Chapter 22.

Sara’s punishment.

Gwen and Sara were slowly walking upstairs to the head guardian’s room. It was not the first time that one of the Nine women had to be disciplined but in the past it had been done in front of all the others to serve as a deterrent. Usually the punishment had been mild, a good whipping and that was all. But this time it was different and Sara sensed that. As they went up the stairs not a word was said and the silence was deafening. Suddenly they arrived at the room and Gwen opened the door followed in by Sara. One could see on the bed of the guardian a large bag. Gwen opened it and produced some implements that struck fear in the heart of Sara; a small whip, restraining cuffs, a ball gag to prevent the person from screaming and a pair of scissors. The head guardian knew how Sara was vain about her long brown hair and she decided not to miss the chance of shearing her and in the process diminishing her beauty.

She took one of the chairs that was in a corner and put it directly in the center of the room. Looking directly at Sara she said, “Take a seat please. Do you know why you have to be punished or do I have to remind you?

“No, I know and I am sorry that I didn’t consult with you before I acted. Please, accept my apology.” Sara looked at Gwen, her eyes imploring her pardon. But she only saw contempt in the head guardian’s eyes, contempt and fury at her actions. Gwen then smiled at her as she approached.

“Of course I accept your apology, but you still must be punished for your outrageous action. You acted as if you were the head guardian. You damaged my leadership in the eyes of the others and you did it on purpose. You knew what you were doing, undercutting me like that. Didn‘t you know?”

“No, I swear that it wasn’t my intention.” Sara was crying by then, sobbing gently. She had no other words to offer the head guardian and she knew it.

Gwen put her hand on Sara’s head and let her fingers run through Sara’s hair. She had decided to start by cutting her hair off. It would be dramatic and would stun Sara. She turned away from Sara and walked towards her bed, took the pair of scissors and returned to where Sara was seated. Sara looked at her wide-eyed and began crying louder as she saw the head guardian approach her with the scissors in hand.

“No, please, don’t do this, anything but this, please!’

Sara’s long brown hair went down to below her shoulders. She was very proud of them and Gwen knew this. She had often seen her preening herself in front of any mirrors that she could find. That would be a good start for her punishment. But Gwen made a mistake; she did not secure Sara solidly and she did not have the ball gag on her mouth preventing her from screaming. When Sara saw the scissors approach her head she got out of her chair quickly and gave a punch to the stomach of Gwen who was caught by surprise. She flew to the ground and remained there trying to catch her breath, the scissors still in her hand. Quickly Sara made for the door and hurried the stairs to escape Gwen’s clutches. Meanwhile Gwen was slowly recovering, sitting on the floor and trying to breathe normally again. This was incredible she thought, that a fellow sister was refusing her punishment. This could mean death for Sara.

Sara knew that she was in trouble. She would surely be excluded from the Nine, perhaps she would be tracked like an animal and taken down. There was no precedent for this. She ran wildly from street to street not knowing what to do. Go back and beg clemency? Run as far away as she could? Kill herself? She stopped near a church and decided to go in, hoping to find sanctuary and solace. She needed a safe place to think about her situation and figure out what her next move would be. She should have known that a woman who is dishevelled and runs madly here and there could not be missed. Someone had seen her. Gwen’s spies were everywhere.

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