Queen Captured – Act III: Knight (scene iii)

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Eighth Chapter of W.H. Collins’s dark erotic fantasy. All fourteen chapters are now available from Amazon under the title The Fall of the Black Queen.

Note that this story is intended for mature audiences only and contains extremely graphic depictions of material that many audiences will find disturbing, including spanking and forced nudity. Nothing herein is intended to glorify or condone the horrific experiences which the protagonist endures, and the reader is strictly instructed not to take any prurient interest in this tale of medieval violence and sexual exploitation.

Atop the city walls, leaning over the parapets or even sitting recklessly upon them with dangling legs, Isabella got her first good look at The People.

There had been people, of course, here and there along the road down into the valley from the overlook where Sir Stewart’s company had stopped to rendezvous with envoys from the palace, to organize themselves for their triumphal entrance into the capital. But it was only when enough people were gathered together that their collective will became a political force worth manipulating. Only then, Isabella knew, did they cease being people and become The People.

As she trudged step by step towards the city’s West Gate, Isabella scanned the crowd arrayed on the walls. She squinted, trying to divide the undifferentiated mass, accented only by the white flags sticking up at random angles and intervals like monochromatic pins in a pin cushion, into its constituent groups and individuals. It was a futile task at this distance, but it took her mind off her feet.

The gravel road had given way to stone as they neared the nexus of royal power. Hard and unforgiving but far less sharp and uneven. A small mercy.

Despite the growing ache emanating from the soles of her bare feet, Isabella maintained a steady, brisk stride, matching her pace to that of Sir Stewart’s horse. She walked with her arms stretched straight out ahead of her, elbows locked, like a sleepwalker or a reanimated corpse. Her closed fists pressed their knuckles firmly against one another, fixed in their embrace by the coils of rope that wound around her wrists. It was the same type of knot that had been used to tie her hands behind her back in the Bishop’s chamber of horrors.

From one end of the rope fetters that spiraled up her forearm, a single cord snaked up towards her neck, encircling her throat before tying itself off in a loose-fitting collar. Besides preventing her from dropping her arms below her waist, the leash served as another token of her degradation. She felt like a fattened sow being dragged to market to be weighed and slaughtered.

Shooting out beneath her fists, from the other side of the entwining coils, a much longer length of rope connected her to the back of Sir Stewart’s saddle, secured astride the knight’s dappled white gelding. Isabella struggled to leave enough slack in the rope, lest the steed topple her with a sudden movement.

She was completely naked. As instructed, after pulling the captive noblewoman from her cage, Sir Stewart’s men had stripped her.

Word must have passed among the soldiers, for, by the time the door cut into the roof of the cage had been unlatched and Isabella lifted out like a sack of foodstuffs from the cellar, a small crowd had gathered to watch.  She’d stood compliantly before them, offering no resistance as the mangled remnants of her black gown were ripped from her shoulders, the dress slipping out from beneath her breasts and catching around her hips as the lacing on the corset was pulled apart, the entire elaborate costume slithering down her legs and pooling in a ruffled circle around her feet, helped along by the tugging and tearing of the men placed in charge of disrobing her.

Isabella glanced downward. Through the gap between her bound arms, she could see her nude breasts swinging back and forth in step with her forced march. Once more, she felt a warm blush tingle up her cheeks. Despite all she had endured since her capture, there was something strange and distinctly embarrassing about her current state of undress. Horrific as the experience had been, it was one thing to be kept naked within the dark confines of the Bishop’s torture room. It was another thing to find herself without her clothes in broad daylight, paraded down a public road toward the gates of the Kingdom’s most populous city.

She squinted back up at the walls, growing nearer with every step. The front of the procession would be passing through the gate by now, and the focus of the onlookers was directed downward towards the pageantry directly below them. She could hear their cheering and make out the white rose emblazoned on their waving flags, the emblem of her father’s royal authority, now usurped by Lady Joan and her corpulent consort.

On closer examination, however, there were those among the still-distant faces who were already gesturing towards the back of the parade, pointing in the direction of the splendidly-armored White Knight and the naked, barefoot prisoner he was towing behind him. The People had spotted her.

Years before, when her power in the Grey Lion’s court had been at its apex, she had been at the head of a council tasked with resolving the Kingdom’s financial crisis.

To address the crown’s mounting debts, King Harold’s minister of the treasury, Lord Baldwin Loxbury, had greatly expanded the capacity of the Realm’s mints, an achievement for which he’d been widely lauded, particularly among Lady Joan’s faction and their allies. When a scarcity of gold and silver ore threatened to slow production, the innovative minister had introduced the practice of fortifying their coins with tin and copper and other more abundant metals.

To the bewilderment and dismay of the King’s advisors, however, a new problem emerged. Just as Lord Baldwin’s new supply of cash began to flow into their coffers, there was a sudden, inexplicable rise throughout the Kingdom in the price of goods. The lenders they had relied upon to bankroll the affairs of state refused to extend them further credit and demanded repayment for the government’s debts in kind rather than in adulterated coinage.

But as alarming as the monetary chaos was to King Harold and his court, the consequences fell hardest on The People. From grain to lamp oil, they found themselves unable to afford the basic commodities of survival. Unrest swept the countryside and flared into violence in the towns and cities. Fortunately, the King’s ministers were able to swiftly solve the problem by enforcing strict price controls, but, no sooner had they done so than a perplexing new woe befell the Kingdom’s economy: widespread food shortages. Famine loomed.

Desperate, the Old King had commissioned an emergency council, granting them extraordinary powers to deal with the situation as they saw fit. At its head, he placed his elder daughter. It was an unusual position of authority for a woman, but Princess Isabella had the loyalty of the Aardmorian faction, whose political support and financial backing the crown needed more than ever in those troubled times. Besides, the fiercely intelligent young princess had been outspoken against Loxbury’s policies from the beginning. Perhaps she had the sound judgment needed to exert command over the capricious forces of commerce.

It was not quick or easy, but Isabella and her fellow councilmen, who swiftly learned to respect the princess’s talents if they hadn’t already, turned things around. There was hunger, to be sure, but the famine was not as severe nor as prolonged as it might have been. Credit began to flow again, prices stabilized, trade resumed, prosperity gradually increased.

Yet, Princess Isabella’s success did not make her beloved by The People. Whatever her policies may have done for their wellbeing in the long run, in the short run she had ended the popular price controls on grain and levied new taxes that, while directed mainly at the Kingdom’s largest landowners, were resented on principle. Cause and effect became muddled in the minds of many, and it became common to lay blame for the years of turmoil and the hardship at the feet of the Grey Lion’s daughter.

These misplaced grievances were stirred up and exploited by the Whites, who refused to acknowledge Lord Baldwin’s mismanagement. Isabella was portrayed as having manipulated her way to her position of responsibility and, once there, of abusing her power for personal gain. It was around this time that the rumors concerning her and her mother’s occult practices first started gaining traction.

It did not help that the beautiful young princess who would soon be dubbed the Black Queen had little patience for public relations. Though outspoken when it came to matters of state or military policy and unshy about asserting herself within the halls of the palace, she had never been comfortable drawing attention to herself in a public manner. Unlike her younger sister, she did not make public appearances or cultivate a public persona, and she certainly did not employ a network of gossips to burnish her reputation or slander her opponents. Effortlessly gorgeous and unapologetically intelligent, Isabella had always come across as aloof and uncompassionate where The People were concerned.

Now, though, they would have all they wanted of her. The snooty princess who had so selfishly kept herself to herself, who had arrogantly refused to court their adoration while ruling over them, now she would be subjected to public scrutiny more probing than she could possibly have imagined, whether she liked it or not. The noblewoman who had valued her privacy over the opinion of The People would soon find herself offered up on public display for their entertainment and their ignorant judgments. There was nothing she could do about it. She belonged to them now.

Isabella had put on a brave face thus far, burying her past traumas and future fears beneath the tangible, immediate struggle of one-foot-in-front-of-the-other. One step at a time. But as the city walls loomed closer, her courage faltered. Whatever diversions the parade ahead of her offered, the attention of the throngs who’d flocked to the West Gate to welcome the victorious White army was now unmistakably directed towards the procession’s centerpiece and finale: the dazzling figure of the King’s High Marshal himself, the gallant and glamorous White Knight, and, behind him, stumbling along at the end of a rope like a pack mule, a nude woman who could not possibly be the indomitable Black Queen, the infamous Lady Isabella of Aardmore.

She could hear them now. Shouting down at her. Or shouting down about her to Sir Stewart or the other soldiers. She fixed her gaze ahead, trying to keep her chin from trembling, keep her stoic expression from contorting into sobs of helplessness and humiliation. Her legs felt wobbly, and she channeled all her willpower into bringing them under her command. One foot in front of the other. One step at a time. To aim higher than landing her next footfall successfully was to expose herself to certain despair.

Ahead of her, the haunches of Sir Stewart’s steed swayed in dependable rhythm with its steady, well-trained trot, the same rhythm that Isabella had been doing her best to emulate and internalize. Ten paces behind. No more no less. Meticulous as always when it came to matters of self-aggrandizement, the White Knight had emphasized these instructions multiple times, made her repeat them back to him like a condescending schoolteacher while she stood there naked before him, his followers readying to hitch her to the back of his saddle.

The knight’s costume was even more flamboyant than usual. His armor, plainly forged for ceremony rather than battle, glittered in the sunlight, and a long white cape flapped heroically in the wind behind him. Managing the reins with one hand, he kept one arm raised in a perpetual wave towards the spectators on the walls, rotating his palm slowly so as to diffuse the benevolent rays of his humble thanks towards The People.

Sir Stewart and his trussed trophy were almost directly below them now. The multitude of faces, hundreds perhaps, gawked down at her. There were too many voices, all shouting and calling out on top of one another, for Isabella to pick out much from the general clamor, but here and there recurring phrases would rise out of the background noise of boos and hisses: Her name, for example, or, more often, one of her epithets. “The Black Witch.” “Whore of Aardmore.” Curses, taunts, appeals to see her hanged or worse. Unimaginative observations about her nude body, remarking on the size and shape of her bouncing tits or calling attention to her shaved cunt.

Her heart raced, and, with the city gate looming and the temporary shelter of its stone archway drawing near, her stride unconsciously quickened. Her tether to Sir Stewart’s horse slackened as she hurried forward. Without thinking, she approached within nine paces of the waving knight. Then eight. Then perhaps no more than five or six.

Zzzzzzzz-CRACK!!

Isabella staggered forward with a yelp of surprise as an acute sting licked across her naked backside. Above her, the crowd cheered and hooted in delight, as if their favorite tournament combatant had just made an impressive tilt in the joust.

She looked back over her shoulder, impotent anger swelling within her. There, she met the eyes of Charley, the sadistic farmboy from the village west of the capital. Shortly after Sir Stewart’s men had stripped her of her clothes and positioned her in her proper place within the procession, the White Knight had arrived, accompanied by his fresh recruit.

He had dressed the boy in royal livery. A finely embroidered white tunic hung from his shoulders. Most strikingly, he wore a tall white hat, ringed in fur and with a gigantic ostrich feather running up the center and fluttering over the top. It was a grandiose costume, like the cupbearer for some emperor out of the distant Orient.

Sir Stewart had given him a thin, flexible cane of birchwood, the sort of stick used to drive mules and other beasts of burden. He was instructed to march behind the captive queen. If the prisoner fell behind or surged too far ahead (“How many paces, Isabella?” “Ten, My Lord.”), he was instructed to strike her.

With so much else to take in, Isabella had nearly forgotten the boy was back there. But the sharp pain that nipped her bare skin, making her involuntarily clench her bottom and arch her back even as she stumbled onward after the white horse, made clear that the lad intended to take his mandate seriously.

He returned her backward glance with a look of smug satiety, as if he had been waiting for this moment. His arm was still raised from the arc of his stroke, the thin wooden rod, nearly as long as he was tall, held high in his hand, still reverberating from the impact. When the cheers erupted from the crowds along the city walls, he raised his face in dawning exhilaration. He lifted both arms towards the onlookers, waggling his stick above his head, welcoming The People’s adulation.

“Well done, boy!” shouted the White Knight from up ahead, once the crowd’s cheering had subsided, “Mind your pace, Isabella! Ten steps! Not nine not eleven! If she forgets again, you give her another reminder, boy! Don’t be shy!”

Choking back a sob, Isabella turned back ahead, fell back a few steps and tried her best to simply march on, one foot in front of the other, making sure that the rope connecting her to the knight’s saddle stayed slack but not too slack.

They passed the city watch, standing at attention in straight lines projecting out from the wall and flanking the entrance to the West Gate. Their pikes were raised in salute to the King’s High Marshal and his triumphant forces. They had adopted a similar formation during the ceremonial inspections that Princess Isabella had made during her time at court, accompanying her father at first and then later on her own. It had been important to her to demonstrate her authority and to make her face familiar to a key constituency in the power games that animated the capital.

Some of those same men were here today, she had no doubt, witnessing her homecoming, leashed naked behind her cousin’s horse, to the city where she once held such sway. Against her higher will, she was unable to resist a quick sidelong glance. One of the guards pursed his lips as her eyes rose towards him in an elaborate, mocking kissy-face.

“Lift your arms higher, Your Majesty! We can’t see your tits!” one of them called out, to the chuckles of his comrades.

For some reason, the unprofessionalism angered Isabella more than the taunts. When she’d been in command, she’d have had these men flogged for such lapses of discipline.

As if reading her mind, another guard called across to his neighbors, “Lookit that stripe ‘cross her arse! Red as a raspberry tart. Musta stung fierce that. Discipline, My Lady! Discipline is the mortar that binds the Kingdom!”

With a dizzying fury, Isabella recognized her own words. It was a maxim she’d deployed for years, organizing institutions large and small, from her household staff to the multiple field battalions of the Black army. Now it was thrown back at her by a bunch of impudent rogues befouling the uniform of the city watch, as they watched her struggle to maintain a disciplined march upon threat of being once more whipped across her bare haunches by a preening little boy. Conscious of the warm flush smoldering across her face, she gritted her teeth and looked away.

“Lookit ‘er blush!” someone said, just as she stepped across into the shadow of the city gate. The observation made her redden further.

Beneath the stone tunnel, the sounds of the crowd grew muffled. The clopping of Sir Stewart’s mount echoed around her. The sound was joined with the footfalls of the flamboyantly costumed peasant boy behind her and the handful of soldiers who formed the procession’s small rearguard, and with the patter of her own tender steps scrabbling across the cool, shaded bricks.

Upon the sheltered tunnel walls, several large sheets of parchment had been plastered. Isabella glanced at them in astonishment as she passed, her attention caught by the sight of her own visage gazing back at her in the form of a crude woodcut. They were all identical, and she struggled to take in the text that accompanied her ink portraits, craning her neck to read the poster receding behind her before picking up where she left off with the next in the series.

It was her confession. Every slanderous lie she’d been forced to sign. The fornication, the adultery, the Sapphic orgies, the Satanic rituals, even her mother’s shameful fate in the afterlife. All disseminated for public consumption. Isabella felt a knot rise in her throat. She thanked God that so few of The People were literate.

A moment later, the parade emerged back into the sunlight. The roar of the crowd erupted full-throated once more. The sound now came not just from above, the same onlookers having run to the other side of the wall or else a whole different set of spectators now getting their turn, but also from the throngs around and ahead of her.

The narrow alleyways of the capital forked out in chaotic tendrils from the open square just inside the gate. In the whole of the city there was only one path wide enough to accommodate the plunder-laden carts and three-abreast cavalry formations of the White Knight’s grand triumph: the Palace Road.

The Palace Road sloped down in a wide arc, following the city’s natural topography, towards the central plaza between the cathedral and the guild hall. From there, it was a short climb to the gates of the Royal Palace, its fortifications looming over the city like a watchful benefactor, giving no hint of the extravagant garden and courtyards ensconced within. Unlike the filthy mud streets the otherwise criss-crossed the capital, the Palace Road was mostly paved and reasonably maintained. Yet, frequent potholes were inevitable on such a highly-trafficked throughway, and the road was by no means free from the hazards created by emptied chamber pots, those stagnant puddles that gave urban life its universal texture and fragrance.

Isabella could see the parade ahead of her snaking down the Palace Road. The masses had gathered along the road, standing in the doorways of cramped shops and houses or leaning out windows from the rickety upper stories that jutted out precariously above the road, forming a partial canopy over its narrower stretches.

Like the crowds on the walls, they waved white banners as they cheered the martial pageantry marching by. The white rose hung from balconies and fluttered over rooftops. A fresh wave of huzzahs seemed to crest as Sir Stewart emerged through the gate’s stone archway in all his knightly pomp. A moment later, gasps and astonished laughter mingled among the cheers. Far down the rows of rabble lining the parade route, heads turned. They pointed. Losing immediate interest in whatever sideshows made up the triumph’s vanguard and meandering midsections, the focus of the crowds swung inexorably back towards the prize that the White Knight towed behind him.

Isabella stood out from the rest of the procession. She walked alone as if surrounded by an impenetrable unseen bubble that separated her from the tight formations of soldier’s marching ahead of her or the rearguard behind her. She was bookended by solitary figures: the gleaming mounted figure leading her from ten paces on and the absurd, grandiose little attendant urging her forward. Isabella’s position announced plainly that she was the centerpiece of the whole affair. She was situated so as to call maximum attention to herself.

Willing herself desperately to stifle the tears of shame that seemed to be building to a critical volume behind the levies of her eyes, she concentrated on simply taking one more step. Then another. Then the next. As for the jeers and derision that rained down upon her as she was paraded down the Palace Road between and beneath the teeming buildings of the capital, she did what she could to shut them out.

Eventually, a step thwarted her. Distracted momentarily by particularly shrill heckling from a gaggle of women hanging off a balcony directly above her, Isabella’s foot sank deep into a crater of mud that marred the center of the road. At least she hoped it was mud.

Isabella stumbled. Only the pull of the rope kept her from toppling over, and she teetered from side to side across the width of the Palace Road, leaning back against the taut cord connected to her wrists for balance, knowing that if she went down, her body would be dragged across the jagged cobblestones until Sir Stewart saw fit to halt his horse. Her nude breasts, too big to fit through the narrow passage between her locked elbows, leapt and jiggled, jostled by the force of the tightening rope which jerked her arms upwards and outwards. Even as she battled madly to right herself, she could hear The People react to her peril, their cries rising in excitement and glee.

Finally, she found her footing. She straightened out, and the soles of her feet began to strike the stone path in a painful but regular rhythm. No sooner had the danger of capsizing abated, however, than she felt the sting of the cane lash across her bottom, its whizz and crack somehow cutting through the din of the crowd. Caught off-guard, it drew from her a high-pitched wail of shock and pain that she would never have consciously allowed to escape her lips.

The People cheered.

A sensation of piercing heat sizzled in a straight diagonal down her lower buttocks where she’d been struck. Her arm twitched in an instinctive urge to reach back and rub the tingling, exposed flesh, but the coils around her wrists foiled that tiny solace before it began.

Still fighting for her balance, she tried to adjust her stride to catch up with Sir Stewart. She wasn’t nearly quick enough. Perhaps emboldened by the positive feedback he was receiving from the crowd, her handler Charley decided a second reprimand was in order. Lifting his rod high in the air with a theatrical flourish, he brought it hissing down into Isabella’s nude backside, leaving its mark across the soft curve of her ass with crisp pop and forming an angry X where it crisscrossed his previous stroke.

This time, Isabella stifled her cry beneath a throaty grunt, even as the burning of the second welt rose and throbbed. Clenching her buttocks against the pain, she pranced forward to catch up with Sir Stewart. It was an awkward, degradingly comical little dance, and, indeed, peals of laughter greeted her from the surrounding doorways and balconies as she hopped gracelessly past.

The city grew increasingly dense as the parade neared the cathedral plaza, and the chatter and cheers of its citizens ricocheted through the cramped alleys, echoing down the Palace Road like wind through a canyon. Isabella tried to treat it like wind, loud but indistinct, something that could be shut out as she fought to keep her aching feet moving one after the other. One step at a time. Ten paces behind.

Isabella settled into a sustainable pace, eyes locked down and forward, ignoring the taunts of the crowds and the lingering pain that pricked her backside, trying as best she could not to dwell on the horrifying reality of being whipped naked through the streets of the city that should have been her birthright. Suddenly, something struck the side of her face. It felt like a wet slap. Her neck whipped to the left with the force of the blow, causing her rope collar to bite into her skin.

A fresh surge of cheers and laughter accompanied the moist smack of the impact, augmenting the general cacophony.

Isabella’s mouth hung open, absorbing the shock and the sting. Momentarily blinded and disoriented, it took her a moment to register the film of sticky goo that had sprayed across her cheek, leaving splatters from her jaw all the way up into her hair. Still scurrying onward to maintain her pace, she looked down and behind her to see a piece of rotted fruit lying smashed on the receding pavement, a distended brown mass that might have once been a peach.

Another missile landed near her feet, splattering mush up her ankles and calves. Another struck the road a few steps ahead.

Her sharp temper, so worn down beneath the incessant grind of her subjugation, swelled anew. Outrage swallowing her shame and despair, she scanned the passing balconies and rooftops for her attackers, but the peach barrage had inspired such widespread merriment among the throngs of onlookers that it was impossible to tell who might have actually hurled the fruit.

“Cowards!” Isabella screamed, her voice cracking as it squeezed out her dry throat. “How dare you! Worthless craven filth! You dishonorable knaves! Bestial weak-livered ma—Gaaaaaaaah!”

The cane crashed into Isabella’s bare bottom with a heavy Thwaaaaap!, sending her dancing forward in another clownish, high-step trot.

“Oh! Oh G-God!” she gasped through gritted teeth.

“Behave yourself, Isabella!” she heard Sir Stewart shout back at her. “We’re almost there!”

She was panting, her nude breasts heaving in the crook of her bound arms as she tried to keep herself together. She could feel the syrupy peach juice oozing slowly down the side of her face while, traversing the plump curves of her bottom, the bite of the birchwood rod tingled insistently. Still, she staggered on, the firm cheeks of her victimized buttocks bouncing in rhythm with her faltering stride.

Spoiled produce rained down sporadically, copycats or collaborators of the initial ambush. Peaches seemed to be the ammunition of choice, though some of the smaller bombs might have once been plums or nectarines. The People’s aim was unimpressive, and the cobblestone path around Isabella’s feet erupted periodically with the splatter of exploding fruit.

But a small fraction of the squishy projectiles found their mark. Something large and moist smashed hard into the small of her back, disintegrating into a burst of goo and leaving a thick residue that trickled gradually down the curve of her spine and pooled in the cleft of her ass.

A dripping piece of fruit bounced off her chest, spraying her in the face with its putrid-sweet pulp as it grazed the white hilltops of her tits. A moment later, a rotting plum flew towards her at a similar angle. This time, however, instead of glancing off the buoyant surface of her naked breasts, the plum sailed straight into the cleavage between. There it stuck, coming to rest with a wet splat right inside the deep nook formed by the push of her pinioned arms squeezing her bosom upwards and outwards.

Disgusted, Isabella tried to shake the mushy plum loose, but, with her arms locked in front of her, there was not much she could do. It stayed tucked between her tits, oozing its juices down her front.

Perhaps concerned that the mob might slip out of control, or at least that he might be struck by a wayward nectarine, Sir Stewart barked orders up the line, and soon their pace increased. Isabella had to jog to keep up.

Her aching soles pounded the stone street. Her breasts bounced wildly, jumping up and down against her arms (yet somehow the jostling still failed to dislodge the plum). Her butt cheeks shimmied in a frenzied see-saw, rubbing rapidly against one another with an increasingly sticky, viscous sensation, as sour peach juice continued to ooze down into her crack. Her lungs burned from the sheer exertion. Finally, just when she thought she could go no further, resigning herself to being dragged behind the White Knight’s horse following her inevitable collapse, the procession slowed.

The deceleration was sudden enough that Isabella found herself careening forward towards Sir Stewart’s horse before catching herself and falling back to her proper position. The boy with the stick, who had also been forced to break into a run, caught up just in time to whack her across the bottom, but it was a tired, half-hearted blow, and it barely registered.

The Palace Road was widening out into the large central square. The Cathedral Square was used to host vendors’ stalls on market days and for other civic events. The spires of the capital cathedral loomed at one end of the plaza, while the squatter but no less imposing guildhall sat at the other end.

Today, the square was filled with people. They thronged up the cathedral steps and under the arches of the guildhall’s long portico. As Isabella lurched out into the square, making sure to maintain the correct distance behind Sir Stewart’s horse, she saw that the White Knight’s regiment had also taken up formation within the plaza, guarding the wagons of plunder that now sat parked beneath the shadow of the cathedral. This was the parade’s terminus, then. Isabella flicked her tongue across her dry lips, wondering what was in store for her now.

With threats and shoves, white-uniformed soldiers maintained a corridor down the middle of the crowd, through which the White Knight gallantly rode, trailing his naked captive behind him. Up ahead, Isabella noticed wooden scaffolding rising from the center of the plaza. A stage had been erected.

A sea of menacing faces walled her in on either side, but Isabella kept her gaze forward, watching the elevated platform creep closer and closer. Finally, they reached a set of stairs. Sir Stewart dismounted. Unhitching the rope from his saddle, he coiled it around his arm until there was only a short length separating him from his prisoner. He then tossed it over his shoulder and started up the wooden stairs, tugging his prisoner up after him.

