tagNonConsent/ReluctanceTwisted Fairy Tale Ch. 01

Twisted Fairy Tale Ch. 01


"That whore has lured my son to her bed with her promises and her witchcraft. She's made him her slave. He even sold our inn. The Gallant Gendarme has been in our family for three generations and he sold it to buy a cottage out in the woods because that- that tart 'didn't like all the crowds'. Bah! He knows full well his father left him that inn expecting it to be the succor of my old age. And now what do we have? Nothing. A one-room cottage on the edge of town, right by the offal ditch. I demand satisfaction! This is a magic-free county and I want the witch punished! One has only to look at her to see she is fey. Her hair is unnatural, for one thing." The woman who spoke was late in years, her back hunched, wrinkles making a map of her face, but there was passion in her voice and a hard gleam in her eye. Most petitioners were humble, with downcast eyes, aware of imposing on their lordship's time, but any humility the crone had ever possessed must have been used up long ago. She looked Lord Torrance dead in the eye and demanded an end to the troubles her family had seen ever since her son had brought that woman in from the cold two years ago.

Aric crossed one black leather-clad leg over the other and let his gaze sweep around the oak-paneled hall that served as courtroom. The floor was made of flagstones with a stone dais built against the far wall, upon which rested one chair made of smooth mahogany. It had wide arms and was large enough to curl up in, though it was not quite a throne. Though it was larger than the man who sat in it, he was not made small by comparison.

Acting as judge was one of the many duties that had fallen to him since the death of his father. He'd had no idea there was so much business involved in being lord. Small wonder his father had sought his escapes where he found them. The young man switched his attention back to the accuser. Most likely her son had made an ass of himself for a pretty face. It was not unique in the history of men. But she had brought her complaint and waited her turn so it must be addressed. And suppose there really was magic at work here? His features hardened. If there was, he would root it out.

The young lord had warm brown hair and eyes that were as dark a green as pine. Currently they were fixed on the woman standing in the accuser's box. She was a stoop-backed crone with gray hair and a face as wrinkled as an old apple. She trotted out one story after another and the accused had not even been brought into the courtroom yet. There were another 6 cases to hear and if he let her go on like this he'd be stuck in the courtroom til mid-afternoon. He didn't have time for it. Aric had never realized how much his father had to accomplish inside a single day, but since the old man's death all the responsibilities of Lord Torrance fell upon his shoulders along with the title. He stifled a yawn. God, sitting still like this was making him sleepy. What was the old woman on about now? Something about a neighbor who'd moved away years ago but used to let his pigs into her yard or some such thing.

"The name of the accused?" he asked, his voice ringing clearly.

"She calls herself Lora, my lord," said the old woman. "But it's probably Bellara, or Gwenyff, or some fey thing."

"Thank you, Mrs. Bersham. Your complaints have been heard and I will bring in the accused for questioning."

Lord Torrance motioned to two men standing by the far doors—double doors made of sturdy oak and carved with a whirling pattern of leaves and vines—and they left, returned shortly, accompanied by a young woman.

Her head was bowed as they brought her to stand in front of him. Her thick, long hair was white, a color unnatural in one so young. That counted against her but it was not unheard of. Perhaps she'd experienced some trauma in her life. He didn't know if she was fair of face but her hips and bosom were well-fleshed and her waist dipped neatly between them in a space a man might ache to curve his hand around. No, it was not necessarily witchcraft that had made the old woman's son a fool over her.

"Are you the woman who calls herself Lora and lives with Mrs. Bersham and her son?"

"Yes." Her voice was clear though her head stayed down.

"An accusation has been brought against you. You are accused of corrupting a man with witchcraft and bringing him to your bed without his will. You are accused of inducing him to sell all he owns and accepting jewels and gifts he could not afford to bestow. How do you answer these charges?"

"Not guilty." Sidra knew this couldn't last for long. Looking at the floor was not a solution. But somehow she couldn't bring herself to raise her head. Any minute now he would see who she was– Maybe he wouldn't recognize her. It had been nine years. She'd grown up some. What can she have meant to him anyway? Surely, he wouldn't recognize her. But she was standing not fifteen feet away from him and it felt like a vain hope. But something in her couldn't bring things to a head; she couldn't look up herself. She had to wait for him to say–

"Why do you stare at the ground? Is it because you don't want me to see the guilt in your face? Look me in the eyes and tell me again how you plead."

