Has anyone actually read this? If I can, I'd like to get some feedback before I post anything further.
Here is part one of Fervani. I hope everyone enjoys it.
I'll try to post the remaining bits at least once a week.
*Man-At-Arms! Duncan, you must awake! Prince Adam is in great danger!*
“What?” he mumbled, twisting around in his bed, searching for the speaker. Then it hit him. “Sorceress?” he asked.
*Hurry! Adam is in grave peril. Hurry!*
Duncan rolled out of bed, head finally clear. *He-Man, he called to her. Where is he? Who’s attacking?*
*No, Duncan, no. It is Prince Adam who is under attack. I – *
*Sorceress? Sorceress!* He cried as he rushed out into the hall and sprinted for the royal suite. No response came. Duncan ran faster. He raced for Adam’s room, passing startled servants and guards whose duties kept them up in the small hours of the night. Throwing the door open without knocking, he charged inside. Something flitted briefly in his field of vision and was gone. Duncan ducked and rolled, rising to a crouch with his back against the wall by the door. He dared not take the time to turn on the lights, but the prince’s bed was fully illuminated by moonlight spilling in through the open window.
*Open! Why isn’t the force screen on if it’s open?* Duncan peered through the darkness at that circle of wan light where Adam lay on his back, head tilted away from the open window, his chest rising and falling in a peaceful, steady rhythm. He didn’t appear to be in any immediate danger. All seemed quite ordinary and safe. If not for that flicker in his vision, he might have believed he dreamed the Sorceress’ warning. But, no. *Something’s here,* he thought. *Something’s still here and watching me. Watching him. I can feel it.*
Duncan considered summoning the guard or the Masters, but he was reluctant to call in anyone until he knew what they were facing. Easing his way silently through the deepest shadows, he moved to a spot some ten feet away where he had a better view of the bed and its occupant. What he saw made him even more uneasy. The sound of the door crashing open should have woken the prince, but he slept on unaware, his face a blank, careless mask. Duncan waited, and waited… and waited. Nothing moved save the wind, but he could still feel eyes upon him. *Enough of this.*
Mace held raised and ready, Duncan stood and walked toward the bed, watching the shadows for movement. As he neared the bed, his uneasiness grew. Moonlight and shadows played across the prince’s face and shoulders. His hair moved, brushing lightly across his forehead in the gentle breeze. Edging cautiously closer to the sleeping figure, Duncan placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. Adam’s eyes should have snapped open. His hands should have gone for the apparent intruder’s throat, but he slept on, oblivious to his mentor’s presence, oblivious to his peril.
Duncan’s head swung around as something moved in his peripheral vision. Spinning, he turned his back to the bed, but he stayed rooted in place. He was not moving from this spot, not as long as he was between Adam and the place where he could… feel?... the intruder’s presence. “Whoever you are, you might as well show yourself,” he said calmly, not yelling. “I know you’re there.”
Suddenly, Duncan’s heart began to race. Sweat broke out all over his body, making his hastily donned armor itch. *Danger! There’s Danger here! Got to run! Got to get away!* He took a step away from the bed. A solitary step, then stopped. *No!* he screamed internally. *I won’t leave him!* His heart pounded. His head swam with the need to flee, to get away. He stood, rooted like an ancient oak, grounding himself. Grounding. He stood. “I won’t leave!” he cried, defiant. “You won’t make me leave! Face me!”
Abruptly as it had begun, the terror left him. Duncan breathed deeply, chest heaving. Movement? Duncan turned toward the window, but he saw nothing. More, the presence, whatever it was, the sense of it was gone. As if it had never been. Only his drying sweat made it undeniably real. *That happened,* he thought. *I didn’t imagine it. That happened.*
Mace still held high, Duncan padded silently to the window and peered out, searching for signs of danger. Even knowing that it was gone, he was cautious. His eyes scanned the courtyard below, the walls of the buildings across the way, and, finally, the sky above. *Nothing. Just nothing.* He reached out and tapped the control on the window frame, punching in the code to activate the security screens on all of the room’s windows. They flickered on with a rapid crackling of power.
Duncan whirled around and ran back to the canopied bed, activating his comlink on the way. “Intruder alert! Security and medical team to Prince Adam’s chamber! Emergency!” He rested one knee on the side of the mattress and took the young man by the shoulders, shaking him.
“Adam,” he called. “Adam!” He shook him again, lifting the slim shoulders off the sheets, but the prince didn’t respond. His head and arms dangled limply. Cursing, Duncan lowered the boy gently back onto the bed and pulled a light from his belt. He was lifting Adam’s eyelids, trying the check the dilation of his pupils when the lights suddenly came on, startling him. A quartet of guards ran in with Medic Jonis in tow. The team leader, Sergeant Aloric, came immediately over to him while the other three began a thorough search of the room. Jonis hurried to the other side of the bed and, without preliminaries, yanked the covers off the prince. Adam did not stir.
“What happened?” the medic demanded as he began a similar check of his patient’s pupils.
“I don’t know,” Duncan replied, reluctantly. “I found him like this.” Jonis grimaced. Ascertaining that the prince’s pupils were dilating correctly, he moved on to a methodical examination of his head and neck. Satisfied that Jonis was doing what he could, he twisted around to face Aloric. The sergeant was talking into his comlink, conversing with guards elsewhere in the palace. Duncan waited. When Aloric had established that the room and its adjoining chambers were free of intruders, he nodded and signed off. His gaze locked with Duncan’s. His mouth opened. But before either man could speak, a commotion in the hallway drew their attention.
Duncan stood, raising his mace to the ready position, but he lowered it when he recognized the source of the disturbance. Clad in nothing but the loose, draw-string cotton trousers he habitually wore to bed, King Randor of Eternia came bursting into the room. He took in the scene at a glance and ran to his son’s side, shoving Duncan and Aloric out of the way. Leaning on a bedpost for support, he gazed worriedly down at the sleeping prince and the medic who was listening intently to his heartbeat.
“What’s wrong with him?” he demanded, looking to his man-at-arms for answers.
