THE CURSE: part 5


by Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Twenty Seven

Sea walked toward a table pulled out a chair and sat, leaning forward, her
face against her hands, she felt as if she held the world on her shoulders,
sighing, she closed her eyes.

"Ann Bounty?" the words were low as she looked up to see who had spoken
them. It was the innkeeper, leaning back in the chair she asked, "Just what
is it you want?"

He stared at her and answered, "Got a message from that friend of yours."

Sea was on her feet as she said, "What? Where is she?"

He stepped back and said, "Woman said to tell you she would be in the alley.
Guess you know what she is talking about."

Smiling, Sea said, "Thanks, I sure do." She turned and hurried away. He
scratched his head as he watched the woman stride from the room, murmuring,

It didn't take her long to make it to the alley. She had assumed this was
the one Mary was talking about. Sea tried to figure out why her friend
wanted to meet her there but felt she probably had a good reason. The minute
she stepped into the opening, she felt a chill and heard the footsteps
coming in behind her. Quickly turning she could see several guards advancing
toward her. Taking several steps back, she turned and started forward only
to be met my more men. Turning once more she slowly drew back, stepping to
the right. A man jumped in front of her as she turned and darted in a new
direction, Another man shot in front of her, each way she moved a man stood
holding a shining sword that glistened reflecting the sun's rays. Stopping
as she stood in the center of the circle, her heart pounding fiercely, her
thoughts racing.

"There is no place to run," Asterea said, "you will not escape me again."

Ann whirled around and came face to face with the woman she despised. She
seemed taller than she remembered, dressed in a brown leather tunic and
leather breeches. Her features seemed to savor Ann's predicament. Asterea
carried a sword in her right hand as she mocked her.

Ann leaped in the air landed and rolled between two of the men but still
found her way blocked. Quickly getting to her feet, she realized she was
trapped, caught within the woman's menacing circle. She whirled back around
her gaze narrowing on Asterea. "You can't stop me, why don't you get out of
my life!? her eyes gleamed.

The clouds seemed to cast a shadow as the sharp bitter wind cut through her
like a knife, She shivered and at the same time saw the blade thrusting
toward her. Quickly stopping the man's blow in midair, the sound of metal on
metal clashing. Her right foot struck out finding the man's right knee and
the noise of broken bones along with his screams caused several to step
back. Battle swords swung high overhead in a death grip. The brilliant green
of Sea's eyes showed no fear as she charged into the heart of the
approaching men, swinging her sword into the mass of embattled warriors. She
struck to the left and right, slashing at their thrusts and lunges, her
power was cutting the circle. No matter how many battles Ann had fought
there was that first moment, that first blow that struck deep into a man's
soul, the shudder of the blade as it met the resistance of leather and the
fatal yielding and sinking of the blade into another human. It was seen and
felt by the images that exploded around her, every man driving past, that
first blow to the next and the next. All feeling ceased to exist as numbness
set in. The battle seemed to have a pulse, beating then resting then beating
again as metal struck against metal and fierce war cries were heard midst
the cries of the dieing.

She was not aware of the woman until Asterea's harsh cruel laughter rang in
her ears. It was then she felt the burning glance off her left arm as sharp
metal slashed through soft leather. Whirling, her sword deflected the one
that was so hungrily searching out her flesh. Asterea kept a solid hold on
hers as she grinned at Sea. "Almost gotcha that time. Why don't you just
give up, you will in the end anyway."

Sea pushed against the woman's cold steel, her face fixed in stone as she
said, "You wish!

They seemed to be standing in one place, neither giving an inch. Asterea
drew a small dagger and struck out at Sea and, at the same time Sea blocked
it with her left hand. Asterea brought her left knee up and landed a solid
blow to Sea's stomach, she lurched under the impact. Sea glared at the woman
as she reached out and wrapped her right leg around Asterea's, taking both
of them down. The two women struck with force, neither relinquishing their
hold. Sea lay on her back, her left hand trying to keep the dagger from
striking and at the same time attempting to keep the woman's sword back.
Asterea tried to get her to loosen her grip and when she wouldn't, she
crashed her head down on Sea's. The blow, dazed her long enough for Asterea
to jump to her feet. Shaking her head, Sea managed to get to her feet.
Asterea was taunting her with both weapons as she said, "Come on, like a
sheep led to slaughter, come and get it."

