Dawn was breaking over the River Bosporus as the small figure crept through the shadows toward the vine covered wall. A last, quick check of his surroundings satisfied him that he was still alone and undetected. With agility and grace, he scaled the wall and then moved quickly into the limbs of the large tree that should have been more carefully pruned to deny access from this wall.
He had dressed carefully for this day's activities, dispensing with his cooler white robes in favor of darker greens and browns. The tree's shade would keep him cool enough, while his clothes made him all but invisible as he huddled in his special hiding place in the tree's thick foliage.
Another scan of the grounds revealed no one who could have seen him. Pleased with himself, he settled to wait for the women to come out and play. Surely, this proved his courage, his manhood. It was too bad he did not dare brag about his adventures to the other boys, but that would be stupid, and fatal. As brave as he was, he did not wish to die. Still, the secret knowledge of his courageous act would make it easier to maintain his dignity when the other boys started to harass him again.
The sun had been up only a little while and already, Leisha was hard at work in her private chamber. In fact, her name was much more important and impressive than "Leisha", but that was the name her husband called her by, and therefore, how she called herself in her mind.
A scratching from the entrance drew her attention. "Come." she ordered with quiet authority. A younger woman, dressed in silks and adorned with jewelry entered the room.
"Lady, the lookouts say that he has returned." She said quietly, her eyes respectfully averted.
Leisha had been both expecting and hoping for this. In all likelihood, it would be her last hope. "Is he using the same hiding place, Senna?" She asked gently. The girl was still awed by her elevation to her current position of hand maiden and informal aide de camp. Hopefully, she would soon outgrow that timidity. The girl had intelligence, but her almost obsequious attitude was severely limiting her usefulness to the Sultana. Perhaps, it would be kinder to marry her off to some wealthy merchant or honored general. It might also be safer. . . . . for Leisha and her plans.
"Yes, Lady. Right in the large tree over the gardens."
"All right. Alert the Keisler Agha. Have him report to me once everything is in readiness. Then, we will send the girls out for their morning play." The girl salaamed and backed her way out of the room.
Restless and anxious, Leisha stood and went to stand by the window overlooking those gardens. Nothing about the tree revealed the presence of the spying male. She briefly wished that her Mother-in-Law was still alive, that the old woman's wise council was still available to her.
What she wished was that someone else would have to give these orders.
No, the responsibility was hers, now. And just as well, for it was her son's birthright she was fighting for. Spinning from the window, she called for her serving maids, renewed determination ringing in her voice. She must dress properly for this occasion. The Sultana Valideh, mother of the heir to the throne of Suliemann the Magnificent, had to terrify this young man, this boy, if her plan was to bear fruit.
The women were beautiful in their brightly colored silks and satins. Completely uninhibited behind the supposedly impenetrable wall, they cavorted like children, laughing and yelling as they played with a ball, or splashed in the pool. He liked them best in the pool, for they always undressed and unveiled to swim. Idly, he wondered if any of them were wives to the Sultan? They seemed very young for that honor. More likely, they were concubines or perhaps the wives of the Sultan's sons.
A rustle behind him broke his revery and hand him spinning around, but it was too late. Something sharp nicked at his arm and then, the world went black.
Slowly, consciousness crept back into the boy's mind. Two things registered simultaneously on his still-fogged brain. He could not move a muscle and he was stark naked. Shaking his head to clear it, he found that he was bound hand and foot to a very heavy chair. A large wad of something had been forced into his mouth and tied there, effectively muting him.
The room was dark and stuffy, with only a little light leaking in through a heavily curtained doorway that was off to one side of the room. Immediately in front of where he sat bound was a magnificent, gold-gilt chair with plush, velvet cushions and back-rest.
A momentary flash of light from the door caught his attention, but the cause was already gone before he could turn and focus on it. Fear coiled in his guts. There was no doubt that he was going to die. Men who defiled the harem of the Sultan died long, slow horrible deaths. Who would take care of his Mother, he thought bleakly. Should have thought of that before trying to prove how brave he was, his conscience chided. Now, it was too late.
The curtain unfurled and two shadowed figures loomed in the suddenly bright entryway. A woman dressed in magnificent court robes entered first, followed by a tall, muscular, bare chested black man who carried a vicious looking scimitar. She gracefully settled into the magnificent chair while the man took up a position to one side of the Lady, and between her and the boy. The boy realized that the man could cut him in half with that blade and not move a step from where he'd positioned himself.
"I am the Sultana Valideh, boy, and you have committed a heinous crime against my husband, the Sultan. We must decide what we are going to do about you." It was only then, that the boy realized that she was unveiled. He had been so stunned by her pronouncement, that he had stared at her. His incredulity had made her smile, sardonically.
She was a handsome woman, older than his mother, but still slender and vigorous. Her ebony hair was shot with tendrils of silver that flashed in the uncertain light of the room. A large ruby glittered in her hairpiece and was matched by other stones dangling from her ears and about her neck and arms.
"We must talk, young man." she said grimly. She turned her eyes to the guard. "Ali, ungag him."
Slowly, without moving from his position, the powerfully built black man lifted the scimitar to the boy. Only the binding holding him rigidly to the chair kept him from skittering away. With infinite control and delicacy, the edge of the blade sliced the strap holding the gag without cutting the boy. He could only stare as the straps fell into his lap, his eyes round and frightened.
A soft chuckle from the woman brought him back. "Unless you want Ali to remove the remainder of the gag in the same manner, I suggest you spit out the wadding in your mouth."
He'd have swallowed if he'd had any spit to do it with. The wad was large and his mouth was very dry because of it, so it took several tries, but it finally joined the strap in his bared lap. "What is your name, boy, and how old are you?" Leisha snapped out at him.
Fear prompted his answer. "Selim, Lady, son of Rascheed, former Captain in the Sultan's Army. And I am nearly sixteen years old."
The Sultana's eyes became narrow as she scanned the boy's body. Nodding to herself, she continued. "Well, Selim, you should die painfully for your foolishness, but I am a merciful woman. However, one thing you must know and accept before we continue. Whatever your fate, life as you have known it ends today. You have entered a place that no man other than the Sultan may enter and live. Selim, son of Rascheed, must therefore die."
Selim's heart dropped to his guts and he fought to keep back the tears. Whatever came, he had to remain worthy of his father. Leisha watched the boy swallow convulsively and privately admired his fortitude. He expected to die, and yet, he was fighting not to give in to his terror. He might do, she thought, he just might do.
"As I said, Selim, I am a merciful woman. I will give you a choice. You can choose the death your crime warrants. I can have Ali," she inclined her head to man standing between them,"who is the Chief Eunuch of the Sultan's Harem, turn you over to my Lord's executioners and you will die sometime next month. Although, " she added contemplatively, "You will likely have gone mad from the pain far sooner than that." She paused again, letting that thought take root and grow. "Or, we can eliminate the crime altogether by having you emasculated. As a eunuch," a dark grin lit her face, "You would no longer count as a man. Unfortunately, your age is against you. Most boys called to that service are neutered before they reach puberty because they usually bleed to death or die from infections if the operation is done after puberty."
All color had drained from Selim's face and he was visibly shaking now. Good, she thought. Let the fear grow before she gave him his only other alternative. "Still, that is a far more pleasant death than what my husband would inflict upon you. There is a third possibility, as well, but I think we will discuss that later. Suffice it to say, that I have a task you might be able to perform for me. Should you succeed, you will be allowed to live." She turned to the huge guard. "Ali? I think Selim might need help with his decisions. Please see that he observes an execution and a neutering. I want him to understand those alternatives very clearly before I give him his only other one."
"As you command, Mistress." The tall black intoned as she stood to leave. He followed her out the door leaving a badly shaken boy fighting the urge to soil himself.
Ali stood rigidly at attention in front of Liesha's desk. It amused her that he could not bring himself to relax in her presence, even when they were completely alone. Of all the personalities in the Harem, he was one of her few friends, and the only one she trusted absolutely. The myth that eunuchs were fat or stupid was just that, a myth. The magnificent body and mind of her friend was proof of that. Heavens, but it was a crime against women that this beautiful, gentle man could never join and make love with a woman.
After 20 years together, she knew better than to offer him a seat, so she merely smiled her greeting to him. "It went well?" she asked.
A look of pure satisfaction glittered in his eyes. "Indeed it did, Mistress. The Sultan's executioner exceeded even his well earned reputation for cruelty with the two thieves we watched dispatched. Also, it was not lost on the lad that they lasted far less time than the days and days you promised him. As for the emasculation, that too went very well for us. One of the boys spurted blood quite magnificently when cut. And the burying of the boys in the dung pile afterwards was also effective. It was quite . . . pungent that day from the heat."
"The boy who bled. He will live?"
Smiling at the concern in her voice, the Keislar Agha nodded. "He will be fine. The flow was staunched quickly and very little blood was actually lost."
Relieved, Leisha pressed on. "So, what do you think?"
The large man was silent for a moment as he considered. "He will go along with your plan, Mistress, no matter how repulsive he may find the duties." He paused again, reflectively. "There is something else I have learned that may even win his full complicity in this venture. Something that will motivate him far more than just the fear for his own life." The Sultana looked up at him expectantly. "His Mother, Lady, she is widowed and alone. He fears for her well being after he is gone. If you offered to see to her health and comfort in return for his taking his part in this. . ." he let his voice trail off.
