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About Yeoldebard

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    Awesome Member

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    Bisexual, leaning male
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    My interests are reading, writing, the violin, and video games.

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  1. Yeoldebard


    A gnome with a racial hatred. A guild with an axe to grind. Separated by circumstance, Elluin and Hope must deal with their issues alone. But perhaps new friends can even the odds. Their lives may very well hang in the balance.
  2. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 8

    Hmm, playing two angles at once without realising it? I'm surprised, usually Stratos seems very in tune with Gemini's emotions.
  3. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 7

    Sounds like someone needs a new career. And a new obsession. Why mess with someone who is so obviously not meant for you? Leon should just quit while he's still ahead. Sort of...
  4. Yeoldebard


    For once the Adventurers Guild was nearly empty. Hope stood before the quest board, taking in the numerous problems people around the town were facing. Anything from another request to find a ring, to a tribe of gnolls encroaching on the town. There was even a post asking for workers to help with a tavern that was going up a couple hours out of Cadara. The tiefling shook his head with a sigh. The only job that seemed to pay somewhat well was a hunt for a werewolf that had been seen near the Whispering Mermaid tavern. What a werewolf was doing in the middle of a busy city was beyond him. It seemed more like a job Elluin would take on. He certainly couldn't hunt down a beast like that. "He's already looking for the wolf, isn't he?" the tiefling muttered. "Well fine then. I guess there's nothing for me here." He turned on his heel, stepping around a rowdy group of adventurers who were arguing about the gnolls and the werewolf. Leaving the guildhall, the tiefling tried to recall the way to the Mages Guild. Had he been there before? "Better check your notes," he snorted at the sky. "The ruler of the world can't even remember basic locations. Allow me to help. I have not been to the Guild yet." He wasn't sure what he was doing, taunting the writer like this. She controlled the world, could make things happen with naught but a word. Maybe he had a deathwish. Or maybe taunting her gave him some semblance of control over his life. Hope stared at a half-elf as they passed, frowning slightly. "Hey, Samuel, right?" he asked nonchalantly. "Yeah. I never caught your name. Not that I really care to," the half-elf shrugged. "You were nicer in bed," Hope frowned. "That's my job. You want me to be nice, you know my price." The half-elf strode away, Hope sighing as he took in Samuel's body from behind. So much for making a friend. An hour of wandering through the guilded part of Cadara, the tiefling finally found his destination. A tall stone building with several signs around the door. Hope could only read the Rellanic lettering, announcing the place as the Mages Guild. He could feel a strange energy running throughout the building, one that seemed similar to the tiny vibrations in the spell book hidden under his cloak. Was it magic that he felt? Yet another strange ability he had… Walking up a short flight of stone stairs, the tiefling knocked on the door uncertainly. The sound echoed on the other side, as though magnified. The door opened with a surprising quietness, startling Hope. A dwarf stood before him, his long grey beard stained with ink, and his green robes keeping the shape of his body a formless secret. "Ah, you must be the charmer," the dwarf smiled widely. "Great. Does the whole city know about me?" "Most likely not. Your… friend, Elluin, is in the Universal room, working on a spell." "Of course he is. Actually, he told me I could join the Guild," Hope said. "Hmm. Do you have any magical prowess?" Hope held up his hand, creating a gold coin that shined in the candlelight of the hall. "A cheap trick," the dwarf waved off. "Well, what do you want me to do then?" Hope grumbled. "Elluin mentioned you cast a spell on him. Can you do the same to me?" Hope felt a bit of pressure as the dwarf watched him. Performance anxiety? The thought made him chuckle slightly. "Relax. Just do what you did to the elf." "Okay…" The tiefling closed his eyes, thinking. He barely remembered how he had cast the spell. But when he cast the spell Elluin had given him, he had to reach for energy. Maybe it was something like that? No, he had used confusion to cast the charm. "Are you sure you need me to cast a spell?" he asked. "I don't know if I can just cast one out of hand." It worked, the strange arcane energy pushing through his words. The dwarf blinked, shaking his head slightly. "That is an adequate demonstration. I see Elluin was correct about you. A tiefling who can cast spells without a book. I don't suppose you knew your parents?" "I did not." The dwarf nods. "That is not an uncommon situation with tieflings. You are likely a sorcerer. We do not have much that can help you here, but you are still welcome to join the Guild." "I do have a spellbook," Hope said, pulling it out. "Hmm. Perhaps you might find a way to combine innate magic with study… But for now, allow me to show you around. Oh, where are my manners? My name is Barin. I am the steward of this guildhall." "I'm Hope. It is nice to meet you," the tiefling said as they walked together down a long hall. The elf wiped the liquid off his blade carefully, looking at the finished result. A tiny blade with a whip-like tip was now etched painstakingly into Elluin's sword, beside a tiny sword in the shape of a shield. The two runes that had been on the scroll, recreated in an Elven style. Elluin let out a quiet sigh, stretching his fingers. Four hours of research followed by another four hours of etching… he was mentally exhausted. The door to the room opened, Barin stepping inside. "This is where we keep some of our scrolls. As a novice of the Guild, you won't have access to them yet, unless you pay for them." Elluin looked up from the table, spotting a cloaked figure walk in behind the dwarf. A figure in his old cloak, to be specific… So, the tiefling had taken his advice. Their eyes met, Hope looking rather startled to see him there. Sheathing his blade, Elluin approached the two, handing a few gold to Barin. "Thanks, that scroll was rather interesting," he said. "Anytime," Barin nodded, tucking the coins away. "I'm surprised you're here," Hope said. "Shouldn't you be out hunting the evil werewolf everyone is talking about?" Elluin's blood froze at the words. "A werewolf? Where did they see it?" he questioned casually. "The Whispering Mermaid. And there is no way I'm hunting it down with you," Hope shrugged. "I don't care how much gold they're offering." "Well, there's no way it would still be here. Probably ran off to the woods." "Okay. Why don't you go chase it across the land like a puppy running after its mother, save it from death, threaten to kill it when it shows affection, and then abandon it," Hope shrugged. Elluin scolded at the tiefling. "Excuse you, you threw a charm at me. What the fuck did you think would happen?" "I certainly didn't expect you to stalk me." "Ugh… why do you insist on fighting with me every time we talk?" "Oh, like you don't start arguments at all," Hope scoffed. "I don't have time for this…" Elluin sighed. He pushed past Hope, ignoring the tingle as their arms brushed against each other. The skinwalker needed to escape the city before he was discovered. "You know, I wouldn't be surprised if you had something to do with this werewolf. Why else would your people call you a skinwalker?" He couldn't stop himself. The skinwalker lunged at Hope, pinning the tiefling to the wall. His fingers tightened around Hope's throat, a low growl escaping him. "H...harder…" Hope breathed. "ENOUGH!" Brain's voice snapped at them both. "Ugh…" Elluin threw the tiefling to the ground, storming away. Things had just gotten much worse. He might never be able to return now that Barin knew he was a skinwalker. Hope rubbed his neck, watching Elluin hurry away. Messing with the elf was so much fun. Even when Elluin was trying to strangle him. "He's a skinwalker? Barin asked. "You are certain of this?" "I heard an elf refer to him as a skinwalker," Hope shrugged. "He's never shown any furry side in front of me." Barin hummed thoughtfully. "Well, there is no concrete proof as of yet. I'll get some people to look into it. A skinwalker magus would be a terrible thing." Hope shrugged. Honestly, he didn't really care, as long as Elluin didn't try to eat him. He should probably stop antagonizing the elf then. But it was so fun… "Anyway, that is basically the end of the tour," Barin continued. "You should go find Keeper Maris, and she will aid you in creating a better spell book. The one you have is really only good for travelling." Hope nodded, swallowing heavily. His throat ached with the sweet pain of Elluin's touch. He had never expected to enjoy that kind of treatment. But his body certainly seemed to like it. Walking out of the room, the tiefling sighed quietly. "So, is this the part where we cut to black and come back with me fully trained?" he asked. "Or are you actually going to show my efforts?"
  5. The wolf rolled around on the bed, his fur leaving trails that fell from the mattress. It was childish, he knew, but he had been stuck inside for the last three days. With the full moon finally ending, his body was reverting back to his elf form. Elluin was free once more. Panting in a pile of fur, the skinwalker shivered in the cold room. He rolled out of bed and began dressing, looking at the leftover fur in disgust. The wolf's mind always seemed so malevolent. The only reason he had been able to keep the wolf cooped up in the room was because the wolf was smart enough to know if he was seen, he'd be dead. He'd paid for his room by slipping a few gold coins outside the door the first night. The tavern owner hadn't come complaining, so Elluin figured his room was paid. Grabbing his blade, the elf strapped it to his back. Briefly, he considered heading to the orphanage to see if it was still standing. Then again, Hope hadn't managed to burn it down before now. With a quiet grumble, Elluin finally let himself realize the truth. The only charm Hope put on him was to get away. The rest of it, the feelings of pixies in his gut, the ceaseless thoughts about the tiefling, they were all just a crush. And threatening to gut the tiefling if he ever kissed him again was probably uncalled for. But that was a whole different issue. The elf had been hunting fiends for years, and having one kiss him turned his stomach. Even if it also made his body more excited than it had ever been before. Not that it was a challenge to do that. Elluin's life was devoted to sword and wizardry. He had no time for any other pursuits, let alone pursuits of the flesh. And he had no time for it now. With that thought, the skinwalker grabbed the rest of his things and moved swiftly out of the tavern. His feet turned in the direction of the Mages Guild. Maybe he could find a spell to add to his repertoire. The guildhall stood tall and proud, bold letters painted over the doorway in various languages, each announcing the same thing. Barin the dwarf steward stood in the entrance hall with a smile on his face, nodding as Elluin stepped inside. "Hello again. I was hoping you would stop by here again," the dwarf said. "Did you have any luck with your friend?" "Yes. Unfortunately, it seems you were correct in your assessment." Barin nodded sagely. "I am rarely wrong about such things. What brings you to the Guild today?" "I was hoping to take a look at some spellbooks," Elluin said, grateful for the change of subject. "Ah. I am glad to hear you say that. You study the runic tradition, correct?" Barin chuckled at Elluin's look of surprise. "You have to store your spells somewhere. I just guessed it was your blade, which suggests runes. Based on your appearance, I say I got it spot on. I have a scroll with a pair of runes on them. None