Bring Out the GIMP (Girls in Merciless Peril)


By Eda Chang

Place: Europe

Year: 1457

Chapter 1

The walls of Duke Baldwin’s castle finally came into view after the two women had ridden the ten miles from Duke Alard’s castle. Beatrice turned to her riding companion, Sybil. “Now our work begins.” Beatrice, Alard’s 26-year old sister, three years his junior, had volunteered to ride to Baldwin on a mission of peace between the rival dukes, accompanied only by her servant Sybil, who was the same age as she. Both dukes claimed the banks of the river that ran parallel to their territories -- arable land whose crop output would double that presently produced by either of them.

Baldwin’s subjects hated Alard ever since he had taken control of the neighboring dukedom upon the death of his father, mostly because his father had not claimed the land that Alard now claimed. Beatrice expected that she and Sybil might face trouble before they even reached Baldwin’s castle, even though the white flag of truce that she held was clearly visible to any who might approach her. Beatrice hoped that her visit could allay tensions between the two men and give them a chance to resolve their dispute over the land before war broke out between them.

To her surprise, the few peasants that Beatrice saw on her journey seemed happy to see her. Probably, she thought, they believed that her white flag was one of surrender rather than truce. But it was not. Alard was not prepared to concede all of the territory to Baldwin, but he was prepared to negotiate. Of course he was, Beatrice thought. He wasn't really entitled to any of the land, as their father had recognized.

To make clearer that they were not surrendering, Beatrice and Sybil had not worn the civilian dress of a noblewoman and her servant, but had instead warn military-style clothing, even though they were unarmed. Both wore leather doublets above their waists, closed tightly by laces in the front that pushed their breasts upward, leather shorts and mid-calf boots that left bare their sleek legs. Beatrice also wore a metal armlet, carved to show her noble family crest, around her upper right arm, and carried the flag. Otherwise, it would have been difficult to tell the two women apart.

“We come in peace on behalf of Duke Alard to negotiate an accord with Duke Baldwin,” Beatrice told the guards at the castle’s gate when they arrived. Beatrice could see half a dozen soldiers on horseback just behind the two guards.

“Yes,” one of the riders nodded toward her. “We have seen you riding to us the last several miles. I am Radley, Captain of the guards and Duke Baldwin has appointed me as his representative.” Radley turned his horse and slowly rode toward the far side of the large courtyard inside the gate. His soldiers moved behind the women’s horses and the group followed Radley.

Chapter 2

When they reached the far side of the courtyard, the soldiers signaled Beatrice and Sybil to dismount. Two of the soldiers led all of their horses away.

Radley walked into an old building and down a narrow corridor. The women followed in the midst of the other soldiers as Radley descended a flight of stone steps and walked through a heavy door. When they entered, Beatrice gasped. The large empty room was a dungeon. While no one else was in the room, it was apparent from their condition, and from the dried blood on them, that many of the torture devices it contained had been used recently. A brazier in the corner opposite the door was filled with glowing irons. Chains hung at irregular intervals from the ceiling and embedded in the floor, all ending in metal cuffs. Toward the far side of the room was a rack, a X-frame and a wheel. Radley took Beatrice’s white flag and placed it near the door.

“Why have you brought me here?” Beatrice demanded. “I have come under a flag of truce. Under the treaty between Baldwin and my father, which is still in effect, you are forbidden to lay a hand on me !!”

“Just as you are forbidden to lay a hand on me,” Radley bowed to Beatrice. “Be assured that I am very aware of the treaty, and, even though your Duke Alard has violated it by murdering our subjects on land rightfully owned by him, we honor it, even if we are the only ones who do.” Soldiers moved to stand on each side of Sybil and Beatrice.

There has been bloodshed on both sides over that land,” Beatrice reminded Radley. “That is why I am here. To try to put an end to it.”

“Do not play me for a fool, Miss Beatrice." There was a sudden strain in Radley’s voice. “You and your servant have not come here to seek peace, but to obtain information about our strength and fortifications so that your brother can decide how we can be attacked. Your flag is a subterfuge -- which I intend to prove without violating the treaty.”

