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    VVesley
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The Truce - 9. Chapter 9

Thank you for reading!

Kade wondered frequently why this mysterious Illjardi stranger had been visiting so often, and what his motivations were. A foreigner in the northern territories of Nabius wasn’t a complete rarity, but one who visited Kade in his parents’ shop every day of the week was. It was surprising to be given so much attention, though he had to admit that having someone to talk to every day had helped the time go by. The presence of a rich foreigner also hadn’t gone unnoticed by locals, and that was good for the shop. Publicity wasn’t a bad thing when you had a career as a merchant, but it did make Kade feel slightly uncomfortable to know that he and the stranger were the talk of the town. Kade had spent his life and brief attendance at the local academy learning how to avoid the public eye and benefit from sneakiness; now, he had lost any sense of inconspicuousness that he had built up.

I wonder if he’s interested in me romantically, Kade thought. It was true that there was an attraction there, and Kade knew that he was relatively handsome. He was tall with handsome features and was in great shape. His stint at the academy had taught him how to take care of his body and maintain his appearance, as a key part of subterfuge was to stay fit and seductive. Dusty brown hair and light brown eyes complimented a soft face with a smattering of freckles over the bridge of his nose and on his cheeks. He didn’t have the dark or red hair that was favored by Nabians, but he – as with most people in the country – could always dye that in the event that he needed to attend a formal ceremony or go to war. Besides, I’m not certain that someone from the Illjard really cares if I sport the national colors. Just the other day Adrian had told him that his eyes were striking when he turned to face the light. Kade had almost mock-gagged at the soppy nature of that sentiment, but had decided to keep it together and be respectful. I guess his intentions are nice.

Like clockwork, Adrian entered the shop just before Kade’s midday break. He had formed a habit of coming and chatting to Kade while he wound the shop down for a temporary close to eat, and usually stayed and shared a meal at that time. There was no one else in the shop today and Kade was glad at the relief from boredom.

“Hello Kade,” said Adrian in a chipper tone. Kade still wasn’t used to the people around him displaying emotion other than rudeness or anger, so the way that Adrian spoke to him always caught him off guard in a good way.

“Good morning, Adrian. Come to browse our wares again? One of these days you might consider buying something, you know.” Adrian gave a sheepish grin at that and walked over to the counter.

“I’ll get around to it. Besides, I’m here for you. You know you’re enjoying my company.” The statement was a little bolder than Adrian usually was, and Adrian’s look was confident, and a bit sultry in Kade’s opinion. He couldn’t help but to return the smile the Illjardi was giving him, and he leapt up to sit on the store’s wooden counter. Adrian did the same, and they sat there looking at each other for a few moments.

“So what have you come to pry about today?”

“Pry?” said Adrian feigning being offended. “I never pry. Is it so wrong to try to get to know a new friend?”

“Shut up,” Kade replied while giving Adrian a friendly shove on the shoulder. “You absolutely pry. I’ve practically given you my life’s story and I barely know a thing about you.”

“Is there something you want to know?”

“Anything would be good, for starters.”

“Well…” said Adrian carefully, “you know I’m from the Illjard. And you know my name.”

“And that’s about it.”

“Well it would help if you asked a question.”

“Okay. How do you know General Di Coteau?” This was a subject Kade hadn’t dared broach in the first few times that they had met, as it was not a good practice to inquire about officials in a higher position than yourself. This was especially true with someone from one of the top families of Nabius – harmless questions could get you killed when it came to them. Now that Kade felt comfortable enough with Adrian, he wanted to ask as he had been dying to know.

“We run in similar circles.”

Well that’s vague.

“I see,” said Kade with a roll of his eyes. “I don’t think you could have been less specific.” Adrian laughed at that.

“You’re right. We have some mutual allies. For the time being, we’re working together.”

“In the war?”

“Yes and no,” Adrian said as he rocked his head to the side as if weighing out the statement. “I certainly support General Clarion’s son, but it’s not the duty of the Illjard to get involved. We try to stay neutral with all of the nations of the mainland, because our survival depends on trade with all three.”

“You’ve told me that already.”

“Have I?”

“You know you have. Why are you being elusive?”

“I just… I don’t want you judging me.”

“Judging you? You’re in the most dangerous country there is, not making any efforts to hide your wealth and you’re worried about being judged.” Adrian blanched, looking up at Kade.

“Do you think I have other things to worry about?”

