Mistress of the Sword
Chapter 9: Narahan
Yagos had not kept his promise to allow her a few words before her execution. But it now seemed of little importance as she did not know what she would have said anyway. She was determined to die as bravely as she could, knowing that the form of execution she was facing made dying with dignity almost impossible. To be raised slowly from the ground and then forced to hang as the rope inexorably cut into the flesh of her neck, cutting off the flow of air to her lungs and eventually bringing death, was a cruel and degrading way to die; hardly a fitting death for a warrior. She did not know of that at the time, and perhaps it was just as well. Instead she visualized herself rising slowly into the air and hanging quietly until Marana finally took her. She later learned that most who are condemned to die in such a manner did so kicking and screaming until their air was cut off; and then they presented a most gruesome spectacle, with their tongues protruding from their mouths, their features darkening to purple, and their eyes bugging out of their heads. That they also frequently fouled themselves added to the ghastly performance. But she knew of none of this and was fortunately spared learning of it first hand, for just as the rope tightened and Kellern and Sten prepared to haul her into the air a voice of almost god-like intensity roared out.
Hold! What do you do here?
The voice was followed by the sounds of hoofbeats and Shailaja turned her head to see several men ride up. Four of them were dressed in very much the same manner as Palnelt, but the fourth had her staring in more than mild interest.
He rode one of the largest stallions she had ever scene, a huge black animal that stood almost as tall as Halvar. But it was the size of the rider that had her even more interested. He was at least a head taller than she was, and if that was not enough of a revelation then his blond hair and cold grey eyes were.
Yagos stared up at the tall horseman, an expression on his face like that of a boy who has been caught in the kitchen stealing tarts. He immediately bowed low before the rider as did Palnelt and Chern.
Lord Narahan, Yagos said. We are executing a murderer and thief.
The harlot killed the Belehm Brothers, Edila shrieked.
That is true my lord, Yagos nodded. She confessed to the act in my presence.
Shailaja opened her mouth to protest this lie, but the man they had called Narahan and whom she had identified as a Kaltaran warrior spoke first. That is interesting. I do not recall hearing the case.
In your absence I acted as Warden and tried the case, Yagos explained.
I see, Narahan replied drily. The Brothers Belehm. That is indeed a great loss to Fellem. I am sorry that I was not here to attend their funeral.
There was no funeral, my lord, Edila piped up. We never found the bodies.
Really? Narahan asked. Was not the culprit questioned as to where she left the bodies?
Umm, Yagos hesitated. That question was not asked.
There are no bodies, Shailaja finally shouted. They were alive when I left them.
Indeed? Narahan frowned. This is getting stranger and stranger. I wish to know the details. The execution is postponed until I have had a chance to question the culprit. Remove the rope from her neck and bring her to the House of the Warden.
There was considerable grumbling among the villagers at being robbed of their entertainment, but no outright opposition. And the discontent ended quickly at Narahans next words. Ale will be served for all at the House of the Warden while I question the prisoner.
The villagers flowed back through the gates in an even more jubilant mood than when they had left. Apparently the appeal of free drink was a good deal more popular than a simple hanging. Only Edila seemed somewhat put out, trudging along glumly beside Narahans horse.
Once more reaching the House of the Warden Shailaja mounted the steps and was taken inside. By this time the pain and exhaustion was beginning to tell and to her shame she had to be helped up the steps by her guards. This time she was taken to a different room, one that was larger with a huge stone fireplace occupying most of one wall. It was furnished with a large table around which were set a number of heavy wooden chairs. To one side of the room a wide staircase led to a balcony that overhung the room.
Narahan motioned to one of the chairs Let her sit, he ordered, and then leave.
But Lord Narahan, Yagos protested. She is dangerous. She even attacked me.
Are you saying, Yagos, Narahan answered, glowering at the heavyset deputy warden, that I need you to guard me against a young girl, whose hands have been bound behind her and who can hardly stand?
No, my lord, Yagos said apologetically.
Then please leave, Narahan continued. And send Edila in here on your way out. I may have need of her skills.
Yes, Lord Narahan, Yagos replied. He quickly left the room, leaving Shailaja alone with Narahan.
Sit if you can, Narahan said, fixing his gaze upon me.
Narahan had observed Shailajas condition correctly. Her backside ached so badly that the slightest touch was agony, but on the other hand she was almost out on her feet. Being beaten extracts a great toll on the body and had Narahan not invited her to sit she might have collapsed, so in spite of the pain she lowered herself into a chair.
Her wrists were still bound behind her so sitting was awkward. Narahan studied her for a few moments and then rose from his chair. In two strides he was behind her and quickly cut the ropes binding her wrists. I dont expect you will try to go anywhere, he said. At least not while I am here.
The innocent do not need to flee, Shailaja answered. I did nothing wrong, save perhaps to show too much mercy to those I was accused of murdering.
