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 Male x Male Innate Behavior (Sayd & Arrow)

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by Sayd, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. Sayd

    Sayd Ask for Skype Member

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    Disclaimer-- Will likely contain themes of dub-con, incest, and mpreg of a magical nature.

    Rothan Sovele was not noted for his generosity. In his time as King, few would have expected him to raise the child of a proclaimed enemy. The community had waited with held breath, expecting a public execution to demonstrate power, or at the very least a way to flush out those that were loyal to the boy's lineage. Perhaps that was on the King's mind, but no such events occurred. The only child of his late-half brother Maes was raised as one of the King's own. The child growing up wanted for nothing, and was provided an education based upon the studies Rothan deemed most important for a boy of his status. Most of this education was based on their social and political construct. Learning the way of the world would have no benefit, at least in the King's eyes.

    As the boy grew to a more understanding age, rumors spread that would need to be addressed. Sovele did not hide where he came from, but made sure he understood that his true father had been trying to destroy all that he'd built up. He was lucky Sovele had taken him, because his world would be nothing like he'd known it if he'd left him behind.

    The community surrounding the boy was a luxurious one. Growing up he resided in the royal mansion, kept close by the King as he was groomed into a proper Prince. As he came into his teenage years he was allowed into the city with chaperon, but never outside of the solid city walls. They had paved streets and clean water thanks to the generosity of their King, and their homes were constructed of stone. No easy feat, but all made possible by magical means. Events were hosted often to keep the occupants of the main city from boredom. If one looked past the privilege, one might take note of the guards meant to keep outsiders out. To most, they blended with the scenery, just a silent precaution they hardly paid any attention to. Behind the main city, but still equally protected was the royal farmland, where the best food supplies came from. The towns that surrounded the area were able to take advantage of the prosperity, but only because Sovele allowed them to do so. In return, even if they were 'low content' as they were called, they were loyal to their King. Those possessing no magical ability were often exiled on a whim, to make room for those coming in from the waste that tested in desirably.

    Rothan would always make room for good blood, but he saw no reason to sustain more than he needed. He didn't need a large army of commoners for defense. He not only controlled one of the most precious commodities of the world, but he'd proven that his power could be used to wipe cities off the map rather than aid in it's prosperity. To those outside of the area controlled by Sovele, he was known as a tyrant. To those inside, he was their saving grace.

    A servant had been called upon to tell his charge that he wasn't permitted to venture into the city this evening, and that Sovele was requesting him for dinner. It wasn't uncommon that the King showered the stolen Prince with attention, among other things. It was typical whatever was asked, the Prince received, be it an exotic pet or land to cultivate as he saw fit on the royal estate. Gifts were commonly given as well, and it would appear that Sovele did not show any malice towards the Prince for his origin. That could not be said for all that resided with the King. Even among Sovele's own children, the stolen Prince appeared to be the King's favorite. That was rumored to stem from distaste for his wife, the Queen. She had three children by the King, but that had been no easy task for her given the state of her health. She'd never been well, and the children he had by her were delicate, prone to the same sort of frailness their mother was plagued by. They were still royal blood of the highest content, and treated as such, but Sovele doted primarily on the healthy child of his half brother. Many thought Sovele would pair one of his children with the child of his half-brother, but nothing so far had been mentioned of suitors for his favorite.

    Beside the table was a gift for the young man covered in a pristine sheet. He thought if he provided all that he might desire, he would never want for more, and so when the boy that had grown into a young man arrived, his eyes took on that pleasantness that always did when he was presenting his favorite charge with a gift. Really, he was simply awaiting gratitude. A servant uncovered it.

    It was a marble statue depicting the fall of Maes, the boy's father. His body was twisted, a hand clutching his chest, his face partially obstructed in a way that was thinly veiled disrespect. Most would consider it a beautiful piece, but more than that, it was a reminder of the young Prince's origins.

    “I honor my brother by bringing such artistry to his memory,” Sovele spoke, motioning for the Prince to sit with him. “I hope you like it. I thought you could put it into your gardens.”

    Food had been laid out for them, plentiful and vast in their options. They were wasteful in the large city, and they overindulgence was a common theme among the elite.
     
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  2. Arrow

    Arrow Hobbyist Purveyor of Casual Filth Member

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    Basren knew better than to ignore a summons. With others, he could be as flippant as he liked, but he'd learned--and learned early--that the king was not one to wait. He only took his time to stop by his rooms and allow his valet to dress him after a short bath. He couldn't be seen with dirt underneath his nails and grimy to the elbows, especially not when he went to the king. Before he left, he tucked a small blue flower in the button hole of his vest, something that matched his eyes.

    Waves of both nervousness and anticipation, not unpleasant, buoyed him towards the king's private dining room. Sovele was there already, and Basren gave the low, stately bow that respect required before he came into the room. The looming sheet draped over what had to be a surprise gave Basren a small thrill of anxiety, but he was careful to keep his face pleasant. It was, probably, a gift, and whatever it was, Basren was going to receive it with grace and gratitude. There as always the hope, too, that it would be something pleasant. Sometimes, it was.

    Before he could sit, Sovele was already having it unveiled. Basren's smile didn't falter.

    It was almost like looking in a mirror. Basren didn't remember his father, but he could pick out the features that they shared, the artist had been so skilled. For a moment, his gaze was arrested, just a little too long, before he responded.

    "It's quite beautiful," he agreed. He pressed on, "I know just where to put it, so it can be seen to full effect." A short walk took him to the king's side, where he placed a kiss to Sovele's cheek and said, "Thank you. Every time I look at it, I will remember how lucky I am that it was you I was raised by."

    That had gone well, he thought, and he took his seat, ready to break into the meal. His particular favorites had been laid out, and Basren made sure to thank Sovele for that, too, for even remembering. He helped to serve Sovele first, though, exhibiting his own remembrances about what the king liked.

    He licked his lip once he started to heap his own plate, giving a short glance at Sovele before he started to speak. His heart beat just a little bit faster.

    "I'm glad you bought up the garden, actually," he said. "I was wondering what you thought of these flowers here, on the table."

    For the past week, Basren had been taking flowers from his fledgling garden and having them displayed at the tables where the family took their meals. No one knew, except the servants, which meant, in effect, that everyone knew. Or at least Sovele would, probably. Anything Basren ordered done in his rooms was overheard by his valet.

    But today he'd had special flowers sent up. They were a shade of violet so dark they were only purple at the edges, almost frilly at their edges. They couldn't be found anywhere inside Sovele's sovereignty.

