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Tate eyed the town warily. He had never seen so many people in one place before and the sight of them all made him uneasy. His father’s keep had been small and sparse. The occupying village could not have housed more than a few hundred people and they rarely all conjugated in the same space.
He eased a little further back behind Lukas, annoyed at himself for feeling so uncertain. The other man was oblivious to Tate’s discomfort. “It’s like watching a swarm of ants.” Tate said eventually, his voice soft and slightly awed as Lukas brought them into a line at the town gates.
Lukas didn’t understand for a moment but then a huge grin appeared on his weather beaten face. “This towns pretty big as far as town go Shantran, but wait until you see an actual city! It will make this place seem as small and lonely as a desert.”
Tate barely resisted a shudder. The prospect of so many people – it just seemed wrong to him. “Why can’t we camp with the others?” he asked quietly.
Lukas grin faded slightly with disappointment. He had been so excited by the prospect of spending the night in a real bed at an inn. After spending so much time wedged into a small cot he had obviously expected Tate to be likewise inclined. “I thought you would want some privacy.” He said at last, his tone carefully neutral and controlled.
That was true enough. With Robert watching practically everything he did he certainly wouldn’t turn his nose up at the prospect of a night without him. “I did, I mean I do! Its fine Lukas, please just forget I said anything.”
Lukas grinned again and threw his arms around Tate’s shoulders. “Ah, so I’ve finally found something that frightens the great and mighty warrior.” He pulled a face of mock concern. “Don’t worry Shantran; I won’t let the big scary town hurt you!”
Tate hit him but it was a soft blow, meant to sting but not really hurt. He pushed Lukas away and folded his arms tightly over his chest as he glared daggers at the older man. He felt about four years old when Lukas reached over the top of his head and ruffled his hair.
When it was their turn to enter the town Lukas suddenly shushed Tate and stepped slightly ahead of him. The two guards on duty looked Lukas over with unimpressed eyes. They turned to Tate and openly sneered at him. “Your business?” The elder of the two demanded as his comrade made a show of handling his sword.
Lukas smiled charmingly and gestured to where Tate could just make out the group of brightly painted wagons. “We’re settling here for a few days after a long journey. A night at the inns would prove a welcome change.”
“Aye, and a chance to fatten your purse no doubt.” The one with the sword said menacingly.
Lukas’s look of easy contentment didn’t change. “Sir’s you wound me. I do not steal and I never will. I have money enough of my own.” So saying he made two silver coins appear magically in his hands and offered one to each of the guards. “A boon of good faith, so my friend and I might pass?”
They grumbled and moaned but the money did the trick and soon they were allowed to pass. Tate felt their heated eyes on his back and despite himself he was ashamed. The way they spoke to Lucas, as though he was the filth on the bottom of their shoes showed just how little regard people felt for travelers. And this is my life now, Tate realised with a pang of regret. A northern man of noble blood and I must endure their revulsion, the loathing of peasants.
He didn’t know what sickened him more, knowing what he would have to endure for the rest of his life or realising the depth of his own arrogance for caring so much. ****************************************** Tate didn’t care what Lukas said, the town was massive! The people milling around him, bumping into him and screaming over his head were deafening. When Lukas caught hold of his arm to help guide him forward he was too relieved to even try and shake him off. He gave himself over to the other mans care and reverently hoped they didn’t get separated. He doubted he’d ever find his way back out if he did.
There was also a peculiar stink about the town. Tate was used to open fields and farms, and more recently the open road. They were good smells, clean and fresh. “Gods,” He choked as he pressed his sleeve over his nose. “How do you stand the stench Lukas?”
The older man laughed at him and took a great lungful of air. “The sweet stench of civilisation.” He said as he exhaled. “I’d get used to it if I was you. We’ll be heading into bigger and smellier cities than this one.”
“Perfect.” Tate grumbled. The soft cuff to his ear made his entire body tense.
“Stop grumbling and open your eyes.” Lukas said, all grins and unending enthusiasm. Tate wanted to kick him. “This is life Shantran; you should learn to appreciate it.” His arm snaked around Tate’s shoulders. “Stay with us a while longer and you’ll understand what I mean.”
