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Chief Manz had planned an official visit to the neighboring region of Renakan. Prince Hammand was expected to travel with his parents and sisters while his brothers were left to man the fort in their father’s absence.
Asgar was more than happy to go along. He knew that the more places he traveled, the better his chances of discovering where he could be from. Any place was better than no place. And it gave him some peace knowing that he was searching, albeit not of his own choice.
The only snag was the extremely uncomfortable ride on the carriage. Despite being bigger and more spacious than the one that carried the rest of the servants and slaves, having to sit on a meager cushion (which Hammand had snuck underneath him when no one was looking) on the floor for the entire ten hour bumpy journey was not his idea of enjoyment. The horses that pulled the carriage were fast and he felt every stop and jerk they made.
At least this told him he was definitely not used to travelling this way. So his previous station couldn’t be too low down the ladder… could he? It was not like his bones were breaking or anything; it was having to sit in one crouched position for so long with no room to stretch his long limbs. There were only two stops made the whole time, not nearly enough to relieve him. Maybe he wasn’t as strong as he thought.
He couldn’t look out of the window to see the various sights they passed but Hammand made sure to describe everything he saw of interest. Asgar knew that Hammand worried about his reaction for he had nervously explained how the trip might be uncomfortable for him on and on until Asgar had had to distract him.
Since they had climbed into the carriage Hammand had remained apprehensive and kept touching Asgar at his feet with as much subtlety as he could. It was only when the big man shifted backwards so that the prince’s legs were against his back that Hammand relaxed a little.
Asgar noticed the princesses were watching them with interest now. A lot of interest. He knew that if they had not guessed there was something between them the night he met them, they probably would be getting there now. He wasn’t sure this was a good thing.
* * * *
They arrived in the city of Renakan late at night and were heartily welcomed by the royal family. There was Chief Ker, his Queen Camarina and their array of four daughters, all good-looking but not overly beautiful.
Renakan was on the lower rung of power amongst the regions, so they had a big impression to make, for Renadi was the third richest in the whole land. The first was Renan, the mainland where the King lived, a most beautiful and wondrous place and the second was Renagoa.
The Renakans orchestrated an entourage of half-naked dancers and acrobats, all dressed in fantastic attires with elaborate decorations covering the carriages that bore them and exotic animals to escort them into the city from its gates. It was as if the entire people of the city were out in the square heralding their arrival.
That was when it irked Prince Hammand a bit; what was all the fuss for? He had visited other lower rung regions in the past and granted, there had always been pomp and pageantry but not like this. It was then that he began to wonder if there was something else going on.
When they were led into the palace, royals first, Asgar got a chance to stretch his long limbs and have a look around. Asgar could see that from the wealth displayed in the palace, that Renakan was a relatively rich place. But it was not nearly as grand or as large as Renadi, you could tell from the small city gate. He felt nothing familiar about the city; it was all strange to him, even the dialect the people spoke. His heart sank, just a little bit.
Soon it was obvious that Prince Hammand was the centre of attention, which was strange considering that he was not the heir to the Renadi throne. Asgar noticed that the red carpet was littered with flowers only when Prince Hammand walked past and he was put to the right of the Chief Ker.
Something was up, Asgar could tell.
Luckily, Prince Hammand was in no mood for entertainment and when they were all in the confines of the throne room, he immediately but politely asked to go to bed. His sisters joined in as well, yawning for good measure. Their hosts understood this and offered them a light supper to be eaten in their respective chambers before slumber.
The girls were shown their bedchamber first and Hammand saw them settled in before he headed for his.
Once they had eaten and were ready for bed, all the servants left. Prince Hammand turned to Asgar apologetically.
“I’m okay my prince…” Asgar said unnecessarily. But his voice was weary. The prince said nothing, just pushed Asgar onto the bed and pulled his slippers off. Maneuvering the huge man onto his belly he clambered onto Asgar’s broad back.
