Authors: Lee Savino
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Sold to the Berserkers
A ménage shifter romance
By Lee Savino
The day my stepfather sold me to the Berserkers, I woke at dawn with him leering over me. “Get up.” He made to kick me and I scrambled out of my sleep stupor to my feet. “I need your help with a delivery.”
I nodded and glanced at my sleeping mother and siblings. I didn’t trust my stepfather around my three younger sisters, but if I was gone with him all day, they’d be safe. I’d taken to carrying a dirk myself. I did not dare kill him; we needed him for food and shelter, but if he attacked me again, I would fight.
My mother’s second husband hated me, ever since the last time he’d tried to take me and I had fought back. My mother was gone to market, and when he tried to grab me, something in me snapped. I would not let him touch me again. I fought, kicking and scratching, and finally grabbing an iron pot and scalding him with heated water.
He bellowed and looked as if he wanted to hurt me, but kept his distance. When my mother returned he pretended like nothing was wrong, but his eyes followed me with hatred and cunning.
Out loud he called me ugly and mocked the scar that marred my neck since a wild dog attacked me when I was young. I ignored this and kept my distance. I’d heard the taunts about my hideous face since the wounds had healed into scars, a mass of silver tissue at my neck.
That morning, I wrapped a scarf over my hair and scarred neck and followed my stepfather, carrying his wares down the old road. At first I thought we were headed to the great market, but when we reached the fork in the road and he went an unfamiliar way, I hesitated. Something wasn’t right.
“This way, cur.” He’d taken to calling me “dog”. He’d taunted me, saying the only sounds I could make were grunts like a beast, so I might as well be one. He was right. The attack had taken my voice by damaging my throat.
If I followed him into the forest and he tried to kill me, I wouldn’t even be able to cry out.
“There’s a rich man who asked for his wares to be delivered to his door.” He marched on without a backward glance and I followed.
I had lived all my life in the kingdom of Alba, but when my father died and my mother remarried, we moved to my stepfather’s village in the highlands, at the foot of the great, forbidding mountains. There were stories of evil that lived in the dark crevices of the heights, but I’d never believed them.
I knew enough monsters living in plain sight.
The longer we walked, the lower the sun sank in the sky, the more I knew my stepfather was trying to trick me, that there was no rich man waiting for these wares.
When the path curved, and my stepfather stepped out from behind a boulder to surprise me, I was half ready, but before I could reach for my dirk he struck me so hard I fell.
I woke tied to a tree.
The light was lower, heralding dusk. I struggled silently, frantic gasps escaping from my scarred throat. My stepfather stepped into view and I felt a second of relief at a familiar face, before remembering the evil this man had wrought on my body. Whatever he was planning, it would bode ill for me, and my younger sisters. If I didn’t survive, they would eventually share the same fate as mine.
“You’re awake,” he said. “Just in time for the sale.”
I strained but my bonds held fast. As my stepfather approached, I realized that the scarf that I wrapped around my neck to hide my scars had fallen, exposing them. Out of habit, I twitched my head to the side, tucking my bad side towards my shoulder.
My stepfather smirked.
“So ugly,” he sneered. “I could never find a husband for you, but I found someone to take you. A group of warriors passing through who saw you, and want to slake their lust on your sweet body. Who knows, if you please them, they may let you live. But I doubt you’ll survive these men. They’re foreigners, mercenaries, come to fight for the king. Berserkers. If you’re lucky your death will be swift when they tear you apart.”
I’d heard the tales of berserker warriors, fearsome warriors of old. Ageless, timeless, they’d sailed over the seas to the land, plundering, killing, taking slaves, they fought for our kings, and their own. Nothing could stand in their path when they went into a killing rage.
I fought to keep my fear off my face. Berserker's were a myth, so my stepfather had probably sold me to a band of passing soldiers who would take their pleasure from my flesh before leaving me for dead, or selling me on.
“I could’ve sold you long ago, if I stripped you bare and put a bag over you head to hide those scars.”
His hands pawed at me, and I shied away from his disgusting breath. He slapped me, then tore at my braid, letting my hair spill over my face and shoulders.
Bound as I was, I still could glare at him. I could do nothing to stop the sale, but I hoped my fierce expression told him I’d fight to the death if he tried to force himself on me.
His hand started to wander down towards my breast when a shadow moved on the edge of the clearing. It caught my eye and I startled. My stepfather stepped back as the warriors poured from the trees.
My first thought was that they were not men, but beasts. They prowled forward, dark shapes almost one with the shadows. A few wore animal pelts and held back, lurking on the edge of the woods. Two came forward, wearing the garb of warriors, bristling with weapons. One had dark hair, and the other long, dirty blond with a beard to match.
Their eyes glowed with a terrifying light.
As they approached, the smell of raw meat and blood wafted over us, and my stomach twisted. I was glad my stepfather hadn’t fed me all day, or I would’ve emptied my guts on the ground.
My stepfather’s face and tone took on the wheedling expression I’d seen when he was selling in the market.
“Good evening, sirs,” he cringed before the largest, the blond with hair streaming down his chest.
They were perfectly silent, but the blond approached, fixing me with glowing eyes.
Their faces were fair enough, but their hulking forms and the quick, light way they moved made me catch my breath. I had never seen such massive men. Beside them, my stepfather looked like an ugly dwarf.
“This is the one you wanted,” my stepfather continued. “She’s healthy and strong. She will be a good slave for you.”
My body would’ve shaken with terror, if I were not bound so tightly.
A dark haired warrior stepped up beside the blond and the two exchanged a look.
