K is for Know the Protocol – High Protocol, That Is.
K is for Know the Protocol – High Protocol, That is.
If you’ve noodled around the lifestyle much at all, you’ve probably heard the word ‘protocol’ mentioned here and there. The word itself is likely familiar enough, but what does it mean when specifically connected to BDSM and, in particular, what does it mean when you say ‘High Protocol‘?
To me, High Protocol means super formal roleplay, but there are a LOT of people who would take great exception to my saying that. To them High Protocol is very serious business. And yet, in the real world I haven’t found a lot of consistency in those who practice it. By that, I mean to say that High Protocol means different things and consists of different rules depending on what practicing group you belong to. Different venues observe different forms, so to me that says High Protocol can be whatever you want it to be, and when it comes to the realm of fantasy BDSM and spanking literature, the same holds true. High Protocol becomes quite simply the set of rules that govern how the dominant and submissive interact, both between themselves and toward other dominants and submissives, especially within a group of like-minded individuals.
‘Becoming Clissine’ by Anastasia Vitsky is a story created around a fantasy version of High Protocol that is every bit as rigid and formal as any I’ve witnessed in real life. What it shows really well is the unity of the political, religious and social structure both publicly in this dystopian world in which they live and privately within each household.
For instance, the public side:
“Clissa, daughter of Lystel, you may rise.” Altrea, Head Dis of the Bastil, frowned at the gasps and murmurs of the crowd. The Bastil, the high council of twelve respected representatives, six women and six men, oversaw the far-reaching implementation and enforcement of Bastian law.
A small by wiry young woman struggled against the chains shackling her legs and arms, glowering from beneath heavy locks of black hair. The usual glossy tresses fell across her face, eyebrows, and enormous dark brown eyes ringed with dark lashes. The pale, smooth skin was marred by a myriad of cuts and bruises in various stages of healing.
“Lystel?” One of the seated audience members whispered to another.
“No, that can’t be right,” another responded. “Not the House of Lys.”
“That’s their daughter? The one betrothed to the daughter of Tre?”
Altrea nodded to her assistant, who rose and clanged the heavy, copper bell. Gong, gong, gong. The metallic reverberations swept through the room, deafening all ears. Altrea rose to her feet.
Clissa shuffled in place, the black-coated chains clanking with each movement. Her left eye itched, and her uncombed hair fell every which way. She squinted with her right eye, ducking her head so her straggly hair would fall over the swollen left one. She had been beaten until her back refused to straighten, but if the Head Dis of the Bastil stood, so did everyone else. Even those who rejected her authority.
“Assistant! Read the charges against Clissa, daughter of Lystel.”
Somewhere in the crowd the Dis and Nur of Lys, Lystel and Methra, watched the proceedings. They had forgone their usual seats of honor in favor of anonymity. Although children from a few other well-known houses had children run afoul of the Bastil, none of their Dises were as prominent as the House of Lys–or as vocal in their opposition to leniency for criminals. Would Lystel ever be able to overcome her shame? Had Clissa ruined their House forever?
The bell-ringer unrolled an elegant parchment scroll. The Bastil held with tradition. In recent generations, electronic and technological improvements had changed life in everyday Bastia, but not within the walls of the Bastil. Here, court scribes took notes in shorthand while using quill-and-ink pens. In fact, all Bastian children visited the Bastil to learn about their history.
The bell-ringer read from the list. “Fornication. Sodomy. Heterosexuality.”
The hall rocked with outraged gasps.
Clissa recalled, against her will, Destral’s soft, tender lips brushing against her neck. There had been no “vaginal penetration,” but how could she explain what had happened without condemning herself? No one would listen, anyway. They had already made up their minds.
“Sexual crimes against nature and humanity.”
A horrified cry rose from one of the front pews, and several ushers rushed to assist an elderly lady who had fainted. Clissa tossed her head back and squared her shoulders underneath the thick, rough cotton jumpsuit. She stared at one audience member after another, holding her face expressionless until each one turned away. They were used to seeing humble supplication. Even allowing for the arrogance of youth, Clissa’s lack of repentance must have been unnerving in its lack of precedence. She narrowed her eyes at a father who held his son in his lap. The son could not have been older than seven or eight, the age when Clissa had first been allowed to witness Bastil proceedings. How proud she had been! What contempt she had shown the poor prisoner hauled into court. Remembering that day, Clissa’s anger faltered.
“Idolatry. Destruction of our covenant with Basti.”
At the word “Basti,” all except for Clissa raised their right hands to their forehead and genuflected.
