Lord Kesin liked Thornwall. The villagers were both kind and pliable, and the daughters, though it had been long since one had ridden the horse shamefully enough that he must take her away, weeping, in the wagon, always seemed lovelier than the daughters of the other two villages of Castle Jey’s demesnes.
Perhaps the kindness and the pliability, together with the tininess of the place, fooled him into thinking the girls lovelier than they were, but certainly today there was no question, two of these girls, the smith’s daughter and the farmer’s daughter, excited his fancy most extremely.
Of course neither he nor Sirs Bomen and Prentos would be able to pursue an interest in any of them, unless she rode the horse shamefully, so that the wantonness in her cunt appeared in her conduct upon it, under the lash. Over the years, however, Lord Kesin had grown very accustomed to getting his enjoyment simply from the ceremony itself, which provided a kind of piquant foil to life at the castle.
A knight’s life at Castle Jey could grow monotonous, though Kesin never lost sight of the truth that any man in the realm—when fully informed as to the true nature of the mysteries of the castle-service—would change places with him in an instant, to have the pick of the castle girls after his lord’s choice, and to have them all at his beck and call, represented a lot even more enviable, Kesin often thought, than that of Lord Jetal himself.
For Lord Jetal had the realm, and Jey’s place in it, to worry over, and he got far less time with the castle girls than any of his knights did. As a marcher lord, too, the honor he received from the king in Swethil was great, but the price of it was much more vigilance against the realm’s great foe, whose desolate lands began just on the other side of the thornwall, and all the worry that came with that vigilance. True, that foe had not been seen in the six hundred years since Sage Hazeran made the thornwall grow, but the king demanded—as he should—that the barrier should be closely watched.
Kesin sighed, watching the miller’s twin daughters protest against their mother’s increasingly strident commands that they strip themselves naked. None of them—not the mothers, and especially not the daughters—had any idea how the thornwall had come to be, and the true role that Horseday played in the defense of their homes from the foe who they had been brought up to believe would burn this little village to the ground in an hour if they did not participate in this strange ritual. The spirit-brothers and spirit-sisters told them that wicked girls were the source of the foe’s power, and so they let Lord Kesin and his knights take those wicked girls away in the covered wagon, when he detected their wickedness.
“Girls,” Kesin said, “I know it is difficult for you, having been brought up so very properly.” He saw Mistress Yorin puff herself up at that. You always had to have the mother on your side. “But, as your mother tells you, it will be over quickly. Please do not force me to instruct your mother to discipline you.”
Kesin could see that Mistress Yorin kept a well-disciplined house, for with an apprehensive glance back at her—she had folded her arms across the bosom of what must be her finest sky-blue gown, as if to confirm what the lord steward had said—they turned to one another, and began to unlace.
The twins stood naked in a short while, having helped each other off with their shifts, very charmingly Kesin thought. They did not possess the charms of their agemates—could Kesin truly make out the pout of little Hala’s secret lips, through her blonde nether tresses?—but they nevertheless upheld what he thought of as the Thornwall tradition of beauty.
And of course these girls still had their full innocence in the sight of the spirits, something the girls of the castle, though their shame and their blushes course continued, necessarily lost at their first mastering. Would any of these Thornwall girls be part of the next chambering-service? He had one girl in the covered wagon, out of the twenty he had tested between Horseford and Highhill. At least one more would be required to make Lord Jetal feel secure when he thought of the coming year. Two of the castle girls would go for sisters of the spirits this Risingday. They had earned their retirement to the halls of the sisters, just like the warriors who had once, made mighty by the burning, wicked desires of the girls’ cunts, done great deeds in the border skirmishes to the west.
Once Norin and Larin had stripped—twins always gave Kesin such pleasure in the looking, even if these black-haired, skinny girls weren’t quite as beautiful as the two who stood behind them—the girls all obediently stepped to the side of the platform, to form the queue Kesin had requested. Once they stood looking expectantly at him, their blushes beginning to fade as it became somehow quite usual to be naked on the village green in the presence of three knights from the castle, Kesin began.