here can use them. You are free to have them for only five gold." "Will you permit me to see the spells before I purchase them?" "Of course," Barin nodded. The dwarf led him through the hall, pointing him toward a flight of stairs. On the second floor were eight doors around a circular hall, each with a different symbol over it. "You store all your scrolls up here?" Elluin asked as they walked around the floor. "Isn't that dangerous?" "Perhaps, but with the number of wards over each door, it is unlikely any would be able to steal anything within." Barin unlocked a ninth door, one with no symbol over it. They entered into a narrow hall lit with a chandelier, two other doors on the other end of the hall. As the two approached, Elluin heard a quiet voice beyond the door on the right, discussing the effects of some spell. From the sound of it, he was speaking of an arcane mark. The dwarf led him through the door on the left, however, and into a large room full of tomes and scrolls, each apparently separated by language. "The scroll is in the Dathric section, on the first level shelf. We figured that was the best place for it," Barin said. "If there are any other spells that interest you, let me know. I'm sure an arrangement could be made between us." Nodding, Elluin made his way toward the section marked by the Dwarven tongue. It was entirely likely that the runes on the scroll weren't even of the Dathric language. Still, he wouldn't know if he didn't look around. He moved past a gnome who was thumbing through a book of what appeared to be Dwarven songs. Finding a selection of scrolls, the elf began searching through them, easily finding the one he was looking for. As he thought, the two runes on the page were not Dathric in origin. The elf actually had no idea what the language was. It almost looked like they had been sketched onto the velum with a claw in charcoal… Dragon speech? Elluin had only seen one sample of dragon writing before, in the Ajirin jungle. But this looked similar to it, spells that had been coded in magic, then transcribed into a rune that would only make sense to a mage knowledgeable about dragons. At least, that was how Elluin made his runes. Maybe there was a dragon dictionary somewhere. He would have to ask Barin. Hope stared at the brothel door silently. His time with Samuel had been so fulfilling, and his heart ached for it. He wanted, no, needed to feel loved again. To have someone care for him. Ten gold coins clinked quietly in a pocket within his cloak, all he had left to spend. The rest had gone to the orphanage. Hope smiled silently as he recalled the looks of wonder on the orphans' faces. Arran had stared at him slack-jawed until the tiefling told him to close his mouth. They were set for at least three months, as far as food went. Of course, Hope would have to bring the food to them. Arran was unable to leave the building due to a curse that made him weak in sunlight. A gift from a witch he had taken a copper from when he was a kid. It was a good lesson in being stealthy; unfortunately it made things a little harder for Hope and Jeanne. When Jeanne had still been there. "Why do you do this to us?" he sighed. "Giving us a taste of success? You're just going to tear it away again." And he couldn't throw money away on what would easily become an addiction. If it wasn't already. Turning around, Hope let his feet wander back through the city. Briefly, he thought about going to the Adventurers Guild. The gold wasn't going to last forever after all. But the last time he had gone there had almost ended with his death. Hope wanted to wait a bit longer before repeating that experience. He shivered, remembering the halfling's eyes as she fell to his arrow. "Okay, new topic!" An elf jumped nearby, startled by his sudden exclamation. The tiefling barely noticed, feeling up the coins in his pocket. He knew how to read. And he had money to be trained in a scribe's work now. Maybe he should take Elluin's advice and join the Mages Guild. It might end badly, but it beat running around scrounging for coins. He had to talk to Arran about it first though. And that was not a conversation he was looking forward to. The elf was not doing well since Jeanne had been taken by that halfling. Losing Hope might push him over the edge. Still, he made his way back to the slums, slipping once more into the shadowy world he called home. There was a discussion to be had. Opening the door to the orphanage, Hope frowned at the sight of a man sitting across from Arran at their table. "Um, Arran, who is this?" The man rose to his feet, towering nearly a foot over Hope. The tiefling took a deep breath, calling the slightest bit of heat to his hand. Just in case. He had the look of an adventurer to him, a strong one at that. His dark arms were branches of corded muscle, his face bore a scar that ran across his left cheek, and his hair was a tangled nest. "Althair Naris, adventurer," he said with a voice that rumbled through Hope's chest. A hand was offered, one that Hope shook firmly. "I'm here to right a wrong that was committed against a tiefling that lives here." "Ah. I am familiar with the tiefling in question," Hope said. There was no way in the Nine Hells he was going to remove his cowl in front of a stranger. "I am supposed to offer my… not inconsiderable skills in service to this orphanage. And a most sincere apology for the fate of the woman who used to live here. The one who requested her abduction had grossly overstepped her boundaries." "Have you seen the children yet?" Hope questioned, letting the spell fade away uncast. "They were sewing when he came in. I thought it best to send them to the sleeping hall while we talked," Arran said. "They seemed hesitant around him." "I tend to make even seasoned adventurers nervous," Althair chuckled quietly. "It is a skill that is useful in a struggle, though less so when around children." "You said you are an adventurer? What do you usually do in a party?" "I am a healer. Not a cleric; the gods have never done good by me. But I am very handy with a bandage, and I know my way around healing herbs." "Ah. I must say I almost took you for a barbarian." "A simple misdirection. Smart foes always go for the healer first. If I make myself big and scary, they tend to keep their distance." "Any particular reason the guild chose you to come here?" Hope asked. Althair smirked slightly. "I do not believe that I mentioned a guild, Hope the Tiefling." "Shit…" Hope sighed, removing his cowl. Althair stared at him openly, with not a small amount of interest. "I have met many tieflings in my travels. But you are the first with this appearance." "Many find me disturbing, so I tend to hide my appearance," Hope shrugged. "My question still stands." "And, unfortunately, I am not in a position to respond. I will say that I do care for children, and have a soft spot for orphans." "What do you think Arran?" The elf shrugged slightly. "He isn't as good looking as Jeanne." "I'm still a catch in bed," Althair said. Hope chuckled quietly. "Unfortunately, Arran does not enjoy male company in bed. And I am not inclined to let my nether regions make decisions for me." "Shame." "You understand that we are poor. There isn't anything here that would interest your… friends," Hope mentioned. "You have no reason to fear my friends. My presence here guarantees they will stay away. And I heard of your fight with Marie. I can assure you that I bear you no ill will over that." Hope nodded shortly. "What exactly can you do to help the children?" Arran asked. "You say you are poor. I can secure funds for you." "We do not condone stealing," Hope warned. "Save for in the most dire straits." "There are other ways that I can obtain gold. And I would can take the children out to learn trades during the daytime. No offence, Arran Detoire." Arran stiffened in his seat, his eyes wide. "I have contacts. We can make this a place to be proud of, even if the location is less than perfect." "Well, considering the conversation I intended to have with Arran when I arrived, I would say welcome to the group Althair," Hope said. "You do seem like a good person. And we could use another pair of hands around here, as long as you can pull your own weight,"Arran said sharply. "No worries there. I will not eat you out of home." "Nagiri! Aiden! Jace! Come out here please!" The door opened, Aiden the first to walk through. Jace and Nagiri followed closely, confirming Hope's suspicions that they had been listening the whole time. "First of all, it is rude to eavesdrop," the tiefling frowned. "Second, say hello to Althair. He'll be helping out around here." Jace and Nagiri said, "Hello," while Aiden waved. "Jace and Aiden are brothers. I found them hiding out when they were ten," Hope explained. "Aiden-" "- Is deaf," Althair nodded. "I've been wondering where these two vanished to. No one would tell me." "Really?" Hope frowned slightly at the news. Had he picked up recruits of the Thieves Guild without knowing it? "Don't look so concerned. They were free to roam until adulthood. We do not claim those who are underage,"Althair chuckled. "Honestly, I am overjoyed to find you two here. And of course I know young Nagiri." The half-orc smiled shyly, hiding behind Hope. "Oh, that sounded bad. I'm sorry. My friends and I have been keeping an eye on your home, trying to keep you safe," Althair said. "You don't have to worry about him," Hope smiled reassuringly. "I'm sure once we get to know him, Althair will be as much a part of our family as Arran is." "And if not, you'll convince him to leave, right?" Jace said. "Right," the tiefling nodded. "I hope I can hold up to your expectations," Althair said. "Why don't you all tell me a bit about yourselves?" As the large man sat down to talk with the kids, Hope beckoned Arran into the bedhall. "I'm not sure I trust him," Arran said quietly, eyeing their new guest through the open door. "If he causes any issues, he's out of here. Listen, I need to fill you in on some things that have happened. You know I got the gold." Hope took a deep breath, looking through the door to make sure the others couldn't hear him. This was not a conversation they should be privy to. "I'm not sure how much to tell you without getting you in trouble-" "I know he's a thief, if that helps." Hope nodded slightly. "I was… instrumental in the deaths of two of his acquaintances, as much as I try to deny the one. We got the gold, apparently because when I killed a halfling who tried to have me killed, I did the guild a favour. I do not know how, and I doubt I ever will. Nor do I want to know." Arran nodded slowly. "That explains your absences." "Yes. I was sent to Four Pines. Along the way, I stumbled into some sort of monster house that tried to eat me. While I was fighting my way out, I accidentally cast a spell." Arran sucked in a quiet breath. "So it is magic then? The things you can do?" "There's more to it than that. You are familiar with an elf by the name of Elluin?" "There was an elf who gave me a silver for information on you," Arran admitted quietly. "I am glad you took it," Hope said. "He saved my life. He also gave me a book with a spell in it. The same book in the chest. I can cast that spell." "And you want to go to the Mages Guild for training?" Hope nodded. "You know our situation. I can get in for ten gold, out of my own pocket. But I will be gone, I don't know how long. If I don't do this, we will run out of gold eventually and be right back where we started, destitute and starving." "Fine. Go." Hope blinked at the sudden caving. He hadn't even had to fight. "You're right. Besides, you want this. I know you do. You might even figure out what it is that gave you your powers," Arran said. "I do not want to take that away from you, and with Althair here, as much as I don't really trust him, I have little reason to ask you to remain." "You'll be okay with this?" "I've dealt with worse," Arran shrugged. Hope embraced the elf with a quiet sigh. "I… I think I'll stop by the Adventurers Guild first," he said. "Maybe I can get a couple more gold for you." "Do as you will. And be safe," Arran said quietly. "I will return as soon as I can," Hope promised.
  6. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 1