    "I was wondering if you might help me procure them. Aren't they lovely? But they grow in the northern region, above us. No one I talk to seems to know how I might set up a trade for them. I thought, maybe a flower that grows here, in exchange... If anyone could do it, you could. Perhaps as a silly indulgence for me?"

    Basren

    [​IMG]

    Maes

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
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  3. Sayd

    Sayd Ask for Skype Member

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    Sovele fed on the gratitude his charge expressed, approving of his reaction to the lifelike marble carving. A small part of him was waiting to hear protest over the gruesome picture it created parading as art, but Basren proved why he was the favorite and reacted just as Sovele wanted him to. His other children had too much imput from their mother. It made them opinionated, and that was fine unless they disagreed with one of the King's own. Basren's influence came primarily from Sovele, as the Queen would have little to do with the boy's raising, and even less so to do with Basren as she started to question whether or not he was sleeping with her husband. She could prove nothing, but it was one of those things a wife just knew.

    With the gift well received, Sovele was in a good mood. Enough so that he was happy to listen to Basren's request. It was not so often the young Prince asked for something Sovele was not sure he could provide. Sovele pulled one of the flowers from the vase, to inspect more closely.

    "Who brought you these?" Sovele wondered at first before addressing the question. "If they can only be found in the north." Most goods were not traded in from the wasteland, but certainly people were desperate enough to try if it meant trading something inedible for something that they could use. It was a risky sort of business that usually didn't reach the main city, but perhaps someone had heard of Basren's like of pretty things to grow in his garden.

    "They would not be a favorite of mine, but I could send someone to buy you a few plants outright, rather than doing a trade." He set the flower down, starting in on the plate Basren had piled for him. "I would advise against it, however. Like the people of the waste, their plants sometimes grow like weeds. Is it's fleeting beauty worth the risk of it taking over what you've already established?" Sovele was hoping to discourage the endeavor all together, using his own bias to try and close that door before it could be explored further. Still, Sovele usual used manipulation rather than Basren ever having to hear the word 'no'. He'd been spoiled, but when he was younger, most things were easy.

    "You know that I like those pretty blue things that you grow," Sovele spoke, reaching to pluck the flower from Basren's vest. He brought it to his nose before setting it beside the other discarded flower. He was smiling again, leaning a little closer in a way that could be interpreted as intimate. "They smell better. I think you should fill your garden with more of these."
     
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  4. Arrow

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    Who brought you these?

    Basren considered, wildly, of lying. That was quashed immediately, though. Sovele would know. And if he didn't know right away, he would find out. There was, of course, the fear that Sovele would disapprove of who it was that had given Basren contraband, but Basren was convinced it was meant to be a kind gesture, one to lure his interest rather than an outright act of rebellion. He was low content. He didn't have many prospects, and as much as Sovele doted on him, Basren knew he would need to court someone else eventually. Not that that wouldn't be its own tangle, considering how jealous Sovele could be.

    Basren kept his eyes on the table in front of him, emitting a sense of casualness he didn't feel. "Matthias Yardell caught a trespasser on the edge of his lands a few weeks ago. The plant was in the man's pack. Matthias had no use for it, but he saved it for me as a curiosity." He risked an opinion. "I thought it was thoughtful of him." And then, swiftly, to cover up that, "I think it might originally be something edible--a lettuce, maybe--but it's pretty enough to be ornamental, don't you think?"

    A weed. It had grown heartily enough, with a bit of care, despite having traveled across the country to Sovele's palace.

    "Well, I could pot it," he said. "The roots can't spread if I do that. The color is just so--" He paused, awkwardly, realizing he was either treading thin ice or Sovele simply wanted him to grovel a little. "--rich."

    Fingers brushed his vest, plucked out the flower he'd chosen. Sovele had noticed, that was obvious. The compliment was hidden, but it still made Basren flush with happiness. He turned in to Sovele's lean, his head ducked demurely. Flowers and food had been set aside, Sovele's attention turned entirely to him.

    Basren pressed a shy kiss to the corner of Sovele's mouth. It felt stolen, as it usually did when they were anywhere but the bedroom. Basren always had the nagging feeling that the queen would march in, or one of Sovele's children would come in to seat themselves, doing their jealous best to command Sovele's attention.

    "I've filled a small space with these already," Basren said, sounding amused. "Somewhere for our particular use." He pressed another kiss, thinking that Sovele really did just want buttering up. "If you could procure this other for me, if I put it around your gift, for example, the white of the stone will stand out immensely. Every detail. Wouldn't that be pretty, too?"
     
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  5. Sayd

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    “I think you've received better gifts from someone making his interest known,” Sovele spoke, making it clear that Matthias Yardell was now on his radar. What that meant exactly could go a few different ways. Sovele was not known for his predictability, especially when it came to Basren.

    “If you are so adamant, I will procure them for you until your interest fades,” he decided, taking well to the attention Basren showered him with. The young man was well tuned in to his moods, and often he provided a balm to his rank temperament, and occasionally, an outlet.

    “The food isn't going anywhere..” That was one certain that always remained the same within Sovele's household, and mood was shifting with the way Basren was leaning into him. There were only so many things Sovele wanted when he'd asked Basren to share a private meal with him alone in his chambers. An even greater hint was when the servants left hastily after the food had been offered. Sovele pulled him into his lap, arms providing him support as he sought to deepen the kisses. If Basren was going to tease him, he was going to take from him what he had to offer. It didn't go unnoticed that the statue of the man's father was there, rather it was something Sovele silently would take a delight in, knowing he was about to fuck the man's son over that table.

    Sovele started with the buttons on Basren's vest, careful to send him away in the same condition that he arrived in, after all, he needed no more grief from his wife if she were to have more definitive evidence.

    “I trust your studies have been going well,” Sovele went on, his actions betraying anything fatherly about his words, especially as he continued to undress his charge. His body was starting to show interest, but it was not uncommon that he needed help in that department. Age and desensitization made certain lower extremities less functional, provided some disconnect with body and mind. It was why he didn't usually mind taking his time to undress Basren.
     
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  6. Arrow

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    Better gifts. Basren considered turning that comment into a flirtation, but would it seem too much like wheedling? He still hadn't sussed out Sovele's mood, though, and so kept his mouth shut. It wasn't until Sovele had pulled him into his lap that he knew the man wasn't in a fiery mood. Relief spooled out into eagerness, thankfulness. He opened his mouth to Sovele's kiss.

    And joy. "Thank you," he said, warmly, and pressed another kiss to Sovele's temple as the king's attention had turned downward to his vest buttons. "I'll make sure you approve of the design before I put them in. You'll see how lovely they look."

