by Lobo De la Sombra

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© Copyright 2012 - Lobo De la Sombra - Used by permission

Storycodes: M+/ff; kidnap; bond; rope; hood; wagon; transported; captive; hist; cons/nc; X

“Your Majesty, I must protest….”

“Enough.” Sophira, recently ascended to the throne, sighed. “My decision is made I will accept no further arguments on the matter.”

“Your father would not rule so.”

Sophira sighed again. “I,” she said, “am not my father. And I will not base my rule on what I might think he would do, but on what I think is best for my people. All of my people, Korza, not just you and the other noble families.”

“As Your Majesty commands,” Duke Korza replied, bowing his way from the chamber. Once the door closed behind him, Sophira turned to an older man standing behind the throne.

“Go ahead, Calda, say what’s so obviously on your mind.”

“Your Majesty knows I would never deign to criticize Her choices.”

“Speak plainly, Calda,” Sophira said tiredly. “I’m in no mood for more diplomatic words.”

“As you wish.” Calda paused as if to gather his thoughts. “Sophira,” he finally said, “go carefully. The noble families are a powerful force, and not to be trifled with lightly. Pushing ahead as you are could be risky at best. At worst, it could be dangerous.”

“I know, Calda. But I will not bow to their whims as my father did. My people deserve a just ruler, and that is what I intend to be.”

Suddenly, Sophira grinned. “Besides, look at how long the nobles have been trying to get rid of Roderick. If a common rebel and outlaw can survive their anger, I’m sure a Queen can.”


Roderick, most wanted man in the realm, glanced up from the map he was studying. “Yes, Dalin?”

“The men are ready to move when you give the order.”

“Good. And they each know their duties?”

“They do.”

Roderick eyed his second in command speculatively. “Something bothers you, old friend. What is it?”

“The men are uncertain about this job, Roderick. Taking a commission from a nobleman like this seems wrong. Are you sure we should be doing this?”

Roderick smiled. “Relax, old friend. I haven’t lost my senses quite yet. We were hired for this job for one reason only. To take the blame, while our noble employer reaps the benefit.”

“Then why are we doing this?”

“I have a feeling about this job, Dalin. If I’m right, we can strike a blow greater than anything we’ve yet done to the noble families.”

“And if you’re wrong?”

Roderick shrugged. “Then we’ll be named outlaws and traitors.” He grinned. “What’s one more death sentence between friends? I’m sure my shoulders can handle one more.” The grin faded. “Let the men know we ride at sunset. We need to be in position before dawn.”

“Long day?”

Sophira nodded, already beginning to relax as Jenna, her maid helped her remove the royal robes. Quickly, expertly, the other woman relieved her of the remainder of her garments.

“Well,” Jenna said, taking Sophira’s hand and leading her across the chamber, “a hot bath should help you relax.”

Gratefully, Sophira settled into the hot water, feeling Jenna’s strong fingers begin massaging her shoulders. Slowly, the tension of the day began to fade, allowing her to sink into the steamy water until only her head protruded.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all day long,” she murmured.

“Korza again?”

“That’s Duke Korza, as you well know,” Sophira replied, her stern look only barely hiding the grin. In addition to being her maid, Jenna was, unofficially, one of her most trusted advisors, tempering the bureaucratic inanities of the court with her own straightforward brand of logic. Jenna, she sometimes thought, had a better grasp on reality then all of her other advisors combined.

“Yes, my Queen.” Sophira could hear the smile in the other woman’s voice. “What was the good Duke carrying on about this time?”

Sophira gave an exasperated shrug. “He’s upset about the new decree,” she said. “Hardly surprising, since he’s been upset about every other one.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it,” Jenna said soothingly. “Besides, that’s all behind you. A good soak, and a good night’s sleep, and you’ll be ready to face any number of angry Dukes.” Laughing, Sophira surrendered to the relaxing powers of hot water.

