Stolen Treasures – Chapter Three

As Talon lead Amarisa to the Great Hall where King Savan was waiting, she couldn't help but admire the opulent furnishings of the summerhouse. Heavy oak chairs with ornate carvings and gilding, tapestries that covered the walls, velvet brocade drapes, and stained glass windows. Shields with the king's coat of arms hung over the mantle of an imposing stone fireplace. This is indeed a grand home. Talon noticed that Amarisa was impressed by the splendid décor. "You belong in a mansion as magnificent as this my lady."

"It's a lovely home Captain, but too large for my taste. I prefer my cottage, as does my family. My home is filled with love and not expensive furniture. My wish for you sir, is that you find a great love one day."

If everything goes according to my plan, you'll be my great love Amarisa. Talon stopped in front of the open doors of the Great Hall. Two soldiers stood guard, one on each side of the huge double doors. "King Savan will be pleased that you are here my lady. Shall we go in?"

Amarisa peered into the room. "I doubt I've a choice in the matter."

Talon escorted Amarisa in the hall. It was filled with trestle tables and benches. The only chairs were three thrones on a stone dais at the far end of the chamber. King Savan rose as they entered and greeted Talon. "It's good to see you my trusted friend. I see your mission was successful."

Talon knelt before the King. 'Your Majesty, may I present the Lady Amarisa. She has come to heal your son."

King Savan motioned for Amarisa to step forward. He raised her right hand to his lips and kissed it lightly. Savan was an attractive man. He was taller than Talon with long black hair and deep green eyes. "I'm overjoyed to see you Lady Amarisa."

"Forgive me for not sharing your joy Sire, but I was brought here against my will."

"Please understand my actions were borne out of desperation my lady. Vander is my only son. I'd go to any lengths to save his life."

Amarisa looked deep into Savan's eyes. "I appreciate the love a parent has for their child. I'm the mother of two sons Your Majesty and it breaks my heart to be separated from them."

"Heal my son Lady Amarisa and I'll give you anything your heart desires."

"My one request is to be returned to my home and family. That's my only wish King Savan. Give me your promise and I'll heal your son. If not then have Talon slit my throat for I won't lift a finger to help Prince Vander. You see, I too will go to any lengths for my husband and sons. Do we have an accord Sire?" Defiance flashed in Amarisa's eyes.

"It was never my intention to hold you here Madame. I'll send you home with a full escort just as soon as my son's life is out of danger and he's on the road to recovery. You have my promise and my word as a gentleman."

"Then take me to your son Sire." Talon took the haversack and wineskin from Amarisa

"Allow me to carry your medications. Queen Beatriz is anxiously awaiting your arrival my lady."

"Let's not keep the Queen or the Prince waiting any longer than necessary gentlemen."

King Savan offered Amarisa his arm. Talon leads the way as they hurried Amarisa to Vander's room. The door was open and the Queen was pacing the floor. Alice, the queen's lady-in-waiting was wiping Vander's forehead with a cool cloth trying to break the fever. Seeing Amarisa, the queen rushed to embrace her. "Lady Amarisa, thank you for coming. My son is very sick and close to death. I beg you please help him before it's too late."

King Savan put his arm around his wife. "My lady, this is my wife Queen Beatriz."

The queen was a dazzling woman. Her long black hair was in a thick braid that hung down her back and her hazel eyes sparkled. She was about a foot shorter than the King and her body was slender and delicate. The queen wore a dark blue velvet dress with delicate birds and flowers embroidered in fine gold thread. She took Amarisa by the hand and accompanied her to the prince's bed. Vander was the exact image of his father, black hair and green eyes though his eyes were glazed with fever. Just as Connor mirrors Conan.

Alice moved away from the bed and turned her gaze on Talon. She went to his side. "Talon I'm so glad to see you've returned safely. She noticed the dried stain on his tunic. "Have you been injured? Does the wound need tending?"

"Lady Amarisa ministered to my wound. It has completely healed Lady Alice, but I thank you for your concern."

Alice touched Talon on the arm. "I'm sure you're hungry after your long journey. Would you like me to get you something to eat?" She could see all of Talon's attention was focused on Amarisa. Alice had been in love with Talon since her entrance to the Queen's service two years ago. Her hair was the color of fine silver and her eyes were a sparkling blue. She had tried everything to get Talon to notice her but he seemed to look right through her.

Amarisa sensed Alice's love for Talon immediately. What a fool. He has love staring him right in the face. How can he not see it? She turned back to the prince and touched his forehead. He was on fire with a high fever. Amarisa opened her haversack and went to work. "Queen Beatriz, I require a silver goblet and bowl and some cleans cloths, then the curtains need to be closed, and I need everyone to leave the room." Talon cleared his throat and started to speak but Amarisa knew what his concerns would be. "Captain I vow I won't try to escape. Put guards on the windows and the door if it will ease your mind. Now everyone leave, time is of the utmost importance if I'm to heal the boy."

The Queen sent Alice to fetch the goblet, bowl, and cloths then touched Amarisa on the shoulder. "Please allow me to stay. I wish to be with my son no matter the outcome."

"Will you be caring for your son after I leave Your Majesty or will your lady-in waiting be put in charge of his recovery?"

"He is my son. I'll be his nurse after you have gone Amarisa. I'll provide for his every need."

