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    Demiurge
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Incandescence - 8. Consequences

*Explicit Content

I remember the first time I had ever set foot in this manor.

Picture perfect.

That’s the way everything had seemed. Even while my world was falling apart. I’d been overwhelmed by the opulence and beauty. I’d grown up wealthy, but this had been on a new level. It had temporarily distracted me from all the stress from Mallex and everything else going on. The House of Waves was still that to this day. A little respite in the pressure cooker that Syrin could be when things weren’t going well.

Forcing my attention back to the present, I slid my fingertips over the cloth napkin on my lap. The fine porcelain plates on the table had dainty blue wave accents. The crystalware was delicate, the handles of the silverware intricately designed. Lydia did an impeccable job serving only the best every time we chose to eat meals here and tonight was no exception. It was rare our table was this crowded. She’d absolutely outdone herself with dish after delicious dish. I wouldn’t really know, though. My plate was full. It had been for nearly an hour now. Its contents were surely cold. I’d barely eaten.

Yes. The picture was perfect. My family plus Loren and Suman gathered around a dining table filled with the best food in a grand home. The only problem was the tense feeling in the room and the fact that inside, I was crumbling. We were trying hard to keep it light. Wyn didn’t know of the problems lurking on the horizon and I would keep it that way as long as possible. Suman and Loren sat on either side of him. Thankfully, the two of them were doing an excellent job keeping him entertained. I don’t know that I could have been as successful had I been alone. I was constantly getting lost in thought. I had suggested to the Council that we do something about Sumerion, but it hadn’t…

It hadn’t seemed real.

This was very real. There was a high chance my family and everyone I cared deeply about were in danger. My fingers curled around the edge of the table as I began to run every horrendous scenario through my head. The last battles we fought had not been easy. Mallex had terrorized us over a matter of a few months. For Anders it was over a year, close to two. This was going to be a war. What if it dragged on far longer? What horrors would we be made to weather? I wasn’t like Eon. I’d never fought in an actual war with armies. More than one, too. My eyes flicked to Wyn across the table who was laughing at Loren. The man was brandishing his knife in Suman’s direction teasingly. The prince swept hair over his shoulder and stared back at him with a challenging look on his face. Wyn laughed again.

Wyn changed everything.

I wasn’t a naïve kid anymore. I had so much more to lose this time. I had Wyn, Talon, and all my friends. Not to mention all the people of Dimian who counted on us to keep them safe and make the correct decisions. What if we didn’t choose right? What if we didn’t react fast enough or weren’t prepared? The loss of life could be substantial, and it would be all our fault.

I barely registered a faint crackling and an odd smell before fingers curled over mine and lips brushed my ear, “Come with me love.”

Talon removed my hand from the table, and I saw burn marks there with smoke trailing upwards. A stab of guilt hit me when I caught Wyn’s worried eyes as I was led away. A hand smoothed over my shoulder blades and then down my back. Then back up, over, down. It was soothing. The hand continued its path as Talon guided me upstairs to our room. He continued the gentle caressing even when he’d locked the door behind us. He kept it up even as we lay on our sides in bed. He hummed softly and kissed my forehead, switching arms as I used his other one as a makeshift pillow.

We lay there for what felt like forever before I realized my cheeks were wet. Talon didn’t draw attention to it. He kept humming, lips kissing down to press against my temple. It started with quiet streams and turned into gross, hiccupping sobs that I would surely be ashamed of later. I thought I had done away with this person. The crier. The boy who threw fits, who was weak and fell apart at the earliest sign of trouble. Disgusted with myself, I wiped at my face with the sleeve of my tunic.

“I’m nearly thirty years old. This is ridiculous.”

“Is it not okay to be scared?” Talon murmured softly into my hair. “If not, I’m fucked.”

I looked up at him, “You’re scared? You’re not scared of anything.”

“Well, that’s not even remotely true. I was scared when I had to leave you in Syrin the first time. I was scared when Mallex captured me, and I didn’t know what would happen to you. I was scared when you started having nightmares. I was scared when the Soul Eater popped up and I found out you were having picnics alone together. I was scared whe-“

“Okay. I get it Talon.”

“The point is, that yes love, I am scared. I want to send you and Meep…Wyn away somewhere and just wipe Dleth and Illiath off the map. Then Serran for good measure.” He whispered against my lips, kissing me so softly it was barely a touch of lips, “I did already promise Dleth that I would raze it to the ground.”

“If something happens to either of you…I don’t know what I would do.” I kissed him again, closing my eyes. It was a lie. I knew what I would do. A strange feeling flared inside my chest any time a threat to my family presented itself. I didn’t know the specifics, but I was positive that whatever action I took wouldn’t be pretty.

“Nothing will happen. We will figure this out. We always do love.” His hand cupped my cheek to tip my head back slightly. The angle made it easier for him to kiss me properly. His mouth covered mine and I shimmied closer, my hands gripping his tunic as our lips moved together. The mood was shifting slowly. His head tilted and the tip of his tongue traced my lower lip. I let him in, and my arms wrapped around his neck as his circled my waist. It’d been a while and the touches felt different for some reason. One of his hands slid up my tunic, gliding up my bare back as the other slid into my leggings to grip my backside.

