His Hand
Chapter 1
By Captainkodak1

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ron steadied himself and stared back at the King.

"How could you? She was your own daughter!"

King James snarled.

"That girl is nothing but property to me, to be sold or traded off at the best and most profitable opportunity. Right now what is left of her is on the way to the King of Upperton. I may have to pay him for delivering a damaged product. But it wasn't her hand he wanted. The rest of her will work and look just fine. Now as for you! Man-at-Arms!"

Ron turned to see the Man-at-Arms giving the platter with the hand to another guard. He drew his sword as he approached Ron.

Ron dove out of the way and grabbed the lid of the tray and turned to face the Man-at-Arms. The warrior slashed at him as Ron used the lid as a shield. He drew the sword that was clipped to his side. It had been given to him by the Queen as he was getting dressed.

"This belonged to my father. He would be proud for you to wear it."

The Man-at-Arms swung at Ron again. He parried the blow and slammed the lid of the tray into the man's face. A resounding bong sounded through the room. When Ron pulled the lid back the man just stood there for a moment. His eyes crossed as he fell straight back to land with a clatter of armor.

"GET HIM!" King James screamed.

Ron glanced around and noticed an open window. The same window he and Kim played out of when they were little. What they did got Kim a whipping and a week locked in her room. He had to shovel out the stables for the same week. He ran for the window and jumped out hoping that the canopies were still used below the window. He fell several feet until he hit the first canopy. Ron felt safe but he quickly realized one thing. He weighed several more pounds than when he first tried this 10 years before.

He went straight through the canopies like a rock. Luckily they did slow him down as he landed at the bottom on a pile of straw. Ron crawled to his feet and ran for the front gate. He could hear orders being yelled from the window.

The horse he had used was standing still saddled by one of the markets waiting to be taken back to the stables. He climbed on and urged it into a gallop out the gate and into the countryside.

King James watched in anger as the young man escaped across the countryside. Screaming in anger he spun around.

"Call out the guards, two years wages to the man who kills Ron Stoppable and brings me his head."

Queen Anne walked up to her husband.

'SLAP"

King James face stung from the blow he just received.

"How could you your own daughter!"

King James grabbed her arm and threw her to the floor.

"Guards, put the Queen in the tower. She needs to remember her place. Baron, gather your troop and go after the boy, bring me his head."

King James looked around and beckoned the Baron closer. The King whispered something into the Baron's ear. He stepped back and stared at the King who nodded. Then Baron spun around and marched from the room.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ron stopped for a moment after running his horse for several miles. He pulled off to the side and stopped. Dismounting from the horse he opened one of the bags that were still on the back of the horse. A small smile spread across his face as a couple of extra pairs of clothes were still there. It took but a few moments to strip of the formal garb and back into his normal clothes. Rigging a sling for the sword he slung it over his shoulder. He practiced drawing it a couple of time and practiced putting it back without skewering himself several more times. He cut his clothes and his back a couple times before he learned to put the sword back safely. He never thought the sword games he and Kim played when they were little would help out so much. Kim had given him lessons in sword fighting as they got older. One of the older soldiers who was given retirement as a stable hand had joined in the lessons. The old soldier and Kim came to several quick realizations. Ron was lazy, not very smart at times, scared of about everything, but give him a sword and he could handle it as if born to it.

Ron climbed back on his horse and started off at a trot. There was only one road that could be used to reach the lands of Upperton and it was all uphill. Knowing how cheap the King was Ron figured they would only have two horses to pull the coach and they would have to stop to rest the horses from time to time. Ron also knew a back trail that would cut the distance he would have to travel. The trail ended at the last tavern along the road before entering the lands of Upperton. There were no other taverns for some leagues. He was positive that they would stop at the tavern. All he had to do is get there first.

There was one BIG problem. The trail went through one of the darkest forest in the lands and the trail was narrow. The forest was infested with all sort of biting and slimy insects as well as some rather nasty wolves and other creatures.