"He is that concerned for her?" Ali nodded. "Very well. I will use that, but only after he agrees on his own behalf. I will make the other an added inducement, a hedge against his good behavior." Both of them knew she would see to the Mother's protection in any case, but the boy would not have to know that.
"When do you want the boy?"
"Tomorrow is soon enough. Another day of fear and hunger will make him all the more malleable. He needed to lose a little weight, anyway." That reminded her of something else. "Has he been measured for the appliance?"
"Yes, Mistress. I personally gave the sizes to your goldsmith yesterday, and the device is now complete and ready."
"Do you think he can do what needs be done, Ali? So much is at stake, and we have so little time."
"His general build is correct, and he is very slight for his age. My sources tell me that his father was not a large man and his mother is also slight of build. Besides, I have seen her and he seems to favor her. Everything will hinge on how well he learns and whether he can overcome his self image sufficiently to perform. Only Allah knows that with any certainty, Mistress, but I think he is a suitable candidate."
Leisha took a few moments to consider the softly spoken words. So like Ali, she thought. Clear and concise. Optimism without over confidence. And he was right. The boy had potential, and besides, she no longer had any choice. "Very well, Ali. Have the boy and the appliance here tomorrow after the midday meal. Order your physician and the Teacher of the Womanly Arts to attend me at the same time."
So little time, she thought again as Ali glided away on his errands. So little time and so very much to lose.
Exhaustion dragged at Selim as he once again sat waiting in the dark room. At least this time only his hands were tied and they were in front of him, too. He had not been bound to his chair.
What sleep his captors had permitted him had been shattered time and again by terrible dreams. Nightmare screams of the tortured and spurting, pulsing fountains of red had brought awake, screaming, each time his fatigue weighted eyes had drifted shut. He'd been fed, although not nearly enough to keep the hunger pangs at bay. Water had been plentiful - for drinking, not bathing - so he had not dehydrated over the time in the small windowless cell. He did not even know how long he'd been in there after they had shut him in there after forcing him to watch as the last neutered boy had been buried in offal. The stench, he thought, that horrible stench.
Those dreams and those memories made him even more fearful about what this day held. The Sultana was going to tell him his third option. By his hope of heaven, what could be so dreadful, so horrible a fate, that he needed to see those things with his own eyes to convince him to accept this unknown fate?
The question remained unanswered as the curtain opened to admit the Chief Eunuch and the Sultana. She again sat down in the throne-like chair, while the Keisler Agha took his place between them. On seeing her enter, Selim sank down in a salaam, his face pressed to the floor. "Rise, Selim." was her gentle order.
With great effort, the boy levered himself upright, but stayed on his knees, as much because he doubted his ability to stand without falling as anything else. "Ali tells me you have seen two of your choices." Wearily, the boy nodded. "I will now explain part of what will be required of you if you accept the third option. I need a man to become a woman."
Shock cut through the fugue of Selim's hungry fatigue. His eyes were huge in disbelief. Leisha hid a grin behind her hand. They would have much to teach this one about subtlety and subterfuge. "Yes, young Selim, son of Rascheed and Mirrim, I have a task that requires a man to look like a woman, behave like a woman, live like a woman, and yes, make love like a woman." She paused a moment to let that sink in and then she fixed his gaze with her own. "I told you that your life as you knew it had ended that day you violated the harem, young man. If you are to walk from this room today with any hope of life beyond the next few days, you will do so taking your first steps towards womanhood. Now, come, I am sure you have questions. Speak, boy."
Still stunned, coherent speech was all but beyond Selim. Spasmodically, his bound hands slipped to his groin. "But, how, . . I mean, what about. . .?"
Understanding his dilemma, Leisha decided to answer his questions. "How is something you will learn, probably painfully, over the coming weeks. As to your male endowments, for the time being, you will keep them. I need a male who looks like a female, young Selim, but who is still fully and entirely male. And besides, I already told you the likelihood of your surviving castration."
"And if . . ." The boy faltered. "If I succeed at this mission?"
"Then you live." was the cold answer. "As a woman for the remainder of your days. If not here, then elsewhere. Do well and your life will be one of comfort. Fail, or worse, accept the mission and fail to try and your life will become a hell on earth that only women can fully appreciate. There are places, young Selim, where a woman's body is her only asset and even that is not her own. Places where death is easy and life impossible. Now, you must choose. Pick your fate, young Selim."
"Mistress. . . Lady. " Selim choked out the words, then pressed on. "My mother. She's alone. I am afraid for her."
"She is blameless in my view, Selim. Even as we speak, she has been taken into my care. She has been told that you died trying to save a child and that I was touched by your bravery.Accept my mission, Young Selim. Learn what you must earn, and I promise you she will want for nothing." Leisha consciously gentled her voice as she made that pledge.
"I have failed my mother once, Lady, I will not do so again. I will do as you ask." the boy's voice trembled with commitment and determination.
"Are you sure? The priest teach that you will be giving up your hope of Paradise by surrendering your manhood this way. Be very certain, young Selim, because if you choose this path and then fail to try, I will have Ali cut your tongue out and turn you over to the Sultan's Executioner. You won't even have the solace of screaming your pain." Nor would he be able to tell the Sultan's Chief Justice where he'd been or what he'd been doing behind the purdah.
"My mother's life and what is left of my father's honor are at stake, Lady. I promised him I would take care of her. You have given me one last chance to keep that vow. My hopes of Paradise would surely die if I did not do as you ask."
Satisfied at last, Leisha relaxed. "Very well, young one. From this moment on, you will be known as Shamarra. After we part today, Ali will take you to one of my harem guards who we have had trained as a physician. He will examine you and ensure you are as healthy as you appear. Then, you will meet with Reyna, our Teacher of the Womanly Arts. You will work with her daily so that you become a woman in all outward appearances and mannerisms. She will also instruct you in the arts of giving pleasure to a man. Only Ali, the physician, Lady Reyna and myself must ever know you are really a male. Do you understand that?"
"What is your name?"
He nearly answered 'Selim', but caught himself at the last instant. "I am called Shamarra, Mistress." He said trying to affect a feminine tone.
Nodding at his catch, Leisha smiled sardonically. "You would do well, young Shamarra, to think of yourself in the feminine from now on. The sooner you think that way, the sooner it will be what you are, and that time, my young woman, must come as soon as possible."
With that, she stood and floated out of the room. With surprising gentleness for so large and strong a man, Ali lifted the exhausted would-be girl to her feet. "Come along, Lady Shamarra. The Doctor awaits us. After that, Lady Reyna and after that, some food." If you are still awake to eat it, he mused.
The "Doctor", was a younger, shorter version of Ali. "I am called Torack." he said by way of greeting. His voice was soft and very gentle. He had strong, handsome features and large, expressive brown eyes. Selim, or rather, Shamarra, was of a mind to trust this soft spoken man in the clean white robes.
"Torack is my brother, Shamarra." Ali offered. "As a boon to me, the Sultana Valideh purchased him when he was captured and sold as a harem slave. He has studied with the finest physicians in the Empire."
Strangely, that comforted the would-be woman, which was just as well. As gentle as his voice and demeanor were, the examination was not. Minute attention was paid to every part of his body, even his hair, or in the case of his pubic area, his lack of it. Torack pressed his ear to the hairless chest and listened to the beating of the heart and the rhythm of the lungs. A strong hand covered and sealed Shamarra's mouth, forcing her to breathe through her nose.
Thick, cylindrical probes of steadily increasing girth were gently forced into mouth and throat until he started gagging. These were then slowly withdrawn to just the point where he regained control of his breathing, then were reinserted until the gagging started again. Thinner devices were carefully lubricated and inserted into his anus. Only Ali's incredible strength held the boy-girl in place during this painful and unexpected procedure.
His penis and scrotum were manipulated and examined. A vivid flush stole over the nude boy's body as his small penis responded to the gentle fondling and erected.
Through it all, Torack made many notes in a book on his table, and asked questions that were often as embarrassing to the adolescent as the intrusive procedures. "Have you ever lain with a woman?" "Have you ever fondled yourself as I have just done?" "How often?" "How did it feel?" "Does your penis get much longer or thicker than it just did?" "In the course of this activity, does any fluid spill forth from the slit?"
Only the fate awaiting him if he failed in his tasking and the implications for his Mother gave Shamarra the courage to answer such humiliating questions. No, he had never lain with a woman. Yes, he did masturbate often, at least daily and usually more often because it felt so good. No, it had never gotten as long or as thick before and yes, a thick, white, viscous fluid always ejected from the slit. Quite copiously, in fact.
Torack finished a few final notes in his book and then turned to Ali. "That is all for now, my brother. We are ready for the Lady Reyna. If you will call her, I will prepare Shamarra for the next phase." Ali nodded and strode from the room. Shamarra arose from the palette she had been lying upon and followed Torack to a small ante room off the main clinic.
Inside the small room, two fine chains hung from the ceiling, with soft leather straps dangling from them. Experienced with restraints after his time in the dungeons, Shamarra offered her hands to the young black. Torack saw the fear in the girl-boy's eyes and smiled gently. "You are not really going to be tortured, child, although it may seem that way initially. This is only to make what must be done easier for all of us, yourself included. It won't last a moment longer than necessary. Just relax until Ali returns with the Lady Reyna."
