As the words “stein til stein for alltid en så sier jeg dette spell er gjort ” escaped from Loki's lips, his brother, caught in his forward trajectory, found he was suddenly unable to move arm nor leg, his considerable bulk crashing to the arena floor beside him. The staff, which Thor had held aimed like a javelin, shattered under the impact. His momentum carried him to his back, his arms at an awkward angle, the remains of the staff still clenched in his fists. Loki scuttled backwards away from where Thor lay, his blond locks pooled beneath his head, face a grimace as he stared upwards into the sky, chest heaving, the leather straps of his sparring armor crisscrossing his chest, dark with sweat and dirt.
“Release me, brother!” he roared. Loki could hear laughter in the stands.
Most of the time, when Thor issued a challenge, it was a contest of brawn and though Loki was quick, skilled with staff and sword, he was woefully outdone in strength and heft by his larger sibling. The matches often ended with Thor sitting upon Loki's chest until he cried “Yield!” Thor's method of attack would be to keep Loki so out of breath, so busy defending himself from the blows of staff or parrying the swing of the broadsword that he could nary utter a word much less a whole spell. Today, however, Thor's confidence had been his undoing.
He had taken Loki's feet out from under him with a hard swing of his staff, but before delivering the winning blow, he had turned to Sif and Magnus who sat among the seats in the empty arena, and he had smiled. Loki had taken those few seconds to call out the binding spell as Thor had pivoted around and raised his staff in the air.
He struggled to his feet, heard clapping and he could feel his heart nearly burst from his chest. Magnus had stood up and was calling out to him, “Loki, ask him to yield before you release him or he shall have you!”
Loki was still trying to catch his breath, gasping as he leaned over Thor, his teeth bared in pain, the hitch in his side catching him at every intake. “Brother, will you yield to me?”
He could see the anger in Thor's eyes, more than that, his wounded pride. “I yield to you, now release me so that I may stand up, Odin's beard!”
“Jeg slipper deg fra dette spell. “ Loki muttered as he passed his right hand over Thor's prone figure, stepping back as Thor leaped to his feet. He brushed the dirt from his arms and legs then clapped Loki hard between the shoulder blades, the sting of the blow made all the more fulsome by the bare skin where the straps formed a large open diamond at his back.
“You bested me fairly, brother.”
Loki bent down and picked up his staff from the hard dirt floor of the arena.“Does that surprise you?”
His gaze swung up the stands to where Sif and Magnus were descending the steps from the stands toward the arena floor. Behind them, making her way cautiously, was a young woman dressed in a long simple light blue shift tied at the waist with a braided cord belt. Her translucent blue eyes darted from Magnus and Sif to the two men on the arena floor and back again. She tucked a strand of her chestnut hair behind her ear. She was winsome, graceful in her movements, her full lips drawn together, a somewhat dubious look on her face. She reached the dirt floor of the arena and stopped a short distance from where the small band of warriors now stood.
She scuffed her bare feet in the dirt, keeping her eyes averted as they spoke together. She felt forgotten momentarily as she waited, her hands clasped in front of her.
“Come, wench.” Thor called to her. She made her way out to the group who stood in a semi-circle before her.
“I give you your new master.”
The young woman seemed to shrink before the warriors as Loki stepped into the middle of the group. “You serve me now.”
She nodded once, “Yes, Milord.”
She ventured to study him. Meeting the steely gaze of his brilliant blue-green eyes, she let her own drop to the ground to stare at the tips of his brown leather boots.
“You should have thought of a lesser prize to wager, Thor.” Sif chided playfully as Loki looked over his shoulder at them. “Though I am surprised your brother cared to bother, he has a full household. What is one more servant to him?”
Loki spun around, his ire high. Sif's goading never failed to produce a reaction from him. “The true prize came in besting this blond behemoth. That he chose to reduce his own household by one is none of my concern. His pride won the day for me.” Loki tipped his hand with a flourish towards Thor who was watching him, eyes narrowed, arms crossed.
