On The Cards

On The Cards
A Collaborative Effort

Story Notes

Created as a round-robin in 2001.

On The Cards

In the city of Immanion, no single event is so anticipated, so talked about and so dissected after the fact than the annual Tigron’s Cup race meeting. The elite of Wraeththu society go to great lengths to assure their presence, to compete for most elegant pavilion, to gossip over whom is wearing what and who is escorting who, while outside the members’ area, the lucky citizens who have managed to buy a ticket, spend their day watching the watchers. For the most part, the actual racing is secondary to the social shenanigans except, of course, when the racing becomes part of the show. The horses that race are not the legendary companions of the Gelaming, but ordinary steeds, without magical powers.

There was the incident two years ago, where it rained right before the flag fell on the Phaconian Two Year Old Handicap and the brown shoe polish on one of the entrants began to run, but no one cares to remember that, especially not the horse’s owner, a Gelaming har named Enron, who was mustered out of the Tigron’s guard and stripped of his rank.

But mostly, the ordinary citizens of Phaconia place their bets, drink their betica and wine and watch the goings-on in the filmy pavilions of the famous, or infamous, as the case may be. They comment over the arrival or non-arrival of certain prominent hara from the provinces and territories, discuss what they are wearing and whose tent is closer to the Tigron’s this year than it was last.

***

The day dawned bright and breezy. Flags and banners on the pavilions danced in the gentle eddies and the air was redolent of flowers, spice and all good things. Servants scurried about, filling ice buckets, washing strawberries and generally making certain that everything that was meant to be there, was there.

In the stables, the horses were being washed down, curry-combed and braided. Their wrappings were checked, their saddles oiled and their handlers had stopped for a quick breakfast before the owners arrived.

The crowds had begun to gather at the gates as soon as the sun rose, determined to get the best picnic spots beneath the perfectly trimmed trees that ringed the course. By mid-morning, most of the guests had arrived at the pavilions. . .

Most of the pavilions were flung wide open, so the little hara could have a good look at the goings-on among the great and famous (what joy is there in being a celebrity if you’re not stared at by the hoi polloi?), but one of the tents drew conspicuous glances by the mere fact that it was tightly closed. Something more important than mere society seemed to be going on in there, from the intermittent shouts that emerged from the closed flap.”Can you do it, you barbarian sorcerer, or can’t you? Or won’t you?” a grating voice was screaming inside. This was Fireblossom the Dark, Colurastes consort to one of Phaonica’s most highly-placed generals. “YOU told me to throw my lot in with the option that sounded least feasible – so I put all my money on that miserable beast, and now you tell me that you DIDN’T MEAN IT THAT WAY???”

“Ahem. I meant it more as general spiritual advice”, a glum voice with the most horrendous Thaine accent conceded.

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From Har to Maternity

From Har to Maternity
A Collaborative Round-Robin

Story Notes

This story was created as a round-robin back in 2001.

Here be parody and mayhem, caricatures and bejewelled livestock. Here be all manner of unsavoury ruffians and their wenches. Thou hast been warned. The characters in this ensemble bear no resemblance to any persons I know, nor do they bear that much resemblance to any of Storm’s characters; but that be a minor quibble.

From Har to Maternity

In the ballroom of Phaconia…

Cal twitched. Then he fidgeted. Pell shot him a sideways look. Cal sat still. When Pell looked away again, Cal scratched his crotch. He took another swig from the bottle he’d earlier purloined from a passing waiter, ignoring Pell’s dread look. He hated parties. No. Scratch that. He hated these parties. He liked good parties. This was not one of those. All the poseurs and wannabees preening and parading like prized bulls before the judges. How did Pell manage to keep a straight face. He watched one particular buffoon floating around amongst the guests, trying to impress.Rolling his eyes at the performance, he nudged Rue and indicated the overdressed har. Rue sniggered and Pell gave them both another of those looks. When he saw the object of their derision,however, Pell couldn’t contain himself and a tiny smile crossed his face.

All three of them felt the etheric blow as Thiede whopped them all upside the head.

