Consorts For Ladies


Dear Sir Elizabeth,In recognition of your recent exemplary service to Her Majesty, you are cordially invited to winter at the Heartgarden, and to select for yourself one permanent consort from among the most beautiful and highly trained aspirants in the realm.Congratulations, brave hero.From the desk of the HeadmistressHeartgarden Castle This was not something Elizabeth had ever hoped or planned for.The Royal Heartgarden was the most selective and exacting finishing school in all the world. Less than one percent of boys who applied there, hoping to train for a life as a luxury consort to a powerful lady someday, were accepted.Even fewer completed the program.Duchesses and Countesses chose consorts from the Heartgarden. Perhaps wealthy traders who held some economic power over Her Majesty.Knights like Elizabeth might socialize with the highest of nobles, and share in some of their privileges when invited, but not this one.Elizabeth had fully expected to marry a simple man with skin like leather, who could perhaps read just well enough to help her organize her shire’s requests for help. One who would smile and nod at the gossip she brought home from court, never quite understanding it.When her carriage passed through the outer gates of Heartgarden Castle, she had to keep reminding herself that she was not here as an escort, a guard, or any other part of someone else’s entourage.She was here as herself, for herself.Invited, personally, by name.The first courtyard they passed through was mostly taken up by a heart-shaped fountain surrounded by impeccably pruned rosebushes. As the carriage followed the arcing flagstone path around the fountain, it passed near a gazebo, where a dozen beautiful young men in fine satin gowns were gathered for tea.At the sight of the carriage, they all rose from their wicker chairs and rushed to the near edge of the gazebo, waving and blowing excited kisses.One of them might be mine.That was a wicked thought, and Elizabeth quickly corrected it for herself.One of them might be my husband. Not my property. Nothing so crass, obviously.She remained a little giddy at the possibility.The carriage proceeded through another gate in one of the castle’s towering stone walls, and finally came to rest in front of a formal entryway three times as tall as Elizabeth’s house.When the driver opened the carriage door, an austere-looking woman in a simple riding tunic was waiting alone on the entrance steps. A set of wide metal rings holding hundreds of keys rested proudly on her hip, attached to a chain belt.“Welcome, Sir Elizabeth,” the woman said, keeping both hands on her riding crop. “I am Headmistress Jane.”Jane was about twice Elizabeth’s age, somewhere in her mid or late forties. Her silver-streaked black hair was drawn into a tight and perfectly centered bun, and she very nearly made her welcome sound genuine.It was only the slight extra emphasis on Sir, drawing attention to Elizabeth’s lack of a higher title, that gave her away.“Pleased to meet you, Headmistress,” said Elizabeth, bowing and pretending not to notice.“If you’ll just join me in my parlor for some refreshment,” said Jane, “I’ll have your bags brought to your room.” # Elizabeth followed Jane up the stairs and into an ornate entrance hall of marble and gold. She didn’t get the chance to take it all in before Jane took a turn through a plain wooden door, leading the way to a far more modest room, with a few sofas, bookshelves, and a hearth.Jane took only as much time as etiquette absolutely demanded to ask Elizabeth about her journey, and whether she preferred tea or ale at this time of day.Once Elizabeth had a cup of tea in front of her, Jane segued immediately to presenting her with a leatherbound volume with the Heartgarden’s emblem embossed on the cover.“Before you meet the aspiring consorts we have on offer, I must ask you to swear compliance with the garden rules,” said Jane. “Guests who willfully break these rules, or make repeated mistakes, will be escorted from the premises and not invited to return, I’m afraid.”Elizabeth was sure Jane would be simply devastated if she had to nullify the invitation of a lowly knight.“While we deeply respect your accomplishments, and the queen’s judgment in bestowing this honor,” Jane pursed her lips distastefully, “our first duty is always to the sanctity of the garden and its work, as her majesty would no doubt agree.”Elizabeth had the feeling this meeting was not part of the welcome noble ladies usually received here.She also had a feeling that the garden rules were the sort of thing a real noble lady would have known already, making the meeting unnecessary.She took a moment to skim the book’s opening chapter.“Some of the rules exist to protect our aspirants’ well-being,” Jane prefaced them. Unless expressly instructed to do so by a trainer or another section of this manual, visitors may not: ·         Strike or otherwise cause physical pain or potential injury to aspirants.·         Issue threats or spread misinformation for the purpose of manipulating an aspirant’s behavior.·         Encourage conduct that would jeopardize an aspirant’s good standing with the Heartgarden. It continued for a while in the same vein.“I didn’t come here to hurt anyone,” Elizabeth promised.“Yes, I’m familiar with your reputation,” said Jane.“My reputation?” Elizabeth asked pointedly.