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AusGlitterati

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About AusGlitterati

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    Comedy
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    Books, shows, games, movies, writing. I like to spend as much of my free time as I can in another universe.

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  1. AusGlitterati

    Rescue Mission

    I greatly enjoyed the added segments! Small though they were, but you have a way of putting so much meaning into so few words! ❤️ terrific, my friend! I await the next chapter eagerly!!
  2. AusGlitterati

    Cita - First Shots

    Cita Zyria A shining, red Pegasus. Red? But there are only three Pegasi left in all of Ytia, she thought, struggling to retain the vision. It approached her and gently licked her face, then it vanished into the fog. A red Pegasus? What can that mean? The Pegasi of the Alaeyan triplets are black, silver and white. There is no red. The colour of blood, perhaps? A sign that the Pegasi will die? She remembered its pure, blue eyes. Only the Alae family had eyes so blue. But my family's eyes are red. Red as blood. Could that be its meaning? She wished her dreams and visions would be more clear to her. There was no way to interpret what she saw with pinpoint accuracy. The fog increased, and Cita felt herself getting weaker. No! I was close this time. I'm sure I was! No! Cita! Did you find him? Armyn's voice pierced her brain. No, brother! Not while I'm dreaming! Please don't. Cita? STOP! She shrieked as she violently woke, sitting up and breathing heavily. Cita, what did you see? Mala's voice asked her gently, but Cita did not want to hear her. Or Armyn. The two of them were relentless in their telepathic communication. Often when she was younger, she would run to their father in tears because her brother and sister talked to her when she dreamed and it caused her so much pain. We're sixteen now. Why do they still do that? Mala did not often stop to think before she acted, but she was sure Armyn liked to hurt her. I saw nothing, Cita angrily told the two of them. I've slept too much, I fear. I don't dream as much now. Please leave me be. Sure. Sorry, Mala replied sadly. She felt bad for Mala. As hard-hearted as the girl liked to appear, she missed their father like crazy. Armyn had nothing to say, but she could sense he was angry. That was no surprise. Armyn spent a lot of time in a foul mood. But he could not know she was lying. A red Pegasus, red as blood, vanishing into the fog. What is that supposed to be? "Kaden!" Cita shouted out loud, realising how much pain she was in. Her head was splitting open with a powerful migraine, and she could not even find the strength to sit up. "Kaden, are you there?" She heard shuffling outside her chamber door, and it opened, her brother stepping inside, dressed in red velvets. She tried to look at him, but with every thump inside her head, he split into two and she could not focus. "Oh, Cita," Kaden hurried over and put his fingers on her head. They were so cold, and Cita knew her head must have felt hot as magma. She felt as though she would pass out. Or die. Kaden spoke words that their Father taught him, and heat and electricity seemed to pass directly through his fingers into her brain. It hurt like a migraine threefold, but the sorcery located the pain and destroyed it, leaving her feeling weak and frail, lying down under her sheets. "Kaden," Cita whimpered, putting her hands over her face. "Oh, Goddess," Kaden hopped onto the bed with her and took her in his arms. He was sweet and comforting. "That was your worst headache yet. You need to take better care of yourself. I may not be here next time you go searching for him." "I know, I know," Cita felt him brush the long, black hair from around her face. "I just... I need to find him, but I can't. I'm so worried!" "And in turn, we're worried about you!" Kaden pointed out. "The Council needs you. I need you! Here, in the real world. Not lost in the fog. You're spending too much time there, Cita. It's weakening you." "I know, but... Father would know what to do!" Cita looked into his kind, red eyes. "I don't. I'm lost without him here." "He'll be back!" Kaden reassured her, slipping away and throwing the sheets from her. "Until then, you must not fall to pieces. Alaeyas needs you, sister. Not Father. The people love and trust you, and they're getting more scared every day." "It's been ten days," Cita complained, putting her feet on the floor and tying her long hair back into a ponytail. "Ten days since those Princes turned sixteen and Father and Jerod vanished without a trace. Without them, we are vulnerable! Word will soon reach the nobles, and the vultures will start to circle." "Armyn and Mala are strong!" Kaden told her. "They will keep Alaeyas safe. Us too." Armyn and Mala? Cita snorted aloud at her naive brother's assertion. Mala was a talented warrior, her skin protected by ancient Zyrian sorcery and a gift for skewering people with that spear of hers. She was a natural leader, a General of the Alaeyan army, and tirelessly worked to train as many soldiers as she could. Strength was her power, but she suffered from tunnel vision and lack of diplomatic prowess. Armyn was a different beast altogether. His affinity with the ancient Zyrian arts was the strongest of the Zyrian four, no doubt. His skill with sorcery was matched only by their father, and he had wits for sure. That said, Cita thought, Armyn's heart was tainted with hatred and malice. She had no doubts that he was clever, but her brother was impatient, reckless and arrogant. He was as spiteful as Kaden was forgiving. The two of them could not be more different. As good as Armyn was at using his power to hurt people, Kaden was just as expert at using his ability to heal and ease pain. "Armyn and Mala will have us at war sooner rather than later," Cita complained, applying some perfume to her wrists and neck. She sighed and looked at herself in the long mirror she kept in the corner of her room. Occasionally she saw things in there that other people did not. "I don't know how to stop them." "You're our representative on the Council, not Armyn or Mala," Kaden reminded her, stepping beside her and looking at their reflection. "You make the decisions. The people look to you, sister. They believe in you. That's why you sit with the Council where Mala and Armyn do not." "Then why do we answer to him?" Cita asked, meeting his eyes. "Why do we let him make all the decisions? Why do we do his dirty work for him?" "I'm afraid of him," Kaden whispered sadly, and Cita nodded. "We are all afraid of him. Even Mala, though she would never admit to it," Cita grimaced. Something looked strange in their reflection, though. She could see it. "Do you see yourself here?" "I do. I see you, too, and your clothes hamper and the lamp on your table. What of it?" Kaden asked, pushing his gorgeous red cloak behind him. "Do you see something else?" Mala and Armyn, she thought. Mala's shorter hair fashioned with her bangs and Armyn's cruel smile proved that. The four were identical and looked the same as the man who made them. It was her breasts, hips and nether regions that separated Cita from Kaden; else they appeared as reflections of one another. "Does a red Pegasus mean anything to you?" Cita asked him suddenly. "Red? Is that what you see?" Kaden frowned and pulled away from the mirror. "There are no red Pegasi, sister. Only those of the Alaeyan Princes. I have seen Vyma for myself. A beautiful but dangerous beast. But he is black. Why red? I'm afraid I do not have the answers you need. You are the seer, not I." "What good is being a seer when I can never make sense of the things I see?" Cita asked, but it was only a half-truth she spoke. She knew all too well that Armyn and Mala were the reflections of the two looking into the mirror. Or are we the reflections? Does it matter? We are all flesh and blood, and we share a mind. "I can't see any clues to where Father has gone, nor have I been able to see anything of Ronan Alae or the woman who stole him. I'm failing, Kaden. Armyn tells me to sleep as often and long as I can so I can find Father, but... I can't, no matter how hard I try. No matter how much I sleep." "Good. That means you can stop sleeping all the time and return to the Council where you belong!" Kaden told her, pulling her away from the mirror. The hard, determined eyes of Mala and the cruel smirk on Armyn's pink lips disintegrated. "The people need you to guide them, now more than ever. Whether Father is testing us or whether he is in trouble is not important right now, okay? We need to keep Alaeyas afloat with or without him. He is the strongest man in all of Ytia. I have no doubt he will return to us when he is ready." "Mala believes he's dead and Armyn believes he abandoned us to rot in the mess he caused," Cita looked intently at her brother. He was beautiful, no doubt. Girls melted at his feet, but Kaden had still not taken any to bed, unlike Armyn. He looked just like his father, but fifteen years younger. Kai, though, was a child when the Pegasi of Alae ambushed and killed the Wyverns of Zyria. Their father was hundreds of years older than he appeared. He was the sole survivor of the slaughter - just a young boy and his faithful Familiar. He must have been so lonely, Cita thought. So he made us. His children. You are not his daughter, a voice nagged at her. You are his creation. As is Kaden. The four of them all born of sorcery together. Armyn wished to learn this technique, but Father refused to teach him, Cita remembered. Ancient primordial magic, similar to the way the Goddess crafted Human and Familiar. I don't have a Familiar, though. I only have my sister and brothers. We share a mind, however, like Human and Familiar would. The four of us. It makes us powerful. "Pull yourself together!" Kaden put his delicate, gentle hands on her shoulders. "Come. Let's get you some fresh air. You have been cooped up in this bedchamber for far too long." "Perhaps you're right," Cita admitted with a faint smile. As much as she needed her father's guidance and support, her countryfolk needed her more. She sat on the Council to represent Kai - a vote that overwhelmingly favoured her over Armyn, much to her brother's fury. Kaden, though, would not let her lose herself in her dreams. To sleep too often is to see the world move by without you, Kai frequently lectured her. Kaden looked and sounded so much like him when he looked out for her. The Alaeyan Palace had once been a marble jewel in the south of the country, a place for Alaeyas' elite families, including Queen Palona and King Jaiden. Now, it housed everyone who did not have a place of their own. It was a haven for anyone who needed it. Anyone who was hungry, sick or homeless was welcome within these beautiful walls. In Alaeyas, everyone was equal. Those who had been wealthy before the coup were now no more or less valuable than someone who needed a chair with wheels to move. Wolves, bears and crocodile Familiars did not elevate status any more than those with insects and tiny rodents. It was a common misconception that Kai of Zyria stole the throne to become the new tyrant, creating four new images of himself to aid him in conquest. It was a lie spread by the former noble families and Queen Ninon herself, and the myth infected the whole continent, it seemed. None of them saw Alaeyas for what it was. We are a true collective. No person is denied reason to draw breath. Everyone has access to what they need to live a life that fulfils them most as long as they contribute to the common good. "Miss Cita, good morning!" A sickly old man gasped as he waited in line to see the medic, sitting in a wooden wheeled chair with a blanket over him. He looked dreadful, with pink boils on his face and his eyes tired and grey. "Good morning..." She greeted him, meeting with his eyes. Todd, a voice whispered to her. "Todd! The medic will take great care of you, okay? Good luck today!" If Kaden personally healed every sick person in Alaeyas, he would undoubtedly kill himself trying. There were many talented medics, most of them personally trained by Kai himself with tricks, tips and knowledge gained from his hundreds of years of training in the ancient arts. Kai and Kaden would heal those who needed it most. Those who suffered beyond measure with their ailments. Those who could not be cured by traditional means. Medical prowess and knowledge in Alaeyas were second to no country, but as a country that did away with the monarchy, they were shunned by the others. Iralia was coming for them soon, with Queen Ninon somehow convinced that they stole Prince Ronan from her. That was a ridiculous notion, of course. The Alaeyan triplets were welcome to live a rich and happy life, innocent of the crimes against the people perpetrated by their mother, but they were not welcome in Alaeyas. To the south of Iralia, Eodanira wasted no time in marrying Prince Soren to Princess Charlotte. According to Kaden's investigations, common folk and nobles in Eodanira alike had begun calling her the Alaeyan Queen. They were coming to take the throne back. There was no doubt. "Who from the Council is here today?" Cita asked Kaden as the two walked the halls of the Palace. The only function the Palace served that remained the same as before the coup was that the Council met here. Ten representatives from the ten different states of Alaeyas would meet, discuss and make decisions for the greater good of the whole country. Cita represented both her state and the Zyrian family, taking the place of her father after he resigned, feeling confident that Alaeyas was in good hands with the Council in charge and stepping back. "Willa and Zed are both in the Palace today," Kaden informed her, merrily waving at the other people who passed them. "If you need anyone else, I am happy to request their presence myself. What say you?" "Willa and Zed will do just fine," Cita smiled, remembering the sweet woman and her beautiful squirrel Familiar and the man whose children Cita played with as a youngster. "Where are Mala and Armyn?" I wait for you in the Council chamber, dear sister, Armyn telepathically told her. He's been eavesdropping on us, Cita thought angrily. He always does that. Always listening in on his three siblings lest they talk about him. Always watching through their eyes. The sociopath. At least he can't hear my thoughts. "Never mind, he's in the Council chamber," Cita added bitterly, and Kaden rolled his eyes. Don't give away too much, Kaden. He'll see it. He sees everything. Funny, because I'm supposed to be the seer, yet he's the one who seems to notice everything. "Thank you for your help, Kaden. You know where to find me should you need me." The Council chamber was formerly the throne room of the Alaeyan Palace. Their father, after overthrowing the Alaeyan royals, destroyed everything grand about the Palace. The stained glass windows had been replaced by pure, regular glass. The throne was gone, and in its place, a simple oak wood table sat with ten hardwood chairs. Armyn, of course, sat in a cushioned throne-like chair now that his father was not here to object. Aesthetically he was Kaden's exact duplicate, but he was nothing like him. No, Armyn liked the idea of reinstating power structures in Alaeyas. He fantasised about dominating the other countries and forcing them to submit to the Alaeyan way. He loved to be angry. Where Armyn, Mala and Kaden could see, listen and communicate through each other, Cita, the seer, was the one who could feel what her brothers and sisters were feeling. Sometimes, she could even listen to their thoughts, but it was difficult and often painful. Armyn's thoughts always caused her pain. His feelings invariably caused her misery. Yet, their father insisted that the four of them were symbiotic. They could not expunge him without dire consequences. Still, Cita thought, Father was reckless in letting Armyn get so powerful. "Well, look who decided to show up!" Armyn dressed like something Cita had seen when she had snuck from the Palace to visit a brothel with Mala once. It looked to be leather, and it had bright red rubies embroidered into the chest and shoulders. They looked like blood-covered spikes if Cita were to tell the truth. He always wore his lips in a smirk that chilled her blood, or a ferocious snarl that turned her insides to ice. Today he was happy, it seemed, but if Armyn were happy, it was often to the detriment of someone or something else. The jagged appearance of his cloak and laced bodice gave him an androgynous look, combined with the elaborate braids in his hair. Since Father disappeared, my dear brother fancies himself as the King of Alaeyas, Cita thought, and Armyn's eyes fixed on hers as though he were reading her mind. He can't, though. Only I possess that gift. Occasionally, Kai would preside over the Council to keep up with current events and lend advice where the Council asked for it, but to Armyn, it was not a democracy. He alone knew what was best for the country, and Cita could sense that her brother's intentions were to lead Alaeyas into war. I will not allow it, she thought — neither will Kaden or Mala. "I've been sleeping," she snapped at him coldly. "On your orders, in case you forgot." "Quiet," Willa grumbled, the old woman sitting on one of the chairs with a blue cushion for her weak back and her walking cane laying across her lap. "I didn't travel all this way to listen to you children squabbling." She often dressed in comfortable grey or blue dresses and had her hair tied back in a bun. Her eyes sunk into her head these days. She was getting to the end of her years, but as a woman who had suffered the oppression of the Alae family for so long, her counsel was invaluable. Nobody knew the plight of the poor and sick more than Willa, who had lost two boys to sickness, a girl to complications at birth and almost her one remaining boy. He was a man now, healthy and strong, but he almost died from a strange illness that seemed to cook the victim's organs with a fever; the same sickness that brought an untimely end to her first two children. Cita remembered watching her father heal young Nate and how Willa cried with gratitude. The woman's lovely little grey squirrel chattered on her shoulders, but it was getting as old and decrepit as the Human it was linked to. "So, no news on where Sir Kai has gone off to?" Zed asked - a middle-aged man with a handsome face, in spite of the wrinkles that began to sink into them. He'd been a member of the Royal Guard before the coup of Alaeyas, but now he served Kai as his chief adviser and bodyguard. His mouth was hidden entirely by his brown moustache, the same colour as the fur of the wolf by his side. "Is he alright?" "I wish I knew," Cita was getting tired of everybody expecting her to know all the answers all the time. All she knew of her dreams today was that a red Pegasus showed her affection before it vanished into the fog. "I don't have answers. All I see is a red Pegasus." "A red Pegasus?" Armyn remarked from his superior seat. He leaned forward, his crimson eyes narrowing. "What do you interpret that to mean, sister? There are no red Pegasi. Prince Wesley of Odesh has a red Unicorn, however. Is that what you saw?" "I know what I saw," Cita replied bitterly, not even bothering to look at him. Rather, she scratched at Zed's wolf behind the ears, and the Familiar loved it, leaning into her long nails. I wish I had a Familiar of my own. "It was no Unicorn. Don't patronise me." "So there is no sign of Kai," Willa summarised sadly, interrupting the two Zyrian children's attempts to snipe at each other. "What of Prince Ronan? Has Kaden had any luck trying to track him down?" "There have been reported sightings of a silver Pegasus with a young boy who fits Prince Ronan's description," Zed updated her, extending his fingers and allowing the old, tired squirrel to climb down Willa's hand and sniff at his fingers. "He travels with an Iralian Lady, a boy, a girl and a rhinoceros Familiar. That's all the intel we have gathered." "That's a pretty poor effort," Armyn remarked, rolling his eyes. "We need to find and eliminate that pesky Prince before Queen Ninon marches on us. We can't hope to defend ourselves against an invasion while our country is divided." "We do not kill innocent children," Willa turned and pointed at him with her stick, a stern look on her face. She did not fear Armyn. "We spare the Alaeyan triplets by your father's decree!" "Aye, a decree commanded when they were harmless little brats suckling at the teats of their wetnurses," Armyn had a petulant tone to his smooth voice. "They are sixteen now. Soren is married, and Orion soon to be, by Kaden's word. Ulisse is not a threat to us. Without their Krakens to fight their battles, they are nothing. Leave them to the Islands they love so much. Iralia and Eodanira share our borders, and both are ready to advance on us at a moment's notice. Half our treasonous country sides with the Alaeyan babes and the other half has no spine. What will we do when Eodanira seeks to put that slut Charlotte on a throne in our country? What will we do when Iralia invades us because our Father murdered that coward King? Tell me, my pacifist friends. What will it take for you to understand that no good can come from letting those Princes live?" "We do not kill innocent children!" Willa repeated in a louder voice. "We are a stronger country than we have ever been before under the guidance of you, yours and us." "So answer my question!" Armyn stood, taking steps towards the senior woman, who did not flinch at him. Armyn seemed to think that because he was a construct of Kai, people should fear and respect him the way they loved and respected his father. They did not. He was still only a child, especially in Willa and Zed's eyes. They watched the four grow from infancy to the teenagers they were nowadays. Zed's own children played with the Zyrian four as they grew up. "Iralia has declared war. Eodanira has more or less done the same. Those who sat on pedestals kicked down by Father rally against us, and you all wish to complain about the killing of three useless little boys? Letting them live was my father's biggest mistake. I do not mean to let them destroy everything he has built. Surely three deaths are better than thousands of casualties of war? Their claims to the lost throne are gone with them, and we snuff out the rebellion before it begins." "I think we can avoid war without going to such lengths," Cita told him, causing her brother to grimace and roll his eyes. "I have seen Queen Ninon in my dreams, and voices speak to her and tell her of plots and enemies. Likely Prince Ronan will have escaped to Odesh or Eodanira, but voices command her that we are responsible. If Kaden can only take the madness from Ninon, I'm sure she will see reason--" "What if..." Zed began, but quickly he shut his mouth. "No, speak!" Cita encouraged him, planting a kiss on his wolf's head and looking at the man. "What if we eliminated Queen Ninon?" Zed asked, going red. He blushed more easily than anyone else Cita knew. "If... if she were dead... I know Sir Armyn is strong enough to do such a thing. If he were to veil himself as one of the Iralian Palace guards and got close to her..." "Ooooh," Armyn's lips curled into a sly smile. "That is an interesting idea indeed." Armyn was not as strong as Father; she knew that. But he was the strongest sorcerer of the four of them. He had power. A lot of it - more than us, maybe more than us combined. That was primarily the reason why Kaden and Cita tolerated him throwing his weight around. He was frighteningly strong and reckless with his sorcery. Still, this might be the part Armyn was born to play, Cita thought. Father always did say that while Armyn was flawed of heart, he was here for a reason, but when Cita asked what that reason was, Kai did not seem to know the answer. I understand now more than ever, Father, Cita thought to herself. I know what it means to have answers, but no questions. I believed you wouldn't tell me, but now I see that you couldn't. "Killing the Queen or even the Princess will not do much good," Willa shook her head, her squirrel running back up her arm and resting in its favourite place - between her breasts. "You remove one tyrant, and another comes to take their place. Princess Melicent is the only daughter to Ninon, I grant you, but there will always be relatives to take the throne, and if you kill Queen Ninon, I guarantee there will be repercussions. Most unpleasant." "So we're fucked?" Zed asked, bewildered. It does seem that way. "We need the whole Council here," Cita bit her lip almost hard enough to draw blood. "We need everyone. We need to talk this out before we make decisions." Before we let Armyn turn us into a dictatorship, that is. "Send for them, and we will discuss what can be done about the rebels, Iralia and Eodanira." "Oh, you didn't hear?" Armyn asked, and Cita went cold. She hated the tone in her brother's voice — that arrogant, smarmy tone. "Tracey is dead. Assassinated by the rebels last night, or killed on their orders, I don't yet know." "Tracey? Are you certain of this?" Zed went white instead of red this time - what could be seen of his face, at least. "How could this happen?" "Aye, that's a good question!" Armyn turned his back and began to walk from the throne room, his long, ruby studded cloak trailing behind him. To wear such wealth was as an insult to the Council in itself. Armyn knew that, of course. "You pacifist prats have your heads in the clouds. The rebels and the other countries do not play by your rules, and that is why we are doomed unless we use our advantage now while we can. They are willing to stoop to levels that you aren't. I don't intend to die with this country." The day did not improve from there. Tracey was the beloved but loudspoken representative of the far north of Alaeyas, and she had been killed. By rebels, certainly. Word spread quickly, and chaos ensued in the Alaeyan Palace. People were scared. People knew that there would be conflict. It was inevitable at this stage. Where are you, Father? Why aren't you here to guide us? To help us? We've never needed you more than we do right now. As Cita put herself to bed during the late hours of the night, she prayed that she would not have dreams. She was not so lucky. "Tracey?" A man, thirty years of age and tall with a slim, athletic body and a scorpion nestled on his shoulder backed away from her. "It can't be! You're dead! The demonspawn cannot cure death!" "Aye, that is true," she heard Tracey reply. She was watching the scene from above. Tracey was dead, alright. Her brown skin had lost all colour, and her eyes were blood red. The skin around a puncture wound above her right breast had decayed and rotted. Poison from this man's scorpion. This assassin. "But I can cure the curse of life." Cita watched with horror as Tracey's dead, blue irises turned to crimson red, and Armyn's form took her place. "You! Demon! You!" The man babbled, then quick as a snake, he grabbed a dagger from his belt and threw the blade at his attacker. It approached, stopping mere centimetres away from Armyn's eye. The boy smiled, and the dagger fell to the floor. "You're going to have to try a lot harder than that!" Armyn giggled so innocently, but there was something so sinister in his tone that Cita felt sick. Armyn, don't do this! You will force us into war! Armyn then raised his left hand and began to chant in ancient Zyrian. Cita recognised the spell he was readying to use and tried to beg Armyn not to, but it was too difficult to talk to him while she was in Dream State. She was not able to stop him, and even if she were there in person, she doubted she could have stopped him. He was so strong. Armyn's eyes began to glow red, and a bright red gleam shone from his hand, lighting up the room and scorching everything it touched. The man, lit up in red light, screamed long and loud in sheer agony, a screech so pained and horrible that Cita woke up crying. Oh, Goddess! What has Armyn done?
  3. AusGlitterati

