Jaspernon The Prince : The Rise of the Cult of the Goddess: Ch.2: Part 1 (Section 1)
Jaspernon The Prince : The Rise of the Cult of the Goddess
These events took place around one thousand years before the stories of the ‘Life and Times of a Priestess’, which describes the Life and Times of the Priestess Danella, during the Times when the Empire of the Goddess was partly conquered and came under the most threat from the nations of the continent of Vanmar. The Rise of the Cult of the Goddess describes the events just before the founding of the Empire of the Goddess, when Jaspernon who became King, and then Emperor, was just a Prince.
Chapter 2 : The Tower
Jaspernon lifted the key. He knew it to be the means of entry into his father, the King’s private tower, and he was curious as to what lay within. Many times in his youth he had wondered what lay within, and why sometimes his father would lock himself away up here, away from all the fuss and attention of court, telling no one where he had gone, and allowing no one, as far as Jaspernon knew, where he had gone. For a long time he had harboured a desire to unlock this door to a private world, of what he could not imagine. He had looked on occasion for a key that would fit these locks. Many times he had subverted servants into ‘lending’ him their keys to all sorts of boxes, chests, storerooms, private rooms and cabinets within the Palace, and tried them all on this lock, hoping with each one that it would be sufficient to bring him inside these walls. Unlike other rough hewn and heavy keys the servants often lent him, this one was delicate and fine, a golden brass instrument, narrow and complex, strangely light. He had suspected immediately when he laid his hands on it that this key was different, important.
Jaspernon continued to search the locked room of the tower with Alixerand, his courtier and friend, while High Priestess Patience waited patiently to see the outcome of this new discovery. She had been invited along on this expedition by the insistence of the Prince, who had become a friend and confidant to her in this strange court of strong and very individual characters. All the people here were friendly when she came to know them, even the King’s Concubine, the exotic Riala, who should have been her rival, but despite her testing nature held out the hands of friendship and understanding.
They found other strange objects; a mystical glass ball …… There were paintings hanging on the walls, and stood on the floor, resting against boxes. The first which caught Jaspernon’s eye was an exotic scene from times long ago. Certainly he had seen little like these before. There were women who seemed to be concubines, waiting in forest glades and grassy parks for their master, a lord or king, to come amongst them. The women were beautiful and largely naked. Their tender breasts pointed and drew the observer to them, so real and yet so perfect did they seem to be. They were in various states of undress. Some wore no garment at all, but most were in a position of disrobing, gowns over the shoulder, but revealing the breasts in all their glory. The lord was a man well dressed in ancient clothes which were not completely different to those of present times. He approached in the foreground through trees.
“Come and look at this Patience,” Jaspernon demanded. She drew close and looked over them enough to know they were unclean images of human bodies engaged in the acts which the Priestesses of her order were forbidden to engage in.
At last Jaspernon found a heavy wooden trunk behind an old worn shroud. It proved to be full of old clothes, of many colours, some discoloured and faded with age. They were antique, but despite the musty smell of being stored away for so long the Prince seemed enthralled by them. These were ancient clothes of royalty, probably his ancestors. Sensing the prince’s eagerness to discover Alixerand suggested, “Let’s try them on! There’s a mirror over there.”
“Yes. What an idea! Patience come here. Why don’t you try some of these women’s clothes on. You’ll look lovely.” He exhorted her in enthusiastic tones, which taunted her playfully. She was at once regarded as a child by the young prince, but also as an object of admiration. She had the impression that the young Prince really did wish to see her in these clothes.
Of course she held back. It did not fit her station to become a child again. There was too much good to do in the world for that. “No, I cannot. I think perhaps I should go about my duties if you are to try these on.”
“No, I forbid it,” he snapped playfully, but forcefully. “We need an audience, to determine which suits and which does not. We need you Patience. A woman’s judgement is always superior in clothing.” She could not go now. After all he was the Prince, the son of the benefactor of her priesthood, and when his father died the future of the Priesthood in this land would depend on his support. She could not anger him, and did not wish to. Despite his playful nature, which she found herself liking more as she learned to trust, he was a warm hearted young man. He may tease, but she felt sure he meant no harm. Always it was done with good humour, and she sensed that he knew and liked her.
