chadwick

Chapter 07: Final Preparations



A guard escorted Danielle to Mary’s chamber for cleansing. Lord Chadwick decided he wanted to enjoy her body again on this evening. Whenever she left his chambers a guard was always present, leaving her to wonder if this would remain to be the case after their wedding the following month. He had made the decision to marry her and only waited for word to reach his brothers, whom he wanted to be present for the grand celebration. He did not ask for her hand but rather told Danielle of her fate, as if she wished for nothing else.



When she asked if her family could be invited as well, he remained uncertain. It might be her last, best chance for seeing them and she yearned for their presence. Danielle held out hope that he would decide in her favor, although suspected his final decision would hinge on the outcome of an additional demand that would be placed on her at a later time. She had learned much about the man she was forced to serve, and kindness was not a trait that he possessed. Any consideration he might show always had a high price attached.



Danielle tentatively knocked and the chamber door immediately opened. Mary invited her in as the guard took up a position outside, but not before his eyes feasted on the beautiful woman who lived inside. Mary knew he was looking as did all the men when they were in her presence, but she ignored the stare, even teasing him a bit by lingering in the open doorway longer than necessary and flashing him a warm and gracious smile before withdrawing.



Once away from the watchful eyes of the guard the women excitedly hugged.



“Oh, Danielle, I was so worried about you,” Mary expressed her deep concern. “I listened to all of the whispers in hopes of learning of your fate. When I heard none I feared for the worst. And then just yesterday the guards spoke of a wedding and mentioned your name. Imagine my amazement! Congratulations!”



Danielle’s face displayed sorrow. “It is not the happy event it should be. I almost wish I was not spared. What life will I have with a loveless man that only wants me for my body? His heart is cold and his mind calculating.”



Mary wiped away a tear that trickled down Danielle’s beautiful but distraught face. “Do not speak this way. His decision has spared you a fate much, much worse. Be thankful you will remain alive and be cared for, so many other women before you desperately clung to the belief that such would be their fate. Be grateful, for you still have hope. It is my future that I now worry for.”



“No, nothing will change,” Danielle assured her unlikely friend. “You have a use, and you serve him well by doing what you do for him.”



“Of course you are right,” Mary played along as Danielle refused to face the truth. “I am sure we will both be fine. Let us get you out of those clothes.”



“And you, yours,” Danielle announced. “I have greatly missed your gentle touch and fully intend to enjoy it once more. I have made sure that we have plenty of time for pleasure, as well.”



Mary’s soft eyes and lips smiled warmly. “I would like this too. I have not been with anyone since, and have been so lonely.”



The women shed their clothing to reveal themselves to each other. Their eyes drank in the naked beauty of the other in the flickering light of the torches. Danielle’s eyes were drawn to the wondrous breasts and nipples which were in the midst of growing erect. She anxiously licked her lips as her gaze lowered and admired the rise of flesh just above Mary’s pink folds, fringed with golden curls that matched her long, flowing hair. When Danielle reached out Mary grasped her soft hand. They walked to the tub of hot water where each stepped inside and sank down.



“I will gladly serve you,” Mary said, realizing that as Lord Chadwick’s wife Danielle would be her master as well.



“You will be no slave to me,” Danielle reassured her. “Do nothing that is compelled only by my reluctant position as his betrothed. Do only what is driven by your love for me.”



The women leaned forward, gazing deeply into one another’s eyes as their noses touched. They professed love for one another in soft whispers that their ears alone could hear, for these were evil times and the castle had many spies. But not even the thick, dank walls could keep their relationship secret from an evil beast.



Their parted lips pressed tightly together. Both moaned in relief, having desired this for every waking moment since their parting. Warm tongues slowly entered wet mouths, the muscles eagerly entwining, passionately rubbing together. The air around them sparked with excitement as tongues licked harder and faster before fully thrusting inside. Their breathing and pulse rates quickened as their arousal rapidly intensified.



The surface of the wonderfully warm water rippled as Danielle moved her legs around Mary’s slender waist. Her hands lifted and cupped Mary’s firm swells, fingers lovingly squeezing and caressing the soft mounds, their tips swelling in size. Danielle’s thumbs teased the throbbing peaks of stiffened flesh.



Tears formed beneath Mary’s closed eyelids and spilled down both cheeks. Her heart ached as she suspected her days were numbered, but she was determined to enjoy their time together, fearing it could be their last embrace.



Danielle’s mouth shifted away from Mary’s luscious lips to slowly kiss a path toward Mary’s right ear. The servant turned her head and offered herself up to Danielle’s loving attention. Soft groans of pleasure sounded as warm lips and the flicking tip of a tongue eagerly teased the smooth ridges of flesh that bordered the canal. Mary’s body tensed and powerfully shuddered as tingling heat rippled through her flesh.



“I have missed you so much,” Mary confessed in a broken whisper. “My nights since have been spent longing for your touch once more. I am so grateful for this chance.”



Her fingers pinched and twisted on the hardened nipples. Mary gasped in surprise, twitching as a sharp sting jolted her body. The delightful tingling sensations that engulfed her loins intensified in the wake of the pain. Danielle smiled as she sensed the change in Mary’s pleasure. Her lips roughly devoured the ear as her fingers intermittently twisted on the aching nipples, slowly working Mary into a feverish condition.



“Oh, Danielle, you are driving me wild!” Mary declared in a desperate, broken voice. “You are so… different this time.”



“I despise the man but he has taught me many new things,” she revealed. “Useful things.”



Danielle moved her right hand into the water between Mary’s quivering thighs. The fingers gently rubbed on the outer folds of flesh before sinking into the hot valley nestled within. Mary moaned and stiffened in delight as the fingers probed her slit, loins filling with tingling warmth as the desire she longed for intensified.



“Oh, I have missed the pleasure of your touch,” Mary admitted as her body shuddered to the very core.



Tingling heat erupted in her loins as one finger pushed into the narrow opening and another rubbed on the enlarged nub. Mary’s hands grabbed the tub’s edge for support as her body weakened with desire. Hushed moans echoed off the walls as Danielle loved her dear friend as best she could.



Mary felt Danielle’s hands guiding her up. Rising from the water, sitting on the edge with her thighs shamelessly parted, a mouth quickly joined the fingers. Hot, wet lips and a tongue anxiously kissed and licked on the sensitized flesh. A second finger pressed at the opening and stretched the tight portal as it thrust inside. Oozing juice quickly coated the plunging digits.