Duncan shook his head. “I don’t—”
He was cut off as his daughter, Teela, Captain of the Guard, rushed into the room with two of the Masters, Lord Stratos of Avion and Buzz-Off, leader of the Andrenids, at her back. She stopped just inside the door. Taking in the tableau, the scattered guards, the anxious king, the medic determinedly examining the prince, the still form of the boy himself, her eyes grew very wide.
“Oh no! What happened?”
Duncan opened his mouth to answer both her query and the king’s but he stopped when he saw more people gathering in the hallway behind her. He changed what he was going to say. “Teela, crowd control.” He gestured toward the hallway with his chin and she, turning and seeing the crowd looming so near behind, immediately edged past the Masters and marched into its midst. She didn’t stop for question or reassurances just went to work. *That’s my girl.* Duncan turned back to the bed and found Jonis and Randor in the middle of a low-voice, urgent discussion.
“—you certain?” the medic asked.
“Yes!” Randor said, his tone filled with disturbed frustration. “He ate what the rest of us did.”
“Then I don’t know what to tell you, sire,” Jonis replied, equally frustrated. He began to tick off a list on his fingers. “He has no visible injuries. He doesn’t appear to be in a coma. There’s no concussion, no indication of internal injuries, no signs of illness or poison—”
“Poison!” Stratos cried. He flew across the room to the bed and looked down at the sleeping prince, horror writ plainly on his face. “Surely, no one would poison a child!”
“I doubt everyone here in Eternia thinks of him as a child,” Duncan said with more than a touch of irony. “Or everyone in this palace for that matter.”
“Even still,” Stratos insisted, “the son of the king – how could they?”
“What better way to sting Randor than to—” Buzz-Off broke off suddenly, looking at the king. He shrugged apologetically. “It makes sense.”
“Unfortunately, it does,” Randor agreed.
“We don’t have any reason to believe it’s poison,” Jonis snapped, clearly annoyed with their prattling. “But we must consider every possibility.” The medic stood. He stared down at the prince, looking stymied.
“Is Adam in any medical danger right now?” Randor asked, his voice unusually tight.
“Not as near as I can tell, but we need to get him to the infirmary for a complete examination right away,” the medic explained. “I’ll send for a gurney and—”
“Don’t bother,” Stratos interjected, shoving him respectfully aside. “I’ll take him.” The Avion stooped and slipped his arms under the prince’s body. “Your highness?” he asked.
“Yes,” Randor said, understanding. “Please, good Stratos, hurry.”
The Master nodded and lifted the limp form of the prince into his arms.
“I’ll fly guard,” Buzz-Off said firmly as he rushed to the window and deactivated the force screens. Together, the Avion and the Andrenid leapt into the open sky, winging for the infirmary and disappearing from sight. Aloric reset the force screen behind them.
Randor marched to the door, no doubt meaning to follow after them, but he stopped abruptly and whirled around to face Duncan. His demeanor was more grave than before. “Where is Cringer? He always sleeps with Adam. Where is he?”
“Cringer?” His gut contracted in alarm. “I don’t know.” He stifled the urge to begin searching the room. The guards had already inspected every square inch of it and his efforts would serve no real purpose.
Observing their exchange, Aloric tapped his comlink and ordered an immediate, palace-wide search for the tiger in addition to the ongoing search for signs of the intruder. “We’ll find him, you highness,” the sergeant promised. “Don’t worry on that account.”
Randor nodded. “Thank you, Sergeant Aloric. “Randor moved to go, but Duncan called after him. “Sire, wait.”
“Yes, Man-At-Arms,” he said impatiently, hardly pausing as he exited the room. Duncan trotted to catch up with him in the – cleared of people – corridor outside the room.
“Sire, I must speak to you privately,” he asserted.
“Now,” Randor said, his eyes looking down the hall, straining toward the unseen infirmary.
The king stopped before the entrance to small sunroom and eyed him, contemplatively. “About Adam?” Duncan nodded, and Randor immediately pulled him into the sunroom, closing the door behind him.
“What is it?” Randor asked, eyes worried. He did not sit down.
“Sire, the reason I knew that Adam was in danger is because the Sorceress called me,” he said hurriedly, fearful that the anxious king would leave before he could finish.
“Of Grayskull?” Randor replied, eyes wide in shock.
“Yes, her voice woke me,” he explained between shallow breaths. “She said that Adam was in danger, and… Randor, there was something in his room. The force screens on the windows were off when I got there and there was something, some sort of creature in the room.”
“What kind of creature?” Randor demanded, growing more alarmed. “What was it?”
Duncan stroked his moustache, eyes on the middle distance as his body remembered the hideous presence of the thing with shivers. “I don’t know. I didn’t really see it, or even hear it,” he said, sighing. “But I could feel that it was there.” He locked eyes with the king. “It tried to drive me away. It… it has to have been intelligent, Randor. It actively wanted me to leave Adam there, alone.”
The king studied him for a moment and then, without another word, he set out for the infirmary, the heavy sunroom door swinging in his wake.
To be continued...
Last edited by catslyn; March 8, 2003 at 04:09am.
Has anyone actually read this? If I can, I'd like to get some feedback before I post anything further.
I just read it and I want to read more. Better double check Adam's throat. It almost sounds like a vampire got him!
BTW if you're going to post your stories here get used to not reciveing a lot of posts. Trust me they are being read. People can have a habit of not reponding to every chapter and/or waiting till the story is over to leave feedback. Take it from one who knows.
Yes it can be frustrating but if I can deal with it (I get easily annoyed and overreact a lot) then it can't be that bad.
Thanks for the feedback. I've read through quite a number of the posts on this bulletin board at this point, and I had begun to suspect that a lack of responses was common.
I guess I'll just keep posting and see what happens.
I just read your fic -
Wow. Overall I'm very impressed. Excellent use of dialogue - the conversation flows evenly and realistically. Writing from MaA's point of view has also contributed well to the tension you are building. By the time Randor entered the room I was hooked! And where IS Cringer? An afterthought that echoed in my mind as soon as I read it.
Most of all, I'm pleased to read a well thought and written piece. It is both intelligent and intriguing thus far.
I look forward to more.
I've decided to post this all in one thread to make it easier to find. So this is Part 2 again. Part 3 will be coming soon.