That was easier said than done, but Shamarra tried. Still, he/she was in a muck-sweat by the time Ali reappeared with a handsome woman of middle years dressed in the silks of the harem. She was taller than Shamarra and nearly as tall as Torack. She wore her auburn hair long, shimmering down her back like a red waterfall against the shimmering greens of her clothing. Her face would likely be beautiful if not for the stern set of her mouth and the way her eyes had narrowed to look at the boy. She carried something gold and metallic in her hands which she handed to Ali before stepping up in front of Shamarra.
"I am Lady Reyna," she said in a cold, flat voice. "but for all intents and purposes, I am your Mistress and you are my slave. It is my duty to teach you the things you need to know in order to survive. The sooner you learn, the sooner you will gain what passes for freedom in the harem. The better you learn, the better your chances are for a long life." She reached up to pinch Shamarra's cheeks between her thumb and forefinger, and forced him to look into her eyes. "The lessons will be hard, little one. They will be often humiliating, sometimes painful and always completely outside of your poor male experience. But they must be learned and learned quickly. It is my tasking to help you, but you will come to believe that my help most often appears to be cruelty.
So be it, but understand this, little one - only one other person in this world wants you to succeed more than I want you to succeed."
Reyna relaxed her grip and a touch of the mischievous nature that had gotten him into this mess resurfaced. "Besides me, Mistress Reyna?"
A fleeting smile softened the older woman's features. "You really think you want what I am about to do to you, little one?" She asked with sweet venom dripping from her words.
She watched with hidden pleasure as the child's spine stiffened at her challenge. "Yes, Lady, I do. My life, and more importantly, my Mother's life hang in the balance. What you teach, I will learn."
"We shall see, little one, we shall see." She turned to Ali and gestured toward the mass of golden cloth and metal.
Ali knelt and took each of Shamarra's feet in turn and put them into obvious leg holes in what now appeared to be some type of short pants. Once he had both feet into their respective leg, Ali banded her ankles with straps matching the ones on her wrists that were chained to eye-bolts seated in the floor. Rising, he stepped back to permit Torack and Reyna free rein.
Reyna slipped the garment up Shamarra's legs. Whatever it was, there was a large hole in the back. The front of it was a metallic plate with small grating directly in the center of the plate.
Reyna held the plate up near Shamarra's groin and Torack took hold of her genitals. A soft cylinder of satin was pulled over the trunk of her penis and laced tightly about the stem. A belt connected to the satin device pulled her manhood back and between her legs, where a metal tube, integral to the inside of the plate was fitted to the glans.
Reyna then pulled the device the rest of the way up, above Shamarra's hips. "Now, Ali." she ordered. Ali began turning a large wheel, and the chains holding Shamarra's wrists began to rise. It was all Shamarra could do not to scream as the tension in her arms and wrists increased.
Reyna moved behind Shamarra and began to lace up the girdle that extended to just below her ribs. When she had the silk laces as tight as she could manage, heavy belts were pulled around Shamarra's shrunken waist and pulled even tighter. Reyna then tightened the lacing again before proclaiming herself satisfied. The belts were removed and the tension released.
Shamarra felt like she was cut in two. Breathing was nearly impossible - deep breaths certainly were. "Come with me, girl." Reyna ordered imperiously. She led the way back into the main clinic to a large mirrored wall.
Shamarra looked at herself in disbelief. From the ribs down, she looked like a female. The girdle looked like a woman's chastity belt, covering the evidence of her masculinity with the grated metal plate, but leaving her bottom round and bare. The top of the garment had taken at least a hand-span off her waist and given her the illusion of womanly hips. An illusion that was assisted by the design of the girdle which padded her hips and made them even more rounded. A clicking sound behind her caught Shamarra's attention and had her spinning her back to the mirror. Reyna had affixed a small golden lock to the back of the belt where the waist belt and the belt between her legs met.
"There are only two keys to that lock, little one. For now, I have one and the Sultana has the other. If I ever see you without that lock, I will take you immediately to the Sultana and you will die. Do you understand?"
Swallowing hard, Shamarra nodded. "I understand, Mistress."
Frowning momentarily, Reyna gave a curt nod. "A good first
effort. We still need another hand-span off that waist of yours,
but you have potential. Ali, take her to her quarters and have
her fed. Tomorrow, we will start the lessons in earnest."
With that, she spun on her slippered heel and left the room, a
thoroughly befuddled Shamarra gaping after her.
The four conspirators sat in the Sultana's private apartment.
"The boy is asleep?" Leisha asked.
"_She_" Reyna answered with emphasis, "is exhausted from her experiences in the dungeon and in Tormack's office. She fell asleep almost instantly - even in that tortuous belt you had built." A devilish grin lit her face. "It certainly cut down on her appetite."
Leisha turned her eyes to the physician. "And his health. . . as well as other factors?"
Torack opened his notes. "He is a healthy, if underdeveloped boy. If I did not know he was sixteen, I would have put his age closer to ten or eleven because of his slight frame and lack of body hair. He is, however, sexually maturing. He erects, although his equipment is on the small side, and he does manualize himself regularly to ejaculation."
A sly grin lit the Sultana's face. "Then our appliance will cause him some . . . discomfort?"
"Yes." the young physician replied. "I think the Lady Reyna can count upon sexual tension assisting her in some of the more feminine training you have planned. You will have to go slowly when you initially begin putting him . ."
Lady Reyna interrupted. "Her. We too must think of the child as female. We are all at risk in this conspiracy. Shamarra is not the only one who faces the Imperial Executioner if word of this gets into the wrong ears."
The Sultana nodded and gestured for Torack to continue. "When you begin putting *her* to cock training of any type. Her bottom is very tight, but quite elastic and her gag reflex does appear trainable."
"And Shamarra's appearance?" The Sultana asked.
"The girdle does its work well, Lady." answered Reyna. "It smooths her front, rounds her hips, shrinks her waist and presents her bottom most prettily. Her skin, face and hair need much effort, but she should be lovely. My one concern is her lack of a bosom." She turned her head to Torack.
"I have found nothing that really does grow breasts, Lady.Every magician and charlatan healer has something guaranteed to round out a woman's figure, but none of those really work and most of them are all but deadly. Outside of massage techniques to attempt to redistribute what fat the child has into her chest, there is nothing I can recommend."
"Ali, you are an excellent masseur. Do what you can with the girl. Be as severe as you can be without permanently hurting her, but see if you cannot give her at least a temporary shape. It would also be useful to know how long the shape will last." Her longtime friend and protector nodded solemnly.
That solved, She turned back to Torack. "And the other tool we will need?"
"Almost complete, Lady. We are testing it with thick syrups now. I think we can guarantee the sowing part will work. Whether the sown seeds will germinate and grow, I cannot say unless we test it."
That statement shocked everyone. Finally, the Sultana Valideh regained partial control of her voice and whispered. "Test it? As in, to see if we can actually cause a . . . a. ." her voice failed her again.
Torack nodded, understanding what she could not say. "Yes, tested fully. Unless we completely test every aspect of our plan to the fullest extent, we are taking great risks for no certain gain."
"But that would mean that we would need. . ." she struggled for the words. "Seed" the word came out in an explosion of sound. "And. . . a safe place to sow it."
"Just so, my Lady."
The audacity of the young eunuch appalled and fascinated Leisha. Still, she mused, he had the right of it. "I will give it due consideration. Allah knows we have no shortage of fertile furrows for our purpose, although finding a *safe* one poses some difficulties. The real problem is obtaining the seed without anyone knowing we have done it." She frowned.
"Well, nothing to be done until Torack finishes his testing. Reyna will have a long day ahead of her. I suggest we call it a night."
Selim, or rather Shamarra (it was so difficult to think of him, no, make that *her*self by that name) awoke slowly. Dawn's first light crept long shadows into the luxuriously appointed cell he had been taken after being locked into the gold girdle. An injudiciously deep breath reminded him forcefully of that experience, making his ribs all but creak against the crushing grip.
Shamarra rolled to her side and was surprised to find that she was not alone in the bed. Lady Reyna, looking surprisingly young and beautiful without her jewelry and cosmetics was quietly snoring beside him... *her* on the large couch. She lay there, watching the older woman sleep until her body reminded her, quite forcibly, of the need to eliminate bodily wastes.
Carefully, so as to not awaken the other woman, Shamarra slipped out of the pillowed bed and began to search for the facilities. She found the chamber pot hidden in a small alcove off the sleeping chamber behind a beaded curtain. That did not solve all of her problems. She could not figure out to do the deed, since the metal girdle prevented her from taking matters "in hand" and aiming.
A soft, husky chuckle behind her made her start with surprise. "I see we forgot to tell you a few things, little one. The tube into which your lingam is inserted will pass the urine out the front grating of the belt, just like any other woman's chastity device would."
Shamarra flushed brightly, and would have tried to wait for the older woman to leave, but she had simply gone too long without relief. Gingerly, she moved to straddle the large pot, but was hauled up short when a surprisingly strong hand gripped her shoulders and spun her about just before she could release the flow. "Women sit, little one." Reyna said with soft emphasis before she pressed the girl down to sit on the seat built onto the pot.
Only the intensified agony of having been stopped *just* short at the last possible instant overcame her shame at being watched by someone. A loud gurgling sound, ringing from the metal pot, loudly announced the onset of relief. "Very good, dear." Reyna said. "And as for the other matter, the girdle leaves your bottom free and unimpeded for that function." Then her voice turned sly. "And for several more you have never had occasion to learn. . . . . until now, that is. Finish your business and call me. I will start teaching you female hygiene as soon as you have completed the other, then we will break our fast and begin your lessons."
