Authors: Fannie Tucker
Virgin Prisoner: Bred to the Beast
By Fannie Tucker
Copyright 2012 Fannie Tucker
This story is the third and final part of a trilogy spanning multiple generations, a tale of lust, betrayal, and revenge.
Although the events in this story occur before those of either
Virgin Sacrifice: Bred by the Beast
or its prequel,
I believe you will enjoy these stories most if you read them in the following order:
first, which you can find on Amazon
which you can purchase
The story below,
should be read last.
Rela Dahr stepped back from the bubbling pot of greenish liquid that she'd labored to create, then tried not to fidget as Magdha examined her concoctino. If the Wise Woman found this attempt lacking, Rela would be forced to start over, and that meant another three or four hours bent over the bench with mortar and pestle.
Her silk dress was already rumpled and stained; she hadn't expected such a difficult lesson today
, and her hands had shaken so much that she spilled the niproot down the front of her dress. The bright yellow powder had even gotten on her petticoat, somehow. Magdha had scolded her for wasting her precious herbs, but Rela was more concerned about getting back to her apartments early enough to change into another dress.
King Volgar had summoned all the nobles in the city to Castle Darkmoon tonight f
or a feast in honor of his son, Prince Malgar. As the daughter of an important Baron, Rela more than passing familiarity with the royal family, but she found Malgar as domineering and brutish as his father. Nevertheless, they were royalty, and for the sake of her father's allegiance to the throne, custom demanded that she treat them with utmost respect. Now she worried she might be late to the feast, or worse yet, arrive in a dress stained with herbs and powders.
The stoop-backed crone
scrutinized the potion with hands planted on her ample hips. After taking a deep sniff, she frowned for a moment, then turned her sharp black eyes to Rela. The younger woman let out a relieved sigh when Magdha nodded. "A bit heavy on the niproot, but it would cure a fever, even if it did leave the patient with a nasty aftertaste."
, relieved that she would have time to clean up and change into another dress. "Thank you, Wise Woman!"
Magdha waved a dismissive hand
, and the slim bone bracelets on her wrists clattered. "If I've told you once... call me Magdha, child. If you were an apprentice, the title would be fine, but a woman of your station..." She pursed her lips and shook her head. "Most noblewomen think the Craft - or any real vocation - beneath themselves; I admit that you've surprised me with your willingness to learn."
Rela beamed at the compliment
, pleased at how far she had come. She had first visited the Wise Woman a year before seeking an elixir for persistent headaches, and from the moment she entered the cluttered little shop in the Lower Quarter, she'd been fascinated by the wild assortment of jars and pots, scrolls, bones, candles, and skulls of creatures too exotic to imagine.
Magdha had scowled at her that day, expecting another haughty noblewoman with her nose in the air, but Rela was no castle maiden. Her father's estates were on farmland far from the city, near the foot of the Black Mountains. Despite
his wealth, Baron Dahr had raised is daughter to appreciate hard-working commoners. "Respect costs less than armies, and it wins greater loyalty," the Baron had told her once.
So despite Magdha's scowl, she'd asked a few quiet but respectful questions while the crone cooked up the elixir, and even though Magdha had grunted instead of answering, she'd insisted that Rela return the next day for a second dose. That day, she answered those questions and a few more besides. Something less formal than an apprenticeship was born.
Of course, a Baron's daughter could never apprentice to a Wise Woman in the Lower Quarter; the thought would be scandalous to those conniving hangers-on in King Volgar's court. Still, Rela's country origins afforded her a more practical view of the world than most city folk held. She knew herblore could come in handy when a sickness began to spread.
's twisted old hand gave Rela's arm a stout squeeze. The Wise Woman's black eyes held a mischievous glint as she smiled. "You'd best get on back to the castle, Lady Rela, before that handsome fellow on the black gelding comes looking for you again."
Rela's face reddened suddenly, a sharp contrast to her
pale golden hair. Collen was a handsome youth barely older than Rela herself, with a roguish smile and dancing green eyes beneath a tumble of black curls. His sharp mind barely tempered his tendency to get into trouble.
She'd met him two years ago when she'd first arrived in the city to begin her education. Her father had thought it wise to expose her to the workings of the city and its fine tutors, whom she shared with the more sophisticated sons and daughters of
nobles and upper-class merchants.
Collen was one of those, the son of a wealthy banker. Although he wasn't a nobleman, he had a gentle nature beneath his brash exterior
. He made his interest in Rela known almost immediately, and Rela had fallen for him soon after. Now she hoped to wed him someday.
Magdha saw her red face and cackled. "Just don't let him put that thing of his in you, girl, or I'll be brewing you a different kind of tea, and I promise you won't like the taste!"
Rela widened her eyes, shocked that the old woman would speak so plainly. "Why, Magdha, of course not! Collen would never..."
The crone cackled again. "Girl, men
of that age follow the cock between their legs like a cart behind a horse. You watch yourself with that one, I tell you!"
Rela busied herself with her cloak, pulling up the hood to hide the even deeper crimson sprea
ding across her face. "Thank you for the lesson, Magdha. May I return on the morrow?"
Magdha cleared a space on the countertop and began pouring the mixture Rela had made into a
clear flask. She grinned at Rela and arched an eyebrow. "You may, my Lady! If Collen doesn't carry you off to an inn somewhere!"
Rela swelled with pride to see
that Magdha thought she'd created a usable potion! Still, she sniffed at the old woman's taunting words. "Even if I'd allow him to do such a thing, I haven't time. I've been invited to Prince Malgar's feast this evening."
