Sweet Salvation

KW Jordan


The story and characters: All rights to Sweet Salvation belong to KW Jordan. This is the sequel to “The Birth of Lord Jesse.” This story's also an AU to a story I did for KSL called “Exile from Byron”.

Adult content: Story contains violence and sexual content. The sex is, of course, between two women. Also, there's a brief moment of bloodlust induced stupidity (sorta non-consensual foreplay). What can I say? You get two of my original characters and there's bound to be a few moments of ignorance (especially these two).

Thanks to all of you for being so patient with me.

Thank you, Jo. I only wish you could've finished editing it for me, my friend. Hopefully the readers can deal with this as is and won't lynch me.

Send feedback to k.w_jordan@yahoo.com

Visit my site at http://rebel-by-choice.tripod.com/

Lord Jesse leaned against the stone wall of her bedchambers with a grimace of pain etched into her features. Her left hand clenched her once white bloodstained shirt to the gash in her left side. She'd ignored the injury long enough to give orders to her warriors and healers once the recent battle was over, and then made a quick retreat to her bedchambers. She really regretted her decision not to bother the stressed healer with the wound.

Jesse disregarded the pain and raised her arms up to remove her shirt. She gasped when a burning pain rippled through her side as she pulled the shirt over her head and then she weakly tossed it across the room. She dropped her head back against the wall and blinked as she struggled to stay conscious. Her movements had torn the wound further and the flow of hot blood down her side increased.

Her voice was hoarse from screaming during battle as she muttered, "Eight bloody feckin' years o' this, ye'd think I'd know better than ta ignore me own wounds!" She shook her head at her own stupidity and regretted that as well.

Jesse closed her eyes against a wave of dizziness and her upper lip twisted into a sneer when the image of the Roman bastard who had done this came to mind. A dry chuckle escaped her parted lips when his smug visage was replaced by the fear in his eyes just before his head was lopped off. The vibrations caused another fierce wave of pain to move through Jesse's small frame and she stumbled toward the bed with gasping breaths. Despite her best efforts the darkness that had been swirling at the edges of her vision for candle marks took her and she fell to the floor in a heap. Her head hit the stone floor with a sharp crack, her short, dark blonde hair not softening the impact any.


Ronin of Byron, former advisor to Lord Johan was currently a very unhappy woman. She glared at the young Celtic Warriors surrounding her baring the colors of the Byron clans as she stood and dusted the dirt from her leather britches. She met the eyes of the oldest one standing in front of her and growled, "Try that again, an' ye'll be eatin' yer bloody prick!"

Another, more stupid young Celt attempted an attack on her from behind and Ronin spun and flipped him by his sword arm onto his back before he could touch her. The sickening pop of his shoulder dislocating echoed throughout the now quiet village. Ronin's green eyes flashed with the thrill of excitement as she repeated her warning, "Any one else tryin' fer moronic, or are ye gonna let me pass?"

Another warrior walked through the loose circle of Celts and paused in front of her after hearing her last comment. He held up a hand and said, "Show us yer clan colors and I'll let ya through, lass."

Ronin saw the Celtic Warrior's honor badge encircling his right forearm that meant he was one of the ruling family's personal warriors and nodded her head in respect. She ignored the annoyance she felt at being called 'lass' and said, "All right, tell the boy wondar's 'ere ta piss off an' I'll show you me colors, Captain."

Sarhen paused and a look of surprise and wary respect passed through his gray eyes for a moment before he could veil it. He looked around at the warriors under his command and his baritone voice boomed out, "Get back ta yer posts, lads!"

Ronin held in a snicker as she watched the young warriors run back to their posts. Goddess I've missed this! There's nothin' quite like havin' a bunch of gull-bait ta push 'round! Ronin noticed that all of the warriors but Sarhen were gone and re-sheathed her long sword. She rolled the long sleeve of her black cotton shirt up to her elbow on her right arm, revealing the vivid colors of several different accomplishment marks and badges.

Sarhen's eyes widened when he saw the blue, green and indigo ink in the Master Healer's tattoo around Ronin's wrist. A look of astonishment passed across his face as he saw the mark of a Master Mage just two inches above it. Never in his entire military career had he heard of someone as young as this woman seemed being so highly honored. Not even his father or Lord Jesse was that talented.

Ronin's favorite expression Sarhen made was the one he made when she revealed the brand of Lord Johan's Advisor just below her elbow. She suddenly was looking into the face of an awestruck, over-grown child. Good thing he can't see tha rest o' ye, Roni! She snickered inwardly.

Sarhen tried to bow but was interrupted by Ronin's deep husky voice, "Now don'cha be doin' that 'til ye've finished the interrogation, Captain. I don't believe the Lady Jessen would be very happy with ye if ya let someone in 'ere without proper questionin'."

Sarhen blushed at the amused reprimand and stammered, "Aye, right. Uhh... who are ye?"

Ronin raised a perfectly sculpted black eyebrow at Sarhen. She shook her head and would've continued the harassment but was interrupted by a wave of distress she hadn't felt in the better part of a decade. Her throat worked as she swallowed convulsively and she said anxiously, "Sarhen, I'm sure yer aware that the only way ta be a Master Healer is if ye have powerful psychic abilities, right?"

She waited for his nod and continued, "Well, I was Lord Johan's Advisor, Ronin of Byron. Now, I'm sure you've heard tales and such but I need ta get ta Lady Jessen, now!"

Sarhen gazed into Ronin's dark green eyes which had become even odder than they already were with serious intent and nodded without hesitation. He turned and walked down the main street of the village toward the castle. He watched with ever-deepening confusion as the strange woman broke into a run.


Ronin's long legs ate up the distance between her and the castle. Her heart pounded in her chest with fear that increased with every second it took her to get to Lady Jessen. A large group of castle guards attempted to stop Ronin and she spared a moment to focus and the soldiers stopped where they were. A few crashed into the others as they came to a standstill and their voices cried out in confusion.

Ronin grinned as she thought of the reprimand Karrig would give her when he got hold of her. He hated it when she used her psychic powers on his warriors because it made them loopy for days afterwards. The grin disappeared quickly as the feeling of distress gripped her heart tighter.

With another burst of speed she was at the top of the stairs and moving toward the doors at the end of the hall where two guards stood at the doors to Lord Johan's chambers. Ronin used the confusion spell again to get in and locked the doors behind her. When she turned to look around the room, she was confused by the difference of the room. Lord Johan's belongings had been removed and there was a malevolent vibe that surrounded her in the dark room.

A hoarse groan caught her attention and Ronin zeroed in the source. She walked across the room to drop to her knees at Jesse's side. Her sight was immediately drawn to the bloody mess of Jesse's torso and side. She picked Jesse up with gentle hands and moved toward the doors, using her powers to open them. There was a groan of metal as the lock gave way and then the doors swung open.

The startled guards tried to stop Ronin and she shouted, "If ye want the Lady Jessen ta live, I suggest ye tell me where the feck the healin' supplies are!"


The chief of warriors Karrig hurried through the castle halls. He'd been training the new warriors when Sarhen came running to him about some crazed, she-demon of a Master Healer. As soon as Sarhen had explained that the woman talked as if Lord Johan still lived and called their Lord 'Lady Jessen', Karrig took off running toward Jesse's bedchambers without a backward glance.

Karrig approached two of his warriors who stood in confusion in front of Jesse's bedchambers. His eyes widened when the doors to Jesse's room flew inward and Ronin came barreling out. When Ronin's words registered Karrig shot into action and growled at the guards, "Sarhen, get the feckin' healin' supplies! Don't bother with the damned Healer we've already got the only one we'll ever need."

Ronin looked up from Jesse's battered face, and her intense dark green eyes pinned Karrig to the spot. Her voice was flat and filled with promise, "If she dies, I will string every one of ye up from here to Rome and fillet you alive."

Stunned at the demonic inner light in her eyes, Karrig opened his mouth to stammer a reply only to sigh in relief as Sarhen returned. He took the healing supplies from him and walked around Ronin as he said, “Thank ye, my son.”

Ronin turned and re-entered the bedchambers, not looking back to see if the others would follow. She laid Jesse down on the large bed and placed her fingertips at the pulse point in Jesse's neck. A silent sigh of relief exited her lips when she found a strong pulse. Ronin stripped the rest of Jesse's clothing off and tried to ignore the intense sadness and guilt she felt at the multitude of scars peppering Jesse's young body.

Ronin accepted the basin of water from Karrig and took the clean washcloth offered without glancing up. She cleaned the blood from Jesse and as the deep jagged gash was revealed, murmurs of shock escaped the younger warriors in the room. She continued to work as she growled, "Either keep yer yaps shut or I'll shut 'em fer ya!"

The room became deathly quiet as Ronin administered herbs and pastes to the wound. Once the mixture was packed in Ronin carefully stitched the wound. She finished up the stitching and removed a small thin knife from the lining of her leather britches to cut the thread. She tied the thread off and returned the knife to its resting spot.

Once the wound was covered with gauze Ronin checked Jesse for other wounds. She turned Jesse's head to the side and the unconscious warrior whimpered when Ronin's fingers brushed over a discolored lump above Jesse's temple. Ronin's eyes narrowed as her nostrils flared and her jaw clenched. She turned her attention to the warriors surrounding the bed and said, "Everyone out."

The warriors filed out of the room but she called Karrig back into the room before he could get through the door, "Karrig, you can stay. I'll need ye ta keep an eye on things while I do this."

Karrig nodded and watched Ronin crawl into the bed on the other side of Jesse and snuggled next to her. This wasn't the first time he'd had to oversee something like this with Ronin and past experience told him that it might be a long watch so he settled into a chair in a corner of the room. He could just hope that what she was doing would help because he didn't want to imagine the repercussions of Jesse being injured. He was still shocked at Ronin's return as well and he couldn't wait to talk to her.

Ronin settled next to Jesse and put her head on Jesse's shoulder as she carefully wrapped her arm around Jesse's waist. She curled her right arm underneath Jesse's head and placed her palm over the bump on the side of Jesse's head. Ronin closed her eyes and placed a kiss to Jesse's neck as she allowed herself to relax into a meditative state. When Ronin's eyes re-opened, she was surrounded by light purple swirling mist and vivid images playing out wherever she looked.

Mental passages were always unique with each person but this wasn't the first time she'd visited Jessen's. The first time Jessen had gotten on a horse she'd been thrown because the animal got spooked by a beehive and she'd hit her head on a boulder. Ronin had to enter her mind to retrieve her when she'd stayed unconscious for longer than was safe. Ronin sighed at the distant memory.

As she waited for Jessen to show herself Ronin gave full reign to her curiosity about the woman Jessen had become. Her attention was caught by a battle that had taken place at Byron Castle playing out in Jessen's memories. Her eyes narrowed when she caught sight of a young Jessen pressing her advantage against an opponent until the Roman was backed against a tree. Goddess, this couldn't have been but right after I left!

Ronin's heart leaped into her throat when Jessen plunged her sword into the enemy's belly and pinned him to the tree with the blade. She watched Jessen turn to survey the battlefield and feeling of foreboding filled Ronin's heart when she saw the haze of murderous insanity in Jessen's eyes.

"That was the first battle I ever entered, Ronin," Jesse stated from where she now stood next to Ronin on the battlefield.

Ronin blinked back tears and turned her head to look down into Jesse's blue and indigo eyes. She swallowed and asked, "Why are ye showin' me this, My Little One?"

Jesse shrugged and said, "'T'is part of what's keepin' me from comin' home."

Ronin's eyebrows furrowed and she turned to face Jesse as she asked, "What do ye mean?"

Jesse waved a hand and the scene changed to the day her father died. She gazed impassively at the images as she said coolly, "After you and Kersen left somethin' inside was dyin', that first kill contributed to it and," Jesse paused as Lord Johan's last words to Jessen filled the room and then she waved her hand again when it was over. The scene changed to a scene of her grief and she continued, "Father's death finished it."

~ Jesse curled her body into the fetal position in the center of her bed as she felt the emotions she'd been holding back crash down on her. Tears poured from her eyes as loud sobs wracked her small, muscular frame. As she cried, she cursed at the absent Ronin. "Damn you... Ronin! Damn you both fer leavin' me ta do this on my own!" ~

Ronin's eyes closed as her heart broke at Jesse's words and tears welled up. Ronin felt a small hand cup her cheek and she leaned into it the comforting warmth. She hated herself for what she'd let happen to Jessen... for what she'd done to Jessen. How can she even stand to look at me after that?

Jesse's wiped Ronin's tears away as she whispered, "It wasn't yer fault, My Heart."

Ronin choked back a sob as she opened her teary eyes to look down into Jesse's. "H-how do ye see that it wasn't my fault, Jessen? I should've fought Johan more. I might've even saved him had I been here!"

Jesse pulled Ronin's head down and leaned her forehead against hers. She held her gaze as she beseeched, "No. Don't go there, Ronin; 'tis pointless"

Ronin sighed sadly and closed her eyes again. Her eyes popped back open when she felt the gentle pressure of Jesse's lips on her own. Startled, Ronin pulled away and searched Jesse's gaze as she asked softly, "What are ye doin', Jessen?"

Jesse smiled softly and said, "Admittin' what I should've long ago, My Heart. Despite everything I've been through my love for you runs strong."

Ronin's tears started anew and she choked out, "Goddess... I love you too, so much so that it hurts!"

Jesse sighed and leaned in to kiss Ronin again. Just as her lips brushed against Ronin's the former advisor faded from her thoughts.


Ronin's eyes blinked open and she groaned. She abhorred the disjointed feeling she never failed to get from prolonged stays in the mental passages. Her limbs felt heavy and she breathed laboriously. Her body gradually relaxed with each moment that passed.

Karrig jumped from his chair at the pained noise. He moved to the bedside and stared down at Ronin in concern and asked, "Are ye all right, Ronin?"

Ronin groaned again as she recalled the exquisite feel of Jessen's soft lips and she ignored the chief of warrior's presence. God I can't wait to do that again. She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn't notice the silly grin she was giving. Or the look of amusement she was getting from her watcher.

Karrig raised an eyebrow and asked humorously, "Did she give ya a woody while ye were in there?"

Ronin glared up at Karrig and then a small smirk formed as she said haughtily, "One doesn't tell what one has or hasn't done with a Lady."

Karrig snorted and said, "She's no Lady! Or did she ferget ta tell ya that little bit of information?"

Ronin sat up and smiled softly when Jesse moaned and searched for her warmth. Her smile faded as she thought about Karrig's question and she said in irritation, "Aye, she tol' me. If he were still alive I'd smack him fer it too!"

Karrig's eyebrow rose again and he asked, "Why do ye say that?"

Ronin frowned and enunciated, "She's never wanted that title, Karrig. She always wanted to be treated as a Lady, but Johan..." A low growl escaped her throat and she said, "Let's not speak any more ill of the dead is all I'll say!"


Karrig waved the servant away and he picked up his fork. He watched Ronin do the same and scooped up a bite of rice. He chewed it and swallowed before he asked, “So what brought ya home, Ronin?”

Ronin swallowed and said, “We hadn't received news of Byron in so long I feared somethin' had happened. I left Kersen at the farmstead we're stayin' at and came here as quick as I could.”

