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The Punic Cross

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phlebas

PRIMUS POENUS
Staff member
The Punic Cross is a story by Severianus Latro, an author from the old Crux group. I loved it when I first read it in 1999, and always wanted to see it illustrated.
Years passed. Finally last year I was inspired to have a go at a manip to accompany the story. It is not perfect, but after 15 years of waiting it's time to post something, especially given my position as Primus Poenus!

Other stories by Latro will appear in Admi's thread
http://www.cruxforums.com/xf/threads/old-crucifying-stories.3581/

ph179.jpg

THE PUNIC CROSS
By Severianus Latro​
The Punic nobles stood in the courtyard, talking nervously among themselves. Doom was coming upon the City, and the omens had spoken clearly of what was demanded by harsh Melekh-Karth, the tutelary deity of the City, for its preservation. Only . . . they had rid themselves of monarchy on Earth many long years agone, the heirs of Elissa had died out. Unless . . . unless the gods would account the sufet as being of royalty.
Their low, nervous conversation died away. The door to the house opened. From the cool interior of the sufet's house, the high priest Hanno ben-Huy came forth, magnificent in his sacred regalia. He paused, and swept the assembled nobles with a stern eye. "I have prepared the sacrifice," he said in a deep tone. "Is all in preparation for the offering?"
"It is done, it is done," the nobles chanted.
"So be it. Let the offering be brought forth."
Two of the noblemen bowed respectfully to the High Priest, then passed into the house. The others fell into a worshipful silence, in which one or two could be heard muttering prayers. The high priest turned to see the newcomers.
Sarai bas-Malko, daughter of the sufet, had been the desire of many. She had flirted with the handsome, spoken with the wise, gone forth with the daring. In the ancient custom of Tyre she had yielded her maidenhood to a stranger, some said a Hellene, among the maidens of the city in the temple of Tanith. She was a ripe maiden indeed, in the fullness of her beauty, with long straight dark hair, flashing dark eyes, and warm brown skin. From those who had dived with her it was learned, and agreed, that her breasts were without peer, and her figure in the whole was lithe yet richly curved. Nobles dreamed of the children they might get upon her, and of the pleasure the begetting would afford.
But now she was bent on other matters. She was clad in a simple robe, but it was the purple of the myrmex, the great treasure of the Punics, closed by a great jewel upon her shoulder. Two gold necklaces, a simple chain with an image and a great complex collar, clasped her neck; she wore no rings or bracelets. And indeed, her feet were bare. Likewise, while she wore simple earrings in her shapely ears, no ornament adorned her brow; her hair was caught up in a coronet of braids.
Two attendants escorted her, young women of the nobility, less gorgeously dressed, but as if a queen might be so escorted; a strange thing indeed, in the timocratic City.
Sarai placed her hands before her face, and bowed to the high priest. "I come," she said.
Hanno stared back sternly. "You are resolved to this," he said, not quite a question.
"I am."
The high priest thumped with his staff on the courtyard. Two more maidens entered from the house, bearing between them a cushion. The cushion was weighed down with a crown; not the ancient crown of Tyre, brought hence ages agone, but a copy, made in sturdier metal but clad in gold. They brought their burden to the priest, bowing to present it.
"Kneel, child," Hanno said to the woman. Sarai knelt, bowing her head. The priest took the crown from the cushion and raised it to the sky, praying as he did. Then, gently he lowered it upon the woman's head, crowning her in the ancient ways of the ancient kings.
"So be it," he said, and all the nobles repeated after him, "So be it."
Her head weighed down by the diadem, Sarai presented a truly regal appearance. She swallowed, gathering her strength to go on. Then, her resolution gathered, she stepped forward. The nobles cleared the way for her. Slowly and deliberately, she made her way to the end of the courtyard, then turned to face the nobles. A wailing came from the house, as of a woman in mourning. All pretended not to hear it.
Sarai raised her head and said, "We accept this burden for the good of the City, the welfare of its people, and the future of its spirit. We surrender Ourself into the authority of the Gods, standing as symbol and spirit of Our City, taking its destiny unto Ourselves.
"Do what you must. We release you of it."
Behind her was a low stool. Without looking, she stepped up on it. Behind the stool was a great cross. She raised her hands to the beams and leaned back.
There in the thin purple robe, Sarai made a striking figure. Her muscles were tensed as she held herself posed for the sacrifice. Her upswept figure called to the minds of some the ancient fertility goddesses of their homes, brought from ancient Tyre to continue blessing the begetting of their heirs; others were minded of the statues the Greeks set up, of mere women in the undress of goddesses, their smiling beauty untroubled by mortality. Sarai brimmed with fertility and with beauty, a fitting gift to the Gods.
The high priest nodded. Two nobles stepped forward, bearing higher stools. They placed these beside the cross, then withdrew. Two more took their places, bearing nails and hammers. These men stood upon the stools, placing the nails against the warm tan skin of the crowned woman. They turned to look at Hanno. He began to invoke the Gods to accept this sacrifice, to take into this mere body the doom they had foretold. With a mighty invocation, he ended his prayer, declaring, "So be it."
"So be it," the nobles echoed in chorus.
"So be it," Sarai responded.
At that signal, the men made the first strokes driving the nails into her wrists. Queenly even in her sacrifice, Sarai did not cry out as the metal pierced her flesh. Soon enough the spikes were well-seated in the crossbeam; the nailers stepped back and merged with the other nobles.
Two more nobles came forth, approaching the cross. They lifted Sarai's bare shapely feet from the stool and held them against the upright of the cross. Another removed the stool. Still another pair came forth with a spike and a hammer each. Chanting prayers, they drove the spikes through the crowned woman's feet, nailing her to the cross. The high priest then cried "Accept this sacrifice!"
"So be it," the nobles responded.
"So be it," Sarai said, consenting to her death.
Two of the nobles, chosen by lot, remained to attend upon the sacrifice. One was younger, of an age to have offered for Sarai's hand. Obeying his charge to attend, viewing the sacrifice, he was much tormented by irreligous lusts. Sarai's upthrust arms drew her breasts upwards, making them stand high and proud under the thin purple gown. The breeze blew its lower fringes about, revealing her shapely legs, now tensed by the strain of the crucifixion. She had dived with him on occasion, teasing him with the promise of passion to come. Now she was ascending to a higher fate.
When the sun was at its highest, the watchmen were changed. The young one was bid speak to another within the house of the sufet. To his relief, the one who would have intercourse with him was the beautiful priestess of Tanit who had been a royal handmaiden, and she relieved his lusts with practiced, professional ease, as she eased her qualms over this act with the joining of their bodies.
The omens had declared that a royal sacrifice must be made, a crowned one must die for the Gods. Now in keeping with that will, Sarai hung upon a cross, clad in purple robes and regally crowned. The flies, though, respected neither the gods nor royalty.
The afternoon watchers had a different sight. A gull, bird of the sea, landed upon the head of the cross. Curious, it looked to one side and another, peering at the burden. Usually, these trees with their strange fruit were without the town. It tried an experimental peck at the glittering target to one side, but overbalanced itself and crashed to the ground, then, as if embarrassed, staggered and flapped away.
But the gull had detached the great jewel that held up Sarai's royal robe. Unsupported, it slid down her body, revealing her splendid breasts, their dark nipples tensing with every flexion of her arms. In the pain and suffering of her offering to the gods, the sacrifical woman was sweating heavily. Since she wore no undergarment, the royal purple robe stuck to her lower body, revealing even more of her shapely figure. The strain of her muscles as she raised herself to breathe could be discerned. Her now-bared breasts tightened with every raising of her body in a disturbingly exciting fashion. Small wonder that the afternoon watch accepted its relief with patent relief, and the two noblemen went to a certain house in the side streets of the town, where fair women not overburdened with clothing were available for a quite reasonable sum.
As the sun went down, Sarai bid it farewell. Soon she would be accepted by the Gods. For now, she hung between earth and sea and sky, part of none; cut off from the realm of life, not yet taken into the realm of death. Were it not an honor to so suffer, it would be degrading. Sweat dripped from her body, to mix with the blood from her pierced limbs, to trickle between her bared breasts, and to soak her garment, staining her skin with the royal purple.
In the chill of the night, the weakened sacrifice offered up her life, after her suffering. Her weary and wounded limbs no longer possessed the strength to lift her up for breath. As her vision dimmed, her spirit girded itself for its release. Sarai's head fell against her uplifted arm; her breasts no longer lifted in breathing. Her spirit fled its earthly form, her sacrifice accomplished.
In the dawn, the noble guards saw clearly the passing and acceptance of the sacrifice. They summoned priests. The priests issued a prayer to the gods for their acceptance of the royal sacrifice, standing beneath the crucified body of the woman. With more prayers, they pulled the nails from the corpse's feet and wrists, lowering her body carefully and placing it on a bier.
This was borne to the temple of Tanit, where priestesses removed the stained, fouled robe and folded it to be burned with its wearer. Lovingly, they washed Sarai's body, then clad it in a more gorgeous purple robe. Kidskin shoes hid her pierced feet, while elaborate bracers covered the wounds in her wrists.
Keening and wailing, the handmaidens of the goddess bore the funeral bier to the pyre that awaited it before the temple of Melekh-Karth. The sufet would light his daughter's funeral pyre, and afterwards gather the ashes into a golden urn, which would join the ashes of children in the temple.
Meanwhile, the priestess Salimat, who had guiltily enjoyed her time yesterday in the sufet's home, was lying with her young lover again. They would name their daughter "Sarai", so they had to be sure to conceive her first. It might take several tries, but Salimat did not mind the effort.
 

