Thursday, 20 January 2011

Excerpt Day - The Devil of Nettlewood © Louisa Trent

Excerpt

 

On his return trip from Talon’s keep at Ironguard, Spur reigned in his mount and scanned the smoky sky.

 

A brisk breeze ruffled the leaves today, the wind’s westerly direction foretelling the cause of the ominous gray cloud drifting overhead.

 

He quickly crossed himself.

 

In nomine Patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti!

Anarchists had struck Lord Harold’s manor. The timber settlement,located halfway between Spur’s massive keep at Nettlewood and Ironguard, his brother’s sprawling stronghold on the windswept moors, was burning. No other explanation would account for the quantity of ash and cinders billowing in the air.

 

Though both compatriots of France, Harold and he had enjoyed only a limited acquaintance in England. A hand’s count of conversations at King Stephen’s palace at Winchester was the extent of their familiarity. Nonetheless they were political allies, and so Spur kneed his charger toward the baron’s manor estate to see what, if anything, he could do.

 

Even at a great distance, Spur suspected there was naught for anyone to do.

 

Still, doing his duty, he drew nigh -- but not too close lest those who set the fires remained -- and dismounted. After tying his steed to a tree, he proceeded onward on foot. A short journey.

 

Within eyeshot of his destination, he knew the once-thriving village was no more. Charred debris and cracked rocks were all that remained of the settlement. As for the populace -- no one could have lived through such an inferno.

 

Still, doing his duty, he proceeded to conduct a search for survivors.

 

As a seasoned warrior, he was well used to carnage. But this scene differed tremendously from the blood-soaked deaths he came across on the battlefield. Those losses were all men-at-arms, stouthearted warriors who knew the inherent dangers of warfare and understood conflict ofttimes resulted in the end of life. Whereas here, by all outward appearances, barbarians had herded unsuspecting villagers into the Great Hall -- in this particular instance, a separate building set apart from the central manor house -- barred the portal on the outside, and then torched the Hall’s timber walls and bundled-stick roof.

 

All trapped within perished. Men. Women. Children.

 

Innocent children who had no part to play in this anarchy.

 

Throughout the night, the screams of their ghosts tormented Spur as he searched for anyone who might have eluded the flames. Alas, he could find no one alive.

 

A not entirely accurate assessment, Spur promptly corrected. He had come upon a few serfs in the throes of death, burned beyond recognition. His dagger had ended their suffering. And with each merciful slash of his blade, his fury had risen.

 

Anarchy had taken a firm hold of the land. Every day people died in the streets of starvation. And men must do what they must to provide for their own. To put bread on the trestle table, some turned to outlawing, others to mercenary soldiering -- for both King Stephen and his rival for the crown, the Empress Matilda.

 

Sure as Spur breathed, Matilda’s henchmen had done this treacherous deed.

 

Certainly the king’s men would not have butchered Lord Harold and his people. The nobleman was a loyal subject of the crown and a vocal supporter of Stephen’s right to sit on the throne. Nay, Matilda’s men had done this, all right. No argument, these were hard times, but that did not excuse men for behaving like animals. Nay, worse than animals. Packs of hungry wolves acted with more compassion toward their kills than had these guttersnipes.

 

Spur hurled his bloodied dagger pointfirst into the scorched earth, the hilt vibrating with the force of the throw.

 

By Christ, the curs responsible for the senseless slaughter here must be brought to justice. King Stephen must stop his present softness toward his adversaries and put down Matilda’s army of murderous thugs once and for all! Atrocities like this one would only escalate so long as the empress thought she had a chance of reclaiming the crown. But rather than retaliate to the fullest extent of his might, ofttimes the king espoused the policy of simply turning the other cheek. Conniving barons on both sides of the political tangle took advantage of the king’s laxness. One could not be soft in a hard world.

 

Dawn broke. Whilst he brooded on the deaths of innocents and the remedy for future such massacres, a flash of movement caught Spur’s eye. A heartbeat later, a bare-breasted young woman glided past him like an eerie specter. ’Twas as if she never saw him.

