Adventuring through twisted time.
Clarice’s eyes hung on the Sapphires burning body, while she mourned the lost of her friend, the woman that raised her and saved her from Prospero. Yet the thing that plagued her mind the most was how her life could be ended just as quickly. How she was without her power so easily in that moment- watching the women's burning body- she swore to herself that she would never experience this kind of weakness ever again in her life. That she would find a way to become the most powerful being known to this realm. Her first step would be to insure she could gain immortality. Something she knew Prospero had yet to perfect in his massive amount of spell learning.
Being held captive by the mad Sorcerer had its upside, he didn’t take in account that she would remember a lot of what she read from his books. She remembered there was a section about Fae and how they seemed ageless yet Prospero himself could never get close enough to learn how they were so. Not wanting to be around her coven any longer than was necessary out of safety for them she packed up what would fit on the back of her horse, leaving a letter not starting anything more than she could no longer be part of the coven. It was better this way, for her to be alone. No one else was going to get hurt in her war against the mad Sorcerer.
So her Journey to Thistlemoon Forest began, she found herself at a crossroads not long after her journey began. She feared using magic would call upon Prospero when she wasn’t strong enough to take him. So she looked to the stars trying to recall what the book said about Thistlemoon. “The king keeps his domain hidden from the human world, under the watchful gaze of the mother tree.” she stared long at the stairs until she realized the answer was right in front of her. The stars off in the distance looked like a giant tree. With a soft click of her tongue she was off once more.
She couldn’t recall how many days had passed when she found herself there, sliding off her horse. She touched the the animals neck softly as she moved closer to the opening sure guards would be there the closer she got. She felt the veins wrap around her feet and arms, she didn’t fight the hold as she looked to the Fae who came into her view. The beauty was rather breathtaking if one would allow themselves to focus on just that. Before giving the guard a moment to speak she spoke.
“Please bring me to King Raventhorn.” she recalled the name from the passage she had read. “I would like to seek his advice and council. If he deems me unfit to help I will leave as peacefully as I came.” She spoke as she raised her hand the sleeves to her tattered gown sliding down to reveal the x mark buried deep in her wrist that were still healing. “My name is Clarice De Biville, I was held captive by a sorcerer named Prospero. A man I know your king refused to let pass into Thistlemoon.”
She kept her stance strong, trying not to show how weak she felt. She was never one to need to ask for help so this was a new concept for her. “I…” she suddenly was unsure of what to say, the Fae in front of her looked so unamused with her. She took a deep breath to calm the swell of anxiety that swirled in her. “I just have questions if your King would even be willing to meet me outside of your home.” She paused, grazing her teeth along her bottom lip in what she hoped would be a soothing manner, hoping to get some kind of response.
The stoic gaze gave her little hope she had no chance to burn, she wondered if her journey for eternal life would be her end. Yet she felt the death dealt by the Fae would come at a far greater kindness then what Prospero put her through. She would understand it, they would strike her because they thought she was a threat. Prospero made her fall in love with him and then turned on her when she trusted him, his actions cut her deep to the point she was sure she could no longer feel those kinds of emotions ever again. Not that she wanted to feel any emotion at that point.
"Or you'll both die and make me even happier," he replied deviously, letting a slow smile spread through his features as he put the goblet to his lips and drank the wine. The king held her gaze with that idea behind his eyes for a few moments before placing the drink down. Kyan's slender finger moved over the brim in circles as was habit when his mind was working darkly. His hues remained a piercing blue as he continued staring at her with a serpentine grin. "Of course it would be such a waste to have someone who claims to be so powerful gone from the world. Especially one that might be of some use to me later down the paths of time. Let's hope you prove useful, little raven. It may just buy you some freedom to fly again."