As she shuffled up the creaking steps, she glanced briefly behind her. Two members of Sir Stewart’s rearguard were following. The village boy with the cane had started up the stairs as well before being pulled back down and told to stay put.

When she and the White Knight emerged onto the stage, they were announced by the sound of trumpets, and the crowd that encircled the small platform on all sides erupted in wild cheering. Sir Stewart raised his hands high above his head in a triumphant greeting.

He turned back to Isabella. Dropping the coils of rope to the ground, he grabbed her wrists and pulled her close.

“You look disgusting,” he observed, examining her with a look of faint amusement as if noticing for the first time the fruit pulp smeared across her face.

Then, shrugging, he pulled a knife from his belt and sawed through the cords around her wrists. With relief, she dropped her arms. At the same time, the moldy plum she had carried tucked between her breasts dropped to the floor, drawing hoots of laughter from those in the crowd close enough to see it happen.

Sir Stewart grabbed the remaining piece of rope looped around her neck and tugged her towards the edge of the stage. Then, with sudden violence, he put his hand on her shoulder and shoved her to the ground, kicking her legs out from under her so that she collapsed to her knees onto the wooden planks. Her palms slapped hard down upon the lip of the platform, and she found herself on all fours, facing The People.

“Good gentlefolk and honest citizens!” Sir Stewart cried out above the noise of the crowds. “I give you . . . the Black Queen!”

A deafening clamor spread across the square. It was half joy and half scorn, as the gathered masses vacillated between booing their enemy and cheering her defeat. Eventually, a discernable chant gained momentum. “Burn her! Burn her! Burn her!” the crowd repeated. Isabella looked out over them in terror.

No sooner had the “Burn her” chant found traction, however, than it abruptly died down. A chorus of shushes made its way around the plaza, and the crowd gradually quieted down. Still on her hands and knees, Isabella’s expression changed from terror to puzzlement.

Amid the growing hush, she heard the creak of the scaffold’s wooden stairs. Slowly, she turned, just in time to see a head of blonde curls rise above the edge of the platform. The yellow hair bounced with luxurious fullness and glistened in the waning afternoon sunlight. Crowning the head was an elegant French hood trimmed in white and gold, radiating out at an almost perpendicular angle, like the halo of a saint in a religious icon or like the frill of a beautiful but dangerous lizard.

The lizard’s eyes found Isabella’s, and Isabella felt her stomach drop. She felt dizzy. The arms supporting her weight grew weak and began to wobble. She had known the moment would come. But not like this.

The regal figure stepped onto the stage. Her dress was gold and white, matching her hat, and embellished with what appeared to be pearls. Sir Stewart took her hand and delivered an extravagant kiss. She smiled and nodded her acknowledgement.

“Cousin,” she said.

Then, turning to the disgraced woman kneeling, filthy and naked on all fours, at the lip of the stage, she nodded again, with a faint, haughty smile.

“Sister,” she said.

No, Isabella thought. No, not like this. She opened her mouth to speak but found she could not. Instead, she merely gaped back at her sister, Joan D’Montefort, Countess of Cartreaux. The White Queen.

Queen Joan looked vaguely disappointed at Isabella’s speechlessness, but after regarding her humiliated sister for a moment, she pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows in the tiny equivalent of a shrug.

“Mount the prisoner as discussed,” she said, addressing Sir Stewart’s men, “I will now address the People.”

The two White soldiers descended menacingly upon Isabella. Taking hold of her shoulders, they lifted her to her feet and escorted her to the middle of the stage. Joan and Sir Stewart made room for them. Two squat wooden pillars were set into the platform’s center, each about four feet tall and set about three feet apart. A knot rose in Isabella’s throat as she realized their purpose.

One of the soldiers took a knife and cut the rope collar off of Isabella’s neck. Meanwhile, the other had fetched a heavy, broad plank from where it had been piled at the opposite corner of the stage. Grunting with exertion, he lugged it back to the parallel columns, lifted it high, and slid it down between them into a slot specially carved for that purpose. The thick board caught a third of the way down, forming a stout, asymmetrical “H” with the pillars. Along the top edge of the plank, three semi-circles had been cut, a larger one flanked by two smaller ones. The pillory, Isabella thought with numb despair. They planned to place her in the pillory like a petty thief.

The other soldier pushed her forward. He placed one hand on the back of her neck and was about to grab her wrist with the other, but it was unnecessary. She knew what to do. Rather than be forced into position, Isabella leaned forward compliantly, resting her chin on the middle hole and her wrists on the outside holes. A moment later, a mirror plank was slotted into place and slid down towards her neck like an executioner’s blade.

Isabella flinched as the two wooden boards came together with a thud. When she opened her eyes, the circles surrounding her head and hands had been completed. The soldiers snapped shut a pair of latches, locking the pillory in place and locking Isabella into her humiliating position, her face mounted in the middle of this wooden frame like a hunter’s trophy, her hands pinned comically by her ears.

The position of the pillory’s head-hole was barely higher than Isabella’s bellybutton. She bent her knees at first, squatting as the boards were being locked in place. After a moment, though, she realized that her legs would not sustain this pose for long and adjusted her stance. She took a step back, straightened her legs and arched her back. It felt utterly demeaning to bend over like this, presenting her hindermost parts to the segment of the crowd gathered around the rear of the stage, but there was no other option.

She looked up to find Joan looking down at her. For a moment, her half-sister’s benevolent, queenly smile widened into something more sadistic and gleeful, and Isabella could see the face of the bratty little girl who had tormented her growing up. Then it was gone, and the sober monarch returned, looking at the pathetic prisoner with detachment, pity even.

The White Queen turned. The audience had started a chant of “Love live Queen Joan! Long live Queen Joan!” but at the slightest gesture from their sovereign, they quieted. Joan’s high, feminine voice rang out, bouncing off the wide stone walls of the guildhouse and echoing across the crowded plaza.

“My beloved countrymen and loyal subjects,” she said. “The dark days of blood that have tried our Kingdom’s resolve are nearly behind us. The gallant Sir Stewart has returned in triumph from the northlands, having destroyed our enemies’ host and laid waste to their strongholds. Sir Stewart, the Realm thanks you for your selfless service. The People owe their freedom and their very lives to you. You will be rewarded with lands and titles befitting your patriotism.”

The White Knight bowed humbly. The People cheered.

“Reginald de Cassingham, Baron of the West Midlands has repented his treason and lain down his arms. The Duke of Aardmore, who we are told even now cowers in a mountain cave with his few remaining followers, has sent emissaries to negotiate a lasting peace. And, as you yourselves have seen, the faithless pretender who once called herself the Black Queen, that woman of such scandalous repute that she has brought shame and disgrace to the name of her father, King Harold the Grey Lion, has been shown for what she is. Let it be known that God has chosen but one king and one queen to rule over you.”

“Long live Queen Joan!” the People shouted before being quieted once more.

“Look upon the deceitful harlot who once thought to threaten this Kingdom,” Queen Joan continued. “What fool would pay such a creature fealty? If you good Christian men and women did once fear her sorcery, look now and see how her dark power has been laid bare. She belongs to us, body and spirit, now and for all time, to do with her as we wish.”

“Burn her! Burn her!” the crowd cried, but Joan held up her hand.

“Your pleas have been heard and are most just. The punishment for treason can only be death. But His Majesty and I have prayed on this woman’s fate and the Lord has filled our hearts with mercy. By law, Lady Isabella’s life is forfeit. And indeed all honors and titles, all vestiges of her former royal personage are hereby stripped. But her body shall be spared as an enduring tribute to His Majesty’s magnificence and generosity and compassion for the rest of her days. Henceforth, she is the personal property of the crown and shall be kept in the palace to serve us and to use as we see fit.”

This time, the cheering was more scattered and confused, as if the crowd recognized the applause line in the Queen’s speech but was not fully committed to the sentiment. A moment later, however, something picked up their spirits. Isabella felt the stairs of the scaffolding creak, and, a moment later, there was clapping and laughter and eager pointing in her direction.

The excitement seemed to be directed at something behind her. Unable see anything beyond the stout boards surrounding her head, a feeling of intense vulnerability tingled across Isabella’s skin. She could sense someone standing just behind her shoulder, and there seemed to be a strange warmth radiating across the right side of her torso.

At a gesture from Queen Joan, a man stepped into her periphery wearing heavy gloves and a smithing apron. A straight metal implement was in his hand, and it took the rattled Isabella a moment to follow the straight, black rod from the gloved fist wrapped around its handle to the tip that flared open into an intricate pattern of intertwining metal ribbons, all glowing a pale orange.

The smith held the steaming brand in front of Isabella’s face, rotating it as if to demonstrate its exquisite craftsmanship. With eyes like quivering saucers, Isabella watched its pattern reveal itself as it turned, the twisting ribbons taking shape as the elaborate petals of the Cartreuax rose, the sigil of the White King’s vile new dynasty.

The rose flickered pink and white and back to orange, and animal fear commandeered Isabella’s will. She began a desperate, futile struggle. She bucked against the pillory, shaking its sturdy foundation to no avail. She banged her hands against the wooden holes that entrapped them.

“No! . . .” she screamed. “No! . . . No! . . . Please!”

The glowing brand disappeared from view as the smith stepped back into Isabella’s expansive blindspot.

“By law, this woman is now royal property,” Queen Joan told the crowd. “Whoever touches her without the King’s express permission shall be guilty of trespass to His Majesty’s personal chattels. We shall display our trophy here in the Cathedral Square until Vespers. Look upon her and contemplate the might and the mercy of God and your King!”

There was cheering, but it barely registered to Isabella. Her ears were ringing, and it felt like the world was moving in slow-motion. The warmth by her right side returned, centered around her upper thigh. She kicked and screamed. Several hands grabbed her, holding her still. Someone wrapped an arm around her waist. Someone else gripped her right knee tightly with two hands, holding her leg flat on the platform floor.

And then, searing pain. Her desperate pleas became an incoherent shriek. One second. Then two. Finally, the brand was taken away. The burning subsided into a dull throb as the cool early-evening air whipped across the tender patch on her upper thigh, just below the cleft of her buttocks, where the brand had marked her. Her screams petered out into sobs. With a feeling of nausea, she became aware of the faint scent of her own scorched flesh.

Trumpets sounded. Queen Joan turned and, with one last smirk towards Isabella’s teary, fruit-stained face, she took Sir Stewart’s hand and allowed herself to be escorted towards the stairs of the stage. The scaffolding creaked as the White Queen and the White Knight and their followers began their royal recession.

Isabella was left alone on the high platform. The rigid grip of the pillory forced her to face the hostile crowd while, behind her, unseen, the rest of the masses were free to file by and gawk at her exposed body and at the King’s mark which still smoldered upon her naked haunches.

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Queen Captured – Act III: Knight (scene i)

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Sixth Chapter of W.H. Collins’s dark erotic fantasyAll fourteen chapters are now available from Amazon under the title The Fall of the Black Queen.

Note that this story is intended for mature audiences only and contains extremely graphic depictions of material that many audiences will find disturbing, including spanking and forced nudity. Nothing herein is intended to glorify or condone the horrific experiences which the protagonist endures, and the reader is strictly instructed not to take any prurient interest in this tale of medieval violence and sexual exploitation.

“I’m to be given a triumph, you know.”

Isabella knew. The White Knight had not stopped talking about it since he had taken her from Evanshire Abbey, releasing her from the Bishop’s clutches and grasping her firmly in his own.

It was fleeting, the satisfaction she had felt stepping over the slain body of Brother Duncan and later walking past the similarly lifeless Brother Theodore lying in the hall outside the interrogation chamber. She was glad they were dead. She was glad to have left the Bishop’s flail behind and to no longer spend her nights chained to the floor of the Abbey’s cold tower. But there had been moments over the last two days, as the wagon train made its way towards the capital that she would almost have preferred the agony and fear that had previously gripped her to the aching despair she now felt.

“Acrobats. Moorish dancers. No expense spared. The Kingdom’ll not have seen its like in a generation, I dare say.”

Isabella knew all this as well. But it was not her that Sir Stewart was addressing. There was another man standing beside the White Knight, just outside the spacious canvas dome that surrounded her. A big man, both tall and fat. Isabella only had his silhouette to go by, projected up against the linen walls of Sir Stewart’s tent by the light of the campfire outside, but Isabella concluded that the shadow likely belonged to Baldwin d’Carrick, a local lord of the Vale of East Dentshire, where the caravan had camped for the night.

“. . . with a most exquisite saddle that’s being crafted just for the occasion. And monkeys, if you’ll believe it. Quite a collection of them, taken from Old Aardmore’s private menagerie. Say what you will about the Black Duke, he had an eye for curious beasts . . .”

As Sir Stewart continued to describe the grand celebration in his honor that awaited him in the capital, the flaps of the tent parted. The White Knight entered, followed by Lord d’Carrick, stooping to pass through the entryway.

“. . . But of course here we have the centerpiece of the whole affair. I just have to sort out where to place her. For maximum effect, you see, but without drawing undue focus . . .”

Lord d’Carrick made eye contact with Isabella. He appeared to catch his breath, hesitating at the tent’s threshold for a moment before following Sir Stewart’s lead and approaching her cage.

It was literally a cage. Stewart had ordered it constructed as soon as he and his men had ridden back into camp with their prize captive in tow, having sorted out at swordpoint the jurisdictional disagreement that had apparently arisen between the Tribunal of Heresies and the crown. The cage was rectangular, with iron bars sunk into its wooden base at intervals wide enough that Isabella could almost slip her head through. Almost but not quite. It was too short heightwise for her to stand upright, too short lengthwise for her to lay fully prone. So she sat or knelt or curled herself up into a ball on the straw bedding that lined the cage floor.

By day, the cage was mounted onto a wagon, and she was pulled like a circus animal along with the caravan’s other spoils of war, inching inexorably down the long road that led to the capital. By night, Sir Stewart had her placed in his tent, a spacious pavilion that the Knight’s servants filled with velvet rugs and other luxuries each night after the company made camp. He had arranged his wine casks and his tableware on top of the cage, as if the enclosure holding the Queen were simply furniture, an interesting conversation piece to entertain visitors.

He talked to her sometimes, particularly after he’d refilled his cup several times from the bar above Isabella’s head. To Isabella’s great relief, his banter seldom called for a response, and she was for the most part allowed to meet his japes and his self-absorbed proclamations with silent despondency.

It was a notable change from the repartee in which the two had sometimes engaged back before King Harold’s death. There had been no love lost between Princess Isabella and the young noble not yet known as the White Knight, her cousin once removed on her father’s side. She’d had no patience for his foppish excesses or his empty chivalry, and she made her disdain known at every opportunity. She’d spread rumors about him, and more than once their hostility had erupted in public verbal bouts that breached court decorum.

Though vain and frivolous, Isabella could not deny that Sir Stewart was capable of sporadic displays of wit, and before the war she might even have admitted to enjoying their spirited rivalry on some level. But that was before the Battle of St. Anthony’s Hill had established his reputation as a military commander of unquestionable brutality and, in Isabella’s opinion, a total lack of basic honor.

If Sir Stewart was disappointed by his inability to get a rise from his formerly feisty sparring partner, he didn’t show it. If anything, he seemed pleased, or fascinated perhaps, by his prisoner’s newfound servility. Even when he wasn’t lecturing her on the shortcomings of her battle tactics or discoursing on the minutia of planning his coming parade, he seemed to take satisfaction in simply putting his feet up and watching the silent Queen in her cage.

“Join me in a stoup of wine, My Lord?”

Lord d’Carrick did not answer. He leaned down to peer into Isabella’s cage, as if incredulous that the woman in the box was really King Harold’s eldest daughter. They had met on several occasions, and Isabella regarded him as a good man. He was tied to the House of Aardmore by marriage and would likely have declared for the Blacks if his estates had not been so close to the capital, surrounded by lands controlled by Queen Joan and her allies.

“Your Ma—” he began, before catching himself. “Lady Isabella. An . . . urm . . . an honor to . . .”

He trailed off. Sir Stewart thrust a cup of wine into the lord’s hand and then crouched next to him, staring alongside him at the woman in the cage. He clinked the wine bottle slowly across the bars.

Isabella adjusted her position, rising from a cross-legged squat to kneeling. Her corset squeezed her torso painfully as she did so. After so many days chained up naked in the Bishop’s interrogation chamber, it should have been a relief to at least endure this latest humiliation fully clothed.

It had, in fact, been one of Sir Stewart’s first priorities upon escorting her back to his encampment. Tsking his tongue in disapproval as she stood before him in his tent, her rough-spun penitent’s vestment hanging off her like a sack of turnips, he ordered garments brought befitting a lady of royal birth. To Isabella’s surprise, his men had immediately returned with several trunks of gowns and other elegant apparel. She could not comprehend what need a cavalry regiment in the field would have for such a wide selection of women’s finery. Only later did she learn the extent of the loot that Sir Stewart’s soldiers were escorting or whence it was plundered.

It was not the outfit she would have selected. She recognized the cut as one that had recently come into fashion, especially among young noblewomen who had spent time abroad, but the scandalous way it hugged her curves and the coquettish flashes of skin it revealed would never have passed muster at court in her father’s day. But she had no say in the matter. Sir Stewart seemed to enjoy picking out what she would wear, dressing her up to his liking as if she were some sort of doll.

Every morning, he would bring in a pair of female camp followers (prostitutes, Isabella was certain) to brush and braid her hair before placing her back in cage, ensuring that she looked appropriately regal as her mobile jail was wheeled across the countryside. Even her chains were polished and delicate, more like jewelry than like the heavy shackles which had bound her in the Abbey tower. A short strand of metal hanging between two bracelets kept her wrists close together. A similar chain ran between her ankles.

At least the dress was black.

“Queen Joan wished her sent ahead,” said Sir Stewart, tapping the neck of his bottle nonchalantly back and forth between two bars, “but I persuaded her to be patient. A cunning woman, our queen, but no sense of showmanship. Would have undermined entirely the suspense of my triumph, ruined the whole effect. It must be the city’s first look at the commander whose defeat has brought the Kingdom peace. The people will throng to see with their own eyes what’s become of the Black Queen.”$*Lord d’Carrick furrowed his brow quizzically, as if waiting for the Black Queen to respond. Isabella found herself forced to look away. Despite the fine black gown, despite the noble bearing that animated her instinctively, she did not feel much like a queen. The torture she had endured at Evanshire Abbey had broken something within her that was not easily repaired. A sense of powerlessness had permeated her, a lack of agency so foreign to her previous sense of self that she now struggled to retain a grip on who she was.

As shattered as her psyche had been, there were moments while riding away from the Abbey, the tower of its sinister inner sanctum receding in the distance, when she had tried to kindle the embers of hope that still flickered here and there within her. There was a time, after all—no more than a week or two ago, though it seemed a lifetime away now, before she’d been stripped naked in front of the Bishop and his men, before her body had been whipped and abused, before she’d been chained for days on end in the dark, violated repeatedly according to her captors’ whims—when this had been exactly what she had demanded: to be taken to the capital that she might negotiate a peace.

What Sir Stewart told her shortly thereafter was what had finally strangled these last fragile vestiges of hope, disposing of their mutilated husks to make room for the billowing despair that now stretched endlessly before her. From the moment Isabella had carelessly allowed herself to be captured in Malburgh Woods by the vile pair of White foot soldiers, she had been isolated. The White Knight’s boastful running commentary, as he sorted through chests of clothes and played dress-up with his new captive, was therefore the first news she’d had in days concerning the war’s progress.

The news was devastating. Shortly after her abduction, the White forces had managed to breach the walls of Malburgh Castle. Stewart had hinted that several members of the night’s garrison had been paid to open the gates. In any case, the castle had fallen. With the ancient fortress in their control, Queen Joan’s forces had quickly swept southward, burning and pillaging a path across the once-fertile lands the Duchy of Aardmore. Her uncle and his men had been forced to flee, and Aardmore Castle too had been ransacked and stripped of anything of value.

Meanwhile, the Black King had been surrounded. Cut off from his allies, his army had been cornered. Pinned against the sea and with White banners descending on his position from different directions, Isabella’s husband had surrendered. In exchange for amnesty for himself and his men, he had renounced his claim to the throne and pledged the swords at his command to the service of the White Queen and King.

In one spineless, selfish stroke, the Baron of the East Midlands, the old man that Isabella had married out of cold strategic calculation, had brought the conflict effectively to a close. The captured Queen felt her leverage evaporate. Suddenly, she was no longer a prisoner of war; she was a trophy of victory.

This news, as much as anything else, had knocked the fight out of the Grey Lion’s proud daughter. It was why she knelt silently on the floor of her cage as Lord d’Carrick stared at her incredulously through the bars, the White Knight smirking insufferably behind him.

“Between the two of us, it always seemed to me as if she might have the better claim,” offered Sir Stewart, continuing to speak about Isabella as if she wasn’t there as he rose to carve a hunk of bread from a platter of food that sat on top of the cage. “But then I’m no legal scholar. Something to soak up the wine, My Lord? This bread really is quite passable. Of course, you would know. It’s from your ovens, is it not? The crown thanks you warmly for your hospitality.”

Lord d’Carrick straightened upright, stepping back so that he could keep his eye on the caged Queen. He declined the outstretched bread with a mutter and a shake of his head. Sir Stewart shrugged and tore off a piece for himself, stuffing it into his cheek with relish. He then tore off a smaller piece and proffered it between the bars of the cage.

It was not the first time during her captivity that the knight had insisted on feeding her by hand. Isabella warily eyed the hand bobbing in front of her face in a theatrical display of enticement. She hazarded a swift sideways glance towards d’Carrick. Her impulse was to reject the humiliating offer, spit on the bread, bite the hand perhaps. But as the spongy white morsel danced before her, she realized how long it had been since she had eaten, and more primal instincts took over. She reached out for it.

Sir Stewart gently slapped her hand away, pulling the bread back. She had forgotten herself. Isabella’s anger and resentment flared for a moment but subsided with surprising speed, subdued in part by hunger. So quickly that it was one fluid movement, her hands tensed into tight fists, nails digging into her palms, and then relaxed, dropping demurely into her lap. Sir Stewart smiled and once more extended the tiny bite of bread. Isabella leaned forward and opened her mouth. The White Knight plopped his offering inside.

Glancing back at d’Carrick with a suppressed smile that might as well have been a wink, Sir Stewart tore off another small piece and fed it through the bars, straight into Isabella’s mouth. Tiny bite by tiny bite, the kneeling queen accepted the nourishment. She could only imagine how peculiar the scene must look to the knight’s guest: the notorious Lady Isabella of Aardmore, renowned throughout the Kingdom for both her beauty and her ferocity, kept like piece personal chattel in this army tent, clothed in a lavish if somewhat immodest gown while eating tamely from the cavalry commander’s hand like a baby goat.

The large nobleman touched his beard thoughtfully as, with a faintly furrowed brow, he watched the demeaning interaction.

“Shall I . . . Shall I send men to escort Lady Isabella to the banquet as well? We would be most honored to welcome her royal personage to our humble table along with the other gentlefolk among your party. Surely, this . . . this . . .”

Trailing off, he waved a meaty hand at the cramped cage, at the chains pooling around Isabella’s knees, at the small glob of bread pinched between Sir Stewart’s fingers.

“. . . all this is not necessary. In spite of all, Sir, she is the trueborn daughter of King Harold, is she not?”

“Nothing would please me more, My Lord,” answered Sir Stewart, tearing off another bite of bread. It bumped up against Isabella’s closed mouth, whose focus had shifted to the men’s conversation. After a few insistent taps against her lips, though, she opened up and accepted the food. “But it’s too dangerous I’m afraid.”

“Dangerous . . .?” scoffed Lord d’Carrick. “I assure you, my men . . .”

“I do not doubt your men’s competence, sir, nor their loyalty. But you underestimate the Black Queen’s powers. Sorcery and so on. You must have heard?”

“Rumors, surely . . .”

“I might have thought so too, My Lord. But she confessed all to the Tribunal of Heresies. I have the documents here . . .”

Sir Stewart set down the loaf of bread on top of the cage and picked up a roll of parchment. He unfurled it and handed it to his guest.

“Scandalous stuff. Fucked nearly every man at court. Satanic orgies with her serving girls. Tried to seduce her own father, apparently. But you’ll have to skip down towards the end for the truly titillating bits. Tasted the seed of the Devil himself, she says. Her and her mother both, on many occasions. It’s the source of the Aardmore women’s black magic, Satan’s gift for willingly yielding their bodies for his depraved pleasures. And those of his foul minions, whenever he chooses to favor one with the use of his finest whores.”

Lord d’Carrick blanched as he skimmed across the long list of admissions. Isabella doubted that he actually believed any of the ludicrous charges, any more than Sir Stewart did. But the signed confession had a momentum of its own. It would make it that much more dangerous for any would-be allies to defend or protect her. And it would be used to justify whatever sentence her enemies wished to pass upon her. d’Carrick stared hard at the line where Isabella had been forced to scrawl her assent and at the signatures of the witnesses who affirmed the veracity of the confession. Eventually, he rolled the parchment back up, looking down at the caged queen with a solemn expression full of impotent pity.

