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Archive-name: Control/darevon2.txt

Archive-author: Wanda Wolfe and Ramon St. Clair  (c) 1987

Archive-title: Dare and Evon - 2

    It was after midday when Evon woke. Dare was already awake

and looking at him.

    "Good morning," Evon yawned.

    "It's afternoon."

    "How long have you been awake?" Evon smiled, lifting a hand to

touch Dare's cheek.

    "Not long. Maybe ten minutes," Dare said, toying with a dark

curl which had fallen across Evon's forehead.

    "And what were you thinking as you lay here looking at me?"

    "About what you did to me, and why I let you do it."

    "Because you had agreed to obey my every command, of course."

    Dare shook his head. "There was more to it than that, and you

know it."

    "Tell me," Evon said.

    "It took me a long time to figure it out, but I think I have.

It's all a question of training, isn't it?"

    "In what way?"

    "Like in the warrior academy, when you're first assigned to

your own trainer. He becomes everything for you at first: brother,

father, lover. And finally, no matter what he asks of you, you'll do

it, just because he believes you can. And you gain in skills beyond

your wildest dreams."

    "What does that have to do with last night?"

    "You started out the evening by sharing great pleasure with

me, far greater than I've ever known with anyone before. By the time

you spanked me, I was tired and drained, but my body had come to

accept you as the source of endless pleasure and delight. You had

become my whole world. And then you wanted to give me pain. A little

part of my mind rebelled and said you had no right, but the rest of me

was so trained to accept you as the giver of pleasure that I couldn't

rebel. Even so, I was still convinced that I could never have pleasure

from something like that. Until I did. And while I was still trying to

cope with that, you began the other."

    Evon smiled slightly. "And?"

    "I still can't believe my body responded to that. You're

unbelievable, Evon."

    "And what will you do when I spank you tonight?" Evon grinned.

    Dare shook with laughter. "Nay, warrior. 'Tis I who'll be the

king tonight, and you who'll squirm under my hand."

    Evon's grin broadened. "Don't bet good coin on it, warrior."

He reached up to pull a heavy silken cord. "I'm starving. How about


    He had a meal brought to them, then they visited the baths

before settling down at the Kasmar board.

    "Two out of three again?" Evon asked.

    "All right," Dare agreed.

    "I believe it's your turn to go first."

    Dare smiled at him. "And your turn to be the slave," he said

lightly, lowering his hand to make the move.

    "Was it so very difficult being my slave last night?" Evon

asked after he made the counter move.

    Dare was silent for several moments, staring down at the

board. Then he lifted his eyes and looked at Evon. "In one way it

was," he said thoughtfully. "I've never given control of myself to

another, in that way or any. It was difficult to surrender so much of

myself. But in another way, it was easy. The pleasure far overrode the

disadvantages. You're an exciting lover, Evon."

    Evon licked his lips, staring down at the board. "But I


    "In what way?" Dare asked softly.

    Evon's jaws tightened and his voice was husky. "I took

everything you had to give, on every level, except the one thing I

wanted most."

    Dare's hand reached toward him, then drew back. "I'm sorry. I

told you I have a lifetime of training in mental and body controls."

    Evon looked up, smiling, and his voice lightened. "I know. I'm

not blaming you. The fault is that of the gods."

    "Do you really believe that?" Dare smiled.

    Evon's eyes danced. "I don't know if I do or not. But it's as

good an explanation as any, isn't it? And it's so much easier to blame

the gods than ourselves when things go not to our liking."

    Dare burst into hearty laughter. "Evon, I like you," he said,

when the laughter tapered off. He reached his hand down and made a


    Evon grinned at him, then looked down at the board. "I like

you, too, Dare. I feel like we've been friends for years. I can't

believe we only met -- By the gods! What a move! I concede defeat in

four moves."

    Dare lifted the wine bottle and poured more wine for them.

    "You might as well concede the second game as well," he said


    "Not on your life! I know when I'm legitimately beat, but I

don't concede defeat without a fight. I believe it's my turn to go


    "I knew that first game was a fluke," Evon chortled, after

winning the second. "Your turn to go first. Ah, Dare, soon you'll be

mine for another night."

    "Don't count your coins before you've earned them," Dare

grinned. "I have very definite plans for what you'll be doing tonight,

and part of it includes hearing the words 'Your Majesty' coming

frequently from your lips, when they're not occupied in bringing great

pleasure to me, that is. Tonight, I'm your king, my friend."

    "Ah, Dare, if it weren't that I'd consider it a fate worse

than death for you, I could almost wish you were to be my king," Evon

sighed. "I could serve a king like you with great joy and pride."

    "But could a king allow you to live after you'd forced him to

serve as your love slave?" Dare asked, eyes hooded even though his

voice was deliberately light.

    Evon shrugged. "Not the kind of king I have, no. But you, yes.

You have the strength and self-confidence to rule a noble who'd done

such a thing to you. And when you saw him in council, and your eyes

met for a moment, there'd be a small, secret sparkle of shared memory

for a moment, and no one would ever suspect."

