This is part of the A to Z Challenge. A story told in 26 parts. Check Sunday’s post (4/14) for a recap of parts A-L.
Dianthe was deep in thought as she made her way back from the stables, her mind filled with Valerius. Was she really the only one who could see beyond the scars? She could tell he was strong and proud, and honorable. At the same time he looked lost, still trying to find his way after what looked to be very recent injuries. But he hadn’t objected to her bold advances and had nodded when she told him she wanted him back.
Hopefully, he would forgive her for having to lie to him about being Cardelia. She remembered the few words they’d spoken to each other and repeated them over and over again in her head. They made her feel warm, and tingly, and she twirled around like a lunatic in happiness.
What in the world was Dianthe doing? Cardelia wondered as she spied on her from her hiding place in the stable. Once Dianthe went inside she’d be clear to ride out. But the idiot was doing some kind of strange dance and humming to herself. Cardelia wondered if Dianthe fancied herself in love with Xavier as well. She’d endured listening to two washer woman extol the virtues (ha!) of Xavier all morning through the thin walls of her hiding spot. There was no denying his looks, but the rest? All lies.
A sudden movement caught her attention. Two men threw a large piece of cloth over Dianthe, then tied material around her as she struggled. The cloth muffled her screams. She wriggled and twisted to no avail. The larger man hefted her over his shoulder like a bag of grain and ran towards her hiding place. A third man, this one a nobleman, joined them as they unhitched three horses. The nobleman was thin with a beak-like nose. Cardelia barely remembered him as one of the early visitors.
“I will not be so easily deflected, my princess,” the nobleman said to Dianthe. He threw her body over the back of his horse, mounted, and took off in a gallop. The other two men followed suit.
The malicious maggot! Cardelia couldn’t very well scream without giving herself away. She did the only thing she could think of. She climbed onto her own horse and gave chase.
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