    Chapter 2 - On the nature of fear

    Panic attacks are brutal, but they do not define you. You can be strong! ❤️ I care and empathise, and if you ever need to talk, you can send me an inbox! ❤️
  4. AusGlitterati

    Chapter 1 - the beginning of fear

    Darling, you do what you need to do to stay afloat during these times, okay? ❤️ I know I'm just a random profile, but I do care. Stay strong!
  5. AusGlitterati

    The Promise

    She's a smart cookie! She's picked up the ball and run with it! Seeing Vladimir repeatedly struggle with his illness and receiving minimal support also drives Tyson to make that bargain with Cynthia, who isn't in the business just for the money. Thank you for the continued support and the encouragement! ❤️ It means a lot to me!
  6. AusGlitterati

    The Promise

    Oooh I agree with FGT, but I thought The Help did really well. Have a look at The Colour Purple if you get a chance! Thank you so much ❤️ It's more akin to navigating a maze with several wrong turns than it is a simple path. Many mental illnesses can be cured, but some can only be managed. No, thank you! I appreciate it! Yes! Cynthia bitch-slapped him with the truth and he's beginning to understand that there might be other ways. Actions speak louder than words and Cynthia proves how in tune she is with him and how well she knows him. Yaaas! I felt it was time. But the road to recovery is a long one and full of potholes. We'll see how well he keeps his word. Thank you very much for the review!
  7. AusGlitterati

    The Promise

    "Hello, boys!" Alice greeted them cheerfully, crossing their names off the checklist as she did her rounds. "Still here," Tyson replied grumpily, his eyes fixed on the movie they were watching. The Promise. It was interesting enough, but the room was noisy and the nurses were everywhere. The repeated checks were annoying to begin with, but with this being his fourth day in the unit, everything was getting up under his skin. "It's just nice to see you," Alice always brushed off his rudeness. "Also, I have some news for you." "Me?" Tyson looked back at her. "What? Why?" "Cynthia's in the building, and she'll be coming to see you shortly," Alice tapped her pen against her clipboard. "Are you ready to see her?" "Yeah," Tyson managed a weak smile. He liked Cynthia and he liked their chats, but this place was wearing him down. The medication. The monotony. The rules and the schedules and being treated like he was five. "How are you, Vlad?" Alice asked, noticing the raven-haired boy had not so much as stirred. Vladimir said something in Russian under his breath, his eyes fixed to a specific spot on the roof. He was off with the fairies today, it seemed. Tyson could barely hold his attention for a minute before he disappeared into his head and had given up trying to keep him grounded. Whatever schizophrenia did, it was keeping Vladimir too occupied with internal stimuli for the boy to respond to much else. Tyson was too mentally fatigued to deal with his problems and Vladimir's at the same time today. "Vlad?" Alice's knees always let out a magnificent crack when she knelt down, and she looked into Vlad's eyes. She snapped her fingers, but he didn't respond. "He's thinking," Vladimir whispered, his eyes widening. "Lighthouse." "Vlad? It's Alice," she continued to try and guide him back to the present moment, snapping her fingers again. "Vlad? Vlad?" "Маяк," Vladimir whispered in Russian. "What's a маяк?" Tyson asked both his friend and his primary nurse, curious. "It means lighthouse," Alice gently put a hand on Vladimir's shoulder. "C'mon, Vlad. Follow my voice, okay? It's Alice. Vlad. Vlad," she calmly and softly tried to get his attention in her delightful Irish accent, but he didn't seem to be able to take the wheel. He was on autopilot. "Vladimir, do you know where you are?" "I can do both," Vladimir replied angrily, but he didn't seem to be talking to either of them. "He didn't mean it. I know he didn't!" "Settle down, hon," Alice calmly put her hand on his shoulder. Tyson was getting worried. When he reached for Vladimir's hand, the boy snatched it from him. "It's Alice. Do you remember me?" When Vladimir continued to talk to himself in Russian, Alice decided it was a problem and used the phone hanging around her neck to call the nurse's station. "Hello, Janet? Yes, Vladimir has completely dissociated and he isn't responding to me. I think it best if he has somebody with him one on one for the time being. Bring some of his PRN medication, too," Alice said, standing up and keeping her eyes fixed on him. Tyson was scared. Was this why Vladimir was in the HDU? Was he dangerous when he dissociated? What happened to Vladimir that caused him to end up in a place like this? Did he hurt himself? Did he hurt someone else? If he was in the HDU, then he was dangerous to himself or other people at some point. So was Charlie. I wish I could fix him. Maybe Cynthia can fix him. She's doing okay with me so far. "Is he going to be okay?" Tyson asked feebly. Vladimir looked like he was in pain. He was cringing away from the two of them; then he shouted some words that Tyson did not understand. "He will be fine. I think he needs some space, hon," Alice told him firmly. "Would you be a dear and get ready to see your psychiatrist?" "I don't want to leave him," Tyson told her, his lip trembling. "He looks so scared." "We're going to take good care of him," she promised with a smile that creased the corners of her mouth. "He will be just fine. Off you go, now." Fuck you, Alice, Tyson wanted to shout at her, but he chose not to. Getting angry might have made him feel better, but it would not do Vladimir any favours, particularly when he was like this. With a scowl, he leaned on his crutch to prop himself up and hopped away. "Tyson!" Charlie passed him in the corridor, a rare smile crossing his cute face as he snuggled up to his pillow. "Not now," Tyson growled at him, upset at the state of his friend and not ready to talk to anyone at the moment. Only Cynthia. She understood. Charlie was a little boy in a twelve-year-old's body, and Tyson did not have the patience to deal with him. He was sick of this stupid place. He needed to go home, and then he wanted to sneak out in the middle of the night and find a tall building. He knew just the one — a rooftop restaurant, fourteen floors high. While it closed at eleven o'clock, the building had a nightclub on the eighth floor, and the square staircase was accessible night and day. He could let himself fall down the stairway to the hard floor below, or he could open or break one of the windows and jump from there. If only. This fucking ankle means I'd never make it into the city. Maybe I'll hang myself instead. I know how to tie a noose. "Knock knock!" Cynthia knocked on the open door, interrupting the boy's grisly fantasies. "How's my favourite patient today?" "I'm great, Cynthia!" Tyson replied sarcastically, causing her to snicker on her way over to the chair she always sat in. "I've got so much going on here that it's impossible to get bored and fucking irritated." "Whereas I relish the idea of having a few days of being waited on hand and foot in a psychiatric ward," Cynthia smiled, pulling the chair close to him. "I'd be thrilled to trade places with you." "No you wouldn't," Tyson pouted, folding his arms. "When can I go home?" "Not yet, I'm afraid!" Cynthia spoke calmly, opening up Tyson's folder and looking at what's been happening since last she visited. "Do you still have thoughts of self-harm and suicide?" "You wouldn't believe me if I said no," Tyson managed to grin. "You're right. I wouldn't," Cynthia smiled up at him. "So why don't you talk to me about it? How have the last few days been for you?" "Mostly boring as shit," Tyson complained. "There's nothing to do. The classes are too easy and there aren't enough books in the library. All I do is think of ways to kill myself. So don't you think keeping me here is counterproductive?" "You know what I love about you, Tyson?" Cynthia brushed her long, chestnut hair from her face and over her shoulders. "You're one of the brightest young men I've ever met. At home and school, you would be learning material that most students would not see until their VCE years of education. You learn instruments, you play sports and you read novels with the speed of a thunderbolt! I have no doubt that you would be climbing the walls in a place like this. So, in some ways, I agree that the AIU is counterproductive for someone used to living in the fast lane. That's why I'm trying to make this as short a stay for you as I can, but you need to do your part." In turn, what Tyson loved about Cynthia was that she validated his feelings. She took the time to listen to him and both sympathise and empathise with him. Edith disregarded most of Tyson's woes when he voiced them, casting them off as laziness or a bad attitude. Cynthia let him vent, she let him talk, and she allowed him to work out what was going on in his own way. "You're right about that," Tyson even managed to laugh. "I have all the time in the world to plan my suicide while I'm in here." "Yes, I can understand that," Cynthia replied, scribbling notes as he spoke. "It can be a challenge to keep yourself occupied. Have you been socialising with the other patients? I know you like your own company, but it could be beneficial for you." "Well, I have, actually," Tyson blushed under his dark brown skin as he thought of the cutest boy in the world. "Vladimir. He's funny and smart. We hang out a lot, but he has schizophrenia." "Oh, that's a bitch," Cynthia replied, and Tyson smiled. Cynthia occasionally dropped a swear or two in their sessions, and it helped him feel as though he were talking to a friend rather than someone paid to lecture him from a textbook about feelings and diagnosis. "Schizophrenia is difficult at any age, so I can't imagine dealing with it at the same time as puberty. How do you feel about him?" "I... like him a lot," Tyson admitted, and Cynthia raised her eyebrows. "I don't care that he's sick. He's been kind to me and he likes me too." "When you say you like Vladimir," Cynthia approached the question carefully. "Do you mean you want to be friends? Or do you like him more than that?" "I like him more than that," Tyson told her, and she giggled. "What?" "Oh, it's just written all over your face right now how much you adore this boy," Cynthia grinned, and Tyson looked away, embarrassed but smiling. "So, you made a friend! That's good." "I made two friends, actually," Tyson remembered Charlie and the kindness the younger boy had shown him, and he immediately felt bad about the way he snapped at him earlier as they passed. "Charlie. He's weird. Like, super weird. But he's cool." "Two friends! That's even better!" Cynthia praised him, and Tyson glowed. Praise did not come easily to him at home. If he got an A+ on his exam, Edith would only ask why he got two of sixty questions wrong. "So, you understand schizophrenia, then?" "Not totally," Tyson told her, looking back at her with sad, wide brown eyes. "He goes weird, and he hears things and he doesn't know what's real sometimes." "Delusions and hallucinations," Cynthia nodded, noting Tyson's words down on her clipboard. "How do you feel about that?" "I don't get it," Tyson replied after a pause. "But he's my friend, so I try to understand, but I don't. I don't see how someone couldn't tell what's real or what's not." "Have you ever thought you heard someone call your name?" Cynthia crossed her legs. She dressed in plain brown slacks coupled with a beautiful red blouse today. "Or you think you see something in the corner of your eye? A shadow that doesn't make sense? Does this ever happen to you?" "Umm..." Tyson frowned. "Yes. Occasionally. Why?" "That's a hallucination," Cynthia explained simply and shrugged. "We all do it time to time. The difference is that you understand that it's just your eyes or ears playing tricks on you, right?" "Yeah," Tyson was beginning to understand where she was coming from. "Vladimir might not know that what he's hearing or seeing isn't real," Cynthia continued. "That's a symptom of his condition. His brain isn't sure what to believe. It isn't his fault. The brain is a fickle bitch sometimes. When he hallucinates, it might seem as real as you are." "Okay," Tyson nodded. That made sense. Vladimir heard voices a lot, Tyson knew. Sometimes the Russian boy spoke back to them. He also saw someone scary — some monster with three heads that tormented him. "So, Mum came in yesterday, and you didn't want to see her," Cynthia brought up the next topic. "What happened?" "I hung out with Vlad's family instead," Tyson replied, not wanting to talk about his family. "They're cool. I didn't need Mum telling me I'm a fucking failure." "Well, you're free to deny visits while you're here," Cynthia replied, scratching her face. "But eventually Tyson, you will be going home to your family." "Yeah, well," Tyson sulked. "Nothing I can do about that. Except kill myself." "Let's disregard that as an option for now," Cynthia told him firmly. "How would you feel if you and your parents came to see me for an hour a week? I can mediate, bridge gaps and help you come up with strategies for both repairing the family dynamic and, of course, keeping you safe and comfortable." "No," Tyson shook his head. "It's not worth it." "What if you came in by yourself once a week as well?" Cynthia suggested, but Tyson did not see the point. "Why bother?" He sat up on his bed and put a pillow behind his back. "I can just kill myself and it's all over." Cynthia took in a deep breath and exhaled, scribbling more notes down on her book. She was hard to read, but Tyson knew he was disappointing her. "What are you writing?" He asked, curious about what she was thinking. "My grocery list," she replied flatly. "I'm running low on milk." "What?" Tyson frowned. "You're supposed to be helping me, not making a shopping list! That's not what my parents are paying for!" "Of course I'm not writing a grocery list, you goose! But you just proved my point," Cynthia tapped her pen against her clipboard. "Either you have completely given up on yourself, or you want my help, and you showed me just now that you want help. Well, you can't have it both ways, Tyson. I will do everything I can to help you, but you need to do your part. You can't be passive in your recovery. I can't just fix you. I can only give you the resources and support you need. Unfortunately, I'm not a magician. I'm only a psychiatrist." "But it's not possible!" Tyson felt tears welling in his eyes. She was right. There was a part of him that wanted help. A small part, but it was there, and she was bringing his attention to it. "You know what my parents are like. I'm never going to be happy with them. You don't know them. I just want to die." "I believe I know more than you give me credit for," Cynthia put her hand on his arm to calm him. "Do you want me to tell you what I think?" Tyson shrugged. "May as well." He wiped his tears away with his sleeves. "I think that your relationship with your family is damaged, we can repair it," Cynthia explained, looking through all the notes she'd written from their sessions. "I don't believe your family dynamic is one that rewards emotions, and it seems like you've tried to shut them down out of fear of repercussions. It sounds to me like an environment that values intelligence and associates it with stoic self-control. Perhaps your parents feel that your negative feelings are a sign of weakness, and their values have been projected on to you as you've grown up. I might be wrong; that's always a possibility, but I believe that's why you feel angry all the time, Tyson. You need an outlet. It's easy to be angry and lash out at others. It's not easy to express your misery, doubts and exhaustion in a place that scorns emotional vulnerability, and that's where the rage manifests. It doesn't surprise me in the least that you're desperate to get out of there." Tyson's lip trembled and he began to sob. He angrily threw one of his pillows at the wall opposite Cynthia, then he put his face into the other one and cried into it. So much suppressed misery and despair came flooding out of him as he shook and tears soaked the pillowslip. Cynthia asked if he was okay, but when he did not reply, she let him cry. She was scribbling again on her stupid clipboard. Tyson thought of his bitch mother, his dickhead father and his cunt of a sister. What's the point of living, anyway? They're all I've got to look forward to. But then he thought of Vladimir. That damaged, sick boy who kissed him, who promised that the two would get better together and be friends when they went home. The Russian family that embraced him as one of their own because Vladimir liked him. As the light of the sun broke through the storm clouds, there was once again that ray of hope. "How are you feeling? Are you alright?" Cynthia finally asked after what felt like a lifetime. "Yes!" Tyson sniffed, wiping the snot and tears from his face with his sleeve. "No! I don't know." "It's okay not to know," Cynthia reassured him. "But this is why I think family therapy is a good idea, Tyson. I also think one on one therapy would be beneficial. There is so much potential in a boy like you. There is no bigger tragedy than a life unlived because that person didn't believe there was any other way." "But it's all I can ever think about!" Tyson curled into a ball around the pillow he was holding, and all he could think was that he would never again judge Charlie for his infatuation with the pillow he took everywhere. It was comforting. "Dying. I'm obsessed with it." "Let me help you," Cynthia reached out and took his hand, gently running her fingers over it. "You're a smart, motivated young man. I'm sure that if you put half as much effort into finding solutions for your problems that you do into trying to kill yourself, you'll knock them out of the park. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I am saying that nothing is impossible. Not for you. You only have to try." "You know..." Tyson thought back to Vladimir. That beautiful smile. The way his friend had been coming to hospitals since he was six years old because his family could not afford quality treatment. "Vlady tries his hardest, but he's always coming back." "Schizophrenia can be difficult to manage," Cynthia acknowledged, but her eyes narrowed in confusion. "Can you talk to him? I mean, can you help him?" Tyson asked feebly. "His family can't afford a good psychiatrist, and he's stuck with some public employed dickhead who barely sees him for five minutes a week." "You want me to talk to Vladimir?" Cynthia asked him, uncrossing her legs and leaning forward. "That's not how we do things, Tyson." "Why not?" Tyson asked her. "You're awesome at this. You can make a difference for him. I know you can. You know schizophrenia, right?" "I do, but I can't just seize patients from other doctors," Cynthia told him firmly. "You're wasting your time on me," Tyson began to tear up again. "I don't think I can change. But Vladimir wants to! He tries, but without a good doctor, he keeps having relapses. You can help him more than you can help me." "Tyson..." Cynthia bit her lip. She was struggling, Tyson could see. A genuinely empathetic and compassionate woman. I'm not just a job to her, Tyson thought. She cares about me. "Please? I know his family can't afford it, but maybe you could make an exception for him? Please? He wants to be friends when we get discharged, but that can't happen if he doesn't have someone like you to help him out," Tyson explained the dilemma, and Cynthia listened to him. "He's the only thing I have to look forward to." "So you two plan to be friends when you go home. Is that right? Do you live near each other?" Cynthia asked, and Tyson nodded. "He's in the suburb next to mine," Tyson explained, and Cynthia sighed. "Alright, I'll make a deal with you," Cynthia proposed, scribbling once more on her clipboard. "If you promise to put everything you've got into recovering and comply with regular treatment on discharge, then I'll pull some strings and take Vladimir as a patient pro bono - if he and his family agree to it." "Pro whato?" Tyson asked, hardly believing what he was hearing. "Pro bono. It means without charge," Cynthia smiled. "If that's what it takes to get you to agree to a recovery plan, then I'll take care of Vladimir the best I can as well." Tyson almost leapt out of his bed to hug his psychiatrist, who laughed and hugged him back. She agreed! She's gonna help Vladimir! "Okay! Yes! I'll do it!" Tyson told her, eventually letting go and sitting back on the bed. "You promise?" "Yes. Anything for my favourite patient," Cynthia reached into her bag and pulled out a chocolate frog for him, and he beamed at her. "I think you've made a lot of progress today, Tyson, and I think this friendship with Vladimir is good for you! So I'll be back in two days, and I'll hopefully be able to see him, alright? And you, you made a promise to me today! Don't forget that when you're feeling down. When you have the urge to hurt or kill yourself, you go and speak to your nurse. They're here to help you, okay? If you are desperate, you can always talk to me over the phone." "Okay!" Tyson nodded solemnly. It was a promise he intended to keep. If Cynthia's expertise could help Vladimir finally get on top of his mental illness, then the two of them had something to look forward to when they were released. A friend. Maybe more than that. Hopefully more than that. "I also brought you something else," Cynthia reached into her bag and pulled out three large novels, and Tyson's eyes lit up. The Help, Fried Green Tomatoes and The Colour Purple. There were so few good books in the library. Most of them were for young teens, but Tyson read at a Twelfth-grade level. He needed novels. He needed to exercise his brain. "I know you're bored shitless while you're here, so I thought I'd leave you with something to read. These are a few of my favourites, so please be kind to them!" "I will! Thank you!" Tyson took them with trembling hands. He'd had so many emotions flowing through him that he felt weak and exhausted. But not angry. There was no anger in him at all right now. "For everything. I'll be good. I promise." "Good, or you won't get any more frogs," Cynthia winked before getting up from her seat. "See you soon, Tyson. It'll get better. I promise."
  8. AusGlitterati

