Titos' Adventures: Choices


Titos' Adventures: Choices 19

By Paladin

Rath returned to the castle for the first time in one month. His errands had taken considerably longer than planned, for the states of his lands were less than desirable. He had half a notion to hunt down some of the troublesome bandits himself. Sighing, he entered his room, pleased to see a candle lit this night. His grey eyes scanned the room. The dragon-rider frowned when he did not catch sight of his elf. Unloading his gear, he walked down the hall in search of a servant of all things. He stopped a cleaning maiden near the large library. "I am looking for the elf. Have you seen him."

Quickly, she nodded. "Yes, he spends much of his time in the sitting room."

He headed in that direction, wondering what Ridik could possibly find of interest there. It was an old room, with little else but tapestries and paintings. The furniture was too worn for company and the cobwebs needed to be taken care of. The large blonde stopped dead in his tracks when he saw his slave up ahead. The elf faced the wall and was leaning against a large tapestry in a sitting position. His long, black hair, braided once again, went to the floor. Ridik's pale cheek pressed against the tapestry he had gripped in his hands. Moving in closer, Rath could see he was asleep. Something about this display caused the human warrior to contemplate the tapestry. At once, he understood. It was a picture of a green glade, in the brink of springtime, with blossoming trees and shining flowers. He kneeled down and noted tear streaks both on the elf and the tapestry.

Rath sighed. He was either getting soft, or starting to like his little pain in the ass. He touched the elf's shoulder lightly. "Ridik," he murmured.

Ridik's, now dull, hazel eyes popped open and he stood quickly. Straitening his tunic. "Master. I was not aware that you had returned."

Rath shrugged. "You are a slave. I do not think anyone would think twice of telling you anything."

The elf stiffened. He stood there unsure what to do, his bottom lip trembling so lightly that Rath had not noticed it before. The dull, hazel eyes regarded him steadily

"Have you been hurt?" He saw the jaws clench and instantly narrow his eyes.

"You mean other than by you?"

"Do not try my patience."

"No."

"We are going on a trip. Leaving tonight. Go to the front entrance and wait for me there."

"Where..."

Rath eyed him coolly and departed without another word.

They traveled several days with few stops. Even so, Ridik's appearance improve and his eyes regained color. The fresh hair and wilderness atmosphere proved to be at least a temporary cure. They pulled up to the house mid-evening. "Out."

The elf stepped out slowly, his eyes taking in the old castle before him. Rath left two bags and addressed his slave. Rath handed him a letter. "Give this to the lord of this household. I'll be back soon. Do not even contemplate the idea of escape." With that he left him....

***

Ridik stood there for several minutes. Unsure of what to do. He liked being able to breathe in the fresh air, to actually see and feel the trees right here in front of him. Escape could be possible, but the consequences were too much. Picking up the bags with one hand and letter in the other, he tapped on the door lightly. This place did not have the appearance of a dark lord.

All hopes of a possible relief dissipated as the large, dark haired warrior opened the door, his dark eyes narrowing instantly.

"Titos..." the elf breathed nervously.
***

Ridik leaned against the tree and resting his chin on his knees and watching the creek flow by. The slight signs of springs began to sprout from the moistened ground. The leaves began to show signs of life and a few birds had returned. He sighed. Staying with Titos was better than being cooped up in that hellish castle. Still, he was not welcomed here. It was stated on the warrior's very presence when he entered a room. Luckily, in the couple of days he had spent sleeping in the barn, he hadn't seen the others. Suddenly, a branch seemed to jump right above his head. Ridik looked up to see a young man, with brown graced with gold wings, and shiny, dusty pink eyes gazing down at him. This creature had green hair and wore light clothes. The elf pondered on what to do. He wasn't sure if he knew this species or not. "Hello. Who are you?" He tried first in the human dialogue common around here.

"Armin." The young eagleman smiled at him. "Like water?"

Ridik returned his gaze to the sweet little creek. "Yes, very much. Do you live here?"

Armin frowned and seemed to consider either the question or the answer. "Room inside."

Ah, so this was one of Titos' guest. Ridik nodded slowly.

Armin then pulled out a pouch and downed a small white berry. His eyes lightened and he held the pouch to Ridik. "Berry?"

The elf's hazel eyes regarded him with surprise. Where did they find berries during this time of year. His stomach grumbled with the idea but he shook his head. "No. Thank you."

Armin, not convinced, dropped to the ground and held his hand out full of the delicious looking morsels. "Good."

Sighing, Ridik reached out to get it. He didn't want to upset this Armin. He retracted his hand and blinked in amazement to see blood trickling down his arm and an arrow in the tree. A small cut bled from his palm.

"That was merely a warning. The next shall not miss." The prince's voice stated lowly.

Ridik turned, his mouth open but was unsure what to say.

"Armin," Ryn continued. "Step away from him sweety. He is not kind."

Armin frowned. "Wants berry."

Ryn nodded slowly. "He can get them later. You should go tell Titos that you found them. He will be pleased."

The dusty-pink eyes lit up with the idea, and the young eagleman took off towards the house.

Ryn returned his attention to Ridik. "You are not welcome here. I suggest you depart before Titos sees you here. Stay away from Armin you monster." The prince hissed, departing and ignoring any explanation Ridik had to offer.

Ridik sat back down, miserably leaning against the tree. So much for the notion of pleasant company. He drifted off into a troublesome sleep, wondering if this place really was any better than the other. The elf awoke to the slight movements of the bushes. He stood up fluidly. "Ryn, I swear I was not going to harm Armin... he just wanted..." His voice trailed off as he saw Titos eyeing him with hateful eyes.