I nipped his lower lip when we parted for breath, and he moved farther away. He came back with oil, and I pulled his tunic over his head. My fingers greedily mapped pecs, defined abs, and the lines of his hips that guided my hands to the ties on his pants. His mouth was on my neck as I undid them, nipping and biting. When I was successful, he pushed me back and stripped me of my tunic. He set the vial of oil next to us as he kissed down my chest. I gripped his hair as he flicked his tongue against a nipple, hooking my leg over his hip.

“We don’t have time for all of that.” I whispered harshly and he raised an eyebrow as he looked up at me and nipped the nub in his mouth. I hissed softly and arched my back.

“Foreplay and prep are important love.” He mumbled against my stomach after he’d moved down. I snatched the vial and poked his temple with it. He rolled his eyes up at me and grabbed it before he continued his descent. He jerked my legs apart roughly, hand on each thigh, and snickered when I glared at him. I turned my head when he leaned down, running his tongue down my length until he reached my entrance. The flat of his tongue pressed against it before he wiggled it inside.

“Talon, we don’t have time.” I whined softly, panting. The three most troublemaking people in our life were downstairs for crying out loud.

He ignored me, tongue working slowly inside. I spread my legs more when I felt a finger join it. I let my fingers ghost lightly over my chest when he added another, trying to ignore the hungry look he gave me when his tongue left me and he sat back, “Why are you so beautiful?”

“Shut u-up.” I arched my back at the third finger, wincing at the stretch. The fingers withdrew and he added the oil. Then they slid back inside, and I gasped his name. He worked them for a while longer, leaning over to kiss me dizzy.

“Talon, please. I’m ready.” The fingers left again, and he shifted around. Then he was pushing in, and I was struggling to adjust as he slid did so slowly. He rested his elbows by my head, and I ran my palms up his back as I pressed my forehead against his chest.

“Kalian-“

“Move.” I ordered. He snapped his hips forward hard out of spite. Then smirked as I cried out and rushed to cover my mouth as my head fell back against the pillows. Talon nuzzled my neck as he rolled his hips to mine, driving the oxygen from my lungs. Gods it’d been far too long. My hands on his back curled and my nails dug into his skin as he moved faster.

“Fuck. How’re you still so perfect? Stop it. S’not fair.” Talon mumbled into my neck as he hooked his arms under my knees and hoisted my legs up. He used the position to change the angle and slam deeper. My nails scratched up to his shoulders and I held on as he went harder. It’d started sweet and tender, but we both needed it to be something else. We needed an outlet for the fear, the anger, and the uncertainty. We both needed reassurance. We needed to feel unconditional love and to know that for at least right now we were safe, we were okay.

It had reached the point of frenzy. At some point, I had forcibly rolled us, one hand was on Talon’s sternum, the other was on his lower abdomen as I rolled, bounced, and ground my hips down for all I was worth. I threw my head back and the hand on his chest jerked to my mouth. I bit down on the heel on my hand as I got closer and closer, trying to hold back the sounds I was making. If my eyes had been open, they’d probably be in danger of rolling back. One more rough bounce and my back arched sharply as I came. Talon’s hands tightened like clamps on my hips, and he jerked me up and down until he finished with a loud curse and my name. I collapsed on his chest and barely felt him lift me to clean up so I wasn’t laying in my own mess. Then he let me curl back up on top of him.

“I’m terrified.”

“I know. Nothing is going to get to you and Wyn. Nothing is going to get through me. It’s not happening.”

I ran my fingers lightly over his chest, “Nothing is happening to any of us. If I have to completely wipe clean an entire map. I will.” Talon’s arms completely encircled me, and I closed my eyes. I focused on the warmth, safety, and security. I memorized the feeling. I may need it soon. When Talon wasn’t within my reach.

“Can we also talk about how you promised to keep Suman away from Wyn and he’s currently alone with him and the other jackass?” Talon murmured into my hair.

“Mm, he keeps him entertained. The combination of Loren and Suman is just stupid enough to distract a preteen from just about anything.” I said. I yawned and pressed my cheek more against his chest.

 

The dining room was far enough away that it was impossible they’d heard anything. We’d been careful. I was still nervous when I took my seat and tried to convince myself that I needed to eat something.

“Welcome back.” Loren paused for a moment in his explanation of…something to Wyn. I smiled weakly and tried to avoid looking at the preteen next to him. Wyn’s face was suspicious. He’d always been far too perceptive. Especially when it came to me. The child was tuned heavily into my every emotion. We were perhaps a little codependent after the dungeon, but I could see his eyes flick to Talon and knew the child was going to have questions later. It was very unlike him to drop anything once he’d decided there was a problem.

Kalian, you need to eat love. Wyn is already looking at you in that way of his. Imagine how upset he’s going to be if you don’t eat anything? You’re about to be scolded by a twelve-year-old.

Sighing, I picked up my fork and did as told. As I forced more food into my system, Talon’s hand rested on my upper thigh. He squeezed gently and as my nerves calmed, Wyn did.

“So, wait, you have weapons hidden now?” Wyn’s eyes widened as he looked at Loren. How in all the gods had they arrived at this specific conversation?

“Always. I pride myself on being the most well-armed person in every room I enter.” Loren grinned, patting the boy’s head. Suman laughed loudly and Talon scoffed.

“Oh, I’m sorry, do the two of you have something to say?” Loren raised his eyebrows and stood. I ripped a piece off a dinner roll and winced as he shoved plates and dishes away from his place at the table.