Barbaria1

Rebel Leader
Staff member
The Punic Cross is a story by Severianus Latro, an author from the old Crux group. I loved it when I first read it in 1999, and always wanted to see it illustrated.
Years passed. Finally last year I was inspired to have a go at a manip to accompany the story. It is not perfect, but after 15 years of waiting it's time to post something, especially given my position as Primus Poenus!

Other stories by Latro will appear in Admi's thread
http://www.cruxforums.com/xf/threads/old-crucifying-stories.3581/

View attachment 129928

THE PUNIC CROSS
By Severianus Latro​
The Punic nobles stood in the courtyard, talking nervously among themselves. Doom was coming upon the City, and the omens had spoken clearly of what was demanded by harsh Melekh-Karth, the tutelary deity of the City, for its preservation. Only . . . they had rid themselves of monarchy on Earth many long years agone, the heirs of Elissa had died out. Unless . . . unless the gods would account the sufet as being of royalty.
Their low, nervous conversation died away. The door to the house opened. From the cool interior of the sufet's house, the high priest Hanno ben-Huy came forth, magnificent in his sacred regalia. He paused, and swept the assembled nobles with a stern eye. "I have prepared the sacrifice," he said in a deep tone. "Is all in preparation for the offering?"
"It is done, it is done," the nobles chanted.
"So be it. Let the offering be brought forth."
Two of the noblemen bowed respectfully to the High Priest, then passed into the house. The others fell into a worshipful silence, in which one or two could be heard muttering prayers. The high priest turned to see the newcomers.
Sarai bas-Malko, daughter of the sufet, had been the desire of many. She had flirted with the handsome, spoken with the wise, gone forth with the daring. In the ancient custom of Tyre she had yielded her maidenhood to a stranger, some said a Hellene, among the maidens of the city in the temple of Tanith. She was a ripe maiden indeed, in the fullness of her beauty, with long straight dark hair, flashing dark eyes, and warm brown skin. From those who had dived with her it was learned, and agreed, that her breasts were without peer, and her figure in the whole was lithe yet richly curved. Nobles dreamed of the children they might get upon her, and of the pleasure the begetting would afford.
But now she was bent on other matters. She was clad in a simple robe, but it was the purple of the myrmex, the great treasure of the Punics, closed by a great jewel upon her shoulder. Two gold necklaces, a simple chain with an image and a great complex collar, clasped her neck; she wore no rings or bracelets. And indeed, her feet were bare. Likewise, while she wore simple earrings in her shapely ears, no ornament adorned her brow; her hair was caught up in a coronet of braids.
Two attendants escorted her, young women of the nobility, less gorgeously dressed, but as if a queen might be so escorted; a strange thing indeed, in the timocratic City.
Sarai placed her hands before her face, and bowed to the high priest. "I come," she said.
Hanno stared back sternly. "You are resolved to this," he said, not quite a question.
"I am."
The high priest thumped with his staff on the courtyard. Two more maidens entered from the house, bearing between them a cushion. The cushion was weighed down with a crown; not the ancient crown of Tyre, brought hence ages agone, but a copy, made in sturdier metal but clad in gold. They brought their burden to the priest, bowing to present it.
"Kneel, child," Hanno said to the woman. Sarai knelt, bowing her head. The priest took the crown from the cushion and raised it to the sky, praying as he did. Then, gently he lowered it upon the woman's head, crowning her in the ancient ways of the ancient kings.
"So be it," he said, and all the nobles repeated after him, "So be it."
Her head weighed down by the diadem, Sarai presented a truly regal appearance. She swallowed, gathering her strength to go on. Then, her resolution gathered, she stepped forward. The nobles cleared the way for her. Slowly and deliberately, she made her way to the end of the courtyard, then turned to face the nobles. A wailing came from the house, as of a woman in mourning. All pretended not to hear it.
Sarai raised her head and said, "We accept this burden for the good of the City, the welfare of its people, and the future of its spirit. We surrender Ourself into the authority of the Gods, standing as symbol and spirit of Our City, taking its destiny unto Ourselves.
"Do what you must. We release you of it."
Behind her was a low stool. Without looking, she stepped up on it. Behind the stool was a great cross. She raised her hands to the beams and leaned back.
There in the thin purple robe, Sarai made a striking figure. Her muscles were tensed as she held herself posed for the sacrifice. Her upswept figure called to the minds of some the ancient fertility goddesses of their homes, brought from ancient Tyre to continue blessing the begetting of their heirs; others were minded of the statues the Greeks set up, of mere women in the undress of goddesses, their smiling beauty untroubled by mortality. Sarai brimmed with fertility and with beauty, a fitting gift to the Gods.
The high priest nodded. Two nobles stepped forward, bearing higher stools. They placed these beside the cross, then withdrew. Two more took their places, bearing nails and hammers. These men stood upon the stools, placing the nails against the warm tan skin of the crowned woman. They turned to look at Hanno. He began to invoke the Gods to accept this sacrifice, to take into this mere body the doom they had foretold. With a mighty invocation, he ended his prayer, declaring, "So be it."
