18. To Rouse the Appetite
Chapter Written by Angmar and Elfhild
The shadows were deepening when Esarhaddon led Goldwyn back to the bustling slave camp. Behind the pair walked Goldwyn's three sons - Fródwine, with face grimly set ahead; Frumgár, his eyes wide with curiosity at the unfamiliar sights, sounds and aromas of the section of the camp reserved for the slavers; and Fritha, hesitant, wishing in his consternation that he could feel the comfort of his mother's hand. Mashing his upper lip hard against his lower, the youngest boy tried to stifle his tears. Fródwine glared at his youngest brother, while Frumgár twisted his face in a silly look, hoping that he could make Fritha smile.
"Soon this ordeal will be ended, and the slaver will allow us to return to our own people," Goldwyn tried to reassure herself. "Surely no man, not even a Southern slaver, is so base that he would ravish a woman in the presence of her own sons!" Only half believing her own words, she fretted, a sinking feeling twisting her stomach, "Perhaps he will dismiss the boys and order them to go back to my kinswomen while he has his way with me!" Obeying a sudden foolish urge, she looked about her for someone to rescue her and her sons, but her eyes met only tawny or dark-skinned faces which all seemed to be contorted in laughter or jeers. An uncontrollable shiver of fear raced down her spine, and she commanded herself not to flee.
"Madame, you look strained," the smooth, somewhat amused voice of the slaver interrupted her thoughts.
"Sir, please let us return to the others." She hoped that she did not sound whining, but she knew that the tightness in her throat constricted her voice. "Long have we been without a bath, and our smell must be offensive to you."
He squeezed her arm. "Madame, unfortunately, the unwashed condition of you and your sons is manifestly apparent to the nostrils of all who venture near you. I had considered your distress before I ever issued my invitation."
"An invitation, sir? I had believed it to be a command." She met his gaze unflinchingly, but his eyes only smiled devilishly back into hers.
"An invitation, an offer, a suggestion, a proposal, an expectation, a request, a command - call it what you wish - but you will dine with me tonight. You worry needlessly about your unwashed condition, for I had foreseen your need to bathe. Arrangements have already been made, so you need have no concerns on this account."
"Sir, I cannot do that! I will not do that!" she cried angrily. "In any event, we are not supposed to bathe until tomorrow morning! What I mean--"
"A trifling detail," the slaver chuckled, interrupting her. "To simplify everything for you, you and your sons will be clean before you are allowed to dine in my presence."
His fair skin flushed with anger, Fródwine stepped between the Southron and his mother. "Slaver, perhaps you do not understand. My mother is telling you that we do not choose to accept your hospitality!" His fist clenched, he flung his head back defiantly. "Now leave her alone! I warn you!" How much more was there to be borne of the dregs of slavery? First defeat, then captivity. Now was his mother to be degraded by this greasy pig of a man?
"Chose?" Esarhaddon raised an eyebrow. "Slaves have no choice in these matters! Move aside, boy!" he demanded, condescending amusement in his voice.
His eyes full of hatred, Fródwine surveyed the Southron's imposing figure, and he paused, intimidated both by the man's powerful, muscular body and the wicked scimitar which hung from his belt. For a moment, Fródwine felt quailing fear, but the arrogant smirk upon the slaver's face fanned the boy's anger into full-blown rage. Through a curtain of blazing red, Fródwine saw the slaver's features melt away. With an angry yell, the boy gave in to the blood fury and surged forward, swinging at the slaver's face with his fists. The Southron was far more agile than he appeared, however, and, dodging the blows, he quickly captured the boy's wrists. Pinning them tightly, he pulled the boy forward and laughed in his face.
Frumgár stared at the scene in alarm. Then, taking a deep breath, he dived towards the backs of the Southron's legs, grunting as he tried to wrestle him to the ground. The boy barely budged the man's solid bulk, receiving a vicious kick in the chest for his efforts. The breath knocked out of him, the frightened boy lay cowering on the ground. Goldwyn's frightened, high-pitched scream broke the flood gates of Fritha's tears, and, wailing, he clung to her skirt.
"Lads, do not be fools!" Esarhaddon warned. "Never forget that I hold your lives and the life of your mother in my hands!"
The Southron's grip was far too strong for Fródwine. Thwarted for the time, the boy did not struggle, but glared at his opponent, his eyes narrowing into tight slits.
