God Save the Queen
by Jennifer Nugent
The sword sizzled as he unsheathed it, raising it in warning to the men on inching forward on horseback.
“Nicolette, go!” The command came like a guttural growl as though he weren’t a man but a wild animal preparing to defend its young cub from a savage predator.
The snap of fallen tree limbs and the crunch of horse hooves on the brown foliage carpet were the only sounds on that makeshift battlefield. She sat on top of his horse, fear winding its way up her legs like wild ivy growing among the surrounding trees. She didn’t want to leave him behind, but if they captured her, the hope for rebuilding her kingdom would be lost.
As the last heir to the throne of the fallen kingdom of Edenburg, she could trust no one. An embittered former knight with nothing to lose, he was the perfect candidate for delivering her to the protection of the neighboring kingdom of Darfur.
He watched, waiting for her to go, turning back to his opponent in time to deflect an unfamiliar sword swinging towards him. She dug her heels into the horse’s sides and, holding tightly to the beast beneath her, she raced deeper into the forest.
He’d vowed to give his life to protect her. Her heart ached as the cries of men in war and the clanks of metal on metal rang out behind her and she wondered if that would be the day he’d make good on that promise.