He had been steward for seven years now, so he supposed he was delivering this speech for the twenty-first time. He could declaim it in his sleep, he imagined, but he had never lost his consciousness that every time he gave it his principal audience were girls who had never heard it before. The speech had its dramatic moments, and its mysterious moments, and it prepared them for a ritual unlike any other they would ever know in their lives—unless, of course, they should ride the horse in such a way that they must go into the wagon.
“Today, girls, you will learn the secret that keeps your homes here in Thornwall safe, like the homes of all the villagers of County Jey, and of every villager throughout the realm. Here in Thornwall you have a special reason to be thankful for this secret, because the thornwall itself, under the shadow of which you live…”
Kesin had a different reason for each village to be thankful for the secret of Sage Hazeran’s castle-service: in Horseford, that secret kept the river from rising to flood the village; in Highhill, the secret kept the fodder growing for the sheep to graze upon. He couldn’t help feeling that Thornwall’s reason for gratitude was the greatest of the three.
“That barrier—this barrier…” Here Kesin gestured dramatically behind him, at the thornwall, high and luminously green in the verdure of late spring, only a hint of the flowers that would soon cover it peeping out now, and no sign at all of the bright red berries that would succeed those flowers. “…grows beyond the power of other planted things. You know this, girls, though perhaps no one has ever told it to you. Year after year, it grows high, and full, and no one tends it.”
He looked at the naked girls meaningfully, and saw puzzlement break out onto their faces. They had never considered it before. Did the farmer’s daughter’s face have a slightly less confused expression? Had she perhaps discovered her wanton fire already? It happened sometimes, with the most powerful girls.
“Your thornwall grows thus, and the river keeps its banks, and the hills are covered with fodder, all beyond these things’ ordinary natures, through the power of Castle Jey to keep at bay the shameful desires of girls that the demons place inside their bodies: the wicked, lustful desires at which the spirits take offense, and which would make the foe who dwell on the other side of the thornwall strong enough to chop it down.”
Kesin looked at the mothers, who were smiling—all but the farmer’s wife. Yes, the girl must have discovered her wantonness! Now Kesin had the urge to rush through the rest of the ceremony. How wanton was she if her mother was so anxious that she would be taken in the covered wagon? For only such a knowledge—awareness of a very lewd daughter—could explain, Kesin thought, the terribly worried expression on the woman’s face. She knew her daughter—Hala, was that the name?—would ride very shamefully.
“The power of Castle Jey,” Kesin continued, forcing himself to speak as slowly as he always did, “comes from doing as Sage Hazeran taught us to do: taking girls who have these shameful desires away, and keeping them at the castle, where they may be properly cared for, and properly punished, as they serve the will of the spirits, until at last the spirits free them from their wantonness.”
Now frank astonishment appeared on all the girls’ faces—all but Hala’s.
“The spirits have ordained that all women have some lustful thoughts,” Kesin said. “Most girls may live according to the teachings of Sage Fedan, who told of the fruitful relations of husband and wife. Only a very few girls, spirits be praised, have lustful thoughts so often, and so strongly, that they must be taken to the castle so that their lives may be turned to good purpose. We have come with the Lord’s Horse to discover whether any of you must go with us, in the covered wagon, to Castle Jey. If, as you ride the Lord’s Horse, the demons make you shame yourself, you will come with us, according to the rights of taking granted His Grandeur Lord Jetal by His Most Gracious Majesty King Suret, and deputed to me by His Honor Lord Jetal by writ of the lord’s hand subscribed by His Lordship the third day of this moon.”
Kesin paused, and looked from face to face of the girls and their mothers. The declaration of taking always made a space for the idea that one of them might have to leave her home to find its way deep inside their minds. It seemed strange to Kesin, but was clearly true nonetheless, that such an announcement, that the villagers lives were lived subject to the rights of their lord in the faraway castle, seemed to make them more pliable, rather than less. Something about the news that their lord himself had signed the writ, four days before, made the eyes of the girls, especially, go very wide.
“One by one,” Kesin said, “you will mount the horse. You need not know how to ride a real horse in order to ride the Lord’s Horse.” This was Kesin’s one moment of levity, and he always spoke it with a measure of kind jollity that the girls understood as intended to reassure them, and so they always did seem reassured.
