Here’s a little bit of porny fun to break up some of the melodrama. It’s rather disjointed and probably won’t survive future revisions, but it’s hot and I liked it.
Light broke through the window of the captain’s bedroom, bathing his face is a blinding warm glow. He had already been awake for a couple of hours trying to force himself into unconsciousness, but as the suns made the day official, he threw off his covers with a groan and forced himself to sit up.
It was always harder to sleep when there were no breezes. On soupy nights like those, he often went to bed in the nude, but that did little to cool him. Of course, the heat wasn’t the only thing keeping him up.
“Damn G’yel,” he grumbled, standing as he grabbed a pair of pants. There were no more clean undergarments, and he’d need to stop at a tailor to buy some on his way to the coliseum. Going without wasn’t unusual for soldiers, though a bit uncomfortable in this heat.
He couldn’t shake Ralk from his mind. As much as Vicco hated to admit it, he really cared for him. All the annoying jokes and pranks aside, he had a good heart. It was easy to see why Adorin was so enamored; the two had a lot in common.
As usual, he stopped in front of his mirror and stared. Every day, his confidence faded a little more, and he understood the reason. He had to stop looking at Ralk as a rival. But if he wasn’t that, what was he?
Vicco hated the idea of sharing at first, but that wasn’t what Ralk had in mind. He understood that every time the G’yel gave him one of those lascivious stares. It made him cringe, not from disgust, but because he wasn’t opposed to the idea as much as he should have been.
He sighed and slipped on the pants before brushing the disheveled black hair on his head.
“Would I really consider it?” Vicco asked himself as he pressed a cowlick with his palm. He wondered where he would fit in with the Adorin and Ralk if it came to intimacy.
“Intimacy.” The captain chuckled as he grabbed a shirt and threw it over his head. “When would I even have the time?”
Lord Yanth was more demanding of him as of late, but not for reasons that involved his position as captain. In fact, there were times he wondered if he still held the position since his extra duties often took him away from his old ones.
He was now an errand boy for the man, relaying written letters to Lord Hammash while bringing back reports from his guards, as if such petty matters couldn’t be entrusted to an actual courier. It wasn’t his position to question, but the situation made little sense.
Vicco opened his bedroom door and walked through the hall, passing the small lobby as he reached for his sword and sheath on the rack next to the entrance. It was empty.
He had been forgetting so many things lately, but he usually never forgot his sword. Perhaps he left it in the barracks. The weapon wasn’t anything special, and if he lost it, he could just as easily commission the blacksmith for a new one with the same engraving, weight, and dimensions as the last.
He stepped outside into the oppressively humid air and followed the road into the city.
Adorin groaned as he rubbed his eyes and sat up. Ralk sharpened into focus as his angry stare burned into the man’s.
“I know what you will say,” Adorin mumbled, squinting his eyes as the suns peeked over the wall.
“Good,” Ralk grunted, crossing his arms. His left hand was unbandaged, and he could tap his fingers as if no injury had occurred. “Then you will not mind me saying what I will say.”
“You do not understand magic.” Adorin’s voice rose as he returned a glare to the G’yel. “I know what I am doing.”
“Two assumptions in what you said, and neither are true,” Ralk growled. “What you have is rare and dangerous.”
“Stop,” Adorin said, now rubbing his forehead. “Do not assume that you know what you are talking about because you spent a little time with Lydia. I have spent years—”
“Killing yourself,” Ralk interrupted. “That is what you are doing.”
Adorin bit his upper lip and looked away.
“When I met Lydia, I was a pup and nearly dead. She healed me using enchanted kolkaab and returned me to Krol the next day. She was owed a debt she never collected from one of the matriarchs, and they allowed me to stay in the village until I was old enough to hunt for myself. During that time, I ventured into the areas of my village not seen by most other males. It was there I learned certain G’yel are born with the same abilities as Lydia. Whether they are male or female, it did not matter, they are worshipped.
“I sneaked into one of the sacred buildings, and I got to know one of the male healers. He took a liking to me, and we talked a lot in the short time I could stay in the village. He told me stories of the ancient magic, back when the world was whole, told to him by healers before. There were many types of magic, not just healing, and in those days, there was never a price to pay for it.
“Today, it is different. You, Lydia, and the healers from my village are relics from that era, born with the ability to tap into something that no longer exists, so you unknowingly use the most powerful source you can access: your life force.”
Adorin sighed. “I know this, Ralk. Lydia explained what would happen if I used magic to heal someone directly. This is why I enchant other things, but I do not do it often because it does drain my energy.”
