artwork by callmeplisskin
In chapter 4, Alynnya meets the other leadership council members and makes a memorable impression upon them.
Chapter 4: Introductions
While I waited patiently, kneeling on the plush carpet of Marcus’ office, I did a quick mental recap of my situation–as my friend Evie had taught me the last time we were in trouble together.
On one hand, I’d successfully infiltrated the order that controls the werewolf that is terrorizing the land and is responsible for the disappearing women. Within three nights’ time I’d be close enough to the werewolf to kill it, rescue whatever girl is the tribute, and learn what happened to all the other women. Find Jess, bring down the cult, go home the hero and enjoy some well-earned leave. Perhaps with the dragon ladies and their friends.
On the other hand…
I’d just joined a cult, I’m kneeling in the private office of it’s powerful leader, and waiting for its leadership council to come and put me through who-knows-what kind of trials and hazing. Probably something sexual; after all, I was already on my knees. No one knew where I was, I had no backup, and no allies. If I made a mistake and blew my cover…well, Marcus had boasted how ruthless the cult was.
All in all, I’d been in worse situations. And if my suspicions were correct, I might enjoy some of the trials. And Marcus was relatively handsome…submitting to his tests might not be all bad…
I wouldn’t be worthy of being a ranger if I couldn’t handle a little hazing in order to complete my mission…I can do this!
The door opened behind me and I heard male voices, but I kept still and waited until the men had walked around in front of me. There were five of them in all, all dressed in smart reddish tailored suits with expensive looking ties and shoes. Each of them had a signet ring, as well as a rose lapel pin and a pendant around their necks.
For a moment, they each silently looked me over. I could almost feel their roving eyes, feel as though they were looking right through my wispy dress. Grins slowly took over most of their faces; evidently they liked what they saw. All except the tall spindly looking one. He looked as if he’d already found me lacking in some way.
Marcus spoke first. “Gentlemen, may I present Alynnya Lucksworth, a…scholar…and a new prospective initiate. She has requested our long-established tradition of trials in order to be deemed worthy of joining our order. Once she has completed the trials to your satisfaction and mine, I believe we will all find her worthy of the final initiation ceremony.”
A few of them seemed to have odd bemused looks on their faces. I met each of their gazes with a sweet smile.
“Sirs, it is my hope that each of you will find me worthy. I promise to not disappoint you.”
“Excellent response, Miss Lucksworth,” said Marcus. He turned to his associates. “As I told you, gentlemen, she has the disposition we are looking for in a prospect. Shall we honor her request for the trials?”
The men silently nodded their assent with broad smiles. Even the spindly man turned up one corner of his mouth.
“Then we shall begin immediately, by presenting Alynnya with the traditional symbol of a prospect’s commitment and obedience.” He was suppressing a happy grin as he said this.
I smiled back, not knowing what that meant, but happy that he seemed so pleased with me. Pleasing men like him was easy…it was just a matter of showing them what they wanted to see.
“Janine!” he called out, and a moment later I heard the door open and the receptionist acknowledged him. “Bring me the traditional adornment of a prospective initiate!”
“The what, Sir?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the men subtly tap at his neck.
“Oh. Yes, right away, Sir.”
Out in the hallway, Janine rolled her eyes. Marcus was ever the dramatic one. “Traditional adornment, my ass!” she said. She sighed and went to the closet where the items for the Moon Rituals were kept.
Despite his odd ways, Marcus was a good boss. And being an acolyte for The Order wasn’t a bad job. She didn’t know what this crap about a prospective initiate was about…women were never initiated into the order; it was in every sense a boys’ club. Even becoming a lowly acolyte like herself was a humiliating enough experience.
Still, something was up. The little blonde floozy was already on her knees in Marcus’ office. And now he wanted the ‘traditional adornment.’ Pffft. The only ‘tradition’ this ‘adornment’ had seen was being fastened around the neck of a screaming woman. What are you up to, Marcus?
Actually, Janine was pretty sure she knew. Well, she wasn’t going to be the one to ruin the fun.
Janine touched her fingers to the choker at her neck, a subtle reminder of her acolyte initiation a year ago. It was also a subtle reminder that the leaders of The Order demanded absolute obedience. It was best not to keep them waiting.
She returned to the office with the ‘adornment’ in her hand. Halfway across the room, she remembered Marcus’ flair for drama and scooped up a red pillow from the sofa. She placed the ‘adornment’ on it’s center and carried the pillow in both hands extended before her.
Marcus grinned at her as she approached. Feeling a little pride, she gave him a wink and handed him the pillow. She turned and glanced at the kneeling blonde.
“Good luck! We all hope you’ll join us soon!” she whispered as she passed, and tapped at the rose pendant at her neck.
Stupid little floozy. She had no idea what she was getting into.
While Janice was away, Marcus had again stepped forward and offered his ring to the girl. Again, she didn’t hesitate, taking his hand in both of hers and leaning forward to kiss it. He heard the sharp intake of breath from Louis behind him.
Marcus had known Louis for decades, and knew Louis had his own set of fetishes. Quite peculiar ones, but ones that were easy to exploit. He just needed to show Louis the potential in this girl, and Louis would have no further objections to Marcus’ plans.
Marcus turned toward him. “And, Miss Lucksworth, may I introduce the next most senior member of The Order, Sir Louis.” He gave a sweep of his hand, inviting Louis to approach her.
Louis stepped forward and offered his ring. “A pleasure, Sir Louis,” she responded before taking his hand and kissing his ring. “I look forward to earning your approval, Sir.”
“Your deference is refreshing, miss. I look forward to testing it,” he replied before returning to his spot. As he passed Marcus, he whispered, “I’ll not be calling you Sir Marcus, but well done.”
One by one, Marcus introduced the others and they stepped forward for the girl to kiss their ring. “Sir Jackson…Sir Gordon…Sir Gus…” To each, the girl pledged to live up to their expectations. And each assured her they were looking forward to participating in her trials.
On his way back to his spot, ‘Sir Gus’ whispered, “fuckin’ brilliant idea, boss…”
To be continued in Chapter 5: Induction