Sunday, June 22, 2014

The third

The cool evening light slanted through the high windows of the hall and lay in great pools upon the floor. Birds chirped and sang outside. As their music filtered in past the sound of the musicians, I watched a servant at work with her weaving. The hour that all such tasks would finish was soon, but still her hands set to their mission and threw the shuttle through at a hypnotic pace. The soft syncopated sounds of the shuttle flying through the warp and weft followed by the beater hammering the threads into place served as a counter point to the chamber music.

I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing here. I did not have some grand mission in mind. I only sought company and felt some deep need to be here. Thus, I sat at the wall where courtiers waited earlier in the day for an audience with him. I assumed that since the high seat was vacant and the hall was fairly empty, that he was away elsewhere attending to some business. An ache, deep within my bone and heart, throbbed within me and gave the usually peaceful sounding music a melancholy tone.

A plump woman with a face that shone with kindness approached me. She sat down on the bench beside me. Her golden hair was bound into an intricate braid that I had no hope of repeating. A simple gown of green with yellow linen accents was in her arms. She had been sewing it across the hall in the waning daylight when she decided to come sit with me. Seeing that I was lonely and idle, she thrust the dress into my arms. "Idle hands breed mischief," she said with an impish smile of good humor.

I wanted to laugh at hearing my grandmother's expression in such an unexpected place but I only managed a sad smile. I took up the bone needle and set to stitching the neat hem where she had left off. The light dimmed over time as I stitched inch by tiresome inch. I had all but given up hope of seeing him when the hall became a bustle of activity.

Servants lit lanterns as trundle tables were set up down the center of the space. Men laughed and joked as they worked. Women moved amongst them laying out linen cloths over the tables or directing the placement of the benches where all would sit. At the high seat, a smaller table was placed at along the end of the long one formed from the others. The smiling woman who had brought me sewing was in the midst of directing others in the placement of a feast upon those tables when she spotted my interested look.

She motioned me over and patted a seat to the right of the high seat. On the left, another throne of heavy wood sat. Where the first had been carved with elaborate designs, the other was stark in its simplicity. I knew it was here that his lady wife sat. I always found myself uneasy with my nearness to her. I worried that my presence would offend, though she had always greeted my presence with warmth and kindness. Another serving woman took the dress that I had been sewing away at the direction of the stout matron.

As I cautiously sat down in the seat that I was appointed, I watched with some trepidation as merry makers came in from the wide doors out into the courtyard. Snatches of song and gales of laughter rang in the previous stillness. People dressed in all manner of clothes took their seats along the table. No one moved towards the feat, though many complimented the servantry upon the generous portions and the beauty of it. Then, the entire company seemed to take a collective breath and look towards the doors at the same time.

He walked in with his wife on his left arm. They smiled upon each other and spoke loving words, pausing to smile in greeting to their guests. They came to the high table and I stood, keenly aware that the rest of the company present remained seated and abuzz with conversation. His wife was a tall woman with a generous figure. Golden hair that shone with the light of the room was pinned up in elaborate braids that confused the eye. Eyes the color of peridot danced with laughter as he whispered something in her ear. Beside her, I felt small, paltry, and painfully out of place.

Then he turned that radiant smile upon me. I felt warmth rush into my face and suffuse through my body. Holding his wife's hand, he took mine and raised it to his lips. He placed a ghost of a kiss upon the back of my hand as her smile of indulgence deepend. I was torn between panic and delight. As though sensing my distress, his wife lightly tugged at his hand and turned his attention from me for a moment.

He nodded and moved towards his seat. As he did so, his wife paused close beside me. In a voice so low that I nearly missed it, she said softly, "You bring him happiness. You are welcome here in all things." My heart hammered and my knees threatened to give out beneath me. I hadn't dared to believe what I had heard whispered before when I was in his company, words that his wife had looked upon us with a smile and joy.

