Chapter One: Lust and Glut

The loud smack of flesh against wall was drowned out by the cry that followed, the rumbling of trinkets twitching from the vibrations adding to the carnal display as man took woman. The woman cried out, her voice husky from desire as she clung to the man's shoulders, fingers digging into his skin as she pulled him closer. He grunted, his hips thrusting forward, pinning her to wall as he buried his face in her neck. Their conjoined cries uninhibited as he pounded her, her body met his half-stroke, back pressed tightly to the wall as her ankles crossed about his waist. All clothes were gone. Her hair was long and the deepest of midnight, coiling down the pale beige walls. Her skin was the softest of whites, a pale cream, whiter for all the darkness of her hair.

At the moment, her eyes were half-lidded, obscuring the sultry pale gaze of deep-set blue, head tilted back to bare the taut lines of her neck. The man took her savagely, his mouth locking on her neck, teeth raking over the crook, his breath hot as he panted, body beginning to sweat from this delightful exertion.

He lifted her up, his muscles writhing beneath his skin with graceful ease and slammed deep inside of her, groaning as his mouth met hers; those soft pouty lips, bruised from his kisses. He, like all the others, knew his job and took great pleasure in usurping the king's place in his wife's bed.

Lips parting in a half-sigh that deepened into a soft purr in the back of her throat, Idunn shifted her weight, felt him hit against her secret spot and felt the impending climax swarm over her limbs. Her pale skin flushed a charming red, her eyes glazed over in that pleasure of climax as her body tightened around his. He groaned, kissed her hard as his teeth bruised her mouth; he shuddered as he released inside of her. Hips bucking up into her, he grunted as his body was drained, pleasure dropping away in that pleasant lethargy.

Idunn panted, her head tilted back, eyes opening slowly as she purred in the soft relaxation of aftermath. His hands came around her, cradled her back and carried her to the bed. Her lips curled up in a smile as she trailed her fingers down his thigh and murmured in that soft husky voice of hers. "You may leave, now."

Deep hooded eyes hardened, feeling the whiplash of her very words. Her lips pursed slightly, petulantly, as she watched him, daring him to utter a word of protest. When he didn't, she sat up, her curtain of hair obscuring her curves as she sat within the puddle of furs that coiled on the bed.

Calviik had always been one of the more emotionally attached of her secret string of men she kept within her closet, and though Idunn knew it, she toyed with him. As with fire she was more than willing to dump her fingers deep in to the forge and feel the heat of his anger straining against the love he thought he held for her. To her, it was an aphrodisiac to know how close this man was to breaking her leash and slitting her from naval to nose. Her lips pursed tongue sliding out to wet her lower lip as she watched from the mirrors that hung gloriously along the walls. She stayed in this room with him, always, for though danger was appealing, Idunn would never be taken for one who was stupid.

Glass strewn together with soft silk hung from the ceilings, a sky of beauty as shafts of light refracted, bounced back to paint the wall with a splash of light. Even in the dimming light, those beaming sparkles kept the room alive, had her aware of his very presence as spots were shadowed by the larger being stalking about the room. She left the large pooling of furs that lay sprawled upon the bed, left them there and looked surreptitiously through the large windows of mirrors that lined the wall. That each mirror held him captured and easy to spot, allowed her to turn her back to him, to dismiss him. Her lips curved, cheeks almost dimpling. Twitching her hair back, the long cascade of black tumbled back over her shoulders as she sat upon the cushioned stool, looking into one of the bronzed mirrors. Fingers light over her skin, she tracked his movements, knew him to either stay and prowl until it became obvious that she was not alone and had others watching from the corners of the room, or to leave.

Though rash, Calviik shuddered, his gaze burning over the curves of the Queen he would die for and instead turned away. The muscles along his back were taut, straining against the primal urge to dominate her. He was of a noble race, how dare she toy with him? But behind the anger, was hurt. He truly loved her, after all. Knowing all she has done, and all that she would do all he wanted was to take her away from here, convinced there was something good beneath that manipulating exterior.

So many thoughts, Idunn murred quietly in the depths of her mind, watching him through that sultry blue gaze. She didn't care for him, never had. It was primal lust that had her clinging to his sweating and heaving body, reveling in the shuddering

"How are the children?" he asked suddenly, stopping right before the exit of the room, giving her his quarter profile. What a profile that was with deep brown eyes hidden, those tender lashes and sculpted curve of his cheek.

She laughed, her voice cruel as she sneered, "exactly like their father."

Not so much as flinching, Calviik dipped his chin slightly and removed himself from the room, stalking out with a melancholy that would make Freya cry.

