Fated Obsession

Monthly Challenge SubmissionFated Obsession
by Oshun

Story Notes

This is a story written from the POV of Seel that attempts to explore how he might have struggled to come to terms with his initial attraction to Swift. In Bewitchments Swift tells us his side of the story in poignant detail, but I was curious as what Seel endured during that same pre-Grissecon period. It is neither flagrantly AU nor austerely canon and is influenced by, but not necessarily entirely faithful to, Thevina’s interpretation of the relationship between Ashmael and Seel in her story “Interpret Me the Savage Whirr.” I want to thank Elfscribe for her sympathetic and encouraging Beta. Any remaining failings are my own.

Author’s Email: heartofoshun@aol.com

Web page: http://heartofoshun.livejournal.com/

Pairings: Ashmael/Seel, Cal/Swift, Chrysm/Swift, Seel/Swift (none explicit, all implied or foreshadowed)

Overall Rating: R

Word Count: 2,344

Spoilers: The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure

Disclaimer: The characters, plot and setting all belong to Storm Constantine.

Fated Obsession

Seel stepped out into the last bright rays of sunlight as Imbrilim slipped from late afternoon into early evening. Looking at the banners and flags wafting in the summer breeze and the undulating movement of the multihued sides of the tents and pavilions of the encampment, he wondered how all of this appeared to Swift the Varr. He tried to imagine himself as a newly incepted har viewing Imbrilim for the first time through the prism of his own childhood. To Seel, this entire scene, part military outpost, part fantastic carnival or bazaar, would have conjured up dreamlike settings from a tale of exotic Arabian nomads or perhaps a gathering of fair knights and heroic kings.

Swift, however, was nothing like him: a pureborn, most likely woefully lacking in education and with no comparable cultural references. He wondered what Swift’s home had been like. What depravity had he participated in or witnessed? When they had come upon him at the edge of the Forest of Gebaddon, filthy, grey with exhaustion, skinny, and filled with fear, he had responded with courage. Swift had stood up to the Gelaming force that confronted him, not as the snarling half-feral harling Seel had expected, but as an intelligent young har concerned more for the welfare of his companions than for himself. In spite of everything, an air of entitlement hung over Swift, poignantly mixed with wistful hopefulness and a desire to trust. The presence of such qualities would generally reflect that one’s upbringing had included loving care and attention. None of these observations matched what Seel thought he knew of Terzian or of the Varrs in general.

Seel could not guess what lay behind those wide-set dark eyes: innocence or corruption. One thing he did know was that they had nothing in common. Seel perpetually sought peace and enlightenment while Swift surely had been schooled in violence. Seel cultivated a near-ascetic self-control while the Varrish youngster fairly crackled with arunic precocity and unselfconscious sensuality, undoubtedly encouraged by Cal. They did have Cal in common, Seel thought, but that ought to drive a wedge between them rather than bring them closer. What could Thiede be thinking to put the two of them in this intolerable situation?

As Seel drew near to the pavilion dedicated to the use of the Hegemony, Ashmael sauntered forward to greet him, his handsome face opening in a genial smile only lightly tinged with humor.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t show up.”

Seel grunted noncommittally. Ashmael laughed and slapped him on the back. “Cheer up. It’s only a small gathering, an opportunity for everyhar to view our much-discussed visitor. I thought you would like to get a better look at him yourself: rested, fed, and all cleaned up. He actually is lovely.”

“I could see that well enough before.” Seel remembered Thiede telling him that Terzian’s heir was presentable. That had proved to be another of Thiede’s sardonic understatements.

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Choosing Sides

Choosing Sides
By Camile Sinensis (Teapot)

Story Notes

Editor\'s Pick A sequel, or follow-on, or something like that, to “Command Structure”. Or, rather, it was all orginally conceived as one story, but I knew if I wrote it out it would expand , rather like one of those sponges that are tiny when they’re dry, but swell up enormously when you put them in water. How right I was! (but I did it anyway)

Set in Imbrilim, shortly before Swift and friends arrive.

Characters: Velaxis and Ashmael. With guest appearances by Arahal, Thiede, Chrysm, some Varrs and a pair of handcuffs.

