Amarisa picked up her basket and followed Carla out to the garden. Summer was waning and harvest time had arrived. Carla was picking vegetables and Amarisa gathered herbs and lavender for her healing potions. Godrick paid a visit to town, taking Corin with him. Conan and Connor left earlier that morning on a hunting trip. Connor was eight years old now. Old enough to learn how to hunt for game according to Conan. Amarisa wasn't so sure as she watched father and son ride away. She had tried to discuss the subject at length with Conan after they retired to bed last evening. "I don't know Conan, Are you certain he is ready for so big a step?" Conan put his arms around Amarisa and pulled her close. He slipped her nightgown off her shoulder and began to place flirtatious kisses on her soft skin.
"Woman, this night would be better served making love instead of conversation. Besides Connor has already hunted rabbits. The last time I took him camping he killed two fat ones without any help from me. I helped Connor skin the rabbits and we roasted them over the fire. His skills with a bow amaze me. You know I keep a watchful eye on him at all times."
"Conan, you're Connor's father and the best guide for his journey into manhood but does he have to grow up so fast? He's only eight…"
Conan lay on his back and listened to Amarisa's maternal concerns about her first born. I have found a good woman to love me and be a nurturing mother to our children. Life is as it should be. Conan's mother died as he was being born. He thought about her often and wondered how different his life might have been had both his father and mother raised him to be an adult. Conan decided he would have become what he is now. A Cimmerian by blood and a warrior by necessity.
"Conan, are you listening to me?"
"Yes Amarisa. I've heard every word you've said. Have you decided if I can take Connor hunting tomorrow?"
"Connor would be very angry with me if I tried to stop the two of you from enjoying your time together. I think he has the whole trip planned from the time you leave, where you will make camp for the night, and when you'll return. I won't break his heart or his spirit just because I worry too much."
Conan pulled Amarisa back into his arms. "You have the gift of sight as far as your sons and I are concerned. If you felt danger was present I would heed your warning. All mothers worry about their children. It is a habit born out of love. I expect nothing less from you."
"I just want what is best for you and…" Conan silenced Amarisa's words with an intense kiss.
"What is best for me at this moment is to make love to the warm and willing woman I'm holding in my arms. Of course if you are not interested in my lustful advances we could just go to sleep." Conan next thought was to tease Amarisa again. "Or maybe you hesitate because another man has caught your eye while I was away."
Amarisa giggled. "The minute you ride away a long line of suitors appears at the front door."
Conan started to laugh but the disturbing image of Amarisa with another man flashed through his mind. He would leave her for weeks at a time but she never complained about his wanderlust. She loved him and put no conditions on that love. He was overcome with a savage desire to make love to her. Conan senses were overwhelmed with a hunger to take her hard and fast. He wanted her to rake her nails across his back and scream his name. Needing to feel her body writhe beneath his and yearning to hear her beg him to stop and then beg him for more. He would hold nothing back and take her breath away with the passion he'd felt for his woman alone. His emotions were pressing at the floodgates of his heart. Conan was desperate to show Amarisa how deeply her cared for her. He was certain that she'd never want another man in her life as long as he was her husband and her lover. Conan wanted to hear her say that he was the only man she would take to her bed for his own peace of mind.
