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Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Sanguine After Story - Short Sequel - Part 4
An hour later, I was taking Lord Godric's advice and working on my reports after lunch in the hope that I'd be able to take a nap before sparring with him. Ironically, all this activity might actually increase my stamina, and so – provided that I didn't yawn myself to death – I might manage to defend myself pretty well.
I yawned so hard that tears poured down my eyes, making the report I was reading too blurry to see properly. A laugh startled me. I rubbed my eyes and then looked up to find my best friend standing in the doorway.
“Too busy to see me?” Harvey asked, managing to hide the fact that he still somewhat resented my sudden change in station.
“Never!” I promised him, and so far as I could help it, I would always make time for him. A thought occurred to me, making me grin. “Happy birthday!”
“Yep, 16...” Harvey confirmed as he sat in a chair and got comfortable. He looked at the floor uncomfortably. “I need a favor.”
“Anything!” I blurted out. “So long as it's something I can do, I'll do it.”
“Well, my older brothers have gotten it in their head that they should bring me to the brothel for my birthday tonight,” Harvey began a bit nervously.
“And you want me to go with you?” I wondered. We had often talked when we were younger about having a double birthday bash at the brothel, but that was before either of us really understood what it meant to have sex for the first time.
“Actually, no,” Harvey stated. “I was actually hoping... that you could put in a good word for me. You're her Lord after all, she has to at least consider what you say! She's so amazingly beautiful that I almost cry every time I see her!” He blurted out so fast that I almost couldn't understand him.
“Slow down Harvey!” I exclaimed, having no idea who he was talking about. “Who do you want me to talk to?”
“Ardent!” Harvey cried out as if it should have been obvious. “I see her every morning when I'm doing my chores. She comes riding by on her massive black horse, her glorious hair flowing behind her like molten red gold. I watch her ride by so intently that I've almost chopped my foot off with my shovel! I often wonder what it would be like to set up a rope across her path to trip her horse so that I could drag her away and tell her how I feel!”
“Whoa!” I roared in astonishment, holding up my hands. “Please tell me that you'd never actually do that! Not only is it just plain wrong, but I am pretty sure that Ardent would kill you!”
“Of course I wouldn't do that!” Harvey shouted, leaping to his feet and throwing his hands out to emphasize his point. “That's why I am coming to you!” He took a deep breath and then exhaled slowly before sitting back down. “She' a ward of Clan Blood and you are her Lord. You must know her pretty well by now. If you tell her to consider me as a lover, surely she'll listen.”
I sat back and thought about this in silence for a moment, tossing my report aside since I wasn't reading it anyway. Ardent had stated that she wanted to take other lovers. She might consider Harvey worthy of her affection... but a perverse thought occurred to me, making me laugh in that evil way Glacèe was so good at.
“What?” Harvey asked apprehensively.
“Would you mind if I was there? If we did it together?” I wondered, still forming a plan in my mind.
“But she's a ward of Clan Blood! Wouldn't that be weird?” Harvey protested, the look on his face betraying that he liked the idea.
I shrugged and shook my head.
Harvey grinned. “Well, if you think that it would work, I have no problem with it. All I really want is her to be my very first. I don't care how.”
“Ah,” I murmured in enlightenment. “So that's why you came here now. You were hoping to talk Ardent into a romp in the hay before going to the brothel tonight with your brothers.”
“Yep,” Harvey confirmed with a grin.
I nodded in understanding, then reached up and behind me to grab hold of a rope. I gave the rope a sharp tug, and then waited in silence. A full minute later, a maid came running into the room. She was clearly astonished that I had used the bell pull, since I never had before.
“Yes, my Lord?” She asked breathlessly, half afraid that I was having some sort of dire emergency.
“Has Ardent returned to the dungeon yet?” I asked curiously.
“No, my Lord,” the maid replied with a shake of her head. “Apparently her prisoner has misbehaved and –” She stopped talking with a blush, well aware that she wasn't supposed to discuss such things in front of guests. Pressing on, she made sure to avoid anything taboo. “Anyway, she has a bit of free time.”
“Great!” I cheered. “I need to ask her something; will you tell her to come here?”
“Of course, my Lord,” the maid answered with a respectful curtsey, and then rushed away to do as asked.
“Man!” Harvey exclaimed in awe. “I still can't get over how you now have a castle full of servants to do whatever you tell them to!”
“It's not all it's cracked up to be,” I assured him, gesturing to the piles of paperwork on my desk.
“So you say, but still, I bet you love having maids to clean up after you,” Harvey speculated with a grin. “It must be nice to not have to muck out the stables or haul in the bales of hay.”