The relief he felt was obvious and he said, “I'm glad ta hear that. With the suddenness of yer arrival I was afraid somethin' had happened ta Kersen.”

Ronin shook her head and said, “Nay, the lass is fine and she's growin' like a weed.”

Karrig grinned and said, “Our Lord will be relieved ta hear that.” His smile faded with his next thought and he fidgeted under Ronin's glare.

Ronin took a bite of the roasted hen's breast on her plate and chewed it. She continued to stare at Karrig as she took a sip of ale from her mug. She wanted to give him the chance to choose to tell her what was worrying him before she forced it out of him. She set her mug aside and leaned back in her chair as she said, “What's got ye so tense, Karrig?”

Karrig swallowed at the warning in her words and stammered, “It's just that I'm concerned about how she'll react ta yer presence.”

Ronin's eyebrow raised and she snorted. She leaned forward again and retrieved her fork as she asked curiously, “Why? She didn't seem very different than when I was last here except she's older and more mature.”

Karrig sighed and shook his head as he said, “Ronin, you yerself told me people aren't bound by their emotions in the mental passages; that someone full of hate can find peace there if they're trapped in their own mind.”

Ronin sighed and nodded. She set her fork back down and swallowed her food before she said, “That's true, but why would I need ta worry?”

Karrig closed his eyes and said sorrowfully, “I fear that she holds you responsible fer things you had no control over, Ronin. She was so hurt after you left and then when Lord Johan died she was a wounded animal, Ronin. The servants told me of the things they heard her yellin' at night in her sleep and when she would drink herself into a stupor.”

He opened his eyes and looked into hers with sympathy as he said gently, “She feels that ye abandoned her. Ye need ta realize it's very likely that gettin' close ta her again won't be easy, Ronin. She's likely ta fight ye with everything she is and then some.”

Ronin slumped back in her seat dejectedly. The pain in her heart was immense as she thought of what Jessen must have gone through. She smiled weakly at Karrig's concerned gaze and said faintly, “Thank ye fer preparin' me fer what's ahead, my friend.”


Jesse opened her eyes and slammed them shut when the glare of the morning sun shined in her eyes from the window of her bedchambers. A low moan escaped at the pain in her side and she tensed when she felt someone's stare. She forced her eyes open and turned her head to the left despite the tension in her neck. Her eyes widened when she found herself staring into twinkling dark green eyes at close range.

Jesse cleared her throat and sputtered, "Ronin? Goddess... I thought it was a dream!"

Unable to help herself, Ronin propped up on her elbow and smirked. The twinkle in her eyes grew more devious and she asked teasingly, "How do ye know yer not still dreamin'?"

Jesse felt her resentment rear its ugly head without warning and her eyes narrowed. She sneered at Ronin and growled, "I'd be beatin' the daylights outta ya if it were a dream!"

How should I handle this? Eh, Ronin gave a mental shrug, here goes…

She raised an eyebrow and retorted, "I don't want ta have ta spank ye fer disrespect just yet so don't be goin' there, lass!"

Indignant, Jesse attempted to sit up and regretted it as it sent a sharp pain through her side. A moan of distress escaped through clenched teeth. She bit her lip as Ronin helped her lay back down. Several moments passed before Jesse could breathe past the pain again.

She slapped the mattress in irritation and said, "Oh, feck! Of all the stupid… why'd I have ta do that?"

Ronin's eyebrows leapt to her hairline in surprise, and she choked out, "Such language!"

What, did she think I'd still be the feckless brat I was eight years ago? Jesse snorted softly and tensed in expectation when it jostled her ribs. Relief flooded her when it didn't send more searing pain through her torso and she said dryly, "I've said worse, and definitely heard worse."

Ronin shook her head as she sat up on the bed and asked, "Do ye need anything?"

Jesse closed her eyes as the atmosphere slipped into a more serious one. She sighed quietly and said flatly, "No. I just want ta be alone."

Ronin nodded and reluctantly stood up. She walked to the doors and hesitated with her hand on the knob. With her head bowed, Ronin asked without looking back at Jesse, "Are ye sure?"

Jesse sighed and said exasperatedly, "Yes, Ronin. I need ta be alone. I'm sure the warriors wouldn't mind ya keepin' them company."

Ronin's shoulders fell and she walked from the room. She had hoped that their interaction in the passages of Jessen's mind would open things up for them despite what Karrig had told her. Disappointed, she went in search of someone to spar with. Maybe a good fight with someone too stupid to watch for her abilities would make her feel better.


Two and a half weeks later:

Jesse's footsteps carried her down the hall as she stayed deep in thought. She had been allowed out of bed only the day before so she was still weak. She'd finally gotten the servants to leave her to herself that morning and she was taking advantage of it. She only hoped she could continue to avoid Ronin since she knew the older woman wouldn't approve of her being without an escort in her condition.

Jesse rolled her eyes as her thoughts strayed to Ronin's refusal to call her proper title. Jesse kept her head down as she wandered the castle in thought. She soon found that to be a mistake when she bumped into someone. She reeled backwards and struggled to regain her balance.

Ronin reached out and caught Jesse around the waist before she could get hurt. She kept her arms loosely about Jesse's waist once she was back on her own two feet. When blue and indigo eyes met her gaze, Ronin raised a black eyebrow and asked sternly, "Just what are ye doin', Lady Jessen?"

Jesse bit back the sharp retort that was just begging to be let out as she shrugged out of Ronin's grasp. "I'm walking the castle grounds, what does it look like I'm doin', Advisor Ronin?"

Ronin narrowed her eyes at the biting tone Jesse had used to say her title and warned, "Ye need ta learn ta keep a civil tongue in yer head, Jessen."

Jesse clenched her jaw and drew in a deep, calming breath. She blew it out in frustration and said tersely, "Try ta remember whom the Lord of Byron and whom the Advisor is when you're speakin' ta me! I care none at all fer yer disciplinin' tactics, Ronin. I'm neither yer charge nor yer wife despite my father's wishes!"

Ronin swallowed hard with anger as her nostrils flared. She stepped so close into Jesse's personal space that their bodies were all but touching and growled, "Ye don't know what yer talkin' 'bout, Lady Jessen, so I suggest ye be keepin' yer mouth shut!"

Jesse's reply was cut off by the loud clanging of the attack bell and Sarhen's nervous approach. She stepped back from Ronin and took a deep breath before she turned to him and asked, "What is it, Sarhen?"

Sarhen took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. He pointed in the direction of the main hall and said, "The Romans, it isn't as large a party as before but I thought ye would like ta be there fer this."

Jesse's gaze hardened and she took off running in the direction Sarhen had come from before anything else could be said.

Ronin shook her head in exasperation as she followed in Jesse's path, leaving a confused Sarhen behind to wonder what the tension between Lord Jesse and Advisor Ronin was all about.


Jesse pulled her sword from its customary place in the scabbard on her back as she charged into the foray. Her sword connected with an enemy's blade but she couldn't find pleasure in the feelings racing through her for once. Still mentally wrapped up in the argument that had taken place just moments ago, Jesse forgot to guard her back for the first time in years. Stupid, know-it-all, bullying PIG!

Ronin burst through a group of startled fighters and paused for just a moment to get Jesse back in her line of vision. Her teeth bared in a snarl when she spotted a rather dim-witted Roman soldier attempting to sneak up on Jesse's un-guarded back. Ronin pulled her long sword from the scabbard at her side and she twirled it in a figure eight as she ran at the soldier. She let out a loud yell as her sword made contact with his, "FOR BYRON!"

At Ronin's battle cry, Jesse turned around just in time to see Ronin use her foot to shove the soldier from the end of her sword. Jesse caught Ronin's gaze for a split second, seeing the reassurance in Ronin's dark green eyes that Ronin would have her back. Jesse then returned her attention to the on-coming soldiers. She held her sword ready in front of her with both hands wrapped around the hilt.

Ronin spun around to place herself back to back with Jesse and they continued to fight this way, protecting each other as they worked their way through the soldiers until the grounds were littered with the corpses of their enemies.


The irises of Ronin's eyes were nearly black with rage as she stormed through the castle hallways. She'd lost sight of Jesse sometime during the funeral pyre and hadn't heard a word of Jesse's whereabouts until just moments before when she'd overheard a warrior chortling about Jesse's drunken jokes.

Most of the occupants of Byron castle's dining room quieted immediately upon Ronin's entrance. Her anger was so palpable that everyone could feel it pulsing from her. All but one annoyingly loud blonde Lord were watching her move toward the table where said Lord sat. Ronin paused at Jesse's side and her voice came out as a low growl heard easily in the quiet room, "Jessen, unless ye wish fer yer hide ta be warn out in front of all of yer warriors and the wenches present here, I recommend ye double march toward yer bedchambers now!"

Jesse's hazy eyes trailed over Ronin's form until she was looking up at Ronin's face. Her head was tilted back comically as she slurred petulantly, "I'll not do s-such a thing! I'm the Lord here, not you so I don't have ta!"

Ronin's expression darkened and she reached out to wrap her large hands around Jesse's biceps. A sharp tug jerked Jesse from the chair she sat in and Ronin picked Jesse up by the waist and tossed her over a broad shoulder before the intoxicated Lord could react. Ronin turned and her long legs ate up the distance to the dining room doors. She ignored the pounding of Jesse's fists on her back as her quick strides took them toward the stairs.


Sarhen turned worried eyes toward Karrig and asked, "Father, shouldn't we do somethin'? I mean... aren't we supposed ta protect our Lord?"

Karrig chuckled dryly at Sarhen's innocence and said in amusement, "Believe me, my son, ye don't wish ta get involved. Jesse's about ta get what she's had comin' fer years!"

Sarhen's eyebrows furrowed over his nose in confusion and asked, "What's she done that she'd be in such trouble and what gives Advisor Ronin the right ta punish our Lord for anything?"

Karrig snorted, the sip of beer he had just taken nearly exiting his nose and sputtered, "Oh, Goddess help ye... Ronin's Jesse's intended!"

Sarhen blinked in confusion and asked, "I didn't know that', why haven't they been joined yet?"

Karrig sighed and shook his head at the badly confused Sarhen as he said, "Ronin's been away protectin' Jesse's younger sister, Kersen. I do believe though, that our Lord Jesse's about ta be claimed!"


Ronin dropped Jesse down onto Jesse's bed and growled, "Ye better do as I say, Jessen. Anything else will only make this that much worse on ya!"

Suddenly stone cold sober, Jesse gazed up at Ronin in fear. She swallowed audibly and whimpered, "Please... Don't do it, Ronin. I'll do whatever ye say, just don't-"

Ronin growled again, cutting off whatever Jesse had been preparing to say, "Jest shut yer mouth and remove yer clothin', Jessen!"

Jesse dropped her head forward in resignation and lay back on the bed. She lifted her hips and untied the leather laces to her britches and then pushed the calfskin britches down to her thighs. Jesse felt Ronin's hands untie the laces to her boots and moved her hands from the pants that were now at her thighs to the laces of her billowing white shirt.

Ronin sneered as she noticed Jesse wore nothing under her britches and her own center clenched in desire. No! You'll not be doin' that yet, Roni. This isn't about pleasure; it's about her not followin' the rules! Ronin admonished herself and inwardly sighed in disappointment. She pulled Jesse's boots off and dropped them to the floor and then she tugged Jesse's pants off.

Jesse pulled the shirt from her shoulders and dropped it to the floor with trembling hands. She heard the rasp of Ronin's thick leather belt sliding from her belt loops and closed her eyes in fear and anticipation of what would come next. Her heart raced and her mouth went dry as all the fluid in her body went south at the thought of Ronin's strength.

Ronin looked down at the leather belt as she doubled it over. Jesse wouldn't be able to handle single yet after so long of not receiving it. She moved her gaze to Jesse's tanned trembling body and spoke huskily, "Move ta the end of the bed and lean on yer elbows and knees, lass."

Jesse squeezed her eyes closed tighter in shame as she complied, the wetness on her thighs increasing with the guttural tone of Ronin's voice. She barely had time to get settled before she heard the harsh sound of leather flying through air and felt the sharp contact of the belt on her ass. She bit her lip to keep from crying out at the pain.

*Crack... Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack…*

Ronin paused to get a better grip on the belt as the last hit had landed too close to the small of Jesse's back. Then, Ronin let the next volley of whipping start.

*Crack... Crack... Crack…*

Jesse's body jerked forward with the heavy impact of the belt. Her ass cheeks burned with the fire of the whippings, sending arcs of sensation to Jesse's center. Jesse could feel her juices pouring from her cunt to coat her thighs. Scalding tears of pain and shame leaked from beneath Jesse's closed eyelids as she moved back into position before Ronin could reprimand her.

"Good girl," Ronin purred darkly, her eyes gazing in appreciation at the wetness coating Jesse's inner thighs and the bright red welts forming on the creamy-white skin of Jesse's buttocks.

*Crack... Crack… Crack… Crack... Crack... Crack... Crack…*

Jesse sobbed and began pleading, begging for the whipping to stop. Her words came out disjointed over the renewed whipping.

*Crack…* "Please... I'll-"

*Crack…* "No, Ronin! Please, stop! I'll do-"

*Crack…* "I'll do anything! Just, please stop-"

*Crack... Crack…* Jesse's pleading soon stopped, to be replaced by resigned tears and sobbing.

Ronin dropped the belt to the floor when Jesse's resignation became apparent and crawled onto the bed, her arms wrapping around Jesse's waist. She moved them to the head of the bed and they settled on their sides. She spooned tightly against Jesse as she comforted her.

It was two candle marks later when Jesse's sobs finally calmed to soft hiccups and her tears slowed to a stop. Ronin released Jesse from her arms and rolled over to sit up and then reached for the water urn on the side table. She took a glass from the table and poured Jesse a drink of water. Once the urn was back on the table, Ronin helped Jesse sit up and get settled against her chest to help her drink.

Jesse chugged the water to calm her hiccups and then relaxed into Ronin's embrace as Ronin returned the glass. Ronin settled against the headboard of the bed allowed a comfortable silence to surround them for several minutes before she spoke, "Why did ye run off like that, Jessen?"

Jesse sighed and dropped her head back against Ronin's broad shoulder before replying. "I haven't wanted ta run inta ye this week, Ronin. I left the field as soon as the hymnal was o'er. I did'na want ta speak ta you 'cause I don't want ta 'ave this conversation."

Ronin tightened her hold on Jesse to keep her from being able to get away. She sighed and said, "We do need ta talk, Jessen. Please, you've never been one ta run from confrontation so why start now?"

Jesse closed her eyes in resignation and sighed. She reopened her eyes and asked weakly, "Where's Kersen?"

Ronin smiled softly and said, "She's with a family o' farmers about a week's hard ride away. I knew she'd be safe there and I figured I needed to see this situation through before I brought 'er home." Ronin paused before she quietly asked, "Do ye have anyone special in yer life?"

Jesse attempted to move out of Ronin's embrace but the strong arms around her waist prevented any escape. Jesse growled in irritation, "What's it matter ta ya? It's not as if we're best friends now, Ronin!"

Ronin gripped Jesse's jaw as she pressed her lips to Jesse's ear, she firmly replied, "I love ye, Jessen. If I'm not the one ye want, then I want ta know who does hold yer attention."