They walked for a long time but Lukas seemed to know exactly where he was going. Tate casino şirketleri wondered how many towns and cities the tinker could navigate his way around. “What about this inn.” Tate asked as they passed a decent looking place. He could hear the muffled sound of a piper inside and reckoned the player wasn’t entirely without skill. Lukas looked up briefly and smiled a little self-mockingly.
“I don’t think we’d be too welcome in there Shantran.”
Tate’s eyebrow arched on its own accord. “Oh?” he asked a little stiffly.
“No, you and I are going to grace our presence somewhere a little less, shall we say, fresh than this particular establishment.”
“How much less fresh?” Tate asked with a sinking feeling in his stomach.
And there it was again, that same damn grin. ************************************************* Apparently in Lukas’s eyes ‘a little less fresh’ meant a complete hell hole. Drunks were stumbling over the sand covered wooden floor, which was valiantly trying its damndest to soak up the various puddles spilled across it, none of which Tate wanted to spend too much time thinking about. Women and men were throwing themselves at the patrons, and most of them were far from decently dressed. He was convinced that at least half of them were whores. The walls were peeling brownish flakes and the front shutters were falling off their hinges.
“Are you insane?” Tate whispered furiously. “I don’t want to die Lukas and I especially don’t want to die in there.”
The tinker was about to answer when a blonde shaped blur hurled it’s self into his arms and knocked his back several steps. Tate’s hand was already reaching for the dagger he no longer possessed when he noticed Lukas was laughing. The girl was hanging off his neck and shrieking with delight as Lukas crushed her into him.
“You old rascal you!” she said, her voice deep and thrumming. She was certainly no girl then. “It’s been an age since I saw you last. I remember when you and I were of a height! How are you boy?”
Tate caught sight of the woman’s face and felt surprised despite him. She was a contrast in appearance. Beautiful but haggard, proud but cheap. Her clothes named her a whore, her posture demanded respect. The golden hair was up wound up meticulously but the dress was worn and dull. He had no idea what to make of her.
“I’m well Joann and pleased to see you’re still here. Robert will be even more pleased when I tell him.”
“I’m surprised he’s not here with you.” She said before pointedly looking over at Tate. “Ah, but maybe that explains it. Is this one yours?” her eyes lingered on his face for a little too long. “My, my Lukas love, what are you trying to hide beneath all that silly paint.” She reached out to touch him but Tate stepped hastily back.
He realized he was bearing his teeth a little and fought to control his temper. “I can speak for myself.” He said sharply. “And I don’t belong to him or anyone else.” A pity he sounded so much like a petulant child.
Unsurprisingly she didn’t look intimidated, scared or even insulted. She just kept looking at him. “That’s a strange accent you have their boy. I can’t quite place it.” Tate felt his breath hitch a little but she shrugged abruptly and turned back to Lukas. “Are you staying the night boy?”
“If you have a spare room.” Lukas said a little uneasily. He threw a warning look at Tate who just glared back at him. “And perhaps a length of rope and a gag?” he muttered, just loudly enough for them to hear. He quickly changed the subject before Tate could respond. “So Joann, tell me how you’ve been fairing all this time?”
“I’ve been well enough I suppose.” She said with an overly dramatic sigh. “Truth is though that I’m not getting any younger, and my particular profession isn’t well suited to old age.” She fished out a key from her pocket and passed it to him. “You can have your old room by the way.” She said as she passed it to him.
He bowed his head in thanks and pocketed the key. “You’ve some years left in you yet I would think.” He said brightly as he wrapped his hand around her tiny waist. “Why I’d say you’re sill as beautiful now as you were ten years ago”
She slapped his chest playfully.” Get away with you boy!”
“Yes boy!” a huge bear of a man boomed from behind Tate. The half-blood turned around and sidestepped away from him in a fluid motion even his brothers would have envied. He continued to put space between them until he stood beside Lukas. “Get away!”
Even Lukas looked small beside such a giant of a man. Not only was he tall he was also grossly overweight. Where Tate lived a man didn’t last very long unless they were fit and fierce. He had never seen anyone so big before and despite himself he was strangely fascinated.
“Is there a problem?” Lukas asked politely. Tate could see the sword beneath the large gut and wondered if the fat man would be able to move quickly enough with it to skewer them.
“A problem? Of course there’s casino firmaları a problem!” he waved his fat arms above his head in an attempt to capture the room’s attention. “I don’t want some filthy, stinking tinkers breathing the same air as me, that’s the damn problem. Get out now before I show you and your whore the door.”
