Nights in Rodan Ch. 02byfeistyphoenix©
She tried to curl her legs up toward her chin and found she was bound at the ankles too.
"Our prize has awakened." a sinister voice spoke out behind her.
Her eyes flew open. She tried to roll over and look. The blood vessels in her head pounded, she had a massive headache. Her head swam and she blinked trying to clear her vision.
A blonde man with fierce angular features knelt beside her. His hair was tied at the back into a short ponytail.
"Don't struggle, pet." He brushed some loose hair out of her face.
She froze at his touch. There was coldness about him; this was definitely not the same man who'd cornered her in the street. She looked past him at her surroundings. It was dark and she couldn't see far.
He reached out for her again, touching her cheek and tracing his long fingers down her jawline. She jerked her head away.
"Now now, don't be rude." He crooned, his dark eyes flashed.
Her lips were cracked and dry; she licked them and tasted dried blood. Someone had definitely hit her over the head, it was killing her. In the dancing firelight behind the man she could see several other men kneeling, sitting, and talking as if this was normal.
This was NOT normal.
Her voice cracked, "Who are you?"
"That's not important." He traced his fingers down the exposed flesh of her forearm. She tried to jerk away but he grabbed her, hard.
"Do not pull away from me again," He growled and clenched his jaw.
He pulled her up by her arm and held her tightly to his side. She could barely stand. Her feet were freezing, they'd taken her boots. Probably so she didn't run, she thought miserably.
There was a small flash as he produced a dagger.
She sucked in air as he knelt before her. She looked down at the ground, afraid of what he would do to her. His hand caressed her calf down to her ankle. His touch made her feel sick. He stood up again.
"Walk." He pointed her towards the fire.
He'd cut her bonds. She sighed, relief washing over her for the moment. When she was within a few feet of the warm fire he shoved her down hard, she landed on her tailbone and yelped. The men laughed.
Her anger burned in her chest; how dare they!
She kept her head down and clenched her jaw. The pounding in her head almost made her pass out again. The pain radiating in her lower back waned. They mostly ignored her presence.
"Drink" the blonde man held a metal cup to her lips.
The water washed over her tongue and lips. It felt so cool, so refreshing. She gulped the whole thing down. He refilled it and offered again, she drank half this time.
He studied her; she could feel his burning stare on her body. She shifted her weight and kept her head down. Why should she be ashamed to face him, he was the criminal.
She looked up and met his gaze head on. He continued staring, the firelight reflected in his dark eyes. She gave him her most fearsome glare, he smiled.
"How long was I out?" her voice was low but the men stopped talking and all looked at her.
Blondie sipped his drink, "This is the second night you've been with us."
She panicked but tried not to let it show. What had they done to her while she had been out?
He leaned in close. His breath smelled of alcohol.
"Don't worry, I like my women awake." His face split into a wicked grin. The men laughed.
She felt like crying but refused to show him any weakness. She lowered her head and they ignored her again. They offered her no food, and no more water.
It seemed like forever but eventually they all passed out on their bed rolls, all except blondie. He sat there, just staring at her, willing her to break. When she didn't he got bored. He unrolled his bed near the fire and then knelt in front of her. He tipped her chin up to his face. She felt the desire rolling off of him, it made her sick. He covered her mouth with his own, forcefully. She resisted him but she was hurting, bound, and exhausted. He pulled away.
"You're a sweet little pet, you know?" He cut the bonds off her hands.
"If you fight me, I will kill you." He said it so calmly, so level. She felt the fear rising up inside her.
He pulled her over to his bedroll, dagger in hand. She had no choice.
The tears welled up in her eyes. He lay down and pressed himself against her back, his arm was across her chest and his hand held the dagger close to her throat. The message was clear: she was his possession now.
Her body screamed at her but she couldn't move. She knew he'd slit her throat before she even got up. She was trapped.
"If you're good, I might let you live." He threatened softly into her ear.
The sound of his voice made her skin crawl. She thought he was going to do something to her but he must have been too drunk because he fell asleep quickly. One of the other men sat on the edge of the firelight watching her. There was no chance she could get away now, she forced her eyes closed but didn't relax. She was awake for most of the night, petrified of what he would do with her when he was sober. She thought of as many escape strategies as she could and vowed to get away in the morning.