“Perhaps, if there were any other way for you to win other than with that silver tongue of yours, it would be a fairer fight.”
Loki bristled at the barb.“I am skilled with the blade as well as my mind, perhaps if your intellect matched your brute strength, you would give me more of a challenge.”
Thor smiled, though his eyes remained hard and fixed, “Would you care to wager again, I would test you, sword to sword.”
Loki glanced at the servant girl who remained staring at the ground, her toe making circles in the dirt, one hand clasping an elbow.
“No, I grow weary and hungry, you would not catch me at my best.”
“That is the idea, brother.” Thor chuckled, planting his hands akimbo on his hips.
Loki gave Thor a sardonic smile in return, “I shall consider this fight fairly won, do you concede?”
“I do concede. Let us go and wash the dirt of this place from us. There will be feasting tonight and I fear the consequences should we keep Magnus too late from the table.” They all laughed as they started for the archway at the far side of the arena. A few steps from the entrance, Loki whirled around, catching sight of the servant girl still standing where they had been moments before.
“Will you stand there until darkness falls? Come!”
The woman appeared startled. Seeing Loki gesture for her to follow him, she broke into a run, stumbling to a stop before him.
“Forgive me, Milord.” She could feel his stare as he assessed her fully and she closed her eyes, keeping her head bowed.
“Follow me, do not fall behind again.”
She had to trot to keep up with his long strides down the torchlit hall to the equipment room. Thor was currently standing by the large stone basin, arms raised high as a young boy, an attendant, unlaced the leather armor tied at his back.
He stopped quick and the woman dug in her heels nearly losing her balance, stopping herself from knocking him to the ground.
“Woman, remove my armor.” Loki held his arms up in mimic of his brother whose smirk as she started to try the knots with her small hands made Loki impatient. “Make haste, wench.”
Sweat beaded on her forehead, arms, her fingers becoming damp as she feverishly worked the laces, making little headway. After a couple of minutes, he swung around with a growl and shoved her to the ground where she landed, mouth agape.
“Boy,” Loki gestured to the young servant who was hanging Thor's sparring armor on a hook on the wall, “Come show this woman how to unlace this armor. I grow irritated.”
“Brother, have some patience. She is young, a hand maiden. She has likely never seen armor the likes of this. I daresay there is much she need learn.”
Loki shrugged out of his armor and joined Thor at the stone water basin, splashing and rubbing the cold water over his bare chest, his hands and arms. He grabbed a piece of pumice from the bottom of the basin and scrubbed it over his skin till the blood ran close to the surface, giving him a ruddy glow. He handed the piece to the young boy,
“Attend to my back.” He leaned forward, pulling his long black hair over one shoulder and placed his hands on the edge of the basin as the boy scrubbed the dirt from him.
“I am no teacher, I desire my household to be trained when they come to me. I cannot be bothered with such things.”
Thor dropped his pumice stone back into the water, “Training a servant such as she may be a pleasure.”
Loki had pulled off his boots and removed his breeches, calling for the attendant to bring him a fresh change of garments. He now applied the pumice to his legs. Thor smiled when he caught a glimpse of the young woman pressed into a corner of the room, hiding her eyes against their exposed flesh as Loki dropped the pumice stone back into the water.
“So, you wager her to me so that you need not bother with her?”
“I never said that I did not wish to bother with her. I said you should consider the possibilities that training may bring.”
Loki took the breeches that the attendant held out to him and slipped them on. “She will serve as one of my personal attendants. I do not see how she will be worth much more than that.” He took the brown tunic from the attendant's arm and pulled it over his head, drawing his hair from underneath.
“I am returning to my rooms. I will dress for the feast and see you there.”
Thor nodded, winked at him, “Of course, brother, we must recognize Erfen's new babe, it gives us a good reason to eat and drink ourselves into a stupor.”
