Here She Rules is a blockbuster because it is a fun fantasy that gives the reader a chance to experience an exotic, exciting alternate universe filled with adventure.
A hot wind was blowing lightly outside the Dojo when Cassandra Powell got into her car and pulled it slowly into the deserted street, she was heading home after a long Karate class and was very much looking forward to a long hot shower and a glass of wine. Enjoying the icy air from her vents, she slammed on the brakes when a strange glowing mass materialized before her car. Two hours of karate had taken it out of her that night, but she didn’t think she was far gone enough to be hallucinating.
Her mouth dropped open as the strange glow enlarged itself before her eyes and she squinted at the eerie sight in front of her.
The hole in space was rough and jagged as if someone had used dull scissors to cut a hole in a space and it seemed to be absorbing the light from her headlights making it glow brighter in the darkness.
Against her better judgment she swung open the car door, stepped out of the car and the sultry night air hit her like a blow.
As she walked carefully towards the strange light, the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and a faint feeling of nausea assailed her. She almost turned back to the car when she felt almost compelled to move towards the glowing rend in the fabric of the night.
Always too curious for her own good, she reached out towards the anomaly, and just as her hand neared she felt an electric jolt and the sensation of being grasped around the waist like she had been grabbed by a giant hand and was sucked into the rift.
The last thing she saw as she lost consciousness were stars spinning around her and she hurtled through space.
Cassie’s eyes fluttering open to right sunlight filtering through the trees above her and pain ripping through her skull as she gingerly sat up, realizing it was full daylight and she was no longer in the city.
“What the Hell happened?” She asked aloud.
Vaguely feeling like she had been run over by a truck, she rose slowly to her feet, staring in wonder at the verdant tropical foliage around her. The sounds of the forest penetrated the fog in her mind as she tried to grasp what exactly had happened to her.
The memory of the strange light in the street slipped into her mind and she began to wonder if she had been in an accident and merely dreamed the whole strange chain of events.
Perhaps she was still dreaming, dreaming of a beautiful forest filled with the songs of birds and the soft breeze that ruffled the hair escaping her ponytail holder.
Cassie closed her eyes and took a deep breath, releasing slowly as she opened her eyes again. The same gorgeous green splashed violently with vivid reds, yellows and oranges.
Setting her feet to the path in front of her she began walking, certain at any moment she would wake up in the hospital or in the street, or anywhere but where she was.
“This is a Hell of a thing.” She said loudly, wondering if the sound of her own voice would be able to wake her from unconsciousness.
The only response was the loud squawking of birds in the nearby trees.
She looked closer into the foliage and saw small brightly colored birds that looked a lot like parakeets, and a couple of large parrots on higher branches that didn’t seem to be looking to favorably on her disturbing their naps.
She walked slowly down the worn path, rubbing her temples with both hands as her headache slowly receded.
She lost track of how long she had wandered down the path when she heard screams and the clashing of metal up ahead.
Instinctively she ran towards the sounds, skidding to a halt before the edge of the woods opened into a larger road where the scene of a battle was taking place before her shocked eyes.
A large group of women dressed in vintage leather battle apparel were engaged in a very grisly sword fight.
Cassie scanned the perimeter, sure she would see a camera crew and all that went with the movie sets that were so prolific around Atlanta these days, but no, it was all too real.
Gore and copious amounts of blood poured from the wounds of the women who lay on the ground, either dead or moaning from injuries they sustained.
Closing her eyes again, she choked back the bile that rose in her throat as she covered her mouth with her hand. Opening her eyes a she looked in awe at the full-fledged battle being waged in front of her.
To her right she saw a blond woman being attacked by two large, brutish women. Though the smaller framed woman was presently holding her own, her strength was obviously failing and Cassie could see that something was wrong with her shoulder.
Certain she was going crazy, especially since she really didn’t know who the good guys were or what was going on, she ran to help her.
Approaching the largest woman she drove a kick into the woman’s back with enough power to make her pitch forward into the grass. The other one whipped around and immediately threw a roundhouse punch at Cassie’s jaw, which she neatly blocked and then kicked her in the stomach. When the woman doubled over Cassie grabbed her by the hair and slammed her face into her knee, breaking her nose and knocking her out cold.
The first woman bellowed as she rose and lurched towards Cassie, who threw a round kick to the side of her head, dropping her on the ground next to her compatriot.
Breathing heavily, adrenaline pumping through her body, Cassie turned to check on the blond woman behind her who was kneeling on one knee, her sword held loosely in her good arm as she stared at Cassie in astonishment.
The sound of approaching footsteps drew their attention from each other and Cassie called out to the approaching women.