At that moment Edila entered the room. The old woman no longer clutched her knitting, but instead carried a small leather bag. She gave Shailaja a suspicious look as she came before the desk.
Ah, Edila, Narahan said. I am going to leave you and the accused.
Condemned, Edila corrected sourly.
Shailaja of Kaltara, Shailaja added.
Yes, Shailaja. Narahan agreed. I wish to have her checked for any physical damage and attended to if need be. Fixing his gaze on Shailaja he added: You will obey Edila in all that she asks, just as if I were giving the orders.
Shailaja nodded weakly. What choice did she have? She was too weak to resist.
Good, Narahan said, and strode from the room.
Shailaja watched him leave, noting even his long stride and powerful, yet graceful physique. He was every inch a Kaltaran warrior and somehow she felt that he would not act in a dishonourable manner.
Get up, girl, Edila commanded, interrupting her reverie. And get out of those clothes. Lets have a look at what Yagos and his men did to you.
When she did not move the old woman glared at her. Im trying to help you, girl. Would you like me to recall Lord Narahan and have him see to the stripping of you?
Shailaja supposed that she would not, although somehow the idea was not as unappealing as Edila seemed to think it was. But she had been stripped enough by strange men in the last week or so. Reluctantly she fumbled with the ties on her clothing.
Here let me help, Edila said impatiently. Quickly, her aged but nimble fingers loosened the ties to Shailajas shirt and she quickly had the garment off.
Hmph, she commented as she surveyed the various bruises and abrasions Shailaja had suffered at the hands of Yagos and his helpers. Looks like someone had quite the time with you. Now off with your breeches.
These Shailaja removed even more reluctantly, even though Edila was a woman. The marks of her shaming were plain to see and she felt her skin colouring as the crone gazed upon it.
About as fine a beating as ever Ive seen, Edila said admiringly as she examined the black and blue markings on her skin. I cant say its any less than you deserve for what youve done. But Lord Narahan wants me to tend you and so I guess I will.
Why dont you just leave me then? Shailaja was heartily sick of the old womans carping and wished herself well away from her and Fellem, but she knew that she was too weak to travel much farther than the door to the House of the Warden.
Ignoring her question, Edila motioned to the table. Lie down there and Ill see what can be done for those bruises. Mostly what I think you need is rest.
Shailaja did as ordered, lying full length on the table, and placing her head on her folded arms. She felt incredibly vulnerable even though the only other person in the room was an ancient and grumbling crone.
Edila busied herself by sorting through the contents of the leather bag she had brought with her. Once she went to the door and asked for hot water and then went to a large cabinet in the room and took out a bottle. When she removed the lid Shailaja recognized the telltale scent of spahr, a beverage that seemed to have multiple uses.
By this time in spite of the vulnerability of her position Shailaja was too exhausted and beaten to object to anything asked of her, and when Edila insisted that she drink a mixture of spahr and something else she had mixed with it, she had little will to resist.
Within a few heartbeats of imbibing the mixture Shailaja could no longer keep her eyes open. A faint buzzing sound seemed centred between her ears and the world slowly faded from her awareness.
When she awoke she was in a different room entirely, although she did not realize it immediately. She was lying on her back staring at the heavy beams of the ceiling. It took a few moments to realize that the surface beneath her was soft and yielding and that she was covered by a light wool blanket.
Slowly she pushed herself into a sitting position, her body protesting every movement, and found that the blanket was the only thing she was wearing. However, she ignored her nudity and continued to examine her surroundings.
From what she could see she was in a second floor bedroom. The room was about six paces long and four across, and other than the bed contained a large wardrobe, and a small table with a washbowl and water pitcher. Light entered the room through an open window and from the angle of the sun she judged it to be early morning, although of what day she had no idea.
She was very hungry and thirsty, and her belly was pinched in, leaving her to believe that she may have been asleep for longer than just a single day and night. A strong odour of liniment permeated the room and she realized after a few heartbeats that it was her. She was unguarded, a refreshing change after what she had been subjected to before. It took her only a few more moments to realize that it had been sometime since she had visited a privy. It was then she discovered why she had been left alone. Her attempt to leave the bed was accompanied a slight clank and a tight pull on her left ankle. She flipped back the blanket to reveal that her ankle was clamped by a padded iron shackle attached to a long chain that trailed over the side of the bed. The movement revealed that her body still ached, especially where Yagos had applied his belt. Fortunately, the pain did not prevent her from getting out of the bed and using the pottery chamber pot that had been left on the floor.
That urgent duty attended to, she next went to the pitcher and finding it full of water, quenched her thirst. She was still very hungry, but with something in her belly she felt a bit better. Getting onto her hands and knees, she followed the chain under the bed to where it was fastened and discovered that it was attached to a heavy staple that had been driven into a beam on the other side of the bed. She quickly determined that it was far beyond her strength to remove it, and there was nothing to hand that she might use to pry it loose. Frustrated, she returned to the bed, pulled the blanket over her, and waited.
