Ch.24. F***ing Hormones
That damn bitch was locked in the cellars. I didn’t bother to stay at the garden to know what had happened after I knocked her out. But when I woke up three hours later and stuffed my mouth with what was left of breakfast, I had been informed by Lis that the new Slifer had been kept bound underneath the castle.
So before I headed to work, I decided to pay her a visit.
And it seems like I wasn’t the only one, for three of the rulers were standing right before her dimly lit cell. The dungeons of Imarnia’s palace were cold, though in some spots it felt like all the air was gathered together to suffocate someone’s throat. I had never seen a dungeon before, but clearly the one I was in wasn’t used much.
It was actually quite clean, though just like the path leading to the library everything was made of moulded stone. A few torches hung here and there, illuminating small portions of the room. Though the downward stairs leading to it was pitch black, and I had to use a flicker of flames so I would not stumble and fall on my face.
The cells that lined the walls were empty and quite rusted, but other than that I was thankful that there was no foul smell, only the one of growing weed between the stones. They were all dark, and nearly impossible to see through, except for the last one, which was where the three royals stood behind the silver bars.
“Tell us, girl, if you’re really with King Calix then how come he’s not with you?” Queen Adria said in a firm tone, unlike the soft teasing one I’ve grew to hear from her. A ball of blinding golden light danced at the top of her palm, casting shadows over the faces of Ignoila’s most powerful wizards.
The other girl’s laugh echoed through the dark room. “I’ve told you, Your Majesty, I come alone. My King is supposed to be here tomorrow, but I decided to skip ahead and teleport myself here.”
“And we’re supposed to believe that?” King Morrison tilted his head.
“Why would I lie? I simply came to get a proper glimpse of my fellow Slifers,” her voice sounded amused, not seeming to have any hint that showed her inferiority in this situation. The air around me shifted, almost like it sensed my presence. “Ah! And speaking of which, it looks like we have another guest.”
She couldn’t see me at this position, but she somehow felt me in the room. At her words, the three heads turned to look at me.
None of them said a word of acknowledgment or objection, but instead gave me a glance before turning back to her. Though, the King’s silver eyes lingered more on me than the others.
I came to stand next to Queen Adria, and my eyes landed on the Wind Slifer caged behind the rusty old bars.
Those bright white-silver eyes were the first thing to come to my notice, and although the only light in her cell was coming from the high barred window, her eyes seemed to shine on their own. She was glued to the hard wall, as if her back was nailed to it by some invisible force. And she sat with her knees brought to her chest, both of her wrists were tied back near her head, but no chains wrapped around them. I knew it was King Gabriel using her shadow as her own captive, making her attached to the wall and unable to move.
Her shoulder length hair was tousled, but it was still the striking silver-white colour that contrasted her dark skin. And sometimes, when she would shift her head for a second, it seemed like her hair was transparent and swayed slightly at the end.
But the dried blood on her lovely face was visible, streaking down all the way to her jaw, and it looked like her nose was slightly cracked from the blow I had given her. It seems like the Princess didn’t bother to heal her fractured nose, and I honestly wouldn’t blame her since she nearly destroyed her garden.
“You gave me quite a hit, Lydia, was it?” She actually dared to grin at me, and I could see the blood that painted her white teeth.
I shrugged. “You deserved it.”
A bark of laughter escaped her mouth, which almost sounded like a snort. “You had me unconscious for nearly three hours. I have to give it to you, perhaps you’re not as weak as those other pathetic excuses for Slifers.”
Fire burned in my eyes at the insult, and I resisted the urge to burn down those bars and send another blow to her face. “You talk big for someone who got knocked out by a single punch.”
She didn’t say anything, but her grin faltered at my words.
I ignored her and turned to Queen Adria. “Your Majesty, has she said anything else?”
“No,” she sighed, “Only that her name is Elsie and she came with King Calix.”
“She could be lying for all we know,” it was King Gabriel who added that, his face as hard as ever.
I dared to ask him. “How is the Princess’s garden?”
I didn’t remember to ask her that in the few moments she told me where I could find the Wind Slifer. From what I last noted, the garden was half ruined, plants and flowers blown and torn apart as they sprawled on the grass. I wonder what happened to the garden gremlins.
“That boy Redmond is helping her regrow some of it. They should be done by mid-day,” he replied, and I tried to ignore how casually he spoke to me.
“I’ll apologize to the Princess if that would make it better,” offered the captive girl with a bored tone.
The King’s eyes flashed in irritation. “You’ll do no such thing!”
She actually rolled her eyes, and I blinked in surprise because she really didn’t seem affected by all of this. “With all due respect, Your Majesties, but King Calix won’t take lightly to me being held behind bars.”
King Morrison’s eyebrows rose. “Then we’ll see what Calix has to say about you when he arrives tomorrow. For now, I think it’s safe to keep you here. I’m sure you understand.”