Adam woke to the redolent aroma of spicy sausage and
buttery cinnamon rolls. Mouth watering anticipatorily, eyes still closed, he stretched, raising his arms into the air and cracking his knuckles. *I’m starving,* he thought. *I hope it’s a big breakfast.* He rolled onto his side and stretched some more, working the kinks out of his stiff muscles. He yawned, surprised by how sleepy he still felt. *Wish I could just stay in bed all day,* he thought muzzily. *I really don’t feel up to another etiquette lesson with Man-At-Arms. Ugg.* Adam rolled onto his front and buried his face in the pillow. It smelled oddly and he wondered if the chief laundress had decided to switch to a more astringent soap. His stomach rumbled hungrily. *Sausage. I should really get up and eat.* He burrowed further into the blankets, trying to ignore the unpleasant smell of the new soap; it didn’t mix well with the scent of breakfast. *Hey, wait a minute! Since when do they serve me breakfast in my room?*
Twisting onto his back, Adam threw the covers off and sat up, wobbling as a wave of dizziness hit him. *Which way is up?* he wondered frantically as he felt himself tipping off the bed. Before he got very far, though, strong arms caught and cradled him. *Very reassuring that.* Adam blinked blearily up at the king of Eternia’s hairy chin. “Dad?”
“Yes, Adam, it’s me,” his father replied gruffly, still hugging him to his massive chest. “You’re all right.” He lowered him gently back onto the mattress and conscientiously tucked the covers up around his chin while Adam tried to pretend he wasn’t embarrassed to be treated like a toddler. It wasn’t easy. He continued to blink at him, feeling baffled, as the king pulled a chair right up next to the bed and sat down in it. *His crown’s missing,* he noted absently. *He looks… wrong without his crown…incomplete.*
Adam glanced around him as his vision came back into focus and he had a sudden realization about why the bed felt all wrong and the sheets smelled funny. It wasn’t his bed. *I’m in the infirmary. Why am I in the infirmary?!* He turned his face back to his father, bit his lip, and decided to ask. The king leaned forward, his expression oddly intent. *He looks sleepy.*
“Adam, how are you—” he began.
“Where’s your crown?” he asked at the same moment.
“What?” Randor said, sitting back in surprise. It was his turn to blink. “Oh, ummm, I guess it is still in my dressing chamber.” He rubbed his bare forehead absently. “Adam, do you—”
“Why aren’t you wearing it?” *Wasn’t I going to ask him something else?*
Randor waved away the question. He leaned close, elbows on the bed and took Adam by the hand. “That is of no matter. My son, do you—”
“But, Father, you always wear it!” he insisted, alarmed by any aberrant behavior on his sire’s part. *Dad’s always had a crown. Is he king without a crown? Is he Dad without a crown?*
“Adam!” Randor exploded. “Will you please forget about my crown? It is immaterial.”
His eyes widened in horrified surmise. “You’re still king, right?!”
Randor breathed in so deeply his chest looked ready to explode. “For the Elders’ sake, Adam! Of course I am still king!”
“Good morning, my dears,” his mother sang as she came through the sickroom door.
“Mother!” Adam cried, pushing himself back into a sitting position. “Is Dad still king?” Randor dropped his head into his hands and groaned.
“Why, yes, Adam,” she said, startled. “Naturally.”
“Oh, good,” he lay back down and stared up at the ceiling to give his parents time for an exchange of their customarily embarrassing greetings. None was forthcoming.
“Marlena,” Randor ordered, his voice low and alarmed, “get a healer. There’s something wrong with him.” Adam turned back to glare at his father. *Me! There’s nothing wrong with me! He’s the one who’s—*
His mother brushed a lock of hair out of his father’s face. “It’s all right, Randor,” she said, soothingly. “He’s fine.”
“I just spoke with Healer Dorgan,” she explained, “and he told me to expect some odd behavior out of Adam for the next day or so, something to do with the broad-spectrum antibiotic they gave him not combining well with the blood replacement accelerator and his low blood pressure.
“Is that all?” he drawled.
“I think so.” She smiled at her son and sat genteelly down on the edge of the bed. “Hello, Adam,” she said. “How are you feeling?”
Adam considered the question. “Fuzzy,” he said at last, then, after a moment, “Father’s crown is missing.” She smiled reassuringly.
“Don’t worry, darling,” she replied instantly. “We’ll find it.”
“Oh,” he said. “Good.”
“Marlena!” Randor protested. “You’re encouraging him.
“Humor him, darling,” she suggested, sighing tiredly. “It won’t do any good to argue with him when he doesn’t even understand what you’re saying.” His father scowled, but he didn’t debate the point.
Adam blinked up at both of them, baffled. *He wouldn’t understand. What wouldn’t he understand?* His mother reached out rearranged his hair, brushing stray locks out of his face. He frowned, trying to figure out what was going on, but his thoughts were whirling in circles. It was worse than being hit by one of Sy-Klone’s tornados.
“Why hasn’t he eaten yet?” his mother asked, glancing at the laden breakfast plate.
“Because,” his father slowly ground out, sounding alarmingly annoyed to Adam’s criticism sensitive ears, “Because we’ve been arguing about my crown.”
His mother rolled her eyes and, placing a hand under his father’s arm, guided him out the chair in which he sat and took his place. “All right,” she said, her tone amused. “I’ll make him eat. You go get cleaned up. You haven’t – ”
Adam tried the follow the ensuing conversation, but his eyelids had felt progressively heavier since his mother’s arrival, and he slowly drifted off to sleep, only waking again when she finally made him eat his breakfast.
When Duncan entered Dorgan's office, he found the healer and the king and queen already seated around a small conference table, watching each other silently. Dorgan looked grave, but then, he always looked serious when one of his favored charges was ill. Marlena looked worried while Randor merely looked blank, which amounted to the same thing. Duncan nodded at all three of them and took a seat beside his queen. She gave him a weary smile while Randor, across the table from them, leaned forward.
"Thank you for coming so quickly, Duncan," he said. "I want you hear what Dorgan has to say before the rumors start spreading their way through the palace one courtier at a time. It is... what he has shared with me so far is very disturbing." The bags under Randor's eyes stood out like moon-cast shadows and Duncan wondered if he’d slept at all since the mysterious attack. The king leaned back in his chair and gestured for the healer to commence his report.
