Enchanted Twelve: The Twins Ch. 03bydeathlynx©
Enchanted Twelve: Mandy and Millay Ch. 3 By Deathlynx
Prince Beryl virtually cowered in the corner of the clearing. It wasn't that he was truly afraid of prince Jerov, simply that it was much easier to deal with the smaller man's temper by simply avoiding it. Too often, the target of man's rage became a person who crossed his path rather than the one who caused the mood to begin with.
Of course, more often than not, Beryl didn't even believe that there had been any real slight to set Jerov off. He was incredibly self centered. All it took was an honest disagreement, and the sorcerer-prince would automatically assume that people where out to get him. Truthfully, there were a number of people, but most held vendettas based on past slights of Jerov's ruthless plots for more power.
If only other people could see the man that Prince Beryl had known so long ago. At one time Jerov had been a kind young man. Unfortunately, an incident with the wrong crowd taught him all the wrong lessons about power. In particular, he learned the true potential of magic. Unfortunately, Beryl had been away. He hadn't been around to protect his best friend during that critical period. Now, he stuck with the man in the hopes that somehow, he could find a way to redeem Jerov and turn him back into the man he had been.
Jerov spun and glared at the woods. It was the direction the girls always came from. Beryl quickly tried to calm the smaller man. Better that the man was upset with him than the girls. "I'm sure they're on their way my friend."
Only Prince Jerov's eyes turned towards Beryl. The look was cold. He did not appreciate the attempt to either calm or distract his wrath. After too many seconds, the sorcerer finally responded. When he did it was a barely audible growl. "They will be late tonight."
Beryl wasn't happy with the news, but he accepted it without contest. Unfortunately, that would likely only sour the man's mood more. After the occurrences of the previous night, Beryl feared what that would mean for the girls. "Will they be as late as they were last night?"
For the first time all day, Prince Jerov's expression lightened slightly in contemplation. It was the barest hint of the man Beryl had once called his best friend. Jerov's eyes returned to the woods, but Beryl did not like the glint that appeared in his eyes. "No. We should have a few hours between the time they get here and when they need to leave."
Prince Beryl knew how he wanted to spend the time. In truth, he felt he needed to spend it with Millay. He needed to make sure all was well with her. Unfortunately, he feared he knew the answer. Each day, the two seemed more and more exhausted. They wouldn't be able to continue to meet like this for much longer if this continued.
But that wasn't the worst of it. Last night had desperately scared the gentle young woman. That wasn't even the worst part, from his lover's perspective. Mostly, Millay was afraid for her twin. He couldn't blame her either, even he was unsure how long she would be able to survive his friend's depredations.
Prince Beryl sighed and leaned back. Likely he needed to wait a little longer before he could begin to prepare the snacks and whatnot for the visit. Jerov would let him know when it was time. Even if he had little respect for the women, at least he still respected Beryl enough to afford him the time to get ready. It was one of the few signs that there was still hope.
Mandy's knees folded beneath her. Even with Millay's help she had been having more and more problems. The extra weight pulled both women to the ground. Millay struggled to stand and continue on. She was pretty sure they were almost there. It was possible that the flicker of light and color was simply a delusion, but she expected to find the familiar clearing around the next set of trees.
Unfortunately, Mandy could not even find the energy to pull herself to her knees. Unlike her twin, she had no idea they were so close to their goal. Blind love, and even more unquestioning obedience, would have driven her past the capabilities of her body to continue on.
No matter what her twin thought of the relationship, Mandy loved Prince Jerov with all of her heart and knew that his feelings ran just as deep. He was prone to temper, true, but they never saw the pain and embarrassment that appeared in his eyes after he had taken out his anger on her. His love for her would save him from himself.
"I'll be back, dear one." Millay finally pulled herself up as she spoke. She hated that she even needed to tell her twin what she intended, but neither of them had the strength to hold open their near-legendary link. Both had assumed that it took no effort to maintain. Now, after even their reserves of energy had been surpassed they discovered the truth; negligible as it was, their telepathic link required effort.