I nodded, chuckling as I thought about how good I had it. “You're right. Now that I've figured out a bit how to be a Lord, it's kind of nice to not have chores any more.”
Ardent poked her head into the study. “You wanted to see me, Gavin?”
I gestured for her to come in. “And close the door behind you.”
Ardent glanced at me curiously, and then noticed the way my friend was practically drooling over her. A slow grin spread across her face as she complied and closed the door. “Shall I lock it too?” She asked with a purr.
I looked her over carefully. She was wearing her dungeon uniform – a green and black lace dress that split all the way up the front of her skirt to reveal her thigh high, shiny black, high heeled boots. She had a smear of blood across her collar bone, and a few dried specks of blood on her face.
“Yes,” I answered her question. “Unless you want to go clean up first.”
“What? This?” Ardent wondered, indicating a little bit of dried blood on the back of her hand. “This is nothing.”
“I thought you normally didn't make your prisoners bleed,” I remarked. As I understood it, she mostly used her fists to beat them up, meaning that aside from the occasional split lip, the bulk of the damage was done to parts with thicker skin.
Ardent laughed as she locked the door. “I don't, but Sang-Soif was in an excellent mood today, and she clawed her prisoner so delicately that he sprayed blood all over us! Tiny little gushes that were quite funny to watch,” she informed me with a wicked smile.
“What in the name of the Gods are you talking about?” Harvey asked, baffled. It wasn't general knowledge that Clan Blood served the Kingdom by reforming criminals.
“Just my job,” Ardent replied with an innocently sweet smile. She walked over to Harvey and leaned close enough to him to whisper in his ear. “I could beat you to death without even breaking a sweat.”
“Are you serious?!” Harvey yelped, looking to me to see if I would laugh and expose the joke.
“Enough of that,” I ordered sharply. “This is my best friend, Harvey, and it's his birthday. I was wondering if you'd help make his day unforgettable.”
Ardent wasn't ready to let go of her teasing just yet. She smirked at me before asking: “Would you like me to take him down to the dungeon and shackle him to the wall?”
“No!” I burst out, unconsciously shuddering at the mere thought. Not even I had seen what went on down there yet, but I knew it wasn't good. “I had something else in mind.”
Ardent slowly walked around the desk until she stood in front of me. The heels of her boots clicked loudly as if challenging me. She pushed a stack of paperwork aside, and then slid onto my desk, crossing her legs and resting her linked hands on them. The sight of her was enough to light me on fire, but I forced myself to remain cool.
“What did you have in mind?” She asked curiously. Her smirk told me that she had a pretty good idea already, but her raised brow told me that she didn't think I had the balls to say it out loud.
“I want you to strip for him, and then work him up with that pretty little mouth of yours.” My eyes challenged her as I stroked a finger across her bottom lip.
She purred deep in her throat. “Sounds fun.” She carefully moved all the reports to one side of my desk, and then crawled across it until she was sitting in front of Harvey. Pulling her hair over one shoulder, she pointed at the laces along her spine. “Could you help me a little, Gavin?”
“My pleasure,” I murmured softly, leaning forward so that I could untie her laces. Her bodice came off slowly, which was something I had never had to wait for. She always came to me in the morning before getting dressed. I looked over to Harvey to see that he was watching her stroke herself with an expression of unashamed desire.
With my help, an astonishing amount of clothing came off of her, especially considering how little she appeared to be wearing. Eventually, she wore nothing but her boots. I watched her slide off the desk and kneel before Harvey.
“Oh Gods!” He gasped softly when her hand touched his knee. “Am I dreaming?”
“You dream about me?” Ardent asked, sounding as if she had no idea that probably most of the men and boys that saw her riding around the countryside dreamed about bedding her.
“All the time,” Harvey confessed in a whisper.
The smile Ardent bestowed on him was so brilliant that even I was nearly blinded by it. She slid her hands up his legs until she had the right leverage to push herself up, face to face with him. I'd swear that I could see Harvey's heart leap into his throat right before she pressed her soft lips to his.
I know I said that we would do this together, but sitting back and watching him was surprisingly fun. I had no urge to join in on the fun just yet. I shifted in my chair to make more room in my pants for my hard shaft, and then got comfortable so that I could enjoy the show.
Harvey pulled Ardent into his lap so that he could deepen their kiss. I watched in fascination; I'd shared plenty of kisses with Ardent, but none of them had been quite like this one. Harvey looked like he was making love to her with his mouth.
Ardent made soft little noises of pleasure, winding her arms around his neck and pressing her body into his. Harvey's hands held her close at first, and then pushed her slightly away so that he could first feel and then kiss her breasts. Her nipples were rosy and hard little nubs that she clearly enjoyed having licked.
Harvey gasped unexpectedly, resting his head on her shoulder for a moment.