Loki grinned and Thor smiled in return.
“At least this we agree on.” He bowed with a flourish and headed up the stairs to the courtyard above. Loki turned to the young woman.
When she hesitated, he clucked his tongue, “Step lively, I must show you how to lay out my clothes.”
She found she was able to keep up with his strides by matching him with a step-trot gait. She marveled at the grandeur of the palace halls they walked through. The profusion of gold, silver and bronze gilt. The massive statues. The friezes and frescoes, the marble floors. Torches casting warm light reflecting from a thousand surfaces at every turn. Though it hardly matched the beauty of Freyr's castle in Alfheim, it had it own aesthetic majesty and were she not terrified to be following her new master to his chambers, she would have been content to wander the halls looking at the artwork, admiring the architecture.
As she hurried to follow him, she found the time to study him as she had attempted to in the arena. His hair was long and ebony black, nearly to the middle of his back, tied now at mid-length with a leather strap. He was as slight in form as she though taller by at least a head. The confidence with which he acted was reflected in his walk, his movements. His long arms were accentuated by delicate turned hands tapering to long fingers, his muscular legs seemed to go on forever. His slight waist rose into a broad chest, not as wide perforce as his brother's, but enough to tell that though he was a prince of the realm, he was hardly idle, his days likely busied with horseback riding, sparring, gaming and other activities designed to keep him fit. His face was angular, high cheekbones giving him a regal bearing, his bright eyes the color of the frozen waters of Jotunheim and a wide expressive mouth that seemed now to be clenched tight in severity composed the figure that now stood with the door to his chambers thrown wide as he made way for her to enter.
She scanned the room in awe. To her left, built into the wall and large enough to stand in was a great fireplace, a low fire smoldering in its grate. A daybed and a high backed chair sat at either side. Farther left beyond the sitting area stood a row of dark pink granite marble pillars leading out onto a railed balcony with a view high over the city of Asgard. Before the pillars, inside the perimeter of the room were a line of large iron braziers to keep the room warm in winter though now their bellies were cold and dark, the cool of approaching autumn not yet enough to call them into use. The center of the room was taken over largely by a massive bed, its arched ebony headboard carved with intertwined snakes, scarlet silk coverlet turned down to reveal dark green sheets.
“This is where my clothes are kept,” He crossed the cavernous room to an immense double-doored wooden wardrobe, glancing over his shoulder to find the woman still standing just inside the entrance to his chambers, her arms wrapped around her.
“Wench, did I not tell you to follow me? I cannot teach you anything from across the room.”
He glared at her as he pointed to the spot beside him and she hurried across the room, her bare feet slapping the marble floor, muffled only when she crossed the thick carpet beneath the massive bed that dominated the chamber.
He opened the left door to the wardrobe. “My tunics and breeches are folded here, my boots below my summer court dress, winter court dress..”
“What is the difference?”
Loki turned to her and grabbed her hard by the chin, “When you speak, you ask my permission first. You will start with “Please, Milord. Do you ken?” He shoved her chin from his grasp.
She swallowed hard then started again, “Please, Milord, what is the difference between winter and summer dress?”
“My winter set is far heavier, lined against the cold though I prefer the season. The cold seldom bothers me. I keep my sparring armor in the equipment room below the arena. My battle armor,” He opened the right door, “Is here. I expect it to be kept in pristine condition. It must be oiled to keep the leather supple.” She wanted to reach out and touch the green and black great coat, but could scarce imagine the beating she would receive. She would have time enough when she was working the outfit to explore it.
“My robes,” he gestured to a short rack at the back of the wardrobe, “I use for the evenings and mornings.” The movement of the doors fluttered the hems. She surmised they were silk or light cotton and in a myriad of dark colors, the most prominent being dark green and gold as his other ceremonial garments.
“Do..” She clapped her hand to her mouth as his eyes flickered to hers, “Please, Milord, do you have winter robes as well?”
