A chance meeting between a prince and a peasant results in consequences that will not only change their lives, but also the kingdom.

Cover by Zillah Designs.


26. Chapter Twenty Six: Khyber


      No one knew how it had happened. Leanda had been in the upper town for some reason and she had been taken. Several of the guards protecting Leanda had been killed and the rest were injured. Everyone in the Palace was going out of their minds with worry and Abelard was acting deranged, yelling orders at everyone. I felt sorry for Mariella; she had only just started living with us and this had happened. We had received a note demanding half a million taeckla otherwise we would never see Leanda again. We’d organised a meeting place and given them the money as soon as possible, anxious that if we didn’t they would hurt Leanda. Abelard and I had been waiting at the Palace for the men we had sent to return with Leanda. We had wanted to go and get her ourselves but the Council had advised us against it. Mariella had been trying to calm Abelard but he only ignored her, so I had taken her to the library. I was on my way back to the Council Chambers when I heard the screaming. I faltered mid-step, my blood turning to ice in my veins. I recognised the voice. It was Samera.

      They were outside on the path leading to the main doors of the Palace. The group of guards that had been sent to retrieve Leanda were stood around watching as Abelard beat Samera who lying on the ground. I sprinted towards them and pushed Abelard away with as much force as I could.

      “What the gahl are you doing?” I growled furiously.

      Abelard’s breath billowed from his nostrils. “Those gahling peasants tricked us! And these gahling guards didn’t think to check that it was actually Leanda before they came back.”

      The guards straightened at the insult and looked guilty.

      Kneeling down beside Samera I brushed the hair from her unconscious face, feeling panic and fury at the amount of blood that covered her. “That doesn’t mean you should take your anger out on her.” I hissed, gesturing to Samera. “You think she had any choice in the matter? They probably forced her to do it.”

      Abelard clenched his bloodied hands into fists. “I don’t gahling care, Khyber. They still have Leanda.”

      “Then make another trade,” I replied carefully lifting Samera up into my arms.

      “Where are you taking her?” Abelard cried stomping after me as I went into the Palace. “Don’t even think about caring for her! I’m going to kill her and then tie her body to the gates of the lower town so that those gahling peasants know I mean business.”

      “Touch a hair on her head and I will break your arm.” I snarled.

      Abelard must have known that I meant it because he didn’t follow after me.


      I had a doctor examine Samera and fortunately Abelard hadn’t done any serious damage. However, Samera had several bruised ribs, a black eye as well as numerous cuts and bruises. It was lucky that I had stopped Abelard when I had. I stayed by Samera’s bedside waiting until she woke up. Holding her hand I silently cursed Abelard. How could he be so cruel? Samera suddenly gripped my hand making me jump. Her left eye was so swollen that she couldn’t open it fully.

      “How are you feeling?” I asked.

      “Awful,” Samera replied, her voice raspy. “Where am I?” she turned her head and hissed in pain.

      “You’re in the Palace. The doctor left something for the pain.” pulling the bottle that the doctor had given me from my pocket I picked up a glass of water from the bedside table.

      Samera’s blue eye was fixed on the bottle. “Wait, what’s in it?”

      “Uh, I can’t remember.” I smiled sheepishly. The Doctor had said the ingredients but I had been too worried about Samera to pay any attention.

      “Can I please smell it?”

      Uncorking the bottle, I held it below Samera’s nose.

      She shook her head, wincing in pain. “No, that’s wrong. That will increase the swelling.”

      Impressed I raised an eyebrow. Samera could tell what was in it just by smelling it?

      “Can you get some herbs for me?” she asked before listing several names that I had to write down.

      I gave the list to a servant who disappeared to get the herbs.

      Stroking Samera’s cheek gently, I whispered. “I’m so sorry about Abelard. If only I had gotten there sooner.”

      “I’m just grateful that you got there when you did.” she replied. “Oh, I saw Princess Leanda, though only briefly. She didn’t look hurt.”

      I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank the Goddess. Why did they choose you?”

      “I’m a similar height and size. I’m so sorry that they took her, Khyber.”

      “Was it Kale?” I asked.

      Samera’s expression was grim. “Yes,”

      Soon after that the servant returned with the herbs and I watched as Samera worked. I had to help her because she was in so much pain but eventually we finished and Samera drank a mouthful of the green mixture.

      “And that will help with the pain?” I asked as Samera carefully lay back down.


      Taking her hand again I said. “Are there any side effects?”

      “My body temperature will be low for a while.”

      So that was why I spent the night in the bed with her. I don’t deny that being that close to Samera again wasn’t a thrill, but I couldn’t hold her too tightly for fear that I would hurt her.

      “Well this is a surprise. It looks like my baby brother is finally a man.”

      Blinking sleepy eyes, I lifted my head to find Abelard stood nearby. The flames in the fireplace had died but I could see Abelard in the light cast by the lantern on the bedside table. “What are you doing here?” I demanded, slipping out of the bed.

      Abelard seemed surprised that I was still fully clothed. “Couldn’t go through with it then?” he smirked.

      “Get out,” I growled, standing between him and Samera who was fast asleep.

      “No, I think I’ll stay. That peasant may not have been good enough for you but she’ll satisfy my needs.”

      Pushing him away I shook my head. “You’re disgusting. You’re not going anywhere near her.”

      “Why so protective, brother? There are plenty more little whores out there.” Abelard tried to get past me but I blocked his way.  

      I clenched my jaw. “She’s not a whore. Shouldn’t you be with your wife?”

      “She’s sickening.” Abelard pulled a face. “All she wants to do is please me.”

      “What’s wrong with that?”

      He looked amused. “You’re so pathetic. You think I want someone who is so innocent and clean? I want a filthy whore that does things that would make your brain explode.”

      Nauseous I glared at him. “You’re the one that’s sickening.”

      Abelard snorted. “I’m more of a man than you are.” he moved his face so that it was mere inches from mine. “When I’m with women they beg me to do things to them. Things you could never imagine. I bet your little whore would beg too. I’d make her squeal like a pig.”

      I punched Abelard and he staggered backwards clutching his nose. Chuckling to himself, Abelard left the room. I sighed in relief and turned to find Samera watching me. Her expression was unreadable and her lips were turning blue. Getting back into the bed I wrapped my arms around Samera and held her close.

      “You don’t owe me anything,” I told her before she could say a word.

      Samera pressed her lips to my cheek, making my heart skip a beat. “Thank you, Khyber.”

      I rubbed her back and closed my eyes.

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