That right there, is a scary world and yet you can see the order and the control. You can see the hierarchy. And then, there’s the private side of this dystopian life:
“Go get your switch,” Soris commanded, and Clissa’s heart sank to her knees.
She slunk past Soris and Karielle and took the nasty pencil-thin rod by her fingertips. Her bottom and legs burned as she took each step toward Soris and presented the rod without a word.
“Well,” Soris asked her.
Clissa looked at Karielle, who remained half-hidden behind Soris’ shadow. Clissa didn’t feel nearly as smart and confident as she had the day before. For the first time, she felt as small and young as the child they insisted she should be. She thought, fleetingly, that at least Soris would use the switch and not the whip. She walked toward the alter and looked back at Soris over her shoulder. “Here?” she asked, bending her knees.
Soris led Karielle by the wrist and nudged Clissa aside with her foot. She make Karielle lean on the small railing in front of the statue of Basti. “Watch,” she ordered Clissa. “See what happens to little girls who manipulate my rules and defy Bastian law.”
Uncomprehending, Clissa watched as Soris lifted the switch. Then, when it was too late, she sprang forward. The stick had already landed across Karielle’s backside. She stayed perfectly in position, her head lowered and her hair falling into her face. Soris gathered Karielle’s hair to fall across her left shoulder and turned Karielle’s face toward Clissa.
“Show her,” Soris said. “Show Clie the consequences of her actions.”
Clissa cried out as the switch lashed again, and Karielle’s usual self-control could not suppress the involuntary clench of of her jaw and pulling inward of the folds of skin between her eyes and her nose. Stop, Clissa wanted to say, but the word stuck in her throat.
As Soris lashed Karielle with the switch over and over again, Clissa tried to block out the words.
“When you lie and manipulate and disobey, it doesn’t affect just you. When you bring someone else into your deceit, she will also suffer the consequences. Do you think I didn’t know what you’ve been doing all along? If you’d learned your lesson the first time, your Nur–whom you claim to care about–would not be getting a punishment right now. How does it feel to watch your Nur getting punished, Clie? When you caused it?”
Clissa stared, horrified but unable to tear her eyes away from Karielle’s distressed face, the shake in her shoulders, and the relentless rise and fall of the whistling stick. It should be me, she thought. Nur wouldn’t have disobeyed Dis if I hadn’t tricked her into it.
To me, this story would not have had the impact it did without the High Protocol that governed both the public and private lives of Basti’s citizens. I liked the contrast–the coldness of the public formalness; the soft and loving side of private domestic discipline. The comparison of this and the type of High Protocol that governs the real world interactions between Doms and subs in, say, a High Tea setting, are like apples and oranges. But the strictness is there, the structure is almost as rigid, and I’ve known people to absolutely lose their sh*t just as completely over the smallest infractions, just like she showed in this story.
I would not want to live a High Protocol life, not even for a few hours. But there are people out there who live it just as close to 24/7 as they can possibly get. I won’t say they’re crazy, but I will say this: Thank goodness we live in a world of diversity. I think it keeps us interesting.
Betrothed at birth to the daughter of one of the most prominent Houses in the totalitarian theocracy of Bastia, soon-to-be-college-graduate Clissa isn’t sure whether she is ready to undergo the Mar. Once she becomes the Nur, or the submissive partner, to her betrothed she will have to submit all major decisions of her life to the beautiful Helaine, whom she has met once. She must marry a woman, according to the decrees of Bastian law.
Caught between a desire to “get along” and the growing awareness he is “het” and is attracted to Clissa, her childhood friend, Destral, kisses her one day as they study in their college library. Shocked at the feelings the kiss awakens, Clissa begins to question everything she has been taught. Did Basti, their deity, condemn relationships between a man and a woman? Will her growing feelings for Destral cost her everything her parents have worked hard to give her?
After a mad attempt to subvert Bastian authority, Clissa is assigned to new parents for “reeducation” in the doctrine of Bastia. Her new parents are given one mandate: bring her back to rightness with Basti.
Clissa, lost in a system threatened by her very identity, must make her choice. Will Bastian authority break her, or will she find a way to break free? Can true love overcome a harsh regime?
To learn more about this amazing author, please visit Anastasia Vitsky. Later this month, she will be hosting a Sci-fi spanking blog hop, complete with tons of prizes for those who want to participate. So don’t forget to check it out and mark your calendars!
Enjoy the rest of your reading, and don’t forget to Click here to check out the other amazing authors participating in the A to Z Blog Hop going on all through June! 🙂