The Crusader: EscapebyBelle_in_south©
The days had an order to them. More days than not, Thabit came to Rida in her prison bedchamber. The encounters were violent and rough but mercifully brief. She was brought two meals a day by a timid young woman who never spoke and barely looked at her. Over time, Rida became accustomed to her nakedness. She stopped cowering when Thabit barged into the room. Her lack of fear and shame increased his wrath. Some nights, he left her bloody and barely conscious. She had ceased begging for release and now prayed to Allah that Thabit would kill her.
The door rattled and she started, sitting up on the couch where she rested. It was not time for the maid, so the visitor must be Thabit. Her long hair hung over her shoulder, hiding her full breasts from his view. Instead of her tormentor, a broad shoulder guard stood in the doorframe. His eyes swept over her and she grabbed a blanket to cover her front. His face remained expressionless. She lowered her eyes.
"Master Thabit sends for you," the guard growled. He took two steps into the room and grabbed her upper arm, pulling her to her feet. She gasped in surprise and shock as she stumbled out of the bedchamber behind him.
Rida knew the layout of the palace. She had walked it freely as Marid al-Kasim's favorite wife. The guard was leading her to the large room where Marid had met with other important men. She felt disgust as she thought about Marid's son turning the grand chamber where she had danced for her husband's guests into another brothel for his fierce and hateful lust.
Her eyes tried to capture everything in the room as the guard dragged her across the marble floors. Thabit reclined at a table heavy with fruits and nuts. Two other young men also sat with her tormentor. Laughter filled the room as the guard gave her a shove and pushed her to the floor. She lay with her face pressed to the cold tile as she awaited her fate. Perhaps Thabit had finally decided to kill her. He was blood thirsty and would want an audience for his work.
"I saw more Christian pilgrims on the road today," Thabit said, ignoring her presence.
One of the men chuckled, a sound that gave Rida chills. "The infidels bring their gold to Jerusalem. They will not leave with it."
"What news do you hear of Constantinople, Hatim?"
The other man spoke. Rida attempted to look up, but did not lift her head much. "The fool, Alexis, who imagines himself the new Caesar, has begged Europe for help. Even now, the Pope's armies are gathering for war."
"Do we have anything to fear?"
"I have heard rumors of an army moving across Europe killing the Jews in the cities as they attempt to reach the Holy Land." This was not spoken by Hatim. Rida thought she recognized the man, but she could not recall his name. "They are led by a preacher, not a general, and they have no more skill with a sword than they do a plow."
"We are in service to Allah, the one true god of the Prophet Mohammad," Hatim replied. "Allah will not fail us. We will see victory and the infidels will understand their foolish ways."
"When the time comes, will we win Constantinople?" Thabit asked.
"It will not be an easy victory. It was a strong city when it was Byzantium. The Greeks could only defeat it by sneaking into the walls in a wooden horse when it was Troy. It is well-defended by walls and Alexis's army."
"We must control Constantinople. It is the only way to protect ourselves from the infidels."
"They will spend their energy on Jerusalem. Alexis is no more than a mongrel pup to them. Jerusalem will distract them from their problems and leave Constantinople vulnerable. Give them Jerusalem. We'll take Constantinople and cut them off from the rest of Europe. We'll suffocate the enemy."
"Very good. Let your master know that when the infidels arrive, he can depend on Thabit Kasim."
Rida tried not to react to Thabit's promise. She could not picture Thabit leading troops into battle. The man was a coward. His guards harassed the Christian pilgrims, robbing and beating them and sometimes killing them. Thabit padded his coffers with the gold from the pilgrims' pockets, but he never put himself at risk. He preferred targets that did not have the strength to fight back.
"Now, we'll have our entertainment," Thabit said, his voice penetrating Rida's thoughts. "Girl," he snarled, "dance for us. Dance the way you did when you seduced my father."
Rida rose from the floor, tempted to cover her naked body. The cold floor had penetrated her flesh and her nipples were hard pebbles. Her young, firm breasts jutted from her frame. Her slender waist and flared hips were hypnotic when they moved. Her father and her husband had used her talents to persuade men to see their point of view.