She finally slept out of sheer exhaustion but was startled awake at dawn, as was her hung over captor. He yelled orders to his men, most of them were still sleeping. Men on horseback charged into their camp, a battle cry on their lips. With one expert blow the first man fell to the ground twitching and bleeding from a fatal wound. Blondie ran for his sword but didn't make it very far, a warhorse blocked his path, a large dark haired man astride, his crimson mantle whipped out behind him as his heavy sword swung down in a deadly arc. She heard the crack of pistols firing behind her.
This time, her body listened. She frantically looked around and spied the dagger her captor had dropped. She grabbed it and saw her boots and traveling bag in a pile on the other side of the fire. The men were too occupied fighting each other to notice her slipping away. She grabbed her boots and cloak before taking cover behind a large tree. She pulled them on frantically and tucked the dagger inside one, hoping she had enough time to get away.
She left the shouting and clanging behind and slipped through the forest as fast as she could. She stopped only once to drink from a spring and out of sheer will forced herself to keep running. It seemed like she ran for hours. In her desperation and exhaustion she tripped and tumbled down a hill. She hit her head, elbow, and back against a tree making her cry out. The last thing she heard was distant barking; they were hunting her.
Her body had nothing left. The darkness overtook her again.
Rayn thanked his stars they'd come upon the dog, tied to a tree near a stream. There was evidence of a struggle and drag marks. They found the raiders in the pre dawn hours and dispatched them quickly. The girl was nowhere to be seen, even though Rayn was sure they'd taken her. The dog was well trained and after sniffing a pile of dirty clothes and a saddle he'd taken off into the forest, crashing through the undergrowth and barking like mad. They rode hard after him, hoping he caught her scent.
They found her at the bottom of a ravine, the dog licked her face and whined pitifully but she didn't stir.
Rayn slid down the side of the ravine easily, and checked her pulse. She'd landed badly against the tree, her pulse was faint and she most certainly had a nasty head wound. Her hair was tangled in the leaves and twigs and halfway covered her face.
He looked back up at his men.
"Is she alive?" Kieran called to him.
"Barely, we have to get her out of here. She needs to be healed." He lifted her carefully and held her close to him as he climbed back towards his men. Her scent overtook him, fresh and sweet. He had to hold back the urge to brush the loose hair out of her face.
In all his life Kieran had never seen Rayn so gentle with a woman unless he wanted something from her. He couldn't understand it. He'd never even told them why he dragged them out here looking for her in the first place. King's orders he'd said. Kieran had to admit, cutting down the small group of raiders had been a little adventure although taking lives was never easy or particularly pleasurable.
Rayn grunted as he set the girl down.
"We'll make camp here tonight, ", he turned to Riley, "can you heal this?"
"Yes, most of it anyway," Riley assured him.
Riley was not as impressive of a warrior as the other men, what he lacked in brawn he made up for in determination and tactical skill. He could heal wounds using incantations but was not as proficient as a healer; it would have to do for now.
He laid his hands on her and chanted the familiar incantation. Before their eyes her bruises faded from purple and black to green and yellow, the cut on her neck started to heal, and the color came back to her face.
Riley looked up at Rayn, "She should come around in a couple of hours."
"Good, bind her hands."
"What?" Kieran was almost in a rage.
"I said bind her hands, she cannot be allowed to escape again."
"You're going to bind a woman, after her life was threatened by a bunch of heartless curs?" He was raging now.
"She's a threat to the crown, if you're unwilling I can do it myself." Rayn leveled his princely gaze on his friend. He did not tolerate insubordination in the field.
"Her?" he looked down at the bruised woman, she was rather young, and back at Rayn.
"I'll explain later. It's bad enough we're three days off course."
They set camp as the sun started setting. They'd made it as far as they could for the day. The dog hovered over the girl, checking her every few minutes before lying against her side and groaning.
Rayn almost smiled. The grey beast was very loyal. He tossed a few pieces of meat in the direction of the dog, who snapped them up instantly.