"Invited," Magdha snorted. "Hah! More like summoned." Magdha held a low opinion of King Volgar and his son, one she wasn't afraid to share with those she knew. Rela wished she would exercise greater discretion.
Rela turned to go, but Magdha's voice stopped her with one hand on the doorknob.
a," she said, "don't mistake my words. All young men want the same thing, but that Collen a good-hearted boy, and a lady could do much worse than to take him for a husband, nobleman or no. I hope you'll remember that. Those mongrels in Castle Darkmoon may have power, but power can't keep a woman warm at night."
Rela smiled and nodded her head. "I'll remember," she said, then hurried out into the cold.
Fall had come early, and a chill wind pushed through the narrow alley
outside Magdha's shop. People bustled along the cobblestone walkways, cloaks pulled tight about their bodies. On the hill to the north, Castle Darkmoon loomed like a pile of black stone over the city. Low clouds made the Lower Quarter gray and dim, but the castle felt even darker somehow, as though the light shied away from its bulk.
Rela set off toward the castle
with her head down against the cold. In just a few months, her tutors would release her, and it would be time to return to her father's estate in the west. Would Collen follow her there? His own father certainly wouldn't approve, unless he married Rela and became a nobleman.
Deep in thought, s
he didn't see someone approaching until a pair of strong arms wrapped around her waist. The Lower Quarter was home to many unsavory types, and she let out an alarmed cry as a rough voice hissed, "Your virtue or your life, pretty!"
She struggled to get away, but the voice began to laugh, a clear, open sound that she recognized.
She turned and saw Collen grinning down at her. "Collen! You scared me half to death! What are you doing down here?"
"Making sure you don't get your throat cut for a few coppers," Collen said
, relaxing his grip, but not quite letting go. "How are the lessons going? Can you turn me into a toad yet?"
"Not yet," she said
, answering the now-familiar question for the hundredth time as she turned in his arms to face him. The warmth of his body radiated from beneath his cloak, and she snuggled against him until her breasts pressed against his chest. He smelled so good, a clean, masculine scent that she couldn't quite pin down.
Collen gave a theatrical sigh. "Alas, I was hoping if I was a toad, I could convince a beautiful noblewoman that kissing me would turn me into a prince."
Rela shook her head. "Kissing you only turns you into a slightly hornier man," she said. Rela felt a burst of love for Collen, who took her pursuit of herblore in stride.
Most nobles would be horrified to know that
she was learning the Wise Woman's Craft. She had held the truth back from Collen for weeks after she began training with Magdha, but he was too crafty to deceive for long. When he noticed her furtiveness, he followed her to the Wise Woman's shop and confronted her.
she finally admitted the truth about her lessons with the Wise Woman, Collen's eyes had actually widened in excitement. He dropped to his knees. "Will she teach you to make me a love potion? I've been trying to get this beautiful noblewoman in the sack since I met her, but she won't yield!"
Rela had laughed, so full of relief that she'd nearly let him take her to an inn, but her father had raised her to believe that a Lady must never surrender her virtue before marriage. To do otherwise was seen as scandalous, even in
Castle Darkmoon, where lust and intrigue ran deep among the young lords and ladies.
Rela knew that Collen occasionally followed her into the Lower Quarter, staying out of sight, but watching to make sure she was safe. It was comforting to know that he was there.
Now she looked up into those green eyes and saw that he was dying to tell her something. "What is it, Collen?" she asked.
He grinned. "I've done it, Rela. I've sent a letter to your father. I apologized for not presenting myself in person, but I asked for your hand in marriage."
Rela's spirits soared, and she let out a very unladylike squeal and hugged Collen tight.
"I'm sure he'll say yes," Rela said. "We can be wed within the year."
Collen hugged her tight and whispered into her ear, "I can't wait, my sweet." He sounded earnest, for once.
"Nor can I," Rela murmured, savoring his embrace.
"No," Collen told her. "I literally cannot wait for a letter from your father in the country to make its slow way to the city on some farmer's cart. I know an inn near here, let's..."
Rela pushed him away suddenly, laughing. "You're a fool, Collen!" She set off down the street, running at top speed, heedless of the rough cobbles beneath her feet.
"A fool for you, my Lady!" he called, and the chase was on.
She scampered through the warrens of the Lower Quarter like a doe flushed from cover by a pack of wolves, dodging around pushcarts and barrels, sliding past vendors, and dodging a pair of oxen pulling a heavy wagon.
Streets grew wider and houses finer as she left the Lower Quarter behind, climbing steadily toward the castle even as she tried to lose Collen in the buzzing chaos of a busy city. Breathless, she risked a glance back and saw
her suitor close behind.
She ducked around the corner of a
shop and almost ran headlong into a tall, powerful warhorse. The big black steed snapped at her with its teeth, and she only just managed to flinch away without losing a chunk of flesh. Then she saw its rider, and her heart sank.
Prince Malgar himself sat atop the horse
in a coat of black mail and plated gauntlets, a hulking warrior with a mane of light brown hair and merciless gray eyes. Rela's breath caught in her throat. She didn't think highly of Malgar, but she had to admit that he was a stunning specimen of a man, big and strong, with a square jaw and the chiseled features of a storybook hero.
Behind him rode four of the Royal Guard, their armor gleaming in the sun.
The carcass of a huge board hung between their mounts on long poles, no doubt freshly hunted on King Volgar's game reserves outside the city. Rela was sure it would be served at the feast tonight, no doubt alongside tales of Malgar's bravery in the hunt.