Millay was surprised how slow she moved. She knew she was tired, but for some reason her body didn't feel it. Perhaps it was simply a natural comparison against her twin. Whatever the reason, she didn't quite understand her own body's reactions. She didn't even know her equilibrium was off until she found the forest floor racing up to meet her.
A cushion of warmth wrapped about her just before she hit the ground. A sigh of relief escaped the moment Millay recognized the precious heat. She would know his scent, his muscles, his arms, anywhere. She heard her sobs before she even realized she had begun to cry.
Prince Beryl lifted his lover and cradled her in one arm. It was an easy guess that Mandy was not far away. Unfortunately, it was equally easy to determine that she would be in no shape to move, or else she would be at her twin's side. "Shhh, my love. It will be all right. We'll get her."
All right? How could it be all right!? We can barely stand, much less survive whatever Jerov has in store for us today. When Beryl hugged her slightly, Millay feared she might have mumbled her thoughts aloud. It was one thing for him to hear, but if her twin's Prince had overheard they could both be in serious trouble.
In moments Prince Beryl knelt beside Mandy. Carefully he lifted her and cradled each in an arm as if they were twin babies once more. Unbeknownst to each other, both women had that thought, and both accepted that they were so weak that it would be an apt analogy in more ways than one.
Once back in the clearing, he set Millay down on a seldom used chair. Mandy was laid carefully down on the love seat. He clearly understood where his lover's priorities demanded he focus his attention. Until the blond twin was comfortable and able to rest, there was no comfort for the brunette.
No sooner than Prince Beryl lifted Millay onto the comfort of his lap than Prince Jerov stormed forward. Without even a word of warning, his fingers wove a spell and flicked outward. Beryl's eyes widened as he felt Millay press slightly harder against him. The two were bound together as if with iron and could not move from the chair.
Mandy moved bonelessly at the smaller prince's magic command. Tears sprang instantly to Millay's eyes at the sight of her precious sister flopping around like an ill used marionette. Millay's chest heaved with exhaustion but even the harsh tug of telekinetic magic could not pry her heavy eye-lids open more than slits.
Prince Jerov took hold of the collar of her dress with both hands. No one expected it to tear; between the thick material and the sweat that saturated it, it should have been ample protection. No one anticipated the spell he had cast. In a further display of his power, the dress ripped perfectly down the center and exposed her chest to the air.
Through watery eyes, Millay realized that the rent conveniently stopped less than an inch above her twin's sacred temple. Even with that simple blessing, it still allowed virtually the entirety of the pink lace undergarment, that had been a gift from the sadistic prince, to be seen. The fine manufacture of the underwear ensured that it was nearly as revealing as complete nudity. She knew from personal experience with her own pair that a careful examination was not needed to see every fold and bulge between her legs.
Even weakened, Mandy could not help but resist his attentions. Although he used magic to imprison Millay, Jerov had only used enough on her to change her position. She brought her arms up and feebly gripped the dark haired prince's wrists.
Usually, Mandy's resistance brought an arrogant, amused, smile to her lover's face. Her eyes widened in fright when his mouth thinned to a frown and his eyes narrowed. There was nothing careful or playful when he yanked his hands free.
One of Prince Jerov's hands instantly flew to her throat as the other wound back and slapped her hard across the cheek. Adrenalin surged through Millay. There had to be some way to stop this! She couldn't just sit there. Even she could sense the difference in the smaller prince this time.
Millay struggled against the invisible restraints. The prince's hand flew backward and his knuckles collided with the helpless woman's jaw. Even without the bond, Millay felt an empathic pain on her own cheek, right were the bruise had already begun to form on her twin.
Prince Jerov could not even speak through his rage. He simply grunted and growled as his open palm crashed into Mandy yet again. She tried to bring her hands up, to protect herself, but each time her prince negligently swatted them away with a blow that left her entire arms numb.
Something indefinable clicked within Millay. Her arms instinctively flew outward in a symbolic breaking of the wards which held her. Even before she understood that she was free, her body leapt to the defense of her twin. She knew she could no more hinder his attempts than Mandy could, so she threw her body on top of the desperate woman. If Jerov wanted to continue he would have to assault them both.
