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Yeoldebard

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  1. Galen opened the door to the room, stepping inside swiftly. He cleared his throat, nerves building slowly as he looked over the other two Egaro. They were both perfect, and he couldn’t believe he got to be naked with them both. This had to be the best day of his life to this point, and Galen was scared something was going to happen. There was no way he could be this lucky. “Galen, relax. Hagan, could you give me a moment with Galen? He’s new to this, and I want to make sure he understands his role today,” Iason said. “I promise your time will not start until we are all prepared.” The other tiger nodded, his husky voice almost purring as he looked them over. “Take your time Kýrie.” Iason set a hand on Galen’s shoulder, guiding the younger tiger toward the shower. “I know you are worried. Don’t be. Hagan is harmless, even in heat. I’m going to tell you what to do, okay? If things go wrong, not that they will, there is a red button beside the bed. Pressing it will alert Aedan that one of us needs help. Because this is your first time, I will make sure we take it slow.” Galen nodded silently, glancing at the other Egaro. “Do you know the colour code?” “Yes, the porneos in Delphi used it.” “Good. At regular intervals, no more than two minutes apart, you will check in with us. Tell Hagan to give you a colour, and then give me your colour. Understood?” The Egaro nodded again, Iason smiling. The white tiger kissed Galen on the cheek before nudging him back toward their client. “Hagan, please tell us why you are here,” he said. “Kýrie. I want someone to use me, to teach me the meaning of respect,” the Egaro replied, the slightest hint of a challenge to his voice. “Galen will teach you, under my command. Is that acceptable agóri?” “Yes Kýrie.” “Good. Galen, thirty minutes on the timepiece please. Agóri, you will remove my clothes.” Galen turned toward the timer, setting it up as he heard the soft thump of fabric hitting the floor. The timer started with a soft beep, and a soft hiss filled the air. Turning back, the Egaro frowned at the sight of Iason holding Hagan’s jaw as the other tiger knelt. “Galen, agóri tried to remove my peplos with his teeth. Is that respectful?” the older tiger asked. “No,” Galen said, his ears pricking up slightly as he watched the two. “Would you please show agóri what happens when he treads too far with our commands? A single slap should suffice for now.” The blue tiger approached Hagan, glancing at Iason. Iason nodded to him, and Galen stepped around the kneeling tiger. He let his hand caress Hagan’s rear, feeling out the thickest part, finding a spot that would hopefully hurt the least. His hand slapped the tiger’s butt, the sound echoing through the room. Hagan yelped, his head trying to dip in Iason’s grip. “Give Galen a colour,” Iason said. “Green Kýrie,” Hagan said, his rod visibly straining through his peplos. Iason looked up at Galen, the blue Egaro adding, “Green.” “Good. Now agóri. Remove my clothes,” Iason commanded again. “Galen, prepare the shower, and we’ll get the party started. Galen stepped back toward the shower, pulling his clothes off. He set the water on warm, testing it briefly. He could smell Hagan’s heat, but the scent was far too strong for one Egaro. “Skatá…” Turning his head, Galen took a deep breath, steadying himself against the pheromones pouring off the other two tigers. He could see Iason clinging to Hagon, like a drowning cat, their mouths claiming each other in a heated passion, and the Egaro tried to figure out what he was supposed to do. Iason was in heat, the tiger taking advantage of Hagan’s presence. They were going to fuck if Galen didn’t stop him, but that was why Hagan was here. “Iason? Iason, back up,” Galen said, keeping a distance from the tigers. He was just going to treat it like he would any accidental heat, and try to get Iason dressed and home. But that wouldn’t work if he was sucked into the growing heat himself. Moving around the tigers, Galen hit the button Iason had shown him. He reached for a cup, filling it with water before throwing it over the tigers. Iason yelped, pulling away from Hagan as he was drenched with the freezing liquid. His eyes turned on Galen, the tiger growling at the younger Egaro. “You don’t have to separate us Galen…” he murmured, reaching for the blue Egaro hungrily. “We were supposed to share. Come on, let’s get Hagan all nice and hot…” The door to the room opened, Aedan stepping into the room. He took quick stock of the situation, striding forward to take Iason’s hand. “Come on big guy. You can’t be in here right now,” the Cervidas said, pulling at the Egaro’s arm. “You know the rules, no mixing heats.” “But he wanted me. Come on Aedan, wouldn’t a somnus with three tigers-” “It would be incredible and sexy,” Aedan agreed. “But some other time, okay? Let’s get you to the breakroom and get some food in you. Galen, Pasiphaë is watching the lines right now. Can you stop the timer please? Hagan, Galen can take care of you, but he’s still training. Do you mind if a tigress watches?” “I can still take good care of the agóri…” Iason protested. “I… I do not mind,” Hagan said, looking a little dazed. “Excellent. Give me five minutes. Galen, I know it’s not ideal, but I promise Pasiphaë will help, okay?” Aedan said. Galen nodded slowly, trying to figure out just how the day had gone so wrong. Having to spank a client, break up tigers in heat, and now he had to fuck a tiger while a tigress watched? The tiger wasn’t sure he was okay with this… but at least he was trying something new.
  2. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 39

    First of all, who could ever think they're faster than a deer? Kara needed that run I think. The whole scene between Arric and Kieran was sweet. Who would have thought the alpha enjoyed a good wine? And finally realizing you're a murderer, only a couple days too late. Shame it wasn't soon enough to save lives. In all, a great chapter. I am really enjoying this story ❤️
  3. Jeremy opened the door slowly, his eyes adjusting to the dim light in the inn room. Amnor Sen was sitting cross legged on the bed, and Jeremy knew he wasn’t supposed to be there, shouldn’t be interrupting. But he needed to talk to the elf. “I have nothing more to say to you Jeremy Fairchild.” Fuck, he wasn’t just angry, he was fullname angry. Jeremy took a breath, closing the door behind him as he entered the room. He crossed the space, standing next to his husband, so close he could almost feel the rage simmering under the paladin’s surface. The cleric had never seen Amnor Sen this angry, not at him at least. But he needed to try one more time. “Then don’t say anything. But Jakun made me question this. Why do I want to take on a quest that will have such finality? For a variety of reasons. To help a former slave, to give him a chance at life again. But also for you Amnor Sen. You have lived your life among mortals, among humans, watching the ones you love die. I would be just another in a long line of deaths. But if I succeed, if I achieved immortality-” “Then you would be thrust in the same position. I’m going to die someday, and what would you do then? Try to storm Pharasma’s Boneyard to get me back? Four people have completed this trial in 4700 years. Do you really think either you or Jakun have a chance at surviving? You would throw your life away on something as meaningless as immortality, and be forced to watch those around you wither and die, if you even survive,” Amnor Sen snapped. “Look at Jakun, at what immortality has already done to his mind. Can you withstand that? And what would the gods say of your attempt? Would they accept the soul of someone who had the gall to be their equal?” “We could do this together. It’s always been us against the world Amnor Sen. Why couldn’t we take immortality at the point of our blades? Become gods, and we could raise armies, storm the depths of hell together-” “I don’t want any of that!” The elf glared at his husband, rising to his feet. Jeremy took a stumbling step back, not prepared for the intensity of Amnor Sen’s gaze. His resolve wavered, but he pushed back, forcing himself to meet his husband’s scowl. “It’s been you against the world Jeremy. I’ve just been following behind, cleaning up your messes. Don’t try to act like you’re on some holy calling, you’re a drunkard who one god approves of. It’s not the same,” the elf snapped. “Your so called adventures have a habit of putting us in mortal danger, of forcing me to fight people who could be saved. You have made me question almost every basic tenet of my faith every day that we are together. It shames me that I have taken this long to realize it.” Jeremy winced at the venom in his voice, poised to strike back, to attack this elf who assaulted his own faith. “You want a simple life of work then, of toil. It’s admirable, but what would you accomplish with your life? Who would you inspire? What mark would you leave on the world? Art? A sculpture swept under the sands of time?” “I don’t need one. I am satisfied with serving Shelyn with my heart and soul, not trying to supplant her! And if I am remembered for what I’ve done, good, maybe I’ll inspire another smith. If I fade into obscurity, so be it. I’ll have lived my life, and that’s all I need.” “Jakun is attempting it regardless of what we do. Amnor Sen. Would you leave him to his fate? To fight alone in a maze of horrors?” “Yes. He is far better prepared than we are. I will guard his phylactery, and that will be my contribution to this foolishness. Even he doesn’t stand a chance, but I’m learning that won’t stop him. He needs to learn the hard way. It is only because I love you that I am trying to stop you.” The elf sighed, turning back to the bed. He took a series of deep breaths, trying to calm himself. “Why are you still here Jeremy? You’ve already made your decision. We’re done; I cannot follow you anymore.” “Because I love you, and I can’t let you go,” the human said. “We’ve crossed half the world together. I’m not giving you up. If I survive my trial, I will return for you. And I will fight for you, to be with you again. You are my songbird, Amnor Sen, and I’m never letting you forget that.” “No Jeremy. I was. But not any more. I have tried so hard to get you to see. Your actions have consequences. And yet you blindly rush into things. You drink, you brawl, you have little regard for the lives of people around you. You are good, but you are so chaotic it hurts. More often than not, you stumble into being good. I can’t do this anymore.” Amnor Sen removed a thin band from his finger, setting it on the desk nearby. “Maybe this is what it will take to show you, you can’t just drink your way through life. You can’t bulldoze through situations and expect everything to be fine. We’re done Jeremy.” The elf grabbed his bag, pushing past the stunned man. The door opened before closing a second later with a sense of finality, and yet Jeremy remained where he was, his eyes staring at the gold band that had held them together for years. Crossing the room, he reached for the ring, running his fingers over the warm metal. Images flashed through his mind, of the day he had bought the ring, had the Shelynite priestess inscribe the Kellish lettering on the inside. So many years, so many adventures… and now it was done, he had lost the elf, the man he loved. His songbird. He would keep his promise. He would be back, and he would show Amnor Sen that his love was eternal. Jeremy took the ring, slipping it into his pocket as he turned to leave the room. His resolve hardened; he was going to succeed in the trial. There was nothing holding him back anymore.
