Portal to Arandor Ch. 13bymistress_diana©
Drahden sat in his usual place in the Bell and Penny. Noise and chaos swirled around him but he was an island of calm. A half empty bottle of wine sat before him but he wasn't in much of a mood to drink. Tomorrow he would be riding out to the forest and wanted to get that journey done and over with.
It had been weeks since he last talked to Rebecca. He lost count actually, but he thought it might be weeks. Whenever he wasn't busy with business, he made it a point to watch her from the shadows. She could see that she worked tirelessly at the bookseller's. And in the evenings she trudged back to her rooms where she did not leave again. His eyes in the tavern said she did not venture downstairs often. However, the last report he got said she entertained a young ranger but he did not go up to her rooms.
Drahden felt the jealousy course through his veins when he heard that, but he had to fight it down. It would do no good to get upset about it. His oath prevented anything from happening. But still...
Every time he saw her, his heart skipped a beat. He recalled the times on the road when they were riding together, talking and sharing moments from their old life. It made him homesick a bit too, but he had to push that aside. Because she was from the old world of theirs, she was more interesting and headstrong than the women in Arandor. Whores were whores and the rest of the women were looking for a husband or already married. Oh, there were a few married women he had bedded, but in the end they were all the same. Rebecca was different and his feelings would not go away.
Drahden was roused from his thoughts and looked up at the voice. "Samuel, please sit down."
The bookseller sat down opposite Drahden and helped himself to the wine.
"How is business?" Drahden asked.
"It is very well, my lord. I must say that I owe it to Rebecca. She is very smart and has been extremely resourceful."
Drahden nodded. He knew she would. Once she told him she worked at a publisher's, it was easy to figure out what she could do in this world.
"And how is she?"
"She is well. Although of late..." Samuel paused.
Drahden narrowed his gaze at Samuel. "What?"
"She has been very down. At first I thought I was working her too hard, but her spirits seem down. I find her gazing at nothing in particular."
"Have you talked to her?" Drahden asked.
"Nay, I am not experienced in those matters my lord. I have been widowed these ten years and women vex me." Samuel gave an apologetic smile.
Drahden sighed and leaned back in his chair and stretched his legs out. He knew what the matter was, she was homesick. It usually happened after the novelty wore off and the harsh reality of life in this realm was realized. He would be leaving the next day but was glad the snows prevented her from striking out on her own. As much as he was loathe to admit it, maybe this ranger would keep her here.
"Has she mentioned a ranger?" Drahden asked.
"Nay, my lord. But she did say she has been practicing at archery." Samuel shook his head. "An odd pastime for a woman."
You don't know this woman, Drahden said to himself.
"Very well, Samuel. Anything else I should know?"
"There is one last thing, my lord. She has asked about Maludara again."
Rothan told them to ride east then south to the village of Avon. It was almost a week's journey for Drahden but it passed in a blur of the road, wine and gambling. He was in a mood.
When at last he found the secluded manor house in the forest, he was ready to unwind but Rothan had other plans for Drahden and his fellow Protectors. The Protectors, all men, assembled in the great hall of the manor. Rothan arranged a feast for them and they all dug in. There was more than enough wine to go around, but when the meal was done, Rothan dismissed the male servants (he didn't want distractions) and called for silence.
Drahden looked around at the other eleven Protectors. All of them sworn to protect the realm from invaders from the other world. All of them dressed in black to symbolize their loyalty only to one person – the Lord Protector himself – Rothan. And it was he who began to speak.
"Protectors of the Realm," he began. "It has been some time since we have last been together. We have business to discuss and we need to talk about the future."
There were murmurs among the men. It had been gossiped that Rothan wanted to step down as Lord Protector.
"By my last count we had 52 Otherworlders amongst our midst. That was of last spring. Let us update the count now." He looked around the table and waited for someone to speak. Drahden didn't want to be first.
"I've had two come over, my lord," said the man to Drahden's left.
"Tell us, Aros," commanded Rothan. Aros was from England and been here over five years.
"The first one was last summer. I found him shortly after in a tavern drinking tankard after tankard of ale and telling tales of Lord of the Rings." There were snickers from the other men. Aros smiled. "Yes, I know. Anyways, I hauled him out of there and when he sobered up, we had a long talk. Now he runs a tavern himself in the southlands and it's quite good I might add."