    Basren was careful, too. Sovele couldn't be any more mussed when he left the room than Basren could be. It was too much evidence, and the last thing Basren wanted was to let Sovele's wife give him grief. It would probably round back on him, and the next time Sovele fucked him, he would be made to take the care he was meant to in the first place. It would be a lesson.

    Buttons slipped carefully through their holes, his shirt parted and tucked back where it wouldn't wrinkle too badly, the dishes slid far enough away that they wouldn't stain or spill. Basren already knew his other duties as well, his hands working over Sovele's slowly thickening cock. He gasped into open-mouthed kisses, made all the small noises of encouragement that might help spill heat down to Sovele's groin, whispered into his ear or displayed himself, slid down and used his mouth until the corners of his lips ached. He worked until Sovele was hard.

    He'd known this was a possibility, and so there was a small bottle of oil in his pocket. His short bath had included preparation. It wouldn't prevent the first bite of pain, but Sovele sometimes preferred that. Basren had learned to live with it, even to like it at times. There was a cloth napkin still on the table for afterward.

    Basren tested his limits on this good mood. His pants and boots had been shucked to one side, and he was bare from the chest down, his shirt hanging from his shoulders, the sleeves rolled up, parted around him. His cock was flushed, standing proudly, for Sovele to do with as he pleased. His legs were parted over Sovele's lap.

    "Is the gift of this plant you making your interest known?" he said. He put a teasing edge to it, as though it was a flippant question.

    Basren was low content. The only reason Sovele toyed with him was because he liked him, was fond of him, maybe felt responsible for him. For Sovele to choose him to carry on his line wouldn't be prudent. Basren knew he was destined only to be a broodmare to someone, the garden his last effort to make something lasting in the palace before he was shunted to raising children. It was expected of him. He looked forward to it, but not to the uncertainty. He would, of course, not go to someone who could take care of him like Sovele did.

    "It's only..." Basren said. He had the bottle of oil in his hands, was slicking Sovele up. "If I could always serve you in some way, I think I would be happy."
     
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  7. Sayd

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    “I'm teaching you how to be a good for someone – when I decide to give you away,” Sovele started, gaze cutting to Basren in warning. “Don't mistake my actions. Such a notion is dangerous, and you know it.” It was one thing for Sovele to entertain the thought of such things, another for Basren to get ideas of his own and speak openly of them, regardless of if he was only joking. Of course, Sovele couldn't stand the thought of Basren going to anyone else, and it was a point of contention between him and his wife. If she thought she could get away with it, she would send him out of the kingdom.

    “Your blood isn't right for it, regardless. Your father saw to that,” Sovele bit, knowing that was a prime reason not to – regardless of what he wanted to do. Basren, for as lovely as he was, was not fit for a King. Sovele swatted Basren's hand away from him, giving him a shove back against the table, his movements mirroring his irritation and sudden impatience. Basren was balanced over his lap and against the dinner table, Sovele guiding himself into his charge with purpose. It was always more about his own needs than Basren's, but the young man knew better than complain. Mostly, he knew to remain enthusiastic, and to gain what he could from the encounter.

    “You will always serve me, Basren. In one way or another, your life has always been mine since they day that I saved you. It doesn't matter what path I set you on.” His words embodied the possessiveness he felt over Basren, often contradicting himself. His hips certainly betrayed his initial words about teaching Basren to be good for anyone but him, and those thoughts slipped away as he enjoyed the sort of thing his wife could never give him. When his spark of annoyance was forgotten, he pulled Basren back to him, against his chest where he sought out his mouth, feeling him open to his prodding tongue. His hands were careful not to grasp anywhere too hard that would be visible, but it was not out of care.

    When he tired of the thrusting, he had Basren ride him until he was finished. He didn't care if Basren found release, just so long as he took care not to make a mess. He enjoyed touching Basren, his hands often wandering, but they had no real goal other than to satisfy his own hunger if even Basren did find them enjoyable at times. If frustration set in, those hands could just as soon bring pain to areas that went unseen in day to day life, but luckily Sovele's good mood, though teetered precariously at one point, mostly remained throughout.

    Thoughts would come to him during his release of putting Basren to more proper use, even if they were not meant for reality. Basren wasn't capable yet, not without more guidance, something Sovele was too tempted to teach him. Afterwords, they could return to their meal after cleaning themselves up of any incriminating evidence.

    “Someone will be arriving in the next few days. From the Langlais household. Their son has been heavy in his studies for many years, and so I haven't seen him in years. He's due to inherit as their only son, and I'd like to know him better before allowing such a thing to happen. You might tell me what you think of him. I hear he grows fanciful things just as you do.” From what little Sovele could remember of the Langlais son, he was a pudge of a boy, with mottled skin and light brown hair. The sort of companionship that was safe for Basren to keep, given that he posed no threat in Sovele's opinion. Little did he know just how much the Langlais boy had changed.

    “He would be suited to your company more so than someone like Matthias.” It was not uncommon that Sovele made hints as to who Basren should spend his time with. Hints that could turn dangerous if not properly heeded.
     
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  8. Arrow

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    A dangerous notion. There was more than warning in Sovele's glare, and Basren ducked under it as his mind raced to plans of recovery. Otherwise, it might hurt. He should have known better than to tease, though, especially about that. It was a reminder of too many other things.

    Like Basren's father.

    It was too late, then, to apologize. Basren's quelled the drop of ice to his stomach and resolved just to be good. Sovele shoved him back, shoved in, and Basren was careful not to look too pained, to tell himself that he enjoyed it. He didn't know how long Sovele's mood would last, now that he'd riled him. He knew better than to even touch himself, lest Sovele thought he was being selfish again.

    You will always serve me, Basren.

    "Yes, sir," Basren said on a breath. "However you please."

    That might have been wheedling, too, but it soothed with reassurance. Basren's will was nothing to Sovele's. He would go where his king told him to, give him anything he asked for.

    Basren sighed as Sovele pulled him to his chest, his rhythm softening as he sought Basren's mouth. Basren went pliant, a little eager, to cement his earlier conviction of it all--another reassurance. When Sovele tired, Basren took over, ignoring his own throbbing cock completely. When Sovele had come, Basren didn't dare wind his arms around his neck as he might have, but let Sovele clutch him as he pleased.

    He was still panting himself by the time Sovele was lucid again. He leaned back against the table, in a display that might have been begging, but he knew it was only a hope for Sovele to touch him for his own release. It was just a parting image, not a temptation.

    When Sovele gave the least indication that he was done, Basren slipped off him, careful not to be clumsy even if his thighs burned. No one would likely walk in on them, but there was always the threat. If Sovele's wife saw the servants had retreated for example...