    I absolutely cannot wait to see where this story goes already. Here's hoping that demon called writer's block stays far away
  7. Elluin sat at a table, a mug of ale in front of him. Supposedly the tavern special. He doubted it was that special. You drink one watered down city tavern ale, you’ve drunk them all. His finger circled over the cup idly as he stared at Hope from across the room. A small beam of frost cooled the mug for him, a magic hand of force stirring the contents. The elf's ribs still burned, a simple injury, but one that was still painful. Hope still seemed rather shocked as he carried a mug toward the table. The elf scoffed quietly. He deserved it. The tiefling kissed him. And not just a chaste kiss, no. He had tried to shove his tongue into Elluin’s mouth. The elf shuddered thinking about it. He was under a charm, he didn’t actually want the tiefling. It didn’t matter that Hope never seemed to use spells unless he was burning that stupid arrow. Hope was clutching his spellbook like it was one of the most precious things in the world. It almost made Elluin laugh. Prestidigitation was one of the simplest spells to cast, a cantrip that a baby could use. Still, he remembered his first spellbook. The elf had been overly protective of that book too. He still was protective of his spells, even if he did swing them around occasionally. The tiefling sat across from him, his mug shaking slightly. His hood was down, and Hope’s ears were twitching, swivelling nervously to listen to everything around him. “To your good fortune,” Elluin said, raising his own mug. Hope grunted something, going to take a sip of his ale. Elluin laughed as the tiefling made a face and spat it back into the mug. “What, have you never had ale before?” “I live in an orphanage. Do you really think I could afford ale before today?” Hope snapped. It was a fair point. “Okay, you’re a mage, right? You’re smart,” the tiefling sighed, taking a big gulp of the ale before grimacing again. “I’d like to think I’m smart,” Elluin shrugged. “Explain to me what the fuck just happened.” “Are you talking about the halfling, or you kissing me?” “Figure it out.” “Well, you put a charm on me, I followed you to get it removed, and you kissed me, in short. By the way, if you ever do that again, I will strangle you.” “Don’t worry, I will be over you by morning,” Hope growled. “The halfling problem… well, that’s a little more complicated. Either she was impersonating someone, she stole money, or… well, either way, I’m thinking you were rewarded for her demise. And the rather generous offering you left behind. So, it seems your plan worked. I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. It might bite,” Elluin shrugged, taking another drink. “Fine. Well, thanks for your help.” Hope drained his ale in a trio of large gulps, standing. “Whoa, hold on. You still need to remove this charm you put on me,” Elluin said sharply. “I can’t. Looks like you’ll be the one going to the Mages’ Guild.” Elluin growled as Hope walked away, spellbook in hand and purse of gold tucked securely within his cloak. Gods he hated that tiefling. Hope dove back into the slums, mind still whirling from the events of the morning. He moved through the alleys, swiftly, silently, feeling like he had finally come home. And now that the Guild had called his debt paid, his heart should feel free. Yet it didn’t. He had killed someone, murdered that halfling in cold blood. He could still hear the click of her crossbow, hear Elluin’s grunt as he was speared by the bolt. Feel the icy grip of fear as he watched the elf fall again. “Enough!” the tiefling screamed. “Get out of my head!” “Hey dude, you might want to see a cleric about that…” a woman said, sitting against a wall with a wineskin in her hands. “Never good when you start talking to yourself.” Growling in frustration, Hope continued his journey through the dark alleys. It wasn’t long before he stopped outside the orphanage again. He took a deep breath, before opening the doors. Arran stood up from the small table where three children were hard at work, needles and thread in their hands. “Excuse me, can I help you, sir?” the elf asked. Hope slid his hood off, frowning slightly. “Hope! You’re back?” “Yeah. Where is Jeanne?” the tiefling asked, looking around. Arran mirrored Hope’s frown. “Uh, perhaps this would be best discussed away from certain ears,” he suggested, nodding toward the sleeping hall. Hope followed the elf with a feeling of trepidation. He’d only been gone for just over a week if that. What could have happened in that time? “Stupid question,” he mumbled quietly. The tiefling was honestly surprised the orphanage was still standing, given how often bad things seemed to happen around him. “So, uh… Jeanne…” Arran frowned, crossing his arms nervously. “Uh, about three days ago, a wealthy halfling decided to pay a visit. Said he was looking for a housegirl, and he had his eyes on Nagiri.” “Oh fuck…” Hope sighed, already filling in the blanks. Even worse, he had a guess who the halfling worked for. “So Jeanne took the fall for Nagiri, and is now stuck as some sort of servant for a halfling, probably a sex slave.” “It gets worse. I had some of my old contacts ask around. The halfling took her to the port. Their ship left yesterday. There is no way to find out where she is.” Hope sighed, turning away from the elf. He kicked out suddenly, sending a cot flying. “FUCK!” “I… I, uh, kept the kids inside since she left. We’re taking on sewing for the rats around here.” “And food?” Arran shrugged helplessly. “I’m sorry. I failed,” he whispered. “Yeah, well, at least you didn’t pay for your own execution,” Hope sighed, shaking his head. “I’m going out. Keep the kids busy for a bit longer, okay? “I should be able to manage that,” Arran shrugged. The tiefling left the building, taking a moment to let the grief of losing Jeanne wash over him. The woman had lived in the orphanage almost as long as Arran had, and had been great with the kids, helping Hope feed everyone and keep them safe. With her gone off to be some pleasure slave… He shuddered, a tear squeezing from his eyes. This was pointless. He would achieve nothing from sitting here crying. The tiefling still had five hungry mouths to feed. Moving swiftly, Hope made his way to the marketplace, already knowing exactly where the cheapest food in the city was. Skipping past the Adventurer’s Shoppe, the tiefling paused outside a simple stall, fingering the sack that was still hidden in his cloak. “Ah, Hope, what can I do for you?” the half-elf in the stall smiled. “Love the new cloak, by the way. Green gives you a mysterious air.” “Thanks, Elyra,” Hope smiled slightly. “I finally got a bit of coin, and I was hoping you might have something for me and the others.” “Hmm, let me see… The fruits haven’t been selling that well. I could give you a discount on ten. Oh, and there’s some old bread that’s close to turning.” “How much for each?” “A copper per loaf of bread, and five for ten apples. They really are not selling well. I think it’s because someone forgot to dry them.” “Okay, I’ll take ten loaves of bread and twenty apples,” Hope said, pulling a coin out. Elyra whistled. “Oh kitty, don’t tell me you’ve taken up stealing from the rich?” she said. “Not exactly. There was a thing with a crown-” “That was you? Man, the guards were all over town looking for you. They finally gave up the search a few days ago.” “They never saw my face,” Hope sighed. “And I gave it back. Can we drop the subject, please? It was a mistake.” “Of course.” The half-elf handed the tiefling a large sack of food, taking the gold form him. She bit the coin, testing it, before handing him a handful of silver. “Listen, you tell that silver-haired beauty that lives by you that I’ve been waiting for him to come around and see me.” “I haven’t seen him in a while,” Hope shrugged apologetically. “Ah shit. The good ones never stick around,” Elyra sighed. “Well, do me a favour and get yourself something nice with that coin of yours. You deserve it.” “Thanks, Elyra,” Hope said, taking his food. He had an orphanage in need of feeding. He kissed him. Elluin didn't know why that thought kept running through his head. Maybe because that was the first time anyone had kissed him. Maybe because his first kiss had come from a fiend. He felt defiled. And he wanted more. The elf cast an icy cantrip on a bandage, wrapping it around his slender torso. It cooled his injury, relieving some of the pain, and Elluin took a deep breath. Removing his sword from its scabbard, the mage sank onto the bed of the private tavern room, seeking out another cantrip. His gambeson had a hole in it, not a big deal, but Elluin did not want to run around with broken gear. His mail had a few parted links from the only striking it. Those would be relatively cheap to fix at a smith. Besides, this would give him a chance to talk to a smith, discuss an apprenticeship. A nice source of possible income, and maybe he'd find a way to enchant the metals he worked. Not that he'd be doing anything until he got his ribs taken care of. The icy wrap felt nice around his torso, but moving still caused some pain. He could handle it, but he felt certain that swinging a hammer would not help the healing process. It was a shame he didn't have the money for a trip to a cleric. Wincing slightly, Elluin sank onto the straw filled mattress. He felt exhausted, from the trip, the fight, and all the shit Hope had put him through. The fiend had kissed him… all because he wanted a kiss before he died. And then the tiefling didn't even have the decency to actually die. It would have made things so much easier if he had… Just thinking of the tiefling made his entire body tingle with nerves. Like he needed to see Hope, even though it was the last thing he wanted. An itch grew in his gut, the elf sitting up in horror. The moon… he had lost track of the moon. Standing, Elluin moved as fast as he could to the window, craving his head to see the sky. Just as he thought, the moon was full. "Shit… fucking shit…" the elf muttered, yanking off his pants as the itch grew. He took a deep breath, trying to settle into a calmer state of mind, but there was no way it was happening. There was no fighting what was coming. Grunting in pain as black fur sprouted from his body, Elluin began pulling at his wrap, baring his gut. His body grew taller and wider, his legs forming into digitigrade paws that made standing still such a pain, even if they aided immensely in running. Elluin was never in a city for his transformations. People who knew him tended to shun him after they knew his secret. People who didn't know him ran, assuming he was a werewolf. As they should. If he had his way, he would chase them, bite them, destroy them and revel in the hunt. It had been so long since he'd last had a good hunt. Elluin tensed up, his face exploding outward into a wolfish muzzle. He wanted to claw at the fur that sprouted from his skin, but he held his claws in check, remembering the one and only time he had done so, the agony his razor sharp claws had caused on his face. He wanted to run, to hunt, but he was cooped up in the room for the night. There was no way he could go out on the town. Not like this. No, his hunt would have to wait until tomorrow. And then he would feast on the flesh of the city's fiends. Hope stared at the building, fingers twitching nervously. He had never been here before, had never wanted to come here before. The tiefling was at his wit's end though. He couldn't sleep. He kept thinking about the halfling dying by his hand, of Jeanne being stolen away, of Elluin nearly being killed. He needed a distraction. So here he stood with a rush candle burning in his hand, too nervous to go forward, too scared to go back. His candle was burning quick, and he needed to make a decision if he didn't want to be accosted by a guard on his way home for not having a light. The building before him was tucked in a discrete corner of the city, the city wall rising high above it. The full moon shone down into a window on the second floor, giving a glimpse of a richly appointed room. "You're really going to make me do this," the tiefling growled. "Does it give you joy, seeing me uncomfortable?" No voice answered his question, the sounds of the city at night his only response. "Fine! I'm going!" Pinching his candle, the tiefling stepped up to the door, knocking on it gently. Almost immediately, he turned around. No one was there. He would just go home and deal with his mind. How hard could it be? The door opened with a soft creak, a young woman peeking outside. "Hello," she smiled at him. "Hi… uh, hello," Hope frowned slightly, turning back toward the door. "You… are you closed?" "Not for another hour," the woman smiled. "Is this your first time?" "Yeah." His voice missed much of its usual snark. It was all the tiefling could do to keep a nervous tremble from his voice. "Welcome then. Unfortunately, we do not have time to show you around." The door was held open, invitingly, and Hope hurried inside. His hood remained on his head, his cat-like tail tucked within his cloak. The tiefling found himself in an extravagant entrance hall. Candles lit the hall, flickering light filling the room. He felt out of place. Nine Hells, the cushions just in the entrance hall were the most comfortable he had ever laid eyes upon. "Do you know what you are looking for?" "Something for the night?" It came out uncertainly, as though he was asking permission. "That is rather expensive." "How expensive?" "Depending, between two and ten gold. What kind of person are you looking for?" Hope's shoulders shrugged helplessly. "Hmm. Well, why don't you step into this room over here and I will send someone in to speak with you." The tiefling followed the woman's gesture, moving through a door into a small, comfortable room. A loveseat sat against the far wall, beeswax candles burning merrily on a table beside it. Two statues sat on either side of the entrance, one a rather busty Elven woman, and the other a well endowed human man. He sat on the seat, fingers tapping nervously. This was not the place for him; he shouldn't be here. A different woman entered the room, dressed in a velvet robe. Her fiery hair was swept back against her shoulders, bright green eyes smiling at him. "Hello. I'm Anne," she said, closing the door. "May I sit?" Hope nodded, and Anne crossed the small room, sitting rather close to the tiefling. He tried not to stare at her, his eyes sweeping the room until they landed on the statues. "You seem rather nervous. Or do you just prefer the mystery of hiding your face?" "I… there aren't many who feel comfortable with my appearance," Hope swallowed drily. The woman reached for his hood, pausing just shy of touching the fabric, with a questioning look. Hope took a deep breath, and nodded slightly. His hood was pushed back, the woman gasping slightly as his cat ears swivelled in the open air. "That… that is an unusual… effect," she said. "You're a mage?" "Uh, yeah," Hope replied, his ears twitching. "Am I making you uncomfortable?" "A little," the tiefling admitted. "You seem rather intrigued with our statues. Which one do your eyes favour?" "Um… the one on the left…" Anne let out a small smile as she stood up. "Then, if you will wait here a moment, I will send in someone who might accommodate your needs better." She left the room, and a few minutes later, a young half-Elven man entered, his body on display. A tight sleeveless shirt accentuated his chiseled torso, his deep red hair tied back to show off an angular face with just the hint of a beard. Silk trousers bulged with a not inconsiderate package, one that Hope's eyes were inexorably drawn to. "Hey there," the half-elf said, his voice light and warm. "I am Samuel." "I… I'm Hope…" the tiefling stuttered. Fuck, if this didn't cure him of his crush on Elluin… He lost that train of thought as Samuel took his hand, pulling him to his feet. "Will I suffice for tonight?" the half-elf questioned. "Y… yeah…" He could feel the warmth of Samuel's body, the half-elf smiling at the tiefling with a sparkle in his eye. "Then shall we head upstairs?" He was led out of the room and up the stairs. Following Samuel into a dimly lit room, Hope stood in the doorway, staring wide eyed at the large bed that took up much of the room. His stomach was churning with nerves, his tail flicking uneasily under his cloak. "Maybe this was a bad idea…" Samuel paused, searching Hope's eyes. "Is this your first time?" he asked. Hope nodded silently. "Don't worry, we will take this as slow as you want." "I don't know if I can have… have sex… Not with you." "Okay. If you want, we can just lay in bed together. Or you can leave. You are in control here." Hope swallowed drily. He was definitely attracted to this person. But he couldn't stop thinking of Elluin. "Is there someone you're thinking of?" Even with the nervousness that filled him, Hope still managed to roll his eyes. "Very subtle," he muttered, looking up. It broke the moment, and his nerves started to leave him, slowly. "Yeah, there's… there's this elf." "Ah. And does this elf know about you coming here?" Samuel questioned, tugging the tiefling to the bed. "We aren't actually together or anything. I'm pretty sure he hates me." Hope sat beside the half-elf, staring at his lap. His fingers played nervously with each other, thumbs tapping on his thighs. "But you have feelings for him." "I'm trying to get rid of them," he admitted. "I kissed him today, and he told me if I did it again he would gut me." "Doesn't sound like a good match for you." "He and I went on a journey together, and we were constantly arguing. He is