"So be it," the nobles echoed in chorus.
"So be it," Sarai responded.
At that signal, the men made the first strokes driving the nails into her wrists. Queenly even in her sacrifice, Sarai did not cry out as the metal pierced her flesh. Soon enough the spikes were well-seated in the crossbeam; the nailers stepped back and merged with the other nobles.
Two more nobles came forth, approaching the cross. They lifted Sarai's bare shapely feet from the stool and held them against the upright of the cross. Another removed the stool. Still another pair came forth with a spike and a hammer each. Chanting prayers, they drove the spikes through the crowned woman's feet, nailing her to the cross. The high priest then cried "Accept this sacrifice!"
"So be it," the nobles responded.
"So be it," Sarai said, consenting to her death.
Two of the nobles, chosen by lot, remained to attend upon the sacrifice. One was younger, of an age to have offered for Sarai's hand. Obeying his charge to attend, viewing the sacrifice, he was much tormented by irreligous lusts. Sarai's upthrust arms drew her breasts upwards, making them stand high and proud under the thin purple gown. The breeze blew its lower fringes about, revealing her shapely legs, now tensed by the strain of the crucifixion. She had dived with him on occasion, teasing him with the promise of passion to come. Now she was ascending to a higher fate.
When the sun was at its highest, the watchmen were changed. The young one was bid speak to another within the house of the sufet. To his relief, the one who would have intercourse with him was the beautiful priestess of Tanit who had been a royal handmaiden, and she relieved his lusts with practiced, professional ease, as she eased her qualms over this act with the joining of their bodies.
The omens had declared that a royal sacrifice must be made, a crowned one must die for the Gods. Now in keeping with that will, Sarai hung upon a cross, clad in purple robes and regally crowned. The flies, though, respected neither the gods nor royalty.
The afternoon watchers had a different sight. A gull, bird of the sea, landed upon the head of the cross. Curious, it looked to one side and another, peering at the burden. Usually, these trees with their strange fruit were without the town. It tried an experimental peck at the glittering target to one side, but overbalanced itself and crashed to the ground, then, as if embarrassed, staggered and flapped away.
But the gull had detached the great jewel that held up Sarai's royal robe. Unsupported, it slid down her body, revealing her splendid breasts, their dark nipples tensing with every flexion of her arms. In the pain and suffering of her offering to the gods, the sacrifical woman was sweating heavily. Since she wore no undergarment, the royal purple robe stuck to her lower body, revealing even more of her shapely figure. The strain of her muscles as she raised herself to breathe could be discerned. Her now-bared breasts tightened with every raising of her body in a disturbingly exciting fashion. Small wonder that the afternoon watch accepted its relief with patent relief, and the two noblemen went to a certain house in the side streets of the town, where fair women not overburdened with clothing were available for a quite reasonable sum.
As the sun went down, Sarai bid it farewell. Soon she would be accepted by the Gods. For now, she hung between earth and sea and sky, part of none; cut off from the realm of life, not yet taken into the realm of death. Were it not an honor to so suffer, it would be degrading. Sweat dripped from her body, to mix with the blood from her pierced limbs, to trickle between her bared breasts, and to soak her garment, staining her skin with the royal purple.
In the chill of the night, the weakened sacrifice offered up her life, after her suffering. Her weary and wounded limbs no longer possessed the strength to lift her up for breath. As her vision dimmed, her spirit girded itself for its release. Sarai's head fell against her uplifted arm; her breasts no longer lifted in breathing. Her spirit fled its earthly form, her sacrifice accomplished.
In the dawn, the noble guards saw clearly the passing and acceptance of the sacrifice. They summoned priests. The priests issued a prayer to the gods for their acceptance of the royal sacrifice, standing beneath the crucified body of the woman. With more prayers, they pulled the nails from the corpse's feet and wrists, lowering her body carefully and placing it on a bier.
This was borne to the temple of Tanit, where priestesses removed the stained, fouled robe and folded it to be burned with its wearer. Lovingly, they washed Sarai's body, then clad it in a more gorgeous purple robe. Kidskin shoes hid her pierced feet, while elaborate bracers covered the wounds in her wrists.
Keening and wailing, the handmaidens of the goddess bore the funeral bier to the pyre that awaited it before the temple of Melekh-Karth. The sufet would light his daughter's funeral pyre, and afterwards gather the ashes into a golden urn, which would join the ashes of children in the temple.
Meanwhile, the priestess Salimat, who had guiltily enjoyed her time yesterday in the sufet's home, was lying with her young lover again. They would name their daughter "Sarai", so they had to be sure to conceive her first. It might take several tries, but Salimat did not mind the effort.
Wonderful...both the story and the pic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Quiet Paul

