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Monday, August 12, 2013

Sanguine - Part 12

If you haven't ever read the story or want to reread it from the beginning, go here: Sanguine - Part 1, but if you have read the story and just what to remember what happened last, here's the last chapter: Sanguine - Part 11. This is not the end yet, but hopefully that is coming soon :-D Enjoy!

Part 12

       I should just kill him and be done with it!
       Sanguine stared at Prince Collin dispassionately. If he died, there would be no way for the King and Queen to force her to marry him. She'd had him moved to the same room the the King and Queen had confessed his crimes in. It was small, but they would be guaranteed not to be overheard if the Prince started shouting indignantly.
       It didn't matter if her apprentices figured out who he was, and even the dungeon guards were trusted to be loyal, but if any of the other prisoners found out who he was, rumors could be spread. Sanguine wanted to avoid rumors, both out of consideration to their Majesties and because she was supposed to be his wife someday. If he lived...
       The Prince was currently staring at her in confusion. He didn't know her and he didn't know where he was. All he knew was that he was highly uncomfortable... and naked!
       “My parents will reward you handsomely if you let me go,” he said, trying to bargain with her.
       “I'm sorry, my Prince, but they are the ones who brought you to me. My name is Sanguine and I am the Countess of Clan Blood.”
       Prince Collin paled. As much as his parents tried to keep the horrors of torture hidden from him, he'd heard rumors. In an attempt to confirm the rumors, he'd asked them outright one day, and they had admitted that they did have a few Ladies working for them around the Kingdom. He couldn't remember at the moment exactly how, but the Lady of Clan Blood had been mentioned.
       “What do you plan to do to me?” He asked in apprehension.
       “Do you think you will get special treatment because of who you are?” Sanguine wondered.
       “... Yes...” Collin replied uncertainly.
       “Think again!” Sanguine informed him with a chilling laugh. “Your crime is forcing an unwilling boy to have sex with you. That means –”
       “No!” Collin protested. “I mean it's true we had sex, and it's also true that he was reluctant at first, but he wasn't unwilling. I made sure of that!”
       “His father says otherwise,” Sanguine stated coldly.
       Collin sighed with just a hint of frustration. “Listen, I can understand why everyone automatically assumes that I forced myself on him, but I swear to you by everything holy that he was willing!”
       Sanguine bit her lip and wondered if and how this changed things. She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously. “You are not the first to tell me a lie to try to escape torture.”
       “I am a terrible liar. I'll tell you everything, and you'll be able to hear that I'm telling the truth,” Collin promised. “I... It's true. I'm attracted to boys. I like to know that no one has ever touched them before. But I don't want to hurt them!”
       His eyes were intense as he stared at her, clearly willing her to believe him. “I usually offer them money. I make it very clear that they can refuse. I often don't even tell them that I'm the Prince so that they don't think they have to obey me no matter what...
       “With Matthew... He knew who I was, of course. From what I gather, a previous lover of mine had told him about my preferences, and had dared him to insult me. This was not because my ex-lover thought I needed insulting, but because Matthew was so disgusted that he said he wished he could called me a bunch of nasty names that all basically meant that I was a pervert.” Collin paused to sort through his thoughts.
       “He caught me alone in the garden one day and insulted me thoroughly. Rather than be offended, I was intrigued by him. I wanted to get to know him and find out what made him so fascinating. I threatened him with charges of treason for his insults and then had guards take him into custody and bring him to my chambers. From there, I simply talked to him, and had him play chess with me.
       “After he had calmed down a bit – my threat had worked a little too well – and we had gotten to know each other a little, I told him what I wanted to do to him and he refused... at first. He started asking me how it would feel and little things that let me know he was interested despite his protests. I ordered a tasty dinner, and slowly he started to sound more than just curious.
       “He kissed me when I dared him to, and I'll confess that I nearly pounced on him in my eagerness and lust. But I made it absolutely clear that I would stop the moment he didn't like what was happening. He did not stop me! By every indication, he thoroughly enjoyed what happened. It took half the night, and then we slept in each other's arms.”
       Collin sighed in frustration once more and then continued. “From what I gather, his father demanded to know where he was all night, and then went to my parents in outrage. The next thing I knew, I realized someone had drugged my drink, and then I woke up here.”
