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The Empress And The Eve Of War (Michaela Francis)

The Empress And The Eve Of War by Michaela Francis

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All is not well in Mathomdale. In the days leading up to the summer festival, Jennifer finds herself incarcerated behind the walls of Mathom Hall. Meanwhile her beloved Julie is undergoing trials of her own; finding herself torn between two families who wish to purchase her. Julie must sell herself in slavery to rescue her family from ruin even though she knows she is selling herself under false pretences and that her sale will separate her even further from Jennifer.

Whilst the slaves of Mathomdale wrestle with their own problems, however, great events in the world at large will come to impinge themselves on the peace of Mathomdale. War involving the Line of the Goddess has broken out throughout the world, tearing communities apart, uprooting thousands of people and bringing fear and danger to the very gates of Mathom Hall itself.

This latest instalment of Michaela Francis' monumental saga burns with the intense passion of its predecessors while expanding the story into a kaleidoscope of drama and a roller coaster of emotion.

Product type: EBook    Published by: Fiction4All    Published: 2 / 2018

No. words: 101500

Style: Male Dom - M/F, Fem Dom - F/F

Available Formats: MobiPocket (MOBI)  EPUB  PDF  MS Reader  This book has a format which can be downloaded to Kindle

Click Here For All Books In This Series


Narrators Foreword

The summer of the lady Jennifer's enslavement in Mathom Hall and the foundation of the new dynasty of the House of Mathom was also one of great crisis and danger to the Line of the Goddess, Not only was the Line distracted by the imperatives of “Prophecy One” but it also became involved in the opening salvoes of the Wars of the Goddess; the global conflict that would imperil its people and bring the tendrils of war within the very heart of Mathomdale itself.
There were those who feared that, in this moment of crisis, the House of Mathom, and most particularly its revered Mistress, was diminished in stature, jaded by its long years of responsibility and ill equipped to exercise the firm leadership the hour demanded. Such fears, as I hope this narrative will show, were unfounded. It is true that the First Lady of the Line had slipped away from her dominant role as Empress under the Goddess as she had delegated much of her authority and was, even then, constructing the dynasty of succession to replace herself. Nevertheless she was still a power to be reckoned with and, all historians recognise, that when she was called upon at the hour of danger she was not found wanting and that it was her decisive leadership that steadied the ship in these dangerous times.
It is beyond the scope of this narrative to recount a full telling of the war other than those aspects of it which would directly impact Mathomdale and the House of Mathom. It was a period of great suffering and tragedy and one which saw enormous upheaval as people were driven from their homelands. Whilst the narrator must be cognisant of these painful realities, it was also, paradoxically, an era of renewal. If the future of the Line had needed to be forged in the crucible of war, then it was nowhere more apparent than in Mathomdale itself. The displaced children of war would after all, become glittering assets in the new dynasty of the House of Mathom and, as yet unbeknown to the slaves of Mathom Hall concerned with their own problems, a new generation of extraordinary people were making their way to Mathomdale