"Then you may stay. I'll teach you how to use my healing balms and water so you may nurse him back to health." Alice returned and gave Amarisa the cup, bowl and cloths. "Everyone leave, the Queen, the Prince, and I have a long night ahead of us."

King Savan, Talon, and Alice walked from the room and closed the door behind them. Queen Beatriz drew the curtains shutting all the light from the room. Amarisa lit two candles and placed them on the nightstands by Vander's bed. She opened her wineskin pouring the water into the bowl and cup. Dipping a cloth into the bowl, she washed the area when the spiders had bitten the prince. Amarisa applied her healing balm to the bites and gestured to the queen. "Lift his head for me. He has to drink all of the water in this cup." Queen Beatriz held Vander's head as Amarisa put the cup to his mouth and slowly poured the water into the prince's mouth stroking his throat so he could swallow. "Lay him back down Your Majesty." Amarisa took a new cloth, dipped it into the bowl and rang out the excess water. She laid it across the Prince's forehead. Removing her healing stone from her neck Amarisa placed it over Vander's heart. Amarisa placed her right hand over her necklace and began to chant her spirit messages. A purple glow emitted from the stone and the room was bathed in its light. Vander began to sweat as the fever was being forced from his body. "Your Majesty, take the cloth from his forehead and dip it in the bowl. Sponge the prince's face with fresh water. The fever is starting to break. Keep him as cool as possible." Amarisa continued to chant while the Queen followed her instructions. An hour passed before the chanting stopped and Amarisa felt Vander's cheek. It was cool to the touch. "The fever has broken your majesty. He needs to drink more water." The queen filled the cup from the wineskin while Amarisa lifted his head. "I want you to give him the water Your Majesty. He needs to feel his mother's touch. Bring a chair to his bedside. I want your face to be the first thing he sees when he awakens."

"Please call me Beatriz, Lady Amarisa. You've saved my son's life. Formality is not necessary between friends."

"Thank you Beatriz. Now your son will rest and begin to recover. When he opens his eyes, his healing will be complete. We need to…Conan." Amarisa darted to the furthest window in the room and pushed open the curtain. She peered into the darkness. Where are you my husband? I know you are close.

"What is wrong Amarisa? What are you looking for?"

"It's nothing Beatriz. I thought I heard something outside. Have Alice go to the king and tell him the prince is out of harm's way."

King Savan and Talon sat in the king's bedchamber waiting for news about the Prince. Talon heard rapid knocking and opened the door. Alice entered and went to the king's side. She curtsied. "Your Majesty, I bring glad tidings. Your son has come through the crisis. His fever has broken and he's resting comfortably."

King Savan lowered his head and ran his hands through his hair. "Tell the Queen I'll be right there." He grabbed Talon by the shoulders. "Did you hear my friend? My son is going to get well. I don't know how to repay you for all you've done. If you hadn't returned so quickly with Lady Amarisa my son's life would be forfeit."

Talon took Alice by the arm and walked her to the door. "Please tell the queen the king will be there shortly."

Alice smiled at him. "I'll tell her Talon. Will you be joining him?"

"Yes, I'll escort the King as usual. Now hurry, I'm sure the Queen is waiting for you."

As Alice hastened down the hall Talon faced Savan. "Sire, before we go I beg a moment of your time. I need to speak to you on a matter that is of the utmost importance to me."

"Of course Talon. You've been my loyal and trusted confidant as well as the Captain of my guard. Tell me what can I do for you?"

"In all my years in your service, Your Majesty, I've never accepted any of the accolades you've offered me. I'm honored to be your Captain and to do my duty to you and your family. I'm considering accepting one of your most generous offers my Lord."

"I've offered you titles and lands of your own and you've always refused. Has something made you change your mind Talon? The lady Alice perhaps?"

Talon looked puzzled. "No Sire, I wish to take the Lady Amarisa to be my wife."

"Talon, she has a husband and I gave her my word that she would be given an escort home. I can't go back on my promise."

"I left two of my best men behind to ambush Conan. If everything goes according to plan the Lady Amarisa will be a widow and I'll be there to comfort her while she grieves."

"I doubt the Lady Amarisa will fall in love with the man who has arranged her husband's death. Did you say Conan? She is wife to Conan the Cimmerian? If the stories I've heard about Conan are true your men are the ones who are dead Talon."

"I don't want you to break your pledge to Amarisa, just detain her for a day or two. Have a banquet in her honor for saving your son. Insist that she attend. By then I know if the Cimmerian is dead."

"I'm fond of you Talon. You are like a son to me. I'll ask her to stay a few more days to assist with Vander's recovery and I'll throw a banquet in appreciation for all she has done for my son but Lady Amarisa is not a prisoner and if you fail to win her over she will be escorted home. I'm in her debt for saving my son's life. Do you understand Talon?"

"Yes your majesty, I understand completely. Shall we go to Prince Vander's room? I know Queen Beatriz is wondering where you are."

King Savan nodded his head in agreement. "I'm anxious to see my son." He patted Talon on the back and they walked down the hall toward Vander's bedchamber. I hope you know what you are doing Talon. From the stories I've heard making light of Conan's abilities will dig you an early grave.

Danton saw Amarisa move the curtain and look out the window. He climbed down from the stonewall that surrounded the summerhouse and ran towards the woods where Conan and Renard were hidden from sight. Renard chuckled. "I've never seen a man who could scale a rock wall like that. When it comes to slipping in and out of tight places, no one is as agile as Danton. I'm convinced the man is part monkey."

