Clapping his hands he completed the meeting of sovereign lords as they dispersed, tending to the various tasks appointed to them. It was a war-time, as it had been for many years. They were running ragged in need of an end to the war. It was obvious from the scattered remains of their enemies that they too were starting to feel the pressures the war brought down upon them.
The man passed through the camp of weary soldiers and made his way to his own tent. Pulling back the flap revealed a woman of simple beauty with dark black hair and eyes as green as new leaves. She was out of place in this harsh environment, but her smile warmed all who could see it. The hard face that the king carried with him faded.
"How was the meeting?" her voice came up to him, lilting on each word as if she were singing. He removed the hard-iron crown from his head and placed it casually on a cushion to one side of the room as he lowered down to crawl near.
"It went well. We have another battle coming in the near future. We plan to take the plains and hold them, this time." He reached her and smiled kindly as he drew a hand up to run through her hair while his other went under the folds of her cloak to reach her belly. It was round and full with child. She smiled at him and gave a small kiss to his nose as she unbuckled the clasp about her neck and drew the cloak away from herself.
"It seems the attacks are less and less frequent."
"They're hurting as much as we are, though both of us are too prideful to end the war. Too much has happened for either one of us to give in now. Even if we did, what would the terms be? No. It's one or the other at this point, I fear."
She smiled, wiping away the fears that began to accumulate on his face and slowly laid herself down on the furs and cushions that surrounded her. "It will end. Eventually, it will end. Hatred really can't last so long on it's own. I have confidence."
He laughed, laying next to her and pulling her closer to him. His hand reached up to brush a lock of her hair from her face as he smiled at her. "You're right, as always. I hope it's sooner than later, though. I'm done with everything. Time has healed my wounds leaving no more than faint silver scars."
She purred at him and rolled over, nestling herself into him, "I like your scars, though." Giving a small tug at his pants, she closed her eyes, "Come to bed, now. It's late and you'll end up drowsing in your horse if you don't."
He smiled and withdrew from her, stripping down before removing her cloak from her side and curling back around her. "Sleep well, my love."
There was no noise outside the tent when it happened. Sleeping soundly in his bed, the king hardly noticed that something was amiss before hard hands grabbed at him and tossed him from his comfort. His head collided with a chest belonging to his wife sending him further into a daze as the adrenaline began to take over. Without thinking, he grabbed for his sword as a scream echoed out to him.
Turning to his attacker dressed heavily with dark skin and hair, the king unsheathed his sword and gave it two swings as the attacker withdrew each time. The attacker was barrel chested and large standing two heads taller than the king himself and obviously more muscular. As the king swung his sword the third time the attacker grabbed his arm and tangled his feet with a swift kick.
Caught off of his balance, the king was thrown once again to the entrance of the tent. The king jumped to his feet and waited, posed and ready to strike. When the attacker didn't follow a sickening fear tore through the adrenaline inside of him as the king darted back to the tent. Reaching the folds, though, he was stopped as a kick to his chest sent him back even further, stumbling to catch his feet. Other tents in the area finally began to flicker to life as their owners were gathering themselves to rush out.
It wouldn't be fast enough.
The attacker had noticed as well and in a state of panic he rushed forward and took hold of the king's hair with one brutish hand while a foot came down on the king's sword hand. Instinctively, the king dropped his sword and went to attack what he could with his one free hand and legs. The attacker held firm. The king was dragged no more than a few feet to the fire-pit that lie outside of his tent.
The pain hit first, but almost numbed until he spelled burning hair and the boiling of flesh. He only briefly realized that he had been screaming and that others joined in by shouting. His head was released and he smelled blood everywhere as something soft bounced off his back before battle-hardened hands reached around his waist and legs to drag him from the flames.
His mind reeled to comprehend what was going on, but shouts were coming from everywhere now as he tried to clear the ringing in his ears. The pain came back to his face like a thousand bees stung at him and the flames still surrounded him. The sickening feeling in his stomach bubbled up as well as he forced himself to turn over. He heaved, sending the burning to his throat as well and his lips finally went numb.
Despite the urging from the shouting voices around him, he staggered to his feet and made his way haphazardly into his own tent. He needed to check on her. He needed to make sure she wasn't scared. He needed to tell her he was alive and she had no reason to fear. His vision was blurred and dark, so he groped out with his hands to find her. He found her hair first, and quickly followed it to her face.
I'm okay, I'm safe, I'm here. Don't cry, love. Don't worry. I'm fine, I'm safe, I'll protect you.
The words struggled to come out, but he kept repeated them over and over as he followed her form. She didn't move, but she could have passed out from fear. He continued and felt the sticky hot that reminded him that he must have been bleeding. He drew his face back, still feeling around, not wanting to scare her when she awoke by having his blood all over her.
His hands reached her stomach, groping around to find her, and suddenly he felt more than skin. Something slimy and slick. Something that should have been on the inside, not the outside. The world came crashing around him as he shouted at her the words of comfort:
I love you, I'll protect you, I won't let you go. Don't worry, don't fear. Don't cry, love, don't cry. I love you, I'll protect you, don't cry.