Jesse stifled a sob and spat, "I've no one, Ronin! I haven't the ability ta love!"

Ronin's eyes filled with tears at the desolate tone Jesse's voice had taken. She groaned and said, "Jessen, you can love! I know you, yer still the same lass I used ta take over me lap when ye'd misbehave."

Jesse shook her head in denial, her heart felt heavy with loss as she spoke, "Ronin, ye haven't been here ta see what I've been through and done. I'm not the foolish child ye once knew."

Ronin kissed Jesse's cheek and whispered urgently, "I'll make things better, Jessen; I promise you this. Please try to let me."

Jesse's sobs renewed as she choked out, "Please give up, Ronin. I couldn't take the disappointment in yer eyes when ye see that I'm hopeless."

Ronin caressed Jesse's jaw as she kissed away Jesse's tears. She softly pressed her lips to Jesse's and whispered, "I'll not be givin' up on ya, My Little One. I'll still be here when all is said and done."


Karrig looked up from the maps he had spread across the table when he heard footsteps coming toward the war room. When Ronin poked her head into the room, Karrig smiled and said, "Hey. How's Jesse this mornin'?"

Ronin entered the room and dropped into a chair next to where Karrig stood. She shook her head and replied, "What the bloody Hell happened ta her, Karrig?"

Karrig sighed sadly and said, "Ronin, she was but a child when she lost her entire family in the span of a year and a half. She lost her blood innocence and wouldn't let anyone help her through it. Then she was expected ta lead her people into battles where she has ta watch friends and family die. What would ye expect?"

Ronin closed her eyes as she remembered the scenes of battle that had played through Jesse's mind. "This war is slowly killing her inside, isn't it?"

Karrig shook his head and laid his large hand on Ronin's broad shoulder. When Ronin looked up at him, Karrig said in a strained voice, "It all ready has, Ronin."

Ronin shoved him backwards and jumped from her chair. She removed her dagger from her belt and stabbed it into the tabletop as she yelled, "NO! I'LL NOT ACCEPT THAT!" Her voice echoed in the wall as the hilt of her dagger vibrated from the force.

Ronin's voice came out choked with tears as she continued quietly, "I love her too much ta let this continue."

Karrig patted Ronin on her tense back and replied sincerely, "Then I hope the Great Mother will help ye Ronin."

Ronin smiled sadly and her gaze fell upon the maps lying across the table, her eyebrows furrowed and she asked, "What's this?"

Karrig gestured for Ronin to take a closer look as he said, "These are maps of the terrain between here and Rome. I'm tryin' ta figure a way ta maybe take control of this war. All of our attempts have been averted so far and I can't think of anythin' else."

Ronin looked through the maps, her fingers tracing the area between the two countries. "Have ye tried ta a full force attack instead of stayin' on defense?"

Karrig shrugged and said, "We haven't really had the time. Just when we start planning anything another attack takes place and we end up too busy mountin' a defense."

Ronin's eyes narrowed as she thought; she knew there had to be a way. She asked slowly, "How many warriors do ye have under yer command right now?"

Karrig chuckled at Ronin's expression of fierce concentration and said, "35,000; if ye include the gull-bait, that is."

Ronin gave a wicked smile as the beginnings of a plan filled her thoughts and asked, "How many men and women live in the village right now?"

Karrig's eyebrows furrowed as he thought, having left the villagers to the provisions provider. He frowned and said, "I think we have about... a million villagers. Why do ye ask?"

Ronin raised an eyebrow and asked skeptically, "Has Jessen done anythin' ta encouraged the women ta volunteer fer the military?"

Karrig snorted and asked rhetorically, "When would she have time? Between havin' ta fight, havin' ta stop the villagers from fightin' with each other, tryin' to uphold the law and tryin' ta keep order amongst the clans, I'm surprised she even has time ta sleep!"

Ronin frowned and asked, "Doesn't have an advisor?"

Karrig shook his head and said, "Nay, she hasn't even bothered ta look fer one. I've been actin' as an unofficial advisor since you left."

Ronin smirked and said decisively, "She does now. I've missed this and she has no choice as there's a war goin' on. I want ye ta get the reports from Provisions, then go and get the reports from the clans. We'll make an official announcement at noon that I'm takin' back the position of royal advisor officially. I'll get Jessen in here and we'll need the leaders of the clans and our clan as well."

Karrig smiled broadly as he quickly left the room to carry out Ronin's orders. It felt good to have Ronin back in the castle. He hadn't only missed her brilliant mind and her friendship, he'd missed the order and direction that she brought to the castle.


Jesse sat in the throne room, her chin on her fist as she listened to yet another complaint from the villagers. With a sigh, Jesse looked up at the man who was complaining about a horse thief and asked exasperatedly, "Who do ye suspect, Mardin? I can't help ya if ye don't tell me!"

Mardin, the village horse trainer looked at her in confusion and spoke as if he thought she were daft, "I don't know, my lord. I've only realized that the horse was missin' this morn!"

Jesse's eyes narrowed at the tone Mardin had taken with her and she barked, "Guards, get this fool out of my castle before I decide ta take his hide in place of the horse!" After the guards had done as she ordered, Jesse turned her attention to the next person. Her smile broadened at the sight of Lorin, the tavern owner and she asked, "How can I help ya, Lorin?"

Lorin grinned, her gray eyes twinkling in appreciation at the sight of the gorgeous Lord Jesse. She cleared her throat and said, "M'Lord, I just wish to note a grievance I have with the new crier."

Jesse cocked her head to the side, curious despite herself. She nodded faintly and slowly, "Go on, please."

Lorin sighed and said "He's been comin' inta my tavern and refusin' ta pay. He calls my cook's food 'slop' and treats the wenches as if they're simple whores."

Jesse looked over at the crier and glared. She'd only met Drakon once when he came to her about settling in the village permanently and he'd gotten on her nerves even then. Her upper lip curled in disgust and she asked, "What say ye about these charges, crier?"

Drakon shook his head in denial, the words coming out of his mouth obvious lies, "I don't know what she be talkin' about, I haven't even stepped foot in her tavern!"

Jesse allowed the cries of objection from the other villagers to go on for several minutes. A feral smile formed as she stared at Drakon; the glint in her eyes predatory. The villagers who'd seen her in action flinched and the soldiers glanced away when they saw the expression. She'd been known to be vicious in punishment and most didn't care to see it at a normal time much less this early in the morning.

Ronin entered the throne room and her gaze landed on Jesse as she paused in the doorway. She shook her head at the Lord's expression, having seen it enough to know that Jesse was about to tear into someone. Dear Goddess, what's gotten her riled now? As she watched, Jesse stood and walked from the dais to stop in front of a man Ronin didn't recognize.

Drakon knelt and bowed his head as Jesse approached him, wincing as Jesse wrapped her hand in his long hair and gave a sharp tug to force him to look up at her. He felt a chill run up his spine as he looked at her and he stammered, "I-I-"

Jesse tightened her grip to shut him up as she glared down at him. She sneered and barked, "I don't wish ta hear yer lies and if ye have half a brain in yer head you'll shut yer mouth now!"

Jesse waited a few seconds to be sure that he'd heard her message loud and clear. She patted his cheek hard and said, "Good.” Her voice hardened and she said, “I'll tell ye once and if ye wish ta keep yerself intact you'll listen ta me."

Drakon swallowed painfully, the forced arch of his neck making it difficult as he forced out, "Yes, M'Lord?"

Jesse's smile chilled as she spoke in a low growl, "I don't tolerate disrespect toward women no matter their role in my village. I don't care fer arrogant fools so I'd suggest ye heed my warnin'! Keep yer foul thoughts and hands ta yerself or ye'll find yerself being relieved of yer cock! Do ye get my meanin'?"

Drakon nodded, and Jesse continued, "For this offense, ye'll receive ten lashes of the whip. I view yer refusin' ta pay Lorin as thievery."

Ronin grimaced in sympathy as Jesse slapped the crier across the face, the force of it knocking him over onto the floor. The sound of the skin on skin contact echoed off the stone walls. Clearing her throat, Ronin caught Jesse's attention and felt her nipples harden painfully at the fire burning in Jesse's gaze when she glanced up at the interruption. Ignoring the low hum of arousal, Ronin quietly said, "We need ya in the war room, M'Lord."

Jesse took a deep breath and shook off the feelings the adrenaline had sent through her as she nodded and said, "If ye'll wait fer me, I'll finish up here."

Lorin watched the interaction between Jesse and Ronin and sighed with disappointment. I guess Lord Jesse has all ready chosen her mate. Ah, well.

Jesse returned to her seat and spoke to the villagers still remaining, "Court is dismissed. If ye have further complaints, come back on the next scheduled hearing day." She turned to the warrior standing next to the throne as the villagers left the throne room and said, "I want Drakon whipped in the town square. Don't go about it lightly; I want him ta really feel his mistake."

The warrior nodded his head silently and went toward the still prone crier. He picked Drakon up and slung him over his shoulder without a word and left the throne room to follow his Lord's orders.

Jesse smiled with grim satisfaction as she stood and walked over to Ronin. She raised a dark golden-blonde eyebrow at the expression on Ronin's face and asked in amusement, "What? Did you believe I didn't have the balls ta do what it takes to be lord of Byron?"

Ronin shook her head with a dry chuckle as she followed Jesse out of the throne room and said, "I'll not be makin' that mistake again, Lord Jesse."

Jesse's face revealed her surprise at Ronin's use of her title and she said, "Please, don't address me that way, Ronin. It doesn't sound right when you say it."

Ronin smiled softly and murmured, "Whatever ye say, Lady Jessen."

Jesse turned to glare at Ronin and said, "I think ye know what I meant, Ronin."

Ronin chuckled and said, "Yes I do, but I'm allowed ta do as I wish."

Jesse snorted and asked, "What gave ye that idea, oh wise one?"

Ronin smirked as she reached out and delivered a sharp smack to her firm round ass. When Jesse yelped and turned to glare at her, Ronin raised a black eyebrow and replied, "I'll do as I wish because ye wouldn't have it any other way and we both know it."

Jesse rolled her eyes in mock annoyance and rubbed at her stinging butt as she turned to continue down the long hallway toward the war room. She muttered softly, "I'll not be agreein' with that any time soon."

Ronin opened the heavy wooden door to the war room and held it open for Jesse as she replied, "Unless ye want more of what ye got last night, ye better watch yer attitude, My Little One."

Jesse stifled her reply as she entered the room, knowing that anything else she could say would have her 'ass-up' in no time. Her eyebrows rose as she noticed the leaders of the other clans of Byron and her own clan standing in the room along with the provision providers, her Chief of Warriors and his second in command. She glanced back at Ronin and asked, "What was it that ye needed?"

Ronin took Jesse by the elbow and guided her to the chair at the end of the long table. She pulled the chair out for her and then took her own position at the seat to the right of Jesse as she said, “We need to have a meeting to discuss possible plans.”

Jesse took note of the position Ronin took and smirked as she asked, "Do ye fancy yerself my advisor, Ronin?"

Ronin replied in all seriousness, "We have no other choice at the moment, Jessen, as you've yet ta choose one of yer own."

Jesse nodded her acceptance and gestured for Ronin to make her point as she settled back in her chair. She cleared her throat and said, "Please, tell me what it is that ye've planned."

Ronin waited for the others to take there seats and she nodded at Karrig who sat to Jesse's left. She smiled and said, “You can start if you'd like, Karrig.”

Karrig smiled in thanks and spoke, "Ronin and I were speakin' a bit earlier and she's come up with an idea fer what we could do ta gain control of the war. We've been on the defense this entire time and I'm sure we all agree that it is past time for us ta be doin' somethin' other than waitin' fer their next move."

Murmurs of agreement rose from the others around the table and Jesse smiled grimly as she turned to look at Ronin. She raised an eyebrow and asked, "What did ye have in mind, Ronin?"

Ronin smirked and said, "I thought that we should just form an attack plan but Karrig says we don't have enough warriors. I believe t'is time fer us to give the women the choice ta join our military. If we do this, it should give us more than a fightin' chance."

Danten, a leader of one of the other clans, spoke up, "Forgive me, my lord; but I don't think we should do this. Women have no place on the battlefield!"

Jesse stood up angrily, and reached across the table to grab Danten by his throat. She growled low in her throat as she tightened her grip and spat out, "Ye seem ta have fergotten three very important things, Danten. Both my advisor and meself are women, and yer wife's a very powerful woman 'erself!"

Danten choked out against the pressure around his throat, "I'm... s-sorry... m-M'Lord!"

Jesse glared into his pain-filled eyes, only releasing him when Ronin pulled her away from him bodily. Ronin pulled Jesse's back flush against her chest and whispered hotly into her ear, "Calm down, Jessen!"

Jesse struggled, trying to get out of Ronin's grasp as she spat, "Let me go, Advisor!"

Ronin increased her hold around Jesse's waist and tightened her grip on Jesse's wrists and then growled into Jesse's ear, "I'll keep ya here as long as I wish. Startin' a war between the clans isn't the brightest idea you've had as of yet!"

Jesse forced herself to relax and Ronin reluctantly released her. She dropped into her chair and grumbled, "Get on with it. I've better things ta be doin' than sittin' 'round here!"

Ronin nodded though her eyes were still narrowed at Jesse as she reclaimed her seat and said, "As I was sayin', we need ta give the women the choice. We'll need all the help we can get."

Jesse nodded impatiently and said, "I should've done this long ago but I've been too busy. We'll send the warriors out to gather everyone together in the square. I'll announce Ronin's temporary return as advisor and I'll announce that the women who want ta become warriors should report ta Karrig or Sarhen. Any one have anything else ta say?"

Danten wisely kept his mouth shut, as did everyone else as Jesse's incensed gaze swept over the room's occupants. She smirked and barked, "Good! Now everyone is dismissed, except for my clan and the war council." Jesse stopped one of the warriors before he could leave to escort the clan members from the castle and said, "Have the warriors gather the villagers." The warrior nodded and continued out the door.

Jesse sat quietly as the ones who were dismissed filed out of the room and then she looked around at those who remained. When her eyes landed on her Uncle Lassig, Jesse asked, "What say ye, Uncle?"

Lassig's gray-blue eyes gazed into Jesse's blue and indigo as he replied, "Yer father would be proud, M'Lord. I don't believe anyone could've done any better."

Jesse's Aunt Terryann nodded in agreement. "I'm sure I speak fer all of us when I say that this is a good move. It's about time we're doing somethin' ta protect what's ours!"

Loud words of agreement echoed from the other two hundred present. Jesse smiled shrewdly as she shrugged and said, "I only wish I could have done this before now but I've had me head up me arse fer entirely too long."

Ronin snorted but bit back a sarcastic comment and raised an eyebrow as she stood. She cleared her throat and asked, "Shall we move toward the square, the villagers should be there by the time we get there?"

Jesse nodded and everyone stood. She sighed as she acknowledged to herself that she felt a weight lift off her shoulders thanks to Ronin.


Three days later:

Jesse gazed out at the women filling the training grounds, a satisfied smile on her lips. She hadn't expected quite as many women to be so enthusiastic about the open invitation. She looked up at the sound of footsteps on the stone walkway, shading her eyes to see who was approaching. Her smile broadened at the sight of a frazzled Ronin. "What's wrong, Advisor?"

