A.N: Sorry for the late update. I want to thank everyone who came by to review. Any mistake is unintentional, and if you guys could point it out to me, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again.
Tyro of the Third Order: Continued
"A Tyro is an interesting position to be," Loki murmurs thoughtfully. "Now that the laws have changed...Don't you agree Ulrich?"
His stare is centered on the Tyros exposed back, lingering along the slight dimples above her derriere, realizing that he had not seen them there before when he bathed her - his composure stiffens at the thought of what he tried hard to forget.
The elf cuts in with a warning, "Don't ruin my fun."
"Like I said, your 'fun' is a waste of my time." The Prince said acidly.
"It's our right as-"
Ignoring the protest, Loki continues conversationally. "How, in her position, at this very moment, even if she 'doesn't' do as you demand, the Tyro has the lawful right to fine you severely for significant amount of damage. In the account of overstepping the boundaries of propriety and marring her actuation ceremony. Considering our meeting is about financial dealings, I suspect you'd be in dire straits if I don't agree to support your endeavor..."
Never informed about the rights of a Tyro, or the laws involving class; the human known as Jane, discreetly glanced over her shoulder to stare at him suspiciously.
"She doesn't- she's ignorant-why are you doing this?" Ulrich snapped.
Green eyes travel the curve of the Tyros back, lazily studies her face. A sly smile escapes him, as they become conspiratorial partners in the midst of a heist. "Now that I think about it, your blatant disregard of the Snow Queens laws is deeply wounding. I could either vouch this creature's allegation against your good name...or..."
Breaking eye contact with the mortal to return his full attention on his frazzled companion, Loki reluctantly placed a hand against his chest and stated gravely - as if it were a burden- "You may relinquish ninety percent of total acquisition to me."
"This is blackmail!" Ulrich cried aghast.
"I, blackmail you?" Loki asked, surprised at the thought. "The innocent bystander who witnessed a crime? No...You brought this on yourself. Choose wisely, my friend, in the end, you make a bit of profit with me, or feel the mockery of embarrassment when the other Nobles catch wind of your bankruptcy. I dare say, refuse me, and you won't be able to afford your next dalliance with a rose fair as she."
He said all this with lackadaisical confidence that no one knew whether to believe him fully, or regard his claim with a grain of salt.
"Do we have ourselves an accord?" Loki asked smoothly, lifting his hand out, expecting nothing but acceptance.
Ulrich's mouth opened and closed like a fish, trying to comprehend the predicament he inadvertently caused. He appeared flustered, knowing without a doubt, that he boxed himself into a tight situation, and the only beneficial way out was to sacrifice his share.
Saying nothing, he shook Loki's outstretched hand and immediately dropped it.
"Thank you..." Loki said amiably, hands return to rest behind his back, "For wasting my time."
With a huff, the elder elf ungracefully bends down and plucked the coin from the floor. "I expect my share at the end of the month!" He sniffed, ignored the Tyro, and rushed down the hall.
"Insufferable man and his annoying coin flipping. Hoped he'd lose it after sending it on its way... Interesting results though."
Loki turned to observe the Tyro, who remained stationary, unsure of what to do, or how to act. The baskets, style of dress, and decoration of pearls in her hair signified her newly obtained status. Such a position might cause some challenges when the time comes for her to slip away from the kingdom, but she's still an unknown at this point, and anonymity would further help her situation.
The winter storms have been rougher this season, more than likely she'd be waiting until the summer months before fleeing this place, though, it remained to be seen, if she could find her missing companion - if that person still lives - and perhaps, only then would she try to make a break to the outside world. Still, he felt the tinge of worry that she were wandering about the Noble's hallways without an escort to properly guide her. The maiden knew not the vultures that Nobles, man and woman alike, could become at the provocation of an easy target to slack their lust.
Upon reflection, he deemed himself just as much a predator as his half-kin, and with the guilt of the memory of his touch upon her skin, his humor is lost to him and his frustration returns to the forefront of his mind. Frowning at his own incompetence, Loki took a tentative step away from her, allowing distance to be the sense of control that he had surely begun to lack.
"Why have you left the kitchens?" He asked sternly, fully aware that his tone held disapproval.
She canted her head, still kneeling in subjugation, eyes a reflection of defiance and anger for the situation she was dealt with. Gazing at him with cold accusation, she's silent for a long moment to shift between the options of her response to his inquiry. And as she ponders, she hunched her shoulders in a way that caused her breasts to dip forward from the force of gravity, and he distracts himself from the translucent view by studying the flowers strewn into the bouncy ringlets of her hair.