       Sanguine frowned as she silently admitted to herself that he was probably telling the truth. If he was lying, he'd try to make himself sound innocent, as if his accuser was simply mistaken. It was her turn to sigh.
       “I find myself with a dilemma or two. For the crime of raping a child, you should be castrated. However, your parents have expressed a desire for an heir. So I am to torture you until I can be certain that you will never touch another child again, but if what you say is true, I'm not certain that you need to be punished. You have committed no crime but appalling taste in lovers. The only way I know of to change your preference is to take away your desire and ability to have sex, but as I've said...”
       It was a sticky situation to be sure.
       Coming to a decision, Sanguine nodded. “I'm going to have you shackled to the wall of the dungeon proper for a few hours. So long as you keep quiet about your identity, you'll have nothing to do but watch as others are tortured. It should give you a good idea of what will happen to you if I discover that you are lying. Oh! And by the way, Prince or not, you do exactly as I say at all times! If you hesitate or resist in the slightest, your torture begins in earnest.”
       “I understand,” Collin murmured.
       “Say 'yes Mistress,'” Sanguine commanded.
       “... Yes Mistress.”
       Sanguine smirked as she decided to ignore the slight hesitation. She stroked his cheek with the nail of her pointer finger just enough for a tiny line of blood to appear. “Good boy.”
       Ten minutes later, Collin watched in horror as guards secured him to the wall. He desperately wanted to fight them and protest, but he was far too afraid of what he could see happening to the others happening to him. He watched with tears in his eyes as men were beaten and abused. And then the real horrors began...

⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩

       “So...” Danny began, clearing his throat. He had agreed to live in the castle with their children since Gavin was required to learn how to govern it one day. “How goes the torture?” He didn't really want to know, but he figured that normal couples usually talked about their day.
       “Oh, the usual,” Sanguine stated dismissively. They were playing chess of all things while Gavin read through some documents and the girls played a card game. They were in Sanguine's private study, seated around the 6 foot long table that she often used as a desk.
       “Why are there so many laws?!” Gavin asked in frustration. He had been studying them for a whole week and it seemed like the laws would never end!
       Sanguine laughed. “You need to know how to treat your people. For example, the law dictating leniency if there's less tribute than expected. Back when Lord Wolf was in charge, he ignored that law, and it cost him everything.”
       “Bah!” Gavin sighed in disgust at the way people needed laws to enforce common sense. He stared at his mother as a thought occurred to him. “What if I am wasting my time learning all of this?”
       “What do you mean?” Sanguine wondered.
       “No one knows that I am your son, and now you are supposed to marry the Crown Prince. What if the King and Queen decide that they would rather give your lands to someone else rather than let you admit that you have a son and Heir,” Gavin pointed out.
       “That's a good question,” Sanguine admitted. “For now, we're all just going to assume that they have no reason to strip me of my lands. Besides, I may not have shouted about it, but it is well known that I've had children. No one will question it when I finally announce who you are.”
       Gavin nodded reluctantly, unwilling to argue the possibilities when he had so much to learn. He focused on his studies and tried not to mentally grumble at how unfair it was that his sisters didn't have to learn all this too. He sent a petulant glance their way, but then admitted to himself that it was actually a dream come true to know that he really was special and different from everyone else.
       The door slammed open and Ardent entered the room. She growled in frustration as she flopped into an empty chair. “My prisoner died!”
       “That's because you haven't quite learned to hold back,” Sanguine informed her.
       “You need to learn to beat them to death without actually beating them to death,” Sang-Soif added as she entered the room. Behind her was a man that was mostly hidden by her dress. This was so the girls wouldn't see his nudity, sheltered as they were. She addressed a maid. “Bring my dog for a walk, give him a little bit to eat, and then chain him to my bedroom wall.”
       “Yes Mistress!” The maid exclaimed as she rushed to obey. She accepted the chain leash from Sang-Soif and led the human dog away.
       Sang-Soif stepped more fully into the room followed by Glacèe. Glacèe also sighed in frustration, and then chose a seat as far away from Ardent as possible. “At least your prisoner did something. Mine is stubbornly refusing to reform!”
       “You seem to like him,” Sang-Soif remarked in observation. “You're holding back and that's why he's not breaking to your will as he should.”
       “How am I holding back?!” Glacèe demanded. “If I leave him on ice any longer, he'll start loosing his limbs!”
       Ardent smirked at her. “So you say, but even I have noticed that you are going easy on him.”
