The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

Title: The Pact

(mc / fd)

Chapter: II

Description: Truth has tried for twenty years to live quietly, to tend her farm, to forget all about the Pact that she was born to obey and bound to enforce. But an urgent need will pull her back to the magic that she’s spent so long seeking to abandon.

This is a work of fantasy, which involves magic, mind control, and sexual situations. If there’s any legality preventing you from viewing pornography, or you think you would find such a story offensive or inappropriate, please don’t read it.

* * *

I rose in the morning to the embrace of a wicked hangover. I hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol, but it wasn’t of that sort. I could tell that from the first few waves of ache that wracked my mind: it probably had to do with last night.

It definitely had to do with last night.

The Pactbinders’ Gift—more of a curse, I’d’ve said, if you would have asked me then. That was what they call it in Doloc, to the east; our former oppressors. In Damea, to the north, they call it lawmagic; and they thought the Dolocites were absolute barbarians for using it ritually over so many citizens.

Maybe they were.

And in the Jir-Qan Concordancy, where I’ve spent most of my life, they just call it evil.

Maybe it is. And, really, they’re right to. Everything about the Pact and its magic had been abused, regularly, by its enforcers and those who sat even higher. In any other part of Ephaos, it would’ve been a wonder for any theocracy to last so long without a major uprising and subsequent fracture of state.

But what is written in the Pact is written in minds and hearts and souls, not only in parchment and ink. The law is written in magic and in thought itself. It is timeless, it is powerful, and even as I laid there massaging my temples, I felt that it was beautiful. Perhaps that was because I’d spent the night without my restraining band, while a very pious woman slept in my bed just a room over. She probably even dreamt about worship.

I sent her off about midday, after she’d offered several times to clean the rest of my household and tend to my fields and oh don’t you know, dearie, it’s likely to rain this evening as well?

I told her yes, it was, which is why she needed to return to her family at once. And she did—without even another word of polite fussing.

That, too, probably had to do with last night. Now that I was alone again, I was forced by my nagging mind to confront the events I was trying so very hard to ignore.

I’d broken my rule. I had promised myself, years before that day, that I would never again pull those strings or summon up any spell from inside myself. “Should’ve thrown you away,” I muttered at the silver band sitting idle on the hearth.

Staring at me from the hearth. Judging me with its glittering green eyes, the little stones of jade that could awaken so much power. When I’d had to place it across the room to keep myself from holding it in my hands, pressing it to my flesh, I knew it had been a mistake to keep it. I’d been good. Working hard. Distracting myself. Wearing the restraint every day and all day to smother that power.

I had thought, or rather, I had hoped that what I’d been smothering was already dead. But as soon as I pulled off the cloth, the magic had taken a breath of fresh air and nearly swallowed me whole. Sitting there, staring at the focus, I could feel again the strain it had taken to keep myself grounded, stable, even conscious.

It wasn’t the first time I had tapped into my magic. In fact, I’d done it many times before. That was part of why I had promised myself that I was done. It was something too dangerous to trust anyone with, let alone me. My memory of being raised in the Temple is... spotty. It comes in flashes and fragments; I write them down, when I can, but the words that I commit seem wrong, like I’m trying to describe a dream that was as nonsensical as it is disturbing.

But I do know that my training wasn’t finished. It couldn’t have been: I was still only a child of six years when the Division occurred and I was brought to the fledgling Jir-Qan, and my adoptive parents. The trained Judges knew how to mete out their power for requisite judgments. They knew how to wield their words of sorcery like artists’ brushes, rather than great hammers. I’d had to teach all of that to myself. And the one thing that I couldn’t learn alone, was restraint.

Hence the black band. The opposite of a focus: it keeps me distracted. Removes the capability for me to concentrate too hard on anything, and certainly on the strings of magic. I know that sounds bad, but trust me, it is much better than the alternative. And for the work I spent my days doing, it was just fine. I could focus hard enough on physical tasks, menial labor, routine. I never had cause or time to devote my energies to anything more.

