Authors: Scarlet Hyacinth
He was still deep in thought when he reached his destination. The High Temple of Jenarra was within the palace grounds, guarded from every side by female soldiers armed to the teeth. There were few males who were allowed inside, and Sari was, courtesy of his ancestry, one of them.
The soldiers nodded at him and moved their weapons. Sari murmured a blessing and slipped inside, where he was promptly intercepted by a priestess clad in white.
“Your Highness…” The priestess seemed surprised, having obviously not expected his visit. “Welcome. Is there anything we can help you with?”
“Actually, I’d like to see my mother,” Sari replied. “Is she available?”
For a few moments, the priestess was silent. She closed her eyes and froze, seemingly not breathing at all. Sari waited patiently, already accustomed to the ways of the High Temple of Jenarra. His patience was rewarded when the priestess looked at him again. “Yes,” she said, waving him onward. “She will see you now.”
So far, so good. Sari suspected that his mother was already informed regarding his betrothal. Otherwise she wouldn’t have agreed to see him so readily. He walked through the cavernous halls of the temple, keeping his eyes down whenever he passed a priestess in deference to her vows.
Finally, he reached the quarters of the woman who had given him birth. It was a great privilege to even be allowed here. He was one of the two men given permission to approach the Great Priestess of Jenarra in private, with the other being his father. He loved and respected his mother. However, in that moment, a small, guilty part of Sari would have very much liked to have been born from someone else, a normal fae without such powerful healing abilities.
Sari pushed the thought away, chastising himself for even allowing it to register. Angry with himself, he reached for the knocker to announce his presence. The door opened on its own before he could even touch it.
Unfazed, Sari waited a few moments, then slipped inside. As always, the room was dark, dimly lit by blazing lamps in each corner. The windows were covered, though, leaving the bed in the center of the room in the shadow.
Even so, Sari had no trouble in seeing his mother. She lay on the scattered pillows, her eyes closed and her long hair spread on the pillows. Sari had many times been told that he looked a lot like her. He wondered what his future mate would think about that.
“He’ll desire you greatly,” his mother replied, as if hearing his errant thoughts. “And worry not. I’m not offended if you sometimes wish for a different parentage.”
Sari didn’t even know which comment to address first. He had no idea how his mother could do that since, as a rule, fae didn’t have the ability to read minds. It seemed something that happened only when Eanera was deeply connected to Jenarra. “I’m just a little upset about the betrothal,” Sari finally said. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have thought that.”
His mother opened her eyes and beckoned him closer. “Like I said, don’t worry about it. Come. Sit with me. I want to touch you.”
Sari obeyed. He joined her on the bed and crawled next to her, relaxing as her warm arms wrapped around him. Her hands tangled in his hair, caressing him. “We don’t have much time together, dearest. I know I haven’t always been a good mother to you, but I do want what’s best for you. Tell me, what’s on your mind?”
Technically speaking, she could see his every doubt and fear, but Sari knew that it was better to verbalize it just the same. “I’m not even sure what to say. This is a good thing for Ivenia, I realize that. But I’ve always dreamed to marry for love. It’s selfish to even think that, but I can’t help it. And my future mate… I wish I knew how he was like, what he thinks, what he feels. The thing with Caelyn helps a bit, but… Oh, Mother, I don’t know how I’ll handle this.”
His mother listened to everything he had to say without making any comment. At last, when Sari finished, she kissed his forehead, right under the jewel decorating it. “I have always known you were meant for great things, dearest. I knew that when Jenarra gave me my first vision of you and I saw your little, beautiful face in my mind. You have great strength, my child, and you must trust it. I won’t say anything about your future mate as you need to get to know him yourself. Just don’t be afraid, and you can face him.” Her tone grew harsher, more serious. “Now, for the other Ornozians. Don’t trust them, dearest. They will hurt you if they can, especially those closest to your betrothed. Selbrian is right in that they’re planning to use you to start a war. So remember your lessons and be very careful.”
The warning should have frightened Sari, but it didn’t. Instead, he felt reassured. “I will remember,” he promised. “Thank you, Mother. I won’t let you down.”