Ronin gestured toward the field where a tall blonde girl stood with her arms crossed in annoyance. Her lip twitched slightly at the glint of amusement in Jesse's eyes and she growled, "She refuses ta take my directions! I'd take 'er over me lap, but she's one of yer clan so it's up ta you!"

Jesse smiled as she recognized her cousin Marcelle's daughter, Roslynn. "Aye, Rossi. She's a stubborn one."

A sardonic smile formed on Ronin's lips, as she thought of Rossi's resemblance to Jesse. "Ya don't say. What am I supposed ta do with her?"

Jesse pulled her sword from her scabbard and started to walk toward where Rossi still stood with a pout on her lips. Jesse said over her shoulder to Ronin, "I'll take care o' her. You go take on one of the others."

Ronin sighed and shook her head. Then with a smirk, she followed Jesse. I have got ta see this.

Jesse approached Rossi and ordered, "Rossi, I'll not tell ye again after this; follow orders or ye'll be over her lap 'fore ye know it!"

Rossi rolled her eyes and muttered, "I did'na do nothin'!"

Jesse rolled her eyes and stared up at Rossi, thinking not for the first time, What made Randolph think it a good idea ta have a child with a member of the Byron panther clan? Jesse glared at the nineteen year old as she spoke through gritted teeth, "Remember whom yer speakin' ta, Rossi; I'll not tolerate yer disrespect." Jesse pointed to the long sword Rossi had tossed to the ground. "Now pick it up and do as ye were told! I know ye know how ta use it, I'm the one that taught ya!"

Ronin watched the battle of wills between Jesse and Rossi with a smirk; the two women were identical yet opposite in both physical form and attitude. When Rossi gave in to Jesse and picked up the sword to train, Ronin watched the ensuing sword-fight with amazement as she found that Rossi was as good with the long sword as Jesse was with the broadsword.

Jesse smiled with satisfaction when she glanced at Ronin out of the corner of her eyes; she knew that Ronin had figured Rossi to be a novice. Returning her attention to Rossi, Jesse asked, "So what was yer problem with Advisor Ronin?"

Rossi grunted at the impact of Jesse's sword against her own and replied, "She's a bossy, over-grown, control freak."

Jesse winked at Rossi with her indigo colored left eye. "Aye, she is. Still, she's an excellent warrior; ye really should listen ta her. If ye plan ta be a warrior in my army, then ye need ta learn ta take orders from those types. Karrig's not exactly a walk in the park either and he wouldn't have hesitated ta bust yer arse fer the disrespect ye just showed Ronin. The only reason Ronin did so, was the love she 'as fer me; ye do realize that, right?"

Rossi rolled her eyes and thrust her sword at the opening Jesse had left at her side, smirking when Jesse only just managed to block the strike. "Aye, I know; but it's so much fun to get her riled up."

Jesse snorted as she got off the ground where she'd landed when she'd leapt out of the way of Rossi's sword. "I can't say too much, as I do the same thing. The difference is I'm Lord of Byron and I can do as I wish, as long as she's not around anyway. If you wish ta be in our army, yer goin' ta 'ave ta be more serious about it."

Rossi sighed and stabbed her sword into the ground, holding her hands up in a gesture of surrender. "Okay, M'Lord. I'll try ta take direction better; I really do want ta do this."

Jesse smiled up at Rossi and re-sheathed her sword. "I know ye will. Yer as determined as I was when I'd get my teeth inta somethin'." Jesse looked up into Rossi's eyes, noticing not for the first time the strangeness of how alike yet different she and Rossi were. Where Jesse's left eye was indigo and her right eye a crystal blue; Rossi's was the opposite. Rossi's hair was still long, whereas Jesse had cut hers off short just after the war started. Then there was also the five-inch difference in height.

Rossi gestured with her head in Ronin's direction. "Have ye done anythin' ta stake yer claim to her yet?"

Jesse raised an eyebrow at Rossi, seeing the interest in Rossi's eyes. "Nay, I don't think I 'ave it in me ta love, dear cousin."

Rossi shook her head in exasperation and asked, "Why the Hades not? She's a hot one, Jessen. I think ye should go fer it before some other woman claims 'er!"

Jesse smirked and replied, "Who, you? Go ahead."

Rossi laughed. "As if I would do that; there's only one thing I'm interested in when it comes ta women!"

Jesse grinned rakishly. "I'm sure she could use an occasional bed warmer, Rossi."

Rossi wiggled her eyebrows with a sly grin. "In that case, I do believe I shall!"

Jesse smiled despite the pang of jealousy she felt. "Go ahead; I've no claim on her."


Ronin looked up from her dinner as a shadow fell over the table, a warm smile forming at the sight of Rossi. "Hello, Rossi. Would ye care ta join me?"

Rossi smiled seductively and sat in the seat across from Ronin. "Thank you, Advisor Ronin. I'm sorry for my actions this afternoon, sometimes I can't take orders very well. It's somethin' that I've been tryin' ta change."

Ronin raised a dark eyebrow at the heat coming from Rossi and inwardly laughed, My Goddess, another bold one! A small grin edged at the corner of her mouth. "It's quite all right, Rossi. I understand."

Rossi leaned an elbow on the table and her long blonde hair fell over one half of her face as she spoke softly. "I'm glad that yer not angry, as I was hoping that we might could go some place a bit more private."

Should I? Ronin's eyes narrowed and her nostrils quivered as she took in a deep breath, the scent of Rossi's arousal all ready strong enough for Ronin to smell. Ronin stood and gestured for Rossi to walk ahead of her.

Neither noticed Jesse sitting at a table near the one they had just vacated as they left. Jesse closed her eyes, damning herself for her fear of losing someone. She dropped her fork onto her plate and stood, tossing a couple of gold coins onto the table before leaving the dining room to go to her chambers. On the way, she stopped a servant to ask. "Could ye bring me a couple o' bottles of the Spanish liquid fire we bought from that Spaniard durin' the last shipment of provisions?"

The servant nodded and hurried off to do as Jesse asked. Jesse continued to her chambers, only stopping when the servant from before approached with the requested alcohol. Jesse took the small glass bottles from the servant and entered her chambers without a word. She closed the doors behind her, inwardly thanking Karrig for having the doors fixed after Ronin's return.

Jesse then lay on her bed and proceeded to drink both bottles of the alcohol. She hadn't really felt much in the way of emotions for a long time, but now Ronin had broken down her defenses and Jesse could feel the heartbreak of knowing Ronin was with another. It had always bothered Jesse when she knew Ronin was sleeping with the wenches when they were younger, but Jesse had ignored that as she had a lot of the emotions Ronin brought on.

Jesse hadn't been with anyone, and she hardly ever thought about it until Ronin came back. Unlike when Jesse had been younger, Jesse now understood what the whirling sensations in her lower belly and the wetness between her thighs were. She knew what arousal was, having heard enough from her warriors to at least get the idea.

Even though she'd encouraged Rossi to go after Ronin, Jesse couldn't help the jealousy she felt at her cousin's ability to be with Ronin without fear. She hated that Rossi could do things with Ronin that Jesse wanted to understand. Jesse was afraid that she would lose Ronin again if she re-opened her heart to Ronin, which stopped her from asking Ronin to teach her the things that Jesse could only imagine were happening between Ronin and Rossi.


Ronin growled out her release as she thrust her cunt against Rossi's muscular thigh once more, then she collapsed limply on top of Rossi. A few seconds later, Ronin's sharp teeth nipped at the tender skin of Rossi's neck when Rossi flexed her muscles against Ronin's still throbbing center.

Rossi chuckled and sighed. "Goddess, I think I could have a Hades of a time with you."

Ronin rolled her naked body off of Rossi and smirked. "I'm glad ye enjoyed it as much as I did."

Rossi sat up and looked down at Ronin, then asked with a slight smile, "Ye were thinkin' of Jessen weren't ye?"

Ronin sat up and looked down at the long fingers of her hands as she spoke. "It doesn't bother you, does it? I don't wish ta hurt ye, but I love Jessen." She then whispered painfully, "Jessen doesn't want me, though."

Rossi reached a hand up and cupped Ronin's cheek, her blue and indigo eyes burning into Ronin's with a fierce intensity. "I don't mind, Ronin. I just wanted a bit o' fun, and ye looked like ye might be that." Rossi considered for a moment and then said, "Jessen does love ye, but she's afraid."

Ronin's eyebrows furrowed. "If ye think Jessen loves me, then why would ye want ta sleep with me?"

Rossi sighed and shook her head. "Jessen knows that I'm just 'avin' fun, that I'm not lookin' fer love. She knew that I 'ad no intentions of takin' ye from her, and she knows that even if I did, ye love her more than anythin'."

Ronin shrugged and lay back down on her back. "What is she afraid of?"

Rossi lay down and rubbed her hand in comforting circles on Ronin's sweat-slicked, toned abdomen as she replied, "She doesn't wanna lose ye again, and she's afraid she will if she opens her heart ta you. If I were you, I'd wait 'til after the war's over ta prove ta her that ye'll be here fer her."

Ronin nodded but didn't say anything as she stared up at the high, vaulted ceiling above. Rossi trailed her fingers up Ronin's abdomen and chest, stopping to trace her fingers around the silver hoop piercing in Ronin's right nipple.

Ronin growled low in her throat, turning over to force Rossi onto her back and leaning over her. Her dark green eyes, bright with arousal, gazed down into Rossi's eyes. "Haven't had enough, Rossi?"

Rossi smirked and relaxed into the bed, spreading her legs to make room for Ronin as Ronin positioned herself between Rossi's thighs. "I'll let ye know when I've 'ad enough, Advisor Ronin."

Ronin sneered as she pinned Rossi's hands above their heads, lowering her head to take Rossi's lips in a bruising kiss.


Jesse held her sword point to the panting warrior's throat where he lay sprawled in the wet grass on the training grounds. "Had enough, Sarhen?"

Sarhen gulped, biting his lip as his Adam's apple scraped against the sharp tip of Jesse's sword. "Yes, Lord Jesse."

Jesse drew her sword back and reached down with her left hand to help Sarhen up off of the ground, a grim smile of satisfaction planted on her lips. "Tell the next in line ta try."

Sarhen nodded and turned with wide eyes to jog across the field to where the other warriors stood waiting for their turn. Jesse had apparently awoken this morning in a wicked mood, because she'd entered the warriors' barracks before dawn and demanded they all gather on the training field despite the harsh rains; which was where most of them still were though it was past lunchtime. Drenched, hungry, and tired from the lack of sleep and the harsh demands placed upon their bodies by their lord.

Ronin walked quickly toward Sarhen, her brow furrowed in confusion. She'd been walking toward the stables when she'd seen four different sets of warriors pass by with various injuries. Wishing to know what was going on, she'd set out for the training grounds where she found almost all of the warriors and Jesse; an angry looking Jesse at that. She grabbed Sarhen's elbow before he could pass her. "What the bloody Hell is goin' on, Sarhen!"

Sarhen gestured with his head in Jesse's direction, thankful that she had her back turned to them at the moment. "She's like a demon this morn, Advisor. She came into the barracks earlier and told us all ta get to the fields immediately. She's sent at least thirty of us ta the healers, Father included!"

Ronin's jaw set in determination and she said, "I want ye ta get all of 'em to quietly leave. I'll take care of her."

Sarhen didn't look back as he hurried to obey, hoping that this meant Lord Jesse would leave them be for the day.

Ronin turned and walked toward Jesse, pulling her sword from the scabbard at her side. She approached and raised her sword, bringing it down toward Jesse's head. She smirked when Jesse's sword came up to block the movement as Jesse turned to face her. "Good morn, my love; what happens ta be the problem?"

Jesse's eyes narrowed and she growled as she thrust her sword against Ronin's. "Don't call me that!"

Ronin raised an eyebrow as the impact of Jesse's sword with her own forced her to back up. "Why shouldn't I? I do, ya know. I only wish that you would return that love."

Jesse snorted; her face a picture of fierce concentration as she forced Ronin to back up again. "If ye loved me, ye wouldn't 'ave bedded that tart of a cousin of mine!" Jesse bit her lip in frustration and embarrassment and backed off, having not meant to say that.

Ronin re-sheathed her sword and looked at Jesse with something akin to astonishment on her face. "What the bloody Hell do ya expect me ta do, Jessen? I have wants and needs, am I supposed ta ignore it like you do? Not everyone can do that, ya know!"

Jesse turned her back to Ronin and looked out at the forest of trees surrounding them. "Ferget I said anythin', Ronin; please?"

Ronin closed the distance between them and placed her large hands on Jesse's shoulders. "I'm tryin' ta respect yer wishes, Jessen. I know ye don't want me, so what I am I to do? I'll never get over you, but I have needs that ye don't want ta handle. What more do ye want from me?"

Jesse's head dropped forward and she pulled away from Ronin. "Nothin', Ronin; I'm sorry ta have made ye feel as if ye weren't supposed ta do what ye need ta."

Ronin frowned and started to speak, but Jesse walked off before the words could come. Ronin stared after Jesse, confusion and hurt clouding her mind.


A month later:

Ronin nodded to Karrig as she walked back into the castle. They were ready for the trip toward the Roman army's camp a day's ride away. They had meticulously planned the attack, yet were prepared for a few other things that could happen. The count of warriors under Karrig's command had upped to sixty thousand with the women whom had been approved for combat. They would leave fifteen thousand behind to protect Byron.

Ronin approached Jesse's chambers with trepidation, as they hadn't really spoken unless necessary over the past month. Whenever they were around each other, both were edgy and uncomfortable. Ronin knocked on the wooden door, rolling her eyes as she heard Jesse's barked command of "enter".

Ronin entered the room and nodded to Jesse. "We're ready, everyone is saddled up and Karrig has our horses ready and waiting."

Jesse nodded and sheathed her sword, and then she walked toward the door and exited her chambers behind Ronin. Jesse and Ronin were both uncomfortably silent as they left the castle, neither wanting to bring up anything due to the hurt, confusion and embarrassment both had felt since the confrontation on the training field.

Karrig shook his head in exasperation when his gaze landed on them as they approached. He was angry at their childish behavior over the past month. He didn't understand what had happened as neither would tell, but he knew that whatever it was could be solved if they weren't so bull-headed.

There was an almost solemn air about them all as Ronin and Jesse mounted their war-horses and they started on their journey. They could all only hope that things would go well.


Jesse looked up from her dinner at the sound of the tent flap being moved aside. Her expression turned grim at the serious looks on Ronin and Karrig's faces. "What's wrong?"

Ronin shook her head. "Nothin', we're just a little anxious fer this ta happen."

Jesse nodded and gestured toward the other plates that she'd had the servant set out. "Eat, please. I was hopin' that the two of ye would join me."

Both settled in to eat, and they were quiet for a few minutes; the only sounds in the tent were their forks and knives scraping against their plates, the distant sounds of the warriors eating outside around the fires, and the nighttime creatures in the forest. Karrig dropped his fork on his plate and sighed, speaking in an annoyed tone, "If the two of ye don't put away whatever this quarrel between ye is until the battle is over, I'll be takin' ye both over me knees and tannin' yer hides!"

Jesse and Ronin shared startled looks and looked down at their plates sheepishly, their voices coming out in unison, "Sorry, Karrig."