Sea heard the footsteps coming up behind her, as she raised her sword to
deflect the two that were descending toward her head. Turning, she lashed
out with her right and then her left foot sending them into knees that
shattered. As the men dropped their swords and fell toward the ground, Sea
twirled and faced Asterea. One of Asterea's men rushed toward her, his
weapon seeking Ann's flesh as she raised her sword to deflect it off the tip
of her blade. The angle caught the man in his right shoulder, the blow
caused him to stagger back. She leaped into the air bringing her feet down
upon his shoulders sending him crashing to the ground. Rolling, she easily
bounced back onto her feet. Out the corner of her eyes she saw the figures
charging toward her from the right and left. And as they neared she dropped
to her right knee and the men found themselves skewered with the other's
weapon. Reaching out, she pushed them backward as they stared at their
bloodied swords in amazement.

A large man brandishing two swords walked toward her, his movements slow and
menacing. Flipping her sword into the air and catching it as it landed
firmly in the palm of her right hand she asked, "What now? Don't you people
ever quit?"

Her sword thrust to the right and then the left as she kept his massive
strength from finding a mark. They had traveled back and forth across the
circle and it was taking all of Ann's concentration to keep the man at bay.
Her sword making it's way into his right shoulder. The man seemed to be
immortal because he acted as if it was nothing even though she could see the
red as it soaked through his shirt.

He seemed to be weakening in that arm, it was then she swung her cutlass
through the air. Instinctively he dropped low and caught her at the knees,
knocking her feet out from under her in a painful blow, that sent her
sprawling and her sword flying from her hands. Ann rolled across the ground,
she was disoriented, her senses stunned. She pushed painfully to her feet
and immediately discovered the loss of the sword. Pain swept through her and
torturous thoughts squeezed at her heart like an angry fist. She seemed to
waver as she shook her head. Feeling a blow to the back of her head, she
lurched forward and fell into the large man's grip. He grasped her arms as
if they were straw and pinned them behind her in a vise like grip. His face
waxing into a twisted mass of destruction as he sent the other fist into her
stomach, then across the side of her face, each time not letting her fall
until the last blow. Ann Bounty crumbled to the ground as the man's right
boot struck her in the side sending her falling the rest of the way, her
face hitting the dirt.

Slowly she grasped at the dirt with her hands, she seemed to waver as she
lay dazed, confused and bleeding from the man's blows. Slowly struggling up
on her right elbow, nausea and pain swept through her, she felt battered and
bruised, her senses equally bruised. Bodies were laying about, many men were
standing off to the side as they tended their own wounds. "Ann Bounty!" The
words were sharp and threatening. Ann could see the boots and raised her
head to see who it was, her facial features held a look of wildness about
them as she stared into the face of Asterea. The woman was standing, holding
a dagger to Mary Ready's throat. She was holding Mary's left hand behind her
as she forced the woman to walk around Ann. She seemed to be circling her
like a wolf surrounding it's prey. Her dark eyes narrowed and gleamed, twin
pools of evil as disbelief gave way to discovery. Evil laughter rang out
across the circle. Ann's predicament seemed to turn Asterea's gloating into
triumph. "Did you really think that you could stop me? That you were
powerful enough, you are a fool, you are no match for me, I will have you!"

Within seconds Ann Bounty was on her feet once more. She somersaulted toward
a soldier and kicked his weapon from his hand, catching it in midair.
Turning to face Asterea, "You are wrong!" it gave Ann great pleasure to tell
the woman. The sword in her hand swung high over her head in a deathlike
grip. Her eyes were brilliantly green, they met Mary's for an instant then
she said, "It's me you want, not her, come and get me!"

Shaking her head, Asterea said, "Don't think so, you have done enough damage
to my men and seems beating you can't even keep you down. Now, let's just
see if you care for your friend at all." She twisted Mary's arm as the woman
grimaced from the pressure. "Drop your weapon or I will slit her throat and
you can watch the blood pour from her body and know you are the reason she
is dead."

