tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Prince Transformed Pt. 04

The Prince Transformed Pt. 04

byizenrann©

Sorry for the wait all! I've had to deal with some real life issues before returning to this.

Well well well...we're almost at the end of the ride. This has taken a lot more out of me than I had initially anticipated, and I think that I will need a break before I start my next series. But I do intend to end this, so your patience will be rewarded. :)

Once again, thanks to my wonderful editor moncrifelle. Check out her work too!


******

Perthias yawned and stretched, feeling the last remnants of sleep leave him. He could not recall the last time he had felt so rested and alive. He and Cythea had made love for hours until sleep had claimed them, and then he had fallen into a restful slumber.

Speaking of which, he quested around with eyes and hands for the form of his lover, but she was nowhere to be found. The only trace of her was the faint warmth that still permeated the bedclothes, and the lingering scent of her body and hair. He sighed in rueful regret, but he wasn't entirely surprised either. Cythea had a way of appearing and disappearing as she wanted to. He guessed that was one of the things that made her so enticing.

Finally, the day had come. They were to take back their country from the usurper. At least that was the plan. As a man of war, Perthias was well acquainted with how the best laid plans could often come to naught. But that was no reason to stop trying.

He swung himself out of bed, hearing the joints of the rough-hewn oak creak in protest. He smiled despite himself. He and Cythea had really given it a workout the previous night. But now it was on to less joyful, but no less pressing, things.

He walked out into the main hall where Tyzhe awaited him. This time he was sure it was Tyzhe—he had had enough interactions with the mysterious figures to know by now. It wasn't something he could really put his finger on; it was more of a sense, a feeling of sorts that told him he was right.

"Good morning, your Highness. I trust that today finds you well?"

"Well enough." Perthias grunted back.

Say what you will about the resistance, they were always polite.

"That is good. You will need all your strength about it when we storm the castle," replied the hooded figure.

"So, it's to be today then?" Perthias couldn't keep the excitement out of his voice.

He had suspected the date since the last war council they had, but Cythea had occupied his attention in the interim. But this was a direct confirmation of his suspicions.

"Yes."

Was it his imagination, or did he detect a similar tone in Tyzhe's voice? Tyzhe had (and Perthias was certain now that it was a he) always been the least composed of all the hooded ones. Perhaps he wanted revenge on the Crimson Mage as much as Perthias did. Maybe all the figures did. How was he to know?

"Let's get to work then." The prince turned suddenly brusque, cutting off further conversation.

Tyzhe seemed not to mind at all, gesturing immediately to a door that led to the barracks outside. Wars were won or lost depending on sufficient preparation, and Perthias was determined to be the victor. He gave Tyzhe a nod and strode out to inspect his troops.

They were a ragged bunch—slaves, slavers, and everything in between. Some wore armor (if tattered strips of leather and metal sewn together could charitably be called "armor") while most did not. They had a fair share of weapons at their command—maces, swords, and spears; the works. Perthias was gladdened to see that at least they had all the components of a fighting force. Archers for long-range combat, infantry for close, and cavalry for charging and flanking maneuvers. The latter were by far the best outfitted of the bunch. Real steel for armor, and lances polished to a shine. He supposed those were the mercenaries that they had been discussing during the council.

He had commanded far, far worse. There was the summer campaign to Therios, in which all he had to garrison a fortress were a ragtag bunch of angry peasants, and the invasion of Alemandy, where he had to repulse a horde of orcs with only a single battalion of soldiers at his command. If these were the men he had, he would make the best of it.

He had never been one for rousing speeches or long diatribes, so Perthias simply looked over the men once and gave a short speech.

"I do not know you well, and neither do you me, but nevertheless we stand united here in a common cause. Today, whether we live or die, the usurper falls. Are you with me?"

The roar that followed his question surprised Perthias with its volume and intensity.

Maybe less really was more.

Now for his own preparations. A short trip to the armory (the resistance seemed to have everything) furnished him with all the accoutrements of battle necessary for a siege. A suit of chainmail (plate was far too heavy, even with his increased muscle mass) and a sturdy dwarf-forged helmet (the best kind!) A kite shield adorned with the standard of a lion which was fitting, for what he needed now was courage.

