Tybris walked to the first of three cells and sat down in the chair outside the one that held Rasmus.
“So, here are your circumstances,” he began. “You’re going to provide me with services. You’ve been quite helpful to my uncle but it’s time for you to change your focus. I want you to tell me all of Dagmar’s plans.”
“What makes you think I know anything?” Rasmus asked. He propped himself up on one elbow, continuing to lay nonchalantly on the cot that had been provided for him. “You can hold me here for another week but I’ve no incentive to help you. I’ll just consider this a bit of a vacation. Soon, Dagmar will get tired of you.”
“Let’s stop with the games,” Tybris said, as he chuckled. He forced his eyes to avoid sweeping down Rasmus’ muscular body and tried to focus on his goal. “I’m sure we can be beneficial to each other. I can’t imagine you enjoy being Uncle Dagmar’s minion.”
Rasmus was staring resolutely at him. It had been several weeks since the covert squad that worked for Tybris had forced Rasmus from his home. He hadn’t been treated poorly but that didn’t automatically mean that he had to be cooperative. After years of working for Dagmar, he wasn’t particularly eager to become more entrenched with the Havad clan. Yet, that didn’t stop him from entertaining himself. A small smile graced his face, as he commenced to play with Tybris.
“What makes you think I want to be a pawn for you?” Rasmus asked.
“You don’t have to present the situation that way,” Tybris said, affecting an even more conciliatory tone. “I merely want your assistance in removing my uncle, before he drives our clan into the ground. I don’t know all of what he’s doing but what I’ve found out so far isn’t good. I know you don’t like him. You were just looking for a way to raise the status of your clan. Why don’t you want to listen to my ideas?”
“It isn’t about what I ‘want’,” Rasmus responded drily. “Besides, you’ve kept me locked up here. While you haven’t tortured me, I’m less than inclined to—”
“Actually, the door to your cell has always been unlocked,” Tybris replied, as a grin spread across his face.
“The hell it has!” Rasmus shouted, quickly sitting up. His desire to be carefree suddenly disappeared. He suspected the direction Tybris was headed and immediately disliked it. As he dreaded, Tybris confirmed his suspicions.
“The spell I cast on you tells me so much about your mindset,” Tybris said, as a gleam of triumph came into his eyes. “You believed you were imprisoned and so you actually were. I never locked that door and none of my staff was instructed to treat you like a prisoner.”
“Why are you trying to mess with my mind?” Rasmus demanded.
“I guess you’ll stay in there, until you figure it out,” Tybris said. “At your skill level, you should have been able to break my spell earlier. You should think about why you’ve locked in yourself. In the meantime, I’ll tell your brother, once again, that I’m not keeping you prisoner.”
Tybris left the jail, closed the thick iron door and leaned against it. He breathed deeply, thinking about the fierceness in Rasmus’ expressive blue eyes. He believed that Rasmus would release himself soon. Tybris wasn’t sure what to expect after that. Either he’d made a wise gamble or he was going to pay dearly. He smiled as he slipped his hand to his crotch. His cock had hardened, as he’d thought about the consequences of his bold move.
Izdahl looked over at his lover, who was slowly awakening. Armando stretched and then groaned, as his neck, back, thighs and ass ached from the vigorous night. When he opened his eyes, he smiled languidly at Izdahl, remembering how his lover had pressed him into the mattress, fucking him ardently, making him beg until his voice was hoarse.
“Another round,” Izdahl suggested, grinning lecherously at Armando. He slapped the architect possessively on his rear and then squeezed the firm flesh affectionately. “It would be a great way to start our day.”
“No,” Armando told him emphatically. He peered at the clock. “You’ll be late for your training session. Your instructor won’t be happy!”
“Come on, ‘Mando,” Izdahl coaxed, his voice a deep rumble. “My need is great.”
“I know,” Armando assured him. He groaned, as he tried to resist Izdahl. “My body can tell the tales.”
“Are you alright?” Izdahl asked, concern infused into his voice.
“I’m fine,” Armando told him, stroking his face tenderly. “I really enjoyed myself.”
“More than usual?”
“More than usual,” he confirmed. He stopped Izdahl’s roaming hands. “Get in the shower and head to your training.”
Izdahl grumbled playfully and then slipped from their bed, to do as he was ordered. When he returned from his shower, Armando began drying him off, as they talked about the increased expectations of his instructor.
“This session probably won’t be as bad as you think,” Armando said, removing moisture from Izdahl’s back.
“I never know what to expect from Metienne,” Izdahl said. “And now, she’s getting more demanding. She doubled the amount of practice; I’ve needed to take time off from work to fulfill my tournament commitments.”
“How did your father react?” Armando asked, as he dried Izdahl’s hair. “I know how strong of a work ethic he has. Was he upset?”
“To the contrary. He was very encouraging, as he understands that the competitions will be here soon. Besides, the last time I took any days off was when we went to Naktun Island.”
“So, almost a year…”
“Yes and it was quite memorable for me,” Izdahl said, grinning fondly.
Armando’s cheeks heated with embarrassment, as he thought of the impressive underwater blowjob he’d given his lover.
“I follow the trail of your thoughts,” he admitted, laughing softly.
“And I certainly won’t mind a repeat,” Izdahl assured him.
“Perhaps it will happen sooner than you expect,” Armando offered, biting him on his shoulder. “But you do need to get going.”
Six hours later, Izdahl returned home and requested that Armando prepare him a bath. When the water was ready, he slid into it, groaning as his overworked muscles complained.
“Was it so unbearable?” Armando asked, as he gingerly massaged Izdahl’s shoulders.
“Horrible,” Izdahl grumbled. “And no sex tonight, no matter how much you want me.”