He turned that heart melting smile of joy upon her and then upon me. "Sit, drink with us," he said. Swallowing past my sudden nervousness, I took my seat at his left hand and did as he bade me. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cinderella (pt 5)

Evening turned the world to shades of blue and purple. Ella stood on the step, watching the carriage clattering away with her stepsisters and stepmother inside. She had worked on every task put before her with heroic vigor. She did her best to keep a pleasant demeanor, though her stepsisters insulted and berated her for most of the day. When it drew nigh to time for the carriage to arrive, her stepmother looked the room over slowly before finally allowing her eyes to settle on Ella.

"You're dirty and dressed in rags," she sniffed, "Simply unacceptable. You will not go tonight." Ella resisted the urge to shriek at the older woman about how it was her fault that she didn't have anything that was her due or that she didn't have the opportunity to at least bathe. Instead, she merely watched in silence as her tormentors sashayed their way out to the carriage in high spirits. Wrapped in the insulating fog of disappointment, Ella didn't pay much attention as she wandered out to the garden.

She sat down at the foot of the tree that her mother's ashes were buried beneath. At the thought of her late mother and then her late father, Ella dropped her face into her hands and wept. As she wept, the wind sighed through the leaves of the pear tree. A voice, sweet and low, came from somewhere near to her. Softly, it called, "Poor child, why do you weep?" Ella didn't look up. She recognized that voice from a few nights before.

It was the same voice that told her to shake the tree when Ella lamented that she was forever confined to live as a slave to her stepmother and her daughters. What ever good angel it was that had told Ella to shake the tree and fetch the pumpkin seemed to have returned to her again. "Nothing I do is good enough for her," Ella sobbed, "she has taken everything from me and flaunts it before me. I will be nothing. She will see me ruined."

The sweet voice sighed and then asked, "Do you wish to go to the ball tonight?" Ella wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand. She sniffed and stared dejectedly at the rags she wore.

"I'm dirty and dressed in rags," she said, choking on the words, "They wouldn't let me near the chateau let alone in." The voice sighed and Ella felt as though the invisible presence was nodding in understanding. "I just..." she started and then dropped her face into her hands to weep again.

"Shake the tree child," the voice urged, "Eat of the fruit that falls." Ella bit her lower lip and looked up at the tree. She could see no fruit on the tree. The pear tree hadn't blossomed since the year that her father had died. Despite all of the care and attention that Ella had given it, the tree was stunted and looking withered. Only the ridiculously green leaves that sprouted at random intervals gave any clue that the tree lived. Trusting that the magic of the tree, as odd as it seemed, would happen again, Ella stood up and wrapped her arms about the tree. She shook it with all her strength three times.

Where a silver pear had fallen out of the tree the last time the sweet voice had urged her to shake it, a golden pear fell to the ground. Ella picked it up and took a deep breath, closing her eyes. It smelled like a normal pear at that perfect ripe state that was the essence of all pears. Ella took a bite from it and a sensation like warm water washed over her. Ella opened her eyes and looked down to find herself wearing a cloth of gold gown. She could feel her hair was coiffed and piled up in the latest style and she no longer smelled of the cabbage she had boiled for their supper. "How will I get there?" she asked, suddenly anxious that the magic would wear off before she had gone anywhere, "What shall I do if I'm asked to dance again?"

"Fetch a cabbage and four lizards," the voice said, "Place them beneath the tree and squeeze the juice of the pear onto them." Ella found a small cabbage and a five lizards. As she set them down beneath the tree, her heart hammered. The fifth lizard was in the midst of wandering off when Ella squeezed the juice of the golden pear onto the assortment. The scent of pears rose up strongly and Ella's eyes were dazzled by a brilliant light about the lizards and cabbage.

She brought up one silk clad arm to shield her eyes from the light when it vanished. Behind her, she heard the sound of hooves upon the stones of the street. Ella turned and found a small gilded coach with a pair of white horses. A driver sat dressed in a severe looking black suit with his whip at the ready. A pair of footmen similarly dressed stood at the door. Ella took a step towards the magical coach. "I am afraid," she said very quietly.

"Do not be afraid, child," the voice said, "Your mother's good will goes with you. Attend the ball. Return at midnight, for that is when the charm will end." Ella wanted to ask the voice what it meant in stating that her mother's good will went with her but a curious silence filled the air, leaving Ella feeling terribly, terribly alone. The footman to the right of the door held out his hand to help her into the coach as the footman to the left opened the door.