Mary didn't move as Sea neared, she swung the sword through the air as the
sound reverberated the area. Asterea's words were stronger this time, "Drop
the sword! If you don't, she dies!"

Sea looked at her friend as she let the weapon fall to the ground. Asterea
grinned sadistically and ordered, "Now, down on your knees, hands above your

Sea did as Asterea ordered and it didn't take long for the woman's men to
tie her hands behind her, then force her to the ground on her stomach as
they removed her boots. Jerking the woman to her feet, Sea scowled at
Asterea and said, "You have me, now let her go!"

Throwing back her head and laughing, Asterea called one of her men to take
Mary as she walked toward Sea. Her eyes staring at the woman's disshelved
appearance. "Tch, tch, you are a sight. What am I to do with you?" She gazed
at what was left of her men and added, "you have reduced my army
tremendously." She reached out and stroked Ann's face as Ann jerked her head
back. Asterea reached out and tightly grabbed a handful of hair, then, sent
her right fist into Sea's stomach, causing her to double over in pain.

Trying to catch her breath, she found herself between light and darkness.
Asterea pulled her upright, never relinquishing her hold on the woman, she
brought her mouth down on Sea's in a savage kiss of conquest. She was so
wrapped up in the moment she was not expecting Sea's response. Her teeth bit
into Asterea's lip bringing blood to the surface as she jumped back, cursing
Ann. The woman reached up wiping it from her lips and snarled at Ann, "Think
you're smart, won't work." She reached out and smeared some of the blood on
Ann's lips then ordered, "Take her to the temple and put her in solitary.
Chain her up, I don't want to take any chances with this one."

Sea balked as they went to lead her off, "Let Mary Ready go, the woman has
no connection to any of this, she just happened to be in the wrong place. Do
one decent thing in your life, please let her go!"

Her lip seemed to quiver for an instant then Asterea said, "Do not worry
about things you cannot control, your friend will be fine. Now, take her

"Where have you taken Mary?!" Sea screamed and all she could hear as they
dragged her away was Asterea's cruel laugh.

She watched them walk away then turned her attention to the men that had
been injured and slain. One of them walked up to her and said, "The woman
hates you, why don't you just kill her and get it over?"

Trying to remove a kink from her neck she said, "Because, I will see Ann
Bounty pay before I am through, the woman will do my bidding, mark my

He replied, "I just ask you be careful, she is a crafty one."

Laughing as she walked away, "I always am, now get this mess cleaned up."

Chapter Twenty Eight


Her body racked in pain from the blows she had sustained, Ann kept fighting
the darkness that was trying to overtake her. Enjoying the difficulty she
was having, the men laughed as they forced her forward. The massive man that
had taken Sea down gave her a powerful shove, this sent her pitching forward
with such speed she lost her balance and collapsed on the ground. His huge
hands picked her up as if she were a feather, he grinned sadistically,
"Where is all this power, I have heard you wield so well?"

Ann glared up, her breathing was labored as she retorted, "Cut me loose, and
I'll make sure you do not crow anymore." The words were barely out of her
mouth, before his right hand ricocheted across her face, snapping her head
back sending her to the ground once more. She landed with a thud, trying to
open her eyes, her nostrils filling from the dust that was bellowing upward.
She was aware of the man's boots and before she knew he was upon her. He had
placed his right foot on her stomach his face looked like a twisted mass of
bulging blood vessels as he snarled, "Asterea doesn't know how to handle
you, give you to me for an hour and I will have you doing things you might
never have imagined." He threw back his head and guffawed. It was at this
time, Sea brought her legs up, her feet shooting into the man's crotch. His
cry as he fell toward the ground, seemed to amaze his men, they stood
transfixed. Sea rolled out of his way and before he fell to his knees she
was on her feet. Jumping into the air, she landed both feet between his
shoulder blades knocking him face down in the dirt.

"Stop it!" The words sent a chill down her back as Sea spun around to face
Asterea. The woman was standing, her legs spread apart, boots planted firmly
on the ground. Her arms folded across her chest as she stared at Ann.

