I’m here again with yet another chapter of my book. I’ve decided in the end it’s more important for me that people get to enjoy the story than mere sales. Therefor I will share the whole book on this blog, one chapter a month.
I hope you will all enjoy this chapter and share any insights or tips for my next book
Chapter two – Hiding in plain sight
For the first night since Eve had woken without her memories it hadn’t rained. The mud had almost dried and it was much more comfortable walking barefoot without mud splashing up her legs. Still she avoided the road by going through the fields, this time making sure no one caught her trespassing. She wanted to avoid human contact so she could travel further without being stopped. The farmer’s wife had heard from others they weren’t the only ones that had armed men attack them and search their homes, she had warned Eve to be careful when she left. Eve understood the area was troubled and she didn’t want any part in it. She would travel south, summer was ending and she would follow the birds. Autumn would bring a lot of work in the area, but she wouldn’t want to be stuck up here in winter.
The fields seemed to go on forever until she finally left the last of them behind her and found herself in an open forest. The trees stood far apart and she had to force her way through thick under brush. Her bare legs and arms got scratched and her dress regularly got stuck on branches. Despite all that she felt great, the air smelled of summer and no-one would bother her here, she felt free. The wood seemed to get denser the further she went and the many ferns and bushes of thorns diminished, walking became easier the further she went from where she had entered. The forest would provide her food, she hoped. She didn’t know if she could hunt, and if she did, she didn’t remember how, but there would be berries and nuts she promised herself. At some point she found a small stream with just a bit of water. Thirsty as she was she drank from it and decided to follow it to its source.
In the forest it got dark early and Eve was forced to find a place to rest for the night. She found the roots of a tree, toppled by a storm long ago. They gave her shelter and she buried herself underneath them.
When the morning came with the singing of birds Eve crawled out of her hiding place and looked around. The forest was quiet, with a smile she continued along the stream. She still hadn’t found any berries when the sun stood at its highest point. The stream had gotten wider, she had seen fishes, but had no idea how she could catch them. She looked up often, but like the brush around her, the trees bore no fruit. Her stomach felt hollow when the sun hung low over the treetops, it wasn’t late, it just got dark early deep in the woods. When she found a place to rest she decided to stop. Cold water from the stream filled her stomach, but did nothing against the hollow feeling. She took off her dress and waded into the water, hanging her dress over the branch of a tree that balanced on the water’s edge. The stream had gotten deep and the water reached up to her thighs, it was cold but washed away the sweat and dirt from trudging through the forest. Suddenly she was disturbed by a man whistling, she turned quickly and saw three young men in a soldier’s uniform ogling her. Quickly she grabbed her dress and pulled it on while climbing out of the water. “A gaeth!” She heard one of the men say. “Aren’t we lucky.”
“Come here honey, we can use one of you at the camp.” The other said and Eve climbed out of the water. These might be the soldiers Miranda had warned her about she thought. But they would have food, and if they had work for her she was obliged to serve them. She approached them apprehensively. The oldest of the three grabbed her arm and pulled her to him. “Have we got plenty of work for you.” He said as another grabbed her butt and they pulled her along.
The camp was just a small collection of tents in a clearing in the forest. The three men’s friends quickly appeared to admire their catch. Eve had her arms wrapped around her, scared to make a wrong move.
“Take off your dress girl.” The older man told her. “Let us see the goods.”
Eve blushed but found her courage. “Why?” She demanded, “I’m a gaeth, not a whore.”
“Same thing love, only whores get paid and gaeth work for free, am I right?” The man told her. “You want to know why?” His smile suddenly turned into a snear. “Because we’re going to fuck you. Every last one of us, and I’m going first.”
Eve took a step back and looked behind her. Only trees, nowhere to go, she knew she wouldn’t be able to get away. “No!” A voice suddenly declared. All the heads turned to the man that had just exited the largest tent in the camp. He was wearing a fine uniform with the stars of an officer on his shoulder. “I think I’ll have her, maybe I’ll share her later, but you idiots will have to earn that first.” The man looked at Eve. “Come girl, into my tent.” But Eve stepped back scared. “Or would you rather stay here? With all thirty of my men?” The men cheered and Eve ran forward as fast as she can, diving into the officer’s tent. He followed her inside.