“Is something wrong?” Ardent asked, frowning in concern.
“No, just that I nearly finished before we even started, and I need to calm down a little,” he confessed with an embarrassed blush. I am pretty sure he had forgotten I was in the room because normally, this was not something a man liked to admit in front of other men.
Ardent smiled at him patiently as he took a few deep breaths, then giggled happily when he scooped her up and carried her to my desk. He blushed in embarrassment again when he realized that I was still there, and then shrugged unapologetically.
“Sorry man, this is the only place other than the floor,” he said to explain why he was planning to have sex with her on my desk.
I shook my head and smiled encouragingly. “Don't worry about it. It wouldn't be the first time, I'm sure.” I personally hadn't done so yet, but the desk was at least a hundred years old and very sturdy. If no one has ever had sex on it before, I'd be very surprised.
Harvey returned his attention to Ardent, kissing her as one hand hastily unlaced his pants. I couldn't see his shaft from this angle, but I am certain that he plunged it inside her as soon as he possibly could. Ardent gasped in surprise, her eyes widening in amazement.
Harvey thrust into her a couple of times before burying his face in her chest and groaning in disappointment. Ardent purred sympathetically, rubbing him on the back. She nudged his head with her chin.
“Hey, don't feel bad,” she murmured softly. “I'm told that all boys finish quickly their first time.”
“Did you?” Harvey asked, looking up at me.
“Uh...” I didn't know what to say!
“Yes,” Ardent stated firmly, forcing Harvey to look her in the eyes. “He did.”
I am nearly certain that she was lying to him, but I said nothing. Instead, I smiled wryly and shrugged. Trying to be encouraging, I mumbled: “She would know...”
Harvey looked from me to Ardent and then back again. He grinned slyly. “Ah... So you do know Ardent pretty well.”
Nodding in confirmation, I stood up and walked over to the basin. There was water in a pitcher at all times in case I should happen to need it, so I poured some in the basin. Then I grabbed a cloth from a convenient stack of them and dipped it in the water.
“I know you don't mind, love, but I'm still a bit squeamish,” I stated as I wiped the faint splatter of blood off Ardent's cheek and then the smear from her collar bone. Now that I wasn't watching him, Harvey took the opportunity to pull out of her and attempt to put himself back in his pants. I could see why Ardent had been so surprised!
“Here,” I tossed the cloth to Harvey. “Use this to wipe up.”
Harvey did as I suggested while I handed another cloth to Ardent. Watching her wipe herself clean made me want to mess her up again, but I held back. Instead, I leaned over and whispered in her ear.
“I told you that I want you to work him up with your mouth.” I kissed her softly to emphasize my point.
She put her hand in mine so that I could help her off my desk. “Yes, my Lord,” she replied obediently, but I could see the sparkle in her eye that told me she was being mischievous.
I made myself comfortable sitting on the now empty spot where she had been, and enjoyed the warmth she'd left behind. She reached out to stop Harvey from putting himself away now that he had cleaned up. Dropping to her knees in front of him, she evaluated the size of his half flaccid shaft with her tongue.
“Oh Gods!” Harvey gasped so hard that he nearly choked. I thought he was going to fall over for a second, but he steadied himself by putting a hand on her head even as he leaned back to stare at the ceiling. I think his eyes were rolling into the back of his head and nearly chuckled as I looked up at the ceiling and wondered what it looked like through rolled back eyes.
Watching her please him was very entertaining! I could well imagine how he was feeling, and absently scratched an itch that reminded me to adjust my pants once more. I just knew that when she was done with him, I was going to want her to do the same to me.
By the Gods! She had stamina! Fascinated to see just how long she could keep bobbing her head across his shaft, I kept an eye on the clock. By the time 15 minutes had passed, he looked ready to fall down and pass out, but she gave no indication that she planned to stop anytime soon. He looked torn between enjoying her attention until the end of time, and begging her to give him a minute to sit down and get comfortable again. I took pity on him.
“Ardent,” I murmured softly. “I think you may need to let him sit down for a bit.” If he felt anywhere near as good as I usually did, I can't imagine how he hadn't melted into a puddle at her feet. I was usually laying in bed and am fairly sure that standing at the time would be next to impossible!
Ardent relented, looking up at Harvey with a sultry smile. He sighed as if the Goddess of Love Herself was on her knees before him. Grinning at her in return, he pointed to the same squarish wooden chair he had been sitting in earlier.
“Actually, I think I'm ready to go again. Would you mind...?” He gestured to illustrate his desire for her to bend over the chair across the arms.
Ardent strutted in front of him purposefully to show off her body as she made a great show of leaning over the chair. “Like this?” Her behind was pointed invitingly at him.