Spoilers: Minor ones for “Bewitchments”, if you squint hard enough.

Summary: A Varrish defector is brought to Imbrilim, causing Ashmael to reflect on the dual nature of Wraeththu, and which side is the stronger.

Author email: teapot@doramail.com

Website: http://red-shellac.livejournal.com, http://www.mudsharks.org/stuff/

– 1 –

“In the words of humankind, Velaxis is merely a whore. It’s his choice… If you asked Ashmael for Velaxis’ company for a night and Ashmael said “yes,” Velaxis would have to agree, because that’s the role he’s taken on…”

– The Bewitchments of Love and Hate

For such an impermanent structure, Imbrilim had a very solid air of permanence about it. The tents and pavilions and canopies which made up the encampment were laid out in neat, ordered rows, their colourful silk walls forming the boundaries of streets and avenues; the avenues converging at crossroads, and giving way to open, public spaces where hara and humans would congregate.

The Gelaming were famous for their attention to detail and their planning skills, and no doubt considerable time, effort and expertise had gone into the construction of the camp to allow it to function as efficiently as it did, but to Ashmael, it felt as if the small town – which the settlement was rapidly becoming – had taken root of its own accord, and grown organically; as if this arrangement of private dwellings and communal areas had an inevitability about it.

It felt as if it had always been there, and in that respect it was very true to the Gelaming vision. The last remnants of human civilisation was still convulsing in its death throes, but already the new lords of the earth had smoothly taken possession of their inheritance. The transition had been almost obscenely brief.

They should have waited until the old world was cold and buried, at least, Ashmael thought, watching the bright pennants fluttering in the brisk morning breeze. But there had been no time for that. No time to look backward, only forwards, to the dazzling new future. Imbrilim itself was a symbol of that, its bright pavilions as clean and new-minted as the morning itself. All around the old towns and villages and settlements were being abandoned or destroyed. Chaos and disorder were spreading across the land, but here in the heart of Megalithica a small piece of the hopeful future had taken root. A light to push back the encroaching darkness. A refuge for all those seeking sanctuary from lawlessness and fear.

Also, a strategically useful outpost, militarily speaking.

Ashmael had little time for the social engineering aspects of Imbrilim’s development. He was a soldier; he was in charge of the Gelaming army, and he knew the problems facing the new Wraeththu civilization better than most. Humanity was a spent force – a more sinister adversary now threatened the Gelaming’s new world. Their own kind. The Varrs.

The Hegemony had hesitated to act against this threat. Some of them had argued that no Wraeththu tribe could sink to the level of human barbarity. Wraeththu were too spiritually advanced for that to happen. Ashmael was of the opinion that most of the Hegemony had led very sheltered lives, and that they had little or no experience of what Wraeththu were capable of. He had informed them of this in no uncertain terms and the ensuing debate had been vigorous. It had resulted in several small breakages in the Hegalion debating chamber, and the founding of the settlement of Imbrilim as a refugee camp and Gelaming Embassy. The military presence was low-key as yet. Many still hoped that a political solution could be found, but Ashmael did not delude himself.

Too much too soon. We are not so far removed from human kind and human nature.

He raised one hand and shielded his eyes from the brightness of the early morning sun. In the distance, beyond the woods to the north of the camp, a low pall of smoke made a dirty smear across the clear blue of the sky. The small town had been put to the torch three days previously, and a steady trickle of homeless and displaced hara had been arriving in Imbrilim ever since. The town’s leaders had refused to offer allegiance or assistance to the Varrs, and the community had paid the price.

Ashmael sighed and turned away. It would come to a fight, in the end. He knew it. The old human vices lived on; the desire for power, for status, and for control.

It will take more than an interesting addition between our legs to purge us of those, he thought glumly, kicking at an innocent rock in the middle of the otherwise smooth and level ground.

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The Seducements of Chaos and Order

The Seducements of Chaos and Order
by Tessa

Story Notes

Editor\'s PickDisclaimer: All characters, the universe and concepts belong exclusively to Storm Constantine. I receive no profit and no gain from this amateur story. No harm is intended in any way.

