Life and Times of a Priestess: Ch.9: Concessions (Part 4: Ravelleon Concedes - Section 1)
Chapter 9 : Concessions :
Part 4 : Ravelleon Concedes
She came to the burned temple near the centre of the city. There was no sign as yet that the occupiers intended to do anything to it, not even to knock it down or clear away the burned timbers. She carried on across the road and found herself again outside Ravelleon’s quarters. She had composed herself since Gerald had brought her the invitation yesterday morning. Now she was quite prepared for the General. She would allow him to control the evening. If he wanted to make love to her she would be pleased. That would be a confirmation of her previous approach. She would have won and breached the walls of this man’s Prancirian stupidity. If he just wanted to talk and eat like the last time then she would accept it. After all she had often felt constrained by the narrow sexual preoccupations of her life when she had been in Shanla, and now she could talk to a powerful man from a distant country. She should make the most of these insights and not expect to be able to influence him politically or sexually.
The guard on the door was not the same as the one who had demanded sex from her which had so refreshed her after he earlier disappointment. It was just as well for she did not relish the pretence of walking past him without giving some recognition of their last meeting.
“I have come to dine with General Ravelleon,” she announced herself.
“He is expecting you” confirmed the guard. “Go in and to the top of the stairs. He will be waiting for you. May I take your coat,” he eyed her as he took her coat. Rarely did women come to Ravelleon’s offices, but he did it timidly, not like the other guard had done so rudely. He was respectful and polite.
Mounting the stairs she reached the top as Ravelleon came out of his room to greet her, politely as ever. Taking her hand he kissed it and said in friendly tones, “I am so pleased you could come. I was hoping that our little disagreement last time would not prevent you from accepting my invitation. I wanted to give you the choice. I did not want you to think that I was ordering you to come.”
“I did not think you would invite me again,” she smiled politely. “So when you did I wished to justify your kindness by accepting. The food was delicious and we had some very interesting conversation. Perhaps it was my fault if I misjudged your intention. I did not wish to upset you, and will not do so again,” she said. “Unless you ask it,” she added.
He was charming to her now, aware perhaps that he had played the man of options too much on that previous occasion. He tried harder now to sympathise with her judgement and took care not to directly disagree.
“At times I do feel saddened that we must fight this war with your people,” he admitted. “You have done us little harm for you live a long way away from us. But your ways are uncivilised and your government is an outdated thing of the past. You stopped progressing centuries ago” Conversation returned to the differences which stood between them, but as before he held back from mentioning the subject of sexual behaviour. She had to broach it, unable to avoid the lifestyle which was central to the existence of all Pirionites.
“We did progress. We progressed in the arts of love and left Vanmar standing behind in the shadows of repression. All our people are provided with constant love and affection. When they become adults they are never without the natural stimulant of the opposite sex, or the same sex if they so choose. From what I have seen of your soldiers, and even yourself, Prancirian men are lonely for female company, and often frightened of sexual acts. They have been taught to worry about keeping their erectness. You probably do not know because you are never with men as they perform. But I am with men every day of my life. When they become erect they make love to me as fast as they can so that they can orgasm before they lose erectness. Pirionite men are different, more mature. They are not concerned with erectness. When the erectness goes they take it as a sign to change their position or to offer the penis back to the woman’s mouth or more often to pleasure the woman for a while. For our men it is not a defeat but merely the ebb and flow of our passion’s differing stages.”
“Danella, please you need not say these things,” he said quietly. He had listened to her, doubtless fascinated but could not admit to himself that he wanted to hear this knowledge.
“I am saying,” she went on, “that the reason we stopped progressing in the ways Vanmar has is that we found other means of progression. Our energies were directed in a more human and inward direction. Instead of producing as many goods as possible and creating war machines we set ourselves the task of discovering each other and ourselves. We allowed ourselves to discover our inmost desires and satisfactions. In my opinion this has made us a much happier people than yours. Yours have denied themselves!”
“If the conquest of Pirion is completed you will soon see the development of your country. Your people will learn about the wonderful things which you can only dream about in the present. You will become organised to produce cheap clothes, better faster ships and trains for travel, beautiful things, furniture, works of art and culture,” he preached unconvincingly to Danella.
“Your continent has no doubt produced great things which we can only dream about. I haven’t seen them so I do not know. Maybe I will see them one day,” she said.
“You will see them soon here in Pirion, I promise. Indeed many of them are already here,” he interjected.
“But I doubt,” she continued, “that many of them are of greater value than the contented lives we have led. I see your soldiers torn away from their homes to wage the gamble of war, in which they may not return, or their bodies may be ruined. Daily they live in fear. How can they be happy? Their only consolation is the Priestesses of Pirion, for the comfort we can give.”
“Soldiers fight for the good of our nations,” retorted Raveleon. “It is a small sacrifice if they return home whole at the end, and they will have returned home with honour. They can be proud of themselves for they will have faced death and confronted it as a man should. Knowing that you have experienced the dangers of this world, and fought with courage and honour is a far greater satisfaction than any which can be achieved by the transient pleasures of the flesh.”