Soft moans sounded as Danielle showed Mary the love she felt. Her mouth teased the enlarged clit as her fingers thrust inside the slick love canal. Mary’s legs quivered as her body tensed, joyous peals of delight embracing her beautiful nude form. Her breathing quickened and grew labored as the pleasure multiplied. Leaking essence smeared on Danielle’s face as she excitedly feasted on her forbidden partner.



Orgasm arrived quickly. After several months of sexual dormancy, ignored by Lord Chadwick and cast aside, her excitement intensified. Her fingers clutched the back of Danielle’s head as she frantically pressed her center against the wondrous mouth. Back arching, she looked up at the ceiling and softly cried out in joy. Mary’s entire form went rigid before erupting in uncontrollable spasms of sheer ecstasy. The release that had eluded her for so long was now at hand.



Danielle feasted on the rush of juice that otherwise would have dripped into the bath, eagerly lapping at the wetness as its tangy flavor filled her mouth. Her fingers kept pumping into Mary’s opening and the woman continued moaning in wondrous delight. Finally Mary slid off the tub’s edge and reentered the water, and as she did Danielle pulled away.



“That was most appreciated,” Mary said in a thankful voice before kissing Danielle’s glistening lips. Their wet tongues provocatively entwined in a heated embrace, sharing the womanly taste. “Allow me to return the favor.”



The two female lovers, believing their secret could be kept, indulged in the forbidden pleasure they both so anxiously sought.



* * * * *




In Rome, Brother Wallace pleaded his case in front of the Church Grand Council in his bid to obtain weapons with which to slay the half-beasts. He was met with considerable skepticism.



“Your interpretations of the prophecy are not widely accepted,” the Grand Council Leader stated. He himself was one of Brother Wallace’s most obstinate critics, and was angered by the interruption of normal daily business. “I believe we have shown a great deal of patience in this matter. Unless anyone else has anything to add, I suggest we move to chambers for a vote.”



Spying the council’s indignation, Brother Wallace’s heart sank like a rock to the bottom of a cold, dark sea. Faced with failure he offered a final plea. “Please, I beg of you, I know the danger humanity faces, and inaction will usher in an evil the likes of which no man could ever imagine!”



“Except for you, apparently,” the Grand Council Leader replied. His comment was met with raucous laughter by several of his robe-clad colleagues. “We will discuss and vote on this matter. A messenger will inform you of our decision.”



“Which rock did he crawl out from under?” one councilman humorously remarked to another, his comment overheard ny all.



“Please, all I ask for is holy weapons,” he reminded the members of the council as they arose and walked single file toward a heavy oak door. “Give us a fighting chance to stop this evil plan. You must see that I am righteous!”



The last Grand Council member in line stopped and looked back, his lips forming a small, supportive smile. His right hand opened and a small piece of crumpled parchment dropped to the floor at his feet before rolling under one of the chairs.



Brother Wallace glanced around the now-vacant room. Two guards stood upright at the public doorway, and two others at the chamber door through which the council members left. He quickly drafted a plan to retrieve what he believed was a note left by a convinced cleric that was clearly in the minority.



“Oh! Oh my!” Brother Wallace suddenly spoke aloud, as if realizing something was amiss. “My papers! My papers! They’ve taken my papers!”



He was an intimidating figure as he rushed to the closed chamber door. The unmoving guards responded quickly, blocking the portal with their muscled, colorfully dressed bodies and long spears.



“No! My papers!”



He anticipated they would knock him back, and when one guard did precisely that he fell at an angle that placed him beside the dropped note. As he arose he surreptitiously grasped the crumpled parchment and slipped it into a pocket.



“What am I to do?” he asked the silent and unresponsive guards.



He stood a safe distance away, rubbing his scalp as if overwhelmed with concern. After several moments he said aloud to nobody, “The messenger will bring them. Yes, of course, the messenger.”



Brother Wallace collected his belongings and left the chamber with a glimmer of hope lingering on the horizon. Once outside and well away from the prying eyes of the church, he reached into his pocket and smoothed out the parchment, which read, “Keep the faith. Not all is as it seems. More I cannot say.” He tore the parchment into pieces too tiny to reconstruct and ate them.



He waited for an answer in his boarding room, knowing better than to expect anything besides a resounding “no”. But the mysterious note gave him cause to wonder. “Keep the faith. Not all is as it seems. More I cannot say.” The note was vague enough to protect the author should it have been discovered by the wrong people, yet its vagueness also proved confusing for its intended recipient. Brother Wallace was unsure precisely what it meant.



Several prayer-filled hours elapsed when finally a tapping on the door interrupted his latest petitions to a greater power for assistance. He nervously arose to answer. A man passed him a note before quickly disappearing.



The note read, “The Church Grand Council denies your request.” Tears of frustration filled his eyes. He angrily crumpled the message and threw it at the wall with all of his strength. The wadded parchment bounced and landed at his feet. This was when he observed a message on the back. “Some believe. Church armory, when the owl sings. Godspeed.”



Brother Wallace continued his prayers well into the night as he sought strength and guidance for the obstacles that lay ahead. He knew that attempting to reach the armory was no small feat and carried with it great risk. Given the Grand Council decision, any attempt to reenter the church compound under the cover of darkness could be construed as an attempted theft, and his life would be quickly ended. But he was a man of faith, and placed his life in the hands of his greater power for the good of humanity.



“Evil must be vanquished!” he exclaimed in an attempt to still his trembling hands. “Please, give me the strength. I am the last and only hope. Do not guide me to the revelation and deny me the power to stop this.”



Later that evening, in the dark of night, Brother Wallace dressed in dark clothing for his holy mission. Keeping to the shadows as best he could, timing his movements with those of the guards, he made a slow but steady advance. Noises sounded that distracted their watchful eyes, but Brother Wallace could not account for the sources. He could only assume that his greater power was with him, an ally, in this final battle against evil.



With his heart pounding, Brother Wallace breathed a sigh of relief as he hesitated in the shadow of a wall across from what he believed was the armory door. The bright moon illuminated the cobblestone walkway between, making the approach risky.



“Hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo.”