Danton made his way through the underbrush and to the spot where Conan and Renard were waiting with the horses. "Conan, I saw a woman look out a window. I think she had black hair but it's too dark to have seen her clearly. I swear on my life she was staring in this direction."

Conan glanced toward the summerhouse. "My woman knows I'm here."

Renard lit his pipe and put the flint into his pocket. He drew in the smoke and gently exhaled. "How can that be possible?

"Amarisa has the gift of vision. She can sense my presence like a lioness can track prey. I'm part of her being as are Connor and Corin." Conan leaned back in his saddle. "We need to come up with a plan to get inside."

"Let's wait until dawn." Renard suggested. "Every morning a local farmer brings foodstuffs to the summerhouse's kitchen. I know him well enough to offer a small bribe to hide us in his wagon and drive us past the guards and right through the back gate. We should try and get some rest until then. Danton you take first watch. I'll spell you in a couple of hours."

The rays of the morning sun pierced the forest canopy. Renard heard the creaking of wagon wheels and roused his companions. "Conan, Danton, wake up. I hear Caleb's wagon coming up the road. Gather what you need and secure the horses. Stay out of sight and I'll see if I can strike a bargain that is agreeable to him."

Conan produced a small pouch and took out some coins. "Take these and make him an offer he can't turn down."

Renard jingled the coins in his hand. "I'd say the offer will be more than fair Conan." Walking to the edge of the road he greeted the farmer. "Good morning Caleb, how are you on this fine day?"

"Greetings Renard, why are you lurking outside the king's grounds at sunrise?"

"My friends and I are in need of your help. We need to gain entrance to the summerhouse. My friend's wife is being held against her will and he intends to take her home. We'll reward you for your trouble."

Caleb climbed down from the wagon and Renard handed him the coins. He counted the money and nodded his head. "This is a generous sum. What do you want me to do?"

Renard turned toward the trees and motioned to Conan and Danton. They stepped from the trees and introduced themselves to Caleb. "We'd like to get past the guards undetected. Do you have room in the back of your wagon for my friends and me?"

"Conan and Danton can ride in the back. Renard you ride on the seat next to me. I'll tell the guards you are one of my hands helping me to unload the wagon. The king has requested a large amount of food for a banquet he's giving tomorrow night to honor the healer who saved the prince's life."

Conan put his hand on the hilt of his sword. "My wife will not be attending the banquet."

Caleb rubbed his chin. "Amarisa the healer is wife to Conan the Cimmerian? I wonder if the noble Talon has this information. The head cook loves nothing better than to spread the court gossip. Just yesterday she told me that the Captain of the guard is enamored with your wife. He left two of his best men to lay in wait for you on the main road hoping to make the lady a widow. He won't be pleased they've failed to carry out their orders."

Conan smirked. "They didn't fail Caleb. I didn't follow the main road. I took a quicker route. I knew Talon would set traps for me. I've dealt with his kind before."

"We need to rearrange the contents of the wagon. Renard put a jug of wine and some fresh fruit under the seat. We'll give it to the guards at the back gate." When they finished Conan and Danton climbed into the back of the wagon and covered themselves with their cloaks. Caleb and Renard settled on the front seat. Caleb picked up the reins and clucked to the horses. "You know Renard, I'm going to enjoy aiding you in this quest. Especially if it takes something away from Talon that he really wants. It would please me greatly if Conan removes Talon's head from his shoulders."

"What did Talon do to you my friend?"

"He took my daughter's virginity and refused to marry her. She bore him a daughter about four years ago. Seems she's good enough to bed but not to present at court. He broke my child's heart and I'd like to see him get what he gives. Quiet now, we're approaching the gate." Caleb stopped his wagon in front of the entrance. One of the guards approached the wagon. "Good morrow, I have something for you and your fellow sentinel." He reached beneath the seat and handed the man the wine jug, fresh fruit, and some venison jerky.

"Thank you Caleb. Who is your companion? His face is not familiar to me."

"This is one of my farm hands. I need help unloading the wagon today.
The king has requested a large quantity of food for the banquet tomorrow night. If everything is in order I need to get this food to the kitchen."

The guard uncorked the wine and took a drink and handed the jug to the other sentry. "Pass farmer. You don't want to keep the cooks waiting. They've much to prepare for the banquet."

Caleb shook the reins and guided the wagon through the gate and around the back of the kitchen. Renard looked around the wagon at the guards. Their attention was on the wine and food not the wagon. Once out of the guard's eyesight Caleb lowered the rear gate and Conan and Danton got out. They took off their cloaks and tossed them in the wagon. Conan began to study the house and grounds. Caleb gathered the men and pointed out the prince's bedchamber to them. "I must go. I'll leave your cloaks with your horses. Watch each other's backs. I'm sure the guards are too drunk to notice that I'm leaving alone. If they ask I'll tell them you're asleep in the back of the wagon and offer them another jug of wine. That will placate them. I wish you good luck." He patted Conan on the back. "Free your wife, take her home, and make love to her every chance you get."

Conan looked toward the house. "I intend to do just that Caleb. Thank you for all your help. I'm forever in your debt." Conan, Renard, and Danton moved into the shadows of the building that housed the kitchen. Caleb drove his wagon through the gate, gave the guard the other jug of wine and went on his way. The sound of cold steel rang through the air as Conan unsheathed his sword. Danton held his hand in front of Conan's chest. "You and Renard stay here and let me scout the grounds. I'll summon you when I'm sure the way is clear." They nodded in agreement and Danton slipped across the grounds moving quickly and as silent as a fox.

