The characters in the story are a product of my own imagination and hopefully have no resemblance to any living persons.
Sex: This piece is rated 18 and contains sex. Please, if you are not old enough to read this, move on to something more appropriate.
Acknowledgements: This story is dedicated all the women out there who are still searching for the One.
To my beta, rleef, thank you for making me look good. All other typos are mine and for that I apologize.
Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated, so feel free to drop me a line or two at email@example.com .
The Year 1112
“You look troubled, daughter. What is it with you today?” Lima Peron's blue eyes were tender as they rested on her daughter's bowed dark head. She loved her daughter with all her heart and would do anything to ensure her happiness. But she had never felt as helpless as she did these past three days. Since the return of the Royal Army, her daughter had been in a constant state of depression. She had asked her about it every morning before they left for their positions at the Royal Palace, but her daughter had been tightlipped every time.
“I am well, mother,” Orla managed with a forced smile as she tried to finish her breakfast gruel as quickly as she could so she wouldn't be late for her work. Whereas her mother worked as a chambermaid, she was employed as the blacksmith and temporary stable master. She really enjoyed her work, the exertion and sense of completions she got after a long day was what made it all worthwhile. She loved it when the sweat dripped off her muscled frame and her muscles ached after numerous hammer blows as she made and repaired swords, horse shoes, and farming implements. But now she was not so eager to get to work anymore. The return of the Army spoiled it for her.
“You are a poor liar, Orla. I know something has been bothering you since the return of the Royal Army. What is it that happened, my child?”
“It is really nothing, mother. Now, hurry up or else we will be late.”
Lima shook her head and quickly finished her tea. She knew her daughter well enough to know that Orla will only talk when she was ready. She would give her a rest for now.
“We can NOT afford to lose her, Sterling, so please, I beg you to not get involved this time.” Her Royal Highness the Queen Mesmeria, sternly looked at her daughter. Looking at her wayward daughter as she circled the small pond, Mesmeria knew that what she had just said surely went in the one ear and out the other delicate ear. She took note of the tall, svelte frame of her daughter as she intently stalked the fish in the pond. When she had given birth to her daughter twenty five years ago, she and her partner were so excited when they found that they were now the proud parents of a gorgeous red headed baby girl. Growing up they had watched with pride as their little angel grew into this strong, tall warrior. Sterling was a quick study and even before her 17 th birthday she was the best archer and tactician in the whole kingdom, a feat which earned her the position as Commander of the Royal Army. It was really good to have Sterling back at the Palace after an absence of six years. As Commander of the Army she had to leave home at age 19 for the Northern Wastelands where the Army had been battling keep the Hurians, a bloodthirsty, pagan tribe from crossing over into the Kingdom of Karas. During her six year absence, the Queen had experienced some nervy moments. On more than two occasions, her daughter had been injured in the line of duty and every time she had tried to lure her back to the Kemble, the seat of the Royals, but every time her stubborn daughter had refused to obey her order.
About three months ago, her messenger came from the Wastelands with the news that the Hurians had been defeated and driven deeper into the arid depths of the Huria Desert. Leaving a smaller, but well-armed contingent behind, the Princess had finally decided to return home. Mesmeria had three months to arrange a victorious home-coming for her daughter. Dignitaries from far-off provinces travelled long distances to Kemble to have their first sight of the Royal Princess after an absence of six years and also to congratulate her on ending a war which had been raging for close to fifty years.
No one was prepared for their first sight of the Royal Princess, including her own mother. Gone were the blushing, gangly teenager and in her place was a tall, intense, flint-eyed warrior. The square was packed as the lithe Princess swung out of her saddle and walked over to where Mesmeria had been waiting for her. Engulfed in a strong embrace, she had heard a soft chuckle escape her daughter's lips.
“It is great to feel you so near again, mother.”
Mesmeria had stared into the hard eyes of her daughter and it was then that it struck her. In the past six years, Sterling had seen enough death and pain to last her a lifetime. The silver eyes were hardened by what the fragile soul had to experience, but there was an acute sense of loneliness in those angel eyes too. It was clear to her that Sterling has returned home for a reason, but what? Since her return she had tried subtly to delve deeper into the issue, but to no avail.
Her daughter had been cool and somewhat distant throughout the celebrations, smiling when expected, but Mesmeria could see that her daughter, although happy to be back home and being surrounded by her mother, was still looking for something … someone. She had watched as her daughter has slipped out of the Great Hall. A servant informed her that the Princess was in the stable looking in on her horse. She knew how important a horse is to a warrior, in a life to death battle; man and beast become one, depending on each other, keeping each other alive. So, she let her daughter be to visit with her beast. But when she didn't return after almost two candle marks, she sent her partner to bring back their daughter.
Sterling had returned; her eyes bright and in obvious good spirits. Stunned by the sudden change, she had tried to corner her partner to ask about their daughter's sudden good mood, but they never got a chance to find time alone. Later when the Palace had quieted down, she had turned to her partner and staring into silver eyes so like Sterling's, skillfully coaxed the truth from her.
