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Val paced back and forth across the throne room.

“Gods, where are they?”

Already in attendance to meet with her and her wife, Queen Kenna Rys was Queen Annelyse of Aurelia, Queen Rowan of Bellmere, Empress Lia of Ducitora and Whitlock, leader of the Technocrats of the Foundry. But the annual meeting among the leaders couldn’t take place without King Tevan of Fydoria, King Diavolos of Abanthus, Dom, the ambassador for the fire people of the Blackspine Mountains and Raydan; a man without a home but friend and spymaster to the Five Kingdoms and it’s allies.

Even Kenna was frustrated with the delay of her guests and decided to adjourn the meeting until the following day.

“I can’t believe Dom would do this to me.” Abruptly, Kenna stood up and walked over to the window. It was beautiful outside as day transitioned to night. There were still hues of orange that blended with the purple and pink tones with hints of blue just beginning to emerge. “Maybe the others, but Dom should’ve known better than to be late.”

 

“Probably off with Sei enjoying not being cooped up in a stuffy castle.” Kenna glared at her. “Uh, I mean, no offense. It’s just that it’s a shame to not explore outside, especially since we didn’t even get anything done.”

Kenna sighed. “You’re right, Val. It’s been too long since you and I went on an excursion and tonight would seem particularly ideal. It’s warm out there with clear skies.” With the corner of her eye, she looked back at Val. “It would seem fitting if we went out to bathe by the waterfall.”

Val picked Kenna up and swung her around before setting her back down and planting a long kiss on her lips. “Now you’re talking my language, gorgeous.”

“Do you think Dom and the others will be alright when they arrive and we’re gone?”

Val rolled her eyes. “I’m sure Helene and Jackson will be happy to keep them company. Besides, if they didn’t want us sneaking out, they wouldn’t have dragged their feet getting here.”

“I suppose you’re right…” Kenna thought for a moment before melting at the sight of Val’s pleading eyes. “Oh, alright. It’ll be fun and there’s always tomorrow for work and meetings.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me.”

They both chuckled and took each other’s hand before venturing out into the forest they knew so well.

 

It hadn’t been long before they heard a screech that sent a chill throughout their bones. The kind of sound that could startle even these battle-hardened warriors.

At a blinding speed, they both raced to the source of the cry and found a small fox with its tail caught in a trap.

“Oh my gods,” Val’s face was red hot and tears streamed down her cheeks, “what kind of monster could do this to you? I swear I’m going to send them to the Three Hells myself.”

Kenna placed a comforting hand on Val’s shoulder. “My love, we must remain calm. It looks like our little friend was merely startled.”

Val examined the fox’s tail and saw no sign of serious injury. “Thank Gods,” she said wiping her face, “now we just have to set you free.”

As the orange tones gave way to purple and blue, Val worked methodically to undo the trap and release the poor creature. And as soon as the jaws sprung open, the fox darted off in the distance and was gone in the blink of an eye.”

Once Val knew the creature was safe, she picked up the trap by the chain and smashed it over and over again against a boulder until it was in pieces.

“Try hurting an innocent defenseless creature now!!!”

Kenna stood back and gave Val a moment to catch her breath before hugging her from behind. She places light kisses on the back of Val’s neck and stroked her hair affectionately.

“You never cease to amaze me, Val. I’ve seen you go through men with ease on the battlefield, but a small, fragile fox has you broken and weeping.”

Val turned around to face Kenna. “That’s different-”

Her words are cut off by a kiss from Kenna. There are no words needed for the moment as their lips press in the forest lit only by the full moon. The Warrior Queen had seen Val display compassion for animals and children many times before, and that was the side that no one else was allowed to witness.

To the masses, Queen Val would only be a bloodthirsty, former mercenary with a short temper and perhaps too strong a love for ale. Only Kenna got to see Val open up about her past and be the beautiful angel she truly was. Kenna knew how deeply in love they both were when Val’s softer side was revealed to her.

“Perhaps we should go back, Kenna. I’m worried about that little fella.”

Taking Val’s hand, Kenna started to walk with her through the thick lining of trees and bushes. “He’ll be ok, Val. I promise. I don’t know why, but I just know for a fact that he will be safe. Besides, you talked me into this and now I’m determined to share an evening of bathing by the waterfall with you.”

Val walked just fast enough to keep pace with Kenna. “I suppose so.” Her feet faced forward, but her eyes shifted all around the moonlit woodland. With each passing moment, her motions grew sluggish.

Kenna was undeterred. She knew a nice, cool dip in the river would be all that Val needed to take her mind off that fox. If only Val could have that same sense of security for the fox that Kenna had. Then she could relax with her wife.

As always, their destination was manifested in the mists that soaked their clothes and the thunderous pounding of the waters descent. Even Val started to smile when she thought of the many nights spent swimming in the nude with Kenna. Eagerly, she reached for Kenna’s armor when a small, orange glow caught her eye.

