Dungeon Queen

Written by: silverhawk

The column of mounted soldiers moved slowly down the valley, the clinking sound of steel armor and the squeaks of leather barely audible over the sound of a thousand hooves treading the soft, fertile earth. The village of Uvil lay in the center of the valley, and this was the column’s destination. In this village was a prize sought by one of the two riders at the head of the column. That rider was Queen Jornea, wife of the column’s leader, King Mandorn.

King Mandorn was tall with the bulging muscles of a warrior. The waves of hair that spilled from beneath his gleaming, steel helmet were dark brown as was the beard visible through his open visor. With piercing blue eyes, the King unconsciously scanned the horizon for signs of sentries just as he did before battle. His interest lay in the conquest of everything and everyone at the edges of the kingdom of Chandolay. The army of Chandolay stopped at nothing in this quest. With King Mandorn at the head of tens of thousands of mounted warriors, the army had swept hundreds of cities and towns under the rule of the King. So strong was the Chandolay army, those conquered cities and towns could do little after the battle but bury their dead and await the arrival of Queen Jornea.

The Queen, sitting astride the magnificent white stallion at the head of the column was a dark haired beauty, taller than most women, and with curves that would turn any man’s head for a second look. Woe be it to any man who did such a turn, for Queen Jornea was not a woman who cared for such attentions from just any man. The penalty for staring at her heavy, leather-clad breasts and the sensuous hips that seemed to make love to the saddle of her mount was death. Queen Jornea’s quest was also one of conquest, and she pursued that quest with every bit as much fervor as did King Mandorn when he raided a city on the edges of Chandolay. That conquest was the finding of beautiful young women to satisfy her insatiable desire for both pleasure and torture.

Though increasing the size of his ever-growing kingdom was the primary goal of the King, he was not immune to the charms of a well-developed woman. From time to time he enjoyed the warm, wet, clasping passage of the Queen as well as the same of a few carefully selected, experienced, older women of the Order of Lule, the God of Fertility. Despite this ready supply of women with which to cool the heat of his manhood, his favorite pastime, other than lopping off the heads of those who opposed his rule, was the deflowering of virgin girls. This pastime was not only one of pleasure; it was the desperate means to insure his successor.

Queen Jornea flowered and then bled with the passing of the moon as did all other women, but her flower did not produce fruit. The barren state of her womb made her jealous of the young women who visited her chambers, and was at least partially responsible for her treatment of them, but she was careful to save the maidenheads of the most beautiful for King Mandorn’s pleasure. Impregnation of a virgin was the only way King Mandorn could be assured the child was of his loins, and therefore his heir.

Once captured by the Army and once the Queen had extracted her pleasure from them, those young virgins were placed in a convent guarded by the women and eunuchs of the Order of Lule. They were taught the arts of love, and when they reached the age of twenty years, were inducted into the Order. They continued their training and served as concubines to the older women until such time as they were ripe for the King.

The duty of the Order of Lule was to prevent any man other than the King from bursting the barrier of the girl’s fertility. The women of the Order monitored the cycle of each girl’s body, and informed the King of the time he should implant his seed. When impregnated, the young women were to stay at the convent until they gave birth. Once the child was born, of if they failed to conceive within the span of a year, a selected few became permanent members of the Order. Most were placed in brothels located in cities around the kingdom for use by the soldiers stationed there.

All children of these young women were to be raised by the Order until old enough to function on their own. Girls would then be placed with families in the surrounding cities to grow up and bloom into womanhood. Young boys would remain in the convent and taught the arts of war. Also at the age of nineteen, those boys deemed by their appearance and skills to be of regal quality would be inducted into the King’s Army. Those judged to be weaklings and those with what the King considered defects would be cast out into the kingdom to find a village and fend for themselves.

It was apparent to the women of the Order of Lule that King Mandorn’s seed was less than fruitful as well as weak in constitution. Only one or two out of every hundred young girls placed in their care accepted his seed and grew a child, and those children had all been sickly and weak. In the ten years since his father’s death and his assumption of the throne, King Mandorn’s efforts had produced no children that lived past their first year. The result was an ever-increasing urgency on the part of the King for the capture of young maidens, an urgency in which Queen Jornea happily participated.

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The lookouts from Uvil, old men hidden in the trees of the hills on either side of the valley, had seen the column approaching several hours before and had sent messengers to warn the townsfolk. Such was their practice since the battle that left half the men in eternal sleep under the soil of the hillside and the other half cowing at the mere mention of another visit from King Mandorn. They also knew of Queen Jornea’s desire for young women, having heard the soldiers laughingly speak of such when they herded the townsfolk into the town square for the counting of heads.

The total for Uvil had been one hundred thirty six young men well or slightly wounded, two hundred and two women of childbearing age, and one hundred and three children. There were no other young men. After the short battle, those with serious wounds had been dispatched with a single sword thrust. Older men were allowed to live but not counted, as were women past the years of fertility. Those residents had valuable skills and experience that would keep the village alive and producing grains and animals for the King’s pantry.

The men and women enumerated by the Captain of the Palace Guards were the foundation stock who would also produce children. Those children were destined to be soldiers for the King and young women to satisfy the Queen.

As the column moved on slowly, the Captain of the Palace Guards rode up beside Queen Jornea.

“Your Majesty, we are approaching Uvil, a small village we subdued a few months ago.”

He pulled a parchment from the bag that hung from his saddle and began to list the census of the population. He was cut short by the irritated voice of the Queen.

“I do not care how many men or children manage to exist in this stinking valley. How many virgins are there?”

“Yes…I was getting to that. There are thirty three young women of child bearing age who are possible virgins, though one cannot be certain by appearances alone. As is your wish, I did no other investigation.”

“I can be certain of which girls are pure and which have already been spoiled by the thrust of a farm boy’s stiff cock. Are any of these beautiful enough to please me?”

“I have noted six, Your Majesty. All appeared nicely formed and their faces, while no match for yours, are pleasing to see.”

“We shall see, then, if I am to be entertained tonight or if I shall once again find barefoot girls fit only to serve as a soldier’s whore.

The Captain hoped at least one of the six would satisfy the Queen’s needs. If not, they would be on to the next town and he would be away from Idonia for another night. As the column arrived at the town square, he was dreaming of Idonia’s firm breasts in his hands and the warmth of her body enveloping his rigid shaft as she rode him to their mutual end. He’d found Idonia in the soldier’s brothel by chance, and after that first night, had ordered her permanently assigned to his quarters.

Idonia was a woman most men sought, but one they seldom found. Her body, from the round, firm breasts that jutted from her chest, to the slender waist, to the soft, round hips that cushioned the Captain’s thrusts were enough to excite the most calm man. That body, matched with an insatiable desire to feel his rigid organ pumping in and out of her wet passage had swept the captain away.

Every night, he would arrive at his apartments at dusk, and every night, Idonia would meet him either dressed in some filmy fabric that accentuated her charms, or dressed as she was on the day she was born. Her hands would stroke his chest, then his belly, and finally seek his manhood. Those soft hands would quickly have him erect and thrusting into their soft strokes. Those soft hands would reach for him as Idonia layed back on his bed, spread her long, slender legs and begged him to enter her.

Often, they coupled twice in one night, Idonia moaning with passion and pleasure as his manhood erupted with a flow of seed, and then seeking to restore his softening organ to the swollen, rigid shaft she craved. Once she had succeeded, she might straddle him, impale herself, and ride him until he spurted his seed again. If she did not ride, she might bend over on the bed, spread the soft cheeks of her hips, and invite him to take her as the stallion does the mare.

After the first of Idonia’s moon-bleeds, he had begun to tell her of when he would return to his apartments, or if he was to be away, for how long. He had done so that morning that she would be ready for his return that night. Yes, it would be good to be away from this backward village and back in Mynar tonight. Even one night away from Idonia was unbearable.

He was shaken from the daydream when King Mandorn ordered the column to stop, then quietly asked him to assemble the townsfolk. The Captain once again looked at the parchment, and then spoke.

“All people tallied after your defeat shall assemble here immediately. Failure to comply will mean death.”

There was grumbling as they gathered, but the square was soon filled with people. The Captain sent two of his officers to count the men and women. They returned with a total that was one woman less than his original number. That woman was a girl who was not only missing; she was one of six he had selected for the Queen. The Captain again spoke to the crowd of people.

“It would seem one of my doves has flown from the cote. Her name is Breena, daughter of Samarra and Noril. Now who would know where this girl is hiding? Speak up now, for if I find one of you has aided her, you will be severely punished.”

After a quarter of the sand had flowed through the hourglass he carried, no one had volunteered any information about Breena. He turned to the Queen.

“Your Majesty, the missing girl is one of my six, but the others are just as beautiful and ripe for the taking. I shall punish this girl’s family, but perhaps you could examine the other five? I have not often disappointed you before, and you shall not be disappointed with these five.”

He turned back to the crowd.

“So, you will not give up Breena. Very well, but there is a price to pay for such actions. Noril, father of Breena, step forward.”

A man of about forty years stepped to the front. Muscles rippled under his tight tunic as he walked, and his eyes held nothing but hatred for the Captain.

“I am Noril.”

“As you know, the penalty for hiding from the Queen is death. I will find your Breena someday, and she will pay with her life. She is your daughter and I have no doubt you had a hand in her escape. I shall take yours instead.”

The captain nodded to the officer on his right, who spurred his horse toward Noril. In seconds, Noril was cut down by the officer’s sword that sliced into his neck. Bright red blood spurted into the air as Noril fell, quivered once, and then lay still. The woman who ran to his side wailed in anguish as she stroked Noril’s face. Two of the men in the crowd picked up Noril’s body while a third lifted the woman to her feet. Together, they made their way through the crowd to the houses at the edge of the town.

The Captain cleared his throat.

“Now, we shall get on with the rest of our business today. These five women will step forward.”

He read off the names in a loud voice.

“Charma, daughter of Ibina and Horak.”

“Elista, daughter of Junet and Marshto.”

“Almadee, daughter of Chancey and Ladar.”

“Failai, daughter of Penela and Gornis.”

“Serea, daughter of Anjo and Petron.”

The five young women made their way through the crowd and stood in a line before the Queen and King. The Queen dismounted and walked to the girls.

“Take off your dresses”, she commanded.

The girls, obviously embarrassed, did so slowly. The Queen eyed each girl from where she stood and then walked to the girl named Charma. With her hands, the Queen touched Charma’s small breasts, then squeezed them. Charma flinched and her mouth grimaced, but she did not cry out. The Queen pinched Charma’s small nipples, then pinched harder. Charma gasped, but still no cry issued from her lips. The queen turned to the Captain.

“She is a beauty, as you say, but she is too strong for my liking, and she is lacking in the breast.”

Turning back to the girl she smirked.

“Perhaps one of these weakling men will find your teats more to his liking than I. Be gone with you.”

The queen repeated the performance with Elista and Almadee. Elista cried out at the first touch to her small, firm breasts. The Queen laughed.

“Such small teats and such a loud voice. Go back to your mother, girl, before I give you to the Palace Guard.”

Almadee gasped at the Queen’s touch to her heavy breasts, gasped again when the Queen squeezed them, and cried out when the Queen’s fingernails bit into her nipples. The queen smiled, then ran her hand down Almadee’s smooth, flat belly.

“Open your legs, girl”, the queen commanded.

Almadee did as asked, and the Queen’s hand stroked the mass of dark red curls that covered the girl’s sex. The Queen chuckled.

“I wonder what hides in this fiery forest. Could it be the portal is closed tight, or will it be as open as an old whore’s? We shall see what we shall see.”

Almadee flinched as the Queen’s middle finger parted the soft lips under the red curls and sought the entrance to Almadee’s body. Slowly, the finger went deeper, then deeper still until the Queen smiled. She withdrew the probing finger and touched it to her nose, then smiled again.

“This one is untouched by any man, and smells of a womb ripe for sprouting a child. She is a beauty worthy of my attentions. Take her away while I examine these last two. Perhaps I shall take more than one for my pleasure.”

Almadee struggled a little as the two soldiers dragged her to the horse brought up by another, but stopped resisting when they tied her to the saddle. The Queen, meanwhile, walked to the girl called Failai. Failai’s breasts were long cones that sat low on her chest. The Queen looked at them, flicked Failai’s right one, and then remarked that the girl looked as if she’d nursed three children. After probing the girl’s sex and finding blood on her finger, the Queen turned away in disgust as she wiped her finger on the girls soft belly.

“Captain, this one is moon-bleeding and her teats are those of a doe goat. Send her back to the village. Perhaps the girl children she pushes out between her thighs will be more to my liking. She will surely have enough milk to raise them.”

Serea stood calmly and waited for the Queen to approach. When the Captain of the Guards had taken her name the day of the battle, Serea knew the reason. She was to be engaged soon to Emdal, son of Quarnic, and also knew of only one way to avoid being dragged off for the Queen’s pleasure. The night after the battle, she had taken Emdal to the edge of the forest and asked him to make her a woman. When his hard shaft had pierced her maidenhead, Serea did not cry out. Instead, she thanked the Gods for helping Emdal make her unfit for the Queen’s evil intentions.

The Queen eyed Serea, and did not miss the look on the girl’s face. As she stroked Serea’s nipples, the Queen mused, “You seem unafraid, girl. Could it be you are not as my Captain says? Spread your legs that I may see for myself.”

The Queen finger disappeared into the dark brown mass of curls between Serea’s thighs until stopped by the rest of her hand. She quickly removed it and turned to the Captain.

“Captain, how is it this so-called virgin is open enough my hand would fit inside her?”

The Captain stuttered in embarrassment.

“I – I have no answer, My Queen. The people of the town said she was untouched.”

The Queen turned back to Serea.

“You are either a common trollop, or very quick of wit. Which might it be?”

“My Queen, I am neither. I was married to Gelma, a man from Espada the day before the battle. I went there to be married, so the people of Uvil did not know. Gelma and I were only here to gather my belongings when your army attacked.”

“Ah…I see. And where is this husband of yours now?”

Serea buried her face in her hands.

“He lies in the ground on the hillside, killed by your soldiers. I was a wife but for a day.”

The Queen chuckled.

“I think that a bit convenient, but perhaps it is true. I would think my Captain would have had enough sense to ask you if you were married, but it appears he was not that thorough in his investigation.”

The queen drew the small dagger from her waist. Serea backed away a step, and the Queen caught her arm.

“I shall not kill you, my dear Serea. That flat belly of yours should produce many children to farm the fields and raise animals for the palace. I will instead grant you the privilege of being the first to experience what the King is about to order as a new law in Chandolay.”

The Queen grasped Serea’s right breast tightly. With the tip of the dagger, she made two crossed cuts just above Serea’s nipple. As thin lines of blood welled up from the wounds, the Queen let Serea’s breast fall to her chest, and turned to the King.

“Husband, please order that from this day forth, all women will be marked so on their wedding day. Perhaps the Captain of the Palace Guard will not be so blind as to miss this mark when he makes his next selection.”

With that said, the Queen mounted the white stallion, turned and rode out of Uvil, followed by the King, the Captain, and the rest of the soldiers.

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From her hiding place high up in one of the trees on a hill that overlooked Uvil, Breena had seen everything. Her father had known what would likely happen if she left Uvil after being counted, but had insisted she hide. When he was cut down by the officer’s sword, Breena had almost cried out. As it was, tears streamed down her cheeks as her father was carried away. At first, the tears were tears of anguish. After watching the Queen inspect the other five girls as if they were horses or cattle being traded, the tears changed to tears of hatred.

Her father had cautioned her to not come back to Uvil. He knew there were those there who feared the King and Queen enough to pass word of her whereabouts. Breena knew if she was found, she would be killed too, but only after her body was violated by several of the Palace Guard. Though she ached to be with her mother, Samarra, to console her and to help her through the next weeks, Breena knew her mother would understand why she could not. Samarra was a strong woman, stronger than most people realized, and along with her mane of golden blonde hair, she had passed that strength on to her daughter. While Breena was growing up, Samarra had encouraged her daughter to think for herself and to prevent her emotions from dictating her actions. Breena had become a woman capable of taking care of herself and not given to rash decisions.

