The pain in his shoulders was excruciating, but he could no longer rise up onto his toes long enough to give them any relief. Bastien focused on battlefield meditations, driving the pain from his mind as best he could. His captor slept nearby, apparently without a care in the world. The gag muffled his voice enough that his yelling was insufficient to disturb the man’s slumber. He’d given up trying some time ago.
Time passed, and he had no way to measure it. His position ensured there was no way he could rest, doubtless exactly as his captor intended. Everyone knew the Wilders kept slaves, but what the man was suggesting for Bastian’s fate was beyond contemplation. Bastien tried again to slide the manacles off. His wrists were slick, though he couldn’t tell if it was blood or sweat. Likely a combination of both. He had no luck getting them over his hands.
Even if the King’s Justice had retaken the castle there was little way for them to know he was still alive. Unless perhaps some of the other mercenaries had been captured, but even then finding him out in the woods made even that slim chance vanish. Had others been taken as well? It did not seem unlikely. Of course, there was also still the issue of him being on the wrong side of the mountain in unknown territory.
The sky began to lighten. He wasn’t sure if he should feel relief or dread at the coming dawn. His captor woke before the sun had peeked over the horizon. Rien looked up at Bastian. “Morning.” He stood, pulling on his clothing, then walked over. He worked his aching jaw when the gag was removed. Rien caught his hair, tilting his head up so they were looking at each other. “Address me as master.”
“Die in the void.” He spat. “I’ll do no such thing.”
Rien just smirked before unfastening the chain. Bastien collapsed, falling to his knees. Before he could do more than catch his breath, Rien grabbed hold of his collar with one hand and his hair with the other. His head was tilted back again, and Rien smiled. “Yesterday you claimed you wouldn’t kneel.” Rien’s smile widened. “Now look.”
If looks could kill, the expression on his captive’s face would fell a dragon a mile distant. Bast jerked himself backward, nearly pulling free of Rien’s grip. Rien tugged back at the collar, keeping the smaller man in place. The sight of the young warrior on his knees was rather pleasant. “Address me as master.”
“Son of a pox-eating tart.”
“Now, now…” Rien released the knight’s hair before delivering a contemptuous, stinging slap across the man’s face. “Do you hear me talk about your mother?”
“Son of a grease-thighed pig-felching slattern of a half-copper dock whore.” Bast glared. “Putrid mange-kissing puisny ass-licker snorting queefs in a back-alley knock-shop. Whelping rat-spawn beneath a…”
His eyes narrowed as Bast continued. Then he shrugged before going back to the saddle bags and retrieving the spare bridle. Bast fought him when he shoved the metal bit between the man’s teeth. A leather strap secured it tightly and painfully into place. It didn’t stop the invective, but it did render it mostly unintelligible. “This day could have gone easier for you.” He smiled.
He only understood about a quarter of Bast’s response, but Rien was fairly certain the young man didn’t repeat himself once while Rien packed up the camp. He picked up a canteen, and carried it to his prisoner. Rather than remove the bit, he simply jerked the man’s head back and tilted the canteen to pour water into his mouth. Bast sputtered and choked, and Rien released him to cough up water before repeating the action.
Rien ate, but did not offer his captive a meal. After tying the last saddlebag closed, he picked up the chain and secured it to the collar before fastening the other end to the pommel of his saddle. Bast glared at him. He patted the man’s cheek before undoing the lock that shorted the ankle chain. The length between the shackles was now sufficient for Bast to walk. Then he caught the collar and hauled Bast to his feet. “You can have food and sleep when you ask your master for them.”
There was no response of invective this time, just another angry glare.
Bastien stumbled to a halt when Rien paused his short. The man had set a brisk pace through the trees, forcing Bastien to jog or risk being dragged by the heavy collar around his neck. A few times the chain between his legs had caught, making him trip. Rien had slowed to give Bast a chance to get back to his feet, then simply kept going. The bit between his teeth made his jaw ache from clenching his teeth on the blasted thing.
Rien dismounted, leading the horses to the nearby stream. Bastien started to move toward the water, and Rien yanked on the chain to nearly pull him off his feet. “Going somewhere?”
That fucking horse bit rendered Bastien’s curse unintelligible. His feet and legs ached, and his throat was parched. A brief look at his captor made it clear that had been the intention. Rien used the chain to pull Bastien toward him. He struggled, but between the man’s greater strength and his own tiredness it did him little good. So as soon as he got closer, he shifted tactics. Instead of resisting, he charged.