“This is a disaster.”
Kael looked at the human who lay on the ground, moaning and in pain. The grotesque sight of the buboes that had appeared over his neck and groin made anger and frustration course through Kael. “We have to stop it.”
He turned toward Talrasar, who was currently working on healing another fallen man. “An angel,” the sick patient gasped out, his eyes glazed with agony and the knowledge of imminent death.
“Hush,” Talrasar said. “I’m here.”
The gem in the center of Talrasar’s forehead shone as he allowed his power to flow over the human. The light emanating from the fae touched Kael, and he immediately felt more at peace, calmer. But then, Talrasar always had that effect on him. Even under the worst circumstances, the fae calmed down Kael’s dragon, keeping him from losing control.
As the light started to dim, the human patient slumped on the ground, his coloring much better. The buboes that had oozed blood and pus had completely receded. Likely, he would make a perfect recovery, and even if he remained in the presence of other sick individuals, he wouldn’t fall sick again.
Once the healing process was finished, Talrasar got up. Unfortunately, the effort seemed to have drained him as he staggered, looking very pale. Kael caught him and brushed Talrasar’s white-blond hair out of his face. “Are you all right, Tali?” he asked.
His lover nodded. “It’s just been a hard day,” he whispered. “Oh, Kael… How can we even hope to control this plague? We have people all over the world, trying to contain it, and still, it continues to spread.”
“As much as we fight it, the wolves and the bats keep attacking,” Kael reminded his mate. “They’re infesting more and more humans. You know how bad it was centuries ago, in the Byzantine Empire. The wolves and the vampires are stronger now, and it shows.”
It was true. Historical records of Kael’s people had long ago proven that the Plague of Justinian had also been caused by the involvement of werewolves and vampires. Ultimately, the virus had been stopped, but its cause had never been contained. And now, a new outbreak had spread out, all throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.
All the while, the armies of the now-united wolves and bats marched onto those who would oppose them. The draechen tried to push them back, and to some extent, they succeeded. Their magic was very strong, and their invulnerable skin helped in fighting off the wolves and the bats. But draechen were so few, and their opponents so many, that eventually, they were overcome. Talrasar’s people, the fae, were trying to stop the plague, to keep it from decimating the humans, and they had saved countless lives up to this point. But still, it was not enough.
Taking a deep breath, Talrasar pulled away from Kael. “Nevertheless, we have to keep trying,” he said.
He knelt next to another human and repeated the healing process. Kael would have liked to stop it, to keep his lover from the pain and the strain, but he knew all too well that it wasn’t possible. Talrasar was extremely dedicated to the welfare of the humans, so much so that sometimes he threw all caution to the wind so that he could help them. Kael loved his generosity and spirit of self-sacrifice, but sometimes, he wished Talrasar had been a little more selfish.
Since he couldn’t convince the fae to stop, Kael pressed his hand to Talrasar’s shoulder and focused on his magic. Before meeting Talrasar, he’d only used his powers as a weapon, never as a tool for good. He could drain the energy of a foe with a simple spell, leaving the man or woman in question helpless. This time, instead of taking, he gave, offering his lover the strength he needed to complete the healing process.
It worked, and within the light that engulfed them, Kael felt Talrasar’s gratitude and love for him. As his lover finished healing the sick human, Kael considered dragging Talrasar off for a few kisses. It was irresponsible, and he wouldn’t be able to do it, but that didn’t stop him from dreaming.
As it turned out, his desires had to wait. Just when Talrasar got up, another fae made his appearance, rushing to their side. “Your Highnesses, we’ve just received word from Eternelle. The wolves and the bats are attacking.”
Kael shared a look with his mate.
“We need to go,”
he said through their bond.
Talrasar nodded. “If Eternelle falls…I can’t even imagine the consequences.”
Also called Rose Blanc, Eternelle was the strongest, most important citadel of the fae. It was shielded by heavy, near-impenetrable enchantments. But with the fae troops dispersed all over the place in a desperate attempt to control the plague, it was in danger. Kael couldn’t even imagine how the wolves had figured out Eternelle’s location, but it clearly illustrated the seriousness of the situation.
