4 months ago…
A tall, voluminous, dark-haired man walked in the shop and started browsing around. He reeked of sweat and another, less recognizable smell. Regardless, he was greeted with a smile and a ‘Bonjour’, as any customer would be. The man greeted back and looked at the available pies. His gaze shifted from the mushroom and butter one to the meat pie again and again. Traveler, the girl thought. “Going far?” she asked. The customer turned to her, with a mildly surprised look. “All the way to Lostlof!” he responded triumphantly. She thought that the destination was not that far but then again, she had never really gone further than halfway to Caen, when she was working in the fields the year before. “Ah, long way then” she responded to the man, “you will probably need two pies”. Veronique knew that Paeris was between her Village and Lostloft, and the merchant, depending on his load, would probably have to spend the night at an inn somewhere on the way, so he would be able to find other pies on his way -albeit not as good as hers- but she always tried to sell double or triple what the people initially went for. You see, coppers and silvers do not grow on the ground like wheat, as her father always kept telling the whole family. The merchant pondered a bit and then said “Aye, you ‘re quite right poppet. For a woman, you are quite smart. I will have one of each!”. Pffft, that was too easy, thought the baker while handing off the pies. “Wise choice sir, that will be 1 silver and 5 coppers.”, she said. “And how much would it be to take ya inside and make a cream pie out of ya?” responded the customer while handing her the coins, pointing to the oven room, a slimey smile on his face. Veronique had reached the age of marriage, 17 summers, but she would rather die a virgin or an old maid than ending up with a guy like that. At this age, she also knew by now that her frail body would not be able to fight off such a big man if he tried to attack her. She put on a naughty smile and exhaled “Oh, for you sir, that would be free, but you see, my father is in the other room, chopping the meat for tomorrow’s pies and I am afraid if he saw me with a man, he would be serving both of us in pie crusts. He might even have heard you. You ‘d better leave to save yourself but I will be thinking of you all day!” While the man was leaving, Veronique wished the meat in the pie would go stale from the heat and turn his bowels bloody. She had forgotten ever seeing him by noon.
Events like these were not uncommon, as the bakery was frequented by travelers of all kinds. Merchants, caravanners, weird druids and rangers. The location of the village, Araes, was such that supported quite a traffic regularly, something very convenient for a bakery, as one would not be in business for long without them. Travelers were mostly men and men have always seemed to try to get under women’s skirts. Even Isabelle, the fishmonger’s wife, who smelled like sardine oil from top to bottom reported getting inappropriate encounters. What can you do? Men will always think with their dicks, so women kept one or two daggers on them at all times to defend their honor.
The day felt endless and Veronique started cleaning the bread baskets which had emptied. At the end of summer, the shop needed to be kept open longer, as almost all the people in the village worked in the harvest. Tomatoes and plums, potatoes and artichokes, aubergines and figs which ripened early this year kept the villagers busy enough to prevent them from making their own breads and pies, resulting in Veronique’s long days of smiling to customers. The grapes would start soon as well, so while the women would be still drying and preserving fruits and vegetables of this moon, her mother included, the men would start making the wine. This meant that for another three moons, she would be away from girls and boys her age, who usually found time in the quieter seasons to gather and gossip or play games. For her, this was not the big tragedy it felt like to the others, in fact, lately she felt like she needed more than speaking to the same twenty people about the same 400 people. Apart from weddings and births, or secret relationships and pranks, there was not much to talk about. The lack of mental stimulation often resulted in Veronique daydreaming about traveling to all those places her customers often described, which is what she was doing now as well, while sweeping the floors. At least her father and brother baked in the mornings, during this moon. Waking up in the middle of the night was more of a torture than serving all day.
