Casey sat up in his room, at his desk chair, doing something he rarely did for anyone, save Roma. He was playing his saxophone, methodically going through whatever sheet music he happened to come across, from "Unbreak my Heart" to "Georgia on My Mind" to Beyonce's "Halo". He was pretty sure that Roma had laid that last one out for him, hoping for a duet, but it was a nice song, so he played it anyway.
Ra was sitting on his bed, listening while reclining back against the headboard. His long legs were crossed, and he somehow looked relaxed and sophisticated, even bare chested and with his long hair a wild dramatic tangle around his shoulders. There was something dark and achingly sexy in the way those eyes were watching him, something that sent a blaze up in Casey's chest. It made the fingers that usually moved so confidently over the keys of his instrument weak and uncertain.
Casey finished the current song and then set his saxophone down, flexing his fingers, cracking the knuckles.
"You are very talented with your instrument, my Lord," Ra commented. Casey felt himself blushing. It was the first time Ra had ever given him a genuine compliment. "Thank you."
"Does anyone else here play?" Ra asked. Casey shook his head. "No. Roma plays piano and sings, but no one else plays the sax." He and Roma often played together, although she preferred more contemporary songs compared to his love of jazz and soul. Still, he had spent many Sunday afternoons whiling away the time playing with Roma accompanying him on the piano and occasionally singing in her sweet, clear soprano. "Did the King..."
"No,” Ra answered before Casey could work the question out of his throat. "The King has no time for such trivialities. Your Queen however, is quite accomplished on the harp."
It still unnerved him to hear mention of the King's wife and to think that she might be his. Casey got up and left the room, returning a few minutes later with a white button down shirt that belonged to his father. "This might fit you," he said, tossing it over. Ra's pants were presentable enough, once the thigh guards were removed, but his leather shirt, with the imprint of his breastplate on it, wouldn't pass the careful eyes of his classmates. While Ra slipped the shirt on and fumbled with the buttons, Casey went down to check on Roma. She was in the kitchen, unloading plastic cups and paper plates. She glanced over as he entered the room and gave him a once over, frowning. "You're not wearing that tonight, are you?" she asked.
"Uh...no." Casey said, although he hadn't given it much thought. He never did understand why girls made such a big deal over clothes.
"You should wear that black shirt that I got you for your birthday. It looks really nice on you, I don't understand why you never wear it."
"It's too dressy for school," Casey said.
Roma gave him an annoyed look. "Well, you're not going to be in school tonight. Go upstairs and change."
"I thought you needed help getting stuff set up," Casey insisted.
"I have Lucy and Selena coming over in a few minutes to give me a hand so you're off the hook,” Roma said. "Go get some more rest."
"I don't need anymore rest," Casey grumbled, but retreated back up the stairs. He took another quick shower, then changed into some jeans and the black shirt that Roma had advised and fastened the black cross choker that had been another gift from Roma around his neck. Ra was sitting by the window, looking thoughtful. Even in modern clothes, Casey wondered about how easily Ra could blend into the crowd at the party. He guessed he could always pass him off as a chaperone, but keeping a low profile wasn't something that Ra would be able to do. Ra had something, a presence, which automatically drew attention. He would probably have most of the girls and some of the guys checking him out tonight. He picked up a comb and stood behind Ra, then hesitated.
"Can I fix your hair?" he asked, feeling stupid.
Ra nodded and Casey concentrated on combing the vicious tangles out of Ra's mane of hair. Ra remained silent and pensive.
"Are you worried?" Casey asked, pressing one hand against the top of Ra's head while the other worked the comb through a snarl. Standing this close he was almost overwhelmed by the scent of him: something earthy and musky, dark and primal.
"I've never lost a fight. But I worry about your safety until I can identify your opponent."
Casey combed Ra's hair until it was smooth and soft, then pulled it all back into a long ponytail, and held it in place with an elastic band he got from his sister's room. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Watch your back and don't go off alone with anyone." Ra said. "Let me take care of the rest."
"And you have everything you need to defeat him?" Casey asked.
Ra gave him a rare smile. "Yes."
