A Royal Sacrifice Ch. 11byRedHairedandFriendly©
Evelyn watched Cedric whisper something in Rebecca's ear. Her handmaiden blushed and turned her head into the young Knight's shoulder as he moved her around the dance floor. Evelyn had opted to sit out this particular dance. Her feet were sore, not from dancing itself, but from her last partner stepping on them repeatedly. She glanced away from the couple and focused instead on several newcomers that had arrived over the past few days.
Lords and Ladies from neighboring lands had staked out their place in her kingdom because of a series of invitations that Benedict had sent out one week prior. In the beginning Evelyn had balked at the idea of throwing a ball to celebrate her upcoming birthday. She'd been more than willing to let the occasion slip by her unnoticed, but Muriel wouldn't have it. Then Benedict realized what day was approaching and deemed it a perfect opportunity to not only celebrate their Queen's birth, but to also celebrate her ascension to the Crown. Evelyn, having seen the excitement in the eyes of her friend Muriel and her handmaiden's features, gave in; the parchments, with her royal seal, were sent out with the wax still drying.
"Your Highness, you really should be dancing."
Evelyn turned her head to face Benedict. "I have danced plenty this night. I've no desire to have my feet assaulted by yet another over zealous Lord."
Benedict frowned and glanced at Muriel who stood next to him. "You do something with her," he muttered and threw up his hands. He walked away, heading toward the gold and silver punch bowl.
Muriel giggled softly as the Chancellor retreated from Evelyn's fowl temper. "So has it been as bad as you thought it would?" Muriel asked Queen Evelyn.
Evelyn shrugged her shoulders. "No, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Rebecca is having fun," she said, nodding her head toward the pretty brunette who was still happily swaying in Cedric's arms.
"But what of you?" Muriel inquired.
"It's all very stuffy," she answered. "There are so many here I don't know, yet I understand that they are all important in some way, whether it is a lowly nobleman or a lofty lady."
"Don't forget the common man," Muriel added.
"How could I? That was the best part about this. I got to invite my friends and family, the villagers that helped me become the woman I am. In addition," she snickered softly, "it was quite fun to see Benedict's veins pounding in irritation when I told him every person in the village would be attending."
Muriel chuckled softly. "It took some time to calm him, you know."
Evelyn winked. "I'm sure you didn't mind spending a few hours with him." A blush crossed the older woman's face and she turned her head away to hide the smile. Evelyn grinned, reached out and squeezed Muriel's hand. "You don't have to say anything. I've seen the looks you cast his way and in case you've not noticed he is often casting his own lecherous gaze your way."
Muriel turned back to Evelyn, her eyes sparkling with an emotion that was easy to identify. "He's not a lecherous man."
"Then you are not seeing where his eyes are often resting," Evelyn answered back. Her laughter filled the air and she focused her attentions to the dancers on the floor. "Where did they go?" she whispered, more to herself than anyone else. Muriel however asked who she was looking for and Evelyn spoke of Rebecca and Cedric. "They were dancing over there, but now are gone." She frowned in frustration.
"I'm sure she is fine. Cedric is with her."
"I know; it's just . . . there are those that still see her as the enemy. I worry about her safety. Bagdemagus is still out there and as much as Benedict doesn't see she was charmed by him, I do. She's still watched; her room guarded; still I sense she's not out of danger. I just want her safe."
Muriel touched Evelyn's shoulder and squeezed it tight. "Evie, she's with Cedric. I am sure she's safe."
Evelyn sighed. "You're right. Now, shouldn't you be dancing?" she asked.
"Dancing? Me?" Muriel asked. "Your Majesty, I'm the housekeeper. I don't dance."
Evelyn laughed again. "Rebecca's my handmaiden and as you saw she was certainly dancing." Evelyn turned to speak to a servant who stood next to her. "Would you go find Chancellor Benedict for me?" she asked of the young man. He nodded his head and left her side. She returned conversing with Muriel until the Chancellor was facing her.
"You sent for me?" Benedict muttered, a look of annoyance clearly evident on his hard features.
"Yes, I have need of you," Evelyn admitted. She could easily read the look of contempt that was present in Benedict's features. The idea that she had "sent for him" didn't sit well on the man's shoulder, but Evelyn was learning that she was Queen and even the great High Excellency had to do her bidding. "Muriel wishes to dance. Please show her your talents and escort her onto the floor."
