A Sort of Fairytale: Chapter 2

Previously: Chapter 1

An Author writes: This is… a hard chapter. It has a lot of bad things, mostly surrounding sexual violence. I know that a lot of people will find this extremely hard to take. At the start of the next chapter, Dev and I will put a mini-non violent summary in, so that if you wish to skip this chapter, you can continue the story without feeling too much out of the plot loop.

An editor writes:
When I was younger, the BBFC [British Board of Film Classification] had a simple rating system: U (Universal); A (Adult, but a child could attend accompanied by an adult); AA (Adult, over 14s only) and X (over 18s only). They also had an H certificate for Horror, at one point, which I find somehow adorable.

Rating: AA (Adult), for violence.

* * * * *

Eleanor came to for what felt like the hundredth time and blinked. Rolling sideways to the edge of the bed, she gripped the side and tried not to vomit. Her thighs were sticky with blood, and many other things she didn’t want to think about. Days’ and days’ worth of vile matter stuck to her like shit. Her shift was long gone, and her naked body was covered in bruises.

The first rape had been brutal, Lord Barnabas not even bothering to remove her clothing, simply taking her virginity with one swift movement. It was clear that the man enjoyed her pain almost more than the sex act. Her wrists were now completely without skin, having been tugged and manipulated for night after night. Not once had she been unbound, and not once had she been gagged, Lord Barnabas relishing in her screams. After realising the pleasure he took in her pain, she’d endeavoured to hold them back. All that had resulted was more sadistic behavior, perverted enough to ensure that she could not restrain her pain and fear.

Now, five nights later, she was alone again. She feared that he would return soon. Although he left frequently, the Lord returned time and time again, never seemingly tiring of his new play toy.

The previous evening, the two ladies from her first night at the keep had reappeared and taken her for another bath. The hot water had stung, but, by God, it had felt good. She could only hope that tonight would hold another such experience, because her skin felt sticky and disgusting. Actually, the whole of Eleanor felt disgusting. And yet, here she was again, in the exact same predicament.

She had thus far managed to push the previous five days somewhere deep inside her, where they weren’t real, they didn’t exist. If she was to survive this, she would have to learn to not care. Her mind felt blank, as though the only thing she could do was erase everything. There was no longing for home, no wistfulness, only an empty void in which Eleanor Baker no longer existed.

Once again, she tried hard not to vomit over the side of the bed.

The door opened and Eleanor squeezed her eyes shut, unmoving.

‘Maybe he’ll think I’m dead,’ she thought.

Instead, a rough hand grabbed her bound wrists and pulled upwards sharply.

Eleanor opened her eyes and gasped in pain, the burning searing through her. It was not Lord Barnabas in front of her, but another man, dressed in the familiar guard’s uniform of the keep.

“Up, whore!” he commanded.

Given that her painful wrists were being pulled upwards so strongly, Eleanor had no choice but to comply. In their ravaged state, it felt like her hands would disconnect if she didn’t follow.

She expected some clothes to be thrust at her, but none came. Instead, she was dragged from the room and down the corridor, naked and bruised for the world to see. It seemed as though it were not an uncommon sight, for no-one they passed paid them particular attention.

Eleanor couldn’t help whimpering, the cold air on her skin worsening the pain of her captor’s tugs. She stumbled down the corridor, mostly oblivious to his snarls as she fell and scrambled up again. Together, they wound down stone passageways, down stairs, down yet more stairs and finally out into the freezing courtyard.

Her feet were immediately seized with agony as the icy cold flagstones burned into her. She was yanked along, her captor, though fully clothed, swearing about the cold. It was only moments until they entered another door, but long enough for Eleanor to be frozen to the core.

This part of the keep smelled like a brewer’s back room and a dung heap all in one. A narrow corridor ended in two doors, one to the left and one to the right.

Eleanor was pushed roughly through the one on the left, stumbled and found her feet. She looked up to see a large group of men sitting around a table. A hearth behind them roasted a leg of pork, and mugs of beer were scattered around. Some men lounged at the table, others indolently in low slung chairs set around the room. The floor was covered in rushes, possibly in an attempt at cleanliness, only they clearly hadn’t been changed in a very long time and were filthy.

“The Lord sends you a present,” the guard who had escorted her sneered at the men. “Leave a bit for me, will you? I have to relieve Tompkins at the gate.”

As her captor left the room, Eleanor watched several of the men rise from their chairs with leering grins. Falling to her knees, she opened her mouth to beg for clemency, but nothing came out. As the first of the men reached her, she finally did something she’d been threatening to do since leaving home: she fainted.

* * * * *

Eleanor pulled her arms around herself and huddled in the corner. Her ropes had been removed some time in the last few days, but she didn’t know when. Her body was bruised beyond recognition, and there was more than one festering wound on her skin. She lay shivering on a pile of mouldy hay. The only food she’d been given in the past week, a chunk of stale bread, lay next to her hand as she stared glassy-eyed at the door.

