"You said you wished to talk, sir?" Goldwyn turned to face the slaver. She knew she was speaking too fast, too loud, her words rushing together. "My sons and I have already expressed our gratitude to you for your hospitality. I do not consider that we have anything further to discuss."
"That is where you are incorrect, Madame." Esarhaddon moved closer to her, his hands reaching for her shoulders as she flinched away in revulsion. "From the first moment that you caught my attention, I knew that I must have you," he murmured as he reached out for her again.
"What did you say?" she gasped nervously as she took a step backward. Shuddering, she looked into the torrid pools of his sensual dark eyes, eyes which were smoldering with pure animal lust.
"Why must I always repeat what I say to you? Are your ears stopped up? Surely you can understand that I desire you!" His eyebrows rose questioningly.
"No!" she cried out in horror, her fingers clenching the bodice of her dress. Her heart was pounding, her breath coming hard and heavy.
"When I return to Nurn, I will make you my third concubine," he whispered hoarsely as he caught her, holding her trembling body tightly to his chest. "Until then I will seek my pleasure with you whenever I desire." He licked his way down her cheek, his beard rubbing against her face, his tongue warm and slightly rasping. The slaver could see the revulsion in her eyes, but her fear only excited him more.
"I do not wish to be your concubine or anything else!" Her hands braced against him, she tried to push him away, but his muscular chest was like a stone wall, hard and immovable. "Now release me!"
"Do not be foolish, woman! You should count yourself fortunate!" She was proving more difficult than he had expected. "Why do you fight me? Surely you must realize that an older woman such as yourself, no longer a virgin, has only a limited appeal!" His fingers dug deeply into her back. "There are far worse men than I who could claim you - evil men, wicked men! I am a patient man and a kind master. You will know my whip only when you displease me, or if you desire the soft leather lashes to massage you into ecstasy during games of pleasure." The heat of passion raced wildly through his blood as he looked into her frightened eyes.
"You have a foul mouth and the tact of a buffoon!" Goldwyn spat angrily, her fists clenched. "Only savages beat women!" She wished she had a knife to plunge into his heart, but she was defenseless against this brute of a man.
"And only savage women deserve to be beaten!" he warned her, for she had tried his patience. "But let us not bait one another upon this night. Even with all your insufficiencies, I am willing to buy you and your sons... that is, if you still wish to keep them." His patronizing voice held a hint of amusement. Damn her anyway! How he wanted her! His lust was high, and even though she was a contumacious wench, she excited him as much as any virgin! He would enjoy taming this cold beauty! He would play with her a while and then indulge himself in the satisfaction of the conquest.
"My sons?" Goldwyn gasped in horror, struggling in his unrelenting grasp. "Of course, I want to keep them! What sort of question is this?"
"A reasonable question... some people are glad to be rid of their children." Esarhaddon shrugged, the matter of little consequence to him. "I am considering purchasing your boys to be servants and companions to my sons." He looked deeply into her eyes, willing her to understand the importance of the gift which he was bestowing upon her. "Besides the betterment they will derive from being servants in my house, they will be given a great treasure which they would have never received in their own land - learning and knowledge - the skills of reading, writing and mathematics. They will not grow up in ignorance; you may be assured of that!"
He chuckled and then smiled at her. Her flesh was so soft in his hands! "You, a lowly woman of a conquered enemy, have gained favor with me in a short period of time. Because of this growing regard, I will be generous and allow you, an ignorant woman, to learn to read. Someday when you are summoned to my chambers, you will be able to recite poetry and play a musical instrument. Now that I have settled all your questions, I want you to remain very still."
"Why?" she cried out in terror, fearing what he would do to her.
"This," he explained as he embraced her unwilling mouth with his full, sensual lips, demanding entry with his probing tongue.
"You cannot! I will not allow this!" Goldwyn opened her mouth in protest, and boldly he took the opportunity to drive his tongue through the breach. His mustache and beard tickled her upper lip and chin as he tasted the succulent honey of her mouth. Gripping her tightly around the waist with one arm, his free hand probed deeply between her cleavage, grasping a snowy white globe and forcing its rosebud to rise against her will.
"My frigid Northern beauty," he gasped, "you should never be ashamed of possessing such an intoxicating bosom! Though your paps have suckled three babes, they have retained their bewitching charm and firm integrity! Ever would I wish to fondle them!"
"No!" she spat out. Once again, she attempted to push him away, but she might as well have tried to slide a block of solid iron up the steep face of a tall mountain.
