Dragon Knights Fan Fiction ❯ Inside Tetheus's Head ❯ Dance Knight ( Chapter 8 )
Italics are his thoughts.
"I don't see why we have to come back. I'm sure there's something more interesting and dangerous to do than saying hi to everyone."
The speaker is still hidden from Tetheus's view. He's headed into town for a spot of shopping, and to get out from under Ruwalk's feet. He's not been too friendly to Tetheus since Kai-Stern came back and has even been a little aggressive with him. I don't know why. I haven't done anything wrong ... that they can pin on me. Still, absence makes the heart grow fonder and so on. This voice has intruded on his peace while he's checking various knives for balance at a small stall just outside the centre of town. It is loud and inconsiderate, like many mercenaries or lordlings, and he wonders why it sounds familiar.
"Yeah, who knows how long we'll be stuck here before we're given another mission." This new voice also tickles Tetheus's membranes. Where have I heard him before? Still," he adds thoughtfully. "It has been a while. Maybe the Dragon Fighters have built up their savings again."
The third voice is more refined and feminine and finally lights the candle in Tetheus's head. "It's been well over a year and we've completed our mission AND several others that we weren't asked to deal with. We've killed about one hundred demons and looted over thirty tombs, bandit camps and wealthy houses." The last part is mumbled, but the speaker continues. "Don't you think that it's time we came home and put our feet up?"
"Geez Rune. You're so lazy."
"Lazy?!" Tetheus smirks as he imagines the pretty Dragon Knight turning a bright shade of red. If he's not careful he'll turn into Alfeegi. "I think that I've been more than patient with both of you. We'd finished our mission (amidst various side-quests) months ago and yet you still wouldn't come home. Just once, I want to sleep in my own bed."
"No! We're in Draqueen. Finally! And we're going to see the Dragonlord and make our report! And we're getting there tonight, with no distractions, no shopping, no demon-hunting and no treasure-hunting!" Rune's voice grows louder as he trudges ahead of his friends.
Tetheus ducks his head as Rune marches past. He can now clearly see Rath and Thatz following a little way behind. I hope they don't see me. After all, I came here to get away from everything for a little while. The other two don't seem as driven as Rune is. They're sauntering along, Thatz absently watching the crowd for easy marks and Rath with his arms behind his head, preparing mentally for his next fight with the Dragonlord.
"You know Rath, we really need to get Rune a hobby. He'd be more fun if he wasn't so dedicated to his duty."
"Yeah Thatz. But if we corrupted Rune, then the Dragonlord might send Alfeegi or someone along with us and Rune's easier to get around than Alfeegi would be."
"Guys! Pick up the pace, we're nearly home!" Rune shouts at the other two who glare back. Tetheus whirls around to avoid his gaze, but all of Rune's attention is on his fellow Dragon Knights.
"Slave-driver!" Rath quietens down as he continues his conversation with Thatz. "It wouldn't be so bad to travel with Tetheus. He doesn't say much, but he's easily the best fighter in the Castle, the fighters have told me some of the stuff they've seen. He's awesome and they're all scared of him. If I could get a few of his glares down, then no-one could stop me if I wanted to leave the castle."
Tetheus can't hear Thatz's reply, and he risks sticking his head out beyond the stall to catch his next few words. "You looooooove him."
"You lurve Tetheus. You want to be with him."
"I do not! He's just cool."
Tetheus scratches his head while thinking of the possibilities. That would be inconvenient. How can I put the moves on Ruwalk if Rath's going to get in my way all the time? When he wants attention he's so annoying and demanding. Maybe I can rustle up a few demon scare stories to lure him away.
"Are you guys gonna catch up or what?!"
Thatz skips up to the Water Dragon Knight. "Hey Rune. Rath loves Tetheus!"
"I do not!" Rath hurries up behind him and Thatz turns a sneer on him and continues his teasing. "Yes you do. You dress like him, you die your hair the same colour and you practise scowling in the mirror every morning."
Tetheus's head slips to the left. Oh. Well, it's nice to think that there's a mini-me in the making.
"You need to get a girl-friend Rath." Rune smiles along with Thatz, happy not to be the butt of his jokes for once.
"Ugh no. Kissing girls is gay."
"On the contrary, not kissing girls is gay." Rune lectures away on the fairer sex with one finger pointing upwards.
"Have you ever kissed one?"
Rune blushes. "Once or twice."