He ignored the feeble protests that the tired man tried to make and began to massage canlı bahis his shoulders and lower back as best he could. He felt so guilty when he got to his buttocks, very sore indeed judging from the subtle catch in Asgar’s breath as he began to knead into them; thinking he would need to ensure that he had his own carriage next time they went on a journey. No way he was putting Asgar through this again, he didn’t care how strong Asgar was. It had been a long tiresome journey in an uncomfortable position. Besides, everyone needed taking care of by the one they… he closed his eyes at this thought and took a deep breath… loved.
By the time he had slowly worked his way down to Asgar’s legs, the big man was fast asleep. Hammand smiled in delight, as he made sure he covered Asgar with the soothing ointment before tucking him in. He snuggled in tight beside him, yawning and falling asleep almost immediately.
* * * *
They were both so tired that they did not awaken at their normal early hour. It was nice that Hammand had no duties for a change and he wanted to make the most of it. He also wanted Asgar to rest a bit more.
His deep slumber confirmed how tired he was when the servant’s tentative knocking did nothing to rouse him at all.
“We are here to ready you for the morning, our Prince.” Thankfully they didn’t dare come in.
The prince called out sternly that he was not to be bothered for the next three hours. Asgar just slept on through it. Hammand joined him soon enough, enjoying the sight of his slave’s relaxed face for a while.
An hour later, his sisters burst in excitedly, eager to start their tour of the place and people.
They found their brother and his slave fast asleep in each other’s arms, lost to the world. Arina and Kitina stared at each other and then at the bed again, both inwardly thankful that it had been them that had burst in and not their mother for they both looked so… intimate.
It was almost like Hammand was in a cocoon. He was curled completely into Asgar, who was tilted sideways yet holding Hammand tight against him. Asgar’s huge frame was wrapped around the prince so you could hardly see him. Their legs were tangled, with Hammand’s little leg thrown over the huge man’s toned thigh.
Even as they awakened slowly, they remained in tune with each other, nuzzling into each other’s faces, bodies stretching and tangling even more before snuggling back again as if to go back to sleep further.
That is until Asgar turned sleepily. And stiffened.
He said nothing, but his body language alerted a sleepy Hammand and he turned as well, eyes widening in shock as he scrambled to sit upright. He grew beet red in embarrassment as he tugged the covers over Asgar’s half-naked body, thankful that he was fully dressed at least.
“Wh-what ar-e you girls doing here?” he managed, looking around helplessly.
“Waking you up Hammand?” Princess Arina said softly. There was confusion on her face.
“You didn’t knock.” He protested half-heartedly.
“Yes we did.” She said, getting a mighty nudge from her sister.
“No we didn’t!” Princess Kitina confessed excitedly.
“Okay fine, we didn’t knock. We wanted to surprise you. But it looks like you’ve surprised us.”
Asgar stood up at that, knowing they needed to talk, preferably without him present. “I’ll go prepare the bath, my prince. Good morning Princesses.” They returned his greeting with a nod, Princess Kitina trying hard not to smile.
“Asgarrr…?” Hammand began with a frown. He didn’t care that his sisters knew about them. It was a relief actually, albeit an embarrassing one. He wanted the whole world to know but he had especially been aching to tell them.
“You need to talk with them, my prince.” Asgar said as he held the bedchamber door open. “I will only be right out here in the bath chamber… if you need me.”
Hammand nodded sulkily, slumping back into the bed. His sisters jumped into bed with him as soon as Asgar was out the door, consumed with giggles and talking over themselves.
“What’s going on?”
“Mother will kill you! In your bed!”
“Have you been with him?”
“You better not have!”
“Stop okay!” he laughed, raising both hands. “We haven’t done anything. I just like to keep him close, that’s all.”
“Very close it seems,” said Princess Arina, the voice of the most reason between the twin girls. “You have to be careful Hammand. It could have been mother who walked in not us. Imagine that. You could get your Asgar punished. You know she wouldn’t hesitate.”
Hammand shrugged off the shiver of dread that coursed through him. “No one comes into our presence without knocking. You know that! The servants were here much earlier and I sent them away. If you had only knocked…”
“Fine, we should have knocked. We apologize. Still this is very serious. I mean I sensed your closeness with him that day we met him but not like this.” Arina scolded, a deep frown creasing her beautiful bahis siteleri face. “Hammand…”
“I think I love him.” Hammand confessed, getting it out in the open.