so… infuriating. But I can't stand not being around him. I don't even know where he is." A hand gently rubbed Hope's back. Nails scraped over his cloak, scratching him, and the tiefling let out a quiet sigh. "I'm not sure this is the best way to get over him. You intended to remain here for the night, correct?" He nodded, eyes drooping slightly. "If you would still like to stay, perhaps a massage would help you relax." "Okay. How… how much do I owe you?" "Three gold for the night." Hope stuck his hand into the pouch of gold hidden in his cloak, removing the coins. He handed them to Samuel, who deftly pocketed them. The half-elf stood, moving toward a washtub in the corner of the room. A blue glow swirled around his hand, the sound of splashing water filling the tub. A red glow followed until a thin wisp of steam rose from the tub, and the half-elf set a bar of soap beside the tub. "Why don't you take a bath, clean yourself? I can draw a screen for you if you do not want to disrobe in front of me." "Thank you," Hope said in surprise. He stood and stepped up to the tub. With a quiet rasp, Samuel drew a screen between himself and the tub, granting Hope some privacy. The tiefling removed his cloak, setting it over the screen for extra security. He stripped quickly, and stepped cautiously into the tub. The water was warm even to his heat resistant skin, an unfamiliar feeling to one used to bathing in the rain. He sank slowly into the tub, shivering as water slipped up to his chest with a wet sloshing. As much as he wanted to enjoy the water, the tiefling was overly conscious of Samuel moving around the room. Recalling the motions of the spell Elluin gave him, Hope cast it, flinching as his torso heated up to a temperature too hot even for him. Shrugging silently as he splashed some water over his chest, Hope picked up the soap. Maybe it was time for him to figure out how to use this stuff. Ten minutes later, he stood up, taking a towel Samuel had placed over the screen. His body was as clean as it was going to get, his tail dripping back into the tub. Another towel was provided, Samuel leading the now-dry tiefling to the bed. Positioning Hope on his stomach, Samuel laid out the towel under Hope's tail, before straddling the tiefling. There was a quiet pop and the sound of wet hands rubbing together, and Hope tried to look around. "Relax," Samuel whispered, his weight shifting forward. Hope was glad the half-elf was still dressed. He could feel Samuel poking against his ass, but as a pair of gentle hands pressed into his scapula, the tiefling forgot his worries in a loud moan. Samuel dug into the tiefling, gentle but firm in his task. As his oiled hands ran over Hope's back, Hope allowed himself to drift, relaxing fully for the first time in weeks, no, months. This feeling of being cared for was alien to him, and he was in love with the sensation that was running through his body. Even as Samuel slowly thrust against his hole, teasing him, Hope found he could focus more on the massage, the gentle humping just adding to the scene. A hand slipped around his tail, the appendage slapping slightly against Samuel's leg. Soft palms dug into his ass and the tiefling let out a quiet whimper, melting deeper into the feathery softness of the bed. His eyes blinked blearily, Hope taking in the light of a new morning. He fell asleep? "Ah fuck. A cut away? I missed most of the night…" he sighed, rolling over. The towel fell off his body, baring the tiefling to the room, and Hope flinched, covering himself with his hands. "Relax. I've seen all sorts of groins," Samuel said, standing near the empty tub. The half-elf tossed Hope's clothing into the bed, Hope scrambling to dress himself. "Um, thank you," he said, standing up. His body felt refreshed. Even his hand wasn't hurting as much as it had the day before. "Thank you for your money," Samuel shrugged. He motioned toward the door, Hope hurrying to leave the room. Taking up his rush candle from the night before, the tiefling nodded to the woman watching the front door, and stepped outside. His shoulders clenched slightly as he looked around, but there was no one nearby to pay attention to him, and Hope relaxed, before making his way back to the orphanage.
  8. The South Gate of Cadara was a welcome sight in the predawn twilight. Standing as a tall, silent guardian, its portcullis barred entrance to the city, none permitted within during the night hours. A large stone wall ran the perimeter of the city, strong and tall. No monsters could breach the barrier, not that many had tried. Hope stared at the gate as the wagon pulled to a stop in front of it. They had ten minutes to wait before bells would ring, calling for the city to wake up. Pulling his cloak away from his hand, the tiefling grimaced at the sight of his bone. That damned ant had cut deep. The wound had finally stopped bleeding, but that was no comfort. Not when every bump, every motion made his hand scream in agony. It was all Hope could do not to let Elluin see his pain. He was not about to give the elf that satisfaction. “How do you propose to deliver your gold?” Elluin asked suddenly. “Honestly? I have no idea,” Hope replied. “There’s a halfling that has been stalking me. I assume she’ll find me.” “Well, before you give up all your money, perhaps it is best we collect a bit of gold for the Guild.” “Do you still expect me to join a Guild?” The tiefling turned on Elluin, a scowl on his face. “All I want to do is pay these bastards off and go back to life the way it was before I met you.” “Well then, perhaps you should keep some gold for the orphanage,” Elluin pressed, opening the chest. The elf scooped twenty gold into a pocket within his cloak. “Oh, and did I mention that as a member of the Guild, you’d be protected?” “And what is in it for you?” Hope demanded. “Why are you pushing me to the Guild?” “That fact that you are a danger to any and all around you while you remain untrained.” “If I am such a danger, why did you give me a book and a new spell to use?” Elluin scowled, Hope chuckling quietly. He finally had the elf stumped. The tiefling was worried though. Just once, he’d like to get through the day without someone trying to kill him. Today wasn’t likely to be his first day. “Hey, as long as I can laugh, I’m alive,” he shrugged, Elluin looking at him strangely. “Okay, let me get this straight. You were sent to Four Pines to pay for your own assassination, and you’re laughing?” “That sounds about right,” Hope said, listening as the city gate began grinding open. The wagon lurched forward, Hope swaying slightly. They were the first through the gates, Horton taking them through the city to the marketplace. Hope looked around the wagon nervously, half expecting the halfling to appear like a silent ghost. “I doubt this halfling even knows you are still alive.” The tiefling jumped, not expecting Elluin’s words. The mage laughed, shaking his head. “Well, what do you know, it is nice to start the day with a laugh,” he said. “I’m surprised you can laugh. I thought it was impossible for you,” Hope shot at him. Pulling up to the market, Horton jumped out of the wagon to start setting up for the day. “There. Our deal is done. Take your chest and get out of here,” he grunted. Hope gritted his teeth as he got out of the wagon, his hand burning in agony. Still, he refused to let Elluin see him hurt. “I got the trunk,” the elf said, lifting it over his shoulder. “Just show me where you want it.” “Up my arse would be nice. Wait, you mean the chest…” Hope grinned through the pain as Elluin rolled his eyes. The elf stopped in front of a stand, tossing a couple of gold at the vendor before grabbing a vial of something that looked like wine. “Drink,” he said, tossing the vial at Hope as the gnome in the potions stall scowled. Hope caught the vial in his uninjured hand, nearly crying as he flicked off the cap. Downing the potion in one swallow, the tiefling gagged, wincing as his hand began burning. A second later, he held up his hand again, the injury now no worse than a rather severe scrape. He could live with that. “Why?” he demanded of the elf. “As I said, you’re no use to me injured,” Elluin shrugged. “Thank you-” Elluin waved it off. “Now show me where you want this chest to go.” They wandered through the alleys of Cadara, Elluin feeling like there was a target on his back. Hope didn’t seem like he knew where he was going, and the elf swore the people they were passing knew exactly what he was carrying. Fuck, he should have taken extra gold as a hazard pay or something. The alleys were dark, dank, water dripping loudly from the roofs. The smell of refuse filled Elluin’s nose, Elluin grimacing as he nearly stepped in a fetid puddle. “Okay, I’m starting to realise why you might dislike the queen,” he muttered. “This isn’t even the worst part of the city,” Hope shrugged, scanning the area. Suddenly, the tiefling darted across the narrow alley they were in, leaping up onto a narrow window sill. He reached down as Elluin followed, hoisting the chest up until it was sitting on the roof of the building. “Where the fuck are you taking it?” Elluin panted as he pulled himself up the wall. “My quiet place. Well, one of them,” Hope said. “Ah yes, the place where you practice the art of charming random strangers.” “I’m not apologising again.” “Did you ever apologise?” Elluin snorted. Hope shrugged, moving across the wooden roof carefully. A board creaked under Elluin’s foot, the elf wincing again. “Step lightly,” Hope advised, stepping across a large hole in the roof. Elluin took a step around the hole, and the roof broke, his leg falling through. “What did I say?” Hope sighed, setting the chest down. He moved back to the elf, grabbing Elluin under the armpits so he could pull him out. “Fuck!” the elf snapped, his pants torn by a nail. It wasn’t a big deal. He was just a little upset about needing help from the tiefling. Elluin was so far out of his depth here it wasn’t even funny. Well, maybe it was funny to Hope. Somehow that thought only made the situation worse. “Okay, let’s try this again,” Hope said, lifting the chest. “Now, watch my feet, and step only where I step.” “I’m not a baby, I know how to walk,” Elluin growled. “Yes, and you’re doing a wonderful job of it so far,” Hope sighed. “Just follow me. We’re almost there.” The tiefling climbed up on another roof, the chest following quickly. Elluin shook his head in frustration, and not a little amazement. How Hope could be so at home this high above the ground was beyond him. The elf hoped the tiefling was right. He wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take. Climbing up the next building, Elluin nearly ran into Hope’s back. The tiefling was stringing his bow, the chest next to him. “What are you doing?” “Shh!” Hope scowled at the elf. “There are people in these buildings. If you talk too loudly, they will find out we are up here, and I will never be able to use this route again. And I’m stringing my bow. What does it look like I’m doing?” he hissed. “Why now?” “Because if that halfling comes looking for me, I want to be ready. And knowing the bitch writing all of this down, the halfling will most likely be waiting for us. Who the fuck knows how though.” “Fine. I’m taking the chest back,” Elluin sighed. He bent down to grab the gold, letting out a yelp as a crossbow bolt slammed into the chest inches from his hand. Standing, the elf unsheathed his sword, trying to find a steady stance on the slightly sloped roof. A halfling was walking toward them, reloading the crossbow in her hands. She ignored Elluin, her eyes glued to Hope. “You’re supposed to be dead.” “For the last time, I did not kill that gnome. Look, I have a chest of gold here. Can’t we come to an arrangement?” Hope asked, an arrow twitching nervously in his hand. “Sure. As long as it ends with me killing you slowly.” Elluin stepped forward, freezing as the halfling aimed at him. “Hey, come on, you don’t have to kill him,” the elf said soothingly. The halfling laughed. “Oh, so you have a friend of your own?” she sneered. The crossbow clicked, and Elluin fell backwards with a gasp, feeling like an orc had just punched him in the sternum. He heard a thump and felt a body roll into the chest. “Fuck… fuck fuck fuck… Elluin?” Hope was standing over him suddenly, the tiefling staring down at him in fright. Elluin grunted, reaching for his gut. His hands closed around a quarrel, and he wrenched it out of the chainmail, thanking Tyrma he had bought new gambeson a month ago. The missile had gotten caught in the padded armour, its tip barely scratching him. It still hurt like the ninth hell though. He wasn’t sure, but Elluin thought he might have a cracked rib. “I’m dead… I fucking killed her. The Guild is going to hunt me down…” Hope sobbed, falling back. “Fuck… I fucking killed someone…” Elluin winced as he sat up, The halfling was laying against the chest of gold, an arrow lodged in her throat. Her eyes stared blindly at Elluin, and the mage let out a disgusted grunt. “I’m fine,” he coughed, standing up. “Come on, let’s get out of here. No need to make the hunt easy.” He opened the trunk, taking the spellbook from within. That wasn’t part of whatever deal Hope had made. Grabbing Hope’s arm, the elf hoisted the teifling’s arm over his shoulder. Supporting the distraught fiend, the elf began trying to find a way off of the roof. It was strange, the things a person notices after a trauma. Hope’s eyes were glued to Elluin, to the way his back flexed as he moved the tiefling, the elf’s ass like a magnet for his eyes. His mind felt dead, unable to think of anything else. It made him feel vulnerable, and he hated it. He fell blindly against a rough wall, a gentle arm holding him up. Hope took a shuddering breath. When would it happen? Who would they send to do the job? He… no, Elluin, had killed the Guild’s poisoner, but there was no way Hope could deny killing the halfling. No amount of gold was going to fix this. “The gold, where’s the chest?” he demanded, pushing away from Elluin. Looking around, his heart sank. They were standing outside the orphanage, Elluin leaning against the wall with a frown. “What the fuck are we doing here? Why did you bring me here?” the tiefling snapped. “This is your home, isn’t it?” The words carried a bit of a bite to them, a hint of disgust at the elf being made to walk through the slums. Hope wanted to strangle Elluin. Couldn’t he see what he had done? “Yes, it is my home! I just killed a member of the Thieves’ Guild. If they track me here, do you know what they might do to my family?!” “Fine. I know where you’ll be safe,” Elluin said, straightening once more. The elf began walking away, stepping gingerly around piles of garbage. Sliding his bow into the quiver on his hip, Hope followed him. He already knew where this was going, but it wasn’t like the tiefling had much choice. If there was any chance the Mage Guild would help him, he had to take it. He was too worn out to even complain about what led him here, the being that had put the halfling in his way, who made him loose that arrow. It took nearly an hour for Elluin to find his way out of the slums, Hope remaining silent. The act made the tiefling feel like he had the tiniest bit of control, and he needed that now more than ever. As they left the darkness of Cadara’s shame, Hope took a nervous breath, looking around them. People paid no attention to them, busy with their own lives. Still, the tiefling made sure he kept the hood of his cloak over his head. “What in the Nine Hells did you do to piss off these people?” Elluin asked as they walked east toward the marketplace. “You remember the day we met? They took offence to my actions. Said they were too loud,” Hope muttered. “Then I made the mistake of trying to recover a ring-” “And a gnome died. The halfling’s friend?” “Apparently,” Hope sighed. “Look, can we… can we not talk about how many people I’ve watched die this week?” “I’m just trying to figure this out,” Elluin shrugged. “Honestly, you have a lot of fortitude, to still be kicking.” The tiefling felt a strange tinge of pride at Elluin’s words. It made no sense. Why the fuck did he care what the elf thought of him? “Ugh…” It was a fucking crush. Why him? Why couldn’t Hope just have a crush on a normal person, not an elf with a chip on his shoulder. “Hey! Tiefling!” Hope flinched, spotting a halfling with a crossbow on his back. This was it then. They were going to die here. He looked at Elluin, the elf watching the halfling with steely eyes. “Oh fuck all kinds of kobold,” the tiefling grunted. His hands grabbed the elf, turning Elluin to face him. Their lips met in a ferocious kiss, Elluin ripping himself away a moment later. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” the elf snapped, reaching for his sword. Hope shrugged, pulling out his bow. “One last kiss before I die?” he said. “Peace!” the halfling said. “I bring a message for you.” He tossed a bag at Hope, the tiefling dropping his bow to catch it. Looking at the sack in his hands, Hope found a piece of parchment stuck to the bag. “Our debt is paid…” he read out loud. “I don’t… I don’t get it. Was she not in the guild then?” The halfling was gone when he looked up, though Elluin still looked pissed. “You fucking kissed me?! What is your problem?!” “I thought I was about to die. Give me a break,” Hope said, opening the sack. “Nine Hells…” The sack was full of gold. He was holding a sack of gold. That had been given to him. Elluin smacked the tiefling’s back, rather hard. “You’re buying the drinks then,” he said. “What…?” Hope stared after the elf, Elluin walking toward a tavern. Fuck it, he could use a drink.
  9. Yeoldebard