Ron looked down the trail. It was even darker than he ever remembered it. But Kim was in trouble and it was up to him to save her. In the past it was always the other way around. Ron was always falling in rivers or lakes, falling off a cliff or any other way to get hurt and Kim would always save him. Ron swallowed and urged his horse forward. The darkness of the woods enveloped him. Kicking his horse into a trot, he leaned forward over the horse's mane. Taking a good grip on the reigns he urged the horse into a gallop. Soon he just let the horse run with him hanging on.

----------------

The Royal coach creaked and groaned up the steep grade of the road. The driver cursed and brought out his whip driving the horses even harder. It reached the top of the grade and the driver pulled over into a meadow under the trees. He stomped on the floor under his feet.

"Got to let the horses rest."

The two soldiers got out and stretched. Crimden turned to his friend Castleby.

"How about the girl?"

Castleby just waved his hand.

"Just leave her. I am sure she will be getting her exercise after the King of Upperton marries her."

Crimden laughed.

"Yeah, I wouldn't mind giving her a piece of that action."

Castleby shook his head.

"With our luck King Darius would know his little prize had been plucked and tell Kim James. Then my friend we would find out a slow painful way to die."

Crimden shuddered.

"Yeah, still to get a piece of that action might be worth the risk."

The soldiers and the driver laughed and drank from the wineskin they carried with them.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kim tried to sit up but her ankles and wrists were still tightly bound. Her wedding dress was filthy and covered in Tara's blood. She had been surprised by her father's personal guards just after she had gotten dressed. Feet bound and mouth gagged she watched as one of the soldiers took pulled a heavy block of wood over to her. He pulled a piece of rope from his belt and tied her arm to it. Kim's eye grew large in horror as he drew his sword. Tara leaped across the room and covered Kim and her arm with her own body.

"Take my arm, but please leave the princess unharmed. I'll give you anything. My arm, money or my body, whatever you want to take."

The soldiers stood around and whispered for a moment. The one of the soldiers untied Kim's arm and bound her hands and arms together. Two others pushed Tara to the floor and tied her arm down. Kim and Tara's eye met when the thud of the sword blade sounded through the room. Tara screamed and passed out. Kim wretched herself free of her captors to fall on the floor next to Tara. The spreading pool of blood soaked her wedding dress. The two soldiers picked up Kim and started to drag her from the room.

"Wait" the first guard called.

He stepped over to Kim and yanked the ring from her finger. Another guard brought a red hot poker over to Tara and grabbed the stump of her arm. The guards took Kim from her room and down a secluded staircase to a coach waiting just inside the rear gate. As they had carried her down the stairs she heard Tara scream.

Tears flowed from her eyes as she heard the soldiers discussing the plans for the wedding and that she would be well on the way to King Darius before the wedding ceremony started. What pain would Ron feel when he saw that hand. The man she loved had always risked all to be with her and no matter how scared he was she was always at her side helping her. That was nothing compared to what her father might do to him.

The coach shook as the soldiers boarded again. Crimden leered as he reached down to run his hands all over her body. His groping hands followed her figure down her sides and below her waist. He pressed his hands between her legs and rubbed up and down. Kim shut her eyes and turned head. Crimden just laughed.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Darkness came to the forest early. Ron let the horse sense his way down the trail. The trees seemed to lean over to grab at him. Limbs tore at his body, his face, and his arms. His horse had settled down to a canter. Ron let him knowing that his horse would need to conserve his energy. There would be a meadow soon and a spring was in the meadow. At least he and the horse would be able to get a drink of water and maybe the horse could get a few bunches of grass.

As soon as he thought of the meadow, they burst out of the forest into the light of a full moon. The grass of the meadow lay glistening with dew and the trickle of water could be heard. Ron let the horse guide itself over to the stream and stoop to drink. Ron slid out of the saddle and lay on the gravel of the creek to get a drink of water himself. The cool water was refreshing as it traveled down his throat. Ron stood when he heard the howl of a wolf, followed by the howl of another. He reached behind his shoulder and pulled the sword out of the scabbard. Holding the sword in front of himself he watched as a number of wolves approached. The first attacked without pausing. Ron slashed and with a howl the creature fell to the ground. Two more drew close to the horse then one retreated as its companion lay in the dirt with a crushed skull courtesy of the horse's hooves.