Radley walked between Beatrice and Sybil. “Exactly what does the treaty provide with regard to safe passage?” Radley looked at Beatrice.

“That you may not lay hands on a citizen of the land of Alard traveling under a flag of truce. I confirmed that before I left on my mission of peace.”

“Correct.” Radley nodded to the soldiers standing by Sybil. They immediately grabbed her wrists, twisted them behind her back and led her toward the wheel at the far end of the room. Beatrice quickly followed them.

“What are you doing? You can't do that.” Beatrice advanced on the soldiers, but two stepped into her path. She quickly realized that, if she touched them, she would be in direct violation of the treaty, which would forfeit her own protection.

The soldiers fastened Sybil’s wrists to the metal cuffs fixed to the sides of the wheel and her ankles to metal cuffs attached to the bottom of the wheel. As Beatrice watched helplessly, they pulled the wheel upward, removing all the slack in her body. Sybil remained silent. She was well-trained and accepted that someone else – usually Beatrice, sometimes Alard -- was always in control of what happened to her.

“I believe, Miss Beatrice,” Radley gloated in victory, “that servants are not considered citizens of your brother’s dukedom, is that correct? Just as they are not citizens in this dukedom. If you wanted your party protected, you should have come only with its citizens.”

“But she is under my protection!!” Beatrice screamed. “And protected under my flag!!”

“Which is no protection for her. Because she is protected neither under our truce nor under your own laws.” Radley moved to the stretched Sybil and grabbed her cheeks between the thumb and fingers of his right hand. “You understand that, don't you?” He moved his face close to hers. She stared at him but did not respond.

“So, while we cannot interrogate you directly for the truth,” Radley released his grip on Sybil’s face and turned around to look at Beatrice, “we may get the same information from you by other means.”

One of the soldiers began to loosen the laces holding Sybil’s doublet closed. Then he pulled the laces off completely and opened the doublet, revealing her breasts. Beatrice could see Sybil bite her lip in reaction to the exposure of her breasts to the leering eyes of the soldiers. But a second later another of the soldiers walked over to the brazier in the corner and returned with a heated iron, its end in the shape of a B, no doubt standing for Baldwin. Without a word he jammed it just above Sybil’s navel. This was more pain than Sybil was trained to receive and she screamed as the soldier held the iron against her skin for several seconds. When he pulled it away, her stomach bore a clear red B. Sybil shook her head and twisted her body, trying somehow to lessen the pain. A trickle of blood escaped from the side of her mouth as she bit her lip harder.

Beatrice was helpless to move past the soldiers to aid her servant. “Please stop. Please. What do you want from me? I've come here in peace.” Beatrice was frantic.

“I want the truth, that’s all,” Radley responded. “How were the two of you chosen for this spy mission?”

Chapter 3

“I am not a spy!! I have come in peace!!”

“This is getting tiresome, Miss Beatrice.” Radley again nodded toward the soldier holding the heated iron. This time he jammed it just under Sybil’s right breast. She again screamed, this time even louder than before.

“You have to stop !! You have to stop !! She has done nothing wrong !!” Beatrice pleaded with Radley.

“So you wish to take her place?” Radley could feel victory at hand.

Beatrice hesitated. “If I agree, how will I know that you will release her? How do I know that you will not simply torture us both?”

“You don't,” Radley responded. “You have no control over the situation. You are completely at my mercy.”

“Then I cannot give you two of us to torture, instead of one. My sacrifice will not help her.”

“You are right, my lady !! You are right !! Do not agree !! It will not help me !!” Sybil screamed her first words through her pain.

Two soldiers moved to Sybil and pulled her leather pants down enough to expose a brown triangle of hair. Then the soldier holding the heated iron pointed it between Sybil’s legs. Sybil’s body shuddered in horror.

“No !! Please !! Don't !! What do you want from me? You want the truth !! I'll give you the truth !! Tell me what I can do to make them stop !!” Beatrice screamed in desperation.