The satin pillowed sleeping chamber had been long dark when Reyna had finally permitted her pupil to go to her bed. Shamarra was intensely grateful for the soft, womb-like comfort of the cushioned bed as she sank bonelessly under the covers. Every muscle in her body ached, and muscles she had never been aware of having before hurt. After she'd finished her morning eliminations, Reyna had taken her back to the suspension chains and tightened the girdle again before permitting Shamarra to break her fast. "After all, little one, you have just emptied yourself - an ideal time to help your shaping." Reyna had said in that sly tone of hers. It had also left Shamarra little room for food in her stomach which Reyna thought was another fine thing.
The entire long day had been spent learning "how to be a woman", or at least, "how to be a woman in a harem". She had spent hours simply learning how to move her body, her arms, her hands; how to dance; how to hold her head, how to look innocent, how to look *not* so innocent. She'd begun her lessons in the arts and techniques of seduction and love making and those had not been fun at all. The burning ache in her bottom and the numb, stretched feeling of her lips and mouth were a constant reminders of how difficult those lessons had been and how demanding a teacher Lady Reyna was.
Along with the crushing, unrelenting grasp of her girdle, the "punishments" for not moving properly or gracefully were, in large part, responsible for her other pained parts. She could do nothing about the girdle, but Shamarra resolved she would do much better tomorrow in her deportment lessons. Her and her mother's lives depended on it. And with that reaffirmation, she let her eyes drift closed in sleep.
Reyna, Torack and Ali attended the Sultana in her chambers. "Actually, she did remarkably well. I was greatly surprised, but I believe the fate of her mother drives her."
"She moves well, then?" Leisha asked.
Reyna nodded. "Yes. She's very graceful and very determined to learn. Still, she is a sixteen year old boy so she forgets often enough that I was able to keep her walking on her tiptoes much of the day." the Sultana nodded. Forcing a young one who tended to stride rather than glide to stand and walk on tiptoe was a favored teaching tool among the women of the harem. "It wore on her as the day passed and I suspect she is going to be hurting quite a bit in the instep and calves tomorrow. That will give me the excuse I will need to really punish her." Reyna added matter of factly.
Guilt still tugged at the Sultana's heart. "If she is doing so well, is it really necessary to hurt her that way, Reyna?"
Reyna smiled gently at her longtime friend and confidante.
"She will face it sooner or later, Lady. Best she face it now and learn to fear it. We won't really harm her, although she will think we are killing her. Others won't be so kind."
"My son in particular, Reyna?" The Sultana asked resignedly. Reyna remained silent - the question did not require an answer.
"I myself will administer the punishment, Lady." Ali added in is calm voice. "It will be no worse than it must be to get the child's full attention and to help her fully understand and respect its affects."
The Sultana nodded her acquiescence. "Very well. How did the other training go?"
Reyna grinned. "We used only the smallest of the probes. I suspect she prefers taking them in her mouth to taking them in her bottom, but she did both without verbal complaint. She will have to learn more pleasing facial expressions." Reyna imitated one of her pupil's pained grimaces and then laughed. "Somehow, I don't think the look of a constipated cow in labor will do much to arouse your son, but she has time and she will acclimate to the intrusion. Once she is confident about her ability to accept the phallus and knows that it will not damage her, we can teach her to look more seductive while she does it."
"Anything else?" Leisha asked.
Torack nodded and removed a very small, cage-like device from his robes. Three circles of metal, each of steadily decreasing diameter were connected to one another by three screw devices attached to the circles equidistantly about their perimeters. The device looked like the framing of a truncated cone. The top two, smaller rings were bisected with a metal post that connected to the individual rings perimeters. "I found the design for these in one of the old texts. They are meant to "train" a woman's nipples. The way these work is that each nipple is pierced twice - once on the areola and once on the tip itself. This post," he indicated the one in the smallest ring, "goes through the tip while the post in the middle ring goes through the areola. The largest ring is set against the breast itself as the base of the device. Then, we periodically adjust these little screws and stretch the tip and the areola out from the chest. Gradually,they become "trained" to stay out like that. I thought we might use these and later some decorative ones on our subject. If we cannot give her breasts, we can still adorn her this way."
Reyna picked up the device and played with it. "How large can the nipple be made to grow?" she asked.
"I am sure the results vary. Some women have very large areolas, but having the entire thing expand this much from the breast, " he held up his thumb and indicated the first joint from the tip, "is not uncommon. Unlike her male parts, our young houri's nipples are already rather large and full for a male. I should think we could get comparable results from her."
"When can we do it?" asked Leisha.
"We can use these immediately." Torack stated. "The decorative ones will take time to fabricate. The surgery should be given some time to heal afterwards, though."
Reyna spoke up. "She is going to be indisposed for a day or so after the punishment anyway. We could keep her restricted to her room for a few days afterwards by saying she is suffering her monthly. That would give you five days or so, Torack."
The young physician nodded. "Yes, that will do. After that we can start extending the rings slowly. That way, she will be healing, but will still form scar tissue from the surgery that will help keep her nipples erect."
"So be it." Leisha directed. "Do the surgery tomorrow after she has been punished. Get all of the pain out of the way as quickly as possible." Her supporters bowed and let themselves out of the room.
Shamarra could do nothing correctly the next day. Muscle stiffness had set in, making it impossible for her to move about with any ease or grace what so ever. Reyna's countenance became grimmer with each passing minute, her observations more caustic and mocking. "You simply are not trying, little one. I warned you that you would suffer if you did not try. Now, you will truly learn the meaning of pain.
Insure it is a lesson you need be taught only once." She pulled a bellrope furiously. Ali appeared almost immediately.
"Ali, this little bitch is not applying herself. She is to be punished. Five strokes, please."
"Yes, Mistress." the Keisler Agha replied, and led the frightened Shamarra away.
Shamarra soon found herself seated in a chair with her bared feet extended straight out before her. A pillory type stock held her ankles. Golden strings, tied to each of her big toes, pulled them back up and were fixed to the top of the stocks. This forced her feet to stay nearly vertical and prevented her from moving them in the slightest. Her wrists were strapped to the arms of the chair while another strap held her torso fixed to the chair's back.
Fear curled in her guts as she watched the massive black eunuch set down his sword and pick up a long thin baton. It was nearly as long as her arm and as thick as her thumb and it made a frightening whistling sound as Ali whipped it back and forth.
Reyna arrived then, and after approving Shamarra's positioning, nodded to Ali.
The cane whistled again and fire seared the soles of Shamarra's feet. No one needed to tell her to pitch her voice femininely this time. The shriek of pain and surprise was completely appropriate to her new station in life, as was the one that followed the second stroke.
Dispassionately, Reyna noted that the girl had lost control of her bladder on the third stroke. A growing dark circle on her silk pantalettes marked the spot of her girdle's grate.
Shamarra passed out after the fifth and final stroke. Ali shook his head, sadly. He had not expected to actually have to deliver that stroke. Most of the girls who faced this test passed out after the fourth, and some after the third. They were told that they still received the full measure of their punishment. This one had not passed out and Ali had laid on the last blow harder than he wanted to assure that. The girl would now remember the bastinado with due respect, and would do anything to avoid it in the future. As the conspirators had intended from the very start.
Reyna looked at the girl. "Call Torack, Ali. Let us do the other part while she is unconscious. We don't need her to hurt any more than is necessary." Ali bowed and went to find the healer while Reyna went to release the bonds holding the child.
"It is over? The child is all right?" Leisha asked.
Reyna nodded shakily. She had not enjoyed this day's work. "She is sleeping now. Torack administered a potion after he installed the nipple devices and pierced her ears. Tomorrow is soon enough for more training. She won't be able to walk before then, anyway."
Leisha turned to Ali who nodded. "The little one took it very well. I had to be much more harsh than I intended or expected to be. However, she will now respect and fear the bastinado, so it served its purpose. She will not want to repeat the experience. It also might. . ." He trailed off consideringly. "It might be useful to have that as a threat against his Mother, as well."
Leisha looked pained, but Reyna nodded. "Yes. She will do almost anything to make up for her "failure" to protect her mother. Even the least hint would probably assure her full and continued cooperation."
The Sultana looked at her friend, disgust evident in her lovely eyes. "Are we right, Reyna? The Holy Ones would say what we are doing is an abomination, what we intend to have her do a crime against God. That says nothing about what we are doing to that child."
"What is our alternative, Leisha? Let Cera's son become Sultan when your son is set aside, probably killed for his sin? What is the greater evil? What we propose, or letting the Sultancy fall to a simple minded fool who will lead the Empire to destruction at the cost of thousands of lives? What is the life of one small boy, who will then continue to live a life of great luxury, I might add, against all those lives?"
Leisha closed her eyes and sighed. "You are right, of course. It would be nice to know that we have a chance of succeeding."
Torack spoke up. "The device is ready to test, Lady. If we could test it, that would at least tell us if the scheme is viable. Have you decided who to test it upon?"
"Jenna." Leisha said resignedly. Jenna was the child of a concubine who had died giving her birth. Jenna had been too long in the birth canal and it had affected her mind. Although her body was beautifully mature, her mind remained that of a child. "She won't be able to tell anyone how it happened if it works and everyone loves her so much that she will not be killed for it when it is discovered. Now all we need is the seed."
"We have a ready source, Lady." Torack said quietly. "Shamarra."