While she was almost lying on the floor, trying to recover a coin which had rolled underneath the counter, she felt the sunlight coming from the door behind her become less. “Oh great” she thought “another asshole wants to get served and I only have a couple of croissants and a loaf left”. As she turned her head around, still on her knees, she saw a pair of well made, black leather boots with metal spikes. What is a rich man doing in Araes? Lifting her gaze upwards, with her body following, she lost the obedience of her knees, as the man was like a prince. Broad shoulders, huge arms, a tiny waist, hair as bright as the sun, clean shaven with eyes like the deepest lilac flowers and teeth like those pearls she had seen peek through the curtain of a rich woman’s wagon once. For a brief moment Veronique thought she might be have fallen asleep on the counter and this was her dream but the sound of a basket falling next to her reassured her she was wide awake.
“Hello sir” she smiled “eeeh… wh- what can I do for you?” she said in the common tongue, hoping the man would answer something in the lines of “everything”. The blond man smiled back but not exactly kindly. His smile had an air of benign arrogance and it was as promising as the first swallow after a long winter. Just his enigmatic smile made Veronique wet. In the few moments it took him to answer, she was already blushed, something which she was extremely aware of due to the wave of heat piercing her body and with her natural fair skin, blushing was always too obvious. When the man finally spoke after what translated into ages in the girl’s head, he said in a deep voice with a strange accent “I came for exactly what you have”. “Let him say that’s me” said a girly voice in Veronique’s head. “A croissant!” the stranger completed his sentence, nodding towards the two croissants left in the small basket behind the counter. “Of course” she replied and with a swift move, like someone suddenly allowed her blood to go back to her brain, she turned and went behind towards the croissants. Just as Veronique was scraping her mind to find a way to start a conversation with the strange customer, he spoke again. “I come from far away and I heard this bakery has the best croissants in all the North, I did not want to leave without trying them” he said giving her the best opportunity to ask for information. “Oh, thank you… uhm… what is your name sir?” she cut to the chase. “Erik” the man responded. “Erik Nordmann. And your name mademoiselle?” Here it was, the strange accent was more prominent than ever. “Well, mister Nordmann, it is very kind of you to say so, I hope this will meet your standards. My name is Veronique. Is Araes your destination?” she exhaled, still blushed, hoping he would stay without thinking why this would do her any good. “Oh, call me Erik, please. Unfortunately, I cannot.” he responded, and Veronique’s heart clenched “I will only be here until tomorrow morning; lots to do” he continued, getting a leather pouch out of his pocket. Before Veronique had the chance to say anything, he added “Would you care to meet me tonight at the cemetery? I would like to show you something.” smiling again in the same fashion as he did when he walked in, handing her a silver. Pure joy took form in the shape of a blushed smile on her face. She nodded positively. “I will be able to come at midnight; it has to be a secret” she said and took the coin from his hand with a move such as to touch it for as long as possible. He got the message and gently lifted her hand to his mouth to kiss its back and turned to leave. “I will be waiting.” he said without looking back. Her intimate parts were wetter than ever.
The sun finally went down, the shop was closed and despite having dinner with her family with all of what that entailed, did not stop thinking of Erik for a moment. Sure, a lot of them tried to get between her -well, anyone’s really- legs, but Erik was just different. He seemed wise, he had class– and not just because he did not carry a stench like the others. His manners gave off a nobility of sorts but at the same time Veronique could swear that Eric could recite the names of every person in the village and he would still make them sound dirty, with that provocative smile of his and those inviting eyes. With every thought, the time felt more sluggish. At last, her parents and brother were going to bed. The only way out of the house was through the bakery, on the ground floor. Veronique had never snuck out before, which, come to think of it, was very surprising but then again she was working at the bakery since she was only a child of few summers, a profession which requires waking up at unholy hours so sleep was valuable no matter how restless you may be. Nevertheless, this was her very first time attempting this “escape”, therefore she had hardly any idea how she would do it.