Karrig nodded and picked his fork back up, his expression turning more pleased. "Good, now let's eat this fine food. Apparently, Jesse thinks she needs better than what they provide the rest of us with."

Jesse chuckled and raised an eyebrow. "What? Ye think I don't know what all they put in that slop? I'm no idiot, Karrig."

Ronin chuckled as Karrig glared at Jesse, the sound trailing off as Karrig's glare turned on her. "Hey, I can't 'elp it if she's smart about these things!"

Karrig shook his head. "As if I don't know whom it was that told 'er."

Ronin shrugged. "Just when do ye think I could've done such a thing?"

Karrig sat back in his chair and smirked. "The two of ye were thick as thieves when ye were younger, I can remember plenty of times when I'd walk inta a room an' find ye whisperin' or laughin' 'bout somethin'!"

Jesse shrugged and nodded her head. "He's right, Ronin. We were bad about that when we finally got over our initial annoyance with each other."

Ronin raised an eyebrow. "I wouldn't have had a problem if ye would've stopped messin' with me stuff!"

Jesse laughed. "I only did that 'cause ye were such a bossy wench!"

Ronin's eyes narrowed. "I'll show ye who the wench is if ye call me that again, Jessen!"

Karrig growled, "Shut up, both of ya! Yer both cheeky wenches who need a good arse warmin' ta shut ya up!"

Ronin bit her lip to stop any further retorts from exiting, she didn't think Karrig could do anything to her but she didn't wish to find out. When Jesse opened her mouth to make further comment, Ronin clapped a hand over Jesse's mouth. "If ye get us inta any more trouble, I'll be takin' ya over me lap after he gets through with us, Jessen!"

Jesse sat back in her chair with a resounding thump, her expression turning to that of a chastised child as she picked up her fork and continued to eat without another word.


Jesse yawned as she exited the tent in the cold morning air, shivering as the air caused her nipples to harden against her thin white cotton shirt. Jesse walked toward the cook's fire and smiled at her cousin Marcelle in appreciation as she handed Jesse a plate of breakfast. "Thanks, Marcelle."

Marcelle grinned and shook her head, struggling to keep her mouth shut about how messy Jesse's hair was at the moment.

Jesse sat down on a log next to the fire and tucked into her breakfast, humming in appreciation. She loved Marcelle's cooking almost as much as she loved her own cook's. Jesse looked up with a glare as someone sat next to her, the glare increasing at the smirk on Ronin's face. She growled. "What!"

Ronin chuckled and ran a hand over Jesse's head in an attempt to smooth it back down. "Yer hair is in need of some attention, Jessen."

Jesse bared her teeth in a snarl and then returned her attention to her food, ignoring Ronin. Ronin chuckled and shook her head, knowing how much Jesse hated the mornings. She turned her own attention to her breakfast, sighing as the warmth of the food heated her body on its way down.

Karrig sat on the other side of Ronin and tried to hold in his own laughter as he passed both of them some hot cider. "Marcelle said she's sorry she did'na 'ave any made when ye were up there, Jesse."

Jesse grunted and swallowed a sip of the hot apple cider, shivering pleasantly as the sweet hot liquid went down her throat. "I guess we'll attack after everyone's 'ad their breakfast. I'm not much on battle before I've fully woke up."

Ronin smirked. "Yer no' much on anythin' before ye've fully woke up!"

Jesse glared at Ronin again and set her empty plate aside. "Shut up or you and the rest of this bunch will be doin' drills 'til it's time ta go!"

Ronin held back a chuckle and stuffed a biscuit in her mouth, chewing it with a faux innocent expression on her face.

The rest of the morning went by without much more conflict, aside from an argument between Jesse and Ronin when Ronin stole a sausage from Jesse's plate. When everyone seemed to have their fill, Jesse stood and cleared her throat. "It's time ta head out, I want all the warriors and archers to get their packs, the rest of ya need ta wait here 'til we come back."

The orders were followed quickly and soon they began the hour's walk toward where they knew the Roman Army's camp was set up. When they reached the area where they figured they could be spotted by the sentries, Jesse tensed as she saw a figure running through the trees from the direction of the camp. Her hand went up to hold back her warriors, as she got a better look at the long blonde hair on the warrior and she realized it was Rossi. She'd sent Rossi and another scout to spy on the Romans the previous night.

Rossi ran toward them and paused to catch her breath in front of Jesse. "M'Lord, they're only 30,000 in numbers. I counted as best as I could, and I honestly doubt that I miscounted."

Jesse's eyes continued to glance about them as she spoke. "Where's Malo?"

Rossi smiled. "She's in the trees somewhere. Ya know amazons, ye can take 'em outta the forest but ye can't keep 'em outta the trees!"

Jesse smirked as a nut was tossed from a nearby tree and hit Rossi in the back. "I believe ye should keep yer mouth shut on that, Rossi!"

Rossi was about to reply, but Jesse placed a hand on her arm to silence her. Jesse's smile turned feral as she held her hand up and signaled for the warriors to position themselves. She'd heard the Roman sentries sound the alarm. Jesse glanced up to the trees where Malo had positioned herself and watched for Malo's signal.

Malo watched the camp from where she crouched in a high branch on a large Oak. She nearly fell when she felt someone swing up next to her, but Ronin's strong hand around Malo's bicep stilled her. "Shhhh... I just wanted ta get a good look at the bastards."

Malo nodded and returned her attention to the now approaching contingent of Roman soldiers; she glanced down at Jesse and held up her hand. The fingers slowly bent to touch her palm as she counted down the time they had until the Romans were climbing the hill across from the one they stood upon.

Jesse's heart had skipped a beat when Ronin had left her side and ran up the tree to jump onto a branch, but she quickly realized what Ronin was doing when Ronin turned to wink at her. When they were younger, they would play a game called "Hide and Go Seek". Ronin had gotten a habit of climbing a tree, and jumping down to land in front of Jesse when she got beneath the branches.

Jesse watched anxiously as Ronin and Malo watched the approaching army. When Malo's thumb bent forward to touch the other fingers of her hand, Jesse signaled the warriors to duck so that the archers could fire their arrows.

Jesse looked up from where she lay on the ground underneath her shield, a grim smile forming on her lips when she saw a row of Roman's whom had just reached the hill fall from arrows piercing their chests or heads.

Ronin's gaze moved between Jesse and the Romans, making sure Jesse would be safe if any of them made it to their side.

It took an hour for the Romans to finally get the idea of keeping their shields in front of them when they reached the crest of the hill. Ronin gave a shout of her battle cry as she flipped from the tree and landed on her feet with her sword at the ready, "FOR BYRON!"

Jesse leapt from the ground, pulling her sword from the scabbard as she did so. She soon found herself sandwiched between Ronin at her back and a Roman soldier in front of her as both she and Ronin fought the Roman bastards. When the Roman fell from a deep wound to his side, Jesse lifted her sword and plunged it downward into his chest without a thought.

Ronin glanced up as she felt someone at her and Jesse's sides and shared a smirk with Rossi as the three of them continued to fight the Romans whom had somehow managed to surround them without their knowledge.

Jesse's lip curled in a snarl as she saw the glances shared by Rossi and Ronin, then she increased the ferocity of her attack. Her broadsword clashed loudly with a young Roman's sword, forcing him to the ground. She lifted her sword with a feral grin and swung it, taking off his head when it impacted with his neck. He hadn't even had time for fear to take hold.

Jesse glanced back at Ronin and noticed Ronin sharing another look with Rossi, anger grabbed Jesse and she moved away from Ronin and Rossi with quick movements. She soon found herself fighting off two Romans. She thrust her sword into one's stomach and twisted it as she kicked out with her left foot to push the other away. Hearing another soldier approaching with a yell, Jesse spun around and kicked out at his head as her sword pulled out of the other soldier's stomach. The impact of her booted foot forced the soldier's head around and his neck snapped. She didn't watch as he fell lifelessly to the ground, as she quickly had to turn and fight off the soldier she'd kicked in the stomach earlier when he came rushing at her from behind.

Ronin glanced behind her when she felt Jesse slip away from them and her eyes narrowed with rage at Jesse's stupidity. She was about to go looking for Jesse when another set of Romans rushed at her. She forced away her worry over Jesse and lifted her sword to stop the impact of the sword rushing toward her head.


The battle lasted for six hours; the Romans hadn't even had the chance to retreat. Jesse looked down at the bloody face of the young Roman she'd caught attempting to run. "I've got a message fer Caesar, think ye can git it ta him?"

The young soldier nodded his head, hoping it would allow him to keep his life. Jesse smiled wickedly. "Good, tell him ta feck off! If he doesn't leave Byron alone, I'll keep comin' 'til I've sent Caesar himself ta Charon! I only lost five warriors in this battle, yet the entire Roman contingent that was camping here is dead, what does that tell you?"

The young soldier swallowed loudly, his gaze flickering away from the intense blue and indigo glaring down at him. He looked around at the filth and gore of his dead mates, and then up at the bloody warriors standing around himself and the demonic blonde standing in front of him before answering weakly. "It tells me that Caesar needs to leave your lands alone."

Jesse grinned sardonically as she pushed the soldier to the ground, stepping away from him with one last sentence. "Go, or I'll be sendin' you ta Charon and takin' the message ta Caesar, meself!"

Jesse turned and limped toward the camp, determined to see if the Romans had left any supplies that might be of use to Byron. She ignored the deep cut to her right thigh, knowing that as soon as she sat down; Ronin would be upon her like the plague for leaving her side during the battle.

They took whatever medical supplies, food supplies, and weapons that they found in the camp. Then Jesse ordered some of the warriors to stay behind and take apart the camp and pile it all in the center of the clearing. She wanted them to burn everything that was to be left behind, and then they could return to their own camp once the fire was out.

Jesse and the warriors who weren't busy dissecting the Roman's camp returned to their own camp late that night, and Jesse ordered everyone to go to the healers if they needed it. Jesse hadn't allowed anyone to attend her until she was sure that her warriors were stitched up, bandaged and whatever else they needed.

Ronin searched the healer's tent for Jesse until she finally found Jesse sitting upon a stack of fur blankets, her rage deepening upon seeing the long, deep gash on Jesse's thigh being stitched. Her gaze searched Jesse for any other injuries; after not finding any, she made her presence known with a low growling tone. "I'll be seein' ye privately in me tent when the healer's done with ya, Jessen."

Jesse looked up into Ronin's glowing dark green eyes and gulped, knowing she was in deep trouble. "I-I'm sorry, Ronin. I hadn't meant ta make you angry."

Ronin sneered. "I don't care if ye meant ta do so, but ye did and now ye'll pay fer it." Seeing Jesse flinch when the healer pushed the needle too far into her skin, Ronin growled at the shaking healer. "I'll finish this; go find someone else who needs ya!"

The healer jumped up and ran from the corner Jesse and Ronin were in, and Ronin knelt on her knees to continue where the healer had left off. They were both silent as Ronin carefully stitched the wound. When Ronin had the bandage wrapped around Jesse's wounded thigh, Ronin stood and helped Jesse up. She snatched Jesse's pants up and raised an eyebrow at Jesse.

Jesse expected Ronin to hand her the pants, but Ronin just picked Jesse up and tossed Jesse over her broad shoulder. Jesse let out a surprised squawk of protest, but was ignored as Ronin just walked through the tent to the amazement of the warriors present.


Ronin set Jesse on her feet once they were inside Ronin's tent and tossed Jesse's pants aside. Jesse swallowed loudly and spat out through gritted teeth. "What the feck were ye thinkin', Ronin? Those men and women are supposed ta respect me, how can they do tha' when ye've jest shown me bare arse ta any one lookin'!"

Ronin began to undress; her rage burning brighter with every second Jesse continued to disrespect her with the angry words. Ronin unlaced her boots and removed them, tossing them to the corner of her tent.

Jesse finally paused in her words long enough to notice Ronin undressing. She started to speak, but her words stilled when Ronin's shirt was jerked over her head to reveal Ronin's bare, olive-toned, muscular breasts. Jesse licked at her lips with a suddenly dry tongue. She felt the stirrings of desire in her lower belly, her heart rate picking up.

Ronin smirked at the slack-jawed expression on Jesse's face as Ronin's pants dropped around her ankles. She kicked her pants to another part of the tent. She wouldn't bother to use a belt this time, no; Jesse would feel the sting of Ronin's palm on her bare ass. Ronin slowly stalked toward Jesse, a feral grin forming on Ronin's lips as Jesse's eyes stared at Ronin's flexing thigh muscles.

Jesse blinked and looked into Ronin's dark green eyes, her breath coming faster as Ronin got closer. Confusion clouded Jesse's mind as she tried to figure out what was going on. Her eyes widened when the glint in Ronin's eyes told Jesse all she needed to know. Forcing her weak legs to move, Jesse turned and ran from the tent.

Ronin chuckled darkly and lengthened her strides just slightly, catching Jesse just a few feet outside of the tent opening. She pulled Jesse tightly against her naked chest and whispered hotly in Jesse's ear. "Ye'll no' be gettin' out of it, My Little One. Jest give in, and we'll both be happier fer it."

Jesse closed her eyes and forced herself to relax in Ronin's tight embrace, she whimpered when Ronin turned her and picked her up to cradle Jesse in her arms as she turned and took them back into the tent.

Without letting Jesse go, Ronin sat down onto the thick furs in her tent. She removed Jesse's shirt and settled Jesse over her thighs, grinning wickedly when Jesse attempted to wiggle out of her lap; a strong hand to the small of Jesse's back stopped the movements, despite Ronin's enjoyment of watching Jesse's firm ass move and the feel of Jesse's bare skin rubbing against her own. "I do believe we 'ad this conversation before, My Little One."

Jesse swallowed loudly and nodded her head, which she hid between her arms. Ronin raised an eyebrow and smacked her hand down on Jesse's ass, stifling a groan of desire at the yelp Jesse released. "I expect ye ta listen this time, Jessen."

Jesse nodded again, closing her eyes tightly and crossing her legs at the ankles; hoping it would hide her rising excitement.

Ronin let loose a volley of spanking, her hand sharply smacking down onto Jesse's creamy-white buttocks. *Swat! Swat! Swat! Swat! Swat…*

Jesse held in her tears and noises, her pride not wanting to let loose the hold it had over her quite yet.

Ronin rubbed the palm of her hand over the reddening skin of Jesse's ass as she spoke. "I do this because I love ya, Jessen. I want ya near me during battle so I can watch over ya. Why do ye keep disregardin' the things I tell you?" Before Jesse could reply, Ronin started a new volley of spankings.

*Swat! Swat! Swat! Swat…*

Ronin angrily noticed Jesse hadn't let go of her pride yet, and increased the strength she used to spank Jesse.


Jesse bit her lip and her hands grasped the fur blankets beneath them, her knuckles turning white from the strength of her grip.


Jesse's teeth broke through the skin of her lip and finally, she cried out as the burning in her ass cheeks multiplied and blood dripped from her lip.

Ronin smiled in satisfaction at the sound of Jesse's voice crying out beautifully. Her gaze stayed on Jesse's ass, which was now a bright red from the spanking. *SWAT! SWAT! SWAT! SWAT…*

Jesse cried out with each impact of Ronin's hand, the sound of skin hitting skin and Jesse's loud cries and screams echoing throughout the camp. Tears streamed from Jesse's eyes, the burning pain radiating through her bottom and sending sparks of heat to Jesse's dripping pussy.