Eyes wide, the Sultana absorbed that. "Indeed. Jenna had her last menses a seven day ago, so we can assume she will be fertile in the next five to eight days." She turned her eyes to Reyna.
Reyna smiled impishly. "Shamarra will be well on in her training by then. It might be time to add a bit of sensual pleasure into the mix by then. I think I know just how we will do it."
"It would be best if we could do it each day during the critical period." Torack added helpfully.
Reyna nodded. "It can be done. Just tell me how best to collect the seed."
Five days after the punishment, Shamarra was doing another dancing exercise under the watchful eye of the Lady Reyna. The pair of them had been alone during that time. Reyna had noised it about that the punishment had brought on the girl's first period, so no one had come to visit the "unclean" one. Which was just as well since Shamarra had needed the time to heel from both of her ordeals.
The residual pain in her feet made her very careful where and how she placed each foot, which made her movements appear very sensuous and feminine. It definitely pleased her instructress, which was perhaps the only advantage Shamarra could find in that horrific experience. Now, whenever Reyna told her she was not moving properly, all she had to do was recall the agony of the bastinado to lighten her steps.
At least her nipples had stopped bleeding. Whatever the purpose of those metal cages were, they were bloody irritating. They pulled painfully, and made her breasts so very sensitive. The largest ring, the one that rested on her chest, was at least a hand-span in diameter. Shamarra thought there was some slight swelling inside that ring as the two smaller rings stretched her nipples out from her chest. She did *not* sleep on her tummy anymore.
She was learning to live with the crushing grip of the girdle. Reyna still strung her up by her hands every morning and tightened the device before the morning meal. It made breathing and eating very difficult, but even she had to admit the visual results were striking. She was within a few finger widths of the additional hand-span Reyna had promised to takeoff her waist. The combination the tiny waist and the slightly augmented hips were beautifully feminine. Another effect of the belt was to restrict her pelvic movements making it all but impossible for her to stride out anymore. Now, she could only move with a languid, hip-rolling gait that also pleased her sharp eyed instructress.
The training with the ivory and rubber male tools was also going well. She could now accommodate a lingam quite as large as her own in her bottom without too much pain and an even larger one in her mouth without gagging. She had balked only once, and Reyna's offer to let her watch Ali punish her mother for Shamarra's sins had quickly ended that little rebellion. The image of her gentle, innocent mother writhing as Ali whipped her feet had been too horrible to consider. So she did her very best to do as she was told and taught.
After the dance lesson would be lessons in making herself beautiful with cosmetics and dressing her hair. Then, more training on the phallus. Shamarra wished she knew what this was all leading up to, although it was clear she was to be given to a man. Beyond that, she had no idea what this was all about, and perhaps, that was just as well. She only hoped, that whatever her mission was, she would not regret accepting death when it had been offered, for that was no longer an option. Now, her mother's life weighed in the balance, too.
Still, as hard as she was working and as humiliating as the lessons often were, she had never lived so well in her life. The food, what she could eat of it, was wonderful. Her bed was so comfortable that she reveled in the simple pleasure of laying herself down upon it. That said nothing of having the very lovely Lady Reyna sleeping with her every night. More than once the proximity of the nearly nude, sweet smelling and warm woman had painfully reminded the boy girl of her male parts restricted so tightly in the chastity's metal tube. And the clothes were magnificent. In her most secret mind, she had to be honest and admit that she loved the soft, sensual garments that now adorned her body. The touch of silk and satin gliding across her skin sent shivery pulses of delight up her spine.
Were those gifts enough to balance what she had lost? Would she have been this . . . . happy, was the only word that fit. This happy if she had still been Selim? She did not know, but then, it really made no difference. She was Shamarra now, and she would do what was required of her. For her Mother's sake and for her own.
The music changed to a faster tune, and Shamarra gracefully moved into the more rapid steps of the new dance. She only winced once when her still tender feet landed too hard on the floor. Spinning sensually, she lifted her arms to offer herself and her dance to her as yet unseen master.
Off to one side of the floor, Reyna stood watching her charge. She saw something in the girl's dance that had not been here before, a new openness, and new sexuality starting to bud within her. Quietly pleased, she smiled.
The next day, Shamarra had been permitted to leave her quarters in the company of Reyna once again. On the day after that, she was taken to a room with a strange hassock as the only furnishing. Reyna made Shamarra kneel in front of the hassock and then lay her body over it. Shamarra jumped back up when her upper body's weight landed momentarily on the nipple cages. More carefully this time, she moved so that her breasts hung over on the other side of the hassock. This served to lift her up off her knees and raise her bottom up.
Reyna affixed restraints to the girl's arms and thighs, holding her fast against the legs of the divan. Pulling a key from a pocket in her own girdle, Reyna undid the lock on the back of Shamarra's girdle. The crotch piece of the chastity dropped down. Reyna then unlaced the satin sheathe, freeing Shamarra's male parts for the first time in nearly two weeks. Gently, the older woman massaged the freed penis which immediately sprang to full erection. She measured it with an experienced eye and moved off to a small chest of drawers that was hidden from Shamarra's view by a screen. She removed her clothes and donned a special girdle before moving out from behind the screen.
Shamarra's eyes went wide when she saw her mentor. Reyna was still a beautiful woman and Shamarra, for all her recent training and all her will to the contrary, was still an adolescent male with an over abundance of hormones. Reyna moved over to stand directly in front of her pupil. Once she had the child's full attention, she took her hand from behind her and slowly, deliberately installed the ivory colored phallus into the holding device in her girdle. The irony of it was not lost on either of them. Shamarra, a male who was being given the attributes of a woman, now faced Reyna who was now adorned with the primary attribute of the male.
"It is time, my little one, to begin your training in love making as a woman." She gripped her erection and fondled it sensuously. "This is no larger than you are, little one, and smaller than the ones you have been dealing with in your classes. So, let us begin. Show me how you worship your lover with your mouth and tongue. Make me want you." Her voice was husky, soft, and it was driving Shamarra mad.
Tentatively, she lifted her head to tongue at the tip of the toy, before taking more and more of it into her mouth. Reyna softly encouraged her pupil, massaging her, teasing her and praising her. She gently corrected technique when needed, but mostly let the girl have her way. A mirror, strategically placed behind the girl, let Reyna gauge her student's arousal by the length of her penis. Shamarra was becoming increasingly aroused by this play.
Deciding it was time for the next act in their play, Reyna extricated the dildo from Shamarra's mouth and moved behind her. "It is time, my love, for you to feel loved while being filled like a woman." Moving slowly, she nudged the blunt tip between the soft, rounded cheeks of the girl's buttocks.
Reflexively, Shamarra clenched against the intruder which brought a teasing slap on her ass. "Relax, little one. I am not going to hurt you. Let it happen and I will make it wonderful for you." Reyna crooned.
More aroused than she could ever remember being, Shamarra forced herself to relax and felt the head easily pop inside her. The lubricated shaft followed and slid smoothly into her depths. Slowly, Reyna thrust in and out of the young student's bottom, and was soon rewarded by groans of helpless pleasure from the girl. Soon, the girl was trying to meet her thrusts, but was held fast to the hassock.
Sensing the moment of truth, Reyna leaned over the girl and began to fondle a pierced nipple with one hand, while she took a firm grasp on the girl's erect penis with the other. The three pronged assault on Shamarra's ragged senses made her scream in need, then she went absolutely still for several long seconds.
Suddenly, she lurched into Reyna's hand as her orgasm took her. Reyna rode with it, fondling and thrusting to encourage more pleasure for the girl. Most importantly, she aimed Shamarra's penis with her hand so that the ejaculation spurted into a small porcelain bowl placed there for that purpose.
Once the crisis past, Reyna gently untied her charge, refastened the chastity and then helped her to the harem baths. Unseen by either woman, Torack slipped into the room and retrieved the porcelain bowl.
Shamarra lay awake beside the sleeping Reyna. The day had been the first really positive thing she had experienced since giving her word to the Sultana Valideh. If this was what she could expect in the future, she could live with that. Of course, whoever they were preparing her for, would have a real penis and no breasts. She'd close her eyes and think of Reyna.
And speaking of breasts, it had hurt when Reyna had played with her nipples tonight, but it was a very nice hurt. It was like her penis was connected right to her nipple. Cautiously, she brought her hands up to breasts. They were growing, justa bit, since Torack adjusted them everyday. Little bulges of flesh were developing in behind the mechanically distended nipples. Nothing like the lovely, rounded bosom of her teacher, but she was not flat any longer. And the sensitivity had not gone away. If anything, the more they stretched, the more sensitive they became.
Reyna shifted and woke. She reached across to Shamarra and rested her arm upon the girl. "Go to sleep, little one. You have much to do tomorrow."
Sighing with something akin to happiness, Shamarra snuggled up against Reyna's soft, warm body, and let sleep take her.
Four weeks later, the conspirators met again in the Sultana's apartments. "I still cannot say for sure, but Jenna has not had her monthly in over six weeks and her nurse tells me she is usually very predictable. We can be nearly positive in another two or three weeks."
"Still, it is encouraging, Torack." the Sultana said. "You have done very well. We now have at least the possibility of success." She turned to Reyna. "And how is your prodigy?"
