Voices... such kind voices... and warm hands, not ice cold like she had become accustomed.
Summer slowly began to come around to the sound of such sweet and kind voices and a warm hand touching her forehead to see if she was feverish.
Her eyes slowly opened as her blurry vision could make out two shapes. Eventually she awoke from this delirious state and she slowly sat up in the soft bed she had been laying in.
The two shapes she had seen were two men seated at a table, with their backs to her talking quietly to themselves.
She looked around and noticed she was in a small yet quaint country cottage.
The bed she lay in was stuffed with goose feathers, which was why it was so soft.
A blazing fire roared in front of where the two men sat. Heavy muskets leaned against the far wall, as several pieces of meat hung from the ceiling.
A few jars containing preserved fruits and vegetables lined a shelf.
A single dresser of drawers leaned against one wall with a small washing basin and pitcher atop it.
Summer clutched the quilt to her freezing form and snuggled down once more into the bed as she sighed softly to herself.
Hearing the soft and kind voices of these strange men and the warm fire and soft bed slowly lulled her exhausted form back into a comfortable slumber...
The strong scent of beef and stew slowly began to stir Summer from her sleep as hunger overtook her.
Her stomach growled softly as she opened her eyes slowly and finally she looked over to the fireplace and saw a large pot of beef stew being cooked by one of the men while the other was sitting at the table writing something on a piece of parchment.
Summer sat up confused and looked over at the man cooking the stew.
From the side he looked to be about twenty-one and had shaggy, dirty blonde hair and lots of freckles.
He was a handsome country boy, and that made her smile slightly.
She slowly began to slide from the bed and this sudden movement caused the one man cooking the stew to notice.
He smiled and turned towards her as he stood up and walked towards her as he said, "Hey Taran... she is awake!"
The smiling man walked to the side of the bed and touched a hand to her cheek and said, " You have cooled down quite a bit since we first found you in our corn field after we returned from our daily hunt... you are lucky me and my brother found you..otherwise you would probably be dead by now..."
Summer nodded and whispered a feeble, "Thank you... I am sorry I did not catch your name..."
The guy laughed and sat down on the bed and said, "Kain... my name is Kain; it is nice to meet you...what is your name?"
Summer smiled slightly and said, "Summer... my name is Summer..."
Taran finally stopped writing and was folding up his parchment of paper as he looked over at Summer concerned and said, "Why were you out there in the first place?"
Summer frowned and looked away from this older brother, who appeared to be about thirty.
He had dark brown hair, and piercing hazel eyes. He was handsome, but was much more serious than his brother, she could tell.
Summer sighed and looked back up and said, " Honestly.. I was running from my master.. Lord Dugark.. he frightened me.. so I left..."
The two men nodded because they understood. They had heard rumors of the nefarious Lord Dugark for years. It didn't take much for rumors to spread in the small village communities.
Summer looked at the two brothers and said, " Why do you live here all alone?"
Taran finally broke into a smile and laughed as he said, " We only live here during the winter.. we hunt and catch lots of food and then return home to our family in our village of Woodenmier. I am married and have three sons and a daughter.. Kain just got married last summer.. and his wife is pregnant now with his first child.. it should be born by the time we return home in April."
Summer smiled and said, " You two are brave to come all the way out here just to get food for your families.. that is great devotion.." Kain smiled and said, " You remind me of our youngest sister, Anabella. She has eyes like yours... but please eat some stew and get warmed up."
Summer nodded as she stood up and walked over to the small table and sat down in a hard wooden chair as Kain placed a big bowl of steaming beef stew in front of her.
She immediately began to eat the delicious stew and sip the hot coffee they poured her as they began to talk about Summer's past and her life as a servant in the castle of Lord Dugark.
Eventually after everyone was full and the fire was dying down , Taran announced it was time to turn in for the night.
Summer crawled back into her bed as Taran and Kain climbed a small ladder she had not noticed into a loft over her head.
They called down to her, " Good night Summer! Sleep pleasantly!"
Summer smiled and said, " Thank you for your great kindness.. Kain, Taran! Sleep well too!"
She then turned over onto her side and fell asleep as she was warm, full, and felt safe.
"Wakey...wakey..." a familiar voice called as Summer slowly was stirred from her deep sleep and pleasant dreams.
All these feelings of safety were shattered as she realized her master was standing over her bed flashing a dangerous and evil smirk.
She gasped and sat up as she looked over and cried in fright at seeing four guards clutching the two badly beaten up brothers.
" Taran! Kain!" Summer exclaimed as she stood from the bed to run over to them.
"Ah...ah..ah , you have been very bad.. running from me and staying in a house with not only one but TWO men.. I hope you have not let them deflower you my precious one.." Lord Dugark muttered as he ran a hand through her golden hair.
Summer cringed as tears filled her eyes and she whimpered out in a quivering tone, " Please master I am sorry.. punish me however you want.. just do not harm them.. they have families.. please, they did not touch me I swear..."
Summer pleaded as she clutched her master's shirt and wept into his chest.
He grinned and wrapped an arm around her back and pulled her tightly against him as he whispered, "Become my courtesan.. and I will let them live.."
Summer gasped as she looked up into his dark and emotionless eyes and then over at Taran and Kain.
She looked away from her master in disgust but eventually looked back at him and nodded and whispered, " Very well... I will become your new courtesan.. in exchange for their lives.."
Lord Dugark laughed darkly and said " I knew you would see things my way my dear.. I always get what I want... LET THEM GO! WE ARE GOING!"
He suddenly shouted as Summer jumped and Lord Dugark clutched her wrists in his hands and said, "You have still been naughty.. when we get home... punishment time.. TRUE punishment time..."
Summer whimpered as she caught one last glance at the warm and comforting room of the cabin as she was dragged into the icy, cold winter's night.