Tate didn’t register the insult at first. He had wrongly assumed the fat man was referring to Joann but the sneering glare thrown in his direction quickly enlightened him. That such an abomination would dare insult him caused his blood to boil. Who in the five hells did he think he was! “Better a filthy stinking tinker and his whore than a pig that smells like it died a week ago!” He yelled at the top of his lungs. The fat man blinked stupidly down at him as his mind slowly absorbed the insult.
He reared up so quickly that Lukas only just managed to avoid being trampled. Tate stood his ground, he’d be damned if he was going to run away from a walking blob. He planted his feet, preparing to meet the other man fist for fist when an arm encircled his waist and carried him clear off his feet. He let out a surprised grunt as he was launched over one large shoulder and carried upstairs. Below him the entire bar had erupted into a massive fight. The blob had attacked the nearest man to Tate, knocking him into an elder man at the bar who instinctively punched the man next to him, which led to an all-out fist fight. It wasn’t until Lukas dropped him on his feet and stared aghast at him that Tate realized he was grinning.
“Dear Gods!” Lukas gasped. “You’re insane.”
Tate laughed at him and tapped his heart. “I haven’t seen anything so funny in months.” A loud crash made both of them jump. “You were right Lukas, this was a good idea.”
“You nearly got me killed!” Lukas said angrily. “How many times must I tell you, tinkers do not –gmmmppphh?”
Tate planted a fierce kiss on Lukas’s lips before the other man could finish what he was saying. Lukas seemed shocked at first. Tate never started anything between them and was usually difficult when Lukas first approached him. Of course it didn’t take Lukas very long to conquer his surprise. Two strong hands gripped both of Tate’s buttocks and lifted him up off his feet until they were face to face. Tate grinned into Lukas’s mouth, laughing as he was carried to the bed and dropped on top of it. Lukas practically ripped his own clothes off before attacking Tate’s. The two men began battling with their tongues. Tate reached out and grabbed Lukas’s dick and began a fast jerking motion. Lukas growled deep in his throat before Tate felt a fierce suction on his neck. Despite himself he let out a loud and pleasurable moan, opening his legs wider and allowing his friend to crawl between them.
It appeared that the tinker had come prepared for their nightcap. He reached over the side of the bed and pulled a small vial of scented oil from his pack. Grinning he held it up for Tate’s inspection, swirling the contents playfully. Tate gave the other mans dick another quick tug before rolling onto his stomach and rising up onto his knees. He let out a surprised yelp when a sound smack landed on his arse. “You’re acting especially congenial today.” Lukas commented breezily. Tate tried to rise up, preparing to show Lukas just how damn congenial he was when he felt a sharp prodding at his whole. “Loosen up.” Lukas demanded, laughing when Tate swore at him. “And stop acting so indignant!” Lukas laughed. “I know you’re loving it.”
Whether or not that was true was beside the point! Never the less Tate did allow his body to relax. He felt another finger press inside of him, circling his hole, teasing it open. Lukas large shadow passed over him before he felt a warm body press against his back. “God Tate, you’re so beautiful.”
Tate sniggered and Lukas growled. “You think that’s funny?” He asked slyly before pushing into Tate in one swift moment. Tate would have shot off the bed if Lukas wasn’t holding so hard onto his waist.
“By the gods!” He gasped. It hurt, but in a good way. Lukas waited a moment, allowing Tate the chance to adjust before he started slamming rapidly into him. The half-blood clenched down on Lukas’s invading dick, grinning when he heard the other man moan.
Tate whimpered when he felt the fullness inside of him withdraw. He was spun around and brought down hard on Lukas’s lap. He found himself impaled on the bigger mans dick, being lifted up and down by Lukas’s strong hands. Lukas kissed him suddenly, grinding their bodies together as his hand reached around and began jerking Tate’s dick. The half-blood’s body went rigid as he came, leaving him sated and exhausted.
“Liven up Shantran.” Lukas laughed, giving Tate’s arse another sound swat. “We aren’t done yet!”