    Meet the Parents

    It is a made up language. I've been using it for various stories, you can see it in my furry stories as well as this series.
  10. Yeoldebard

    Moving Fast

    Zachary stared at the napkin, the numbers dancing before his eyes. He was stuck at home, just waiting for something to happen. And it didn’t sit well with him. He didn’t want to read. Every time he turned on the telly he ended up turning it off again. The flat was too quiet, but if he made any noise, suddenly it seemed too loud. It wasn’t his first experience with depression, and it certainly wouldn’t be his last. The million pound question was whether or not he wanted to make this call. Talking had definitely helped him the night before. But now he felt Eric’s absence even more keenly. It felt like a void in his chest that could never be filled. Zachary wasn’t stupid; he knew this feeling would go away. It had before. But that didn’t help in the moment. “Sod it all,” he muttered, grabbing his phone. It didn’t take long for an answer. “This is David Enterai, how can I help you?” “Hey, this is Zachary, from the pub. I was wondering if you wanted to meet up for drinks. I’ll buy.” “I would love to get some drinks with you. I can pay for my own.” He could hear the minor amusement in the older dragon’s voice. “Oh, right. Sorry.” “When do you want to meet? And where?” “You know where the Hole in the Wall is. Why don’t we meet there? I really just need to get out a bit.” “Of course. I’ll meet you there in thirty minutes?” Zachary nodded. He could do that. “Sure,” he agreed. They sat at a table in the corner of the pub, both sipping at different drinks. Now that he had the elf here, Zachary had no idea what to say. They didn’t know each other, not really. It had been over a year since he had done this with Eric, and he was completely lost. “So…” he swallowed drily. “Look at us, both old and wise yet unable to start a simple conversation,” David chuckled. “At least, I’m assuming you’re old… Forgive me if I’m wrong.” “Old to some,” Zachary said. “And you are at least one hundred twenty years old, correct?” “Fuck… um, let’s see… thirty-six… yeah, I’m about a hundred seventy eight, give or take a couple years.” “You don’t know how old you are?” Zachary laughed. “To be fair, I stopped counting in 1895.” “Why would you stop…” Zachary noticed a flash of pain running through the other dragon’s eyes. “Nevermind,” he said quickly. “You lived in the nineteenth century? What was that like?” “What was the first sixty years of my life like? That is a tough question. It was rather chaotic, mainly because I refused to do anything my mother wanted me to. I didn’t meet my dad until last year actually. My family is kind of messed up because of him. Let’s see… I lived in Prussia for the first sixteen years of my life and left home as soon as I could, moving to America. I made my way west, briefly having my first sexual encounter with a rabbit named Johnathon. Though I’m not too certain he was my first. There’s a night at a pub where I got rather drunk on tequila, and met an Asian dragon when I was twenty… but I’m certain nothing came of it.” Zachary listened intently, the story fascinating him. Sure it was more of a summary than a story, but still, here was a living piece of history. “Certainly someone like you has had plenty of encounters,” he said. “Encounters, yes. Lovers, no. There was a horse in the early twentieth century, but we weren’t lovers. Hell, we didn’t even touch each other that way. He was just a really good friend.” “Was?” David nodded. “He was Jewish. And gay. The Nazis jumped on him as soon as they came to power. He tried to escape from one of their camps and they shot him in the back.” Zachary winced. “I killed der Arscheloch who pulled the trigger though,” David said, looking satisfied. “My tale isn’t nearly as violent. I am a bit of a recluse, generally staying home to read unless my mum drags me out of the flat. Met my first crush back in the nineties, but he didn’t feel the same way about me. Kind of ruined me for love until I met Eric. I know the whole ‘plenty of fish’ thing, and honestly I don’t give a fuck about that.” “How did you two get together?” Zachary shrugged. “It was supposed to be a hookup, but apparently neither of us got the memo. And neither of us had actually done anything with anyone else. I still haven’t to be honest.” “Not even when you went to a hookup?” David raised his eyebrows, his face becoming even sharper with the motion. “We are both tops, but that honestly didn’t bother me. I would have been fine never having sex,” Zachary said. David nodded, taking a drink. Their conversation lulled momentarily, Zachary trying to find something else to talk about. “Well, if anything ever happens between us, not that I’m saying it will, I can’t promise to give anyone my heart,” David said. “That has caused trouble for me in the past, so I’m putting it out there now.” “Last night you said you would rather have loved and lost. Did you change your mind so fast?” Zachary said. “Perhaps. Let me ask you something. If we got together, so soon after you broke up with Eric, and then I left you… Would you not be devastated?” “That depends on whether I can love you,” the British dragon challenged. David chuckled. “That is well answered my friend. The real question, then, is whether we are willing to try.” Zachary’s first instinct was to say, what did he have to lose. He thought about it though. The pain he felt right now, could he bear to go through that again? “But you are going back to America,” he mentioned. David waved it off. “We are dragons. Surely you have learned that we go where we want?” “Well, sure, I went to London once, but America?” “Has it occured to you that I might wish to extend my stay in your town? Keir ek nela tedarl feir eim uva tei laqueel.” Zachary blinked at the strange tongue, the mess of garbled words. “What?” “Have you not learned Rellanic from your parents? I thought all dragons knew it,” David replied. “I have never heard it before in my life.” “Oh. My apologies. I was saying that there is little binding me to America. Some friends that I could talk to through the internet, but that is all.” “Well, I suppose I’m game if you are,” Zachary said. “Do try not to abandon me in a month’s time though.” “I promise to wait at least two months,” David smirked. He invited David to his place. Zachary had no idea why he did. He was lonely? He wanted to keep talking without wasting money on overpriced spirits? It was something that had taken at least two dates for him to do with Eric. They were moving fast, and that spelled disaster for their relationship. If he could even call it a relationship. Two drinks and a life story. Did that count as a date? Regardless, here they sat on his couch, Zachary’s palms sweaty from nerves. “Relax. I’m not going to just up and fuck you,” David said. “I have some decency left in me. Unlike my dear father…” His eyes glanced at the mirror that was visible in the bathroom and he smirked. Zachary’s head swivelled but he couldn’t see anything in the mirror. “Sorry, I screw with my father a lot. Sort of payback for abandoning me for nearly two centuries.” “Er… okay?” Zachary swallowed drily. “So… if you didn’t want to… have sex, why did you agree to come over?” “I enjoyed our conversation earlier. I enjoyed talking to you. Do I need more reason than that?” He supposed not. It was nice to know there were no expectations. He may be a forty-eight year old virgin, but he wasn’t that desperate for sex. “Okay, tell me more about the dragon I have invited into my home.” “Let’s see, you know most of my life story… I’m a musician. My instrument of choice is the violin, but I have learned the guitar as well as the piano.” “Do you know the violin well?” “I could play Freebird, if I had the mind to. Sadly for some, I do not.” “Any classical pieces?” Zachary questioned. “I can show you, if you’d like.” A violin appeared in David’s hands and Zachary blinked. “A summoner,” he nodded appreciatively. “I’m more of… well, it’s hard to explain. I’ll show you sometime. But I’d never say no to good music.” Smiling, David plucked the strings, listening to the notes. Satisfied, he placed the bow to the strings and began playing. The room filled with the sound of the solo violin, an aria from Vivaldi. Zachary recognised it and enjoyed it. Lilting, intricate, the song flowed up and down in his ears, expertly played. He watched the elf play, David’s eyes closed in concentration. With but a moment's pause, the violinist switched songs, notes from Fingal’s Cave straining from his instrument. The music stopped, David taking a deep breath. “It would sound better with better acoustics, but…” “I liked it,” Zachary smiled. “I always thought it would be fun to play an instrument, but I’d probably be rubbish at it.” The violin in David’s hand vanished, replaced with a black violin a moment later. “You never know if you don’t try,” he said, handing the violin to the dragon. “Really?” Zachary took the violin from David, setting it against his shoulder as he had seen the elf do. “A little higher,” David said, lifting the body of the instrument. Zachary accepted the bow from the dragon, setting it against the string. The violin let out a shriek as he drew the bow across it, and the dragon winced. “See?” he said, handing the instrument back. “Rubbish.” “Well, of course. You haven’t learned to play yet. It took me a year to figure out how to get the violin to stop squeaking when I touched it.” David accepted the instrument. It vanished in his hands as he shrugged. “If you ever want to try again, let me know.” “Thanks. That’s closer than I ever thought I’d get to a violin to be honest.” “I’m glad I could help. But what about you? What do you do for fun?” Zachary thought for a moment. He really didn’t do anything as cool as playing the violin. “Just… reading, I guess. I really don’t get out much.” “What kind of stories do you enjoy reading?” “Uh… I enjoy Jane Austen…” “”Hmm. To be honest, I found her work boring. I preferred Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.” “Really?” He was surprised. Usually people thought he was nuts for enjoying books as much as he did. “How do you feel about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court?” he questioned. “Pure gold. That’s what got me started on Twain. I watched the world go through a lot of changes in my life. Honestly that book speaks to me on a personal level,” David replied. Zachary got a sudden thought. “Wait… You were alive when he was, weren’t you? Did you ever meet him?” David shook his head. “I was… rather preoccupied during that time of my life. I didn’t start reading his stories until near the 1920’s.” It was amazing, he was talking to someone who had been through two world wars, hell, had probably been alive during the Holy Roman Empire... “You are like a walking, talking history book…” he said excitedly. Zachary chuckled in embarrassment, looking down. “Sorry,” he said. “Don’t be. It’s refreshing to find someone who isn’t scared of my age,” David laughed. A gentle hand touched Zachary’s chin, lifting it until he was looking into David’s crystal blue eyes. Their lips were suddenly inches away. “May I?” David whispered. Silently, heart fluttering, Zachary nodded. This was fast, faster than he had expected. But maybe that was a good thing. David’s lips pressed softly against his, hand caressing Zachary’s cheek. The kiss was different from Eric’s, slower, gentler. He really needed to stop comparing things to the wolf. “Does this mean we’re together then?” he asked as they separated. “I believe so, yes,” David smiled. “Unfortunately, I need to leave for the night. I’m free in three days if you want to meet up again.” “Okay,” Zachary agreed, standing up with the dragon. He walked David to the door, the older dragon leaning in for another kiss. It was adorable how he almost seemed to ask permission with his eyes, and Zachary appreciated that David did not just assume he wanted the kiss. “I want to warn you that I can be a little blind to social cues,” David said quietly. “If I miss something, or you want me to do something, please let me know.” Zachary nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he said. They stood slightly apart, looking at each other quietly. “I should go,” David said finally. Zachary nodded, tearing his eyes from the older dragon. “I’ll see you in three days?” he asked. “I hope so.” Placing a small, chaste kiss upon Zachary’s lips, David opened the door and stepped out of the flat. Zachary watched him go, feeling oddly like a giddy schoolgirl. Was this right? It certainly wasn’t advisable to get into a relationship so soon after he had been dumped. Maybe David would just be a rebound. But Zachary didn’t think that was the case. Either way, the green dragon decided he would just enjoy the ride.
  11. Yeoldebard