  4. Jakun stared over the chasm, eyeing the distance. It had to be a good hundred, two hundred feet across, wrapping around an island in the center, the lich’s goal. Teleporting across would be so easy, just the matter of a spell, but it would fail. Others had tried, and had ended up falling into the void only halfway across. Jakun wasn’t sure what it was about the chasm that stopped extra-dimensional travel, but it negated nearly all of his spells. He needed to find another way. People had tried everything. Shooting ropes across with an arrow to walk across, flying with spells… someone had even tried jumping the gap, plummeting into the chasm only to be seen climbing the other side almost a day later. How that worked was beyond the lich’s comprehension. He really didn’t know enough about this gap to start theorizing. There were four bridges at various spots, but he wasn’t supposed to use those. Apparently they would invalidate the attempt, though he didn’t understand why. “You gonna cross it?” The catfolk looked back at a woman, a street urchin in ragged clothing and sporting a broken grin. “The thought had crossed my mind,” Jakun shrugged. “The last person to try used magic. They say Aroden himself kicked her across. But Aroden is dead.” Jakun shrugged at the news. He doubted a god could really die. Though he didn’t really know who Aroden was, he was pretty sure the deity was just taking a break from the world or something. “How would you get across?” he asked. “Me? Oh, I’d never try… but if I did, I’d fly like a bird, free on the wind. If I had magic of course. Maybe have a wizard turn you into a bird?” Jakun nodded thoughtfully. He had turned Ivris into a rabbit. Why couldn’t he turn himself into a bird? Of course, he’d need a way to turn back after. And as written, the polymorph spell he had wouldn’t really help him. “Well, I guess I’m off to the markets. I don’t suppose you know where a magic shop is, do you?” “There are several in the market district. I can show you,” the woman grinned. Nodding, the lich followed her away from the city center, into a maze of paved streets filled with people going about their business. Stopping in front of a closed door, the woman pointed to the various shops around them. “There are weapons there, some armour, random magic that people sell in that shop… that place has magic quills that are supposed to write for you…” “Do any of them sell scrolls?” She shrugged. “I don’t know, you’d have to ask around.” Jakun stuck his hand into his bag, calling a handful of gold to the surface of the space within. He handed the gold to the woman, her eyes bulging out of her head at the sight of the coins. “Thank you sir!” The lich nodded, turning to look at the stores. He wasn’t sure which one would have the scroll he needed, if any would. Making his way toward the magical bookstore, Jakun stepped inside the dimly lit shop, a halfling standing up with a quiet sigh as he entered. Putting a book down, the halfling approached him with a halfhearted smile. “Good morning. How can I help you?” “I’m looking for a polymorph spell.” “We don’t have anything that powerful here,” the halfling said quickly. “Well what kind of spells do you have then?” “Mainly stuff for apprentices. Nothing offensive though, most of them are abjurations.” Jakun shook his head silently. No abjuration would help him cross the gorge. He needed something else. “I don’t suppose you know where I could find a polymorph spell, or a flight spell?” “A flight spell? Give me a moment.” The halfling vanished into the back of the store, a muffled curse followed by the sound of moving boxes. He returned a minute later, carefully holding a scroll in his hand. “The person who sold this to me mentioned it was unusual,” the halfling said. “I don’t know any more than that; I’m not a wizard. It is four hundred gold.” Jakun let out a quiet sigh, sticking his hand into his bag. He mentally called up platinum coins, the coins running through his fingers as he pulled out a handful. Ten coins… twenty coins… thirty… He set them on the counter before fishing out what was left of the gold. This spell was going to leave him broke, but he didn’t really care. If it worked and he got into the Cathedral on the island, Jakun wouldn’t have to worry about money. Three hundred ninety eight… three hundred ninety nine… and he had to dig for silver, surprised that there were silver coins in the bag. Apparently Sadira hadn’t minded what Loran referred to as the silver disgrace. Nobility used gold or nothing, at least in the necromancer’s mind. It was a stupid thought, one that had no place in reality, and Jakun was grateful Sadira hadn’t held to it. “There,” he said, sliding several stacks of coins over to the halfling. “Nice doing business with you,” the halfling smiled, handing him the scroll. Jakun nodded, opening the scroll. His eyes scanned the strange lettering, frowning as he realized there was no way he could work the spell out on his own. But Jeremy had a spell he was using to read the language here… maybe he’d cast it on Jakun so the lich could transcribe the spell. At least the scroll felt somewhat powerful, the magic thumping within the parchment like a heartbeat. He may have been screwed over by the halfling, but until he actually read the scroll and worked out what was on it, Jakun wouldn’t know it. “Thank you for your help,” he said, rolling the scroll back up. If nothing else, he could return and teach the halfling not to cheat people out of their money. If the scroll was a dud.
  5. The Faro yanked at the bedsheets, nearly tumbling off the bed as the sheets snapped back at him. This was their third room in nearly an hour, and he was already sore, but at the rate the tigers were going through people, he would have to keep this pace up just to match them. Pasiphaë was already working on another room, the two alternating, though Reinard took a little longer on his rooms. It wasn’t his fault he could barely reach the areas he needed to clean. He was just grateful the Egaro wasn’t complaining that he was too slow. He was doing the best he could, and if that turned out not to be good enough, the Faro wasn’t sure he could handle it. It wasn’t like he could push himself any harder. Grunting as he pulled the sheets toward a basket, the fox grabbed another set, fighting to get the fitted white sheet on over the blue top sheet. Supposedly it gave the bed a more polished appearance with less work, but Reinard’s arms felt like it was just adding unnecessary work. “Hey, I’ll finish this room. Go get started on the laundry; we want to get this load done before they get going on the next round,” Pasiphaë said, stepping into the room. She straightened the sheets, Reinard bristling at the thought that they weren’t good enough. “I’m trying damn it…” “I know, and you’re doing good,” the tigress said. “Get the laundry started and you can take a break-” “I don’t need a break,” the Faro growled. “You’re working against your own body. You need a break so you don’t hurt yourself,” Pasiphaë insisted. “Themis would have my tail if I let you work yourself to death. Just take a quick break, get some water or something.” Growling quietly, Reinard grabbed the basket, dragging it through the halls to the laundry room. A pair of blue furred hands grabbed the basket, Reinard tensing as Galen pulled it out of his grip. “Hey, I’ll be right there with you,” the tiger called to Iason and a white tiger. “Make it quick, we don’t have a lot of time,” Iason warned as he guided the tiger into a bedroom. “Damn it Galen, I can do this-” “Yeah, and I can do it easier,” Galen grunted, lifting the basket. The Egaro carried it to the laundry room, setting it on a stool near the washer. “There, enjoy your laundry. And remember, Themis doesn’t want you carrying overloaded baskets, so you should just make multiple trips.” Glancing around to make sure no one was looking, the tiger grabbed the fox, lifting him into his arms and kissing him quickly. “Okay, back to work. I love you; be careful,” he said, setting the stunned Faro back on the ground. Galen hurried from the room, leaving Reinard to work through the sudden emotions rushing through him. “Fuck me…” the fox groaned as he came to his senses. Stepping on the stool, Reinard pushed the washer lid up, dumping the sheets into the machine. A capful of soap followed, the lid closing a moment later with a thunderous bang. He started the machine, grabbing the basket to carry back to Pasiphaë. “Hey short stuff.” Reinard’s fur bristled as he passed the break room. Glancing through the open door, he saw a cream coloured tigress drinking from a bottle. “What do you want?” The tigress tossed a fresh bottle at him, a wry look on her face. “Drink up. Posca will help your muscles,” she said. The fox sniffed at the bottle warily, his nose stinging at the sharp scent of vinegar. “Why would I drink this?” “It’s refreshing. I haven’t seen you around here. Reinard, right? You look more like a Dustin. Dusty Trails,” the tigress smirked. “I’m Daphne, and I’m due for my next insertion.” She motioned toward the bottle as she passed the Faro. “Drink.” Opening the bottle, Reinard took a tentative sip, flinching at the sharp taste. His tongue tried to sort through the flavours; sour grape, pomegranate, some sort of lime… Strangely enough, he did feel more invigorated. Taking another sip, the Faro took a moment to catch his breath, his arms burning from the earlier exertion. He leaned against a table leg, frowning at the sight of sesame bars on the table. He could use one of those… but Pasiphaë was dealing with the rooms on her own. He really couldn’t take too long here. Setting the bottle aside with a sigh, Reinard grabbed his basket, dragging it back to the room he had been working on. Grabbing a telescoping brush and a spray bottle, the fox began wiping down the shower area, making sure to scrub a suspicious looking spot on the wall extra vigorously. It was disgusting, some of the things these tigers did, and he hated having to clean up after them, but at least he wasn’t in bed with them. “Hey Rei, your diaper is showing,” Pasiphaë said behind him. “What?!” The Faro grabbed at his pants, pulling them up frantically. The tigress let out a small laugh, shaking her head as she began wiping down the showerhead. “Relax, you’re not the first person here to wear them. I think Iason has a set he wears occasionally. They’re cuter on you though. Reminds me of my cubs.” “You… you have kits? And you still work here?” Reinard frowned. “Well, yeah. I’m not quitting a good job just because I have more mouths to feed,” Pasiphaë shrugged. “Besides, I’m on my maternal break still. I’m not allowed to partake for another two months. Just to make sure I don’t get pregnant again.” She rolled her eyes at the thought. “I swear, Daphne has had more close calls than me, but you let just one pregnancy go to term and suddenly work is a risk.” “But… wait…” Reinard felt like his mind was imploding. A tigress who had kits, but still filmed herself having sex? “What if your kits saw your videos?” “You really don’t understand our ways, do you? I can assure you most of us were taught by our parents. Those who weren’t probably learned from older siblings. Why not let someone close to you introduce you to something you’ll be doing for the rest of your life? It’s better to learn how to fuck from someone you know will take your needs into consideration.” “Golaski… you fucked your clan?!” “Well, my brother,” Pasiphaë shrugged. “It was a one time thing, just to break me in really. After that, I came here and ended up getting recruited by Iason. Between you and me, I’m pretty sure I carried his cubs.” Reinard felt faint. What did this mean for Galen? Had his bonded fucked his clan too? The very thought was abhorrent. “I… I need to go… sit down for a bit…” he breathed, fleeing from the room.
  6. “No. Absolutely not.” Amnor Sen approached the two, a scowl on his face. Taking a seat, he stared between Jakun and Jeremy, barely able to believe his ears. “Jeremy, of all the hairbrained schemes you’ve had…” “It could work. I’m not saying I want to go through with it, but I totally could. How hard could it be? Besides, if they let Cayden Cailean partake in the trial, why not me? And why not Jakun? Think about what we could accomplish Amnor Sen. You could be the Herald of Shelyn, travelling the lands and creating monuments of amazing art in her honor,” Jeremy urged. “It sounds to me like you want to do it. This city is nearly five thousand years old. In that time, there have been four people to survive this test. Doesn’t that sound like an impossible task to you?” “What of my vision Jeremy? What if this is how you die?” Jakun asked quietly. “Jakun, you can’t live life on what if. I am going to die someday. That is a fact. And let’s face it, this could be what kills me. I would be okay with that.” “For all your talk about not wanting to go, and how you don’t want to be a god-” Amnor Sen interrupted Jakun, glaring at his husband. “Admit that you want this,” he said quietly. “Go on. Say it. Tell us you aspire to be better than Cayden Cailean.” “Not better. Never better. But I desire to follow in his footsteps. Becoming a god puts a bit of a damper on the desire, but it’s still there. If I could better serve Cayden Cailean through immortality, you better believe I’ll do it.” “Even I’m not that much of a fanatic Jeremy,” Amnor Sen snapped. “Fuck, it’s not even being a fanatic. You literally want to become a deity, no matter how you spin it.” “Imagine how much good we could do in the world Amnor Sen. We could outfit all the crusaders in Mendev with magic, or destroy Geb and their undead armies-” “Jeremy, if the gods haven’t done that already, wouldn’t they have a reason?” Jakun said. “But you, Jakun, you could stop Loran with nothing more than a thought. You could have life again, drink all the milk you want, be free from Pharasma’s threat,” Jeremy added. “Gods have mercy. You actually plan on going through with this…” Amnor Sen glared. “Fine. But know this Jeremy. It is suicide and I will not help you with it.” The paladin turned his full gaze on his husband, standing up. “If you continue down this path, it will only end in your death. And I will mourn you, fifty years early. But I cannot and will not fight you. You do whatever you think best.” The elf turned on his heel, heading back to their rooms, and leaving the table in a stunned silence. “Don’t do it Jeremy. It’s not worth losing the people you love,” Jakun said quietly. “I’ll do it on my own. If there is a chance I can reverse what I did to myself, I’ll take that chance.” “It did save your life once,” Jeremy shrugged, still staring after Amnor Sen. “He… He is not backing down on this. I’m going to lose him over this.” “There’s still time to back out Jeremy. You do not have to do this. I don’t want you to do this.” “Then it’s a good thing this isn’t your choice Jakun. If you’re crossing that chasm, then so am I. We’ll do it together and make sure we both survive. I can’t believe I’m saying this to a lich, but I trust you to watch my back.” “And when it is done and Amnor Sen is gone? What will you do Jeremy? Is an immortality of loneliness really what you want? I’ve doomed myself already. You haven’t.” “Stop trying to dissuade me,” Jeremy said. “I’ve made my decision, and I’m sticking by it.” “Then why the earlier worry? Why would you say being a god was bad? You acted like it was a dealbreaker, like you didn’t want it.” “Because I still had to get my head around it. Face it Jakun, you need this. And I’m going to help you, if nothing else. Maybe Amnor Sen would help too, if it was for you. Maybe not. This could be your redemption, and I don’t think he’d want to miss it.” “Jeremy, you sound more and more indecisive with each word out of your mouth. Do you want to follow your god? Help me return to life? Redeem me? Which one is it?” “Why can’t it be all of those things?” “Because I don’t want to be responsible for your death,” Jakun said sharply. “I’ve killed my friend and my mother. I can’t let you go with me if it would mean your death too. It’s why I insisted on returning to Geb on my own, to keep you safe. And now you want to throw that away for what? Glory? A chance at adventure? You tried to destroy me already, and don’t try to deny it. I feel it every time a hand touches my soul. And yours bore ill will until my memories stopped you.” “You… you knew?” “Of course I knew. And I expected it. If you killed me and I failed, then so be it. It was your right not to help me. But that’s why I asked Amnor Sen, and not you. Because he’s more level headed than either of us, and he can withstand whatever influence I end up having. Talking to you, you don’t even know if you want to mix beer with your ale or ale with your beer. And now you want to become a god? Trust me Jeremy, this is not something to do hastily, and I will be doing my own research. I will take my time to decide, and not let what might happen cloud my judgement. I did that once, and it was the worst decision of my life.” Jakun drank what remained of his milk before standing up. He stared at Jeremy almost sorrowfully, before turning away. “I’m going to the library. And you should go to a temple and do some soul searching, while you still have one.”
