A brief glimpse at the setting of the story. It is thousands of years in the future. The Neo Silver Millennium still stands but not in the same way as it was originally conceived. Neo Queen Serenity, King Endymion and the Senshi have fallen into myth and legend. As all civilizations are a fluid and ever evolving thing. Crystal Tokyo has been transformed into a Galactic Kingdom not unlike the Silver Millennium of old but still very changed by time.
Author's Note: Inspired by Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey.
If you haven't read her work, I highly recommend you give it a chance. I found her books very compelling and a very romanticly erotic read. Her prose is truly beautiful. I wish to emulate her in this fic as much as possible.
I should like to clarify myself, first off. I am not of royal blood and I shall never profess to be. But believed to be conceived on the wrong side of a marital bed, through an act of rash, yet passionate infidelity. By lusty peasants I suspect. Abandoned upon the ten thousandth step that led to Selene's Great Mountain Temple. Protected from the elements by nothing but a ratty bamboo woven basket, my infant body wrapped loosely in a tattered scrap of grey linen. Luckily found by a wayward monk, late in returning from his duties amid the forests paths. A full harvest moon illuminated my pathetic shelter upon the edge of the steps, stuffed haphazardly between poplar and pine. My flimsy basket and even thinner cover made me a rather piteous sight to behold. I would like to believe that even at such a tender age I carried myself with pose and dignity. But in truth such things have always been elusive to me. In all honesty, I believe my wails shattered the night and drew his welcomed attention.
He sought pity upon me and thankfully so, because if left to fate I may have been a midnight snack for any wild hunter that late summer night.
The monk petitioned that I was blessed by the Moon Goddess herself, a gift offered to the temple. That by sheltering me and raising me in the ways of Selene that the temple would prosper. This adamant profession of divine blessing easily won over his Master's good will. For his words were both honest and undeniable. The moonlight had been so bright that night, the beams striking the trees like a beacon. It seemed as if the moon itself, was seeking to aid me. I can't say if I know that to be true, but I thank Selene none the less.
I then spent my formative years at the foot of Selene's sacred shrine, reared by the monks and disciples at the Moon Temple. Times are no longer so ancient that the monasteries are only filled with men, many women grace these hallowed halls, of this mountain sanctuary as well. So I had many female influences, to admire and look up too. I was by no means a confused and hapless tomboy, who knew not of her gender and the power it might one day hold. Though I can not profess I was overly feminine either, or squeamish of dirt or adventure. I was as wild and free as any child and to my own folly, caused the poor monks much hassle and worry.
It is hard for me to resent my parents, whom ever they may be. They had their own issues to deal with and adding the burden of an unwanted child to the mix. I feel was an unbearable curse to them. I am thankful for the temple they choose to dump me upon, for there are far worse deities to be bonded to then that of the Moon Goddess.
As a new born babe I was a blank slate, still so full of possibilities and potential. The dark down that graced my head upon birth soon shed, to regrow into wisps of silvery-blonde. My eyes barely open, thankfully retained that clear, innocent newborn blue. Becoming something truly angelic in their wide, sweet nature. My skin the glorious pale ivory of moonlight, as silky smooth and unflawed as it was on my birth. My features soft, with a charming curve to my cheeks and a delicate point to my chin. My hair lengthened and spun into a fusion of curls and spirals upon the very tips. My bangs hang low upon my graceful forehead in an unassuming allure, forming a heart shape divide upon the peek of each slender eye brow. My body grew to be supple and rather delicate, with long slender limbs that made me look far more coltish then girl.
Still the High Priest and greatest disciple to Selene professed that I was truly kissed by the Moonlight Goddess. For I was blessed with her majestic beauty and timeless grace, thus they named me after her beloved daughter.
I had yet to understand the complex ways of the world I was born into, my early childhood I remember was bright and colourful. Full of glorious summer days in the fields of wild flower's that bloomed beyond the temple grounds. Following in the tireless footsteps of the older disciples as they went about their duties for the day. Following them to the rivers and along the well worn paths of the mountain. Bathing in the streams and dancing amid the glens chasing the delicate clouds of butterflies. Being pawned off from one monk to another as my need to play and endless curiosity was always trying their patience and delaying their work. I tended to get myself into one mess after another. I remember that the monks cared for me, nurtured my curiosity and reared me as well as they could. But I was naive and truly ignorant to the true and perhaps desperate nature for survival even among the holiest of men. Be it for political gain or greater religious standing in the Crystal Kingdom or perhaps for grants and privileges within the Heavenly Royalty itself. I was unprepared for the cruel turn my life would take upon my fifth year.