"Any danger?" Rothan asked. By danger, he meant did they pose a danger to return home.
"Nay, my lord. The man seems quite content with his tavern. In his old life he was an accountant and not too happy about it."
Rothan nodded. "And the other?"
Aros turned serious. "Not so well, my lord. It was a young lad, barely sixteen. He had become separated from his group while hiking in the Alps and crossed over. The elves took him in as he was severely frostbitten. By the time I got to him, he was near death. He couldn't be saved."
"That is unfortunate. Young men are always the easiest to keep in the realm and train to be Protectors as they quickly forget their old life." Rothan took a long swallow of wine. "Who else?"
"I've lost one, my lord," said a man at the other end of the table.
"Tell us, Rodl."
"It was most distressing, my lord. A woman who has been here some three years. She had been settled in an out of the way village in the east. I had arranged her settlement myself and she was able to meet a man and get married." Rodl looked down at his lap. "She died in childbirth, my lord."
That was always a risk in this realm, Drahden thought. Without proper healthcare, giving birth was not as easy as it was in the old world. Drahden watched Rothan frown and drink some more wine.
"I am sorry, Rodl," he said at last.
"So now we are down to 51." Rothan turned his gaze to Drahden. "Lord Drahden, I believe you can make it 52 again, yes?"
Drahden cleared his throat. "Aye, my lord. You know about her already."
"Tell your brothers."
"Very well. A woman has crossed over from the States." There were murmurs again as hardly anyone had crossed over from the States in a very long time. "She was hiking in the Rocky Mountains and lost her way in a snowstorm. She was rescued by the local border patrol and brought to Fairfax."
Some groans went around the room as Lord Giles was known to many of them.
"She was questioned about the objects she carried and accused of magic and was on her way to the king for sentencing when I intercepted. I was able to get her away safely to Wrexridge."
"And tell me Drahden," Rothan said through narrowing eyes. "Is she a danger?"
Drahden had been dreading this. "She has talked about going home. She has asked me to help her." He heard some gasps in the room. "I stalled her by getting her to Wrexridge and finding her a job. I also told her the standard story about the portal not working in reverse. It has been difficult to get her settled."
"She remembers where her portal was?" someone asked.
"Aye, but it is far too dangerous to trek there in the winter. She seemed to understand this but I know she will be impatient when the snows melt."
"This is serious, Drahden," said Rothan. "You know what you will have to do."
Drahden bowed his head slightly. "I do and I've done it before, my lord."
Rothan let it go.
"Well then, we remain at 52." He took a deep breath. "Now to our next matter. As some of you have guessed, I wish to step down as Lord Protector in the near future." Some did not know this based on the gasps of surprise in the room. "I have been doing this many years and I wish to retire and let someone with more energy take over." He gave a half smile. "My days in the saddle only make me sore and cranky the next day."
There were laughs and he waited for them to quiet down.
"I am going to speak to some of you ere this time of ours is over. I will make my decision come spring. This meeting is now adjourned. I invite all of you to partake in the luxuries of the manor house. We will reconvene at breakfast to discuss more business."
Drahden slipped quietly into his room and poured a glass of brandy. He waited for the knock on the door that he knew would come. After a time it did.
"Enter," he said as he stood up.
Rothan entered the room and shut the door quietly behind him.
"My lord," Drahden said and offered Rothan a seat. The two of them settled by the fire and sipped the fine brandy.
"I'll be brief, Drahden. I'm sure you know why I am here. You have the potential to be Lord Protector."
Drahden knew he did, but Rothan said 'potential'. There was obviously something more.
"Thank you my lord," he said humbly and waited.
Rothan took a long swallow of brandy. "As I said, you have the potential." He looked at Drahden with ice blue eyes. "But you have some bad habits and I would have you overcome those if you want to be Lord Protector. I trust you know what I am referring to."
Drahden nodded. His lifestyle was a little excessive at times.
"But you are intelligent, your network is unshakeable and you are deadly in combat." Rothan finished the brandy and set the glass down. "But are you loyal?"
That indeed was the question.