Benedict's gaze shot to Muriel and then back to Evelyn. Evelyn's lips rose in a smirk. Muriel's features paled then blushed as she decided to remain quiet and not deny or confirm Evelyn's decree. "I'm sure Muriel knows her place is not on the dance floor," Benedict hissed under his breath.
Evelyn was about to speak when Muriel stepped forward. "Your Queen has commanded you," she said and offered her hand to Benedict. He flashed a look of annoyance to Evelyn, but when he turned to face Muriel, his features changed dramatically. Evelyn smiled to herself as she watched Benedict lead the keep's very lovely housekeeper out onto the dance floor.
"Playing match maker?"
Evelyn turned to the masculine voice, she had no problem recognizing. She felt the beat of her heart catch and her fingers trembled in her lap. "I only give a nudge when needed."
Prince Drest chuckled and nodded toward the couple. "If you get Benedict wedded to anyone, I'll eat my hat."
"You don't wear a hat," Evelyn answered back.
"I do when I go into battle," he replied. "Dance with me Your Highness," Drest suddenly said, bowing low and offering his arm to her.
Evelyn eyed the well-groomed gentleman and thought about how during the entire night he'd danced with others, she had wanted to be in his arms. She rose from her chair and accepted his request. Together they moved as one; dancers parted for them, many stopping in their own pursuits and lifting palms to whisper secrets. Evelyn felt their eyes on her and she squeezed Drest's arm. His other hand came up to cover her fingers and she was startled by the heat that radiated from his touch. She told herself it was nothing, repeating the same proclamation since her first lesson in sword play.
He signaled for the musicians to change the tempo of the music and soon the room was full of a slow melody that seemed to melt into Evelyn's soul. She felt Drest's arms move to take her into a starting position. Her hands settled in place as if it were the most natural thing to be one with him. He moved with the skill of a Prince and complimented her newly learned steps. Not once did she stumble and the others returned to their own desires to dance. Eventually, she forgot about everyone else and became lost in Drest's presence.
Muriel watched from over Benedict's shoulder as Evelyn and Prince Drest swept slowly around the dance floor. She winced as Benedict found the top of her toes. He muttered a curse and apologized again. She giggled softly and whispered, "She's busy, if you wish to stop this farce of spending time with me you may. Just be a gentleman and escort me back to the wall where the flowers rest."
Benedict looked down on Muriel and frowned. "You are not a wall flower," he told her, yet did take pity on her feet and his pride by leading her off the floor. He stopped a servant who was circulating through the room with a tray of wine. He plucked two goblets from the silver surface. "I believe we both could use this," he said, handing her one of the crystal dishes. He reclaimed her arm with his free hand and led her toward a balcony.
The night air was unseasonably warm for the middle of Spring, but a breeze had decided to grace the keep with its presence. Muriel sighed and breathed in the deep scent of the gardens below them. After a minute she opened her eyes and blushed when her gaze fell on Benedict's. She should have known he was watching her, but she hadn't thought about it.
When she was with him it just seemed natural to let her guard down and enjoy the sights and smells around her. This wasn't always the case though, but it was fast becoming that way. They had found reasons to be together, usually it was to discuss the next step in teaching Evelyn some Queenly duty, or it was to discuss the treatment of Rebecca and the newest Knights. Nine times out of ten they ended up arguing, and she left fuming, and wondering what she ever saw in the man. Now she simply wanted to stare back at him and enjoy the solitude that surrounded them. Music floated from the room, yet they made no move to dance; instead, they drank their wine and remained pressed against each other.
Benedict was the first to move from the warmth of the womanly figure beside him. It wasn't because he wanted to. He quite enjoyed being next to her, but a noise rising up from the gardens below them made him frown. He walked to the edge of the balcony and peered over. Muriel followed. "What is it?" she asked, her voice showing a mark of concern.
Benedict rolled his eyes and muttered a low curse. "It's that damn handmaiden. She's lifting her skirts for that Knight I knew she was up to no good " He downed his wine and then grabbed Muriel's from her easy grip. Both goblets were placed on the banister edge and he spun back to leave her side. Muriel's firm grip stopped him. He glanced down at her hand and then back up into her steely gaze.
