Excerpt Her mind filled with second thoughts. As soon as she defeated one, another would jump out to worry her. Do I really want to involve Helga? It would be foolish, and dangerous, to escape alone. She glanced at the table still holding the bread and cheese from her midday meal. Will there be enough to eat? I'll take this bread and cheese and steal more from the kitchen as we leave. She stamped her foot, impatient with herself. I can’t stay here! There are no second thoughts. I have to make good my escape.
She went to the bed and reached beneath it again to bring out a second small leather bag to fill with food. As she stood, her bedroom door swung open long enough to reveal Helga silently motioning to her. One last look around and Alvilda left the room, locking the door behind her.
“Prince Alf has arrived. He wanted to slay the snakes and lizards immediately, but your father persuaded him the hour was too late. He agreed to stay the night and make his attempt at the prize in the morning.” Helga whispered this information as the two of them slipped down the circular stairs and into the corridor leading to the kitchen.
“I want to see him! I want to see if he is the way I remember him from childhood. He was so handsome then, I think I fell in love with him at first sight. His parents brought him for a visit. I believed we were to be betrothed, but father would hear nothing of the sort.”
“You risk too much if you attempt to see him, Princess. What if we are caught?” Helga spoke in hushed tones. “The others are waiting down by the postern gate. Milady, we must leave immediately.”
Alvilda ignored Helga and walked quickly toward the great hall. She simply had to see the Prince. “Just one glimpse, Helga, and I can go.”
Silently she moved down the hall, the shadows obscuring her presence to all save Helga. Standing on tip-toe she peeked through the narrow window and sighed at the sight of Prince Alf. His magnificent body stood outlined by the flickering glow of the fireplace. He had his back to her and she was able to admire the muscles outlined by his tight fitting britches. His hair fell from his shoulders in a brilliant blonde wavy sheen. Her heart pounded when he swung his head to gaze in her direction. Had he seen her? She held her breath, half-fearing discovery and half-excited by the prospect, until he shrugged and went back to staring at the fire.
“Milady, that was too close! He felt you watching him. Please, we need to make haste! The more time we have before the king discovers your escape, the better our chances to be away and not get caught. Do you want to be dragged back here to marry the prince?”
Alvilda’s eyes narrowed and her brow wrinkled. “You know I don’t want to marry anyone. I only wanted to see him. He’s beautiful, isn’t he?” She didn’t wait for Helga’s answer already moving swiftly down the corridor to the kitchen. She paused long enough to fill her leather bag with apples, bread, cheese and a full wine skin.
Making her way down the moonlit path to the postern gate, Alvilda chanced a glance up to the castle towering behind her in the night gloom. She spied her mother watching from her lighted bedroom window. She couldn’t see her mother’s tears so much as feel them deep in the core of her being. The princess touched her heart with her right hand and made to grasp it and throw it to her mother, a sign that her heart would always be with her. Her mother did the same.
Turning back toward the gate, Alvilda faced over a dozen women with their eyes on her, silently waiting for orders.
“Quickly now, no time to dawdle. Our new life begins very soon. I’m taking one of father’s ships, and the faster we move the sooner we can be at sea. If time is on my side, it will be late tomorrow morning before he discovers me gone.”
The women made their way down the cliff side path to the cove holding her father’s two ships. They boarded the smaller of the two because it was closest to the open sea. Besides, with a crew of inexperienced women as sailors, the smaller ship was the wiser choice. When all the women were aboard, Alvilda manned the rudder while the others, including Helga, took up the oars and headed out to sea.
The princess glanced over her shoulder again and imagined her mother still watching from her window. Once more she touched her heart, grasped it and threw it in the direction of the castle. She’d made good her escape. She would be her own woman. She would answer to no one, but she would certainly miss her mother.
Will Alf be angry when he finds me gone? No matter, I’m sure he will quickly get over the loss of me.
“We are well on our way, so keep watch and wake me only if there is no other choice.” Alvilda slipped below decks and found her father’s cabin. Shutting the door, she collapsed on the berth. Before long the heat of the enclosed space had her taking everything she wore off. Confident they would not be followed for some time, Alvilda smiled as she lay on the bed and stretched her naked body over the roughhewn wool cover upon the bed. He certainly was a handsome man, far more handsome than I remember. “Just stop it, he isn’t meant for you, no one is,” she said as she turned over onto her stomach and fell asleep.
His hands caressed her skin, lightly skimming over her back and across her buttocks then down the backs of her legs. Alvilda arched her back; when she did her legs slightly spread open, giving him easier access to the treasure covered in golden curls. One hand slid between her legs and delved into the curls finding her most private parts, the hard little nub hidden from the world. Stroking that tiny button elicited a small moan in the back of her throat. Encouraged, he rubbed harder and Alvilda drew her legs up, bringing herself onto her knees