  7. Faes let out a sigh as he stretched out on the bed. He could see what looked like bloodstains on the bottom sheets, and the half-drow frowned slightly. Reusing old sheets, likely those from the massacre that had taken place when Cassiel first set out. It did not speak well of their patron. Just how much of the Aldori was a sham? They had been destroyed when Chorrol the Conqueror had arrived with his dragons two hundred years ago, and the half-drow wondered if they could have made any decent recovery in the years that followed. His musings were interrupted by a sudden yowl, and Faes sighed, sliding out of the bed. The amurrun was being loud again. It seemed his curse to bear, the catfolk speaking in animalistic tongues when in the throes of passion. Faes had seen far stranger; in fact, the strangest part was Lapis trying to convince him it wasn’t a curse, but a blessing from Bastet, showing her favour toward their only prior coupling. A guard startled as Faes opened his door, the woman’s eyes glancing across the hall toward Lapis’ room warily. The guard posted before the catfolk’s room was absent, and Faes let out a silent smirk, contemplating his next action. And then he wondered what he was contemplating. The half-drow knew exactly what was happening behind that door, and he was not going to miss this opportunity. Lapis was far too indecisive outside the full moon, and if Faes waited, he wouldn’t be able to do anything with the amurrun until the next moon. “Guard his door,” he said to the guard. “I will be in his room tonight.” “Is… is he hurt?” the woman asked, clenching the hilt of her dueling sword nervously. “Not yet,” the half-drow smirked as he strode toward the room. He opened the door, taking brief stock of a silver robed amurrun stalking a plate clad guard. Kiba sat in the corner of the room, next to Khemet, and Faes wondered why the kobold hadn’t caught the catfolk’s attentions. “If you care at all for your chastity, I advise you to leave,” he said to the guard in the room, the woman blinking in startled relief. She hurried from the room, Faes bolting the door behind her. He crossed the room swiftly, a flash of fire catching on a candle as he passed it. Light filled the room, the half-drow and the catfolk staring at each other. “Well?” Faes asked quietly. “The blessings of Bastet be upon you,” Lapis smiled, rising from the bed. He stopped by his bag, pulling out a flask of holy water. Pouring it into a basin, the amurrun began washing his arms and legs with the pungent liquid, collected and saved from the previous month’s full moon. “Enchantress guide my hands and heart…” He was already wet, and Faes decided the yowling he’d heard earlier must have been either the amurrun relieving tension himself, or helped someone else worship his god already. Though he couldn’t remember Lapis washing himself between each coupling when they had been in Port Ice. As the amurrun finished his ablutions, he turned with a devious twinkle in his eyes, his behaviour so unlike him that Faes had to wonder if he took an extra dose of catmint before his celebrations. The half-drow pulled at his smallclothes, a hand stopping him suddenly. “The blessings of Bastet be with us this night,” the amurrun intoned quietly. “And through the moons to come,” Faes murmured, his eyes entranced by the dark makeup around Lapis’ eyes, makeup that drew him deeper into the catfolk’s gaze, as though an enchantment were being cast over him. “Calistria bless our coupling…” Lapis smiled slightly, the slightest twitch of an ear the only sign of displeasure at sharing his deity’s holy night. He turned from Faes, Draconic pouring from his lips, followed by a mix of mewls and chuffs. “Kiba, if you do not wish to partake, step to the balcony with Khemet. He will keep you warm tonight.” Khemet let out a grunt of displeasure, the tiger padding softly out through the balcony doors. The kobold remained though, seemingly torn. “I can take the two of you together. Or if you wish, we can take turns through the night,” Lapis smiled, hips swaying slightly as he crossed the room to help Kiba up out of the corner. “Why don’t we let Kiba go first?” Faes suggested with a smirk. “Then it will be my turn.” The kobold stared at the dancing catfolk, missing the safe warmth of his tiger shield. Strange noises came from Lapis as he drew Kiba to his feet, some language he had never heard before. “I apologise that I am unable to give you the honour of an Osiriani celebration. But please allow me to ease you into tonight’s celebration of the Lunar Cat,” the catfolk murmured in Draconic. His hand pulled at Kiba’s chain shirt, and the kobold squeaked in dismay, clenching the shirt to his body. “No… Don’t take Kiba’s armour!” “We are safe here. This manor is bathed in the glow of the goddess’ light, even if we are not. She will allow no harm to come to us, and you will have your possessions back before dawn,” Lapis purred, his hand running into a tiny space between Kiba’s armour and pants. The kobold gasped as the amurrun’s claw tickled his scales. Slowly, he relinquished his grip on the metal rings, Lapis carefully pulling the armour off Kiba’s body. Setting it aside, he started in on the gambeson that kept the metal off the kobold. A lizard darted from a pocket, Apsu racing for the safety of a desk as Kiba stared up at the catfolk who made him feel almost like he wanted to breed. Gambeson removed, Lapis stepped back slightly, observing the tiny body before him. Kiba flinched slightly at a cool breeze, and warm arms wrapped around him. “I am unfamiliar with your body. Please help me learn how to please you properly,” a voice purred in his ears, Lapis holding him close as the catfolk kneeled in front of him. “You want to breed Kiba?” the kobold stammered. “But… but Kiba can’t make hatchlings…” “Then we breed for fun,” Lapis murmured, his claws playing over the kobold’s back slightly. “And to honor the Lunar Cat, who takes pleasure in our pleasure.” The kobold stared blankly at the amurrun, his tail raised slightly as he contemplated what Lapis was saying. “Kiba… enjoyed breeding the kobold elders,” he said. Lapis smiled as he stood up. His robes slipped off, and his hands gently pulled the kobold toward the bed with him. Kiba climbed onto the bed cautiously, his hand running over the catfolk’s surprisingly smooth skin. The smurrun rolled over, his tail raised to offer Kiba access to his depths, and the kobold took a deep breath as his length peeked from his slit. A tiny thrust was followed by a more confident thrust, until the small kobold was humping into Lapis. He felt the catfolk shift under him, and suddenly Kiba was inside Lapis, barely an inch. But it was more than enough to overwhelm the kobold, and tiny spurts of seed splashed out of him, dribbling into Lapis’ hole as the kobold slammed into his partner for all he was worth. “My turn,” a voice growled, eliciting a protest from Lapis as Kiba was pulled away from the catfolk. Faes stared down at the amurrun, taking in the thin offering dribbling from Lapis’ hole. He glanced at Kiba pitifully; the kobold certainly had done nothing to satisfy his partner, even if Kiba looked spent himself. Faes doubted he would go any more tonight, and that suited the half-drow just fine. He wanted plenty of time to break his cat. “Give me a moment,” Lapis said suddenly. He rolled over and stood up, reaching for his bag. A vial of thick red liquid emerged, the catfolk pulling out the stopper with his teeth before sloshing the sludge into his mouth with quick swallows. Faes wasn’t sure what the glyphs on the side meant, but he could guess easily. The last time they had done this, he had marked the amurrun quite a bit with his flames. Lapis finished drinking with a soft burp, the amurrun’s ears folding as he grimaced at the taste of the potion. He set the vial aside and stood up. “Ah, you remember our deal,” Faes smirked, pushing the cat back down. “This month, I’m in charge. And you will learn your place, kitten.” A flame flickered in his hand, the half-drow’s finger trailing over a line of fur that sizzled under his heated touch. “Be a good kitten, and I won’t hurt you. Much,” he sneered. He could feel the catfolk’s body shiver at the words, Lapis letting out an uncertain merf. Bubbling laughter filled Faes’ chest, but he held back. Let the amurrun think he still had some semblance of control, like his worship hadn’t just been upstaged by Faes’ own. The flame wandered over Lapis’ crotch, burning off the fur around his groin until the amurrun’s skin was smoother than it had likely ever been. Faes flipped him over, playing with the catfolk’s globes as he contemplated the cream oozing out of Lapis’ hole. He reached for a rag and wiped up Kiba’s cum in a pair of swift swipes. The kobold hadn’t even gotten into the amurrun from what the half-drow had seen. Fine by him. It was time to show this catfolk what a real top could do. A flame licked at the hole. Lapis whimpering as the heat burned through the protections of the potion. Faes gave him no mercy, moving the fire so it danced over the cat’s belly as the kineticist pulled his prey’s legs over his shoulder. He pressed the tip of his length against Lapis’ hole, and Lapis let out a pained yelp as Faes rubbed against the burn. Perfect. Faes slipped into the hole suddenly, swiftly. He watched as Lapis tried to bite back another yelp. “Let it out kitten. You can’t hold it in forever. We are going to go all night until you understand that you are mine.” And Lapis let out a deafening yowl, the amurrun pulling away from Faes as he tried to reach for his hole. A sudden crash startled Faes. He turned his head toward the balcony as Khemet pounded against the barrier between them once more, and the half-drow sighed. He had to remember not to push the catfolk too much or he would be tiger food. He let the amurrun slip away, Lapis pressing a finger to his burn as he whimpered out a prayer. Faes watched in interest as the burn healed into smooth skin. Lapis still winced at his touch, and that was enough for now. “Come now kitten, we’ve only just begun. No permanent burns then, but I will have my fun, as was promised to me. After all, doesn’t your god rejoice at our pleasure?” he smirked, before shoving his length forward again. He took the cat again and again, each time slower than the last as he drew upon the energies around him. Faes only got to do this once a month, and he was going to enjoy it while he could.