But without it, even carrying a hangover in my skull... I felt so much clearer. Like I wouldn’t be paralyzed by a malaise the second a hoe left my hands. Like a dizzying, numbing fog had finally floated free and left my mind vacant, brimming with possibilities.

“... but any vacancy can be filled.” I put my hands at my sides and exhaled, after I found myself mid-step and halfway towards the hearth. The band stared back at me, reflecting my face in distorted shapes across its surface.

I turned around, went to my room, opened the case, and slid the black band up past my wrist and forearm and elbow without another thought. Instantly, the fuzz was back. It came snapping down around me like a vise, doubling me over and forcing me to spend minutes catching my breath. When it returned, and when I straightened, my head felt full. My reflexes were shot. Even my decisiveness was suffering; I couldn’t tell whether to open the door with my right hand or my left.

But it would get better. It would have to, because some fuzz in my brain was much less of a pain than the cramps that started screeching below my abdomen.

* * *

I had a job to do. When I’d recovered most of my wits, I was able to set myself on that task. And all tasks there associated. I had to call on my hired hand, tell him that I’d be absent for a couple weeks and that he’d have to tend the fields himself. Gave him double pay, because I wasn’t a monster. Had to pack my things, both gear for traveling and fineries for town—I wouldn’t be going straight to the village of Allesagne, where Dess and her family were living. Had to hitch the cart, because harvest wasn’t for another month and there was no way in hell that I’d ride in the saddle at this time of the month.

Once everything was in place, I set off. Jiralesh would be my destination: one of the twin cities whose denizens led the uprising that created the Division twenty years ago. I hadn’t been there in a dozen years, and at that time, I was just a child being brought by my father. Finding the way would have been difficult, if not for the many signposts leading me straight there.

I passed through fields, farms like my own. I saw faces toiling between the columns of crops; some I knew, some I didn’t. I’d made a point to never grow too friendly with my neighbors. But they were being plenty friendly with themselves—singing while they planted, laughing together with their families, children running all around doing more harm than they did help. Whenever a curious eye turned my way, I sped my horse and bent my head low ’til they were far behind me.

I tried not to think about children. They were irritating and petulant. I certainly never thought about actually having one, as it would risk passing down the magic in my blood to a prodigy, like the one I was trying to help. And all I knew about prodigies was explained to me by my father, who’d had it explained to him by a focalist in Jiralesh. One by the name of Rigorious. If I could find him, I could at least have an inkling of what to tell Dess when I eventually got to Allesagne.

But the point was, I knew nothing. Not even why I was trying to help some kid. Maybe it was guilt. Maybe it was compassion. Maybe it was ‘the right thing to do.’ Maybe trying, just a little, was the least I could do to make it up to Dess for intruding on her mind and overriding her power of will.

That was the strangest thing about it. Dess seemed like she hadn’t remembered a word of our discussion the night before. She didn’t voice any objection to the sorcery I wrought on her, nor to the feelings I stirred and commands I implanted. All she spoke about that morning was the result of the discussion, the help I’d be giving her, the grace I was so clearly blessed with for agreeing to come to her aid.

It was always like this. It was, perhaps, the worst part of it. For those whose minds had ropes already tied, waiting to be pulled with magical reins, they wouldn’t even notice. Maybe, had Dess a smidgeon of magic in her body, she would have felt the effects. But I was certain that all she would remember feeling was awe, humility, and rightness. Having the Pact invoked simply felt good. It felt correct, no matter the form that invocation took. A Judge or Pactkeeper could compel a man to throw himself into prison with a smile on his face, just by using those reins to remind him of the crimes he had perpetrated. Service is pleasure; that is another teaching that the Pact is very clear about.

I was unnerved to be a part of that process, the false clarity and hollow fulfillment that such control inspired in its subjects. If Dess focused, thought back, tried to remember as much as she could, she might recall the interaction. The words I used, the tone I took, the way I shifted her mind from one track to another. She might even think it strange. But only for a moment. When that moment passed, her self would easily and automatically take those memories and use them to strengthen the very traits that made the memories possible: her devotion, her piety, her fealty toward a higher power. After all, it was in obeying me that she was able to receive what she came for—that had nothing to do with her own agency at all.