“I need something to tie them up with before they come around.”
A tall woman with dark hair approached first.
“There is no need.” She said as she and another soldier quickly dispatched the fallen two.
Cassie’s gaped in shocked.
A sound from the blond on the ground got her attention and she moved to help her up but was quickly surrounded by a bevy of tall, strong and well-armed women, their swords pointed at her heart.
“Easy! I just wanted to see if she was alright, her shoulder is hurt.” Pale faced, Cassie held up her hands to show she wasn’t armed and took a small step back.
“Your Highness, are you hurt?” The dark haired asked, kneeling down beside the woman.
“Yes Captain, but alive, thanks to this woman.” The blond woman’s voice was regal and richly toned.
They all had accents that Cassie just couldn’t place.
Cassie met the grey eyes of the Captain then looked at the women who surrounded her, their swords still drawn. She knew that assessing look; they were still unsure whether or not she was a threat to their queen and were sizing her up as an opponent.
Surreal was most assuredly the theme for the day and Cassie heaved a deep breath.
“Please tell me who we have the privilege of thanking for saving the life of our Queen?” The captain asked.
“My name is Cassie, Cassandra Powell.” Cassie could feel her head starting to swim and tried to slow her breathing. In, out. In, out.
“Could someone please tell me where I am and what is going on?” Her vision began to dim and her head spun wildly, pain coming back in full force with its accompanying nausea.
“Lady,” spoke the Queen, “you are on the borderlands of Erla, my Queendom. Are you lost?” The Queen looked closer at the stranger with her odd white clothing.
Cassie was definitely having a very bad feeling about all of this as she fought the urge to throw up.
“Erla?” she repeated weakly. “I was on my way home when a hole opened in the air in front of my car, and the next thing I know I am here in these woods. I really want to know what is going on!” Cassie’s hands balled into fists and immediately the twenty odd swords that had lowered where once again pointed at her heart.
Hysteria was settling in as she tried once again to slow her breathing, she looked at the dozen or so dead that littered the ground and bit back crazy urge to laugh.
“Did you say you were brought here by a rift in space?” The queen spoke to her.
“I-I think so, it was the last thing I saw before I woke up in this forest…”
The soldiers bearing changed and they looked at her with something akin to wonder.
“The portal has opened again Your Highness; this woman has come through the portal.” The chestnut-haired captain spoke out, excitement tingeing her voice.
The company of soldiers looked at her with curiosity and much less hostile glances.
“Welcome to Jiva and to Erla, Off-Worlder!” The Queen said. “We have been watching for the signs but did not expect you so soon. I thank you, great warrior, for your help in my time of need, my attackers were mighty soldiers and you vanquished them with your bare hands. I most certainly would have perished without your assistance against the barbaric Trevian pigs that attacked me.” The woman cradled her arm in her good hand, trying to relieve the pressure on her shoulder.
“Wait, you know how I came to be here? How do I get home?” Cassie swayed and stumbled a bit. “I don’t…. feel….so good……” as she crumpled to the ground she was deftly caught by the dark haired Captain before she hit the ground.
The woman placed her gently on the back of a horse while the others assembled a makeshift stretcher to carry their Queen back to their home.
“Captain, let us return swiftly to the palace to care for our guest and get my physician to do something about this shoulder.” The Queen’s voice shook with pain. “Leave a detail to take back our wounded and bury the dead.”
“Yes Your Highness, it shall be done.” Orders were given and the main body of the regiment turned and headed towards a glittering city in the distance.
Cassie fought through layers of consciousness to find herself lying on an opulently draped bed in an elegantly appointed room that had a decidedly Middle Eastern flair. Her head ached unmercifully as she stared at the draping fabric above her and the soft sound of a door opening had her sitting up abruptly, the pain in her head intensifying cruelly. She moaned and lowered her head into her hands, rubbing her temples.
“Forgive me Lady.” The rich toned voice was melodically deep and soothing. “I did not mean to awaken you; I only wished to see if you were well.” The words were spoken by the he man before her who could only be described as beautiful.
Jet black hair tumbled across his shoulders as luminous golden eyes observed her shyly before he gracefully dropped to his knees on the floor beside the bed, head bowed.
“It’s alright, I was awake. Who are you?” She asked.
“I am called Mika, if the names pleases you, if it does not I will be called whatever gives you pleasure.” His head remained bowed. “Our beloved Queen, Nera, has sent me to be yours, a gift for your valor.”
“A gift……?” Cassie swallowed convulsively.
“Yes My Lady. If I may say, it is an honor to belong to so brave and beautiful a mistress. Truly Lady, I am infinitely privileged to belong to one such as you.” He said.