  8. Darkness became light, the lich’s eyes opening into a dark room. His eyes picked up the light from under the door, bathing the entire room in a glow. Jakun was back… and so was his arm. The amurrun swung his arm around, getting a feel for his new body. Everything seemed to work properly, he just needed to place his spells. This body was nice and fresh, fur and skin unbroken by its death. Opening his phylactery, the lich waited for his illusion to pass, his heart twisting in pain at everything he had lost to get here. Anya and Aofe, both dead by his hand. Undeath wasn’t worth that, but it was too late for the lich to go back. He could only go forward. Dressing in the fresh robes, Jakun folded his old cloak into the phylactery, calling on his spellbook. He spent the next few hours enchanting his body, casting permanent spells on his flesh to prevent its decay. With luck they would hold and he would inhabit this body for longer than a few weeks. Jakun pulled out a flask of unholy water, dripping it into a black vial. Murmuring a few words, the lich drank the cursed liquid, eyes widening as his mouth exploded in the most foul taste he’d ever experienced. He gagged as he swallowed, gasping loudly as his lungs filled once more with air. It… it worked… He could taste, could breath, could feel… A tear fell from the lich’s eye as he knelt before his phylactery. He had a day of this at most, and he was going to make good use of it. Removing the amulet Amnor Sen had left in the box, the catfolk slipped it back over his neck, feeling the cursed object come to life. As his body twisted into that of a wolf, the lich decided he should have looked to see the time of day before putting it on. It lasted barely an hour before dawn stole the form from him, leaving his pseudoliving body back in cat form. An hour gone, lost, but then, Jakun could always get more of that water for the spell. And if he couldn’t, well, he was good at making spells work without components. Using them just made the casting easier. Suitably geared, Jakun opened the door to the room, setting his bag over his shoulder. His phylactery was stuck inside, safely hidden from the world until he could return it to Amnor Sen. The paladin had cared for it so far, and Jakun had no reason to believe that wouldn’t continue, so long as he kept himself in check. He had almost lost his mind, and Jakun knew it. But he felt almost like a normal amurrun with this spell, and it was a refreshing feeling, the catfolk revelling in the fact that no one cringed from him, that his touch no longer spread death and disease. The more he thought about it, the more the catfolk realized, if there was a way to reverse the effects of what he had done to himself, he would gladly do it. Heading down a flight of stairs, the lich found himself face to… well, chest to face with an angry dwarf. “Who are you? How did you get into my inn?” the dwarf asked, brandishing an iron skillet in his hand. “I’m with the cleric and the paladin,” Jakun explained, hoping the two hadn’t left him here. He scanned the room, his eyes zeroing in on Jeremy’s back. “Jeremy?” The cleric turned his head, surprise flicking across his face. He stood up with his beer in hand, leaving a book on the table as he crossed the room. “Morning Jakun. You’re looking… surprisingly fresh. Less murdery than usual,” he said. “It’s okay Robnok, he’s with us.” The dwarf grumbled as he returned to his kitchen, leaving the two alone in the tavern. “Do you think I could get some milk here?” Jakun asked as Jeremy guided him toward the table. “Maybe, but I thought you couldn’t drink,” Jeremy said. “I found a way.” “Is everything okay? It’s only been about five days. Did everything heal properly?” “Yeah, I’m as good as new,” Jakun said. “What are you reading? Do they have Kellish books here?” “No, but a simple prayer takes care of that. I can read Taldane just fine if I need to. And, well, I need to,” Jeremy shrugged as Robnok set a mug of milk between them. Jakun grabbed the cup, taking a deep breath before setting the liquid to his mouth. Rich cream flowed into his mouth, the taste exploding until it covered his entire mouth in a thick covering. The lich closed his eyes, moaning in bliss. “Gods, the way you act, that’s better than sex,” Jeremy smirked. “It is better than sex…” “Really? Damn, that whore in Alkenstar didn’t know what she was doing then. We’ll have to find someone better-” “No, it’s okay,” Jakun added quickly. “I don’t need to have sex.” The cleric looked at him dubiously. “Is it because of your body? Because I bet it would still feel amazing to take a rod up the backside.” “No, I just… I think you made me believe that it was going to be life changing, but honestly, I can live without it,” Jakun replied. “Well of course you can live without it, but why would you want to?” “Honestly? I don’t even have those desires anymore. It leaves me with a lot more time to work. Speaking of which, what do you know about this trial of yours?” “Um, yeah… about that…” The cleric fidgeted in his seat, taking a long drink of ale. “You know, I can wait as long as you need to tell me,” Jakun said. “I quite literally have all the time in the world.” “It’s… it’s complicated,” Jeremy said. “You know how I said Cayden Cailean took the trial? And passed while drunk out of his mind?” Jakun nodded slowly. “Okay, well, here’s the thing. First there’s this chasm you have to cross, that’s bottomless. Like, if you fall, you’ll die of old age before finding the bottom. There’s a theory that your soul will continue falling even after death. And you can’t teleport across either. That kind of magic doesn’t seem to work. And the Starstone Cathedral doesn’t let just anyone in. Beyond that, no one really knows what exactly is in the trial, even here. And it gets worse.” Jakun frowned slightly, motioning for the cleric to continue. Jeremy took another drink, before setting his empty mug aside. “You know how Cayden Cailean took the Trial and succeeded? He wasn’t a god when he did it. None of them were, Aroden, Cayden Cailean, Norgerber, and Iomedae… they were all mortals before the Trial. If you fail, you die. But if you succeed… you don’t just get the power of a god, you become a god.”
  9. The porneo was almost filled to the brim with tigers, Galen looking around in amazement. He could smell the hormones raging in the room, not a few of the tigers kissing each other as their hands roamed. There was a sudden squeal, a young tigress running toward Galen. “Fuck, it is you! Iason’s fucker! I can’t believe I’m meeting you-” she exclaimed, before a hand gently guided her away from the confused tiger. “”I’m sorry, but Galen is not seeing anyone today,” Aedan said, a soft smile on his face. “Perhaps your next heat can be spent with him.” “What’s happening?” Galen frowned. “Oh, it’s like this whenever a video with Iason goes live. You missed the worst of it yesterday,” Aedan shrugged as he moved the tigress back into a line. “Themis, Daphne, Ryan, and Iason are working on overflow. Reinard, could you help Pasiphaë with the linens please?” The Faro nodded beside Galen, his eyes wide in terror at the sight of so many tigers in heat. Galen set a hand on the fox, kneeling beside him. “If anyone lays a hand on you, tell me and I will see to it they are removed,” he said firmly. “I will protect you, I promise.” “Don’t worry Reinard, they know not to touch you, if they want their turn with the stars,” Aedan added. “Does that include me?” Galen asked as Reinard fled from the room. “Unfortunately, no. We haven’t had the chance to train you properly, and it would be irresponsible to put you on the roster,” Aedan explained. “However, we want to use this time to build your following. So, you’ll be helping me with Achilleus’ job today, so we can get your face out there. A word to the wise, try to keep your clothes on. There’s enough heat in here, and we do not want to make it any worse. It is likely this will drive Iason over the edge, as he is close to his time already.” “Do we have enough people for this?” Galen asked. “Yes, though it will be tight. We’re only offering half hour slots today. If we can, we want to keep everyone separate according to what they’re looking for.” The Cervidas pointed to three spaces separating most of the tigers. “We have guys and gals, and those who prefer guys and gals,” he explained as a door opened in the back rooms. “If they have no preference, they can go into any of the lines. Generally they pick the shortest.” Themis stepped out with a tiger, a smile on her face as she embraced her partner. “Come back soon,” the tigress said, before nudging the tiger away. “Geia Galen. Aedan, who do I have next?” “Acheron,” Aedan said, stepping behind a counter as he called the name. A tall tiger with black fur and broad shoulders stepped forward, Galen nearly drooling at the Egaro. “Geia Acheron,” Themis smiled, reaching out a hand. She took the tiger’s hand, the black furred god following her into the back of the porneo as Galen stared after them. “Simmer down big guy, you’ll get your turn eventually,” Aedan said, patting Galen’s back. “Aeneas, please do not disrobe. Your turn is coming.” The Cervidas delved into the throngs of horny tigers, aiming toward a coupling that was getting rather heated. Galen could feel the sexual tension in the air, and he was grateful he had finished his heat recently. A place like this would turn into a full blown orgy given enough freedom, and he was surprised at how smoothly Aedan seemed to keep control. Another door opened, Ryan leading a dishevelled looking tigress out of the room with a tired grin on his face. “Okay Hestia, you be sure to come see me again soon,” the man said, swatting the tigress playfully on the butt. “Which one of you horny cats are next?” Galen ducked behind the counter, pulling up a screen. His eyes travelled several lists, before landing on Ryan’s name. “Uh… Ismena?” he called, a golden tigress stepping forward with one of her breasts already slipping from her chiton. Ryan took the tigress’ hand with a small nod to Galen, pulling her back with him. Aedan returned to the counter, an exasperated look crossing his face. “Thanks,” the Cervidas said. “I swear, it’s worse than the rowdiest cuddle puddle in here.” “Speaking of which, perhaps you could explain to Reinard that we haven’t had sex yet. He seems to think you were making a house call yesterday,” Galen chuckled wryly. “Tell him it was for work. The somnus was more for pleasure, but I was there on business,” Aedan shrugged, deleting Ismena’s name from the list. “Speaking of which, in about two hours, we’ll be letting Ryan and Reinard take over out here while we work on getting you ready for the next wave of customers. Ryan’s good at what he does, but he doesn’t quite have the stamina of an Egaro.” “Is that why you aren’t working the rooms?” Galen asked. “Oh no,” Aedan said, motioning to his fuzzy antlers. “You know how I’m always in velvet?” “Is that what it’s called?” Galen asked. “I thought all Cervidae were like that.” “Not at all. I’m a cryptorchid. That doesn’t really work well with brothels. It’s why I’m more of a cuddler. I’m great with Xanar,” Aedan explained. “I’m lousy with them,” Galen frowned. “Nah, you just had a bad apple,” Aedan said. “If you’d like, I could try to set you up with one of my regulars. There would be no nudity, and I promise they’re much more respectful than Zilion.” There was an excited call from the crowd as yet another door opened, Iason emerging on the hand of a blue tigress. He nuzzled her cheek, before giving a small nudge. Waving at his crowd of admirers, the tiger glanced at the desk, stepping over to draw Galen into a hug. “Geia Galen,” the tiger smiled. “Aedan, who do I have next?” “Hagan. He asked for a threeway,” Aedan replied. “Should I let him know that he’ll have to wait for Ryan to finish?” “How about it Galen? Do you want to rock someone’s boat?” Iason asked. “We can get you better acquainted with brothel work and let you get off.” “But I was supposed to wait-” “Plans change Galen. But if you’d rather not have a threesome with him-” Iason pointed to a white tiger with a pankratiast’s body, muscles bulging through his clothes. “He’s a top, isn’t he?” “Look again,” Iason chuckled. “Wrong line. I happen to know he is into a lot of kinks.” Galen stared at the tiger, nerves crawling through his gut as he nodded. “Okay, but I can’t be taken in my butt,” he said. “I will make sure we accommodate your needs,” Iason promised as Aedan called the tiger forward.