"What was it like?" Rath bats his eyelids, but Rune misses the warning signs.
"Really nice, soft and warm."
Rath and Thatz look at each other.
"That is so gay!"
Tetheus chuckles as the Dragon Knights race off, Rath and Thatz defending themselves from Rune. They're so innocent, a real breath of fresh air. An invisible shadow races across his face and the sideways glances from the passersby become a little more obvious. I'm sure that he'll be okay. Those pills've been extensively tested and they're finally bug free. He runs his hand through his hair, once again marvelling that he no longer needs to wipe off the grease. Just in case, I'd better go pick up another batch. He leaves without purchasing any knives, but the stall-owner heaves a sigh of relief as his usual clientele of scum and villainy reappears.
Kharl's House of Alchemy is as gaudy as ever. That kid must repaint this thing every week. As Tetheus approaches he notices that the interior is dark. Huh? The door refuses to open at his touch and he knocks several times before leaving. It must be later than I thought. I'll come back tomorrow morning.
He heads back to the castle, which is as animated as if the entire nobility of Dusis had descended upon it. Maids clean, butlers buttle, and functionaries scuttle back and forth. Everyone is talking about how much the knights have grown and how nice it is to have them back. No one makes this much of an effort when I come home. Of course, no-one ever notices that I've left. He dodges aside as a maid waddles past, heavily laden with fresh laundry. No-one's like this when the Dragonlord gets back either. Mostly because they're glad that Alfeegi'll finally quieten down. A gaggle of castle-dwellers wander past gossiping about the new arrivals. Then again, the addition of the knights to the dragon clan, is still the most interesting thing to happen in the castle in a century. Can you blame them, they'd still be doting on Rath and suffocating the baby, unless he escaped as often as he does. I can't stand that kind of thing. Occasional admiration, yes. Sex, yes. Affection and kissing, yes. But continual, suffocating love? Ugh, it's no wonder that the kid's messed up. Everyone wants to mother him. Maybe that's why he's so fixated on Kai-Stern. He's the only one who wasn't continually around him when he was growing up.
Cernozoa hails him as she passes by.
"I see the Lords almighty have returned."
Cernozoa smiles. "Everyone's excited because the Dragonlord's throwing a party. It's been ages since we got a chance to have a good time, and everyone's invited."
Tetheus takes her hand and twirls her once. "Is it starting after dinner?"
"Will you accompany me?"
A coy smile lights up her face and she answers coquettishly, "I'd love to."
"Right so." He rubs the back of his head. "I'll go put on my gladrags then, and you put on yours, and I'll see you in an hour?"
Cernozoa stares him down scornfully. "Make it two."
"I'm hungry," he whines plaintively.
"Perfection takes time and skill." With that, she dismisses him and goes to her room.
That should get Rath out of my hair. Still, I'd better welcome him back and see what he's been up to. It didn't look as though he's been badly injured this time, but the boy has some deranged macho view of pain and refuses to get treated until after his wounds are infected.
Paternal force, paternal force. My, he has grown. Tetheus nods formally. "Welcome home Rath, it's good to see you. Have you taken care of yourself this time?" Tetheus looks Rath over and he soon squirms uncomfortably under the pressure.
"I'm fine, Alfeegi's already given me the third degree." He folds his arms and stares moodily into the middle distance. The effect is ruined by the tapping of his toe, but Tetheus masterfully controls all signs of amusement. He's trying to be all sulky and cool. Ah, I remember when I was in that phase. Surely I didn't look that sad though?
"You must've been pretty busy. We haven't seen you in ages and you're all in one piece. Have you run out of demons?"
Rath's face glows. He's still the same. "I'm sure that Kai-Stern's got some information for me."
An eyebrow rises. "But Rath, Kai-Stern came home a week ago. You missed the present giving and he might have given your demon lore away to some other deserving rascal who was there. We broke the record for attendance and he was pulling things from his pockets, once the bag ran out of goodies."
Rath's face falls and his hands clutch at his shirt. "Please excuse me Tetheus, I have to see a man about some demons. It was good to meet you again, after so long. Maybe we could spar in the grounds tomorrow?"
Tetheus nods, It'll give me a chance to show off my buff body to the deserving spectators and Rath runs off.
