Overhead, she could hear the sounds of the enemy celebrating. It was a raucous uproar, a hundred men dancing on the grave of her master, the great warlord known as Set. He had been slain by the leader of the barbarians. His power was broken. His clan was in chains.
His woman was their prisoner.
Sadira bowed her head, a grim and bitter scowl on her face. They had captured her and bound her with ropes, tying her wrists and ankles, and thrown her into her master’s bedchamber for their leader. She waited on her knees on the bed, stripped of her leather armor, left in only a thin cotton bodice and a flimsy loincloth to cover her nakedness.
But that was nothing new. She had been slave all her life to Set and his sadistic madness: she had been servant, soldier, consort and victim to his whims, a prize for his pleasure. To be honest she was glad he was dead; she had lived on her knees before him, exactly as she was now, and more than once she had wished she could be the one to sink the blade into his heart.
It was the cosmic cruelty of it that cut her to the bone. The lord of the leash and the whip was gone, and here she was, bound in his chamber still, waiting for her new master to take his pleasure from her. The leader of the barbarians—Bannon, they called him—was not the pitiless man Set had been. She knew him, had met him upon the field of battle before. He was a seasoned fighter, a daring leader, beloved among his own people. Under any other circumstances she might have been able to admire him… but tonight he as to be exactly what Set had always been: conqueror; oppressor; master.
The clans were like lion prides: just as a new male staked his claim by murdering the cubs and taking the mates of his rivals, so Bannon would take his inheritance by claiming everything that had once been Set’s, in violence and in pain. He would take the temple Set had built; he would kill the soldiers that had served Set.
He would bed the woman that Set had left behind.
She bit back the tears of fury in her eyes. From the hands of one tyrant into another's.
If this is the way it is to be, she vowed. Then next time it will be me putting the blade through his heart.
The sounds of the enemy’s victory went on overhead.
Bannon’s celebration lasted well into the night, and the sounds of the soldier’s triumph died out long before he descended to the inner chambers of Set’s temple. His people had left Sadira only a single torch when they’d bound her hands and feet and left her there to wait: at the sound of his footsteps on the marble stairs, she sat at attention, face set in a glower to welcome him to his conquest.
He was a tall man, far more muscular than Set had been. Her master had been a swordsman and a warrior, but Bannon was like the gladiators of ancient times—the kind of man that was set against wild boars and tigers, that wrestled vicious sea monsters and toppled great fortresses. His long, red hair was held back from his face by a simple silver diadem; on the left side of his chest, inked over his heart, was a tattoo in the vicious design of a lion's head. Appropriate. His skin was the color of dust at sunset.
She glared at him as he entered, eyes flashing with fierce disdain. He stood back, crossing his arms over his chest, looking her over.
“Sadira,” he muttered. “I remember you from the battles in the countryside. You were a skilled fighter… almost as good as my own men. I wish we could have met again under more pleasant circumstances.”
She bared her teeth, saying nothing—when he came close she lunged back, like a serpent dancing away before a strike.
“Please, Sadira,” he said quietly. “I am not your twisted master. Submit, and I will not hurt you.”
“We both know what you must do,” she hissed at him. “And if you cannot do it the men will never serve you. You will never control this temple or its people unless you have the stomach for their brand of violence.”
“I will not take you by force,” he insisted.
She laughed at him, a cold, vicious sound without humor.
“Welcome to Set’s kingdom, barbarian,” she said. “I am your slave. Your property. There is no need to call it force. You may do anything you like to me! Hell, do it with my blessing, even. But do not forget that I am also a soldier, and that Set himself trained me even as he made me lie before him, bound just as I am now, and the moment you untie me, I will do to you what I wish I had done to him.”
“So is it your wish to remain bound, then?” he mused. “I had hoped to win you over with sweet words and a gentle touch… I had thought perhaps this union could be peaceable, if not enjoyable, for both of us.”
“Does this look like a marriage feast to you?” she hissed. “Do you think Set's men will submit to you through diplomatic resolution? That is not the way this works.”
He sighed, watching her steadily for long moments. Carefully, he approached the bed, leaning down to take her chin in his hand and search her flashing green eyes.
“What did he do to you?” he asked softly.
“Ropes were not the worst of it,” she sneered. “Come now, barbarian… you have your prize, so take it.”
“I would have you willingly, Sadira,” he said, brushing a strand of her pale blonde hair from her face. “Will you reconsider your position?”
She studied him, scanning the lines of his face, his bristled jaw. This was the man who had murdered the warlord; his blade had cut out the heart of the tyrant who had bound her with more than chains and cords. He held her now, tied and helpless… but at the same time, he had set her free.
