The door opened letting in the cold wind and mist of a late autumn night. A lone figure wrapped in a travelling cape stepped through the sill. The richly embroided hooded cape identified him as a man of means, the long sword, other weapons thrust in his wide belt and his large frame identified him as a war man and a man not to trifle with. When he shrugged his hood on his shoulders, his bearded handsome but scarred face seconded the impression.
The inn was empty but for the innkeeper behind the bar and a serving wench cleaning the tables. The visitor chose a table, and holding his sword aside sat down. The innkeeper hovered near the big man using a dirty cloth to throw bread crumbs on the floor. "What's yer wish, sire?
"Food, wine and a bed for the night." He fished a coin from a pocket and threw it on the table. "Here's a talent for yea troubles my good man."
The innkeeper pocketed the coin eagerly. "We're almost with no food for such as you, sire, only a stew and some bread, but we have good wine and the bed is of fine hay if I may say so."
"Good. It will suffice." He nodded to the serving wench that was busy pouring wine from a barrel. "And a bed warmer?"
"This ain't a brothel, good sire. What the wench does is her business. Sometimes she takes with a guy and others not. You will have to ask her by self."
The wench put in front of the traveler a bowl of steaming food and a wooden spoon. A wooden goblet full of dark wine was set near his right hand. She brought a bread loaf and breaking it in half offered it to the man.
The traveler gazed firmly at the woman. She was wearing a dark grey dress long enough to sweep the dirty floor, the bodice elevated her breasts increasing the cleavage, her long neck held her pretty but dirty face framed on top and sides by a nest of unkempt red locks. Her skin, where the dirt permitted to see was milky white and spotted with freckles. Her quick blue eyes tried to avoid the warrior's grey-steel ones. Unnerved by his stare she tried to throw the bread on the table and leave, but he grabbed her hand in a steely grasp.
"What's your name, pretty wench?"
"Linda, Sire. Please release my arm you're hurting me..."
The big man didn't take heed of her plea. "How much for a night in the hay, pretty Linda?"
"I ain't a whore, Sire, please release me..."
He forced her nearer. His eyes burned holes in her face. "How much, little one?"
"Five talents Sire. Up in front."
He released her and grabbed the spoon. "After I dine, you'll come with me. If you're any good you'll get half a talent. If you're very good, you'll get one talent. If you're a lousy lie, I'll wallop your backside until you think it fell from your skinny body for being pretentious and pricing yourself as a princess. Nay, I wouldn't pay a princess five talents. And consider yourself lucky that I don't wallop you any way because you asks for payment up front from a knight."
He immersed the spoon in the bowl and proved the stew. He nodded to the innkeeper. "Not bad, he growled. Taking one of his knives from his belt he cut a slice of the bread and started some serious wolfing of the food. From time to time he gulped the wine wiping his lips with the sleeve. He didn't pay any more attention to the serving wench.
She scurried to the kitchen. "What a dirty bastard!" She spat to the innkeeper. "See if I go with him!"
"Calm down, Linda. Be a good girl and don't give this squire any trouble. I know his kind. He is capable of giving you the switch and then use his sword on my neck only to be nasty. Go there and open your legs pretty nice for him. It ain't like you hadn't done that before. And look at him, you could do much worse."
Linda looked at the huge man slurping his stew. "I prefer to lay with a pig."
The innkeeper got angry. "Look girlie, I'll take your hide if I get any trouble from him because of you. Go, he is done."
The big man swept the empty bowl aside and looked at the wench who appeared in front of him propelled by the innkeeper's hand on her backside. "Bring with you a basin and a couple of jugs of water. A washing cloth. A clean towel." He looked at her doubtfully. "You have some soap?"
"We have, squire."
"So bring it. Where's me room innkeeper?"
The innkeeper guided the knight to a room with a large wooden bed filled with fluffy looking hay, covered by wooly blankets and bed clothes. The big man tried the bed. "Softer than my usual fare, but it will do. Bring another goblet of wine, good man. Where's the wench?"
"Immediately, Sire." The innkeeper bowed getting out of the room. I'll make sure she's here in a trice."
Waiting for the wine and water the big man divested his upper clothes revealing a muscular torso, covered with scars and matted with bear-like thick hair. Depositing his weapon's belt on a chair, he sat only in his boots and leggings on the bed's edge.
The door opened and the serving wench came in followed by the innkeeper carrying wine goblet, water jugs, a washbasin, towels, washcloths and a bar of crude soap.
"Anything else, Sire?"
"No, just close the door with the key inside."
"No key here, Sire. But you can lock the door with this bar," he pointed, before leaving and closing the door behind him.
"Come here, wench, help me with the boots. Straddle my leg with yer butt to me." Linda obeyed. She straddled his leg, grabbed his boot and with help of his other boot pushing firmly against her buttocks, she managed to take it off. The process was repeated successfully.
"Now we will wash your face and hands and see what yer look like below all that smut." He poured water in the basin, dissolved soap in it making a lot of suds, picked a washcloth, soaked it in the soapy water and grabbing Linda by her neck started to wash the smut from her face, neck and bust. Linda spurted soap bubbles and protested but had no way of escaping his deathly grip.
After using a towel to dry her face and bosom, he exclaimed "yer mighty purty, little one." He picked a bronze mirror and showed her the results. "Let's do it on my face as well," he laughed. "Yer can exact yer revenge."
Linda did it with vigor. They washed their hands as well and laughed at the dirty water in the basin. Linda emptied the basin out of the window, while the man sat on the bed and took something from his weapon's belt. When Linda returned she saw the crop in his hand. She looked warily at it and asked. "It's to use on yer horsey, Sire?"
"It's to use on anything me ride, wench. It's time for yer to earn your half a talent or yer beating. Take your dress off."
She didn't fuss about the order. It was a simple thing to open the fasteners and slip out of her only garment. She wasn't using anything beneath, not even boots. She worked barefooted and it showed on the color of her feet.