When Aiya stepped off the ship, her legs almost gave out. It had been many weeks since she had felt dirt under her feet. If her dress was not in tatters before, it was now. It was a simple dress made for a peasant. It was a few sizes too big for her, and the color dirt. She had worked many holes into the hem of the dress from walking to her favorite spot on the cliffs, Noah’s blood stained the front.
She was brought back from her thoughts, by Ragda shouting to his men.
“Come! The Jarl is waiting,”
He glanced at Aiya for only a moment. Dagr had moved to her side, grabbing her arm, taking possession of her.
He began to escort her to a giant wooden building, along with the rest of the captives. Its shape was as strange as the ship she had sailed on, with tall columns of wood that had the same strange markings, with ghost-like figures carved deeply into the grain. The structures in this new land were as frightening as the men she had encountered.
As they entered the building many people were waiting for their return and began shouting and cheering. Thrain took all the new slaves to one side of the enormous Hall.
Aiya was the only one not taken away, Dagr would not let her leave his side.
The Jarl sat in his chair, a woman to his right. She was not old but was neither young. Her hair was fair; she wore it braided in a single braid that cascaded down one side of her slender body. She was quite handsome.
The Jarl did not have to raise his voice to be heard, for when he spoke, people listened.
“My son, you have returned. I trust you bring me more wealth for my hoard,”
It was not a question, Lowzow demanded nothing less. His son knew this, he would not return unless gold and treasure were in abundance.
“I have Min Herre,” Ragda knelt before his father.
“This, I like to hear. Come, show me these treasures,” Lowzow spoke, waving the men forward.
The Earl stood up to inspect the profits. There were three chests filled to the brim with gold coins taken from the English Lord along with many religious relics made of gold from the many Christian Monasteries they raided before.
He scooped up a handful of coins.
“Well done Ragda. Leave me two chests and take the third for yourself and your men,”
At that, he turned and motioned for the women to follow. He went to leave the hall but stopped in front of Dagr. His eyes moved passed his wife’s bastard son to the young girl at his side. To his surprise her eyes did not fall from his gaze as many others did, she was obstinate.
“Hva er ditt navn, barn?” He asked.
She eyed both the men, unsure of what was happening.
“He asks your name,” Dagr nudged her arm.
The Earl stood still with his eyes on her, it seemed to have taken an eternity before he finally spoke.
Aiya was confused, never had someone paid such attention to her as if he had known her before. She did not have long to think on it before she was pulled from the crowd and dragged away towards another room, he forced her inside. It was an elegant room, with many fur rugs placed on the cold wood and a sizeable fireplace burning bright and warm, a bed was placed in the center of the room.
She suddenly felt a blinding sting across her cheek, knocking her to the floor. Dagr stood over her, his face full of blinding hate and malice. She clutched her cheek, she could feel it burning and swelling. He then grabbed her by the arm pulling her up off the floor and into his arms. He twisted his fingers in her hair behind her head forcing her to tilt her chin upwards in pain to look at him.
“How dare you draw the Earl’s attention!” He seethed.
No matter how hard she tried to get away, she could not, his strength was too much for her. Her body pulled against his, she could feel his arousal against her stomach. He did not hold her the way Ragda did, she did not want to be touched by him. He may have been handsome, but he was cruel.
“Please, I have done nothing,”
He moved her back until she could feel the bed frame against the backs of her legs, letting her fall onto the soft bedding of feathers and fine blankets.
He was still standing, touring over her like some wild beast, she was at his mercy now. As he spoke he had lifted her dress so he could run his hands up her thighs.
“Such soft skin….” His voice was quiet and calm but his thoughts were elsewhere.
His features change from deep ideation to that of passion and rage in a blink of an eye. He forced Aiya to her stomach, turning her over. She began to scream, and kick as hard as she could, she was only angering him more. He ripped her dress open, exposing her scarred back. Her reminders of the many years she has spent in servitude, his calloused fingers tracing her scars.
“I see you have already gotten what you deserve,” He said in her ear.
Dagr hands began to move down her backside, she could feel his lips on her, his tongue replacing his fingers over her scars. His breath was hot on her skin.
There was a loud banging on the door and before the knock was answered the door flung open, Ragda’s voice rang out.
“Must you always intrude Bróðir?!” Dagr growled. “Oðr!”
“Come; your whore can wait, we must talk,” He said to his brother, slapping his back.
Aiya caught Ragda’s stare over her shoulder, she could have sworn he had a glimpse of compassion on his face as he peered down at her scarred back, but it was gone when their eyes met.
“Perhaps we should send Zita to her with a bath and new dressings? How can you stand to touch her? She’s filthy, ókræsi-legr!”
“Fine, send the old hag to her, I need Ale,”
They left the chambers together, closing the door behind them.
Aiya could hardly breathe, and before she knew it, tears began to fall. She could not bring herself to move off the bed. How she needed Noah right now, whenever life had been too much to bear, Noah had saved her, loved her, protected her.
Exhausted, she closed her eyes.