The crumbling remnants of the ancient trade route known as Imperial Way remained heavily trafficked, even in these dangerous times. War refugees, wandering bands of elves, traders and even the occasional military patrol from the North passed along this flat stretch of land where, even centuries after it had last seen any maintenance, a few stones and one or two of the old Wayside Station buildings could be seen here and there.
With the traffic, the Hog & Horse Inn was an oft-frequented place, busy all times of day and night with dozens of customers. Since it was first constructed half a century ago, each of its owners had made a tidy profit in just a few years' time and then sold the place to retire in comfort. Each owner that was, until Darith Wayam. Darith genuinely loved the life of an Innkeeper, and he intended to stick to that profession for the rest o his life. Most of the time his young wife, Avera, was content in that knowledge. The work kept her so busy that she didn't have time to think about it.
The exception to this was winter. It was told that in the ancient days, before the Godfall, the Priests of the Sun-god Jordil in service to the great Gothrond Empire would travel Imperial Way all the way from its source at the hidden elf-lands to the great southern ports, calling upon Divine Light to melt away the snow and keeping the trade road open. But those days were long past; Jordil and many of his fellow gods were dead and gone, and the Gothrond Empire with all its glories nothing more than a memory.
In winter, Avera Wayam had no customers to keep busy, no duties to occupy her mind with. In winter, Avera Wayam was alone with her misery. Her husband and their employees were there, of course, but Darith Wayam was only interested in his wife when none of the barmaids would accompany him to the "secret" room he kept for his trysts... a room he had unwittingly revealed to her once when, too deep into his cups, he had mistaken her for a stranger and invited to the room. Her parents had assured her that the marriage to Darith would be a good one, for surely in just a few years he would retire a wealthy man and she would find herself living in one of the great walled cities of the North (if, in fact, those were anything more than myths born of history). But shortly after their wedding, Darith had made it clear to her that he intended to die an Innkeeper... and that she, therefore, would die an Innkeeper's wife and nothing more.
Mid-winter, when the days were short and the frigid nights long, was the worst. Avera sat staring into the hearth fire, which her husband insisted be kept bright and cheery at all times should a customer come calling, and tried not to cry. She had been considered the most beautiful girl in many generations in her home village; pale-skinned with raven-dark hair (evidence, she was told, that one of her ancestors had interbred with a barbarian of the Eastern Plains) and blue eyes. Her figure was lovely... firm, round breasts and well-rounded hips spoke of her ability to bear healthy children. She just couldn't understand why her husband didn't want to give her any. She was beginning to suspect that he enjoyed her misery.
Outside, she heard the sound of hooves and the jingle of harness, but these were not the sounds of the horses her husband and his men took when they left to hunt. These had the sound of larger horses, their hoof-falls sure and powerful. War horses. Rushing to the door, Avera looked outside and saw seven men such as she had never seen before. Hard-faced and cold-eyed, all of them bore scars from battle. Two of them were of half-elven blood, but lacked the characteristic fey beauty their kind was known for. All seven men wore battle armor and weapons, except one who sat wrapped in a midnight blue robe, an orb that seemed to be filled by a tiny storm within floating by his left shoulder. Avera had seen mages before, of course, but rarely did they travel with such company.
But it was the leader of this band that she was drawn to. She knew him to be the leader because she had seen mercenary units and adventuring bands aplenty in her time as an Innkeepers wife. She knew the way that deference was paid to the one who led safely through danger, whether that person bore an official rank or not. These men spoke with thick accents, but she understood them still, and knew that this man was called by his name, not by any rank. "Thedrun" she whispered to herself.
Thedrun was unlike any she had seen before. In aspect he was not much different from many of his kind. Of average height, but with a powerful physical build, Thedrun wore armor of black scales and an ancient breastplate marked with the seal of the mighty War-god Noranos. An axe hung from a harness on his back. His hair was long and dusky red, worn loose save for a single thick braid on the left side of his head, and his well-trimmed beard matched the color. His eyes were as glowing emeralds, piercing all that they turned upon, including, finally, Avera Wayam. No, it was not his appearance... many Warlords were his equal or even his superior by purely physical standards. What set Thedrun apart was the way his inner essence... a savage warrior without apology, noble only in that he followed his own Code unerringly, burned like the brightest of watch-fires.
"Innkeeper?" His voice was startlingly low, but full of command.
Avera shook her head. "No, milord. My husband will not return until he has completed the hunt."
Looking the Hog & Horse over as if he were appraising the den of a serpent, Thedrun gestured toward the huge stable that sat alongside the main building. "Stable the horses. We stay here tonight, ride in the morning." Turning back, Thedrun headed toward the Inn, his stride sure, obligating Avera to move out of his way as he entered.