The heavy oak door had a barred window, which slid open. Despite his fear Brother Wallace quickly charged forward, closing the distance. He was breathless with fear.



“Who approaches?” a hushed voice challenged his identity.



He silently prayed that this was not a trap and quietly replied, “It is I, Brother Wallace.”



“You must leave the city immediately after. Do you agree?” the faceless man questioned.



“Yes, yes, absolutely!” he eagerly concurred.



A bolt slid back and the door opened. He was handed a dark blanket inside of which were wrapped weapons of evil destruction. Leather straps were tied around the bundle, securing it. His eyes were drawn to the bulky package, not to the man that handed them to him.



“Bless you! Bless you!” Brother Wallace profusely thanked the stranger.



The door was closed and locked, but the barred window remained open.



“I have done you no favor, brother. Forgive me.” The window quietly slid shut.



* * * * *




The sight was overwhelming as he momentarily stopped his horse and glanced behind him at the sight of Italy laid out at his feet. He had been climbing the trail for quite some time, and at the top was rewarded with a breathtaking view. At the same moment he cautiously glanced down at the meandering trail he had already traveled. Brother Wallace could not shake the feeling that he was being followed, but by whom?



He checked the bundled weapons that rested on the animal’s back behind him. Reassured that they remained secure, he kicked his feet and got his tired horse moving again.



“You cannot possibly understand the importance of your participation in this event,” he said to his mount. “We share this burden and responsibility together.”



After traversing the mountain peak, he descended into a narrow valley. A stream trickled through it. Brother Wallace guided his horse to the edge of the crystalline water and dismounted, kneeling at the stream’s edge and gratefully drinking beside his horse. He looked up at the descending sun and decided this was an ideal location to make camp for the night.



“You are ready for a rest too, I am sure,” he announced as he lovingly patted the neck of his animal.



After pulling the cargo from the horse’s back he retrieved a thick blanket. Even in the summer the mountain air would get cold. Brother Wallace looked at the bundled weapons, sorely tempted to give them a closer inspection to see what it was that he was carrying. As he reached for the package an unexpected noise sounded behind him, causing him to turn and look.



“The church requests the return of its property,” a strange man announced. Although dressed in humble clothing, the man was muscular and armed with a dagger.



Brother Wallace knew better than to disavow knowledge of his holy cargo. “Yes, of course, take what you want and be off. Do not allow the evil threat to humanity curtail your mission!”



“You stand alone in your conviction,” the assassin stated. “Take it with you to your grave.”



As the man stepped forward, he raised his right arm in a motion to bury the dagger into Brother Wallace’s chest. Brother Wallace closed his eyes and mumbled a quick prayer in anticipation of a brief but painful ending. When a soft thump and heavy gasp captured his interest, his eyes opened. The sight he saw was nothing short of miraculous.



The sharp tip of an arrow was visibly poking through the front of the assassin’s chest, having had passed into his back and through the center of his heart. The man looked confused in the final moments of life before collapsing to the ground in a heap.



Brother Wallace sank to his knees and administered last rites. When he heard the sound of approaching footsteps he looked up.



Although they’d never met, he recognized the half-beasts as they had their mother’s eyes. “Drake! Frederick!”



“We sensed your peril and have been watching over you as best we can,” Drake spoke. “And I see we were not wrong. It has been our intention to remain unseen, but circumstances required our involvement.”



“Yes, yes,” Brother Wallace emphatically agreed. He appeared shaken after the near-fatal incident. “In what I believed were my final moments of life all I could think about was my failure. Now I see that a power greater than us is at work on our behalf.”



They acknowledged their agreement with a nod of their heads.



“Leave when you are rested, we will continue to trail you from a distance. Pray that he is the only one they sent,” Drake spoke.



Frederick picked up the bloody corpse and flipped the dead weight over a shoulder, after which the two brothers disappeared into the thick woods.



Left alone, Brother Wallace finally gave in to the shuddering fear he felt. Wringing his visibly trembling hands, he knelt on the rocky ground and prayed as never before.



* * * * *




The guard retrieved Danielle from Mary’s quarters and escorted her to the public chamber where Lord Chadwick was seated and attending to daily business. His eyes lit up when he saw her beautiful figure approaching.

“Mary does fine work,” Danielle exclaimed, putting in a good word for her intimate friend. “I feel so wonderfully refreshed. But I cannot help but wonder why you requested her special treatment on what appears to be merely another ordinary day?”



The evil grin that formed on his lips was frightening. Her blood turned cold. She could see his mind churning through his open eyes, and knew that nothing good would come from it.



“I wanted you to look presentable,” he happily replied. “It was wrong of me to deny what you have been so anxious for. I have arranged for your sister to spend time with you here at the castle.”



“Really? Christie? She is here?” Danielle excitedly inquired. In her enthusiasm she failed to notice the precise wording of his announcement. As she lowered her guard, evil rushed in.



“Captain, bring her in!” Lord Chadwick shouted loud enough to be heard beyond the chamber.



A hooded figure was pushed inside the open door. The slight form fell to the floor on hands and knees just a few meters in front of them. When the hood was removed Danielle instantly recognized her younger sister. Only four years separated them in age. In normal times she would already be married and carrying children, but the evil times ushered in great sacrifice and most men had perished in insignificant battles.



The traces of dried white remnants around her mouth did not escape Danielle’s attention. The guards treated Christie with the same harshness that she herself had received, yet this time, for curious reasons, had not bothered to wash away the evidence. Her heart sank from its highest point to the very lowest. Heavy, guilt-laced tears welled up in her eyes and ran down both cheeks.



Danielle turned to him and angrily demanded, “Why have you done this?”



“In your heart you already know. Look at your sister and tell her why, because she seeks the same knowledge,” he answered in the form of a riddle.



“What?”



“Do not act innocent. Today confirmed my suspicions,” he said, hinting at the truth. “Tell her why she is here, why I shall steal her virtue in exchange for your own decidedly un-virtuous acts with not even a man, but another woman.”



“What is he saying?” Christie cried out, her blue eyes wide and filled with fear. “I cannot understand!”



“I would rather you kill me!” Danielle exclaimed in horror to her betrothed.



Evil laughter followed. “That is your mortal mind’s rejection of the truth that will never become a reality. Not only shall you live, but you will bear my children and help me populate the face of the earth with an evil that will feast on all mortals.”



