Daniel looked over is troops with pride. They had served him well this day. After crossing over the Blue River into Pearoandorn they had immediately been set upon by one of the many sects battling for the throne. Daniel's men had been able to coerce the enemy to surrender with minimal loss of life. Already half of the opposing forces had sworn fealty to him and joined his ranks. The first day in the war over Pearoandorn was going well. They had march hard to make it to Pearoandorn within a week's time. They had been victorious in their first battle and Daniel wanted to reward his men. It was for that reason he chose to camp his army on the outskirts of Waverly.
It had been a favorite stop of his and Williams as they chased Ashebourn across Pearoandorn. Ashebourn had zigzagged his way across the country for two long years before being caught in Turnsout and then ceremoniously executed. Ashebourn had proven a bad tactician. He had trapped himself outside the little coastal town of Turnsout. With the ocean to his south, mountains to his west, and William and Daniel flanking his east and north his forces had been crushed. Daniel himself had captured Ashebourn and led him to William and his death.
Daniel had enjoyed that war. He knew he shouldn't , people had died, but the feeling of rushing head first into battle, the clang of steel against steel and the whine of his war horse seemed to fill him in away that nothing else in life had. He sighed to himself. Those days were over. He was a king now. He could not rush into battle with his men, only stand behind shouting orders.
"Sire," Daniel heard called from the other side of the tent flap.
"Come in Douglas," Daniel said recognizing the voice. Douglas entered the tent and gave Daniel a salute. Daniel frowned, just for a moment inside the privacy of his tent would it have been so bad if Douglas would have smiled and called him Daniel? Was he to be king every moment he spent outside of the council room? Daniel already knew the answer. He was king, nothing could change that. "What is it?" Daniel asked.
"The scouting parties have been dispatched per your orders." Daniel nodded. While his army camped outside of Waverly his scouts would be looking for other sects. "I have also given the generals instructions on leave for the men as you asked me to," again Daniel only nodded. When he had given his orders to Douglas he had know doubt they would be carried out. He did not need to have everything reported back to him. When Douglas was finished he stood with his eyes forward, waiting on Daniel to respond. Daniel wasn't sure if he was waiting for a pat on the head or more orders to carry out.
"Is there more," Daniel asked. Douglas me his gaze at the question. Daniel was sure some of the color had also drained from the man's face. "Yes, there is a lady demanding to see you, Sire." Daniel smiled at his old friend, "Tell her I am not in the mood for female companionship this evening. You should know if I was I would have already headed for Waverly like my men."
"It is not one of those ladies, my lord. It is a real lady." Daniel stared at Douglas for a moment in thought. Why would a lady of Pearoandorn risk herself in a camp full of invading soldiers far from home? More importantly why would she want to see the leader of the invading force? Daniel smiled, nobles never changed. So sure Daniel would soon rule Pearoandorn she no doubt wanted to align herself with him now to ensure future favors. "I do not want to see anyone," Daniel said. "I know it is still early, but all I really want to do is have my dinner and sleep. She can make arrangements to see me tomorrow if what she has to say is that important." Douglas gave a quick bow and left Daniel alone in his tent.
Daniel removed his sword and dagger and tossed them on the bed. He then sat on down next to them and removed his boots. He wiggled his toes in the furs that had been laid down to cover the ground inside the tent for his comfort. He shook his head at the thought. Fighting a war as a King was certainly different from fighting as a soldier. He stood up and pulled his shirt from his pants, then stretched his arms over his head. The past few months of inactivity were catching up to him. The march to Pearoandorn and the first battle had tired him. He had just started unbuttoning his shirt when a commotion outside his tent drew his attention. He was in the process of retrieving his boots to investigate when a woman burst through the flap of the tent.
Daniel stood frozen where he was and stared at her. "Sorry, my lord," Douglas said still panting from having chased the woman. "She found a way back into camp and forced her way past the guards posted outside your tent." Daniel continued to stare at her. She looked at him with the same intensity. "My lord," Douglas called to Daniel again.
Daniel remembering someone else was in the tent with them looked past the woman at Douglas. "Leave us," Daniel said with enough authority that Douglas knew there was no room to question the order. The minute Douglas disappeared behind the tent flap Daniel rushed to the woman and gathered her tightly in his arms.
"Geena," he whispered over her head. He broke the embrace and move his hands to her face unable to believe she was really standing in front of him. Her red hair still looked as if it would burn to touch. Her blues eyes sparkled like jewels and her full lips were more inviting than ever. With no more doubts in his mind he crushed his lips against hers. He was a man lost to the past remembering only painful desire long ago buried against its will. When he had drunk his fill of her lips he pulled back and studied her eyes with his. He was sure he could see a piece of his heart still buried behind them. "Geena," he whispered again. When she smiled he thought his heart would beat out of his chest. "I was worried you would be displeased to see me after all these years," her words were unsteady and breathless.
"The Gods have blessed me to have you here, "he said softly afraid the tiniest sound would break the dream and she would vanish.
