Standard disclaimers;
This piece is an uber so there isn't a lot to disclaim here. Any resemblance to certain characters who shall remain unnamed, is probably a coincidence. And if it isn't, you can't really prove it anyway, so there.

This story isn't all that graphic, but it is about a physical relationship between two consenting adult women. If that bothers you, you should leave. If that's illegal where you live, you should move. If you are under 18 you should not be here and why aren't your parents doing a better job of monitoring your internet use??

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The first thing I heard was quiet talking somewhere to the side of me. I kept still, while I tried to figure out just where I was. I knew I was on a bed of some sorts. The ground could never be this soft. It wasn't until I tried to shift a little, that I realized that I couldn't move anything, except my head. The strange thing was, that I couldn't feel any kind of ropes or bindings. I just couldn't move.

I guess my cursing wasn't as quiet as I thought it was because I could hear people coming closer.

"Oh good. You're awake," came from a soft voice near my head.

I opened my eyes, just as a woman's blond head turned to speak to the others that were standing behind her.

"I'll be fine Keris. Take your men and go. It would probably be a good idea for you to be gone before I let her up."

A big farmer came up and looked over her shoulder at me. I recognized him right away. He was the one that darted me. I tried to lunge at him. I wanted to kill him and everyone else in the room. I still couldn't move though, and that just got me even madder.

The blond turned back to me then. I heard her laugh lightly. She actually thought this was funny. I'd show her funny. Just as soon as I could get out of whatever they were using to hold me down.

The farmer had jumped back a little when I was trying to get loose. Even though I hadn't moved anything but my head, he was still scared of me. At least he hadn't been stupid enough to laugh.

I glared at him and said, "Coward."

He reddened at that. And that stupid girl just laughed again. Gods! I wanted to take that amused look off her face. Didn't she know who she was dealing with?

She looked at me funny for a minute then she said, "Keris isn't a coward. He's a farmer. Did you really expect him to come at you with a sword? Besides, he won didn't he?"

" He snuck up on me and put a dart full of sleeping potion into me. That's brave." I sneered. It's hard to sneer effectively when your flat on your back and can't move, but I guess it worked, because Keris suddenly got nervous and stepped back some more.

The blond had the nerve to laugh again. "Of course it's brave," she said, "if he had missed, you would have killed him."

It was kind of hard to fault that kind of logic, so I didn't say anything. I still wanted to kill them though, so I sneered again just to let them know I was going to get even. When I turned my head, I could just see two other men standing by the door. They looked like they were ready to turn and run. The blond might not be afraid of me, but at least everyone else was.

I had just about decided that the girl must be a little addled, when she moved back towards the center of the room.

"I guess I could let you move around a little." she said.

I waited for her to come over and take off whatever it was that was holding me but she just reached for an necklace she was wearing. A few seconds later she says. "There, how does that feel?"

Now I knew she was crazy. She hadn't even come close and she thought that I should be able to move. I guess she could tell what I was thinking because she just laughed again and said. "You can sit up now."

I figured I'd humor her, so I tried to move my arm. I was more than a little surprised when it lifted easily. With that, I jumped up and tried to rush my captors. I got about two steps from the bed when I smacked right into a solid... something. I got back up and tried to move forward again, only to find that there was some sort of invisible wall stopping me. I tried pushing it, then I tried hitting it. It wouldn't move.

The girl just laughed again. I decided I'd kill her slowly, just to get back at her for all the fun she was having at my expense.

While I was thinking of the different ways I could kill her, I felt along the invisible wall. It went in a circle giving me about three feet of room in every direction around the bed. When I looked at the spot where I knew it was, I could see that it shimmered a little. Not enough to be really obvious, just enough so I could tell it was there.

The girl went over to the men that had stayed by the door. After speaking with them for a moment they went outside. The farmer stayed behind. They stared talking really low so I couldn't hear what they were saying. He kept looking my way and shaking his head, so I knew they were talking about me. The girl just kept smiling.

Patience isn't really my strong suit, so I hollered. "Where am I, and what's going on?" That got their attention.

The farmer, Keris, jumped a little and asked the little blond. "Are you sure you want to do this Jessa? She'll kill you the minute you let the warding down."

"I know what I'm doing Keris. Go help the your men. I'll come out in a few minutes" she said. Keris just looked at me for a moment, then went outside.

As soon as he said her name, I had the whole thing figured out. Even I had heard of the witch Jessa. Everyone knew she was an old crone that lived in the woods. No one bothered her because her magic was too powerful. This girl was maybe twenty, if that. My guess was that she had stolen some of the witches amulets and potions and was living off the real Jessa's reputation. I said as much and she just laughed that soft laugh again.

She came right up to the invisible wall and said. "I'm the real Jessa. You don't have to believe me, if you don't want to, but I think eventually you will."

I wasn't really in a position to argue, so I decided to let it go. It wouldn't matter much after I killed her anyway. "Ok 'Jessa', what am I doing here?" Now that I was standing, the sneer worked a little better. Not by much though. She didn't laugh like last time, but she did grin.

"You've been captured," she said. I could feel my eyebrows crawling up my forehead at that. After all, that part was obvious. She must have realized it too, because she blushed a little.

"No one wanted to be responsible for you execution, in case your men came looking for revenge. I decided it would be safer for the villagers if they brought you here instead. I don't think they'll risk coming here, and if they do, I can take care of them."

"So why didn't they just kill me and say you did it?" I asked.

"Because, I won't lend my name to killing." She answered.

I though I had her on this one. "But you just said you'll kill my men if they come looking for me."

There was that laugh again. "No I didn't. I said I'd take care of them. If they come looking, I can think of lots of ways to make them leave, without hurting anyone."