Eve sat down on a box and looked around, there was a pile of blankets and a traveller’s stove along with a whole set of boxes. The officer ignored her and set water to heat over his stove. He was obviously in charge of this small collection of soldiers, hiding in the woods. When he was done he looked at her. “Take off your clothes and lie on my bed.” Eve was too scared to argue and did as he said. He was searching one of the boxes for tea before sitting down on the box she had just left. “I’m not going to do anything to you, but if one of my men comes in they would be suspicious.” He told her.
Eve blushed, so he wanted to protect her by making her lie naked in his bed, just in case one of his men saw her? “Why won’t you?” She asked, wondering why this man surrounded by pigs would be any different.
“Because.” He answered. “I have someone who loves me, waiting for me at home and I won’t betray him.”
Eve blushed even deeper. He liked men, that’s why he didn’t even look at her as he offered her some of his tea. It was disconcerting, lying there naked, totally under his control, yet him not even looking as if he’s seeing her. “Don’t you find women attractive?” She asked him.
“I do.” He said. “Just not … sexually.”
Eve was laying on her stomach, her breasts between her elbows as she looked up at him, her back arched to push up her bottom. She couldn’t help herself, she just kept repositioning herself to show of her body and yet he didn’t react. When she turned over again, covering her breasts with her hands, pushing them up, he finally did. “I’d rather like you stopped that, you’re only embarrassing the both of us.”
Eve blushed deeply and quickly positioned herself more appropriately. “I’m sorry.”
Eve spent at least two days in the officer’s tent. She didn’t set a foot outside, afraid of the soldiers. The man, she learned his name was Kal, was always friendly to her. He probably enjoyed having her around, not for the reason his men suspected, but because she cleaned and because her mere presence boosted and protected his reputation. Their little play was about to end though. New troops had gathered in the small forest clearing. She could hear them outside, more and more men. As she was wondering why there were so many soldiers here, a man entered the tent. It was only the second time someone had in these couple of days and all this time she had been naked to play the part of Kal’s plaything. This time however, it was no ordinary soldier, peeking at her from the corner of his eyes, but a man in uniform. Kal saluted him promptly and Eve sat up straight. “I had heard you had a plaything Kal, but I couldn’t believe it.” The officer was looking at her now, drinking in the view.
“The men found her in the woods, sir.” Kal replied, he looked distressed for some reason.
“And you didn’t share her with them? How selfish of you.” the man laughed aloud. “Go and inspect the troops man, I have some work for your gaeth.” He took a step toward Eve and fumbled at the laces of his breeches.
Eve paled, this was it, Kal couldn’t protect her from a higher ranking officer. Why was she so scared? She was a gaeth, she had done this a hundred times before. All she had to do was lie back and let him have his way. But that wasn’t true, she hadn’t done this before, not since she had lost her memory. And it just felt so wrong. She crawled back into the corner of the tent. The man knelt in front of her. “This gaeth knows what I like, go on girl, give me a good struggle.” Eve blushed and the officer grabbed her ankle, pulling her towards him, she squealed softly and then clenched her teeth trying not to scream. And suddenly the man toppled forward, face down on the mattress. Blood started to pool all around him. Eve looked up and saw Kal staring at her, sword in his hand, he looked just as surprised as she did, unsure why he had saved her.
They both stared at each other in silence. Then Kal started to move. He filled his backpack with supplies. “Grab your dress, put it on, we’re going.” Eve obeyed immediately; he was still carrying his bloodied sword. As she pulled on the short ragged dress, Kal wiped the blade on his blankets and sheathed it. “Time to go.” He grabbed Eve by her arm and pulled her out of his tent. Some of the men looked at them, but none of them asked questions as he led her into the forest; someone whistled.