Tetheus walks to his rooms to prepare for the night's festivities. His new clothes arrived a week ago, but he hasn't broken them out yet. There are one or two dressy items in there, but Tetheus picks out two of the relatively sombre pieces to wear that night. A purple, soft, silk shirt is joined by matching black trousers. A light navy cloak completes the outfit. Okay, so the clasp holding the cloak in place is a little obnoxious, but it was a birthday present. A quick visit to the hair goop station revives his hairstyle and Tetheus turns to the mirror to admire himself. His reflection eyes him coldly, then pouts seductively. Maybe I'll wear the orange tomorrow, if this goes down well.
Tetheus eyes the clock nearby, Barely a half hour has passed, Cernozoa will be far from ready. He sighs and lounges in a chair, but this doesn't make the time pass any faster. I've got time to kill. I wonder what Ruwalk and Kai-Stern are up to? It wouldn't take too long to make my way down to their little rendezvous point. He stands up and walks to the door. I've got nothing better to do and if Alfeegi sees me standing around, he might try to get me involved. He sighs, I'll never make an impressive entrance that way.
The halls of the castle are full of giggling girlies and preening fighters. Clumps of people are forming in the hallways and gossiping about the ball, as well as eyeing each other up and flirting openly. Progress is slow and Tetheus breathes more easily as he approaches the gardens and the crowd thins. He swiftly races to the sweet spot in the gardens and is rewarded by the welcoming sounds of masculine voices. Specifically those of Rath and Thatz. Rath is speaking.
"Everyone here is slowly losing it. They've been alive too long and have spent most of it walled inside the castle. The youngest dragon is Kai-Stern and he's..."
"We're the youngest dragons. You, me and Rune. In fact, I'm the youngest entrant into the dragon tribe, and although you're a little younger than me, you've been a dragon longer."
"Oh, I didn't think of that."
The silence between them is easy, like two old friends. Tetheus doesn't bother getting closer, as he can see them all too easily in his head. Thatz's sitting down under the tree, most likely eating one of its apples and Rath is standing nearby. He's probably pulling the bark off a twig, or something equally destructive.
"I suppose we have to go back to the castle and get ready?"
"Ugh, can't we wait here a little longer Thatz? I really don't want to get caught up in all that."
"I know Rath," Thatz's voice is soft, "but we are the guests of honour. They're waiting on us."
"I bet that the Dragonlord is just using our arrival as an excuse."
"If you don't want to give him an excuse, you should come home more often. Then it wouldn't be such an occasion to see you three."
Alfeegi's voice is greeted by groans from Rath. "Get up and get ready. Cernozoa's laid clothes out for you in your rooms and everyone's waiting to party. If you want to lose your popularity, then by all means be late. I don't know if you'd survive the night though." He harries the pair back to the castle, Tetheus smirking away as they go. Heh. I wonder how Alfeegi knew about this place? Still, you can never underestimate him. I think it's time to go get the bint. By the time I make it back there, she should be almost ready.
Cernozoa is laced into a slinky black dress. Purple slashes at the hips match the colour of Tetheus's shirt, which she picks at once he enters her room.
"Somehow I knew you'd wear that."
He sweeps her into his arms and runs his lips over her neck. "It's such a nice dress, it'd be a shame if it got damaged at the dance. Why don't you take it off and we'll ..."
"Oh no." She expertly rolls out of his arms and opens the door. She then stares up at him proudly while she continues "I want to be seen in this at least once." She strokes his cheek as she leads him from the room. "Later, perhaps, I'll be more worried about its safety."
I like the promise in that sentence. The best kind of present is one wrapped in tight black silk. Hmm. Maybe leather and handcuffs.
The great hall's roar lessens slightly as Tetheus sweeps into the room, the lovely Cernozoa on his arm. The ladies eye her dress and start to calculate whether to bitch or be jealous. The men eye her too. It takes a long moment for them to notice that her companion is Tetheus. The coded message in Cernozoa's nails turns him from his path to the high table and onto the dance floor. He takes her hand in his left, and places his injured right hand on her hip, checking for bleeding before making contact. The music is barely audible, but Tetheus has never paid it much heed. Cernozoa, well used to his idiosyncrasies, follows with grace. Tetheus simply dances until the music gains pace to match him.