Since they had only one child, Breena’s father had taught her many of the things he would have taught a son. Of course, this teaching was always done in the privacy of their small home. Girls in Uvil did not use weapons or tools other than the sewing needle and a knife with which to prepare meals. Breena knew the ways of the short sword and dagger just as well as those of the thimble and needle, though she’d not had occasion to test her knowledge of weapons.

High in her tree, Breena felt for the sword at her belt and for the dagger in its sheath hanging by a leather cord between her full breasts. Almadee was her closest friend, and as the soldiers tied the naked girl to a saddle, Breena vowed to avenge her father and to free Almadee. How she would do this, she did not know, but her mother had taught her if she thought things out, she would always find an answer. Breena remained in the tree, thinking, until after night fell over the sleeping village. After tying herself to the trunk with the belt of her short sword, she fell asleep cradled between the sturdy boughs. Her dreams were a nightmare of soldiers, blood, and young girls being abused by the Queen.

Breena stayed in her tree the next morning. She knew the men of the town would bury her father on the hillside, and she wished to know the location of his grave. Someday in the future, she would visit and thank him for giving his life to spare her an almost certain fate. Today, she would silently thank him and hope his spirit would hear.

Her mother cried as the men lowered her father into the grave, but stood silently as they covered his body with the dark black earth of the hillside. Once they had tamped the extra soil into a low, rounded mound, one by one, the men patted Breene’s mother on the arm and walked back to the village. Her mother stayed a while longer, then placed a single flower on the mound. Breena watched her mother walk back to the village and then scanned the area for any other people who might be in the hills. Finding none, she climbed down from the tree.

The night had not been cold, but Breena knew the chill of autumn was on its way. She would need shelter from the cold and a hidden place for a fire if she were to survive. Since Chandolay was to the south, Brenna walked north. The growl from her stomach reminded her of the need for food. She also needed different clothing. Her thin dress had torn in her climb down from the tree, and as she walked, one slender, naked thigh was exposed to her hip with every step.

All that day and through the next few, Breena walked north. She found edible roots and fruits along the way, and drank water from each stream and river along her path. Her nights were spent in trees. There were wolves in this territory as well as wild pigs that were not very picky about what they ate, or so the old ones of Uvil had related in their stories. Breena dared not use the flint and steel her father had pressed into her hand just before he told her to run. A fire would have kept animals away, but someone might see the fire and come to investigate. High in a tree, she was safe from the hunters of the night as well as from any people who might be in the area. In the morning, her high perch allowed her to look far in all directions to make sure that no one else was nearby.

She saw no other people, but this did not greatly surprise her. North of Uvil lay the Wild Lands, territory not yet settled and therefore unknown to most. Only a few traders ventured there as a short way between cities and villages in settled areas, and they stayed on the routes other traders had followed over the decades. Breena did not know the trade routes, but would have avoided them even if she had. No woman would be alone in the Wild Lands without good reason, and that reason could only be that she was hiding from someone. She could never be safe after she met a trader. At best, he would let her go on her way but spread the tale of a lone woman in the Wild Lands which would find its way to the Queen and King. At worst – she shuddered at the thought – traders were not the most trustworthy of people, and often boasted to the men of a village of their trickery where women were concerned.

On the sixth day of her travels, Brenna stopped beside a small stream for a drink. The water was nearly as cold as the winter icicles that clung to the eaves of her old home in Uvil, and tasted slightly of something other than water. Thinking such a small stream would have to originate close by, curiosity caused Brenna to follow it.

The stream meandered from a huge, dense thicket of trees and underbrush growing from the hillside. Breena took the easy way through the almost dark forest, the stream itself, and after a few minutes, saw sunlight beaming through the trees. She emerged from the dense vegetation into a large clearing around a pond. Just to her left a stone cliff jutted from the earth, and at the bottom was an opening. Breena made her way across the narrow strip of thick grass to the opening. A small stream of water ran from the far side of the opening into the pond to feed the stream up which she had traveled. Breena peered inside, then scanned around the entrance. She saw no tracks of animals and reasoned this was probably not the den of a wolf or fox. Breena stepped inside the opening and waited for her eyes to adjust to the lack of light.

The cavern went back as far as Breena could see, and even there, except for the ceiling, she saw only blackness and not rock. The ceiling was high enough for a tall man to stand with his hands over his head, and had a natural slope up toward the entrance. Brenna could see both sides of the cavern as well as the crack in the stone from which the stream of water issued.

There were no signs of any people having been there, no footprints on the dry soil of the cavern floor, no remnants of a fire, nor anything else. Had the entrance to the cavern been in the open, Breena reasoned, someone or something would have discovered it. She had heard traders speak of crude drawings on the walls of other caverns they used on the trail, and of fire pits inside them. Since there were none of these here, Breena felt that the cavern was unknown to anyone. It would be a good place to stay.

That afternoon, Breena used her short sword as an axe to chop some small branches for firewood. As the darkness stole the daylight, Breena lit a fire near the cavern entrance and then walked back down the stream into the open country. She could not see flames from any angle, nor the flickering glow that would betray their presence. The smoke emerged from high in the trees and was only a faint trace that could have been just the mist of evening. No one would know a fire was burning in the cavern. Breena gorged herself on roasted roots from the reeds growing on one side of the pond. She fell asleep on the soft earth next to the fire.

Breena awoke the next morning to the songs of birds in the trees around her sanctuary in the rock. Her first thought was to relieve herself, and she walked outside the cavern entrance to an opening in the trees on the opposite side of the pond. As she approached the opening, she saw a deer spring away and through the trees. Breena followed the faint path she found where the deer had entered the forest.

The trail wound around trees and rocks, often disappearing almost entirely, the only indication of its presence a tuft of deer hair here and there. After following the trail for many steps, Breena saw the grass of the open countryside again. Cautiously, she ventured toward the clear opening between two huge trees. There was nothing in sight except the deer bounding away. Breena walked a short distance from the trees, then turned around and looked for the trail. Had she been further away, she would not have found it even though she knew where it was. Breena entered the woods again and walked back to the cavern along the deer trail. She paused near the clearing to relive herself, and then went back to the cavern.

After stirring the coals of her fire to life again, Breena added small sticks, then larger ones until the fire lit the inside of the cavern again. She put more roots by the fire to roast while she thought of her plans now that she had shelter.

Water was not a concern, and Breena was becoming accustomed to the taste. Food was the next issue. The roots roasting by the fire were filling, but lacking in flavor. Meat would have added that flavor, and was the next challenge Breena decided to attempt.

Her father had caught rabbits for food and to keep them from his crops, and had shown Breena how to make snares. He used the threads from torn clothing to spin a thin cord which he tied in a noose and hung from low branches of shrubs. Breena had only her dress, so she carefully un-wove some of the material from the bottom. The dress, which had covered her from hip to ankle when new, now came only to her knees, but she had enough threads to make several cords. After spinning them on her thigh, as her father had done, Breena tied each one into a noose, and then searched the edge of the clearing for signs of rabbits passing from the grass into the safety of the underbrush.

It didn’t take long for her to set six snares. Breena had only to wait, and while waiting, detected the odors emanating from her dress and body. At home, she would have washed herself and her dress. It was only in spring and fall that men and women washed themselves all over, but women washed the hair and lips between their thighs, and the hair in their armpits every month after their moon-bleed.

Breena had no cloths with which to wash, nor any of her mother’s soap, but she’d seen a plant along the bank of the pond she recognized. Her mother called it soap weed, and had once shown Breena how it could be rubbed into a kind of lather. Breena walked to the place where she’d seen the plants, pulled a handful, and crushed the roots between two rocks. After stripping off her tattered dress, she waded into the cool water of the pond, took a deep breath, and quickly lowered her body beneath the surface.

She emerged again a few seconds later, gasping at the chill of the pond, but feeling refreshed. After pulling the dripping mane of golden hair from her face, Breena rubbed some of the crushed roots between her hands and then onto her blonde tresses. It felt good to rub her scalp, and she did so until the lather was spread from her head to the ends of the shining strands.

Breena rubbed more soap weed lather over her face, then her across her smooth shoulders, and then into the soft hair under her arms. The soap weed had a fresh scent, rather like new mown hay, she thought, and she liked it. Breena’s small hands stroked over her full breasts, and she shuddered when her fingertips brushed the nipples stiffened by the cool water.

Breena moved to shallower water and worked the soap weed lather over her flat belly and then into the blonde curls between her thighs. As her fingers slipped between the long, soft lips of her sex, Breena gasped, then moved her fingertips up and down slowly. Before, she was washing herself. Now, Breena was pleasuring herself as her mother had said all women do from time to time.

This was not the first time Breena’s body had responded to her own touch. Often at night, when her parents had thought her asleep, they joined as man and wife. Breena laid in her bed with closed eyes and listened to the quiet little moans her mother made as her father stroked his manhood in and out of the opening between her thighs. Breena’s fingers would find her entrance and move in as far as the narrowing of her maidenhead and then back out, over and over, and she had to stifle the moans that seemed to come to her lips of their own accord. Breena’s other hand would caress her nipples or find their way down to the stiff nub at the top of her soft lips and stroke it.

Her mother would often cry out softly at the end, and Breena would hear their bed creak as her father pumped out his seed. Breena longed to open her mouth and let the same cry of pleasure slip from between her lips as her body convulsed in release, but she dared not. Instead, she kept quiet as the waves swept her from her toes to her breasts and back down.

Here, in the solitude of her sanctuary, Breena felt no such need to be quiet. When her fingertips found the stiff nub and rubbed it gently, she moaned. When her fingertips brushed her left nipple and then gently squeezed it, Breena jerked her hips into her stroking hand, and gasped. Breena’s finger probed inside her sex up to the guardian of her virginity, stroked in and out several times, and then found the little button that now throbbed in excitement. After a few more light strokes over the tip and around the sides, Breena cried out, her hips rocked rapidly back and forth, and she nearly collapsed into the pond.

Breena slowly rubbed her sex for a few moments, then moved back to deeper water and submerged herself to rid her body of the soap weed lather. After a quick check for lather and another submersion, Breena wrung the water from her hair and walked back to the cavern. The warmth of the fire felt nice after the cool water of the pond, and Breena stood beside it and soaked in the heat.

Once her body was dry except for her hair, Breena took her dress to the pond, used more soap weed to wash it, then brought it back to the fire. By pushing two sticks into the floor of the cavern, Breena hung the dress up to dry, and then went to check her snares. Two of them held rabbits that Breena quickly skinned and hung over her fire with more sticks. That night, Breena dined on rabbit and the roots that she’d left to roast. By the time the stars appeared in the opening in the trees, Breena was fast asleep in her clean dress.

+++++

Almadee sat in the saddle of the horse as the column made their way back to Mydar and the palace. She had heard some of the horrors of the Queen’s special bedchamber and knew of the treatment that awaited her. She looked at the Queen, then quickly turned her head. The Queen was looking at her and smiling.

“Do not fear, my lovely maiden. You may learn to enjoy what I enjoy. Some of my charges have done so.”

Almadee could not imagine any woman learning to enjoy being bound to a table and having her body tortured by whipping, nor could she imagine any pleasure could be experienced from the tying of cords around her nipples. Surely, such pain would only cause her to lose her mind. Yes, that must be what the Queen meant, that the women she tortured became insane. She would kill herself before allowing her mind to float away like feathers on the wind.

“Besides, you will learn that I can give you great pleasure as well as pain, and that you can be taught to give me the same pleasure. We women know so well what men seem incapable of understanding. Did your mother not teach you as much?”

“She taught me that coupling should be between a man and a woman, and that love would bring me enough pleasure.”

“Then your mother did not teach you everything about coupling. A man cares only about planting his seed. It matters not if the planting bed is well prepared, only that his seed takes root. Little do men know that their seed would sprout more easily if the woman was excited to the same state. Since your mother did not teach you this, it will fall to me, and you will be all the better for my teaching.”

The sun was low on the horizon when the column rode through the gates of Mynar. Almadee was lifted from the saddle and taken into the palace. There, two older women guided her to a small room with a bed, a small table, and one chair. They unbound her wrists and then left. Almadee heard the bolt of the door sliding home.

Moments later, a younger woman, this one in the garb of some sort of priestess entered the chamber. Over one arm, she carried clothing. Over the other was a finely woven basket of straw.

“I am Panuli, of the Order of Lule. I will prepare you to meet with the Queen. When you visit her chamber, do not resist, for that will only mean harsher treatment for you. Instead, endure what you must, and learn to enjoy the pleasures of what the Queen will teach you. Now, follow me and do not attempt to escape. There is no exit from the palace without guards.”

Panuli led Almadee through the door, down a short hall, and into another room. In this room was a large stone trough similar to the wooden troughs her father had used to water the farm animals, but much larger.

“Get into the basin, Almadee. You will find the water to be hot, so enter it slowly.”

Almadee had never before immersed her body except in a stream or pond when a very young girl. Her spring and fall bath was done with cloths from a small bucket. As she eased her naked body down into the water, the heat prickled at her skin and caused tingles to race up her spine. When she at last sat on the bottom of the trough, the water reached almost to her chin, and her entire body was enveloped in the tingling heat.

Panuli withdrew a bar of soap from the basket and walked to the basin. She pushed gently on Almadee’s head.

“Wet your hair that I may wash the dust of travel from it.”

Almadee slipped down the incline on which her back rested until the water closed over her head, and then pushed herself back up. She felt Panuli’s hands rubbing over her scalp. The scent of spring flowers wafted to her nose.

“This is the Queen’s favorite scent. She will enjoy it on your skin and hair.”

Almadee relaxed as Panuli’s fingers gently worked the sweet smelling soap into her scalp and then down the long red tresses of her hair.

“Such pretty hair, and the color of leaves in autumn suits you well, I think. The Queen tells me a woman with red hair is more apt to enjoy her pleasures. I know she does have a fondness for such a shade. Now, rinse your hair.”

Almadee again submerged herself and felt Panuli working the lather from her hair. When the woman gently pulled at her arm, Almeede pushed her body up again. Panuli gently pulled the hair from her face and smiled.

“There. Now for the rest of you. Stand up.”

Panuli’s hands were soft and gentle as she stroked them over Almadee’s body. The soapy lather on Panuli’s hands let her breasts slip from the woman’s hands when she gently squeezed them. When Panuli’s fingertips were left with only Almadee’s nipples to squeeze Almadee felt a tingle deep in her belly. Panuli noticed.

“The tightening in your belly tells me you are not new to the feeling. You have caused this feeling yourself, have you not?”

Almadee didn’t answer.

“No matter. All women do. Now, spread your legs. The queen will wish to have this scent there also.”

Panuli worked the soap lather into the dark red triangle of curls between Almadee’s thighs. Almadee flinched when Panuli’s fingertip felt for the lips amongst the curls and then slipped between them.

“Do not be afraid. I do nothing you yourself have not done, though I shall not give you enough rubbing to cause you to reach your end. I shall leave that to the Queen. I only need to know your guardian is still on duty, and that it is not yet your moon time. Yes, the portal gate is still closed and the only flow is that of a woman ripe for the breeding. Rinse yourself, Almadee.”

When Almadee stepped from the bath, Panuli wrapped her in a towel large enough to be a blanket and gently rubbed her skin dry. She then used a smaller towel to dry Almadee’s hair somewhat. After producing a comb of tortoise shell from her basket, Panuli began combing Almadee’s hair, carefully removing each tangle and then continuing to comb the long, red tresses until they were dry. She stepped back and smiled.

“Now, you are fit for my Queen. Please take some advice from one who knows of the Queen’s tastes. If you resist her, she will cause you pain for that gives her pleasure. That pleasure is not that which she truly seeks. The sooner you relent and give her that which she desires, the sooner the pain will become pleasure.”

“I know not what she really wants except to hurt people. That is what the traders say.”

