Iona was not sure how long she laid there. A pain in her chest made breathing exhausting. This pain moved through her body till everything ached. Tears were never a general thing with her; she cried till empty. This was worse than physical abuse; that could only break her back. This broke her spirit. Her spirit was her only pride. To her it had value. There were no memories without it. She clung to it. Her spirit was the only thing she truly owned. No man or woman could take it. Or, so she thought.
The process was gradual. When Kieren left the ship, he took her spirit with him. No one had to inform her of his departure. She felt the pull. As he drifted away, she felt it move with him. Then finally it disappeared. It was a mercy that he had not violently ripped it from her chest. There was no broken skin, just emptiness. He had no knowledge of what now clung to him. No one takes what they do not want. Her strength followed. The absence of strength left her motionless. Voice abandoned her too, an involuntary silence this time. She gave no protest.
Like Iona's depreciation, it was irrepressible. First she was less than silver pieces, second less than goats, then less than brightly colored cloth. That had not mattered. They could not own or trade her spirit. Without one she was less than a homeless dog and felt this to her core.
Days passed without notice. Soiling herself became more than a threat, which caused her to rise. Washing the bedding gave her nowhere to lie, which caused her to stand.
Someone saw to her food and brought her water, when they remembered. Even a dog was fed occasionally, she thought. It mattered not. Although keeping herself clean, she rarely stomached food. Whoever came moved quickly and avoided acknowledgment.
There were no restraints circling her ankle, no locks on her door. Without Kieren's interest or protection, Iona was left open. She was at the mercy of his men. They could do whatever they chose. Men without rules lack a heart. There have no form of natural affection within them. Just like animals that eat their own children, they have no conscience. She had seen men come close, but had stood still due to decrees designed for their kind. Decrees brought order. With no consequences there were no boundaries, no decrees.
Iona sat waiting, rocking back and forth with her hands clasped.
Maybe they would take her one by one. She was special. They would stand in line, sweating and desperate. They would lick their dry lips, eyes wild from the pressure of impatience. His men's stature was larger than most. Like Kieren they would be well endowed.
Maybe they would take her by threes, taking advantage of every aperture. At first, her skin would be a source of wonderment. They would work in unison. Together they would kiss and lick to experience her taste. Each would want to squeeze her firm breasts. One would suck one as another sucks the other. Jealous, the third one would pull from any available area. This would feel good and remove her fear. Then they would fuck her, one beneath her, one behind her and one in her mouth. She would welcome the abuse, having perversions never shared. They would congratulate each other on the extent of their attained depth. This would be a sign of manhood, a reward. They would pump in and out of her feeling the press of each other. The rhythm would take hold of her and she would move with them. She would come with them; her body would stream with a combination of thick liquids. To watch the crawl of cream against the darkness of her skin would be another great wonderment. Its taste would be on her tongue. Its lubrication would soothe her loosened opening and swollen pussy. She would be shocked by her own pleasure. Kieren's roughness and hunt for gratification would then pale in comparison.
No, the men in charge would take her first. They would have a strong need to finally taste this delicacy that once was denied. They would show tenderness. Having frequent experiences inland, a woman's touch would not be rare. This woman would request no fee, yet be most valued.
Maybe one would want to feel stronger, bigger, better, and last longer, with a desire to finally best Kieren. This one would want to bring her pleasure to have proof. This one would take his time, angering those that wait. No one would dare hurry him.
Iona would welcome him, thankful for his gentleness knowing this was a gift. But from this point forward Iona would not be herself. She would float above. She would watch, but later she would turn away. That which is not her would remain, knowing that she is only a vessel.
The one wishing to give pleasure would kiss her inviting lips, loving their soft lushness as he runs his hands down the sides of her body. She would be like fruit to him. He would suck on her neck as he works downward. He would circle her nipple with the tip of his tongue as if testing its sweetness. His lips would first kiss its tip before taking it fully. He would feed, pulling from it. Flicking it with his tongue and nibbling with his teeth would make her back arch, feeding him more. His other hand would knead the other breast as it waits for his fine treatment. He would find her special places and kiss them all appreciatively. He would fondle and explore every inch of her skin to rid the influence of myths.
The one that is Iona would watch from above in anger. Because of his ministrations, the one that is not Iona would be a traitor. The betrayal would be with her body. This betrayal readies her to accept him. With a pussy fully saturated, her legs would spread wider.
He would lie on top of her like lovers do, but only to read her expressions. He would ask her to place her arms around his neck. Wanting the others to hear her moans, he would enter slowly. She would feel every inch of him and know where he falls short. Still she would welcome him. His fucking would be deliberate. Often pausing, he would suck, bite and mark her breasts thinking it extends his longevity. It has the opposite effect.
He would ask, "Am I stronger?"
Her hands would feel the curve of his shoulders and slide to his upper arms as she lies.
"Yes, you are stronger."
He would pull himself out of her, glistening with proof of her eagerness. Sitting between her legs on his knees, holding himself, stroking his length with proof of his eagerness forming droplets at its tip, he would wonder.
He would ask her to touch it and she would feel the heat of its firmness.
Finally he would ask, "Am I bigger than him?"
She would lie again, nodding her head, and say, "You are much bigger than he is."
One push to the hilt would enter her this time, while he intently watches her face. With satisfaction he would begin to move and fuck her faster. He would work harder than before, grunting as his control weakens. He would become thankful for this feeling that she gives. He would begin to forget himself, wrap himself with nothing but her. Then to avoid the appearance of such, he would force himself to stop.
Sweating profusely and breathing heavily, he would ask, "Am I better than he is?"