Once the brute had left nothing but coldness descended upon those delicate features, changed the sultry aftermath of pleasure into calculative scheming. Soft curves becoming hard lines along her face as she took her comb and teased the hardened bone through the long lengths of her black hair. Though handled precariously, she was quite pleased; though something like regret flickered through her features before disappearing in those dark blue depths of her eyes.

"Rania."

Idunn turned, her cascade of dark hair falling away to bare the whiteness of her shoulder and the tips of her breasts. Pure delight pushed away all of her scheming thoughts at the sight of the servant that stood just inside of the doorway, his jaw tightened as he stared at her. Though naturally pale, this lack of color had more to do with little food and water than tone. He stood stiffly, hands clenched into fists as he bowed deeply to her and whipped back up, his gaze on one of the little pieces of glass dangling prettily.

"He's here?" she urged as she twisted in her seat and rose to her feet, her cascade of hair falling behind her as she padded up to the servant. Though keen intelligence shone behind those indolent depths of her water-filled eyes, there was sheer pleasure that colored her cheeks pink.

"Yes.' he said crisply, though resentment filled his hooded eyes, the pale coloring of his hair obscuring most of his face as he showed his obeisance. A captive of the last raid, it was a pity that he had not died with his comrades but instead was alive and suffering through the shame that filled his every crevice.

Purring, the insufferable woman trailed her fingers over his shoulder, smiling, "where?" she crooned, tilting her head back to look up into his eyes, excitement turning her blue gaze vivid. In filling his days with tedium and women's work, she was slowly breaking him, and once he was broken, he would be hers. He'd make fine children, she thought, her gaze sliding over the thick muscles, the broad shoulders and fine hands. And put an end to Calviik, she thought mood almost souring. But even thinking of him did not rupture the sheer thrill of her newest scheme. Still, she had other plans for him, and as she withdrew from him she smiled, her lips parting as she slipped on the fur robe that her husband had received as a gift from Sveyn, the Bodil of Lundur from the west province.

That it had come from Lundur spoke of its quality, for they were known for their furs, hoarding a special secret on the tanning that had the furs as soft as if it were still on the animal.

But such things were not important, but triviality; however, it should be noted the very depth of Idunn's personal triviality. Insignificant as she was to the world of warriors, she was intent on making her own way, carving it through the blood of others if she was able. Her world was furs of the softest quality, of beds that tingled in the most pleasant ways, of food that melted in the mouth and of drink that sweetened the tongue. A gluttonous woman at heart, whatever goodness had been in her heart had dissipated upon her growth at Hlidskordl where upon reaching adulthood and stuffed with the machinations of a raving mother having lost her sanity to the gods, had schemes boiling her head. That Frode was weak had appealed to her, that she had sterilized him remained unknown to his many counselors. The Aesir be merciful, the woman was to kill herself with all her scheming.

With her attention turning back with deadly efficiency to Kostya as she preferred to call him, she crooned as her nose twitched. "Do take me to him." As the fur passed over him, his body responded and his dark gaze dropped. Shame filled him, blackened his soul and held him in that one moment. She was his torment, and Idunn took particular pleasure in reminding him with every word, every touch, every moment he was within her presence.

Though he stood easily a head taller than she, with her head tilted at that slight angle, and her mouth pouting, body bare, it did not matter. Her voice was soft, and far crueler than any demon ought to be as she whispered the question she always asked him, "Have you decided?"

Emotion flared in his gaze, the emotion spilling over his expression before dissipating. Oh yes, he'd thought of about it; it was all he could think of. Every moment he lived, he thought about it, weighed his soul, felt the shame bury him deep. If he were to die, here, now, he would be nothing: a slave pulled down into the inner depths of Hel's domain, held in her hands. If he were to do as this wretched woman asked, he could live longer, still damned to that fate in death. Would the riches she promised with every touch, with every pass of her thigh against his be worth the torment? Would it be enough to satisfy him before death claimed his old and wretched body? The answer was not as clear cut as it had been two fortnights ago.

He shuddered, held his gaze away from her enchantments and clenched his jaw. "I have decided; it will be the same choice no matter how many times you ask." he spat, his gaze heated with the inner fires of his heart. Pride was there; so much pride. But not as much as before. Her smile was wistful. "More pain to you, then." she said idly and shrugged her shoulders as she stepped forward. "Take me to him."

Shuddering, Kostya was quick to respond and turned around and out of the room with a rough, "Lady," growled out from his throat. With a sly smile she captured his arm in hers, settled herself beside him and walked with slow leisure, letting him feel the warmth of her body against his, moving, touching but not quite. His jaw tightened, misery filling his gaze as he stared straight ahead, leading them through a maze of hallways.