She felt a giddy madness unraveling at that; her sneer turned into a venomous grin. She spat in his face.
“Do it, or go back to your captive nation a disgrace,” she snapped. “Half a man, who can murder an insane oppressor but cannot tame his woman.”
He glowered at her. Slowly he brought up one hand to wipe away the saliva on his cheek. With a patient sigh, he gave her one last long, silent estimation.
Then, with brutal force, he slapped her across the face, throwing her to the mattress.
“If that is what you desire, slave.”
She wriggled backwards from him, snarling with anger. Lunging onto the bed beside her, he seized her and spun her away from him, wrapping one heavy arm around her throat and crushing her against his chest as he leaned close.
“They warned me his clan was built on the tenets of merciless dominion. Let’s see how well I live up to your last master.”
“You’re off to a poor start,” she managed to laugh, struggling in his hold. “Set would have had me bloodied by now.”
“Is that what you prefer?” he asked. He tightened his hold around her throat—air became suddenly precious and her heartbeat quickened. Letting go of her wrists, he reached down to his belt and retrieved his dagger, flipping it up and skating it across her cheek. Dark red droplets spattered across the bedsheets.
“There,” the savage growled in her ear. “First blood… does it feel like losing your maidenhead all over again?”
“Hardly,” she choked.
He unwrapped his arm and she gasped in cold, precious air—too quickly, though, he had seized a spare length of rope, wrapping one end around his palm and looping the other around her neck, twisting it into a leash.
“I have heard Set enjoyed choking his women, to keep them in check,” he muttered.
“Among other things,” she murmured. “Do you think you have the balls for it?"
He yanked the rope once, fierce and furious, as he shoved her down against the bedding.
“I am disappointed that you choose not to yield,” he muttered. “This could have been so much easier.”
“Would you have preferred it to be easy?” she hissed.
One hand slipped under the fabric of her sarong, grabbing at her soft flesh and forcing her hips into the air—she uttered a short cry of protest and he yanked the leash, silencing her. She pulled back, thrashing in his hold, until his hand came down with bright, stinging pain on the vulnerable flesh of her buttock.
“Ah!” she cried, the first tears springing to her eyes—they were not tears of sorrow, but of sudden vicious excitement… Sadira was surprised to find this struggle thrilling.
Bannon squeezed her tender hindquarters with rough affection, growling in her ear.
“You had the choice,” he reminded her. “I could have untied you, laid you back on these pillows and made love to you like no other man has done before. You wanted to play rough.”
“You’d better get used to it,” she hissed. “If you want Set’s kingdom for yourself.”
“Maybe all I wanted of his kingdom was you,” he growled, pressing harder against her. “I just didn’t know you were such a glutton for pain.”
She realized with sudden bright, fluttering surprise that she could feel his growing erection, adamant against her flesh. She tried again to wriggle out from under him, straining against the ropes tying her hands: he yanked the leash hard enough to pull her up straight on her knees and she choked, gasping for breath for what seemed like several desperate moments—for one bright, panicking instant, she thought he might actually strangle her to death.
The thought made her wild.
Finally he released her, letting her drop to the bed sucking in desperate gulps of air. Flighty euphoria was lingering at the edge of her senses, making her heart beat faster, making her skin tingle. She stared out of the corner of her eyes at him, hardly able to believe he had come so close.
He pinned her down, holding her by the neck against lush animal pelts as she panted.
“Are you going to fight me the whole way, Sadira?” he whispered. “Because I fought on the battlefield against hundreds of men today… I killed scores of your warriors and I tore the still-beating heart from your master’s chest as he died, and I can more than handle a little trouble from a common slave.”
“I’m not so common as you might think,” she promised, a crazy grin coming to her face. “And if you want to find that out firsthand you can go ahead and untie me.”
“I thought you wanted to remain bound,” he growled.
“That was a warning for your safety, barbarian.”
She tried to roll out from under his grasp, and he let her up just long enough to allow it—the instant she was on her back, though, he brought his hand down on her throat again, constricting tightly.
Between her thighs, a flutter of treacherous awakening stirred up, and she shook her head wildly from side to side.
By the gods, this man was more than she had expected!
Bannon loomed over her, watching her writhe. His free hand drifted under her sarong, to the place of her sex, and he tested her there, finding her curiously wet.
“You’re enjoying this?” he muttered. “He’s made you somewhat of a deviant, hasn’t he?”
She grinned at him, then spit at his face.
