A Royal Sacrifice Ch. 06byslyc_willie©
Cedric hardened his face. "She is the Queen," he said firmly, then lowered his head. "Of course it hurts her, what happened to her parents . . . to those who raised her. But she is the regent, and a strong one, at that. There are other things that command her attention."
The matron nodded. "Such as . . . her romance with Prince Drest?"
Cedric met the woman's eyes. "Mayhap," he said. He took a deep breath, letting his chest swell. "I will tell you this: Drest is a good man. A fine man. I dare say he is worthy of the Queen."
Mrs. Albright curtsied quickly. "Your word is enough for me, Guardsman," she said, then touched his cheek once more. "Take good care of her."
Cedric took the woman's hand and squeezed it gently. "Ever my intention," he said meaningfully.
Cedric dragged his feet as he toted the large satchels, loaded with Rebecca's purchases, behind the handmaiden. Elation at being a guardsman in charge of protecting the Queen's servant had become annoyance at being a pack mule. He cursed himself for forgetting that a woman, regardless of her station, is always a woman, and that meant affectation for the material things in life.
He was therefore relieved when Rebecca announced she was done with her shopping.
"Cedric, darling, could you take the purchases to the horse?" she asked as they stopped near the broad caravan bridge that spanned the river dividing the village. "I have one last thing to get, but it may take a few minutes to pick it out. Just wait by the horse, if you would."
The guardsman frowned. "I'm not sure that would be a good idea," he said worriedly. "I am to remain with you at all times."
Rebecca smiled sweetly, her dark eyes twinkling. "You are a gallant man," she said affectionately, touching Cedric's face. She leaned in, planting a soft, lingering kiss just at the corner of his mouth. "I won't be long," she whispered. "I promise."
Cedric's heart fluttered, and he blushed like a young boy just praised for drawing a chalk picture on parchment. "Well . . . all right, then. But don't be long."
Rebecca winked. "It will only take a few moments," she said with a smile, and turned about. Unseen by Cedric, the smile faded quickly as she headed away, replaced by a look of determination.
The guardsman sighed, watching the gentle wriggle of the handmaiden's hips, admiring the way her skirt hung off her graceful hips. But he shook his head, clearing away the beginnings of licentious thoughts, and gathered the satchels in his hands once more. Trudging his way back through the market square to where the horse was tethered, Cedric did not see as Rebecca veered away from the shops of the market square, instead heading toward the long bridge with its numerous covered nooks.
"Were you followed?"
The dark voice startled Rebecca as she sat upon the narrow wooden bench. There were three shallow alcoves on either side of the bridge, used by guards and soldiers and the occasional weary traveler. They were just deep enough for two people to be hidden from prying eyes.
"No, milord," whispered Rebecca, her heart palpitating as she realized she was in the presence of her master. She sighed softly as she felt a strong hand upon her shoulder, the brush of his lips against her right ear.
"Good," he said simply.
Rebecca swallowed with anxiety, yet not the sort that worried her. She immediately felt the moistness between her thighs, the hardening of her nipples against the rough fabric that constrained them. "May I look upon you?"
She heard him move, the barest sounds of rich linen and leather. "Turn about," he said.
Eagerly, Rebecca did so, swinging her legs over the bench. She found herself gazing upon the man of her dreams, in all his formidable glory, his impressive countenance. There surely could not be a more handsome and desirable man in all of Vix . . . indeed, all the world.
Bagdemagus smiled upon his charmed servant. Her devotion, it seemed, was total. The level to which some he charmed went to show their allegiance occasionally surprised the wizard. But if Rebecca had convinced herself that she was in love, then all the better.
The wizard touched the handmaiden's chin, gazing down into her wide dark eyes. He noted the wetness of her lips, how they parted slightly as aroused breath escaped between them. Her total submission was arousing to him. He felt himself swell beneath his breeches. Wordlessly, he straightened, worked the snaps that kept him decent. Before him, Rebecca all but panted in expectation, her eyes locked upon the wizard's groin.
"May I, milord?" she asked breathlessly.
Bagdemagus chuckled. "Of course," he said, and let the handmaiden's hands search through the folds of linen to find her prize. She swooned as she extracted his cock. Her soft, gloved hands were cool about the shaft. Immediately, she shifted on the bench, bring her face closer. She inhaled deeply of his masculine aroma, and whimpered.
"Tell me of the Queen," Bagdemagus commanded as Rebecca lavished his staff with her wet lips and tongue.