Sterling had met the blacksmith in the stables and was instantly drawn to the quiet, shy woman. She had met the blacksmith on a few occasions, but the large, muscled woman was so painfully shy that it had been difficult to engage her in conversation. But one thing she knew about the woman, was that she was a master at manipulating steel. She was the best sword maker in all of the kingdom and beyond. Aside from her skill, she was also a very hardworking and honest woman. Cybralle always spoke about the woman with great admiration and she believed that her partner was a great judge of character and because of that, she didn't want Sterling to upset the woman's life. What Sterling didn't know was that she was well aware of her daughter's exploits over the past six years. Rumors had reached her ears about how many women her daughter had taken to her bed and then discarded without a second thought. She couldn't let her daughter use and hurt the daughter of her most loyal servant, Lima.
There was a sudden splash and shocked out of her reverie, she saw her daughter holding up a medium sized fish in both her hands. The silver eyes were burning bright with victory. Before she could speak, a deep voice sounded.
“Those fish were a gift from the King of Arnat and are very difficult to capture in the wild. You must be a great warrior to have managed that.”
Mesmeria turned towards the speaker and felt a warm glow start in the pit of her stomach at the sight of her life mate. The sharp silver eyes found and held hers in a tender gaze. With an inaudible purr her eyes raked over the tall, muscular body of Cybralle, the love of her life.
She had met the warrior while attending a wedding celebration of another Royal Princess in a neighboring kingdom. At age eighteen, she was still so unsure of who her parents expected her to choose for a mate and had stopped searching for a suitable mate. Just as soon as her entourage had crossed the border into the Kingdom of Arnat, a welcoming party was sent out to escort them safely to Erfolk, the Royal seat of Arnat. She was immediately fascinated by the dark warrior who quickly came over to introduce himself. He went down on one knee and bowed low as he introduced himself. It was his silver eyes which held her spellbound. They were like quicksilver pools as they regarded her calmly. Yes, it was love at first sight. Even later when she questioned her friend, Liblet, the newlywed about the dark warrior and found out that he was in fact a she . Even with that knowledge, she still couldn't rein in her heart. She kept her eyes on the warrior as she had sat at a table with her men as they enjoyed the royal celebrations. Slightly tipsy from the heady spiced wine, she had followed the warrior out to the balcony of the Palace. There she had blatantly seduced the stunned warrior. Five weeks later, her parents travelled to Arnat to ask the king for his most illustrious warrior's hand in marriage. Three months later at the Circle Moon's Fertility Dance, her warrior had come to her in the dead of the night with the Spear of the Gods and her seed had caught. Twenty five years later, they were still madly in love … no … passionately in love.
Cybralle slowly walked over to where their daughter stood, now grinning as she looked at the gleaming fish.
“Unless you want to take me on in a swordfight at daybreak tomorrow, you better put my gift back into the pond, daughter,” she said with twinkling eyes.
Mesmeria looked at the two most important women in her life. Oh, how similar they were, not as much in looks so much, but in everything else. Whereas Cybralle had short graying raven locks, Sterling's were a long and a dark coppery color. But their personalities were a sure match.
With a soft splash, Sterling released the fish and turned to at the dark warrior.
“Even at your age, you are still the most formidable swordsman in the four kingdoms, Umah.”
Mesmeria grinned. Sterling preferred to always call her mother by the ancient name of ‘mother' to distinguish between her two mothers. When she was younger the sound of it always melted her warrior's heart. By the look of it, it still did. Cybralle's eyes were tender as they looked at their daughter.
“I came looking for the two of you because the noon meal will be served soon. I do not know about you, but I am starving. Come on, let me escort you two.”
Mesmeria felt her mate's lips brush over her hair as she pulled her towards the open balcony doors. She quickly stopped and turned around to face her daughter.
“Our conversation is not over, daughter. We will continue our conversation while we eat.” She almost smiled at the sour look that came over her daughter's face.
Pushing sweaty locks out of her eyes, Orla dropped the spade and reached for the water skin to take a long draught. She closed her eyes as the cool liquid rushed down her parched throat, spreading its coolness as it went down. After a while she pulled the water skin away. Hearing a soft sound coming from behind her made her turn quickly on her heel. The water skin dropped to the ground relinquishing its cool, liquid treasure as it soaked into the packed dirt of the stables. Her eyes were wide as they stared at the newcomer.
Remembering who was standing before her, she quickly dropped to a knee, her eyes averted.
“Your Highness, how can I be of service to you?”
There was a short silence.
“Please, rise. I wish to talk to you.”
Orla quickly stood, but kept her eyes fixed on the dirt floor. She waited patiently for the Princess to speak and when after a few minutes the Princess had not said anything, she slowly raised her head to look at the tall redhead. She sucked in her breath when she saw the silver eyes looking at her calmly.
“Your Highness …?”
“Sterling. My name is Sterling.”
Orla felt herself blush as she fidgeted with her hands. How could the woman expect her to call her by her name? She could get twenty lashes for doing that.
“Would you like to go for a walk with me, Blacksmith?”
Orla bowed low. She knew she had a load of work to get done today, but she couldn't refuse the future Queen of Karas. “As milady wishes.”
She heard a loud sigh and found the Princess looking at her with an exasperated look on her face.
“Listen carefully, Blacksmith, and do not ever try to play the fool with me again. You know exactly why I seek you out. Have you thought about my proposition?”