Ella climbed in and before she knew it, the coach was clattering through the cobblestone streets at a breathtaking pace. In a trice, she had reached the chateau where the ball was being held. Before her, Ella could see the dusty black carriage that had brought her stepmother and stepsisters. Ella swallowed nervously as they exited their carriage. The taller sister looked over at the coach Ella was in and gaped. She had not seen one so magnificent before. She started to move towards the coach when her sister and mother muscled her out of their way. Some sort of trance broken, the tall sister followed her relatives up the steps and into the grand foyer, adding her nasally laugh to the noise of the crowd.

Ella's coach stopped at the steps up to the entrance. Where the others gathered had their finery hidden by relatively conservative cloaks, Ella's was also of the same shimmering fabric as her gown. When the footmen opened the door to her luxurious coach, some of the other guests murmured with excitement. They expected some particularly wealthy and famous person to emerge. When Ella stepped out, a collective gasp went through the onlookers. Ella, assuming the gasp was one of dismayed shock, kept her gaze demurely lowered.

As she passed by, she could hear a few persons whispering "It's her." Ella moved in a slight bubble of isolation, for the other guests were uncertain if they were to approach her or not. As Ella walked into the grand foyer, the crowd was forced to press closer together to navigate the entrance. Ella allowed a stammering servant to take her cloak. She turned to look about the gathering when a familiar face with a very familiar scowl caught her eye. Ella paled as she realized that her stepmother had spotted her.

She started to take a step towards the door when a fanfare of horns announced the arrival of the prince. Ella's stepmother began to move through the crowd towards her with a dire look in her eye. Ella froze, her mouth going dry with terror. Caught in that frozen state of panic, Ella had the misfortune of standing in the middle of the area that the guests was moving away from to make way for the prince. Resplendant in his uniform, the prince was a striking sight.

He was at first mildly surprised by the golden clad woman standing at the end of the foyer before him. Then in rapid succession, he recognized her from the previous ball and noted the look of fear on her face. He looked over to see a stern faced older woman attempting to discreetly move through the crowd towards his previous dance partner. Deciding that the mysterious woman in gold was in need of rescue, he walked towards her.

His step was brisk and he closed the distance moments before the other woman did. He stepped between the two women. Ella looked up at him and her eyes widened. She dropped down into a deep curtsey. The prince held out a gloved hand. Ella stood and hesitantly took it. "It seems that you have admirers and those who are envious, maiden," he said, giving a wry smile. Ella swallowed and fixed her gaze on his left shoulder.

"I can not think of any who would envy me, my Lord," she said quietly. The prince laughed as though she had made a supremely witty jest. With his laughter, the entire affair seemed to turn into an exact duplicate of the previous ball. The prince kept a firm hold upon Ella's hand as he walked about the ball, greeting dignitaries. Ella moved at his side in silence, keeping her gaze demurely lowered. Her quiet, timid demeanor seemed to only add to her exotic qualities. As she moved about the ballroom at the prince's side, she could feel the eyes of her stepmother and stepsisters upon her.

The music began to play a merry tune. It was as though a court musician had decided to attempt to play one of the wilder tunes of the lower classes but with some subtle refinements for a more discerning ear. While it was expected that the prince would dance, he instead spent his time chatting with his guests with Ella at his side. Once he felt he had satisfied his quota for entertainment of his guests, the prince moved to where a dias was set up. He sat down in the gilded chair set there and motioned for one of his servants to bring a chair for Ella.

Ella sat down on the edge of the white chair that was placed near the dias. She looked down at the floor, struggling with the urge to burst into tears. She was more then certain that her stepmother would beat her black for some how attending the ball. "Tell me, maiden," the prince said as he leaned over, "What did that woman want with you?" Ella shivered and struggled with a sick feeling deep inside. "It is clear that she knows you and that you know her. It is also clear that you fear her," he said, "why?"

"I should not be here. It was folly to come," Ella said very quietly, twisting the gold embroidered lace of her handkerchief between her fingers. The prince leaned back and regarded her levelly. It was clear that this strange woman was someone who had some sort of wealth. She was well spoken and seemed to be well educated. Though, the prince was puzzled by the fact that she did not speak of a family or know even the simplest of dances.