When Ronin paused for a moment, Jesse began begging and pleading. "Goddess, please! Please stop, Ronin. I won't do it again, I promise! I won't do it ag-”


Ronin ignored the begging, the pleading, and the promises and her hand fell sharply upon Jesse's bottom in another volley. *SWAT! SWAT! SWAT! SWAT! SWAT…"

Jesse screamed out promises of behavior and begging for forgiveness as the spanking continued for the next half candle mark until her voice turned hoarse, and sobs took over. Jesse's body was wracked with the ferocity of her sobs as Ronin continued to spank and chastise Jesse for her inconsiderate actions.

Ronin didn't stop spanking Jesse until Jesse's ass was a gorgeous shade of scarlet. She moved Jesse from her thighs and laid Jesse down onto her stomach on the fur blankets. Ronin lay beside Jesse and soothingly rubbed her hand over Jesse's back until Jesse's sobs quieted and Jesse's tears stopped. Ronin placed a kiss between Jesse's shoulder blades and whispered. "Do ye need me ta get ye anythin', My Little One?"

Jesse nodded and sniffled. "Please, get somethin' fer me arse. It hurts somethin' awful!"

Ronin chuckled softly and stood, moving toward the pack she'd tossed in earlier before looking for Jesse. She reached into the pack, pulling out a jar of salve. She then moved back to the furs, and straddled Jesse's thighs; then she grimaced as she thought of how much this would sting at first. "Jesse, I 'ave ta warn ye that this'll hurt fer a bit."

Jesse sniffled again and nodded. "It usually does."

Ronin chortled and removed the lid from the jar, dipping her fingers into the jar and scooping out a large amount of the salve. She set the jar aside and rubbed her hands together a little to even out the amount on each hand. She then reached out and placed her hands on Jesse's ass, moaning softly at the intense heat coming from Jesse's welted backside.

Jesse whimpered and forced herself not to squirm at the increasing pain in her bottom as Ronin rubbed the salve in. Jesse felt her wetness continue to pour from her center and held back a moan, not wanting to draw Ronin's attention to the fact that she was aroused.

Ronin smirked as she continued to work the salve into the sensitive skin, very much aware of the effect she had on the young Lord. She didn't even have to look to know, she could smell her desire in the air. A few minutes passed before Ronin stopped rubbing Jesse's butt, and Ronin moved to lie beside Jesse again. Her eyes widening in concern when she noticed the dried blood on Jesse's bottom lip, she reached out a hand and gripped Jesse's chin, forcing Jesse to face her. Her gaze bore into Jesse's blue and indigo eyes while she demanded. "Why didn't ye tell me that ye'd bitten yer lip, Jessen?"

Jesse smiled slightly, wincing as it stretched the skin of her bottom lip. Then she whispered so as not to irritate her voice any more. "I did'na think about it, I 'ad somethin' that hurt just a bit more to be taken care of."

Ronin shook her head with fond exasperation as she got off the furs and moved back to her bag. She returned a few seconds later with a wet cloth. She cleaned the blood off Jesse's lip and sighed. "It isn't deep, it jest bled a lot. Ye'll be okay."

Jesse leaned in and gave Ronin a light kiss, not thinking. She pulled back quickly when she realized what she was doing and groaned. "Oh Goddess, Ronin... I'm so sorry... I-I shouldn't have done that."

Ronin's eyes narrowed and she reached a hand over and gripped the back of Jesse's neck, forcing Jesse's lips against her own. She nipped and sucked at Jesse's lower lip, unintentionally re-opening the bite mark.

Jesse whimpered and opened her mouth to protest, silenced when Ronin's tongue plunged into her mouth. Jesse attempted to struggle, which was stopped abruptly when Ronin forcefully pulled her against Ronin's muscular, naked body. Ronin's right arm was tightly wrapped around Jesse's waist, with her left hand still gripping Jesse's neck.

Ronin had been fighting off her desire to have Jesse for so long and she dimly realized it hadn't been her brightest idea to even be in the same room as a nude Jesse; much less be naked while spanking a very naked Jesse - and after a battle, no less. Ronin's tongue explored Jesse's mouth while Ronin forced Jesse onto her back. She pried Jesse's thighs apart and settled herself on top of Jesse.

Jesse cried out through the kiss at the burning pain of her bottom on the coarse blankets, tears leaking from her tightly closed eyes. Jesse couldn't believe Ronin was going to do this to her... force her to have sex with her. Jesse felt her anger rise up, she wasn't about to let herself become a victim. She knew her strength was no match for Ronin's, and so she forced herself to relax.

Ronin groaned with her excitement as she felt Jesse relax beneath her, thinking Jesse was giving in. She let her guard down and quickly regretted it as Jesse took that opportunity to push her off of her roughly. Jesse jumped from the furs and stared down at Ronin with fear and hurt in her teary eyes. Before Ronin could stop her, Jesse ran out of the tent and to the relative safety of her own tent.

It took a few moments for Ronin's shock to wear off, and when it did she became angry with herself. She'd recognized the fear in Jesse's eyes; it was one of fearing for safety rather than pain. Ronin punched her hand down into the unforgiving ground beneath her and cursed. "FUCK! She... Oh Goddess... She thought..." Ronin's eyes widened with realization and she moaned in dismay. "Oh fuck, I was going ta... Oh noooo... I was... going t-ta r-rape her... Oh, help me, Goddess..." Tears dripped from Ronin's nearly black eyes as she wrapped her arms around her waist and rocked back and forth as sobs shook her.


Jesse ran into her tent and dropped down into the far corner, tears running from her eyes as harsh sobs wracked her body fiercely. 'Oh my Goddess, please, please let it be over.'


Karrig sighed as he walked toward Ronin's tent, having expected her to be awake before now. His movements were stopped as one of the apprentice healers came running over to him from Jesse's tent.

"Karrig, sir, there's somethin' wrong with Lord Jesse. I went ta wake her up and she refuses ta move. She's just starin' off and cries out whenever someone comes near her. We need yer help!"

Karrig became concerned and he changed directions, quickly making his way to Jesse's tent. As he paused outside the tent flap, he heard Jesse scream out, "Goddess, no! No, Ronin! Please d--don't rape me... Please, please, Ronin..."

Karrig's eyes narrowed with anger as he listened to the words Jesse's hoarse voice shouted. He turned to the apprentice and growled. "Ye need ta be takin' care o' her, I've got somethin' ta do!" With that, Karrig turned back in his original direction and he ran toward Ronin's tent.

Ronin looked up from where she lay with her long body pulled in on herself as Karrig angrily entered her tent. She didn't bother to speak as he pulled her off the ground and dragged her from the tent while he shouted at her.

"Ye feckin' heathen, I'll teach ya what happens when someone does such things!" Karrig's face was red with anger, the veins in his neck, forehead, and his arms bulging.

When Karrig pulled them both to a stop in the middle of the camp, Ronin just stood there. 'Goddess, please let him kill me. I don't deserve ta live, he's right in his anger.'

Karrig's fist swung forward and made contact with Ronin's stomach, forcing her to bend at the waist. He then grabbed her by her hair in a tight grip, shoving his knee upward into her face. He heard the breaking of the bones in her nose and gave a feral smile. He dropped his leg back down and then pulled her head up, punching her in the face.

Ronin didn't make a sound, she just allowed him to continue with the beating. The warriors had all gathered around and quietly watched the scene with curiosity as the Chief of Warriors beat Lord Jesse's advisor, what truly amazed them was Advisor Ronin letting him do so.


Jesse's eyes blinked and she stared up in confusion at the healers standing around her, croaking out through her dry throat. "What's goin' on?"

One of the healers stepped forward and spoke softly to her. "Ye've been in a trance all mornin', we've been tryin' ta get ye ta wake up but every time we came near ye; ye'd scream out."

Jesse felt an odd sense of distress grip her heart, then she jumped up and ran past the startled healers. She stopped outside, her eyes widening upon sight of Karrig beating Ronin. She ran toward them and shoved Karrig away from Ronin, causing him to let go of the bloody and broken woman. Ronin fell to the ground, and Jesse dropped to her knees beside Ronin's still body.

Jesse swallowed around the lump in her throat, her teary eyes glared up at Karrig when he moved to stand beside her. "Get the healers! Ye better pray ta the Goddess that she's all right, Karrig!"

Karrig swallowed his confusion and ran to do as he was told, not wanting to anger Jesse. He also thought it to be a good idea to get her some clothes.

Jesse placed a kiss to Ronin's forehead and whispered. "Please be all right, Ronin. I can't lose you again. I'm not angry at you about last night; I was just hurt. Please, please don't leave me."

Jesse sighed with relief when she heard a quiet groan and wheezing come from Ronin's broken nose, knowing that Ronin was alive at least.

The healers arrived and quickly forced Jesse away from Ronin, getting a group of warriors to pick Ronin up and carry her to the healer's tent. The healers gave orders for no one to enter the tent and Jesse growled with frustration, nearly biting Rossi's head off when Rossi attempted to hand her some clothes.

Rossi narrowed her eyes and tugged Jesse's arm. "Goddess, Jessen! If ye don't put yer clothes on, the entire army will know that ye got yer arse warmed last night!"

Jesse finally looked down at herself and if she hadn't been in such an angry mood, she probably would have blushed from embarrassment but she instead snatched the clothes from Rossi's hands and quickly tugged them on. She winced at the burning pain still radiating from her backside when she pulled the pants on.

Rossi tried not to laugh as she noticed the wince, but instead she asked. "So what was this all about?"

Jesse's eyes narrowed and she turned to locate Karrig, she growled out as she walked toward him. "I don't know, but I'll soon be findin' out!"

Karrig looked in Jesse's direction as if he'd felt the heat of her glare and swallowed loudly at the look of intense rage in her eyes. He didn't bother to run, knowing Jesse would have the entire army after him before he could do anything.

When Jesse reached Karrig, she pulled him to face her with her hand tightening around his throat as she spoke in a low growl. "Tell me what the bloody Hell this was about, Karrig; or ye'll be meetin' Charon at the end of me blade!"

Karrig gestured toward Jesse's hand and she released him, allowing him to speak. "The healers came ta me as I was headin' toward Ronin's tent, they told me that somethin' was wrong with you and none of 'em could get ta ye 'cause ye'd scream out every time they tried. I went ta check on ye and I heard ye scream somethin' about Ronin rapin' ye. I didn't think, honestly I didn't! I know it's not up ta me ta punish her, but yer like me own flesh and blood, Jessen."

Rossi's eyes narrowed and she tugged Jesse's arm. "She raped you? Is it true, Jessen?"

Jesse shook her head and sighed as she felt a headache coming on. "Nay, things got out of control and she didn't listen when I said no. I forced her off me before she could do anythin'!"

Rossi's jaw worked and she spat out. "But she did try to?"

Jesse turned and faced Rossi, her eyes narrowing as she growled. "No one but me is goin' ta do anythin' ta her! I'll be the one ta decide what her punishment is, do ye understand me?"

Rossi swallowed her objections, recognizing the order as one from her leader and not her cousin. "All right, M'Lord; I'll leave her be, but know that it's only because yer lord of Byron."

Jesse nodded acceptance and paced toward the tent, only to turn and walk back toward them at the flap. They watched as Jesse continued to repeat this process, amusement absent on this day since both Rossi and Karrig were angry over Ronin's actions.


A week later:

Ronin attempted to open her eyes, only succeeding with her left eye because her right eye was swollen shut. Her body hurt all over, she attempted to sit up and cried out in pain as she limply fell back onto the bed. Then she became confused, as she clearly remembered being at the camp last.

The healer looked up with concern when she heard the loud cry of pain, her eyes widening when she saw that Ronin was awake. She quickly ran to Ronin's side and checked her wounds as she asked if Ronin was all right, and if Ronin needed anything.


Jesse entered the hospice in Byron with a frown on her face, having heard nothing about Ronin's progress over the past week since they'd gotten back to Byron. Jesse had quickly ordered that camp be broken when one of the healers had come out two candle-marks after they went in and informed Jesse that Ronin needed to be settled somewhere before they could do the surgery Ronin was in need of.

Jesse entered the infirmary of the hospice and looked around for the healer in charge, her eyes narrowing in concern when she noticed the healer leaning over Ronin's bed. Jesse quickly walked over to where the healer stood. "Is she all right?"

The healer looked over at Jesse and nodded. "She woke up this morn. She was a bit confused, and in a lot of pain so I gave her a sleeping herb, I hope ye don't mind, M'Lord?"

Jesse shook her head and raised an eyebrow. "She's my advisor, why would I mind?"

The healer's eyebrows furrowed. "I thought she was a prisoner, the Chief of Warriors came by the day after she arrived and gave strict orders that she be watched carefully by the guards on duty."

Jesse sighed in annoyance and shook her head. "Nay, I think I need ta 'ave a word with me Chief of Warriors. I appreciate yer informin' me of that."

The healer nodded. "Aye; yer welcome, M'Lord. Shall I send word when she wakes up again?"

Jesse replied in the positive and then took her leave, returning to the castle to have a nice little conversation with a certain Chief of Warriors.


Karrig looked on with concern as Jesse ordered everyone but him and Rossi off the field. "What's wrong, Jesse?"

Jesse glared and spat. "What the feck were ye thinkin' when ye gave orders for the guards at the hospice ta watch Ronin as if she were a prisoner? I did'na give orders fer ye ta do tha', Karrig!"

Rossi sighed and shook her head; she'd warned Karrig that Jesse would find out about his actions with the hopes that Karrig would listen to her.

Karrig frowned and shook his head. "What if she leaves as soon as she gets well enough ta do so?"

Jesse turned to leave as she spoke harshly. "Then it's my problem, not yers!"


Jesse sat in her throne in the throne room as she read through several scrolls that were sent to her by other clan leaders. Her mind wasn't really in it though, as she was deeply concerned about Ronin. She couldn't understand Ronin's actions that night at the camp, as Ronin had never attempted to really harm her before. She also couldn't understand why Ronin had allowed Karrig to beat her so severely.

Jesse looked up at the approach of two guards, her eyebrows rising in curiosity. "What can I do fer ye?"

The two warriors knelt in respect and hurriedly stood as they reported. "The healer sent us ta let ye know Advisor Ronin is awake."

Jesse flung the scrolls from her hands and quickly left the castle, the guards practically running to keep up.


Ronin sighed as she finally relaxed, the healer had explained what had happened to her and now she wasn't confused at least. She didn't hurt quite as much after that last herb the healer had given her either.

Ronin quietly asked. "What are me injuries?"

The healer was about to answer when she heard footsteps rapidly approaching. She smiled slightly in greeting when she saw that it was Lord Jesse. "Welcome, Lord Jesse. I was just about to explain to our patient what her injuries are."

Ronin tensed at the knowledge that Jesse was there, not feeling ready to face the feelings of shame she knew seeing Jesse would bring on.

Jesse stopped at the foot of the bed and looked down at the prone Ronin. "Ronin, I know yer awake so just look at me; please?"

Ronin reluctantly opened her left eye, closing it again as she felt tears of shame and guilt fill her eyes.