“Most shocking . . .” he muttered.

“Indeed,” agreed Sir Stewart, “So as you can see, the circumstances of the Black Lady’s confinement are strict but warranted. Who knows what witchcraft she might manage if we let her run loose, conjuring spirits and gathering reagents and whatnot? Summoning up one of her demonic paramours to her aid? No no, I’m afraid Lady Isabella will not be able to attend your banquet. She sends her regrets.”

Sir Stewart rapped his fist sharply against the top of Isabella’s cage for emphasis before pivoting back towards the entrance of the tent.

“But speaking of banquets, the evening grows late. Shall we ride, My Lord?”

The nobleman gave a sad silent nod before bowing respectfully towards Isabella.

“You have my prayers, My Lady.”

He turned and followed the knight out of the tent. Sir Stewart’s chatter resumed as the two men walked towards their horses.

“ . . . the bars are coated with holy water I’m told. And the frame is peachwood or some such. All quite resistant to enchantment. My scribe, Brother Joseph, supervised the particulars . . .”

Isabella listened as the voice faded, mingling with the other sounds of camp until it became indistinct. She shut her eyes and curled up on the floor of the cage. She tried to muster prayers of her own, but the words eluded her.

Sir Stewart did not return to his tent that night, having no doubt found more comfortable sleeping arrangements in Lord d’Carrick’s keep. When daybreak came, it was not the White Knight but his page who threw open the flaps of the canvas pavilion, followed by several soldiers from his regiment. Wearily, with frequent breaks to crack stiff joints and muscles, they set about dismantling the tent and gathering their commander’s things, his caged noblewoman included.

Isabella pretended to remain asleep, curled up amid her straw bedding, as the tent roof gave way to a pinkish dawn sky, the sounds and smells of camp suddenly washing over her unimpeded, smoke from breakfast fires and the shouts and clatter of men preparing for the day’s march.

She tried to think back to the last time she had passed through East Dentshire. The Vale couldn’t possibly be more than three or four hours’ ride from the capital, though the White Knight’s ponderous wagon train would obviously take longer to arrive. Even at this slower pace, however, their journey was almost certainly coming to an end. Isabella had no idea what could possibly await her thereafter, and her stomach knotted with the amorphous dread of it.

Sir Stewart’s troops were better disciplined than the pair of White peasant conscripts who had assaulted her in the woods. Aside from the lecherous stares and an occasional crude joke, they tended their prisoner with relative professionalism. Her crate had been loaded onto its wagon by the same four soldiers every morning since their journey began, and the men by now had their system down. Each knew his corner, and with no more than a gruff “hup hup hup” by way of coordination, they hefted the queen’s cage into the air and hauled it across the camp to its waiting undercarriage.

The jostling cut short Isabella’s stubborn feigned slumber. As the cage floor beneath her rocked unsteadily, she slid against the bars, rolling partly onto her back with a tinkling of chains. Before she could right herself, her enclosure was dropped suddenly into place, causing her stomach to lurch with the momentary sensation of freefall before the impact knocked her skull and the floor against one another with a resounding pop.

Isabella groaned and sat up. All around her, the camp was being struck: saddlebags packed, fires doused, horses mounted. The wagon carrying her mobile jail cell had already been hitched, and someone was already taking the reins of the speckled brown mare that would pull her down the uneven stone road that led to the capital.

As the driver whistled and the wheels beneath her creaked, Isabella grasped the bars of her cage and pulled her face between them until the iron squeezed against her cheekbones and temples, wondering if this would be the last sunrise she would see.

Queen Captured – Act II: Bishop (scene iv)

fobq_cover2

Fifth Chapter of W.H. Collins’s dark erotic fantasy. All fourteen chapters are now available from Amazon under the title The Fall of the Black Queen.

Note that this story is intended for mature audiences only and contains extremely graphic depictions of material that many audiences will find disturbing, including spanking and forced nudity. Nothing herein is intended to glorify or condone the horrific experiences which the protagonist endures, and the reader is strictly instructed not to take any prurient interest in this tale of medieval violence and sexual exploitation.

The next morning the Bishop returned. Sister Agnes awoke Isabella from a dreamless stupor with a splash of cold water. She had with her a bucket and a sponge and proceeded to wash down her captive before unshackling her. If she noticed the dried semen on the Queen’s legs or anything else amiss, she said nothing.

Too exhausted and dispirited to resist, Isabella allowed herself to be dragged to her feet and led over to the wall, where another set of shackles closed around her wrists and held her standing, back flat against the stonework, with arms outstretched. With something that might have been mistaken for tenderness, Sister Agnes unhooked the leather strap that held the wooden rod in place between Isabella’s teeth. The bit was removed, and she flexed her stiff and aching jaw.

The old nun pressed a ladle to Isabella’s lips. The water had come from the same bucket that had been used in her perfunctory sponge bath, but the Queen was in no position to argue hygiene. Her throat raw and dry, she greedily slurped at the liquid, her heart sinking when the ladle was tossed back into the bucket without the offer of further respite.

Sister Agnes stepped aside. The Bishop approached. He looked Isabella up and down while running a palm contemplatively across his bald head.

“Good morning, Lady Isabella. Are you ready to confess your sins?”

Isabella opened and closed her mouth experimentally, unsure, between the soreness of her jaw and her dehydration, if she would be capable of producing sounds. Her head was cloudy, her vision blurry. She would have rubbed her eyes if she could. Instead, she blinked hard, jerking her head to the side to shake off the haze, her black hair, still surprisingly bouncy and lustrous despite her ordeal, whipping down across half her face.

She looked up, and her one uncovered eye fell upon the two guards, standing at attention behind the Bishop. Her muscles clenched in anger, and she swallowed hard, her rising fury seeming to somehow lubricate her parched throat.

“Your men . . .” she croaked, “. . . they came to me in the night . . . like beasts . . . used me . . .”

“The witch lies!” protested Brother Duncan. At the same time, Sister Agnes announced her view of the accusation with dismissive snort, full of derision and disappointment. But the Bishop raised his hand to silence them both.

“Once again, my child, you mistake this for a conversation. The only words that can save you are ones of repentance. I ask you again: are you ready to confess your sins before God?”

“God . . .” Isabella hissed bitterly, dropping her eyes to the floor in despair, “God has forsaken this place.”

The Bishop shook his head in a show of disappointment. He turned and plucked a metal object from a nearby workbench, an elongated, pear-shaped device of polished bronze. Holding it up before the chained queen, he tested a knob at its base. As he twisted, the head of the tool slowly flared, bursting into three pieces and yawning like the mouth of some unnatural creature.

“Very well,” said the Bishop. “The interrogation continues.”

The pattern continued for days. How many days, Isabella could not be certain, for the same mental defenses that allowed her to endure what was being done to her seemed to block her from counting how many times it happened.

By day, she was tortured. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes for ten. Sometimes in one long session, sometimes in shifts. Sometimes she was hounded for a confession, sometimes the Bishop and his assistants went about their work in silence. All according to her captors’ whims.

By night, the guards would come. It was just Duncan and Theodore at first, but then, growing bolder perhaps, they began to bring others, men that Isabella did not recognize, comrades from other details presumably. One night, they were accompanied by a tonsured monk, who wasted no time eagerly hiking up his habit to mount the bound noblewoman. On more than one occasion, Isabella saw coins exchanged between Brother Duncan and the visitors.

Somehow, however many days she had been locked in the tower, she remained intact. Physically intact, at any rate. She had been in peak health when she had been taken at Malburgh, and her body was remarkably resilient in the face of her tribulations. Her mind had its own battles to fight.

The torments devised for her were varied and endless. One day, she had been forced to sit for hours straddling a narrow wooden beam, set at a height just inches above where she could comfortably stand, its edges digging into her crotch whenever her muscles would no longer permit her to remain on tip toes.

Another cruel morning had seen her nipples placed into tiny vices which were closed crank by crank around the tender flesh.

She had been strapped to a table as the bottoms of her feet were beaten with a birch cane. Wet cloth had been pressed to her face to simulate the sensation of drowning. Hot wax had been dripped across every inch of her skin and into every crevice of her body. A procession of foreign objects had been shoved into her asshole, sometimes left there to protrude from her body like a flag planted deep in newly-conquered earth.

These were painful, agonizing ordeals, without question. Degrading, yes, beyond all imagining. But, based on what Isabella had knew of the interrogation techniques employed by the Tribunal of Heresies, the tortures the Bishop had selected for her seemed calculated not to inflict permanent injury, to leave no lasting scars or, indeed, marks of any kind. For a while, through the grim haze of her pain and humiliation and despair, this realization was some small hope. The Bishop needed her alive, in one piece and largely unblemished. Whatever his pronouncements about church prerogative, he must at some point still intend to turn her over to Queen Joan and her feeble White King.

Yet the unremitting nature of her torture and captivity took its toll. Though her bones remained unbroken, the cumulative trauma of such ceaseless pain and debasement was steadily breaking down her spirit. The diurnal rhythms of her existence were divided between the Bishop’s whip and his servants’ cocks, and the helplessness of her situation was wearing her down. She was losing her mind and with it her sense of self. Lady Isabella might remain bodily whole, but the Black Queen was dying.

One night, many days, weeks perhaps, after her confinement began, she lay face down in the darkness. Unusually, she had not been chained to the floor at the end of the day. Instead, she had been left strapped to the apparatus that had been the site of the day’s torture.

It was a whipping bench, and Isabella knelt on a raised plank with her legs spread at shoulder width, her thighs secured against the body of the apparatus with broad leather belts. She was bent forward over an elevated portion of the bench, the weight of her upper body resting on her stomach, her breasts hanging loose over the front. More leather bands wrapped around her elbows and wrists, tying her arms fast to the slanted legs of the bench. Her head dangled freely and would have been shrouded by the curtain of her black hair had Sister Agnes not gathered it up into a neat bun that bobbled atop her skull.

Whether it had been oversight or conscious disregard that had left her there, part of Isabella still had sufficient sense of agency to contemplate turning this carelessness to her advantage. She began to wriggle.

Very quickly, she despaired. The buckles around her arms and legs might not have the durability of the heavy iron chains that were her usual bedtime accommodations, but they would suffice to hold her. She had neither the strength nor the leverage to break or twist out of tight leather straps. Even if she could, how did she expect to get herself out of the tower, naked and alone and surrounded by the Bishop’s men and other loyalists of the White regime?

Somehow, even in her uncomfortable position, sleep eventually overcame the exhausted Isabella. At the creak of the chamber door, however, she immediately woke, her heart already racing in a learned fear response. She lifted her head but could not crane her neck around sufficiently to see the door. She listened, muscles tensing, as a single set of footsteps approached from behind her at a steady, unhurried pace. Eerie shadows arose from the darkness as the flickering glow of candlelight spilled across the chamber and then grew closer.

“Mmmmmpph . .  uuuuhhh.” Isabella mumbled into her bit, hoping pathetically to elicit some response that would at least break the tension and horrible anticipation.

The intruder’s footsteps stopped behind her. Isabella held her breath. Was it Duncan? Or Theodore? Or had they sold her off to some third person for tonight? She tucked her chin but could barely see her knees past the obstruction of her pendulous breasts, let alone make out the identity of the figure of looming over her upraised bottom.

To her surprise, Isabella heard the sound of soft, ritualistic murmuring. Someone was praying. The words came fast and only half-vocalized, such that the fettered queen could only catch snippets here and there.

“ . . . that the Lord may forgive my unclean thoughts . . . this temptress sent by the devil to test men’s weakness . . . and afterwards to purify myself in whatever manner Thou command . . . that Thy will be done . . .”

The breathy mutterings were so indistinct that it took Isabella a moment to recognize that it was the Bishop himself standing behind her. No sooner had she made this realization than she felt leather-gloved hands on her buttocks, a palm pressed flat against each cheek as if sizing up her backside. Isabella squirmed. Tied down, draped over this bench, she could not have felt more exposed, with her bottom sticking up in the air above her stooped torso and her legs parted just enough to offer up both her front and rear orifices for display.

From the leisurely, silent way that the Bishop ran his hands over her bottom, squeezing her cheeks gently together and pulling them apart as if evaluating the ripeness of a large piece of fruit, he seemed to be taking in with relish the spectacle of the Queen’s exhibited parts.

One hand brushed down between her legs and ran slowly across the folds of her vagina and then up the valley floor between the mounds of her ass. The Bishop then released her bottom, and Isabella heard a soft pop that sounded like a stopper being removed from a jar. A moment later, she lurched forward in surprise as two fingers, ungloved but covered in something cold and slippery, jabbed against her anus without warning.

“Fffffmmmmmm! . . .” Isabella squealed, wiggling her bottom reflexively in a futile attempt to evade the Bishop’s touch, but the leather straps held her in place.

Helplessly, she stared down at the stone floor, feeling the invasive fingers circle round and round her asshole, smearing it thoroughly with lubricant. Isabella didn’t know what was in the slimy tincture, but she had grown familiar with the cold, oily feeling of having it rubbed on her and in her. It was the same concoction Sister Agnes used when preparing her to have one of her holes plugged by some new instrument of torture or humiliation, be it the Flemish Pear or the Beaded Confessor.

Sure enough, the unseen hands at her backside wasted no time in pushing their way inside her. First one slick finger burrowed into her ass, then another. Rhythmically, they slid in and out. Isabella moaned at the indignity.

The fingers molesting her bottom slowed and then withdrew. Isabella felt a fleeting sense of relief, but a moment later she wished the Bishop had been more thorough in applying the ointment. A burst of pain coursed through her as she felt her interrogator’s stiff and dismayingly thick penis press against her asshole and then roughly shove its way in.

In silence, save for Isabella’s muffled grunts of pain, the White Bishop fucked the Black Queen’s ass. The ordeal didn’t take long, and after a final stoic thrust, the Bishop wordlessly removed himself from Isabella’s aching hole. The Queen felt several globs of hot semen splatter against her right butt cheek. She choked back a sob while, behind her, the sadistic clergyman muttered another hurried prayer, presumably stuffing his wet cock back inside his holy vestments.

The footsteps and the candlelight receded, and the door creaked and closed. Isabella was left once more in the darkness, naked and bound, waiting for what new torments the dawn would bring, wondering wretchedly how much more abuse she could compartmentalize before the woman she had been was strangled and drowned.

The heavy chamber door and its visceral engravings of damnation swung slowly open again, its shrill creak once again triggering an immediate anxiety reflex in the captive queen. It seemed like only a moment ago the Bishop had left, but perhaps she had dropped out of consciousness at some point, through sleep or simply her mind shutting down to help dull the trauma.

Sister Agnes came first, walking across the chamber and into Isabella’s field of vision, carrying the bucket of water for her prisoner’s morning bath. Though she could not see them, Isabella knew that Brother Duncan and Brother Theodore would no doubt be taking their stations flanking the entryway, settling in to enjoy another session watching their master torment and humiliate the Old King’s fallen daughter.

Sister Agnes loosened the straps around Isabella’s arms and legs but did not release her from the whipping bench. Isabella gingerly adjusted her stiff appendages but moved slowly and deliberately lest the nun think she was trying to struggle or fight. The old woman circled around her, sponging down her body. As usual, she gave no indication that she noticed the remnants of the night’s visitations sticking in crusty splotches to the fettered woman’s bottom and thighs.

Once Isabella had been wiped down, her surfaces and crevices dutifully polished like a well-kept piece of furniture or machinery, Sister Agnes removed the bit from between her teeth and gave her a ladle of water, which Isabella slurped at gratefully while the nun held a hand beneath her chin to support her dangling head. Then came the creak of the door and the steady, methodical footsteps that could only by the Bishop’s.

Isabella cringed with each footfall. There was a rustle of objects at a nearby table, and she imagined the grim-faced churchman musing over the day’s favored tools. Eventually, a flourish of white linen swooped past her face, and Isabella lifted her head, straining upwards to meet the eyes of the figure looming above and before her.

When she saw his expression, though, as cold and imperious as always, not the slightest flicker acknowledging what he had done to her during the night, she found that she could not hold his gaze. She allowed her head to sag back to its resting place between her stooped shoulders. Eyes fixed on the Bishop’s boots, she waited.

“Lady Isabella of Aardmore, you know well the charges against you. By the mercy of Almighty God, you are given this day a further opportunity to confess your sins and repent your wickedness. Will you take His proffered succor? What say you?”

Isabella’s head swam. She could no longer remember her stratagem, what she was holding out for, her reasons for defiance. She tried to focus, but the sober, calculating parts of her mind kept being disrupted by crazy thoughts. Perhaps she was a witch after all. Perhaps if she admitted her witchcraft, they would burn her. Burn her, yes, and the flames would caress her, soothe her, take her away from all this.

She shook her head, trying to brush off the wild imaginings. She opened her mouth, wincing at the stiffness in her jaw from days of being muzzled.

“Aahh . . .” she began, addressing the Bishop’s shins before swallowing, running her tongue across the dry roof of her mouth and trying again. “I . . . I . . .”

What had she been about to say? She didn’t know how to continue. All she could think about was leaving this awful tower, moving freely again, seeing the sun again. She moistened her lips once more as best she could. As she did so, her eyes were drawn to the braided cords that dangled beside the Bishop’s boot heel.

There were three of them, tightly woven and each ending in thick, uneven knots. She followed the cords up past the hem of the Bishop’s robes, all the way to where they came together, snaking out from an ivory handle clutched firmly in the Bishop’s gloved fist. Isabella hadn’t seen this particular flail before, but she’d learned enough of the varying qualities of such instruments during her prolonged interrogation to recognize pain when she saw it.

“I . . .” she stammered, as much to the flail as to the Bishop, “I . . .”

“Speak,” grumbled the Bishop impatiently.

But Isabella found she couldn’t bring her tongue under her command. She stared into the Bishop’s knees, mouth agape, breathing heavily.

“Her soul gasps for reconciliation with God, Your Purity and Grace,” Sister Agnes announced. “But the Devil stifles her. You must drive him out.”

“Sister Agnes speaks true,” replied the Bishop. “I can see you are close. We will help you break free of the final chains binding you to sin. Submit to God, Lady Isabella. You will see. Submission is conquest. Set down your defiance, your pride. Surrender yourself fully and be free. Sister, ready the cloth.”

The Bishop snapped his flail, which cracked the air with a horrifying pop. His boots marched past Isabella and out of her field of vision.

“No . . . Wait . . .” she cried, her voice quavering wildly in volume and pitch. “Wait no . . .”

She strained her head up to find Sister Agnes coming towards her fast, a dripping wet cloth in her hand.

“No . . . I . . . I . . . Mmmmmmmppphh”

The nun smashed the wet cloth into Isabella’s face and wrapped it around her head, pulling it taut with both hands clenched tight against the back of the noblewoman’s neck. Isabella sucked desperately against the damp fabric. What little air made it through was worse than none at all. She was suffocating slowly, a faithful recreation of the experience of drowning. She struggled frantically against her restraints, shaking the bench.

Suddenly, even through the deadening barrier of the cloth wrapped round her head, she heard the flail crack. A white hot line of pain erupted across her buttocks. She screamed, the sound largely absorbed by the wet fabric plastered across her mouth and nose.

Having wasted precious breath on her wail of agony, her lungs burned. She bucked hard. The leather straps around her arms and legs dug into her skin, but it barely registered. Then, there was another loud crack from behind her and the pain across her backside was overwhelming. She screamed again, but the reaction was weaker this time. Her struggles slowed. She felt like she was about to black out.

Just as she was readying herself to embrace unconsciousness, the cloth was whipped off her face. Isabella gasped and gasped. The streaks where the lash had fallen across her upturned ass sizzled, bringing tears to her eyes. Her body shuddered with a series of half-coughs, half-sobs. The Bishop stepped in front of her and slapped the side of her face to get her attention.

“Confess, Lady Isabella. Confess and taste God’s mercy.”

“I . . .” Isabella sputtered, not sure what she was saying. “I . . . Yes, I confess . . . I . . . Mercy . . . Please . . . no more . . . I surrender submit confess . . . I confess . . .”

“My heart gladdens,” said the Bishop in a cold, even tone. “God will grant you the mercy you seek, My Child. Sister, ink and parchment. Prepare to transcribe the declaration. What is it you confess, Lady Isabella?”

“All . . .” Isabella panted as Sister Agnes dragged a stool up beside the whipping bench and smoothed a piece of parchment, “I confess it all . . . Everything . . . Just no more . . .”

The Bishop cocked a skeptical eyebrow towards his assistant.

“I warn you that the Tribunal does not tolerate insincerity, My Child. Only open repentance, full and frank and genuine, can bring forgiveness. You must detail your sins.”

Isabella tried to remember the full litany of ridiculous charges that had been brought against her, searching for something to offer up. It was a list that had been repeatedly thrown at her, smeared across her, over the course of her torture and was by now etched firmly into her memory. It should have been easy for her to simply regurgitate the demeaning accusations, but at the moment Isabella wasn’t thinking straight.

When she tried to summon one of the disgraceful lies about her, to repeat and confirm the vile slander, she fumbled for the phrasing. Her words failed her. She could do nothing but gape dumbly at the Bishop’s knees. Was she too traumatized to form sentences? Or was there yet some defiant part of her holding her back?

“Her mendacity is palpable, Your Purity and Grace,” spat Sister Agnes in disgust, setting down her parchment, “She will not repent until her sins are dragged from her, bit by bit.”

The Bishop sighed and gave the nun a nod. With astonishing deftness for a woman her age, Sister Agnes snatched up the cloth from where she had deposited it in the water bucket and turned towards Isabella.

“No! . . . Wait! . . .” cried Isabella hoarsely. “I confess! . . . I confess!”

But it was too late. The wet cloth was wrapped around her face, stifling her pleas. Once more, Isabella felt herself suffocating, drowning. And then came the crack of the flail across her exposed bottom. Once. Twice. And just when she thought she might pass out from the pain and lack of air, the shroud was abruptly removed.

“Confess,” barked the Bishop, circling back in front of her and raising his flail threateningly. “Set forth your sins.”

“I . . . buuuuh . . b-books!” Isabella sputtered. “B-books of . . . of spells and potions! I . . . aaah . . . I had them! T-t-to practice witchcraft! I confess! I made the potions . . . the potions from the books! Dark ones! And spells! Dark spells! I cast them all! I . . . I confess! . . . Mercy . . .”

At a nod from the Bishop, Sister Agnes set down her cloth and picked up the parchment. Isabella stared down at the floor to hide the tears that had welled up in her eyes. Giving the braided cords of his instrument and satisfied flick, the Bishop paced before her.

“And to what ends did you employ these dark arts?” he prompted.

“To g-g-gain power at court? . . .” Isabella stammered, trying to recall the details of the accusations. “I . . . cast spells on men of influence . . . forced them to . . . forced them to lay with me . . .”

“And how many men did you fuck in this way?”

Isabella answered with a sob of humiliation before mustering control of her voice and continuing.

“Scores of men . . .” she answered, her voice quavering, “I . . . fuh . . . fucked countless men using my witchcraft . . . my . . . my father’s closest advisors . . . important barons . . . ambassadors from abroad . . . archbishops of the Church. . . I fucked them all. I confess!”

“Blasphemy . . .” whispered Sister Agnes to herself as she transcribed Isabella’s admissions.

Isabella hung her head in silence, hoping that she had given them enough for now, but the Bishop paced behind her and, when further confessions were not forthcoming, delivered a slap with his flail. It was a comparatively light blow, designed to grab her attention, but it still delivered a painful shock to her already-sore buttocks. Isabella yelped.

“Continue,” commanded the Bishop.

“I . . . my servingwomen! I made them . . . made them t-touch one another. I confess it! I made them . . . perform pagan rites! We would . . . would kiss and lick one another’s bodies and achieve unnatural ecstasies in mockery of God . . . I made them . . . Daily I made them pleasure me . . . their heads between my legs . . . caressing my breasts day and night . . . I confess!”

“Continue,” repeated the Bishop, prompting Isabella with another slap of the flail across her bottom.

“Aaaaaaah! . . . I . . . My mother and I . . . we worshipped the Devil . . . She initiated me among his followers . . . taught me witchcraft . . . She watched me . . . watched me pledge myself . . .” At this point, Isabella choked up, barely able to get the words out. “. . . g-give myself to the Devil. . . before my mother and . . . and all our . . . our f-fellow witches and . . . and . . .”

Isabella trailed off, and the Bishop hit her again.

“This ritual. What did it involve?”

“A d-demon! . . . A huge demon with claws and the face of a goat! . . . And I . . . I knelt before him . . . And I wrapped my mouth around his . . . his penis . . . And I pleasured him . . . for hours . . . for hours and hours . . . running my lips up and down its giant . . . giant p-penis . . And then . . . and then . . . I let it fuck me . . . I let the demon fuck me . . .”

“And you enjoyed these depraved, unholy acts?” demanded the Bishop.

“Yes!” Isabella sobbed. “I . . . I loved it . . . I confess . . . I confess it all! I’ve lain with men and women and animals and demons! I practice witchcraft and sorcery! I murdered my father! My mother . . . my mother is Satan’s whore! I confess!”

The Bishop continued to press her, making her repeat certain admissions and delve into greater, often graphic, detail for others. But eventually he seemed satisfied. Isabella was released from the whipping bench, and she was given a fresh penitent’s cassock before being shackled to the wall. As before, the vestments were roughly woven and ill-fitting, but after uncounted days lying naked in the tower, they felt positively dignified.