Now he turned to face their little queue fully, and laid his hand upon the dark, polished wood of the horse’s back. “There is a sort of saddle here, you see, made of stout leather, and in front of the saddle the handles rise, a little like the reins of a real horse. The horse is low enough that you will be able to get over it, in a straddling position, and then lower yourself onto the saddle, as you hold the handles.”
“But…” Norin, the girl at the front of the queue said.
“Hush, child,” her mother remonstrated. “The lord steward is speaking! I rode, when I was eighteen!”
“Thank you, mistress,” Kesin said, “but it is alright. You must understand, from your own memories, how hard it was to be the first girl to ride.”
He had guessed, of course, that a woman who married the miller would have had the standing—just as her daughters now did—to be first upon the horse, but his wisdom hit home and Mistress Yorin blushed.
“Yes, my lord,” she said.
Kesin turned back to Norin. “Yes, girl,” he said, “the saddle will find out your most intimate places, and as you ride upon the horse, you will feel how your private part must yield to it. You will feel a strange, wicked pleasure that you may never have felt before. This pleasure may be slight, or it may be very great; only the spirits know, for they decreed in the hour of your birth whether or not you would be a lustful girl when you turned eighteen. You are to let that wickedness control your motions, although you will certainly, as a well-brought-up girl, feel shame to make such a display, as you should.”
“How can it be right?” asked Norin’s sister Larin, standing behind her. “Ma has told us that we must not touch ourselves there, or put anything there.”
“I venture to say,” Kesin replied, “that your ride will not give you very much pleasure, girl, and so it will not be very shameful. Do not be anxious. If you are the kind of wicked girl who must go to the castle, you will understand as you ride. In any case, your ride upon the horse has been commanded by His Grandeur Lord Jetal, through my person here in your village.” Or, Kesin’s thoughts finished silently, as he looked at the worried, knowing expression on Hala’s face, you may already understand all too well.
Kesin gestured to the knights, and they sheathed their swords. Bomen opened the chest and took out the leather strap, two feet long and two inches wide, with which he would test the girls as they rode. Prentos went to stand by the pedestal next to the horse, upon which a basin full of soapy water, and several towels, had been placed.
“You will ride until I declare that your trial has ended,” Kesin said. “That may be only a minute or two, or it may be longer, depending on what I observe. I may command Sir Bomen to whip you with the strap.”
The smith’s daughter gave a little cry of fright at that, and Kesin looked at her with as gentle a smile as he could muster. “He will not strike very hard, child. If you need the strap, you will understand why, when I command him to use it. But probably I will not command the strap at all.”
He turned back to Norin, as the first in the queue. “I will declare, when I am satisfied, whether you must go in the wagon to the castle. You will dismount, and Sir Prentos will give you a towel with which you may cleanse yourself. Sir Prentos himself will cleanse the saddle, and dry it, for the next girl. Do you understand?”
“I… I th-think so,” Norin said.
“Very well. Come up onto the platform and mount the horse then.”
Very hesitantly, the naked girl, her sizable breasts heaving rather alluringly and her hands clasped in front of her cunny, made her way up onto the wooden planks of the low structure. She crossed to the horse, and moved to get atop it, reaching out and down a little for the handles.
“L-like this?” she asked.
“Just like that, child,” Kesin said. “Now get your private part right over the saddle, and lower yourself onto it.”
He saw her knees tremble, and her chin quiver. Even with girls Kesin knew would never have a shameful ride, this moment always moved him greatly, and stirred his cock remarkably. Not that he would ever wish to ride such a girl himself, for a man like him, who knew dominion’s enchantment as well as any warrior in the realm, knew above all that the greatest pleasures lay not in forcing girls who could not feel submissive pleasure, but in mastering those who could feel their wanton fire to accept the cravings of their own bodies, which they could not have satisfied any other way.
Still, to watch a girl like Norin have to experience the little bit of the power of lewd desire she would feel upon the horse—to force that upon her and leave her in awe of the castle-service, like her mother, for the rest of her days—it certainly had its pleasant aspect.
“Oh!” Norin said, as she felt the hard leather of the saddle come up where she had perhaps never even explored with her fingers. “Oh! It’s… it’s so… hard, m-my lord.”
“Yes, child,” Kesin said patiently.