    Zeke - Love

    Zeke "Here you go, Croix!" The fifteen-year-old boy, barefoot and barechested, smiled as he put the two empty trays on the stack by the basin. "It was a good meal. A bit greasy for me, but the Prince loves his potato slices that way." "Pity!" Croix, one of the chefs of the Ulisse Palace, shook his head as his lemur hung from one of the many unused hooks on the kitchen wall with its long tail and helped his Human scrub the dishes from after dinner. "What would he have for his morning meal on the morrow?" "If he's awake?" Zeke smirked, his eyes on Alaoi, the butterfly Familiar that fluttered around the kitchen. "He usually does not eat until after midday." "That lazy sod!" Croix laughed, and Zeke gave a titter of appreciation. "Well, I'll make sure there is some lemon porridge for him should he decide to leave his bed. He must be hiding from the sun with that pink skin of his." "He loves the sun!" Zeke beamed when he talked about Prince Orion. He was the personal retainer and secret lover of the Alaeyan boy. But Croix spoke the truth. Up in the northern Islands of Ulisse, the sun was harsh and strong, and most of the population had skin of dark brown. Orion had a lovely tan from his years here, but he still needed the protective cream the medics provided him if he did not wish to burn under the harsh rays of the northern sun. He wondered how Prince Ronan would cope with the scorching heat and the endless blazing summer of the Ulisse Palace when he arrived. "Goodnight, Croix. I am done for the evening." "Not yet, you're not," Croix playfully winked and his lemur tittered. "You're the worst!" Zeke gave him a shove, but a smile lingered on his full, pouty umber lips. During the day, he was Prince Orion's retainer and friend. When his duties were complete, however, he retired to Orion's bedchamber and lived with him not as a loyal servant, but as an equal. A lover. Croix knew. Everyone in the damn palace knew. Even the Queen. It made Zeke's life a journey full of jabs and jokes and snickers, but he did not care. He was an orphan struggling to survive on the Island of Salt before Prince Orion visited and brought him back to the Palace. At night, Orion belonged to him. Isn't life amazing? Zeke thought, watching his Familiar fly around. You're so happy here, Alaoi fluttered and flapped around his head, his wings a lovely blue, red and yellow pattern and with a pretty black outline. My oldest friend. Do you want me to leave you and the Prince alone? Maybe, Zeke smiled and looked shyly to his bare feet as he walked. He never wore shoes. Very few native to the Islands of Ulisse did unless tradition or diplomacy called for it. Is that okay? I will sleep elsewhere, Alaoi promised, and Zeke heard him chuckle. You boys have fun. Zeke smiled as Alaoi fluttered off on his own. He wondered what it would like to have a Familiar such as Orion's Pegasus or the legendary Kraken of the Lisse family. Something that could keep him safe and protect him. Alaoi was precious, no doubt, but he could not keep Zeke safe. Orion did, though. Anyone who had a problem with Zeke or Alaoi also had a problem with Orion and Rylan the white Pegasus. The Alaeyan Prince went to great lengths to make sure Zeke was comfortable and secure. He could see Orion in his mind right now. So handsome. Pink and brown skinned with those lovely auburn-red curls, the left half of his head shaved. Taller, agile and very cuddly. Cute as a button, and... "Mmm, look at that smile," a woman's voice shocked Zeke, and he looked to see Princess Bailey Lisse smirking at him as they passed in the open corridor. Her long, black hair dripped saltwater from her swim down her curvaceous brown body onto her webbed toes. "I know who you're thinking about." "Princess," Zeke greeted her politely, but he did not like her. She was to marry Orion when Ronan arrived with that Iralian assassin. My Orion. My Prince. "Goodnight." "Goodnight, Zeke," she touched him on the shoulder as she departed. "Have a great sleep. Keep Orion on a leash!" "I always do," he replied with a smile, but he could not hide the pain from his voice. Orion is mine. Not yours! Why can't you marry Ronan and leave us to be together? As if it could listen to his thoughts, he heard a Kraken surfacing in the waters outside and stopped by the window to see the beast. In truth, they terrified him. Monstrously large creatures. They could swallow even one of the Serpents of the Eoda family and have room for dessert. This one's skin was a disgusting, fetid grey colour, and its four eyes, two small on the sides of its head and two huge on the front glowed a horrible milky white. The grey one belonged to Princess Tora. Zeke cowered in fear. They terrified him. It gave a cry, the wailing creak reminiscent of a rusty door, and dived back into the waters, causing a wave the size of a full-grown man to ripple to the Island's edge and crash against its shores. He did not know how many there were. The Queen and her two daughters had those scary monsters as their Familiars, but so did many of their relatives that lived on all four major Islands. Smaller ones than the Royals, but there was no such thing as a little Kraken. "Orion?" Zeke asked as he opened the door to the bedchamber they shared, and someone grabbed him from behind and put their hand around his mouth. "Mmf!" He panicked briefly, but he heard his beloved speaking to him and began to giggle. "What took you so long, cutie?" Orion asked, planting a gentle kiss on his ear. Zeke pulled from the Prince's loving embrace and grinned at him. "I'm not even late! You're just impatient," he replied, and Orion looked at him with lust-filled eyes. "You're damn right I am!" Orion was beginning one of their favourite games. "Come here!" "No!" Zeke squealed and lunged away. "Leave me be!" "When you look this good?" Orion eyed him off hungrily, and his deep blue eyes had that playful glint in them. "I think not!" "Orion!" Zeke laughed and crept along the wall until the Prince had him cornered. "Stoppit!" "Never!" Orion caught his wrist and pulled him in close for a deep kiss on his dark lips. Zeke was not trying to get away from him in truth. He loved to play, though. He liked it when Orion pursued him and caught him. The Prince forever did come after him, too, and he always kissed him when he managed to get him. Orion's kisses were as wild and fiery as the Prince himself. Zeke loved the feel of those pink lips against his own, loved the look of Orion's tanned brown hands around his slender, umber-black waist. "Always playing so hard to get!" Orion pulled away and looked down at him mischievously. "What am I to do with you?" "That depends," Zeke flirted back, slipping his hands underneath his lover's undergarments and feeling him there. "What's the penalty for disobeying a Prince?" "This Prince?" Orion slapped his palm against Zeke's backside, causing an excited whimper from the boy. "You know the penalty, but you never learn your lesson!" "Teach me, then," Zeke murmured as Orion's fingers touched him in his most private places, and he felt the Prince harden in his fingers. "Come to my bed," Orion invited him, suddenly leaving his paramour and leaping to the feathered mattress. "Whose bed?" Zeke asked cheekily, and Orion gave that happy grin that he so often showcased. "Our bed! Now get here and get my undergarments off, already!" Orion teased, laying back on his pillows with his bared arms behind his head. "You're a terrible retainer!" "I'm the best retainer you're ever going to have!" Zeke slithered up to the bigger boy. "Did any of the others ever do the things I do for you?" "Well, you have a great point there," Orion nodded, his eyes glistening with excitement and lust as Zeke's black fingers began to edge down his tight-fitting silks. It was Zeke's favourite time of the day. The time of day where he and Orion could be together. Ulisse was a happy, free country. There were very few sexual taboos here. A man could marry a man, two women and a non-binary person all at the same time if he so chose, but the laws of Ytia were strict when it came to Royal Families. Orion must marry Princess Bailey, and likely Princess Tora would marry Ronan when she came of age. Zeke's bitter thoughts dissipated as Orion began to moan when his retainer used first his hand and then his mouth to please his Prince. Orion's hand found its way to the back of Zeke's head, gently massaging his lover's scalp through the black hair, and Zeke redoubled his efforts with his lips and tongue. He could feel his Prince getting close, but Orion rarely liked to finish in Zeke's mouth. He usually wanted to take it to the next level, and so he took Zeke's head away and kissed him on the lips before pushing him down on his back. Orion slipped down the boy's silk shorts and undergarments, and Zeke's hard cock stood up, slick with precum, and Orion was quick to lap it up and repay the favour. The feeling of Orion's mouth on him was hard to describe. His brain was too busy pulsing with the pleasure he was getting. When Zeke got close, Orion could sense it, and he stopped. The two of them had been together so often in the last couple of years that they knew everything about each other. Orion's mouth moved to Zeke's slightly hairy scrotum, his tongue dancing along the skin, and eventually, he used his tongue to tease and play with his lover's hole. Zeke was flushed and seeing stars by the time Orion inserted two of his fingers inside and stretched him, prodding and massaging the love button inside. Zeke oozed precum as the Prince pleasured him, and eventually, Orion withdrew his fingers and moved up to kiss Zeke again, putting the dark-skinned boy's legs over his shoulders and gently putting himself inside. Zeke was impatient, but Orion loved to tease him, as evidenced by the cheeky grin on his face that eventually turned into a gape of pleasure when he bottomed out. In, out. In, out. Like they'd done hundreds of times together, but it never stopped feeling perfect. They fit together as one, and as Orion began to approach his climax and thrust harder, faster, the Prince's hand grabbed Zeke's slick, throbbing cock and jerked in motion with his hips. They came together at the same time, Orion inside his retainer's hole and Zeke all over his black belly and chest. "I love you so much," Orion tenderly kissed Zeke's neck and chest, even licking up some of the semen from the boy's sensitive left nipple. "I love you too," Zeke palmed Orion's cheek, and the Prince smiled, eyes full of joy. "Now let me clean up." "Or what? The maid will find evidence of what we did in the morning?" Orion pulled out. "You're the bloody maid!" "Oh, stop! You know I hate mess!" Zeke pushed him away with a grin and slipped away to the bathing chamber to clean himself up as he did every night the two were amorous. When he returned, Orion was still naked, laying on his side. Zeke knew where to go. He slid onto the bed and let the Prince put his arms around him, snuggling into him tightly. If you want to sleep in the room, you can come in now, Zeke told his Familiar, and he smiled when he saw the beautiful red, blue and yellow butterfly fluttering in through the window. Thanks for giving us privacy. He loves you, Alaoi landed gently on Zeke's outstretched finger. I love him! Zeke smiled at the insect, and Alaoi flapped his wings in joy. "Hey, it's Alaoi!" Orion looked over his lover's head to see the butterfly for himself. "What's going on?" "He's just going to sleep with us tonight," Zeke told him, and Alaoi flapped his wings and took off towards the beams up near the roof. "Your butterfly's a pervert!" Orion quipped. "I've seen him watching us before!" Does he know that you wanted me in here so you could see yourself with him through my eyes while you were making love? Alaoi asked, sounding amused. Shh. He doesn't need to know that, Zeke grinned privately. "I'm not ready to go to sleep yet," Orion decided, pulling away to Zeke's sadness.The climate in the tropical Islands of Ulisse never allowed it be to cold, even at night, but he felt vulnerable without Orion there with him. After all, Zeke would still be a nobody from the Salt Island if Orion didn't take a liking to him and kiss him under the gentle spray of the blowhole the younger boy lived nearby. "Come for a dip?" "You want to swim now? In the dark?" Zeke sat up and looked at him. "You know how dangerous the tide can be. And the Krakens scare me!" "I'm not talking about a marathon between the Islands!" Orion exclaimed, pulling on a pair of simple cloth shorts from the basket. "Come and have a dip in the springs with me. Plus, do you have any idea how dangerous that sun is? The night favours me!" Zeke giggled. Alaeyas was almost half the size of the main continent, all of the west coast. The Alaeyan Palace was near the south, where the sun was gentle and the people pale-skinned. Orion had a lovely brown tan after years of living here, but the strength of the sun still burned him. The Islands of Ulisse lay north of both Ilaria and Alaeyas, and it was hot up here. While there were four main Islands, the Islands of Salt, Rock, Water and Sand, there were dozens of smaller ones around and between the main four. Orion's skin was not meant for the intensity of the sun this far north, and it burned easily if the medics did not smear cream on him. It wasn't uncommon for the Alaeyan Prince to wander and explore during the night. He was safe wherever he went as long as the Lisse Krakens prowled the ocean around the Islands and his Pegasus was by his side. "Alright! But we have to be discreet!" Zeke warned him, reaching over and fishing out another pair of Orion's shorts. They were a little big for him, but he tied a cord around the waist. "Discreet?" Orion laughed. "What are we discreet for? What's so scandalous about a Prince and his retainer spending some time in the springs? Do you think I plan to fuck you there?" "Oh!" Zeke felt the blood rushing to his face, but he his skin did not turn red. "I just meant... you know!" "I only wish to be with you outside these walls," Orion reached across to touch his lover's face. "During the daytime, I am the Alaeyan Prince, and you are my friend and retainer, but at night time, we are one. I love you, my sweet butterfly. Maybe one day I'll get Rylan to guard while I do fuck you in the spring. How about that?" "Ooh!" Zeke couldn't help but grin at the idea of doing something so naughty in a place so public. Keep it in your pants, Zeke, Alaoi's comment made the boy giggle. Do I come with you? Would you like to? Zeke asked him. He saw Orion's eyes glassing over as well. He must have been summoning Rylan, the beautiful white Pegasus. Of course! Alaoi fluttered down from his place in the roof and flew around the two of them. I enjoy the springs! Plus, I can keep an eye out for anyone who seeks to disturb you. We're not going to have sex in the spring! Zeke giggled louder, and Orion's eyes focused and looked at him. "I wish I could listen in on your conversations," Orion snickered, taking Zeke by the hand and bringing him to the window. "I'm grateful that you can't," Zeke responded as the flapping sound became louder and Rylan flew through the open window. A gorgeous beast. He was fiercely protective of his Prince, but he understood the boundaries. Out there, Orion belonged to Rylan. In this room, he belonged to Zeke. "Can I pat him?" "Of course you can!" Orion sprung up onto his Pegasus' back. "Okay, I just like to ask," Zeke was wary of the Pegasus. He knew how dangerous they could be in spite of their pure, innocent appearance. Rylan nodded, and Zeke ran his fingers gently between the beast's eyes while Alaoi perched himself on Zeke's shoulder. No matter how often he saw Rylan, he never ceased to be amazed by the beast's divinity. He took Orion's hand and hopped up on Rylan's back, and just like that, the winged Pegasus turned back to the window and took off. To swim was exciting. The salt water ran through Zeke's blood. His ancestors swam between Islands in years past and he had the webbed toes and fingers of the parents that created him. But to fly? That was something else. He held on to Orion's narrow waist and enjoyed the ride. Alaoi managed to hold on. The beast flew much faster than he did, so it would have been a long trip for the little fellow if he didn't. Rylan flew the three of them down to the entrance of the springs. The Island of Rock was the biggest of the four Islands of Ulisse and was home to both the Ulisse Palace and Onunu, the dormant volcano with a peak that breached the clouds in the sky. Volcanic vents once heated the springs, but now they were cold. The ocean around the Islands was warm, but inside the mountain, the rivers, streams and pools of water were much cooler. Orion loved them, Zeke knew. His blood, native to the south-west of Ytia, ran warm. Zeke's, as a native of Ulisse, did not. It made them ideal bed partners. Orion warmed Zeke, and Zeke cooled Orion. Zeke's body was designed for swimming in the oceans between the archipelago but it tended to get cold in the springs. Oion would be able to keep him comfortable with his natural warmth. He always did. Torches lit up the springs. Indeed, they were not the only two inside the caves. It was a popular spot for romance. "Ayy! Orion!" They cheered when they saw the half-naked Prince and the boy he was with, and Orion happily returned their greetings. Zeke was far too shy for that. It was amazing how casual and social Orion was with people he did not know. Regular people. As though he were one of them. If only he were just an ordinary person, Zeke thought sadly. I could have him to myself then. "Orion, are things going to change?" He asked meekly, putting his toes into a small pool chosen by the Prince. It had a gentle waterfall trickling from the ceiling to fill it up, and it, in turn, overflowed into a pool underneath them. Alaoi opted to explore the flowers and water plants that grew inside the springs. Orion pulled him inside and the cold water shocked him until the heat of his lover warmed him. Stay safe, he told his Familiar, who did not bother to reply. He was always worried about Alaoi. He loved his butterfly, and the feeling was mutual, but he was but a small insect. He could be squashed, and then... I would disappear. Our souls linked. What is a butterfly when compared to a Pegasus? An indestructible Kraken? He would not trade Alaoi for anything, but the worry always niggled at him. "What things?" Orion furrowed his brow. "When you marry the Princess," Zeke asked sadly, the question in the back of his mind since they left their room. "Are things going to change between us?" "Why would they?" Orion asked, lifting Zeke onto his lap in the water and kissing him on the neck, snuggling him with both arms. "You know! You'll be married to Princess Bailey as soon as Ro--" He began, but Orion quickly put his hand over his lover's mouth. "Shh!" Orion snapped at him, looking around them in case someone was eavesdropping. "If the wrong person heard you talking about that--" "I'm sorry!" He pulled Orion's hand away from him. Right. Don't mention the mission to get Ronan to the Islands because if that crazy Iralian Queen found out, she'd declare war. I'd like to see them try, Zeke thought. Ulisse did not have an army outside the Royal Guard. They did not need one, not even for defence. The Lisse Krakens living in the waters around the Islands were the biggest, most powerful Familiars in the known world. Big and powerful enough to overwhelm, destroy and sink the largest battleships Iralia could send at them. Zeke hated them. When they surfaced and cried out to the night sky, he would always snuggle closer to Orion, who would keep him safe. "I hope it works out, though. I really do. I just... I don't want to see you married to someone else." "Mehh," Orion didn't seem phased at all. "It's only marriage. It's not like I'll be joined to her at the hip." "If you mean to provide her with an heiress, you will! Literally!" Zeke pointed out, then he spoke much more quietly. "I love you, okay? I don't want to see you with someone else. I don't even want to think about it." "I love you too," Orion whispered back, barely louder than the sound of the waterfall gently rippling into the rocky pool they were in. "Why would that change?" "You'll be married!" Zeke hated it when Orion intentionally played stupid. "You don't think that will be a problem?" "What the hell does love have to do with marriage?" Orion asked him, screwing up his face. "The whole purpose of marrying Bailey is to give her a few kids. No law says she and I must be forever in love." "The vows say that," Zeke complained, and Orion rolled his eyes. Oh, you did not just roll your eyes at me! "Then the vows can go fuck themselves!" He exclaimed. "You know as well as I do that I'm just a babymaker. She knows that. I know that. You know that! I'll get her pregnant, hopefully with a daughter so as I don't have to try again. She'll probably find a paramour, and I'll keep you. What's the problem?" "Orion! Why can't you see where I'm coming from?" Zeke wanted to shout, but he did not want to draw attention to them. "You'll be with her! And I want you to myself!" "You think I'm looking forward to making babies with her?" Orion folded his arms and Zeke felt cold without them around him in the chilly waters. "Don't get me wrong; she's a cutie. Still, I don't like girls. I would probably enjoy fucking her Kraken more than what lays between her legs. But we all have our roles to play, don't we?" "And what's my role to play?" Zeke asked, his feelings hurt. "To serve your meals, do your laundry, tidy your room and suck your cock? Is that what I'm here for?" "Hey!" Orion turned on his Princely voice for the chastising. Here we go. "You're everything to me, but I have to provide Bailey with sons and daughters. That's all it is. Duty. I don't see why you're making a big deal out of this." "Because I love you, you dumb asshole!" Zeke growled and left the pool, water trickling from his undergarments. "I can't bear the thought of sharing you with anyone! Even her!" With that, Zeke left the springs in a huff, and Orion did not attempt to summon him back. What a jerk. Why is he okay with this? He's mine. Mine alone! Not hers! If he loved me, he would not marry her. He would refuse, and Prince Ronan could take his place when he finally got here. He wiped tears from his eyes and snot from his nose on his dark arms as he walked out of the cave and sat by the entrance, facing the ocean. "It's astonishing, isn't it?" A voice took him by surprise, and he turned to see a dark-skinned young man with long, black hair and dark, round brown eyes. "You think you can master your own destiny, and then something inevitably happens to make you realise you're not as in control as you might think." "What's it to you?" Zeke asked him rudely, and the man sat down next to him. "You love him," the man smiled warmly and reached out, gently stroking Zeke's face. Zeke pulled away. Only Orion could touch him. Not this stranger. "I can see it in your heart. Your love for him burns so strongly I can feel it." "Who are you? What are you doing here? How do you know me?" Zeke demanded of him, scowling with scorn and suspicion. "Why are you talking about Orion?" "My name is Kaden," the man replied, and suddenly the irises in his eyes flashed red and his skin paled to milky white. "You!" Zeke recoiled, recognising one of the Zyrian four, and scrambled away in fright. "Demonspawn!" "That's what they call me," Kaden smiled. He was half-naked, as were most of the Ulisse folk. He was beautiful, Zeke realised, but he was of Zyria. The ancient family. The unnatural spawn of the demon Kai. "Don't believe everything you hear, Zeke. I am no demon, nor are my brother, sisters or father." "What are you doing here?" Zeke stammered, realising how little courage he had. I'm just a weak little boy with a butterfly Familiar. What can I do? I'm nothing. I'm powerless. "I bear you no ill will," Kaden explained, brushing his long, black hair behind his shoulders. "I am only here to investigate. It's beautiful up here. Is the weather always so warm?" "It's Ulisse," Zeke was still frowning. "It's always warm. Why are you spying on us? What are you investigating?" "You need not worry," Kaden turned to face Zeke. "I'm not here to cause trouble. I'm just looking for some answers, okay? Orion is sixteen, yet he has not married Princess Bailey. Why is that? Is it that he is devoted to you instead?" Because we're waiting for the arrival of Prince Ronan, Zeke thought to himself, but he could not relay that information to someone of Alaeyas. I'm the paramour of their Prince, after all. "That's none of your business," Zeke told him coldly, standing up on the cool, wet stone underneath. "You should leave. If Orion should find you--" "Orion will only recognise me if I see fit to make it so," Kaden whispered a word of ancient Zyrian and all of a sudden, he once again looked like another of Ulisse's common folk. Dark skinned with webbed fingers and toes, his eyes almost black. "What about Prince Ronan Alae from the Iralian Palace? Do you have word of him?" "Why would I?" Zeke lied, hugging his naked torso with both of his arms. "Why don't you go and spy on him?" "I do not know where he is," Kaden told him, standing up to meet his gaze. He wasn't much taller than the little Ulissen, and he was slight in build. "Queen Ninon has declared war on Alaeyas. She accuses us of stealing Prince Ronan from her, and will stop at nothing to avenge her brother's death by my father's hand. Please, Zeke. If you know where he is, you must tell me. Orion knows. I'm sure of it. We know of the power he possesses to communicate with his brothers' Pegasi. Help me, Zeke. I do not want my country slaughtered by that... horrible woman." Zeke only knew what Orion had told him. The boy was so excited that his triplet brother was coming to Ulisse with that Lady Willow from the Iralian Palace. He did not know where Ronan was, nor did he know when to expect the Prince to arrive. He only knew Orion finally convinced Queen Layla to act and save the young boy. Still, he could not break confidence, especially to someone from Alaeyas. How will Orion feel to know that his actions have indirectly caused war to erupt between his home country and Iralia? "I'm only his retainer," Zeke told him. "But he will not treat with you. I know that for a fact. I suggest you leave, Kaden. Orion--" Once again, it seemed as though the Kraken were listening to him, and he heard the horrible creaky cry of one of them as they breached the surface. This one was alabaster in colour and much larger than the one that spied him earlier in the palace. It belonged to Queen Layla herself, and it was too big for Zeke even to fathom. The white, glowing eyes burned as it looked towards Kaden and it raised its abdomen above the water. Horrifying! The Kraken cried again, much louder, the sound piercing Zeke's brain, and it raised itself from the saltwater, giving both boys a good look at the immense size and sheer ferocity of the beast. There were small islands inside the Ulisse seas that were smaller in size than this monster! Six tentacles breached the surface of the ocean; long, thick appendages at least forty metres long. It took all of Zeke's resolve not to piss himself at such a frightening sight. It could eat me, he thought. One of those colossal tentacles could easily squash me like a bug. Like Alaoi! "The Kraken!" Kaden breathed, covering his mouth with his hand. He looked scared. "Goddess! I did not believe!" And just like that, he was gone. Zeke merely blinked, and Kaden had disappeared. Zyrian sorcery, he knew. The Kraken, as though it knew there was no threat to destroy now, crashed back into the ocean with a mighty splash, causing a massive wave of water to come Zeke's way. He fled back inside, the knee-deep water following him through the entrance and generating a stream of surprise among the folk in the springs. "Bloody Krakens!" Someone laughed, and a chortle spread throughout the members of the public soaking in the springs. "Orion!" Zeke was almost beside himself with panic as he rushed back up to the pool his Prince was still in, waiting for him to come back after their argument. He always did that, Zeke thought. He always remains for me to go back to him, no matter how long it takes. If not, he comes for me. He does love me. "What's wrong?" Orion knew immediately that his paramour was upset. "You look like you saw a ghost. It was the Kraken, right? Did it scare you?" "I hate the Krakens," Zeke admitted, sitting down in the cool water of the rocky pool and letting his Prince wrap his arms around him. "But no. It was Kaden of Zyria. He was here. He was outside. He spoke to me!" "Kaden?" Orion snapped to attention. "What did he want? Why was he here?" "He--he--he!" Zeke began to hyperventilate until Orion's loving touch calmed him down over the span of a few minutes. Do I tell him? I should. We don't keep secrets. "He wants to know about Ronan. Queen Ninon has declared war against Alaeyas. She thinks they stole him." "Shit!" Orion had nothing else to say, it seemed. Just an exclamation. "I didn't say anything!" Zeke told him, cuddling into the brown arms of his lover. "I wouldn't! I couldn't! And then the Kraken came for him, and he vanished!" Orion gently kissed Zeke's forehead. "You're okay. You're here with me," Orion shushed him. "I need to tell the Queen."
  9. AusGlitterati