“I only meant that I wouldn’t expect someone of your gallantry to have any trouble with the basics,” Jane said with a tight, diplomatic smile. “Other rules, however, exist to protect our aspirants’ training.”She surveyed Elizabeth, checking for understanding. Elizabeth kept her face neutral.“You see, during your interactions with the aspirants, you will be acting as an authority figure to them,” Jane explained. “In some situations, it will fall to you to administer appropriate discipline. We recommend keeping the rulebook on your person at all times for reference. You will also need to familiarize yourself closely with the aspirant code of conduct, so that you can spot infractions in a timely manner.”Elizabeth skipped ahead to the indicated section. Aspirants must present themselves at all times in a manner that reflects the Heartgarden’s values and standards of excellence. This includes: Chastity – Chastity belts are to be worn and kept locked at all times, except when removal is absolutely necessary for discipline, or for prescribed health, hygiene, or maintenance regimens. Unlocked aspirants must submit to continuous supervision until re-locking, to prevent self-spoiling. Any unauthorized attempts to remove, circumvent, modify, or otherwise tamper with a chastity belt are strictly prohibited. Obedience – In addition to this code, aspirants must follow all directions from trainers and ladies. They must also adhere zealously to ücreti elden alan escort the spoken and unspoken rules of any situation, including but not limited to punctuality, games, and table manners. Non-presumption – Aspirants may not sit, recline, eat, drink, speak, or exit a room without permission. Honesty – While proper decorum may often require keeping things to oneself, aspirants may not tell lies. Tact  – Aspirants may not speak negatively of anyone. Humility – Aspirants may not speak positively of themselves, except as absolutely necessary to answer direct questions regarding their ability to serve. Selflessness – Except in answer to a direct question, aspirants may not express personal displeasure, dissatisfaction, or desire. Aspirants must be attentive to all signs of displeasure in others, and must do everything in their power to alleviate such feelings. When multiple individuals are showing displeasure at once, an aspirant must tend to the highest-ranking person first. Cleanliness – All aspirants must bathe and shave daily, and observe thorough oral hygiene. Before entering common areas, aspirants must be fully dressed in: ·         Chemise·         Corset·         Petticoat(s)·         Dress·         Stockings (lace)·         Slippers (high-heeled)·         Tidy hairstyle with tasteful ornamentation Outside of bedtime seclusion, aspirants may not remove or disorder any articles of clothing unless directed to do so. There were footnotes attached to each rule, listing the page for the corresponding disciplinary procedure if broken.Jane smiled with some satisfaction at the overwhelmed expression Elizabeth realized she must be wearing.“We understand that some ladies may wish to institute more… permissive standards for their personal consorts,” said Jane. “You are, of course, free to do so once your selection has been finalized. We can even provide your chosen consort with individualized supplementary training to meet your preferences, if desired. For as long as an aspirant remains potentially available to other ladies, however, we must take great care not to confuse them. The Heartgarden prides itself on the unrivaled quality of our results, and consistency is the cornerstone of our method.”It all sounded a bit excessive to Elizabeth.She had known that Heartgarden consorts were highly trained, of course, but she had never given much thought to what that meant. She had mainly imagined them practicing music and dancing, learning languages, frosting decorative cookies, the sort of things that would help them throw glamorous parties and entertain important guests for their ladies.Elizabeth appreciated a virtuous, demure, well-mannered man as much as the next lady, but to explicitly forbid them from expressing so many things, even in emergencies or perfectly appropriate moments….Aside from feeling a bit sorry for the aspirants, Elizabeth found herself intimidated by the task of courting someone this way.She was not interested in building a harem, as she knew some of the highest ladies did. Whoever she chose as her consort, she intended to marry and keep as her sole partner.How could she possibly get to know someone well enough for that under such circumstances?She had half a mind to ask for a carriage home, and return to her old plans for her life.But then again, she had all winter to see how things might develop, and nowhere better to be. Her leaving wouldn’t change anything for any of the aspirants here, and if she got into a situation where she was required to do something she truly disagreed with, she could always leave then.For now, there didn’t seem to be any harm in seeing this rare opportunity through a bit farther. If she didn’t, she’d probably spend the rest of her life wondering about it.And staying would get on Jane’s nerves, which at the moment seemed nothing but a bonus.