The sensations were so intense.
Gabrielle yelped, using her voice for the first time in what felt like forever.
“Ssh, it’s okay,” the guru whispered bracingly into her ear as he continued weaving a hypnotic web around her that ensnared her and obscured her reality. “Just let go. Clear the path to where your greatest pain and greatest power lie so you can release them. Do not fight!”
“K-Khrafstar, please! Don’t do this!” Gabrielle begged, utterly lost in time and space. The chill of Dahak’s temple surrounded her while the chafing of the rope against the already raw skin of her wrists and ankles held her in place. Every muscle in her body strained and ached between the cornerstones of the rough-hewn altar beneath her. Hyperextension arched her back and tugged on her hips and inner thighs as she was forced to accommodate the priest’s folded legs below her.
Khrafstar dug his fingers into the supple curves of her buttocks, pulling them up and apart with his hands while exerting ever-increasing downward pressure with his own hips.
Gabrielle shrieked when her body gave way to his; the concentrated burn along the rim her resistance magnified with fissures that spread outward like cracks in glass. Her cries echoed in the hollow darkness.
“Ssh,” Aiden cajoled her again. “The past cannot hurt you. The only power it has is that which you give it. …Now, we are doing this to help you break free,” he reminded her, layering subtle disappointment into his voice. “You must come to terms with what happened if we are to-”
“I can’t! Please! I-it; you’re-”
“I am not doing anything,” he spoke over her affliction. “It’s all in your head. Do not fight your discomfort. Feel it, acknowledge it, and then let go. It’s the only way!”
“Focus on your breathing. In through your nose; out through your nose. Count! In– 2, 3, 4. Hold– 2, 3, 4. Out– 2, 3, 4. Hold– 2, 3, 4. Gabrielle! If you cannot overcome this, you will lose yourself to it! Now, focus!”
His student drew a shaky inhale. “S-something’s wrong,” she choked out sometime later. “I don’t remember this. But I see and feel it so clearly. And I know in my soul that it happened.”
“You must have repressed it,” Aiden said in a breathless tone of his own. “Understandable; it’s a very painful memory to be sure. But-”
“But there’s more,” Gabrielle agreed. “Oh, there’s more! I can’t bear it…”
“You can! You are so strong, Gabrielle. You can be transformed, if only you will allow it.”
I can restore you, dear one, if only you will allow it, Dahak had tempted her.
Instantly, the small blonde was floating in supernatural fire.
Her past self answered for her. S-so be it.
“NO!” she screamed aloud, desperate to avoid the agony, horror, and revulsion she knew would follow the acquiescence.
“You must stop fighting! Clear the path to your inner stillness!”
“I can’t; I can’t! I want to stop!” Gabrielle writhed against Aiden’s grasp. “Please!”
“Alright, alright!” he snapped as he pulled out of her and glared at her torn flesh to heal it. “You were so close, Gabrielle…”
The disgust and frustration in his voice sliced the woman’s heart as if they were shards of glass blown in the wind. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, curling into a ball to hold herself together.
“Some people just can’t do it. I guess you’re one of them,” Aiden again cut her with his words as he twiddled a blade of grass between his thumb and first two fingers. “I really thought-”
Fresh tears stung green-blue eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“You said you were game. I thought you were going to change the world…”
“Oh, but I already have. For evil.”
Aiden frowned. “You’re not evil, Gabrielle. Farthest thing from. You just-”
“Even if I’m not, I- …What came from me- What-”
“Can you tell me about it?” the guru asked as he once more lifted his prey halfway onto his lap and stroked her hair as she lay on her side. “What happened, little lamb?”
“I thought he was my friend…”
Gabrielle gasped and scrambled to sit up and look her teacher in the eye.
Aiden let her go without struggle.
“You called his name when you got your lost in your past.”
“Oh.” Gaze falling, and face following, the blonde lay back down. “D-don’t; please,” she breathed when the man crawled toward her to cradle her anew. “I need to …tell this story without help.”
“And I will listen,” Aiden told her, scooting back to give her space.
“He …was the high priest of …a god named Dahak. Have you heard of him?”
Feigned sympathy answered her unwitting question. “No, little lamb.”
“He’s the god of ultimate evil. And I let him in. I …bore his child.”
“Oh, but I did. I killed for him. Both of them. But I didn’t know what I was doing. I …saw my friend in danger and sprung to help him. …Then he hurt me. They all hurt me.”
“Their entire… congregation. All the followers of Dahak who… liberated the temple from the Romans with us that day…”
“Close to twenty,” Gabrielle admitted with a sniffling cry. “Oh, they hurt me… A-at first they didn’t. I- They just- I stabbed their priestess before she could sacrifice Khrafstar. Meridian. My first kill. Then Khrafstar got up from the altar. He… taunted me. Then. He must have given the order, because suddenly, all the cultists grabbed me and put me on the altar in his place. They- …took my clothes off.” Hazy shadows solidified into all-too-real images, and Gabrielle cringed from them. “They’re here. Oh, they’re here!” Hands over her eyes and body compressing into an even smaller ball, Gabrielle shook badly.
“They’re not, little lamb. Such beasts cannot enter my estate. Do not worry. They cannot harm you.”
“But they did.” Once more, she hiccuped a sob. She did not melt into Aiden when he lay down behind her and embraced her, nor did she rebuff him. “They hurt me so much…”
“What did they do, little lamb?”
“You can! Take back your power from them! They do not deserve it. Gabrielle, speak their deeds, so you can be free of them. I will help you!” As turned on as ever by another person’s suffering, Aiden started to rut against the woman. Holding firmly to her waist, he told her, “I’ve got you. I won’t let them have you. You are m- free!”
Gabrielle nodded even as tears dripped down her face. “Oh, it hurts!” she whimpered when her teacher penetrated her a second time, not realizing that the sensation was real.
“It’s alright, little lamb. Be strong. Know your strength, Gabrielle. Use it!”
She took several deep breaths to cope with the great emotional and physical distress coursing through her.
“That’s it! That’s it! You’re doing it! You’re breaking free!”