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The Kitten and the Dragon's Cave (Michaela Francis)


The Kitten and the Dragon

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Lady Mathom’s speech at the opening ceremony of the Mathomdale Fair has galvanised the people of the Line of the Goddess. Her command to find places for all the young people displaced by the war sets off a frenzied slave market as more and more families rush to register for slave ownership and haggle over papers of indenture, The Lady herself sets a good example by seeking out new young slaves to raise to the order of the Amethyst whilst Eugene agonises over the status of her own three slaves.

Whilst so many young slaves are on the auction block, the situation of Julie Hawthorne remains unresolved. Caught in the middle of a bidding war for her own services, Julie is torn between conflicting interests and the terrible feeling that she is selling herself under false pretences. As she suffers the growing sensation of losing control of events, a new factor enters the lists. The Lady Shiro of the Oriental Gardens of Mathom Hall takes a more personal interest in the young girl and it is she who will put Julie to her sternest test yet…. In the very caves of the dragon.

The twelth volume of Michaela Francis’ unforgettable erotic fantasy saga raises the tension once more as the tale moves inexorably towards its dramatic climax.

Product type: EBook    Published by: Fiction4All    Published: 5 / 2018

No. words: 77000

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

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Excerpt

Narrator’s Foreword

The speech delivered by Lady Mathom at the opening ceremonies of the Mathomdale Summer Festival that critical year was of paramount importance. Her words commanding unity and collective courage were stirring enough, although understandable in the context of that war embroiling the people of the Line of the Goddess. More noteworthy was the Empress’s almost overt declaration of the existence of the Line; a sub-culture long hidden within the framework of the greater whole of human society. Many have reasoned that, in the face of the discovery of Prophecy One, the First Lady of the Line felt it time to reveal more openly that a separate branch of humanity shared the world with the nominate strain of the species and that it was this separate branch who had the greatest connection with the artefact discovered in the outer Solar System and whose approach would present such a challenge to mankind. Although her speech went largely unnoticed outside the confines of the Line at the time, historians have identified this moment as the first crack in the wall of secrecy that had always surrounded the People of the Goddess and the opening up of the Line to scrutiny from the rest of the world… a move which would have profound consequences in the century to come.
Of more immediate impact on the audience listening to the Lady’s speech was her command to immediately find homes for the many thousands of young people displaced by the war. By facilitating the indenture of these young people into the families of the Line and by setting an example in the acceptance of several of them into the Imperial household, the Lady galvanised her people. The number of documents of indenture dating from this one summer is quite remarkable to the researcher and the enrichment of such an influx of high quality slaves is universally regarded as almost a renaissance of the hitherto rather stagnant bloodlines of the elder families in Europe. This dynamic new insurgence revitalised the Houses of the Line of the Goddess with entirely satisfactory promise for the future.
Yet, oddly enough, while so many young people’s futures were being decided at the Mathomdale Summer Fair, that of the problematical and enigmatic Julie Hawthorne remained unresolved at the hour of the Lady’s speech. It may seem remarkable that her status was not yet established and many are unaware how perilously close we came to losing her. This strange and extraordinary young woman was the fly in the ointment of the Summer fair and the one who would precipitate its most dangerous crisis yet, up until the very moment of that crisis, her true nature remained hidden. Only one person appears to have truly grasped the young lady Julie’s significance. The Lady Shiro of the Oriental Gardens had long concealed the truth about Julie Hawthorne and now, at this most pivotal of times, it was she who moved to intervene decisively.