He actually smacked his lips as he nodded in approval. Positioning himself right behind her, he took the time to amuse himself by sliding his shaft through her juices. I wondered if this was necessary to enter her, or if he simply thought it fun, but my attention was soon utterly captive.
Just as he slid into her with a pleased grunt, she repositioned herself so that she was holding herself steady with one hand on the armrest while the other was skillfully freeing my shaft. The way the chair was positioned in front of my desk, she was at the perfect angle to suck on me as he slowly thrust in and out of her.
Each time he entered her, she moaned in a way that felt magical! I felt my arms shake as they tried to hold me up so I wouldn't fall off my desk. Unable to stop myself, I leaned my head back and realized that my eyes must also be rolling back.
It was my turn to gasp: “By the Gods!”
Determined to enjoy the show, I forced my eyes to behave and focus on Ardent. She rocked from Harvey's thrusts, which added to what she was doing to me, but surprisingly, the absolute best part was what I could see of Harvey's shaft penetrating her. It looked so big compared to her that I wondered how it could possibly fit! By the noises of surprise she occasionally made, she must be wondering the same thing.
I glanced up for a split second to see that Harvey was watching her suck on me. His expression must be very similar to mine; fascinated to see what was happening as well as turned on by it. I think we were both more than a little amazed that this was really happening.
We had talked about going to the brothel together and maybe even taking turns if we both liked the same woman. Just once, it was suggested that we purposely choose the prettiest one there and do her together, but I think we had agreed that it would be too weird. Apparently, it's not too weird!
Harvey started whispering: “Oh yeah,” over and over again. I felt inexplicably embarrassed to do so, but I kept grunting: “Uh!” It felt like hours passed like this, but I am sure it was only maybe a quarter of an hour.
I was hovering right on the edge – not just of my desk, but of heaven as well. My heart was beating so rapidly that I thought I might die, so I tried to relax just a little. This seemed to work until Ardent somehow managed to swallow my shaft entirely, or at least it felt that way to me! If Harvey was silently participating in a contest of stamina, he was about to win because I completely lost it right then and there!
A sound came out of me that was like I was trying to say ahh but choking on the word. I liked it even as it sounded funny, especially accompanied by my thundering heartbeat and a strange wooshing. My blood felt hot and thick, and my body jerked just slightly each time I pumped a bit more down Ardent's throat. When I ran out, I flopped backwards onto the desk.
Ardent continued to lick me very lightly for a moment or two, but her moans were getting louder and closer together. Suddenly, she pressed her head into my belly and gasped out: “Dear Gods!” I could feel her trembling even as Harvey pounded into her as fast as he possibly could.
“Uh!” Harvey cried out, sounding triumphant. By this, I would guess that he had filled her up once more. Lifting my head off the desk about two inches, I watched him grind into her ever so slightly, once more staring at the ceiling with closed eyes. I wonder if he feels like melting into a puddle and going right to sleep too?
After a few minutes of the three of us catching our breath, Ardent laughed. I looked at her curiously since she was still resting her head on my belly. Meanwhile, Harvey was resting on her back as she leaned over the chair. A moment later, she laughed again.
“What?” I wondered.
“Nothing,” she replied automatically, and then amended her statement. “I was just thinking that it's been just about long enough for my prisoner to be clamped to the wall again. I should really go beat him up some more, but I'm not sure that I can move at the moment!”
“Will Glacèe or Sang-Soif beat him up for you if you're not there?” I asked, morbidly fascinated by the subject.
“Nope,” she stated with a firm shake of her head. “As a rule, we don't handle each others' prisoners without permission. Besides, they've each got a prisoner of their own to torture. We just got them yesterday, so they're still resistant to the idea that they will break and be reformed or be executed like they were sentenced to.”
“But wait, I thought that only the rare prisoner had a death sentence these days. I thought that our dungeon had far more regular prisoners who only need to reform a little,” I said with a puzzled frown.
“Well yeah, most of the time we do, but it's winter. It's always slow in winter!” Ardent exclaimed.
“Must be too cold to commit crimes,” I muttered dryly.
“Ha!” Ardent contradicted with a laugh. “Actually, it's just that the crimes all seem to happen indoors and are harder to catch. Come spring, the lawmen usually have their hands full!”
“Wait, I thought you two were joking about that earlier,” Harvey muttered, yawning. He stood up, stretched, and then grabbed the cloth I had given him earlier so that he could wipe himself clean as he withdrew from Ardent.
Ardent groaned softly in disappointment, but then stood up and stretched as well.
“I never lie about torture!” She exclaimed mysteriously, smirking at Harvey. Then she turned her attention back to me. “I'm going to need help with my dress in a moment.”