I managed not to laugh at that. She obviously didn't know my men. Nothing would stop them. I didn't tell her that. I figured she'd find out soon enough.

"Ok. Now that I'm here, how do plan on keeping me here?" I asked.

"Well Kaira," That got my attention. I figured she must not know who I was, or she wouldn't be laughing at me. "For tonight, you'll stay inside this warding circle. Tomorrow, I'll set a larger one for you. I'll set it for two miles. You'll be able to go anywhere inside the limit, but you won't be able to cross it. Are you hungry?"

Well, I was hungry. Besides, if she wasn't going to release the warding til morning there wasn't much point in trying anything right now. I gave her a nod and she went outside. She came back in a few minutes later and went over to the pot that was hanging over the fire. She ladled out some stew, brought it over to the table and set it down. Then, she set down a small picture of wine and a cup. A few seconds later the shimmer shifted and the table was inside the warding. I went and sat down, while she grabbed more bowls and took the pot outside. I could hear the men talking, so I guessed they had decided to leave me alone for now. That made me feel a little better. The whole day had been one big headache. I really didn't want to have to eat with them. Besides, it gave me a chance to think.

It had started out just fine. The village was set in a nice fertile valley. You could tell, even from a distance, that they'd have a lot to offer an ambitious warlord like myself. I'd be able to supply my men for the entire winter from this one village. There wasn't even a militia. We'd be able to take this place easily. I went down by myself, since there wasn't anything there for me to worry about. I didn't even bother telling my second where I was going. The place just didn't offer one thing that could be thought of as a threat. I figured I'd ride in and have a little fun with the locals. Once that got dull, I'd go get my men and we'd clean the place out.

I rode into the center of town and dismounted. I could tell that they knew who I was. All the women and children started running for cover. I headed for a bunch of men that were running my way, when I felt a sting in my thigh. I had just enough time to look at the dart sticking in me and the man who had shot me with it. Next thing I know, I'm waking up here. The thought that I was taken so easily was down right embarrassing. Next time, I'll be sure to take some men with me.

By the time Jessa (I had to call her something, even though I didn't believe it was her real name) came back in, I'd finished eating and had finished the wine too. At least she was a good cook. It's hard to find a good meal in a war camp, especially since I can't cook if my life depended on it. I'd already moved back to sit on the bed, so she just shifted the warding and took the dishes away. Then, she shifted the warding again and I could see that it now went back to another room. Before she could say anything, I went and looked and I saw that it was an indoor privy. There was a large tub in the corner and the latrine was set behind a low wall to the rear. I saw the handle right away and, since I'd heard of things like this before, wasn't surprised when I pulled it and water started filling the tub. I was surprised when I felt the water coming out, it was really warm. When I saw that the water came from a pipe right behind where I knew the fireplace was on the opposite side of the wall, I relaxed. The invisible wall of the warding was bad enough. The idea that anything else here was done with magic would have been too much to handle right now.

I looked around and spotted some towels laid out and my spare clothes were right beside them. Now, the only thing harder to find than a good meal in a war camp, is a nice hot bath. I still planned on killing Jessa as soon as possible, but I wasn't about to let the opportunity go to waste. Besides, a nice meal and a hot bath were the only good things about this whole miserable day. I must have taken longer than I though in the bath. When I finally came back into the main cabin it was full dark outside. Jessa waited for me to move back toward the bed and then she moved the warding away from the back room, so she could take her turn. I could hear the sound of her splashing in the tub, but it was quiet outside. The others must have left to go back to their village. It was just the two of us. Since there wasn't much else to do, I laid down on the bed. I never heard Jessa come back out, I had fallen asleep. Normally, I'd hear anyone moving in the same room as me, but I think I still had a little of that sleeping potion in me, because I never heard a thing.

When I woke up the next morning, I could see that Jessa was still asleep bundled up in some furs by the fire. I never really thought about the fact that she'd given up her bed for me to sleep in. I didn't really think about it that morning either. If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have cared anyway. I was thinking about how I needed to get to that back room, and I couldn't get there unless Jessa was awake to move the warding.

So I called her name. She just groaned a little and buried her head in the furs. I tried a few more times and, I swear, the more I called the sounder she slept. Finally I got fed up and I shouted as loud as I could. I've had hardened fighters jump right out of their skins when I shout like that. All this girl did was crack an eye and give me a grumpy look.

"Gods, Kaira. It isn't even light out yet." She grumbled.

"Well, too bad," I grumbled right back, "I need to get to the back room."

She mumbled something that I didn't catch, but she did move the warding.

When I came back out, she had gotten up and was stirring something in a pot over the fire. She still looked grumpy though. A few minutes later she put a bowl on the table, moved the warding towards it and breakfast was served. This time, though, she only covered half the table and she put her own bowl down and sat across from me.

We ate in silence. Her because she still hadn't quite woken up yet, me because I was actually enjoying the meal. Normally, I hate the porridge that's the usual breakfast fare. Jessa had managed to make it taste good. It was full of nuts and berries and I'm sure that she put honey in it too. I was seriously debating whether to kill her right away, or to make her my slave so she could cook for me. Now that she was sitting close and I could see how pretty she was, beautiful actually, I was really starting to lean towards making her my slave. She could serve me great meals and then, at night, she could serve me in other ways.

Once I got the idea of taking her to my bed, I started looking her over. She didn't notice since she was still half asleep. I had noticed that she was really small the night before. I was at least a head taller than her. She was slim too, but she had curves in all the right places. She was young, but not as young as I had first thought. All in all, just right for what I had in mind. I found out later that she's only a year younger than me. She had known all along that I was twenty-five. With all the stories floating around about me, everyone knows how old I am. While I was looking at her, I notice that the stone in the bracelet she was wearing was glowing.