“They are stored away, soon to be brought out methinks. I shall have them brought in soon enough. You shall help to remove the summer robes and store them when the time comes.”
He closed the wardrobe and led her to a doorway to their right.
They entered another slightly smaller room. The walls of jade colored marble were carved in a bas relief of ivy. Torchieres stood at intervals, their flames flickering in the draft, casting dancing shadows about the room. A tall set of shelves held large towels. Central to the room was a long deep basin built into the polished marble floor, steps leading down to a submerged stone bench seat along one side. Covering the opposite wall were massive polished silver panels. A short table stood off to the side with a polished stone basin sitting atop it, a silver chamber pot nestled on the shelf beneath.
“You will be required to draw my water, set up my morning toilette and garments, bring my clothing to the laundress, fetch it when it is finished and put it away properly.”
He waved her out of the room back into the main chamber.
“I will speak to the house boy. He will procure a pallet for you to sleep on. You may make your bed by the fireplace which you will tend to if needed. The shift you wear is indecent for court. You will not attend me tonight. Follow the houseboy to the servant's quarters for a thorough cleaning and a new set of garments for yourself.”
She wanted to explain to him that she had been clean and neat when she set out from her village three days hence along with a wealth of items, silks, satins, elixirs, precious stones, rare wines from King Freyr. She had been included as a tribute from her father, Eldan, to the crown prince, Thor, but she knew it was of little concern to him.
“Now if you have paid attention to me, I shall know it. Draw my water for a bath. I must make ready for the marking and recognizing ceremony this evening.”
She stood stock still for a moment before scurrying to the bathing room.
He listened as the water began to flow into the large basin, nodded to himself, then walked out to the balcony to study the city below.
She put her hands under the heavy stream issuing from the pipe, yanked them back and tried to adjust the temperature with the brass viper shaped handles before her, felt it again. Still hot. She sighed and pushed the opposite handle away from her, grunting with the effort, leaning further over the basin. The water was now much too cold and she reached out for the handles one more time, one hand on the rim of the basin, finding she'd extended herself too far as she tried in vain to clutch the edge of the basin while she fell forward. She slid into the water with a splash.
In her panic to climb from the bath, she scrabbled for purchase along the edge of the basin until she found the submerged bench and was able to follow it to the stone steps. As she put her foot on the first step, she felt a strong hand lift her from the water by the back of her shift and set her on the marble, holding her until her feet stopped slipping on the polished surface. She wiped the water from her eyes, aware that she was creating a waterfall down the stone steps into the basin.
“Clumsy wench!” Loki cried, “Is the simplest task too difficult for you?”
He gave her arm a shake that reverberated through her body, making her teeth clack together.
“Please, Milord. I..I was trying to temper the water for you and I slipped.”
Still holding the collar of her shift, he dragged her out of the bathing room, across the main chamber to the massive double doors.
“Thor bested me in the end after all, for I have to contend with someone as inept as you!” he growled as he swung open the doors to find his houseboy standing outside the door, his hand raised to knock.
“Take this slattern and see that she is wrung out, cleaned properly and dressed before returning to me. Fetch a pallet and linens for her as well. I suppose I am saddled with her. I must remember to thank Thor properly at a later date.” As they headed away from the bedchamber, she heard the door slam shut.
She followed the houseboy to a set of stairs spiraling downward at the far end of the corridor, wet and shivering, sniffling. The houseboy waited until they were halfway down the stairs to speak.
“You have come to serve Lord Loki?”
She regarded him before answering. He didn't look to be more than ten years old. Standing only to her shoulder he had a shock of short red hair, dark blue eyes and delicate features.
“I came to serve the Crown Prince Thor. He wagered me in a contest with Loki and lost.”
The boy shook his head sadly, “Milord is a cruel master.”
She nodded in agreement, “Indeed.”
