Huddled in the hastily emptied wooden chest, the crouching woman listened with fear as her village was sacked. Her hut lay a bit apart from the ring of homes around the commons. She was a weaver and traded her skill for meat and milk and cheese. Still, the clanging of weapons, rending of wooden doors and walls, and worst of all the screams roared in her ears. These were not neighboring soldiers in a land dispute, she recognized only a few of the words shouted by their attackers -- definitely Norse.

Sooner than she expected, she heard the unbarred door slamming open: barring it would only mean she'd need a new one. She held her breath and clutched her right fist, knowing the chest would attract immediate attention from looters. That was her plan.

Footsteps clunked across the floor and the chest shifted slightly as it was kicked. Not waiting for the lid to open, she sprang up and stabbed her enemy. She was rewarded with a shout of pain and she shoved hard past the distracted warrior toward her door. She felt herself swung around by the sleeve almost immediately. Shit shit shit. She pulled loose, but the force of the swing slammed her into the wall. Recovering her balance, she gasped in terror at the vision of a broad axeman stalking toward her, whipping off a bloodied helm and drawing his sword.

She cried out in the foreign tongue, praying that the word meant what her grandmother claimed it did. And that it would be heeded.

Gunnarr closed in for the kill, blinking blood out of his left eye, but slowed in confusion when he heard a shout that somehow disoriented him. When it was repeated, he realized that he was hearing his own language from an enemy villager far from his home. The word was distorted, but repetition and the setting drove its meaning home.

"Mercy!" Grainne cried out desperately as the livid and bleeding warrior approached, "Mercy, mercy, mercy!"

She caught the man's eye and dropped her dagger, then straightened and placed her hands, palms forward, on the wall beside her head to show they were empty and she was willing to surrender. His furious expression changed only slightly, remaining brutal enough to rip the air from her lungs. The resulting softening of her voice likely saved her life.

"You want MERCY, do you, after stabbing me? What kind of MERCY was that? I almost lost an eye. Oh, you drop the dagger NOW. Not convincing."

Deliberately keeping eye contact despite her fear, Grainne spoke the word over and over in an increasingly breathless tone, nodding eagerly when the warrior repeated it. Only blissful ignorance of the rest of his meaning allowed her to concentrate. She did her best to convey calm, as she would to soothe a young child or frightened animal wordlessly, hoping it would catch like a yawn as it often did. Her hope increased as the warrior kept his sword pointed down and actually dropped his axe, though he strode forward with unflagging speed and crowded her against the wall.

He seemed to freeze there, just staring, as Grainne held her breath in fear but dared to slowly bring her open hands to his brow. She stroked gently, again as if to soothe without words, wiping the blood away from the stab wound from she'd inflicted across his cheek. She held his gaze, and he did not strike.

Gunnarr's anger evaporated into pounding lust as the low voice, gentle fingers and plump curves of the woman he'd pinned to the wall gathered into an overwhelming impression of yielding softness. Her face came into focus as he calmed from the necessary rage of battle. A broad forehead and curving cheeks tapered into a cleft chin. Hazel eyes, wide with concentration and courage, gazed intently into his. Only the pallor beneath sunned skin and parted lips hinted at the fear her quickened breath and shaking body confirmed. Gunnarr groaned.

He had not been with a woman since shortly before his wife died birthing their perfect stillborn daughter the year before. A flash of Bera's teasing smile as she urged him to "knock" so the baby would answer the door and FINALLY be born rose unbidden, but slipped away as his body's yearning reasserted the present.

Gunnarr realized how much he had missed the feeling of a panting woman trembling against him, and thought to himself that he could give the comely one he had trapped better reason than fear to continue doing so. He lowered his head to bite her exposed throat, his lips sensing her racing pulse. He managed to tear his mouth away and looked into her eyes again.

"Eir?" He asked with raised eyebrows, sheathing his sword part way to convey the bargain he meant to strike.

Grainne's face flamed, but she relaxed markedly as she stroked his face again and nodded slowly, "Eir. Mercy." He wasn't even unappealing, she noticed, far from it.

Grainne did not expect the joyful grin that instantly lit up his formerly grim face. Happy and relieved to be alive, even glad to be bribed rather than forced into sex with a raider, she impulsively stood on her toes and planted a solid kiss on his lips for emphasis.

It quickly deepened, and she felt a delicious drag of roughened fingers tracing a path from her throat to the edge of her bodice. She felt herself melting into a desire she'd thought had died with her husband. She was hungry for a man, and this one had appeared with no strings attached. Grainne was practical minded, like most in her village, and the fact that nobody would question trading her body for her life only increased her eagerness to make do with fate.

Gunnarr felt the woman's nipple harden as she arched against his palm, kissing him hard. This was going to be a raid to remember until his dying day! The thought of dying recalled his mind to his duty, and he drew away, sheathing his sword as he laughed at the turn of events. He gestured to the woman to wait, reached for the axe he wasn't about to trust her with, and headed out the door. He soon found his brother at arms Alrekr and hailed him.

"Alrekr, I fear I must retire the field for the day. I have a captive who thought to ask for mercy in our own tongue. But her accent is terrible, and surely I must teach her lips to shape it better," he laughed out.

His friend answered in kind, "No, we're done here and many are of your mind. I have confidence you'll have her begging for mercy aright by daybreak, brother."