She would nod her head, bite her lip and moan deeply, to avoid expressing this lie.
The thought of being stronger, bigger and better than the man he idolizes would increase his pride, give him a new sense of manliness. This would increase her sweetness. Pursuit of her pleasure would become stronger as he reaches for his own. She would be a taste far better than any tasted before. He would be hypnotized by her willingness to except the man he has become—longing for him more than she did the other. He would be sure of this fact by the look on her face and the reaction of her body. His fucking would become frantic and hard to control. He would remember that he should out-last Kieren-this proves to be his greatest obstacle.
Grunting would come from low in his chest, in union with his progress. He would begin to say "Yes." repeatedly until the name of his favorite god replaces it. Concern for what was heard would no longer be of importance. His release would cause his body to spasm. His pleasure would borderline pain. Nothing could have prepared him for what he feels.
She would have turned her face to the side, so her eyes avoid the sting of his sweat and the bizarre look on his face. The feel of him filling her would bring shame.
Iona is no longer herself; it would not be her shame.
She would then rise up on her elbows in curiosity because he had slid down her body and put his face between her thighs. He would look up and smile, a boy finding unintended sweets. This would be his perversion, the one he will not tell the others about.
He would suck his own fluids from her as if pulling from the neck of a bottle. Sounds of his tongue lapping at her pussy would remind her of a starved animal licking an abandoned dish. He would be thorough, moaning with his own satisfaction. She would find herself moaning too, not out of pretense. Her eyes would close from the feel of it. For the second time, the vessel would betray Iona. This time the betrayal would be greater. He would continue to suck and lick till she shudders. She would grab at his hair, hair not blond or as lush as Kieren's, unable to endure the feeling he gives. It would be more than she can handle.
She would feel guilt for having responded. This would not be Iona's guilt. There would be tears though, Iona's tears. Iona would cry because it is Kieren who is missing in so many ways.
Before this man leaves, sitting beside her and slipping on his leather foot coverings, he would say, "I was in you for far too long, that is why my seed filled you so."
She will not respond to that; there is no need. He would no longer need her reinforcement. He would now have what he feels to be himself. This man would rub his hand down the curve of her back and kiss her skin for the last time. He would lick it with appreciation. He would be thankful. He would know that everything that is her will be missed.
When he leaves, she would know that he was the last act of intended kindness. He was the exception.
Nothing of that sort had ever happened to Iona. She had been fucked, but never like that. She knew what was possible though. Awful things had been told to her by a supposed wise slave.
The slave had told her things in a hushed voice. Iona had looked at her in fear. However, the woman seemed to gain some type of satisfaction from the telling. Iona thought that suspicious.
"How could you possibly know and sit before me?" Iona scoffed.
"My master once had two of us," the woman continued. "He had a debt. She was the payment."
"You saw this?" Iona did not whisper her words.
"I hid in a position that allowed me to witness all."
Those words were hard to believe; anger flooded Iona.
"How could you witness such a thing and not attempt a rescue?"
"You are so young and naïve. There would be no point in two when one suffices."
Iona spit in the woman's face.
"To be born a female slave means a life of undeserved suffering and continuous tokens of insignificance," she told the woman with disgust. "To sacrifice one of your own by choice deserves more than just suffering, more than just tokens. You are less than insignificant."
At the time, Iona's rareness was highly prized by her master. Her master was greatly revered with a large house and many sons. To make him angry would have deadly results, not just from him but those born of him. The woman's master had already proven to be weak. Not only was he the type that did not pay his debts, Iona thought he could not protect his household.
Iona screamed out in pain and dropped to her knees. When her master ran to her aid, he found a frightened and terrorized Iona. With fear gripping her, Iona was forced to reveal the source. She pointed to the woman. There was nothing else required. When the woman made way to protest, the backhand of her master silenced her.
This was a serious matter. If an animal was damaged, then the one damaged must be replaced by its equal in value. Slaves were no different. Iona was checked for damage. Although no physical damage was found, her master did not like her mental disposition. Iona was lost in uncontrollable tears; she could not be calmed. So great was her distress that she could not describe the offense.
Her master demanded retribution.
Iona's master had been gentle with Iona. This did not prove to be the case with the other slave. Given permission, he punished her as he saw fit.
A devastated, but sympathetic, Iona pleaded to bring the woman water.
"It will sooth her," she told her master.
Iona's master pondered her request. He thought his beautiful, spun gold child to have a heart too tender. But if this was what she desired...
Through tears Iona brought the woman water. In pain the woman attempted to grab at it. Iona began to put it within her reach. The link between the two never completed. Iona fed the water to the ground. This was an act not seen by others.
With no tears Iona bent to let the woman hear her clearly.
"I curse you," she whispered. "Now the blood of your sister slave cries out for vengeance. As of this day, she will touch everything that enters your mouth so that the God's recognize you. They will never let you enter into the afterlife. You will be forced to stand at the base of Helgafjell. You will stand at this door forever suffering the pain you witnessed. No one will attempt to rescue you."
It was on that day, still not yet a woman, Iona discovered the power of silly speculations. She was never a slave to their Gods. If there were Gods, she would not have this life. If the people that influenced her existence thought her impious, she called on that fear for relief.
"See," she said at full height, "I am young and I am naïve. I am also one of the living. You are already dead."
From that day forward the woman refused sustenance. People whispered that she had harmed the female Blåmenn, for that offense she shriveled up and died.
Iona had felt no guilt at the time. It was a fair trade for the life of her unknown sister. To her that was honor.