“Almadee, the Queen is a woman who desires other women as well as men. She desires another woman’s touch more than she desires her pain, and she desires it in certain ways you have likely not been taught. Most women would find even the thought offensive. If you are to avoid great pain, you must not show disgust, but instead, give her great pleasure in those ways she enjoys most.”

“How will I know the ways?”

“Begin by pleasuring her as you pleasure yourself. The Queen will teach you the rest.”

Panuli held out a robe of the finest fabric Almadee had ever seen.

“The Queen is dining now. You will do the same in your quarters, and then I will come for you. Put this on so that no one will see what the Queen is about to enjoy.”

+++++

Breena knew she was dreaming. The sounds of battle, the same sounds she’d heard when the King’s army attacked Uvil, seemed so close and so real, but there could be no army in her cavern. Breena shook herself awake, but the sounds, though muted by the trees, did not stop. She heard the clang of swords and the grunted words of men fighting. Breena strapped the short sword around her waist and stuck the dagger into the belt, then ran down the deer path.

As she neared the hidden entrance to her clearing, the sounds became louder. When she peered around one of the giant trees at the entrance, Breena saw two men in the uniforms of the King’s army and one man in the clothing of a peasant. The man in the rough tunic did not fight as a peasant would, though. His sword strokes were calculated and swift, not the random swings Breena had seen most of the men of Uvil make when fighting the King’s army.

He was taller than the two soldiers with a longer reach, and his lack of leather and steel plate armor made him faster. The lack of armor also made him more vulnerable. As one of the soldiers slashed at the man, the other swung his sword at the man’s thigh. The blade sliced through the man’s tunic and he cried out, but with one quick stroke, severed that soldier’s arm at the elbow. The soldier fell to the ground screaming in pain. The other swung his sword again. The man in the tunic parried the slash, then spun and thrust his sword into the soldier’s groin. As the soldier fell to the ground, the man in the tunic struck one blow to the soldier’s neck. The soldier’s body shuddered, and then relaxed as his blood flowed onto the grass. The soldier with no arm tried to rise and run away, but the man in the tunic slashed him across the back, then thrust his sword into the gap between the soldier’s armored shirt and the skirt of steel plates that guarded his hips. The soldier went down, writhing in agony.

Breena was going to leave, afraid the man in the tunic would see her, when he sagged to his knees, then rolled onto the ground and lay still. Breena looked around, and seeing no one else, approached the scene with her short sword drawn.

The man in the tunic was bleeding badly from the gash in his thigh. She reasoned she should be content to let him die. He was neither kin nor friend, and helping him would only give away her secret sanctuary. The single thing that gave her pause was his long hair. Though lighter than her own golden tresses, the man’s were not the dark brown of a Chandolay warrior, but blonde as were the people to the north. Breena’s mother had come from the north, and had told her the north people were good men and women.

As she looked closer at the man’s wound, the soldier who still clung to life cried out for help. Breena felt no compassion for him. He was a soldier in the army of her enemy. When she saw the insignia of the Palace Guard on his helmet, her lack of compassion became intense hatred.

“I will help you just as you helped my father”, she said quietly. Drawing her dagger, Breena made one swift slash to the soldier’s throat. A stream of warm blood splattered her face and dress as she slashed the other side. The soldier gurgled dark red froth and then died. Breena watched until his eyes grew blank, then turned back to the man in the tunic.

Though the cut was long, it was not so deep as she had first thought, and no blood spurted from the wound. That meant he would probably live if she could stop his lifeblood from leaking out on the ground. Thinking that if he was fighting with the Queen’s Palace Guard, the man was no enemy of hers, Breena tried to stop the flow of blood. She ripped off a strip of her dress and used it to tightly wrap the gash in his leg. The cloth turned bright red and began to drip blood, so Breena tore off another piece and again bound the wound. That bandage turned red also, but after a while, no blood dripped from it to the grass. Breena was trying to think of a way to get the man to her cavern when she heard the neigh of a horse.

The two horses of the soldiers grazed on the lush grass in the valley below her cavern. After checking the man’s bandage and confirming he was no longer bleeding, Breena pulled a handful of grass from the ground and slowly walked to the horses with her hand outstretched. Both looked up from their grazing at the soft voice she used to call them.

“Come here, my beautiful horses, come here. I need you.”

The dark bay mare pricked up her ears and then walked to Breena. As the mare nibbled at the grass in her hand, Breena took the reins in her other hand and began walking to the second, a black gelding. He seemed to be more interested in filling his belly than the girl approaching him, and it was a simple matter for Breena to catch hold of his reins also. With both horses following behind her, Breena returned to the man’s side. His eyes were open and he was trying to rise. Breena asked if he felt strong enough to get on one of the horses and he nodded.

Breena looked at the two horses and decided she’d never get the man on the black. He was taller at the shoulder than she was at the top of her head. The mare was much shorter. Breena helped the man to his feet and half-carrying, half-steadying him, they reached the bay mare’s side. Breena lifted the man’s foot to the stirrup, then pushed up on his hips as he swung himself into the saddle. Breena looked up to see if he was holding on to the saddle.

“You won’t fall off, will you?”

The man shook his head.

Breena led both horses to the deer trail and back to the clearing. The black she left to graze. The mare she took to the entrance to the cavern. After helping the man off the mare and laying him down beside her fire, Breena took the mare back to join the black gelding. Breena found a short length of rope tied behind the saddle of each horse, and then mounted the black gelding and set out to complete the task she’d thought about while walking the horses back to the clearing.

She rode the black gelding down the deer trail again, then dismounted just inside the tree line and scanned the area for any other soldiers that might have come to look for the two dead ones. She saw none, so she led the gelding to where the two men lay. Breena tied the gelding’s reigns to the larger soldier’s foot and then set about stripping the armor, weapons and clothing from the other.

The armor, sword and dagger she placed to the side. When she removed the man’s leather trousers, she pulled them over her slender legs. They were too long and a bit too loose in the waist, but they covered her. His short tunic was next. It had his blood on it, so Breena placed it with the armor. She’d wash it in the pond later.

She stripped the clothing and armor from the second man, rolled everything into a bundle, and placed it on the ground. Using the two pieces of rope she’d found, she tied each man’s legs together and then tied the free ends to the gelding’s saddle. She wanted the bodies as far away from her forest as she could get them.

It was nearing dusk when Breena led the gelding up to the cavern entrance. The two soldiers were far away from the scene of the fight and deep inside some trees along a river. By morning, there would be little left to identify them. By the next day, there would be only bits of hair and a few bones cracked for their marrow.

She pulled the bundle of clothing and armor from the saddle and carried it into the cavern. The man was asleep, but he had no fever that Breena could detect. Fever would have meant the wound had been attacked by evil spirits, and evil spirits almost always meant death. Breena left him to his sleep and went to wash the blood soaked clothing from the two soldiers.

After hanging the cleaned garments beside the fire to dry, she went to check her snares, and was pleased to find three more rabbits. She soon had the rabbits spitted over the fire on sticks and was looking through the contents of the saddle packs the horses had carried. She’d found the pewter cups and bowls the soldiers carried for eating when the man’s voice croaked at her.

“Water.”

Breena ran to the crack in the cavern wall, filled one of the cups with water and brought it to the man. He was able to rise on one elbow, and drained the cup in one gulp. Breena ran to the crack for another cup. When she returned, the man was sitting up and untying the bandage on his leg. Breena handed him the cup, and then retied the bandage.

“If you take it off, you will start bleeding again. I did not bring you here to have you die on me, so leave it alone.”

The man smiled.

“I just wanted to see how bad it was. I was going to tie it back again.”

“It is not a bad cut, but it bled a lot, and it will get the evil spirits if you take off the bandage.”

The man laughed.

“I’ve been hurt worse than this, and I lived.”

“Perhaps the Gods favor you in some way, or”, Breena shrugged, “perhaps you were just lucky.”

“I don’t believe in Gods, but I do believe I was lucky today. I was found by a beautiful woman who took me to her cave. Tell me, who is this beauty who wears the trousers of my enemy under her ripped dress?”

Breena felt her face and shoulders grow warm and knew she was blushing. Her father had said she was beautiful, but no man other than he had said the same. She’d also forgotten about the way she was dressed. Her voice was hesitant.

“I am Breena, daughter of Samarra and Noril of the village of Uvil.”

“Breena, I am pleased to meet you. I, in turn, shall introduce myself. I am Twindle, son of Mergo and a man I never knew, and of the village of nowhere and everywhere. Tell me, why did you bring me here, and why are you wearing the trousers of a soldier?”

“Twindle is a strange name, but you seem to be a strange man. You did not know your father?”

“Alas, no, but I’m none the worse for it. There were many men in Mother’s life. I learned from them all, and that has made me the man I am today, or was until that dog of a soldier slashed my leg.”

He smiled again.

“You didn’t tell me why you brought me here.”

“You were fighting the soldiers, two of the same soldiers who killed my father. I was going to let you die, but thought you might be a friend instead of an enemy so I wrapped your leg and brought you here. Why were you fighting them?”

“It’s a long story, but the essence of it is those two were displeased that I relieved them of the gold they received for serving in the King’s army.”

Breena grasped the hilt of her short sword.

“You stole their gold? Then you are but a common thief. I should have let you die with the other two.”

The man grinned.

“I am no common thief, and I did not steal their gold. I only tricked them into giving it to me with the promise of providing them with women of, shall we say, flexible morals, to warm their bed for a night. It was not my fault the women were fat hags and not the young virgins they believed would visit them. I never said the women would be virgins, only that a young virgin would be a good bed warmer.

“I prefer to think of my trade as saving those who know no better from the actions having gold would surely cause them to commit. Had I not taken their gold, they would no doubt have used it to purchase strong drink and other women. I saved them the pain of an aching head and the sorrow of leaving a woman who would not care if they fell into a hole and died. They should have thanked me, but instead, chose to hunt me down.

“I also relieved them of a broken down nag of a horse and that was my undoing. I should know by now to tie a horse at night until I am far away from his home stable. Once the horse ran off, I could not stay ahead of them.”

Breena wasn’t sure she believed the man.

“I saw no gold, and I searched them and you and their saddles.”

“After I worked so hard to save those two from their own stupidity, I could not just give the gold back, now could I? Their purses are safely hidden under some rocks not far from here. Perhaps tomorrow we can ride there and I can show you. Now, about those trousers? I’ve never seen a woman in trousers, much less a woman quite so beautiful as you.”

Breena felt her face and chest grow warm again.

“I – I tore my dress when I hid from the Queen’s selection at Uvil, and it was not proper to be with you with my legs showing. I took the trousers from the smaller man to cover myself.”

“Ah, I understand, though you would not offend me by showing me your legs. I have seen many in my time, long ones, short ones, thin ones, thick ones, straight ones, crooked ones, just about any type of leg you can imagine.”

Twindle grinned.

“I found them very entertaining to watch as I am certain I would find yours. What is this Queen’s selection of which you spoke?”

Breena related the events of that day in Uvil and how she witnessed them from her hiding place in the tree. Twindle listened intently, and as Breena spoke, began to frown. When Breena finished telling him about how her father had been killed, Twindle whistled.

“I heard of such things from a trader I met some time back, but I did not believe his story. Evil such as that should be removed from the land forever.”

Breena’s voice was sharp and filled with hate.

“The Queen is truly an evil woman. I know not what she will do with Almadee, but I fear my friend will suffer greatly. If I could, I would take pleasure in slitting the Queen from breasts to thighs myself. The Captain of the Palace Guards who ordered my father killed would suffer a more terrible fate if I were to choose it.”

“More terrible than dying? I can’t imagine a worse fate than that.”

“A man who selects young girls for the Queen’s pleasure deserves worse than a quick death. He deserves to be treated like the soldiers of the King’s army treat those young girls when the Queen has finished with them. I would make him into a woman and throw him into the barracks.”

Twindle chuckled.

“I think making him into a woman is not possible.”

“I could cut off his man parts. That would do well enough.”

Twindle chuckled again.

“I must remember to never cause you to be so upset with me. I rather value my man parts.”

“Twindle, your man parts are safe, though I am not certain a thief deserves to keep his. Now, you need to eat and then sleep to rebuild your strength.”

They ate in silence, but this man made it difficult for Breena to concentrate on eating. His smile, his grin, his casual laugh, all caused her mind to become cluttered with thoughts she could not explain. Her body seemed to tingle all over when he smiled at her, and she felt his strong, low voice resonating inside her chest as well as in her ears.

Twindle respected the silence the girl seemed to prefer, but his thoughts were racing around in his mind as quickly and randomly as a moth flitting over a candle flame. This girl, no, this woman was the most beautiful woman he’d seen in a long time, and seemed to have more courage than some men he knew. He regretted misleading her about who he was, but that was necessary for at least the near future. Had his mission been less important, he might have interrupted their meal and explained everything, but he could not.

That she had told him the truth about how she came to be here was evident in her facial expression and in the tone of her voice. That she was sincere about her desire to kill the Queen he also had no doubts, nor did he doubt her ability to do so. He had opened his eyes and had seen her slash the throat of the soldier just before he fell into the blackness of unconsciousness. Breena had been cold and methodical, and her voice when she spoke to the soldier chilled even him. This young woman was no ordinary country wench. Tomorrow, when he took her with him, he would explain.

Twindle finished his rabbit and realized he felt very tired. Certain the fatigue was the result of the fight with the two soldiers and the blood he’d lost from the cut, he stretched out beside the fire, and quickly went to sleep. Breena watched him until his breathing became slow and regular before lying down beside him. She felt a need to help him get well and wanted to be close in case he woke during the night. She told herself it was because he might help her free Almadee and extract revenge for her father’s murder. Deep down inside her thoughts, another voice was saying other things, things Breena forced back into the depths of her mind.

+++++

Almadee woke at the sound of a voice calling her name. Panuli was setting a tray of food on the table.

Wake up, girl. The Queen says you should eat. You must have pleased her, for this is the same meal she is eating.”

Almadee heard the door bolt slide home when Panuli left. Though the bed was comfortable, and the food on the tray more fancy than she had ever seen, she was still a prisoner. As she ate, Almadee thought about her first night with the Queen, and smiled at how the Queen had seemed awed at her actions.

Though Almadee was from a small village, that did not mean she was lacking in the ability to think. While the advice given her by Panuli did indeed cause her disgust, Almadee had realized the futility of fighting the Queen. The Queen had an army she could direct toward any end through her husband. Almadee had only her wits and body. She had decided to do as the Queen wished her to do, and hoped that would spare her most of the pain and suffering she’d heard about from traders.

Panuli had taken her to the Queen’s bedchamber after she finished eating. The Queen was not yet there. Panuli cautioned her about trying to flee, saying doing so would only cause her immense suffering. Almadee did not attempt to escape, She spent her time alone studying the furnishings of the bed chamber and thinking of what she might do to please the wicked desires of the Queen.

The Queen entered sometime later, dressed in a gown of the same material as the one Panuli had given Almadee. She smiled at Almadee and asked if she had been treated well. Almadee said she had.

“Almadee, you have no doubt heard of the ways I have to convince young girls to follow my wishes. I can cause you great pain if that is your wish, or I can give you great pleasure. I, of course, expect the same pleasure from you, and if you do not consent to such, more pain shall follow. I promise you will regret resisting.”

Almadee began the ruse she had planned as she ate her supper.

“My Queen…is that the name by which I should address you?”

“It will suffice for the moment.”

“My Queen, I do not know how to give you pleasure. Such doings are not something I have been taught, for the giving of pleasure by one woman to another is said to be an offense to the Gods.”

“It would sound as if you have had such thoughts?”

Almadee turned away from the Queen and hid her face.

“I have tried and tried not to have them, but they keep coming to me when I see another girl. I am not a proper woman, for a proper woman would think only of a husband and children.”

“It is possible to be both what you call a proper woman and a not so proper one. Did you not know this?”

Almadee turned back and faced the queen. She hoped her face showed interest mixed with fear.