Her mouth was left ungagged. Yet the Queen remained passive and silent while her leather bindings were being loosened, while the simple brown frock was being fetched and pulled down over her head, while the iron cuffs closed around her wrists. She had no wish to provoke any renewed aggression from her captors. Besides, what was there to say? They left her hanging there, chained to the wall, the humiliation of her utter submission pulling down upon her like a deadweight.

Later, she was brought food and water. It was delivered by young Sister Geneveive, whom Isabella had not seen since the ordeal in the bathhouse, a disgrace that now seemed a world away. The Queen could see the change in herself reflected in the youthful nun’s shocked reaction, the look of fascination that could not decide between delight and horror. The gruel, lifted to Isabella’s lips spoonful by spoonful, tasted thicker than the stuff she’d been given to sustain her during her interrogation; the water, less corrupted.

Eventually, Sister Agnes returned. She had with her the transcript of the confession. Isabella was temporarily unchained, a quill thrust into her hand. Staring down at the document with bleary, unfocused eyes, she noted that it already bore the signatures of the Bishop, Sister Agnes, Brother Duncan and Brother Theodore, attesting as witnesses to the accuracy of the shameful declaration she’d been forced to give. Otherwise, she could not bear to read it. Swallowing her feelings of debasement, she swiftly made her mark at the bottom of the page.

After that, she was alone again, hanging there in the dark chamber, left to contemplate her fate. She had no illusions about the sort of “mercy” she could expect. Her understanding of the legal procedures followed by the Tribunal of Heresies was spotty, but she knew that confessions of the magnitude that she had just signed only led one place. She only hoped that she would have the chance to see the daylight sky again before the flames consumed her flesh.

A great commotion from the antechamber suddenly caused Isabella to lift her head and set aside some of her morbid reflections. Just outside the entrance to the interrogation room, there was shouting and then what sounded like the clanging of steel. Something heavy was thrown against the tall carved doors, and they shook. More shouting. Cries of pain.

Finally, the ruckus stopped. Then, after a momentary silence, the familiar sound of keys rattling in the chamber door, followed by the terrible creak that had awoken Isabella to so many nights and days of horror. When the door had opened a crack, it stopped. A figure stood motionless in the narrow opening. Though backlit, Isabella knew from his build that it was Brother Duncan, leaning forward with his mail-clad shoulder against the door frame, seemingly frozen at the room’s threshold.

Torchlight from the wall sconces fell upon the White Guardsman’s face, and as Isabella’s eyes adjusted she could make out his features. His eyes were wide in consternation, his lips parted in a comical little “o.” Suddenly, his shoulder began to slide down the doorway and he collapsed onto his stomach like a rag doll, his chin slamming down hard against the stone floor. From behind the door, a heavy boot appeared and clamped its heel down upon the limp Duncan’s head as if to steady it. Then, from the same direction, a sword blade flashed into view, glinting against the torchlight as it jabbed straight downward and into Brother Duncan’s neck.

Fluid splurted upwards like a wine skin squeezed too forcefully. Duncan emitted a pathetic gurgle that slowed and then faded away. Meanwhile, his killer pulled the sword free and stepped over the body. It was a soldier, dressed in the uniform of the Whites. A second soldier followed him, carefully avoiding the puddle of blood pooling around Duncan’s neck as he entered the interrogation chamber.

When they saw Isabella chained to the wall, both men stopped. The one who had finished off Brother Duncan sheathed his sword and approached her slowly, looking her up and down in apparent uncertainty and puzzlement.

“Is that . . .” he asked.

His comrade grunted in affirmation and called out towards the antechamber.

“She’s here!”

The first soldier brought a torch closer to better illuminate the shackled queen, barefoot and clad in coarse brown penitent’s garb. As he did so, they were joined by two more men. The first was the Bishop, who stepped over the crumpled body of his slaughtered goon with a look of loathing and trepidation. At his shoulder, nudging the cowed clergyman forward, swaggered a figure whose armor was polished to such a dazzling sheen that Isabella had to momentarily close her eyes against the reflected glare.

When she opened them, the shiny newcomer had left the Bishop glowering off to the side and was pacing casually in front of Isabella, regarding the captured queen with a smirk that seemed to animate his entire body. Contemplatively, he ran his fingers across the length of his long, curling moustache, the same light brown color and just as carefully groomed as the mane of hair of that fell in a neat arc around his shoulders. Isabella’s eyes narrowed and her heartbeat quickened.

“Well . . . Well well well . . .” hummed the dapper warrior.

“Sir Stewart,” hissed the Queen.

Sir Stewart, the White Knight himself, sauntered closer, eyeing Isabella’s ill-fitting cassock and uncovered calves with smug, pursed lips. He then gave her an elaborate courtly bow.

“Your Majesty . . .”

Queen Captured – Act II: Bishop (scene iii)

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Fourth Chapter of W.H. Collins’s dark erotic fantasy. All fourteen chapters are now available from Amazon under the title The Fall of the Black Queen.

Note that this story is intended for mature audiences only and contains extremely graphic depictions of material that many audiences will find disturbing, including spanking and forced nudity. Nothing herein is intended to glorify or condone the horrific experiences which the protagonist endures, and the reader is strictly instructed not to take any prurient interest in this tale of medieval violence and sexual exploitation.

“My William.”

He was bare-chested. Smooth skin, boyish even in its lack of hair or blemishes. But then he was four years her junior, she had to remember. Not far removed from boyhood, even now, so long after that first night in the garden. That night that seemed ages ago, a scene from another time in history, another story, another genre.

But Sir William Cantor, her William, was nonetheless a man, thought the Black Queen as she lightly traced the cleft between his sweat-glistened pectoral muscles with the nail of her pinky. Definitively a man. She had seen to that.

“My William. My William. My William.”

She sounded just like her empty-headed handmaidens, the ones that hyperventilated whenever some foppish courtier smiled in their direction. But it felt good to say his name, to reaffirm that he was hers, the one thing she had that was not held in trust for the greater good of the Kingdom, the one thing that was hers alone. She ran her fingers through his shoulder-length blonde hair, pulling taut his curls to where they met the meadow, interweaving with the grass in lustrous rivers.

He let out a sigh, a sigh that vibrated across his ribcage in a growling baritone. A manly sigh. Sprawled out upon his verdant pastoral mattress, he opened one eye to squint up at her, as if slyly stealing an illicit glance. He met her pale green, gold-flecked eyes one at a time. As he did so, his gaze crossed over the sparse constellation of light freckles that dotted the bridge of her nose and spilled tentatively onto her cheeks, the freckles that had always made her slightly self-conscious but which Sir William claimed to find irresistible.

He reached up and slipped his hand snugly between her arm and torso, near the spot where her breast might have rested if her corset had not lifted it up and away, his grip gentle but firm. His gaze floated down her face and drifted in zig zags across her upper body, taking her in. He smiled that smile of his.

Queen Isabella looked down herself, and she could not help but share his admiration. She was wearing her favorite riding top. Black, of course, with pleated folds of silk that followed her curves and a collar that swooped elegantly downward, showing her neck and collarbones to fine effect.

Suddenly, William began to laugh. Ordinarily, the sound of her lover’s carefree laughter was a source of joy to Isabella. His easy, playful manner, counterpoint to her own sober outlook on the world, was part of the young knight’s charm. Now, though, there was a tone of mockery that set Isabella on edge. What was he laughing at?

It was then that Isabella realized that she had forgotten her riding trousers. Glancing downward again—how had she not noticed before?—she saw that the fashionable outfit of which she’d been so proud a moment before stopped suddenly at her hips. Below, the soft grass of the meadow met bare skin. She had on her boots, the crisp black leather hugging her calves all the way to the sharp cuff laced just below her knee. But otherwise she was naked from the waist down.

Sir William’s laughter grew louder as the Queen looked down at herself dumbfounded.

“William! It’s not funny! What have you done with my trousers?”

Her voice echoed in her head, as if it was coming from someone else. The meadow seemed to spin, and for a moment it was as if she was looking down at herself and Sir William from above. She could see the comical figure she cut, dressed in her finest riding clothes but for this one glaring patch of nudity.

Had she ridden her horse like this? She felt suddenly she could remember doing so, the feeling of her mount’s hair-covered muscles between her thighs as she trotted bareback through the countryside. She squirmed in embarrassment and also a strange sense of excitement, acutely conscious, as she had not been before, of the hundreds of tiny blades of grass tickling and caressing the most sensitive parts of her body.

“Trousers are not appropriate attire for a lady.” William’s voice sounded strange. It was not his voice. It was someone else’s. “Don’t you remember? Your father told you so.”

That wasn’t true! Others had disapproved of her, scoffed or engaged in scandalized gossip. But her father had understood that you can’t control a horse properly in a gown. It had been his own personal tailor who had crafted many of her wardrobe’s most practical-yet-feminine riding trousers.

“Be serious, William! Give them back to me this instant!”

“If you’ll not wear clothes befitting a proper young lady, you’ll wear nothing at all. Now, speak to me again in that tone and I will take you across my knee for a punishment you’ll not soon forget!”

The Queen looked down at her consort, taken entirely aback. But it wasn’t William lying there is the grass. It was the Old King, grey beard and all, gazing at her sternly. Isabella joggled her head in confusion. How had she mistaken her father for Sir William? Why was he lying here with her in this field?

She pulled back. Newly self-conscious, she placed her hand flat in front of her naked crotch. At the sensation of the smoothness against her palm, she noticed for the first time that she was cleanly shaved. When had she done that? No sooner had this mystery confronted her than she noticed the pale pink markings that radiated out from her cunt and criss-crossed down her thighs. Abruptly, she was aware of a soreness throbbing across her bare bottom.

“Don’t you try to cover yourself in front of me!”

Suddenly her father was looming over her. His Highness the indomitable Grey Lion, eyes flinty with fierce authority. Isabella froze speechless, cowed into a state of childlike awe, as the Old King grabbed her wrist and wrenched it away.

“Don’t play at modesty now, you little tramp! I know! I know all about you and that Cantor rogue! How dare you bring disgrace upon your royal name with your wantonness!”

Her father grabbed her other wrist and pushed her down onto her back. Roughly pinning her hands against the grass above her head, he climbed on top of her. Queen Isabella struggled and struggled but found she could not move.

The Old King opened his mouth. Isabella looked away with a whimper, expecting another torrent of uncharacteristic cruelty, but instead the grey-bearded king let out a strange noise that Isabella at first took for some sort of growl. Then the surreal vocalization rose in pitch until it became unmistakable as the creak of a door, a sustained whine that quickly hijacked all of Isabella’s senses.

All other sound disappeared. The feeling of the grass beneath her body vanished, replaced by cold hard flatness. Even the sunlight was extinguished, and she found herself abruptly surrounded by blackness. There was only the creak.

And then he was gone. One moment her father was straddling her, pouring paternal fury down upon her paralyzed body, the next she was alone. Yet, when she jerked upwards with a startled gasp, she found her wrists were still pinned to the floor, and she was yanked back down onto her back. The meadow was gone. Her riding boots. Her elegant top. Breathing heavily, she looked around her in disorientation, finding herself chained naked to the floor surrounded by darkness.

And it all came flooding back.

How long had she been asleep? It could not possibly have been long. It seemed she had lain awake for hours, tormented by despair and desperation. Indeed, it astonished her that she could slumber under these conditions, but the combination of her fatigue and the sensory deprivation of the lightless chamber must at some point have overwhelmed her.

It was then that she noticed the chamber was no longer quite lightless. The door was open, and reflections of candlelight flickered around the corner from the other room. As the Queen’s eyes adjusted, she saw two silhouettes slip through. Then that same creak that had woken her from her dream filled the room again, and the door slammed shut.

One of the figures held a candle outstretched, illuminating their path but not throwing sufficient light upon the figures themselves for the chained queen to make out who they were. As they came closer, though, first the white cloth of their uniforms and then their half-shadowed faces emerged from the darkness.

They stopped just short of her shackled body. The glow of the candle swooped downward, drifting appreciatively across the hills and valleys of her nudity, lingering with lecherous emphasis upon key regions. Guiding the candle on its voyeuristic tour was Duncan, the guard who’d held her fast against his own body in the abbey bathhouse while the nuns had stripped her naked, who’d watched with ill-disguised enjoyment as the women molested her, who’d been present as she’d been bound and flogged by the sadistic White Bishop.

Standing beside him, looking down at the captive queen with equal interest, was the guard the Bishop had called Theodore. He was slightly older than his comrade, his short-cropped black beard flecked in silver and interrupted on his right cheek by a light scar that ran all the way up to the bridge of his nose.

“I’ve misgivings, Brother,” Theodore whispered, not taking his eyes for a moment off the Queen’s candlelit form, his tone almost reverent. “Should we be here?”

“What choice do we have, Brother?” Duncan whispered back. “Simple Christian men like we, we were not made to withstand sorceries conjured by the Black Witch herself. You felt her pull did you not?”

“Aye, Brother. Her devilry’s been preying on me since I first laid eyes on her. Wearing at my fortitude. I felt her unholy presence with me, even as I knew her mortal body to be tied down safe in the tower. She is a powerful sorceress to be sure.”

“Then it’s just as I told you. We must do as we must. Is not the hair of the dog the swiftest cure for a corrupted bite? Surely it is no sin to free oneself of demonic influence.”

Isabella bit down hard on the cloth-wrapped rod between her teeth, letting out a gurgling, muffled cry of protest and lament. The candlelight fell upon her face, and she flinched against the sudden brightness. The two men looked down on her in silence for a moment longer before Duncan finally squatted down and reached over her to place the candle on the floor, equidistant between her torso and her raised elbow. When he rose, he and his companion disappeared into shadows.

“You first, Brother,” came Duncan’s voice from beyond the small pool of light in which the Queen lay fettered.

Isabella raised her head to see shadow feet stepping over the chains that bound her ankles. They stopped between her spread legs. She could hear heavy breathing and then the rustles and clinks of armor being adjusted, buckles being unbuckled, ringmail being unhooked. Something heavy was thrown to the floor nearby.

“Nuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh! . . .” she wailed through her gag and began to yank with futile vigor against her manacles, trying desperately to close her splayed legs or lash out with her pinioned hands.

As the Queen furiously rattled her chains, wriggling this way and that in short impotent bursts like a beetle caught in a spider’s web, Brother Theodore knelt down between her legs. His scarred, bearded face came into the light as it leaned down to hover with breathless anticipation just above the smooth pink furrows of her forcibly spread pussy.

He reached out to touch it. Isabella shivered and groaned in shame as he lightly brushed, then fondled, then groped the smooth expanse of her loins before abruptly plunging his thumb up inside her, working it deeper and deeper in exploratory circuits. To her dismay, she realized that her disturbing sexual dream had left her somewhat moist. But before she could take in this horrifying realization, the guard removed his invasive digit and leaned in closer. Gripping her open thighs for balance, he pressed his face between her legs and began to lick her.

“Nuuh . . . huh . . . nnnnrrrg!” Isabella grunted, her hips and lower abdomen floundering desperately to escape as the guard’s tongue lapped up and down in long wet strides.

Clutching the Queen’s thighs tighter, Brother Theodore pulled her towards his eager mouth, lifting her ass fully from the floor while he slurped at her womanhood from top to bottom. Her back arched, and her wrists strained their shackles, pulling the chains taut. Shamefully, waves of sexual release began to build within her.

Abruptly, the guard dropped her lower half back onto the stone floor. And then he was on top of her. She felt the head of his penis nudge at her wet opening before sliding into her with a surprising lack of resistance.@ @Brother Theodore thrust into her, each brutish shove of his cock punctuated by a wheezy grunt. At first he hovered above her, propping himself partially upright with one hand on the stone floor and one hand clutching fast to her hip, watching her breasts rock side to side as she struggled against his assault. As his thrusts increased in speed and intensity, though, he let more and more of his weight fall against her body until he was laying on top of her, his beard brushing against the metal fasteners that held her bit in place while, down below, the muscles of his groin and buttocks took on the job of grinding his cock into the captive queen.

Finally, mercifully, he finished. He let out a final raspy sigh that fell hot and moist against the side of Isabella’s face, and his pelvis shuddered and then fell still. He lay on top of her for a moment longer, breathing heavily. Isabella moaned despondently through her gag and gave one of her shackles a feeble tug but otherwise lay motionless beneath the Bishop’s scarred servant.

Eventually, he lifted himself up, his penis sliding out of her. He knelt in the space between her forcibly spread legs while he adjusted his uniform. Before standing, he produced a kerchief and leaned over to wipe away some of the sweat and semen from around the Queen’s hairless cunt, as if politely cleaning off a piece of shared equipment  for the next person who might need to make use of it.

“I believe it worked,” he panted as he stood. “I can feel the witch’s hold on me lessened. She is yours now, Brother.”

Leaving Isabella no time for respite or recovery, Brother Duncan was suddenly on top of her, his cock already out, hard and searching for her hole. Finding his target, the brawny guard inserted himself forcefully into the chained noblewoman’s already lubricated pussy.

Duncan grabbed her breasts with both hands and squeezed, shoving them roughly together and upwards towards her face. He slammed into her. Isabella’s chains jangled in tempo with the violent thrusts.

The pounding grew faster and faster. Isabella felt a hand on her throat, just beneath her chin, forcefully turning her face upwards. The Queen opened her eyes to meet those of her assailant, looming above her so close that their noses almost touched. His nostrils were flaring rhythmically with his exertion, huffing for breath with a soft, determined hum. Eyes wild, face red, his expression was as much one of anger as pleasure. Gradually, fingers and thumb began to close around the Queen’s windpipe. After a few terrified gulps for air, Isabella found that she couldn’t breathe.

She thrashed hard, trying to shake the guard off her or at least loosen his grip on her throat, but Brother Duncan simply incorporated her struggles into his thrusts, seeming to derive pleasure from the increased liveliness of his victim. Moments later, with a vocal grunt he gave one final forceful shove into Isabella before releasing his grasp around her neck and pulling his slick cock out of her vagina in a single, disdainful motion.

He stood. As he meticulously refastened his belt, the two guards looked down on the pitiful figure who claimed to be their rightful sovereign and whose helpless body they had used for their pleasure. Sobs of shame burbled through the wooden bit between her teeth as their seed slowly oozed down her forcibly spread thighs.

“Sweet dreams, Your Highness,” said Brother Duncan, and he stooped down to grab the candle.

Queen Captured – Act II: Bishop (scene ii)

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Third Chapter of W.H. Collins’s dark erotic fantasy. All fourteen chapters are now available from Amazon under the title The Fall of the Black Queen.

Note that this story is intended for mature audiences only and contains extremely graphic depictions of material that many audiences will find disturbing, including spanking and forced nudity. Nothing herein is intended to glorify or condone the horrific experiences which the protagonist endures, and the reader is strictly instructed not to take any prurient interest in this tale of medieval violence and sexual exploitation.

A white leather glove, heavy and stiff, crackled as it balled itself into a fist and rapped thoughtfully against the chair’s ornate wooden arm.

The Evanshire bishopric was arguably the Kingdom’s richest, and that wealth was on display in this narrow antechamber. Gold crosses and other glittering, bejeweled icons hung from the walls. The large doors that loomed prominently across a far-corner alcove, marring the room’s otherwise rectangular symmetry, were made from exquisite sandalwood. Their richly lacquered surfaces were covered in intricate carvings which depicted, in graphic detail, what were presumably torments awaiting the unrepentant in the life hereafter.

The tower’s stone floor was buried beneath an unbroken expanse of lush carpet. The soft, forgiving weave oozed around Isabella’s bare feet, a tiny luxurious respite after their painful march through the Abbey, across the courtyard to the Bishop’s tower, and up flight after flight of stairs to this strange, pseudo-throneroom.

The Bishop of Evanshire looked down on her from his raised seat. In keeping with the chamber’s décor, his clothes were the height of finery, new and crafted from the finest material. Yet, for a churchman of his rank, there was also something stark and utilitarian about his dress. His miter was nowhere to be seen, his bald pate instead covered in a plain white cap. His robes were elegant and flowing, but, between the gaps in the embroidered, sleeveless outer layer, Isabella could make out the glint of chainmail. And his gloves, these were not gloves for paging through scripture or for breaking the Eucharist. These were gloves prepared for less delicate tasks.

This was the regalia of a warrior priest, and it fit the Bishop’s reputation of having personally participated in some of the White’s bloodiest engagements during the civil war. It was a fusion of fashions with which Isabella, herself an unlikely combatant, was more than familiar.

At the moment, of course, she had neither her armor nor the black gowns so cleverly tailored to accommodate it. She stood before the Bishop naked but for the roughspun brown vestment that bunched up awkwardly around her breasts and stopped just below her knees. Her hair was still wet and stringy from her humiliating bath in the bowels of the Abbey. His authority and her lack thereof could not have been more explicit if she’d been on her knees.

“On your knees before His Purity and Grace, Lady Isabella.”

The Queen turned her head slowly towards the voice beside her, and Sister Agnes’s stern, pinched face came into focus. The old nun had accompanied her into the chamber and stood beside her in the center of the room, as if presenting her to the enthroned bishop.

The White guardsman Duncan, for his part, had taken his place across from a similarly-uniformed compatriot, flanking the chamber’s entryway. As Isabella had strode past him in her cossack, head held consciously high and posture as regal as her shoeless gait would allow, she had caught him flashing a smarmy grin towards his comrade, and her stomach had knotted in fury.

Isabella looked back and forth between Sister Agnes and the Bishop. Trolwick regarded her silently, resting an elbow on his chair’s sturdy arm as he leaned back, flexing his gloved fingers. The Black Queen took a deep breath and gritted her teeth before lowering herself to the velvety, carpeted floor. She forced herself to move with an unhurried deliberateness, planting first one knee and then the other, smoothing her vestment and straightening her back before looking up at the Bishop, meeting his gaze squarely.

Isabella had not seen the White Bishop in years. During her childhood, he had been among her father’s closest allies and advisors and spent long stretches at court, particularly during the spring campaigning season. Shortly after the Old King’s reconciliation with Duke of Aardmore, the reconciliation that had brought Isabella back to the capital, the Bishop of Evanshire had fallen from the Gray Lion’s favor. Something to do with taxation of church estates was Isabella’s understanding.

Yet, she remembered those bushy white eyebrows, immaculately groomed, rising in spikey tufts like inverted icicles, capping his beady dark eyes and pointing towards the Bishop’s hairless skull. She remembered that rigid jaw, that look of quiet judgment. A hazy image of herself as a little girl in her nightgown flashed through her mind. She pictured herself sitting on this man’s knee. She thought she could vaguely recall the soft, deep drone of his voice. “Have you said your prayers, Princess?”

The nearly-forgotten memories gave Isabella an unaccountable chill. Nothing specific, just the lingering taint of childhood fear, the kind directed towards certain figures of adult authority, an outsized, amorphous apprehension embedded somewhere in her subconscious.

She breathed deep and reminded herself that she was not a little girl any more. She was the Black Queen, heiress to the Duchy of Aardmore, Baroness of the West Midlands, champion of the Battle of the Fens and a dozen lesser engagements, and—whatever her current setbacks—the Kingdom’s one true sovereign. Her armies were still in the field. Her supporters still held key fortifications. She was not without power. And she was here to parlay that power for her freedom.

She held the Bishop’s gaze in silence for a few moments longer, unflinching. Inwardly, she surveyed the terrain across which the high-stakes negotiation would be fought, mentally revising battle plans for the coming verbal encounter. If this churchman was half the tactician his reputation suggested, he would surely recognize her leverage and the necessity of a negotiated peace. Better to maneuver him into making the first offer, she thought, as they regarded one another across the unsettling stillness of the hushed chamber. But to properly set the terms of the debate, she must speak first.

She raised herself as high as her kneeling position would allow, inclined her chin meaningfully towards the Bishop and used her diaphragm to discreetly fill her lungs, just as her oratory tutor had taught her.

“Bishop Trolwick. . .” she began.

SLAP!

Isabella’s mouth hung open in shock, caught mid-word. It took a moment for the sting to register, the pain fanning out across the side of her face like flames coating a puddle of lamp oil. Speechless, jaw paralyzed in its stupefied gape, she looked up to find Sister Agnes looming over her, her open palm held taut at the terminus of her swing, implicitly threatening another blow.

“You will address God’s intermediary with the proper respect!”

Stunned, Isabella looked back towards the Bishop, but the silent patriarchal figure made no sign that he disapproved the assault. Isabella desperately tried to wrest her expression into anything but the wide-eyed, open-mouthed look of stupefaction in which it seemed frozen.  Her facial muscles twitched with the effort, and she found with dismay that an involuntary tear had gathered on the side of her face where she’d been struck.

She glanced quickly back up at Sister Agnes, palm still raised, waiting. The old nun was as controlled as ever, but the anger in her rebuke had been filled with more passion than Isabella had previously heard her express. Address? Court etiquette and the intricate formalities of office had never been Princess Isabella’s strongest subjects. But vaguely she remembered being forced to memorize the inane escalation of honorifics that accompanied rungs of achievement within the clerical hierarchy. Your Goodness, Your Charity, Your Beatitude, Your Continence, Your Reverence, Your Righteousness, Your Hallowed Mercy.