“Wait, I want to see! Dad you have weapons on you?” Wyn’s eyes were huge. I knew for a fact that he did. Talon very rarely didn’t have something pointy and sharp on his person. I’d strapped some of the pieces to him myself earlier. Talon grinned at Wyn and slowly stood, clearing a space in front of him as well. Lydia was going to have a fit if they broke anything. Loren was already accumulating a pile. I watched him pull a small dagger from one boot and then another from the other. Wyn’s eyes kept getting wider and wider as the piles grew.

“I’m not going to win.” Talon said, “I, uh, recently changed clothes.”

“Awe, pity. Although, what a good excuse.” Loren’s eyes flicked down to me appreciatively as he worked apart the lining in his jacket. I rolled my eyes at him as another knife slid into his hand. He barely noticed, intent on his current mission. He finished after another minute. His pile of knives and other weapons was impressive. I wasn’t sure that Talon would’ve beaten him if he hadn’t been recently…undressed.

“Are you done?” Suman giggled, eyeing the weapons laid out on the table. Loren raised his eyebrows and nodded, crossing his arms. He’d beaten Talon easily.

“This is your fault.” Talon pouted at me and I held up my hands and shrugged.

“Uncle Suman, you have weapons?” Wyn turned to the man on his other side, thoroughly invested now. This poor child. He was not being raised normally.

“Oh, sweet boy. Do I ever.” Suman started from the ground up. He took the blades out of the soles of his boots. These I had seen in action firsthand. There were two buckles on each boot and one on each side was fake. He slid the metal piece out of the leather to reveal tiny knives. He set them side by side on the table and produced two more blades each from inside the boots. His hand slid up his right calf where yet another blade was strapped. He set each weapon next to the last, making a neat line unlike the other men in the room. I tilted my head to the side. There was a certain…compulsion to his movements. He tapped the tip of a blade back into order when he bumped it slightly askew and I raised an eyebrow.

“Wyn, turn around.” The boy listened, too stunned to be disobedient. My ears went red as Suman shimmied his trousers down enough to unhook a belt. Averting my eyes, I made the mistake of focusing on Loren. His eyes were hooded, arms crossed over his chest, and one of his hands resting over the lower half of his face. His expression was a mixture of intrigue and frustration. I was shocked that it almost made me smile. Loren was always so confident and outgoing. This was new. My attention whipped back to Suman when he dropped the belt on the table heavily. He fixed his pants and then arranged the belt. He spread the straps out and nodded when it met his approval.

“Okay Wynnie.” Wyn turned back around and I tried to make sense of the belt. So many straps! I couldn’t quite figure out how it’d been secured to his hips and thighs under his pants. I scoffed softly to myself. As focused as Loren had been, I’m sure he could tell me exactly how it’d worked.

Suman had been wearing a black jacket. It flopped over the back of his chair-after he’d removed throwing knives and brass knuckles from it-followed by a plain grey tunic. A harness crossed his bare shoulders and chest. He reached each hand to the opposite shoulder and thin, flat, short swords with black hilts hit the table, finding homes near the belt. He unwrapped the black cord from around his wrist and then another one. These I had also seen in action. He coiled them up and set them aside.

His fingers slowed as he slid them up his neck and his eyes were focused as they flicked behind Wyn. I knew on what, or rather who, but I didn’t look. I glanced down at my boy who was still mystified at the sheer amount on the table. It was easily twice the size of Loren’s. You could’ve put it together with Talon’s and Suman still would’ve won. Suman wiggled his black spikes from his hair and set them on the table in a neat row. There were eight today. He grinned smugly and crossed his arms, tapping his fingers against his forearm.

He was just as pale as Talon and the black harness at his chest provided a stark contrast. He was lean but strong, his waist and shoulders narrow. He and I were actually built similarly. He had height and he was more toned than I was, however. I was a bit jealous. When we’d been fighting and traipsing through the countryside, my abs had looked like that. Being a duke had done nothing for my physique. I ran my fingers subconsciously over where they’d been. My stomach was much softer. They were still there, but I had lost definition. Damn.

“Well…fuck.” Talon mumbled, “I know he wasn’t technically a prisoner, but we should maybe address this lapse in judgment going forward. I figured he was armed, but damn. What if he’d actually been a threat? Emissaries don’t need to be heavily armed.”

Suman’s eyes widened suddenly and darted down to his hand, “Oh! I forgot!”

He yanked of a silver ring and set it on the table. I raised an eyebrow, craning my neck. Luckily, Wyn was just as curious as the rest of the adult men in the room who had too much pride to ask. He stood and stepped closer to the prince, “Uncle Suman…a ring?”

Suman clapped excitedly and snatched the ring from the table. He slid the ring onto Wyn’s finger. I was surprised to see that Suman’s fingers were so thin and long that it almost fit. His hand rested on Wyn’s back. Talon and I both tensed even as Suman spoke excitedly, “Run your thumb along the side. Feel that? Push up, then to the right, and then down.”

Wyn’s face grew serious with concentration. There was a click and a tiny compartment opened on the top of the ring. The boy gasped and beamed up at Suman. Suman returned the expression with almost the same amount of childlike excitement and I felt the unease leave my body. He wouldn’t hurt Wyn. I don’t think Suman would ever hurt a child on purpose.