“No, but even should I have been taught so, no other girls my age are of the same mind. I dared not tell them of my thoughts for fear of being cast out by the village…or worse.”

“Almadee, the people of your village are but backward fools who think of nothing but what they were taught by their elders. They are not capable of thinking on their own, and so reject anything not conforming to their teaching. I assure you, there is more to life than being ridden like a horse, being filled with a man’s seed, and then growing a child in your belly. There are pleasures untold that may be experienced between two women, as well as those between a man and a woman.”

Almadee began to believe her plan had some chance of succeeding. She had only to convince the Queen that she was willing, but ignorant.

“Even were what you say possible, I would not know how. I was only taught to accept my husband’s manhood when he wished, and how to carry, bear and care for his children.”

The Queen laughed.

“Do you expect me to believe you have not pleasured yourself? Do not take me for a fool, Almadee. All women have learned to use a finger or two to substitute for a man’s cock.”

Almadee hung her head.

“Yes, I have.”

“It is the same with two women, only the breasts you stroke are not yours, and the lips that you probe belong to another. There are other ways not possible by yourself, but you may learn them if you wish. If not…do you see the straps and ringbolts on the wall?”

Almadee tried to sound innocent but willing.

“When I touch myself long enough, it is as if the world explodes around me. You would teach me how to do that in more ways?”

“Many more ways.”

“I – I do not know. I have the feelings of which you speak, and wish to have the experience, but If I offend the Gods…perhaps it would be better if you just slit my throat now.”

The Queen walked to Almadee and stroked her hair.

“We will have none of this talk about throat slitting. We will talk about what women enjoy.” The Queen touched the front of Almadee’s robe where her nipple made a small bump. “Is this something you enjoy?”

Almadee closed her eyes and forced a shallow sigh.

“Yes.”

The Queen’s other hand moved to the curve of Almadee’s hip, cupped the firm cheek, and squeezed gently.

“And this?”

“Oh…yes.”

The Queen’s hand probed between Almadee’s thighs from the back until they touched the lips between them.

“This also?”

Almadee sighed again.

“Very much.”

The Queen moved her hand from Almadee’s thighs and stroked her hair again, then kissed her. Almadee nearly recoiled at the Queen’s soft, searching lips, but fought back that instinct and kissed the Queen as she would have a man. When the Queen’s tongue slipped between her lips, Almadee did not resist. She used her own tongue to find that of the Queen. The Queen moaned quietly, then pinched Almadee’s lower lip between her teeth as her hand again found Almadee’s nipple. She brushed the tip through the robe, and then pinched it gently. Almadee moaned as she thought she should, and reached for the Queen’s chest.

The Queen’s breasts were large and soft, and her nipples were erect and taut. Almadee did to the Queen as the Queen had done to her. When her fingertips closed on the Queen’s turgid right nipple, she gasped and her tongue slipped inside Almadee’s mouth again. Almadee squeezed the Queen’s breast gently, then sought and found her left nipple. She stroked the stiff tip and then lightly pinched that one as well. The Queen gasped again, and then pulled away from the girl.

“Almadee, you learn quickly.”

“I only did as you did. Is it always so…so exciting. I tingle all over.”

The Queen chuckled.

“No. It becomes more exciting. Let us lie on the bed that I might show you. Take off your robe.”

Almadee was surprised by the Queen’s body. Though older than Almadee, the Queen’s breasts were still firm and her hips were tight, though a bit wider. Her thighs were smooth and soft, and a tuft of nearly black curls grew from her lower belly to the space between her thighs. The Queen moved on top of Almadee and kissed her again, then looked into her eyes.

“Almadee, I will show you the pleasures a woman can give another. Learn well, that you may do the same for me.”

Almadee marveled at the gentleness of the Queen. She also marveled she was responding to those touches. It seemed as if one minute, she was lying on the bed and mimicking the Queen’s kiss, and the next, her body began to tense with arousal. The Queen’s fingers and lips roamed Almadee’s skin, reaching into places Almadee had not dreamed could cause arousal. Her end came quickly in a flurry of spasms and gasps that caused her hips to rock in quick shudders and her mind to fall into a blinding release of all thoughts.

When Almadee recovered and opened her eyes, the Queen was lying beside her and stroking her breasts.

“Did I not say the pleasures became more intense?”, chuckled the Queen.

“You did not say they would be so intense I would lose myself in them.”

The Queen stroked Almadee’s flat belly.

“As you learn more, you will learn to control it better. As can I, you will be able to reach the release over and over until you feel as if you can no longer move.”

“I can not imagine doing so. Is it indeed possible?”

“Practice what you have learned and you will see.”

“On you, my Queen? I may not do it correctly.”

“I will guide you until you do not need guiding. Now begin.”

Almadee tried to remember how the Queen had started. Kissing her, yes that was the beginning. She rolled to her side to face the Queen, parted her lips and pressed them to the Queen’s mouth. Her tongue traced the Queen’s upper lip, then found the Queen’s own tongue and lightly licked the tip. The Queen let a tiny moan slip into Almadee’s mouth.

Almadee stroked the Queens shoulder and then moved her fingertips to the Queen’s right breast. With feather touches, she stroked the nipple until it swelled long and tight, then grasped it between two fingers and rolled is as if it were a thick twig. The Queen moaned again and her tongue pressed firmly against Almadee’s. Almadee lifted the Queen’s breast with the nipple and felt the Queen’s hand squeeze her own.

Almadee felt the Queen pull away and then a whisper.

“Your mouth, girl, on my nipples.”

Almadee adjusted her position and then closed her lips around the Queen’s left nipple. It felt slightly rough to her tongue, and when she licked the tip, found a small dimple there. The Queen sighed.

“More, and you may bite, but not too hard.”

When Almadee closed her teeth on the stiff nub, the Queen rocked her hips and gasped.

“Harder.”

Almadee did as she was asked and the queen groaned.

“The other one.”

Allmeeda remembered the way the Queen had treated her, and before she let the nipple go, she bit again and then raised her head. The Queen’s breast was pulled into a cone. She gasped again, then again as Almadee moved her head back and forth. Almadee bit slightly harder, and when the Queen murmured, “you have learned well”, let the nipple slowly slip between her teeth.

The Queen’s breast fell back to her chest as Almadee pressed her lips to the Queen’s right nipple and sucked. As Almadee lifted that breast by the nipple, she felt a hand guiding hers to the Queen’s thighs.

“Stroke lightly, girl, then part my petals.”

Almadee was unsure if she could do what she knew the Queen would ask of her. She had, of course, felt her own sex many times, both for pleasure as well as for washing. She knew of the small button at the top of her lips, the same nub the Queen had teased into stiffness just before Almadee cried out in release. Letting the Queen’s breast fall softly to her chest, Almadee moved down the bed and stroked the Queen’s inner thighs.

They were not so tight as her own, but the skin was as soft. Almadee’s fingertips moved up, then up further until they brushed the curls of the Queen’s nest. The Queen spread her thighs wide, and to Almadee’s amazement, the swollen lips beneath the crinkled curls parted.

“Stroke me, girl. Stroke my lips.”

Almadee tried to remember what the Queen had done to cause such sensations in her body. Yes, she had lightly stroked the outside of Almadee’s lips for a while. Almadee did the same, and saw a tremor race through the Queen’s rounded belly. As she stroked up and down the Queen’s thick, swollen lips, Almadee saw a drop of whitish fluid appear from the Queen’s entrance. She moved her fingertip to the inside of those lips and saw the Queen’s passage contract. Another few drops of the fluid flowed from the opening.

Almadee took one of the Queen’s inner lips between her fingertips and slowly stroked down its length, then did the same to the other. In her own explorations, Almadee had not done this. Her inner lips were not so large as the Queen’s. Those of the Queen were longer than the outer lips, and full of ripples in the soft skin. Almadee tugged the lip to one side and the Queen groaned.

“Yes, girl. Spread them open.”

Almadee smiled. When she pulled both inner lips apart, they looked as the wings of a moth. Almadee move the lips further, stretching them a little, and watched with interest where they joined at the top. There, instead of the small, smooth button Almadee had felt on her own body was a thick, rigid nub almost as large as her smallest finger. Almadee moved the Queen’s inner lips up and down, and in doing so, the thick nub bobbed also. The Queen gasped.

“Wet your finger in my fluids, girl, and rub my pearl.”

The Queen passage fairly flowed with fluid. Almadee inserted her finger up to the knuckle and it came away wet and glistening, with small strings of the fluid trailing from her finger to the Queen’s entrance. Gently, she spread the fluid over the Queen’s nub, and then began to rub in a circular motion, just as she did when pleasuring herself. The effect was as dramatic as it was immediate. The Queen rocked her hips up and cried out.

“Yes, yes, faster, faster.”

Almadee’s hand was a blur as her fingertip circled the Queen’s stiff button. It began to move in and out under her touch and she had some difficulty maintaining contact. The Queen was panting now, panting and rocking her hips up and down. She gasped, “Now, faster.”

Almadee was attempting to do so when the Queen arched her back high into the air, her body quivered, and she cried out. Almadee did not stop her circular rubbing, and the Queen repeated this action several more times before grasping Almadee’s hand to stop her. The Queen eased down on the bed, still panting, and pulled Almadee to her face. She kissed Almadee softly and stroked the sides of her breasts, then pushed the girl away gently.

“You do indeed learn quickly. I believe you are ready for the next lesson.”

“But My Queen, what else is there. You have reached your release. Will you not now sleep?”

The Queen chuckled.

“This one was but the first, my dear Almadee. If you learn my next lesson as well as the others, I will have many releases tonight.”

“But are you not too sensitive? I cannot bear to touch myself afterward for a long time. The sensations are too intense.”

“Too intense for fingers, yes, but not too intense when caused by something softer. Kiss me and fondle my breasts as before. When the time is right, I will tell you what to do.”

Almadee did as the Queen asked, and the Queen responded more quickly than she had the first time. She also fondled Almadee’s breasts and let her hand stroke Almadee’s sex, though she did not attempt to bring the girl to another release. Another time, she might, but now was a time to train this young girl how to please her and keep pleasing her until she was exhausted.

“Kneel between my thighs, girl, and open my lips. Stretch them as you did before.”

Almadee did as asked. The Queen’s nubbin seemed even larger when seen full on, and it began to move up and down as Almadee tugged on the Queen’s inner lips. More whitish fluid seeped from the Queen’s passage.

“Your tongue, girl. Use your tongue as you did your finger.”

Almadee had not expected such a thing and was disgusted by the thought. To lick where the Queen relieved herself was a horrible thought.

“Do not be afraid, Almadee. I cleaned myself after the ride. It will be not as you think, and you will learn to enjoy it.”

Almadee leaned down between the Queen’s open thighs and took a deep breath to gather her courage. The scent of the soap with which Panuli had bathed her filled to her nose. Almadee stuck out her tongue and made a tentative lick at the tip of the glistening nub of flesh. The queen moaned.

“Yes, girl, more, and all around it.”

Almadee began using her tongue as she had her fingertip, and saw the Queen’s rounded belly contract. She pressed her tongue over the throbbing nub a little firmer, and the Queen moaned.

“Yes, just as you are doing. Now, put one finger inside me and move it in and out slowly.”

Almadee found the licking to not be so unpleasant as she had imagined. It felt much like licking the Queen’s nipples, though the the Queen’s nipples were flat on the tips instead of having a rounded point. That point was particularly sensitive to the touch of Almadee’s tongue, so she began moving her tongue from side to side instead of in circles. The Queen almost immediately cried out, arched high off the bed again, and then fell back down. In panting breaths, she said, “Do…Do not…do not stop.”

Almadee continued moving her tongue over the Queen’s stiff nubbin, and was moving her finger in and out of the Queen’s passage. She felt that passage tighten around her finger just before the Queen arched up yet again.

“Keep going”, was the panted command from the Queen.

Almadee’s hand was growing tired from stroking in that position, so she rotated it from palm down to palm up. Her fingertip touched something just inside the Queen’s passage that felt slightly rough and swollen with fluid. She stroked that place lightly and the Queen gasped.

“Another finger, girl, and stroke that spot while you lick.”

Almadee inserted a second finger beside the first and began to rub the little pad. The Queen gasped again, then panted a few times, then gasped. A flow of fluid coated Almadee’s hand.

“More”, panted the Queen. “More of the same with another finger, and suck on my pearl.”

Almadee thought there not to be room for three fingers, and was surprised when it joined the other two with no difficulty. She felt the Queen’s passage relax, then contract again. She took another deep breath and then closed her lips around the button at the joining of the Queen’s inner lips. Tentatively, she sucked, only to have the Queen cry out, “Harder, girl, harder.” Soon, she was sucking at the thick button with all her strength, and her three fingers stroked in and out of the Queen’s dripping passage as rapidly as she could manage. Almadee kept her fingertips curled, and with each stroke, they brushed firmly over the little pad just inside the Queen’s entrance.

Over and over, the Queen arched up off the bed and cried out. Over and over, Almadee felt a fresh flood of fluid coat her hand. Over and over, the Queen gasped for her to continue. When Almadee’s hand and arm began to ache, and her mouth became too tired to suckle, the Queen gently touched her head.

“You have exhausted me, girl, and I must rest, but I will call for you again. Perhaps then, you can experience what you just gave me. We also have other lessons to learn. Now, go to the door. Panuli will be there to take you to your chamber.”

As Almadee put on her robe and walked to the door, the Queen moaned and then quivered. The last sight Almadee had of her that night was the contracting and relaxing of lips between the Queen’s spread thighs.

Panuli said nothing as she took Almadee to her chambers. As was always the case, once Panuli closed the door, she pushed the bolt home. Almadee sighed. She had escaped pain, at least for the moment, but was still a prisoner. She was also certain the Queen would tire of her one day, and then she would be either passed on to the King as fertile ground for his seed, or sent to the bordello maintained for the soldiers in garrison. She fell asleep trying to think of some way to escape.

+++++

Breena woke with a weight on her chest. She looked down and saw Twindle’s arm resting just below her breasts. She started to move it away when she realized the arm was hot. Brenna carefully placed Twindle’s arm at his side and then felt his forehead. He was as if he’d slept in the coals in the firepit. The evil spirits had entered his wound and were trying to take him away to the spirit world.

Breena knew almost nothing of the arts and magic of a healer. Their secrets were carefully guarded and passed on to only one person per generation. She was sure there were potions that would drive away the spirits, but knew not what they were. Her only experience with fevers was what her mother did when Breena was ill. That was to drive away the fever by keeping the person cool. In winter, when fevers usually came, her mother would use snow or ice wrapped in cloths and placed on the face and body of the stricken person. Breena had no snow or ice, but she did have cool water.

Breena went to the crack in the wall from which the pond received water, filled one of the cups and brought it back to Twindle’s side. She tore another strip from her dress and folded it into a pad, then dipped it in the cup. This pad she placed on Twindle’s forehead. Breena felt Twindle’s face a bit later and found it was still hot. She tore another strip from her dress, soaked it with water, and placed it on Twindle’s neck, then poured the rest of the cup of water over Twindle’s tunic. Taking both cups this time, Breena fetched more water from the crack in the rock. Soon, his tunic was soaked, but when Breena felt his cheeks, they felt a little cooler.

The rest of the night and day, except for one trip outside to relieve herself and to make sure the horses had not wandered away, Breena brought cool water from the crack in the wall and poured it over Twindle’s tunic. By evening, he seemed to be better. Breena checked her snares and found two more rabbits. While these roasted over the fire, she removed the bloody bandages from Twindle’s thigh.

The cut was red and swollen, and gray-yellow fluid oozed from the opening. Breena knew this was the evil spirit trying to dig deeper into Twindle’s body. She used some of her soap weed and more water from the crack to cleanse the wound and then tore more strips from her dress to bind it again.

Breena ate quickly, and then brought more cool water. All through the night, she kept her fire high enough to dimly light the cavern. All through the night she kept Twindle’s forehead and neck pads and tunic soaked in the cool water from the crack.