They entered a small kitchen at the bottom of the stairs where three older women sat at one end of a long table eating from small wooden bowls, a half round of peasant bread in the middle between them. A fire crackled in a large fireplace.
One of the women, looking to be the senior of the group, a portly, short lady with steel gray hair done up in a tight bun at her head and a slightly soiled dress, hauled herself up from the table and approached them. “Gods and Goddesses, what happened to you, my child?”
“She is a new house servant to Lord Loki. She slipped and fell into his bath.”
The woman clucked her tongue, “Goodness did you hit your head? Any broken bones?”
Before she could answer, the woman continued on.
“And he turned you out like this? You could catch your death of cold?” She removed her wool shawl as she stood up, and draped it around the young woman's shoulders.
“Silas, go fetch a tub and start to draw water for the girl. We must get her out of these wet clothes into a warm bath and a dry dress.” She waved her hand at the houseboy who was off and running before the words were finished.
The older lady sat her down on the bench seat nearest to the fire. “I'm Helgi, this is Artra,”
A younger buxom woman with dark blond hair done in braids and flashing blue eyes, nodded to her.
“And this is Volsa.” A tall thin severe looking woman with white hair tied at her head and eyes so brown they were almost black, merely stared at the young woman. “What be your name, dear?”
Helgi smiled, “Eidra, a lovely name for such a lovely girl. Are you hungry?”
Eidra nodded vigorously, “I have eaten nothing since the morning last, before we entered the city limits in preparation to meet with the Allfather.”
She shuddered at the memory of Thor's lecherous smile as she was walked before him. She had hated the feeling that she was on display. Thor had taken her shoulder and drawn her to stand beside him while her escort, Targas, spoke at length with Odin.
“Scandalous!” Helgi pushed a bowl of what smelled like beef stew into her hands and was in the act of handing her a spoon but she already had the bowl to her lips, slurping noisily, the stew running down her throat in a steady warm stream. It tasted like pure nectar.
“Careful, Eidra. You will sick it up for sure. Slow down.”
She paused to take a breath, holding the bowl tightly while Helgi sat beside her rubbing her back.
“How came a woman like yourself to be a servant? You look as if you have been raised in a fine house. Your hands are that of a woman used to little work.”
“Oh no, I was a house maid. My father owed Crown Prince Thor a great favor and so he gave me over as a tribute to him.”
“The favor must
have indeed been great for your own father let you to become a
slave?” Helgi looked into the bowl, seeing she'd finished the stew,
“Would you like more?”
Eidra nodded, “Yes, please. I do not know the nature of the favor, my father would not tell me”
Helgi ladled more
stew into her bowl.“You were let out as a house maid before then,
“I served in my father's household.”
Helgi put a hand to her mouth, “Truly?”
“I have served my family in our house since I was but a child. It is the only way I was allowed to live in Alfheim.”
She thought for a moment, considering that she might be revealing too much to strangers but it had been an arduous journey and a trying day and her tongue was thus unloosed by kind hospitality.
“I am half human, half Alfari. When my human mother died soon after my birth, my Alfari father came to Midgard to claim me and take me back to Alfheim upon the King's stipulation that I would serve the household when I grew old enough. This was Freyr's condition to him. I would not be able to take my proper position in the household because I was of mixed blood.”
Helgi frowned, rubbed Eidra's back as she spooned the stew to her mouth. “Freyr is heartless. You poor thing.”
Eidra shrugged, “It is all I have ever known. I was well treated. My brother Danar was my constant companion until his rite of passage. Then we seldom saw each other. He is now a warrior.
Silas had returned by then. He took Eidra's hand, pulled her upright. “The bath is ready Milady.”
Helgi waved Silas away, “Go tend to your chores, whelp. This job is not for the likes of young boys.”
Silas reddened, noticeable even in the dimly lit kitchen and scampered back up the stairs, his sandals slapping on the stones as Helgi turned to Eidra.