"I told you to stay away from everyone. How dare you even look in Ryn's direction." The human warrior approached him slowly, forcing Ridik to retreat with his back against the tree.

"I just wanted to see the creek.. I did not..."

"I do not care what you want. The next time, you will spend your nights downstairs in the dungeon. I guarantee you that no one will find you there." Titos stomped off, giving him a hateful glare first.

Ridik blinked away the tears. He was wrong, this place was worst. Deciding it was best not to stick around this place, he left. The elf wandered around the forest for a little while till he came across what looked like an animal den. The den looked worn and old and definitely not used. Sighing, he found a comfortable spot to sleep and dozed of.

***

Hal smiled, picking up a few pre-spring flowers for the vase he had dug up just this morning. He couldn't understand how Titos had left the place so carelessly. The furniture, and various items in the house were all very old but beautiful and valuable. In time, he hoped to have the place looking like a real home. It was true that it felt strange living in something as immobile as a house, but in a way, it felt good. Having something as permanent as a house, Titos' house, made him feel that everything else was not going to slip away. Even Ryn had become a welcomed part of his life, and Armin too. So much had changed in less than a year and so much would continue to do so. He pauses just outside of a small den, recognizing the tracks in there to be human. The priest paused, it had taken Ryn's lying, saying that Hal had shown much improvement, just to get Titos to let him go outside alone. He really wanted to make sure someone was not hurt in there, but it could be a trap. If another barn episode happened, he was certain Titos would never let him out of his sight. Weighing the possibilities he stepped inside and was surprised to see Ridik huddled in a corner sleeping. Hal stood there not knowing why the elf was here and what he should do. Looking outside and seeing the sunset, he decided to approach him. His small hand nudged the elf gently. "Ridik."

The elf's hazel eyes opened slowly. Instantly, a look of dismay crossed over Ridik's face. "Hal, you should not be here."

Hal regarded him quietly. "It is getting late and it is still too cold for someone to sleep outside like this... even for an elf."

Ridik sat-up slowly. "I will be fine. You should go home before the darkness settles."

Odd, Hal thought, that Ridik kept his voice soft and even a bit respectful. "Come with me. We have plenty of room in the house."

The elf shook his head, his long, black braid rubbing lightly against the rocky wall. "I am not welcome there as you well know."

Hal sighed. "If you are worried about Titos, don't be. It is our house and if I wish you to stay, it will be fine. I am sure Ryn will understand when given a few minutes to think. Armin likes everyone." The priest smiled slightly.

The elf's hazel eyes studied him. "Why are you being kind to me. I raped your lover."

Hal sighed again. "Yes, but you did not have the same light in your eyes as you do now. Come with me, and tell me what you are doing here."

Ridik stood and accompanied him to the household. Hal found himself somewhat surprised at the thought of the elf being a slave to that man. He had just recently been told that Rath lived and had mixed feelings. Ryn's mother had been kind enough to explain that the dragon bonding had been the driving force behind much of Rath's cruelty, though she warned him that Rath himself was still a dominating man... and not exactly a kind one. Luckily, Titos, Ryn and Armin seemed to be out for the moment and so they were able to get to his room in piece.

Hal set the flowers in the vase and smiled slowly. "I have some pillows that are very much in the style of my homeland. They are very comfortable to sleep on. Are your bags in the stables still?"

Ridik sat on the chair and nodded. "Yes, but there is no need to get them."

Hal shrugged and eyed the sorrowful elf. "Are you sure there is no one looking for you?"

"I doubt anyone even noticed I was gone. The one who delivered me to Rath is still a mystery to me. And if you did not know of my plot, then that is proof enough." Something flickered in the hazel eyes, but Hal could not place it.

"In time I am sure someone..."

"Trust me, I thought... but... nobody cares." The elf looked more than disappointed at the statement as if he had believed otherwise.

Hal sighed. He really wanted to know more, but that could wait for later. "All right I will be right back." The priest stepped through the door and found himself looking up into Titos' angry eyes. Straightening his shoulders, Hal closed his door. "Yes?"

Titos glared at the door. "Who were you talking to?"

"I think you know who I was talking to." Hal kept his voice carefully neutral.

"What the hell do you think you are doing, letting that garbage into my house and your room!?"

"Our house and my room you mean. It still becomes very cold at night here. It is not polite to have a guest of our house sleep in the barn let alone an old animal den."

By now Ryn and Armin had made their way up the stairs and to the spectacle.

"He was not invited and is not our guest and sleeping anywhere is more than he deserves."
Hal flinched at the open venom in his lover's voice. "He is still a living creature. You ought to calm down so our conversation doesn't scare..."

"Calm down! What do you think you have behind that door? It sure as hell is not a warrior. Warrior's do not rape the prince's they pledge their loyalty too. Where do you think we would be, at this very moment, if Ryn's mother hadn't decided to help us out." Hal opened his mouth but was cut off. "I'll tell you where we'd be. We would be fighting not only that damn elven king but that scum lord and his pet rat elf trying to get Ryn back. How much mercy do you think he would have shown Ryn, Hal? Do you think he'd care if he broke Ryn's heart."

"Titos," Ryn commented lowly. "He really did not hurt me all that much..."

"All that much! The son of a bitch had you crying in a bed... and was going to rape you again if we hadn't showed up in time."

"And what about the man you had walked through the door on Ryn's birthday. I hear he was here even before that? Have you any idea what he has done to us and what he is doing..."