“I completely understand,” Elizabeth said with another friendly, falsely oblivious smile, slipping the book into her travelling satchel. “I’ll have it memorized by morning.” # Elizabeth was a quick study. She managed to keep her promise and still steal a few hours of sleep in the soft canopy bed in her room.She woke to a knock on her door. By the time she could get herself up to answer it, the boy who had knocked was hurrying away down the corridor and around the next corner, his skirts rustling behind him.On the floor was a breakfast tray and a card with instructions to assemble in the green drawing room when she was quite ready to begin the day.Still excited and curious for what that day would entail, Elizabeth was one of the first ladies to reach the drawing room, freshly groomed and wearing her nicest embroidered tunic. Her shoulder-length hair was brushed and tied neatly with leather at the nape of her neck.The other ladies who trickled in all seemed to know each other and have plenty of catching up to do. Elizabeth knew a few of them, but being a knight, she wasn’t a priority for their attention.She hovered at the edge of both the room and the conversation.At least she didn’t feel underdressed or uncouth next to the higher ladies. Some of them were still eating handfuls of bread and cheese and hadn’t even changed out of their nightshirts.The room was laid out with a row of tiny tables, each accompanied by one comfortable armchair and one spindly stool. A pair of ceramic bowls were arranged on each tabletop, full of slips of paper.One side of the room was empty of all furniture, providing open floorspace.That was the side Jane entered from.“Welcome, honored guests!” she addressed the room with a wave, before returning both hands to her ever-present crop. “The Royal Heartgarden has a record-high of over two hundred aspirants certified and ready to serve you this season. We recognize that this number may be as daunting as it is exciting. So, for this first day of the season, we’re proud to present you with a hand-picked selection from among our most promising. Please welcome… Charles! James! David! Gabriel!”The aspirants sashayed into the room in response to their names, each adding his own extra twirl, pose, or flourish to the movement before lining up against the wall, hands clasped on one hip, one slippered foot pointed in front of the other.Jane stopped in front of Gabriel and ran her riding crop along the delicate skin exposed by his off-the-shoulder gown, correcting some microscopic or imagined error of his posture.“Edgar!” she continued announcing. “Daisy! Christopher!” She went on summoning aspirants until there were two for each of the dozen ladies present.Elizabeth thought for a moment that she must have heard – and seen – incorrectly when Daisy entered, but no, when Jane started adding commentary on a few of the aspirants, she ücreti elden alan gaziantep escort definitely referred to Daisy as “she.”It had never occurred to Elizabeth that the Heartgarden might admit girls, but she supposed it made sense, to cater to a wider range of noble ladies’ tastes.For her part, Elizabeth had always found other women’s bodies just as alluring as men’s. She had simply assumed that no woman would settle for a life as the spouse of a knight. No matter how respectful and considerate Elizabeth endeavored to be, the expectations placed upon someone in her position meant that whoever she married would live always in her shadow, putting in long hours of support work with no official credit.To a lowborn boy, that would still be a great advancement he could not hope to achieve any other way. Girls had more options — the chance of winning knighthoods of their own, or building large commercial enterprises.Then again, for every girl who rose in such a way, there were a hundred more who failed and lived out their lives in the fields where they were born. Perhaps, for those who knew themselves to be unsuited for business or combat, becoming a lady’s consort held some appeal after all.“Ladies, if you would each take an armchair,” Jane directed.Elizabeth did so right away.Other ladies dawdled, distracted by their previous conversations, but soon enough, everyone was seated.At a clap from Jane, half the aspirants lined up across from the ladies, standing behind the spindly stools.The other half lined up against the wall.The one who ended up in front of Elizabeth had been introduced as Christopher. He had wavy, golden-brown hair, and his soft arms moved as if they were hiding hard muscles not far below the surface. Like the rest of the aspirants chosen for this activity, he looked about nineteen or twenty years old.“The aspirant across from you is yours, for five minutes,” said Jane, picking up an hourglass from a side table. “I recommend you use the time to ask one question from the bowl on your left. If you wish, you can also allow your aspirant to ask one from the bowl on your right. And…” she turned the hourglass. “Begin.”Elizabeth waited, but Christopher did not move.Elizabeth looked to both sides. The other pairings were already immersed in conversation. However those conversations had started, she had missed it.“Well, it’s nice to meet you,” said Elizabeth. “I think we should get started.”Christopher gave her a polite nod, but that was all.“Oh!” Elizabeth remembered. “Please, have a seat. And I give you permission to speak.”Christopher smiled as he realized that she was only being forgetful, rather than testing him. He pushed down on his dress, which was apparently supported by a hoop skirt, because it lifted up in the back. He enveloped the spindly stool within the layers of fabric and perched on top of it.There was an unmistakable clink of metal on polished wood, as his chastity belt touched down.The reminder that the belt was there, right under his skirts, intrigued Elizabeth more than she would have expected. She sort of wanted to see it.