Sea's eyes darting to Asterea's men who had now drawn their swords and were
advancing toward her, she braced for the confrontation. She was surprised
when Asterea raised her right hand and said, "Leave her to me, you fools
can't even take an unarmed woman to solitary." The men stepped back and
watched as Asterea walked toward Sea.

Taking two steps to the right, she prepared for what was to come. Asterea
stopped as she neared, her dark eyes gleaming as she asked, "What did the
fool do? Must have underestimated you." Her hands were on her hips as she
took in this beautiful defiant woman. Finally Asterea smiled, "Do we always
have to meet like this? Must you always be trying to fight me? I think it is
time we resolved a few things."

Sea scoffed, "When Hades freezes over."

Laughing, Asterea shrugged her shoulders and replied, "It could happen. I
plan to get close to you way before then." Holding out her right hand, she
smiled, "Come, let me take you to your new quarters. Don't fight me, I will
win, you know that."

Sea stepped back, her eyes darting around, she was surrounded and knew there
was no way out. Turning her attention to Asterea she bit at her lower lip
and said, "All right, I know I cannot get out of here but I will not make it
easy." Asterea cautioned her men as she tossed her sword to one and said,
"Hold this, I need to teach Miss Bounty a lesson." He caught it and nodded
as she started toward Sea.

In an instant, Sea's right leg shot through the air making solid contact
with Asterea's cheek. This knocked the woman back several steps, she quickly
recovered and started for Ann once more. This time she was prepared and when
Sea jumped sending both feet toward her, she easily dodged to the left, her
fist crashing into Ann's jaw. Sea hit the ground and rolled, getting to her
knees, her jaw ached as she shook her head trying to rid it of the cobwebs
that were growing thicker.

"Get up!" Asterea chided.

Faltering several times but making it to her feet she scowled at the woman
and said, "Could untie my hands."

Shaking her head Asterea answered, "Oh no, you do enough damage with your
feet. I'll never forget your little gift to me. Now, I am getting tired, the
day has been long. When you decide enough is enough we can go."

Ann glared, "Where is Mary? What have you done to her?"

Smiling, Asterea held out her hands, "Come on, your friend is not an issue
now. I could tell you I will have her killed, but we have both been waiting
for this. Once I beat you, and you acknowledge this, it will be easier for

A small trail of blood was trickling from the corner of Ann's mouth as she
grimaced, "In your dreams. Gods I tried to rid myself of you!" She charged
toward the woman, Asterea feigned to the right and landed a solid blow to
her stomach. Ann doubled over as a searing pain shot through her taking her
breath away, she hit the ground once more. Everything in her told her to
stay put but she wouldn't and managed to get to her knees.

With swift reckoning, Asterea scowled, "Never, my dear, we are destined to
be." Whirling, she brought her right foot along side Sea's head sending the
woman crashing to the ground. She stared down at Ann, her face in the dirt,
struggling to get to her feet. Admiring the woman's mettle as she watched
her stand, weaving back and forth, her voice strained, Ann gasped, "Let Gina

Laughing once more, Asterea replied, "For someone who is beaten but won't
give up, you are in no position to ask anything." A shrill cry echoed
through the air as the woman struck with her right then left leg, each time,
Sea was able to dodge the blows.

The statuesque woman stayed in the shadows of a building as she watched
them. She felt a pain in the pit of her stomach. Ann Bounty was quite a
figure, her fiery hair only added to the woman's pull. It was a losing
battle but she admired Ann for not giving up. Asterea had received enough
blows, she too was showing signs of the battle. Every fiber in her being
wanted to go and help but she knew if she did, it would destroy all plans,
so, like a coward, she stayed back and watched.

It was a long brutal battle, though Ann's hands were tied behind her, she
was doing tremendous damage with her powerful legs. Asterea's face had gone
from confident to one of rage and she knew this was not a good sign.

Pacing back and forth, then finally turning to gaze at Ann Bounty, the woman
was swaying but would not give up. Placing her hands in front of her,
Asterea moved them like a cat, up, down, forward, and back, each step

Sea shook her head, the throbbing was getting worse and when she tried to
focus on Asterea she saw several of the woman moving toward her. Trying to
smile, she asked, "What's this? Some kind of hypnotic trick? Am I supposed
to be so entranced by what you are doing, I fall under your spell?"