She didnt have to wait long; footsteps outside the door to the room alerted her to the fact that her privacy was soon to end and since she was unclothed she self-consciously pulled the covers a little higher, at the same time feeling a little foolish. The experiences of the last moon had certainly eliminated her maidenly qualities, but somehow she could not reconcile herself to being nude and helpless in the presence of her captors.
Narahan entered the room, followed by Edila and a young woman carrying a tray from which arose the smell of food. Shailajas mouth watered, but her eyes were fixed on the tall figure of the Town Warden. He was every bit as imposing and handsome as when she had first laid eyes on him
Its about time you woke up, Edila croaked, taking her attention away from Narahan. You need to get some food into you to help with the healing.
Shailaja looked at the wizened little woman who just a day or so before had been shouting for her death and wondered at her change of heart. She could only suppose that it might have had something to do with Narahan.
How long have I slept? she asked as she investigated the food the serving girl set before her.
Two days, Narahan replied, not an unusual length of time considering how badly you had been abused.
Abused, Edila snorted. She was just put to the question is all.
It is I who will be putting her to the question next, Narahan replied. I intend to learn the truth as to what happened concerning the Brothers Belehm.
The truth! Edila scoffed. Youll be hard put to get anything resembling the truth out of her.
Enough carping, Edila, Narahan said. I want her checked over as soon as she is finished eating. Then we will see about questioning her.
Shailaja was well into the bowl of mush that had been brought her. It was porridge flavoured with a little honey and a few spoonfuls of milk, and to one who had not eaten in two days, it was excellent. She finally set down the bowl, wishing that there had been more of it, and then turned to Narahan. When will the iron be removed from my ankle?
When it has been determined that you are as innocent as you claim and that will not happen until I have questioned you properly.
Then let us begin the questioning now, she demanded. I have more to do than remain here.
Even for one so young you seem to be in something of a hurry, Narahan replied. We will get to the questioning in due time. First Edila must properly examine you.
I feel well enough, Shailaja replied. Just return my clothing and we can begin.
It is I who command here, Narahan reminded me. Everything will be returned to you when I am satisfied that you are innocent. Now allow Edila to determine your state of health.
Shailaja glared at him from behind the blanket she still held to her neck. Am I not to be allowed any privacy for this procedure?
You have been asleep for two days, Narahan sighed. I have had ample time to examine every aspect of your body and I must say that I am most pleased with what I have seen. Now allow Edila to do what I have asked.
Shailaja felt the accursed colouring of her body as he finished. That she should be so affected was infuriating and somewhat puzzling. What should she care that Narahan had gazed upon her while she slept? In the last moon eight men had used her thoroughly. She had few secrets to keep and considerably less to be modest about, but she could not control the flush that stole down her face and invaded her neck and breasts, finally extending all the way to her belly.
Angered that she should feel such shame she defiantly threw the blanket from her. Gaze upon me then, she fumed, and may it give you great pleasure.
Oh it does, Narahan replied, smiling infuriatingly.
On your back, girl, Edila ordered. That should be a position you are more than familiar with.
Shailaja smarted at these words, but could think of no witty reply. Indeed had she spent far more time on her back than she would have preferred. She lay still as Edila, in the true fashion of healers everywhere, prodded and poked at her until she was satisfied.
Now roll over, Edila dictated.
Once again she was subjected to the prodding and poking, until Edila grunted in satisfaction. She is still bruised, but she heals quickly; more quickly than the unguents I applied can account for. She is fit enough to withstand any question you might put to her.
Might I be allowed my clothes before such questioning begins? Shailaja asked, once again clutching the blanket to her.
Oh very well, Narahan conceded. Condila, get her some sort of robe or nightdress.
Yes, my lord, the serving girl replied. For some reason she had remained to witness all of the proceedings up until this point.
Oh, Narahan exclaimed, apparently having an afterthought. And bring a jug of spahr and two glasses.
Questioning, Edila snorted. I can see you intend to get a lot out of her.
Thank you, Edila, Narahan smiled. You may go now. I will send for you again when I need your services.
Yes, my lord, the old woman grumped.
For a few heartbeats Narahan and Shailaja were alone, but he said nothing, in spite of the fact that he never took his eyes from her. For her part she stared straight ahead wondering what form this questioning was going to take. Eventually Condila returned, bearing a long, pale blue robe that almost seemed as if it had been designed to fit Shailajas long-limbed form. She also brought, as requested, a brown clay bottle and two cups, which she set within reach of Narahan.
Narahan thanked the girl and then waved her away, telling her to close the door behind her. He then poured two cups of spahr and handed one to Shailaja. Now, he said, sipping his spahr, I want your story; all of it.