Kyan folded his fingers together into his lap as he crossed one leg over the other with an amused face. "Of course I will be coming with you. You don't get to leave my sight in fact. If we are going through to this portal and into a new realm or... library, it could be a trap for me. I'll have to ensure that isn't the case no matter how convincing you think you are." The king made a displeased face as his eyes wandered over her for a fleeting moment. "Your head is all fuzzy. It's hard to read your immediate future. Most likely due to the fact Prospero had you magically bound to him for so long. Controlling you. Manipulating your thoughts. I can't... see you. At least not yet. It's incredibly annoying. You're vexing to me." His words turned to pointed irritation at the end as he reached for the wine and drank more of it to relax himself. After a few brief moments of quiet, his eyes moved back to her in a mischievous grin. "It's a good thing you're nice to look at. Come along."
The king took the pitcher in one hand and his goblet in the other as he led the way through his home. He imagined it was unlike anything she'd ever seen as most of this place was unlike anything out in the whole of the world. He drank the rest of the contents in one long gulping and poured a new glass as they walked. "This is the Mapleshade Tree. It was given to us as the whole Forest was, through Gaia. The seed planted into the earth that forms the Mapleshade gives us fae a source of power beyond the sun and moon. As king, it's a source I can tap into from anywhere in the forest, granting my usual fae powers even more strength." The members of court, council members, and even the staff couldn't help but gaze up at the two from their bowed positions as they passed by, no doubt wondering who the stranger was that walked with Kyan. "This is where it will be easiest to draw the most power."
They walked down the many winding, wooden staircases until they reached the base of the tree. Instead of heading towards the spring, the king turned in the opposite direction where two guards stood at large double doors. Kyan opened the doors which led into the very heart of the tree. The vines and branches came from below them and seemed to be thrumming with life as it fed into the other parts of the tree with a bright green glow. It was beating with life. "This spot will be where we find your library and get it to still, but first," he paused downing the wine he'd poured before placing the cup and pitcher down on the mossy ground. "Your arm." The king motioned for her to extend it and he grasped her forearm with his opposite one as if in greeting. The sound of crackling branches overtook that of the lifeforce of the tree as thin roots began wrap around their ankles and up their legs, across their torsos, and down their arms. They slithered together and locked around their linked arms before one of the vines cut into Clarice's skin, just below the X placed by her former master.
"The tree protects me and I it," Kyan explained, watching the magic work. "I learned this long ago. This is a binding type of magic from the tree itself which I'm sure you understand quite well." The wide and sickly grin was back on his face again as he spoke to taunt her slightly of her passed predicament. "If you should try to cause me harm it will cause the same kind of damage back to you. I feel like this will at least show a little bit of faith between us. Well, for me at least." The king's smile widened further as the vine then penetrated his skin as well to complete the spell. When it was done, the vines fell away in the way that they'd come and moved back into the tree. "Don't worry though. I won't force myself on you." He closed the distance between them with a single, purposeful step then, and put a finger under her chin moving within inches of her face. "Unless you want me to."
Kyan stepped away with a chuckle to himself as he placed a hand on the breathing tree, feeling its power surge. The fae circled the large trunk within a trunk, his hand trailing along the intertwined pieces of thick branching. "Whenever you feel strong enough, little raven. Then we'll see about this hidden library."
She grimaced at his words but if she was honest a quicker death by his hand would have been much prefered over the life she had been living under Prospero's thumb. She gave a gentle roll of her eyes unable to stop it. “Much more useful than others that had dared enter your kingdom.” She was trying her best to behave and yet she was finding his personality rather taxing in that moment. “I just want the world to have its freedom.” She said softer as her gaze clung to things around them. Her eyes only moved back to him when he spoke of her trying to trap him. “You impress me with the fact you are not as stupid as Prospero believes you to be.” She said in an impressed tone. Fact of the matter was, Prospero could be using her as a pawn, even though it never crossed her mind. A swirl of panic in her chest. Which caused her fingers to tighten on top of the arms of the wood chair she was sitting in.
“Can’t… see… me?” She questioned out quietly as she tried to understand what he meant. Did that mean part of her was missing? Was there something she couldn’t remember fully? Was he still in her head? She missed the grin and his words until she noticed him standing. She stood and followed quietly for once. She took in things around them as they walked even lost in her mental fog. Not noticing the people they passed as she took in his home. Really not taking in his words as she felt as if he was talking underwater. As they reached the heart of the tree she stared up at it letting out a breathless gasp as she took it in for a moment. The power slapping her in the face, no wonder Prospero wanted this place for his own. The power caused her to focus on what he was talking about. “The power is-” she couldn’t bring herself to find the right words.