    Basren snagged a napkin and cleaned Sovele up first, and only then put the cloth to himself. He didn't mind the slick feeling between his thighs, the echo of Sovele still inside him. When dinner was over, he might have another bath, and please himself, where any evidence could flow down the drain where even Sovele couldn't be told.

    Sovele starting speaking, and Basren looked up from sliding his pants on and adjusting himself and tried hard not to look guilty at being caught in his thoughts.

    He caught up quickly, though, unwilling to let Sovele think he was slow or not paying attention.

    The Langlais boy. Basren had heard of the family, of course, but only passing things about the boy. He did know that anyone who was an heir would be high enough content to tempt the king, though. And here was Sovele asking him to spy.

    Basren scolded himself. Sovele could choose who he liked, and, anyway, he only seemed peripherally interested, and he had just been telling Sovele he would do anything for him without complaint.

    Even if it meant finding Sovele a replacement of himself. One who liked plants the way he did, even.

    "I'll send him an invitation first thing in the morning," Basren said.

    He finished dressing and helped Sovele with his own clothes, then rearranged their plates again. Valet, servant, whore, courtesan. Basren played each part. When they finished eating, he played escort, at least until there was a danger of Sovele's wife or children seeing.

    Retreating back to his own room, he composed an elegant note of invitation, then laid it out for a servant to deliver. He ran a bath, but in the end had no heart for it for any small act of defiance, watched just soap and water run away from his feet down the drain.





    He invited the Langlais boy to his garden. A first, secret peek that only his servants and workers had seen so far, but since Langlais had apparently an interest, Basren feigned the need of a second opinion even as he welcomed him as a court ambassador.

    The statue of his father had been moved in to its spot, looking bright against the dark, fertile soil. Basren had a small folding table set up on the gravel in front of the plot, and various plants in pots acting as representative of whole swathes of their kind sat nearby.

    Basren didn't look at the statue much. He had a long curl of paper and a pencil on the desk, plotting out this space, moving the pots as needed for visualization, and sketching out corrections. His sleeves were rolled up, dirt already smeared halfway up his forearms. He nearly didn't hear someone crunching up the gravel.

    "Oh, just a moment," Basren said. He scrambled for a cloth to wipe down his arms, and then for his coat. He didn't want to appear indecent if Sovele had his own spies out. "Thank you for meeting me. Am I the first to welcome you to court?"
     
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  9. Sayd

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    The Langlais boy was not really a boy any longer. Twenty five was the age he was supposed to present actually, but in reality he was a handful of years older than that. Luckily for him he could still pass as younger, and overall he fit the part of the Langlais boy that had passed so many years ago, taken by fever in his own home. Pieces had been carefully set for a long while, and now there was finally opportunity to gather information they needed so desperately.

    He was aware of some of the things he would be facing, and had every intention of avoiding those things for all that he could. Reminders were not things he cared to unearth, and it was unfortunate for him that fate had other plans entirely. The letter came to him quickly after his arrival, making it clear he would have no peace, especially not when he discovered who the letter was from. A cruel joke, really, because he wanted nothing to do with the boy if he could help it. As it were, avoiding him would seem like a slight, and being raised by that tyrant, there was no way to predict what his temperament was. The rumors went that Sovele had sculpted him into what suited him. Lost to them, and their cause, but he'd never owed it to Maes to look after a child that was not his own.

    It still dredged up the past, regardless, and when Basren turned to his attention to him after slipping on his coat, he was a painful reminder, a mix of both his beautiful father, and his mother. He was holding a potted plant blooming with burgundy flowers that cascaded over the ceramic and spiraled downward. They would grow, and reach out across stone if given the chance. A pretty plant, not that he had much care for it, but he'd been told of the boy's tastes, and it was meant to be a gift. With the right sort of manipulation, the petals could both be lifesaving and toxic. He was not sure which would be more useful after infiltrating the capital city, and royal home.

    “Ah, yes,” he answered, “I've only just arrived. Alarastian Langlais, here to appear after some absence. I've never been known for my good health,” he explained, and that was true. The Langlais boy, and their family in general had been frail, like much of the royal family. “Please, just Alaras though.” He thought such a long name was ridiculous, especially for such an unimportant boy as far as he was concerned, but the high blooded sorts liked to feel important in any way they could. It wasn't fault of the Langlais family. They were good sorts, and had served alongside him for the cause for a long time, showing sympathy over Maes' untimely death.

    Alaras was dressed in a rich navy jacket with golden buttons, matching slacks, and brown leather boots tied all the way up to his knees. It made him claustrophobic, because where he was from, no one would wear so many layers. He was long legged and tall, no longer the fat boy he was depicting, but that could have been explained as the passing of youth. He'd already had to put on some weight for his role, so that he didn't look like a man just managing but his frame only packed on so much. His chocolate brown hair had been groomed, and cut to fashion, as well as facial hair shaved entirely.

    He could tell he'd been digging in the dirt, despite his desire to appear more presentable. The garden wasn't like anything he'd seen before, and his eyes wondered, recalling what species he knew of, and those that he wasn't so familiar with. Eventually his eyes would settle upon the statue, and though he'd been able to hold it together after seeing Basren, the picture of Maes writhing in agony disturbed him enough that he couldn't hide his reaction.

    He'd startled, wide eyed, unbelieving, meaning to turn, and possibly make a hasty retreat feigning that he didn't feel so well after his travels. A step back first, and his foot caught one of the pots Basren had been using, and he ended up dropping the plant he was holding. It shattered on the gravel, and it took all he had in him to compose himself when he wanted to vomit. If he did, at least he wouldn't have to fake being unwell. Whomever had done the statue surely had to know Maes, to get the scar just beneath his eye. Alaras knew the story behind that scar, because he'd been there.

    “I..” Alaras took a deep breath, bent to pick the broken ceramic away from the roots of the plant, perhaps to salvage it. “I'm sorry. It startled me is all. The statue is very lifelike.” He didn't look at Basren when speaking, letting his hair fall into his face, because surely his fury at the mockery couldn't have gone entirely unseen. “This was meant as a gift for you, but this was not how I imagined presenting it.”
     
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  10. Arrow

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    Basren carefully composed his face.

    From what he'd heard of Alarastian Langlais, he had been a chubby boy of ill health who wasn't going to grow up to be any great beauty. Yet the contradiction of that was standing right here, introducing himself. High content, good looks, with an easy confidence about him... He would do well in court. He'd probably get more offers for his hand during his debut than Basren ever dared dream to hope for in his lifetime.

    "Alaras," he said. "Then please, just call me Basren."

    His gaze strayed to the pot, and while his mind was instantly categorizing it, he thought, Oh, and thoughtful too, with not a little dismay.

