Black Viper

This is an adventurous story based on my former RP. I’ll publish it here and on DA.

Prologue:

Captain Olwina Pritchett was watching her troops and focused on training sessions for her new recruits on the front yard of the Parth Capital Castle. That morning was quite hectic and Olwina was quite a busy person.

Olwina was a Captain in the army of a kingdom called Parth. It was a highly-unusual society for its era, in that it was female-dominated. Its ruler was a queen, and women made up most of the armed forces; only a few men joined the army.

Despite her low rank Olwina was an important officer; she and her troops were bodyguards of the royal family - Queen Magwen Tudor and her only daughter Dilys.

Dilys Tudor was the main source of Olwina’s worries. The princess was rather immature and she wasn’t able to accept Olwina’s role.

“I hate the annoying supervision and I feel like I’m almost in a prison. It’s good that the damn captain is busy at training today,” she told herself while walking in the castle garden. She kept dreaming and wished she could fly and watch the castle from above.

General Keelis was standing at a large table and watching the Parth map. There were several small flags spread in the south part of the country. The blue ones depicted the Parth army troops and the red ones Nivven army troops.

Nivven was the neighboring country and it was female-dominated just like Parth; however it wasn’t a regular monarchy; Nivven was ruled by a fanatic, repressive and nasty religious cult. Nivven’s army was much larger than Parth’s one.

According to the flags the Nivven’s troops were advancing towards the Capital and Parth’s army was on the verge of a catastrophic defeat unless a miracle would happen.

Queen Magwen Tudor was standing next to General Keelis and they were talking about their chances:
“General, we have only one option left; let’s call Captain Pritchett.”
“Yes, Your Majesty; I’ll send the adjutant immediately.”
“Explain our plan to her and I have to explain it to the Princess,” Queen left. Her task was much more difficult than the general’s one.

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I like it so far

Part 1:

Olwina just finished the training and put away her armor and equipment when the adjutant approached her:

“Captain Pritchett? General Keelis asks that you join her in the council chambers. She needs to speak with you at once.”

Olwina was taken aback by the sudden request. She wasn’t aware of the details of the actual situation but she guessed something was very wrong. However she didn’t have any idea what general Keelis would ask her for. How could a royal bodyguard and her troop help against the Nivven troops? Anyway she thanked the adjutant and headed towards the council chambers.

“I’ve come at your command, general,” Olwina entered the council chambers. There was only General Keelis inside.
“Sit down, captain and make yourself comfortable. We have to talk about a difficult and dangerous mission.”
“A dangerous mission? I’m the commander of a bodyguard troop though.”

General Keelis sat down and pointed at the map:
“Look at the flags; our troops are in an almost hopeless situation. Unless a miracle happens, the Nivvenites will reach our town and take our country.”
“What miracle? I’m a soldier and not a witch.”
“It isn’t a true miracle; we need help.”
“Who helps us?”
“The Duke of Carlesse. His army troops are much stronger than ours.”
“Yeah but why would he help us? What can we offer to him?”

All of sudden an idea hit Olwina: “A marriage?”
“Exactly. His younger son is still single and the marriage could make an alliance.”
“I see but … how can I contribute to the marriage as a bodyguard?”
“The Prince Therian and Dilys should meet in the Merlet Castle; it is a good place to arrange it.”

Merlet Castle was a fortress near Carlesse border but it also was near to Nivven border.
“Why the Merlet Castle?”
“According to the Queen our capital is too far—and too public—for that meeting. She wants to give Dilys an opportunity to meet Therian where there are few prying eyes.”

Olwina listened to the general and she realized her mission: “I’ll escort Princess Dilys to the Merlet Castle and back, right?”

Suddenly she got worried; Princess Dilys was quite immature and she might cause a lot of problems.
“General, I’m worried about the Princess and her behavior.”
“Her mother is just speaking to her but, to be honest, I’m not sure if she will succeed.”
“I’ll do my best, General. When do we leave?”
“Tomorrow in the morning.”

Olwina left the council chambers and walked over to the barracks. Her mind was occupied by the new mission; she was getting a very bad feeling.

On the stairwell she encountered Princess’s maid Beca:
“Beca, we leave tomorrow in the morning. The Princess should meet Prince Therian in the Merlet Castle.”
“Oh no. It would be a hard task, captain.”
“I know, I know but try to calm her down.”
“I’ll do my best, captain.”
“Thanks, Beca.Hopefully we handle that task.”
“Hopefully,” Beca smiled, “however I’m not able to imagine our Princess as a married woman and a ruler.”
“Neither am I,” Olwina shrugged and hurried up to the barracks. She had to assemble a small group of her best soldiers.


At the same time Princess Dilys felt her stomach growling and headed towards the castle; she wanted to ask her maid Beca for a snack. However she spotted Olwina on the stairwell and tried to avoid her. Olwina noticed Dilys and sighed only.

When Dilys reached the top of the stairwell, her mother stopped her:
“Dilys, come with me; we have to talk about an important task.”
“Why mommy? Is it about that boring war and Nivven again?”
“Yeah, it is and it is about your future and the future of our country.”
“Okay,” Dilys sighed and followed her mother.
“Dilys, are you aware of our serious condition?” The Queen started the conversation when they closed the door of her private room.
“Which condition? Do you mean the damn war?”
“Watch your language; you are a Princess though.”
“Sorry. I’m not interested in the war.”
“However you would be interested if you lost your luxurious life and had to live in exile or in prison.”
“Okay, okay. But … what could I do?”
“We need an alliance. Do you know the Duke of Carlesse?”
“I know him.”
“His army is larger than ours.”
“Why would he help us?”
“A marriage would make an alliance.”
“W … what? Should you marry the Duke?”

“Dilys, I doubt your intelligence now. Duke is married though. You should marry his son Prince Therian,” the Queen sighed in utter frustration. Her daughter lacked even the basic knowledge and she was interested in her own pleasure only. How could she become a ruler?

Dilys kept silent and thought about her options. She wasn’t ready to think of a mature life and marriage and she wasn’t enthusiastic about the end of her simple life but the image of a prison would be much worse.
“Isn’t there any other option, mommy?”
“I’m afraid not. However, what are you afraid of? A life with Prince Therian can be even more luxurious than here. And … wouldn’t you like to have children?”

Dilys sighed heavily. It was a hard decision indeed. She wasn’t able to imagine the life of a married woman. Everything would be more complicated; however her mother was right after all.
“Okay then; what do you expect from me now?”
“You will meet Prince Therian in the Merlet Castle. Captain Pritchett and her troop escorts you there. Be prepared tomorrow in the morning.”
“Oh no; I hate the supervision; I’m not a little girl anymore.”
“Calm down! The Nivven army troops could capture you; your life doesn’t belong to you only; be aware of it! Now go and get prepared. Beca helps you and packs everything necessary.”

Dilys sighed again; she had to face the unpleasant journey to a fortress and the company of Captain Pritchett. She left the private room of her mother and headed towards her luxurious bedroom. She was angry about everything and lay down on her bed.

Half an hour later she got up and called Beca. Beca packed the clothing and other necessities to two chests.

At the dinner Dilys realized it was the last warm and decent meal before the journey. The mood of her and the Queen wasn’t good; everyone was worried about the future.

In the morning Dilys had to get up early. After a short breakfast she got in the carriage along with Beca. Olwina mounted her horse and rode on the head of the small group. The carriage was surrounded by twenty soldiers. Olwina had picked her loyal sergeant Elmira and the best nineteen soldiers of her troop.

Olwina rode off and the soldiers and carriage followed her; the big mission started.

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Part 2:

Four days passed and the column was moving slowly. Olwina still was riding on the head and she also sent two scouts to search the surroundings ahead. They were near the Nivven border and enemy patrols could appear. The first days had passed uneventfully but now they were approaching a dangerous area.

All of sudden Olwina spotted one of the scouts galloping towards her. The rider reined her horse in front of Olwina and her face looked excited.

“Captain, I’ve noticed a Nivvenite patrol. It is a small one; I could see five soldiers only. They are camped in a small valley near the road. I’m sure they didn’t see me.”

Olwina listened to the report and considered their options. Five soldiers were too few to be an actual danger for the Princess’s escort troop but she didn’t want to take any risk.

“Sergeant Elmira, lead the carriage behind the trees on the north and wait for my commands,” her first command was focused on the Princess and her safety.

The captain and the scout rode off towards the Nivvenite patrol while Elmira with the rest of the troop headed to the hideout.

The scout was right; there were only five soldiers in the valley and they looked careless; Olwina couldn’t see any guard.
“I don’t understand what they are doing,” she whispered to the scout. “Search the forest on your right and I do the same on my left. We’ll meet again when we finish.”
Half an hour later they met in the same place where they had started their search. To their surprise they didn’t find any guard.

Olwina had to decide what to do. It would be easy to capture the small troop but she was responsible for the Princess and hunting enemy patrols wasn’t her task.
“Let’s go back to the carriage and to the castle first. Maybe we’ll return and capture the patrol later.”

While they were riding back, Olwina asked the scout about details.
“How did you find the patrol? They couldn’t be spotted from the road and the valley is a perfect hideout.”
“I spotted one of the soldiers crossing the road and I followed her.”
“That’s a mystery though. Why the hell was she riding there? What are they doing here and why are they that careless?”
“No idea, captain but I’m getting a feeling as if they wanted to be found.”

They returned to the hidden carriage and continued their journey towards Castle Merlet. However Olwina sent two scouts to watch the camp for about two hours until the column was in safe distance.

In the late afternoon they reached Merlet Castle. Captain Parwen, the local commander, welcomed the Princess and Olwina.
“Your Highness, welcome to our humble fortress. Unfortunately we can’t provide you too much comfort but my servants will do their best.”
“Hopefully they would do it,” Dilys looked around; the fortress really was different from the castle in the Capital. She sighed only when the servants led her and Beca to the upstairs bedroom and carried her chests to that room.

Meanwhile Olwina told captain Parwen about the mysterious patrol. The scouts also appeared and they reported to Olwina.
“Captain, the Nivvenites still are in the camp and they look like they were waiting for somebody or something.”
“Thanks, go to the barracks and relax; we have about three days off.
The scouts saluted and headed towards the barracks.

“Captain Parwen, do you have any idea what to do?” Olwina asked the commander. They had the same rank and no one was superior to the other one; however captain Parwen was responsible for the castle and Olwina for the Princess.
“The Nivvenites probably stay in the camp. They can’t threaten the fortress. I’d say we forget them for now … wait … what are they doing here? I’m getting curious about them and I’ll send a troop to capture them tomorrow at dawn.”

Olwina nodded and headed towards the barracks to join her troop. They had dinner later and went to sleep.

Princess Dilys was exhausted after the long and uncomfortable journey; her eyes almost closed at dinner and she fell asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow.

Beca, on the other hand, wasn’t that tired and she climbed down the stairs and walked out of the building. A servant was standing there and watching the night sky.

“Good evening,” Beca addressed her.
“Aren’t you asleep? The journey has been long though. Why did you arrive at this place at all?”
“Don’t you know? Prince Therian will arrive in three days and he will meet our Princess.”
“Really? That’s the first time when I can see a Princess and Prince. However, I’m worried. This place is dangerous and they will meet here.”
“Is it that dangerous?”
“Yeah. The commander and her patrol were captured by Black Viper and captain Parwen returned alone; she somehow managed to escape.”

They were talking for another half an hour until Beca went to sleep as well. She also got a bit worried when she remembered the sudden stop and the scout.

The next morning Beca got up early and watched the troop leaving the fortress. She decided to find Captain Pritchett and tell her about the last events.

Olwina listened to Beca carefully and she was taken aback. Captain Parwen didn’t tell her anything about her capture. Was it that unimportant?

The Parthian patrol returned before lunch and they were escorting five Nivven soldiers. One of them was a giant woman and according to her insignia she was a Nivvenite colonel. All captives were tied up tightly; their arms were tied in a boxtie and their legs were tied to the stirrups.

“You are Black Viper, aren’t you?” Olwina watched the captives and stepped forward the giant captive. She never saw Black Viper but she recognized her instantly according to the rumors and description.
“Yeah, I’m Black Viper in person; I don’t ask you about your name, worthless caricature of a captain,” the colonel laughed aloud. There was something evil in her laugh. She didn’t look worried about being captured.

When the captives were escorted into the holding cells, Olwina turned to the troop commander:
“You returned quickly. Was it that easy to capture the Nivvenites?”
“Yeah; they didn’t put too much effort into fighting. To be honest, I was taken aback by their behavior.”
“Lieutenant, do you know something about the captain’s mission last week?”
“Nothing much. Captain rode off with four more soldiers to a routine patrol. She returned two days later and she was alone.”
“I’ve heard that she got captured by Black Viper but she could escape.”
“She told me it but there was something wrong with the story. She didn’t have any rope marks on her wrists.”
“What happened to the four soldiers?”
“She didn’t say anything.”
“Thanks, lieutenant,” Olwina walked over to the backyard; she had to think of the last events.

Captain Parwen got captured by Black Viper and she could escape. Now the same Black Viper was leading a small patrol near Merlet Castle and she almost didn’t resist the capture. A colonel with four soldiers only? Something definitely was wrong but Olwina still wasn’t able to decipher it.

However she had another task ahead; the meeting should be planned appropriately and Princess Dilys was the main person in that planning.

“Your Majesty, we have three days to arrange an important meeting. Depending on its result our homeland would be rescued or not.”
As expected, Dilys protested against any activity.
“Why me? Don’t you have soldiers and servants to arrange everything?”
“Your majesty, it’s you who is the representative. Who else can represent Parth? You are definitely a member of the royal family. Captain Pritchett can negotiate the military affairs, but you and only you are an honorable partner of Prince Therian,” Beca reacted surprisingly; she apparently was smart and intelligent.
“Your Majesty, first of all we should arrange the alliance. Unfortunately we can’t offer too much to the alliance and you will play the key role. I don’t like to go into details, but your charm would be very important,” Olwina added.

All of sudden a cold chill ran down Dilys’s spine. Up to now she didn’t have to do any real duties and didn’t have any idea what to do.
“I’m a human and a Princess and not a piece of cattle. How could you tell this to me?”
“Your Majesty, it is the fate of the royal family. Be aware of the fact that your life doesn’t belong to you only; it belongs to the country. Accept it please and try to find an amenity instead of looking for problems. I promise to help you as much as I’m able to.” it was Beca who replied again.

Dilys looked at her and kept silent. She was overwhelmed by mixed feelings. Her life was about to turn upside down. Her former careless life was definitely over and she could decide upon the whole country by a single word. All of sudden she felt a heavy stone resting on her shoulders and almost sank to the ground:
“Leave me alone, please, I need a little time.”

She stood up heavily as if the stone really rested on her shoulders and left for her bedroom.

In the afternoon Olwina tried to interrogate Black Viper and the soldiers but she didn’t learn anything. Despite her tied up condition Black Viper kept laughing only and the soldiers told that they were on a routine patrol. Nobody knew why Black Viper was in command of that small routine patrol.

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Part 3:

In her bedroom Dilys sat down on the bed and tried to settle her thoughts. After all, she was a member of the royal family and she realized she had to behave like one. Her former life has been too easy and isolated from all duties. Was it a mistake? It didn’t matter anymore; she had to become an honorable representative. There was really nobody else here who could do it instead. She stood up and stepped forward. It was not the same Dilys who had entered this room; it was the new Dilys, the real Princess of Parth and will do everything necessary to rescue her beloved homeland.

