Authors: B.A. Bradbury
Tags: #chimera, #erotic, #ebook, #historical, #fiction, #domination, #submission, #damsel in distress, #corporal punishment, #spanking, #BDSM, #S&M, #bondage, #master, #discipline, #Slave, #mistress, #castle. Soldiers, #princess
B. A. BRADBURY
first published in 2005 by
Chimera Books Ltd
Digital edition converted and published by
Andrews UK Limited 2010
New Authors Welcome
Copyright © B. A. Bradbury
The right of B. A. Bradbury to be identified as author of this book has been asserted in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyrights Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Chimera - a creation of the imagination, a wild fantasy
This novel is fiction – in real life practice safe sex
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
The characters and situations in this book are entirely imaginary and bear no relation to any real person or actual happening.
Lia heard footsteps. Not knowing what was happening was simply unbearable, and she turned her head in time to see Dagna hand Holmann a stick the length of his arm and as stout as his thumb. The overseer took a step closer.
‘Hold them wrists tight now, Jarold,’ he said. ‘Have you got her?’
‘I got her, master,’ the young man confirmed. ‘She won’t get away from me, never fear.’
‘Good lad.’ Holmann raised his arm and whipped the stick down, and Lia gave a yelp of shock at the fierce, stinging pain. More strokes followed, equally cruel, and soon her bottom was on fire. She had never been beaten before, and hadn’t been prepared for how much it would hurt.
Each Friday evening, at dusk, three soldiers from the town would come to their hut in the village and use Lia’s sister. For an hour, or sometimes two, Lia would sit beside her father and try to ignore what was taking place behind the curtain that screened the girls’ bed. The curtain was ragged and threadbare, and the soldiers always insisted the rushlight stay lit, so that little was left to the imagination. Lia was only too aware of Helma being made to kneel and suck the men’s cocks, or lie on the bed while they mounted her one after the other, or in pairs, or all three at once. Neither Lia nor her father spoke, but Lia’s silence was a resentful, bitter one, while her father seemed more bewildered than angry. He would simply sit and stare sadly at the floor until the men left. Then Helma would emerge, unable to meet their eyes, and go out to the stream to bathe, and when she returned Lia would help her prepare supper.
Helma was beautiful – everyone said she was the most beautiful young woman in all the land – which was why the soldiers wanted her. She worked in the fields, as Lia’s father did, and as Lia herself had done since she was a little girl, planting and weeding and gathering the crops according to the season, and carrying water from the river in dry spells. Lia loved her sister, as she loved her father – though she hated his weakness – and dreamed of taking herself and them away, far from the soldiers. But serfs weren’t allowed to leave the village without the overseer’s permission, and there was nowhere to go in any case. If they ran they would be caught and hanged, as a warning to others. And so it went on, week after week; and Lia grew more angry and desperate, and her father more bewildered, and her sister more unhappy, until Lia thought her heart would break.
Perhaps one day it would have spilled over into violence. Perhaps she would have struck out at them, though it meant death for a serf even to raise a hand against a soldier. But Lia thought it might come to that, for she felt her head would burst with it all. And there was another possibility, equally frightening. Lia would soon be of marriageable age. The soldiers knew this, and had started looking at her in a different way, as though she was their property. The very last time one had smiled at her knowingly, and she realised they would soon take her behind the curtain too. And the worst thing of all was that she could do nothing to stop them.
Then, just two days later, something happened that changed everything. The castle guards came for her.
There were two of them, wearing the red and black surcoats of the citadel over their iron mail, and they stood in the doorway and told her father she was wanted. Her father just gaped at them, uncomprehending, whilst Helma gave a sob of dismay, as if she knew she would never see Lia again. She blocked their path, pleading with them, saying Lia was a good girl and had done no wrong. One pushed her roughly aside and stepped into the hut, and Helma seized his arm and tried to hold him back. Lia froze in horror, knowing they could kill her for laying hands on them. She tried to speak, to explain to them, but they told her to get her things and be quick or it would be the worse for all of them.
So Lia ran to the bed, pulling out the bag beneath that held her few belongings – her spare smock, a washcloth and comb, and the small wooden cross Father Adalard had given her. One of the guards had taken Helma out, and when Lia ran past her father, standing helpless and bewildered still, she saw her sister being led away. The second man had waited, and now they followed, along the street towards the village square.