I could tell that King Morrison was honestly amused by the girl’s attitude, but something dark glinted in his eyes and all the amusement was gone from his face. “But even if you turned out to be associated with King Calix, I will not take lightly to the assault of my guest. I’m sure you understand that too.”
Queen Adria gave an agreeing nod. “The same goes for me. You’ve attacked a guest and a friend of mine, and it will not be tolerated.”
They were talking about Redmond and Ayana. The pair had a couple of bruises on their arms from the girl’s constant attacks, so it was only natural that King Morrison and Queen Adria would be angry at that.
But what surprised me were King Gabriel’s words, spoken with the same dark glint. “And you have tarnished my sister’s garden and assaulted three guests in my palace. Even if you say you’re with King Calix, do not think that this will go unpunished.”
I was a little taken back that he included me and that I was actually referred to as a ‘guest’, but I didn’t bother with that right now as I looked at the girl named Elsie.
For the first time since our unfortunate meeting this morning, she had a hint of fear on her face, no sign of the smugness or the confidence that she tethered with earlier. She thought that just being with King Calix would get her out of here smoothly, and she would go out without facing the consequences.
I wonder if King Calix would allow for his guest to be punished.
Either way, it didn’t stop the smirk from playing on my lips. I found myself grasping the bars as I leaned my face closer to the cell. Her expression turned into a snarl upon seeing mine. “I guess you’re the pathetic one now.”
The air around us stilled, and I saw as she attempted to claw her back off the wall but it pulled her back. The look in her eyes said that she wanted to hurl me into a hurricane of her own making, but she was prevented from doing that thanks to the dark powerful magic that bound her every movement.
I was in her place once before, back in a time that felt like centuries ago, and I knew that his magic didn’t just tie her body, but it also constricted her will. She could imagine tearing me apart with her wind all she wants, but that’s all she can do now.
“Um...Your Majesty,” I called as I walked behind King Gabriel when we stepped out of the dungeons. King Morrison and Queen Adria were walking ahead of us, chatting and not really paying attention to the fact that he stopped and turned to me.
I was actually trying to get his attention for a couple of times now but he either ignored me or didn’t seem to hear me, so I had resulted in tugging on the hem of his tunic to make him stop.
He raised an elegant eyebrow at that, but said nothing as I quickly snatched my hand back, mentally cursing at the blush painting my cheeks. Seeing his face in broad day-light and not the dimness of the cellars brought memories of our time in the library, and I couldn’t for the life of me maintain two seconds of eye-contact with him.
“Uh...” I glanced behind him to make sure the two other royals were far as they took a turn and disappeared from my sight. “I was actually planning on meeting Aramis today after my work is done. Do you want to come with me? Since you said that you wanted to speak with him.”
I honestly didn’t want him to come, nor did I particularly liked asking him to. “Also, I’ll ask if Redmond and Ayana would want to join us,” I added.
He considered for a moment. “When exactly?”
I shrugged. “When I’m done with work, say at six maybe?”
“Alright, meet me at my study when you’re done.” And with that he walked gracefully away, leaving me to trail behind him.
I almost wanted to groan because he said yes, but thought that if Ayana and Redmond were with me it wouldn’t be so bad.
Clearing my mind off any unnecessary thoughts, I headed to do my work. Again, I was dressed in a simple working attire; black pants, black boots, and a loose white shirt. When I stepped out to the garden, everything was almost back to how it was. Actually, everything seemed grander, brighter, and there was definitely more flowers to be seen.
It seemed like Lis and Redmond had done their job well. But they were nowhere in sight, which left me alone to do my business with the gremlins.
This time, catching them wasn’t as hard as yesterday, though my back and stomach were still killing me from the cramps and my mood was drawn to burning things out. There was less of them now, thanks to me wiping half of them off. They either were scared to come out or decided to move to another castle, but that didn’t stop me from torching the hell out of those who dared to come across me.
I had even found a nest of them underneath bushes filled with berries, and they were snuffed out with a shrike.
About half a dozen had scurried out faster than I could outrun them and had managed to hide between a tall tree’s branches. I rolled my sleeves up and climbed after them. I was a good climber, and I often climbed the trees back in Vera, and this was no different.
Their shrikes became louder at the sight of me approaching, flashing those needle-like teeth at me, but I had sent a flaming ball at two of them and what came out was only smoke. I managed to steady myself on one of the thicker branches and grabbed three of them, two with my right hand, and one in my left.
They thrashed against me but soon after they turned into a puff of smoke. Only one left.
And this little fellow actually had some balls and attempted to attack me, landing on top of my head and scratching and biting what he could. I winced at the small pain it managed to inflict on me, but grabbed it swiftly by the neck and blazed it off.