“Mika, you know that I am not from this world, don’t you?”
“Yes My Lady, you came to us from the rift.” He replied.
“On my world things are very different from here,” she said and he nodded slightly, still kneeling and looking at the floor.
“Then tell me, is it customary for people to own other people here?”
“Yes Lady, in this country the men and lesser females are the chattel of the dominant females, as it is in many other countries.” He briefly felt curiosity about her world, but shrugged it away.
Cassie decided it was best not to comment at the time, she didn’t want to commit a faux pas that could potentially cost her life.
She contemplated the potentially delightful ramifications of a country ruled by women with beautiful men serving their every whim.
“Alrighty then.” She puffed out a breath, becoming more and more certain she was hallucinating and she was actually lying in a hospital bed with a concussion, or a coma or something to that effect.
She looked down, realized she was naked and snatched the sheet up over her bare breasts.
“Mika, where are my clothes?’
“They are being laundered My Lady, but her Highness the Queen has foreseen your needs and sent clothing for you. She charges me to say that, if you need anything else, anything at all, you need only say so and your needs will be met immediately.” His voice, warm and silky, was creating sensations in her belly.
“Ok, well, will you get them, I would like to dress.” She hadn’t finished speaking before he gracefully jumped to his feet and moved to a dresser on the other side of the room, quickly returning with a silken pile of clothing.
He stopped beside the low bed, held up a short, deep red tunic that was cut in Grecian style and looked at her expectantly.
Cassie swallowed; she wasn’t comfortable being nude in front of a stranger, even one that was apparently now her property. She gathered her courage and dropped the sheet before rising to her feet beside him.
Mika gasped silently, his new Lady was beautiful beyond his hopes. His eyes surreptitiously ran down the length of her body, taking her curves and the defined muscles from the years of martial arts training. Her hair was deep brown, shot with red highlights and her sparkling blue green eyes captivated him.
She was so beautiful and powerful he could not believe his good fortune, excitement at the thought of laying with her had his pulse racing.
Cassie was aware she was considered a pretty woman, however since her husband died she hadn’t felt very attractive or sexy, but the adoration and desire in this man’s eyes was making her feel absolutely gorgeous.
She felt a pang of guilt; this man was a slave, human property. How could she exist in a world that people were enslaved?
Perhaps this was just a very kinky dream or hallucination.
After Mika had finished dressing her she admired the fabric of the tunic she now wore, it fell just to mid-thigh, her arms were bare and there were no underwear, a fact that would take some getting used to. Mika slid a golden circlet up her arm to rest on her bicep that was forged to resemble a rampant fire breathing dragon.
When she asked he told her it was the mark of the Queen’s Defenders, an elite force of soldiers who duty was to protect the Queen from danger.
Cassie frowned slightly, not understanding why it had been given to her, but apparently she was now some sort of musketeer.
Her eyes landed on the bare skin of Mika’s chest and he straightened his tall frame under her scrutiny.
Unable to resist, she reached out and touched the tawny, satiny flesh.
Her hand glided across his muscled chest and she bit back a moan of sheer female appreciation as his breathing increased under her hand, she had the distinct pleasure of watching those golden eyes turn molten.
“You are so beautiful Mika.” Cassie smiled into his eyes, and he quickly lowered them, but not before she saw his look of pleasure.
“Are all the men of Erla like you?”
“My Lady, the men maintain themselves for the pleasure of our Ladies.”
“So, all of you have amazing physiques?”
Mika flushed deeply, his eyes still fixed on her feet.
“I believe I am considered handsome My Lady, but there are others you may find more pleasing….” There was a catch to his voice at the last and a fearful look on his downcast face.
Cassie lifted his face with her finger tips and his eyes met hers.
“Don’t be frightened Mika, I believe I am well pleased with you so far.” A broad smile covered his face and he was so compelling that she felt a strong shaft of desire.
“My Lady……” he spoke hesitantly.
“Her Beloved Highness requests that you join her in the throne room when you are clad, may I dress your hair?”
“Yes please Mika, and hurry. I would like to know more about this place before I leave.”
“You wish to leave Mistress? You have only now come through the rift; I don’t think you will find a better place to abide than Erla, and considering you have saved the life of our Queen you are exalted here!” His voice rose in distress.
Mika was alarmed, terrified really, at the thought of losing the woman before him. He dropped once again to his knees. He felt particularly blessed to be given to this woman and if he earned her pleasure might even become first among her slaves.
He was affected by her more than any other he had belonged to, her beauty, the scent of her skin and her low pitched voice all filled him with desire. To have such a woman as Mistress was beyond any dream he had ever had.
