Claiming an Ally Ch. 04bytitania123©
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Emera's eyes slowly opened, focusing on a pillow near her face. On her stomach, her hair was strewn about. She lifted up onto her elbows, wincing at the pain throughout her body. Her face was still sore from Jenner's fists, and she felt a dull ache between her thighs. All of her muscles were sore from exhaustive use, and she was incredibly thirsty and hungry. She was also naked, she noted. The front of her body was still red with a few bruises over some of her bony prominences.
The sun still sat below the horizon, gaining energy before it rose in the morning sky. The cool air drifted easily in the windows, sending a chill through her. She grabbed a sheet and tied it around her, partly to warm herself and partly to hide her injuries. It then occurred to her that she was no longer bound and was free to move about. She wondered just how free she was.
Emera made for the door, took a deep breath and tugged at the handle. It was bolted; she was locked inside. She huffed and looked around the dimly lit room. The fire that had raged in the night was nothing more than smoldering embers.
She put a couple of logs on the fire, nursing it back to life. While she slept, someone had brought up a plate of food and a pitcher of wine and sat them on the small table. Her tattered dress that had been shredded from her body was gone. She noticed the leather bottle with the water Edrich had left. She opened it and drank, grateful to relieve her parched throat. When her thirst was quenched, she began picking at her food. Though she should have been starved, as she mulled over the night's events, sickening apprehension crept up on her turning her stomach to knots. Despite the discomfort, she ate knowing she would need her strength.
She sat on the edge of the fire pit, warming herself. Slowly, she threaded through the words and deeds of the night. She tried to set aside emotion to allay the overwhelming anxiety that threatened to overtake her.
She was still a captive, for what purposes remained unknown, however. He hadn't bothered to question her further. He only seemed interested in dominating her desire while she fulfilled his. Without bidding, the passion from the night before swept over her, and she suddenly felt warm at the thought of his touch on her lips and neck and breasts and...she stood and began pacing.
She had succumbed to his touch just like he had taunted. Not only had she enjoyed it, she'd begged! She would have let him take her soul away if he'd asked. She'd been a mindless idiot. She had so easily given in to her body's hunger. Even now, the pull of her desire for him was overpowering. Despite any logical argument against him she could devise, she knew her longing for him would forever pulse through her veins.
And that sickened her. He was her enemy now. He was at this very minute poising his army to decimate everything in Adalynd in his bid to conquer. Her mind quickly flew through her confrontation with him in his tent. He had told the general to prepare to defend against an attack and to also prepare the troops to begin the siege. Her heart began thumping wildly at that. He had also called for Glenna's capture. The whole of her country is on the brink of a devastating attack, and she let herself be seduced by the leader. She clenched her fists in grave determination, squeezing so hard they shook.
If she let him rule her, she wasn't fit to be queen. She shut her eyes at the thought of her consequences. It seemed that her presence in Lidio was the cause for the upcoming battle. It was she who had catapulted the entire affair out of order and into chaos. She steeled herself against the onslaught of guilt. I will defend my people. I will be as strong as any man and prove I am fit to rule, she thought.
She began pacing again as she planned. She had to warn her father, save Glenna, prepare for battle, something! She felt so entirely impotent at the top of the ridiculous tower. As she saw it, there were several ways out of her present predicament. Firstly, Edrich would kill her immediately, either by his sword or some barbarous torture. Despite the hatred she had seen in his eyes, she didn't think that was likely considering he had provided sustenance for her after he had used her. That reasoning brought her to her second option. He would keep her as a slave, for sexual deeds or otherwise. This was the most likely solution since he kept her alive and secluded. If he had meant to interrogate her further, she thought he would have chained her back up and withheld rations. However, she had the freedom to move about in the room at least, with appetizing food and wine. The question then became, how long would he keep her?