Jesse saw a lone tear trickle from the corner of Ronin's left eye and knew it wasn't from physical pain; she looked at the healer and ordered. "Give us a moment alone."

Once the healer was gone, Jesse sat on the chair next to the bed and placed her hand over Ronin's right hand. "Please, Ronin; don't hurt me any more than ye all ready 'ave."

Ronin turned her head to the left and finally looked at Jesse, despite the tears now freely flowing from her eyes. She choked out. "I'm so... so sorry. I-I never meant ta hurt ye, L-Lord Jesse."

Jesse swallowed painfully, not wanting to hear that title from Ronin. "Ronin, please, don't do this. Don't shut me out, it would be as bad as losin' ye. I can't take any more loss."

Ronin sobbed, wishing it would stop as the movement jostled her apparently broken ribs. "I'm sorry, My Little One. Can ye fergive me?"

Jesse smiled sadly. "Of course I can, Ronin. I know ye didn't mean it; we both should 'ave thought before we put ourselves in that position. We know what battle-lust can do ta warriors, and we know that we both have our limits."

Ronin reached her hand up and wiped the tears from Jesse's cheek. "I love you, My Little One. I know that ye can't return that love, but I still do."

Jesse's smile was stronger this time as she leaned into the caress of Ronin's hand. "I know ye do. After yer out of here and fully healed, we'll sit down and have a desperately needed conversation."

Ronin pulled her hand back reluctantly as the healer returned, a soft smile still on Ronin's lips.



Caesar growled low in his throat and slammed his fist down onto the wooden table as the injured soldier reported to him about the massacre of half of his army, the better half at that. "How did that bitch manage to best them?"

The young soldier flinched, remembering the demonic woman lord of Byron. "She was some kind of demon; I swear it to the God of War!"

Caesar's eyes narrowed and he barked. "We'll all be going this time; I want to see this she-demon myself!"

The young soldier stood there until he was dismissed and Caesar chuckled after he was alone. "So we've got ourselves a she-demon, huh? I'll see about that!"


Three weeks later:

Jesse smirked and set aside the reports from her spies in Rome she'd been about to read as she heard the sounds of Ronin's cursing get closer. When Ronin limped through the doorway of the throne room, Jesse chastised her. "I thought the healer said fer ya ta stay in bed fer the next week."

Ronin dropped into the throne beside Jesse's and whimpered before whining. "But I hurt and I don't want ta be alone!"

Jesse raised an eyebrow, her grin broadening when she thought of what would make Ronin whine like a baby. "Yer cycle snuck up, eh?"

Ronin pouted and curled her body into a ball as she nodded, a tear of pain leaking down her cheek.

Jesse stood and knelt in front of Ronin, her hand rubbing Ronin's thigh as she spoke. "Do ye want me ta get the healer ta send ye some herbs?"

Ronin captured Jesse's hand and positioned herself to where she could pull Jesse into a cuddle, snuggling into Jesse's warm body with a sigh. "No, jest want ta hold ye. It makes me feel better."

Jesse smiled softly, reveling in that she was the only one who got to see this side of Ronin. Plenty of people got to see the bossy, angry side of Ronin; but Jesse was the only one whom ever got to see the soft side of Ronin, or Ronin's natural reaction to pain. Jesse curled her hand into Ronin's hair, kissing the top of Ronin's dark head.

Ronin sighed again, kissing Jesse's neck softly. They were interrupted by the alarm of attack being yelled out, and the warning bell clanging loudly. Ronin moaned in protest as Jesse pulled out of the embrace.

Jesse looked down at Ronin in apology. "I'm sorry, Ronin. I need ta see ta this, please stay here."

Ronin frowned, her eyes narrowing as she struggled to stand up. "What if you need me, My Little One?"

Jesse placed her hand on Ronin's chest, looking up into Ronin's concerned eyes as she replied. "I'll be all right, My Heart. I'm surrounded by people who will do whatever necessary ta protect me."

Ronin nodded and watched as Jesse left the room, then her attention was drawn to the reports from Rome. She picked them up and rolled them open, her concern growing as she read. She tossed the scrolls away and walked out of the throne room when she learned of Caesar's presence with his army.


Jesse pulled her sword and ran into the battle, her heart pumping furiously from an all ready high level of adrenaline. She fought through the soldiers in front of her and soon found herself face to face with Caesar, a wicked glint entering her eyes as she thought of her promise to send him to Charon.

Caesar gazed down at Jesse, a wicked smile forming on his lips. "Would you happen to be Lord Jesse?" His tone was mocking as he spoke her title.

A sardonic smile formed on Jesse's lips as she replied, "Aye, and ye need ta remember it so that ye can tell Charon who sent ya!"

Caesar's eyes narrowed and he charged forward, his sword clashing with Jesse's as she blocked what would have been a painful injury to her groin.

Jesse twisted her sword, pushing his around in a sharp arc until he was forced backward a bit from the fierce impact when her sword released his.

Jesse took the advantage of his momentary disorientation to sweep the sharp edge of her sword across his belly, grinning as the sharp blade tore through his armor to swipe across his now unprotected belly.

Caesar roared his anger and charged forward again, continuing to attack as he attempted to find an opening. He finally found a small chance, and thrust his sword forward to pierce her unprotected side.

Jesse grunted and jumped away, not glancing down at the long, thin cut to her left side. She lifted her sword and thrust it forward, smiling when the sword pierced his shoulder.


Ronin ran onto the battlefield, ignoring her still healing injuries from the beating Karrig had given her. She fought through the Roman soldiers until her gaze finally found Jesse. Her eyes narrowed when she saw Jesse battling Caesar. Ronin's attention was pulled away for several moments as another Roman came after her, but she returned her gaze to Jesse once the Roman was dead.


Jesse was beginning to tire, but she refused to give up to this sick bastard. She cried out when the tip of his sword pierced her sword hand, forcing her to drop her sword.

Caesar gave a broad smile as he switched his sword to his left hand and swung out to punch Jesse in the stomach with his right hand.

Jesse dropped to her knees from the fierce pain in her lower belly. She grunted in pain, her attention drawn away from Caesar until his hand twisted in her short hair forced her to look up at him.

Ronin looked over at them once the soldier she was fighting was down, and her eyes narrowed when she saw Caesar's sword poised to behead Jesse. Her yell came out as a roar without her own knowledge as she charged toward them, her sword held straight out in one hand as she ran.

Caesar was looking down at Jesse and didn't hear the approach of a very enraged Ronin, but he definitely realized his mistake when he felt a sword gliding into his stomach.

Ronin's movement didn't stop until her sword was in all the way to the hilt, a grim smile of satisfaction forming on her lips as she looked down into his surprised face and she watched the light dim from his eyes as he died. She twisted her sword and pulled it out, dropping it on the ground. She turned and dropped to her knees in front of Jesse and kissed Jesse fiercely.

Jesse didn't fight, but she soon pulled away and panted. "We're on a battlefield, Ronin."

Ronin glanced around as if noticing her surroundings for the first time and shook herself out of her stupor. She stood and picked her sword back up, grinning sheepishly. "Ah... Sorry... Don't quite know what got inta me fer a second there."

Jesse rolled her eyes as she picked her own sword up, then she turned to glare at Ronin. "Didn't I tell ye ta stay in the castle?"

Ronin blinked innocently as she retorted before running off. "Aye, ye did; but if I 'adn't been here, ye'd be shorter than ye all ready are!"

Jesse stared after Ronin in astonishment as Ronin charged back into the battle, and then she shook her head with a chuckle and chased after Ronin. Once she caught up with Ronin whom was now fighting another Roman soldier, Jesse turned and put herself in position to protect Ronin's back as always.


The battle took nearly an entire day, several of Byron's warriors were dead, but all of Byron knew the deceased warriors were proud to have died defeating Caesar and his army.

Jesse looked around at the gore covering the grounds of Byron, her eyes filling with tears at her next thought. 'Maybe now the grounds of Byron won't run red with the blood of its people any more.'

Ronin limped up to Jesse and encircled Jesse in her arms from behind, her head resting on Jesse's as she spoke with a tear-choked voice. "It's over, Jessen. We've rid ourselves of his presence, and now we can bring Kersen home ta her family, My Little One."

Jesse stifled a sob with the back of her hand and shrugged from Ronin's embrace, then ran toward the castle. Ronin stared after Jesse in confusion for a moment before following.


Ronin found Jesse sobbing while curled up in a chair in the only room of Byron castle to have not changed since the war began; Kersen's bedchambers. Ronin walked silently over to Jesse and picked Jesse up in her strong arms, cradling Jesse to her chest. She left Kersen's room and carried Jesse to Ronin's bedchambers. She laid her on the bed and forced her to look up at her with a gentle hand cupping her chin.

With that one glance into Jesse's blue and indigo eyes, Ronin saw something she hadn't expected to see again; the soft light of a basic innocence that not even pure evil could touch. The battle hardened Lord Jesse had crumbled and in her place was a frightened Lady Jessen. Ronin quickly curled herself around Jessen, as if to protect Jessen from the world.

Ronin held Jessen for the following hours, neither speaking as Jessen continued to sob. Jessen's tears soaked the blankets beneath them. Ronin and Jessen both slept fitfully, Ronin awakening when Jessen screamed out from her nightmares.


Jessen blinked her eyes open in the bright morning sunlight, she tensed as the body wrapped tightly around her own registered in her sleep-fogged mind. She looked down at the olive toned hands resting on her abdomen and relaxed instantly, knowing now that it was Ronin whom held her.

Ronin felt the tensing and relaxing of Jessen's body and immediately woke up, tightening her hold around Jessen's waist.

Jessen sighed as she recalled the previous day's events; the emotions that had crashed through her carefully constructed walls when Ronin had included herself amongst Kersen's family. Ronin had succeeded in forcing Jessen to come alive again, making her feel vulnerable and protected all at once. It was something only Ronin could bring out in her, the need to be cared for and taken care of, the need to be kept in line by a strong, yet caring hand.

Ronin accepted the silence, knowing Jessen needed to work through things. She finally herself time to think, time to accept that she was home. Something Ronin hadn't allowed herself to think of since she'd left Byron. Ronin felt Jessen try to turn in her embrace and relaxed her hold around Jessen's waist, a soft smile forming on her lips when she looked into Jessen's bright eyes.

Jessen settled back down once she'd succeeded in turning around to face Ronin, her eyes sparkling with happiness. It was a strange, yet very wonderful feeling. In fact, all of the emotions filling Jessen at the moment seemed wonderful to her. It had been so long since she really allowed herself to dwell on them.

They lay there in a comfortable silence for a long time, until Jessen mischievously commented. "Ye've done it now, Ronin."

Ronin smiled crookedly and asked. "Jest what is it I'm being accused of doin'?"

Jessen smiled softly and chuckled. "Ye've brought me alive, made me feel something other than pain an' anger. It's an amazing sensation after feeling numb fer so long."

Ronin's smile warmed and she rolled over until Jessen was lying on top of her. Jessen's blue and indigo eyes; so full of life, stared down into Ronin's dark green eyes. "I'm glad ta have done so. I did'na want ta lose ye, My Little One."

Jessen ducked her head shyly and tucked her face into the crook of Ronin's neck, the heat in Jessen's face increasing with her blush.

Ronin chuckled and tightened her hold around Jessen's waist as she whispered into Jessen's ear. "I love you, Jessen."

Jessen swallowed thickly and picked her head up, her serious eyes gazing into Ronin's. "An' I love you, Ronin. I'm sorry fer my behavior since ye've returned."

Ronin moved her right hand up to caress Jessen's cheek as she replied. "It's all right, Jessen. We've both made mistakes that we fiercely regret, this is our chance ta make it right again."

Jessen scooted down a bit so that she could lay her head on Ronin's chest, sighing as the warmth and scent of Ronin filled her senses.

Their comfort was soon interrupted by a sharp knock on the door, which both knew belonged to Karrig. Ronin held Jessen in place and called out. "Come in."

Karrig poked his head in, his eyes widening at their position as his gaze landed on Ronin and Jessen. He cleared his throat and spoke quietly. "We can come back later if ye'd like."

Ronin rolled her eyes and replied. "Bring yerself and whomever's out there in and shut the door behind ye, we don't want the whole damned castle ta know our business."

Karrig's eyebrows furrowed at her relaxed, happy tone and he entered the room reluctantly. Rossi entered the room behind him, closing the door softly. Both stood silently for a moment, neither too sure of how to begin the conversation.

Jessen rolled her eyes and sighed in exasperation. "Both of ye need ta jest spit it out, whatever it is that ye've got ta say. I'm too damn comfortable ta get up and slap the Hades outta ye fer starin' like we're strange."

Rossi and Karrig chuckled, both catching sight of Jessen's sparkling eyes and knowing that something had changed. Karrig grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, Lord Jesse; I jest wanted ta know what our plans are, so I can give out orders to the warriors. They're all a little twitchy with left over adrenaline from the battle."

Jessen raised an eyebrow and shook her head, knowing that she'd have to somehow rid herself of that annoying title soon. "How the feck did'ja know I'd be in here?"

Rossi chuckled sheepishly and replied. "We didn't. We were gonna ask Ronin ta help us look fer ye."

Ronin snickered and shared a glance with Jessen, knowing that both of them would need to make some changes and announcements soon. Jessen gave them a relaxed grin and sighed. "Make 'em do drills. Give me time and I'll come up with a more devious plan."

Karrig and Rossi groaned, knowing Jesse could come up with some wicked ideas to keep the warriors busy until they were so tired that they wouldn't even be able to service their other halves when they returned home.

Ronin smiled softly and spoke. "Karrig, I need ye ta send a group of yer best warriors to a farm about a week's hard ride south of here to gather Kersen and our belongings. I'm home fer good and it's time for Kersen to be returned ta her family."

Karrig nodded, and then he and Rossi left the room, recognizing their dismissal.

Jessen leaned up and placed a soft kiss on Ronin's lips as the door closed behind Karrig and Rossi. Jessen whispered against Ronin's soft lips. "Ye need ta be sure tha' Rossi knows yer off her bed warmin' list."

Ronin nipped at Jessen's full bottom lip and replied. "I'll make sure tha' she knows I'm off any list, 'cause I belong ta you; body, heart, and soul."


Six days later:

Ronin groaned in frustration as she watched Jessen's sweat-slicked body move through her sword drills. They had yet to make love, and watching Jessen's half-naked, muscular form turn and bend the way it was at the moment could be defined as pure torture. Ronin knew Jessen didn't fully comprehend what she was doing to Ronin, but still... it was enough to make Ronin consider throwing Jessen down somewhere and making Jessen hers completely.

Jessen turned and caught the glint in Ronin's eyes, a shy smile forming on Jessen's full lips as a blush worked its way up her chest. "I'm finished, Ronin. I'm sorry, I didn't think-"

Ronin shook her head and stood up, approaching Jessen. "It's all right, My Little One. I enjoy watching yer drills, even if it does drive me insane."

Jessen raised an eyebrow. "This is the first time ye've really seen my sword drills since ye've returned, Ronin. Are ye sayin' that ya used ta get like this when ye'd watch me back then?"

Ronin nodded with a far way look in her eyes. "As soon as ye became a woman; I couldn't help it. Not after Lord Johan told me of his vision."