I watched her rummage about for her dress for a moment before it occurred to me to put myself back in my pants. Sitting up, I gave Harvey a wry smile. He looked like he still didn't believe us.
“You know how – when we were growing up – we always heard talk of how Lady Sanguine was actually a demon?” I started my explanation with a question.
“Yessss,” Harvey replied slowly.
“But I could never figure out why people felt that way because my family always talked about her as if she was a great Lady who always helped the people? Well, when I found out that she's my mother, I also found out that she performed an important service for their Majesties; reforming criminals. That's why she'd sent us to be raised by our father. She didn't want my sisters and me to know that she spent her days cutting men into little pieces!” I finished dramatically.
“Nonsense!” Ardent snorted in amusement. “She never cut them into pieces! If they didn't do as they were told, she simply slashed them up and let them bleed to death. In many ways, I have no idea how she managed to keep anyone alive; there's always so much blood in the dungeon! Her and Sang-Soif both take special delight in watching blood drip or ooze from a fresh wound.”
Pulling her dress over the undergarments she already wore, she waited until her head was through the top, and then continued. “Not so me. I far prefer using my fists. Most of the time, I know how to inflict pain without causing any permanent damage, so my prisoners bleed less. Sometimes, they don't bleed at all!”
She beamed in pride for a moment before looking crestfallen. She held out her bodice and gestured for me to help her put it on and lace it up. “However, that doesn't mean that I never accidentally kill a man who's trying to reform. I very often get so caught up in my work that I don't realize that my prisoner has died when I meant him to live.” She sighed heavily.
“I see,” I murmured softly, not knowing what else to say.
Harvey huffed, crossing his arms over chest. “I still say that you two are trying to pull one over on me!”
“Not so,” Ardent purred, smirking at him again. “Would you like to see our dungeon for yourself?”
“No!” I barked, nipping that idea in the bud. “I will not have my best friend brought to the dungeon!”
Ardent actually seemed offended by my reaction. She smacked my hands away from her unfinished laces impatiently, and then sneered as she curtseyed. “Whatever you say, my Lord.” After that, she stalked out of the room.
I sighed in mild frustration. “I'm sorry about that. Ardent gets so touchy about her work. I think she thinks that I look down on her for what she does, but the truth is that I don't go down there because my father has forbidden it. Maybe one day, my curiosity will outweigh my good sense, but for now, I'm content to stay up here where I can ignore the occasional screams and pretend the dungeon doesn't exist.”
“So... you mean you're serious?” Harvey questioned, slumping into his chair as if the weight of the world now rested on his shoulders.
“Yes,” I confirmed.
“Oh...” He murmured.
We were both silent for a few moments, and then I yawned so wide that I thought my jaw might break. I felt water gather at the corner of my eyes and hastily wiped it away. When the yawn was finally over, I felt dizzy.
“I'm sorry,” I muttered. “I haven't gotten much sleep lately.”
“Why not?” Harvey wondered.
“Uh...” I began, wondering how much I could say without sounding like an insufferable braggart! Then an idea so brilliant struck me that I actually cackled like an insane man. “Hey... Out of curiosity, did you tell anyone that you were coming here today?”
“Yeah,” Harvey answered in confusion.
“So your family knows that you aren't missing if you don't come home tonight?” I pressed evasively.
“Yeah...” Harvey answered slowly, unsure he wanted to know what I had in mind.
“Good!” I exclaimed in glee. “I need you to do me a huge favor!”
“Like what, and keep in mind that it's my birthday,” Harvey reminded me in case I had something horrible in mind.
“I just need you to distract someone so that I can get some sleep!” I blurted out almost desperately.
Harvey shrugged, clearly not fully understanding exactly what I had in mind. “I guess I can do that.”
“Great, follow me,” I beckoned, gesturing for him to do exactly that. I led him to Glacèe's bedroom, knocked in case she was inside, and then let us in when there was no answer. I knew from pretty much every night this past week that she would retire to her room and undress before coming to my room. Aside from the first time, she usually bathed in here too. A quick glance around proved that there was a tub full of hot water waiting for her, which meant that she was likely to be back soon.
I decided to hurry up. “You wait here. I'll have dinner sent to you, so don't worry about that. As for me, I'm going to probably skip dinner tonight and go straight to bed!”
Harvey looked uncertain – especially after he noticed a chain and shackles attached to a wall and a rack of intimidating implements displayed prominently near the bed. “Um... And what am I supposed to do here?”
“Just keep her company tonight,” I stated as if this was the simplest thing in the world.
Harvey thought this over carefully before nodding in agreement. “I guess I can do that.”
