“Annika wants me to punish you.” Rien took another look at the bloodstains on the floor. “She’s rather annoyed at how much work cleaning this room is going to be for her.”
“Then perhaps she should be more careful about who she lets her rooms too.” Bast took the sip of healing potion as he’d been instructed.
“See, that’s what I told her. I did, however, agree to punish you.” And he had just the thing in mind. Now what had he done with that parcel? He retrieved it, then set it atop the small table. “I got you some clothes.” He shrugged. “You can try them on in the morning.” When Bast raised an eyebrow at him, Rien walked over to the door, shut it, locked it, and moved the chair in front of it again. “Take off the ones you are currently wearing.”
“If I’m —” Bast started to shake his head.
“That’s an order, Bast.” Their eyes met, and he noted that Bast’s were still full of anger and defiance. Bast gave a frustrated growl, then began undoing the knotted rope that served him as a belt. Rien watched Bast strip naked and toss the clothing aside. He stood before Rien, wearing nothing but manacles, his body once again unmarked. “Lay on the bed, face up. That’s an order.”
“Mangy cur.” Bast clenched his fists before obeying the order.
Rien retrieved the pieces of rope from the parcel. He caught one of Bast’s ankles and fastened the rope to the cuff before moving Bast’s ankle closer to the bedpost and securing it in place. He repeated the actions with Bast’s other ankle before doing the same to his wrists. Then he tightened the ropes, pulling Bast’s body taut across the bed. “Comfortable?”
“I hope you drown in a latrine pit.”
He laughed before stripping off his own clothes, applying just a bit of the oil to himself. After a quick check to make sure his axe remained close at hand, he climbed onto the bed, settling himself between the bound knight’s legs. He trailed his fingertips up Bast’s inner thigh, then gently began fondling the knight’s balls. “This morning, you broke a man’s fingers for trying to do this.” He smiled. “Tell me, did the one whose arm you cut off make a similar attempt?”
A growling sound came from Bast. “I’ll not play your games.”
“Bast, we both know you’ll do whatever I order you to do. Be grateful I don’t make you clean my arse with that tongue of yours.” He saw the knight pale just slightly at the threat. Slowly, Rien began caressing the Bast’s cock, running his hand up and down the shaft. “I did promise Annika I would punish you.” He took his hand away. “So you’ll not enjoy this next bit.”
“Get off me.” Bast struggled against his bonds, trying to escape what was about to happen.
“No.” Rien chuckled. Then he shifted his hands to grab Bast’s hips, lifting the man up enough that he could position the head of his own cock against Bast’s entrance. Then with no further preparation, he rammed himself inside.
The effect on Bast was a powerful one. The knight bit back the cry of pain even as his body jerked in response to the invasion. He pulled hard enough against the restraints that Rien was a little concerned he wouldn’t be able to untie the knots again later. He pulled on Bast’s legs, pulling the man onto his cock even as he pushed deeper. Then he withdrew all but the tip before ramming himself inside again. After the initial struggles, Bast endured the motions stoically, his gaze was focused at the ceiling. That wouldn’t do at all. “Look at me, Bast.” Rien smiled. “That’s an order.”
He gritted his teeth as he obeyed the command, fixing his gaze on Rien’s face. Bastien imagined taking a hammer to it, wiping out that smug expression blow by blow. It felt as though he were being torn apart each time the man thrust his hips forward.
Fortunately, he did not have to endure it long. Rien’s body jerked and shuddered, and Bastien realized he could actually feel the man twitching inside him. It took some effort to fight back the urge to vomit. Rien stayed here, inside, as he gently caressed Bastien’s body. There was another twitch before Rien slowly withdrew. Then he shifted to lay next to Bastien. “I’m told…” The man propped himself up with an elbow. “That it takes at least five times before the body adapts and it becomes enjoyable.” He began fondling Bastien again.
“Get your hands off me.” He tried to move away from Rien’s hand, but the restraints held him fast.
“No.” Rien began lengthening the strokes, playing with Bastien’s member. “Regardless of Annika’s irritation, you did well. Thus you deserve some reward.”
“If it’s all the same…” Bastien continued struggling in the restraints. “I’d rather just have an ale.”
Rien shifted position, putting one of his legs over Bastien’s to keep him in place. His hand continued toying with Bastien, and to his horror Bastien felt his body start to respond to the ministrations despite the pain he was still in. The larger man laughed softly. “And to think, I almost killed you back at the castle.” He tilted his head. “Tell me, Bast…” He raised his gaze to Bastien’s face. “Was getting that warning off worth it?”
His fists clenched again as he strained against the restraints. Then he growled before glaring at Rien. “Yes.”
“Then relax…” The man leaned forward and kissed the side of his jaw. “And enjoy yourself.”
Rien didn’t bother untying Bast before going to sleep. There was something oddly pleasing about having the warrior bound and helpless next to him. He woke before dawn, and took Bast again before undoing the ropes. He ended up having to cut through the knots tightened by the struggling. Bast had fought him every inch of the way, even as Rien had brought the other man to climax as well.