Tribune
The Punic Cross is a story by Severianus Latro, an author from the old Crux group. I loved it when I first read it in 1999, and always wanted to see it illustrated.
Years passed. Finally last year I was inspired to have a go at a manip to accompany the story. It is not perfect, but after 15 years of waiting it's time to post something, especially given my position as Primus Poenus!

Other stories by Latro will appear in Admi's thread
http://www.cruxforums.com/xf/threads/old-crucifying-stories.3581/

View attachment 129928

THE PUNIC CROSS
By Severianus Latro​
The Punic nobles stood in the courtyard, talking nervously among themselves. Doom was coming upon the City, and the omens had spoken clearly of what was demanded by harsh Melekh-Karth, the tutelary deity of the City, for its preservation. Only . . . they had rid themselves of monarchy on Earth many long years agone, the heirs of Elissa had died out. Unless . . . unless the gods would account the sufet as being of royalty.
Their low, nervous conversation died away. The door to the house opened. From the cool interior of the sufet's house, the high priest Hanno ben-Huy came forth, magnificent in his sacred regalia. He paused, and swept the assembled nobles with a stern eye. "I have prepared the sacrifice," he said in a deep tone. "Is all in preparation for the offering?"
"It is done, it is done," the nobles chanted.
"So be it. Let the offering be brought forth."
Two of the noblemen bowed respectfully to the High Priest, then passed into the house. The others fell into a worshipful silence, in which one or two could be heard muttering prayers. The high priest turned to see the newcomers.
Sarai bas-Malko, daughter of the sufet, had been the desire of many. She had flirted with the handsome, spoken with the wise, gone forth with the daring. In the ancient custom of Tyre she had yielded her maidenhood to a stranger, some said a Hellene, among the maidens of the city in the temple of Tanith. She was a ripe maiden indeed, in the fullness of her beauty, with long straight dark hair, flashing dark eyes, and warm brown skin. From those who had dived with her it was learned, and agreed, that her breasts were without peer, and her figure in the whole was lithe yet richly curved. Nobles dreamed of the children they might get upon her, and of the pleasure the begetting would afford.
But now she was bent on other matters. She was clad in a simple robe, but it was the purple of the myrmex, the great treasure of the Punics, closed by a great jewel upon her shoulder. Two gold necklaces, a simple chain with an image and a great complex collar, clasped her neck; she wore no rings or bracelets. And indeed, her feet were bare. Likewise, while she wore simple earrings in her shapely ears, no ornament adorned her brow; her hair was caught up in a coronet of braids.
Two attendants escorted her, young women of the nobility, less gorgeously dressed, but as if a queen might be so escorted; a strange thing indeed, in the timocratic City.
Sarai placed her hands before her face, and bowed to the high priest. "I come," she said.
Hanno stared back sternly. "You are resolved to this," he said, not quite a question.
"I am."
The high priest thumped with his staff on the courtyard. Two more maidens entered from the house, bearing between them a cushion. The cushion was weighed down with a crown; not the ancient crown of Tyre, brought hence ages agone, but a copy, made in sturdier metal but clad in gold. They brought their burden to the priest, bowing to present it.
"Kneel, child," Hanno said to the woman. Sarai knelt, bowing her head. The priest took the crown from the cushion and raised it to the sky, praying as he did. Then, gently he lowered it upon the woman's head, crowning her in the ancient ways of the ancient kings.
"So be it," he said, and all the nobles repeated after him, "So be it."
Her head weighed down by the diadem, Sarai presented a truly regal appearance. She swallowed, gathering her strength to go on. Then, her resolution gathered, she stepped forward. The nobles cleared the way for her. Slowly and deliberately, she made her way to the end of the courtyard, then turned to face the nobles. A wailing came from the house, as of a woman in mourning. All pretended not to hear it.
Sarai raised her head and said, "We accept this burden for the good of the City, the welfare of its people, and the future of its spirit. We surrender Ourself into the authority of the Gods, standing as symbol and spirit of Our City, taking its destiny unto Ourselves.
"Do what you must. We release you of it."
Behind her was a low stool. Without looking, she stepped up on it. Behind the stool was a great cross. She raised her hands to the beams and leaned back.
There in the thin purple robe, Sarai made a striking figure. Her muscles were tensed as she held herself posed for the sacrifice. Her upswept figure called to the minds of some the ancient fertility goddesses of their homes, brought from ancient Tyre to continue blessing the begetting of their heirs; others were minded of the statues the Greeks set up, of mere women in the undress of goddesses, their smiling beauty untroubled by mortality. Sarai brimmed with fertility and with beauty, a fitting gift to the Gods.
The high priest nodded. Two nobles stepped forward, bearing higher stools. They placed these beside the cross, then withdrew. Two more took their places, bearing nails and hammers. These men stood upon the stools, placing the nails against the warm tan skin of the crowned woman. They turned to look at Hanno. He began to invoke the Gods to accept this sacrifice, to take into this mere body the doom they had foretold. With a mighty invocation, he ended his prayer, declaring, "So be it."
"So be it," the nobles echoed in chorus.
"So be it," Sarai responded.