Giving her protesting mouth a few more salacious thrusts of his rampaging tongue, the slaver grinned that roguish smirk which he must have spent long hours practicing before achieving such matchless perfection. His eyes blazing with carnal lust, Esarhaddon tore the material of her bodice to the side, revealing a soft white breast. She gasped as he squeezed the ivory mound in his warm hand. His tongue traced patterns of fiery heat down her throat and over her breastbone until his teeth firmly encircled her hard, rosy nipple.
"Damn you!" Goldwyn cried, incensed. "You are every bit the barbarous lecher I knew you to be!"
"And you find this quality very appealing, do you not?" Lifting his head from her outraged breast, he grinned at her in the most lewd fashion, an eye winking rakishly.
Goldwyn's hand flew back and slapped him fiercely across the mouth.
Esarhaddon's head jerked back, but he only laughed mockingly at her as he rubbed his hand across his mouth. "There is no refusing me, for I am your master! Tell me - does knowing that I control your life excite you?"
"No!" she shrieked as she jerked the cloth back over her exposed flesh. As she clutched the material protectively, her eyes flashed warnings at her tormentor.
"It will in time, once you become accustomed to the idea."
"Never could I grow used to being any man's whore!"
"Not a whore, Goldwyn; but a pampered concubine," he explained, his voice a little less threatening. "You would want for nothing, and your sons would have all the advantages of being trained in my household." He gripped her upper arms, forcing her to look at him. "But why do we waste words! I feel the heat that is building inside you! During the meal, I restrained my passions, but I will restrain them no longer!"
"Unless they are deranged louts, men of the West do not force themselves upon women!" Goldwyn hissed in fury. Twisting her arms, she managed to break free of his grasp and shrink away. "I would not expect you to understand such a concept, for you and your people have sunk into a pit of debauchery from which you will never extricate yourselves!" she panted as she faced him.
The slaver crossed his arms over his chest and laughed at her. "Given the chance, how many of your own men would do the same, justifying their actions by claiming that the lesser men deserved no better?" Esarhaddon would not let this fiery tempered woman anger him. He resolved to reason with her, convincing her of her error and his superior wisdom. "In days long past, the ancestors of the self-righteous Gondorians sailed to these lands and took many of my own ancestors as slaves back to their precious island. They forced the women to become their slave girls, mistresses and wives; others they sacrificed in their temple!" Was she unable to understand even the simplest things!
"I do not believe such tales! They are lies, all lies!"
"And I could never imagine that such absurd babblings would come from the mouth of an otherwise sensible woman. Goldwyn, be reasonable." The look of hot desire unmistakable in his eyes, he stepped towards her. Backing away from him, she felt the edge of the low table pressing against her calves. Quickly regaining his grip upon her shoulders, he grinned at her, his eyes holding hers captive in passionate bondage. "Do you forget so quickly what I have just said?" He felt like shaking her. "In my harem, you will not be considered a whore, but a respectable woman! Regardless of what falsehoods others have told you, concubinage is an honorable estate, for a concubine is a lesser wife, not a mistress!"
"I strenuously reject to being either!" Once again she raised her hands to push him away, but this time he caught them firmly in his own.
"Whether you object or not, my mind is already set. You will be my third concubine, a high rank in my household. I am a patient man, but I can be patient no longer!" His voice was a hoarse moan as he pulled one of her hands down and forced it over his heated shaft. "Can you not see how I desire you!"
"A lecher like you pants for every woman whom he sees!" Goldwyn yanked her hand away as though it had been thrust into a fire. The slaver recaptured her resisting hand in his strong fingers and dragged it again to the potent force that throbbed at the source of his masculinity.
"Satisfy this raging demon which you have summoned!" Esarhaddon commanded, his voice thick with desire. "Bid it come forth and find release in the cooling dews of your verdant garden of delight!"
"By all that is honorable and just and good in this world, I refuse this most odious proposal!" Once again she jerked her hand away from his grasp.
"Not a proposal, Goldwyn - a demand! Now stop these ridiculous protests and lie with me this night!" he rasped angrily. "Yield yourself up to my caresses! I can promise you that you will know such rapturous bliss that you will faint away in my arms! Surely since your husband has been gone, you have craved the touch of a man? Convince me that you do not enjoy this!" One of his large hands dipped low to the triangle formed by the juncture of her thighs, his fingers pressing firmly there.
Goldwyn knew that it was hopeless to try to resist the advances of this powerful man. He was inflamed, his ardor massively apparent by the throbbing bulge in his pantaloons. He would ravish her, no matter how much she protested. But perhaps she could forestall this disgrace. She had to escape somehow! She must return to the other women! She needed to think, to plan, but the hand which roved so impudently over her intimate parts had made her furious. How she wished she could kill him! She would never respond to him, the hated Southron!