This was the first time Thabit had called on Rida to dance. There were no musicians to accompany her movement. She fastened her eyes on Hatim. He was a stranger to her, but his tone was gentle, even when talking about war. His eyes held tenderness that she had not seen since Marid had gasped his last breath. Rida closed her eyes, attempting to create a melody in her head. She began moving in a steady rhythm, hips moving side-to-side, hair twirling as she spun, and eyes lowering coyly at Hatim.
The spell seemed to be working. Hatim was watching her intently. He took a sip of his drink and licked the moisture from his lips without moving his dark eyes from the naked dancer. She did not look at Thabit or his friend. She knew Thabit would notice where her attention lay and would probably be angry because she danced for his guest and not for him. She hoped he would be so angry he would not come to her. Perhaps she would be granted peace.
Subconsciously, she knew her hope was false. Thabit always came to her angry. She was only adding to her list of offenses.
"Are you just going to tease us with her?" the other man asked. "Or do we get to taste your slave, as well?"
Her dancing faltered at the stranger's request. Giving her to his guests would violate Allah's law. Marid had been a devout Muslim. Thabit had studied the Prophet's teachings, but reality suddenly hit Rida. If Thabit was a true follower of Islam, he would not have brought one of his women naked before strangers. She was not a woman to him, she was a thing.
"Girl, Numair wants to taste you," Thabit said, his voice dripping his oil. It gave her chills to hear the tone in his voice. "What will you pay for her, Numair?"
Numair eagerly reached into the pouch at his waist, counting out his silver. "Five pieces," he said, his voice trembling with excitement.
"Five pieces?" Thabit scoffed. "She is beautiful and talented, Numair. She is worth far more than five pieces."
"Fifteen!" Numair exclaimed, his eagerness betraying his need to bargain reasonably. He dumped the silver on the table in front of Thabit. He did not wait for Thabit to accept his offer. Instead, he stood and began making his way toward Rida. Rida's eyes shifted from Hatim to Numair slowly as she attempted not to give Thabit the satisfaction of a reaction from her.
Numair was young but she immediately saw the cause of his eagerness. He walked toward her with a limp. He was an imperfect man. He would not find an easy match. Thabit laughed as Numair lurched toward Rida.
"Are you selling her for tonight or for good?" Hatim's voice interrupted Numair's advance. Rida's eyes flashed back to the guest. His eyes had not left her. Numair's face dropped and Thabit turned to regard the stranger. "Answer me, Thabit. Is your price for a one time experience or will you sell her to me to take?"
"She is not for sell," Thabit snarled. "She is mine."
"One hundred pieces," Hatim offered, ignoring Thabit's denial.
"She is not for sell," Thabit repeated.
"Two hundred fifty pieces."
"She is not for sell!" Thabit yelled, rising in anger. He towered over Hatim who remained reclining at the table. He stormed around the table and grabbed Rida's upper arm as he marched by her. He yanked violently and she stumbled after him with a small cry. He pulled her down the hall, his fingertips biting violently into her flesh.
When he reached her chamber, he threw her onto the floor. She scuttled backwards as he tore his robes from his body. He fell over her before she could retreat. His hard shaft plunged into her body, his hips slamming against hers repeatedly as he violently used her to expend his wrath.
He finished quickly with a shudder and a grunt. He immediately stood, retrieved his robe, and fled from her in disgust. Rida sighed with relief, knowing he would not return again today. He never visited her more than once a day. Her humiliation for that day was over. She stood and went to the basin of water to clean her soiled body. Thabit had not resealed the door, but she anticipated that a guard would come quickly to keep her from leaving the chamber. She didn't know why he insisted on bracing the door. If she escaped, she did not know where she would go. She had no clothing and no way to survive on her own outside the palace walls.
She heard a shuffling in the hallway and turned toward the doorway. Numair staggered into the room, his smile eager. He shook his money pouch as he stepped into the room. "Your Master said I could have you for no charge. You must have greatly displeased him."
She remained frozen as he untied his robes and removed them. She tried not to recoil in disgust at his presence. One leg was shorter than the other and one arm hung shriveled at his side. His left side was scared from burning. His manhood was poking straight up with a pebble of moisture at the head.