At that signal, the men made the first strokes driving the nails into her wrists. Queenly even in her sacrifice, Sarai did not cry out as the metal pierced her flesh. Soon enough the spikes were well-seated in the crossbeam; the nailers stepped back and merged with the other nobles.
Two more nobles came forth, approaching the cross. They lifted Sarai's bare shapely feet from the stool and held them against the upright of the cross. Another removed the stool. Still another pair came forth with a spike and a hammer each. Chanting prayers, they drove the spikes through the crowned woman's feet, nailing her to the cross. The high priest then cried "Accept this sacrifice!"
"So be it," the nobles responded.
"So be it," Sarai said, consenting to her death.
Two of the nobles, chosen by lot, remained to attend upon the sacrifice. One was younger, of an age to have offered for Sarai's hand. Obeying his charge to attend, viewing the sacrifice, he was much tormented by irreligous lusts. Sarai's upthrust arms drew her breasts upwards, making them stand high and proud under the thin purple gown. The breeze blew its lower fringes about, revealing her shapely legs, now tensed by the strain of the crucifixion. She had dived with him on occasion, teasing him with the promise of passion to come. Now she was ascending to a higher fate.
When the sun was at its highest, the watchmen were changed. The young one was bid speak to another within the house of the sufet. To his relief, the one who would have intercourse with him was the beautiful priestess of Tanit who had been a royal handmaiden, and she relieved his lusts with practiced, professional ease, as she eased her qualms over this act with the joining of their bodies.
The omens had declared that a royal sacrifice must be made, a crowned one must die for the Gods. Now in keeping with that will, Sarai hung upon a cross, clad in purple robes and regally crowned. The flies, though, respected neither the gods nor royalty.
The afternoon watchers had a different sight. A gull, bird of the sea, landed upon the head of the cross. Curious, it looked to one side and another, peering at the burden. Usually, these trees with their strange fruit were without the town. It tried an experimental peck at the glittering target to one side, but overbalanced itself and crashed to the ground, then, as if embarrassed, staggered and flapped away.
But the gull had detached the great jewel that held up Sarai's royal robe. Unsupported, it slid down her body, revealing her splendid breasts, their dark nipples tensing with every flexion of her arms. In the pain and suffering of her offering to the gods, the sacrifical woman was sweating heavily. Since she wore no undergarment, the royal purple robe stuck to her lower body, revealing even more of her shapely figure. The strain of her muscles as she raised herself to breathe could be discerned. Her now-bared breasts tightened with every raising of her body in a disturbingly exciting fashion. Small wonder that the afternoon watch accepted its relief with patent relief, and the two noblemen went to a certain house in the side streets of the town, where fair women not overburdened with clothing were available for a quite reasonable sum.
As the sun went down, Sarai bid it farewell. Soon she would be accepted by the Gods. For now, she hung between earth and sea and sky, part of none; cut off from the realm of life, not yet taken into the realm of death. Were it not an honor to so suffer, it would be degrading. Sweat dripped from her body, to mix with the blood from her pierced limbs, to trickle between her bared breasts, and to soak her garment, staining her skin with the royal purple.
In the chill of the night, the weakened sacrifice offered up her life, after her suffering. Her weary and wounded limbs no longer possessed the strength to lift her up for breath. As her vision dimmed, her spirit girded itself for its release. Sarai's head fell against her uplifted arm; her breasts no longer lifted in breathing. Her spirit fled its earthly form, her sacrifice accomplished.
In the dawn, the noble guards saw clearly the passing and acceptance of the sacrifice. They summoned priests. The priests issued a prayer to the gods for their acceptance of the royal sacrifice, standing beneath the crucified body of the woman. With more prayers, they pulled the nails from the corpse's feet and wrists, lowering her body carefully and placing it on a bier.
This was borne to the temple of Tanit, where priestesses removed the stained, fouled robe and folded it to be burned with its wearer. Lovingly, they washed Sarai's body, then clad it in a more gorgeous purple robe. Kidskin shoes hid her pierced feet, while elaborate bracers covered the wounds in her wrists.
Keening and wailing, the handmaidens of the goddess bore the funeral bier to the pyre that awaited it before the temple of Melekh-Karth. The sufet would light his daughter's funeral pyre, and afterwards gather the ashes into a golden urn, which would join the ashes of children in the temple.
Meanwhile, the priestess Salimat, who had guiltily enjoyed her time yesterday in the sufet's home, was lying with her young lover again. They would name their daughter "Sarai", so they had to be sure to conceive her first. It might take several tries, but Salimat did not mind the effort.
Beautiful, just beautiful
 

cruxpain72

Magistrate
The Punic Cross is a story by Severianus Latro, an author from the old Crux group. I loved it when I first read it in 1999, and always wanted to see it illustrated.
Years passed. Finally last year I was inspired to have a go at a manip to accompany the story. It is not perfect, but after 15 years of waiting it's time to post something, especially given my position as Primus Poenus!

Other stories by Latro will appear in Admi's thread
http://www.cruxforums.com/xf/threads/old-crucifying-stories.3581/