“Aaahh . . .” Isabella vocalized dumbly as she turned back towards the Bishop. “Ah. . .”

The surprising strength of the elderly woman’s slap had jostled her brains. She flexed her aching jaw and aggressively swallowed the knot in her throat, bracing her voice for something more articulate.

“Yuh . . . Ah . . . Your Purity and Grace,” she managed to choke out, stealing a small glance towards the abusive nun, who lowered her hand in apparent satisfaction. “I have . . . That is, I am here to discuss terms, the terms of my release. My release from . . .”

Her words were tumbling out shrill and plaintive. This was not how she had planned to begin at all. She’d been flustered by the sudden physical attack. The throbbing of her cheek was clouding her senses. She tried to focus.

“Listen to me, Your Grace—Your Purity and Grace—once you relay my terms to the Earl of Carteaux and my sister Lady Joan . . . Ah . . . our terms, the terms that we will negotiate, I am confident that we can . . . bring a lasting peace to the Realm . . . at last. . .”

“You are not here to discuss terms, My Child.”

It was the same low, even tone that Isabella remembered. The sudden break in the Bishop’s silence caused her to abruptly clamp her mouth shut, cutting off her rambling entreaties.

“You are here to confess and to repent. As you know, God has entrusted me with investigating and purging His Church of corruption. You stand accused of crimes graver than any my holy office has yet encountered. I do not in all honesty know if your soul can be cleansed. But I do know that only once you have confessed and atoned for your heresies can we in good conscious refer your case to the King and Queen. Until you have been purified through God’s boundless mercy, My Child, this remains a Church matter.”

Isabella shook her head in incomprehension. Amongst his many other offices, she knew, the Bishop held the title of High Justice of the Church’s secretive and much-feared Tribunal of Heresies, and he was indeed known for a certain amount zealotry with respect to this post, whether out of true religious conviction or jealous guarding of clerical jurisdiction Isabella couldn’t say.

But he was also a shrewd political tactician. This was no time for some silly inquisition into what books had she read, what her opinions were on Manichaean dualism and when she had last spoken to a Jew. She was a prisoner of war, one who could determine the fate of their war-torn Kingdom. Surely he could see that.

“Sister Agnes will read the list of charges against you. You will have the opportunity to confess or to deny the accusations. But I warn you, these allegations are the product of extensive investigation by the Tribunal and are each attested by multiple witnesses. If they are true, I urge you to seek God’s mercy immediately and not compound your sinfulness with obstinacy. You may begin, Sister.”

Isabella looked up at the old nun, who had stepped behind a small podium and was arranging several loose sheets of parchment into a crisp row. She licked her lips and cleared her throat with a single, businesslike grunt.

“Lady Isabella of Aardmore, you stand accused of multiple counts of blasphemy, heresy, witchcraft, desecration, cupidity, lewd conduct, adultery, fornication, devil-worship, hypocrisy and murder. Count the first: that you did secret in your chambers certain unnatural potions and books of spells and other dark knowledge and that you did use such occult means to seduce and lay with men of position and rank and to thereby manipulate the affairs of court. Do you confess?”

Isabella could not help a snort of derision.

“Who said such- . . .?”

“Do you confess?” Sister Agnes asked again with greater emphasis.

“I do not!” Isabella responded in exasperation.

“Count two,” Sister Agnes continued, making a note upon the parchment, “That you did encourage and commit fornication with and amongst your servingwomen. That in particular you did order the women in your service to pleasure you with their fingers and with their mouths and to lay naked before you and allow you to place your lips and tongues upon their maidenhoods. That you did require them to touch one another while you watched, that you did lead them in heathen Sapphic rituals . . .”

Isabella ground her teeth, suppressing the urge to speak out. Where would these ludicrous stories have come from? In her mind, she imagined that barely-concealed smirk of her handmaid-turned-nun Genevieve. Was it that vindictive, rat-faced cunt feeding them these lies? Or just some hapless servant caught in the Tribunal’s crosshairs, making things up to save their skin?

“. . . between her buttocks and instructed to fondle your breasts while she did so.” Sister Agnes was saying. “Do you confess?”

“This is—” Isabella began.

“You shall confine your responses to confess or deny,” reproached the Bishop.

“Denied!” Isabella blurted in frustration.

“Count three,” the nun continued, “that you were initiated into a secret cult by your mother, Lady Anne of Aardmore, that you did thereby seek to learn the black arts of witchcraft and sorcery and that you did conspire with your fellow cultists and witches to communicate with the Devil and his minions, to worship him and to effect his will on Earth. That you were seen upon the occasion of your eighteenth birthday pledging yourself to the Dark Lord, that the Devil himself did appear to you in the form of a monstrous horned demon and that you did fornicate with this monstrosity in order to increase your powers . . .”

Isabella felt her skin burn in anger and embarrassment at being forced to listen to these crude, degrading defamations.

“That you did kneel before this demon and place your hands upon his scaly, black-skinned penis before taking it into your mouth. That you did remain at this creature’s feet for hours with your mouth wrapped around his inhumanly large member, servicing him enthusiastically with your lips and tongue before turning around and presenting yourself to him on all fours, allowing him to mount you like an animal. That you did moan in ecstasy as the foul, goat-faced monster thrust into you, its claws caressing your naked . . .”

“Ridiculous!”

Isabella could contain her rage no longer, and the unexpected force of her interjection stopped Sister Agnes in mid-denunciation. The nun raised her eyebrows in disbelief at the breach of protocol, but Isabella forged ahead, speaking rapidly to get as much of her grievance heard before she was silenced.

“Your Purity and Grace, you can’t possibly take any of this seriously. Fellating the Devil for hours? What imagination my slanderers have! Surely a learned man such as yourself does not credit such fantastical nonsense. Horned monsters lurking about the palace, having sex with noblewomen! And who is meant to be witnessing this extraordinary event, making note of every salacious detail!? Scaly black penis! Are these the stories with which you and your sexually frustrated brothers and sisters titillate yourselves on long, cold Abbey nights? . . .”

Isabella stopped herself, knowing she had gone too far but still feeling somewhat relieved by the cathartic outburst. Sister Agnes took a menacing step forward, hand raised. Isabella flinched, but upon a subtle gesture from the Bishop, the nun froze.

The Bishop stood and regarded the supplicant queen. Isabella was unable to read his expression and unsure how to interpret his sudden intervention on her behalf. She decided there was no turning back at this point. With the giddy recklessness of having nothing to lose, she seized her momentary spotlight to make one last desperate attempt to steer the course of proceedings.

“Please hear me out, Your Purity and Grace. I may be captive, but my armies are still in the field. My uncle and my husband will never lay down their arms while the pretender Queen Joan and her incestuous consort she calls King sit the throne. Only a negotiated peace can stanch the bloodshed . . .”

The Bishop had stepped down from his raised platform and was approaching her with an unhurried bearing, as if patiently allowing her to tire herself out. He stopped just in front of where she knelt, so that she had to crane her neck straight up to continue to address him. Yet she did not let this shake her momentum.

“. . . I am willing to consider an arrangement whereby I abdicate my rightful claims to the crown in favor of my sister, and I will convince Aardmore, the West Midlands and all my bannermen and supporters to recognize the sovereignty of the White Queen . . .” @ @The Bishop was calmly loosening his heavy leather glove, one finger at a time, but Isabella ignored him. She was hitting her stride.

“. . .But in exchange we must have certain concessions, the first of which of course is my safe release, alive, whole and with no further harm to my person and my dignity than I have already suffered. In addition, those who have defended the justice of my cause will need certain guarantees, number one that—Bwoooooaaahhh! Oh-ooooooh!!”

Isabella felt her carefully chosen words evaporate into a gasp of pain as the Bishop suddenly snapped his glove downward, striking her full across the face with a fierce Fffff-THWAP!!! The room disappeared behind a cloud of shimmering, swirling shapes. Her ears filled with a metallic hum. She gulped for air, her lungs paralyzed in shock.

As her senses returned, Isabella looked back up at the white-robed man looming over her. The Bishop smoothed his glove methodically before placing his hands behind his back and leaning down towards her.

“From now on, you will speak only when spoken to. Is that understood?” he said, and, without waiting for an answer, he nodded to Sister Agnes. “Continue.”

Sister Agnes continued the charges. Meanwhile, Isabella rocked her jaw back and forth, fearing it might be dislocated. When asked if she confessed, the helpless queen could do little but mutter a feeble “denied.”

The counts continued, some outlandish some mundane, but all painting the picture of her as a scheming, hypersexualized sorceress who had driven the Kingdom to ruin with her occult machinations. Trying not to let the throbbing pain that coated her face wring further tears from her, she hardly listened, offering the same mechanical “denied” whenever prompted.

“Count eight. That, to secure Satan’s favor, you did offer your own mother up to him, to be taken directly to down to Hell and to serve for eternity in the Deceiver’s unholy harem. That, this bargain accepted, Anne of Aardmore’s soul left her body that very night and that she has ever since sat at Lucifer’s right hand as his favorite whore. That she intercedes on your behalf, uttering curses upon good Christian men and women whenever her mouth isn’t stuffed full attempting satisfy her dark master’s boundless sexual appetite. Do you confess?”

Blinding rage roiled up through Isabella’s core. Her mother had died suddenly of river fever six years prior, but the grief was still raw. To be blamed for her death, let alone in this obscene context, was almost more than she could bear. Yet, realizing that the words must be calculated to anger and disorient her—after all, insinuating that her mother was sucking Satan’s cock in Hell bore greater resemblance to a cruel schoolyard taunt than to a cogent denunciation—she did her best to refuse the provocation and to choke back her fury.

“Denied,” she managed to growl, finally.

“Count nine. That with the Devil’s aid you did use your powers to murder King Harold that you might seize his crown. Do you confess?”

Accused of murdering mother and father both. Isabella shook her head bitterly at the audacity of this kangaroo court.

“Denied.”

“Count ten. That upon your marriage to Baron Reginald de Cassingham, you did commit adultery with Sir William Cantor, a knight in your service. Do you confess?”

Isabella’s breath caught in her throat. This one was true.

There were others who knew of her affair with Sir William, but they were trusted members of her inner circle. She had been discrete. Surely rumors had not traveled as far as the White court, let alone to Evanshire Abbey. She was momentarily flustered.

“D-Denied . . .” she sputtered unconvincingly.

Sister Agnes made a final mark on her parchment before gathering the sheets into a neat stack.

“The accused has denied all charges against her,” she announced.

The Bishop shook his head slowly in a look of wistful disappointment.

“I had feared you might take this position, My Child. I hope we can persuade you to reconsider.”

Isabella knew enough of the Tribunal of Heresies’ reputation to feel a sense of mounting fear. Briefly, she considered confessing, just going along with their ludicrous stories. If she could just make whatever tokens of spiritual atonement were necessary to satisfy their little witch hunt, perhaps they could move on to less mystical matters, at which point the Bishop would surely see the political necessity of releasing her. Once she was safely back amongst her supporters, time enough to renege on her false confessions and plot revenge for the humiliations she’d experienced in this godforsaken abbey.

But as soon as she considered it, she knew the fantasy was hopeless. She was accused of regicide, with patricide and matricide thrown in for good measure. These were not sins she would be allowed to absolve with a few prayers and a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Justine. Confession was a trap. Her only hope was to call their bluff.

“God knows my innocence,” she proclaimed through gritted teeth. “I will die before I give credit to these lies.”

“I pray that will not be necessary,” replied the Bishop. “Sister Agnes, strip her and bind her hands. We will be proceeding to the interrogation chamber.”

Sister Agnes reached for her, grabbing her beneath her arm to raise her to her feet. Instinctively, the Queen fought.

“No!” she shrieked, jerking her shoulder away without thinking.

SLAP!

The nun’s blow lacked the leverage and the planning of her previous, but it stung nonetheless. Isabella shook her head, trying to regather her wits. As Sister Agnes adjusted her grip, Isabella looked up towards the blurry, jittering image of the Bishop. She tried to muster a tone of command, but the words that fell from her aching jaw came out shrill and desperate.

“Your Eminen—Grace! Grace and–! Bishop! Don’t be foolish! I—“

SLAP!

This slap landed better.  The room swam. Her mental state was rattled by pain and surprise. Only one sensation came through crisp enough to cut through the cloud of her sudden discombobulation, and that was anger. Anger, arriving like a steadfast old friend, the last of her senses to desert her. In a dazed fury, she grabbed the nun’s arm with an animalistic snarl.

For a moment, the two women froze at the cusp of violent struggle, their faces an inch apart, nails digging into one another’s biceps in symmetrical assault, muscles tensed, both half-kneeling on the floor of the ornate chamber.

Isabella heard the clomp of boots, signaling the approach of the two White guardsmen behind her. As she stared down the old nun’s dark, determined eyes, the blinding sting on the side of her face settling into a dull throb, the fight went out of her. With a knot in her throat, she released the other woman’s arm and allowed herself to be raised to her feet.  The sound of the guards’ approach slowed.

She stood facing the Bishop with her arms at her sides. Mortified to find her jaw trembling, she clenched her teeth tight and looked to the floor.

Sister Agnes undid the tiny knot between Isabella’s shoulder blades that kept the brown penitent’s vestment tight. With a deft movement, she spread the rough fabric apart and pulled it down over the captive queen’s shoulders. Stretching and shimmying the cloth in order to clear the bulging hump of Isabella’s chest, the old nun finally grabbed and squeezed one of the Queen’s tits to pull it free and then yanked at the vestment until the other bounced into view.

From there, the garment collapsed until catching briefly around Isabella’s hips. Another small tug, and it slid all the way to the floor, leaving the Queen standing completely naked before the Bishop. Automatically, she placed her hands in front of the hairless crook between her legs, but no sooner had she made this trifling gesture towards modesty than Sister Agnes was grabbing her wrists and pulling them roughly behind her back.

Isabella chanced a brief glance up at the Bishop. He maintained the same distant expression of contemplative authority, but she noticed his eyes climbing up and down the bare curves of her body. Isabella squirmed involuntarily under his gaze, even as Sister Agnes’s iron grip on her wrists kept her from twisting very far out of place. Never had the Black Queen felt so exposed, restrained from covering herself, from turning away or from otherwise controlling how the most intimate corners of her body were exhibited.

Sister Agnes pressed the Queen’s wrists flat against one another, causing a stab of pain to coarse through Isabella’s shoulders as they were forced back, propelling her nude chest upwards and outwards with a jolt that sent her breasts swinging and bobbing before they came to rest, thrust emphatically before her and standing at obscene attention. A length of rope was wound several times around her pinioned wrists and tied off in some manner that Isabella couldn’t see, thus fixing her arms in their uncomfortable and incapacitating position.

When Isabella looked back up, the Bishop was no longer at his seat. He was standing in the alcove at the back of the hall, just beside the tall stone arch of the doorway. Somewhere along the way, the heavy, ornate door with its violent depictions of damnation had been opened, and it now stood ajar, leaving in its place a void of total darkness.

With a shove, Sister Agnes directed the naked queen, hands tied firmly behind her back, towards the ominous black opening. Stumbling at first, then with as much composure as her trembling legs would allow, Isabella inched forward. At the inner chamber’s threshold, the soft carpet gave way to cold stone beneath her bare feet. The Bishop remained at the door’s edge like an usher or coachman, welcoming her inward, and Isabella had to cleave to the side of the narrow alcove to avoid brushing against him. She could feel his breath as she passed, and it was discomfort at this proximity more than anything that impelled her to keep moving into the darkness.

Once inside, though, she had to stop for fear of colliding with a wall or tumbling down unseen stairs. She stood there for a moment, naked in the pitch black. Behind her, she could hear the rattle of armor as the two guards followed her inside.

Then suddenly a torch was struck. A sphere of illumination bloomed around Sister Agnes, tossing shadows across the Queen’s bare skin. The nun began making her way around the chamber, lighting wall sconces and standing candelabras, and, area by area, Isabella’s surroundings revealed themselves.

The stone walls and floor lacked the fine décor of the Bishop’s antechamber, but the room was far from empty. As the candlelight spread and grew, the contours of the dark ambiguous shapes which populated the chamber slowly coalesced. Yet these objects became no less sinister as they emerged from the darkness. The chamber’s only furnishing, the diverse contraptions, fashioned in varying proportion out of wood and metal and leather, left no doubt as to the room’s purpose.

Isabella did not recognize most of the devices, as she looked around with mounting panic, but she recognized enough: here was the Saracen box, there the maiden’s bane, in that corner the throne of sorrow. In addition to the bulkier torture centerpieces, a staggering array of menacing handtools hung from the walls and lay in neat rows across benches and shelves. Ropes and chains and hooks dangled from the ceiling like vines from a dense jungle canopy.

When Sister Agnes had finished lighting the room, she returned to the Queen, circling around behind her and slipping some sort of hook beneath the bindings around her wrists before turning to adjust something at the nearby wall. So rapt was Isabella’s terrified attention to these activities that she was startled when she turned her head back around to find the Bishop looming over her, inches from her face.

He leaned forward and cupped a gloved hand beneath her chin, pinching her delicate face between thumb and forefinger and guiding her skull gently back and forth in an exploratory wobble, as if testing the pliancy of a piece of equipment.

“Know that we will break you,” he whispered. “It is a matter only of how much suffering you endure before you submit.”

Before Isabella could respond, her body was assailed with pain. The restraints around her wrists had been attached to a rope that now shot upwards in a taut line towards the ceiling, curving around a pulley before diving back down into the hands of Sister Agnes. The nun tugged down on the rope again before clamping it tight against the wall. Isabella screamed in pain and surprise as her pinioned arms were thrust straight up behind her at an excruciating angle. She lurched forward slightly, her naked breasts brushing up against the Bishop’s chest.

The Black Queen teetered back and forth, bobbing up and down on her toes in a desperate attempt to find some position that would relieve the piercing agony in her back and arms and shoulders.

The Bishop had dropped his possessive grip on her face and disappeared behind her. When he returned, he was carrying an implement with a short black handle. A half dozen leather tassles, each the length of a man’s forearm and hanging with visible weight, snaked out from the stem, swinging casually as the Bishop paced around Isabella, inspecting her naked body from various angles with the keen eye of an artist gauging his canvas.

Isabella was panting, attempting to get control over her pained breaths, when Sister Agnes walked into view holding a small device that appeared to consist of a short wooden dowel wrapped tightly in white cloth and attached to a leather strap. With Isabella’s mouth already hanging open in agony, there was no need for negotiation as the nun shoved the stout rod lengthwise between the captive queen’s teeth and wound the strap around the back of her head, hooking it in place on the other side of Isabella’s muzzled face. It was the human equivalent of a horse’s bit. A sigh of anguish escaped from the Queen, which turned into a slobbery moan as it passed through the gag.

Eyes oval in dread, Isabella watched as the Bishop dipped his flail into a nearby bucket of water and then methodically shook off the excess moisture so that only a slick veneer of dampness clung to the leather.

“Lady Isabella, you have heard the charges against you,” he said as he approached, gauging his distance from the Queen’s trussed-up body. “Do you wish to confess?”

Isabella met his eyes, silent but for her heavy, pained breathing. She tried to muster a look of defiance, but it was hard to tell if defiance would read properly on her pathetic gagged face, contorted as it was in pain and fear. Besides, in truth she knew that defiance was not a choice. Confession would gain her nothing. Her silence was an act of helplessness, not strength.

The Bishop bowed his bald head as if accepting her answer. He raised the leather flail up across his chest and then whipped it downward with a vicious diagonal backhand. The straps collided with the right side of Isabella’s torso, just below the ribs, the damp corners snapping against her skin like hungry teeth.

It was a calculated blow. The sting was immediate and far more acute than the improvised beating she’d received in the woods at the hands of the White footmen. With a squeal, the Queen bit down hard on the stick between her teeth. Her body writhed as it reflexively and belatedly struggled to shield its imperiled flank.

This reflexive twisting brought even greater pain by putting pressure on her strained, pinioned arms. She fought to regain her centered, tip-toed stance, even as the sight of the Bishop raising his arm once again made it impossible not to flinch.

The leather thongs snapped down on the same spot. But this time the Bishop struck her forehand, and the whip’s tail, where its venom was most concentrated, pricked her stomach rather than her back. Once again, the force of the blow set off a chain reaction of agony, as her body instinctively retreated from the attack and the rope from the ceiling jerked at her shoulders at unnatural angles.

The Bishop allowed the momentum of his swing to carry him through into another swift backhanded strike. He flicked the savage leather straps down across one of the Queen’s outstretched tits. The buoyant white orb jolted violently to the side, colliding with its mate and causing both breasts to sway rapidly as if trying to shake off the unexpected onslaught. Isabella gasped.

Pale pink streaks were just beginning to rise across the Queen’s milky skin from her cleavage to the delicate pucker of her areola, when the Bishop whipped her breast again. The tail of one of the straps caught her nipple directly in its bite.

“Nnnnnnnnnnnngggggg!!!” Isabella cried through her gag.

The Bishop landed a blow on her other breast. Her body twisted and the rope yanked at her shoulders, thrusting tears of pure physical pain up into her eyes.

The cruel leather slapped her tit again before striking her twice in quick succession across her left hip. The Bishop circled. Maintaining her balance and minimizing the pressure on her arms forced Isabella to lean forward, to arch her back and to stick her bottom out behind her. And it was the Queen’s exposed bottom, thrust upwards like an offering, that the Bishop targeted next.

Isabella stared forward helplessly as she listened to the unseen leather tendrils whizz through the air behind her. Immediately, a dozen agonizing pinpricks exploded across her right ass cheek. Her jaw closed down so forcefully around the bit that she feared she might break a tooth.

A moment later, her other ass cheek was given the same treatment, the Bishop’s flail slapping against the Queen’s bottom with a crisp wet fwack! Two more lashes in quick succession, and her backside was on fire. He whipped her again. Then again.

To her intense dismay, her eyes could no longer contain the tears of pain that the whipping relentlessly dredged up. The wells overflowed. The Queen felt streaks of moisture begin to run down her face. Crying was a token of feminine weakness that she had fought against her whole life, and the humiliation of losing control pained her even more than what was happening to her raw, smoldering buttocks.

As the Bishop then began to whip the backs of Isabella’s thighs, the first sob welled up within her, so alien a sensation that at first she didn’t recognize it. It slipped out around the bit in her mouth accompanied by wave of drool and a low, sputtering moan.

Once the bound monarch’s thighs had been thoroughly reddened, the Bishop circled back around in front of her. He landed two quick blows across her breasts, as if to catch her attention, before lifting her chin to look pointedly down into her moist eyes.

“Do you wish to confess?”

He barely waited for an answer. Pausing only to dip the flail back into the water, flicking droplets of water around the interrogation room floor as he cracked the air with a flourish, he resumed the assault. A rising backhand glanced across the underside of the Queen’s left tit with terse POP, sending it bounding upwards just as a second slap crashed down on it from above.

The Bishop’s aim drifted lower. Isabella was whipped several times across her sides and hips and stomach in quick succession. Then the torment briefly halted. But the fleeting respite was merely to allow the sadistic churchman to adjust his stance and line up his sights, preparing to strike with greater precision. Setting one foot in front of the other and leaning forward intently as if setting up a winning shot in a game of rails, the Bishop snapped the flail forward.

The leather thongs lashed out towards Isabella’s defenseless crotch, stiffening as they reached their full extension. Their tips barely grazed the smooth lips of her vagina before recoiling backwards, delivering the lightest of kisses. But the sting of the blow was all the more poisonous for its brevity. With a startled intake of breath, the Queen’s body cringed, her tender loins shrinking from the direction of attack.

Once again, the movement put agonizing pressure on her arms, and she was pulled back towards her previous stance, with her bald slit presented unconcealed to her torturer, offered up shamelessly for further punishment. As soon as the Queen’s teetering body came to rest, the Bishop whipped her again between her legs, swinging his flail in an rising motion. The leather straps collided with her crotch in a wet slap, less acute than the bite of the previous lash but a more comprehensive pummeling of her sensitive womanhood. Through the bit in her teeth, Isabella cried out.

Once more, the Bishop waited patiently as his victim’s body lurched painfully and then came back to rest before striking Isabella’s pussy again. Then, before she could twist away, he struck her a second time. The naked crevice of her sex glowed bright red as the Bishop stepped back to admire his work, rotating his whipping arm gingerly as if gauging its soreness. Isabella’s tears flowed uncontrollably. Slobber bubbled up around her gag and oozed down her chin.

“We will resume the interrogation tomorrow,” announced the Bishop. “I trust that you have been given much to contemplate, Lady Isabella. Sister, show the false queen to her bedchamber. Brother Duncan and Brother Theodore will assist you as needed. I must retire.”

With that, the Bishop placed his implement on a nearby table, smoothed his robes and walked towards the chamber’s doors with a solemn yet self-satisfied stride. Isabella watched him go. His men remained by the entrance, opening and shutting the door as their master passed. The gagged queen found herself making silent eye contact with the two men through her tear-blurred vision. The guards were staring unabashedly, and Isabella had to choke back a sob of shame. How did it come to this? The rightful queen of the realm, trussed up naked in a windowless church tower, a bit strapped around her head and sticking out from between her teeth like a beast of burden, these two leering knaves watching her weep and moan as the Bishop of Evanshire flogged her.