    Ellis - Destiny

    He assessed his competition with the blue eyes of Alae. He smirked when he saw the heavy armour and the giant Zweihander sword in his opponent's hands. I will dance circles around this clown, he joked to Nulli, the beautiful red feathered Unicorn-Pegasus hybrid by his side. He doesn't stand a chance. Luckily this isn't a duel to the death, Nulli agreed, swinging his dangerous, sharp horn around and attempting to stick Ellis with it. With blinding speed, Ellis parried his Familiar's attack and pointed his rapier at the shiny red neck with an arrogant grin on his handsome face. Very lucky, hmm? Ellis cockily agreed and laughed heartily out loud. Nulli seemed to smile at him, his eyes beautiful, round and blue. Just like his Human's. Give the crowd a show, Nulli reminded him, and Ellis nodded. The queen knows you can decimate your opponent. That's not what she's here for. Oh, trust in me. I will give her a performance nobody will soon forget. Ellis rolled his eyes and admired the ornate blade in his hand. A gift from Queen Erika Ode for his eighteenth birthday some months ago. The beautiful purple handle of Odesh and a long, steel blade coloured the blue of Alaeyas and the eyes he shared with his Familiar. She was in the audience on a small throne to signify her status, but she was mingling with the commoners. She had a passion for duelling. She was the best of her time in singles bouts, but Queen Erika was getting older and slower now, going through the womanly change in her mid-fifties. She was many things to Ellis. Foster mother, trainer and mentor. He gave her a nod, and she returned it with a small smile. She was here to watch him win. She was proud of him. "Are you ever going to use that fucking toy?" His loudmouth opponent, as uncouth as he was tall and broad, spat on the ground. Charming. "I don't know if I'd call it a toy," Ellis quipped back at him as he twirled the dazzling, jewelled handle around his fingers, drawing laughs from the crowd as he posed for them. "But I will fuck you with it." Without waiting for the signal for combat to begin, the man swung his sword at Ellis. Ellis felt Nulli moving and did not even turn to face his would-be killer. Nulli's horn, hard as diamonds and deadly sharp, parried the blow for him and shoved him away with his brute strength. Ellis took several feint pokes with the fine blade he equipped to show both the crowd and the uncivil mad how many times he could have fatally wounded the attacker before posing again for the fans. Queen Erika's face was dark, though. She lectured him relentlessly about his need to showboat. I'll be in for a big talk later on, he thought grimly, focusing now on the fight ahead of him. Beside the behemoth of a man, a dog almost the height of Ellis bared its teeth. Ellis did not let himself be intimidated, though. I am the Crown Prince of Alaeyas and the heir of Odesh. You are nothing. "Move to disqualify Reziv Quorti from the competition!" Someone in the crowd yelled. "He tried to kill the Prince before he was ready to fight!" I'm always ready to fight, Ellis wanted to gloat, but he did not for fear of inviting Queen Erika's wrath. "I don't think that is necessary," Ellis said instead, opening up his arms. He was a solid man. Eighteen and a half, a body forged by the Goddess herself and trained in the duelling arts by the legendary Queen Erika herself. "Let him be punished by facing me." The fans began to clap, and Ellis looked up once again at Erika. She wasn't as unhappy this time. Good. I made the right call. This wasn't a fight to the death at all, but any man or woman who managed to kill Ellis would be hailed a legend, no doubt, even if they were put to death for it. He was the jewel of Odesh. The Queen's favourite of four sons, even though he was not born to her. "So be it," Jian, the woman in charge of the games, nodded. Her Familiar, a scaly Komodo Dragon, hit the purple gong with his tail, and then the match was on. Ellis never understood why fighters wore such heavy armour or why they didn't respect how much damage an elegant, pointed rapier could do. The Goddess herself forged the weapon for him, it seemed. He effortlessly parried, dodged and ducked and struck the Zweihander wielding moron dozens of times, making sure to make as big a fool of the idiot as he could. He even went so far as to visibly yawn in the middle of the fight, causing his foe to charge recklessly with rage and attempt to cut the young man in half at the waist. Ellis, quick as a snake, fell to the ground underneath the massive blade and used his leg to sweep the man off his feet. The fellow came crashing down hard on the sand underneath them, and Ellis ran up and kicked the man's head like a ball from the games he used to play with his foster brothers. Blood and broken teeth spilt from the man's mouth and his enormous dog whimpered in pain. "Do you concede?" Ellis asked, pointing his blue, shining blade at the man's chest. He wasn't even out of breath, but the poor soul on the ground was utterly winded, blood oozing from his mouth and sweat trickling from his armour. There's a reason they call me the Horn of Odesh, and it's not because of what I'm packing in my undergarments. "Or do I fuck you with my toy?" "I concede," the man moaned in pain and Ellis arrogantly put his foot on the man's chest, revelling in the cheers from those in attendance. When he looked to Erika, she was looking impressed. Nice. "The Horn of Odesh, still undefeated!" Jian cheered from the sidelines, and her ugly overgrown lizard banged its tail against the gong once more. "Anyone want a turn with the Horn?" Ellis roared to the crowd, and nobody stepped up. That's what I thought. He turned back to Nulli, who pawed the ground in joy at his Human's victory. Every time, these damn fools, Ellis said with a grin. It's a shame they don't let you have a turn, Nulli. You're more than a match than any of these jokers. I bet you'd have an undefeated streak of your own. We'll never know, will we? Nulli grunted as Ellis sprang up and landed on his back. He spread his wings when Ellis hugged him around his neck, and he took off. Ellis didn't want to walk back to the Palace like his foster family would do on the backs of their Unicorns. He was better than that. He was Alaeyan, and Familiars of Alae have wings. It was by luck that Nulli was blessed too with the horn of Ode's Familiars. He used that horn like a weapon better than any clumsy swordsman that travelled Odesh looking for duels. When the two sparred, Ellis always won, but Nulli was quick and terrifying with his sharp horn. Faster and stronger than he looked. Between us, nobody can come close. Not those three little triplets and certainly not that demon who killed my mother. I'd back Nulli against a Wyvern of Zyria any day. If the Pegasi of Alae could pick off and kill the Wyverns of Zyria all those years ago, Nulli would tear them apart. The Palace of Odesh was the most beautiful place in the continent. Before Queen Erika closed the Odeshi borders from Iralia and Eodanira, adventurers and tourists from all over Ytia came to see it for themselves. Covered entirely in plants, vines and flowers of every colour, but purple, the colour of Odesh, was the dominant one. Ellis loved living here. A palace worthy of the forgotten Alaeyan Prince, that was for sure. Have a bath! You reek! Nulli teased him upon flying through the vast, broad window of Ellis' bedchambers. It's a warm day! Ellis pat Nulli's cheek as he disembarked from the beautiful red beast. Clobbering some sense into the barbarians of Odesh is hard work. Yeah, you sure made it look that way, Nulli looked at him. You know Her Majesty is going to be angry with you for the way you acted. Let her, Ellis stripped off his shirt, revealing a hard, muscular body. I am the only viable heir to her throne. She needs me. You forget yourself sometimes, Nulli urged him, stomping on the mossy floor underfoot to make his point. Queen Erika took you in when you might have been put to the sword as a babe. Nobody in Alaeyas even knows of your existence, so your claim to the throne means nothing there. "I have you," Ellis spoke aloud this time. "Not only a Unicorn of Ode, but a Pegasus of Alae. You are the only claim I need." You're an idiot, Nulli shook his head, but used his long tongue to affectionately lick at Ellis' sweaty face. It will be the end of both of us. I can see it now. Nulli needs to have more faith in me, Ellis thought to himself as he stripped off the rest of his clothes. I'm the future of our country. I'm the future of Alaeyas. Those triplet brothers of mine have no idea who they're competing with. I have been trained for this since I was sent to foster at Odesh. I climbed the highest mountains of Odesh, I dived from the cliff into the sea below, and I survived weeks alone in the woods, desert and plains. I learned to fight as soon as I learned to walk. My Queen has starved me so I may appreciate food, dehydrated me so I may appreciate water, forced me to live without aid among the commoners so I may appreciate their plight, and even drowned me so I may appreciate the very air itself. I am no ordinary man. The blood of Alae and Ode both flow through my veins. I have the Pegasus of Alaeyas and the Unicorn of Odesh to prove it. The Alaeyan Princes? Who cares about them? I am the only Prince that matters. That's why the Queen has hidden me away and isolated us. She's playing the long game. After bathing in water almost hot enough to poach him, dressing in his favourite sleeveless tunic and smearing some of his favourite sweet-smelling perfume on his wrists and neck, Ellis was ready to see the Queen. She would have feedback for him. She always did. She had only just ridden in Violet, her dazzling purple Unicorn when he reached the entrance to the Palace without Nulli. "Your Majesty," he greeted her with a smile and a subtle bow, and Erika laughed at him. "Cut that out and help me down!" She smiled at him and extended a gloved hand. She was still a comely woman despite her age. Wrinkles now creased her face and her once strawberry blonde hair was fading further by the year, but she was always trim, fit and pretty. Ellis reached up and helped her off Violet's back. "Are you sure you don't want to start flying on Nulli's back?" Ellis asked her. It took the Queen twenty or thirty minutes longer to arrive back at the Palace. The entrance was all purple. Flowers and shrubs and creepers decorated the stone pillars. The scent of honeysuckle and roses filled the air. "That's kind of you, Ellis," Queen Erika brushed the greying hair from her face. "But I could never leave Violet behind." She lovingly brushed the brilliant mane of her Familiar. Ellis left Nulli behind in his room. "So, what do you have to say to me?" Ellis asked her as they strolled through the open corridors of the palace, the Queen admiring the ocean view on her way past. For fifty-six years, Queen Erika had lived in the Odesh Palace, and her love for the ocean view never wained. She made sure to leave her oceanside windows open in her bedchambers no matter the season. The sound of the waves crashing on the cliff the Palace was built on always calmed her, she said. "I think you're needy and desperate for approval," Erika told him, looking back at him. "You're cocky, and despite my best efforts, you still take your position here for granted." "And?" Ellis asked, a proud smile crossing his handsome face as he brushed his red bangs from his face. "What else?" "You're the best bloody duellist in the country, but you already knew that," Erika slapped him on the back, and he knew that she was proud of him. "The people love you, Ellis. They look up to you. That's what impressed me most about you today. However, you're not as invulnerable as you might think. That's what worries me. You seem cursed to think you're better than you are no matter how strong you get. Always remember that it takes one misstep for your opponent to get an advantage. In a duel... or in politics. Never give up your advantage for anyone for any reason." "That's what you've been doing," Ellis recognised the relevance to his political position in the Queen's words. She had him whereas Eodanira, Ilaria and Ulisse had three little boys, none of whom knew he existed. "Exactly!" Erika seemed proud of his sharp mind. She trained him in everything. Swords, spears and even the bow. She tutored him personally in all things, even politics. She favoured him over her three biological sons. "Things are happening in the west, Ellis. Are you aware of this?" "No, but you're the one with the spies, not me," Ellis reminded her. "What things? Are we ready to make our move?" "What did I just tell you about giving up your advantage?" Erika slapped him in the cheek. Not hard enough to hurt his face, but hard enough to hurt his pride. "Today you turned your back on a man whose intent was to see you dead. Tomorrow, you would make your move when your political opponents are yet to show you your hand? I was thinking of telling Geoffrey that he is not to be my heir after all, but I don't believe you're ready for that." "I am!" Ellis insisted. The Queen did not have any daughters to continue her legacy. She, unfortunately, had three sons instead. Geoffrey and Wesley were older than him, but Varo was only fifteen. They loved him as a brother, and he loved them, but Ellis always knew that the day would come where he would officially usurp his foster brothers' place as the heir of Odesh. He was hoping he proved it today, but Erika had high expectations, and he did not meet them. Soon, though. "That remains to be seen," she seemed to take pity on him and gently brushed the cheek she'd only just slapped. "You are still a boy in too many ways. Impulsive. Reckless. You bed a different girl or boy every night, and you drink far more than you should. I have taught you many things, but you must do your part, Ellis. Grow up. You are ready to rule in Odesh, I do not doubt that, but you are not ready to rule in Alaeyas. Not yet." "To rule in Alaeyas?" Ellis echoed the words of his foster mother. It was not a strange thing for her to say, but to hear her speak of his home country was always jarring. "Walk with me," Queen Erika instructed him, taking his hand and strolling along the open corridor. She signalled those tending to her to remain and let her be with the Alaeyan Prince alone. "Alaeyas is in an appalling state right now." "I thought it was a free country," Ellis frowned. "Happy, healthy and ruled by a fair Council." "Oh, it is," Queen Erika was shorter than him, but she had a way of appearing bigger. A fierce, fair and wise woman, to be sure. Nobody had ever beaten her in an unlimited duel before. She was retired from competition now due to age, but Ellis wished he could have faced her in her prime. What a contest that would have been. "So?" Ellis asked, tugging at her hand. "Perhaps I worded it poorly," Erika gave a sharp smile. "It's a place of paradise, but it's not going to last. You know your brothers all turned sixteen recently. They are marrying Princesses. Iralia and Eodanira are both itching to put their Princess on the Alaeyan throne. I have no word of Ulisse, but we must assume they are no different. Alaeyas is the largest country in Ytia, but Ilaria has the strongest and biggest army. There will be war sooner rather than later." "What will the Council do?" Ellis asked her, and Erika shrugged. "The Council of Alaeyas is currently occupied. The country is on the brink of civil war. When Kai of Zyria overthrew the Royal Family and killed your mother, he put an end to the hierarchy. Nobles became commoners, and the poor became wealthy. A true collective. Admirable, in a way. I have done what I can to follow his example. Nobody in Odesh goes hungry, and everybody has reason to draw breath. But in Alaeyas, the former nobles are rising in rebellion, and whether it is Prince Soren, Prince Ronan or Prince Orion to arrive first will not matter. They will side with whoever attacks first to reinstate the Alaeyan Royal family and the hierarchy. The rich do not take kindly to losing their place and privilege it would seem. Who would have guessed? The truth is, Ellis, your mother was a terrible ruler. Still, Kai of Zyria was staggeringly naive when he thought this new system could work indefinitely." "So what does this have to do with me?" Ellis asked, narrowing his eyes. If there was no Royal Family in Alaeyas, there was no point in sending him home. "Oh, my Ellis," Erika giggled. "Always demanding to be the centre of attention. Well yes, you do have a significant role to play, my Prince of Alae. But not yet. First, you need to learn how to rule. You need to grow up. I need to know for certain that you will do what is best by the people you serve. The nobles of Alaeyas believe that putting any fool on a throne can make the country stable, but they have a short memory. Under your mother, Queen Palona, many of the common people suffered, starved and died. Monarchy comes with responsibilities, and Palona failed. Queen Ninon of Ilaria is a brutal, savage woman. Only lust for power and vengeance fuels her, and she will do whatever she can to take Alaeyas for herself after Kai destroyed her brother. You must do better than them." "Under Ytian law, I cannot effectively rule as a male, mother," Ellis reminded her, and she looked to him. "I love you like one of my own, but I am not your mother, Ellis," she corrected him. "Your mother died because she let her country down and Kai of Zyria stepped up to make Alaeyas a better place." "You sound like you admire that demon," Ellis accused her, anger flooding through him so viscerally that he forgot she avoided his statement. "He murdered my mother! He practises the dark arts, and he spawned unnatural children without Familiars." "He is no demon," Erika rested her arms on the next window and looked out to sea. Once upon a time, Geoffrey told him, ships from Ulisse would frequently dock by the Odesh Palace. Tourists. Sightseeing. Trading. Now, no ships were welcome in the waters surrounding Odesh. Nobody was welcome across her borders, and anyone who left Odesh was not permitted to return unless Queen Erika herself approved. It was a very private place. "What is he then?" Ellis asked bitterly, joining her at the window. The beautiful blue sky and deep cobalt water underneath softened him, and he managed to control his anger. Emotions lead to mistakes, Erika taught him. "When all is said and done," Erika lectured him, putting her arm around him and hugging him closer. "Kai Zyria is only a man. He knows the ancient magic of Zyria and his Familiar is a Wyvern. That's who he is. Don't let his reputation scare you. You have an anomaly by your side. A flying Unicorn. I know for a fact that some of our people believe you to be born of magic or miracle. I am one of them." "What do you mean?" "When your mother fell pregnant to someone related to the Ode family during her visit here nineteen years ago, she birthed you, and with you there spawned a Pegasus... but with a horn on its head. King Jaiden and all of Iralia would have been furious to know she shared her bed with someone that was not her husband, so she sent you to me, and the whole continent believes that Queen Palona Alae's first child died during birth." Erika told him this story often. He'd heard it since he could speak. "Anomalies with Familiars are very rare, Ellis. Women pass Familiars down to their children and men often do not share their power with their woman. You're special. You were born for this, and I have done everything in my power to make it so. You need to take the next steps. Prove to me again that you're worthy of ruling Odesh. Prove to me that you're worthy of ruling Alaeyas. Prove to me that you were born to make this world a better place, and I will see it done." "I will, mother!" Ellis leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. She chuckled and hugged him closer. "I'm not your--" she went to say, but he cut her off. "Maybe not, but I love you like one," he beamed down at her. "You've done more for me than any mother has ever done for her babe." "That's my job," Erika smiled. "I have work to do. Go. Today is a beautiful day, and I'm sure you and Nulli could have a terrific time out in the sky." "Wait," Ellis grabbed her wrist, and she looked up at him. "What will we do about my brothers?" "The Princes?" She furrowed her wrinkly brow. "They are not our problem, Ellis. They are only a claim to the lost throne of Alaeyas. It's their Royal Families we need to have eyes on." "Not those brothers," Ellis told her. "Geoffrey, Wesley and Varo." "Oh, you're so sentimental," Erika teased him, cupping his cheek. "Look, I love my boys to Heaven and back, but I will choose the son best for the throne. Geoffrey believes he will rule through that weak, spineless wife of his when I am gone and she is crowned Queen. He has always believed it is his right to be King; that he is entitled to the crown because he was first born. I have raised you to understand that your duty is to the people. You are my chosen." Erika chose that moment to turn away and leave, a strange glint in her eye. She smirked and raised an eyebrow. "Your foster brothers will have to accept that." With that, she left. What's with her? "Hmm, is that so?" Varo piped up from behind Ellis, almost making him jump out of his skin. How long has he been there? He looked much like Erika did when she was younger. All children born under the Goddess looked like their mothers. The boy seemed near invisible and silent as a shadow. Varo's narrow eyes assessed him. He was a boy of fifteen, short but still growing and already hard with muscle. He was not able to match Ellis in duelling, but he was far more deadly than his long, effeminate hair, almost pink, and soft, indigo eyes lead people to believe. He assassinated his first man at the age of nine. Ellis did not kill until he was thirteen. "Varo, what have I told you about sneaking up on me?" Ellis leaned casually against the creepers lining the palace window. "How long have you been eavesdropping? What did you hear?" "Enough to hurt Geoffrey's feelings," Varo spun a dagger around his nimble fingers much like Ellis would do with his rapier. Ellis was unarmed, but he did not at all feel threatened. He was faster and stronger than the younger boy. Varo dressed in tight black silks with his hair tied into a large ponytail. Every year he matured he grew more beautiful, Ellis decided. The girls fell for his high cheekbones, muscular body and dry wit. Heh. They were barking up the wrong tree. Young Varo was not interested in women. "Not mine, though. I already knew I would never sit upon a throne. I have no interest in that chair." "I will not sit on that throne either," Ellis reminded him. "My wife will - whoever Mother chooses for me." "She isn't your mother," Varo replied coolly as he reached the pair. Ellis rather enjoyed Varo, but this was uncharted territory, and he knew he needed to be cautious. The two were closer in age than Geoffrey and Wesley and grew up as close brothers, but when it came to politics, he did not know where Varo's loyalties would lie. With me, his friend? Or with Geoffrey and Wesley, his true brothers? "I have not birthed a child, but I wager she would remember if she squeezed you from her womb." "And you are her favourite because you were the smallest of the babes she birthed," Ellis joked, and Varo's lips cracked into a pretty smile. "Tell me what you heard, Varo." "I happened to come along when she praised you like the Goddess herself birthed you from the Heavens," Varo took his mother's place by Ellis' side and looked out the window the way she had. "You know what they say about eavesdroppers. They never hear anything pleasant about themselves." "Then you should mind your business, shouldn't you?" Ellis remarked, and Varo merely shrugged. "I have two older brothers, Elly. If I wanted to sit the throne, I would have killed them already," Varo quipped, but Ellis knew there was an element of truth in his baby brother's words. "She's always loved you more than her real children. Obsessed with you. It can make a boy feel inadequate, especially if he's every bit as strong as you." "That sounds suspiciously like a challenge, little Varo," Ellis turned to face him. "If you have something you need to say to me, then say it. Don't hide behind your words." Varo turned and made eye contact. The only sounds were the waves crashing against the cliffside out the window and Ellis' heart beating in his ears. The younger boy smiled and put his dagger safely in his belt. "I have no quarrel with you, Elly!" He said amiably, hopping up on the window ledge. One small push or a strong gust of wind, and he would fall hundreds of feet below and splatter against the rocks. There was no fear in him. None of the Odeshi Princes knew fear. Their mother had made sure of it. "But I'm not Geoffrey or Wesley. I don't imagine my brothers will be pleased when news of Mother's decision to formally crown you as her heir reaches their ears." "Will you tell them?" Ellis folded his arms. He refused to be intimidated by this boy, as much as Varo did everything he could to get under Ellis' skin. "Do you want me to?" Varo cocked an eyebrow flirtatiously. "Shall I tell Geoffrey to forget his plans of ruling through Katrina? Or do I keep this between us so that you may strike first?" "If you say anything to anyone, you won't live to regret it," Ellis warned him, grabbed his wrist and pulling him off the ledge. Varo landed on his feet like a cat, tossing his long, strawberry blond hair back over his shoulders. "So, you want me to keep your little secret? What's in it for me?" The boy asked provocatively, brushing his fingers against Ellis' chest. Ellis had been privy to Varo's obvious crush on him for a long time, but he did not return those feelings. He was not a brother by blood, yet he was a brother all the same. But Varo knew that he was one of Ellis' few weaknesses, particularly the passion that burned for his foster brother. "Your life," Ellis replied stoically, shoving his brother away and turning before Varo could have the satisfaction of seeing him blush. "Don't sneak up on people, Varo. Anyone could have thrown you from that window." "You'd never hurt me!" Varo shouted back at him, sounding amused. I certainly don't want to, Ellis thought. But if you force my hand, then I won't let you get in my way. I am the only Prince that matters. Not only in Alaeyas, but in Odesh as well. The future of Ytia depends on me. Not Varo, as much as he would like to be the hero. Ellis reached his chamber, ready to take Nulli for a ride out above the waves, but there was something that chilled him when he arrived at the door. Stuck to it with a silver dagger was a small, heart-shaped cut of parchment with one scrawled word on it. "Horn." He knew exactly what that message was. He had been marked for death.
  10. AusGlitterati