Reyna smiled with true pleasure. "Very well, Lady. She has been working very hard and it shows. She no longer has to think first when she is doing something or when she speaks. And the gold breast ornaments that Torack devised to replace the nipple cages give her the illusion of a small bosom. I have been letting her interact with the selected young women of the harem and none of them have penetrated her disguise. As she gains confidence in her new persona, we will increase the number of women she meets. I think we can count on her to do her part."
"I am going to have Shamarra's mother look after Jenna and the child." Leisha said. "We may never be able to tell her the entire story, but I think it is seemly that she have the primary responsibility for her grandchild. What comes next?"
Torack answered. "We can do nothing about rebreeding Jenna until she shows she is not pregnant. Shamarra's body is now as feminine as we can make it. The girdle has been laced to its maximum tightness, and the breast decorations have pulled her areolas as far out as I think we safely can without tearing the nipple."
Reyna continued. "To all outward appearances, she is a lovely young girl who is somewhat small bosomed. She is graceful, accomplished and skilled with her cosmetics and appearance. Sexually, she now easily accepts normal sized phalluses, and often finds her own pleasure during those exercises. I tested her oral skills on one of the eunuchs who can still achieve an erection and she did very well."
Leisha turned to Ali. "Lady, I think it is time to bring Lady Khumar into our circle. Ultimately, she is the one who has the final task." Khumar was the first Khadin of Leisha's son.
"Failing that, we must look to your sons other khadins. That is not the best plan, for the more people involved, the more likely we will be discovered."
"True." Leisha said. "Though it is highly unlikely that my son's khadins will chance losing the rank and position of being one of the new Sultan's consorts."
"Each khadin has many servants, Lady, and servants will always talk among themselves." Ali said, quietly.
Acknowledging that, the Sultana Valideh rang for her maid servant. "Invite the Khadin Khumar to break her fast with me tomorrow morning. We will dine in the garden by the fountain." She waited for the woman to leave. "Ali, the area around the fountain is open so you will be able to keep an eye on us tomorrow. Ensure we are alone, please." Ali nodded his understanding.
Two weeks later, the band of conspirators were buoyed with confidence. Torack was now convinced that Jenna was pregnant. Khumar had been told what was planned, had promised her support and had accepted her role in the plot. Shamarra had blossomed under Reyna's sternly loving tutelage and was now everything a candidate for a Sultan's bed should be. Except truly being female. She had even become very popular with the other young women in the harem. She had passed every test and was accepted by all who met her as exactly what she appeared to be - a very lovely young woman. All was as it needed to be.
Reyna stood at the entrance to the walled garden and watched her young charge walking alone among the flowers and plants. What disturbed the Teacher of Womanly Arts was the surreptitious glances that Shamarra would occasionally make in the direction of the large tree in the corner of the garden. The tree that had first given young Selim, son of Rascheed, access to the harem. The tree in which Selim had been captured so that Shamarra could be born.
A terrible thought occurred to Reyna and she moved quickly to a place beside her distracted student. She made no comment and neither did Shamarra; they merely continued the walk about the garden. Then, Shamarra's gaze slipped up to the big tree again. Reyna's voice broke the bird-song filled silence.
"Even if you could make it up the tree, where would you go? What would you do?" She asked softly.
Shamarra's perfectly made up face turned up at the taller woman, a resigned smile stealing over her mouth. "You don't have to worry, Reyna, I won't go. I gave my word. Since you have my Mother, my honor is all I have left of Selim. I probably would not go if you did not have my Mother, but to answer your question, there is no place for me out there. Nothing for me to do out there, except die."
"Then that seems like a very poor choice, little one." She took Shamarra's arm and led her to the small table near the fountain. They sat and listened to the gurgling water in silence. "Tell me what is bothering you, little one." Reyna finally asked.
Shamarra sighed. "The unknown, Reyna, and also the known. I know that I am being prepared to be given up to a man . ." she faltered for a moment and then pressed on, "for his use. I am afraid of that."
Reyna took the small, manicured hand in hers. "The man is known to be gentle, little one." Reyna cringed inwardly at the necessary lie, but then forced herself to remain pleasant as she continued. "And he will do nothing to you that I have not done or had done to you." That at least was the truth, she thought, grimly remembering the girl's trial under Ali's cane. Tears welled up in Shamarra's eyes. "But. . . . but. ." Reyna squeezed gently on the hand she still held and raised one imperious brow in stern command. Shamarra broke. "But I love you." she whooshed out in a rush.
Reyna was momentarily taken aback, but then smiled. It was a gentle smile that Shamarra had not seen very often in the preceding months. The older woman drew the girl closer and held her close. "And I have come to love you, little one. And I promise, nothing that we are going to ask of you will be beyond what you have learned. The Sultana, Ali and I will all protect you."
"But what if I fail? What if I do something wrong? Won't you all be in danger, too? I couldn't bear it if you suffered because of something I did or did not do. That was why I was thinking of escape. It might be easier to die without having tried than to fail and still die knowing others died with you."
"You will not fail, dear. I, Reyna, have personally trained you." she said with imperious arrogance. "You cannot help but succeed."
The gambit had the effect Reyna had wanted. A watery giggle slipped from the girl. "Well, that certainly puts an end to that worry." She rested her head on Reyna's shoulder. "Still, I wish I knew more of what I am to do. It might not be so frightening, then."
"The unknown is always frightening, Shamarra. Soon, the Sultana Valideh will tell you what you must do. I already know, but am sworn to secrecy. Trust me on this - you can do it and you will succeed."
Shamarra raised her hand, still held in Reyna's own, up to her lips and kissed the older woman's hand. "It is so different, Reyna. Sometimes it is very difficult not to wish I had never seen that forsaken tree."
"Different is not always bad, little one. What was so good about being Selim that you would go back to being him now?" Her tone indicated that she could not imagine anything could be.
A sigh answered her. "I do not know, Reyna, and that is the problem. I have no idea what I would be doing or could be doing as Selim. My father used to end his daily prayers by giving thanks that he had been born a man and not a woman. It gives me cause to wonder."
"Bah!" Reyna's epithet snapped Shamarra's head up in confusion. "He prayed that way because he was ignorant or afraid or both. Use your head, girl. What did Selim have that can possibly compare with what you have? Look at your clothes, your jewelry, your living space, even the girdle and breast baubles that imprison your sex. Did Selim ever have anything so fine, so rich? Selim would likely have died on the streets at an early age. I can think of nothing that Shamarra cannot do better than that . . . ." she searched for a strong enough word. "Boy!"
Tentatively, Shamarra offered. "He could have children to carry on my father's line." Her hand went to the chastity about her waist. "I can neither father them, nor carry another man's seed."
That told the older woman everything. She thought of Jenna, but knew that was not something the child should know of, not yet. "In that, my little one, you are correct. All I can say is, you must accept this destiny you have been given, and not wish too hard for things that are now forever beyond you. Do what you must for the Sultana, and live your new life well. I promise you this. What you are going to do is important, and may save many lives. If you cannot create life, take solace in protecting life."
Reyna stood and left a confused Shamarra still sitting by the fountain. She did not think the girl would run, now, but she could not take the chance. She would go first to Ali and ensure that the watchers on the girl were more vigilant, and then she would go see the Sultana Valideh. It was time to take the next steps in their plan.
"Today, you are to serve the noon meal to the Sultana and her guest." Reyna stated as she checked the girl's finery one last time. "She wants to see for herself how well you have learned your new womanly condition and how well you have learned your lessons on decorum and behavior." The stern school mistress was back in Reyna's tones, but Shamarra only smiled. She had long learned that, with the exception of that one time with the bastinado, the older woman's bark hid a very soft heart.
"I will not shame you, Mistress." Shamarra said for the fifth time. "I will bring honor on your teaching of me."
A single tear escaped Reyna's eye, cutting a kohl-black furrow through the rouge she used to emphasize her cheekbones. Jerkily, she fastened the gossamer veil and spun the girl about to push her in the direction of Leisha's apartments. "Just go." she said with a catch in her voice. When Shamarra turned to make sure her mentor was all right, the older woman all but bellowed. "GO!"
Smiling brightly for Reyna's benefit, Shamarra went.
The smile died as she entered into the Sultana's rooms. The Lady's maid servant immediately put her to work serving the mid day meal and generally waiting on the Sultana and the very pretty younger woman who was the Lady's guest. Throughout the meal, Shamarra spoke only when necessary and did her best to remain properly unobtrusive in the performance of her tasks. Strangely, the Sultana Valideh seemed to be doing her level best to put Shamarra on display. She insisted that the winecups be filled almost after every sip the other lady took. Or that grapes be peeled for her guest. Or some other little task that forced Shamarra to be in close contact with the two women at table.
Throughout the meal, Shamarra watched the guest become more and more agitated. The longer they sat, the less interested she became in the Sultana's polite conversation and gossip. Finally, she could restrain herself no longer. "Mother Leisha," she said, exasperation chilling her tones. "You said I would meet the one you propose for my lord's pleasure today. I must meet her, so that I can determine if she will stand out too much in my lord's harem and be discovered."
Amusement lit the Lady's eyes and she delicately rinsed her hands and lips before reclining back on her divan. "Yes, I did promise you that, didn't I." A jerky nod answered her. "And so I have, Khumar-dear. This young lady," and the Sultana made a languid gesture in Shamarra's direction, "is the one that you wish to meet. She has been serving your food and drink for the past hour."
Stunned shock evident on her face, Khumar stared at Shamarra in open mouthed disbelief. Then, disbelief hardened her lovely features and she turned to Leisha accusingly. "That is *not* a boy, Mother Leisha."
