The Important Stuff

A Beginning

A story has to begin somewhere. If you've ever played a RPG then you know that many stories start in taverns. How else are you to gather...

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Empire of Shenendril: The Sapphire Chronicles 0. Ch.5


Lucas slept better than he thought he would. Perhaps the role of street rat had reminded his body how to find sleep anywhere. When he finally awoke it was midmorning, the sky grey with rain as it fell in buckets. Oh yes, a street rat would be very grateful to have somewhere dry with the rain like that. He was disappointed that Sergeant Walker hadn’t come by that morning but the man probably had duty back at the Gold Gate. Not even rain could stop the flow of commerce in the Empire. Lucas would just have to wait for him to come by later that evening. It also gave the youth time to plan his next move.

He scanned to make sure no one he knew was in the tap room before he went downstairs. He sat at the bar where he chatted idly with the tender, he found out the Master Sergeant had been kind enough to not only cover the cost of his room, but also his food and drink while he  stayed at the tavern. At least the food at the tavern was good so he had no problem with a large breakfast. If he was back at the brothel he probably would have spent the rest of the morning at work with his dance instructor. Instead he found ways to keep himself busy and distracted around the common room.

There was always someone willing to throw the dice or play a game of cards. For Lucas it was better to play cards as he could often catch a glimpse of his opponent’s cards in their mind. He could cheat at dice, but if someone noticed the extra wobble of the dice when he used his telekinesis there could be trouble. He used some of the coins he’d gotten the night before while playing cards with the soldiers to fund his ventures. Soon had a good pocketful of coin to play with for the rest of the afternoon.

He explored the tavern, followed some of the maids around as they cleaned rooms.  He flirted as easy as breathing and it didn’t matter if they were old enough to be his Grandmother, or blushing maidens, he flirted with them all. Lucas learned a lot more about how the tavern worked, he learned more gossip than he’d thought possible, and learned the names of a lot of the regulars, including some dirt on the Imperial soldiers who frequented the establishment. Sure, they knew Sergeant Walker, he was always very nice and polite and never got handsy.  He kept the younger soldiers in line so they remembered that they represented the Empire every time they put on the uniform.  More than one maid lamented the fact that they hadn’t been able to lure the good Master Sergeant into a nice slap n’tickle. They all agreed he was respectful and would never hurt them. He was trusted.

Lucas soon had an idea that might work for that evening. As the rain continued to pour down outside Lucas arranged to have a copper tub brought to his room.  He requested one of their larger tubs, as he hoped to not bathe alone. He only needed to time it right so that the water would be nice and hot when Sergeant Walker arrived. The last thing he wanted to do was sit in a tub of ice cold water when the man showed up.

He planned his action by what time he’d encountered Walker the night before so that he sat by the tub his hand in the hot water when he felt the man’s mind approach. Lucas grinned, he had hoped Sergeant Walker would be alone, and he was. He turned so his back was to the door as he sat shirtless on a low stool. It wasn’t long before he felt the Sergeant’s mind approach the door and knock politely.  “Come on in Alice.”  Lucas called out as he used the name of the maid who oversaw the evening work and brought the water up to anyone who paid for a bath.

“Alice?  Whose Alice?”  Walker said, he sounded amused as he stepped inside. He stopped when he noticed the large copper tub and gave Lucas a hard look, “Am I paying for this?”

The boy popped to his feet, “Sergeant Walker!”  His stool knocked over in his haste to stand. “Naw Sir... I... well... ya know those coins ya gave me last night when I won that hand’a cards? Well... I played some more cards taday... and had nuff that I thought I’d pay fer a bath... its been an awful long time since I had a real bath inna tub like this.  Ya can ask Alice when she comes up wif more water... she’ll tell ya... I done pay fer this myself.”

The man scowled as if angered before he just laughed and made an at ease motion with his hands, “I believe you Luca.  You’re a resourceful lad and as long as you’re honest with me you can continue to be resourceful.”  Rain dripped off his clothes as he stood in the door to form a puddle at his feet.

“Damn Sergeant.” Lucas said as he approached the man. “Ya done look like a drowned rat.  Come on now... ya should get outta them wet things... ya can have my bath iffen ya want... it’ll warm ya up.”

Before Walker could protest there was a gentle rap against the doorframe as the freckle faced maid named Alice stood there with a grin, “Got the rest of the water for you Luca.”  She had a couple of the stable lads with her, as they carried the buckets of hot water on yokes across their neck.  They quickly filed in and soon the water was poured into the tub. As they left she paused in the door, “Anything else luv?”

“Naw Alice... thanks fer bringin all that water up here... I’m mighty thankful fer it.” Lucas jumped over to grab a couple of copper wyrms off his night stand and offered them to the woman.  She almost refused but finally nodded in thanks and left, the door closed behind her.

Walker stood there in silence until the door closed. He shook his head as he laughed softly, “You certainly have a way about you lad. Glad to see you aren’t miserly with your newfound coinage.”

Lucas turned and gave the man a shy smile, “Well she’s nice... we talked a lot this afternoon.  She’s done got a little girl at home she gotta take care of all herself.”

Walker nodded then looked at the copper tub and the steam which rose from the water before he turned back to Lucas, “Alright then... I was planning on talking to you about where you’d like to go next... but yes... I do feel like a drowned rat.” He gave his arms a shake and sent water everywhere.

“We can talk.” Lucas said as he came over to help Walker get out of his gear, he reached for his sword belt first. “Tha water feels real nice.”

The older man hesitated a moment but then just sighed and allowed Lucas to help him undress.  They hung his sword belt over the back of a chair and removed the rest of his layers.  Off came the coat and tabard, then the heavy chain mail.  When Lucas tugged it off he almost fell over from the weight, “Oy! How you walk around in all this?”  He barely managed to get it on the same chair as the sword.