“My arm?” She questioned as she slowly brought it up for him. Confusion crossed her brow until the roots began to wrap around them. Her eyes light ablaze as she looked at him. When the vines cut into her. “Ow, what the hell.” She didn’t let her gaze leave him. “You bastard.” She said as he bound her to him. Her heart sank, her stomach turning making her want to toss the contents she just gained free. She wanted to let the tears that lined her waterline fall over but she wouldn’t dare give him the satisfaction of knowing he now had truly affected her. Death fine. But this? As he spoke of not forcing himself on her, unless she wanted it. She glared at him. “Even a bastard like yourself should know that you are crossing a line that shouldn’t be crossed.”
She didn’t move from that spot. Her hand moved to rest on the mark that was now formed. “Yes dear king sir. Will you just take me back to wherever I am to stay now.” Her tone became muted as she stared at the mark then the X on her wrist. She took a step back to the doorway to keep her back to him feeling a tear spill over, she wasn’t sure if it was from anger, or fear now. Gaining freedom only to have it ripped away by another. Her mind wishing to throw her into a dark place. To make her weak. Yet she resided herself to the fact this was to bring an end about. Whether it be Prospero’s or herself, that remained unclear.
The amused fire that was lit behind his eyes at her reaction to the binding sparked into intolerance as he stepped in front of her. His fingers took hold of her chin as he raised it to meet his gaze. "Watch how you speak to me. I'm king of this realm and it would behoove you to think on your place. You are nothing but a prisoner to me, so don't start getting it in your head that we are equals. This is merely your trial. A performance you better prove well on because I can and will have you executed and by my own hand, no less." Kyan released her, but stayed completely in her personal space. The emotion was clear on her face and he was glad of it. "I survived Prospero's attempts at my kingdom once before and I can do it again if he would be so stupid as to try. I don't need you. Do try and remember that." The doors opened behind him and he turned to see Gwainar standing there with a hardened look on his face. It seemed the centaur was still on board with having Clarice treated as all other prisoners were, but more likely killed on the spot.
Passing through the twisted branches of the tree that acted as pathways, Kyan noted some of the members of the council who stood and watched them. He couldn't help but roll his optics and give an audible sigh because he knew what was to come. It seemed the whole Tree was interested now. How annoying it was to be a monarch when your council feels the need to... council. Sometimes he wished he could tell them to keep their opinions to themselves and he'd ask for their advice when he wanted it. Technically he could, but then his parents would never let him hear the end of it. Still, Kyan wondered what they could be thinking about the prisoner walking with him now and if they believed she was truly what she claimed to be. Of course they had all been around when Prospero attacked the first time. Not on the battlefield like he, defending to the death for the fae if necessary, but safe in the Mapleshade and far away from immediate danger. He considered it cowardice, but they were the safeguard to the kingdom should the king fall in the fray. As if he would die...
When they reached her room once more, the guards that were meant to never leave her side took their places on either spot of the door. Kyan looked up to Gwainar for a moment, as his head was at least another few inches above his own. He still was staring at Clarice with an intense glare of hatred which Kyan found incredibly delightful. Sometimes he wondered how that look didn't explode beings right where they stood. It certainly caused them to quiver, stutter, and do other embarassing and involuntary bodily reactions which he found pleasing.
One of the double doors was opened for her as Kyan leaned on the closed one nonchalantly, smiling to her in his smug confidence. Before she could pass through, he snatched Clarice's wrist in his hand to stop her. Kyan turned her hand over and let his fingertips brush lightly along the X on her skin and to the new mark he'd just given her. "This is only for my protection should you think to cause me any harm. I would be a fool to let you freely be beside me without some form of safeguard." Kyan dropped her hand and motioned upwards and behind him to the giant centaur over his shoulder. "See, he doesn't really like this whole idea of me keeping you so near and alive. He believes you'll betray me, possibly even be the reason Prospero tries to reenter Thistle." Kyan could practically feel Gwainar ready to rear on his hind legs and trample the mystic. "Despite not being able to read you," he continued, his head tilting slightly as his eyes brightened for a moment with attempts at seeing her future. "I think you are telling the truth." Kyan straightened up then before turning to walk away to quell the council's concerns in the upcoming meeting, speaking over his shoulder. "You might want to show a little gratitude."