"You know nothing about that girl. She's with Cedric, not some treasonous wizard. Look at them," she hissed and pulled Benedict back to the edge of the balcony. She too had looked at the couple and she knew that young Rebecca was not lifting her skirts for Cedric and even if she chose to Muriel would be the first to congratulate the girl. She'd lived a life of chastity and it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
"There, see she and Sir Cedric are just walking toward from the labyrinth," Muriel pointed out. Benedict stood behind her, taking in the way the light fell across her crimson curls. He reached out to stroke a tangled strand and rubbed it between his fingers. Muriel's breath caught in her throat. She remained still as his fingers moved to twist the lock around his thick digit. She swallowed the lump in her throat and tried to focus on Cedric and Rebecca's disappearing figures. When they were no longer in her sight, she turned around and faced Benedict.
His fingers remained in her hair, forcing him to step forward so as not to pull at her tender scalp. His other hand moved to cup her cheek. Muriel watched his eyes for a moment and then her gaze shifted to his lips. She licked her own instinctively and then whimpered when his mouth descended down to hers. The kiss was slow at first. Benedict taking charge and urging her lips to part further for his explorations. Muriel's tongue timidly sought out a partner and when she met Benedict's own wet muscle, she shivered.
He pulled her against him. His hand twisted tight in her hair and he quickened the kiss. Muriel's fingers moved to clasp at the vest he wore. She moaned softly as his free hand moved from the banister edge to her hip. When they were forced to come up for air, Benedict pressed his forehead against hers and dragged in the scent of the woman slowly cracking his shell. "Forgive me," he whispered against the silky strands.
Muriel chewed on her lower lip and nodded her head. "There is nothing to forgive," she answered back. She looked up at him and reached out to caress his lips with the pads of her fingers.
"Excuse me," a voice echoed from the balcony doorway.
Benedict closed his eyes and growled. Muriel giggled, but stepped away and turned to look at the gardens. "What is it?" he asked, facing the intruder.
"I was curious if you have seen my brother," Viviane replied. Her eyes rested lightly on the Chancellor and then glanced briefly toward Muriel. Her painted lips rose in a knowing smirk. "I am sorry to disturb you, Your High Excellency. But Prince Drest, have you seen him?"
Benedict frowned. "He was dancing with the Queen; surely they are still on the floor, or perhaps dining?"
"If the answer to my question had been so simple, then surely I would not have come out here to seek it." She rolled her eyes and shook her head. "After seeing the way the help behaves I am finding myself concerned about my brother's choice in a wife. I mean . . . If the servants are allowed to have a dalliance with the nobles then who is say how chaste the Queen of Vix truly is. I would hate to see my brother wed to a whore. "
"Lady Viviane," Benedict warned, "I suggest you hold your tongue. You are only a guest here, because of your brother. You are not needed."
Viviane laughed and stepped forward. She placed a hand on Benedict's chest and stared into his eyes. She licked her lips and sent a wave of sexual power through her fingers. Benedict's eyes dilated and he took a step toward her. He would have done more, Viviane knew this, but his actions were stalled because of the housekeeper who was now holding her hand. "Your brother and our Queen are probably enjoying a few minutes without your all-knowing eye. Why not run along and find the first available lonely Lord. It is well known your preferences for a quick roll in the stable."
Viviane glared at Muriel and ripped her hand away. Muriel fired back the same stare and watched Viviane turn away and storm back to the ball room. She then faced Benedict and paled at his glassy features. "What did she do to you?"
Benedict blinked several times and then shook his head. "Muriel?"
"Benedict, what happened?" She took his hand and squeezed it tight. A few more seconds passed before he was able to focus on her and her concerned expression.
"I don't know," he answered. "I don't trust that one," he whispered and pulled Muriel to him. He held her tight and kissed the top of her head. "There are too many out to seek the destruction of our kingdom. I worry about our Queen." Muriel nodded her head and continued to let Benedict hold her.
Viviane's anger was clearly visible on her normally beautiful features. She stormed through the crowd of dancers, pushing her way through them until she was out of the ball room and taking the stairs to her chambers. Once inside she slammed the door closed, startling Miss Daisy. The small whippet barked twice and then settled when it took a moment to smell the air. Once she identified the scent of her Mistress, Miss Daisy closed her eyes.
