A/N: First, I just wanted to say that I am incredibly sorry about the two years it has taken me to update this story. Needless to say, several rather intense personal issues have occurred over the past two years, and I just didn't have the motivation to continue on this project. But I just can't abide to not finish what I began. This chapter will be a little bit choppy (it might take me a while to get back into the swing of this), but here you go!
Biting back a curse, Kera rubbed her head as the guards roughly threw her into the dungeon. She glared up at them, only earning herself yet another slap to the face. Honestly, by the time she got out of here, her face would have a permanent handprint on the side. Loeran grabbed the soldier's shoulder roughly, growling out a few choice words that would have left Kera impressed…had he not betrayed her. If nothing else, the boy knew how to threaten. The other soldier, however, merely glanced down at her in disgust before spitting at her.
Relying seemingly on instinct, Kera was rising before she knew it, her hands aimed at the man's throat. Loeran chose that moment to step between them, pushing her up against the wall and glaring. "I would try not to make this situation worse, if I were you," he hissed.
"Traitor," Kera ground out. "How could you do this? After all the trouble I've gone through for you?"
Loeran's smile was bitter. "You have been spending too much time with the Keelites, milady Teman. Don't forget; we are Zurates."
"I should have let them kill you," Kera whispered, her mouth twisting into a sarcastic smile. "Or, better yet, I should have killed you myself. How's that for being a Zurate?
"You forgot how to be a Zurate when you left," Loeran answered, his gray eyes accusing. "You chose to betray us first."
"Maybe," Kera seethed. "But at least I had a reason. I will love to hear yours before I relieve you of your head."
"Milady Te…Kera…you don't know what you're talking about," Loeran hissed, his hand wrapping slowly around her neck. Kera flinched as an almost pained look passed through his eyes. He squeezed her neck lightly. "You assume that you will escape before someone kills you. I…"
"Sengre! Will you stop trying to talk to her and just do it already. I'd like to have my turn before the night is out!" the other guard sneered, making a crude gesture that sent Kera's heartbeat racing. She could feel the tears stinging at her eyes at the implications of such an action. To have her first experience be like that…glancing at a spot on Loeran's neck, she attempted to calm her racing heart and not show any weakness in front of these boys (they could not possibly earn the designation of men). Her mouth went dry and her heart sped up even more, but she turned a murderous glare on Loeran. If he ever touched her…
But his attention was not on her. Instead, he had gone a deathly pale and was quivering in rage. His hand fell from her neck and curled into a fist. Stalking away from her, he stood in front of the other guard for several seconds, just staring at him. The soldier stared back, obviously unimpressed. Until, however, Loeran grabbed him by the neck and lifted him a few inches off the ground. Kera's eyes widened as the man flailed and kicked. But what surprised her even more was the tone of Loeran's voice when he spoke. Never had her friend…former friend, she had to remember…sounded so deadly. Not even during the mock death match at the Keelite fort.
"I realize that you are not particularly intelligent, Saril, but even you understand the meaning of the word unharmed. And even you know the law. We are Zurates…not the peoples beyond Mernida! Which means we do not force ourselves onto women," Loeran growled. "Understand that if she even mentions any harm has come upon her, I will personally cut out your heart before informing the king. And although he may hate his niece, not even he has the stomach to tolerate rape. He will have the rest of your family killed within the day. And considering the fact that your wife is pregnant, I know that is not something you want. Am I understood?" Saril, at this point turning blue, nodded hastily. "Good," Loeran hissed before dropping him on the floor.
Kera smirked as Saril coughed several times, trying to regain his breath, and then scrambled out of the cell. Loeran turned to her, his breathing still choppy from rage. Kera held his gaze for several seconds, utterly confused. Truly, this boy was a walking paradox. Striding over to her, he regarded her silently for several seconds. "Try not to provoke anyone," he instructed. "I will see you again later…eventually."
Kera raised an eyebrow at the commanding tone of his voice. "And here I thought I was the royal," she shot back.
"Oh, you are," Loeran sighed. "You're just too stubborn to know what's good for you."
"Always have been," Kera smiled mirthlessly. "Loeran, why-?"
"I am a man of my word," he whispered, glaring at her. "Mull over the implications of that in your own time."
"Oh, I will," Kera promised.