The prince rested his chin upon his hand and looked out at the ballroom. "I believe that woman is somehow involved with you," he said quietly, "I also think that it is not by her kindness that you are here." Ella looked over with a sudden, startled expression on her face at his second statement. The prince tapped a finger on his chin, looking very solemn. "You fear her as a prisoner fears their warden," he said slowly. He watched as the panic increased in Ella's eyes. "Where are you from?" he asked.

"I... I am from here," Ella said, suddenly wanting to kick herself for how silly she sounded. The prince's eyebrows went up in mild surprise.

"You live within these lands?" he said. Ella nodded. "Interesting, most interesting," he murmered as he waved an eager servant away. The portly man came to Ella's side and held out a small tray. She looked at it and found an assortment of sweets, tiny cakes, and fruit. "Take some," the prince said, "Or he will never leave." Ella gave the servant an apologetic look but the man beamed, as though he were in on some sort of jest with the prince. Hesitantly, Ella took a cake that was scarcely large enough to sit in the palm of her hand. She looked at it, entirely unsure what the correct way to eat it was.

The prince watched her in her confusion. He smiled in bemusement. While she looked to be some radiant and terribly wealthy creature, there was a naivete that charmed him immensely. "Just put the whole thing in your mouth," he said quietly. Ella blushed before daintily doing as instructed. The prince returned his gaze to the ballroom. "Come," he said, starting too his feet, "you have a lesson to finish." Ella gave a tiny noise of alarm before he pulled her to her feet.

They walked onto the dance floor as the musicians were beginning a quadrille when the prince caught their eye. He gave a small shake of the head and then a slight nod towards Ella. Several onlookers who caught this exchange looked confused. Ella was perplexed by this as well when the musicians began playing a deceptively simple sounding piece. The prince took Ella's right hand in his left and gave a small bow. Ella returned his bow with a curtsey. "Now, copy what I do," he said in a low voice, "ignore the others and listen to the music."

He took a step towards Ella and she moved towards him. They then parted. The prince let go of her hand and walked in a wide circle, keeping his eyes on Ella. For her part, Ella walked her own circle, watching the prince anxiously. They continued on, mirroring each other's movements moving in circles and spiraling back to holding hands several times. The final time they came together and took each other's hands, the music concluded. Polite applause filled the air and Ella blushed furiously. The prince laughed and set a hand at Ella's back. He guided her back to where they had been seated.

A servant brought them glasses of champagne. The prince watched as other dancers began a quadrille. He looked over the crowd and found the sour faced woman speaking with two women who he presumed could only be her daughters for their looks of displeasure were equally unpleasant. "Tell me of your family, maiden who has no name," he said, looking over at Ella.

"My parents are dead," Ella said quietly, looking down at the glass of champagne. "My father died six years ago," she said, "I live with my stepmother and stepsisters." The prince nodded, making the connection between the woman at his side and the women he saw in the crowd speaking between themselves.

A Dark Rider (pt 5)

Gunther took a deep breath, savoring the mingled scents of sandalwood, roses, and that unidentifiable whisper of pheromones that surrounded his wife when she was the slightest bit aroused. It was a smell that he would never get enough of. The trembling woman closed her eyes and turned her face away from him. Tears of confusion slowly made their way down her cheek. Caught up in a tangled web of emotions, memories, and lust, Hilde found herself unable to think.

"Please," she said weakly, "Gunther, just go." Gunther nuzzled the place where her neck and shoulder met. That intoxicating smell grew stronger. He sighed softly. As Hilde's tears fell on to his cheek, Gunther went still. He leaned back and looked at her. She swallowed hard and barely suppressed a shudder.

"If you say the word," he said. Hilde's eyes closed tighter as her expression turned to one of pure agony. A part of her insisted that she needed to say the safeword, that it was vital she did so. Another wanted to scream in some undefinable emotion. And she also wanted to just sink into his arms and let him have his way with her. Gunther watched how her breasts rose and fell with each quick, shallow gasp she made. Somehow knowing the struggle roiling within her and aware how precarious her will was at the moment, Gunther chuckled.

