Looking back, it was no real surprise that I be so drawn to him. He was my constant companion, strong and silent--a blank canvas to satisfy my every need. Tall and muscular, the chiseled features of his face were partially obscured by a well-trimmed, graying beard. His eyes were a deep, rich color of brown and his gaze spoke volumes. Unfortunately for both of us, there was the discrepancy of translation...
With the holy war over and the Houseborne disbanded, King Roarke was faced with a societal conundrum. As one of the bastard class, Misha had no rights of citizenship, was prohibited from marriage, garnering wages and even reading. Men in the tens of thousands suddenly had no place to call home. Even as the secular war continued to rage, these men were prohibited from joining the ranks of the true countrymen and land owners.
Never more that twenty steps away, Misha's charge was to see all without looking or speaking, both night and day. The intent was for him to become an invisible part of the scenery. I spent my days trying to reinvent myself among the young women of the court. Their handiwork was tedious and the gossip was mainly about, well, women like me. The Queen was suddenly too distracted by D'Hir to waste her precious energy on either the King or I.
As for my relationship with Ompar, I was relieved that the King's fetishes were not exclusively of a sexual nature and I was afforded much opportunity for imaginative and amusing play. He loved the outdoors as much as I and even fancied himself a woodsman. He enjoyed falling trees. Often he would have drunken competition with his guards and servants see who could log roll longer. Since he was so enamored with my delicate feet I was precluded from joining the contests.
While Misha worked so hard at being a statue, I bared my heart to him, sang, danced, flirted shamelessly. I imagined that he wanted me desperately, yet feared for his life.
Day after day I plotted to win his affection and release him from his impervious state. I decided that it was best to remove ourselves from prying eyes and while on a seemingly innocent walk near the stables I borrowed a horse and darted away, knowing full well that Misha would have no choice but to chase after me. Riding full speed through the countryside I felt free and alive. I knew Misha must feel the same. I was giddy with delight and rode into a wooded area. The sunlight that trickled through the tree tops was intoxicating...
The next thing I remember was lying on the ground, with a terrible headache. Misha kneeling beside me pressing down hard on my forehead with his ripped sleeve."Stop it, you're hurting me!" I demanded.
"The tree hurt you. You've been knocked senseless for quite some time. Of course, in your case, it's more of being knocked silent."
When I tried to sit up, Misha held me down. "You'll stay put until the bleeding stops." He chided, "How am I supposed to explain this escapade to the King? Do you want to get me thrown in prison? It's my job to keep you safe, or haven't you grasped that yet?"
I looked at him and smiled. "You have a beautiful voice."
"I must insist that you don't kill yourself on my watch," Misha said stoically.
"I was in the mood for a ride."
"Everything is about you, princess."
"Don't call me that."
"You're still second in line for the throne whether you choose to play the part or not."
"I'm hungry," I said. Judging from the look on his face as he handed me his water skin I suppose I was whining. "I said I'm hungry, not thirsty."
"Perhaps if you told me ahead of time that you were planning to run away I'd have packed us a light lunch."
"You're very snide."
"And you're very impetuous."
"I want to go home," I said struggling to stand.
"I really don't think you're ready... " He sprung up and caught me before I fell back down to the ground. My head was throbbing now."I'll make a deal with you, princess: if you can keep quiet, I'll tell you my story." Misha shot a forceful look at me when I went to open my mouth. He raised one eyebrow and waited...
Misha told me story after story about Nalev. Though much of it was obscured by the throbbing in my skull I tried my best to focus on his voice.
"I would do anything to know what has happened to Lev and to his son."
"Communication has been impossible with Cznorh, but I will speak with King Neopar on your behalf," I promised.
"Thank you, princess."
"I think I can make it back now."
He held out his hand and helped me to my feet and waited until I was steady. We rode at a snail's pace and were fortunate to make it back before dark.
I spoke to Ompar on Misha's behalf and was quite pleased that he seemed so willing to lend his assistance in finding Nalev and Rad'en'. In a very short time the three of us became inseparable. So much so that the king determined a marriage was in order, not to protect my honor as the wanton mistress by providing me with a cuckhold, but his own for he was growing far too enamored with Misha.