“Thank you!” I gushed, and then rushed to leave the room. “You have no idea what this means to me!” I called out from the doorway, closing it behind me before he could change his mind.
I waited just one second – half tempted to warn him – but then decided against it. I heard him sigh dreamily: “Ardent's bedroom!”
Not quite! Feeling only a tiny bit guilty, I ran to my room and locked myself inside. Don't get me wrong, I loved having sex with Glacèe, but at the moment, I felt like I hadn't slept in years! She not only kept me up half the night, but she thoroughly exhausted me in the process! So long as I got some decent sleep tonight, I would totally make it up to her tomorrow.
In fact... she'd probably think I deserved to be punished for this...
Ardent picked the lock the next morning, proving that trying to keep Glacèe out wouldn't have been possible. She woke me up by sucking on me as usual, which was a feeling I had come to seriously love. Once it was apparent that I was awake, Ardent burst into giggles.
“That was a very naughty thing you did to poor Harvey!” Ardent informed me. “I just so happened to be with Glacèe when she walked into her room, so I was able to introduce them, but you should have seen the look on his face when I left the room! Glacèe was delighted, by the way.”
“Was she?” I asked, a little more than half surprised. I hadn't really thought about it, but if I had, I think I would have assumed that Glacèe would have been upset.
“Oh yes!” Ardent confirmed with a purr. “She absolutely loves having new men to torture!”
“She didn't hurt him!” I gasped, sitting up in case I needed to rush off and rescue him.
“Relax!” Ardent pushed me back onto my back with a laugh. “I'm certain that she didn't do anything worse to him than she usually does to you.”
I blushed guiltily. I assumed they all knew that they were sharing me, but I hadn't actually talked about it with either of them. Just Sang-Soif. What I didn't realize was that they apparently shared the details with each other!
“Well,” Ardent amended with an amused smirk. “She doesn't like anyone touching her during her sleep, so she probably tied him to the bed and left him that way all night... unless she chained him to the wall...”
“Oh my Gods!” I exclaimed in horror. “Harvey would be well within his rights to kill me for doing this to him!”
As much as I wanted to play with Ardent like we usually did in the morning, I just couldn't. Not with Harvey chained to a wall or tied to a bed! I sat up again and tried to crawl out of bed, but Ardent wouldn't let me.
“Trust me! You do not want to go into Glacèe's bedroom right now! She is not a morning person, and if you wake her – Lord or not – She'll string you up and flog you! That's if you're lucky not to be electrocuted on the spot!”
I stared at Ardent in silence, trying to determine if she was telling the truth or exaggerating. A feeling of dread filled me when I realized that she must be telling the truth. Even Sang-Soif had told me about Glacèe electrocuting anyone who tried to wake her.
I had no idea what to do, so I took a deep breath to help me think.
“Ardent?” I asked, slowly letting out the excess air. “If Glacèe has seriously hurt Harvey, will you promise to string her up in the dungeon and punish her for me?”
“Hmm...” Ardent purred, sitting up straighter. Her interest was definitely piqued. “That sounds like it could be fun!”
Ardent took the time to remind me why I loved playing with her in the morning, and then left me to go for a ride. I trudged to breakfast with a heavy heart, certain that Harvey was going to hate me forever after this. Worst of all, he would be totally justified!
As it turned out – when Glacèe finally woke up and released him – Harvey was one huge grin. He joined me where I was waiting for him in the family dining room, unconsciously rubbing his shoulder.
“Ow! I'm so sore now, but at the time...” Harvey muttered.
“It felt wonderful!” I finished for him, grinning as I mentally sighed in relief.
“Uh-huh!” He agreed, and then attacked a plate of food. He yawned, holding a hand over his mouth to prevent food from falling out. “I can see why you needed sleep so badly!”
I jumped almost 10 feet in the air when Lord Godric roared a moment later. He burst through the door looking like a warrior hell bent on slaying a demon or two. His eyes glowed fiercely as he pointed at me.
“You!” He growled. “You call yourself a Lord?!” He came running at me with his sword held high over his head.
I scrambled to get out of my chair just in time to avoid being chopped in half. I barely had a second to get to my feet and try to defend myself while Godric used his foot to pull his sword free from my sturdy wooden chair. It was now destroyed, almost cut cleanly in half with just a sliver or two holding it together.
“What did I do?!” I cried out as I dodged to the side.
Lady Abattre laughed joyously, calling my attention to the fact that she and my giggling sisters were standing in the doorway, blocking my escape. In unison, the three of them taunted me. “A good Lord never forgets a sparring session!”
Using every skill I possessed, I managed to avoid all of Godric's attempts to kill me just long enough to reach Abattre and claim my sword from her hands. A moment later, I was thanking all the Gods I knew that my sword was sturdy enough to block a bone-jarring blow from Godric.