She couldn’t wait inside and decided to look for Beca. As soon as she left the manor, she saw her talk with the Captain. Suddenly she realized the bodyguard role. A bodyguard was really important. Dilys also realized her mistakes when she was teasing Olwina. It was hard for the Captain to guard Dilys when she kept running away. Dilys felt guilty and considered apologizing to her. However it wasn’t that easy, she couldn’t do it directly; she was the Princess and it wouldn’t be appropriate to admit a mistake publicly. Nevertheless she had to find an opportunity to do it discreetly.

Dilys joined Beca and Captain Pritchett and listened to Captain’s explanation. She also was worried about their safety now, but it was a bit surprising for her why Beca asked it. As long as Dilys remembered, Beca was never interested in military matters. She waited until Captain finished and then announced her decision:

”Beca, Captain, I’ve decided to do everything necessary to rescue our homeland. I’m aware of the fact I’m the official representative of Parth in this fortress and I’d like to ask you for help and support.”

Olwina sighed in relief and had to control herself not to exult just now. Finally the Princess has realized her true role and is willing to cooperate:
“Your Majesty, I will do everything possible to help and support you in your mission.”
Beca, too, seemed pleased by Dilys’s new determination. She tugged lightly on her arm.
“My lady? Your mother, the Queen, gave this to me before we left the capital. She asked that I give this letter to you once we reached Castle Merlet.”

Dilys took the letter, breaking the seal and opening the envelope to find a short piece of paper, covered with your mother`s neat handwriting.


“My dearest daughter,

I fear that by now you are probably furious with me for placing you in this situation. Please know that it gives me great pain to do what has been done. But know ALSO that what I have done may well be the only way to save Parth.

To this point, you have led an easy life—servants, fancy clothes, fine meals, and excellent teachers. But as with everything, there is a cost. Those who live as we do are prisoners of our birth, as well as beneficiaries of it.

I doubt this will make things easier, but please know that you, at least, will have more time to get to know your intended husband than I had with your late father. We did not have the chance to have our first private conversation until after he had already taken me into his bed.

It was most fortunate that he and I grew to care deeply for one another, but even had we not, it would still have been necessary. For Parth`s sake.

This is not an easy road you walk. But I am here, and as long as that is the case, you will not walk it alone.

Love,

Your Mother”


Dilys composed herself and turned to Beca again:
“Let’s start the preparation for Prince’s arrival.”
“Your Majesty, we can start immediately. Let’s go inside and write down a list of all necessary measures.”

The remainder of the day was a whirl of preparations, as the Princess and her handmaiden were in consultation with the head of Castle Merlet`s staff, and Captain Pritchett was supervising her detachment.

In the evening, there was an elaborate dinner for the entire party, including the soldiers of the escort. Captain Parwen served as host, welcoming the new arrivals formally to Castle Merlet, as there was no time to do so the day before.

While the soldiers kept their uniforms, Olwina and Sergeant Elmira borrowed dresses from Beca and Captain Parwen for that occasion.

“Commander; you looked gorgeous in that dress,” several soldiers from Olwina’s troop commented on her outfit; they saw her in a dress for the first time. Olwina did a clumsy bow and smiled only.

It was dark outside when the dinner was over. Dilys and Beca were ushered into their chambers and they fell asleep almost instantly. Olwina and Elmira were walking towards the barracks when they spotted a maid carrying two mugs of a hot drink. She was heading towards the holding cells.

“A very strong tea for the guards; I’d like to be sure they stay vigilant,” Captain Parwen’s voice sounded behind their backs when Olwina watched the maid.

“I see,” she nodded and proceeded towards the barracks.


Two guards in the basement were surprised when a maid brought them hot drinks.
“What happened, Millie? How did we deserve this care?”
“No idea but the commander ordered them for you. You should stay vigilant to guard the important captives.”

The soldiers shook their heads. It was quite unusual but the holding cells were used rarely and they weren’t sure if it was a habit or not.

The maid left and the soldiers took a few sips of the drinks. It really was delicious but all of sudden they felt tired and their eyes closed minutes later.

Ten minutes later Captain Parwen peeked into the basement and nodded; her plan worked well. She hurried up to the cell where Black Viper was kept and opened the door.
“Captain, hurry up but don’t cut the ropes. We’ll need a lot of them.”
Captain Parwen untied Black Viper, they opened the second holding cell and freed the four Nivvenites. Two of them stripped the guards into their undergarments and put on their uniforms; afterwards they dragged the unconscious guards into the holding cell they were kept in earlier and tied them up tightly.

“Sit down at the table and wait,” Captain Parwen turned to the Nivvenites, “I’ll send the tower guards here.” She left and the Nivvenites in Parthian uniforms obeyed her command. Black Viper and the remaining two Nivvenites hid in shadows and waited.

There were four towers in the fortress corners and a tower guard on the top of each of them. Captain Parwen headed to the south west tower and climbed the stairs:

“I need you to check on the basement guards, Silven” she addressed the young soldier. “I’ll keep guard while you come back.”

The request was quite odd and Silven was taken aback by it but Captain was the commander and she couldn’t doubt her commands. She saluted and climbed down the stairs and headed towards the basement. However she was careful and pulled her sword before entering the basement chambers.

First of all she spotted two guards sitting in front of the locked old wine cellar. There were two mugs on the table. Silven was getting a bad feeling; the mugs didn’t belong there. Unfortunately the corridor was dark and she couldn’t see any details, but the uniforms didn’t fit the soldiers very well. Who were the guards? She stepped forward and took the fighting stance:

“Who the hell are you?”

Part 4:

The two guards at the table seemed a bit confused by her appearance, but neither of them rose from the table, even as she drew her sword, though the one on the left raised her hands carefully.

“Whoa, there! No need for that! I’m Alyss and this is Kempen. We’re part of Princess Dilys` escort; Captain Pritchett gave orders that we were to share the guard rotation with your people.”

That was an explanation, though not a completely convincing one. Silven might not have been told about such a development, but she hasn’t even heard rumors.

So she stepped forward through the narrow doorway, sword still raised and ready for trouble.

The two guards looked at one another, then back at her. No…they were not looking at her. They were looking behind her.

Silven realized what happened an instant later — but that was still an instant too late. The guards at the table were a distraction, meant to hold her attention. But other people have been pressed against the wall to either side of the door, where she couldn’t see them…

She was seized roughly from behind. A massive hand seized the wrist of her sword arm, pinching it with brutal strength. Her left arm was seized as well, and a hand was clamped tightly over your mouth. An instant later, she felt the prick of steel at her throat, and a voice hissed in your ear.

“Don’t move, or you’re dead. Let go of the sword. Now!”

Five minutes later Silven was trussed up next to the two guards in the holding cell. She also was stripped to her underwear and the third Nivvenite soldier was wearing her Parthian uniform.

A massive woman entered the room — it was the Black Viper! She gestured to the only soldier in Nivvenite uniform.

“You! Stay here and watch the prisoners. If any of them makes a sound, slay them all. The rest of you, come with me.”

The three women with her were now all wearing Parthian uniforms. The Viper paused, turning her back to the nearest one, placing her wrists behind her back.

“Let’s get this over with. Tie and gag me, then take me to the Captain.”

Four figures emerged from the basement; the Black Viper and three women in Parthian uniforms. Two of them were holding the Viper by her arms. Her wrists were bound behind her back, and she was gagged once again.

The guards marched her to the base of the south east tower where Captain Parwen was standing watch, one of them climbing the stairs and whispering in her ears. She remained there as Parwen climbed down.

Parwen led the Viper and her guards to the base of the south west tower. She joined the sentry at the top of the wall, who glanced down at the courtyard, curious as to why the Viper had been removed from her cell.

The commander shrugged. “I’m taking her to see Captain Pritchett. She wants to interrogate her. Why it couldn’t have waited until morning, I don’t know. But I just wanted to check on you first. Anything to report?”
“No, it’s been quiet,” the guard was curious, but had no reason to doubt her commander’s words.

Parwen nodded…then her left arm jutted out, pointing into the shadows outside the castle.
“Wait! Did you see that?”
The guard turned, squinting into the darkness.
“What? I can’t see…ugh!”

There was a dull thud as the blackjack in Parwen’s other hand struck the guard across the back of her head. The Captain caught her victim before she could fall, lowering her gently to the tower’s floor so that her armor didn’t clatter.

Below, the Viper shrugged off the rope loosely wrapped around her wrists, and climbed the stairs, her guards behind her.

The unconscious sentry was quickly stripped of her uniform, then bound and gagged. As the disguised Nivvenites worked, Parwen walked to one corner of the tower. She retrieved an item from the floor; a lantern, hooded so that its light will only be visible from one direction. She lit the lantern, and then held it over the tower`s wall, waving it back and forth three times. Then she straightened, turning to the Viper and speaking in a low voice.

“I’ve given the signal. I hope your people are in position, because if they aren’t, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”

In the middle of the night Olwina woke up; the wine from the dinner had passed her body and she had to go to the latrine. She sighed and headed towards the backyard; she still was wearing the dress and wanted to ask Captain Parwen to keep it for the next events.

As she was walking back, she noticed four dark figures moving towards the south east tower. Was it the guard shift change? Maybe, but why are they that many? To her utter surprise she recognized the huge stature of Black Viper. She seemed to be bound and gagged; why are they leading her round the courtyard in the night?

The whole group disappeared from her view by the south west tower. She waited a few minutes and then walked to the tower. There was a second surprise there. Black Viper was not tied up anymore. Olwina got quite confused. Did Captain Parwen release her secretly? She advised Olwina something else yesterday. She turned to Captain Parwen:

“What the hell is going on here? Why did you release Black Viper?”
“Captain Pritchett! I’d have thought you’d be sleeping, you’ve had a tiring day.”
She seemed surprised by Olwina’s appearance, but recovered quickly.
“I’m not releasing the Viper. I’m simply taking her up here so she can stretch for a few minutes. And we’re on top of the tower because I know that she won’t seek to escape from up here. The only way down would be to jump, and…well, you can see how that would end…”

She leaned back against the edge of the battlements, gesturing down over the side, as if inviting Olwina to take a look.

Olwina shrugged and almost left for the barracks when she decided otherwise. She climbed up the stairs and looked over the battlements.

“I know; it definitely is high but …”, she noticed dark shadows approaching the castle. “What is going on?”

She turned back and spotted the guard on the floor. At the same moment Black Viper grabbed her arms and forced them behind her back. Another soldier pressed a cloth into her mouth to silence her. Parwen took two pieces of rope and tied Olwina’s arms into a tight boxtie before Olwina was able to react.

All of sudden Olwina felt a massive guilt. She failed at her mission and due to her carelessness the Princess was in danger. She wished she would be dead.

An abrupt feeling of responsibility for the disaster hit her mind and she tried to jump down from the tower; however, her skirt prevented her from climbing over the battlements and the soldiers were still holding her.

“No, Captain. You don’t get to escape that way. It’s too easy. Bind her legs so she can’t try that again.” Black Viper grinned.

Rough hands forced her to the stone floor of the tower room, and her feet, ankles, and knees were tightly bound with ropes.

Once she was secured, Captain Parwen stood over her as the Viper and the Nivvenites walked to the balcony. The tips of a pair of scaling ladders were eased soundlessly against the walls, and, one by one, Nivvenite soldiers began to climb over the walls.

They were completely unarmored, and dressed in lightweight black clothing, complete with masks that left only their eyes exposed. Their shoes were made of soft fabric to ensure they can move silently. They seemed to be very lightly armed — Olwina spied curved daggers and short, wooden clubs, but no larger weapons. Each of the figures carried a black bag at her waist.

The Viper spoke to the first one to reach the top — the leader, presumably — in low tones.

“There will be two sentries on the towers at the far end of the castle. Deal with them first — quietly. Then you can move against the rest of the garrison; they should be sleeping.”

Parwen stepped forward.
“Captain Pritchett’s troops are quartered in the barrack near the gate — you can use the windows on the ground floor to gain entry.”

The Viper waved her arm, and small bands of Nivvenites began disappearing into the shadows, heading to fulfill their assignments.

The Viper spoke to the leader a moment longer.
“Once the garrison is dealt with, we’ll move against the manor house — the Princess is there, and she should have no one but servants to protect her.”

Olwina clenched her fists in utter frustration but she was totally helpless.


Part 5:

Beca awoke in the night; there was a strange noise in the castle. She stood up and walked slowly out of her chamber. The corridor was dark and quiet and she couldn’t hear anything now; it would be better to go back to bed.

All of sudden she heard the noise again. It was coming from outside. Beca sneaked to the window and looked outside. Dark shadows could be seen moving across the courtyard. Who were they? She watched more closely and could recognize warriors in black costumes. She got the message instantly; the castle was being attacked!

First of all she had to wake up the Princess; maybe they could hide or escape in time. Beca hurried up to her chamber and shook her shoulders:

“Your Majesty, wake up. Enemies are here!”

They dressed up quickly and hurried to the hallway. There had to be a hideout here. Unfortunately Beca heard voices from downstairs and she realized they were trapped on the upper floor. Nevertheless there had to be an option! She tried to open several doors until she found a narrow stairwell:

“Your Majesty, let’s go downstairs.”
Dilys followed her. The stairwell led to the back wing where the servants were housed.

Fortunately the enemies were not to be seen here. Anyway they have to hurry up. There was a workshop behind the first door. Some rolls of fabric and unfinished dresses could be seen in the darkness.

A sudden idea hit Beca’s mind. The soldiers wouldn’t kill them probably; they would get tied up. There had to be some tools in the tailor workshop. She hurried up to a table and found a pair of scissors and two small knives. They would be handy if they tried to escape. She hid a small knife into her shoe and the scissors under her dress. When finished, she came back to the corridor and turned to the Princess:

“Your Majesty, hide this knife, we can use it later to escape.”

Dilys looked at Beca at the first moment and tried to understand what she was saying, but a moment later she realized Beca was right. DIlys took the knife and hid it in an inner pocket of her skirt. Unfortunately her shoes were not appropriate to hide anything.

They had to get out of this wing and particularly far away from the workshop. It would be suspicious when the enemies found them there:
“Beca, let’s leave this wing as soon as possible. We mustn’t be found here.”

They hurried up to the far end of the corridor. There was a door there, probably the servants` entrance. They opened it and stepped out of the manor. They were in the back part of the courtyard, near the stables.

However there was no way to escape from there, they had to cross the whole courtyard. Dilys collected her courage and decided to step forward:

“Beca, let’s go. We can’t escape just now and I want to behave like a Princess and not hide in the shadows like a fugitive.”

Dilys raised her head proudly and began walking forward, toward the center of the courtyard. At least it would be possible to meet what was coming with dignity. It was better than being dragged, screaming, from a hiding place like a terrified servant-girl. Beca, with little choice, followed at her mistress’ heels.

They were noticed near the front of the manor house. A half-dozen of the black-clad soldiers rushed toward them, several of them seizing you by the arms. One of them, seemingly the leader, glared at them through her mask.

“Who are you! What are your names! Quickly!”
“I’m the princess Dilys,” Dilys answered courageously.

The woman’s eyes lit up with pleasure when Dilys announced her identity. She gave a quick gesture to her troops.
“Bind them! I’ll inform the Lieutenant!”

Their wrists were quickly bound behind their backs, the knots drawn tight. Longer ropes were used to secure their arms to their sides. As the captors finished tying them up, their leader returned, another woman at her heels.

She let out a sigh of relief when informed that Dilys had been captured, pointing toward the back of the tower.
“Good work! We’ll take them to the Black Viper, she’ll be at the top of that tower.”

Dilys held still while her wrists and arms were tied. The feeling of helplessness was quite terrible; she’s never experienced it. She realized she couldn’t do anything to defend herself and had to endure even a bad treatment.

As the Nivvenites were dragging them through the courtyard, she was looking around. The courtyard was full of enemies; she didn’t see any of Parthian soldiers. They had probably been defeated. However she was shocked on the tower top. It was not her bodyguard who shocked her, it was Captain Parwen. Dilys realized she was involved in this devilish plot. How was it possible? Dilys couldn’t understand how she could become a traitor.

