THE KINGS DAUGHTER
BY Miriam Newman
AVAILABLE IN EBOOK & KINDLE
COMING IN PRINT
There was only one direction I could look and that was down the road where we had just come. Now someone else was coming straight up the middle so that people scattered like chickens. A young, unhelmeted Omani trooper was riding down that road on a fine long-legged gray horse, bawling in a voice which did not doubt its own authority. Though I couldn’t hear the words, I knew what he was saying—troops were coming and he wanted the way cleared
I couldn’t clear the road. I was chained in it and knew my peril. There was a curve in that road and by the time they saw me, it would be too late. My only hope was that Frado would unfasten the manacles and push me off the road and for a fraction of a second I actually thought he might do it, if only to avoid trouble with the Army. He got free of a woman who had been throwing melons at his head when she ran for her life and came back beside me, but he was still in a fury and it was only to punch me in the face.
I heard the gray horse score the cobblestones, launching into a full charge.
flew where his metal shoes beat on the stones as he came like evil incarnate, ears pinned and teeth bared, head snaking as he went straight for Frado. Fat as he was, Frado could by no means get over the wall on my side of the street and started to trundle to the other side and, with that, the horse was on him. Sparks
He was obviously a well-trained cavalry mount and I thought the rider meant to let him savage his target.
But at the last moment the trooper swung his horse just enough to clear Frado, jerked his foot from the stirrup and kicked the slaver squarely in the back at a speed just under that of a battle charge. The force was so great that it picked up that mountain of a man like a doll and deposited him face down near the opposite side of the street.
My vision had taken on the preternatural sharpness that precedes seeing nothing and I saw in heart-stopping detail the first of what seemed like a hundred horses coming around the curve at a fast canter.
If I had been in better condition, I would have wondered why a number like that was coming at such speed through a country at peace, but just then I was in no condition to care. I lay there like something thrown on the midden heap.
That point man didn’t have the job, though, because he was slow or stupid. I heard the noise of his horse coming back and saw a boy no older than myself with a shining mane of chestnut hair already dropping from his trotting mount and running towards me with the horse close behind.
With no time to spare, he clucked his horse over me in the position a war horse takes to shield a fallen rider, dropped the reins and threw himself on top of me. He was protecting me with his body, arms curled over my head, pulling my face into his chest, so I saw little of what followed, but I heard it: the tremendous din of all those horseshoes, riders cursing, horses snorting in surprise, and the squealing and kicking of the horse over top of us.
That boy was holding me like a lover and I could feel from his involuntary shudders that he was inches from death, but he never moved and neither did his horse.
The troopers didn’t want to kill their own man and horses listen to each other better than they do to us, so between the efforts of riders and the violence of the gray horse trying to save his rider the line shifted and passed and I was still alive.
And DON'T forget to check out Book II – Heart of the Earth – available in pdf/Kindle at www.miriamnewman.com – click on the Books tab.
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