View attachment 129928

THE PUNIC CROSS
By Severianus Latro​
The Punic nobles stood in the courtyard, talking nervously among themselves. Doom was coming upon the City, and the omens had spoken clearly of what was demanded by harsh Melekh-Karth, the tutelary deity of the City, for its preservation. Only . . . they had rid themselves of monarchy on Earth many long years agone, the heirs of Elissa had died out. Unless . . . unless the gods would account the sufet as being of royalty.
Their low, nervous conversation died away. The door to the house opened. From the cool interior of the sufet's house, the high priest Hanno ben-Huy came forth, magnificent in his sacred regalia. He paused, and swept the assembled nobles with a stern eye. "I have prepared the sacrifice," he said in a deep tone. "Is all in preparation for the offering?"
"It is done, it is done," the nobles chanted.
"So be it. Let the offering be brought forth."
Two of the noblemen bowed respectfully to the High Priest, then passed into the house. The others fell into a worshipful silence, in which one or two could be heard muttering prayers. The high priest turned to see the newcomers.
Sarai bas-Malko, daughter of the sufet, had been the desire of many. She had flirted with the handsome, spoken with the wise, gone forth with the daring. In the ancient custom of Tyre she had yielded her maidenhood to a stranger, some said a Hellene, among the maidens of the city in the temple of Tanith. She was a ripe maiden indeed, in the fullness of her beauty, with long straight dark hair, flashing dark eyes, and warm brown skin. From those who had dived with her it was learned, and agreed, that her breasts were without peer, and her figure in the whole was lithe yet richly curved. Nobles dreamed of the children they might get upon her, and of the pleasure the begetting would afford.
But now she was bent on other matters. She was clad in a simple robe, but it was the purple of the myrmex, the great treasure of the Punics, closed by a great jewel upon her shoulder. Two gold necklaces, a simple chain with an image and a great complex collar, clasped her neck; she wore no rings or bracelets. And indeed, her feet were bare. Likewise, while she wore simple earrings in her shapely ears, no ornament adorned her brow; her hair was caught up in a coronet of braids.
Two attendants escorted her, young women of the nobility, less gorgeously dressed, but as if a queen might be so escorted; a strange thing indeed, in the timocratic City.
Sarai placed her hands before her face, and bowed to the high priest. "I come," she said.
Hanno stared back sternly. "You are resolved to this," he said, not quite a question.
"I am."
The high priest thumped with his staff on the courtyard. Two more maidens entered from the house, bearing between them a cushion. The cushion was weighed down with a crown; not the ancient crown of Tyre, brought hence ages agone, but a copy, made in sturdier metal but clad in gold. They brought their burden to the priest, bowing to present it.
"Kneel, child," Hanno said to the woman. Sarai knelt, bowing her head. The priest took the crown from the cushion and raised it to the sky, praying as he did. Then, gently he lowered it upon the woman's head, crowning her in the ancient ways of the ancient kings.
"So be it," he said, and all the nobles repeated after him, "So be it."
Her head weighed down by the diadem, Sarai presented a truly regal appearance. She swallowed, gathering her strength to go on. Then, her resolution gathered, she stepped forward. The nobles cleared the way for her. Slowly and deliberately, she made her way to the end of the courtyard, then turned to face the nobles. A wailing came from the house, as of a woman in mourning. All pretended not to hear it.
Sarai raised her head and said, "We accept this burden for the good of the City, the welfare of its people, and the future of its spirit. We surrender Ourself into the authority of the Gods, standing as symbol and spirit of Our City, taking its destiny unto Ourselves.
"Do what you must. We release you of it."
Behind her was a low stool. Without looking, she stepped up on it. Behind the stool was a great cross. She raised her hands to the beams and leaned back.
There in the thin purple robe, Sarai made a striking figure. Her muscles were tensed as she held herself posed for the sacrifice. Her upswept figure called to the minds of some the ancient fertility goddesses of their homes, brought from ancient Tyre to continue blessing the begetting of their heirs; others were minded of the statues the Greeks set up, of mere women in the undress of goddesses, their smiling beauty untroubled by mortality. Sarai brimmed with fertility and with beauty, a fitting gift to the Gods.
The high priest nodded. Two nobles stepped forward, bearing higher stools. They placed these beside the cross, then withdrew. Two more took their places, bearing nails and hammers. These men stood upon the stools, placing the nails against the warm tan skin of the crowned woman. They turned to look at Hanno. He began to invoke the Gods to accept this sacrifice, to take into this mere body the doom they had foretold. With a mighty invocation, he ended his prayer, declaring, "So be it."
"So be it," the nobles echoed in chorus.
"So be it," Sarai responded.
At that signal, the men made the first strokes driving the nails into her wrists. Queenly even in her sacrifice, Sarai did not cry out as the metal pierced her flesh. Soon enough the spikes were well-seated in the crossbeam; the nailers stepped back and merged with the other nobles.
Two more nobles came forth, approaching the cross. They lifted Sarai's bare shapely feet from the stool and held them against the upright of the cross. Another removed the stool. Still another pair came forth with a spike and a hammer each. Chanting prayers, they drove the spikes through the crowned woman's feet, nailing her to the cross. The high priest then cried "Accept this sacrifice!"
"So be it," the nobles responded.
"So be it," Sarai said, consenting to her death.
Two of the nobles, chosen by lot, remained to attend upon the sacrifice. One was younger, of an age to have offered for Sarai's hand. Obeying his charge to attend, viewing the sacrifice, he was much tormented by irreligous lusts. Sarai's upthrust arms drew her breasts upwards, making them stand high and proud under the thin purple gown. The breeze blew its lower fringes about, revealing her shapely legs, now tensed by the strain of the crucifixion. She had dived with him on occasion, teasing him with the promise of passion to come. Now she was ascending to a higher fate.
When the sun was at its highest, the watchmen were changed. The young one was bid speak to another within the house of the sufet. To his relief, the one who would have intercourse with him was the beautiful priestess of Tanit who had been a royal handmaiden, and she relieved his lusts with practiced, professional ease, as she eased her qualms over this act with the joining of their bodies.
The omens had declared that a royal sacrifice must be made, a crowned one must die for the Gods. Now in keeping with that will, Sarai hung upon a cross, clad in purple robes and regally crowned. The flies, though, respected neither the gods nor royalty.
The afternoon watchers had a different sight. A gull, bird of the sea, landed upon the head of the cross. Curious, it looked to one side and another, peering at the burden. Usually, these trees with their strange fruit were without the town. It tried an experimental peck at the glittering target to one side, but overbalanced itself and crashed to the ground, then, as if embarrassed, staggered and flapped away.
But the gull had detached the great jewel that held up Sarai's royal robe. Unsupported, it slid down her body, revealing her splendid breasts, their dark nipples tensing with every flexion of her arms. In the pain and suffering of her offering to the gods, the sacrifical woman was sweating heavily. Since she wore no undergarment, the royal purple robe stuck to her lower body, revealing even more of her shapely figure. The strain of her muscles as she raised herself to breathe could be discerned. Her now-bared breasts tightened with every raising of her body in a disturbingly exciting fashion. Small wonder that the afternoon watch accepted its relief with patent relief, and the two noblemen went to a certain house in the side streets of the town, where fair women not overburdened with clothing were available for a quite reasonable sum.
As the sun went down, Sarai bid it farewell. Soon she would be accepted by the Gods. For now, she hung between earth and sea and sky, part of none; cut off from the realm of life, not yet taken into the realm of death. Were it not an honor to so suffer, it would be degrading. Sweat dripped from her body, to mix with the blood from her pierced limbs, to trickle between her bared breasts, and to soak her garment, staining her skin with the royal purple.
In the chill of the night, the weakened sacrifice offered up her life, after her suffering. Her weary and wounded limbs no longer possessed the strength to lift her up for breath. As her vision dimmed, her spirit girded itself for its release. Sarai's head fell against her uplifted arm; her breasts no longer lifted in breathing. Her spirit fled its earthly form, her sacrifice accomplished.
In the dawn, the noble guards saw clearly the passing and acceptance of the sacrifice. They summoned priests. The priests issued a prayer to the gods for their acceptance of the royal sacrifice, standing beneath the crucified body of the woman. With more prayers, they pulled the nails from the corpse's feet and wrists, lowering her body carefully and placing it on a bier.
This was borne to the temple of Tanit, where priestesses removed the stained, fouled robe and folded it to be burned with its wearer. Lovingly, they washed Sarai's body, then clad it in a more gorgeous purple robe. Kidskin shoes hid her pierced feet, while elaborate bracers covered the wounds in her wrists.
Keening and wailing, the handmaidens of the goddess bore the funeral bier to the pyre that awaited it before the temple of Melekh-Karth. The sufet would light his daughter's funeral pyre, and afterwards gather the ashes into a golden urn, which would join the ashes of children in the temple.
Meanwhile, the priestess Salimat, who had guiltily enjoyed her time yesterday in the sufet's home, was lying with her young lover again. They would name their daughter "Sarai", so they had to be sure to conceive her first. It might take several tries, but Salimat did not mind the effort.
Great sacrifice of brave martyr. Suffer without the scream. Sweaty beauty endures torment in silence.
 