Bringing his free hand back up, he seized the collar of her bodice and tore, ripping it away from her body and exposing her flush, excited breasts. The pert little peaks of her nipples were viciously erect; she whipped back and forth beneath him, struggling to escape as he ran the backs of his callused knuckles against the sensitive skin, teasing her, tickling the darker ring of her areola with mocking patience. The sensation brought with it bubbling, almost hysterical laughter—she trembled, unwilling to let him see it, shuddering madly and trying to drown the unruly feeling of giddiness.
“Get off of me—” she strained.
He removed his hand from her throat, letting her breathe freely again. She gasped desperately, swallowing air as tears streamed down her face, bitter euphoria washing her senses—her body felt light, faint, almost drugged; her arousal heightened, eager yearning blooming in her loins.
Both his hands were on the warm globes of her breasts now, exploring them, greedily adoring them. The rough rope looped around his palm scraped her flesh, sending tiny sparks through her. He lowered his face, nuzzling against the heated skin, pressing her breasts together while he traced his tongue over the stiff peaks.
Sadira closed her eyes, moaning despite herself as her body betrayed her, responding to his savage attentions: the smell of him was wild and strange, pungent with sweat and desire, dangerous with the coppery hint of blood from his battles—still dizzy from his strangling, inexplicably intoxicated, each breath she drew was inundated with scent and taste, and all she could sense was him.
When Set had bound her, when he loomed over her and beat her, it had been an act of terror. She had feared him, feared his vicious torture, cowered at his attentions. Now she found each harsh grab, each smart slap, brought a rush of indignant pleasure: she liked being subjugated by this savage beast—she liked his fearsome domination.
Had her master truly perverted her mind?
Or was this invader simply too beautifully brutal to resist?
“Sadira,” he muttered against her flesh, the heat of his breath sending prickles through her skin. “I will ask you one last time… will you submit to me peacefully?”
She swallowed the thick lump in her throat.
“I am the soldier and the slave of a conquered nation,” she panted. “And I am not yet ready to yield.”
She lifted her head, staring down at him between her breasts.
“So I suggest you get used to this.”
He returned her glare, and pressed his hips closer to hers—his stiff member was raging beneath the leather of his breeches now, hard and firm, unmistakably eager.
“That was your last chance, then, slave,” he said. “Apparently you prefer to be punished.”
“He’s made me somewhat of a deviant, hasn’t he?” she managed with a bitter laugh.
As he shifted positions to shed his leggings, she tried to escape him, pulling herself up to her knees to gain leverage again—Bannon caught her, snapping the leash and pulling her towards him, down to the mattress, and landed another smart slap on her buttocks, making her cry out. She shuddered, lying on her side, glaring up at him as he freed his straining manhood at last.
She was stunned by the sight of it: heavy and thick, darker than the rest of him and dangerously endowed. His was hooded, wild and untrimmed, unlike the men of Set’s clan who had all been shed of their foreskin from birth; he stroked it in one fist as his other hand cradled the back of her head, but before he could do what he intended she turned her head sharply to the side.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she warned him. “Unless you want to find out how hard I bite.”
“I’m not afraid of you, woman,” he assured her, sending a shiver down her spine. Taking his hand off his member, he traced her lips with two fingers, and when she didn’t open her mouth he forced it open, slipping his fingertips past her teeth. She could taste the dewy bitterness of his seed already on them; she closed her eyes again, and bit down with a vengeance.
He jerked his hand out of her mouth and slapped her again—this time a wild wave of frenzied laughter escaped her, and she was too drunk with it to stop him as he grabbed her head in both hands, pressing his thumbs down hard on her jaw, and forced his full member into her mouth.
He was too big for her: she gagged trying to accept him, choking on his stiff, demanding flesh. She tried to make good on her promise and bite but his thumbs dug in, sending deep pain through her face—she cried out around him and bitterly submitted; as she relaxed in his grip, Bannon found a steady rhythm, forcing his member all the way to the back of her throat, easing slowly in and out as she begrudgingly obeyed.
More tears—most of them from the sheer difficulty of accepting his prominent member—trailed down her face. She was angry… angry and aroused, hot with passionate rage.
And underneath that… she liked it.
She tried to pull away, and surprisingly, he let her go, watching with approval as wet strings of saliva dangled for an instant between his throbbing member and her wet, excited mouth. His hazel eyes were warm, practically smoldering like lit coals.