“Well, of course, I want to go back to my home.” She frowned slightly at his all too apparent distress.
“Oh Mistress, please forgive me for I must tell you the unhappy news. The portal opens only every one hundred cycles, and it has never taken anyone from our world. That we know of….” He raised fearful eyes to Cassie’s face; he had been beaten for less dreadful news in the past.
The blood drained from Cassie’s face and quickly sat on the bed, her headache roaring back full force.
“You mean that I can never go home, I can’t leave?” She dropped her head into her hands, rubbing her temples against the pain.
“Forgive me, please forgive me!” Mika spoke low but urgently, his heart beating hard in his chest. He was certain she would cast him out now, he just knew he would lose his beautiful, strong Mistress and the better life she could have brought to him.
Fear engulfed him and tears gathered in his golden eyes.
Mika had been the slave of a high ranking soldier in the Queen’s army who had perished in the raid in which Cassie had saved the Queen. She had been cruel, often using him violently and nearly always drunk when not on duty, he had been desperately unhappy in her thrall.
Mika’s household skills were impressive but he could never seem to satisfy his former Mistress and he longed for a Lady he could love, he believed Lady Cassandra could be such a Lady.
If she cast him off now he would be sold like the lowest of field slaves.
Cassie sat holding her pounding head, trying to digest the enormity of her situation when she heard him sniff quietly. He raised his tear filled eyes to hers in silent entreaty,
“Mika, what is wrong with you?”
“Please Lady; please do not cast me out. I will do anything to please you.”
“Cast…..Mika, don’t be ridiculous.” Cassie looked at him in wonder. “I am not angry with you I am just upset because I cannot go home.”
Like a child his face cleared immediately and he sighed, happy again.
“It is not bad here Mistress, you are esteemed and I live to please only you. I am happy to do so. Anything you want you need only speak it.” He smiled radiantly into her eyes and suddenly he noticed her continued rubbing of her head.
“Are you in pain My Lady? The Queen’s physician left a draught, it seems head pain is a side effect of a rift journey.” He pulled a small brown vial from a pocket on the belt that held up his brief loin covering and handed it to her.
“I will get you some wine My Lady for the physician said it would be very bitter.” He rose gracefully and moved quickly from the room and returned just as quickly with a cut crystal goblet full of a rich red beverage.
Cassie uncorked the vial and sniffed cautiously, it had no strong odor so she threw it back. The liquid was bitter and tasted faintly like aspirin so she swallowed it down and followed it with a sip of the sweet red wine in the goblet.
“Thank you Mika.” She cleared her throat and set the wine down on the floor next to the bed. “Come fix my hair, we shouldn’t keep the Queen waiting.” Cassie rose and Mika deftly brushed her hair then set a golden circlet atop her head to keep the hair from falling in her face.
“I hope that you can be happy here Mistress.” Mika smiled softly into her eyes and Cassie melted.
Adoration like this was addictive, she thought as she reached up to kiss his lips softly.
Mika eagerly returned the gesture and Cassie had to step back to keep from plundering his soft mouth and making them even later than they were.
Cassie indicated Mika should lead her to the Queen and she was amused at how uncomfortable he seemed in leading her, he was definitely more comfortable in a subservient role. She recalled all the times her husband would take her arm and usher her wherever they went, and smiled.
It seemed neither she nor Mika were comfortable in their present roles.
They approached a huge set of doors and Mika stepped behind her as they were swung open to admit them.
Cassie’s breath caught at the grandeur before her, the throne room was sumptuously appointed in marble and gold, beautiful statues that depicted armored women lined the walls and cherubs smiled down from the ceilings. Rich cushions were strewn about and elegantly clad women and those wearing soldier’s garb lounged or mingled throughout the room.
Cassie looked towards the end of the room and saw the Queen seated on a throne that was flanked by two smaller throne-like chairs.
Queen Nera stood when she saw Cassie approach and silence filled the room almost immediately, Cassie found herself the object of every eye and perspiration beaded on her lip, which she tried to casually wipe away without revealing her inner turmoil.
“Ladies,” The Queens voice rang out. “Today we welcome a portal traveler and hero, this is the Lady Cassandra who has come from the otherworld and saved my life this very morning. The marauding brutes of Trevia were routed and the victory was ours!” Nera smiled and held her hand out to Cassie, who had just arrived at the foot of the throne.
Cassie accepted the hand of the Queen and Nera smiled into Cassie’s eyes before she continued.
“Let us welcome her as one of our own and her status is of the highest due to her valor. Any desire she has will be fulfilled without question.” The crowd of women, courtiers and soldiers, cheered loudly and called out Cassie’s name.