“Of course. You’re clearly some kind of high-level official, and everyone in this town can tell you’re rich. I’m surprised you haven’t been approached by anyone yet. I guess in a small town like this you’ve probably got less to worry about… but it might be good to keep your head down a bit more.”

“I see,” said Adrian stiffly. Kade hadn’t meant to worry him, but he was constantly surprised at the naivete that Adrian had displayed in their conversations.

He’s too trusting.

“Look, I didn’t mean to make you nervous or anything. I just don’t want to see anything bad happen to you.”

“Oh you don’t, hmm?” The cockiness in Adrian’s voice was back, and it was clear to Kade that he was flirting.

“Maybe. Depends on how nice you are to me.”

“Yeah? How nice would you like me to be?” Adrian had leaned in a little closer, and Kade felt the tension between them grow thicker by the second. His heartbeat began to pick up a little, but Kade thought that he would use the chemistry to his advantage in this circumstance.

“Nice enough to tell me who you are. I don’t even have a last name for you. I don’t even know what to call you, except Adrian.” The sexual energy between them lessened, and Adrian looked a little more clear-headed.

“That’s all you need to call me. I don’t expect anything else.”

“Fine. Then what do others call you? What do you expect from everyone else?” Adrian sighed.

“Okay… if you really want to know, that’s fine. But please don’t address me differently or view me in a different light.”

“Deal,” Kade said with a nod.

“My house is Fray, as is my surname.”

Fray, thought Kade. Where have I heard that name? It took just a few seconds, but Kade was able to place it with startled realization.

“You’re one of the royal family. Fray is the house that rules the Illjard, if I remember correctly.”

“You’re correct. I am actually the last of the Fray line. My parents died a few years ago, and I’ve been ruling in their stead ever since.”

He’s the prince. Wow.

“I… if I was offensive to you in the past, I’m – “ Adrian cut him off, frowning.

“No, no apologizing from anything. I wanted to get to know you without the boundary of titles in our way. This is exactly what I meant.” Kade felt awkward at how casual he had been with Adrian but reflected on the fact that this really might have been what Adrian wanted. He decided to go with it, and shrugged his shoulders.

“Okay,” he said. “I’m not sorry. I hope I’ve offended you lots in the past few days.” The words were meant playfully, though Kade said them in a serious tone. He watched as realization, and then relief washed over Adrian’s face.

“Ha. Okay then, Kade. Now you know a bit more about me.”

“I guess I do.” This knowledge spurred a hundred questions in Kade’s mind, all of which warred to be asked first. The other emotion that clouded Kade’s thoughts was panic.

Oh gods. I robbed a prince. If he ever finds out… Kade gulped, fearing what might come of this and reveling in his own stupidity. It was bold enough to rob him when a general was near… but of course this had to end up being as high an official as they come. And then he comes and gets to know me… is he testing me?

“I can see you have a lot on your mind, but I think that I’ve revealed enough today. I’ll answer the other questions that you have in time… but enough for today. We should talk about or do other things for the rest of the day.” Kade swallowed, and nodded.

Do other things?

“Okay. That’s fine.” Kade was nervous, but his mind began to take another turn.

He likes me. That… I can use that to my advantage. This is potentially the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

“I’m just going to go shut the door,” Kade said. He hopped off of the counter, and strode across the shop to lock the wooden door to it. It was now his time for break, and Kade didn’t want anyone strolling in. He turned to walk back to his spot, and took in the sight of Adrian. He was sprawled out on the counter, leaning slightly back. One leg dangled over the edge, and the other was propped up in an angle as he rested his foot on the surface of the counter. The pose was suggestive, and Kade felt his cock surge in his pants.

“Trapping us in?”

“I do that every day.”

“You’re not always so awkward about it. Self-conscious of being alone with me all of the sudden, now that you know I’m a prince?”

“No,” said Kade defensively. “But it is good to know. It’s kind of hot.”

“Is it?”

“Definitely.” Adrian gave him a long look, and beckoned.

“Come here.” Kade strode across the store to him, and stopped just a few inches from where Adrian was sitting. Adrian reached out with one hand, and Kade intertwined his fingers through it. Adrian gave a gentle tug, and Kade’s mouth met his quickly. Adrian’s crotch ground into Kade’s, and Kade felt their hard lengths press against one another. The friction felt good, and it didn’t take long for the kissing to become frantic. Kade took Adrian’s crown off of his head and slammed it down onto the counter, which made a loud clanging noise. A few second later his hands had returned, and he was grabbing fistfuls of Adrian’s hair as he pulled him into a deeper kiss. Adrian rubbed Kade’s cock through his pants, and then reached under his trousers to grip it with one hand. This made Kade groan through his mouth, and thrust into the other man’s touch.

