Jacob Frye [40 y/o] - The Clockwork Soldier
A/N: Jacob Frye (40) in a steampunk AU I thought up awhile back. I guess it’s X reader-ish, as I don’t talk about the girl in the stables much. Enjoy—just a small story. Nothing big. (Came out rather depressing, but my pieces write themselves sometimes.)
There are many islands, and each one is a floating island with a different style type and history. Shakeep has a Victorian London motif, always raining and where the Steam Legion started. Each king/queen has an airship to make traveling from one island to the next easier. Each mention of a place and the rules and such of the islands were made up a long time ago in a RP I orchestrated, so that belongs to me~. Enjoy~.
Word Count: 2,502
A sharp inhale from a nightmare that plagued the king of Shakeep Island broke the silence of his bedroom. Sweat upon his brow, Jacob’s hazel eyes shifted to and fro nervously for the foe that was about to attack him in that dream only to find that it was truly just so—a dream. Remaining on his side, the ruler brought his hand to his face to try and wipe the worry from him and remove the tears he could feel there upon his cheeks.
He could lie to anybody and say it was sweat given how drenched he felt, but in truth, the nightmare that crippled him was of memories past…memories from the past Steam War and of his late sister.
Jacob sighed, his heart heavy with grief at the memory. The bastards killed her and, also, killed his wife as a means to make him regret his title and authority over the people of Shakeep. Both of them pleaded in their final moments not to let him surrender the lives of the many for theirs, and now, he was forced to live with the misery, almost resenting his people for such a tough choice he had to make.
But, Jacob couldn’t think on that now. He had to get up and prepare for the day. If the nearby clock was any indication, it was nearly nine in the morning.
Getting up was going to be hard. It had been ever since the Steam Legion got a hold of Jacob and forced gears upon him when he refused to join them and their ranks after the murder of those closest to him. His left leg was no longer organic and the same could be said for his right arm. Both were taken from him during his captivity and now, the once former bits of him that were removed were replaced with steam and gears making up robotic parts that the steam fanatics left as a means to damn him for his decision.
But that wasn’t what made moving hard.
A giant, half gear was implanted within his spine just below his neck and ending right at his lower lumbar. It was heavy, always had been, but Jacob supposed that could be a metaphor for how much he lost in that war and how the weight of the death of many weighed upon him so. It had been years since this infernal thing was implanted upon him, but the days and nights had gotten easy in trying to adjust to the new handicap the foes marked him with.
Normally, Jacob called for aid, but he was sick of relying on others to help him get out of bed. He was forty damn years of age…he wasn’t eighty. Grabbing at his nightstand with one hand, he slowly began to pull his legs to the carpeted flooring before managing to sit upright without help.
His lower back was feeling a bit stiff, so he knew he would have to see his doctor about it later, but for now, he wanted to try and walk around the room and adjust to the idea of being up and about without help. The gears in his left leg churned and clicked, steam misting from them as they settled into place and allowed him the support Jacob needed to stand as firm as he could be. Because of the weight of the massive half-gear in his back, Jacob had startled to slump slightly forward—again, feeling older than he was.
Jacob growled, wishing more than ever he could get his hands on the men and women responsible for this horrid act upon him, but he knew they would be difficult for him to catch in the state he was. This is why he was relieved that his son, Emmett, and his other adopted son, Jack, were out and about doing the task for him.
“No doubt the two of them are still prancing about as we speak,” Jacob mumbled to himself, his feet soon leaving the carpet and walking across the black and white marbled flooring to obtain his cane-sword to which he kept propped up near his desk just near the balcony area.
He never realized what a long walk it was without it until his palm finally found the golden, curved face of the bird of prey in his possession. Again, Jacob moved his fingers to his eyes to try and rid the sleep from them as well as the sadness from the memories that plagued him. A bath would do to try and relax him, and while Jacob could take pride in the fact he stood upright without somebody’s help (minus the cane-sword), that was all he could manage for now.
The cane tapping upon the marble flooring, Jacob made it to his bedroom door where he cracked it open a bit to talk with the guards standing just outside. They were both startled at the sight of Jacob up and about without a servant having gone in there earlier to help him. “I need assistance with my bath. Send someone, won’t you?”
The guards didn’t hesitate, and one quickly took his leave to fetch someone for Jacob.
Jacob knew the one remaining wanted to talk to him—ask how he was—but the king was far from feeling chatty and merely shut the door once more to make his way to the edge of his bed where he sat to try and recollect himself and put weight off of his legs. His head lowered, he moved the organic hand to his forehead, motioning the wet and messy strands of his hair about his face with a nasally sigh. “What life am I living now…? Is it worth it?” Jacob murmured to himself, hardly feeling as he once was in his youth.
Who knew a single war could scar him so much.
Two of the female servants were happy to aid him when it came to his request for a bath. Normally, he looked forward to such moments as this, but now they were bland, annoyances, and he just wanted it to be over and done with so he could make his escape to his own personal solitude. Upon fetching his clothing for the day (most of which had to be torn to make room for the gear), Jacob decided to head down to the stables in hopes of finding peace and, perhaps, some form of lost happiness.
He use to love the stables so much he would refuse any help with his horses, but after the ending of the Steam War two years ago, Jacob never found the energy to move from his bed nor was there enough pain medicine to really stabilize his new transformation.