Ron settled his thoughts as he turned to face the other wolves. The whole pack slowly circled Ron and his horse. Two of lay dead. Another one charged at Ron and slit it open as if leaped at him. Two more jumped toward the horse, which reared and caught one of the wolves in mid-air. The wolf howled as it fell to the ground. The other wolf slashed at the horses flanks with its teeth but the horse spun out of the way. It made the mistake of landing beside Ron. Within a split second it lay dead. Now the pack was down by several members. The alpha male stalked closer to Ron. Its eyes glowing brightly in the moonlight. A quick jump and a bound to one side fooled Ron and soon the wolf's hot breath was in his face. The weight of the creature knocked Ron on his back in the spring. The alpha male continued to snap at his throat. Ron blocked one bite with his arm and the wolf bit down hard on his arm. Ron screamed as the teeth cut through his coat and shirt and embedded in his arm. The wolf began to chew on his arm. Ron gritted his teeth and wrapped his legs around the wolf's back. He then let the wolf push his head closer. With a tortured howl Ron lunged with his arm upward with all his strength. With a wet snap, the wolf's neck broke. Ron pushed the dead animal off, picked up his sword and faced the rest of the pack. Leaderless, they disappeared into the woods.

Wincing, Ron mounted his horse and guided it back on the trail. He quickly urged the horse to a gallop. He hoped he would reach the tavern before the royal coach.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Crimden stepped out of the coach as it stopped in front of the tavern. He glanced up at the sign that was illuminated by the torches on each side of the door.

"Dark Forest Tavern, food and lodging."

Castleby stepped down and stretched.

"Go on inside and get us a room for the night. Then order some food."

Crimden pointed to Kim as she lay in the bottom of the coach.

"What about her?"

Castleby walked to the rear of the coach and opened a box. Reaching inside he pulled out a large blanket.

"Here, we'll wrap in this and just tell the owner it's a royal prisoner and if he wants to keep his head he'll mind his business and keep his mouth shut.."

Crimden approached the door of the coach, leaned in and grabbed Kim by her hair and pulled her head back. She groaned in pain under the gag.

"Now Princess, you will not struggle, or try to say anything or we'll deliver you to the King in whatever shaped we choose do you understand me?"

Kim slowly nodded.

Working together Crimden and Castleby wrapped her in the blanket and Castleby lifted her to his shoulder.

The driver opened the door of the tavern as they approached.

"The owner gave us the first room at the top of the stairs. Drop her up there and make sure she's tied good and tight. We'll get something to eat after that."

Castleby carried Kim up the stairs and dropped her on the bed. Pulling another length of rope from his belt bag he looped it through her hands and tied it to the headboard. He did the same with her feet. He bent over and grabbed her jaw turning her face to his.

"Now, you stay quiet or we'll just have to inspect the King's new prize and make sure nothing is wrong. Understand?"

Kim nodded.

"Good. Come on lads let's get something to eat."

Kim waited until they left the room. She struggled to pull at the ropes but they were too tightly tied. She laid her head back and began to silently weep. Tomorrow she would be delivered to that animal and life as she knew it would end and her nightmares would begin.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The three guards sat at the table nearest the fire as they ate and drank into the night. The servant boy continued to serve them as the night wore on. The hood on his head covered his face. It was not long until the driver had passed out as the other two continued to eat.

Alvin, the tavern owner called to his son.

"Dexter, go out make sure their horses are okay. I'll finish serving them."

The cloaked boy turned and left the room by the front door.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kim lay in the dim light given off by a single lantern hanging from the wall. Kim glanced around the room as she waited for the guards to return. She was sure the rest of the night would be very unpleasant.

There was a along rustling along one of the walls. A wall hanging started to move. Her eyes grew wide as a figure appeared from behind the heavy cloth. The figure slipped quietly across the room. She could not tell if it was a man or woman as its face was obscured by a hood. A sword hung in a scabbard over one shoulder.