Avera closed the door behind him, marveling at the power of a man who, by all appearances, was no greater than many others she had seen in her two years at this tavern. It was as if he had never questioned any thought he had, any move he made. And by the loyalty and voiceless obedience of his men, it was clear that he had good reason not to question; rarely did his decisions lead to ill. "Food, milord?"
Turning back toward her, Thedrun smiled, revealing white teeth that brought a shiver to her entire body. His smile was that of the predator, and there was no mistaking that. "Yes." Again, his voice was soft, almost difficult to hear, but in it the command was obvious.
Avera wanted to run back into the kitchen, or even right back out the door. Anything to get away. But those eyes remained locked on hers, and a deeper desire took hold. Without another word spoken between them, she reached to the simple string that held her breasts pinned beneath the matronly clothes her husband preferred she wear. Only slightly more hesitation accompanied her next movement; her other tiny finger hooking the top and dragging downward, exposing ample breasts and beautifully pink nipples, already starting to harden from the cold air... or from arousal, she couldn't be sure.
Her eyes had still not left his, and she moaned softly at the approval, the excitement she saw burning there. Never had any man looked at her naked form with such need, and she knew that she was going to give this man everything he demanded. But only an instant later she recoiled as he stepped toward her; his size and war-like mien intimidating despite her rapidly growing arousal. Where her movements had been fluid and alluring, his were quick and economical. A hard pull on a strap let his chest plate fall to the floor; a few more left his scaled-armor in a pile, leaving him in the padded clothes all men-of-war wore beneath their armored suits. A flick of his wrist exposed a dagger; until now hidden in a leather brace on his left forearm. Fear flooded her once more, but still she could not flee, his eyes on hers holding her hostage.
Despite her terror, the feel of the freezing steel against her flesh sent another thrill through her as he dragged it expertly down her back, cutting away cloth without leaving so much as a scratch on her lovely pale flesh. Another flick and the dagger was gone, as were her clothes, pulled roughly and tossed aside casually. Fully exposed before the warlord Thedrun, she felt the mix of fright and anticipation bringing warmth to her thighs, and she saw that Thedrun sensed it. Her eyes closed as she felt his strong hands grasping her breasts. Like his voice, his touch was a strange combination of gentility and command, and her body responded once more, her nipples hardening enticingly as he rolled them between his fingers. Avera could feel a trickle between her legs... something she usually only began to feel around the time her husband was finished having his way with her, and she wondered at this mans ability to make her body respond.
Her breath quickening, her skin flushed, Avera tried to speak, to ask him to take her, but she found his mouth on hers, kissing her fiercely for only the briefest moments before he turned her body away from his. She stood, exposed and confused while she listened to him undressing behind her. Soon she could feel his manhood near her arse, followed by his hand on her shoulders. His touch was enough to spur her to action, bending herself over the table she had been standing near, exposing her flower to him. She heard him inhaling deeply through his nose, and for the first time ever, she noticed the intoxicating scent of her own arousal. Still, Thedrun did not rush to take her, instead slapping her ass roughly. Looking over her shoulder, Avera could see that the strike had brought out a pretty red color and a pleasant sting as the man repeated the process, making the other cheek match its partner.
She tried to find his eyes, wanting to be held and forced to comply by them again, but looking backward from this awkward position, all she could see was his chest, heaving with ragged breath, but she felt his hands suddenly grasping her ass roughly, then sliding up to her hips. Though her husband had never taken her in this manner, she understood what was coming next by some deep-rooted instinct. She felt his presence behind her, and then whimpered in unchecked pleasure as he finally entered her with his member, thrusting powerfully rather than probing gently. Then she was lost in a world of pleasure as he repeated the thrust, again and again, varying the speed and depth. Her first orgasm, her first ever, confused her, the second and third sent her downward into a world of pure sensation where nothing existed except the sensations rocking her body with ever greater force.
Only as she was beginning to return to the realm of the physical world did she notice the throbbing within her, and understand the meaning of the triumphant growls coming from behind. Thedrun was about to spill his seed within her. She thought she should scream, remind him of her husband, but she found that she wanted nothing more in the entire world than to feel the warlord's release. As if sensing her approval, his cock pulsed evenly several times, and she felt a new heat within her, and knew it was him leaving himself within her. The sense and knowledge that he had done so was somehow comforting to her, making her feel both wanted and protected in a way she had never felt with her husband.
When she heard him stirring again behind her, she spun slowly, her body sore, to sit on the table. Their mixed juices ran down her legs, and she knew that there was no way she would be able to hide her abused womanhood should her husband come calling tonight. She watched him, shame and pleasure warring within her until he came back to enfold her in his arms, her head resting against his chest.
"When we ride tomorrow morning, you will accompany us."
She was surprised by his words, but found herself nodding before she even had time to consider. She wasn't certain why, but she knew that this was something she had always wanted... always needed.