He flinched, even from his lover’s careful ministrations and Armando stopped touching him.
“I’m sorry,” Armando told him. “I didn’t mean to make you feel worse.”
“I know you’re only trying to help,” Izdahl said. Then, he cursed adding, “This is no way to spend any part of a weekend.”
“I’ll give you some alone time,” Armando murmured.
He was heading back into the bedroom, when Izdahl called out for him. Izdahl was at an awkward angle and didn’t have the strength to get into a comfortable position. He’d used most of his energy returning home.
“Come help me; please ‘Mando,” Izdahl requested. He looked at his lover with a plaintive expression on his face.
Armando stifled a smile and returned to Izdahl, helping him to readjust in the tub.
“It wouldn’t be so bad, if Metienne didn’t forbid me from using any healing spells,” Izdahl muttered. “I love that you take care of me but this is still fucking embarrassing.”
“It’s not as if I respect you less,” Armando assured him, as he gently poured soothing water over Izdahl’s shoulders and back. “I admire what you’re doing.”
“Then, will you come to my next session?” Izdahl asked. “I continue to get my ass kicked but I think I’m good enough to impress you.”
“I thought Metienne didn’t want anyone there, while you were training.”
“She’s permitting me to let you come watch. She said that I’m now at a point where I shouldn’t embarrass myself too much.”
“She doesn’t hesitate to bruise your body or your ego,” Armando said, laughing loudly. “I could really enjoy talking to her.”
“Wait until you meet her. She might have some choice words for you too.”
“What does that mean?” Armando asked, feeling a little wary.
“I’m not telling,” Izdahl replied, as he smiled secretively.
Armando lightly cuffed him on his head and Izdahl grunted out a complaint.
“Apologies,” Armando said, giving him a tender kiss on his cheek. “I forgot you’re delicate right now. Let me take care of you.”
Izdahl sighed, as Armando lovingly bathed him, reducing the aches and pains from his practice.
“I think this will all be worth it,” Izdahl murmured.
“I do too,” Armando agreed. “The commercials for the Elite Tournament are already showing on TV. Everyone at the office plans to go, even our newest employee, Seiji, who still has some fear of Nitelge.”
“Why is he afraid of Nitelge?” Izdahl asked, frowning.
“He used to live close to where that battle happened,” Armando explained. “His home was one of the many destroyed and he was separated from the rest of his family. He was only five at the time and it took almost a month to find even one of his family members.”
“That battle scarred so many,” Izdahl said. “At times, I’m surprised that the clans even continued with the Gathering. There’s still a fair level of distrust at them. I’m not sure if adding humans will help or hinder. Some Nitelge remain unhappy that humans will be allowed at the upcoming Gatherings.”
“We have to move forward, somehow,” Armando stated emphatically. “I know not everyone handles trauma the same. I just hope that if I can handle losing my parents, then others can deal with their pain from the battle.”
“I wish the same. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant for those who hold grudges.” Izdahl looked intently into Armando’s eyes. “I want you to be aware of your surroundings, especially during these next few months.”
“I promise I’ll be careful,” Armando told him. “With that said, let’s return to an earlier conversation…I’d like to go see the statue of Zaitis again. Remember, we talked about this last month. So, I was thinking tomorrow was the best day and…” Armando faltered, halted by the displeasure that was on Izdahl’s face.
“I forbid you,” Izdahl told him in a flat tone, taking him by surprise.
“You forbid me?” Armando asked, incredulous.
“Yes; you heard me.”
When Izdahl’s unyielding demeanor didn’t change, Armando laughed and his stubbornness rose to the surface.
“I’m not asking your permission.”
Izdahl bit back a reply that would have been acidic. His anxiety from when Armando had been in a coma mixed with his frustration about Armando’s persistence. Armando searched his lover’s eyes and then sighed, understanding what the deeper issue was. He opted to give Izdahl time to wrestle with his emotions.
“I’m going to make dinner,” Armando said, as he stood. “Finish your bath. We’ll settle this later.”
A resolution didn’t come as soon as he’d hoped. Even as they lay in bed that night, they still hadn’t spoken of Armando’s plan to see the statue of Zaitis. Beside him, Armando could definitely feel the heaviness of his lover’s heart. Unable to sleep, he reached out for Izdahl.
“I can’t accept you being controlling,” he told Izdahl, quietly. “That’s the case, even when it’s out of concern for me.”
“I know,” Izdahl responded, his voice trembling slightly. “I’m sorry I said that I forbid you. I thought it was at least worth a try.”
“It’s not that I don’t care about you being worried. It’s just that some things are unfinished. Please understand. I’ve been pulled towards that statue of Zaitis for a long time. I feel I’m on the verge of figuring out why.”
“Then I’ll support you.” Izdahl gripped Armando to him tightly. “Please let me go with you.”
Satisfied that he’d at least reduced Izdahl’s fears, Armando closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. While he rested, his body, mind and soul continued to change, further awakening and preparing him for what was to come.
He dreamt of the destination where he intended to go the next morning. As in the other dreams he’d had about the statue, it was fully assembled. Zaitis was casually leaning against it.
“We meet again,” Zaitis said, welcoming him with a smile. “I told you before that you would need me. Now, it’s time to unlock what’s in your mind.”
Zaitis held out his left hand. A crescent moon over a heptagon with a sphere at the center of it appeared as a holographic image in his hand. The image spun, triggering memories from Armando’s childhood.
Armando awoke soon after the dream and was compelled to draw what he’d seen. Accustomed to having Armando nearby, Izdahl was aware when his lover left their bed.
“What’s wrong, ‘Mando’?” Izdahl asked, drowsily.
“I have it,” Armando whispered, staring at the image.
“The mark on the one who killed my parents; I completely remember it.”