The silver eyes were intense as they looked at her, making Orla squirm at the unblinking stare. The war hero had strolled into the stables on the night of her return, leaving the festivities behind. Orla was busy grooming the warrior's warhorse, fascinated by the magnificent, intelligent beast. She mused how it would take an extraordinary beast to take her Princess into war and bring her back safely. To be honest she had been spoiling the horse, giving him an extra helping of oats and personally brushing it down, all the while humming softly to the giant, black stallion. She was so absorbed in her task that she hadn't heard the Princess enter and lean in the doorway to the stall.
Sensing the change in the horse, just before he pushed forward, she had looked up to see the tall, redhead staring at her with an odd look in her silver eyes. She had quickly fallen to a knee, waiting for the Princess to issue her demands, but nothing came forth. Instead, the Princess had gently patted her horse and whispered something in his ears, making the horse sniff and take a slow step backwards to nudge Orla with his head prompting her to come to her feet. She was surprised by the stoic beast's sudden playfulness.
The Princess has stepped into the stall to come and stand directing in front of her. The Royal was tall, but Orla still topped her by a head and outweighed her by far. She had kept her eyes averted, but a callous fingertip under her dented chin had slowly lifted her head, until her pale blue eyes met shocked silver ones. The dazed look hadn't left the Princess' eyes the longer she had stared into hers. Instead, they had travelled over her face at a leisure pace as if trying to burn her features onto her memory. She had just stood there, allowing the Princess to look her fill. After a few minutes of complete silence, Orla could hear her own heart beating loudly in her ears as the Princess'eyes darkened until they were a stormy grey. With a soft sigh, the Princess had almost stumbled away from her.
“At last, I have found you.” She had reached out, but not far enough to touch her. Her fingertips stopped a few centimeters away from cheek. “You will not escape me ever again, Blacksmith. You will be my mine and I will be your most loyal servant.”
With that the Warrior Princess had left the stables, leaving Orla stunned and anxious. She had heard enough rumors about the Princess to know that she had just become another potential conquest for her raging lusts.
Now, here she was back again, her silver eyes glowing with an inner fire which made cold sweat break out on her skin, although her body was overheated from assisting the grooms in mucking out the stalls.
The Princess took a step forward and Orla steeled herself not to take a step backwards. For a hardened warrior the Princess smelled of freshly squeezed rose petals.
“I was serious, you know.” The silver eyes were tender as they looked at her. “I want you and I plan on having you.” A long finger slowly traced a strong jaw line. “I know you are scared, dearling. I want you to know that I am scared too. I am scared that you would not want me and that you will fight against our destiny.”
Orla felt a soft shudder race through her body as the Royal stepped closer and closer until her body was lightly brushing against hers. The red head tilted up and Orla watched in stunned fascination as the Princess lifted her hand and hooked it behind her sweat soaked raven hair and pulled her head down. She stiffened when she felt the Royal's breath on her lips and steeled herself for what she knew was about to happen. Through heavy-lidded eyes, she watched the beautiful full lips closing in on hers.
The first touch of their lips was magical.
Sterling felt the air rush out of her lungs as her lips touched those of the Blacksmith. She felt a soft glow starting in the pit of her stomach and reveled in it as it moved upwards until it settled around her heart. She pressed closer to the blacksmith's body and inhaled deeply when she felt a soft shiver run though the muscled frame. She was indeed the One, her heart was telling her that and the reaction from the timid woman was also proof of it.
“I will love you with all my heart if you allow me to be the one to own your heart,” she whispered against the soft lips before she kissed Orla again. This time she poured everything into the single kiss, her desire for this gentle giant and the hope that she too would feel the invisible link between the two of them, their destiny. She pushed her hands into the raven tresses, caressing the woman's scalp as her tongue poured into the soft, warm mouth stealing the blacksmith's ability to think straight.
They both came up for breath, gasping as they leaned into each other. Sterling lifted her head of the broad chest of the dark haired woman and stared at her with dazed grey eyes.
“I would like to court you. Please tell me it will be okay?”
Sterling felt her heart drop when the dark head lowered. She held her breath as the woman just stared at her feet for a long while, her broad shoulders heaving as she breathed deeply. Just when she thought the woman was not going to speak, the dark head lifted and she stared into the pale blue eyes.
“I have only tasted cake once in my life before, milady. I have never been outside the walls of this city and I have never been kissed before … before now. I am a very simple woman, Your Highness. I have never wanted or craved for more in my life; because I have never known better than what I am used to. I am too simple to be more than what I am now, Your Highness.”
The pale eyes stared straight into Sterling's, making sure that the meaning behind the words were not mistaken.
“Orla …” She saw the shock on the handsome face of the woman. “What is the matter?”
“I was not aware that you know my name, Your Highness.”
Sterling smiled warmly. “I have known it since the first night we met. One of the grooms gave it to me.” She stepped closer again and slipped her arms around the strong frame. “It is such a beautiful name. I hope that one day when we have our own little one that we can find her one as beautiful as yours.” She felt the powerful body shudder and looked up into confused blue eyes. “Yes, my beautiful blacksmith, I would want to carry your child under my heart where my love for you shall reside for all eternity.”
She sealed her promise with a deep kiss before stepping back, her eyes raking over the shivering form of the blacksmith. They stared at each other for a long moment before Sterling lifted her hands and cradled the strong face between her rough palms.
“Let us give it a try, Orla. Allow me to come over to your home tonight to ask for your mother's permission to court you.”
The blue eyes widened. “My… my mother?”
“Yes. Will there be a problem.” The silver eyes narrowed. “Has your mother already been approached for your hand?”
