The Storm Prince, Chapter 2

I almost forgot to do this today! Oops. I didn’t get much writing done this week because of classes and everything, so I guess we will do another chapter of the Storm Prince. I hope you enjoy it.

The brownie healer wrapped his ribs with gauze tape, long fingers soft and quick as drifting feathers. By daylight the room was gorgeously adorned. Stained glass cast bright reflections on the carpet near the bed. All of the furniture was wood carved about with vines and flowers, gleaming with polish. The air smelled of the orange blossoms on the tree outside the window.

“There, m’lord,” said the healer in her little voice, “All finished. You’re very brave about the pain. I can’t imagine having a wound like that for so long.”

Beri gave the healer a smile and she dropped her eyes to the floor at his feet. “It has only been a few days since the arrow, madam. Your careful ministrations have done wonders for it.” Every word was true. His skin felt tight where the gash had scabbed over, but the pain was much reduced. He thought of the wound Karen had taken from an arrow that had only glanced off her ribs. It had become infected in their flight through the forest. Beri’s stomach roiled with worry, but he did not ask after her. His mother had made it very clear that he was not to express interest in Karen’s wellbeing aloud.

“You are kind,” murmured the brownie. “So few of the Sidhe are.” Her large eyes went even wider. She glanced up into his face and then quickly away. “Ah, that is to say, one such as myself scarcely deserves kindness from a Sidhe lord.”

Beri laughed and placed a hand against the little creature’s shoulder to reassure her. She stifled a scream with her fingertips and he yanked his hand away from her as if her skin was superheated. The Birthright, he remembered. She is afraid my touch will kill her.

The healer seemed near tears as she gasped, “I am deeply sorry, m’lord! I meant no offense to you! Please spare your stupid servant!”

“It is I who am sorry,” Beri stammered. “I did not mean to frighten you.”

The brownie responded by bowing very low. Her voice shook when she asked, “May I be dismissed, m’lord?”

“As you will it.” The healer fled, casting a final fearful glance at him as she did. The only time he had ever cast the Birthright he had been nine years old and alone in his room. He had been curious, not angry. He had only wanted to prove he could do it if he had to. It was the least amount of effort he had ever exerted while using magic. It seemed wrong, somehow, that death magic should be so easy.

Sighing, Beri found his shirt and pulled it over his shoulders. He had arrived in jeans and a t-shirt he had borrowed from Karen’s absent brother, but those had been soaked with his blood and subsequently vanished. It concerned him that some magic user might have a sample of his bodily fluids, but he had no desire to ask for the clothes back. They were ruined to the point that, if he got out of this court alive, he was going to owe Jules money.

The clothes he put on now had simply appeared while he slept. They were expensive and deeply fashionable in the Summerlands. These people were treating him like an honored guest, not a captive. That did not mean he wasn’t a captive. He was a high born prisoner, but a prisoner nonetheless.

The Fey who shot him had been Doaine Sidhe, a noble of the Summer court. Perhaps the Queen hoped he had forgotten as much, but he had not.

As Beri buttoned his shirt he heard a knock at the door. “Enter,” he called, and another servant appeared. This one was male, a leprechaun, and observed Beri’s partially dressed state with a mixture of annoyance and alarm.

“I am sorry to have kept m’lord waiting,” said the leprechaun. “There was a brownie wailing in the hallway. She held me up.”

Beri sighed. “Poor thing. I frightened her.”

The servant sniffed and unfolded Beri’s vest. “Perhaps. Brownies are ridiculous creatures.”

Beri had not noticed the step stool until the leprechaun hooked it with his foot and dragged it near. Even when the servant stepped up onto it, Beri still had to stoop in order to allow his vest to be draped over his shoulders. He reached up to fasten his own buttons. The body servant gave him another disapproving sniff but said nothing. Beri glanced at the creature and quickly away, embarrassed. Summer was a far different Court from his father’s. The High Court was younger and less formal, and he was very nearly the youngest and least formal member of it.

Beri had no idea how to tie a cravat at all. The servant seemed pleased to take over, though he had to stand on his toes to do so.
This was going to take some getting used to.

The servant combed Beri’s hair out and then twisted it into a tight braid at the base of his skull. It was difficult not to fidget. The leprechaun’s touch seemed too familiar. He remembered resting his head in Karen’s lap while they watched some zombie movie on her t.v, the buttery smell of the popcorn on the table near his face and the tug of her fingers combing through his hair. The screen had been too obscured by the table and the bowl to follow the movie, but he had not moved his head. A knock sounded at the door.

“Enter,” Beri called.

Nikki burst in, panting and flushed as if she had run. She hung from the doorknob a second, laughing. Then she squealed “Brother!” and launched herself at him.

The leprechaun sighed with exasperation as Beri jumped up to catch his sister. His side protested and he hissed with pain, setting the child back down on the floor. Nikki’s smooth brow creased with alarm.

“Does it hurt very much?” Nikki asked.

Beri crouched so he could meet his sister’s eyes. He grinned and kissed the tip of her nose. “No, beloved. How lovely your dress is!”

Giggling, Nikki stepped away to spin in a circle. The dress was pink silk brocade with gold trim, skirt full, sash tied in the back. It billowed out around her. Nikki’s hair was arranged at the top of her head and decorated with a jeweled comb she would surely lose by the end of the day. “Do you like it? I have a wardrobe full of these!”

“Remarkable,” Beri said. She looked like the picture of a princess from a story. The muddy waif he had dragged through the Enchanted Forest just a pair of weeks ago was gone. Here stood the child of a noble house. Beri was growing accustomed to fighting back his anger. He knew the real intention behind sending the child to him just before his audience with the Queen: she did not wish him to forget she had his family captive. Her threat was as clear to him as a slap. I can destroy your sister as easily as I can dress her in finery.

“You look very nice yourself,” Nikki giggled, stumbling to a stop. “Like a real prince!”

Beri smiled at her and did not say, I am no prince. I am a king.

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1 Comment »

  1. chalaedra Said:

    Keep it coming!


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