Go To Part 4
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Sanguine - Part 3
The positively divine smell of bacon and pancakes woke the girls the next morning, and they nearly floated as they followed their noses.
“Good morning,” Mareth greeted them, transferring pancakes from a large stack onto plates for each of them.
Sanguine smiled at her mother. “Good morning.”
Her sister Mistresses were still too tired and half asleep to care about anything other than food, so they mumbled their habitual morning greeting. “Good morning my Lady.”
Mareth giggled with a blush. “My Lady! Such beautiful manners!”
Sanguine kissed her on the cheek. “I know that our visit was unexpected, but I want to thank you for letting us stay, especially since we haven't been the easiest of guests.”
Mareth waved her away, gesturing for her to sit down. “I'll admit that I am still shocked by the change in your personality, and frankly horrified when I think about it too much, but I am proud of you. You work for the King and Queen themselves! What mother could ask for more?”
Amos harrumphed but otherwise remained silent as he entered the room and overheard his wife's statement.
The rest of the children excitedly piled into the room, chattering about their plans for the day. Listening to them reminded Sanguine of her life before the Tax Collector took her away. She smiled at them wistfully.
Mareth added eggs to everyone's plate, pausing for a moment to fiddle with the lace on Sanguine's dress. “I've been meaning to ask this, but how can you afford such fine clothing?”
Sanguine smiled at her mother, holding her hand carefully so that she didn't scratch her. “I get paid an enormous amount of money for what I do, but even if I didn't, Lady Desespoir simply abhors plain clothes. She gladly pays for all of us to wear clothing made to fit her tastes.”
“The frillier the better!” Misere exclaimed with a laugh.
Sanguine looked to her father for a moment, which made him shift about in his chair uncomfortably as he wondered what she was thinking. Returning her attention to her mother, she pulled a small coin purse from her cleavage.
“This is for you. I realize that I have been horribly lax about sending birthday and Solstice gifts, so I hope you'll take this and buy everyone something nice. New clothes or anything you need really.”
Mareth looked to her husband. Sure enough, he was bristling with indignation. She held up a hand to stop him from spilling his mind all over the place.
“Thank you.” She tucked the coin purse into one of her pockets, and Sanguine intuitively knew that the only reason her mother had accepted the money was that one feel of the purse revealed that there was only 6 coins in it anyway; one for each of her siblings, one for her father, and one for her mother. Mareth wouldn't discover until later on that the coins were all gold. She probably assumed that they were silver, maybe even copper... or a mixture of the two.
After breakfast, the younger children all disappeared – following up on their plans to build a fort in the snow and then have a snowball fight. Sanguine talked her sister Mistresses into helping her help her mother clean the small house from the ceiling of the attic down the the floor of the cellar. They agreed only because they didn't have anything better to do.
They turned it into a bit of a party, having fun playing around as they cleaned. Abattre took all the rugs outside to combine cleaning them with a bit of training by beating them within an inch of their lives.
Misere traded her whip for a a crop-like stick so that she could whip the dust out of the curtains. The rest of them swept and scrubbed – dancing and singing – until the house seemingly sparkled.
Just as they were finishing up, Danny arrived. He handed Mareth a basket of apples from his cellar that had been grown in his family's orchard the previous summer. They were a little bit wrinkled, but other than that looked delicious. He had a thick bandage wrapped around his arm, and his face was decorated with bruises around his nose.
Mareth kissed him on the cheek to thank him for the apples, but he was too busy staring at Sanguine to notice. She was laughing at Panique's antics since Panique was dancing with a broom as she swept. Panique finished her dance with a graceful curtsey, and then ruined the effect by sending a small bolt of electricity at Sanguine.
“Ugh! You made my hair all frizzy!” Sanguine protested, and then struck Panique just a moment quicker than Panique could move out of the way. A small stream of blood ran from a small hole just under Panique's collar bone. Sanguine held up the single blood filled pointer nail for Panique to see. “Revenge is sweet!” Sanguine chuckled as she deliberately sucked the blood from her nail.
Panique laughed. “Damn, I am never quite fast enough to avoid your claws!”
Abattre returned with an armload of clean rugs, and growled as she tossed them onto the floor just inside the door. “Didn't you learn your lesson last night?”
Danny kept his face blank as Abattre held up his injured arm and softly ran her fingers along it as if mimicking scratching him. Misere stepped closer to him. She tapped the crop-like stick against her palm absently.
“Really?” She scrutinized the bandage that was clearly wrapped around his arm. Then, she studied his face. “Sanguine didn't mention having to discipline you...”
Douleur joined them. “What did you do to her?”
Soumettre was also curious to get a good look at him, She grasped his chin in her hands and mimicked shoving her palm against his nose without actually doing so. “Hmm... that looks like it hurt...”