The rest of the next two to three hours were spent with me chasing and hunting down gremlins, coating myself with sweat and dirt. Honestly, I was kind of enjoying it since I got to blow steam and fill my time without feeling like a freeloader. And the pay was better than I could ever dream of. Three hundred gold coins and two hundred silver coins! I could buy many things with that.
When it was time for lunch, at first I didn’t feel like going, but my stomach grumbled in protest. Not to mention the Princess would probably come down and drag me to the dining room if I refused. Working hard like that had me hungrier than usual. I headed to my room, washed my face and hands from all the dirt, combed my hair a little bit when I cringed at its state, then went to stuff my belly with delicious food.
“What happened to your hand, Gabriel?” King Morrison asked, pointing his fork at the bandaged hand of King Gabriel.
I suddenly choked on my carrot and potato soup, remembering how I had bitten his hand when he was on top of me in the library. I did it because I was climaxing, and the pleasure was building up too intensely that without thinking I had bit him when trying to contain my shout.
I didn’t know that I had bit him that hard, enough to cause a mark.
None of them thankfully paid attention to my coughing state, except for Lis who patted my back gently and offered me a glass of water, which I eagerly gulped. She only told me to be careful when eating and went back to peer at her brother.
The King glanced at his hand, and his eyes went slightly wide at the realization. He cleared his throat, one too many times to count as natural. “It’s nothing. I just injured my hand with the letter opener.”
I wanted to sigh in relief, but Lis asked. “Why didn’t you just come to me? Here, let me heal it.” She offered her hand so she could inspect the wound.
My face quickly heated, and I wanted to hide it somewhere so they won’t notice how red it was. I could already feel General Malla’s eyes on me and I shifted in my seat as if to shake the awkwardness away.
The King tucked his hand to his side further, away from his sister’s reach. And to my surprise, there was a tiny hint of blush creeping up his neck. “No! It’s fine...Like I said, it’s nothing.”
If Lis opened that bandage, she wouldn’t see a scratch from a blade but bite marks. And if that happened, I think I would convulse in flames.
Luckily, Lis only rolled her eyes and sighed. “Men and their pride.”
General Malla simpered, taking a small sip from her soup, and to my horror winked at me as she dabbed her mouth with a napkin.
I wanted nothing more than to drown myself in that soup.
After lunch, and desperately avoiding Queen Adria and her keen wife, I had asked Ayana and Redmond to join me and the King in visiting Aramis. To my dismay, they both declined, saying that they wanted to help fix the garden even more and that they would join me some other time.
True to their words, Ayana, Redmond, and the Princess worked to grow and regrow the rest of the garden, and Ayana helped with watering down the new plants and flowers.
I on the other hand continued with my work, trying not to think about going to Aramis with the King alone. Maybe I should have asked Redmond and Ayana first so I could make sure they would come instead of asking the King first.
And now I’m stuck with being alone with the King all the way to Aramis’s house. I’ve already asked Luxus, but he also refused saying he couldn’t stand the smell of Aramis’s pumpkin tea. Well, at least there won’t be any sex for now. I’m on my monthly cycle, and there was no way I would let him touch me during that.
The sun was starting to lower, and my three companions were still working near the fountains. Judging by the sun, I would say that the clock had stroke five, and that I really needed to head to my room to bathe and clean myself.
I said goodbye to the Princess and the rest, dragging my tired legs all the way to my room.
Luxus was taking a nap, and I stroked his warm fur a bit before stripping down my dirty clothes and hopping into the steaming water.
Washing all the filthiness away from my body and relaxing my aching joints with the warm water must be what bliss feels like. Just for the hell of it, I used one of the hair-washes given to me by the servants to scrub my hair clean. The scent was lavender, and I sighed in delight at the rich aroma.
When I was done, feeling like I was gleaming from cleanliness, I replaced my pad and started to dress. I strapped on some mismatched underwear, and chose a comfortable black wool dress with long sleeves and a high neck-line.
I stuffed the paper Aramis gave me of his house in my bag, put on my short brown boots, and emerged out of the door.
Finding the King’s study wasn’t easy since I didn’t actually remember where it was. I had to ask some maids to lead the way, and they politely guided me to where I should go. The double doors ahead of me were familiar, and with a deep breath I knocked twice on them.
No reply, only some sound of shuffling and footsteps.
But a few seconds later he opened the door for me, and stood in all his dark attire. I noticed that the first two buttons of his black tunic were undone, and I didn’t allow myself to look at his exposed throat. He too seemed to snatch his eyes away from the dress that curved along my body nicely.
“Where’s your friends?” he asked, stepping out and closing the door behind them.
“They’re busy helping the Princess with the garden, so it’s just you and me,” I explained, and did not fail to see his shoulders tense at that.
He nodded nonetheless with his lips pressed tightly, and went pass me in elegant strides towards the hallway. I heaved a sigh, but went after him.