       “Oh shut up,” Glacèe muttered.
       “You're not doing him any favors,” Sanguine reminded her middle adopted daughter. She nodded her head as she decided where to move her chess piece. “If you truly want him to suffer as little as possible, then you will do whatever it takes to break him as quickly as you can. Trying to be nice just makes the whole process take that much longer.”
       Glacèe groaned and rested her head against the table. “I know!”
       Sang-Soif pointed out a move for Danny, which made Sanguine scowl at her. Her expression immediately changed to amusement. She pointed at Sang-Soif's mouth.
You still have blood on your lips and cheek.”
       Sang-Soif flicked her tongue out to lick it up. “Did I get it all?”
       “Not even close!” Sanguine smirked, gesturing for Sang-Soif to come closer. Grabbing her black hair, Sanguine held the woman still so that she could lick the blood off her cheek. “Mmm, fresh...”
       Sang-Soif smiled and chuckled. “Yep! My other prisoner needed a reminder that my teeth are just as sharp as my claws.”
       As much as Gavin, Sandra, and Lily were trying hard not to pay rapt attention to the conversation, which piqued their curiosity as much as it repulsed them, they were the only ones to notice when two new people joined them. The man laughed, startling everyone else.
       “Still as blood thirsty as ever I see!”
       “Frayeur!” Sanguine cried happily, leaping to her feet. She raced to throw her arms around him. “What brings you to my castle?”
       “I'm here too, you know!” Fureur stated grumpily.
       Sanguine laughed and then hugged Fureur. “I'm so glad to see you.”
       Fureur harrumphed but chose to be pacified. She gave Sanguine a kiss on one cheek as her twin kissed Sanguine on the other.
       “We're here because after we received your letter informing us of your retirement, we thought we should come congratulate you,” Frayeur said, answering Sanguine's question.
       “Don't you believe him for a second!” Fureur stated with a laugh. “We've been bored with not much to do lately, and we thought we come help out around your dungeon.”
       Frayeur nodded to confirm her statement. “Besides, I'm sure that both Glacèe and Ardent could use a little more training.”
       Ardent sat up completely straight. She was more than just a little eager at the suggestion. “Does this mean that you'll finally teach me your fire breath?”
       Fureur laughed. “Maybe...”
       “Oh great!” Glacèe muttered sarcastically. “Now we'll have to deal with the smell of burning flesh.”
       Frayeur chuckled. “That's why I think it would be better if I taught Ardent the fine art of patience first.”
       Ardent loudly bemoaned the idea of learning patience, but Glacèe was intrigued. “How?”
       Frayeur cackled softly, menacingly.
       Fureur interrupted before Sanguine could say anything. “Is this your son? Must be... I haven't seen you since you were a baby. Have you learned the fine art of torture yet?”
       Sanguine held out a hand in a gesture for Fureur to stop stroking Gavin's cheek. “No! And he's not going to!” She then turned her attention to Frayeur, who was still trying to make Ardent squirm with his evil laughter.
       “If you're going to do that, go do it in the dungeon!” Sanguine ordered.
       “Sure thing,” Frayeur agreed. “What do you say, Ardent? Want to accompany your uncle to the dungeon for a few lessons?”
       Ardent was torn because while she wanted more training, she didn't want to learn patience. She didn't get a chance to answer before they were all interrupted.
       “That's an excellent idea. Why don't you all accompany us to the dungeon?” A man asked as he entered the room followed by five men holding swords. “We'd like to take custody of one of your prisoners.”
       Sanguine looked to the dagger that the stranger had pointed at her, and then at the small crossbow in his other hand and the blood dripping from the swords of the other men. While people were allowed to enter the castle at any time while the gates were open, there were guards to prevent anyone without permission from going farther than the audience room. The fact that these men had made their way to her study while in search of her dungeon meant that the blood on the swords was probably from her general castle guards.
       Sanguine pushed aside her concern for the guards and smirked. “I'm sorry, but that's never going to happen.”
       Frayeur, Fureur, Sang-Soif, Glacèe, and Ardent all laughed at the absurdity of the suggestion. Ardent blurted out the first thing that crossed her mind.
       “How can you possibly think you'll make it out of here alive?! You're clearly out numbered!”