I sighed. I groaned. I thought about throwing myself off the cart and into the mud.

Then I took a breath, and another, and another. And the feeling passed. The band on my arm ensured I couldn’t focus too long on those thoughts, anyway. But I spared a glare and a whispered curse for the little box I’d packed beneath all my other necessities. I hadn’t been tempted into bringing it, I told myself. It was just in case of emergency.

Right, an emergency, my conscience chided me, because last night was such an emergency, Truth.

“Shove it,” I answered, then I snapped the reins to make the horse run faster. Louder, until the noise of hoofbeats and the rattling of wheels were louder than any thoughts I could summon.

* * *

The Pact had very strict rules against imbibing alcohol.

But I’m not in Doloc, am I? I thought to myself, before taking a long swig of ale from the mug that sat before me.

And neither is anyone else here. I stared around the rowdy tavern and had a smile for myself. The sight was something to behold: low wooden ceilings, battered wooden floors, still-standing wooden tables, warm orange lamps, warmer and redder faces... and the voices. The songs. The laughter. All of this would have been impossible in Doloc; there wasn’t one standing tavern in the entire country. But in Jir-Qan? There’s a tavern in every town and hamlet and village and, really, any place at all where more than one person are in close proximity.

I never touched a drop of it while I was on my farm—it’d make me stay up late, rise even later, weaken me through the day, and most importantly it would sap what little focus I had to spare.

Right then? I didn’t want any focus at all. I wanted to sit at my table, finish my second mug, start my third, think about a fourth, and then pass out before I could draw up the strength to regret it. The regret would come in the morning.

“Get’cha anything else?” The barmaid’s voice made me yelp, spilling my ale on the table and splashing some onto my face and dress.

It smelled so much better than it had an hour ago. “Uh,” I began, looking down the hollow of my now-drained mug, “another one of these. Actually two. Actually do you have any potatoes? Saints I could really go for some—“

“If you’re going to be makin’ demands of me, I’m going to be needin’ to see some coin out of you.” She had her arms crossed firmly over her smudgy apron, ruddy hair pulled back to let shine the wetness of sweat caked on her face. “You haven’t paid a piece of gold all night long.”

“Right. Sorry.” I was embarrassed at how loud she was, and I was definitely drunk, but I wasn’t the sort of woman who’d freeload on her drinks. My coin purse felt heavy on my belt. “Let me just—”

“I swear,” the barmaid continued, “the lot of you vagrants are nothing but trouble, whenever you come through town. Can’t even name what this town is, can you? That’s just the way, isn’t it, everyone always going someplace bigger and grander, never sparing a single thought for the...“

I couldn’t answer her question, or do much to quell her unwinding ire, because my brain was still stuck a few phrases back. “Vagrants?” I mumbled, scratching at the side of my head.

“Vagrants. Adventurers,” she intoned, like firing off a vile curse. “Troublesome travelers like yourself who buy drinks and can’t afford them.“

The chatter of the bar was growing quieter and quieter compared to this woman before me, and I was all too aware of how many stares could start pointing my way if she got any louder. “Listen,” I said, “I’m good for the coin, just let me... uhh... here!” My hands fumbled from my waist down until they snatched the purse off my side. I pulled apart the drawstrings and stared down at the darkness within...

... and lying inside the pouch, silver stared back at me. Silver and jade. Chills came down the back of my neck—when had it gotten there? Had it moved itself? Why was it...

Oh. Right.

I had meant to sell it off, trade it for as many drinks as it would buy. I wanted to be rid of it. And then I’d gotten drunk enough that I forgot I even had it on me. I shook the bag around; fool that I was, I hadn’t actually placed any coins inside the damned thing.

“Er.” That was the noise that came out of my mouth.

“Go on,” the waitress said expectantly. “Cough it up.”

“Ah,” I said. And, “Um.” Looking at it, I knew she wouldn’t take it. If she knew how valuable it was, she would’ve been able to discern what it was for, and then she’d really never take it. But she didn’t know, so to her, it was just an ordinary piece of bland jewelery that came out of my purse and into view.

