tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Citadel Ch. 01 Captured

The Citadel Ch. 01 Captured

byPitchblack_stories©

Chapter 1 - Captured

© 2018 By Pitchblack_stories

Edited by Dannysuling

They had left the crowded streets and reached the gate of the citadel high above the city. The massive stones of the gate tower loomed menacingly above her and the iron-bound door wings on both sides of the archway looked like a gapping maw ready to devour anyone into its abyssal depths. Their small group had to wait for the thick iron grate closing the entryway to be jerkily drawn up by rusty chains, which clinked and groaned with every yank of the hoisting winch. She turned her head to look down below over the fields beyond the scattered houses at the foot of the castle rock towards the distant mountains. The sun, a small red ball, touched the horizon on its way up and cast long shadows into the low-ceiled passageway beyond.

She could hear the shouts of the guards high above on the walkways, and observed as the flags were run up on poles that overtopped the various towers. As soon as they unfurled, the colourful cloth ballooned and clattered in the strong gale that roared over the battlements. Unaffected by this sight, her eyes wandered towards the small crowd gathering together in the shadow of the gate. They also waited but, contrary to her, once they had their business finished here, they would leave and return back to their comfortable homes.

A gust of cold morning wind made her shiver. She would have embraced herself and rubbed away the feeling of coldness on her bare skin, but her arms were drawn behind her back and bound there with rough hemp ropes looped tightly around her small wrists. Her eyes filled with hatred as her sight trailed along the noose around her neck towards the balding man holding the taut rope attached to it. The tender flesh of her neck had become scuffed sore and red by of the multiple tugs and jerks he had doled out to march her up here.

When he noticed her stare, he threw a scornful curse into her direction. He had scolded and pestered her all along the walk. At the beginning she had fought back as best as she could, earning her more bruises and humiliations, but now she had grown tired of this perpetual abuse. She didn't want to provoke another one of his jibes, so she stifled the urge to hit back at him and dropped her gaze.

Her eyes looked down over the ripped brown velvet of her gold-trimmed bodice. Once the fine cloth had fitted perfectly and followed snugly the ample curves of her body, down from her well-rounded bosom to the tight-laced waistline. But now the garment was disheveled and soiled, the lace in front of it severed and torn apart from the rough fight during her capture....

...She had seen them sauntering into the front yard of her small house: two stocky guys, the black leather of their clothing well-worn and studded with iron. Their brown woolen capes billowed behind them in the morning wind and the attached hoods were drawn back to reveal their fuzzy hair and scarred visages. She hadn't recognized them, but the scowl on their faces spelled trouble. Alarmed, she had decided to not hang around, and had darted out of the back door.

But they were not stupid and had foreseen her escape attempt. A third one waited outside in the shadows, and as she crossed the threshold he hit her across the stomach with a thick wooden cudgel. The air blown out of her lungs, she doubled over and slumped onto the cobblestones of the walkway. Sprawled out and heavily gasping for breath, she was easy prey. Her attacker took hold of her arms and dragged her back into the house. Meanwhile, the other two men had made it into the kitchen and were ready for her return.

'Scarface' and 'Stinker' she would nickname them later, and the one who had hit her she labeled 'Slaphead'. Scarface came for her first. Grinning from ear to ear, his ugly smile was worsened by a hideous slash that ran from the eyelid down his entire cheek and ended with a jagged hole in his lips over his right mouth corner. She tried to give him a fight when he pounced on her, but she was still too dizzy from the wallop to her midsection to mount more than a feeble resistance.

With a palm broad as a cooking top, Scarface smashed away her hands raised in defence. Easily he caught hold of her neck and pressed her chest against the sturdy kitchen table, squashing her breasts against the rough wooden surface. Taken aback from that brutal attack, she couldn't prevent Stinker from seizing one of her arms, which he then twisted forcefully around by her shoulder joint and bent it behind her back. Partly nauseated by the reeking odor that escaped his foul mouth, she had cried out in pain and tried to escape the tight grip on her hand, but he took hold of the other arm and yanked it back behind her body as well, bringing her second wrist together with the first one.

"No! Stop!" she screamed at them desperately, her shoulders aching from the unnatural position, "Stop, you ugly cowards! Leave me alone!"