The dark figure approached her and lifted its head to look at her. The weak light of the lamp illuminated a face. It was Ron. Kim nearly screamed until Ron put a finger to his lips. He pulled the hood back as Kim's face exploded into a smile beneath the gag. Ron pulled a knife from his boot and slashed at the ropes binding her. The ropes fell free and Kim sat up. Ron reached up and removed the gag. He opened his mouth to tell her something but found the air being sucked from his lungs by the kiss she was giving him. His ribs sent a message to his brain that unless some pressure was released they would not be responsible for him not breathing. Ron settled his arms around Kim and she relaxed.

Ron caught his breath for a moment and whispered. "Now that's what I call a greeting."

Kim smiled at him. "That's just a down payment."

Ron's hand shook as it gently took her left hand in his. "You okay? I mean…When I saw…."

Kim's hand caressed Ron's face. "I've been better. I can't imagine what you thought when you saw that hand."

Ron stammered for a moment. "Who…who…whose hand?"

Tears flooded Kim's face. "It was Tara. She jumped in the way. She offered herself in my place and all the money she had. I had to lay there as they…." She gestured to the dark stains on her gown.

Ron pulled her over into a hug.

"Was she okay?"

Kim shook her head. "I don't know. They drug me out of the room after that."

There were thudding foot steps coming up the steps. Kim recognized the voice as Crimden. A shadow appeared at the seam under the door.

"Get behind me!" Ron whispered.

Kim knelt down in the corner of the room behind Ron. He blew out the candle and the room fell dark. In the darkness Kim heard a scuffling then a whirring noise. She realized Ron had pulled out his slingshot and had it ready as Crimden came in the door.

The door crashed open and Crimden stood in the opening very drunk. He didn't have his helmet on or his armor.

"What the….." he bellowed.

Kim heard the whip crack of Ron slingshot and the thud of something hitting Crimden. He moaned and fell to the floor with a solid thud. He lay there motionless.

Ron motioned for Kim to follow him and he led her to the wall hanging. There behind the cloth was an opening in the rock wall. The tavern owner's real son stood there beckoning to them. Ron helped Kim through the hole when he heard the sound of a sword being drawn from its scabbard. He spun around to see Castleby standing in the door with his sword drawn. He like his friend had taken off his helmet and his armor.

"Well now, the brats little hero actually got out of the castle alive. I bet the King has a handsome price on your head. After I take care of you I'm sure going to take 'good' care of the little princess."

Ron pushed Kim through the hole as the wall hanging fell to the floor. He turned and drew his sword from its scabbard across his back. He slipped into a defensive position and stood in front of the hole. The tavern owner's son tried to pull Kim away until she punched him in the face. She turned back to see Castleby leap toward Ron swinging his sword. Ron parried the blow, spun low and slashed at Castleby stomach. Castleby barely dodged the blow.

The two slowly circled one another in the darkness of the room. The light from the door illuminated the room in a single beam of light. Castleby slipped to the side and brought down his sword toward Ron's head. Ron's sword rang as it blocked the blow. They continued to circle on another trading blow for blow.

Castleby smiled. "Maybe I can tell the King that you came in and the two of you were killed in the fight. I will be sure to enjoy myself before I kill….."

Castleby never finished his sentence. Ron dodged to his right, then ducked a drove his sword up. A squelching noise indicated that his blow had struck home. Castleby looked down at Ron and the blade driven deep into his stomach. His mouth moved for a second, and then he slumped to the ground.

Ron pulled the sword out of the man and sat on the floor. Kim crawled back through the hole and gathered him in her arms. He was gasping for air as he sat there. A scrape at the door announced the arrival of the tavern owner, an old mace in his hand.

"You won't have to worry about the driver."

Ron stood and helped Kim to her feet.

"We need to get out of here."

Kim nodded.

"I know but I really need to change." She indicated the dress she was wearing.

The tavern owner's wife appeared at the door.