“Now let us make you presentable, dear.”
Loki touched the head of the squalling infant before him.
“I wish you eloquence.”
“For now, however, I wish you to be silent” he thought to himself as Vanar paraded the child around the room. As the ceremony came to an end, he chose to slip away to the Great Hall for the beginning of the feast. Sif had opted to wander off as well. Loki found her, a chalice of mead in her hands, surveying the groaning table in the Great Hall.
“I have no stomach for such pageantry unless it end here at the feast.” he sneered at the crowd now filing into the hall.
“If it were your offspring you would not be so cross.” Sif took a draught from her chalice.
“Are you offering, Sif?”
He knew the danger of speaking in such a manner, the walls often had ears. If Thor were to hear him, he'd likely end up over the table with Thor's fist across his jaw.
Her choking sputter around a mouthful of mead caused Loki to frown, angry at the implication of her actions.
“I would rather make love to my manservant, the very thought.”
Loki grabbed a chalice from the tray of a passing servant. “Must you make such base comparisons? I would bring you to unimaginable heights of ecstasy.”
Her laughter, melodic and sharp, made him look away into his own chalice.
“I doubt you wish to contend with your brother for position, besides you are concerned with no one but yourself, Loki, it would only be the means to an end for you. I desire an equal, not a dalliance. Besides, why would I choose you when I already have the crown prince?”
She set her empty chalice on the table, drifting into the expanding crowd while Loki sought a chair far from anyone, preferring to drink alone, nursing his wounded ego. He watched Thor, Sif, Magnus as they laughed and talked, toasted with the fine wine sent from Alfheim that the Allfather had distributed among the servers so that all would be able to share in the bounty. He had filled his chalice once again when he heard Thor begin to recount the details of their contest to the crowd. He knew it was too much to hope for that Thor's attention would not come to bear on him, looking up with a groan as Thor glided towards him.
“Ulris missed the match, Loki. I would ask you to replay it but I fear it might end much differently now.”
Thor gave a playful tug at Loki's hair, jumping back as Loki swung his hand around trying to connect with Thor's stomach.
“You have saddled me with damaged goods. Perhaps I should let you win, then it would be a burden lifted from my household.”
Thor mocked chagrin as he leaned over to Loki, “Whatever has happened brother?”
“The woman is a disaster, she speaks without permission, she is clumsy, knows not what to do.”
Thor clapped his hands together with a smile, “Very well, Loki, I will take her off your hands, IF you concede that the victory was mine.”
Loki started forward in his chair, “It was a fair won fight, you great stupid oaf! I will never concede to you.'
Thor patted his head causing him to grab for Thor's hand. “Then she is your trouble, brother.”
Thor and the others wandered off leaving Loki to brood as he held his cup aloft for more wine, his thoughts wandering down a convoluted path.
Eidra had built the fire in the grate to a small but roaring blaze. She lay on the pallet draped over with a heavy coverlet, gazing into the fire, thinking of her warm bed back home, her brown lynx, Astor, her father's gentle voice as he read aloud from his scrolls. Her eyes had just closed in sleep when she heard footsteps, slightly uneven, outside the doors. She watched the door, turning back to face the fire as she saw the tips of his boots cross the threshold, listening as his footsteps approached her pallet. She lay there tense, waiting.
Loki had partaken of more than six cups of wine and half as many of mead before he arose to retire to his chambers, weaving among the couples locked in amorous embrace, small groups sitting, talking. He nearly knocked one couple to the floor as they hid behind the long red drapes lining the walls. The atmosphere had served to arouse, sadden him, only adding to his anger that he should feel anything akin to loneliness and so he had slipped away.
As he approached his chambers, his hands at the door, he'd lain his forehead against the heavy wood, his head spinning. When he entered the bedchamber he saw the new servant girl asleep on the pallet. He had intended to crawl onto his bed and call for her to help him undress but as he stood over her, swaying slightly, he was acutely aware of how hard he'd become. He stroked himself absently through the fabric of his breeches, an unexpected thrust of his hips threatening to topple him forward.