Dorgan snorted and began. "Disturbing seems a highly insufficient adjective to describe what I have to say. Outright bizarre or utterly peculiar would be closer to the mark," he temporized, rubbing his chin.
"Skip the commentary and give us the facts, Dorgan," Marlena ordered, brows creasing in annoyance.
"The facts are thus: Prince Adam lost more than 2.5 liters of blood - "
"Two-point-five!" Duncan exclaimed. "But - "
"Let him finish," Randor interjected without raising his eyes from his hands in his lap. "There is a great deal more." Duncan subsided, appalled by the idea that there could be something to relate beyond that. *It's a miracle he isn't dead. How could he lose so much?*
Dorgan continued, shooting the Master no more than a half-hearted glare for the interruption. "Adam has been given multiple transfusions, most from his own donations kept on store here in the infirmary. I believe that the blood loss, and the low blood pressure it created, were responsible for his unconscious state at the time Man-At-Arms found him." The healer sighed. "In addition to the transfusions, I have given him medication to combat the effects of the low blood pressure as well as a broad-spectrum antibiotic to help ward off infections while his immune system is suppressed."
Randor looked up, capturing Dorgan with his gaze. "Will there be any serious long-term health concerns because of this incident?" he asked, his voice sounding scratchy and dry.
"At this point I don't believe so, but it's too early to tell for certain."
"Can't you ever be definite about anything?" Marlena complained suddenly, taking all three men by surprise as she half-stood and slapped the table before her. "You never commit to any statement short of 'I'm hungry!'"
The king blinked at her while Dorgan stared open-mouthed. "Do you want me to lie to you?" he finally asked, sounding defensive. The queen scowled but she dropped back into her chair without further comment. Randor smiled placatingly at her, and she began to look reasonably embarrassed by her outburst.
Duncan cleared his throat. "When did this blood loss occur?" he asked, drawing the healer's irritated attention once more and giving his king and queen a moment to gather themselves.
"No more than five to ten minutes before you called for help," Dorgan replied matter-of-factly.
"Ten minutes at the most?" he said doubtfully, trying to remain calm. "But Dorgan, there was no blood anywhere in that room. I checked the entire suite myself. Are you certain about the time frame?"
"Yes, I am," he countered firmly. "If he'd lost that much blood any longer ago he would be exhibiting distinct signs of tissue deterioration and organ death... and he's not." At the mention of the word death, Randor inhaled sharply, all the color leaving his face. Marlena, similarly pale, immediately stepped around the table and deposited herself on the arm of his chair, one slender arm settling around her husband's stiff shoulders.
Dorgan watched this display of contained parental panic self-consciously. "Ummm, sorry," he said after a moment of guilty silence. "I imagine that sounded... rather bad."
"That is an extreme understatement," the king muttered. "Still," he added more loudly, eyebrows knitting, "Man-At-Arms makes an excellent point. There was no blood in Adam's chambers and you have not mentioned a wound or injury of any kind. How exactly did this extraordinary anemia come about?"
The healer sighed pointedly, glaring at Randor. "We are... theorizing... internal bleeding, but... " he trailed off looking decidedly annoyed with this hypothesis.
"You don't seem content with that explanation," Marlena noted neutrally.
"The problem is," Dorgan explained, "that there are no signs of internal injuries and no pools of blood anywhere in his body. That much fluid can't just disappear! It has to be somewhere! It has to have left his body by some means, but we can find neither the blood itself nor the injury that caused the blood loss!"
"What about illness," the king asked. "I know there are diseases that cause varying degrees of anemia."
"No," the healer insisted, shaking his head. "This was a sudden blood loss, not a gradual one. The signs are very clear."
They all paused for several seconds, carefully considering his arguments and the implications. *Major blood loss. No wounds. No illness. No explanation. It's impossible, but it has happened.* Duncan met Randor's eyes. The king looked as disturbed as he felt. Randor studied him intently for a moment and then turned toward Dorgan.
"What are your recommendations?" he asked.
"That he remains in the infirmary under close observation for at least forty-eight hours." The healer raised his eyes to the ceiling, considering for a moment. "Then, if he still feels unwell, complete bedrest for as much as an additional five days. Adam should complete the course of antibiotics I have prescribed for him, and he should make a special effort to eat as healthily as possible for the next few weeks."
The king and queen nodded agreement to this list of treatments. "What about preventative measures?" Marlena asked.
Dorgan stood. "I think that," he said, "may be more a matter for security that for my department. I wish I had more information for you, but, quite simply, I don't. Now, if you will all excuse me, I should check on my patient, and you three have a great deal to discuss." The king gestured acquiescence and the healer left the room, looking no happier than he had when Duncan entered a short while before.
"Well, Man-At-Arms," Randor said tiredly, rubbing his eyes. "What exactly do you think attacked my son?"
Duncan's brow furrowed. "I wish I knew, sire."
Keep it coming I like it.
I think I called it though VAMPIRE! (which is fine vampire stories are cool!)
Here's the next scene -- I may have another scene or two to post this weekend.
Under the influence of the drugs, Adam slept heavily for the remainder of that day. He woke periodically, and when he did, his mother, his father or one of the Masters was always there, sitting beside the bed. He had vague memories of eating under his mother’s direction, of getting up to use the privy and then being tucked back in bed by Mekanek, of being poked and prodded by Dorgan and Jonis. All in all, it was hazy blur of too much sleep and too little peace.
When he awoke the following day, he was alone. After a short while, Dorgan appeared and examined him once more, pronounced him healthy enough to bathe himself in the adjacent chamber, and then tried to leave saying that he had better things to do than babysit a patient who was well enough to take care of himself. As the healer headed for the door, Adam called out to him. “Dorgan, wait!”
“Yes?” he said irritably, one hand on the doorknob. *Grump,* Adam thought
“What’s wrong with me, Dorgan?” Adam asked, sitting forward on his bed. “You still haven’t told me what happened.”
The old healer sighed. “We’ll talk about that later, young man. Right now – ”
“But – ” Adam complained.
“I have rounds to make, your highness.”
“Can I go back to my own room?” he asked hopefully.
“No. Absolutely not.” The healer pulled the door open.
“Can I at least have visitors?” Adam cried.