A pleased laugh twinkled from Leisha. "Well, I must agree with you there, Khumar, but I assure you, she has all the male equipment beneath that lovely girdled chastity."
Still seeing disbelief written on her daughter in law's face, Leisha beckoned the girl over to her. She removed a small key from a hidden pocket and undid the lock on the back of the girdle. The front grate fell free revealing Shamarra's male parts. Youth, sudden freedom from its prison and the presence of two such beautiful women had an immediate affect on Shamarra's penis - it hardened to full erection.
Still not sure she believed the evidence of her eyes, Khumar leaned over the table for a closer look. She started to reach out and touch it, but stopped herself. "That. . . . is real?" she asked in wonder. "It really works?"
"It is definitely real and I have proof that it works. However, you may see for yourself, if you wish." The soft hands reached out, one cupping the hairless scrotum and the other gripping the erection at its root. With sensuous ease and purpose, Khumar began to tease Shamarra. Idly, Leisha watched. Khumar's erotic skills were highly regarded among the ladies of the harem, and it was obvious to the Sultana that her reputation was well earned. A helpless groan of pleasure told her that little Shamarra thought so, too.
"Do you permit her . . . release?" Khumar asked softly, not taking her eyes off Shamarra or stopping her ministrations.
Chuckling, Leisha answered. "Not normally, but she has been a particularly good girl today, so if you wish to reward her for her service, you may."
Khumar's movements changed instantly from subtle and teasing to direct and intent. Shamarra squealed girlishly as the older woman forced her to climax. Leisha was duly impressed by the thickness and quantity of the spending, but then, Reyna had not given the girl any relief in several weeks.
Khumar caught the seed in her cupped palm and then pulled the girl down to kneel beside her. She held the palm in front of the girl's face. "Lick, girl. Clean my hand." she ordered imperiously. Submissively, and without hesitation, Shamarra bent her head to the task.
Once she finished, Khumar stood and paid her addresses to Leisha. "I am convinced, Mother-Leisha. If the other part works as well as this little one does, then we may yet have a chance."
"As I told you earlier, dear, the other part has already worked. We have only to choose the correct time."
Khumar nodded. "As to that, I am very predictable. I was unclean ten days ago, so I am just now entering into my most fruitful time."
"You realize that it make take several injections each fertile time and may not take the first try?"
"I understand, Mother. As long as the device is not too large for me, it might even be. . . pleasurable." A sensual grin lit the lovely face. "Now, I must be off. Thank you for a most interesting meal." She patted the still kneeling Shamarra. "And thank you, little one. You are quite lovely."
Leisha sat quietly for several minutes after the Khumar Khadin had left. Unsure what to do, Shamarra continued to kneel where she had been left, her male parts still hanging free of the chastity. Finally, Leisha roused herself and beckoned Shamarra over to her so she could relock the chastity. "Now, go sit down over there where Khumar sat, dear." The Sultana's voice was gentle, completely unlike the last time she had spoken to Shamarra. Unsure, the girl moved slowly over to the place vacated by Khumar and sat delicately. "Go ahead and eat, Shamarra. I am sure you are hungry." Confused, she hesitated. "EAT!" Leisha snapped.
Shamarra ate. Leisha watched her as she fed herself. Even now, as off balance as she must be, and yes, as frightened as she must be, the girl remembered her manners. Reyna had done very well. It was almost time to tell the girl the whole truth, but first, one last test. "Shamarra?" she said quietly. Instantly, the girl put down the fig she had been nibbling and gave the Sultana her full attention. "Reyna will be here in a few moments. She is going to take you to meet someone. Someone who knows you, or at least, knew Selim, son of Rascheed and Mirrim. If that person does not recognize you, you will have passed all your tests. Whatever happens after this point, I promise you, will have no repercussions against your Mother. You will still be in danger, but I will do all in my power to protect you."
The light lunch she had just eaten roiled in her stomach. "Yes, Lady." she answered wondering what else she *could* say. "I will do my best."
Reyna entered at that moment and Leisha favored her friend with a smile before turning back to Shamarra. "Of that, little one, I have no doubts. Go with my blessings."
With that, Shamarra stood and followed a silent Reyna out of the room.
Reyna said nothing as she led the girl out into the oddly deserted gardens. The women of the harem usually took advantage of the cool breezes in the garden after the noon meal. Only two other women were visible in the garden. Shamarra realized that at least one of these women must be person she must fool.
Pasting a happy smile on her face, she moved to lift her veil to cover her mouth only to have Reyna stop her. "You must pass this test unmasked, love. It is the only way we can take the chance of going further." Shamarra's smile faltered a moment as fear curled in her guts, but she fought that and won. Smile back in place, she moved gracefully toward the two women.
One of the women had her back to Shamarra so she took the opportunity to examine the other woman. She was one of the loveliest women Shamarra had ever seen, which was saying a lot after almost two months living in the harem of the Great Sultan. Her body was magnificent and her hair that unusual color of gold that looks like liquid fire in the sunlight. Her eyes were almost purple.
Her eyes were also empty. The look of childlike wonder on the girl's face was real. She was a babe in a woman's body. That meant that it was the other woman she had to meet. Quietly, Shamarra sat down next to the beautiful girl-woman, and said. "Hello. My name is Shamarra."
The sound of Shamarra's voice and the happy giggle of the girl caught the other woman's attention. Smiling, she turned to see who was visiting her charge and Shamarra's insides turned to ice water.
Her Mother. Mirrim, wife of Rascheed and Mother of Selim, looked her son-made-woman directly in the eye - and saw no one she recognized. "How do you do?" she asked in a voice that Shamarra had not heard in months and had thought never to hear again. "My name is Mirrim and this dear child is Jenna."
Forcing her voice to work and to keep a feminine tone, Shamarra tried to smile. "I am Shamarra and this is my teacher, Lady Reyna. It is always a pleasure to meet such a lovely girl."
Maternal pleasure flared across Mirrim's face. "She is lovely, isn't she? Through and through. God's gift in recompense for what she lost at birth, I think. The Sultana made me her guardian because my son was killed saving her when she inadvertently escaped the garden. Brigands killed him while he was returning her to safety."
"You are very fortunate to have had such a son." Reyna spoke for the first time. She moved behind her charge, to bring Mirrim's attention back to Shamarra.
Shamarra wanted to cringe, to run and hide, but she held her position and looked straight into the Mother's eyes.
"Not to be impertinent, Lady Shamarra, but you look so familiar. Are you perhaps related to my late husband's family? They come from the eastern provinces."
Gently, Shamarra shook her head. "No, Lady. My family is here in Constantinople."
"Oh, well, an old woman's eyes are often fooled. If you will excuse us, it is time for this one to rest." And then she stood and led her protesting charge off toward the door to the harem.
Shamarra sat there watching her. "She did not know me. I love her so much that I am doing this. . . this *thing* for her safety and well being and she does not even know me." Shamarra's voice cracked for a moment before she swallowed hard to continue. "My own mother did not know me, Reyna." Tears flowed down her cheeks. There was an aura of great sadness about her and Reyna hurt for her little student.
"It is just as well, dear. Better than just as well. Now, come along. Jenna is not the only one who needs some rest, I think." And I will get Torack to give you a sleeping potion, Reyna thought. The girl had just had a painful shock, and too much thinking would be bad for her.
Shamarra was again seated in the Sultana's rooms. Reyna had let her sleep herself out after administering Torack's sleeping draught to her. Once she had awoke, Reyna had dressed her and hustled her here where all the other members of the Sultana's conspiracy were gathered. The Lady had greeted her warmly, even giving her a hug before personally seating her at the table. "I trust you are well rested, dear?" she asked solicitously. When Shamarra could only nod, Leisha smiled. "You did very well yesterday, you know. And I will keep my word to you."
"Thank you, Lady." was all she could say in reply.
"Ali, we will begin tonight. Please see to any final preparations you and Torack require. Reyna and I will see to Shamarra." The two brothers bowed and quietly left the room. Reyna followed them to the door and then closed and secured it. She then came and sat down beside Shamarra, taking her hand in hers. Leisha saw the girl clutch at the offered support and wished again that it was not necessary.
Sighing, she chided herself for procrastination and began to speak. "Shamarra, it is time for you to know what this is all about. As you may know, my son is the heir apparent to my lord husband, the Great Sultan. Unfortunately, although my son has had his own khadins and any concubine he might wish for more than ten years, he has yet to father a child, let alone an heir. My husband is concerned for the Empire and afraid that my son is incapable of fathering his own heir. Thus, a few months ago, he said that if my son does not get one of his women with child in a year, he would be disinherited in favor of another of his sons."
The anger flared again in Leisha's heart and her voice trembled. She took a sip from her cup before continuing. "This other son is a weakling who will lead the Empire into disasters, and bring great suffering on the people. So my son must father a child."
Shamarra nodded her understanding, and Leisha continued. "Unfortunately, my son will never father a child on a woman because my son has no interest in women. He can only take pleasure with young boys. That, my dear, is where you come in. You will go to my son as a woman, and love him as a boy. When you don't look like a woman, you look years younger than your age, so we hope you will please my son. Each night, you will milk him of his seed and give it to Torack who will use it to impregnate Khumar."
"As a boy, Lady?" Shamarra asked, not sure she understood. After all this training, she was to be a boy for the next Sultan?