Turning his attention away from his young assailant, Esarhaddon grinned at the crowd of guards and slaves who had gathered at the first cries of alarm. Alert, their bodies tense and ready, they waited only for their master's command.
"Men, stay back!" the slaver ordered. "The boy will settle down when he realizes the futility of his situation!"
"Fródwine and Frumgár! Stop this!" Goldwyn screamed, desperation rising in her voice. Her whole body was trembling.
"Stay out of this, Mother!" Fródwine turned his head and spat angrily to the side. "Keep Fritha away or he will get himself hurt!"
"A proud little peacock!" the slave master jeered, winking at his men, who laughed at the boy's struggles. "Now, boy, if you promise to behave yourself, I will let you go free. Maybe I will forget that any of this ever happened."
Enraged at the taunt, Fródwine twisted his right hand free from the distracted Southron's grasp. The youth's fist slashed forward, catching the edge of the slaver's jaw, driving the man's face to the right.
"You impudent little bastard!" Esarhaddon spat out as he brought up his left forearm, knocking the boy's arm away. Ignoring the sharp pain that shot through his arm, Fródwine struggled to escape, but he was no match for the slaver. The powerful man forced both of the boy's wrists together, holding them in a vise-like grip. Glaring, Fródwine trembled in angry frustration.
"Seize the other boy before he does something foolish!" came the harsh command of the slaver.
Before the guards could move, though, Frumgár had struggled to his feet. Lunging forward, he sprang on the slaver's back, grabbing his shoulders and wrapping his legs around the Southron's middle. Temporarily knocked off balance, the slaver stumbled forward but managed to retain his grip upon Fródwine. A guard sprang forward and roughly hauled Frumgár back. Grinning, the olive-skinned Southron held the struggling, crimson-faced Frumgár, dodging his feet as the boy kicked at his legs.
"Madame," Esarhaddon laughed as he held Fródwine at arm's length, "you have three fine sons. With their flowing blond locks, their pretty faces and well-shaped bodies, these two older demons of yours would bring high prices upon the auction block right now. In only a few years, the youngest will be ready, although there are many who prefer them that young. There is a market for handsome, well-developed lads, either as prospective fighters in the pits or as dancing boys in the taverns operated by men who fancy youths! I know several nobles and merchants whose appetites run to pederasty. They would buy the lot of them." The slaver smiled as he saw shock and disgust spread over Goldwyn's fair features. "If you do not exercise control over your sons, I will make sure they are sold to speculators who deal in such boys!"
Trembling, Goldwyn sucked in a shaky breath, her face pale. "Sir, you must not sell my sons for such purposes! The thought is too abhorrent for civilized folk! I apologize for their behavior! They were overzealous in their attempts to protect me and acted out of order! I beg you to give them another chance! I will vouchsafe their behavior!"
She could not bear the idea of her sons fighting against evil men or who knows what strange, loathsome monster spawned in the rank pits of the Dark Tower! Reaching her hand down, she protectively pushed Fritha behind her. Dancing boys in a house of debauchery - even the thought filled her with disgust. What would their father say if he knew that his sons had met such degrading fates? And pederasty? Her face flamed at the very thought of the word's meaning. She had never heard of such disgusting practices in her peaceful village, but she knew that such vile, reprehensible perversions existed among men of great vice and little conscience.
"Madame, have no fear on that score." The slaver's words sounded sincere, but Goldwyn was not certain whether she believed him. "While some men enjoy using boys as they would women, I am not among them, and neither are any of my men." He looked at her sternly. "Still, your sons must learn control and self-discipline. I do not want to feel a knife between my ribs some night when I am sleeping upon my couch." The slaver still held the scowling boy at bay, but the fight had gone out of the lad.
"Sir, they will give you no more trouble! Just please release us to go back with the others!" Goldwyn would fall upon her knees, degrade herself, beg him if necessary, give him whatever he wanted, if only he would spare them such a cruel fate!
"Nay, Madame, I will not release you just yet, for I am growing too fond of your company. And lest they try to sink their spurs into me again, your little cockerels will be given a period of time in which they may cool their tempers." Releasing his wrists, Esarhaddon pushed an infuriated Fródwine back into the waiting clutch of a guard, who pinned the boy's arms at his sides. "Men, cage these little roosters in one of the wains reserved for troublemakers and then set a guard over them! When they have calmed themselves sufficiently and given their word that they will not become violent again, I will permit them to enter my presence!"