Danny was definitely not comfortable with them surrounding him like this, but deep down, he knew that if he showed the slightest fear, they would literally tear him to shreds.
Panique held up her electrical device, which was a pair of bracelets that she wore on each wrist. Part of the bracelets jutted up into her palm, and with just a flick of either wrist, she could throw lightning across the room.
“Sisters!” Sanguine chided them. “I already handled the situation. There's no need to punish him further.”
Douleur traced one finger along a patch in Danny's pants on his front thigh. “He must have done something seriously bad in order to merit this...” She pressed her finger into his leg to confirm that there was a wound under the patch.
Danny grunted softly, and tried to back away from them, but realized that he had inadvertently stood in front of a wall and now had nowhere to go.
Abattre stroked his cheek with a finger. “I warned you what would happen if you failed to give Sanguine the proper respect...”
“Ladies!” Amos demanded their attention. “Danny is a guest in our house and is practically a member of our family. I would appreciate it if you kindly stopped harassing him!”
They all groaned and took a step away from him.
Soumettre walked over to stand at Sanguine's side. “So... is he incredibly brave or incredibly stupid for coming back here today?”
Sanguine shrugged. “Probably a little of both.”
Danny boldly looked each one of the harsh Mistresses in the eyes. “I simply came over to bring some apples to Mareth. She traditionally makes apple cakes for the Solstice. I'll be on my way now... and for the record, I did nothing wrong! No matter what you might think...”
Misere hissed at him. “I'm sure you probably think your actions were perfectly fine, but obviously they offended our sister.”
Abattre pointed at him. “Count yourself lucky that she didn't rip a hole up under your ribcage, tear your heart out, and leave you bleeding in the snow!”
Danny paled, but then shook his head; certain that such a thing was not possible.
Sanguine laughed. “You see? It hasn't even been two full days, and already you wish we would just leave.”
Danny looked around and discovered that he had a clear path to the door. He decided that now was a good time to make a tactical retreat. “Not all of you,” he muttered as he forced himself to calmly walk to the door.
“Do us all a favor and stay away until we leave!” Panique called after him. Danny didn't even deign to respond.
After he was gone, Amos frowned at Sanguine. “I have to know, did he do anything to earn those scratches you gave him?”
“You probably won't think so, but he asked me to marry him and wouldn't take no for an answer. I simply had to emphasize my point,” Sanguine answered coldly.
“There was a time when the thought of marrying Danny made you happy...” Amos pointed out gently. “Why do you hate him now?”
Sanguine chuckled. “I like him just fine, I just don't want to marry him. So long as he talks about anything else, I have no problem with him.”
⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩
Three days passed in relative peace. The Solstice was actually not going to happen until after the Mistresses left; even so, they all had fun decorating the house in preparation.
“Is this what normal girls do?” Abattre asked after she had played an impromptu game of hide and seek with the 5 year old little girl – the one that had been on the verge of toddlerhood when Sanguine was taken, and had no memories of the girl they called Sandra.
Mareth laughed. “Actually, yes. Most girls do house work, help out with planting and harvest, and giggle and plot with their friends on the best way to trap the boy they like.”
Abattre stood just a little bit straighter, and grinned. “Trap? Sounds like most girls have a little bit of domination in them after all!”
“I meant into marriage!” Mareth clarified with another laugh.
“Most girls are brainless broodmares!” Misere declared.
Mareth sighed and shook her head. “I think what you really need to understand is that most men are not criminals. I can see why you'd need to treat criminals the way you do, but I think you'll find that – if you give them a chance – most men are actually decent human beings that treat women well.”
Amos came in from outside where he'd been doing chores. He looked at Sanguine. “I just thought I should warn you that Danny is headed this way. Perhaps it would be best for you girls to wait in the attic until he leaves.”
“We will not cower away from any man!” Douleur insisted emphatically.
Amos sighed and suppressed a growl. “Well, can you at least promise not to threaten or growl at him while he's here?”
There was a rumbling sigh that circled around the room. “We'll try,” they promised reluctantly.
Amos smiled at them. He had been apprehensive about them at first, but the longer they stayed, the more he saw that they were all just little girls at heart who wished they had a loving family. He half expected them all to make excuses to stay until they finally admitted that they preferred this life to what he imagined must be a life of constant horror.
Danny burst through the door. “There's trouble! Our Lord has spent the last few days complaining and gathering up men until now he has a mob headed this way!”
“A mob to do what?” Mareth wondered, unable to believe that the Lord could possibly want to hurt her family.
“A mob to deal with the '6 so-called representatives of the crown' staying here!” The way he said that made it clear that he was impersonating the Lord. “He wants to get revenge for the way he was treated, and then he wants to take everything he can get his hands on as tribute!”
Sanguine spun around and calmly walked to the stairs to the attic. Her sisters silently followed her.
