Emily scrabbled her way up the most likely looking bank, using the dangling tree roots like mountaineering ropes, until she reached the top. Beyond the fence was a stretch of fallow field, some belts of trees and then the low hill on which Dunscombe Castle stood. That had been somewhere she would have liked to visit, but the guidebook said it was not open to the public. She had wondered if she could make a request for a private viewing but now she just wanted to see the back of the place.
She ducked through the fence and stood upright.
‘Stop right there!’ boomed a commanding voice.
Emily twisted about and saw man advancing towards her. A little way behind him stood a land rover.
He was dressed in a tweed jacket, trousers and cap. He also carried a shotgun, but unlike the gatekeepers he was pointing it directly at her. As he advanced closer she saw he was in his late thirties or early forties, with broad shoulders, a strong Roman nose, heavy brows and a square jaw. There were things hanging from the sides of his belt half concealed by his jacket: a length of chain and what might have been a riding crop.
By now Emily was in no mood to be shouted at. ‘And who the hell are you?’
‘I am Alaric Marchmount and you are trespassing on my private land,’ he said. ‘Explain yourself!’
‘I had to climb out of that footpath of yours,’ Emily replied, struggling not to appear intimidated by his gun. ‘The gatekeepers said the toll was taking nude pictures of me.’
‘That’s quite correct, I set it myself. What of it?’
He was looming above her now and she realized he was head and shoulders taller than she was. Piercing flinty grey eyes transfixed her. It was hard to return their gaze but she made herself stand her ground.
‘“What of it”? Don’t you realize it’s an insulting, chauvinistic and sexist thing to ask?’
‘No. It indicates the value I put on female flesh. Some women have bodies that deserve celebrating and I enjoy keeping a record of them. It’s a perfectly reasonable price for the privilege of using my footpath.’ The gun barrel was still pointing at her. ‘And now you will pay it or face the consequences…’
Emily gulped, dragging her eyes away from the menacing barrel. But this was 21st-century England, not some lawless wilderness, she reminded herself. ‘You may talk tough, but I know you won’t shoot me just for not paying your sick toll. Now I’m going to find the quickest way off your land…’
And she turned her back and strode away.
Emily heard the gun go off with a frightening bang and she felt the shot strike the backs of her legs, stabbing through her jeans as though she was being stung by a dozen wasps. She shrieked more in shock at the actuality of it than in pain and stumbled and fell to the ground. In horror she twisted about to see the backs of her legs were feathered with fluffy red tufts which were tails of a dozen small sharp darts that had embedded themselves in her calves and thighs. Even as she reached out a trembling hand to pull them out of her flesh she felt the life leaving her legs as a terrible cold numbness spread through them.
‘Stun shot,’ Marchmount said, striding up to her as he ejected the spent cartridge and reloaded his gun. ‘The dartlets are filled with a local anaesthetic. They’ll recover perfectly well but for the next twenty minutes there will be no running away from me, young lady.’
‘You insane bastard!’ Emily shrieked at him, clutching at her numbed legs in horror. ‘You actually shot me!’ She flopped onto her side scrabbling for her phone, desperately hoping there would be a signal now. ‘I’m going to get the police onto you…’
He reached out one big hand and tore the phone easily from her grasp. ‘You are not going to call anybody. You are the one in breach of the law. Now I will have that toll.’
‘What?’ Emily groaned. ‘Give me back my phone!’
‘It is confiscated. I do not permit uninvited visitors to use them on my land. Now you will pay what you owe me. We will consider the matter of your trespass later.’
‘And you can go fuck yourself!’ Emily sobbed, struggling to sit upright and pull the darts from her legs.
Marchmount bent and slapped her twice across the cheeks, once with the flat of his hand and then the back. His hand was big, hard and strong and the blows made her head ring. She clutched at her burning cheeks, dizzy not so much with the pain of the slaps as the fact that they had been delivered so deliberately and without hesitation.
‘You will not insult me again or you will suffer the consequences,’ he warned her. ‘Now you will remove your clothes, or else I will numb the rest of your body and remove them myself. Being shot at this range will be quite painful before the anaesthetic takes effect.’ He levelled the shotgun at her once more. ‘Which is it to be?’
Emily looked into his hard eyes and realized that he meant it. He really would shoot her again and strip the clothes off her while she lay numb and helpless. He was insane! But here, on his land, he was the master. She looked about wildly but there was no one else in sight. The only people within earshot might be the gatekeepers, and they would hardly aid her against their employer.
‘You have ten seconds to start undressing,’ Marchmount said.
She had no choice…
Biting her lip Emily shrugged off her backpack and then peeled her jersey up over her head. Getting her boots and trousers off her numbed legs was the most awkward part. She had to bend them with her hands to reach the laces and before she could pull her trousers off she had to pluck the darts from her legs. Fortunately it did not hurt because of the numbness they had imparted. They had left little bruised puncture marks in her flesh. Squirming about with shameful awkwardness she finally wriggled her panties down off her legs and then lay sprawled trembling on the grass, half resting on her elbows before Marchmount, totally naked.
With his boot tip he casually prodded her limp legs wider, exposing her groin. She stifled a whimper of fear and disgust as he looked her over without any sign of doubt or embarrassment, only intense fascination.
Emily’s skin was fair where it had not been lightly tanned by her recent days outdoors walking. She had shoulder length wavy dark hair combed back from a high forehead. Her face was bright and open, with hazel eyes, dark thin peaked brows and, normally when it was not pinched in fear as it was now, a wide smile. The bridge of her nose was slightly scooped. Her full rounded breasts stood out from a slender chest. They were capped by brown nipples that swelled from buttons to plump cones when excited. Her waist was tight and her navel a narrow slot. This emphasised the flare of her hips into full fleshy thighs and smooth, deep cleft buttocks. A thin strip of fine wispy pubic hair ran down to the apex of her tight cleft from which the tongue of her inner labia protruded easily.
Marchmount nodded. ‘Yes, I thought you would have a good body. Now I’ll make proper use of it…’
He picked up her pack and stuffed her discarded clothes and boots into its side pockets. Then he unhooked the coiled chain from his belt. Emily now saw it had a leather handle on one end and a loop on the other. Before she could stop him he had dropped the loop over her head and pulled it tight about her neck. It was a dog’s choke chain leash!
‘You’ll come with me,’ he told her, gathering up her pack.
‘I can’t walk!’ Emily gasped.
And he set off back towards the land rover, holding the handle of her leash in one hand and her pack and his gun in the other, dragging her across the ground behind him by her chain, her numbed legs trailing uselessly after her.
Emily shrieked and choked as the loop tightened painfully about her neck and desperately began to crawl after him on her hands and elbows, clawing herself along through the rough grass, its stalks brushing over her bare breasts and scraping down her belly. There was nothing else she could do when he was treating her as if she was a rag doll. Oh God, he was strong… like some medieval throwback to a more brutish age! A throwback with a gun, a castle estate and total power over her!