"Why is that stone glowing?" I asked her gruffly. It was obviously a magical item of some kind and I wasn't too happy about it.

She looked up then. I guess she didn't think I'd notice. "That tells me when you're close."

"Why do you need that? You already know where I am." I thought it was a reasonable question but, for some reason, she blushed.

She didn't say anything for a minute, then she pushed her bowl away.

"I told you last night that I would set a larger warding for you. I decided on two miles so you can move about freely, but you won't have the range to reach any of the surrounding villages. You can come and go as you please. The barrier will be the same as the one around you now, only larger." she said.

"That still doesn't explain that bracelet."I said. I was getting more suspicious by the second.

"This is my home. I don't plan on keeping a warding around myself. I also don't plan on letting you kill me. This lets me know where you are. You won't be able to sneak up on me," she said as if that explained everything. She obviously hadn't thought of traps I could be set to go off with me nowhere near them.

"I don't think you'll want to kill me though. The warding will be set in this amulet." she pointed to the stone in her necklace. "Once it's set, I'll be the only one that can remove it. If I die the warding will be permanent and you'll never be able to leave. I'm also setting a separate warding on the amulet itself. Again, I'm the only one that can remove it. The second warding will make the amulet unbreakable. You won't be able to release the warding by breaking the amulet." she said. Then, she shot me a look. She knew I wanted to kill her. She hadn't figured out my other option yet. I wasn't about to tell her.

"You expect me to believe that?" I asked. No point in pretending. She didn't believe that I'd just give up without a fight anyway.

"No. I expect you to try and find some way to break the warding. If you decide that killing me will work, then I expect that's what you'll try. I can either set a ward around myself or I can use this," she held up the arm with the bracelet and it's glowing stone, "even a ward won't keep me safe from a trap, and this works without any use of my own magic, so I think it's a better choice."

So, she had thought of a trap. She didn't look the type to think like that. Before I could give that much thought, she was talking again.

"Your horse and weapons are out front. You can go as soon as the warding is set. The closest village is five miles to the south. They're the ones that brought you here. There's another one ten miles to the north and another ten miles to the southeast. The warding is set for you personally, anyone else can cross it. Sometimes the villagers come to me for things. If you see anyone else, I want you to leave them alone." She stopped talking when I laughed out loud at that idea. She glared at me for a minute. Her blue eyes went almost violet. "I will not allow you to harm anyone that comes onto my land. If you do, I will set your warding to a six foot circle in the yard."

I could only nod at that. I could tell she was serious. It made sense. If she was willing to let me live, then she wasn't the type to let anyone else get hurt. I'd just have to behave myself, for now. Once I found a way out of this, then things would be different. For now, I'd have to do it her way.

She waited for a minute, to make sure I got the idea, I guess, then she continued. "You're welcome to stay anywhere you want, even here. I have more than enough supplies so you can help yourself to anything you need."

I interrupted her. "I'll take your supplies, but do you really think I'd want to stay here?" I said sarcastically.

She laughed. "No, I don't think you'd want to stay here. I'm just letting you know that if the weather turns, or if you need supplies ,you can. I don't expect you to just disappear into the woods."

It sounded like she had it all figured out. Now, all she had to do was set the warding, and I could take off. Only one thing hadn't been discussed. "How long do you plan on keeping me here?"

She mumbled something I couldn't quite hear. Her face turned a little pink, and she suddenly found the table very interesting. I repeated the question.

She took a deep breath and finally answered. "Until you change."

"Change?" I roared, "into what, a turnip?" I'd been doing a pretty good job of keeping my temper until now. I knew what she meant. She was going to keep me here until I turned into her idea of what a person should be. I already knew what kind of person I was. I was a warlord. A warrior and a killer. Nothing on this earth could change what I was.

I was beyond furious. I'd never change and I knew it. She should have told me she was keeping me here forever. To me, it meant the same thing. This time, when I sneered at her, she didn't laugh or grin.

She didn't say anything after that. The ground rules had already been laid out, so I knew I couldn't kill her...yet. She took hold of her amulet and I could see that she warded it first. It now had a slight shimmer to it. Next she warded herself. I guess she wasn't going to take any chances with the mood I was in right now. Then the warding, that had surrounded me since I had woke here, was gone.

I spotted my horse as soon as I stepped outside. It was tethered near a small outbuilding. I found my gear just inside the building. I hadn't brought much with me when I went into that village. I'd only planned on being there a few hours. There were shelves all along the walls, and I could see that this was where she kept all her supplies. Even if she hadn't offered, I would have helped myself to the stuff I'd need anyway. I found a bag in the corner and filled it up with food, then I spotted some furs and other things I'd need, so I took them too.

By the time I'd gathered up what I wanted and had the horse saddled, Jessa had come to the door of her cabin. She didn't say anything, just watched me. It's a good thing too. If she had tried to talk to me right then, I'd have embarrassed myself by trying to attack her, even though I knew I couldn't get to her through the warding. Instead I just glared at her and rode off.

It didn't take me long to find the outer edge of my prison. Once I'd gone out two miles, there it was. It didn't look much different from the one I'd had around me since yesterday, just bigger. I could see the way it arced around. I was on the inside of a two mile circle, with the cabin at it's center, just like she said.