Conan's breathing became heavy, his need urgent and looking at his wife he could not stop himself. Pushing her onto her back, hovering his mouth close to hers, the sweet smell of his breath filled Amarisa's nostrils. The intensity of his gaze set her heart racing, she knew what was coming, she had seen that look before…. the look of passion…heat…. lust…and all the things she loved about her husband. The wildness in Conan's eyes stabbed her heart; this man drove her to distraction. The grip of his large hands ripped at her gown causing her to gasp suddenly. Her naked breast revealed made Conan groan. Moving his mouth down to suck on her nipple, his heated breaths danced across her flesh. Amarisa let out a whimper as the first touch of his lips against her skin sent shivers through her body. She watched her lover as his mouth puckered around her nipple. He was beautiful and every movement he made sent her to oblivion. A quick flash of his tongue licked at the sensitive button, making her sigh. Amarisa leaned her head back to enjoy the attention from her mate. Pushing her body against his mouth and winding her fingers into his hair she encouraged his playing. He knew how to set her flesh alight with fever…he could make her body quiver uncontrollably with only the slightest touch of his sensual mouth…and he knew it. His devilish smile greeted Amarisa as she raised her head to look at him. Her fingers were still tangled in his hair and Amarisa pulled her lover close to kiss him. Her hunger for the taste of his lips against hers overwhelmed her. Conan pressed himself against her as he leaned in for the killer kiss. His length ached to be inside her. When his lips made contact with hers, he let out a groan. Forcing his tongue deep into her mouth before removing it quickly, Conan teased his woman. Her mouth lunged towards him to take hold of the hard muscle that had invaded her so wantonly…but he pulled too far away for her to reach him. Removing Amarisa's hands from his hair then raising himself to a kneeling position, he flashed a glance over her half naked body. Raising her hands above her head, Amarisa touched her fingers to the headboard. She stared hard at Conan as she raised her leg, her bare thigh becoming visible. Conan let out a long breath and moved his hands beneath her gown, slowly. His fingers spread across her soft skin, and while his hands were rough, his touch was light. Neither of them broke eye contact as his hands continued to roam beneath the fabric. Amarisa mewled as he reached her hips with his exploring fingertips. She tried to be patient but her need to feel him touch her intimately overwhelmed her. "Touch me" she begged. Conan love to hear her make demands…it fuelled his desire greatly. He loved to hear her soft voice whisper his name when he was deep inside her. "Tell me what you want" he asked as his fingertip grazed across the soft curls of her woman's mound. Amarisa's grip on the iron bars of the headboard tightened, her hips bucked and she whined softly. "I want you…my love…I want you deep inside me". Conan's cock twitched as the last words left Amarisa's lips. He brushed against her wetness with his thumb. Raking it gently between the soft folds, he teased her sensitive nub. Amarisa gasped and pushed against him. "More" she begged further. Conan gave in to her demands…but only briefly…he wanted her on the edge…he didn't want her satisfied just yet. As Amarisa panted her pleasure, her body twitched, she wanted to have release. Conan ceased his teasing. Amarisa sighed. Both hands stroked his cock; the wetness of his lust covered his crown. Palming himself he watched Amarisa. "Do you want me woman?" he asked, slowly stroking himself, tongue peeked out the corner of his mouth and licked across his lip. "Always". Amarisa answered, her eyes stared hard at Conan's, hoping he would give in to her soon. Conan's movements were fast. Releasing his hands from his ache, they quickly pushed up Amarisa's gown to her waist. Leaning over her, resting on his arms, he nudged her thighs farther apart with his knees. Instantly Amarisa reached for him, her hands wrapped around his length to guide him. Conan pressed against her wetness, the tip of his crown teetered at the entrance to her sex. The heated breaths from his mouth filled Amarisa's as he slanted his lips across hers. Amarisa reached both hands around her lover's cheeks and dug her fingers into the soft flesh. Hard…. deep…. with purpose and meaning Conan gave into his wife's demands. Amarisa cried out, her exclamation spilled into Conan's mouth. His own groans melted with hers as the intensity of his action made his gasp. "Crom!" Amarisa wrapped her legs around Conan; spurring his ass with her heels she encouraged him deeper and harder. As Conan slammed himself hard against his lover the bed shook. Amarisa reached her hands to the headboard to brace herself. The hard thrusts of her husband were pushing her higher. Gripping hold of the iron bars she could push back against his heat. Grunting loudly Conan gave Amarisa what she had begged for. His need was great too…. the feel of her sex… hot and wet made his cock tingle. He had never made love with any other woman the way he had to Amarisa. While he took women for pleasure when he was younger…the passion had never been as intense as it was with her. He loved her unconditionally; he needed her…he could not live without her. Watching her as he drove inside her he concentrated his movements. Making sure he pleased her he jabbed faster and less deep. Amarisa released one hand from the bars of the headboard and touched her fingers to Conan's mouth. "Yes…yes my love" Conan encouraged, slowed his thrusts. Pressing against her mound his drives became less as he brushed against her. Deep within her core Amarisa's climax began. Tingling inside, her muscles tightened. Conan's cock filled every inch of her perfectly. Her body jerked as the wonderful sensation began to spread through her sex. Moving her hand to her lovers head her fingers gripped his hair. Gasps spilled from her mouth, drowning any groans from Conan as the delirium overtook her. "Conan…Conan!" Amarisa bucked against her man. His climax began as hers began to wane. Deep and hard he couldn't stop his hips. His body twitched violently…the force of his orgasm intense. Ramming himself deeper he groaned out his orgasm as it shook his body. His arms were beginning to give way as he struggled to keep himself upright. Amarisa reach her hand to his cheek, pulling him against her, ensuring his last few moments of pleasure as he collapsed against her body.
