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It's Just A Game Mods ([personal profile] itsjustthemads) wrote in [community profile] itsjustagamerp2012-07-12 10:13 pm

Experiment #22 - The Playboy Shiekh's Virgin Stable-Girl - Chapter 2

The Playboy Shiekh's Virgin Stable-Girl - Chapter 2
By Sharon Kendrick

Robin: *flies into the room, making a loop around the ceiling to check for anything lurking in the corners, then lands on the back of one of the chairs and digs his little bird feet in* Kind of thought the first time I’d see one of these I’d be a real person.
Namine: *pads in and jumps onto a chair nearby* Well, one time Riku had to do a riff while he was a pony for the week....It was this same book, too.
Robin: Does this book just have a fascination with animals? *looks at the title skeptically*
Hope: But none of us are exactly livestock.
Namine: Not this time.
Hope: Don’t jinx it.
Robin: Better get this over with quickly.

Kaliq found himself sucking in a deep breath as she obeyed him. He would never normally have told a woman to look at him and particularly not a woman such as this, but wasn’t there some inexplicable and insistent yearning to grant himself one more look at those incredible eyes?

Namine: I think he can answer that question better than us.
Robin: Sounds like the girl’s Queen Bee.
Namine: Who?
Robin: She rules Bialya at home as a dictatorship. She can control most men and some women with her psychic abilities, so when you talk about inexplicable and insistent yearnings...

Like a man who had been given a fleeting glimpse of paradise and wanted reassurance that he had not simply imagined it...

Robin: So, he’s taking drugs.

He expelled the breath from a throat that suddenly felt dry and scorched as the light from the lamp illuminated the glittering eyes.

Hope: I think they lost track of their metaphor there...
Namine: I thought for a minute she had lamps for eyes.

They were the most remarkable hue he had ever seen--pale green as the strange color that streaked the arctic skies and which were called the Northern Lights.

‘Explain to me your motives for pretending to be Gamal’s servant instead of his daughter,’ he said, and for a moment his voice was almost kind.

Namine: It offered her cookies and juice.

There was a pause. Their lives were so different--would he understand, even if she attempted to explain? ‘We do not keep many servants,’ admitted Eleni shame-facedly--for was not a family’s worth assessed by the volume of staff they employed?

Namine: Now I think they’ve got the point of view mixed up.
Robin: They’re switching back and forth - not well, either. And you know, it’s not the number of servants you keep, it’s how good those servants are. And even that doesn’t determine the quality of the family that employs them.

‘Oh? And why is that?’

Was he deliberately wishing to make her squirm?

Hope: How dare he ask for clarification!
Namine: Especially when she’s the one that was sneaking around.

Couldn’t he work out the reason for himself without her having to draw the words on the sand for him? What a cruel and arrogant man he was.

Robin: That wasn’t immediately obvious?

‘It is a question of finance, Highness,’ she said proudly.

Namine: Oh, I see. It was supposed to be a guessing game.
Robin: ...Why is she proudly declaring they’re bankrupt? This guy isn’t exactly striking me as the type to take pity on people with less money than him. More like he’d ride his horse over them.

‘Is it now?’ Kaliq wondered softly as he looked around him. Although in need of work and renovation, the stables were a good size, as was the living accommodation. He suspected that there had once been money enough for servants, but that Gamal had drunk and gambled most of it away.

Hope: He really liked gil cocktails. He was weird like that.
Namine: Gil?
Hope: Money...
Namine: Oh.

He moved a step closer towards her and Eleni was suddenly aware of the raw and potent aura of his masculinity and her heart began to thunder with fear, and with something else, too--something terrifying and unrecognizable.

Robin: *facepalms. As well as a bird can facepalm anyway* Oh god.
Namine: Do we want to count the number of times they switch point of view without warning?
Robin: Go ahead if you want to, I’m going to try and not vomit over here.

‘So what are you doing here?’ he questioned. ‘Why did I find you with your arms around my horse, and looking so guilty?’

Hope: .... I’m not touching that.
Namine: Me neither.
Robin: That’s not the laughing kind of bad phrasing, that’s the run away quick kind.

It almost broke Eleni’s heart to hear that drawled and possessive question. My horse, he had said--and he had spoke nothing but the truth. For Nabat was his horse--given up as a prize in a common game of poker!

Hope: [Snickers]
Robin: What’s so funny?
Hope: Nothing...

And soon he would be gone to a life of luxury in one of the royal stables and she would never see him again. Couldn’t he--even if he had a lump of stone for a heart--

Robin: Wrong person, you’re thinking of Margaret Thatcher.
Namine: Anyway, hearts can’t be made of stone, they’re made of memories.
Hope: ...Memories?
Robin: How can your superior vena cava be made of memories?
Namine: Not that heart.

guess how much she was hurting at the thought of having to say goodbye to the only thing in the world that she loved?