Glad of a chance to finally tell what really happened, Shailaja began to talk, sipping cautiously at the spahr as she did so. She was careful not to drink too much, remembering what had happened on previous occasions. Narahan sat quietly, listening with interest, his handsome features composed, but occasionally raising an eyebrow or frowning at part of her story. When she finished he nodded knowingly. I know of the Brothers Belehm, and I am inclined to believe what you have told me regarding them. However, I wish to know all of your story, not just the part you have chosen to tell me.
I do not know what you mean, Shailaja answered. I have told everything truthfully.
Oh, Narahan replied, a half smile on his face. You have not told me what a lone Kaltaran warrior of rather tender years was doing in the high passes of the Mountains of the Storms, nor have you given me your lineage as is customary among Kaltaran warriors.
My business is my own, Shailaja stated, tilting her chin upward. I need answer to no one.
Then you will remain here at my convenience and the questioning will continue, Narahan replied, seemingly unconcerned by her refusal. But not now. For now you rest. We will meet again later.
He got to his feet and with a mock bow, left the room, leaving Shailaja to think about his further questioning. However, she did not think about it for too long. Narahan had gauged correctly that her narration had tired her, and she soon fell into deep sleep.
When she awoke for the second time it was night and the room was illuminated by a single candle. Apparently she had slept so soundly that she had not heard the person who had placed it in the room, a fact that attested to just how tired she had been. She awoke hungry and did not have to wait long before Condila showed up. The girl took the candle and lit several more, chasing most of the dark from the room. The Warden says you are to be given supper and then bathed. I am here to help if you need it.
I need no help to bathe, thank you, Shailaja replied, somewhat put out that the girl would think her so weak. She was a Kaltaran warrior. Even a severe beating could not put her down for long.
Before the bath, however, she was brought food; more than before, and she put it away in good order, washing it all down with a mug of brown ale. Then she waited while Condila brought bucket after bucket of hot water into the room and filled a large wooden tub.
Shailaja was annoyed that Narahan had not thought to remove the shackle from her ankle, however, in spite of the fact that she was still rather stiff and sore she made the tub without difficulty and gave herself a good bath. Condila insisted on helping her, and finally she gave up trying to shoo the girl away. Shailaja had to admit that she was most useful in the washing and combing of her long hair. She then donned the robe and crawled back into bed while Condila did away with the bath water.
Shailaja was, not surprisingly, not the least bit tired after her long nap, and sat in the bed wondering what to do with her time. She neednt have worried, however, as Narahan had her evening all planned out.
As soon as Condila had finished removing the bath water, primarily by throwing it out of the window, and had left the room, Narahan reappeared. He was carrying a small cloth bag that clinked as he set it on the floor. It was a suspicious and to Shailaja a rather ominous sound, but she said nothing, waiting to see what was to transpire.
Have you reconsidered your desire to reveal nothing of your origins? Narahan asked.
I see no reason to discuss anything that does not pertain to the circumstances of my imprisonment, Shailaja answered. Now that they were once again alone, Narahans presence seemed to fill the room and she could not help but wonder what it would be like to have him close to her.
She immediately berated herself for such a thought; she had been subjected enough to men in the last half moon, and in spite of the fact that she sensed Narahan was not like the others, he was still a man and subject to a mans compulsions.
He was also the Warden of Fellem and as such an agent of the Hasta; and even though her parents had been war leaders the fact that they had been removed from office cancelled any advantage that might give her.
No matter, Narahan replied. I think I prefer questioning you anyway. Rising, he went to the open window and closed the heavy wooden shutters.
It was an innocent enough act, but it closed them off from the outside. Any loud noise, such as a scream would not carry much farther than the room they were in.
As he returned from the window the door opened and Condila entered once more. She was carrying a flask of spahr and two mugs which she set on the table. Narahan nodded his thanks and then filled the cups as she left. Strong stuff, this, he said as he tipped his cup. But I have grown to like it.
Shailaja sipped as well; but more cautiously as had become her habit. Narahan refilled his cup and then drained it before getting to his feet. Now to the matter at hand, he said, picking up the bag he had set on the floor.
He placed it on the bottom of the bed and reached into it. Not particularly to Shailajas surprise he removed a second shackle attached to a length of chain. Already shackled by one ankle, she was hardly surprised that she was now to be shackled by two. However, she was not prepared to submit without a fight.
It will do you little good to resist, Narahan warned. But if it will make you feel better you are free to try.
Her position was not particularly well suited to resistance, but she tried. She tossed aside the blanket and placed her feet on the floor. Limited by the chain on her ankle, she was forced to stay where she was and wait for Narahan to attack. Narahan, however, was not prepared to give her a chance to fight. Going to his knees he found the end of the chain that held her ankle. He tugged it tight, drawing her ankle toward the edge of the bed and holding her there, unable to move more than her upper body.