Danny growled in frustration. “Can't you see that I'm trying to warn you! Why aren't you grabbing the children and running to hide?!”
Sanguine stopped – halfway up the stairs. “We will not run nor hide! We will simply prove – once again – that the Lord is in the wrong. Only this time, he will be punished as the criminal that he is!”
They disappeared into the attic, and not even Danny dared to follow them in order to try to persuade them to abandon their reckless plan. He tugged on his hair, and then turned to Amos and Mareth.
“I'll send the children away,” Mareth stated, and then rushed to tell her children to bundle up so that they could hide in one of the snow forts they had made in wooded part of their property.
Amos and Danny finished cleaning and loading a couple of shotguns just as the kids fled the house. Amos tenderly kissed his wife.
“Go with them,” he suggested.
“No,” she refused. “I'm a decent shot, and I would much prefer to stay by your side!”
“Besides...” Sanguine added, only three steps down from the attic. “She won't be in any danger.”
Danny sighed and shook his head. Sanguine was wearing that strange costume again, only it was slightly different. It was blood red – of course – trimmed in black lace. She had a tight fitting black leather bodice, and her skirt was split open in the front to reveal thigh high shiny black leather boots with tall, sharp heels. She had chains and manacles hanging from her dress, and a couple of knives in a belt around her waist.
Her sisters all wore something similar. They all had their hair pulled up into tight buns, and looked like they could almost be ready for a twisted version of battle.
Misere twirled her whip in circles to test it's flexibility, and even Mareth noticed that it was different than the one she normally carried. This one had metal spikes protruding from it, whereas the one wrapped around her waist was a more standard, well oiled, black leather.
Abattre had an assortment of clubs hanging from her waist, and Douleur held onto two larger pain sticks. Her normal one and two smaller ones were strapped to her in leather sheathes. Soumettre had a thick rope wrapped around her waist, and a thick chain slung over her shoulders.
Finally, Panique had a necklace that flashed as if angry. She also wore ankle bracelets, and a belt that sparked. Danny was secretly willing to bet that she alone could probably electrocute the entire mob, but he didn't quite believe that any of them had what it took to fight off a group of large, angry, and drunken men.
A rumbling noise alerted them to the arrival of the mob, and there was no more time to argue, which would have been a waste of Danny's breath anyway.
Sanguine threw open the door and stepped confidently out of the house. “I hear you gentlemen have come looking for punishment!”
Her sisters stood just behind her, glaring at the crowd of about 20 men. Amos and Danny aimed their riffles at the Lord, and Mareth held onto a bow and quiver of arrows in case they were needed.
The Lord howled with laughter, and his men echoed him. “I think you'll find it's not so easy to defy me this time!”
“Panique!” Sanguine commanded softly. Panique nodded and stepped forward. She threw a thick bolt of lightning at the largest man in the crowd, and he screamed for a moment before falling to the ground.
Misere and Soumettre calmly walked toward the mob, both twirling their weapons to prove they knew how to use them. Misere lashed out at the first man she came across, and her whip gouged his thigh. Soumettre performed a maneuver that wrapped her chain around another man's neck, which she then used to pull him closer to her.
Panique shot another bolt, purposely aiming at the Lord's feet.
“It's not too late,” Sanguine informed him. “You can still turn around and leave before we get serious.”
A couple of the men paled in fear, but the rest roared with anger. As one, the decided to attack the audacious women who didn't seem to know their place.
Douleur and Abattre ran into the mob, whacking men with gleeful abandon. Sanguine raced around scratching men left and right, leaving streams of blood gushing in her wake.
The only man who had reflexes to match hers managed to catch her as she slashed someone else. He laughed as he held her wrists captive. “Can't scratch me now, can you, kitten?”
Sanguine twisted out of his grasp, and then kicked him with the heel of her right boot. “I don't need to scratch you, do I, ogre?”
He gaped at the hole in his thigh incredulously, unable to believe that her heel had actually stabbed him like a knife. A man screamed right next to them, and then dropped to the ground.
“Thanks Panique!” Sanguine called out, realizing that the man was taking advantage of her temporary distraction to sneak up on her. She twisted to slash yet another man trying to capture her.
The next moment, Sanguine was standing behind the Lord – who was cowering behind his two original thugs. She rapidly stabbed him several times with her nails up and down his back.
Soumettre used her chain to pull the larger of the two thugs to the ground, and Douleur pressed both her large pain-sticks against the other one's chest until he stopped screaming and fell to the ground.
Sanguine held the Lord in place by pressing her nails into his neck. She forced him to look all around the yard. “Do you see what your stupidity and greed have wrought?”
He was sobbing too hard to reply to her coherently. Abattre purposely pulled on a chainmail glove, and then punched him in the stomach. He wanted to fall to the ground, but couldn't without slashing his own throat on Sanguine's claws. Instead, he vomited.