"Your Majesty! My Queen!" Alice was out of breath when she reached the Prince's room. "The King and Talon are on their way. King Savan is most anxious to witness his son's recovery."

The Queen blocked Alice's view of Prince Vander. "Would you like to see how my son is doing Alice?"

"Oh yes Your Majesty!"

Queen Beatriz stepped aside and Alice beamed at the sight of the Prince. He was sitting up, propped up by pillows and sipping from a bowl of broth. His green eyes were shining and he grinned at her. "Hello Lady Alice. All the sickness is gone. The pretty lady with the gray eyes has healed me. I never want to see another spider again." Alice went to his bedside and gave him a hug. Tears glistened in the eyes of all three women.

Amarisa could feel Conan's aura as strong as if he were in the room with her. She had to keep calm. She didn't want to alert anyone that Conan was near. How could she inform Conan of her whereabouts? Then an idea came to her. "Lady Alice, Help me open the drapes and the windows. The Prince needs fresh air to breath; his bedchamber needs to be purified." Alice secured the drapes and Amarisa opened the windows leaning out so she could be seen. She knew Conan was in the courtyard.

Danton saw Amarisa as he eased along the outside wall of the summerhouse. He dropped to his hands and knees and crawled to the last window to be opened and waited. When Amarisa finally came to the window, she unbolted the latch. As she leaned out she saw Danton on the ground. He put his finger to his lips and then mouthed her name. She gestured yes and he pointed to the kitchen. Amarisa moved her lips to form "Conan?" Danton nodded the affirmative. He backed away from the window and hastened to tell Conan and Renard of his discovery.

Conan inhaled and exhaled deeply. He made eye contact with Renard. "My woman's scent. She is very close." Just then Danton joined his friends.

"Conan, I've found your wife. Come I'll show you where she is." As the three men headed toward the summerhouse, swords in hand Conan spoke briefly. "Remember Talon is mine."

King Savan was elated at the sight of his son reaching out for a hug. "Father, I'm so glad to see you." Savan put his arms around Vander and turned grateful eyes on Amarisa. "Thank you Lady Amarisa. The Queen and I are forever in your debt." Amarisa bowed her head. "You're very welcome Your Majesties." During the happy reunion one of Talon's men appeared at the door.

"Captain would you join me in the hall. I need to have a word with you." Talon excused himself and followed the soldier out of the room.

"What is it Hadrian? Is something wrong?"

Hadrian saluted Talon. "Byron and Eldred rode in a few minutes ago."

"Did they carry out their orders? Is the Cimmerian dead?"

"No, they never encountered him. If he's coming he didn't use the main road."

"Given the passage of time, I'm sure Conan is already in the vicinity. Put extra men on the front and back gates and tell the entire garrison to stand at the ready. Go back to the barracks and await further orders." Hadrian saluted again and turning on his heel left to carry out Talon's instructions. Talon entered Vander's room and noticed Amarisa going from window to window her gaze darting around the vast lawn. She senses his presence! He stepped behind Amarisa's and put his arm around her waist. "Are you looking for something or someone my lady?" Amarisa tried to free herself from Talon's grasp but he held her fast. "Your husband is close is he not?" He pulled her away from the window just as the sound of splintering wood in the main entrance way caught the attention of everyone in the room. Conan and Renard breached the main door as Danton climbed through a window and into the prince's bedchamber. Talon positioned Amarisa in front of him and drew his sword. Danton froze as Talon put the blade of his sword across Amarisa's neck. Savan, Beatriz, and Alice moved to protect Vander as Talon dragged Amarisa from the room, Danton following close behind. They exited the chamber, Talon holding Amarisa tightly against his body. A deep voice growled a demand.

"Talon, release my woman! Now! Are you going to face me man to man or hide behind my wife's skirts?"

Talon smirked at Conan and pulled Amarisa to the back of the foyer and pushed open the door to the gardens outside. Conan, Renard, and Danton chased after them followed by King Savan. Talon stood in the middle of the lawn with his sword now pointed at Amarisa's heart. "You want her Cimmerian? Come and get her."

Amarisa's eyes gleamed at the sight of her husband. His name came softly from her lips. "Conan."

Conan struggled to control his anger. Remember he who angers you conquers you. Renard and Danton backed away as Conan advanced. "I allowed the first man who tried to take my woman from me to live Talon. I'm not in a generous frame of mind at this moment. Let her go!"

King Savan stood in the doorway and shouted at Talon. "Talon I order you to release Lady Amarisa at once! You are a soldier and the Captain of the guard and I command you to act as such. Don't disgrace yourself and your rank with this act of cowardice. Do you hear me?" Savan walked between Renard and Danton past Conan to face Talon. He extended his arm to Amarisa. "Obey your King." Talon looked into Amarisa's eyes and taking his left hand turned her face toward him. He kissed her hard upon the lips, lowered his sword, and handed her to Savan who leads her away from the men. Conan's eyes were focused on Talon and Amarisa kept walking so as not to break her husband's concentration.