Rida knew she could fight Numair and win, but victory would be hollow. There would no prize from Thabit if she rejected his friend. His satisfaction came from forcing her to serve the deformed man. In defiance to Thabit, she advanced toward Numair with a trembling smile on her face. Her shaking hand reached up to touch his shoulder, her fingers trailing lightly over his scars. He tensed when her fingers touched the white flesh. When her lips followed her fingertips, he sighed and groaned. Her free hand caressed his small, hard shaft, massaging it steadily.
Numair moaned and his hips began jogging, sliding his rod against her squeezing palm. He groaned and shuddered, grabbing her hand and pushing it away. She could tell by the expression on his face that he was struggling to hold on to his arrogance in the face of her surprising tenderness. Roughly, he twisted her arm, spinning her body so that her back was pressed against him. He pushed and she fell face-first to the ground. Before she could respond, he was on his knees behind her. He grabbed her hips and thrust his small member inside her opening.
His movements were irregular as he struggled to find a pleasurable pace. His timing quickly moved to erratic as he bucked fiercely, trying to hold back his release. Rida clenched her muscles, tightening her body's hold on his staff. The change in tension sent him over the edge. He exploded inside her with a cry of rage.
She was relieved when he did not linger. The door behind him was closed and she heard the heavy bar drop in place that locked her in her chamber. Her shoulders relaxed and she moved back to the wash basin, attempting to wipe away Numair's touch. Tears pooled in her eyes as she scrubbed her naked body. The trailing tears faded into sobs as she scoured harder. Her skin turned pink and raw as she washed and re-washed, her weeping fading into violent hiccups. She tried to pray to Allah, but she could not give voice to her prayers. Allah had deserted her.
It was dark when Rida heard a noise outside her room. She opened her eyes and listened to the sound of grunting and shuffling. She rolled to her elbow, eyes narrowing in the dark room. Moonlight poured through the small window, but the room was full of shadows. Her heart didn't pound with fear at the noise. It would be Thabit. No one else would dare come to her room. She laid back down, deciding to feign sleep in hopes that he would go away.
The brace rattled and the door swung open. She partially opened one eye to watch Thabit's progression. "Get up, I know you aren't asleep," a voice ordered. She sat up, squinting through the darkness as Hatim bent and began dragging something into her chamber. "Hurry. We may not have much time."
Rida stood, her heart thudding in her ears now as she realized that he was dragging the guard into the room. He tossed her a robe without glancing her direction. She caught it, still staring blankly at him. "Put that on," he commanded as he heaved the unconscious guard into the chamber. He went back to the door and looked both directions. In the lamp light, she saw he held a blade that was covered with blood. He turned back to her. "Hurry," he snapped again.
"What is going on?" she hissed, still clutching the robe to her body.
"I'm releasing you from Thabit," he stated. "Now, hurry."
She didn't dare hesitate to obey this time. She put the robe over her head and hurried to join him at the door. She tried to ignore the knife he gripped in his hand as he grabbed her wrist with the other. "Come on," he whispered, pulling her down the hallway. She stumbled after him, her heart racing. At each turn in the hall's passageways, he pushed her against the wall as he paused to scout the surroundings. He obviously had no qualms about killing anyone who got in his way, but seemed to want to avoid doing it as much as possible.
She followed as quickly and as quietly as she could, her bare feet slapping the cold stone floor as she rushed along. He stopped suddenly, pushing her into an alcove hidden by a plant. He placed his finger to his lips and stepped into the intersection of the hall. "Lord Hatim," a voice greeted, "I thought you left hours. . ."
The words faded off and Rida watched as Hatim pulled the blade from another collapsing guard. "Come on," he hissed again, gesturing for her to follow again. Fear made her follow. They rushed quietly through the winding hallways until they reached the doorway leading toward the stables. He stopped, his eyes sweeping the large, open courtyard. A few torches lit the path, but would also spotlight anyone moving toward the barn. Hatim took a small step outside to look over the walls of the palace. He hesitated at each window, looking for any sign of movement in the late night. Finally, he reached for her wrist and tugged on her arm. Instead of taking the lighted path, he hugged the edge of the building until they reached the wall that surrounded the courtyard.
They almost made it to the arched gate when a voice called for them to halt. Hatim pushed her behind him and raised his knife. The guard stopped and tilted his head. Rida tried to hide behind Hatim, but the guard's eyes widened. "Master Thabit!" he yelled, sprinting toward the palace.