I wasn’t going to not try and pawn it off on her. I was drunk; it seemed like the right thing to do. “You, um, wouldn’t mind taking silver, would you?” I asked with a sheepish grin.

Her hands tightened their grips on her upper arms while she glared at me. “I would mind that, you vagrant scum. This is a business,” she said, drawing out her words so that all of them could be heard clearly, “a reputable place. Not one of the whorehouses I’m sure you earned that little trinket in.“

I blinked at her. Dumbfounded, I was at a complete loss for words.

But not actions. Against my better judgment—no. I had no better judgment, at this point. I had no judgment at all. I was sore and confused and humiliated and most of all enraged. And against this lack of judgment, my hand slid the black band off my arm and placed it into my purse. As the fuzz cleared away from my thoughts, I was able to glance around the room and see eyes glancing back at me, various men trying fervently to seem as if they weren’t watching the ladies have it out with each other.

I wasn’t clearheaded. Not by a longshot. Even with the restraining band’s distractions gone, I still swayed in my seat, my motions still felt muddled, and I couldn’t quite get the words out of my lips the right way. “I’m ter—horribly sorry for the inconvenience. Er, ma’am.”

My waitress squinted down at me. “Then what are we going to do about this problem?”

“Um?” My head canted to the side while my hands groped around blindly for the silver band. I was very set on not losing eye contact with her for even a second.

Your bill, you drunkard,” she said with thick disgust. “You have strong enough arms. Legs, too. Could probably spend a week moving kegs for us, how about that?“

While I didn’t feel complimented by her, I appreciated that she’d paid me enough mind to notice and remark on my wiry build. I was proud of my figure, taut with muscle as it was, and even the insults of a serving wench couldn’t twist that pride around. My frown turned to a grin when my fingers closed around cool, thrumming metal. “I like to drink the ale more than I like to carry it, ma’am.”

The wicked grin she was sporting quickly reversed into an ugly sneer. “Think yourself a jester, do you?”

“I think myself much more than that.” The focus came past my wrist, down my forearm, over my elbow and up to cuff around my upper arm. My senses screamed, my blurry vision grew dim, I covered my ears with both hands to shut out the swell of tavern sound but the smell was the worst of it, there were so many scents that I couldn’t keep them out of my sinuses, and the taste was all over my tongue, my lips and my teeth, I wanted to tear them out for how monstrous their feeling was: alien, foreign, like my mind had just been placed into someone else’s body and my skin was no longer my own. I felt itching everywhere. I felt burning everywhere. I felt pain, so splitting that it cleaved my thoughts and made the world dark.

And when I came too, still sitting, still clutching my ringing ears, I felt more. I felt the power I had been denying. I felt the numbness it had rendered my pains and aches into. I felt the lightness, both airy and weighty, churning between my ears while my eyes refocused.

And all around me, I felt feelings. Surface-level ones. Joy, from the man cheering in the corner. Sadness, from the woman who just lost a gamble. Lust, from the man who was leering at her. Depression, from the few others who sat drinking alone.

But the loudest of all, there was rage from the woman standing over me. She was speaking, but I found I could just... ignore her, now. My thoughts were clear enough that I could wrest them in whichever way I wanted. And I did not want to listen to her. I wanted to feel her rage and travel even farther with it, to find a strand there that would be waiting for my hands. I stared at her, and through her, at the anger I could all but see boiling in her veins.

It was a directed ire that she wore. On the surface, all of it seemed pointed squarely at me. But as I felt that anger myself, I knew it was a much deeper soreness. She was upset with me, yes, but she was so upset with the world. With the laggards and drunks and time-wasters that she spent her measly life catering to. With the vagrants who’d come and take and leave without a single coin or kindness spent. With the never-ending noise, the endless work, and the sheer smallness of her place in the world.

I felt all this, and I thought I knew her. I thought I knew all about her, everything there was to know. I was still addled, you see, as much by drink as I was by exhaustion, both mental and physical. When I wore my focus, when I was finally able to concentrate: it all felt so simple. So right.