       The leader glared at Ardent, sneering, “Outnumbered? By two men, four women, and a handful of children? I think not!” He shifted his crossbow so that it was aimed directly at Lily. “Now take us to the dungeon or I shoot the girl!”
       “Glacèe,” Sanguine stated with a tone of command.
       “Right!” Glacèe agreed and threw a bolt of lightning at the leader. Her specialty was using ice, but she'd also learned to use the electrical device that Panique had given her. It worked well with the water created as the ice melted.
       The leader gave a small shout of surprise as the bolt struck the crossbow and made him drop it. He hopped back a step and shook out his hand in an attempt to ease the pain.
       “What do you want with one of my prisoners?” Sanguine demanded.
       “He has crossed my Lord, that's all you need to know,” the leader stated, still shaking his hand but otherwise trying his best to seem in control of the situation. He noticed that Danny had taken the opportunity to gather up his children and somewhat hide them behind him.
       “Don't try to escape! Those children are my hostages and I will hurt them if I have to. However, if everyone cooperates, then I promise that they shall not be harmed.” The leader gestured for his men to take control of the situation.
       Meanwhile, Fureur had subtly pulled a candle out of a pocket and lit it from an ember she kept in a container at her waist. She took a swig from her flask and blew fire at two of the men as they tried to run towards Danny and the children. Frayeur promptly jabbed the leader until he couldn't move, then held him by the throat as Glacèe and Sang-Soif incapacitated the rest of the intruders. Ardent helped by punching the men unconscious.
       Sanguine waved her hand around the room airily before addressing the leader directly. “You see that? I didn't even need to lift a finger. Did you think my castle was weak simply because you managed to get past some guards?”
       She smirked at him as if giving him a chance to reply, knowing full well that he couldn't with Frayeur's hand around his throat. She continued.
       “You're men were simply following your orders, I'm sure, but you threatened the life of my daughter...” Sanguine walked over to him slowly, letting him panic because the sound of her heels clicking ominously naturally made him want to flee, but he still couldn't move.
       Frayeur held him up a bit higher, giving Sanguine the perfect access to his abdomen. Danny held Lily's face to his chest just as Sanguine ripped out the man's heart. Young Sandra squealed from the shock and horror, and Gavin groaned as he felt the contents of his stomach rise. He managed to swallow the bile, but couldn't stop staring at the heart as it dripped blood on the floor.
       Soft inhalations of breath alerted Sanguine to the fact that a couple of the captives were still conscious. “Bring them to the dungeon and let them experience the place they wanted to be so badly.”
       The maid that had left earlier to take the dog for a walk reentered the room just then with a gasp. She stared around the room in horror.
       Sanguine handed her the heart and then absently sucked her nails clean. “Please feed this to the pigs and then send in a couple of footmen to take this body away. This room will need a thorough cleaning...” She paused to think if there was anything else to do.
       The maid was staring in open-mouthed shock at the heart in her hands. She bobbed a curtsey and fled the room before anything else could terrify her. “Yes my Lady!”
       Sanguine examined her arm and realized that it was still covered in blood and lightly dripping on the floor. “Oh! And I'm going to need a bath!”
       “Yes my Lady!” The maid shouted from somewhere as far away as possible.
       Sanguine watched Frayeur lead the others out of the room, each one carried an unconscious body, even Ardent, who was stronger than she looked. Good thing I have the Prince locked up in a separate area of the dungeon. Deciding that she needed to inform the King and Queen of this event in case it was an attack on the Prince, she pulled a sheet of paper from a drawer, completely unconcerned that she left bloody fingerprints all over it. She sat down and started to write.
       “Gavin, please finish up your studies for tonight,” she murmured when she realized that her children were still cowering behind their father.
       He hesitated to comply, especially when a few servants arrived a moment later to deal with the body and clean up the room. Danny pulled him into a tight hug.
       “Can't you be a little more sensitive? He's never seen a dead body before,” Danny stated. He was a little upset that she acted as if this was business as normal.
       Sanguine sighed as she finished writing her quick summary of the situation. “And I pray that he never will again.” She dripped wax onto the folded up letter and then pressed her seal to it. “But unfortunately, as the future Lord of Clan Blood, he probably will. People grow older and die or get sick or have accidents, and the Lord has a responsibility to care for his people as they grieve over the loss.”
       She stood up and carefully gave her son a hug so that he didn't get any blood on him. “I know this can be... hard to see, but please try to think of this as your first real experience as my heir. Maybe now you understand a little better why I didn't want you to grow up around me in the Castle.”