And the piece de resistance—a massive great sword that in his previous body he would have trouble even lifting, but that he now swung around as easily as a rag doll. He found to his amazement he could even use the shield and sword in tandem, and that discovery brought a fierce grin of excited anticipation to his face. The defenders would never know what hit them.

The road to the castle was long, but to Perthias the day passed swiftly enough as he marched along, lost in thought. What had become of Erecia in their absence? Was Cythea all right, and where was she? What were his sister and mother doing? And more pressing, practical questions— could they really lay siege to the castle? Without catapults, how would they storm the walls? As they made camp that night, his thoughts dwelled on the battle to come, but his dreams were full of beautiful elfsluts.

The next day dawned bright and sunny, and for that the transformed prince was thankful. Few things were worse than having to fight on a sodden battlefield. Whatever the conditions of the coming battle to be were, it was good that at least they were spared this particular hardship.

As the castle came into view, Perthias reviewed the battle plans in his head. He would start off with a charge to weaken the enemy defenses, and then send in the foot soldiers while the archers provided support from behind. With the enemy hopefully on its back foot, he would then lead another charge to cut through the main force, with his cavalry wheeling behind to flank them. At least, that was the plan.

The only unknown factor was the magical shields. those He could do nothing about them. He had to trust that his sister and the resistance had those well in hand.

The enemy stood arrayed in front of him in Erecian colors. Knights, footmen and bandits all stood toe-to-toe with each other. The anger Perthias felt at seeing his home country's colors displayed before him warred with the trepidation that coursed through him upon seeing the arms and armor of his foes—in a lot better shape than his own forces. But they had come this far, and this was no time to turn tail and flee. With a mighty roar, he urged his horse into a gallop and sent his men forwards.

The cavalry surged forth, a wave of horses, men and steel that thundered across the field. It slammed into the wall of the enemy's defense, and the battle was joined. Perthias unsheathed sword and shield both and for a time had no thought other than slash and thrust, parry and block. It had been awhile since he had been in combat, but the skills that his instructors had drilled into him came to the fore immediately, augmented by his new body, and in seconds his armor was awash in blood—thankfully, none of his own.

The initial charge had rattled the enemy forces, but before they had time to regroup, a bellowed command from Perthias sent volley after volley of arrows into their midst. His soldiers came in on the heels of the support fire, and soon enough the enemy was pushed back to almost the castle gate. The prince could not believe how well his strategy was working. As he split skulls and shattered shields, he cast his eyes around the battlefield, looking for a blind spot in his defenses that he was sure Rampillion's forces would exploit. It would be folly to assume victory at this point, especially when . . .

There. A phalanx of spearmen burst from the underbrush, trapping the soldiers that had advanced forward in a pincer maneuver. Perthias cursed under his breath as he rushed to their side. Of course; entice your enemy to attack, and then ambush them. The simplest trick in the book, and he had fallen for it hook, line and sinker. The increased reach of the lances proved more than effectively against the swords of his men, and within minutes they had lost all the ground they had gained.

But the Crimson Mage's men had not reckoned at the fury of a dethroned prince. With a thunderous yell that put all his previous ones to shame, Perthias fell on the lancemen with all the might of his changed body behind him. The same spears that kept his men's swords at bay so well might as well have been matchsticks as the prince's greatsword smashed them apart. He channeled all his rage, the indignity he felt at his imprisonment, and yes—his ever-present horniness—into savage strikes that left his enemies breathless and running for their lives.

The day was not yet won. Panting and sweaty, Perthias surveyed the battlefield once more. He knew that his outburst had won them but a temporary reprieve, and more decisive action was needed to clinch any victory. Cavalry—his plan could still yet work! Another charge and the field was as good as theirs. But how to signal his men? He had no bugle or horn, and the nearest messenger was dead at his feet.

It was times like this that Perthias decided that the old ways worked best. He closed his eyes, sucked in his gut, took a deep breath, and when his lungs were full of air, let out his loudest cry yet.