Lord Chadwick knew that his seed would continue to be rejected by her womb, but she did not, and used this knowledge against her.



Danielle was frantic. As hot tears stained her cheeks she gazed helplessly at her innocent sibling. Her guilt-ridden mind turned to concern for her female lover. “What is to become of Mary?”



Chadwick looked at his desperate companion and grinned. He smelled her fear as she visibly quivered beside him, the look in her eyes arousing to him as she knew she had been caught in his trap. He intentionally hesitated so he could fully enjoy her agony, penis stiffening as his delight in watching her suffering excited him sexually.



“What do you want to become of your precious Mary?” he asked in a humorous tone as he toyed with his intended mate.



“Do not harm her!” she begged. “Please! Do this one thing for me!”



“What of me, Danielle?” her frightened sister shouted in desperation as she witnessed the events unfolding and was hearing all that was said. “Why is it not I that you plead so passionately for? Unlike you, I have done nothing wrong!”



Danielle already knew that Christie’s fate was sealed. Her virtue would be taken in retribution, not her life. But Danielle sensed no such certainty about Mary, the woman she loved with all of her heart. The only thing she knew for sure was that Lord Chadwick would use Mary’s punishment to extract the maximum amount of pain, misery, and regret from Danielle as possible.



He found the scene quite pleasing…. so pleasing, in fact, that his penis swelled in size beneath his clothing. The wheels in his evil mind churned as he considered his many options. The corners of his thin pink lips curled into a twisted, mocking grin that slowly widened as he contemplated his decision.



Lord Chadwick glanced over at Christie. “She is such a beautiful yet delicate creature and questions your motives, Danielle. Look into those sparkling eyes and tell her why she kneels in this chamber wrought with terror. And then tell me which one you would save.”



He watched as Danielle’s fingers gripped the arms of the chair. They squeezed the polished wood so tightly that the knuckles turned white. Her upright form slumped forward in defeat as she softly wept.



Although Lord Chadwick could not see her face as she looked at her younger sibling, he knew the fight in Danielle’s heart was gone. She was an emotionally broken woman, one that would fully comply with his desires without hesitation. His evil victory was complete.



His blood-engorged cock throbbed with excitement. He thought fleetingly of his father William, and sensed the beast would have approved of his success. Chadwick next thought of his brothers, and wondered what had become of the mysterious last three that had gone untrained in the ways of evil. Loosening the clothing at his waist, he exposed his sizeable man-sword.



“Let us give your sister a lesson in oral subservience,” he commanded Danielle in a stern voice. His eyes shifted to the Captain, who stood beside the prisoner. “Although it appears she may have already received one before her arrival.” The comment shook the Captain, who shifted uneasily on his feet.



Danielle slipped out of her chair and fell to her knees before her abusive mate. As Christie quietly watched on like an attentive pupil convinced the new skill may be key to ending her suffering, Danielle’s soft fingers gently caressed his hard shaft and heavy balls. He surged even larger once inside the wet warmth of her luscious mouth. Savoring the sensations of joy that accompanied her tongue as it teased the crown of his stiff penis, he leaned back and softly sighed.



As she devoured him, his eyes gazed longingly at her sibling as she knelt on the cold stone floor. The long, shiny dark hair was disheveled but its condition could not detract from her stunning beauty. It framed a lovely face with rosy cheeks and a childlike grace similar in appearance to Danielle’s. Christie had the same full, moist lips that he so enjoyed. It was easy to imagine them tightly wrapped around the Captain’s hardness, fearfully pleasuring him. This vision was at once both enraging and arousing.



Christie’s body shifted forward, slender arms outstretching to support the slight weight of her petite form. As she did the front of her clothing innocently shifted down, allowing Lord Chadwick a view through the front of her bodice. He openly admired the hint of the silky breasts that lay hidden beneath, now partially exposed. The mounds rose and fell in rhythm with her heavy, frantic breathing. The fabric that cloaked the smooth orbs revealed signs of the hardened nipples as they pressed against the clothing and hinted at the size and shape of the glorious swollen peaks.



Even evil appreciated beauty and Christie was truly a sight to behold despite the smudges of ash and dirt that streaked her skin. Even disheveled she rivaled the stunning appearance of her older sister, made even lovelier by the look of naïve innocence in her crystalline eyes. Yet they also contained a fierce determination, a trait both siblings shared and one that he fully intended to exploit for his singular delight.



Reaching his hands down, his extended fingers sifted through Danielle’s silky black hair and encased the back of her head. He directed her movements with the practiced dexterity of an orchestra maestro and relished the tingling jolts of pleasure that rippled through his loins. Chadwick pumped his penis into her mouth, feeding it in until he felt the tip bumping at the back of her throat. He intermittently withdrew until just the oozing head remained inside, giving her swirling tongue to add to his significant pleasure. How he loved the pleasing sensations of her hot mouth licking and sucking with its full focus on the rounded crown.



As he cherished the sight of Christie’s sexy, virtuous form, his desire for her increased. He knew he would steal her virtue on this night after her freshly cleansed body was shaking with pain and fear, and looked forward to experiencing the joy she would bring him. That added to his delight and his penis swelled larger inside of Danielle’s persistently sucking mouth.



The hot, wet cavity felt wonderful as it raised and lowered around his cock. Finally her efforts coaxed the seed from his heavy balls. Grunting loudly in pleasure for all to hear, Chadwick’s moving semen was accompanied by joyful tingling pressure. As jolts of delight embraced him he ejaculated, filling her mouth with his thick, milky cum. His body twitched in powerful spasms as it issued the contents of his hairy sacs in steady squirts, which Danielle obediently drained and swallowed all that they contained.



He glanced down at Danielle, who at once looked up. She was still licking the inside of her mouth, collecting the remaining traces of semen and swallowing them with a fierce grimace to show her displeasure. Two milky rivulets began at the corners of her mouth and trickled down the sides of her chin.



Grinning widely, Chadwick reached a hand down and swiped a finger from the chin upward to one corner of her mouth, collecting the remnants and forcing her to lick the finger clean with a stern glare. Once she complied he cleaned the other side, watching in obvious delight as his fiancée completed the shameless act.



