Teresa is compromised and plans are made to compromise the King
Chapter 6 Compromise
Mother Superior Sanchez called her Zealotor, Sister Ramirez into the office. “What do you think of our new Novitiate, Teresa?”
“A very attractive girl,” Ramirez answered. “She’d make a welcome addition to the stable. In addition she’s educated and has potential for operating outside the convent.”
“That remains to be seen. We’ll proceed slowly with this one…"
Her father is the Queen’s Secretary and her mother a Lady In Waiting," said Sister Ramirez. “Someone who knows their way around the Court would be invaluable.”
“Her parents are New Christians," answered Consuelo, “and no doubt pleased with their daughter’s choice….It’s a proof they take their faith seriously.”
“How do you plan to proceed?”
“In the usual way at first, but then slow the pace and see exactly what we have with her.”
“She created quite a stir when the coach departed from Madrid. It seems her boyfriend was none other than Count Ricardo Quintillion, the King’s recent appointment to the Hemandad. They had quite an exchange.”
“One of the other Novitiates told me she rebuffed him in front of the Court and he pleaded and wept like a schoolboy….”
“You don’t say…? Now that has possibilities,” replied the Reverend Mother (RM).
“Plus, she has a very unusual and somewhat annoying habit…She’s forever surrounded by stray dogs and cats and when you speak to her she often answers indirectly, pretending reply through them.”
"Yes, for example, I asked her yesterday what a kitten was doing in her room.” She replied…. “'Tell Sister Ramirez, little Kitty Cat that you dropped by for a snack…' There’s even a raven that comes by in the morning and can be seen perched on her window sill.”
“I think I see a connection here. Antonio will be arriving tomorrow and he’s very good at breaking the new ones in.”
“He certainly gets a lot of practice.”
“The first time is always the hardest for a novice," replied the RM. “She’s probably a virgin and that can be the most difficult step."
“What approach do you plan to take?”
“I’m beginning to see what needs to be done. We’ll confront her with a hard choice and I’m sure she’ll compromise herself…, they always do, one way or the other. “
An hour later there was a knock at the door to the RM’s office.
“I have Teresa,” Sister Ramirez said opening it.
RM Sanchez was behind her desk holding an official looking document. “What do you know of this summons Teresa? “She asked, “It says you're being called before the Sacred Court….”
“I’m aware of no summons,” Teresa answered in dismay.
“It’s alleged here that you speak in tongues with animals….a trait common to those who practice the Occult.”
“I love animals, Reverend Mother. I have no brook with sorcery.”
“Have you given anyone cause for grievance?”
She paused, “Only my estranged boyfriend, Ricardo de Quintillion. He’s a womanizer and I told him to leave me alone. “
“Is this the same …de Quintillion who now heads the Hemandad?”
“Yes Reverend Mother. Do you think he's behind the summons? “
“Perhaps... Where did this confrontation take place? “
“At the Chapel in the Palace courtyard, In the midst of family and friends gathered to see us off.”
“I’m afraid you showed poor judgment in speaking publicly against him.”
“What does this mean?”
“It means you're about to answer for your foolishness. It alleges here that you’re a Witch.”
"Dear God! I’m charged with Witchcraft?”
“So it says, although I’m confident that God will protect you from the allegations… The magistrates, however, are quite another matter. In proving your innocence you'll realize the full extent of their debauchery."
“What will they do?”
“They'll question you, each according to his nature, and in getting to the bottom of the "Truth" you'll get to see first- hand their vulgar and obscene natures.”
“But I've done nothing wrong…”
“It’s not your wrong-doing that offends. The Hemandad in the past year has taken the King's mandate to new heights of abuse. They use their power in dark and sinister ways… Sometimes in revenge, they round up innocent suspects for the Sacerdotal Court. No doubt he's the one behind this.”
“Why Mother, why?”
“Who knows? You’re young and desirable...,perhaps because you embarrassed him..., maybe because the virtue of our calling excites the evil in his black heart…but I tell you this…..better that you had remained silent, than endure the “taming” that awaits you now. It's the explanation behind this summons.”
“Is there no other recourse?”
“Hmmmm, Father Bernardo has been able to intercede in the past. You might not be aware but he has the ear of the king; so much so that our Monarch uses him exclusively for confessions and trusts him implicitly in the stewardship of his soul.”
“Will you tell him of my desperate plight and petition him to help me in this desperate hour?”
“I can't make any promises. Asking for his intercession could put his soul in jeopardy.”
“How is this so?”
