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Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Warlord's Daughter - Chapter 6

Chapter 6

What do we do now?” Natan asked his father after he pulled the gag from his mouth. He was the last one Jomin had freed after the giant left. They were all still reeling from the shock of everything that had just happened.
Jomin shrugged and spread his hands wide in a gesture of helplessness. “I don't know. What can we do?”
We have to rescue her!” Hemi insisted. “The only reason they have her is because that man threatened us. She was winning!” His tone made it clear that that was the most incredulous part.
Hemi... how do we rescue her from a highly skilled group of soldiers like them?” Marek inquired hopelessly.
I can make some things to give us an advantage!” Hemi insisted. “I'll fill small clay pots with your cooking oil, and then put a wick in their corks. We can light the wicks and toss the jars. They'll shatter and set fire to the enemy!”
That's a good idea,” Amin murmured.
Personally, I find it terrifying that Hemi can come up with such a deadly weapon so quickly,” Dael muttered.
We also have our bows. We can shoot their perimeter guard and even the odds a bit,” Natan added.
We can't just leave her with them,” Tobin added. He looked ready to cry.
Jomin sighed. “I suppose that it's worth a try. But do you all understand that we may very well die before we can rescue her?”
Each of his sons nodded solemnly.
Very well,” Jomin agreed. “Let's prepare as much as possible.”