Finally! Conan had been waiting for this exact moment. It had taken three long days but he and Talon were face to face at last. Rage seared in his chest as he stared hard at the man who dared to rob him of his woman. Around them, the air was charged with energy, all-consuming male energy. Two warring lions had come together to do battle in order to claim a mate. The Black mane versus the golden mane. The intense gaze in Conan's eyes was usually enough to deter any would be adversary but Talon stood his ground. While he never encountered a Cimmerian in combat before, he was confident they were equally matched.

Glancing quickly at Amarisa, Conan's rage surged and engulfed him completely. The thought of life without his woman at his side, nurturing their children, would drive him to despair. Amarisa's tear filled eyes begged Conan to show mercy, but she knew her husband held no pity in his heart for this enemy. Talon had dared to take the one thing from him that he treasured above all other, his woman.

Watching anxiously as the scene unfolded before her eyes, she took a few steps back as Conan's grip tightened around the hilt of his father's broadsword. With the sword as an extension of his arm, Conan's whole body became a weapon. The menacing look in his eyes as he gazed at Talon told her he was preparing for the fight of his life. Then the deadly dance started as both men began to circle each other. In the blink of an eye Conan and Talon engaged, the clash of steel echoed around the inside of the summerhouses stonewalls and sent sparks through the air. Swords flashed in the sunlight as they blocked each other's blows. Conan succeeds in finding the flow of battle and soon had the upper hand in the fight. Talon's strength slipped away as he struggled to block Conan's strikes. A sardonic smile came to Conan's face. "You fight by training, I fight by instinct." The tip of Conan's sword pressed against Talon's throat. Amarisa put her hands over her mouth to keep from screaming. She saw a flash of silver hair race past her. It was Alice. Tears streaming down her cheeks she came between Conan's sword and Talon.

"I beg you Cimmerian, spare him. I offer my life for his. I love him and pray someday he'll love me too."

Conan stepped back a few paces as Talon dropped his sword. He took Alice by the shoulders and turned her to face him. "You'd give your life for me?" Putting his arms around her Talon kissed her and held her close. As Conan watched the couple Amarisa came to his side. She put her arms around his waist and laid her head on his chest. She was trembling. After a few minutes, Amarisa smiled at Talon. "Well Captain, I believe it's time to resign your commission."

Talon brushed the tears from Alice's cheeks. "Yes, Lady Amarisa, it's time."

Amarisa slipped her arms around Conan's neck. "Take me home my love. I long for our bed and the warmth of your body next to mine. I want to hold our sons in my arms."

Conan put his hand under Amarisa's chin and kissed her tenderly. "Woman, you're my greatest treasure and no one will ever steal you away from me. He called out to his comrades "Renard! Danton! Come and meet my wife." Amarisa hugged and kissed both men.

"Gentlemen, I thank you for all your help. You'll always be welcome in our home."

Renard kissed Amarisa's hand. "Crom must favor Conan to bless him with such a beautiful wife. Wait here while Danton and I retrieve the horses."

Queen Beatriz approached Amarisa. My lady I'm am forever grateful to you for saving my son's life. If you ever need anything don't hesitate to call upon the King and myself."

Amarisa hugged Beatriz. "Don't take your son back home for at least a week. He needs to rest. Make sure he drinks all the water in the wineskin. He needs plenty of fresh meat, fruit, vegetables, fresh air, and sunshine. If Vander takes ill again, bring him to me."

She glanced over her shoulder at Talon and Alice. "The Captain knows where we live."

King Savan also gave Amarisa a warm hug. "I'd like you and Conan to stay for the banquet tomorrow night but I understand you want to be on your way."

"Yes Sire, I miss my home and my children. I wonder if we could get some food and water for our trip."

"Of course. Alice, will you go to the kitchen and have cook prepare a haversack of food for the lady and her husband'

Alice curtsied. Yes, Your Majesty, right away,"

Talon took Alice's hand. "I'll go with you,"

Renard and Danton entered the back gate leading the horses. Alice returned with the parcel of food and a cloak for Amarisa. "To keep you warm at night my lady." Amarisa took the wrap and kissed Alice on the cheek. "You and Talon take care of each other. I wish you a long and happy life. Please embrace his children and treat them as your own."

Talon came from the stables leading a horse for Amarisa, the same horse she had ridden to the summerhouse. Conan was adjusting the saddle on his black stallion. "Thank you but my horse is strong enough to carry us. I want my wife close to me on the ride home." Conan lifted Amarisa onto the horses' back and climbs up in the saddle. Amarisa slipped her arms around Conan's waist and rested her head against his back. Renard and Danton mounted and came along side Conan. The group galloped out the back gate and down the road. They parted company close to town and Conan and Amarisa continued on home.

She reached her out and rubbed her hand up and down the leather pants Conan wore. "I see Carla gave you the gift I had her sew for you."

"Yes, woman wife, I like them and the scabbard, sheath, and the boots. You must have traded many of your healing balms for such fine leather."

"Seeing the way they fit your body I would have traded double the amount. You are very handsome and pleasing to the eye." Amarisa touched his chest and mewled and purred like a kitten. "I felt the presence of a woman who wanted to take you to her bed."

"I turned her down, Amarisa, you're the only woman I want warming my bed."

"I know, my husband, I know."

They had been travelling for some time...Amarisa never removed her hands from her husbands firm body. For the nights she had been parted from him, she longed to hold him. The touch of his skin close to hers was all she thought about...the strength of his body as he would hold her...and the kiss from his perfect lips.