It took four days for me to ride completely around the wall. I could have done it faster, but there weren't any trails around it and I wanted to see it all. The thing went in a smooth arc, right through anything that blocked it's path. I'd been hoping to find some kid of hole or weak spot, but I didn't find any. I tried to bash a hole in it with everything I could think of. I climbed trees that sat beside it, hoping it was weaker up high, but it wasn't. I even tried cutting into a tree that it went through, hoping that it had a hole in it where it went through the tree. It didn't. The whole thing left me madder than ever, especially when I notice how birds and other animals went through it like it wasn't there. Jessa was right when she said that the warding was set for me and me alone.

After that, I scouted around for a place to camp. I figured I'd get comfortable and try to think of a way out of this. The problem was, that the only way for me to get out was to break the amulet Jessa had used to set the warding, but she had the amulet warded so I couldn't break it. My only other choice was to find a way to make Jessa remove the warding.

She'd taken everything into account, except my men. Once they showed up, I'd have the advantage, and she'd have no choice but to let me go, if she wanted to live. Unfortunately, I had a habit of disappearing on my men. Sometimes, for weeks at a time. I'd leave them to secure an area, while I went out to scout the next target. It would be quite a while before they realized something was wrong and come looking for me. I didn't mind too much, it would give me time to try and find my own way out of this. The idea of having to be rescued by my men was something I wasn't sure I could live down.

The next week was a little frustrating. The spot I'd been camping in was far from adequate. I spent every day after that trying to find something better, but there just wasn't anything decent. All it would take is one good storm to wash the whole camp away. I also found out that there wasn't much in the way of game either. I'd thought it was a stroke of luck that I'd brought my bow with me. Now, it was just frustrating to have it with me and nothing to use it on. Sure, I'd managed to catch a couple of rabbits, but that was far from enough. That explained Jessas offer to let me use her cabin and help myself to her supplies. If the weather didn't get me, the lack of food would.

I wasn't thrilled with the idea that I'd have to go back to the cabin if I wanted to keep myself fed. But, at least it was still the beginning of summer. By the time the weather turned, and I'd have to actually consider staying in the cabin, I planned on being long gone. I didn't want to run into Jessa though, so I decided to spend a few days watching the place, so I could go in when she wasn't around. I know I could have just went in at night, but that's not always a good idea. I figured that if I had to go there to get more food and supplies, then I'd at least do it in daylight so I could see what I was doing. When you're stumbling around in the dark, you usually end up just grabbing whatever's handy. I didn't want to end up with a bag of cabbage or something. Besides, she said I could help myself, so there wasn't much point in being that sneaky.

I'd found several place where I could watch the cabin without being seen. I was already watching her movements carefully looking for something that would help me free myself. Every morning she'd come out and work in the garden beside the cabin. Then, she'd go feed the animals penned behind the supply hut. She'd do a few more chores and then she'd either go for a short walk, or back into the cabin. After lunch, she'd come back outside to finish her chores and then she'd settle onto the bench out front and spend the rest of the afternoon reading, with maybe another walk thrown in. Then at dusk, she went back inside for the night. It wasn't any different from the activities of any other village girl. If it weren't for that bracelet that glowed every time I got too close, and the fact that I had watched her set the warding with my own eyes, I would have thought that she was just an ordinary village girl.

The only break in the routine was, that every three or four days she'd head down a path leading to one of the nearby villages. Then, she'd be gone for a half day, if she was going to the closest one, or the whole day for the other two. It was all routine and boring. The only good thing was that Jessa was truly beautiful. After the first couple of days watching her, I started hoping I wouldn't have to kill her. She'd make a great body slave.

The third time she left, I restocked my supplies. I was also feeling the effects of not having had a proper bath for a while. The small lake I had found just wasn't the same as a tub full of hot water. Since she had taken the path to one of the farther villages, I decided to make use of the tub.

When I went into the cabin, everything looked the same as it had that first night. It was built the same as any other home that you'd find in any village. The only thing that was out of place was the scrolls. There were hundreds of them. This time, I didn't have a warding around me, so I was able to examine them. It was while I was reaching for the first one, the idea hit me. If she had this many scrolls, there had to be at least some that dealt with magic. If I could find the one she had used to learn the warding spell, then it should tell me how to break it.

She had them sorted, so it was easy to find the ones that dealt with magic. There were a lot of those, almost half. I decided to take some with me. Every time she went to one of the villages, I'd bring them back and take new ones. If I was lucky, I'd find the one I wanted right away, if not, it should only take me until the middle of summer to go through them all. Feeling better than I had in a while, I headed for the bath.

After that, I spent half my time reading and the other half watching Jessa. On my first trip back to the cabin to exchange the scrolls, I had been worried that she would notice and hide the rest of them on me. She hadn't. I spent the next two weeks reading. I didn't understand a lot of it, but that didn't matter. What mattered to me, was that none of the scrolls I had found so far even mentioned wardings. There had been mentions of amulets, of which I knew Jessa had at least two. The one that held the warding, and the one that glowed on her wrist whenever I was near. Unfortunately, they didn't tell me anything that I could use. Like, how to break the damn things.

At the beginning of the third week of my reading, I found the information I wanted. I'd thought Jessa had no idea what I was doing. I was wrong. I went into the cabin, like I had done many times now. This time, there was a scroll sitting out on the table. On top of the scroll was a note. It simply said, 'I think this is what you're looking for.' and she'd signed it.

When I reached for the scroll my hands were shaking. I figured, that if she was putting what I wanted out in plain sight, then it must not be very good news. I was right. It used bigger words and gave a little more detail, but it basically confirmed everything Jessa had said. The only way I was getting out of here, was to find some way to make her remove the warding.