    "And of course you'd never be tempted to tell anyone you'd

subjected your king to such an indignity?" Dare grinned.

    "Never!" Evon cried, outraged. "I've never in my life talked

to anyone else about my private life. Oh, I might tell small

anecdotes, but never in such a way that the identity of a partner

could ever be known. I don't want others discussing me in such a way,

and so I have no right to discuss them either. And besides," he

grinned, his sense of humor returning. "Think of the delight of

sitting in council, looking up at the king, and being able to ignore

the boring business at hand and remember the time he'd squirmed under

my hard hand and cock. And what would make it extra sweet is the

knowledge that no one else knew, or would ever know. That it was a

private, special secret shared by no one but my king and me. Oh, no,

my friend, such things are not to be told to others, but to be hoarded

away and savored."

    Dare made a move, then silently moaned when he realized that

it would cost him the game in six moves. Evon stared at the board for

a long time, then his hand reached down.

    He'd move the priestess to capture the warrior, Dare knew, and

the game would be Evon's from that point on.

    Evon's hand lingered over the priestess, then turned to the

side and captured an archer instead.

    Dare stared at the board for a long time, then lifted his eyes

to stare at the other man. There was a small secret smile playing

around Evon's mouth, and Dare understood then. He looked back down at

the board and made the move which would assure him victory in four


    Evon grinned up at him. "It would appear I'm yours to command

for the night, Your Majesty," he said lightly.

    He swiftly dropped his eyes as Dare looked up. Then he got up

and came around the table. He touched Dare's face softly, leaning down

to kiss him.

    "You're a very handsome man, Dare," he murmured.

    "Evon, I think you're the most handsome man I've ever

encountered," Dare whispered, eyes wide and unfocused as he turned his

cheek to the soft caress. "And by far the most desirable and


    "It's a little early yet, but I'm ready to assume my role,

sire." He knelt at Dare's feet and kissed his hand. "You are my

sovereign lord for this night, and I'm yours to command."

    Dare leaned down and kissed the broad forehead.

    "Come. I want you to please me with your mouth, as you had me

do to you last night. That looked like a great joy. I want to know

what it feels like to receive so much pleasure."

    "Tell me," Dare whispered, holding the trembling body close to

him. "When you spanked me last night, did you enjoy it?"

    It was well after midnight, and they had nearly exhausted each

other with the force of their great passion.

    "Yes. Because I knew that you'd receive as much pleasure as

pain from it. Most people don't realize how close together pleasure

and pain are, Dare. Can you deny that you did indeed reach a

tremendous height of pleasure?"

    "No, I can't deny it. But it was an almost savage release. Not

the same kind that you get from a slow and sensual buildup of


    Evon lifted his head and looked down at him. "Interesting.

There are many people who are quite addicted to such pleasures. You

can come here to the pleasure house and hire people who'll allow you

to inflict far more pain than a spanking. You can use whips or even

worse implements of torture. Or hire someone to use them on you. Such

have never been my desires, but I know that they exist."

    Dare shivered. "But you've never allowed anyone to bring you

to the heights in such a way?"

    "I've never met anyone strong enough to force me to it," Evon


    Dare's voice was deep and throaty, his eyes narrowed. "But I

don't have to force you. You've mine to command tonight. Perhaps it's

time you learned about that particular joy."

    Evon's face whitened. "I hadn't believed you'd do that to me."

    "But I shall, and you'll submit as you've promised."

    "Yes, I will. But I admit I'm terrified of it."

    Dare's eyebrows lifted, and his eyes opened wider. "Why?

You've known pain before. You're a warrior."

    Evon rolled over onto his back, staring up at the ceiling.

"Yes. I've been cut, and I took an arrow once. And I've been thrown

from a horse a time or two. But that's different."

    "In what way?" Dare queried, lifting up on one elbow to stare

down at him.

    "Getting cut or shot is a one time pain. It happens and it's

over with. It might twinge occasionally as it heals, but warrior

discipline can handle that. And a fall from a horse is the same.

You're bruised and stiff, but your warrior discipline can cope with

it." He swallowed hard. "But a spanking, or the other, is something

that goes on and on. You accept the one slap, but before your mind can

cope with that, another follows right behind it, and then another, all

too fast for you to deal with. And the pain steadily builds, while you

burn inside from it."

    "And you've never experienced this?"

    "No. But I've given it enough times that I understand how it


    Dare nodded slowly. "The philosophical understanding which is

so different from a real understanding. Such as when they tell you

what it's going to be like after you kill your first man. And then

when it actually happens, it is like they told you, but it's so much


    "Yes! Exactly."

    Dare caressed him gently. "Then it's time for you to make your

first kill. Over my knees."

    Evon's breath blew out in a harsh gasp. "You aren't really

going to do that, are you? You're just threatening me."