With the situation she found herself in now, Iona pondered the possibility of Gods. They were now viewing her and not pleased. She had prayed on the fears of their people far too long. Reason then took hold of her. If the Gods now looked upon her, why had they not noticed the actions of others? She decided that no loyalty could be given to Gods that found justice in her state. She would take her punishment with her back straight. Even without spirit, she would keep her honor.
She waited for what was to occur. For the first time, she could not hew a path to safety. There were no choices here.
Iona braced herself each time the door opened. Each time only saw the delivery of necessities and the removal of waste. Sometimes one would come to the door and just listen, then move away. After waiting for days, Iona opened the door to step into what must befall her with no fear. The rowers did not look at her. They must be of lower status she concluded. They would have her last if she survived long enough. She soon discovered no recognition of her presence was to be found. She thought this odd.
Then as she slept it occurred to her. Iona sat up in anger. "They think me not worthy of abuse."
She was offended.
Her non-existence left her free to roam the Longship, but she limited herself. Found vile and thus shunned, Iona thought it best to not get in the way.
One day while gazing at the waters, dread left her. Iona thought of how refreshing the waters would feel. It would give her a final cleansing. It would envelope her in its arms and she would finally know how it felt to be loved, to be held with love and found still intact—no pieces of her soul stolen. She remembered no mother rocking her. Now the sea would be her mother. The sea would be her final pleasure. The song of its movements would be her music. The vastness and coldness would make her last breath painless. The beasts of the sea would not bother acknowledging her. She would go in peace. No one here would bother to notice as she climbed to her descent.
Kieren's words were truth, whispering in her ear.
"Do not be a fool," an unrecognizable voice spoke behind her. "Men will lose their lives if you give yours away."
"You are the fool," she declared without turning to face her accuser. "Something that has no worth could never be compared to the life of one man, let alone many. Your precious men are safe."
"He warned us about your tongue and its ability to draw anger," he said. "The burden you are makes your words true. Nevertheless, I am no fool. My leader has given the order that no harm should come to you. Self-harm, no matter how appropriate, would hold no dissimilarity to him. Men would still lose their lives. The process would be painful, even if he takes no joy in it. His words never contain lies. His actions are consistent."
"Go away from me," she spit out with the wind in her hair. "No man of your kind is incapable of lying. He cares not for me and you care less. I can relieve you of your burden. Believe me, with assumed consistency or not, your master will be relieved. He has said these words to me directly. Shall I believe you, in which I do not know, or shall I believe the words of someone having proved dominance over you? "
"You senseless bitch," he declared.
Iona was immediately lifted off her feet by two men she had not realized there and thrown back into Kieren's space.
The burly owner of the voice towered over her as she lay on the floor. He was older and the front of his silver hair was tethered. At the back, long and thick hair flowed. On his face he wore a full beard, from his chin hung a long braid. He could have easily been Kieren's father.
Iona recognized him in spite of the anger that twisted his face. He was Kieren's second.
"First I shall clarify what your minuscular brain may not be designed to comprehend. I have no master. I have never been enslaved by anything. By free will I release my life to a superior leader for the greatest cause. Because of you, our leader has departed. He is out there in battle without us. We are his finest, the favorited ones, his most trusted. We are his warriors. I am his friend. Nevertheless, we are stuck with you. And you..."
Shaking his head, he forced himself to gather words that would only replace the cutting of her skin and not the satisfaction of cutting her in two. It was a hard task.
"You are a demon, just as first thought," he determined.
"I have no witchery," she said, awkwardly picking herself off the floor and hoping that he would not return her there. "I am not even a woman. I have nothing within me or outside of me. Kieren has taken my spirit; this leaves me without heart. You are the ones that have me at a great disadvantage. He values his men. You are a part of him. He cares for what is his. I have been assigned anywhere that is of distance from him. I am not his. I have no care. He will never claim me. You have not allowed me to claim myself."
Exposure brought no shame. Her sayings were undeniable. This man, one she had seen often at Kieren's side, was surely aware.
"I beg to differ; one could never claim a lack of spirit within you. You leave these men in constant fear of losing their lives. All you give in return are dramatics."
"With no thought Kieren seeks out a place to deposit me. Or, he lets you leave me where you please. The latter is most likely. Knowing this, you should sanction my self-termination. If you had any mercy you would allow me that right. Why make me wait to be disposed of. My life means nothing. There is no reward in me. I am a slave without a master. I am the dog, the nuisance that wanders your ship and catches itself in your legs. Wherever I am situated, I will be at the mercy of someone's foot. "
"You are the deadliest of fools. You have no respect for your life therefore less respect for ours. You are blinded by the disrespect you show. When my leader departed, his anger was great. It surrounded him and projected itself onto us. Yet, through that anger he established your safety. For your benefit we were instructed to protect your life or lose ours."
He shook his head once more and continued.
"Even from afar he gives you his finest protection. He offers you the freedom of it. Although he reveals nothing, I suspect that you have thrown it in his face. I believe that if you tell him where you desire to be, he will take you there himself and still stand watch. We have an order to deposit you in the midst of safety. Still we must watch over you there. He leaves his best with this duty as if you are a treasure."
Iona thought the shaking of his head to be a mental twitch. He seemed to have a hard time thinking and speaking at once.
"If you are a treasure, you are very well hidden within yourself. It is hard to believe that you were ever in service to anyone. What slave behaves as you do?"
"If I am not to be given any satisfaction, I am thus finished with conversation," she threw the words back at him with her hands on her hips. "Remove yourself from this space. I grow tired of you."
"I grow tired of you. You are a painful growth on my ass."
"Then I advise you to kiss the curve of mine and take your leave."
He gave her a dry laugh which only indicated that she was far from amusing.
