I Still Wake From My Nightmares

by Rachel Parsons

Table of Contents
Part 6 appeared
in issue 155.

Princess Rhiannon of New Fairy was a prodigal daughter of a king, forced by circumstance into a life of prostitution before returning to her father. Though freed from her servitude, Rhiannon has suffered a terrible curse and can never regain the modesty of childhood: she must appear naked at all times, vulnerable and cold. Her father’s subjects think her immodest, at best; strangers think far worse of her.

When she receives a letter from her sister, Queen Gwennan, asking her to come to her palace of Caer Dythal, and to come alone, Rhiannon is thrust into a series of adventures and political intrigues that put both her dignity and her sanity at stake.

part 7 of 8


He sliced through the ropes in a quick downward movement. I was free, but so were the hounds. They were heading toward me and away from the mountain pass and warmth. I had no choice but to flee further and further away from the valley and its radiant energies.

I fell several times, burying my face in the snow. But I would stumble to my feet, spurred on by the yips of the dogs. I thought of the girls in Math’s dungeon, who he obviously was feasting on, biting them a little at a time. To be eaten alive. Horrible! Horrible!

I ran, making my heart beat faster, and gasping for breath. It was just like my nightmare, but it would end with me being devoured, not raped.

I finally collapsed on my knees, coughing and retching.

“That’s enough, Math. That’s enough. Call off the dogs, Math.”

“I can’t, Manawyddan. I have to make sure she dies.”

“She’ll die here, Math. Just not horribly. It’ll be just like going to sleep. That’ll be a good death. Please, for my sake.”

“You do have a thing for this girl, as the Terrans say, Manawyddan. Very well.” To my relief, the dogs stopped short of me. My tears gave evidence to my gratitude that I wasn’t going to be a meal for hungry canines as my last experience on this world. The men trudged up, their leather boots making crunching noises on the snow. “But I’m going to make sure she dies,” Math growled.

I was on my knees, too cold and exhausted to offer any resistance. I just looked up at them. I was too cold even to get my lips to move to beg for mercy. But mercy wasn’t what Math had in mind. He pulled out his canteen, uncorked it, and proceeded to pour water all over me. It instantly froze on my flesh.

I would be dead soon for sure now. “Sorry, Rhiannon. I know Gwennan will grieve for you, but I have no choice. If you knew the reason why, you wouldn’t judge me harshly, as I know you do now.” He tramped off, with Manawyddan behind him. Manawyddan turned and gave me one last glance before he mounted his horse and followed Math down the mountain. There were tears in his eyes. At least he cared enough for me to be sad.

I wasn’t to get the good death. As the men became specks on the horizon, the wolves came out. A lupa led her pack up to me. They sniffed, their noses twitching. And then they dug in, inspired by the grease. I screamed, tearing my lips as the movement pulled them from the ice. The dogs were eating my breasts, digging into my womanhood and urethra, chomping on my arms and face. I went wild with pain, as I saw one chew on what had been my cheek, and another move his jaw up and down, getting a nipple on just the right molars.

I screamed and screamed until the cold and the loss of blood made my mind wink into a pinpoint again and I was gone.

“Oh, this is so disgusting and nasty.” I awoke, surprised to be alive. My body was torn to shreds by teeth and claws and the cold had gone from shooting, stabbing pain to a numbness that almost made me feel that I had already left my body for the Otherworld.

The observation as to my nastiness had been made by the raven girl who had led me to my doom. “Oh, you are just so awful looking, Rhiannon.”

“No thanks to you,” I croaked.

“I’m sorry. But you had to know about the girls. It was too late for most of them, but I knew you’d never forgive yourself if Sarah died. There’s still time for her.”

“I’m a little out of commission here, in case you haven’t noticed. I won’t be saving anyone. I can’t even save myself.”

“But I can save you. Do you want me to?”

“What can you do?”

“Do you want me to save you? I’ll just leave if you want me to.” She made to go.

“No, please. If you can save me, please, please do it. I don’t want to die. I’m not ready for that Otherworld.”

“None of us are,” she said. She took in a deep breath and sighed. “Okay, I’ll save you. But you have to promise me one thing, Rhiannon.”

“What?”

“After I fix you, you have to play with me.”

“Play with you?”

“If you don’t play with me, even if I heal you, you’ll find yourself right back in this spot.”

“That sounds like a threat.”

“No,” she said, sadly, “that’s just the way it is. Come on; say you’ll play with me, Rhiannon. It’ll be fun!” Her face lit up at the thought.

“Okay, if you heal me, I’ll play with you.”

“Oh, goody, goody, goody,” she said, clapping her hands. “Okay. Now, this will be a little painful for you Rhiannon, but trust me, okay? Just go with it when it gets too painful. It’s the only way the pain will stop.”

“Okay,” I said, not knowing what she was talking about.

“Your turn, Rhiannon.” Alcippe had just blown a bubble that stuck to her lower lip. Pink, it complemented her tunic nicely.