    At least until Alaras had seen the statue and startled, tripping over himself in the process, and breaking both his own pot and upending the one he'd stumbled over. Basren goggled at him for a full second before rushing over to him, helping him to stand up with a hand to his arm. Suddenly Alaras looked very pale, shaken.

    "Are you all right?" Basren said.

    But Alaras was already picking up the ceramic, released from Basren's gentle hold, and anger was leaking into his movements somewhere, even if he was trying to hide it in his voice. Basren looked at the statue as it was mentioned, thought about Alaras admitting to being ill most of the time, and wondered.

    Basren said hesitantly, slowly, "Yes, it is. Quite lifelike." He couldn't say anymore about it, but his own gaze didn't linger on it either. He untucked his handkerchief from his pocket and gave it a small shake to unfold it, then laid it in his palm, collecting the ceramic from Alaras' bare hands before he cut himself.

    This was meant as a gift for you, but this was not how I imagined presenting it.

    "For... me?" he said. "Oh." He gave Alaras a leading look, with a half smile. The sharing of a joke. "Oh, surely not. But I'll have it repotted. Sovele is not much of one for plants, though... but he'll appreciate the thought. This is just my own diversion. He lets me work the grounds to keep me occupied, I think." His smile went a little wider as he spoke, but then dropped again. "You look a little pale. Please, come sit down."

    He set the ceramic pieces on the table, and gingerly put the plant there, too. The paper would survive a little dampness. A servant would be by to take care of it all, was probably already watching since the crash had been heard.

    He guided Alaras away, to a part of the garden had already been mostly completed, and there was a comfortable bench in the shade of a tree. Its branches trailed down almost to the ground, but they had been trimmed in a neat arc above the bench to create an elegant bower. The statue was completely out of view.

    Once Alaras had been settled, Basren flagged down a servant, who brought them tea within a minute or two of Basren's request for it. Basren pressed a cup into Alaras' hands, noting the man's cold fingertips as the fine china passed hands.

    "It's well sugared. I'm sorry for giving you such a fright," he said.

    Then he faltered for a moment how to go on. Which was fine, since the silence allowed Alaras space enough to take his tea and recover a bit. Basren had done what he could to help him regain equilibrium. He just didn't know Alaras well enough to completely soothe him over, he supposed. Certainly not by talking about said statue. That would get Basren in trouble, anyway, if he tried to be sympathetic. It was, in all actuality, a frightful piece of stone, and the resemblance to Basren was... uncanny. He didn't need any of that repeated to find its way back to Sovele, though.

    "Are you feeling better? Sovele said you enjoyed greenery like I do. I hadn't meant to catch you like this. I was hoping it would be enjoyable. Perhaps a tour of the rest and some fresh air will set you back to rights? We'll... skip the statue, if you like."
     
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  11. Sayd

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    Alaras gently ducked away from the touch, his senses already wanting to betray him, making it seem like a ghost from the past was there beside him, helping him to after a bout of clumsiness. He was being punished, he was certain. Maes was coming to haunt him, for standing by and doing nothing when his child was in the hands of the very man who had betrayed him. The situation could not have been a coincidence, and he doubted this was the worst of it he was to face. After all, he hadn't even met Sovele yet.

    He went along with Basren, still floundering and trying to find another other topic of conversation besides the statue. Something to distract him from the boy who he'd had no intention of ever meeting. Alaras didn't think that there would be anything recognizable left after Sovele had gotten hold of the boy. It was well known Sovele spoiled the unofficial child needlessly, and that may well be true, but Basren wasn't what he'd pictured.

    He known straight away who'd commissioned the piece.

    “It wasn't you.”

    He was a coward, even now thinking of anything in his power he could do to not have to face any of this, despite all their efforts in making it possible. He took the tea cup without looking to Basren, slightly hunched, looking quite lost, but allowing him the moment of misery because Basren already thought he was unwell. He sipped the tea, focusing on it's unfamiliar, and sweet flavor. Far from the bitter root they steeped to mask the flavor of putrid water.

    “Yes, thank you.” He wasn't feeling better, not really, but he'd been able to get a handle on himself, at the very least. “That would do me some good, I think.” He could distract himself by finding all the things in the garden he might be able to tamper with enough to kill the immortal bastard himself. It would be fitting, even if it was only something to fantasize about. Alaras set the delicate little cup down carefully, worried he would crack it if he had had to carry it around much longer. He'd taken a few sips, but the rest remained. They could add finicky to the Langlais boys list of character traits.

    “The garden I kept at my parents estate was always a mess for me to come home to, between my studies. This looks well tended and cared for,” Alaras commented, taking to the gravel path, leading away from the direction they had come. More than well tended, really. It was paradise to those from outside the city walls, so decadent that one could hardly stomach it.

    “Admittedly, I'm not familiar with some of the things I see grown here,” he spoke, and that was something he was genuinely curious about. What was the purpose to some of these? For the elite, did there need to be? In the pocket of his jacket, he removed a little notepad, worn, with a handful of illustrations and notes. His newest one, kept free of anything incriminating. All the information he could gather had the possibility of being twisted, and used to their benefit. He would be thorough, if anything.

    He had to wonder why Basren was the one meeting him, and why someone else hadn't been sent. That raised an alarming amount of questions besides the simple answer of a shared fascination.

    “I am surprised you are the first to welcome me to court,” Alaras spoke, his words soft. From what information he did know, Sovele kept a tight leash on Basren, which made him worry all the more because this meeting was a contradiction to what he knew.
     
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  12. Arrow

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    Alaras wasn't soothed. Basren gave one glance down to the discarded cup before lifting himself from the bench. He'd hoped Alaras wouldn't pick up until he did feel better, but he'd foisted himself up and off in the opposite direction of the statue before Basren could even make an attempt at leading the way.

    This looks well-tended and cared for.

    Basren had to quicken his steps to make up for his moment of quiet consternation. "Well, it is," he said, in that same hesitant, slow tone he'd taken before. He didn't want to offend Alaras, but then... Alaras was already so... different. Basren felt himself flailing for how to treat him, since there didn't seem to be any guide to follow. Usually, people were wheedling with him, or full of praise (false praise, as far as Basren was concerned, because few ever made an offer for him), or even just coolly tolerated him. The only consolation was that Alaras seemed just as off-kilter as he was.

    "You don't have servants help you in your garden?"

    Perhaps that was why the Langlais family hadn't put up much of a fuss about sending their young bachelor to court by himself. Certainly he'd be tempting to anyone here, although not to Basren. Basren wasn't their object. They needed someone rich.