But they ignored her outraged cries, and while both of them fixed her upper body immovable against the wooden table and pressed her hands vigorously together, Slaphead seized the chance to loop a rough hemp rope around her wrists, tying them firmly together. In desperation she tried to tear the bonds apart, but the tight knots didn't loosen an inch. Instead, her tugs and pulls caused the ropes to cut deep into her flesh and left bloody scratches on the skin of her arms.

"Stop fighting now, bitch!" Scarface bellowed as she carried on to wriggle her arms, trying frantically to squirm free of their grasp. He grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her around. When she didn't cease her resistance he slammed her back repeatedly against the table. The air was blown out of her lungs, but the beating fuelled her exertions even more.

"Get off me, bastards!" she hissed at them, her voice filled with disgust and hatred. "Leave me alone!"

In helpless rage she had tossed and turned her body back and forth to shake the attackers off. The cutlery, dishes, and glasses she had prepared for her dinner were thrown off the kitchen table. Battered against the surrounding walls, most of them shattered into tiny pieces. Suddenly she felt rough fingers digging into the front of her clothing.

"What are you doing?" she shrieked with a frightened voice, while she redoubled her efforts to break free. "Get your hands off me!"

With a sudden whang, the lace that held the front of her bodice together ripped apart. Her breasts, now free of the embrace of the tight-fitting corselet, bounced wildly up and down. Up next, the white linen of her tucker slipped out of its position and would have entirely exposed her bosom unprotected to their view, but in that moment she managed to kick out and her feet hit something soft with a solid thud.

A short moment of silence followed that allowed her to rise somewhat from the table when one of her abductors surprisingly let go, but then an angry roar bellowed through the room and a calloused hand slapped her smartly over her right cheek.

"Fucking bitch! You will pay for this!" she heard Slaphead's rough curse. Considering that his raucous voice was racked with pain, he must have taken her heel full force into his private parts. More brutal slaps rained on her face and tossed her head back and forth. Eventually her vision went black. She was thrown off the table and dropped barely conscious to the floor. Sturdy boots kicked her viciously in the stomach. In fetters, the protection of her hands denied, she curled up into a ball to avoid the blows. She felt so sick she thought she would vomit right on the floor, but then the others reined her attacker in.

"Don't waste your time on that cunt. Soon she'll suffer more than enough for all her misdeeds," Scarface tried to calm his enraged mate.

"Sure she will, and not too short! I'll see to that!" he spat out, but at least turned away.

Her face felt like fire, the flesh of her cheeks swollen and rubbed sore. She tried to draw herself up on her knees but both of her legs felt wobbly and without the help of her tightly bound hands she went down to the floor again.

"Please, let me go," she groaned. "Please, I haven't done anything.... Oh god...!"

"Shut up, slut. You'll need your breath soon enough when we get you to the place you belong," Slaphead cut her short. As he said this, a thick rope was slung around her neck. Her eyes widened as she felt the rough hemp constrict around her throat. Each additional loop took more of her breath away and cut it short to sharp little pants, squeezed audibly through her tightly compressed windpipe. She choked when he took the rope and knotted it into a noose around her neck, just leaving enough of the cord dangling down over her chest to form a crude leash.

"Get up bitch, time to move!" Slaphead barked at her.

A sharp tug on the leash had accompanied that command. She had never felt that humbled before. Hot tears had welled in her eyes when the taut rope snapped her neck forward. She strained against the pull, but the tightening noose cut off her breath and she had to give in. She clenched her jaws while she struggled desperately to get up on her feet. Helplessly trussed up, she had to follow them out of the house and had been dragged down the busy city streets....

...The bright light of the morning sun interrupted her memory and brought her back into reality. She squinted as the beams played over the white shift beneath her bodice, letting the linen cloth shine with a brilliant glare. It too had suffered from her ordeal and slipped out of place, but still covered her bosom to some extent. The fine woolen skirt, bought cheerfully only a fortnight ago, had become soiled and dirty, not only from the men while they brutally battered her into captivity, but also from repeatedly tripping and falling down on her knees during the ensuing walk. Beneath its tattered hem she could see her tan suede slippers, now soggy and sodden from scuffing her feet through the puddles on the garbage-littered streets....