"My employment was no longer necessary, my Lord. From what I know, I'm not a proficient cook," she said bluntly.
He grinned at her, "Here I thought all females knew how to cook."
Sick of the stereotypes, Jane shot back, "Here I thought all Nobles would be courtly mannered and not misbehave with a transitioning Tyro, but apparently there seems to be some discrepancy between our two observations on the natural order of things, so I think we should drop the subject."
Loki approached the kneeling female and bent down to squat in front of her. "You do realize, your servilely position leaves no room to spare for the gross error you've just committed?"
Glancing at him doubtfully, Jane tried to identify her slip up; fully aware that punishment dealt here were heavier than she could handle. He's curious to know what she thought about. Did the mortal think her words too rude? Or perhaps appearing too haughty? What had she done to offend him? Nothing really -just a bit of fun to pass the time- and his time would soon run out.
Grin never faltering, Loki carefully removed a stalk from an ixora, clamped beside the braid by the shell of Jane's ear; he twirled the stalk between thumb and forefinger, and raised it to his mouth to suck the small bead of nectar gathered at the tip. Humming an approval at the sweetness of the dew, he admonishes her with a finger flick to her nose. "You neglected my title."
Breaking eye contact, face heating up with a mixture of anger and shame, Jane lowered her head, to resume her position and murmurs spitefully, "My Lord."
His deep regard for her never faltered as he stood above her small form. The mortal's rebelliousness was visibly palpable to him, nearing the point where if she had the chance, she would be incline to screaming her objections out loud. Knowing she did not wish to be where she is now, he bit the inside of his cheek, took a reluctant step away from her, and tucked his hand behind his back, balling up the ixora stalk until it became a smear of grime.
"Up you go then, I suspect your destination is the Flower Pavilion? Best hasten your steps before they mercilessly punish you." He said scattily.
Nothing else was needed here, now that Loki acquired what he wanted from the belligerent Ulrich. Though, he must admit the addition of Jane's unexpected appearance was icing on the cake to his victory, and at the same time, a bitter reminder of the fallacy to his capabilities of control. He staunchly reminds himself that what he gained from her misfortune was significantly higher than he originally thought. That he should be gleeful at the duplicity of improvising at the last moment. Indeed, it was an unexpectedly brilliant move, but it could never mask what he was too appalled to admit. And that brought about an even darker mar upon his soul.
"My Lord, by your leave to return to my duties?"
And he's feeling it again; the odd mixture of unease and self-doubt and isolation and want. The agitation returns to him in heated waves, and without another word to the maiden, he turns and quickly walked away.
By the time Jane arrived at the Flower Pavilion, she was an hour late, and the team she was stationed with had already left for their other chores. Reprimanded by an Upper supervising the outing, she explained her tardiness, and the Upper grudgingly relents with two lashes behind her calves. By the look on his face, Jane knew the elf wanted to punish her further, and she hates him for it.
Unable to protest her displeasure, Jane brushed him off and focused on collecting blue and red buds that matched the adornments in her hair. Though the gardens was lush with large bushes of blooming flowers, and the air filled with beautifully fragrant perfumes of nature, it felt disquieting to be out close to the barrier - so near to the icy mountains.
At the center of the Flower Pavilion stood the only towering object of note, a wide petrified tree gleaming like crystals that captured the light of the sun. All other flowering plants in the garden were dwarfish in comparison to the monolithic tree, and she knew that magic must have worked its way into it.
No birds sung today, no sign of rabbits, not even a squirrel; no sounds except for the chatter of the Tyros. Ignoring her gut instinct to leave, she focused on collecting her second batch of flowers. The bushes she looked for, led her farther from the group. Squatting low, she quickly plucked the miniature blue flowers, wishing they were big fat roses – then she'd be done faster.
So close to the barrier, it felt colder than it should, and she could see another snow storm taking place. The event from before, with the raven haired man, played in her mind as the snow outside slammed against the invisible shield. If his insinuations were true, then it was partially his fault for the ignominious situation she was put through earlier in the day, and her dislike for him just seemed to worsen. During that encounter, Jane kept the realization of his own molestation deep inside, knowing full well that she had no power to sway anyone, or accomplish anything with her accusation against him. And her mood darkens even more; not just because of what he did to her, but also because of how she reacted when he had intimately touched her.
