Las Víboras Part 4
He looked at his companion and away.
“Don’t stare at me in such a manner, Hernando. I did what I thought necessary.”
“Knocking a noblewoman clear of her consciousness? Of course, my friend, that was completely of need.”
The two men locked their gazes and stared, before breaking into smiles.
“You do not fear what could happen to you, do you, Fidel? The Fizanto family is a myth, and once they discover the ruse…the lies you have been feeding them for years…And once Lady Edelia’s father discovers that you had knocked his daughter senseless…”
“I saved her life. I eased my own.”
Hernando shook his head and turned away. He left the dark room to enter into the accompanying one. The young woman looked up furiously. Her hair was askew and her face dirty. A bruise had formed on her left cheek; he had been a bit rough with the maid, but she fought like a tiger.
Giuliana glared at him. They had tied her to a large wooden post holding up the roof. The only light in the room fell from the hole in the roof. A dilapidated building had its advantages and disadvantages. Natural lighting and shadows. An excellent hiding place, and yet one of the first places they would be sure to search.
He hoped that his friend knew what he was doing. This was going to be a fierce war, and he didn’t like the alliances his friend had made.
Edelia’s ears sung and her eyes blurred, yet she forced herself up and found herself lying on leather hides of questionable cleanliness. Four large wooden posts held up the roof, and her maid was tied to the one.
“Giuliana?” The world started swimming when she stood up.
“My lady, are you well?”
She fell to her knees, clinging onto her head between her hands.
“Milady, the intention was for you to stay where we had placed you so comfortably.” The tone was mocking and slightly familiar.
She looked up and didn’t recognize the man, but recognized the eyes. It was the blue of her previously intended groom’s. This man was a stranger to her, with his raven locks, his taunting smile, and the way his eyes flashed with malice.
“I am delighted to see you awake, Milady. It leads me to believe that we can press on in our journey.”
“Who are you?” She murmured. She bit her lip, fighting the swimming, turning feeling of her mind and stared at the man.
“Pardon my manners, Milady. I am the Count Fidel Guillermo Hasta del Fizanto.” His lips curved more sardonically. “The true count, not the fake, foppish fool one.”
He grabbed her wrists and pulled her up. The sudden motion de-stabilized her and her knees buckled under her. He grabbed her body and picked her up in a swooping motion.
“Put me down, scoundrel.” Her voice shook and her body felt extremely weak, yet she tried to fight the rascal that thought it seemly to pick up.
“I reserve the right to disobey your every order, Milady.” He smirked. “I choose to ignore your every order from the present into the future. You are in my power, Edelia, not the other way around.”
Another man suddenly appeared beside them. She looked past the man to see her maid slumped to the ground, her eyes closed, her features asleep. The man that had joined them seemed uncertain, yet he forced her mouth open and dropped a few drops of a sticky liquid down her throat.
Her vocal chords failed and her head started swimming more and more. She felt nauseous and sea-sick, yet her captor didn’t seem to care or consider it. He marched on, his big strides leading them out of the room and building.
She wondered what they had done to her mind. What would they do to her? Where were they going, and why? What was going on in the kingdom?
Before she could continue her questioning thought process, her eyes closed and she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
The sun had set and darkness had crept over the country by the time Hernando and Count Fidel reached the forest.
Dark cat-like figures watched them from the large tree branches. They noticed both men and their packages.
The cats followed in the branches, walking as the men rode on. The white mare snickered in protest, but the ink-black stallion walked proudly, nobly, as if he owned the whole of the forest and the creatures within it.
Snakes hissed and slithered from the trees and down the vines. Their hiss multiplied in sound, and Hernando closed his eyes, trusting his mare to follow her companion through the forest to their destination.
He felt the vines brushing past his face and heard a malicious hiss from a serpent on the line. He shuddered and clasped the young woman tightly. She moaned softly; he held his breath.
The evil critters and creatures around them weren’t disturbed or alarmed. Bats continued flitting past their heads, the snakes continued hissing and slithering, and he could see the eyes of the cats as they moved in pace with them.
Finally, they reached the large tree and Fidel dismounted, confidently holding onto the noblewoman in his arms. Hernando had a less gentle and smooth manner of getting from his horse onto the ground, but he didn’t drop the girl, at least.
They stepped towards the tree’s trunk. Fidel paused five paces from the trunk and whistled lowly. It was an eerie sound, sending shivers down Hernando’s spine, as it always did.
The earth fell away in front of them and the large gaping hole greeted them, even darker than the forest around them.
In unison, the cats released a haunting roar that echoed through the treetops and throughout the forest.
Fidel stepped into the dark hole and fell. Hernando followed.
The earth closed, and then the cats roared again, the snakes hissing and the bats screeching along.
Innocent deer, critters, and birds kept silent, huddling in their hiding places at the sound of impending war. A hundred years of peace was deemed long enough.