Orla quickly shook her head. “Not that I know of, Your Highness.”
Sterling smiled warmly, her eyes glowing. “Do I have your permission to meet with your mother tonight, Orla?”
A dark blush came over the blacksmith's face as she shyly looked at the beautiful woman before her. Charmed beyond words, Sterling kissed her again. This woman had the capability to enthrall her forever, she told herself as she gently delved into the soft mouth of the woman who was soon to be hers.
Cybralle gently helped her mate off the horse, her hands lingering longer than necessary. They haven't had much time alone of late. Even in the quiet of their bedchamber, the kingdom still intruded. If they weren't discussing these problems in bed, they were roused early to hold counsel with the senate to diffuse potential outbursts. Tonight however, their daughter had invited them along on a very important mission. A smiling Sterling has cornered Cybralle in her office earlier and had told her about her plans. Knowing her daughter well, she was aware that whatever she felt for this humble blacksmith was genuine. When asked to accompany her tonight she had agreed quickly and knew that she wanted her Queen there to witness a very important occasion in their daughter's life. Now here they were, standing before the humbled mud hut of the future mate of the future Queen of Karas.
“Why are we here? Where are we actually?” Mesmeria's eyes were clouded with confusion.
Cybralle bowed her head and gently caressed her mate's lips. “You will find out soon enough, dearling.”
“No more questions. Trust me on this. You will find out soon.” Hoofs sounded and she turned to face the rider. She smiled when her daughter flew out of the saddle of the still moving horse and landed gracefully before them.
“I'm so sorry for being late, but I had to run a quick errand.” She walked over to her mother and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek. Turning to the imposing dark warrior next to her mother, she grinned. “Thank you for coming, Umah. I really need your presence here with me.”
Cybralle pulled her daughter into a tight hug, her heart swelling with love. She still remembered when the small red headed toddler followed her around on the battlefield. Even then she could see that her daughter was going to be a strong, fearless warrior. There was this one time when she found her daughter in the stables, asleep in on the straw in the stall of Eragon, the fiercest horse in the kingdom. The horse stood watch over her, his powerful hooves bracketing the toddler from anyone who wanted to get to her. Eragon only relented when she stepped in to pick up her sleeping daughter, but before they'd left, the warhorse had gently pressed his snout against the sleeping toddler's cheek. Girl and beast were inseparable ever since. Looking over her daughter's shoulder now, she looked at the huge stallion stomping the ground. Orion was Eragon's son and Sterling's most trusted steed.
“Come on now. We do not want to be rude and be late.”
“Will you please tell me what we are doing here?” Mesmeria said, stepping in-between the two warriors.
Before she could be answered the door to the hut opened and soft candle light beckoned. Sterling looked at her mother with a broad smile.
“We are here to ask for Orla's hand in marriage, mother.” At Mesmeria's shocked look, Sterling's eyes warmed. “She is the One, mother. The one I have been searching for all my life.”
“But … but …”
“Please come and meet her first before you judge her, mother. I want you to meet the gentlest soul ever to grace God's earth. She will be a great mother to my children and the best spouse ever.” When her mother still looked doubtful, she looked at her mother pleadingly. “Please, mother, just give her a chance. She is shy and very anxious about all this, but I cannot afford to let her slip through my fingers. I will never be able to recover from the loss.”
Cybralle left them staring at each other and walked over to the opened doorway. She smiled at the nervous woman.
“Greetings, Orla. I believe you have been expecting us.” She smiled at the dark blush that covered the woman's handsome face. Oh, this one will definitely keep her daughter's head in the clouds for years to come.
“I would be honored if you grace our humble home with your presence, milady.” She stepped back and bowed low as she waited for the warrior to enter. She fell to her knees when the blonde Queen stepped closer followed by her daughter. “Your Majesty, welcome to our home.”
Mesmeria looked down at the dark woman, before she nodded and stepped passed her. At the entrance to the common room, she turned around, curious to see how the two ‘supposed' lovebirds interacted. She found that the blacksmith was still bowed low as she greeted her daughter. Her lips fell open when her daughter went down on one knee before her kneeling subject. She saw the woman stiffened at the uncharacteristic action by the Royal Princess.
“Greetings, precious dearling. Unless you get up and greet me like your soon-to-be betrothed, I refuse to accept your welcome.”
Mesmeria watched as the blacksmith shot to her feet and held out her hand to her daughter to gently help her to her feet. Before her stunned eyes, her headstrong daughter melted into the massive arms of the blacksmith. With a gentle hand she lifted the blacksmith's face and placed a soft kiss on the blushing blacksmith's lips. Having seen it all, she turned away, feeling as if she was intruding on a very private moment. She walked over to where Cybralle was speaking softly to a very nervous Lima. The chambermaid fell to her knees the moment the Queen entered the warm, clean common room.
“Your Majesty, welcome to my humble home.”
“Please, Lima, rise.” She put a soft hand on the older woman's shoulder. “We are here for a very joyous occasion. Just for tonight, let us meet as equals.”
Lima's eyes were wide as they met the Queen's, but she nodded slowly. “As you wish, your Majesty. We … we have made a rich stew and fresh nut bread. Would you honor my daughter and me by accepting our meager offering?”
Cybralle chuckled. “I am well aware of what a great cook you are, Lima. Of course I would be honored to dine with you.”