Casey paused a moment, let his fingertips trail the long rope of hair, then stepped back, returned to his desk. He picked his saxophone back up, brought up another set of sheet music and decided to play some more until Roma summoned him downstairs. He went through several more jazz standards. It was usually his favorites to play, because he loved the way it sounded and the sense of melancholy it inspired as well as a longing that he never even understood--until Ra arrived. He closed his eyes as he pulled each note forward and found himself facing a whole slew of foreign memories, falling over each other in his mind.
Aliana sat in front of a vanity, lit by golden candlelight as she removed small silver and sapphire combs from her hair. He came up behind her, sliding hands over her bare shoulders. She glanced over her shoulder at him, smile on her lips, jewels still glinting at her ears and throat, shining like silver stars against her skin. He leaned down to kiss her ear and glanced in the mirror, seeing the two of them standing there, two blond heads pressed together.
I'm brunette; I'm not blond...
Resting on his forearms, breathing too heavily, Aliana staring up at him desperately clutching his shoulders, sweaty thighs around his hips.
That's my wife...
He felt Ra's hand on him as he played, stroking through his hair and settling on his shoulders.
He was sitting on a large bed, white diaphanous sheets, the window open so he could see the sky, a blue so light it was almost white. He was leaning back on his elbows, bare legs spread wide, Ra kneeling in between his knees. Ra’s mouth was busy working on his cock, staring up at him with eyes dark with lust. Watching him as that mouth tortured him, that tight wet heat around his swelling cock. He tossed his head back, moaning, and gripped Ra's hair, pressing further into that heat, that mouth that felt so good wrapped around him. He was close and could tell, and gripped Ra's hair a little tighter, gritting his teeth as fierce pleasure coiled up in his stomach and then exploded from his cock, filling Ra's mouth and shuddering as Ra's throat constricted around him as he swallowed....
My champion. I love him...
The startling realization wasn't enough to jar or surprise Casey and just passed through his head with that same fluidity as the memories pouring through his mind, heavily laced with the certainty that they were his...
Walking through a long hallway, with tapestries and banners unfurling down the wall. A rose, perfectly red and stripped of thorns, was cradled carefully in his palm and he was looking forward to seeing it woven into Aliana's hair, like she often did with flowers, to see the vivid color against her pale skin and the gold of her hair. He got to the door of his room and turned the handle. The first thing he saw was Ra and the unexpected sight brought a smile to his face. Except...except...
Aliana was also there, standing right in front of Ra, closer than was appropriate. She was saying something, resting her forehead against his chest, slowly shaking her head. Ra tipped her face up with his fingers, said something in return and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. He hesitated there, then kissed her on the mouth. Ra was touching her, tracing fingers down her neck. He stepped inside the room, slamming the door shut behind him. They both jumped, putting distance in between them instantly, Aliana with her eyes full of shock and Ra's with something that looked almost speculative...
Several sour notes sprang from the saxophone and Casey gasped, pulling away from Ra's hands. The saxophone dropped from limp fingers and even though a part of his mind screamed at seeing his cherished instrument being so carelessly treated, Casey couldn't bring himself to care. He couldn't get that image of out his head, seeing Ra and his wife together... kissing… the intimate hold. He stood up and turned around, saw Ra giving him that same careful, speculative look.
"Don't jump to conclusions, my Lord,” Ra said, his voice strained.
"What conclusions could I possibly come to?" Casey said, hearing the heavy bitterness lacing every single word. His heart constricted. His wife and his champion, the only people he had ever loved, conspiring behind his back. How could they do this to him? The betrayal sat heavy against his chest. "I just saw you kissing my wife, touching her in a way you had no right to." He got to his feet. "So tell me what kind of conclusion I should come to."
"You do not understand what you are remembering my Lord." Ra looked more anxious. "I must explain-"
"I don't want your explanation. I don't want your protection. And I don't want to see your face again,” Casey spat out, then turned and left the room. He stalked down the stairs, eyes burning with angry tears that he wouldn't let fall. He ran into a cluster of people at the foot of the stairs and greeted them automatically. His eyes scanned the room, noting a few groups of people standing around talking, a DJ getting his equipment set up in the corner of the living room, near the fireplace. He saw Roma disappearing into the kitchen and rushed after her.