-Behave yourselves.- He growled. -Or do I have to come down there?-

That’s not fair, Cal thought, idly rubbing his sore forehead. I’m forced to come to these things when I’d much rather be chasing Ashmael around the bed, and now, I’m not even allowed to think? The disembodied hand returned, patting him condescendingly on top of his blond head.

-Don’t think, Cal.- Thiede said soothingly. -You know it gives you a headache.-

Ah well. Perhaps Thiede was right. Maybe he should just go back to his second favourite sport, after Ashmael-chasing; people-watching. Cal pinched another bottle from the same waiter,who was returning from the distant kitchens where he’d gone for a reload. The harried waiter favoured him with a sour look on behalf of his sore feet and turned 180 degrees, heading back to the kitchens yet again. Now, Cal thought. Who’s who in Phaconia tonight?*

She was tall, that’s the first thing he noticed. Regal and aloof. Her black, wavy hair hung loose down her bare back, tied up at the sides with silver, ruby encrusted slides. Her eyes were black, with long lustrous lashes. Her garments were made of a shimmering, red material, that clung to her slender thighs and her ample breasts threatened to tumble out of their small covering. Her whole body was covered in sparkles, that reflected and shimmered in the bright lights of the ballroom. She came up to where Pell was seated and curtsied, never once lowering her eyes from his. Pell smiled and made a soft remark to Rue, who was completely unimpressed with this Kamagrian, who seemed to place herself above everyone else. Cal sitting on the other side asked who she was. “Parage. Her name is Celestial Firewalker.”

Hmmm, interesting. The Kamagrians were out of hiding. Ever since that little incident with Opalexian, the Garridan warrior and the stalk of rhubarb, the Kamagrians had been noticeable by their absence. It was good to see them back. Cal had begun to think they’d never get over the shame. As he took another swig, he noticed his waiter enter the room via another door. Cal decided he’d better slow down on the wine. He might not get a chance at another bottle.

Now, who else was here? Cal looked around.* He entered quietly, nodding courteously to guests as he passed them. Lithe, silent steps that sauntered coolly yet with purpose as he made his way towards the Triad. Calanthe’s eyes narrowed imperceptively………Thea?…….and then relaxed as he realized who it was and smiled wryly. This har always reminded him of Thea, he thought to himself and idly wondered whether Thea himself would be here tonight with his old friend Zack. The har made his way impressively towards the Trinity, turning heads as he went. He wore black leather trousers that hugged his lean hips sensuously and went on forever to disappear into thick, black, leather boots that reached just below his knees. A heavy but netted cream cotton shirt covered in silver embroidered symbols hung open at his throat where a necklace made of large opals nestled. The baggy sleeves of the shirt fluttered gently as he walked, clasped firmly around his wrists by large, sleek silver bracelets. He reached the dais and presented himself, bowing deeply, long luscious black hair falling forward. He straightened, looking up to see Cal grinning at him and he grinned back with mock annoyance on his face. It was plain to Rue that the har and Cal were obviously acquainted. Calanthe turned to Rue and Pell. “This is Ramestton Ava from the Ferike tribe. Met him when I was there with Thea.”

He then gestured for Rue to move in closer and they whispered for amoment while Pell’s attention was diverted elsewhere. The Tigron and Tigrina then glanced up, amusement glinting in their eyes and Cal addressed Ramestton, beckoning for him to come closer. The har smiled and came nearer.

Cal bent forward to whisper in his ear…. “Your zip’s undone, mate”.

Cal had the priceless joy of seeing the smile on Ramestton’s face collapse in double quick time.

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Deep in the Dark

Deep in the Dark
by Addie & Rameses

Introduction & Disclaimer

Credits & Acknowledgments:

To Storm, for letting us borrow her magnificent characters and making us learn new facets to their personalities.

And to my dearest friends who gave me much encouragement: Athena, my darling sis, who was so patient with me and let me have the fantastic honor of writing with her. *You’re a gem, love*

And to Mischa, the great connoisseur, whose keen-eyed editing called my attention to so many howlers and squiggles; and made this story come alive at Forever.