"CAVALRY! CHARGE!"

When he was done, the prince stumbled backwards, chest heaving from the exertion of yelling after a pitched battle. He saw spots dance in front of his eyes, and his ears rang from the echo of his own voice, but he smiled grimly as he saw his cavalry wheel about to slam into the unprotected enemy flank. It was working. It was working! Exhilaration warred with exhaustion as Perthias stumbled towards his men. He was so, so tired. All he wanted to do was sit down and rest.

But not yet. He had a battle to win. The cavalry had turned the tide, but the victory was still not theirs. Fortunately for Perthias the charge had emboldened his men so much that they had taken the initiative and rushed the enemy all on their own, leaving him to bring up the rear. Which was just as well; the greatsword which he had swung so easily just hours before seemed like a leaden weight in his hand now, and it was all he could do to hold his own against the few stragglers left behind.

They were almost there. It was so close now. Perthias gritted his teeth against the rising tide of exhaustion and forced his weary body forwards. The castle gates were in sight now. The steel portcullis and heavy oaken planks that he knew so well. But a shimmering field of crimson light covered them as well. The magical shields, he guessed.

What was he to do about them? He was a warrior, not a mage. Magic had always been his sister's department. Dimly in the recesses of his tired mind, he recalled some talk at the council table about magical assistance of some kind. Well, if it was going to come, it had better come right about now! His forces were at the gates, but they would go no further unless help of some kind came.

The air grew still for a moment, and Perthias pricked up his ears. A distant rumble had begun to sound. A far-away tremor that grew and grew in intensity until not just the prince, but his men too, turned to see the source of the noise.

It was then that the air burst into flame.

Fireballs thundered over their heads into the shimmering gates, and not small ones either. These were huge crimson orbs of fiery destruction, roiling and seething with flickering flames. One-by- one they smashed into the shields protecting the castle, and even as Perthias had to shield his eyes from the backwash caused by their impact, he could see the barriers weaken with the passing of each fiery sphere.

Finally, shields flickered and then with an otherworldly sigh, disappeared. A cheer went up from the men, and Perthias added his own voice to it. The promised assistance had arrived, and not a moment too soon.

The field was theirs. But there was the not-inconsiderable matter of the castle left. More than half their men had died in the fray, and there was no telling what manner of traps and safeguards Rampillion had left to harry them with. But there was no room for fear here, or trepidation. The castle would not win itself, and he had not come all the way here to falter.

Perthias called to his men, rallying them forwards with an impassioned cry. Weary and tired though they were, they hearkened to his call, dragging their bodies forwards. He felt a strange sense of pride as he looked at them. A ragtag and motley bunch they might be, but they were his men, and for whatever reason, they had answered his call and thrown in their lot with him.

Onwards to the castle, then. As they stepped over the ruins of the walls that the fireballs had shattered, Perthias realized that he felt energized, imbued with vitality and vigor. He was no more the skirt-chasing prince of yesteryear, but a new man, literally and figuratively. And it was time to show his men what he was made of.

With the gates down, only a single wooden door barred his men from Castle Erecia. With a swift kick the transformed prince rendered it into so much kindling. With each step forward, he felt mightier and mightier. All traces of fear had vanished from him. What had he to be uncertain for, or about? After all, this was his home.

Sword at the ready, Perthias strode through the wide-open space of the courtyard and through the castle gardens. Nothing much had changed; he was perversely glad that Rampillion's degenerate tastes did not extend to interior redecoration. The only thing marring his ancestral home was the damnable red pennants that the usurper had somehow draped from every nook, cranny, and corner of the castle. When the castle was restored to him, those would be the first to go.

He was expecting foul monsters, conjured beasts, traps with venomed arrows or all of the above, but instead, there was nothing—nothing at all. He couldn't decide if this was all an elaborate ploy on Rampillion's part, or if they were just plain lucky.

As they entered the antechamber though, a stranger greeted them. He was a burly giant of a man, as tall and wide as the prince himself was. In his arms was a giant axe, a solid ton of menacing steel. From the way he stood—solid, unmoving yet seemingly ready to pounce at the slightest moment, something in Perthias's gut told him that this would be no ordinary opponent.