Rating: NC17 – For adult themes and m/m content. Profanity. Violence. Rape. Please be warned. If you are under age in your area, or this subject matter offends you, please press the ‘delete’ key now.

Credits: Warmest thanks to Storm Constantine for creating these wonderful novels and characters.

Author: Tessa (tessa_5000@yahoo.com)

Please Enjoy.

The Seducements of Chaos and Order.

Chapter One.

The Present

Straightening his silken collar, Calanthe cast an apprehensive glance over at his son. Jaden.

Jaden was just over seven now, and he was about to go through his formal Feybraiha Celebration, which would mark him as a Har. Would mark him as an adult. And for some reason it was making Cal nervous. He released a breath, moving to stand in front of the long wall mirror. Its reflection only mirrored the concealed ache – confusion and pain in his soul. The knowledge that …

So much had happened in the last seven years, most of it good, but some he wished he could erase the memories completely. Forever.

It had now been almost eight and a half years since his whirlwind arrival in Immanion: since his confrontation with Thiede, and his transformation to Tigron with his heart’s desire, Pellaz.

Almost a life time ago.

So much had happened, and he could look back on the early memories now with pleasure, remembering how awkward and unreasonable both he and Pellaz had been during his first year in Phaonica. Initially they had accepted each other, not really knowing if their dreams of love were still valid, which ultimately had led to arguments. Yet as Tigron there had been no doubt of their unity, of their strength and power. Neither could deny the rightness of what Thiede had attempted, just his methods. And as a whole the Wraeththu nation had, and was still, benefiting.

Yet personally, he and Pellaz had lost their way. Thinking about it now brought a half smile to Calanthe’s lips, and he looked at himself in the mirror again.

Vividly, he recalled how things had gone wrong, how they had fought and argued privately, neither wanting to concede. It had amazed him as to how contorted Pellaz’ view of his life had been. How twisted the other’s memories had become. How well Thiede had manipulated them both so that when they finally did reunite, the dream had faded and bitterness had blossomed. He had moved out of the Tigron’s official rooms and into his own suite within the first month. The Hegemony had breathed a collective sigh of relief with his move, just as sick as he was of their private bickering. He just could not reconcile the image he had of his Pellaz with the creature who inhabited the body he desired. Pellaz’ cold, business-like attitude and finely perfected art of manipulation had initially horrified him until he forced himself to look under the facade. He found shock… Pure and simple shock at being faced with the past, and being given the unobtainable had devastated Pellaz’ exquisitely honed sensibilities.

It had taken them both a while to come to terms with everything that had happened, initially forcing them to remain apart. Ashmael had delighted in the change and seized upon him to tour in order to reinforce the new rulership changes. Ashmael and Arahal. Those two Hara seemed to be always working toward some hidden agenda which neither he nor Pellaz were privy to, and it had not taken him long back then to learn how to sidestep the strategist and exert his own control.

And of course, inevitably to add to the confusion already crowding his life, Tyson had arrived in Immanion to search out his Hostling. Even now Cal found himself cringing in memory as he looked around for a cigarette. Lighting it, he sucked in a deep breath, obscuring his image in the long mirror as he exhaled.

Tyson. His son to Tersian. A Harling he had consented to have for purely selfish reasons. Because Tersian wanted it so badly… Because Cobweb feared it so badly… Because he no longer cared.

Caeru, predictably, had had hysterics, feeling threatened by this new arrival. He had not felt too comfortable himself about Tyson’s presence, yet…. Yet it was Pellaz who had taken a perverse delight in the chaos created by the pure-born’s visitation. And that was only because Caeru had bitched to him about the Parasiel Har, making him curious. From there things had degenerated as Pellaz deliberately charmed his son. But what had started out harmlessly as another personal dig at him by Pellaz had turned out affecting them both more than either cared to acknowledge.

Just another spark in their privately created hell.

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The Entrapments of Passion and Pride

The Entrapments of Passion and Pride
by Tessa

Story Notes

Editor\'s PickAuthor contact: Tessa Rae tessa_5000@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: All characters, the universe and concepts belong exclusively to Storm Constantine. I receive no profit and no gain from this amateur story. No harm is intended in any way.