morten sigurdson

Voivode of Wallachia
The Punic Cross is a story by Severianus Latro, an author from the old Crux group. I loved it when I first read it in 1999, and always wanted to see it illustrated.
Years passed. Finally last year I was inspired to have a go at a manip to accompany the story. It is not perfect, but after 15 years of waiting it's time to post something, especially given my position as Primus Poenus!

Other stories by Latro will appear in Admi's thread
http://www.cruxforums.com/xf/threads/old-crucifying-stories.3581/

View attachment 129928

THE PUNIC CROSS
By Severianus Latro​
The Punic nobles stood in the courtyard, talking nervously among themselves. Doom was coming upon the City, and the omens had spoken clearly of what was demanded by harsh Melekh-Karth, the tutelary deity of the City, for its preservation. Only . . . they had rid themselves of monarchy on Earth many long years agone, the heirs of Elissa had died out. Unless . . . unless the gods would account the sufet as being of royalty.
Their low, nervous conversation died away. The door to the house opened. From the cool interior of the sufet's house, the high priest Hanno ben-Huy came forth, magnificent in his sacred regalia. He paused, and swept the assembled nobles with a stern eye. "I have prepared the sacrifice," he said in a deep tone. "Is all in preparation for the offering?"
"It is done, it is done," the nobles chanted.
"So be it. Let the offering be brought forth."
Two of the noblemen bowed respectfully to the High Priest, then passed into the house. The others fell into a worshipful silence, in which one or two could be heard muttering prayers. The high priest turned to see the newcomers.
Sarai bas-Malko, daughter of the sufet, had been the desire of many. She had flirted with the handsome, spoken with the wise, gone forth with the daring. In the ancient custom of Tyre she had yielded her maidenhood to a stranger, some said a Hellene, among the maidens of the city in the temple of Tanith. She was a ripe maiden indeed, in the fullness of her beauty, with long straight dark hair, flashing dark eyes, and warm brown skin. From those who had dived with her it was learned, and agreed, that her breasts were without peer, and her figure in the whole was lithe yet richly curved. Nobles dreamed of the children they might get upon her, and of the pleasure the begetting would afford.
But now she was bent on other matters. She was clad in a simple robe, but it was the purple of the myrmex, the great treasure of the Punics, closed by a great jewel upon her shoulder. Two gold necklaces, a simple chain with an image and a great complex collar, clasped her neck; she wore no rings or bracelets. And indeed, her feet were bare. Likewise, while she wore simple earrings in her shapely ears, no ornament adorned her brow; her hair was caught up in a coronet of braids.
Two attendants escorted her, young women of the nobility, less gorgeously dressed, but as if a queen might be so escorted; a strange thing indeed, in the timocratic City.
Sarai placed her hands before her face, and bowed to the high priest. "I come," she said.
Hanno stared back sternly. "You are resolved to this," he said, not quite a question.
"I am."
The high priest thumped with his staff on the courtyard. Two more maidens entered from the house, bearing between them a cushion. The cushion was weighed down with a crown; not the ancient crown of Tyre, brought hence ages agone, but a copy, made in sturdier metal but clad in gold. They brought their burden to the priest, bowing to present it.
"Kneel, child," Hanno said to the woman. Sarai knelt, bowing her head. The priest took the crown from the cushion and raised it to the sky, praying as he did. Then, gently he lowered it upon the woman's head, crowning her in the ancient ways of the ancient kings.
"So be it," he said, and all the nobles repeated after him, "So be it."
Her head weighed down by the diadem, Sarai presented a truly regal appearance. She swallowed, gathering her strength to go on. Then, her resolution gathered, she stepped forward. The nobles cleared the way for her. Slowly and deliberately, she made her way to the end of the courtyard, then turned to face the nobles. A wailing came from the house, as of a woman in mourning. All pretended not to hear it.
Sarai raised her head and said, "We accept this burden for the good of the City, the welfare of its people, and the future of its spirit. We surrender Ourself into the authority of the Gods, standing as symbol and spirit of Our City, taking its destiny unto Ourselves.
"Do what you must. We release you of it."
Behind her was a low stool. Without looking, she stepped up on it. Behind the stool was a great cross. She raised her hands to the beams and leaned back.
There in the thin purple robe, Sarai made a striking figure. Her muscles were tensed as she held herself posed for the sacrifice. Her upswept figure called to the minds of some the ancient fertility goddesses of their homes, brought from ancient Tyre to continue blessing the begetting of their heirs; others were minded of the statues the Greeks set up, of mere women in the undress of goddesses, their smiling beauty untroubled by mortality. Sarai brimmed with fertility and with beauty, a fitting gift to the Gods.
The high priest nodded. Two nobles stepped forward, bearing higher stools. They placed these beside the cross, then withdrew. Two more took their places, bearing nails and hammers. These men stood upon the stools, placing the nails against the warm tan skin of the crowned woman. They turned to look at Hanno. He began to invoke the Gods to accept this sacrifice, to take into this mere body the doom they had foretold. With a mighty invocation, he ended his prayer, declaring, "So be it."
