Coraline took a deep breath. And another. And a third. She counted 207 breaths before she felt calm enough to call Louise out of the corner. To Lou’s credit, she had been perfectly still the entire time, almost 20 minutes with her nose pressed firmly against the tent walls and her bottom surely stinging from several hard swats from the walk earlier. Of course, Lou hadn’t seen Coraline this mad in a very long time, if ever, and some usually dormant sense of self-preservation had kicked in.
When the call came, she turned, slowly, still not entirely sure if she wanted to leave the corner. She took a few faltering steps forward, though, swallowing her regret as she thought about how promising the day had started…
Louise and her fellow soldiers had been preparing for battle for months now. Endless days of training, first in the bitter cold of winter’s end, and more recently in the sticky wet heat of summer. This morning, they had finally gotten orders to move out. The ogre horde had been spotted. It wasn’t a rumor anymore, but a confirmed sighting of close to a dozen tall and floundering beasts making their way up the countryside.
Lou had been itching for action. She felt like she could perform the various drills they had been practicing in her sleep, which she
begrudgingly acknowledged was the point. Now she found herself marching steadily with her compatriots towards the caves several miles away, where they hoped the horde was holed up, lazy and full from their recent pillaging of a neighboring kingdom. The livestock had been decimated, but the quick thinking leaders had been wise to send a messenger at the beginning of the attack. There was a short period of time, 48 hours at most, when the creatures were lethargic as their bulging stomachs worked to digest their recent feasts. Queen Coraline had consulted with her cabinet in the sluggish light of the evening sun, and the night was spent plotting. It was half day’s march, and if they moved fast, they could catch the ogres while they sat with their gorged bellies, unaware and dopey. They marched before dawn the next morning.
Coraline road in the middle of the company, tall on her dark brown horse, her long hair in a thick braid, bouncing in time with the clopping of hooves. A few other leaders were on horseback, but the majority of the company, close to a hundred women and men, marched. Lou didn’t mind,though. She liked being on her feet, feeling the strength of her own legs propelling her steadily forward. She was near the front of the command, surrounded by the other members of her unit. They weren’t exactly quiet– if the ogres were sleeping, nothing would stir them, and if the ogres were awake, they’d retreat and reorganize. Ogres were mammoth creatures, brutally strong and lumbering, but aside from the occasional burst of speed, they weren’t particularly nimble. But aside from the clanking of shields and swords and the stomping of feet and hooves, there wasn’t much chatter. Coraline was keeping the pace brisk; even with the quick notice, it wasn’t guaranteed that they’d get there before the beasts roused themselves enough to begin searching for their next meal.
They were fighting either way. The rest of the small army, some two hundred other soldiers, were several miles behind them, preparing for the alternate plan, ready to fight should they see this smaller dispatch return.
Several hours later, a ripple went through the group as news was delivered from the scout. They creatures were sleeping just a mile ahead, in a copse of trees. They picked up the pace, and Lou watched the officers consulting with each other over the tops of their heads. The mission was simple. The orders were clear. The best ogres were to be killed quickly and efficiently, three soldiers to each leviathan, blows to be delivered through the rib cages and through the necks. Any sign of movement, retreat, regroup. No heroes. They had enough power not to take unnecessary risks.
Lou’s heart thumped hard in her chest as they crested the final hill and she caught site of the dozing giants. Their skin was mottled and brown, all of them lying naked against trees or each other, many of their knobby hands draped over their grotesque stomachs. Her heart beeped hard, but it beeped steadily, and when the command came, Louise Bordel was ready.
It was a quick and brutal, almost a slaughter. Two trolls had awakened at their swarm and were through digestion enough to fight back, a lumbering twelve foot tall female and a smaller, younger male, but they were quickly defeated. Others barely had time to swat with their over-sized hands before they were dispatched. Adrenaline poured through Lou’s body as she turned slowly around, gauging the bloody scene of the finished battle. Her sword remained up and ready, her muscled tense. She wanted more, needed something to do with the manic energy coursing through her body. That’s when she saw the troll charging down the side of the opposite hill, a gargantuan male with arms at a pendulum swing by his side. Lou’s feet almost moved of their own accord, and she began to charge the monster right back. Why he wasn’t with the rest of the horde, she didn’t know, but she would see to it that he would meet the same fate they had.