Rating: NC17 – For adult themes and m/m content. Profanity. Violence. Please be warned. If you are under age in your area, or this subject matter offends you, please press the ‘delete’ key now.

Note – this story was written before ‘Seducements of Chaos andOrder’ – and is more light-hearted, and silly Sap alert -huge SAP alert, so please be warned.

Warmest thanks to Storm Constantine for creating these wonderful novels and characters.

Please Enjoy.

Additional Note from Web Site Editor:
Despite the “sap alert” given by the author, this story contains some very disturbing content, including violence and torture.

CHAPTER ONE

There’s an orchestra of voices trapped inside of me,
With a storm approaching both of us spilling out blinding voltages of memory,
And I am reaching out, hunting out and digging up every skeleton in front of me.

BCO.

Calanthe woke as the cool breeze caressed all the way down his barely covered side. The large, high ceilinged room was airy and touched with a faint chill as Cal blinked sleepily up at the muslin canopy of the sumptuous four poster bed.

The large glass doors had been opened, probably by the over attentive Attica or Cleis, the identical twins who serviced the Tigron’s rooms. Cal could never keep their identities separate when they fussed around his dark counterpart.

The cool breeze feathered across his chilling skin a second time as the silk curtains moved sluggishly in the westerly wind. The doors faced the sea and the only disadvantage Cal could find with these rooms had been that the morning sun never touched them. Just another flaw in the greatly overrated Phaonica.

Flexing his spine and wriggling his toes, Cal stretched his chin up as he contemplated the dark muslin. Lying with his arms over his head in his customary position, he suppressed the exhaled sigh of regret and growing frustration as he thought about last night. They could – no should – have so much, yet in some ways now they were further apart emotionally than what they had been six months ago.

Thinking about it, he scowled. The last six months had moved so fast and he had learned so much. His confrontation with Thiede had resulted in him becoming Tigron with the illustrious Pellaz, and Thiede becoming the Aghama he had always subconsciously craved. His coronation had followed immediately and the Gelaming had accepted him wholeheartedly, pushing Pellaz at him as if on a plate.

Theoretically it was perfect, and the Wraeththu, as a young nation would ultimately benefit from their union, but intimately and emotionally. Cal pulled a face at the thought, shunning it.

As a unit they worked as one, hand in glove, perfecting their spiritual communions until he had mastered the channels of power so now they flowed as easily as breathing. Even Caeru, Pellaz’s headstrong Tigrina, had succumbed to his charms, accepting his place next to Pell and bending to the Aghama’s will.

The problem lay in their personal lives, and Cal tried to view the trouble through unbiased eyes. Pellaz was his soul mate, as he was Pell’s. They both knew it, yet when he looked at Pellaz he still sometimes saw a Har he didn’t know and worse, didn’t want to know. It was as if a monster inhabited the mind and body of the Har he loved and desired. It was confusing and he didn’t miss the hurt that washed through the large, dark eyes as he turned away again and again, unable to cope with the suffocating surge of power Pellaz aimed at him. It disorientated and scared him. Scared him shitless if he was honest, so that he ran, choosing to lose himself in another’s arms. Hoping to avoid the painful memories and images of what they had – could still have – if only they lowered their barriers to each other. Barriers that had become like forged steel.

If Pellaz was possibly having the same trouble with him, Cal was unaware of it. Yet his counterpart seemed to go out of his way to make life for them both difficult at best, or an unbearable hell at worst. They argued over little inconsequential things, and Pellaz would always go on the defensive as soon as he appeared. It was unnerving and always guarantied to infuriate him and their verbal arguments would escalate. Then the backlash of mental anger would cripple him. What it did to Pell he didn’t know, but the amount of damage they could do to each other was phenomenal as they were permanently locked soul to soul. Desired – and hated.

Lying in bed as he was, Cal shuddered at the thought. Last night had been a perfect example of the potential danger. What the bickering had originally started over he didn’t know, except Caeru had walked out on them both in disgust. Pell had then retreated to his bedrooms, sulking and studiously ignoring him and that had angered Cal further.