*******

Jomin and his sons carefully got close enough to the enemy to clearly see them. After three days, it was surprising that they hadn't traveled farther. The perimeter guard looked bored, and the giant seemed drunk with ego from his successful capture of the Warlord's daughter.
The looks on the faces of his men made it clear that he had been bragging about it for days. He started up again with a booming roar.
Who would ever have thought that the demon spawn would make such a good wife? When my King handed me the document declaring me married to Adira – should she be alive – I was disappointed, I admit, but now I could not ask for a more obedient woman! Adira! Come here!”
A moment passed in silence, but then the flap to the giant's tent opened, and Adira emerged. She looked... vacant. There was no light in her eyes, and her brothers wondered if she had been placed under some sort of spell.
Yes, my husband?” She inquired in a dull, flat voice. Aside from a couple of bruises, she appeared to be unharmed. Not even her dress was torn, though it was still dirty from their fight in the barn.
Sit,” he commanded.
Adira did not hesitate for a moment before obeying. She settled herself in his lap, where she knew he wanted her.
He roared with laughter. “You're like a doll! So tiny and fragile looking. I would never have believed it possible for someone as tall as your father to spawn you if I hadn't already seen your mother.”
He stroked Adira's hair. “You have her hair; so silky and soft. You take after her in almost every way...” He cupped her full breast. “Believe me, I should know.”
Adira didn't flinch. It was like she wasn't even awake, but she murmured. “So you've said.”
Are you hungry? Shall I feed you?”
Adira shook her head.
You haven't eaten anything all day. I want you to keep up your strength in case you already carry my son.”
I'm not hungry,” Adira stated emotionlessly.
Her husband gathered up a juicy morsel of meat. “Open up.”
She opened her mouth, let him feed her, and even chewed carefully before swallowing. He fed her some more; the moment he decided she had eaten enough, he kissed her roughly.
To bed!” He bellowed as he set her on her feet and lightly smacked her on her rear.
She complied without protest.
What's wrong with her?” Tobin whispered in concern. “She's not acting like herself at all!”
Considering that she damn near killed him in a fair fight,” Hemi added, “why isn't she resisting him? Why doesn't she tell him to leave her alone?”
Jomin placed a hand on each of their shoulders. “Perhaps she tried. She may be able to defeat him in a fair fight, but he has at least 20 men here. Perhaps they overwhelmed and subdued her.”
I think she's just waiting for the right opportunity to present itself,” Amin stated. “Think about it; she recognized him the moment she walked through the barn door. She must have been biding her time until she felt ready to go after him. She never let any of us know what she was thinking... she must be doing the same thing to him now.”
Natan sighed heavily. “So what now? Do we wait until they are all asleep, or do we try to rescue her now?”
Jomin looked ready to cry, but he remained strong. “I know it is hard, but our odds of success improve greatly if we wait.”
Yes father,” his sons all murmured in disappointment.
They settled in to wait, but as they kept a close eye on the tent where the giant was enjoying his wife, something strange happened.
Did you see that?” Hemi whispered as he pointed to a tree on the opposite side of the enemy's camp.
See what?” Dael wondered.
Movement.”
Just then, a pair of men seemed to appear from nowhere right in front of them. They pointed arrows at Jomin and his sons, and gestured for silence. A third man appeared behind them, and spoke to them as quietly as possible.
What are you doing here?” The man demanded.
Jomin didn't hesitate in the slightest. “My adopted daughter is being held by those men. We're here to rescue her.”
The man was silent for a long moment, but then he chuckled softly. “Lucky for you that we also plan to rescue her. How much do you know about current events?”
Well, according to that giant of a man, our King has been killed, and we've been conquered,” Jomin recapped.
I'm afraid that's true. Our new Queen, my Lady's sister, secretly ordered us to follow them and save her sister if necessary.”
Something's terribly wrong,” one of the archers insisted. “I was her father's Aide. Princess Adira is not the type to just give in. She would fight with her dying breath! Why is she just letting him...”
That's what we all want to know,” Marek muttered.
Hemi decided to redirect the conversation. “I've brought plenty of oil. We can quickly start a large fire, and then use that as a distraction while we rescue Adira!”
There was a pause, and then the leader of these men chuckled again, slightly louder this time. “That's a brilliant idea! Let me pass the oil around my men. If you are determined to help, focus on shooting the enemy from a safe distance.”
Jomin nodded, relieved that his sons could be of use, and still hopefully stay safe.
It seemed to take all night, but finally the rescuers were ready. They lit the wicks, and tossed the jars of oil around the enemy camp. The perimeter guards ran to investigate the trouble, and ended up being shot by the archers – aided by Jomin and his sons.
Inside the giant's tent, Adira was wide awake listening to her husband snore. She was patiently waiting for him to bring her to her sister. Once she knew her sister was safe, then she would kill this man and everyone who followed him!
Adira heard the first pots crash, and leapt to her feet. She smirked at the giant's stash of weapons. He was far too trusting now that she was his wife! Grabbing a dagger, she stabbed him just as the noise of a surprise attack woke him up. She chose a fatal spot, but one that would take him a while to die, and he knew it.
Do you still think I'm a good wife?” She stabbed him again; this time in his sword arm.
He grabbed her with his uninjured arm. “Strangely, knowing that you have this much spirit makes me want you all the more.”
Adira smiled at him with loathing. “Good bye, dear husband.” She kissed him like a good little wife should. “I hope you rot in hell!”
Clenching the dagger, she severed his windpipe, and left him to gasp for air as he bled to death. Shaking off his confining arm, she quickly threw on her dress, then grabbed her halberd in her dominant hand, and buckled her father's sword around her waist with her other hand.
She burst from the tent ready to kill everyone in her path if necessary. She knew someone was trying to rescue her, and in doing so, they'd ruined her plans. Even so, she wasn't about to let anyone die trying to save her.
With a roaring war cry, she attacked anyone she recognized as loyal to the giant. She was already covered in his blood, and the sight of her made them tremble.
Demon spawn!” They cried out, crossing themselves fearfully. Many would have run away, but there was a barrier of fire preventing their escape.
None of her rescuers had made it into the camp yet. They were busy shooting the panicked soldiers. As a result, she was the only one inside the circle fighting. She was prepared to fight all night, but the chaos allowed the others to strike down most of the enemy in mere minutes.
Adira stood in the center of camp. She felt almost numb as she looked around for someone else to kill. There was nothing left to do but leave. She contemplated the fire.
Wait one moment, my Princess, and we'll douse the flames!” Her father's aide shouted.
Adira shook her head, ran at the fire, then used her halberd as a pole to launch herself over the flames. Without even intending to, she landed in front of Jomin. Seeing him helped pull her back to reality.
For the first time in her life, she buried her face in a chest and cried. Jomin held her close and stroked her hair.
It's over now,” he murmured repeatedly.
The heat of the fire slowly diminished as the men sent by her sister extinguished it. Once the night was quiet and dark – except for a small fire to provide light – all the men except her adopted brothers got on one knee before her.
Their leader – the younger of the two Generals who had visited her father just before he died – cleared his throat. “My Princess... As a member of the royal family, and second in command of the King's army, we pledge our loyalty to you, and vow to help you take back our Kingdom from the dishonorable bastard who murdered our King!”
Adira pushed free of Jomin's arms, squared her shoulders, and faced them. She recognized her father's aide with a small smile, and then focused on their leader.
General Badinage, I'm glad to see that our men are still loyal to the King. I vow that I will make that usurper pay for what he has done to our country and to my sister!”
The men responded with a roaring cheer.
How many men do we have?” Adira asked.
All of them, Princess!” The General announced. “Word was snuck out to the armies when our King was assassinated, and we gathered together; hiding until your sister sent us orders to help you.”
Adira quickly thought this over. “Good. That means we can lay siege to the palace as a diversion while I rescue my sister.”
Yes, Princess!” The General agreed, and then got to his feet so that he could summon a messenger to be sent to the main army with orders to prepare for a siege.
Adira added orders to bury the dead and salvage anything useful from the enemy camp. Finally, she was more or less alone with her adopted family. Taking a deep breath, she faced them.
So now you know the truth,” she stated sadly. “I never was the carefree girl you thought I was. I lied the entire time...”
Jomin shook his head. “No... you may have lied about some things, but not everything. We saw the real you; the you you have to keep buried deep inside. I can't imagine how hard it was to be raised by the Prince.”
You're wrong!” Adira protested. “My father was a good man! He raised me to be strong! He raised me to follow in his footsteps!”
From what I gather,” Jomin rebuttled gently. “He raised you to be his son. He raised you to deny the fact that you are a girl. He must have pushed you mercilessly until you could hold your own on a battle field.”
No...” Adira shook her head. “He wasn't like that at all...”
Her father's aide, now hers, cleared his throat. “My Prince was everything the Head of the King's army should be. He demanded success, but he never pushed anyone too far. Princess Adira far exceeded his expectations... fighting seems to come naturally to her.”
Adira nodded, then looked down at the ground. “Jomin... You should all go home. This is going to be a long siege, and none of you are soldiers. There's no need for you to worry about me any more.”
Jomin couldn't think of any valid arguments. She was right; they weren't soldiers, but that didn't mean they wouldn't worry about her.
Amin reached out to place a hand on her shoulder, but she stepped back to prevent him. He sighed. “At least let me make sure you're not hurt anywhere. I can give you herbs to heal –”
I'm fine!” Adira snapped, glaring at him. “There's nothing to heal!” She turned her back on them and stomped toward the horse someone had prepared for her. As she left, she shouted a command over her shoulder. “Go home!”
The aide saluted her in a reflexive gesture that clearly indicated that he would follow her orders no matter what. Except they weren't aimed at him. He scrutinized the confused group of civilians. “I'm sorry, but my Princess has ordered you to leave. I suggest you do so before I have to have you escorted home.” He rushed to follow her.
Princess huh?” Tobin muttered, not asking anyone in particular. None of them had truly had time to process everything that happened over the last couple of days. It was hard to accept that their adopted sister and the Princess in charge of the royal army were one and the same.

Go To Chapter 7 

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