    "Not at all," Dare said calmly. "I fully intend to do it. Now

lie down over my knees. Remember you've promised to comply willingly

with my orders, and without complaint."

    Evon took a deep breath. "All right," he whispered.

    He slowly stretched out across Dare's knees, positioning his

body as Dare's had been the night before. Dare caressed the buttocks

for a few moments until some of the trembling eased, then his hand

lifted and slapped down hard. Evon stiffened and cried out, a wordless

cry of shock and pain.

    Dare continued the spanking until Evon's bottom was fiercely

red and the other man was sobbing helplessly. Evon had come once, and

was now twitching madly. Dare stopped.

    "Up on the bed. You know the position to take," he said


    "No, please," Evon sobbed. "Dare, I'm begging you. Don't do

that to me."

    Dare folded his arms. "Do as you're commanded."

    Evon took a deep breath and wiped his eyes, then knelt on the

bed, shuddering. His hands lifted to the bar overhead, and he bowed

his head, eyes closed, tears dripping onto his chest.

    Dare caressed him tenderly, wiping the tears from his chest

and face. He showered tender little kisses on Evon's face. Some of the

quaking eased then, and when it did, Dare's hand came crashing down.

For an instant, Evon's hands left the bar and threatened to come down

to cover his cock, but then an iron will caught him, and he slowly

lifted them back to the bar again.

    "My apologies, Your Majesty," he whispered. "That won't happen


    "Good," Dare said calmly, and again lashed out.

    When Dare lowered his mouth to the hard, reddened cock, Evon

cried out wordlessly. Fluid spurted into Dare's mouth, and he drank it

down eagerly. Then he stretched out on the bed.

    "Stay there," he ordered. "I want to see you calm again before

you move."

    Evon took several long deep breaths, until the tears stopped

and his face was composed again.

    "Yes, Your Majesty," he said quietly.

    Dare nodded. "You're a good slave. You please me."

    Evon's mouth quivered with a mixture of pride and other


    "Thank you, sire," he whispered.

    "You may feed me now. I'll wish to ride you soon, and I need

my strength for that."

    Evon shivered, eyes closed, then he moved to the fruit and cut

it into sections, feeding Dare and licking the juice from his chin as

he ate.

    "You may eat, too," Dare said after he'd eaten one of the

fruits. "In whatever manner you desire."

    Evon bit his lip, staring down at Dare's body. Then he smiled

and cut the fruit into small bits, sprinkling it across the taut

abdomen and hard chest. He moved down and slowly nibbled the fruit,

licking the juices as they moved across the firm body. Dare smiled

down at him.

    "You truly are a majestic slave," he said admiringly. "If I

were your king, perhaps I'd bring you to the palace and keep you in a

private chamber for my special pleasure. A fine, prancing, magnificent

stallion of a slave, worthy of a king's attention."

    Evon licked another drop of juice, then closed his eyes.

    "Perhaps if you were my king, I'd be willing to live such a

life, Your Majesty," he whispered.

    "I think for the next hour, I'll allow you to enjoy my body as

you wish. Then I intend to ride you, and ride you well, as a fine

stallion should be ridden."

    Evon licked the last of the fruit from Dare's abdomen.

    "I'm still hungry. Would you turn over, sire, please?"

    Dare laughed and turned over. Evon cut up another fruit and

sprinkled it down Dare's back and across his tight buttocks. Then he

started at the top and slowly nibbled his way down. When he had

finished all the fruit, he slowly licked his way down the crack

between the firm buttocks, ending at the small puckered anus. Dare

spread his legs slightly and Evon drilled at it with his tongue until

it was soft and yielding. Then he stiffened his tongue and forced it

inside, driving it like a finger, feeling the tight anus pulsate

against it. Dare moaned and shivered under him.

    Evon moved his hands under Dare's body to slowly caress the

huge balls, while his tongue continued its relentless drilling. Dare

began shaking, his breath coming harshly.

    "Yes," he groaned. "Yes, yes."

    Evon increased speed and felt the explosion as the hot body

under his tongue began coming. He slowed his movements gradually as

the orgasm's intensity passed. Then he crept up to lie on top of Dare,

kissing his neck and shoulders. "Rest for a while, Your Majesty," he

whispered. "And then I'll get you ready for that ride."

    Dare was riding him, hard, his right hand under Evon to stroke

the other man's cock. Then he lifted his left hand and brought it down

in a stinging slap on one buttock. Evon yelped with shock.

    "Harder," Dare ordered. "Move that ass!"

    "Yes, Your Majesty," Evon cried.

    Dare slapped him again, then switched hands on the cock and

slapped the other buttock a few times. Evon shuddered hard and came.

Dare allowed him to go soft, still riding him, then reached down to

stroke him again.

    "Don't, please. I can't get it up again," Evon groaned. "I'm

all used up."

    Dare slapped one buttock again. "You'll do as you're

commanded, and I order you to rise again."

    Evon trembled under him, moving in a mad rhythm of


    "I can't," he moaned. "It just won't come up again."

