This post is written with permission of the Top I had my scene with, Tailstrike. It does not do justice to the complexity of the emotions involved, nor does it adequately describe what I went through. But I realized if I force myself to wait until it's perfect, I will never hit publish. So I'm forcing myself to put it out here instead, flaws and all.
When we entered the dungeon, the first thing I noticed was the cold. Dungeons are supposed to be warm places...but not this one. This one had me shivering, and the skin all over my body tightened with goosebumps.
As I reacted to the cold, a thought entered my head: the dungeon felt like the inside of a morgue. Morgues are cold places full of dead bodies, chilly skin and icy stares full of stories untold.
I will not die, I reminded myself. I have been promised I will not die.
He walked me to our station, a large wooden structure, the gallows. In fact, it looked exactly like the gallows you see in old pictures of executions, complete with chain hanging down from the middle of it, ready for use. I knew it would not be my neck hanging from that chain...but I was still scared.
I will not die. I have been promised I will not die.
He bade me to come forward. I shook my head no.
"This is not a take-down scene," he said, his voice as soft and as cold as fresh snow. "Now come here."
My mind balked. I thrive on the take-down; it is my bread and butter of foreplay. I don't just enjoy it, I need it, especially in anticipation of a scene like this one.
He was going to deny me this, too?
Yes. Yes, he was; and in doing so, he was setting the tone of the whole scene before me. He was in control. He would do what he wanted. Promises would be kept, but beyond that, everything that would happen was up to him and him alone.
I will not die. I have been promised.
I stepped before him.
"Get undressed," he said, and I did.
He began to wind chain around my wrists. He would go halfway around a wrist, link the chain, and come back the other way; link the chain again, come back the other way. I didn't understand then why he wasn't just making circles around my wrists, but now I think I understand: he didn't want to risk injury—at least, not the kind of injury I didn't want.
Protect the joints, protect the bones, give her the bruises. He knew I would be expecting those wrist bruises, would love looking at them for the next few days.
(And I did.)
The chain felt too tight the first time he did it; I protested. He went through the process of winding the chain again. It was still too tight. He fixed them again, even more slowly, taking his time, making sure he got it right. As I watched him wind the chain around my wrists, felt his fingers brush against my tingling skin, sensed his single minded focus, a part of me succumbed, even as my fear grew.
He fastened the chains to the gallows, and I was secured.
But he wasn't done yet. He got out a mask next.
The mask would not cover my eyes or nose; it wouldn't even cover my mouth. The mask was nothing but pieces of leather fastened around my head and locked on tight. It had no purpose but one: to remind me who was in charge.
He wanted to get me into a mask; I did not.
He put the mask on me anyway.
He got out the spreader bar next.
Like the mask, he had warned me in advance he would be using it. That didn't stop me from kicking away from it as much as I could. Knowing something is going to be done to you is not the same as living through it; anticipation is a powerful thing, but not as powerful as cold hard steel. He caught my legs, put me in the spreader bar, stretched my legs wide, and let me squirm.
The spreader bar felt monstrous between my feet. It shortened my stance, and with my wrists chained up the way they were, I could barely put both feet down at once.
It didn't matter, it turned out: most of the scene, I wouldn't be standing. I'd be dancing.
He got out a pain implement. What was it? I have no idea; my mind grows foggy now on the specifics. I know he told me what he was using—I think he even showed me.
I know I panicked. I know it hurt, hurt like hell, and I screamed. He hit my thighs with it, over and over, and I turned in circles under the gallows, begging him to stop.
He got out his whips.
The whips...the whips are like nothing else. They slice, they bite, and they burn like no other implement can.
He didn't start out slow. He struck me right across the back, hard, letting me know what was coming. My mind didn't just resist, it repelled the idea, unable to yield to what was happening, to what I was allowing to happen...even as another part of me, a part I still hardly know, began to awaken in hunger.
He whipped me for a long time. Not just my back, oh no; he was dancing too, moving around my body, choosing which side and swath of skin he wanted to aim for next. One leg, then the other; one thigh, then the other.
One must keep things symmetric, you see.
I started to hurl insults at him, starting with the old standbys: "motherfucker," "son of a bitch," and "Satan's spawn." I told him I was surprised he even understood me, since I'm not speaking Asshole. I yelled that I hoped he woke up with hemorrhoids. I think I even said I hoped someone would cut his cock off and name him Reek. I grew exasperated when I realized he doesn't watch Game of Thrones. (I insulted him for that transgression, too.)
He laughed as I threw insult after insult at him. He laughed and whipped.
I screamed and danced.
The scene took an imperceptible shift, as scenes like this are wont to do. It began to descend into territory that was darker, scarier, more stunning to the senses. He was taking me to the edge of what I could take. Every step of this dance was now laden with a dose of incredulity.
I was continually making a choice, you see. With every lick of the whip, with every scream ripped from my throat, I was asking myself: Do I cry yellow, and keep him from pushing me over the edge?
Or do I move the edge itself?
This is the mental dance we bottoms experience, but only if we're lucky, only if we play with the right Top. The opportunity comes, like a bright beacon flashing before us—the moment to decide what we can accept, and what we cannot.
Sometimes, if we're lucky, we surprise ourselves in wonderful ways.
There were a couple moments I decided to cry yellow. Each time I did, he gave me a reprieve, let me gather the shattered pieces of my mind to myself and hold them close for a moment. But then he would continue, as hard as before; and with each lash, I felt myself break apart a little bit more, felt the energy explode, that power that manifests between flesh and whip, Top and bottom.
We talk about Power Exchange. Most of the time, we're talking about the power the Top and bottom bring with each other before a scene. But there is a third power there, something sublime but ineffable: the power they create between them.
We danced in this power, He and I. He was the lead. He is always the lead. But we both dance.
I started to sob inside the mask. The end of the whip licked right across my nipple, and I screamed like never have before. Or at least, I think I screamed; my mind rebelled.
"I can't, I can't, I can't...." I said the words in litany. But even as I said them, I knew they would not help me, and do nothing for me. They were not my safe words. My safe words were yellow and red.
(What would he do if I cried red? I don't know. He's never taken me that far. I think it would surprise us both.)
I have no idea how much longer we could have gone on, how much more I could have taken. As much as we tried to ignore it, the dungeon had been filling with people; too soon, the DM was coming around, tapping his watch, reminding us it was time to end our dance and free up our station.
He released me from the chains, and let me fall gently to the floor. I lay there as he cleaned the area up...and even as I lay there, marinating in pain, I felt my fingers graze my cut and bloody nipple, and I smiled.
I had been promised I would survive. The promise is a lie, really. Who can promise another human being they will survive anything? No one can promise you another minute of breath; death comes always on tipped toes.
But to take the responsibility of your own survival and entrust it to someone else, to feel your own mortality in your hands, to dance on the edge of this delicate existence we call life...
That is where true power lies.
When we are lucky to have scenes like this, my Top and I, he leads, and I follow. I am on a path of self-discovery; but the path is mine, and I pave it with my own blood.