“This day I bestow upon her the rank of General of my personal guard, if she will accept the position. General Sula, as you know, lost her life defending her Queen. I can imagine no better warrior to replace her than the one who saw me delivered from the barbarians.” The women cheered loudly once more.
Cassie’s jaw dropped and she snapped it closed quickly.
General of the Queen’s guard…?
She certainly had trained in martial arts, but they really hadn’t been truly Martial until this morning. She fought the nausea once again and her face burned with the blood that rushed to her head. She had to talk to the Queen, and quickly.
There must be some way of returning to her own world because Cassie was relatively certain she didn’t want to spend her life in this strange world, or in a coma, whichever was really happening to her.
“Wake up, wake up, wake up.” She chanted over and over again in her head but to no avail.
“Your Highness, I am deeply honored, but…” Nera didn’t allow Cassie to finish as she raised Cassandra’s hand and lifted her arm high as another wave of applause broke out.
“Come and sit Lady Cassandra, I know you have many burning questions, but let us be comfortable while you ask them.” Nera pulled Cassie up the steps of the dais and indicated she sit in the mini-throne to her right as Mika eased forward silently in a fluid, boneless movement to settle at the foot of her chair.
“Are you pleased with your gift?” Nera gestured to Mika who had turned to smile at the Queen and his Mistress.
“Very much so, he is beautiful and well mannered.” Cassie smiled warmly into his golden eyes and Mika flushed at her praise.
“Has he pleasured you yet? He is very skilled in the art of lovemaking. It was always a shame that he belonged to Brunga for she did not appreciate him as she should have. She was a good fighter, but savage.” The women gathered at the foot of the throne nodded and smiled appraisingly at Mika.
Cassie was speechless; they had absolutely no compunction in talking about intimate matters in a very open manner.
She cleared her throat.
“I have not yet Your Highness, I look forward to it.” Cassie choked out.
“Dar,” the Queen called out and clapped her hands. “The Lady Cassandra needs to fill her household, go to the procurer and bring the best of her lot for the General to choose from.”
“Yes Your Highness.” The guard bowed and swiftly left.
“Lady Cassandra, you have my attention, ask your questions.” Nera turned in her seat to look at Cassie who drew a deep breath.
“I don’t understand how I came to be here.” It came out in a rush.
“The portal that brought you to us opens once every one hundred years. Our history is full of the stories of portal travelers from your world. I will tell you that time is different here than there, from the histories we know that the rift opens on your side at random locations and in what is about a ten year span on your world, and here it is every one hundred. I do not pretend to be a student of the cosmos; truly this is only what I have learned from my teachers who keep the histories of this country and others.” Nera leaned back in her seat, warming to the tale.
“We have no idea how the universe chooses the traveler, but it invariably is a woman of strength and wisdom who enriches our world in some way. You are in lofty company as a portal traveler,” The Queen smiled. “I myself am a descendant of a Traveler.”
“So it is true then, I cannot go home.”
“Yes, that is true, however try not to be too downcast, you are a favorite of the Queen, it is a comfortable place and all your wants will be fulfilled as soon as you speak them.” Nera laughed. “There are worse fates you might have suffered, the last traveler landed amongst a very barbaric country and did not live long.” The Queens lips thinned. “We value the Portal Travelers in Erla and our histories tell the sad story of the fate of the last Traveler.”
“You are right, it could always be worse. I am just having a hard time accepting what has happened.” Cassie sighed. “I am very curious about your country and how things work here.”
“Ah, yes. I recall from the histories that your world is very different.” Cassie nodded and the Queen continued. “Our caste system is one where the Dominant Females (of which you are now one) rule. The Warrior class owns slaves, protects the Queendom and generally keeps the peace. Male pleasure slave answer to their Mistresses and are required to serve all women as needed, although it is common courtesy to not use another another’s slave without her consent, especially for pleasure, they should always be offered by their Lady before they are enjoyed.”
The Queen was warming to the subject and continued with spirit.
“Female slaves are usually women born of slaves that do not excel in combat training, or are unable to physically or mentally discharge any of those duties. Combat is the only way a female born of slaves can ascend beyond her birth. Field slaves are the lowest and generally they are the dimwitted or grossly unattractive men and women.”
Cassie was trying to assimilate this information when the doors opened again and the guard the Queen had sent on errand earlier returned, followed by a portly middle aged woman trailing a line of gorgeous, completely naked men.
One after another they came, each one beautiful than the last and each of them utterly desirable. They were all muscled, either lightly or heavily and their bodies glistened in the lamplight of the room. Every female eye was on the train of spectacular males that made their way up to stand fanned out before the Queen.