As the first rays of sunlight filtered through the canopy of leaves and dappled the entrance to the cavern, Breena felt Twindle’s cheeks again. They were cool against her fingertips. She untied the bandage on his thigh and inspected the cut. A little of the gray-yellow oozed from the cut, and she carefully washed away. The redness was almost gone, and her mother had often said that air was the best medicine for cuts. Breena threw the soiled bandages into the fire and left the cut to heal in the open.

The sun was high over the opening in the trees when Twindle stirred.

“I’m cold”, were his first words, followed by “Why am I all wet?”

“The spirits attacked your cut last night. I kept you cool with water to drive them away, and washed them from the cut. Do you feel better?”

“I would feel better if I was dry and warm, but yes, I am better than last night. What happened to your clothes?”

Breena looked down and saw the bottom of her breasts hanging just below the last of her dress. She quickly covered herself.

“I tore my dress for cloths to cool you and to bandage your leg again. Stop looking at me so I may put on something else.”

Twindle grinned and then turned toward the fire. Breena found the soldier’s undershirt, took off the remnant of her dress and pulled the shirt over her head. It was too large, but at least it covered her.

“You can turn back now. I have covered myself.”

Twindle grinned when he looked at her again.

“I rather enjoyed your dress. A man’s undershirt hides too much of a very beautiful and desirable woman.”

“I would think you should worry about getting well instead of what clothes I wear.”

Twindle chuckled.

“It is true that I am injured, but the injury is to my leg, not to my eyes”, he winked one eye and grinned, “nor to anything else. I would not be a man if I did not admire beauty when I see it, nor would I be a man if that beauty did not stir my desire.”

Breena wanted very much to change the subject of their conversation. Those words – beauty and desire – were words that spun her thoughts into confusion again. Did he really think as he spoke? He had been able to trick the King’s soldiers out of their gold? Was he only trying to trick her as well?

“Are you hungry? I have some rabbit left. It is cold, but I can warm it in the fire.”

Twindle smiled.

“Yes, I am hungry, but I wish to be dry before I eat.

He stood shakily, pulled the tunic over his head and tossed it to the side. After adding more wood to the fire, Twindle let the heat dry his body. At first, Breena only saw his strong legs, tight buttocks and the muscles that rippled over his shoulders and back. Then, Twindle turned around to dry his back.

Breena’s heart skipped when she saw Twindle’s manhood. At the time of her first moon-bleed, her mother had instructed her in the ways of men and women, but Breena had not imagined an organ so large. How could something so long and so thick fit into a space she knew to be so small. Twindle saw her staring and chuckled.

“Does my lack of clothing upset you?”

Breena forced her face into a wry smile.

“No, but men should not show their…themselves to women until they are wed.”

Twindle chuckled again.

“There are many women in this world who would disagree with you. They seem to enjoy the sight of a man’s…I know not the name you use. Some call it a horn but there are other names.” He shrugged. “In any event, I see no harm in being without clothes, but I shall cover myself as soon as I am dry.” He paused. “Of course, my tunic will have to dry also, so you may have to endure the sight of me for a while longer.”

Breena retrieved the second soldier’s leather trousers and undershirt from the pile beside the cavern wall and tossed them at Twindle’s feet.

“I took these from the other soldier. They will cover you while your tunic dries. I will see to the horses while you dress.”

The gelding was half the way down the deer path when she found him. It would not do for her to lose one of the horses. She did not know what course lay ahead, but she did know one horse would not carry both her and Twindle very far or very fast.

When she walked back into the clearing, Breena looked around the edges. Thick underbrush grew everywhere except for the narrow opening of the deer trail. Breena knew enough about horses to know the brush would keep them in the clearing. Horses did not venture where they could not see what lay ahead. Only the deer path was open, and any opening would attract a horse in search of better pasture.

With several long branches, Breena fashioned a blockade between the two trees that bounded the opening. That would keep the horses in the clearing. Another spot was open enough it might lead them to the stream, so she piled branches there from the trees to the pond. She then removed the saddles from both the mare and the gelding, so they might roll if they wished.

She was near the entrance to her cavern home when Breena heard a groan. Thinking Twindle had again been attacked by the spirits, she quickly covered the last few steps. Just as she was about to enter, she heard a voice from the cavern.

“Oh, Breena, my fair maid. Would that I were feeling your firm breasts pressing into my chest and your warm sheath clasping my cock.”

Breena peered around the edge of the entrance, and stifled a gasp.

Twindle had not dressed. He was still standing, and his hand was stroking his manhood. What Breena had thought too long and thick to enter her was now even longer and thicker.

As Twindle continued to stoke his shaft, his breathing changed from deep and slow to quick pants. With a gasp, his hips lurched forward and his hand moved faster. A stream of white spurted from the swollen tip of his manhood and into the coals of the fire, then another, and yet still another. Twindle continued to stroke his manhood until it returned to the size Breena had seen before, then put on the pants and undershirt and sat down by the fire.

Breena’s breathing had become faster too, and there was a wetness she could feel between her thighs, the same wetness that came when she caressed herself. Her mind struggled with the opposing thoughts that she should not have seen this but that she was aroused by having done so. She tried to imagine that large, stiff shaft sliding between her wet lips and deep inside her body. How would that feel? Her mother had said it would be painful the first time, but not painful after that, but how could being split by something so large not cause pain? It evidently did not, because Breena had never heard her mother cry out in agony on those nights when she opened herself to Breena’s father. The next day, her mother seemed to be more relaxed and loving to her father, too. Surely she would not be so if coupling with him hurt.

Breena took a breath to clear her head, and walked into the cavern. Twindle smiled at her.

“I thought you had become lost and I would have to find you.”

“No, the gelding strayed and I had to find him. I fixed it so he will stay here now. That is what took so long. Do you feel better now?”

Twindle stretched his arms and sighed.

“Almost good enough to go after this King and Queen you hate so much.”

“You would leave? You are not yet well.”

Breena’s voice had sounded almost like a plea, and Twindle smiled at the thought that she seemed to want him to stay.

“I said almost, and I thought when I do leave, perhaps you would come with me. This hole in the rock is no home for a beautiful woman, and you will soon tire of eating rabbit, I think. My leg will have healed enough in a few days, and we will speak then of what we shall do.”

+++++

Twindle spent the next three days sleeping most of the time. Though Breena hadn’t seen it, he told her the cut was healing quickly. By the fourth day, he could walk with almost no limp. On the fifth, he went with Breena when she made her daily visit to the horses. As he’d been doing since she fetched him back from the deer trail, the black gelding trotted up to Breena as soon as he saw her and nuzzled her shoulder.

Breena held out her hand and offered a handful of grass. The gelding’s lips brushed her fingertips as he pulled the grass into his mouth and happily chewed it.

“He likes you, I think”, chuckled Twindle. I suppose this means I have to ride the mare when we leave.”

Breena laughed.

“I call him Rado, after my grandfather, because they were much the same. Both were tall and strong, and both would do anything for some bit of special food. He loves the grass I bring him from the other side of the pond, because he can not get there.”

“And the mare?”

“She is Mancee. My aunt was named Mancee, and they are both the same too, calm and quiet, a little round in the belly, and strong and brave. See how she pushes Rado out of the way so she can get her share of the grass I brought?”

“II believe I like this mare. She is like a woman I know.” He chuckled. “Riding a spirited one is always better than riding a meek one.” He chuckled again. “I am speaking of horses, of course.”

Twindle’s crude joke was not lost on Breena, and she sought to give an answer that would tell him so. She smiled a knowing smile.

“I would imagine a spirited horse would rather be ridden by a rider gentle in the saddle than one who pushes her ahead without thinking of her comfort. I am, of course, also speaking of horses.”

“Be assured, my beautiful one, I always think of my mount first, and of myself last. Good mounts are difficult to find and very easy to spoil with too firm a hand. Since we are speaking of riding, is it not time to seek out your friend and free her?”

Breena frowned, and then sighed.

“Would that I could, but what can the two of us do against the King’s army? It would be as if a rabbit attacked a pack of wolves.”

Twindle opened his hand.

“Just the two of us are probably not enough, but near here I have a few friends who might consent to help us, if you ask them nicely. First, though, we must retrieve my purse from its hiding place. Shall we rest tonight and leave in the morning?”

At dawn the next day, Breena and Twindle loaded the horses with the armor and weapons from the dead soldiers and rode out of the secluded clearing. They rode until the sun had moved from horizon to mid-sky without speaking, for each was occupied with their own thoughts.

Twindle was deciding how he would tell Breena the truth about how he came to fight the soldiers and why he had to fight them. He thought she would be pleased, but some of the women of his acquaintance would have stopped listening as soon as they realized they’d been told a lie. He finally decided to let her see for herself, and then explain.

He looked at the young woman sitting astride the black gelding. She was relaxed and rocked gently as the horse walked. The gentle rocking caused her full breasts to roll seductively under the loose man’s undershirt she wore. They were same breasts he had seen peeking from under her dress that day, and the same breasts that had stirred his passions to the extent he had to relieve them himself. The leather trousers did not fit tightly when she stood, but sitting in the saddle, the leather pulled tight against her firm hips. It was not difficult for Twindle to imagine those hips writhing beneath him as they both reached their end, or for him to imagine how her heavy breasts would feel in his hands or against his chest.

Yes, he mused, she would be pure joy in their joining, and some men would have taken her, willing or not. He had known men who boasted of doing so, but knew he could never live with the guilt afterwards. Yes, she would be wonderful, but he would have no such joy unless she came to him willingly.

Breena struggled with more conflicting thoughts. She had abandoned her safe haven on the promise of help from a man she had just met. He had already confessed to being a thief, though he called himself something different. A thief might decide to give her up to the King’s men. If that happened, her death would be certain. She fought the urge to wheel Rado and gallop in the opposite direction.

But, what if he was really going to help her? What if he did have friends that would also help? And what of the way he looked at her, smiled at her, and made remarks that were obvious references to coupling? What if he did like her? He had made no attempt to force her to do anything. A bad man would not have been so much a gentleman.

Was she going with him because he promised to help her, or was there something else – that little voice she kept pushing back into her mind? Her mother had taught her much about men and women, but nothing about how to sort out her own feelings.

The sun was high overhead when they came to a river. Twindle dismounted and began walking along the bank.

“It was in this general area. Look for three large rocks that rest against each other. The purse is under them.”

Breena slid from the gelding’s saddle and began walking with Twindle. Some time later he said, “Aha, there you are”, and walked to the edge of the river. After pulling one of the stones to the side, he reached into the opening between the other two and pulled out a large leather purse. Breena heard a faint tinkle when Twindle shook the bad.

“Breena, come look and know that I was not lying.”

Breena looked into the bag Twindle held open. Glittering gold coins almost filled it. She had seen a single travor, once, when a trader had shown it to her. Her mother and father never had gold, nor did anyone else in Uvil. If her father needed a new hoe, he traded three hens to the blacksmith. If the blacksmith needed a new shirt, he traded one of the hens to a seamstress. If the seamstress needed cloth, she paid the trader with two dozen of the hen’s eggs. Here was a fortune such as no one in Uvil had ever seen.

“The soldiers had all of this? It seems more the purse of an officer than a common soldier.”

Twindle shrugged, then smiled.

“There were many soldiers who wished some comfort on a cool night, and who was I to deny them if they were willing to pay?”

“You could have anything in the world with that much gold.”

Twindle smiled again.

“Breena, when one has no gold, one thinks as such, but gold will not purchase that which I want.”

“And what that be?”

“Oh, things, things we can speak of later. Right now, we must be on our way if we are to meet my friends before nightfall. I do not wish to spend a night in the open.”

They rode on, over the low hills and into the shallow valleys of the Wild Lands toward the setting sun. When they chanced upon a stream, they drank and let the horses rest a while. They had no time to find food, and both were hungry when they rode over a hill and looked down into the valley below.

“Soldiers”, whispered Breena. “The King’s soldiers. Already they see us. We are lost.”

As she had said, three soldiers on horses were galloping in their direction. Breena started to turn Rado, but Twindle caught the gelding’s reins and held him.

“This is not the King’s army, Breena. These are the friends I said might help us.”

“You said a few. There must be thousands down there.”

“A few over twenty thousand. The rest are away to the south , west and east or are still in Laney.”

“The rest? How many are the rest?”

“Another forty thousand or so. It is difficult to keep track when some are ill and others are recovering from wounds.”

The horsemen slowed to a trot as they approached, and the man in the lead raised his arm to his helmet.

“Your Highness, we are assembled as you requested.”

“Were you seen leaving Laney.”

“No, Your Highness. We left after the Queen’s Guard secured those who would have betrayed us. Those same men are locked safely away and can send no message. I sent men to watch every way south to be certain, but they have seen no messengers.’

“What about the information we were to let them have – about the attack from the east?”

“One of my archers pretended to be drunk on wine, and told a trader he was off to fight the Chandolay army in the east. Soon after that, the trader was seen riding off in the direction of Mynar. I believe the ruse will work. We will know in the morning, when our runner returns.”

Twindle turned to Breena.

“Breena, this is General Torel, my most trusted officer. Go with him. He will see that you have food and drink, and a place to rest for the night. I must attend to some other duties, but I will join you when I finish.”

He turned back to Torel.

“General Torel, Breena saved my life. See that she is cared for as you would your own daughter, and see that she lacks nothing within your power to give her.”

Twindle rode down into the encampment and left Breena sitting on Bado with her mouth hanging open. From the time she had seen the army in the valley until she was alone with Torel seemed to be only a few heartbeats. How, why, who, all these question raced through her mind searching for answers. She found none.

“M’lady?”

Breena turned and saw Torel smiling.

“M’lady, you look confused, but it is not for me to remedy that. His Highness will explain, I am sure, when he returns. In the mean time, would you not enjoy a meal and a place to rest? If you will follow me, I shall take you to a place to stay, give you food to eat, and anything else I can provide. It would appear you are in need of some new clothes, are you not? I will see if I can find something more fitting of a lady than a common soldier’s garments.”

On the outside, it looked like the thousands of other tents pitched in the valley. The inside took Breena’s breath away. The entire floor was covered with thick, wool carpets in many colors. At one side was a raised bed piled high with woolen blankets. At the other, two chairs and a wooden table sat with plates, cups, and eating utensils as if waiting for the diners to be seated. From the pole that held up the center were hung several brackets holding candles that lit the interior.

“It is no palace, M’lady, but it is better than sleeping on the ground. I believe we have some mutton stew still on the fire. May I bring you a bowl and some wine to drink?”

Breena could only nod. Torel turned on his heel and strode out of the tent, leaving her alone.

No palace, indeed, thought Breena. She could not imagine a place with more luxury. In her home in Uvil, the floor was earth covered with straw. It was cold in winter and dusty in summer. The carpets she now trod were clean and warm. In Uvil, she slept on a thin mattress stuffed with straw that provided little cushion against the boards that supported it. She sat on the bed at the side of the tent. It was as if she were sitting on an entire straw stack. In Uvil, people went to bed as the last rays of sun faded into the black of night. Candles were only used in the event one must move around in the dark, and then only one at a time. Here, so many candles burned that light reached even the furthest corner of the tent with its soft, flickering glow.

There was a knock on the pole at the entrance to the tent.

“M’lady, I have your supper. May I enter?”

Breena said “yes” and Torel brought in a huge bowl of steaming stew and a large cup of wine. Over one arm, he carried what seemed to be a roll of cloth. Torel sat the bowl and cup down on the table and then offered Breena the cloth over his arm.

“’I am no judge of women’s clothing, M’lady, but perhaps this will do until I can find something more to your liking. Some of the men’s wives travel with us as nurses, cooks and seamstresses. When I explained it was a request from His Highness, all were willing to supply a garment. I thought the woman who gave me this to be about your height.”

Breena unrolled the garment and suppressed a gasp. The green dress was of a fiber she had never before seen. The texture was smooth, and the surface seemed to shine in the candlelight. Dainty, white lace trimmed the sleeves and neckline.