“Take her to Mary for a proper cleansing,” Lord Chadwick commanded the Captain as he motioned toward the younger sibling. He then added suspiciously, “Be watchful over them. I will tolerate no more infidelity within these walls.”



Within moments they were once again alone. Danielle remained submissive on her knees at his feet, nervous and uncertain how much anger toward her he still retained. In her heart she feared for both Mary and Christie, for she knew how evil Lord Chadwick could be. For the moment his lips formed a warm and reassuring smile, but she did not trust it. She looked away in disgust, remaining cautious in his intimidating presence.



Disliking being ignored Chadwick’s left hand clutched her chin and pulled her face toward him. Her eyes were reluctantly drawn to his where she quickly felt herself ensnared by his cold, hard gaze.



“You will watch Mary pay for her sins tonight, and your sister pay for yours,” he told her in a vicious tone that conflicted with the smile that continued to grace his lips. “You are out of sisters, Danielle. Next time you will pay with your own flesh.”



She glared at him hatefully. “There will be no next time, for I refuse to give you any more excuses to wield your evil power.”



His response was completely unexpected. The sound of his laughter filled the chamber, reverberating off the thick stone walls. “Your heart is not that strong.”



* * * * *




Brother Wallace breathed a nervous sigh of relief when he was once again back in familiar territory but he knew better than to lower his guard, for his proximity did little to lessen the risk of danger for his mission. Shifting uncomfortably in the saddle, he blindly reached a hand back and felt for the familiar shape of the weapon satchel. Reassured by its presence, he looked forward and ventured on.



He longed for the simple, peaceful life of the monastery, almost sorry he had chanced upon the prophecy. Its discovery and resulting interpretation had changed his life so completely from that moment forward. But he knew that a greater power guided him, and so he summoned the strength to travel on.



The trip had been long and arduous, but there was still so much left to do. Despite his yearning, Brother Wallace bypassed the quiet road that would have led him home. Instead he recollected the verbal instructions that Juliette had given him so long ago. She offered to sketch a map, but he declined the offer for fear of leaving recoverable traces that could divulge the deadly secret of their relationship. He would reach her tomorrow, for it was already growing late.



Unbeknownst to him, the brothers had already reached home. They found their mother, Juliette, both nervous and anxious. They sat down and recounted the trip, reassuring her that all was well. Despite their confidence she remained skeptical of the chances of their success, especially after learning of the failed assassination. There was so much danger to overcome.



Juliette revealed, “While you were gone I journeyed to the castle. He is to be married next month. Preparations are already underway.”



“Who is marrying?” Drake questioned, confused by the sudden revelation.



“Lord Chadwick,” she quickly explained. “Brother Wallace made no mention of this in the prophecy, and I do not understand what this means.”



“Opportunity,” Drake replied as a smile formed on his lips. “There will be an influx of visitors to the area. Our arrival will go unnoticed.”



“The guards will be numerous and wary,” she countered. “I am discomforted by this news. There may be even more implications which we are unaware of.”



“We can always delay until after calm returns,” Frederick suggested as he grew unsettled after witnessing his mother’s uneasiness.



“What of his brothers?” Drake suddenly questioned. “Will they all assemble for the ceremony? Imagine slaying them all at once!”



“I cannot be sure,” Juliette admitted. “I did not want to be seen as overly curious, but there was little mention of the brothers. Even if they did attend, would such a thing be possible?”



* * * * *




After knocking, the heavy chamber door opened. The Captain openly admired Mary’s stunning form for her overt beauty was truly captivating, from the shiny blonde hair and blue eyes down to the swell of her bosom and shapely legs. He thought it a waste leaving such a woman to her own devices. It was no wonder she turned to Danielle for affection during these dark times.



“I have another for you to cleanse,” he informed her. “Lord Chadwick has plans for her.”



“I am certain he does,” Mary quipped, removing the prisoner’s hood and gently straightening her long, dark hair.



“I am to watch. Chadwick has grown suspicious of your desires.”



He saw her flinch as he revealed the secret. A look of panic swept across her face before regaining control of her emotions. How could he have known of her passion for Danielle? She silently wondered what fate held in store for her now.



Mary showed them both into the chamber before closing the door. She led the frightened young woman to the center of the central room.



“And cleanse yourself as well,” he suggested with a slight laugh. “It will likely be a long night for you both.”



Mary was shocked by his statement. It was the moment she had known would be coming. Still, she could not suppress the intense pangs of fear. How would it end? Would she be a barracks whore, passed from soldier to soldier until one finally killed her? Or would she be executed outright for her transgressions? No, she decided, Chadwick would not be so kind.



The Captain grew impatient. Walking over he slapped the stunned woman across the face. She briefly cried out before dropping to her knees before him, tears rolling down her reddened cheeks. He pressed her mouth against his crotch, her lips feeling the warm bulge of his flaccid dagger and smelling the pungent, lingering odor of sex.



“Had you come to me instead of Chadwick’s betrothed for affection, you would not be in this frightful situation,” he pointed out, recalling the many times she had resisted his unwelcome advances. “It is a shame to see such a beautiful body like yours gone to waste. I have half a mind to make you drink my seed.”



His cock stirred. Mary felt it growing upon her full lips. Finally he released her and stepped back as she rose to her feet and began the task.



As much as she disliked doing so in front of the likes of the Captain, Mary removed each piece of clothing from the prisoner’s lithe form. The young woman cringed as first her untouched breasts were exposed, and finally the fur-fringed treasure nestled between her legs. The Captain gloated, obviously cherishing the view he had undoubtedly been longing for.



The dark-haired girl was gorgeous. Her slender, shapely body was adorned with upright breasts tipped with glorious nipples, a flat belly, and a tuft of dark hair that cloaked her center. A slight hint of pink showed through the dense curls. This would soon be shaved by Mary’s skilled hands for the demanding Lord Chadwick.



The young prisoner bore a striking resemblance to Danielle. And this was when Mary suddenly realized that the silent prisoner may have been a relation. Although no words were exchanged, the women shared a look. At the end the frightened young woman slightly nodded her head in a gesture of confirmation.



“What is your name?” Mary inquired.



“Christie. I am Danielle’s sister,” she answered.



The Captain sternly glared at them. He raised his right arm in a threatening gesture, grinning as they both shrank. “Silence! Cleansing does not require speaking!”