As they walked, the ground seemed to shift beneath their very feet, the soft wood turning into cobblestone, and even that giving way to rocky dirt that patched beneath her leather slippers. Though distasteful, Idunn knew the way well, and smiled at all the passerby, inclining her head in that grateful manner of recognition as hordes of thanes from the court seemed to appear through the wall to gain her attention.

Very few had she left untouched and it pleased her to know that she was slowly claiming each corner of her husband's court. That none of them knew of each other only allowed her to properly manipulate them, move them around like pieces on a chess game, that wicked set that held her captivated for days. It was, in all honesty, the only present that she had thoroughly enjoyed to the depths of her soul.

The walls changed as well, the brightly colored walls, lavished with paintings of little modesty turning into bare walls and then even that into cracked paint. Through it all, she was aware of the very breath from her lungs, from the soft intake of her lungs as it pushed her breasts up and then settled down beneath the robe fur that rubbed delightfully against her skin. The travel was arduous, her calves straining as she climbed up stairs and slight inclines as the walls turned to stone. Unpainted, hideous stone that cracked and smelled as dank as the sewers. She was descending into darkness, felt the earth opening up to her with each slow step she took down the spiraling staircases. Idunn's feet were getting tender, the slippers upon her feet not created for such arduous tasks, but meant instead for softer, gentler reposes.

When they had managed to arrive at their destination, Idunn was wary, proverbial hackles rising along the nape of her neck as she looked up at the servant she had so callously abused body and soul. That he was not broken was quite easy to see. But treason? She thought, wetting her lower lip in a touch of nerves, hiding the tick with a growing smile, brows lifting up inquiringly.

The tent in which he had indicated was laid back in the darkness of the prison that lay below the throbbing life of Fliotzdalr. Propped up by poles dug deep into the stone, Idunn could almost see through the fabric, the shabby nature of its entirety putting her on edge. All around them were bars and the stench of the dead and the dying filled her nostrils, fogged her mind with disgust as she struggled to keep from lifting her hand to her mouth to keep from gagging on the wretched smell. She had kept a wary eye on those of better health as their eyes flared with instant recognition, lips curling with disgust as they rose to the bars, watching her with a growing sneer upon their twisted visages.

Though shaken, it had not deterred her from her path until it was obvious she was to enter into the tent. Balking, Idunn merely looked up at Kostya, appraising, inquiring, so many thoughts spilling into those eyes.

"It was where he said to meet." was his only reply as he tugged her forward and into the tent. As the rough touch of the tent flap scraped against her skin she flinched, feeling disgust curling her gut. Utter blackness filled the tent, her pupils dilating, filling her eyes as she tried to see passed the darkness that filled her vision. Unconsciously her fingers tightened around Kostya's arm, keeping herself grounded as she looked around. Instincts screamed at her, told her to withdraw, to go back to the homestead and demand that he meet her where she chose.

Such a stupid, silly twit, she growled silently, cursing herself for her stupidity, and then double so when her gaze adjusted to the light and saw the cot that lay at the end. That Kostya remained motionless did not disturb her, her entire attention focused solely on the thing that seemed to be living in its infested sheets.

Idunn flinched and drew back as the thing that slept in the cot stirred from its sleep and rose up from the bed. In the darkness his shape could be so many different things. Reason dictated human, but her mind could not think so as stories of the Gods descending into Midgard dissembled her mind into a tangled mass of threads. It hobbled over, hacking violently, one balled little fist coming up to what Idunn assumed was a mouth. A ring glinted in the little light from outside and she honed in on it. "Were you sent by Father Byron?" she asked, glad that her voice was strong, unshaken.

Kostya stirred, feeling as if the floor gave way beneath his feet. A priest? He thought, his breathing becoming unstable. Though unnoticed his gaze seared into the wretched woman who toyed with such fire as to court a Christian. His thoughts ceased for a moment, a rage of indignation swirling through his veins, pulsing. He could feel the Aesir, feel them so close urging him to kill the vermin. He twitched, his fingers going for the dagger sheathe that had been empty for so long. Heart clenched, pulse beating. He heard the soft whispers of the Gods, of Frigga Queen of the Aesir. The tent stirred as Kostya took a step back, away from the disease that seemed to crawl along the cur's flesh.

"What have you done?" he demanded, his voice whiplashing through the silence as he glared at the woman standing so regally beside him. "Woman, answer me, what in Odin's name have you done?"

"Do not speak of such pagan delusions around me, young man. The All-father would forgive you if you but look to the light. See your mistakes and take ease." the other intoned, and though the severity of his voice brooked no tolerance, the pronouncement of such a statement seemed utterly ridiculous. Kostya merely growled, his voice choking in anger at such blasphemy. He took a step forward, predatory in the way of warriors. It did not matter that he was slave, he still moved to the fires that pulsed in his veins, he would not let this insult rest.

