“And a fair morning it is indeed, that the gods have smiled upon me! That I, a warrior true, should be presented with both horse and harlot, when I have lacked both for so long, and such comely creatures both! Shapely, ripe, and plump, and fair game for Arvak, Bane of the Western Wood. Yes, 'tis I, fair one, but despair not; resist me not and I shall not leave you on a hard circumstance, except, perhaps, of a certain. Mayhap a well-horsed wench will partake of sword play of another kind?”
What an asshole, Rina thought, glowering down at him from her saddle. He had stepped out from a copse of birch and fir, interrupting her morning ride. With the marsh closely approaching the well-trod sod of the path on the opposite side, it was an ideal spot for an ambush and had doubtless served the purpose for this nitwit many times; one time too many.
She eyed him carefully; he did not appear to be thriving. He wore no jewelry or adornments and his clothes were suitable for stuffing into the cracks of a drafty hovel, or perhaps starting a fire. His weapons, while not of high quality, would have some value. She noted with interest that the great sword and strong bow were prominently in view, but only his short sword, scarcely larger than a dagger, was worn where it could be quickly drawn and wielded. The man himself could be called neither young nor old, handsome nor unsightly. He had the hard look of a woodsman though she suspected that he hadn’t been eating well of late.
In the end it was mercy as much as profit that motivated her. He had the disheveled look of someone who’d been sleeping outdoors for some while; there might be some drawbacks to the change she was about to introduce into his life but he would likely be more comfortable, eventually.
“I will give you what you ask, clansman”, she said, swinging her leg over the horse and dropping gracefully to the ground. She was a good-sized woman, with the heavy breasts and sturdy shoulders of a milkmaid and nothing of the meek or deferential about her. Arvak eyed her body with naked hunger, but he was not so blind as to miss the sword on her hip.
“Why do you call me clansman?”
“You speak the words of a Southron but you have the accent of an Eastlander.”
“So you hail from the fair East as well!”
“Nah. Just making small talk before our sword play.”
“Oh ho, my lady”, he said grinning broadly. She was glad to see his teeth were all there and mostly straight. “I assure you, once skewered by me none other shall -“
His voice and smile died at the same instant, the instant when Rina drew her sword.
“What is this?” he asked in an entirely different tone of voice.
Rina shrugged innocently. “Sword play. How else do you play swords?”
“My lady, I assure you. I intend to treat you quite civilly but I have a temper when crossed.”
She chuckled and deftly drew a cross with her sword tip in the air in front of him.
“Mock me not, I warn you!”
“Draw your sword, pinky.”
His eyes did flare then, and in former times she may have had reason for concern. His smugness gone, she actually found him appealing. He drew the small sword, a good foot shorter than her weapon, and advanced carefully. She circled him in the path, crossing blades, until she was facing the way she’d come, up a slight rise to where the trees opened out into a meadow.
She lunged, forcing him backward up the path. Despite the greater size and weight of her weapon, she wielded it much more nimbly and with greater power, forcing him to constantly parry. She let him tire, then tire some more, and finally flipped his sword out of his hand with a deft twist of her wrist. He licked his lips and looked at her sideways.
“I am unarmed.”
“No, you’re not.”
They both looked at the large sword on his hip. His eyes darted while he thought.
“I will not draw it”, he announced. “It is the sword of the first-born of my family, used only to settle blood feuds. This is not such a contest.”
Bullshit, thought Rina, although she conceded it was a more inventive answer than she was expecting. She sheathed her sword. “Very well”, she said. “A less direct contest, then. We shall use our bows to target shoot at distance. Do you see the broken tree on the far side of the meadow?”
She pointed toward a lightning-struck shred of trunk, well out from the cluster of woods and unmistakable, about 100 yards away. Arvak pursed his lips. “I must confess I have not prospered of late and my weapons are not in a proper state of repair. I fear my string would snap before drawing a target so far as that.”
Rina advanced on him suddenly, striking him in the shoulder.
“No weapons at all, then. Woman to man, as simple and fair as could be.”
“What! Strike a woman! The ghosts of my fathers would -“
SWAT! Rina had slid her hand out of her riding glove and swung it against his cheek. The flare came back into his eyes. Rina drew her arm back.