The stables were to the right of the castle and could be reached from outside the castle or even inside. The pasture was huge and took up quite a few acres of land about Shakeep as Jacob bought, bred, and sold horses when able seeing as his sister was to take the throne—not him—so horses became his favorite pastime. The stables were a circular building, spreading out with rows of stalls on the east, west, and northern areas of the building with the tack room being not far from the entrance at the south.
Jacob sighed when passing the tack room, peering into the musty old window just to look at the many unused bridals and saddles that lie in wait to be cleaned. He used to spend so much time caring and playing with the horses that he would spend the night in there on an old cot if he didn’t locate that cot to one of the stalls to sleep beside some of his favorites. Now, it had been so long since he ventured to the stables that the smell—the once easily adjusted to scent of uncleanliness—started to irritate his nose.
“Whoa—easy boy…!” Jacob heard from the right hallway of the stables, prompting the ruler to make his way slowly to the sight.
It was a woman—probably someone they hired in his absence to tend to his prized and beloved creatures. Jacob couldn’t say he recognized her, but he watched her closely from where she was trying to harness one of the stallions, it seemed. He couldn’t see which one, but as his eyes squinted to adjust to the steed she was trying to wrangle with gently, it was there he felt a panic rise in his chest.
It was one of his stallions. A beautiful, black Friesian horse with wavy mane and tail he named Collide. Collide had been unstable for a few months now, and nobody had found a time to fetch a vet to check out what may be the problem. All Jacob was told, while lying in bed, was that the steed had been acting aggressive and acting up as of late. Emmett assumed it to be pain somewhere in the body, but he didn’t know where Collide was in pain even after having checked everywhere on the steed before the creature bit him.
“It’s okay,” she whispered, raising her hands upward to Collide, not knowing Jacob was nearby. “I’m not going to hurt—!”
But the horse neighed a rather disgruntled and disapproving neigh, rearing up then with his ears flat against his head as he struck her chest with his front hooves.
Seeing the woman fall backward and land on her side harshly and Collide threatening to stomp on her if he got the chance, Jacob ran between them to halt the scene from playing out. Getting to them just in time, Jacob raised his robotic arm to Collide with a ‘whoa’ of his own, letting the stallion settle at the sight of his master he had gone so long without.
Collide expressed a mixture of emotion at the appearance of Jacob, his ears swerving back and forth between interest and aggression, but upon realizing that this was indeed his master, the Friesian breed bowed his head and backed down. The man could tell that the horse was glad to see him but also not happy all the same—the wild look in Collide’s eyes told Jacob to stay way, and so he did, respectfully.
Jacob sighed his relief, shutting the stall door and locking it into place before turning around to meet the eyes of the woman who was foolish enough to try and mess with Collide. Surely she was told of his condition? “You are bloody reckless to try that bit,” Jacob scolded, moving his hand for hers to take. “Are you alright?”
She flinched when she moved as her chest felt bruised from the impact but her pride was also a bit hurt with her king scolding her. “I-I’m fine…it just hurts…a bit.”
“To be expected,” said Jacob simply, cocking a brow at her words. “Had been kicked in the chest before myself. I once even got a broken rib from that, so be thankful you are not in such a state.”
Again, she folded her hands before her and looked away. She would ask for forgiveness, but she knew what she was trying to do was wrong.
“Did they tell you nothing of this horse?” Jacob asked, thumbing over his shoulder at where Collide remained, his hoof now beating against the wooden door in desperation to get out, it seemed, to continue the fight with the girl who so brazenly tried to tame him.
The woman reluctantly departed with an answer, her words trembling as she spoke. “They did.”
“I’m sorry, your Highness,” she quickly apologized, her hands clasped tightly before her dirtied pants she wore about the stables. “I just…I know you’ve been out of sorts lately, and I wanted to try and…I don’t know…” Every thought that passed her mind felt like an excuse, and she darned not continue it.
Jacob could tell she was saddened by his response to the situation, making him sigh and straighten up slightly with both hands upon the head of his cane-sword. “Stay away from him,” Jacob ordered gently. “Collide is usually never aggressive, but he’s become so as of late, and I need to get a vet in here to check on him.”
“I-I can phone in one for you, sire,” the woman insisted, raising her hand at the offer.
“If you can find the time to spare in doing so, then please.” Jacob was trying not to sound sarcastic, but he couldn’t help but wonder why none of this was done any sooner when his son admitted that it could be a health issue. It was then he tried to change the topic for a moment, nodding in her direction. “You are the only one tending to the horses?”
“Not just me; heavens, no!” she insisted, hand to her chest at the mere thought. “There are many other men and women who help at different times of the day and such. I’ve seen Prince Emmett in here as well helping when he can.”
Then why the bloody hell did he not phone a vet? Jacob thought, shaking his head and rubbing between his eyes when the woman wasn’t looking. “Brilliant,” he expressed in an exasperated sigh. “I am sure I can count on you not to be foolish again and try to tame this horse for me?”
A blush of embarrassment crept across her cheeks as she bowed her head with a nod. “Yes, your Highness,” she muttered. “I just thought that…you would…enjoy riding again, you know?”
Jacob stopped in his stride down the corridor, turning and looking upon her as though he were offended.
Again, it made her recoil. “I’ve seen all the photographs of you riding and such…I just—.”
“That was a long time ago,” interrupted Jacob, his voice tinged with anger at such a memory being implanted upon him yet again. Realizing that he was letting his aggression get the better of him, he took in a heavy sigh and shook the thought from him. “Just…just be careful,” he whispered, turning his back on her and walking away, finding no peace there as he had hoped…