Hatim began running toward the gate, pulling Rida along behind him. She raced to keep up, rocks and sand biting into her bare feet. If she allowed herself to be caught, Thabit's anger and cruelty would be tripled. She was tasting freedom, so she ran.
Outside the wall, Hatim rounded the corner and was greeted by the whinny of a horse. He leapt onto the back of the animal without hesitating and then reached down to pull her across his lap. His heels tapped the side of the horse and they galloped into the dark desert.
The sound of thundering horses rose across the desert around them as Hatim's stallion's hooves moved them away from Thabit. The sound seemed to surround them and Rida trembled as Hatim pushed his mount onward. She was face down across his lap as he bent low, urging his horse to go faster. The blood rushed to her head but adrenaline kept the negative affects aside.
When the sound of their pursuers faded, he stopped and they slid off the horse. "Are you all right?" he demanded, cupping Rida's face in his callused hands. She nodded weakly as the adrenaline fled. His dark eyes searched her face before releasing her. He walked a few feet away, peering into the darkness. "Thabit will not stop. I know a safe place."
He helped her onto the horse's back again and then climbed on behind her. She sat astride the saddle, the pommel to the apex of her thighs as he adjusted positions. He didn't push the horse as hard, but they moved quicker than a trot in the darkness. The pommel rocked against her as the horse galloped across the open desert.
She leaned back against him, exhaustion threatening her body. She closed her eyes, trusting herself to Hatim's care. He had already shown more tenderness than Thabit possessed. Whatever his intent was certainly a better life than what Thabit had provided. Her body relaxed and slouched on his lap, allowing his strong arms to support her as they hurried to the safe destination.
The pommel rubbed against her mound through the folds on the borrowed and gathered robe, pushing the material between her lips. She shifted as the sensation of the pommel's movement increased. It seemed as if the pommel was growing in size. It surrounded her, pressing her sensitive front and teasing her from behind. A moan escaped her throat. Hatim increased the horse's pace.
She shifted again, moving herself against the forces pushing at her. She heard herself moan again as the pommel pushed deeper. Her breasts felt heavy and her nipples sensitive. Her hips were rocking, the motion involuntary as Hatim took her to safety. Exhaustion rippled through her tense muscles as her body acted of its own accord. She could hear Hatim breathing in her ear, the sound ragged and unsteady as she grinded against the saddle.
A wave crashed through her body and she cried out as delicious tremors raced over her flesh. Her eyes popped open in surprise at the intense and surprising pleasure. She had heard her father's concubines talking about such a sensation, but Rida had never experienced it. Relations with Marid had been pleasant, but had never resulted in anything that left her ears ringing. Thabit had removed all pleasure from the sexual act. Her cheeks flooded with color as she realized that Hatim must know what happened. Thabit had treated her like a whore and she had just proven that characteristic to her benefactor. The blush deepened when she realized that the pommel had not grown but that the pressure was her savior's hard member.
He stopped the horse suddenly, sliding off and pulling her with him. "I can't wait any longer," he growled, turning her to face him. The starlight made his expression unreadable. "I have to have you now."
"What about Thabit?" she asked, her voice breathless.
"We're far enough away that we can stop and rest. We'll be safe by morning." His fingertips touched her cheek and slid along her neck. "Not that we'll do much resting right now."
He leaned forward and trailed his lips over her cheek, making his way to her soft lips. He could feel her tense and attempt to draw away. "There is always a price to be paid, my dear. Surely you didn't think I would release you for free." He paused to move his lips along her jawbone while his hand moved to hold and cup her breast through the material of the robe. His thumb massaged her nipple. "I wanted you when you danced. When I could not buy you, I was still determined to have you, no matter how much I had to sacrifice for you."
He placed his hands at her hips and began raising the material of the robe slowly, bunching it in his fists as it slid up her legs inch-by-inch. His mouth moved to her neck, kissing his way down to her collarbone. "It is time to pay for your release. It is a price that I promise you will not regret. Lift your arms."
Weakly, she complied, raising her arms over her head as he removed the robe from her naked body. Her nipples were hard and puckered. He bent his head and licked each button, causing her body to shiver. He closed his lips around one of the globes and began suckling gently. Rida trembled at the attention and groaned softly at a return of the pleasurable feelings. His mouth increased its activity, his tongue swirling around her flesh.