"Rumor is you don't believe in them anymore?" she said. She was still taken with him after all this time he was still the same as she had remembered. His steel gray eyes haunted her.
"I don't," he said smiling, "but I am willing to accept the miracles they send me in an attempt to woo me back."
"I can hardly believe I am here myself," she said wrapping her arms around him. "What are you doing here?" he asked tightening their embrace.
"I have a small manor just on the other side of Waverly. When I heard you were here I had to come."
"You did not return to Calandoria after the war?" he questioned. "To my fathers will. I am free in Pearoandorn. She raised her head to look into his eyes. "Free to make my own decisions." Daniel remembered the decision she was not allowed to make in Calandoria. She had been force into marriage with Ashebourn, who battled for a crown of his own, instead of being allowed to marry him a mere second son to the king of Calandoria.
"Why are you here?" he asked her again.
"To see you," she said suddenly a bit unsure of herself. "You do not want me here?" she questioned. Her face was braced for his answer.
"Of course I want you here," he said reassuringly
"But," she questioned.
"Time has changed many things." He had expected to see pain in her eyes caused by his words. He was relieved when all she did was smile. "I am here only as an old friend, Daniel nothing more. Well that is not entirely true. I happen to employee the best chef in Pearoandorn. I had her prepare a meal for us. If you have not eaten dinner I was hoping perhaps we could dine together and talk. Maybe you could tell me about the woman that keeps you from kissing me again."
Daniel smiled, "I would like that Geena, very much."
Daniel woke the next morning with a throbbing headache. He rose slowly and sat on the edge of the bed leaning over with his face in his hands. That was when he noticed he was naked. He had not slept naked since he was a young man, unless he had companionship during the night. Daniel quickly looked around the room. Geena was no where to be seen. He saw no evidence that suggested she had stayed with him the night before, but truthfully he could not remember much.
He remembered her leaving the tent and returning with a maid, Tissy, Tussy, no Tessy. He was sure her name had been Tessy. She had brought in baskets of food and wine laying it out on the table for him and Geena. Then she waited next to entrance of the tent in case her mistress needed something. Daniel remembered little of the dinner or the conversation he had shared with Geena. He remembered nothing after dinner. He looked to the tent flap. Sunlight was pouring through the crack; apparently the Sun had been up for hours. He had not slept passed dawn in months.
"You are awake!" Douglas said as he opened the flap to the tent and quickly filled the gap, blocking out the offensive light that had flooded in. Daniel merely grunted rubbing his head. "I had begun to fear that you had fallen ill. I tried to wake you several times this morning already. I am glad to see you up."
"Where is Geena?" Daniel asked still groggy.
"Lady Ashebourn and her maid left last night right after dinner," Douglas said. He did not like the way Daniel looked, but he had seen men look worse after a night of drinking.
"What happened last night?" Daniel asked trying to regain some memory of the events. He wanted to ask what happened with Geena, but he knew Douglas would have given him his privacy and not have known what transpired within the tent.
"Forgive me my lord, but it appears you had too much wine." Douglas said pointing at the table in the tent. Daniel looked where he pointed and saw several empty bottles on the table and a few others on the floor around the table. He did not remember drinking so much wine, however had he indeed drank that much he supposed he would not remember much of anything.
Daniel looked down scanning the furs on the ground, seeing his pants lying carelessly on the floor at the edge of the bed he reached for them and begin pulling them on despite the throbbing in his head. "Did Lady Ashebourn appear well when she left?" He asked. "She seemed fine. She had obviously not indulged as much as you, my Lord." Douglas answered. Daniel made no comment. Surely nothing had happened with the maid in the tent with them. If Geena had not drank enough wine to affect her mind she would have prevented anything from happening. He hoped he had not made a fool of himself.
Daniel began dressing in earnest now that he had made peace with the events from the night before. After strapping on his sword he turned back to Douglas. "Have you seen my dagger?"
"Not since you wore it yesterday. Do you not remember where you put it?" Douglas said amused. "It is hard to be king without the king's dagger!" Daniel was not amused. He remembered placing both his sword and the dagger on the bed right before Geena had come in. He began searching the floor frantically thinking it must have fallen. He did not find it. "Douglas, take some men to Lady Ashebourn's manor. Bring her to me by force if necessary." Douglas was no longer amused having the same thought as Daniel. Lady Ashebourn had taken his dagger.
It made no sense Daniel thought as he sat in his tent waiting for Geena to be brought to him. He had searched his tent several times since Douglas left, thinking he must be wrong. What use could she possibly have for dagger? It was only a symbolic declaration of his throne. Possessing it would not give her rule of Calandoria. Perhaps she was destitute and thought to sell it. The sapphires on the hilt were worth a small fortune. They were also the only wealth he had in his tent. The gold he carried to supply his army was kept else where and was more heavily guarded. If she came looking for some treasure to steal it was the only thing of value she would have found.
"My lord," Daniel turned to see Douglas entering the tent. It had been hours since he had sent him to Geena's manor. "She is gone. We found no trace of her or any of her servants at the manor."