Radley did not respond immediately, but he held up his hand, signaling the soldier to wait. Finally, he motioned for the soldier to put the iron back in the brazier.

“Here’s what I want you to do first, Miss Beatrice,” he finally spoke. “Move back over there." Radley nodded in the direction of the X-frame.

Beatrice hesitated for a second, then obeyed, afraid that, if she did not, Radley would order the soldier again to pick up the heated iron.

“Now remove your doublet.”

Beatrice understood. Radley and his men could not touch her without violating the treaty, so he intended to have her strip and chain herself to the X-frame. Of course, after that, he still could not touch her, but he thought that the humiliation might cause her to confess whatever it was that he claimed to believe about her mission.

Beatrice saw all the soldiers staring at her. At least their minds were not on Sybil for the moment. Beatrice loosened the laces holding her doublet closed, pulled them out and then opened her doublet, revealing her breasts. Larger than average in size, like Sybil's, with small brown nipples that were hard and extended in fear that she could not hide. She slipped the garment off and tossed it on the floor several feet away from her.

“Next the armlet.”

Beatrice again hesitated. It was the one symbol that told the world that she was nobility. But what did that matter now? She pulled it down her arm and tossed it on top of the doublet.

“And now your boots and pants.”

Trying to block out as best she could where she was and who was watching her, Beatrice removed her boots, then pulled down and stepped out of her leather pants. She picked them up and put them on top of her other clothes. So, while Sybil still wore her boots, and her pants and doublet remained on her body, though offering her no protection, Beatrice was now completely naked. Instinctively, she tried to cover her body with her hands and arms.

“Cuff your ankles to the bottom of the frame.”

Beatrice looked down to find metal cuffs at the bottoms of the two boards forming the frame. She did as she was directed. When she finished, she was standing on her toes, her ankles secured shoulder-length apart.

“Cuff your left wrist. And then push your right wrist into the cuff." One of the soldiers closed the right wrist cuff tightly enough that, with effort, Beatrice would be able to force her right wrist through it, but would not be able to pull it back out.”

Having complied to this point, Beatrice again obeyed. When she had forced her right wrist through the cuff, her body matched the X of the frame, with her arms and legs running along it.

"Very good." Radley approached and stood very close to Beatrice's helpless body, but was careful not to touch it.

Chapter 4

“Look at your mistress,” Radley walked toward Sybil. “She could not help you before, could she? And she certainly cannot help you now. Why is she your mistress anyway? She looks the same as you, does she not? As naked as the day she was born. Yes, she has nice breasts, but you have those, too. And nicely spread legs just waiting to wrap themselves around a few well-endowed soldiers, as are yours.” He put his left hand on Sybil’s shoulder and pushed his forefinger and middle finger up between her legs, then pulled them out and held them in front of Sybil’s face. “Wet. I'll bet Miss Beatrice is wet, too. You are both excited at the thought of servicing my soldiers.”

Sybil looked helplessly at Beatrice and Beatrice, equally helpless looked back at her.

“Now, if you remember, we were just about to use our favorite dungeon toy.” A soldier appeared by Radley’s side again holding the heated iron. Sybil started to shake her head back and forth, as the soldier moved the iron parallel to the ground, a foot under where her legs joined, close enough that she could feel its heat but not close enough to burn her.

Beatrice screamed. “But I did what you asked. I did it !!”

“Yes,” Radley turned to face her. “And because you did, for now at least, we are just reminding you what we can do to your servant.” The soldier moved away from Sybil, whose sigh of relief could be heard throughout the room.

“You can't use it on me !! I have obeyed the flag of truce !!” Beatrice knew that she was the only other candidate in the room on whom the hot iron might be used.

“You underestimate me, Miss Beatrice,” Radley’s grin broadened. “The fact is that it is not meant for you, either, at the moment. No, we have a surprise for you. But only for you.” A soldier walked up to Sybil and jammed a wad of wax in each of her ears, then pulled a black hood over her head and secured it at her throat. Sybil’s body started shaking uncontrollably in fear, having no idea what might happen next.