"Shall I lay Doombringer between us?" he said, "Not even my shadow would cross over that blade. We would lay as chaste as children." Again, she appeared pained. Gunther moved a minute distance back from Hilde. A deep breath would have closed the distance, but as Hilde turned to look at him he maintained that tormenting close yet painfully far distance. Gunther brought up his right hand, holding it just away from her left cheek, a promise of contact. "Say the word," he said, a soft challenge in his voice, "speak and everything stops, Brynhildr."

The thought of not feeling his skin against hers struck her like a physical blow to the gut. If he hadn't mentioned his sword, Hilde would have been able to convince herself that it was all some kind of game. She would have found away to forestall until he lost interest, thereby relieving herself of the choice he put before her. "Just go," she whispered, not wanting to say the safeword but not able to give herself over to what he was kindling in her blood. A smile of triumph blossomed on Gunther's face. Hilde looked away quickly but she didn't move fast enough to avoid seeing the knowledge in his eyes that she was willing to engage in this dance of wills.

Gunther laid his fingertips lightly upon Hilde's cheek. Heat burned in them, though his touch was feather light, her skin warmed beneath his touch. She stiffened and shivered with a shuddering gasp. Slowly, he caressed her cheek and down along her neck. Hilde pressed herself flat against the wall behind her, making a small noise of distress. When he reached the neckline of her gown, Gunther set his hand upon where her collarbone peeked out. The full weight of his hand soothed something deep inside even as the heat that poured off made her take a sharp breath. He ran his thumb lightly over her windpipe.

In that brief moment, panic slammed into her and Hilde brought her hands up with a soft cry of terror. Gunther frowned but remained still. "Is that so?" he mumured. Hilde hiccoughed and covered her face with her hands. Slowly, gently, Gunther moved her hands away from her face and gathered her into his arms. Held against him, Hilde dropped her forehead to his shoulder and wept with agony. His hands moved in slow circles over her back. The perfume of her arousal had vanished when his hand almost settled at the base of her neck.

With great care, he brought her with him to sit upon the edge of the bed. Hilde looked at him in utter misery. In a choked voice she said, "Help me. I want to forget." The monster within Gunther chafed against his restraint. Hilde reached for him, her eyes welling up with tears. "Please," she begged. Gunther found himself unable to resist that pained, desperate plea. He grabbed her shoulders and roughly dragged her to him. As his mouth closed over hers, Hilde gave a small sigh of relief.

He kissed her until his body screamed at him to stop and breathe, and then he pushed himself for a few heartbeats longer. Winded, Hilde looked dazedly at him, that quiet anguish still haunting her eyes. That elusive scent, however, had returned. Aware that he needed to be more cunning in his tactics, Gunther slid his hands down from her face to her shoulders, carefully avoiding even a suggestion of pressure upon her throat. The soy-silk was cool beneath his hot hands as he dragged his fingertips from the nape of her neck to above her arms. Hilde's eyes rolled somewhat as a delicious shiver ran through her.

He ran his fingertips along the neckline of the gown from where it just barely sat on her shoulders to just before her throat. For a moment, Hilde froze in place. He moved his hands down to cup her breasts through the thin fabric of the gown and her shrift beneath. Hilde sighed and a measure of anxious tension eased out of her. Gunther was torn between his animalistic hunger to ravage her with all the fury that burned in his blood and deep concern that he may wound her deeper in doing so. He closed his eyes, going terribly still in his inward struggle.

Hilde took hold of his left hand and brought it up to her face. He cradled her cheek in a reflexive gesture of affection. She turned her face so that her lips pressed against the heel of his hand. Gunther felt Hilde's lips move back from her teeth and then the soft press of her teeth against the meat of his hand at the base of his thumb. It was a silent plea, one that she had made at other times, when no dark shadows lay over them. Gunther opened his eyes and looked over at her left hand. He took hold of it with his right and brought it up to his mouth.

He gave a soft snarl before biting into her hand with bruising force. Hilde gasped and started to give a cry of surprise when Gunther's left hand muffled the noise. Continuing to hold his hand over her mouth, Gunther bit her wrist and then began to make his way up her forearm. Hilde's muffled little cries of pained pleasure only made him want to do more. All thought of handling her with extreme gentleness were washed away as he pulled her into his arms and pressed her face hard to his shoulder before biting down on where her neck and shoulder met.