"Here,” she said, turning and loading his arms with bottles of soda. "Can you put these on the counter?"
He went and deposited them on the counter next to a stack of plastic cups. "Roma I need a favor."
She turned and looked at him, slightly exasperated. "What is it Casey?" she said, planting her hands on her hips and scowling. In her pink Asian inspired dress and white fishnets, with her hair spiked, fan-like, around her head, she looked unbearably cute.
"Put your bitch face away, Roma, it's not attractive," Casey said. "Listen, there might be this guy showing up tonight and he may want to cause some trouble."
"You invited a troublemaker?" Roma asked, her face growing thunderous.
"No...no," Casey said. "I just met him and he kinda just showed up."
"Casey!" Roma hissed. "I can't believe you told someone you met online where you live!"
Casey hung his head, but was a bit relieved that Roma jumped to her own conclusion. "I know. But listen, he might show up and he isn't dangerous or anything, I just don't want to be stuck in a situation where I might be alone with him. So if someone unfamiliar starts asking about me, don't tell them anything, okay? Just find me and let me know."
"Is this guy alright?" Roma asked, frowning. "Do I need to call the police or something? I can clear out this house in about a half an hour."
"No," Casey shook his head. "No police. He's not dangerous. And I can take care of it, I just need an extra pair of eyes."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah,” Casey said, drumming up a small smile. Roma walked over and touched his forehead, then slid a hand down to cup his cheek. "What's going on, CJ?" she asked softly. "You haven't been yourself the last few days. I'm worried."
Casey pulled her hand away, gently kissed the back of it. "Don't worry Roma. Things will get better, starting tonight. Back to normal."
She smiled, but uncertainty wavered in her eyes. "Promise?"
"Of course. You have nothing to worry about."
Roma pointed to the living room. "Then get out there and start being social. I'll be just a few more minutes."
Casey followed her instructions and wandered back out into the living room. More people were arriving now, crowding the living room. He said hello to Selena and Lucy and helped them set up snacks and extra seating, then went around, greeting Giovanni and some other students he knew from school, avoiding the large clusters of girls that stood in their giggling, heavily perfumed huddles. No sign of Raphael, or Kyle for that matter, but it was still early. His eyes darted around, looking for any sign of Ra, but so far he remained absent.
Casey tried to rid his mind of thoughts of the dark haired man and what he had seen. Or remembered, to be more accurate. He knew that infidelity was something that ran rampant in today's society, but still...his parents were together after 20 years of marriage, and it was obvious that they were still crazy about each other. They still went out on dates and weekend getaways and laughed with each other and just had fun. Casey wanted that. And while he couldn't imagine himself being married to a woman, albeit a very beautiful one, he would at least be faithful. And as far as he knew, he was. The only evidence he saw otherwise was when Ra was sucking on his cock but apparently that was something that was required of him whenever he was challenged to defend his throne. And perhaps there were more liberal views on sexual activity where Tylien was from, but still that memory clearly showed that he was walking in on something that was definitely not meant for him to see. Intimate. He remembered the way that Ra had kissed her, had touched her neck and felt an unexpected flare of possessiveness in his chest, laced with furious anger.
MY Champion. MY wife.
The DJ started to play and startled Casey out of his brooding thoughts. The music was loud enough to discourage heavy talking and several people got up to start dancing. Roma came out of the kitchen and Casey took a recently vacated seat on the sofa next to Joel, trying to mentally shake off his dark thoughts.
"Hey CJ," Joel greeted.
Joel smiled. "What's up? You weren't at school today."
"Oh...I just wasn't feeling great, that's all."
"Well, you look good," Joel said, then reddened. "Sorry, that sounds dumb. I mean that you don't look sick."
Casey smiled. Joel was always cute when he got shy. "Where's Andrea?" he asked, looking around.
"She didn't come. Said she had one of her migraines."