“And…” Now the blush which had begun in the cheeks of the miller’s daughter seemed to suffuse her entire face. “And it feels… oh, spirits…”
“Ride, now, Norin, miller’s daughter,” said Kesin solemnly.
Norin began to post up and down upon the saddle without further urging. Only very rarely did a girl have to be “started,” with the strap. Usually such girls had been brought up very strictly. Their mothers tended to be very surprised at how very shamefully they would ride, in general, after the strap had started them going. Indeed, many of them ended up in the wagon.
“Ooo,” Norin sighed, now. Kesin glanced in the direction of the queue. Larin was blushing for her twin sister, and clearly anticipating how she too would have to make the same display, in front of her agemates and all their mothers. The smith’s daughter also blushed, and seemed to be unable to decide whether to watch Norin’s ride or to cast her eyes down. She held her hands in front of her private part, which Kesin now noted had a rather thick covering of brown curls.
Hala, farmer’s daughter, on the other hand had gone white. Kesin felt certain that she could not help thinking of what it would be like, and how much more shameful a display she would make than Norin was making.
Kesin turned his eyes to the girl on the saddle. She rode in the way most girls rode, her eyes closed, biting her lower lip. She made the little cries Kesin knew so well. He could see, when she posted up, that her young cunt had begun to wet the leather, though not greatly.
“Faster, child,” Kesin said softly, so that only Norin could hear. “Remember that they cannot see what is happening to your cunny—how warm it grows, and how wet. They can only see you going up and down.”
This would be the end of Norin’s ride—those words would either uncover hidden capacity, or they would not.
They did not. Norin gave a little whimper at the images of herself that Kesin stirred in her imagination, but nothing else occurred. Kesin put his hand upon the girl’s shoulder, and said, “Alright, child, that is enough. You may dismount.”
Norin opened her eyes at his touch, and then her lips parted as if to say something like, “Oh, please, not yet.”
Kesin leaned down to murmur in her ear, as he did to the many girls who found themselves in this predicament—as, he imagined, Lord Hepow, his predecessor who had served thirty years as steward, must have whispered in her mother’s ear, “Your husband will have a fine ride, on your wedding night, and you shall ride, too.”
Norin’s eyes shone. She closed her mouth, and nodded. She rose from the horse on unsteady knees, the hot blush beginning to fade from her neck, and then her cheeks. Sir Prentos handed her a towel, as she backed off the wooden structure.
“You may go to the other side of the platform to cleanse yourself,” Kesin said, “and then rejoin your mother.”
Hala watched Larin climb atop the platform. Sir Prentos had stepped back after wiping down, and then drying, the saddle. The leather had glistened very visibly with Norin’s private moisture after she had arisen, and the sight itself had made Hala’s own wetness flow. How much more would it glisten with Hala’s? She remembered the way her arousal had seemed to gush into her hand when she had lewdly pleasured herself after the whipping at home.
Hala desperately wanted to ask Kera how she was doing, so that Kera would ask her back, and they could commiserate, and share the moment. But even if it were not clearly forbidden for the girls to speak, she felt certain that Kera’s feelings could not be at all like Hala’s. Kera might not be like Norin and Larin, but Hala could not imagine she would be like Hala herself.
Larin had settled on the saddle, and Lord Kesin said, “Ride now, Larin, miller’s daughter.”
As befit a twin, Larin’s ride seemed to follow almost exactly the same pattern as Norin’s. She even seemed to make the same sort of cries—demure little “Ahs” that reminded Hala of the way, when the girls played in the evenings here on the village green, the miller’s twins had never seemed to want to play tag, or even hide and seek—as if their mother had told them that they weren’t the kind of girls who played tag. Larin whimpered at the pleasure of the Lord’s Horse like a girl who wished she were home doing the mending.
While Norin rode, because Hala watched the ritual for the first time then, she had been worried for the girl—that they would use the strap on her, that there would be something cruel about what Lord Kesin did to her. Now that Norin had finished her ride, Hala almost wanted to see the strap used, and she felt that if anyone should receive a whipping upon the Lord’s Horse, it should be one of the miller’s girls.