"So be it," the nobles echoed in chorus.
"So be it," Sarai responded.
At that signal, the men made the first strokes driving the nails into her wrists. Queenly even in her sacrifice, Sarai did not cry out as the metal pierced her flesh. Soon enough the spikes were well-seated in the crossbeam; the nailers stepped back and merged with the other nobles.
Two more nobles came forth, approaching the cross. They lifted Sarai's bare shapely feet from the stool and held them against the upright of the cross. Another removed the stool. Still another pair came forth with a spike and a hammer each. Chanting prayers, they drove the spikes through the crowned woman's feet, nailing her to the cross. The high priest then cried "Accept this sacrifice!"
"So be it," the nobles responded.
"So be it," Sarai said, consenting to her death.
Two of the nobles, chosen by lot, remained to attend upon the sacrifice. One was younger, of an age to have offered for Sarai's hand. Obeying his charge to attend, viewing the sacrifice, he was much tormented by irreligous lusts. Sarai's upthrust arms drew her breasts upwards, making them stand high and proud under the thin purple gown. The breeze blew its lower fringes about, revealing her shapely legs, now tensed by the strain of the crucifixion. She had dived with him on occasion, teasing him with the promise of passion to come. Now she was ascending to a higher fate.
When the sun was at its highest, the watchmen were changed. The young one was bid speak to another within the house of the sufet. To his relief, the one who would have intercourse with him was the beautiful priestess of Tanit who had been a royal handmaiden, and she relieved his lusts with practiced, professional ease, as she eased her qualms over this act with the joining of their bodies.
The omens had declared that a royal sacrifice must be made, a crowned one must die for the Gods. Now in keeping with that will, Sarai hung upon a cross, clad in purple robes and regally crowned. The flies, though, respected neither the gods nor royalty.
The afternoon watchers had a different sight. A gull, bird of the sea, landed upon the head of the cross. Curious, it looked to one side and another, peering at the burden. Usually, these trees with their strange fruit were without the town. It tried an experimental peck at the glittering target to one side, but overbalanced itself and crashed to the ground, then, as if embarrassed, staggered and flapped away.
But the gull had detached the great jewel that held up Sarai's royal robe. Unsupported, it slid down her body, revealing her splendid breasts, their dark nipples tensing with every flexion of her arms. In the pain and suffering of her offering to the gods, the sacrifical woman was sweating heavily. Since she wore no undergarment, the royal purple robe stuck to her lower body, revealing even more of her shapely figure. The strain of her muscles as she raised herself to breathe could be discerned. Her now-bared breasts tightened with every raising of her body in a disturbingly exciting fashion. Small wonder that the afternoon watch accepted its relief with patent relief, and the two noblemen went to a certain house in the side streets of the town, where fair women not overburdened with clothing were available for a quite reasonable sum.
As the sun went down, Sarai bid it farewell. Soon she would be accepted by the Gods. For now, she hung between earth and sea and sky, part of none; cut off from the realm of life, not yet taken into the realm of death. Were it not an honor to so suffer, it would be degrading. Sweat dripped from her body, to mix with the blood from her pierced limbs, to trickle between her bared breasts, and to soak her garment, staining her skin with the royal purple.
In the chill of the night, the weakened sacrifice offered up her life, after her suffering. Her weary and wounded limbs no longer possessed the strength to lift her up for breath. As her vision dimmed, her spirit girded itself for its release. Sarai's head fell against her uplifted arm; her breasts no longer lifted in breathing. Her spirit fled its earthly form, her sacrifice accomplished.
In the dawn, the noble guards saw clearly the passing and acceptance of the sacrifice. They summoned priests. The priests issued a prayer to the gods for their acceptance of the royal sacrifice, standing beneath the crucified body of the woman. With more prayers, they pulled the nails from the corpse's feet and wrists, lowering her body carefully and placing it on a bier.
This was borne to the temple of Tanit, where priestesses removed the stained, fouled robe and folded it to be burned with its wearer. Lovingly, they washed Sarai's body, then clad it in a more gorgeous purple robe. Kidskin shoes hid her pierced feet, while elaborate bracers covered the wounds in her wrists.
Keening and wailing, the handmaidens of the goddess bore the funeral bier to the pyre that awaited it before the temple of Melekh-Karth. The sufet would light his daughter's funeral pyre, and afterwards gather the ashes into a golden urn, which would join the ashes of children in the temple.
Meanwhile, the priestess Salimat, who had guiltily enjoyed her time yesterday in the sufet's home, was lying with her young lover again. They would name their daughter "Sarai", so they had to be sure to conceive her first. It might take several tries, but Salimat did not mind the effort.
Great story and artwork MR Phlebas!! Really classic one.
 
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