The snapping of trees caused Jane to bolt up, all thoughts of the cocksure Noble fled as she glanced around in search of the sound. Her eyes widened when a tall, dark haired Tyro screamed in fright at the sudden appearance of a thing. It lunged for her; the maiden ducked and rolled, like she'd done it a million times before, with a burst of adrenaline she scampered back on her feet and sprinted off into the foliage.
Chaos held sway as terrified screams began to mix with the hungry bellows of gigantic, short legged, barrel chested beasts, who ambushed the gatherers on all sides.
Jane stood frozen, mouth agape as an Upper was cornered by two of the creatures. He tried to leap over a low bush and was snatched in the air. Shrieking in terror, his voice stalled - ripped in half- blood speckled the ground. A gurgle of fluid rushed out the elf's mouth- the attacker turns back and hurdles through the barrier with the two halves of the corpse dangling in its hands. The other attacker remained - spotted her at a distance, sprints straight for her.
Someone screamed - "Frost Trolls!"
Without a second thought, fight or flight took over, and Jane chose flight. Zigzagging around trees, hoping over bushes; the trolls plowed through it all, uprooted shrubbery that blocked their path, rushed at anything that moved. One in particular rushed at her. The ground shook at their thunderous approach, a loud heavy thud as a troll tripped and fell, bought Jane time to crawl away through an underbrush, and she's scrambling up the other side as her heart nearly exploded from her chest.
Hopping over a squat bush, Jane spotted the dark haired woman from before, cowering under the canopy of a heavily flowered tree - an easy target for the hunters - Jane made a beeline straight for the frightened Tyro, and screamed at her to run. The woman obeyed, darting out from the false shelter, assisted by Jane's insistent tug, and they're both racing towards the petrified tree.
Adrenaline pumping, nothing else mattered than to claw hand and foot up the trunk. Terrified at the thought of dying, the feel of snapping nails was nothing more than an oversight. Jane looped her arms around the lowest branch, twelve feet above ground, and hauled herself onto it.
A desperate cry from below pulled Jane's attention back down.
The dark haired Tyro tried desperately to climb - there's not enough momentum left in her to get very far. Without hesitation, Jane yanked her dress off, and scooted towards the trunk. Wrapping her legs around the branch, she flung down one end of the dress, holding the other. No words were needed as the Tyro made a running jump, snagged the fabric and scaled up the trunk. Sandaled feet scrapped at bark, giving Jane the leverage she needed to propel the woman upward.
The branch creaked loudly as it bowed at the accumulated weight.
Making room for the second Tyro, Jane pressed her dress against her chest - they're both breathing hard. Trolls scouted about in large looping circles, ripping away shrubbery in pursuit of prey. They were surrounded by all sides.
A maiden was found from her hiding spot - the last thing she did was let out a blood curdling scream. Her captor yanked at her hair for a better grip - detached head from body- lumbers off through the barrier, a feast in his hands.
The Tyro with her remained silent as she gazed at the opposite end. Suddenly, she waves her hands wildly. "There's another! Oh they'll catch him if he goes- Yes! He sees -He comes!"
Without a moment hesitation, she removed her gown and relinquished it to Jane. Too panicked to think straight, Jane cried in disbelief, "You want me to hold all his weight?"
The grey eyed Tyro explained quickly, "Combine it with yours, he'll rip the one. Well hold together." Her voice is sweet, low, and smooth even when quivering. It was a clever idea.
The sounds of roars and a third screech is heard – the cry halts at the highest pitch- the women shook uncontrollably from stress, adrenaline, and nakedness. When Jane saw a Tyro running closer to the petrified tree, she dropped the end of dresses and both women position themselves on the perch in preparation of added weight.
A male Tyro snuck out from clumped bushes, ran up the bark and snagged the makeshift rope with one hand. Both girls yelped at the violent tug, nearly losing their balance. The underside of Jane's thighs suffered the most from the forceful jerk, as did her fingers. Each tip at the nail dribbled blood, some more profusely than others. She could feel a large shard from the tree wedged deeply in her palm throb painfully, with each beat of her heart.
Grinding her teeth, Jane held on tight, and was shocked when the male split in two. As he climbed the tree with the aid of the rope, a duplicate slid down the length of it and ran westward.
'He's an ice elf... 'Jane thought wearily.
The sounds of trees being uprooted and dirt raining down was horrific, but not so traumatizing as the fourth and fifth half screams.
When the male reached the limb, he explained urgently, "They're everywhere! Hunting! We're surrounded. If I hadn't seen you waving..." He shook his head. "No time... I'm making for the two hiding in the azaleas... there's a chance. Found them... They follow!"