Chapter One

Rose Crawley was standing tearfully in a corner of the housekeeping office at Mathom Hall, her underwear about her ankles and her skirt hitched up, displaying the evidence of the inadvisability of crossing a high slave of the House of Mathom etched on her bottom, when Julie’s father deposited his youngest daughter at the steps of Waterstone House. “Now be mindin’ yer Ps and Qs our Julie won’t yer.” he instructed her.
“Oh aye dad! Can’t be jeopardisin’ us investment now can I?”
“Now Julie. Don’t be like that. I’m just askin’ yer to mind yer manners an’ be’ave yersen is all.”
“I’ll be’ave my sen dad. Just you be’ave yours. Don’t be getting’ us inter any more trouble than we already are an’ get rid o’ them bloody fags.”
“Don’t worry Julie love. I’m seein’ to it.”
“Just mek sure you are dad.”
“Right well then love. Er where do we knock like Julie? Do we ‘ave ter go round t’ back?”
“No we’ll ring t’ front door bell dad. We’re not bloody delivery men.”
“Right then.” Mr Hawthorne mounted the steps to the imposing front door of Waterstone House in trepidation. It wasn’t exactly Mathom Hall but the big old building was still an intimidatingly large country mansion. Old Mrs Darcy answered the bell with poorly concealed ill humour.
“Eee good day ter yer sir. I don’t know where them young lasses are. Never about when t’ door needs answerin’.‘Ave me dragging meself all t’ way across t’ ouse an’ wi’ my arthritis an’ all. I ‘ope this young lass ‘ere’ll be a bit sharper when she moves in. I can’t be doin’ everything. Not at my time o’ life. Will yer be wantin’ ter see t’ Missus then?”
“Er aye yes please.” Mr Hawthorne answered.
“Well come on in then an’ I’ll show yer to ‘er study.” Mrs Darcy ushered the pair of them To Eleanor’s study, rapping on the door with a gnarled knuckle before leading them in them. Eleanor was sat at her desk and turned to her visitors with a smile. “It’s yer new young lady wiv ‘er dad missus.” Mrs Darcy informed her unnecessarily.
“Thank you Mrs Darcy. Would you be so good as to see if Sandra would fetch us some tea?”
“Aye that’s if I can find ‘er. Never around when yer want them! I were just sayin’…”
“Thank you Mrs Darcy. You’ll find Sandra in the winter-garden. I sent her there to do some chores for me.” As the old lady shuffled off grumbling Eleanor rose to her feet. “Mr Hawthorne, Julie, it’s a delight to see you.” Julie curtsied politely as her father touched his forelock deferentially. “Please do be seated.”
“Er Beg pardon Mrs Waterstone but I can’t be stayin’ long.” Mr Hawthorne informed her. “I ‘ave some business to attend to back in Mathom. I was just droppin’ our Julie off really.”
“Oh you’ve five minutes to take a cup of tea surely?”
“Aye er I can manage that Mrs Waterstone.”
“Excellent please take a seat.” The conversation was warm but light whilst Mr Hawthorne shuffled uncomfortably in the big drawing room come study. It was Julie’s first chance to meet Sandra, one of Debra’s slave sisters and she found her to be an older girl in her twenties and, if the other girl Andrea was the same, then Julie could well understand how Debra in her late teens felt a little isolated as the baby of the household. Eleanor introduced Julie to Sandra and whilst the older girl seemed friendly enough Julie blushed under her searching appraisal. Eventually Mr Hawthorne took his leave and Julie was left alone with Eleanor and Sandra. The lady of Waterstone House regarded Julie with great pleasure.
“Well Julie.” she said at last, “Welcome back. We’re going to have a lovely evening. I’ve got a few surprises for you!” Eleanor turned to Sandra. “Sandra would you see where the other girls are please?” Sandra scuttled off and Eleanor addressed Julie once more “I’ve invited a lady around tonight Julie who is a wonderful dancing teacher and we’ve cleared a big space in the music room so that we can all try out our paces. Mrs Durrel is bringing a couple of assistants too so it should be a lot of fun. We’ll kill them all at the summer ball. Later, when we get some time, you and I must have a talk.”
“Yes ma-am.” said Julie with a quailing heart. Eleanor’s face was so animated and excited that Julie shrank from the onerous duty of informing her would-be patroness of the interest of other parties in her services. It was a problem that could wait for the time being she decided. Nevertheless the evening did sound like it could be fun. At that moment, Sandra returned with Debra and Andrea. Debra squealed in pleasure and flew into the room to hug Julie which was a breach of protocol since she hadn’t greeted her mistress but Eleanor was prepared to be tolerant and indulgent, so amused was she over Debra’s obvious delight at being re-united with her new sister. Eventually Debra disentangled herself and remembered her manners sufficiently to curtsy to Eleanor.
“I’m sorry ma-am.” she said, suddenly concerned that her excitement had led her to impoliteness but Eleanor just laughed and stood to brush Debra’s forehead with her lips.