Alrekr turned away and simply chuckled as Gunnarr answered with an oath and a slammed door. In truth he was relieved that his friend was laughing with him over a woman again. The midwife had assured Gunnarr that he did not hurt his wife Bera, that the first babe was longer in coming and harder to birth, but he had told Alrekr he could not stop thinking his seed had brought them to harm.

"He certainly seems unafraid now," thought Alrekr with a twitch of the lips.


Gunnarr barred the door then turned, removing the belt that held his sword and laying it in the chest with his axe. His arms were soon joined by his armor and tunic. Grainne beckoned to him to the table, where a flagon of mead waited next to a pitcher. He drank deeply until his thirst was quenched, watching her hips sway as she moved about. When she offered to tend his wound he shook his head, distracted by her breasts, now hidden in part by loosened light brown hair. With some effort, he lifted his eyes to hers and leered cheerfully, "Mercy time."

Grainne leered right back and moved her hands to the buttons of her bodice enticingly, walking toward him and seating herself on his lap. Once again her softness overpowered his senses, and Gunnarr batted her hands away, taking over her task. He had always loved undressing women, one of few pleasures in life where the reality of experience outshone his vivid imagination.

Gunnarr let his mouth follow his fingers and reveled in the resulting gasps and sighs. He felt her arms go around his neck as her teeth caught his earlobe. The new angle shifted the curve of her bottom over his hardening cock, and he stood abruptly, holding the woman's waist tightly to keep her from falling. He pushed her loosened neckline past her shoulders and down her body, pulling her close to feel her skin against his. Grainne rubbed herself against the man's bare chest appreciatively, enjoying the feel of his crisp hair against her nipples, a jump from the firm ridge against her belly telling her that she wasn't alone in savoring it. She felt her dress slide down her hips and reached to seek the tie to her lover's trews. Finding it, she backed away to slide them past his muscled flanks and step out of her own clothing. She led the raider to her bed and both sat to remove their boots and inspect each others' nakedness.

His plaited hair was a darker red than she had seen before, his beard like a riot of autumn leaves. Bright blue eyes contrasted his hair and tanned face. Freckles splashed across his forehead and nose, only dotting his skin more as her gaze traveled down muscled shoulders and arms, barrel chest and belly, and amusingly pale legs. She checked his jutting yard and balls most thoroughly for those little dots, finding a few even there. The body hair so pleasing to her breasts was red as well and she eyed the abundance with satisfaction. The texture and amount of a man's body hair, so different from her own, had always fascinated and aroused her. She couldn't wait to run her legs up and down his and feel that difference. Luckily, it seemed she wouldn't have to. Boots off, they stretched out facing one another, their lips meeting again.

Gunnarr felt as if his whole body was throbbing as hard as his erection. His hands wandered the lush curves of the woman's wiggling body, trying to patiently ready her but feeling undeniable urgency. He nuzzled and sucked on her breasts, deciding they were the key to unlock her passion, remembering how she pressed into his hand earlier. Sweet moans and twining legs soon proved his guess correct.

As he moved to nibble the full lower curve of one, she startled him by bursting into raucous laughter and jerking out of his grasp. As the laughter dissolved into breathless giggles, he realized she must be ticklish, since his beard had been rubbing her belly. Laughing himself, he deliberately but lightly ran his jaw down her stomach and was rewarded with more giggles and gasping protests needing no translation. Better still, her legs kicked out, splaying invitingly, and he took the opportunity to roll her beneath him.

"Now, you are really at my mercy!" he cried, with an emphasis on the last word.

He thrust into her, she was dizzyingly hot and wet. Gunnarr moaned in pleasure as he stretched himself, kissing and biting all over her breasts, her throat, her face. He felt her smooth legs moving up and down his as her hips rose to meet him. Just as he felt he would disgrace himself like an untried boy, he felt her rippling and clenching around his cock in release; any sense of shame fled, and he lost himself, shuddering into his own climax.

They lay gasping with their foreheads together, noses rubbing gently and eyes locked in a silent and sparkling bliss.

Grainne, still shaking in orgasm, moved her lips back to his and slowly parted them with her tongue. They kissed lazily, enjoying the aftermath of their explosive union. Gradually she started rocking her hips in gentle circles, rousing him again, and they joined in slowly building passion much calmer but no less intense than their heated first encounter.


The following morning, Grainne greeted Alrekr with words Gunnarr had taught her,

"Good morning, brother. Do you not wish you could teach me mercy?"

Her accent was perfect.

Alrekr could see from her blankly polite expression that she had no idea what she was saying, but he replied by nodding enthusiastically before turning to his friend.

"Very funny, Gunnarr. As a matter of fact..." He took her hand and raising it said, "First, lady, I am not your brother."

Gunnarr knocked his arm away with a grin, and took Grainne's hand himself, "You might as well be, brother. Woo your own woman." There was a fierce edge to the smile that Alrekr respected by stepping away a mocking pace or two.

"At any rate, she seems like an apt enough pupil." he joked, reaching out to flick a bite mark on Gunnarr's neck then pointedly turning his attention to Grainne's similarly reddened throat. This earned him another whack.

"Not at all, a scholar in her own right. I feel a pressing need to learn all she has to teach. Also, the local language."

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