They believed they could break her, but she was far more than they could ever have imagined. Even in all their immortal wisdom and beauty, they could not have imagined her.
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She was small for her kind, not tall, nor slight of bone or figure as they, her fulsome curves new, and wondrous to their eyes. Her long dark red hair hung long down her back, its vibrant colour reflecting the sunlight like halloed fire. They watched her curiously, for she had not given way to storms of terror and tears, as had others of her kind, come to this place. Her blue eyes were darkened, and hard, though she was calm despite being imprisoned in the cell for a number of days, no contact and even less idea what had happened, or what purpose she served.
Jael looked up from where she sat upon the grassy floor of her cell. Hesitantly a strange being approached her, entering the cell through an opening previously unnoticed or perhaps, not existing in the first place. Jael felt that nothing would surprise her at this point.
She studied the one who approached her. He was far taller than she, well over six feet, blond hair, spun like fine gold reached his hips, parted slightly giving way to ears tapering upwards to a point. The most startling aspect of his appearance were his eyes. Blue, they were darkened and mysterious, like her own eyes. As she looked up into his, she saw herself reflected a hundred fold.
Surprise flickered momentarily over his face. She had looked up into his eyes. It was something he hadn’t expected her to do, as most of her kind couldn’t, being lost in their mortality and perception of reality. Despite their wondrous tales, their mythology and folklore, all held to have some bare minimum of truth, humans had lost all knowledge of the existence of the fey creatures and their cousins. This human, even though she was far different than others of her kind, had no reason to believe or comprehend she was the unwilling guest of the Prince of the Elves.
He wrinkled his nose in distaste, thinking of the Prince, frivolous and pompous, he had no respect for the old traditions and wisdom of the Elders, and too much passion for acting in the heat of the moment. It was whispered that he was part human underneath an Elven appearance, though it was a scandel that had only rumours to back it up.
“You are fair to look upon no doubt, but I am not fooled, and if you approach me another step, you will regret it.” She spoke and he raised an eyebrow in query. “I have only questions, girl. You will answer, willingly or no, but I’d not like to have to force you.” Again her blue eyed stare pierced his.
“Brave words from one so pretty.” She continued staring intently, her gaze defiant.
“I could say the same, but for the pretty comment, I’ve never found humans to be pretty. Ugly in an interesting way perhaps. You hold the same fascination to me, that I might have for a new born kitten stumbling about blindly. Do not test me, girl. I would be gentle on you, do not force me to be otherwise.” This time she could not hold his gaze, lowering her eyes and sighing deeply.
Jael looked at her feet, wondering not for the first time, how she’d arrived here, and what information she was supposed to provide. She had no doubt of what the tall pretty male implied. When he had looked down on her, she had felt the intensity of his mind, and knew the subtle threat to be true. “What would you know?” She asked softly, making her choice. Momentarily she had entertained the thought of making good on her previous words. Despite knowing her own skill in fighting and defense, she knew she would not be able to best this one before her. The thought rankled.
“Do you understand, that from this point, until such decision is made, you are our ‘guest’?” His voice was soft, but held authority in its gentle tone. Jael smirked.
“You imply that I have a choice. I understand however, I am here by your will, until such time as your kind sees fit to return me home. Is that about right?” She asked, looking up at him again. He smiled in spite of himself, entertained and heartened by her spirit. “You understand well…” He paused for a moment, thinking before proceeding. “You would do well to keep your spirit close about you. It will be as armor on a battlefield, in our Court.” Jael looked puzzled.
“What do you mean? Spirit?”
“Your defiance and determination. They will serve you well in the coming days ahead. Perhaps it is not for me to tell you, but you are here for our King’s entertainment. He considers your kind amusing, and empowering.” Again his face wrinkled slightly in distaste. “He would break your spirit and have you serve our kind without will, or care for yourself or your former life. Perhaps you will show that not all your kind are kin to porcelain. There are many of our kind who follow this ‘sport’. Although I am not one, I do as I am commanded; the King’s word is law. You will be led to more suitable quarters. If you have any immediate needs, there will be one there who will see to them. Do not try and leave your room, it would be unpleasant for you if you did. Do you understand?” Jael nodded. “Good. Please follow me.”
