Terms Of His Honor
Chapter 8 - Part 2
hands hauled the lady to her feet. Connal saw the man now, and
recognized him instantly. He had seen that face time and again, in
dreams brought back by wine and the darkness of nights in the forest.
Rhydon, that was his name. The man who had, upon order from their king and with help and blessing from the usurper Festil, slain every man, woman and child of Connal's kin.
Connal gripped the hilt of his dagger until blood seeped beneath his nails. He could slay the man here. A short drop, no difficulty compared with some of the things he had been forced to do in the past year and more for his own survival. A blade in his exposed back and Rhydon, Duke of Corwyn by right of murder, would live no longer.
Rhydon obliged Connal by thrusting his face a scant inch before the lady's. "Did you think I would not have you watched? I learned this morn your courses began yesterday. Yet you feared so to tell me you cowered in your chamber."
"My lord, I beg you. Have patience."
"Patience?" Rhydon shook her then until her head bobbed helplessly on her swanlike neck. "I wed you, took you from your father's house where you had little beyond food for the next meal! The price I paid for your scrawny body dowered your sisters into useless laziness in some Bremagne convent! You owe me, wench!"
The lady raised her head then. A flash of spirit lit her eyes. "My lord, when you wed me I was but ten years. I cannot be blamed if you were displeased with what you purchased, for I had not yet my full growth."
"And now?" His voice mocked her, but he did at last release her.
She remained steady. "I pray daily for a son, my lord."
"Perhaps if I were to take you upon the altar of yon chapel your prayers might be better heard. Or perhaps if you prayed a bit during the effort in my bed. All you can manage is to lay beneath me like a fish pulled from the water a day past."
She flinched. Connal decided then and there he would emasculate Rhydon ere he opened his belly.
"My lord, I ever endeavor to do as you wish. I ---"
Rhydon's hand shot out to catch her by the throat before she could finish. "I am the last of a proud line, wench! For the service my family has given the Furstan clan over the generations I was given this rich prize. The pitiful human who held it last left so many sons it took near a day to slay them all.
"I give you one month more, lady." Rhydon released her. His last words fell like shards of granite. "If you have not conceived by Christmas tide I shall put you aside. None will fault me for ridding myself of a barren wife!"
Heavy footsteps and a door slamming told Connal Rhydon had left the room. The lady collapsed on the bed, shaking with the emotions she would not release.
Connal relaxed his hand and waited, silent, until she composed herself and left. A plan formed in his mind as he watched the slender duchess arrange her veil, straighten her gown and brush the tears from her cheeks.
His smile stretched his cheeks. Revenge would be too simple, too sweet to pass by. He would strip Corwyn of every ill gotten valuable, every prize of conquest.
That would be better justice than death for the avaricious Rhydon.
When at last the lady departed Connal slipped from his hiding place and returned to the chest. He gathered two sacks of coin and stuffed them into his tunic. More would make him too ungainly to slip over the wall.
But this was only a down payment on Rhydon's debt. He would return for the rest, and for satisfaction in more ways than one.