Before you begin reading, know that I feel a PG-13 rating is in order.
Sliding into a cocky pose, she cracked the whip over with a smooth flick, “Kneel before your goddess!”
The lash stopped just short of his face, just near enough for him to feel the whisper of its passing and for the percussion of its snap to rattle the drums of his ears, to hurt almost as if the lash had connected. “You’re no goddess of mine,” he spat.
“Of course, I’m not. I meant the statue.” She gestured behind her to the small, bronze model in its niche, a nude woman, arms outstretched and an expression of white fury on her face.
“I’ll kneel before no statue.”
Her head cocked like an eagle’s. The space of one nod was all it took for him to feel rough hands on his shoulders, pressing against his joints, and painfully pressing him to his knees.
“Better,” she said, and to her associates, “Hold him there. I don’t like people—particularly men—disrespecting the Mother. We can talk from here or we can talk while you’re chained to the dungeon ceiling, Kayle. If we speak in this comfort, you respect the goddess.”
“It’s to the dungeon you’ll send me anyway, Lissa. Call off your hounds, and let me stand like a man.”
“Men don’t stand in the Mother’s presence. If you stand, you stand like a woman.”
“Then let me stand like a woman.”
She regarded him again with that bird-bright stare. A second nod allowed him to throw off her women and rise. He crossed his arms over his chest.
“That’s quite an allowance from you,” Lissa said.
“And from you. You know me for what I am.”
“It sounds as if you might yet bend to a woman’s authority and the Mother’s power.”
“I recognize when I have lost the upper hand. It doesn’t mean that I can’t regain it.”
“Do you want to speak again from your knees, Kayle?”
“I’m perfectly comfortable. Tell me why you’ve had me brought here, woman.”
Lissa moved with grace and ease. She wore her femininity bared as the goddess did. Even though he despised her, it made her difficult to ignore and difficult for him to concentrate. The whip that she allowed to trail behind her was another distraction. He knew the sting of whips, and this one was thick, barbed, and potentially lethal. He wondered why she carried it. He did not know the texts sacred to the Mother and did not know if it was in some way a symbol of the Mother’s power or merely Lissa’s. She seated herself on the throne, softened with drapery and a cushion for her bare bottom, and she regarded him.
“You’ve come to surrender and pledge your allegiance to the Mother or die, Kayle.”
“You’ll have to kill me, Lissa. I won’t bend to your Mother.”
“The Mother is a kind woman, Kayle. She can forgive you, and she can protect you.”
“If I stumble on my knees and kiss her bare breasts.”
Lissa smiled. The whip slid lazily across the floor toward him, an annoyed cat’s tail, a warning with no snap. “The Mother asks for no such show.”
“But I cannot stand in her presence as a man?”
“You might if you first show her the respect she deserves.”
“She deserves none. She is a product of your imagination.”
“And I believe your god to be a product of your imagination, but you would have me worship him.”
“Norhad is the Master of All, you and your women, me and my men, each creature on land or beneath it, in the sea, or in the air. He gave you the imagination that conjured your Mother.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“It doesn’t matter what you believe.”
“Sadly, it matters to the Mother what you believe. Will you yield, Kayle? Will you reject your god and accept the Mother? Or do you choose to die before her? One more showing of the stubbornness and stupidity of men?”
I am a thief! I stole this first line from The Babbling Buzzard. Check back tomorrow for the link to her original piece using this line. I know I’m interested to see what she did with it.
All legal theft pieces will be collected will be posted by the thief lord here.
I also want to say that I don’t much stand for this brand for feminism. I won’t try to explain the way the that characters run out of control–not here.