As the king's fingers took hold of her chin forcing her to look into his electrifyingly blue gaze. Taking in his words, yet still angered and filled with fear of being bound to this man who could so easily hurt her to his whim. She took in a sharp breath before a fake smile took hold of her face as he released it. “Forgive me, your majesty. I will learn my place.” The fake caramel sugary sweetness ringing towards him. Letting him have the moment of submission as he stayed in her personal space, not that she had any anymore after he chose to bind herself to him. She wasn’t sure if it was the bond or her over-thinking but she felt like she could feel every wave of emotion through the man in front of her. “I do hope I prove myself useful, unless you dear king seem it necessary to have my head instead. My life is yours.” She said in that sickly sweet tone appeasing to his ego. “You need no one, King Kyan. I know this very well. It is why I sought you out.” That part held the most honest truth to it. As her gazed moved to Gwainar who was ready to take her life at any moment.
As they started back on the pathway she could only infer back to the room she was to be locked away in till Kyan chose to come see her next. Her gaze didn't move to the others who clearly were staring at her. She knew she was either being judged by them or they were curious on why she was here in the first place. The amount of visitors to Thistlemoon probably could be counted on one hand if that at all. She honestly wasn’t overly sure if any had made it this far into Thistlemoon before. She wouldn’t be overly surprised if random visitors showed up to the room she was staying in, or even if one showed up to try and take her life. Swallowing slightly as she followed behind Kyan quietly. Before she knew it, they were in the room he so kindly offered to her. Not looking towards Gwainar but rather watching Kyan face cover in pleasure at the fact his man hated her so.
As the door opened she took a few steps to enter the room before Kyan stopped her. His fingers brushing the scar on her wrist caused the involuntary shiver down her spine but she didn’t pull away. Then as his finger moved to the new fresh mark her gaze pulled back towards him. “While I wish to have your trust easily I understand someone as great and lone wolf as yourself can truly not trust freely. It would be your head I am sure. I am pretty sure that was a lesson learned over time. My dear King Kyan.” She moved her hand to take hold of his hand when he let her wrist go. “I am sorry others have cost you your trust.” The sickly sweet tone sticking around before her gaze moved to the Centaur behind them. “I am sorry you hate me as well. I know you will stump out my life if I do anything you deem dangerous.” Her tone changed though as she stiffened and dropped her hands from Kyans.
“I swear to you both though, I hope I am not a pawn to Prospero, but if I am. Then I rather death.” With that she turned back towards the lovely Fae room that held so much comfort. Comfort she wasn’t use too before looking back to Kyan that seemed to see that she was telling the truth. She knew she was, but that doubt had been planted that she was still just a pawn. One that was causing her mind to swirl with panic that she pushed down to focus back on the king. “Forgive me for being an ungracious guest, Your Majesty.” She walked into the room at that moment unaware he was off to see the council. Closing the door she moved to the bed, sitting on the edge before tracing her finger along the new mark on her pale flesh. Her mind was swirling between anger and understanding, laying back on the bed lost in thought. Eventually sleep took hold due to the comfort that was smothering her, the warm safe feeling was so foreign to her that she didn’t even know sleep could take hold of her so easily.
Their voices were just a dull buzzing in his head. After having told them the basics of why Clarice was here in the Tree and not in the mines or dead on arrival, the panic began. He'd long blocked them out and all their worries and questions that were speculations as to what was to come. Most of them believed Clarice was just an instrument of Prospero by planting her into Thistlemoon in some chance at taking over again. Others argued that even if she was telling the truth or most of it, she was still bait and their enemy would come for her along with a chance at destroying the wood. They were arguing and talking over one another while he remained silent and staring out into the kingdom as if a statue. The wind blew gently through the terrace in which they all sat at a large table. A single leaf escaped from one of the many branches that grew as a canopy above them and danced its way along slowly. His eyes stayed on it during its slow descent, spinning and lifting, until finally landing on the table. The moment it stopped seemed to bring him back around to the present as the noise of their bickering filled his ears.