Spoilers: None

Characters: A Traveller, Calanthe, Pellaz, Caeru

Ratings: N/C 17 (Adult)

All items contained on these pages are non-profit amateur fiction. The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. No infringement on the copyrights are intended.

Deep in the Dark

Part 1 (Rameses)

The Traveller

He was dying.

There was no question of it. He knew it. He could feel it.

This was his life’s climax? To die in the arid wilderness with the colossal range of mountains about him as his pallbearers or rather pyre bearers? They stared down silently at him, against the still, blazing sun, casting monolithic triangular shapes. In order they stood, like sentry soldiers, lifeless yet erringly watchful. The mountains and the rest of Mother Nature waiting to eventually reclaim his wretched corpse. What position would his bones have as the sand-laden winds engulfed them? Would they be in this slightly propped up position he was presently in or in a tangled mass of indistinguishable bones – assuming he could persuade one of the boulders above to came crashing down on his body first? That thought made him smile and as he made to give that smile a voice, he was wracked by another fit of coughing that hacked at his insides and left him utterly breathless. He spat a blob of greenish phlegm swirling with clotted blood and wheezed raggedly, licking his chaffed, wounded lips with a dry blistered tongue. He stared dully at the splat of slime, laughter spent. He would reconsider much more carefully before attempting another bout of mirth.

There was nothing else to stare at, so he continued to stare at the vile mucus, which was already beginning to shrivel up on the scorching rocks beside him. If he stared at the open plains, they would only tantalize him with phantoms of paradise. He’d seen enough mirages for a lifetime.

After a while he felt the need to change position. He shut his eyes in preparation for the effort. Not that it helped anyway because the sun still cast a reddish tinge inside his eyelids. He clenched his jaw as he made to roll onto his side. His shattered lower right limb screamed in painful protest and he screamed with it. His whole body seared with barely endurable pain. It was useless so he gave up the task.

Yesterday, he would have been able to shift whenever he became too uncomfortable from either the sharp, jutting rocks prodding one side of his entire frame or the merciless sun that slowly roasted his skin but now, he couldn’t be bothered. Pain from the leg was another luxury entirely. At first, he had tried inflicting wounds on his arms with a jagged rock in order to relocate the excruciating pain coming from his leg, a trick he had learnt decades ago, but it was useless. The pain would not budge.

That morning at the first splash of dawn, he had awoken from his feverish sleep to find his tattered clothes covered in dew and had sucked the moisture from them, at times chewing the fabric to extract every precious iota of fluid. It had tasted salty, grainy and caked in dried sweat but it would help him live even if it was for a few more hours. He was glad he got to it before the sun did.

He squinted his eyes to look at “The Mountain That Did This To Me.” It was the name he had given it and had begun to make a habit of idly giving the said mountain a glance every now and then. He even spoke to it, muttering now, swearing loudly later. Well, there was nobody else for him to talk to while he waited for death. After all, the damned mountain was responsible for his condition. He had to blame someone. Or something. He was going mad, he thought. Perhaps it was just delirium. He shut his eyes briefly, flicked them open once more and looked intently at his nemesis, the mountain. It shimmered for a second as a heat wave passed over it and it looked distorted. But only for a moment. Ahhh. Delirium then, he concluded, relaxing his eyes once more.

He should give it a name. At least, he would feel that he had a sort of “friend” around him when the end came. Besides, he needed to get his friend’s consent to chuck a boulder on him to end it quickly and therefore needed a name. He wanted no mistake when the time came. It had to be that very mountain. It had to finish for itself what it had already started. He swore at it for the umpteenth time in a tired voice without bothering to open his eyes. Too much effort.

He shivered from the heat and flicked open his eyes. Had he been asleep? A name had come to him as he rested:

Doom Rock.

He would christen his lifeless friend Doom Rock. How appropriate. He chuckled softly and coughed again, though not as terribly as before. Weak fingers slithered around to find a cool spot on the rocks. They found none. He gave up and pushed his palms down anyway so that he could sit up a little, facing his companion.

“Hear that? I’ll call you Doom Rock!” he addressed the mountain. “Now all that’s left is for me to draw enough karmatic* energy to get you to rain your children down on me and end this.”