“Lydia… did not understand. The matriarchs of my village offered her refuge many years before we were born, to live out her days there and learn more about the magic she had, but she refused them, instead focusing on healing humans who didn’t deserve her. After the humans attacked and killed so many of us over the years, she understood why the matriarchs did not welcome her back, and she learned too late what the magic cost her.”
The color faded from Adorin’s face as he wondered how much he had taken off his life over the years without realizing it.
“I…” Adorin said as a wave of panic hit him. “I have used it a lot since I have met you.”
“I—I do not know. I count, usually. I have never gone past ten until last night. Each time I use this, I count a few seconds at most.”
“One second, one day,” Ralk said. “That is what the healer told me. For every second you use it, that is one day of your life gone. Lydia was right about one thing, though. Directly healing, for every second, it is one month. So you may have only cost yourself a year over the time you have been using this.”
Adorin took in a deep breath before releasing it, letting go of the worry. “It was probably much less than that. Over the years, I have only used it a few times because I do not like the way it feels.”
Ralk stood before reaching for Adorin’s hand. The man allowed the G’yel to pull him to his feet, but he felt two powerful arms wrap around him, pulling him close. “Now you understand. I care for you deeply, Adorin. Please do not use that magic again.”
“I will not,” he whispered, returning the embrace. “I promise.”
Ralk pulled away and stared into Adorin’s eyes. “No one must ever know about your abilities. Especially on this wretched island. I will cover my hand and wounds so no one is suspicious.”
“I am not that much of an idiot,” Adorin said. He raised a brow and smiled as he thought of what Ralk said moments ago. “You said there is no word for love in your language, and you said you do not feel it the way we do. But I am not so sure that is true.”
Ralk took a step back and nodded. “There are a lot of things I thought, but my time with you has changed that. I do not know if my feelings are normal, but I have experienced many things in the time that I have been alive, perhaps more than any G’yel has. While I do not know for sure, I do not believe that my people were always as savage as they are now.”
“I do not either,” Adorin said, giving Ralk one more embrace before stepping out of the pen. “I will get you breakfast. We have an interesting day ahead of us.”
The G’yel nodded, mumbling something Adorin couldn’t hear. “I know you are anxious, but try to be calm. If this works and Vicco is there, we will all learn together. It will be fun.”
“You use that word a lot,” Adorin said, forcing a smile. His pulse raced as he thought about what might happen later.
“That is because it is a word for a feeling one could never quantify. There are so few moments of fun in life that I have learned to cherish that word and those moments.”
“Adorin,” Aldui called out as the Alacian entered the kitchen.
“Where have you been? I have not seen you for a couple days.”
“I have wonderful news,” he said, clapping his hands together. “Guess who is officially a Nau licensed pâtissier and is the proud owner of a new bakery?”
“That is fantastic,” Adorin said, trying to sound happy for the man, but a pang of sadness hit him. Aldui was one of the few cheerful faces around that he saw every morning. He pushed the feeling away as he gave the portly older man a hug. “I am so glad for you. How many years has it been training under Sitha?”
“It certainly doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Seven years have flown by, but they have been the most rewarding.”
“I will miss you.” Adorin took a step back and smiled. “It will be strange not hearing your voice in the mornings.”
“I am not dying,” he said with a laugh that shook his gut. “When you are ever downtown, look for Aldui’s. The pastries are free for my favorite Alacian.”
Adorin laughed. “I am the only Alacian.”
“That is why you are my favorite.” He held up a finger as if he remembered something. He grabbed a basket and placed it on top of Ralk’s food cart before wheeling it over. “I have something special for you since it is my last day. I was told by a not-so-little birdy that this is your favorite.”
The aroma was on point. An immediate memory fluttered into his mind as he closed his eyes and inhaled.
“I wonder who that birdy was,” Adorin said with a grin.
Aldui shrugged. “So many birds fly in and out; it’s hard to keep track.” He placed his index finger and thumb against his chin, giving Adorin a pensive stare. “You know, back when I was much younger, I visited Alacotl.”
“You did?” The man’s eyes widened. “What parts did you see?”
“Not many, but I did stay in Tocataui for a few days before venturing out to the surrounding villages to get a feel for the culture. The city felt a little too much like Nau.”
“I have only been in the city a few times myself. Many of the locals are no longer welcome within its gates,” Adorin said, trying to keep his tone neutral. Whenever the subject of Tocataui came up, it always angered him.
“That is a shame, because the real treasures of Alacotl are her people,” Aldui said. “Never have I felt so welcome, I ended up staying an extra week in a village called Pikatah.”
That name didn’t sound familiar to Adorin. Perhaps it was a village on the southern side.