There was no father, brother or husband to save her, no one to rescue her from the heated embrace of this brutal man! She must use her wits and rely upon her own resources. If the night's planned escape proved successful, she would never have to see this Southern scoundrel again. In the meantime, she must find some way to evade his advances! Though the thought of playing the coquette sickened her, perhaps she could make this lust-besotted fool believe that he had been successful in seducing her. Hopefully, he would be so flattered that he would be willing to grant her any favor.
"You are a very handsome man, sir, and perhaps you could beguile me." She laughed softly. "But you have given me no time to think and to plan," she murmured as she brought her fingers up and shyly touched his bearded cheek.
"Think and plan?" Esarhaddon's dark eyebrows drew upward in a questioning scowl. "Woman, you talk far too much and confuse yourself! You attempt to stall what is inevitable, Madame, but I will not be denied!"
"No, no, that is not it at all," she insisted, trying to keep as calm as possible. "You must understand, sir, that it will be difficult to explain this to my sons. I promised them that I would return to them tonight. When I do not go back to them immediately, they will be terrified. I know my sons, and they will hate you even more than they do now! Time is needed to explain that you have offered to... to wed me and give us a home." That sounded all wrong, she knew. "He is not marrying me; he is forcing me to be his whore!" she fumed to herself. "Just so he does not detain me any longer tonight and lets me go. If we can only get away, there will not be another opportunity for him to achieve his wicked designs!"
Her eyes lifted to his, and she discovered that his dark orbs had lost their anger. His look was pensive; no doubt he was weighing her words as he stroked over her hand. "Fritha is too young to understand, but he is not too young to sense when something is amiss. My middle son is a kind and compassionate boy; his heart will be broken to think his mother has been used despicably. The elder will be enraged, and perhaps will try to kill you someday. You have said that you want my sons to be servants and companions to yours, but you are building on unsteady ground if I do not reconcile them to the idea that I welcome this... this... arrangement." Her voice was pleading.
The slaver's eyes narrowed. "Your sons will become accustomed to this. You treat them as though they are weaklings! Forget them for now! I will not have this delay, for my loins burn hot for you!" he growled angrily, clenching her hand in a tight grip. "When I want a woman, I want her now!"
"I ask only for this simple boon... then when I am content in my heart that my sons understand that I agree to this arrangement, I will have a better disposition and hold pleasant thoughts for you." She hoped she sounded convincing.
"I am not seeking a better disposition and pleasant thoughts, woman! I am seeking passion and reciprocation of my ardor! I want you to burn with desire for me as I burn for you!" His breath came hard and heavy, and his face reddened under his tawny skin.
"Then, perhaps, sir, you can melt my icy heart with your amorous heat and fuel my fires so that they match your own." Goldwyn smiled, hoping that her blue eyes held the fire of sensuality. Her lips parted, she kissed him lightly, brushing the back of her hand gently across his cheek. "I have needed a man who could reawaken me, for my passions have been stricken by a long drought. But please, sir, not until I have made my sons understand."
"Your dearth will soon be filled, I can promise you that!" Esarhaddon assured her, the gleam of lust in his eyes. "But I will grant that there is a certain wisdom in your words," he replied, savoring the cool touch of her hand. Perhaps he should wait. What would one more night matter? There were plenty of other women to warm his bed. "If I agree to this delay, you must explain to your sons that, of your own accord and free will, you have accepted my offer and that I did not force you. Give me this promise, and I will grant you a reprieve until tomorrow night. Then I expect to collect." He chuckled, his dark pupils swirling deep pools that bade her to plunge into their depths and drown there with him.
"Thank you, my handsome Southron," Goldwyn whispered against his lips. She swept her long eyelashes down over her eyes, hoping that she looked at least somewhat seductive. Blushing, she drew aside the cloth covering her bosom and placed his right hand upon her breast. "That is all that I ask, and then I will go to your bed more willing. But tonight I must explain this all to my sons. Please give me time!"
His eyes gleaming, the slaver's hand kneaded the soft flesh of the ivory globe. "Only a delay, Madame, but I will have you in my bed tomorrow night, and you will enjoy it! Make no mistake about that!"
"Surely," she murmured as she touched the tip of her tongue to his lips and then sucked his lower lip into her mouth.