Mesmeria looked at her mate and smiled warmly at her. Cybralle wasn't born of royalty and many times had been invited to dine with her subjects. Not even after twenty years of wealth, had her mate forgotten her origins. She had indeed chosen well and so it seems did her daughter. The Royal House had been strengthened by Cybralle's presence and it seems that Orla would do the same. They would keep their royals partners in touch with the common man and break the walls erected generations ago. The dark head turned and laughing silver eyes met her emerald ones. Aware that Lima was waiting patiently for her acceptance, Mesmeria did the one thing she had never thought she could ever do in public. She walked over to her beautiful mate, pulled her dark head down and kissed her deeply. When she pulled back a few seconds later, she found that Sterling and Orla had joined them and they were all staring at her in stunned surprise. Looking up into the eyes of Cybralle she saw love and a hint of desire. Right there before their audience, Cybralle moved in for another kiss. This time the others looked away quickly to give them a semblance of privacy. When the Supreme Royal couple pulled apart, the others were talking in hushed tones.
Cybralle led Mesmeria over to the crude wooden table and waited until the others joined them. Orla and Lima quickly served their guests and nervously sat down to dine. A soft groan sounded from the head of the table and all eyes snapped to where the Queen sat with her eyes closed, a dreamy look on her face.
“Lima, this is simply delicious. I was unaware that you could cook so well.”
Lima blushed as she lowered her eyes. “I am sorry if I misled you to believe that I was the cook. In fact it was my daughter, Orla, who prepared dinner for us.”
Orla's face was covered by a deep red blush as she looked down into her bowl of stew.
“You have so many skills, Orla,” Cybralle noted in a gentle tone. “Not only are you the best blacksmith and swordmaker in over four kingdoms, it is obvious that you are also an excellent cook. My daughter surely is a lucky woman.”
The silence following the remark, made Cybralle quickly look at her mate. “Maybe we should not let this delicious meal go to waste by talking about why we are here now. We have enough time to do so afterwards.”
Once the meal was finished, Orla helped her mother to clear the table and serve their guest a warm spiced wine. Once the women were seated again, Cybralle turned to her daughter.
“Sterling, as future Queen of the largest kingdom in the realm, you have already exceeded the official age where you are expected to introduce your life mate to the Senate and the public. We have been lenient with you because of your position as Commander of the Royal Army. You will make a great Queen, a Warrior Queen, who will make your mother and I very proud. Today you have bestowed a great honor upon us, your parents, by asking us to come here with you tonight to beseech Lima for the hand of her daughter. What can you offer Lima in exchange for the hand of her daughter, except for the obvious?”
Cybralle watched with great pride as her daughter came to her feet and went down on one knee before the nervous chambermaid. She reached under the table and took her mate's hand in a gentle grip.
“Lima, your daughter was very honest with me earlier today. She told me that she comes from very humble beginnings and very gracefully tried to convince me to select someone more worthy of a mate for me than herself.” Sterling turned to look at the blushing woman who she was so eager to make her mate. “Her exact words were that she was too simple to be more than what she already was. But she was so wrong, Lima, she is destined for so much more. She is destined to be the woman I see every morning I open my eyes. She is destined to be the woman I bear children for. She is destined to be the one who will make my breath quicken by simply walking into a room. She is destined to be keeper of my heart.” Sterling took a deep breath and wiped at her damp eyes. “The list is so long and it will take me the whole night to tell you how wrong your daughter is in thinking she cannot be more than what is right now. I know she will need time to adapt to the changes of being the mate of a Queen, but I will be with her every step of the way. She will be loved, Lima, and she will want for nothing. I promise you.”
Cybralle had to struggle to keep her composure as she looked at her daughter and then at the quiet woman sitting with her head bowed. She watched as Orla lifted her eyes, their paleness stark against her sun darkened skin. A soft snivel caught her ears and she turned to look at her mate. Mesmeria's eyes were swimming in tears and with her hand covering her mouth she looked at her daughter, before slowly turning to look at her mate.
“Please …” Mesmeria swallowed hard. “I want the two of us to talk with Lima … alone.”
Cybralle looked at Sterling and nodded. She watched as her daughter left the room followed by the towering form of the blacksmith.
The landscape was bathed in moonlight and a soft breeze was rustling through the tree branches. Standing in complete silence, neither Sterling nor Orla were aware of how beautiful the night really was. They couldn't keep their eyes off each other.
“It might be too early to say this to you, Orla, but I love you and I meant every word that I said to your mother.”
Orla inhaled deeply before she closed the distance between them. For a long moment she just looked down into the silver eyes of the Princess.
“Please teach me how to kiss you, because I want to kiss you desperately.”
A soft, crooked smile came over Sterling's lips as she looked up in to the pale blue eyes. She nodded.
“I would love to teach you how to do that, but could we find a place to sit first. You are too tall for what I have in mind.”
Orla looked around and noticed the small bench positioned against the hut. With an unexpected move, she swung the Princess in her arms and carried her over to the bench. When she reached the bench she lowered her bulk on the small bench and positioned the Princess on her lap.
