Hello again my fanpeeps! I must say I certainly wasn't expecting to get more than one review within the first week of this story's publication. So thanks to all you Glass Fleet fans out there willing to go out on a limb to read a fic about everyone's favorite villain! So, without further ado, I give you the next, slightly shorter, chapter in Fleet of Glass!
Like a Knight
As Vetti slunk across the palace's back lawn, he prayed no one would see him. Vetti threw himself into the nearest rosebush as one of the servants passed one of the windows looking over the lawn. Once they'd continued on, he left the rosebush and rushed to the library window. After making sure there was no one inside, Vetti picked the lock and opened the window just enough for him to slip through. He dropped into the library and quickly re-locked the window. Vetti surveyed the empty room where his study materials still sat where he'd left them. He grinned, mission accomplished.
"Oh Vetti!" a sing-song voice rang from outside the library door.
"Bugger!" Vetti hissed, leaping into the nearest chair and pretending to be totally absorbed in a book.
The latch on the library door clicked open and Vetti's mother came barreling in. Marguerite Sforza had once been a beautiful woman, but her years of attending hundreds of political banquets had rounded just about everything about her. Her brown hair had been curled into a massive bouffant and the lurid pink and white gown she wore gave her the look of some kind of monstrous pastry.
"Vetti darling!" Marguerite trilled. "I haven't seen you all day!"
Before Vetti could tell her to bugger off, she had grabbed him in a stifling embrace, pressing his face to her ample bosom.
"Have you been studying all day?" Marguerite asked, forcing Vetti's face even deeper into her cleavage. "You must be so bored."
Vetti tried to yell at her to let him go, but his shouts were muffled against his mother's chest. He struggled violently.
"My, my, someone's a little rambunctious today," Marguerite's voice suddenly took on a menacing edge. "Perfect."
"Get off me you hag!" Vetti shouted, finally getting his face out from between her breasts. "Go find some poor servant to fuck! The might actually want it!"
"Tut, tut, what language," Marguerite said. "You are a naughty little toy, er, boy aren't you?"
"Let me go!" Vetti snarled. "Let me go now you disgusting pedophiliac cow!"
"All that studying is really expanding your vocabulary," Marguerite sounded almost bored. "I'm impressed. Now let's see if we can get something else to expand too, shall we?"
Vetti struggled even more as he felt Marguerite's hand sliding down over his back. Suddenly he got one arm free and elbowed her in the chest as hard as he possibly could. Marguerite let out a shriek as one of her pendulous breasts practically nailed her in the face. In her pain and horror, she let Vetti go. As soon as he was free, Vetti shot out of the library like the hordes of hell were chasing him. He ran through the palace's gilt and marble hallways, steps echoing eerily behind him. Vetti didn't know if his mother was following him or not, but he didn't care, he needed to get to his bedroom.
Then he heard voices behind him. He was able to pick out Marguerite's trilling soprano immediately, the other voice was a snarling baritone. Vetti's blood went cold. That was his father's voice. If his father got a hold of him, he would beat Vetti until he couldn't fight back. Then they would both have their way with him.
Vetti snarled and surged forward, his room was just at the end of the hall. He had to get there, it was his only chance. With a final burst of speed, Vetti launched himself into his bedroom and slammed the door. He immediately grabbed any piece of furniture he was strong enough to move and put it in front of the door. Vetti knew it probably wouldn't stop his father, but it would buy him some time. He snatched his thin bladed knife from the sheath strapped to his thigh and braced himself. All Vetti could do now is wait.
Raphaela woke up early the next day. She couldn't remember the last time she'd ever really wanted to get out of bed. Raphaela quickly washed her face and picked out a loose cotton dress. She knew she wasn't supposed to meet Vetti until eleven, but knowing her aunt, there was always some kind of delay. She needed to leave before Lady Stefania got up, otherwise she'd never get out.
After Raphaela got dressed, she hurried downstairs to breakfast.
"You're up early," Delphina, the cook, said. "What's the occasion?"