Titos shot Ryn a withering look, that caused the elf to glance at his feet. "I sure as hell do. The circumstances are different. And as I said, letting that monster breathe is more than he deserves. Rath would put himself on the line for anyone of you now. So his views are a little mixed up. That damn elf in there is not even a worthy to put his name on the same parchment as Rath, and in time you will see that."

Hal took a deep calming breath. "Just have a look at him. Titos, he is hurting and alone and afraid."

"I have seen him and that is exactly how I wanted it to be. The bastard's father obviously forgot to teach him a few lessons in life and forgot one too many beatings. Did you think I sent him there to be well treated"

Hal gasped lowly, his eyes darting over to Ryn. The prince too seemed surprised. "Titos, calm yourself. You have no idea what you are saying. This black temper of yours has got to have an end. Calm yourself at once, and march right in there and tell him you have no idea what you are talking about. What you have done?"

Titos frowned. "He is a grown male. If he can't take it, he needs to grow up."

Hal opened the door smoothly. "I want you to go in there..." His voice trailed off when he didn't see the elf.

Titos glared in the room. "Well he'll certainly get what's coming to him when Rath sees he has run away. I guess I can be thankful that you won't be seeing him again once he leaves."

"Ridik?" Hal's eyes searched the room. "Ridik, it is okay. He just angry. Titos won't really hurt you. He doesn't think when he is this mad. Ridik?" He walked around the room and looked out the window. Gods what if Titos was right. If Ridik ran, what would Rath do to him? And what , if anything, could he do to help him. Then he saw it. Not believing his eyes, Hal ran out onto the balcony and peered down at the sprawled out figure of Ridik. "Oh gods," he breathed. Disregarding his weakened state, Hal pushed past the trio and ran down the stairs. He fell to his knees next to the figure of Ridik. His eyes widened in horror when a small trail of blood snaked its way towards him. Taking a calm breath, he checked for the elf's pulse and found one. The priest murmured a couple of prayers, healing as much of the damage as he could. With any luck, he could have most of it healed in minutes. He only hoped, that there wasn't anything too serious... like damage to the brain.

"This is horrid. Hal," Ryn called to him softly. "What can I do to help?"

Hal breathed in deeply. "I need warm blankets right away and then hot water." He turned to Armin. "Armin, honey, can you go get his bags in the barn. He needs clothes." The priest pulled at his robes for emphasis. the eagleman nodded and flew off to the barns quickly. Hal's eyes finally stopped at Titos. He wasn't angry with Titos, how could he be when he saw obvious guilt tainted in those dark eyes. The warrior needed to control his temper and it was so hard to tell when he was serious and not.

"I can get him into the house when you are ready." Titos offered quietly.

Hal couldn't tell if he was offering because he meant it or because it was what he needed to hear. "When Ryn gets back with the blankets, I need to check for a broken neck or spine. Those I cannot heal, and we won't be able to move him, yet, if that is the case."

With extreme caution, Hal wrapped the blankets Ryn had showed up with around his patient. His hands glided over the body, checking for cracked bone or anything else out of place. Sighing in relief when there were no signs, he had Titos carry the elf up to his room. After locking the window securely shut, Titos left Hal to his patient. He thought he heard Titos mention going to find Rath. For some reason, the warrior thought that would be a good thing. The priest sent the next several hours into the night bathing Ridik's wounds and cooling his brow. Ryn came in with soup sometime during the middle of the night and kept him company. Then, slowly, the hazel eyes opened. Ridik look around briefly and cried. "You had no right. You had no right."

Hal tried to settle him, but the elf would have none of it. "Ridik, you still have injuries. You need to settle down."

"I do not care. Why?" Ridik groaned lowly.

Ryn stepped into the light kneeled down, touching Ridik's shoulder gently. "We would help you find reasons to live if you let us. Here, try to get some soup down. It will help."

Ridik sat-up slowly. "No."

Hal spoke up. "Why not?"

Ridik sobbed into his hands. "I cannot loose weight. I have to or he will send me to the wastelands."

Ryn's deep purple eyes regard Hal mutely.

Hal sighed. "Ridik, you are not eating well enough. Forget Rath for the moment. You need to get better."

Ridik laughed bitterly, wincing from hidden pain. "You do not know what you say. There is no point in trying to get better. He will kill me for this."

As if on cue, the large blonde suddenly appeared at the door. His grey eyes were impassive yet his sword was sheathed. "Armin has told me what happened. Someone had best tell him things are all right."

Ryn stood up quickly. "You spoke to Armin. Where is Titos?"

Rath regarded him coolly. "How should I know? Armin is too upset to realize who he just spoke to. Leave us."

Hal too stood, his sky-blue eyes glittering with slight anger. "I will not leave him to you."

Rath looked to Ridik, waiting for the hazel eyes to acknowledge him. When they did, the dragon-rider continued. "Tell them things will be fine."

"It will be fine." came the reply.

Ryn laughed lowly, sneering slightly. "I do not think so. We all know your tactics and your "methods" of getting what you want."

The large blonde rubbed his scar momentarily. "Let me rephrase myself. Get out or I will force you out myself."

"Just go." Ridik voice lowly. "Please."

Ryn tugged Hal out the door with him, his purple eyes glaring at Rath. "We shall not be far, and this door will not be strong enough to keep us out if you try something." The door closed slowly.

***

Rath regarded his slave mutely. Not really waiting for an answer but trying to think of a question. "What did you hope to gain from this?"

"I think that is obvious."