“Take over here,” Talrasar ordered the other fae. “Do what you can for the sick and try to work with the human doctors. Make sure no one realizes the truth about us.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” the man answered, saluting.
Talrasar and Kael rushed away from the plagued humans. Kael hated leaving them, and so did his mate, but they had no choice. Eternelle needed them. Kael only hoped it wouldn’t be too late.
* * * *
Karein opened his eyes, absently staring at the ceiling as he processed what he’d seen. Another nightmare. Compared to others, it had been mild, but it still reminded him all too well of what werewolves and vampires had once done. The image of the plagued humans would likely haunt him for the first few hours of the day before he could shake it off and focus on the present.
It was unfortunate, but Kael and Talrasar had never managed to stop the plague. Even after the ninth caste had been contained, the virus had kept spreading through different means in different times. It haunted them to this day, the threat never quite vanishing even with the advent of modern medicine.
Groaning, Karein got up off the floor and shook himself. He extended his arms, stretching, getting rid of any lingering confusion, clearing his mind and calming his dragon. Hareem called it a form of yoga, and to a certain extent, it was, since it gave Karein a measure of control over himself and a way to tame the nightmares that sometimes overwhelmed his mind.
The metal floor was cool under his feet, but Karein didn’t mind. He’d long ago gotten used to it, and the benefits far outweighed the disadvantages. He stepped toward the door and allowed his energy to flow over it. The only way to open it was by pressing a specific pattern embedded in the metal. He couldn’t have focused on the spell if he wasn’t completely sober and awake, so it kept him trapped here during his sleep hours.
During the last decade, as the nightmares grew worse, Karein found it impossible to sleep in a bed. When he did, he almost always woke up with the room a wreck. Sometimes, he even hurt the unfortunate people who’d been foolish enough to bother him in his quarters. Therefore, in all the residences he used, including the one in Draechenburg, Karein had built additions to his dormitory, cages made out of metal that only he could access when completely awake. It was very frustrating, but at least he no longer heard strange voices like he had during his childhood. And he really didn’t want to think about that because it would stir all sorts of old wounds that Karein really didn’t want to handle.
Instead, he focused on the present and shook off the tension that appeared at the back of his mind whenever he remembered his childhood. Fortunately, the spell needed to exit came easily to him. Like always, the door obediently opened, and Karein stepped into his supposed bedroom. He headed straight toward the bathroom and stepped into the shower. As he turned the knob, hot water rushed over him, scorching his skin. It did wonders to get rid of the lingering remnants of the dream, and although the shadows of the past didn’t leave his mind, he felt a bit more clear-headed.
Distantly, Karein wondered if he should masturbate. Whenever he dreamt of his ancestor, he inevitably awoke with a great deal of sexual need pent up within him. It was the lust of a dead man for his equally deceased mate, but that didn’t mean it didn’t have an effect on Karein.
He might have waved it off, as he often did, since it seemed wrong somehow to experience pleasure from such a strange source. But today was a special day. His future mate, Sareltae, would be arriving, likely around noon. The entire palace was in an uproar. Karein was stranded here for the foreseeable future, so he couldn’t afford any distractions.
With that thought in mind, Karein reached for his dick and slowly started to move his hand up and down. He rubbed his finger over the already-weeping tip, groaning as pleasure rushed through him. Overlords, he really should indulge more often. He couldn’t even remember when had been the last time he’d taken someone to his bed. The least he could do was masturbate.
He sped up his strokes, fucking his fist in almost desperate, angry motions. As he closed his eyes, he imagined his own hand being a tight ass, one that opened right up for him as he thrust in and out of the eager hole. Oh, yes, that sweet, pink eager opening. Karein didn’t even know what he liked more, to fuck it with his dick or with his tongue. The sweet cries of his lover echoed in his ears as the smaller man threw his head back, long, white-blond hair flying all over the place. Karein buried his face in those soft locks, loving the sweet scent of incense and vanilla, one that he’d never found anywhere else. Combined with the smell of their shared passion, it made for an intoxicating aroma that got to Karein’s head like nothing ever had.