The "Boss"

Days had passed since tidying of the brigand encampment had begun. Daphne worked at whatever pace she felt like keeping, but it was still nice to have something to do beyond pacing her little cabin with her mind churning over her predicament.

Daphne looked around the camp while wandering aimlessly. It did look much nicer now, and far less cluttered and clumsy. It would never be nice or pleasant to live in...but it almost made the mass of brigands look competent.

"If they don't look competent for whoever their "boss" is, what would happen? Maybe they just respect him that much, and it's not actually fear I've been sensing." She had noticed everyone around her working hurriedly over the past few days. Hushed tones and eyes that flicked about anxiously at anything which could be the sound of someone arriving certainly hinted more toward fear than respect and desire to please.

Her wandering was cut short as she nearly smacked into the back of one of the brigands, who had suddenly ceased walking. He stood in the middle of the walkway, holding what appeared to be a heavy crate; yet he appeared transfixed on the road in the distance.

A quick survey of the camp informed Daphne that this was everyone's response. She shivered unwittingly. "Why..?"

Her answer came swiftly. Riding up the road on a magnificent gray horse, came a tall man. His hood hung halfway off his head, casting shadow across his cheeks but leaving his face visible. Even if his hood had been casting shadow across his entire face, Daphne felt she would have seen his eyes. She would later describe them as keen and piercing, but dead and dark. His skin was as pale as moonlight, and his hair seemed blacker than shadow.

"Oh. This is him."

A party of seven men rode behind him. There was no doubt in her mind that those men would be better equipped to fight and dominate than -any- of the brigands in this camp.

The tall man's gaze swept the entire camp, as all else was still. His gaze seemed to bore into each heart, as if digging in to how much each person would hold loyal to him endlessly. He smiled, but his eyes spoke more than his mouth.

"I am their master. Their king. Their god." No words he might have spoken in that moment could have been as clear as his gaze. Yet it halted as it caught Daphne. She set her jaw, if only to keep it from trembling, as his smile simultaneously darkened and broadened.

He dismounted and stepped around the still bodies 'til he came to where she was now standing as still as the others. He reached out and took her chin to turn her face both ways as if evaluating her worth.

"So," he began, his voice smooth as honey, "You are the woman that useless merchant wanted to own." He released her chin, running his fingers up her neck until they met the end of the point in her chin and nearly flicking her head backward as he lifted his hand away. He immediately wiped his hand on a handkerchief, as though disgusted by touching her.

"You will enjoy this evening quite a bit, I think," he whispered near her ear before breezing past her.

She did not know what he spoke of...but she knew his words were more to be concerned about than anything Harold could have ever spoken to her.