The large blonde stilled his anger. "You have no right to destroy yourself for you belong to me. I trusted you to behave here. I granted you the desire to be within the type of surroundings you are used to and this is how you repay me?"

Ridik stiffened. "You sent me to the household of a man who despises me. I do not believe for one moment that this was a reward."

"I sent you to the man that sent you to me. I know very well that he would not have harmed you for he knows you are mine. Now my friend may be in trouble for I picked up his horse rider less on my way back. The fault is yours. You played your cards very well I see. You have them all feeling sorrow for you but it will not work. When you are fit, your punishment will be dealt harshly." Rath turned to go but glanced at the untouched soup. "Have you been eating?"

"Yes."

The human warrior turned on the elf angrily. "Do not lie to me. Because your state of mind is not intact, I will give you another chance."

"No. I have not been eating."

"Why?"

"You wished me to loose weight and... and it was not working." Ridik closed his eyes slowly. "I do not want to go to the wastelands."

So, Rath thought, the elf was starving himself to fulfill his master's wish. In the same day, he tried to kill himself. He shook his head slowly. "Was your mother fully elven."

Ridik sobbed. "Yes."

Rath approached him, pulling the elf to his feet. He looked into the tearful hazel eyes and smiled slowly as he stroked the silky black hair. "I will not send you to the wastelands. I still wish you to loose weight but never intended for you to starve yourself for it. Do not worry about it for now." His hands glided over the elf's body. He paused at the winces and provided his own healing abilities. "Rest. We will talk more later."

The elf looked at him clearly shocked. His hazel eyes questioned if that was it. Was there to be no beating?

Rath left the room, quietly closing the door. He regarded Titos' angry lovers for a moment. "There may be trouble regarding Titos. Ridik is fine for now. Stay here while I investigate." Then he was gone.

Ryn watched him go and then spoke lowly. "Like hell we will."

Hal checked on Ridik once more. Making sure he downed most the soup and then he and Ryn left, leaving strict instructions for Armin to stay and be careful. The priest even left him a perfume to use on Ridik if the elf tried to leave.

***3 weeks later***

Ryn pulled at his chain angrily, trying hard to get a better look at Hal. The priest had been very quiet since their capture. They had found Titos all right, but were now in the clutches of the same wizard the warrior was. It had been stupid of them to go in search of him so blindly. The tracks were obviously too easy to follow. Had he taken a moment to think, the evidence of a trap would have leapt out at him. "Priest..." he whispered lowly. Hal's tear-filled, sky-blue eyes met his deep purple ones. "Are you all right?"

The priest closed his eyes briefly. "No."

Ryn frowned. Come on Hal tell me more. He knew that the wizard had spent hours with the priest. For some reason, the old goat really wanted the baby. He referred to Hal as a treasure. At first, he was going to kill Ryn, saying something along the lines that he was useless to his desires. Then he found out, through magical means, that the baby had three parents and not just Hal and Titos. This delighted the man for he saw it as even rarer. From the old man's ramblings and crazed speeches, Ryn gathered he wanted the breed the three of them for more children once this one was born. Impatient as most humans were, he had tried to speed up the birthing process, which seemed to leave Hal in constant pain. Ryn cursed lowly as his chains sent bolts of energy racing through his body.

"Ryn," Hal cautioned lowly. "Stop fighting the bindings. You are only harming yourself."

Ryn sighed once breath returned to him. "How does this man know you?"

Hal closed his eyes briefly. "He stole a precious gem from my people. I tried to get it back for sometime, then Titos came along and "helped" me. It is how we met."

"Great." The elf replied. "Damn him. I have to get out of these chains..."

"Ryn," Hal pleaded. "Stop hurting yourself."

Suddenly the door opened and a large guard walked in. He was dressed head to two in black armor leaving all to the imagination. The guard went to Hal, tipping his head back so he good look into his eyes. All though the priest was unchained, he remained too weak to do anything. "Looks fine to me." He then loosed Ryn and dragged the elf out of the cell.

Ryn pulled and twisted with all his might. If they didn't want to kill him, fine. He certainly was not going to make it easy for them to do what ever they wanted though. He was shoved into a darkly lit room and the door slammed behind him.

"Ryn." A familiar voice called to him.

The prince sat-up quickly, his elven eyes picking out the objects in the room. Then he saw him. The warrior was heavily chained in the back. Iron wrapped around his wrists, ankles, waist, ankle and even legs. Ryn ran over to him. "Titos!"

Titos tried to touch him, but the short chains prevented even that. "Are you all right."

"Yes." Ryn stepped back so he could regard him closely. "But he is doing awful things to Hal. He can hardly stand up. I do not know what to do."

Titos growled loudly, yanking at the chains. The iron suddenly grew a hot red and the warrior screamed as pain raced through his body.

"Stop. Gods Titos stop." Ryn cried quietly. "That is not helping. Please..." His voice trailed off as the warrior stopped his struggle.

"Sorry Ryn, I just need to try sometimes. I should have waited before displaying that to you. "

"Gods Titos, they have me on the same thing but yours looks much worse."

Titos grinned slowly. "Why did they bring you here? Do you know what they want?"

The elven prince quickly filled him in. Choosing his words carefully, trying to keep the warrior from raging. It didn't work.

"That bastard. He thinks he can breed us like animals. I think not. Doesn't he know who you are?"

"Yes," Ryn commented bitterly. "He does very much so. He says that even my father will not be able to defeat him, nor Rath even. This was planned Titos. The wizard seems to have everything covered. Be careful please. He wants us both alive but only needs one. The fact that alive and well are not he same has been emphasized to me repeatedly..."