Walker laughed, “It is much easier when all the weight is distributed across the shoulders.” Though even he seems relieved to be out of his armor as he sat and after another hesitation allowed Lucas to help him with his boots. Though he laughed when the boy made a face at the stench which rose from his socks, “Rain or shine... The Empire can’t allow a little bad weather stop us from preparing for any eventuality.”

“What’s that?  Walkin through pile a manure?”  Lucas said as he pinched his nose and tossed the socks far away.

“Forgive me lad... next time I’ll be sure to put on fresh socks before paying you a visit.”  He still chucked as he stripped out of the padded shirt he wore under his armor.

“Aw it ain’t so bad... long as yer boots are on.” The boy said as he let his gaze linger on the man’s broad shoulders.  He took all of the wet things to drape them over every available surface that would allow them to drip dry.  By the time Sergeant Walker was naked and stepped into the bath it seemed as if every surface was covered with something the older man had worn.

“If I’d thought about it... I might have ordered a bath myself.  This is nice.”  He said as he sank into the water. He leaned back against the high end of the copper tub with a content sigh.

Lucas set his stool to rights and pulled it up to the side of the tub, “Iffen ya lean forward I’ll wash yer back...”

Walker opened his eyes to look up at the youth, then he pointed towards his belt hanging on the chair, “In that large pouch... the brown jar with the green seal.”

“What’s that?” Lucas asked even as he got up to go and fetch the jar.  He dug it out of the pouch and sniffed it, the strong scent of medicinal herbs hit his nose immediately.

“A healing salve.” The older man said. “For your eye... and those bruises on your ribs as well. Apply liberally and the bruises should be gone by morning.”

“Aw thankee Sergeant.”  The boy said as he put the salve down on the end of the bed then picked up the wash cloth as he rubbed it on the soap which had been provided. “Now ya gonna let me help ya?”

“Very well.”  With a grunt he sat up to give Lucas access to his back. Sergeant Walker had a thick coat of hair on his chest and arms, though less so on his back. His body was a testament to a long career as a soldier with hard muscles and his share of scars.  He had a tattoo of a pair of crossed swords on his upper arm. Lucas let the cloth linger over the tattoo.

“What’s tha ink fer?”  He asked as he continued to soap up the man’s back, neck, shoulders, and arms.

“Ah... the folly of youth.”  Walker said as he glanced at his arm. “I wasn’t much older than you when myself and some other lad’s I knew back then left home for fame and glory.”  He reached up to touch the tattoo.  “We got these as a way to commemorate coming out alive after our first battle.”

“Were ya with tha Empire back then?” He asked as he dipped the cloth in the water and began to rinse away the soap.

“Not nearly so stalwart an operation. We were mercenaries. But it was a good learning experience.” Walker said as he stared straight ahead.

“What happened to yer friends?” Lucas asked, the cloth rubbed the back of the man’s neck.

“Two of them are long dead. One because he panicked in the face of battle and broke ranks... the other stood his ground but got an arrow in the throat for his trouble.  The last returned home to take up life as a farmer and the last I heard he had a wife and a whole herd of children.”  He smiled at the thought.

“What bout yerself Sergeant?  Got a woman waitin fer ya somewhere? Ever wish ya had a little farm of yer own?” Lucas let his arm slip around as he began to wash the man’s chest.

Sergeant Walker leaned back again and closed his eyes, “I found soldiering was more to my taste than farming… and I view women with much the same feelings as I have for farming, okay for some but not for me.”

Lucas just nodded as he let his hand slip under the water to wash somewhere else more intimate. When Walker’s hand grabbed his wrist he didn’t move but just looked at the soldier who had opened his eyes again to gaze at the boy. “I jus’ wanna do somethin nice fer ya Sergeant…”  He said softly.

Sergeant Walker seemed to search Lucas’s face for something.  He finally released the boy’s wrist, “Get in the water Luca... I’ll wash your back now.”

Lucas knew better than to act too enthusiastic. He simply stood up and let his ratty pants fall to the floor. He accepted Sergeant Walker’s hand he stepped into the tub and settled between the man’s knees, which he’d pulled up to give the youth some room to sit. Lucas handed the wash cloth to Walker over his shoulder as he sat while his arms rested lightly on his own knees. He was silent as Walker began to work the now soapy cloth across his shoulders and down his back. Lucas just closed his eyes to enjoy the gentle contact. When Walker pulled the youth back to lean against his chest while he washed Lucas’s chest the boy could feel the hardness trapped between their bodies. He tilted his head slightly to look at the man’s calm features, “When did ya know? That ya preferred boys?”

Walker just smiled, “I think I always knew. The mystery that was women held no allure for me. I wasn’t interested in following the other boys to spy on the girls bathing in the river, but I found that when it was our turn to bathe in the river that seeing my friends unclothed gave me that feeling in my stomach that many of them claimed to have when they watched the girls.”

Lucas smiled at that almost idyllic memory. He rested his hands on Walker’s thighs. “Did ya ever have a lover at home?”

“I did.”  His hands ceased their movement across Lucas’s skin. “At home we hid our relationship, which amounted to nothing more than boyish fumbling and stolen kisses. We were the ones who decided to leave our home village to try our hand at mercenary work, if primarily for the reason that perhaps away from the insular life of our village, we could finally find some measure of freedom.” His eyes closed. “The other two decided to join us for reasons of their own, though they were kind enough to never speak negatively about our relationship when my lover and I became more open in our affections.”

