A voice that was stern, if not imperious, said from some distance before me, "Straighten up. Stand properly." I rolled my shoulders back and lifted my head some. The sound of something whistling through the air came moments before a narrow rod of some sort struck my shoulders. It was not painful, per se, but it startled me. I straightened abruptly with a yelp of surprise. A white wand a little wider than my pinky finger came before my face and tapped the underside of my chin. I lifted my head to avoid it. Standing at my full height and with my head raised, I felt uncomfortably exposed.
The walker began to move about me again. The white wand moved at the edge of the pool of light. The discomforting sense of dizziness began to arise again. I felt the wand tap the back of my left knee. "Do not lock your knees," the male voice said from before me again, "It would be a shame if all of this was for naught." I swallowed uncomfortably and did my best to relax my stance. The sound of the footsteps at their even pace suggested that they could continue their efforts for a long hour. I, however, was uncomfortably tense and felt ready to get down off of the low pedestal. "Do you know why you are doing this exercise?" the voice said again.
"Because I must learn grace," I answered.
"Incorrect," he answered. The white rod swished through the air and snapped me smartly across the buttocks. I yelped and reached a hand back to ward off a possible second blow. The fabric began to slip off of my right shoulder and I moved to pull it back up. "Leave it be," he commanded. "Answer my question," he said after a moment, "Why are you doing this exercise?"
"Because I must learn ... something," I answered. I felt myself tense in expectation of another switching. When nothing happened, I shifted my weight from my right to my left foot and did my best to relax my knees.
"What are you to learn?" he asked and the walker began to move again.
"I don't know, sir," I replied with out bothering to hide my uncertainty or unease.
"My Lord," he corrected me, "It is my Lord, not sir."
"Forgive me, my Lord," I said, casting my gaze downward, "I do not know what I am to learn from this exercise, my Lord."
He made a thoughtful sound. The walker came to a stop off to my left. "Shall I enlighten you, my dear?" he said. There was some measure of amusement in his voice. A shiver ran down my spine.
"If it pleases, my Lord, I would be most grateful for his explanation and insight," I said, struggling with the urge to fidget with the cloth. He chuckled as the one who had been walking around me tapped their wand, possibly against their thigh or their hand. The sound was both ominous and exciting. A measure of confused anxiety rolled through me.
"You truly do not understand, do you?" the man somewhere before me in the shadows said. I was unsure if I heard marvelment or disbelief in his voice. I heard a sound as though someone was standing up out of a leather chair. Footsteps came forward. Dimly, I could see something of a person standing ahead of me. He was tall. He seemed familiar, though I could not place why. He moved towards my right, walking slowly. "You do not know why I have you here," he said slowly, as though he was considering his words with great care, "Perhaps a mirror would be necessary for this lesson." He stopped behind me. The person standing at my left walked away and then I heard something being wheeled forward in the darkness ahead of me.
The mirror was an ornate thing. It was easily as big as I was tall and mounted in such a manner where when it was brought before me I could see myself easily in it. The daphinious fall of fabric from my left hand just over my bosom managed to some how modestly cover me but also reveal the curves of my body. The scars beneath it seemed but a trick of the folds of the fabric. The softness of my belly and fullness of my thighs was reminiscent of the Grecian sculptures of Aphrodite. I started to look away from the reflection. A hand reached forward from the shadows behind me and took hold of my chin.
The grip was strong and did not allow me to turn my face away from the mirror. "Look closely, dear heart," he said behind me, "See what I see. Look at the softness of your skin and how it gleams in the light. Behold the fullness of your lips and the blush across your cheek. Note the way your hair lies upon your shoulder with that fine thread of silver through it, glistening like frost on autumn leaves. Tell me, do you not see beauty here?"
"I... I don't know," I answered uncomfortably. In the reflection, I could see his shoulder and part of his side as he stood behind me. His head was bowed slightly, his face hidden by a fall of long dark auburn hair. In the limited light that fell on him, he seemed to dwarf me even though I stood upon a dais that raised me up off the ground somewhat. He moved closer and the shadows on his face looked familiar, though I could not clearly see his face between the way the shadows fell, his hair being in his eyes, and his head half hidden behind mine.
"Your fair eyes are blind," he purred in my ear, "Open them so that you may see more clearly."
"My eyes are open, my Lord," I said, unable to keep the small, anxious whine out of my voice. He chuckled.
"Poor confused girl," he said and his hand slipped from my jaw to wrap about my throat. As he did so, warmth rolled over me. My eyes widened and I gasped. "Keep your eyes upon the mirror," he whispered, "Look and see what I see." As he spoke, I felt as though a caress passed over me. My eyes rolled and his grip tightened. He gave me a single firm shake. My eyes snapped open. I stared at my reflection.
I stared in fascination. My expression was one of pleasure. My body stood taught with aroused tension, my breath frozen in my throat as I found myself anticipating something more. "Do you see, girl," he said quietly in my ear, "The pretty little blush and the open mouthed smile of delight? The soft gaze and eager body? Do you see this?"
"Yes, my Lord," I murmured. I strained to see his reflection in the mirror. He gave me another firm shake. My eyes rolled as I shuddered with pleasure and gave a soft moan.
"Do not look at me," he said, "Look at yourself."
I looked in the mirror as though one who was hypnotized. Perhaps, in a way, I was. For, now I could not help but see how everything in me was bent towards him with yearning. I felt as though I was looking at a masterwork of some old world painter. It was a dizzying moment. His free arm wrapped around my waist as he stepped up close behind me. I took in a deep breath.
I could smell the scent of the deep forest on him. The cold bite of the winter wind and the astringent tang of pine mingled with the musk of fallen leaves and their slow decay. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, relishing the earthy scent. Somewhere in it, I could discern the sharpness of whiskey. "It is you," I sighed.
"Open your eyes," he murmured in my ear. I opened them, seeing his face through the veil of his hair and mine. My head rested lightly on his shoulder, my body arched slightly. "Do you understand?" he asked.
"I will try, my Lord," I answered, sounding almost as intoxicated as I looked. His thumb passed lightly over my pulse. For a moment, it pressed firmly against it. I took in a breath and shivered with pleasure.
"There is no try. You will learn," he said.
"Yes," I answered dreamily. His expression, which had been deadly solemn and serious, turned to a look of mild bemusement.
"My dear, sweet girl," he said with a chuckle, "So confused. But willing. You can be lead to water after all. Now to get you to drink."