"I have stayed true to my oath, my lord. I have never let you down."
"Not yet." Rothan sighed. "To be honest, I have had my faults in the past. You are no longer a young rogue, Drahden. I am concerned about the American woman. My spies tell me she was playing your whore on your travels north. Was it a game, or was she satisfying your needs?"
"I was on my honor as Protector, my lord, she did not. It was merely a cover until we could get to Wrexridge. For me to be seen with a highborn lady would arouse suspicion."
Rothan nodded. "And now? Do you fear her attempted return to the old world?"
Drahden swallowed his brandy. "I am confident by spring I will have settled her properly. She is working for a bookseller and I hope that perhaps she will be content there and find a man to keep her occupied."
"As long as it is not you, Drahden." He stood up. "I will not keep you. My decision will be made by the spring thaw."
Drahden watched Rothan leave the room and waited a good twenty minutes before he donned his black cloak and slipped outside. It was a mile to the inn where he had business. As he made his way through the cold night he used the time to think about what Rothan had said. Every word was true – he needed to curb the whoring and gambling if he was to be Lord Protector. It was a position he very much wanted. He needed to prove himself over the winter if he had a shot. There was stiff competition from his brothers.
The inn was part of a sleeply little town a good trek from the main north-south road from Wessex. It was a perfect place for his rendezvous. He headed immediately to the stable. A loud whinny greeted him from the last stall.
"Brego!" Drahden called out as he saw his old friend. The horse shook his head before Drahden could get a hold of the bridle.
"I know, I know," he said softly, calming the large stallion. He produced a carrot and fed it to the horse while he stroked his handsome face. "I am sorry I left you, my friend. We still have many adventures ahead of us, don't we?"
Brego relaxed as Drahden spoke to him softly in the still, dark night. For a while the man and horse renewed their friendship. When at last Brego was calm, Drahden took his leave and went into the inn. The tavern was mostly empty and after a discreet inquiry he made his way upstairs and knocked softly upon the first door. It opened a crack and the smile on the other side warmed his heart. He went inside.
Jenda stood before him and the sight of her never failed to take his breath away. She was tall and statuesque. Long flowing red hair hung halfway down her back that shown in the firelight with rich tones. It was straight as could be, but it had such a silky quality that he always lost himself there. From her exquisite face to her milky white breasts straining at the tops of her bodice to her slim waist and flared hips, this woman made his heart pound.
He bent to one knee, took her slender hand and pressed his lips upon her warm skin.
"My lord," she said in a smooth voice, "how wonderful it is to see you again."
Drahden looked up to her green eyes. "Thank you for bringing Brego to me." He stood up and removed his cloak. "I have missed him so."
"I am sure you have," as she hung up his cloak. "He is quite spirited, I dare not ride him."
"Aye, he is choosy. But he behaved on the trek?"
Drahden slumped down in a cozy chair by the fire. "The last few months have been hell."
"Would you like to tell me?" Jenda asked.
"Some other time." He looked up at her and felt the blood boiling in his veins. "I have missed you as well, Jenda."
She smiled again at him and he noted her full red lips. "It has been a while. Before you went north to Stonegate, I recall."
He pushed aside the memories of that place and reached out for her hand. "Come," he said softly.
Without a word she slid into his lap and put her arms around his neck. "Rothan is considering me for Lord Protector."
Her eyes went wide. "That is wonderful!"
He nodded. "But I will be watched carefully. He says I have too many bad habits."
"Perhaps you do, but what does that mean for us?" she asked and he heard a tremor of uncertainty in her voice.
"We will have to be extremely careful. But you know that we can never be together as man and wife. And my duties in the north will keep me away until well into the spring." He felt a pang of guilt when he said that as Rebecca was now part of his life in addition to Jenda.
"You know I never make demands of you, Drahden. I cherish whatever time we spend together and your secrets are always safe with me."
He knew she was sincere. They both knew each other's secrets. At incredible risk, he had told her about where he was from. In turn she revealed she was a witch. They were bound to each other by this knowledge but it was not a burden. Jenda had helped Drahden many times over the years and in return he had watched out for her. If it got out she was a witch, she would have been executed.