Before he could go on, another guard, perhaps the same, entered and dragged him out again. This time, Ryn was unable to put up much of a fight. They struck him hard on the temple and he was out cold.

He awoke to find himself dressed in fine silk robes, in violet color, and no shoes. The elf frowned, he was also in a room with very little but a dresser, complete with a mirror and brush. A sinking feeling entered his heart. This situation was all too familiar to him.

"Well, well young prince. You are looking rather well this afternoon."

Ryn whirled around and glared with cold fury open their captor. "So you are the bastard behind this scheme."

The old man pulled at his grey beard, apparently amused. "Curve your tongue elf. It is not seem for you to speak in such a way."

"Release us and you might be considered." Ryn wished for a sword right now. The man looked frail enough up close.

"Fiery little thing aren't you. Well that can be pleasant for some I suppose. I hear you were granted a visit with your other loved one today. How is he doing? I have not gone to see him in a few days."

"How do you think he is?" Ryn hissed, his eyes scanning for some sort of weapon. "What gives you the right to treat us this way?"

"A very simple law of life that I don't mind teaching you. It is the right of the might. Ask the warrior, he understands it well enough. I had hoped to extract my revenge on the warrior in a more violent, bloody treatment. I lost over twenty years of work when those good-doers burned down my tower and looted it. Tell me, did he laugh at the notion of me joining a losing battle?"

Ryn gave up his search and regard the wizard angrily. "I have no idea what you are talking about. If you are referring to the fact that the Dark Army has lost the war is and is on the run, there is no way Titos would have known the powers would shift."

The wizard waved his hand slowly. "No matter. What's done is done. I was so pleased to see that meddlesome priest with you. But imagine my surprise to find out what he is, An opportunity just waiting to be taken. And to think he has not one but two lovers!" The wizard laughed in a manner Ryn could claim as crazy.

"You have no right to breed him or anyone else for that matter."

The wizard suddenly moved forward in a flash. Ryn found his limbs to be immobile, and could do nothing but stare into the eyes that bore into him like daggers.

"I have the right." he hissed lowly. "And as soon as I can figure out a way to speed up the process without destroying my new treasure... will exercise that right as often as I like. I have

guest now so it is time for you to entertain. And if you so much as hesitate to do so, I will find the most painful means possible to continue my research."

Ryn was released. Without much time for thought, he was pulled into a room and literally thrown onto the floor. He stood up with a glare, taking in his surroundings. The whole place was dimly lit. The floor was made out of white and black, swirled marble. Several candles lit the way to what looked like small, individual booths. The smell of sex filled the air accompanied by moaning and groaning and other such noises. Great, Ryn thought. Well this ought to be easy enough. He walked down the middle of the room, his elven eyes allowing him to look in without seeming to interested.

"Ryn," a voice called to him from the side.

Rath. The prince nearly walked off without regarding him at all but his anger got the better of him. He strolled over to the large blonde and glowered at him. "I should have known you would have turned on Titos in a heart beat."

Rath reached up and snatched him, spinning him into his lap. The human threw his robes aside, his large fingers biting at his now erect nipples. "Listen foolish elf. I am not here to take your lectures." The grey eyes darted around the area, while his other hand dropped to Ryn hardening flesh. The elf groaned as the hand gripped his organ tightly and stroked. With a quick, fluid motion, Ryn found himself leaning over a large table. He was pressed against the smooth wood as Rath positioned himself and plunged into his pleasure craving body. Ryn felt stretched and filled, heat racing through his pulse at an amazing rate. He also felt very pissed.


"Damn you Rath. For this betrayal."

Rath kissed his pointed ear, his teeth nibbling on the lobe below. "I said Listen and I meant it. Just before dawn, there will be a commotion. The whole manor will be in a panic when Greggorous strikes the tower."

Ryn gasped as the warrior thrust foreword, and hard. His head whipping back in ecstasy.

"Are you listening?"

"Stop distracting me." the prince panted softly. "Slow down."

Rath grunted lowly. "Do you want me to look suspicious?" He grabbed the elf's waist and forced himself in further, his large member sheathed fully in Ryn's tight opening. "I'll go to your cell first and then Titos'. Do not tell Hal anything. The wizard is likely to pick up on that. Kiss me."

Ryn blinked, the warmth feeling his head quickly. He grabbed the short blonde head and pulled it forward, arching his neck and drawing the dark lord into a passionate kiss. Rath grabbed his long, honey-wheat hair and pulled back sharply, biting at his neck. "Be prepared for the worst and the unexpected. This wizard is not an easy power to deal with." The dragon-rider, thrust into him hard and came, filling him with his hot seed. Ryn groaned lowly as Rath's hands squeezed his pulsing organ until it too came to life and spilled its essence.

After a few moments, Rath released him and even helped him dress. "Next time," the dark warrior commented lowly, "Stay put as I tell you. Helping one escape is easier than three." The large blonde sat back in his chair and sipped the wine as if nothing happened.

Ryn eyed him and sighed, departing slowly.

"Oh and prince. Don't worry too much about what I told you. It is not like you enjoyed yourself or anything."

With little trouble, Ryn was able to return to his cell, lacking cuffs even. Hal still lay huddled in the corner though now he was shivering a great deal. The elf went to him, holding him as close as a person can hold another. He stroked the dark, braided hair and kissed the wet cheeks. "Worry not. We will get this bastard and be home, safe and warm very soon."