“Hemlock.” Loren raised an eyebrow as Suman helped Wyn close the ring, “Our prince poisons people?”

“Only when they’re really, really fun. Or a little too handsy.” Suman grinned and gently stopped Wyn from slicing his finger open on the edge of a short sword. I didn’t miss the shadow that crossed Loren’s face for a split second. It was replaced with a tired smile. Suman stepped back and began reassembling his outfit. Loren’s eyes were still drinking in everything the other man did and I kept mine on Talon until I got his attention.

That’s going to be a problem.

Could be a good thing. Their crushes may help us in the long run. Suman’s become far more helpful suddenly. If he establishes ties to Dimian, well, that could help us Kalian.

You want the two craziest people in Dimian, maybe on the continent to have a relationship?

If anything, they’d reside firmly in second place. Eon and Wren hold that title. Your brother acts normal but I’ve seen the aftermath of their time behind closed doors. Wren isn’t the only one in that relationship that’s a monster. Also, maybe this would be good for goblin man. A crazy rebound to get his mind off Ama? She really did a number on him, huh?

Lydia clearing the table drew me out from the tether. I was startled to see Suman rush to help her. Loren didn’t move fast enough out of the way and got smacked in the face with grey hair when the prince threw it over his shoulder, “The least you could do is stay out of the way if you’re going to be useless.”

“Useless?” Loren grinned, watching Suman’s back as he followed Lydia into the kitchen. He’d taken it as a challenge. No surprise there. Loren began stacking dishes and even Wyn collected more than he should probably carry. Talon rolled his eyes and handed me the bowl with rolls. I laughed as we set about helping.

 

Table cleared, Wyn was banished to his room for homework. I kissed the top of his head and his nose scrunched. I grinned as I left his bedroom. Now, where had our favorite sneaky fighters and Talon gone to? Talon met me at the end of the hall, face troubled, “I don’t know where they are. Trouble One and Two are missing.”

“You look up here. I’ll go downstairs.” I laughed softly. His face was so serious. You’d think someone had died. Talon stalked off and I made my way downstairs. The dining room was empty, so was the sitting room and library. Rubbing the back of my head, I returned to the bottom of the stairs. I hoped this didn’t mean they’d gone upstairs. I doubted Talon would be very understanding if he found them first. I was about to climb the stairs and find him when I heard something.

I turned. It’d almost sounded like metal. Clattering to the floor. Tilting my head to the side, I walked toward the noise. Back to the dining room. I was positive the noise had come from this direction, but the room was empty. I frowned and then my gazed passed over the doors at the back of the room. The kitchen. The door was slightly ajar. Lydia would never leave it like that. I hadn’t even checked the kitchen. I assumed no one would’ve gone in there after dinner. I stepped up to the doors. They opened inward and I let my palm rest against the wood. I pushed gently and looked in the small gap.

Well, I had found our wayward princes. Suman was on the counter, one hand fisted in Loren’s hair and the other in the back of his shirt. Loren’s back was to me as he stood between the other man’s legs. Legs which were wrapped around his waist as they tried to see which of them could lick the other one’s tonsils first.

I warred with myself for a moment. Talon’s words in my head earlier making a resurgence. Would it really be the end of the world? Loren had been hurting for a while and Suman had been alone his whole life. Maybe they needed each other. Like Talon and I had. Or even Wren and Eon. I closed my eyes, fingers still wrapped around the doorknob. I took a deep breath and pulled the door closed. I made my choice and left the room. I was climbing the stairs when Talon appeared at the top of them.

“Judging by your face, you found them.”

“What do you mean?” I lifted my hands and cringed when I realized my cheeks were heated. I hadn’t meant to almost walk in on the pair. I was just thankful they weren’t any farther along. Did they have to pick the kitchen though? That’s where our food was kept for gods’ sake!

“Mhm.” Talon hummed. When I reached the top of the stairs, he looped an arm around my waist. He pressed a kiss to my cheek, “This could still backfire. If it does, I’m blaming it on you. You’re the one that decided Suman could stay with us.”

My eyes widened as I looked up at Talon, “Last I checked y-“

“Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re going to say. We all make mistakes. C’mon, let’s go sit with the gremlin while he does homework.”

 

*

 

Last night had been my time for breakdowns and tears. Today was all about determination and strength. Talon, Wyn, and I walked in a line. Loren led us and Suman, as per usual, lagged behind. The men had made no indication that anything had happened last night. They were incredible actors. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t never guessed. There were no extra looks, no lingering touches. Nothing. I sighed and frowned softly when it hit me that they may very well think they had to hide it. No one should have to hide their feelings. No matter how weird they were. My mood worsened as I thought more. They were probably right, though. I wasn’t even one hundred percent comfortable with the relationship and I was much closer to it than others. Maybe that was the problem. Everything was so volatile right now. No one trusted Suman and anyone who got too close to him may be treated differently as well. Especially after the news we were about to drop on everyone. I swear, sometimes Suman just wanted to watch the world burn.

Hopefully he wouldn’t drag Loren down with him.

The plan was to head to the meeting after dropping Wyn at the school. It almost felt strange taking him with what was happening around us. Part of me wanted to lock him away in the manor and guard him all hours of the day. Never allowing him to leave again. The outside world was too unsafe. Is this what being a parent was? I glanced down at the boy and ran my fingers through his unruly black waves. What would I do to protect him? How far would I go?