    At any rate, they were both falling back on the one thing they had in common--the garden. Alaras was saying he had never seen some of the plants before, and for a moment, Basren had to tamp down on his pride.

    "Some of them aren't native." He paused to brush his thumb over a dark green leaf, its buds not yet flowered out but tightly furled into an arrowpoint of purple. His smile was cautious. "I'm hoping everyone else will be just as surprised." His gaze flickered down to Alaras' notebook. "I hope you won't mind keeping it all a secret until it's unveiling...?"

    He plucked the leaf, taking it over to Alaras to make a press of it in his book, if he liked. The question he could hear in Alaras' next comment surprised him. He stood for a moment, trying to analyze it, but in the end, Alaras seemed so plain in his confusion, Basren gave up on seeing him as anything but genuinely confused.

    He reminded himself that Alaras had never been to court. He'd always been either too sick or away at his studies.

    "Well, I'm no threat," he said, simply. "I mean, no one can reasonably think you've come to court looking for--for someone like me. I'm simply Sovele's... ambassador." He was hesitant to say more. His own suppositions couldn't be voiced, but they were plain to anyone who'd been in court for five minutes. Except, apparently, to Alaras. He said, gently, "You can't be entirely ignorant of your... qualities? Especially as an heir?"
     
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  13. Sayd

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    “I've tried, with the servants, leaving the most exact directions I can, but I arrive home to more than half of it dead on average. Not everyone has the talent for growing things, like you.” That was true. Alaras did try to keep up a garden at the Langlais household, for appearances, but it was always in a sorry state, being that he was there only when necessity dictated.

    “I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you kept something like this a secret. Most people aren't interested in my notes and doodles. I think it'll be safe,” he admitted, handing the little notebook over for Basren to add the leaf to it. There were other things dried and pressed between slips of paper, the ends folded so they wouldn't slip out.

    Alaras had been so focused on what he was here for that he had hardly given any thought to what court would bring. He'd been briefed, already warned that he was expected to be social. They knew that would be trying for Alaras, and already, he found himself exhausted at the prospect.

    “I.. really hadn't given that any sort of thought.” Alaras stopped for a moment. “It's no longer something high on my list of priorities.” At least, not anymore. “I've been so wrapped up in other things.” He was finding it easier to speak in half truths.

    “I'm surprised someone younger, like you..” Alaras stopped, realizing it definitely wasn't his place to speak of those things. He just remembered what he'd been like at Basren's age. He found his statement odd, regardless. Why would no one think he'd come to court looking for someone like Basren? Not unless Sovele had made it clear no one could, that, or he'd managed to cripple the boy's confidence. Both seemed possible.

    “My qualities? You mean my inheritance.” Alaras reckoned he was about as warm and approachable as a cats claw bush, aptly named. There was no reason to change that part of himself, considered the less suitors he had to entertain, the better in actuality. He was going to be as frigid and boring as possible, but that wouldn't be difficult for Alaras. What would be was going about finding the information he needed, and possibly getting closer to Sovele.

    “I may come to you for advice in navigating court. I'm not sure I'm fully prepared for any of it.” That was definitely truth. Hopefully he'd just come across as awkward, instead of unknowing.

    He stopped, kneeling down beside a little plant with bright purple flowers.

    “Viola odorata. I haven't seen one of these in a while,” he said, and for a moment Alaras smiled. “They used to be a favorite of mine.” He plucked a little seed pod, carefully cracking it open with the light press of fingers. When he uncovered it, little pale pearls were visible. He lifted one carefully out, and placed it on the tip of his tongue before crushing it between front teeth. Cool and sweet, like he remembered, but then it occurred to him maybe these sort of people had no idea. They certainly had no reason to try usual things out of necessity. Alaras was peculiar enough already that he hoped it wouldn't be questioned, and instead he reached his hand back, to offer the open seed pod to Basren.

    “I'm not sure if you've tried them before. The petals, too, are edible.”
     
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  14. Arrow

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    Why don't you hire a gardener, then? But Basren bit back the question, because Alaras was, apparently, just the sort of person who would look unkindly at work done by others. He was no doubt fussy about the way his garden was, and so preferred to do it himself. Basren accepted the compliment with a mix of confusion and graciousness, but otherwise shrugged it off. He had his own troupe of servants and gardeners, though at some points he did do the work himself. It was a good way to while the time, and to feel like he was contributing more than a snobbish attitude about placement.

    He carefully folded the leaf into the book, resisted flipping through the pages for himself. "Not a secret, perhaps... I just want the unveiling to be an event. It's silly, I suppose."

    He handed the book back, let Alaras tuck it into his jacket again.

    I.. really hadn't given that any sort of thought.

    Basren's brows drew slightly down, his mouth just a little tight. Hadn't he? As the heir, wasn't it his constant worry? And then: I'm surprised someone younger, like you.. Basren waited for him to finish, and it was a little disturbing that someone so forthright was leaving such an open statement hanging like that. His mind jumped to several possible endings, but Alaras didn't seem keen to go on.

    "Your inheritance...? No..." He trailed after Alaras, though it was with more reluctance than before. Alaras was so--blithe? unconcerned?--about it all. Perhaps that was what the world was like, when one had everything. Everything except a match, and more power, he supposed. But Alaras didn't seem particularly interested in those. Yet Basren couldn't pin him down as seeming comfortable, either.

    Alaras wasn't sure he was fully prepared for court. Looking at him now, hearing him, Basren agreed.

    "I suspect you won't have much trouble," Basren said, off-hand but still awkward himself. "You're high content, good-looking, and you have a pedigree..."

    He stopped as Alaras knelt, plucked out a seed pod, and ate one of the fruits out of it. Basren stared at him. He took the pod, though, and mimicked what Alaras had done. The flavor was surprising, fresh. He looked down at the rest of the seeds with a small frown. He hadn't ever tried them. Most of the things here were ornamental, not meant to be eaten, though he'd known some of them were edible. But that was just a little eccentricity. Not unlike Alaras actually eating one of the seeds.

    Basren said, solemnly, with his half-puzzled look still on his face, "You're very... different. Aren't you."

    He put the seed pod in his pocket, to save for actual sprouting, for the king's sake.

    "I wouldn't be surprised if you got offers in your debut. You shouldn't accept any right away. I think..." He bit his lip momentarily. "You should see what Sovele thinks of you." He hid a grimace. What kind of report was he going to take back to Sovele about this man? Was Sovele expecting a good or a bad report? He had no hints about that. If he said the wrong thing, and Sovele's eye had already been taken by Alaras... He would have to err on the side of caution and build Alaras up a little.