"Oh, that's too bad," Casey said, although he was secretly relieved. Joel was so much friendlier when she wasn’t around. And Andrea was kind of a drag at parties anyway.
"Um...so...anyway..." Joel looked down at his hands. "Well, things aren't great between us, right now, and I'm thinking of maybe breaking up with her."
"Oh," Casey said again. Roma was always better at stuff like this. "That sucks man."
"Yeah." Joel clasped his hands, unclasped them, then clasped them again. "So, I was thinking..."
Joel sighed, straightened, then turned and kissed Casey.
Casey jerked back.
"Look, I think I made a huge mistake with Andrea and I'm really sorry. I really liked...you know...what we did and I just...I want to see if we can be a thing again. You know?"
"You said that we were just an experiment," Casey reminded him.
"I know, I know, and I...I thought with Andrea...but it's not. And I just wanted to give us another chance, you know?"
"Okay, well first of all, nothing can happen until you do break up with Andrea. I don't do cheating."
My wife, however...
"Secondly, I need to know how you really feel. You told me you were gay and wanted to try things out with me. That was fine. Then you said that you were sure that you were 100% straight. That was also fine. What is not okay, is for you to tell me you're gay to get me to mess around with you and then dump me the second a pretty skirt walks by."
Joel looked stunned and hurt and Casey felt his irritation ease a little as guilt crept in. "Look, I understand if you are still trying to figure things out, but if you are, maybe you could lay off dating for a while. I still want to be your friend, but I don't think dating you would be much good for either of us right now."
"Right," Joel said peevishly, slumping and looking at the ground. "And let's not forget about your hot soccer player, either, huh?" Joel stood up. "Maybe he's willing to be 'friends' with you."
Joel stalked off and Casey watched him go. Well, that could have gone better.
"Oh my God," a girl perched on the couch behind Casey said. "Who is that?"
Casey turned to look and saw Ra coming down the stairs.
Immediately, he was awash with relief--followed quickly by embarrassment and, even worse, lust and jealousy. Other people could see Ra. Everybody could see Ra. Which meant he wasn't a hallucination. But embarrassment flared up--he must have been crazy to think that Ra would be able to slip into the crowd with just a simple change of clothes. For one, the man was taller than anyone else in the room, even the basketball players. He was literally huge, larger than life. He radiated power and was quickly gaining attention of most of the females in the room and several of the males, as Casey had expected. Ra got to the bottom of the stairs and his gaze swept the room, until his eyes found Casey. He didn't approach though, just stood near the back of the room, arms crossed. Casey turned away and slumped down in the couch. The lust and jealousy surged, and Casey tried to ignore it.
"What are you hiding back here for?" a voice purred in his ear and Casey jumped, then turned to see Raphael kneeling near the couch, grinning at him. Casey automatically grinned back, taking in Raphael's dark eyes, tanned skin and bright white smile. With all that had been going on, he had forgotten Raphael was coming to the party. He glanced up and as expected, Kyle was there too, already coaxing Roma onto the dance floor.
"I-I'm glad you could make it,” Casey stammered, feeling his cheeks heat up. God, he was such a spaz.
Raphael lifted a dark eyebrow. "Wanna dance?" he asked.
Casey had no idea how to dance, never mind the fact that he would be broadcasting his preferences to the entire school, but somehow he couldn't resist as Raphael extended a hand. Casey took it and got to his feet. Raphael was dressed like a wet dream, with leather pants hugging his muscular legs and a tight T-shirt highlighting his shoulders and biceps that Casey greedily ran his hands over as Raphael pulled his body up against his. Neither one of them knew how to dance so they just swayed together, but Casey didn't mind because his hands were up underneath Raphael's shirt, fingers against the tight muscles of the soccer player’s back. Raphael had his thigh inserted firmly between Casey's legs, pressed against his crotch, so that every time Casey moved he rubbed his cock against it.
Casey moaned, deep in his throat as he slowly ground himself against it, feeling completely uninhibited and unmindful of the eyes that must surely be watching them. Casey was casually "out", he never made a huge announcement on social media or anything like that, but he didn't really try to hide it either. He knew they were watching, his classmates and Ra, but it was something vague and unfocused on the back of his mind and it seemed so unimportant right now. He was hard and aroused, feeling shameless and he liked it. He caught Roma giving him a sly wink over Kyle's shoulder.
