More than frightened, Nive was also thoroughly annoyed. She had been just hours from being a princess when the brutal warrior had single handedly dispatched her escort. She hadn’t known any of them, of course. They were a gift from the prince of Iskendar, but still. It was not pleasant seeing their demise, nor did she feel comfortable in the presence of the woman who caused it.
It was all completely maddening, she thought as she scrambled upright, her rear stinging from the application of the warrior’s palm. Merciful treatment, she supposed given what the woman was capable of.
Still, being captured was part of the lot of being a princess. Nive had been briefed on the possibility by the Iskendari envoy before her departure. There was every chance that this warrior with the hard hand and skilful fingers would be captured and bought to justice in very short order. All Nive had to do was what came naturally to her: behave in a manner befitting a princess.
The short tunic was nothing like her fine clothes had been, but she was determined to look graceful regardless. Even bound, it was possible to take up a modest position by kneeling on the bed. It did lead to her spanked bottom pressing against the backs of her calves, but that was better than being raw and exposed.
Just as Nive settled herself, steps outside the door heralded the arrival of the warrior’s visitor. The handle turned, the door opened and Nive’s breath caught in her throat. A very tall, very voluptuous blonde woman had entered the room, wearing robes of green silk which put Nive’s previous clothing to shame.
The newcomer had an aura of majesty and refinement about her which made Nive’s eyes widen as she beheld what must surely have been a queen. When the great woman turned toward her and cast a wide, intelligent and above all, kind gaze on her, Nive almost forgot that she was captured and bound.
“Hello, Nive,” the woman said in richly accented tones which Nive had heard on the tongues of some of the oldest courtiers. “My name is Ayla. I apologise for the method of your capture. Unfortunately it could not have been avoided.”
“I am sure it could not,” Nive said. She attempted a curtsey but owing to her bound limbs, succeeded only in tipping herself onto her face.
She felt the warrior on one side and the royal lady on the other, two sets of hands helping her to right herself. At the warrior, she scowled. To the royal lady, she smiled.
“They always prefer you,” the warrior snorted.
“That is because you frighten young ladies, Kira. All these years and you have not learned to temper your approach with a little softness.”
“She is frightful in many ways,” Nive agreed. “It does not bear repeating what she did to my escort. Or what she has done to my person. A brute to the core.” She shot a triumphant look at the warrior named Kira. A full report to what surely must be the warrior’s employer would soon see her in trouble.
Ayla’s beautiful features assumed an expression of amusement as she looked between Nive and Kira. “I will grant you,” she said. “There does seem to be something of a pattern with these young summoners.”
“If you would just have me untied,” Nive said. “It’s most unnecessary. I am of royal blood you see, and…”
“Actually, you’re a distant near descendant of a peasant,” Kira cut in abruptly.
Nive drew herself up haughtily. “I will have you horse whipped when you are arrested,” she threatened grimly. “You are an insupportable wretch who does not know her place.”
The warrior’s dark eyes narrowed, the muscles in her not inconsiderable arms twitched and Nive felt her bottom flush hot beneath her tunic. Perhaps she was speaking a little too rashly. Or perhaps it was the hot rash on her rear which compelled her to speak a little less. Either way she fell silent under Kira’s hard stare.