Jael sat alone in her small suite of rooms, looking around curiously. They were light and airy, beautiful but with the air of impersonality. Filtered sunlight fell gently into the room casting strange shaded patterns covering the deep moss carpeting. Intricate lace curtains of the palest green shifted slightly with the cool summer-warm breeze, matching the walls coloured the same barely-there green, but covered in designs of the forest painted a fine gold, shimmering slightly in the muted sun.
In the center of the room, a four poster bed curved up from the floor to the ceiling, far from being fashioned from wood, the bed itself was a living tree, with mattress and blankets in the center of its sweeping columns. Pale green silken lengths were woven loosely around and through the columns creating a soft look of privacy and beauty in one.
A sigh escaped Jael’s lips as she looked around, eyes wide breathtaken by the ethereal foreign beauty around her, suddently realising that all in the room was a living part of the very same tree. Faintly within her mind she thought she heard traces of quiet amusement, but hearing no voice, she shook her head, and thought no more of it.
Almost afraid to disturb the quiet peace of the room, Jael wandered slowly and carefully around the room. Hesitantly, she reached out to touch the living columns of the tree bed, running her fingertips of the shimmered walls, wrapping a length of silk around her hand, and feeling it whisper against her skin. She was so involved in her exploration that she didn’t notice that the tall Elf had returned.
He watched her as she attempted to take in the fey Elven beauty surrounding her. Her smile of comfort and fascination made him smile briefly, he’d not met a human that felt so at ease within a room, that essentially lived and breathed on its own, Elven magic making only slight adjustments and encouraging the original potential. “Girl.” The single word echoed throughout the room, and Jael whirled to face the tall Elf glaring, her reverie broken. Through gritted teeth, eyes closed, taking deliberate breaths, she replied, “Jael!” The Elf stood impassive. She spoke again. “My name is Jael. I will thank you to use it, for I will not answer to ‘girl’.” Her furious gaze met his amused one as he bowed gallantly “My Lady, Jael.” He replied mirth colouring the tone of his voice richly.
Glaring still, Jael turned and walked to the far window in the room, seeing that it was infact a door, she opened it, walking out onto a terrace, again fashioned from the living branches of a great tree. Tears threatening, from exhaustion, anger and fear, Jael fought to keep herself calm in the face that all around her was unknown.
Her first response feeling a hand lightly grip her shoulder was immediate and the result of much defense training on her part. Immortality aside, the Elf found himself flat on his back, with Jael holding his hand in a most unpleasant position, one foot squarely in the center of his chest. Looking down at him, and realising at once what she had done and backing away fearfully.
As soon as Jael released her grip on him, the Elf was on his feet, his smooth and beautiful Elven features appearing feral as he snarled at Jael, who backed further against the terrace railing. Where once there were was blue, his eyes were coloured grey, and hard as flint. Bared teeth had cast off their gentle appearance, proving to be shaper and more pronounced, as had his nails shedding their manicured appearance, now resembling feline claws.
"I... I'm sorry, Sir... I.. uhh, I didn't mean to.." Jael gestured, trying to steady her voice. "It is an automatic reaction for a sudden unfamiliar touch...you frightened me, and I am already on edge". All at once his features resumed their gentle cast, nodding once, he returned to a more relaxed position. "The King wishes to see you after the evening meal. You will be given suitable attire in which to be presented, see that you are ready." By some unspoken command, the main door opened and a young girl walked in. She seemed almost Elven but with a different cast to her features. "Ni`s will help you prepare, I will return for you in two hours time. Be ready." Nodding once to Jael, and to Ni`s the tall elf turned and left the room.
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