Rebecca panted on the wizard's cock, dragging her tongue along stiff, warm flesh for a few moments before responding. "She remains chaste," the handmaiden reported. "But seems to have some bit of attraction for the Prince. Since the death of her parents . . . she appears to . . . appreciate him."
"That is good," the wizard said. He slid a hand behind Rebecca's head and pushed his hips out. He grinned at the grateful, muffled moan the handmaiden emitted as her mouth was filled. He began pumping his hips slowly. "I want you to encourage the Queen to consider Drest a worthy suitor. But subtly. Do you understand?"
"Mm-hmm," mumbled Rebecca, sucking deeply and desperately. Wet smacking sounds escaped her lips, as well as the occasional laborious sigh.
"And watch, as well, that vixen of a half-sister, Viviane," continued Bagdemagus, moving his hips faster, feeling the quickening begin. "She is a crafty one. But do not be obvious about it."
Rebecca slipped her hungry mouth from the wizard's cock, shiny tendrils of saliva streaming from her lips in the growing twilight. Her gloved hands stroked swiftly and firmly. "As you command, milord," she gasped, then dove down once more, sucking greedily, moaning repeatedly with her desire for her lover's release.
Bagdemagus groaned, cradling the girl's bobbing head in his hands. "You serve me well," he whispered. His cock throbbed in the tight, sucking cavity of Rebecca's mouth. "You deserve a reward." With that, he grunted as his release came, gushing from within him to fill the handmaiden's receptive mouth.
Rebecca moaned at tasting the rich, bitter fluid, squeezed and sucked harder to insure she received it all. She savored the taste of him, moaning contentedly as she milked the last drops of fluid from the wizard's staff.
Abruptly, Bagdemagus pulled back, withdrawing his shiny phallus from Rebecca's mouth. "Enough," he said, tucking his spent member away. "Swallow your reward."
Rebecca gave her master a dreamy look, then swallowed his essence with relish. The thick fluid warmed her throat and stomach. She licked and smacked her lips, wiped her chin and the corners of her mouth with the tips of her fingers before sucking them clean. "I exist to serve you, milord," she said. "'Tis all I can think about."
Bagdemagus grinned as he finished rearranging his clothes. "Of course it is."
Enough of this, thought Cedric angrily, eyeing the setting sun. The shops were closing, the merchants with their booths and carts packing up their wares. She's been gone long enough, and I have humored her too much today.
Cedric stood up from the rockbed that surrounded one of the massive oaks Vix was famous for, and found a stout young lad, a few years his junior, lingering nearby. "You! Boy! A silver for your palm if you watch my horse for a bit."
The boy perked up and approached, stopping beside Cedric's mount. "Coin first," he demanded with typical adolescent surety.
The guardsman chuckled, slipped the coin from his belt. He flipped it through the air, and the boy caught it. "I expect everything as right as rain when I return."
The boy winked. "Of course, sir!"
Hands gripping the hilts of sword and dagger, Cedric headed off toward the apothecary toward which he had last seen Rebecca go.
"What do you think?" whispered John as he and Eric stood within the shadows between James the Blacksmith's shop and the apothecary. Both men had their eyes on Cedric as the guardsman approached, then entered, the latter.
"I think we are ill-suited as rogues," commented Eric, adjusting the strap of the crossbow slung over his shoulder. "Nor as spies."
John frowned back at his friend. "We're not spies!" he insisted in a hushed voice. "We're . . . patriots."
Eric rolled his eyes. "Spies," he said. "You know, I could have spent my afternoon enjoying a dalliance with one of the scullery maids, but no . . . I had to listen to you."
"You and your conquests," John scolded. "Here we are, looking out for the welfare of the Kingdom, and all you can think about are your wenches."
Eric sighed. "You call this 'looking out for the welfare of the kingdom?'"
"Much better than shoveling horse feed and manure," bemoaned John, looking back around the corner of the alley. He watched as Cedric emerged, looking worried. The guardsman stopped a pudgy merchant, asked him some questions. The man responded with a shrug, then a thoughtful look, eventually pointing toward the caravan bridge. Cedric thanked the man, then headed off.
"Come on," John said excitedly. "The game's afoot!"
"'The game's afoot?'" echoed Eric dubiously. "Where did that come from?"
John shrugged. "Don't know. Perhaps it will catch on some day. Come on."
Cedric jogged up to the bridge, passing torchlighters as they returned from lighting the lanterns framing the bridge. The guardsman looked about anxiously, his heart beginning to pound. By the saints, he thought. If I've lost her, if some harm has come to her, I shall never forgive myself.