"He said that he did not want you restrained," this time his voice made her shudder inside. He looked to be at his last inch of control. Kieren's whisper was in her ear. "I will if it saves my life and that of others. I will add to that the gift of binding your mouth. If you think of what crossed your mind before, if it shows in your eyes, I will tie you down—feeding and bathing you myself. I have no desire to be in close proximity to you, but it will be a small sacrifice in comparison."
With that, the door was slammed shut.
As he moved swiftly away from where she dwelled, the older man passed the one closely watching over the girl.
"Do not make me have to carry your burden again. I will slice your neck for it," he roared.
That one man, a much younger man, laughed in response. Seeing to her care had become his source of entertainment.
Iona grew hopeful. Kieren had shown some proof of care. But, the knowledge that they could not hurt her under Kieren's command created a new boldness.
From that point forward, a man was placed outside of Iona's door. If she left, he left with her. If she was not properly dressed to roam the ship, he grabbed her by the arm and shoved her back into the room. If she coughed, concern crossed his face. Sometimes she pretended to have trouble clearing her throat or acted as if she was choking to irritate him. His eyes would pin her down with anger. When she pretended to slip, he would claim her arm and curse when she was again steady on her feet. This became her only form of entertainment.
What she did not know is that every night he begged one man for relief.
"What fear should I have? She makes me want to end my own life," he exclaimed.
The one man chose to ignore him as he made his request.
"If I choose to leave my post," he warned the group behind the man, "some of you will die for sure."
That one man stepped forward so that he was in the guard's face. "I will torture you slowly myself before taking your life and then freely surrender my own. Kieren would not deny me this right. Like a woman you whine. My advice to you: Be a man-hopefully before she wakes."
The guards fear was evident. Next to Kieren, this one man was most dangerous and most capable.
The other men laughed as one man took his leave.
"You laugh because I am the only man among you," the guard directed toward the group. "You dream of her at night yet pale at the thought of coming near her."
The men laughed in agreement. He felt betrayed by his brothers.
Although not knowing what he did, Iona did know when he left his post—even to relieve himself. Sometimes she would get up and open her door wide. With fear he would rush in, only to find her dramatically feigning sleep. One time she hid. The entire ship was in an uproar. They found her sitting in Kieren's space without care, her hands clasped in her lap. Kieren's second looked upon her with the desire to wring her neck. She was not in fear of the old man. He could not disobey his orders. Of that she was certain. None would. Besides, she thought, they deserved such treatment.
She wished that they would let her go over the ship's side and die.
They wished that they could push her over the ship's side and watch her die.
Iona was not aware of the one that was informed of her every move. He monitored her eating habits and the smallest of her needs. He heard her tears at night and her moans of self-gratification. Because of both, he preferred to stay as far away from her as possible. It was for her benefit as well as his.
And so it went until she found herself fully dressed in the warmest of clothing, screaming curses while struggling on a rocky beach. After being bound and gagged, she was tossed over a broad shoulder. Iona was livid and did all she could to make his load as uncomfortable as possible.
Another ride up a river on a smaller ship and a short journey found her in the midst of a village. The village was brimming with life. For no reason at all, Iona continued to fight against her humiliating position. There were some words she wished to share as soon as she could. The men only laughed. As they passed, others laughed as well. Seeing the girl's attempt to fight someone so much larger than her, in such a helpless position, was amusing.
She did notice a market with meats hanging and some wares being sold. That was strange for this time of year. They must have an abundance, she reasoned. Surrounding Longhouses tamed the whip of the winds. Livestock plowed through the streets in transport. She saw bundled women wrapped in brightly colored cloaks heading to what must be their homes. Metal hitting metal sliced through the air. There was the consistent hum of hidden chatter. Iona smelled the cooking of meals behind closed doors and also vile smells that hurt her sensitive nose.
There were many men of all types. Some were obviously Kieren's. She imagined an artisan's mold failing to produce a perfect copy of Kieren. Kieren's form was without flaw. She had realized that each time he bared himself. Her dreams allowed her to touch the warm stretch of skin covering his strength, follow the path of fine hairs downward, and celebrate the feel of him in her hands. She could kiss the scarring on his back. The dream would end but her hands and lips would still feel him.
What hung between his thighs was no dream. Iona witnessed the beauty of that flesh. Some God had given Kieren a great gift. Iona wished her dreams would include the feel of him entering her, not as he had before. She wished to feel each inch of his gift claiming her, touching within her what had never been touched before. She knew that her body would not control itself as he fucked her. It would rise up to meet him, always desiring more. She would cry out each time he withdrew and thank him each time he drove in. Her arms would hold him tight, crushing herself beneath him. Close would not be close enough. Her nails would want to mark him. She would want him to mark her. The world would stop existing as he flooded her with his seed. Enough would not be enough. Afterwards, she would wish to taste him. She would wish to taste herself on him. Only then would she be able to believe that they were once one.
She knew that opportunity was ruined. Regardless, her thoughts left her dripping, her heart beating faster. Iona grew angry with her imagination. It had much better sex than any she had experienced.
The images that crowded her mind quieted her. Because of her calmed disposition, the men stood her up and removed her bonds. They warned her not to say a word before removing her gag. When she started to speak, a look made her think better of it. When she tried to run, the wall of someone's chest made her think better of that. She rubbed her nose.
"Where are you going to go?" an amused voice asked her.
Iona looked up into a handsome face smiling down at her.
"Far away from you, you swine."
"I must stay away from that mouth of yours. It bites quickly."
This brought on a roar of laughter from them all, which angered her more. Iona was thrown over another shoulder. She was too tired to fight. The battles of the day had worn her out. Did these men not rest, she wondered.