    Larissa - Rescue

    Lorcan is a brave lil soldier ❤️ Haha yes. I'm definitely open to suggestions because there are going to be a lot of characters. ;\
  11. AusGlitterati

    Larissa - Rescue

    Larissa Willow "Lady Willow," the young servant boy, aged no more than nine, gingerly knocked on the open door. "It's nearly time for dinner. May I tidy your chambers?" "Come on in," Larissa beckoned him inside warmly with a smile on her bronzed brown face. Lorcan was her favourite of the young servant boys, and she often did his job for him so that they could spend some time together. Today, she needed information from him. She needed him. "Have a seat." "I shouldn't," the boy said uncertainly, the small falcon perched on his shoulder giving a cautious caw. "I have to tidy up before it's time to serve Prince Ronan his food tray." "I already tidied up," Larissa offered, beckoning with her head. "Come in and have a rest. It would be rude to refuse an offer from a Lady, wouldn't it?" "Yes," Lorcan admitted with a smile. "But not for too long! I'll get into trouble." "I won't tell," Larissa closed the door behind him as he walked inside. His yellow clothes were dirty and unwashed - a reminder of the position he held in the Iralian Palace. He was a servant. No more. No less. She was a Lady, and she wore a golden gown with black trim. It signified her position in the Palace. "I have something for you." "For me?" Lorcan asked, immediately nervous. "I can't accept any gifts. You know that, Lady Willow." "You can and you will," she ordered him with a smile on her face. Her bedchamber was lavish and ornate in Iralia's home colours of gold and black. Pictures of her ancestors and the Royal Family adorned her walls. She was a high-ranking member of Iralian society, after all. No husband and no children, though. She did not fancy the idea of having her own family when there were so many unfortunate young boys and girls working in the Palace to make her life so comfortable. Viv, Warrick and Lorcan needed her. She reached into her second drawer and pulled out a lump of dark brown chocolate, and Lorcan's eyes lit up. "I won't tell if you won't," she winked, and Lorcan's shaking hands gratefully took the prize from his friend. "Thank you, my Lady!" He bowed respectfully before first breaking off a small piece for his falcon to gnaw on as he sunk his teeth into the sweetness. "Do you think you could introduce me to Prince Ronan?" Larissa asked him, knowing what the answer would be, but she never liked to say never. "Mm-mm," Lorcan shook his head sadly, his mouth full. Eventually, he swallowed and spoke to her. "Nobody is allowed to see Prince Ronan." "You are, aren't you? You give him his dinner tray," Larissa ran her fingers through her long, straight chestnut hair. "How is the Prince?" "I'm not supposed to..." Lorcan grimaced, but Larissa wasn't satisfied. "You know you can trust me, don't you sweetheart?" Larissa reached over and gently caressed his cheek. Lorcan, the property of the Queen, did not have a mother or father to raise him, and it was like petting her Familiar. He loved affection. Peeta the Rhinoceros was watching the conversation intently from her gargantuan cushion on the floor. As fearsome as the beast was, she loved the way her Human ran her fingers between her huge eyes and made grunts of approval. "He keeps saying that war is breaking out," Lorcan whispered ever so softly, terrified of breaking the Iralian rules. She didn't blame him. If she were indiscreet, he could lose a lot. His fingers. His eyes. His head. Iralia built itself on discipline and order. Punishments were brutal and oppressive, but the common folk were used to them. "Where? When? Who?" Larissa took his hand and sat him down on one of the golden cushioned chairs. This could make or break her mission. War? "Tell me." "Prince Ronan's Pegasus can hear his brothers," Lorcan explained, gnawing again at the chocolate she treated him. "Two days past, Prince Soren wed Princess Charlotte and both Armyn and Kaden of Zyria warned them that there would likely be war." "You're sure of this?" Larissa didn't doubt that Lorcan would tell her the truth, but she did feel fear from those words when he nodded shyly. She was six when Alaeyas died, and the Zyrian demon seized the throne for himself and spawned four devil children the very next day. The fear that rippled across Ytia remained. A malaise across the continent. But Kai confined his genocide to the Alaeyan Royal Family it seemed. He killed Queen Palona Alae and King Jaiden Ira. But what monster not only spares infants but delivers them to Royal Families of neighbouring countries? If anything, Queen Ninon was the monster. So furious by the death of her brother Jaiden at Sorceror Kai's hands she was, she confined Prince Ronan Alae to his bedchambers for the remainder of his days. She only needed his claim to the Alaeyan throne, of course. After he gave Princess Melicent a daughter following their wedding, she would probably put him to the sword in the name of vengeance. That will not happen, Larissa promised herself. "Lorcan, do you ever think of a life outside the Palace?" Larissa asked him, putting her hand on his. She was quiet. The death of Queen Ninon's brother made the crazy bitch paranoid and easily slighted. She had eyes and ears everywhere. "No," Lorcan immediately answered and shook his head. "I am here for the rest of my days." "Like Prince Ronan is?" Larissa asked, and she saw doubt in the boy's eyes. The three servants who attended her were not part of her mission, but she was not going to leave them behind. Viv, a girl of fifteen, served her breakfast and tidied her room in the mornings and Warrick, a boy of twelve, had noon duty. She loved them. All three of them. "He will be married to Princess Melicent in a week, and then he will spend the rest of his life locked away. Viv and Warrick, too. And you. You will never leave the walls of the Palace, and neither will they. Does that seem fair to you?" "It doesn't," Lorcan whispered, his eyes nervously fixed to the chamber door. "But that's how things are." "I'm a Lady of Ilaria," Larissa reminded him. She would say anything to win him over at this point. Leaving him here was simply not an option. The poor boy would not be unscathed by her disappearance, especially if Prince Ronan happened to disappear as well. Queen Ninon would find a reason to have him put to death. He's too young for that. "I have wealth. Friends. Influence. Nobody can take care of you better than I." "Yes, Lady Willow, but you speak of treason," Lorcan shifted away from her. It's true what he speaks. But I have a mission. Treason is the least of my worries. "I speak of taking a trip to the islands of Ulisse!" Larissa corrected him, hoping this would convince him. "It's lovely up there. Ulisse is warm and free. Common folk and nobles alike share bread and water. No prisoners. Only freedom. I was hoping you would accompany me. Viv and Warrick too, and Prince Ronan. Do you want to see the Islands for yourself? Do you want to live in freedom? Or do you want to be a servant until the Queen decides you are a spy or traitor and she takes your head? Don't you remember Greta?" "Of course I do," Lorcan sniffed, wiping his eye at the memory of the girl he replaced. Princess Melicent disliked her because she was too pretty and that was enough for her to disappear. "Help me, sweetheart. If you do, I will keep you safe," she smiled at him. "I promise." "What do you want me to do?" Lorcan asked, and she knew she'd won his support. Good. We're leaving tonight, then. "Do your jobs as you would normally do," Larissa instructed, watching him finish off the chocolate she had given him. "If it is safe to do so, let Prince Ronan know of our plans when you serve him his tray. Speak to Viv and Warrick, and make sure you are all awake tonight while the castle sleeps. I will come for you, and we will take Prince Ronan with us to Ulisse where his brother lives." "Why Ulisse, Lady Willow? Eodanira is much closer. So is Odesh," Lorcan pointed out. "We would have to travel such a long way." "Queen Layla Lisse wishes it so," Larissa whispered. Although she had not liaised directly with the Queen of Ulisse, her employer did. Rescue the lost Prince and bring him to Ulisse. "Prince Orion is as a son to her, and he wants his brother safe and happy. Ulisse is the only safe place for him, do you understand? Alaeyas will not have him. He will not be welcome in Eodanira, because Queen Tyffane wants her daughter to be Queen of Alaeyas. He will not be safe in Odesh, because Queen Erika Ode will treat him no differently than Queen Ninon. You could be a hero, Lorcan! People will sing songs of those who rescued Prince Ronan from the Ilarian Palace." "Okay," Lorcan nodded, and Larissa kissed him the forehead. She did not need to liberate these three servant children from their lives in the Ilarian Palace, but they deserved freedom. "I'll tell Prince Ronan when I see him." "I'll come when the castle sleeps," Larissa promised him. "Now, go on! I'm getting hungry, and we can't escape with empty bellies, can we?" Lorcan shot her a grin, and he left with his bird on his shoulder. Oh, Peeta, Larissa looked over to her Familiar, happily ensconced on her pillow. It's finally coming to an end. So much waiting and planning. We could have done this weeks ago when we were charged with the duty, Peeta grumbled back at her, moving her enormous head to make eye contact. Her terrifying horn put fear into the hearts of many women and men alike, but Larissa found it fascinating. Are you certain those servant children worth all this delay? I won't leave without them, Larissa insisted. We're not arguing about this again. Lorcan will be an asset to us. His falcon can give us eyes from above. And the others? You're too soft, Peeta was Ilarian to the core. Tough and ruthless. She did not understand emotional attachments, but Larissa did. It often caused arguments between them. Being disciplined and strong were Ilarian values. Larissa was both of those things - a Lady, yes, but also a formidable woman. Tough and well trained in combat. All Ladies in the Ilarian Palace were. It was a country that glorified strength above all. It will eventually kill us. I don't plan on dying, Larissa walked past and stroked Peeta's horn. Neither should you. But this might get messy. Can I count on you to do anything necessary to keep my children safe? To keep the Prince safe? You're soft and reckless, Peeta nuzzled her with her horn. I think you're mad, but whatever you need of me will be done. Larissa dined alone that night on synthetic pork with vegetables. She had a particular love for corn and often hoarded cobs of the stuff in her room. The meal came with a message she discovered in her mashed potato. Once she cleaned the parchment off, she grinned. Viv and Warrick are in! Excellent. To rescue Prince Ronan as a trusted citizen of the Ilarian Palace wasn't going to be easy, but she had been ready for a long time. It was her love for the other children that stalled her and caused tension with her employer. I need them with me, she thought. They're my friends. An hour past midnight, Larissa changed from her loose, golden nightgown into an all-black outfit - a long-sleeved tunic, tights, leather boots and gloves. She tied her long brown hair into a tight bun. Showtime. Stay. I'll be back with the young ones, Larissa ordered Peeta, who enjoyed her last few minutes on her favourite pillow. She would have felt safe with Peeta by her side or under her legs, but she was a great, massive beast and much of tonight's work needed to be completed covertly if they were to succeed. If it goes wrong, let me know, Peeta replied, giving the nod to her Human. Larissa was not going to let anything go wrong. Over time, she'd learned everything she needed to know for this operation to work. The shifts of the guards, the patrol routes, when people went to bed and the torches snuffed out. She knew how to get to the Prince, and she knew how to get to Lorcan, Viv and Warrick. Her only regret was that she could not personally kill Queen Ninon tonight. Even if she had access, the Queen's Griffin would tear even Peeta to shreds. The Iralian Palace was all stone. Grey, with gold and black decor. It made it easier to be unseen in the dark, and Larissa moved quickly and silently. She was not a trained assassin, but she was confident she could fight and incapacitate a guard if need be. Many of the guards in the Iralian Palace had bear Familiars patrolling with them, however. She did not like her odds against them. The three child servants slept in an unlocked room behind the kitchen where they might be called upon at any point by the Queen, Princess or a Lady of the Palace. Larissa gently opened the door, and as instructed, all three of them were alert and ready to go. Lorcan with his falcon, Viv with her small cat in her arms and Warrick with his great creepy rat hiding somewhere in his garments. "Let's go and get the Prince," Larissa whispered, and the three youngsters all followed her out as silently as possible. Prince Ronan's bedchambers were conveniently close to her own, at the top of the tower. She sometimes heard guards changing shifts on the landing outside her door, but the handoff had already happened tonight. Larissa took an elaborate route from the kitchen to her bedchambers. One that was awkward and frustrating for everyone involved, but the one that carried the least risk of discovery. You're up, Peeta! Larissa told her Familiar as they climbed the spiral staircase towards her bedchamber. You're going to break down the Prince's door. As you wish, Peeta was already on the landing by the time Larissa, Viv, Warrick and Lorcan all arrived. Larissa saw her Familiar's look of disdain but ignored it. Peeta saw little value in the children. Well, she can get over it. I'm the Human, not her. "Alright everyone, this is the part that gets dangerous. Are we ready?" Larissa asked. There was no covert way to slip past the guard at the top of the stairway and get Ronan out of his prison. "Yes!" All three of the kids excitedly replied. Peeta lead the way up the stairs. The sole guard that kept the public from Prince Ronan heard the rhinoceros coming and cautiously came down to investigate. It wasn't uncommon for Peeta to walk the stairs at night when Lady Willow had a troublesome night with sleep, so he wasn't expecting anything out of order. Larissa lay in wait, obscured by the darkness and black wall, and used her dagger to stab the man's heart. There was no sound, except for a gasp from Warrick. It was easier to kill the Human than it was to deal with the Familiar. Bears did not play around, and a fight between Peeta and a bear would wake everyone from here to the Ulisse Palace. Sure enough, the small group stepped over the dead bear around the corner. "It's for the greater good," Larissa reminded the children, but the horrible scene did not scare them. Executions were frequent in the Ilarian Palace. Queen Ninon pointed the finger at someone she deemed to be a traitor, and that was it for them. She saw enemies everywhere. The room at the top of the stairs. Larissa had never seen it for herself, but the children had. They alone saw the Prince. Not tonight. Tonight, he's coming with me. Go! Larissa commanded, and this was the end of the stealthy part of the escape. Peeta charged at the heavy wooden door and knocked it clean off its hinges to a squeak of surprise from within. "Ronan?" Larissa looked in the darkness and saw him. A boy so pale from lack of sun that he seemed to absorb light from every source around him. So white. He was shirtless and barefoot, clad only in undergarments. He looked so thin and frail for a boy of sixteen, and he was the saddest person she'd ever met in her life. That changes now. "Is this the rescue?" Ronan asked, terrified. The poor thing. He might have been expecting an execution, for all Larissa knew. "Get on your Pegasus. We're going to Ulisse," Larissa ordered, and the Alaeyan Prince did as commanded, hopping atop the silver Pegasus. Larissa briefly stopped to admire the beauty of such a creature. Twelve feet long and glittering in the light of the torch on the wall. Ronan either kept the torch on for the rescue, or he was terrified of the dark. "Children, hop on either Peeta or the Pegasus." Viv and Lorcan opted to ride with the Prince. The Pegasus lowered itself so that the youngsters could hop on its back along with Ronan. Viv wrapped her arms around Ronan, the cat safe under her tunic, and Lorcan wrapped her arms around Viv. The falcon was free to fly. With no more room on the Pegasus, Warrick and his rat hopped up onto Peeta's strong back with Larissa. "Hold on tight, darling!" Larissa told Warrick. "It's going to be a rough ride." Peeta set the pace - almost a gallop down the stairs. With the recent ruckus going on in the tower, people were beginning to move around in the castle. Guards and civilians. Mow down anyone who gets in the way! Larissa commanded. Queen Ninon was a mad, evil woman. Anyone in the Palace lived by her rules and tolerated her tyranny. That made anyone who stood between her and her mission fair game in her eyes. Peeta would not mourn their deaths. Neither will I. Like you needed to ask, Peeta snorted through her large nose to emphasise her point. Larissa looked behind her and Ronan was following close behind on the Pegasus. She felt Warrick's arms squeezing the breath out of her as she maintained her grip on her Familiar's harness. Ladies of the Palace screamed and ran back into their rooms as Peeta charged her way down, threatening to impale or crush anyone who tried to stop her. This is going to happen, Larissa thought. We're going to get out! Peeta knew where to go, and Ronan's Pegasus only needed to follow. Once they were out of the tower, they ran across the courtyard to the north entrance to the palace. Giant wooden doors that kept the Palace secure. Hold on! Peeta ran at full speed, a great black battering ram that weighed three metric tons going at seventy kilometres an hour. Larissa did as Peeta warned her and put her head down, telling Warrick to do the same. It worked. She ploughed through the door, making a crash that would have woken up every single person in that damn Palace. They were out. Peeta kept running, and Larissa saw the Pegasus flying above them. We've done it! She looked back to see if Warrick was okay, but she was shocked to see that he wasn't there. He was gone. Where did I lose him? Go back! She commanded Peeta. We lost Warrick! Are you crazy? Peeta yelled back at her. If he's not dead, he will be. We don't need to die as well! I'm not leaving him behind! Larissa smacked Peeta on the side of the head. Go back! Now! You'll thank me for this when you come to your senses! I'm not letting us die! Peeta stubbornly refused to go back and continued at a gallop as the three children on the Pegasus flew a dozen metres above them. You bitch! Larissa choked back a sob. Warrick was a person. A good person. He deserved a life. A full life. Larissa promised him one, and now he was gone. I did this. You have Ronan, Viv and Lorcan, Peeta reminded her, running at a steady pace. There would be pursuers, particularly now that the Prince was no longer in his prison. That's two more than we needed. Two people you saved. I guess, Larissa thought, but rather than thinking about the lives she saved that night, all she could think about was failing Warrick as the four of them and their Familiars fled north into the night. They reached the Forest of Night before they slowed down, a couple of dozen kilometres away from the Palace. Both Peeta and the Pegasus needed a brief rest after the sprint out of the Palace. "Who are you?" Ronan asked, clinging to his Pegasus' neck. "Oh, I'm sorry darling," Larissa dismounted off Peeta and made her way over to the three children on the beautiful silver Pegasus. "This young man didn't tell you? I'm Lady Larissa Willow, and this is Peeta. And you're Prince Ronan Alae." "I am," Ronan looked at her suspiciously. He looked older than sixteen. Years and years of living in a windowless chamber had taken a serious toll on him. "Where is Warrick?" "Warrick... didn't make it," Larissa revealed to the sobs of all three children she was looking at. "I'm so sorry." "He died for me?" Ronan asked, his long, wavy hair falling over both shoulders. He looked like a girl, Larissa thought. He was beautiful, but he looked distraught and broken. "Warrick?" "What happened?" Viv asked with a shaky voice. "Somewhere on the run, we lost him," Larissa choked on her words. Warrick's dirty, angular face and oily brown hair weren't exactly beautiful, but he was a lovely kid. Lovely, obedient and friendly to all. Now he was gone. Dead for sure. The Palace Guard would execute him on the spot with their bears. "I'm sorry." "Can we go back?" Lorcan asked, his bird flying around overhead. "I want to go back!" Ronan demanded, and his Pegasus nodded. Timi the Silver. Three Pegasi, the tale went. One black in Eodanira, one silver in Iralia and one white in Ulisse. It was truth. Moonlight glittered off the beautiful beast's silver mane and enormous wings. "We can't go back," Larissa told him firmly. "I'm sorry, but I'm in charge of this operation, and you're staying with me until we get to Ulisse. Your brother is waiting for you." "Orion?" Ronan gasped. It was as though he had only now realised he was free. Imprisoned so long that the walls were in his head as well. "Yes, darling," Larissa nodded happily. "Now, my Lorcan tells me that you believe there will be war soon. Can you tell me about that? Your brothers told you?" "I was watching for myself," Ronan replied, beginning to shiver and his teeth chattering. The poor boy. He didn't put on any clothes, but he clearly knew that she was coming for him in the night. Maybe he didn't want to get his hopes up, she realised. Perhaps he protected himself by preparing for failure. Being a prisoner for so long... she couldn't imagine what it must be like for him to leave his bed chamber for the first time. "Here," Larissa slid off her snug leather jacket and slipped the Prince's arms through them, and he almost began crying with gratitude. "You need to stay warm. We're still on the south side of Ytia and we won't find Ulisse until we reach the north coast." "I didn't think it would ever happen," Ronan reached back and looked at the two other children. Viv, her large, fluffy grey cat peeking out from her tunic and Lorcan, the sweet boy whose bird flew overhead. "I thought I would live through my brothers forever." "What did you see, Ronan?" Larissa asked him, putting her gloved hand on his white, almost grey fingers. "Tell me. War?" "I saw Soren's wedding. He rode me to the throne with Princess Charlotte," Ronan explained. "I watched through Vyma's eyes. I never truly believed I would see anything like this for myself." "Yes, but we have a lot of traveling to do, my Prince," Larissa snapped at him, causing him to flinch. "I need to know what to expect. Is Alaeyas coming to liberate Iralia? Is Eodanira planning to invade us? Or Alaeyas? What is going on?" "It's those demon children," Ronan's voice was barely a whisper. He was still so cold. "They want to kill us. Me and my brothers." "Well, nobody's going to hurt you while I'm around," Larissa promised, and she extended her promise to both Viv and Lorcan as well. "We're going to Ulisse. Together." "Lady Willow," Lorcan interrupted. "My falcon can see riders from the Palace coming in our direction!" "No!" Viv whimpered, and Larissa's heart began thumping. We don't have much time. "Come along. We won't let them get to us," Larissa ran back over to Peeta, who had regained her breath and a look of determination in her great, black eyes. "They'll do anything to get you back, Ronan, and they won't be happy with any of us for escaping the Palace. We need to go forward. Now. We'll find some clothes for you soon, but right now we have to put as much distance between Queen Crazy Bitch and us as we can." "Larissa?" Ronan yelled out to her as she mounted Peeta again. "Yes, my Prince?" Larissa looked over at him wearily. "Thank you!" He smiled for the first time, and in a grand swoop, Timi the Pegasus flew off, enjoying the privilege of stretching his wings after being in captivity for so long while Viv and Lorcan held on tight. Good. They'll be safer on Timi than Warrick was on Peeta. Maybe I failed Warrick. But three children are alive and free because of me. I didn't fail them.
  12. AusGlitterati