When the warriors dragged them to the tower base, Beca had to protest: “Wait, it’s difficult to climb up the stairs with tied hands. I step onto my skirt.”

One of the soldiers opened her mouth to scold her, but she nodded then and helped her, while the other one held the skirt of the Princess.

As they reached the top of the tower, they saw the massive form of the Black Viper. She was standing quietly, her arms folded and an expression of triumph on her face. Three women in Parthian uniforms — including Captain Parwen — stood beside her, but despite the fact that they were armed, they seemed to be deferring to her.

Dilys looked around and spied Captain Pritchett. She was lying on the flagstones a few feet away, bound hand and foot, a gag tied with brutal tightness over her mouth.

The officer saluted the Viper, and Dilys with Beca were dragged forward:
“My lady! This is Princess Dilys and her handmaiden.”

The Viper turned a menacing smile toward Dilys.
“Greetings, Princess. I hope you`re enjoying your stay at the castle.”
“Sure, I’m enjoying my stay and I would enjoy it much more if your huge gorilla-like stature didn’t block my view.”

“Enjoy your little jibes while you can, Princess. Soon you’ll be nothing more than an ornament in a slave camp in Nivven.”

Viper gestured at the soldiers “We’ll make preparations to depart in the morning. In the meantime, return the Princess and her maid to her chambers. I’m sure they’re both very tired. Silence them and make sure that their night is not a comfortable one."

Coarse, wadded rags were stuffed into their mouths, and strips of cloth were tied tightly between their teeth to prevent them from spitting them out. Wide strips of linen fabric are then bound over their mouths, covering everything beneath their noses.

The soldiers grabbed Dilys and Beca at their arms and escorted them back down the stairs and to Dilys’ chamber.

The bed that Dilys had been sleeping in was a massive, canopied affair, with tall wooden posts at each corner. When they reached the bedroom, the two of them were made to stand with their back to the posts at the foot of the bed. The Nivvenite soldiers then bound Dilys and Beca to the posts with a ridiculous amount of rope. By the time they finished, the captives were both trussed from head to toe, only the ropes keeping them upright.

The leader of your guards let out a cruel laugh.
“Have a pleasant night, ladies!”

Part 6:

Inside the darkened sleeping quarters of Castle Merlet’s garrison, a dozen desperate, nearly-silent struggles broke out. Most of the Parthian troops had no warning of trouble until they were awakened by the pressure of a gloved hand against their lips. Most were overpowered before they have any opportunity to fight back, and are left trussed up in their beds as their attackers move on to the next victim.

A few of the defenders awake in time to resist. But they were unarmed, unarmored, and badly
outnumbered. While the fights that ensued were fierce, they were also both short and one-sided, the surprised Parthians beaten into submission. Most of the Nivvenites moved onward, leaving a handful of their number to stand guard over the captives, the only sounds audible in the barracks-room being the muffled groans and screams of the prisoners.

Only in the barrack, where the troops of Dilys’ escort were quartered, did the Nivvenites encounter serious resistance. This was more a matter of luck than vigilance. Sergeant Elmira, seeking a drink of water, emerged from the gatehouse just as the attackers were preparing to enter. Though surprised, the Sergeant let out a cry, sending the first Nivvenite crashing to the courtyard floor with a blow from one muscled fist. She was clubbed to the ground seconds later, but her outcry gave the soldiers sleeping inside a few moments’ warning, and unlike the castle garrison, Dilys’ escort slept with their weapons beside them.

The Nivvenite rush was met with bared swords, and the stealth troops were forced to withdraw, leaving three of their number dead behind them. One of the Parthians attempted to lead a charge into the courtyard, seeking to rescue the beleaguered Sergeant Elmira. But the first two soldiers to emerge from the doorway were immediately entangled by thrown nets, and then dragged into the shadows, and the others were forced to retreat, a standoff setting in. The Nivvenites couldn’t enter the gatehouse without being immediately slain by the Parthian soldiers within, but the soldiers found themselves trapped, unable to exit the building they occupied.

Shirrill, one of the best soldiers, took the command: “Let’s look for some usable resources!”
The barracks wasn’t large and they could search it quickly. When Shirrill was about to end the vain search, she stepped onto a trapdoor. She opened it and looked into a dark corridor. Maybe it was a secret escape route. The soldiers came to her and want to enter the corridor immediately when she stopped them:

“Wait! If we all escaped, our enemies would know about the corridor and they could capture us outside. However they don’t know how many of us are here. I suppose that two or three of us enter the corridor and flee unobserved. They could reach the capital or Prince Therian and pass the message about our fate.”

Everybody nodded. The only problem was how to pick up the lucky ones. Shirrill supposed a fair solution, a draw. Using long and short pieces of wood three soldiers were selected. They entered the corridor and the remaining ones moved a bed over the trapdoor.

The corridor was long and narrow and after almost a mile the three warriors crawled out of it. It was dark and the castle was out of sight. Glenda headed towards the Carlessian border in a hope to find the Prince with his entourage and her comrades headed back towards the capital; however each of them took a different route.

Shirrill waited for about half an hour and decided to give up. She hoped that the three soldiers would be in safety. The bodyguards left the barrack without their weapons. Nivvenites were taken aback at first but they acted quickly. The Parthians had to go back to the barrack, lie down on their beds, they were stripped to their underwear and tied up tightly at wrists and ankles and gagged.

The servants had quite a bit more warning than the troops did — most of them were awakened by the sounds of fighting at the gatehouse. But unlike soldiers, they had little idea how to respond, and when black-clad figures burst through the manor house’s front doors, most of them simply flee, screaming. This caused the invaders some difficulties, as it took a while to chase them down, but with the walls held by the Nivvenites, there was nowhere for them to run, and one by one they were found and captured.

As soon as the last servant was captured, the last of the chaos inside the castle died down; the Nivvenites had won and the black clad figures were moving throughout the courtyard — now doing so openly.

After a few minutes, several of them approached Olwina and the tower guard, who now regained consciousness. They were picked up and carried down the tower stairs, the guard being taken to the barracks. Olwina was carried across the courtyard and laid down in the barrack beside her troops.

She could see their faces…Sergeant Elmira … Shirrill … Emylyne … every one of your hand-picked detachment seemed to have been … wait! Not all of them. Three seemed to be missing. Were they killed in the fighting … or have they escaped?

Olwina looked at Sergeant Elmira, a question in her eyes. Elmira didn’t seem to understand her at first, then she looked around and finally her eyes slid through the troop. She had probably found out that three of us were missing, but she shrugged and shook her head; apparently she didn’t know anything. How was it possible?

Sergeant Elmira couldn’t respond to Olwina’s query, but a slight grunt drew her attention. Captain turned her head to spy Shirrill. She met her eyes for just an instant, her jaw tightening around her gag. She inclined her head toward the floor, then nodded toward the west. Then she looked away, not wanting to attract attention by trying to communicate further.


The night passed slowly and Nivvenites started preparations for the long journey. They opened the main gate and a small group of soldiers with a carriage entered the castle. The carriage was full of weapons, armor, uniforms and clothing. The stealth troops couldn’t wear heavy weapons and armor but they needed them for the journey to Nivven. The soldiers changed from the black overalls to their regular Nivven uniforms and put on shoes and armor. They also took weapons and armor from the castle resources.

As soon as the Nivvenites changed their clothing, they unloaded more clothing from the carriage. That clothing was used to transport female slaves and keep them helpless. The long dresses didn’t have sleeves and the tied hands were trapped inside. A belt held the wrists at the captive’s back.

A small group of soldiers took the dresses and put them on all Parthian soldiers. It was quite simple; they could pull the dress over captives’ heads and pull the belts taut.

The servants were untied and they had to load more carriages with food under supervision of the Nivvenites. After that they were tied up again and the Nivvenites could relax for about two hours until dawn when they wanted to set off.

Part 7:

Glenda was walking towards Prince Therian and his entourage. She hoped to find them soon and report what happened.

It was quite difficult to walk in the dark night and she found a small cave in the forest to have a bit of rest. The night was uneventful and the next morning she proceeded. According to the messenger the Prince should arrive at the castle in two days. If she took the correct route, they could meet this evening or the next night.

The dawn light woke her from her fitful rest, and she quickly set out on her desperate search. Hunger was already starting to gnaw at her — there was no time to grab provisions in her haste to escape from Castle Merlet. It wouldn’t be enough to find Prince Therian and his procession, she was going to need to find food and water for herself, or she’d never reach them.

Glenda still kept hiding and didn’t walk down the path. Although she was heading away from the Nivvenite territory, there still could be some patrols around. She kept moving away from the path, but searching for signs of water. After half an hour she could hear the distant noise of a creek. There was a small creek down the hill and she could quench her thirst. Finding food was trickier when she didn’t want to attract attention. However she managed to find several fruits and assuage her hunger as well.


Dilys’ condition was very uncomfortable. It was difficult to sleep in the standing position and the gag was drying her mouth. Suddenly an idea hit her mind and she broke out in a cold sweat. What if she needed to use the chamber pot? Would she be untied, would she be assisted or would she have to wet her panties? It would be the top humiliation in either case.

Beca looked at the Princess. It had to be hard for her. The poor girl hadn’t been prepared for this situation. Unlike Dilys, she pondered the reason for this measure. It was highly probable Black Viper did them despite and wanted to make them uncomfortable. It wasn’t necessary to use that much rope to secure them, particularly the Princess and her.

Beca hoped that they would be tied in a simpler manner during their journey. Being tied like this her escape tools were definitely out of her reach and the Princess couldn’t help her either.

The Black Viper, it turned out, was an early riser. Despite the fact that she can’t have slept more than a couple of hours during the night, she strode boldly into Dilys’ chambers at first light, looking around the room like a Queen surveying her domain. The Nivvenite guards snapped to attention as she entered, saluting.

She pointed an arm at the two of them.
“Untie them from the posts, free the handmaiden’s hands and remove their gags.”

This took the guards several minutes, but eventually the captives were free from the bedposts and hauled to stand before the Viper. She favored them with an evil grin.

“We’ve a long journey ahead of us today, Princess. Now your handmaiden takes care of you and of herself; however your arms stay tied up.”

Dilys was desperate and she almost did a pee dance; however she stopped and hoped that Beca would guess what was going on. Fortunately, Beca was smart enough. Her condition wasn’t that bad and she hurried up to help Dilys.

While the Nivvenites were laughing, Beca got the chamber pot from beneath the bed, lifted Dilys’ skirt, pulled down the panties and helped her squat down. Dilys blushed deep red when she relieved herself in that humiliating way but it was her only option.

Beca also relieved herself; the soldiers weren’t laughing as much as before. After that two more soldiers entered the room, carrying a plate with bread and water and a bowl of cold water and rag.

The bread wasn’t as delicious as the meals before but Dilys and Beca were hungry. Beca fed Dilys, ate her own portion and cleaned their faces. As soon as she finished, the soldiers grabbed her and tied her wrists and arms again.


Down in the barracks Nivvenite soldiers prepared the captives for the journey - untied their legs and escorted them to the latrines first. The captives were utterly helpless; their arms were trapped inside the dresses. Moreover, the soldiers rarely wore dresses and walking in long skirts was quite difficult. It was humiliating when their skirts were lifted and they were assisted to squat over the latrines.

Meanwhile the servants were untied and they had to prepare a simple breakfast and feed the captives.

When breakfast was over, the servants were tied up again and Black Viper started the last preparations. A procession was formed. Princess Dilys and Beca were escorted from the room and they had to walk on the head of the procession.

The Parthian soldiers and servants were walking in three columns behind the most important captives. The ox-drawn wagons closed the entire procession.

Captain Parwen walked around the column but suddenly she stopped.
“Wait!”
The Viper turned toward her, anger crossing her face.
“Surely you haven’t developed scruples, have you, Captain?”

Parwen shook her head. She’s been watching Olwina and the other captured members of Dilys’ escort.
“No! It’s not that!”
She pointed toward the captive Parthians.
“Where are the rest of them? There should be twenty-one. But there are only eighteen of them here.”

The Viper`s eyes narrowed, and she turned a glare on Captain Pritchett.
“Where ARE they? Where are the rest of them?”
“Oh, the passageway! There’s a tunnel! I’d forgotten it, because we haven’t used it in so long! But it runs from the gatehouse to a point well beyond the western walls. They must have gotten out through there. They’ll be heading for the capital, I’ll bet!” Parwen interjected

The Viper`s face darkened in anger.
“You fool! How could you have neglected to mention this to me!!!”
But a moment later, she was snapping orders to one of her officers.

“Get horses from the stables. Take your best tracker, and get a patrol out after them. They have to be on foot, and they can’t have gotten that far—you’ll be able to catch them if you can ride.
I want them FOUND, and I want them brought BACK here, do you understand? Quickly!”

The courtyard descended into the flurry of activity. Within mere minutes of Parwen’s realization, eight mounted riders galloped through the gates, heading toward the east, in the direction of the concealed tunnel’s exit.

“Forward!” Black Viper rode to the head of the procession, motioned her sword and the procession started moving through the gate and to the road. Captain Parwen joined Viper and the Nivvenite soldiers were marching on both sides of the procession.

Ten minutes later the castle was abandoned and there were only two or three dogs running across the yards. However the Nivvenites couldn’t take all resources and some food, uniforms and weapons were left behind.

Part 8:

Glenda returned to the path and proceeded towards the north, hoping to find the Prince. Anyway I have a long journey ahead until I can reach his entourage.

Her journey was really long and she was advancing slowly. Fortunately she hadn’t seen any signs of Nivvenites so far. Hopefully they weren’t tracing her just now. She managed to find more springs and fruits and could keep her strength.

The sun was setting when she spotted two riders on the northern horizon. Who could they be? She hid and waited until they came closer. To her relief they were wearing Carlessian uniforms and they were men. She never saw male Nivvenite soldiers, so she could take the risk and contact them. Still hidden and prepared to defending herself she shouted at them:

“Who are you? Is Prince Therian nearby?”

The sight of the two men in Carlessian uniform was a little bit surprising, given when the Prince’s procession was scheduled to arrive at Castle Merlet. It was possible that they were just outriders, sent to scout ahead, but even so, she hadn’t expected to encounter them so quickly.

Her shout brought both of them up short, hands reflexively reaching for their weapons. They were both very big men, with broad shoulders and blonde hair. One of them turned in the direction of her voice.

“I am Gvingni! I am a soldier of the Duke of Carlesse, here at the invitation of the Queen of Parth! Show yourself, I don’t like speaking with those I can’t see!”

She stood up and talked to Gvingni:

“I’m Glenda from the Princess Dilys bodyguard troop. Unfortunately I have got bad news. The Nivvenites have conquered Castle Merlet. I could escape through a secret passage. You should be careful.”

“Could I join you?” she stepped out of the bushes.

The big rider blinked as Glenda emerged from concealment, his eyes first narrowing with suspicion, then widening in surprise as she uttered her warning.

“What? You say that the castle has been overrun?”

He looked as though he had got several questions he wished to ask — but then quickly decided that those questions were best asked by someone above his pay grade.
He extended a massive hand downward toward her.

“You can ride behind me. Climb up, and hold on tight. But first…”
He looked apologetic.
“Give your weapons to my friend here. I regret treating you with such suspicion, but that tale you’ve spun is hard to believe, friend.”

Glenda was a bit surprised by the request, but after all, he was right. She could be a disguised Nivvenite soldier. So she got her sword and dagger and passed it to his friend:
“I can understand you. You can’t know who I really am. I trust you.”

After Glenda surrendered her weapons, the big Carlessian again offered her his hand. He swung her effortlessly up onto the horse’s back, despite her weight and that of her armor. He actually blushed when Glenda said that she trusted him.