“He would be required to do a type of exorcism that is not common in these times. It’s a most dangerous form of inquiry that could lead to an eternity in hell.”
“I don’t understand….”
“An alleged sorceress must be interrogated while the flesh is joined in intercourse.”
“Oh my goodness," Teresa uttered in shock!
"'A Witch cannot lie or cast enchantments when so encumbered," said the Mother Superior, in a matter of fact tone of voice.
“Then we would have to be…”
“Yes, my child… You would have to be coupled as one. Perhaps you would rather take your chances with the Hemandad and not put your soul at risk?”
“I would, but I'm so frightened. Surely if we act, untainted by self- interest, at great peril to our salvation, then God would forgive us.”
“So Father Bernardo has reasoned in the past and so he might again. Be brave my child. It happens that tomorrow he will spend the night here. I will go and present your case. He's a man of great influence and could one day become Bishop.”
“Will you have need of me tonight?” asked Father Bernardo.
“Yes Antonio. I’ve work for you.”
“What ruse are you using this time?”
“…It was The Sacerdotal Court trick. “
“And she believed you?”
“Haven’t they all?”
"Is she a virgin?"
"I suspect that will be the case."
"Don't we have enough girls already for our purposes?"
"The need for our service increases daily. She’s young and pretty and will prove a useful addition."
"I defer to your judgment."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence....I've only been doing this for twenty years..."
"What time will she be by?"
"Seven tonight...break her in firmly, in the usual way."
"How many sessions will she take?"
"Considering her upbringing and sheltered life, I imagine three of four. We’ll bring this one along a little more slowly. Certainly no more than five and we’ll have her accustomed enough. Then we can put her on a regular schedule."
“’I’ve word that you're been selected as Reverend Mother to the new Convent at Segovia. Congratulations, that's quite a promotion….Your appointment is forthcoming.”
"Loving you and fearing God are the only rewards I ask."
"How can you still love me..?"
"We do not choose love," she sighed.
Teresa knocked tentatively on the door. It opened and a handsome priest smiled kindly down at her. "You must be Father Bernardo,” she spoke nervously.
“And you must be Teresa,” he answered in a gentle baritone. “Come inside.”
She stepped into the cell. There was a table with a candle and a small cot in the corner. “I’m in desperate need, Father. I’m to be brought by the Hemandad before the Sacred Court on charges of Witchcraft. “
“And what’s the basis for the allegations?”
“There is no basis. I rebuffed a Noble...A man of position and power. The charges are in retaliation.”
“So you’re not a Witch?”
“No father, I’m an Initiate, working to one day be worthy of the Sisterhood.”
“I had to be sure,” said the Priest, “So...what remains is to validate your claim and see it set aside. The Reverend Mother told me they won't be picking you up 'til Wednesday. That gives us time to correct this travesty of justice.”
“Oh bless you father. I know how difficult this must be and apologize for what I have to ask.”
“I must admit,” he replied, “the very thought fills my heart with trepidation. I hope you realize the risk to our salvation?”
“Yes! Yes!” she said, taking a grateful knee and kissing the hem of his robe. “Can you grant me absolution?"
"It's within my power to do so and before we finish I'll grant you immunity from all sin."
From this vantage point she noticed a protrusion, beneath his habit. Then, she realized the cause and caught her breath.
“Yes Sister,” he said consolingly as he put his hands out to hers. “The time is at hand and that dreadful moment approaches. Are you prepared? Did Mother Superior explain?”
“She did and I’m reconciled.”
“Then take off your robes and let me catch a glimpse of you.”
Teresa pulled the habit over her head and stood there in undergarments.
“The rest,” said the priest gesturing.
She removed the binding and her breasts spilled out. They were full, the size of plums, with brown nipples that perked up from the centers.
His eyes shifted downward and he motioned to continue.
She slipped out of her under girding and stood facing him. In the light he couldn't see the blush but it was evident enough. His eyes devoured her. She modestly shifted from foot to foot in embarrassment.
“Go lay down on the cot,” he said and began removing his robes.
She followed his bidding.
“Spread your legs.”
Her thighs opened and he climbed atop. Taking himself in hand he searched about, found the opening and inserted his manhood. She squirmed. It slipped inside tearing her hymen. The sting brought tears. She winced as it wormed deeper, struggling to accommodate the girth. With a groan his full weight came to bear and she began to sob.
“The worst is past,” he spoke reassuringly. “Relax and lay still." Pausing he took his finger and circled her lips. "There is still the question that must be asked.”