The rage I felt was instant. I crumpled up the scroll and threw it across the room. Then, I took off. There was nothing for me to take my rage out on, so I ran. I didn't pay any attention to where I was going, I just needed to be moving. While I ran, I pulled my sword and hacked at anything that got in my way. If there had been anyone there at the time, I would have hacked them too. I'm not sure how long I ran. By the time I stopped, it was starting to get dark. I'd managed to settle down by then. Not because I was feeling any better. I was just too tired to keep going. I took my time going back to the cabin to get my horse and the supplies I had gathered.

Just as I was about to start down the trail, I heard her. She was just coming into the clearing from another path. I knocked an arrow and waited for her. She saw me there, just as I let the arrow fly. I'm not sure what I expected. I'd aimed for a spot on the ground just in front of her. Even in the state I was in, I wasn't ready to destroy my chance at freedom. I just wanted to scare her a little, well a lot actually, and let her know that I was too dangerous for this game she was playing.

Her expression didn't change as the arrow sped towards her. Mine did though, when the arrow stopped in midair. There was no shimmer of a warding. No change that I could see. Yet the arrow hung in the air, like it had just decided to stop and take a break. I was shocked and it showed. When the arrow suddenly disappeared and then reappeared laying at my feet, my expression changed again. My eyes bugged out and my eyebrows went up so high, I wondered if I'd ever be able to get them to come down again. I must have looked like a slack jawed imbecile right at that moment. But then, at that moment, I felt like one too.

I didn't know what to think, or how I should feel about it. I don't think I was actually afraid, but I wasn't far from it. I knew I'd lost this round with Jessa, so I took the arrow and I left.

I avoided the cabin for the next few days. I didn't want to see her and the smug look I was sure she was wearing at my expense. I didn't see her again until I went to the small lake for a swim and, hopefully, a few fish for dinner. I heard the splashing before I saw her. The pile of clothing laying on the small beach made me suspect she was swimming nude. The clarity of the water confirmed it. At first, she was unaware of my presence. I watched her from my place near the treeline as she moved through the water with smooth grace. Watching her served to remind me how long it had been since I'd enjoyed the feel of a woman's body under me. In the few minutes it took her to notice my presence, my libido came fully awake. I'd already been fantasizing about her. And now, that same body which had been invading my dreams every night, was there in front of me. What I may have done at that point, I'll never know. Just as I was about to step onto the small beach, she turned and looked right at me. The water came to her shoulders, but I could still see the outline of her below the water. She said nothing as she watched me. With the slope of the land, she was only a few yards out in the water and I could see her face clearly. I moved closer and crouched down to see her better. My scrutiny caused her to blush furiously, but she still said nothing. I expected her to be angry or to threaten me with her magic but she did nothing. We just stared at each other. Me, because I wanted to and her, because she was too surprised not to. I had wanted to do something to her. What, I really didn't know. I had been watching her almost daily. Most of my time was spend thinking of, and discarding plans to free myself from this place. Half of those plans involved the use of force and intimidation, the other half various forms of seduction. And yet, for all my planning, I had not spoken to her since the day I woke up in her bed. After all that time spent lusting and scheming from a distance, I found that I had no idea what to say or do. I simply stared. It seemed like we stared at each other for an eternity, but it was probably only a minute or two at most. Finally, she swallowed hard, took a deep breath and slowly started walking out of the water. Her face was a deep red the whole time and the blush continued down her body to the tops of her breasts. I couldn't move. Not because she had done anything to restrain me. I simply found that I could do nothing but stare, as the shimmering image glimpsed under the water was revealed. I watched the water cascade down her perfect breasts and my breath caught. As more was revealed, my heart began to beat faster. By the time golden curls had cleared the water, my heart was trying to beat its way out of my chest. In that moment, every image of death I had created for her was gone. In its place was the desire to touch and taste every inch of her perfect body. I was still crouched by the waters edge as she moved past me towards her clothes. That was when I noticed her breathing was almost as rapid as my own. I knew I had affected her, I just had to find a way to use that to my advantage. As she dressed quickly behind me, I closed my eyes and let the image of the water cascading down her naked body burn itself into my memory. When I stood and turned, she was already starting to walk away. A few strides and I caught up with her. No words were exchanged as I walked with her back to the cabin. At the edge of the clearing, I stopped and, after a brief hesitation, she continued on alone. I could have tried to kiss her or something, but I knew that wouldn't work. With that one warding spell, she could stop me in a second. I spent the rest of the day and most of the night planning the various ways I could seduce Jessa. If I were careful and patient, I could win both her body and my freedom in short order. The very next day, I set out to play the ardent suitor.

I made it a point to spend time with Jessa every day. I'm sure she knew that I was up to something, but she didn't seem to mind the company. As a matter of fact, neither did I. I'd spent every moment alone since waking up here. I had spied on Jessa incessantly, but it wasn't the same as having someone to talk to. Though I'm not much for talking, I hadn't realized just how much I missed just being around another person. The fact that Jessa never seemed to mind my periods of silence, only served to make it all the better.

After about two weeks of this, I made my mistake. I met her as she was returning from one of her village visits. She was basically the local healer and would visit each village in turn, rendering aid in return for various supplies. She was tired and distracted. When she saw me waiting for her on the trail, her pleasure in seeing me was apparent. I was feeling cocky. I was proud of myself that my plan was working. I walked with her back to the cabin, talking of inconsequential things the whole way. I was also thinking like the warlord that I was. She was tired, distracted and happy to see me. I decided that the timing was perfect for me to make my move. We reached the cabin and before she could react, I kissed her. At first she didn't react at all, she was too surprised. When she did react, it was to push me roughly away. She glared at me and didn't say a word. Then, she turned and still without a word, she stalked into the cabin and slammed the door. She didn't come back out for the rest of the day. I know, because I watched from my old observation spot for the rest of the day.