"I've been looking forward to tonight," Raphael whispered in Casey's ear, hot breath fanning over his cheek. "I’ve seen the way you look at me, watching me when you think I don't notice. I know you want me."
Casey blushed, embarrassed at being caught. Raphael's chuckle was warm in his ear and his hands moved to Casey's ass, pulling his hips forward. "But it's okay. I know you want me and I want you too."
"Yeah?" Casey croaked out. He knew he should step away, or at least move this to a more private venue, but for some reason he didn't even care and he couldn't bear to move away from the sweet pressure of Raphael's leg against his cock.
"You know what else?" Raphael said, moving his lips to Casey's neck, dragging his tongue over the skin. "I think my lips would look really nice wrapped around that hard cock I'm feeling."
Whoa, Casey thought, but found himself still moving closer. Need was a fierce, itching fire inside him and he felt like he would go crazy if he didn't relieve it soon.
"You like that idea, don't you?" Ralph's voice was rough against his ear, a heavy whisper.
"Wanna go upstairs?" Casey offered.
"Outside is closer," Raphael said and stepped away from Casey. Casey's cock throbbed and he almost groaned at the sudden lack of pressure against it. "C’mon," Raphael said, taking Casey's hand and pulling him towards the door. Casey followed, clumsily, hampered by the erection straining his jeans. On his way he chanced a glance back at Ra, who was still watching, expressionless and smirked coldly. He suddenly hoped Ra had seen the entire sexy exchange, that he got a taste of what it felt like to see someone important to you in the arms of another person.
Once outside in the cool, fresh air, well away from Ra, the music and the press of people, Casey felt something similar to logic returning to him, blowing away the heavy cloud of lust. Something like shame followed as he realized he'd been blatantly grinding up against Raphael in front of half the school. What was he thinking?
“Listen--" Casey started as Raphael pulled him around the corner of the house where they were well out of view. “Maybe we should just--"
Raphael interrupted him by slamming his body up against the side of the house and pressing up against him, capturing his lips in a bruising kiss. Casey moaned in appreciation, wrapping his arms around Raphael’s shoulders.
“You were saying?” Raphael purred once their mouths parted. He kissed Casey’s neck, let his tongue paint a wet trail up his skin.
“Just we might…want some privacy,” Casey managed.
“There’s no one out here,” Raphael said. “It’s just you and me. Nobody will come looking for us. I get you all to myself.” Raphael ground his pelvis against Casey’s. “This is what you want, isn’t it?”
“Oh…yeah…” Casey gasped, his eyes dropping closed. Raphael’s hot mouth claimed his again. Casey returned the kiss, deciding not to worry and just enjoy. It felt so good to be kissed, to feel that hot mouth moving over his, the slick wet of Raphael’s tongue. “You know what I think you want?” Raphael asked, reaching for his belt.
That irked Casey a little. He hated it when people assumed that they knew what he wanted. He was the only one who knew what he wanted. And something about this situation was beginning to feel off to him. Raphael was acting completely different. The Raphael that Casey was used to was usually aloof and almost shy towards anyone not on the soccer team. This Raphael was bold, sexy, flaunting himself in front of the whole school and dragging Casey along for the ride.
"I think you want me to suck your cock until you come,” Raphael continued. "All in my mouth. How does that sound?"
"I think we should go inside," Casey managed, although he wasn't making much of a move in that direction.
"But it's so much more...private...out here."
"Look, I'm serious," Casey said, trying to squirm away from him.
Raphael grabbed him by his shirt and threw him back against the wall, bracing an arm against his chest and pinning him in place. "So am I."
Casey felt short of breath and pushed against Raphael’s arm ineffectually.
"Relax." Raphael spoke into his ear, licked his cheek. Casey jerked away. "Now, now, Tylien, that isn't very nice."