    Night Riding

    Wagon wheels creaked in the night, the tiefling in the back of the cart scanning through the tall grass that waved on either side of the road. The rain that had been plaguing them all day and night was finally starting to let up, but it was too late, as far as the tiefling was concerned. Seven hours out of Kalen, Hope was cold, wet, and miserable. The moon was hidden behind thick clouds, and even Hope’s low-light vision had difficulty seeing more than a dozen metres away. The occasional flash of lightning did little to help the situation. They moved slowly along the road, the wheels sinking slightly in the fresh mud. Hope felt bad for their horses, the poor creatures struggling to pull them along. “The next time you want to fuck me over, do you think you could leave others out of it?” the tiefling muttered. He squinted suspiciously at the grass, spying a line of plants that was bending against the wind. Kicking Elluin awake, the tiefling strung his bow, certain some calamity was about to befall them. “What?” Elluin grumbled. “Something is moving in the grass.” Muttering quietly, Elluin sat up, his sword sliding out of its scabbard with a hiss. The elf looked out at the grass, scowling. “Okay, let’s see. Monsters in the plains… hyena, gnoll, goblin, wolf, tiger, ankheg…” he listed. “Great, just summon them all here,” Hope sighed, pulling out an arrow. The wagon wobbled suddenly, Hope falling into Elluin. The elf shoved the tiefling back as the cart straightened out, a large hole in the road behind them. “That settles it,” Elluin muttered. “It’s either a giant ant, in which case we’re fucked, or an ankheg, in which case we’re extra fucked.” “I doubt I’m going to enjoy this particular fucking. What are we going to do? You clearly know more about this than I do,” Hope said. A head rose from the hole as the cart moved away, Horton whipping the horses to make them move faster. The mud was still slowing them down, and Hope just knew there was no escaping from the creature that was climbing out of the ground. Antennae felt through the air, almost as though they were sniffing the wagon out. The giant insect’s head turned toward the wagon, large mandibles clacking loudly as the beast zeroed in on its prey. “Stop the wagon,” Hope said. “Are you fucking insane?!” Horton screamed. “He’s right,” Elluin replied. “We’re not escaping without a fight. You’re just going to injure the horses. Either we kill this thing, or we die.” “Then you kill it! I’m not sticking around waiting for death!” Scoffing in disgust, the elf jumped off the back of the wagon, Hope following him. The two stared at the giant ant as it scurried toward them with surprising speed. “What do we do?” Hope asked again, an arrow on the string of his bow. “I’m thinking!” Elluin snapped. He whispered a short arcane phrase, his sword taking on a slight gleam as the mage slid a hand down the blade. “Try to aim for the joints, if you can.” “You don’t suppose a giant foot will drop from the sky to save us, do you?” Hope joked weakly. The tiefling looked up at the sky, shaking his head. “Of course not. It would be way too easy…” Each step the ant took made a sucking sound, the mud under its feet slowing it slightly. Hope shivered slightly, nerves flooding him. He was dead. He was so dead. He couldn’t take it anymore. The tiefling drew his arrow back, loosing it quickly. The missile flew at the creature, bouncing off the thick exoskeleton that formed its armour. “Fuck!” Elluin stepped between Hope and the ant as the creature’s mandibles moved toward them. Plunging his blade between the ant’s jaws, the elf screamed as his arm was caught, a loud crunch following. Hope darted to the elf, grabbing the ant’s mouth. He fought with the creature, trying to free Elluin from its grasp. The elf stumbled back, his arm stained with his blood. Tears in his eyes, the mage gripped his sword in his free hand and struck again. The ant’s head fell off as Elluin’s sword cut through the thorax. The elf dropped, Hope falling beside him. “Elluin!” the tielfing gasped, grabbing the elf. Blood dripped from a cut in Hope’s hand, leaving a smear on Elluin’s body. A strange glow took over Elluin’s crushed arm, the elf crying out as his arm was healed. “Gods…” he said hoarsely. “How did you-” “I have no idea…” Hope replied, staring at the arm. It was still bruised, and the elf continued to wince as he moved it, but the arm was whole once more. Hope still held onto Elluin, the elf frowning slightly as he sat up. “You can let go of me now,” he said. Hope’s hands fell away as if he had been scalded. “We… uh, we better go catch our gold,” he said, face burning. Horton hadn’t gotten far. It was child’s play for Elluin and Hope to run after him. “You can slow down now!” Hope called, jogging beside the wagon. Elluin shook his head, watching Hope from the back of the wagon. He’d already pulled himself into the vehicle. Why the tiefling hadn’t done the same was beyond him. Not to mention how the tiefling had cast a healing spell. Elluin had heard the blood of a good outsider could cure wounds when infused with magic, but to have someone use the effect on him… He couldn’t deny he was a little creeped out. And his arm kept spasming in phantom pains, his body remembering the fiery agony of the ant’s bite. That had been a stupid move, sticking his sword in the creature’s mouth. It had been the closest weak spot though. Hope leapt into the wagon as Horton finally slowed. The tiefling grabbed his cloak, wincing slightly as he wrapped it around himself. “Are you hurt?” Elluin asked. Of course he was hurt. The blood of an outsider had to come from him. Elluin shook his head in disgust at his own question. “Where are you hurt?” he amended. “Why do you care?” The words stopped him cold. Why did he care? There was the logical; if the tiefling were injured, he’d be less effective if they had to fight again. Elluin decided to go with that. It certainly wasn’t because he was worried about Hope. He’d stepped between the tiefling and certain death because he was better equipped to handle a charging monster. “You’re no use to me injured.” “It’s just a scratch,” Hope waved off, his cloak rolled up around his hand. “Good. Get some sleep. I’ll take watch. That way we’ll have more than a minute’s warning next time.” “Fuck you. I gave us at least two minutes,” Hope scoffed, looking into the sky. “You didn’t strike him with some kind of mental issue, did you?” “What?” “Forget it,” the tiefling said, laying against a box. Elluin couldn’t forget it though. The way Hope spoke to the air… as though he was talking to a deity or something. “Are you a cleric?” Hope burst out laughing. “Fuck no! I want nothing to do with the gods!” he exclaimed. “I have plenty of issues without taking their problems upon myself.” “Surely you have a cause though.” “Sure I do. I’m very passionate about staying alive.” “And the elf at the orphanage?” “Who, Arran?” Hope asked. “He’s lived there longer than I have. Has the hots for Jeanne. I don’t see it happening though.” That told Elluin all he needed to know. Not that he didn’t know Hope loved the orphanage, but this cemented it in his mind. The tiefling was just being deliberately obtuse now. “And if you could leave it all behind?” Hope scowled at the elf. “What are you implying?” “Oh, come on, you’re a mage. The Guild would teach you all you need to know-” “All I need to know is how to put food on the table. And until you showed up, I was doing decent enough with that.” “Gods!” Horton snapped suddenly. “Can’t you two ever have a conversation without it turning into a fight?!” “No,” Elluin and Hope said at the same time. “Honestly, do you really think I could afford to join the guilds?” the tiefling demanded. “You can now,” Elluin replied, motioning to the chest. “Ten gold pays for entrance.” Hope grunted. “Look, I just fought a giant fucking ant. Do you think I could relax for, oh, I don’t know, ten minutes?” “I told you to sleep.” “And now you keep talking to me. So, how am I supposed to sleep?” “How about I club you in the head?” Horton called back. “That would probably do it.” Elluin shook his head. “By the way, I fought the giant ant. At best, the ant fought you,” he said. “Well, I healed your arm.” “Heal it better next time. I’m still bruised.” Elluin pulled out his sword, eyes studying the blade in the low light of the night. The weapon was only slightly stained with ant guts, and the elf sighed, pulling out a cloth. He began wiping the blade down, cleaning it as much as he could. When the runes were visible once more, Elluin set his cloth back in his bag. Hands running over the blade, the elf tried to settle into a meditative mindset. The magic in the runes was complicated, compacted as it was, and it could be difficult to comprehend the spells occasionally. “Oh, now you’re going to pray to your sword?” Hope scoffed. “No, I’m studying my spells. We can’t all be freaks of nature like you. Now shut the fuck up and go to sleep,” Elluin growled. “Promise me you aren’t going to gut me in my sleep.” “I’ll make no such promise.” “Well, at least make it painless.” The elf grunted, trying to focus on his runes. A moment later, Hope let out a sigh, rolling onto his side. His tail flicked, gently running across Elluin’s trousers. Elluin grabbed the tail between his fingers, moving it away from his leg roughly. The tiefling chuckled. “Look, if we have to fight more of those fucking ants, I’m sure you’d appreciate a few spells on our side,” Elluin snapped, glaring at him. “Leave me alone.” “Fine,” Hope sighed, reaching for his spellbook. His cloak slipped from his hand, a large gash appearing in his palm. Elluin looked at the injury, Hope challenging him to say something with a glare. Just a scratch, his ass. If the tiefling didn’t get that healed, he might lose the hand. The elf grunted, shaking his head. He turned back to his blade; there was nothing he could do for Hope. Maybe when they got back to Cadara he could drag the tiefling to a temple. Until then, Hope would just have to deal with the injury.
  12. The drive through the mountains was made in painful silence, Jordan thinking of the time he had spent as Blanche’s employee. She had been one of the nicest people he knew. Was she dead because he had come out as a wolf? The very thought was unbearable. He didn’t want to turn on the radio to drown out his thoughts though. It felt disrespectful to the dead. No, suffering in silence seemed the right way to handle this. As soon as that thought came into his head, Lysander’s phone began ringing, the cheerful tones of an Elven folk song playing through the car. The elf tugged the phone out of his pocket, handing it to Jordan as the car turned along the road. “Hello?” “Hi, is this Lysander?” He recognised the voice of Ryan Corius on the other end of the phone, the wolf sounding grim. “No, he’s driving at the moment. This is Jordan.” “Okay, can you pass along a message for me, please? There have been a lot of wolf-related crimes lately. I am advising that all wolves leave the pack complex with another wolf if you have to go out.” “Yeah, I can tell him that. Do they know who’s behind it?” “At this point, we’re thinking it’s a gang of anti-wolf terrorists. They’ve been working to get the king to ban wolves from the city for years.” “And so they start burning shit down and murdering people…” Jordan growled. “It was only a matter of time before things got violent. If confronted by any of them, just walk away. Do not go picking a fight.” “I understand. And I’ll make sure Lysander does as well.” “Good. And Jordan? I am officially granting you and your mate the protection of the North Astaran pack.” “Thank you,” Jordan said, the phone going dead as soon as the words left his mouth. He wasn’t sure what protection the pack could offer if any of them got in trouble, but at least they had someone behind them. “So, Ryan is encouraging everyone leaving the complex to travel in a group,” he said, setting the phone on the dashboard. The elf nodded, passing a truck carefully. “I don’t know that I want you and Damian working right now,” he said. “Someone was at the bake sale yesterday. Someone had to be if this is wolf-related.” “I did see someone leering at Damian, but he isn’t a wolf.” “Yet. We’re about thirty minutes from Ceos.” “Should we stop for dinner?” “Well, we’ll probably have to change Dylan soon. I’ll call my esul and see what she suggests. There’s a rest stop just up ahead,” Lysander said. The mountain air was chilly, Jordan’s arms filling with goosebumps almost as soon as he stepped out of the car. Damian silently made his way to the restroom, Jordan unbuckling Dylan so the neko could be changed. “Etul? Neya, enu ek geyn du enarl ey. Nela, zi avor sutalan, eim lanela. Zi avor deculo Mydara, teren zi eguln aenfer zi gelu keir?” Lysander asked into his phone. Jordan looked down at Dylan with a small smile. “You know, you are going to be one spoiled kid,” he said. “You have three dads who love you, an entire pack who will probably look out for you… I kind of envy you.” “Sutalan, zi eln aen keir falv. Geyn yal Etul.” Lysander hung up as Jordan pulled Dylan’s clothes back on the neko. “My esul is making an early dinner for us so we have plenty of time to talk before the moon hits,” he said. “How are you doing?” Jordan shrugged, his hand closing over the amulet that hung from his neck. “Why are people dying around me? Who’s next? You? Damian? Is this all that I will have to remind me of my love?” he demanded, holding up the necklace. “It isn’t your fault. None of this is. And you shouldn’t think that it is. Whoever this is seems to have gotten it into their mind that they should hunt all wolves, not just you.” “She wasn’t even a wolf. That’s what I don’t get. Did they kill her just because she ran a store where wolves were welcome?” “I don’t know. And we can drive ourselves crazy wondering why an innocent woman was murdered without ever figuring out the reason. That isn’t really a road I want to go down.” Lysander let out a quiet sigh, leaning against the car. “I did my share of wondering after Jacob’s murder. I don’t want to go back there. I would much rather remember Blanche Reyla as she was, a kind-hearted woman who meant a lot to both you and Damian.” Jordan picked up Dylan, bouncing him lightly in his arms. The neko gurgled quietly, the wolf wiping drool from his mouth. Damian approached them, his eyes red and blotchy. “Come here mei Kalael,” Lysander said, taking the neko in his arms. “I love you both. You were here for me with Sara, and I’m here for you now.” “I just… I can’t believe she’s gone…” Damian hiccoughed. “She was so nice to us.” Lysander just held his mate, letting Damian get all his grief out. An hour later, they pulled up to a large house, Jordan and Damian staring at the building in surprise. Kneeling in the front yard, an elf was pulling weeds, separating dandelions from the rest of the grass. He stood up at the sound of the car, his amber skin glowing in the mid-afternoon sunlight. “Lysander, mei serael!” he called with a smile as Lysander stepped out of the car. Jordan followed Lysander out of the car, standing nervously beside Damian, who ducked into the car to get Dylan’s bassinet out. He had never met his lover’s parents before. And meeting the parents of one of his mates seemed even worse than meeting a normal lover’s parents. “Ek tel mei sael serael?” “Neya. Etul, this is Jordan and Damian,” Lysander introduced. “And this is our son.” The older elf peered into the bassinet, staring at Dylan with a big grin on his face. “He is adorel,” he announced in a thick accent. “It is a pleasure to meet both of you.” “You as well, Evuna,” Jordan said with a slight head bow. “Mei areula is getting krieguln ready,” the elf added, motioning toward the front door. Jordan helped Lysander pull their bags out of the car and followed Damian into the house. They found themself in a short hall, a staircase straight ahead. Two openings sat on either side of the hall, and a third led to a back door beyond the stairs. “Esul? Zi avor enarle!” Lysander called. “Eim me erl te egulen!” a high pitched voice replied, coming from the room to their right. Jordan turned to Lysander’s father as his mates