“Oh Hammand. You cannot!” That was very different from simply keeping him close, Kitina thought.
Hammand held his head in his hands and his sisters were at his side at once. “You think I don’t know? But that’s how I feel. I can’t help it. At first I thought it would dwindle away but everyday it feels like I love him more and more. I feel like I’m going to burst soon if we keep hiding it. This secret is such a burden.”
The twins were speechless at his intense expression of emotion, realizing that their little brother must truly be in love.
He went on. “I didn’t choose to fall for him. It just happened. Now I feel like I would die for him.”
“Oh brother.” Kitina whispered soothingly.
“He is so magnificent… Shetna says he may be of royal blood. Honestly now, that is my only hope, because I know mother and father will never let me be with a slave.”
“You want to be with him?” Princess Arina asked tentatively. “You want to be wed to him?”
He didn’t look up.
“But if he is royal and you kept him as a slave that is not good either.” Kitina added. “You know the law.”
“Yes. I know.” He answered their questions simultaneously.
Keeping a royal or nobleman as a slave was a serious offence entrenched eons ago after the Masik War. In Goren, where there are no more royals left to rule a region whether by death or misadventure, the land is shared amongst all the regions it shared a border with.
Due to this, the war saw royals disappearing like wild fire and a good number of regions were lost due to this madness. This was what gave birth to the rule. To keep the regions, whether at war or not, from taking neighboring royals into slavery to reduce their lineage and take their land. And it applied and remained punishable even if there was no such intention.
Punishable by death.
Hammand blinked and pushed those thoughts out of his mind.
“But you cannot!”
“I cannot be without him!”
“You have to be careful brother. No one can know about this.”
“So you will not tell?”
“Of course not! Never! How can you think so ill of us?” they lamented in indignation.
Princess Kitina giggled conspiratorially. “Oh to love like you do would be beautiful.” Her voice was wistful. They had been seeking betrothals for a while now after all. Everyone knew to find love was better. If only.
Hammand smiled at this, blushing prettily.
There came a knock on the door. “Asgar?” Hammand checked.
“Yes my prince.” Came the rumbling voice. “Your bath is ready.” The girls giggled.
Hammand called out for him to come in as he shooed his sisters out, promising to meet them in a short while for breakfast. They made their way out past Asgar, who bowed respectfully. Princess Arina stopped in front of him, a finger on his chest.
“You will protect him?” She stated firmly, not really asking. Hammand hovered behind her, looking apologetically at the huge slave.
Asgar raised his eyes to look intently at Prince Hammand as he responded quietly but clearly. “With my life, my lady.”
Hammand could swear he felt those words before Asgar said them and he thought his heart would burst.
* * * *
Through their one-week stay, the reason Prince Hammand was the centre of attention soon became clear. Chief Ker kept seating Hammand beside his eldest daughter Princess Sava at mealtimes and Queen Camarina kept talking about how good they looked together. This seemed to always bring hearty laughs out of Prince Hammand’s parents.
Asgar felt sick to his stomach, just about managing to keep a straight stern face as he stood behind Hammand and watched it all. It hurt to watch, his heart was wringing in his chest. Asgar longed to be out of sight of all this constant torture so he could get a breath of fresh air. Hammand kept turning to him and making him bend over to listen. He had to eventually ask him to stop as he noticed Hammand’s mother staring daggers at him.
Not that this deterred her; Queen Shila was very sharp. She queried who he was out loud in front of everyone and the prince had to go through a lengthy explanation about where he had come from and why she had not officially met him in all this time. She didn’t seem to like his excuses at all despite all the explanations Hammand tried. He knew she didn’t push it because of where they were.
One evening when they were being shown the palace pets, an array of exotic creatures, Hammand walked side by side with his parents. His sisters walked further ahead, having made friends with the younger of the Renakan princesses. Asgar kept a very respectable distance, intermingling every now and then with the other slaves trailing the royals.
“What do you think of Sava, son?” his father asked Prince Hammand in passing.
He shrugged. “She… is a bit amu-sing,” bahis şirketleri he offered, not sure what he was supposed to say. “I haven’t really talked to her much.”