Shit! Casey thought. He struggled, kicking out, but Raphael just laughed. “Come now, you were all over me like a cheap whore just a few minutes ago."
“Who the hell are you?” Casey asked.
Raphael smirked. “How disappointing. I guess I didn’t make as much as an impression as I thought. Maybe I should give you a little something to spark your memory.”
Before Casey could form a reply, Raphael stepped back and his fist shot out, striking him in the abdomen. Casey doubled over, expelling air in a rushing exhalation. Pain, warm and sticky like brandy, engulfed his midsection as he hung in an airless limbo waiting for endless seconds for the next breath to come. When it did, it was accompanied by a cruelly timed knee to his face, snapping his head back and sending a sunburst of agony across his face, then a deep pain blooming up from his nose up to his forehead. His mouth tasted of copper and he spat out a mouthful of blood and coughed. Raphael hit him again, and Casey fell to the ground.
“I’ve always wanted to smash in that pretty face of yours Tylien,” Raphael purred, smirking. “It’ll be so sweet, seeing your dead carcass torn open by my teeth. Almost as nice as watching My Lord fuck your Queen when we return to Callendra.”
Something hot bloomed inside Casey’s throat as he thought of Aliana, young, sweet and endlessly beautiful.
“You’ll stay the fuck away from her,” he growled through gritted teeth, feeling a fierce surge of protective possessiveness rock through him.
“Aw, poor Tylien,” Raphael said mockingly. “Afraid to let another man touch his wife so she can never find out how good it feels to be with a real man, instead of a spoiled brat of a King.” He straddled Casey and his hand landed on Casey’s crotch and squeezed, harder until Casey was crying out hoarsely.
“That’s enough.” Ra’s voice, hard and cold, was filtering in through the pain. Hands, strong but gentle, helped Casey back to his feet. “Have you no honor left?” Ra snarled. “Attacking a King instead of challenging his Champion?”
“I don’t see a King,” Raphael retorted. “Just a clueless little boy, trying to play with the grown-ups.”
“And I see a coward who wasn’t brave enough to do honest battle,” Ra fired back. He pulled Casey close and Casey closed his eyes and sagged briefly against Ra’s warm weight. His entire body, from his groin up hurt, a mixed muted agony that spread up through his core and radiated its way out.
Ra tilted Casey’s head up with a gentle nudge of fingers. Casey glanced up at Ra, who was staring down at him. There was nothing but calm certainty in his eyes, although his face was softened in concern. “Are you alright, my Lord?”
“I’ll live,” Casey managed.
Ra’s hand came up to his face, skimming his cheek and steering clear of the burgeoning ache in his nose and eyes. “This is a dangerous situation,” Ra said, his voice low and urgent. “Your enemy approaches. Don’t deny your protection, my Lord.”
“Do what you have to do,” Casey told him. “Kill him if you must. You have my permission.”
Ra bent down, kissed him gently on the mouth.
The touch of Ra’s lips against his brought forth the previous memory, blooming inside his mind like a flower drinking in the first kiss of the summer sun.
"M-My Lord." Aliana finally said, her voice trembling. She curtseyed to him, and Ra bowed, as required when he entered the room.
"What is this?" Tylien asked, crossing the room. The rose was still cradled in his hand, his fingers making an effort not to crush the petals in his grip.
Ra started to step forward, but Aliana stopped him.
"Let me," she said softly, stepping forward. "My Lord, I know how this must look, but we have come together today in a mutual wish to benefit you and your kingdom."
"By sleeping around with one of my most trusted advisors and my Champion behind my back?" Tylien asked. He laughed, bitterly. "How would that benefit me besides the satisfaction I might have seeing the two of you in the Executioner's Tower? By the Father, Aliana, this is treason. I could have you both killed for this."
"I know,” Aliana said. "It is a risk I was willing to take. All for you, my Lord. Just please trust me and let me explain. If you still think we deserve execution after we are done, then please--kill only me. Leave your champion. You need him to protect you. I need him to protect you."
