Warrior’s Bride (Pt 6)

Chapter Six
Harbin once more shook hands with Cadell, both smiling at the other as her uncle spoke, his words causing a confused frown to sit on her smooth brow. “I will see you soon Cadell… And in much happier circumstances I hope”, her captor nodding with a firm movement of his head.
As Harbin turned, his eyes fell on her, her uncle giving Tialla a big wink as he spun round and, with his procession, once more moved back out of the throne room. Moving to stand by her side, Cadell ordered his men to leave, declaring that he wished to be alone with the princess, Tialla hearing him call her respectfully by her title for the first time since they met.
As the room emptied she leapt to her feet, her chin raised defiantly. “Can I assume that my uncle explained what would happen if you and your thugs did not leave my realm immediately?”
Cadell raised his eyebrows, a hint of laughter in his eyes as he moved closer to where she stood, Tialla feeling a small shudder run through her as he towered over her, his imposing figure closer than she was comfortable with. “I think that you will find princess, that had my men been ‘thugs’ then your realm would be in a very bad way. My men are trained and have a very strict code by which they live. They do not hurt the innocent, because if they did then they would have to answer to me.”
She glared malevolently back at him. “You dare to say that to me. You attacked us with no warning and with no reason… Everybody who was hurt here today was innocent.”
He nodded softly, moving back a little from her. “The casualties were regrettable”, her look disbelieving as she spluttered on his word choice, his hand rising to silence her as he held her look, his sombre. “However, believe me, if it had not been I then it would have been another… And his men would have sacked the city and put many to the sword.”
In almost an accusatory whisper she glowered at him. “So you are telling me that I should be thankful… Because you were the better of two evils?”
Cadell grimaced. “Well it does take from the sentiment when you put it like that.”
Standing as tall as she could, stood regally, her head held high, she spoke with an air of authority, “Get out of my province Cadell of Karok and take your army with you.”
He regarded her for several seconds, admiring the woman for her bravery. She was a fighter he could tell, and incredibly beautiful, Harbin’s marriage solution one which was at that moment holding a great deal of attraction to him. “No.” His one word answer saw confusion cross her eyes, her brow furrowing, her mouth opening to speak more as he stepped forward towards the doors. “Come princess – allow me to have you escorted back to your ladies. I think that we will eat together in an hour, give you a chance to present yourself in a more seemly manner, also it will give you a chance to improve your mood and then discuss what is to be done.”
Tialla wanted to stamp her foot, to scream at this man, to demand answers, however already he had reached the door, pulling it wide to direct his men to escort her once more to her ladies. Stepping forward, head high, she scowled as he gave her a mocking half-bow, caustic words swallowed down as she once more returned to her quarters.
Her ladies were relieved to see her return, even more so to see her covered demurely with the cloak. Nadia threw herself at her feet. “I am sorry my princess”, tears in her eyes, “I put you in danger”, her voice shaking as her head dropped. “I deserve to be punished.”
Tialla placed her hand on her handmaiden’s shoulder, directing her back to her feet. “No Nadia… I did not feel comfortable with the plan in the first place. You did not know what you were going into. He could have put you straight to the sword, and you were prepared to die for me.”
Nadia nodded, her face still full of misery. “Always my princess, but he knew. I failed to protect you.”
For the first time a smile rose to Tialla’s lips. “No Nadia. He is not called Cadell the Cunning for nothing. You have nothing to apologise for… And I will not see you punished for offering your life for mine.”
The handmaiden looked at her mistress, her eyes shining with thanks and devotion as she whispered with real feeling, “I WOULD die for you my princess.”
Tialla took her hand, squeezing it assuredly. “Well, let us hope that nobody is going to die, shall we?”
Throwing off the cape, the women stared at her in stunned shock, seeing the silks she now wore, her eyes warning them not to ask as they ran in different directions to retrieve more appropriate clothing for her.
As the sands ran to the hour, there was a knock on the door, her ladies looking nervous knowing that she was once more meeting with the barbarian now controlling their realm. Tialla had remained silent, refusing to discuss the meeting, instead dressing in her most regal robes, her hair once more styled on her head, this time her crown also sitting on her head, she wanting him to know that she was still the ruler of the province.
As the door was opened, she was surprised to see Cadell himself waiting on the other side, now dressed in more suitable garments, no weapons visible, the ladies shaking seeing the man who had terrified them in the throne room. With an ease which saw Tialla have to fist her small hands to hold down the anger, he stepped with ease into the room, his handsome features smiling at the women as he gave a small bow. “Ladies, I must apologise for our first meeting. However, sometimes one has to use techniques which would otherwise be abhorrent to us”, his eyes falling on Nadia, “I especially offer my apologies to you. It was brave of you to take your princess’s place.”

{next installment due 14th Jan 2015}

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