He had then brooded for the next couple of hours, allowing the anger to eat at him until he couldn’t have stopped his actions if he had tried. The air between them, as he entered Pellaz’s bed chamber, had been electrically charged and both house Hara had vanished. Pell had been sprawled on the bed, sensually appealing and half drunk, hiding behind a facade of indifference. Cal’s control had snapped. They were killing each other emotionally, and it hurt. Hurt painfully.

Cal sat up in bed abruptly, fists clenching at his side as he banked down on the deep seated pain. They needed each other. It was as simple as that. His body itched to touch and meet Pellaz’s and the physical ache built each time they saw each other. Why Pellaz denied the need, he couldn’t guess.

At the twisting knife-like pain in his center, Cal screwed his eyes shut and bent his legs up, taking large gulps of breath. Did Pellaz feel like this? He wondered. Or was it only him? Did Pellaz even care that they were destroying each other slowly?

Shaking his blonde head, he looked at the bed next to him. The silk sheets were cold now, but last night they had embraced them both. Pleasure and pain. And the nightmares returned.

Having been unable to hold back the driving need any longer, he had entered Pellaz’s bed chamber knowing his dark haired lover was awake. Not saying anything, he had slid beneath the sheets, blocking the mental waves of anger that had hit him from his silent bed mate. They’d embraced, and if there had been anything else coming from Pellaz he had ignored it, as their coupling had become urgent and brutal.

It was not what he wanted from Pellaz, not what he needed or desired. But the mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion, was bone deep and Cal’s instincts had taken over, knowing and finding what he needed and taking it.

That Pellaz was nowhere to be seen this morning was mute testimony to the fact that they were still poles apart in understanding.

“Would you like to dress before breakfast or after my Lord?”

The quiet hushed voice startled Cal and his head snapped up. One of Pellaz’s house Hara stood nervously at the side of the bed. He had to suppress a grim smile as the little, blonde Gelaming took an instinctive step back. If it was Attica or Cleis he couldn’t tell, didn’t care really as he took a deep breath. He wondered absently if he looked as haggard and drained as he felt. “I’ll dress first.”

“Yes my Lord. Would you require assistance?” The voice faltered a little and Cal toyed with the idea of accepting the offer.

“Where’s Pellaz?” he asked instead.

“I do not know my Lord. He was not here when I woke this morning.”

Cal grimaced and swung his legs over the side of the bed feeling all the muscles pull. He didn’t need to look at the house Har to see the disapproval, he could hear it and it annoyed him. So he ignored the servant and wiggled his toes.

Where had it all gone so terribly wrong, he wondered. Aruna should not be a battle, not like rape, or as the Gelaming would call it, pelki and chaitra. Aruna was about making love. Oh that forbidden word! Cal chastised himself mockingly. The Gelaming had a lot to learn and he didn’t care what anyone tried to tell him, love still existed in this world. He had felt it, tasted it, embraced it wholeheartedly once, and he would not let anyone convince him it no longer existed. It was what he and Pellaz had once felt, still felt, and he knew that aruna should be about desire and love. Last night had been far from that. He wondered how Pellaz felt this morning after their embrace had turned into a struggle of wills with him winning and forcing his tormentor’s submission. The memory of it sickened him, reminding him too much of Fallsend, and his stomach soured.

Standing abruptly, he looked up remembering the silent house Har and saw the servant hovering uncertainly. “You may go.”

Pellaz’s attendant still looked hesitant.

“Just go,” he said tiredly as he rubbed the back of his neck, not surprised to feel bruises there.

Alone again, he stiffly made his way into the bathroom and stepped down the stone steps into the large, round hot tub. He pushed the floating lilies out of the way and sighed as he submerged into the welcoming water’s warmth. It eased his stiff muscles and went a long way to improving his temper. Looking around, he admitted he adored this room, liking the way the sun warmed the alcove through the oval window, and the plants climbing the lattice. Like its owner, Pellaz, the room was exotic. His own bathing room was no way near as nice and if he and Pellaz could only work out their problems, then they could share these chambers. He sighed at the thought. If only Pellaz would be reasonable, it was a wistful thought and brought a sleepy expression to his face.

If only.