“Ah…thank you. And again, I am sorry. I`ll make sure that your equipment is returned once we can confirm that what you have said is true.”

With that, he wheeled his horse around, and set off to the north at a gallop, his partner falling in behind him. As they rode, he called back over his shoulder, yelling so that she’d be able to hear above the noise of the wind and the horse’s hooves.

“We’re several hours ahead of the Prince’s procession, but if we ride hard, we should be able to reach them before night has fallen!”

Sitting behind Gvingni Glenda felt his strong body. He was quite different, tall and muscular and she was hardly able to enclasp his torso. Looking at his weapon she was not sure if she would be able to use it. It was a heavy two-handed axe. It would be difficult for her to lift it and give a single stroke.

When she told him she trusted him, he blushed and she liked the blush. Now she was holding him tightly and it was almost like she was hugging him. She leaned to him closer involuntarily and held him even tighter than necessary. The feeling was relaxing. She hadn’t thought about men so far; the military drill had been occupying her mind totally. Now the closeness of a strong muscular man made her heart beat quicker and she didn’t understand her own emotions. All of sudden she didn’t focus on the surroundings and for an unknown reason felt safe. She even wished the ride would last long, very long.

From time to time, Gvingni and his partner (who he introduces as Svannulf) paused to get their bearings. But throughout the rest of the day, they continued to head north. Night was starting to fall when Gvingni let out a grunt of triumph, pointing ahead of them.

“Ah! There they are!”
It seemed he’d found Prince Therian’s procession.

Glenda jumped off the horse, smiled at Gvingni and waited until he dismounted. She almost regretted the ride was over, but she realized her duties and asked him:

“Gvingni, could you lead me to the commander? I have to report to him what happened.”
“This way, Ga-len…Glenda.”
He seemed to be struggling with her name.

Glenda was led to the center of the camp. A large bonfire burnt there, and she could smell something cooking. Two men sat beside the fire. One was of average height and slim build, sporting a disordered mop of brown hair.

The other man was massive. In terms of size, he put even Gvingni to shame. His blonde hair cascaded to his shoulders, and a massive, drooping mustache framed his mouth.

He looked up at her approach, curiosity appearing on his face.
“Ya, Gvingni! What have you brought us this evening?”

Standing in front of the giant man Glenda had to lift her head to look in his eyes:

“Let me introduce myself. I’m Glenda, a soldier from Princess’ Dilys entourage. Unfortunately I have very bad news. The Nivvenites set a trap in the Castle Merlet. The Black Viper is their commander.

We captured her along with a small patrol. The next night she could escape somehow and we were attacked by Nivvenites. Fortunately our small group was ready to fight and we were defending the small gatehouse. My comrade revealed a secret passage and the three of us managed to escape. My two comrades took the way to the capital and I headed north to find your troop. I don’t know what happened after we left.”

The big man listens to your tale impassively, then turns to his smaller colleague.
“That’s quite a tale to swallow, wouldn’t you say, my lord?”

The brown-haired man nods, rubbing his chin.
“Yes, Captain Hrolf. Very suspicious. And it’s strange that our guest, here, has managed to find her way to us so quickly.”
“But she is wearing Parthian uniform…”

Realization set in quickly. The smaller man was Prince Therian. The giant blonde before her had to be the commander of his escort — the Carlessian equivalent of Captain Pritchett.

The Prince eyed her, dark eyes probing her with intensity, his face a mask she couldn’t read. He turned to the Captain.

“Have the Maester brought here. I`ll have him interrogate her. I’m quite certain he’ll be able to determine whether or not she’s telling the truth.
“Your Majesty, I don’t have anything to hide. I don’t know who Maester is, but I hope he can affirm my words.” Glenda turned to Prince Therian.

The Prince gave her a mysterious smile.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that, if I were you…Glenda, is it? The Maester is very good at learning the truth from people.”

The Prince’s Maester turned out to be an elderly man, likely in his early sixties, with white hair and a full beard. He looked like somebody’s grandfather. But his dark eyes glittered with intelligence as he seated himself across the fire from Glenda.

“Good evening, young miss. I’m told that you claim to be a member of Princess Dilys’ bodyguard, yes?
Very well, then. The Princess — describe her. What does she look like?”

The question seemed to be quite easy for her. She spent five days with her Princess and could watch her closely:

“My Princess is a pretty petite blond. I’d say she is good-hearted, but she … forgive my … looks a bit immature. She hates to have a bodyguard and keeps running away from her. It was a difficult task to care for her safety. Our poor commander has been busy for the whole journey to Castle Merlet.”

After Glenda gave her description, the Maester stared at you, unblinking, for several seconds. Then he burst into laughter.
“She’s a Parthian soldier, my lord. And one who’s spent a great deal of time around the Princess, I’d wager, the description she just gave fits the young lady to a tee.”

His face became more serious.
“So I believe this means that she’s telling us the truth, my lord. Which means that we have an entirely different set of problems.”

Prince Therian leaned closer to you, his gaze almost frighteningly intense.
“You said that the castle was overrun by the Nivvenites? What happened? How did they manage to overcome the castle’s defenses so quickly? And what have they done with the Princess?”

Glenda felt an immense relief when the Maester proved her identity. She tried to tell the Prince as much as she remembered:

“During our journey to the Castle Merlet our scout discovered a small Nivvenite patrol. The patrol was led by the Black Viper. A troop from the castle captured them later; however they seemed to be very careless and capturing them was quite easy.

The captives had been put into the holding cells and guarded by two soldiers from the castle garrison. In the night many Nivvenites appeared suddenly as if somebody helped them to get into the castle. I didn’t hear the gate open, so they probably used ladders. Our Sergeant awoke in the night and she got attacked. The noise woke us and we were able to defend our hideout. My comrade found the entrance to a secret passage and three of us escaped. As for the Princess, I didn’t see her in the night.”

The Maester and the Prince exchanged glances as you explained what you know. They shared a nod.
“Treachery,” the old man says just one word. Therian picked up where he left off.
“There must have been a traitor within the castle. Someone who could’ve let them in and made sure the sentries didn’t see them. But that means…”

The older man nodded again.
“Yes. It means that the Princess has almost certainly been taken prisoner by the Nivvenites. We should make haste to Castle Merlet in the morning. On horseback, we could be there well before sundown.”

“Yes! And if they’re still there…,” Therian suddenly looked energized.
The guard Captain held up a warning hand.

“Hold, sire! I’m commanding a royal escort, not an army. We don’t have nearly enough troops to take a castle under siege. In fact, if we’re attacked, I’m not even sure we could guarantee your safety.”

“But what, then…?” Therian looked upset.

The Maester interjected.
“I don’t believe they’ll be there. Nivven is strong, but this far north, they can only raid. They can’t stay. They’ll be taking their captives south. I’m sure when we arrive, we’ll find an empty castle. What I wish to do is look for clues.”

“Excuse me, please, but I’m a little tired and exhausted; I have been walking since this morning and didn’t have any rations with me. Besides this, I’m still a soldier, so could I have my weapons back?” Glenda turned to the Prince.

“That should be fine, I think. Gvingni.”

This was directed to the man she first encountered during your trip north. He nodded and disappeared into the camp, returning a minute later, her weapons in his arms. They were passed to her, and he then gestured into the camp.

“We don’t have a lot of women in the Prince’s entourage, but some of the servants are female. You’d probably be more comfortable sleeping in one of their tents; if you’ll follow me, I’ll take you there.”

Glenda took her weapons from Gvigni’s hands and touched him involuntarily. The touch was very pleasant and she even wished to get more opportunities. When he asked her to follow him, she smiled and stepped forward.

Deeper in the camp they approached two smaller tents. A young girl, probably a maid, was standing in front of one. Gvingni explained to her who Glenda was. The maid stretched her hand towards Glenda and smiled at her:

“Sit down, Glenda and relax. I’m Caitlyn, I will give you food and water and then you can have some sleep in our tent.”

Half an hour later Glenda lay down in the tent and Caitlyn spoke to her: “Glenda, I could see your gaze. Gvingni is really a handsome man and a half of the maids dreams of him.”
“Oh, was it that visible?” Glenda smiled at the maid and her eyes closed.

Caitlyn smiled at Glenda as she slipped beneath her own blanket.
“Oh, yes. Your face lights up every time you’re near him. Of course, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’d pay a month’s wages to have him lead me on a tour of the camp.”

Part 9:

Beca was marching in the middle column and thinking of her options. Her wrists and arms were tied up tightly behind her back and she couldn’t reach any of her escape tools. She would need help.

Olwina was marching on her left and her arms were tied in a tight boxtie. She probably didn’t have any escape tools with her.

Dilys was marching on her right and she wasn’t tied up that tightly; nevertheless she also couldn’t reach under her skirt to retrieve the knife.

While walking Beca realized that the ropes on her torso weren’t too tight and she could loosen them if she exhaled. It was a slight chance. She also could pull her wrists apart while being tied up. Her mood improved and she had more topics to think of.

There was another chance to escape. Beca had assisted the Princess earlier and she hoped she would do it again. She had to be untied and retied later. While assisting she could retrieve the hidden knife and cut several strands of rope.

Beca looked back inconspicuously to check the other captives. All soldiers except Sergeant Elmira were wearing slave dresses and their arms were trapped inside the clothing. They couldn’t use their hands at all. However Beca realized that their wrists could be cut free while hidden inside the dress. The only problem was that somebody had to do it. Beca didn’t know if she would assist somebody else besides the Princess.

Elmira’s arms were tied in a tight boxtie just like Olwina’s. However Beca could damage the ropes by cutting several strands of them.

Her first task was talking with Dilys and Elmira first; however they still were gagged.

The morning passed slowly and the procession stopped for a short rest. The servants were untied and so was Beca:

“Hurry up; you won’t be the personal maid; you take care of the Princess, Captain, Sergeant and three more soldiers.”

The Nivvenites removed gags of all captives and Beca moved to Dilys first to assist her. She led Dilys a little aside and lifted her skirt:

“Your Majesty, we have to think of an escape attempt as soon as possible,” she whispered.

Dilys nodded only, relieved herself and walked back. Beca hurried up to the other captives. While assisting them she checked their ropes. Olwina and Elmira were tied up tightly and she had to damage many strands. It would be a hard task.

Silven was a bit surprised when Beca touched her arms beneath the dress but she got the message quickly:

“My arms are not tied. If you freed the wrists, I’d be able to get free,” she whispered while peeing.

After assisting the captives at toileting Beca had to feed them. About an hour later the rest was over and the soldiers grabbed Beca to tie her up again. She decided to be careful but try out the techniques to loosen the ropes. She pulled her wrists apart while the soldiers wound the ropes on them. She also inhaled when they put the torso ropes.

The result was satisfactory even if she still couldn’t free her wrists on her own. However she could slide the torso ropes down and reach to her shoe.

The procession proceeded her journey but Black Viper wasn’t enthusiastic:
“We are too slow, Parwen. We’ll need days to get to Nivven. Isn’t it possible to walk faster?”
“I’m afraid not unless the captives were untied while walking.”
Viper shrugged only; the captives outnumbered the Nivvenite troops and the ropes were the only means to control them.

The afternoon was uneventful but Dilys was getting exhausted and she slowed down even more.
Viper got angry and turned to Olwina:

“Your little mistress isn’t used to walking, is she? I’m going to make you carry her tomorrow. It’s not my fault that the pampered brat never had to learn a bit of endurance.”

As evening began to fall, the Viper called a halt.
“Not nearly as far as I’d hoped to get, but we can’t march after dark. Fall out and start setting up camp!”

Nivvenite soldiers started setting the camp. One of the wagons was loaded with blankets, probably taken from the guards’ and servants’ quarters. A blanket was laid out for each prisoner — it seemed that they were expected to sleep on the ground. Fires were lit in several places, probably more to help the Nivvenites keep watch over the prisoners than to provide warmth.

Beca inhaled when the guards removed her ropes so they wouldn’t find out about her effort. After that she sat down on the blanket next to Dilys and Olwina. She removed her own gag while the guards removed the gags of other prisoners.

The servants started making dinner and the prisoners had to wait until it got ready. Two male servants had to dig a latrine.

Elmira and the three soldiers sat down near Beca, Dilys and Olwina so Beca could feed them easily. Beca turned to them:

“Sorry to ask you this but do you have to pee before dinner or can you hold it? I know it’s embarrassing but necessary.”
All prisoners shook their heads; their bladders weren’t full yet and they could wait until night.

Dilys was just about to address Olwina, when she started to apologize:
“Your Majesty, forgive me please …”
“Captain, stop your apology. It wasn’t your fault and we don’t have time for courtesies now. I wouldn’t like to see the slave camp from inside.”
“Your Majesty, neither would I, but to be honest I don’t know what to do now. I’ve been tied up for the whole time. Do you know how to escape?”
“Captain, first of all leave out the Majesty, at least until we get back to the Royal Castle. We are three captives now. The same for you, Beca. Unfortunately I don’t know how to escape, but the idea of carrying me could provide you an opportunity. If you carry me, your hands have to be free.”

Listening to the Princess, Beca and the other prisoners were taken aback by Dilys’ behavior change. She turned into a courageous girl and wanted to fight. It wasn’t the spoiled brat anymore. It was Beca’s my turn now to give away her experience:

“You … ,Dilys, Captain, I probably have some ideas. I’ve found two small knives and a pair of scissors. Prin … Dilys has got a knife hidden beneath her skirt and I have got the remaining tools. Moreover, you can get a leeway in your torso ropes if you inhale deeply at the moment the rope is being applied. Captain, would you like to have a tool?”

“I’m not sure; my arms are tied up tightly and I can’t reach the tools.” Olwina shook her head.
“I take the risk even if my arms are tied up,” Elmira interjected.
“I also could have a tool if we found a place to hide it,” Silven added.

A servant brought them dinner and Beca fed her prisoner group and ate her own portion. After that she started thinking about how to pass the tools to Elmira and Silven.

She led her group to the latrine and lifted Dilys’ skirt first to assist her. While doing it Beca reached to the inner pocket and pulled out the small knife. Later she put the knife into Elmira’s shoe.

Silven was the next one to place a tool. Beca pulled out the scissors from her pocket and put it into Silven’s shoe. Now all three tools were distributed but they had to wait for an opportunity to use them.

As soon as they came back to their place, the soldiers tied Beca’s wrists and arms; she didn’t use any technique and got tied up tightly. The prisoners had to lie down on the blankets, their legs were tied and they were wrapped in the blankets. Cloth rags were forced into their mouths to silence them.

A little later hoofbeats sounded in the distance, and several riders thundered into the camp. It was the patrol that was dispatched this morning to chase down the escapees, and Olwina was disheartened to note that they had two of the members of her command with them, bound, gagged, and thrown over the back of a spare horse.

The patrol commander reported with an exuberant salute.
“We got them, my lady! They were heading east, just as Captain Parwen said they would be. The second one put up a bit of a fight, but we’ve carried out your orders!”
“Yes. And the third one?” The Viper gave a questionable look.

The patrol leader shrugged uncomfortably.
“There…wasn’t a trail. These two were going the same direction, but we couldn’t find a third one. Are you sure these weren’t the only ones?”
“Of course I’m sure!” Viper started scolding the officer but she calmed down.

“It doesn’t matter — she’s going the wrong direction, there are no major Parthian garrisons to the north. And even if you went back out, you’d never find her now.”

The two captured escapees were pulled down from the horse’s back, carried to the center of the, stripped of their uniforms and the slave dresses were put on them. Unlike the other prisoners, no effort was made to give them food or water; probably as a punishment for the difficulty they imposed on the Nivvenites.

