“Two comely wenches for the taking, even if they are gypsies,” Sir Roland snickered and pushed against her, his heavy breath sour. “I wager one for his lordship, and one for us.”

She endured his lewd insults. Somehow she would get through this and get back to her tribe.
Daj, I will honor you, she vowed to the empty sky. You begged and groveled to the gadje your entire life. The English are not one of us. They are strangers. In death you will stand tall, and have a proper funeral and burial.

Valentina gripped her fingers soundly into the horse’s heavy mane. She was not ready to fall and be trampled to death. There must be another way to escape. These cruel men would not stop them. She and her sister would return before the spirits became enraged and they were cursed.
* * *
They rode several hours, stopping long enough for the men to eat, water their horses, and offer the women food, which Yolanda and Valentina refused. By late evening they reached a towering castle. Valentina stayed awake by avoiding her abductor’s hands, not daring a glimpse over her shoulder. Warning spasms of panic erupted at the thought of provoking Sir Roland’s madness, or worse, inciting his lust. A short distance away, Yolanda slumped against Sir Geoffrey’s bent shoulders. Devil curse the men for keeping them separated. Valentina had not spoken more than two words to her sister since they had left the camp. Yolanda would never be able to endure this, her character much too fragile.

The square, high castle walls rose bleak and solemn against the moonlit sky as they approached. Valentina’s aching legs hammered into the horse’s sides, her strained nerves amplified her stinging wrists and shaking exhaustion.

The formidable castle soared out of the black ground. Rounded turrets and solid buttresses towered above the stone castle on all four corners, enclosed by an impressive curtain wall. Pointed flags bearing a bold coat of arms resembled a large falcon and flapped in the blustering autumn wind.

She clutched her throat and narrowed her eyes. Whoever owned the castle commanded respect. A respect she was not willing to give. She had no respect for a nobleman who would abduct two women when they were observing their mourning traditions.

A lone trumpeter blasted their arrival. The horses clattered over the lowered wooden drawbridge and galloped through a vast courtyard. The bottomless depth of the moat dipped far below. Sir Roland dismounted, tethered his horse, and dragged Valentina through the entryway of the castle and down a short corridor. He dumped her at the far corner of an enormous room. With a perilous flick of his sword, he cut the rope from her wrists. She rubbed the deep red welts, a sharp pain shooting up her arms.


  1. Mary Marvella // November 24, 2007 at 11:15 PM  

    Ah, what will befall the miss? Will she spit in his eye or warm his bed or both?