He slumped back, his rasping breath sounding piteously. Three sentences and he felt he had done fifty miles of running. And he wanted to perform a karmatic spell. Very great ambitions indeed. The same way he had great ambitions of coming to Immanion. He snorted softly and felt a sharp pain in his lungs. Nothing mattered anymore. Nothing. His mind was too filled with morbid thoughts of dying to bother much with what his body now did.

Was he bitter at the fate that had befallen him almost two days hence? Oh yes. Dreadfully bitter. Only at first. Now, he could see that it was meant to be this way. What a glorious end to so much suffering! He had always wanted to go out with a bang. Well, not this time, maybe next life. He found it fascinating how slow death brought out the dark humour in him and fuelled an impatient urge to embrace the beyond… wherever that was. He chuckled hoarsely at his latest witty remark. Yesterday had been for hope, for life; but now he had resigned himself to his fate and he just wanted it done with. He wanted to die now, no more postponements.

Finding Immanion should have been his one salvation. He had hated his life and wanted it ended but thought he would give it one more try and find healing with the Gelaming. He had survived the robbery and travelled on foot this far. They said the Great City of the Tigron was near here. He had met only a huge range of mountains, stolidly glaring back at him. No matter, he had proclaimed, I will climb over them. No mountain in the universe would prevent him from reaching his goal. He had been wrong.

The climbing had been smooth but tiring. It chewed at his finger tips, bruising them raw, but he had kept on. I am almost there, he kept muttering to himself, exulting in the way the adrenalin kept his tired body going. He should have stopped but he was too excited to give in to that luxury. Dusk was swiftly approaching. Once more, an inner voice chided him to stop and rest on a nearby ledge. He refused to heed that call. Immanion was so tantalizingly close! He had dreamed of this for years and now that he was almost there, he dared not stop.

One false step in the encroaching darkness was all that was needed. He fell, battering his body as he plummeted. He heard his right leg snap. Once. Twice. He lost count. By the time he slammed at the base of the mountain, he was unconscious.

The first day had passed, with the heat, the pain and the troubles that befell him keeping him in constant mood swings. He had raged, wept, screamed, whispered, laughed, cried and reminisced about his whole life; the tragedies, the too brief periods of joy, the grief, the meager triumphs, the sufferings. All of it.

Somewhere in between, he had started talking to the mountains, singling out his nemesis. By high afternoon, he could smell his skin burning and at least had the energy to shift positions and hide in the shelter of the shadows about him. Hope had kept his energy up. Hope that somebody would come rescue him. That hope had quickly slunk to become despair and the two emotions kept swinging before him like the two-sided head of the god Janus. The Gelaming were supposed to be all-seeing, were they not? Why weren’t they here? He didn’t want to die. Someone had to come, he was sure of it. But nobody came.

The second day was here. He was beginning to regret not using his karmatic energy to kill himself earlier when he still had the strength. Too scared to die at my own hands or being too stupid to think that some Good Samaritan would come passing by and save me. Too late now. He hadn’t enough strength to even crawl behind the shade of one of the nearby rocks as he had done the day before. He must have an amazing, gorgeous tan by now, he thought wryly. How he wished it was only that. His pale skin had always been sensitive to too much sun. He could feel the sunburn everywhere on him, regardless of exposed skin or not.

His breathing was becoming irregular. He felt very tired. Yeah, okay what else is new?

He involuntarily shivered again from the heat. His head swam and he could no longer feel his ruined leg. Just as well. He coughed disastrously once more, his lungs felt as if stabbed with hot knives. His noises echoed around him. He spat more mucus, now it was mostly blood. The broken ribs had gored his lungs, going much deeper than he thought. The rasping was now more pronounced and he could feel himself getting weaker. Hooray, he thought listlessly. It comes at last. He struggled to open his blood-encrusted eyes to look at Doom Rock.

“Looks like I won’t be needing your help after all, old friend,” he croaked.