“I didn't mean to forget!” I called out, blocking a couple more strikes. “I was just too tired to think straight!”
“You think that's an excuse?!” Godric shouted indignantly. “You think your enemies will simply wait to attack until you've had a good night's sleep?”
“What enemies?” I demanded, my arms hurting from the force of his blows. I wasn't sure what was stronger, the urge to run away or his anger as he nearly clubbed me with his jewel studded hilt. I put all of my concentration into surviving his onslaught.
Just when I thought I was about to die, too exhausted to go on, Glacèe startled me by laughing. “You see? I told you that you picked the wrong weapon!” She tossed a bolt of lightning across the room that prompted both me and Godric to dive out of the way.
“Are you trying to kill me?!” I demanded incredulously.
“If that's what it takes to prove my point,” she stated with an uncaring shrug. She threw another bolt at me almost lazily.
Godric burst out laughing, grabbing me out of the way just before it hit me. “Don't listen to her, you were doing pretty well before she started trying to kill us.”
Glacèe took offense at his statement and cast him her frostiest glare before she tossed a bolt at him. Still steadying me, he couldn't quite move fast enough to avoid it. I watched his hair stand up on end in fascination.
Godric growled at her. “You're lucky I have a high tolerance for pain...”
She shrugged indifferently. “It's your fault for not avoiding it.”
Abattre was laughing so hard that she had to hold her sides. Forcing herself to speak, she just barely managed to ask. “Do you need me to protect you, my love?”
Godric snorted and rolled his eyes. “Like I could ever lose to such a cold-hearted harridan!”
“You think I'm cold?” Glacèe asked in a deadly voice. “Come with me to my dungeon and I'll show you cold!”
“Ha!” Godric laughed dismissively.
A new voice sent a thrill throughout my entire body as it joined the conversation. “That sounds like it could be fun! You freeze him and I scratch him until he begs for mercy!” Sang-Soif suggested.
“Please!” Godric said, shaking his head at them as if they were pathetic. “Even if all the Gods blessed you and you were able to catch me and drag me all the way down to your dungeon, my wife would beat you all within an inch of your lives before you could so much as clamp me to the wall!”
“Smooth,” I chuckled as I inspected my sword for damage. “Spoken like a true Lord!”
His wife liked my sarcasm and joined me in teasing her husband. “Remind me to tell their Majesties that the great Lord of Clan Storm likes to hide behind his wife's dark purple skirts!”
“Hey! Whose side are you on?”
My father entered the room and joined the conversation with a laugh. “I do believe that Abattre's loyalties lie with the Lady of Clan Blood above all others.”
Abattre was busy filling a plate, but straightened up to look at my father. “I always said that you had to be smarter than you look, although I still don't see what my sister sees in you!”
“Yeah yeah,” dad muttered with a chuckle and a roll of his eyes.
Lord Godric had apparently decided to let the subject drop since he too was filling his plate. He looked at my father with a strange expression. “Speaking of Sanguine, have you heard from her recently?”
Dad shook his head. “Nothing since she wrote a letter saying that she was with child.”
Godric nodded sympathetically. “Abattre and I have decided to go visit her in the palace once spring arrives and melts all the snow. I'll make sure to send you a full account.”
“Thanks,” dad murmured. “I appreciate that.”
Lily, who had long ago grabbed something to eat and finished it off, decided to change the subject. “Daddy! I did it!”
“Did what?” He ask curiously.
Abattre answered for her, grinning proudly. “Darling Lily has such talent! Earlier this morning, I showed her how to throw somebody over her shoulder, and she managed to do it on her very first try!”
“Yeah,” Sandra grumbled, pressing a hand to her back. “I'm still sore from that!”
Abattre ruffled Sandra's hair. “If anyone should ever dare to attack your daughters, Sandra will quite easily be able to beat them up and toss them at Lily, who'll throw them over her shoulder and knock them out!”
“Girls aren't supposed to fight!” Harvey burst out with a laugh.
Sandra looked over at him in surprise. “Harvey! I didn't realize you were here!” It was certainly true that he had been very quiet up until now. She shrugged, half agreeing with him. “I understand why you think that, but our mom has reason to believe that we might need to defend ourselves someday. She asked our aunt and uncle here to come stay the winter and train us.”
“It's better to know and not need it than need it and not know how to protect ourselves,” Lily murmured sagely.
“Hmm...” Harvey hummed thoughtfully. “I suppose...”
“If we ever have a daughter of our own, it will be my joy to teach her to defend herself,” Godric stated with a smile at Harvey before turning a pleading gaze at his wife.
Abattre laughed softly. “Maybe someday...”