Olwina felt another rush of guilty feeling and she desperately wanted to talk to the two soldiers. She also would like to know something about the third one. Moreover, she didn’t understand why Captain Parwen didn’t notify Viper about Prince Therian’s troops. Parwen had to be informed about those troops though.

Dilys couldn’t fall asleep; her body hurt from the long walk. She was sure she wouldn’t be able to march the next day.

Beca fell asleep almost immediately; she was satisfied and ready for the next day. The escape tools were distributed among Elmira and Silven and they had to wait for an opportunity.

Part 10:

In the morning the guards untied the captives’ legs and Beca again had to take care of the small group like the day before. However Dilys was hardly able to stand due to her numb body and Beca with a guard had to support her most of the time. The bread and water helped her a bit, but she was still weak and exhausted. The gag didn’t improve her condition and she needed to be supported again to stand up.

Olwina was untied but ropes were tied to her waist and two guards were leading her. She had to pick up Dilys and carry her.

Beca’s body was totally numb in the morning. She needed some time to compose herself and stand up. The breakfast gave her a little strength. However, she was still very weak and hardly able to assist the prisoners she was assigned to. As the guards tied her up, she was too weak to use the escape technique and her wrists and arms were tied tightly.

When they were formed for the next march, she was hardly standing; all her muscles were numb and tired. Although she didn’t collapse immediately, she was sure she would collapse after a few miles.

The columns of prisoners formed up once again, prodded into order by the tips of Nivvenite spears. The process takes some time, as many of the captives were still bleary-eyed with exhaustion. After a number of minutes, the Viper let out a shrill whistle, and the procession began the day’s march.

As soon as Olwina was untied, she picked up Dilys. Fortunately the Princess was petite and Olwina was able to carry her. Anyway she didn’t know how long she’d be able to keep the pace. The gag limited her breathing and she wouldn’t have too much strength.

They started marching again. Carrying Dilys was hard and her pace was getting slower. Despite all the prodding she wasn’t not able to keep the pace Viper would like to have. Rivulets of sweat were running down her body. She was watching Beca and the maid probably would collapse soon.

Half an hour later Beca got a strange feeling, her head spun and moments later everything went dark. She collapsed and fell down to the ground.

Captain Pritchett struggled dutifully, carrying her charge. But eventually, even her formidable strength gave out. When Beca collapsed, Olwina, too, was forced to sink to her knees, carefully laying Princess Dilys upon the ground. Shouts, threats, and even prodding boots prove incapable of forcing her back to her feet.

The Viper and Parwen, alerted by the pause in the column’s march, stopped and returned. The Viper took in the situation, anger radiating off of her. But she seemed to realize that beating Olwina wouldn’t improve the situation, and she was not about to leave her prized captives to die of exhaustion by the side of the road.

A barked order brought one of the wagons to the head of the column. A small space was cleared among its contents, and the three of them were picked up and dumped inside. Guards climbed aboard with the prisoners, ropes in their hands.

Olwina’s arms were tied in the boxtie again; then their legs were drawn up behind your backs, and all three prisoners were hogtied. A minute later, there was the crack of a whip, and the wagon lurched forward. They might be allowed to ride, but their captors obviously didn’t want their ride to be a comfortable one.

Dilys was still exhausted but she was awake while Beca was unconscious. For now Olwina wasn’t able to do anything but wait.The scissors were hidden in Beca’s shoe but there was no chance to get it in the hogtied position.

The morning passed and the Viper was getting angrier. The procession was moving slowly and even prodding with spears didn’t help.

“Parwen, what would we do? We don’t have too much time unless we take the risk of a rescue mission.”
“Maybe we could ungag the prisoners; they have problems with breathing and that slows them down.”
“Okay; after all they can scream as much as they want; nobody helps them. Let’s do it after the lunch break. Speaking of breaks; they also are very long.”
“We have too few servants; would you like to untie some soldiers?”
“Of course not. However, we can use our soldiers to help the servants.”

The lunch break really was shorter. The Nivvenites had to assist the prisoners at their toileting while the servants were making the meal.

Two guards climbed into the wagon where the three prominent captives were tied up and undid their gags: “Lunch time!”

Beca still was in a half-sleep condition and hardly able to communicate or even understand what was going on. She ate and drank everything and relaxed again.

Dilys ate and drank her portion and she felt the growing pressure in her bladder. However she was too embarrassed to ask for assistance.

Olwina, on the other hand, was fully awake and she protested.

“What about our needs? I have to relieve myself and can’t do it in my condition. Princess and Beca also would need it.”
“Your assistant seems to be a bit indisposed. You would have to wait.”

Olwina clenched her fists in her helpless anger but she couldn’t do anything. They would have to face an embarrassing experience soon.
“Hey, what does it mean? Toilet privileges are guaranteed even for prisoners!”

Her protests were silenced by the cruel gag and the guards laughed only. They gagged Dilys and Beca as well and jumped off the wagon.

The lunch break was over and the procession moved forward again.The marching prisoners were ungagged but Viper warned them:

“Don’t scream or you get gagged again. Your screams will be useless anyway.”

About an hour later Dilys started a desperate squirming when the pressure in her bladder grew and became unpleasant. Beca watched her but she couldn’t help her Princess and she also was in a similar condition.

Suddenly Dilys’ bladder muscles gave up. The pee soaked the front and side of her skirt and tears appeared in her eyes. The embarrassment was too much for her and she couldn’t do anything to clean herself or even to hide the wet patches.

Beca could hold her pee about half an hour longer but she had to face the same embarrassment.

Olwina was in better condition and she had sweated a lot while carrying Dilys; nevertheless she couldn’t endure from morning. Unlike Dilys and Beca she managed to stay calm and didn’t feel any embarrassment; after all she was a trained soldier and a wet skirt couldn’t throw her off balance.

She considered their route. She knew they were heading toward Parth’s southern border, where they’d cross into Nivven. Even better, she actually knew this area, because she was stationed there early in her career.

Shortly before the border, they’d cross a stone bridge over a fast-moving river. The river was likely to be swollen with rain at this time of year. That information might or might not be useful…

Meanwhile, a dark cloud bank appeared in the west and a strong wind started blowing from that direction. A rain or thunderstorm was approaching the place where the procession was moving through a forest.

“Stop and cover the wagons quickly! The resources and loot mustn’t get wet”, Viper barked the order and stopped her horse. Nivvenites quickly grabbed the thick canvases and placed them on the wagons. Olwina, Beca and Dilys were trapped beneath the thick fabric.

As soon as the wagons were covered, Viper made the procession move faster:

“Hurry up! We have to get out of this forest as soon as possible.” a distant thunder emphasized her words but the prisoners couldn’t walk too fast.

The path led through a forest and some branches stuck out just above it. Black Viper and Captain Parwen were riding on the head of the columns when the rain started. Moments later lightning struck somewhere nearby. A few Nivvenite soldiers seemed to be startled and whispered a silent prayer. Their fear was justified; a forest was a dangerous place during a thunderstorm.

The next lightning struck the tree next to the path. Its glow blinded all in the front end. Captain Parwen was riding under a branch and her iron helmet with a sharp spike became fatal for her; a spark jumped from the branch directly to the spike. For a moment she and her horse seemed to be a part of the lightning. At the same moment an ominous thunder deafened all ears in the whole train. The tree split in two halves and fell directly before the horses.

Captain Parwen and her horse sank to the ground and smoke was rising from their dead bodies. Viper and her horse didn’t get hit directly but the pressure wave threw them away. Viper fell down to the ground and passed out.

The first wagon was in a safe distance and the Nivvenite driving the first wagon was able to stop it instinctively. However she stared at the scene wide-eyed. She was in the bait patrol with Black Viper and knew exactly what had happened. A terrible idea hits her mind; the traitor has been punished by divine intervention. She jumped out of the wagon and knelt down, screaming desperately:

“A divine punishment! Oh, Lord, save us!”
A small Nivvenite group was walking immediately behind the wagon. One of the soldiers turned back and ran along the columns, screaming in terror: “Divine punishment, help!” A sergeant tried to stop her:

“Stop immediately and shut up!”, but she ran away, hunted down by her own fear.

Two minutes later the panic spread among the Nivvenites and almost a third of them were kneeling down and praying. The remaining ones were confused. Some of them ran to the front end, but when they saw Viper and Parwen lying on the ground, they were startled.

A few Nivvenites who kept the cold blood including the officers realized the immediate danger; the captives could escape. However there were few of them and they had to do many tasks; help their commander, restore the discipline and guard the captives.

Part 11:

As morning broke, the Carlessian camp came to life. Glenda was given a light, but tasty breakfast, shared with Caitlyn and the other serving girls in the tent. As she was finishing, a messenger arrived, requesting her presence at the Prince’s tent.

As she arrived, she spied Prince Therian, Captain Hrolf, the old Maester, Gvingni, and a handful of Carlessian soldiers. Several saddled horses stood nearby.

The Prince approached her.
“Glenda? I’m sending out a patrol under Captain Hrolf to take a look at Castle Merlet. I’d like you to guide them there, and once they arrive, I want you to try to enter the castle.

We need to know everything we can about what happened there since your escape. I`d go myself…”

He glowered at the Maester.
“…but my advisers insist that it’s not safe for me to go. My apologies.I’m not the sort who prefers to hide behind others.”
“Of course, Your Majesty, I will guide the patrol to Castle Merlet and will do my best to help you.”

They mounted the horses and rode off. The Captain was leading the patrol and Glenda had to ride next to him to guide them. However she couldn’t resist the temptation to look back at Gvingni who was following them closely.

The morning’s ride was a hard one. They set out ahead of the Carlessian procession with Captain Hrolf and a half-dozen of his troops, including Gvingni.

Because of the pace you set, they were able to reach the hills overlooking Castle Merlet in the late afternoon. Captain Hrolf held up a hand, signaling for them to stop.

“I’m going to go take a look inside the gate. I’ll signal for you to join me if it’s clear.”
He paused.
“If I’m not back in ten minutes, then ride as hard as you can for the Prince’s column.”

Spurring his horse to a trot, he headed off down the hill in the direction of the seemingly-deserted castle.

While they were waiting, Glenda turned back and came to Gvingni, trying to find an excuse to talk with him. Unfortunately, the only topic she could think of was her job, fight and weapons, so a stupid question escaped her lips:

“Gvingni, I’m looking at your weapons. Do you think they are better than our light-weighted swords and daggers?”

Gvingni appeared a bit surprised by your question, rubbing a hand across his chin, which was covered in stubble — shaving during the trip did not appear to have been something he was able to do regularly.

“Well, it depends, doesn’t it? As long as we’re mounted, your equipment is probably better.”
He patted the handle of the axe slung across his back.
“It’s hard to use one of these things from horseback, that’s why we try to fight on foot.

But if you can use it, then the axe is much more powerful and has a longer reach. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
He shrugged.
“That’s simply how I’ve been trained. You probably believe differently.

But weapons are boring, aren’t they? Let’s talk about something much more interesting — you. How did you come to be part of the Princess’ bodyguard?”

“I’ve been trained as a warrior; there are no specialized bodyguards in our army. Our commander, Captain Pritchett, has been assigned the role of Princess’ bodyguard. Usually she did her duties alone as the Princess stayed in the capital in a safe place. This mission was an exception; we had to protect her during a long journey close to Nivvenites’ territory. Captain picked up a group of the best available warriors”, Glenda blushed a little: “I’m glad to be picked up to this troop, even if we failed at our mission; after all I’m not aware of any failure caused by our troop.”

She looked to the castle if the Captain was coming back already.
“Aye. It`s much the same with us. Captain Hrolf’s company was given the honor of guarding the Prince during his travels, and as I’ve been with the company for some time, I was included,” Gvingni nodded.

He shifted in his saddle, pointing.

“Aha! There’s the Captain! He’s given the all-clear signal. We should get inside, and see if we can figure out what’s happened down there.”
“Let’s ride now; we can talk later,” she looked at Gvingni and turned her horse.

They rode off and soon reached the castle. When they passed the gate, Glenda looked around and could see traces of a hasty leaving. The whole castle was empty; no living soul can be seen. The barrack was empty and so was the manor and stables. The equipment in the manor was damaged heavily, a sign of plunder. However they found resources in the storeroom; Nivvenites weren’t able to take everything with them.

They searched the castle as thoroughly as possible before night and made a surprising discovery. No signs of fight can be found except in the gatehouse. How could the Nivvenites overrun the castle without any fight?

Glenda knew, of course, that she and her fellow escort members had been attacked. But what they didn’t find was any evidence of fighting elsewhere within the castle.

She voiced her concern about this to Gvingni, who repeated it to Captain Hrolf. The big Carlessian grunted, placing his hands on his hips and looking about the deserted courtyard.

“Treason. It can`t have been anything else. If they stormed the castle openly, even at night, there would have been much more fighting. Someone let them inside the walls.”

Glenda was listening to Captain Hrolf and thinking of their stay in the castle. She had to remember every detail. There was almost no fight. Their plan was based on sneaking into the castle secretly. Their defense might have been coincidence only. Sergeant Elmira woke in the night and her screams alerted them. The garrison was surprised in the night. Wait! What about guards? They had to be overpowered or tricked somehow:

“Captain, what happened to the guards? They had to be overpowered silently or tricked. Our traitor had to be an officer responsible for posting guards. Nobody else could do this.”

Meanwhile it was getting dark and they entered the manor to stay overnight. Maybe they could find more the next day.

All of sudden Glenda spotted Gvingni in front of a Princess’ portrait; it was slashed by a sword.
The slashed portrait made her mood change. It was a sad view. She imagined the Nivvenites looting here not long ago. Suddenly she was worried about the Princess and all her comrades. What happened to them? Where were they? Was there any chance to rescue them? She took Gvingni at his hand and looked in his eyes:

“What do you think? Is there any chance to rescue our Princess and my comrades? Are they alive?”
She realized there was little hope she would see the Princess and her comrades again. She should better face it and try to start a new period of her life. Maybe later she would be able to find them. She held Gvingni’s hand more firmly and turned to him again:

“Gvingni, it is hard. I don’t know if I’d be able to forget them. We all were good friends and I’ll miss them very much. I’ve never experienced such loss.”
Looking at him she realized she could start anew even here and now.

Gvingni nodded sympathetically.
“Aye. I’ve lost comrades before, of course — it’s part of the soldier’s life. But never that many at once. It must be very difficult.”

He turned away, walking back down the corridor, but as he did so, he turned around, his voice barely a mumble.
“I found a room down the hallway — more comfortable than my tent. My watch ends at midnight.”
“I know, Gvingni, it is a part of a soldier’s life,” Glenda nodded sadly. While he was walking down the corridor, she was watching him.

Her heart jumped at his last words. He wanted to be together with her in a room. She even blushed. Fortunately he didn’t see it. As soon as he left, she hurried to the room. It was small, but comfortable. Glenda took off her armor, jacket and shoes and lay down on the bed. She could have a short nap until Gvingni would come back from his watch.

Despite her worries, she managed to fall asleep. The bed was far fancier than what she was used to; the upper level of the building was intended for use by the castle`s masters, not for common soldiers. The deep, soft mattress was very comforting, and before she knew it, she was asleep.

Some time later, she was awakened by a metallic clink. Opening her eyes, she spied Gvingni standing beside the door, shrugging out of his metal breastplate. He lay it on the floor, beside her own armor, then glanced up, a slow grin spreading across his face when he saw her.

“I wasn’t sure you were going to be here. I thought you might take what I said as a warning.”

Glenda blushed again when she realized her condition, but on the other hand it was exciting. She never had ancopportunity to have a boyfriend due to her military service. Warriors were not the favorite girlfriends. However Gvingni was a warrior too, maybe he didn’t mind it like other boys.