Sidra lifted her head and looked him square in the eye and said nothing. He was a sight to take her breath away, even though she had been expecting to see him. It took a moment to find in him the gawky 17-year-old he had been, too tall for his body, rich brown hair hanging in his eyes. He had grown up in the last nine years. If he had been attractive as a boy he was devastatingly handsome now. His hair was cut short but the bangs were still too long. His dark green eyes were riveted on her. They seemed to rake her body the way her pale green ones scoured his. He was lean and his black leather breeches fit him as though the skin were his own and not the deer's. A flowing dark gray shirt was tucked into them—he was still in mourning, of course—embroidered in silver at collar and cuffs. Sidra almost couldn't breath, he was so beautiful. His cheekbones angled down to his perfect lips that were twisted into a scowl, directed at her.

She tried to speak again. "Not guilty, my lord," she said, somehow, in a clear, loud voice, but then looked quickly down again.

His dark green eyes were riveted on her. Sidra. She was older and her hair was not nearly so long—long, pale hair wrapping in coils around her head, her body, his body, plaited or twisted into ropes. He used to brush it for her as they sat on the floor, his legs wrapped around her—but she had the same pale green eyes, wine-red mouth. She had grown up but there she was.

He felt a rush of warmth toward her which he quickly capped.

Sidra. Magic-user. Escaped by witchcraft from the West Tower nine years ago. Abandoning him to his father's wrath, his father who was sure that he had helped her. The entire courtroom was hushed, almost silent. She peeked up through her lashes and saw that he was leaning forward in his chair now, his elbow on his knee and his chin in his hand. Still studying her.

He wanted to have her taken from his sight. Thrown in the dungeons. Imprisoned. So he could keep an eye on her. Certainly not! Because he knew this woman had magic. She'd probably used it against him as she had against that innkeeper's son. This was a magic-free county from the days of his grandfather. He wouldn't allow her to flout their laws. He wanted to declare her guilty and have her removed at once but something stopped him. He was still a new lord. His actions had to be transparent to his people so they would learn they could trust him as they had never trusted his father. Almost choking on the words he forced himself to continue but his tone was harsh.

"And why should we believe you?"

"Because I didn't do it, my lord," Sidra said.

"Is it true that these people took you in, 'out of the cold', two years ago?" he said, his voice scathing.

"It is true."

"And did this man give you gifts, sell his patrimony and give the proceeds to you?"

She was silent.

"Speak up, girl, I cannot hear you."

"Yes, he gave me gifts," she said.

"Did he sell his patrimony and give you the proceeds?"


"Did you accept the monies?"


"So you admit that you welcomed him into your bed in exchange for money . . . 'gifts'?"

Sidra's temper flared. Look at him, acting so sanctimonious. She knew the circles he traveled in. She'd heard.

"My lord, the mistress of any nobleman at court accepts gifts and money and welcomes a man to her bed that she would spurn without such motivation."

"So you admit you are a whore!"

"I do not say any such thing. I merely point out that my lord turns a blind eye when it suits him!"

"Do you accuse me of something?" he asked dangerously.

She'd gone too far, she could tell. She tried to surround herself with implacable calm as she raised her gaze to his and saw his dark green eyes fixed on her face. Then they traveled lower and swept her body to her feet and back up again, lingering on her breasts. Sidra felt the urge to blush and fought it, hoping she succeeded.

"You look like you have a whore's body. You have accepted a whore's payment. How would you prove to me you are anything else?"

"I see a dozen whores on your streets when I venture out into this dirty capital. You cannot tell me whoring is a crime."

"It is, without a license, provided by me."

"And what do you charge for such a license," she murmured under her breath.

"Pardon me?" he asked, taking two steps down from his dais. The people in the courtroom gasped and Aric remembered himself just in time.

"I'm done with this case. The woman has admitted to being an unlicensed whore, regardless of whether or not she's a witch. Take her from here and lock her in the– the top of the West tower, until the old woman's claims can be verified," he ordered.

Aric returned to his seat.