Finally she was brought to a huge dwelling, massive and formed with some thought of design—no crudeness to it. Her other master had been an owner of land and also a large longhouse. However, his was made of turf and sod with little timber. This longhouse could have easily consumed his. This one was all timber. Even the roof had a pointed frame of timber that sod only decorated. After gawking at it, she became aware that this could be her final destination.
Suddenly she panicked. Iona did all she could to prevent passing the threshold—which was not much. Knowledge that life would change, any control she had up until this point would cease to exist, frightened her. Obedience would be enforced by the threat of her life. Humanity hung in the balance. Most men had none, most women had less. A slave with a new master could become a victim of anything. Some are treated with care as a member of the household and some are abused like useless chattel.
Nevertheless, two men easily dragged her in.
Although forced, Iona knew it was necessary to remain quiet and calm once there. The situation must be examined fully. Every detail imprinted on her mind. She looked for indications that could comfort her thoughts.
There were three rows of high posts running down what Iona thought to be the length of the longhouse. They supported the roof over the central area. Positioned randomly around the room were long tables with assigned benches. The walls supported built in benches, they also wore decorations that were clearly a salute to Kieren, bearing what she assumed to be his mark. She had seen the design many times. That meant that he was somehow a part of what was here. However, she had not seen him and many men could fill this space. That was not a good thing.
The largest hearth Iona had ever seen sat in the middle corridor. Light from the midday skies filtered through strategically placed gaps in the roof. Pathways branched off, possible living spaces or storage areas. Stepping boards in a graduated fashion led upward toward lofts, one on each side. Iona guessed that such an owner would have carved beds for his family to sleep on. The master that cared for her the most had only one; its existence was for himself and his wife. She bet the members of this family did not have to sleep on any floors, and not as one. She hoped that her head would be given a separate place, one where she was safe from the large hands of sons.
What Iona did not see was straw scattered across the pounded earth beneath her feet. No tools hung from the walls. The preparation of food filled the air, not the scent of cattle or horses being held inside against the cold.
Maybe, she thought, this place was not for living. She saw nothing present that could help them survive the remaining days of winter. They had to store their gatherings somewhere. Nothing seemed stored here.
A rather large woman, who appeared to have had dark hair at one time, came out of an opening and stood by the hearth.
"Bring her to me," she said.
The men were happy to throw her forward. Iona almost fell.
The woman roughly grabbed Iona by the chin. She inspected her. "Show your teeth," she demanded.
Iona tried to bare her teeth without sneering.
"Cough," the woman said next.
"Hold up your arms."
This was strange to Iona, but she did what was commanded. Maybe the woman wished to check the curves of her form. Iona saddened. Maybe the woman would want to breed her.
"Now flap them."
Iona thought the woman truly crazed.
"I said flap those arms," the woman demanded.
The fear of what she may be subjected to filled her mind. Iona did what she was told.
Releasing Iona's chin with the same care in which she had claimed it, the woman boomed with laughter—accompanied by a protruding middle and a larger bosom.
"I've always wanted to do that to someone," she said, still laughing as she turned to the men.
The two men laughed with her. Iona felt humiliated by them all, but she showed no signs of her feelings.
"Ah, so this is the witch that has entranced him," she teased, looking back to the girl. "Obviously she is a pure delight, is she not? Such class and grace differentiates her."
Turning to the men, she smiled. "I hear she has the mouth of a shipman as well as his lack of fear."
"We have no desire to claim the noises she makes," one surrendered.
Iona hissed at him.
"She plays games as well," the old woman said, with one eyebrow raised. "Don't be so full of shit girl. Any fear you encounter here is due to Kieren, believe that. I'll have you know that I have no fear of him and less for you. I will put my hand to your ass if you desire to act like a spoiled brat. Where do you think Kieren learned?"
Iona's mouth dropped in shock.
"I will do worse if you speak to me the way you have spoken to these men."
As she closed her mouth, Iona's face shaded red-if possible. Nevertheless, she could feel the heat of it. If this domineering, rotund, old cow knew of Kieren's abuse, what other things did she know? Certainly, this woman could not be played with. Iona feared that too many mistakes had already been made. She knew that having a negative estimation of her nature could prove more than unpleasant.
"I beg forgiveness. I acted in fear," Iona said, dropping her head in submission. "I do so much wish to please my Mistress."
This brought looks of unbelievable shock from those responsible for her delivery.
"I don't even recognize this creature," one swore. "Careful, we have found that there is usually a quiet before this dark one's storm."
Looking sideways, Iona's eyes narrowed at the one who spoke.
"It is only because I have been harshly treated by these brutes." Iona's voice sounded innocent. "I am a slave that serves best in the most feminine workings of a household. I am unprotected against such handling."
"I bet," the woman roared in laughter.
"She is all yours," one of the men said with relief.
"In all her luscious glory," the other one added.
"Oh," one remembered, "I wouldn't leave any knives around. She puts on quite a show attempting to hurt herself. The result could possibly be that you desire to hurt her. Removing any knives within reach would lessen the chances of assaulting her. I am sorry; I cannot guarantee that you will not find a way to improvise. The situation can be that desperate."
"I would be more careful of the one she has stolen from Kieren and hides under her skirting." The other laughed. "Perhaps she has been saving it for her final attack."
"Their words intimate that these beasts have somehow managed to get under my skirting," Iona said in shock. "I am not aware of such a thing. I have been unseeingly defiled."
"Intimate," the woman mocked Iona. "Unseeingly defiled."
The woman looked into Iona's eyes as if searching for something. Iona tried to widen them in order to impress the woman with their brightness. If she was found easy to the eyes, she would be more suitable for the house. Women were much harder to convince.