“Well, that was unexpected, but I find that I liked it. I wish to see more of this side of you,” Sterling said with a crooked smile. Her hand reached out and gently cupped Orla's cheek as she stared deeply into the beautiful blue eyes. “Now close your eyes for me and just feel what I am doing to your lips.” When the blue eyes fluttered closed, Sterling just stared at Orla's face for a moment longer, humbled by the instant trust the woman placed in her. Slowly she leaned closer and planted a soft kiss on the cleft at Orla's chin. Her lips moved up further until they encountered the soft plump lower lip which she gently sucked into her mouth. She heard a soft moan and felt her heartbeat accelerate at the sound and she closed her eyes. Bringing her teeth into play, she raked them softly over the soft fleshy lip before she lapped at it with the tip of her tongue.
Opening her eyes she was shocked to look straight into stunned blue eyes and she gasped softly, but didn't stop her gentle ministrations. Heaven forbid that Orla find out one day what the sight of her beautiful eyes did to her. She could surely use it as a very powerful weapon against her. Holding each other's gaze, Sterling pushed her tongue into Orla's mouth and it was her turn to moan at the soft spicy flavor she tasted on the blacksmith's tongue. Wanting more she leaned her body into the broad muscled chest of Orla as she savored the kiss. They both moaned at the same time and Sterling felt herself being pulled closer as two strong arms wound themselves around her and held her tightly.
The lack of air made them pull away, their lips parting with a soft, wet smack as they stared into each other's eyes.
“That … that is how I like to kiss you, my Precious,” Sterling whispered, her voice muffled from where her face was pressed into Orla's neck.
“That was very nice. Not that the other kisses lacked in anyway.”
They sat there on the bench under the moonlight and just held each other, quietly absorbing each other's nearness. It was Orla who broke the silence.
“After what you have said to my mother earlier, I find that there is no way I can fight against what you want from me. I promise you that I will try to be the best spouse to you and that I will belong to you and only you. But I promise to stand back if and when the time comes that your heart craves for another. I will treasure moments such as this one for as long as I still draw breath.”
Sterling lifted her head to look into the Orla's eyes and smiled. “I want you to know that I will love you forever and that nothing will ever make me love you any less.” She reached into her pocket and took out a beautiful golden ring. “It was a gift to me from my mothers when I left for the Wastelands. They thought I had found my true calling in life and the ring symbolized the completion of my journey.” She took the large hand in hers and kissed the long fingers. “They were wrong. It was only when I stumbled upon you in the stables four nights ago that I knew I had found my destiny. This ring is a symbol of my loyalty to you, Orla. I want you to keep it with you and look upon it every time you are in doubt of my love for you.” She pushed the ring over the small pinky of the blacksmith and smiled when it was a perfect fit. “Now I want you to help me seal this promise with a kiss.”
A huge smile lit up Orla's face, making her extraordinary eyes shine bright and transforming her dark swarthy features into a beautiful mask of happiness. For Sterling, it was the most beautiful sight ever and she stared long and hard as she tried to etch the picture in her mind.
Orla blushed under the Princess' close scrutiny and lowered her eyes quickly. A soft touch under her chin made her lift her head again and she reveled in the look of pure love on the Royal's face.
“Kiss me, my heart. Kiss me as if your life depends on it.”
Orla leaned closer and took the soft lips in a powerful, heart stopping kiss. Sterling moaned when a soft timid tongue slipped into her mouth and slowly began to caress the interior of her mouth in small, erotic licks. She threw her hands over Orla's broad shoulders, holding on tightly as she felt herself losing the ability to think and feel. She gave herself over to the magical possession of her lover. When they came up for air, Sterling was crying softly, held tightly against the blacksmith's thundering heart. They both knew instinctively that the tears were the only other way to express the bittersweet feeling of love which had taken them over.
“I only realize now that I have never really been kiss before either. You just stole my soul with that kiss, beloved.”
Orla was shivering slightly. “I do not know where that came from, Sterling. It … it just happened.”
Sterling lifted wet eyes to look into equally wet blue eyes. “It is called love, Orla, and by the feel of it, it seems as if our love is powerful enough to conquer everything.”
With a soft, intimate sigh Orla touched her forehead to Sterling's and they sat like that until the door to the hut opened and the large frame of Cybralle was silhouetted against the soft yellow light coming from inside the hut.
“You may enter now.”
Sterling marveled at Orla's strength as she effortlessly came to her feet and deposited her gently on her own feet. When she looked up at her mother, it was to see a look of surprise on the dark face. But being a woman of few words, the Royal turned away and re-entered the room.
Reaching for Orla's large hand they followed behind Cybralle.
Once the Royals had left, Lima walked over to where her daughter stood before the fireplace. She came to stand before her daughter, her eyes intense as they caressed her only child's face. With the flickering flames throwing soft shadows over her daughter's strong, handsome face, she looked just like her father. Gentro was the love of her life. They had met as youngsters playing in the large Royal garden. He was tall and broad shouldered for his age with a head full of straight raven hair and the most beautiful ghostly blue eyes. They had been married for almost ten years before they were granted their daughter. But Gentro never held her in his arms. She was still pregnant with Orla when Gentro enlisted in the Royal Army, hoping to earn more money to take better care of his family. He never made it back from the Wastelands. Then came his daughter, a spitting image of her father, even larger than him and with the most gentle soul she had ever experienced in another being.