"Enough, Kostya." Idunn said harshly, her hand touching upon his shoulder, fingers digging into his skin. His flesh seemed to crawl, feeling violated by such a woman.

"Mistress, please think on what –"

"Silence, boy." The Priest growled and shuffled forward, all grotesque machinations falling away from him as the light touched upon his features. He was nothing more than a mere child, filled with the urging of a beloved master. Pitiful.

Dominance was at play, for all her childish musings, Idunn knew how to play people well. She also knew, quite clearly that if she did not leash this newest male, all things were ruined. Father Byron was easy to manipulate, to string along with the slightest flash of her thigh, or a glimpse of her wrists. This boy was pushing her, testing her and she was not to have it.

"Kostya, escort this filth to his quarter." she said softly, her gaze growing dismissively raking over his body from top to bottom, the curling of her lip clearly stating how little she thought of his show. She snorted delicately and turned.

"You will not show such disrespect before the Lord God!" the boy spat, his spittle falling perilously close to her shoes.

Anger flared, for no matter that she was a woman and prone toward gluttony, she was Scandinavian born and bred. She grew in a world where all that mattered was prowess and money, where the only place to gain such fame was through the blood of others. She was familiar with bloodshed and as her gaze narrowed she speared through him with her vivid blue eyes. They flashed, color seeming to brighten in those deep watered orbs churning with indignation. "Listen, boy, you will do as your told and have no complaints."

He laughed! The filth had the audacity to laugh at her.

Eyes narrowing, Idunn surged into motion, slender limbs showing the true extent of her mettle. The soft glint of metal as dagger scythed through shadow was almost hidden in the heavy darkness that cloaked them. Growling, the woman flicked her wrist and twisted the blade, the thick hilt smashing into the boy's temple as he crumpled down to the ground. It was not so fast, but for a boy who never expected a woman to even speak against his words the blow was tragic, had his feet stumbling underneath him as he fell heavily to the ground. The pain blossomed along his eye, had the darkness shuddering along his vision as the woman stooped down. To him, she was a demon, come to life as wicked claws caught onto his hair, pulled him taut.

The blade settled neatly along his neck, the sharp metal cold and threatening against the very whiteness of his flesh. She chuckled, bending over slightly, disregarding the robe as it opened to reveal a glimpse of pale supple breast. The boy burned from shame. What could Father Byron be thinking trusting in the hands of these demons, these pagans who bared their flesh without modesty? He swallowed, felt the blade bite into his neck and whimpered.

The demoness leaned forward her cascade of hair falling over him, obscuring the view of all but her lips as they moved. Her voice was soft, deceptive in its cruelty as she murmured, "Do not mistake me, filth. I am not your Christian women, you will never speak to me in such a tone or by the Gods I will take it from your flesh. Father Byron and I have an understanding, I trust he has spoken to you fully on the matter and I will leave it at rest. Next time you let your tongue run wild, I might have it hanging from my wall, or have it adorn my wrist." Idunn purred, voice softly lingering on the last word as if savoring the visual imagery.

Tightening her grip on his hair a moment as emphasis the blade nicked his flesh, had blood flowing to the surface in suddenness. Bladder loosened as he whimpered, the stench of piss rank in the air as the woman bent over and stroked her tongue over the wound, curling her tongue over it. With sudden movement she dropped his head, let it crack against the floor as she rose in a sudden swish of fur robe.

"Kostya, do I say."

And for once, he did not question it, internally or externally. With a look almost like pity in his gaze he reached down and yanked the limp arm, tugging the boy up to his feet. In silence he followed as Idunn walked out of the tent and toward the exit.

Though she would never admit it, the stench of death and rot had her stomach swimming. Nose twitching she masked the disgust that was churning in her gut and stepped lightly over the puddles of grime and plague. Still, she was conscious enough that when the shafts of light portended the exit she paused, raised her hand and looked over her shoulder. Her delicate features looked almost innocent in the sudden light and Kostya's heart was stricken by the look. He knew very well her appeal; she used her body, but it was the innocence that lightened her features when caught by surprise that captivated the men. That she knew naught of it only made it more precious. He soaked up the sight before focusing, struggling to dismiss the emotions such a look caused in his heart.

"Go around and flank the staircases. Put him by the kitchens and set Balkwien on him. After you're free to continue your chores." and with that she walked through the light and into the brighter, cleaner meadhall. He chuckled, all emotion deflating with her words. How could he have thought there was attraction to such a wench? He laughed before becoming conscious of the growing weight of the boy leaning against him.

"Greet Hel, your mistress in the flesh, boy." he murmured before hoisting him up and doing as he was bid.