"I'm going to see my grandmum again today," Raphaela replied.
"I don't know if milady is going to approve of that after yesterday," Delphina shook her head. "With you nearly getting kidnapped and all."
"I wasn't kidnapped, Delphina," Raphaela said.
"I don't like you going out by yourself," Delphina answered. "I'm sure milady will agree."
"I'll be fine," Raphaela rolled her eyes. "Don't worry so."
Delphina didn't look convinced, but she kept her mouth shut as she served Raphaela her breakfast.
Raphaela started to eat quickly, shoveling her porridge into her mouth like she'd entered a marathon.
"My goodness, miss!" Delphina exclaimed. "Slow down, you'll make yourself sick!"
Raphaela swallowed, "I want to leave before auntie gets up."
"Raphaela Dominique Antilles!" Delphina crossed her arms. "You mean you aren't going to tell your aunt where you're going?"
"I wasn't planning on it," Raphaela said.
"If you don't tell her then I most certainly will!" Delphina replied.
"Of course you will, Delphina," Raphaela smiled sweetly at her. "After I'm gone."
"Thank you for the porridge, it was delicious," Raphaela said. "I'll be back in time for supper."
With that, she flounced out of the kitchen, leaving Delphina staring after her. Once Raphaela was out of the house, she took a deep breath. The air was fresh and damp with a hint of a chill. It was going to be a beautiful day. Raphaela started into the town with a bounce in her step. She loved the town in the early morning, with its empty streets and the aroma of fresh bread wafting from the bake shops. Raphaela thought about getting a loaf of bread to take to her grandmother but remembered that it was Tuesday, the day Andromeda made her weekly bread.
She left the town and walked down the wide path that led to her grandmother's house. Raphaela started to hum softly to herself, she couldn't remember the name of the song but she had always liked the tune. She wished she could remember the words. Raphaela wasn't worried about meeting Bonaparte, it was too early for him to up and after what Vetti did to him the day before, he'd think twice before bothering her again.
Raphaela smiled as she thought of Vetti. He was such a strange boy with his funny mood swings and odd way of looking at the world. She wondered what his life locked up in the palace must be like.
I'll ask him about that sometime, Raphaela concluded as she came to her grandmother's cottage.
"You're here early," Andromeda said as Raphaela entered.
"I wanted to leave before auntie woke up," Raphaela replied.
"Raphaela," Andromeda sighed. "You're just like your mother. She was always sneaking off in the early morning without telling anyone. I hope you at least left a note or something."
"I left a message with Delphina, the cook," Raphaela said.
"Well, that's something I guess," Andromeda answered. "Have you had breakfast yet?"
"Yes, but I'll probably eat again before I meet my friend," Raphaela said.
"Why don't you bring something out for him too?" Andromeda asked. "I just made a few batches of muffins."
"Alright," Raphaela shrugged. "Are my tunic and trousers still in the guest room?"
"Yes they are," Andromeda replied.
Raphaela changed into her "boy clothes" and consulted the clock on the bureau. It was a little after 9:30, she had an hour and a half before she had to meet Vetti. Raphaela sighed and decided to hunt for a book to pass the time. At a quarter to eleven, Raphaela packed a basket of muffins and went to find Vetti.
It had warmed up since she last went out, but it wasn't as sweltering as it was the day before. She walked to the bend in the road and sat down under a tree to wait. Raphaela wasn't sure how long she'd been sitting there before there was a rustle in the leaves above her. She didn't think much of it until Vetti suddenly appeared, hanging upside down from a branch in front of her.
"Hello!" he grinned.
Raphaela started, "What on earth are you doing?"
"Hanging around," Vetti replied.
"Ha, ha, you're hilarious," Raphaela sighed.
Vetti chuckled before dropping out of the tree and landing lightly beside her.
"What's in the basket?" he asked.
"Muffins that my grandmum made," Raphaela replied. "Want one?"
"Hell yes!" Vetti exclaimed. "I'm starving! Sword training ran late and I didn't have time to eat anything before meeting you."