Chapter One

During the pause in proceedings that followed Lady Mathom’s address, Eugene had time to reflect on the Lady’s words. Lady Mathom’s short, but stirring, speech had left a thrill of excitement around the packed square as the ceremonies moved toward the official opening of the festival. In her simple call for unity and solidarity in the face of conflict and her call to duty for the protection of the future inheritance of the Line, she had galvanised the listeners, both those physically present at the square and the other crowds unfortunate enough not to have a place in the square, who were watching the event on the huge video screens erected at various locations around the village. Eugene found herself inspired by the speech whilst at the same time observing detachedly the reactions of the crowd.
In a sense, the Mathomdale festival had always been a focus of togetherness among the people of the Line in England, being one of the few public events that gathered so many of them together in one place, but its celebration of that collective identity had rarely been so overtly stated. The Lady was playing a dangerous game, Eugene realised. Her short speech went far beyond the mere call for unity among the Alpha Sensual culture. It was, in effect, a fairly open declaration that that culture existed. It was as if the Lady had decided that the days of hiding must pass; that the day approached when the culture of the Line must step forward into the light and announce its existence to the world at large. Eugene trembled at the thought. Their entire policy, hitherto, had been one of concealment; a culture that lay in the shadows whilst it insinuated itself into human culture. Now it seemed that the Lady was at the point of opening the blinds and allowing the rest of the human race to perceive the sub culture that existed within it.
“Prophecy One,” thought Eugene. “We can’t hide that forever. Within a few years the whole world will know about it and then our cover is blown. The Lady knows that. Now we have to stand forward and be judged. Goddess I hope that we’re ready for this.” Eugene took a deep breath and glanced over at her three girls where Mali and Ana were trying to translate the Lady’s words to Vesna. “Is my duty now to them?” she asked herself. “Are these and such as these our future?” She shook her head bewildered by her conflicting emotions.
In truth, she had forsaken her duty hadn’t she? She’d run away from White Mountain and abandoned her responsibility to the security of the most important research facility of the Line. She had abandoned her family too. Hers was not a good record of accepted responsibility. The Lady had reminded all of them of their duty. Wasn’t her duty now to return to her post at White Mountain; to continue her work on behalf of the security of the Line? That was where her talents lay after all. Here was the Line in mortal peril of assault from its enemies and she had just left her post in the face of those enemies. For a short while she had entertained the fantasy of domestic bliss and peace, to raise her young slaves and her child in safety and security. But that was not for her was it? How could she demonstrate responsibility for her three girls when she had so manifestly failed in her responsibilities?
She could hear what the Lady’s instructions to her now would be. “Return to your post. It is your duty now to find a loving home for your three girls but then you must abandon them. Ultimately they will be happier and safer in the bosom of a stable family. Take your child back to your own family and beg forgiveness of them. They will raise your child with all the love and care that you are unable to provide. Your job is the doom and perdition of our enemies. Do what you are good at. Be the scourge of our foes and an assassin in the name of the Line. The sweetness and gentility are not for you. You are Eugene Collette, sword of the Goddess. This is your duty. Your selfish desire for happiness is but treason to that duty.”
Eugene turned her head so that the three girls would not see her tears. The last few days of joy had been illusion after all. She was not fit to be a mistress to these girls. She was not even fit to be a mother to a child of the House of Mathom. She proved that by every impulsive and irresponsible action she took. The Goddess had needs of her abilities, limited though they were and she had failed that need. She despised the weakness in her that whimpered “But I’ve done my duty. I’ve fought all these years. All I wanted now was a little peace and tranquillity. Was happiness too much to ask for?” She felt the tears trickling down her cheeks and hated them for the sign of her frailty. She had cried more times since she had discovered she was pregnant than in many years before. She had so wanted her own child, her own family.
She realised, in a moment of self-honesty, that she had never been more than just an outsider in the marriage of her family in Austria. She had spent so little time with them that the children were nearly strangers to her. They had just been a temporary refuge of domesticity in a life that was hard and full of cruelty. Even the days when she had found time to spend in the lovely old house in Austria she had felt like a guest; a beloved guest perhaps but not really in tune with the inner harmony of the family. She saw that they had been wise in their treatment of her, exiling her from the family so that she could stand back and ask herself if she truly belonged with them. Perhaps they hoped that she would find her way back to them but, if not, that she would find her own way in the world and leave with their blessing. She hadn’t done a very good job of finding her way back. That one day she could be a fully-fledged member of that family had been an illusion as well. She was a whore and a killer. She had no place in that family. They had been right to cast her out.