Robin: ...I think the horse needs an adult.

The words burst out of her mouth as if she had no control over them. ‘I could not bear the thought of being without my...your horse,’ she corrected painfully. ‘And so I concocted a plan to ensure that I wouldn’t need to be.’

Robin: The horse really needs an adult.
Namine: *looks around, sadly there are none*
Hope: Forget the horse, what about us?

At this, Kaliq’s lips curved into an indulgent smile. ‘Oh? And do you want to tell me what your plan is, little lizard?’

Namine: “Little lizard”? I don’t know if that’s better or worse than “little white witch.”
Robin: Worse. Witches are pretty asterous as long as they’re not trying to take a bite out of you magically.

She hated his sardonic tone, the mocking expression in those dark and glittering eyes, and she hated the way he looked her up and down, as if she were some invisible lump of rags.

Hope: Looking her up and down as if she was invisible? Words mean things, you know.
Namine: I don’t think that word means what the author thinks it does.

‘I was going to hide myself away--so that when you came to take him away, you would have to take me, as well,’ she told him, her brittle words daring him to taunt her, but to her surprise he did not--merely narrowed his eyes in thought as if she had said something entirely unexpected.

Robin: It’s entirely unexpected because it’s entirely stupid.

‘You do not think you would have been discovered? That one of the palace guards would not have found you and driven a sword through your heart, thinking that you might be about to make an assassination attempt on my life?’

Robin: ...Aaaaaand stable girl shish kebab. If even he can spot the flaws in your plan in two seconds, then it’s a bad idea. *guess who’s the strategist of the group*

She remembered him making her taste his juice in case it was poisoned and once again Eleni thought that, for all his wealth and power and status, his must be a very lonely and frightening position to be in sometimes.

Robin: ...*facewing. Just... facewing.* She does not know anything about this sort of thing and it’s obvious.
Namine: Would that be the girl or the author?
Robin: Both. We’ve got romance novel writing here. It’s only going to get worse.
Hope: It runs on romance logic and... not much else.

‘I was not thinking of myself,’ she answered.

Robin: Yes, you are.
Hope: Nah, it’s her horse, she only thinks about her horse.

‘No. I can see that.’ He raised his hand to rake his fingers through his thick black hair and once again the horse gave a nervous whinny.

‘He doesn’t like men,’ said Eleni helpfully.

‘He will soon learn to like them.’

Robin: ...All agreed on the ‘not touching that?’
Namine: I think so.
Hope: Agreed.

Eleni thought that he meant to use the whip, as her father had threatened to do so often. ‘And he doesn’t respond well to harsh treatment, either!’ she defended.

For a moment, Kaliq almost smiled. Standing there in her plain and dowdy clothes--barely higher than his chest--she nonetheless made him admire her courage.

Hope: That makes it sound like he is wearing her clothes. Use better sentence structure.

Few would have spoken to him with such candour and such passion unless it concerned wealth or ambition.

‘Horses are like women,’ he said softly. ‘And neither respond well to harsh treatment.’

And to Eleni’s horror she began to blush--from where her veil touched her scalp, all the way down to the tips of her toes. Not that blushing was a crime and nor was there anything in the protocol books which suggested that she might be discourteous, but to blush as a result of such a statement made it if she were imagining how she would respond to the shiekh as a woman! And wasn’t she? Wasn’t she?

Namine: I don’t know, is she?
Robin: He clearly intends her to in some capacity. *tilts his head a little and peers at it* Then again, that also reads like she’s thinking of him as a woman.

Now Kaliq did smile. ‘Do not worry, little lizard,’ he drawled. ‘You will be perfectly safe with me.’

The meaning behind his words was abundantly clear--even to someone of Eleni’s inexperience of the ways of men. Of course she--a humble girl from the country--would be safe from the attentions of the powerful and experienced shiekh.

Namine: Not always true.
Robin: As a matter of fact very often much more true than not.

She would not have expected anything else. yet stupidly and unexpectedly, it hurt--that he should be so openly dismissive of her. As if he would sooner cavort with one of the desert ravens than entertain the thought of being with a scruffy servant girl.

Robin: *so very unimpressed* Whoever wrote this needs a basic history lesson, even if it’s not nice. The guys in charge? Used servants like that all the time. They were powerful, they could get away with it. Money and social influence made it a lot easier to do whatever they thought they could get away with back then.
Namine: It still does, I think.
Robin: Unfortunately, yeah. We’re still not perfect, but it’s better than it was.

But Eleni forced herself to put such idle musings out of her mind. She suspected that he was mulling something over in his mind--something to do with Nabat, and perhaps with her, too. And something which she had thought had died many years ago began to flicker to life.


