|by Kira Stone |
cover art by Bryan Keller
|Genre(s): Futuristic, Hot Flashes|
|Theme(s): Gay and Lesbian|
|Length: Hot Flash|
Neal dives into a secluded pool hoping to find release for his aching body and his troubled mind. Instead, he finds Saul. The scribe is everything Neal could dream of -- and yet he knows he dares not pursue his desires, for Saul is a Scribe.
Saul wants Neal, but not in servitude. Even a slave can make choices, and Neal chooses to make love to the man who opens his mind -- and his heart.
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Moonlight strokes the rocks and vegetation bracketing the waterfall with its ghostly fingers. Crystal clear water tumbles from one shallow pool to another, tugged down by gravity's inexorable grip. Flowers bend in the gentle breeze, and nocturnal creatures add to nature's nightly chorus as they go about their lives. It is perfect. It is peaceful.
It is a place where possibilities are born... although it would take me some time to realize it.
Although I've travelled past this location many times before, this particular spot is unfamiliar to me. It is, however, a welcome sight. I am weary and need a place to rest for the night. The pool looks so inviting. Perhaps a swim before bedding down would help erase the strains of the day.
Rushing water stifles my tired groan as I remove my silks. Little more than scraps of black fabric to cover the most male part of me, held together by a single braided strand of rope. Even so, I treat them with care for they are all I have to shield me against the elements so I set them on a rock beside the water.
The journey to this place, this moment in time, has not been an easy one. My body bears the scars of battles fought, some still fresh. See there, across my wrist, the lines of red? A demon who nearly bereft me of my life left those marks with his razor sharp claws. I can't decide whether to praise the gods or curse them for sending the district's healer along to save me when they did.
My spirit is equally marred. Hope has crawled into some dark corner of my soul. I dine on regrets and guilt, a meal that doesn't sustain a man of thirty-eight for very long. And yet, here I am, still living and breathing. I don't know why.
I ponder this as I move toward the edge of the lowest pool. The water is warmer than I expect given the lack of the sun's warming rays, and I find myself drawn into its embrace. At its deepest, it rises no higher than my waist. I swim the breadth of it several times before finding a rock near the middle to sprawl on.
My limbs dangle loosely, toying with the surface, and I stare up at the heavens with the three moons of Trinity hanging low in the sky, searching for answers.
This is how he must have first seen me, looking like some debauched sprite fallen to ground.
I take no notice of the stranger in my midst at first. Slowly, he colors my world. Sound grows clearer, flowers perfume the night air, and everything around me begins to hum with a vibrancy as though it's newly awakened to life.
I sit up and spy a ripple of midnight blue, just a shade paler than the sky, along the edge of the pool. He stops moving, and his cloak settles around him. Just as my surroundings burst into full life, so does he. Dark blue cloth wraps his rugged frame from neck to knee. His mahogany hair curls back from his face. Black boots and gloves cover his feet and hands. Though a handsome man by any rational person's account, I remain unfazed.
Until I reach his eyes.
How is it possible to see one's soul through their eyes? It's a myth I never believed until I met this stranger. Although I've always been partial to blue, it's not the rich color that holds me captive.
It has little to do with the expression on his face, which seems faintly amused at coming upon me bathing in the moonlight as he had. Nor is it the air of danger and sexual prowess that he exudes. No, it is the reflection of a lifetime of experiences, good and bad, hovering in those blue, blue eyes that I cannot look away from.
Oddly, I'm slightly ashamed of my nakedness for the first time in my humble life. He is the only Master in sight; I am merely a servant boy. I have nothing that he does not give me, including my life. Appearing naked before him should be as natural as breathing and yet I long for some form of cover, as if his eyes might delve into me too deeply otherwise.
Slowly I recall my duty and slip from the stone, back into the water. I swim across to him, kneeling in the shallows when I reach the water's edge. Still I cannot look away from his face and those startling eyes. "Master, may this boy be of service to you?"
He breathes deep, his broad chest expanding, before answering in a commanding yet gentle tenor. "Tell me your name, boy."
"This one is called Neal, Master."
"And you may call me Saul."
I admit I'm not often at a loss for words, but that request stopped all thought from forming in my brain. A Master wants me, a slave, to refer to him by name? Unheard of! "Master, are you sure?"
He laughs and the sound is more cleansing to me than the crystal clear water. "When we are alone, yes. I want to hear my name from your lips."
He is Master. I am slave. I shouldn't question his requests. And yet... "But Master, I am only a boy. I have no right to speak your name."
"You have whatever rights I give you, and I grant you permission to use my name." He cocks his head to the side in consideration, then adds, "For tonight."
His expression hasn't changed, but there's something in his manner that convinces me he is serious. I didn't wish to cross him, for even one of the scribe caste could be dangerous if provoked. "Yes, Mas -- Yes, Saul. May this boy be of service to you?"
"Perhaps it is I who am here to serve you," he suggests with a smile.
A great and mighty Master would lower himself to serve a humble boy? It had never been done before in my knowledge and I can only think of one reason for him to suggest it. "Is this a test for me, to see if I will behave properly?"
"No, Neal. It is merely a suggestion."
It's the first of many possibilities he shows me this night. Even now my body trembles with the memories of that first spectacular glimpse of what could be.
"How would you... Boy can... This is not..." No thought would complete itself in my brain before a new one birthed.
Saul laughs again as he presses his finger to my lips. "Easy, Neal. Do not hurt yourself."
I search the depth of his eyes for some explanation for what is happening. All I find are more questions. "Saul..."
With a smile on his face, he commands, "Come with me."