Tate grabbed the other mans hair in response and gave it a sharp tug. He loved the look of hunger in Lukas’s eyes as he began to jump up and down on his lap. The tinker was moaning now, squirming beneath güvenilir casino him as Tate quickened the pace. He relaised he quite liked the new position. It was gratifying being the one in control for a change. He started swiveling his hips and within moments Lukas was rising up to meet him. He felt the insides on his walls coated in hot wetness before Lukas dropped onto his back, his chest heaving and his body covered in a thin coat of sweat.
Tate bent over him and knocked his fist against the elder mans chest softly. “Liven up Lukas, I’m not finished yet.”
The tinker rolled them over until Tate’s body was trapped beneath his and spoke quietly into the half-blood ear. “Don’t worry Shantran, we have all night.” ****************************************** Tanis fell back with a strangled gasp and hurriedly raised his blade. Christian struck at him with such force that it was all Tanis could do to hold onto the sword. Pain rose up his arm in a red haze, making it difficult to think. Sweat and the blood from the shallow cut in his eyebrow were dribbling into his eyes, blinding him. He felt blaring pain in his gut before his feet were knocked out from under him and a blade was pressed firmly against his throat.
“Do you yield little brother?” Christian asked triumphantly, his chest heaving even though there wasn’t a scratch on him.
“I yield,” he gasped. He felt the blade bite into his skin and for a moment he was convinced that Christian had cut his throat open. When the blade was moved he sat up and pressed his hands frantically against the wound but it was a shallow thing, done to further embarrass him. He managed not to flinch back when Christian bent down beside him and clapped his shoulder. “A valiant attempt brother.” He said loudly, for everyone else’s benefit. He leaned in close then and pressed his lips against Tanis’s ear. “This is what happens when you fall under my notice little brother. Start being the invisible little wrench you always were and I shall endeavour to forget you exist. Counteract any order of mine again and I shall begin to take an active interest in you.” he stood up, all smiles and grins and made his way among the fawning nobles watching over him.
Tanis stayed where he was a for a moment, breathing hard and trying to control his fear. He noticed then that his swords master was glaring at him and he was on his feet in a flash. He walked towards him and felt his face burn when a thick hand clipped the side of his head. “What was that?” he asked incredulously. “You practically gave him the win.”
“And what do you think would have happened if I had beat him?” Tanis asked softly, mindful that no one was within hearing distance. “Better to let him think he’s the better fighter. I can sacrifice a little pride if it keeps me alive.”
Kener’s small grey eyes glared down at him. The older man didn’t understand politics. He was a warrior through and through and to him the better fighter meant the better man. It wasn’t always true of course, Tanis had already seen enough in his young life to know better, but it still shamed him a little that his teacher thought less of him because he had given away the win. And given it away he had. Christian was a good fighter, there was no doubt about that, but there were certainly men alive that were better than him. Perhaps if everyone wasn’t so afraid of him he might have been one of the best but he would never face a worthy opponent that wouldn’t eventually yield to him. And how would he get better if no one ever pushed him.
An arm suddenly slip into his and patted his chest gently. Lauria, Tanis’s youngest sister, offered him a sympathetic smile. “I do not know what you did to anger him Tanis but I would not do it again.”
Tanis had to bow to her judgement and yet, “What brings you out here, beside your sage advice.”
“Why I have some gossip of course.” She flashed him a wondrous smile. With their mother’s dirty blonde hair and deep grey eyes she was a model of loveliness, and she knew it. Spoiled little brat, but he loved her dearly. “Have you heard what Christian has commanded? All of the tinkers, and I do mean all of them, are to be rounded up, every last one of them, and there to be either executed, imprisoned or driven out of the country. But do you know what else I’ve heard?” She didn’t give him the chance to ask what. “The soldiers have been given the description of a particular tinker they need to find. A young man in his early twenties, with distinctive amber coloured eyes, light brown skin and brown hair. He said to be slight and he speaks in the high tongue like a noble. Does that remind you of anyone?”
“By the gods!” Tanis gasped. “Surely he can’t! How can father possibly permit this?”
Lauria was having a splendid time telling the tale. “Apparently Christian has told him that he’s doing a purge because their tribes are getting too bold. You know how father hates the travellers. He practically jumped at the idea of being rid of them.” She giggled slightly. “My god, can you imagine the baron’s son, living among the tinkers! He must have been desperate to have stooped so low.” She hesitated a moment before blushing. “You’ve seen him haven’t you? Is he really as fair as everyone is saying?”
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