A few seconds later, the door opened and two soldiers entered, dragging between them a woman by her elbows. She was face down, naked and hooded, with her wrists tied behind her back. A back that was striped with whip marks and burns from hot irons. Beatrice could see the woman struggling, so she knew that she was conscious.

The soldiers untied her wrists, lifted her face up onto a nearby rack. They secured her ankles to the metal cuffs in the corners of the lower portion of the rack and her wrists to the metal cuffs held at the sides of the rack’s roller bar at its top. The woman was small and thin. Lying on her back, her breasts rested nearly flat against her chest. Beatrice could now see that the entire front of her body, from below her neck to her thighs, were also covered with whip and burn marks as ugly as those covering her back. And, even chained supine on the rack, the woman’s entire body was shaking, her stomach twitching noticeably with each breath.

“Miss Beatrice, I do not believe introductions are necessary,” Radley walked over to the woman and pulled off her hood.

Beatrice was stunned. “It is … Phillipa !! It can't be !!” Duke Baldwin and Phillipa had married less than three years earlier, just before the death of Beatrice’s father, a time when the two dukedoms were at peace. Beatrice had attended the wedding. Three months ago, however, it had been announced that Phillipa had gone mad and been sent to a monastery. Later the duke released word that she had committed suicide. All had mourned her death. Phillipa certainly looked nothing like she had the last time Beatrice had seen her – glowing in her bridal gown on the day of her wedding.

“Yes.” Radley moved away from the rack and back to Beatrice. He spoke quietly to her. “Phillipa had not gone mad three months ago. No, she was caught screwing one of the duke’s soldiers.. She quickly confessed not only to that indiscretion, but to the fact that he was a spy for your brother and that she also had passed military secrets to him. He fled back to your dukedom before we could catch him and cut off his balls, leaving poor Phillipa to suffer alone the consequences of her double offense. For the first month Duke Baldwin just left her in a cell and allowed his soldiers to screw her at will. She was quite a good lay at first, I must admit. Small breasts, as you can see, but a tight ass and pussy. At least to begin with. But you can imagine what happens over time when a woman is being screwed and sodomized half a dozen times or more each day.” Radley paused to let Beatrice think about that.

Chapter 5

“But then the duke decided this was not enough punishment for her,” Radley continued, “so last month – right after he announced her death to the world – he ordered us to take her to the dungeon twice a week. You can see the results before you. Her body began shaking like that after we jammed a hot iron six inches inside her. We had to get more and more serious with her tortures, you know. We couldn't have her become bored with them. Now she’s never bored when she’s raped; it hurts her insides too much.”

Beatrice listened in absolute horror to what had happened to Phillipa over the last three months, particularly the two since her “death.”

“But I talk too much, and Phillipa is waiting.” Radley turned to the soldiers standing around the rack. The one holding the heated iron rolled its full six-inch length from across her hips up to her navel and held it there. Phillipa shrieked inhumanely long after he removed it.

“Sometimes we focus on hot irons. Other times on the whip. And now and then we insert needles. We haven't yet used the iron to penetrate her ass. We're saving that for later. And we've let her keep her tongue so far. She has learned how to use it well. She knows that, if she doesn't, things will be worse for her that day.”

“How can you be so cruel?” Beatrice had never felt such pity for another human being.”

“Miss Beatrice, she betrayed her marriage vows to the duke personally and then betrayed the entire dukedom. So, yes, her punishment is awful. But how else should a husband and duke treat such a treacherous and unfaithful wife?”

“Barbaric. That’s barbaric,” Beatrice’s eyes glanced at the still shrieking woman, seeing now that the soldier had jammed the tips of the iron repeatedly into her breasts. Beatrice had heard Sybil’s screams to one such poke. Now these screams were repeated one after another every few seconds.