    October, 2018 (B)

    Aw good! Better that than the opposite! Hah you softy ❤️ Good! That's exactly what I was going for even though it had a slow start. Out of context that's just a weird comment hahahaha The story has not come to an end just yet. She's retiring from in-ring competition, not To The Stars! My heavens no, I need her!! Haha thank you friend ❤️
  13. AusGlitterati

    October, 2018 (B)

    Saturday, October 6th "Hey," Sean's voice through the phone was sweet to hear. It'd been entirely too long since he'd heard it. Although they'd been at the same show on Friday, Sean had avoided him, and Diego was okay with that. "Hi," Diego replied a little coldly. He didn't appreciate being thrown under the bus by the boy he loved - the boy who allegedly loved him too. He deserved to come out when he was ready, not when Sean had a crisis of conscience. Ollie did not have to know about their affair, especially after he'd given them the go-ahead to sleep together. All that did was hurt Ollie. That wasn't fair on him. The cheating wasn't fair on him at all, but what purpose did Sean's revelation serve? "Umm..." Sean's voice trailed off. "Mmm?" Diego was angry with him still. "What do you want?" "Don't do that," Sean whined. "You know what I want!" "Actually Sean, I don't know what you freaking want!" Diego snarled back to him. Wow. He'd suppressed his emotions enough to avoid letting it affect his work and family life, but he didn't realise how mad he was. There just wasn't time for personal issues when he was working in England. "Do you know what I want? A good explanation as to what the hell you thought you were doing last week!" "I don't think I have one," Sean began sniffling on his end. Oh, come on. That's not playing fair. Don't cry. That's cheating. "Not a good one, at least. I lost everything, Diego. I just... I wanted to stop feeling bad." "Oh, cool," Diego grumbled, remaining unmoved by Sean's tears. "So you make Ollie, Rachel and I feel bad instead. You tell everyone what we've been doing together. Your boyfriend and my girlfriend. With no warning!" "I know--" Sean tried to speak, but Diego cut him off. "It was not the time or the place, Sean!" Diego shouted, and Jimmy grimaced with a look of pity. "I'm sorry about everything that happened that night. I know it was the worst day of your life. I understand. But... why would you do that?" "Alright, I screwed up!" Sean shouted back, and Diego heard him crying. His heart immediately softened. It was Sean. He still loved Sean so dearly, even if he was furious with him. "How do I fix it?" "How should I know?" Diego sighed, rubbing his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. "Look, you and Ollie need to sort your stuff out first, okay? I'm not even supposed to be a part of it." "So you don't want to talk to me?" Sean asked him, and Diego rubbed his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. Why is everything so hard? "I didn't say that!" Diego reassured him. "I'm mad at you, but I'll be okay. Is Ollie going to kill me?" "Ollie's not mad at you," Sean sounded like he was sulking. "He's mad at me. He won't talk to me at all." "He hasn't spoken to me either," Diego pondered what the usually jovial black man was up to. Rachel, although the two agreed to be friends, was not happy that Diego had been sneaking around behind her back, and she was cold as ice. "Can you talk to him, maybe? For me?" Sean pleaded, and Diego sighed. "No, please. He won't answer my texts, and I've left, like, a hundred voicemails." "Sean, I don't want to do that." "Please? He's angry at me. Not you. I'm the one who screwed everything up. Just try and talk to him? I'm worried and--" "Sort it out yourself," Diego snapped irritably, causing Jimmy to shoot some desperate glances. He didn't have much luck eavesdropping. He must have been keen to know what was going on. "Bye, Sean." "No, I--" Sean tried to get in, but Diego hung up. "Wow, I wish I'd been there to see it for myself," Jimmy mumbled, tying his long, brown hair into a neat bun. Some silver hairs were beginning to show above his ears, but they looked good on him. "No, you don't," Diego shook his head. "The only good thing to come out of that night was Lance, Gloria and I deciding to get our shit together." "Yeah, it was nice to see the old Gloria back in the ring," Jimmy grinned. In the ring, James Vause looked like an uncaged animal. A rabid creature bent on destroying anyone in his path. So tall and muscular, pale with fine brown hair on his chest and belly. But here, in the hotel room they decided to share - partly because Jimmy was lonely since his breakup and partly because Diego didn't want to be alone with his thoughts - Jimmy was smartly dressed and well-groomed. He was handsome in his early forties, but if it weren't for the parts of his long hair that were beginning to grey, he could pass for someone in his early thirties. He took fantastic care of himself. Diego thought he was attractive, but he wasn't quite Diego's type. Diego liked pretty boys and pretty girls. He lusted after Sean, Rachel and currently Jane Stefanov. Oh, the things he wanted to do with her. But he still felt things for Sean. Strongly. But... was it worth hurting all these people to make it happen? Diego wasn't sure. He was tired of being the asshole. "It looks like Gloria's getting a push of some sort," Jimmy continued speaking, and Diego took his eyes off the man's insanely athletic body, barely hidden by his pale blue shirt and waistcoat. "Or at least, a storyline. That's what Michelle says. The queen wasp wants Heather to be the next champion, but Michelle's pushing for Gloria, so I guess we'll see who wins out." "Why in the hell wouldn't it be Gloria?" Diego was incredulous. "Gloria, Irina, Betts, Pearl and Rachel are good wrestlers. They should play hot potato with the championship until the other girls can catch up. Did you see Heather with Gloria? She was a total Lance. Like, Lance's first match kind of Lance." "Diego, please!" Jimmy quipped with a grin. "I've been working so hard to forget that match ever happened." "How can we when we see like, a replay of our most embarrassing match in KADA history repeated every time one of those girls gets in the ring?" Diego rolled his eyes. "I hope Gloria turns on Rachel and gets another championship reign. It's been what, five years since her last one? Two years since she won a match?" "She doesn't mind being a jobber," Jimmy remarked, strolling over and filling up a glass with chilled water from the mini-fridge. He didn't want to drink beer last night. He was a health nut and went on a fairly rigid schedule. "She has fun putting over the other girls - but you know, the wrestlers. Not the bikini models. That's just insulting." "Would you be okay with being a jobber?" Diego asked him, and Jimmy shrugged and cocked his head the way he did when he was deep in thought. "It depends on the opponent and the storyline, I suppose," Jimmy stroked the ginger whiskers on his chin with a huge hand. "I'm a thirteen-time champion when you add up every promotion I've wrestled for. I'm a big guy with a big dossier. So if they wanted me to put Kodeine over a few times, I'd be glad to. Or you, Ollie and Sean. But if they told me I'd be losing to Chandler or Lance, I'd be pretty mad about it. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I'm a huge draw at KADA Wrestling. It'd be bad for business and bad for me." "I was jobbing a lot last year," Diego recalled losing a lot last year. While he was still making appearances in the main event status, he lost nearly all of his matches. There was a good reason for that. Diego, a veteran and a solid wrestler with an imposing, sturdy appearance, looked tough to beat. Sean looked incredibly strong in those matches he defeated Diego in - until Diego, both fed up with jobbing and attempting to put as much heat on Lance backstage as possible, used the Brit's reputation and Marg's greed for ratings to flip the script and take the push instead. "And then you beat me for that shiny belt," Jimmy grinned, and Diego smiled. One of the best matches of his career. Jimmy's too. The big man's career was still going nice and hot. Although he wasn't currently in the title scene - it was all about Kodeine and Diego's rivalry building up at the moment - he was still looking incredibly strong. After losing his rematch for the Heavyweight Championship, Jimmy moved to rivalries with other wrestlers and won all of them. Michelle and Margaret didn't see eye to eye on many things, but they both agreed that big bad Jimmy had a lot of value and they always kept him ready to slip back into the main event. He would probably be Kodeine's next rivalry after the ugly, acne-scarred douchebag took the belt from Diego. "Yo." Diego's blood turned cold when he heard Oliver Vickery's voice on the other side of the hotel room door. Do I hide? Do I pretend I'm not here? "Di," Ollie knocked on the door three times. "You there?" "Are you here?" Jimmy whispered, ready to cover for him if he didn't want to talk to Ollie. "Hey," Diego called out. He'd tried to hide things and keep secrets, and that only ever hurt people. It was time he stopped doing that. "I'll be right there." "It's cool, man," Ollie didn't sound angry. Maybe Sean was telling the truth about Ollie being more upset at the Cherokee than the Brazilian. Diego believed Sean was lying to him. How can Ollie not be furious? Maybe he is, and he's just reeling me in. Perhaps I'll get a bloody nose for my trouble. "How are you doing?" Diego asked as he opened the door. Ollie was a handsome man. He had the richest black skin Diego had ever seen and one of the catchiest smiles. He wasn't smiling today, but he wasn't angry or upset. At least, he didn't look it. He remembered the look of utter heartbreak on the man's face when Ollie flicked a beautiful engagement ring into the rubble in front of Diego, and he felt horrible all over again. "Bit of a dumb question Di," Ollie slapped him on the shoulder as he invited himself in. "Big Jim, how you doing?" "Just fine," Jimmy looked very uncomfortable. "Do you want me to leave?" No, Diego begged with his eyes. "If you don't mind, man. Don't worry; I'm not here to make a scene!" Ollie reassured them both. Diego didn't want him to, but Jimmy decided he trusted Ollie not to shove a broken glass in Diego's face and took his leave. "I'll go for a wander," Jimmy decided as he shut the door behind him. They didn't have a signing for two hours yet, and it was only eight in the morning. Jimmy had enough time to walk around the streets of London. I wish I were with him. The tension was painfully thick. "I'm so sorry about everything," Diego immediately blurted out. Ollie's bright, onyx-coloured eyes, almond shaped and intelligent, assessed him. "That was not the way I wanted you to find out." "Are you saying you did want me to find out?" Ollie asked. He almost sounded amused. "C'mon, man. None of this cliché stuff. Let's be real. Would you have told me if Sean didn't?" "Probably not," Diego folded his arms uncomfortably. Ollie sat next to him on the bed. "Maybe? Honestly Oliver, I probably would have buried it because nothing good could have come from letting you know about it. But... I didn't want to keep doing that to you, so I asked you if you would let me and Sean... yeah." "I respect your honesty, man," Ollie nodded, his face drooping with sadness. Oh god. "Was it just sex?" Diego was stumped. How do I answer this? Just be honest, that voice said to him. Stay the course. No more lies. "I like him a lot," Diego admitted. He was terrified now. "Oh, yeah, man. I know how that feels," Ollie rested his elbows on his knees. He was in a trendy blue tank top and long pale blue jeans with expensive looking lace-up shoes, purple sunglasses perched on top of his crew cut with an elaborate floral design shaved in. "The little guy's my whole world. Well... he was." "You still love him?" Diego asked. He felt pity for Ollie. He never deserved any of this. "Oh, hell yeah," Ollie's words lacked the usual happy-go-lucky enthusiasm he usually exhibited. "I always thought we were soul mates, y'know? So I didn't mind if he played around a bit. That's just Sean. That's how he rolls. I get it. I respect it. If that's what makes him happy, then I'm okay with it, you know what I mean? I just don't get how he could knife me in the back like this. With one of our best pals. Do you want to know a few secrets, Di? I hate those frickin' animals. I never liked our house. I hate living out of town. I did that all for him to make him happy." "You're the one who asked us why we put up with being unhappy!" Diego pointed out, and Ollie sniffed. "Yeah, man. I didn't know that I was unhappy until that twister hit and my life turned to crap," Ollie began crying on the bed, and Diego had no idea what to do. "I don't blame you, man. I know what it's like to fall in love with him. I would have let you have a turn. You even came out to me, man. That was special. So yeah, you could'a been a better friend to me, but Seano's the one that broke all the rules. The rules we had just for him, y'know? I... I can't believe that he... after all I've done!" Diego did what he would do if one of his children began crying. He shuffled over and put his arm around Oliver, who put his arm around Diego. This is weird. I repeatedly fooled around with your boyfriend, and now we're here comforting each other? Gay guys make no sense at all. It was strange to be with Ollie in this way. He was over six feet tall and incredibly broad and fit. Seeing him cry was... too weird. "I have no idea what I'm supposed to say or do," Diego admitted, holding Ollie close. "Please tell me. What do I do, Ol?" "Man, I dunno," Ollie took a huge breath to calm himself down. Whatever aftershave he used, it smelled amazing. "If he and I were meant to be together, he never would'a betrayed me like that." Oh, goddammit. That was the worst possible answer Diego could have received. Pragmatically, it was the best outcome, but now the dreams and fantasies of having Sean Fox all to himself were tainted with the guilt and shame of what he'd done. He couldn't think of Sean without seeing Ollie toss that engagement band. "I have no idea what I want anymore," Diego sighed. "Especially with this bi stuff. You asked me why I wasn't happy, Ol, and I guess that twister did me a favour. I know I want to fix my family. I want to find my sister and see my oldest boy again. I want to be a good person. I don't know if getting involved with Sean is what's best for me right now." "Heh, poor Seano," Ollie managed a bitter laugh. "Looks like he's going to end up with nobody. Which is probably what he deserves." "Ol, you can be angry with me if you want," Diego scooted away a little. Just in case Ollie took him up on his offer. "Seriously. Punch me right now if you need to. But I need to know right now if this is going to be a problem. At work or with our friends. Okay?" "Oh, don't think I'm not cut up about everything, man," Ollie shook his head sadly. "I wanna hate you a lot. He's my baby. But it takes two to do the nasty, you know? And he's the one with the commitment, yeah? I already lost him. I don't want to lose our friends. Or even you, man. Yeah, you did me dirty, but I understand too much of where you're at. You're working out that you're into dudes. It's new and scary, hey? And your head doesn't know what to do so you let your heart - and your dick - make the decisions for you. You were even brave enough to come and talk to me about it. I mean, you cucked me, but I gave Seano the freedom he wanted, and he still cheated on me. I lost my house and my boyfriend. My future. Do I need to lose you too? Do I need it to be weird when we're with our pals?" "I'm glad you're not angry," Diego chose his words carefully, but it was weird. Whether or not anyone wanted it to be. "With me, at least. I don't think it needs to be awkward, but please tell me if you change your mind." "Yeah, man, you can bank on that," Ollie may have sounded amiable when he spoke, but Diego wasn't comfortable with his choice of words. "We're worried about you," Diego told him, hoping to get away from that potentially explosive topic. "Where are you staying when we go back? You're welcome to stay at my house any time." "That's a sweet offer man, but I don't think that would work out," Ollie got to his feet and turned around, putting his hands behind his head and managing a faint smile. "I have dozens of relatives who always rag on about how I never visit, so don't worry about me. I'm good, man. Or at least, I will be. When we go home, I'll be with my family, and I'll work stuff out." "It's just... we're on tour," Diego grimaced and Ollie exhaled heavily. "We're living in each other's pockets. I need to know that if you do decide you have a problem, we'll solve it back in the states." "I'm a professional, Di," Ollie reached his hand out to Diego, who looked at it and grabbed it, letting the bigger man pull him to his feet. "I don't let personal stuff get in the way of business. Can't let that wasp bitch have an excuse to fire me, after all." "True," Diego maintained his grip on Ollie's hand, but they were friends, it seemed. He'd been terrified of how Oliver Vickery would react. He adored Sean. But it looked like the man's gentle nature won out, and he was putting his career and friendships before all the pain Diego caused him. "Do you want to find Jimmy and have some coffee?" "Nah," Ollie shook his head and flicked his sunglasses over his eyes, his brilliant white teeth making an appearance. "Coffee sounds good, but I have things to do. Thanks for having this talk, Di. Thanks for being a grown-ass man and being honest." "Speaking of," Diego knew he was venturing into tender territory, but he owed it to Sean. "Sean is desperate to hear from you. Please don't leave him worried." "Alright," Ollie told him tersely before waving goodbye and opening the door. "Have fun with big Jim." ~ Friday, October 12th Lance's first singles match on the main roster since the... well, we don't talk about that anymore, Diego thought to himself. He watched his young protégé as he admired himself in the hand mirror. "How can one person be so vain?" Diego wondered aloud, and Lance didn't even look at him. The red boy smirked, though. Diego could see it in his reflection. "You once told me that you've been working on your body for twenty years," Lance remarked, applying the last of his brilliant red lip gloss. "If that's not vanity, what is? Narcissism isn't just for femininity." "Well, that shut you up," Gloria remarked as she did a drive-by, invading the conversation as she drove past. "You look more beautiful than I ever did, my little peacock," she kissed Lance on his contoured cheek, causing him to grimace. "Knock that Kodeine silly out there, just remember that you're the man going down." "Heel or not, Leeds is still my home turf," Lance told her, reaching out and hugging her with his spare arm. Officially, yes, Diego and Lance turned heel when they cheated last week and gave the red boy his first official KADA victory, but they were still in England, with Scotland, Ireland and Wales to go yet. Lance was a massive star in these parts, so being a heel - the person the fans ideally would boo - was awkward for him. Diego had gone through enough transitions between babyface and heel for it to be almost automatic at this point, but this would be Lance's first time playing a bona fide heel. It was going to be interesting to see him act the part when he'd been a happy-go-lucky dancer for his tenure with KADA Wrestling thus far. "Plus, Kodeine is a wiener, I don't think anyone's going to be rooting for him," Gloria smirked. She looked divine. She'd been trying harder with her appearance lately. Perhaps it was the appearance of all these younger, beautiful women, or that busty, petite blonde women had been the ones to occupy the Women's Championship for so long. Her long black hair still had bright blue streaks through it to match her indigo attire, which was fierce and gothic. Her boots reached her thighs, and her brassiere and shorts had a certain dominatrix quality to them. She'd stepped up her game both in-ring and out since the tornado threatened them. It was as though she found a new lease on life, but when Diego would ask her about it, she kept her answers reasonably vague. "Hello, by the way!" Diego demanded attention and Gloria saw right through him. "You're the neediest little starling, but I love you," she fondly kissed him on the cheek as well. "Did you hear the news? I'm turning on Rachel tonight! It looks like I've been getting Marg's attention because she approved it." "You're winning?" Diego asked her, almost shocked. Gloria's career, in Diego's eyes at least, had been dead in the water for years. "Well, Rachel's scoring the win, but I'm going to beat the crap out of her afterwards," Gloria poked her tongue out as she did when she was excited. "Some real wrestling happening in the women's division, boys! Don't you dare miss it!" "Oh, I won't!" Diego hugged her and squeezed her tight, but she squeezed him harder. The two gradually tried to suffocate the other with their grip until Gloria finally gave in, the two of them choking and laughing. "I'm happy for you." "Good luck tonight, little peacock!" Gloria left, her indigo and black cloak trailing on the floor behind her. "If you screw up, blame the other guy!" "That's not awful advice," Diego grinned, and Lance laughed. "You ready? We're up in a few minutes." "Oh, my Brazilian bonitão," Lance shot back and Diego laughed. "You've internet stalked me long enough to know I have always been ready!" "You know, that nickname is very nice of you, but it does not make too much sense," Diego took the mirror off the boy so he would stop staring at his reflection. "So what? According to you, nothing I say makes sense either," Lance smiled at him and beckoned with his finger for Diego to follow him to the curtain. Diego, not competing tonight, was dressed in a smart black shirt with some light grey jeans and expensive new loafers. Lance's hair had gotten longer since they first met and it was impossible to keep puffy and wild without enough hairspray to plug the hole in the ozone layer, so tonight he had it tied back in a big ponytail. He would be in Lance's corner, but he also had a part to play in the segment. Tonight, Kodeine was facing Lance Lovecraft in a singles match to redeem the loss Diego caused him last week by kicking him in the head from ringside. The story was progressing well, Diego thought, but at the same time, Jimmy Vause had been getting pushed heavily by squashing local talent at every show. Knowing that clueless Alabaman airhead, she would rush Jimmy into the storyline for a cheap, brief pop in ratings and pay per view sales, then have no idea how to progress, leaving Michelle with a hell of a mess to clean up. "You're going out like that?" Kodeine immediately asked when the duo approached. I used to sound like that, Diego realised. I'm glad I'm not that person anymore. That person was a homophobic bellend. Like Kodeine. "All that makeup and stuff? Why?" "Worry less about why I wear make-up and ask yourself why you don't," Lance replied