“I met a charming woman who baked the most wonderful bread I’d ever tasted. The secret was a flower called lady’s shade. I would have never known, but they give the bread its distinct flavor.” Aldui looked up for a moment and sighed. “Ah, she was a real beauty, but I couldn’t stay for long.” He grabbed his round stomach with both hands and chuckled. “I had a lot less girth back then.”
Adorin laughed. He couldn’t help but feel a sense of comradery with the man who enjoyed his culture so much as to mingle with the poorer villages and learn their recipes.
“Did you ever see Babatu? It is known as the purple forest by many who visit.”
“Ah, I do remember the incredible colors of the leaves. It always makes the island appear dark, but gives it a glow. No wonder people used to believe the island was enchanted.” He smiled, patting Adorin on the back. “I’m going to visit again someday.”
“If you do, keep to the city,” Adorin said, his tone wistful. “The island isn’t as friendly as it used to be.”
The man nodded.
“I will remember that. I hope one day you find a better place to call home.” The older man’s expression was warm, but concerned. “Don’t ever give up on what you want in life, no matter how bleak things may be. I have a feeling greatness will follow you.”
“Thank you,” Adorin said, holding back many emotions that welled in the corners of his eyes. “For everything. I will savor this.” Adorin said, holding up the basket before turning to the door.
“You are very welcome.” Aldui took a few steps forward to hold the door open. “And I am serious about coming to my bakery when you have the chance.”
“I will love to see it.”
Adorin looked up at the clear sky and ground his teeth impatiently as he took in another lungful of sweltering humid air. There was no wind, and there were no clouds, and the heat pressed on all three of them like an iron that had been sitting near a lit hearth.
The scorched, rocky land scraped under their feet as they walked along the outer edges of the island, eschewing the jungle’s carnivorous vines. Ralk, and his sensitive feet kept to the grass. It didn’t matter the island, trees never grew along the edges. It was as though the ground itself was poison to them.
Adorin looked over at Ralk who was panting heavily, and he knew they needed to stop and rest before heading back. Aldui had him so caught up in the moment that he forgot to ask about the lidoberry sauce. It probably wouldn’t have worked, anyway.
“Let us rest in the shade,” Adorin said, walking over to Ralk before grabbing his hand, tugging him toward the trees further inland.
“That is a good idea.” There was a breathiness to the G’yel’s voice as he followed. As they got to the tree, Ralk collapsed.
“Are you okay?” Adorin asked, panicked as he pulled Ralk’s heavy upper body into his lap.
“Here.” Vicco knelt next to both of them and opened one of the four canteens attached to straps he carried around his neck. “Ralk, drink.”
The G’yel didn’t respond at first, but began guzzling the water the moment it hit his lips.
“It is quite hot today,” Ralk mumbled, managing to squeak out a laugh. “Guess I cannot handle it.”
“As soon as you are rested, we are going back.” Adorin took a few gulps of water from the canteen before twisting the lid on. The weather did not agree. Typical Tule. As much as people tried to predict the rain, Ke’chetah was unpredictable.
“It will be quite a walk to the coliseum, and I fear Ralk might overheat.”
“Yes.” The G’yel’s voice cracked. “We are not made for this heat, and I may need to be carried if we go on too long.”
“I am not carrying your heavy ass all the way there,” Vicco said, splashing water on the G’yel’s face. “We will stop by my house until the evening, though it will probably be unbearable there too. I have a bath I can fill with cold water if it comes to it.”
Ralk wheezed a bit, and took more mouthfuls from the canteen. “That is very kind of you.”
Vicco unlocked the door and stepped inside; Ralk followed and Adorin shut the door behind him. The G’yel was panting hard, and Adorin was growing more concerned.
“I’ll get the bath ready,” Vicco said, rushing toward the hall. “You both have been here before. Go sit somewhere.” He turned to the younger man, handing him the last full canteen. “Cool him off until this is ready.”
Adorin led Ralk through the small living quarters to the open back porch where they waited out the rain last time. The captain’s home was tastefully decorated in what appeared to be fine art, but the space was tiny. It was the perfect size for one or two people.
The furniture was simple: three plush burgundy lecti with round and cylindrical green pillows with golden tassels. They sat around a polished cherry wood table, its legs curved and its feet in the shape of fiddleheads.
“Are you really okay?” Adorin whispered as they stepped into the back area.
“Perfectly fine,” Ralk replied. “I am a very good actor.”
“Wait, what?” A jagged, mischievous grin widened on the G’yel’s face. “That scared me.” Adorin thought back to that night Ralk pretended to be in excruciating pain in front of Yanth. “That was great, but you should have told me what you were doing.”