“That might be so,” argued Danella, “if they were fighting for a just cause. Instead their actions lead to the deaths of innocent people who never chose war. Or to the capture and enslavement of prisoners. What honour is there in that?” she fell silent for a few seconds. Ravelleon said nothing waiting for her to continue. He was listening at least. She was pleased at that. Either he had decided he wanted to know her better and was prepared to cool his dogmatism and grant her the right to speak her mind or he was becoming prepared to listen to her point of view because he began to doubt his nation’s purpose. She imagined that primarily his interest must lie in her, but she knew the General for an intelligent man. He must surely sometimes have doubts about the path he was embarked upon.
When she did not continue Ravelleon spoke, “I see you have not changed any of your views since we last spoke, and neither have I changed mine. I can accept that it is a shame our nations must fight. But if Prancir did not fight Vanmandria and Spalopia would surely continue without us. Pirion has left itself open by being badly governed. I ask you not to blame us, or me for the sadness which descends on your nation at the present. I am the instrument of fate not its source which comes rather from the choices your nation has made in its past. Have hope for the future. When war is ended you will see that your people’s lives will be transformed, in Pranciarian territories at the least.” The way he spoke, softly but with authority, lulled her. He was persuasive even though the content of his words did not impress her (if she stopped to think about them). Did it matter to her what a man thought and said if the way he said it was alluring. She too had begun to tire of this conversation.
The meal was finished on the table, little of the provender left. There was little more to say on the subject of politics which they had not already spoke, but she was not tired of him. She wanted to hear the sound of his voice for longer. She grew afraid that the evening was drawing to a close soon. She had planned not to attempt any seduction as she had attempted before. If the General wanted he could have her. She had not shared love with anyone yet today, unconsciously saving herself for this evening, despite the knowledge that Ravelleon’s lusts were kept firmly under his iron self discipline.
As before she found herself wanting him. His well built handsomeness, his maturity drew her to him. She had sat and listened to him for much of the evening warming again to his voice and politeness, finding his frequent humour to be intelligent and warming. It was difficult for Pirionites to spend this amount of time with the opposite sex and not to communicate more sexually. Her self discipline was difficult. She ached, had ached for most of the evening to move over to his side of the table and bring her side to his, her cheek to his as they talked. She wanted to bridge the political and sexual gulf between them, to disarm him at close quarters. The disputes of nations she was sure could be solved if only their people and their leaders could be brought into sexual communion.
She returned to the subject of their last meeting “I did not think you would want to see me again after last time. You know, in my country we feel that if two people of opposite sex spend such time talking together, then they obviously must want more from each other than conversation. It would be natural for us at some point in the evening to want to at least hold and soothe each other. Usually we would go much further and share love, or worship as we often call it. It seemed only natural for me to wish to become more friendly with you. I apologise if I went too far for you. But you know we are not used to the absence of physical contact. I expect it and I should not have. I am sorry.”
“You need not apologise,” said Ravelleon. “You were correct in assuming that I was enjoying the attention. And I was flattered that you seemed to be enjoying my company to the extent that you were willing to offer yourself to me in that way. It is I who must apologise for becoming so angry when after all you were only behaving as you are used to. I think you knew that you appealed to me and that was why you acted so lasciviously.”
She had not expected such a complete apology. The man who had previously chided her and her people for their ‘barbarism’ and then ‘uncontrolled’ lusts which they allowed so easily, now seemed to appreciate that her background encouraged her to behave in this way. Furthermore he admitted in so many words his desire for her, as she had thought he had done the last time. Perhaps there was a chance that this time she would be able to cradle the man in her arms and explore his mystery even further. She wanted to badly but the memory of his rejection of her the last time was still strong, and she did not wish to repeat that mistake. “I thought I had judged your feelings wrongly when you became angry,” she said hesitantly, not knowing how best to approach him. “So I was not wrong? You do have some feelings for me? You do have some feeling for me?”
“Of course. What man could ignore you Danella. Why else do you think I selected you to eat with me from all of the Priestesses in Dalos. I wished only to come to know you and judge whether we could be friends so that I could appreciate your beauty from a distance. When I toured your dormitory I was looking for a female friend for that purpose although unconsciously I told myself only that I wished to see for myself what Priestesses we had in our care, and to ensure you were being properly treated. Some of my officers told me much of the delights they had experienced at the hands of you Priestesses, and I suppose I wanted to see for myself how you were living and how beautiful you all were. You impressed me immediately because you were reading and you were very beautiful, more beautiful than any I could see.”
“You chose me because I was reading?” she asked. He had probably said this previously she recalled.
“You were the one whose beauty appealed to me the most but there were other beauties amongst you. But you were the only one reading and I was looking for someone who I could converse with, someone intelligent, with ideas.”
“Most soldiers would not be concerned with whether a Priestess liked to read,” she said.
“No” he agreed, “But they come to see you for one thing only, I was not so sure and at the time I wanted only to appreciate your beauty from a distance and to talk. I found very soon in our conversation last time that I did enjoy talking to you. In Prancir someone like you would make an excellent wife, a sociable hostess. In society you would do well. You have all the right qualities.”