"Don't! I did not-" she was interrupted when the two guardsmen swept her up between them and started to march her out of the room. "Aric! I did not say I was a whore!" Lord Torrance could hear her protests getting quieter as she was led down the hall and toward the tower. The West tower.

"Next case," he said, voice still angry, as he rested his head against the fingertips of one hand.

The case that followed was between a goose girl and the owner of another flock, something to do with a goose that had been drowned in a lake. Lord Torrance was not paying very close attention but from what he could tell it seemed like the man had drowned the girl's goose and taken the meat for himself. The man said it was his own goose and he had the right to butcher it. Aric was having trouble figuring out what the problem was, finally interrupting the girl in mid-sentence and proclaiming his decision, awarding the case to the butcher.

After that was something between two members of the baker's guild, one man accused of stealing flour from the locals who paid to bake their own bread in his oven. He arbitrarily awarded that case as well.

When he found his mind wandering in the middle of the third case he knew he had to stop. He would gain nothing by continuing, certainly not the good will of his people, who would only see him as fickle and inattentive if he kept deciding cases like this.

Aric granted a quick decision in that case then dismissed everyone else, telling the remaining petitioners to return in two days time.


Sidra was left alone for several hours. It was all, all too familiar. The bed in the corner. The nightstand. The ceiling beams. The chairs, small table. A chest that was empty. The large, barred windows on four sides. Bare walls. Bare floor. She looked for anything that might help her escape, if escape proved necessary, but of course there was nothing. Last time she'd only managed to escape with the help of her fairy godmother, and fairies could only appear to the pure and innocent, two things she no longer was.

Her fairy godmother had whisked her back home, only to discover they didn't need her there. She was no longer heir. A cousin had been born, two weeks younger than she, and closer in the line of succession. They'd rejoiced at her arrival and tried to make her feel welcome but she knew they didn't want her there. She was a reminder of what they'd done, that they'd sold her in utero to Lord Torrance and then reneged, two dishonarable actions. But her cousin seemed to warm to her. He invited her to his hunting estate and took her for a tour of the gardens. He invited her to take off her shoes and feel the grass beneath her feet, something she had not felt in a very long time. She thanked him. Eventually he led her to a large hedge maze. He said they were to play a game called hounds and hares. He led her to the entrance, then he blocked it with three armed guards. He said her goal was to make it to the unguarded exit of the maze without being caught by any of the "hounds". They would be waiting for her at some of the dead ends, along with two roaming "hounds" (he and a friend) who could travel through the maze at will in search of her.

"What do I get if I win?"

"Anything you want and a pack of loyal hounds to do your bidding."

"And what happens if they catch me?" she asked with an arch smile.

"You lose," he said. "And whatever happens, I advise you not to scream. The stationary hounds can only leave their posts when you scream. I'm going to count to forty and then I'm coming in there after you so I advise you to run." She started into the maze, going cautiously. She took the first turning to her right, peering around corners before she went that way. She heard something up ahead and looked cautiously through a gap in the hedge. A noblemen. Hound, must be. She turned and quietly walked back to the entrance but now she could hear her cousin coming down the way, calling to her.

"Sidra . . . Sidra . . . Where are you, my little hare?"

She knew there was a hound at the end of this path so she couldn't go there. If she stayed where she was her cousin could just turn his head and see her. Her only chance was to run back to the main path to where it branched out again and hope that led, at least, to an unoccupied dead end. She left her hiding place and ran back to the main way but her cousin was there.

"Aha!" he cried. She ran, turning at the first opportunity down what was an unoccupied dead end but her cousin was close on her heels. She turned to face him. He came at her slowly. She tried to duck around him but he grabbed her wrist.

"Caught you," he said.

She grinned at him, still unaware of her danger. "So you have," she said.

He grabbed the back of her head and kissed her. She shoved him away.

"Collin!" she said. "What are you doing?"

"Is it not fair I earn some prize for catching you? Would my cousin begrudge me a kiss?"

Sidra's head swum with thoughts of Aric but she said, "No, indeed I would not. You have won the day."

She kissed him and his hands roved down her body. He squeezed her buttocks.

"That is enough, sir!" she said, struggling to get free. "I said that is enough!"

