The daughter of a lord is kidnapped and comes to see her life from a different angle.
| Tamira woke with a start, her cheeks wet and stinging from the cold of her hideous little cell. Dreaming again of home, of her warm bed and the luxury of her father's coddling. All darkness and horror, she had no idea how much time had passed since her abduction.
She threw herself down onto the straw and sobbed. She was filthy, cold, wet, exhausted. Since she had been here there had been no relief, no light, no company except those wretched men. When she was not alone, she was met only with cruelty, with such evil as she had never imagined.
"And Lord Chier?" Men were speaking outside her cell door. Tamira pressed her back against the farthest wall, burrowing into a corner. "How long until he arrives? We have to keep moving.
"With the sun. We'll be rich men by lunch." The two men laughed and their footsteps faded down the hallway.
So Lord Chier had taken her rejection badly indeed. Tamira wiped the tears from her face, stood, and crept toward the door. Not for the first time, she tried the door and found it locked. Her chest tightened, her head spun. By morning she would be swept away and lost forever, her perfect life nothing but a torturous memory of all she'd lost.
The latch rattled and Tamira cried out. They were coming to assure she would not escape. Only when the door opened, a woman stood on the other side, dressed in servant's rags.
"Nira!" Her own handmaid and, Tamira now realized, her truly loyal friend.
"No time for dinner, my lady, we're in a hurry, I'm afraid."
Petrified for a moment, Tamira hesitated, but her savior grabbed her hand and they sneaked out of her cell and started down the hallway. The servant girl yanked her about, stifling her cries each time with a hand clamped across her mouth. Tamira felt her arms bruise under the woman's grip and she yelped.
"If you want to live, you'll have to toughen up a bit."
Tamira's eyes widened. "I'm not meant for such as this. It might be well for you, but I am ..."
"This isn't the last time someone will take from your life without asking." The other woman raised an eyebrow, but picked up their pace as they approached the door. "Guards will not always be able to protect you, as you now well know. Lucky 'til now does not mean lucky in future."
"My father will heighten security."
Nira threw herself at the men guarding their exit. A swift kick to one and well-placed jabs to the other and the women were on their way to freedom.
"He can try and you can cower and we can see where you end up," the woman smiled. "Or I can teach you and perhaps the world will be yours as never before. Which risk will you take?"
"Show me," Tamira said and her journey began.