Conan had been tense, the last few days had caused him much stress but now...having Amarisa close to him...he felt relaxed. His woman held onto him so tightly, he barely had room to breath, but he wouldn't have it any other way. He needed Amarisa more than he ever thought possible. In his whole life he had never come to adore and love anyone as much as her.

Hugging her Cimmerian tighter, she closed her eyes and rested her head against his back. The smell of his hair filled her nostrils and she nuzzled her face into it, taking in all of his scent. Her hands began to wander lower, feeling the soft leather of the trousers that had been made for him. Conan shuffled in the saddle, he had been eager to receive attention from Amarisa but wasn't expecting it to be on the back of a horse. Her delicate fingers traced over the bulge that began to grow in his pants... teasing she began to nudge the tips of her fingers down into the waist...brushing the tip of his swelling with her fingertips. Conan let out a groan, he was already wet and leaking, the attention she had been giving him while they were riding had aroused him.

"Amarisa"

"Yes my love"

"We should wait until we reach a safe place to rest...have some food ...and then.."

"And then what?" Amarisa teased.

"I'll show you how much I've missed you" Conan glanced over his shoulder as Amarisa look up to his grinning face. Removing her hand she wrapped her arms tightly around his massive trunk. She placed a light kiss on his shoulder and sighed.

.

They travelled for some time before they discovered a bedrock outcropping where they could rest. As Conan reined in his horse, he took Amarisa's hands from his body and helped her down. She was weary. Being forced from her home, healing the prince,and watching Conan battle Talon had finally caught up with her. Conan gathered wood and kindling. He opened his tinderbox and soon had a fire blazing. Amarisa opened the haversack and set out the food on a cloth Alice packed in the parcel. She found a loaf of crusty bread, cheese, dried meat, a small pot of honey and fresh fruit. She put on the cloak, settled down, and waited for Conan to join her. He sat cross-legged next to her, drew his knife, and began to cut up the food. Amarisa rested her head on his left shoulder and closed her eyes. "Amarisa, is something wrong?"

"No my love. I'm a little tired. All the excitement the past few days has drained my life force. I'll be fine after I eat and rest."

After they finished the meal, Conan put his arm around Amarisa and searched her eyes. "Amarisa?"

"Yes my husband. What is it?"

"Talon had fallen in love with you. I could see the desire when he looked at you."

"I don't think it was love. I believe he wanted something he couldn't possess. He wanted the challenge of seducing me."

"Did you find him…pleasing to the eye?"

"I'm not attracted to men with light hair." She placed her left hand on his face. "I like my men with dark hair and broad shoulders. Why do you ask Conan?"

"I ride away for weeks at a time. I leave you to a cold bed and I know you worry about my safety. You fear an enemy's blade will find its mark and I'll never return to your arms. Yet you never try to stop me. You allow me my freedom and wait patiently for me to return." Why do you tolerate this woman?"

"You were an adventurer when I met you. I understood and accepted your way of life. To try and chain you would mean losing you. You have given me two fine sons and many joyous days. I was a virgin when I married Joshua. He was a good man and a gentle lover. You have brought fire and a passion to our bed. When you make love to me my blood burns with a fever I never knew existed. And when you took me to be your wife…I felt my heart soar. You're the only man I want. The only man I'll ever need. You're my husband, lover, and father to our children. I know the path you and your confederates follow. One day your sons will join you. And I'll watch the road each day until you are by my side once more. Look into my eyes and see the man I desire. I love you Conan and I always will."

Conan's voice caught in his throat. He couldn't find the words to convey what he was feeling at that moment. So he expressed his emotions without uttering a sound. He took Amarisa in his arms and pulled her close to his body. The heat from his skin burned through Amarisa's clothing, the cadance of his heart thumped against her chest. The look of desire and want filled his eyes. As Amarisa stared into them, she could feel her body begin to quiver, the mere look he gave her, was enough to send her into oblivion.

Conan's movements were quick, without any warning he threw her onto her back and pressed his mouth over hers. The contact was full and hard...but there was no resistance from Amarisa. For too long she had needed to feel his lips against hers. With heated passion his hands had found their way up her dress. Her back arched beneath him, revelling in the sensation of his large hands gliding up her thighs. Amarisa ripped at his clothing and quickly removed his skirts...his hard desire weighed heavy in her hand as she wrapped her soft fingers around him. Conan groaned low in his throat. He needed to be inside her...he couldnt wait. Releasing his wife from the heavy onslaught of his lips he brushed his mouth down her neck. His hands were inside her undergarments...her wetness drenched his fingers. "Nuh...Conan..." The sound of his name on Amarisa's lips made his cock twitch. Eager to show his woman just how much he had missed her, nudging her thighs apart, he guided himself to her. Both arms he now braced at either side of her shoulders. With his lips pressed close to her ear...and thrusting himself deep inside the heat and wetness, he made his declaration.

"You're mine, do you hear me, mine alone - and I promise you- I'll kill the next man that tries to come between us."

Amarisa dug her fingers into Conan's back as she closed her eyes and gasped. The weight of his body pressing against her was heavenly – and hearing his words made her feel secure...he always kept his promises.

