Arena of Shame

Arena of Shame
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ISBN:  9781907753718
Author:  Kate Benedict
Word Count:  62,372
Format:  eBook



Punishment ExercisePunishment Exercise
Puritan PassionsPuritan Passions
Sinful SeductionSinful Seduction
Wages of SinWages of Sin

His good humour restored by the sight of her naked body, he winked at his mates and pulled her against him, his free hand plunging between her thighs as he brought his mouth down over hers. He thrust his thick wet tongue into her mouth and she nearly gagged on his kiss, gasping for breath as she wrenched her head away, but her struggles merely aroused him. When she tried to kick him he laughed and deliberately fell backwards onto the pallet, dragging her with him so she lay helplessly across his lap.
   'You've got to show them you're the boss,' he said to his comrades, running his hand appreciatively over her tight bottom. 'And the best way to do that is with a good spanking.'

Branna's life is torn apart when her tribe is defeated by the hated Romans, her betrothed beaten to death before her eyes, and she is taken as the spoils of war.

From the slave markets her path takes her from innocence to unbridled depravity. Can she survive, or will she become just one more sexual sacrifice on the altar of Roman decadence?

'Help me! Please, help me!' Branna pleaded, but the fleeing tribesmen were deaf to her cries. Stunned by defeat, and intent only on their own escape, the line of weary men passed the young woman struggling to right the toppled cart without a second glance.
   Branna stared at them with frightened eyes. The last remnants of Boudicca's proud army, they were a sorry sight to behold. Bloodstained and filthy, they limped past in an unending stream, some clutching wounds bound up with makeshift bandages, some using their spears as crutches, and some hobbling beneath the weight of wounded comrades. She gasped and averted her eyes as one man, half his face gone, staggered past her bent double beneath the body of a son or a brother, his one remaining eye staring blindly out from around a mask of blood.
   Her mouth set as she turned her attention back to the fallen cart. Taking a deep breath, she set her shoulder to the wheel and pushed with all her strength in an effort to right it. Her feet slid in the muddy earth, and the cart remained exactly where it was. Straightening up again, she aimed a vicious kick at it. Yet even if she managed to right it, there was no way she could move it now that her small shaggy pony was gone; she was sure someone had eaten him.
   'Leave it,' a harsh voice commanded, and she looked up to see a man older than her father gesticulating urgently. 'Run, girl, get out of here before the Romans come!'
   The Romans! Her stomach clenched with the strength of her hatred. Curse them! Curse them all! She spat on the ground. It was not enough to grind her tribe into poverty with their taxes and their moneylenders; they had to have it all. When King Prasutagas died without a male heir, they used this as an excuse to seize everything. And when Queen Boudicca protested, they scourged her within an inch of her life and ravished her daughters before her very eyes.
   Branna closed her own eyes against the memory of the day when she had been forced to watch her queen beaten like a common criminal and her daughters publicly abused and dishonoured. Even now she shuddered remembering the echo of their screams mingling with the jeers and catcalls of the soldiers. But they had paid for that, and they had paid dearly. Boudicca had been magnificent as she called her tribe to arms. With her long tawny hair falling to her waist, a thick golden torque gleaming around her neck and her cloak billowing in the wind, her words could have inspired the dead to rise. And they had not been alone in their fight. The Trinovantes had joined them, and together they marched against the might of Rome, and won.
   Andastra, goddess of victory, had favoured them. Camolodunum, with its hated temple to Claudius, had fallen first, the ninth legion defeated, with only its cavalry escaping. Londinium had fallen next, and then Verulamium. The skies had been alight with fires that burned for days and nights as everything was destroyed, and the shrieks of dying Romans had been music to the ears.
   It had been a glorious adventure and she, Branna, had been part of it. She could not possibly have stayed at home in the safety of the oppida when the world was on the move. Despite her mother's wailing and hand wringing, she joined the other women who chose to follow their husbands, sons and lovers to battle.
   Her face softened as she thought of Cerdoc, her betrothed. How fine he looked with his blue eyes ablaze with excitement. 'We'll show them,' he had told her, 'and with the booty I gather, we can buy sheep and cattle for our farm. And you shall have a fine belt and an embroidered tunic for your wedding day, and a mirror, too!'
