“That I leave to your discretion.” Saber took a step towards her. Zoya flinched but didn’t retreat. She lifted her strong chin defiantly.
“Marry me.” Saber said, it was more of a command than an offer.
Zoya chuckled, looking him over a little disappointed.
“What difference does it make? One prison for another.” She stretched her arms gracefully before her looking them over resentfully.
“Shall I sit with your war trophies? Shall I smile as people come to look at me? But never speak! I will collect dust like it is treasure and wear it as flagrantly as gold. Why of course Prince Saber.” Lady Zoya stood with an exaggerated flourish of her hand as she waltzed gracefully towards him.
“You may have my body, take it as a gift, hang it with the rest you have claimed but first,” She spun past him and back towards the balcony. “Allow me to vacate it.” She perched dangerously on the balcony, one leg planted on the floor the other steadying her on the balcony. She threw up her arms angrily. She wobbled a second on the balcony.
Saber lunged forward his hands gripping her thin biceps; he pulled her back onto the floor yet again. He looked her face over incredulously. Her eyes were close to tears. He had looked into the eyes of several dying men, men he had killed but never had he seen this look. She was broken, almost as if she was already dead.
“What is wrong with you?” He demanded shaking her furiously.
“I am not a man.” Was her somber reply. Saber shook her hard as if this would make her words unravel into a sentence that he could understand. This somehow made Zoya laugh.
“Feel better now?” She asked, as Saber halted in his shaking.
“I will have your soul with your body.” He said angrily.
She smiled triumphantly.
“That none can take.”
Saber growled infuriated, shaking her. This did little more than send her hair breezing through the air.
“Why can’t I have you?” He demanded.
“I’m sure if you shake me some more I might change my mind.” She teased. Saber was so mad he could slap her. He released her in disgust and turned away.
“Why was such beauty given to a graceless creature?” He mused aloud.
“And why such strength given to a coward?” She countered. Saber spun around quickly, He would strike her. But that was what she wanted. He stopped himself.
She smiled. She was toying with him. He knew it. She thought she was being clever. At the moment she was. She was winning this mental game.
“I can free you.” Saber offered softly.
Lady Zoya could not hide her interest.
“Anything you want. Really want. Not jewels, but freedom and power. The ability to say what you feel, do what you like, as you like, to whoever you like. I am a freeman none dare to oppose me in what I do. Marry me and none will dare oppose you.”
Zoya bit her lower lip thoughtfully. Her eyes full of temptation.
“What if I get bored?” She asked, to stall the time.
“You will be constantly entertained; I will make sure of it.”
“Prove it.” She challenged, half of her wished he would succeed; the other half, the half that found itself constantly ignored, was afraid. Afraid of what would happen if he did.
“If you cannot answer my Riddle by midday on the third day then you must marry me.” Saber said.
This seemed easy enough. Lady Zoya agreed. Saber gave her the riddle and bid her goodnight. After he left, Zoya stood by the balcony, her fingers playing thoughtfully with her hair, unraveling her braid. She repeated the riddle to herself several times.
What loved none, yet slew for love.