This is hardly the way to offer battle to a warrior, Shailaja snarled.
I see no warrior, Narahan chuckled. Just a pretty girl in a robe awaiting my pleasure.
Shailaja wanted to rage at him, tell him that she was the daughter of the War Leaders of Kaltara, but that was precisely what she wanted to keep secret, and so she prepared to fight him off as best she could.
Grinning, Narahan circled her, keeping just out of reach, knowing that she could not move from where she stood. She was not aware of his intentions until it was too late. Reaching the head of the bed he snagged the blanket she had tossed aside, and stepping quickly toward her tossed it over her head in an attempt to entangle her in its folds.
Instinctively she raised her arms to fend it off and he came in under it, using his weight to bear her back across the bed. She fought to free herself, but he had one more trick for which she was not prepared. She had raised her right leg, bent at the knee to keep him from pinning her to the bed. It was just what he was waiting for. Before she even guessed his intentions he seized the lower part of her robe and pulled it up, baring the lower part of her body and enclosing her arms and torso in its folds.
She struggled desperately against his strength, but for one of the few times in her young life Shailaja had met someone stronger than she was. He held her down, keeping the lower part of the robe wrapped tightly about her upper body so that she could not strike out with her arms and fists. Tangled as she was in her robe, she could not see what he was doing, but she could hear the clink of metal and heaved at him with all of her strength in an attempt to lift him off her. However, he simply leaned harder into her and let her struggle until her efforts weakened from exhaustion. Then he shifted his weight so that both her arms were pinned under his knees. Try as she might Shailaja could not shift him from this position, even when her movements became frenzied as she felt his hand grip her right wrist and apply the metal to it. There was a sharp click as the manacle closed and that was all there was to it. Narahan was quickly off the bed, his hand holding the chain connected to the shackle that now enclosed her wrist. While she raged in a frantic effort to escape, he pulled it tight and secured it to the right hand corner of the bed. With her left ankle already shackled, it was but the work of a few heartbeats to chain her other wrist and ankle, leaving her limbs secured to the four corners of the bed.
Spread out like a victim on a sacrificial altar Shailaja glared up at Narahan, her arms and legs still straining at the chains. So you have me, she growled. I hope that you are pleased with your prowess as a warrior. Had I not already been chained it would have been a different matter.
Perhaps, Narahan conceded. Just remember that I too am a warrior of some experience. But it was not my intention to challenge you to combat, but to question you further as to your origins. I think you are hiding something and I am going to find out what it is.
Is this how you carry out an interrogation? Shailaja asked. By chaining me to a bed?
Would you prefer I used the techniques employed by Yagos? Narahan answered, an infuriating smile plastered on his face as his eyes swept over her struggling body.
Shailaja was as angry with herself as she was with him. Even with one ankle shackled she should have put up a better fight than she had. She was heartily sick of never being allowed a fair fight.
You are a coward, she cried. Release me and face me with a sword.
Now why would I do that? Narahan asked. We are both trained warriors. It would be a shame for us to hack away at one another and perhaps cause serious injuries; especially to a body such as yours.
My body? she shouted. Why is it always my body that is so important?
A foolish question, Narahan laughed. You are undeniably the most luscious plum to fall into this village in decades, and the first one to match me in size.
Narahan had placed his hands on the robe she wore as he spoke. It was still hiked uncomfortably high on her body, leaving everything below the waist exposed, however, in a few heartbeats that ceased to matter. There was a ripping of seams and the robe was torn from her body leaving her in her usual state when at the mercy of a man.
It was not a particularly uncomfortable captivity. The bed was soft beneath her and all of the shackles were padded, but it was captivity, nevertheless. Even that fact that Narahan was a most handsome captor could not diminish the unease Shailaja felt at being so completely at his mercy. She lay watching him, her chest heaving from exertion, and her body covered in sweat, wondering what sort of torment he had planned for her.
Such perfection, Narahan crooned, placing his fingers on her right arm. I do not think I have ever beheld a woman so beautifully muscled. His fingers moved upward, tracing the curve of her biceps until he reached her shoulder, and then he caressed her collarbone, ending up at the pulse in her throat. Her flesh quivered under his touch, but whether in anticipation or aversion she knew not. Her mind was filled with confusion. Once again, as with the first time she had been bound by the Brothers Belehm, her body was reacting in a manner most unexpected.
So beautiful, so strong, so untamed, Narahan mused as his fingers stroked her jaw and then gently caressed her cheek before moving to her other collarbone. Her body warmed under his touch, the familiar flush stealing down her neck and shoulders to her breasts and belly. Without stimulation, her nipples hardened, presenting themselves likes sentries for his touch.
What do you want of me? Shailaja demanded, hoarsely.