Robin: ...*sideeyes the fox*
Hope: ...*Frowns back*
Robin: ...Nah, too easy. *back to story*

Instinct told her to remain silent--as if her words might shatter possibility as she waited for the sheikh to speak.

‘You have nurtured the horse,’ observed Kaliq slowly.

Hope: It was her only friend.

‘Yes, Highness.’

‘He knows you and responds well to you.’

Robin: Maybe we need a tally for all these things that can be read so wrong.
Hope: Or we could save time and make a tally of the things that aren’t wrong.

‘Yes, Highness.’

‘And how do you think he’ll behave without you?’

She was tempted to embellish and paint a dramatic picture of how Nabat would play up without his mistress--but Eleni realized that she didn’t have to do anything except speak the truth.

Namine: Good idea.

‘He will hate it, Highness.’

‘He will go off his food, you mean? Pine?’

‘Yes, Highness.’

‘Like a lovesick fool?’ he scorned.

Robin: You’re intending this, aren’t you? There is no way you could drop this many hints and somehow miss them all.
Namine: It is a little too much for coincidence.

Briefly, her eyelids shuttered her eyes before she remembered his command and lifted her gaze to his face. ‘I wouldn’t know about that, Highness.’

‘You think perhaps that he will die without you, little lizard?’

Hope: Why lizard?
Namine: I’m not sure I want to know.

She wished he wouldn’t call her that--just as she wished that she could make herself sound completely indispensable. But that would be a lie and she guessed he would see right through it.

‘No, Highness,’ she said softly. ‘I do not, for the desire to live overpowers everything--indeed, it is the strongest force in all the world.’ She wondered why his hard face had suddenly tightened into a harsh mask

Robin: You’re Medusa.

and she rushed on, afraid that she had somehow angered him but still determined to state her case. ‘The horse will not die but he will be miserable without me, and a miserable horse does not win races.’

He nodded. ‘So what do you suggest as a solution to this particular problem?’

Namine: I think we all can guess what she’ll say?

It was strange how fear could give you courage. Or maybe not so strange at all when you considered that Nabat was her only friend in the world. ‘The only solution you have, Highness,’ she said boldly. ‘You take me with you.’

It would have been almost funny if it had not been so preposterous. ‘You? A tiny upstart of a girl? Why, your mother would never forgive me.’

Namine: But her father would?
Robin: From what we’ve heard about him I don’t think he’d care.

There was a pause. Her gaze flew to a zigzag of hay which lay on the stable floor and she stared at it with fierce concentration. ‘But I have no mother, Highness.’

Hope: ...*Well, this has taken a turn for the awkward*
Robin: *even more frowning. Bird-frowning. All his feathers puff up a little at his agitation.*

At this, Kaliq stilled--for was there not a more brutal and defining bond than the loss of a mother?

Robin: *flatly* Yes.
Hope: *Not. Amused.*

He had been just nine when his own mother had died giving birth to his brother Zafir, and that first and terrible loss had seemed to bring tragedy in its wake for Kaliq and his twin brother. His mouth hardened.

Robin: You get no sympathy cards.

‘What happened?’ he questioned softly.

Robin: I would say she was kidnapped by aliens, but the aliens I know would object. Strenuously.

Eleni shrugged her shoulders as if she was trying to shrug away the intrusive question. It was funny--you could tell yourself that you had come to terms with something which had happened years ago, but still that rogue little edge of abandonment could make your heart catch with pain.

Namine: Unlike the other edges, which tickle it.

‘My mother died,’ she said woodenly.

Kaliq’s eyes narrowed. ‘Died of what--a desert fever?’

‘I don’t believe so, Highness.’

‘Then what?’

Eleni hesitated. He was very persistent--but when had anyone last shown that kind of interest in her?

Robin: Two minutes ago, with the horse.

Come to think of it--when had anyone last bothered to mention her green-eyed mother who had found it so difficult to adapt to married life? Her father certainly never did--he had obliterated her from his memory, and, even if he hadn’t exactly banned the use of her name in the Gamal house, Eleni didn’t dare speak it for fear of his reaction.

‘My father was displeased with his dinner,’ Eleni began, vaguely recalling the noise and the drunken shouts and the mess of lentils splattered all over the floor. ‘He sent my mother to market to buy a chicken and on the way back she stumbled, and fell.’ Eleni swallowed. ‘They think she was bitten by a snake--but by the time they found her, she was dead and the vultures had long taken away the chicken.’

By the muscular shafts of his thighs,

Robin: And here it goes again.