“What is this material?”

“It is called silk, M’lady, and comes from far away to the east. The woman who gave it to me is a seamstress who stitches wounds as well as clothing. One of my officers purchased the material from a trader, and gave it to the seamstress as thanks for stitching a wound. She made this dress from it.”

Breena smiled.

“Torel, please thank the woman for me, but I could never take something so rare as this. Surely she has a more ordinary dress I might borrow.”

“M’lady, the woman insisted I bring you this one. She said a woman who saved His Highness’ life deserved nothing less. Now, if I may, I also have duties to which I must attend. I shall leave two guards outside your tent. Should you require anything else, just call for them. I will quickly learn of your request and make sure it is fulfilled.”

Breena removed the rough man’s shirt and leather trousers that had covered her naked body from Twindle, and wondered in awe of the feel of the dress as it slipped down her body. The soft material seemed to hug her body, shaping the dress into almost a second skin. The soft curve of her breasts held it away from her chest, and her nipples made two small bumps in the shimmering fabric. The dress fitted her hips well, accentuating their sensuous curve away from her slim waist. As she ran her hands over those curves, her thoughts went to her mother. What her mother would not give to wear such a dress even once. Her father would have thought her mother even more beautiful than he already said she was.

Her father…the thought brought wetness to her eyes, but the tears were not those of sorrow. Those tears had been shed that day when Breena watched from the tree. These tears were tears of rage at the king who had attacked Uvil and killed many men, at the evil Queen who picked young girls from villages as if they were ripe fruit on the tree, and at the Captain of the Palace Guards who had ordered her father slain. Somehow she would avenge her father and find Almadee.

Those thoughts were interrupted by a soft rapping on the pole of her tent.

“Breena, may I enter.”

Breena recognized Twindle’s voice.

“You may.”

Twindle walked into the tent dressed in the leather and plate armor of a soldier, but his helmet sported a crest of red feathers instead of being plain as was the helmet Torel had worn. When he removed the helmet, the sheepish smile on his face beamed at Breena.

“I would suppose you have many questions for me?

“Just one, but I think that one will have many answers. Why did you lie to me?”

Twindle took a deep breath.

“I did not lie, exactly. I misrepresented myself somewhat, but I did not lie. My name is indeed Twindle, and I am the son of Mergo and a man I never knew. My father was Daval, King of Shanala, the country from the border of Chandolay north and past the Wild Lands. He was killed in a battle with King Mandorn’s father when I was but one year of age. I said I was from everywhere and nowhere, because that is how I spent my youth. Mother assumed the throne and ruled Shanala after my father’s death, and spent most of the time visiting the various cities around the realm.

“As I told you, there were many men in my mother’s life – the men of her army. I spent my youth learning the skills of a military man that I might one day take my father’s place. That was my mother’s goal, to train me to one day lead Shanala as King. My goal was to hunt down the King of Chandolay and kill him as he had killed my father. It was unfortunate that he died of some illness before I could feed him to the worms.”

Twindle smiled.

“So, you see, I did not lie. I merely presented myself in a truthful, but misleading manner.”

“And I may put a dress on a goat and call it a woman, but it is still a goat.”

“I suppose it could appear that I did lie, but there was good reason which I can explain if you will open your mind and listen.”

“I will listen after you tell me who you truly are. Torel called you Your Highness. You must be the King now.”

Twindle chuckled.

“It is his way of showing respect in front of others. We are more friends than superior and subordinate, and I am more prince than king. The kings of Shanala do not gain that status by the mere act of being born. They are accepted for their leadership and compassion for the people. I have not yet led men into battle. I soon shall, and if the court agrees with Mother, then I may be crowned King.

“That is the reason for my ruse. For years, King Mandorn has raided the outlying villages and cities of Shanala. His army is not larger than the army of Shanala, but he keeps them in garrison around the palace in Mynar. The city is well fortified and thanks to his raids at harvest time, has supplies to last years. We could not defeat him by attacking Mynar. The only way was to draw him away from his reinforced city into open country. There we could defeat him.

“We began two weeks ago by sending small patrols into the Wild Lands, as has been our practice. The difference was that not all the men returned from the patrols. They came here, to this secluded valley and began making a camp. Others went to the west and made another. Still others traveled south and met the army of Mesofal, a kingdom to the west of Chandolay that has also tired of King Mandorn’s raids. The fifty thousand warriors of that army will attack the city of Mynar from the south while my army does likewise from the north, east, and west.

It was necessary to send a few at a time, for King Mandorn has many spies in Shanala. A large column of men moving out of garrison would attract attention we could little afford. Through the assistance of a friend in the King’s barracks and some trusted traders, we were able to identify those spies, but could not arrest them for fear of warning King Mandorn. Instead, when even the small groups left, we were careful to send a few selected women to occupy the spies.

“From time to time, through those same trusted traders and through the women who warmed the beds of the spies, we released information of a misleading nature. Some of the spies learned from their concubines that most of the women of that trade would leave the city to follow the army soon. They did not know where, only that the army would leave the city in less than the cycle of the moon.

With their tongues seemingly loosened by good Shanala mead, our trusted traders bragged that when the border raids were halted, they would be trading there again, and hinted that those raids would be stopped very soon. Our own spy in Mynar sent word that our lies had reached the King.

“A small force of about five thousand is now camped some distance east of that border, but each night they light the fires for sixty thousand. The perimeter of the camp is heavily guarded, and all intruders, save a selected few, are killed upon capture. The guards around the encampment have been told to seemingly err and reveal to those arrested that there are indeed sixty thousand men camped there. Those intruders they let escape hopefully return to Mynar with a tale of the massive army assembled just over the hills.

What we hope the King now believes is that in about six days, we will attack from the east with over sixty thousand soldiers. That will force him to move most of his army to his eastern border.

“Two days ago, we arrested all the spies and locked them in the palace dungeon. The main force of the army then moved out to the prepared encampments. In two more days, if our runner brings the news that the army of Chandolay has moved to the east, we will attack from the north and west. The army of Huggan, King of Mesofal, will attack from the south. Upon taking Mynar, the armies will mass and march to meet King Mandorn on the open plains. There, he will be defeated.”

Breena had listened intently and nodded her understanding from time to time.

“If you are to lead the attack, how is it you were fighting two soldiers near my forest cavern and not riding at the head of the army?”

“It was the transport of the gold to pay the army of King Huggan. Most of my soldiers are trustworthy, but one never knows how gold will affect a person who desires it. I decided to carry it myself, but away from the main force of soldiers. My officers explained to the soldiers that the Queen was ill and requested my presence, but that I would join them before the battle.

I dressed in the clothes of a farmer and left in the middle of the night. I carried with me the purse of gold I showed you by the river. It was my misfortune that when I neared the border, two lone soldiers on a foraging trip for King Mandorn’s army saw me and gave chase. I knew the size of my purse would be too large for any farmer. I dismounted to hide it, and my horse ran away. Sorry creature that he was, I would have given half that purse to have him back. I was forced to run. The trees around your cave seemed a good place to hide. The soldiers caught me before I could reach them, and I was forced to fight.”

Breena smiled. “So you did lie to me.”

“Yes, I did lie about the purse, but that lie was necessary if you were to believe me to be the scoundrel I attempted to portray.”

‘When you defeat King Mandorn’s army, what will become of him?”

“I will send the murdering bastard to meet his father in the underworld.”

“And the Queen?”

“The Queen would meet this same fate, were it not for a request of King Huggan. She will be given to him to do with as he sees fit. King Huggan is a good king who cares much for his subjects, but he is not so civilized as I. She is to be tied, naked, in front of the King Huggan’s palace that all those she has abused might return the favor in kind. It is more fitting than death, I believe. Your tale of her cruelty is not the first I have heard, nor is it the most gruesome.”

Twindle touched Breena’s shoulder.

“Breena, I will be as honest as I can possibly be. If Almadee is still alive, and I promise I will have men search for her, do not expect her to be the same Almadee you once knew.”

“What about the Captain of the Guards?”

“He will likely die with the rest during the battle in the city. If not, he will die on the blade of my sword. I owe you much more, but that may at least begin my repayment for your care of me when I had the fever.”

“You could allow me the satisfaction of seeing him separated from his man parts first.”

“Breena, battle is no place for a woman, nor is the mayhem that is likely to follow. My men are disciplined in battle, but after the last blade is thrust, emotions run high, and the thirst for vengeance for those of their company struck down is strong. I can not control them then, nor could anyone, man or god. The thirst must be slaked and allowed to die on its own. They could mistake you for a woman of Chandolay, and …suffice it to say I believe you would not enjoy their treatment of you. You must stay here. When I return, I will tell you of their fate.

“Now, I must leave to await the runner from Chandolay, and will not return before the battle is ended. It should not be a long battle. Between my army and that of King Huggan, we outnumber them two to one.”

He smiled.

“I will leave twenty men and two of the officer’s wives to see to your comfort. Enjoy yourself while I am gone.”

When Twindle had gone, Breena was at first sad, then angry. She was the one who had been witness to her father’s death and the abduction of Almadee. She could not bear the thought of sitting idly in the tent and waiting on news of the outcome of the battle. Breena went to the entrance of the tent and tapped one of the guards on the shoulder.

“Would you be so kind as to tell General Torel I wish to speak with him?”

+++++

As she had on every morning since Almadee’s capture, Panuli woke the girl when she brought her morning meal. When Almadee removed the sleeping clothes the Queen had insisted she have, Panuli watched.

She was somewhat confused. She had been caring for the Queen’s lovers for several years. All had come back from the Queen’s bedchamber with bruises or welts or both. Almadee’s skin was just a whole as the day Panuli had given the girl that first bath. She decided to ask the question that had been nagging at her for days.

“Almadee, why is it you have no welts from the Queen’s lash, nor bruises from her pinchers?”

Almadee hesitated. She could not tell this woman she was only acting out what the Queen desired, even though she sometimes enjoyed the experience. Last night, she had reached release three times in succession. Under her careful caresses and probing tongue, she had left the Queen exhausted after six. No, though Panuli had become her only friend, she could not risk the truth.

“I do not know. I have done what you said, and the Queen has only taught me how to please her. I believed the whip and other devices were her greatest pleasure, but it must not be so. Perhaps it is because I have grown to understand her desires and she has awakened those same desires in me.”

“You – you enjoy having that cow touch you…and you enjoy touching her?”

“Panuli, I think it not best that you call her a cow. I would never tell her such, but others might. You are the only person here I could call a friend, and I would hate to see anything harsh befall you.”

“I would let her kill me before I touched her as she desires.”

“It is not so bad as you might think, Panuli. Perhaps one day I can help you understand.”

Panuli turned to leave then tapped her forehead and turned back.

“Oh, sometimes I think it a wonder I remember my own name. I am to tell you that tonight, you will not visit the Queen’s bedchamber. The palace is under heavy guard because the army has marched off to the east. There will be a huge battle, but they say the King will win. Until the army returns, you will stay locked in your chambers and the Queen in hers.”

As Almadee ate her meal, she sent a prayer to the Gods that the King would lose. She knew not what that might mean for certain, but it could mean her release. Though she had experienced much over the past few days, she was still untouched by a man. More than anything in the world, and in spite of the soft bed and wonderful food in the palace, Almadee wished to be back in Uvil, married to a farmer, and caring for his children.

+++++

That the runner had brought good news was obvious to Breena. The entire army began scurrying about, packing horses, sharpening swords and daggers, and saying goodbye to the women who lived on the outskirts of the encampment. At dawn, the day after this one, Twindle would lead the army against Mydar, and then on to defeat King Mandorn. If all went according to plan, the villages of the border would again be safe, and the Queen would no longer take young girls to satisfy her evil desires. Breena was happy the army was leaving. She only hoped there was enough time before they did.

+++++

There was only enough light in the sky to make out shapes when Twindle mounted his white gelding and ordered the army to march. By mid-morning, this column as well as one from the west and King Huggan’s army in the south would converge on Mynar. At worst, King Mandorn would have left a few thousand guards at the palace. Five thousand archers and four thousand mounted swordsmen would dispatch them quickly. After leaving two companies to complete the ransacking of Mynar, Twindle would turn his army to the east and the main force of King Mandorn. If all went as planned, King Mandorn would lie dead before nightfall the next day, and Twindle would be on his way back to the palace at Laney.

The sun was just peeping over the horizon when a mounted soldier was seen riding at a gallop toward the head of the column. General Torel ordered a dozen men to fan out in front of the column to protect Twindle should the man’s intention be to harm him. Before the men could leave the formation, Twindle ordered them back. Turning to Torel, he spoke quietly.

“I recognize the horse, though I have no idea how she managed it without some assistance. I left strict orders with the camp guards that she was to remain in her tent. You would know nothing about this, I suppose.”

Before he could answer, Breena brought the black gelding to a dusty halt and then trotted up beside Torel.

Twindle was taken aback by the garb Brenna wore. The trousers were of the same black leather as the army wore, but cut to tightly fit her female shape. The armor was also similar, but with two polished cones to protect her breasts. A skirt of metal plates spread out over her hips, and her helmet was crowned with the feathers of a raven. In sheaths that crossed over her back were two short swords, and at her waist hung the dagger she’d used to slit the throat of the soldier at the grove. Twindle stared in both admiration for her courage and anger at her lack of concern for her own safety.

“Breena, how –“

Breena removed her helmet and shook out her long golden hair. It fell in waves over her steel and leather clad shoulders.

“Your Highness, you did not truly expect me to stay behind while you took my vengeance for me?”

“Yes, I did, and I will send you back with a dozen swordsmen as soon as you tell me who assisted you in obtaining what you wear and permission to leave the camp.”

“You can not send me away. I will only escape and follow you to Mynar, regardless of how many men you send to take me back.”

Breena’s firm face became a smile.

“I have no reason nor need to tell you who helped me. Let us just say it was a friend who understood my wishes and agreed with them. Torture me, kill me, do as you wish, but that friend’s name will never cross my lips.”

Twindle was angrier. This girl had no idea of what happened in a battle, and he had no time to protect her.

“If a dozen are not enough, perhaps a thousand will be, or two thousand, or three.”

Torel cleared his throat,

“Your Highness, if you send many, they will not return in time to join the battle. King Mandorn is outnumbered, but his army is still strong and capable. We will need every sword to defeat him. If you will allow Breena to stay until we have taken Mydar, I will assign twenty men to watch over her. Mydar is where her quest lies, and she can rescue her friend while we finish with Mandorn.”

What Torel said was true, and left Twindle little choice. He did not know how many of the King’s army guarded the palace, nor how many men he might lose in that battle. He would indeed need all the men he had at his disposal.

“Very well, Breena, but do not begin your search for Almadee until we have taken the city. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Your Highness, I understand.”

Breena smiled, and her smile bothered Twindle for some reason he could not explain.

++++++

The walls of Mydar were filled with archers when Twindle led the column toward the gate.

“They plan to cut us down in a hail of arrows”, said Torel.

“Yes, and some of our men will die, but our archers will aim true as well. Send a company of foot soldiers to test their range.”

Torel gave the order and a hundred men marched forward with their shields held in front of them. They had traversed about a hundred paces when the sky was filled with hundreds of arrows. The foot soldiers huddled close together and held their shields over their heads. Most of the arrows fell short. The arrows that did reach the men were deflected by the shields. Only two men, both on one side of the formation fell crying in pain. Four other soldiers dragged them back to the column and the rest of the company followed them.

Twindle turned to Torel again.

“Our archers have the new bows, the ones from the East?”

“Yes.”

“Let us see if they were worth the gold they cost.”

At Torel’s order, five thousand archers marched to the front of the column. Each man carried twenty arrows, and carefully stuck the points into the ground in front of him. At the command of “nock” from their commander, the archers nocked arrows and drew their bows. “Loose” was the next command, and thousands of arrows filled the sky on their way to Mydar. Their arc was high, and to Breena, their flight seemed to take a long time, but soon, the air was filled with the screams of men inside the walls of the city. Breena heard “Loose” again, over and over, until each archer had sent half his twenty missiles of death into the city.