"You come with me. I've got just the thing for you."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ron stood in front of the fire packing a couple of bags. The tavern owner brought over another pair of saddlebags and laid them on the table.

"Here you go lad. You have plenty of food and some extra cloths. I would advise you taking the path to the low meadows. The King is surely going to be looking for you. I think you two should head for the lands of Lowerton. I am sure that he would be happy to give both of you protection."

"No, we can't run. Ron we have to go back. Even if it is just to get mom. I can't leave her. Surely there are those who will help us. Besides you and I know most if not all the secret passages in the castle. We can get in get mom and get out."

Ron turned to face Kim voice. He stopped and swallowed.

Kim was standing there wearing a pair dark pants tucked into high leather boots. A light colored long sleeved shirt was covered by a jerkin vest. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and tied off with a strip of leather. The blade of a knife jutted out of one boot. The one thing Ron noticed was how tight some of her clothing was.

Kim noticed Ron's expression as she walked up to him and gave him a little kiss.

"Their son donated some clothes to me and he is a little smaller than I. So wake up Ronnie; we need to get out of here."

Ron picked up the saddlebags.

"Right KP! You look great by the way. We will have to get you some more clothed like that."

Kim blushed a bit as she reached for another one of the bags as she followed him out the door.

The tavern owner's son was holding two horses in the light of the torches. Ron placed one of the saddlebags on his horse and handed the other to Kim. Kim turned to place it on her horse when the jangle of armor came to her ears. Out of the darkness rode a semi-circle of lightly armored soldiers. Their swords and lances glistened in the light of the torches. The leader dismounted and strode toward the pair. Two others came up behind Kim and Ron and grabbed them pinning their arms behind their backs. The leader stood tall over them both. Kim gasped. Their tunics bore the markings of her father's royal guard.

The officer strode up to Ron and pointed at Kim.

"Did you touch her?"

Ron grimaced as the soldier behind him lifted on his arms.

"Of course I touched her. I had to untie her didn't I? Besides I love her and she loves me."

The leader motioned to the soldier behind Ron. He lifted Ron up and forced him to walk over to the chopping block where the tavern owner cut wood."

Two other soldiers came forward and pulled Ron's arm from behind his back. The other soldier forced Ron to his knees as his arm was held down on the chopping block.

Kim screamed. "NO LET HIM GO. Take me to the land of Upperton but let him go."

The leader of the men shook his head. "No princess, I have orders from the King. He told me what to do if the boy touched you."

"Nooo…" Kim's scream was cut off as the soldier behind her cover her mouth with his hand. Kim tried to bite his hand but the heavy leather gauntlet was too thick.

The officer pulled his sword from it's scabbard and steadied himself over Ron's arm. He turned his head and nodded to one of the mounted soldiers.

"Ride back to the castle as fast as you can. Tell the King that he will receive the head of the boy and the hand that touched his daughter as soon as we deliver the Princess to the King of Upperton. We shall return in three days."

The soldier started to ride off down the trail. As he rode off into the night the solid thunk of the sword hitting the chopping block was heard along with the screams of the Princess and the boy.

He urged his horse on as he thought.

'Too bad I could not stay to see the boy chopped to pieces as the Princess watched.'

A small smile crossed the soldier's face as he continued the think.

'The King will be pleased with the news. Maybe he will grant a favor or two in celebration.'

The screams continued from the courtyard of the tavern until one was abruptly silenced.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, you asked for it and you got it, a continuation of "Her Hand". The plot to this story has been swishing around in my mind ever since I posted "Her Hand". More plot ideas came with each day and I kept putting them all together. The plan for this fiction was to be a one-shot. However, when I reached 12 pages and I was only ¾ of the way through what I wanted to do I decided to cut it short and stop where I did. The title came to me as a smile spread across my face. I was sure just the name of the story would catch your eye. I think I may turn this one around pretty quick and get the second chapter up.

As always as most of the time I forget to say. KP and crew are owned by the Disney company. I don't own anything but the idea for this story.

Please leave a review. I promise I will try hard to reply.

This is the Captain

Over and out

Right hand salute