"Something is wrong. I can feel it..."

"Hold on for just a little while." Ryn sang him to sleep gently with is elven tongue and the songs of the stars his brother had often sang to him. Soon the priest dozed, yet Ryn would not join him. His heart pounded in his chest and his mind raced. What force could be so strong to that Greggorous could only distract them?

The door flew open as predicted. Rath looked into the room and hauled them both to their feet roughly. His eyes scanned over Hal, and then he placed a hand on his forehead. It glowed red briefly. "Follow me." The dragon-rider demanded.

They complied, Hal moving with renewed strength. All around them, the sounds of battle could be heard. The dragon screamed loudly as it thrashed against one of the towers. Rath paused at Titos' cell, trying to force it open to no avail. Ryn let go of Hal and muttered a few words lowly. The door flew open and they found Titos as he had seen them last. Luckily, Rath's powerful sword sliced through the chains like butter... Ryn turned to speak to the priestess but found he was gone.

***
Hal moved through the hall quickly, following the figure he had seen earlier. He went down the stairs, chasing this shadow without thought. The swirling staircase lead to an underground river that had a stone pathways on either side and manmade walls. He moved forward stopping when the figure ahead suddenly paused and turned around.

"Ah, my little treasure. To think I was to retreat empty handed. But with you, there is so much. It is a pity, you will no longer be able to breed without your lover, but the child... ahh yes. It shall be a key to power."

Hal regarded him coldly. Fury racing through his veins though his stance remain passive.

"Come here." The wizard spoke to him gently. "I won't hurt you. Just come with me. I promise it will be better than the spell that will catch you."

Hal tilted his head slightly. "You won't hurt me..." he whispered lowly. The wizard instantly smiled but Hal continued. "But I am going to kill you." His fingers darted foreword, small bolts of energy raced towards the old man.

The wizard stepped back, clearly surprised. His shield arrived late and the bolts struck him hard in the chest. Anger flashed in the aged eyes and he called forth a giant web to surround his enemy.

Lacking the strength to maneuver fast enough, Hal saw his capture coming with despair. Suddenly, someone was in front of him and the web surround that figure instead. Without a moments thought, Hal summoned all the power he could gather and sent it flying at his enemy. It struck the old man, melting his skin and body. Hal averted his eyes as the wizard screamed until he was no more than a puddle on the cold, stone floor.

He moved foreword and pulled away at the stick substance covering his savior. "Ridik..." he breathed when the elf's face was finally revealed. He stood, a smiled briefly. "Next time, you ought to wait for someone who is armed."

Hal hugged him fiercely. "Let us get out of here before the dragon crumbles the whole place." With the elf's aid, they moved down the Hal, leaving the vile existence of the fiend behind them.

***

Titos cut through the guards in cold fury. Where was Hal, his mind questioned loudly. They had made their way to the courtyard and all around them, men were pouring in from doorways and staircases to take them down. They were badly outnumbered and losing. Rath fought by his side, the dragon-rider furious for he too saw defeat at hand. Suddenly, a large shout was heard from a familiar, drunken voice. The dwarf plowed his way through, his ax shining with the essence of his former opponents. Behind him were the handful of mercenaries that he could gather in the short notice. Titos knew these men were much more than mercenaries, for they seemed to be at the beck and call of the dwarf whenever the need arose. Their new forces, despite their small forces, nearly evened the forces out.

"Greggorous has faced an opponent." Rath suddenly breathed next to him.

As if on cue, two loud and hideous growls filled the air and the two beasts charged each other in flight combat, their shadows darkening the area below them.

Damn. Titos swore for the lizard could no longer distract the outside forces. He curses over and over again as each man he downed was filled by another. Surprisingly enough, the gates never lowered and the outside army did not enter. It took a great deal of time and strength, but the opposing force slowly died down until the last still ran. Yet, still the sound of battle could be heard from the other side of the manor's walls. Someone else battle on their side outside.

"RYN!" A familiar scream caught his attention.

Titos turned to see Hal and Ridik trapped behind some bards and standing in the moat. The warrior turned just in time to see a large, Rhino looking, hairy creature with glowing red eyes barreling down on the his love. The elf too turned and saw it, but too late. Suddenly, Fareal was at his side, trying to knock his Little One out of harms way. The creature ran them both down. Titos ignored the foolish man who felt he had the right to die on his sword at the moment. He ran as fast as he could to the downed figures. Barely aware that the creature had seen his approach and went for him. Luckily, Rath and Trohan moved to intercept it. There skills and strength great enough to keep it occupied while the rest arrived to jointly bring it down. He dropped to his knees, rolling Ryn over and gasping at what he saw. The horn had impaled his midsection and blood poured from it freely. The ugly wound screamed at Titos and he could barely pull his eyes from it and look at his lover's death white face. Ryn's purple eyes flowed with tears. His lover was still conscience. The prince tried to speak but only blood bubbled up from his throat. Titos grabbed his shaking hands and held them. "Oh gods Ryn." Titos sobbed. "Don't speak. Save your strength... hold on."

"I can't get through." Hal wept loudly.

Titos looked over at his other lover, seeing the panic in his sky-blue eyes as his futile attempt to get through the thick bars failed. Ridik too, tried as he might, to loosen the bars but it was no good.

By now, they had taken care of the horrid creature, but Titos knew without asking that Rath's healing skills could not even touch this ugly wound. The dragon still combated and may not have helped even if he were not preoccupied.

Titos wept louder, holding onto the relaxing hand as light began to fade from his lover's eyes.