The very next day some of my men showed up. There were six of them, led by my captain, Belas. I'd spotted them shortly after they came across the warding. Of course, they hadn't seen it, still couldn't actually. As far as I could tell, only I could see it. I'm not sure what they were thinking when I told them about it, but they were willing to take my word for it.

They got a little restless when I told them who was holding me here. They had heard about Jessa too. They calmed down when I explained that she wasn't the real Jessa. After all, even with the disappearing trick, she had only used the one large spell. She even did her chores by hand. If she were the real Jessa, she'd have no need to ever lift a finger. I didn't think about how the heaviest of the work always seemed to be done, without my ever having witnessed Jessa actually doing any of it. I hadn't really let myself notice it at the time. Actually, even if I had noticed, I would have found some way to explain it away. In the weeks I had been here, the only magic I had seen for myself were the two spells.

The plan we worked out was simple. We split up and surrounded the cabin. When Jessa came out after lunch, we were ready. Once she moved out into the clearing, I came out to meet her.

She wasn't surprised to see me. The bracelet had let her know I was there. I moved in until I was only about ten feet away. I didn't say anything. I just drew my sword and waited. She knew what I wanted. Talking, at that point, would have been a waste. Besides, I was wearing my best warlord scowl, and it's gotten me what I wanted in the past.

She didn't flinch. Didn't try to run. She didn't do anything. She just looked at me, with a little frown and shook her head. I nodded to the side, to signal my men. "You don't have a choice," I told her, "you can't take us all on."

My men stepped fully into the clearing and I had her. At least, I though I did. She was an unarmed girl, surrounded by seven experienced fighters. So, she could do a few tricks. She didn't stand a chance against this many at once. Right?

Before I could take a step, I was wrapped up in the same invisible ropes that had held me my first day here. Like before, the only thing I could move, was my head. She turned around and told them to leave. Her exact words were, "Leave now, and I won't hurt you." Belas and the men thought that was pretty funny.

A second later, they didn't think it was funny at all. Jessa didn't wait for them to attack. The closest two found themselves tossed through the air by an unseen force. One second they were standing, the next they were landing in the bushes. The next one found himself running to stay ahead of the fireballs Jessa was launching. They'd just appeared in her hand and she was throwing them as easy as a kid tossing pebbles into a pond. The men on either side took that as their cue to leave, so they started running too. That left just Belas, and one of the men who had landed in the bushes a few seconds ago. The other one had joined the rest in leaving, as quickly as possible. I think it was more from confusion that loyalty. He was so shook up, he wasn't sure which way to go.

Belas on the other hand, was just too stupid to be scared. He'd made it to captain because he could fight and take orders. His lack of brains was an advantage, most of the time. He was loyal, but not smart enough to be ambitious. In my line of work, that's a good thing.

Belas roared and charged. He didn't get more than three steps before Jessa acted. One second Belas was running, the next he's hanging in mid-air. She just suspended him there, cursing and screaming.

Then, she gave the last soldier a look. His eyes got round a saucers, and he bolted. The rest of the men were still in sight and this last one was catching up fast. Just as he reached them, there was a booming sound and they all screamed and started running faster. I could tell that they wouldn't stop until they were far, far away from here.

Once they had moved out of sight, she turned her attention back to Belas. He was still screaming and shouting. He stopped, once he started spinning. He was twisting and turning so fast it was hard to follow. When Jessa stopped him, he was hanging upside down with his head at the same level as hers. Now he was afraid. Even without seeing the look on his face, I would have known. It was hard not to notice that he'd wet himself.

Then, she walked over to him and started talking. I couldn't hear what she said. I could see that Belas was taking in every word. He kept nodding, and I could see he was on the verge of tears. After a minute or so, Jessa had said her piece. She turned Belas upright again and set him on the ground. When he started stumbling off after the rest of the men, I knew I'd probably never see him again.

I watched him go with a sense of regret. All my officers were like Belas. I'd chosen men who would fight and die for me. Very few of them had been chosen for their intelligence. With an army the size of mine, you don't want to surround yourself with men who might find ways to take your command. Once they saw what Jessa had done to Belas and the rest, there was no way they'd try to come for me. Without me to lead them, the army would break down and drift apart. The fact that it was Belas, my strongest and most feared captain, she had bested would only serve to make it happen faster. In a matter of weeks, if not days, my army would be gone.

Once Belas had left, she turned back to me. That's when it hit me. She really was Jessa. I'd been so convinced that she was an imposter, that I wasn't ready to deal with the fact that she was the real thing. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I was once again looking like a slack jawed imbecile.

When she released me from whatever was holding me, I didn't move. Sure, I knew the restraint was gone, but I was still in shock.

Jessa just watched me. She wasn't laughing. She wasn't gloating. She looked more sad than anything. It was then, that I realized, she hadn't wanted to do what she had just done. Even though losing to me would have meant terrible things for her, she felt bad about the whole thing.

I don't know why, but that made me feel better somehow. Not by much though. I still had a lot of adjusting to do. I got myself moving and headed for the storage hut. I'd found the wine on my last visit. I grabbed as much as I could carry and headed back to my camp. Jessa was still standing in the clearing, watching me with the same sad look. I tried not to think about that. Right now, all I wanted to think about was my sudden need to get very, very drunk.

I woke up in Jessa's cabin, in her bed. From the rumpled look of the furs she kept by the fire, I knew that she'd slept there. Too bad I'd been so drunk. I'd have tried to get her to share the bed with me. I couldn't remember much past the first jug of wine, so I had no idea how I'd gotten there. If my hangover hadn't been so bad, I might have been embarrassed. As it was, all I wanted to do was find a corner to die in. I barely made it to the back room, where I spent a great deal of time making friends with the latrine. By the time my stomach finally emptied itself, I was pretty sure that I'd live. At least, I was definitely sober now.