...After they had left her home she was goaded on like tethered cattle on their way to the butchery. Slaphead had taken the leash around her neck. Maliciously he kept the rope so short and tight that she was forced to hunch down and bend her back like a repentant sinner. Every time she tried to draw herself up he jerked the leash forcefully down. Thrown out of balance by these guileful assaults, she barely managed to stay on her feet.

The other two men had followed close behind her. Both of them alternately spurred her on, either by whacks on her butt or by strokes on the back of her thighs with a stick. Maddened and furious by their backstabbing harassments, she tried to turn around and kick them, but they easily avoided her clumsy attack.

"You won't do that again, bitch!" Stinker hissed and pulled out a piece of thick cord that he used to tether her feet together.

From then on she had been forced to stagger forward with short steps, hobbled by the short rope tied between her ankles. They taunted and laughed at her by turns, and when she tried to regain her balance after one of the leash tugs, Scarface intentionally jabbed his stick between her legs and pulled on the rope there to let her trip. More than once she crashed to her knees on the dirty cobblestones, hurting herself badly and smearing her clothes in the vile swill running through the gutter-stones in the middle of the alleyways.

Even though those constant abuses kept her busy, she noticed that she was mainly trudged through the less crowded side streets. It seemed that her kidnappers hadn't wanted to attract too much attention. Sometimes during her ordeal she was able to glance at the folk passing by. Few of their faces showed compassion about her pitiful appearance, but on most of them she could only recognize distrust and revulsion. When their group was some steps away they had whispered flutteringly, but nobody had lifted a finger to help her or accuse the men pestering her on her humiliating treatment. Even though she was a stranger to them, some people even displayed open hatred, shouting abuses or spitting in front of her feet. She had no idea why, perhaps they thought of her to be a thieving tramp or a wanton slut, caught whoring around. Or maybe she was just an easy mark to let off steam for whatever reason they had to despise a mere woman.

They were still on the streets when the sun started to settle down and dark shadows gathered in the backyards and side streets. She could only guess about their whereabouts or their destination, but it seemed that they were on their way to the eastern city gates. A dark cloud of desperation had settled over her mind, her gaze forced downward as she trotted on, when Slaphead suddenly stopped and turned towards the others.

"I told you to hurry on in the morning and not to loaf around the whole day. We should have gone for this cunt earlier this afternoon. Now, we won't make it in time, and the gates will be closed before we reach them. Today we won't be able to deliver her to the citadel," he called out.

"Aye, true," Scarface answered. He scratched his head and mulled over that dilemma for some minutes.

"I think the best would be to bring her in safe for the night. The old watch house is not far from here. A room to stay and a bed for the night," he continued on, and looked towards their prisoner. When she didn't respond he grabbed her chin and turned it to face him. As her hateful stare met his gaze, he cracked a devious smile, flashing his rotten tooth stumps and wagged his head. "Not for you, cunt...no...Not for you. Never mind! There are plenty of nice and tidy cell rooms waiting. Don't think that we'll forget about your comfort." He turned again towards his accomplices, "I hate to let Sir Malcolm wait, though. Sometimes he can be a bit picky about his orders not being fulfilled straightaway."

When the other two nodded, he cleared his throat and spit a large gob of bile into the next street corner. "Well, let's move on, no sense to worry about that now," he sighed.

The warm light of the afternoon sun turned into a smoky blue and soon into dusky twilight. Dark storm clouds gathered on the horizon and promised rain showers in the evening. The busy dealings of the people around them diminished quickly, when more and more stores closed and the good folk left the streets in search for a warm fireplace inside their homes.

Abuses pushed aside, the three men urged her on to reach the gatehouse before getting wet. When the first raindrops pattered the cobblestones they rounded a corner and stopped before a tall building rising up into the dark sky. It looked more like a tower build of rough stones than a house. Its lower windows were barred and shuttered with rough wooden planks, its upper windows bashed in and gloomy black, like sightless eyes bereft of every vision.