Answers, Narahan replied softly, bending low so that his mouth was just a hands breadth from her ear. But I am in no hurry to receive them.
His fingers were now describing a slow line from where her collarbones met to the hollow between her breasts. She could hardly contain herself, her body arching upward as he began to move his fingers in a slow figure eight around and between her breasts. A low moan came from her lips as he gradually closed the loops of the double circle, easing gradually closer to her throbbing nipples.
Stop, she gasped, sweat beading her forehead and dripping stingingly into her eyes. She shook her head as if in agony.
Stop? Narahan questioned. Your body does not seem to want me to stop. Indeed, it gives all the signs of wanting more.
Cease tormenting me like this. It is not seemly to treat a maiden so.
A maiden? Narahan chuckled, By your own admission the Brothers Belehm relieved you of the burden of your maidenhood. However, I suspect that much of what has been done to you has brought you little pleasure. I intend to remedy that oversight.
No, Shailaja whimpered. Please do not make me beg. Ask me what you want to know.
His answer was to bend his head to her left breast and gently take her nipple between his lips and teeth. She cried out like a cat that has been scalded arching her body in anticipation.
You have been badly used, Narahan said. If the Brothers Belehm ever return you can be assured that they will be most severely punished. I regret that I cannot deal with Yagos and the members of the town guard in a similar manner, but I need them in my duties as Warden of Fellem, and in spite of their brutality they probably thought that they were doing their duty.
His mouth moved to her other nipple, leaving the first begging for more and stirring the second to throbbing arousal. Please, Shailaja moaned, I can bear little more of this.
Narahan raised his head and then traced a line of kisses from her nipples to the centre of her breasts and down her belly to her navel before replying. On the contrary, you have a great capacity for such treatment. You have simply never been shown how to use it properly.
Each kiss was like a drop of molten lead upon her skin and when his tongue dipped into the hollow of her navel she screamed like a girl. She had hardly been touched and yet her body burned; her loins afire with a heat that could only be cooled by the use of a man.
Marana help me, she gasped. She wanted more, much more, but dared not give in to the powerful urges that were surging through her. And then the matter was taken out of her hands.
Narahan shifted lower, climbing onto the bed fully clothed, his knees on the insides of her thighs. Using both hands he squeezed and fondled her breasts, each touch pushing her closer to the cliff of desire. Slowly he swept his hands down the length of her body, and then over her belly and tantalizingly close to her centre of passion, until he reached her knees. Then he reversed direction, stroking the inside of her thighs while she whimpered and moaned, her thighs parting as far as the shackles would allow. Higher and higher he moved until his fingers were brushing the flame-red bush of her womanhood and she was almost ready to scream, and then just as the cry rose in her throat he retreated, moving back to her thighs. She moaned in frustration.
This is better than the other times, is it not? Narahan grinned. He seemed amused at the excitement he had aroused in Shailajas helpless body.
Through clenched teeth she managed a reply, but it was not the one he expected. It is sheer torment, she gasped. Why do you treat me so? I have told you everything of importance.
You know what I want to hear, Narahan replied, and before I am through you will beg me to hear it.
He moved his fingers higher once more, each touch increasing her state of arousal to fever pitch. She twisted her body, body trying both to avoid and encourage his touch. Her chest heaved, her breasts quivering and her nipples like ripe berries. And then his hands lifted and he lowered his mouth to her swollen petals.
Shailaja screamed, a loud moaning cry, and heaved against her restraints. Her resistance broke and she arched upward, her body begging Narahan to take her.
His tongue slid between her petals, seeking the warm juices of Selenes Grotto and her voice joined the urging of her body. Take me, she gasped. Take me now.
Narahan seemed deaf to her words. His tongue pierced her defences like a lance and then his lips moved higher to the swollen berry at the apex of her petals.
Marana save me, she screamed. Please end this torment. Take me now.
But Narahan was not nearly through with her. Ignoring her frantic pleas and the heaving of her sweat-soaked body, he continued to lick, suck and stroke her to a height of arousal beyond anything Shailaja had ever experienced or ever imagined. It was an erotic nightmare, promising a state of sensual bliss that was constantly refused. Again and again Narahan brought her to the edge and then held back just enough to leave her shuddering in unfulfilled passion.
Narahan, she shrieked. Please end my torment. I want you now.
You will have me, he answered, lifting his head from her burning loins, when you have told me what I wish to know.
Shailaja sobbed in frustration. I will tell you, she gasped, only end this agony. She blurted out her story, the words pouring out of her in such a rush that Narahan insisted she begin again. Gritting her teeth she told him what he wanted to know, her ardour slowly dying with each word and leaving her exhausted and frustrated. Finally, she lay upon the bed, the sweat drying upon her body and her passion seemingly spent. But Narahan had other ideas about that as well.