Kade had a fleeting thought through this that disappeared when Adrian began to stroke him. I guess if there’s rumors flying through town about us anyway, we might as well benefit by really fucking.

Kade broke away from Adrian’s mouth, letting his face slide down the length of Adrian’s body. He unbuttoned silver fasteners that held his shirt and pants together, exposing the lower section of Adrian’s abdomen and between his legs. When Adrian’s hands pushed Kade’s head down, he opened his mouth and took the Prince inside. Adrian moaned with pleasure the first time Kade went down, and leaned back to prop himself up on his elbows. As Kade began to use his hands to explore the rest of Adrian’s body, he felt himself get so hard that it hurt against the strain of his linen pants. He unbuttoned himself, and released his own cock so that he could begin stroking it.

Kade made eye contact with Adrian, looking up at him while swallowing his member to the base.

His eyes are so blue.

Adrian put a hand on Kade’s chin, and pulled him back up towards his face. After another breathless kiss, Adrian slid off of the counter and went down to his knees. Kade reveled in the warm sensation of his mouth, and enjoyed the strokes that Adrian gave him as his head bobbed up and down. It was almost too much when Adrian stopped, and begin to lick lower. What is he… oh fuck.

Adrian’s tongue began to travel south, licking over both balls before moving to the soft skin behind them. When he reached Kade’s hole, he moved it in slow circles that traced the outline of his opening. Kade’s legs involuntarily moved wider, and he ached to have Adrian explore him further. The sensation made him gasp repeatedly, and it didn’t take long before he grabbed Adrian’s wrist to make him stop.

Kade pulled Adrian up, and gave him a quick, breathless kiss. He turned around and bent over the counter, laying with one side of his face pressed to the wooden surface. His hands were on his cheeks, spreading them apart to reveal himself fully to Adrian. “Take me. I want it.”

Fewer then 15 minutes later, Adrian cried out as he was overcome by sensation, spilling himself inside of Kade. They stood frozen like that for a few seconds, before Adrian bent over on top of Kade and kissed the back of his neck.

“Thank you,” he said barely audible. “That was magnificent.” Kade eased Adrian off of him, feeling the man’s length slide out of him slowly. He turned around, wiping at the sheen of sweat that had developed on his forehead. He gave Adrian a quick peck on the lips, and a cocky smile.

“Was?” he asked. “We’re not done yet.” Adrian’s face went to puzzlement, and then to surprise when Kade turned him around and forcefully pushed Adrian down onto the counter. It was now Adrian who was bent over, and Kade was holding both of his wrists behind his back with one hand.

“It’s my turn.” Adrian remained surprised at this for a few more seconds, before giving in to a joyful laugh.

“Alright then,” he said. “Let’s see what you’ve got.” Kade spit into his hand, slicking himself up while he breathed hot breath on the back of Adrian’s neck. He kissed the side of the prince’s neck trailing up to the earlobe. He gave that a soft nip, and spoke quietly into Adrian’s ear.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun together.”

***

Alex turned to look at Jared, feeling complete bewilderment for one of the first times in his life. He met Prince Coyne’s gaze, noting the gloat that was written all over his face. “Holy shit. I thought you were just messing with us.” Jared laughed at the statement, and Alex looked to see Carl staring too.

It was the morning after the Coyne-Monciet-Di Coteau-Cathcart treaty had been written, and all four leaders had ratified it at first light. A few small revisions had been made, but the outsiders spending a night in the Monciet castle had gone a long way towards smoothing over relations. Tensions were still high, but Alex felt far more comfortable than he had when he had first arrived in Ironia. Marion had kept her distance, but Jared had taken Alex and Carl to see some of the wildlife that he had promised them existed the night before in his grandiose stories. Alex had thought that he was exaggerating until they had made a quick visit to a private stable not far from the castle. The group was now looking at an enormous ox, bigger than Alex had ever seen before.

It’s practically the size of a siege engine, he thought. The ox was at least twelve feet tall, and even Carl could only look at it’s chin without having to tilt his head back. Alex had never imagined that Jared could have been telling the truth, and was amazed to learn that this aspect of Ironia wasn’t known to Nabian society.