went into the room. “Where would you like me to put our bags?” he asked. “We made a room for ey ena. Follow me.” The man followed the elf upstairs and into a room with a nice view of the mountains and a rather small bed. He wasn’t sure the three of them would fit in it, but Jordan supposed they’d handle that problem when they got to it. “Terna ey,” he said with a small nod toward the elf, setting the bags beside the bed. “You are welcome. Has mei serael been treating you well?” “He’s been amazing,” Jordan replied honestly. “Geyn. We never thought he would find his mate this early. And to be av etul at this age too. It is not believable.” “Yeah, I was rather surprised by it too. We love our little Dylan though.” “You are very kind to put up with his evoen.” “His what?” The elf frowned. “His… other person? The neko. I do not know what Lysander is thinking, living with him.” “Sir, Damian is his mate,” Jordan said. “And if anyone is responsible for Damian living with us, it’s me.” “He is not seidur. Nekos can not have mates. It is not reina.” “Sei ek mei areula.” Jordan spun around. Lysander was standing in the door, glaring at his father. “Serael-” “Eim areul sei avan eim areul Jordan. Ey eln weirlen san du vey belev,” Lysander growled. “Eyn esul veig eim eto skeil ek geyn-” “Apologise!” Jordan flinched at Lysander’s yell, his mate slapping his hand on the wall. “Cal nela weirlen du eim aral tel-” Lysander pushed past Jordan, grabbing the bags the man had just set down. “Get Damian and Dylan. We’re leaving,” he said. They drove in silence through the city, neither Damian nor Jordan wanting to disturb Lysander. The elf was pissed, and it scared Jordan, so much so that the human was the one behind the wheel, his mate glowering in the seat beside him. “Turn here,” Lysander growled. Jordan frowned at the gated complex, a sign proclaiming the place the Esan Seidur Heyno. “Is this a pack-” “It is a pack house. We’ll request sanctuary here for a night. They’ve offered it to me before.” His tone made it clear he would not allow an argument. And looking up at the sky, Jordan figured they had at best one more hour before they wolfed out. He certainly didn’t know the city like Lysander did. Pulling up to the guardhouse, Jordan frowned as Lysander got out of the car. The elf walked around to the guardhouse, talking with an elf inside. A minute later, he reentered the car, closing the door with a quietness that worried Jordan. “Pull up to the third spot from the wall.” Jordan did as he was told, shutting off the car. They sat quietly for a moment, no one moving. “Lysander?” Damian said nervously. “No Damian, I’m not blaming you for this. You are both my mates,” the elf sighed heavily. “I’m sorry for bringing you two out here. It was a mistake.” “Where are we going?” Jordan asked. “They offered us a room for the night. You and I will wolf out in the bathroom, and when we are able, we’ll drive home.” “I thought rooms were for pack members.” “My parents are members,” Lysander said. “Letting me stay here is considered a courtesy to them.” The elf’s phone rang, the sound filling the car. He leaned against the window, ignoring it. “Your mother-” Damian started. “Mei esul stood there without saying a word as we left,” Lysander said sharply. “She didn’t ask us to stay, didn’t say anything to mei etul-” “So you say she’s guilty by association,” Jordan said. “I don’t want to talk about this! Why are you pushing it?” “Because I always thought you had a good relationship with your parents. I don’t have that. And I wouldn’t want you to throw that away,” Jordan replied. “He insulted Damian, and he would not apologise to him. I don’t care if he’s my etul, I will not let him get away with that!” A cry pierced through Lysander’s words, Dylan deciding he’d had enough of the loud voices. Damian lifted his son out of his seat, trying to soothe him quietly. “Don’t you care that our mate was attacked?” Lysander said. “Yes, and if I hadn’t been a guest in your parents house, you can bet I would have been harsher with my words. I guess I picked up a little restraint from you,” Jordan replied quietly. Lysander’s phone rang again, and the elf sighed, pulling it out of his pocket. He stared at the screen for a moment as it rang, his finger hovering over it. Finally he answered. “Skeil?” Jordan opened the car door, motioning for Damian to follow him outside. They stood away from the car, Damian bouncing Dylan gently in his arms. “You don’t seem that upset by this,” Jordan observed. “Why would I be? I know we’re probably not true mates,” Damian shrugged. “Why would you say that?” “Jordan, do you remember when you saw Lysander? You instantly knew he was your mate. You only claimed me as a mate because I would have been homeless if you hadn’t. His father was right.” “Damian…” “No, I know you love me Jordan. I love you too. I just… don’t think we were fated for each other.” Jordan reached for the necklace he hadn’t removed since Damian gave it to him. This sounded like the neko was breaking up with him, and it hurt. “Are you leaving us?” Damian’s eyes widened. “No! Not at all!” he said quickly. “I couldn’t bear to leave you. I’m just saying that you and Lysander seem to have a bond that we don’t.” “Listen Damian, I’m only going to say this once. I claimed you as my mate. That makes us mates. And we do not need any magic wolf shit to make it true,” Jordan said quietly. “You are my mate because I love you. I love Lysander because he is my mate. Neither one of you will ever have any less of my love than the other.” The car opened suddenly, Lysander stepping out with a sigh. He looked up at the sky, then back at his mates. “Mei esul kicked him out of the house until he apologizes. She says we are all welcome there,” he said. “If we are quick, we can make it back before the moon rises.” “Is that what you want?” Damian asked. “At this point, I have no idea. But it would be better than going back to Astara tomorrow,” the elf shrugged. “Let’s drive then,” Jordan said.
  13. He heard the footsteps echoing through the empty ship. Lian was kneeling in the cabin, scrubbing the remnants of the night before off the wall. His ass was sore, a sweet, throbbing pain that reminded him of his soul’s love. The bite marks on his neck and collarbone were displayed prominently, as was his necklace. He was Itumak’s Daknar, and he was proud of it. Itumak shuffled backward into the cabin, a large bed in his hands. A cream coloured Egaro carried the other end of the bed, the two turning to set the mattress in the recess that had been set up for it. “Thanks,” the neko smiled. “Any time,” the Egaro replied, stepping out of the room. Itumak stretched briefly, his back crackling. Setting a hand on Lian’s shoulder, he looked at the wall. “That looks good enough to me,” he said. “We don’t want to lose the entire smell.” Lian stood up silently, a small smile on his face. Itumak’s obsession with smell was so strange, but it was one of those quirks that made him so loveable. “Are you smirking at me? Oh, you are so going to get it,” Itumak grinned, grabbing the Daknar. Lian yelped as he was thrown at the new bed, Itumak climbing on top of him. They stared at each other, Itumak’s tail flicking behind him. With a smile, the neko pulled Lian’s arms over his head, leaning down to kiss his dragon. Three small taps hit the inside of Lian’s wrist, Lian responding instantly. “We have our own home…” Itumak whispered to him. “Our own bed. No one can ever take this away from us.” Lian smiled at the words. They had made it, and he was so happy for Itumak. No, for them both. The neko always stressed that they were in this together. What belonged to Itumak also belonged to Lian. He had never owned anything before. Sitting up, Itumak smiled at his mate, reaching for the tablet he had left near the bed. “So, we have the bed. What should we do next?” “Can we get some lights?” Lian asked quietly. “Yeah, that probably would be a good idea. And a recycler too. Why don’t you go start scrubbing out the kitchen while I see about getting some lights from Lieutenant Zoe?” Lian nodded, sliding off the bed. Grabbing a cloth, the Daknar paused, Itumak’s hand at his chest. “I love you,” his mate said, kissing him gently. “I love you too.” He still shivered when he spoke the words, having to remind himself constantly that it was okay to love the neko. Itumak wanted him; they were bound together through their souls. The Maker had made it so. Itumak rubbed Lian’s ass with a smile. “If you do well, maybe I’ll give you a reward,” he said. Lian chuckled nervously. He knew Itumak wasn’t afraid to withhold sex from him, as part of their play. It added a sense of excitement to their love for the neko, and though it had taken Itumak a bit to warm up to their play, Lian felt like the neko had finally learned to really enjoy it. “I’ll make sure the bathroom is clean,” he promised. Itumak set the light bar into the fixture, letting out a little grunt of victory. That was… ten down? Only another fifteen to go, most of them in the cargo bays. He’d save those for last. The neko stretched painfully. He had been working for nearly twelve hours, and yet he wasn’t even halfway done. At least there was light in the main hall and the cabin now. Stomach grumbling, he carried the remaining lights to the cargo bay before making his way to the bathroom. The place was shining in the new light, every surface spotless. Itumak smiled even as he wondered where Lian had gone off to. It wasn’t like the Daknar to roam without telling him. “Lian?” he called loudly, stepping out of the bathroom. “Lian?” Feet pounded through the ship, the Daknar nearly colliding with Itumak. “Eyli, Master,” Lian gasped, standing rigidly before Itumak with his head down. The neko frowned, raising Lian’s chin. “Hey, relax,” he said gently. “I’m not going to hurt you.” He took Lian’s hand, tapping it lightly. The Daknar tapped back, his body relaxing slightly, though he still looked a little panicked. “I just wondered where you were.” “I’m sorry,” Lian breathed, trembling slightly. “Think nothing of it.” Itumak stroked the dragon’s chin lightly, scratching that spot on his mate that always seemed in need of a good itching. Lian whimpered quietly, tilting his chin up further so Itumak could get better access to him. “Where were you?” the neko asked conversationally. “Cleaning the kitchen area.” “Oh. Thank you. I put in an order for the food replicator and the recycler. They should be here tomorrow. And the bathroom looks amazing.” He smiled as Lian seemed to glow with pride at the comment. His mate still had unresolved issues with his life as a slave, but Itumak felt he was getting better at keeping the past in the past. “I thought we could go out and see how the locals eat,” he suggested. Lian nodded slowly, his eyes half-lidded. Itumak let his hand move to the dragon’s cheek, his thumb stroking tenderly. “Or perhaps you would rather stay here and cuddle. What do you think?” Lian hesitated momentarily, Itumak giving him an encouraging smile. “You’re hungry. We should eat,” the Daknar said. “As long as that is what you want.” His nod was all Itumak needed. Lian poked uncertainly at the food on his plate. He had never seen anything like the black, hard-shelled creature before. They called it astakós, and he had no idea how he was supposed to eat it with the strange tool the server placed beside his plate. “Like this,” Itumak smiled, taking the creature in his hands. He snapped it in half with a loud crack, Lian gasping in shock. “You killed it…” “No, it was already dead,” Itumak explained. “You just have to get the meat out now.” The Daknar stared at the broken creature in Itumak’s hands, tears welling in his eyes. “Lian… Did- do Daknar not eat meat?” the neko asked. Lian shook his head. “But you ate it just fine on Eyrel. And Gaia.” “That was meat?” Itumak let out a quiet sigh. “Okay… uh… give me a second.” Lian sank in his seat as Itumak waved a server toward them. He hadn’t meant to upset the neko. “I can eat-” “No, don’t,” Itumak said, moving the plate away from his mate. An Egaro stopped beside them, a smile on her face. “Can I do something for you?” “Yeah, uh, I know this is a water world, but is there any… non-meat food that my mate can eat?” The Daknar’s face turned bright blue, his eyes staring at the table in shame. “Oh, certainly!” the Egaro replied. “Egara actually has plenty of space for agriculture. It often surprises visitors.” She handed Itumak a menu, pointing toward a small section near the back. “Oh. I completely missed this,” the neko frowned. “If you are new to Egaran foods, I would suggest the briam. It is baked lachaniká with a delicious sauce.” “That’s okay with you, Lian?” Lian nodded quickly, nearly begging Itumak with his eyes to spare him another lengthy search through the menu. “I’ll get right on it,” the Egaro smiled, taking the astakós away. “I’m sorry,” Lian said quietly. “No, I’m sorry,” Itumak replied. “Fuck, we’ve been together for two years and I had no idea you didn’t eat meat. No wonder you keep saying that your stomach hurts. You weren’t designed to eat it.” “I could have eaten it though.” “No. I saw that look on your face Lian. There was no way you would be able to eat it. And I’m not about to let you starve,” Itumak denied, reaching across the table. Lian moved his hand so the neko could take it, Itumak stroking it gently. “I know you are still insecure with the universe. But I thought you knew you could tell me anything. And I mean anything. If you don’t like the food you’re eating, if you’re too cold or warm, if I smell bad…” The Daknar laughed at the thought. “Your happiness means the universe to me, Lian. I love you, and I would do anything for you.” “I don’t deserve-” “You do,” Itumak said sharply. “Fuck, you deserve all I have to offer and more.” The Egaro returned, setting a plate of sauce-covered vegetables before Lian. The Daknar thanked her quietly, picking up a two-pronged fork. He took a bite of the new meal, his mouth exploding in flavours. “Is it good?” Itumak asked. Lian nodded, taking another bite. Satisfied, the neko copied him, returning to his own meal. They walked through the cool night air together, low street lights illuminating the roads. Itumak was impressed at the lack of cars on the roads. It seemed everyone walked to where they needed to be if they didn’t use boats. Egaro glanced at them with cursory interest as they passed. A door to a tall, ornately built building opened, a guttural cry following a man outside. “Sounds like someone’s night just got made,” Itumak chuckled, glancing over at the door. “You know, Egaro have it pretty good. But I’d rather have you.” Pausing on the bridge before the Fleet complex, Itumak turned to Lian. The Daknar frowned slightly, turning to look out at the ocean. “Do you want to visit them?” Lian asked quietly. “A porneio? I hadn’t thought of it,” Itumak said, placing a hand on Lian’s shoulder. “I am happy with you. Why would I seek another lover?” “Because I am broken. I can’t be strong for you.” “I don’t need you to be. You are perfect just the way you are.” The Daknar set a hand over his chest, covering his Bondstone. Itumak’s eyes widened at the motion. “Oh. You miss Thaelin.” He felt horrible. Here he was, just going about his life while his mate was pining for his lost love. And Itumak hadn’t even given it a second thought. “I’m really screwing up tonight, huh?” Lian shook his head. “I love you Lian. I really do.” Itumak sighed, resting his head against the dragon’s shoulder. “We could go find her, you know. But I wouldn’t have the money to set her free.” “I know. That’s why I didn’t ask,” Lian said quietly. “She’s probably still on Gariin.” “I’ll figure out how to get her.” “You already have a lot you’re dealing with-” Itumak turned to the Daknar with a small frown. “Lian, we’re mates, and Thaelin is part of your soul. Don’t you think she’d also be part of mine? I want to find her too. I feel horrible that I hadn’t thought of her until now. I swear I will do my best to find her. But we need to get the credits for her first.” “Thank you…” Lian murmured. “Of course. I would do anything to make you happy,” Itumak said, kissing his mate. “Come on, let’s get home.”
  14. Yeoldebard