Would he plan to use her a few more times and then kill her or throw her to his men or simply make a common slave out of her, or would he keep her indefinitely? She allowed her mind to wonder down both possibilities before her thoughts drifted to the reasoning behind each. When she felt somewhat warmed by the possibility he would want her forever, she shook her head and scolded herself. This line of thinking is irrelevant. If he plans on doing anything with me any longer than today, I have a chance to make it home. I don't care what his plans would be and why he would make them, she lied to herself.
If he wasn't going to outright kill her, she needed a plan of escape. However, before escape, she wondered if an alternative could be reached. Could she negotiate with him somehow? Would finally telling him she was the princess and her entire scheme produce any fruit? Not likely. The dolt wouldn't want to trust me enough to believe it, she bemoaned. Plus, at this point, she didn't want him as an ally anymore. Granted, not all men could be as kind and gentle as her father, but at least they could be honorable. She felt a little dejected at the thought that war was now inevitable, despite all her planning and maneuvering to avoid it.
She felt used, both physically and mentally. Her thoughts drifted over what Jenner had said. The king had laughed at her? Even though she was a woman, Emera knew her skills with the bow rivaled any man's. The soldiers in the tent, she remembered, had stared at her with awe. The young one said they were all impressed by what the king had told them; he had extended his protection over her since she had saved his life. She felt the dissonance in what she witnessed and what the snake Jenner had claimed. Slowly, her initial distrust of the man reemerged, warning her that he was a liar and manipulator.
Emera was pulled from her thoughts when a screeching click indicated someone was unlocking the door. She stood and tied the sheet about her more tightly. The sickening butterflies returned to flutter in her stomach as she waited to see Edrich's intimidating form. Relief washed over when a very thin, old lady carrying a tray walked through the door.
Emera noted the wary look the lady gave her as she nodded and approached the table. She placed the meal down while picking up the dirty plate. As she turned to leave, Emera reached out for her, calling, "Please, what is your name?" The woman only turned to look in a fearful manner. "My name is Emera. Please, won't you tell me who I am to thank for this food?" she tried to smile pleasantly to ease the woman's tense countenance.
The older lady did straighten a little more confidently at that. "I am Alma, miss. My husband is the cook."
"You are married to Leonard?" Emera asked amiably, brightening at the mention of the sweet old man.
Alma mirrored her obviously pleased face. "Yes, you know my Leonard?"
"Yes, I helped him in the king's tent when I was traveling. He was very kind to me because I actually do not think I helped at all. I'm not a very good cook, you see." She smiled sweetly, blushing at the admittance, looking sheepishly at the frail old lady.
"Ah, I see." But her face suddenly dropped as she realized the young girl was obviously a prisoner. And by the look of her dress, or lack thereof, undoubtedly the king had availed himself of her beautiful charms. She noticed her face looked ill-used and wondered at the state of her. She had never known her king to behave in such a dishonorable manner before. She knew she should leave and curtly bowed.
"Please, I know it may be asking a lot, but, I am rather cold, you see, and my own gown was..." Emera's eyes blurred with tears, "taken. It was so dirty and torn. I was hoping I might have a dress, maybe a robe as well? Please, I am so cold." She gave a small shiver to punctuate her need.
Alma looked concerned, both for the girl's plight and also the danger at angering the king if she aided his prisoner against his wishes. However, the kind lady could not refuse such a pitiable sight as the beautiful, shivering girl. She gave a slight, reluctant nod. "I will see what I can do, miss." She finally turned and left.
As Emera began to eat her meal, she sighed. Well, that is one less thing I will need to worry about, should I need to escape. She decided she would keep the clothes hidden until it was time for her to leave. That brought her to her next hurdle. Exactly how was she to escape from a locked tower?
She began to thoroughly examine the room, searching for any weakness or clue. Alas, no stone was movable, the solid wood door only locked from the other side, and the outside walls were not scalable. Obviously, the only way out would be when someone opened the door. Thus far, only two people had entered the room. If she planned for it, she might be able to subdue him and make good her escape. She'd rather not implicate the innocent woman during her flight, so she would leave her be if at all possible.