Jessen's other eyebrow joined its mate in her hairline. "So... all those times ye whipped, spanked or paddled me got ya all hot an' bothered?"

Ronin smiled wickedly and growled, "Ye'll find out just how hot an' bothered soon enough, so don't be tryin' to push me ta me limits now, My Little One." Jessen blushed hotly when she realized what Ronin thought she was trying to do, causing Ronin to laugh softly. "Aye, you're startin' trouble, Jessen."

Jessen started to stammer out an apology but was silenced by Ronin's lips taking possession of hers. Jessen moaned softly as Ronin's tongue entered her mouth to play with hers. Their arms wrapped around each other, and they would have continued the passionate kiss if it wasn't for Karrig's untimely interruption.

"Kersen's here, Lord Jesse." Karrig announced loudly, smirking when Ronin and Jesse jumped apart quickly.

Jessen blinked in surprise, her brain a little slow on catching up. When she realized Karrig had said Kersen was there, Jessen ran toward the castle.

Ronin glared at Karrig as they followed behind her at a brisk walk. "Thanks a lot, Karrig. First real passionate kiss we share and ye just had to interrupt it!"

Her only reply was a loud guffaw of laughter from Karrig, his shoulder shaking so violently that they had to stop walking for a moment to allow him to calm down.


Jessen fidgeted, as she grumbled, not for the first time in the last candle mark. "Why the Hades do we have ta do this shite! I hate this outfit, and I hate that I can't jest run up ta Kersen and hug 'er!"

Karrig smirked and calmly replied. "Tradition, as I've said the last twenty times that ye've asked. Now stay still so the servants can git the stupid tunic on ya!"

Jessen glared at a snickering Ronin and barked out, "Shut up, Ronin. Yer 'avin' ta do this, too! Does anyone care ta tell me why we can't dress ourselves?"

Ronin grinned. "I think Lord Johan put this tradition in place, seems like somethin' he would do."

The usually slow Jessen caught on to Ronin's meaning and snarled. "Keep yer dirty mind ta yerself, Ronin!"

Ronin shrugged. "I can't help the fact that Johan enjoyed gettin' frisked by the servants. I did'na make him that way."

Karrig sighed as the servant placed the last pendant on his tunic, rubbing at his arm where one of the pendants had previously stabbed him. "Remind me why I have to wear all of my medals?"

Jessen grinned and replied mockingly, "'cause Father said so!"

Karrig rolled his eyes and snickered when Jessen yelped when one of her own pendants pricked her skin. He looked around and surveyed Sarhen, Jessen, and Ronin's outfits. They all wore velvet capes that had their awards and other things pinned on them, the capes were the color of each of their clans with their clan symbol stitched into the backs of the capes. A circle surrounded the symbol; the ruling clan of Byron's color was the circle's background. Their pants were soft, black velvet and fit them like second skins. Their billowing cotton shirts were white with no sleeves, and they wore thigh-high black leather boots.

Ronin wore a forest green tunic, the symbol of an eagle stitched onto the back with an indigo and blue background. Karrig wore a brown tunic, his symbol that of a bear. Sarhen wore a gray tunic; his symbol was a falcon. Jessen's tunic was blue and indigo, her symbol that of a large, black panther.

Ronin gave a grunt of satisfaction when her last pendant was in place, smirking as she noticed Sarhen's gaze once more returning to the tattoos he hadn't gotten to see on her upper arms. She bore the tattoos of a Master Swordswoman on her left bicep and the symbol of an Amazon Princess on her right bicep along with the tattoos he'd all ready seen of a Master Healer, Lord Johan's Advisor, and a Master Mage on the wrist and forearm of her right arm.

Jessen sighed and stepped away from the servants when they finished with her, stretching her back with a low grunt as the vertebras popped. "All right, let's go so I can become a lady, get a permanent advisor and get my sister back!"

Ronin, Karrig and Sarhen shared a laugh as they trailed behind her.


Jessen nodded her head to the villagers and clan members surrounding the dais as she stepped onto it with Ronin, Sarhen and Karrig following. "Thank ye all fer bein' here."

Jessen waited for the crowd to become quiet once again before she continued. "I'm not much for pomp and ceremony as you all know, so I'll just say what we're here for. I'm taking back my given name, and the title of Lady. The time for Lord Jesse has passed, and hopefully I'll never have to become that woman again."

Jessen smiled softly at the shouts of encouragement from the women in the crowd. "I'm glad ye approve. We'll also be welcoming Advisor Ronin as my official advisor, there's no other I'd rather take the position." Jessen looked to her right at Ronin and grinned at the slight blush covering Ronin's face that she was sure only she could appreciate when the crowd shouted their approval.

Jessen nodded her head to the group of warriors standing at the back of the parted crowd and smiled as she got her first look at Kersen in nearly nine years. Kersen's blonde hair had grown to be as curly as Jessen's had been before she'd cut it off, and Kersen's crystal blue eyes sparkled with intelligence. Kersen's face lit up when she looked up at Jessen; she surprisingly stayed in between the warriors whom were escorting her, though Jessen could see her excitement.

When Kersen was helped onto the dais, Jessen gave her next to the last announcement before wrapping her arms around Kersen in a tight hug. "Also, we'll be gladly accepting my sister; Kersen's return to Byron."

Kersen returned the fierce hug, smiling softly at the tears trailing down Jessen's cheeks. "Don't cry, Jess. I'm home, I won't leave again."

Jessen smiled through her tears at the softly spoken words, her heart swelling with pride, happiness, and thankfulness. "I love ya, Kersie." Jessen looked over her shoulder at Ronin, grinning at the stoic expression on Ronin's face, "Thank you, Ronin; fer bringin' yerself and my sister home to me where ye both belong."

Ronin blinked away the sudden tears those words had brought and bit her lip to stifle a sob, nodding her head in acknowledgement as her gaze silently promised to thank Jessen in private much later. Ronin allowed herself to calm down some before she walked to where Jessen knelt with her arms still around Kersen. Ronin assisted Jessen up and took both Jessen and Kersen's hands in her own.

Jessen grinned down at Kersen and then glanced up at Ronin with a twinkle in her eyes as she made the last announcement; without glancing away from Ronin's dark green eyes. "Last but not least in my eyes, Advisor Ronin and meself will be joined this spring."

Kersen squealed with happiness and wrapped her arms around Ronin and Jessen's thighs in as best a hug as she could give considering the height difference between the three of them. The crowd of family and villagers gathered around the dais shouted and screamed their approval as Jessen and Ronin kissed softly. Sarhen and Karrig whistled and clapped along with the rest of the crowd, the warriors giving out lewd shouts of encouragement and suggestions.


Ronin smiled lecherously as she closed Jessen's door behind them, then pinned Jessen against the door. She gazed into Jessen's eyes as she murmured, "Alone at last."

Jessen blushed at the suggestive tone, and smiled shyly. "Can we not go too far tonight?"

Ronin's eyebrow raised and she trailed a finger down Jessen's cheek as she leaned in to whisper hotly in Jessen's ear, "How far is too far, My Little One?"

Jessen bit her lip to stifle a moan, and then she squeaked when Ronin's sharp teeth nipped at her pulse point. "Uh... Um, Ronin; I can't think with ye doin' tha'."

Ronin chuckled and whispered huskily. "That's a good thing, Jessen."

Jessen chuckled nervously, pushing against Ronin's shoulder. She sighed with relief when Ronin backed away. Her eyes nervously darted away from Ronin's and she gazed at the floor as she spoke. "I want us ta wait 'til our joinin' night ta make love, Ronin."

Ronin stepped back into Jessen's space, her hand cupping Jessen's chin to force eye contact. "I understand, Jessen. I really do. I know Lady Katherine taught ye ta wait 'til yer weddin' night, as me own mother did me."

Jessen furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. "Ye've been with other women, Ronin."

Ronin kissed Jessen lightly on the forehead. "Aye, but they've never entered me."

Jessen looked up at Ronin, her eyes tearing up. "Will I?"

Ronin smiled softly. "Ye can do anythin' ye want when our weddin' night comes. I may seem ta be darin', but I do take me mother's words seriously as I'm afraid she'll come after me with a belt if I don't."

Jessen grinned at the thought of Ronin getting a spanking but the grin disappeared as her gaze turned questioning. "I don't know what ta do, Ronin. Teach me?"

Ronin leaned down and placed a passionate kiss on Jessen's mouth in reply. Both women moaned as their tongues glided around each other. Ronin tugged at cloak tunic until it came off, then she tugged Jessen's shirttail out of her britches. Jessen followed Ronin's example and they undressed each other slowly.

When they were naked, Ronin pulled away from the kiss and stepped back so they could take each other in more than they had in the past. Their hearts were pounding in their chests from rising desire. Ronin's eyes hungrily took in the sight of Jessen's firm, muscular body with an increase in Ronin's wetness dripping from her pussy. Jesse's lower abdomen bore the lord of Byron's symbol, the intricate swirling design taking up only four inches of skin in all directions. Jessen's skin was a light golden tan, the curls at the apex of her thighs the same dark blonde as the hair on Jessen's head. The tips of Jessen's firm, round breasts were a light pink color, the areolas only slightly darker than the nipples.

Jessen was doing her own appreciative gazing, taking in every inch of Ronin's olive-toned, muscular, tall body. Ronin's nipples were a golden-brown, the areolas just a little darker. Ronin's right nipple was pierced with a silver hoop. Jessen's gaze traveled lower, past Ronin's rippling abdominal muscles to Ronin's raven black curls. A low moan escaped Jessen's parted lips, surprising herself and Ronin.

Ronin chuckled huskily and her eyes, nearly black with desire, swept up to meet Jessen's gaze. She kept their gazes locked as she approached Jessen; idly noting the violet color both of Jessen's eyes had turned. She smiled softly as she recognized the look, having seen it before but not commented upon it. "I love the way yer eyes turn violet when yer aroused, My Little One. I can't wait 'til I can see it more often."

Jessen blushed and gave a shy smile, she lifted her hand up to place it upon Ronin's chest when Ronin stopped in front of her. She tilted her head up to meet Ronin's descending lips in a kiss hot with their desire for one another. A soft whimper escaped Jessen when Ronin picked her up and carried them to the bed.

Ronin settled them beneath the sheets and kissed her way down Jessen's throat and chest, pausing to nip, suck and or lick at spots that interested her. When she reached Jessen's nipples, she grinned and took one into her mouth, suckling it like a newborn for several moments. She then nipped at it softly, licking it when it brought the desired yelp from Jessen. She continued to do this until Jessen was squirming, only to switch to the other nipple to repeat the process. She felt her own center clenching in sympathy at the moans and whimpers leaving Jessen breathless.

Jessen moaned and tugged at Ronin's long black hair with both hands. "Please... Ronin... I need... Goddess, I don't... know... what I need!"

Ronin released the nipple she'd been torturing and moved so that she lay on top of Jessen, her right thigh pressing into Jessen's wet cunt. She smiled in satisfaction at the low groan of relief it caused as she lowered her own dripping wet pussy onto Jessen's muscular thigh. She positioned her elbows on either side of Jessen's head and leaned in to kiss Jessen as she began thrusting her hips, forcing her thigh to rub into Jessen's pussy.

Jessen pumped her hips into Ronin's thrusts, causing her own thigh to grind into Ronin with every movement they made. The room was filled with the heady scent of their combined arousal. The sound of their harsh breathing, their moans, grunts and Ronin's low growls echoed off the walls of Jessen's bedchambers.

Ronin felt her clit pulsing in time with the clenching of her pussy and broke the kiss, her gaze locked with Jessen's and she panted. "I love you, Jessen."

Jessen's nails dug into Ronin's back when Jessen's fingers gripped at Ronin's lightly damp skin, her reply coming out as a long moan as her eyes closed tightly. "I love you, too!"

Jessen felt as if her body was climbing toward something, the sensation filled her with a sense of confusion and yet her body was begging, pleading with Jessen to just let go. Jessen's fearful eyes re-opened to gaze up at Ronin in question.

Ronin leaned her head down and her lips brushed Jessen's ear as she whispered, her own orgasm rapidly approaching. "Let go, Jessen. That's it; just let it go fer me."

Jessen's back arched as the sensation of falling from somewhere up high filled her and she screamed out her release, "RONIN!"

Ronin's own orgasm exploded through her body when she heard her name exit Jessen's lips, she growled her release into Jessen's sweat-slicked neck. "Goddess, Jessen!"

Ronin's body weakly dropped onto Jessen when only a few shocks of orgasm still coursed through her. Jessen held Ronin tightly, her body still shaking from the intense release. When Ronin regained her senses, she pulled up to look down into Jessen's tear streaked face. She quickly wiped the tears away. "Are ye all right, Jessen?"

Jessen smiled softly through her tears at Ronin's concern. "I'm fine, Ronin. That was intense, though."

Ronin nodded and moved to Jessen's side, then pulled Jessen into her arms to cuddle as she quietly replied. "It was fer me, too, Jessen."


Six months later (spring):

Ronin stood on the dais, her gaze pinned to the end of the carpet trailing up toward the dais. She paid no attention to the family, friends, villagers, clans, or the warriors in the large crows, her dark green eyes filled with unshed tears were on the beautiful vision Jessen made. Jessen wore an outfit made of the finest silks Ronin could find through the traders, the outfit had a long light blue top that split in the front up to her waistline. The pants were indigo, and they fit Jessen perfectly.

Ronin's tears trailed down her cheeks, as did Jessen's as they both had the same thought. 'We made it, despite everything. Never did I think I would make it ta this point.'

Karrig escorted Jessen up to the dais, softly handing Jessen's hand to Ronin with a nod of respect from both of them. Once Karrig had returned to his seat, Jessen grinned down at Kersen whom had been the flower girl before returning her attention back to Ronin's dark green eyes.

With soft smiles on their lips, Ronin and Jessen turned to the druid whom had agreed to do this ceremony for them. They nodded in unison for the druid to begin, their gazes moving back to each other. Neither really paid much attention to her words until it came time for them to speak their vows.

Ronin smiled softly and spoke. "When I first came ta Lord Johan about the position of advisor, he had a vision. It was of our wedding, and I have to say that I'm glad he told me. Jessen, yer some one whom has always had a hold on my heart from the very first time I saw ye. Thank ye fer givin' me the honor of bein' yer friend, yer love, yer confidant, yer advisor, yer champion, and now yer life mate. I love you, My Little One."

Jessen cleared her throat softly, and then she sighed. "I love you, too, Ronin. Ye've been all those things ta me an' so much more, Ronin; and I'm glad it was you whom has been there fer me, even in yer absence. It was, is, and always will be you when the day comes ta an end. Yer return ta Byron was not only Byron's salvation; it was also mine, and what a sweet salvation it was. Thank ye fer bein' my every thing. I hope ye'll allow me ta be all those things ta you, too, My Heart."

The druid concluded the ceremony, and neither needed the encouragement to kiss. Jessen leaned up, her lips meeting Ronin's softly in a loving kiss. It was unhurried, and both hoped that it gave the other an idea of what this day meant to them.

Ronin pulled back from the kiss, to gaze into Jessen's blue and indigo eyes. With soft smiles on their lips, both turned and walked toward the crowd of well wishers waiting for them as they always would; together.