A large space forms around the writhing couple, Tetheus spins Cernozoa with intense force across the floor, catching her to grind against her. His steps are complicated, his pace frenetic, and his arms outrageous in their flourishes. Several dragon fighters attempt to copy him with their dates, but inevitably fail miserably and crash into each other. All eyes are on Tetheus and Cernozoa, and that's the way they like it. As chaotically as they started, Tetheus suddenly stops, the music screeching to a halt several beats after him, and restarting at a sedate pace, more suitable for less able dancers. As he makes his way to the high table, Cernozoa cradled in his arm, he wipes his hair once more. His hand comes away sticky, this time from sweat.
Only Lykouleon and Raseleane greet them normally. Everyone else has their mouths open or are choking on their wine. Tetheus pulls out a chair beside Raseleane and settles his companion at the table, before joining her.
"Evening everyone." Cernozoa nods at the table and waves at Ruwalk.
Lykouleon beams at the couple. "Welcome, we were afraid that you weren't coming."
Cernozoa laughs softly, "Of course we wouldn't miss it my lord. I just had some things to take care of before I could get ready."
He nods warmly at her, and Raseleane adjusts her position in her chair. "You look stunning my dear, and Tetheus, where have you been hiding those clothes? You look lovely this evening as well."
Raseleane coughs and eyes Tetheus sternly while the Dragonlord refills his goblet. I look fine, eh? An untranslatable, but significant glance passes between Cernozoa and Raseleane. I wonder what that's about
The evening passes in a blur of drink and dancing. Ruwalk was firmly back on the drink, Alfeegi proved that chill pills and wine don't mix, the Dragonlord fell under the table after two hours and Raseleane and Cernozoa never returned after a trip to freshen up. Tetheus took turns on the floor with Cernozoa, Raseleane, several of the braver women of the castle, and Alfeegi. The evening ends, as they all seem to, with Tetheus staggering drunkenly through the corridors on his way to someone's room. Cernozoa? Nah, she buggered off early. The twins? Hmm, Sapphire? I haven't slept with her in a while and I think she looked good tonight ... unless that was Alfeegi. I think I kissed her ... unless that was Alfeegi. He was all over the gaff tonight. I think that those pills are a handy, handy thing.
He bumps rather heavily into a door and the rebound launches him further down the corridor, missing Ruwalk's arrival from the room he knocked on.
He swings around and overshoots. Ruwalk manages to catch him, as he's slightly steadier on his feet. Bastard must have built up quite a tolerance with all that he's put away over the years. Tetheus sways backwards on his feet and then lowers his face to stare Ruwalk in the eye.
"Ruwalk, have you seen a gimp mask around anywhere?'
Ruwalk totally flips out. 'Why on DUSIS would you think that I would have one of THOSE?!'
Tetheus waits calmly for the sentence to finish, swaying back and forth and finding it almost as entertaining as being near Ruwalk. He leans forward and breathes in his scent.
"Mine's gone missing. I hope that Rath hasn't borrowed it again.'
"Oh!" Ruwalk doesn't know quite where to look and he decides to stare at his fingers. "N-no. I haven't seen um, that, anywhere. If I do see, see, an, um, gimp mask anywhere, I'll, I'll s-send it to you. Um."
He steadies Tetheus, until he feels that Tetheus can bear his own weight, then he steps away, but his eyes don't leave Tetheus.
"That boy worships you. I'm sure you'll be able to talk him into your bed."
Ruwalk turns to leave once this final, cutting comment is made, but he finds his path blocked by Tetheus's arm. His eyes sear into Ruwalk's as he waits for Ruwalk's anger to ebb.
"I like men, not boys."
With that he swings around, his arms wide for balance and sashays down the hallway. I don't have such little taste that I'd corrupt children. Innocence is rare in the world, especially in worldly fighters and I'd like to keep them innocent for as long as possible. That'll make their final corruption so much fun, when as men, they realise that I'm not quite what they thought. He laughs to himself. I'm not going to steal that treat. They're not ready yet.
Ruwalk's voice echoes behind him. "They're growing quickly. They'll be men soon."
Tetheus swirls back and speaks to him sadly. "Hopefully, it'll be a long time before they're as mature as you are. The only thing that can age them that fast is tragedy."
Ruwalk breaks the contest first and steps back inside. Tetheus studies the door before moving on. Do you think I have depth now? There's a lot I'd do to have you, but I'm not that perverted. He moves on and then looks back for a second. Besides, it's no fun if there's no challenge.
I actually have the next chapter plotted out. Majorly unusual for me. Up next, Alfeegi Looses His Marbles, or The Pill Is Gone.