“Thank you, my lady,” Christopher said graciously.“Of course,” Elizabeth laughed, a touch nervous, reaching into the left bowl of paper. “Now, let’s see what we have. Are you… oh.” She broke off as she read the question, and cleared her throat to stall.Jane was pacing along the tables, and her gaze fell on Elizabeth and Christopher at that moment.Elizabeth hadn’t read the ladies’ half of the rulebook nearly as closely as the aspirants’ half, but she suspected she’d be breaking some rule if she failed to complete her part of this exercise. Treating her aspirant too “permissively,” perhaps.“Are you ever allowed to orgasm?” she finished apologetically, turning the slip of paper around to prove that this was what it really said.Jane moved on.Christopher noticed Elizabeth’s distress and responded instantly.“It’s perfectly all right,” he assured her. “Headmistress Jane fills the ladies’ bowls with questions she knows you’re likely to be curious about, but that you might not feel comfortable asking on your own.”“Are you comfortable answering them?” Elizabeth asked.It took Christopher a moment to understand that he was being asked to express a preference.“To be honest, I find it much more agreeable than answering questions about the weather,” he said.He bit his berry-colored lower lip and smiled guiltily at this bit of personal exposure.“And, to answer the original question, yes, some orgasms are permitted, but as rarely as possible. We each worship our future lady as the owner of our pleasure. Until she claims us, and chooses to bestow that honor upon us for her own reasons, any pleasure we take, we steal from her. But Headmistress Jane says that some stealing is, unfortunately, necessary to turn us into the consorts our ladies deserve. Once every month, we— well, those of us who produce seed,” he corrected himself, with a glance at Daisy, “we have to have it extracted, for our health. We stay locked up for that, and they give us an anesthetic if we show symptoms of enjoying it.”He gave another guilty smile.“Sometimes, though, if we’re very, very good, we’re allowed to steal a real orgasm on a special occasion. Being able to remember what it feels like helps us to respect its power, to feel the weight of what it means if our lady chooses to give us one. I had one for my birthday the year before last. I had to fast in solitude as penance for three days afterward, of course, to remind me that I had stolen what I could not possibly earn, but it was worth it.”The guilty smile remained, but a touch of a brag crept into his voice.Elizabeth would never tell.“Who administered it?” Elizabeth asked. “Headmistress Jane? Yourself?”“Goodness, no,” Christopher put a hand to his chest, right at the low neckline of his gown, in shock. “There’s a machine. I’m not certain how it works. We’re blindfolded and immobilized while it… works on us. To prevent us from gaining premature knowledge of our bodies. It’s the only way to keep our virginity perfect. So, if you, just for example, were to become my permanent lady, you could be assured that you would be the first to teach me the pleasure of human touch.”He rested his hands on the table, soft skin and short, polished nails easily available to her, but not presuming.Elizabeth was just about to suggest that he draw a question from the other bowl, when Jane announced, “Time’s up! Aspirants, switch.”Christopher gave her a reluctant goodbye smile as he lifted himself, and his dress, off the stool without disturbing it.He and the rest of the aspirants at the tables switched places with those lined up along the wall.The next aspirant to stand at Elizabeth’s ücreti elden alan gaziantep escort bayan table was Daisy.Hoping to be able to fit in more than a single question this time, Elizabeth remembered to give her permission to sit and speak before Jane had even overturned the hourglass.Again, the metal of a belt clinked against the wood, and Elizabeth found herself curiously picturing it, and how Daisy’s might be designed differently from the others.“It’s nice to meet you,” said Elizabeth.“You as well,” Daisy said sweetly, and then segued into a neutral comment on the blooms in the garden.It took effort for Elizabeth to keep her attention on Daisy’s face.There was something so… perverse about seeing a woman in a gown. It didn’t feel like it should have been allowed. The corset pushed her breasts together and up, almost to the point of spilling out. Far stranger than the aesthetics, though, were the delicate, submissive, male mannerisms Daisy had obviously learned here.Elizabeth realized now that she’d never given a second thought to the way men folded their limbs to take up as little space as possible, the way they dropped their gazes when they felt observed, or the way they so carefully selected the softest possible version of their words, even without Heartgarden training.It took seeing those habits on a woman to make her consciously notice them.Elizabeth wasn’t sure she liked the combination… but she wasn’t sure that she didn’t, either.As a change of pace, perhaps. A novelty.“Shall we?” Elizabeth asked, when Daisy had finished talking about the roses outside.Daisy nodded agreeably, twirling one of the shiny black curls that hung artfully from her up-do.“Do you ever wish for more freedom?” Elizabeth read the question aloud.Daisy took that same moment Christopher had, to do the math on what this question licensed her to say.