His shoulder caught Rien in the stomach. The big man fell back, but tugged the chain to yank Bastian down before he could take advantage of the man’s vulnerable position. To Bastien’s irritation, the man laughed again. He tried to reclaim his footing, but the larger man tackled him as he rose. He hit the ground, and Rien sat atop him, straddling his thighs. “I knew you were going to be fun.” Rien smiled. Then he tilted his head. “I suppose I should see just how nice a prize I’ve won, hmmm?”
He growled behind the bit, but Rien’s smile only widened. Bastien renewed his struggles when Rien put his hands under Bastien’s tunic and began lifting the garment. Rien just laughed before catching it in both hands and simply tearing it open in the front. He cursed again as Rien reached out to caress his chest. “A nice prize indeed.” The bastard slid his hand upward and grabbed the collar, using it to lift Bastien up and toward him. “Address me as master.”
When he shook his head and cursed again, Rien simply shrugged. Then he rose and used the chain to haul Bastien to the stream. Bastien was forced to stumble along behind him, half bent over by the chain serving the larger man as a leash. The water of the stream came up to his waist, but when he tried to lower himself to get a drink Rien shifted the chain to prevent him from reaching it. “Address me as master.”
Instead of responding, Bastien turned away.
If he left his captive without water he would risk the man’s death. He’d no intention of allowing that to happen. Thus, even if it was tempting to see how long the knight would hold out the situation called for another tactic. Rien reached out, grabbed the collar, and shoved Bast’s head under the water.
Immediately, Bast began struggling. Rien didn’t hold him under long considering his captive would find it difficult to hold his breath with the bit forcing his mouth open. He lifted Bast up long enough for the man to spit out water, then shoved him under again.
By the time he hauled Bast out of the water some of the fight had left the man. He lay on the bank where Rien tossed him, taking deep, ragged breaths. Rien gave him only a couple minutes before pulling him upright again. Then Rien got on his horse and started moving again.
The next time they stopped he simply sank to his kneels, taking a few precious moments to rest. Rien grabbed his hair and forced his head back to pour water down his throat. Bast drank despite the difficulty, managing not to choke. His captor ate on the move rather than allow Bastien a longer rest.
By the time they stopped for more than water, the sun was nearly set. His hair was grabbed again. “Tired, Bast?” He didn’t respond. “Address me as master.”
His legs were cramping, and pangs of hunger shook his stomach. Bastien remained silent. Rien began attaching the chain to his wrist cuffs again, and a chill went through him when he realized the previous night was about to repeat himself. Tired as he was, there would be no relief from the pain of strained muscles. “Address me as master.”
Bit or no bit, he managed to communicate the word. “No.”
A cry of pain escaped him as Rien used the chain to haul his wrists up once more.
Rien couldn’t help but feel a sense of grudging respect when his captive turned away from the offered food. One word, and the man wouldn’t say it. He shrugged and laid down in his bedroll.
He had just drifted off to sleep when a loud noise woke him. He fumbled for his sword before he caught sight of his captive staring at him. The bit might have rendered him unintelligible but it did not render him silent. And despite Bast’s obvious weariness and pain he still managed to look amused. Rien glared before rising to locate a rag.
Bast didn’t struggle or curse when Rien approached. In retrospect, that should have made him far more wary. The moment he unhooked the bit from his captive’s mouth Bast twisted to the side and sank his teeth into Rien’s arm. He howled in pain and surprise. Before he could drive his thumb into the side of Bast’s jaw to force his mouth open, Bast jerked his head back, tearing a chunk of flesh loose.
With a growl and a curse, Rien staggered back, covering the wound with his other hand. Bast smiled, his teeth bloody, before spiting out Rien’s flesh. “You taste as bad as you smell, you porcine rent rump.”
“Bast…” Rien looked down at his wound. Then he shook his head and went to the saddle bags. A gulp of healing potion began repairing the damage. He shrugged. “You’ll not convince me to kill you that easily. He chuckled, then drew his knife.
There was a moment of confusion on Bast’s face when Rien walked toward him with the naked blade. Rien grabbed the collar of the torn tunic. Bast began cursing again when he realized Rien’s intention, but struggling only increased the agony in his tortured shoulders. He was gasping in pain by the time Rien finished cutting off his breeches.
Naked, his prize was impressive. The knight was nicely muscled, his body unmarred by scars. There were no marks save the bruises Rien himself had inflicted. He was well-formed, and Rien couldn’t resist reaching in to touch the young man’s cock.
He laughed when Bast responded by trying to bite him again. He shifted his motion to seize the man’s hair and shoved the rag into his mouth. Then he tied it in place, and just because he could, he kissed his prisoner’s cheek. “Good night, Bast.”