    Lian dropped the bucket of dirty water into the recycler, listening to the buzz of the machine as it broke down the components of the water. He and Itumak had been working all day, not even taking a break for lunch. Lian had learned long ago that when Itumak set his mind to something, nothing was going to get in his way. It was a quality he admired in the neko, one of the things that connected them beyond the sharing of their souls. He remembered the days Itumak had spent as a cadet, cleaning the ships of corporals. Most of them hadn't been as bad as this one, but then, Lian supposed most of them hadn't been in storage for over a year. The neko had been busy then, even more so than he was over the past year. It was hard to learn when you had to help others with simple things such as scrubbing the walls of a ship. The Daknar walked quickly back to Itumak's ship, finding the neko sitting at the top of the ramp, swinging his feet as he scanned his tablet. "Cheapest bed is fifty credits, and we can get it here tomorrow," Itumak said as Lian approached. "It says it's a three Egaro bed, so it should be big enough." "A three Egaro bed is the cheapest?" "Well, I kind of excluded smaller beds. Oh, and I want to get our food creator early, so we can start adding to it. That's going to be at least three hundred credits. We have an engine, but I have no idea if it works. And I want a health pod, so that's another five hundred credits." Lian sucked in a breath at the mention of the food. They had agreed, not without a little arguing, that their food machine needed to be new, to avoid accidentally poisoning themselves with unknown foods. Itumak had admitted that he still had thoughts about the time he had accidentally poisoned Lian with merlo. The Daknar hadn't thought about that in ages. It had been a mistake, and he was over it. "We'll have to see if we can bolt down the bed," he said, trying to take his mind off the food. "We should be able to," Itumak shrugged. "What I want to figure out is if we need to add an AI before or after most of the renovations." "How did you do it with Artemis?" "He didn't use an AI," Itumak shrugged, typing on his pad. "He always said he preferred to do everything manually. Okay, so apparently it's after because you have to hook it up to all the right systems and that requires those systems be in one piece... That makes sense." Lian glanced up at the setting sun, trying to gauge how much time they had before dark. It was always a difficult judgement on a new world. “Do you think we should get ready for bed soon?” he asked uncertainly. “Hmm?” Itumak followed the Daknar’s look, frowning at the sun. “Oh. I didn’t realise it was so late,” he said. “The main cabin is clean. I don’t mind sleeping on the floor if you don’t.” Lian shook his head with a small smile. As long as he was with his soul, he would sleep anywhere. Their lips met in a storm of passion, Itumak shoving Lian against a wall. He couldn’t wait for a bed; he needed to take the Daknar now. It would help with the stench of cleaning supplies too. Especially if he managed to coat every surface of the ship with Lian’s emissions. Gods, that sounded like such a good plan. Lian whimpered quietly, Itumak forcing his tongue into the Daknar’s mouth. Hands scrabbled desperately, tugging off clothing that only got in the way of their love. “Suck me,” the neko demanded, pushing Lian to his knees. The Daknar’s mouth wrapped around Itumak’s rod, his hands reaching around to push the neko deeper into his mouth. Itumak let out a loud moan, thrusting roughly. Lian choked, but the neko kept going. He knew Lian could take the punishment. Lian’s scales deepened to a dark red as Itumak pulled out of his mouth with a plop, tilting the Daknar’s head so Lian had to look at him. “Who’s my handsome dragon?” he whispered. “I am…” “I am going to fuck you so hard.” “Yes please.” The Daknar shivered as Itumak yanked him back to his feet, the werewolf shifting so he still towered over his mate. “Beg me for it.” He wouldn’t have to beg hard. Itumak wanted Lian, wanted inside him. But it was the game they played, the game they enjoyed. The neko had never thought a former slave would enjoy being submissive. Artemis had certainly opened his eyes. “Fuck me.” He slapped Lian’s hand away from his dick, a primal growl escaping his maw. “Mine…” The Daknar poked into his gut, dripping from a rod that was rock hard. Itumak grumbled appreciatively. Lowering his mouth to Lian’s collarbone, the werewolf bit at his mate, teeth pressing marks into the Daknar’s scales. Lian let out a yelp, his head squirming against Itumak’s. When Itumak started to pull away, the Daknar pulled him closer. “Mark me…” he gasped. “Such a good dragon…” Itumak’s teeth bit into his mate again, leaving an impression on his scales that would remain for most of the day. “Turn,” he growled, Lian hurrying to comply. The Daknar set his hands against the wall, his tail sticking between Itumak’s legs. With a slight crunch, Itumak shifted back into his neko form, positioning himself carefully. They had discovered early on that Lian couldn’t handle him in his wolf form. Not one to cause his mate pain when it was not welcome, Itumak was ever mindful of taking the Daknar in his smaller form. Lian’s thick tail pressed into Itumak’s thigh, the scales scratching his body every time he moved. Itumak liked to think of it as Lian’s way of pushing back, ensuring neither of them went too far in their roughness. His rod poked against Lian’s entrance, the neko standing on his toes to reach the hole. Gripping Lian’s hips, Itumak pushed into his mate, Lian letting out a low moan as the wolf breached him. He couldn’t get far into Lian in this position, but Itumak didn’t care. He found other buttons to push when he couldn’t hit the spot inside his mate. Like his hips. Lian loved having his hips clenched, Itumak massaging them as he moved inside the Daknar. Nails dug into the fleshy spots, Lian’s scales not protecting the area. He let out a moan, nearly collapsing against the wall, As the Daknar’s knees buckled, Itumak was able to push deeper into him, thrusting with near torturous slowness. Itumak’s rod grew, his knot binding Lian to him. With a deep sigh of contentment, the neko shot into his mate, quick spurts of his seed coating Lian’s insides, filling the Daknar with Itumak’s scent. Lian’s eyes fluttered close and Itumak felt the weight of his mate settle more fully on him. “You like that, huh,” he whispered into Lian’s ear. “You like having me take you. Taking my seed.” “Yes, Master…” Lian breathed, the only time Itumak let him get away with calling him that. “My dragon likes his master’s seed,” the neko continued, pressing against Lian further. His jaw bit into the Daknar’s back, not an easy feat. Lian let out a hiss, dipping his head as his body arched. Itumak’s knot kept them bound to each other. His mate was going nowhere. “Do you want your master’s pleasure?” the wolf growled. “Yes, Master,” Lian nearly begged. Reaching around him, Itumak took the Daknar’s rock hard dick in his hand, stroking him slowly. His mate tried to thrust into his hand, the motion pulling Itumak with him. Itumak hissed as he was pulled back onto his toes, his calves screaming from the unexpected exercise. Lian let out a moan as his ass felt the tug of Itumak’s knot trying to stay in him. He dropped back down again, and Itumak continued his stroking. “Yeah, my dragon loves his master…” “I do… I love you…” Lian gasped out, his ass clenching around Itumak. With a prolonged groan, the dragon let his own seed loose, plastering the wall in front of him with his essence. With a smile, Itumak scooped some off his lover’s dick, slipping it into his mouth. The tangy essence of his mate filled his mouth, Itumak moaning appreciatively. “Melur…” the neko breathed, carefully lowering the two to the floor. His signal that they were finished, that he was ready to hold Lian as his mate, not his master. It was a way for them both to get what they wanted, and it had worked well ever since they had begun using the word. His knot softened slowly, finally slipping from Lian. The neko continued to hold his mate, his body growing into his wolf form so he could cuddle the larger Daknar more easily. They would clean up in the morning. For now, Itumak just wanted to be with his soul.
  15. In this sequel to The Alliance, Itumak is happy with his life. He has a mate he loves and a new ship of his own to work on. But his mate is not as happy. Two years ago, Lian lost part of his soul. And while he has found another part in return, his heart still yearns for his lost love. Though he remains quiet to avoid hurting the neko who has given him his heart, the dragon can't hide his feelings forever.
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