coldly, and Diego couldn't help but snicker. He'd been on the receiving end of Lance's rapier wit - his tongue as sharp as his mother's - enough times to appreciate when it happened to someone else, particularly someone as loathsome as Kodeine. "Make sure you don't screw everything up tonight," Kodeine looked at Lance with contempt. "Some of us got here because we're talented, not because we sucked the right dick." "Excuse me?" Diego angrily replied. "This guy right here has been busting his ass and working non-stop so he can be the best wrestler he can be. If you say anything like that again, I'll knock you down, entender?" "He's been busting his ass? Sounds about right," Kodeine sneered and wiped his nose with his sleeve. "Looks like I know whose dick he's been sucking, too." Diego, incensed, took a step towards Kodeine, but Lance tugged him back by the hand. "Oh, let him have this little win," Lance's voice was flippant, but his grip on Diego's hand was firm. "He's about to wrestle a match as a nobody against a person the crowd recognises as a hero. Let him have his licks. The fans will deal with him." "Hmph," Diego nodded, satisfied with Lance's line of thinking. Kodeine was jealous. His push was unfortunately timed - during the tour of the UK, he was booked against Diego and Lance, who were massively popular in this neck of the woods. The crowd jeered and booed him when he was supposed to be the heroic guy. In the USA, things would right themselves, but right now, Diego and Lance were all the rage and Kodeine was an afterthought. "So go on out, big man Kodeine," Lance taunted the other man as the segment on camera drew to a close. Their match was next on the card. "Don't feel like the world's smallest man when the whole world cheers for the Queen on her way out," he gave a petty little wave, and Kodeine rolled his eyes. It was true, Diego knew. Lance was a star with prominent roles in several different avenues. He saw right through his haters. Kodeine's music hit and as Lance predicted, the crowd booed loud enough to make the two boys behind the curtain giggle as their opponent tried his best to get them on his side. He wasn't a likeable person. He had severe acne scarring, a crooked nose, an ugly burgundy buzz-cut and one of his teeth was missing. On the other hand, Diego and Lance were aesthetically pleasing - albeit in radically different ways - and on Lance's home turf. The moment Froot began playing, the crowd shifted drastically into a massive cheer and then a chant for "Lovecraft," and Diego happily escorted his young protégé down the ramp, watching the way he interacted as a heel. He didn't excite the crowd, and he didn't appease them with his dance moves. He strutted his way down in time with the beat of his theme song, and Diego followed close by. Wow, the love was intense. Diego was sad that he had to be aloof and cold to the crowd members close by because they were reaching out to him. They loved him because he and Lance were an on-screen item. What irony, he managed to think as Lance finished his stoic but provocative entrance. Now that I have their love, I can't return it because I'm a villain. The match played out reasonably well, Diego thought. Ever since the tornado, Lance and Diego had gotten along incredibly well. They'd formed a real trust; they had a bond now. That meant Lance felt safe in their training sessions. Lance, although instinctively scared to take bumps, was gradually getting over his fear. Kodeine, though, was not someone Lance trusted, especially after the altercation backstage. Diego encouraged Lance to incorporate much of his dancing talent into his moveset, and the boy listened to him. He was graceful and smooth when on the offence. Beautiful to watch. But things always did get awkward when Kodeine was the one who had a chance to beat up Lance. Mistiming, miscommunication and poor selling. Unfortunately, that weakness plagued Lance since the very beginning. Afraid to take hits. Afraid to let himself feel pain. Poor kid, Diego thought. All the crap he went through ended up being the biggest obstacle for his dream career in the end. It was going to be okay. Diego was slowly working through it with him, using signature moves from Kodeine's moveset to help Lance work matches with him. Lance played the part of a heel very well. Minus the supportive crowd, he was arrogant and verbal, mocking Kodeine the whole time he had control of the match. He was excellent with his kicks, Diego noticed. His kicks were agile, graceful and accurate, and his natural dancing talent and flexibility were essential points in his corner. In the end, Kodeine landed his finisher, a savage looking kick to the jaw. It seemed so real from the angle Diego watched it from that he was sure his protégé lost consciousness mid-match. The boy teetered before falling on his shoulder blades. He took the bump! Kodeine covered him for the pinfall, drawing boos from the crowd, and took the victory, but Diego was thrilled that Lance sold the superkick so well. He nailed it! It was his turn, now. As Kodeine began to celebrate his victory, Diego's role was to attack him afterwards. Diego slid in the ring while his opponent wasn't looking and kicked him in the head the same way he did when he cost his nemesis the match the week before, hitting a loud slap on his thigh to simulate contact, and Kodeine sold it beautifully. He might be a jerk, but he's a good wrestler. Diego then lifted the ugly man onto his shoulders and delivered a Silva Spiral to a fantastic reaction from the crowd before making sure his partner was okay, then he demanded a microphone. "In three weeks, I am not just going to beat you, Kodeine!" Diego warned the man he'd just laid out on the ring canvas. While this was in character and for the cameras, there was some personal feeling creeping into his promo. "I'm going to destroy you! Everyone in the world sees you for who you are. An ugly duckling. But unfortunately for you, you're not going to survive to become a beautiful swan like my Lance." The crowd cheered loudly when Diego and Lance put their boots on Kodeine's back and raised each other's hands, Diego holding the World Heavyweight Championship high above his head. Even though the script didn't call for it, Diego leaned down and kissed Lance on his lips to make the most of their moment - the gloss was strawberry flavoured. The audience loved it and gradually began chanting something Diego never heard before. "Lansilva!" Is that what they call us? Lansilva? I like it. ~ Sunday, October 14th "Here everyone is!" Susan Lovecraft had a strong Cockney accent that eclipsed any Diego had ever heard. Nobody Diego had ever heard in his thirty-five years of life spoke like her. She sounded like Michael Caine with alcohol poisoning. Was it any wonder Lance chose an accent of his own to represent himself? "Right from my telly to my front porch! Two years ago I told that boy of mine he has no right tryin' to wrestle in the States, but take a butcher's at you all now!" What the hell is she saying? The furrowed brows of Gloria and Jimmy confirmed to Diego that he was not the only one who didn't understand English English. Why is it called English, anyway? This woman butchers it - or apparently butcher means something else in England. It should be called American because at least they speak phonetically. "Alright, Mum?" Lance sounded considerably more like his parents when he was in their company. Diego didn't know whether it was cute or offputting. "Thank you for having everybody!" He kissed her on the cheek and hugged her tight on his way in, and the others followed. The house smelled like roast pork, and Diego immediately began to salivate. So, this is where little Lovecraft grew up, huh? It was a well-kept house for sure, but it wasn't in the nice part of the neighbourhood, nor was it spacious or especially pretty, but Susan and Garth had done their best to make it as inviting as they could. When Garth met Jimmy and Gloria - the tall, muscular woman in particular - he may as well have ejaculated in his pants. It was mostly for Garth's benefit that Lance demanded his long-time wrestler friends come over to his house for dinner. They'd been watching KADA together since Lance was only a little boy. "Oh, have I had some dreams about you!" Garth remarked instantly, and Sue smacked him over the back of the head. "We just got her in here, don't scare her off!" She scolded him and looked back to Gloria, who was in the beginnings of a laughing fit. "Pleasure, name's Garth!" The tall, balding man introduced himself to everyone. "I watch you all every week. Love it. Love all of you!" Diego watched in amusement as Garth turned into a superfan in front of his very eyes. He felt a little insulted that he didn't receive the same reception from Lance's father in the airport, but Gloria and Jimmy were showered with awkward love, praise and several selfies before the group slowly migrated to the kitchen area. Linoleum and stained walls. It reminded Diego strongly of the places he, Luiza and his parents were forced to live in while they managed to get by. The sacrifices made by his parents to give him and his sister a chance at life. The sacrifices Diego had to make as a young adult to achieve his dream. The sacrifices he was still making now to live his dream. I miss my children. "Where's my Zander panda?" Lance asked suddenly, and the mood shifted in the room as Sue and Garth looked at each other awkwardly. "He's in his room, love," Sue cautioned him. "But I reckon he plans to stay there. He's still upset with you." Lance exhaled, and sadness crossed his face. "I hope not," he mumbled, and he made his way through the door that separated the quaint kitchen and dining area from the rest of the house. "What happened? If you don't mind me asking," Jimmy asked, looking handsome as hell with his hair done up and his beard neatly trimmed anew. The three of them sat down at the modest kitchen table. It sat five, but at a squeeze, they were hoping that an ambitious six would be able to eat dinner together. "Lance overheard us saying some things that he shouldn't've heard," Garth explained quietly, taking the fourth seat. "We love our boy to bits, but it hasn't always been a ball, you know? Zander was taking after him, and we were worried about going through it all again, so Lance left to go to the States without saying goodbye because he thought that was the best thing to do." "We understood," Sue filled in from over at the beaten up stove. "But Zander never forgave him. It broke his little heart." "Oh my gosh," Gloria covered her mouth. "And we were so awful to him for the first few months. I had no idea. I'm so sorry." "That was my fault," Jimmy admitted. "I sent him to Coventry because I thought he was just another walk-in celebrity and I wanted him to pay his dues." "Whatever dues you think Lance needs to pay, he's done it and then some," Sue didn't seem to like Jimmy very much, and Diego understood why. He was responsible for most of the struggles Lance went through in his first few months with KADA. "Oh, his first match with you. We'll never forget him ringing us up here at the wee hours of the morning because he was so scared of what you would all think of him." Diego remembered seeing Lance after his match; his heavy makeup smeared all down his face from tears. He remembered the disgust he'd felt at seeing a professional wrestler in a state like that. There's no crying in wrestling. That was the motto? But now he realised. The kid was terrified the whole time, and we didn't even care. I didn't care. It took me nearly six months to treat him like a person because I didn't like who he was and what he represented. "He doesn't wanna see me," Lance announced sadly, shutting the door behind him and his ember-red eyes hiding behind crimson eyelids. "He'll come around, sweetheart," Sue reassured him, but Lance shook his head as he sat between Diego and his father. "You said that for years about Nicky and Lola, and they wouldn't even come for Easter or Christmas," Lance rested his weary head against his hands, propped up on the table by his elbows. His hair fell around his arms like lava. Diego felt sorry for him. He wasn't supposed to feel so alone in his own house. He remembered the rift between himself and Luiza. "Do you mind if I speak to him?" Diego found himself asking before he was sure that was what he wanted to do. I've done enough harm to the people I love. Maybe now I can do something good. "He's around the same age as my little girl." "Oh!" Garth seemed surprised. "Yeah, go for your life. The first room on the left." "Thank you," Diego excused himself and clumsily hurried away from the table, catching Gloria's foot on the way past with his chair and apologising to her. The hallway was dimly lit and almost scary. Four doors - bedrooms he guessed - and one at the end. Bathroom? Small house. Reminds me of the first house I lived in. "Hey, Zander?" Diego pushed the door open. "What?" A lump under the blanket on the bed replied. "My name's Diego. Can I say hello?" Diego asked him, gingerly approaching. Zander's little head poked out from his sanctuary under the blanket. He was having a legendary sulk. Diego was no stranger to those. Troy threw some terrific pouts when he was a toddler. "Hello," Zander meeped shyly, and Diego had to smile. He looked so much like Lance. The same angular jawline and those cheekbones, even with the chubby cheeks of a young boy. He had blue eyes and dark brown hair. Like his older brother, maybe? Diego was yet to find a picture of Lance with his natural eye and hair colour. Zander was his best lead. "Hey!" Diego waved amiably. "Do you mind if I sit down?" "Okay. You talk funny," Zander remarked, and Diego laughed. It must have been the school that the Lovecraft children attended because Zander was speaking an odd combination of the queen's English and the local cockney the way Lance did. "I think you're the one who talks funny," Diego sat down on the end of the youngster's bed. "I have a daughter your age. Her name is Nina." "I've seen you wrestle before!" Zander sat up in his bed. "Silva Spiral!" "Yeah, that's the one," Diego nodded and grinned. "You and Nina would get along well. So Zander, why don't you want to see your brother?" "I hate him!" The light from Zander was snuffed just like that, and he folded his arms. "He left me, and I hate him. He's an arsehole." "He's here now," Diego reminded him. What I wouldn't do to see Luiza. Or Troy. I'll never take anyone for granted again. "He loves you. He talks about you a lot." "No, he doesn't! Or he wouldn't have gone away to America!" Zander stubbornly threw the blanket back over his head. "I hate him." "You know," Diego shuffled closer, but he didn't take the blanket away from Zander. He learned that lesson with Jillian. "I have a sister. Her name is Luiza, and she left me a long time ago. I miss her every day." "I don't miss Lance!" Zander asserted, but Diego could hear the lie in his voice. "I know he hurt you," Diego validated the boy's feelings. "He's sorry about that. He wants to see you. Don't you want to see him?" "No!" Zander lied again. Okay, let's be real, then. "Zander, you never know when you might lose someone for good," Diego told him, remembering that hideous night where a tornado changed everybody's lives forever. "I might never see my sister again, and all I want is for her to know how much I still love her. Lance upset you, I know that, but everybody makes mistakes, and he loves you, little man. He wants to see you again. That's all he's wanted to do since we came to England. He thinks you hate him. Are you sure you hate him?" Zander's head poked out from under his pillow, and he looked deep in thought. "We go back to America soon," Diego explained. "You might not get to see Lance again for a long time. Come and see him now while you can. You don't know when you might get the chance to see him again." "Um..." Zander wiped his eyes and snorted snot up his nose. Diego had too many children for this to be disgusting. He just ignored it. "Okay." "Good man!" Diego put his hand up, and Zander gave him a high five. "You're going to make your brother so happy." Lance, who looked so forlorn and miserable when Diego left the kitchen, seemed to light up like sunrise when Zander came walking in, Diego behind him. It was the most heartwarming thing Diego had seen in a long time. "Panda!" Lance opened up his arms, and the younger Lovecraft rushed to him. Lance hugged him and planted kisses on the top of his head to the cooing of the other men and women in the room. It was gorgeous. Diego thought back to Nina and how much he missed her. I need to stop with these overseas tours. I miss my kids too much, and they miss me. He remembered Nina's attempts to force him to stay home by stealing his phone. "Big man," Garth was suddenly at Diego's side with a hand on his shoulder. "Mind if we have a natter?" Oh, Christ. Lance had told enough stories of how Garth had beaten up men and boys who had hurt his son and spent several nights in both jail and prison. "Sure," Diego squeaked, and Garth guided him back into that hallway and shut the door behind them. "How the bloody hell did you do that?" Garth asked in amazement. "Zander has spent the last two bloody years refusing to even talk about Lance. What magic wand have you got? Can I get one at Target?" "I have four-year-old twins," Diego chuckled, and Garth whistled. "Say no more, my friend," Garth grinned and beckoned. "Lemme show you something." Diego followed the older man to the next room on the left and Garth welcomed him inside and switched on the light. Diego gasped. This was Lance's bedroom. No doubt about it. There was no space on the walls or low roof that hadn't been taken up by posters. Cute boys. Pop stars. Lady Gaga, Marina and the Diamonds, Britney Spears and... me. Diego was the star of the show. It was like a trip down memory lane. Posters, dozens of them, stuck to the wall opposite Lance's room. When I was twenty-four and just got signed to KADA. My first ever photo shoot. My first ever action figure! So many of these posters had his autograph. That's my signature, alright. The scope of what he was seeing was unlike anything he'd ever imagined. A few times Lance had insisted that he was a huge fan of Diego's growing up, but that was an understatement. Gloria, Jimmy, Michelle and other KADA alumni made appearances on another wall, but this one wall was all Diego Silva. It was surreal. The kid really did worship me. On the dresser, Diego spotted framed pictures of a younger Lance sporting bleach blond hair with pink streaks sitting on his father's shoulders at a KADA show. He saw something else that surprised him. A framed picture of him, Garth with receding brown hair and a teenage Lance with violet hair and violet eyes. I don't even remember taking that, Diego thought with his eyes misting up. I'm sure Lance does. "You were his whole world, mate," Garth commented after seeing how much being in this room affected the other man. "He loved you. He still does. He always has. It broke my heart when he called up and told me what a twat you were. We had a lot of teary chats, I tell you. I was ready to slug you the minute you came to Heathrow, and I wouldn't care if they gave me the death penalty." Diego looked up at Garth with eyes brimming with tears. There's no crying in wrestling, right? Maybe that slogan was a load of crap. "I can't change the past," Diego told the man, putting the picture back where he left it and he sighed. "I don't have any excuse. I was a homophobic bellend, that's what he called me." Garth laughed at that. "I'm a changed man now, Mr Lovecraft, and I owe a lot of that to your son. He's done more for me in one year than I can do for him for the rest of his career." "Just keep him safe out there, alright?" Garth grabbed Diego's hand and shook it with an iron grip. "I don't need to worry about him so much if you're saving him from tornados, you know? Look out for him." "You have my word," Diego promised, and he meant that. He protected Lance from the debris flying all over the place during winds of over a hundred miles an hour. He punched Danny for Lance. He would have hit that redneck dickhead from the crowd who shoved Lance over during the pay per view in which Diego won the championship. He would have knocked Kodeine only last week if Lance didn't stop him. "Come on. Let's eat," Garth nodded with his head, and Diego took one more look at the wall with a new appreciation for Lance and everything the boy accomplished. The table barely fit six, but now that Zander was joining them and insisting on sitting between Diego and his favourite brother, seven was a difficult. "Should put Lance and Zander at the kids' table!" Sue joked at one point, causing a load of laughs. It was an enjoyable meal, although not in the conditions Diego had become accustomed to. He pulled a substantial annual check from KADA Wrestling as one of its longest-running wrestlers and the current champion, so he was wealthy and well provided for. It was humbling to remember where he came from. Where Lance and Gloria both came from. Stories of Lance's childhood and KADA locker room tales flew across the table and no ten seconds went without someone laughing. Elbows hit each other, there was no spare room on the table, but the food was excellent and the company moreso. "So how is that girl Rachel?" Garth asked Gloria, his favourite. He had such a crush on her. Sue found it amusing. "You about killed her in the ring!" "Oh, she's one tough cookie," Gloria replied in her heavy New York accent. "She looks like Barbie, but she's like Lara Croft! Don't worry about her. She can take a hit!" "It's about bloody time you got angry again!" Garth remarked. "I haven't seen you look this good since 2015! They worried you'll break those bimbos in half?" Although Garth was right on the money with his question, as KADA employees, Diego, Lance, Gloria and Jimmy were not supposed to answer questions like that. They would get into trouble, and Margaret Bloom was a career killer at this point. "Well, I do have some news," Gloria announced, and the table went quiet. Is this what Gloria has been so secretive about lately? "Since I'm with my two oldest friends and the most terrific English family in the world, I've got something to say. Can I rely on you all to keep something to yourselves?" "Speak it," Jimmy encouraged her, his hands clasped under his chin. "Not a word, darlin!" Sue promised. "Well, women's wrestling in KADA is changing, as you all know," Gloria couldn't hide the bitterness from her voice. "But it's alright. Nobody needs to worry about me. I've been thinking about this for a long time, and having a scare like that Tennessee tornado makes a girl wonder where her years are gone and what she's going to do with the rest of them!" She was smiling. She was excited. Well, good for her, Diego thought. Whatever she wants to do, I'll back her a hundred per cent. "Michelle and I have a plan, alright? So keep it to yourselves and know that there is method to our madness. I promise it'll all be worth it. This push against Rachel is going to be my last hurrah. I've decided to retire from in-ring competition." What??
  14. AusGlitterati