After being mostly cooped up in the castle all winter, we all felt the need to let loose and be silly. Breakfast was an entertaining affair as everyone joked and playfully threatened each other. Even Ardent finally joined us after her ride, which made everyone laugh all the harder as she and Glacèe held an epic bickering match.
Far too soon, everyone wound down. I was the first to sigh morosely. “If I don't finish those reports now, I'll be utterly swamped when the next packet arrives!”
“As much as I would love to help you, my prisoner is being obstinate!” Sang-Soif declared. “I have to go kill him if he doesn't start listening soon.”
“Want me to help you break him?” Abattre asked. “I've got nothing better to do until the girls are ready to spar again.”
Sang-Soif sighed in self-derision. “Sanguine would have had him broken and sitting obediently at her feet by now.”
“As much as I hate to admit it,” Glacèe murmured with a frown. “I think all of our prisoners are simply too cold to care much what we do to them.”
“Especially yours!” Ardent added with a snort.
“At least you have prisoners!” A women stated, startling us all. “My dungeon is utterly empty!”
“Misere!” Abattre called out joyously as she rushed hug her tight.
I hadn't met Misere yet, but Ardent, Glacèe, and Sang-Soif had. They all took turns hugging their mentor and aunt. Misere thoroughly enjoyed the attention for a moment before holding up a hand in a silent request to speak.
“Since my dungeon is empty, Frayeur, Fureur, and I decided to come here and see how the young Lord was getting on.” She stepped aside to make room for the other two, who strode into the room like they owned the place. I had met these two, and wasn't sure if I liked them.
Ardent bounced in excitement. “Our prisoners have no idea what they're in for!”
“I think it's time I showed you my firebreath!” Fureur announced as she hugged Ardent.
“Yes!” Ardent hissed happily.
“That should warm our prisoners up!” Glacèe snorted in amusement.
“Let's go!” Ardent insisted, grabbing Glacèe with one hand and Fureur with the other and dragging them out the door.
“You coming?” Fureur asked her twin brother as she followed Ardent.
“Nah, I think I'd rather instruct Gavin here on the fine are of terrorizing his subjects,” Frayeur replied with an evil smirk.
“Have fun!” Sang-Soif wished as she linked arms with Abattre and Misere. “And don't pay any attention if you hear frequent screams of sheer terror!”
“Blech!” Godric muttered with a shudder. “I still have no idea how you can stand to work in the dungeon!”
His wife blew him a kiss as she walked away, not deigning to try and explain it to him.
“You've watched her work, right?” My father asked Godric.
“Once,” Godric grunted unhappily.
Dad nodded as if he had expected that exact answer. “All I can figure is that they all share the same strange perversion. I could never stomach what goes on down there either...”
Sandra shook her head and frowned. “I don't understand, daddy. Ardent says that she beats her prisoners up until they vow to be good and decent men. What could possibly be so bad about that?”
“Hrmph!” Dad harrumphed, shaking his head. “Just never you mind. Ardent shouldn't have even told you that much!”
Lily sighed and rolled her eyes at him. “Mom told us that much!” Sandra nodded her head in agreement. “She said her job was extremely important to the Kingdom.”
“And so it is,” dad admitted softly. “That still doesn't mean that either of you need to know the gory details.” He then pointed at me. “And that goes for you too. I know that you're tempted to sneak down there and see for yourself what goes on in the bowels of your castle, but I promise you that if you do, you will never sleep soundly again!”
“Yes dad,” I answered, reluctant to let him know that I was actually afraid that he was right. Deciding that the time was at hand to leave the room, I got to my feet. “I have work to do.”
Harvey, who obviously didn't know how to respond to any of this talk of beating and torture, also took the opportunity to get to his feet. “I should probably go home now before my mother decides to add a hundred more chores to my list! Thanks for the delicious breakfast and for celebrating my birthday with me.”
I shook his hand, grinning in remembrance.
Lily tugged on our father's sleeve. “Daddy, can I walk with Harvey? I want to bring my new puppy to grandma and grandpa's and show him off.”
“Harvey, do you mind?” Dad asked.
“Nah,” Harvey stated, shaking his head. “I think it might be nice to watch a puppy play in the snow.”
I could tell that he was just trying to be polite and smiled gratefully. “Thanks.”
Dad nodded, kissing Lily on the cheek. “Fine, go on then.”
“Hooray!” Lily shouted before running off to fetch her puppy.
Waving goodbye to Harvey, I headed to my study. Sounds like I'm going to have plenty of solitude to finish my reports, which was good because at least half of them were requests for aid from other regions who were less prosperous than mine. I'd feel bad if I didn't respond to them as quickly as possible.
Go To Part 5
Go To Part 5