Rough Warrior – Maggie Carpenter

Trembling in terror and hugging her knees to her chest, Ailith dropped her head and sobbed. In a cage in the back of a wagon rolling down a trail, she lifted her eyes to peer back at her tiny settlement, only to find a second wagon behind hers blocked the view. Just a short time before, she’d been happily heading into the forest to see if the berries had ripened, when out of nowhere a group of warriors invaded her village. “Run, everyone, run!” the elders of the village shouted as chaos broke out. Blessed with long legs and a natural athleticism, she was swift across the ground, and could climb just about anything. She’d probably escape the marauders if she bolted, but loath to leave those who had looked out for her, she’d hesitated… and a moment later she caught sight of a villainous barbarian charging toward her. Never had she seen such a powerfully built man, or one with such striking features. His muscled arms and torso suggested fierce strength. Thick, light brown hair fell to his broad shoulders, yet his beard was dark. She turned to sprint away, but he’d swept her off the ground and hurled her over his shoulder. Though she’d screamed and kicked and pounded his back with her fists, she’d been no match for the powerful brute as he’d carried her away. “Where are you taking me?” she wailed. “Take me back, please, please, take me back.” “You are mine now,” he growled, reaching the wagon and bustling her into a crate. “I am the ruler.

You should be honored.” Panic-stricken and watching in horror as he’d marched back toward her village, she’d tried in vain to break the wooden bars. Now she was being carted away, and though copious tears continued to spill down her cheeks, she knew if she was to escape she would have to force back her terror and set her mind free. Summoning her courage, she rose up on her knees and gripped the wooden cage. Looking ahead, she could see the pack of the warriors leading the way, but behind her there was only a lone man driving the other wagon, and his head was bowed. Gripping one of the bars, she tugged with all her might. It refused to budge, but she continued, shifting around on her knees methodically testing each of them. Having no success, she lifted her eyes and studied the cover over her head. To her surprise, she discovered it had been laced onto the frame. Running her nimble fingers over the knots, she quickly understood how they were tied.

Undoing one, she moved to the next. It was the same. Hope surging through her heart, the tears dried up as she focused on her task. Use your wits. They will be your salvation in this life, her father had often said when she was young. That mind of yours will see you through the dif icult times. The coughing illness had taken both her parents, but now she wondered if their passing so long ago might have been a blessing. They weren’t alive to witness the destruction of their home, and suffer through her monstrous abduction. Finishing with the last knot and pushing up the lid, she found it lighter than she expected. Leaving it in place, she looked through the cage and studied her surroundings.

The hint of a smile curled her lips. They were traveling through a forest in which she’d spent many happy days. As the perfect hiding place flashed through her head, the small slope they were climbing told her exactly where they were, and where the warriors were heading. Fear pricked her skin. The narrow trail led to a rocky beach. “You have ships waiting,” she muttered under her breath, “but I will join my mother and father before I allow you to take me.” A short distance ahead, a canopy of trees would block the moon’s light, providing cover for her escape. Crouching back down and glancing around the wagon, she spied several animal skins. Shooting a quick look at the man driving the horse seated in front of her, then the lone figure in the wagon following, she reached through the bars. Grabbing one of the pelts, she slid it slowly through the bars and propped it up.

Once she’d made her escape, if luck was on her side, the man driving the wagon behind her would assume the shape in the crate was her. Studying him, she noticed his shoulders were drooped, and his head had fallen even lower. The horses languidly ambling across the ground needed no guidance or encouragement. Praying fervently he was dozing, she turned around and looked ahead. Her heart skipped. The canopy loomed. Her escape was at hand. Taking a breath and forcing herself to stay calm, she cautiously pushed up the cover of her cage with one hand, and reached out to take hold of its edge with the other. Holding her breath, she carefully lowered it to rest on the floor of the wagon, then spun around. The man behind her hadn’t moved.