I saw her anger, I felt the symptoms, and I knew that it was enough. There was no undercurrent of piety, not this time. She wasn’t like Dess. Maybe she was too young to remember the days before the Division. Maybe she had always resented the Pact. Maybe she was an immigrant and had never even been bound by its words.

None of that mattered. None of it. Because I looked inside this woman and I saw something simple: that she was human. She had hatred and she had fear. In this occupation she had accepted a duty, a contract, however much she resented it or despised its conditions. And these were what I would use to make her kneel. I didn’t trust my flapping tongue and lips, but those didn’t matter either. I was already whispering, murmuring one of the spells I’d been taught whose words I shudder still to remember. It was the rush of power that drew it out of the dark well of my memories, and that power was imbued into each word.

I spoke into her mind a simple truth. One that I wanted her to follow, one that I felt she needed. She needed fulfillment to be happy with her place in life. She needed a purpose to be fulfilled. And that purpose would merely align with my own desires. It was a truth that, given her position of employ, she should have already possessed. The hole for it was easy to find, the place from which it could drive her thoughts and acts and emotions. The place which, lacking that truth, was causing so much rage and so much helplessness.

It was a simple truth. When her bickering stalled to mumbles, when her eyes began to gleam, when her arms fell loose to her sides, I heard her begin to whisper it.

“Service is pleasure.” Over and over. “Service is pleasure.” To the rhythm of my spell’s syllables. “Service is pleasure.” The only thought resounding in her quiet, empty mind. “Service is pleasure.” The only thought I allowed her to keep. “Service is pleasure.” The thought that I let mold her state of mind, reshaping it, remaking it. “Service is pleasure.” Reframing her whole existence to fit in one simple, perfect context. “Service is pleasure.”

And when it was done, when I had shut my lips and stilled the stirrings of my magic, I saw her gazing into the distance with a smile of bliss. No more anger radiated off of her body, no more rage curled within her thoughts. There was happiness. There was obligation. There was purpose. And the longer I stared, the longer I watched her vacancy, the more I realized that I wanted her this way. That I enjoyed her this way. That she was right this way. That I could simply reach out and do the same to any of the open, simple minds in this room. Loosened by drink, softened by long and exhausting days, they would put up as little fight as... as...

... I didn’t know her name. She hadn’t ever mentioned it—I hadn’t ever asked. I didn’t know where she lived. Was this the only job she worked? What else did she do besides serve in this tavern? Who did she spend time with? Who did she love?

What had I replaced when I entered her mind? What in the saints’ holy names had I done to her? I looked to my open, sweating, trembling hands, then I looked to the gleaming, grinning band of silver about my arm.

What had it done to me?

The barmaid turned her head down to meet my gaze, her saccharine smile and empty eyes never faltering for even a second. “How may I be of service to you, milady?”

My breath caught in my throat. I stared at her, sweating cold all over my body, panting, at once in terror and in awe at what I’d managed to do. I grabbed for her hand, squeezed it hard—so warm, tender, human—and whispered as fast and low as I dared, “You will not speak to anyone about what happened tonight. You won’t talk about me—you won’t remember me. Just let everything about me float away, you don’t remember a thing, a-and, just, live a happy life however you can. You got it? You get all that?“

She smiled, eyes big and wide, and nodded her head. “Service is pleasure,” she said, as clear as a clarion.

I don’t remember much of anything, after the sound of those words. I know that I bolted from the tavern, ran into the rain, unhitched my horse, clambered into the cart and cracked the reins over and over. I needed him to run. Far and fast and long. I remember wrenching the focus down my arm with tears in my eyes, I remember the scream that flew from my throat as the power was torn out of me, as I held the band in my hands and wanted so badly to throw it over the edge. And I remember putting it in the box. Replacing it with the black band up my arm, with an ache that filled my muscles, with chaos that scattered my thoughts, with disarray that drove my senses past oblivion and into someplace dark and deep.

And I remember nothing more.

* * *