“I came up with that at the last minute when I watched you stare at the sky for the thirtieth time.”
They both sat on the floor pillows next to one another.
“I am nervous.” Adorin kept his voice low as he watched the entrance. “How do we start this?”
“I thought you knew,” Ralk shot back. “Did you not say you would find a way to get his clothes off?”
“I—” Adorin paused for a moment and held his head in his hands. “I am terrible at this.”
Ralk patted him on the back. “It has been a taxing couple of days. Let us see where this goes. If anything, we could start it and see if the captain joins in.”
“What if he tells us to stop?”
“I do not think he will.” Ralk pointed to his nose. “All you have to do is take your clothes off and it will be hard for him to resist.”
“He is not a rutting yowlerback during mating season,” Adorin whispered back. “He has a lot of reservations about this.”
“Alright, the water is running, but it’ll take a while for the tub to fill.” Adorin and Ralk jerked to attention as Vicco walked in. “I don’t have the best access to the aqueducts. Most of the water goes to the villas first.” He shot the Alacian and G’yel a suspicious glance. “What are you two doing?”
“We were talking,” Ralk said, making his voice sound hoarse again. “Adorin is always worrying about me.”
“Well, you don’t have the best luck staying uninjured or healthy,” Vicco said as he walked over and sat down on a floor pillow across from the two.
Ralk lightly shoved his elbow into Adorin’s side.
“Do you mind if I remove my clothing?” the younger man asked. “There is no wind today.”
Vicco’s eyes twitched. “Oh, not at all,” he blurted out. After clearing his throat, he looked away, walking back his reaction. “I mean, no, not at all. This heat is dangerous.”
Ralk looked over at Adorin and flashed his brows.
Adorin stood and pulled his sweaty tunic over his head before shaking it out and hanging it on the wooden bench against the far wall. Though he wasn’t looking in his direction, the Alacian could feel Vicco’s stare.
He glanced back at the captain, who averted his gaze at the last moment. “You are drenched in sweat. You should also get more comfortable.”
The captain nodded, removing his shirt before tossing it to the other side of the room.
“This isn’t much better,” he muttered as more sweat dripped from his back. “I feel like I need to take off my skin in order to feel cool.”
Adorin removed his thin linen pants and set them next to his shirt. He took a deep, calming breath and walked back to his cushion.
“Perhaps you should remove your pants as well,” Ralk said to Vicco without a shred of nuance in his suggestive tone.
The captain cocked an eyebrow at the G’yel before Adorin took his attention.
“I would like to see your bath.” The younger man stood and walked toward the entrance. “I have never seen one inside of a house before. How does it get water?”
Vicco smiled and jumped to his feet, guiding Adorin into the house, a short way to a room in the back. He could hear water burbling from the hall as he approached.
They stepped inside the room with Ralk’s clawed footsteps tapping from behind. Blue marbled tiles lined the floor, and four small pillars stood on each corner of a rectangle that jutted from the ground with three steps on each side. Water drizzled in from a bronze pipe hanging from the ceiling.
There was no other furniture in the room, but the bath itself took up most of the space. It was large enough for five people at least. The water filled the bottom quarter of the tub, and it would be a while before it was full enough to cover anyone.
“Wow,” Adorin whispered as he marveled at the craftsmanship. The house, small as it was, had some of the most intricate and elaborate designs. Vicco must have made quite a large salary as captain to afford such a place where lords and richer merchants usually bought up land.
“It’s not quite re—” The captain was cut off as Ralk breezed by. He climbed the steps and jumped into the shin-high water, removing his loin cloth and tossing it on the floor before sitting cross-legged under the pipe. “Well, I guess that works.”
Ralk moaned as the cold water hit his head and ran over his body. “Not quite the pond, but at least it is private.”
Adorin unwrapped his underwear before tossing the black fabric to the floor. There was one window in the room, and it was near the ceiling. Because of this, there wasn’t as much light coming in, which made the man a bit more comfortable being nude in front of Vicco and Ralk.
“It may not be full yet, but it will still be refreshing.” The Alacian turned toward Vicco, purposely leaving himself uncovered. Though he exuded a bit of confidence, his stomach knotted and turned as he examined the man’s face.
The captain swallowed, his eyes shifting sideways. Though it was cooler in the room than outside, sweat poured from his forehead. The droplets on his hairy chest reflected what little light poured in through the window. He froze in place, like he was terrified. Perhaps he was. The only one who didn’t seem fazed by anything was Ralk, who watched silently from the water.