Conan's passion could not be tamed...the trials of the last few days had eaten away at him...he had felt he had let his children down...allowing their mother to be taken captive. Being with Amarisa was all he wanted...he'd never given his love to any other woman as he had her. Beneath him Amarisa wrythed- the pounding of his body against hers-filling her deep and fast brought her to climax quickly. Shaking with ecstasy, her hips jerking faster against him, she groaned out her pleasure. Within moments the sharp, fast, jabbing of her lover into her brought his own release...the wail that emmited from Conan's throat drowned that of his lovers. As Conan thrust his last...he nestled his face into her neck. Amarisa held him tight...his body was shaking...only after a few moments she realised he was crying. She could feel the wetness of his tears staining her skin. "Conan, my love, what rends your heart?" She knew he couldn't or wouldn't answer her question. Having his feelings overwhelm him was a new experience. Until now nothing cracked the hard shell that contained his emotions. Amarisa knew only one way to get an answer. She placed her right hand on his temple and closed her eyes. Conan's thoughts were racing through his mind like comets in the night sky. He was crucifying himself over his perceived failure to keep her safe from harm. He wanted to kill Talon and if Alice hadn't intervened he would've taken his head. He was suffering from self-inflicted wounds on his soul. Amarisa removed her hand and began to stroke his hair. She had to heal Conan's mind.

"Calm yourself my love. Be still and listen to me. You risked your life to find me and bring me home. I knew you would come for me. I wish I could see my own fate but I cannot. Only the images of the people I love. And the only future I want is the one where you are by my side and we are raising our sons. That is all that matters to me. Don't torment yourself over the things you can't control. I'll love you until the end of forever and beyond. Bind that thought to your heart."

Conan raised his head and looked deep into her eyes. Amarisa kissed the pain from his face and smiled. "Satisfying my husband's insatiable desires has left me ravenous. I could eat a horse but we need your black to get us home so I'll settle for whatever's left in the haversack." Conan sat up and kissed Amarisa.

"You are my woman, my life mate. I yearn for you alone. I never thought I would take a wife or have children. I was content to roam the land and have no attachments to bed any female I felt the slightest attraction to. Until I met you and everything changed for me. Try as I might I couldn't stay away from you. My love for you is seamless Amarisa. It has no boundaries, no end. When the time comes and my life ends I want to be in your arms."

"And I in yours my husband" He helped Amarisa to her feet and wrapped her supple body in an ardent embrace.

"Let's get you something to eat wife before my, what did you call them, insatiable desires overtake me again."

"I feel a bit faint husband." Amarisa teased. "Would you please carry me back to the fire and the food?"

Conan laughed, bent down, and put Amarisa over his shoulder, her pert bottom pointed towards the sky, and moved toward the fire.

Amarisa squealed with delight. "Conan this is not what I had in mind!"

"This is how I carry all the comely wenches who seek my attention and my passion. Why should you be any different?"

"Because I'm the only wench you'll ever have to transport for the rest of your life."

"You are that my love. You are all to me. Now let's eat before my appetite for your obvious charms becomes stronger than my need for food."

They settled close to the fire, Amarisa handed some bread and cheese to her warrior. His hearty appetite made her laugh; she took pleasure in watching him devour the portions handed to him.

"Aren't you eating?" Conan managed to speak between mouthfuls.

Amarisa smiled, her desire for her husband to eat first had made her forget to take something for herself. "I will eat after you have finished, you need the nourishment much more than I. You forget I've been staying with royalty, their larder was plentiful and I did not want for anything".

Conan swallowed the mouthful of cold meat and washed it down with some honeyed wine. Staring at his woman, he turned to face her, pulling her close. "I will not have my wife fall ill or become faint through lack of food." Reaching for a piece of apple, he put it to her lips. "Eat". Amarisa's lips parted slightly to allow Conan to push the fruit into her mouth. He teased it along her lips before giving it to her. "Are you going to feed me or tease me?" The wild and excited stare from beautiful eyes gave her the answer. A wide grin followed as he pushed the apple into her mouth, together with his finger. Amarisa took the morsel and puckered her lips around the digit. Conan watched intently, his appetite for food waned. He reached towards the food and selected another piece of fruit. The small pot of honey, warmed by the heat from the fire, had softened. He dipped the apple into the amber liquid. Amarisa realizing this was going to be enjoyable leaned back. She watched her lover – his beautiful tanned skin turned golden as the flames from the fire shone over his body. He was stunningly handsome. How lucky she felt…being adored and loved by this warrior…the one who would risk his life to save her no matter how perilous or dangerous…he would always rescue her.

Shifting his body Conan laid by her side, his arm behind her neck while his free hand played with the food. Taking his gaze back to Amarisa and hovering the apple over her mouth, he drizzled the honey onto her lips. The sweet nectar felt warm and Amarisa was unable to stop herself from running her tongue across her lip. It was too much for the warrior to resist. Leaning in he grazed his mouth across hers…letting his tongue slip over the honey lips before he slanted his mouth fully over hers. Amarisa's hands found their way to his hair and began to pull him tighter. The lip lock, glued by the honey, felt sensual and sweet. A throaty groan left his throat and Conan pressed his naked body against Amarisa, her clothes were still intact… something which needed rectify immediately. Quickly unfastening the bodice, his fingers made light work of their task. Amarisa also eager to rid herself of the obstruction assisted – unfastening the cords that tied around her waist in order to loosen her skirt. Within moments together they lay naked, the heat from the fire felt cool compared to the heat radiating between them. Conan's heat and desire to make love to his woman overcome anything else…it was all consuming. Pressing his mouth hard to hers he wandered his hands up her body. Brushing her nipples with his thumbs as his tongue glided deeper, slick and hungry, so deep it coaxed soft little mewling noises from her throat. With a subtle turn of their bodies, he shifted his erection into the vee of her thighs and thrust his hips in time with the rhythm of his tongue into her mouth. Amarisa bucked against the stiffness, her need to be filled drove her frantic. Grabbing at his soft fleshy buttocks she pulled him into her…with a slight adjustment of his hips…he gave in to her wants. Arching against him as he drove into her… causing a gasp to expel from her throat… she willingly accepted the full weight of his thrust. Conan's husky growl became lost as he nuzzled his face into her neck and shoulders…the intense shock wave that traveled through his body causing him to jab his hips faster and harder. Amarisa locked her legs and pressed her heels against his cheeks, pressing him…urging him to thrust deeply.