   There was no time for a wedding, but in the eyes of Teutates they were one already. They had shared a makeshift bed beneath the stars, and his strong body had pleasured hers. Her lips parted as she grew breathless remembering their lovemaking… the feel of his chest against her breasts and the strength of his thighs and buttocks… the heat and hardness of his manhood as it slid inside her… she closed her eyes and shivered, remembering how she moaned and writhed beneath him, her hips bucking as she met each of his thrusts with one of her own, until they shuddered to release together…
   A heavy hand falling on her shoulder startled Branna back to reality, and she found herself staring up into the angry face of the old man who had urged her to run. 'Are you mad, girl?' he demanded, shaking her roughly. 'Do you want to fall into the hands of the Romans? Have you any idea what they'll do to you? Take what you can and run while you still have the chance.'
   Her chin rose as she stared back at him defiantly. 'I go nowhere without my man. I shall wait here until he returns.'
   'Teutates give me strength,' he groaned. 'If the ravens are picking his eyes, you'll have a long wait. Or are you going to stand here until Samhain when he comes back from the dead?'
   She stared at him in dismay. The thought that Cerdoc might be dead had not even crossed her mind, and now she shook it off stubbornly. How could that strong young body, so warm and full of life, be lying cold on a battlefield? It was impossible. 'I shall wait for my man,' she repeated firmly, pulling a small knife from her girdle. 'And if he is dead, then I shall follow him into the next world.'
   'So be it,' the old man said with grudging admiration. 'We must all make our own choices, and I choose to live.' He nodded at her in farewell, and rejoined the rest of his fleeing comrades.
   Branna watched him until he disappeared beneath the trees, and then she turned her attention back to the cart. If she could not salvage it, then she would take whatever she could carry. Pulling a small skin from the back, she began to pile their few remaining supplies onto it. It was a motley collection – a few strips of cloth, a wad of the healing moss used to pack wounds, some dried meat, a lump of hard cheese and a hunk of even harder bread. Then there were Cerdoc's spoils – a scattering of coins, a lump of amber on a thin silver chain, and a ring dented as it was chopped off the finger of a dead body. She sighed as she tied up the corners of her bundle, and hefted it experimentally over one shoulder. At least it would be easy to carry.
   She set the bundle down, wrapped her cloak around her against the rain, and sat on the edge of the cart anxiously scanning the faces of the passing men. Twice she leapt to her feet and twice she sank down again in disappointment, as the man she thought was Cerdoc proved to be a stranger.
   At last an undeniably familiar figure stumbled into the clearing, and her heart leapt into her mouth as she took in his condition. His clothes were torn and stained with blood, a long gash down his right arm was still dripping blood despite the strip of cloth he had ripped from his cloak to tie around it, and his face was a mask of exhaustion beneath a soiled mane of hair. Dropping her bundle, Branna ran towards him.
   'What are you still doing here?' he demanded, gripping one of her shoulders with his good hand. 'I thought you safely gone!'
   'Did you think I would go without you?' she replied scornfully. 'Did you think I would run away like a frightened girl? I am Iceni,' she added proudly, 'not some simpering Roman maiden.' She pulled him towards the cart. 'Come and sit down while I tend to your wound.'
   'There's no time,' he argued frantically. 'They're right behind me. Can't you hear them? In the name of Teutatis, leave me and run while you still have a chance!'
   She froze, her ears straining for sounds of the enemy even as she forced a smile. 'I hear nothing,' she lied, shaking her head, and ran to pick up her bundle. 'Come,' she said gently but firmly, 'put your arm around my shoulder. We can move more quickly if you lean on me.'
   Too exhausted to argue, Cerdoc did as he was told, and together they stumbled into the dark maw of the forest.
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Quality Storytelling by an Extremely Talented Author
Saturday, 9 January 2010  | 

I'm a huge fan of Kate Benedict. 'Arena of Shame' is beautifully written, historically correct and has just enough sizzle to keep the reader wanting more. I also recommend her 'Wages of Sin' and 'Sinful Seduction.' I eagerly await Ms. Benedict's next masterpiece.

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