Her pulse racing and her stomach churning, she rose to her feet and darted her eyes over the shoulders of her driver. The warriors traveled in pairs, marching in front of the horse pulling her small wagon. Only two sat on horses of their own. Lifting her gaze, her heart sank. She wouldn’t be under the cover of darkness long enough to climb out of the cage, put the lid back on, and jump to the side of the road. Her leap from the wagon was the riskiest part of her escape. Getting out of the cage and replacing the lid would have to be done under the full light of the moon. Her heart thundering, she managed to climb over the top of the crate and put the lid back in place. Not wanting it to fall off and make a noise if the wagon were to roll over a deep hole, she hastily tied it to the frame on either side. The canopy neared.

Crouching down, she waited breathlessly, her eyes peeled on the man driving the wagon behind hers. If anyone saw her, it would be him. They rolled under the thick, tall branches. Plunged into darkness, she climbed over the side of the wagon and dropped to the soft ground, but she didn’t dash into the woods. Curling herself into a ball, she stayed motionless. If anyone glanced back, she’d resemble a large rock. The caravan continued forward. No alarm was raised. Slowly lifting her head, she watched it reach the crest of the slope and start down the other side. Only then did she scurry into the safety of the forest, but her pulse still raced, and fear continued to pop goosebumps across her skin.

Without pausing to catch her breath, she moved swiftly through the trees, hurrying to get away from the road and reach her safe haven. The hooting of the owls didn’t scare her, nor did the sounds of the wildlife. The warriors held far more danger than the animals in their woodsy kingdom. It was only when her chest began to hurt that she paused her step and leaned against a tree. But only for a moment. Her hideaway wasn’t far. Pushing herself forward, she climbed up the slight bank, then down toward the river. In winter, it was perilous. The water would rise and turn into a raging death trap, but during summer the gentle stream was a joyous place. Looking ahead and slightly off to the right, she almost cried with relief.

Bushes and small boulders concealed the small opening of a cave. Stumbling down the slope, she steadied herself on the rocks as she moved around them, then slipped inside and sank to the ground. She didn’t believe the warriors would care enough to look for her, and even if they did, they’d never find her. Gratefully stretching out her tired limbs, she closed her eyes and let herself rest. * * * A touch against her forearm stirred her from sleep. She knew to remain still. Certain tiny creatures could be deadly if frightened, but as she opened her eyes Ailith didn’t see a spider or a bug. Large hands were looping a rope around her wrists. She wanted to scream, but she was too frozen in fright and disbelief to utter even a sound. “Now you will be punished.

” The deep voice broke the spell. “No!” she wailed, daring to stare up at the warrior towering over her, looking more fearsome than he had when he snatched her. “No!” she repeated, but this time the denial was shock that she’d been found. “You will never say no to me,” he growled, grabbing her bound wrists and glaring down at her. “How dare you run off. You’re mine.” Ailith was rarely at a loss for words, but the brute’s presence took her breath away. She’d been mesmerized by his brawny body and startling appearance when she’d first seen him, but now it was his eyes she found astonishing. Deep green set beneath thick, dark eyebrows, they seemed to shimmer as he spoke. She’d heard rumors about the handsome, vain barbarians.

She’d thought the stories ridiculous, but now one stood over her. “Do you understand?” he scolded, jerking her to his feet. “You belong to me now. Don’t you dare to run away, you foolish girl.” Dragging her from the cave and settling on a fallen tree trunk, he yanked her over his lap. “Let me go, let me go,” she howled, squirming furiously on his wide, hard thighs, but his massive leg clamped over the back of hers, and his huge hand clasped her waist. “Please, please,” she begged. “Why do you want me? I’m—” A sharp, stinging slap cut her off. It was followed by another, then another, and as the hard hand rained its discipline, her yelps became one long, anguished cry. Gasping for breath as the harsh spanking progressed, it was as if the thin dress covering her body offered no protection at all, but when he pushed it up to her waist and exposed her naked backside, the deep embarrassment sweeping through her was far greater than her skin’s hot sting.

Whimpering piteously, she covered her face with her hands as his massive palm fondled her flesh. “Such a plump, round behind,” he grunted, delivering a solid swat. “It will give me great pleasure. You might protest now, but one day you will yearn for my smacking hand and big cock.” “Never!” she screamed. “Never, ever, ever! You’re a monster! I will always hate you! Always!” “Hah. You will eat those words.” To her great horror, he slid his hand into her womanhood. “Your body betrays you. You’re slick.