  10. Yeoldebard

    Chapter 38

    DEVYN Lenya morning couldn’t come soon enough. A chance to get out of the house, an opportunity to go to school in wolf form, Devyn was overjoyed to finally have things going his way. “I’m walking with you.” The wolf stared at his mother in muted horror. He left the house every day to escape her, and now she wanted to walk with them to school? “Oh don’t give me that look. Dylan is late, I doubt he’s coming,” Margaret said. “Jason has both your lunches. Remember, you’re staying in the WolfRoom all day. I don’t want to hear that you are disrupting class.” Devyn doubted Dylan would be at school, not after what had happened to his etul. Getting him away from Lysander’s side would be like trying to bite through a bone. But at least Jason was with Devyn. He didn’t see why his mother had to walk him to school. The neko chose that moment to step out of the kitchen, his bag weighed down with food and his computer. He walked past the wolf, scratching Devyn’s head absently as he pulled out his phone. “Ready to go?” “Yes, we are,” Margaret said, bringing a minor look of panic to Jason’s face. The look vanished an instant later, bland indifference taking its place as the neko opened the front door. Devyn squeezed his large body between his mother and brother, shoving them aside as he bounded out of the house. He exulted in the sense of freedom, brief though it was. “Devyn! Don’t go running off. The last thing we need is for you to get hit by a car,” Margaret snapped. The wolf glanced at Jason, a soft whimper escaping him at the neko’s distance. He knew Erith had claimed his brother, and it pissed him off that the elf thought he could own Jason. But Devyn had already come to terms with the situation… as best as he could. His heart was broken, but he would still be by the neko’s side, protecting his brother. A blue jacket suddenly fell over Jason’s shoulders. Devyn bit back a growl as Erith stepped up beside the neko, the elf wrapping an arm around him. “Geyn riyal.” the elf smiled brightly, ruffling the neko’s hair gently. “Mrs. Farin, you don’t have to walk with us if you don’t want to. No one’s going to mess with us, and I’ll make sure your sons are safe.” Devyn sniffed at the coat, a confused huff escaping him. There was barely any scent on it, just enough to be picked up by another wolf. What was Erith doing? He claimed Jason, shouldn’t the claim be stronger; more proud? “I think I’ll walk with you,” Margaret said icily. “It’s not that I don’t trust you to have the best intentions for my neko son-” “I understand. Big scary elf, poor innocent neko,” Erith smirked, walking with his arm around Jason. “I hope in time you can understand I only want what’s best for both Jason and Devyn.” Devyn sighed quietly as Jason seemed to lean into the elf. Every step they took together seemed to drive a wedge deep into his heart. Why couldn’t Jason walk like that with Devyn? The wolf knew he could make the neko happy. He just needed the chance to try. And for the first time, Devyn debated shifting during the new moon, in front of his mother. Replacing Erith’s arms, taking Jason for himself. If he had to share the neko, so be it. But he couldn’t handle being brushed off by his brother. “Nie werlen Rellanic?” Erith murmured, Devyn’s ears flickering at the sound. Jason shrugged at the question, his ears swivelling so one was aimed at Margaret at all times. “I’m going to get both you and Devyn to class, okay? Wait for me after class, I don’t want anything to happen to either of you,” Erith spoke up as they neared the car park. Jason nodded, as Devyn huffed in annoyance. The wolf was going to be stuck with Dr. Marin all day. There was no point in Erith waiting around for him. “If you have a problem, message me. I’ll pick you up,” Margaret said as they approached the school. “I’ll make sure they don’t have any issues,” Erith promised. Margaret scoffed at the elf. She turned away as soon as they reached the school, heading back home. Erith, Jason, and Devyn all relaxed as the woman left, and the elf pulled away from Jason. “You didn’t tell me she was going to walk you to school,” he scowled at Jason. The neko signed back, his response lost on Devyn. The wolf was too busy trying to figure out what was happening. Gone was the cuddly warmth the elf had been showing his brother. Come to think of it, Devyn hadn’t even smelled anything that would make him think Erith was even interested in Jason. He wouldn’t be surprised if his mother had picked up on that either. What game were these two playing? “I’ll get you to your class first. I’m near the WolfRoom for first period,” Erith said as Jason handed the jacket back to the elf. Devyn saw it as a clear dismissal of the werewolf’s claim, and he stared at his brother in confusion. If he didn’t want to be claimed by Erith, why hadn’t he indicated it before? This was getting weird. A hand fell on his back as Jason passed him, the neko scratching his back gently before heading off to his own class. “Fine, guess it’s just you and me Devyn,” Erith muttered, glancing at the wolf. “I swear, he’s asking for trouble with all of this. You should just claim him and get it over with.” Devyn grunted in agreement as they walked toward the WolfRoom. Even if he was mated to Erith, Jason could still be mated to Devyn too. But who knew what Margaret would do if the two were actually mated? The thought worried him. JASON The day passed with a deceptive slowness. Erith appeared after first and second period, acting as Jason’s personal bodyguard. It was ridiculous, nothing was going to happen. And yet Jason had to admit he felt better having someone to walk with. Erith seemed happy enough with their arrangement. After all, the elf was getting the chance to spend more time with Devyn. Or that’s how it was supposed to work. Though Erith seemed a little uncertain about the wolf himself. Almost like he wanted to be with Devyn, but at the same time, he wanted nothing to do with him beyond friendship. Maybe it was because he was an elf, and he didn’t want to mate with someone who would die nearly a century before him. Either way, his behaviour was confusing. Third period was the worst class by far. So many elves staring at him, accusing glares peppering him as he listened to Halor’s lecture. He was near the front of the line to flee the room when the class ended, but a call from Halor stopped him. “Jason, can I have a word with you?” Ears twitching in worry, the neko returned to the front of the room as elves filed out through the door. “Relax, you’re not in trouble,” Halor said. Jason still flinched as the door closed, leaving him alone with the elf. “You still have a lot of work to make up from when you were out of school. I know you’re a bright person, and there’s no doubt you could easily catch up. The elf stepped around Jason, and the neko spun quickly, keeping him in his eyesight. Halor let out a sigh. “Look, I have nothing against you. I’m not about to attack you over something the dowager did. I’m just trying to help you Jason.” Halor’s hand reached out, patting the neko gently on the shoulder. “I’m sure we can come to a suitable arrangement regarding the missing work.” Jason couldn’t help it. This was how so much porn started. He took a step away from the elf, and then another, until he felt the hard wall behind him. Halor seemed to catch his mistake, and hastily worked to fix it. “Let me rephrase that. I think you can help me. All of your work is well done to this point, and I think you could be of great use in teaching some of the other students. Do you know Dylan Ethis?” Jason nodded warily, wide eyes staring at Halor. “He is struggling in the class, and I gave him an offer to be tutored after school. I think you could help him out a lot.” The elf stepped toward him, a small smile on his face. “I’m sure he could use a little more practice. I’m committed to seeing my students succeed in school, and I would appreciate your help. I’m willing to drop the final project for you. I know it’s a little difficult for someone in your position to give an oral presentation.” No wonder Dylan had been upset after second period on Urdya. If Jason was failing the class, he’d be upset too. But the neko couldn’t stop the feeling that there was something else going on here. ‘Is it just Dylan and I?’ he demanded. Halor frowned at his hands, nodding. “No one else seems to be struggling as much as him.” The door opened suddenly, Jason glancing over Halor’s arms at Erith. He felt a rush of relief at the sight of the other elf. Halor glanced at the intruder, before turning back to Jason. “If you’re interested, stop by after school-” “Jason, step away from him,” Erith growled. The neko flinched at the elf’s tone, ducking around Halor. The older elf frowned at them, his eyes focusing on the sniffling werewolf “I don’t believe you’re in any of my classes-” Erith crossed the room in an instant, slamming Halor back against the wall. An arm pressed over the elf’s neck, and Jason scrambled back, a silent yelp escaping him. “If you’re going to be ballsy enough to go after a neko in a school full of werewolves, you might as well ask him to suck your dick in front of everyone else,” Erith snarled. “The only reason you’re still in one piece right now is because I don’t want to deal with cleaning the blood of a pedophile off my hands.” “What the fuck are you talking about?” Halor blustered. “I never intended to do anything with him!” “Save it for someone without a nose.” Erith grabbed the elf by the back of the neck, pushing him toward the door. Jason stepped aside hurriedly, his heart pounding in his chest. He followed the two out of the room. “Jason, go to the WolfRoom and stay there. I have a castration to handle,” Erith growled. The neko frowned at the elves as they walked. ‘He didn’t do anything, Erith.’ The werewolf snorted. “Yeah, because we should wait for everyone to commit the crime before going after them. You didn’t smell his fucking scent.” “I was thinking about my wife-” Halor protested. “While alone in a room with a seventeen year old neko? Now why the fuck would you do something like that?” Erith sneered. Halor flinched as he was knocked into a wall. “Oh, sorry, I was thinking of someone else,” Erith said. “Jason, I’ll deal with this. Go find Devyn. I think he’s still upset about this morning.” The neko shuddered, trying to figure out if he should follow them or head to Devyn. If the wolf didn’t get his lunch soon, he would get suspicious. And that was the last thing they needed. Sighing, Jason turned away from the two, directing his steps toward the WolfRoom. He wanted to trust Erith, but Halor hadn’t come onto him. He was uncomfortable, but nothing had actually happened. There really was only one person who might be able to clear this up, but Dylan hadn’t come to school. And Jason had to wonder if it was because of his etul, or something worse. DEVYN The wolf paced back and forth as he waited for his brother. The bell chimed nearly ten minutes ago. It didn’t take that long to get from third period to the WolfRoom. Was Jason okay? Had something happened? “Hey Devyn, you want to chase the ball?” Devyn’s body spun toward the boy, Blake nearly dropping the ball from shock. He wanted to chase the ball. There was nothing more important in the world than that blue ball in the human’s hands. The wolf stretched out into a play bow, whimpering his desire for the ball. And then the door opened, and the scent of a worried neko filled the room. Instantly the ball was forgotten. Devyn whirled back toward the door, leaping at his brother. Jason dodged his assault nimbly, and the wolf slammed into the door. “Devyn, calm down.” Dr. Marin scolded. The ball bounced off the door, and the wolf’s head snapped between the rolling toy and his brother, torn between desires. “Blake, don’t be rude,” Dr. Marin frowned, gathering the ball. “How would you like it if you had to choose between ice cream or cuddling?” The human deflated, crawling into a wolf bed. Devyn was too busy sniffing at his brother to notice, trying to figure out why Jason was upset. The neko’s hands were signing, and Devyn heard a sharp inhale from Dr. Marin. “Okay, I’ll be right there. Go ahead and get comfortable here,” the man said, heading for the door. Devyn whimpered as Marin left, wondering why he couldn’t help instead. Whatever was happening, he was supposed to protect Jason, not Dr. Marin. Licking at the neko’s hand nervously, the wolf’s whimpers grew as Jason turned away from him. His brother reached into his bag, pulling out a bag filled with meatloaf. Heading into a closet, Jason pulled out a bowl, pouring the meat into it before setting it on the ground. Only then did he rub Devyn’s head. The wolf grumbled under his touch, trying to get Jason’s hand over an itch he had a hard time scratching himself. His head lowered a moment later and within a minute, lunch was gone. Jason dropped into a bed, Devyn joining him as soon as he finished his food. The neko’s scent was filled with worry, fear even, and it made the wolf upset. He curled up in his brother’s lap, gently licking the neko’s arm. Blake stood in front of the two, watching them uncertainly. His uncertainty mixed with Jason’s fear, the smell only adding to Devyn’s discomfort. With a silent huff, Devyn adjusted himself, making room for the human. Blake didn’t need more of an invitation; the twelve year old crawled into the bed with them and curled up between Devyn and Jason. By the time the bell chimed again, Jason seemed to be feeling better. His entire left arm was a slobbery mess from Devyn’s licking, but the neko didn’t seem to mind too much. Even better, Jason smelled like Devyn again. If Erith wasn’t going to protect his brother and keep everyone away from him, Devyn would do it instead. He was supposed to be the neko’s true mate anyway. Besides, the elf didn’t seem to want much to do with Jason. Which made Devyn wonder, why had the elf claimed him? What was he doing with Devyn’s brother? And why did Jason seem okay with a werewolf who didn’t seem to want him back? These questions haunted the wolf as he trudged out of the WolfRoom. He had work today, and it meant he would miss gym and cooking. But he would have missed cooking anyway. Devyn was feeling a little drained as he climbed onto the bus in front of the school. To his surprise, Erith joined him in the bus, the elf frowning at the sight of the wolf. “Hey Devyn. I didn’t know you worked too,” he said cautiously. Devyn huffed quietly as he was strapped into his harness. “It’s cool you found something to do in wolf form.” The wolf yawned, his eyes staring out the window as the bus started moving. Anything to avoid looking at the elf who was supposed to be chasing his brother. “You know it’s fake, right? I’m only doing this because Jason asked.” That startled him. Jason wanted Erith? But his brother had agreed that they were mates. Why would he be chasing another wolf? “I know, it’s confusing,” Erith sighed, his nose wriggling slightly at the wolf’s scent. “I think it’s because of your mom. She doesn’t really seem that… nice.” Nice? Not at all. But what did Margaret being mean have to do with Jason dating Erith? Were they going to fuck? Was Jason trying to get turned? It made no sense. If his brother wanted to be a wolf, why didn’t he ask Devyn? The wolf would have done anything to help Jason. “But anyway… you two are free to use my place. It’s not much, but there’s… space in the basement.” The elf’s scent flickered sharply, disgust peppering the burning scent of anger that had been filling the air, and Devyn sneezed suddenly, trying to get rid of both smells. Whatever was in the basement, Erith did not like it. But he wanted them to come over? Why? Devyn almost wished he was in human form. He had so many questions for the elf. There was so much he didn’t understand, and the short ride to the therapist’s office did nothing to clarify the situation. It was made even more confusing when Erith got off the bus with him. The elf looked at the wolf warily, a note of fear in his scent. “It’s… just a job, like you, right?” he said quickly, heart thumping in his chest. Devyn snorted, stepping up to the automatic doors. He passed into the building, heading into Dr. Aster’s office. “Good afternoon Devyn. Are you going to be in wolf form today?” the elven woman asked with a smile. He nodded, tensing slightly as the door opened behind him again. Erith was following him into the office? The only reason for that was if he was here to see Dr. Aster. Things were about to get very interesting.
