Warrior’s Bride (PT 27)

Chapter Twenty Seven

Garel loomed over the crumpled woman, her long hair fanned around her, his lips curving into a large smile. “Well I doubt that she will be bringing Cadell now, but I have no doubt he will be coming for her anyway.”
Kneeling, his hands flipped her over, his look taking in every perfect inch of her. “Oh yes, she will make a good queen”, an expectant light making his cold dead eyes almost glow. “I am going to enjoy breaking this one. She will fight for a long, long time.”
Standing, he flicked a look to the other warrior, contempt in the glare he threw at the man still bent in pain. “Bring her”, his snapped words making the other warrior stumble to his feet. A curt grunt was the only response as he scooped up the small woman, throwing her unceremoniously over his shoulder, her hair flowing down his back, the golden tresses swaying as the two moved from the cave.
Cadell moved cautiously around the perimeter of the meeting area. He knew he was early, but better to be early and prepared than walk into a trap. His eyes missed nothing as he took up a position he was sure gave him the best vantage point.
For an hour he waited, not moving an inch, even the animals around seeming to forget he was there as deer moved closer. The snapping of twigs had his eyes darting to the sound, though he remained still. Breaking through the heavy undergrowth to the clearing, Zandria and the Lady Nadia came into view. His lips twitched at the sight of Tialla’s friend. He knew that Zandria would have tried to come alone, not wanting to put the other woman in peril, he only imagining what kind of resistance he must have met if she was there. Seemed that the women in Leando in general were headstrong.
Once more his thoughts returned to Tialla, lightness filling him. How had he ever gotten so lucky as to deserve a woman like her? He held down the chuckle as the memory of his talk with Harbin flashed through his head. He had to admit the older warrior was right. He never thought he could feel the way he did about another human being, but he loved Tialla with everything in him and she would make him the perfect partner in life.
The sound of a Jibbit bird brought a smile to his lips. Zandria’s signal that all was well was their secret, he knowing that the other man would never betray it. Standing, he silently moved into the clearing watching the other two, their backs to him. Pausing, his brows furrowed in surprise as Zandria’s arm rose, his hand resting gently on Nadia’s shoulder, the woman covering his hand with hers in a tender motion. Seemed that he was not the only one to have found love in the region, his lips curving into a smile. Zandria certainly could do a great deal worse than with the woman who had been prepared to die for her queen.
Taking another step closer, Zandria spun around, his small crossbow in one hand, the weapon pointed at his heart. Stopping, Cadell smiled, his hands raised in a motion of surrender as he grinned. “You have not lost your touch my friend.”
Letting the weapon fall to his side Zandria laughed back, the two men moving forward as they embraced, both clapping the others back in greeting. Pulling back, Zandria’s handsome face was filled with fun. “So how was your holiday?”
Shaking his head, he could not help the large smile which filled his features. “One of the best. Thinking of making it a yearly thing”, his look sliding to Nadia, devilment in his tone. “And yourself Zandria, how was your week?”
He could see the way his friend’s eyes softened as they turned once more to the lady-in-waiting, his response warm. “It was also good my friend.”
Stepping forward, the two covered the distance to the woman watching them both warily, her eyes scanning the area, obviously looking for her mistress. Bowing slightly as they came to a halt, Cadell smiled gently, he seeing the wary look from the stunning woman. “Lady Nadia. As always it is a pleasure to see you. Tialla will be very pleased to see you also.”
At the mention of her mistress’s name, Nadia seemed to relax a little, though her look still flicked behind him. “I hope that you are well Lord Cadell. Where is my lady?”
Grinning, his hand opened in a gesture to follow him. “She insisted that we join her for food before we begin our journey back. She is preparing lunch, a feast I believe”, he adding more gently, “I did not want her coming with me, until I was sure that things were safe.”
He could see the approval in both Zandria and Nadia, before the woman chuckled, “The princess is cooking?”, her voice a little teasing. “I was sure that my lady could hunt, but I was not so sure of her cooking prowess”, her head lifting with pride. “But then again, she could master any skill. She is proficient in anything she turns her hand to.”
Nodding, Cadell began to lead the two back to their hideout. As they walked, he drilled Zandria for any news of Garel, both men aware that the evil warlord was notorious for using spies to gather information about his enemies. Cadell was sure that he would have discovered that they had seized Leando and that he planned to marry the princess.
Hearing that there had been no activity, or any sign of the man’s armies moving had been a surprise. Despite the fact that it would be suicide to take on both his armies and Harbin’s, he had expected some kind of retaliation – something, he uneasy at the lack of movement from the man.
Reaching the waterfall, he led the two to the small pathway leading behind the curtain of water. Not seeing Tialla, Cadell could not help the way his lips curved. She must be waiting for them inside, his steps quickening, he gasping in surprise as Zandria grabbed his arm, pulling him back just in time before the arrow, triggered by the small thread on the ground embedded itself in the tree to his side.
Fear thudded into Cadell – they had been discovered, and Tialla had been alone.
Zandria pointed to the ground, Nadia already dragged behind him for safety. Looking down he could see the two sets of large footprints, one set much heavier as they moved away from the secret cave. Tialla, where was Tialla! Panic squeezed his stomach, that feeling of helplessness making it hard to breathe. He had to find her and find her fast.

next installment {15th Nov}

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