“That’s all right Debra. Now come along. Julie hasn’t met Andrea yet.” Andrea was a tall brunette with dangerously sensual eyes and, upon being introduced, she leaned forward to kiss Julie lightly with a smile.
“Welcome to Waterstone House Julie.”
“Er thanks.” Julie replied somewhat flustered. Andrea’s kiss had been very quick and sisterly but it had contained enough sensual content to make Andrea’s intentions obvious. Andrea and Sandra were very much looking forward to the prospect of some fresh new talent at their disposal under the eaves of Waterstone House.
“The girls have been working this afternoon to prepare a little party in your honour Julie.” Eleanor told her. “We were going to have it out in the garden but it’s a bit cooler this afternoon and it looks like it might rain so we’re going to eat in the winter-garden if you’d like that. First of all though, before we dine, we’ve got something to show you. Come on girls lets take Julie upstairs.” A minute or so later they were all stood in the big attic room next to Debra’s room.
“Well Julie what do you think?” asked Debra shyly.
Julie blinked in astonishment. “Y…. yer’ve done all this fer me?” she gasped.
“Well it’s not finished yet Julie.” Eleanor noted, “We only started yesterday but we put in most of the day and got it decorated nicely. Then this morning we got the carpet cleaned up and put some rugs down and some of the furniture in but there’re still a few things to attend to. We’ll need some nice curtains and lampshades for one thing. Then we’ll have to get you a new wardrobe. There was one in here but it was a bit small and old. I’ve got a desk that will do for your computer and a little dressing table that’ll go nicely against that wall there. We have a bigger bed for you as well which I was going to get the boys to drag in tomorrow. Still you can get an idea of what it’s going to be like.”
“It…. it’s lovely.” said Julie in wonderment. It was too. The room was so big that it would pass for a studio yet the sloping ceiling on one side and the old beams gave it a cosy and character full appearance. In the Hawthorne household, as the youngest, Julie had always had to make do with the smallest room in the house. She’d often envied her sisters for their much bigger rooms but this space was huge compared with theirs and far nicer.
“Look.” said Debra “You’ve even got your own balcony just like me.” They opened the big windows set into the alcove of the sloping ceiling and showed her out onto the tiny balcony with its reclining chair and little table. From this high point in the house they had a panoramic view down the valley, across the river and away to the ruins of the old Abbey in the distance. It was beautiful. Julie stood on the little balcony gazing across the gentle meadows of upper Mathomdale her heart breaking for the lovely valley that she had grown up in. How could she ever leave this? Eleanor came and stood beside her laying a hand softly on her shoulder.
“It’s a lovely view isn’t it Julie.”
“Yes ma-am it is.” Julie croaked, her voice hoarse from the emotion of the entrancing view from the little balcony.
“Julie I hope you won’t mind but you’ll have to share a bathroom with Debra at least to begin with. We only have the one bathroom on this floor. Perhaps later we can see about converting one of the other rooms up here to another bathroom so that you can both have your own.”
“I don’t mind ma-am ‘onest.” Julie seemed unable to tear her gaze away from the green meadows, sparkling river and the fell tops beyond, knowing that ultimately this perfect little corner of England was where she belonged. On Sunday she would go to Brawton to hear the proposition that Rosalyn and Astrid had for her. It would mean more money, probably better prospects, an exciting new life in the city but her heart wasn’t in it. She was just a Mathomdale girl when all was said and done, and always would be. This was her home. Perhaps it took the prospect of exile to remind her just how much the magic valley meant to her, how homesick she would be away from it and how desperate she would feel if she could not step beyond her front door and stride in freedom to the windswept moor tops overlooking the welcoming vale beneath. In her heart she knew it could never be. She was as rooted to the valley as the willows by the riverside, as cast in stone as the cliffs at Woodman’s Bluff and as much a part of the dale as the little statues of the Goddess by the dry-stone walls of the meadows. She felt tears prick her eyelids and knew not where her melancholy came from but only experienced the deep longing for the valley of her birth.
“Well Julie, girls, lets go down and get something to eat shall we?” Eleanor requested. “You must be hungry Julie!”
“Y… yes ma-am.” Reluctantly Julie tore her eyes from the view from her balcony and followed the others down the broad stairs to the ground floor.

