“A Courtly Summons” (1100 words)
The sleepy quiet of Karstwald village is shattered by the harsh sounds of heavy-booted halberdiers kicking down doors and dragging eight young people from their family homes: six men, two women.
“Orders of the Countess!” is the only reason their protesting parents are given.
Even this pathetic, vague excuse is only given after repeated shouts and then, only offered begrudgingly. It is almost as though the guards think the peasants should be eternally grateful that they are being told anything at all.
Ignominiously herded onto the back of rickety carts, they are driven several hours to the Castle Von Ahlenberg. Then ushered individually into plush, fire-lit rooms, they await further orders from their rulers.
Coming from a life of fealty -and also witness to the new punishments which the Count deals out to criminals- the young people’s feelings are ones of bewilderment and muted subservience, not anger.
Separated from everyone by solid oaken doors and panelling, Jurgen Mafeal cannot hear the harsh soft clicks of heels upon marble as the Countess advances to meet him; her first invitee.
His eyes widen and he spins around as the engraved brass door-handle turns and she enters. Her body is clasped in a figure-hugging gown, coloured green after her aged husband’s household banners.
“You work my husband’s lands and you also pay homage to my father, the Duke..?”
“Yes Milady!” comes his ragged voice.
“Then you shall do as I order without question, no matter what I ask.”
Though her noting of social status is unnecessary, the statement falls heavily upon him, snaring him just as securely as a gallows rope about his neck: refusing Lord -or Lady- Von Ahlenberg anything now carries the death penalty.
“I have a sensitive question to ask, yet I know you shall answer it: you are innocent, yes..?”She enquires softly, encouraging him to drink the large glass of wine she proffers.
Though taken by surprise by her forwardness, there is something about the Countess’ will which cannot be denied.
Swiftly draining the goblet, he responds: “Yes, Milady. My fiancée Ensadora and I are saving ourselves for the wedding next Spring.”
The noblewoman’s face falls at his reply, yet her shadowed eyes cannot hide a satisfied glint which tells him she knows more than him. “Is she the same Ensadora from nearby Kaiterheim?” the Countess asks.
“Yes Milady, the Mayor’s daughter. We were engaged last Autumn. Why? Is something wrong..? Or...is there something which I should know about her..?”
The faltering, yet earnest, manner of Jurgen’s question recklessly reveals his deep care for his wife-to-be. Kristen ponders whether she should reveal all she knows about his intended.
However, an immediate pressure at her temples decides her against disclosing everything. Instead, she holds back the tastiest morsels; ones to be reviewed again in later delectation.
“Perhaps it is not for me to say...” she teases. “God! Everyone hereabouts knows my old, fat husband! More than anyone, I know there are times when wives must keep secrets.”
Offended by the Countess’ insinuation, Jurgen skirts around the woman’s revelations and replies strongly: “No! Ensadora and I have no secrets for each other! We are in love! I will not hear such an accus..!”
Kristen’s hand closes around his neck, cutting off the remainder of his outburst. She shoves him back into the couch and pins him there.
Damn him! His denial brings her plans forward before their time!
Despite his muscular physique, Jurgen is unable to break free from the slender grip. He tells himself that her anger is the reason why her small frame possesses far more strength than it would appear.
Releasing his bruised throat with a look of shame upon her face, the Countess scolds herself, even though he has no right of redress against her assault.
“I have been unkind to you...I can see that. I could make things better if you wished?
"My chambers are next door. As your ruler, I know you would not deny me.
“Anyway, you wouldn’t be giving me anything which your betrothed hasn’t already eagerly discarded as though it -and you- meant nothing to her...”
Feeling utterly betrayed by his only love -and powerless to refuse the order- Jurgen unwittingly allows the Countess' lies to lead his submissive body to her darkened chambers. As the heavy doors close, he fails to hear them lock behind him.
She lights several candles which illuminate her winsome form and picks a huge red apple from a nearby fruit bowl, turning towards him.
Maybe it is the earlier fortified wine, but his eyes must be deceiving him, because the flickering candlelight gives the usually dark russet fruit a deep, solid gold glow.
Seeing him shake his head at the illusion, she enquires of him:
“Have you ever seen me eat? Few have. It is quite a sight! I am a generous hostess...I shall not disappoint you.”
Before he can react, she quickly drags Jurgen to the far side of the bed, where he cannot be seen from the doorway. He feels strangely numbed and weakened, unable to resist her encouraging limbs. Is this some new kind of heady perfume, perhaps?
However, where she earlier promised seduction, her swift actions revealed themselves to be nothing more than blindingly-quick assaults and savage rending of his young flesh.
No-one in the rest of the castle will ever hear his screams, let alone the soft slurping sounds as she eats her gluttonous fill.
When it is over, she does not even look down at the twitching mass of broken bones and ribbons of flayed skin which formerly called itself a human being.
Instead, she changes her blood-sodden dress, then moves to another room, ready to resume the faux-seductions, punishments and brutality all over again.
Her thirst is insatiable, yet she has arrogantly deluded herself that tonight will see the end of it.
Driven to mete out ‘justice’ for the capture and abuses she suffered at the hands of Karstwald’s militia when she was their age, she must wreak vengeance upon the remaining eighteen-year olds tonight: for tomorrow marks the two hundredth anniversary of those abominable crimes.
Wearing the illusory guise of Countess Kristen Von Ahlenberg, Sharessa (and her master Slaanesh) know intimately that innocence is nothing but human frailty: a so-called ‘treasure’ which can be traded, sacrificed, broken, or thrown away...whatever the circumstances, each garners equal measures of satisfaction and sustenance.
Whether such a thing is given up voluntarily, or whether it is ripped and torn away from an unwilling victim, both are equally pleasurable and the difference between them is nothing but mere semantics to such entities.
Urgently trying to trace any living relatives of Private Sam/Samuel "Jock" Wilson (Black Watch, No. 6 Commando, UK Army Service ID 2764432, died 10.06.44). Any info/suggestions gratefully received.
"Mockles! Pent on silpen tree, blockards three a-feening. Mockles! What silps came to thee, in thy pantry, dreaming?"
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Last edited by andygorn; 12-25-12 at 10:09 PM.