"Aye, Shakh, they will learn to be good lads," the guard laughed as he and two others marched the glaring older boys away.
"Sons, please do as he says!" Goldwyn called out as she watched them shuffle off.
"So much dissension over a simple bath," the slaver shook his head and looked at her questioningly. "Do all your people have such aversions to cleanliness?"
Goldwyn stared at him unflinchingly. "Sir, this has nothing to do with cleanliness. My sons sought to protect my honor, as any man of the Mark would surely do."
"Madame, you do not know what I plan for you, but I have no desire to continue discussing this matter in the middle of my camp with my men staring at us! You will go with me into my pavilion now." He claimed her arm once again, and guiding her and Fritha between the two large black eunuchs who guarded the entrance, he led them into the interior of the tent. Pausing at the threshold, the slaver halted and turned to face Goldwyn. "Madame, you must stop here! Before entering my tent, you and your son must first remove your shoes and place them near the entrance of my abode. In the South and East, it is considered a sign of disrespect to enter a tent or building wearing shoes. Yours at least will be replaced by soft slippers, but unfortunately your son must remain barefooted." The slaver smiled with amusement as he beheld her consternation.
"Sir, is it necessary to remove our shoes? They are not that grimy with trail dust," Goldwyn politely explained, with only a trace of defiance.
"The removal of shoes when indoors is the custom of the South and East. You will abide by this protocol," the slaver explained in a patient voice. "Now you and your son are to seat yourselves over by the low table while I give my servants a few last minute directions." He waited until she had nodded, and then with a slight squeeze to her elbow, he released her arm.
Glancing about the tent uncertainly, Goldwyn and Fritha walked to the low table to which he had gestured. Spread over the ground was a cream colored carpet adorned with golden vines which twirled and twined across the heavy fabric. Cushions and pillows of a variety of colors, textures and fabrics were scattered about the table.
"Mother, this place looks strange," Fritha whispered as he wiped the last tears from his eyes and then hiccuped loudly. "Why do they not use benches and chairs? Why do they sit on pillows?" he asked, suddenly interested in the tent and its furnishings. "Do they sleep on the floor?"
"Son, you know that Aeffe had to eat with the Southron last night." Goldwyn looked down at the boy, who nodded. "She says that these people are too slovenly to sit upon chairs or benches and sprawl about the floor when they sup. Do not mention this strangeness to this man, lest you make him angry," Goldwyn whispered as she sat down gracefully, drawing her legs under her skirt.
Still gazing all around, Fritha sniffed and sat down cross-legged beside his mother. His attention was now drawn to the sight of the large black man bowing before Esarhaddon.
Esarhaddon's eyes flicked down to the eunuch who knelt before him. A few words in Haradric were exchanged between them, and then the eunuch rose, diffidently bowing his head and folding his hands over his large middle. Goldwyn and Fritha could not understand what the two were saying, but from the way the slaver kept looking at her, she was sure that he must be talking about her. She felt even more uneasy.
"Carnation, my men will not be dining with me tonight; instead, this woman and her three sons shall be my guests." Esarhaddon gestured towards Goldwyn and Fritha. "As you already know, the meal does not have to be elaborate, but make certain that something is prepared that would tantalize the palate of the young boys. See that a bath is drawn for this woman and her three sons. The boys are to have fresh clothing from the supply master's store." The eunuch murmured his understanding. "Now go to the tent of my slave Kishi," the slaver continued. "She and this woman should be approximately the same size, at least in the breasts and the hips, although Kishi is not quite so tall. Inform her that she is to send garments that would display the Northern woman's beauty to the best advantage. Now do as I have ordered."
Esarhaddon grinned when he thought how the Northern wench's lavish, full breasts would be displayed to the best advantage in the deep cleavage of a long overdress. Translucent baggy pantaloons would skim over her hips, the thin material revealing the shadow of her sacred pyramid of love, the rounded contour of her curvaceous hips, her silken thighs and trim calves and ankles. The mere thought of her gowned so seductively sent a warm feeling through the slaver's groin.
