Kingdom of Stars (The Young Ancients: Timon Book Three)

The Young Ancients:
Timon Book Three

 

Kingdom

of

Stars

 

P.S. Power

 

 

Orange Cat Publishing

Chapter one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Look
out."

The half
bored sounding words didn't really capture the pain that followed in its wake,
both delivered by the tall dark skinned woman that held the wooden practice
sword. At least Timon didn't think so.

The
blond wood struck him on the shoulder, the giantess in front of him pulling her
strike, it seemed, so that it didn't break anything. Instead it just drove him
to his knees in the dusty courtyard.
Weapons square
, Tim recalled,
trying to stand back up, only to have Petra Ward, his friend, and at the moment
Instructor
, hit him again.

"No,
roll
out of the way. That, or stand up faster than that. It isn't enough
to just get back up expecting your adversary to be kind and gentle, you have to
protect
yourself. At all times." As if to illustrate the point for
the rest of the new students watching her, she did it again, beating him about
the upper arms. Several times.

It was
less than comfortable.

Oh,
Timon understood what she was doing, and it wasn't exactly a surprise really.
She'd flat out told him to expect beatings on a quasi regular basis for the
first few months. Even ones worse than this, with actual blood spurting and
broken bones. He'd just thought that she'd wait a bit, until say, the second
lesson? This was the first day, nearly the very first thing she was doing, and
the other kids all looked suddenly horrified for some reason.

Probably
because the large and very skilled woman was beating up the small and rather good
looking new boy that seemed to be about ten to most of them. He was
twelve
,
but he got that some of them wouldn't understand that yet. He was still the
youngest person there by nearly two years, and short by their standards. Most
of them, all dressed in brown of one shade or another since that's what
students wore at the Printer school, were older than fourteen. Tall too. Since
they were actually all noblemen and women, or at least seemed to be. Being a
giant didn't mean you had a title.

Not that
Tim wasn't one of them. In fact he was slightly more highly placed than most of
them, which was also the point, he guessed, as the wooden blade clipped him in
the chin, cutting his face. Well, she had promised blood, hadn't she? It
dripped onto the ground in a thin stream. Luckily it slowed a lot after he
wiped at it once with the back of his left hand.

"Now..."
She tried to do it again, but he laughed, even if he didn't really feel like it
and made himself roll out of the way,
fast
, keeping hold of his own
blade as he did it. The move roughly worked, even though it wasn't smooth
enough. That was because of his innate speed, rather than skill, he knew. When
it came to weapons work, as least non-magical ones, he didn't really have any
ability yet. It was part of what he was there to learn, that being the nature
of fighting courses.

Petra
grinned at him, taking his seemingly happy smile as being real, and pressed her
own attack. It was a mistake. On his part. In the future Tim decided on a
program of stern glances and frowning while doing things like this. He was
pretty much just being slapped around even as he tried to do what she told him.
Which was mainly to keep his own weapon up, and try to fight back. It was so
pitiful he could almost swear a few of the others were hiding tears. It might
have been laughter too, since it was hard to tell. Half the larger ones seemed
almost constipated though, in expression.

Finally,
after ten minutes of this treatment, with him being out of breath and in
constant pain, she relented, just a little. On her part the good looking woman
with her smooth skin and toned body didn't even seem out of sorts at all. It
was annoying, but she was just in better condition than he was.

"Good.
Now, I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea here, not all the training
sessions will be this light. It's Tim's first day though, so we can take it
easy on him. Karl, you're up next. Ready?"

She was
speaking to a large man that was technically an adult by anyone's way of
thinking. He was twenty, just a few years younger than their instructor, and
vast
.
Petra was big, compared to Timon, standing at over six-six. Karl was nearly two
heads taller than that, and half again wider than the woman. He wasn't bad with
a blade either, it turned out, once they started.

Not as
good as she was, Timon realized almost instantly, but that was why Petra was in
charge. She was excellent at what she did, and had trained with the best for
years.

Timon,
having at least some sense left, managed to dance back before they got going
and stood next to a likely looking girl that watched the two in the middle of
the dirt square raptly. She was tall and not all that cute, but had a good
smile. Luckily she wasn't all
that
tall, being only about six feet even.
It made him feel safer. She was young and would end up being bigger than that,
no doubt, but he was more than a bit afraid of women that were too tall. Petra
was hard to be around and
she
was his personal friend. One that beat him
on the first day of school as an example to everyone else, but still, his pal.

They had
a history.

Not the
kind that anyone there would likely think either. These were nobles, so if
Timon had mentioned that he and the instructor had traveled together for half a
year, off and on, and weren't related directly, almost all of them would just
assume that they'd been having sex that whole time. It wasn't true, but that
would be the assumption. It was a cultural thing, and even if Tim was too young
to have sex legally, most of their caste wouldn't care, as long as it was
consensual. Or even if it wasn't, depending on where they were from.

"Ohhh...
Karl is about to have his butt handed to him, isn't he? It was hard to tell,
when she was working against you, because..." The girl looked at him and
went wide eyed, since it was clear what she was getting at, and he'd been
introduced with both his titles, which meant he was sort of a big deal that
way. Countier First, Baker. Countier Sixth Lairdgren. Both of those things were
new, since his older brother Teral had given up his claim to a title at all.
Not that it mattered really, since both of the people he'd have to replace were
immortal, he wasn't getting either job.

Taler,
which was Teral's family name, wasn't going to either, so he'd decided to just
run his bakery, and call it good. It wasn't done in bitterness, but out of
respect for the people he served, being that he worked in the country and
having a title would make the farmers, village folk and the like, rather
uneasy.

Tim
smiled up at the girl and nodded a bit. It wasn't that neck straining at least.