Something had to happen, or Vicco would lose his nerve. Adorin stepped toward him and grabbed his hand. “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” he replied, a bit breathless.
The harder Vicco breathed, the more Adorin matched his pace. The Alacian took another step forward, his smooth chest now flush against the captain’s. He could feel both of their hearts race through the sweat and Vicco’s coarse body hair.
“Can I—” Vicco’s fevered lips pressed against the Alacian’s, silencing him. This time, the captain caught Adorin off guard.
Their tongues wrestled against one another, and though their inexperienced execution was sloppy, it had the desired effect. Adorin felt a stiffness press against his abdomen as Vicco embraced him.
The two broke away and smiled at one another. That was the second time they kissed, only this one felt more serious.
Adorin reached down with both hands and tugged at the button of the captain’s trousers, popping it free of the hole. Vicco held his arms rigid at his side as the Alacian pulled the pants down his legs. There was so much happening in his mind that his body seemed to act on its own.
His face brushed by the man’s underwear, a sizable bulge jutting from it. The scent was like his, but different. He couldn’t explain it, but all he wanted to do was take in the man’s fragrance as he went lower. Vicco kicked the pants away and began untying his subligar. Adorin stood as the captain pulled the cloth away and tossed it to the floor.
Both were at full mast, rubbing against one another as they leaned in to kiss again. For a moment they had forgotten anyone else was in the room until a soft series of splashes caught them both by surprise. They turned to see Ralk leaning forward against the tiles, staring in fascination.
“Oh, do not stop,” Ralk said, his tongue running along his teeth. Adorin noticed his right hand was out of sight as he braced himself with his left arm.
“Are you… doing what I think you’re doing?” Vicco asked, walking over to the tub before looking down. “Yep, you’re definitely doing it.” He stopped and narrowed his eyes. “Wasn’t that hand broken?”
Ralk burst into nervous laughter. “No, just a little injured. G’yel heal fast.” He leaned back into the water, which filled half the tub now. “Are you both going to join me, or keep going? I can finish if you do.”
“Shameful beast,” Vicco muttered, stepping into the tub.
“I do need to cool off.” The Alacian ascended the steps and hopped in with the other two. The three sat still and quiet as the cold water continued to rise.
“It must have been quite difficult, Vicco,” Ralk said, as he rested a hand on the man’s shoulder. That look on the G’yel’s face often preceded a heartfelt moment. It made Adorin smile.
The captain looked over at the G’yel and cocked his head to the side. “What was?”
“Holding my cock yesterday, but not being able to do anything more.”
Adorin groaned, and Vicco shoved Ralk’s hand away. So much for getting the captain in the mood.
“You both have no sense of humor.” His eyes brightened as he sat up and puffed his chest out. “I know what to do.”
“Oh gods,” Vicco groaned. “This should be good.”
“I picked up a song while a slave in Carthia, and I added a G’yel twist to it.”
“You can sing?” Adorin asked, amazement glistening in his eyes. G’yel had deep, gravely voices, hardly what anyone would call noteworthy.
“Like an evening bird.” He cleared his throat and took a deep breath.
“There once was a female, eyes so blue…”
Adorin and Vicco cringed as the most dreadful, off-key noise left the G’yel’s mouth.
“And of all the males, she’d choose a few. They lined outside to get a view, the fertile season comes.
“As all the males stood strong to fight, I sneaked around in the dead of night, and there she was, O’ what a sight, the fertile season comes.
“She stood as tall as a yowlerback, her tits as big as flour sacks, and her thighs could crush a talyak, the fertile season comes.
“I must have drunk too much wine, ‘cause I never saw a dame so fine, and her cock was just as big as mine, the fertile sea—”
“Gods damn, that’s enough,” Vicco shouted. “That was the worst thing I’ve ever heard.”
Adorin shook with laughter as he watched the captain’s face turn a deep shade of red.
“What?” Ralk said, his grin widening. “It brought a tear to my eye the first time I heard it.”
“You have mentioned G’yel females before,” Adorin said, furrowing his brows. “Do they really have…”
“No.” Ralk put up a finger and opened his mouth. “I take that back. No, but yes.”
“I’m confused,” Vicco said, grabbing a wedge of soap before lathering it on his arms. “But I really don’t want to know.”
Ralk scratched his head before looking down at his anatomy. “Did I kill the mood?”
“Killed it, buried it, and gave it a funeral,” Vicco muttered, rinsing the soap under the falling water.
Ralk glanced at Adorin and grabbed his hand, pulling him over.
“It seems Vicco is not in the mood. How about you and I have a go?”
Adorin smiled, catching the captain’s eyes. “Okay. What do you want me to do?”