Viviane stomped over to her vanity and slammed herself down into the chair. She stared at her painted reflection. Her amble bosom was displayed for all to see, jewels adorned her neck, her wrists and her fingers. Yet what Muriel had spoken was true, she had been looking for a new Lord to fuck. Benedict would have been an excellent choice; he would have been able to squelch the desire she had for Eric. That idea was ruined when Muriel dragged her hand away from the Chancellor's chest. The connection had been lost, not that it mattered, in the end she would have left the man's bed. Eric would have still been on her mind.
"Damn him " she cursed and threw her hair brush at her reflection. The silver handle cracked the glass, leaving Viviane's reflection distorted. Miss Daisy walked over and rubbed Viviane's leg with her head. Viviane sighed and picked her pet up, placing it on her lap and stroking it's head. "What is it about him?" she wondered. She thought back to her conversation with the wizard. Was he right? Was Eric unique because of some inhibitions he did or didn't have? She wasn't quite sure what to think; she just knew she was always aching for him.
She took a deep breath and rose from the vanity. "Come on girl," she said to the little dog that was eagerly waiting at the door of her bedroom. "Let's see what trouble we can stir up," she whispered and left her rooms.
Viviane made her way down the stairs and pass the ball room. Daisy had a need that had to be met so Viviane used that excuse to walk toward the stables. She chewed on her lower lip, wondering if she would find Eric again. Daisy ran off to the water trough and did her business, leaving Viviane standing in the light of the moon.
"Couldn't find a willing Lord, My Lady?"
Her face grew warm and her sex instantly moistened. The warm breath of her favored lover caressed her neck; strong fingers worked free Viviane's braid. Her brown silken strands flowed like honey over Eric's fingers. She trembled as she felt him press himself against her. "It's been some time," he whispered against her ear. Viviane chewed on her lower lip and nodded her head. He placed his hands on her hips and pushed her toward the fence post. She shivered and glanced around nervously. "Not here," she whispered.
Eric laughed as he pushed her against the post. His hands moved to grasp one of her breasts. "Lift your skirts, My Lady."
Viviane shuddered and almost came instantly. She moved her hands down to her skirts and gathered the back of the material up in two fists. Instantly the breeze of the night kissed her skin and she trembled. Eric posed his cock at her slick opening and took her quickly. Viviane whimpered and begged for more, matching his thrusts with hard shoves back onto him. Eric made her come quickly and still continued using her. When his cock was properly covered with her juices, he eased himself out and aimed his cock head against her tight anal passage. Viviane cried out as his sex slammed home.
Two pairs of eyes watched the two lovers grunt their way toward orgasm. Cedric pulled Rebecca toward him and held her close. They'd taken a long walk, pausing briefly to chat with Prince Drest and Evelyn at the entrance of the labyrinth. They'd left them there and continued on through the gardens and around the outer walls of the keep. They held hands, stole kisses and after things had gotten more heated, decided it was best to return to the ball. Cedric had seen Miss Daisy darting about and thought that perhaps Lady Viviane's dog had gotten loose from her Mistress's clutches. That wasn't the case, the couple realized; they knew if they continued on the path toward the castle, Eric and Viviane's dalliance would have been interrupted. They chose to remain pressed against the side of the stable.
Cedric sensed Rebecca's discomfort and eased the stable door open. He turned her toward him and urged her quietly inside. He slowly closed the door and shook his head. "I had heard rumors about her, but I thought they were just that, rumors. I never thought a Lady would... well..."
Rebecca chewed on her lip, her head lowered and her chin rested on her chest. Cedric stepped forward and cupped her chin. "I'm sorry you had to see that," he told her.
"It's not that," she whispered.
"What is it then?"
She swallowed and freed herself from his tender grip. Rebecca walked away and stood under one of the stable windows. Moonlight spilled over her, highlighting her face. Cedric saw the evidence of tears and instantly moved to her side. "Rebecca, what is it? What's wrong? Tell me and I'll fix it."
She turned and wiped at her cheeks. "You have heard rumors of Lady Viviane, and you say a Lady would never do such a thing."
"Well, not an unwed Lady. I mean I know it happens, I just was surprised that all that has been said about her is true."
"And what of me?" Rebecca asked. "There are rumors surrounding my cleanliness or lack of it."