Veronique shared a bedroom with her older brother, which was always annoying but right at that moment even more so. She had made a bundle of her clothes and hid it underneath the bed. As soon as she heard the first snore from her brother, she grabbed the bundle and slid out the door, to the staircase. It must have taken her ten times what it usually takes her to go downstairs, as she was desperate not to make any sounds. The creaky wooden steps did not betray her. In the dark bakery, she put on everything black she owned, so she would be less visible in the dark. Her clothes were, of course, all plain, all three of her dresses, her cloak and the corset. She and her mother would probably never be able to afford anything with any designs of embroidery on them, it was insane to even think of it. In fact, Veronique really liked plain, black clothes, unlike most girls her age who dyed their fabrics with flower pigments. She had her corset made out of the black cow, they had killed for meat during the past winter and both her woolen and cotton dresses were coal black, which brought out even more her flour-white skin and matched her raven black hair. She even put on her black ribbon, tight around her neck, because she thought this made her look older.
With her hooded cloak hiding almost everything but her eyes, Veronique slowly opened the bakery door, slipped out and locked the door behind her. “He couldn’t have picked a better place.” Veronique thought, and she meant it, as there was no doubt that the cemetery would be the one place in the village with absolutely no risk of them getting caught. No one went there at night for their dead and no secret couple would want to desecrate the place. Veronique simply did not care. The only thing she cared about was seeing him again. She ought to be afraid being alone at night with a strange man or at least because she was, in all likelihood, about to be deflowered, a thing which every older woman described as an absolute horror but, inexplicably, she wasn’t scared at all. Nevertheless, she decided to keep her two daggers on her, tied on each leg just in case but her soul was calm, Erik was definitely not the kind of man who would hurt her. She actually had this desire, yes, that’s what it was, a desire for him to hurt her, just a bit. She attributed that to the fact that she always wanted a very strong man and did not give it a second thought.
The full moon helped her find her way to the cemetery, located at the edge of the petrified forest. The tall cypresses and pine trees became bigger and bigger as she approached. There was no gate, no entrance of any kind to the cemetery, so Erik could be anywhere really. She removed her hood and she managed to see him standing next to the statue of a weeping woman. “You came!” he said, not with any shred of disbelief but as if he was also counting the seconds until they would meet, like her. He held out a hand, as inviting as always, and Veronique bestowed her hand in his palm. It looked so tiny next to his. “I would not miss this for the world” she said, which was true enough to make her sound like she had the confidence of a queen. Erik started walking towards the nearby hill and she followed next to him, her hand still in his, burning to touch more of him. “I lied at the bakery,” he blurted out. “I did not come in for the croissant, I saw you in there and I wanted to meet you”. What almost died when Veronique heard the word “lied” was reborn a hundred times with his next sentence. She looked him in the eyes, those magnificent, cerulean eyes which promised her more than his mouth ever could. “I felt your presence, I felt you feeling trapped in there and, by the dead gods, I needed to come in and rescue you.” he continued and left her hand only to envelop her cheeks in his palms. “How did you know?” Veronique said, without further explanation which seems is not needed to him, clearly his soul can recognize what her soul goes through. “There are many things I know” he said, “there is great power in this world, great magic and I want to share it with you, save you from the monotony of this place, you deserve more.”.
Could it be? Could this man know her so well even though they had barely exchanged a couple of sentences? Was it their eyes that said so much more? And what power is this? Does he mean love? Veronique thought all these questions inside her head must be creating an awkward silence. “Will you take me with you where you are going then? Will you make me your wife to get me out of here?” she replied, immediately regretting it as it sounded too good to be true and even terrifying for a man. To her amazement, he did not laugh out loud to her questions, nor did he start walking away. “You are part of something greater Veronique. If you choose to, you can become extraordinary, I will give you the tools to be fierce and powerful. So long as you become mine. I am afraid I cannot take you with me, my love, but I will be with you forever.” That’s it. She did not need to hear anything more than that. My love. Forever. The words might as well had lit up in the sky with raining fire, it would have been equally astonishing to her.
