Aged and constructed of twisted timber, the door couldn’t hold the hard blow of Guy’s heel and it swung into the cabin with a cry of splintered wood. Stepping quickly into the building, the light from wall-mounted torches pushed shadows in the deepest recess of the construction. He took in the scene before him in an instant: the sparsely populated room, with earth and weeds as a floor; the large fire pit in the room’s center, logs blazing beneath a huge metal pot that hung from a hook embedded in the ceiling; the princess, seated in a chair near the pot, hands tied behind her back, at the mercy of a witch standing beside her.
A grotesque creature, with gray skin wrinkled and pulled tight over a malnourished skeleton, the hag glanced up from the princess with a look of shocked surprised deforming an already ugly countenance. The witch’s clawed hands were an inch from the princess’s face, and Guy thanked a god he no longer prayed to that he hadn’t arrived a moment later.
In one fluid movement he loaded an arrow and unleashed his weapon, the projectile slicing through the air to bury itself deep into the old hag’s putrid chest. The look of surprise melted into a gasp of pain as the blow sent the witch staggering on her heels. Before the creature could react, Guy loaded another arrow and sent its pointed tip burrowing into the witch’s belly. The hag sank to her knees, before collapsing backwards with a whistling hiss of her dying breath.
The princess glanced away, up to a small window cut through the buckled timber near the cabin’s roof, and Guy followed her gaze. One of those demonic hounds scrambled through the opening—he couldn’t tell if it was the one that just feasted on Barnard or a different monster. Guy’s shot was true, as the arrow pierced the hound’s side. With a yelp of agony it tumbled from the high window, the snap of its neck as it landed reverberating throughout the singular room.
For a short moment he stood motionless and listened. He heard neither another hound nor the hag, only the sounds of crackling firewood, the bubbling liquid within the pot, and the relieved gasping of the princess. Shadows danced on the walls, but nothing else moved in the old building. Guy nodded with a flush of satisfaction at his own ability; he’d dispatched the charging hound easily, and had been accurate with three shots in a matter of seconds inside the cabin. More importantly, the princess remained alive.
Shouldering the bow, he went to her. Even in the gloom and the flickering of shadows her beauty remained unmatched by anyone he’d gazed upon before. Younger than he, her blond hair fell in waves about her shoulders, and her flushed cheeks gave way to tearful eyes that shone with affection for her rescuer. At the chair, he pulled a small dagger from his belt and cut the rope that bound her hands. She stood, pressing her body against him, placing her hand gently against his chest, moving her face close to his.
“One so brave,” she whispered. Her breath smelled of mint.
His heart hammered a heavy rhythm, pumping blood into his crotch, and he cared not that his thickening length pushed against her thigh. “I have been sent by the king, your father, to bring you safely back home.”
“So you have.” Her voice sounded like the hushed song of angels. “And what is to be your reward?”
Before he could answer, the princess’s lips closed upon his and her tongue invaded his mouth, searching him.
Guy wrapped his arms around her, and his world evaporated into pleasure.
* * *
Darkness disintegrated, peeling away slowly to allow in the subtle flicker of torchlight. The aroma from a wood fire filtered into his senses, coupled with the sweet smell of something cooking. The cool air felt refreshing yet invigorating on his skin, and it took only a short moment for him to realize he was naked.
It would have been a pleasurable experience, if it weren’t for the excruciating pain.
Guy opened his eyes wide, fear gripping him in hot flashes through his body. He glanced about the room, dismayed to find himself still in the old abandoned cabin, torchlight playing with darkness while the aged timber walls bled night through its cracks. Looking up, his gaze followed the chain links descending from the ceiling until they twisted around his wrists, both hands tied crudely together above his head. With a terrified whimper he glanced down, alarmed to see his nude body coated with tears of sweat and grime. His penis looked so small and inadequate, his legs spread apart and ankles bound with more chain secured to large rocks dug into the building’s soil floor. Directly beneath him, a crimson liquid boiled in the large metal pot, bubbles popping upon its surface to spit scalding liquid onto his legs.
He noticed the princess then, looking just as ravishing and beautiful as she had when he’d charged into the property. She stood motionless, staring up at his suspended form. The girl made no effort to release him from his bonds.
“Help me,” Guy said, but the words hardly formed.
Emerging from shadow, the old witch stepped up to the pot, only now the hag had lost its grotesqueness and displayed a face of splendid beauty, a body of luscious curves. She stood naked from the waist up, but the holes where his arrows had pierced her remained bloody and sore.
She glanced over her shoulder. “So, my dear, where do you think we should begin?”
The princess seemed to ponder the question for a moment, her gaze locked on his. Guy cried, tears warm on his cheeks, as he stared at her with a look that pleaded for his life. She took a step forward, and raised her right hand, pointing at a spot near Guy’s left side.
“Well, I think we should start here,” the princess said, and a searing hot pain flashed through his abdomen.
Panicked, he looked down to his belly, at the smoking skin on his left side beneath his ribcage. Blood ran in lines down his stomach, meandering through the hairs of his thighs.
“And we should continue across here.” Slowly moving her index finger to her left, she drew an imaginary line in the air before Guy’s hanging body.
Only the line wasn’t entirely imaginary, and his skin split in a strip that matched the princess’s movement, searing heat burning across his front. More blood ran from the wound, streaking down his belly and legs until it began to drip into the pot. Although agony blazed in his skin, Guy noticed the liquid in the pot start to boil with more fervor.
“Until we reach here,” the princess whispered, stopping her finger where it pointed at Guy’s right side.
The laceration across his guts burned. His body shook, bile threatening to explode up his throat. Each breath inhaled the stench of his own blood into his lungs.
“Please,” he begged, but the word became lodged in his throat.
“And you’re sure this will complete the spell?” the witch asked.
The princess smiled. “Of course, Mom, don’t you trust your own daughter.”
“Of course I do.”
Guy almost passed out, the pain unbearably severe; no longer just in his abdomen but flushing through his essence with each beat of his terrified heart.
“This will be the greatest plague to sweep through these lands in more than a century,” the princess said with pride. “Dad will be powerless to stop it.”
“Excellent.” The witch turned away from the princess and looked up at Guy’s wretched body. He trembled further when her gaze met his. “Complete the process then, my dear.”
“You were good,” the princess said to Guy, and even now her smile was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.
She swept her hand downwards, quickly.
Both ends of the laceration snaked down his sides, tearing flesh from muscle, opening his abdomen into a bloody flap of hanging skin.
Guy screamed his final breath as his intestines tumbled into the pot’s bubbling liquid.
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