When I went back to the main room, I found a large mug of water and some soup waiting for me. Jessa was nowhere to be found. The soup was still hot, so I knew she couldn't be too far away. Once I had eaten I felt a lot better, even my headache was gone. Now that I was feeling better, I went outside. Part of me was hoping I'd find Jessa, the other part wanted to get away without being seen.

I didn't get the chance to decide which part I wanted to win. She was sitting on the bench just outside the door when I came out. I tried to look anywhere, but at her. I could feel her eyes burning into me.

"Three days," she said.

I shot her a look, but didn't say anything.

"You were drinking for three days. Last night, you showed up here. You could barely stand. You were waving your sword around and mumbling, but I couldn't figure out what you were saying. I was afraid you were going to hurt yourself so, I, ah...."

"Restrained me," I supplied.

She nodded. "You freaked out a little, but you were so drunk. You passed out a few minutes later."

"You shouldn't have given up your bed. I would have been fine anywhere," I said. I don't know why, but it bothered me that she had spent the night on the floor.

"That's Ok," she said, "I fall asleep there half the time anyway. I start reading and just can't be bothered to get into bed. There's padding under the furs, so it's comfortable."

"I hope I didn't cause too much trouble." I don't know why I wanted to continue this conversation. I guess the truth of it was that I missed talking to her. I'd spent days on end watching her. Almost as many nights fantasizing about her body under me. But, it was then that I realized that I had simply missed her.

"No!" she said a little too quickly, "you didn't cause any trouble."

She was blushing. I knew then, that I must have done something. Now, I just had to figure out what. Any discomfort I had about talking to Jessa, vanished right there.

"No trouble huh?" I raised an eyebrow at her and her blush deepened. I'd done something alright.

She ducked her head, but she wouldn't say anything else. It was pretty obvious she wasn't going to tell me. I took that as my cue, so I gathered my things, thanked her for the soup and left.

I kept to myself for the next few days. I didn't go spying on Jessa, just stayed close to my camp. I spent my time hunting, well trying to, and doing drills. During that time bits and pieces of those three days I was drinking came back to me. I've always been able to recall my binges, after the fact. By the end of the third day I remembered everything.

I had spent hours cursing her and my predicament. I drank until I fell asleep and started drinking again as soon as I woke. Most of it was just a blur of swearing and drinking. I was so angry, I wanted to kill Jessa, regardless of the consequences. I hated her for trapping me here, and I wanted her dead. I didn't care if that meant I'd be here forever. There was nothing that would ever make her let me go anyway, so killing her wouldn't change my fate. I hadn't given any thought to the fact that she'd know from her bracelet that I was coming, and that she could stop me with her magic before I could even blink. I'd gone stumbling to her cabin. She was waiting for me just outside the door. I was so far gone in drink, I couldn't do much but wave my sword around a little. She didn't bother to use any magic. She just reached out and took my it from me. I stared dumbly for a minute or so, then I demanded she give my sword back. I was mumbling and slurring so badly, I could barely understand myself. Drunk as I was, I knew she'd never be able to make out what I was saying. She just shook her head, grabbed my hand and led me inside.

She led me to the table and sat me down. I demanded some wine. She gave me water. Then she glared at me until I drank it. I tried asking for wine again, and I got more water. I used my best warlord scowl on her, but she just glared harder at me. I drank it too. Then she led me into the back room. She hadn't filled the tub, but there was a basin of water and a cloth waiting. She handed me the cloth, with another glare, and went to wait just outside the door, while I cleaned myself up a little. While I washed up, I tried to figure out what she was so mad about. I was the one that had cause to be angry. I was the prisoner here. In my drunken wisdom I decided that I just had to get that look off her face. Unfortunately, she'd taken my sword and she had a handy supply of fireballs and gods knows what else, if I got out of hand.

When she came to get me, I did the only thing I could think of. Well, there were lots of things I could think of, but this was something I could accomplish in my drunken state. When she grabbed my hand to lead me out of the back room, I pulled her against me. I was starting to sober up a little, so I was able to move fast enough to catch her off guard. I didn't give her time to react before I kissed her. I think she was too surprised to pull away. Her mouth was soft and sweet. Just like I remembered. She had stiffened a little, but after a moment she was kissing me back. It wasn't until I heard a moan, hers or mine, I'll never know, that she came to her senses and pushed me back. I still hadn't come to mine yet, so I tried to lean in and kiss her again. She just pushed me back harder. I was still far from sober, so I decided to back off, before I ended up on my butt, on the floor. Then, she led me to the bed and made me lay down. After pulling the blankets up over me, she turned to leave. I know it was my own fault what happened next. I tried to pull her into bed with me. Next thing I know, I'm tied up in those damn invisible ropes again. I didn't bother struggling too much. I already knew that would be pointless. Jessa had a funny look in her eye, but she didn't say anything until I settled down a little.

"You need to sleep it off," she said.

"Take this damn spell off!" I said. I was still wasted, but at least now I could speak more or less clearly.

"I will, once you're asleep," she said.

"I can't go to sleep without a goodnight kiss," I whined. Wasted or not. I wanted more of her.

She leaned down and kissed me. It was as good as the last one had been. After a few seconds, she pulled back.

"Go to sleep," she said. And I did.

Now I knew why she was blushing the next day. She must have been hoping I wouldn't remember. Lucky for me, I did. Especially the part where she kissed me back. Visions of seduction kept me smiling for the rest of the day.