But he had a job to do. He strode forwards, motioning his men back. This was a foe that he would have to face on his own.

He had no sooner than brought his sword up when the giant was on him. With a savage roar, he leapt forwards, and it was only his years of training that saved the prince from an untimely demise. Sword met axe with a deafening clang and Perthias stumbled back, the ferocity of the attack almost causing him to lose his footing.

He recovered himself quickly enough to meet the next few blows that came, though, and soon battle was joined in earnest. Perthias's first impressions were proven correct—his opponent was not a foe to be taken lightly. The swiftness of his motions belied his immense size, and he had technique to back him his brute strength as well.

As seconds dragged into minutes, sweat began to bead on Perthias's brow. It was like facing a mirror of himself. They were matched in both speed and strength alike, with nothing to break the deadlock. They traded blow after blow after blow, but despite his best efforts, Perthias could gain no lasting advantage on his opponent. He was doubly glad that he had ordered his men back. The giant would have slaughtered them easily. As it was, it was taking his all to just remain standing and upright. How would he manage to break through his guard?

Until help appeared from an unexpected quarter.

"Briva . . . Briva, is that you?"

Engaged as he was in battle, Perthias did not dare turn his head to look, but he recognized the sound of the voice immediately. It was Daphnia. He supposed that he shouldn't be surprised at her appearance. This was her home as well. What was a shock was that for some reason his sister knew his opponent.

The feeling seemed to be mutual. The giant's eyes narrowed, then widened, and he leapt backwards with a startled grunt. For a moment, silence reigned in the great hall. The three of them eyed each other warily for a while, until Perthias broke the silence with a hurried whisper.

"Daphnia, who is this? How do you know him?" He needed answers, and fast.

"He is . . . he's . . ." His sister was not usually at a loss for words, but it appeared that this was one of the rare occasions that she was. "It would take too long to explain. He is like us. He has been transformed."

From the hesitancy in her tone, Perthias could tell that his sister was not telling him the entire story, but she was right—this was no time for long explanations.

So, another transformed slave stood before them. A prince like him, or a commoner?

Was there no end to the sorcerer's tricks? The information that Daphnia had provided had brought them no closer to a resolution. He knew who the person in front of him was. Or at least had more of a clue, but not how to defeat him.

Daphnia spoke at his side. "Let me try something. Look away."

He did as his sister bade. She had always been the smarter one, though he was sometimes loathe to admit it. He had no notion of what she had planned, but this was not a time to ask questions.

Daphnia stared at her former lover. He looked the same as the day she had left the castle—six feet six inches of brawny, sculpted muscle. Even as the urgency of the situation spurred her onward, she couldn't help but feel desire stirring within her again (stupid elfslut body!) as she looked at him. She had had many other lovers since then, but as they say, you never forget your first. Rarely a day passed that she did not recall his gentle hands on her body, or the powerful strokes with which he took her on bed, floor and wall.

She could see that Briva was not himself. Instead of his normal stoic and calm demeanor, he was hunched over, breathing heavily. His eyes darted from side to side. Not the level gaze she remembered, but the frightened look of hunted prey. She shifted her sight to the astral for a second and it confirmed her suspicions—he had a spell cast on him. Exactly what she couldn't tell, but it seemed reasonable to assume it was one that controlled his mind and not just his body.

Not for the first time Daphnia cursed her inability to use magic. If she were her normal self, she would have been able to dispel the sorcery afflicting Briva, but there was no use thinking about that. And though magicless she might be, she was not without other weapons.

She would simply have to fight fire with fire. If the Crimson Mage had seen fit to give her the body of an elfslut, she might as well use it.

She sashayed forwards, swiveling her hips in a motion that she had learned drove men insane, and was gratified to see his eyes instantly turn to look at her. She pouted, winked, and thrust out her breasts, tweaking her nipples ever so slightly. They had begun to erect and harden, and she hoped that he noticed. Briva's eyes dilated and some of the frenzy left them, replaced instead by an emotion that she was far more familiar with—lust. It seemed her plan was working.

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