Prince Jerov saw the woman. His mind reeled with incomprehension. It was impossible that Millay could be before him! His magic was infallible. The inconsistency only enraged him more. If she wanted to share her sister's fate, it was her own decision. They had both earned it if they were too weak to even continue to run to the scheduled meeting.
His arm flew forward. He was so intent on his prey that Jerov had forgotten entirely about his gigantic friend. More importantly, he had forgotten that the woman he had just condemned to a beating was the other man's true love.
An inch away from Millay's tear stained face, Prince Jerov's palm stopped. Pain lanced up his arm and consumed his hand. He tried to wheel on the newest source of interference, but another vice clamped around his neck.
Bones ground together as the last of Prince Beryl's patience and compassion fled. His fist clenched about the captive flesh. He had always been uncomfortable about the way his friend treated his lover's twin, but felt uncertain about his right to intervene. Now, there was no question. This was Millay. It didn't matter if he was hurt or killed for his defiance, he would spend his last breath gladly in her defense.
Prince Jerov cried out in pain and terror. His knees buckled as he collapsed to the ground, but the big man's grip refused to relent. Although he had always known his friend's strength and martial skill, he had never considered it a threat. After all, how could dumb, brute, force compare with the intricacy and skill of his magic.
Beryl growled as his fist closed fully. Bones cracked. "I have had enough. I will no longer stand by and watch the man I once thought I knew destroy himself and all those around him." With his peace said, he tossed the smaller man aside.
Rage blinded Prince Jerov. Adrenalin wiped away the pain and his hands flung forward to cast a spell of torment. Even as the words began to pour from his mouth, his eyes widened in horror. The dexterous fingers which had meticulously learned the motions for all of his spells refused to move. Without his hands he had no magic. Without his magic he was powerless!
Prince Beryl flinched at the beginnings of the spell. He had known and accepted this fate and steeled himself for retaliation. Even as the dark haired prince realized his predicament, Beryl understood as well. The entire time the two had been evenly matched, even if on different fields of expertise. No longer would he simply be the sidekick, but now an equal.
Two steps forward and Beryl towered above his one time friend. Perhaps the new revelation would allow him to once more save his friend, but for now he needed to impress the reversal on the stubborn and dangerous enemy. He brought his heel up, aimed directly at the sole healthy hand. Even clutched protectively to his chest, Beryl could damage it without risking Jerov's life.
The foot only moved scant inches before it was arrested. The blond princess had thrown herself on top of her lover. Though barely able to move, and so recently abused, she still risked her own life and limb to protect the man she loved.
Prince Beryl stepped back. "Look at that, Jerov. For all your magic, all your power, it was love that protected you. Once, you would have understood that treasure. Now, you seek only to abuse it.
"I do not understand how she can cherish you, but you had best mend your attitude. Even if her love does not wane, I am bound to protect my own love, and your injuries to her twin wounds her. Therefore, you will no longer be permitted such abuses.
"Further, it is not just me you need fear. These women," Beryl motioned to the twins, "know how frail you power is. At any time, they can now still your spells."
Prince Beryl's countenance softened. The threat had been delivered, now was the time for promise. "Do not fear, however, for we can all work together. I do not understand your magic, but it is clear these two have some potential. For now, we can rely on their magic, along with my strength, to protect ourselves. In time, when you heal, we will be capable of so much more. But only together."
Prince Jerov nodded meekly. Once more he had been cast down. Once more he had been shown that power could mean so many things. It would be hard, but he would struggle to abide by his large friend's pronouncements. Besides, it was possible that he could gain even more by being the trusted teacher to two such powerful women. And he certainly had much to gain as Mandy's lover.
"In deference to that, may I suggest the two of us carry them home tonight by horse?" It would take them almost no time to get back, even without the horses, but this way Jerov hoped he could build up some good will before he needed to explain about the spell. He could only hope none would forsake him for his past actions.
Copyright January 2008, by Deathlynx