I had been cherished and felt well loved, treated as a treasure within the walls of the Moon's Great Temple and as a treasure of said Temple. I was sold for an ample sum into the indenture to the House of Eros. Taken from the only home I had known, whisked away in the dead of night by the High Priest himself, whom had given me my very name. To the great, majestic city state of Solarus, in which it is said all the planets themselves revolve and both the Golden and Silver Crystals of old reside within the Immortal Heart of the Central Pillar of Prayer in the walls of the mighty Imperial Palace. In which the Celestial King of Twilight reigns.
To this day I do not know if my flight to the city and indenture was sanctioned by the rest of the Temple or if the High Priest himself had taken my fate upon himself for personal gain.
Either way, upon the dawn after a long and arduous journey. I was presented before the Dominus of Eros, a formidable yet not quite reputable house within the Venus Guild. Its reputation tarnished within the Crystal Court, due to it's less then trustworthy clientele. Yet it is said the Dominus still has the privilege of the King's ear. Which would lead me to the greatest cross roads of my life...but alas that is still a far place in the future of my story. So I digress.
I had thought the High Priest of Selene was a ripe old man, but the Dominus was down right ancient. His deeply wrinkled visage, with thin near translucent skin that seemed as fragile as parchment. What hair that remained upon his weathered and spotted scalp was feathery white and drab. His crone like head, sat upon a withered and bent frame. Swathed in rich dark lavender and black robes, that hung like death shrouds from boney limbs. Spindly finger's grasped the oak arms of his ebony satin throne, looking as brittle and frail as the naked branches of an elm tree in winter.
The only aspect of vitality to remain within his tired and worn out body, was his sharp grey-blue eyes. Wizened and as strong as steel, his stare piercing my very soul from the entryway to which I stood.
Transfixed and petrified, as the old Priest strode humbly into the deeply shadowed audience chamber presenting me like some other worldly prize. While I stood upon the flagstones of the outer courtyard, within the warmth of the dawn sun that was currently soothing my small anxious body. Terrorfied of the cool shadows that lurked within the Grande Chamber before me. All the heavy, blood red velvet drapes were drawn upon the long windows, casting the huge room in a creepy, half light. It resembled more of a crypt then a wealthy foyer to this elaborate manor of moss and stone. A could not suppress the cold shiver that ran up my spine. Dressed only in a simple monks make shift robe of white cotton, twisting my hands within the folds of the draping hem.
He spoke with a trembling voice, filled with fear or perhaps sadness at what he was about to do. Reciting the bargain he had been promised for my life. From a visiting member of this very House, to which I had caught the eye of while he was visiting our temple. Praising the Blessings of Selene for my angelic beauty, delicate bone structure and unmatched grace. Promoting how I might upon my maturity bring great prosperity upon Eros House, raising its flagging reputation from the gutter and back into a state of glory.
The Dominus raised a hand, his thin finger's gleaming in the demi light with many rings. Silencing the now prattling priest.
"Bring the child to me." He motioned smoothly, his voice still quite strong and assured. Startling to be heard from such a weak and frail looking body.
The priest quickly pranced back to my side and pushed me into the room, with a dominating hand upon the small of my back. Forcing me to stumble upon the dais before the Dominus's throne. I fell forward upon my knees, my small hands braced up the dais just before his makeshift throne. The Dominus gripped my chin in a vice like grip with his finger's, drawing my face upward taking a quick measure of my potential. I had to force myself to stare unflinching up at his death mask of a face, while my breath became shallow and my heart beat against my small breast like a frightened animal.
His was unreadable, not a single emotion crossed his features. Then his bold eyes flicked back to the priest, as shrewd and stern as some merchant king.
He slowly withdrew his hand and folded them primely over his stomach. Sitting in a relaxed pose, leisurely taking in the Priest eager expression. Thus my fate was sealed and a bargain struck for my life.