Very well then, she told herself. She would blink back her foolish tears and face the duty required of her however grievous it was. How stupid of her it had been to imagine that there was joy and contentment for one such as she. She would beg the forgiveness of her Mistress and plead that she make provision for her child and the three young girls she had come to love. Then she would steel herself once more and perform those tasks for which she was made. Those tasks would be hard but she would face them even at the cost of her breaking heart. It was her duty. She dared once more to glance upon the three girls and knew how desolate the future would be without their laughter and their love. Destiny lay hard upon Eugene’s troubled mind and only those reserves of iron resolution that resided within her enabled her to confront it without devastation to her soul. She had known many torments and pains in her long life but none so tortuous as the brief glimpse of happiness that cruel fate had allowed her to envisage.
She promised herself one thing however; that whatever heartache lay in her own future she would ensure that it would not impinge itself on that of the three girls and the child she carried in her womb. She would make certain, beyond all else, that they were all well taken care of, that they were all safe and that they were all happy. She would make them children of the House of Mathom and, even if that household was denied to her, by the Goddess she would find a place for them within it. Perhaps in later years she would return to visit them and take comfort in their happiness and well-being; contented at least that she had done her duty by them. The stern tasks that lay before her would perhaps be a little eased by that thought.
Filled with faltering resolution Eugene fought her tears. A hand suddenly came to rest on her leg. Startled she looked up to find Rachel regarding her compassionately. She was holding a tissue.
“Here sister, dry your eyes.”
Eugene hesitated but at last took the tissue in gratitude. “Thank you lady. For…. forgive me for my foolishness. I…. I’m a little unstable at the moment…. I…. I don’t know what the matter is with me!”
Rachel spoke in a low voice excluding any listener. “You’re pregnant honey. You’ve got hormones kicking in all over the place. Goddess! Lots of women go through the roller coaster heebie jeebies during pregnancy. I know I have. Perfectly normal lady Eugene. Don’t let it get to you.”
“Yes lady but, forgive me, at least you’re pregnant within the context of a loving family. I haven’t got that support. It’s my own fault. I’ve let down everybody important to me. My child doesn’t deserve a mother like me. My girls don’t deserve a mistress like me. I have no family, no security…. I don’t even have a real home. I’m a bad woman my lady Rachel. You’ve no idea how bad.”
“You’re a Slave of the Amethyst lady.”
“A very bad one lady. I have failed my Mistress.”
“Has your Mistress told you that?”
Eugene shook her head. “I hardly think it is necessary for the Lady to point out the obvious.”
“Obvious to you sister but perhaps not at all obvious to her.” Rachel took Eugene’s hand gently. “Lady Eugene you are older than I and surely much wiser but may I be allowed to advise you anyway?”
“Old I may be sister but don’t look for wisdom at this shop.”
Rachel smiled and gripped Eugene’s hand tightly. “Well then let me say that my impression of you lady is of a woman that is far too hard on herself. You know it’s very easy to say to ourselves that we must be caring and understanding about the failings and mistakes of other people. Rightly so. People are people, Alpha or not…. they’re not angels. I think you care deeply about other people lady Eugene. But you’re pretty rotten about caring about yourself. You beat yourself over the head for silly stuff that you’d forgive in an instance in anybody else. Well I can identify with that because I’ve been down that road myself. I learned, and it wasn’t an easy lesson believe me, that if you would give your love to other people then you have a duty to learn to love yourself too. When you despise yourself you think everybody else must do so as well. That is unfair to them. Your Mistress loves you lady. You do her less than justice to believe otherwise.”
“You don’t know how much pain I brought my Mistress lady Rachel. You don’t know what happened between us.”
“No you’re right. I don’t. It’s none of my business anyway. What I do know is what the Lady said about you when she told me that you were here in Mathomdale and to keep an eye open for you.”
Eugene paled and whispered, “What was that sister?”
“She said to keep an eye open and to be kind to you. She said that she thought that there might be something bothering you. She told me that you were a woman who found it very easy to hate herself. She was concerned about you. I don’t think that she knows about your pregnancy but she sure as hell knew that you were enturbulated for the moment. She told me to look after you if I came upon you. She said you were very precious to her. More precious than you would ever allow yourself to believe.”
Eugene’s tears were flowing freely now. “Goddess lady! You’re just messing my mind up all over again and just when I thought I was beginning to see things a bit more clearly.”
“Lady do yourself a favour. Never imagine for a second that you’re able to make rational decisions about anything while your hormones are giving you a good kicking. In fact don’t do anything until you’ve seen the Lady. Be advised by her sister. She’s a far better guide to any decision you’ll have to make than you are while you’re upset.”
“She’s going to be bloody unamused to find that I was careless enough to get myself pregnant.”
“Nonsense! You’re bearing a child of the Goddess; a child of the House of Mathom; a gift to the future of our Line. She’ll be bloody delighted.”
Eugene sighed “I’m not so sure of that my lady. Still your advice is good. I’ll comport myself with patience until I receive the judgement of my Mistress.”
Rachel patted Eugene’s hand with a smile. “Atta girl sister. Come they’ve got their act together now so I guess we’re ready to move to the next stage of proceedings.” Out on the main podium Margaret stood forward to the microphone once more.


