Your prize awaits.

Night fell over the castle. Saber watched the sun set from his chambers, leaning against the rail of his balcony. It appeared that whatever small army Siberia had left had been assigned to guard Sabers room. More than fifty guards had been stationed outside his door and all along the hall leading to it.  Twenty men stood on the ground under the balcony two stories down. Saber chuckled to himself looking down at these men. He was pretty well convinced some men had been instructed to be in the room with him but none of the guards were stupid enough to get that close to him.

Saber concluded the Siberians, though inferior, could sense and respect a force that was beyond them—though his daft brother could not. Saber stroked the ring he wore on his left little finger. It had a soothing effect on his psyche. The witch he’d stolen it from had claimed it was carved from the bone of a long extinct race of beasts that had once been undefeatable by any other living creature.

Tonight had been the night he had planned for over several months. He had come to show his brother,  his father and all of Russia who the true Emperor was. Saber sighed, closing his fist and carelessly gnawing on it, deep in thought. At last his hesitations formed a decision. With some reluctance he uncurled his fist. There was something he had to do first.

Saber reached into his tunic and withdrew a silver amulet, little more than a grubby coin with a chain pushed through. One side was the carving of a full moon surrounded by stars. On the other side was a scene of rushing ocean waves. Saber held the amulet in the palm of his hand. He held the amulet out towards the moon. As the moon light soaked the silver it appeared to glow.

“By the power of the moon, destroyer of the sun, take me where I wish to go.”

Lady Zoya stood at her balcony, staring out into the empty court yard covered  in a blanket of snow. She had been standing in the same spot since dinner with her father. The beauty of the falling snow was lost to her, all she could see was herself falling with it. Her fingers curled around the balcony railing. She leaned forward so far her balance became unstable. She had only to let go. She too would fall. She too would be covered by the chilly kisses of the snow. She closed her eyes. Her fingers loosened.

Quiet suddenly a hand gripped her shoulders, steadying her on the ground. Lady Zoya gasped spinning around. She came face to face with a man.  He was tall, well built. His face was handsome in an animalistic way but very intimidating.  But most importantly he was in her bedroom. How had he gotten past her guards and her ladies-in-waiting.  She frowned at him.

“Not thinking about jumping I hope?” The man asked, flashing a charming smile as he surveyed her bewildered and shocked expression that momentarily disturbed the perfect arrangement of her features.

Who was he?

She stepped away out from between him and the balcony. He did not make any show of preventing her. In fact he took a deliberate step back from her holding his hands up in a show of good faith.  Zoya took another step from him crossing her arms defensively over her chest.

“You are not going to scream?” The man asked.

“Should I?”

“Most do.”

“You do this often?”

“My name his Saber, Son of Ivan.”

“The slaughterer of Siberian sons.” She corrected.

Saber chuckled.

“You have heard.”

“We are in Siberia.” She noted in an obvious tone.

“Will you scream now?”

“I care not.” She said striding over to her dressing table and sitting. “Men kill each other all the time. I’m told that is politics. As a woman I don’t care for politics—or so I’m told, despite being a pawn used to solve political problems.”

Saber raised his eyebrows curiously.

“In what way?”

“My father starts a quarrel his sons cannot solve, cannot strong arm his will so he offers my tender hand as a final remedy. Without the slightest regard to me.” She spat bitterly.

“You are to be married?” Saber asked. “To who?”

Lady Zoya chuckled softly to herself.

“Marriage is that what you think it is? I am not to be married. You do not marry the coin in your pocket. You trade it. I am currency.” She looked Saber over curiously contemplating whether to continue. “I will marry King Gerasim, after your execution.”

Saber frowned. She was so young, too young for the King. King Gerasim was not worthy enough to handle such a woman. She was too beautiful to be confined to Siberia, she belonged in Russia. He opened his mouth to speak but she beat him to it.

“Do you want to strike Gerasim one last blow. Ruin the pleasure of your execution for him? You could kill me.” She offered.

“I can think of a better revenge for the old man.” Saber said with a sinister smile.

The woman gave a humorless one.

“Is this where I scream sir?”

The End

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