"She is quite a darling, little thing, tis true. If raised to be a lady of the court, groomed and properly educated. Her virginity will fetch a very esteemed price." He returned his hawk like stare back to the high priest. His expression was severe and abiding. "I shall take this unwanted child from you for the previous struck bond price."
I could feel the priest behind him tremble with excitement. What ever deal the wandering merchant of Eros had offered, it was a grand enough sum to make the old man nearly faint.
"These are my terms." the ancient Dominus croaked, his voice remorseless. "You will tell no one of our dealings, as of now this child is dead. As for the worlds concern, she was left upon the doorstep of our house. Hence forth she will belong to us, she will forsake Selene and serve Aphrodite and all her precepts and in doing so provide Eros house with honour and prosperity."
At that I heard the priest indrawn breath. I watched as the old man's eyes narrowed in satisfaction. The priest did not take into account that by selling me to a rival Goddess's House. That he would loose a respective disciple as well. When the census came due at the end of this year, his own temple would have to declare one less worshiper. In doing so it would lessen the amount of royal tithing the temple would receive from the Crystal Court. In turn his payment for me would have to be rationed with the temple as he could no longer use my name in the coming census.
The Dominus may have been an ancient figure by all respects, but he still was formidable. "Be thankful, that I am so gracious to take this burden from you." He snapped his fingers and that was it. Two armed guards appeared and escorted the now flabbergasted priest from the foyer.
A burden...my childlike self thought. An unwanted child...
As I watched the priest shuffle off through the front door. I knew he had sold me to this cruel old man. It sent a trill of pure terror up my small spine.
"My house servants shall raise you until the age of ten. Then you will apprentice under Courtesans from this house. Any abilities or talents we will foster. Your bond-price in the future will command respect. I expect great things from you my dear, Serenity."
I was motionless, frozen in both fear and immense trepidation at what my future would hold in this foreign world, in which all the flowers were contained and tended in their small garden enclosures. My world was no longer free, trapped in this huge city. Surrounded by walls and expectations, I felt like a piece of my soul was dieing.
This was the very beginning of my tale, were I learned my craft as a courtesan of the Crystal Court. In which my course was set towards a very unlikely but very welcomed destiny.
I came to understand many things over the course of my time in Eros House. That we do not always get to choose our fate, that so many small things that seem so meaningless in the beginning, could become our salvation in the end. That a lot can be said for silent resilience and a tempered resolve to never stray from ones true path. I remember my very first lessons within the somber halls of the Dominus's sprawling manor, as cruel. This was the place in which I first discovered pain and heartbreak. My family had sold me, discarded me for a burden upon the doorsteps of a stranger's house. At first I floundered to find my place amid the halls of Eros House. But life for me quickly settled into a awkward, but steady rhythm. My days were unending and ceaseless, filled with hours of chores and basic education. There were four other children indentured here, all sold and abandoned in their own way. In that we shared a common bond but little else. I shared a room with two other girls. One was soft spoken and gentle, with manners as delicate and pure as crystal. Ami, had hair of the palest blue, born in the same year as I. With sweet features and keen dark blue eyes the spoke of a limitless intelligence that lay hidden there. It was widely praised that Mercury House would buy her bond when she came of age. With her reserved personality and solemn air. She well suited to the role as a Royal Scholar's mistress.
The other girl was bold, and rather loud and abrasive. With a self possessed sense of superiority that grated harshly against even my more pragmatic nature. Raye was well suited for Mars House in that there was no mistake. For she had the fiery spirit of a warrior. With hair as deep and dark at the midnight sky and soulful violet eyes that penetrated straight to the heart of a person. She was not frail like Ami, but robust. Her muscle tone was lean and full of potential, she could easily become a warrior priests companion. With skin as pale and pristine as alabaster. Her long lashes breaking upon her cheeks like majestic waves. She was an exquisite beauty, that caught the eye and held firm.
I had little to nothing in common with either of them. I could not compete with Ami's intelligence or Rayes natural charm. So gave up early on, minding myself and seeking to merely fade into the scenery of Eros House.