    "Yes, it will! I've ordered it to be so, and it will," Dare

said firmly.

    Dare caught the balls in his hand and massaged them, then

began stroking the cock again, his strokes in the tight ass longer and

rougher. And slowly the soft cock began to stir and rise again.

    "I can't take it," Evon gasped. "It almost hurts."

    "Almost isn't enough," Dare whispered. "Come on. Rise to me. I

won't come until you do, and I'll ride you like this until I come. I

love being in your hot, tight ass, Evon. 'Tis better than any wench

I've ever taken, or any ass I've ever been in."

    The cock bloomed out into a rigid rod again, and Dare smiled,

slowing his movements. "You truly are an exceptional slave, Evon," he

said fondly. "I think I'd own you forever if I could."

    Evon bowed his head. "I think I'd let you if I could," he


    Dare pumped him hard, forcing the cock to respond to him, and

when he finally felt it pulsate weakly in his hand, he drove into Evon

with all his strength and let himself go.

    Evon collapsed down on the bed, his harsh breath the only

sound in the room.

    Dare reached out for a small section of the fruit, and held it

to Evon's mouth. Evon took it gratefully.

    "Thank you, Your Majesty," he murmured.

    "You're welcome. My slave has to keep his strength up. There

are only two hours left until dawn. We have much to do before then."

    "If that fruit really works, then you'd better give me a lot

of it, because I admit it. I'm spent," Evon laughed.

    Dare smiled and kissed him lightly. "You don't have to be hard

for what I have planned for the rest of the night. But you have my

consent to get hard and come if you wish."

    Evon rolled over to face him. "And just what do you have

planned for the rest of the night, my beloved king?"

    Dare's smile went warm and loving at the unexpected title. He

licked Evon's lips tenderly before answering. Evon's hand came up to

caress his face.

    "First I want you to nibble all over my body again, as you did

earlier in the night. Then I'm going to have you lie on your back,

like a woman, and spread your legs enough to let me in. I'm going to

stretch out on top of you until we're touching head to toe, like last

night, when I mounted you. And I'll take you very, very slowly and

easily, letting it build so gradually we'll hardly realize it's

happening. Until just before dawn, when we'll finally let go. And then

you may sleep. In my arms, where you belong."

    Evon's finger caressed Dare's lips, and then he closed his

eyes. "Yes, Your Majesty," he sighed.

    When dawn came, they were lying on their sides, Evon's back

pressed tightly against Dare's chest, a single sheet over them. Dare

kissed the bare back gently, then closed his eyes and followed the

other into sleep.

    When Dare woke, Evon was lying on his side facing him, staring

intently at him.

    "Good morning," Dare said softly.

    Laughter replaced the intensity in the warm gray eyes. "It's


    "How long have you been awake?" Dare smiled, lifting a hand to

touch Evon's cheek.

    "Not long. Maybe ten minutes," Evon chuckled. "Actually more

like fifteen, I'd guess."

    "And what were you thinking as you lay here looking at me?"

    "I was thinking of the difference between being a master and a


    "And?" Dare kissed him gently.

    "I've always been the master before, in any relationship I've

had. Never surrendering one small segment of control. And last night I

not only surrendered it, but gloried in it, even while it devastated

me to do so. I was terrified, even though I knew you wouldn't truly

hurt me. And I couldn't understand why I was so terrified."

    "But you understand now."

    "Yes. I wasn't terrified of the pain, but of the fact that I

might love it, that I might joy in it. That I might surrender so

totally to you that I'd break, and I'd never be able to command again.

That I'd become a true slave."

    "That didn't happen."

    "No. I can still command. It didn't break me."

    "I'm glad," Dare said tenderly. Then he chuckled. "Well, my

handsome slave, I'm not sure I'll ever let you go home now. I think I

might keep you in Aurora with me forever."

    Evon sank down on the bed, hands behind his head. "Don't tempt

me, Dare. By the time this is over, that might be more temptation than

I can handle. But as much as I might wish it, I cannot do it. I have

too many duties and responsibilities at home."

    Dare caressed Evon's chest gently. "You're a member of the

nobility. There's no doubt about that. What level are you?" he asked.

    "I'm the only son of a duke," Evon sighed.

    Dare was silent for a long moment.

    "So you're to be a duke," he said at last. "The highest office

in the land, save that of the king himself. Much responsibility

indeed. But I have the feeling you don't want that responsibility."

    "No, I don't. You're right. I never have. I've seen the price

my father has had to pay for it, and I shrink from having to pay the

same price. But I will do it, because our people are good people, and

they deserve a buffer between them and that -- and those above us."

    Dare kissed his forehead gently. "Evon, if you want to talk,

I'll listen to you. And you have my word of honor that I'll hold your

words in confidence, and that I won't think you dishonorable for

expressing your frustration."

    Evon drew him down for a kiss.