"Good grief. Are you sure she was ever a slave? The girl could have you all under her spell if she chose."
This brought more laughter from the men.
"Maybe she was not a slave at all," one teased. "Maybe they had caged her in hopes of shutting her mouth."
"What they obviously forgot was a muzzle," the other concluded with a wide smile.
Iona was more than offended and the ability to suppress her anger was dissolving. Fear was the only thing that held her, for she was at the mercy of this woman.
"Sorry that I played with you so," through laughter the old woman spoke.
She then became more serious. "There are no slaves in this house nor are they encouraged in others. You are free and urged to move about as so. I have no pleasure in babysitting the children of others. Kieren is quite aware of this. If you fail to be considerate or unable to care for yourself, I will place you in a cage—with a muzzle. There you will wait for Kieren's return."
Iona considered the women for a while. After finding her honest and easily amused, Iona calmed. She was more than ready for a hearty meal, in spite of the needless comments from her so called protectors.
"For the two of you, I can no longer contain my thoughts," Iona started at first convenience. "Both of you are in need of a bath and are worthy of only kissing the curve of my brown behind. Feel free to kiss it twice, since excrement falls so freely from your mouths."
The men raised their arms to smell themselves.
"Oh," the large woman laughed louder than before, "she does have a quick tongue, and at a table filled with food. Kieren explained this to me while here. I did not estimate the depth of his words. No wonder he stays as far away from her as possible."
The woman's words immediately sobered Iona.
The woman missed nothing. She now realized that it was more than this rare beauty's tongue that left him homeless. The old woman also recognized sheltered pain within the girl.
"I am Brenna to you," the woman announced. Unable to stop herself she added, "Or, you can call me Mistress Brenna the Great and Maker of Miracles, if you prefer pretentions."
Brenna decided that she would watch the young girl carefully, not for self-harm but for the safety of others. The girl could take care of herself, although strongly ruled by her emotions—no matter how contained she appeared. It was Kieren that would quickly end a life if the girl was harmed in any way.
Brenna actually felt sorry for the poor child. No experience could have possibly prepared her for Kieran. He confused even the most developed woman. He was an easy man to fall in love with and a hard man to fall out of love with. There were many women that loved him deeply, knowing their efforts were endlessly fruitless. Kieran remained blameless, never one to make promises with no intention.
Though a man with substantial appetites that were easily filled without request, nothing drew Kieren's mind from the accuracy of his sword. His love was for steel, the design of his knives and the never ending sea. His need was for battle, the taking of what he wanted and distribution of what he felt just. This was not hidden from anyone. No woman could compare. Unfortunately, no man would ever compare after a woman felt the touch of his hand. It was this way since he discovered his own cock. In Brenna's opinion, he had been given too much power too soon. Having experienced much, he often found himself bored.
The little one had been touched, that was obvious. In what way Brenna was not sure, he gave no indication other than the sadness of guilt. She wondered if it was Kieren suffering from the little one's touch. The girl was unique in ways that went beyond the color of her skin and the twists of her long hair. Brenna could see how that would be of interest to him. Age had taught Brenna that anything was possible. It also told her that danger rested ahead.
"Where is Gunner?" she asked the men before letting them go.
"Gunner and the girl had words. For her safety, it is best that he also remain at a distance."
"Where is Long Sword? I'm surprised that she is not left with him instead of you."
"You insult our ability to handle that which is barely a woman?"
"Where is he?" the woman asked impatiently.
"Probably in a woman's arms," the men teased.
Brenna looked at the girl with pure amusement. "Are you safe with anyone? Gunner is the most patient man I have ever encountered. You are pretty enough to at least have garnered a moment with Long Sword. I'm sure he carries the most weight of responsibility for you. Well on second thought, you may be too impressionable. He tends to make one's mind fail."
"I don't know?" Brenna further pondered. "You may be a handful for him, having ruined Kieren."
Iona broke off a piece of bread and bit into it before answering. "I have no idea who this Long Horn is. However, you obviously have seen the left side of this Gunner. I have seen the right. They are not identical."
Brenna shook her head. "I do like the way she speaks."
Brenna led her down one passageway. The result was a space only for Iona. Brenna told her that she could enclose it if she preferred. There had never been a space set aside for just Iona. The thought of sealing it so that she could truly be alone amazed her. There in Iona's space stood a carved wooden bed with feet that lifted it off the floor. She had a washing place that was bigger than the one Kieren had on the ship. Iona reached out and ran her hand across the smoothed wood. A wooden box, large enough to fit her body in, surprised her most. Iona stood there opening and closing the lid. The box had Kieren's symbol carved into its face.
Brenna informed her that the box should store her things. She would give her another if it did not prove to be enough.
"My things," Iona repeated in disbelief. "I have no things."
"You have nice things to store and wear." To Brenna the poor girl looked lost. "Kieren acquired many things for you. This I know. His men came here to purchase and trade for him. Some were at high cost, paid for with silver pieces. He was, as always, very specific."
"Yes," Iona said running her hand slowly down her outerwear as if feeling it for the first time. It had not occurred to her that anything nice was actually hers. She assumed the clothes she wore, like other things, would be returned to their owner eventually.
"His men will make the delivery shortly."
"Yes," Iona repeated.
Brenna began to worry. The poor child sounded unusually confused and a little daft. Brenna hoped that whatever was racing through Iona's mind would be figured out.
There were problems. Brenna did not like the girl hiding food. She wondered when the girl would come to know that there was no need for such. Rodents also sought warmth from the cold. If small weapons were left lying around, the girl collected them and then looked innocent when inquiries were made. As of yet, Brenna had not discovered that stash. She was quite sure that it was growing. Upon Kieren's arrival, she would inform him of the girl's hidden fears.