    Except Sovele would likely be furious if Alaras got it in his head that he might be chosen to carry on his line and then Sovele didn't actually want him. But Alaras seemed so dense, Basren wasn't sure he could avoid spelling it out.

    "Sovele might choose you as a mate, you know, if you can impress him. He needs high content mates, so when he doubles back on his line, they won't be too weak. If you'd like, I could make your interest known...?"
     
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  15. Sayd

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    “As are you, from what I can tell,” Alaras spoke, meaning no offense, much like he doubted Basren meant anything by his comment.

    “It's not that I haven't entertained the prospect, of being matched with someone. It's that it has come and passed. It didn't work out.” He was older now, and his priorities were different. He hoped that answered some of why he was the way he was. He couldn't say how much of all that involved his father, but it was enough that maybe he would understand.

    “I don't think you have to worry about me accepting any offers straight away.”

    He was busy thumbing through some of the other plants carefully when Basren hesitated and then spoke about seeing what Sovele thought of him. His expression remained carefully blank, too rational to not at least mull that over. As vile as the prospect sounded, it wasn't a half bad idea. It could bring him closer to the King, though he didn't want to appear overly eager at the idea. He was sure he wasn't a good enough actor.

    “I.. don't know if I want to be so direct. With the King, that is.”

    Alaras stood up, and brushed off his hands, swallowing what little remained of his pride.

    “It would be something to know that I'd be adding to his line, though I'm not sure if my bloodlines are right for a King. I wasn't aware he was looking.. outside of very specific ones.” Of course, it didn't seem to be working out for Sovele to be breeding back so closely, not if the health of his real children were taken into account. Alaras took pleasure in that, but it seemed he was looking to extend out, in different directions. That was information that he couldn't have been sure of, but Basren had as good as confirmed it.

    “Maybe you could make my interest known.. subtly.”
     
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  16. Arrow

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    Different. Basren knew he was, that he operated somewhat outside of the social standings and circles that everyone else enjoyed. It didn't mean he liked it. Not the way Alaras did, anyway, judging by how flippant he was about everything, like it didn't matter. But it hadn't been said to be mean. Perhaps it had been said even to be kind.

    Then, a reason. So Alaras had once been like all the rest, had a match, but, for whatever reason, it hadn't worked. The weight of history was in the words, but Alaras breezed by them, either unconcerned or unwilling to go into them.

    So Basren just said, "Oh. I'm sorry."

    He considered Alaras again. Not someone ignorant, perhaps, just someone tired. Basren thought about if someone finally made him an offer, and then it was snatched away... Of course he might be bitter--or even unwilling--to make another foray out. It would all turn into a matter of formality, but the edge of desperation would wear under that slope of disappointment.

    He couldn't decide if it was the wrong thing to do, then, to mention Sovele, but he had done. At least Alaras' nonchalance about it all meant it wouldn't be too disappointing? The king was a high reach for anyone, anyway. This was something Alaras already knew, though, judging from his own bloodline comment. Basren felt a little better about it.

    Maybe you could make my interest known.. subtly.

    "I can. I can frame it as... a recommendation. My impression. He wants to know what you're like already." He gave Alaras an encouraging smile. "I'll tell him what I think of you. Good things."

    He chanced moving a little closer to Alaras, even offering his arm with a very, very slight extension of his elbow. So far, Alaras had seemed wary of being too close to him. If he was going to be chosen by Sovele, though, they might see more of each other.

    It would be nice, he thought suddenly, to have someone in the household who he could talk with, who didn't care about his status, and wasn't so jealous over Sovele. Who maybe he could even talk to about Sovele. They could warn of moods, trade secrets... A friend.

    When Alaras hesitantly took his arm, Basren gave him the first full smile since they'd met.





    The queen had withdrawn from Sovele's company an hour ago, but Basren still waited until he'd been summoned to make his way to Sovele's private rooms. His day with Alaras had puffed up warm daydreams in him, of days that weren't quite so cold and lonely, until he could find his way into his own duties extending someone's line, if anyone ever wanted him. But they would be days he could look back on happily, and he allowed them the cautious hope of actually being feasible.

    Sovele's valet dismissed himself as soon as Basren closed the door soundlessly behind himself. Sovele was dressed down for the night, but he still loomed at his stack of reports. The bed was barely rumpled. The queen had likely made an attempt, but it didn't look successful. Basren padded in and started to straighten up papers, letting Sovele catch sight of him.

    "We spent the whole afternoon together," Basren said. He tidied another stack, then circled around to Sovele's back. His hands rested lightly on Sovele's shoulders until he knew the touch was allowed, then he started kneading.

    "He's not at all what I thought he would be, Alaras. Alarastian. The Langlais boy. I--I think you would like him. He's very easy-going, for the most part. A little particular in some ways. But he's grown up--very fine. He did have a small spell when we first met, but he seemed hale enough the rest of the time. I really do think you'd like him, Sovele. He would do credit to your line."
     
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  17. Sayd

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    The boy was sweet, and Alaras felt guilty. He didn't think he was being dis-genuine, or trying to mislead him. He didn't look the sort, despite his upbringing. He couldn't be entirely certain, but he still believed Basren when he said he would pass on good things. He let on that he'd been asked to relay what he thought regardless, and he hoped that was simply standard, not that they had some sort of inkling that something was off.

    Naive enough that he would pave the way and help him get closer to Sovele. Orders were not to try to kill him, of course. It would be stupid to make an attempt after all the planning. He was here to gather information that could be used against him instead. There really was not a much better way than if the man showed an interest in him as well. It would mean they would be seeing more of one another, company he would have to learn to tolerate for the sake of others.

    Alaras set his weight back on his heel when Basren stepped closer to him, but stopped himself from taking a full step away. No need to insult the boy when he'd just agreed aid him, and if he could not even stand Basren, how was he supposed to tolerate closer proximity with the man he hated most in the world? He took the extended elbow, a loose hold, and allowed Basren to show him the rest of his garden. His smile was met with a weak one in return. The boy really did look like his father..





    One thing that was sure to put Sovele off was his wife. He'd been up, working, hoping that she'd leave after but she'd made her intentions known. He wouldn't mind another child by her, after all the bloodline was pure, but more attempts failed than anything. She left him frustrated (not in a good way), and she was just as scathing about him not being able to perform his duties. He backhanded her for that one, and sent her on her way. It was just the same, with her providing him frail children.

    Sovele noted Basren had come in, and his expression gave no indication whether he was pleased by this or not. He approached, and touched tentatively before starting to work the tension from his shoulders,

    “Credit to my line, hm? I think I'd rather call my wife back in here.” His words were a sarcastic growl. Basren was well aware of how their coupling usually went, and he expressed no interest in the Langlais boy, imagining what he might look like now.

