickly found a large crimson cushion where she lay down and spread her legs to let her have her. Lea plunged her fingers into Marigold's ready slit and found it sensitive and quivering, and within a minute of slick pleasure, rapture had already taken her.
When she opened her eyes, Lea was above her, holding a rod of polished mahogany, and Marigold saw many others like them lying between the cushions, some of them smaller, some of them truly massive. This one had a gripping handle at the bottom, and the top looked to be carved with smooth shallow grooves running its circumference. Its purpose was clear, and Lea’s eyes begged for it. Marigold took it from her hands and gently pushed her down on her back. Lea’s lower lips were swollen and moist, and parted readily when Marigold pushed the rod into her. She thrust in and out with one hand, and Lea grabbed her other and guided it to the nub atop her spread opening. She pushed Marigold’s fingers against it, and Marigold continued on her own accord until Lea screamed and gasped in pleasure, twitching and curling up as she reached her peak. They kissed and embraced after, holding hands as they shared the soft cushion for a moment of respite before the Queen gifted them with more desire and they both found someone else to share it with. This time, Marigold asked her new partner—a southland girl with almond-shaped eyes—to pierce her with a small, dimpled rod, and climax came just as readily and swiftly as it had before.
Two days later, after court business, food, and gifts of pleasure, they were joined by a fresh tribute, a deeply afraid looking young girl with pale, freckled skin and deep red hair. The girl nearly stumbled when she knelt, her knees trembling. When she rose, she cried. She was begging to be let go and return home.
Marigold squirmed in excitement, because she knew what would happen next. She watched her Queen raise her hand and make the girl want it. She made her remember things that had never happened, so that, at the end, the girl knelt before her Queen, shouting proclamations of a devotion she happily believed had always been there.
Some part of Marigold wished that she had been like that girl. It would have been unbelievably arousing to be made to want to serve her Queen like that. There was no doubt in her, and no feeling of inconsistency at all. Instead, she felt safe and warm knowing that she had always wanted this. She looked at the girl and wondered what her dew tasted like. It wouldn’t take her long to find out.