He’d been confident of his ability to break the knight, but he was starting to wonder if that confidence was misplaced. Perhaps the man really would have died first. Rien gave him a dose of healing potion before instructing him to wash and get dressed. Bast called him a few more choice names before obeying the order. He glanced down at Bast’s sword, then handed it to him. “Wear this as well.
Word had apparently spread of the previous day. Bast got several looks as Rien led him out of the inn. Slaves were meek, broken things. Rien had an armed killer on his leash. He was almost to the smith when he heard a voice. “It’s true then.” Rien narrowed his eyes as he turned to see a lean, scarred man leaning against the wall. “The River Dragon has returned.”
“I have.” He should have expected Sten to be here. The spy had a knack for figuring out what paths people intended to take. Part of him wondered how long Sten had been waiting.
“Victorious?” Sten lifted an eyebrow.
“You’ll find out soon enough.” Rien shrugged.
“That’s a yes, then?” When Rien glared at him, Sten just rolled his eyes. “If you weren’t, you’d be angry.” Sten exhaled, then met Rien’s eyes. “Marinus, I…” He gave a small shake of his head. “I have reason to believe Jurgen will not be returning and that…” He straightened, squaring his shoulders. “And that one of your other brothers may be the reason why.”
“Lammert.” It should come as a surprise, but he’d already begun to suspect as much. Still, the idea that Jurgen was dead was almost unfathomable. The Stone Dragon was undefeated. He would not believe Jurgen dead until he’d seen the corpse.
“I do not rule out Rutger as easily as you do.” Sten glanced at Bast before returning his gaze to Rien’s face. “I will meet you at Darodelf.” He stepped around the corner.
If it would have done him the slightest bit of good, he’d have tried following after the man. Sten, however, was already vanished. No one saw him unless he wanted them too. “River Dragon?” He turned to see Bast raising an eyebrow at him. “An interesting sobriquet.”
“What’s a sobriquet?” Rien frowned. Why would Sten seek him out with that information? Unless he intended the words as a warning. If Sten suspected Rutger, then… Then he was riding blind. Still, why warn him? Sten must have known he’d been successful, but even with that, the man had no reason to seek him out specifically. Sten was her left hand. He did nothing save by her will. Which meant… Which meant the warning came from her. It was possible that changed everything. “Is that like a fustilarian?”
“Are you calling me dumb?”
“You’re calling me dumb.”
“I’m not fat.”
“Puerile —” Bast smirked as Rien tugged on the leash to take him into the smithy.
Despite the situation, Bastien couldn’t help but feel amused at the reaction of the smiths when Rien instructed him to put the armor on. He didn’t bother to ask the apprentices for help with the straps, as none of them seemed inclined to get within ten feet of him. Word, it seemed, had spread. He adjusted the scabbard, shifting the sword forward for an easier draw. The new shield he attached to the harness on his back.
The armor felt comfortable enough that he could almost forget the presence of the collar. Or he could, until Rien’s hand came down on his shoulder. The man gave him a critical look before nodded. “Come. Something tells me we need to be moving quickly.”
Bastien nodded before going to the horse Rien had acquired for him. It wasn’t a particularly impressive specimen, but it seemed a solid enough animal. He secured the bow case and quiver to the saddle where he could reach them easily if need. Rien had also purchased two spare mounts. The notion that they’d be traveling fast was both relief and concern. It meant Rien would be limited in what he could do to Bastien while traveling, but it also meant they’d reach their end destination quickly. And he had no real idea of what was going to await him there.
Rien had hidden it well, but the meeting with the man Sten had shaken him. That was understandable. The idea that one of his brothers had been killed by another was the kind of thing that could shake a man. The worst betrayal. The same one the Duke hadn’t seen coming.
There was nothing he could do about it. He mounted the horse, and followed after Rien. Less than a mile outside of the village, Rien took them off the road and into the woods. The trees were thick and heavy, slowing the horses. If Rien wanted to move swiftly, why leave the road unless… Bastien shifted his horse to approach Rien’s. “You’re expecting an ambush.”
“More than one.” Rien nodded. “I expect you to aid me in any fighting, but your primary duty until we reach our destination is to keep anyone from taking that bag.”
“And you still aren’t going to tell me what is in it.” Bastien shrugged.
“I’ll tell you…” Rien slowly exhaled. “I’ll tell you that if I die before we reach our destination, you are to take that bag with you when you flee this land. Ensure no other gets what is inside.”
“And why, pray tell, should I follow that order?” Bastien frowned. He’d been planning on doing that anyway, and riding directly for the king.
“Because you were willing to sacrifice your life to get a warning to your people about mere trolls.” Rien turned to look at him. “I’ve no doubt you will do whatever it takes to prevent Solsthriem from facing all the Wilder clans united behind my brother.”
“Behind your…” Bastien’s eyes widened. “A Dragon Queen and a River Dragon. You’re…”
“The youngest of her four sons.” Rien nodded. “And there are wings upon the heights, Bast. A dragon will rise.”