Chapter Two

At Mathom Hall Lady Mathom regarded her young slaves with enormous satisfaction. In the two hours since their punishment they had repaired the damage to their dignity and appearance admirably and now one could not have wished for a prettier picture of five such delightful young women as they joined their Mistress for dinner. They were beautifully dressed, perfectly coiffed and demurely made up. Most of all they carried their youthful womanhood with pride and poise, harmonious and tranquil in their beauty with nary a hint that only two hours previously they had been severely whipped and caned for their youthful foolishness.
Lady Mathom’s extraordinary perception discerned that Rebecca in particular looked remarkably radiant and happy yet she was at a loss to pinpoint the exact reason for this elevation of mood in her lovely dark-haired slave. It was simple really. Rebecca had just received marvellous intelligence from Jennifer of all people. She’d been smearing soothing cream over Jennifer’s back when Jennifer had asked her if she’d heard from Switzerland this morning.
“Switzerland?” she’d asked in puzzlement. “Why ever should I hear from Switzerland?”
“Why from Robin of course.”
“Robin? Switzerland? What the devil are you talking about Jenny?”
“Well Robin’s in Switzerland. I just wanted to know if he called up this morning.”
Rebecca had caught her breath and sat down heavily on a pouf beside Jennifer. She cleared her throat. “Jenny.” She’d begun, “Jenny are you telling me that Robin told you he was in Switzerland?”
“Well yes... of course. Didn’t you know?”
“No Jenny. No I didn’t. I just knew he was abroad somewhere. Oh Goddess!”
“What is it Becky?”
“Oh my! Oh wow!”
“Jenny at the end of summer I have to go to Switzerland too. I’ve been feeling terrible about it. I thought I was going all on my own to a foreign land. Now you drop this bombshell on me.”
“Oh I thought you must know.”
“No. No I didn’t. Oh Goddess it means that Robin’s almost certainly in the part of Switzerland that I’m going to. Oh Goddess you’ve made me so happy.”
“But you’re leaving me Becky.” Jennifer had looked devastated.
Rebecca had hugged her fiercely “Oh Jenny not for long. You’re away to Uni in any case come September. But don’t worry, if I can swing it we’ll both go to Switzerland.”
“Robin said he’d buy me a Swiss milkmaid’s costume and call me Heidi.”
“You’ll be just perfect. Oh Jenny honey maybe the Lady will let you come out for a visit at the Christmas break between semesters. We could learn to ski together. Wouldn’t that be far out?”
“Becky I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you too Jenny, but it will be only for a short time. We’re tied together forever now beloved. Never forget that.”
Now the girls joined Lady Mathom for dinner. It was an unusual event for all of them to sit down formally for dinner with their Mistress but Lady Mathom enjoyed it when it occurred. In any case she had news for them this evening and most of it was bad. To begin with there were the restrictions on their movements to tell them about.
“Girls.” she said once the last dishes had been cleared. “Further to your punishment today you are all confined to the Hall and the grounds until the summer festival. Please don’t pout. I have other reasons for this confinement other than merely the chastisement of your sins.” Lady Mathom lit a cigarette and looked at them carefully. “I don’t know how to say this girls and I certainly don’t want to frighten you but there have been some things happening around the world recently that have made us all very much more aware of security issues among the Line. To put it bluntly there has been a number of attacks against our people in a diverse number of locations.”
“Attacks My Lady?” asked Rebecca, aghast, “What sort of attacks?”
“Violent ones Rebecca. There have been assaults against the Line in a number of third world countries and a considerable number of people have been killed.” The girls gasped in horror. Lady Mathom held up her hand to still the outpouring of outrage. “It may be that these attacks are just coincidental and unconnected with each other. After all many of the countries in question are undoubtedly dangerous places. Nevertheless we have to consider the possibility that there is a concerted effort against our people by enemies acting in collusion with each other for reasons unknown. As most of you are aware this House is a major command centre for the interests of the Line. Thus we have to take very seriously the possibility that if there is an attack on our people then this House and the people within it are potential targets for our enemies. In consideration of this I have increased security around the Hall and, until such time as the situation clarifies, I will sleep easier to know that all of you are under the umbrella of that security. Therefore I want you all to stay close to the Hall and its environs for the next week or so. We will be beefing up our security both here and throughout the valley over the next weeks and I’ll expect you all to cooperate fully with the security forces in place. Do you understand?”