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Freedom

Freedom
by Paula Clements

September 2001
pellsfan@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: The characters in this story all belong to Storm Constantine and her publishers. Storm is a very unique individual who actually encourages spec writers and will actually help when asked. She is a real person, who answers her email. Love you Storm. I am not making a cent, and if I were, I would send it all to you.

Spoilers: All three books of the Wraeththu.

Freedom

Pellaz walked wearily back to his chambers, his shoulders drooping slightly. Behind him walked two silent members of the palace guard who seemed to be glued to his side whenever he left his rooms. Had he ever heard either of their voices? Whenever he spoke to them, they simply bowed or saluted in acknowledgement. He tended to feel his isolation even more keenly when they were around.

The day had been long and frustrating. He had finally managed to get the heads of all the major tribes to convene in Immanion to discuss a system of laws, which would govern them all. Each tribe would retain its distinct beliefs and customs but would allow room for the beliefs of travelers in its territory. How much leeway should be allowed had proved to be a sticking point; especially with tribes like the Maudrah, whose customs were notoriously rigid and strict. Today, it had taken all his considerable abilities to prevent several of the leaders from coming to blows.

The large double doors to his rooms opened silently as he approached. His servants had been watching for him. Again without a word, he was stripped of his ceremonial robes and then left in solitude. This too, had become routine. He had expressed his desire to be alone only once and they had obeyed instantly. Now, no one breached the quiet of his sanctuary without invitation; no one but Cal, of course.

Pell winced at the thought. Lately, Cal’s visits had become less frequent, the latter preferring to spend more time with Rue and with his horses. It was not uncommon for Cal and Rue to take an impulsive ride into the countryside, leaving their guards frantically searching for them. The last time, Pell had confronted Cal about his recklessness.

“How can you be so thoughtless? Something could happen to you and we wouldn’t know about it.”

Cal had stared at him for a moment and then chuckled. “Pell, you know very well that I can take care of myself. Besides, you would know.”

Pell couldn’t refute that final statement. They had become so close, mentally, that they could usually sense each other’s presence and moods. He had glared angrily at his lover and had finally stridden from the room in defeat.

“When did I start to lose him?” Pell asked himself softly as he stripped the remaining clothes from his body and walked into the bathroom. Lying back in the hot, scented water, he let his thoughts drift.

One of the things that had always drawn him to Cal was his lover’s innate sense of recklessness and love of adventure. He had always envied Cal that freedom. Even as a mortal child, Pell had been restricted by his family and by his own shy nature. “By the gods, I must bore him to death!” Angrily, he dashed the tears from his face. He had seldom indulged in self-pity and he wouldn’t start now.

Slowly, a plan was forming in his mind. Of course! Cal was also Tigron. Why did he, Pell, have to shoulder all the responsibilities of the office? He climbed from the bath and briskly dried himself.

Grinning, he quickly penned a note, placed it in an envelope and sealed it. Turning it over, he wrote Cal’s name in large bold letters. Lifting the bell, which lay conveniently close, he summoned a servant.

“This is be delivered to the Tigron tomorrow morning at 7:00. Not one minute before or after. Is that understood?”

Attica bowed with a twinkle in his eye. “Of course, Tigron. And will you need any assistance in packing what you need?”

Pell laughed heartily. “You know me too well, my friend. Just give me your word that you will not tell anyone before it is too late to stop me.”

Attica pulled himself to his full height, indignantly. “Tigron, I am offended!”

Pell sighed. “Forgive me. You have always been loyal. I was merely trying to impress how important this is to me. I would rather not have anyone know where I am going.”

“I will tell no one your destination, my lord.”

“Thank you. Now, can you find me a traveling bag of some sort?”

Attica nodded and left the room, returning quickly with a leather satchel large enough to accommodate anything Pell might need, along with another bag full of food and a large canteen of water.

Pell quickly donned a pair of tight leather trousers, a gauzy pale blue shirt and a leather jacket. Like most of his casual clothing, he had never worn these items. Pulling back his black hair and securing it with a tie, he noticed the approval in Attica’s eyes.

“I have also arranged for your horse, Tigron.”

Pell chuckled at the size of the bag. “I am surprised you haven’t hidden a cook in here.”

The har frowned and then realized that Pell was teasing him. “Take care, my lord. May you find the answers you seek.”

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