“I would not were I you -“
SMACK! Arvak could take no more and lunged at her. She grabbed his wrists and held him off, smiling, before abruptly pulling him toward her. Smoothly, she caught him and pressed close to his side, trapping his left arm between their bodies, while reaching behind him and catching his other wrist in her right hand.
Despite his struggles, she held him as easily as she would a child, laughing until he went limp.
“Make sport of me no longer! You guess my shame, though I know not how!”
“Shame? Why Arvak, whatever do you mean?”
He hung his head, and spoke sadly. “Some months ago, while visiting the village of my birth, a plague struck all the men there, making them as weak and mild as babes.”
“And what of the women?”
Rina released her grip on him and, taking his belt in one hand and holding the other just below his throat, lifted him bodily off the ground and up over her head.
“By the gods!”
“No, by the goddesses!” she corrected him, putting him back down. “It wasn’t just your village, dolt! There was a revolt in the heavens! Don’t you remember the night of the falling stars?”
Arvak shuddered at the memory of the huge, flaming balls streaking through the sky, as ill an omen as men had ever imagined. “Imir was cast down by Lyta! The goddesses have usurped the power of gods! Freta holds Wootun as a servant, keeping him meek and obedient, and the other gods are as chattel! And as in the heavens, so shall it be on Earth.”
Rina checked herself; in excitement she tended to take on rather florid speech patterns.
“And Lyta’s gift to women, her favored ones, is the ability to rule over our males as she rules over hers. That is your plague, Arvak. The will of the goddess.”
She put her hands in the collar of his shabby tunic and tore it wide open, yanking it down and exposing his shoulder and chest.
“We do love a bit of sword play as well as we ever did, though.”
She reached below his belt and squeezed; as far as she could tell he seemed reasonably well-supplied, before he leapt backward like a scared cat.
“Are you mad, woman? I could no more ‘play at swords’ now than…than -“
“Play at swords? I hope you’re better at the one way than the other.”
He turned and ran. Rina watched him for a moment, irritated, and gave two sharp whistles. Seconds later her horse came trotting up from his grazing. Little in life was more valuable than a good horse at a moment of need.
She mounted up and set off after Arvak, who was making more or less for the remnant of the dead tree in the meadow. She gathered her rope and casually tossed a loop over the fleeing male, pulling him to a halt no more roughly than she needed to.
Dismounting, she reeled him in despite his thrashing around, dodging and catching his blows until she got tired of it and drove her thigh up between his legs, perhaps just a little more roughly than necessary.
“That’s for calling me a harlot, by the way.”
Arvak slumped to his knees and she bound his hands together in front of him with no further difficulty. The tree was just a few yards off now, with one sturdy-looking branch remaining on the shattered trunk. Rina tossed the rope over the branch and pulled, lifting first his arms and then himself, tying it off when he was forced to lift his heels off the ground.
She took the great sword off his hip and examined it.
“Was this really an heirloom?”
“Nae; tis just…my sword.”
She looked at the bow and found it to be of the same middling workmanship as the sword. They might draw enough coin from the broker for a night of debauchery; two, maybe.
She tied the weapons onto her saddle and took a small knife from a saddlebag. Standing behind him, she began to slice apart the remnants of his clothing and pull them off his body.
“By the Vanir! Have you no shame, woman?”
“Not particularly. What’s this big scar?”
“I was gored by a fidont when I was thirteen.”
“You’re lucky to be alive.”
She tore the last shreds away and pushed him forward. Reflexively, he stopped and balanced himself by pointing his toes, flexing the back of his legs. She nodded appreciatively and gave him a long grope, listening to him gasp slightly at the familiarity.
Rina stepped around in front of him; he eyed her with warily but with no fear despite the knife in her hand. The clan feuds were brutal and captives tortured, but she had already denied being a clanswoman. Despite the tenuous nature of his situation, he was curious what her intentions ultimately were.
His chest had a coating of fine, slightly curly hair, a line of it running south across his taut, hard abdomen. His legs were thick and seemed larger than needed to support his narrow hips. His genitals seemed retracted into his body, but that didn’t disturb her. She knew that running about and taking a knee were not the sorts of activity conducive to lengthy displays.