“Da stop! I’m not a baby!”

Talon let Wyn’s satchel full of books-that he’d slung over his shoulder- swing forward. It clipped the boy in the shoulder and back of the head as he was scolded, “Let him baby you, brat. He loves you.”

Wyn glowered at Talon and rubbed the back of his head. I rolled my eyes up to the sky. They’d gotten better. Truly they had, but they still had moments where they went at each other like cats and dogs. It was simply worse now because Wyn was so much taller and stronger than he had been when we’d first become a family. He’d reached my shoulder fast and I didn’t want to see how much he’d grow over the following summers. Not that it mattered. Talon was undeterred but growth spurts.

“Try something. You’re still a little boy, Isylwyn. You’ve got a few years before you’ll even be able to stay on your feet with me.” Talon’s eyebrows rose.

“Uncle Loren beat you! You are not invincible!” Wyn challenged, mood darkening at his full name.

“Incorrect. As much as I hate to admit it, your father won that one. He could have gotten up. I was done.” Loren flinched at the boy’s words, inching away.

“I barely won.” Talon shook his head, nodding in the other man’s direction with a fair amount of respect.

“It was a tie. Neither of you should have continued. You. The attitude. I am not in the mood today.” I snapped at the child and then sent Talon a warning glance that conveyed the same message along with a mental poke across the tether. He flinched and started sulking.

“I can go the rest of the way by myself. Leave me alone!” Wyn ripped his satchel from Talon’s hands and stomped off, leaving our little group stunned. Suman blinked, wide eyes glancing between Talon and me.

“Is it too late to decide we don’t want to be parents?” Talon sighed, dragging his fingers through his hair and shaking out the ends that’d tangled.

 

The dukes present were in an uproar. They were acting like morons. Bickering, panicking, and despairing already. We were missing two who would arrive soon. I wasn’t sure it mattered. I seriously doubted that any of them would have helpful insight. Suman, Loren, Rah, Talon, and Wren had joined the meeting. So far, we’d barely managed anything constructive. Movement drew my attention and I braced myself as Eon rose. He squared his shoulders as he glared at the grown men making fools of themselves at the end of the table.

His hands slammed down on the war table, “Enough! Be silent!”

The dukes-some more than twice his age-were silenced by their shock. Eon ran his hand over his hair as he took a breath, “Now, let’s start over. Calmly.”

He waved his hand and fire etched a map on the table. Dimian was smack center. Illiath sat across the map to the east, separated by the Mariede Sea. Dleth was to the Southeast of us and Serran was to the Southwest. The Aine Mountain Range was our nature-made west border. As we watched, flares on the wood produced the capital cities, their names, and the major landmarks. I’d had geography lessons, but I was constantly impressed at these meetings when my brother recalled this so easily and drew it out with his Magik by memory alone. Not that I would ever tell him that.

“Kalian, almost the entire coast is in your region. It’s your responsibility. Krinn is the country’s busiest port. It’s the easiest one to navigate and would hurt us the most if it was attacked. We need to send word to Anika and father. It will take a while to get soldiers there.” Eon said. His tone of voice made my spine straighten. As much as I refused to give my brother any credit, to not inflate his ego, he did have a very commanding presence.

“Will your family help?” Hanja asked as he looked over the coastline.

“They won’t have a choice.” I grit out. No matter that I was having the same worries. Anika would without issue and my father would simply have to get over himself if he had an issue. This wasn’t for me. It was for the country.

“That is one of three borders.” Duke Keverin pointed out unhelpfully.

“The army should go to the Serranese border.” Tyren stood. His gold eyes were lit by the table’s fire as he leaned forward, “If the anti-Magik poison is concentrated there, it makes sense to have the most mundane fighters in that area. They won’t be distracted by the loss of their Magik.”

“Mundane? Is that how you see me Tyren? You wound me, metal worker.” Loren sighed dramatically. Tyren ignored him blatantly.

“I will not abandon my men. Magik or not, I will fight alongside them. Also, you think the entire army should stand at a single border? Fight a single fight?” Eon was standing again too.

“I didn’t mean all of it. Just the main force.” Tyren shrugged.

“You could send the whole thing. The coast will have its own force.” Loren nodded.

“Who?” Eon asked.

“Kalian.”

“Kalian cannot hold off an entire army for the duration of a war alone.” Talon growled at Loren.

“With your family, he wouldn’t be alone. Your parents are decorated military veterans and Anika is a powerful Magik user in her own right. Even if I hate to admit that.” Loren shrugged, holding his hands up.

“Say your absolutely ludicrous plan worked and the army fought Serran, that still leaves one whole army and border.” Eon was rubbing both hands down his face now in exasperation as Loren grinned at him.

“Talon,” Suman supplied simply, “Lyrah and I.”

“Oh, you’re as insane as Loren. Wonderful.” Hanja scowled. I was distracted momentarily by specifically what Suman had just offered. He’d offered to fight for us. In a war. Suman was with us at last. He’d tried to subtly slip it in, but I had heard it and would now never let it go. What kind of convincing had Loren done in my kitchen last night?

“To clarify, my brother is to defeat a naval fleet of unknown size with the possible help of my family. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and psycho-in-law are supposed to do the same with a different enemy perhaps simultaneously. Last but not least, I am to take my men and fight on a third, entirely separate front. All three of these, again, could be happening at the same time. Do I have it right?”