A knock sounded. The Captain opened the door and saw a guard standing at the threshold. A hushed verbal exchange followed.



He reported to Mary, “I regret that I have to attend to other business. I will return as soon as I can. Continue with the task, and do nothing more than it requires.”



The Captain left, glancing back suspiciously before closing the heavy chamber door behind him. He very reluctantly left the two women alone.



“You are why I am here,” Christie realized. “I am paying for the sins of my sister, sins she committed with you.”



Tears welled up in Mary’s eyes, stung by the words and the knowledge that yet another innocent woman would be viciously taken, this time as a result of her own actions. She nodded her head in confirmation.



“Forgive us,” Mary pleaded. “This is a cold, harsh place, and we only sought a tiny bit of love and solace to ease our desperate loneliness. If that was a sin, then we are all sinners here. Come, you are shaking. The bath will warm you.”



Christie defiantly stood her ground. “I shake because I am both frightened and angry, not chilled, as you suggest. I despise my own flesh and blood for what she has done to me!”



Mary’s guilt was suddenly replaced by an angry glare. Holding up a finger she emphasized her words by poking at Christie’s nose as she exclaimed, “You must do no such thing! Danielle has suffered terribly within these dank, oppressive walls. It is Lord Chadwick’s evil, meddling ways that are the cause of all of this. You are here for no other reason than for him to take delight in your sister’s reaction to your supposed punishment. He plays these twisted games as a form of entertainment. We are all nothing but his pawns, to do with as he pleases. Your presence here has nothing to do with any action your sister and I have engaged in, you must believe me!”



She grabbed the prisoner’s shoulder and roughly propelled her into the adjacent chamber where the hot bath waited. Tears filled Christie’s blue eyes as the wall of anger crumbled, revealing the fear inside that she had been holding back. With the façade shattered she turned and hugged the woman, crying on her shoulder.



“I am so sorry, I had no idea,” Christie apologized. “I am so very scared. Tell Danielle that I understand, and that I harbor no ill will. I love and miss her greatly.”

Mary kissed Geoffrey’s forehead, gently awakening him.



His wounded body stiffened as his eyes suddenly jerked open. “I must -”



Her hands held him down. “There are guards beyond the door. You are not to be a part of this.”



He thought of the two remaining holy arrows. “But I must!”



Tears clouded her eyes as she held him back. “I cannot lose you, Geoffrey!”



His body clenched. “All is as it should be. I must pay the price for my past cruelty.”



“Fine!” she angrily exclaimed, pushing away from him. “Perish if you must and leave me wanting! We will both be left to suffer!”



“How else shall this end?” he wondered aloud.



A knocking broke the uncomfortable silence.



“Yes?” he called out.



“A friar is here to cleanse the wound,” a muffled voice replied.



His muddled mind struggled to grasp the meaning of the words before recalling the image of the priest. “Yes, let him in.”



After Brother Wallace entered the chamber door was quickly closed. The man slipped a satchel off his shoulder as he approached the bed. He looked at Mary warily, uncertain of her identity or allegiance. Geoffrey sensed his suspicion and quickly allayed it.



“I trust her implicitly,” he assured the healer. “She knows everything.”



“What can you tell me of the planned festivities?” Brother Wallace inquired. “I must find the right moment.”



“The celebration dinner in the Grand Hall would be the optimum location,” Geoffrey believed. “This is where I was to kill Drake.”



“Then why did you destroy all but two? Who was the second one for?”



Geoffrey spit onto the floor beside the bed, as if he could no longer tolerate the bitter taste in his mouth. Afterwards he turned to the friar with his eyes ablaze with fury. “That bastard Chadwick would die as well, nothing would keep me from it!” He relaxed once more, the color draining from his face. “But now this cannot happen.”



Geoffrey hesitated before shaking his head with a pained expression. “He suspects me now and keeps me here as a prisoner, probably telling the others my wound has left me incapacitated. There is little that happens here that he does not somehow sense. I should have exercised more caution.”



“Tell me more of this Grand Hall,” Brother Wallace encouraged him as he opened the satchel and began removing fresh bandages and healing herbal salves.



“The room used to serve as a large church sanctuary, with stained glass windows and a high vaulted ceiling,” Geoffrey continued. “Two massive, beautifully crafted doors seal the main entrance. Once entering there are two stone staircases, one to the left and the other to the right. They lead up to a walkway roughly five meters wide which extends the length of the room on either side before joining on the far end. The walls throughout are covered with colorful tapestries.



“The long table is where Chadwick, his bride, and his brothers will dine, on the far end. It is positioned on an elevated floor a meter higher, the length of it facing the main doors. The guests will be seated at smaller tables before them. An army of servants will be on hand to cater to the needs of all those in attendance.



Geoffrey paused to catch his breath before resuming his briefing.



“There will be much occurring and it might be possible to slip past the guards. You should be able to get above Chadwick and deal a killing blow from there. But it would not be an easy task, unless you possess superior archery skills.”



“Chadwick is not my only target, all twelve brothers must perish,” he mumbled to himself without thinking, realizing too late that he had revealed more than intended.



“What? Are you mad? Do you command an army of assassins?” Geoffrey remarked in stunned shock. “One, perhaps two if luck is on your side… But twelve? This is sheer folly!”



“Will not the main entrance and stairs be heavily guarded?” the healer questioned as he carefully removed the bloodstained dressing, drawing a sharp gasp from his patient. “How could I possibly get past them?”



“There are a few still loyal to me, but you would not know them,” Geoffrey responded softly. “If I could only get a message to them somehow, to ensure they would be the ones on duty at a pre-arranged post.”



“I know of those you speak of and can pass on a message,” Mary volunteered.



“But what of the virgin, and Danielle? You are tasked to cleanse them for the wedding,” Geoffrey reminded her.



Her eyes widened as a broad smile appeared. “Yes, I had all but forgotten. You could not possibly remain present in my chamber after their arrival, it would be inappropriate!”



They both knew he had planned to observe a virgin’s cleansing, but the guards outside could be easily convinced of his need to be removed. It was with a twinge of disappointment that Geoffrey agreed to use the opportunity to get his message to a trusted fellow soldier. It would be best coming from his own lips anyway, for others, even those of Mary, might be suspect.



Geoffrey tried to relax as Brother Wallace began cleaning the stitching. It stung but he took the pain like a man and endured it in silence. After being cleaned it was carefully redressed.



