History lesson leads to a future for Mattie and Joann.
I won't have you beheaded."
The crowd let out a collective sigh of relief. Until.
"I'll behead Kajira instead, if you don't agree to giving her the strapping."
"You can't do this!" Amir protested.
"He is the Sultan. He can do as he pleases." The second wife chimed in, maliciously.
"Do you agree? Or shall I call for the Executioner?"
Amir ran his hand through his hair. "You give me no choice."
"Excellent. Let us walk down to the courtyard together." The Sultan took one of his wives on each arm and inclined his head. Amir followed, with a heavy heart.
In the courtyard an apparatus had been set up. Much like a sawhorse but with padding on its back and a series of leather and chain restraints at the legs. It was on a raised dais in the center, giving everyone an excellent view. Amir viewed the thing for a long moment then turned towards the Sultan.
"Punish me, instead." He insisted, softly.
"What! And let Kajira get off?" the Sultan kissed each wife on the cheek and turned towards Amir. "Besides, nobody wants to see you punished, Amir. Fetch the girl!"
In a moment the crowd parted to let the guard holding Kajira through. The girl shivered with apprehension, goosebumps visible on her body. She was wearing a thin cotton chemise and nothing else. The guard jerked her by the arm up onto the platform, where she stood, facing the crowd, eyes down. Amir watched this, heart sinking.
The Sultan smiled hawkishly at Amir and gestured towards the dais. "My guest." He said, motioning that Amir should mount the platform. Amir did so, slowly. "The ceremonial stripping, now." The Sultan reminded him. Amir turned towards Kajira.
"My apologies." He murmured before leaning forwards and ripping the chemise off of her body in one quick motion. Instantly her hands flew to her breasts and sex, concealing herself as best as she could. The crowd began to clap and shout.
"Now mount her on the horse." The Sultan said, face enigmatic. The wives smirked as Kajira was hoisted up and laid, face down, on the apparatus. Legs spread wide, arms stretched out in front, she was buckled securely to the 'horse' and couldn't move. A guard handed Amir a small rubber wedge and he lifted the girl's hips and slid it beneath her, forcing her bottom up and out, presenting the perfect target for the strap.
In this position the entirety of her sex and anus were visible to the crowd, and she was all too aware of that fact. She struggled vainly to close her legs but knew it was hopeless, and so she laid there, helplessly exposed to the strap and to the eyes of the crowd. And Amir.
For a moment he allowed himself to gaze on her body but then remembered the task at hand. The guard handed him a leather strap, well-worn, and about two finger thicknesses wide. He gripped it, and waited for the Sultan's proclamation.
"Fifty strokes." The Sultan cried, and there was a delighted murmur through the crowd. The second wife leaned close to the Sultan and whispered in his ear.
"I correct myself. Seventy five strokes!" the Sultan called out, and the second wife smirked.
"Sultan, I implore you..." Amir turned towards the Sultan and addressed him. "That is too harsh. She's but a girl..."
"A girl who angered and embarrassed my wives. Seventy five strokes, unless by your argument you'd prefer to make it one hundred?"
"Yes, Sultan." Amir said, turning grimly back to the naked, spread girl. He could see her thighs trembling visibly and he ran one hand down her back and leaned forward, whispering in her ear, "Be brave, my darling." Before raising the strap and stepping back.
TTTTTHHHHHHHWWWWWWAAAAPPPPPP! The first stroke came down directly across her buttocks, bisecting them with a thick, livid red weal. She screamed and struggled, knowing that this was the beginning of a very long, hard strapping.
Amir worked hard, bringing the strap flashing down across her bottom and thighs. He knew that the poor girl must be in agony but what choice did he have? She wriggled and screamed and the crowd chatted and occasionally laughed or clapped.