“I told you so,” Jared said with a laugh. “Ox aren’t the only animals either – I’ve seen horses, spiders, and lizards that are larger than life too. I’ve been told that there are plenty of species with the condition if you know where to find them.”

“Amazing,” said Carl who was staring up at the creature with complete awe. Alex couldn’t agree more with his husband’s statement and was just as transfixed. “This guy must weigh something ridiculous. How much do you have to feed him?”

“I don’t know,” said Jared. “You should see the size of the plants he eats though. Some of them have leaves as big as small tables. We have to import them all from Solstice Peak, and I’ve heard it’s pretty costly. This is the only one that Marion keeps in service – he can do the work of five oxen by himself.”

“I can see that,” Alex mused. “You said Solstice Peak is where he’s from?”

“That’s right,” Jared nodded. Alexandre had heard of the famous landmark that lay in the western half of Ironia. A few Nabian generals had ventured there in the past, but none had left any military forces behind to control it. As far as he knew, it was barren. Without resources there, the site was of little interest to Nabius, and thus hadn’t received any attention. There also weren’t any cities or established governments there, with the only signs of civilization being wooden villages that climbed up the sides of the mountain.

I bet if any Nabians had stumbled upon something like this, it would have been a different story. Animals that grow to such proportions would be hugely valuable. Alex could already envision giant war horses trampling through fields of unsuspecting soldiers and knew that the application of gigantic animals to war could be huge. Livestock would also be more efficient if they were bred in these sizes, and Alex knew that the would be sought after if this Ironian secret became widely known. The people of Solstice Peak are lucky that they’ve gone undisturbed for so long. Nabius could capitalize on this so quickly.

“It really is breathtaking,” he said reverently. Jared nodded at that. “I’m surprised that I didn’t know about this before, especially if an example like this has been living in the Monciet castle this whole time. How have you kept this a secret?” Jared shrugged at that, and spoke nonchalantly.

“We haven’t, really. Most of the time when outsiders write about the great animals of Ironia, their companions think they’re just exaggerating. I’m sure that if you looked through your correspondence, someone would have written your estate about it at some point.”

That’s probably true.

“And besides, finding the species that you want isn’t easy. Unless you want to scour the country to get an example, you’re probably not going to yield results with the quick searches that you Nabians are fond of.” Alex nodded, understanding that. Nabians were all about efficiency, and they didn’t spend too long digging into the details of the regions that they conquered. They were trained to extract what resources they could, maintain an iron grip, and move on to the next mission.

“I suppose you’re right.”

“My family controls most of the breeding of large species anyway, and we’ve kept that within the walls of the Coyne estate. Most people never see more than one great animal at a time.” That addition interested Alex, as it meant that the Coynes had already foreseen and begun using these creatures on a large scale.

Perhaps the Coyne forces are more dangerous than we previously thought.

“That’s so cool,” said Carl excitedly. “I’d love to go see them all one day.”

“I hope that you can,” said Jared graciously.

As they began moving away from the stable and mounting their own horses to ride back in the direction of Marion’s home, the group saw two horses approach, atop which rode Luca and Eamon.

How in the hells is Eamon riding a horse? Alex wondered. He seemed to be doing better, but he can’t be that much better. I’ve never heard of a blind person ever being able to ride. As they got closer, Alexandre’s curiosity about the feat wore off. He realized that the pair had ridden hard and fast, and Luca wore a worried expression on his face. When they were within earshot, he yelled out.

“Alex! Carl!”

“What is it?” Alex called back. The young steward slowed his horse’s gallop and pulled up in front of Jared and Carl.

“We just got word,” Eamon said, a little out of breath from riding. “An attack has been launched.” Alexandre’s nerves soared to life, and he began to mount his own horse. Carl did the same, while Jared just stared at the newly arrived messengers.

“Where?” Alex asked sharply. He had been tracking enemy movements for weeks, and was prepared for assaults on several different fronts. He had no way of knowing when the next fight would be, or whether he should be the one to go on the offensive. He had enjoyed the period of stasis that allowed him to prepare and strategize, but supposed that it had to end eventually.

“Laura Nandra’s,” Eamon replied.

Shit. This was one of the least expected territories for an assault to come to, given that General Nandra’s brother was on the opposing side by way of pacifism. Maybe the unexpectedness of that was why they went for it. But who would have thought of such a tactic? Orr? Davora? Lafeye? Surely not General La Croix.