"Instructor
Petra wasn't joking about this being my first lesson. Nearly so at least. It
makes a difference." He let it go at that. The girl had been trying to say
that he wasn't very good, and it was true. Some nobles would have a problem
with that kind of thing, and might make her suffer for saying it, but he wasn't
one of them. If he wanted her to be impressed with his martial prowess, he'd
get
some first.

"Um,
yeah." She seemed a bit more bashful now, but kept speaking, her eyes
going back to the sword work. "Karl's good though. He's been teaching us,
since we didn't have a proper Instructor for this section yet."

They
watched for a while the others doing much the same, except for a clutch of tall
kids across the way, who actually seemed to get bored by it. They wandered off
to the side and started to pull out cards, and some small games. The girl next
to him noticed it, and he followed her gaze.

"Not
the brightest, are they?" Timon spoke softly and the girl gave a little
head shake.

"Not
at all. Annoyingly dull really, but you didn't hear it from me.
They're..." She froze as one of the people, a girl, looked across the
square at her and sneered a bit. It didn't help her looks at all, even though
she was tolerably pretty compared to the lady next to him. "
All
of
them are high noble, and think that they shouldn't have to do any actual work.
So far they really haven't had to. I don't know what Instructor Petra will do
about them. Half of us here are on a scholarship, and..." She looked
embarrassed and then shrugged. "I'm not noble, you know?"

Timon
shrugged back and smiled, which made his face hurt.

"And
I am. Do you know what that means? Here and now, I mean?" He managed not
to sound sly, but was watching Petra very closely, and noticed that her lips
had gone from her normal broad fighting grin to a tight and somewhat angry
expression and her attention was straying a bit toward the group of four kids
that were sitting on the stones off to the side, dealing out playing cards.

The girl
stiffened a bit and shook her head anyway, but made herself speak to the
potentially entitled little brat next to her.

"No...Sir."

Timon
smiled. "Call me Tim. What it means is that, in about two minutes, you're
probably going to be taking a turn swatting me with a practice blade, while
Karl and the larger students each work with one of those lot over there, I bet.
Luckily I have a healing amulet." He meant for himself, but the girl went
wide eyed and glanced at the group on the ground.

"Wait,
you
do
? Those are really hard to get hold of, aren't they? Who did you
have to suck off to get that?" Then, because while she was a scholarship
kid, and not a moron, the girl blushed and bit her lips. It wasn't a polite
thing to say, especially since it
might
just be true. It was the noble
way. You either bought things with coin, or sold your behind for favors. No one
talked about it much, but the girl was clearly smart. She wouldn't have made it
past the testing if she hadn't been. There was fierce competition to get a
scholarship here at the new school.

He also
needed a name for her, other than girl.

"Sorry,
I seem to have forgotten your name?" He'd never known it, but she nodded,
as if he were just being polite and ignoring what she'd just implied.

"Mindy.
Mindy Damic. I, um, no title or anything."

Timon
winked at her.

"Right,
most people don't bother with them I hear. Anyway, I didn't have to
suck off
anyone to get my copy, since I made it myself. I'm a builder." That got
her attention, and she seemed to think he was lying for some reason. At least
he took her slightly narrowed gaze to mean that. After a bit she swallowed and
shook her head though.

"Yeah,
I'd heard that. The Wizard Tor's younger brother? You made the good Fast
Carriages, right? Those are incredible." She stopped talking, since Petra
had clearly heard them, her face going back to its normal happy expression,
mainly. It didn't track to her eyes however, which was a sign of danger.

"Timon,
you and..."

The
large dark hand waved at the girl next to him, so he provided the name for her.
It was
her
first day too, after all.

"Mindy."

"You
and Mindy work together. Mindy, don't hold back too much. Karl, if you and your
top students could help me?" She was suddenly very polite about the whole
thing and Karl blinked, but didn't ask what she meant about
his
top
students.

That got
a scene to start that was pretty much the one that Tim had thought was going to
happen. It almost had to. Karl and the others were coaxed into beating the lazy
kids a bit. Not as much as
Timon
had been already, but it was enough
that Mindy had to fight a smile about it as they worked.

"Good
call. Did you use magic?" The girl wasn't anywhere near as good as Petra
was, but she still managed to hit him five times out of six. Her movements were
rough and a bit soft, though he wasn't going to complain about that, since it
meant less bruising for him.

"Nope.
She heard us talking, I think." The truth was both that he was certain she
had, and also would have done it even if she hadn't. Petra had to take control,
it being her first day. Hence his being beaten right off like that. She had to
show she was hard. Being too nice right off the top would lead to no one taking
her seriously.

"Ah."
Then they just worked for a while, the not so pretty blonde girl turning a bit
ruddy as they struggled to trade blows. It wasn't a fair fight at all, but she
stopped holding back as much after a few minutes, which meant that there was a
nearly constant smacking sound coming from him. Well, his body at least, if not
his blade, which was just flailing around uselessly.

It was
hard to hear over the moaning, crying and threats to quit, which came from the
center of the square. The girl that had given Mindy a hard look earlier was the
one that particularly didn't seem to want to be there anymore. She was also, it
seemed, decently well placed, socially. He could tell, because she started
yelling
about it. It was sort of awkward to listen to. Embarrassing.

"You
can't do this to me! I'm a Conserina, you bitch! I don't care if you're an
Instructor here, I'll have your job for this! Countess Printer won't put up
with her good students being bullied!"

Other books

Maxwell's Return by M J Trow
Mirror Image by Sandra Brown
From the Heart (A Valentine's Day Anthology) by M.B Feeney, L.J. Harris, et al
Fall From Grace by Eden Crowne
Woman Who Could Not Forget by Richard Rhodes
Fire and Ice by Susan Page Davis
Beyond Me by Jennifer Probst