Conis bit her lip nervously as she sat in the litter. The curtains were both opaque and closed, but she knew very well where the four Enforcers were taking her, even if she had never been there before. The seat was both the largest she had ever seen and the most luxuriant, but despite that she could not seem to find a comfortable position.
The litter was a common sight on Angel Island, but thus far she had managed to avoid seeing it from the inside. It had one purpose, and one purpose only: to carry God Enel's brides from Angel Island up to Enel's domain, and then back again when he tired of them.
Every few weeks, four enforcers would come down to the village, bearing the litter on their shoulders. The former queen would disembark, and then all of the village's girls would be lined up, and from them the enforcers would pick a new queen. No girl, no matter how young or old, was safe. She would be dressed in the finest garments, perfumed with the most expensive scents, and then carried here.
To Upper Yard.
Conis had spoken to some former royalty. They never said anything bad-nobody ever did, nobody ever could-but they had said enough that Conis could piece together how horrible it was. Your every thought, your every expression, analyzed and monitored every waking moment.
Of course, God could do that anyways, and did. But when you were on Angel Island, your heretical thoughts could go unnoticed among the crowd. You had the protection of numbers. But on Upper Yard, by his side, you were like an open book to him. Every moment, he was reading you for the smallest sign of betrayal or sedition.
The litter was set down, and the curtain to her right pulled aside. She belatedly banished all thoughts of doubt and fear-too late, too late, he would have already heard them-and breathed deeply, trying to look as stately as possible.
The goat-like enforcers bowed low as she stepped out of the vehicle, their appearance one of respect, but it was a farce. To them she was one of many queens, a temporary plaything for their master. She was a joke, a toy. They rose to their feet and walked with her, two on each side, a false honor guard. She walked forward with as much grace as she could muster, and as she approached she caught her first glimpses of God Enel.
She had been warned that he would seem strange to her, but nothing could have prepared her for how...alien he looked. Although she had lived under his rule for her entire life, she had never before actually seem her Lord. His nose was unnaturally wide, and ridged. His earlobes stretched all the way down to his chest, and there was a golden earring set in each. Perhaps the oddest of all was the great metal hoop attached to his back, which circled his head like a great halo. Four drums were set into the hoop.
He had no wings, nor antennae. For a moment Conis wondered if he had cut them off to have the hoop attached, before she banished the unworthy thoughts.
-control control you must maintain control-
"Are you my new queen?" Enel asked, reclining on his great sofa.
"I am, God Enel," she said, prostrating herself on the ground before him. He clucked his tongue disapprovingly.
"No, no, this will never do!" He said, pushing himself upright. "You are a Queen, not the common rabble. Stand up, and come sit by my side. You must show me your respect differently now that you have joined my court."
One of the Enforcers snickered. it was clear to Conis what was meant by that. She'd been warned about that too, and had been trying her very best not to think about it as she rode up here.
Enel turned to the Enforcer and frowned.
"Do you find something amusing?"
"N-no, Lord Enel."
"Liar. I can see it in your thoughts. You were thinking lewd thoughts about my queen."
Enel extended one hand, and lightning crackled at his fingertips.
"I will not tolerate such behavior towards my queen. She is to be treated with respect."
The enforcer fell to his knees, his eyes filled with fear.
"Please, Lord Enel, spare me!"
"One Million Volt Vari," Enel said, and a large burst of lightning shot forth from his hand, striking the enforcer through the chest. Smoke poured forth from the enforcer's goat-like mouth as he fell backwards, his chest a blackened ruin.
"Get that meat out of my sight," Enel said, gesturing laconically. Two of the other enforcers hustled their fallen comrade's body away.
Conis was in shock. Enel's expression had not changed once during the entire proceedings, not even as he struck the killing blow. It was somehow worse than if he had enjoyed it; There was nothing behind Enel's eyes, not greed or anger or even satisfaction. This was the sort of man-God, God, always call him God-who would kill you on a whim and not even care, and that terrified her.