“Gvingni, I have to admit I’m surprised I came to this room knowing we would be together here.”

She shifted on the bed and waited when he lay down next to her. To be honest, she didn’t know what to expect; she didn’t have any slight experience in this field.

Gvingni lowered himself down beside her, and within moments, she was enfolded in his massive arms. He pulled her tightly against him so that he can kiss her, Glenda also felt pressure as his free hand was pressed tightly against her rump.
“I really was worried that you wouldn’t come.”

Glenda was taken aback a bit by Gvingni’s prompt action; she felt his scratchy beard and find it even exciting:
“Gvingni, your scratchy beard is attractive, did you know this?”

Without waiting for his answer she kissed him. The hand on my rump was a little more surprising, but she was getting a strange feeling in her groins and even wanted his hands to move further towards her crotch. She hugged him with one hand and moved towards his crotch with the other one.

Their upcoming actions were quick, wild and animal. They were just like two lonely souls who just found each other, far away from the real world and wanted to enjoy their first moments of their union. She was hardly able to perceive all the details and felt a great pleasure only. She hoped this night would become endless.

Part 12:

The prisoners in the Nivvenite column were shocked by the lightning and thunder. However they realized the spreading chaos and an opportunity to escape. The guards were confused and scared by an alleged divine intervention.

Although Parthians were religious, they weren’t as fanatic as Nivvenites. Most of the prisoners were able to think clearly and use the opportunity. Their condition was not good; their wrists and arms were trapped inside the slave dresses and the long skirts limited their movement seriously.

About three dozen prisoners and a few servants gathered their courage and preferred the risk to the slave camp perspective. They set off and ran away in different directions. The guards tried to chase them and they even ran down about a third of the escapees but the remaining ones got out of sight in time.

Dilys, Beca and Olwina were listening to the screaming and shouting and Olwina guessed that a number of the prisoners had made a break for freedom. Unfortunately, they were trapped beneath the wagon canvas and their legs were tied. The hogtie ropes limited their movement and prevented them from untying each other and it seemed that whatever was going on, they had no option but to wait it out, and hope that an opportunity arises to escape later. It was only a matter of time before the Nivvenites pulled themselves together again.

The Black Viper was pulled to her feet by several of her shoulders, and shook her head groggily, still half-stunned by her fall. She needed a long time to come to terms with what was happening around her, and then exploded into fury.

“Stop panicking, you cowards! Pull yourselves together and get after those Parthians, or I`ll give you something to be frightened of. Lieutenant Allas! Get the rest of the prisoners back in line, and watch them closely. Lieutenant Morava! Rally your troops and track down the escapees — now!”

The officers hastened to obey, but even with the added impetus of the Viper’s orders, it took them some more time to rally their troops. When Lieutenant Morava was ready to chase the escapees, Viper stopped her; she was shrewd enough to realize that tracking them down in the pouring rain would be next to impossible.

“Lieutenant Morava? Belay that order. The ones who are gone are gone, you’ll never find them. We need to make sure that none of the rest get away. Take your squad, and surround the Princess’ wagon. I’m holding you personally responsible for her and her companions, do you understand?”


Shirrill was deafened by the thunder and shocked at the first moment. However minutes later she watched the chaos and decided to take the risk and try to flee, even with her arms trapped beneath the slave dress. She turned to the right and set off. Nobody tried to stop her and she could see more captives follow her. They were running towards the forest in different directions.

She managed to get deep into the forest even if running was hard in the long skirt. Her traces couldn’t be found and the rain limited the viewing distance. However her wrists were still tied up and she was not able to reach the knot.

She ran and got behind the hill, far from the path. There was a clearing visible half a mile before her. She got there when she spotted another escapee. She was a soldier from the castle garrison and her wrists were trapped beneath the dress. Shirill approached her:

“Welcome to freedom. I’m Shirrill.”
“I’m Carys and I was in the castle garrison. Oh, we aren’t free yet; we are too close and our wrists are still tied up and trapped beneath the dress.”
“Carys, let’s look for a hideout where we can’t be found by the Nivvenites first. Our ropes can wait until then. We would lose time at the untie attempts just now.”

They made their way deeper into the woods, Carys walking beside Shirill. Both of them had to pick their way carefully over the ground — they were still wearing the dresses. Carys sheepishly explained that she was standing guard on one of the towers the night Castle Merlet fell.
“Captain Parwen came to the tower, and asked me to look at something beyond the walls. When I turned my back, she hit me with something. By the time I woke up, I`d been stripped and tied up. She gagged me to make sure I couldn’t call out a warning when the Nivvenites came over the walls.”
“Carys. Look at the cave!” Shirrill spotted a cave across a small valley. They walked slowly and carefully into the cave. It seemed to be deep and dark. If the rain erased their tracks, nobody would find them here. The Nivvenites didn’t have any dogs with them.

The cave was damp and cold. They couldn’t sit down on the ground; it would be dangerous. They desperately needed a fire to warm up, but at this moment it wasn’t possible. First of all their wrists were still tied up and Nivvenites could be close.

The time passed slowly until the rain stopped finally: “Carys, we can look out of the cave.” They stepped forward and looked around, still hidden in the shadows. Although it wasn’t raining, the heavy clouds rested above their heads and the sun couldn’t be seen.


Sergeant Elmira reacted quickly when she realized what was going on. The Nivvenite soldiers in the front of the procession were confused and almost all of them were kneeling and praying. It was a great opportunity to escape. Her arms were tied in a boxtie and she couldn’t reach the knife in her shoe but she still hoped for somebody that would help her.

Running in the long skirt was hard but she managed to get out of sight and hide in the forest. Behind the next hill she found a small hole under a fallen tree and waited there until the rain stopped.

While waiting she kept looking around and listening to the sounds but she didn’t notice anything suspicious.

All of sudden she heard footsteps. It could be dangerous in her helpless condition. The hole didn’t provide a good hideout. The steps got closer and three figures appeared in front of her eyes. However they were two prisoners and a male servant.

“Oh, Sergeant Elmira. You also managed to escape,” Emelyn was glad to see the Sergeant. Elmira also felt a big relief.

The rain stopped and the small group proceeded their way to freedom. Half an hour later they got to the small valley and noticed the cave across it. There were two figures standing in front of the cave.

“Sergeant, look! This is Shirrill though.” Emelyn sped up and hurried towards the cave. Elmira and the rest of the small group followed her.

Now the six prisoners escaped from the procession but they still were tied up; their way to freedom didn’t begin very well. Sergeant Elmira had a small knife hidden in her shoe but somebody else had to use it.


Silven also used the opportunity to escape. As soon as the chaos spread, she stayed calm and set off; she turned left and ran away. A Nivvenite almost caught her but she slipped in the mud and Silven could escape. She stopped behind the forest and looked around. There was a large field in front of her and it wasn’t a good hideout. She decided to turn left and run back towards Merlet Castle. Even if it was a long way, there was a chance to find help there.

While running she heard footsteps; more escapees emerged from the forest and joined her. The group continued until they got to the edge of the field and found a wooden shed there. Fortunately it was abandoned and they could wait there until the rain stopped.

Their condition wasn’t good. There were fourteen prisoners, several of them members of Dilys’ escort, there. Unfortunately, all of them were wearing the slave dresses and their only usable tool was a pair of scissors in Silven’s shoe.

Part 13:

It took the Viper and her subordinates several more minutes to restore order in the column, but eventually, they managed it. The remaining captives were shoved roughly back into line, and their bonds inspected. A squad of Nivvenite troops took up positions around the wagon with the Princess wagon, and the Viper personally tightened the ropes binding the three prisoners. As she noticed the wet clothes, a devilish idea hit her. She dismounted and gave a grunt of slight satisfaction.

“Well, at least the important ones didn’t get away. Now let’s move! We are behind schedule.”

The column resumed its march, quicker now than before, the prisoners being aggressively prodded to a more rapid pace by the guards. Throughout the remainder of the day, the Viper drove the column hard until evening without more breaks. Several more captives collapsed from exhaustion; they were simply picked up and tossed unceremoniously into one of the wagons. The Viper seemed very determined to make as much distance before nightfall as she possibly could.

Olwina engaged in a bit of calculation. If she was right about their progress, they should reach the bridge over the rushing river sometime early the next morning. That might present an opportunity for freedom — but it wouldn’t be if they were still tied up in the wagon.

Shortly before nightfall, the procession finally stopped. The canvases were removed from the wagons, the Nivvenites unloaded the blankets and set the camp. The servants started making dinner and the Nivvenites led the prisoners to latrines.

Dilys, Beca and Olwina had to wait and they were quite uncomfortable. Their bladders were full again and there were wet patches on their clothing. Dilys was utterly humiliated. However she had to face another humiliation.

Viper called the prisoners to the wagon and several soldiers crawled onto it, untied the hogtie ropes and leg ropes of Dilys, Beca and Olwina. They helped them down from the wagon and forced them to stand in front of the other prisoners.

Dilys blushed deep red when her soiled clothes were exposed to her soldiers and Nivvenites. The Nivvenites laughed aloud:

“Your Princess had an accident and peed herself. Unfortunately her true maid was indisposed and didn’t assist her in time.” Viper molested the Princess.
“It would be irresponsible not to take appropriate care of her, wouldn’t it? She needs clean clothes and so do her mates.”
Three Nivvenites grabbed Dilys and cut her dress away from her body; however the ropes stayed intact. Beca and Olwina had to face the same treatment. Now they were standing naked and tied up.

The Nivvenites laughed even louder when they noticed the blush on Dilys’ face. Beca also was blushing but she wasn’t as embarrassed as the Princess.

“We will avoid future accidents!” Viper exclaimed and the soldiers brought three pairs of rubber pants and three large pieces of cloth.
“You won’t have to use the smelly latrines anymore,” Viper gestured at the guards. They pulled the rubber pants up prisoners’ legs, folded and inserted the pieces of cloth inside the rubber pants. Olwina desperately struggled against the ropes but her arms were kept in the boxtie tightly.

The guards left and returned with three slave dresses and pulled them over prisoners’ heads. The humiliating diapers were hidden now but their arms were trapped in the dresses just like the other prisoners. Olwina’s condition was even worse. The boxtied arms were trapped inside her dress above the belt.

The guards escorted all prisoners to their blankets, made them sit down and tied their legs. Dilys, Beca and Olwina were ungagged and one of the servants fed them dinner. She was a shy young girl and she looked scared to death.

“Hey,” Beca whispered to the servant girl when she finished feeding. “Could you help me?”
“How?” the young girl whispered back but her voice was shaky. She probably wasn’t courageous at all.
“I have a small knife hidden in my shoe. You could cut my wrist ropes.”
“Sorry, miss but I’m afraid of a punishment.”
“Would you prefer the slave camp?”
The girl shook her head but she finished feeding and ran away in utter terror. Beca sighed only.

After dinner the guards gagged all prisoners and hogtied Dilys, Beca and Olwina. Their legs were pulled backwards and tied to their waists. The guards covered them with blankets and left.

Beca started fidgeting; her bladder was full and she didn’t have any opportunity to use the latrine like other prisoners. Now she had to face wetting the diaper. Any attempt to hold her pee was vain; nobody would untie her. Half an hour later she gave up and peed.

Olwina also tried to fight but she realized that it would distract her only. A wet diaper couldn’t throw her off balance and she kept thinking of an escape plan. Their condition was much worse than the last night and Viper seemed to have focused on reaching the Nivven border as soon as possible.

She tried to recall the territory they were approaching. The Nivvenites’ occupied territory began just behind the Bregin West Bridge. Bregin Stream flew from east towards west. There were high mountains located in the east and Bregin East Bridge was located behind the mountains. The mountains were hard to pass. The river proceeded to the west and crossed the border with Carlesse.

Bregin Stream got swollen every year and trees were drifting down the stream. To protect the bridges the trees close to the river had to be watched and removed if necessary. Parthians usually did it on their side of the river but Nivvenites might not know about it or they didn’t care about it.

Dilys and Beca fell asleep and Olwina tried to do the same; however she was not able to get rid of her worries. Escaping in a Nivven-controlled area was very risky. She wished there would be an obstacle in their way and they wouldn’t be able to cross the Bregin Stream. There was no other option to cross the Bregin Stream in that area. The next bridge upstream was located behind the Ralst Mountains and Misty River; the next bridge downstream was in Carlesse. They would gain more time in that case.

In the morning they had to face another unpleasant surprise. The guards untied their hogtie and ungagged her and the same servant girl brought a bowl of cold water, a rag and three clean diapers. All three women blushed deeply when the servant cleaned them and put new diapers on them. The next surprise waited for them after breakfast; they were helped onto the wagon and hogtied again. The wet diapers were washed by the servant and hung onto the wagon sides to dry.

Two hours later the procession reached the last hill before the Bregin Stream. However, Olwina was surprised by the noise of the river; it was much louder than usual. It had to be swollen more than she had expected. The rains in the Ralst Mountains fed the stream with lots of water this year.

On the hilltop they stop and stared wide-eyed at the scene in front of their eyes. A big tree was caught between the bridge pillars. Nivvenites didn’t care for the trees near the river and this tree was tumbled somewhere upstream. More trees and branches had caught to the first tree and the tangle branches were blocking the stream like a dam. The water level rose and flooded the valley. Even if the bridge was still standing, the access road was flooded and water level was close to the bridge top. The bridge pillars were trembling and so was the bridge itself. More branches were approaching the bridge and got caught in the tangle.

A courageous Nivvenite rider tried to wade to the bridge, but she was seized by the wild stream along with her horse and drifting down quickly. A floating branch hit her head and she disappeared in the water.

Part 14:

The small group around Sergeant Elmira started planning what to do. Shirrill turned to Elmira:

“Sergeant, what do you suppose? Should we try to get back to the castle and wait for the Prince or should we better try to follow Viper’s column. Maybe we get an opportunity to rescue more comrades or even the Princess with Beca and our captain. We could sneak into the camp; steal resources, weapons or rescue somebody.”

“I would prefer the second option. I wish I could get my revenge on the damn traitor Captain Parwen. However we could try to find more comrades. Some of them could have escaped and are wandering around here now.” Carys added.

“Okay but we still are helpless and tied up. Stop dreaming and think of how to untie our hands,” Elmira had to remind them of their actual condition. “I have a small knife in my shoe. It isn’t a good weapon but we can use it to cut our ropes and make more tools or weapons. However I can’t reach it. Who tried it?”

“I do it,” Carys squatted down but her skirt prevented her from reaching Elmira’s shoe. “Hey, Shirrill, lift my skirt with your foot and I reach into her shoe then.”

Shirriil stepped forward to Carys and pushed her skirt out of the way. Carys grabbed the knife indeed but she still was unable to do anything. When she stood up, the skirt fell down and covered her hands.

“Carys, lie down on the ground and I push your skirt away. Sergeant Elmira will lie down next to you and you can reach the ropes.” Shirrill found the way.

Reaching Elmira’s ropes was a hard task but Carys managed to do it and Elmira was free. Freeing the other prisoners was easy but there was a problem when their arms were trapped inside the dresses except Elmira and the male servant…

“We have to take off the dresses and cut holes in the upper part to get some kind of sleeveless dresses.” Shirrlll again proved her smartness.

The male servant blushed when he heard about taking off female dresses but Elmira smiled only: “Go and collect wood meanwhile. We would need fire.”

He left, Elmira helped Shirrill undress and cut the holes in the dress. They helped the others and Elmira started planning:

“First things first. There’s not much that the five of us are going to be able to do on our own, there are too many Nivvenites, and they`re too well-armed. But I think a fair number of us escaped when the storm hit. If we could find a few more of the escapees, we might be in a better position to do something.” She folded her arms.

“We need to send someone back to Castle Merlet. We don`t know if Glenda was able to get away, and the Prince—and Queen Magwen—need to be told what happened there.