She grabbed him by his pubic patch and yanked him toward her, producing a yelp. With a swift but controlled flick of her wrist, she sliced the tautly pulled hairs and flipped them away into the breeze. She glanced quickly at him; this was an act of humiliation tantamount to castration in many tribes. If that was the case for him, he hid it admirably, looking more puzzled than indignant.
She finished up the chore, carefully sliding the blade across the skin. There was stubble left, but it was as good a job as she could do with the knife. Unfortunately, having its shelter removed seemed to make his cock retract even further into his body.
“Does turtle want to come out to play?” she cooed, tickling the pinkish-brown head. She fondled and squeezed, even kissed and nibbled it to no effect. Not the desired result, obviously, but males handled subjugation in different ways; she wasn’t through yet.
She shed her own clothing now, down to her calf-high riding boots. His eyes widened at her full breasts and pointed nipples, strong thighs framing her own unsheared forest. She nestled herself against him, feeling his body still magnificently hard and full despite having been drained of its power. His skin was smooth and slightly slick with sweat; sniffing him she began to feel slightly slick herself.
Still, there was no salute; he looked at her sheepishly.
“Surely and I do regret; betimes, no amount of coaxing -“
“Yeah, yeah. I’m not done yet.”
She walked back to the horse and took a riding crop and leather strap from her saddlebag, both of them showing signs of use.
“Yet never once have I used either on you,” she murmured to the horse, which held its head just so, allowing her to stroke it.
She announced her return to Arvak with a powerful stroke of the strap across his ass. He started, of course, then rolled his shoulders, bracing the rest of his body. This seemed to be more the sort of thing he had been expecting.
She worked his body deliberately, at times like a painter on a canvas, finding the spots that needed a dab or a stroke, and the ones that needed a stark dash of color. Other moments, she felt in almost a trance, the implement in her hand seeming an extension of herself, able to taste and feel his skin in that instant it made contact. The feeling built and broadened, anticipating before the impact and savoring after, and the contact itself seeming to join their bodies together in an instant of unity.
Breasts heaving as she finished, Rina found that she had still failed to get a rise out of him, despite his sharp breaths and gasps. Miffed, she pinched his penis and pulled until his toes could barely touch the ground before letting it snap back.
“One way or another,” she told him heavily, tying a leather thong around his balls before untying the rope and letting his hands down. “Now get on your back.” She liked how he did as he was told without hesitation. She had found that obedience seemed to come naturally to males, once they got over themselves.
She stood over him, grinning, her foot on his chest, pulling up on the thong and stretching his balls, relishing her power over him. “I could hang you up by these, you know”, she said, giving the thong a hard tug before dropping herself onto his face. “I’d do a good job if I were you.”
She settled herself heavily on his face and looked down at him, obscured by her thighs and bush. She ran her fingers through his hair and leaned forward onto her hands, closing her eyes. He either had some aptitude or some experience because his tongue slithered immediately to the right places. She shimmied with pleasure and he spread his hands across her broad ass cheeks to steady her. A bold act, but not unwelcome.
If Rina had thought to look over her shoulder, she would’ve seen that he was finally sprouting, his serpent uncoiling in spite (or perhaps because) of the sharp pulls on the thong tied to his balls as her pleasure peaked. He kept his hands on her, so overwhelmed by the sexual power of her body he was scarcely aware of his own body’s reaction to it.
She arched her back and pumped her hips hard into his face, eyes clenched and mouth open. Never one for shrieking or screaming, she weathered her orgasm with sharp, forceful exhalations, and her fingers pulled up handful after handful of the tough tangled grass.
Finished, on all fours, she hung her head and let her breathing return to normal while he lapped up the juice from her thighs and the matted hair at her center. After some while, long enough for Arvak’s blossom to wilt, she lifted herself up.
She brushed the grass and dirt off her knees and walked over to her mount, as it calmly chewed a mouthful of grass; he’d seen his mistress do this kind of thing before. She found his currycomb and began to clean his coat. It was already clean, but it was a chore she could do without thinking, and moving her body extended the floaty feeling of well-being she experienced after a good, clean cum. Besides, she wanted to see how Arvak would react to being used in this way.
It didn’t seem to bother him. He had gotten to his knees, hand and balls still bound but not apparently self-conscious now that she was exposed, too. He watched her tend the horse and waited.