Although all the males she knew treated her with great respect, for her position as High Priestess, in the Priesthood and amongst Cult members, she found their deference kept a distance around her. She was in an elevated position and had power and authority over them. There were some other High Priests and even Priests who did in their own ways try to become close to her. She was well aware they appreciated her beauty as well as her character, but she had not wished to offend the principles of her Cult by encouraging their friendship and desire for a closer relationship. By allowing too close a connection, or even physical companionship, or comfort of any sort she would be tempting them, and herself, from their path of dedication to the Goddess and to the people they served. Jaspernon however was in no way subservient or deferent towards her, which she was able to find quite refreshing. Being the Prince he was comfortable in his position of relative freedom to do or to think or to say what he wished, but she also sensed strong intelligence and a caring nature towards people, including herself, which she counted as being a quality similar to her own nature, of loving all, which came from the Goddess. She sensed somehow that the Goddess was at work in him, as she felt sure it was within her.
The courtiers of King Croesian’s court and the courtesans were continually trying to question her values and her position, and the court seemed to be a hotbed of scandal and promiscuity, but in other respects the people of the court were largely friendly and well meaning, and she detected much interest among them for her crusade of improving the well being of the poor and uplifting the whole society. She had determined to stay at court for the present because she felt the sponsorship of the King and his court was helping her cult to achieve its goals.
Jaspernon began to strip his tunic off, unfastening first buttons, and then pulling the top of it over his head, to reveal a fine handsome slender and youthful torso beneath, Patience recoiled by habit. She expected not so sudden a revelation, and would have averted her gaze if she had been allowed a warning.
“Why don’t you take off your robe, and put these on,” suggested Jaspernon, moving towards her while still half naked. He waved the slightest dress she had ever seen. The straps for the shoulders were narrower than any she had ever seen. Most of her back would have been uncovered, and the hem of it would have revealed so much of her legs she doubted her bottom would be sufficiently covered.
“No, sir,” she exclaimed, “I cannot wear these. They are not at all modest.”
“They were worn a hundred years ago, or more,” he said. “Many ladies wore dresses like these!”
“How do you know that sir?”
“I have read books. I know my history, or much of it. Besides I have seen the pictures from those times, as you have seen some now. Am I not correct Alix?”
“You are Jaspernon,” Alixerand confirmed. “In those times many people wore revealing clothes and people were not so prudish as they have since become.”
“You want me to wear those clothes sir, but I cannot!” she protested. “I am a High Priestess, the head of our priesthood. I cannot possibly wear those clothes.”
“Not even if I said I know you would look very lovely in them?” he persisted, smiling.
Her cheeks reddened, “I thank you sir, but I am not some ordinary woman who may be flattered. I have pledged myself to the Goddess. It is a higher calling than the enjoyment of self and the appreciation of appearance.”
He sensed her pleasure at the compliment, but there was no sign of that in her words. “As your Prince I oblige you to change for me.” Unable to achieve his purpose by any other persuasion he fell back upon the authority of his position. If you wish I will ask Alix to wait in the next room. You can change in that room over there. I will not watch if you prefer.”
“Sir you ask me things I should not do.”
“No one else is watching. This part of the palace is empty. We are the only persons here. The rest of your cult will never know. Besides I thought your Goddess was caring and understanding. She does not judge her flock, but wants them to experience the fullest of lives. I see nothing against your Goddess in the changing of clothes and the full experience of life.”
“You keep changing your demands sir. First you encourage me to explore this tower with you, and the next minute you want me to view those pictures. I think you knew they were there all along. Now you want me to change into those lascivious clothes. Unable to persuade, you now insist, because you are the prince. Where will your demands end? I fear your answer to that question.”
“Patience, you do not realise your beauty. We know you would look very lovely in those clothes, but if you absolutely refuse I might just tell some of your cult members what you have seen here today, or even perhaps my father.”
“I do absolutely refuse!” She was angry. Temper flared. He had pushed her too far. “You hint strongly of blackmail Prince. It does not become you, and I won’t be affected by it.” With that outburst she turned and went to the door quickly. She ran through the next room and fled down the stairs. Jaspernon thought he detected a tear in her eye, but she was gone too quick to be certain.
The Prince laughed, “Oh dear I have pushed her too far, I think.” He appeared more amused than chastened by the reaction of the priestess.
“Yes I think you have Jasper,” agreed Alixerand. “You were becoming too forceful. She may not forgive you for it. She is strong minded.”
A worried look came over the prince. Perhaps he had indeed lost some of the Priestess’s goodwill. They had been just words to him. He was hardly going to carry his threats out. But she probably did not know him well enough yet to know that. She was such a beauty he could not help provoking her because he desired her so much. He knew she felt something for him too. That gave him the confidence and assurance to push her. But there might be a limit. He had better be more careful with her. “I had better run after her.”