As for rescuing the Princess and the Captain…?” she sighed.

“I’d like to try. I really would. But it’s not going to be easy. Even if we can find some of the others, we’ll be badly outnumbered, and fighting in dresses wouldn’t be a good idea, let alone without proper weapons. Even if we managed to find them again, we’d have to be very, very careful, or we’d wind up right back where we were this morning. I`ve had enough of being a prisoner.”

During the afternoon they found nine escapees, most of them from the Princess escort troop. The troop grew and they had better chances to succeed.

The servant found enough firewood and they set fire inside the cave. The fire in the little cave cheered them, offering welcome warmth, their clothes dried and the nearby stream offered plentiful clean water. Food would become a problem eventually, as no one had an opportunity to grab anything from the supply wagons. But for now, their situation has improved considerably.

“Sergeant, the forest around is full of animals. Let’s try to catch one and we can have our dinner. After all, we are scouts and shouldn’t have problems catching an animal. A doe will be more than enough for us. We also could try to fish in the creek.” Shirrill had the idea how to get food.

“Worth a try, I suppose. But we haven’t really got the tools for it. If we had a bow, we’d have a great chance at catching something. And maybe we could improvise a fishing line. But we’d need to catch quite a few to give everyone a decent meal, and the sun will set soon.”

Elmira shook her head

“No. We wait until morning. We’ll use the night to make ourselves some bows, fishing lines and spears — we can use your knife to sharpen some branches, if nothing else. In the morning, we’ll try a quick hunt, or a bit of fishing. And then we’ll set off after our comrades.”

Elmira’s idea was great. Even if they were a bit hungry, they could make some improvised weapons and fishing tools. They spent the time until sunset collecting appropriate branches. They also found two flexible branches which could be used to make bows. There were a few small skeletons lying deeper in the cave and sharp bones could be used as fishing hooks or arrow tips. The ropes were unraveled and used as fishing lines and bowstrings.

When the night fell, three of them stayed awake to keep guard and work on the weapons and tools; in three hours they went to sleep and another shift proceeded. Unfortunately they had only one knife and it took a lot of time to sharpen several spears and arrows.

In the morning they had several fishing lines, two bows, about two dozens of arrows and three spears ready. They could split into small groups. Two of them had to keep guard, four could try to fish, two stayed in the cave and proceeded sharpening more arrows and spears and the remaining ones could go hunt.

About lunchtime their situation has improved substantially. The fishers managed to catch several fishes, the hunters were carrying three rabbits and several spears were made. They roasted their prey on the fire and ate quickly. Now they were prepared for their next mission. Sergeant Elmira gave commands and they set off towards the road.

They needed about one hour to get back to the road. It was deserted and there were tracks of the wagons leading south. The dead body of Captain Parwen was lying on the dirty ground; nobody buried her.

Sergeant Elmira took Parwen’s uniform, armor and weapons. She changed from her dress, put on the armor, kept the spear and gave the bow, arrows and knife to other soldiers. Afterwards they set off towards the Nivven border.


The second group of escapees was in a much worse condition. All of them were wearing slave dresses and the scissors weren’t a good tool to cut the ropes.

“Let’s walk back to the Castle; hopefully we find help there,” Sergeant Gaynor took the command of the small group. Fourteen former prisoners stepped forward and headed back to the road. They had to pass the forest and hope that Nivvenites wouldn’t chase them.

Fortunately, the road was deserted; they turned north and started the long journey back to the Castle. Sun was setting already, all the escapees were tired, thirsty, hungry and their bladders were full. There was nobody to help them and no food was available.

They stopped near a creek and looked at the water. That was an opportunity to quench their thirst but it was difficult to drink in their condition.

“How could we drink?” Silven turned to Sergeant Gaynor.
“Try to sit down and dip your mouth into the water; you would drink like a dog.”

Silven sighed; it was a bit humiliating but they definitely needed to drink to be able to continue. She sat down and drank from the creek. The other escapees did the same.

The full bladders were another issue but the slave dresses and ropes prevented the soldiers from untying or helping each other. The poor women didn’t have any option left but to wet their clothes.

Meanwhile darkness fell over the country but the moonlight illuminated the road so they could walk. Despite their fatigue they were in a hurry. Fortunately, no enemies or predators appeared; they would be easy prey.

In the late morning the next day the group of fourteen escapees reached Castle Merlet. They were exhausted and their arms were trapped beneath slave dresses.

Part 15:

The Viper let out an audible curse, turning to the Captain beside her — the commander of the unit of stealth troops who seized Castle Merlet.

“This wasn’t like this when we crossed!”
The Captain shook her head glumly.
“No, my lady. But it was raining hard when I brought my troops north, and it must’ve been raining even harder in the uplands. We’ll either have to take another route, or wait for the water to go down.”

The Viper made a chopping motion with her hand.
“We are NOT waiting — we can’t! We need to keep moving. What are our choices?”
The Captain considered this.
“There’s a bridge upriver — on the edge of the Ralst Mountains. It’s a high bridge, and the land there is mostly treeless, so it won’t be jammed like this one. But it will take us at least two or three days to get there, at the pace we’re traveling.”

Hearing the Captain’s words, Olwina had to smile behind her gag. The Captain was very, very optimistic, they had to go back from here, as there was no road along the river and wagons could hardly pass the terrain on the river bank. They had to find the side road leading towards Ralst Mountains and this road was narrow and steep in several places. The steepest climb would be reached the next day. The wagons had to be either left behind or it would be necessary to use four oxen to pull every wagon through the steepest place instead of two. It meant the oxen had to go back and pull the second wagon. Olwina was curious if greed would take over common sense; the best option would be to leave half of the wagons behind. Of course, food, water, weapons and blankets couldn’t be left behind, but all loot would get lost.

With no choice but to change its direction, the column reversed, the wagons heading back the way they came until they would reach the road heading for the Ralst Mountains.

The Viper ordered a short break; the prisoners were provided an opportunity to relieve themselves and given a little water. Dilys, Beca and Olwina stayed on the wagon and their diapers were changed.

The side road began close to the place where they camped last night; the procession had to walk for about three hours to get back. The Viper raged but she didn’t have any other option; the terrain was impassable for walking let alone for wagons.

The procession reached the side road and started its journey through the Ralst Mountains. The road still rose uphill and the wagons were slowing down; the overall pace was given by the oxen and not by Viper’s wishes. In the evening they also needed a place to stay overnight. There weren’t many clearings in the forest and the clearings were too small.

Shortly before dusk the procession reached a larger clearing. It could be good for them overnight. The clearing was large enough, but it was cluttered with small bushes; it would be an ideal place for escape attempts.

The guards untied the hogtie and leg ropes of Dilys, Beca and Olwina and helped them get off the wagon. All three women were cramped from the long uncomfortable position and their diapers were soaked. Dilys felt utter humiliation and so did Beca. Olwina tried to stay calm even if it was embarrassing.

The young servant girl changed their diapers and cleaned them and fed them dinner later. Surprisingly, their legs still were free. Olwina was surprised but she overheard the Viper:

“All prisoners have to walk tomorrow. We don’t need an additional load for the oxen. Let them relax and don’t tie their legs too tightly.”

Olwina continued listening to the Viper to learn more and she could hear her having an angry conversation with the leader of the Nivvenite stealth troop.

“This has already taken far too long! I will accept no more delays! When we reach the heights, we’ll leave behind the items your troops took from the castle, and press on with only the food and urgent supplies.”

The Nivvenite Captain looked glum.
“The troops won’t like that, much. They’ve never had a chance to dig through a Parthian castle before.”

The Viper cut her off with a glare.
“They don’t have to like it, Captain. They just have to obey. You can tell anyone who wishes to question it that they’ve welcome to discuss the matter with me…at length.”
The Captain blanched.
“That won’t be necessary, my lady.”

This was the problem with fighting the Nivvenites. Because their society was dominated by their bizarre religious faith, those who were junior were conditioned to obey the orders of their superiors. Their discipline wouldn’t break down. The enemy troops might grumble, but they would obey. Which means the column wouldn’t be slowed quite as much as Olwina had hoped it might be.

The guards tied the legs of every prisoner but the ropes weren’t too tight. It was a slight chance for them but somebody had to reach for the knife in Beca’s shoe. The servant girl was too scared and she finished her duties anyway and got tied up.

Dilys realized she was the only one that could reach for Beca’s knife. She wasn’t hogtied anymore but her task was quite hard. The gag prevented her from speaking but she hoped for Beca’s cooperation.

The main obstacle was her skirt and she couldn’t push it away easily. Her only chance was lifting her legs while lying on her back. She had to wait until the patrolling guard passed them and she lifted her legs then. The skirt fell down and Dilys was able to shift her behind down and the bound wrists got closer to Beca’s shoe.

Unfortunately, her fingers were too clumsy to get the knife and she had to hurry up; a guard was approaching already. She sighed only and rolled away from Beca before her attempt would be revealed; she realized they needed help from outside or from another prisoner.

The next morning the guards and servants took care of the prisoners; The Viper kept barking orders in a vain effort to speed up packing and loading; all Nivvenites tried to do their best but everyone was exhausted.

The procession moved on finally. The road was climbing and the exhausted prisoners hardly were able to walk let alone speed up. The oxen also slowed down. Prodding the prisoners was useless and the pace was given by the oxen anyway.

Dilys, Beca and Olwina were glad they could walk even if the diapers between their legs were quite unpleasant; fortunately their skirts covered them.

About noon they reached the foothill and got to a large open area with small hills. Behind that area the road became steeper. When they reached the end of the foothill, several prisoners collapsed. The Viper kept cursing but she had to admit they couldn’t continue without a proper rest. She ordered the soldiers to stop, set up a camp and have rest for the next day.

“My lady, an idea hit me,” the stealth troop commander turned to the Viper when they finished setting up the camp.
“Go ahead!”
“While the guards and prisoners have their rest, we could pull the wagons uphill and save all the loot and resources.”

Viper was taken aback by that idea. Saving the loot would improve the morale of her soldiers but she couldn’t miss too many of them because of the delay. Parthians could appear and try to attack them.

“Well, you have time until the morning of the day after tomorrow and don’t take too many soldiers; we will need more guards.”
“Yes madam. I need a single soldier for every wagon.”
“Take a small troop to guard and protect the wagons; you never know.”

It was late afternoon and all the preparation work would last until night. The commander decided to start early in the morning the next day and the oxen and riders could be back by evening.

Olwina kept thinking of an escape attempt and the rest was a great opportunity but she realized they couldn’t escape on their own and a help from outside would be necessary. Although she couldn’t know it, the help was close already.

Part 16:

Glenda felt a hand on her shoulder, as Gvingni gently shook her awake.
“We need to, ah…you know? Get dressed? The Captain will want everyone in the courtyard soon, and it might be best if we arrived separately.”

He squeezed her shoulder.
“That’s not my most restful night ever, but I really don’t care about that…Glenda.”
“Right, Gvingni; I’ll dress quickly and hurry up to the courtyard.”

Gvingni left and Glenda followed him after she had dressed quickly. Captain Hrolf appeared ten minutes later indeed. They made a quick breakfast and searched the castle to find some more resources.

Suddenly some shouts could be heard. Glenda and Gvingni pulled their sword immediately, but they put it back when they spotted the reason for the shouts. A small group, about a dozen women, was approaching the castle. They were wearing strange dresses and their arms seemed to be trapped inside the dresses. Glenda immediately recognized

four comrades from the escort and several soldiers from the castle garrison. All of them were exhausted and dirty.

Her heart jumped; she hurried up to welcome them; she considered them lost and now they appeared.

“Captain, these are our Parthian soldiers and they escaped from captivity.” Glenda turned to the Captain.
Captain Hrolf reacted immediately: “Hurry up, help them.”

The soldiers cut the ropes but the escapees needed uniforms instead of dresses. Sergeant Gaynor showed them the way to the armory. Fortunately they found uniforms and armor there and soon fourteen Parthians were ready to start the rescue mission; however they were tired and hungry.

While eating a quick meal the escapees explained what had happened. They desperately wanted to rescue their comrades and Glenda turned to Captain Hrolf:
“Is there any option you could help us?”

Captain Hrolf’s face took on a frustrated expression. He addresses the senior Parthian present — Sergeant Gaynor:
“I’d like to be a help you ladies to save your friends. Truly, I would. But I can’t tell my men to get involved, and I can’t take part directly.”

He folded his massive arms.
“Carlesse is not at war with Nivven. Not yet. And if men in Carlessian uniform start fighting beside you, then it will put my Prince in a terrible position.”

He turned to Gvingni and Svannulf, the other man Glenda first encountered.
“Take off your armor, you two!”

Confused, they do. When they were clad only in civilian clothes, the Captain turned to the Sergeant, winking.
“I need to return to the Prince’s column and tell him what we’ve found. But if you were to find a pair of volunteers to help you, I wouldn’t object to their accompanying you.”
Gvingni was grinning now, too.
“Understood, Captain. Maybe we’ll find some Parthian armor in our size in the castle.”

Sergeant Gaynor from the castle garrison took command over the small troop and sent the two volunteers to find appropriate armor from the castle armory. It was not easy due to their giant statures, but they managed to find usable pieces.

“What if we found more escapees? They might need armor and weapons. We have three horses and can use them to carry resources,” Glenda turned to Sergeant Gaynor.
“Right, Glenda; that’s a brilliant idea. Let’s pack everything we need - food, uniforms, armor and weapons.”

The rescue troop said goodbye to Captain Hrolf and both troops set off. Unfortunately they didn’t have anybody to guard the castle. They could only hope it wouldn’t be burnt down until they would come back.

The two small groups left Castle Merlet, Captain Hrolf and four of his men heading north to report their findings to the Prince, the rest heading south.

The first day was uneventful. In the evening they reached the first camp. Sergeant Gaynor gave commands to search it for any traces or anything usable. However the Nivvenites didn’t leave anything there.

Sergeant Gaynor and her soldiers were exhausted and they needed a rest of a few hours at least. Svannulf volunteered to take the first guard and Glenda had a short sleep before taking the second guard. Fortunately, the night passed uneventfully and the next day they got up early and proceeded their mission.

About lunch time they reached the place where the lightning incident had happened. The Nivvenites were in a hurry; they didn’t even care about the body of Captain Parwen. Her body, stripped down to her underwear and partially eaten by wolves, was lying a few yards from the path.

“She was a traitor,” Sergeant Gaynor explained to Glenda, Gvingni and Svannulf. However everyone was terrified by the look - what a terrible punishment.
“Yeah but why has she been stripped down to her underwear?” Glenda stared at the corpse.
“A correct question, Glenda. Nivvenites hardly did it. They wouldn’t have any motivation.” Sergeant Gaynor shook her head. “Where is her clothing, armor and weapons? The wolves didn’t take it.”
“Of course not. Nivvenites could have taken her weapons but not uniform and armor. What if somebody else needed uniform, armor and weapons and found her body? This could be a solution to our mystery.”
“Yeah. A Parthian uniform is probably useful for a Parthian.”
“Right! There are some more escapees around here. Let’s look for them.”

Sergeant Gaynor nodded and the soldiers searched the surroundings. Glenda found the discarded dress: “Somebody changed from the dress into Parwen’s uniform.”

“Who could it be? There were not many prisoners wearing regular dresses. I can remember four only - the Princess, Beca, Captain Olwina and Sergeant Elmira.” Sergeant Gaynor tried to recall her memories. “Elmira! The other three were tied up on the wagon.”

Sergeant Gaynor called the troop together and they continued south towards the Nivven border. They reached the side road leading to Ralst Mountains when Glenda spotted a group of soldiers.
“Sergeant Elmira; I’m glad to see you.”