  11. “I got it!” Kiba frowned at the strange words coming from the halfling’s maw, the kobold doing his best to figure out exactly what it was Linzi had got. She’d been trying to teach him Taldane, but it was slow going. Kiba’s mind was having issues figuring out how he was supposed to fit war, famine, and disease all into one word for death. They sat in front of a small hearth, tables spread through the room as they waited for Lapis. Linzi had said something about the catfolk probably heading south to find a ford or a bridge The dark one glanced up from the book he was reading, the painting of a six legged fire lizard adorning the wooden cover. He spoke roughly in the softskins’ tongue, the tone doing nothing to dampen the bard’s spirits. She waved a parchment excitedly for a moment, before catching herself and handing it to him carefully. Faes’ eyes seemed to glow inside his hood, a sure sign of excitement, and he read through the parchment carefully. “Perfect…” Kiba blinked in surprise, wondering if Linzi had told him the wrong definition for that word. The dark one never seemed to think anything was that good. “Set hair for Cassiel?” The kobold frowned, trying to figure out what the two were saying. Why would a dead baron worry about his hair? He was distracted by the opening of the door, a loud chuff lifting his spirits. “The Khemet is returned!” he announced loudly in Common, a sense of pride soaring through his chest at the simple sentence. A pride that quickly vanished as he was bowled over by the white tiger. Rough barbs scraped over his scales as the kobold struggled to escape the tiger’s tongue, the dark one snickering at the small kobold’s predicament. “Khemet.” The tired rumble of Lapis’ voice filled the large room, the party all letting out sighs of relief. Kiba’s was doubled by the sudden lack of a tiger on his chest. Suddenly they were in motion again, a stunned look on the amurrun’s face as nearly everyone in the post gathered their bags and filed outside. “What’s happening?” he frowned in Kiba’s direction. “Why is Valerie hurt? Where are we going? I thought we’d have a night to rest…” Kiba shook his head, opening his pocket to make sure Apsu was still safely tucked away. “The dark one says we leave. So we leave,” he shrugged. “I thought I was the baron. I need to rest; I’ve been walking all day to get here.” “You will ask the dark one to stay here then?” Kiba frowned. “The dark one won’t like that.” “His name is Faes. You can call him that you know,” the ammurun sighed. “I’ll go talk to him.” “Kiba will continue preparing for the night walk,” the kobold replied, still running through his bag to make sure he had everything. “Kiba asks you don’t leave again. Dangerous wilds cannot be tread alone.” “I didn’t have much choice. I had to help Kaessi,” Lapis sighed quietly. “But I’ll try to stay with you. We’re still a few days ahead of the full moon. Maybe we should head out anyway, I want to be in a city when it hits.” The journey to Restov took place over a rough road, the party having to check their horses’ hooves every night for loose dirt and stones. They reached the city after two days, Faes noticing their baron growing rather anxious with each passing day. Knowing the cat, it had nothing to do with the hopeful coronation coming and everything to do with whether he could worship his deities properly in a strange town. Faes was more than willing to help the amurrun out with his concerns, but he had his own concerns ahead of him. Namely the scrolls in his bag. Each had been painstakingly forged by Linzi to show Lapis had been adopted as Baron Cassiel’s heir, supposedly witnessed by Jhod Kavken. He prayed it would be enough for the Aldori. According to the half orc son of Jamandi, the Aldori would do anything to keep Ellesmera from falling into the hands of either Pitax or Brevoy. If the Surtovas took this land over, the Aldori dream of taking back Rostland would remain a dream forever. Their horses were handed off to a stableboy near the Aldori mansion, Faes scoffing at the terror that filled the young human at the sight of Khemet. He was certainly a wild tiger, but he was also well trained by Lapis. The only danger the boy was in was of getting flayed alive by the big cat’s tongue. And Khemet had Kiba for that, the kobold’s scales surprisingly resistant to the pull of the barbs. “Lady Aldori will see you at once,” a guard said sternly, confirming what the half-drow suspected. There had been eyes watching them from the moment they had left Ellesmera, scouts racing them back to Restov to report to their master. Sure, Jamandi likely wasn’t certain what this was about, but a delegation from the young barony that was being personally bankrolled by her, that was not something she would ignore. Slowly Faes was sinking into the world of politics. How often had he seen cities, baronies, entire kingdoms playing this game? And now he was one of the players himself, the stakes admittedly low. Nothing more than a barony and a catfolk. It was a comfortable gap between him and disaster, and Faes was happy with it. They passed through an empty throne room, Faes scoffing slightly. Of course they would not be received there, not when Jamandi didn’t know what they were doing here. The office they were taken to was richly appointed, various trophies lining the walls as a pair of crossed dueling swords adorned the open space above Jamandi Aldori’s seat. It was a miniature replica of the throne room, and Faes smirked as he examined it. No originality, just flat out bragging about their skills. He wondered what those skills would mean on a Surtovan chopping block. “I do not believe I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance.” Lady Aldori’s voice pulled the half-drow back to the task at hand, the kineticist studying this noble who handed out baronies like she was the queen. Glenebun, the Shrike Hills, Dunsward, all new baronies, all under the command of inexperienced adventurers simply to give Restov allies in a coming civil war. And people had the audacity to call Faes evil. At least he made no pretenses about what he wanted. Power, and if it meant he had to play nice, so be it. He could be nice. “Valerie, Linzi, you two I recognize. Perhaps you can clarify the cause of your visit for me?” the Swordlord asked pointedly. “Baron Cassiel’s death,” Valerie said immediately, and Jamandi’s face soured. “There was an attempt to bring him back, but it apparently failed. We bring a… replacement for your consideration.” “Lapis,” Linzi introduced the catfolk quickly. “He is Cassiel’s adopted son and heir.” The amurrun stood to the side of the group, his hands tightening in the tiger’s fur at the sight of another tiger’s head hanging from a plaque. “I will never see you up there,” he promised Khemet quietly, his faithful companion letting out a wide yawn that seemed to put the room at edge. Silence enveloped them, and belatedly, Lapis realized they were all staring at him. “Cassiel chose you?” the woman behind the oaken desk demanded almost incredulously. “I… have trouble believing this. You were not among the original group, nor was there enough time for Cassiel to know someone enough to offer his barony so soon.” “We have the scrolls to prove it,” Faes said, pulling the parchments from his bag. “Easily forged,” Jamandi said quietly. “And yet…” Her eyes zeroed in on Kiba, a note of disgust piercing her next question. “What is a kobold doing here?” “He guarded Cassiel’s body as we searched for the scroll you gave us,” Linzi said. “Right now we assume he’s the envoy from a tribe of kobolds we helped within Ellesmera.” “He is a friend,” Lapis said, setting a hand on Kiba’s shoulder. “Khemet can vouch for him.” The amurrun figured the tiger could anyway; he had never warmed up to Faes like he had with Kiba. It seemed Khemet was a better judge of character than himself. “You are obviously trying to pull something,” Jamandi scowled. “But I cannot have the Stolen Lands be without leadership. The Surtovas would snap them up in an instant. Valerie, do you vouch for this cat?” “He… he is chaotic, my lady. But he seems to do what is best for others when he can, just as Cassiel did. At least he couldn’t do any worse than the bandits,” the fighter said quietly. “Very well. You will have your barony, Ser Lapis. On one condition. The envoy I sent with Cassiel, Kassil, he will remain with you,” Jamandi said. “I’ll do my best not to dishonour Cassiel’s memory,” Lapis said quietly, his head lowering slightly in a bow. “Thank you for the trust you have given me.” “The scrolls. I will need a copy of them, to satisfy the houses,” Jamandi added, looking at Faes. “You have them with you?” The half-drow nodded, handing forward two scrolls. He kept two back, their own original copies of Linzi’s handiwork. “Your forger did a good job. They should be proud of themself I suppose,” the Swordlord said. “You may go now. Take the night to rest; tomorrow I will have my guards see you back to Oleg’s.”