Just as she was thinking the disgrace might suffocate her, the tension on her arms and shoulders was suddenly relieved and she could breathe more freely. Sister Agnes had unfastened the rope and was slowly lowering it, allowing Isabella’s wrists to drift back down towards their natural resting place at her lower back. Her deliverance from suffering continued as the old woman then set about untying the Queen’s bindings. It was almost enough to make the abused noblewoman feel the stirrings of a perverse gratitude.

But her sense of relief was marred when she looked up to see the Bishop’s two white-clad thugs approaching her.

“Brothers, if you would,” Sister Agnes was saying. “we’ll secure the accused over here for the night.”

Isabella’s newly-freed arms were seized by the two men, who spun her around and led her towards a corner of the chamber where a thin layer of straw had been strewn about the stone floor. As she was dragged towards it, Isabella noticed the chains. Thick iron spikes had been driven straight into the stone at intervals. To some of these had been fastened short lengths of chain and heavy-looking manacles. Unthinking, the Queen began to struggle.

The men had little difficulty maintaining control over their flailing naked prisoner. Duncan held her around the torso while the one called Brother Theodore wrapped his burly arms around her thighs to stop her kicking, knocking her off her feet. Between the two of them, they forced her to the ground.

Pinned helpless on her back by the muscular guards, Isabella could do little but squeal impotently into the rigid bit between her teeth while Sister Agnes calmly snapped the manacles in place. First one ankle. Then the other ankle, her leg stretched into place with Brother Theodore’s aid and forced inside an iron hoop two feet away. Then her wrists were shackled to opposite points above her head, leaving her chained spread-eagled to the floor.

As soon the guards released their hold on her and rose to their feet, Isabella thrashed against her restraints. They jangled before pulling taut, announcing the futility of her struggle with a bitter clink. The short lengths of chain allowed her limbs an inch or two of movement in any given direction, but no more. She was powerless to sit up or to roll over or even to close her legs, which were splayed shamefully apart, exposing her completely to the stares of her captors, who now gazed down on upon the disgraced Black Queen from high above.

Reluctantly leaving the Queen’s side with one last long lecherous look up and down her nude fettered body, the guards trudged back to the entrance, while Sister Agnes saw to extinguishing the chamber’s many candles and torches. She then joined the men at the doorway.

“Think on your sins, Lady Isabella,” said the nun. “Tomorrow His Purity and Grace may not be so gentle.”

With that the ornate wooden door of the interrogation chamber slammed shut, and Queen Isabella was left alone, chained naked to the cold stone floor in total darkness.

Queen Captured – Act II: Bishop (scene i)

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Second Chapter of W.H. Collins’s dark erotic fantasy. All fourteen chapters are now available from Amazon under the title The Fall of the Black Queen.

Note that this story is intended for mature audiences only and contains extremely graphic depictions of material that many audiences will find disturbing, including spanking and forced nudity. Nothing herein is intended to glorify or condone the horrific experiences which the protagonist endures, and the reader is strictly instructed not to take any prurient interest in this tale of medieval violence and sexual exploitation.

“I heard she’s been w’ every man at court. ‘Er father the Old King and her uncle the duke included. Can you imagine? God save us from such wantonness.”

“It’s the Devil gives her her beauty. And her dark powers, so they say. Every night a demon slips into her bedchambers, hooves and horns and scaley skin and all, and the princess she lunges for the foul creature’s manhood like a woman starving—beg me pardon, sisters, but I’m only telling what I’ve heard—she puts the demon’s bulging black prick into her mouth and she swallows its seed, what keeps her skin fair and her bosom so unnatural buoyant. It’s true. I had it from a page who heard it from the Black Lady’s own chambermaid who seen it happen night after night . . .”

“God preserve us . . .”

Once again, the Black Queen found herself badly disoriented as to her location. She remembered the events that brought her here in jumbled bits and pieces. The White soldiers with their throats slit, dropping to the ground beside her. The beak-like nose and beady eyes of Bishop Trolwick, drawing close in the firelight. The bishop’s men lifting her roughly to her feet, her blanket falling, exposing her nakedness. Her tattered black gown slipped over her shoulders, providing some small measure of modesty before she was draped across the back of a horse like a sack of millet, her body secured tightly to the saddlebags with lengths of rope like so much luggage.

Somewhere during the long uncomfortable journey, amid the painful bouncing and jostling, her naked breasts swinging freely out from the tears in her shredded dress, she had drifted into something like sleep. Now she was elsewhere.

She was upright, seated on some sort of hard, unforgiving chair. The rigid wood beneath her magnified the pain emanating from her buttocks where the two White ruffians had beaten her with their makeshift rod. She groaned and shifted her weight and found her wrists bound to the stiff arms of the chair with iron bands.

She was no longer wearing the remnants of her shredded gown. Instead, she was covered with a straight brown cassock, little more than a bag with holes for head and arms, woven from a coarse cloth that scratched and irritated her bare skin. The uniform of a penitent.

Blinking forcefully to dislodge the dirt and sleep from her eyes, she lifted her head and squinted out at her surroundings. She was seated in the middle of a stark, bare room. A cell of some sort, though it was no dungeon if the narrow beams of sunlight slicing slim patterns across the stone floor were any indication. Before her stood three women, all wearing the simple brown habits of the Order of St. Martinette.

“Ah. The harlot wakes . . .” muttered one of the nuns, a stout matronly figure with a prominent, hairy mole high on her left cheek.

The Black Queen met the woman’s eyes, and she seemed to shrink back under the force of the regal gaze, shuffling her feet. Her mouth twitched with the effort to maintain her confident sneer. The Queen’s gaze swept slowly down the line. The woman in the center was both taller and older, with an angular face and a pinched, judgmental mouth. The Queen stared hard at the nun, but the woman did not seem as easily cowed as her fat companion. Stiff-backed and impassive, she stared right back at the Queen with unblinking gray eyes. There was a haughtiness to her that both infuriated and frightened the shackled monarch.

“You are to come with us, My Lady,” said old nun without changing expression. “Can you walk?”

The Queen ran her tongue around a raw dry mouth, gauging her ability to produce intelligible speech.

“Where . . .?” she finally croaked.

“Evanshire Abbey, My Lady,” the woman responded. “Home to the holy relic of the ears of St. Bartleby as well as the tomb of King Francis the Repentant.”

Under different circumstances, the Black Queen might have laughed. She had visited the Abbey as a young princess and been forced to pay her respects to the ridiculous shriveled flaps of skin that the Evanshire monks kept in a velvet box. She had openly snickered about it afterwards, with the encouragement of her uncle, the future Duke Aardmore.

As for her great-grandfather King Francis I, Queen Isabella knew her histories well enough to know he was far from repentant; the concessions he had granted to the Church on his deathbed were pure political expediency, something she had not been shy about discussing upon her visit to his grandiose tomb.

Not for the first time, the Queen was forced to wonder whether the open contempt she had shown in her youth for the Church, for its silly rituals and superstitions no less than its myriad hypocrisies, had been her downfall. With the exception of a handful of local bishops who had close ties to the Duchy of Aardmore, the Kingdom’s clergy had overwhelmingly sided with the Whites. Several of the White bishops controlled key territory, including Evanshire.

Queen Isabella badly wished she could have earlier reconciled herself to the realm’s powerful religious interests, much as her ancestor King Francis had done, no matter how many boxes of disgusting severed ears she had to kneel before.

But it was too late now. She was captured. The war was effectively over. All that remained now was to negotiate a dignified peace, preferably one that allowed her to keep her head and perhaps some remnant of her grandfather’s lands. Paying fealty to her sister and her sister’s husband would be a difficult pill to swallow, but it must be endured.

And the reign of a monarch might see many changes of fortune. If she lived, the Black Cause might well be resurrected in the fullness of time. What had happened to her in the forest with those lowborn soldiers had been traumatic, but they were dead and she was alive. She was strong and would survive.

“Tell your . . . your Lord,” she said hoarsely, “I am . . . am ready . . . to discuss . . . terms.”

The fat nun snorted in derision but deferred to her elder, who merely pursed her lips tighter before answering.

“The righteous have no terms to discuss with the wicked but repentance,” she said. “But we are to take you before His Purity and Grace the Bishop soon enough. You are not yet fit to enter the Abbey’s Inner Sanctum. Once you have been cleansed and purified, then you may appear before His Purity and Grace and Our Lord God to confess your sins and plead mercy. Sister Genevieve, release the Lady Isabella from her restraints.”

“Yes, Sister Agnes.”

The Queen turned her head to regard the third nun, who had been standing deferentially behind her stern, gray-eyed sister. She was younger than the other two, perhaps no more than four or five years into womanhood. She was pretty, even beneath the drab brown coif that covered her hair and fell down around her cheeks and neck. As she came forward and crouched beside the wooden chair to which Isabella was bolted, the Queen found herself examining the young nun’s features, struck by something familiar in her pale blue eyes.

Sister Genevieve unlatched the lock at the Queen’s right wrist, and hinge of the restraint creaked as the metal band flipped open. The Queen lifted her arm experimentally. When the nun came around to her other side and released her other arm, the Queen thought briefly of lashing out. Unlike most women at court, her education had included training in basic combat techniques, and, in peak condition, she had no doubt that she could overwhelm the three nuns and make her escape.

But her body was still stiff and her mind still cloudy from her ordeal. She did not trust her reflexes. Besides, she could not imagine these nuns had been sent to retrieve her without the Bishop’s armed guards waiting nearby. A rash escape attempt now might foreclose a better opportunity down the line. The wise course was to gain access to the White Bishop as soon as possible. He would be able to relay treaty terms between her and Joan (“Queen Joan,” she reminded herself bitterly) setting her on the humiliating but necessary path that would take her back to Aardmore Castle in defeat.

Still, the urge to grab this sweet Genevieve girl by the hair and smash her head against the stone floor was powerful.

Instead, Isabella allowed the young nun to place her hands on the Queen’s elbow and help her to rise. Isabella winced, as the chafing of the cassock, as well as the stiffness of her legs and the blood rushing back to her injured bottom, all competed for the attention of her pain receptors. Wobbling uncertainly, she found her feet and straightened up with all the dignity she could muster. Her shapeless tunic came to rest just below her knees. A cool breeze from the cell’s narrow windows snaked beneath, reminding her that she had on nothing underneath the coarse penitent’s vestment.

Sister Agnes then rapped a fist against the cell door. It was promptly opened, and, indeed, on the other side stood a guard in full chainmail with an imposing halberd at his side. The Queen was glad she had refrained from breaking any of the nuns’ bones.

With the guard trailing behind, the three women led the Black Queen through the halls of the Abbey. As she stumbled along, mindful of her bare feet on the uneven stone walkways, Sister Genevieve addressed her in a soft tone that Isabella couldn’t immediately read.

“Do you remember me, My Lady?”

Isabella looked over her shoulder at the young nun, stubbing a toe as she did so. The fat nun yanked roughly at her arm when she paused.

“Keep moving, witch,” she growled under her breath.

“I served at the palace as a girl,” Sister Genevieve continued. “Before my vows.”

“That’s enough, Sister,” chastised Sister Agnes. “As we discussed, it is dangerous to engage the Lady Isabella in conversation. We do not know the extent of her corruption.”

The Queen did not look back again, but her memory had indeed been spurred. The girl had been one of her handmaidens. The association was hazy but not pleasant. The Queen had the vague sense that, like many of the young girls assigned to wait on then-Princess Isabella, Genevieve had not been treated with much kindness.

Though never intentionally cruel, Isabella had always been bossy and willful, both as a matter of nature and upbringing. She did not regard ignorance or incompetence within her household with any sort of charity. In her youth especially, she had been known to humiliate and belittle the women in her circle who were less well-read or quick-witted.

The effect would have been magnified with respect to the youngest girls at court, towards whom a certain amount of baseline bullying by the older cohorts was to be expected. It was a casual meanness that the Queen often looked back on with regret. She wondered how the young Genevieve, who had apparently since pledged herself to God, remembered her and how she was reacting to seeing her former mistress debased in this way, marched around like a common prisoner, barefoot and dressed in a dirty sack.

She was led down a flight of stone stairs and felt the air grow hot and humid. Sister Agnes opened a thick oak door, and steam drifted out of the room beyond. The Abbey’s baths. Of course. Purified for the Inner Sanctum. Despite herself, the Queen felt a wave of gratitude. She enjoyed bathing and had always done so with a frequency that her peers found eccentric. It had been many days since she had been able to wash herself. If ritual ablution meant the chance to rid herself of some of the sweat and grime that had accumulated on her body since she first set out for Malburgh, then she thanked God for His fussy approach to hygiene.

The nuns led her into the subterranean bathhouse. It was not as large as the cavernous rooms beneath the palace or even those of Aardmore Castle, but it was well kept. At the center was a tiled, recessed tub which looked to be about waist-deep. The room’s ample torchlight bounced off the surface of the water, casting shimmering reflections on the stone pillars and the wooden benches that ringed the square pool.

“Sister Ruth, stoke the furnace please. Sister Geneveive, fetch more water.”

Sister Agnes directed her subordinate sisters with crisp waves of her hands.

“Brother Duncan, please shut that door.”

To Isabella’s dismay, she saw that the guard had followed them into the chamber. He dutifully shut the door behind him and turned back around to regard the Queen with feigned disinterest.

Sister Ruth shortly returned and, in her thick-hipped waddle, sidled up to the Penitent Queen.

“Hot as she’s going to get, I wager. It’ll take more’n soap to wash this‘un clean, Sister. But shall we do as the Bishop bids?”

Sister Agnes nodded.

“Relieve Lady Isabella of her vestments, please.”

The Queen’s breath caught in her throat. She was used to bathing with the assistance of servants, of course. But she was generally afforded more modesty. Never would someone dare help disrobe her without the Queen’s express instruction. Never would one of her servingwomen watch her remove her clothes as Sister Agnes now appeared ready to do, without even pretending to avert her eyes.

And this was to say nothing of the impropriety of having a male attendant present. She glanced over at the Abbey guardsman Duncan, who had remained silent and stoic but who Isabella had noticed licking his lips, his hands fidgeting up and down the pole of his halberd as he waited for the beautiful Black Queen to be stripped of her sole garment.

By now Sister Genevieve had returned, carrying two brimming buckets. Queen Isabella faced the three nuns and the male sentry, her back to tub. The reflections off the water caused her black hair to flicker and flare. Marshaling her tone of command, she prepared to berate them all for their impertinence.

Before she could form the words, Sister Ruth grabbed the hem of her cassock and yanked it upward with a surprising force. And, with the unexpected assault, Isabella’s regal address disintegrated into a shrill gasp.

She was thrown off balance as the fabric suddenly brushed and bunched its way up her thighs, tugged violently left and right by the nun as she sought to lift the garment free of the Queen’s curves. Before Isabella could process what was happening, the simple brown frock was bunched up around her torso, and the trim patch of black hair that covered her royal crotch was exposed to the room, dancing back and forth as Isabella stumbled to regain her balance.

The stout nun continued to tug upwards, but the friction around the Queen’s chest, where her breasts—which were much more robust than the makers of the simple penitent’s tunic clearly anticipated—pulled the material taut. Suddenly, Isabella regained her footing and grabbed at Sister Ruth’s wrist, wrenching it away from her clothes. With her other hand, she landed a swift slap across the nun’s face. Sister Ruth dropped the hem of the vestment and staggered backwards in surprise.

The Black Queen swiftly covered herself once again, smoothing the brown tunic back down over her thighs. She faced them defiantly. Sister Ruth looked as if she was about to make a run at her when she was stopped by a wave of Sister Agnes’s hand.

“Lady Isabella, you forget yourself. You are here to learn humility and repentance. I’m afraid that sort of behavior will not be tolerated. Brother Duncan?”

The guard set his weapon down against the wall and stepped toward the Queen menacingly. Isabella took an involuntary step backward, the steaming tub of water at her back cutting off any further retreat. A sense of powerlessness crawled up her skin like a winter chill. There was nowhere to run or dodge. And to fight bare-fisted against the Bishop’s thug, clad as he was in leather and mail, was clear folly. Yet she could not let herself be cowed. Only by firm resistance would these impudent rogues learn to treat her with due deference. She glanced behind her again at the water. Perhaps if she . . .

Too late! With unexpected agility, a thick leather glove lunged out from her periphery and snapped shut around her bicep. The Queen twisted and tried to jerk free even as she whipped her other arm around in long arc, fingers taloned, towards the guard’s exposed face. But either Brother Duncan’s reflexes were especially keen or her own especially dulled; the guard easily caught her left wrist in his left glove before it could cause any damage.

Manipulating her like a rag doll, the burley guard spun the Black Queen back around to face the three nuns, causing her to gasp in pain at the brutal contortion of her shoulders. He positioned himself behind her, the crushing force of his leather grip finding its way to her elbows as he pinned her arms to her sides. She tried to kick, but her naked heel merely connected painfully with the iron buckles of the guard’s high boot. Her struggles gradually decreased and dimmed, muffled by their own futility.

She faced the three women, immobile but for her heavy breathing, her chest rising and falling in exaggerated waves as the pressure from her pinioned arm squeezed her ribcage from both sides. Sister Agnes stepped forward.

“When we defy and disobey God’s will, Lady Isabella, we only bring unnecessary suffering on ourselves. Your sinfulness must surely have blinded you if you cannot see that.”

From within the folds of her habit, the old nun produced a small, curved knife. She leaned in close and rested the blade against the Queen’s collarbone.

“You may now add to your transgressions the unnecessary needlework you have created for the Abbey’s seamstresses.”

With that, Sister Agnes sawed a notch into the center of the brown cassock’s collar and drew her knife downward. The crudely-woven cloth gave way easily. With a satisfying riiiiip, its threads parted rapidly, following the jagged path of the nun’s blade down Isabella’s paralyzed body.

As the tear in the garment cleared her chest, the Black Queen’s ample tits bounced free, pushing the severed flaps of fabric to either side. The monarch let out an audible gasp of surprise and shame but was careful to remain motionless lest the knife cut more than her clothes.

Sister Agnes grabbed half of the torn vestment and pulled upward to bring greater leverage to bear on her blade. The rip quickly zig-zagged its way down past Isabella’s stomach and crotch before freeing itself at the brown garment’s hem. The sides of the dress dropped away, exposing the Queen’s front from top to bottom.

Promptly, the nun turned her attention to the sleeves, slicing one away, then the other, and the entire penitent’s robe fell to the floor in one piece, leaving the Queen completely naked, still pinned firmly by the guard’s iron handhold to the front of his body.

“I had hoped for better from you, Lady Isabella,” Sister Agnes lectured with a tone of infuriating superiority. “The Bishop will be disappointed to hear how difficult you’ve made this.”

The Bishop. In her resolve to teach these impertinent women that she was not some common prisoner, Queen Isabella had nearly lost sight of her only way forward. The sooner she could find audience with the Bishop, the sooner she could negotiate her freedom.

“I had hoped our pious brother might be able to keep his clothes dry, but if the only way to make you fit to enter the Inner Sanctum is to have Brother Duncan bathe you, that is what we must do.”

“I will do as duty requires, Sister,” came a gravelly mumble just above Isabella’s ear.

She involuntarily squirmed. As she did, her naked thighs and bottom rubbed against the craggy ringlets of the guard’s chainmail tunic. Suddenly, she could feel something swelling, even from beneath the guard’s layer of armor, something pushing with sickening insistence into her lower back. With a sense of nausea, she began to imagine herself pinned down as this Church thug ran his hands all over her, soaping her, scrubbing her, wiping her dry.

Sister Agnes folded her arms behind her back and met the Queen’s frightened eyes with a stern, patronizing look.

“Is that what you want? . . .”

There was an awkward silence as the two women stared at one another. The Queen’s naked breasts heaved up and down as she panted in discomfort and desperation. The bulge in Brother Duncan’s trousers grew steadily more prominent, pressing against her bare skin with a lewdness that was now impossible to ignore.

“. . . Or are you calm enough that Sisters Geneveive and Ruth can manage your ablutions unaided?”

The Black Queen swallowed hard. To humble herself before this pompous nun was unendurable. But having her body forcibly washed by Brother Duncan as these women watched would do nothing for her pride. To subject herself to further agony and debasement for no purpose was foolish.

“Very well. Let’s get on with it . . .” she whispered, lowering her eyes.

When there was no response, the Queen looked back up to find Sister Agnes looking at her with one raised eyebrow and pursed lips, as if Isabella’s words had been ambiguous.

“I . . . I will bathe . . . bathe myself. . .” she stammered desperately.

The old nun continued to look at her silently, her expression unchanged.

” . . . with Sister . . . Sister Genevieve’s assistance . . .” the Queen offered.

Finally, Sister Agnes grunted and shrugged, as if placated but not entirely satisfied.

“You may release her, Brother Duncan,” she said. “Lady Isabella appears chastened.”

With what felt like some reluctance, the guard’s gloved fists unclenched. He shuffled back towards his post at the doorway as Isabella brought a newly-liberated arm up over her breasts in an attempt to cover herself, while her other hand sank demurely down in front of her prim triangle of black hair.

For a moment, the three women and their male escort stared silently at the naked queen, as if none were quite sure what came next. Isabella, for her part, kept her eyes fixed on the tiled floor, trying not to let her captors see her discomfited, even as rage and humiliation drove warm blood to her face.

Finally, at a nod from the old nun, both Sister Genevieve and Sister Ruth began to hitch the hems of their habits up above their knees. Sister Ruth then marched towards Queen Isabella and grabbed her roughly by the elbow, tearing the Queen’s protective arm from her chest and spinning her around towards the shallow tub. The jerking motion caused the Queen to lose her footing and she tumbled over the lip of the tub and hit the water with an undignified splash.

The Queen was briefly submerged. The bath was not nearly as warm as it looked, and the shock of the sudden impact caused Isabella to flail until she found her footing and was able to raise herself, water dripping off her luxurious black hair like a soaked sponge, cascading in streams and waterfalls down her shoulders and over her naked breasts. Once she had wobbled uncertainly to her feet, the water came up only to mid-thigh, leaving the rest of her glistening body exposed to the air.

Sounds of laughter filled the bath chamber. The Queen angrily brushed a damp mop of hair from her face and wiped water from her eyes. She turned towards Sister Ruth in fury, but the fat nun was already wading into the tub, barreling towards her. Behind Sister Ruth was Sister Genevieve, carrying a bucket. She was giggling unabashedly at her former mistress’s pratfall.

The Queen gave token resistance when Sister Ruth reached for her, her slick skin easily slipping from the nun’s grip, but a harsh reprimand from Sister Agnes—”Lady Isabella, be still!”—caused her to hesitate. The next thing she knew, a bucket of water had been emptied over her head, accompanied by a stifled snort of merriment from Sister Genevieve. Isabella was once again blind and disoriented as the sudden torrent of water rushed over her face, leaving her sputtering and gasping.

“Lift your arms, witch,” Sister Ruth growled.

Too stunned to do otherwise, the Black Queen complied. After wiping the water from her face once again, she hesitantly raised her arms out to her sides, stealing a glance as she did so at the White guardsman, who leaned against his halberd, drinking in every moment of this performance. Meanwhile, Sister Genevieve had produced a thick slab of soap and was busily lathering a large, coarse-bristled brush of the sort that the Queen associated more with the scullery than the bathhouse.

Sister Genevieve handed the brush off to her sister, who roughly yanked the Queen’s left arm even higher and began to scrub beneath her armpit. Isabella bit her lip, willing herself to remain still while the nun manhandled her like a farm animal.

At the same time as Sister Ruth was scouring under the Queen’s arms, Sister Genevieve began applying her chunk of soap directly to the Queen’s skin. She began by swiping from shoulder to shoulder, leaving a frothy, filmy trail across the Queen’s collarbone. Then, the young nun dragged the soap down across the Queen’s naked breasts. The waxy block circled one teat and then the other, tracing the circumference of the perky white mounds from their apex down into the delicate cleft where they rested against her torso.

“Keep those arms up, Whore of Aardmore,” the fat nun hissed in her ear. “Or we’ll never get that stink off you.”

Once a layer of foam had coated the Queen’s bosom, the young nun set the soap aside and engaged the nude sovereign’s glistening orbs with her hands. Rubbing her palms over the spongy flesh in tight circles, Sister Genevieve quickly worked up a lather. Seemingly fascinated with the older woman’s magnificent endowment, the young nun’s hands lingered, squeezing and lifting the Queen’s soapy breasts in an exploratory fashion, shyly at first and then with ever greater boldness.

The Queen, however, barely had time to register this lewd molestation. As Sister Ruth moved onto the monarch’s other armpit, the brush’s sharp bristles bit into a tender new swath of skin, drawing the Queen’s attention away from the degrading activity at her chest.

“Unnnh! Softer, you pig-faced cunt!” the Queen grunted before she could stop herself.

Sister Genevieve, whose fingers had found their way to the Queen’s nipples, suddenly paused, her thumbs resting just below the puckered nubs.

“Ooooooo . . .” the young nun gasped in scandalized excitement.

Outside the pool, Sister Agnes clacked her tongue.

“It seems it is the Black Lady’s mouth that is in need of the most urgent cleansing,” the old nun said. “Sister Genevieve?”

“Yes, Sister,” the young nun answered with suppressed eagerness. She gave Isabella’s nipples a swift pinch before turning around and grabbing the soap block.