Later that night Amarisa had a vision. The images disrupted her sleep. She could see
Carla being held against her will by a faceless stranger. He was threatening her life. Amarisa couldn't see the man's face clearly. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the intruder's face but it remained a blur. Amarisa saw only Carla and the outlander, no one else. Amarisa hoped she would be at Carla's side if the dream came to pass but Amarisa couldn't picture her own destiny. She would have to abide until the events became a reality. She didn't have to wait very long.
Amarisa was putting herbs in her basket when Carla came running from the other side of the garden. She grabbed Amarisa by the arm and pointed toward the road. She heard the pounding of horse's hoofs as five heavily armed soldiers came into view. One soldier was leading a saddled horse with no rider. Amarisa knew escape was impossible when one of the men pointed them out to the soldier leading the group. They drew rein in front of the garden and the lead man dismounted and walked toward the women. He removed his helmet and looked directly at Amarisa. "Which one of you is Amarisa the healer?"
Carla stepped forward placing herself between Amarisa and the soldier. "Who wants to know?'
"My name is Talon. I'm Captain of the guard and emissary to Savan, King of the lands beyond the Nine Rivers. I seek Amarisa the healer."
"Amarisa is not here. She went to town with my husband and her youngest son. They won't return until late."
Talon smirked at Carla and walked past her. He removed his gloves and ran his fingers through Amarisa's hair. "Hair the color of obsidian, eyes that mirror a rain soaked sky. You're a woman of great beauty, Lady Amarisa."
Amarisa looked at Carla and her realized the meaning of her vision. She had to get Carla away from these men. "Carla why don't you go to the house and fetch some mead for the Captain and his men. They are probably thirsty from their long ride."
Carla started to leave but Talon stopped her. "A cup of mead would quench my thirst. With your permission, we'll go to your house to rest and prepare for our trip back." Talon picked up Amarisa's basket and offered her his arm. "Lead the way my lady."
Amarisa took her basket from Talon and walked toward the house. "Why don't you tell me the reason for your visit Captain."
"King Savan's son Prince Vander is very sick. He was playing a game of catch with his cousins when ball went over his head and rolled by a dead tree. As Vander reached for the ball he stuck his hand into a nest of venomous spiders. He was bitten many times and fell ill."
"Doesn't your King have healers in his kingdom?"
"Yes my lady, but none as skillful as you in the healing arts. King Savan bids you to come and heal his son."
Amarisa shook her head. "I will gladly supply you with any of my healing balms to aid in the Prince's recovery but I can't go with you Captain."
"You don't have a choice my lady; King Savan commands that you return with me to heal his son."
"Savan is not my king and he does not have rule over me or my home! Besides my husband and son are due to arrive home very soon."
Talon gave Amarisa a knowing smile. "My spy tells me a different story."
Spy? What spy?"
"The beggar you took into your home this morning. You fed him breakfast. He was one of my men in disguise. Your husband and son will not return until sometime tomorrow. On a hunting trip I believe. I was told your husband, as you call him, is Conan the Cimmerian. We heard that you brought him back from the brink of death. Conan has passed through my homeland. He has friends there and he has bragged about your expertise, your beauty, and that you're his woman. Apparently his tongue is loosened by strong ale. When the prince fell ill one of Conan's friends came to the castle and, for a price, told the king all about you. We tried to bring the prince to you but he was too weak. He is at the King's summerhouse about two days ride from here. Collect your supplies Amarisa. You are coming with us."
"You cannot compel me to go anywhere Captain!"
"Don't force me to do something you'll regret my lady." Talon's men were sitting around the kitchen table drinking the mead Carla had served them. Talon nodded to one of his soldiers. The man jumped up, grabbed Carla around the waist and held a knife to her neck. "Gather what you need my lady, we're leaving and you are coming with us."
"It seems you have the upper hand at the moment Captain." Amarisa grabbed a haversack that was hanging by the kitchen door and went to her pantry to select what she would need to heal the prince. Putting the bag on the kitchen table Amarisa walked to her bedroom and slipped her healing stone around her neck. Returning to the kitchen, she picked up an empty wineskin and started out the door. Talon followed her. "Where are you going Lady Amarisa?"
"To my well to get some of my healing water. I'll be right back. Have someone saddle my horse Captain."
"We brought a horse with us. He is saddled and ready. I'll put your bag and wineskin in my saddlebags. Are you ready to go?"
"Yes I'm ready. Allow me to say goodbye to Carla. I would like a word with her in private."