“Yes, yes,” he waved impatiently. “Your parents will be along to see you shortly, and the Masters will probably be stopping by. Now take your bath and quit delaying me!” With that, Dorgan stomped out the door, leaving it to swing shut behind him. *Blast!* Adam thought. *How long am I going to be stuck in here? He never tells me anything.*
Unresigned to his confinement, but unwilling to make the enormous fuss it would take to get out of the infirmary, Adam hopped out of the bed and shuffled his way to the bathing chamber. He emerged from his bath an hour later wearing a clean set of infirmary pajamas, his hair still damp. As he crossed the room to his bed, he could hear several voices coming from the hall outside his door.
Young earnest voices.
Girlish earnest voices.
A bunch of them.
*Oh no,* he thought, feeling like a trap had just sprung closed around him. *Not them! I wonder if I could climb out the window.* On general principle, he walked over to the window and peered out. They’d placed him in a room that overlooked the infirmary garden, he was pleased to see. Unfortunately, the view was marred by the back of an Eternian Guard. *Swell. What does Father think is going to happen? Skeletor’s going to kidnap me while I’ve got the flu?*
Sighing, Adam turned and leaned against the window sill as he heard the voices in the hall grow louder. His muscles relaxed when he saw what was happening. The voices were louder because the door was open. Peeking around the edge was Lady Shendala Matril, the daughter of Ambassador Benin Matril from the court of Duke Borathian. She held a finger over her lips, gesturing for silence. *Oh, so we’re sneaking in, are we?* Smiling, he waved her on and watched as she slipped inside and closed the door behind her without a sound.
Shenda, as she preferred to be called, was a year his senior but just slightly under his height. She kept her cinnamon hair pulled back into a braid from which stray curls escaped to frame her lightly freckled face and hazel eyes. The clothes she favored were as demure and frilly and those worn by any other girl of the court, but Adam knew she wore them like a uniform, a way to keep her father and his associates off her back. But underneath the surface lurked a girl who reminded him a great deal of Teela… minus the cobra staff, the razor sharp insults and the constant jibes about his “cowardice.” *It does make for a nice change of pace.*
She crossed the room, and Adam hastened to hold out a chair for her, acting like the gentleman his mother wanted him to be. Grinning, his visitor lowered herself decorously into the chair and then watched with interest as he hopped up and sat cross-legged on the bed.
“Nice pajamas,” she said, nose wrinkling in amusement.
Adam flushed, biting back a horrified groan. *The pajamas! Oh, oh, Elders!* “Uh, they weren’t my idea,” he stammered.
“No, really, they look good on you. But then, as Lady Padma would say,” she put a hand to her collarbone dramatically, “everything looks good on a prince.”
Adam scowled and looked away. “Cut it out, Shenda. You know she makes me crazy.”
“I know,” she said. “She never lets up, does she?”
“She’s like a bloodhound,” Adam noted, “only less wrinkly.”
Shenda burst out laughing, eyes alight, and Adam joined in sheepishly, still embarrassed about the pajamas. “I’m sorry,” she said between giggles. “But really, Adam, how do you know? Have you seen her without her clothes on?”
“Shenda!” he shouted, his voice squeaking. “What is it with you today?”
She continued to laugh quietly, but her eyes sobered as she gazed at him. “All right,” she said at last. “I’ll be serious.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“But truly, you highness, that’s why I’m here. I have an idea to help you deal with the army of giggling courtiers” Adam raised an eyebrow skeptically. “Well,” she admitted, “that and the fact that I wanted to see how you were.”
“Oh, so do you know what’s wrong with me?” he asked curiously.
“No, but rumors are running through the court like bad wine: Skeletor, some sort of wasting sickness, suicide, dr –”
“Suicide!” Adam stared at her, appalled beyond the ability to speak further. *Suicide? But…*
“Well, you have been kind of unhappy since your last birthday,” she suggested when he didn’t say anything more. “People have noticed. I noticed.”
“Everybody’s been unhappy since the Mystic Wall came down,” he complained. “But nobody believes that, about suicide, do they?”
She shook her head, looking stern. “I don’t think so… anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. It’s about the girls.” She leaned forward and placed one of her hands on his knee; it felt very warm through the thin cotton of his pants. Her unexpectedly familiar touch made Adam a little uncomfortable, but he tamped down on his reaction, eager to hear what she had to day. “I thought that you and – ”
She sat back abruptly, putting both hands demurely in her lap as the door opened again and Man-At-Arms walked in. Adam looked up, both pleased and disappointed to see his mentor. *It’s about time he showed up.* Conversations with Shenda were always… well, educational, but he had a million questions he figured only Man-At-Arms could, or would, answer.
To be continued...
Here it is.
Duncan could hear the group of young courtiers outside Prince Adam's sickroom long before he could see them. They, all girls he noted, had lain siege to Adam's door and were doing their level best to get past its sole defender, Sergeant Raon. The pouting, whining and flirting employed by the girls didn't seem to be having much success moving Raon from his post, but he looked stiff as a statue in the face of the concerted displeasure of the 'flowers' of the court. Raising an eyebrow, he approached the mob. The courtiers ignored him but the sergeant threw him a pleading look.
"Good morning, ladies," Duncan said cheerfully. "Why, I can't tell you how pleased I am to see that you've all come to volunteer your time in the infirmary." Raon's eyes grew very wide as the girls stopped speaking en masse. A few of the wiser ones slipped away immediately. For the most part, they just gaped at him, appalled.
"Still," Duncan said thoughtfully, carefully restraining the smile that tore at his lips. "Still, you should not neglect your other obligation just to help out here." Duncan studied the group before him. "Lady Nadala, shouldn't you be at your riding lesson?" Lady Nadala scowled, turned and stomped away. Two other girls followed her looking equally hostile. Raon took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
Duncan continued. "Mistress Delien, don't you have a singing lesson in a few minutes?" Delien grinned and nodded.
"Yes, Man-At-Arms. I'll leave." She gestured significantly and one of the other girls walked out with her.
Duncan turned his attention to the remainder of the mob. "Well, Man-At-Arms," Lady Parett asked, hands behind her back, eyes twinkling, "what am I supposed to be doing now?"
