“Lady Zoya this is my brother Prince Saber.”
Lady Zoya looked up with her piercing eyes shining in the light. They held nothing but hostility for Sebastian. But her lips held a secret almost laughing smile for Saber as she offered him her hand.
“A pleasure to meet you.” She said.
Saber took her hand and gently pressed his lips lightly against her knuckles.
“The pleasure is all mine Milady.” He said, casting her an inquisitive glance. She looked away coyly.
“This is my fiancé.” Sebastian told Saber. “King Gerasim’s daughter.”
Saber nodded suddenly everything began to make sense.
“What a marvelous trade.” He said, his word directed at Lady Zoya. “You two must be so happy.”
“Ecstatic.” Zoya said, her voice lacking all gusto. “Look at me I’m glowing.” She beamed up at Sebastian. Saber knew that look well enough to know she was mocking him.
“Like a gold coin?” Saber asked.
“Exactly.” Agreed the lady. Sebastian looked back and forth between the two, clearly confused by the exchange. The group fell into silence. It remained that way until Lady Zoya shouted quite suddenly.
“The ogre from Dmitry’s tales of destruction!”
Saber chuckled shaking his head.
“Brother I do believe your bride is quite mad.” He said, walking away. Sebastian followed behind him confused and far too perplexed to be suspicious.
“So if King Gerasim is your father? Then why did you tell me you were marrying him?” Saber asked that night when that night when he mysteriously snuck yet again into Lady Zoya’s chambers.
“I thought it would make you want to kill me.” She said simply.
“You would have done much better to say you were my brother’s bride.” His voice dripping with unmasked hostility.
“I am not his bride, brides get married.”
“Yes and you are a prize because you get traded!” Saber shouted. “Then why will you not trade him for me?! Why will you not be my bride.”
Lady Zoya looked at him taken aback.
“Shush. They will hear you.” She said rushing over to him she placed her hand over his mouth.
“Let them hear! Let him know I was with you first.” Saber said his hands grabbing hungrily at her waist and pulling tightly to him. Zoya let out a yelp of surprise, as she tried to wriggle free from him.
“You wanted to die. This will for sure drive my brother to murder and not even that damn peace treaty will save you from him.”
Zoya clawed at Sabers faces, leaving red marks across his face but not cutting the skin. She slammed him in the eye with her fist. Saber released her, reflexively bringing his hand to his stinging eye. She fell to the floor and quickly scrambled away to her bed.
“You disgust me!” She yelled, reaching under her pillow and withdrawing a small dagger, she showed some skill in the way she held it. “Leave my sight.” She said climbing shakily to her feet.
“Or you’ll stab me?” Saber asked almost laughing. “Do you know how many trained soldiers have failed to do that?”
Lady Zoya twisted the dagger towards herself, pressing the dagger against her soft skin. Her eyes were defiant, her hands steadier.
Saber looked her over trying to decide if she would.
“You are not different.” She looked almost disappointed. “You are worse. I should have listened to what all the men whispered about you! You are a monster just like the damned answer to your stupid riddle.”
Saber took in a sharp breath she was so close but in her anger she rushed passed the answer.
“You are an unspeakable horror.”
“Then why did you let me into your chambers?” Saber asked.
She shook her head, unwilling to answer. Saber laughed rudely at her.
“Did you think you could tame the beast? Or perhaps you wished I would kill you. Well you insult the memory of every man that ever died by my hand if you think I would let you pass painlessly.”
“Leave!” She repeated.
“What good will it do you. You have no answer to my riddle. I will have you. Sooner or later.” Saber strode to the balcony. She did not see him jump he seemed to simply vanish from sight. She collapsed shakily to her bed. The dagger fell from her hand and clattered to the floor.
What had she done? Tears fell slowly from her eyes. She felt so helpless so terribly small. It was a familiar feeling but that didn’t make its presence any less frightening. The only comfort she had was rushing to the balcony and staring out at the ground. It called to her welcomingly, promising an end to her misery.