  12. Looking at the glowing blue portal with the image of a small city in the center, Jeremy had to admit he was scared of their catfolk companion. Gaining strength and power was one thing; he could understand training and hard work, but Jakun had done all of this in two months, and Jeremy had no idea how he had managed it. “Come on Zephyr, I know it’s a big glowing hole, but you need to go through,” Amnor Sen grunted, trying to push his horse toward the portal. Zephyr snorted, resisting with every fibre of his being. Jeremy didn’t blame the horse. All they could see was a city on the other end. What city it was remained to be seen. Jakun seemed pretty confident it was Absalom, but the catfolk insisted on going last. Something about making sure everyone passed through the vortex of energy. “How did you say you found the city?” Jeremy asked suspiciously. “A bird. I scried on it, and found a nice small alley. Whether or not we actually land there remains to be seen,” Jakun said, fleshy ears flicking. Jeremy was relatively sure the catfolk was lying, but then, they needed to get to Absalom, and this was the best way any of them could think of. For all the ways the cleric had grown in the faith, Jeremy couldn’t quite get some of Cayden Cailean’s higher prayers. Maybe it was the drink. He hadn’t been brewing his special drinks in months. Come to think of it, Jeremy had no idea where his poisons were. Sighing, the cleric moved forward, nearly slamming his shoulders against Zephyr’s backside. It was like running into a wall, but the horse stumbled forward into the portal, his body vanishing. Amnor Sen followed swiftly, the elf anxious not to leave his horse’s side. Jeremy looked at Jakun sharply, the lich looking as innocent as a rotting corpse could look. He couldn’t seem to get the illusions to stick, and it made Jeremy feel a little better, to know that Jakun’s true nature wasn’t so easily hidden. It was horrible, but the cleric was certain the amurran had been up to no good. Still, Amnor Sen vouched for him, and that encouraged Jeremy to let Jakun alone. “I know you didn something to get this portal to work. You better watch yourself,” the cleric said, before stepping through the portal. Icy darkness washed over the human, his eyes squinting shut as bright light suddenly blinded him. “Amnor Sen? You there?” he asked, throwing up a hand against the light. “Yeah, wherever here is,” the paladin grunted. Jeremy felt a hand pushing him forward, Jakun’s presence filling the air behind him. “Not bad. The city’s barely a mile off,” the lich said, a sense of pride running through his words. “I was nearly ten miles off in Mechitar.” Jeremy looked around them at ruined siege engines, collapsed tents and various weapons of war. A tower stood in the distance, pennants impossible to make out from where they stood. The cleric had an uneasy feeling about this place. “You’re sure we’re in the right place?” “Oh yeah, this is just the Cairnlands,” Jakun shrugged. “But if you need to be certain, we can always ask him.” The catfolk pointed at a sun-bleached skull, empty eyeholes staring blindly at the group. Jeremy shivered at the thought, glaring at the mage. “Do not ask him anything. Besides, I doubt he’d answer you.” “Oh, he probably would. I think he’s Taldane. Probably a lieutenant, not important enough to have a proper burial. Poor guy…” Amnor Sen frowned at the lich, his hand gripping Zephyr’s bridle more firmly in his hand. “How exactly do you know that?” “I’m guessing. I did some research on Absalom in Sothis, and apparently the city has been attacked quite a bit. One of the assaults came from a place called Taldor and was nearly successful. This close to the city gates, I’m thinking he was one of the Taldane patrols.” The lich picked up the skull carefully, setting it on flat earth before gathering stones to cover it. “What are you doing?” “Well if we aren’t talking to him, we should at least pay our respects to the fallen, right?” Jakun asked, setting another stone over the skull. Shrugging, Amnor Sen and Jeremy began helping the one armed amurrun, the endeavour taking barely five minutes. Finished with his task, Jakun bowed his head briefly, before turning toward his companions. “Okay, there should be an inn near the city gates. You should kill me here so you don’t have my old body stinking up the place. I’ll probably decompose really fast without magic holding me together. There’s enough gold in my bag to cover a second room so you don’t have to watch my body regrow; just set my phylactery in there and it should resurrect me,” the lich said, kneeling. “Wait… just like that? You don’t… there’s no magic ritual?” Amnor Sen asked, surprised. “No, just a decapitation. At least, that should do the job. Then again, taking my arm didn’t kill me… Maybe you should try chopping me up into pieces. That seemed to end Ivris properly.” “How the fuck are you so calm about this?” Jeremy demanded. “Come on, it’s not like this is my first death. At least this one shouldn’t hurt as much,” Jakun shrugged. “Hey, buy yourself some milk on me Jeremy. If it makes you feel better. I should see you all again in about ten days.” He looked at Amnor Sen, the paladin paling. “Why do you need me to do this?” the elf asked. “I’ve never killed anyone before…” “You’re not really killing me. Well, in a sense, you are, but you’re really just freeing me from a broken body. How can I pursue any type of art with only one arm?” Jakun pointed out. “Besides, your glaive is the only weapon properly weighted for a somewhat clean cut. And unless you want to give your blade to a drunk-” He pointed at Jeremy, the cleric drinking heavily from his cup. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back before you know it.” “Please Jakun, I’m doing a lot for you already. Don’t make me kill you too…” Amnor Sen said. “Then find someone to do it. I can’t go around looking like this,” Jakun frowned. “I’ll do it,” Jeremy sighed, reaching for Amnor Sen’s glaive. The elf pulled it away, staring at his husband. “Why?” “Because someone has to, and honestly, I’d feel better if someone he knew ended him. Besides, then I could say I’ve killed a lich. That should earn me bragging rights in a tavern, especially around here.” Amnor Sen let out a deep breath, handing the weapon over. He looked at Jakun, forcing himself to meet the lich’s dark eyes. “You are sure about this?” Jakun nodded. “It’s the only way. If you want, you can bury this body. I think Sadira left a shovel in her bag. I’m not sure why, I doubt she ever dug up a corpse in her life…” Jeremy held out the glaive, feeling the weight and taking a couple practice swings. The weapon made an audible woosh as it passed through the air, the sound grating on Amnor Sen’s already thin nerves. Finally, Jeremy stepped up to the catfolk, Jakun taking a deep breath. The cleric pulled back, readying himself. “Wait!” They froze, the paladin and the cleric looking at Jakun in concern. “My amulet…” He pulled it off with a brief struggle, looking at the golden wolf head. Taking a breath, he held out the amulet to Amnor Sen, the elf accepting it silently. “Take care of it for me. If I can return, it brings me life,” the lich said. Nodding, Amnor Sen tucked the gold in his bag, the catfolk’s eyes following it hungrily. “Are you ready?” Jeremy asked. Jakun nodded, his head held high to grant the glaive access to his neck. The cold steel touched the back of his neck, and pulled back. A moment’s hesitation, and then the weapon swung, and Jakun’s head rolled.
  13. “Remind me to never let Lapis plan our expeditions in the future.” A slow flame dried Faes’ robes, the kineticist shivering in the chill of midnight. What they thought had been a ford was nothing more than a patch of deep, slow moving river. It had been foolish to swim it, but Valerie had insisted, and it had nearly cost them Linzi’s pony. Nearby, Kiba was hacking up bucketfuls of water, the kobold another casualty of the former paladin’s haste. His lizard was trying to dry itself on a nearby rock, the utter lack of any sun under the near full moon giving no opportunity for the creature to relieve itself of its wetness. “Five minutes and we move on. The sooner we get to Oleg’s, the sooner we can get dried and in a nice warm bed,” the fighter said, strapping her plate armour back onto her body. “We do not speak to Fredero tonight.” “Excuse me, but I speak for Lapis-” “You speak for a baron who is not yet baron. When he is here, when he has been anointed by Lady Aldori, then he can give us orders, through you if need be,” Valerie said tightly. “Until then, I will follow the law of the land, my freedom assured until the baron is proclaimed by the higher powers.” Faes gritted his teeth as he mounted up again, nudging his horse ahead of the group. They were barely an hour from Oleg’s and despite the warmth of the fire within his body, the half-drow was still eager to escape the chill of the night. It didn’t take long for them to reach the post, the five travellers slipping through the gates to find a tired old man awakened by their approach. Five gold saw them to an upstairs room, the group quick to sleep and slow to rise the next morning. The kineticist awoke to find Valerie polishing her armour studiously, scraping off a day’s worth of dirt and mud until the metal gleamed so much it almost hurt to look at. Faes wasn’t sure that was a sound decision; the metal shining like that would be sure to catch the attention of any bandits looking for a score, but then he supposed the former paladin had her reasons for polishing her armour like that. Maybe to catch the bandits that would rob her, though Faes was pretty sure there was an easier way. “Tell me about this Fredero. It’s clear he’s not letting you go easily,” the half-drow said as he watched Valerie work furiously at her armour. “Typical paladin of Shelyn,” the fighter grunted. “Which is to say nothing matters to him aside from what pleasure he can derive from viewing. The gods forbid anyone should prevent someone else from staring at their beauty.” Each swipe of the rag seemed to be adding more grime than removing at this point, and Valerie tossed it into her bag with a disgusted scowl. “Stuffy, has a thorn in his backside half the time. Believes that if you can’t see the beauty in frivolous art, there is something intrinsically wrong with you. And he wants to take me back so I can continue serving under his lecherous gaze.” “Ah, one of THOSE paladins,” Faes smirked. “The law doesn’t say I can’t touch, so come here. I detest people like that. Fuck the law.” “Laws are what makes society work,” Valerie scowled. “It is the law that would make your cat the baron, in case you hadn’t forgotten.” “Really? Seems to me like it was a bunch of random people at their wits’ ends who decided a cat was better than a half-orc. And better than a fallen paladin.” “Watch your tongue. I never fell,” Valerie growled. “I fled from an order that did no more good than a pack of wolves.” “And now you obey the law to the letter, trusting in it to be good, and denying that it’s bad even when people’s heads roll, right?” Valerie scowled at the kineticist, slowly pulling her armour over her gambeson, piece by piece. “If the law does not protect the citizenry, it is not my fault, nor is it my job to change the law. I merely enforce them.” “Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Faes rolled his eyes. “My question is, are we expecting a fight? Because if we are, you should certainly wear magical protections beforehand.” “I will not go with them peacefully,” Valerie said firmly. “It is up to them whether that means we fight or not.” “Okay, I’ll just plan to fight an order of paladins today then. Make sure Linzi and Tristian put protections on you beforehand, and try to stay out of Kiba’s way. He’s a little… unpracticed.” The half-drow headed down the wooden stairs to the tavern below, flames dancing over his fingers as he warmed up in the early autumn morning. A man in shining armour sat at a table, working on a piece of calligraphy. His eyes glanced up briefly as Faes came down the stairs, and he looked up completely when Valerie followed a minute later, the smell of magic heavy on the fighter. “Ah, our wayward child,” he said with a beaming smile. “Valerie, I trust you have had enough of these worldly wanderings and are ready to return to your destiny. It is a blessing that the years haven’t removed that radiant bliss from your face.” Faes winced internally as Valerie scowled at the middle-aged man. Pompous… the fighter hadn’t said anything about that. Not that it was unexpected; it only served to further Faes’ distaste of the paladin. “Fredero. It is good to see you in good health,” Valerie said coldly. Faes found he couldn’t agree with that sentiment at all. “Why don’t you tell us why you are here,” the half-drow said to the man, safely hidden in his flickering hood. Fredero blinked at the flame that cast shadow over the kineticist, piercing grey eyes seeming to cut straight through the shadows. “As I mentioned in my letter, I seek to return Valerie to Shelyn’s grace, and right a wrong made many years ago. Her destiny was proclaimed before she was born, and she must return to her path. I am merely here to remind Valerie of her duty to the Eternal Rose order.” “Duty?” Valerie spluttered. “My duties are to my liege lord, not to some art collectors!” “You have given me plenty of reason to doubt you know where they truly lie,” Fredero said calmly. “And just where do you intend to go from here?” “West, to the border of Pitax, where an architectural wonder is being built that would be worthy of the spirit of the Eternal Rose herself. And Valerie would perform her duties well there, safely protected from the world.” “I am so tired of taking orders from those I despise…” Valerie sighed. “She has much to unlearn if she is to rejoin the order of our faith,” Fredero added with a stern look at the fighter. “‘Our’? You still believe me to have faith in Shelyn after all she’s put me through?!” The paladin shook his head sadly. “Where is the Valerie I once knew? We used to hold you as a shining example of politeness and courtesy to the other novices.” “I am only showing you the same courtesy you show me. If you wish to ascribe to me such values that I never had, then I can be just as liberal a judge of your values.” “My beautiful Valerie, still a diamond in the rough. I had hoped your years abroad might temper your rash behaviour, but I see it is not so.” Valerie glowered at the paladin darkly. “Spare me your long winded speeches of duty and beauty. I will not return with you, I will not rejoin the order, and I will never seek the so called grace of Shelyn again. Whatever nonsense you have in your head, let it be ended, once and for all.” Fredero’s eyes turned to steel, the paladin staring the fighter down. Neither backed down, neither moved a muscle, until finally, the paladin spoke once more. “I don’t believe my ears. Here I thought to find someone repentant for her mistakes, someone eager to return to the ways of the just and lawful. Eager to undo the pain she caused family and friends the day she turned from her god’s grace. Instead I find a belligerent renegade, a child who insists she knows what’s best. Someone who gleefully goes against Shelyn’s will.” “I’m not surprised in the least by your words,” Valerie countered harshly. “You have never given thought to anything that would dare go against your beliefs. I am not a god’s play thing, I am not Shelyn’s chosen, and I am not-” “Silence! Quiet before you bring her wrath upon us!” Fredero snarled. “You, who are blessed with such beauty as to surely come from the goddess herself, who so insolently disregards blessings anyone else would give their lives for! I did not come here to bandy words with a disrespectful child, but to return you to the gates of the order, and I will do so dragging you by the ear if I have to!” “One more word, Sinnet,” Faes said quietly. “Say one more word and your head will decorate the nearest fencepost as a warning to those who would dare lay hands upon our companions.” “Stay out of this Faes!” Valerie snapped. “He may be crossing the boundaries of politeness, but no more than that, and you will stay your hand.” “Fine, have it your wa-” “What you call my home was nothing more than a prison, Fredero,” Valerie snarled, ignoring the kineticist. “This is my true home, in this barony where I have fought, and shed my blood for whom I chose! Here I am free to fight for whoever I wish, and I will never give up that right!” The fighter seethed with rage, her voice dropping dangerously low. “You will take your people, Fredero, and you will return to your abbey. And you will leave without me. If you believe your goddess chose me, well clearly, Shelyn should have chosen her toys more wisely.” “How dare you?” Fredero snarled. “If you have any ounce of honour in your body, then you will answer for your words to Shelyn’s paladins!” “Outside,” Valerie growled, hand touching her mace. “Faes, you stand as my second.” “About fucking time. Put this windbag in his place,” Faes growled, following the two outside, to where a pair of paladins stood guard. They approached an open space, the two combatants locking eyes. “Let’s see if your mercenary friends have taught you anything other than insolence,” Fredero scowled. “Everyone back! Do not interfere until this is finished!” The paladin’s squire counted down, and the duellists took a moment to cast protections, Valerie from a scroll, and Fredero through his prayers. Then they struck, Valerie’s mace pounding ineffectively against the paladin’s armour. She dodged a heavy blow from her opponent, circling around him to land a crushing hit on his side that was healed through a murmured prayer. Again and again the two struck, each blow Valerie landed answered by a prayer from her foe as Fredero called upon Shelyn’s grace to heal himself, until his magic ran dry. He struck suddenly then, sword slashing across Valerie’s face. She stumbled back, grabbing a ruby potion off her belt and draining it in three quick gulps, before hurling herself back into the duel. A pair of hits brought Fredero low, the paladin finally collapsing in an unmoving heap as Valerie pulled her final blow. Faes grunted as the fighter held back, shaking his head in disgust. He wasn’t familiar with duels in this part of the world, but he had figured they ended in death. Apparently he was mistaken. A healing prayer from one of his squires brought Fredero back to his senses. The paladin rose slowly on one knee, grimacing in pain. “You… always were better at fighting… than spiritual matters,” he grunted. “Thank Sarenrae you’re both alive,” Tristian said, rushing out from the trading post. He slowed warily, the cleric picking up on the festering anger that still hung in the early morning air. “That… that was it, right? The fight is over?” he asked uncertainly. “I wouldn’t mind if she finished him off,” Faes shrugged, glancing at the man Fredero had called as his second. The squire shook his head firmly, and the kineticist sighed. “The battle’s over,” he conceded. “Valerie is clearly the victor here.” Valerie’s shoulders slumped in obvious relief, the fighter leaning against her mace. “You got what you wanted, Fredero. Now leave the barony, and never return.” A crowd of onlookers poured out of the trading post as Fredero rose to his feet. The defeated paladin looked around sullenly, before dipping his head. “I… I obey the words of the victor…” he grunted, turning to leave. There was a muffled gasp as Oleg’s wife broke the circle around them. “Dear gods… Valerie, your face!” The fighter raised her hand to her face, fingers running over a long, jagged gash. The potion had stopped the bleeding, but it could do nothing about the scar left behind. “Here, let me see it,” Tristian said urgently, moving forward. “I can heal-” “NO!” Valerie gritted her teeth, shaking her head. “No, leave it,” she said. “It is nothing. I just need rest… and to cleanse myself after all these conversations about Shelyn.”