He shrugged off his long coat, let it slip to the floor, breath coming shallow and fast. He knelt behind her, a trembling hand brushing the hair back from her face, the other now working the laces of his breeches to free himself. All at once he grabbed her by the arm and hauled her to her feet.
Her frightened eyes, her open mouth, hand raised to stop him from advancing any further, stoked the heat of desire building in his loins to a fever pitch. She let a high pitched squeal as he propelled her backwards to the wall beside the fireplace, jogging her head hard enough against the marble to star her vision, catch her breath in her throat.
He forced one leg between thighs, parting them easily, feeling her whole body tense as she sought to fight him. He lunged at her throat, his head swimming with a mixture of wine and lust, biting the soft skin hard enough to sting. She cried out, flailing at his chest with her hands, receiving a hard shove back to the marble in retaliation and a growl heavy with wine,
“Stand still, whore.”
He had freed himself from his breeches and was thrusting himself against her, his fingers dragging the fabric of her skirt up her legs, exposing her sex to the cool night air. He shoved his hand between their bodies, sliding his palm down her lower belly, drawing his fingers clumsily through the downy hair and the soft folds beneath, searching for the entrance he would soon fill. It was then that she began to cry, to beg him, “Please, Milord, do not..”
“Speak not again,” He whispered hoarsely, cringing as she let out a choked cry. He pushed away from her, taking one arm and turning her to face the wall, holding the hand pinned there as he lifted her skirt once again. In one forward thrust he had buried himself inside her, his body pressed at her back. She threw her head backwards with a screech, coming within a hair's breadth of connecting with the bridge of his nose save for the hand he had entangled in her hair. He yanked her head backwards to the side to whisper in her ear, “Make such a move against me again and I shall slit your throat as I fuck you, my cries of pleasure shall be the last sound you hear.”
But she was beyond all fear, all sense. She started to sob, feeling him throb inside her as he began to move, his legs shaking with the effort, biting at her shoulder, pressing her cheek to the marble wall. When she screamed, his hand left her hair to cover her mouth, pulling her head back to his shoulder, thrusts became rougher, more insistent, he was now groaning into her ear, ragged gasps belying his approaching climax. In one fluid movement he withdrew from her pressing between her buttocks with a lone cry and spending himself upon the small of her back, one hand covering him as he finished with a few shuddering thrusts.
His hand slowly slipped from her mouth to rest upon her throat as he fought to catch his breath. She dared not move until he backed from her, letting her skirt drop back into place. She slid down the wall to hide her face with her hands, her body aching, stinging from the force of his entry. Holding his breeches up with one hand, he stumbled to his bed, crawling up the mattress to his pillow and flopping face down upon it. He wanted to tell her to remove his boots, get his evening robe, stop her soft sobbing. He did nothing. By the time his thoughts had coalesced into sense, he was unconscious.
She crawled back to the pallet, looked at herself in the light from the fire. There was blood on the skirt of her dress, a small bloom but enough to be noticed. She would have to bring it to be washed in the morning. She stared at the bed where he now slept, his breathing heavy and even, wondering how far she could get from the city before they found his body in the morning. She thought then of her father, of the dishonor such an act would bring to his house and the tears threatened to start again. She crept into the bathing room, drawing water into the small stone basin to wash his seed from her back and buttocks, wishing she could scrub the memories from her mind.
When she finally made her way back to her pallet, he had shifted position in bed, having kicked his boots from his feet, wrapping himself in the blankets. She considered waking him to help him change for bed but his reaction now was likely to be much worse than his wrath in the morning and if he were to attack her again, she would undoubtedly kill him or die trying. It was safer for all to let him sleep. She lay down on the pallet again, enfolding herself into the coverlet, letting her tears carry her into a fitful slumber.