"Let me through." A familiar female voice commanded.

"Right." A guard replied. "What are you going to do, priestess of Wrenn. Kill me" The man laughed.

Titos looked up to see the beautiful elven queen, her silvery hair neatly combed, being stopped by a single guard with a sword. Somehow she had managed to get to here without her escort. His heart sank, Wrenn's priestess could not take life and she was at the top stairs of the largest tower.

Her purple eyes fell to the courtyard and widened. "I beg you let me through. For life's sack!"

"For death's sake, I decline." The guard held his spear in front of her.

From even here, he saw the priestess' eyes glisten. With one quick step forward and a shove, the High Priestess of Wrenn sent the man tumbling to his death. Without so much as a pauses, she leapt from the tower, her arms spread wide and seemed to float to the courtyards floor. She knelt before her son, getting his attention with her mere presence. "My baby." She made motions with her hands, but nothing happened. She repeated the gestures and added words but again nothing happened. "Wrenn!" She screamed, getting everyone's attention. "I have served you loyally for nearly 500 years. I have preached your ways, spread your word. Blessed your followers and embraced you to my heart!" The female elf wailed. "Do not abandon me in my time of need. Do not punish me for taking a life in my effort to save the being that was born of my body, of my flesh, my heart. Do not make me loose my baby when the powers were at the tips of my fingers just moments ago. Wrenn!!!" Her voice filled the sky, and, as if in answer, a small blue bird perched itself on nearby apple tree. Quickly, the elven queen rehearsed her spell again. Light sprang from her body fingers and surrounded her sons body... the wound closed before their and Ryn gasped for breath. She grabbed her son and held him closer, weeping from her the loss she almost had to face.

Titos, giving her the time she needed, kissed a pale hand and went to the figure of Fareal. He rolled the prince over, relieved to see him still in tact. His hands found life signs as well. The grey-violet eyes opened slowly, taking a moment to focus on Titos. "Ryn?"

"He lives." Tits assured quickly.

Fareal closed his eyes in relief. The elder elf prince pointed to his left thigh. Frowning, Titos tore away the pant and beheld the markings of teeth embedded in the pale flesh. Thick, blue ooze wept from the wound causing Titos to wince.

Fareal shuddered and then spoke softly. "I can not feel my legs."

"Oh gods." Ryn's voice caught their attention. "Fareal. No. Oh gods. Mother help. Mother."

The queen lowered her head and wept for she could not, and really, they all knew it.

"This is my fault. Oh gods.. No Fareal."

Fareal forced himself to sit up with Titos help. Ryn ran into his arms as their mother inspected the elder brothers' wounds. "This is not your fault Little One. We both live. That is what is important." Ryn wept bitterly, not hearing his mother's soothing voice.

She regarded Fareal and Titos. "It is a poison, and no damage has been done to the spine or nerves. It seems very slow moving and this may even be the extent of its effect. The best herbalist in our kingdom will see to it that his recovery will be as soon as possible."

Titos smiled. "Then it is only temporary?"

She smiled weakly. "Yes, but for how long. I can not say."

Fareal stroked his brother's back. "Did you hear that? It is only temporary."

***

"Stop that." Ridik insisted. "You are only weakening yourself further."

"I can't see. What is going on? Did you see him fall? Was that him that got up?"

Ridik peered at the seen again, his eyes straining to pick up more. Someone else approached now. The king... Ridik felt his heart stop momentarily. He was here too.

"Come on lads."

Ridik peered down to see, off all things, in old dwarf holding the keys to the bars. They were released, yet Ridik grabbed onto Hal as he rushed foreword but stumbled in the process. "Hold on. Let me help. Thank," He voiced to the dwarf.

With Hal leaning heavily on his shoulder, he joined the crowd that was now finishing off the rest of the army or watching the fantastic battle up ahead. Only a few people turned in their direction as they approached, even Titos seemed preoccupied with the two that almost perished.

"My wife. You have saved our children, and for that I am grateful." He helped her to her feet. "A cleansing quest will be yours to take to regain your favored position... but for now let us rejoice in the lives that were saved here today."

She looked at him slowly, but said nothing for she must have been lost in her thoughts.

"May I?" The king questioned Titos. Titos, who had Fareal held in his arms and still managed to hug Ryn, reluctantly let go of his fiery lover. The king held the prince close to him, tears glistening in his eyes. "My son. My beautiful son. I almost lost you today and what would I have done. My hateful words would have been between us for all eternity. My foolish pride and set ways destroyed the bond that we held so close. My love for you has never ceased. Can you forgive me for my folly? Can you love an old fool?"

Ryn hugged him tightly, sobbing. "Father. I missed you so much. I..."

"Shh..." The king murmured, his eyes looking up and seeing the loving gazes of the elder prince and his wife. He approached Titos again, this time delivering his son. "I see that you love my son very much. I was blind to it before but no more. You have taken care of him when I would not. For that I thank you."

Titos frowned. Clearly the warrior was not convinced, but he said nothing.

"Fareal," the king continued. "We will do all we can to get you through your new challenge. I will be by your side every step of the way. I love you and will continue to do so always." He looked at his family and smiled slowly. "Always. All of you must know I cherish you always. I am here for you. You can count on me and I shall make every effort to prove to you that I am as loyal to my family as I am to our kingdom."