Hilde gave a low groan and shuddered. Gunther lifted his head, breathing hotly in her ear as he took hold of her wrists and brought them behind her back. Pinning her arms into an uncomfortable position, he dragged her with him as he leaned back onto the bed. Hilde meweled softly and squirmed sensually against him. Gunther twisted a bit of the satiny fabric on Hilde's wrists between his fingertips. Applying a bit of his Green essence, the soy-silk meshed together into one, binding Hilde's wrists together with the fabric of her dress. So restrained, Gunther rolled Hilde onto her back.

He stood up and looked down at her. Where her expression had been a mixture of fear and other things, she now wore only a look of pleasure. Gunther took the heels off of her feet and then slipped her knitted lace stockings off. He cast them aside as he moved her skirts up. He noted her panties with a scoff of annoyance. Gunther tore them off of her with a minimal amount of effort, chuckling at how Hilde shivered at the feeling.

Hilde opened her eyes to look up at him with her half drugged expression of arousal and Gunther gave a feral grin. He stepped away from the bed and Hilde's eyes widened slightly. Her pained look of need as she lay defenseless before him pleased him far more then he would have told anyone but her. The knowledge that even in her most vulnerable moments, she still hungered for him like he did for her thrilled him immensely.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Dark Rider (pt 4)

Gunther felt Hilde's tears make his tunic damp and the way her choked sobs shook her body. A part of him was hungry for her. It stalked at the edge of his mind, testing his will to find away to drink those tears and set her agony to a keen edge that served to bring both of them release. Hilde, for her part, was unaware of the war that Gunther fought within his skin as she tried to muffle her weeping with a fist against her mouth. His hands moved of their own accord from her shoulders down to her hips.

Hilde hiccoughed and wrapped an arm about his shoulders, clinging to him as though she feared she would fall. Gunther gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. In her misery, Hilde wept like she had when her son was murdered, as though she had been broken. Visions of his wife caught between soul rending agony and pure ecstasy rolled through his mind, making him give a harsh sigh. Where his touch had been terribly cold earlier, heat began to replace that cold. That heat and the deep knowledge of what it meant made Hilde tear herself out of Gunther's embrace.

She didn't want to feel that way. Hilde felt as though her body betrayed her and that the slow hunger that pressed back against her misery was a threat. Gunther opened his eyes and looked over at Hilde where she stood trembling between the urge to flee and the urge to stay. In her eyes, Gunther saw terror and something pleading. Unable to help it, he smiled. Hilde's eyes widened and she stepped back. That was when Gunther's control broke.

He took a step towards her and Hilde swallowed, her sobs replaced by trembling, cold fear. Gunther halted for a moment, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. The scent was so faint he would have missed it but the mingled scents of sandalwood and roses hung in the air about his wife. He opened his eyes and looked at her. "What do you fear, Brynhildr?" he asked, unable to keep the seductive purr out of his voice.

Hilde looked away from him as a shiver went through her. "Do you fear me?" he asked, casually pulling the tunic off over his head. Gunther could practically hear her swallow nervously. A smile of pure delight was on the sadist's face. "Do you?" he said running a hand down his chest and across his abdomen to rest on his hip. A thrill of triumph ran through him as he watched Hilde's eyes follow that movement.

"No," she said in a tiny voice. Gunther grinned. He didn't need any sort of magical knightly gifts to tell that she was omitting something huge. He reached up and ran his hands through his hair, deliberately moving so that the moonlight slanting through the skylight highlighted the lines of his body. Hilde stepped back, her hands fluttering at her sides as she struggled with what to do with herself. Gunther watched her anguish and restrained a dark chuckle.

"What do you fear?" he asked, moving towards her. "You are terrified right now," he purred, "so desperately afraid that you are helpless. A Sargent of Avalon, reduced to a trembling, timorous thing. If it's not me that you fear, then what is it?" Hilde looked from side to side, her face pale. "I am your husband," Gunther said in that erotically ominous tone, "If you can not tell me, who can you? Not even the dead can keep your secrets. It was they who told Constantinus you had a fear that would unman you." Gunther smoothly and swiftly moved up to where he was a deep breath away from her.