As Kieran and Riley started the fire, Rayn picked the girl up to move her closer to the warmth. The forest was cooling off.
That damn scent of hers was intoxicating. It stirred something deep inside him. He tried to shake it off and would have succeeded had she not opened her eyes as he laid her down. Stormy grey blue orbs stared at him, she blinked several times and then after what seemed like an eternity she punched him right in the jaw with her bound fists.
He grabbed at her but she twisted out of his grip, backed away carefully, and pulled a dagger from her boot. He watched in amazement as she turned the sharpened edge toward her own stomach.
"I don't want to hurt you, but I will restrain you if I have to." He growled at her.
She seemed to grow before his eyes, she stood up straight and for the first time he realized how tall and lithe she was. She deftly used the dagger to cut her own bonds before pointing it at him.
"You will not touch me!" she exuded rage.
"I don't have to touch you to restrain you, ", he threatened, his jaw throbbed where she'd hit him. Lucky strike, he told himself.
She turned to run but he was faster; he recited the incantation and she simply sat down, folded her legs under her neatly, and dropped the dagger. But it didn't stop her from screaming at him.
"You can't do this to me, I haven't done anything wrong!" she twisted and writhed but did not stand up, the spell held her in place.
His men watched the entire exchange without moving to help either of them. Kieran was amused. This one was going to give Prince Rayn a hard time that was certain.
She swore they were smiling at her futile attempts to move. As she struggled, her hair tumbled over her shoulders. She looked up at the man before her, his dark eyes were glinting; his cloak fell around his broad shoulders, framing him. His black over shirt was tucked into black pants and a brown leather belt hung around his slim hips. His sword was fastened to his side, at the ready. His boots were covered with a thin layer of dirt.
He knelt in front of her, "Stop struggling, you'll hurt yourself."
She glared at him. "If you were so concerned about hurting me why did you bind me?"
"If you'll notice, "he haughtily pointed out, "your wounds are healed. Why would we go to the trouble of doing that if we wished to hurt you?" He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Arrogant son of a-"
He covered her mouth with his hand.
"King...I am the son of a king. And you'd do well to remember that." he snapped at her.
It dawned on her, this was THE Prince Rayn. He didn't look like she expected him to. He was rough like a warrior, not polished as she imagined a prince should be.
Her temper cooled, but only slightly. She thought about biting his hand, but he removed it.
Oh GODS this man was frustrating. She wakes up and he's almost on top of her panting over her and now he claims he doesn't want to hurt her. Leni wasn't buying any of it. Now the brute had used magic to make her sit there inches away from him.
She saw Wren lounging on a bedroll by an athletic man with short blonde hair.
"Wren! Come here!"
The large hound's head popped up from where he had been resting, he jogged to her, sat down at her side, and gazed at Rayn quizzically. The dog was taller than she was, Rayn found it comical.
As he lowered his hand from her mouth, he felt it tingle. He clenched his fist. What was this woman doing to him? It had to be magic. No one had ever had this effect on him.
She was staring at him now, sizing him up. He could feel it. He didn't wish her to fear him, actually the thought of her shrinking away from his touch made his stomach turn.
He growled low in his chest and turned away from her.
"Let me go!" she screamed at him again, the rage rolled off of her like a thousand arrows glancing off his back.
He stopped, considered ignoring her, and decided it wouldn't do him any good; he'd never be able to ignore her. He sighed.
"I will let you go, but only if you behave yourself." He jabbed his finger at her to make his point clear.
"What does behaving myself mean?" she questioned him.
He allowed himself to grin. She was feisty, and sounded like a real negotiator.
"It means no more escape attempts, no more dagger pointing, no more getting yourself into trouble, and doing what you're told when you're told to do it."
"What's in it for me?" she was sarcastic now, a little cocky.
He leaned in close to her face, inhaling her scent.
Why did he do that?!
"I won't touch you unless you ask me to." He regretted it almost as soon as he said it. He'd give almost anything for her to kiss him right now, and he didn't know why. She was a mess and difficult as hell. Her stare was unwavering.