 

But he spied her. At least he thought he had.

 

To clear his sooty vision, Spur blinked, then blinked again.

 

There could be no mistake. Despite the improbability of it, there she was, heading toward the bonfire in the middle of Lord Harold’s devastated courtyard.

 

How could this be?

 

No one had survived the fire. He had checked the settlement twice. The thoroughness of his search left Spur with but one conclusion to draw.

 

The brazen, half-naked woman was a camp follower, most likely the female companion of the mercenary commander in charge of this destruction.

 

What else could he think?

 

She wore no coif, a symbol of modesty in women, and she had about her an indecent air, a wanton air her half-garbed state only emphasized. She looked ill-used, pawed. Fucked.He recognized that look. Prostitutes who worked the London stews carried the same air of abandonment. Dull to her surroundings, she wandered about, seeking out her murderous lover, no doubt. All mercenary leaders had such sluts at their disposal.

 

“Filthy whore,” he muttered under his breath.

 

In light of her fraternization, she would get no consideration from him. Lie down with wild dogs, rise up with fleabites. ’Twas Spur’s practice to eradicate all vermin on contact.

 

After retrieving his blade, Spur went after her, a loping stride that closed the gap between them in short order. He came alongside her, so close he swore he could almost smell the mercenary leader’s cum on her, so near he did see the discoloration of the cur’s fingers on her pale skin. Her nipples, praiseworthy in size, showed the vestiges of her lover’s caresses. The marks adorning the distended tips were fairly fresh too, still red and angry, as if she had only just recently finished rutting with the cur. A celebratory fuck after wiping out a whole village of innocents.

 

Some more innocent than others.

 

In the course of his search, he had discovered a newborn babe cradled in his mother’s arms, fire melting their flesh together for all eternity.

 

Spur’s jaw jutted beneath his helm. Jesus! His urge to strike out, to lash out, to strangle with his bare hands the coldhearted bastard who killed infants could not be denied.

 

Where is he? Where is the guttersnipe who did mass murder here? Drawing and quartering is too good for the monster.

Quickly now, before he lost his only connection to her thug lover, Spur overtook the half-naked whore. A gloved hand on her bare arm, he swung her around to face him.

 

At another time, in another place, her features might have mesmerized him. Lovely, symmetrical, and with more than a hint of intelligence, the composition of her face only repelled him in the here and now.

 

And still his cock stirred.

 

Not with desire. Even the thought was repugnant. He could never desire an accomplice to slaughter. Nay, his cock stirred with something else.

 

Vengeance.

 

The raw passion of retaliation cried out for release.

 

Here was someone on whom to vent his bloodlust. He shook with the righteousness of the punishment he would mete out.

 

Mail armor gauntlets encased his hands. The press of steel studs against her soft skin would most certainly pain her. With grave deliberation, he dug his fingers deeper into her silky flesh.

 

Scream, whore, scream!

But nay. Thwarting him, she made not a sound, not even a pained whimper, but stared silently up into his helm’s guard, slack of jaw and vacant of expression.

 

Her glazed-over brown eyes moved him not at all.

 

Naturally she would look dazed -- her mercenary lover had no doubt abandoned her. Her lost and bewildered mien, as if she had not quite grasped the enormity of her participation in murder, combined with her rogue lover’s desertion, would of course leave her disoriented.

 

The slut deserved none of his sympathy. The recently departed souls here in this once-thriving settlement had already claimed all his pity and then some. She would get naught from him…save his justifiable fury.

 

No longer enough to hold her arm in a viselike metal grip, he pointed his retrieved dagger at her heart. In transit, he brushed a studded finger across her distended nipple, a delicate shade of rose -- in marked contrast to the crimson stripes inflaming her breasts. A guileless hue was that fair shade of rose -- in direct contradiction to the black-hearted treachery of her guilt.