And so she was very surprised with herself when she strode forward and spoke with a steely tone.
"Was that prudent, God Enel? What purpose does it serve to kill your own men over such a minor offense?"
The moment the words left her mouth, Conis wished she could snatch them out of the air and swallow them. Some insane part of her, the part that was maintaining the Queen persona, had kept functioning when the rest of her had seized up. Her insides froze, and her mind kept turning about a litany of he's going to kill me, oh God please don't let him kill me, he's going to kill me...
The silence was broken by God Enel bursting into laughter.
"Very good! My enforcers chose well this time."
Conis let out a breath that she hadn't even realized she was holding. Somehow, through some miracle, that had appealed to him. She wasn't going to die. Yet.
"More men can always be found," Enel explained as he gestured for her to sit beside him, "but there is nothing more important that proper respect. If a man disrespects you, he has disrespected me as well. Better to pluck out an offending tumor than to allow it to blossom into a fatal cancer. Now come. Sit."
Conis floated forward, then sat at the head of his couch. She crossed her legs demurely and awaited his next move.
God Enel reclined on the couch once more, this time with his head propped up on his elbow, directly above her lap.
"To your left," he said. "Grapes."
Conis blinked, looking faintly puzzled for a moment, then suddenly understood. She reached over and pulled a grape from the vine, popping it into his mouth. He chewed for a moment, swallowed, and she inserted another.
This was something she could handle. She quickly fell into a routine. Grape. Chew. Swallow. Grape. Chew. Swallow. Over and over again, this pattern repeating itself for hours.
She became so entrenched in the routine that it took her a moment to realize that she was being spoken to.
"What do you think, my queen?"
For a moment Conis was at a loss. As her mind pulled into focus, she could see that one of the low-ranking priests stood before them, a scroll in hand, reading off a request from one of Angel Island's inhabitants.
"Oh, that's really not my place-"
"You are my queen, aren't you? You can make this decision. You there," he said, addressing the priest, "read the request again."
"Yes, my Lord," the priest said, clearing his throat. "'My most high and holy God, I humble myself before you. I fear that I must ask you for a boon. Two months ago, you struck down an infidel outside of my home with your Light of Judgment. I do not doubt that his sins were as grievous as any other criminals, and that your judgment was just. However, the Light of Judgment also destroyed my home, and I have no money with which to rebuild. I must therefore beseech you, in your infinite wisdom, to consider my case and deliver whatever compensation, if any, you consider fair.'"
One part of Conis was too terrified to answer, for fear of saying the wrong thing and invoking God's wrath upon herself. But the other part, that part that was playing the role of his Queen, spoke up immediately.
"Give him enough money to rebuild whatever you have cost him," she said. "It costs you almost nothing, compared with your great treasure stores, and it is good to show the commoners that you can be generous as well as vengeful."
For a moment, Conis was terrified that she had spoken incorrectly, and that Enel would kill her like he had that Enforcer, but he simply nodded.
"See that it is done," he said, and the priest bowed low and walked away.
Enel sat upright again, and leaned backwards.
"You are one of the more interesting queens I have had in me time here," he said to her. "Most of the women brought up here are useless, cringing nothing. Not even worth my time. You are far more interesting than that."
For a moment, Conis felt a bolt of absurd pride and relief. If all those other girls could survive this, she could too. The good feelings fled as she saw him begin adjusting his voluminous sashes and pantaloons.
"Now," he said as he freed his erect manhood from the cloth, "Let's see if you perform as well in your other duties."
His expression did not change as she reluctantly shed the fine cloth and fur in which she had been dressed, leaving it to pool at her feet. His expression did not change as she blushed, trying to somehow ward off his gaze despite her exposed condition. His expression did not change as she straddled him, or as she impaled herself upon his erect shaft, breaking her maidenhead. It did not change one bit as he took her roughly, right there before his entire court.
If his face betrayed any emotion at all, it was a mild amusement.