She wanted to hurry, but her escort wouldn’t be rushed, so Helma and the first guard stayed a little way ahead. When they reached the square the man took Helma up the steps onto the platform. Lia cried out then, knowing what was coming, but her throat was tight with fear and what emerged was little more than a whimper.
At a word from the guard Helma started to take off her clothes. She was frightened, Lia could see, looking around for her sister even while she undressed. She caught sight of Lia and opened her mouth as if to call out, but the guard cuffed her and spoke sharply to her.
A small crowd was already gathering, for Sunday was the day of rest and the streets were full of folk. There were excited murmurs and some curses as spectators jostled for position. A serf’s life was hard, with few entertainments or diversions, and someone else’s suffering was a treat not to be missed. Finally Helma stood before them, naked and trembling.
‘Don’t spare the rod, captain!’ someone called out. ‘Lay on hard and make those big tits bounce!’
It was Osgood the miller. All around the platform familiar faces were grinning and laughing: men, women, and even the children.
The guard spoke again, and Helma stepped between the posts, spread her legs and raised her arms. The guard took her wrists and ankles in turn and tied them to iron rings at the top and bottom of the posts, so she formed a cross, pale against the dark backdrop of huts. A chorus of voices rose up, competing with each other in their lewdness. Helma’s eyes were full of shame and fear.
The guard took an ash wand from the barrel and flexed it to test its resilience. Helma was to be flogged, and the severity of the beating was entirely his to determine. He could flay the skin off her if he so wished, and there was no one to gainsay him. Grimfaced, he drew back his arm and struck her across the bottom, brutally hard. She shrieked, shock and pain clear in her face, and her back bent like a bow as her hips thrust forward.
‘If you’re wanting something to brace against, mistress,’ the miller called out, pretending to unfasten his hose, ‘I have a staff right here!’
There were peals of laughter from the crowd. The second guard led Lia away, pulling her arm when she hesitated. She went with him for her sister’s sake, knowing that anything she did or said would only compound the crime and bring the guards’ fury down on both of them. All the way down the street she heard the sound of rod striking bare flesh, and Helma’s terrible cries. Her punishment, Lia knew, would be long and severe as an example to all. Soldiers and overseers must be obeyed. For a serf, failure to comply meant pain or death – there was no other way.
The guard had a horse tethered outside the inn, which he mounted and hauled Lia up behind him. As they moved off she gave one last look back, her chest aching, then faced forward and tried not to think of her sister’s suffering. There was nothing she could do to help except obey without question: the rule all serfs were taught at an early age. She could do that, she thought, in spite of her misery.
The town was built on a hill by a bend in the river. Around the lower slopes ran a palisade, the tops of the logs sharpened into spikes, with wooden watchtowers at intervals and a single gate. The towers were permanently manned and the gate shut and barred at night, for these were troubled times when Attland must look to her defences. There had been skirmishes on the border with neighbouring Osburg just this past month, and folk talked fearfully of war.
The lord and master of Attland was King Ulric, who ruled the town and all the land around for three days’ march: some two score villages and countless hundreds of folk. There were other kings in other lands, Lia had heard, for freedmen were allowed to travel, and she would eavesdrop on the conversation of merchant or priest whenever she could, hoping to learn of a place she might take her sister and father, where they could be free. But she was a woman, almost, and the idea that serfs might escape their bondage was no more than a childish fantasy.
They approached the gate, the horse labouring on the slope that steepened suddenly at the last, and Lia saw there were more soldiers on guard here than usual. For as long as she could remember she had come to the town with her father and sister for the midsummer fair. Everyone came, freeborn and serf alike, to celebrate the feast of Saint Ivar, patron saint of Attland. Happy times, with bread and ale for all; but Lia’s heart was heavy now as the horse plodded along the narrow, busy streets, past shops and inns and the huts of common folk. The crowds thinned as they climbed higher, past the soldiers’ barracks and the brick and timber houses of wealthy merchants, and the cathedral of pale grey stone. At the very top of the hill stood the castle, with its high walls to keep out the unwanted, and tall towers flying red and black flags. This was where the king and queen dwelt, along with the royal guard and household.
The horse’s hooves thudded hollowly as they crossed the wooden drawbridge over the ditch that surrounded the walls. Lia had never been in this place, and as they passed through the stone archway she gawked at the thick walls and the towers with narrow slits for windows, and the hard-packed earth of the ward with not a blade of grass in sight. But most of all she stared at the keep, a massive square tower that sat in the middle of the ward. This was the very heart of the citadel, Father Adalard had told her – indeed, it was the heart of the kingdom, for it housed the royal family and their household. She looked up at the high windows, thinking she might see the king, but they remained shadowy and empty, and her eyes were drawn eventually to the bustle around her.