Suman and Loren looked at each other and nodded, grinning, “Yep!”

“Imbeciles!” called Keverin.

“Fools.” Moaned Hanja as he slumped in his chair. Eon let out a small hysterical laugh that startled me. His face was incredulous as he looked down at his map, palm of one hand pressed to his forehead.

“You all rely far too much on diplomacy and rules. Why are were fighting on borders and such large scales?” Wren’s cold voice cut through a growing chaos of agitated voices. I recognized this voice. I hadn’t heard it often. Only when Wren took control of a situation totally. I suspected it was the voice he used while in command of the Verseckt. I kept forgetting the little monster commanded the continent’s most secretive, deadly assassins and they were that way because of him.

The room turned to look at the small male sat cross-legged in the corner of the table. He hadn’t said a word since we’d gathered. I grinned at the very clear burn mark that designated his area of the table. There were tiny, neat burns done in intricate lines and swirls circling Wren. Eon had taken some time on this circle. I smiled more. The two of them were secretly such big saps.

“Wren has a point. Shall we revisit Kalian’s proposal that the Council was so quick to dismiss the other day? Regarding Sumerion and our…assistance hurrying him into the afterlife.” Tyren smiled fingers tapping the table. Hanja frowned over at him as he smoothed fingers over his braid.

Eon crossed his arms as he looked at Dleth on the map, “If we were going to do this-“ Suman’s eyes lit up-“Hypothetically! What would our plan be?”

 

Nothing. We got nowhere. Bureaucracy had once again won the day. The dukes were spineless and blamed their inability to decide on the fact that the Council was incomplete. It didn’t matter either way. Talon’s fingers kneaded my shoulders as he stood behind me. Hanja pointed to the coast-our coast-finger trailing along the line, “There’s more than one port and place they could attack. Illiath doesn’t have the prejudice against Magik that Serran and Dleth do. They’ll no doubt employ Magik users. Whether their new allies like it or not.”

“They will also no doubt know Krinn will be the most heavily defended harbor. It’s also the easiest to defend.” Tyren added as he stepped up beside Hanja. The healer turned and I was shocked when his lips grazed Tyren’s cheek. Public affection and Hanja were…an unusual combination. Hanja’s face looked almost apologetic. Tyren smiled shyly at him. Maybe they were making up?

There were thumps across the table’s surface and Wren dropped to a squat in the middle of it. His claws tapped against Serran, “They have historically had good warriors. One of them even got in a hit on me. That was in the past, though. We need current information. We haven’t been watching them as closely as we should because they haven’t been a threat for a while. Seems they are now. I’ll send someone.”

“I’ll go. Gives me something to do.” Loren shrugged.

“By yourself? Loren, I’m not doubting your abilities, but you’re not Verseckt. As far as I know, you haven’t been trained for something like this.” I frowned as I looked at the other man.

“Do you want to be Verseckt? I’ve seen you fight. I’ll expedite the tort-the training process.” Wren grinned up at Loren. Loren smiled nervously. Everyone knew what the training entailed. I could imagine expediting did not mean it’d be more pleasant. It’d probably be worse, in fact.

“Well, whether that happens or not,” Suman laughed after an awkward silence, “of course he’s not going alone. I’ll go with him.”

“No.” Talon said without hesitation. Tyren’s yellow eyes flicked between Loren and Suman.

The teacher made a face then nodded, but it was Eon who spoke, “The pairing makes sense on paper. The loyalty is what I question. Will Suman come back? Will he stab Loren in the back?”

Suman glared at Eon and I resisted the urge to tell him Suman would probably rather be on his back for Loren. I forced the words back as Talon snapped, “Makes sense?”

“They excel in stealth. If caught, Suman’s Magik is easily hidden and Loren has none so they won’t be executed on the spot for that. They can both fight or so you say. I’ve never witnessed Suman’s skill myself,” Eon shrugged.

“You’ll just have to trust me!” Suman sang sweetly. Unfortunately, that was the problem.

“Tell me,” Eon rested his hands on the table, spreading his fingers, “when did you inspire the most trust? Was it when you had to be restrained in this very room after antagonizing another delegate? I’m told that situation was one of your own creation as well. If not, then surely when you and Loren almost fought mere feet from my nephew.”

Wren’s elbows hit the table hard as he sat up, pink eyes flashing red as they narrowed down on the prince. Suman visibly shrank under the couple’s gaze. I didn’t blame him. Wren and Eon were not a duo I would want to be up against.

Eon let his head tilt ever so slightly to the side, expression completely blank as he stared across the table at Suman, “Were those not it? Perhaps it was when you attacked Kalian, then? A Council member, a duke, a war hero, a former prisoner of war, and-more important to me than anything else-my brother.”

Suman looked like he was on the edge of real fear. Wren was grinning, but it wasn’t friendly and consisted of mostly fang. Suman looked around. Hanja sat in his chair, pointer finger tracing the edge of the arm as he watched the exchange with visible anger. Tyren, even sweet Tyren, was glaring down at the table. His hands were clenched in his lap.

“As if,” Eon drew himself up, his hands leaving the table as he circled it to stand in front of Suman, “that wasn’t enough. You waited until the very last minute before you decided to tell us our enemies were planning our complete and utter annihilation. Now you expect us to skip hand and hand into the sunset with you. I would rather beat your head against my table and see what Sumerion filled that head with for myself.”