“Why, yes, Miss Beatrice. That is the idea. And as soon as the soldiers are finished with the torture, three of them will rape her. Yes, only three. The others are no longer interested, and the duke has given them permission to withdraw from further participation in this aspect of her punishment.”

Beatrice could see five soldiers standing around the rack. One climbed on top of Phillipa. Her screams continued. Beatrice glanced over to Sybil, unable to hear or see, but her body trembling, knowing that something horrible was happening, and fearing that it was happening to Beatrice.

“She will suffer this way until none of the soldiers are interested in fucking any part of her body, as it becomes more and more disfigured. Then Baldwin will become her final lover – after all, she is still his wife – before he gives her the coup de grace by cutting off whatever is left of her breasts, stuffing them in her mouth until she asphyxiates on them. He will then have his soldiers drag her body to the driest spot in the land to feed the buzzards. She deserves no better fate.”

Beatrice was shaking and weeping.

“But look on the bright side, Miss Beatrice. That will not be for months. Phillipa still has much strength and our soldiers will give her much sexual pleasure between now and then.”

Beatrice forced herself to glance again at the rack, and saw a soldier rise from on top of the helpless Phillipa and squirt his semen over her chest and face. Then the surrounding soldiers unchained her limbs, pulled her off the rack, replaced the hood and dragged her out of the dungeon just as they had dragged her into it.

“The hood makes sure that only the duke and his soldiers know who she is. As you can see, we also made sure that your servant does not know. Now, Miss Beatrice. I can't believe that you would like your dear Sybil to suffer a fate similar to poor Phillipa. So we'll give you a little time to think about it.”

Radley moved to the door and signaled his men. All quietly left the room, leaving Beatrice alone with Sybil. Beatrice looked over at Sybil, still hooded with her ears stuffed with wax, unable to see or hear, her head slumped to her chest. “I'm so sorry,” Beatrice moaned, though she knew that Sybil could not hear her words.

Chapter 6

When Radley and his soldiers returned to the dungeon an hour later, they found both women’s heads slumped to their chests. Radley lifted Beatrice’s head and slapped her cheeks gently to wake her. Beatrice shuddered as she opened her eyes, remembering where she was.

“I have good news for you,” Radley held his face close to hers. “We are going to release your servant to deliver a message to your brother that Duke Baldwin has accepted your truce proposal while the two sides try to work out their differences.” Two soldiers released Beatrice's limbs from the X-frame. To their surprise, she did not collapse, although she was unsteady on her feet. They gave her a robe to cover her nakedness. They walked her slowly to the rack that Phillipa had recently occupied, and sat her in a chair at its side. Radley took a chair on the opposite side of the rack.

“Read this. If you agree and sign it, we will release your servant to deliver it to your brother.”

Radley pushed two sheets of parchment to Beatrice. She read them slowly and carefully: “To my dear brother, Duke Alard: Duke Baldwin has received me graciously and responded most favorably to my mission to seek a truce while you discuss resolution of your differences over the disputed lands. Please send him your emissary with authority to negotiate a final peace. In the meantime, I have decided to remain here under Duke Baldwin’s protection.” Beatrice turned to the second page. “I look forward to a long future of peace and harmony between the two dukedoms. Your loving sister.”

“Yes,” Beatrice looked at him. “I will sign. Your release of my servant and Duke Baldwin’s positive response to my request for a truce are quite acceptable.”

“Very good. I will give it to your servant to transmit. She will thus be released, as you have wished, but you will remain here to ensure that there is no betrayal on your brother’s behalf. I will have one of my soldiers accompany your servant to your brother’s castle to ensure her safety.”

Radley nodded over to two soldiers standing near Sybil’s still stretched body on the wheel. They released her limbs from their cuffs and pulled her off it and to the floor. They removed the hood and wax from her ears. Sybil blinked hard and looked around, unsure what was happening to her or what was going to happen to her. She was surprised when the soldiers helped her into a chair and handed back the laces to her doublet. She quickly re-laced her doublet closed and pulled her pants up. Soon, with the burns to her stomach and chest covered, she looked nearly as she had when she had entered the castle gates, though a bit worn from her ordeal.

