Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A More Intimate War: Part 1

Ulrika sighed as the candle's flame whipped away from the wick to dance between her fingers. A small courtesy, that one candle, perhaps left only that she might examine the heavy, cast-iron chains containing her with in the tent. Wide bands of metal decorated her wrists and ankles, a line of fat links leading to a stout, but short, post that had been driven into the ground near the back of the triangular tent.

It was a fine tent. The crossed poles comprising the triangular frames on either end were sturdy and delicately carved. The cross beam that rested atop them and ran the length of the tent was also well made. She had seen the heavy canvas draped over it, which was dyed in wide blue and white stripes. The walls on the inside were draped with pelts to repel the chill of these northern lands.

Ulrika found herself somewhat amused at her presence in this tent, shackled to a veritable stump.  Not that she couldn't easily burn the stump with the tendril of flame she twirled around her finger tips, but the chains were still heavy, and she was not quite yet recovered from her injuries. In any case, her strength, while once great enough to wield a seax with formidable force, was still not great enough that thick iron shackles would not prove an impediment in escape. And it would take much more effort to melt the chain than to burn the stump. Effort she did not have to spare.

Slowly, carefully, she crawled to lean her back against the solid mass of the post and continued playing with the fire.

"I see the iron serves its purpose well."

Ulrika looked up at her captor as he entered the tent. "So it would seem," she said, letting the fire snake up her arm like a golden armlet.

"I am glad to see that my tent has not been reduced to ashes."

Ulrika tossed her head to throw a lock of dark blonde hair out of her face. "I am not overly fond of useless effort. A burned tent would not lend me escape. Besides," she said, letting the fire fall back into her palm, "despite what you think, I have never held any degree of malice toward you." She tilted her head. "Or your father, for that matter."

"Your actions would prove otherwise."

Ulrika regarded Sundar for a moment. He had grown, for sure. The slenderness of youth had abandoned him for the thickly muscled flesh of a northern warrior. His golden hair had been made paler by the sun, his skin reddened by frosty wind. Whiskers of a darker hue had finally deigned to adorn his jaw, now strongly squared with manhood. He was not an unattractive man, though covered in scars and a bearing a slightly crooked nose made so by a number of breaks. Ulrika imagined that he likely snored with great fervor.

"You have swallowed the boy you once were, but you still see with the ignorance of a child."

He stepped forward, catching the chain that ran between her manacles and hauled her to her feet before him. The flame fell from her hand to die on the floor of the tent. He gently pushed another tendril of hair away from her face, before threading his fingers through the honey-colored mass and giving it a sharp tug.

"Oh, I promise, little firefly, I see quite clearly with the eyes of a man. How long was I in that hole you abandoned me in?"

Ulrika paused for a moment, as if she had to struggle a bit to remember. "Three days. Your father took a bit longer than I anticipated, but, I suppose he was testing my resolve." She shrugged.

"Your resolve to let me rot?"

Ulrika rolled her eyes. "You are the son of a king. Surely you comprehend the political machinations of rulers."

His grip tightened on her hair. "You left me in a hole little bigger than myself without food or water."

"For three days. A paltry torture at best. If that is all you have ever suffered, count yourself among the fortunate. When you've had your leg broken by a war hammer, and then been raped and beaten by a camp of soldiers for more than a year, then your complaints might find a sympathetic ear. As it stands, three days in an oubliette means nothing."

His grip slackened. "It meant something to me."

She sighed. "It was a show for your father. Nothing more. He had to believe I would truly take your life."

"So I was a pawn."

Ulrika snorted. "We were all pawns. How do you think war works, princeling?"

He slapped her. Ulrika laughed.

He shook her a bit. "I know that this is a war that I have won."

Ulrika lifted a condescending brow. "You captured and chained a crippled woman. I would hardly call that a prestigious victory."

He turned away from her and began to shed the furs from his shoulders. "I see your sufferings have not served to humble you in any way."

She shrugged. "I have long since given up on concern for myself. Do what you will, Nord."

Sundar stared at her a moment. "You fear neither rape nor violence?"

Ulrika sat upon the stump, letting the chain of the manacles hang between her knees. "Fear has proven a rather useless emotion to me. Besides, I have served an empire that would call itself civilized. I much prefer the wild aggression of the Barbar."

He frowned. "So you enjoyed that violence?"

"Nein, but I find myself strangely accustomed to it." She sighed. "Men are disappointingly predicitable."

Sundar straightened, as if struck by some revelation. "Perhaps you will find me less so." He knelt before her and snapped open the chains with the key he took from around his neck. They fell to the floor in a heavy pile.

"Lost the appetite for revenge, Nord?" she said, rubbing her wrists.

He lifted her easily off of the post and planted her back on the furs that lined the floor of the tent. "Nein. You once held me prisoner. Made me feel vulnerable. I simply plan to do the same. Although, I anticipate that your captivity will last far longer than three days."

She laughed again. It was a bitter sound. "See? Predictable."

He reached for her and drew open the tie that held closed the shift she wore. Gently, he pushed the woolen fabric to the side, watching it fall from her shoulders. Her breasts were pale like the rest of her, neither large nor small, just as she was neither large nor small. Bluish bruises dappled her chest. He brushed them lightly with his fingertips.

"You like them?" she said, flippantly. "I have more."

He pushed on one. She closed her eyes for a brief moment, but didn't otherwise acknowledge the pain. Slowly, gradually, she felt a cold sensation leave his fingertip to nestle itself inside the bruise, numbing it. Then his hands were on her, smoothing over the bruises, filling them with ice from within. He lifted her, pulling the shift away to get at the ones still hidden by cloth. She looked up at him, a bit confused. She felt strangely cold, yet the soreness was gone.

"Still predictable, Saxon?" he said, drawing a hand down from her throat between her breasts to rest low on her belly.


His hand ventured lower to just brush her sex before he sat up suddenly and plucked a piece of cheese from the plate sitting on a chest near them. He held it out to her.

Perplexed, she took it.

"Eat." He commanded. "I intend to finish the war you started at that fort with the oubliette. And I intend to win."

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked


  1. Oh I sure hope this continues. He seems to have magic hands and I would love to read what else he can do with them.

    Rebel xox

    1. I think this is one I may actually continue. It's part of an old novel concept I abandoned because I wasn't familiar enough with military practices to pull off the original concept. I think I can get away with it here. lol

  2. I have to admit- I was spell-bound!

  3. I have quite a few unfinished works that I really should revisit... you have inspired me to go back and look


    1. Yeah, I have my own bin of lost ideas. I need to get off my butt and finish my novel first, though. But, at least, doing these keeps my metaphorical pen sharp. lol