"Now cousin," he said, still holding her tight against him. "It is not for the defeated to dictate terms to their conqueror." With one hand he reached inside her bodice.

Sidra elbowed him in the gut and ran, not paying attention to where she was going, forgetting about the game, just fleeing from him. She ended up back down the first dead end but she could hear Collin coming after her, calling to her playfully, and if she didn't get out of sight soon he would see her. She turned round the last corner and ran straight into the waiting nobleman.

"Hide me," she said.

"Shhh," he whispered. "Shhh. Don't make any noise or he'll hear you."

He caught her and held one arm around her head, hand clasped tight over her mouth. His other hand gathered up her skirts, whispering all the while, "Shhh, now, my lady. Shhh, now. I'm not going to hurt you. Shhh, now." He ran his hand down her thigh and up the inside, running his fingers along her slit. Sidra squealed against his hand. "Shhh, now. Collin finds you it'll be a lot worse." They could hear him calling for her.

"Sidra . . . Sidra . . . Where are you, little hare?"

Her captor stuck a finger up inside her, saying all the while, "Shhh, now, my lady. Shhh, now." She was dry inside and she couldn't help squealing again into his hand. He tried adding a second finger but couldn't get it in, then began to move the one in and out of her. "Shhh, now, lady. Shhh, now." He managed to add the second finger, jamming it into her, making her jump every time he pushed in to the base of his knuckles, then pulled out again. She began to cry, tears falling from her eyes to pool in the crease between his hand and her mouth, then running down the side of her face. He shoved his fingers in and out, in and out, faster faster. "Shhh, now, my lady. Shhh, now." He began to kiss her, running his tongue along the outside of her ear, sucking on her neck, never moving his hand from where it was clasped tightly over her mouth. His dry fingers abrading her insides. "Shhh, now, my lady. Shhh, now." His voice grew hoarse as he continued to move his fingers inside of her. He tried to stick a third finger into her but she cried out, too tight for that. "Shhh, my lady. Shhh, now." Her captor groaned and came inside his pants. Trembling, he held her a moment more, his fingers deep inside her. Then he pulled them out and let her skirt fall down around her. He took his hand off her mouth and Sidra ran. She could hear Collin still calling for her but he was far away now. She didn't look behind her or she would have seen the hound bringing his fingers to his mouth and licking them off.

Not knowing what else to do, she ran to her cousin.

"Collin," she cried, catching up his hands. "Collin, you cannot mean to let them dishonor me. Your own cousin?"

He looked at her, unpityingly.

"What honor?" he said. "Lord Torrance kept you eighteen years. Even if he did not defile you, which no one believes, who would have you? You'll never marry. You will never be wife or queen. But, as soon-to-be-King of this land, I can't let a national resource go to waste. A body like yours," he said. He pulled her up against him and yanked at the neckline of her dress, pulling it down around her shoulders, then further, trapping her arms and freeing her breasts. He locked his arms around her back and buried his face in her chest, sucking on the first nipple he came to. Sidra wriggled in his arms and at last managed to break away. She pulled her dress up as she ran, tucking her breasts out of sight.

Collin did not run after her too quickly. He knew he would find her eventually and his friends had orders to save the best part for him.

Sidra understood, now. She ran blindly, turning at random. She chose an ill turning and found a dead end with a young lord waiting for her. He grinned and she turned back the way she'd come, running right into the arms of Collin's frend Hayden, the other of the roaming hounds.

She screamed.

"Hush, now, darling."

She screamed again.

"Quiet," he commanded. "The other hounds can only leave their places when they hear you screaming. So unless you want more company . . ."

To prove his words the noble she'd just fled rounded the corner and saw her. He grinned wickedly and jerked his head in the direction of his out of sight little corner of the maze.

Hayden pulled her along with him to the dead end.

"Now," he said, letting her go, but he and the other man blocking her escape, "be a good girl and this won't go so bad for you."

Her eyes wide, scanning for possible escape routes, for time, Sidra said, "Wh-what do you want?"

Hayden cocked his head to the side, as if disappointed in such an obvious ploy. "We want you to entertain us, little hare. I'll expect you're quite good at it, locked up so long, as you were, for the entertainment of Lord Torrance."

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