She heard the retreat command as it was hollered from a nearby officer, but she ignored it, listening instead to her muscles crying out, wanting to put to use all their latent skills. There was no use in retreating! This needed to taken care of, and then they could celebrate their victory tonight. Next came the muffled syllables of her name, but still she charged forward, closing the gap between her and the frenzied beast. Next came the beat of hooves, and she just had time to wonder who was coming to back her up before she felt her collar seized and her body jerked backward. Her training took over and she let herself fall into a crouch, turning quickly clockwise with her sword drawn. It smacked with a resounding clank into another sword, one pointed into the ground, unwavering as it blocked her apparently expected blow. Lou then looked up into the blazing eyes of Queen Coraline, standing there with her sword still vibrating and her hand still clutching Lou’s collar.
“Mount,” she ordered, and the adrenaline poured out of Lou like water out of a pitcher. She stumbled a bit as she stood, in part because of the small shake Cory gave her before letting go of her collar. As she sheathed her sword and mounted, she looked up into the face of the fast advancing ogre, now only a few dozen yards away. Now she could see that he towered over even the biggest of the felled trolls, at least 15 feet tall, and his muscles bulged under his oily green-gray skin. She had no idea how this one had been separated, but clearly he had and nothing indicated that he was in the tail end of a digestion phase. Just as she began to make out his cracked teeth in his gaping mouth, she felt Cory’s body against hers and the horse was turning, galloping away at breakneck speed.
Lou felt as small now as she had fearless just moments ago, riding like a child on the queen’s horse, the woman behind her with her arms reaching forward to hold the reigns. This was how mothers and fathers rode their children around. Lou saw rows of soldiers at the treeline, the best of the archers, all with their bows out and arrows drawn, and she pulled out of her embarrassment enough to realize that they hadn’t been shooting because she had been out in front, directly in their line of fire. She shrunk even further down, pressing her body against the horse, wishing she could disappear. She closed her eyes, but she heard the twinge and swish of arrows being let fly as soon as they crossed the line of defense. The pace of the horse slowed abruptly as they entered the copse and began navigating through the trees. They caught up with the rest of the company as the trees began to thin out. Lou saw several faces turn in her direction and then quickly away. Lieutenant Claire, on foot nearby, turned and began to walk toward them, her mouth set in a grim and angry line. “Dismount, Louise,” said Coraline tersely, the only words she’d uttered since commanding her to mount earlier.
Almost as soon as her feet hit the ground, Lou felt the iron grip of her lieutenant close around her arm and her backside was bombarded with hard, solid swats that made her yelp even through her clothing. She reached her free hand back but the officer avoided it with ease, spanking Lou’s thighs occasionally as they spun in a circle. Tears of both shock and pain filled Lou’s eyes at the onslaught, but it was over abruptly as she heard Coraline say above her head, “Lieutenant.”
That word held all the authority needed to make Claire stop spanking her wayward solider and turn to the queen, though she didn’t release Louise’s arm. “Take her to my tent,” Cory instructed, barely waiting for Lt. Claire’s sharp nod before turning away and heading back toward the battlefield. The relief Lou felt was followed immediately by dread as Lou watched her retreating queen. She hadn’t stopped Claire because she didn’t think the girl deserved it. In one short command, Louise heard everything the queen really meant. I understand you are angry, Lieutenant. But I am angrier, and I outrank you, so it is my displeasure she will feel on her backside when she tries to sleep tonight.
Claire released her arm as she delivered one final swat and barked “march.” And so she did. Cheeks ablaze and head down in shame, she marched toward camp.
When they had returned, Lou had been given a bucket of water and a change of clothes, for which she was grateful. She had examined the state of her backside discreetly as she bathed, noting several distinct red hand prints on her lower thighs from the lieutenant’s brief but hard spanking. Later she’d been given a small dinner, and other than that, she’d done nothing but pace inside the tent. It was bigger than the simple shelters the soldiers slept in, a place for meetings in addition being afforded with the queen’s station. Still, it only house a simple bedroll on one side and a small table with two chairs on the other. On the table sat the dark mahogany hairbrush with which Lou had had many encounters. Next to it was a thin riding crop that made her eyes widen. She’d never been spanked with a crop before. Usually the queen used one of her thick leather straps or heavy wooden paddles to make herself clear during the most serious of offenses. Louise thought of how absurd it would be for the queen to bring spanking implements to battle, though, so she must be making due. A hot blush rolled over her neck and face as she thought about how she was the reason the queen did need an implement.