The scene in the shelter was of heat and passion…the glow from the fire reflected beautifully off the bodies of the lovers as they re-kindled their love and their passion. Nothing would ever separate these two people…they were destined to live and love together for all eternity.

Amarisa's hands ran up Conan's back, his soft skin felt slick and hot beneath her touch, covered in perspiration from his deed. Conan raised his body and leaned over her, resting his arms either side of her head. The pleasure he derived from watching Amarisa made his own experience even more enjoyable… softly panting each time he pressed deeper into her heat…. her lips slightly parted… he leaned in to kiss her. As his hips pounded hers so his mouth assaulted hers too. Hard and with heated passion he bit and sucked at her tongue and her lips. Conan broke the kiss and looked at her. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes brilliant and wild, her lips kiss-bruised and parted. Amarisa gripped her lovers' torso, her orgasm imminent. Conan watched while her face… her eyes closed tightly as the waves of delirium embraced her body. He was so captivated by the vision beneath him it made him harder and brought about his own climax. Hard strokes and jabs brought him to release…his head arching back as he groaned his pleasure to echo into the night.

Amarisa nestled her back against Conan's chest and pulled her cloak over their sex-warmed bodies. Even immersed in sleep, Conan held her tightly, his right arm across her chest, his right hand clasped on her left shoulder. She felt his heated breath against the back of her neck. Amarisa touched her hand to his temple and sensed that his mind was at peace. She was about to remove her hand when a thought she didn't expect entered his mind. She smiled, closed her eyes, and allowed sleep to overtake her. Amarisa was where she belonged. Cradled in the stronghold of her husband's powerful embrace. They were up at first light, both anxious to be on their way. After dressing, Conan saddled his black while Amarisa packed up the leftover food. Once mounted, they started toward home.

"Conan, I dozed off while you were talking to Renard and Danton. Did the three of you agree on a meeting place and time?"

"They're on the way to meet up with Giles. I won't be joining them on this voyage. Or any trek. Not for a long while. My time is better spent with my wife and sons. I have many things to teach Connor and Corin." He glanced over his shoulder. "I've a few things I'd like to teach you also woman."

"Oh, and when will these lessons begin my handsome teacher?"

"This evening after we put the boys to bed. I have the perfect place in mind."

"Yes and where might that be?"

"In our bed. It provides more comfort than the hard packed earth we've shared as of late."

"And you'll be instructing me in the art of lovemaking my husband? In what area do you find me lacking?" Amarisa playfully poked Conan in the ribs.

"You lack for nothing. You are the perfect lover. I've been thinking, and only if you agree, that the boys might like to have a sister. I'd love to have a daughter who is as beautiful as her mother. Would you like to have a baby Amarisa?"

Amarisa recalled the thought she sensed last night. Conan wanted another child. She tightened her grip around his waist. "Yes Conan more than anything. I'd love to have another baby. I don't care if it's a boy or a girl." But she knew it would be a girl.

"We'll be home soon. I know you can't wait to see Connor and Corin and they be overjoyed to see you. I'm positive Godrick and Carla took good care of them in our absence. I entrusted the boys to them, just in case, we didn't… Well it doesn't matter now, does it?"

Amarisa closed her eyes and rested her forehead against Conan's back. "Connor will sense that we are on our way back home. I can feel his thoughts."

"Well then, let's not keep the boys waiting. Hang on tight." He spurred the black into a gallop and all they left in their wake was a cloud of dust.

Connor was teaching Corin how to shoot his bow. He had just pulled a few arrows out of a bale of straw they were using for a target when he closed his blue eyes and put his hand to his forehead. Turning his head toward the road, he smiled, put his arm around his brother and shouted for Godrick and Carla who came running from their cottage. "Mother and father are on their way home. Can I saddle my horse and take Corin to meet them? They are not far away. Can we go and wait for them please?"

Godrick put his hand on Connor's shoulder. "Let's hitch up the wagon and we'll ride out to see them. Your parents will be thrilled to see the two of you. Come on Connor; help me ready the horse and wagon. I assume they'll be coming in from the North?"

"Yes Uncle Godrick, they're riding in from the North." Connor bent down and whispered in Corin's ear. "We're going to have a sister. What do you think about that?" Corin looked at his big brother and grinned.

As the four headed toward the barn, Connor stopped and looked up the road. "I knew you'd bring mother back home Father. I just knew it." He picked up his bow and arrows and raced into the barn. "Hurry Uncle Godrick! They'll be here before you get the wagon hitched! Come on let's hurry!"