Narahan had retired to his chair when she had begun her story and he now leaned forward, his blue eyes fixed on her green gaze. I see why you held back telling me of your reasons for hazarding the Mountains of Storms, he mused. It would be well worth my while to return you to the Hasta. It might even be a way out of this pisshole of a town that I find myself in.
However, he added, catching the look of anger in her eyes, I could never see my way clear to forcing a Kaltaran warrior to stand trial for defending her honour, much less against a Prithian. When you are fully rested you will be free to leave.
On the morrow then? she asked.
Perhaps not quite
that soon, Narahan replied.
I suspect tomorrow will see you not recovered from your visit
to the fair
I feel well enough now, Shailaja protested heatedly. The rage she felt for what Narahan had done to her seethed just below the surface, but she held herself in check for fear that he would go back on his word.
I think, Narahan grinned, that before the light of dawn is seen, you will be considerably more tired. As he finished speaking he pulled off his boots and then began to untie the laces on his shirt. I said you would have me and so you will.
To Shailajas surprise she felt the familiar stirring in her loins. She had thought herself spent after what Narahan had put her through, but the rapid recovery of her state of arousal showed me that she had vastly underestimated the depth of her passion. Unable to move from the bed, she watched in mounting excitement as Narahan slowly undressed.
His body was every bit as impressive as she had imagined it. He tossed his shirt aside to reveal broad shoulders and long, heavily muscled arms. His chest was deep and covered with thick, light-blond hair and his belly was flat and muscular. Without thinking she licked her lips as her mind filled with the image of that powerful body next to hers and the thought of it moving against her. And then he removed his trousers.
Although she was not to know it at the time, in all of her travels and adventures; Shailaja was to see few men who would rival Narahan. Her eyes widened and her breathing quickened, her body once again flushing with heat as she imagined what it would be like to have his member within her. She bent her knees as far as her chains allowed, pushing them apart in welcome, but she was not to be seen to without further frustration.
I see you are ready, Narahan teased, but I am not. First you must do for me what Velag feared to have you do for him.
What is that? Shailaja gasped, hardly able to believe that she was to be denied once more.
I have learned that you have marvellously sharp teeth, he grinned. But you also have a mouth that promises much sweetness. Before I see to you, you must first see to me.
By now Narahan had finished undressing and had climbed onto the bed. He loomed over her, his magnificent body so close she could feel the warmth radiating from him. He straddled her, his knees on either side of her waist, and his hands on either side of her head. He lowered himself to her, just enough that their bodies touched, but his full weight still held above her. Shailajas excitement once again rising to a fever pitch, she could deny him nothing, and he lowered his head to hers, taking her lips in his.
This time there was no thought of biting. She gave him what he desired, a full and all consuming kiss in which time stood still, until they were forced to break for air. He kissed her again, their lips and tongues meshing in sweet passion, a passion heightened by the touch of his swelling member against her thigh. She arched upward slightly, even in the middle of the kiss, inviting him to take her and he did, but not at first in the way she had envisioned.
He suddenly rose from her body and quickly reversing himself, positioned his body so that his magnificent manhood lay before her, barely a hands breadth from her face. His strong male scent overwhelmed her senses, filling her with a desire so powerful she could do nothing to stop what she did next.
Without the slightest thought as to what she was doing she took him into her mouth just as his lips and tongue once again found the sweet entrance of Selenes Grotto. It was no easy thing to accommodate a man of his size, and she wished to have her hands free, but that was something Narahan had not yet allowed her, so she took him as best she could, her own lips and tongue working what magic they could.
A gasp of pleasure told her that she had achieved at least some success, even as a cry escaped her lips as once again Narahan slipped his tongue between the folds of her petals. They remained thus for a time, each giving the other pleasure, but not complete fulfillment, until with a groan, Narahan lifted himself from her. Now my Kaltaran warrior, he said, I will give you that which you have so much desired.
His heavy breathing told her that it was not her desire alone that he sought to please, but she was not about to argue the point. Within a few heartbeats he had positioned himself between her thighs and in less time than that he thrust into her.
There was no need for delay. Shailajas juices were flowing freely and he penetrated her with only slight difficulty, at least at first. She had seen no man to rival Narahan in the magnificence of his maleness, and even though she was now far from a blushing maiden, he did not take her easily or without some pain. However, such mattered little to Shailaja. She cried out in a manner than must have carried easily beyond the heavy wooden door of the room as well as past the thick shutters of the window. But it was a cry of pleasure and delight that escaped her lips, not one of pain, and she lifted her hips that she might receive him better, welcoming him as he drove into her again and again until she had received him fully.
Shailaja knew that she would, as Narahan had promised, be considerably more tired on the morrow than she had thought and considerably sorer as well, but she cared not. Indeed, the pain he caused her was so greatly eclipsed by the pleasure of their coupling that she was hardly aware of it until much later; and even then she would have gladly endured much more in order to receive such enjoyment.