"Shut up." The words weren't loud in any way to cut through the shouting, but each one of them held their tongues and turned to look at Kyan. "You're all insufferable and hurting my head." His head swiveled around to look at them all before focusing back out into the kingdom. It was a bright day and the afternoon sun was strong and comforting. It made him feel invincible as the stone in his necklace absorbed the rays and thus gave him more strength. "Not that I need to explain any further, but to ease all your troubles and whispering behind my back, I've marked her to ensure any magic done to me will cause consequence to her. The Mapleshade will protect me. She has been weakened from the state she was kept in as well. Prospero will not find his way here again and if he does, he'll burn for it." His eyes swam with hatred then for a few silent moments before he took a deep breath in. "Well, glad we got that out of the way." Standing, the king made his way from the terrace without another word.
Sweeping through the Tree, he made his way back through the corridors until he was standing at the guarded door of his prisoner. He opened the doors and stepped inside expecting to find Clarice doing whatever it was one did when they were locked in a room with not much but their thoughts. Instead, he saw she had fallen asleep in the large bed. Fae were silent creatures when they moved, so she did not stir at his approach which was no surprise. Kyan's eyes glanced along her body and then to the markings on her skin from her imprisonment as well as the protection spell he'd just added an hour or so ago. He wondered how long it would take for her to regain some of that innate power that ran through her being. For the story she told, he knew she must be something special if Prospero needed her so. It was then an idea came to mind.
Kyan sat on the plush bed and focused in on her thoughts. Normally his natural gift would be useful to him when the person he was reading was awake, but the magical torture and manipulation she'd been through had made reading her rather impossible. He wondered if the same would happen if she were not conscious. He pushed further along the different parts of her mind that were dormant since she was asleep and appeared to be dreaming. Flashes of images went across his vision, but it wasn't just the future. It all seemed to be in no sense of order in time which he had to assume was due to the magic that Prospero had done to her which also was effecting his own abilities. He saw her in chains one moment as Prospero struck her. Then another moment when she was a child being passed off to a coven of sorceri. The next he was thrown into a memory of someone close to her dying rather ugly and then her stumbling along in his wood. A sharp pain ripped through his mind and he could see Clarice grimace in her sleep, but the king continued on. A large room of books and other weapons and trinkets came forward then which he had to assume was the one she spoke of and then a dormant fae gate that seemed to illuminate to life after years of decay. Another vision of Clarice practicing her skills with the women of her coven as a young woman becoming stronger than ever anticipated and then unexpectedly, a new flash of her and himself in a rather passionate scenario in a room he did not know. There was a dagger in her hand which drew blood along her opposite palm and the Mapleshade tattoos of his back and arms glowing as whatever magical ritual this was seemed to pass. "Hmm," he smirked and pulled away from her mind, watching as that seemed to ease her back into a more peaceful rest. "Interesting."
Some more time later and he was sitting in a chair near the open balcony doors of her room that faced the forest. Kyan saw her stir from the corner of his eye, but did not turn at first. "I imagine comforting sleep is something foreign to you." He raised the goblet of wine he'd been given some time ago and sipped its contents, switching the leg he had crossed over the other. His dark blue eyes bore into hers then, but it was still a lot of noise that came back to him as he tried to see her future. A sigh passed through his lips before muttering quietly to himself. "Annoying as ever, little raven."
Kyan imagined she would find it unnerving that he was sitting there in her room, but frankly, he wanted to be left alone by the others of the Mapleshade. Everyone seemed so terrified of her presence. She was the bad omen of another invasion by Prospero that could destroy what was left of their kind. The king would never let it happen, but it didn't ease the fear by those that were around to live through that grim night. Kyan wanted to peel the flesh from Prospero's bones and the sooner Clarice was strong enough to locate the library, the sooner he would get to see this fantasy fulfilled. "So, how are we feeling? Wine? Food? A lover?"