    "Thank you. But it's not fair to burden a lover with your

troubles. Come. Let's go get something to eat and then a bath. We have

to rest tonight, since tomorrow we start for Aurora."

    Evon was almost asleep that night when the door to his room

opened silently. He looked up, body tensed for movement.

    "It's me," a soft voice said. "I don't think we can make love

all night again, since we have to be on the trail early. But I thought

you might want to share one time, and then sleep in my arms."

    Evon held out his arms. "I would like that, very much," he


    They lay in each other's arms, kissing sweetly, touching each

other, more in tenderness than in passion. Then Dare turned around so

his head was next to Evon's cock, and his own cock was by Evon's head.

Evon accepted the invitation, licking the huge balls and sucking them

into his mouth as he felt Dare doing the same to him. Then they were

sucking each other, slowly and gently until suddenly Dare went all the

way to the root of Evon's cock, at the same time thrusting his own

deeply into Evon's throat, pulsating wildly. Evon shuddered and let

go, feeling Dare suck the last drop from him.

    They were still for a few moments, arms locked around each

other's bodies, then Dare slowly moved up and kissed Evon deeply.

    "Good night, my beloved warrior," he whispered.

    "Good night, sweet lover," Evon murmured.

    Dare nestled him close and they were both almost instantly


    They'd been on the road for a week, when rain caught them near

a small inn. The innkeeper had several rooms free, so they took them,

and enjoyed hot meals and baths before retiring. Dare and Evon shared

one of the rooms.

    "It's nice to be clean and have a real bed again," Evon

murmured, when the door was fastened behind them. "And to have you

alone for a change. I've missed you these past few nights."

    "And I as well," Dare said softly. "I've longed to feel your

hands and mouth on my body."

    Evon shuddered. "I've dreamed of that. Part of me wants to

throw you on the bed and savagely take you. But another part of me

wants to lie back and go slowly, savoring every moment of it, letting

it build higher and higher until we find mutual release."

    "I could enjoy either one. I'll let you choose."

    Evon took a deep breath. "Then I choose the second. It'll be

sweeter, even if the other would bring release quicker."

    When they were lying warm and content in each other's arms,

Dare kissed him gently.

    "Evon, I think I'm falling in love with you."

    Evon chuckled and caressed his face tenderly. "You're slow. I

fell in love with you that first night, when you didn't cry and beg no

matter what I did to you. And yet you made me cry and beg the next

night with such a small amount of effort."

    Dare shook his head. "It took more effort than you think it

did. You don't give up easily, my friend."

    Evon licked Dare's lips gently. "It's going to hurt me to give

you up. I can't bear the thought of going home and leaving you behind.

I don't suppose there's any chance you might go home with me."

    Dare rose on one elbow and looked down at him. "Tell me a

little about your homeland."

    Evon looked up at him for a long time, then took a deep breath

and stared up at the ceiling, one hand behind his head and the other

stroking Dare's back.

    "I want you to come home with me, but it isn't fair to you.

I'll tell you about my home, the truth, but you must keep what I tell

you confidential. It's dishonorable to talk ill of one's home, even

when telling the truth."

    Dare leaned down and kissed him gently. "It would be more

dishonorable to take a lover home with you without forewarning him."

    "I know, and that's the only thing that could make me tell you

the things I'm going to."

    He was staring at the ceiling and missed the intensity in

Dare's eyes.

    "One of the worst things about royalty and nobility is that

they tend to inbreed," Evon said reflectively. "Which after a while

brings out some nasty characteristics. A wise line brings in some

fresh blood every few generations, to prevent it. I'm lucky. Both my

maternal grandmother and my paternal great-grandmother were commoners.

They brought enough fire into the line to give us a little more spirit

than most noble lines."

    "A lot more, I'd say," Dare murmured, kissing him lightly.

Evon smiled and closed his eyes.

    "The royal line in my country has degenerated badly. The king

is a selfish, arrogant dolt, who spends little time on government,

which his toady advisers are all too happy about since it allows them

to run the kingdom as they wish. The king himself spends most of his

free time with a priceless collection of catamites."

    "I'm sorry. I don't know the word. Is it a rare breed of

animal?" Dare said, frowning slightly.

    "You might say that," Evon said harshly. "They're small boys

kept for his pleasure. The king doesn't function with men or women,

you see. Only boys aged four to nine."

    Dare's jaws tightened. "I'd heard there were such men, but a


    "Indeed. Who can better indulge such tastes? Who's to gainsay

him? And his advisers know how to cater to him. They search the

kingdom regularly to find choice little morsels for his bed. Parents

with pretty boy children try to keep them hidden, or send them to the

warrior academy. My own father sent me to the academy when I was but

two, frightened of what might happen to me."

    Dare shivered. "Does he have children?"

    "He has but one, and that a son."

    "Don't tell me he'd do that!"