“Which one was he?” Lucas asked gently, though he was already saw images flash by in Walker’s mind from their close contact.

“The arrow that pierced his throat was meant for me.” Walker whispered, “He pushed me out of the way but didn’t get his shield up in time.”

“I’m sorry.” Lucas said softly as he reached up to gently caress Walker’s cheek.

His eyes blinked open as the older man looked down at the youth in his arms, “It was a very long time ago... more than your lifetime at least. There is still an ache when I think about it, but the worst of the pain has long since passed.” He forced a smile as his hands smooth over the youth’s blonde hair. “Since you brought up the subject, what of yourself? Do you truly prefer the company of men or are you a pragmatic youth who goes where the winds will him?”

Lucas turned away to stare straight ahead, “A little of both maybe? Girls are pretty n’all.. and they’re soft and tits are fantastic. I’ve tumbled with a few here n’there.” He gave Walker’s knees a hard squeeze, “But men are different. All hard where girls are soft. Strong. And really… I might can get a girl ta give me somewhere ta sleep iffen I tumble ‘er… or maybe a meal or two. But they don’t pay fer a fuck.  Men do, and sometimes tha money’s more important.”

“The world is a hard cruel place and each of us must do what we must to survive.” Walker said as he began to rinse the soap from Lucas’s skin. “My village may have been small and not accepting, but we took care of one another.  Even the idiot boy who could do nothing useful but drool and piss himself always had a warm place to sleep and food for his belly. If only that sense of community could be shared with the rest of the world.”

“Yeah... musta been nice.” He closed his eyes.

“How old were you?” Walker asked after a few minutes. “The first time someone paid you.”

Lucas’s brow knit. He certainly could not tell Walker about his true first time, how his virginity had been auctioned off at an elegant gala at the House of Sighing Shadows. But he could tell him what had happened to one of his friends when he’d still been on the street. “I was... twelve n’some months? Was a hard cold winter an’ I was beggin outside one of them taverns that gets a lot of travelers. Me n’mah friends figure that folks travelin’ will sometimes be more generous than tha locals. So this big fancy carriage pulls up and this fine rich lookin fella steps out. I walk up askin fer alms and tellin ‘em I got a sick mama back home... the usual shit.”

Walker said nothing, just wrapped his arms around Lucas to hold him close. The youth lifted his arms to grip Walker’s forearms as if he never wanted him to let go.

“This fella looks down his nose at me like I’m some piece of meat.  He finally smiles, but it ain’t no nice smile. It don’t reach his eyes none. He’s got dead eyes... like a snake.” he shivered, not from the cold but from the memory of the man he’d pulled from his friend’s mind. “He asks me iffen I’d eaten and when I say no he offers ta buy me a meal.  There were always nice folks that were willin ta buy me a meal and it was so cold ya could see yer breath.  He puts an arm round mah shoulders an’ brings me inside. Tha tavern folks gave me tha stink eye cause they knew me round but this fella pays fer his room n’stuff and all that coin has the tavern folks smilin n’gettin him whatever he wants.”

Lucas took a slow deep breath, “I thought maybe we’d eat in tha tap room like everyone else... but he had his food brought upstairs to tha room he just got. It was a real nice room... nicest one in tha place.  Had its own fireplace and was nice n’warm after bein outside. When tha food was brought he told me ta eat as much as I liked... an’ I did... Damn it tasted good. This fella...  he sat next ta me while I ate.  He started touchin me hair... me neck... he put his hand on me leg n’ was feelin up n’down till I started gettin hard. He seemed ta like that… a lot.”

“Luca... you don’t…” Walker began.

“I don’t mind.” Lucas interrupted him. “Like you said bout yer friend.  It was a long time ago and it don’t hurt so much anymore.” He did pause though to look up at Walker and when the man finally nodded he continued. “When I couldn’t stuff another bite in me craw he made me stand up. Said I was a mighty fine lookin boy and asked me iffen I’d like ta earn a true gold dragon.  Even showed it ta me.  Course I said yes.  I’d never had a gold dragon fore. He told me ta take my clothes off and iffen I did what he said... he’d give me tha coin.”

It felt a little strange to use his friend’s memory to weave this tale. But from the way Walker’s arms held him close Lucas knew that compassion for the downtrodden was perhaps the man’s only true weakness. He felt a strange pain in his chest as he manipulated the kind hearted man, but he had a job to do. “It was a little weird takin my clothes off like that. I knew I was all skinny n’dirty. But the fella didn’t seem ta mind.  He started askin me questions... asked me if I’d ever kissed anyone fore... and iffen I’d ever let someone touch me... or fuck me. Tha more I said no... tha more excited he got ta be. He touched me fer a while... even used his hand on me till I jizzed fer ‘em. Once that happened he said I had ta earn my dragon… I had ta use my mouth an he kept tellin me what ta do. He kept pullin on me hair and he didn’t care none when he made me gag.  Almost puked on his cock more than once.”

“Damnit Luca.” Walker whispered as if the pain were his own. He rested his head against the lad’s shoulder as his arms tightened. He almost didn’t want to hear the rest but it was the boy’s story and he deserved someone who would hear it and not judge him the villain.

Lucas reached up and put an arm around the older man’s neck. “He didn’t finish in me mouth. I wish he had though. He told me ta lay down on the bed on me stomach. I knew somma what was gonna happen,  I weren’t no fool, an’ lotta them whores don’t’ care none iffen a Minnow is round about watchin’. But I didn’t know it was gonna hurt so bad as it did. When I started yellin n’screamin cause it hurt he just shoved me face in tha bed where I couldn’t breath. He wouldn’t let me up none till I hushed. Ended up havin ta cover my mouth with me own hand just so he’d lemme up ta breath. Seemed ta go on forever fore he finished… Right fore he got off me… he licked mah face. Said mah tears were delicious.” That he took for his own memories. While he hadn’t felt as much pain, as judicious lubricant was used in the brothel. It had still hurt, and he’d still cried after the man who bought his virginity fucked him in the ballroom where everyone could see.