Death would be a blessing now. Death would come anyway. She hadn’t needed to be told that, but it seemed to please many of the men in the guard quarters to do so.

Captain Harfoot, the head of the Silver Tongues, had paid her several visits. Most of the wounds on her body were down to him. Along with his shiny badges, he also had a shiny knife and a penchant for using it.

They had all told her she should die here. Whether she starved to death, or froze to death, or even bled to death, it would not matter: she would die, but it would be a slow and painful death, one where her eyes were held open to the very end.

The blankness of her mind, the reserves she had held so dear, had been stripped away. The absolute horror of the last week had taken any remnants of the Eleanor that once lived inside, and cut her down in a swathe of desolation and destruction.

Now, all she could do was lie here and wait for the end to come. There was not even strength left to pray for it to be swift.

Closing her eyes, she listened to the uneven sway of her own breathing. Eleanor was fairly certain a rib or two had been broken, and it hurt to both inhale and exhale. Unfortunately, not breathing only led to her passing out and then waking up again, in exactly the same place and in exactly the same amount of pain.

On the other hand, concentrating on her breathing took some of the edge off.

A loud slamming sound echoed in the corridor outside the room. She was in the guards’ sleeping quarters. There were three bunks lining the walls, articles of clothing and armour strewn around like so much rubbish. She was in the one corner not occupied by the beds, shackled to the wall by her ankles and left on her pile of hay.

It seemed like she was a commodity much like stale bread, or the clothes the men wore. They used what they wanted and, as far as she could tell, they took no care of anything they used.

Another loud clang echoed outside. It was followed by the clatter of footsteps clambering up the stairs that led out to the courtyard.

It was only when she heard the door to her room fly open that Eleanor even bothered to open her eyes. A soldier grunted frantically and dove through his wooden chest, throwing items around in his haste. Then the man straightened up and grabbed his chainmail breastplate off the end of his bed. He skidded out the door and slammed it behind him.

Eleanor sighed, ignoring the shouting that could be heard from the courtyard above. Just as she was about to close her eyes, a strange glint caught her attention. Shifting slightly on her pile of hay, she turned her head and her field of vision caught the glint again. She had to sit up to get a better look, which caused pain, but she did it nonetheless.

For a second, she could not believe her eyes, so she blinked and checked again, and then a third time.

In his haste to find his armour, the soldier had inadvertently thrown something out of his chest and it now lay within arms’ reach of the corner where Eleanor was held.

It was a metal pick. Used for scraping out the inside of chainmail grooves and horses’ hooves, it was a long metal implement with a sharp hook on the end. Reaching out with a trembling hand, Eleanor grabbed it and held it to her chest.

Her breath now came heavy, and, though it hurt more that way, she could not slow it with the creep of excitement that was now advancing through her. Carefully, almost gingerly, she placed the sharp end of the hook in the lock on her shackles, braced, and pulled back.

To her surprise the whole lock splintered and the metal band fell off her ankle. Picking up a lock piece, she noted the tinge of rust that shone all the way through. If only she’d known that one good slam against the wall would have broken her ties so easily!

Not that it mattered. There was no way Eleanor would have been allowed to escape alive, whether tied up or not. And just because something was clearly happening above, she didn’t think she’d manage it now either.

Not that escaping was her intention anyway.

Lifting herself from the hay, Eleanor winced and very carefully pulled herself to her feet. The first few steps were agony but she found if she shuffled forward, she could just about handle the pain. She was about to open the door and make her way out when a chill passed over her body.

Looking down at her naked, bruised form, a fleeting concept made its way into the haze that was her brain. She turned back, and found a simple makeshift tunic on one of the men’s beds.

It was her life; it was her death. She would not go to it naked.

Simply dressed, she shuffled her way back over to the door and opened it. The passageway was empty, and there were no sounds coming from further down. Edging towards the stairs, Eleanor felt the acid from her stomach rise to her throat. Swallowing it down, she slowly but determinedly made her way up the stone steps that led to the upper floor.

The rectangle of light at the end of the passage was so bright that she was momentarily blinded. Covering her eyes with her arm, she waited until they had adjusted and then she turned towards it.

The clanging sound of metal on metal, accompanied by incomprehensible shouting, came through the door and towards Eleanor. She didn’t attempt to make out the voices, or to understand. She just moved towards the door, her body on automatic now. As she was moving, the pain began to ebb and her determination grew.

Another shock awaited her when she got to the door. The courtyard was a battle zone, awash with soldiers. A group of armed men on horses were slashing at the unprepared guards in the forecourt, holding them at bay and reeling around in a loose pack. Despite the overwhelming number of keep guards, the horsemen appeared to be winning, slashing at the men below and staying mounted.

Through the din and confusion, Eleanor spotted a familiar figure.

Captain Harfoot was bellowing orders and wading through a crowd of his own men. His sword was brandished and his face purple with rage.

