Much Fall Of Blood — Snippet 77

Chapter 42

The guard coughed warily, keeping a good safe distance from Vlad. Vlad scowled to himself. They had seen him angry. And now they were even more wary about him. Yes. He was a solitary man. But he did need some contact. He needed to know what they were doing. He needed to know what was happening. And right now they were probably too afraid of him to tell him. “What is it?”

“Sire, there is a party on horseback. They do not look like Hungarians. And there is a woman with them. What do you want us to do about them? They have a white flag.”

“Have Emil detail two squads of Arquebussiers to watch them from the ridge. Send one man to go and find out exactly who they are. Then come back and tell me.”

Vlad returned to his thoughts. What had he done wrong? His men had not behaved like heroes. They’d been more like kill-crazed weasels. And then they had been heroes . . .

The guard returned. “She says to tell you that her name is Countess Elizabeth Bartholdy of Caedonia. And she has come with a group of loyal boyars and their retainers to join Your Majesty’s cause.” The guard paused. Then he said, reverently. “She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”

Vlad nodded his agreement. “Take me to her,” he said, smiling for the first time since the sack and burning of Gara.

* * *

Elizabeth was surprised how much he had grown — not in physical stature, but in presence. He was as pale as ever. Well, his grandfather had been like that, apparently. She sensed other changes in him. She smelled things that ordinary mortals did not. And she smelled sex. Fury welled up in her. Had she had held herself back so that some sweet little thing could claim his innocence? It was hers. He was hers. To use, corrupt and discard. To bleed.

He bowed smiling. “Welcome, Countess.”

“I am so glad that you still wish to see us, Prince,” she said, laughing musically, exerting the full force of her charms. “Having run away from me like that.”

He reached up a hand to help her down from her mare. She felt the spell there on his hand still traced on his innocent flesh with her spittle and her juices — when he had not even realized what she was doing to him. She activated the charm. And was a little taken aback to find that, if anything, his resistance had grown. With that spell he should have been her sexual slave, unable to resist her, to have ripped aside her clothes and raped her right there, driven by uncontrollable lust. Uncontrollable by him, at least. She could have controlled him, of course. Or driven him to believe he’d done it. But she might have allowed him to do it, beating vainly at his chest and screaming, just for the way it would destroy him.

But he merely smiled at her again. Crocell had been right.

She was going to find this woman, this little love that he had acquired, doubtless with tenderness and vows . . . and kill her. Horribly.