As she did so, Sister Ruth took hold of the Queen’s wrists and pulled them behind her back. Sister Genevieve then turned around shoved the soap in the Queen’s face, rubbing it all around her clenched lips. Isabella squirmed and tried to twist her face away from the foul-tasting soap.

“Open up, My Lady,” the young nun said.

“Lady Isabella . . .” Sister Agnes added in a tone of warning.

Foolishly, the Queen tried to protest. No sooner had the outrage parted her lips than Sister Genevieve managed to press the soap inside her mouth. Jiggling the slippery brick this way and that, the girl was able to wedge it past the Queen’s teeth. Isabella squealed in muffled fury. She tried to jerk away, but Sister Ruth held fast to her wrists. She kicked impotently at the water.

“The sooner we clean out that nasty mouth, My Lady, the sooner you can appear before the Bishop and be forgiven your sins.”

Whether it was the persistent prying of the soap against her teeth or whether it was her own subconscious, willing this ordeal towards a swifter conclusion, the Queen found her jaw giving way. With relish, the young nun jammed the soap deeper. The bitter taste of pig’s fat and lye flooded the Queen’s mouth. She gagged.

Ignoring the moist choking sounds burbling from her naked prisoner, Sister Genevieve gleefully wiggled the soap around the captive queen’s helpless mouth, coating the inside of her cheeks before ramming the fat, slippery brick in and out of the Queen’s thoroughly-lubricated orifice. Foam began to spill out the sides, oozing down her chin and dripping off her face in thick frothy gobs.

“That’s enough, Sister Genevieve,” Sister Agnes instructed. “Lady Isabella, we will leave that soap in place for the time being lest you undo your cleanliness with the pollution of your tongue. You may hold onto it by your own power or we will have Brother Duncan hold it in for you.”

Sister Genevieve looked up at Isabella with curiosity and very slowly removed her hand from the block of soap, watching expectantly to see if the humiliated queen would spit it out. Isabella felt the penetrating bitterness of the soap sting the back of her throat, and she wanted desperately to purge the frothy residue from her mouth. But what would happen if she continued to fight?

As a girl, she had witnessed an emotional conversation between her mother and grandfather. It was shortly after court machinations had forced the former Queen to flee the capital for Aardmore Castle.

“What can I do?” the young princess overheard her mother ask tearfully.

“You can endure,” Duke Aardmore had replied. “Sufferance is a tactic. Those who can endure remain poised to exploit whatever openings their enemies inevitably provide.”

Gain audience with the bishop. Negotiate her release. Return to her supporters. Wait for an opening. That was the way forward. A tactical withdrawal. Whatever else happened along that path was irrelevant. Something to be endured. She bit down into the soap.

For an instant, her eyes met Sister Geneveive’s. The hint of a smirk tugged at her former handmaid’s mouth, and the Black Queen was forced to look away, lifting her chin and gazing blankly into the middle-distance. She hoped the expression might pass for dignified, until a suppressed gag reflex caused her torso to shudder and a sudsy whimper to burble involuntarily from her soap-stuffed face.

“Have you learned by now your dark powers are useless in this stronghold of God?” Sister Ruth grunted at her triumphantly as she released the Queen’s wrists. “Now put your hands on your head and keep them there. The bishop’s waiting.”

The Queen did as she was told.

The nun’s brush scoured her back, and Isabella winced in pain, biting down harder on the soap. Meanwhile, the captive monarch saw Sister Genevieve’s hands approaching her face, and she flinched instinctively. But the young initiate merely rubbed her palms across the waxy slab that protruded comically from the Queen’s mouth, working up a lather that she then conveyed downward to the unbathed portions of her prisoner’s skin.

Together, the two women worked the Queen’s body. The waifish young nun circled, running her soapy hands in eager arcs across her humbled mistress’s flesh, while her gruff colleague followed, scraping the tender skin pink and raw. Isabella closed her eyes and pressed her intertwined hands helplessly to the back of her head, sucking in breath through her nose and emitting little muffled moans, as the nuns’ ministrations weaved lower and lower.

When Sister Geneveive got to the thick patch of black hair that framed the Queen’s loins, she paused to recoat her hands in soap. Then, she plunged her fingers deep into the damp mop and began to work up a lather, massaging the sovereign’s pubis with intrusive thoroughness, twisting and tugging at individual clumps of hair as if forgetting that the downy object she was shampooing was attached to a woman of royal blood and not the lining of some soiled garment.

Lady Isabella had barely begun to register this invasion when Sister Ruth gave the back of her thigh a wet slap.

“Spread your legs, witch.”

With a readiness that surprised even herself, Isabella immediately adjusted her stance, shuffling her feet apart beneath the water.

“Wider,” demanded the corpulent nun, slapping her hand demonstratively between the insides of her naked charge’s thighs.

With a forlorn, soap-muffled moan and a powerless shake of her head, the Queen again suppressed her indignation and tried to heed the command of the White Bishop’s loathsome minions. Taking another deep nasal breath, she arched her back to keep her balance, her splayed elbows straining further aloft and her naked bosom rising to full attention, as she sank into an even wider stance. Her soapy crotch grazed the surface of the water with a gentle “plop.”

As Isabella obediently exposed herself, Sister Genevieve’s fingers quickly annexed new territory. Bent forward, her head even with the Queen’s abdomen, the young nun slid a cupped hand down from the Queen’s well-lathered bush in a tight curve all the way around the apex of her spread thighs.

Back and forth, she glided her slick palm between the nude monarch’s legs, covering the surface of Isabella’s obligingly open crotch with foam. To her dismay, the Black Queen heard another involuntary moan, this time less unambiguously one of pain, slip past the waxy block jammed crudely between her teeth.

Suddenly, Sister Genevieve’s caress slowed and then lingered. Her hand cupped Lady Isabella’s crotch firmly, lifting with such persistence that the queen was forced up onto the tips of her toes. A single thoroughly-lubricated digit began digging upwards, exploring between the inner folds of the Black Queen’s womanhood with accelerating aggressiveness. Isabella’s eyes grew wide in alarm just as the girl plunged a finger deep inside her former mistress’s vagina.

“Muuuhh-mmpphhth-th…” the Queen sputtered through the soap.

In no time, Sister Genevieve had managed to insert a second soapy finger and then a third inside the Black Queen’s increasingly slick hole. Whether it was stoic determination or simply stunned paralysis, the Queen remained in place—hands on her head, back arched, legs spread, jaw clamped firmly around a bar of soap—even as she was forcibly penetrated by this girl whom she remembered as the lowliest member of her entourage.

But clearly this purification charade had crossed an unendurable line, and Isabella turned her head towards Sister Agnes, lifting her eyebrows towards the senior nun in a half-pleading, half-accusatory grimace.

“Mmmmphfff-uuuuuh-muuuh…”

Whether Sister Agnes regarded the penitent’s animalistic burbling as plaintive or merely an angry outburst, the grim-faced woman did not break her stern pose, looking down upon the ritual cleansing with crossed arms and moving only her pursed lips when she spoke.

“All parts of your body must be cleansed, Lady Isabella. And Sister Genevieve is attending to a region that you have befouled most grievously of all, if what we have heard is true. Please continue, Sister. The Lady cannot enter the Abbey’s inner sanctum so long as any residue of her wickedness clings to her. Be thorough.”

Sister Geneveive’s fingers pushed their way deeper inside the Queen and began thrusting in and out of her cunny, causing her to gasp and wobble in her spread-eagled stance. Desperately, she searched Sister Agnes’s face for some acknowledgement that fingering prisoners in a tub was contrary to her order’s vows

“Mmmmuuutth?… Fffuuuh-ffffuuuuh!”

Soapy saliva oozed from the Black Queen’s mouth and dribbled down her chin as she tried to express herself. For the first time, Isabella felt tears of frustration well up in her eyes. Before looking away in humiliation, she caught a glimpse over Sister Agnes’s shoulder of the White guardsman Duncan, leaning forward attentively.

As instructed, the young nun continued to scour the Queen’s cunt with dutiful thoroughness, rubbing around the outside in forceful concentric circles before working her fingers back inside. A billowing foam began to build and creep down Isabella’s open thighs. She could hear her own heavy breathing sounding more and more labored as she struggled to suck in enough air through her nose, her senses increasingly overwhelmed by the intensity of the activity between her legs.

And then it stopped. Sister Genevieve withdrew her hand, shook off some of the froth and nodded up at the Queen with a brisk “hmmmm,” as if satisfied that her former mistress’s private parts were now sufficiently sanitary. Isabella found that her legs were shaking.

“Disgusting,” Sister Ruth growled behind her ear. “The Black Witch draws sinful pleasure from our touch.”

“That may be so, Sister,” intoned Sister Agnes, “but there are limits to what our purification ritual can achieve. We must leave it to the bishop to cleanse her soul.”

Suddenly, with a sharp splash, Sister Genevieve flung a bucketful of water against Isabella’s crotch, rinsing some of soap away while causing the Queen to stumble backwards with a muffled “oof.” At the same time, Sister Ruth grabbed her shoulder and gave it a swift shove.

“Bend over, witch. Grab your knees.”

Isabella hesitated, momentarily unable to fathom voluntarily adopting such a humiliating, submissive position in front of these three horrible women. Then, seeing no way out, she slowly unlaced her fingers from behind her head and reached falteringly towards her submerged knees, all the while telling herself the ordeal would be over soon.

The Black Queen’s plump tits skimmed buoyantly against the surface of the water as she bent forward. The tub was filmy with soap residue and shimmered in the glow of the bathchamber’s candlelight. Her face came to rest mere inches above the water, and she imagined with horror that she could make out her reflection: naked and bowed in supplication before a gang of common churchwomen, a greasy block of soap stuffed degradingly in her mouth like an apple in a roasted pig.

Worse, she knew what was coming, and indeed no sooner had she assumed her demeaning pose than she felt Sister Ruth’s brush make contact with her defenseless bottom. Roughly spreading the Queen’s cheeks apart with one hand, the fat nun scrubbed up and down and inside the tender valley of Isabella’s buttocks. Despite the bulkiness of the cleaning implement, she managed to wedge the brush deep into the cleft between the captive monarch’s spread cheeks, her thrusts finding their way into its furthest recesses.

“Muuuuuh…fuuuuuhmph…fuuuuhph” the Queen grunted while behind her rigid bristles scoured her asshole.

Finally, Sister Ruth withdrew the brush. Queen Isabella maintained her position, waiting for her next degradation as soap suds bubbled gradually out from her backside and dribbled down her thighs. Hands gripping her knees, she lifted her face apprehensively to find Sister Genevieve looking down at her with an insufferable smirk.

“Very good, My Lady. You’re looking so fresh and clean. Here. I’ll take that nasty soap. I’m sure you’ve learned your lesson about proper language.”

The young initiate reached down and jostled the Queen’s makeshift gag. Isabella stretched her lips as wide as she could to allow the soap to slide free. Her jaw ached. A thick white film ringed her mouth like a fake beard. She choked and sputtered trying to rid her mouth of the bitter residue.

As she leaned over, coughing and spitting, a fat hand gripped the back of her head and shoved her under the water. Unprepared, Isabella flailed in panic. Twisting her body, she managed push her face above the surface just long enough to suck in a quick breath before being forced back down by both nuns. Fully submerged and too disoriented to mount an effective resistance, the Queen splashed impotently while two sets of hands fondled her body up and down in a final forcible rinse.

Then they grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her to her feet. The Queen gasped for air. Her hair was plastered around her face like a wet mask, blinding her. Supporting her weight, they led her dripping out of the pool onto the tiled bathhouse floor.

“This way, Sisters,” she heard Sister Agnes say, “Help Lady Isabella up onto the bench. This one here”

Isabella tried feebly to shake some of the water and hair from her eyes, stumbling along guided by the women gripping her arms. After a few halting steps backwards, her hip struck the edge of one of the low wooden tables that ringed the central bath. The nuns forced her up onto the hard flat surface and swung her long slender legs off the floor. Positioning themselves on either side of the table, they pulled her down onto her back so that her nude body was draped across its surface like a ritual sacrifice upon an altar.

Through a break in the damp curtain of her disheveled hair, Isabella watched Sister Agnes approach. A small blade glinted in her hand, and, for a terrifying moment, Isabella feared that they really did mean to sacrifice her, cut her open and harvest her blood in fanatical tribute to their God.

But, recognizing the flat edge of a barber’s razor, the Queen’s panic ebbed. Sister Agnes placed the razor on the bench beside Isabella’s naked body. Next to the blade, she placed a small wooden bowl filled with a sweet-smelling balm. Then the old nun left for a moment, returning with a silver bowl filled with water.

Isabella watched with something approaching curiosity as the stern woman began to mix the sticky cream with a small brush. Then, with pursed-lipped efficiency, she began to spread the mixture over Isabella’s legs. The Queen flinched at the first cool touch but forced herself to remain still. Clearly, some tenet of this absurd ritual required her legs to be cleanly shaven.

Though some still regarded the practice as a mark of wantoness, shorn legs had long been in fashion amongst the younger noblewomen at court, and, in truth, Isabella had last shaved shortly before riding out for Malburgh. But if these zealous harpies wished to give her legs a fresh grooming, they were welcome to it, so long as they hurried up about it and took care not to nick her skin.

The cream tingled. Isabella made a conscious effort to slow her breathing while the humorless old nun took the razor and scraped off swath after swath of the sticky salve from the captive monarch’s legs, leaving only smooth white flesh. When she was done, Sister Agnes took a damp cloth and wiped off the remaining residue.

Thinking her humiliating “purification” might finally be nearing completion, Isabella made a tentative attempt to rise, but Ruth and Geneveive pulled her roughly back down onto the wood tabletop. Sister Agnes ran her brush around the bowl of ointment and then began spreading the cream under Isabella’s arms. The sensation tickled, and the pinioned noblewoman gasped and writhed involuntarily. In her impassive, businesslike manner, the old nun then scraped the Queen’s armpits clean before returning to her balm.

This time, the nun’s brush dove between Isabella’s legs. The Queen let out an undignified squeak of surprise and her torso jerked upwards as, without warning, Sister Agnes slapped a moist dollop of cream down on top of her naked crotch and began to slather the Queen’s pubic area with the frothy mixture. Scooping another glob of cream onto her prisoner’s exposed genitals, the nun swabbed the region around Isabella’s royal loins with what seemed like greater thoroughness than she had devoted to her legs and armpits.

Having meticulously saturated the Queen’s pubic hair with the white ointment, Sister Agnes spread Isabella’s thighs apart with a brusque yank and directed her brush strokes downward, leaning forward in the candlelight like a painter refining small details on her masterwork. The bristles tickled unbearably as they were dragged slowly and methodically up and down the tender lips of Isabella’s womanhood. The Black Queen squirmed.

Finally, Sister Agnes grabbed Isabella’s ankles and lifted her legs into the air like an infant having its soiled nappy removed. Holding her captive’s ankles aloft with one arm, the nun continued to spread the ointment, coating the remainder of the Queen’s lewdly exhibited vaginal region before sweeping lower with her brush down across Isabella’s taint and finally between the cheeks of her buttocks.

Briefly, the Queen caught the eyes of the two women who loomed over her, pinning her down. Both were wearing smiles of repressed mirth. Their gaze flitted back and forth between their prisoner’s shamed face and the long supple legs which their colleague held aloft as she continued her degrading ministrations. Lifting her head slightly, the Queen could just barely see, beyond the slope of her mountainous breasts and past the quavering wall of her hoisted thighs, the bathhouse entryway and, beside it, the Bishop’s guardsman, standing with the perfect view of the monarch’s upraised hindquarters. She let her head to fall back against the tabletop and squeezed shut her eyes, willing herself to endure the humiliation.

She felt the brush strokes swabbing her bottom slow and then cease. Sister Agnes released her ankles, allowing her legs to drop. Before her limbs even came to rest, she felt the sharp edge of nun’s razor against her pelvis. With continued precision, the old woman scraped the blade across the moistened tangle of the Queen’s pubic hair, ripping it free silky black clumps that she flicked deftly to the side before rinsing her instrument and returning for another pass.

Isabella gritted her teeth, ignoring the occasional flashes of pain. Having this hostile stranger wave this perilously sharp implement around such sensitive parts of her body, it was nothing short of terrifying, but she could do little but trust blindly that these women did not intend to maim her. She held her body as motionless as she could manage, trying to give the old nun no excuse to draw blood.

Isabella held her breath in alarm. Miraculously, her lead captor displayed remarkable dexterity with the razor, and none of her cuts broke skin, even as her attentions moved lower, carefully scraping stray hairs from around the lips of the Queen’s royal cunny. Finally, Sister Agnes once again lifted the Queen’s legs, curling her body back into the degrading, infantilizing posture that made Isabella feel so exposed.

Manhandling the monarch’s lower half like an unwieldy piece of furniture, the old woman reached all the way around Isabella’s suspended thighs and leaned in close in order to put the finishing touches on her shorn genitals before spreading the Queen’s bottom and scraping clean whatever sparse wisps of hair ringed her asshole. Then, after wiping her down with a damp rag, Sister Agnes ran a finger along the crack Isabella’s bottom, up through the crevice between her legs and down around to the flat expanse of her pelvis, gauging the smoothness. Satisfied, she set down her tools.

“Your purification is complete, Lady Isabella. You may rise.”

The two other nuns released her arms. Her face burning at the indignity to which she’d just been subjected, Queen Isabella slowly sat up, swinging her legs out to dangle from the table. She stole a brief glance downward and was confronted with the unfamiliar cleft of her womanhood, bare as the day she’d entered this cruel world.

The White guardsman approached, and Isabella instinctively placed a hand over her lap while drawing her other arm across her naked breasts, a ridiculous attempt at modesty after everything this man had witnessed. Suddenly, he tossed something at her.

A bundle of fabric struck her squarely in the face before tumbling down into her demurely shielded lap. She looked down. Another penitent’s vestment.

“Come, My Lady,” said Sister Genevieve, “We must hurry up and get you dressed. His Excellency the Bishop awaits.”

Queen Captured – Act I: Pawn

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First Chapter of W.H. Collins’s dark erotic fantasy. All fourteen chapters are now available from Amazon under the title The Fall of the Black Queen.

Note that this story is intended for mature audiences only and contains extremely graphic depictions of material that many audiences will find disturbing, including spanking and forced nudity. Nothing herein is intended to glorify or condone the horrific experiences which the protagonist endures, and the reader is strictly instructed not to take any prurient interest in this tale of medieval violence and sexual exploitation.

Her hands were bound. As the Black Queen struggled painfully toward consciousness, the dull discomfort of the rope entwining her wrists and the unpleasant sensation of immobility penetrated her fevered dreams and hastened the onset of wakefulness.

The Black Queen? Yes, that was her. The realization was an important corner piece out from which she could reconstruct the jigsaw puzzle of her situation. Her mind still straddled  the dizzying precipice between lucidity and the unconscious. In that twilight where one’s sense of place and of time and even of self become disoriented and elusive, the words were a beacon.

The Black Queen. Yes. Even before her father’s death had thrown the realm into chaos, people had spoken in terms of the Blacks and the Whites. The enmity between the court’s two most powerful factions had a long history, but it was the succession issue that brought the divide into focus, turning what had once been merely a rough, color-coded shorthand into a more-or-less official badge of allegiance.

Black referred to the black cross of the Duchy of Aardmore, the clique’s principal base of power and where the Queen had spent many of her formative years during her mother’s brief exile from court. White might plausibly have come from Whitehold, the coastal fortress that had more than once been the site of political intrigue by the Queen’s half-sister and her supporters, or from the white rose that was a traditional symbol of royal authority. Or perhaps the label came to be used simply because it was the opposite of Black.

Whatever the origin, the symbolism was self-perpetuating. As the Old King’s health worsened and the camps coalesced, nobles and knights and churchmen across the kingdom declared their loyalties by flying their faction’s colors: black gowns and white banners; black ribbons and white cloaks; black armor and white lances. There were neutral parties, of course, counselors loyal first and foremost to the realm, who in the Old King’s final years begged him to name an heir and unite his fraying kingdom.

Sadly, the imperious and long-reigning monarch known as the Grey Lion had always preferred to keep the succession card in play, sending ambivalent signals and intentionally setting the cadet branches of his dynasty against one another as a means of exerting his will upon his unruly barons. By the time the need for an unequivocal declaration became undeniable, it was too late. The rapidly deteriorating state of the King’s mental faculties was an open secret at court, such that any proclamation could be plausibly challenged later as a product of the Grey Lion’s dementia. For this reason, his advisors ceased to press the issue, and the Blacks and the Whites positioned themselves for an inevitable civil war.

Lady Isabella of Aardmore. The Black Queen. Yes. It was her birthright.

She was well aware of the arguments to the contrary, of course. Some claimed the annulment of King Harold’s marriage to Isabella’s mother had retroactively thrown her legitimacy into question. If so, then Joan D’Montefort, the eldest surviving child of the Old King’s second marriage, the vain, cruel woman now holding herself out as the White Queen, who might seem to have a viable claim. Joan may have been younger—twenty-two years to Isabella’s twenty-six—but she had shored up her claim with a strategic marriage to her first cousin, the Earl of Carteaux, the ineffectual, porcine pretender known now as the White King.

But Lady Isabella cared little for what the lawyers said. The Blacks had their own lawyers, who had their own theories, based upon Isabella’s lineage through her maternal grandfather, the late Duke of Aardmore, and upon changes to the laws of inheritance wrought by the Treaty of Barrington, and upon other more esoteric precedents that they assured her demonstrated conclusively her legitimacy. It mattered little. The Black Queen knew that power did not spring from the law; it was the other way around.

As the sides had positioned themselves in anticipation of the Grey Lion’s death, Lady Isabella had been pressured into a strategic marriage of her own. The elderly baron now hailed as the Black King, unlike Cartreaux, brought no royal blood to bolster her claim to the throne, but he did bring 200 knights, 1,000 footmen and extensive landholdings located in key regions. It was not a match that conformed to her girlhood fantasies, but the Queen recognized its expedience. And whatever conjugal comforts were beyond the capacity of her kindly but frail Black King could be amply provided by her long-time consort, the comely Sir William Cantor.

“. . . the Black Queen.” This time, the words were not in her head. Someone was speaking of her, and not with the tone of deference to which she was accustomed. The intrusion of the voice upon her dreams made her newly aware that the force that immobilized her, pressing her thighs tightly together and wrenching her arms behind her back was not the warm embrace of her Sir William as she had begun to imagine.

Captured. That’s what had happened. She had been riding north at the head of a full mounted regiment to relieve the siege at the Black stronghold of Malburgh Castle. She knew the risks of the mission. Yet she insisted on leading the Black forces personally against the urging of her advisors.

If God had seen fit that she should fall before the stout walls of Malburgh, that would have been one thing. But the manner of her defeat was more shameful, and, as her mind struggled haltingly into the present, a deep sense of dishonor awakened, more painful than her dawning physical discomfort.

Foolishly, she had ridden out ahead of her main contingent. She had hoped to see for herself where and how the White forces were arrayed. They were said to be under the command of Sir Stewart, the cavalier young knight whose service to the White cause had been distinguished both by military acumen and by sheer brutality. If she could outmaneuver the White Knight on the battlefield, it might decisively change the war’s momentum. Instead, she was ambushed before she ever got to the ridge overlooking the castle.

Ambushed not by Sir Stewart. Nor by any other knight or castellan fit to meet a queen in battle. Instead, in her carelessness, she and her small company were set upon by a band of lowly foot soldiers. No more than armed peasants. The last thing she remembered was seeing one of her men pulled from his horse and slaughtered. Then she had suffered a blow from behind.

Her Magnificence the Black Queen laid low by a rabble of ignorant peons. As the shameful memory rose to the surface, she squirmed in discomfort. Again, the alien bite of her bindings twisted against her wrists.

The smell of campfire was in the air. A cold wind snaked its way underneath her dress and chilled her bones. Her head aching and her arms stiff from confinement, the Black Queen finally opened her eyes.

She was in a small clearing, dense woods pressing in all around. Her body was propped up against a tree trunk. It was night, and, aside from the dim moonlight creeping its way through the foliage overhead, the only illumination emanated from a fire, which cast eerie shadows over the thick layer of pine needles that covered the forest floor.

Tending the fire, which had been built in the center of the clearing a little more than ten feet from where the Queen lay, was a figure in what had once clearly been a white uniform, though the jacket was so heavily caked in soot and grime that it almost reminded the Queen of her own soldiers’ livery. As the figure leaned in to stoke the flames, the Black Queen could discern the details of his leathery face. He had the grizzled, pockmarked look that was a badge of his serfdom.

Suddenly, the soldier looked over at her. The Queen tried to shut her eyes, but it was too late.

“Hey, Nollie!” she heard him hiss, “Her majesty’s up from ‘er nap!”

Opening her eyes once again, she saw a second soldier, equally dirty and disreputable, emerge from the darkness carrying an armload of firewood. He dumped it unceremoniously by the fire and joined his comrade staring in the Queen’s direction.

“Wha’? Are you sure she’s up, Red? I can’t see er eyes…”

“Sure sure. I jus saw er move,” replied Red, “Hey, yer majesty! So nice ‘o you ta join us!”