Suman and Eon were the same height, but somehow my brother’s personality seemed to add about ten inches vertically. He towered over Suman through intimidation alone. That was saying nothing of how much wider he was. I could barely even see Suman when Eon stood in front of him like this. The prince wasn’t weak. He wasn’t defenseless and he could fight. Standing chest to chest with Eon, though, I watched him swallow. His eyes were huge. The energy radiating off of Eon screamed of danger and the threat of violence. Not to mention he had, indeed, threatened violence. Suman would probably last a while with Eon, but he wouldn’t win. Everyone in the room knew that. I’m sure it also wasn’t lost on him that Wren was crouching closer now, lethal claws digging into the wood under him.

“A-hah-hah-alright now. Let’s settle down. Gorgeous, what is it now four? Four star general? Gods that’s hot. Anyway, return to the head of the table where your muscular fantastic ass belongs. Tiny rage demon…did you cut your hair? It’s a beautiful length on you.” Wren snarled at Loren and stood, walking to the edge of the table. Eon stared down Suman for a few more seconds. Then he turned away. He extended his hand as he walked. He didn’t even look. Wren gripped it and hopped down without missing a beat. They returned to the head of the table together. Wren stood in front of Eon, hand on his hip as Eon rubbed his opposite one.

Suman slid into a chair, face more serious than I’d ever seen it. I wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting. You couldn’t betray people and then decide you just hadn’t. Talon was frowning at Loren. A lot of people were. I cleared my throat, “Suman is not trust-worthy…”

Loren looked at me, crestfallen, and I hurried on, “He said so himself, but we cannot ignore that without the information he gave us, we’d be dead this time next month from the sounds of it. He’s fought his father’s men to save innocent lives. I’ve seen him interact with my own child and while it’s true he started a fight near him. I don’t think Suman would’ve let any harm come to Wyn. Or any child for that matter.”

“Oh good. So about fifteen percent of the time he’s not a completely dangerous liability.” Hanja scoffed. Tyren glanced at him and extended his hand. Hanja pinched the bridge of his nose and linked their fingers.

“We can’t wait around for the prince to decide when we deserve information. Personally, I think he should be imprisoned for the duration of this conflict.” Keverin spoke up. Suman glared from his chair at the man and ran his fingers slowly over the chains at his wrist.

“No.” Talon said to the duke.

“No?” the man echoed, eyebrows raising, “He’s dangerous. If anything, we should be torturing the information out of him.”

“You will not touch him.” It was the first time Rah had spoken up. I had forgotten she was even in the room. She had a tendency to sit back and fade into the background until she wanted her voice heard. She didn’t believe in speaking unless she had something important to say. She stood and stepped forward, closer to the table. She adjusted the sleeve of her sapphire, satin, long-sleeved top. It was high necked and sat atop simple grey trousers with matching riding boots that had silver heels.

“Says an emissary?” Duke Fawcell sneered. I let my head fall into my hands as Talon stood, kicking his leg behind him so his chair slid across the floor and clattered into the wall. Whether they liked each other or not, this was a family where you didn’t threaten their blood. In this generation anyway. Whether or not Talon cared about Suman, he’d pick up the torch now solely because of the attack on his little sister.

“I’m sorry. You seem to be confused, Fawcell, like you normally are. Let me clear it up for you, old friend, as I usually do.” Talon’s voice was sickeningly sweet as the tone did nothing to hide the steady stream of venom he laid into his words, “Lyrah Verloren is a Dimianese emissary because of who she is to Dleth. Which is a princess. Remind me, Fawcell, in the grand scheme of monarchical hierarchies how are princess and duke ranked? If memory serves, duke is…oh yes lower. Think before you speak that way to her again. She’s not only a higher-ranking individual, but she’s also a superior one as well.”

Lyrah looked away for a moment and I caught her quick swipe at her eyes. Fawcell and Talon were never going to get along and this was another nail in the coffin. The duke should’ve never opened his big mouth at Anders’ trial. I think Talon had decided then and there that he hated the man and he’d never redeemed himself. Fawcell was sneering, but my husband was far from done. He was on a roll now. Talon gripped Suman’s shoulder. He winced as Talon jerked him backwards, his head smacking his chair.

Talon held on as he spoke, “Suman Verloren is also an emissary and prince. He came here willingly. Ulterior motives aside, he’s given us information that could have potentially saved our lives. As Kalian already said. He is my family. I would invite any of you to try and take my family from me. Try it and remember how many times I’ve told you exactly where my loyalties lie. Also, if you’re feeling feisty today, I would remind you that the last time someone was taken from me I ripped the face off the palace and threw it over the side of the cliff.”

Now, Suman was staring. His mouth was hanging open a bit. He shook off his shock and Talon’s hand. After a minute he closed his mouth, a tiny smile on his lips. For once there was no smart reply. He was merely looking down at his hands in his lap.

“Now,” Talon grinned at everyone, prolonging eye contact and smiling wider at those with more unfriendly expressions, “Time frame for this information gathering mission steeped in total anarchy and chaos?”

👋

This was supposed to go up later, but I’ve been working more because, well…masochist. Anyway, you get it a *little* early.

Talon is one of my favorite characters I've ever created. I love him 😤

Who's y'all's favorite?

Copyright © 2021 Demiurge; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

I'm afraid I like them all too much to pick a favorite.