Ridik choked down his rising sob though the tears he could not stop. He wanted to run and hide someplace. To crawl in a whole and die for that was the family he could never belong to. The half-brother he raped in his jealousy, and their mother and other brother who hated him for it. The father who wished he had never been born. He smiled bitterly, his dark features wouldn't fit in the family anyway. Suddenly, he realized that many of the eyes were now on them as the king approached. Ridik stepped back for he had heard the cruel words issued to the priest.

The king knelt beside Hal, his eyes kind when they had been so cold before. "I am sorry for your pain and your suffering, both at my hand and others. May I check the child?"

Hal eyed him cautiously, nodding slowly.

After a few minutes the king spoke. "The child is fine."

"Really?" Hal questioned him earnestly. "I felt. It is not dead?"

The king shook his head and smiled. "No. It most likely felt as disturbed as you did but it is fine now."

Hal shot Titos an overjoyed look. Ryn motioned the priest over and the two embraced happily.

Ridik smiled. So that is why the priest had turned so deadly. He had thought he had lost his baby.

"You?"

Ridik brought himself back to realty and found that the king had addressed him. He bowed lowly, ignoring the narrowed eyes from the other elves in the area, save from Ryn. "My lord?"

The king spoke again, his voice soft and kind. "And you? Are you well?"

"Yes, my lord. I am unharmed. Thank you for asking." Ridik forced the words out, finding his voice oddly steady. He kept his eyes averted which shamed him greatly. There was a time when he could look anything in the eye.

Strong, slender fingers gripped his chin and forced him to behold the king's steady gaze. "You look very much like your mother. Her strong features carry on in you." Ridik caught his breath, not sure what to say. "Even so, she was very beautiful."

"Your compliment is very kind..."

"Oh, how I have wronged you."

Ridik blinked in surprise. "My lord. You have not..."

"Even now. My son is hesitant to believe that he could receive anything but indifference form me."

Simultaneous gasps sounded from all around them. Ridik tried to pull away but the king only brought him closer, pulling him into a warm embrace.

"I abandoned you as a child and yet you still came to me. Came to me and I turned you away. Took your heart and crushed it when it was offered. How can you do anything but hate me?"

Ridik's eyes darted around at those staring at him. "My lord..."

Again, the king forced him too look at him. "Look at me. I am your father, not them."

"You..." Ridik began to sob, the emotions overwhelming him. "I never wanted a place in your court or to be your heir," he whispered. "I just wanted to know you. I wanted you to want me... I should not have expected you to embrace a disgrace such..."

"Such as you are not. You were an innocent child and before me, you still are. It took your disappearance for me to realize that you really meant more to me than my mind would let on. My heart broke when I was told of your departure." The king had tears in his eyes.

"My departure? I would never have left you. I would have waited another 200 years if that is what it took. You mean, you mean you did not know I was taken?"

The king's eyes narrowed. "Taken. No. I had no idea. Did you think that I would not look had I known."

Ridik looked away, still unable to stop the flow of tears. "I had thought you would look for I am a citizen... an male that can still father..."

"I would have looked because you are my son. And because you are my son, I would never have stopped looking." The king voiced forcefully.

Ridik looked at him with slight confusion.

"I did not look," the king added softly. "Because... because I had no right to ask you back."

Ridik finally had the strength to hug him back, burying his face in the strength of his father.

"We have time now. I wish to make it up to you. If you will let me."

Ridik laughed lowly. "Of course..." his voice trailed off as he realized his father played with the leather collar around his neck. "Oh gods. I can not be with you even now."

"What?" The king seemed shocked. "Is there nothing I can do to sway you?"

Ridik stepped back. "It is not that. I belong to Rath now. I am not allowed visitors or letters but maybe..."

"Belong to Rath!" the king hissed lowly, drawing his ancient sword. "I should have known. Defend yourself."

The large blonde eyed them carefully. Greggorous suddenly landed behind him, giving them all an eyeful of that power for the first time.

"No!" Ridik shouted. "Do not die for me father. I am not worth it. You can not win like this, put it away. I beg you."

The king glowered at Rath with a determined glint in his eyes. "Step aside my son. Too long have I stood idle. It is because Rath let us know that my son and his loved ones were thus captured that I have not challenged him yet. But I will not stand by and have him take my son from me."

"Ridik." Rath voiced lowly. "Come here."

Ridik let the tears fall freely. "I am sorry father. I have not waited this long to loose you now." He backed away and went to Rath's side.

The large blonde grabbed the elf's neck and pulled him into a passionate, forceful kiss. His grey eyes held the king's steadily. He broke the contact and pushed the elf down to his knee. With

a stiff back, Ridik sucked at the covered crotch. The shame he felt nearly killed him, but he would not loose his father or have the others loose him for less. Then Rath stepped back. "Go to your family."

Ridik stood, his eyes wide with bewilderment.

Rath mounted his soul-mate. The dragon moved right next to the king and kneeled down. All though the dragon-rider still towered over the ancient elf, he was close enough to speak. "I suggest you look into the elf's other father and promptly take action." Rath then looked at Titos. "We will talk." And then he did yet one more surprising thing. He held out the amulet around his neck and smiled. "For you sweet queen." He reached into a pouch and pulled out a red and black lava rock. He dropped it at her feet. "Crush it daily and have him drink the tea. It will leave him weak but fight the poison effectively... maybe as soon as 2 months." With that, the pair took off.

Titos looked around and grunted. "Well it seems like we are all one big family."

The queen stepped forward, and brushed Ridik's cheek lightly. "Welcome to the family."

Ridik smiled uncertainly. "Thank you my queen."

"Yes I am, but in time. You will know me as so much more... All of us."

 

-Please let me Know what you think-  Paladin

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