Twindle nodded in satisfaction.

“That should keep their heads down while we storm the gates. If they should pop back up like a rat from its hole, your archers are ready, are they not?”

“Your Majesty, they will send another flight at the first archer who shows his head, and keep sending them until we have breached the gate. Already, men are bringing more arrows.”

Breena looked on as men carrying bundles of arrows ran down the line of archers and dropped a bundle in front of each.

Twindle gave the order to march, and the column moved at a trot toward the gates of the city. Another wave of arrows was sent at the palace when the column reached the point where the company of foot soldiers had lost two men. A few random arrows left the walls of the city, but fell wide of the column. Those few arrows were met with thousands more from Twindle’s archers. After that, there were no more arrows from the city.

The gates of Mydar were of heavy timbers nailed closely with iron nails. As soon as the column stopped, several large soldiers with heavy axes ran to the gates and began hacking away at them. More archers took places at each side of the column to protect the axemen, but were not needed. After a while of steady whacks of each axe, one of the timbers was cut in two on each side of a cross piece. A second soon followed and opened a hole wide enough for a man to pass. Six men went through the opening.

There were sounds of fighting from the other side, and a dozen more swordsmen went through the hole. The fighting stopped, and moments later the gates swung open. The sergeant who ran up to Torel saluted, and then said the guards had all run into the palace.

The battle for the palace was over almost before it began. Torel simply sent men into every entrance with instructions to kill anyone who resisted but to leave the rooms untouched. Torel did not want the Queen or any innocent people to be killed. He would later send an officer and a few men to investigate the rooms of the palace and capture anyone hiding there.

The soldiers soon came out and declared the palace to be secured. Torel called for the officers of two companies and instructed them to finish searching the rooms of the palace and to take anything of value. When he returned to Twindle’s side, Twindle gave the order to march.

Breena watched them leave with a feeling of fear. She had grown fond of both men, Torel because he reminded her of her father, and Twindle because…no, he could be a friend, but nothing else. He was of royal blood and she was but a common farmer’s daughter. Her eyes filled with tears as the two men rode through the gate and led the army to an uncertain fate.

Breena remembered her reason for being there and wiped the tears from her eyes. She rode the black gelding up to the officer in charge of the search of the palace rooms and asked about the Captain of the Palace Guards.

“M’lady, he has not been found, but we know he is here. When we find him, he will suffer for what he has done. I believe a sword through his belly will teach him the error of his ways.”

Breena smiled.

“If I could trouble you, the man killed my father. I would speak with him before you spill his insides on the ground.”

The officer said he would do his best, and summoned his men. Breena drew both her short swords and went with them to search for Almadee.

+++++

Almadee had heard the shouts and the sound of running feet just as she was finishing her morning meal. Moments later, Panuli burst into the room in a panic.

“The city is under attack by a huge army. They come from the north, the west and south. With so few guards left, I fear we will all be killed, or worse.”

A glimmer of hope flashed through Almadee’s mind.

“Who are they, the soldiers?”

“I heard it said they are from Shanala, but I do not know for certain.”

“If they are from Shanala, all may not be lost. My village was in Shanala. They will take me away from this place and back to my village.”

Panuli was crying.

“It may be a good thing for you, but I have served the Queen. They will not spare me.”

“If I tell them not to harm you, they will not.”

“You would do such a thing. Why?”

“You have been kind, and gave me the advice that has allowed me to remain unharmed by the Queen.”

“What if they are not from Shanala?”

“Then, I do not know the outcome. We must hide until we are certain. Is there a place no one else would go?”

Panuli stopped crying.

“There is a small passage next to the Queen’s bedchamber. She uses it when she has kill…when she injures a girl beyond healing. Those girls are taken from the Queen’s bedchamber through a secret door and out through that passage. It leads to the stables.”

“We would have to go through the Queen’s bedchamber to reach it? I think that is not so good an idea.”

“There is one other entrance. There is a door in the hall to the servant’s quarters hidden by a tapestry. It was used years ago when the former Queen wished to entertain a lover.”

“Who knows of this passage?”

Panuli shrugged.

“The Queen, the King, the Captain of the Palace Guard and a few of his men, and I. There may be others, but those are the only ones I have seen use it.”

“Let us find that door, and hide there until the battle ends. We will decide what to do after that.”

Panuli looked frightened again.

“I do not know if I should. If the palace is not lost, the Queen will believe I tried to help you escape. You are special to her and she would not like to lose you. She would have me killed.”

Almadee touched Panuli’s shoulder.

“As you say, the Queen thinks I am special. I will tell her you were only hiding me that I might not be captured. She will believe me.”

They waited at the door to the hall until the stream of soldiers had passed, and then Panuli led Almadee to the tapestry.

“Hold it up while I open the door.”

When the door closed behind them, Panuli whispered, “We should hide near the Queen’s bedchamber. The entrance in the stable is not so well hidden, and might be discovered. The Queen’s bedchamber is this way.” She took Almadee’s hand and led her through the pitch-black darkness toward a pinpoint of light at the end.

Panuli whispered again.

“The Queen’s bedchamber is on the other side of this door. We should wait here until we know about the battle. If the Palace Guard has won, we will enter here and explain to the Queen why we were hiding. If not, I do not know what we will do.”

+++++

The officer in charge of searching the palace split his command into groups of two men each. Each pair was to search the rooms on either side of a hallway and then return to the main hall. Breena followed two of the soldiers, Blader and Ropal, as they climbed the stairs to the second floor. Walking quietly was difficult. The dead of the Palace Guard lay everywhere. At first, Breena was shocked by their wounds – a severed head laying next to its owner, a gaping hole in the belly of another with stinking, purple and brown organs oozing out, and pools of dark red blood around most. Occasionally, one of the Palace Guard stirred. His movements were quickly stilled by the thrust of a short sword, and his blood joined that of the others. Breena thought it a bit strange that she could become accustomed to the carnage, but after a while, she did.

Few of the rooms held any surprises. Most were richly decorated, as one would expect to find in a King’s palace. Some of the rooms were the quarters of servants, and the furnishings there were sparse. In some of the servant’s quarters they found men and women who had served the King and Queen. Breena had no sympathy for them as the soldiers took their lives. They had been a part of the cruel realm, and deserved to die.

Mid-way down the hall, they came to a door with a crown of gold affixed at eye level. Ropal whispered to Breena, “This must be the Queen’s chambers. She will have guards inside. Stay back until we have killed them all.”

Breena took a position opposite the doorway as the two men slammed into the door with their shoulders. After three attempts, the door latch was ripped from its mounts and the door flew open. As Ropal and Blader cautiously entered the room, Breena saw the Queen standing beside a bed. In her hand was a dagger with a jeweled handle. The two soldiers were looking about for the guards they expected to find and did not see the Queen’s eyes flick to the hinge side of the door, but Breena did. She yelled, “Behind you”, and ran trough the doorway.

Ropal turned just in time to parry the slashing sword of the guard, but was knocked down by the force of the blow. As Blader ran to defend him, Breena saw a second guard step from behind the door and raise his sword. He swung the blade at Blader’s head and would have sliced the man through the neck had Breena’s sword not blocked its path. As the guard’s sword glanced off her blade, Breena thrust her other sword at his throat. Blood sprayed her face as the blade sank deep. The guard looked at Breena with eyes wide open in amazement, and then sank to the floor.

Breena yanked the sword from his throat as he fell, then turned to see Ropal and Blader in a struggle with the other guard. The guard was slashing wildly at the two, but landing none of his swings. He slashed at Ropal and missed, the momentum of his effort turning him to the side. Blader took that opportunity to slash at the guard’s leg. The guard dropped his sword and fell to the floor, crying in pain. One quick thrust to his neck stopped his cries, and after a few heartbeats, his writhing about on the floor stopped too.

Ropal and Blader turned to the Queen. She held her dagger at the ready, and Breena saw both fear and hatred in her eyes.

+++++

The two women sat in the darkness for what seemed like forever. Then, there was the crash of splintering wood from the other room and shortly thereafter, the clang of swords clashing together. Almadee heard the thud of a man falling, and then another man cried out in pain. All grew quiet for a moment except for the cries of a man who sounded seriously injured. Those cries were cut short when Almadee heard the dull thud of a sword hitting flesh.

Almadee heard a man say, “Yes, this is the evil bitch. I saw her when the King raided my village.” Another shouted, “We should kill her now.” The first man replied, “No, do not kill her yet. She took my sister. I wish to give her the same treatment she gave Lonia. Tie her down and we will teach the hag what a soldiers cock feels like.” She heard the Queen scream, “I will kill you all if you touch me”, and then the sounds of a scuffle. The Queen screamed again, but the scream was cut short by another voice – the voice of a woman.

“She shall not be harmed. His Majesty has promised the king of Mesofal that she will be given to him. Bind her hand and foot and take her outside.”

Almadee burst into tears at that voice.

“Open the door, Panuli, and hurry. I know that woman’s voice.”

When the hidden door swung open, Ropal and Blader, thinking more guards were entering, drew their swords and moved toward it. Almadee came through the opening first, pulling Panuli along by the hand. She did not recognize Breena in her armor and started back through the door, but Breena recognized her.

“Almadee”, she cried and ran to embrace her friend.

“I hoped to find you, and now I have. Who is this with you? Another girl the Queen took from some village?”

Almadee sobbed as she returned the embrace.

“Breena, it really is you. The Gods have answered my prayers.

Breena gently pushed Almadee away.

“You are all right? You have not been hurt?”

“I am well, thanks to this woman. She is Panuli, an acolyte of the Order of Lule. Please do not harm her. I will explain later, but she is the reason I am alive and uninjured.”

Breena took Almadee and Panuli to the great hall and told the officer in charge that the two women were her friends and were not to be harmed. She asked the officer if the Captain of the Palace Guard had been killed or captured. He answered that his men had not found the man, but were still looking. Breena turned to Panuli.

“The Captain of the Palace Guard, if he were hiding, where would he be?”

“I do not know for certain. I saw him before the battle, and he was running in the direction of the barracks.”

Breena turned back to the officer.

“Will you send men with me to hunt down this murderer? I will go by myself if you do not. He had my father killed, and he must answer to me for that.”

The barracks were deserted as Breena had expected. Every Palace Guard would have been ordered to defend the palace. Any who ran or refused to fight would have been killed by their own men. Only the Captain of the Palace Guard could avoid the battle without losing his head.

At one end of the barracks was a door with the insignia of a captain painted on the top cross piece. The six soldiers approached this door cautiously. At a nod from one, another kicked in the door. The soldier’s rush into the room was stopped by the voice of a woman.

“Lower your swords. This coward knows I will slit his throat if he even bats an eye. He will not fight.”

Breena walked into the room behind the last soldier and saw the man who had ordered her father killed. He did not look so imposing with the tall woman behind him holding a knife to his throat. He looked afraid. Breena took off her helmet and shook her head. Tossing the helmet to the side, she drew her dagger and walked to face the Captain of the Guards.

“Do you remember me?”

The Captain swallowed.

‘No.”

“You should remember one whose father you ordered killed. I am Breena, of Uvil. Now, do you remember?”

The Captain swallowed again.

“Yes. You are the daughter of that farmer who mocked me by hiding you. I – I had no choice. The Queen would have had me killed if I had not done what I did.”

The woman behind the Captain pricked his neck with the point of her knife.

“I did not know you did this, or I would have gutted you as I would a chicken.”

She looked at Breena.

“I am sorry for your loss. Had I known…but I can kill him now if that is what you wish. I have dreamed of watching him die every time he pierced my body with his little cock.”

Breena held up her hand.

“Do not kill him yet, though he does deserve to die. Who are you who has captured my enemy?”

“I am Idonia. I am an agent of the Queen, sent here to spy on the goings on in Madar. I was able to infiltrate the bordello of the Palace Guards as they are always looking for new women. When this animal chose me, I made sure he was very pleased. I have been assigned to his quarters since, though it sickened me to no end.

“He did not watch me closely after my first moon phase, and I was able to pass information to the Queen with the help of two traders who knew of my mission. It was I who sent the message of the army’s travel to the east. This man was fool enough to tell me of the impending battle.

“Once our army attacked the palace, he ran here with the intention of escaping the battle. I was ready. He begged me to go with him, and I agreed so he would be put at ease. Then, when his back was turned, I pricked his neck with my knife and asked it he believed the blade would feel to him as his cock did to me.”

Breena smiled.

“I think a quick death is too merciful for such a man. Would you allow me to make a suggestion?”

+++++

Twindle was exhausted, but elated. Most of King Mandorn’s army lay either dead or dying on the plains. The army of Chandolay was in the process of sending those still clinging to life to meet their ancestors, and stripping them of anything of value. The few who still lived were running with all the speed they could muster. He had not bothered to send men after them. They were too few to cause any harm, and it was not likely they would return. King Mandorn lay among the dead, his head attached to his body by only a few strands of muscle. Without their king and army, Chandolay was defeated.

Torel rode up beside Twindle and grinned in spite of the cut on his arm.

“I think today was a good day for Shanala. King Mandorn is dead as are most of his army, and we have the palace. We will celebrate tonight.”

Twindle sighed.

“Torel, celebrate all you wish, and see to it the men have as much wine and as many women as they desire. I, for one, am tired, and look forward to a good night’s sleep. First, though, I must return to the castle and find Breena.”

Torel grinned again.

“If I may speak as a friend instead of an officer, this farm girl has set her hooks in your heart, I do believe, else you would be joining in the celebration. I think you could do worse than that farm girl.”

“I do not know if she feels the same, Torel. I lied to her. She will not forgive that easily.”

“I think she is one who understands the reason, and is grateful for your help in her search for vengeance. She told me as much.”

“You mean on the night she asked you for her armor?”

Torel lowered his head.

“Your Majesty, you did order me to give her anything she wanted.”

“Yes, I remember. You could have been less accommodating, though.”

“Your Majesty, Breena is a very brave and very stubborn young woman. She said she would go alone if I did not help her. I thought giving her some protection would be the best thing to do.”

“You did not tell me.”

“That was her second request. She feared you would tie her up to keep her in the camp if you knew of her plans.”

Twindle laughed.

“I would not have tied her, but I would have found a way to lock her up.”

“I figured as much, and knew she would be even less likely to forgive you for that than for lying to her.” Torel laughed. “Besides, I was not sure my men would be capable of restraining her. Breena would seem to be quite the fighter if pressed hard enough.”

Twindle chuckled.

“True. I would not wish to be facing her if she was angry. I only hope she has fared well in her search for Almadee. I fear she will find not the girl she knew, but instead, a woman broken by the Queen’s cruelty. At worst, she may find only a grave. I must go now to see for myself and to keep my promise to her about the Captain of the Palace Guard. I will see you when you bring the army back to Mydar.”

Twindle was challenged by the guards at the gate to Mydar, but upon seeing his face, the guards knelt. Twindle bade them rise and asked about conditions in the city.

“Has the Queen been found?”

“Yes, Your Highness, and she is locked in a cell in her own dungeon. It was said you had promised to give the Queen to King Huggan. She was not harmed in any way.”

“And so I did. About Breena, is she all right? Did she find her friend?”

The guard laughed out loud.

“You mean the woman warrior? She found her friend and saved the life of one of our men in the process, and found the Captain of the Guards as well. You should see the punishment she gave him. I would tell you, but that would spoil your entertainment. They are in the courtyard in front of the palace.”

Twindle spurred his horse through the gate and then toward the crowd of soldiers in front of the palace. They were jeering and laughing at something. He dismounted and shouldered his way through soldiers too occupied with the sight to recognize him. When he pushed through the last of the laughing men, Twindle stopped, unable to go further because of what he saw.

A table sat in the center of the courtyard. On this table, on his hands and knees was the Captain of the Guards. His hands were tied to the table as were his feet, and his knees were tied to a long piece of wood that kept them spread wide. He was very much out of uniform. In fact, he had no uniform at all.