Bound and helpless beneath a man she experienced something that she could not quite describe. Some women, would doubt have found such a situation uncomfortable or even terrifying, but for her it only enhanced the experience. It was that very circumstance that no doubt triggered the state of arousal within her when she had first taken by Cleron and then by the Belehm Brothers. It is something was she could not explain except to speculate that it was the feeling of utter helplessness that was engendered by such an arrangement, or the knowledge that she was at the absolute mercy of the man who was taking her. Whatever the reason the time Narahan took her was one of the most memorable of experiences, as her moans, cries, and gasps made all too obvious. It was equally remarkable later as well, after he removed the shackles and they used one another with an enthusiasm that was undiminished despite the absence of restraints.
Morning found them tangled in the blanket of the bed, and tangled with one another as well. Not surprisingly, Shailajas hip-length hair had managed to ensnare Narahan and it took a few moments for him to extricate himself, but not without some painful jerking on her scalp. However, it was a minor pain compared to the ache between her thighs. Narahan had used her thoroughly and well, and her body was letting her know it. However, she was well satisfied. She regarded the free use of her body the second time Narahan had taken her as being her first time, as it had been the only time she had been taken without being bound or held down. Thus she regarded the throbbing pain almost fondly.
Narahan rolled onto his side and regarded her tenderly. I do not suppose I could convince you to remain in Fellem a while longer?
Why, was my questioning not satisfactory? Shailaja answered, propping herself up on her elbow.
More than satisfactory, he answered, stroking her hair. You are the first woman since I left Kaltara who has been able to walk the next morning, not to mention that we made love a second time.
I havent tried walking yet, Shailaja answered, grimacing a little as she shifted her position on the bed.
Im sure you will manage, smiled Narahan. He slid off the bed and began to dress. I have a few things to see to, but I will see that breakfast and your clothes are sent to you. I expect you would like a bath as well. I will be back shortly.
Shailaja nodded and got to her feet as soon as he left. She grunted as she did so. Every movement hurt a little, but she regretted nothing of what had happened between Narahan and her. His offer was tempting, but she could not be sure that she was not pursued. Fellem was remote from most places, but it was still only about a months journey from Lorholm. Sooner or later word might reach the Grand Council that a red-headed female warrior was living with the Warden of Fellem and she would be discovered. Besides, attractive as Narahan was, she had no wish to spend the rest of her life or even a few years of it in such a nondescript rural backwater. There was a whole world beyond Kaltara she had heard about but never seen. If she was going to accept self-imposed exile she intended to see as much of it as she could.
Breakfast came as Narahan had promised, and then the bath and her clothing. She dressed and with Condilas help combed out and braided her hair. She noted that two items she regarded as hers were not included with her clothing and wondered about what might have happened to them. She determined to take it up with Narahan as soon as she saw him.
Her sword was the last item she put in place. With it slung over her shoulder she felt like a warrior once again and decided to see what had become of Narahan. She exited the room, which as she had guessed, was on the second floor of the House of the Warden. She found the stairs and made her way to the entrance hall and then out onto the porch. She saw one or two individuals who looked like servants, but no one made any attempt to stop her and she stepped outside and surveyed the village.
Coming toward her was Narahan, leading a horse and a mule. The mule appeared to be loaded with all of her gear and the horse was saddled and ready. Narahan gazed up at her. I suspected you would not change your mind, and so I took the liberty of selecting a mount and a pack mule for you. They should get you to Svend. After that it is up to you where you go.
He left the two animals with one of the several villagers who had followed through the streets. Climbing the steps of the porch he held out the two items she had meant to ask about. If you wish to remain anonymous I suggest you keep these hidden. They bear your clan crest.
Shailaja stared at her dagger and the medallion that had been given to her by her parents. She suddenly felt foolish and a little outraged. So you knew all along who I was. Why then did you go to all the trouble of ? Chagrined, she flushed deeply.
Narahan grinned widely. I was convinced of your innocence the moment I set eyes upon you as I had the fortune to meet with a farmer called Gorb. He and his family told me of how they had been saved by a red-headed warrior and I knew that one who would go out of her way to help a family she did not even know was not capable of murder. However, the opportunity to question one such as you comes only once in a lifetime. It is something I will remember during the cold months of winter.
Her anger dying, Shailaja returned his grin. It is something I will remember as well. Perhaps one day we will meet again.
She stepped down from the porch and took the reins of the horse. Narahan had chosen well. It was a tall animal, although not as tall as the one he rode, but it would do for her journey to the coast. She swung into the saddle, hiding the discomfort the movement caused. There was no thought of a sentimental goodbye. She had known Narahan only a single night. Perhaps if they met again .
She put that thought from her mind. Raising her hand she gave a brief wave and then turned toward the gates. Without a backward glance she rode from the town.