Friday, 16 January 2009

Dark Enchantment - story 6: The Scent of Hawthorn

There's been quite a bit of female submission going on in previous stories I've excepted from Dark Enchantment, so it's about time, I feel, that the men got theirs. And in The Scent of Hawthorn my hero really suffers: oh yes.

Set in Italy in the Dark Ages, this story is about a tough and burly knight who has made it his duty to hunt down the last pagan monsters and slay them. Herrick is a disillusioned idealist with an addiction to pain, and when he tries to take on a dryad with a penchant for killing peasants he finds he's bitten off far more than he can chew...

‘In this wood, man of iron, I am a goddess. The earth hears my whispers; the oak moves to my commands. Do you think you can kill me with that little blade?’

He was beginning to doubt it. ‘I can try.’

Her smile widened. ‘You learn too slowly. Shall we have another lesson?’ Then she threw herself at him. Herrick had no time for anything except to thrust the sword straight out at her breast, braced in both hands. She struck the blade full-on, dashed up its length and all over him – a hail of autumn leaves and stones, no more solid than that. The moment she was behind him she took form again, whirled, smashed the helmet from his head and kicked him in the back of the knee, folding him. He caught himself as he went down, but even as he turned and slashed there was movement in the grass all around him. Bramble tendrils whipped from the earth, tangling his feet and hands. In moments he was dragged over on his back, a spiny loop tight around his throat. Fragile in themselves, in numbers they pinned him to the ground. Then new tendrils grew and slid up his sleeves and under the edge of his hauberk, their passage like lines of fire drawn on his skin, emerging at the neck. Dozens and dozens of living strands, binding together into stronger and stronger cords. They tightened and flexed – and tore his mail shirt open. The bronze rivets first corroded and then stretched and snapped.

Herrick had seen thistles cracking marble slabs in Rome, or else he would not have understood that a living plant could be so strong.

Then the ground heaved beneath his back, a huge boulder thrusting him up until he was raised and spread and nearly snapped in half, the pressure against his spine almost unbearable. The brambles did not let go, but having ripped open his armour and shredded the cloth beneath they did nothing but tighten against his skin, a thousand tiny thorns speckling him with his own blood. He felt the air against his stinging flesh. He saw the tree-branches tossing overhead and the white petals of shed may-blossom fluttering down upon him, and he wondered if this was the end.

The dryad jumped up onto the rocks and straddled his hips. He couldn’t even raise his head to look down at those naked thighs.

‘So - Does the guest-bed suit you?’

He groaned.

‘A little hard on the back? What a pity.’ She bent and licked the blood streaks on his chest; he was surprised to learn that her mouth was warm. ‘Still, you did arrive at very short notice, without invitation. You must make allowances.’

His heart was racing; she must be able to feel its thud against her lips as she sipped from him.

‘Don’t blame yourself,’ he said through gritted teeth.

She chuckled, surprised. ‘Do you enjoy this, man of iron?’



‘That’s my name.’ It seemed important to him that she should know it. He did not want to go nameless to death.

She mouthed the foreign word with distaste. ‘Is this how you expected it to end, Herrick?’

‘One day.’ And he was horrified to find that his strongest emotion was relief. Her teeth closed cruelly over his left nipple and he groaned from deep in his chest. Then she released the crushed nubbin of flesh and crept forward up his chest, breathing the smell of his sweat and his fear until her lips were against his ear.

‘Do you wish to hear the good news?’ He managed to swallow, and she took that for assent. ‘This isn’t the end, Herrick. Not yet. You are not going to die until I tire of hurting you. And in this place I can take to the brink of death and bring you back again, over and over, for my pleasure. Until your pain has brought me ease.’

Fresh damp sprang from every pore. His insides seemed to turn liquid. She raked claws down his chest and stomach, testing every patch of skin between the criss-crossed bonds. He rolled his eyes back and tried to call upon the mercy of God, but it came out sounding completely wrong somehow.

‘What’s this?’ Her voice was low with surprise. He strained to look down at her and found she’d reached his lower garments, had been sliding about on his crotch, had found something that should not have been there at all: his massive, stony erection, pushing up against the cloth, the swollen head seeping with such eagerness that it was making a damp patch. Herrick was washed by a crimson tide of shame.

Dear God give me strength to resist her, he begged.

She ripped his clothing to shreds, delicately. His cock thrust out blasphemously through the rent fabric, and jerked with eagerness as she traced the veins with the tips of her deadly claws - Like a dog rising to greet its mistress, he thought, sick with humiliation.

‘Oh Herrick. Now I know.’

‘No,’ he groaned.

‘This is a gift, isn’t it? A phallus like this, and a man like you, in my power?’

‘You’re wrong…’

‘Wrong? No. Men may lie, but this does not. It makes plain what it wants, Herrick.’ She slapped his prick with first one hand then the other, like a cat playing with a mouse. He burned with shame and twisted uselessly in his bonds, driving each pin-point of pain deeper.

Buy at Amazon UK (back in stock!) : Pre-order at Amazon US

Next excerpt on Sunday.

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