Sergeant Raon watched the Master with interest, eyebrows rising to his hairline. Duncan didn't disappoint him. "I do believe you are scheduled for a fitting with your mother's seamstress in half-an-hour."
Parett chuckled. "Right you are, Man-At-Arms." She curtsied elegantly, nodding to each of them. Duncan noticed that her blue eyes seemed to linger on the sergeant. "If you gentlemen will excuse me?"
"Of course, my lady," Raon said, flushing slightly. "A pleasant afternoon to you."
"Good day, Lady Parett," Duncan said, nodding in return. He watched as she walked away, swishing her skirts just a little more than strictly necessary. *Looks like Adam's not the only one being pursued.* He turned to the last two girls left, Mistress Esaudre. She smiled up at him impudently.
"Do think it would be all right if I did ask to help out in the infirmary, Man-At-Arms?" she asked. Duncan frowned, startled.
"It isn't necessary, Mistress Esaudre," he said quickly. "I was - "
"You were teasing the others," she finished confidently. "I know. But I would like to help. My uncle is a healer and I find it... very interesting."
"Don't you have a riding lesson as well?"
"Yes, but I could come back afterward," she suggested.
Duncan sighed. "All right. I'll let Healer Dorgan know you'll be coming."
"Thank you, Man-At-Arms. Come on, Mellie." She grabbed the other girl's hand and they walked out of the infirmary, giggling madly.
Raon sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Thank you, Man-At-Arms. I wasn't sure how to get rid of them. I couldn't exactly threaten them."
Duncan laughed and patted the soldier on the shoulder. "It's all right, Sergeant. You'll learn how to deal with such occurrences as you go." Duncan put his hand on the doorknob to Adam's room.
"Yes, sir," he agreed. "But, Man-At-Arms, how did you know what they were supposed to be doing?" Duncan grinned.
"Oh, Prince Adam asked me to find out the schedule of all the young ladies of the court a couple years ago."
Raon's brows knit. "That... that doesn't sound like the prince," he said carefully.
"He wants to be able to avoid them."
"Oh," the sergeant said, his voice rich with understanding.
Duncan opened the door and stepped into Prince Adam’s sickroom. Somehow, he was unsurprised to see that one of the courtiers had managed to slip past Raon. Sergeants were made for fighting enemy armies, not flirtatious court belles. Lady Shendala Martil was sitting demurely in a chair before Adam’s bed while the prince was sitting on the bed itself, an alarmingly guilty look on his young face.
*Oh ho! And just what have you been up to, Prince Adam?* The boy’s flush deepened as Duncan approached the bed and stood beside it. “Good morning, your highness, Lady Shendala.”
“Good morning, Man-At-Arms,” Shenda said, smiling innocently up at the Master. “How do you fare today, sir?”
Duncan raised an eyebrow as Adam’s eyes widened in response to this bold question on the part of the miscreant. *Well, Adam says she’s reasonably intelligent and amenable to plain speaking.* “Lady Shendala, would you please excuse us? Prince Adam and I have a great deal to discuss that requires privacy.”
She stood, smoothing her skirts. “Of course, Man-At-Arms. Is it all right if I come back and visit his highness again later?”
Adam wasn’t giving him one of his desperate *Get this lovesick courtier away from me!* looks, so Duncan bit back his instinctive response of *no*. Taking a deep breath, he considered the young girl standing so patiently before him. “I’ll… have to check with Healer Dorgan,” he said at last. “I’ll let you know.”
Shenda smiled, eyes twinkling. “Thank you, sir. I’ll see you later, your highness.” She turned and walked out, her skirts not quite brushing the floor.
He turned to Adam. “So, how long was she here?” he asked.
Adam shrugged. “Not long. Is the rest of the giggle team still out there?”
Duncan’s lips quirked up, but he managed to restrain his mirth. “No,” he said. “They all suddenly remembered pressing appointments elsewhere.”
“Thanks,” Adam said with an enormous sigh. “I don’t think I could take any *oh, prince Adam*-ing right now.”
Duncan raised an eyebrow and Adam sighed again. Then, in a high, shrill imitation of a girl’s voice, he said, “You know – ‘Oh, Prince Adam, aren’t you handsome. Oh, Prince Adam, could you open this; you’re so strong. Oh, Prince Adam, you are so funny. Ha, ha, ha. Oh, Prince Adam, I’m slipping… catch me. Oh, Prince Adam, you – ” Duncan burst out laughing. “It’s not funny, Man-At-Arms!” Adam complained sourly. “It’s really not.” He glared up at his mentor as the older man regained control of his laughter. *He wouldn’t think it was so funny if they were doing it to him!*
Taking a deep breath, Duncan smiled compassionately down at him. “Has it really gotten that bad?” The prince nodded emphatically. “I see.” He rubbed his chin. “Have you spoken with your father about this?”
*He would have to ask that.* “Yes,” Adam admitted reluctantly. “He says I’m overreacting. He also says that I have to be nice to them and that I should spend more time with them.” He gave the Master an exasperated look and continued in disgusted tones. “When I pointed out that he never went through this and doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he suddenly remembered that he a guild meeting to attend.”
The prince watched as Man-At-Arms bit his lower lip – *so that’s where Teela gets that habit* – probably to keep from laughing again. *I get absolutely no sympathy. He thinks it’s funny. Father thinks I’m overreacting. Teela thinks I’m encouraging it. Even Mother says it’s natural for the girls to try to impress me. I swear, if it wasn’t for He-Man, I’d run away and become a farmer like Gramps. This is pointless. Might as well change the subject.*
Adam’s eyes narrowed at he studied his mentor’s face. “Man-At-Arms, what’s going on? What happened to me?”
Duncan sighed and settled into the chair that Shenda has so recently vacated. The seat was still warm. “We don’t know, Adam. I was hoping that you could tell me. Do you remember anything?”
The prince shook his head. “I sort of remember yesterday, people going in and out, my Father arguing with me about… something. Before that, I remember going back to my rooms to go to bed after that state dinner for the Qadian ambassador.”
“Nothing else?” he asked urgently, leaning forward.
“No, Man-At-Arms,” the prince replied definitely. “That’s it.”
Duncan sat back again, frowning. “The king and queen are not going to like that answer,” he said simply.