“Luca… I am so sorry that happened to you. No one deserves such pain.” Walker whispered as he held the youth close, his big burly arms wrapped around the slim youth as if by strength of will alone he could shield the youth from the cruelty of the world.

“Yer right.  It’d be something special iffen there weren’t no one mean like that.  But him.  He was dead inside. Sure his body was up walkin’ n’talkin. But he didn’t have no more soul. Being hurt by someone like that… well ya almost expect it. What hurts more is how normal folks look at ya after, like it was somehow yer fault ya got hurt by tha bad person. He gave me mah coin n’ all and put me back in mah clothes even though I was barely able ta walk n’was bleedin something awful from where he’d hurt me. Put me outta his room and there I was with no where ta go, hurtin, n’still cryin. Almost fell down tha steps leavin. I could feel all tha  eyes of folks on me when I stumbled inta tha common room. I heard their whispers. Callin me a whore n’laughin cause I was limpin. Not a damn one of ‘em cared that I was leavin a trail of blood behind me.”

“What did you do?” Walker asked, his hand stroked Lucas’s hair.

“A lot of its a blur, but some of me friends found me eventually.  Took me somewhere safe n’dry. Stayed up with me. Held me when I couldn’t do nothin but cry. Had ta use that dragon fer food ta feed all three of us.  Had one of ‘em buy a new blanket fer all of us ta sleep under. Not sure I woulda made it without ‘em.  And once I was better… I promised mahself.  No more men with dead eyes.  Iffen someone has dead eyes, I don’t go wid‘em.” Lucas closed his eyes as he lay back in Walker’s arms.

It had been him and Casey who had found their friend near death in an alley just a couple of blocks from that tavern, the gold dragon still clutched in his hand. They’d carried him back to a stable where they occasionally took shelter. While blood loss and fever wracked their friends thin frame they’d held him, tried to keep him warm, and soothed his tears. Lucas had not been as in control of his mental gifts then and hadn’t been able to block out the visions of that horrific night their friend had endured. Unfortunately, the trauma coupled with the fever was too much for their friend and after three days of agony they’d woken up to their friend stiff and cold where he lay between them.

They had wrapped him in their ragged blanket then taken him to the grave digger. They stood watch as their friend was lowered into the mass grave filled with others too poor to pay for a proper burial. The gold dragon they used to buy a new warmer blanket and to keep them both fed for the rest of the winter. Lucas felt a tear roll down his cheek as he knew how close he’d come to the same fate as his friend. If he hadn’t come to the attention of his Mistress he could just as easily have met a similar fate.

A calloused thumb brushed against Lucas’s cheek before Walker gently turned the boy’s face towards him, “What do you see when you look into my eyes?”  The older man asked softly.

The now lukewarm water in the bath sloshed up towards the sides as Lucas sat up then turned around to face him. He knelt between Walker’s thighs as he reached up and cupped the older man’s face while he looked intently into his eyes. “I see a fella that’s known what its like ta be cold n’hungry. That’s known what it’s like ta be beaten down only ta hafta climb back up on yer feet cause ta lay down is ta die. Its why ya pick up strays like me, cause ya got a big ole heart and ya don’t like seein folks in pain.”

Walker smiled, “You see what others cannot. I admit sometimes even I can’t see anything good about myself. You are a very perceptive young man Luca.”  He took hold of the youth’s hands and kissed the palms, “I think once you’ve done some more growing you should try your hand at soldiering, with the right commander you could go far.”

“Aw now I ain’t no soldier.” He looked away a moment then turned back to Walker with a smile, “Tha only swords I like ta handle are tha ones made of flesh.”

That got a laugh out of Sergeant Walker before he sobered again, “Even after all the pain? Even though you give yourself to men only because of the coin they offer?”

Lucas shrugged, “I done got good at stayin away from tha bad ones.  And….”  He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to the corner of Walker’s lips, “...when it’s done right it feels amazin’.”

The older man closed his eyes, “You are a horrible temptation I should not succumb to… I want to help you Luca, not become another faceless man in your bed.”

“I don’t kiss folks I fuck fer money.”  He whispered as he pressed a kiss more fully upon Walker’s lips, which were surprisingly soft. Well that was a tiny lie, though the client had to specifically state they wanted to kiss when they negotiated for his services. There were only a few who requested such intimacy thankfully, unfortunately it was ones he despised such as Lord Devonshire.

Walker seemed to resist at first, almost pulled away from the insistent youth. But his resistance soon crumpled as his lips parted to deepen the kiss and his arms came up again to wrap around the young man once more. He pulled Lucas into his lap, water splashed over the edge of the tub at their sudden movements.

Lucas giggled, “We should... get out… fore folks complain... bout water... on their... heads.”  He said between kisses.

“You’re right.” Walker agreed and helped Lucas stand and step out of the tub before he joined him. He grabbed a towel and took the time to pat Lucas dry before he roughly scrubbed the towel over his own body to whisk away what dampness remained. When Lucas took his hand to lead him to the bed he did not resist, though he did grab the bottle of salve that Lucas had left on the end of the bed.

With a smile on his face Lucas pushed Walker backwards until he sat on the edge of the bed.  The youth leaned in to give him another kiss then he slid down the soldier’s body where he left a trail of kisses in his wake. When he finally knelt between Walker’s legs he looked up at him, “I wanna do this... ya don’t gotta look at me like that.”