The branch creaked louder and the pale skinned elf paled further. Sweat pooling down his face, he yanked the dark haired Tyro from her crouched position - Jane swore he would drop her- and lifted her to the nearest branch higher up. "Up you go," he said, slapping her buttocks, "As light as you are, you still weigh."
He turned to Jane as she stood, tension high, dresses clutched as a shield, then he stilled, frozen stiff. "They spotted... I'll distract...Five of them..." His golden eyes lose focus.
For a long while, he's quiet.
"Shit. They got me. Hopefully it bought them time..."
Returning to the issue at hand, the male took the dresses and draped them over his shoulder. With firm hands, he quickly hefted Jane to the branch where the other Tyro stood. Sighing at the sight of the two women, he smiled sadly, "If this is the last day of my life I would die content, for I had been briefly rescued from fighting death by two forest nymphs..."
Both women were too frighten to react to his lustful poetics; choosing to ignore his appreciative ogling, the women listen to the roar of the trolls and searched for the others.
Worrying at the splinters in her hand, Jane spotted the pair, and whispered in excitement, "They're coming! I see them!"
One was male, the other female, and Jane recognized the male was the Upper who punished her earlier that day. Though now, she couldn't find it in her heart to hate him. Relief washed through her. All of them still had a chance to survive this nightmare.
The Ice Elf lowered the dresses for the two to climb; first the Upper, who was told to find another limb to rest on. He was on his way to the branch the women perched, but the male Tyro protested, "It might snap with three! My nymphs will fall!"
The Upper made as if to scold the Tyro for his impertinence, but the tearful cry below ended the confrontation, and the Upper wobbles to the other side of the tree.
'Asshole.' Jane thought, slouching further into herself, appreciating the cover that her long hair provided.
When the fifth surviving member grabbed the dresses, the Tyro easily reeled her up. White thread spewed along the branch and Jane knew her dress was ruined. Their new member sobbed hysterically as she flung herself into her savior's arms, knocking him against the trunk. Luckily he didn't lose footing.
As Jane's tension lowered to a simmer, her modesty returned full force. "Please, give us back our dresses?" she begged.
"What if there's another Tyro down there?" He asked, concerned.
The grey eyed brunette pointed to the elf maiden. "You can borrow hers."
"Nooo," the female elf squealed, sobbing all the harder.
"Fine. You can borrow mine again. It's thicker. Try not to ruin it. You messed up the white one."
Jane was truly grateful to the woman beside her. The dark haired woman reminded her of Darcy, however, there were differences. This woman was about five inches taller than Jane, thin of face, a little older by five years or so, and willowy like the elves.
Dresses returned and clothed once again, Jane asked the human beside her, "What's your name?"
"Sarah, and you?"
"Make her stop crying before they hear!" The Upper yelled.
It wasn't the sound of a tearful woman that caught the trolls attention, and suddenly, everyone up the tree knew that they were the last survivors.
"Climb hard and fast!" The male Tyro cried urgently.
The pounding of footsteps signaled the approaching trolls, in their hands they carried rocks, whole trees, and clumps of bushes. Debris came flying. In a panic, the small group of survivors scrambled from one branch to the next. Dodging from projectiles.
Some of the trolls attempted to jump for the lowest branch. One made it and broke the limb at the base. It doesn't deter them. Hunger in their eyes, they punch deeply into stone, gouged out holes, creating a new pathway up.
The ice maiden seemed to think her shrinking violet act was too cumbersome to maintain, Jane watched in disbelief as the elf switched to monkey mode and swung up the tree like a trapeze artist. Staying close behind Sarah, a boulder tore through and snapped the branch they tried to reach, broke cleanly at the base, it tumbled down to dangle precariously against thinner branches.
A rock slammed into Jane's thigh, tore a hole through her flimsy dress, and toppled her over to grapple with a bobbing branch. Righting herself, she hobbles over to where the branch was thickest, and leaned heavily against the trunk. The pain of the hit was excruciating.
Spotting what just happened, the male Tyro dropped from his higher location, and reached out to assist Sarah and then Jane. "You mortals are slow!" He yelled. "Why must you be cute?"
He herded them across thin branches that snapped against the pressure of their weight. As they venture higher, they finally came to a point where the large projectiles failed to reach. Jane limped heavily and felt more of a hindrance than ever before.
"The covering's thick. Safe for one. Rest here little nymph." The Ice Elf hastily whispers and leaves to assist Sarah.