Already you want me.” “I don’t, I don’t. I never will.” “You’ve already been taken,” he exclaimed, thrusting his finger into her channel. “I have not, and I won’t be. I’ll die before you—” “Don’t lie to me,” he barked, landing a sudden volley of hot slaps. “Who was he? Speak! Who was he?” Without warning, her father’s sage advice echoed through her head. Use your wits. Screaming and protesting was getting her nowhere. She took a breath.

“Henry.” “Henry? Who is Henry?” the brute demanded. “A village boy?” “Was. He was,” she managed, though her voice trembled. “We were to marry, but a plague came through our village. He died, along with my parents and many others.” “You will soon forget Henry,” the warrior grunted, moving his long, thick finger in and out of her passage, “but I’m glad you’ve been used. It will make breaking you easier.” She wanted to rail back at the monstrous warrior and tell him her sweet, gentle Henry would stay alive in her heart and mind forever, but she knew to hold her tongue. Determined to play along until she had another chance to escape, she let her body fall limp.

“Ah, yes, already you submit,” the savage muttered, increasing the speed of his stroking finger, “but your passage is narrow and tight. I will enjoy stretching you out to take my manhood.” Trying to cope with her fear and humiliation as the brawny barbarian continued his lewd play, she squeezed her eyes shut and sent her mind back to the many happy hours she’d spent playing near the river as a child. But he unexpectedly rubbed the tiny nub nestled between her pussy lips. In spite of her instinctive revulsion, an unfamiliar, pleasant feeling began permeating her sex—and as the moments passed, the feeling grew. “You’re about to learn the power of your warrior,” he growled, abruptly sending his finger back to thrust in and out of her channel. An unstoppable ballooning sensation suddenly rose up through her being, and there was no way she could avoid the imminent eruption. “Submit,” the warrior demanded. “Obey me. Submit.

” As the muscles across her body suddenly tightened, the euphoric explosion surged through her body. Exquisite tingles radiated down her limbs as wave after wave swept her away, then shuddering through the last spasm, she sank into his lap, engulfed in a strange, blissful serenity. As he moved her off his thighs and onto the ground, she was unable to offer any resistance. Not only was she weak, she had an overwhelming need to rest. It is a wonderful thing. Henry will learn how to give it to you. Her mother’s words echoed through her head. Henry had never taken her to the apex of pleasure she’d heard about, yet the barbaric warrior just had. The brute’s grunting and groaning broke into her thoughts, but not wanting to look at him she kept her eyes closed. A moment later she heard his footfalls disappearing, then drifted away to the comforting sounds of the forest.

When she finally stirred, she found her ankles had also been bound, and saw the warrior walking toward her leading a magnificent black horse. “Why did you tie me like this?” He frowned down at her. “That’s a question only a typical, foolish girl would ask. You are neither typical nor foolish.” “Please let me go,” she softly pleaded. “You must have many women. Why do you want me?” His frown deepened. “There must be a reason,” she bleated. “Please…” “Enough!” he barked, gripping her arm and jerking her to her feet. “I’m of no use to you,” she whimpered, struggling in his grip.

“Let me be, I beg of you.” “I said, enough. Be quiet. I don’t want to hear you.” She was irritating him. Wondering if that might be her way out, she continued. “If I must go with you, what do I call you? At least tell me your name.” He let out a heavy breath. She hoped it was a sigh of annoyance. “I am Ulrick.

I am the ruler. You’ll be known as Hilde.” “No!” she retorted. “My name is Ailith.” “Ailith,” he repeated, nodding his head as his lips curled in a wicked grin. Her heart sank. He’d outwitted her. Now he knew her name. Suddenly bristling with anger, she glared up at him. “You may be a ruler, but you will never rule me,” she hissed.

“Yes, I fear you, and you may have conquered my body, but you will never have my heart or my mind. I will continue to think my own thoughts and feel my own feelings. You are nothing but a monstrous savage, and that’s how I will always see you.”

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