“I swear it was here,” I insisted, flipping the crumbled paper in my hand.
“Slifer, you’ve said that three times already,” the King pointed out from behind me, and I could just picture his raised eyebrow.
I huffed in frustration, scowling at the stupid drawing. Finding Aramis’s house when the sun was setting wasn’t as easy as I imagined. Every tree looked the same, not at all finding the slightly crooked one Aramis had drawn in his hand-made map.
We had left the palace about fifteen minutes ago, and I had no idea where we were.
“If I had known that you were relying on a terribly drawn map for the way I wouldn’t have come,” the King drawled, a hint of impatience and boredom in his voice.
I whirled at him, irritated. “It’s not my fault Aramis gave me a shitty map to begin with. I could hardly find the place the first time.”
He rolled his eyes at me, but said nothing.
I turned back to the map. From the palace’s garden we were supposed to take a right, then keep on ahead until we stumbled upon the crooked tree. So where the hell is it? “The crooked tree is supposed to be around here somewhere,” I told him, eyes on the map.
“All I see so far are normal trees. Are you sure we were supposed to take a right?” he commented, and I resisted the urge to throw the paper at his head.
“Yes, I’m sure it’s a right!”
“Well, was it a right from the front of the garden or the back?” he questioned.
“It’s—” I turned around to scream at him that I was positively correct on where we started, but the words stopped in my mouth.
Was it the back or the front?
Both his eyebrows lifted at me, as if he knew I somehow got it mixed up. I groaned, thudding my foot on the ground. “I don’t know!”
His shoulders slumped, and he shook his head at me. “I think it is best to head back. We’ll go by day-light.” He was about to leave when I caught something behind him.
“Wait!” I called out, sprinting towards him with a pointed finger. “That tree! I think I know that tree.”
There was a tree behind him that looked familiar. Actually, the area we were in felt like I had been here before. Perhaps I had walked by it when I was on my way to Aramis’s house?
His eyes darted to where I was pointing, then his whole body circled around as if scanning the place. “I definitely remember this tree. It looks familiar,” I told him.
When the King turned back to look at me, his eyes were somehow darker in colour. “Slifer, this tree is familiar because this is where I first took you.”
My mouth gaped. “Huh?” I found myself doing the same as he did, circling my surroundings as if to make sure. “Really?”
He prowled towards me, slowly, his eyes which glinted with something I knew too well fixed on me, and his lips curled up in a smirk. “I can refresh your memory if you want?”
I gulped, feeling my face flush as he kept moving my way and I kept retreating back. It was a stupid move, for he got me trapped between him and my back against a tree. He licked his bottom lips, his grey eyes drifting down to the curve of my breasts as he brought his fingers and gently caressed the fabric of my dress and all the way to the exposed skin of my leg.
The paper in my hand threatened to fall off, but I gripped on it like I was gripping to dear life.
“I believe I pinned your wrists above your head, and tore open your clothes,” his fingers swept over my waist, trailing up my torso until they settled over my breasts. He squeezed one, and I let out a gasp. “I played with your breasts a bit, just like this...”
He actually started to fondle them, and I bit my lip so I wouldn’t moan. This was stupid! They weren’t even bare to him and I still felt like that. His breath was fanning my ear as he nibbled on it, making me shiver and shut my eyes close. It didn’t help that he was circling where my nipples were with his thump.
“You’re a bit more sensitive than usual, Slifer.” His tongue lightly stroked my earlobe, tugging on it with his teeth. I moaned onto his shoulder, and his throat vibrated at the sound.
Well, fuck yeah I’m more sensitive! I’m on my fucking cycle! I could just feel myself getting wet from him only touching me with my fucking clothes on!
Stupid fucking hormones!
“What’s the matter?” he whispered in my ear, his voice deep and husky. “You don’t remember all of that?”
Even his voice managed to turn me on!
“Stop!” I don’t know how, but my tongue snapped that word out even though I was one second away from letting him fuck me when I was bleeding. I tugged on his shoulders, trying to push him.
He stopped, letting go of my body and backing away. The familiar cloudiness in his eyes was gone, and he let out a breath as he ran his fingers between his hairs and cleared his throat.
“You don’t have to explain. You said no, and that is all.” His voice was almost back to normal, though still a bit heavy.
I clenched the crumbled paper close to my chest, as if it was going to protect me from him, but realized I had nothing to fear. He won’t touch me without my consent, he had made that clear when he said it, and now he showed it.
Despite myself, it made me feel at ease. Safe...with him.
My eyes caught something above the trees behind the King’s head, but it was at a far distance, and it was like a trail of black smoke released into the night sky. Wait...chimney smoke! It was a bit far from where we were, but it would take about another fifteen minutes.
“There,” I lifted a finger, and the King followed my direction. “That’s Aramis’s house.”