    "He might well have, if he'd had the chance. But when he was a

young prince, his father worried about him and his tastes, and decided

to seek outside the kingdom for a bride for him. They sent to far

Aurora for a princess to be his wife. The father of the bride drew up

an extensive contract to cover the marriage, and one of the small

clauses in it stated that the woman had the right to rear any children

in her own religion. The king's advisers thought nothing of that. Who

cares what religion a boy is raised in, especially when he's in a

country where that religion doesn't even exist?"

    "Somehow I have an idea where this story is leading. She sent

the boy away to be fostered in his own religion, and the king couldn't

do anything about it, right?" Dare smiled.

    "You've got a quick mind, my friend," Evon grinned. "That's

exactly what happened. Only two trusted nobles in the land knew where

she sent him to be fostered, and neither she nor they would tell. The

king can't keep his mind on anything for long, so he didn't worry

about it. But his advisers have been tortured by it for years. They've

done everything they could think of to find the boy, including sending

spies to Aurora, but they've been unable to find him."

    "And this prince of yours is the man you seek?"

    "Yes. My father was one of the nobles she trusted with the

secret that she'd sent him to be fostered at Mega, with his uncle,

whom I believe must be Beron."

    Dare shook his head. "His uncle died when he was small. Beron

is his foster father. So you seek to bring your prince back to your


    Evon stared up at the ceiling. "I seek him to inform him of

the situation. My father would like him to return and begin preparing

for his role as ruler. But of course the final decision will have to

be that of the crown prince himself."

    "When you say 'the situation', what do you mean?"

    "The kingdom is so rotten now that I don't know if it's

possible to repair the damages. My father thinks it is possible, and

that Prince Chandar can do it. I wish I could believe it, Dare, but

I'm young and more cynical than my father."

    "What do you think will happen if your prince returns with


    Evon sighed deeply. "I see only two possibilities. If he's

corruptible, he'll be corrupted rapidly there. And then the rottenness

will only grow worse. If he's incorruptible, the advisers will wait

only until he has wed and produced an heir. Then they'll poison him,

and they'll make sure his son doesn't get out of their hands to be

fostered elsewhere. They'll raise him to be the puppet they want."

    "Suppose he was incorruptible. Suppose he surrounded himself

with good men, like you, to make sure no assassin got to him. Do you

think he'd have a chance at correcting the situation?"

    "Even I couldn't protect him from poison, my friend."

    "There are ways of protecting an individual from poison. We

know these things in Aurora."

    Evon looked at him. "I've heard that there are sorcerers in


    "It's true. Your prince has spent the past ten years at the

sorcery academy. I think he can defend himself from poison quite well,

if he has good men with him to help protect him from other things."

    Evon took a deep breath and then pulled Dare down into his


    "Dare, my beloved, you've just given me the first hope I've

had for my kingdom in many years. It's probably crazy, but maybe, just

maybe, he can do it."

    His heart raced under Dare's ear, and his strong body

trembled. "It's too much to believe," he whispered. "He can't do it.

But, by the gods, maybe he can. Dare, I swear to you and to my gods,

I'll help him. I'll give up everything to help him, even if it costs

me my life."

    He lifted Dare from him and looked up into the blue eyes.

    "I'd even give up you for this, and that's the greatest

sacrifice I could make."

    Dare smiled down at him. "Perhaps I can help as well."

    "Beloved, with you and me and a few other good warriors to

help him, maybe he could do it. Dare, I'm afraid to hope, but I can't

help it." He hugged Dare hard. "I know we should rest, but my blood is

boiling now. Please make love to me."

    Dare kissed him fiercely, and Evon rose to him with passion.

    Two days later, they came to a wide river just before midday.

Evon grinned. "What do you say we stop and have a bath and some lunch

before going on?"

    His men cheered and hastened to dismount. Half of them

stripped and went into the water while the other half began caring for

the horses and making a fire.

    "Your men are well trained," Dare commented.

    "Aye. I picked the finest of the lot to come with me. If we're

to take the prince back with us, I want the best helping me get him


    "Hey, Evon!" came a call from the water. "Want fish for lunch?

Throw me a knife."

    Evon drew his knife and threw it low over the water. Pax, a

huge dark-haired warrior, caught it and dived under the water. He

resurfaced in a few moments with a large dark fish, its body still

wiggling from the struggle for life.

    "Wish I could get a few more, but they all scattered when I

took this one," Pax said, handing the fish to Evon, who leaned down to

get it.

    "How many do you want? I can call them back to you," Dare


    He put his hand in the water and closed his eyes,

concentrating deeply. Evon watched him as closely as Pax did. After a

few moments, Dare took his hand from the water and smiled at them.

    "There. They're back, and you can take all you want of them,"

he said lightly.

    "How did you do it?" Evon asked, as Pax went back under the


    Dare shrugged. "Sorcery."

    "I didn't know you were a sorcerer."

    "I'm an Adept, which is more or less an advanced student. I

went to the sorcery academy for a few years after I won my sword."

    "What else can you do, besides enspelling fish?"

    Dare laughed. "Some healing, of course. I can conjure food or

drink to me when I want it, or start a fire easily. Things like that."