There were soldiers everywhere, and other folk too: squires practicing with sword and shield, grooms saddling horses, a blacksmith working at his forge, a boy hurrying from the keep on some errand, a parchment clutched in his hand. Around all four sides of the ward, nestling close up against the wall, were wooden huts with thatched roofs. Lia supposed this was where these people lived.
The guard rode up to the keep and they dismounted. A man was standing in the doorway watching their approach, and he stepped forward. He was wearing an embroidered tunic, and his belt bore a silver clasp and a fancy dagger in a sheath. Lia knew from his apparel that this was a person of importance.
‘Where’s Manfrid?’ he asked.
‘Back at the village, seneschal,’ the guard said. ‘This one’s sister earned herself a beating.’
The man turned to Lia, who was standing with her head bowed meekly as a serf should in the presence of her betters. He put his finger under her chin and tipped up her face, turning her head from side to side. ‘She’s a pretty one, for a fact. What’s your name, girl?’
‘Lia, master,’ she whispered, trembling.
‘Well, Lia, a word of advice: work hard and obey orders. We have no time for slackers and troublemakers here. There’s no shortage of rods in the castle, nor men who know how to use them, as wayward girls soon learn to their cost. Go along with Garek now and remember what I said. I’ll be keeping a close eye on your progress.’
He told the guard to deliver her to the kitchen. Garek took her arm and led her through the doorway into the keep, then turned left into a low arched passageway. After a dozen paces the passageway opened out into a big chamber with a curved ceiling, like the inside of a barrel. To her left was a huge open fireplace, with pots and kettles hanging on hooks, and a large roasting spit. In the middle of the room was a big wooden table, and in the corner a long stone sink.
There were two men and three women, and Garek left her in the care of a short fat bald man whom she presumed was the overseer. A change of master is always a frightening time for a serf, and this man seemed stern and unfriendly. He looked Lia up and down, scowling.
‘And who might you be?’
‘Are you a virgin?’ She nodded, startled by the directness of the question. ‘We’ll see,’ he said. ‘Stand still.’ He pulled up her skirts and pushed his hand between her legs. Lia whimpered, trembling. ‘Keep still, I said!’ he growled, as he carefully eased his finger into her sex and explored her. ‘Intact – and see to it you stay that way. You’re in the royal castle now, not some stinking village hut with goat shit on the floor. Only a noble like the king or Prince Baran can deflower you here, understand?’
‘You’d best not forget it. I’ll have the skin off your arse if you let some servant or rough-arsed soldier mount you, make no mistake.’
He glared at her a moment longer to reinforce the threat, then turned to a handsome young woman with jet-black hair. She was standing just behind the man with her arms folded, staring at Lia in a hostile fashion.
‘Where’s Jarold?’ the overseer asked her.
‘You sent him off to Cavell with the fish order,’ she said, ‘remember?’
‘So I did,’ the man grumbled. ‘Bugger!’
He looked at the three others in the room. The first was a young man, occupied cleaning vegetables. The second was a fair-haired girl about Lia’s age, who was crouched by the fire stirring a pot. Watching over her was a plump old woman with a round red face and grey hair done up in a bun. The two young ones kept their heads down and busied themselves with their allotted tasks, while the old woman looked on indifferently. The overseer finally jabbed his chin at the young man.
‘You, Durwin, take this one to the laundry and get her some respectable clothes, then show her where she sleeps. Make sure she stows her things tidily, mind. And don’t dawdle: there’s a lot to do today and we’re short-handed with Jensine away.’
The young man beckoned to Lia, and she followed him to the far end of the kitchen and out through another door.
‘That was our overseer, Holmann, in case you didn’t know,’ he said with a wry smile, as soon as they were out of earshot. ‘Friendly soul, isn’t he? It’s a miracle he called me
just now – usually it’s
. You said your name’s Lia?’
She nodded. He was a year or two older than her and a head taller, with unruly brown hair. He seemed friendly enough, and had nice eyes and a nice smile. He took her along a narrow passageway with storerooms on either side packed with crates and barrels, explaining that they contained provisions to feed the garrison in case of siege. The sight of all these stores made Lia think there might be some truth in the rumours of war with Osburg.