Talon motioned his men to mount up. "You may say goodbye but not in private. I'll be standing in the doorway so don't try anything foolish."
Amarisa hugged Carla and whispered in her ear. "Tell Conan, Connor, and Corin that I love them more than life itself. Make sure Connor stays here when Conan comes searching for me. Tell my love that the prince is at the King's summerhouse two days ride from here. Conan will find a way to bring me home." She hugged Carla tightly and followed Talon outside. He bound Amarisa's hands together with a length of rope and set her on the horse. Talon slipped her feet into the stirrups. He mounted his horse and tied the reins of Amarisa's horse to his saddle horn. "Hold on tight Lady Amarisa, we'll be riding like wildfire." Talon kicked his mount in the flanks and the soldiers with Amarisa in tow galloped down the road away from the farm. Carla stood in the kitchen doorway, tears running down her cheeks. There will be hell to pay when Conan finds out Amarisa has been abducted. They'll be digging a lot of graves in King Savan's kingdom.
They rode at a furious pace for hours. Talon wanted to put as many miles between them and Conan as possible. Conan's reputation was well known and if he had to cross swords with the Cimmerian, Talon wanted to be in familiar surroundings. Only a fool would consider Conan an unworthy adversary and Talon was not in the habit of making foolish mistakes.
Amarisa was bone-weary from the jarring pace of the ride. The saddle on her horse was made for a man and she had to grip hard with her knees to keep her balance. Amarisa wondered if they would stop for the night or continue on in the darkness. Talon glanced back at Amarisa and seeing the fatigue on her face, he pulled back on the reins and stopped his horse. Talon called to one of his men. "Hadrian, ride ahead and find a suitable place to stop for the night. Lady Amarisa is exhausted and too many wild beasts seek their prey at night. We'll wait here."
Amarisa gave Talon a faint smile. "Thank you Captain, it has been a long, tiring day to say the least."
"I wish you'd call me by my first name instead of referring to me as Captain."
"I prefer to keep to the formalities for now Captain. Only friends call each other by their first names and while we are not on friendly terms, I'll treat you with the respect your rank deserves. Although I don't agree with your actions, I understand that you are following the edicts of your king."
"I appreciate your kind words my lady, but I hope to change your feelings toward me." I want you to fall in love with me. I'd be a better husband to you than that Barbarian scum.
"I don't think that will be possible. We are destined to be polite enemies." Amarisa noticed a damp stain on the right side of Talon's tunic. "Captain, do you have an open wound? I see fresh blood on your tunic."
"It's nothing my lady. I was sparring with a new recruit and he landed a lucky blow with his sword. It will heal in time."
"When we make camp I'd like to take a look at it. Large or small, an infected wound can poison your blood and cause you an excruciating death and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy." Amarisa gave Talon a slight smile. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Riding to the clearing Hadrian found the group made camp for the night. Talon lifted Amarisa gently off her horse and, folding a blanket to use as a cushion, he made her a comfortable seat on a tree stump. The soldiers gathered wood and started a large bonfire to keep any wild animals at bay. Talon untied Amarisa's hands and gave her some bread, cheese, and dried meat for supper. He brought her a cup of fresh water from a stream close to the camp. Amarisa thanked him and began to eat. She hadn't eaten since breakfast and hunger gnawed at her stomach. Finishing her meal Amarisa asked if she could go to the stream and wash her hands and face. "I want to look at your wound after I wash up Captain. I'll need my supplies from your saddlebag and something to warm some water in so I can cleanse the area. Remove your tunic and sit by the fire. I'll attend to you in a minute."
Talon started after Amarisa. She turned and faced him. "You don't have to follow me Captain. I won't run away. You have my word of honor. I'd just get lost in the dark and I don't wish to become dinner for some stalking lion. Please fetch your saddlebag and go sit by the fire. I'll be right back."
Talon took Amarisa's supplies out of his saddlebag and sat by the fire. Amarisa joined him and opened her haversack. "Take off your tunic and turn toward the fire so I can tend to your wound." He slipped his tunic over his head and showed her the laceration.
"It's nothing my lady. I have suffered worse."
Amarisa pressed against the wound and Talon winced in pain. "It's nothing you say."
Talon smiled at her. "It's a bit tender that's all."
You're very lucky Captain; I don't see any sign of infection so it shouldn't take long for the gash to mend." Amarisa dipped a clean cloth into a small pot of warm water and began to wash the affected area. She noticed Talon's features for the first time. He was a very attractive man. He had long hair the color of ripe wheat and crystal blue eyes. He stood about six foot two inches tall with a lean frame. The muscles of his chest and arms were well defined. A body honed by battle. He had the scars to prove it. Just like Conan.