Breena and three other women stood by the table, laughing along with the soldiers. Twindle walked toward Breena. Upon seeing him, she ran to him and threw her arms around his neck.

“I have found Almadee and she is well. I also found the Captain of the Guards, as you see.”

“I thought I said you were not to go looking for him, and that I would kill him for you.”

Breena smiled.

“No, you only said I should not look for Almadee until after the battle was won. I did just as you said. After I found her, I went looking for this dog. Do not look so concerned. I took six soldiers with me.”

“You ordered my men to follow you?”

“Not exactly. I just told them you had granted me special permissions, and that General Torel had been ordered to allow the army to do as I wished.”

“Then you lied.”

“I did not lie. As some scoundrel I once met told me about his own lies, I only misrepresented things a little, but for a good cause. You did give me special permission to travel with the army, did you not? And you did tell Torel to grant any wish he could grant, did you not?” Breena shrugged her shoulders. “I wished to find the Captain of the Guards.”

“I believe you have twisted my words until they no longer mean what I said.”

Breena grinned.

“They meant what I meant, though.”

Twindle sighed.

“At least you are unharmed. What is this I hear about you saving the life of one of my soldiers?”

“It was nothing really. I just stopped one of the Palace Guards from killing him by parrying his sword and then sticking his neck with mine.”

“I thought I told you…”

Twindle sighed.

“I suppose I did not specifically say you were not to engage in any fighting?”

Breena grinned.

“No, you did not.”

Twindle pointed to the Captain of the Guards.

“What is this all about? I thought you were going to cut off his man parts.”

“Yes, that was my plan, but then I realized he would just bleed to death and that was too quick. When we found the Queen, I noticed some strange items on a table in her bedchamber. Almadee told me their use. They were wood and stone fashioned into the shape of a man’s organ, the same organ Idonia calls a cock. The Captain of the Guards is learning what it feels like to be penetrated by a cock against his will. See how Idonia pushes it in and out of the opening in his rear, and how he wriggles when she moves it up and down?”

“Do you still want him killed? I would be happy to do so for you.”

“No. I spoke to one of the officers from King Huggan’s army when they came to see if we had captured the Queen. It would seem there are a few men in their army who favor the tight fit of a man’s portal over the normal entrance of a woman’s. As you might guess, it is difficult to find suitable men for their soldier’s bordello. The Captain will serve as a sort of concubine. It is a more fitting end than death, would you not agree?”

+++++

The lookouts from Uvil, the same old men hidden high in the same trees of the hills on either side of the valley, saw the column of soldiers and sent messengers to warn the people of the village. The village became a flurry of men casting aside their pitchforks and hoes, and of women rushing their children to the safety of the hills. The single dirt path through the village was soon deserted except for a few old men and women sitting in front of the houses. The men waited, spread out amongst the houses, that they might attack the column from the sides.

Old Brundle, the oldest man in the village, squinted his eyes as the column approached, then shouted with joy.

“It is Breena and she brings Almadee with her.”

The men came running to see for themselves, and as soon as they were certain the old man’s eyes saw true, sent for the women and children. Breena’s mother pushed through the crowd to the front, and was soon joined by Almadee’s mother and father.

Breena saw her mother and urged the black gelding into a trot. She reined him in a few feet from the townspeople and dismounted before he had come to a stop. She ran to her mother and embraced the sobbing woman. Moments later, Almadee was in her mother’s arms and being patted on the back by her father.

Twindle watched the reunion with some misgivings. He would have preferred to return to the palace with Breena, but had found no opportunity nor way to ask her. Breena seemed more than anxious to return to Uvil to take Almadee back to her parents and to see her mother. He had agreed.

Panuli and Idonia sat on their horses and also watched. Idonia was pleased to be returning to Laney, and viewed this side visit as only a minor delay. Panuli had other thoughts.

During the ride from Mydar, Almadee had confessed to her that the nights she had spent in the Queen’s bedchamber were an offense to her true feelings, but that it was necessary for her to do so in order to remain unharmed. Panuli was thankful the Queen had not corrupted the young girl, but she also knew that if Almadee was like most girls her age, she would soon be married.

Panuli had no one in this world. Her mother and father were both with their ancestors, and she had no siblings. The priestesses of the Order of Lule had taken her in when she was found wandering the streets of Mydar, and were the only family she had known. Though she was cared for and made an acolyte, she was more servant than member of the temple.

She had never confided this to Almadee. When Almadee came to the palace, Panuli spoke to her only as her duties required. Servants were forbidden from speaking to captives except as necessary. During the battle, Almadee had promised to protect her no matter what happened, and Panuli thought she had found a friend. Now, Almadee would return to her family, and Panuli would be alone again.

Panuli was surprised to see Almadee pointing at her, and even more surprised when Almadee waved at Panuli to join her. She dismounted and walked to where Almadee and her family stood. Almadee took her by the hand and pulled her forward.

“Mother, this is Panuli. She was my only friend while I was a captive, and she is the reason I stand here today.”

Almadee’s mother wiped the tears from her eyes, and then took Panuli’s other hand.

“We have little, but you are welcome to share what we have for as long as you wish. The woman who brought my daughter back to me deserves much more, but we have no more to give.”

Panuli’s face brightened.

“I could stay here, in your home?”

Almadee’s father took both women’s hands in his and squeezed gently.

“I will build you a bed beside Almadee’s, and make another chair for the table. It will be as if you were our daughter.”

He chuckled.

“With daughters as beautiful as you two, I will be busy chasing away the young men who wish to make you their wives.”

Panuli blushed.

“No one ever told me I was beautiful.”

Almadee’s father smiled.

“Look around you, girl. Already the young men are staring at you and have their tongues hanging half-way out of their heads. With a new dress, you will attract them like rabbits to clover. Now, come, unless you have another place to go. It is nearing noon, and I have a bed to build before tonight.”

Breena smiled as Panuli went with Almadee’s family. She had brought Almadee home, safe and sound, along with a new friend. Breena’s mother was still wiping the tears of happiness from her eyes, and had taken some solace in the fate of the Captain of the Palace Guards. Breena was happy to be home, but her heart was heavy. Twindle would soon ride north to Laney. He would be crowned King of Shanala, and be gone forever. Her thoughts were interrupted by her mother’s voice.

“Breena, I thought I taught you better. Will you not introduce me to the man who brought you back to me?”

Twindle watched as Breena and her mother walked toward him and was startled by their likeness. Both had the same golden hair, and though her mother’s hips were wider, both had the slender, but buxom shape of desirable women. He thought Breena’s father must have been the envy of every man in the village. When Breena introduced him to her mother, he saw they both had the same eyes and smile.

“Twindle, this is my mother, Samarra. Mother, this is Twindle, a prince and the leader of the army who defeated and killed King Mandorn. If it had not been for his help, I would never have found Almadee.”

Twindle could not help but return Samarra’s smile.

“Your daughter is being much too humble. She not only saved the life of one of my men, she saved mine as well. Breena was also responsible for capturing the Captain of the Palace Guards and sending him to his punishment. She is a very brave girl. I might also add that she is every bit as beautiful as her mother.”

Samarra laughed.

“I am old enough to be your mother, and you still try to sway me with smooth words. I think it better if you save those words for a much younger woman.

Twindle grinned.

“If you mean Breena, I have told her the same. She always turns pink…much as she is doing now, and changes the subject.”

“Perhaps you should say it more often.”

Breena felt her face growing warmer.

“Mother!”

“Breena, I am only jesting with your friend. We should go anyway. We have many things to talk about.”

Breena looked up at Twindle.

“When will you leave for Laney?”

“The sun is low. Torel has the main column encamped near the river to the north. We will leave tomorrow morning.”

“Will you come to say goodbye?”

“I had planned to do so. Torel would like to come also, if that is acceptable.”

“I will look forward to your visit.”

+++++

Breena pushed her plate back and sighed.

“I am so full I could pop.”

Her mother smiled.

“If you did, your beau would not think you quite so beautiful, I think.”

“I have no beau.”

“Breena, I remember the way your father looked at me. Twindle has the same eyes for you. When he looks at you, he smiles. Every time you speak, he smiles.”

“He makes fun of me too, like saying I was the one who found the Captain. He knows it was Idonia who really captured him.”

“Breena, I did my best to teach you to see things as they truly are and to think for yourself, but sweet child, you are blind where that man is concerned. I think he loves you very much. What you call making fun is only his way of trying to tell you that.”

“Why doesn’t he just tell me then.”

“Have you given him any reason to do so?”

“No, but there is a reason. He is a prince and I…I am only the daughter of a farmer.”

“So, you have been pushing him away? Do you love him?”

“I do not know how to tell for certain.”

Samarra sighed.

“All I can tell you is how I felt about your father. It was not just his touch or that he gave me you. It was the way he made me feel when he smiled at me. It was the way he worked so hard to give me things I did not need. It was…I can not explain it better except to say that when your father was killed, a piece of me died too. It felt as if it left my body and joined with his.”

“If I feel that way about Twindle, do I love him?”

Samarra smiled.

“I should think so, Breena, and you should tell him if you do.”

The next morning, Breena put on the green silk dress Torel had brought her in the army camp and brushed her hair until it gleamed like burnished gold. The night before, as she lay in bed unable to fall asleep, Breena had thought about what her mother said. She was still not certain she loved Twindle, but she was sure she did not want him to leave. Somehow, she had to tell him that.

Twindle and Torel rode into the village a little later. Twindle asked a young boy the way to Samarra’s home, and then followed his directions to the door.

Breena jumped when she heard Twindle rap on the door. She had calmed herself before. Now, she felt jittery and her mind seemed to race in many directions at once. She took a deep breath, and opened the door.

Twindle had seen Breena in the same dress at the encampment, but only in the light of candles. The sunlight streaming through the door turned the dress into a shimmering likeness of the desirable woman beneath. The long hair that fell in waves over her shoulders only made the color more intense. Her eyes were blue fire and her pink lips begged to be kissed.

Breena said, “Please come inside”, then went to tell Samarra that Twindle and Torel had arrived. Both came back a moment later and Twindle had to stare again. Samrees’s blue dress was not of silk, but the fit was just as perfect. Her hair was a bit lighter than Breena’s. Her eyes sparkled with the same blue fire.

Torel chuckled.

“Your Highness, you did not tell me the mother was as much a beauty as the daughter.”

Samarra laughed.

“I would think a man in your position has had much practice in flattering women, so I will thank you, sir, but not believe you so much as you would like me too.”

Torel chuckled again.

“It would seem beauty is not the only thing you have passed to your daughter.”

Samarra smiled.

“Perhaps you would walk with me and explain what those things might be?”

Without waiting for an answer, Samarra hooked her arm in Torel’s and led him out the door.

Neither Twindle nor Breena said anything for a while. They just stood looking at each other. Finally, Breena spoke.

“You leave today?”

“As soon as Torel and I return.”

“How long will it take to reach Laney?”

“It will be nearly dark when we ride through the gates.”

“Your mother will be happy to see you, I expect.”

“Yes, just as yours was to see you.”

“Will you ever come back to Uvil?”

“I do not know. Is there something here that needs my attention?”

Breena’s mind was cluttered with the same thoughts that always came to her when she spoke with Twindle in this manner. Her mother said she should say what she felt, but what if Twindle didn’t feel the same way? No, her mother was certain he did. Breena looked directly into Twindle’s eyes.

“Me.”

Her voice was so soft, Twindle didn’t think he had heard correctly.

“Breena, what did you say?”

“I said…me.”

Twindle crossed the space between them, took Breena in his arms and kissed her softly on the lips. Breena stood motionless for a heartbeat, and then put her arms around Twindle’s neck. Twindle gently broke the kiss, but continued to hold Breena in his arms.

Tears streamed down Breena’s cheeks.

“Mother said I should tell you my feelings, but they do not matter. You are a prince, and I am just a farm girl.”

Twindle laughed.

‘My sweet innocent Breena, do you not remember when I told you the kings of Shanala are chosen not by birth, but rather by their deeds? The same holds true for their queens.”

Breena wiped her eyes.

“Then, we could be together?”

“Well, mother would wish us to be married first, but yes.”

“And would you wish us to be married?”

“Breena, I will be crowned a short time after I return. I can not imagine any way to make that event more wonderful than to introduce you as my Queen. Yes, I would wish us to be man and wife.”

“Then kiss me again and show me how much.”

+++++

The wedding was rather subdued compared to others the people of Laney had witnessed, but they understood the reason. Breena saw no purpose in using gold to pay for a grand wedding when that same gold could build roads through the Wild Lands to enable people to settle there. Still, it was a wedding people would speak of for many years to come because of the reputation of the bride.

Word had spread quickly when the army returned to Laney about the girl who became a warrior at Mydar. Accounts varied, but in some, Breena had slain upwards of a hundred soldiers by herself while saving three women and several men from certain death.

The coronation followed immediately after the wedding, and after Twindle received the crown his father had worn, his mother, the Queen, personally removed her crown and placed in on Breena’s head. Together, the three of them walked out on the balcony of the palace to greet the people assembled in the square. They were met with cheers and shouts of “Long live King Twindle” and “Long Live Queen Breena.”

Nightfall found them walking the black and white geldings down the deer path to the cavern where they first met. Breena wanted to spend their first days as man and wife in the place they’d met. Torel had sent men ahead to supply the cavern with food and carpets for the floor, and those men now ringed the trees that hid the cavern and pond. Breena and Twindle pulled the saddles from the horses and let them loose to graze, then walked through the cavern entrance. A fire burned in Breena’s old fire pit, and enough wood was stacked against on wall to last for several days.

Once inside, Twindle took Breena in his arms and kissed her. Breena kissed him back, and then pulled gently away.

“My King, do you remember when we met here? I covered myself so you could not see me?”

“Yes.”

Breena lifted the dress over her head and carefully laid it on the carpet by the cavern wall. She quietly removed the rest of her clothing and then smiled at him.

“Now that I am your wife, you may see all of me.”

“It is a delight to see, but what may a king do for his queen in return?”

Breena smiled.

“After making a young farm girl his wife, and then making his wife his queen, he might consider making the girl into a woman.”

Their lovemaking was unhurried. Twindle wanted Breena to enjoy the experience even though he knew there would be some pain. As he kissed her and stroked her body, he felt her sex for signs of arousal.

Breena was a little afraid of the piercing she new would happen. Her mother had said it would be just one little twinge, but she was not certain. As Twindle caressed her body and kissed her lips, the fear melted away into a need such as she’d not dreamed before. Long before Twindle yielded to her attempts to guide him into her entrance, Breena was ready for the thrust that would make her a woman – Twindle’s woman.

When Twindle judged Breena to be ready, he did not make the deep thrust she expected. Instead he moved his manhood only a little and then no deeper than the barrier he felt inside. With one fingertip, he found the little swollen button at the top of Breena’s inner lips and gently rubbed. Breena was soon rocking her hips into his manhood in an attempt to force it deeper, but Twindle resisted the temptation. Only when Breena began to pant did he press forward his attack of her maidenhead, and then only slightly. He waited until Breena was at the moment of release. When she cried out and arched her body up against his belly, Twindle drove his manhood into Breena’s depths. She cried out again and raked his back with her nails as Twindle pumped his seed deep inside her body.

They lay together, joined by his shaft in her soft sheath until he grew soft. Twindle tried to ease himself from the cradle of Breena’s thighs, but she held him tight.

“Stay like this for a while. I like having you on top of me.”

“I might hurt you more than I already have.”

“You are not that heavy, and the pain was nothing compared to the other feeling.”

“You are happy?”

Breena stretched her arms over her head, sighed, and then put them around Twindle’s neck again.

“If I were happier, I do not know what I would do with myself.”

Twindle chuckled.

“Perhaps I have done too well. You have nothing to look forward to now.”

Breena kissed him and stroked his hip, then pulled away.

“I have many things to look forward to, but the first is when you will make me feel this way again.”