“You asked for the one with scars.” My stepfather took my hair and jerked my head back, exposing the horrible, silvery mass. I shut my eyes, tears squeezing out at the sudden pain and humiliation.
The next thing I knew, my stepfather’s grip loosened. A grunt, and I opened my eyes to see the dark haired warrior standing at my side. My stepfather sprawled on the ground as if he’d been pushed.
The blond leader prodded a boot into my stepfather’s side.
“Get up,” the blond said, in a voice that was more a growl than a human sound. It curdled my blood. My stepfather scrambled to his feet.
The black haired man cut away the last of my bonds, and I sagged forward. I would’ve fallen but he caught me easily and set me on my feet, keeping his arms around me. I was not the smallest woman, but he was a giant. Muscles bulged in his arms and chest, but he held me carefully. I stared at him, taking in his raven dark hair and strange gold eyes.
He tucked me closer to his muscled body.
Meanwhile, my stepfather whined. “I just wanted to show you the scars—”
Again that frightening growl from the blond. “You don’t touch what is ours.”
“I don’t want to touch her,” my stepfather spat.
Despite myself, I cowered against the man who held me. A stranger I had never met, he was still a safer haven than my stepfather.
“I only wish to make sure you are satisfied, milords. Do you want to sample her?” my stepfather asked in an evil tone. He wanted to see me torn apart.
A growl rumbled under my ear and I lifted my head. Who were these men, these great warriors who had bought and paid for me? The arms around my body were strong and solid, inescapable, but the gold eyes looking down at me were kind. The warrior ran his thumb across the pad of my lips, and his fingers were gentle for such a large, violent looking warrior. Under the scent of blood, he smelled of snow and sharp cold, a clean scent.
He pressed his face against my head, taking a deep breath.
The blond was looking at us.
“It’s her,” the black haired man growled, his voice so guttural. “This is the one.”
One of his hands came to cover the side of my face and throat, holding my face to his chest in a protective gesture.
I closed my eyes, relaxing in the solid warmth of the warrior’s body.
A clink of gold, and the deed was done. I’d been sold.
Almost immediately, the warrior started pulling me away.
I fought my rising panic, wishing that my stepfather’s was not the last familiar face I saw.
“Goodbye, Brenna,” my stepfather smirked as the warriors streamed past him, following their blond leader into the forest.
“Wait,” the blond stopped. Immediately the warriors grabbed my stepfather. “Her name is Brenna?”
“Yes. But you bought her. Call her what you like.”
The dark haired warrior tugged me on. I half followed, half staggered along beside him. My nails bit into my palms so I could keep myself from panicking. Fighting the giant beside me wasn’t an option. Neither was trying to outrun him.
The blond joined us, and the two warriors pulled me into the dark grove. Terrible thoughts poured into my mind. I belonged to these men, and now they would rape me, sate themselves with my body, then cut my throat and leave me for the wolves.
My eyes filled with tears, both angry and frightened.
They stopped as one and drew me between them. I shut my eyes in defiance, and the tears leaked out.
As I healed from the attack, I could make some noises, horrible, animal things, but they were so ugly, I stopped making any sounds at all. Sometimes, when alone, I’d sink into the river, open my mouth and try to scream. But no sound came out anymore. My throat had forgotten my voice.
Now the only sound in the grove was my harsh breathing.
I sensed the warriors on either side of me, their massive shapes towering over my fragile body. I was much smaller than them, tiny and petite beside their massive forms.
Right now I tried to remember to breath and submit to these men. One blow and they could kill me.
My heart beat so hard it was painful. I was ready to die.
But when they touched me they were gentle. A hand brushed back my hair, then stroked my jaw. One steadied me from behind as the other cupped my head and turned my head this way and that. The one behind me gathered my hair behind me. I held my breath as the two massive warriors handled me.
I realized the smell of blood had fallen away, replaced by another scent, an animal musk that was much more pleasant.
A finger ran over my neck near the scar, and I sucked in a breath. The hands dropped away.
Their faces dipped close to mine, and I felt their breath on my skin as they took deep scents of my hair.
“So good,” one of them groaned.
I didn’t understand. I was afraid of them taking me but I didn’t know why they weren’t.
“It’s working,” one murmured to the other. “The witch was right.”
As they dipped their heads and scented me, my heart beat faster in response to their proximity. Something stirred deep inside me. Desire. A few minutes alone with these men and I’d been more intimate with them than any other.
As one they bent their heads to mine, nuzzling close to my neck a tingling spread over my skin.
I felt it then, unbidden, a stirring in my loins. Ever since I had come into womanhood, my desires were strong. Every month I fought the pull to find a man and join with him. I was hideous and destined to be an outcast and alone. But each full moon my body came alive, beset by waves of roiling lust until I felt desperate enough to grab the nearest man and beg him to give me sons.
The heat poured over me until I heard a gasp—one of the warriors jerked back and stepped away.
“She’s ready,” one growled. Instead of frightening, the sound excited me.
What was happening?
“Not here, brother,” the blond rasped.
Without answering, the dark-haired one pulled me on.
For a while we walked, pushing through the forest and forded a stream. The heat in me faded as I followed, weak with hunger and fear, eventually stumbling on exhaustion numbed feet.
The dark-haired warrior stopped, and I flinched, expecting him to bully me into continuing on.
Instead, he guided me to face him. Again his hands came to me, stroking back my hair. I winced when I realized what he was doing: looking at my scar.
Involuntarily my head jerked and he let my chin go, offering me water instead. He held the skin while I drank, and when I’d had my fill he offered me dried meat, feeding me from his hand. I stared into the strange golden eyes, unable to keep the questions off my face: Who are you? What are you going to do with me?