Adam scowled. “It’s not my fault,” he defended himself. “I didn’t – ”
“No one is blaming you, Adam” he interjected. “No one is going to be angry with you, we’re just… very concerned. It’s going to be hard to stop it from happening again if we don’t what caused it.”
“What caused what?” Adam asked, perplexed. “What happened to me, Man-At-Arms? What do we know?”
Duncan took a deep breath and explained everything they knew so far. The more he talked, the more skeptical Adam became. When he mentioned the blood loss, the prince could no longer suppress his disbelief.
“That’s crazy!” he exclaimed. “You make it sound like a vampire got me.”
Duncan nodded. “We checked. There were no bite marks.”
Adam gaped at him. “You checked,” he repeated disbelievingly. “Man-At-Arms, vampires don’t exist.”
“We were out of theories, Adam. Unfortunately, we are still out of theories. I’ve got the Masters researching other creatures that feed on blood, but we have yet to find any useful information.”
The prince’s mind boggled at the thought that something might have been feeding on him. *Man-At-Arms has to be mistaken. There was nothing in my bedroom with me. He must have imagined it. There’s a simple, ordinary explanation. Vampires!*
“Gee, Man-At-Arms, I’m not sure which theory is more disturbing. The idea that something was eating me or the idea that my body isn’t working right anymore.”
“Your highness, Dorgan examined you very carefully,” Duncan said soothingly. “He assures us that you are in perfect health. There’s nothing physically wrong with you. You were assaulted.”
“Don’t ‘your highness’ me,” Adam said, looking away. *Okay. So, I was attacked,* he thought resignedly. *So what’s the big deal? I’ve been attacked before. Admittedly, never in my own bedroom…* Adam turned his face back to Duncan. The Master was looking past him, out the window, arms crossed over his chest. “Man-At-Arms?”
“Do you think that the… whatever it was will be back?”
Duncan sighed and returned his gaze to the prince’s face. “Yes. I’m very much afraid it will be back. Which is why I want you to stay under guard in the infirmary for the next few days.”
“Days!” he exclaimed. “Great. That’s just great. I’ll go stir crazy. Can’t I just become He-Man, go find this thing and deal with it?”
“No, Adam. Absolutely not. I spoke with the Sorceress the day after you were assaulted and she said that it could be dangerous to let – ” Duncan’s comlink whistled and, gesturing for silence, he activated it.
“Man-At-Arms here,” he said.
“Father!” Teela’s voice came through, excited and intense. “Father, I found Cringer!”
To be continued...
hmm not a vampire?
Very good story so far, no not a lot of responses but we do read them!
Please post more.
Vampire. Repeat after me: vampire.They all paused for several seconds, carefully considering his arguments and the implications. *Major blood loss. No wounds. No illness. No explanation. It's impossible, but it has happened.* Duncan met Randor's eyes. The king looked as disturbed as he felt. Randor studied him intently for a moment and then turned toward Dorgan.
BTW: use the and for italics in place of * I simply write it as an html document in Word and then cut and paste.
Yeah, no take out, no pizza for breakfast, no all-night keggers.Adam should complete the course of antibiotics I have prescribed for him, and he should make a special effort to eat as healthily as possible for the next few weeks."
They have blood transfusions, antibiotics but no freaking catheters? What's wrong with these people?of getting up to use the privy and then being tucked back in bed by Mekanek, of being poked and
Okay, I won't make the obvious comment here. I'm surprised an unmarried lady of the court would be allowed in the prince's chamber without some sort of chaperone. Unless virginity isn't really an issue with these people.But then, as Lady Padma would say,”
I suppose Adam isn't yet old enough to realize what girls are nice for?Raon's brows knit. "That... that doesn't sound like the prince," he said carefully.
"He wants to be able to avoid them."
"Oh," the sergeant said, his voice rich with understanding.
Originally posted by Granamyr
I suppose Adam isn't yet old enough to realize what girls are nice for?
heh heh.That made me laugh too.
I'm loving the story so far. Adam's whole "where's fathers crown?" thing reminded me of Vash the Stampeed forom Trigun. Keep it up though! I wanna know what happened to Cringer.
I liked the whole father's crown scene, too. I could tell the kid was definitely on a morphine drip.
This will teach me to be careful what I say to Granamyr.:o
I'll post more this evening.
Ummm, are you gonna finish this?
I just found out I was switched to a new teaching position (from RSP to SDC) for next year and have been swamped.
I'm also working on three other fics, writing outlines for several others and working in a Jonny Quest series of fanfic.
I will finish this as well as the others which I plan to post here. So far, one is an epic 60,000 words and I expect it will be a cool 100,000.
Oh, I'm also beta reading a He-Man trilogy written by my roomate. Talk about an epic... She should post it here soon.
Anyway, I'll post more soon.
This is a test of the emergency italics system. Please ignore.
This is a continuation of the previous scene.
“Father!” Teela’s voice came through, excited and intense. “Father, I found Cringer!”
“What?” Adam cried. “What does she mean she found him?” Duncan blinked.
“Is that Adam?” Teela asked anxiously. “Is he all right?” Duncan started to reply, but Adam snatched the comlink out of his hand.
“Teela, what happened to Cringer? What do you mean you found him?”
There was no response for a moment, then she said, “Didn’t you know he was missing?”
“No!” the prince cried, glaring at his mentor. “No one has told me anything!”
“Adam, I – ” Duncan began only to be interrupted again.
“Cringer’s been missing since you… since you got sick,” Teela explained.
“But you found him? He’s okay?”
“He’s fine, I think. He doesn’t seem to be injured. Adam, what – ”
“Where was he, Teela?” Duncan asked, afraid that the youngsters, caught up in the melodrama of moment, might go on in this vein for some time.
“He was trapped in a cave in the Vine Jungle, Father.”
“Trapped how?” Adam demanded.
“The entrance collapsed. I’m not certain, but it looked deliberate, like someone had trapped him there on purpose,” she explained. “There was a large, shallow pool of water at the back of the cavern with fish in it, so he had plenty to eat and drink. He’s dirty and he’s acting pretty pathetic, but I think that’s just because he misses you.”