For nineteen summers she had taken care of this extraordinary child she had borne and everyday her heart has swelled with love and pride as her daughter grew into a magnificent human being. She had never shown any interest in a mate and had always joked that they were destined to grow old together, but tonight changed it all. A very powerful woman had gone down on one knee before her and had pledged her heart and soul to her daughter. It was not so much what she had said, but the look in those intense silver eyes when she'd laid her heart bare before her. She'd always known that her daughter was too special to get married to a poor pig farmer and die early in childbirth. Lucky for them both, the men folk in the city where very much intimidated by her daughter's size and tried to befriend her instead of seeking more.
“What is troubling you, mother?”
Lima was brought back to the present by the soft question and the questioning blue eyes.
“I believe I asked you the same question just yesterday morn,” Lima murmured with a soft smile, slipping her arms around her daughter's slender waist. “It was Princess Sterling who was the problem then, or not?”
The blue eyes lit up at the mention of the Princess' name and Lima was glad that she had trusted her instinct and the knowledge she had of her daughter when she had discussed the marriage pact with the Supreme Royal couple. When her daughter stormed into the house earlier tonight, her eyes wild and her whole body shaking, she was scared to death that something terrible had befallen her daughter. It was only when after she had calmed down a little that she got the story out of Orla. The Royals were coming over tonight to ask for Orla's hand in marriage. Stunned, she had fallen into a nearby chair.
“What kind of joke is this, Orla?”
“No joke, mother. They will be here around dinner time. I think we have to prepare something for them to eat.”
She had jumped out of the chair and had grabbed her nervous daughter by the hand and had sat her down.
“What are you not telling me?”
Those unsettling blue eyes had looked deep into hers. “I am scared, mother. She says she loves me, but I am so scared because she can have any woman in all the kingdoms.”
“Did you tell her that?”
“I have tried, but she begged me to give her … us a chance and then she asked me if she could come and meet with you tonight to ask for my hand.”
“What do you want me to say to them, daughter?”
The blue eyes had shot full of tears at that. “I do not know, mother. You are a very good judge of character. You will know if she is genuine in her feelings for me. Answer them as if it is your hand that they seek.”
“Do you love her, daughter?”
“I do not know her, mother, but … but … she is so nice to me and gentle. She smiles a lot when she looks into my eyes and then sometimes she has this really beautiful look in her eyes when she looks at me.”
She had stared long at her daughter and watched her as she fidgeted with the hands in lap. It was a very difficult situation to be in, she had thought then. She could disregard her daughter's happiness and have her become the second most powerful woman in the realm once the Princess becomes Queen. Or she could take her daughter's feeling and happiness in consideration and take a stand against the Royals and refuse them.
As she stood here in front of her daughter, she was relived and happy that she had followed her heart when she'd made the choice.
“Your face lights up at the sound of her name, Orla. What changed between the two of you while you were waiting outside?”
The blue eyes flashed and a tender smile formed on Orla's lips. “I fell in love with her.”
Lima clasped her hands over her chest and closed her eyes. All her doubts were resolved. The match was one made in heaven.
“I am so happy to hear that, Orla, because I feared that the Princess was the only one truly in love.”
Orla looked down into her mother's eyes and grinned. “For a while there she was.”
Lima playfully slapped her daughter's arm and chuckled.
“What did she do to make you fall in love with her? It must have been something very profound.”
Orla blushed lightly, but the smile stayed on her face. “I asked her to teach me how to kiss her and she did.” She held up her hand and the flames bounced off the gold ring on her pinky. “Then she gave me this as a symbol that I am and always will be her one and only. That was when I kissed her and …” the blush returned. “…the stars fell from the sky and the earth gave this big heaving sigh.”
Lima dropped her face in her hands as tears leaked through her fingers. Orla was going to be fine. The union was one forged by the Great One. They will be so happy together.
“Mother…? Are you …?”
“Yes, I am crying.”
Orla gently pulled her mother's hands from her face. “But why?”
“I am crying because my daughter has found her soulmate. I am so happy for you, my child, so very happy.”
There was a soft knock on the door and Lima quickly dried her tears as she went to greet their guest. Her eye widened when she opened the door and found the Princess standing on her doorstep. This was a sight she was going to have to get used to she realized suddenly. She noticed that the Princess was nervously fidgeting with a cloth sack she held in her hand. The longer she stared at the woman the more nervous she seemed to get and it was then that it finally sunk in who her guest was. She quickly dropped to her knee and gasped when the Princess followed the movement until they were on eye level.
“Please, do not do that when we are alone, Lima.”
On shaky legs she came to her feet and stepped back so that the Royal could enter. Watching over the Princess' shoulder, she saw her daughter quickly coming to her feet, a sheepish look on her face. Not taking her eyes off the couple she pushed the door shut, eager to see how they interacted.
For a long moment they just looked at each other and then Orla opened her arms and the Princess rushed into them. Their arms were wound tightly around each other as they stood there in a loving embrace. Orla's dark cheek resting on the auburn head of the Princess.
“I could not sleep without seeing your face one last time, beloved. I wanted to make sure this night was not a dream,” the Princess murmured softly as she placed a soft kiss on Orla's lips.
“I am really glad to see you again. I was looking at the flames and all I could see was the way your hair shines under the sun when you are on the training ground with the warriors. It looks like burnished copper,” Orla said softly as she stared into the beautiful silver eyes. “You are so beautiful.”
Lima was surprised by her daughter unexpected eloquence. She was usually too shy to get a compliment past her lips. With a final look at the two of them, she quietly walked to her bedroom and closed the door behind her. Her part was done in this. Now it was up to the two of them to cement their fragile love.