“Oh, I can do better than that!” I blew one that popped all over my face. Everyone applauded, with Asteria clapping the loudest. Alcippe shot her a dirty look.

We were camped in the woods outside the Stadium where the women were having their Games. Too young to be in the Games, we had decided to have some of our own. No javelin throws, bows and arrows, kick boxing, but bubble gum popping, saliva hocking, vine climbing — these were our sports. We had gotten the contest down to one between Alcippe and me.

“Tie breaker! I demand a tie breaker,” Alcippe yelled. Our judges agreed.

“Whoever gets to the top of the tree on her vine will be the Cosmic Champion of the Whole Galaxy!” announced Desinoe. “Ladies, on your mark!” She dropped the flag. We scampered up, the vine juice staining our clothes.

I was half way up when I noticed Alcippe’s vine was fraying. “Alcippe! You have to get down. You’ll fall.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Rhiannon? Don’t try to psych me out, wench!” Even back then, Alcippe let Terran slip into her language.

Scared for her, I reached out to grab her hand, should she fall. But she batted me away. And to my horror, the vine snapped at that moment and she fell. “I’ll get you for this, Rhiannon. I don’t know when, or how, but I’ll get you for this!” she screamed as she fell. She was in a body cast for months.

“You are so beautiful, daughter; your gown is radiant.”

“Thanks, Daddy,” I said, blushing. But his comments made me preen myself even more.

“Thanks, Father,” he corrected. “This is your Ushering, Rhiannon. You are now a woman. When you are older, you will take my place. You must learn the proper language etiquette. Your days of having fun and being a girl are coming to an end.”

“Yes, Father,” I said dully. My Ushering was supposed to be my day, at least until my wedding. Why did he have to spoil it by talking about responsibilities?

“In fact, tomorrow I will have you work the books of the kingdom. No better way to get to know the kingdom than by doing the books!”

“Thanks, Dad-Father. That would be just swell.” I had enjoyed my morning, having my maids-in-waiting dress me in the finest spider spun for the Ushering. And all my friends and I had spent hours giggling and ogling the boys. Alcippe was pretending to flirt with Manawyddan.

“He’s hot.”

“Most men are in those armored suits.”

“That’s not what I meant, Rhiannon. It’s a Terran phrase. It means ‘sexually attractive.’”

“Oh, and what would you know about sexually attractive men?” I laughed at her.

“A lot more than you!” she said, firmly.

“I’ll have you know that I’ve seen him without his shirt,” I volleyed back.

“Yes, but I’ve seen his manhood,” she said. “There! Top that!”

“When did you see his manhood?” I said, jealously.

“When I...” she then whispered in my ear.

“You didn’t! Alcippe, you wouldn’t.” She had to be lying. She knew I was sweet on Manawyddan, for one thing, and she was my friend. And for another, no respectable girl would do such a thing. I told her as much.

“Too pure for that sort of thing, huh, Rhiannon? Well, you’ll learn that’s what men want. And there will come a time when you’ll just have to give them what they want. Mark my words,” she said, melodramatically.

“Only when I’m married will I consider anything that disgusting.”

She laughed. “Oh, we’ll see about that, Rhiannon. You will be surprised what you will have to do as an adult to please men.”

“What would you know about that?”

Before she answered I gasped, choking, wanting for air. The girl was peering at me. “You’ll be all right now. So let’s play. Come on, you promised!” She pulled me to my feet.

“Play at what?”

“Snow ball fight!”

“You want me to have a snow ball fight, naked in the snow?”

“Uh, huh.” She landed one that exploded all over me.

“Why, you little bitch.”

“Catch me, if you can, Rhiannon.” She giggled and ran. I ran after her. Splashing me in the face like that!

“I’m going to teach you some manners, you little bitch!” I increased my pace. She kept on throwing snow at me, aiming at my face. I involuntarily ate several pieces of snow before I finally caught up with her.

We were down in the valley. I hadn’t realized how far we had run, but I was now where the temperatures, while not exactly hot, were not life threatening. I was still many miles from Caer Dythal, but there were no longer snow banks between me and safety.

I turned to confront the girl, but she was gone! “This disappearing act is getting to be monotonous!” I yelled to the thin air.

It was now a matter of walking to Caer Dythal without being accosted by highwaymen who might wish to rape me. I didn’t relish a repeat of my earlier encounter on the way there. But now at least word would be out about me, and robbers and rapists would be more careful, not wanting a capital offense over their heads for picking on the wrong victim.

I amused myself by thinking of the look on Math and Manawyddan’s faces when I showed up at the castle. It was scary thinking of bearding my enemies in their den, but Math’s disposal of me revealed one thing to my advantage. He didn’t dare do it outright. My safety depended on walking right up to him and exposing him for what he was.

My fears about being alone on the road came true within hours. I first heard the menace and then saw it. Two men approached me, galloping on horseback. One spun a rope over his head. Before I knew it, I was lassoed, then bound and staked out.


Proceed to the conclusion...

Copyright © 2005 by Rachel Parsons

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