“Oh hells, do you see that, Kenna?”

The Warrior Queen nodded. They both knew that whatever was on the other side of the river would need to be dealt with before they could indulge themselves.

Slowly, methodically, the Queens of Stormholt navigated the waters for rocks, logs or anything that stuck out which they could walk on to keep dry. They both suspected the worst and didn’t want to be bogged down by wet armor before a fight.

Their fears were justified. For as they closed the distance between them and the fire, Kenna could make out the face of Dom and the other tied and gagged by what appeared to be about two dozen in leather armor, not dissimilar to Val’s.

“Mercenaries,” Val said in a whisper. Kenna could see the hair on the back of her wife’s head standing. “I’d bet Stormholt that some of them served with Severin too. That bastard would do anything for the coin. Even I had standards; unlike these sorry assholes.”

“Ransom?”

Val slowly bobbed her head in agreement. “No doubt about it. Those four guys are worth a fortune to the Five Kingdoms. I mean, not to me, but I guess we gotta go do the ‘heroic’ thing.”

Kenna smiled to herself, for try as she might, Val could never fool her wife into believing she wasn’t a shining example of virtue and courage. Still, it was always fun to let Val put up her rough exterior. There was a charm in the juxtaposition between who Val was and who she wanted everyone to believe of her.

They quietly made their way to the campsite and assessed the situation. Clearly, the men had been drinking a great deal and the other half were asleep. This would almost be too easy for the Queens.

One by one, Kenna and Val would pick their targets, knocking them out before they knew what was happening. It only helped that they had the cover of darkness add to the captor’s confusion. And like a well-oiled machine, the Queens made short work of the mercenaries.

“Hells, Kenna. I’ve been aching for a good fight.” Val turned to Dom as she untied him. “I see your fire powers didn’t do much good.”

“We’re in the middle of a heavily wooded forest,” Dom says gritting his teeth, “everything would’ve gone up in flame and Stormholt would be ashes by now.”

“Glad to know you’re not as dumb as you look,” she replied, looking at the four men, “so let me guess. You’ve come to rely so much on your dragon abilities that you were useless once you realized you couldn’t use them, Raydan here is used to always being several steps ahead of his opponent that for the first time he was caught off guard and had no idea how to improvise, Diavolos is all about leading his troops from the front lines and displaying what a great leader he is; only there were no soldiers for him to lead, and Tevan is stuck in a mindset where combat mean protocol and manners; the source of poems and crap like that. Only, mercenaries don’t give a damn about playing nice in a fight. And when it came down to it you were a bunch of scared boys who needed the kind of help that only queens can provide.”

Dom’s face turned red hot and looked to Kenna who merely shrugged her shoulders. “Sorry, boys, but my wife is absolutely right. Brute strength can’t solve anything and you shouldn’t expect any two battles to be the same. Val and I fight like a team. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, however few we have, and we’re always anticipating what our opponent may do.”

“So you fellas ok to make it to the castle without Kenna and me to protect you?”

The men were shaking but said nothing. They knew better than to upset the women who had saved their lives. Silence ensued for an uncomfortable moment. Knowing that they owed everything to Val was a less than pleasant prospect, but the fact remained that she and Kenna risked their lives to save them. So one by one they all extended their hands for the Queens to graciously (surprisingly so in Val’s case) shake them.

As the men were about to depart, a low howl pierced the night air. But it wasn’t a ferocious howl. There was an inviting sound that beckoned the group. Immediately, Kenna and Val knew the source.

Their friend, the fox emerged to snuggle against Val’s leg. She wasn’t sure how to act in front of the men but decided she cared more about what the fox thought of her then those same people who needed her to save them moments earlier.

Gently, Val picked the fox up to pet him. “I think I’ll call you, Leon,” she whispered softly and kissed the top of the creature’s head before handing him to Tevan.

“You jerkoffs better get him to the castle safe and sound, or you’ll wish Kenna and I had left you to the mercenaries.”

Tevan’s eyes went wide, and he looked back at his companions before they made their way back on the path to Stormholt.

Once the men were out of sight, Val and Kenna held each other close, laughing heartily. Getting interrupted proved to be worth the events they’d both experienced by the waterfall, but now they wanted to unwind.

With the fire put out, the moonlight was no longer encroached upon allowing the dark blue of the sky to be clear and for Kenna and Val to undress each other in peace and harmony with nature. Their surroundings may have been obscure, but up close they could see each other with absolute clarity. Every line, curve, scar and everything else about their bodies were revealed to each other as they walked, naked, to the water.

They both placed their hands softly on each other’s butts and dove into the cool water. And as they swan in the clean river, they felt thankful for the mighty waterfall that kept the streams flowing and held each other close along the bank to gaze at the moon. It proved to be a most romantic ending to their adventure.