She mouthed the tip, eyes wide, tasting the saltiness as he drew in and out. Simultaneously she felt, deep inside, the pulsing of his hard sinew inserted to the limits of her flesh.
“Does it still hurt?” he inquired.
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she nodded.
“Do you know what I’m about to ask?”
“If I’m a Witch..."
Time seemed suspended and she twisted, trying to get comfortable. Perspiration flowed, running down her brow, onto her neck and breasts. Her nipples grew hard as he began to short stroke. She responded to his urging, excitement pounding in her heart. In a lather she began to wiggle as he coaxed, yielding to the insistence of his intercourse.
"When the time comes you must answer faithfully.”
“Yes Father, I…”
“Hush!” he said softly, "Not yet..." He drew back and began to work in and out. She struggled to answer his lead... to follow her instincts amid a storm of unfamiliar sensations. A tingle radiated from his member, pulsing with every heartbeat. Frustration began to build and desire cried out with a yearning she had never known.
“It's not a question to be taken lightly,” he continued. His held her forearms pinned to the mattress and with his tongue began to play about her nipples. Her bosom heaved. He drew back, took a deep breath and pushed with a sudden insistency. Pleasure and pain became one. She groaned crying out in a mixture of anguish and discomfort
His face dropped to her neck and she felt his breath inside her ear. In a whisper he warned softly. "When I ask, you must speak the truth."
Her hips writhed and her back squirmed beneath him. "I will” she promised…"I swear I will."
"Don't even think about deceit."
"I won't, I won't... I swear to you I won't"
His man scent filled her nostrils with a raw and undiluted odor. She began to pant, chest heaving.
“Are you a witch?” The words came with unexpected shock followed by a wave of oppressive heat. She bridged arching her back as an overwhelming need surged over her.
“No! No!” she answered in the throes, as the world teetered in a rush and threatened to collapse.
"Forgive me Lord!" Antonio cried out. With that he forsook all restraint and began cruelly thrusting in and out. For long moments he assailed her trembling body before at last slaking her womb with the seed of his lust. When he was satiated, he lay quietly atop for a long while. At length he withdrew, stood and went over to the basin. “Get dressed and tell Reverend Mother you're vouchsafed." There was a note of cynicism in his voice.
Teresa garbed in haste. Then, pausing at the door, she made the sign of the cross and spoke anxiously. "You're sure I'm absolved?" she asked still uncertain and pleading for reassurance.
"Your innocence has protected you," he answered.
Clutching her rosaries the young woman sighed to heaven, wiped her eyes and ran off down the corridor.
Father Bernardo took some bread and cheese from his valise along with a bottle of wine. Sitting down at the table he set to work. As first secretary to the Cardinal there was work to do before morning. There were three letters and a document that demanded his immediate attention. He labored for about an hour before being interrupted by a knock. He arose, slid the bolt and peered outside. It was Reverend Mother Sanchez...
"Consuelo," he said softly.
She went straight to his arms and they embraced eagerly. Her lips quivered as she stretched upwards on her tiptoes. They hugged long, swaying back and forth in the comfort of a long familiarity. At length he released his clutch and she stepped back.
"And how did it go with Teresa?"
"I was her first," he replied…"I popped her and she bled all over the cot."
“Good, the first step is always the most difficult.”
“How will you proceed with her?”
“In this case I think we will place her in indoctrination and see how she responds. In about a month we’ll hand her over to Brother Juan for a few more sessions. When he finishes with the break in, she can do a year in- house; then if everything works out she can start training as a Fallen Angel.”
“How much longer are you going to use me in this role?”
“I’ve no intention of changing that. You’re perfect for the job…. plus if we don’t look after you behind these walls how long before you start soliciting in the confessional?”
“Heavens forbid that…If you weren’t so stubborn, you could take care of my needs by yourself."
"Well, get that out of your mind. We’ve been through this over and over. When you put me with child I swore it would never happen again. That’s one vow I intend to keep."
"It amazes me how you can use others for an intimacy you’re so capable of providing yourself."
"It is because I need you in other ways, and you’ve become an important part of the training here."
"…Are we managing to keep everybody happy?"
"We're doing very well and not just with the priests. There are others we touch... men in very influential positions... able to bring power we need to the church."
He heard in her words that ruthless zeal he found so disconcerting. The same fanaticism he often heard in the voice of Frey Torquemada and Martinez. He pretended to share their fervor but deep down he sometimes wondered if Jesus shared the same sentiments with these Dominicans who took such liberty with his message of love. Still he was weak and knew it. Consuelo manipulated him shamelessly and he was hopelessly in love with her.