"And?" she raised her eyebrows at him, clearly expectant of something else.
"And what?" he snipped.
"You'll tell me why the hell you're hunting me down like a wild animal."
"Fine." Now he was ticked.
"Now let me go." She glared straight through him, her blue grey eyes flashing angrily.
With a wave of his hand her body was no longer restrained. He picked up the dagger and offered her his hand.
She ignored him, got up on her own, and took a seat closer to the fire. It was getting dark now. As she walked past he noted her taut muscular legs and round plentiful butt barely contained in her tight pants. Her hair fell to the small of her back, tangled waves of red. The boots made her legs look even longer; he cursed his love of women. If she hadn't been his mission he would have considered her a worthy conquest.
She drew her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around them. She watched the fire and considered her predicament. He must have been the same man who roughed her up in the city, the damn Prince. She just wanted to go home, she missed Lukas terribly.
She cast a sideways glance at him as he sat down a few feet away. She didn't feel like talking right now. It infuriated her that he'd rescued her before she had a chance to escape on her own, evading the raiders and his hunting party.
He saw her looking at him from the corner of his peripheral vision. Her full lips pouted. She was probably still in pain but too damn stubborn to complain. Well good for her, he thought.
The evening passed without incident, they ate dinner as a group and she fell asleep by the fire on her own bedroll.
She woke up in the dead of night and needed to relieve herself. Everyone else was asleep but Rayn was missing, probably doing the same thing she needed to. She didn't dare venture too far in the dark woods alone; her fear of the raiders was still very strong. She crept a little ways from camp and took care of herself. She was almost back to the clearing when a twig crunched behind her.
"Going somewhere?" Rayn asked, he grabbed her arm roughly.
She gasped; if she hadn't just relieved herself she'd be doing it right now out of surprise and fear.
"Let go," she growled.
"Not a chance, you were trying to get away."
"I was not!" she hissed at him in the dark.
"Why were you sneaking around then?" He pulled her closer to him.
"You're so arrogant. I had to relieve myself!" her whisper was loud now. She'd wake the men if she got any louder.
His muscular frame was inches from hers. She inhaled his manly scent; spicy and dark with a hint of the woods they were in. Her body wanted to lean into him, despite him acting like a jerk.
UGH. Snap out of it!
"You're coming back with me."
"I know." Venom dripped from her words.
He held her arm more gently now, guiding her through the undergrowth back to camp.
"So tell me, why are you coming after me?"
"I think you know, why." He hadn't expected her to want to talk about this now.
"I didn't, until a few nights ago."
He didn't have anything else to say to her, and they were back at camp. He let her arm go and she lay down and curled up facing away from him. He moved his bedroll a little closer to her; he didn't want her getting any ideas about leaving again. Wren lay down at her side and put his head over her hip, staring at Rayn forlornly. She stroked the large hound's head. For a second he wished she was running her hands through his hair like that, he pushed the thought away.
He woke before anyone else, and surprisingly was inches away from her. He realized in that moment, he didn't even know her name. He instinctively reached for her but stopped himself. Her face was beautiful in the pre dawn light, even with the dirt smudged on it. Her full lips looked down right kissable. Why was she so irresistible to him? He needed to put some space between them.
He shook Kieran awake.
Rayn was obviously absent when she awoke the next morning. Another man was stoking the fire, the man with the short blonde hair.
"What's your name?" she inquired.
He looked up, smiled slowly, "Kieran, miss. Yours?"
"Eleanor, where's the Prince?"
"He'll be back soon." Kieran went back to stoking the fire but kept talking, "I'm glad we found you, there's no telling what those raiders would have done to you."
She was stunned by his admission.
"Rayn probably wouldn't want me to tell you that but I'm sorry you had to go through that. I don't know why he was so damn determined to find you but I'm very happy we did."
Riley joined them by the fire and introduced himself to her. He was short compared to the other men and of smaller stature. He barely had any brown hair on his head, it was shaven so closely and wide blue eyes gave his face a boyish quality. She wondered if he was older than he looked.
"Thank you both, for risking your lives for me." She was humbled, and incredibly grateful to them all, even if their leader was a total prick.