“Am I so transparent Luca?” He said as he ran his fingers through Lucas’s soft golden hair. “I fear you are doing this out of some obligation, not because you truly feel attracted to someone almost old enough to be your father.”

Lucas tilted his head to one side then sat back on his heels as he reached down to fondle his own erect member, “Hey cock...  you wanna fuck this man?”  He pitched his voice for effect as he ‘spoke’ through his manhood, “Oh yeah, lookit him... all hard in tha right places, and all strong... hell... lookit them shoulders. He can pick us right up he can. An’ it sure helps that he’s done hung all right n’proper.”  He looked back up at Walker as the man laughed, “We both agree... we wanna fuck ya.”

“How can I argue with that?” Walker said as he tried to still his laughter.

“Damn right ya can’t.” And Lucas did not give another chance to back out as his mouth went to work. Soon he heard the man gasp as toes curled in pleasure. He wondered just how long it had been for the old soldier as he felt the man’s fingers tangle in his hair. He made a sound of disappointment when Walker finally pulled him off.

“Easy lad... I’m not as young I once was... I don’t recover as swiftly anymore.”  He drew Lucas up onto the bed with him. “I’m in no hurry for this to end.”

“Well you just tell me what ya want then.  I wanna make ya feel good.” Lucas purred as he wrapped his arms around Walker’s neck.

“How about for once sweet Luca, you just lay back and let someone else do all the work. Let me make you feel good.” Walker whispered as he urged the youth to lay down.

Lucas just stared at the man in mild surprise but after a moment he nodded. When he was plucked off the street by his Mistress he was cleaned up, primped, pampered, and educated. He was given lessons in everything from history to statecraft so that he could be a pleasing companion to the rich and powerful, delighting them with his mind as well as his body. He had three languages and worked on a fourth. And he had been well educated in the arts of pleasure. He knew where and how to touch the body to elicit the most delight. He could dance along the line that separated pleasure from pain until his clients pleaded with him for release.  Then when all of that was used he always had his mental gifts which allowed him to find even the most hidden erogenous zone on his clients. He knew immediately when he did something right, even if his client was unable to form coherent words. But there was something to be said for simple experience and consideration.

Walker was a generous lover who laughed easily and seemed to take great delight in his explorations of his bedmate. He found what excited the younger man through trial and error. Despite years of soldiering he was gentle, as he enjoyed the tender kisses as much as he enjoyed giving a wiggling youth a swat for him to hold still while his mouth was too busy to say anything. He had not wished to end his evening early for himself, but he had no problem sending Lucas over the edge only to bring him back up again.

When Walker put the greasy healing salve to a secondary purpose Lucas could only whimper in anticipation. He welcomed the soldier with open arms and hungry kisses. Their joining was something beautiful and Lucas truly did not wish for it to end. He saw a part of Walker that he did not think many of his fellow soldiers ever saw. For a few precious moments Lucas was able to forget his primary purpose for the seduction of the older man. He was able to set aside the fact that not only was he a whore but also a spy. For a short while he was just a boy and Sergeant Walker was just a man with an unselfish heart.

Afterwards Lucas lay with his head pillowed on Walker’s burly chest, his fingers toyed with the thick hair on the man’s stomach. Walker gave a soft laugh and captured the boy’s hand, “That tickles.”

“Oh... sorry.” Lucas just smiled and snuggled closer. He rested his chin on the back of his hand as he looked up at Walker, “Will ya be staying with me tanight?”

“Would you like me to?” Walker asked as he brushed a hand through Lucas’s hair.

The youth nodded, “I would. I don’t get ta wake up with a lover all that often, thought it might be nice.”

Walker took a deep breath then nodded, “Very well, though I must leave at dawn.” He traced the youth’s cheek with a finger, his eyes seem to take on a sadness in their depths.

“Oy... what’s that look for?”  He reached up to tug on Walker’s mustache. “Ya just gave me a look like I was dying.”

Walker laughed as he batted away the hand, “Sorry lad... when I look at you I’m reminded of another. A young man who never truly had a chance in this hard cold world. He died too soon.”  He took another slow deep breath, “I’ve not really thought of him in… oh over five years.”

“Was ‘e yer lover too?” Lucas asked softly.

“Briefly… Though we hid our affair lest there be an issue with the difference in our ranks. He was but a private and I was his corporal.”

“Ya mean ya weren’t born a sergeant?”  He giggled when the older man gave him a swat on the rear for his sass.

“No lad I did not spring forth from the ground as you see me now.”  he rolled his eyes a little at the jest. “I was young once... I’ve made more than my share of mistakes.  Though I hope I’ve learned from them. Some I hope never to see repeated.”

“Aww... well I don’t want ya all long in tha face. Sleep ‘ere with me tanight... Iffen ya wake up in time I’ll give ya a little something in tha mornin’ ta think on all day.”  He grinned playfully.

“I am sure you will lad.  Then I’ll see about taking my leave earlier tomorrow.  We will have more time so I can take you around to my friends.  See if we can convince one of them to give you a job.” Walker said with only a slightly forced smile.

“That sounds fine ta me.”  He sat up long enough to grab the blankets which had gotten bunched up at the bottom of the bed and pulled them up to cover them both. Lucas rested his head on Walker’s strong shoulder once more before he closed his eyes, one hand over the man’s heart. He listened as the man’s breath grew even and deep.  He waited until the mind slipped over into sleep then he gave the man a nudge with his telepathy to put him into a deeper sleep.