"Help yourself then, I brought a lot."
Vetti snatched a muffin out of the basket and started tearing into it like he hadn't eaten in weeks. He ate the whole thing in under a minute.
"Sorry," Vetti said softly, wiping he mouth on his sleeve. "That was extremely rude of me."
"You were starving," Raphaela shrugged. "Care for another?"
"Thank you," Vetti took the second muffin from her outstretched hand.
Raphaela took a muffin for herself as well. Vetti ate a good deal slower the second time around.
"Vetti," Raphaela said. "You said you had sword training today, how long have you had it?"
"Since I could walk," Vetti answered. "Why?"
"I was wondering," Raphaela paused a moment. "Would you teach me?"
Vetti cocked his head slightly, sizing her up with those multicolored eyes.
"Why do you want to learn?" he asked.
"So I can kick Bonaparte's arse if he bothers me again," Raphaela replied.
Vetti grinned, "I always knew I liked you for a reason. When would you like to start?"
"Whenever you're ready to teach me," Raphaela said.
"Well," Vetti tapped his chin thoughtfully. "I came up with a new game we could play that I could incorporate your training into."
"What game is that?" Raphaela asked.
"It's very simple really," Vetti went on. "Basically, the two of us pretend we're knights and we fight bad guys, save people, and do other knightly kinds of things."
"That sounds like fun," Raphaela said. "It reminds me of a game that some the boys in town play sometimes. Except they hardly ever let me play with them, and if they do I'm always the damsel."
"We'll just have to make our game better than theirs then," Vetti replied.
"Great, how do we start?" Raphaela asked.
"The first two things you need to have in order to fight with a sword are strength and balance," Vetti began. "So, our first mission as knights of the realm is—"
"Knights of the realm?" Raphaela interrupted. "We need a better title than that."
"What did you have in mind?" Vetti asked.
"How about…" Raphaela thought for a bit. "The Knights of the Roses?"
"I like it!" Vetti beamed. "All right then, our first mission as the Knights of the Roses is the king's daughter has been cursed with a strange illness. We're the only ones that know the antidote because the witch that cast the spell gave us a riddle."
"What's the riddle?" Raphaela asked.
"We've already solved it."
"So, the riddle told us that the antidote is a flower that's found at the top of the tallest tree in the world. We have to get to the tree and climb to the very top to retrieve the flower and heal the king's daughter."
"And of course the witch isn't going to make our quest easy," Raphaela grinned.
"No she most certainly won't," Vetti said. "She has hundreds of creatures under her control and she'll do everything in her power to keep us from succeeding."
"Excellent," Raphaela answered. "Come on, Sir Vetti, we only have three days to save the princess!"
Raphaela wasn't entirely sure what the game had to do with sword training, but she had an amazing time all the same. In the course of the afternoon they dodged bandits, crossed unknown lands, braved terrible storms, Vetti nearly got torn to pieces by a pack of enchanted wolves, Raphaela narrowly escaped capture by a very nasty fairy, they almost fell out of the tallest tree in the world, they fought off the flower's bad tempered dragon guardian, saved each other's lives more times than they could count, and healed the princess.
"That was the best game EVER!" Raphaela exclaimed, flopping down under a tree. "We have to play it again tomorrow!"
"Not tomorrow," Vetti said sadly. "I won't be able to escape the palace tomorrow, but we will the day after that, I promise."
"Why won't you be able to escape?" Raphaela asked.
"My tutor comes to study with me," Vetti replied. "It's an all day thing."
"All right," Raphaela shrugged.
"I had better get going," Vetti said. "I'll see you the day after tomorrow?"
"Same time, same place?" Raphaela asked.
"See you then."
"Bye Raphaela," Vetti hurried off into the forest.
"Bye Vetti," Raphaela called.
"Oh, by the way," Vetti halted and turned. "Keep climbing trees, it does wonders for strength and balance!"
Raphaela laughed, "All right, I will."
Vetti grinned and disappeared into the underbrush.
Tadaa! Don't forget the reviews!