The rest of the day they ran, jumping roots, wading their way through brushes and occasionally running through small streams to cover their tracks. How long until they realised they wouldn’t come back? How long until the body was discovered in Kal’s tent? Eve tried not to think of it. Tried not to think of why Kal would decide to save her. He was a deserter now, a deserter and a murderer. They would hang him when they found him, and all that to protect a gaeth. Gaeth didn’t need protection; they worked for everyone, even when the work involved … that.
The sun had just risen and Eve sat up on the side of a fallen tree, Kal was awake already and pacing back and forth. It seemed they had managed to escape the camp without being followed, they hadn’t heard or seen anyone in two days. She was immensely tired and her feet hurt from running barefoot through the woods. She was definitely not used to running for days. As a gaeth she should be used to working long hours, but at the farms she had learned she had no stamina and running had been even worse. It made her wonder what kind of work she had done before she lost her memory. With a blush she thought back to the soldiers, the kind of work they offered was probably a lot less tiring than what she has had to endure these last couple of days.
Still she enjoyed being back in the forest, out of the tent. Kal had provided food through hunting, so she hadn’t been hungry either. They had only eaten meat, none of the fruits she had thought she would be eating out here. Without Kal she would probably starve. Still, his grumpy moods and uncomfortable silences were one of the least enjoyable aspect of her days. He saved me, Eve reminded herself, and lost everything by doing so. No wonder that he wasn’t the friendly, happy man she knew before.
“Why did you do that?” Kal asked, he suddenly stood in front of her. They hadn’t talked about it since their escape.
“What do you mean? I didn’t do anything.” Eve replied, it was Kal that had attacked his superior, she hadn’t asked for his help, but now he looked angry, perhaps finally venting his frustration.
“You’re a gaeth, but when he wanted something from you, you hid from him, you looked terrified, just like when my men wanted you.” He sounded honestly confused.
“I was scared!” Eve cried out. “What did you expect?”
Kal flinched at her sudden outburst. “I expected a gaeth to behave like one. I protected you from my men because even for someone like you a group of soldiers can be too violent. But in the safety of my tent, you could’ve given that officer whatever he wanted.”
Eve picked up a stick and threw it at him. She was surprised at her own anger, a gaeth was never allowed to use any form of violence. “Someone like me? I am a person, just like anyone else and I did not ask you to stab him, I never asked for your protection!” She didn’t know why she was yelling, she was tired and scared, the birds around them had gone silent; she didn’t know who she was or what was happening to her, but it felt good to yell at someone.
Kal seemed to have his own plan for venting his frustration however. He grabbed Eve by her arm while dropping onto the tree trunk next to her, pulling her over his lap in one swift motion. It seemed protecting her did not include from himself as he pulled up her short black dress to bare her bottom. Eve squealed, but it didn’t help as Kal’s strong hand smacked her bottom. Eve struggled, but the military trained officer held her down easily, letting his hand rain down on her behind. The smacks echoed in the forest, accompanied by screams and moans and Eve’s kicking bare legs. She quickly surrendered to the sudden punishment, flinching at each smack, but trying not to fight. She realised how ungrateful she had sounded before. Kal had given up everything for her and she had responded by throwing a stick at him. She blushed deeply, not only because she was being spanked, but because for the first time she knew she deserved to be spanked. Of course that didn’t stop her from begging him to stop. Her bottom felt on fire from the relentless smacks. She tried to assure him that she was sorry and would amend her behaviour. Still, Kal didn’t stop until she was sobbing and very sore. When she finally got up she turned to look at him, he seemed calmer now. “I’m sorry. You were right, I should thank you for saving me.” She managed, trying to hide her shame.