    Soren - Wedding

    Soren Alae Orion was always so happy when Soren looked through Rylan's eyes. The Islands of Ulisse were absolutely beautiful, and his brother loved living there. Royal life in Ulisse was very different from the regal, traditional atmosphere of the Eodaniran Royal Palace. In Ulisse, the Royals often mingled with the commoners and Orion was popular amongst the people. He would fly between islands on Rylan's back while Soren watched through the Pegasus' eyes. He would enviously watch Orion play with the common children in the ocean that surrounded the Islands. Happy and free. Soren was happy and free as well, but Eodanira was a very different place, full of rules and expectations. Ronan, on the other hand, was downright miserable when Soren watched him through Timi's eyes. Locked in his bedchamber alone since that horrible Wyvern and its demon master left him with the brutal Iralian Royals. At least he had Timi, the silver Pegasus. Soren wished he could communicate directly with Ronan, but the best he could do was to telepathically send messages of support and hope through his Pegasus, who would, in turn, tell the imprisoned Prince that he was not alone and his brothers wanted nothing more than to be with him. Trapped with nothing to do, Soren knew Ronan spent most of his days watching him or Orion through their Pegasi, living vicariously through his brothers. "Good morning, Prince Soren," Elisa roused him from his half-sleep, and Soren returned to his body. "Happy sixteenth birthday!" Soren snuggled in closer with Vyma, ensconced happily in his Familiar's black feathers. Warm and happy. He did not need sheets and furs when Vyma was glad to wrap him up in his wings. Eodanira was on the south coast of Ytia and the nights got insanely cold, even in Summer, but Vyma was always so warm. "Thank you!" Soren yawned loudly, not ready to leave his bed yet. Go away, woman. He knew she wouldn't, but he could always hope. "Time to get up," Elisa told him firmly. She could be a crabby old battleaxe, particularly in the morning. She was Queen Tyffane's retainer, so her word was the word of the Queen, and the Queen's word was law. The lioness, Swari, accompanied Elisa everywhere she went, always looking so menacing. Menacing indeed, Soren thought with a lazy smile. Elisa's Familiar was the cuddliest kitty in the world. She loved having her belly scratched and licked at him often with a tongue like sandpaper. When Soren did not move, Elisa told him a second time. "Do I need to douse you in ice water?" "No!" Soren told her quickly, wriggling free from Vyma's wings. The Familiar awkwardly slid his way off the bed, passing by Elisa, who gave him an affectionate rub on the nose. He knew Elisa wasn't joking. She'd done it before. "You need to start wearing sleeping garments, my Prince," Elisa said, turning away. "Don't think I'm not aware of what you and Princess Charlotte have been doing!" "Really, Elisa?" Soren teased her, completely unashamed of being naked as the day he was born in front of her. "I'm surprised you even know what it is." "You might be a Prince, but I can still rap you on that bare backside of yours," she threatened him, and he giggled even though Swari snorted at him. "Enough of your cheek. You're getting married today. Try not to act like a fool for the sake of both Alaeyas and Eodanira. This wedding is going to join our two countries forever. You need to take it seriously." "Funny thing," Soren took mercy on the crone and slipped on some tight-fitting silk undergarments for her benefit. "Alaeyas is joining three different countries by marriage today. My brothers are of age as well, and they're marrying a Princess of Iralia and a Princess of Ulisse. How do you suppose we'll share Alaeyas once we've finally gotten rid of that demon sorcerer? Do we take turns?" "Queen Tyffane knows what she's doing," Elisa didn't seem to have a good answer to his question, but she wasn't buying into his flippant attitude. It was a good question. Three identical Princes, three equal claims to the Alaeyan throne - a throne, he reminded himself, a Zyrian demon currently held. Still, there was some wisdom in the older woman's words. Queen Tyffane's mind was sharp as a rapier and twice as deadly. She wasn't by any means a cold or cruel person, but she was pragmatic and rigid. Soren had faith that she would do what was best for Eodanira and eventually Alaeyas when the time was right. Queen Ninon of Iralia seemed hellbent on invading Alaeyas the moment she wed her captive Prince to her daughter. Queen Layla of Ulisse seemed to be more concerned with keeping the citizens of her country healthy and happy rather than seizing back Alaeyas with Orion's claim, but he was to marry today all the same. "Am I running so late?" Soren asked her, thinking of Charlotte. She was the most gorgeous woman in the world. There was no question. Perfect southern Eodaniran beauty. He would need to bathe himself first before he wore his wedding garments. "Yes! The Queen, King and Princess are all dressed. Guests are beginning to arrive. We're waiting for you!" She told him as though he were six years old rather than sixteen and turned to leave. "If you're not dressed and ready to go within the half hour, I'll come back with the pail of ice water!" "Will do!" Soren reassured her, and he caught a glimpse of a smile on her wrinkling face. When she was gone, he took off his undergarments. He needed to bathe. Can't we have the wedding tomorrow? Vyma asked him. We should just sleep through it. Don't you start! Soren told Vyma with his Alaeyan cobalt eyes twinkling happily, kissing his Familiar on the forehead and receiving a gentle lick in return. I can't wait to see how awesome we look together next to Charlotte and her bloody great freak. He shuddered, thinking of Reeta, the white scaled monstrosity passed down to his future wife by Queen Tyffane - the Serpent of the Eoda Royal Family. Reeta was horrifying. A great horned snake that looked far too much like the demonic Wyvern of Zyria. Queen Tyffane had executed a few dozen murderers, rapists and Iralian bandits and spies with her Familiar in Soren's time - the criminals were swallowed whole and alive. The Alaeyan Prince couldn't stand it. It was a good thing Charlotte was as beautiful as her Familiar was ugly. She was two years his senior and took his virginity when he was fourteen, and the two had shared each other's bodies many times ever since. He resisted the temptation to touch himself while he bathed - he was going to marry Princess Charlotte soon. She was every bit as insatiable as he was. They were going to enjoy consummating their marriage, that was for sure. There was no point wasting his libido now when there were heirs to be made later. After thoroughly cleaning himself, Soren began to dress in the fine wedding garments in the colours of his home country. While Queen Tyffane and King Darius raised him like one of their children, he was still an Alaeyan Prince. He had the pale skin of the south-west of Alaeyas, and curly red-auburn hair cut short. His garments, ornate blue silk with gold trim, fit him perfectly, and he wore a long, heavy velvet cloak over his shoulders. There was always a feeling of poignancy when he dressed in blue and gold of Alaeyas. That monster killed my parents, he thought sadly. Queen Palona of Alaeyas and her King, Jaiden of Iralia. Then he split us up. The three of us. "Come along," Elisa was pleased to see that the Prince had done as he was told. Soren was an obedient boy, for the most part. He bent the rules and gave cheek, but he did not break the rules. Queen Tyffane did not have to adopt him as one of her own, but she did. She treated him as one of her own, alongside Charlotte, Prince Torri and Princess Ashi. Now he was ready to marry her eldest daughter and join the two countries by marriage. But... what will this achieve? He did not know. Alaeyas was now a collectivist nation ruled by a council, the Zyrian sorcerer Kai and his unholy offspring. It wasn't as though Charlotte and Soren could stroll over and ask kindly for the throne back. The Throne Room was breathtaking. Arches and pillars of terrific greenstone, and the floor was whitestone and somehow never appeared dirty. The long, green carpet ran the entire length from the heavy mahogany door all the way to the throne, and flowers of green and blue decorated every pillar. My colour and hers. The throne was made of greenstone as well. It was not a comfortable chair to sit on, so Queen Tyffane did it as little as possible. King Darius enjoyed the throne, but it was not his. He was only the King - and while Queen Tyffane was generous with the authority that came with her position, it was her duty and burden to rule. Familiars passed down to children through the mothers. Men were only necessary for the breeding process. If Soren had a sister, she would have inherited the Alaeyan throne instead of him, whether or not she was older. Instead, he had two triplet brothers, and the Princesses they married would become Queen of Alaeyas - if they were the Royal Couple that took the throne, that is. No doubt the Zyrian would destroy the Ilarian family when Ninon charged them. "Now, hop on Vyma," Elisa instructed him. She was now atop her Familiar, and the lioness seemed unbothered by the weight of the heavyset woman upon her. "Right," Soren was full of nerves. He was getting married! He wished he could have Charlotte to tell him everything would be okay. Or Orion or Ronan. At least he had Vyma. He hopped up on top of his Pegasus. "What then?" "We've been over this a hundred times!" Elisa snapped, exasperated. "The Prince and Princess will ride their Familiars to the throne, and Queen Tyffane will give you her blessing. The Bishop will proceed with the ceremony, and you only need to follow his instructions. You can't mess this up." "I'm sorry," he looked down at Vyma's shiny black mane. "I don't want to! I'm just scared that I will ruin everything somehow." "Well, stop worrying," she ordered him with the barest shred of warmth in her soul. "You'll do fine. You're supposed to be happy today. You're becoming an official Eodaniran! Now go. Ride!" Soren nodded anxiously. Let's go, he told Vyma, who did as he was bid. Vyma's hooves clip-clopped on the whitestone surface of the corridor, and then he saw her. Charlotte, more dazzling than ever in a white silk gown with a jade-green Eodaniran cloak around her shoulders. Her pale gold hair fell around her face and breasts, and her milky-white southern skin seemed to glow in the sunlight let in by the magnificent arch windows. Reeta, though, was repulsive. Horns and beady green eyes with a mouth full of sharp teeth. Don't look at her! Vyma was reading his thoughts as the two approached from opposite ends of the corridor by the massive doors of the throne room. Look at Charlotte. Isn't she just gorgeous? Soren couldn't help but smile. The two were betrothed the moment that beast from Zyria delivered Soren to the Eodaniran Palace. Many Royal marriages were unhappy ones, but Soren and Charlotte fell deeply in love from a young age, and now, he couldn't wait to be her husband. To give her an heir. Unfortunate that they'll all have disgusting snakes for their Familiars, he thought briefly, but with Charlotte as their mother, our children will be the most beautiful in the world. "My love," Charlotte greeted him, riding the back of Reeta and holding onto horns on the end of the Serpent's head to keep from falling off as it slithered towards them. "My love!" Soren greeted her back, beaming at her. "Are you ready for this?" "Since we were children," Charlotte grinned. Her face, as white as the stone underneath them, blushed pink. She was a shy thing. "Let's go, then!" Soren encouraged her, and the two of them rode their Familiars into the throne room across the jade carpet. Hundreds of people were to witness the wedding ceremony and all of them were seated with their Familiars, looking forward to seeing the Prince and Princess take their vows. The throne room was full of Humans with Falcons, Snakes, Eagles, Deer, so many different Familiars. On the greenstone throne sat Queen Tyffane in her elegant jade gown and cloak, her Serpent Izui coiled around her. King Darius sat in a smaller, much more comfortable throne to her left, his huge black Bear lying down vigilantly beside him. Prince Torri and Princess Ashi sat on similar thrones to the Queen's right, their Serpents not yet fully grown, but coiled by their sides. Soren, as the two rode their Familiars to the throne along the jade carpet, flanked by Humans and Familiars making not a sound, looked around to see who was attending this wedding. There were no representatives from the collective of Alaeyas, which was no surprise. Alaeyas was its own country now, and it had no allies. Ulisse and Ilaria were both having Royal Weddings of their own. It surprised Soren that there were none from the eastern Queendom of Odesh. Odesh had very much receded from the other countries when the Alaeyan triplets were divided among Eodanira, Ilaria and Ulisse, something the Odeshi Queen took as a slight. Still, it would have been terrific for diplomacy had anyone from Odesh bothered to attend the Eodaniran Royal wedding. "Charlotte Eoda, my Princess," Queen Tyffane looked like her daughter, but age had begun to turn her pale golden hair almost white, and wrinkles adorned her still comely face. "Soren Alae, my Prince-to-be. Together, I bless your union and I accept you as one. The Bishop may now formally marry you." Queen Tyffane almost seemed to tear up. She was once soft of heart, but years of rough diplomacy with the likes of Alaeyas and Ilaria had aged her and made her hard before her years. Still, she was tender-hearted where her children were concerned. When the Bishop walked the length of the throne room, even he was awkward around Reeta. It's not just me? The Serpent is a freak? Soren asked Vyma. I don't like her, Vyma replied. But we have to bear it, Soren. We can do it. "Princess Charlotte of Eoda and Prince Soren of Alae, do you pledge to wed of your own free will?" The Bishop asked. He was in the holy white garb of the Goddess, and he looked far older than anyone else Soren had ever seen. "Yes," Charlotte and Soren both replied together, holding each other's hands. "As the Queen Tyffane of Eoda has given her Royal blessing and both Princess and Prince have consented to this union of marriage, we call upon the Goddess to bless the union. If there lies anyone who can show bona fide cause as to why these two should not be bound together in the law of the Goddess and law of Ytia, let them speak now or hereafter remain silent for eternity." "I have a thought," a man from the third bench row spoke up, and everybody turned to look at who was crazy or stupid enough to object to a wedding of this scale. "Speak," the Bishop pointed a withered finger at him, livid that someone would be so bold as to object to a union so crucial to both countries. "Allow me to introduce myself," the man slowly waded his way to the end of the bench and stood on the green of the carpet. He looked to be of middling age, withering and grey in the face but dressed in wealthy, black silk clothes. He was of one of the noble families that made up Eodanira, but Soren could not think which one. "Stay where you are!" Queen Tyffane ordered the man, and Izui seemed to rear up, ready to strike the moment this man made a move against the Royal couple. "Who are you and why do believe my daughter and Prince Soren should not be wed?" "By all means, Your Majesty," the man replied facetiously. He whispered under his breath and all of a sudden, it was an entirely different man he was looking at. Not even a man. A boy! A boy Soren's age, it looked like. He was pale with long black hair tied into a bun, but that wasn't what Soren saw first. His crimson red eyes, that was what turned Soren's blood cold. "You are not welcome here!" King Darius roared from his chair, the huge black bear next to him standing on its back feet, all ten feet of it. Vyma didn't like it, and Soren felt his Familiar cringe. "Leave!" "I'm Kaden of Alaeyas. You don't need to worry," Kaden was a very handsome boy, but a poison that tastes sweet is still a poison. Soren looked at him with contempt, and Kaden stared right back at him. "I'm not my father. I'm not here to hurt anybody." "You're a demon of Zyria!" Soren shouted at him furiously, and Vyma neighed in agreement. "You mere presence insults me! Get out!" "I'm sorry to have offended you so, but I'm afraid I'm here not because I want to be, but because I have orders," Kaden confirmed, his red eyes cautiously looking around him. There were Familiars by the hundred, all looking ready for their master's command to tear the teenage boy to shreds. "I carry a message from the Council of Alaeyas. We do not oppose your wedding. What Eodanira does with the former Prince of Alaeyas is its own business." He put great emphasis on the word 'former.' " We want you to understand that Alaeyas is a free country now. Prince, King or whatever, you are never welcome within our borders." "Everything in Alaeyas belongs to Soren," Charlotte told him tersely. "You are the ones unwelcome within its borders." "So, what shall I tell my sister? And my father?" Kaden shrugged simply, brushing aside a strand of raven-black hair with his delicate fingers. "Does Eodanira intend to invade Alaeyas? Will we be forced to protect ourselves? Or is our tacit alliance intact and you will remain on your side of the Alaeyan River?" "You tell your father that you interrupted a Royal Wedding within our Palace walls and we let you leave unharmed," Queen Tyffane told him tersely, standing up from her throne and Izui circled her, rearing up to strike. "Do I make myself clear?" Kaden seemed to smirk, before bowing. "As Her Majesty wishes," he gave one more glance to Soren before he mumbled some ancient Zyrian words and just like that, he was gone. Everyone on the benches began murmuring with excitement and fear. Queen Tyffane looked quite shocked, and so did the other Royals. Soren felt an icy hand gripping his heart. That could have been Kai. He could have killed everybody. It was a message from Alaeyas - stay away, because we can and will kill all of you if we have to. "We will have silence and order!" Queen Tyffane's booming voice echoed throughout the throne room, and the people instantly stopped. "Proceed," she ordered the Bishop. "The marriage must go on." "So as we continue, I ask once more, do either the husband or the bride know of any reason that the union should not proceed?" The Bishop asked in a frail, shaky voice. He seemed to have been significantly affected by the demonspawn's threat. "No," Charlotte and Soren replied simultaneously, but when they looked at each other, it was no longer in love. It was in fear. Does this mean I'm never going to be safe? Does this mean Charlotte will be in danger all because of me? "We shall hear first the vows from Prince Soren of Alae," the Bishop nodded towards him. Soren's mouth was so dry he wasn't sure he could even speak, but hundreds of Humans and their Familiars had their eyes on him. Including Queen Tyffane. Including his almost wife. Charlotte. I love her. "I, Soren of Alae, Prince of Alaeyas, take myself as the husband of Charlotte of Eoda, Princess of Eodanira, and pledge to her before the Goddess, the Queen and the Bishop to love and defend her from this day until my end of days, in sickness and in health," in spite of his thumping heart, he spoke loudly and proudly, especially when she squeezed his hand. "We shall hear now the vows from Princess Charlotte of Eoda," the Bishop turned to her. "I, Charlotte of Alae, Princess of Eodanira, take myself as the wife of the Soren of Alae, Prince of Alaeyas, and pledge to him before the Goddess, the Queen and the Bishop to love and defend him from this day until my end of days, in sickness and in health," she looked to him and smiled widely. That was enough for Soren to finally put Kaden behind them and engage once more in their wedding. "Heavenly Queen Tyffane of Eodanira and Goddess above, bless these identical crowns which Princess Charlotte of Eoda and Prince Soren of Alae receive and wear as visible signs of the permanent bond that unites them in heart and soul. As they crown one another, they may affirm the covenant between them." "I place this crown upon your head," both Soren and Charlotte spoke at the same time, taking the gold crowns offered by the Bishop on a jade green pillow - one with a sapphire for Soren and one with an emerald for Charlotte - and they placed the crown on each other's head. "Wear it as a symbol of my eternal love for you." "As of now, you have pledged of your own free will, in witness of the court, the Bishop, the Queen and the Goddess above, and the ritual of the crowns now binds you. Be it that what is granted before the Queen, the Bishop and the Goddess above is not undone by man or woman," the Bishop began to close the ceremony. The crown was heavy on Soren's head. Did he have to wear it all the time? Queen Tyffane and King Darius did. "I pronounce you wife and husband, and you may now kiss." Soren and Charlotte almost locked lips before the Bishop had given them the blessing. He loved her too much to restrain himself. What a shame we have the feast to sit through. Although that gorgeous white gown looked radiant on Charlotte, he was sure it would look better on the floor. At least now we can share the same bed without shame, he thought. I hope Vyma doesn't get too lonely. The crowd cheered, and so did their Familiars. It made for a strange, blended noise that Soren disliked immensely, but he appreciated the enthusiasm of the audience and their creatures. It was indeed a special day. Newly crowned Prince Soren and Princess Charlotte walked hand in hand out of the Palace doors and down its steps while the commoners cheered and congratulated them. Avian Familiars flew overhead as they found the stony path at the bottom of the staircase, Vyma and Reeta following them from behind. The commoners too were intimidated by Reeta. That ugly... thing. She could swallow any Human or Familiar out in the town today if she saw fit to. However, the feast began, and the commoners in the city were welcome to join in and eat their fill. Queen Tyffane was a charitable woman and often gave to the needy. The feast was not for Soren and Charlotte, she told them days earlier. It's for the people. Soren and Charlotte sat together in the lovely sunshine at a marble table and gnawed at the fruits and cakes on their plates. Delicious! Soren's smile fell when he remembered that in Iralia the rich still ate meat. Roasted Familiars, their Humans killed and forgotten. It made him feel sick, and he pushed away his passionfruit. He wanted to check on Ronan and Orion, but Charlotte would be upset if he did so on their wedding day. Today is about me, she'd said. You have the rest of your life to watch your brothers. As he pondered, his peripheral caught a sign of someone lurking behind a big cypress hedge. Those red eyes made contact with him, and Soren gulped. Kaden? The Zyrian beckoned, and Soren suspiciously glared at him. You don't frighten me. "I need a small break from all this noise, my love," he told Charlotte. It wasn't strictly untrue - a lot was going on. Singers, dancers, performances and swarms of people wanting to meet and congratulate him. "I'll have a quick walk, okay?" "Of course," Charlotte nodded knowingly. It was all a bit overwhelming. "Don't be gone long, okay?" Soren nodded with a smile, the crown nearly falling off his short, auburn-red curls. I'll have to learn to watch that. It wouldn't do good for his wedding crown to drop into his soup. Vyma, to me, Soren commanded, and the black Pegasus landed from its flight next to him. What is it? Vyma asked and sighed happily as Soren scratched his neck. Kaden of Zyria is behind that hedge. I want you to kill him, Soren ordered. Are you sure? At your wedding? Vyma asked uncertainly, but Soren nodded. If he's here, he's up to no good. Fly over and kill him while I distract him, Soren told him the plan. Vyma took off into the air and began flying as he had earlier - casually as though he were only stretching his great black wings, but he was keeping a close eye on his Prince. Soren marched towards the cypress hedge where he'd seen the boy dressed in black, and sure enough, he was there waiting. "I'm not here to hurt you," Kaden told him immediately, and Soren looked at him with mistrust. Don't kill him just yet, Soren changed the plan, and he could feel relief in his Familiar's heart. "What are you doing here, then?" Soren asked him. Since the meeting earlier, Kaden had freed his hair from the confines of its tie and it now fell over his shoulders down to the small of his back. "Kaden of Zyria crashing my wedding? Why?" "Oh, I'm not Kaden," the boy's eyes glowed, and he smiled wickedly. "Kaden is at home, just as he promised. I'm Armyn, the real son of Zyria's last." "Armyn?" Soren repeatedly blankly. Kai of Zyria had four children, this much he knew, but he did not know their names. "Yes, Prince," Armyn spat those words with venom. "I've been waiting to meet you for a long time. I have to say; you're not what I imagined. My father refuses to deal with you, although I have no idea why. I'd kill you myself right now if I could." With those words spoken from the Zyrian boy's mouth, Soren knew he had just cause to eliminate this demonspawn. Now! He ordered Vyma, who shot like a dart from the sky and went to crush Armyn with his hooves. Vyma went directly through Armyn, who laughed and pointed at him. A mirage? He isn't real! Soren was shocked by what he was seeing. Vyma should have killed him - not gone through him as though he never existed in the first place. "Wow, you're an idiot," Armyn shook his head. "This is but a projection! Unlike my moron brother, I'm not stupid enough to walk into enemy territory myself. If I had, though, you think your stupid Pegasus could stop me from killing you? Hmph. You live only because my father forbids me from breaking our truce with your country. The same for your brothers. Your Queen wants Alaeyas, and so do Ninon and Layla. My father will change his mind soon, don't you worry about that. When he does, I'm going to murder you myself." "Leave, coward!" Soren barked at the smaller boy. "You wouldn't have the fortitude to say these things to my face." "That's why we'll win," Armyn promised, his eyes glowing red. "I won't make the mistakes my father did." And like that, he was gone. Just gone. The boy had been real, he was sure of it. He looked and sounded real as the wind blowing through the sweet-smelling cypress hedge, but when Vyma charged him, the boy was but an illusion of sorcery. In a blink, he vanished. Are you alright? Vyma asked, touching ground next to Soren. No, Soren thought, frightened to the bone. Kaden. Armyn. Zyria. It was all too real for him. I need to stay a while longer. You, too. I have need of you. I have messages for my brothers.
  15. AusGlitterati

    Prologue - The Fall of Alaeyas

    Oh good! ❤️ I intend to keep going! Nawww :3 Kai would greatly appreciate! ❤️
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