Lucas sat up he looked down at Walker’s peaceful face and for a painful, brief moment he considered the cost of disobedience to his Mistress.  Perhaps he could find another soldier, one not from Walker’s unit. But that would mean more time, and he would have to be careful to avoid Walker and his two friends who both had gotten good looks at him. Unfortunately, he knew that failure to complete his task for his Mistress was not an option. While she might not kill him out of hand, she had other ways to punish those who failed her that left their scars on the inside. He also knew of at least one former courtesan of his House who now worked in one of the roughest dockside brothels. Gone were her days of luxury and the ability to choose her clientele, now she was lucky if she got a chance to wash up between the rough men who paid their handful of coppers to use her body. He shuddered to think of that as his fate.

With a soft sigh he moved pillows out of the way as he sat with his back against the headboard so he could place his hand upon Walker’s brow.  He closed his eyes as he sent his consciousness into Walker’s mind to journey through the man’s memories. He followed the trail of thought which had been upon the man’s mind as he fell asleep, the boy from his past who Lucas reminded him of. Soon he found a treasure trove of memories of the blonde haired young man who laughed easily, smiled often, and jested with his fellow soldiers. Of stolen moments together away from the prying eyes of their fellow soldiers, and of long talks around campfires as they traveled the length and breadth of the continent.

Lucas frowned as he watched these memories flash by. They were not false, but it was as if Walker focused so hard on those memories to keep them fresh that he tried to hide something. Some pain he did not wish to think on and associate with this young man. Lucas pushed harder, dug deeper. To Walker it would be like a series of vivid dreams. For Lucas it was the pages of a detailed book whose title read, Master Sergeant Gordon Walker.

He sensed the darkness as it lurked in the corners of the man’s mind. Sergeant Walker was good at keeping his secrets hidden but he had never had to hide his secrets from someone like Lucas. The boy dived into the darkness without hesitation. He held nothing back but waded through the man’s memories until it felt as if he were stood in a wooded glade. It was high summer and the air was thick with humidity. Walker’s armor felt like it weighed a ton but that was the least of his concerns as he stood opposite his angry lover.

“You can’t seriously be considering going along with that madman’s plan? We killed civilians Gordon. They had nothing to do with this conflict. We made a mistake.  We need to own up to it.” Octavio paced back and forth.

“Have you stopped to think what that will mean for us? If the General doesn’t hang us we’ll be handed over to the local Lords and They will hang us.” Gordon tried to reason. “This was a mistake, we were fools to trust that guide. But what is done is done.  We are good soldiers.  We don’t need to die.”

“If we were such good soldiers we wouldn’t have killed over fifty civilians.” Octavio snarled. “I can’t Gordon.  I can’t go back to the General and pretend this didn’t happen.  I can’t go back and lie that this was done by… rebels.  We did this. If this means we must pay with our lives then so be it.”

“Octavio… you can’t mean that. Please, you know what Sergeant Salinas said. If you go against him…” He let the implied threat hang between them.

“Fuck Salinas. It was his mistake that got us in this mess to begin with. He is the one who hired the guide.  He is the one who ordered the attack. Fuck him. I’m leaving. My horse is saddled and ready to go. I can be half way back to the fort before that fool realizes I am gone.” He stepped up to Gordon, grabbed his lover’s tabard with both fists, “Come with me. Throw yourself on the General’s mercy, explain how it was all Salinas’s fault, if anyone deserves to die for this mess, its him.”

“You have more faith in the General’s mercy than I do.” Gordon said as he cupped his lover’s face with both hands and kissed him. “Please don’t leave me Octavio. We can survive this. You’re due a promotion soon, then we don’t have to hide anymore, I can drag you to the temple and make you my husband like we’ve dreamed.”

Octavio placed his hands over Gordon’s then pushed them away and moved away, his back to Gordon, “Don’t make promises you can’t keep Gordon. How can we be happy with this hanging over our heads? I thought you were more honorable than that?”

“Don’t say that Octavio. You should know me better than that.” The words of his commanding officer echoed in his mind.

“I thought I knew you. I have admired you. Loved you, for three years. Ever since I first signed up and you took me under your wing. But if you are actually going to agree to that fool’s plan then maybe I don’t know you at all.” Octavio sounded as if his heart had shattered into pieces.

“I’m sorry, I am so sorry Octavio.” Gordon whispered, he slipped something from his pouch. His eyes stung but he could not stop to think. If he stopped to think about this then he may as well turn himself over to the local Lord’s tonight. Before the younger man could react he slipped the knotted garrote cord over Octavio’s head and tightened it around the younger man’s neck. Octavio was not weak but he had not expected that level of treachery from the man he loved. In moments he was on his knees, his face turned purple as he clutched at the cord around his neck. The cord was so tight he couldn’t even cry out. By the time he breathed his last Gordon had tears on his cheeks.

Lucas could feel the horror that Gordon felt. He could feel the sadness. He also knew that Gordon had lured his lover out there to try and change his mind, but also to save him from their Sergeant. The others who had protested the lie would be butchered in their bedrolls.  He had promised to kill his lover to save him from that pain and shame. Gordon took the rest of the night to build a cairn to act as his lover’s final resting place. When he returned to the camp he simply reported to his commanding officer that it was done then went to join the others. They still had a rebel outpost to root out.

Lucas wanted to pull back. He wanted it to end. But he had to learn more, a simple murder would never be enough to satisfy his Mistresses needs. He went back further. He followed the trail of memory to find Sergeant Salinas. He found the man extolling his men that what had happened was a tragedy, but that they could use this tragedy to rally the people against the rebels. They would tell the local Lords who had called for Imperial aid to put down this rebellion that the village was destroyed by those very same rebels. It would bring the people back to the Lords of these lands better than a dozen military engagements. He found Sergeant Salinas telling Gordon that anyone who didn’t agree to go along with the planned cover up would have to die.