“You’ve done well, Teela,” Duncan said, regaining control of the conversation. “You can fill us in on the rest of the details when you get back.”
“Yes, Father.” She signed off and Adam rubbed his face as if trying to clear his head.
“Why would someone attack Cringer?” he asked at last. “Why? It’s just crazy!”
“No, Adam. Crazy is the one thing Cringer’s disappearance isn’t.”
“What do you mean?”
“I suspect it’s no coincidence that Cringer was whisked away on the same night that you were assaulted.”
Adam tilted his head, studying his mentor curiously. “You’re really convinced something attacked me?”
“Yes, Adam, I am. More now than ever.”
The prince lay back on the bed abruptly, his head thumping loudly into his pillow. “But why?” he asked in exasperation. “Why would someone try to . . . to kill me, but leave Cringer unharmed and go to all the trouble of . . . Why does someone want to kill me?”
“We don’t know that the assailant was trying to kill you,” he sighed. “All we know for certain is that somehow, with no apparent wounds, you lost a large quantity of blood. You might have been very sick for awhile, but you probably would not have died.”
The prince scowled, but he could not dispute Man-At-Arms’ argument. “I want to see Cringer.”
“Of course you do. I’ll bring him here after he’s been examined properly by the medics and Orko.”
“Orko?” Adam asked. “Why Orko?”
“He has to be checked for spells, your highness.”
“You can’t be serious!” Adam glared at him. “Hasn’t Cringer been through enough? There’s no telling what Orko will turn him into.” Duncan raised an eyebrow. “Couldn’t you have the Sorceress check him?”
Duncan reached up and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Hmmm. I’ll see what I can do,” he said. “That might not be a bad idea.” He stood. “Now you stay here, and I’ll bring Cringer to you as soon as I can.”
“He better be all right,” Adam muttered as he stared out the window, trying to ignore the guard’s broad back.
heh heh kool.
I'm on a roll...
Duncan habitually re-checked the controls as the wind raider rose into the air, the dust of Grayskull swirling beneath it. Satisfied that everything was working properly, he banked the craft to the west and set the controls to take them back to the palace.
In the seat beside him, Cringer had curled himself into a surprising small ball of fluff. Duncan had suggested that his weary friend ride in the back where he could stretch out, but the tiger had remained stubbornly in the front. At that moment, he lay with his eyes closed and the tip of his tail wrapped around his nose, but the Master could tell that he was not asleep. Reaching over, he patted the tiger’s head reassuringly. “You’re going to be fine, Cringer. Don’t worry.” The cat rubbed his hand for a moment, yawned, and then rested his muzzle on his paws once more. Duncan continued to stroke his soft fur until the sound of the tiger’s gentle snores reached his ears.
Well, at least this is one less thing we all have to worry about, he reflected. If the Sorceress hadn’t given Cringer a clean bill of health, I don’t even want to guess what Adam might have done. Now, if we only can figure out who’s responsible for this mess…
The remainder of their journey passed in silence, leaving Duncan alone with his thoughts. Time and time again, they returned to the attack on the prince. By the time they reached the palace landing field, Duncan was fuming.
“Every last bite, Adam,” Randor said edging closer to the bed, his voice sounding oddly gruff. “I mean it.”
The Prince of Eternia tilted his head and studied the king carefully, absentmindedly stirring his soup. “Father, are you coming down with a cold?” Randor started and leaned back. cleared his throat loudly, then quickly said, “I’m fine.”
He doesn’t look fine, Adam thought. “But your voice – ”
“There’s nothing wrong with my voice,” Randor said firmly,. “Now, eat your dinner.”
Adam sighed. The evening was not going well. He’d had a series of overly solicitous visitors, his father was acting like a bird with a cat near his nest, and he still hadn’t seen Cringer. What is taking Man-At-Arms so long? He sighed and glanced toward the window, looking for some sign of either of his friends.
“Adam, eat!” Randor snapped, rapidly drawing his son’s attention back to the tray of food balanced across his lap.
“I’m not hungry,” he said, trying to sound reasonable. “Surely I shouldn’t eat when I’m not hungry?”
“Every last bit or I’ll send for Dorgan and your mother.”
Scowling, Adam stuffed a piece soup-soaked bread into his mouth and chewed resignedly. I wish they’d at least let me sit at the table. This is just silly. Swallowing, he reached down, sopped up the last bit of the spicy soup and popped it into his mouth. His father smiled in satisfaction and gestured toward the remainder of his pot pie. Adam groaned, but he complied. When he’d finished off every scrap of food, and his stomach felt thoroughly distended, his father patted him on the shoulder, saying, “Good boy.”
Adam opened his mouth to complain about being spoken to like a dog, but he was immediately forced to stifle an extremely loud burp. To his surprise, his father merely smiled and squeezed his shoulder. “I guess we still need to work on your comportment,” he noted.
“So, shall we play a game of cards? Chess?” the king asked, reaching for the pile of games on the table by the bed.
His son blinked at him. “But, you never… Do you even know how to play cards? You’re always so busy and – ”
“For the Elders’ sake, Adam, I wasn’t born a king!” Randor burst out. “I happen to be quite – ” His father broke off as the door opened, and Adam looked over to see a green blur streaking toward his bed.
“Cringer!” he cried, his shout immediately echoed by his father’s. Before he could speak again, he found himself crushed to the bed by a enormous, furry weight while a sandpaper tongue licked his bangs. Laughing, he threw his arms around his friend’s neck and buried his face in the soft fur. He’s OK! He’s not hurt! Cringer’s purr vibrated the bed beneath him, and Adam suddenly remembered the dishes that had been sitting on his tray. “Ummm, Cringe, I think you may be laying on the – ”
His father’s laughing voice cut him off. “It’s all right, son. I have the tray.”
Adam let out a muffled, “Thanks, Dad!” and curled up with his cat, suddenly feeling very sleepy.
Last edited by catslyn; May 18, 2003 at 10:40pm.
I know I think there's a reason somebody's trying to kill Adam: he's being so incredibly anal. Such a worrywort.
And Cringer, well, he's always pathetic. Loveable, but pathetic.
I'm still trying to decide which physician is more annoying: your Dorgan or my Elfrin.
Oh, and parts of Chapter Six are up.