Amarisa applied a balm to the wound. She wrapped a bandage around his torso and tied it tight. "I'll apply more balm tomorrow and it should heal nicely." She put her jars back into the saddlebag. "You can put your tunic on Captain. I'm finished."
Talon thrilled at her gentle touch on his fire-warmed skin. Her beauty captivated him. Her skin glowed in the flame's reflection. Talon wanted to run his hands through her long black hair, kiss her lips, and feel her body against his. His length started to swell at the thought of making love to her. I have to find a way to make this woman my own. Amarisa's voice broke his trance-like state.
"Captain did you hear me? You can put your tunic on."
"Forgive me my lady, my thoughts were elsewhere."
Amarisa smiled. "Thinking of your wife perhaps?"
Talon pulled his tunic over is head. "I'm not married nor am I courting anyone at the moment my lady."
"Don't you want to have children?"
Talon picked up his saddlebags and put them over his shoulder. "I have a son, he's six and a daughter, and she's four. Two different mothers though. You don't have to be married to bring children into the world my lady."
Amarisa thought of the night she and Conan gave life to Connor. "You're right Captain, marriage is not necessary in order to conceive a child. I wasn't married to Conan when I became pregnant with my oldest son. I'm surprised a man of your station in life hasn't taken a wife."
"A soldier's life is hard. It doesn't leave me much time for home and hearth. Besides I've never found a woman that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with." Until the moment I met you my lady.
"What about one of the women who gave birth to your children?"
Talon grinned at Amarisa. "They are good mothers and I enjoy bedding them but I don't want to marry them. I need a woman who I can present at court. I don't wish to sound arrogant but I'm in the king's service and have to make a good impression at palace functions. You would look exquisite in a lavender gown dancing at one of the king's banquets, Lady Amarisa."
"I thank you for your gracious words Captain, but I don't intend to stay in your homeland for very long. I want to heal the prince and return to my family and my home. I miss them already."
"When you see how beautiful my country is, you may change your mind my lady."
Amarisa frowned at Talon. "I doubt that Sir. Nothing could entice me away from my husband and children." She wanted to change the tone of the conversation. She didn't like what Talon was inferring. Does he think I'd give up the people I love most in this world to reside in a land foreign to me? I'd better watch my step. The familiarity in his speech is making me uneasy. Amarisa stifled a yawn. "Captain, with your kind permission, I'd like to rest now. I'm very tired and could use some sleep. We have another long day on horseback tomorrow."
"Forgive me my lady. I know this has been a long and tiring trip. I promise you this ordeal will end soon. I've had a sleeping mat prepared for you. Come with me." He offered Amarisa his arm.
Amarisa decided it was best to be cooperative and cordial toward Talon. She knew he held her life in the palm of his hand. Making an enemy of Talon was foolhardy at most. Amarisa was safe as long as Prince Vander had need of her expertise. She was confident in her healing arts and knew if she reached the boy in time she could reverse the effects the spider's venom. Amarisa hoped she could exchange the prince's cure for an escort home. King Savan would have no need for her after that. Then a comforting thought crossed her mind. Conan will come for me as soon as he finds I've been spirited away against my wishes. Amarisa put her hand on Talon's arm. "Lead the way Captain."
Talon woke Amarisa at first light. Rising from the sleeping mat, she was stiff and sore from the long ride on a galloping horse and sleeping on the cold ground. Talon gave her some fresh fruit and water for breakfast. She ate while the soldiers broke camp and saddled the horses. She walked to the stream to wash the sleep from her eyes. Talon called to her. "Come my lady it's time we were on our way." He lifted her onto her horse and bound her hands together with some rope.
Amarisa protested. "I gave you my word I wouldn't run away Captain. You don't need to tie my hands again."
Talon looked up at Amarisa. "You made that promise in the dark of night. Now that it's daylight, you might be tempted to try and escape. I wish I could trust you my lady, but I think it best to err on the side of caution." Talon signaled his men to mount their horses and they were off to King Savan's summerhouse at breakneck speed. Amarisa glanced over her shoulder several times hoping to see Conan riding after them but she was aware that he and Connor hadn't returned home from their hunting trip yet. She prayed Conan would find her before it was too late. Hurry my love. Do what is necessary to bring us together once more. My life would be empty without you and our sons by my side.