“Get me my seal,” Radley instructed one of his soldiers before turning to Sybil. “You are to go with one of my soldiers back to Duke Alard and deliver the message that you will be given. It will be sealed. Of course, you may not open it. Just deliver it to Duke Alard. Do you understand?”

Sybil looked at Beatrice, who nodded toward her. Sybil then nodded at Radley, obviously relieved at the good change in her fortunes.

“Miss Beatrice will remain with us. Obviously, you are not to mention that you were in any way mistreated. You will explain your burns however you wish, but, if word gets back to me – and I have spies in your duke’s castle – that you have suggested that we mistreated you or Miss Beatrice in any way, it will not be good for her. Do you understand?”

Sybil again nodded.

“Very well then. Take Miss Beatrice upstairs. And get the servant her horse.”

Chapter 7

Six hours later the soldier who had accompanied Sybil to Duke Alard’s castle returned with two of Alard’s representatives, whom he led to an area of the castle reserved for dignitaries’ sleeping quarters. Radley was waiting for them.

“We will begin negotiations in the morning, after you have had a chance to rest,” he told them. “Were you made aware of the letter that your duke’s sister sent to her brother?”

“We were made aware that she had sent her brother a letter. He was surprised and very unhappy after he read it, although he did not provide us with any details. He just said that she had decided not to return with her servant, that he now knew why she had volunteered for the mission, and that he had no choice but to accept her decision.”

“I will see you in the morning,” Radley bowed and left the room. He walked across the courtyard to the door leading down to the dungeon. When he entered, only a single soldier was in the room.

“Bring our guest to us,” Radley instructed. The soldier immediately left to carry out his assignment.

Ten minutes later two soldiers entered with Beatrice between them. Beatrice was once again naked. And her wrists tied behind her back.

“What is the meaning of this?! I was forced into a prison cell and left there since your soldier departed with my servant. And when I was instructed to come here with them and refused, they grabbed me and forced me to come with them. In direct violation of my flag of truce !!”

The two soldiers dragged Beatrice to the rack, where they quickly secured her just as they had earlier secured Phillipa. This time, however, they turned the handle of the roller bar until her body was stretched painfully tight.

“I am afraid, my dear Miss Beatrice,” Radley interrupted her protests.” that you are incorrect in your accusation that we have violated your flag of truce. You see, my dear, you are no longer protected by that flag.”

“I entered under that flag. I am entitled to its protection until I leave and am safely back in my brother’s castle.”

“You are correct only to a point,” Radley admonished her. “Your protection ended when your brother accepted your signed letter stating your desire to stay here … as Duke Baldwin’s wife. At that point your presence here was no longer under your brother’s flag of truce, but as the duke’s wife and subject over whom he has absolute power and control. The same power and control that he demonstrated over Phillipa earlier today.”

“You are mad. I have no idea what you are talking about!!”

“The four-page letter that you signed and sent to your brother with your servant.”

Slowly Beatrice began to realize what had happened. “I didn't sign a four-page letter. I signed a two-page letter.”

“Well,” Radley laughed, “I guess that’s a matter of semantics. You actually only signed the final page. But as soon as my two soldiers obey Duke Baldwin’s order to them, I will read you the complete letter you signed.”

Chapter 8

“Duke Baldwin’s first order is that you suffer the same punishments suffered by your servant earlier today. Since we released her at your urging, he wants to start with you in the same condition that she was in when she left. And I imagine that you must be curious as to how much pain your servant suffered. Although, for you, it will be just the beginning.”

One of the soldiers walked over to the still glowing brazier and pulled out one of the heated irons that ended in a burning red B.

“As I remember,” Radley continued, “she was first burned just under her navel.”

The soldier pressed the end of the iron against Beatrice’s stomach, just below her navel, and held it there for several seconds. Beatrice’s hideous shriek surpassed Sybil’s from several hours earlier. It was obvious to Radley which of the two was the stronger.