 

“Where is he?” His voice quaked with deadly wrath.

 

Making him no answer, her stony stare continued.

 

His anger exploded, and he shook her, shook her hard, shook her so that her perfect teeth rattled. “I say, where is the mercenary leader who conducted this massacre?”

 

And still she maintained her cool poise.

 

“Unfeeling whore,” he raged, his gaze falling to her bared breasts and resting uneasily there, scrutinizing the areolas. The delicate rose rings had reddened as if she were in heat, an animal’s heat.

 

His sights never leaving those reddening circles, he growled, “Are you armed?”

 

No response.

 

Her lack of reaction left him only one choice. As any wary warrior would, he patted her semiclothed person, down her legs, back up in between, over the rounded contours of her buttocks. He surveyed her concave belly, where the bottom half of her ripped garb hung lopsidedly on a finely boned hip.

 

As far as he could tell, she carried no weaponry. But only the most chivalrous of knights would risk life and limb over decorum toward a female.

 

He was no chivalrous knight.

 

However, even the Devil must follow certain protocols. Stripping a woman naked because his erection clamored for it violated rules of military combat. But stripping the enemy naked in a weaponry search was prudent. As cohort to a traitor, she was an enemy of the Crown. One never knew where a traitor such as she would hide her treachery.

 

“Remove your shoes,” he ordered.

 

When she failed to act, he stooped down and yanked her feet free of the rundown leathers.

 

He examined the discards. Good! She carried no weaponry stuffed in the insoles.

 

Next his survey went to her high-arched bare feet, lovely bare feet, and lingered. Her bare feet would not stay lovely for long on this soot-laden ground. Heat rose from the courtyard in waves. The hot ground would blister the soles. Rubble would nick the toes. Walking without shoes would raise calluses.

 

He tore his gaze away.

 

Disgruntled at how melancholy all that made him, he kicked her discarded shoes into the bonfire and watched them burn.

 

Go barefoot, slut, and see if I care.

He turned back to her.

 

“Raise your hem,” he ordered and pressed his dagger to her pale chest with those animalistic reddened nipples.

 

No reply save silence.

 

“Raise it or die,” he shouted. “Your choice.”

 

“I would prefer the flames to the knife,” she said softly.

 

Aha! The whore finally speaks.

Evidently threats loosened her tongue.

 

“Your preference matters naught to me, wench. Pull the garb to your waist and be quick about it. I would be gone from here. There may be villagers in need of assistance hiding in the woods…”

 

“Nay, there are not.” She shook her head in agitation. “No one got out alive.”

 

“How do you come by this information? Are you admitting your guilt?”

 

“I am guilty of living whilst all here lay slain. No soul escaped the inferno, my lord. They all to a one perished in the flames. The leader saw to it. Looking in the forest will only waste your time.”

 

“How do you know?” he seethed.

 

“I know because five score people, the total amount of villagers living within the manor’s barricaded walls, died here this day, plus Lord Harold.”

 

Five score and one. The exact number Spur had tallied in his count of corpses.

 

The fiendish bitch tugged on her ripped kirtle, and the wool rose. Past the turn of trim ankles, up shapely legs, past female knees to tempting thighs, where its ascent stopped.

 

“Bare the rest,” he said cruelly. “I would examine that which you seek to hide.”

 

“I hide naught.”

 

She hid her genitals, the inlet of which was well trafficked, he wagered, and which might have a blade strapped to it. He had seen the ruse done before, and to the detriment of one of his best men, a gallant warrior too respectful of womanhood to conduct the required search. That soldier lay dead now, killed by a blade the camp follower had secreted to her privates. She’d used her weapon without remorse, a slash to that respectful warrior’s throat. Spur would never forget how his courtly vassal had bled out onto the dirt whilst the prostitute laughed.

 

He pricked this camp follower’s flesh with his dagger. A droplet of blood sprang forth from a vulnerable area slightly above her jutting nipple.

 

“Uncover your cunt,” he raged.

