Dacian Legends–untold stories of unknown heroes. Between 07/31-08/01 download your free copy of BORN IN VENGEANCE from Amazon.
My sheepskin is large enough to place Nerva on it and I could easily fit next to her. But I won’t. I’d rather be fed to the lions than lay with a Roman woman. She rests on her side, facing me. I tie her right wrist to my left, and cover her up. The fire is behind her. Her large eyes follow my every move. Looking up at the dark sky, I bent my free arm under my head. The tall grass offers softness, but I’m so tired I could slumber standing. I glance once more at Nerva. She only glares at me. I don’t know how to read her face, but it’s clearly not hate.
“Who else knows I’m not . . . I’m not Traianus’ niece?”
“Only my men here. You needn’t fret. Your secret will follow them to the afterlife.”
Nerva sighs. “I do not fret. At times I want the world to know. I wouldn’t be forced into a marriage I resent body and spirit.”
I almost say her days are numbered and marriage shan’t distress her any longer, but I’m in no mood to deal with a frantic woman. Looking away I say, “We don’t always get what we want.”
Nerva is quiet for a while then asks, “Why did you kidnap me?”
“To force your father to fight me.” It’s only half the truth.
“You will die. No army is as big and strong as the Roman army.”
“There is more to winning a battle than size and strength. Of course I don’t expect you to understand that.”
Nerva yanks at the rope tying our wrists. “You take me for a fool for I am a woman, is that it?”
I pull back, forcing her to come up on one elbow and closer to me. “Leave war matters to men. Now, sleep.”
The crackling sounds of the fire and the night’s hidden noises soothe me. Out in the open is where I spend my nights until winter forces me inside. Then huts, tents or caves become my home. My thoughts trail off . . . I almost give into blessed slumber when I feel Nerva next to me. I open my eyes to stare into hers, her face above mine.
“I told you to sleep. What do you want?”
Tendrils of long black hair fall over her face and rest on my shoulder. She pushes them behind her ear. “Are you going to kill me?”
Turning my back to her and folding my free arm under my head I say, “If you don’t shut up, sooner than you think.”
“You do not scare me.”
“Would sleeping tied to a tree and surrounded by wolves scare you?”
“You will not let them harm me. You need me alive.”
“I need you to shut up, woman.”
Not sure if my tone or my words convince her to shut up but she returns to the sheepskin. With my back to her I can’t see her, but I hear her grumble and thrash about. This goes on for a while and the longer she moves the more alert I become.
I usually sleep through thunder and lightning, snores or even through my brothers’ drunken singing. But for some reason Nerva’s nearness brings awareness to my senses, an awareness stopping me from finally giving into slumber. I squeeze my eyes shut willing my mind to go blank. Morrow is another long day in the saddle.
“It’s too cold,” Nerva’s voice breaks the silence. “This sheepskin stinks and it’s too thin. I feel the boulders through it.”
I jump to my feet and drag the sheepskin with Nerva still on it closer to the fire. “Get used to it. There are no beds where we’re going.”
“This is too close to the fire, now. What if I roll over?” she presses.
“You’ll know when you’re too close,” I too have to move since our wrists are tied together. The grass is not as dense and tall as in the other spot, but I slept in worse places. All I really want right now is for her to shut up. “Now sleep.”
“You can sleep on top of me,” Bastisza, who rests the closest to us mutters. “Now shut up or I swear, I’ll gag you.”
“Brutes, that is what you all are, brutes.” Nerva tosses one more time, yanking the rope so hard that my arm flings up in the air.
To my surprise she does shut up.
And now hurry up to Amazon for your FREE copy. ENJOY!