Immediately Asterea's hands sliced back and forth a blur to Ann. She feigned
to the left, to the right each time she could feel the air from the woman's
blow as it passed. Ann realized she was in trouble and found herself
stumbling back trying to avoid the many thrusts. Losing her balance she fell
and within seconds, Asterea was straddling her, the woman's hands at her
throat. "Never underestimate me Ann Bounty."

Grimacing under the woman's weight, her wrists ached from the tight rope
that held them behind her. Glaring at the confident look on Asterea's face
she baited, "Go ahead, do it, kill me!"

Asterea loosened her hold, pulling her left hand away from Sea's throat she
said, "Oh no, It took awhile to get you back into my possession and I will
not let you leave so easily." Her eyes had dropped to the front of Sea's
shirt, the leather ties had opened, the heaving of her breasts apparent.
There was silence in the area, except for the two women, everything else
seemed to be standing still.

Trying to clear her head, Sea scowled at the woman, "No guts, kill me, they
will speak your name as the woman that finally did Ann Bounty in!"

Licking her lips, her right hand still at Sea's throat and holding her head
back, she placed her left hand over a beckoning breast. As her fingers began
to press and probe, her eyes met Sea's. Things had changed, what was a
battle of blows, had now become the woman's sexual conquest. "Do--Don't!"
Ann fired between clenched teeth.

Her right hand was holding Sea's head firmly down and she was enjoying her
moment of triumph. Ann was shifting her body, trying to unseat the woman all
to no avail. This seemed to make Asterea want her all the more and so she
lay still. She ached from all the blows she had taken, her face a mass of
welts and bruises, and now this. Mustering all she could, Sea growled, "Get
off me!"

Laughing, Asterea replied, "In a minute, I want everyone to know I defeated
the great Ann Bounty and had my way with her." Ann summoned up all her
strength as she attempted to throw the woman once more. She felt the
stabbing pain in her breast as Asterea squeezed with such might, it took her
breath away. "Stop! You will learn, I get what I want. Now lay still." Tears
brimming in her eyes, Sea turned her head and closed them. "Gods, please let
me die." it was a whisper as she shuddered at the woman's touch. It soon was
evident Asterea was getting carried away, her other hand had released her
throat. The woman seemed to be so occupied she took the chance and brought
her legs up behind Asterea, catching her around the throat and pulling her
backwards, onto the ground.

Shaking her head, the woman snarled, she had been caught up in desires of
the flesh and Ann Bounty had bested her again. Getting to her feet as she
watched Sea scramble to hers, she gazed around at her men. It was evident
she was going to have to teach this woman a lesson, she had made her look a
fool in front of her men.

Glaring at Sea, she said, "Damn you Ann Bounty, now I am going to have to
punish you."

Shaking her head, Sea attempted to focus on the woman. "Let me go, I will
never be what you want, let me go!" Her breathing labored as she started to
fall then regained her balance. Asterea walked a circle around her, each
step faster and each time, Sea found herself getting dizzier. Before long,
she felt the darkness closing in and fight as hard as she could to stop it,
she couldn't and gave into the feeling.

Hands on her hips, Asterea stared down at the woman, then she bent over and
threw Ann over her left shoulder. Head high, she walked toward the temple
carrying her prize, a smile of satisfaction crossed her face and her men


Chapter Twenty Nine


The petite woman sat, her eyes never leaving Ann Bounty. Asterea had ordered
her to watch the woman, and make her as comfortable as possible. She tended
her wounds, bathed her and now watched. Time had passed quickly, and each
day the striking redhead seemed to improve. Ann laid on her back, a white
fleece cover adorned her, she seemed to be sleeping, her soft moans
permeating the area. Leaning back in her chair, she thought back to the day
Asterea ordered her to care for this woman.


Marian was mending some clothes when the door opened and Asterea walked into
the room. She looked up, concern on her face when she saw the battered
woman. Jumping to her feet she hurried to her, "What happened? Come sit, let
me tend to you."

Raising her right hand the woman answered, "I'm fine, I need you to tend to
someone else." She had brushed Marian's hand away and walked to the bottle
of wine, pouring herself a goblet she added, "Ann Bounty, I need you to tend
to her."