“When you get to the entrance of the Grand Hall keep to the right,” Geoffrey instructed. “Try not to be seen by any others. After climbing the stairs stay close to the wall and walk all the way back. You will be directly above them when you have reached the flag and must keep low until the precise moment of attack. Once you are standing above the height of the waist-high ledge the archers will be quick to respond.”



The healer looked to Mary. “I will leave the remaining salve and dressings. Clean the wound daily for as long as they last in the same manner as you have just witnessed.”



As she watched, he emptied the satchel of all it contained. It would soon serve a much different purpose.



“Who are you? And how can we repay our debt for all you have done?” Mary asked.



Brother Wallace’s eyes softened and grew moist. While looking at both of them he spoke, “Who I am is of little consequence, but there is something you can promise that would lighten my heavy heart. The woman who accompanied me here, her name is Juliette, she is staying at the inn. See to her safety, for she alone possesses the remaining knowledge for destroying the evil which threatens us all. If Providence helps me kill all twelve, a thirteenth brother will still yet live. You must reserve an arrow for him.”



“We vow to do all we can,” Geoffrey responded, remaining doubtful a peaceful priest could possibly dispatch twelve powerful leaders in the space of a few seconds. “Our prayers will be with you.”



“And our deepest thanks as well,” Mary added.



“I must go, for little time remains,” Brother Wallace replied. “May luck be with us all if there is to be a future for humanity. We must not fail!”



* * * * *




Mary drew no pleasure from cleansing the virgin, who Chadwick had sent to her first so as not to tinge the clean water with the filth from his bride. It infuriated Mary to no end… why would he be marrying a woman he thought unclean to begin with? What did that evil man see in Danielle anyway? What part was she playing in his wicked intentions? There were only questions with no answers.



When Mary felt the naked young woman trembling she asked compassionately, “Has the warm water turned cold?”



“No, I am frightened,” she admitted in a spiteful whisper, adding, “more than you could possibly know.”



Her mind recalled the intense fear which gripped her form as Geoffrey pushed her toward the steps which she had refused to descend. A shudder passed through her body just from thinking of it.



“I know the fear, think not otherwise.” Mary dipped the rag into the cleansing bowl and scrubbed the woman’s shoulders.



“What did you do?” the virgin asked, eager for guidance and reassurance.



“I did what I had to, the same as you shall do. You will be helpless to do anything less,” Mary revealed.



She wanted to hold out hope to the frightened woman that perhaps Providence might spare her, but Mary could not risk speaking the soothing words. How desperately she hoped to see Chadwick’s evil empire and those of his brothers saved from their wickedness, but what good could a friar be against such powerful men? Against men who commanded armies?



How she longed to live a life denied to her by circumstance. Mary cherished the moments she shared with Geoffrey and yearned for a lifetime more of them. Would she once more know the freedoms that had been taken from her through cruel means? When tears welled up in her eyes and threatened to spill she dabbed them with a nearby towel and turned her thoughts to other things.



When Mary heard sobbing sounds she thought they were her own, but it was the virgin who was crying. She wrapped her arms around the virgin’s shoulders from behind and gently held her, lips lightly kissing the side of her face.



“I know what you feel,” Mary admitted as she comforted the stranger. “It is a fear so intense that it can be physically sickening and paralyzing in its intensity.”



The virgin’s head nodded. “What… What… What is your name?”



“Mary,” she answered while lovingly caressing her still-wet hair. “What is yours?”



“Margaret.”



“Margaret… that’s a pretty name.” Although the cleansing was finished Mary took a few extra moments to try and comfort her.



“It is my mother’s name as well, but she… She passed on three winters ago,” Margaret shared with a hint of sadness in her voice, indicating her loss was still a painful memory.



“I am sorry to hear this,” Mary responded in a soft whisper. The fingers sifting through the strands of silky wet hair descended to begin massaging her tight shoulders.



“What of your family?” Margaret inquired, grateful for the conversation that seemed to ease the oppressive fear.



“I cannot know, for I have been here for so long it is as if this castle is the only life I have known, with the first being but a pleasant dream that visits me while I slumber.”



She could sense Margaret’s hesitation. “You mean… you were abducted from a farm as I was?”



Mary’s mind briefly returned there, her eyes sparkling with a slight smile on her lips as she recalled that past life. “Yes, just as you were. Many of us have been, but the occurrences have grown much more common lately.”



“Why is this, Mary?”



As Mary lay in Geoffrey’s arms late at night they often spoke their minds freely about the gathering of evil and what it all meant. He was confident they were on the verge of some climactic event. But Margaret was frightened enough, why add to her long list of concerns at such a dark time as this?



“I believe it is on account of the wedding celebration,” she lied out of compassion.



Several moments passed in silence as Mary’s fingers squeezed and caressed. When her fingers dipped down and fondled the top of her bare breasts Margaret sighed and noticeably relaxed.



“That feels so wonderful… Please do not stop yet,” Margaret pleaded in a weak whisper. “Your gentle touch is soothing. Thank you for showing me kindness at such a frightening time, I will forever be indebted to you.”



Mary’s hands descended, soft fingers tenderly rubbing on the swells still firm with youth. They soon prodded the nipples, inspiring their rise from the dimpled areolas surrounding them. Margaret’s head turned, her steamy eyes looking invitingly upon Mary’s succulent lips. She could see the dancing yellow glow of the torchlight in them.



Their mouths met in a series of light kisses that soon grew passionate. Margaret, eager for more, parted her lips, extending her tongue in a tempting invitation which Mary quickly accepted. As the two tongues anxiously entwined in heated kissing, Mary’s hands cupped and squeezed on the smooth mounds, savoring their luscious feel.



“Little time remains,” Mary hurriedly whispered between kisses. “If you can finish quickly… I can try to give you… a moment of pleasure before all that will follow.”



The sounds of hushed moans and heavy breathing filled the room. Mary’s right hand lowered, moving between the thighs which anxiously parted. Her skilled index finger quickly found the enlarged nub it was seeking and immediately began caressing the same way she touched her own. Margaret’s body stiffened as a gasp of pleasure echoed within the thick walls.