His eye caught something white and shimmering in the distance. It looked like horses. White horses. Must be a mirage… No. Gelaming on white horses. His mind was playing games. He closed his eyes and fell into that sweet void that had been eluding him for so long. He had found his peace. His last thought was… “Finally”

* Footnote:

Karmatic energy is one of the new skills that the Wraeththu have managed to discover shortly after the ascension of Thiede and Calanthe’s coronation. It involves being able to tap into the life-force energies of nature or supposedly inanimate, non-living objects and mould it to work for the har wielding it. Only hara of Algoma (the highest caste of the second level Ulani) and above possess the talent to use this power. It is called karmatic because it is not the har that is creating the energy but rather him tapping into it, for instance, a rock’s energy and using it briefly, before returning the energy back to the object. As such, no new energy is created, neither is any destroyed. Both the living hara and the inert object get the psychic energies back once the spell is completed.

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A Culture Shock

A Culture Shock
by Addie & Paula

Introduction & Disclaimer

This is collaborative story with each writer writing from the POV of a different character. Addie is Magpie and Paula is Rondo.

All items contained on these pages are non-profit amateur fiction. The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. No infringement on the copyrights are intended.

To contact the authors, email Addie (addief@usermail.com) or Paula (pellsfan@yahoo.com).

A Culture Shock

– 1 –

Magpie

I felt like I had been running for hours. Perhaps I had. My lungs were about to burst, and my legs felt like jelly. But I had to get away from them. Whatever they were.

Freaks…perverts.

I only stopped because I had come to the edge of the sea. For a few moments I considered just walking into the surf and drowning myself. But I couldn’t do it. Something stopped me. Probably a fear of dying. But I should have died after they had done *that* to me…the pain was enough. There were times in those few days when I had prayed for my life to end.

I looked out into the tumbling waves, at the kids tousled in them, body boarding and swimming into the shore like salmon on their last ride up the river. So happy they were…carefree…enjoying life. I flopped down into the soggy sand, letting the water ripple over my aching and burning legs. They looked normal enough…my legs that is. A bit skinny, with very fair hair, five toes on each foot. I held my hands up to my face. Yep…five fingers on each one, but there were hardly any lines on my palms. They looked new. I felt new. In fact I had so much energy that I felt as though I could run for another few hours.

I touched my face, which felt smooth and unblemished. That’s one good thing I thought, the two or three pimples on my chin had gone, but so had the few whiskers I had been nurturing. Shit! What else did they do to me? Shave all my body hair off! My arms were as smooth as a baby’s bum. I looked down at my body, trying not to appear too obvious about checking myself out. One little kid, making a sand castle on the edge of the waves was already looking at me funny.

I smiled at him, and he chortled to himself, then went back to his pile of slushy sand.

It was worrying me, now that I had stopped being terrified and angry and confused, just how else had I changed? I flicked my hair behind my ears…well at least they hadn’t shaved my head…I hated the thought of being bald. My dad was bald…well nearly. Although he wouldn’t admit it.

It was all Dane’s fault. This whole fiasco. My best mate Dane. Together since kindy. Since that first day when I wet my pants and he did the same, just so I wouldn’t feel bad. All through primary school, then high school. Mucking about together, getting drunk, trying to play football…checking me out in the shower. That’s what gave it away really, I suppose, when I come to think of it. Dane, being more interested in looking at my bum, than at Sarah, with the blonde hair and big boobs.

But he was still my mate even if he did like the fellas. Through thick and thin. He wasn’t a prissy boy…he was strong and tall, with black hair, one blue eye and one green…excellent physique. It was me they thought was gay. Me with the slender frame, almost too pretty face, blonde curls. God how I hated my curls. I always tried so hard to prove that I wasn’t gay. Acting macho, trying to be cool. Taking all the knocks on the football field just to be one of them. One of the guys.

Yeah, it was all Dane’s fault. If he hadn’t talked me into going to that party, it wouldn’t have happened. I should have known they were a bit suss. They weren’t our normal mates. Dane wanted to come out. He had decided he wanted the world to know…so he had begun to hang out with this group of real weirdos.