    "What kind of healing?"

    "Wounds. I'll show you. Here. Cut your arm. Just a small

shallow cut."

    He handed Evon his knife. Evon shrugged and cut a small slash

in his arm. Dare ran his finger slowly down the slash, concentrating

intently, and it closed, leaving only a faint pink mark.

    "Amazing," Evon breathed. "Can you do that with more serious

wounds as well?"

    "Yes. But it's very draining. It draws on your mental

resources just as fighting draws on your physical resources. There's a

limit as to how much can be done without resting and eating."

    Pax came over with another fish. Evon absently stuck Dare's

knife in his belt and reached down to get it.

    Later when Pax was finished with the fish, and came back with

Evon's knife, Dare took it and stuck it in his own belt, in place of

the one Evon was now wearing.

    They were just sitting down to eat when a small group of

warriors came riding up. Evon stood, hands near his weapons. Dare

noticed that his men put down anything they were holding, and their

own hands strayed near their weapons, while their eyes stayed glued to


    The leader of the warriors halted the group twenty feet from

them, and rode on alone.

    "We are warriors of Lord Hazelton," he said courteously. "We'd

hoped to bathe and eat here before continuing our journey. Will you

share the space with us, or would you prefer that we wait until you

move on?"

    Before Evon could answer him, Dare stood up. "Hazelton's men?

How is His Lordship? And Peter, his elder son?"

    The warrior's face creased in a broad grin. "His Lordship is

fine, and only wishes he had an elder son, or any son for that matter.

Peter is his sister's son, who is fostered with His Lordship. We take

betrothal contracts to Mega for his only child, a lovely daughter."

    Dare moved forward and held out his hand, letting his eyes go

gold as he did so.

    "My name is Dare," he said.

    The warrior nodded slowly as his eyes met Dare's. "My name is

Kel," he said, as the eyes went back to blue. He shook the offered

hand firmly.

    Dare turned to Evon. "They're all right, Evon. I trained with

Hazelton's nephew. Let them bathe in peace."

    Evon nodded. "We caught some fish. You and your men are

welcome to share it with us, Kel. There's plenty."

    "Excellent. We thank you. Hit the water, men."

    They all stripped and plunged into the water, leaving their

horses to graze near the other horses.

    Evon shook his head. "Too trusting. I'd never let all of my

men leave their weapons and go in the water while a group of strangers

stood guard."

    Dare smiled. "They wouldn't have trusted you as much if I

weren't with you. As I said, I know their lord's nephew. They know I

wouldn't be traveling with anyone who meant them harm."

    Evon shook his head. "Still, 'tis too lax."

    Dare just smiled and bit into the fish.

    After they ate, Dare drew Kel to one side. "Thank you for not

giving me away. Do you plan to go by the warrior academy while you're

in Mega?"

    "We could. Do you have a message to send?"

    "My foster father is there. His name is Beron. Just tell him

that you saw me and I was well."

    Kel nodded. "I'll deliver it personally, Highness. May the

gods go with you and bring you safely home."

    Dare smiled sadly. "I'm afraid my path home may be fraught

with many rocks, but I thank you for the good wishes. And I wish the

same for you."

    Evon looked over at him a little later, as they rode down the


    "You're very quiet this afternoon, Dare. Anything wrong?"

    Dare smiled at him. "Those warriors just brought up some

unhappy memories, that's all. I'm fine. All I need is a few hours

alone with you, my beloved."

    Evon took his hand and squeezed it. "I need it, too, Dare."

    It was mid-afternoon two weeks later when they arrived at the

sorcery academy in Aurora. Evon looked at it curiously as they

approached the gate.

    "It's so white and graceful. It looks nothing like a military

academy," he commented.

    "And is nothing like it," Dare chuckled. "There's a garden

which rivals that of any king. We'll have to take a long walk through


    Evon took a deep breath. "Dare, I don't know how much of my

time he'll take while I'm here. Or even how long I'll be here."

    "Don't worry about that. I have business here, and won't have

much free time either. But I'll spend as much time with you as


    Evon started to speak, then closed his mouth as they drew near

the massive gates.

    "Enter, my lord," one of the guards said, bowing courteously.

"If you'll give your horse and your men to this boy, he'll see that

they're cared for properly. And if you'll go with me, I'll see to a

bath and refreshments for you, then take you to the Master."

    Evon dismounted and inclined his head slightly. "I thank you."

    Dare touched his arm. "I have to go take care of some things,

Evon. I'll see you later."

    Evon smiled and nodded, then followed the guard to the baths.

The woman in charge of the baths courteously provided him with a

comfortable gray robe to don afterward. Then he was taken to a small

room for a meal.

    "Would you like to rest first, my lord, or go to meet the

Grand Master?" the servant asked as Evon finished eating.

    "I'd like to meet the Grand Master. Actually, I'd like to meet

Prince Chandar, but I assume courtesy requires that I meet your Master


    "Yes, my lord," the man smiled.