Hala realized that she had begun to grow warm between her thighs, at the thought. She balled her hands into little fists. Please, she begged the spirits, please don’t let the wetness show. I shall ride just like the twins, and no one will know about my wickedness, and I will stay in Thornwall and have a husband. Hala’s strange dream of the sages had faded in her memory, and she looked upon it now as foolishness.
But Larin’s ride ended in a few minutes, just as Norin’s had, and again Lord Kesin bent to say something in her ear. Hala burned to know what he said, and whether it was the same for every girl, or whether girls who rode more wickedly—and she felt her cheeks grow hot at the idea she had of what riding more wickedly might mean—got a different sort of final word from the lord steward.
Why did she fear so greatly that her own ride would be so very different from what she had just seen the twins undergo? She feared it, she supposed, because she hadn’t even noticed that the walls of her home were shaking while she cried out her pleasure, rubbing her whipped bottom-cheeks, whipped because she had been a bad girl who broke a pot, with her right hand while her fingers played so shamefully in front. She knew because when her mother had finally gotten Hala’s attention, shouting “What are you doing, girl?” after having come in from feeding the chickens when she heard the walls of their cottage shaking, Hala had emerged from her lascivious reverie with bits of the daub that covered the walls all over her back.
Larin had taken the towel from Sir Prentos and gone to wipe herself between her legs as discreetly as she could. Now she went to dress and to be enfolded in her mother’s embrace. Mistress Yorin stood now, proudly, with her arms around her daughters who had passed through their Horseday bravely, quickly, and honorably.
Meanwhile Kera had stepped onto the platform and gone to mount the horse. To her surprise, Hala could tell from the moment her friend lowered herself onto the prow of the saddle that something was different. Kera didn’t say, “Oh!” Instead, she gave a long, low moan. Unable to see anything but Kera’s back, Hala wondered whether her eyes were open, and what expression her face bore.
“Ride now, Kera, smith’s daughter,” Lord Kesin intoned, and Kera rode, helplessly. Hala watched her little bottom move upon the saddle, and felt her own cunny grow very warm. Kera cried out loud, “Oh, spirits!” but it wasn’t the prissy little expression of alarm uttered by Norin, but a full-throated cry of yielding.
“The water moves,” said Sir Prentos.
That was different, Hala realized. Something was transpiring in Kera’s ride that had not transpired in the twins’.
“The strap, Sir Bomen,” Lord Kesin said, seeming much more interested in what Kera did upon the horse than he had when the miller’s daughters had ridden it.
Hala wanted to cry, “Oh, no,” when she heard that Kera would receive the strap, but she knew it would not help—and she suddenly realized, to her horror, that she wanted to see Kera receive a whipping on the bare bottom that now moved so very wickedly over the leather of the horse. She especially wished it because she could not doubt that she, too, would soon be whipped.
Without delay, Sir Bomen went to the left side of the horse, between Kera and the audience, and began to whip Hala’s friend upon her bottom cheeks. She must be whipped, Hala thought, because she showed such wantonness. Kera’s cunny sought wicked pleasure from the saddle, and that made Kera a bad girl like Hala. The warmth and wetness between Hala’s thighs grew and grew.
Kera’s reaction to the whipping stunned Hala, for it was the same one she thought she must have. Kera cried out louder and louder not in pain but clearly in terrible, mastering pleasure as the strap fell again and again.
An odd sound began to be heard at the very same time—something like trees in the wind?
“The platform creaks,” said Sir Prentos. “I grow hard.”
Lord Kesin spoke next. “I as well. The girl is wanton, but a husband will cure that quickly.”
“You speak my mind, too,” Sir Prentos said, formally.
What did it mean? What were they talking about?
“Ten more lashes, Sir Bomen. Let us see if she will come.”
Come? Was that what had happened to Hala that day?
Sir Bomen’s strap flashed down, harder, and now pain mingled with the strange pleasure in Kera’s voice. Once, twice, three times, and then she screamed even louder than she had before, and Hala realized that this must be coming, for Kera’s whole body shook. The creaking that must be from the boards of the platform grew louder, until Hala could tell that the mothers, and the twins, had heard it too, for they were murmuring to one another.
