The After Effects

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Ballroom Dancing

Sweat beaded down my forehead as the sweet singing of metal filled my ears. My arms had started shaking about an hour ago, but I kept pushing them. My breath started to turn into uneven huffs as I met my opponent's attacks.

My opponent frowned at me, ice blue eyes flickering over my form, before lunging at me again.

"You're getting sloppy," Soren commented as his sword sang against mine when they collided.

"I sparred with for two hours before you took his place and we've been at it for another two," I gaped at the Prince.

"All I hear are excuses," Soren said as he pushed against my sword, causing me to take a step backwards.

Deep chuckles could be heard from the sidelines, causing me to roll my eyes. After all, I've been fighting for four hours against two supernatural males, of course, I'm freaking tired.

Lunging to Soren for a change, I went to disarm him, leaving my side open and he took the opportunity. The tip of his sword bit into my side causing me to freeze. Icy blue eyes smirked at me as the pressure of his sword increased, barely biting into my practice leathers.

"Enough." Rorek's deep voice rumbled from the sidelines. Striding from the sidelines, he stood by my side.

The Prince's eyes danced as he spoke, "You're dead," he stated.

"And you're a bastard, what's new?" I snipped back to the bratty prince.

Rorek chuckled, his huge arm slipped around my waist, pulling me to him and consequently breaking my staring contest with the prince. I instantly melted against his muscled body, relishing his cool touch against my sweaty skin. For the past six days, Rorek has been by my side, day and night. I've loved every second of it as his presence was comforting and helped keep away any and all fears. The guards hate him and although they've tried to make him leave several times, he just flashes his dark eyes and a growl and they instantly give up. Apparently nobody here knows what he is, they know that he is a shifter, but not what he shifts into. He's been my rock and I honestly don't think I would have been able to step back in this arena without him by my side.

"Done for the day?" Rorek asked, his arms tightening around my waist and holding me to his cool chest.

"I don't think you should push yourself, especially considering your first fight is tomorrow," Locke added in his input as he joined us in the center of the arena.

I turned to Soren, seeking his advice, though all he did was shrug. "Helpful," I said sarcastically said to the Prince.

I sighed, slumping against Rorek's body and feeling the sag of exhaustion on my bones. "As much fun as being degraded by Princey is, I think I better rest and prepare myself for tomorrow," I announced, already feeling nerves and adrenal dance through my body at the prospect of tomorrows fight.

A throat cleared, pulling me from my thoughts and causing me to look at who cleared their throat. "What now?" I asked my brother, already knowing my father has found some way to further torture me.

"There's a ball tonight," Locke said, shifting on his feet in a nervous manner. "A ball in honor of his kids and the Prince of the South. "

Of course... Why would my father just allow me to relax? I turned to the Prince and frowned at him, almost as if he was the sole reason I was going to be dragged into the castle.

"What's that look for?" Soren asked, insult evident in his voice.

"I forget you're kind of important," I said dully to the Prince.

"Kind of?" The Prince gaped at my dismissal. "I'm one of six princes in the four territories, I'm kind of a big deal," That prince was thoroughly insulted.

"Meeh," I waved my hand in his direction before turning back to Locke. At my write off of him, the prince crossed his arms and muttered a curse, though he didn't push his case anymore. "Let me guess, attendance is mandated?" I asked my brother, though I already knew the answer. There was no way my father would let me off the hook.

Locke's nod made me groan, my forehead falling to Rorek's chest in dramatic fashion. "Why me," I muttered a curse. Rorek's thick arms surrounded me in a comforting motion and I once again sagged against him. At least he'll be by my side. I sighed.

Three hours and a whole lot of anxiety later, I stood in front of a mirror, having a mental breakdown.

My long red hair was half up and half down, the upper half fashioned into a braid with leather braided into it. But the thing that had caused my breakdown, was the dress. I hated dresses but for some awful reason, I was always enforced to wear one whenever my father threw one of these things. The dress's main color was a deep navy blue and the designs on the skirt of it were a turquoise color. The North's colors. The open back of the dress dipped to just above my hips, while the skirt flowed down to the floor. The neckline plunged lowly and the dress was tight, highlighting every curve and dip of my body. I hated it. I sneered into the mirror, not caring that the seamstresses stood, horrified, in the background.

"You hate?" The seamstress asked in broken English, her strong eastern accent evident.

"She doesn't like dresses in general," Locke told the lady as he strode into the fitting room. The seamstress nodded, probably not understanding what he had said, before she skittered off to where ever. Locke turned to me and gave a light whistle. "You do look good in that dress," He told me as he offered me his hand.

"I feel like I'm suffocating," I ground out through my clenched jaw, trying so hard not to snap and break something or someone.

"It's only for a couple of hours, but don't worry," Locke turned to me, his bright smile offering me little comfort, "Soren will be by your side."

"Was that suppose to be comforting?" I asked my brother though I could sense the teasing in his voice.

Locke chuckled as he led me out of the room and to a nearby sitting room that I knew him, Rorek, and Soren were conversing in. They took maybe three minutes to get ready, dressed in suit pants and various tops, they each looked really good. Whereas I was dragged from my cell and into the fitting room, where I was pampered for three hours and forced into this awful dress.

We entered the room and Rorek immediately stood. "Little Dove, you look stunning," Rorek said as he replaced Locke at my side, sliding my little arm between his body and elbow.

Instead of complaining further, I nodded and looked to Soren who was still sitting. He was dressed in the best, apparently, his princely status offered him better clothes.

"I never thought I would see the day, Acer," Soren said, offering me a compliment and slight nod of the head. Which to me was a big deal, as I figured that the Prince wasn't one for complimenting killers often.

"Ready?" Locke asked, clapping his hands and causing the dread in my stomach to settle.

Tonight was going to be awful, I knew it. Between having to act with class, converse with people of the North, and deal with my wretched father. But with Rorek by my side and the other two closeby I also knew that somehow I would survive until tomorrow where I would be thrown back into my element.

So after taking a deep breath, settling and grounding myself, I was led to the throne room, which had been turned into a ballroom. Although this wasn't an arena battle, it was still a battle. A battle I wouldn't allow myself to lose. After all, I had Rorek to ballroom dance with, so this can't be that bad after all.

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