    “A small spell, you say?” Sovele questioned, but only mildly curious.

    “I do not think I would like him,” he spoke, pulling Basren around, and pressing him to sit on his desk. “Not the way that I like you.” Sovele was feeling cruel, and he usually said something pleasant like that before it started.

    “Maybe he'd settle for you. Low content royalty, to make up for his own.. lackings,” Sovele spoke, smiling, finding the thought amusing. He would never send Basren to someone he was threatened by in any sort of way, but the Langlais boy had so much to make up for, he didn't think he'd be bothered. It had been a joke, despite his wife's constant pressing to pair Basren off.

    “I can only imagine that fat, wheezing man trying to put a child in you.” Sovele snorted a laugh. The thought didn't bother him, just so long as Basren didn't enjoy it the same way he enjoyed things with him. “And then I could get that bitch off my back about it.”
     
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  18. Arrow

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    Not the way that I like you.

    Basren's chest felt tight, a flush spreading over him. Sovele was rarely so vocal about his affection toward him. It must have been a bad night, what with the queen leaving and the knots he could feel had formed in Sovele's shoulders. He was momentarily quiet, basking in that warmth, until Sovele chose to pull him around on the desk. He shimmied up on it, his fingertips still trailing on the fabric of Sovele's shirt, seeking what contact was allowed.

    A small spell. "Yes, when he first arrived. He--" Best not mention that the statue was repulsive. "Perhaps the journey down stole his breath. But he recovered quickly enough."

    Needling remarks followed. Maybe Alaras would settle for him. Sovele was smiling at him--teasing, it had to be. Basren gave him a mock pout, but couldn't quite keep his own sardonic smile in check in the face of Sovele's.

    "I'm sure he has his sights higher than someone like me," Basren said. He gave Sovele a long, hinting look. "It was difficult to get him to admit that much, Sovele. He said he had a match once before, and it didn't work out--" He bit his lip at Sovele's snort. "--and I think it burned him. No, please, I'm serious. He is worth a look."

    I can only imagine that fat, wheezing man trying to put a child in you.

    Basren flushed, deeper than before. Unbidden, he saw Alaras above him, the thin line of him, certainly out of breath...

    "Oh, go on," Basren said. "It isn't a crush. Just because he likes what I do..." He stopped, flushing again as he considered.

    Was this not for Sovele at all? Had he misunderstood the entire time? Perhaps that was why Sovele had sent him out at all in the first place to meet Alaras. And if Alaras wasn't planning on accepting any offers, then maybe he was planning to make some?

    "It's not a crush," Basren insisted. "How could he compare to you?" He paused. "What would you do, if I had a child with him?" He'd never actually asked, but now that it was a possibility, he had to know, even if it risked Sovele's jealousy. He never thought Sovele would be happy to imagine him with someone else. "Wouldn't that leave you alone?"
     
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  19. Sayd

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    Sovele toyed with Basren's jacket, raising a brow and listening to him as he went on. He was feeling bold that day, apparently, because he certainly wasn't watching his words, even if he still tried to sound appeasing in between.

    “Do you really want to know, Basren?” Sovele questioned, leaning closer to kiss him on his forehead. He considered biting him on the ear next, drawing blood, but that would be entirely too visible. Instead, he came close to whisper instead, his other hand pressing a thumb into his hip until he heard him squeak.

    “Alone? Are you under the impression that I depend on you so much? A whore and a healthy child would replace you. It's convenient that you can be both to me.” Sovele was in a mood, and tonight Basren was not helping in his usual, cooling way. Instead, he was being irritating with his questions. “And do you think that just because I gave you to someone else that I still wouldn't be able to have you? I am a King. I can have whatever I want.”

    That was a thought though. Setting Basren up with someone for appearances, mostly. Someone undesirable, of course, and someone that wouldn't actually get his favorite with child. That would be too far, of course.

    “If someone managed to impregnate you I'd slice you open and cut it out,” he answered with a smile, whether Basren wanted to hear it anymore or not. His finger mimicked the motion from his lower abdomen, tracking upwards. “It's not so easy for boys though. It would require some understanding of your body, and certain magic in order to make it happen.” It was both why it was safe for Sovele and him, and why he was careful what he taught and allowed him to be taught. Other thoughts were leaking into Sovele's mind, of other possibilities. If he were to pair him off, he could set him with child and no one would have to know it was really his own. For all that he'd gone on, breeding Basren openly would make him sound like a hypocrite, and do absolutely nothing for his line.

    “As for me, there will be others that will require less effort, I'm sure. I only need one person in my life my cock flat out protests,” he spoke with another snort. He paused again, considering.

    “What did he think of you? The Langlais boy.”
     
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  20. Arrow

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    Lips brushed his forehead, and Basren bent his head to receive that little kiss, feeling wide open. Did he want to know? He fell silent, suspended in that moment with only his breath and the short thrum of his rising pulse, until Sovele pressed a bruise into his hip.

    A whore and a healthy child would replace you.

    The warm feeling dissolved into cool acid, splashing into the hollow of his scooped out gut. He was convenient, that was all. There was no warmth, no attachment. He served a purpose, as a substitute, and even past that, he served. If Sovele wanted him, he would have him. Of course it wouldn't matter if Basren had his own family by then. As Sovele had reminded him, he would always serve.

    His grip had gone loose at Sovele's shoulders, his eyes staring at his knees, the rise and fall of Sovele's chest just beyond them, still leaned close. If someone managed to impregnate you... Basren flinched at the contact of his finger, and his stomach clenched painfully, as though it had really been some blade.

    He didn't dare lift his gaze to Sovele just yet, cracked open to the hurt he'd caused. He'd asked. And besides, he'd always known he was temporary, hadn't he? Not just low content and his father's bastard, but Sovele lived so long. Of course Basren would one day not be there. No one needed his low blood anyway. It wasn't as though he had enough magic to even make a bastard himself, which was, he thought miserably, all for the best.

    He didn't bother pushing any more of Alaras' traits. Sovele wasn't going to hear it, and he didn't want to rile him further. He'd done enough damage with his mouth already.

    What did he think of you? The Langlais boy.

    Basren took a breath and turned his face up level with Sovele's. A blink and he was composed, though his speech faltered just a fraction before he went on.

    "We--" What did Sovele want him to say? Sovele's question was just musing, but Basren was wary now. "We seemed to get on. He was shy of me at first. He thought I was... different, he said. But he let me show him around the garden on my arm, at the end." He hesitated. "Should I... avoid him from now on?"
     
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