Then, with a final, heartrending cry, Kera’s whole body seemed to go taut over the wooden horse. Hala saw her knuckles turn white on the handle, and watched Kera seem to try to push her cunny as hard as possible against the saddle. After a long moment of silence, Kera whimpered, and then collapsed over the horse, as Lord Kesin leaned down to speak into her ear. Kera nodded, and Sir Prentos helped her off the horse.
The knight’s manner seemed kinder to Kera than it had been to the twins, but Mistress Yorin clearly found Kera’s ride to have been terribly dishonorable to her family and her village. When Kera returned to her mother to dress, Reda and Ana hugged her, but although Hala’s and Kera’s mothers had hugged Norin and Larin, Mistress Yorin did not return the comfort.
And now Lord Kesin gestured to Hala. Her turn had come. She looked at the horse, and swallowed hard. She wanted it, and she did not want it. She knew exactly what Lord Kesin had meant about enjoying her shame.
Hala took a step forward, and in that motion she could not help it, she squeezed a little with the muscles of her thighs, and whimpered at the wicked, lovely feeling.
With wonder in his voice, Sir Prentos said, “The water moves. I am hard.”
“What?” Lord Kesin said. Then he took a sharp breath, and his eyes widened. He said, “And I am hard as iron myself.”
Hala felt her eyes go wide in alarm. What did the knight mean, that the water moved.
Sir Bomen spoke as if he knew he uttered his words out of turn, but could not contain them. “Because she stopped moving, my lord. Look at her. She tightened between her legs when she stepped toward the platform.”
Hala realized that Sir Bomen had seen her reaction to that first step—now all three of the knights were regarding her steadily.
“Come here and ride, Hala, farmer’s daughter,” said Lord Kesin slowly and calmly. “You must mount the horse, and put your cunny upon the saddle.”
The fire came alight again in Hala’s belly, and between her thighs, at the words and at the thought of the terrible horse, where Sir Bomen would whip her and whip her until she came, shaming herself with her display of her wanton nature. She couldn’t help it. She moved her hand to her cunny, and touched her girl’s bud, and gave a shameful moan at what she had done, and the feeling it had awoken.
“Oh, spirits!” Hala’s mother cried, because the ground was shaking, and the platform even more violently than the ground. Ana, and Yorin, and Kera, Norin and Larin, were all staring at Hala as if they had never seen her before.
On the platform, the pedestal that held the basin fell over, the basin clanging against the wood and its sudsy water flooding through the boards, which had splintered and cracked, Hala saw to her amazement. Lord Kesin almost lost his balance, and had to lean upon the horse itself for support, though the horse too seemed to be in the process of moving toward Hala. On his face, the lord steward had a look that frightened Hala—the narrow-eyed, hungry look of a man who wants a thing, and will not let anyone stand in his way. He took a step toward her, across the shaking platform, and Hala quailed back, terribly confused, removing her naughty hand from her cunny.
Then, just as suddenly as the quaking had started, it ceased.
“She cannot ride the horse,” Lord Kesin said hollowly, the wolfish look leaving his face. “Her corona is more powerful than I have ever felt—I have never felt such a need to possess a girl as I did just then.”
“No, my lord,” Sir Bomen said. “We would ravish her—we would have no power to stop ourselves.”
“And the danger to the village would be too great,” Sir Prentos said, as if continuing a single thought the three of them had.
“We are fortunate she has not already destroyed the thornwall.”
“What?” cried Hala. “What is it? What does it mean?”
Kesin, who had been looking only at his knights, now turned back to Hala with a hard look in his face. “It means, Hala, farmer’s daughter, I am afraid, that you are a wanton slut—the most wicked, dangerous slut any of us has ever seen. You must get in the wagon now, girl. Say farewell to your mother, and to your agemates. We must depart for Castle Jey within the hour.”
Crying and shaking, Hala ran to her mother, who had tears in her own eyes. She embraced Reda, and then she reached down to get her gown, trembling violently. But her mother shook her head, sobbing, and Lord Kesin said, sternly, “Do not dress, hussy. You will travel to the castle as you are.”
“Mother,” Hala said. “I am so sorry. I tried.”
“Oh, Hala,” Reda said. “Only the spirits know why they made you this way, but whatever they say I know that your are truly a good girl, and I will love you always.”