Marian watched as the woman emptied the goblet then she asked, "Ann Bounty?
You have captured her I take it?"

Turning to gaze at the woman, Asterea, reached up to wipe the blood from her
mouth and said, "That's right, it was not easy and she is hurt."

Walking toward Asterea, Marian said, "I am surprised you would ask me to do
this, everyone knows the love you possess for the woman."

This time Asterea took a long drink from the bottle, she managed several
swallows then said, "Love? You speak as if I am in love with the wench. I
desire her, but I do not love her."

Managing all her courage, Marian said, "Oh you love her all right, I will do
as you ask, I will tend to her, where will you be?

Walking toward a wooden chair, she sat, leaned back and sighed, I have
things to do, get her well, when I return, I will check on her and you," her
eyes glaring at Marian she added, "Don't get any ideas, your life depends on
her life."

Asterea left that day. Marian had no idea what the woman was up to but she
did tend to Ann Bounty. The woman had been beaten and she cringed when she
saw how badly. Sea had been brought to the room, placed on the large bed,
she immediately went about caring for her, while several guards stayed
outside the door. A feeling of jealousy swept over her, though she found
herself admiring Ann Bounty, she was the most ravishing woman she had ever
set eyes on. She could understand how Asterea had fallen under the woman's
charms. It was obvious the woman wanted nothing to do with Asterea, yet, she
persisted. Marian knew all to well how persistent the woman could be. She
had nothing but sympathy for this lovely woman. She had done everything she
could to ease her torment.

Now, as she sat and stared at the sleeping form of Ann Bounty, she wondered
where Asterea was and when she would be back. Her mind held many thoughts
and one of them was what was going to happen the minute this beautiful women
regained full consciousness. She was brought out of her reflections as she
heard Sea moan. Her eyes widened when she saw the woman trying to sit up,
dashing toward her, she reached out and pushed her back, "Don't, you are not
strong enough yet."

Ann blinked her eyes, trying to focus them on the woman that was talking to
her, finally she asked, "Where am I? Who are you?"

Sitting on the bed, her left hand, caressing Sea's forehead, she said, "You
are a prisoner, my name is Marian."

Sea raised the cover and stared at her naked body, her eyes growing wide,
"My, my clothes, God, Asterea didn't--"

Quickly, Marian said, "No, she is not here, she asked me to tend to you. No
one has touched you but me."

Seeming to relax a bit, Sea asked, "Who are you, why would you do this?"

Slowly she told the woman a little about herself and when she finished, Sea
scowled, "Might have known, you would have something to do with her."

Standing, Marian said, "She loves you, I know she has a funny way of showing
it but she does. I have seen Asterea in many moods and never the one she
seems to be in where you are concerned."

"Yeah, well, I wish she would find something else to occupy her time. I hate
the woman and would soon as not kill her."

Turning to gaze down at the woman, Marian glowered, "She is not as bad as
you might think. I would die before I let any harm come to her."

Sea stared at the ceiling and uttered, "Gods, is everyone under that woman's
spell? Where are my clothes, I need to dress."

"I'll go get them, I would think about this though, the guards outside the
door are waiting for you to get well, then they will take you to solitary.
So if I was you, I would just lay back."

Sea watched as Marian left the room, the woman's words still in her mind.
She had no desire to go to solitary but she had every desire to find out how
Gina and Mary, along with the others, were. She sat up, her body still sore,
she knew she was lucky to be alive, she had taken a terrible beating and was
thankful to Marian for taking care of her. Feeling her body shiver as her
thoughts fell on Asterea, the woman was like a heat seeking monster, she
wouldn't quit.

Marian brought her clothes and she put them on. The woman seemed nice enough
but knowing she liked Asterea was enough to make her leery. She had just
finished dressing when Marian returned to the room, she held a bowl of
steaming gruel in her right hand, "Brought you something to eat."

Looking up at the woman, Sea replied, "Not hungry. Besides, who knows what
you have put in it."

Stepping close to the tall woman, Marian gazed up at her and said, "It is
not poisoned or drugged if that is what you think. It is just gruel. You may
not feel like eating but you need food to keep your body in shape," glancing
down she added, "just eat, please."