Kal sighed and stood up as well, she was wrong, he didn’t seem calm at all, just… determined. “Pull up your dress.” He said. Eve blushed and pulled it up, gathering it above her hips. “We’re going, you’re walking in front of me so I can watch you and you don’t run away.” Eve blushed and started walking. She wanted to complain that she wasn’t going to run away, and why did her bottom have to be bared? For a moment she thought he wanted to look at her freshly spanked cheeks, but she remembered he didn’t like women that way. Suddenly however, she heard him break off a branch from a tree…
Here deep in the forest Eve walked in a shadowy world with occasional sunlight playing on the ground at her feet. Many of the small brushes had flowers; Eve couldn’t imagine being farther away from human civilisation. She couldn’t slow down to enjoy the beautiful surroundings however, because when she did, Kal swept the thin tree branch in front of him, striking her sore bottom. She already had a few red stripes across her cheeks; they were a constant reminder of her ungrateful behaviour. She wondered how long he was going to treat her like this and when he would return to his good-natured self. Perhaps never she thought, his life was changed now. He would never be able to go back to his friends because of her; back to the man he loved. She wanted to believe that he was cruel, that she didn’t deserve this treatment, but she knew this wasn’t true. What did Kal know about her after all? That she was a gaeth, found in the woods, but that she didn’t do as she was told and lashed out at the people that helped her. No wonder that he no longer treated her as a friend. “Kal, where are we going?” She asked, trying to spark a conversation.
“Somewhere nobody knows us.” He answered grimly.
Eve relaxed a little, so he wasn’t going to turn her in, which was something at least. “Kal, can we stop soon, I’m tired.” She said, using the sadness in her voice to try and get some sympathy. But then she heard the swish of the branch and pain suddenly blossomed across her bottom. She jumped up and moaned. Kal wasn’t in the mood for talking or slowing down. She increased her pace again, staying well in front of him.
When the sun finally hid behind the trees again Eve didn’t know what hurt more, her feet or her red striped bottom, but Kal finally told her they were going to stop for the night. He threw away the switch he had been using on her and looked her in the eye. “Can we go on without that tomorrow?” He asked her.
Eve didn’t know what to answer, but something told her he had finally regained his old composure. Instead she threw herself in his arms and hugged him.
Kal stepped back in surprise, but then held her. “You’re the strangest gaeth I have ever met. Did you know that?” Eve nodded against his chest and Kal stroked her hair. “No more complaining?” She shook her head. “No more throwing sticks?” She shook again. “And you’re going to do as you’re told and travel at a decent pace?”
Eve looked up at him. “I promise.”
Kal smiled and reached down her back, finally pushing her dress back down, the thin fabric just long enough to cover the red welts on her bottom.
They found a group of trees bunched together that would hide them from sight as they slept and Eve tried to make herself comfortable as Kal went in search of fresh water to fill his bottle. Safely away from his eyes she pulled the small pot of cream she had been hiding under her dress since she left the farm. With a blush she remembered the last time she had used it, but now she only had time to smear a thin layer across her sore backside. She had to save some for the future, her new friend wasn’t cruel, but he was strict…
When he returned to their hiding spot they decided to get some early sleep. She eased herself against his back, feeling safe with his body against hers. For a moment she wondered if it made him feel uncomfortable. But then she shrugged it off; he couldn’t be half as uncomfortable as she was with her bottom sore and stinging beneath her dress.
“I think we’re in Syr now.” Kal said the next day. They were walking side by side now; the forest was getting less dense.
Eve didn’t know anything about her past, but for some reason she had no problem placing Syr: one of the five realms in the high kingdom. Syr wasn’t a very important region, mostly farmland and rich merchants travelling between villages and cities. But she knew they had been travelling south, if they only now crossed the border into Syr, that meant they had come from the most northern realm: Braich. For the first time it seemed she knew something about herself, where she was and where she was coming from. “Why is Syr gathering soldiers?” She asked, as if it was normal for a gaeth to wonder about such things.
Kal answered her anyway. “Those aren’t Syr soldiers, we … they are from Braich, they’re heading east.”
Braich soldiers on Syr soil, it scared Eve more than she could explain. But Kal was leading them in a more western direction, to a safer place. There were only small villages in the west, on the borders of the high kingdom. Nobody would know them there. But secretly she did not want to return to a world with other people, a world where she was a gaeth. She wanted to stay in the forest. But she knew without Kal she wouldn’t survive out there on her own.