Noticing Lima's departure, Orla placed her large hands on Sterling's hips and lifted her effortlessly from the ground so that they were eye to eye. Their lips met gently at first, but after a few seconds deepened until Orla was forced to lean against the table to prevent her legs from giving out.
“I love the way you kiss me, my Precious,” Sterling whispered against Orla's lips. “I swear I will never tire of your kisses.”
Orla grinned and sucked Sterling's lower lip into her warm mouth, just as the Princess had done to her earlier. She moaned softly at the silky texture in her mouth and deepened the kiss again. It was only when their lungs were protesting from the lack of air that they pulled apart. Orla gently lowered Sterling to her feet and pushed a trembling hand through her hair.
Heavy-lidded silver eyes stared up at the agitated woman as a sly smile formed on her lips. Orla's innocence was so refreshing to behold. She doubted the young woman knew what was happening to her body. Sterling reached out her hands and cradled Orla's face between them.
“You are experiencing desire, my love, so do not fret too much. It will be over again soon.”
With childlike innocence in eyes, Orla nodded and closed her eyes.
“What will happen if it does not go away by itself?”
Sterling felt her stomach quiver at the soft question and she stood on tip-toe to place a soft kiss on the soft lips. “Believe me; I know of a number of ways on how to make it go away,” she murmured and looked pointedly at her lover. She knew exactly when Orla grasped the meaning of what she had just said. A blush came over the younger woman's face and she quickly averted her eyes. Sterling cocked her head and bent her knees so that she could look into the flustered face. “It is fine, my love, we will not be doing any of that before we are wed. I want everyone to know that you mean more to me than just that.”
They embraced again, holding onto each other tightly.
“I have brought you something, dearling,” Sterling whispered as she looked up into the tender blue eyes of Orla. “But first you will have to close your eyes and let go of me so that I can go get your gift.”
There was a sudden flash of panic in the blue eyes. “Are you leaving now?”
“No, love, I brought it with me when I came over here.” She pointed to the cloth sack lying on the floor. “There it is, you see.” She walked over, retrieved the bag and came back to the table. “Could you take a chair and push it closer to the fire. We can sit together and talk for a while.”
Orla quickly pulled a chair closer and once seated she held out her arms for Sterling. She guided the Princess to sit comfortably on her lap. Orla pushed her nose into the fiery locks and inhaled deeply. She just loved the way the princess smelled, like gently crushed rose pedals.
“What are you hoping to learn by sniffing me, Precious One?” Sterling asked, amused.
“You smell wonderful. Like roses.”
“Thank you, sweeting. I have just the perfect scent for you when we take our first bath together …” Sterling felt Orla stiffen and giggled. “… as a married couple. I will not dare take advantage of you before then.” Orla chuckled nervously and Sterling placed a soft reassuring kiss on her cheek. “Even after our vows are spoken and you are still not comfortable with having me take you to our marital bed, I promise you that I will wait until you tell me otherwise.”
Orla looked into the serious silver eyes and sighed softly. “I am not sure what I want sometimes.”
Sterling sat up straighter, her eyes hooded as she cocked her head to look directly into Orla's stormy eyes.
“What about me? Are you sure that you want me at least?”
Orla's mouth fell open at the question, her eyes almost pale in shock.
“Why … why do you ask me that, Sterling? Why would I not want you? I fell in love with you tonight while we were sitting on the bench outside.” She smiled when she saw the open relief on the Princess' face. “Even now … I am falling deeper and deeper in love.”
Sterling exhaled slowly and rubbed over her wet eyes. She wasn't even aware that she was crying.
“Good to know, beloved.” She rummaged in the bag, but look up quickly. “It is the best of all the good news I have received today. I am very happy.”
Orla smiled. “Is it not my duty as your soon-to-be spouse to make and keep you happy, your Highness?”
Sterling placed a lingering kiss on Orla's lips. “Yes, Precious, I believe it is both our duty to keep each other happy. Now close your eyes for it is my turn to make you happy.”
The blue eyes fluttered closed and tempted, Sterling stole another kiss before reaching into the bag. She looked down at the item in her hand and placed a soft kiss on the top before she held it to her lover's lips.
“Open your mouth, my love. Yes … a little wider. Good. Here it comes. Bite down.”
She watched as Orla followed her instructions and then she sat back and waited patiently for the reaction. She didn't have to wait long. The blue eyes snapped open and looked at her with childlike wonder.
“Cake!” A few crumbs escaped her lips and Sterling smiled tenderly when Orla began to hunt them down not wanting to waste any of the delicious treat.
“Leave them. I brought you more than enough and even some for your mother.” She saw a piece of raspberry stuck on Orla's upper lip and using her tongue, wiped the piece from her lover's lips. She almost burst out in laughter at the confused and utterly indecisive look in the beautiful blue eyes. She caressed Orla's bulging cheeks with her hand and shook her head. “It is fine, my dear. For now I will let the cakes enjoy your complete attention, but only until you have eaten your last one. Then I would like you to thank me properly.”
The blue eyes melted as they looked into hers and a short nod followed. Almost immediately the large hand delved into the bag. She watch tenderly as her lover rushed through the cakes. She pushed her hand through the short dark hair and smiled. She would make sure that Orla will want for nothing ever again.
To be continued...
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