After the tension of dealing with Meric, Darion and Tolrek get some much-needed relaxation at Ashrom’s villa, in Vaironian Tides, Chapter 40. Here’s an excerpt:
Tolrek laughed loudly and Darion decided it was best not to ask Tezza exactly what rumors she meant. Having teased them enough to her liking, she was attempting to leave the bed, when Najrina added to the madness. The hettira pounced, following Tezza’s example. One of Najrina’s paws landed on Darion’s groin.
Darion deals with Meric Treih for his actions against Vaironia and Tildar, in Vaironian Tides, Chapter 38. Here’s an excerpt:
“I assure you, this is no game,” Darion responded calmly, his state of mind that of the cold negotiator who had risen rapidly up the ranks. He opened the box, pulled out a meticulously designed platinum gauntlet and placed it onto his left hand. Tolrek looked at Ashrom, noting how keenly Darion’s older brother was watching the proceedings.
Darion deals with Tolrek’s frustration about the challenges he faced during the past few years, in Vaironian Tides, Chapter 37. Here’s an excerpt:
Darion covered Tolrek’s left hand, which had formed a fist on the table. Then, he squeezed Tolrek’s arm to soothe his lover, who refused the attempt at comfort. Instead, Tolrek stood and left the dining room, going out to the balcony. The crisp night air of the empire’s capital cooled his skin. He took several deep breaths, as he tried to get himself under control, gripping the marble banister of the balcony. A chunk of it crumbled and fell to the manicured lawn below. His eyes traveled the length of the balcony’s banister and saw that various cracks had appeared through it.
In Vaironian Tides, Chapter 36, Tolrek finds out more about the genetic engineering program on Ledano. The knowledge he gains will have far-reaching consequences for him and Darion. Here’s an excerpt:
Ashrom observed Tolrek and Kyan, as they played with Najrina. They were on the security compound’s large, enclosed field. Kyan would try to run past Tolrek and Najrina, dodging the two of them. He’d laugh loudly, when Tolrek would grab him or Najrina would carefully tackle him. When they took a break from their game of tag, Kyan showed Tolrek the martial arts techniques Ashrom had taught him. It was during that demonstration, when Darion found Ashrom. The negotiator had returned from a briefing with the Vaironian Prime Minister, Beilon and other high-ranking VSB officials. He’d received strict directions to let events with Meric proceed, as the Tildari desired.
Ashrom informs Darion and Tolrek about Meric’s clandestine activities in Vaironian Tides, Chapter 35. Here’s an excerpt:
“We’d first heard rumors of Ledano’s experimental program about ten years ago,” Ashrom began to explain. “We weren’t completely convinced about the civil war. Various details made us suspicious. Ledano was still trading with our merchants. They’d barred all other nations but they were afraid to shut down commerce with us and anger us. Ledano is the strongest in its sector but not as strong as Tildar. For years, it delicately managed its relationship with us. After all, not pissing off an empire has its benefits. At any rate, we began to use our merchants as a source of information. We’d been interested in certain resources that Ledano has but we didn’t imagine what else we’d find; certainly not this program. Behadan Kyniska had cautioned that we’d primarily monitor what was taking place, in case we were misunderstanding the situation. We’re now prepared to share that information with you.”