Mary’s heavy heart longed for Danielle as she fingered the swollen nub. Not so long ago it was her mistress that she was comforting before sending her to face the horrors of the dungeon. To know that she would be seeing her once again lifted her spirits.



Soon Margaret was breathless. Her mouth withdrew from Mary’s as she leaned back against the tub, grasping the edges with her hands. The virgin’s hips began frantically thrusting as the pressure from the fingers quickly heightened the tingling heat deep within her loins, softly moaning as the water splashed around her writhing form. Mary’s other hand squeezed on a breast and pinched the hardened nipple, adding to her growing arousal.



“Oh yes… Uh!” her voice weakly cried out from the delightful sensations cascading through her awakened flesh.



Mary’s fingers rubbed harder and more quickly, matching Margaret’s frenzied motions. The heavy breathing turned into ragged gasps as Margaret approached climax. Her fingers tightened on the edge of the tub as the splashing grew steadily louder, her body appearing to linger on the precipice for several moments, causing Mary to wonder if her efforts would be successful.



A single gasp marked its arrival. Margaret’s body clenched hard before convulsing in powerful spasms of sheer ecstasy, biting down hard on her lower lip to stifle the cries of pleasure that begged to be heard. The splashing noise suddenly became louder as her twitching body released the sexual energy. Mary struggled to keep her fingers on the swollen nub as the virgin’s body shook in delight.



It lasted for several seconds. After ending her body fell silent and relaxed, the splashing stopping and only the sounds of heavy breathing could be heard. Mary moved both arms around Margaret’s shoulders and just held her, glad to have given the young woman a brief respite from her misery.



* * * * *




Juliette was eagerly waiting when Brother Wallace returned to their room.



“What news do you bring?” she quickly asked.



“I have a way in,” he confirmed.



“I shall get ready,” Juliette announced.



“No, you have played your part already,” he spoke in a firm voice that would not be deterred. “The Captain of the Guard is on our side and will help see to your safety.”



“But you will not get the weapon past the gates without me!” she argued as a sense of grave disappointment settled over her. “I want desperately to see the boys one last time, even if… even if it is to hold their dying bodies.”



Hearing her own words drove Juliette to tears. She sat down on the edge of the bed, covered her face with both hands and quietly sobbed. For months she knew this day would come yet she thought that she would be ready, but how does a mother prepare to lose those she holds so close to her heart?



She felt the bed compress as he sat down beside her, pulling her body into his arms, hands gently caressing the top of her head. “You have done so much, Juliette. If not for you none of this would have come to pass. My interpretations would have gone unheeded and evil would have seized the lands unchallenged… maybe not in our lifetimes, but soon thereafter. Because of your bravery and a shackle pin humanity has a real chance to win its struggle.



“You have done all you can, please allow me to do the rest. There is still a thirteenth son out there. I do not know if evil has a plan for him… perhaps, perhaps not. But this is a chance we cannot take. It is vital that you survive this battle to fight another day.”



Juliette’s hands lowered and her face lifted, face red and shiny with wetness. “I do not have the strength to go on, not without them.”



“Please, do not speak this way, for such words invalidate all we have strived so hard to achieve,” he encouraged her. “Do not allow our sacrifices be in vain. We are all pieces of a puzzle, and your turn to be played has not yet arrived.”



* * * * *




“It looks like you have seen a ghost,” Frederick quipped upon seeing the ashen color of Drake’s face.



Drake stared at him sternly, his eyes narrowed with angry suspicion. “We must talk privately!”



The two men returned to the guest chamber where they had been staying. After Drake closed and bolted the heavy door he turned on his brother. “Where have you been?”



“At the east check -”



“In the time since then!” Drake sternly demanded.



Frederick’s light mood was quickly flared into a fury of his own. “What is this about?”



Drake shook his head in disbelief, roughly grabbing his shoulder and pulling him to the corner of the room where the arrows were resting in plain view. He quickly counted what he saw before turning to Drake with a shocked expression on his face.



“Two are missing!” Frederick exclaimed, appearing to be as shocked as Drake.



“Two are missing… If it was only this simple,” Drake sighed with disgust before grabbing the quiver and upending it.



Frederick, his brain fogged with confusion, watched as ten arrows noisily clattered to the floor. The tips were still tightly secured inside of the ornately carved wooden boxes which shielded them from evil forces always at work. “Are you mad? What if one had opened? I hate the sound of those demon voices warning of their presence!”



“Then listen to this!” Drake snarled as he bent down, retrieving the end of an arrow before powerfully smashing the holy box against the hard stone floor. The wood splintered and gave way, exposing the weapon. He held up the tip and asked, “What do you hear now?”



Frederick hesitated before crying out in frustration. “I don’t understand!”



Drake grabbed Frederick’s throat and thrust him hard against the wall, pinning him there. He leaned forward until the ends of their noses were touching, staring into each other’s eyes. They stood that way for several moments, eyes glowing with redness.



“What do you know of this? Tell me now!” Drake demanded.



“Nothing, I swear it!” Frederick exclaimed. “I have no knowledge of any of this!”



Drake knew Frederick well enough to know he was speaking the truth. “Have you embraced your evil side? You have been getting quite cozy with our older brethren, I have noticed. And they seem content to leave me be.”



“No, I… I do not… They tricked me!” Frederick decided.



“They tricked you? What have you told them of the plan?” Drake asked, fighting against the internal rage that wanted him to cut off his brother’s head.



“Nothing, I swear it!”



“Then how were you tricked?” Drake persisted. “TELL ME!”



Frederick’s body deflated as his gaze lowered in surrender. “I thought I was one of them.”



Drake released his brother and stepped away. “You have been tempted by evil and strayed. I cannot trust you anymore… yet neither can they. All of the arrows are gone, ten replaced by useless tips and two are mysteriously missing. Do you not see the obvious, Frederick? They plan to kill us both!”



The sharp sting of betrayal from those he thought had accepted him had Frederick reeling. His mind, as if falling down a steep hill, clamored to grasp at something to steady itself. “What do we do?”



“I do not know,” Drake admitted, his anger receding and giving way to calmer thinking as the fingers of his right hand sifted through his greasy hair from front to back. “But whatever we do needs to be done carefully. If they do intend to kill us this means they suspect our motives. Above all else we must not lead them to the others.”



After a few moments of thoughtful silence Frederick spoke. “I do not want to die, Drake.”

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