“Down,” he ordered, tugging the leash. She resisted and he pushed her ruthlessly to the bed, holding her by the shoulders with one hand and striking her on the haunches again with the other—the flesh stung, reddened and sore; she groaned, twisting uncomfortably against her bonds. Her head spun; she burned through and through, rage and yearning coiled tightly in her belly, her flesh racing with electricity everywhere he touched her.
She had no warning as Bannon tore away the flimsy fabric of her loincloth, and his hands roughly parted her aching buttocks. She shrieked with outrage as she realized what he meant to do—like a burning iron, his shaft invaded her tight, resisting ass.
“Bastard!” she screamed: fresh tears of pain sprung to her eyes and she clenched her teeth. “Is this how the women like it among your clans?”
“I wouldn’t reduce a woman of my clan to this,” he growled.
His substantial endowment felt as it if would tear her open—she braced on her forearms and cried out as he thrust; the force of his rhythm was merciless, making her cringe beneath him.
“How’s that for a man who can’t tame a woman,” he growled. “Do you think your clan will accept my rule now that I have had their master’s whore crying beneath me?”
“Please—” she begged; As he thrust she felt her body yielding, unable to fight him, helpless to deny his swollen member. “Please, Bannon, you win—”
“Oh, I win?” he scoffed. “Is that all it takes, Sadira? Are you so easy to subdue after all?”
“It hurts,” she whimpered. Even as she said it though, the hurt was climbing towards astonishing bliss. She found herself arching back—as she relented he slipped in further and she hitched in a gasp of surprise: pleasure flooded her senses, gilded with stinging pain. He thrust in to the hilt and she cried out again, this time in joy, and pressed herself back against his demanding frame like a beast in heat.
His hand tangled in her hair and he pulled her head back—she came up to her knees with an astonished yelp, as Bannon wrapped his arm around her hips and bent over her shoulder; his tongue traced the gash he had left with his knife, tasting the blood, renewing his forceful pounding as he growled eagerly in her ear.
“How do you like the feel of barbarian steel, witch?” he growled. “Does it hurt as bad as the sorcerer’s rod? Is your perverted lust for punishment satiated by its girth?”
She shut her eyes, uttering a long and suffering groan. She was lost in the pleasure by now; the pain was only a sparkling afterthought, a vicious but beautiful finish.
“More,” she begged him. “Oh, barbarian, give me more.”
He drove it into her almost vengefully, then with hateful spite he shoved her down, tearing himself from her with afresh burst of bright hurt. As she fell forward, catching herself on her forearms, he crouched over her, hands on either side of her.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his right hand reach for the knife he had discarded. She jerked to the side with a tiny squeak, but there was nowhere to go—the tip of the blade pressed against her chest.
“How far does one go with his slave?” the man mused, idly tracing the knife along the curve of her breast. “How much farther can you stand to be taken, Sadira?”
“You’re starting to measure up, Bannon,” she panted, feeling the prick of the steel tease her excited flesh. “One might think you somewhat enjoy this, as well.”
He leaned closer, crushing her against him, digging the edge of the blade deep enough to cut just a little, sending a trickle of blood between her quivering breasts. She moaned.
“You have won,” she whispered desperately. “Take what is yours, warrior.”
“I told you I wanted you willing,” he snarled. Slowly she sagged against his strong, rigid arm, and he moved it away from her without a word, letting her roll onto her back along the rumpled sheets.
“Oh, I’m more than willing now,” she whispered. All over, her body throbbed with petulant, numbingly delicious euphoria—in humble supplication, she raised her bound wrists over her head, offering him her full, vulnerable nakedness.
“I am yours, Master,” she whispered. “Please… have pity and show me the bliss you promised.”
He studied her carefully, prowling slowly across the bed towards her, those smoldering eyes full of wary distrust. She lay very still, patient and obedient beneath him—for the first time in her life she was happy to submit… eager to submit. It was no longer out of fear, but out of sore, beautiful want.
The fighter kept his eyes on her as he lowered his face to her skin, to the dulling ache of the wound he had opened down the center of her chest: with careful, indulgent charity, he traced the shallow laceration with his tongue, following it between the mounds of her breasts. She moaned, pressing against him. As he nuzzled the wound, he skillfully maneuvered himself over her body. The hand with the knife in it reached under her thighs, prompting her to lift up her legs, and he cut the ropes binding her ankles without ever looking up from his lovely adoration. Once her heels were unbound, he forced her thighs apart with his knee, putting the knife to her throat.
“I won’t trust you that easily,” he muttered. “You play nice but you’re a deadly little creature.”
She could only manage a half-crazy grin, feeling the edge of the blade tickle her skin.