  14. It amazed Jakun how people could get used to anything. His arm had been missing for only a week and already the amurrun had found sleeping on his back helped him sleep better, without pushing any weight on the missing appendage. He couldn’t wait to regain his arm. It would take time; they needed to get to Absalom before Amnor Sen would help him end this body. For the past day, Jakun had been searching for ways to cross the ocean, but he couldn’t figure out a good way to cross the water. After his struggles with Ivris, it would be almost trivial to take a memory from a sailor who had been to Absalom and use the memory to teleport, but Jakun knew Amnor Sen would take offence to that even if the sailor was paid for his service. Jeremy was working on the problem too, in his own way. The cleric was sitting in a tavern somewhere in the city proper, waiting for inspiration to strike him. Jakun had his doubts that would work, but then he had seen the human work some pretty big spells. The amurrun looked around the shore tavern he was currently lurking in. Sailors in various states of inebriation crowded the room, filling the air with tall tales and body odour. He could just touch a few and be done, the spell not taking much effort. The way Mythara made it sound, they wouldn’t even notice him stealing the memory for his own use. And what did Amnor Sen know? For all the paladin could tell, Jakun could have been spending the day trying to see ten feet through a scrying sensor and gotten lucky. Or he could go the long way, try to find a bird to scry in Absalom and jump off of that brief glimpse. It would run into the same problem of scry length though, namely that he would not be able to see anything ten feet away. And he couldn’t even pull the memory of the city layout from the bird without touching it. A phantom steed would work, if they could find a way for Zephyr to keep up with the mounts over the water. But Jakun really had no idea how to manage that one, and there was no way he would ask Amnor Sen to part with his horse. ‘What do you think-’ He stopped himself, taking a shaky breath through dead lungs. How long would it be before he stopped seeking her advice, listening for her voice? “Fuck this…” Standing up, the lich left the tavern, heading back to Sothis. His feet took him to a library, papyrus scrolls filling the walls as dual masked clerics roamed the rooms within. A temple to Nethys, the god of duality and magic. He would have a better chance of getting ideas here. And a possible way of buying the cursed water he needed for the Daywalker spell. A priest approached, face hidden and body trembling in Jakun’s presence. The lich tried to tone down his unnatural aura, but it seemed a part of his curse, to unnerve those who looked upon him. At least Jakun had tried to make himself look more alive, sculpting what was left of his flesh to cover his body more fully. He had decomposed remarkably fast, and the lich hoped his next body would have more meat on it for him to preserve. Knowing his luck, it would probably be a bag of fur and bones. “You carry strong magic on you,” she said. “Undeath and life in equal strength.” Motioning to the amulet still around the catfolk’s neck, she took a step back from the mage. “What knowledge can we trade in? You have power but know not how to use it. We have knowledge, but lack the power. Nethys craves the balance and imbalance. Do you seek the middle ground?” “I seek someone with knowledge of Absalom. I can trade scrolls for the knowledge given,” Jakun offered. “And the knowledge of your power over undeath?” Jakun shook his head firmly. “I do not give that knowledge for a pittance,” the amurrun said. “There is a fortress in Nex with the knowledge, if you have the secrets to trade. What I seek is far simpler; merely one who wouldn’t mind sharing a memory. If you have it, I would also like to purchase a flask of cursed water from one of the clerics.” “But of course. The flasks are twenty five gold apiece. And we have a supplicant who has been to the City at the Center of the World. You may ask him for the information you seek.” Jakun followed the priest through the library, grateful he had thought ahead to grab the bag of holding in one of Sadira’s treasure rooms. They walked toward a storeroom that radiated negative energy. His body felt healthier the closer he got to the storeroom and the lich glanced at his arm, almost expecting to see it grow back. To his mild sorrow, the stump remained the way it was. “You wouldn’t know how to reattach an arm by any chance, would you?” “To a living person, we have someone who could do it easily. For someone with your afflictions, it would be impossible,” the priest replied. “Yeah, that’s what I figured,” Jakun sighed. “I’ll take four flasks of the water. I can ration it well enough, I think. The scrolls I have are in Draconic.” “That should not be a problem. Many of us speak the language of magic like our native Osirioni.” Pulling a platinum coin out of his bag, Jakun handed it to the woman, waiting as she examined the coin closely. Apparently satisfied, the priest opened the storeroom, handing over four flasks that Jakun stuffed into his bag one by one. It was a lot easier to do with two hands, but he managed with the one, slinging the bag back over his shoulder. “Now, if I may see the one with the memories.”
  15. Tigers standing nude in the open, kits being told explicit things… Reinard couldn’t believe it. No, that wasn’t true, he believed it alright. The Egaro were just fucked up enough to actually do shit like that. And Reinard found himself staring at the Egaro they passed in the boat on the way to the porneo, wondering, had they been to these places? Did they stare at each other naked without shame? How could anyone do such a thing? “We aren’t anywhere near the nudists,” Galen chuckled. “At least, I don’t think we are. I can look around for a place if you’re that curious, or you can ask Iason to show you his.” “No,” Reinard grunted, slumping in his seat. “You don’t have to look so sad about it. I’ll let you see an Egaro dick whenever you want.” The tiger leaned toward the fox, a smirk on his face. “Even right-” “No!” Reinard felt his face burning at Galen’s offer. He wasn’t so desperate for the tiger that he was willing to touch him in the back of a small boat. It was ridiculous that the thought even crossed Galen’s mind. “Aw, does my little cub need a hug?” “No…” But he still crawled into Galen’s lap, the tiger wrapping his arms around the Faro with a small smile on his face. Reinard’s face pressed into Galen’s chest, the fox listening to the steady thump of the Egaro’s heart. How long would it be before he stopped that beat, before his life caught up to them and his bonded died because of him? “If you think my hugs are good, you should try Aedan’s,” Galen said. “The Cervidas that wouldn’t fuck you?” Reinard asked, grateful for the chance to pull his mind from his dark thoughts. “He didn’t say he wouldn’t, and besides, he’s a bottom,” the tiger pointed out. “What does that mean?” “It means I’ll be feeling up his insides with my rod, letting him dance around my meat as I soak up the heat of his-” “Golaski…” Reinard squirmed in Galen’s lap, his tail bristling in alarm at the words. He glanced at the Xanar piloting the boat, letting out a relieved sigh when it appeared the alien hadn’t heard them. “Why the fuck are you telling me this? I don’t want to hear about you fucking other tigers.” “Would you like to watch instead?” Galen offered. “Or perhaps we can slip into one of the open rooms and play around a bit. I’m sure Themis wouldn’t mind as long as we were discreet about it.” “Oh yes, because getting fucked while someone else’s juices are on your dick will make me feel so good,” Reinard scowled. “Oh, right, your allergy. You know, the universe really fucked your people up,” Galen sighed. “What’s the point in life when you can’t fuck a hot tiger you like?” “You are making it impossible for me to like you,” Reinard growled. Galen sighed, tilting his head so he could kiss the top of the Faro’s head. “One of these days, Themis and I are going to have to teach you how to live a little. Get some wine, go out on the city for a night, party hard, fuck harder. Wake up the next morning with a giant headache and no memory of who or what you fucked the night before…” “Just stop,” Reinard snapped. “I’m still a Faro, even if some big brute of a tiger fucked me.” “Okay, so we’ll skip on the forgetting who you fucked part,” Galen shrugged. “I’ll make sure you know exactly who put his seed so deep inside you. Get you all nice and bred. I bet when we’re ready to have cubs, you’ll have the most adorable cubs in the galaxy.” “Okay, enough of that shit,” Reinard grumbled. “Why? I’m being nice.” “I know, and now I don’t know whether to curl up in your lap or-” “Or bite my dick off, yeah, I know.” Galen used a finger to tilt Reinard’s chin up, leaning around the Faro to press his lips against the fox’s gently. “You know, I really do care about you. I can’t change how I’m hardwired, but I care about you, and I promise I will never abandon you. I’m slowly coming to terms with having a more permanent lover.” “So you aren’t moving in with Cassandra?” “No,” Galen smiled. “I’m all yours little guy. And I am getting horny. What do you say we-” “No.” “Aw… I thought I had you there,” Galen chuckled. “You better hide when we get to the porneo little Faro. This tiger is out for your virtue.” “I thought you didn’t do that.” “I don’t, but for you? As long as we agreed that when you say stop, we stop. And I get to cuddle you after.” “Fine,” Reinard said. “But not where others can see.” “Of course not. I mean, you do have the perfect body to show off. You make me want to pick you up and go up to random tigers like, see this Faro? You may not like it, but this is peak evolution right here. This is what the perfect body looks like.” Reinard snorted, Galen looking absolutely delighted at the noise. “There we go, let’s have more of that,” the tiger beamed. “No one is supposed to be sad all the time. Laugh a little.” “Only if you love me.” He didn’t know what made him say it, but the words were out, and Reinard couldn’t take them back. “Why would you think I didn’t love you? I love all of my friends, and you are closer to me than any of them,” Galen said. “I love you, I care for you, fuck, I’m setting my entire life to revolve around you Reinard.” The Faro shivered in his arms, wide eyes looking up at the Egaro holding him. “Say it again? Please?” “I love you Reinard Artego. And nothing in the universe is going to take that love away.”
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