Very strange bods. Some of them looked more like birds, and I thought they were transvestites or something. And some of them…well I couldn’t work out what some of them were. Tian was OK. He was friendly and smart. I think he was studying electronic engineering at university. But some of the others…well weird was actually too tame a word for them. Sometimes Spider – yeah, he swore it was his real name – looked feminine, sometimes he looked like a bloke. And they were all off with each other all the time. Sick!!

I was just thinking about the argument Dane and I had had about going to this party the weirdos had organised, when the little kid in the shallows threw wet sand into my face. I swore at him, splashed some water over him and walked up towards the loo. I needed to take a piss and I was nervous. You see, when the pain had gone, and the weirdos plonked me in the bath again, I didn’t open my eyes. I still had them squeezed shut when they dressed me, their soft hands touching me all over, ooohhing and aahhing. Perverts.

I had sat in that darkened room, with just a single candle in the windowsill, when Tian came in to talk to me. At least, at first I thought he had just come in to talk to me, but I reckon he had something else on his warped brain. He kept smiling at me and trying to get me to calm down. Perhaps I should have listened to what he was saying…but when he leant forward and tried to kiss me…I panicked. I fled, that’s what I did…ran and ran and ran. And here I am…about to take a piss and nervous as all hell.

The toilet block smelt like the beach, probably because half of it was in there on the floor. Sand and water all over the place, and little kids under the shower, plugging up the hole, causing even more water to flood the floor. Not really a very conducive place to discover oneself, now was it? But I was desperate, just about to pee my pants in fact. For some reason, maybe it was a premonition, maybe it was something Tian had told me and I hadn’t taken in at the time, but I decided to go into the stall and not piss in the urinal. Just as well.

I unzipped my pants and took hold of myself. Can you imagine what it would be like to find that what you normally thought you had between your legs, had been transformed. Not transformed as in grown…but literally, fucking changed…like in having petals and being purple and glowing. Fuck….I was glowing. If I hadn’t had to pee so badly, I would have turned and ran…but the damn thing would only have followed me. I stuck my fist in my gob and forced down the scream. I still gurgled though and groaned, as my piss came out of *that* thing.

When I had finished, I stuck it back in my trousers and zipped it up tight, then leant back against the door. I was breathing so hard and still making these funny little snufflng sounds. Oh God!!! I was deformed. I was a weirdo. I had a bloody flower in my pants.

Someone was banging on the door asking me if I was all right. No, I wasn’t all right, I may never be all right again. But I didn’t tell them that. I mumbled something incoherent and ran out of the toilet, and guess what? I kept running. This was getting ridiculous. But at that moment it was all I could think of doing. It kept my mind off my body and that *thing* and made me concentrate on not running into traffic, or into a ditch, or off a cliff.

But a weirdo cannot live on running alone, so I eventually stopped again when I realised I had run from the beach right into the city, which is about 15 miles. I was puffed, and the mucles in my calves were hurting, so I decided to find a quiet place to sit down. Perfect! I was at the library…my favourite place in the world, and it was open. Even better. I flashed my card at the librarian, asked if any computers were free…they were, found one and sat down.

The guy next to me said hi and winked. If I hadn’t been so knackered, I would have sworn at him and left. But just to not feel my feet pounding on the pavement and to rest my back against the chair, was bliss…so I ignored him. For a few moments I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I needed to talk to someone, but not just anyone. My friend Rondo. He always seemed to understand me, was always happy to hear from me…so I typed in my net name, Magpie, then Rondo’s email address. My fingers were trembling as the words began to flow out of me.

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And The Tale Is Told

And The Tale Is Told
by Addie Fielding
May 2001

Introduction & Disclaimer

This is cross-over between Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. It’s also a sequel to a previous cross-over story, “Walking Away.”

Warning: NC-17 adult situation – m/m.

Spoilers: None for the Vampire Chronicles, as this is set in the future. For Cal, this is set in the period he was wandering after the “death” of Pell, his lover.

All items contained on these pages are non-profit amateur fiction. The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. All characters named in the Vampire Chronicles, are copyright of Anne Rice and her publishers. No infringement on the copyrights are intended. These stories are for personal enjoyment only and should be reproduced, electronically or otherwise, only for this purpose and never for profit of any sort.