"To hear is to obey with diligence and alacrity, Master!" Inclining his head, Carnation touched his hand to his chest and then to his forehead. Bowing his way backward to the door, he turned at the entrance and strode away with great dignity.
Esarhaddon walked over to the table where Goldwyn and Fritha were sitting and looked down to them. "Madame, when you and your son bathe, remember that the water in which you cleanse yourself was meant for me. When you spread the creamy soap over your lovely skin, think of how soothing it would feel if those were my hands which were caressing you. Though I would be most delighted to join you in the tub, I will honor your request for privacy... at least for now." His dark eyes flashed a sensuous promise to her as he inclined his head slightly and then strode from the tent.
Blushing and shivering in revulsion, Goldwyn sagged against a brocaded cushion behind her. Soon, she and her son heard a commotion at the entryway as servants appeared, carrying a large tub and pails of water into the tent. More slaves filed in behind them, bringing soap, cloths and towels and placing them upon a low table at the side. Others carried clothing and carefully put the folded garments upon the slaver's divan. Their task finished, the servants bowed and left silently, closing the tent flap behind them.
"Mother, now that the evil people have gone, are we going to rescue Fródwine and Frumgár and then all of us will escape?" Fritha asked, his voice a whisper.
"No, my son. There are too many guards and we would be quickly caught. Later tonight we will make good our escape. Be quick, Fritha. Undress and get in the tub before that terrible man comes back!"
Both mother and son had already bathed and dressed when they heard the voice of Fródwine at the closed tent flap. "Mother, may we come in?" The boy looked up and down the long rows of tents, expecting at any moment to see the slaver, scimitar in hand, charging down the pathway.
"Aye, come in, son. We have finished our baths." Scowling at the servants outside the tent, the two boys waited as the guards drew the curtains open for them.
"Mother!" came the combined exclamations of the two boys as they stopped just inside the entryway of the tent and gaped in disbelief at Goldwyn.
"Those clothes! Never have we seen the like of them!" Fródwine exclaimed as he beheld his mother. Goldwyn's bosom almost popped out of the plunging neck of a long red frock which barely concealed her rosebud nubs above the swell of her breasts. Beneath the dress was a chemise of diaphanous material, the delicate ruffles of which peeped out from beneath the edges of the neckline, but the undergarment revealed more than it hid. Embarrassed, Goldwyn put her hand to her chest as she observed the startled expressions on her sons' faces. Several buttons held the gown taut at the middle until the material hung open beneath her waist, revealing a pair of light blue pantaloons and the calf-length hem of the filmy chemise. A little red and gold beaded hat sat atop her head, and yellow pointed slippers were upon her feet.
Red-faced and ashamed, Fródwine turned his head away.
"Our people would never wear such outlandish garb!" Goldwyn replied apologetically as she lowered her eyes in embarrassment.
"Mother, did they steal your other clothing?" Frumgár asked uncertainly.
"No," Goldwyn snapped. "I have dressed in this shameful gown because these savages would give me nothing else to wear! Now stop talking about it and take your baths quickly. I know the water is filthy, but I doubt they would give us more, and I do not want to ask. The slaver has provided fresh clothing for all of you, and though they are naught but the tunics of slaves, they are fresh and clean."
"Mother, these animals have humiliated our family!" Fródwine grumbled resentfully.
Goldwyn lifted her turquoise eyes and stared resolutely ahead. "My sons, I ask your patience in bearing this base insult! If our plans go according to expectations, we shall be free of these people after tonight!"
"Mother, I vow that I shall make them pay for it!" Fródwine swore angrily.
"Aye, son, someday, but not tonight. Now take your baths ere the Southron gets back!" Folding her hands in her lap, Goldwyn waited, hoping that this atrocious evening would be over soon.
When the slaver returned sometime later, he found Goldwyn nervously pacing about the tent. Frumgár had captured Fritha's giggling attention by surrounded him with a play fortress of pillows. Fródwine rose to his feet and hurled a stormy glance of warning at the slaver, which the slaver met with a smile.
"My guests, I am delighted that you are with me! Now please be seated." A broad grin lit the slaver's face. "The supper will soon be served. My Lady Goldwyn, you look charming in that most alluring dress. You will take your seat beside me, and your sons will sit on the other side of the table opposite us. Now enjoy yourselves!"
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.