I should have known that seducing Jessa wouldn't be easy. Even now, when, this time, I knew I had a chance. Nothing had been easy since the day I rode into that village and got darted. I'd spent enough time watching Jessa, that I knew her routine fairly well. I waited until the time she would be sitting outside reading before I headed for the cabin. I know what happened next was my own fault, but I really couldn't help myself.

I was riding along the path, thinking happy thoughts of Jessa writhing under me, when I spotted them. Three farmers. They were fairly young. Brothers, from the looks of them. They were headed towards the cabin. These were the first visitors I'd seen since I was brought here. They'd probably stayed away because they knew I was here. I had no idea why these men would take the risk of running into me. I didn't really care. This was an opportunity for some warrior type fun and I just couldn't pass it up.

I pulled out my sword and spurred my horse at the same time. They turned when they heard me yell. All three of them looked like scared rabbits when they saw who it was riding down on them. They tried to run towards the cabin, but I just rode past them and cut them off. Then, they tried to run back the way they had come. I let them run for a bit, then I got ahead and cut them off again. They were yelling and running around, trying to get away from me, and I just kept herding them back and forth. I was having a great time.

I was just about to turn them again, when Jessa showed up. She was standing in the middle of the path, glaring at me. She was so angry, her face was red and she was shaking. The farmers were between the two of us, not knowing what to do. Jessa didn't break eye contact with me, and told them to go to the cabin and wait for her. They looked so relieved, I almost laughed. The only thing that stopped me, was the realization that I now had to deal with a very angry Jessa. A Jessa who was a sorceress. A sorceress who could throw fireballs. Big, nasty fireballs.

"What do you think you're doing?" she shouted.

"Just having a little fun. I didn't hurt anybody." And I hadn't. Sure they'd been scared to death, but all I'd done was chase them a little. I don't make it a habit of killing unarmed farmers, no matter what the stories about me say. Besides, I still remembered Jessas warning about hurting any visitors. After what I saw with my men, I knew she could make me regret it if I did.

"Fun? You call this fun?" she shouted incredulously.

I just grinned at her. Considering what my idea of fun usually is, I thought this was pretty mild.

Her face managed to get even redder. She was beyond mad now. Those fireballs I'd just been thinking about, now seemed to be a very real possibility.

When she turned and stomped away back down the path, I released the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding.

I should have known things wouldn't go my way. One little distraction, and all my happy dreams of seducing my way out of here were now gone, like smoke on the wind. I spent the rest of the day riding aimlessly, and as hard as it is to admit, sulking. I made sure to stay away from the path, so I wouldn't be tempted when those farmers left later.

By the next morning, I'd managed to swallow my pride enough to go and try to make it up to her. I wasn't really sorry. It was knowing that she could have given me a taste of what she gave my men, that prompted me more than anything. I figured that since she hadn't roasted me, it was the least I could do.

She was already outside by the time I rode up. I could tell she was still mad, as she continued to slowly walk across the yard.

"I wouldn't have hurt them," I told her softly, as I dismounted and began walking beside her.

"You expect me to believe that?" she asked with quiet intensity, "How could you do that? You had no reason. They never did anything to you."

"Think about it. You've heard the stories. If I had wanted to, I could have done a lot worse than scare them. I was just playing around a little," I answered.

That seemed to mollify her a little. Only a little, mind you. She was still pretty upset with me.

"Why were they here anyway?" I asked.

"They needed some herbs for their mother. She's been very sick." Jessa answered, with a slight shrug.

"Oh," I whispered, "I'm sorry." Surprisingly, I really was sorry. Their mother must be really sick for them to have risked crossing my path.

She stopped and gave me a look, but she didn't say anything. She seemed to accept the apology though, because the angry set to her features was now gone.

We didn't say anything else, as we reached the garden and she started filling the basket she had with her. Once the basket was full, I took it and carried it for the short walk back to the cabin.

When we reached the door, she surprised me by inviting me in. I think I surprised myself by accepting.

I'm not really sure what I expected. I sat at the table and she began cutting up the vegetables she'd gathered, adding them to the pot over the fire. She wouldn't look at me. She didn't speak to me either. Though she no longer seemed angry, there was obviously something on her mind. I began to wonder if she now regretted the impulse to invite me inside. Maybe she still was angry and just trying very hard to hide the fact. Maybe it was something else.

I stood and moved to stand right behind her. She tensed but did not turn.

Softly, I accused, "You're still angry."

"No." she answered.

"Then look at me." I asked gruffly.

"No." she said again.

She started when I put my hand on shoulder, but didn't pull away. Slowly, I turned her to face me. More slowly still, I leaned in and kissed her. The kiss was slow and sweet. With that one kiss I let her know how much I wanted her. Her response told me that she wanted me too.

When the kiss ended, I looked into her eyes. It was then, that I finally realized what had happened. Me...the seducer.....the one who would use her body to gain my freedom, had been seduced by this mere girl. She had won a game that she hadn't even known was being played.

I could do nothing, but follow helplessly, as she took my hand and led me to the small bed. I wanted to run, to hide, but at her first touch I was powerless against her. Her hands left a burning trail wherever she touched, her mouth was pure fire. Slowly, she guided my up to a place I had never known existed. Suddenly, I was there, knowing only her name, as I screamed it to the gods above, again and again. Then, I whispered it with quiet reverence, as she guided me home to her again.

She told me yesterday that she'd taken it down. Still, I had to see for myself. A part of me still believes my hand will bounce back if I reach out. But the shimmer is gone. I can go now. I can leave. I can get on my horse and ride away, never to return.
Slowly I stand, and turn back to the cabin... she worries when I'm late for dinner.

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