“I miss it now and then,” she admitted. “But all in all, no. I like my keeping to be strict.”“Why?” Elizabeth improvised. “Do you enjoy being punished?”She had heard of such things, but never discussed them with anyone in any detail.“Sometimes I do,” Daisy admitted easily, and then her eyes went wide. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t do my best to serve my lady well! What I mean is, I’d rather know that I’ll be punished for my transgressions than wonder whether anyone notices or cares what I do.”“So, when you’re chosen, you’re hoping things will stay more or less the same for you?” Elizabeth asked.“I will adapt to my lady’s needs,” Daisy recited automatically.“But what are you hoping for?”Daisy thought.“I want her to know what she wants from me, and to teach and enforce it ruthlessly. Whether it’s the same as what I was taught here, I don’t much care. The only thing I’m hoping will be different…”Elizabeth leaned in, encouraging her to finish her thought.“I’m hoping that I might have my lady’s attention all to myself,” said Daisy, her gray eyes wide again, with an added sparkle. “That I might serve her and take her training and discipline one-on-one, always. But even if I don’t, I doubt I’ll have to share with hundreds of other aspirants.”“I’m sure you won’t,” said Elizabeth.She almost let slip that she was looking for a sole spouse, but it felt too much like a promise. Instead, she gestured to the right bowl.“Your turn.”Daisy chose a slip of paper and unfolded it.“What is your favorite dessert?”Elizabeth wasn’t sure if she was supposed to answer provocatively or literally. She took the safe approach. “Apple cake.”Daisy seemed pleased enough with this answer. She smiled and looked away to resist saying something.“Are you thinking about one of your preferences?” Elizabeth guessed. “Is that your favorite too?”Daisy shook her head.“Are you thinking about how good you are at something?” Elizabeth tried again.Daisy did not quite nod, but the deepening of her smile gave confirmation.“How good are you at baking apple cake, Daisy?”The smile became a grin before Daisy reined it carefully back in. “I am competent, my lady.”Before Elizabeth could give her the right prompt to allow her to brag a little harder, Jane announced the time to switch.The group of aspirants waiting against the wall shifted one space to the right, with the one on the far right sashaying across to the far left so that they could each approach a new table and trade places with the aspirant there. # Elizabeth had to admit, it would be easy to get used to this. So much beauty, so much polished flirtation, so much hope and eagerness focused on her.She could have done without the distracting behavior of the other ladies, however.Everything had started out well enough, but as the game went on, most of the ladies grew obnoxiously bored with it. Countess Vera of Arbelle, on Elizabeth’s left, had started ordering her aspirants to sit on the armrest of her chair instead of the stool, so that she could fondle each of their muscle groups in turn, while barely pretending to listen to their answers to the questions.Lady Mary of Dinore, two seats to Elizabeth’s right, had swept both bowls off the table to shatter on the floor, and was directing each aspirant to dance for her among the fragments, before pulling them across her lap and spanking them soundly for no reason at all, not even a pretense of one.Jane showed no interest in correcting this clear violation of the guest rules. Not as long as Lady Mary was the one committing it, anyway. Elizabeth was quite sure she herself could not have gotten away with such disregard.Not that she wanted to.The aspirants were so sweet and dutiful already. How hard was it to show them even the slightest bit of respect?After a while, Elizabeth found herself wanting to apologize for what each aspirant had already been subjected to by the time they reached her table.Most of them did a good job of hiding their feelings about this treatment, but it weighed visibly on Gabriel.He arrived in front of Elizabeth with his skinny shoulders raised cautiously toward his ears. He averted his gaze from hers, but only by a few degrees so that he could watch for oncoming attacks.“Hello, Gabriel, I’m Elizabeth. You have my permission to sit and to speak as freely as the code allows,” Elizabeth recited her recently perfected introduction. “I’ll do my best to give you more specific permissions as they come up.”Gabriel looked at her with a more suspicious, evaluating gaze than she’d seen on an aspirant so far, as he perched himself on the stool.Elizabeth examined him in return. He looked about as different from the others as was allowed, she realized, in every possible way. His dark brown hair was washed and brushed, but fell mostly loose around his shoulders, down to his waist. Only two sections, at his temples, were braided and tied together with a ribbon in technical compliance with the code.His lips were painted, but with a more natural tone of pink.His eyebrows were groomed, any stray hairs removed, but while the other aspirants’ brows were plucked back to thin, arched lines, his retained an expressive thickness that made his gaze more intense.His look might have been harsh, almost unmanly if it weren’t for his large, delicate Adam’s apple. The way it fluttered in time with his thoughts would have made him look soft and pretty even in knight’s armor.

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