It was time to confront her fate, and the Black Queen gathered her courage. With a small groan, she did her best to pull herself up into a sitting position. Using the tree to take most of her weight, she raised her chin and fixed her captors with her most regal look.

“You there! What lord do you serve?” she demanded.

The two soldiers looked at each other. Red took off his dingy white cap to reveal a gray and patchy mat of hair that left no clue as to the origins of his name. Nollie, several decades his junior and some two feet his superior, scratched his facial scruff nervously.

“What lord you reckon we serve, Nol?” Red said. “I meself grew up on the estates of Lord Gascon, but that was before the Old King stripped ‘im of ‘is lands an’ granted ‘em to the Earl of Tallybrook. Now Tallybrook married ‘is daughter to some nephew of ‘Ouse of Cartreaux as best I understan’ . . .”

“You will unbind me at once,” the Queen interrupted in exasperation. “You will bring me at once to your commanding officer that we may discuss terms.”

“Oh,” Red responded, knitting his brow and nodding slowly in showy consideration of the Queen’s words, “So that’s what we will do. You get all that, Nollie?”

Nollie simply looked nervously back and forth between Red and the Queen.

“I’m sure glad you woke up, Yer Majesty, to tell we aimless pawns what we will do. Why, I was jus’ wondering what I will do. Wasn’ I, Nol?”

Red cautiously sauntered closer to the Queen, making an awkward snuffling noise that might have been some sort of a chuckle. He stopped just short of where she lay, propped up in her uncomfortable half-sitting position, and examined her. His eyes glazed over, transfixed in wonder. The Queen squirmed, causing the ropes wrapped round her legs to dig painfully into her thighs.

She looked up, and, for a brief instant, the Queen saw herself reflected in the peasant’s yellowing, sunken eyes. It was said she was a beautiful woman, the most beautiful in the realm if her flatterers were given any credence at all. But even her detractors could not deny her striking, delicate features nor the way her intense green eyes were set off by stunning cascades of dark black hair, creating a face that had inspired a hundred poems.

And her body. Her body had captured the attention of every man at court. Her corsets could barely contain her ample chest, and many a male courtier and ambassador had longed to glimpse the long legs and shapely bottom that were no doubt contained underneath the flowing black gowns she always favored.

At the moment, however, that flowing black gown was covered in pine needles, and that near-to-bursting corset was threatening to suffocate her. As the Black Queen looked up at the rough face of her captor, she felt herself recoil. Her shame and anger were joined by the first hints of an emergent panic.

“Well? Release me, footman. I am the trueborn daughter of King Harold the Grey Lion and his rightful heir. Do you understand?  I wish to speak to your superiors. You marched on Malburgh with the butcher Sir Stewart, yes? I would treat with the White Knight at once. Take me to him. I will not wait on the morrow.”

Red let out a low whistle.

“We’d ‘eard that the Black Queen was a pretty one, but the stories don’t do it no justice. Ain’t that right, Nollie?”

“She’s pretty all right, Red,” Nollie agreed.

Red crouched down and brought his haggard face within inches of the Queen’s. The smell of onions and roasted forest animal clung to his breath.

“How about a liddle kiss for ol’ Red, Yer Majesty? It gets awful lonely out ‘ere on patrol, it does.”

The Queen felt as she might vomit, but, instead, she spit. Gathering what little moisture she could from her parched mouth, she managed to land a modest gob of saliva just below Red’s eye.

“You will release me at once! I shall report the disrespect you have shown me to your commander!” she said, her tone of command undercut by a faint note of hysteria. “I shall . . .! You will . . . !”

“Nasty nasty. Wut kinda manners is they teachin’ at the palace nowdays?”

“Even I knows better than tuh spit on people, Red,” contributed Nollie, still standing several feet away, fiddling nervously with his coat buttons.

The impertinence of these common soldiers was now beyond all belief. She itched with the urge to land a blow across this arrogant peon’s cheek with the back of her hand, a move she had honed to stinging perfection over the years on her own servants, and reflexively she attempted to rise. Immediately, her ropes squeezed, and she rocked back against the tree with a thud.

As she lay there, her muscles quaking with fury, Red placed his hand on her knee and bent forward to place a wet kiss on her collarbone, which protruded ever so slightly from the ruffled neckline of her gown. Queen Isabella’s eyes went wide in complete disbelief.

“You-… I’ll have you-… you’ll be lashed for this!… Lashed, do you hear?!” she sputtered, struggling to squirm away from the defiling touch of this upstart Pawn.

“Lashed? Oh yes, I’ve been lashed before,” responded Red with a toothy grin.

“Yeah, me too, Red!” contributed Nollie, “Yuh don’t serve wif Sir Stewart’s men too long without takin’ a lashing or two.”

Red grabbed one of the Queen’s ankles and gave it a sharp tug, pulling her roughly away from the tree. Her head hit the soft dirt with a gentle bump and a crackle of leaves. Her pinioned arms twisted beneath her, eliciting from her a yelp of pain. Red stood over the Black Queen with a foot on either side of her torso, preventing her from wriggling away.

“You see? We’re lashing hexperts, you might say. Why, once, when I was a boy, the old Duke of Aardmore, your grandfather if I know me noble fammy trees, he n’ his house was guests of Lord Gascon. To shorten what’s a might lengthy story, I got caught peepin’ on the Lady Aardmore when she was at her bath. The Duke had me lashed like I never been before and since. Lashed me Ma and Pa and me old Nana too for me wicked upbringing while he was at it. And me Pa never was the same from that day. Oh I been lashed no denying.”

The pockmarked old footman sluffed off his coat and tossed it over by the fire. He untucked his shirt from his trousers and raised it to demonstrate. Indeed, his skin was marked by a latticework of long, beveled scars. He let his shirt drop and leaned down towards the bound noblewoman at his feet.

“Question is: Have you ever been lashed, Yer Majesty?”

The Queen was so stunned she stopped struggling for a moment.

“Have I-. . . Lashed? I most certainly have not, you filthy cur! You- You shall release me if you wish to keep your heads!”

“Never had to take a bit of the lash, eh? Well no wonder yer manners hain’t fittin’ a proper young lady. Yer daddy good King Harold hadn’t time to take you cross ‘is knee give that arrogant royal bottom a lesson, that it? Nor your granddad the Duke, may the son of a whore get buggered in ‘ell, ‘e too captivated by ‘is pretty Black Princess to take a rod to ‘er backside when she needed it?”

Rage was convulsing her, and, as her breathing escalated, she feared she might suffocate in her tight corset.

“How-…” she panted, “How-… How dare you!”

Before she could continue, however, Red grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her violently to her feet. Nollie joined him, and, between the two of them, they lifted her and pinned her face-first against the tree trunk. With Nollie holding her securely, Red undid the rope around her wrists, only to retie them on the other side of the tree as Nollie pressed against her back, holding her helpless and immobile.

Then, Red undid the knots by her thighs and unwound the rope that held her legs together. The Queen tried to kick, but between the two soldiers they were able to neutralize her while Red tied both her ankles tightly to the tree, fixing them on opposite sides of the trunk and spreading her legs slightly apart. Another stretch of rope was wound around her torso, just above her hips and knotted tightly on the other side of the tree.

The Black Queen was in agony, her arms pulled taught around the tree and her face and body squished forcibly against the bark. She began to scream, hurling incoherent curses.

“Nollie, do something about that noise, huh? Nobody around to hear it, but I don’ wanna go deef…”

Nollie found a strip of filthy cloth, a greasy rag that was probably used to clean the cooking gear. Red took it and forced it into the Queen’s mouth. With difficulty, he managed to wedge it in between her teeth and tie it around her head, muffling her cries of outrage.

“Spittin’ on good honest folks,” said Red. “Callin’ ‘em all sorts of nasty names. Where I was raised, that’d be more’nuff to earn Yer Majesty ‘er first taste o’ the lash. Yer lucky you ran into us, M’lady. You should hear the stories that’re spreadin’ bout your bo-have-i-or. A firm punishment, like yer daddy outta given you long time ago. I’d say that’s jus’ what you needa turn yer life round. Why, yer gonna thank us when this is done. . .”

The Queen’s head swam. What was this vile peasant suggesting? He wouldn’t dare raise his filthy hand to someone of her birth. She was a prisoner, perhaps, but a royal prisoner. White or Black, any lord who found out what this lowborn thug had threatened would surely see him hanged, drawn and quartered. She strained her neck to look behind her and tried to shout these same observations back at her deluded captors, but the angry words were muffled by the rag in her mouth.

“Hey, Red. I broke off a piece of this here birch. Think this’ll do?”

Nollie handed Red a branch, from which he’d stripped most of leaves. It was two feet long and about half an inch in diameter at its fattest part. Red stripped off a few more leaves and imperfections before whipping it around experimentally. The Queen flinched at the whizzing noise she heard it make.

“Ooooh… I’m gonna injoy this, Yer Majesty,” Red said, wheezing with excitement, “me n’ Nollie here are gonna teach you some manners. We’ll see how high n’ mighty you act after you’re through with your liddle punishment…”

Even now, the Queen’s mind refused to process her predicament. Did they really mean to strike her with that crude branch? Never in her life had someone dared lay hands on her royal person in such a fashion. And to have such brutality justified as “punishment” was an affront too humiliating to bear. These White thugs could not possibly follow through with what they were implying: the rightful queen of the realm tied down and whipped like a servant or a schoolchild? It was unthinkable.

“Well… I’d say this is a rod fit for a royal behind.”

“Oh! Can we pull up her dress, Red?” asked Nollie, practically sputtering in excitement. “We can pull up her dress can’t we? When they whip the serving girls at the manor, they pull up theirs dresses. I seen it! Make them take off their dainties too! Yes I seen it plenty times! Bottoms just shaking out in the wind, naked as God made em. I seen em, Red!”

“You must think I’m a village idiot, Nollie. Wouldn’t be no proper punishment otherwise, now would it? You go ‘elp ‘er Majesty’s naughty liddle arse get ready to taste this ‘ere birch.”

The Queen gasped into her gag at hearing this exchange. The taller, younger soldier eagerly bounded over to the tree and bent down to grab the hem of the Queen’s skirt. Her eyes grew wide and she began to struggle, bucking and tugging against her bonds. Some of the dress was wedged in between her calves and the rope, but Nollie soon freed the material and began to shimmy it upwards, exposing the gauzy chemise that she wore underneath. He took a moment to feel the soft, thin fabric, rolling it reverently between thumb and forefinger, before tugging it upwards after the dress, bringing the Queen’s bare legs into view inch by inch. Isabella collapsed against the tree in helplessness, fighting against the tears of frustration welling up in her eyes.

As the footman pulled her dress up higher, he encountered the silk undergarments that Isabella wore for horseback riding. They were exuisitely tailored, their frilled edges circling tightly around her hips and thighs. The men paused in curiosity at the sight.

“Well, would you look at them fancy little bloomers,” laughed Red, “tuck that dress up so’s it don’t fall down, Nollie, then let’s ‘ave a look’t what Er Majesty hides beneef dem drawers…”

No instruction was necessary. Nollie had already bunched the skirt up and secured it well above the Queen’s waistline and was reaching eagerly for the string that tied her underwear. Though she struggled mightily against her restraints, the proud monarch was unable to prevent the gangly footman from loosening the knot and then, to her utter dismay, yanking them down to her knees.

The Black Queen moaned in shame through the rag between her teeth. Even in the royal bedroom, her body was seldom so exposed. She felt the cold night air whip across her naked skin, its violating caress circling the firm round orbs of her buttocks, down to the backs of her knees and then up the inside of her thigh to stroke her womanhood with its chilly touch. Never had her body been put on display in this fashion, its private curves mounted in the open air for the pleasure of strangers.

The two White soldiers stepped back to admire. Before them was an object of beauty to which nothing in their miserable lives could compare. The drooping, birthmarked asses of the whores down at the Hart’s Head Tavern could not possibly have prepared them for the long aristocratic legs or the perky royal bottom tied helplessly to the tree in front of them.

Red gave a whistle of appreciation.

“Anyone ever tell you you’ve got a damn pretty rump, Yer Ighness? Seems a shame we’ve gotta mark it up like this, but then how else you gonna learn your lesson and come out of this a good little princess, eh?”

As Isabella struggled against her bindings, she felt the rough bark of the tree rub against her naked crotch. It was a completely alien sensation and reinforced the abject humiliation of her situation.

Red stepped up to her and whipped his wooden rod through the air. With a flourish, he brought the stripped birch squarely down in the middle of the Black Queen’s captive ass.

Whizzzz. CRACK!

The Queen let out a gagged shriek. She had not been prepared for this sudden assault. The sting that the supple wood rod left in its wake overwhelmed her.

“Now, thas one, Yer Maj. Yer gonna take five more jus’ like that so’s you’ll learn better behavior. Then, I promise, me n’ Nollie will show that royal arse some better treatment…”

Whizzzzz. CRACK!

Another shriek. Nollie giggled and clapped.

Whizzzzz. CRACK!

The shock of the impact made the Queen jump, almost rising off her feet. Her naked thighs and cunt scraped against the cold tree. Pain, fear and humiliation pushed her breath from her in violent sobs, choked by the rag crumpled inside her mouth.

Whizzzzz. CRACK! CRACK!

Red gave her two swift lashes as she squirmed left and right trying to avoid the blows.  Deep red lines began to emerge across the Queen’s pale ass cheeks.

Whizzzzz. CRACK!

A tear rolled down Isabella’s face. Her posterior in agony, her arms aching from her restraints, the Black Queen felt she would gladly accept any death rather than endure this torment any further. To think that she, the rightful sovereign of the entire Kingdom, should find herself tied to a tree, her silk underwear pulled down around her knees, having her naked buttocks beaten by a pair of filthy foot soldiers. It was insupportable.

“There now, Yer ‘Ighness. Don’t cry. It’s all over. But I ‘ope you learnt your lesson. Sumptimes even queens get a bit naughty and gotta be punished. Ain’t tha’ right, Nollie?”

“Can I touch ‘er bottom now, Red?”

The Black Queen did not hear an answer, but she did feel one. With a noisy crunching of leaves, Nollie scurried up behind her and placed his palms over her sore and throbbing cheeks. With a moan of pleasure, he began to trace the circumference of the two luscious globes, rubbing her ass down with his outspread hands in large, circular motions.

Overcome by shame and indignation, the Queen could only shut her eyes as Nollie continued his frantic exploration of her naked bottom. He began to knead and squeeze her cheeks, pushing them up and down, back and forth, playing with the Queen’s buttocks like a hyperactive child playing with a new toy.

Nollie gave his plaything a few light slaps before resuming his eager manipulation. He squeezed her ass cheeks together, then pulled them apart, exposing her more fully to the cold night air. The Queen shivered from the shock.

“Ohhhhh…” breathed Nollie, peering down at the pucker of her asshole. “Red! Red! Can I?” The Queen froze. Behind her, Nollie was making eager slurping sounds as, in near-ecstasy, he began to lick his index finger up and down.

In a moment of sheer horror, the Queen felt a single, slimy finger graze its way down her crack and come to rest just outside her anus. Her eyes opened wide as it began to twist, pushing its way inside her with a slow insistence. She wanted to scream and kick, but the best she could manage were muffled cries and a frantic bucking of her lower body that only pushed the finger in deeper.

“Ohhhh-ho…”

As Nollie’s right hand invaded her asshole, his left hand continued to knead the fleshy cheeks that surrounded it. He gave her a few playful slaps and worked his finger in deeper. A few feet behind them, Red was laughing.

“Oh, if only yer ladies’n-waiting could see you now, Yer Majesty. Tied to a tree with a finger up yer bum! How’s she treatin’ you, Nollie?”

Nollie was grinning from ear to ear.

“Jus’ fine, Red. Oh, she’s a pretty one. Real pretty.”

“You’d bes’ loosen up and let ol’ Nollie in, Yer Maj, or you’ll be gettin’ another taste of the switch…”

To illustrate his point, Red walked up beside her and began to deliver a series of stinging blows with the palm of his hand to her already-tender ass. The Queen bit down hard on the dish rag between her teeth. Meanwhile, Nollie had worked his finger in almost up to the knuckle.

“Awright, Nol. The Queen’s had her punishment. You’ve had yer fun. I think it’s time she showed us some royal treatment, doncha think?”

“Oh, sure, Red. Sure.”

Nollie pulled his finger out of her ass and walked around to the front of the tree, where he began untying the Queen’s wrists. As soon as her arms were free, she began to fight, but the footman was too strong for her. He managed to grab both wrists and pull them both behind her, where Red was waiting to retie them. Once her flailing arms were secure, Nollie pinned her legs against the tree as Red carefully released her lower half. Then, between the two of them, the men lowered her down to the forest floor.

Red climbed on top of her as Nollie tore away her silk undergarments with a long rip that seemed to echo across the forest clearing. He grabbed her legs to keep her from kicking. Breathing heavily, sweating excitement through his pores, Red violently pushed her dress up past her waist. He paused for a moment, staring down at the elegantly trimmed patch of black pubic hair. Still pinning her shoulder down with one hand, he reached down with the other to feel the soft folds of her pussy.

As he did so, the Queen realized with horror how moist she was. It was a response her body had always had to danger. She often found herself growing damp as she rode into battle, never aroused exactly but certainly stimulated in some sense. She was mortified that this physiological response might now look like a sign of pleasure to her captors.

“Well, what have we here? It looks like we won’t be needing to use that bacon grease after all, Nollie. Her Majesty’s been gettin’ all hot and bothered.”

She struggled with all her might, trying to knock the old peasant off her, but the two footmen held her firm.

“I’d lie a liddle more still if I was you, Yer Ighness…” hissed Red, and from behind his back, he produced a large hunting knife.

The Black Queen was terrified, and, for a few moments, did indeed lie still. Red grabbed the collar of her beautiful black gown and began to saw at it with the knife. Immediately, it began to tear, and Red continued to slice his way down the dress’s front, mutilating the expensive vestment beyond recognition. Eventually, her corset was exposed. Red began to slice away at the strings that held it tight, finally tearing it asunder and allowing the Queen’s bountiful breasts to pop free.

The Black Queen screamed into her cloth muzzle. She was completely helpless and exposed. Tatters of her dress hung here and there, but her body was largely laid bare, exposed to the cold wind and the cruel whims of this leathery goblin.

Red, for his part, was dumbfounded by the huge, gorgeous bosom that the Queen’s corset had concealed. He reached down and grabbed one of the immaculate white mounds, squeezing and caressing it. He took hold of one of her nipples and began to pinch it, rolling it between his thumb and forefinger.

“Jeeeezuz… Will ya look at that, Nollie? I hain’t never seen a whore wif ninnies that big. Has you?”

“They’re big awright, Red,” replied Nollie, putting more pressure on the Queen’s legs to prevent a new fit of kicking.

Red let go of her breasts and reached for his crotch. He unsnapped the white trouser flap, and, with some careful pushing and tugging, released his throbbing erection into the chilly night air. When the Queen saw this, she began to struggle all the more, and Red was forced to pin her shoulders down once again.

Nollie backed off a little, and Red maneuvered himself between the Queen’s legs. Using his right hand to guide, he slowly eased the head of his penis inside her. Shrieking and sobbing beneath her gag, the helpless monarch tried her best to pull away, but Red, with his superior leverage, was able to force his stiff cock deeper and deeper into her.

“Ohhh, Lordy,” he groaned, “if me ol’ Pa could see me now. I may notta had the luck to be born a gentleman, but, by God, at least He’s given me the chance to fuck a proper lady.”

As he humped her squirming body, the Queen’s legs began to lash out, landing a series of ineffective kicks on Red’s back. Ignoring this futile resistance, he grabbed her breasts, using this fleshy handhold for support as he pounded away at her.

In no time at all, however, the aging soldier came to the end of his stamina. With an appreciative moan, he thrust one last time into the Queen and stopped. With a wave terrible nausea, she imagined she could feel his penis pulsate and expel its grotesque load inside her body.

“Ahhhhh…” sighed Red, pulling out and rising to his feet, “Yer Ighness is a damn fine fuck, I must say. I hain’t tasted a tart that juicy in years.”

“My turn, Red? Huh?” asked Nollie, clapping his hands together absent-mindedly and bouncing around the Queen’s prostrate body in anticipation.

“Sure sure. She’s all yers, Nol’. Jus’ be quick. It’s almost dawn, and we gotta meet up with ‘Is ‘Oliness.”

Using what little energy she had left, the Black Queen rolled over onto her stomach and attempted to rise to her feet, the tatters of her dress and corset still hanging off her shoulders. She did not manage a single step, however, before Nollie grabbed her around the waist and held her tight.

“Red! Red! Help me get ‘er dress off!”

Red rebuttoned his trousers and picked up his knife. With Nollie holding her steady, he went to work on the remainder of the Queen’s clothing. With a few well placed slashes and rips, the black dress fell loosely to the pine needles below. The Black Queen was completely naked, shivering against the cold and struggling in Nollie’s arms.

Nollie dragged her over to a small boulder stump near the campfire and roughly forced her down on her knees and over the rock. Red came over to assist by pinning down her torso, smashing her breasts down against the cool stone and forcing her ass up into the air.

“You ever been fucked like a dog, Yer Majesty?” asked Red, smirking insufferably, “Cuz I think thas’ what ol’ Nollie here has in mind for you…”

The Black Queen shut her eyes, trying desperately to pretend that this nightmare wasn’t happening. She tried to imagine she was somewhere else: The beautiful gardens in the courtyard of the palace library where she loved to spend her afternoons reading. The woods near Aardmore Castle where she used to secretly rendezvous with Sir William. Anywhere. She wanted desperately to escape, but she was jerked forcibly back to reality by the second White footman’s penis forcing its way from behind into her cunny.

Nollie’s cock was much larger than Red’s, and it took some insistence to get it inside, all the more so due to Queen’s intermittent and feeble struggles. Nollie had to grab her hips firmly and gradually guide his prick in between her pink lips. His thrusts started out slow, but gained momentum as he grew more confident.

“Ohhhh… Ohh yeah…” Nollie sighed as he started ramming himself ever more rapidly against the Queen’s ass, his belly making an almost comical slapping sound as it collided over and over again with her whip-marked cheeks.

With one hand, the younger soldier held tight to the rope that bound the Queen’s wrists behind her back, forcing her shoulders back and her head up as her naked body rocked back and forth against the rock over which she’d been draped. Nollie’s other hand gripped the Queen’s hip tightly, yanking her ass violently back into his prick as he fucked her.

The Queen’s second ordeal lasted much longer than the first, and, as the tall, gangly foot soldier continued to thrust his penis in and out of her, his fingers digging into her hip,  Isabella felt the merciful caress of unconsciousness arrive to relieve her of the pain in her arms and her chest and between her legs.

Just before she passed out, Queen Isabella dimly heard Nollie cry out in ecstasy as he released his disgusting juices into her defenseless cunt.

When she awoke—moments or hours later, it was impossible to tell—her naked body was lying next to the fire and covered by a dirty blanket. Staring down at her were, not two, but three faces.

“You…” she croaked. “You will hang for this . . . I swear it.”

The middle face bent down, and it was only then that she noticed the white miter billowing up from his skull like a misshapen toadstool. She knew this man. Thomas Trolwick, Archbishop of Evanshire. What was a man of his rank doing among these brigands?

The Bishop eyed her bare shoulders, sticking out from the blanket. He frowned a disapproving frown and crossed himself.

“Like we was sayin’, Yer ‘Oliness . . .”

The Black Queen cringed at the voice of the ugly old foot soldier who had beaten and defiled her.

“ . . . a powerful spell indeed. I swear on me father’s grave. She’s a witch jus’ like they all say, sure as the nose on me face. Soon as we capture her, she starts openin’ ‘er legs up to us, tryinta’ seduce us. Me n’ Nollie we resist as best two mortal men can, but what chance do we ‘ave gainst black magic like wut this witch queen ‘as. Before we can do a thing, she’s takin’ off ‘er clothes an’ drawin’ us into ‘er and sayin’- . . .”

“Enough!” The Bishop held up a hand with two raised fingers to silence the footman. “The tales of the Lady Isabella’s lasciviousness are well known. That she attempted to use her body to gain her freedom I have no doubt.”

“That’s just what she did!” exclaimed Nollie. “Lassivied the pants right off me. Right, Red?”

“Thaas jus’ wut ‘appened, Nol,” said Red. “Now, Yer ‘Oliness. ‘Ere’s yer traitor queen. All in one piece. Jus’ like we found ‘er. Or near as. She’s all yers. Now such service to God and the realm . . . why, I ‘spect that earns some reward, if ya beg me pardon?”

The Bishop nodded gravely and gestured behind him. From out of the darkness emerged two soldiers in White uniforms, crisper and more professional than those of the Queen’s two grubby assailants. Wordlessly, one grabbed Nollie and one grabbed Red. In one fluid motion, each pulled a dagger and drew it briskly across his victim’s throat. Nollie and Red both dropped to their knees in unison, blood gushing from their wounds.

As the death gurgles of the two footmen slowed and faded, the Bishop knelt beside the Black Queen. He fixed her with a pair of pale, empty eyes which flickered with reflected firelight. She drew her blanket tighter around her nude body and shrank away.

“You shall come with me, Lady Isabella. And we shall cure you of your wickedness.”