Another possibility occurred to her. He may not keep her in this room forever, but send her to sleep in the servants quarter, giving her more freedom. Of course, what would precipitate a change of rooms? Trust, she mused. He would have to trust that she would stay, not leave, not betray him. She could pretend to reluctantly want him, demonstrate a need for him that would keep her bound to him. She winced at the thought of that. The problem lied in the fact that she wouldn't be pretending. She didn't trust herself to allow him to touch her again; she would be completely under his control. It was better, for her own resolve, to openly deny him and never again submit to any of his wishes, no matter the pain in the refusal. Back to designing a more straightforward escape plan.
The ray of light that poured in with the bright morning moved across the floor as the sun rose high in the sky. Emera yawned loudly. Acknowledging she was still exhausted from the night before, she went to sit on the bed. She wasn't so comfortable with her situation as to lay down fully vulnerable so she propped herself up against the headboard. Despite the slightly disagreeable position, she was soon asleep.
Emera woke with a start. Alma's hand was on her shoulder, her kindly face peering in at her. "So sorry to startle you, dear, but I've brought you dinner." She then presented the folded package to her. "And also a dress and clean underthings. I had to guess your size, so I hope it fits adequately."
Emera was touched by her kindness and thoughtfulness. "Thank you," she said with some relief. "It will be nice to be completely warm again. Not to mention female modesty," she said with a growing blush.
"Yes, well, dress and eat. I brought you plenty of food since you looked so thin, dear." She smiled and patted her on the shoulder then left. Emera quickly snatched up the newly given wardrobe and looked through it. All the clothing items were clean and tidy, if not new, and there was even an over coat and perfectly sized shoes. Grabbing the bundle, she looked around for a secure hiding space. Given the bareness of the room, she decided upon stashing it under the bed.
Once she had finished off her food, she walked to the window overlooking the courtyard and watched the activity of the day. There were a few soldiers, but the majority of the people seemed to be servants and peasants. She was taking note of exits and guards when the door opened.
Edrich hungrily eyed the picturesque beauty standing at the window, a sheet tied provocatively around her chest, hanging down in sensuous folds, smoothing over curves that were seared in his memory. He watched her form stiffen slightly, still looking out the window, but very aware of his presence.
Edrich had awoken during the middle of the night, her warm form laying over him. Before he opened his eyes, he gently squeezed her sleeping body and nuzzled his face into her hair. Contentment washed over him as he thought about breakfast in bed with her. Then his eyes flashed open and reality crashed down like a bucket spilling ice cold water. He was in bed cuddling his prisoner as though she were a treasured lover, even a beloved wife. He stiffened, suddenly extremely uncomfortable. Edrich gently slid out from under her, eager to escape the uneasy feeling.
He found his way to his room and stood before the fire. He didn't know what to think about what had transpired between them. He only knew he was damned. He had set out to simply break her by using her own passion against her. He wasn't ashamed to admit it served the second purpose of satisfying his own lust, but there was the rub. Despite his powerful attraction to Em, he thought, or rather hoped, he would tire of her. And yet, the moment he tasted her, he knew none other could compare. And then she'd begged. She said the most erotic things in such an innocent, lust filled voice.
Innocent. She had been a virgin. Something he didn't expect, despite all the signs he had witnessed in the short time he knew her. Jenner's man insinuated she was well versed in the art of seduction. He knew, even though she responded passionately, she had been innocent.
When he brought her to her second orgasm, his only thought was that she belonged to him. Forever. One part of him easily accepted the new acquisition into his life. He should be happy that he had found a body he desired with his whole being, a person he enjoyed entirely. But that wary side nagged him; the happiness he wanted to feel was a problem. Don't you see, wanting her so entirely weakens you. It makes you bound to her, dominated by her. You aren't in control if you want her so completely, so thoroughly that you'll never be satisfied, he argued. With a sigh he crept into bed, knowing he didn't have the mental or physical strength to confront the issue further at the moment.