“The general has been critically injured,” continued Eamon. “We got word from Almanita and came as fast as we could.”

“We need to prepare the troops to reconsolidate towards the center of our line. I’m frankly surprised that they would target there, given that we have considerable strength in that region. It’s also close to Tomacia, so I can’t imagine that we’re in too bad of a position when it comes to fighting. Carl, send the order to –“

“Alex,” Luca cut him off. This was surprising, as Luca was almost always deferential and respectful to him.

“What?” He was still hurriedly saddling up, and composing himself.

“It wasn’t Nabius. The Nandra’s got attacked from behind – by Tomacians.” This made everyone in the group stop, and more than one set of eyes turned to Carl.

“Say again?”

“Tomacians,” Luca reconfirmed. “They were blindsided by a group that attacked the river port after crossing the Pike.”

“Why…” Alex was at a loss for words, confused at what this meant. It was not lost on him that Jared raised an eyebrow as if unimpressed. Discord between Nabius and Tomacia was not what he wanted to show to a newly gained ally, especially when it involved actual violence.

“How did this happen?” Carl demanded. Luca just shrugged his shoulders, and Eamon shook his head. “This is bad.”

“Really bad,” Alex agreed.

“It definitely wouldn’t have been my parents,” said Carl.

“Most definitely,” Jared said, surprising him. “They’re in the Order. Your parents wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t what’s best for the world.”

“So who? We need to find out details?” Alex was looking at Carl when he asked, and slowly saw the expression on Carl’s face that meant he had remembered or discovered something dawn.

“I think I have an idea,” Carl said. “But if I’m right, that could be a bad portent. I once caught Eric Chamberlin going through my parents’ mail. It had to do with – “

“The order,” Jared finished. “Eric Chamberlin is a member. If he’s gone rogue, then someone in the order has sanctioned it as well. I can’t imagine why.”

Alex resumed preparing his horse and swung up into the saddle. “We’ll get to the bottom of it. Let’s go.” All five people in the conversation were atop horses now except for Jared. Alex looked at him expectantly, but Jared gazed impassively back.

“This is your fight,” he said. “I’ll find out what I can from my side, but that’s all I can promise. It would seem that your time in Ironia is over.” Alex nodded grimly.

“Right.”

“Best of luck,” Jared said.

Copyright © 2018 VVesley; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Apparently Jared didn't share knowledge of the attempted bombing with Alex and his group. He is keeping his cards close to his vest.

This attack from Tomacia is very bad news.

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Holy impressive political play. I've never seen a writer throw so many plot threads so artfully. You are keeping everything so beautifully entwined. Between this one and the previous two stories there is so much I could compliment on. My only regret is I wish I would have waited to read the first story until you finished this one. I can't wait to see where the story goes next. 

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1 hour ago, drpaladin said:

Apparently Jared didn't share knowledge of the attempted bombing with Alex and his group. He is keeping his cards close to his vest.

This attack from Tomacia is very bad news.

You'll find out more about that soon! 

As for the attack, it's bad news indeed. Thank you for the comment!

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4 minutes ago, RainbowPhoenixWI said:

Holy impressive political play. I've never seen a writer throw so many plot threads so artfully. You are keeping everything so beautifully entwined. Between this one and the previous two stories there is so much I could compliment on. My only regret is I wish I would have waited to read the first story until you finished this one. I can't wait to see where the story goes next. 

Thank you so much - that is a high compliment! I'll try to be speedy about getting chapters out :) I appreciate you reading and your comment!

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I think Rainbow's comments said it all. 

I'm worried for the Tomacian king and queen. They wouldn't have sanctioned this.For Chamberlin to have made such a bold move suggests he may have done something to them.

Adrian and Kade seem to be getting along quite nicely.

Are we going to let the Jwitch off the hook again after the gunpowder plot? 

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10 hours ago, Goodie said:

I think Rainbow's comments said it all. 

I'm worried for the Tomacian king and queen. They wouldn't have sanctioned this.For Chamberlin to have made such a bold move suggests he may have done something to them.

Adrian and Kade seem to be getting along quite nicely.

Are we going to let the Jwitch off the hook again after the gunpowder plot? 

Ah, thanks so much. The responses like this are really what motivate me to continue writing and posting. Stay tuned!

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