Drahden pushed back that long lovely hair and pressed his lips upon hers in a deep kiss. His arms slid down her back as he pulled her close. At once her scent was upon him. Drahden opened his mouth and eagerly sought her tongue. She responded immediately and they dueled for a bit. He took the opportunity to cup her full breast. When he squeezed she moaned into his mouth.
He felt her hands stroke his beard and his hair. Her touch was such that it immediately made him go hard. But with this woman, he took his time.
"I have missed you as well, my lord," she murmured.
He knew she had other lovers, but he never doubted her words. They had a bond that was difficult to break.
"I would see those wonderful breasts of yours," he said in a husky voice.
She leaned back a bit and unlaced her bodice with a faint smile. As her creamy white mounds spilled into view, he felt a jolt of desire go through his body. They were heavenly. Not only were they large and well-shaped, but her nipples were pink and puffy. She held each breast and squeezed it softly for him, teasing him.
"Come," she said. "Taste them."
Drahden bent his head and buried his face between the twin globes. His tongue snaked out and began to lick her cleavage. Jenda's hands went to his head and softly combed out his hair. Her touch spurred him on and he moved his mouth to one puffy nipple. As his tongue licked her delicately, she moaned and urged him to suck. He complied by taking the nipple all the way into his mouth where he sucked hard enough to make her shudder. Using his hand, he squeezed breast as he sucked.
"Oh Drahden...oh yes!" she exclaimed.
His left hand squeezed the other breast and tweaked the nipple roughly until it hardened into a stiff nub. Jenda squirmed and moaned in his lap and he could feel his cock straining painfully against his tight pants. He nipped her nipple with his teeth and she almost screamed when she caught herself. No one needed to know what they were doing and inns had notoriously thin walls.
As he assaulted her breasts and nipples, Jenda pulled up her light gown so that it was gathered around her waist. She grabbed his hand and put it on her bare mound.
"No underthings for you," he murmured.
"Not when I knew you would be visiting," she said breathlessly.
He slid a finger into her pussy and she gasped. She was slick with juices.
"And very wet, I might add," he said, teasing her.
She responded by tugging at the laces that bound his pants. He helped her undo them and eventually freed his rock hard cock. As her soft hands stroked him, he shuddered and pulled his face away from her breasts.
"Guide me," he croaked. "I would have you now."
Jenda lifted her hips and guided his cock to her pussy. As she was so wet, he slid effortlessly into her soft folds. He sighed as the warmth engulfed him. Before he started, he just wanted to hold her and breathe her in. His arms went around her waist and they locked in a tight embrace. Drahden kissed her slender neck and murmured for her to ride him. She began to rock on his lap, squeezing his cock with each movement. His mouth went back to her breasts again and smothered them with licks, kisses and nips. She moaned quietly.
"Ride me, darlin'," he said, urging her on. "Ride my cock and cum for me."
Jenda's moans got louder as she increased the intensity by which she was pulling his cock with her tight pussy. Drahden felt the muscles in his back, ass and legs begin to bunch. Release was on its way but he wanted her to cum first and flood his cock with her sweet juices. Jenda grabbed his shoulders forcefully to get leverage as she bounced up and down. Drahden reached around and squeezed her luscious ass. The two of them rocked and panted and moaned and their lovely sounds filled the cozy little room.
"Ohhhhh...Drahden...I can't hold on anymore," Jenda cried out suddenly. "Here –"
Her words were cut off by a long, low wail as her body clenched and she began to experience the orgasm. Drahden watched the red flush of her blood creep up from her breasts to her neck. Then her pussy clenched his cock so hard he gasped and suddenly released his seed deep into her pussy. It seemed like an eternity to him as they held each other and found the release they each desperately needed. A sweet, pleasurable eternity.
Finally it did pass and he came to his senses. Jenda slumped forward and rested her head on his shoulder. His cock was softening inside her but he did not want to pull out. He did not want to let this woman go. Instead he listened to her ragged breathing and the crackling of the fire and wished that his other world did not exist – the world that required him to protect the realm and swear to oaths that prevented him from being with this woman.
"Can you stay the night," Jenda asked at last.
"I'm sorry but I cannot. We have business at breakfast. I need to slip back inside the manor and get some sleep."