He awoke that morning with an instinctual expectation. With a dream-laden smile, he reached out for his enchanting bed companion, only to feel cold sheets. He opened his eyes unhappily, only to remember his bed partner remained locked in the old turret he had run from during the night. The wariness at feeling so needful of Em returned as well. He expelled an angry huff and flung back the covers. He was tempted to return to her room and use her bewitching mouth to relieve his morning erection, but decided against it. He might still crave her scent and touch as he did no other, but he also felt that danger lied in his surrender to her pull. He wanted to clear his thoughts and come to an agreement with himself before he approached her again.
As a result, the battle plans he should have been contemplating all morning went undecided as he sat at his desk and mindlessly sketched a perfect mouth with his quill on the edge of one of the maps. Despite the danger that lay in his capitulation to his obsession, he knew life offered no other options. He couldn't live without Em. He couldn't give her up, either to leave him or die at his hand. He wanted to possess her eternally.
His anger at her vocation had faded somewhere in his sleep and he no longer cared where she was from. Granted, she wouldn't be going back and he would make the daft old king pay for his deceitful dealings. But he no longer saw why Em needed to remain in the equation of the feuding countries. After all, she was just a citizen doing the bidding of her king.
Regardless of the accusation that she meant to kill him eventually, he was confident in his assessment of her nature; she wasn't an assassin, and she wouldn't have harmed him. He remembered her genuine distress when she'd slain the two men in the forest. She had never killed before and it wasn't likely that she would enjoy doing so again.
Perhaps, given a few more encounters with him, she would hand over her loyalty to him. If she craved him to any comparable depth he did her, he knew she couldn't resist forming an attachment for long. He had already proven to himself she desired him. Hell, she wanted him enough that despite the fear of death or enslavement she still responded to his caresses, came under his touch.
At the remembrance of their night together he felt his lust stir once more. He quickly ate his midday meal and freshened up. His mind was decided, and he felt almost giddy as he ascended the stairs to her room. In the back of his mind drifted thoughts of when her room would be next to his, making access to her an easy thing whenever his passion swelled. He smiled at the thought of how frequent that would be.
Leaning against the door, arms folded, he watched and waited. He was patient, unnerving his prey with his silent study. At last, she straightened and turned from the window, looking at him with quiet resolve. He moved away from the door and poured wine into the goblet. Neither spoke as he downed the warm contents, coating his tongue in the heady flavor.
As he stood watching her, she could feel the desire radiating off him in powerful waves. His obvious lust-driven purpose in spite of her demeaned and defenseless state angered the last of the remaining dignity in her. When hell freezes over, she fumed.
Edrich sat in the chair, propping his feet on the end of the bed, hands clasped behind his head. Emera rolled her eyes in annoyance and turned back towards the window. "And how do you fare today?" he asked easily.
"Still a prisoner, king, so not as well as other days," she quipped tersely.
He squinted his eyes at that. "Yes, well, I suppose your position here is dependent on your will."
She turned to him, angry and skeptical. "You are mistaken there. If it were up to my will, I would never have been brought here. I would not be a prisoner, and you would never have touched me. But as it is, all this is because of your will," she said waving angrily at her body and stone surroundings.
He grunted in disagreement. "As I recall, it was you who first touched me. And it was your will of deceit that brought you here." He watched her huff and turn away again. It wasn't going as well as he had hoped, but given their history, he had to allow for some conflict. It was best to get it out of the way now and leave nothing but their pleasure for the future.
She sighed. "And what can my will decide now?"
"There are several ways to proceed. Which one you take is your choice. But do not deceive yourself. No matter your choice, I will have what I want."
She stiffened and turned to him, questioning him warily. "And what is it you want?"
His half-cocked smile turned his face rakishly handsome. "Just you."