Fawcell has a bad and irredeemable case of dumbass. I think Talon displayed remarkable self control by not filleting him like a fish.

I suppose we're going with Wren's plan here. Goody goody.

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@drpaladin I feel like I’d be very uncomfortable if I lived in this world and someone told me were going along with Wren’s plan 🤣

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Kalian is my favorite, if I have to choose.  Sun God that he is. I like the others too, but he seems like he has grown the most.  Still really emotional and in his head too much, but he has surrounded himself with some amazing characters who will do anything for him.

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Thank you as always..I feel like the whole clan is just so marvellously crazy... I for one wouldn't mind being a member of the Verloren family. At least you always sure of what you are getting . haha

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Yes...they always are the interesting ones....the tall..grey eyed part I mean.haha

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Talon is my favorite, but Rah wins best dressed. Her wardrobe sounds fab — sumptuous and sexy.

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They seem to be in the role more of a knight or a general, than a Duke often. Or even a emissary. Ambassador. Somehow it would be fun to see them wind up on a throne. Perhaps in dimian. After they save everybody once again... But they're definitely more warriors for their country and continent, than just figureheads and statesmen. It's going to be fun to watch them raze countries to the ground. I just know somebody's going to be threatened that they care about. It would be cool if they could somehow establish a mental link or contact with somebody else if they needed to. It would be fun to see kalians powers progress. He came into them so late, it leaves room for them to expand, from their already immense size and scope... Especially if challenged in the moment, especially with threat to his family...

Still I love the ship with eon and wren... And it kills me how his brother thinks it is the cutest s*** all their little violent tendencies. Just beautiful, I'm wiping a tear from my eye. And they're by play, where they assert each other's protectiveness of each other. Impressive. And I love how Rin has really come around to be so fucking protective, violently so, of their little family. This was also a good progression to see the development between the characters, and acknowledgement of each other. These last two chapters that is...

Seriously, I love your writing. Thank you! I kept hoping for more and kept checking, so excited to see where the story goes. You have written such real and individual characters. Complicated and sometimes convoluted, but that makes them real and interesting. I eagerly await the journey that you're going to take us on. Thank you again.

 

And some of the scenes are just so damn funny, it's beautiful. And poor boy? Poor boy nothing. He may not be raised in the average fashion but he will be raised in a way that he can take care of himself. That's the most important thing. And he is cared for. Still funny as hell.

If he thinks that's bad, my children refer to me as the Antichrist. And yes I've trained them with weapons- guns knives hunting camping and all the survival skills you can possibly need, and my husband taught thing to know legally to get out of trouble. It's not a bad thing. Knowledge is power. He'd never have known to be aware of hidden talents and weapons. He needs to be aware of that, especially with a family like his. 

Edited by marsnvic
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You know, for the record? I don't think Talon actually believed him when he said he would wipe clear the entire map. To be fair and honest, it would actually be fun to see. As kind as Kalian is, I believe he would actually do it to save his family. I think somehow dleth is going to have a problem, if they screw with them. I think the kingdom is going to have a shocker on their hands once they figure out what kalian is capable of.

He is a weapon of mass destruction.

That's why the council thought he could be an army into himself, and they probably, none of them, know the half of it... Dleth thinking he's the weak one? He's the strongest and his power should still be growing since he's still an infant to it technically.... Cannot wait.

It was also impressive to kind of see the siblings esteem of each other. Kallian and Eon have come so damn far. Like, their relationship is completely morphed into a 180. But all of the siblings all do seem to really hold each other in high regard, unlike the situation with his sister previously. I still personally would have let that bitch rot. He's a better man than me. Just saying... I mean, let's be real here... Kallian is shipping his brother bringing in illegal meat for his monster lover. Hysterical. But they really do seem to admire each other. Same with talon and his sister. They rarely show that side.

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And wren does have the right idea. You don't have enough manpower to fight three armies. You got to go guerilla warfare style. You need sentinels and you need spies. And definitely assassins. Even better if you find somebody to take out the anti-magic stash... Got to tell you, I'm with him.

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@marsnvic I’m glad someone besides me thinks I’m funny 😅

Thank you for your comments/thoughts/reactions. I enjoyed reading them. Yes, I agree with you about Wyn. I have a few ideas for his story, which I’m planning for next and he definitely isn’t a “poor boy” 🤞

 

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About going along with fr

On 1/12/2022 at 7:25 AM, Demiurge said:

@drpaladin I feel like I’d be very uncomfortable if I lived in this world and someone told me were going along with Wren’s plan 🤣

About Wren's plan and being nervous about it? I don't get that. The man/monster has over 500 years of experience. With all the countries involved not just the one that he's loyal to. That is a lot of knowledge and experience to not pull from. Leaving his tendency to violence aside, he does have the right idea. I mean, if you can find a way to avoid actually having to confront three armies head on? It would be foolish to just dismiss whatever he says without due consideration. He literally has more experience than everybody in the room COMBINED. That is something that they need to factor into their calculations. That would be a significant resource not to pay attention to. I mean if you think about it over 500 years, there's a very good chance that he knows ins and outs of some of these other countries more than the current rulers do- things that might have been lost to their history, but are preserved in wren's memories. 

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My favorites are Kallian and Wyn. Wyn is such a spitfire, I can't wait until he really starts coming into his own

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