In the covered wagon was another girl, and another knight. Hala could tell he was a knight not only from the richness of his tunic but from the severe bearing of his face—the same look of authority that occupied the faces of Lord Kesin and Sirs Bomen and Prentos. The girl, who had red hair and green eyes, was bound to a bench in the wagon, her waist and knees secured, with those knees wide apart, to the wooden seat and back, and her wrists bound to the leather strap around her waist. The girl gave Hala a worried little smile in greeting.
The knight… oh, spirits, the knight… Something about what had happened by the thornwall, with the Lord’s Horse, had suddenly made her more conscious than she felt she had ever been of the way men looked—their angular faces and the strength of their muscles. The knight had long black hair, and green eyes like Hala’s own. Hala’s face blazed like fire as she felt his eyes upon her, knowing as he must that she was a wanton girl who had shamed herself on Horseday, and must now be brought to the castle.
To her even greater shame, Hala found herself wondering what he would look like if he were naked, like her. She had seen her brothers’ things, when they were young, but she had never seen the male part of a grown man, and at the thought of what this knight might look like there, a feeling akin to what she had felt about the whipping upon the horse began. She felt herself tighten, somehow, in her cunny, and the moisture flowed a little, though not as violently as it had when Lord Kesin commanded her to mount. She squeezed with her thighs again, just as she had when she had made the water move—she simply could not help it.
The man’s brow furrowed, and he stared at Hala. “That’s not possible,” he said. He shifted upon his seat across the wagon from the naked red-haired girl, as if he had become uncomfortable, somehow.
“What?” she said. “Won’t someone tell me something?”
“Sit on the bench next to Jas, slut,” said the knight. “I am Sir Deved. I will see you safe to Castle Jey.”
Something in the way he addressed her made Hala wonder whether something about her distressed him even more than the knowledge that she had shamed herself, or whether perhaps he was in some sort of pain. The thought that Sir Deved might be indisposed quieted her arousal, and made her stop the tormenting, delicious squeezing—despite his handsomeness, and the fascination exerted upon her by the thought of the thing hanging between his thighs, and the way he too, treated her as a wicked hussy, she hoped he was alright.
Sir Deved expelled a breath. “There,” he said. “Better. Girl, what’s your name?”
“Hala, my lord,” she whispered. She tried desperately not to look at him, as she sat upon the bench. The girl’s—Jas’s—smile had vanished, and a crease appeared on her brow, as if she were trying to discover what Hala was doing to trouble Sir Deved.
“Move over a few inches to your left,” Sir Deved said. The air of command in his tone seemed to set Hala off again though, making her wonder whether the knight might whip her. As she moved, she could not help squeezing again, just a bit. When he said, “Oof,” she finally began to see that there must be a connection between her wanton pleasure and his bodily reactions.
Nor did it get easier when he fastened the leather thongs around her knees and waist and wrists, just as they were fastened around the silent Jas. When he did that, he brushed, of course, against places near her most sensitive parts, and the feeling of longing for a whipping—already there somehow in the thought that she must submit to being bound to the bench in the covered wagon—seemed to grow all the greater as the warmth rushed to her cunny at his touch.
The planks of the wagon creaked, just as the platform by the thornwall had, and Sir Deved stiffened the moment she felt the heat rise in her loins, but he continued strapping her down, though as she looked up at his face it was clear that he was in some great distress. “Hala,” he said through gritted teeth, “did they tell you how powerful you are?”
“How wicked, you mean?” Hala whispered, feeling herself start to cry, and at the same time feeling to her relief that her excitement had ebbed at the beginnings of sorrow. “But they haven’t told me what that means!” she said, nearly desperate now. Her dream came back to her—was it coming true? But what did the dream mean? The mysteries only deepened.
“It means, Hala, that I shall have a very difficult time keeping my hands from your luscious little body as we return to the castle. Thank the spirits Thornwall is our last village. I’ve been hard enough with only Jas here to keep in check.”
“But why must I be bound?”
“To keep you from touching your sweet little cunt, girl, and offending the spirits with your lust. Now that you’ve seen the horse, and been bound to the bench, I’m guessing that with your pull, if you touched yourself, you might shatter the wagon under us.”
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