After the woman had been escorted out of his tent by the guards, Esarhaddon stroked his beard thoughtfully, his other hand resting on his throbbing groin. The Northern woman was unbearably obstinate, but he found that quality stimulating. She was not like the obedient women of the South who had been trained from childhood to accept their position as subservient to males. There would be a challenge in taming her, but he would tame this Northern beauty and she would beg to be summoned to his chambers.
He never should have allowed her to leave his tent without satisfying his lust, but, still, he reflected, perhaps the woman had been correct in one respect. If her sons never accepted him, there would always be trouble for him in the future, and, if possible, he preferred that his household be one of peace, where he could enjoy life and all that he had gained from his labors.
These Northern women were stiff-necked and proud. Esarhaddon thought back to the night before when he had ordered three of the other captive Rohirric women to his pavilion. After surveying their demeanor and physical attributes, he had rejected two of them as not being worthy of his further consideration. These he had consigned to his men for their entertainment. After some harmless dallying with them, the men had returned them undamaged. Only one he had found of sufficient quality to warrant a closer examination. Much against her protests, he had forced her to submit to his will, and then used her to his satisfaction.
"What was her name?" Esarhaddon attempted to recollect. His memory was imprecise for a while, for he could barely pronounce the foreign word. "Waerburh, yes, that was it."
Though the woman was a superb beauty, such a one as she would never be considered a worthy addition to his harem. After talking with her, he had found that she was a somber, listless woman with a mouth that seldom brightened into a smile. There were other faults with her that were even worse. He considered that should her wit be compared with that of a cow, the beast would easily prove to be the more intelligent. A man needed distractions besides those of a carnal nature, and while even a dull woman could satisfy his physical appetite, she would leave his soul and mind unsatisfied. But he had been hungry for flesh, and he had enjoyed her for the one thing she was best suited - a conduit for his lust.
Though Esarhaddon had found that Goldwyn oft spoke foolishly and impetuously, she had a native intelligence about her that he found appealing. In addition to this attribute, he had observed that she was a good mother to her three pups, controlling them with a strong though loving hand. A comely slave girl could appease his amorous needs, but the women who were chosen to bear his children must be of higher quality, and he would have a child from Goldwyn!
Long ago, the wise elders among the patriarchal nomadic people of the South and East had said - and said truly - that the wife was the tent pole upon which the whole structure rested. The woman was the one person who provided stability through famines, pestilences and wars; the one who kept the braziers glowing while the men were away on raids or at war; and the pillar and bedrock of the family. Without her, there was only the wasteland and the sorrowing plain, the hot, blowing winds of the desert, infertility and want. While in her tent or house, she was the guide and guardian of anyone and everything that fell under her influence. This had been true in regard to his own mother, and it would hold true until the last day.
Esarhaddon's two sons had been motherless since his third wife had perished in childbirth the year before. While the elder, at eleven years of age, was approaching puberty and his entry into the world of men, the younger boy was still very much a child. The boy still cried for his mother and missed his two older brothers, sister, and half-brother who had died. Being around this woman might be beneficial to the boy.
To fill his sorrowing heart and soothe his aching loins, Esarhaddon had taken a second concubine. A slave purchased upon the auction block by one of his agents, she was a loving, sensual creature who had soon become his favorite. As he thought of her in his restlessness, the slaver stroked his growing column. With longing he remembered how her dark eyes blazed in passion, her ebony limbs twining around him tightly when they clashed in the intimate embrace of love. He compared her dark, dusty beauty to a black pearl of the most exquisite elegance. Those fools in the West who spoke of the people of Far Harad as "troll-men" surely knew little about them or their women.
However, he feared that the burden of being mother to his two sons was far beyond the abilities of his young concubine. Esarhaddon had plowed and seeded her virgin field soon after he had purchased her, and when he had left for the West, she was growing large with his child. Soon she would be occupied with her own babe and would have little time to watch over his older sons.
Esarhaddon's other concubine, whom he had attempted unsuccessfully to fill with his child for seven years, was a selfish woman. While she did not openly shun them, he had always sensed that she was far more comfortable when his sons were absent from her presence.
This golden-haired beauty from Rohan, on the other hand, was far older than either of his two concubines, and had children of her own. Certainly such a motherly woman could open her heart to embrace two motherless sons. Yes, his sons needed a mother, and he had already chosen her. Though she rejected the idea, Esarhaddon was a persuasive man, and Goldwyn would soon come to accept him and his sons.
In the interim, there was the matter of the raging need between his legs, and he hungered to have that ache attended to as soon as possible. He looked to the eunuch who hovered nearby.
"Summon Kishi to my tent!"