Rebecca looked out of her father's spacious tent at the bustling oasis of Kor. Since her father, Chief Nabor, had departed with his soldiers, the place had been transformed into a habitation of women. Everyone was anxious about the wellbeing of their men. Kor had lived peacefully for many years, until Amos had become king of the neighboring Kingdom of Zoopor, the land of the Ten Oases. Amos knew full well that his army would stand no chance against the mighty Egyptians to his west so he had turned his greedy eyes to his smaller neighbors. Kor controlled the trade route to the north and its people enjoyed great prosperity because of that. Amos had demanded that Nabor surrender his realm without a fight. Nabor trusted his gods to deliver his people from King Amos' rapacious greed.
Rebecca had seen eighteen summers, but nothing had prepared her for this war. She knew that her people could expect no mercy from King Amos's horde. Until these recent fearful days, her life had been idyllic. Her father indulged her every wish. He allowed her great freedom and even had her tutored by the best teachers available. It was a rare privilege for a mere female. The pretty princess could read and speak several languages and her skill on horseback was well known. The young woman's favor was not surprising. She had inherited her deceased mother's beauty and intelligence. She was remarkably fair skinned and had long red hair that hung in loose ringlets that hung well below her shoulders. Her mother had been an Irish beauty. The young woman had been captured by Mediterranean pirates and later purchased by her father in the notorious slave market at Alexandria. Her death due to a dreadful fever had devastated Chief Nabor.
Rebecca's beauty was well known in the land. Nabor had not been able to find a suitable husband for his prized daughter, so she had never known a man. Had he been able to arrange a match with the handsome King Amos this conflict might have been avoided. Rebecca was in love with her freedom and she was glad that the negotiations had failed. The princess's opinion of sex was strongly influenced by her personal slave, Tamar.
The girls had grown up together and they behaved more like sisters than mistress and servant. Tamar was a year older than Rebecca, but her virginity had not been preserved. Nabor had deflowered the girl over a year before. The coupling had been rough and her vivid account of the pain and humiliation at her master's hands had frightened Rebecca. Nabor still grieved the loss of Rebecca's mother, so he seldom bedded Tamar or any of his other concubines.
Rebecca called Tamar's name. The slave girl appeared a moment later. Like all of Nabor's slave girls, the olive skinned beauty's breasts were kept bare whenever she was inside his tents. "Have my horse saddled," Rebecca said. "I want to ride to the top of the hill and watch the battle."
"Your father will not be pleased." Tamar warned.
"Let me worry about my father. I have to know what is happening. Get the horse." Rebecca covered her fair skin with a long robe and hood. She took pride in how few freckles she had in spite of the scorching desert sun. Concealed under her dark garments, no one would realize that she was Chief Nabor's red haired princess.
Rebecca mounted her prized mare easily and rode to witness the battle. She dismounted a little before the crest of the hill and crept forward being careful not to allow herself to be silhouetted against the bright sky. King Amos's army was arrayed to her left and her father's smaller force was to her right. She smiled at the sight of her heroic father astride his big gray stallion with his sword held high overhead. She whispered a quick prayer that his smaller host could be victorious.
She was not able to decide which one of the opposing generals was King Amos. Perhaps the coward was hiding safely in the rear of his army. She doubted he would dare to show the courage her father was displaying.
The battle started slowly. Rows of opposing spearmen marched proudly forward. They met in a brutal melee that left many writhing in the dust. Rebecca cheered as King Amos's front line parted and her father led his courageous troops forward in a mighty surge. Without warning, disaster struck. The army of Zoopor's retreat had been a cowardly trick. A block of archers appeared in the gap and let loose a fearsome volley of deadly arrows. Nabor's front rank evaporated before her eyes and worse yet her father fell.
She screamed in near hysteria as she saw the cruel arrow pierce his neck. He tumbled into the roiling mass of men and disappeared. Without their heroic leader, Nabor's men panicked. Most were ridden down by King Amos's horsemen and brutally slaughtered. The rest were quickly rounded up to serve their new master as miserable slaves. Rebecca could not bear to watch any more.
She quickly mounted her horse and fled. The village of Kor would provide no refuge, so she headed south hoping to slip into King Amos's nearest oasis and escape notice there. The ruse might have worked if one of Zoopor's sharp-eyed commanders had not seen her horses plume of dust. Unfortunately, his stallion was swifter than Rebecca's mare and he overtook her.
Captain Tristan had planned to lop off the head of the fleeing enemy. He had his sword drawn for that very purpose. At the last moment, he decided that the dark clad fugitive might be worth more alive and dead. He brought the flat side of his weapon against the fleeing figures narrow shoulders.
Rebecca went sprawling off her horse when Tristan struck her. Every bit of air was forced from her lungs when she hit the hard ground. "On your feet, rascal," he shouted. "You are my prisoner." He used the tip of his sword to flip back Rebecca's hood. The cascade of auburn curls startled him, but he quickly realized that he had the incredible good fortune of capturing Chief Nabor's celebrated daughter.
"Kill me you coward," Rebecca screamed as she coughed up a small cloud of dust. She struggled to get a full breath. "I refuse to be the captive of any of King Amos's vile lackeys."