To contact the author, email addief@usermail.com.

And The Tale Is Told

– 1 –

Pellaz sat in the inner sanctum of the temple, talking quietly with the spirit of Thiede. It was something he liked to do every few days. It kept him on the right path, kept him balanced and besides, he just enjoyed chatting with his old mentor. Thiede could be contacted anywhere, at any time of the day or night, but Pell liked this quiet place, with its marble floors, soft cushions and the sweet smell of incense.

Pellaz quite often discussed the business of his Kingdom with him, but also found it a good opportunity to talk about Cal and Rue. If they had both been bothering him, for some inane reason or another, then Thiede had a good pair of ears. He never judged, Pell wouldn’t let him for a start. On this occasion, it was Cal he was ranting about. He told him that he simply wouldn’t open up to him about his travels. Pell wanted to know everything that had happened to him. All the gory details. But Pell knew that he was holding something back.

Cal seemed quite happy to talk about his imprisonment by Thiede, after he had been travelling with Swift and Leef. He mentioned Cobweb briefly, and Pell had made a mental note to look him up again one day. He even talked a little about his adventures with Panthera and this reunion with Zackala. But Pell knew there had been more. Cal insisted that anything else was simply too boring to talk about, or that he had simply forgotten.

“Surely you were watching him all the time, Thiede. What is he holding back?”

“I didn’t watch him all the time, Pell. I did have other things to keep my mind occupied. Like one slightly headstrong Tigron and his equally headstrong Tigrina. Any how, why do you need to know everything that happened to him? He was wandering for 30 odd years. It’s all past, and should be forgotten. All you need to concentrate on now is how you can work together to build a better future.”

“I just get this feeling every now and then, that someone from his past, who was very important, is about to pop up again and disrupt things.”

“I’m sure you will be strong enough to handle any one, Pellaz. Stop worrying.”

But Pell couldn’t help it. Once when they had been snuggled together after a rather strenuous bout of aruna, Cal had called out a strange name. It was garbled, but Cal’s words had been full of passion. Why was he worrying about this one in particular. He knew that Cal had shared his body and his mind with many on his travels. In fact Cal had probably truly forgotten half of them, but this one was different. When Cal awoke some mornings he had an eerie expression on his face, and when questioned would shy away from him.

“Look, Cal.” Pell would say. “I’m not jealous. I’ve heard of your trysts with Cobweb and his hostling Swift. I have even had dealings with Swift and I like him immensely. I’ve met your Panthera, who is extremely happy with Zack. So why can’t you talk about them all? Why can’t you tell me about the one who’s name is on your lips sometimes when you awaken in a sweat?”

“I don’t remember who it is, Pell. Just leave it. It’s not important.”

But Pell wasn’t so sure.

Pell left the temple that evening, feeling annoyed and tired. Cal had been busy with Ashmael for the whole of the day, and Thiede had been unusually quiet on the subject of Cal. Usually he couldn’t stop talking about him. Pell had the feeling that something strange was about to happen. As he walked along the pristine corridors that led between the temple and his private quarters he was sure he was being followed. It was an entirely ridiculous assumption, as he knew these private areas were extremely well protected by guards. In fact the guards were dotted all along the walkway, and nodded to him with respect as he passed. Vaysh, was also with him, and was walking a little way behind, his head buried in some important notes.

Pellaz stopped and looked back, Vaysh not being aware that he had, ran straight into him. “Pell, what’s the matter?”

“Did you hear something?”

Vaysh looked at Pellaz as if he thought his Tigron has lost his mind. “No, Pell. I didn’t hear anything. There is nothing to hear. No one uninvited can enter here. There are guards everywhere. What the problem?”

“It’s just that I have this strange feeling that something is about to happen.”

“Are you saying you have had a premonition?”

‘No, not exactly. I think somewhere is here who shouldn’t be.”

Vaysh put his folder down on a bench and took hold of Pellaz’s shoulders. “You are working too hard. You need to get more rest. Let Cal take over a few of your duties for a while. Come, we’ll have some wine, then you can get an early night.”