She was magnificently wet as he slipped inside of her warm, quivering sex, the motion slick, smooth—welcome. She let out a heavy, thankful sigh as he filled her, big enough to bring her just to the edge of pain and then withdraw with slow, skillful attention. She lifted her hips to meet him, tilting her body to accept his—she was dizzy with bliss, as his tongue found her nipples and he once more favored them with gentle kisses and affectionate nuzzling.
“Oh, Bannon,” she moaned.
“Don’t get too comfortable, slave,” he warned. She lifted her head—the room spun, and she grinned at him.
“Why?” she purred.
“I offered you this to begin with,” he reminded her, sliding himself in, inch by glorious inch, setting her body aglow with warm, blooming pleasure. “I told you I wanted to make love to you, to make this union enjoyable for the both of us.”
“Yes,” she murmured.
Without warning, he slid out of her and grabbed her by the ropes around her wrists, pulling her from the bed. With harsh cruelty, he pushed her up against the stone wall instead, looping the ropes around her wrist to a hook set in the wall—she had to stand on tiptoe to keep her weight off her arms.
“Mnnnn!”she protested as his hand clamped down over her mouth. Again the knife was at her throat, the edge of it just barely kissing her flesh.
“You had your chance for that,” he growled. “But you wanted me to prove that I could tame you and by the gods I will prove it.”
She tried to shake her head, thrilled and frightened at the same time, her heartbeat racing. He trailed the tip of the knife down the contours of her breasts, down the flat of her belly, like an artist drifting a paintbrush across the canvas; when he had teased her with it on one side he switched to the other—her skin prickled and she jerked away, making him press down harder.
“Bannon—” she moaned as his grip around her mouth faltered momentarily. “Please… I submit…”
“Too late for that, slave.”
He switched the blade to hold it in his teeth, and the hand over her mouth slipped down to grasp her neck. With his other hand, he lifted her leg, and guided his prominent member back into the eager wetness of her sex.
“Oh!” she moaned, arching against him. He held himself steady, refusing to indulge her, until she bucked her hips at him, pleading him for more. His grip around her throat tightened, leaving her only a little freedom to breathe, as he drove himself hard into her, pounding her against the stone.
“Moan,” he ordered. “Let the men of the temple hear how the barbarian fills you, how he satisfies your twisted yearning for pain.”
She obeyed, raising her voice in pleasure as he thumped her against the cold granite, her reddened buttocks aching with renewed abuse; his shaft plunged deep, pushing her to the limit. Unable to grasp at him, to embrace him or pull him closer, she surrendered entirely, softly opening her whole body up for him to beat mercifully with his lustful pounding. She tried to lift on leg over his hip—but on one foot she was unable to relieve the strain on her arms. With sudden eagerness, she leveraged herself on him and lifted the other leg around him, crossing her ankles behind him and suspending herself between his glistening body and the torch-hook by which she hung.
Bannon dropped his knife, putting his palm flat against the stone behind her, crushing her against it as he ravaged her. She moaned, dizzy with the heat of their bodies uniting, fighting one another as they both strove to hold off their climax—suddenly Bannon’s teeth sunk into her shoulder and she screamed, arching desperately against him, tightening her legs around him until it felt as though his member would tear her apart.
He dropped the hand at her throat and placed it, too, flat against the stone; his thrusts intensified, pounding once, twice, three times, so hard she cried out as her body was driven against the stone. He was at his climax then: she felt him exploding within her, hot, bitter semen flooding her body, his fearsome member throbbing deep inside her sex. The resounding shudder set off her own reaction and tore through her like a cymbal crash, uniting the pain and ecstasy, breaking every last resistance.
He held her there, hanging between him and the torch, open , forced to hold him inside of her until the last tremor faded and he was satisfied.
Finally, he relaxed, backing away from the stone and letting her breathe. She gingerly unwrapped her legs from his waist, feeling the slick, wet heat running down her thighs—blood and semen, the heady perfection of the claim he made on her.
“The bitch is tamed then, I hope?” he muttered, turning away from her.
“You did what you had to,” she murmured, dizzy and weak. “You are indeed the rightful master of this house.”
Bannon retrieved his knife and reached up to cut the ropes around her wrists. She crumpled to the ground, no strength left in her.
“Still intend to put a sword through my heart?” he asked. She shook her head, staring at her hands on the stone.
“You are not like him,” she whispered.
“No,” he said coldly. “Never.”
She nodded. Then, surprisingly… he was offering her his hand.
“Come on up, then, girl,” he said quietly. She accepted his help, letting him lift her to her feet, and guide her gently to the bed.