    "All right. Lead me to him."

    The Grand Master was a red-robed old man, bent and gray, more

wrinkled than anyone Evon had ever met. But his amber eyes glowed with

intelligence and curiosity. Evon bowed deeply before him and then

introduced himself.

    "You honor us with your presence, my lord," the old man said,

his voice surprisingly strong for one so old.

    "Nay, Master. 'Tis I who am honored to be here," Evon said


    "You may sit. May I offer you wine or kizra?"

    "Kizra, please."

    The old man's hands moved, and suddenly a steaming cup of

kizra appeared on the table before Evon. A glass of wine appeared

before the old man.

    A sudden dilation of his pupils was the only thing which

betrayed Evon's amazement.

    "You seek your prince?" the old man asked, amusement in his


    "Yes, Master."

    A small bell appeared on the table and the Master rang it. A

servant appeared in the doorway.

    "Send the Crown Prince of Hearivon to me," the old man said.

    The servant bowed and disappeared.

    "You have been long on the road," the Master said to Evon.

    "Nearly two months, Master. And the same to return. A long,

weary time."

    "I invite you to spend a few days here and rest before your


    "That's not my decision to make, though I thank you for the

courtesy. I must abide by my prince's wishes in the matter."

    The Master smiled. "He is not so cruel as to send you back out

on the trail without a few days of rest, unless the matter were one of

tremendous urgency."

    Evon smiled. "Nonetheless, it must be his decision, not mine.

I am but the bearer of news, Master. He is my sovereign, and must

decide what to do with that news."

    "He has been a son to me. It's difficult to think of him as a

crown prince."

    The door opened and a tall man with blond curls and golden

eyes entered the room, dressed in a robe similar to Evon's, except

that the newcomer's was a rich blue color. He walked across the room,

but before he could speak, Evon had knelt at his feet, head bowed.

    "Your Highness," he said.

    "Who are you, warrior?" a deep voice asked regally.

    Evon lifted his head to look up at the majestic figure.

    "Evon, son of the Duke of Crystalia. I bring news for you from

your homeland, Your Highness."

    "Please take your seat, my lord. What is this news you bring?"

    Evon glanced back at the Grand Master. "Would you prefer to

talk in private, Your Highness?"

    "The Master may know anything I know. Sit down and drink your

kizra before it cools. I'll join you with some wine, while you give me

your news."

    Evon bowed slightly, and waited until the prince had seated

himself before taking his seat again. Chandar moved his hand slightly

and a glass of wine appeared before him. Evon lifted his cup and took

a drink, feeling his heart race.

    "I was told by my guide that you had become a sorcerer, Your

Highness, but I admit that until the evidence confronted me, I found

it difficult to accept."

    "I've been told I'll need many skills and much help if I'm to

be king in your country, my lord."

    "In my country, Your Highness?" Evon asked softly, emphasizing

the word 'my'.

    A quick grin flashed. "I see I have to guard my tongue with

you, my lord. Of course it is my country, too, though I haven't been

there since I was two years old. It's rather difficult to think of a

country as your own when you have no memories of it."

    Evon took another drink. "There are many people there who'll

be all too happy to tell you everything you need to know, Your

Highness," he said, trying to keep cynicism from his voice.

    "Or at least everything they think I should know, true or

not?" the prince asked, amusement in his voice.

    Evon looked up at him then, and a grin broke through. "Yes,


    The golden-eyed man leaned back in his chair. "So what is this

news you bring me?"

    Evon looked down at his cup, then slowly lifted his eyes.

    "The Queen is dead," he said softly, gently.

    "I know. I've known for several weeks. But thank you for

coming to tell me."

    "No one could have -- oh, sorcery."

    "Do you have other news?"

    "A request from my father. He would like you to come home and

begin preparation for assuming the throne. There is much that needs to

be done, Your Highness. My men and I would be honored to escort you,

if you'll permit it."

    "And is there more?"

    "No, Your Highness, unless you wish specific news about

anything. I'll give you whatever information I can."

    "You'll rest here, and we'll talk more later. Then we'll leave

in three days."

    He stood, and Evon swiftly came to his feet to bow deeply.

"Yes, Your Highness."

    Chandar left the room after a brief nod. Evon drew in a deep

breath, hope shining in his eyes.

    "You seem impressed with your new sovereign," the Master said,

eyes glinting with amusement.

    "I am, Master. And hopeful, but very fearful on his behalf. He

knows not what he faces going back there."

    "Perhaps he knows more than you think he does. And perhaps

with someone like you at his side to advise him, there's more call for

hope than fear."

    Evon looked down at the old man. "I hope you're right, Master.

Because while I'd die willingly for him, I think I'd much prefer

living for him," he said wryly.

    The old man laughed.

    "You have a sense of humor which matches his. You two will do

well together, I think."

    He rang the bell, and a servant appeared.

    "Show Lord Evon to his suite, please."



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