Title: Betrayal

Chapter: 1

Category: Romance/Historical

Summary: The fate of her Kingdom already depended on Cecilia but now she bore the burden of a wounded young man who could not remember anything. Sequel to Rejected.

Cautionary Note: Mind the errors.

Author's Note: I am not dead.. I think. This is tiny, I know.

"My dear Lady, you should not be witnessing such a gruesome situation. This is a highly technical procedure and a woman such a yourself could be rendered hysterical by the proceedings," The elderly medical practitioner gave the new arrival in his medical tent a severe look, "it would be highly inconvenient."

Cecilia's green eyes narrowed and she brought up her blood sodden hands while replying in a monotone, "Yes, I am utterly inconsolable."

"Well, as it may be it is best if you leave immediately. There is much work to be done," The white haired man firmly closed the curtain. She could still look inside because the curtained off area hardly reached below her knees so it would be easy to bend over and see but Cecilia decided to retain some form of dignity.

She turned around just in time to see Lord Fanning enter the tent with a dramatic flair. He was the leading explorer assigned in the royal backed mission to lead the mostly academic lot into the wilderness. In another life Cecilia would have found the man enchanting but now he was a regular nuisance like the thorn on the roses he had sent to her.

"I do not know if the rumours are true but it must be a shock for such a delicate young lady such as yourself to be caught in such a position." Lord Fanning observed her windswept hair and bloody fingers with alarm.

"What are you even doing in here?" Sir Russell, a severe looking gentlemen, followed the other man in.

"I just want to know what are his chances for survival. I feel responsible since I am the one who discovered him," Cecilia completely ignored Fanning's imploring glances and addressed the other man. Russell might hate her but at least he did not disguise how useless he found her with flowery words. Fanning seemed to think his pretty insults were a seductive art.

"That was terribly dangerous of you, Lady Cecilia. For all we know you came upon a rogue bandit. There is a reason it is forbidden to leave the camp circle."

"It was a perfectly clear day with nary a rider in the distance. I thought it looked perfectly safe from my vantage point."

"Perfectly safe enough to conceal corpses only feet from our lodgings," Fanning snorted at her gullibility.

"He is not dead as yet," The red headed Lady glared at Fanning who seemed to enjoy any attention she gave him.

"The man was littered with arrows. I do not see his chances improve even with the immediate medical attention he is getting," Russell answered, gruffly.

"Only three of them were embedded in his back. I did try to remove one but he was in too much pain. Otherwise they seemed shallow," Cecilia pointed out.

"Utterly foolish of you I must say." Clyde Chester, the leading researcher, wandered in with a disdainful air, "Removing the arrows is such a silly thing to do since removing them by yourself would only lead to blood loss and a sure death. The Prince did warn us of your capricious nature."

"Yes, yes, I am sure Damian warned you of all my flaws for they are great in number, indeed," The girl crossed her arms and looked away. Clyde Chester thought himself to be above all others and found her especially distasteful.

Her mutinous thoughts were halted by a shout from behind the curtains and she would have darted back inside if Lord Fanning had not seized her arm.

"It would be best if you are escorted back to your rooms. You are in no state to help anyone," Sir Russell rumbled gravely and in fit of pique Cecilia shrugged off the other man's hand and marched outside with murder written on her face.

"My lady I heard the news. How utterly distraught you must be," Beth wrung her apron.

"Not you too," Cecilia groaned and landed with a thump on her bed, face down. It was not quite as sturdy as her oak structure back at home but it could take her weight and still be dismantled once the entire camp was ready to move to their next location.

"There has been so much talk. Simon's been telling me all about how you walked into camp with soldiers carrying a dead body."

"There's no body," Cecilia turned to her maid, "The man's not dead yet although in the hands of the incompetent Barrings I have no doubt all my good work will be for naught. That man is a menace. Keeps thinking I'll go raving mad any second."

"And they say the same about you behind your back," The red nosed maid informed her quite morosely.

"Behind it?" The Lady snorted, "I've heard enough from the men themselves. I am apparently a twelve year old woman determined to get myself killed it seems."

"It's a dangerous world," Beth cautioned with a troubled look on her face, "They don't think womenfolk can survive it."

"Don't I know it. I am not here for amusements and games, you know. I am not some whimsical noble's daughter out for an adventure. I have a purpose on this trip and I intend to achieve that with or without their help.

"You come in lieu of the Princess since she is in the family way..." The maid tried to guess.

"No, although I wish Delilah had come. I need her here. I am not competent enough for the task she has set for me which is mine alone. Not even she could take my place."

"If there's any noble lady I know who can. You're as good as any man," The younger girl beamed fiercely making her mistress smirk back

"Better than any man," Cecilia said decisively.

"Indeed, why don't you have supper fit enough for any ravenous man."

"No, I am too tired for now. I wish to have an early morning tomorrow. There is much to do," Cecilia decided on a whim. She had to wake up before everyone else or her plan would be shattered to bits by her wardens.

It was still dark out when Cecilia's eyes snapped open. Beth was snoring steadily on her rickety camping canvas bedroll. She reached for her heavy woollen cloak and put it on quietly, hiding her curled locks. Her good luck continued when she peered out from under her tent door and found her guard, Simon, also drooling over himself. Beth and Simon were a match made in heaven as the two people totally oblivious to her crafty ways. Cecilia used her guard's incompetence and crawled out from under her fastened canvas door, stealthily made her way through the various tents in the camp-site. The second largest medical tent was her destination.

There was no moon that night and barely any guards were patrolling on the backs of the tents near the outer wall since there were armed soldiers keeping watch on the outside. It was an easy task to dart across in the shadows and find herself near a small ditch. She dug out a little more space for herself using her carefully manicured nails and crawled right into the curtained areas where the man she had discovered earlier still lay on his stomach with his eyes closed. Thankfully there was no signs of bloody arrows poking out of any place on his body. She had enough nightmares as it is.

The Lady took a moment to see how her charge was doing but was distracted by her other observations. The man was a head turner through and through. If they had met in polite settings Cecilia would have blushed till her face matched her head. Even now her ears heated up seeing his barely covered back. It was covered in thick bandages and they were not enough to hide how attractive she found the man.

She had seen many a pretty face especially now that she could lounge in the capital at her leisure; having a princess for a cousin had bestowed much upon on her previously empty social life so it was not his facial features attracting her anymore than usual. She had seen prettier and then some but there was just something about his build and the way he was formed that made him seem incredibly powerful. Like he could crush a neck with his bare fist. Even all the blood loss and pain had not diminished the strength radiating from him.

She moved in closer to see if there was something recognizable about him. He was much darker skinned than her with thick hair that reached the end of his neck. He had too narrowly set eyes, a pointed nose and a thick stubble that was not quite a beard. He was definitely not from her country although she could hardly know that since her cousin Edward's wife was a mixture from both the eastern country and her husband's. Zartashia looked different but having been brought up by her father in this country she was as much of their country as Ed was.

Who has felled such a powerful looking being and that too in the back. Cecilia wondered. Men did not always look as noble as they appeared. She had learned her lesson too well in the past year. Her next thought was maybe he was a coward running away which she quickly wiped away. She could neither give him imaginary laurels nor snide insults when she knew nothing of the matter. He could just have been an innocent bystander caught by some bandits although he looked less like an average peasant.

There was a shuffling sound near a corner of the room; near the tent wall which prompted the Lady to duck down next to patient's bed. She peered down from underneath the coverings to see a masked man roll out from under the tent's wall.