Sergeant Elmira and her troop were walking the whole afternoon until they reached the second camp and the side road leading to the Ralst Mountains. Many traces were visible, but it looked like the wagons had come back from the bridge and turned to the side road.

“What happened? Why did they come back?” Shirrill turned to Elmira.
“No idea, we should go to the bridge and find out what happened.”
“However, we have to be careful; Nivvenites can be nearby.”

They left the road and proceeded to the bridge through the bushes; in the evening they reached the bridge and spotted the swollen river. Now it was clear that the column couldn’t pass the bridge and they had to go back. No Nivvenites were around.

It was getting dark and the soldiers needed some sleep to recover their strength. Sergeant Elmira ordered them to make a camp and she also took the first guard.

The night was uneventful and the only sound was roar of the flooded river. The next morning they set off towards the side road. As they reached it, Elmira experienced the biggest surprise in her life; a dozen of their comrades, Glenda and two strange unknown men were standing there. They were all armored and carried their weapons and they even had three horses loaded with resources.

The reunion has doubled their numbers. The Carlessians’ presence raised a few eyebrows, but Glenda explained that they were there to help, and given the situation, Sergeant Elmira decided that it would be unwise to turn down help, whatever form it took.

The state of the bridge also offered encouragement — the Nivvenites and their captives obviously couldn’t have crossed the river here, so they’d have had to head toward a different crossing, and on the basis of the wagon tracks, it looked as though they were headed east.

After the initial surprise they re-organized their troops. Sergeant Elmira assembled her troop from the Princess’ escort members and Sergeant Gaynor took the soldiers from the castle garrison. As for the Carlessians, Gvingni joined the escort troop and Svannulf the castle garrison troop. The resources from the castle could be distributed; every soldier got uniform, armor and at least one weapon. Now all of them were equipped appropriately.

Both sergeants had to decide who would take command of both troops. Sergeant Elmira was senior to Sergeant Gaynor which made the decision easy.

As soon as everything was set, they could continue their mission. Glenda joined Gvingni and they stepped forward. The column could be about a day ahead and they would reach it soon; they had to proceed slowly due to the wagons and tied up captives.

The reassembled troop, now under Sergeant Elmira’s leadership, began to make its way east, in pursuit of the Nivvenites and their captives. Glenda was walking near the group’s head, Sergeant Elmira near her, Gvingni a few paces behind. The Sergeant motioned Glenda over, pointing up ahead.

“We can out-pace them, Im sure. Were not slowed down by the wagons. Or by captives. But we still have a couple of problems. We’re going to need to find a bit of food to sustain ourselves while we march; we’re not going to be worth much if we have to fight them on empty stomachs.

The other problem is the real one. If they keep going east, they’ll be headed for the mountains.
Before they get there, they’ll reach the foothill country. The terrain opens up, and you can see for a long distance in every direction. If we’re not careful, they’ll be able to see us well before we get to them. We need to figure out a way to avoid that.”

“Sergeant, we have some food from the castle,” sergeant Gaynor interjected. “We also could do some hunting later if necessary. The food is not a real and urgent problem at this moment.”

The opened terrain was another issue; Elmira was right; they would be visible in a long distance, unless …
“I’d have an idea. We enter the foothill country at night. At dawn we do a camp and during the whole day we would sleep and keep guard. The distance is long enough when we don’t move. Anyway we can get closer when they leave the foothill area. Moreover, there are some low hills there and we can hide behind them.”

“Shirrill, you really are smart; I think I’ll propose your promotion to sergeant when we come back.” Elmira smiled at Shirrill.
They stepped forward.

Part 17:

In the evening the captives got dinner and they were escorted to the latrines as usual. Dilys, Beca and Olwina were surprised when their diapers were removed and they could go to the latrines again. The Viper realized that diapers were an extra work and possible delay.

All captives were put down on the ground in three rows and covered by blankets. A single guard kept patrolling around them.

The night passed uneventfully but the next morning the camp was submerged in a dense fog; the visibility was less than twenty feet. Black Viper cursed and doubled all camp guards. Escorting captives to the latrines seemed to be risky and it took longer than usual. Fortunately, they didn’t have to hurry.

The commander gathered her troop and the first half of wagons set off, every wagon pulled by four oxen.

Before noon the fog dissolved and the Viper calmed down a bit. The double guards were revoked; the soldiers could rest before the next day.


The rescuers could walk quickly down the path illuminated by the moonlight. Elmira turned to Glenda again:

“Do you have any ideas for what we’re supposed to do if we catch them? Even with Sergeant Gaynor’s people and your Carlessian friends, we’re going to be pretty badly outnumbered. If we try to take them on in a straight fight, they’ll still overwhelm us.”

Sergeant’s question took Glenda aback and she had to think of it. She even looked back to Gvingni, but he didn’t seem to have an answer; anyway he encouraged her:

“Glenda, don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find an answer. You were able to escape from the gatehouse and managed to find us.”
“Oh, it was Shirrill’s idea. She was able to find the trapdoor, when the enemies attacked us in the night …”
Oh, damn, night! Darkness and night will be our allies.

“Sergeant, we don’t want to defeat the Nivventies, do we? Our main goal is rescuing the captives. A stealth action in the darkness would be the right solution. In the highland we can find a hideout, defend ourselves or even set them a trap.”

Elmira again nodded thoughtfully.

“You’re right. It doesn’t feel natural — as a soldier, my instincts are to get to grips with the enemy. But yes, if we can sneak around them, we might be able to do what we need to do without having to confront them directly.

But we’d need to be careful about finding a hideout in the uplands. It would help us defend ourselves, but the way the valleys and canyons are laid out up there, it would also be easy to get ourselves boxed in. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Meanwhile they passed the last camp of the Nivvenite column and sped up; everyone wanted to catch up to the column and rescue their comrades.

All of sudden the moon was covered by clouds and the forest got dark. The path was hardly visible and the air was getting cold. The darkness was an advantage for the rescuers; they could spot the camp lights easier and they still were hidden.

Time passed and the clouds kept dropping until they turned into a dense fog. Fog wasn’t anything unexpected and Elmira’s heart jumped; it was a great opportunity to carry out stealth missions.

At dawn the small troop reached the foothill. The fog still was dense and the dawn could hardly be noticed. Elmira stopped and ordered silence. The visibility was limited in that condition but sounds could be heard much better. However they still were far away from the camp and couldn’t hear anything.

Elmira tried to recall the position of the hills and pointed to the left; they headed away from the road and about half an hour later Elmira turned right and they continued parallel to the road.

“Stop!” Elmira ordered when she heard sounds. They stopped and listened. Voices could be heard from the right side.

Elmira sent Glenda to a scout mission to find out what was going on. Glenda put away the armor and weapons except the knife and sneaked towards the voices. She had to be careful to avoid guards but the fog provided her a perfect cover.

About an hour later she returned and announced surprising news:
“Sergeant, they seem to have a rest and I didn’t see any oxen and there are wagons in the camp.”
“This is a surprise indeed,” Elmira was taken aback.
“How many wagons did you see?” Shirrill asked Glenda.
“Seven or eight. I couldn’t come closer.”
“This is about a half of all wagons. Where are the remaining ones. We didn’t see them on the road.”

“Of course!” an idea hit Elmira, “They used four oxen to pull wagons uphill; the road is steep there. Now the oxen will come back and will pull the second half of the wagons later. Meanwhile the captives and other Nivvenites can rest. Something happened when the Viper agreed to that delay.”

Elmira quickly considered their options. The soldiers needed rest but the fog was a welcome opportunity for an attack or move.

“Let’s find a hill and hide behind it but we should pass post the Nivvenites and rest ahead of them; we can continue at night and prepare a trap in the forest,” she gave the command and the troop set off; until noon they got behind a small hill east from the Nivvenite camp. Meanwhile the fog dissolved.

Shirrill took the first guard and the rest of the troop fell asleep. Three hours later Elmira woke up and took the second guard until evening. She noticed the small troop of Nivvenites coming back and leading the oxen. Her supposition was right.

Before dusk she could see all camp guards and remembered their positions. WHen the darkness fell, she woke up all troop members and explained her plan and described the locations of all outer guards. All remaining guards were clearly visible due to the torches.

The first phase were the outer guards. To be sure, Elmira sent three experienced warriors to each of the three outer guards. Two groups were led by the Sergeants, and the last one was led by Shirrill. Both Carlessians were assigned to the patrols as they could use their axes to knock out the sentries silently. All patrols were instructed to work quietly and to leave the sentries tied up and gagged on their respective posts. Dragging them around would cause noise. Their weapons were to be taken; we need as many weapons as possible.

Elmira set off to knock out the most distant outer guard on the opposite side of the camp. They had to stay quiet and sneak around the camp and approach the sentry from behind; she watched the terrain in front of her and knocking her out was quite easy. Elmira grabbed her from behind and knocked her out. They tied her up, gagged her thoroughly, took her weapons and sneaked back.

Of course, they were the last patrol who had accomplished her task. The weapons were given to those who had got improvised ones.

As soon as the outer guards were knocked out, there was only one single guard left. She kept patrolling around the captives.

To knock out the camp guard Elmira used a trick. While the guard was walking away from their group, both Sergeants and Shirrill emerged from the shadows and each of them lay down to the prisoners on the row end; they pulled the blankets over themselves, covering themselves and the prisoners next to them. The guard shouldn’t reveal an extra figure in the three rows.

As soon as the guard passed Sergeant Elmira, she jumped off and grabbed her throat, covering her mouth with her free hand. Shirrill and Sergeant Gaynor held the guard and tie her up quickly. A gag was shoved into her mouth to silence her effectively.

At the same moment the whole troop emerged from the bushes. Every troop member was assigned her specific task. Five soldiers took care of the captives, cut their leg ropes, helped them stand up and whispered to them where to go. Other groups were searching the wagons for weapons and food as well as taking the few remaining horses away.

As soon as the captives got to a safe distance, the five soldiers cut their wrist ropes. Olwina had to be helped; they took off her dress and cut the ropes. After that holes had to be cut in the dresses just like they had done earlier.

When the troop met on the agreed place near the camp, Elmira felt a big relief; they weren’t outnumbered anymore. Olwina took the command and she got uniform and armor from the resources. Her troop consisted of almost the entire castle garrison and her entire escort troop plus two Carlessians. Even if they still didn’t have enough weapons to be fully armed, they had resources and more horses.

Final:

Now Olwina had to decide what to do. The most important task was escorting Princess Dilys to the Merlet Castle and arranging a meeting with Prince Therian. There were no more prisoners in the camp.

Captain called the Sergeants to a short briefing:
“What should we do in your opinion?” Although she was the commander, the Sergeants still could have good ideas up their sleeves.

“I think we should hurry up back towards the castle. We have horses and resources and the Nivvenites hardly catch up to us. In either case we aren’t outnumbered anymore,” Sergeant Gaynor replied.
“We should try to avoid any fight if possible. The Princess is more important than some captive or dead Nivvenites. However we could try to capture the Viper,” Elmira expressed her opinion.

“I don’t think Viper is worth any risk. She is a good officer and she is famous but that’s all. She can’t be compared to the Princess. What would we gain?” Olwina shook her head.

“Let’s go; we don’t have any time to waste. A Nivvenite could wake up and alert the camp any second.” Olwina ended the briefing and gestured at the troop.

Princess Dilys and Beca mounted two horses and they could ride. Olwina also mounted her horse. They rode off slowly and the rest of the troop followed them.

Before dawn the clouds dropped and turned into a dense fog again. Olwina and her troop were moving away from the road to avoid an ambush. They kept hiding behind the hills until they finally got to the forest.

Distant yells revealed that the Nivvenites woke up and found out what had happened. Olwina stopped and ordered the troop to stop and stay quiet. They had to listen to the sounds and reveal eventual attackers. The fog helped them but it also could hide the Nivvenites.

“I doubt that Nivvenites would head towards us, Captain” Glenda whispered to Olwina.
“Why?”
“They don’t know where we are. The road to Nivven is impassable and they would be trapped if we were far away in the mountains. There also could be more Parthian troops between them and the castle.”
“Right. They also can’t surprise us anymore and the fight would be dangerous for them. In either case we should hurry up and two soldiers will stay behind us at a safe distance.”

Shirrill and Glenda volunteered to be the tail guards and waited until the troop disappeared in a safe distance. However there was silence all around and they followed the troop carefully.

At lunch the fog dissolved again and they got almost to the Nivvenite camp before the main road. Olwina stopped the troop and turned to Sergeant Gaynor:

“My mission is escorting the Princess. I assemble a small troop and escort the Princess to the castle. The Viper troop can’t catch up to us and there shouldn’t be more Nivvenites around. The bridge still is impassable. You will follow us as quickly as possible. We leave behind all resources except a little food we need.”

“You needn’t take too much; there are some resources at the castle if nobody burnt it down,” Glenda interjected.

Olwina, Dilys, Beca, Glenda and Gvingni mounted five horses and drove off. They journey passed uneventfully and the next day they reached Merlet Castle. Olwina noticed that the gate was closed and one male figure was standing on top of the south east tower.

Seconds later an alarm trumpet could be heard and more figures appeared on top of both towers and Olwina could see bows in their hands.

“Who is this?” Olwina stopped instantly. She realized that the soldiers were male. They couldn’t be Nivvenites.
“Prince Therian’s escort,” Gvingni replied, “I’ve recognized my comrades.”

Gvingni rode off and stopped in a safe distance. “It’s me, Gvingni, and we are escorting Princess Dilys. She has been rescued.”

The archers disappeared and a minute later the gate was opened. Captain Hrolf and Maester were standing in the yard and waiting for the incoming group.
“Your Majesty,” the old man bowed in front of Dilys, “I’m glad to see you. Our Prince is waiting for you already.”

The riders dismounted and Princess Dilys smiled at Maester:
“I’m glad to see you too, Maester and I have to thank my brave soldiers for rescuing me. Now I’m ready to marry Prince Therian and help my country.”
“Your Majesty, forgive me my courage but I don’t recognize you anymore. Where is the old Dilys?” the old man didn’t want to tell her about her former behavior.
“The old Dilys died here in the yard when our enemies attacked the castle. Now you see a new courageous young princess ready to rule and protect her country.”

At that moment Princess noticed Prince Therian; he emerged from the building and was approaching her.
“It’s an honor for me to meet that courageous young princess like you. I wish we could meet in better circumstances. However, this place and this situation are extraordinair. I couldn’t imagine meeting my future wife in a robbed out fortress with my escort as the only company.”
“Thank you, Prince Therian. This place is as good as every other one. You are the most important person to me though.”

Olwina, Beca and Glenda were standing and watching their Princess. They were sure she would become a good wife and a good Queen later. Paradoxically, Nivvenites were necessary to change the spoiled Dilys to a mature one.


Epilogue:

The rest of Olwina’s troop and the castle garrison arrived at the castle the next day. Captain Olwina took command and sent Sergeant Elmira with a small troop to the capital to report what had happened. Captain Hrolf took the responsibility for Princess Dilys and escorted her along with Prince Therian to Carlesse. It was safer than the route to the Capital.

The three troops managed to fix the most damage and replenish the resources by hunting. Two weeks later a new commander arrived at the castle and Olwina returned to the Capital.

The wedding took place in the Carlessian capital a month later. Queen Magwen and the Duke of Carlesse made an alliance and the Carlessian troops joined Parthian army.

Glenda married Gvingni and she was advanced to sergeant; however she asked the Queen to be released from Parthian army and become the first female sergeant in the Carlessian army.

Captain Olwina became the Parthian contact officer in Carlesse and she stayed close to the Princess in that way.

Black Viper had bad luck; she ended in the same slave camp she threatened the Princess to send her to. It was the end of the famous officer’s career. Her failure was too serious.