He brought his right hand up and brushed a lock of hair away from her cheek. Hilde closed her eyes with an expression of exquisite agony and shuddered. "Don't touch me," she said, sounding as though some one was putting her through pure torture, "Just go. Forget it all and go." Gunther cradled her face between his hands as carefully as though he were picking up an egg. As he turned her face towards his, Hilde closed her eyes and bit her lips.

"Oh no," he said looking her tortured expression closely over, "no. I am not going anywhere, Brynhildr. Tell me." Hilde shivered. She tried so hard to put the feelings that Gunther was evoking aside. Hilde tried to go to that mental place of silence where she had left these memories. Gunther, sensing his prey's efforts to escape within herself laughed softly. "Flee," he said, "And I will find you, love. I will wrench the answer from you between screams and I will tear away all your clever tricks. I know you." Hilde's eyes snapped open.

Gunther turned Hilde's head slightly to the left. He pressed his lips to her cheek beside her ear. Quietly, he whispered, "Confess." Hilde gave a strangled sound of pleasure and agony. Gunther tipped his head slightly to the left and caught her earlobe between his teeth. He slowly bit down, stopping when it was just enough pain that Hilde gasped. Gunther knew the tone of that gasp very, very well.

He gently tipped her head back as he lowered his face to press his lips against the column of her throat. Hilde whimpered. "I can't do this," she moaned, "I..." Gunther held her hard against his body, noting where she had been stiffly resisting him, she softened in his arms. "Please," she whimpered, "I shouldn't." Gunther smiled. A breech was in her defenses and Gunther saw something of her fear there.

"Is it pleasure?" he sighed in her ear, "Is that what you're afraid of?" Hilde stiffened and her eyes rolled. Gunther smiled. Tonight, torture was not going to be of rough games, it seemed. "You're afraid of this," he said backing her up against the wall, "all this time, I thought you had surrendered." He chuckled, his rich voice sliding over her senses like silk. "You didn't fear Shaller," he said, sounding even more amused, "You don't fear the Tears of Ana. But..." He took a deep breath and sighed with pleasure.

"You won't scream tonight," he said, "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Gunther shook his head as he looked down at the woman who stared up at him with equal parts relief, terror, and lust in her gaze. Gunther realized that his wife hadn't looked more desirable then she did in that moment. The monster he kept so tightly controlled, that he only allowed out when they tasted the darker side of pleasure, lurked in his eyes.

Just when he didn't think Hilde could have looked more delightfully alarmed, she gave a tiny squeak of anxiety and paled. He ran his hands lightly down her sides. Hilde shivered and stared at him, transfixed by what she saw there in his gaze. A part of her went weak with desire, another part of her wanted to weep with relief that he saw truly what she tried so hard to hide. And then there was the irrational terror that falling into his arms and giving into these feelings would make her helpless or that she was somehow giving into something terrible. She realized, in that moment, she had never felt more exposed then she did just then. It brought up another bubble of irrational fear even as deep inside she felt delighted that there were no more walls between them.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Dark Rider (pt 3)

Gunther set Hilde upon her feet and kicked the door shut behind him. Hilde looked away from him, swallowing hard against a sob. Her hands trembled as she wrung them and she seemed to shrink away from him. Gunther could smell her fear, there was no floral qualities to it. It was just a nameless human scent that slowly grew more pronounced. "Help me," he said flatly, beginning to loosen the vambrace on his right wrist.

Wordlessly, Hilde helped Gunther out of the leather armor. She carefully put it aside, pointedly avoiding looking directly at him. The spider silk tunic that Gunther wore gleamed in the weak light of the moon that shone down through the skylight. His trews, also fashioned by Hilde from that silk she spun by way of her knightly gifts, seemed wrinkled from the armor but as he took a step towards her, the wrinkles fell out of the fabric. Hilde stood at the chest where she had piled the armor, looking down at the embossed breastplate.