Pellaz nodded. Vaysh was always right. His imagination was playing tricks on him. He decided he would do just what Vaysh had suggested and when they reached the door to his rooms, he called upon one of his servants to fetch a tray of food and some wine. He would sit with Vaysh for a while, then turn in early. He could feel his muscles relaxing as he drank and talked to Vaysh, who seemed to be in an unusually talkative mood. After their jug of wine was finished, Vaysh excused himself and Pell moved into his bedroom, to undress for bed.

The night was warm, and his room was a little stuffy, so he opened the windows that led to his balcony. He stood there for a few minutes, completely naked, knowing that no one could see into his little patio that was surrounded by ferns and other exotic plants. He loved feeling the breeze flow over his body. He pulled the tie from his hair and let it tumble down his back, then lifted his face to the moon. Just as he was about to step back inside he saw a shadow flit across the ground.

Concerned for his safety, Pell hid behind one of the ferns and peered out. He couldn’t see or hear anything and with his mind began to scan the area. He didn’t discern anything untoward. Thinking that he was just being paranoid, he stepped out from his hiding place and began to make his way across the patio to his bed, that was just beyond the open doors.

“So he found you?”

Pell spun around at the sound of the soft voice behind him.

“Who are you and how did you get in here?” Pellaz was a little concerned and with his mind called for assistance from his guards.

“No point in doing that,” his visitor informed him. I have blocked your thoughts.

“Really?” Pell answered, unconvinced and began to call again, out loud this time.

“You are just as stubborn as him, aren’t you?” The visitor had moved a little out of the shadows now and Pell stepped back with surprise. The visitor was handsome, in an evil sort of way, with pale skin and shimmering eyes.

“Who? What are you talking about?”

The visitor sighed deeply. “Ah! He hasn’t told you about me then?”

“I can only assume you mean Cal.”

“Perceptive of you. Oui, Cal is the Har I was talking about. Where is he by the way, I would love to catch up with him?”

“What makes you think he would want to see you?” Pellaz was more angry now than concerned, and was just about to move past the stranger and call for his guards again when he spied some one else lurking in the shadows.

“The guards are asleep Tigron. Slack of them really.” The visitor seemed amused and the smile on his face made him look young and vulnerable. Pell wasn’t convinced, however, that this stranger was benevolent and he was just as unsure of the creature that now showed himself.

“Lestat, you can be so intimidating sometimes. Just introduce yourself and tell him your business. I am Louis du Pointe du Lac, at your service.” The other visitor bowed slightly in a very old fashioned and almost human manner.

“Pleased, I’m sure.” Pell replied sarcastically. “Well now that the introductions are over, are you going to tell me what you are doing here and how you got into my private quarters?”

“Well the second part was easy. You see we can fly…” Lestat halted for a few seconds to allow this revelation to sink in to a slightly shocked Pell. “The first part is simple really. I am just dropping in on an old friend and lover…Calanthe, your other half, I believe.”

As Pell tried to take in all that was being said to him, he realised he was still completely naked, except for the shimmering cover of his long hair. Slightly embarrassed he went to move past them, but Louis pre-empted his need and handed over his robe that had been hanging on the end of his bed. “Is this what you are looking for?” He was smiling now, and Pell stared into his verdant green eyes as he took the robe and hastily put it on.

Pell shivered just slightly as Louis continued to stare with his strange eyes gliding up and down as if assessing him. But for what? As the three of them moved into his lighted bedroom, Pell got a proper look at them and gasped, the sound of his sharp intake of breath, echoing off the walls. “By the Aghama, what are you?”

“Why don’t you sit down, Pellaz, and call upon your consort. I’m sure Calanthe will fill you in, on “what” we are.”

Pell was slightly affronted at the casual use of his name. “I’m Tigron, and you should call me that at all times.”

“Oh, I do apologise, Tigron. Well, do you want to call him, or will I? I think it might be better coming from you though.”

‘Yes, yes, or course.” Pell put rubbed his temple with his fingertips and sent a cryptic message. ::Calanthe, your lost memory has just resurfaced. Would you care to join us?::

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