Truth was spoken; Iona did not have the restrictions of a slave. This excited her. Iona was a fast learner. She learned the village quickly—where to go and where not to go. The way everyone worked together amazed her. She knew what to find in each outbuilding. She knew the homes of many that worked in the square. She tried to be on speaking terms with all. There were a few that spoke harshly to her or seemed to have some animosity. They were mostly women, and of course a few of Kieren's remaining men.
One person in particular seemed to lead a select group of women in their hatred towards Iona. Her name was Astrid. Astrid attempted to make Iona's existence hell. With unusual ease, Iona ignored the barbs meant to degrade her intelligence, her skin color or her morals. Iona found her own intelligence to be greater. She believed that her morality should not be questioned and she was secure with the color of her skin. Her differences had at times been the only reason she was still alive. Iona was a free woman now. To irritate another free woman and remain one was exhilarating.
Her skills were few, but she made due. She could clean like no other and befriended the women handling laundry and such. It required much lifting, but Iona was stronger than credited. It took some time for them to warm up to her. Kieren's thoroughness in dressing Iona left her at a disadvantage. Iona found that once she dressed more like the locals and not like a mistress herself, the women relaxed. It meant that the weather had more of an effect, but that was a small price to pay. To some younger girls, Iona gave away a few choice things. The girls grew ecstatic when told they were of Kieren's choice. That was the winning move. Daughters and mothers began to like her. She would clean and help with the laundry as if it had always been her duty—which actually it had. Children would come to her each morning to learn a new word. Iona enjoyed that immensely. She too had taken advantage of every opportunity to learn as a child.
With Iona there the longhouse was cleaner than Brenna had ever known, as was the kitchen. Brenna decided that Iona was too clumsy to be trusted with any cooking. The simplest of tasks could result in cuts, bruises or burns. Brenna hoped Iona would be fully healed when Kieren finally arrived. The man wanted to appear indifferent, but had taken great care to establish the depth of her value to him. The entire village was aware of his demands.
Brenna hoped that Iona had not detected her shadow. Kieren's men were serious when it came to their assignment. Astrid had already been warned twice. There would be no third time.
Iona was more than aware that she was being watched by one of the men. He was quite good at fulfilling his assignment. Iona was quite good at taking in details and positioning people that surrounded her. As a child she had learned that skill in order to avoid situations that may have resulted in harm. If someone was not there when they should be, if someone was there that should not, was easily noticeable to her.
She played games to test him frequently. It was important that he not detect her knowledge. If so, Gunner would only assign someone else and maybe that someone would be keener. Soon she discovered how to easily lose him if she preferred.
The changing of the season brought warmer days, but mornings could still be bitter. As the days grew warmer, the restlessness within Iona grew as well. She became more mischievous. One morning she decided that she preferred to expand her freedom. This did not include cleaning or laundry. With an early start and the mist that covered the village, her escape was simple and took little effort. Brenna would not even discover her absence until later.
Iona's curiosity drew her to an area of trees and challenging terrain. The rising of the sun was beautiful through the growing leaves and the rise of the mist. The shift brought the sounds of the forest. But, there was one sound too distinct. Of course, Iona followed it.
She ran across an interesting site.
A man was having sex with a girl against a tree. The hem of the girl's clothing was pulled high as was one leg. His tall body curved into hers for better access. One hand was under the knee of the girl's leg; the other was positioned on the tree for leverage. The girl was opened wide and the flesh of her meaty rump was visible. His britches were low and a portion of his was exposed as well. Iona, with her head bent slightly to the side, found him to have a nice behind. The way it flexed with every push reminded her of Kieren's.
The girl clung to him for dear life and had the grunt of a man every time he forced himself upward. His push was so thorough that the girl's extended leg never touched the ground.
Their heavy breathing was obvious in the cold, evidence of their dedication to the cause. He gave her much effort as he developed his own rhythm. Iona admired his pacing.
Suddenly the girl let out a sound that Iona had never heard before. It was a grunt combined with a shriek. He immediately told her to please shut up. He plunged into her roughly several times as punishment.
With the power of each stroke, Iona wondered if the girl's back hurt as she rubbed against the tree. Each thrust took her up, each retreat brought her down. It did not seem to trouble the girl at all. As a matter of fact, the girl seemed quite comfortable in the positon and told him so. This resulted in him telling her to shut-up again. Each time brought punishment, which she seemed to also enjoy. The punishments hit a spot that made her gasp and flap her leg. She threw her head back and hit the tree. Iona assumed that it was the spot that Kieren had touched within her. Kieren's manipulation impelled a feeling so great, Iona would have hit the tree as well.
Iona had to confess, the scene was quite erotic. It did have its effects. The carnality made her breasts grow firm, aching for the grip of a strong hand and the pull of a demanding mouth. Either would do at this point. If she was alone she would be touching herself, gliding her finger in small circles around her firm center because its head would be too sensitive. Her body was calling for something stronger than her own touch. It was happening more each time she stimulated herself. The man became Kieren as her vivid imagination took flight. It was her ass up in the air. Kieren was putting his lips where her finger roamed and pulling with his lips. She had never experienced it, but knew it would feel amazing. The thought alone was enough to make her tremble with excitement. The result of Iona's breathing floated from her.