Taking the bowl, Sea thanked her and walked toward a wooden chair and sat.
Taking a deep breath she began to eat. Though she didn't feel hungry, she
devoured the meal in quick fashion. Marian beamed, "Glad you liked it."

Handing the empty bowl to the woman Sea spoke softly, "When will she be

Shrugging her shoulders, Marian answered, "Don't know, she has been gone for
sometime. I do expect to see her any day."

"Raising her eyebrows, Sea asked, "You have kept her informed of my

Nodding, she answered, "Yes, the captain of the guards keeps in touch with

Standing, Sea began to pace the room, falling several times against the wall
she cursed, "I have to get out of here before that she devil returns."

Marian watched the woman in fascination and finally said, "Can't, there is
no way out."

Sea walked toward the door and replied, "There is the door."

"Yes, and Asterea's guards on the other side."

Walking toward the bed she sat, her eyes staring at Marian she asked, "My
friends, Gina and--" Before she could finish her statement, Marian cut in,
"I have no knowledge of this. You will need to talk to Asterea when she

"Yeah, it will be like talking to the wall." She fell back on the bed, her
right hand on her forehead she murmured, "Why didn't you let me die?"

Standing, Marian said, "Because Asterea said if you died then so did I."

Raising her head she glanced at the woman and said, "Guess that might be an
added incentive to get me well." Resting her head on the soft pillow, she
added, "I think I will rest for a bit."

Marian smiled, "Good, just don't go getting any ideas about escaping, you
are barely back on your feet."

"Promise, I will just lay here."

Marian watched until she was sure the woman had drifted off, then she left
the room.

She had just entered the cooking area and set the bowl and wooden spoon down
when she heard the words, "How is she?"

Turning, she saw the figure step from the shadows, before she could scream,
the woman came into full view, it was Asterea. Sitting, she tried to catch
her breath, Marian replied, "She is fine. Gods, why don't you scare a person
to death!"

Walking up to her, Asterea pulled out a chair and sat, "Missed me, I can

Marian managed a smile, "If I did, it would mean nothing to you. You've got
your eyes on only one and she'd rather see you dead."

Laughing, Asterea said, "Ahh, you did, you missed me." She stood and walked
toward the woman, reached out and asked, "Take my hand, go for a walk with

Marian hesitated for a moment, then she grasped her hand, "What has gotten
into you? This is so unlike you."

Smiling at the woman, Asterea replied, "I've had time to think about a lot
of things. Let's go, I need for you to tell me all about Ann Bounty."

Walking beside the woman, Marian replied, "Might have known it would have
something to do with her, won't do you any good."

The air outside was warm and the walk in the garden was heavenly to Marian.
She had grown fond of this woman and to be able to spend quiet time like
this was more than she could have asked. They sat on a wooden bench. The
beauty of the garden was all consuming as Marian said, "She asked when you
were coming back. Her thoughts are of escaping."

Grinning, Asterea muttered, "Would have been disappointed had she been any
different. Before you ask, yes, I am going to see her today. I will not hurt

Heaving a sigh, the woman replied, "Thank goodness, I don't want to see you
hurt either. I am going to go in, will I see you later?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Asterea answered, "Depends on what happens. I will
see you before the night is over. Thank you for taking care of her."

Nodding, the woman walked away. Asterea watched her until she was out of
sight, then she stared at her boots, they were covered in dust, her pants
showed signs of a long hard travel. Sniffing the air she realized she could
use a bath and started toward the grotto. She would take a refreshing soak,
change clothes and call on Sea. Getting to her feet she grinned, the woman
was a hell cat, but for some reason she could not get her out of her blood.
Picking up her step she started down the pathway.


Ann had been pacing the room, her eyes had taken everything into them. It
was nice, nothing like a cell. It didn't take her long to check the entire
area and finally in disgust, she threw up her hands and cursed. There had
been nothing she could use against the guards and she knew better than to
try to face them without some sort of weapon. She was still too weak, her
body was not back to it's full strength so she sat. Staring at the door,
waiting, for the petite woman to return, at least she was someone to talk

continued in chapter30

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