"It’s not easy Antonio, standing by while you do this work, but it’s a necessary compromise. After bearing your child I forswore the greatest of a woman’s pleasures…. ‘Until then I’d deferred the vow of chastity but took it afterwards, leaving God’s love to fill my chalice."
"Isn’t your conscience at all troubled by the compromise?"
"If we are to achieve the dominion of the One True Faith and suppress the doctrines of the Infidels, we must not quail before the often harsh demands that are placed upon us. For some the struggle is with the sword, for others evangelizing the faith and for me, providing a gentle incentive to those who serve our purpose as well as a reminder of what to expect if they renege on their promises. That and working with the Fallen Angels in ferreting out false believers. That's my life's work. Only when we expel the heretics and grant exclusivity to Catholicism can we dispense with this onerous means.
"Amen," said Antonio, hoping to get her off a subject.
"I wish we could lead a more normal life, and yes I'm often troubled by the compromises, but having your stem is no longer possible. There are many eyes that follow my every move. I would not survive another pregnancy. My enemies would welcome it."
"And who is it that would dare oppose you…?"
"There are those who sometimes forget what they do behind these walls and need to be reminded. The power that drives some men to greatness is the same that compels them to come knocking in the dead of night to escape their dark compulsions. Many of these proliferates have little love for me and dislike being reminded when the bill comes due. They strain beneath the yoke and are not always willing to return the favors we demand of them. There would be a great and collective sigh of relief if I were to drop suddenly off the edge of the earth."
"Yes," he answered, "Your pregnancy brought us to the brink of disaster but somehow we managed. Yet, were we not rewarded for the effort? Does your heart not race every time you see our son?"
She sighed wistfully. "You know it does…Would that I could see Jose more often."
"At San Thomas, you'll have the opportunity," he answered.
"So, let us turn our attention now to the huge responsibility Frey Torquemada has set before us." she said changing the subject…"I'll provide the means and you must provide the opportunity.”
“I often take the King’s confession in the Palace Chapel, "replied Antonio. "There’s a private room next to my office used for devotionals. I'll send him there to do penance and we can have a surprise waiting.”
“It sounds all too easy. However it is the consequences that concern me."
“Great risks and rewards go together. I agree that if something should go wrong it could mean our heads.”
“Then we must see that nothing goes wrong…”
“Who do you intend to use?
“A good choice…not so attractive as to excite suspicion and pretty enough to catch the King’s eye.”
Consuelo shook her head, "This is a dangerous thing we do and I wish all the deceit weren’t necessary. We must be wary.”
"I hear you my love…" he replied. “I only wish I could do with you, what I did earlier in the evening."
"Stop It! Antonio, just stop it… you excite my ire… It's hard enough to abstain without your pleading looks and bedroom eyes."
He fell to his knees. "I need you Consuelo and if you weren’t so stubborn, you’d give me what I yearn for".
She stamped her foot and her eyes flashed. "I’m warning you, we’ve sinned enough this day and tested our Lord’s patience. It's time for you to atone. Come now, submit yourself... Hurry up...you know what must be done. Make your shoulders bare… forehead to the floor."
He pulled off his habit, knelt and lowered his head to the stones.
"Get it over with," he pleaded knowing the necessity and longing for the relief that followed. His spirit, burdened with guilt cried out for surcease. She went to the cupboard and reached up onto the top shelf. Resting out of sight was a flail, the barbs covered by tightly wrapped thread. It was designed to avoid the slash but still deliver a painful sting. She raised it up over his muscled back and brought it sharply to bear.
“This is for Rosa, afraid of her shadow." She flicked it with a snap of her practiced wrist. He stiffened. "This is for Tina and her tears, Snap!” He groaned. "This is for Margarita who you had to keep reminding…, Snap! Snap! Snap!" He cried out. So it went for the better part of an hour until finally…"and this is for Teresa….who you deflowered this night." She delivered the last stroke with a vengeance and he fell forward, onto the hard floor. His back was a crisscross of red welts.
"Forgive me father, for I have sinned." he implored.
"Indeed you have Antonio, and so have I. It's an evil thing we do."
"Rising to his knees, he pleaded. "I love you Consuelo… I always will."
A thrill of anticipation raced through her. She gathered the material about her hem and pulled it up, revealing her womanhood. Stepping forward she pressed it to his mouth as his hands took hold her hips. She coaxed his cheeks imploringly, running her fingers through his hair. He sighed, found the flower and began giving her pleasure. “Drink deep of God’s love,” she sighed.