The youth went further back, followed Gordon through the disastrous raid. The village not full of rebels, but instead innocent civilians. He watched as Sergeant Salinas ordered the attack, Gordon Walker as his second in command passed along the commands. He watched as the guide they had hired led them to the wrong valley, promised he knew the area like the back of his hand. He went as far back in the man’s memories as the morning they left the fort they were stationed in many miles from the small rebellion to Imperial rule.

When Lucas finally pulled out of Sergeant Walker’s memories he felt sick. He jumped off the bed and barely made it to the chamber pot hidden under the bed in time.  His Mistress could do much with the information Lucas had just retrieved. Not only could she use this to blackmail Sergeant Walker, but this could very well be used against numerous members of the Imperial military. The man Salinas had risen far in the ranks since that fateful raid. He was a Colonel now. If this came to light it would mean the end of Master Sergeant Walker’s career, if not his life. Could he do that to the man who had shown such compassion to him? He had seen into the man’s mind, delved into his innermost secrets. Gordon Walker had made mistakes, he felt remorse for those mistakes, but he was not an evil man. Lucas had looked into the face of evil before. Gordon Walker was not evil.

He wiped a hand across his mouth he leaned against the side of the bed. It was one thing to steal secrets from his rich clients in the brothel. Most of them were depraved individuals who garnered little sympathy from the boy who had grown up an orphan and spent more time starved as a child than with a full stomach. But Sergeant Walker was different. Yes he had done wrong, but he also actively sought to do good to make up for that wrong. He might never truly balance the ledger sheet in his soul, but at least he made the effort.

Lucas pushed up from the floor and retrieved his clothes to dress in silence. He returned to the bed as he leaned over to smooth a hand over Walker’s dark hair, “I’m sorry. You don’t deserve what is about to happen to you. But I have no choice. To go against my Mistress would mean my death, and I am just too selfish to give up my life for yours.” He gave the sleeping Sergeant one final kiss, one final manipulation so that he wouldn’t wake up until Lucas was long gone.

He wanted to leave the man a note, but a street rat like Luca wouldn’t know how to read or write. Instead he took the man’s money pouch as he exited the room. Lucas summoned a few tears as he made his way towards the back stairs. He passed the storage closet where he could see Alice inside as she folded sheets.  She spied the boy and gave a smile and a wave, “Where you off to Luca?”

One more performance then he could flee.  He paused, looked back the way he came then towards the stairs he headed for. He wiped at the tears that threatened to fall from his eyes as he hurried forward and shoved the pouch of coins in Alice’s hands, “Tell tha Sergeant fer me... tell ‘em that he deserves better.  He deserves better than a thievin’ whore like me.”

The young maid looked confused but before she could give voice to the questions which tumbled around in her head Lucas has already fled. He didn’t stop. He scurried down the backstairs and soon burst outside where it continued to rain. In what felt like an instant, the rain had soaked him to the skin but Lucas did not plan to stay in the rain long. He took one last look up at the room window where he had shared such intimacy with Sergeant Walker then he turned to head down a nearby alley. He went only a short distance before he teleported elsewhere in the Gulch.

The boarding house he stood outside of was not in the best condition. It desperately needed a fresh coat of paint. The front porch creaked alarmingly under his feet as he stepped up on it. When he went inside he was grateful to be out of the rain but he wasn’t to his destination yet. The interior reeked of stale ale and old urine. Debris had been swept into the corners and he heard a baby crying from one of the rooms on the first floor. It reminded him of home. It reminded him of a similar boarding house where he and his Mother had lived before she died.

Lucas made his way to the stairs. He saw the goon stationed there who tried to act as if he had nothing better to do than laze about on stairs in some random boarding house.  But Lucas knew he was there to prevent anyone from going up those stairs without permission. When the boy tried to bypass the goon the big guy’s arm shot out to stop him, “Where ya goin shorty?”

“I don’t have time for this.” Lucas growled as he grabbed the man’s wrist to send a strong mental pulse straight into the man’s mind as he knocked him unconscious. The goon would wake up in an hour or two with a headache but no worse for wear. The youth continued on to the second floor and to the only room which was currently occupied. He could feel the mind of the man he wanted behind that door and he was unfortunately not alone. Lucas lifted a hand and knocked hard enough to rattle the door in its frame.

“Go Away!” Casey hollered from the other side.

“Casey!” Lucas yelled back, then sent straight to the man’s mind, ~I need you!~

Moments later there was a thump and a very feminine voice raised in protest. Casey could be heard as he hopped and thumped his way across the room to the door.  He slammed into the door before he was able to step back and yank it open. He’d managed to get his pants on, though they were inside out. The girl he’d been with yanked a sheet up to cover herself on the bed behind him, “Lucas, what the fuck?”

The tears he had shown Alice had been mostly artifice but the ones that streamed down his cheeks now were genuine. “... I... damnnit… Casey… I’ve fucked up.”

“Shit. Get in here Lucas. Come on now.” Casey drew Lucas into the room and into a hug. He then guided Lucas over to the bed and sat him down on the edge. “You need a drink? I could put a kettle on, make us some tea.  I got the real stuff nowadays.”

“Casey! Who the hell is this?” The girl said as she rooted around for her clothes on the bed and floor.

“Shit. Lucas, this is... damn... what’s your name again honey?” Casey tried to give her a charming smile but failed miserably.

“Molly you fuck head.” She said as she dragged her shirt on. From the scent of ale and pipe smoke coming off her clothes she probably worked at one of the taverns Casey liked to frequent and occasionally play at.

