Roquana


by
Robin Gordon


Auksford crest: a great auk displaying a book with the words "Ex ovo sapientia"
Auksford 2013

© Copyright Robin Gordon, 2013

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Book I:  Savark Court
***
Chapter 4: Lord Savark's party

    We did not see Moiku the next day, either as boy or girl, for preparations had started for one of Lord Savark’s famous parties and neither Roquana nor Tommuz had leisure for their accustomed walks in the gardens.  Roquana was busy in the house: the whole place was cleaned from top to bottom and everything that could be washed was washed and everything that could be polished was polished.  Beds were made up, tables laid, and every room decorated with flowers, except for one whose occupant suffered from hay fever.
    To Roquana’s surprise there were also four dormitories, which turned out to be for younger and older girls and boys from an orphanage in New Jackrusselham.
    “How kind of Lord Savark to entertain these orphans,” said Roquana.  “They must be really thrilled to meet the lords and ladies who govern Sunday, though I suppose they’re even more excited to meet the entertainers.  When I was little I really, really wanted to meet Jamal Fittlutt.”
    Franette sniffed.
    “Don’t you like Jamal Fittlutt?”
    “I met him when I was an orphan,” said Franette.  “He’s not really very nice.”
    “He seems so nice on telly”
    “Yeah, well …”
    “I didn’t know you were an orphan, Franette,”
    “Most of us are orphans here.  They bring us for the parties and, if we fit in, we get brought back again, and some of us get chosen to work here.  There’s not many that aren’t orphans, just a few, like you and Tommuz.  You’ve been specially chosen.  I expect you’ll be picked out for personal services to one of the bigwigs.”
    “What sort of personal services”
    “What do you think?” said Franette.  “The sort of thing you get up to with Tommuz.”
    “What do you mean get up to?  All we do is walk in the gardens and talk to the gardeners sometimes.”
    “Next,” said Franette, “ you’ll be telling me you’re a virgin.”
    “Of course I’m a virgin.” Roquana protested.
    Franette laughed derisively.  “We all know you had Tommuz in your room for hours the first night you were here,” she said.
    “He was running away from bullies,” said Roquana.  “I let him stay till things got quiet.”
    “You don’t fool anybody,” said Franette.  “The Chatelaine saw him go in – without his trousers I may add – and she knows just how long he was there.  She was very impressed.  She said you were the most accomplished little liar we’ve ever had here.  If she hadn’t known Tommuz was there she might even have believed you.”
    “She knew?” said Roquana.
    “Course she knew,” said Franette.  “That’s how it works.  The lads debag the new boy and chase him till he escapes through the door into the girls’ wing.  The new girl’s room is the only one not locked, so when he hears the lads come roaring up, he dives through her door and locks it.  The lads muck about a bit, then go back – and Madame LaTower is watching all the time.  She knows if the girl sends the boy away or not, and just how long he stays, and the next day she questions the girl, and – like I said – she thinks you’re the best liar we’ve ever had.  Just the sort we need here – as you’ll find out.  There’s things go on here that would ruin a few reputations if they got out.”
    Roquana was curious, but before she could ask anything more the Housekeeper appeared and sent the two girls off on different tasks.
    Later that day Roquana met Tommuz briefly as they went about their separate duties.  She wasted no time: she quickly summarised what Franette had told her and said that, if she were to be sexually assaulted during the party, she would run away, get out of the grounds of Savark Court and make her way back to her mother’s house in Beddleham.
    Tommuz objected that it was dangerous.  There might not be Tohu in the immediate area of Savark Court, but they would certainly be about in the forests, and they might kill her.  Roquana said she’d rather be dead than raped, that she was beginning to believe that the stories people told of the savage Tohu and their desire for human flesh were just made up to prevent ordinary people escaping from the places to which their rulers wanted to confine them.  Anyway, she said, if he was so concerned, why didn’t he come with her?
    “I will if I can,” he said, but they keep sending me on all sorts of errands so I might not know.  But anyway, if I find you’ve gone, I’ll follow you.  Stick close to the road, but not on it, or, if you have to be on it, get off if you hear any carriages.”
    “Tommuz!  Tommuz!  Where are you, you lazy sod?” came a call.
    “I’ll have to go.”
    Roquana hurried in too.  The Housekeeper had work for her, putting favourite books by guests’ bedsides, and Roquana was greatly reassured by the guest list:  all the members of the Council of the League of Purity, several High Court judges, leading industrialists and bankers, including the 84-year-old Lord President of the Bank of Sunday.  There were members of the SundaySenate and of the Monopolies Control Commission, and even a couple of Members of the Holy Synod itself.  There were also famous entertainers of unimpeachable reputation, including Jamal Fittlutt, beloved of everyone from old ladies to toddlers for his zany humour, and respected throughout the world for his charitable work with young people and his visits to orphanages and young offenders’ prisons.  Franette’s hints of undesirable behaviour were obviously just intended to scare her.
    She was even more reassured by her next task, which was to meet a group of young orphans in the front hall and take them to the dormitories she had helped to prepare.  She had been allocated a group of young girls, while her colleagues were looking after the older girls and the two groups of boys.
    Her group seemed unhappy and apprehensive, but that, she thought, was only natural.  They had been taken away from their accustomed surroundings and brought to a strange place, a great house, obviously the home of someone very important.  Even though they were being given a treat, they were obviously out of their depths and nervous in the company of their betters.  She did her best to cheer them up, but they remained closed-in, uncommunicative and even fearful.  Even when she told them that the famous Jamal Fittlutt was in the house, they seemed no better, and one little girl started crying.  Roquana did her best to comfort her, but soon she was called away by the Housekeeper.  The little girls stayed huddled together in the corner furthest from the door.
