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Benedict woke with a strange lightheadedness. For a moment he didn't know where he was. Couldn't recall anything. He lay on a bed. When he tried to sit up, he realized his arms were restrained.
Benedict tugged at the shackles locked to his wrists. It started to come back to him. Samson and the others were escorting him home and then...
"Fight all you want, you can't get out of those."
Lord, he was naked, too. Benedict stared at his bare flesh, lit by what seemed to be dozens of wall sconces. Yet where was the voice coming from?
"You might be a little dizzy still. It takes some adjustment to come back from that particular spell."
Benedict blinked, and his head hurt. Spell? Then he really had been shrunk? And his men ... Had they been killed?
"I'm not going to hurt you, your highness."
That man. He'd fallen from the tree. A dark angel. But not an angel. Something far more sinister.
"I'm ... I'm not a prince," Benedict whispered, finding his voice, seeming to speak to no one.
"You are the king's son."
"A bastard son only."
"Ah, but you are infinitely more than that to the king. You are well-favored."
Benedict shook his head. "Who are you? Why do you hide yourself and where are my men and my ... clothes?"
For several moments, a low rumbling chuckle was his only answer.
There was movement by the door, but still Benedict could see no one there. "What trickery is this?"
"I know not the current whereabouts of your men. Or whether they live to tell of their failure to protect you. If they did survive, no doubt your father will see to their execution. They are no longer a concern to you, yourhighness. As for your clothes ... you do not need them for what I have in mind. You are my prisoner and are mine to do with as I please."
Benedict's heartbeat raced. He swallowed the lump of fear forming in his throat.