       Gavin nodded slowly, feeling a bit numb now. His sisters both burst out crying. Now that their shock had faded, they couldn't hold back.
       “We were so scared!” Sandra wailed, grabbing part of Sanguine's skirt to bury her face in. Lily threw her arms around her mother's waist and cried all over her dress.
       “Oh, my babies...” Sanguine purred, fighting tears herself now.
       “Please tell me that this doesn't happen often,” Danny begged. He was reconsidering the wisdom of letting his children live in the castle with their mother.
       “Never,” Sanguine answered with a shake of her head. “If it was a frequent occurrence, I'd have better guards.”
       At this point, the head of the general castle guards had recovered from the initial attack. He entered her study to report what had happened. He insisted on standing before her without any help despite a wound in his leg that was slowly oozing through the bandage.
       “They caught us by surprise, my Lady,” he began and then explained how the 6 men had overwhelmed them before they fully understood what was going on. He finished with: “Two of us died, and the rest are injured.”
       Sanguine nodded in understanding. She wasn't angry at them because the Kingdom was peaceful and they had never been trained for combat. Their job was simply to intimidate any of her subjects that tried to wander from the audience room into the rest of the castle, and that had never actually happened before. At least not seriously. Once or twice a distraught person had insisted on seeing her and tried to get past the guards, but they were easily deterred.
       “See to it that the wounded are tended to and that a messenger is sent to inform and compensate the families of those who died,” Sanguine ordered.
       “But my Lady! The intruders!” He protested. He hadn't heard anything except that one of them had died.
       “They've been apprehended and taken to my dungeon,” Sanguine assured him.
       The head guard sighed in relief. “Yes my Lady.”
       Sanguine handed him the letter she'd written. “And see to it that this letter gets delivered to their Majesties.”
       “Yes my Lady,” he replied and then left the room to do as he was told.
Sanguine noticed that her son was still staring absently at the spot where the dead man had lain until he was taken away. Maids were now cleaning the area up, but the blood was still clearly visible as a stain. She sighed in defeat.
       “Gavin, perhaps you should forget about the rest of your studies tonight and try to get some sleep,” she suggested.
       “Sleep...” he murmured. “I may never sleep again.”
       “Me either!” His sisters both exclaimed at the same time.
       Danny sighed. “I think maybe I should take them ho-” he cut himself short and then gave Sanguine an apologetic look. “Home,” he finished despite knowing how it would probably hurt his beloved.
       Sanguine took a deep breath to cover how much his words really had hurt her. She knew that it was utterly her own damn fault for insisting that her children know nothing about her for so many years, so she didn't blame Danny in the slightest. She forced herself to smile and nod.
       “Yes... I think that might be for the best.”
       Danny didn't care if she got blood on him; he pulled her into his arms anyway. “We'll be back. Probably in a couple of days... Once we've all had a chance to calm down.”
       Sanguine didn't need him to say the rest: And you've finished with that prisoner the King and Queen brought. She nodded once more, feeling like she was never going to see any of them again.
       Danny calmed her fears with a kiss that delved into her very soul and reminded her how much she truly loved him. Strangely, seeing their parents acknowledge that something very serious had happen but show their love for each other anyway did more to soothe Gavin, Sandra, and Lily than anything else could have. The girls started smiling happily, clasping their hands together in a prayer that they would each find such a love someday.
       Gavin – on the other hand – had mixed feelings about the sight of his parents kissing. It was reassuring that everything would be alright, but it was also disturbing to see his father kissing a woman. It's a sight that had never been witnessed before! He couldn't suppress a groan of mild disgust.
       Gavin's groan made Danny laugh. He broke off the kiss and turned to face his son. “We'd better get going, huh? Before it grows too dark for the horses to see.”
       Gavin nodded in agreement. He felt better just knowing that he would be spending the night in his own bed listening to his sisters' soft snores across the room. As much as it had been a welcome change to have his very own room here at the castle, it had also been hard to get used to having no one there if he woke up in the middle of the night. Not that he would admit this aloud to anyone, but tonight, he needed someone close by to reassure him that everything was fine.
       Sandra and Lily hugged their mother quickly before following their father and Gavin out of the room.
       “Be safe,” Sanguine whispered as she watched them leave.

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