Later, after being dried by Jenna’s gentle hands, Sophira stepped into her dressing room. Totally relaxed, she was also totally unprepared for the arms that wrapped around her from behind, pinning her own arms to her sides.

“What are you doing? Let me go this instant!” One of the arms released her, only to shove a wad of cloth into her mouth, muffling her continued protests. A strip of cloth tied around her head quickly held the gag in place.

Two of them at least, she thought, realizing the man behind her couldn’t have knotted the gag while keeping one arm around her waist. She craned her head, trying to see who held her, only to have her world go dark as a bag was pulled over her head.

Blinded, gagged, Sophira struggled against the arm holding her. Suddenly, the arm vanished, replaced by a hand at the small of her back that shoved her against a wall. The blow stunned her, and by the time she recovered, her arms had been bound, forearm to forearm, behind her back. Her legs were soon bound as well, at ankle and just above the knee. As she squirmed helplessly, she felt herself lifted and draped over someone’s shoulder. A regular bobbing motion let her know she was being carried, though where remained a mystery.

After several minutes, she felt herself lowered to what felt like a bare stone floor. Warm skin pressed against her back, and she could feel rope being passed around each arm, A door closed, and she was left alone with the person pressed against her back.

Experimentally, Sophira grunted into her gag. And answering grunt sounded, the voice muffled but easily identified as Jenna. Angered at the thought of her maid sharing her fate, she struggled against her bonds, her motions serving only to topple the two women to their sides. Sophira’s shoulder ached from the fall, but she seemed otherwise uninjured. Jenna, too, seemed unharmed, if her own squirming were any indication.

How long the two women lay bound together, Sophira had no idea. It seemed an eternity before she heard a door open nearby. The ropes binding her to Jenna were removed, and Sophira felt herself lifted once more over someone’s shoulder. Another bobbing journey, and she felt herself lowered onto a rough wooden surface. A soft thump, and she could only assume that Jenna had joined her in this new place.

“Maybe,” she heard a rough voice suggest, “we should tie them face to face. Or facing each other, anyway.”

“Shut up, you idiot,” another voice growled. “No voices for her to identify, remember?”

“Where she’s going, it won’t matter,” the first voice responded. “Besides, you just let her hear your voice, too. So don’t call me no idiot.”

“Just get moving. If we’re not there on time, we’ll be the ones going somewhere.”

The voices vanished, and soon the wooden surface on which she lay started swaying roughly. She was, she realized, in the back of a wagon. Desperately, she began struggling against her bonds, fearing she would be carried out of the city before anyone realized she was gone. Occasional brushes of bare skin against hers told her that Jenna struggled just as desperately, but both soon slumped in defeat, beaten by the ropes that held them captive.

Again, the wait was interminable, but, eventually, she felt the wagon come to a halt. Once more she was lifted and carried, this time to be placed on what felt like some sort of cloth over rough ground. There was a brush of skin against skin as Jenna was placed beside her

“You didn’t mention a second package.” The voice was strong, confident, and close. The answering voice sounded vaguely familiar, but Sophira couldn’t quite place it.

“A slight change in plans,” the second voice said. “The other is nobody, a servant, but she saw what happened. She needs to be taken care of as well.”

“That,” came the first voice, “will cost you extra. In advance.”

Sophira heard grumbling, followed by the jingle of coins, lots of coins.

“Are you happy now?” The second voice sounded sarcastic.

“Delighted,” replied the first voice. “Now, leave us. We have a job to do.”

Sophira heard the creak of harness, followed by the sound of hooves moving away. Once silence had returned, she listened intently, hearing that first voice continue speaking.

“Ok, you know what to do And don’t get in a hurry. I want all of them, and I want them alive.”

“Yes, Sir,” answered a third voice. Again, Sophira heard the sound of hooves

Footsteps approached, and Sophira felt herself rolled onto her back. The bag was drawn from her head, her eyes blinded by the sudden burst of light. As her sight returned, she realized that she lay in a tent lighted by lamps. Leaning over her was a man who’s face sent a shiver through the young Queen’s helpless body.


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