"I refuse to be part of this twisted tournament." The King bellowed through the darkened halls.

"Yes my King." The messenger said with a bow.

The furious King rose from his chair, leaving the message on his desk. He intended on replying to the Northern King's request in a battle of blood and fire. The bastard would no longer need to worry about searching for a suitor for his daughter. The entire Kingdom would burn under his cast iron fist of fire. And truly see why he was given the title Demon King when he brought the very fires of Hell with him to the battle field.

"Ready my horse!" He ordered as a stern pounding sounded at the main door.

Already furious enough, he threw open the door. Expecting someone to be standing there ready for his anger, but there was no more than a burlap sack with a note tied to it. the look upon his face seemed to be one of unamused anger. He snatched the note off the sack and promptly untied it in the process. The action caused the release of a mass of blonde-white hair, followed by fear filled water blue eyes as big as the manor he called home. Confused, he glanced at the note he still clutched.

Let the tournament BEGIN!

He saw red when he glanced at the torn wax seal and saw the North Kingdom's seal. So, the request was a demand. If that's what he wanted. Fine.

"Solene, send our gracious King Otarian a dead line. Six months for a suitor to come through my gates and retrieve the Princess. Or else." He said with venom in his voice. sparking fear in the sea blue eyes of his unwelcome house guest.

She screamed through the cloth around her mouth as he scooped her and the sack up and threw her over his shoulder as if she were no more than a sack of potatoes. She did not move, she was in utter shock that he had picked her up without so much as a groan or grunt. He did not falter as he took long strides down the corridor and up the stair case, taking two at a time. This beast was taking them two at a TIME! Not even the most skilled knight in her father's kingdom could do that without a running start.

"My Lord, if ye needin' a workout ya could spar with yer men instead of stealin' me spuds." An elderly woman said stopping him upon the landing.

"I'll make sure to remember that, but I'm afraid that I have business with whom is in the sack Ms. Abernathy." He said passing the woman the note and sped up his stride.

"If yer plannin' on scarin' the new stable boy ye'll be washing yer own britches for a month, my Lord." Ms. Abernathy threatened as she open the letter he'd handed her.

"It's not him, it's our new house guest from the North Kingdom." He stated reaching for one of the chamber doors.

Ms. Abernathy's eyes widened when she turned and saw the young woman bound and gagged over the King's shoulder.

"My King put the Princess down at once!" She ordered and ran at the door lifting her skirts, "Do not frighten her."

She was pounding at the locked door demanding to be let in or he'd be in grave trouble. Ms. Abernathy knew he would do the girl no harm, but the girl did not.

He bent over and leaned on the bed no more than an inch away from her face.

"First and foremost. Do you know who I am? What I've done and can do?" He asked with a gruff softness.

She nodded slowly as tears rolled down her face, he smelt of timber and musk. She admired the smell.

"Good. Now, I'm going to remove the gag and untie you. You will not scream, you will not run. I will answer one question at a time. Understood?" He said changing his tone to keep her calm.

She nodded again. He gave her a curt nod in return and removed her binds and the sack. While he had her pressed against his shoulder she was engulfed by him. when he pulled away to open the door to pass off the sack and binds she felt weak, thank the gods she was sitting. When he opened the door he saw Ms. Abernathy pacing.

"Would you please bring our guest something to eat and drink. She's had a long journey." He asked politely handing off the sack and bindings.

"Yes sir.'' She said with a small smile and a quick glance at the woman sitting still on the bed.

She left and went to carry out the request, he turned his attention back to the princess and closed the door.

"What is your name?" He asked pulling the chair from a table of books.

"C-Crimsyn. Like the color, My Lord." She said stuttering her name.

"Let me formally introduce myself. I am King Emeric. You will be a visitor in my home until the end of six months." Emeric stated coldly.

"I apologize greatly for this intrusion, My Lord, my father is not the brightest. My older brother was sent for when my father cooked this idea up. But I am afraid it will not be within the six month time period. Please have mercy." Crimsyn said balling her hands in her dress. Trembling, she had yet to look up at him since he'd sat down.

"Stand up." He ordered in a hushed tone. She obeyed, but kept her gaze at his shoes.

He sat leaning on his hand as he looked at the young woman, Crimsyn, what an unusual name. Her dress simple, she wore no corset like other women of her standing but maybe it was due to the figure she had, just like Ms. Abernathy. No doubt she kept her hair simply pulled back in the same manner, but due to the way she was brought here and dropped on his doorstep, her hair came almost to the floor in waves. Her dress was similar to that of a summer gown, light green with white lace on the hem, a small heel the same color as the dress. Crimsyn herself was a short woman, a good foot shorter than himself.

She wore a small locket around her neck that seemed to draw his eye to the generous swell of her breasts. They rose and fell with her breathing, she was indeed a beautiful woman, full, her skin was like cream, looked so smooth and silken. Emeric wondered what she might taste like under his tongue. How she would feel beneath him. How she would look tangled in his dark sheets, like a flickering flame against the black satin and silk sheets.

A light rasp at the door brought him away from his sinful thoughts. Perfect timing, Ms. Abernathy. He thought as he walked briskly to the door to allow her in.

"I brought ye some sweet milk, wine, and water. I was nae sure what ye would like, and I brought some melon and grapes as well. Although now that i get the pleasure of lookin at ya your Highness. Would ye like some stew?" A smile spread across Crimsyn's face at the speed of Ms. Abernathy's speech.

She lifted up and smiled the sweetest smile Emeric had ever seen, much like a child's smile. But it was innocently seductive as well.

"Please, call me Crimsyn, I don't much like being called that." She said in a soft tone.

"Well Crimsyn, I am Maude Abernathy. So, would you like some stew, dear?" Ms. Abernathy said smiling at Crimsyn.

"Stew would be amazing, please ma'am." She said returning the smile.

Maude smiled and gave her the cup of sweet milk. Crimsyn took a few large drinks of the honeyed milk, Emeric was a little too focused when her tongue darted out to lick the liquid off her lips.

"Ms. Abernathy," He said clearing his throat, "since you have taken a liking to our intruder you shall be her ward. She's far too young to be without one."

That seemed to spark something in Crimsyn, because she raised her voice as he saw red start to crawl over her chest and up her neck.

"I'll have you know, My Lord, that I do not need a ward. I am three and twenty, I released my ward ten years ago. I tend to the kitchen and my studies for when my brother takes a bride and the throne. I will kindly ask you to remember that I, much like you and not as well know to all the kingdoms, I have a temper of my own that should never be brought out. As for my being an intruder in your lands I will assist Maude in the gally and after such work is done, continue my studies with the few literature you provide in these chambers and help Maude in that joke of a garden." There was silence after the out burst. Maude quickly took Crimsyn out of the room and down to the kitchen as quick as possible.

Emeric stood alone in the room. Unsure if he should be anger, amused, aroused, or all three. Never in his life had someone done that to him, barked at him like that, this Red Rose of a woman would be highly entertaining.