The last child was a boy, who was relegated to his own private chamber just down from ours. I was rather jealous of him at first, but as time wore on I became aware of his loneliness. I might not always get along with my roommates, but at least in the darkness before bed I had companions to soothe my childish fears.
He was a year or two younger then us, fair in both complexion and demeanour. He was frail looking, with a quiet unassuming way about him. Yaten, was found hiding in the Dominus's orchard at the tender age of two. To small and to naive to find his way back out of the winding courtyards before he was found out, he remained under the care of Eros House ever since. The Dominus had kept him only for he was a rare beauty. With silver blond hair, that hung low around his shoulder's like a cherubs, curling just so. To give him that cute, pretty quality that only girls tend to possess. He had a merry laugh and a sweet voice when he sang, reminiscent of heavens grace. He would bring much praise and acclaim to Eros House upon his maturity.
Each of them had known qualities that set them apart from me, their worth already determined, their futures assured.
I was not bitter or spiteful that my own worth had yet to be seen. As the years passed, in mild if expected ways. Spent in the company of those three, working and learning together to become useful members of this House. The older, bonded servants under the Dominus's rule were kind if not patient with us. As his property, he could do with them as he wished. He wasn't an unreasonable master, but was prone to acts of passion both cruel and vindictive if his dictates were not taken seriously. We were seen as profit and needed to be cared for properly. No scar's or blemishes were to anoint our skin, our minds were to be pruned of all unwanted flaws. So that upon our tenth year we could begin our apprenticeship unburdened by past hardship. Their were great expectation upon us, our maturity was to bring honour and wealth upon Eros House.
The trained courtesans of Eros House, begun teaching us the very foundations of our education. We learned poetry, song, and playing an instrument. How to speak properly and with eloquence so that we did not embarrass our Royal Master when in public. How to pour wine and serve meals with grace and precision. To sit silently at banquets as pretty adornments to Royalty, with a demure unassuming air. Eyes always cast downwards in respect, I was to understand my lowly station and not seek any sort of attention while in public. We were taught how to prepare a bedchamber in accordance to a courtesans true purpose.
I had long accepted who I was, an unwanted child. This truth wasn't harsh for me, for I knew that Selene still blessed me nonetheless. In those brief years of my tender youth the monks had bestowed faith upon my young soul. That I still carried quietly within my heart. They had instructed me in the teachings of purity, compassion and graceful strengths of the Moon Goddess. They had spun great tales of her courage and unparallelled compassion for others. How she had protected this planet with her very own life time and again. Ruling from the heavens as a silent witness to humanities birth. Guiding us like a reverent mother along the proper path to find peace and enlightenment.
How for thousands of years she had tended to humanity, pruning and nurturing their development until they had become a strong and resilient planet. Finally able to take responsibility for their own future. How she was in awe at how beautiful and powerful a creation they were. Full of dreams and aspirations to ascend beyond their mortal limits and join her amid the stars. She so loved this planet, that when a insidious darkness infected the humans. She gave her own life to save them, using the last of her life force to seal the darkness away and casting her own daughter from the heavens to guard and protect this earth in the future as a fellow human being.
I had listened with a child's rapt fascination at every tale the monks wove of her daughter Serenity. How she had shed tears, blood and sacrificed herself for us time and again. Until she had vanquished all aspects of that darkness and secured our planet under her light for all eternity. But even to this day, her light was still abhorred by some. How the planets in the farthest reaches of this universe still do not feel her light. That they do not view her as the messiah, how she is scorned and her divine image is defiled in the name of politics.
Even though I was now being forced to learn and worship another deity...that of love and devotion. Serenity's very own cherished Guardian...Venus. I would never forsake my faith in Selene. I was and forever will be a child of the Moon Goddess.
Ten years later...
As was my routine, I wandered the outer grounds of Eros House after my lessons. Soaking up the suns warmth and the peaceful surroundings of what nature remained within the courtyards. It was early spring and the warm breeze was filled with the scents of freshly blooming flowers. The air carried the delicate petals of sakura blossoms, scattering them like pink snowflakes upon the cobble stone around my slippered feet. I wore the sleeveless yellow robes of our Goddess Venus, my slender arms laid mostly bare with only a flowing shawl draped over my shoulder's. The cut of the apprentice robes was more modest then that of the Courtesans. But it was still rather scantily sewn, with a low neckline of delicate cloth. Swathed over the breasts and hanging just below the hips in waves of nearly transparent waves of material. Cinched of the waist with a golden, weaved sash it left little to the imagination.