    The guests had arrived while she was busy with the children and the party was beginning.  Roquana was given a tray of sandwiches and sent to a room where a number of elderly men were relaxing in easy chairs.  There was a peculiar, rather sickly smell in the room.  Roquana, I knew, could not imagine what it might be, but my work had taken me into enough different milieux for me not to mistake the smell of mind-altering drugs.
    As she bent to offer a sandwich to an elderly man, whom I recognised as the Lord President of the Bank of Sunday, he gave an enthusiastic whoop and gestured towards the wall behind her.  Lights had come on in another room beyond a wall of glass, and young man and a girl had entered.  Roquana recognised the girl at once.  It was Franette, and she was not wearing many clothes.  She did not recognise the young man at first, till one of the old men said, “It’s Muckswill.” then she saw that it was Sir Muckswill Savark, His Lordship’s eldest son.
    Sir Muckswill was wearing a dressing gown, which he slipped off to reveal that he was not only nude but fully aroused.  Then he went to work on Franette, stroking and kissing her, and sliding off her scanty garments one by one.  Franette seemed unaware of her audience, but Sir Muckswill obviously knew he was being watched, for he often looked towards the screen and smirked, and he kept the girl turned towards the watchers so that they got a clear view of all her feminine charms as his eager hands revealed them.
    Roquana stood frozen in horror as Sir Muckswill drew Franette onto the bed in the centre of the room.
    “Go it, Mucky!” yelled the old banker.
    “Fucky Mucky!  Fucky Mucky!” chanted a High Court Judge well-known for the severity of the sentences he passed on anyone caught in a sexual misdemeanour of any sort.
    “Fucky Mucky!  Fucky Mucky!” chanted the old men, like filthy fourteen-year-olds, getting more and more excited as Sir Muckswill and Franette approached their climax.
    Sir Muckswill looked at the viewers and grinned as he led Franette out of the room, and then Jamal Fittlutt appeared wearing a brightly coloured shirt and obscenely short shorts.
    “How about that then?” he crowed, then gave vent to his trademark whoop, a sort of strangled pseudo-yodel.
    “Well now, guys and gals,” he laughed, “it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – specially those of you who le-ove children, and we all le-ove the kiddies, don’t we?  Course we do, even if we can’t eat a whole one.”  Another strangled pseudo-yodel, then he cackled, “Bring on the little darlings!” – and two of Roquana’s little charges were lifted into the room by a couple of footmen.
    Jamal Fittlutt stalked around them, sizing them up and stroking them as he passed, while the little girls clung to each other and sobbed.  Eventually he chose one and told her she had to take off his shorts – with her teeth – and he leered at the audience as she began.
    An old man, I thought I had seen him somewhere, perhaps he was a Senator, suddenly grabbed Roquana’s hand and pulled it into his groin.  She screamed and pulled away, and the old Senator was so drug-befuddled that he couldn’t snatch her back.  His groping hand just knocked over his whisky.
    Roquana fled from the room.  There was loud, thumping music in the ballroom.  Several of the maids and footmen were performing a striptease dance for the guests, and quite a number of guests were cavorting in states of partial or complete nudity.  Roquana stumbled over an overweight couple making love, cannoned into a pair of excited elderly ladies apparently trying to strip a young man of his trousers, crashed into an ancient homosexual embracing one of the footmen and tripped over another pair of lovers, landing in the midst of a group of middle-aged gamblers.  One grabbed her and embraced her with enthusiasm.  Another pulled him off, while a third ripped at her dress.  She hurled herself away, leaving part of it in his hands, and fled up the stairs.
    On the balcony, looking down on the mêlée, she found Lord Savark.
    “Oh, Your Lordship,” she cried.  “Save them!  Please save them!”
    “To whom do you refer, my dear?” said he.
    “The girls!  The little girls!  Jamal Fittlutt!”
    “I am sure dear Jamal is in no need of being saved,” said Lord Savark, “especially if there are little girls in the case.”
    “He’s … he’s doing things to them …”
    “If course he is,” said Lord Savark.  “That’s what dear Jamal does, and it amuses the oldies, those who are too old to act out their fantasies themselves.  As for saving girls – well I prefer them a little older myself, but I’m always ready to save a pretty young thing like you – for MYSELF!”
    Savark grabbed at Roquana and propelled her backwards into a corner.  His hands tore at her clothes.  His lurid purple robe fell open.  A strong animal smell rose from his body, making her gasp, and she felt the throbbing eagerness of his erection press against her.
    She struggled in vain to turn and twist away.  He was too strong.  She was trapped.
    “Knee to the groin!” I shouted in her mind.  “Hard as you can!  Hard!”
    Roquana’s knee came up hard.  Lord Savark gasped and sank to the floor, moaning.”
    “Run!” I shouted, but she was already running.  Down the stairs, across the ballroom she fled, out of the main house, back towards the servants’ wing.
    Wullum was sweeping the yard.
    “Have you seen Tommuz,” she cried.
    “Ah, Tommuz,” said he.  “You won’t find him today.  They’ll have sent him off to Beddleham to help one o’ the under-butlers buy in more drink.  They always send a lad away the first time his girl is used.  Lads get too possessive, you see, and they make trouble.  Well, you can’t have trouble when the guests are here, can you?  You won’t see him before tomorrow.”
    Roquana ran to her room, pulled on some better clothes and fled again across the gardens to one of the places Moiku had shown her and Tommuz where it was possible to get out.  She fled across the mown meadows and into the trees.


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Roquana: Index.  --  Chapter 3.  --  Chapter 5.

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