They had reached the top of the hill, where the greatest tomb of the cemetery laid. It was an ancient, stone tomb, flat on the top, with peculiar letters and a tree carved on the stone. Around it, three stone walls, covered in moss, leading to a dome, like an artificial cave. For a brief second, Veronique thought the man buried here must have been very important and rich. “Look at all these people” he said pointing to the graves, most of them just a carved, wooden plank shoved before a pile of dirt. “They did without ever knowing what this world is made of” went on and by the end of that sentence, he moved his delicate, vein stricken hand and lifted an anemone from the ground, without ever touching it. The flower levitated, freed itself from the chains of its roots and flew towards Veronique. Just as she was about to touch it, in awe, his hand became a fist and the flower suddenly collapsed in itself, becoming grey ash, scattered on the ground. One could see from a mile away that Veronique was at a loss. She had heard of magic but she had never actually witnessed anything like this. “This is but a glimpse of what is possible” Eric said in a calm voice. “You could have this and much more.” She blinked and to her surprise, Erik was not in front of her. She turned to look around and he was behind her. Another blink and now he was standing at the bottom of the hill. Another and he was back where he was in the beginning. “H… how?” she spat, knowing the moment she asked that it was a stupid question. Magic, obviously magic, nothing else could explain this. “Just with a thought.” He replied in the same, restrained manner as before. “It could be your thought doing this” he said and clenched his fist again while at the bottom of the hill a tombstone broke into pieces. “Or this” another move of the hand and a small fire lit on a dried, isolated bush at the edge of the cave-like tomb they were standing in. “Or this” and with the last one, Veronique was pushed by an invisible force towards the tall grave behind her.
He moved closer to her, so close she could feel his breath on her face, his hands gently on her waist. He lifted her like a feather and sat her on the grave. She went for his waist too, only to meet with muscles as strong as the cold stone she was sitting on. He leaned and kissed her on the lips, first softly, then with more passion, getting deeper into her mouth. She lifted her hand to his face. Her eyes were closed but this only heightened the rest of her senses. His right hand slowly lifted her skirt and caressed her thigh. “Say you are mine and the power will be yours when we become one.” he whispered in her ear right before he bit the side of her neck, hurting her just enough to create pleasure. She was long gone. She could barely gather her wits to say “I am yours. Make me yours. Take me!”. Like this ignited some sort of fire, Erik moved his hand to her pussy. “You are so wet… so willing…” he whispered as he slowly slid a finger in her slickness, making her gasp. His fingertip moved in circles outside her most sensitive spot and then went hand back and forth, resulting in Veronique’s chin flying up as she moaned. He added another finger, doubling the newfound pleasure she was experiencing, making her louder in this place where even ghosts are silent. With his thumb now on her clit, she felt like she was levitating, much like the flower a few moments ago, losing all sensation of her legs, as if she never had them.
Gently, he pushed her back on the grave and continued playing with her until she was just about to come. And then he stopped. This felt like torture despite the fact that he was still kissing her. She opened her eyes which met Erik’s. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “it will hurt.”. She understood and nodded as her heart skipped a beat and then she felt something massive enter her. It did hurt. A lot. Once more he bit down on her neck, causing the same surge of pleasure as before. Veronique gasped both in pain and ecstasy, her nails digging into his arm, hungry for blood. He moved slowly inside her again and again. Her wetness was already enough but her deflowering’s blood eased his access even more. She could feel it running down her thigh and she was even more turned on by that and by the sweet pain she felt. It was nothing like those old crones were describing, to scare the girls out of asking for this wonderous sensation. Without stopping his forceful thrusts, Erik slowly slid his hand inside her leather corset and fondled her breast, bringing her once again close to her peak. His tongue was elegantly playing with hers the whole time. “We must become one.” he whispered in her ear “Are you ready?” he asked. Veronique nodded and kissed him hard. He thrusted faster and faster. In her head there was no sense of space or time anymore, only pleasure. Pure, unbridled pleasure that had devoured all her essence. She screamed with satisfaction on her orgasm and he moaned like only a wild beast would do while lightning shone through his skin as his manhood erupted inside her. She hugged him harder, putting her ear next to his mouth to hear his roars. Her pussy clamped on his pulsating cock. When he pulled his dick out of her, she gasped again. His pink seed run down her thighs. He slipped a finger down there and then licked it. “The sacrifice is complete. I have tasted your blood,” he said. “Now you are mine”.