Coraline had changed into a simple tunic and leggings, not unlike what Lou wore. She stood by one of the chairs, arms on her hips. When Lou was close enough, she reached out and grabbed the girl, pulling her the last few steps forward. Lou tensed, expecting the swats to start falling, but instead she found herself being hugged almost violently. Her arms automatically returned the embrace, and she found herself holding onto Cory as tightly as Cory was holding on to her. “You foolish, foolish girl,” the queen mumbled into her hair as they held onto each other. Despite her dread of the imminent spanking, Louise felt something loosen inside her chest. She realized some part of her feared the queen would be too disappointed to even punish her, that she had lost Cory’s love with her disobedience. She felt the warmth of her friend’s arms around her and knew that wasn’t the case. That didn’t stop her heart from jumping when the queen pushed her gently away a moment later, then settled down in one of the chairs. Lou reluctantly took the hand offered to her and let herself be tipped over Cory’s lap. She wasn’t surprised to feel her britches and underwear being pulled unceremoniously down to her knees. She wouldn’t get even a moment with their thin protection. She was just realizing that everyone in the camp was going to hear her getting her ass handed to her like an errant child when the queen’s hand found its target for the first time. Lou felt the breath leave her as swat after swat fell. She wiggled, trying to stay put and trying to stay silent, as the heat began to build. She wasn’t sure this even counted as a warm up, with Cory spanking so hard and so fast. Then the lecture started, which didn’t slow the spanking down at all– if anything, the swats were harder.
“What is the very first thing you learned when you signed up?” Cory demanded, peppering Lou’s thighs. “Obey orders, ma’am!” Louise squeaked out.
“Just the orders you want to follow?”
“All orders, ma’am!”
Just as Lou’s legs began to kick tiny little kicks, the swats stopped, only to begin again immediately. She shrieked as the brush made contact, and her legs pumped as she desperately tried to wiggle off the queen’s lap. She had tried so hard to be stolid, to take the spanking she knew she deserved, but the hard thwack of the brush on her already throbbing bottom was too much for Lou to take stoically. She kicked and pushed and tried to block, but nothing she did seem to affect the queen at all. She continued her line of questioning, making Lou answer and re-answer questions about who was in charge and who was not. She didn’t give the girl a chance for even a second to distract herself by counting strokes or disappearing into her mind. Louise felt every single smack, and by the time the queen was finished, tears were falling freely down onto the dirt floor. She lay there across Cory’s lap, her breathing hitched at she moaned quietly. She had kicked her pants and underthings away, but she felt sure her bottom was so swollen that she couldn’t fit into them anyway. Coraline pulled her up, but instead of pulling her in for a hug, Louise found herself kneeling on the chair the queen had just vacated.
“Please, Cory,” she heard herself beg as she saw the crop disappear from the table beside her, and she hated herself for saying it. Coraline walked around the chair, so they were face to face. She didn’t look sad or regretful, or any of the emotions Louise usually found in the queen’s face during a particularly harsh punishment. She saw nothing but grim determination as they made eye contact. “You will obey orders, Louise. You will obey my orders. Every last one of them.”
“I will, I promise,” Louise started to babble, but she was cut off abruptly as Caroline put a finger to her lips. “Prove it,” she said firmly before removing her hand and taking a step back. “Put your hands behind your head.” Lou hiccuped once, but obeyed. “Stick your bottom out.” Fresh tears rolled down the girl’s cheeks, but she bent forward, feeling the muscles of her abdomen tighten.
“Do. Not. Move.”
And then the queen was walking behind her again, and Lou heard the swish of the riding crop being tested, and then an eruption of new pain across her throbbing ass, enough to make her cry out, but she didn’t move her hands, didn’t unbend her body. She maintained the position through seven more blazing stripes, the last two laid across and below the crease of her bottom and thighs. And then it was over, and she was in Cory’s lap and Cory was hugging her, and she was blubbering apologies and nonsense and the queen was whispering comforting nonsense right back to her. She wasn’t sure how long she sat there, turned sideways against Cory like that, head nuzzled against the queen, but eventually she started to doze off, the day’s events and the harsh spanking zapping all of her energy. She was stood gently, her underwear tugged back on and up a moment later, and guided to the bedroll, gasping slightly when her bottom brushed the hard ground. A second bedroll was laid beside her own, and Coraline climbed into it, every bit as exhausted as the girl beside her. Louise fell asleep to the steady throb of her swollen backside and the queen’s fingers running through her short hair.
She awoke with a groan at dawn, the pain in her bottom every bit as fresh as it had been hours ago when she was climbing into bed. Coraline was already up, of course. The woman never slept. Louise got up gingerly, walking in the dim light of the rising sun toward the small table. There was a bowl of oatmeal and a roughly hewn mug full of strong black coffee there for her. She grimaced at the though of sitting, and decided to take her breakfast standing up. She let out a long, beleaguered sigh and peeked her head out of the tent. It was going to be a long march home.