"Hurry on! Let's get inside!" Scarface urged them on when the occasional raindrops turned into a hefty downpour and strong gusts of wind howled around the tower. Hurriedly he started to climb the broad stone stairs leading up to a sturdy wooden door, the only visible entrance. While the others huddled together under the porch, he fiddled with one of his belt pouches, fishing a rough iron skeleton key out of it. It fit into the large keyhole, and after turning it a few times the lock clicked open. The door creaked on rusted hinges when he pushed it in. She was ushered into the dark corridor beyond the gate. There they paused for a moment until Stinker took a worn oil lamp from a board and kindled it, shedding a flickering light on the old brick walls around them.

"You! Go the tavern and fetch us some food and ale!" Scarface commanded and poked Stinker into his chest. "I'll" see to getting us a warm fire..." he continued and then turned his gaze towards Slaphead. "... and you'll see our ladyship into her rooms," he grinned. "And make sure she won't be able to leave it during the night."

"Why do I always have to do the unnecessary tasks?" Slaphead grumbled. "Why can't I be the one to go to the tavern?"

"Because you're an ugly bastard, who frightens all the wenches there, and you will booze the entire beer stock empty before returning back," Scarface laughed. "Now get on, you'll get drunk soon enough!"

Slaphead shook his head and muttered some curses, but he didn't object anymore and finally started to walk his prisoner deeper into the house. At the end of the corridor they reached a doorway that was barred by a solid iron grate. Beyond the rusty bars she caught sight of a broad winding stair leading down into murky depths. Slaphead lighted a new oil lamp and pushed the iron grate open.

"Come on, bitch. You go first," he growled, and slapped her in the back. If not for the leash holding her back, she would have tripped over the first tread and plunged down into the darkness. With strained footsteps she continued on, climbing carefully down the stair, which got more and more damp and moldy during their descent. After some further twists they reached the end of the steps, deep underground.

A small hallway opened up in front of her, with a row of several small doors alongside the left wall. Each door was made of banded and riveted iron, showing a spyhole and a small hatch with a slide at its base. Most stood wide open and she could peek inside the small cells behind them. Some of them were complete empty, but in others she recognized spread-out stacks of rotten straw. Segments of broken chains dangled from the ceiling or were strung around sturdy iron rings set into the wall.

"Hmm...Nothing here to lock it properly," Slaphead mused when he examined the worn out latch on one of the cell doors. But a more thorough search of the smashed furniture at the end of the hallway produced an old and rusted padlock, its key still inserted. "That will do nicely," he grinned. "In you go, tart! On your belly!" He shoved her into the nearest available cell.

She stumbled over the threshold into the middle of the narrow room. The walls, made of roughhewn boulders, were only an arm's length apart. She had to bow her neck, else her forehead would have hit against the low ceiling. Too tired, she didn't resist when he took hold of her shoulders and pressed her down onto the hard stones of the cell floor. After he had rolled her on the stomach, Slaphead climbed over her and made a step towards her feet. He grabbed the rope tied between her ankles.

"Too short," he muttered, as he pulled her feet up while the hem of her skirt slid down and revealed her bare calves. He took another rope out of his pocket and tied it midway to the one between her ankles. "That's much better!" he smirked and pulled her feet forward until the heels of her slippers almost touched her buttocks. Her knees were further bent down when his fingers threaded the rope through the binding on her wrists, already resting on her backside. Finally, he pulled the connecting rope back towards her feet and then several times back and forth between her tethered limbs, constricting them in a single one-point tie.

She tried not to cry out, and clenched her jaw tightly while the ache in her shoulders grew stronger with every pull. More and more her arms and feet were drawn together, each loop increasing the constriction of the ropes forcing her body into a rigorous hogtie. With a last forceful jerk he knotted the ropes finally together, putting her fingers and toes in touch with each other.

"Keep still, slut!" he commanded, when she squirmed to ease the growing discomfort that began to emanate from her strained shoulder joints.

For a short moment her upper body was lifted while he took the leash out from under her belly. The rope had been squeezed against her flattened bosom, compressed between her weight and the unyielding stone floor. Then she felt a sharp tug on her throat as Slaphead pulled the leash up over her head. The strain on her neck increased even more when her tormenter drew the rope through a sturdy iron ring mounted chest high on the cell wall above her prone body.

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