“And then just under her right breast.”

The soldier again followed Radley’s instructions. Beatrice’s entire body shook and twisted, as she tried desperately but hopelessly to avoid the iron. Her screams quickly became raspy. Finally removing the iron from her flesh, the soldier moved it perpendicular to the rack, between Beatrice’s spread legs, just below her most vulnerable target.

“Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that it was at this point that we stopped our torture of your servant and directed our attention to poor Phillipa."

Beatrice’s eyes were fixed on the hot iron, praying that Radley was not going to use it on her as she had seen it used on Phillipa. She shook her head from side to side.

“Now you advised your brother that you have become the duke’s wife," Radley continued. "And you have betrayed him in the same manner that Phillipa did. So, for your spying and unfaithfulness, he has sentenced you to the same punishment as Phillipa.”

“Unfaithfulness? Spying?”

“Yes. I am quite sure that, before the end of the day, we will have unimpeachable evidence that you were unfaithful to your husband with many of his soldiers. In fact, with more than Phillipa was when she was convicted. So you should be grateful that your punishment will not be worse than hers. As for spying, we already have discussed that.”

As Beatrice started to protest, the soldier pushed the iron crosswise between Beatrice’s labia. She screamed at the top of her lungs until her throat gave way. She took a breath and screamed more until the only sound escaping her mouth was a hoarse rasp. She arched her back, leaving only her chained wrists and ankles in contact with the rack beneath her. When the soldier finally removed the iron, she crashed back to the rack and her mind blurred. Radley approached and pulled her head up by her hair. “Phillipa has a head start on you, so we are going to have to do some catching up with you. But don't worry. You won't be behind for long. And you're never going to know in advance whether, on any given day, it will be the whip, the irons, the pins or a combination. Whether your lovers will include the iron. Or where your lovers will choose to give you pleasure.” Radley released Beatrice’s hair and her head fell back to the rack. She was mercifully unconscious.

“When she comes to, you each may have her. Then bring her back to her cell until tomorrow.” Radley headed to the door, then turned back. “Oh, I almost forgot. I promised Miss Beatrice that I would read her the complete letter she signed to her brother. Miss Beatrice, I'm not sure if you can hear me, but I keep my promises, so listen as carefully as you can.” One of the soldiers lifted her head, then dropped it, confirming that she was still unconscious.

Radley pulled out a copy of the letter. “Page 1: “To my dear brother, Duke Alard: Duke Baldwin has received me graciously and responded most favorably to my mission to seek a truce while you discuss resolution of your differences over the disputed lands. Please send him your emissary with authority to negotiate a final peace. In the meantime, I have decided to remain here under Duke Baldwin’s protection.”

Radley turned to the next page: “Page 2: Now appears the best time, brother, for me to tell you that, over the past several months, since the death of his wife, Phillipa, I have been secretly seeing Duke Baldwin and I have been providing him with information regarding your military strength. I did so because I love him and did not want you to conquer him or him to conquer you. That is why I volunteered for this peace mission and it appears that it will be successful. I hope you will understand.”

Radley turned to the third page: “Page 3: Duke Baldwin and I are being secretly married tonight. It would be wrong for us to announce it so soon after Phillipa’s death. I hope you will forgive me and bless my marriage. It is my fervent hope that the two of you reach a peace and that you both prosper. But, until things between you have fully stabilized, I will not be returning to your dukedom, even as a guest. I am sure that you understand.”

“And finally page 4,” Radley moved to the final page. “I look forward to a long future of peace and harmony between the two dukedoms. Your loving sister. Beatrice.”

Radley turned to the door as one of his soldiers unzipped his pants and climbed onto the unconscious Beatrice. He wondered whether Phillipa or Beatrice would last longer., but his bet was on Phillipa. He would find out soon enough, though. After which, well, he was sure that the duke would have other visiting noblewomen take their places. He so preferred torturing those who thought themselves privileged and immune to his attention. Radley was pleased to be the Captain of his military.


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