A sad smile formed on the Sultana Valideh's face. "My son has agreed to be milked of his seed each night before the actual love making, provided you please him and provided he can have you the remainder of each night. That is why you have been trained so extensively in the amorous arts, my dear."
"How will I do the milking? I am not even sure what that entails."
"Torack will collect his seed, little one. You have only to use those lovely hands and lips to make my son spurt it into Torack's bowl. Then you will make love as my son desires as long as he desires."
Reyna broke in at this point. "Shamarra, remember your second day behind the veil of the purdah? When Ali beat your feet?" Shamarra cringed and nodded. "The Sultana's son is very fond of the bastinado as a punishment for those who cross him. We did that to you so you would know what faced you if" and her mind added the word "when" in unvoiced disgust, "You fail to please. You have all the skills you need, love, but you must not let down until he sends you back to the harem."
Fear pulled at her tears, but Shamarra tried to be brave. "I will do my best, Reyna. I promise that, but it is very frightening.
"Fear is not all bad, little one. It will help spur you to put forth your best efforts." the Sultana offered. "Now come, Reyna and I will see to your toilette. You will be presented to my son after the evening meal."
The two women outfitted the girl in a sumptuous outfit of silken veils and jewels. A turban of green satin set off hair made into a mass of red hennaed fire. Kohl and rouge colored her face and made her exotic beyond Shamarra's wildest imaginings. Then, they escorted her to the limits of the harem complex where they were met by Ali and Torack.
"Before you go, little one." Leisha said, turning the girl around. A gold chain appeared in her hand that she put around Shamarra's neck. Dangling from the chain was a single, small gold key. "My son will want to be able to taste all of your secrets, child." She bent down to kiss Shamarra's cheek and then released her to a teary-eyed Reyna who repeated the kiss. "Go in joy, little one. Reyna and I will be here for you in the morning."
Ali put a hand on her arm and gently led the girl away to meet the Sultan's son and her destiny.
It was a warm evening three months later when the Great Sultan's former favorite concubine sat by the garden fountain. Shamarra was again considering the large tree in the back corner of the garden, thinking how far she had come from the boy who had climbed that tree at dawn.
Her relationship with the Sultana's son had been a short affair. The Heir's interest flagged after a few weeks and she was called to his rooms less and less.
In all honesty, Shamarra had to admit that she missed her relationship with the Prince. The love play had been exciting, and he had always insisted on unlocking the gate to her "treasures" as he called them and reciprocating every touch and caress once the milking had been completed. That had been wonderful and she felt the loss of those experiences keenly.
She had, as Reyna warned, been subjected to the bastinado three times in her month or so as the Prince's favorite. At first, she had wondered what she had done wrong. Later, she knew that it was nothing she had done or failed to do that had resulted in her being subjected to the tortuous treatment. The Prince had found some type of pleasure watching her be hurt that way, for after each time, he had been ravenous for her, taking her often and fiercely before his lust was assuaged.
Fortunately, whatever Torack did with the seed that Shamarra had so carefully harvested from the Prince had worked. Khadin Khumar was now almost three months pregnant. That was another reason Shamarra was happy to be back with the Sultana and Reyna. Once Khumar's position as First Khadin had been assured by her pregnancy and by her husband's ascendancy, she had become even more dictatorial and imperious than she had been earlier. And Shamarra, as her husband's favorite and as one unable to defend herself, had not been anything to do anything but accept the venom the vile woman had heaped upon her head. If that was what his women were all like, Shamarra could understand why the Prince might prefer other companionship.
Events had taken a very strange turn soon after Khumar's joyous event had been announced at court before the Sultan. The Great Sultan had died, suddenly and suspiciously. shortly after confirming his son's birthright to the Sultancy. Apparently, his second Khadin, the mother of the prince who would have been Sultan instead of Leisha's son, had poisoned her lord in retaliation. Investigations conducted by the Keisler Agha on behalf of the Grand Vizier had also implicated the killer's son in the conspiracy. The pair of them were subsequently executed with all honors, ceremonies and considerations due their rank. They were, however, still dead, and both had died cursing Leisha and protesting their innocence.
Thus it had come to pass that Leisha's son ascended to the throne as Great Sultan and no longer needed to hide his lusts by using a boy who looked like a woman. Shamarra had been formally returned to the Sultana's keeping last week.
All of which made Shamarra question her own future. One of the reasons Leisha had asked for her to be returned to her was that Shamarra could not be dealt with in the traditional methods. Normally, a displaced favorite was removed from the harem by marrying her off to someone who had rendered a service to the Sultan, or from whom the Sultan might wish a boon. Such men normally expected children from their wives, which for all her feminine wiles and accomplishments, were something that Shamarra could never give a man. Couple that with Khumar's relentless campaign to have the girl removed from her lord's presence once and for all, and the Sultana had begun to fear for the girl's life. In addition to her reputation in the erotic arts, Khumar was also known and feared in the harem for her skills with exotic poisons.
So, Shamarra was back where it had all begun - in the garden where the few remaining women from the old Sultan's harem, those who had not been married off or given away as concubines, played and relaxed. The tree beckoned to her. Beyond the wall its branches shaded was freedom, perhaps even an opportunity to be male again. The girdle and breast ornaments could be cut off her and melted down for their gold. She had her jewelry, too, special pieces given her by the Prince when she had been particularly pleasing (most notably after each bout with the bastinado cane). Unfortunately, there was also death outside those walls. Shamarra knew too much, and suspected far more. Neither the Great Sultan, nor even the Sultana for that matter, could not let Shamarra or Selim be free of their control. Either identity free and unmonitored would simply pose too great a threat to her son's rule.
Besides, Shamarra admitted to herself. She was a much better girl than she had ever been a boy. Selim had been small, and weak; a failure who had nearly cost his mother her life. Shamarra was wealthy, powerful and had saved her mother's life while saving her own.
In truth, her life would be almost perfect except for that one lacking piece. She had become a sexless being since being set aside by the Sultan. She still wore the locked chastity because the Sultana would not take the chance of her real gender being revealed. Reyna no longer trained her with her toys, and doing it to herself was lonely, often painful and not satisfying.
"And what do you suppose, Reyna, is so engaging to our young houri, that she does not notice the approach of her friends?" Shamarra turned with a start to see the Sultana Valideh and the Lady Reyna standing behind her. Wicked grins lit their still beautiful faces as they looked down at their young charge.
"I suspect, Leisha, she dreams of impossible things beyond the
walls of the harem." was the soft, chiding response, but the love
in Reyna's eyes gentled the sting of her comment.
The two women sat down on either side of Shamarra, each taking one hand with both of theirs. "We have made some decisions about you, Shamarra." Leisha began. "We are going to send your Mother and Jenna to a special castle in the country. The baby will be born there, and I want you to go with them. Jenna will be a playmate for the child, but she can never be a mother. I want you to be the child's mother. Reyna will join you." Leisha gave her friend a smirking glance that made Reyna blush, "to keep you company and provide . . .companionship."
Reyna picked up the thread. "You have to remain a woman, love. As a former favorite of the Great Sultan, you are too well known at court. Therefore, we cannot let Shamarra just disappear so Selim can live again. There will be spies there, regardless of how carefully we select your staff and guards. You can never give them cause to question you, but I promise that you will be safe there, and happy too. I promise you that we will have a good and loving life together. Later, if you want, we can tell your Mother the truth about Selim and Shamarra, but none of us can ever leave that place, my love. We all know too much and the Sultan knows we do."
Happiness bubbled in Shamarra as she turned to hug Reyna, but then she thought of something. Turning suddenly grave eyes to Leisha, she asked. "But, Lady, what of you? Will you join us?"
Understanding warmed Leisha's eyes. The girl was quick. It really was too bad she was not truly female for she would make a far better Sultana Valideh than Khumar, but that was impossible. No matter how good the girl's deceptions were, someone would find out and all they had worked for would be lost. "No, my love. I must stay to help guide my son, as long as he will let me. Do not worry, little one. Ali will protect me for the few years I still have." She brushed a kiss on Shamarra's cheek. "Now go and prepare. You leave in the morning."
She and Reyna smiled indulgently as they watched the joyful girl hurry off. "She knows, Reyna, or at least, she suspects."
"What? That you poisoned the Great Sultan and set up Cera and her son to take the blame? Of course she suspects. She is very intelligent and we have taught her to observe everything real women do as part of her training. However, she is completely loyal to you for saving her and her Mother. She would never betray you."
"Not willingly, but torture loosens many tongues. You will both be safe in that fortress. Once you are protected there, I can finish my work and prepare for my own passing. I will bequeath Ali to you in my final will and testament."
"You could try to go with us."
"No, my son will not let me leave, and even if I did manage to escape, my presence would be a danger to you and Shamarra. I almost regret putting him on the throne. And I definitely regret what we did to that boy to win the throne for my son. When I think of what I took from him." She sighed.
"Far less than you gave back to *her*, Leisha. Shamarra is happy, and I will see to it that she is even happier. I will take care of her until we can find her a nice, discreet concubine of her very own. Some lovely, strong woman who will understand and cherish both the male and female aspects of our little houri; one who will lovingly deal with both her natures according her needs and desires." She touched the gold key hanging from a gold chain about her neck. "Someone we can entrust to protect and to use this little necklace charm ." A sly grin lit Reyna's mobile features. "I see many more babies in this family's future. I think Shamarra will be an excellent mother, don't you?"