Kaliq’s hands clenched into two tight fists. He had been accused by women of not having a shred of compassion in his hard body

Robin: Oh we never would have guessed that if you hadn’t told us. *eyeroll*

but for once he found himself touched by this urchin’s plight. ‘And how old were you?’ he demanded.

‘I was...ten.’

Ten? Almost the same age as he had been when his mother died in childbirth. Kaliq turned away from her troubled and trembling face, unwilling to acknowledge another fierce spear of recognition which burned through him--because some things were better buried away, deep in the dark recesses of memory. Royal and commoner--united by a strange bond.

Robin: You’re not the only ones that happened to, you know. *lineface of linefaces. Beakface.*

Each and every one of them had their burdens, her recognized bitterly--it was just that some were darker than others. With an efficiency born out of years of practice, he pushed his thoughts away.

Hope: That’s not at all healthy, trust me.
Robin: Nope, not at all.

Logic told him to dismiss this motherless little stable girl with a curse in her ear for her presumptuousness. As if she had any place in his stables!

Robin: She has a place. A hay bale.

And yet undoubtedly she spoke the truth about the horse. Would he not perform better if she were taken along, too? Would not it be infinitely more preferable to spare his stable staff the trouble of having to break in a highly strung horse who might still sulk and refuse to race properly?

He turned back--seeing that this time she had not dropped her gaze, but was meeting his with a steady question in her eyes. The little lizard grew brave for the love of her horse!

Robin: All right, now we’re getting blatant even on the molecular level.

‘Your father will miss you,’ he commented.

‘Yes, Highness.’

He observed her involuntary wince at an observation he suspected was untrue, but noted that she did not blacken the man’s name. So she was loyal, too.

Namine: If she were loyal, she wouldn’t be asking to leave, right?
Robin: She’s loyal to the horse, in all the wrong ways.

That was good. In fact, it was a quality he required above all others. He guessed that her drunken oaf of a father was unkind and worthless, but he also suspected that there would be no real role for the girl now that his most precious asset had been gambled away. And what would she do in the horse’s absence? Continue to care and to wait on him and his useless friends until her youth had fled and she was a wizened old crone?

‘You wish to come with me? As my stable girl?’

Hope: She wishes to stay with the horse... anyone with eyes can see that.
Robin: He’s got ears but it doesn’t sound like they’re working.
Namine: Maybe he’s trying to hear without listening.

Eleni stared at him, scarcely able to believe what he was saying. Her heart was beating so loud that it seemed to fill the stable.

Robin: Well in Who-ville they say the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.

‘Oh, yes, please, Highness,’ she whispered urgently, and dropped her gaze to the ground once more, ‘Please, yes!’

‘Then I want you to look at me at all times when I’m talking to you,’ he told her harshly.


‘If you’re going to be working for me, then you will be treated just the same as the stable boys. Sometimes if a horse is troubled then it is necessary to communicate silently--through eye-contact. And in any case, I don’t like having a conversation with the top of someone’s head--is that understood?’

‘Yes, Highness.’

Kaliq’s mind began to skate over the practicalities of such a step.

Namine: It decided to use the roller skates today.

Would such a decision to bring a woman back with him excite comment in the fevered courtrooms of the royal palaces?

Hope: Why? Have they never seen a woman before?

Very probably--but didn’t he thrive on his maverick reputation? He gave a brief, hard smile as he called out for his bodyguard, who slipped into the stable with the stealth and speed of dark light. ‘We are taking this girl with us,’ Kaliq said.

The man’s face remained impassive. ‘We are, Highness?’

‘She is to be my stable girl--with sole responsibility for the new stallion. Arrange a price with her father,’ ordered Kaliq. ‘Whatever you think she is worth. And then bring her to my royal palace.’

He swept from the stable in a shimmer of silken robes,

Robin: *smirks* He’s got a cloaking device.

without another glance or word in her direction, and once again Eleni bit her lip--this time to keep the useless shimmer of tears away from the hostile glance of his bodyguard.

Because, yes, in a way--the royal sheikh had come to her rescue. She would not need to be parted from her beloved Nabat after all, and she would be free of this dark and dingy world in which she had existed ever since her mother died.

But let it never be forgotten that Prince Kaliq Al’Farisi had just ordered his bodyguard to buy her--as if she were a sack of chickpeas on sale at Serapolis market!

Robin: He’s a stuck-up good-for-nothing useless royal how can you forget this!
Hope: I want to forget this.
Robin: *sighs* You know what the sad thing is? If this is anything like the books some girls I know like to read, this is the mild stuff.
Namine: Really? Girls like this sort of book?
Robin: Some do. Come on, let’s get out of here before it starts up again - or something worse does.
Namine: Oh, once the experiment is finished for the week, that’s it until the next one. *jumps down from her chair, starts padding up the theater aisle*

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