His eyes told Jane everything she needed to know.
She was good as dead.
Thunderous sounds of collision - the tree shook violently- amidst the branches, she spots the trolls ramming the tree. Chunks crumbled away with each powerful kick, punch, and shove, sending shock-waves up to the tips of branches. They were determined to topple it down.
Bloody fingers dug into brittle bark for purchase, and Jane holds still, praying for someone to help them.
The sounds worsen - ripping and shredding and screaming – into a chorus of nightmares. There's another loud snap, this time from above - a shower of petrified wood pelted her - something grabbed her raised arm, and the world upends itself. Propelled forward, Jane lands on a lower branch and air is knocked out of her lungs.
She can't breathe.
Something pulled her by the arm, its grip is relentless. Glancing down, the Upper stared at her, wide eyed with fright, he kicked his legs uselessly, searching for a foothold - his movement jerked her arm in odd angles.
"Stop. Please! Just climb up!" Jane's voice wavered pitifully.
Her plea falls on deaf ears. The elf clamped his free hand onto her straining arm and used her like a swing to get onto any branch nearest his feet. There's a clear drop sixty feet to the foliage below.
Blood dribbled from her fingers onto his face; the tree shakes, and they pitched forward. A small stone grazed her arm. The troll that threw the rock turned around, yelled and gnashed its serrated teeth: swiped at empty air.
Everything fell into madness. She can't take the pressure. Reaching down, Jane grabbed the Upper with her free hand to equalize the weight - and it's too late- in that moment, he swung too far, she heard silence, feels her face turn red from strain; arm aching - the wrenching sensation of a pop- it's out of socket. What little breath she managed to pull into her lungs was released all at once in a scream of agony. Unraveling, spiraling, she's still screaming and holding tightly to the source of her pain- she wants to drop it.
"Don't let go!" The Upper cries, not afraid of the fall, but terrified of the trolls.
Shuffling, shouts, and her pathetic whimpers was all she comprehends.
"I'm slipping!" Jane strangled out, clawing into his forearm with her good hand. Sweat peppered her face, she shuts her eyes and feels the formation of tears flow over and gather at the tips of her lashes.
The female elf is wailing dramatically and the shuffling sound becomes louder.
Something settles beside her, not enormous in build like the trolls, though still larger than her. Presuming it's the Tyro, come down to help; her whole body stiffens with mixed emotions, and the strained effort of holding weight far heavier than hers becomes even more unbearable. She tried so hard not to cry, but the relief that washed over her at the knowledge of aid, overrode her sense of feminine pride, and a loud sob broke free.
"Steady now," her rescuer said calmly.
A hand comes to rest on the small of her back, cooler than her heated skin. His thumb pressed soothing circles against her spine, an attempt at comfort during this mindless horror. As he reached down for the Ice Elf, Jane opened her eyes, as a pale hand snagged the Uppers wrist. Her burden lessened, and the tension dissipates, and Jane slumped in exhaustion - over balanced – she dipped forward, about to slip off the side. The hand on her back shifted with her movement, holding her steady.
He chuckled. "Disobedient as always."
"Thank you! She was going to drop me!" The Upper cries as he was maneuvered to the side, farther away from Jane's limp form.
And the pale hand opened to release blue.
Mouth open in a silent scream, the Upper plummets to the earth.
Disbelief floods Jane's senses, a gasp of shock is released at the callousness of the Tyro.
All her efforts wasted.
Breath shortening, Jane's throat constricts, blocking air flow, hyperventilating.
"Calm yourself," the man beside her said coolly, "He won't die from the fall."
Wheezing and trembling, she doesn't understand what's happening. No longer on her stomach; everything became vertical again. Copper bell jingled insistently, disjointed arm lay useless in her lap, the collar felt too tight around her straining neck and she's clawing at it, desperate to get it off.
Between hitched breaths, she said, "Trolls..."
"Dead," he replied.
Fingers press against her chin, "Settle your hand, little one. Breathe deep, look away from there. Focus on me, Jane."
Her head shifted toward the voice, but her gaze remain rooted on the empty space the Upper had been dangling moments ago. Gasping in short bursts to control her breathing, she felt a cold hand probe her injured shoulder. He pulls away from her a moment, then both his hands run up her sides and firmly against the ridges of her ribcage. She could feel thumbs press hard beneath the slope of her breasts.
"Look at me."
As the man leaned into Jane's field of vision, black hair and light green eyes capture her attention.
It's not the Tyro.