A memory flashed through Eleanor’s mind: the feel of Captain Harfoot’s knee pressing into her back as he pushed her down onto the hard cobblestone floor, his hand wrenching on her hair.

She swallowed, her eyes unable to leave her target.

As the Captain made his way towards the horsemen, more images of his savagery came to Eleanor. The bile rose in her throat once again and this time she let it come, tasting it like victory.

With sudden grace, she moved like liquid, stalking through the soldiers and ducking their swings. No one was aiming at her, too busy racing towards the invaders who now wheeled around in a circular formation, keeping areas free around the horses with huge cuts of their swords.

A horse went down, cut at the knees by Captain Harfoort’s great sword. Many of the soldiers around him had no weapons, clearly unprepared, and were simply moving towards the invaders as the sheer press of their companions compelled them forward. Eleanor moved between them, pushing her way towards the tall commanding figure of the Captain.

Her hand reached down to pull a hatchet from a dead soldier’s chest, not caring that it was soaked in blood and so heavy that it caused pain to her arm. Whatever pain she felt was nothing now.

This was her life; this was her death. She would not go to it without fighting.

She was close now, a few steps away from Captain Harfoot. The leader of the soldiers was now right up against the horsemen, slashing with his sword and bringing down more of his own men than he did the enemy. Although he slashed a gash here, threw stab there, he did nothing more than injure the invaders and none fell from their horses.

Eleanor didn’t see anyone else. She didn’t see the horses or their riders, or the soldiers as they screamed and yelled around her. She only saw him.

He was like a symbol for everything that had happened since she had been wrenched from her home. He was the bile that welled up inside her.

His back was to her, and he raised his sword in a huge arc.

The hatchet fell neatly into his un-helmeted head. The point was sharp and split his skull neatly in two. In slow motion, his bone parted, and the grey white sludge of his brains began to seep as the Captain dropped to his knees. Blood poured out, down onto the flag stones and splashing Eleanor’s feet.

She let go of the handle of the hatchet as it protruded from its anchorage, and then watched the man she had just killed fall to his knees.

Before her, a horse reared, its front hooves reaching out.

And then the blackness fell.

* * * * *

Next up: Chapter 3 [AA, contains violence]

8 Comments

  1. dev0347
    Posted 10 February 2009 at 4.46pm | Permalink

    First off, this is the worst chapter, violence-wise. Second, I think it sets up the character of Eleanor: she may have been victimised, but she’s not a victim. And, third, I would never have expected to have been pulled in by a medieval story, but there you go. I am.

  2. pseudonym
    Posted 10 February 2009 at 10.18pm | Permalink

    She’s going to be rescued by a really hot girl, right?

  3. Fort
    Posted 10 February 2009 at 11.59pm | Permalink

    This chapter always (i.e. this time I read it and last time) leaves me wondering “What the hell is going on?”. Like in a good way. Who are the people attacking Lord Harfoot (and thanks to YBN I keep almost writing Harlot)? Where does this take our heroine? Most people probably thought the story would be based around the Harfoot place. But evidently it wont be now. I am intrigued. Thanks Clom.

  4. Noodles
    Posted 11 February 2009 at 12.14am | Permalink

    I’m surprised she chose revenge over running. I mean, I’m not sure what exactly I would have done, running seemed easier. I guess at that point her will to die on her own terms was stronger than anthing else.

    I was also surprised at this chapter, the violence of course, but I didn’t predict her becoming a toy. I figured she would be a slave. They truely didn’t want her when they were done. And ugh, what did her father do to have her be the price in that way?!

    I can’t wait for the sorta fairytale part. Jeebus.

    But good chapter, I was running with her, racing towards him and it was odd. I literally let out a breath at the end of this one.

  5. Ringo
    Posted 11 February 2009 at 1.18am | Permalink

    *hides under couch with blanket over her head*

    I told you I wouldn’t like this part, Sez. But the end kinda makes up for it, because Ellie here is a fighter. And I like that.

  6. blue
    Posted 11 February 2009 at 8.15am | Permalink

    Very different in a VERY good way

    I like to think in images

    he hatchet fell neatly into his un-helmeted head. The point was sharp and split his skull neatly in two. In slow motion, his bone parted, and the grey white sludge of his brains began to seep as the Captain dropped to his knees. Blood poured out, down onto the flag stones and splashing Eleanor’s feet.

    My picture

    Kate in her hot black outfit slicing Viktor’s head moment

    and with that I’m off to sleep

  7. DaniZGE
    Posted 12 February 2009 at 12.21am | Permalink

    I really am finding it hard to not jump in excitement about the up coming chapter.

    again thanks for continuing this.

  8. Fort
    Posted 13 February 2009 at 4.10pm | Permalink

    I think this is like the last chapter of stuff I had read before. So the next time you update this story, it will be a brand new chapter for me. Looking forward to it, Clom. I also reckon the next chapter might give us a bit more insight into where the story is going.

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