 

“If you want it, ’tis yours. I give it to you gladly. Only take me away from this place. I care not where we go or what you do to me, but I cannot stay here.”

 

“You two quarreled, eh? You and the mercenary leader had a parting of the ways, did you?”

 

“Aye. Exactly. If he sees me, he will first have his troops kill me, then you. You are but one man against many.” She batted her lashes. “Why stay here, surrounded by death, when we could be off enjoying ourselves? Hmm?” she added seductively.

 

Wicked doxy. What she suggested was despicable -- even without direct involvement in murder. With involvement, her offer smacked of the depths of depravity. What manner of evil did he deal with in her?

 

His people called him the Devil of Nettlewood, but even he was out of his element here. He had no firsthand knowledge of calculating women like her, selfish females only concerned about their own precious necks. His partners in bed sport were wholesome and earthy creatures, despite their royal titles. Frustrated widows living at court, ladies-in-waiting weary of their boring lives in Winchester. This whore was everything he knew naught about, an immoral slut agreeable to anything if it meant saving her head.

 

This situation called for precaution. This female was a diabolical schemer, a murderess once removed.

 

Or perchance, not removed at all.

 

For all he knew, she might have participated in the actual torching of this settlement. She might have herded those innocents into the Great Hall with a promise of amnesty for their cooperation.

 

He would show her the same sort of amnesty those lost souls received.

 

“Bare. Your. Cunt,” he snarled. “Do it and you live. Refuse and you die.”

 

Again the threat worked. She raised her kirtle belly-high, revealing her loins, a delta ablossom with riotous sable curls.

 

An intense scrutiny told him she carried no weaponry, but maddened, he rasped, “Loosen your thighs.”

 

She tossed her head, and her streaming brown hair spiraled over her creamy shoulders like a thousand vipers coiled on white sands. “I told you, my lord, away from here.”

 

Astonished by her gall, he slipped his dagger briefly between his tight lips for safekeeping whilst yanking off a gauntlet. Then, barehanded, he spread her open.

 

Wide open. Splitting her legs like a white chicken he intended to stuff. “Place no demands on me.” After sheathing his weapon altogether -- the blade got in his way -- he cradled her loins, smoothing a thumb back and forth over the stretched slit. “Bring this forward.”

 

When she once again did naught, he pulled the other glove off too, stowing the pair on his belt before placing his bare palm against her exposed buttocks. With more force than was necessary, he tilted her hips, which raised the entrance to her passage.

 

He was all set to probe her, to finger her channel deep, when she whispered, “Oh aye. Aye. What you do feels so good. But please, my lord, I beseech you, not here. As you can see, I am willing. I shall give you whatever is your pleasure, only not here. Wait, I pray you. You will not be disappointed for the delay.”

 

“And the mercenary who is your lover -- you will give up his name?”

 

“Afterward. Away from here, I shall do all, tell all.”

 

Why not grant her request?

 

Choking the information out of her here, at the scene of her crime, would gain him naught but lies, deceptions, and mayhap her snapped neck when he lost patience with those lies and deception. Whereas threats held in abeyance might intimidate her into a truth-telling confession, which he would later use to apprehend the cur. His steed was swift, and the mercenary was on foot -- other than those of his own destrier, no other fresh hoofprints were in sight. The bastard could not have gotten far.

 

“Agreed.” Spur released her hem, and her skirts fell back to the ground, a soiled and frayed drapery around her ankles.

 

Like a queen, she smiled regally, a smile that lit up her warm brown eyes even more. “My thanks.”

 

Her gratitude was out of place. A short reprieve from her eventual sentencing was the most he would grant her.

 

Wanting her smile gone, he shoved his hand up under her fallen skirts and drove his middle finger between her pubic lips. Wet pubic lips. Her cry of violation warmed his heart.

 

“Henceforth, do not presume to bargain with me.” Hooking his free hand in the tattered remains of her kirtle, he rent the garb from her.

