Short Story: A sharp Rebuke

Endless, mind-numbing miles behind him and no reprieve in sight for the naked man staggering behind the irritably tireless horse. He wasn’t quite sure what woman had placed him in this particular predicament, there were so many after all. It would be his vanity that caused his downfall, he always knew this, but he expected this fall to be quick and painless, the sword to the chest or axe to the neck, not pulled on shaking legs behind these two poorly-armored cretins.The sun now baked him mercilessly and he could feel the sting in his skin that warned him of a bad burn, but these savages cared little for his comfort. A bounty was paid to return him alive to face someone’s wrath and that bounty didn’t give too many instructions of the condition in which he arrived.

Sweat burned his eyes, he could hear the sounds of a savage fight, but could see little. He stepped forward to slacken the rope that held his wrists and wipes away the sweat and finally beheld a tall armored figure on a massive charger. The gauntleted hand seized his rope and pulled him from the road and into the woods, the sun no longer burned him but the branches pushed aside by the passage of the knight’s mount slashed at him savagely. Sweat poured into the newly opened welts and cuts, but his new tormentor seemed to care less for his wellbeing than did his former captors.

Finally the horse stopped at the bank of a small brook, he gratefully staggered forward and was pleasantly surprised that his captor did not prevent him from staggering into the water and falling forward to drink and cool himself for the first time in two days. He looked back to the bank to find that his captor’s hands were carefully working the straps beneath the visor and the helmet came free, and soon after the padded coif to expose her face for the first time. He was a woman?

She shook her hair loose and he found that not only was she indeed a woman, but quite fair at that. She saw to the needs of her horse first, sliding his saddle and gear from his wide back and brushing him down carefully then leaving him picketed to drink. She unfastened his own picket rope from the saddle and tugged him to a tree and fastened it in the branches over his head. She spoke not a word as she carefully fastened and locked hobbles around his ankles that made walking all but impossible.

“You are Halach the Cuckold,” she stated more than asked.

“My name is indeed, Halach, Lady,” he acknowledged. “But I cannot claim this distinction that you have applied to my name.”

Her eyes met his and held them firmly and he could not bear their scrutiny and averted his own gaze. “What is to be my fate?” he asked.

“You served the family of a man named Janduran,” she stated. “You taught music and dancing to his children by day and crept into the beds of his wives and concubines by night. You shall return to his service, but in a slightly different capacity.”

She ignored his questions and unbuckled and peeled her armor a layer at a time. The cool air of the shaded woods was a relief as she had sweat through the many layers of cloth and padding beneath her armor. He could not help but watch as the tall woman became more exposed to his view by the second. She carried her clothes into the stream with her and soaked and wrung each layer completely exposed to his view. She glanced to him but once, seeing that her nakedness had the predictable result.

She spread her padded garments over a tree limb in the breeze and returned to the water before returning her attention to her prisoner. “You have known many women,” she stated.

“Yes,” he acknowledged. “I suppose that I have.”

“You like married women?”

“I have known married women,” he confirmed without admitting anything.

“Did it ever occur to you that their husbands might object?”

“I never thought about it,” he evaded again.

“Did it ever occur to you that these husbands might wish to kill you?”

“Not really,” he lied.

“Did you ever think that one of them might discover,” she asked carefully, “and with you gone the full fury that you both had raised would be directed at the wife alone?”

“No,” he protested.

“Or that he might beat her to death?”

“Never!”

“Yet it happened to my sister,” she stated flatly. She rose again from the water, completely exposed to his view. She slipped a light robe across her shoulders, but left it open at the front, taunting him with her beauty. She stood before him and combed the tangles from her hair with her fingers as he stared hypnotized by the graceful movements of her body so boldly displayed.

“I didn’t know,” he finally stammered.

“I didn’t think so,” she sighed. He hand reached forward and grasped him with a grip so firm that it hurt. His eyes widened as she held him in a manner intimate yet hostile. She stepped forward and he could smell the soap on her skin. “You ran away, little man,” she mocked him.

He screamed as his nerves shrieked their message of her knife’s work below and fell back onto the ground screaming and staring at her hand and the bloody mass that it held. She smiled at his pain and horror and showed him at last the small knife that had done its terrible work.

“You won’t die,” she laughed for the first time since he had met her. “Relax, it is done to sheep and horses all of the time.” She walked to her saddlebags and returned with a large crock of salve and slathered a generous handful over the wound. “You shall never have to worry about the wrath of a wronged husband, my friend,” she smiled and looked deeply into his eyes. “I’m told that you sing and dance well, these are valuable skills for a eunuch, and I was quite lavish in my praise of your skills as I sold you as a slave to a man that you have already wronged through his wives as well. You, my silly young cuckold will spend the rest of your days surrounded by the most beautiful women of the harem and never once be able to appease the lust that they shall raise within you. You shall be the gelding in the midst of plenty and when they return sated from the bed of one still a man I want you to remember my sister.”

© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.

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