I have no indication that Madeline sleeps. Her body is warm against my back, though she lays still as death. My dreams flutter somewhere between terror and happiness. Madeline is mine. Madeline is also my demise.
I open my eyes suddenly.
The room is quiet and warm. Lights filter through the glass and across the floor to the foot of my bed.
I stare into the silence, listening for the soft breathing coming from the bed near the window. There is none.
I jolt upwards.
"Where is John, Madeline?"
What the hell is going on? Is he training?
I stare at Madeline in disbelief.
"He left early. You should have seen him without his shirt," she smiled wickedly.
"I must go see him."
The fields were quiet this morning. Was the whole world quiet today?
The men were training in the field, but no sounds left their lips. All I could hear was the whirring sounds their weapons made, like whispers in the overgrown grass.
For a moment I felt something dastardly—a presence among the fighters that I didn't know. Madeline sat on my shoulder with no indication of tracking a presence.
"Where is he?"
"With his father," Madeline said softly.
I walked slowly towards the edge of the field, to the East. John and his father, Kyle, worked silently together by the river.
For the first time, I noticed the resemblance. Though Kyle looked faded, he had the cheekbones of his son, the worked hands of a peasant.
John was performing terribly. He turned to find me staring him down.
"Have you attended any classes?" I called out.
"Not a one, Master." I blushed at the address in front of his father, who bowed in my presence.
"Madeline," I called out, and she flew into the air, a burst of light and color, into my hand as the form of a long training branch.
"Stand guard," I yelled to John. He looked stricken for a moment.
I turned to move in sideways—a stance I hadn't held in a long time. I was coaxing him. Show me what little you know about this art.
He held his branch up with vigor.
He stepped in, leading heavily with his right foot.
There was something that my grandmother had shown me, a sort of maneuver that could catch an opponent off guard. It started by backing away, watching the opponents feet as they closed the space. If they led heavy with their right foot, lead with your left.
I switched feet to mirror John. He moved faster toward me.
After leading with your opposite foot, aim the top of your stick toward the bottom of theirs, spinning it out of their hands.
John stepped in, wide open. I backed up a foot more and swung.
His stick went flying. His mouth hung open as he watched it fall.
"I have never seen you train," he looked at me exasperatedly.
"I trained when I was younger," I nodded. "My grandmother was not someone who went easy on us."
John's father was smiling, so I shot him a smile. I jumped back into combat position, much to his surprise.
His father's form was much better. His hips were fluid, stable in the way they moved. He started to step in, and I matched him. But his hand held the stick in the correct position, and I knew I wouldn't be able to pull off the same trick twice.
He threw the weapon forward, straight towards me and I jumped. He was faster than he looked. His jabs were coming fast, I spun to throw him off. I pushed in a few feet.
I finally saw his opening, towards his feet. He swung in again, and I tripped him. He fell to the ground and stared at me, smiling.
"You truly are one of the best I have ever seen," he mused. He rose to his feet. "I heard what you did for my son."
I stared at him in shock.
"I am grateful to you," he sank to his knee again. "Though I hope you do not go easy on him."
I smiled. "Of course."
John stood indignantly behind me, staring at the ground.
"Why don't you take Echo back home or something?" Kyle said. "Your training is done for the day." John nodded.
We walked home in silence.
Suddenly his face lit up. A large group of women paraded themselves through the city. I watched where his eyes were.
Oh, my... The women smiled back at John, running their fingers through their hair and giving him doll eyes. I did not know the women of this village to be such vixens. One's dress cut a deep "V" on her chest, all porcelain skin. I felt stirring between my legs. Those thighs, those hips. How have I not drooled over them before? I bit my lip.
John looked at me in triumph.
"The ladies certainly are looking today, aren't they?" I could hardly hear him over their cooing. "Master?"
I nearly jumped. "Yes?"
"Were you... eying them?"
I smiled. "I believe I was."
He smiled suddenly. "At least I have that on you. I am pretty sure those women prefer men."
I glared at him. I believe they would do anything for the Queen. I shook my head.
"Do you throb today, John?" He mildly looked at me. "You haven't had anyone yet for the day, and probably wish to release into some bad-mannered woman."
He growled at me. "Yes, for I wish to release into you."
My breathing hitched. Oh, I needed it. Fuck, a ride on his cock would be just what I need.
"You fucking want it!" I jerked my head sideways to stare at him in disbelief. "I just insulted you and you practically moaned after I said it."
"Well fucking sorry!" I was blushing—and I had just accidentally admitted how I felt.
"Fuck yes. Little princess here needs my cock."
Madeline chuckled in my ear.
"So how 'bout it? I get cleaned up, I shove it down your throat?"
"You sir, are a pig."
"Really? I'm sure you have thought of worse ways to have me."
"Yes, on your fucking knees—getting milked."
"You wouldn't do that and waste me would you?"
"Who said I would waste you? I'd lap it up."
He stared at me. I felt nervous but goddamn, that bitch.
We were at the castle door, then climbing the stairs.
He ran into my room and jumped on my bed.
"Get off of my bed!"
"You said you wanted me."
"You said you wanted me."
He looked perplexed. "Will you empty me then?"
"Possibly, but Jesus. Fucking peasant. Listen to me."
"Are you getting off on the peasant-master relationship? If I do what you say, will you give me what I need?"
My eyes told him what he needed to know. He left to go take a bath.