Soumettre used her regular rope to tie him up, and Sanguine stepped back. He wobbled and swayed, but managed to remain standing. Misere struck him with her whip, causing him to scream and fall to his knees.
Soumettre grabbed a hunk of his hair, and forced him to look at her. “Which of these men are as guilty as you, and which were simply doing as their Lord commanded?”
He was far too overwhelmed to speak, and passed out. Soumettre growled in disappointment, and let him drop to the ground. Misere cracked her whip at a man who was still conscious and grovelling. She purposely didn't hit him, but he screamed as if she had.
“You there!” Misere demanded. “Go back to town and tell out driver and footman to come here at once!”
“Yes!” He cried out in relief. “Anything!”
“You will address her as Mistress!” Abattre insisted, punching him with her bare fist.
“Yes Mistress!” He repeated correctly.
“And hurry, lest we have to come after you!” Panique called out as he ran away, striking the ground behind him with her abundant electricity.
He squealed. “Yes Mistress!”
Sanguine studied the scattered unconscious men. “That one and that one...” She pointed at the thugs. “I think the rest are probably innocent.”
The man that she had stabbed with her heel glared at her from where he knelt. “You'll pay for this, bitch!”
Sanguine shrugged. “And that one.” She pointed at him. Soumettre wrapped a chain around him, flung him to the ground, and then ground her heel into his back. “You've just earned yourself a trip to our dungeon. I think you'll like it there... I think I'll string you up on the rack and let the rats chew on you until your throat is too raw to even scream.”
Sanguine continued to study the men around her, sucking her nails clean without even thinking about it. “Most of these men are simple farmers... I wonder if the Lord promised to exempt them from their tribute if they helped him. Remind me to make him pay dearly for leading these men into such a dangerous situation!”
She didn't see the big thug silently get to his feet behind her. He pulled out a large dagger, and prepared to stab her in the back. Danny shouted in warning just in time to prevent the intended outcome.
Spinning around, Sanguine kicked the thug's knee with her heel, and then plunged her hand into his stomach just under his ribcage. She reached up, grabbed his heart, and crushed it in her hand. Her other hand automatically took his dagger from him, and then she kicked him to the ground.
“Damn it!” Abattre yelled. “I was looking forward to breaking him! What made him think he had a chance of stabbing you anyway?!”
Sanguine shrugged, and then shook the blood from her arm. “If I had to guess... I say a combination of stupidity and overconfidence.” she examined the dagger in her hand, flipping it a couple of times to test it's balance. “Want his dagger?”
“Sure,” Abattre agreed. Sanguine tossed it at her as if she intended to plant it in Abattre's forehead, but Abattre caught it. She flipped it a couple of times, nodded, and then stashed it with the rest of her weapons.
Misere crossed her arms and let out a long suffering sigh. “This was a pathetic excuse for a battle. I feel way over armed!”
Panique laughed. “They'd have fared better if they'd brought twenty men for each of us!”
“That might have tilted the odds in their favor!” Douleur nodded in agreement.
Their carriage arrived with breakneck speed. The two servants jumped down from it and got to their knees. “You sent for us, Mistresses?”
Soumettre pointed at the Lord, his surviving thug, and the bound prisoner. “Those three have been naughty... very naughty! Bring them to our castle and throw them in our dungeon!”
“Then come back for us,” Sanguine added, knowing that it would take them about three days round trip, which would be just perfect.
“Yes Mistress!” The men got to their feet, and then flung the prisoners over their shoulders like sacks of potatoes. Not even the weight of the Lord gave them trouble as they tossed him into the carriage.
As the carriage left, the ladies went around waking everyone else up. Sanguine hummed soothingly.
“Shh... no need to fret. It's over now,” she assured a terrified man that she had scratched. “Get up and go home. Have your wife tend to your wounds, and never try to fight a Mistress in the service of their Majesties again!”
He nodded, and then ran away. All the men ran away as soon as they could, until there was no one left but Danny, Amos, and Mareth – who stared at the young women in a combination of shock and horror. Amos looked at the gun in his hand; it had been completely unnecessary!
“Danny...” Sanguine purred his name softly. “Will you please go into town and get the King's man and the undertaker?” She asked, referring to the man with the authority to dispense justice on behalf of the King.
Danny looked at the corpse, and then swallowed to wet his dry throat. He returned his gaze to Sanguine, and nodded. Unconsciously, he rubbed his stomach right about where Sanguine's hand had entered the thug.
“Yes... I'll be back with them as soon as I can...”
“Thank you,” she stated with an angelic smile.
Danny nodded once more, took a few steps to the side, and then gathered up the courage to turn his back on her and walk to his horse. Sanguine watched him go, inexplicably depressed now that she was fairly certain that she had scared him away for good.
Go To Part 4
Go To Part 4