“Yes My Lady.” breathed Abigail “Oh Goddess this is terrible!”
“Now Abigail, there is no cause for alarm. We’re just being ultra cautious. It may well just all blow over but I’d be in default of my responsibilities if I didn’t take precautions. You girls are far too valuable to risk for want of some sensible measures to ensure your safety.” Lady Mathom turned to Jennifer “Jennifer I realise that you still have to attend Mrs Wilkinson’s meetings regarding the summer festival. I think we can handle that but I want you to be accompanied by bodyguards. The same goes for your church attendance on Sunday. I’ll call the Appletons and explain that you will not be able to stay Sunday night at their house but I would still like you to attend church.” Jennifer’s heart sank. How could she deal with the problem of Julie accompanied by a security detail? “I don’t want you girls to be frightened.” Lady Mathom continued. “It may well be that I’m being overly cautious. I sincerely hope so. Nevertheless I will feel a lot more comfortable to know you are all safe especially since I will be away for a considerable amount of time over the next week or two.”
“You’re going away ma-am?” asked Helen in dismay.
“Yes Helen. I’m afraid so. There is a developing situation and I’m obliged to attend some important meetings concerning it. Hopefully we can deal with the situation with alacrity and the restrictions on your movements will prove temporary. I want you all to behave yourselves whilst I’m away and be just a little more aware of the security issues. Now there is some nicer news. Alice flew back into England this afternoon and she will be returning to the Hall tomorrow afternoon. I will be here to greet her and she’ll be staying until after the summer festival. The restrictions on you will apply to her as well, however, and also to Daniel when he arrives next week. I want you to make sure that Alice’s chambers in your wing are ready for her. I’ll assign some of the domestic staff to prepare married chambers for when Daniel arrives. Make sure that you greet both of them nicely but for heaven’s sake girls do try to keep it within the bounds of respectability. I don’t want to have to spend another afternoon thrashing the lot of you.”
“Yes ma-am.” answered Abigail on their behalf “We’ve learned our lesson. We will conduct ourselves with propriety ma-am.”
“Good girls.” Lady Mathom frowned, remembering something. “Ah yes Jennifer I have something for you. My son informed me on the phone today that you don’t have a mobile phone.” Lady Mathom opened a drawer and withdrew a small compact telephone. “You ought to have one Jennifer so that you can be reached anywhere and at any time especially whilst we’re all under added security precautions so I have this one for you. It already has all the necessary numbers for the Hall in its memory and it’s a simple model to use. I realise that you’re not very technologically minded but it shouldn’t be beyond your capabilities to learn how to use this instrument. Get one of the other girls to help you if you get fuddled.”


Bloody excellent story but sadly not much sex. Am waiting avidly for the next book all the time. 4 out of 5

Author Information

Michaela is a UK author based in Yorkshire. Born in the city of York, Michaela spent many years travelling throughout Europe during a career as an entertainer before returning to the UK to study for a Masters degree in history. The author of several novels and many short stories, as well as several works of non-fiction, Michaela's style mixes romance, fantasy and eroticism in a rich blend of well researched authenticity and descriptive imagination. Widely travelled, multi-lingual and multi-cultural, Michaela draws upon her own experiences and adventures to enhance the diversity of her writing while adhering to Tolkein's mantra "the inner consistency of reality" to bring realism and credibility to the imaginary worlds she creates.


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