But then he saw her, stepping from one of the alcoves, halfway down the bridge. Rebecca had a small smile on her face, obvious even in the growing dimness.
"Rebecca!" called Cedric.
Her eyes snapped up, her smile vanishing instantly. "Cedric?"
The young guardsman dashed forward, sword scabbard slapping his thigh. "What have you been up to?" he called. "I've been waiting nearly half an—" he trailed off as a dark figure emerged from the shadows behind her, the pale face, framed with jet, malevolent and sneering.
"Rebecca! Look out!" Cedric shouted, doubling his speed even as he withdrew his dagger. Booted feet pounded heavily upon the wooden boards of the bridge. He snapped his arm back, the blade of the dagger pinched between his fingers. "Step away, blackguard!"
Rebecca gasped, seeing the flashing steel in Cedric's hand, and stumbled, falling to the ground. Behind her, the wizard only smirked as the guardsman charged.
"Oh, look," chuckled Bagdemagus. "A hero." His hand slapped to the ivory hilt of the slender sword at his side.
"Keep down, Rebecca!" shouted Cedric bravely, coming to a halt less than twenty paces from the black-suited man whom he assumed was a mere robber or highwayman. His arm snapped forward, hurling the dagger with all his might. The path of the whirling blade would carry it right to the menacing figure's heart.
Inhumanly, however, Bagdemagus pivoted, even as he slipped his sword free with a resounding ring. His free hand caught the flying dagger by the hilt, and as he spun about, the blade was flipped until it was held expertly for throwing. In the blink of an eye, Cedric found his own dagger hurled back toward him with deadly precision.
Desperate wits were all that saved the guardsman from a gruesome death. He jerked to the side, yet still felt a sting along his cheek as the dagger flashed past. Impulsively, he slapped his gloved hand to his face, feeling it slippery with blood.
"You're quick, I'll grant you that," said the wizard as he strode forward, forgetting Rebecca upon the ground. His sword lead the way, like a shaft of silver light jutting forth from darkness. "But how quick, I wonder?"
Cedric gathered his bearing quickly and drew his sword. "Blackguard or assassin, I care not which," he said bravely. "You shall not impugn the dignity of the Queen's handmaiden!"
The dark-garbed man stopped several paces away, cocking his head with an amused expression. "Do they teach you to talk that way at the castle? Or does it just come naturally to you?"
Cedric glared along the length of his blade, holding it firmly with both hands. "You will not distract me," he said. "Step away from Rebecca, and I will let you go."
"Oh, will you? And what if I refuse? Do you think you could do better than your fellow guardsman, that fool pup Rogers?"
Cedric frowned, recalling the name . . . the name of the guardsman he had replaced. The one, it was said, that had been killed by . . . .
"Bagdemagus," whispered Cedric under his breath, his voice wavering.
The wizard grinned, and tapped his temple. "Oh, you are a smart one," he said patronizingly. He raised his sword. "Now, let us test your mettle."
Cedric swallowed nervously. Oh, bloody hell . . . .
At the end of the bridge, John and Eric looked on with wide eyes. Their ears had just caught the conversation between Cedric and the dark figure.
"No, it cannot be," breathed John. He looked anxiously to Eric.
The larger man was quick to take up his crossbow, already cocked and loaded. "Mayhap, mayhap not," Eric said. "And if that fool guardsman would get out of the way, it would not matter."
"But if it is the Spectre," protested John, looking back with worry-filled eyes. "How can we slay him?"
Bagdemagus noticed the two men appearing at the end of the bridge, and stepped to insure that Cedric stood between them. His evil eyes fixed on the guardsman. "Come on, boy, show us if the swordsmen of Vix have gotten better in the past few decades."
Cedric reaffirmed his grip on the hilt of his sword. His eyes darted over the wizard, noting the man's stance: he stood with feet spaced at shoulder-width, his body partially turned back. The singled-egded blade was held in one hand; the wizard's other held back the ends of his long cloak.
Cedric took a breath. "If this is how it must be," he said.
"Oh, it must," returned Bagdemagus, his damnable smirk unfettered. He looked like a cat about to toy with a mouse.
"Then so be it!" exclaimed Cedric, lunging forward. He stabbed with his sword, expecting it to be swatted aside by the wizard's blade. He was not disappointed, and with a pivot and a slash, spun about and hacked down through the air. The blow would have cleaved any man's skull.