“You may have worked your way out of the fields and into the boudoir with that, Eastlander”, she said at length. “Particularly if you can get the rabbit to come out the hole.”
“Only to enter another”, he answered with a grin.
“That’s enough wit.”
He smiled and glanced down. “If I may make so bold to inquire - what of a boudoir?”
“Pretty obvious, isn’t it?”
“To one who already knows.”
“I mean I’ll sell you for sex rather than labor. I get more money and you get an easier life. Happy happy joy joy.”
His eyes widened. “You’re a slaver?”
“Lucky for you. If I were sheriff you’d have hung by your neck, not your hands. I believe that’s what they do with brigands in these parts. Or did; things are changing everywhere these days.”
His eyes darted and his head turned in slight increments while she retied his hands, cut the rope, and coiled the rest to hang on the saddle. Honestly, Rina thought, a snake could hear the wheels grinding.
“It may be,” he said, as she picked up the lead for his balls, “that milady’s advantage would lie in keeping Arvak by her side.”
“Lady, is it? A bit ago, I was a harlot. At this rate, I shall be queen by supper.”
Arvak, quite rightly, chose to let any reference to the harlot comment pass. She tossed a blanket over the saddle and mounted up, still wearing nothing but her cloak and riding boots. She yanked on his lead, nudged the horse much more gently, and the three of them began to amble slowly along.
“I can no longer offer the fearsome power of the warrior, but I possess much knowledge and many skills that could prove of use.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
“I know the woods and marshes hereabouts like the back of my hand.”
“I intend to leave these woods.”
“I know the ways of the trapper, and where to find the Boreal Vole.”
“I trade in cocks, not furs.”
He wouldn’t let himself be put off by the intentional crudity.
“I am an accomplished bard, as fine as any in Coruza.”
Rina looked at him with wide eyes. “You’re a minstrel? A singer of songs and teller of tales?”
“Have you committed many to memory?”
“Dozens! Nae - hundreds!”
“And do you accompany yourself on the lyre?”
“I sing like a bird in spring whilst I play the lyre, lute, or dulcimer!”
“Tales of knights errant, songs of loves lost and refound?”
“Yes! Oh, yes, milady, yes!”
“I hate that shit”, Rina scowled. “Maybe I will sell you for a field hand.”
His face fell from a fully-furled banner of hope to a limp pennant in dead air. In a way, this was more satisfying than beating him.
They sauntered along. Arvak started to speak several more times, but was cut off by a savage yank on his lead. He proved to be more persistent than bright.
“Milady - AGH! Is-there-not-aught-I-can-do?” He blurted out the words rapidly before she could pull on him again.
“Hmm, let’s see”, she drawled. “It’s proving to be a warm, sticky day. Perhaps if I ride side-saddle you could find a way to…refresh me.”
Rina smirked and at him and slid one leg alongside the other, pointing her big, bare bottom out at him. It was beautifully shaped, bouncing slightly with the clip-clop of the horse, a trail of hair from her pubic area circling around her brown button. Arvak glanced from there to her face, making sure he gauged her meaning correctly.
“Aren’t you going to slow down?”
“I can’t hardly slow down any more, and I’m not going to stop. I thought you wanted me to keep you?”
With that, he dove in and proved the nimbleness of his tongue earlier was no fluke. Rina moved herself around to make sure that he got access to every nook and cranny. Nicely done, but she didn’t have any particular use for him, other than the obvious. She didn’t really hate tales and songs, but she suspected that she would weary of hearing Arvak’s voice long before he did. He’d shut up when she told him to, of course, and seem happy enough about it at first. Eventually, though, he’d get sulky, and that got tiresome very quickly.
If you traveled in a group, of course, sulky could be more easily ignored but Rina was finding that an entourage was its own kind of tiresome.
“So there you are!”
Rina had guided them to the lip of the ridge overlooking her camp. Tridda stood in the clearing, near the string of four slaves they’d already captured, looking something other than entirely happy to see Rina. She was a long-nosed pear of a woman who always seemed to be scratching herself somewhere. Rina had brought her with because she was available and claimed to be knowledgeable with herb lore and woodcraft. So far all she’d done was agitate the slaves and eat as much as all of them combined.