I had woven a small crown of flower's, gathered along my journey and placed them upon my head. My silvery-blonde hair was now tamed somewhat by the still strong stems, the delicate pedals of various tones an colors accenting my incredibly long hair. That swung well past my butt now that I was nearly into my fifteenth year. I never fore saw this small act of adornment as bringing any attention upon myself. It was merely an act of self satisfaction if perhaps a hint of defiance at my long held captivity behind these sterile grey walls. Not mater how many years had passed I still craved the wide open fields of my youth and the untold freedom they held.
Two courtesans passed me, as I crossed under a lush canopy of a cedar tree. They strode with a level of pride and dignity had yet to master. Dressed in the deep, rich red cloth of newly appointed easily see threw material was wrapped and folded over their mature bodies, barely covering anything. Gold bands adorned their wrist and tiny bells were tied around their ankles. Which rang in a charming rhythm as they moved. Their long hair was washed and brushed until it shone. The scent of lavender and vanilla oil was rubbed into strategic places upon their bodies to invite lust and intice their perspective patrons donation to the Venus Guild. They were both heading towards the Receiving Room were new courtesans were summoned for their first viewing and their virginity would be bid upon by wealthy patrons. Their was a refined urgency in their step, a subtle tension to the rigidity of their backs. They seemed as nervous, yet scared about what was about to happen, as they were excited by it. I had served several times over the years at the introduction ceremonies. Which were highly dignified and refined affairs, even though they were centered upon the purchase of virginal flesh. The balls in which new courtesans vied for patron's favours occurred during the late evening hours. It was far to early for these two to be headed towards the antechamber? It took only a second for me to realize that these two had already been purchased and requested for a private audience with their patron...or patrons? The outcome was purely up to wealth and power.
On this day, all was quiet and I found myself sitting in the central courtyard upon the hot stone of the great fountain. An elegantly carved edifice of the Goddess herself, one arm cast over her head, her head thrown back, staring upwards towards the heavens. Her face set in that expression of awe and rapture as the grace of her power seeded itself within her soul for the first time. Her long hair was tied back with a simple ribbon, dressed in ancient clothing that once had meaning in that era. The statue and elaborate pool dominated the main courtyard before the entrance hall of Eros house.
Meditating upon my own fate in a years time when I would be one of those scared and perhaps excited girls. Expected to lay with a patron and please him in all the ways he demanded. At the prospect my spirit was anything but tranquil, a dreadful fear gripped me. Instead of excitement at the thought of offering myself to a stranger. In accordance to the precepts of purity, love and devotion taught to me as a disciple of Venus. I found myself gripped by fear, for I was flawed. I had no great gifts for a well paid courtesan. I had a slow wit, charming words and turns of phrase were not my strong suit. Neither could I recite poetry with any sort of confidence. I was as tone deaf as I was clumsy. I was not adept at hiding my feelings, nor modest about my opinions. I was neither shrewd, nor overly intelligent. My attempts at dignified came off stiff and forced. I was not ardent over anything, prone to flights of whimsy and ill planned dreaming. That usually left me enduring many hours of discipline. What house would bond me? I wondered idly that day, if the Dominius would just cast me out to the street if no other house offered payment for my virginity when the time came?
I did not know then, nor did I see the King himself standing in the shadows of the gardens northern stone archway. Dressed in his regal finery of a dark suit of state, his breast covered with military adornments of silver and golden pins. A golden hilted long sword strapped against one hip and his twilight cape fluttering in the wind. His stormy blue grey eyes staring at me, with a look of wonder. His adonis face was perfectly chiseled, as if carved from stone. With wild, untamed dark hair that hung low over his eyebrows and dusted the collar of his white dress shirt.
"Send for the Dominius." He ordered, "Tell him I have a bond price for that young woman." he pointed towards the fountain. A tall, silver haired guardsmen that had been hovering over his shoulder merely nodded then took his leave.