She stared up at him, all golden and heartbreakingly beautiful. Ra was hovering behind her and Tylien felt that slow burn of anger in his chest again, at the thought of them kissing, touching. But he looked at Aliana and felt that slow burn turn into a melting warmth. He could never deny her. He reached out with the rose, brushing the petals over her face, lips. She closed her eyes, accepting the caress. He tucked it into her hair, like he had originally planned, the deep crimson against the spiraling gold of her hair. "Explain, then, my wife."
"My Lord, you must know that we need an heir,” she started. "But despite my best efforts, I have been unable to bear one for you. I have taken all the draughts and formulas given by the acolytes and alchemists, but it has yet to give us a son. So I went to the temple of the Great Mother and I prayed for days and days."
Tylien remembered that. She had left for several days on a pilgrimage to the Holy City, where the high temples were located, larger and more splendid than their modest town temples.
"Then one evening, I had a dream and the Great Mother came to me and spoke. She told me that I was meant to bear an heir to the throne. She told what the problem was...and she told me what had to be done." She bit her lip and blushed, before dropping her eyes. She moved closer to Tylien and lowered her voice. "My Lord, the Great Mother told me that the reason I am not bearing fruit is because your seed is lacking. She said too much of your essence resides in your Champion. That you are focusing too much of your life force towards taking life rather than producing it."
"So...she wants you to mate with my Champion, instead of myself?" Tylien asked.
Aliana shook her head. "No my Lord. She says that you have to take your seed back from the Champion and deposit it in my body." She stepped even closer. He could feel the heat radiating off her body and smell the sweetness of her perfume. "And it must be soon my Lord. Before the year ends."
"I don't understand this,” Tylien said.
"The Great Mother often asks things of us that we do not understand,” Aliana said. "But it must be done. If you are to have an heir, My Lord, it must be done. My body is ready. It only waits for you."
"You kissed him,” Tylien said, numb.
"No, my Lord,” Aliana said. "He kissed me. I approached him first, and I asked him to cooperate. He agreed and I made him give me oath. That kiss was his seal, his promise that he would do his part and keep our secret." She looked up at him and her eyes were wide and shining. "I couldn't have you ask him my Lord. I couldn't bear it."
Tylien glanced up over the blond head of his wife, to meet his Champion’s eyes.
As Ra drew away and straightened, Casey stared at him with wide shocked eyes. He had been wrong, so wrong. Ra’s gaze was understanding, forgiving, and before Casey could speak, put words to the guilt and shame that rose up in him, another figure rounded the corner. Kyle. Casey automatically moved to intervene, but was brought up short in dismay as Kyle sauntered to where Raphael was standing and draped on arm over his shoulder.
“Well, isn’t this interesting,” Kyle commented nonchalantly. “And all this time I was chasing the wrong sibling.”
“Took you long enough,” Raphael said.
“It was hard to shake off that clingy bitch,” Kyle said, glancing at Casey to make sure he heard the insult.
“Are you ready to end this dishonor that your Champion started?” Ra asked.
Kyle raised an eyebrow. “My Champion? Dishonor? Who is standing here with his face bloodied because his Champion was not present to protect and defend? That dishonor falls on you Ra.”
“Enough,” Casey said. The kiss that Ra had given him a few moments before, he realized, served a dual purpose. First, it had calmed him slightly. Second, it has released another wave of memories in his head. Not only of him and Aliana but of previous challenges and fights. He realized that Kyle and his Champion must be desperate.
Raphael…Rogura…had broken one of the most sacred laws of battle by attacking a Lord without provocation; a course of action also sanctioned by his Master. A defeat today would most definitely lead to Rogura’s death and more than likely that of his Master as well. The winners would be walking away from this. The losers would not.
“By the power of the ruler of the third kingdom of Callendra, I challenge you and your Champion to complete the battle that you began four moons ago,” Casey said, fixing Kyle with his gaze. “The winner gets full rights of my Kingdom and subjects. The loser will be executed along with his Champion. Do you consent to these terms?”
“I do,” Kyle said. His Champion was already undressing, stripping off his boots and his shirt. Casey could hear Ra doing the same behind him. Casey closed his eyes, feeling the throb and pulse of energy and injury throughout his body.