“Yes, Molly Fuckhead.  Now I remember.” He found the girls skirt and shoved it at her even as he’s pulled her off his bed and propelled her towards the door, “It was really great to meet you Molly Fuckhead, I am sure if something more important hadn’t come up I would have given you a night you could tell your grandchildren about some day, but not too soon.  I mean at least wait until they are grown up before you share that kind of thing with them. Maybe we can try again later.”

Poor Molly was so flustered she wasn’t able to find her voice until she already stood out in the hall, “Are you really kicking me out? After I covered your drinks….”  The door slammed in her face and she could be heard as she screamed angrily out in the hall and even kicked the door once. Casey found her shoes under a table and before she got far he tossed them out into the hall after her and she left a stream of curses in her wake as she headed for the stairs.

“I don’t think you’ll be getting under her skirt again.” Lucas said as he wiped the tears from his face.

Casey shrugged, “She really wasn’t that good a lay to begin with.  Now, you want to tell me why you’ve shown up on my doorstep crying?  And did you kill Fred to get up here?”

“Fred’s not dead, just sleeping.” He wiped the tears away but they continued to fall. “Shit… Why can’t I stop crying like a fucking girl?”

“Because you’re crying like you?”  Casey sat beside him and slipped an arm around his friend’s shoulder, “You wanna tell me what happened?”

“I think I fell in love with my mark…”  He sniffled as he rested his head on Casey’s shoulder. “He was so nice. Compassionate. Generous. And oh fuck and he made me cum so hard…”

If anyone other than Lucas had said that to him Casey might have fallen onto the floor, unable to hold back the laughter that escaped him. But he knew Lucas was different. Lucas treated sex like a handshake but very rarely gave away his heart, no matter how easy it was for him to get lost in someone else with his abilities. Casey really thought the boy’s gifts were as much curse as they were a blessing. “Let me guess… he’s got a deep dark secret the Mistress can use.”

Lucas nodded, “Really bad one too. Casey... I don’t want to tell her. I don’t want to see him destroyed. But if I don’t she’ll destroy me.”

“I know sweetheart.” He gave Lucas a squeeze and a kiss to the top of his head. He was two years older than Lucas and had been his rock to lean on for years. “But you know what you need to do, and you’re the only one who can.”

“I know, but I don’t want to think about that. Not yet. Can’t I just have a little while to enjoy how he made me feel?” Lucas asked in a soft voice.

“Sure. How about you stay here with me tonight and then you can deal with the Mistress tomorrow.  Okay?” Casey knew why Lucas had come to him so it made sense to just go ahead and make the offer.

“Please?” Lucas looked up at his friend as his eyes pleaded for the favor. “Just tonight. Like old times.”

“Like I could say no to you. Though you will excuse me if I change pants.”  He gave Lucas another squeeze then went to change into pants more suited for sleep, that weren’t on inside out. By the time he returned Lucas has divested himself of his clothes and borrowed one of Casey’s shirts. “Are you ever gonna grow where those don’t look like dresses on you?” He said with a laugh.

“Maybe if you didn’t look like someone pulled you through a taffy stretcher.” Lucas said as he stuck out his tongue.

“Hey, I can’t help it if the men in my family run tall. You should see my little brother. Remember Alfie? He’s 12 now and up to here.”  He held his hand out at chin level. “I told him he’s not allowed to get taller than me. Little shit laughed.  That’s what I get for making sure he got to eat every day.”

“You can’t help it if you’re a damn good big brother. It’s in your veins.” Lucas climbed into the bed and scooted over to allow Casey to get back into his own bed. “You seriously need to wash your sheets. Don’t you have someone that can do that for you?”

“Don’t like letting my foot soldiers into where I sleep... just incase any of them decide they wanna be boss someday. Making sure they don’t know all my bolt holes is what helps to keep me alive.” He said as he slid into the bed and offered his arms to Lucas for cuddles. “But if it will make you feel better I’ve got a girl who does my laundry already. I’ll try and remember to have her wash my sheets more often.”

“Good, cause these stink.” Lucas made a face, “Least you smell better.” He buried his face against Casey’s chest.

“Hey now. I’m not here to fuck you to feeling better.” Casey warned. “Cuddles only.”

“I know. Fucking you would be weird, really hot, but weird.” Lucas said with a soft laugh.

“Keep that really weird part in your head because I don’t want to wake up with your mouth on my cock... again”  He flicked Lucas on the nose.

“That only happened once and I was drunk.”

“You put the girl who had been in my bed in the memorial park on a bench with a note on her blanket that said Free to a Good home. I liked that girl.”

“No, you didn’t. You only liked her big tits.”

“They really were magnificent tits.” Casey said dreamily then laughed when Lucas poked him in the ribs. “Okay fine. Her voice was annoying and she would sometimes pick her nose in bed. But I still liked her and she never forgave me for what you did.”

“You can do better.” Lucas said as he barely suppressed a yawn.

“That is why I keep looking. I figure someday I’ll find a girl with enough sass to put up with my shit, and keep things interesting as we grow old and grey together.” Casey said as he ran his fingers through Lucas’s hair.

“Maybe you should look somewhere other than taverns.” the blonde mumbled.

“Unlike you sweetheart, I’m not invited to the fancy parties.” He lifted his head as he realized that Lucas was already asleep. “Just don’t drool on me this time... okay?”  With a smile he lay his head back upon the pillow and tried to find some sleep himself. He hoped Lucas would be okay by morning. He worried that the boy really wasn’t suited to the line of work he’d found himself in, he just didn’t have a true malicious streak in him. Sure he had his moments, but Lucas was too tender hearted for his own good. If he didn’t find a way out of this life soon, it might kill him.

Chapter 6

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