Chapter Two

“My Lady, lords, ladies and gentlemen,” Margaret intoned into the microphone, “May I now be permitted to present to you the festival Queen and her ladies in waiting, chosen of the people of the valley, to represent the Goddess at this year’s fair?” The excitement around the square mounted visibly, in evidence of Jennifer’s popularity, as a fanfare of trumpets and a roll of drums announced her immediate inclusion into the festivities. In the door way of the Mathom Arms, Jennifer turned to marshal her entourage.
“Ok girls... this is it! Let’s get it right.” In truth Jennifer was nervous to the point of abject terror. Margaret had hammered the procedures into them to exhaustion over the past weeks but all the girls were visibly nervous. Even Claire Rosemont had lost her habitual haughty expression and was looking anxious. The most worrying concern, among the troop, was Julie. Of all the ceremonies they were called upon to preside over, this one, where they were to be formally presented to Lady Mathom, was the one she dreaded the most. Oddly though, she felt somewhat more relaxed about it now. Just before the arrival of Lady Mathom on the square Julie had had an odd encounter with Margaret. Margaret had been very concerned about her. Jennifer had expressed the worry that undue stress could bring on one of Julie’s attacks and Margaret had believed it. She’d seen the state that Julie had got herself into the last time she’s been confronted with the possibility of facing Lady Mathom. To avoid a repetition, therefore, she had taken Julie to one side and given her a cigarette.
“But ah don’t smoke ma-am.” Julie had protested.
“It’s not a normal cigarette Julie.” Margaret had told her. “It’s just got some herbs in it that’ll help you relax.”
“Eee it’s not wacky backy is it ma-am?”
Margaret had laughed “No Julie it’s nothing illegal or anything. It’s just herbal, medicinal. Something to calm your nerves. Now come on take a few drags.” Julie had obeyed and the mildly narcotic sedative that was used by the Line for those times when the Goddess was running amok in the system had soothed Julie considerably. She was still agitated but she was no longer on the verge of panic.
With all the dignity she could muster Jennifer led her entourage out of the pub onto the raised terrace of the beer garden before descending to cross the square to the podium. A huge cheer greeted them and Jennifer’s nerves quailed at the wall of sound. Eugene, from her position in the stand, observed Jennifer in concern. “Goddess Rachel! Your young protégé looks terrified.”
Rachel look worried but she said. “Give her a second or two lady. When she realises that everybody loves her, she’ll turn on the magic. Come on Jenny! Do your stuff.” Even as Eugene watched, the metamorphosis occurred before her eyes. Jennifer finally raised her head shyly to acknowledge the cheers of the crowd and the sweetly heart-breaking smile that was so devastating emerged on her face as she raised her hand to wave at the public. She was ethereally beautiful in the long shimmering silvery gown that the ceremony demanded; a vision of youthful innocence and radiant loveliness, all the more heart rending in her fresh beauty for seemingly being unaware of it and lacking in vanity. In seconds, as Rachel had predicted, Jennifer had the hearts of the crowd at her feet. Rachel applauded furiously. “That’s my girl!” she grinned in enormous pride. “Knock ‘em dead honey.”
Eugene was casting her eyes over the other girls. For one second she didn’t recognise Alice among them. Jennifer’s ladies in waiting were all in matching long dresses, half in lime green and the others in lilac. The blond girls wore the lilac but those of them that were brunette wore green. Alice wore green. “Goddess Alice has changed her hair.” she yelped.
“Oh of course.” said Rachel. “Goddess I hardly recognised her. Doesn’t she look lovely? I like her better in her natural hair colour.”