But the wizard was quick, impossibly so, and deftly sidestepped the attack. His own blade flashed, and Cedric hurriedly raised his own to deflect the slash. Blade met with a shower of sparks. For a moment, neither man moved, their blades locked as intently as their eyes.
"Not bad," said Bagdemagus. "Try again?"
"I think I shall," commented Cedric with a grin, and advanced. He swung, hammered, pummeled with his blade, forcing the wizard back. Blades clashed and sparked, rung and trembled. The wizard was forced to give ground, spurring Cedric on. It appeared that the young guardsman had the advantage.
"I don't believe it!" exclaimed John, starting forward on the bridge. "That wild-eyed pup is doing it!"
Eric frowned, sighting along the arrow notched in his crossbow. "So 'twould seem," he said.
Fueled by his advantage, Cedric pressed on, forcing the wizard, the so-called 'Spectre That Walks,' further and further back. Forceful grunts exploded from his lungs with each powerful blow he landed. A mad gleam of anticipated victory shone in his eyes. At last, Bagdemagus was forced to the ground. Falling back with one hand planted to the ground, the wizard held his blade defensively.
"Enough!" cried Bagdemagus.
Cedric paused, standing over the man. "Drop your sword."
The wizard heaved with exertion. He chuckled. "You have beaten me, good sir," he said, slowly lowering his blade. "I am not the young man I used to be." He set his sword upon the ground, rolled to a sitting position.
Cedric grinned, his face glowing. "'Pon your feet, and no trickery."
Bagdemagus took a breath, nodding. "Just hold your blade," he said, pushing himself to his feet. "I am obviously no threat to you."
Cedric took a step back, sword held at the ready. "I will believe that when you are in irons."
Bagdemagus laughed in self-deprecation. "A smart man, you are," he said, and straightened with a last, heavy expulsion of breath. His features suddenly clouded, his eyes once more malevolent. "But not nearly smart enough."
Too late, Cedric noticed the long cord that ran from the pommel of Bagdemagus' blade to his wrist. And, too late, Cedric realized he had been misled.
With supernatural speed, Bagdemagus whirled about, his cloak held once more in his fist. It swept up, obscuring Cedric's vision like a black cloud. Cedric struggled to keep his wits, but the sudden obfuscation left him unbalanced. Still, controlled by desperate instinct, he slashed wildly.
By the time Cedric knew what was happening, Bagdemagus had already come about, having snatched up his sword, the cord from around his wrist bringing the hilt into his palm. With a vicious thrust, he buried the blade home, just above Cedric's right hip and slicing out through the back.
The explosion of pain stunned the young guardsman, only slightly more so than the look upon the wizard's face as he glanced to his chest. A flap in Bagdemagus' coat lay open, revealing pale skin and a thick line of blood. A single drop of that same blood dripped off the tip of Cedric's sword.
Bagdemagus touched his chest, smeared his own blood between his fingertips. A moment's disbelief crossed his face; he could not readily remember the last time he had seen his own blood shed.
Despite the pain that all but paralyzed him, Cedric managed a laugh. "So you're just a man after all," he muttered.
Bagdemagus' eyes darkened. "Don't insult me," he hissed, then jerked his sword free from Cedric's body. As the guardsman grunted with renewed pain, falling to his knees, the wizard's sword flashed. Self-preservation was all that allowed Cedric to raise his blade. But his grip was weak; the uncommon power of the wizard's strike knocked it from his hand, sending it flying far back behind him along the bridge. It landed point-first, embedding itself in the wooden planks.
"I applaud you, young man," Bagdemagus roared menacingly. "You have managed the impossible. A shame you will not—"
Bagdemagus snapped his head up, cursing himself for a moment for having forgotten the two well-built young man he had seen earlier at the end of the bridge. One of them now charged forward, snatching up the fallen guardsman's sword and leaping over the frightened form of Rebecca the handmaiden.
Fire in his eyes, John rushed forward, sword held firmly in his hand as he leapt once more, bounding over Cedric and onto the wizard. The most powerful blow he could muster smashed against Bagdemagus' raised blade. Truly forced back now, the wizard stumbled, rolled backward, and came up upon his feet. He was quick to recover, and to meet John's furious assault.
John did not have the advantage for long. Although apparently wounded, Bagdemagus moved with inhuman speed and precision. It was only a matter of moments before John found himself on the defensive, mustering all of his energy to counter the wizard's attacks. Bagdemagus was no longer interested in subtlety and misdirection, only triumph.