Not All That Glitters is Gold

"Oh, my hero..."

The princess melted into my arms like icing on a cake right out of the oven. She was good at this, her long lashes fluttering briefly like a butterfly's wings in a strong wind. She made a soft sigh, attempting to look deeply into my eyes. Failing my cooperation, she closed her eyes to my weak embrace and pouted her lips to a kissable pink picker.

I sighed. "Your father is waiting, Princess," I pointed out. A thin frown marred the fine lines of her perfect eyebrows as she straightened and opened her eyes. She glanced briefly at the corpse of the ex-kidnapper, the evil Baron, and then nodded.

"He will be sure to reward you richly for my return," she looked at me again, her voice deep with syrup and promises of other rewards. Actually, I had already negotiated my fee, and a tryst with the Princess was not part of it, however traditionally the hero's reward.

I finished wiping off my sword, and slipped it back into its waiting sheathe. I could hear the faint desert bird whistle of my lieutenant signalling the all-clear from behind me, and with a similar burble I acknowledged it.

Impetuously, I grabbed the Princess around the central point of her hourglass figure, and dropped backwards out the window, my right arm using the grappled tether to walk down the wall to where our get-away equines were patiently waiting.

The Princess made the most out of the opportunity. She seemed pleased to hold on to me, admiring my muscles in the most inappropriate ways. I grunted my disapproval, catching the rope with my left hand and squeezing her between my arms in a grip I hoped would keep her from squirming as I made our way to the safety of firm ground.

She tried for another kiss, but I deftly dodged it in a whirl of settling her a-top the white stallion we had picked up in the desert city outside the Baron's domain. I wondered how long it would take her to get the point, or if I'd have to dash her hopes in the usual blunt fashion.

My lieutenant winked at me as I mounted Gyre, my trusted battlemare. He grabbed the white stallion's reins and began leading the way out of the Baron's holding. I could still hear the sounds of steel and fire, suggesting that my men were still busy stabilising the situation. Soon after we left the cultivated area I saw our sponsor's flag raised, a sign that we were victorious.

The Princess was a good rider, and my lieutenant soon gave her her own lead, driving us down towards the desert instead of higher up into the range. We continued to ride until we were certain none of the Baron's most loyal intended to cut us down or save his uncertain bride.

She was slightly more subdued once she reached our camp. She and the horse seemed to have taken a liking to each other, I noted, as she seemed insistent on seeing to his stabling herself. The pavilions shifted in the growing winds, sheltering the essential camp personnel from the heat of the white sun. I waited for her impatiently, the dust, grit, and blood of the fight irritating me. She stepped up to me, looking expectant.

"Your tent's the yellow one with your father's flag," I pointed it out, starting to unlace my vest with one hand. "Your handmaiden, whatever her name," I didn't even try to pronounce it, "is waiting." No doubt ready to freak out at the immodest state of her lady's dress.

She paused, watching me pull off my turban irritatedly. "And which tent is yours?" she asked, looking petulant.

"The purple one," I gestured, wrapping the sweaty material up under my arm. I figured I'd just head up straight to the washing pool, and send someone down for clean clothes. My injured leg was beginning to itch horribly.

The Princess seemed to be waiting for something, so I stopped and turned towards her.

"Do you have a wife, hero?" she asked. She hadn't even yet asked my name.

"No," I answered honestly. "I wear no woman's favor."

"I saw the favor you wore as you brought me down the wall, but did not recognize it," she continued. "Is that why you do not ravish me?"

I grit my teeth. I guess I had to be...erm...straight with her. "Look, for a woman, I'm certain you're great. I'm just not interested. Not celibate, not interested." Too many of them thought I was a monk if I didn't specify.

She didn't understand. "You have a sweetheart?"

I was tired, hot, and hurting. "Yeah, and he's waiting at my tent if you want to challenge him for me. I'm going to take a bath, Princess. I suggest you go back to your tent and get ready to meet your father's forces tonight."

The look on her face as she figured it out kept me chuckling all the way to the pool.

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j n m ( m n j )
"I've got soap! I've got soap!" -- Gorto