If she was closer she could possibly see the slide of him going deep and pulling back. Iona was certain that he was thick. Thoughts of the swollen lips of her pussy kissing the base of his cock and opening as he withdrew excited her. She wished that it was her against that tree being impaled with such force. Moans of want would fill the air as Kieren fucked her. The heat of his cock spreading through would make the coldness of the morning air non-existent. With him she would need no other. He would dive into her over and over. He would want her to make sounds. He would hit that spot each time. Their combined juices would crawl down her leg when they were through. Wanting to feel the effects long after parting, Iona would not clean herself.
The girl kept making that horrid sound, bringing Iona back to reality. If he had one more hand, Iona mused, he would cover her mouth. The thought was amusing.
Iona had to credit him for longevity. The girl's body and sounds indicated that he brought her extreme satisfaction several times. Each time he requested that she shut-up. With her final time and obviously most supreme one, he told her to please shut the fuck up. Then he actually showed an indication of his own release.
However, he made no sound. Other than telling her to shut-up, he was quiet the entire time.
He let the girl down gently with kisses. He righted himself and then tended to her. He drew his fingers through her red curls in an attempt to tame them. When he was finished, she kissed and licked at his lips.
Iona hoped her hair was clean. She was very self-conscious of these things, but not all women here were.
He was extremely kind, whispering things to her that made her giggle. The girl was attractive enough, Iona thought. Of course that was if you had a preference for that type.
He kissed her dearly one last time and reminded her of how beautiful she looked. He told her that each time he saw her he grew hard and became blinded by desire. He did not think he would be able to look upon her within view of the villagers. He did not want her pureness to be questioned. He also told her what she must wash with to prohibit her from being with child.
She thanked him whole heartedly for his gift and asked him if there could be another. He just lifted his shoulders in response. He did tell her that he might teach her how to please a man with her lips one day. This made her happy.
Iona wanted to laugh.
The young girl went off in the other direction smiling. He watched as she left. She looked back twice. Each time he waived and gave her a subtle nod of his head. She then disappeared.
"Isn't it a bit early for a lady such as yourself to be spying?" he inquired, leaning against the tree and crossing his arms.
Iona was both shocked and shamed. Her concealment having failed, she chose to boldly step out in plain view.
"I was desperately in search of my protector and came upon this amusing sight," she said.
He looked at her and laughed. He really was quite beautiful on the eyes in a manly way. She recognized him as the owner of the chest that almost broke her nose.
"I bet that you know perfectly well where your protector is and wondered off in the opposite direction."
"I'll have you know, Long Sword Sir, that I am incapable of such deceit. I've purely become lost," she returned offended
He walked up to her and lifted her chin, bending so that they were face to face. Iona could feel his heat.
"I happen to know that this deliciously edible girl that stands before me is far from pure and capable of much," he teased.
With a creased brow that revealed her distress, Iona was left speechless under the spell of his eyes. There was something about him that felt familiar and called out to her.
"I find it interesting that you stayed to amuse yourself from start to finish. I could smell the rise of your feminine nature. I have an extra sense for such. Has he touched you in the sensual way?"
"Who?" Iona managed.
He searched her face. As he did so, his warmth swept through her.
"I think not. If so you would have behaved better long ago," he said with a lower, smoother voice. "Hmm, I fail to understand his reasoning."
He drew his lips closer to hers.
"A woman like you needs constant attention-not just any attention though. You need attention from a man that makes the time you give worth the loss. You need a lover that is more of a man than others."
He paused. Iona became lost in the moment. Her mind could see his words.
"With ease the heat of his power spreads through you as he shares his love. He tells you that he sees what is behind those dark eyes that turn brown in the sunlight. Need grows within you for the warmth of his lips. The curve of his tongue directs you as it meets your own."
His words were purposeful, Iona knew this. They were also mesmerizing.
"Your skin needs the feel of his hands roaming your body as he gives you more than just love between your thighs. Your breasts press into him as you hold him tight. You need for him to claim you in every way, many times. It is only him that can."
With his blue eyes and the heat of his lips close to hers, Iona did not know how to feel.
"Sometimes he enters you softly and sometimes without mercy. Each appeals to you, doesn't it Iona? This time will be slow. He slides in, awakening new senses with every movement of descent. You offer yourself freely to feel the freeness he offers. He makes you feel the sky beneath you. Your body floats. The feel of him is so intoxicating that it brings tears to your eyes. You hadn't realized you starved until he feeds you. You love him for this. You love him much more as your body trembles and you finally know true ecstasy. He asks you if he can come within you. He lets you feel in control, but he is the commander. You gave him that the moment he chose you over all others. You plead for what he gives. He lets you plead. The scalding heat of him hits your womb with force. The muscles of your passageway grips him to receive as much of him as possible. You hold him tighter to you and beg in the tiniest of voices."
"Please never leave me."
"I never left you Iona, he says."
"His words make you tremble all over again. This is what it feels like to have your heart land softly in the strong hands of a real man."
Iona's breathing had changed. Her body wept. She could not decide its cause, was it that she missed Kieren or desired Long Sword?
Long Sword released her as quickly as he had taken her.
"My name is Russ, not Long Sword," he said walking around her. "I am Kieren's third because I am excellent and not as narcissistic as Gunner. I am in service to him because I am intelligent. I am his brother because we share the same father. My brother needs to return soon. You are a woman that should not be left alone for too long. Your nature is high and demanding. You are alluring and it goes beyond your unique shade."
Iona turned to look at him as he did her.
"Promise me that you will not touch yourself tonight with the thoughts I have instilled. You should save all of you for my brother. He will need every morsel you offer before revealing his weakness for you—even to himself."
He gave her Kieren's rare smile.
"Now come and let me protect your amused brown bottom," he laughed. "Who you tell to kiss it today interests me greatly. I have silver on it."
To be continued...
May 8, 2018 in romance