Arvak had finally yanked his head out of her ass at the sound of Tridda’s voice and moaned slightly. It might’ve been at the sight of the other slaves, connected by chains to the cuffs around their genitals, bringing the reality of his predicament home. It might also have been at the sight of Tridda herself, squinting at him with her face scrunched up in a most appalling fashion.
“Found another one, did you? Well done! We’ll have a hard time surpassing this in future forays! Talk of it around the fire, we will!” Tridda’s moods ranged all the way from surly to grouchy, with a dash of horny reserved only for the slaves, thank all the goddesses. This forced cheerfulness was beyond suspicious.
“He found me, more like.”
“Aye, and a fine looking lad he is, to be sure. The two of you got on well, I take it?”
“We reached an agreement.” Rina dismounted and handed Tridda Arvak’s lead. “Put him on the string with the rest.” He gave her a regretful, pleading look, which she did not acknowledge.
Tridda took him away with a twitter. Rina took Arvak’s weapons from the horse. She put the bow over her back and examined the quiver of arrows. She took his sword and hefted it in her hand. It perhaps might’ve been of a bit better quality than she’d first thought.
She patted it against her hand and walked over to where Tridda was shackling Arvak, making five on the string. It was a good haul, although they had to be brought to market flush and active, not listless and pale like these four. Rina clenched her jaw, her suspicions confirmed. “All four of them?”
“What?” Tridda stuttered slightly.
“You had to fuck all four of them into fatigue?”
Tridda twitched, then squirmed, and then twitched some more. “You were gone a long time.”
“I told you leave me one of them.”
“I didn’t know you’d be gone so long!” Whiny; petulant.
“And why would that make any difference, you foul twat!” Rina’s anger didn’t explode; it shot at Tridda in a focused beam. Rina often found herself loathing people after relatively short periods of time, but few deserved it so much as this sow. She advanced with Arvak’s sword in her hand.
“You dare insult me?” Tridda’s bluster was even less convincing than Arvak’s had been; she was a goat facing down a dragon and she knew it. Rina held the tip of the sword under her chin.
“Put the chastities on them and give me the keys”, she hissed.
Sourly, Tridda turned and found the pile of iron chastities. They were crude, uncomfortable, and very effective. She started with Arvak, who winced and squirmed with pain.
“Careful!” barked Rina. “They’re worth something in Coruza. You’re not.”
Tridda’s shoulders hunched as if she’d been struck. She finished with the rest of the slaves and sullenly brought Rina the keys.
“Get them moving. Meet me at the old signal hill by nightfall and you just might last this trip.”
With that, Rina mounted up and galloped away.
She rode off her anger. As richly as Tridda deserved her share of it, Rina knew as much belonged to herself. Rina had spotted Tridda for a selfish, stupid fool from the first; didn’t that make her as great a fool for partnering with her? That slaving was a two-woman job and no one else had been available didn’t make her feel much better. She rode on, looking at the splendor around her.
The landscape was lush in the golden sunshine, although she saw several places where the underbrush needed to be cleared. The ways of the tribes needed to be remembered, even though so much other ‘wisdom’ needed to pass and fade away, as her anger began to do.
At least it was a short trip; only four days march to Coruza and a nice profit even if they didn’t find another male wandering about.
Consoling herself with that and the near-certainty that there would be more suitable confederates in Coruza, she dismounted briefly and dug through her pack for the ivory shaft. She found it at the bottom of the bag, wrapped in soft leather, warm to the touch. Meant to comfort a traveler over long journeys, it had been beautifully carved for her by a village elder when she went forth to make her way in the world.
She handled it briefly, rubbing her fingertips along the flare of the head. When she found herself wondering if Arvak’s was like that when aroused, she shook her head and fastened it to the seat of the saddle, pointing straight up.
Rina mounted carefully, working herself down the length of it, cooing as much to herself as to her mount, keeping them both steady. When she was finally, firmly on the saddle, she urged her mount slowly forward, allowing herself to bounce with his uneven gait.
Soon, it was time to urge him on a bit faster.
Moments after that, her hair flying out behind her and face lifted up, she watched the clouds floating above and imagined herself soaring up to meet them. Beneath, a truth not articulated but known all the same drifted as lazily as the clouds - sometimes, nothing was as valuable as a good horse.