 

The length of his middle finger pinning her in place, she leaned into him, her chin slightly dipped, gaze lowered, arms hanging aimlessly at her sides. No attempt to cover her breasts and loins advised him she had lost all maidenly modesty long ago.

 

“Oh aye,” she said and squirmed in heated acceptance.

 

He pushed another digit into her clasp and surveyed her up and down, a slow assessing look, repelled at the sight whilst at the same time aroused at the sight. Her hot, squirming body burned his two fingers as he thrust them inside her.

 

To apprise her of whose authority she must now submit to, he reached out to her breast and fondled the inconsequential weight before cupping the dainty mound, across the outrageously lavish nipple. No need to rush her lesson, he smoothed his fingers lazily over her, petting her as he would a bitch in the kennel, but without the accompanying fondness. If given the opportunity, this she-beast would bite.

 

But for all that, she was very young. Little better than a child. At seven and thirty, he reckoned he was more than twice her age. Most likely she had been whoring since before her first bleed. Village females began the prostitution trade early. These peasant sluts were a breed apart, a common lot all around, used to brutal usage.

 

She would not be used to the brutal likes of him. He had a tremendous anger on him this day.

 

Though long of leg, the whore’s hips were narrow, her waist a sharp indentation below diminutive teats. In short, she was woefully tiny. But huge in her treachery. Despite her assent to intercourse, this reed-thin waif would never stand up against the vengeance boiling inside him. As the leader’s doxy, this slender female was complicit in treason whether she, herself, set any blazes here or not, and treason was punishable by death.

 

By Christ’s cross, she would give up names!

 

“I shan’t go easy on you,” he said brusquely, and advanced his two fingers.

 

“You need not go easy, my lord.”

 

“But if you name the nobleman who paid the mercenary leader to do this deed, I shall see you are treated fairly.”

 

His prisoner looked up at him, her brown eyes too bright, lit from within by what looked to him like a righteous flame. How dare she? He was the one who had righteousness on his side, not she.

 

“Fairly?” she mocked. “What know royals of fairness? The outcome is always the same to the likes of you. Whether we support King Stephen or the Empress Matilda, serfs always end up dead.”

 

There was an element of truth in her accusation. Peasants such as she were starving by the droves. Unable to make her a denial, he dropped his hands from her body and growled, “Start walking.”

 

She had yet to give him a clear view of her bottom. Because of her loosened hair, the curled ends falling to the backs of her knees, she still denied him the pleasure. His inability to see her buttocks frustrated him. He had to see her back portal. By Christ’s stones, he wagered ’twas as puckered as a monastery-grown plum, the fruit just as tender and sweet. Delicious!

 

His jaw tightened. The night ahead portended to be long and hard.

 

Or, was that rather -- him?

 

© Louisa Trent,

 

The Devil of Nettlewood

The Anarchy Tales

Author:  Louisa Trent

Publisher: Loose Id LLC

Genre: BDSM Erotic Historical

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Though tales of Lord Spur’s cruelty are legendary and his discipline of her is oft-times harsh, peasant Mitri chooses carnal servitude in the nobleman’s solar over rotting in a dungeon as his prisoner. But Lord Spur is as thorny as the vines surrounding his embattled keep. His prick stings her so. He toys with her mercilessly, all hours of the day and night, and not only in his bedchamber.

Subjected to all manner of forbidden acts, her pleasured flesh rubbed raw from leather restraints, her throat screamed hoarse from the pained releases forced upon her, Mitri accepts the bounty of her Master’s rough passion.

And then, Lord Spur brings in his squire, Nym. Not to mention his brother, Lord Talon. Whatever is she to do? The overlord presents her to each as if she were a lamb at market. There is naught to do -- save trust beyond question, save trust beyond doubt, that she has found her one true love in the dominant overlord.

But -- has she? Has she found her one true love? Or has she only succumbed to the dark seduction of the Devil of Nettlewood?

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Strong BDSM theme and elements, dubious consent, violence.

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