“Yes so do I.” said Eugene.
“Do you know her then?”
“Yes I do. She’s er….. well she’s my protégé you might say.”
Eugene and Rachel were not the only ones with particular interest in the young ladies. Eleanor’s face was flushed with pleasure as she leaned across to ask. “Don’t you think Debra and Julie look wonderful as well? I wish Julie wouldn’t keep trying to hide behind the other girls though.”
Eugene laughed at Eleanor’s obvious pleasure and pride. “Well she is the youngest lady. She’s probably a bit nervous.”
The girls all made a formal curtsy to the crowd before they descended the steps from the terrace and formed a processional line across the square with Jennifer leading and the other girls in two columns behind her. Jennifer caught sight of Mr and Mrs Appleton in a position of honour at the very front of the crowd and she waved to them affectionately, deeply fond of the old couple and recalling their kindness and the happy days she had spent in their home. Julie, for her part, glanced across at the shop, decorated this day in reams of bunting. Her mother had a fine vantage point, leaning almost dangerously out of the upstairs window and waving at her furiously, bursting with pride for her favourite daughter. Julie waved back and took some measure of courage from her mother’s uninhibited delight.
It was a proud triumph that procession across the square and all who witnessed it would recall it with pleasure many times in years to come for it was a historical moment and full of pregnant significance for the future of the Line and the House of Mathom. Though only a few people present were cognisant of the true import of that significance, most people were, by now, aware that, in Jennifer Walstow, the valley had chosen a very special queen to represent them that year. The choice went far beyond the normal light-hearted gaiety of the festival ceremonies. Not since the crowning of Jennifer’s own mother had the valley been so consciously party to the dawning of a new era. A dynasty was in creation and, if the full measure of that dynasty lay still shrouded by the veils of the future, the excitement and hope it represented was nevertheless a tangible presence in the euphoria around the square.
At length they reached the steps to the podium. A hush descended over the square as Jennifer led her entourage up the steps and curtsied formally to Lady Mathom and the gathered dignitaries. Lady Mathom was watching Jennifer with enormous satisfaction, thrilled by the qualities of her precious auburn haired slave. Was it only a bare few months since this shy, innocent young girl had landed like a bombshell in the rustic tranquillity of Mathomdale? What had she once said to Margaret? That they were stagnating? Well they weren’t stagnating now. Ever since those lovely hazel eyes had had first cast sight upon the natural splendour of the enchanted valley the world had changed. It had changed in no small measure due to the catalysing effect of this slender, nineteen year old, girl stood before her. She would possibly be the last to realise it but Jennifer carried destiny upon her slim shoulders.
As Margaret went through the formal protocol of introducing the chosen queen and her entourage of young ladies, Lady Mathom ran a quick eye over them all. She was pleased to see Alice back in her own warm shiny dark brown hair colour. It made for a far more natural and pleasant look. She’d thought Alice looked vaguely cheap in dyed blond. Now the girl looked heart-warmingly attractive and less like a city girl out for a night out on the Alco-pops in the town nightclubs. Alice was smiling and clearly enjoying herself amid the atmosphere of the festivities. Lady Mathom granted her a smile of approval and Alice blushed with pleasure at her Mistress’s attention.


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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