Gunther struggled to contain his murderous wrath. He had known that something had spurred Hilde to be so relentless in her efforts to right the wrongs of the world. He had not considered this. Suspecting that she felt his anger was directed towards her, Gunther could only feel his rage growing more keen. He knew that with a few well placed bribes, he'd be able to find this person. Killing them seemed a simple solution but Gunther was more inclined to torturing them for a while, inflicting the same level of agony upon them that they had on Hilde. Thinking these thoughts, Gunther also recognized that Hilde needed him in a fashion that ran deeper then she was willing to admit.

Gunther stepped up behind her, noting how the Sargent shied away from him at first. Carefully, slowly, he placed a hand on her back. Hilde, who expected there to be heat in his touch as it had when they had argued in the past and his knightly gifts of flame came to the fore, gasped at the ice cold of his hand through the thin fabric of her gown. Little did she realize, almost all of their arguments served to only heighten his desire for her. Arguing was, for him, but one of many delightful forms of foreplay. It was part of the reason why he would needle her and provoke her ire, for it was more then merely amusing. Seeing her in a state of anger excited him.

Now, however, sex was the farthest thing from his mind. Instead of heat, there was the opposite. It seemed to Hilde that the temperature of the air between her and her husband dropped a degree of two as he moved closer. Uncertain what to make of this, she shivered and kept her eyes on the armor before her. "Look at me," he said, not a trace of Royal behind his silken sounding words. Hilde hesitantly looked over her shoulder and saw murder in her husband's eyes. She paled.

With deliberate gentleness, Gunther moved his left hand across her shoulder. Firmly, he turned her to face him. "Say the word and he disappears," he said in that terribly quiet yet ominous tone, "Avalon may be the only ones who would find what little was left of him." Hilde's eyes widened as she realized his anger was not with her. His hands upon her shoulders, Gunther did not allow her the opportunity to turn away from him with out exercising her supernatural gifts. She bit her lips and started to look away. Gunther put Royal behind his next words, pitting his will against hers, "Look at me Brynhildr. Look at me and decide."

Hilde's gaze moved back to his face. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She opened and closed her mouth, making a small choking sound. "I... I can't say it," she said in a small, wounded voice. Hilde shook her head, repeating herself in a tone that clearly spoke of her rapidly increasing sense of panic. Gunther frowned at her.

"Then I will find his name and hunt him down," Gunther said in a voice a little louder then a whisper, "And he will beg for mercy and find none. I will bring him to the edge of death and deny him escape for a long while. Only when he is broken will he be allowed to die." Hilde shook her head, bringing her hands to her mouth. A look of horror was frozen upon it. "Tell me your judgment," he said in that wintry tone.

"Life," she said in a small gasp. Gunther frowned and raised his head slightly fixing her with a critical look. "Please, Gunnar," she breathed, "don't do this. Let him be forgotten. Let him live a life of nothing and no consequence." A measure of that rage was replaced with amazement. That and confusion battled back the wrath in his gaze.

"Mercy is for the weak," Gunther said, "Yet you would give it to this nithing? He is a blight upon the earth."

"Avalon would punish you," Hilde said, putting her hands on his chest, "I can't lose you." Gunther smiled, it was a terrifying sight. It was the look of a man on the eve of battle who was joyful at the prospect of slaughter. "Gunnar," she said, her voice cracking, "Please, don't. I beg you."

"He will live, little dove," he said, his tone almost sweet, "There are other means to destroy a man then taking his life. I have friends who owe me favors. Unpleasant friends." Hilde buried her face in her hands and a great sob wracked her. Gunther gathered her close in his arms, the supernatural cold still hanging close to him like a cloak. "I will not provoke Avalon. For your sake," he said quietly in her ear, "but he will be punished for what he has done. If the laws of the commoners do not hang him, so be it. Twenty years, however, is too long for him to escape judgment for what he has done to you."

Hilde sobbed in fear. She wanted to argue that what happened was her fault to, because she didn't fight him hard enough. That she bore the blame as well because she never told anyone. The words, however, stuck in her throat and threatened to choke her as that boyfriend almost a lifetime ago had done.

*Author's note: I did not plan on this moving in this direction. I'm following the story where it leads.*