“Well, now that we have seen her, I think your mother and I can tell you now that Princess Sava is a possible bride for you. That was the reason for this visit—to test your compatibility.”
“My compati-? Wh-at? You can’t be serious father?” he gasped, turning to his mother who sported a very straight innocent face. “Mother?”
She said nothing.
“Why was I not told of this before now? Do I not have the right to know that I am being considered for marriage? I don’t even see Princess Sava like that! I can’t just marry her!”
He was so upset by this and even moreso by the fact that his parents were not interested in his opinion. He could not believe a girl had already been picked out without them consulting him at all. And to top it all; bringing him to Renakan without any idea of the betrothal.
To think he had been sitting with her all these days, wondering why she was so nervous and jittery. She probably knew what it was all about. Gods, he felt so stupid. At least her parents had the propriety to tell her about it.
After marriage he knew he would no longer be able to have Asgar close to him like he was now; no slave would be allowed to sleep in his bedchamber let alone his bed. The only person allowed such privileges would be his wife.
“Come Hammand. Calm yourself.” His mother spoke finally. “Remember, nothing has been decided as yet so there is no need to be apprehensive.”
“I don’t want to marry someone I do not know or love. You know that mother. I’ve talked to you about this. Why is father-…”
“Time will tell. You never know, do you?”
He still remained unhappy and asked to be excused to use the bathroom as they walked out of the caged area to the fields to watch some performance.
Asgar followed, walking closely behind Hammand as they made their way to the bedchamber. He hadn’t heard what was said but he had a feeling it was not good from Hammand’s tense disposition.
The prince’s emotions escalated as he walked and he had to stop for a minute when they were out of sight of his parents and the princesses to get control of himself with heaving breaths. Asgar said nothing, just pressed his frame against Hammand’s back and let his warmth soothe the hurting prince until he could move again.
Once they entered the chamber and closed the door behind them, Hammand turned to Asgar and was lifted into his arms where he began to cry.
“I don’t want to marry some strange girl…” he sobbed into Asgar’s shoulder. Asgar rocked him gently, rubbing his back to soothe him.
Asgar’s heart clenched painfully at the news. “Ham, you need to talk to them more about this. Make them understand how you feel. They just might listen. After all, there is no hurry is there? A visit is not a betrothal; nothing has been announced or set in stone. You can always marry someone else.”
Hammand slowly calmed down as he listened to the big man. They had no idea that Hammand’s father was marrying him off for a reason, Hammand was the youngest royal after all. Despite feeling better, he refused to go back out to watch the performance, sending a message to say he was unwell.
Instead he clung to Asgar, fearful all of a sudden of losing their connection, their closeness. He couldn’t lose this, not now, not ever. He didn’t want to get married to anyone, except… his proud, big slave.
* * * *
The next day, Hammand could not be bothered to go out for any of the scheduled activities. He feigned an illness and spent the day in with Asgar. His parents knew very well that he was sulking. They let him be, even though his absence was doing little for heir plan.
Asgar was sitting on the edge of the bed, cleaning their sandals and the prince was standing by the window, looking out thoughtfully. You could hear the roaring of the crowds enjoying the festivities that had been planned for them. Normally Hammand would have been very interested in watching it all. Now he was just angry and so very afraid. It upset Asgar to see him this way.
“You said you remember being with women. Did you enjoy it?”
Asgar frowned. “Why do you ask?”
“I was just wondering what it would be like to be… be with a woman. I’ve never — we’re not allowed to sleep with anyone until we get married. My parents say it is against the law for a royal to marry unclean.” He paused in thought, cheeks brightening steadily. “Anyway, I’ve never had the urge to be with a woman but my brothers… Miriam practically implanted it in my brain over the years, I think I might be scarred for life.” He laughed remembering her words, “I can quote her ‘No sex with anyone, no one, not ever. Until the time is right’ I had to repeat it almost ten times a day from when I turned thirteen. It was hell.”
Asgar laughed along with him, unable to resist querying further, “So what would happen if you did?”
“Nothing much I guess, except being a source of shame to the bloodline. I’m not sure if it’s ever happened before in Renadi. But it might have in the other regions.” He thought for a bit
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