7

Rhyshladlyn stood with his forehead against the cool stone of the wall, back to the gardens that spread out behind him, fists pressed hard against the stone at shoulder height, his eyes tightly closed as he willed himself to ignore the fire in his blood that screamed for him to find Azriel and take him up on that offer; the fire that demanded he force the other male to the soft silk sheets that covered his bed and ride him until they were both sent screaming over the edge of orgasm, magick swirling in the air around them. With a bitten off cry as his hips jerked at the vividness of the images his mind was creating, he pushed off from the wall with a low, vehement curse and stalked towards the Palace gardens that spread across the expansive lawn just outside the doors that lead from the veranda into the main Hall of the Palace where the rest of the Festival goers were gathered, paired off following the acceptance of the offering from the Taking Ritual. Soon as he could he had ducked out here, unable to take the tension in the room any longer; the noise too much and not enough all at once, skin prickling like a thousand ants crawled over his body.

And so he found himself out here, with the voice of his sister calling out for him from the doors, making sure he was okay because no doubt his magick was swirling, sending distress signals out to anyone nearby that he trusted of which there were three: his brother, his sister, and Azriel. But none of them should come near him. Not right now. He wasn’t safe. There was no telling how much control he had but he knew that it wasn’t enough to answer the simple question of Are you well? Not safely.

*Nully!* He screamed out across their connection as he rounded a sharp turn and came upon the maze that his mother had spent decades building from seeds of grass and various plant-life sent all the way from Atlanshïr, her homeland, for this deep into the Shiraniqi Desert there was not nearly this many green things living outside the Temples that dotted the City and the surrounding cities, villages, towns, and colonies. *I need you!* And within seconds the presence of his Other was striding beside him, just as much a specter as he had been when perched on the arm of his chair in the Hall.

*Rhys…what’s wrong?* Those clear, ancient blue eyes were filled with a concern that Rhyshladlyn had never seen before in anyone.

*The need following the Taking Ritual has never been this strong, help me. I can’t… I can’t control it! It won’t calm down like it normally does!* Rhyshladlyn begged, opening the connection between them more so that Nhulynolyn felt all he did and the Other stumbled mid-stride before catching himself, eyes wide.

*Shit, Rhys, you need to find someone to get off with.* Was the reply and Rhyshladlyn gave an anguished snarl as he shook his head, the motion stronger than he intended and he stumbled against one of the maze walls before sinking to his knees on the ground, vision swimming as he clenched his hands in the leather of his breaches, head bowed as his chest heaved with breaths that rattled about in his lungs like a coin in a jar that’s being shaken by a clueless child. *Rhys! Why are you fighting this? Tell me who to send for! I will fetch them!* Nhulynolyn hollered across their link and Rhyshladlyn shook his head once again.

“No one knows of you besides Mother, Alaïs, and Anis… you can’t go corporeal and get them because Father’s people are fuckin’ everywhere right now. I’ll…. I’ll be fine… just, take partial control. Please,” Rhyshladlyn said, hoping he was making some sense, not aware he was speaking out loud.

“No, my Heart Brother, I will not do this bullshit thing you’re askin’ of me. I will be right back, I know who to get,” Nhulynolyn said, voice a shock to hear through his ears than inside his head and Rhyshladlyn watched with a slack jaw as his would-be-twin took off at a run through the garden maze back the way he’d stumbled, dressed identical to Rhyshladlyn himself. So that’s how clothing would work when an Other passed into the physical World, huh, he thought with minor bemusement before the need coiled in his gut went off again, mind assaulted with images of him and Azriel that felt far too real to be just imagination and made him frown as he bent over double, wings curled around him in a protective cocoon as he pressed his forehead against the cool dampness of the grass.

An unknown amount of time later he heard his name being yelled and opened his eyes to find himself on his back, wings wrapped around his body, shielding his hardness and rolling hips from sight, arms stretched above his head, fingers sunk into the earth below to get purchase. When his name was yelled again he rolled his head to the side and let out a choked sound that was meant to be one of annoyed dread and exasperation but instead came out as a low whine of need as he watched Nhulynolyn run towards him with his blood brother, his brother’s trusted personal guard Ero, and his mother in tow. Azriel was nowhere in sight and his heart clenched violently at that realization even though it had no right to do such stupid things as clench with pain at the idea of the Anglëtinean coupling with someone else.

Soon as the group reached him, Nhulynolyn disappeared from their sights once again becoming a specter as he slid to a halt in the grass, falling to his knees at Rhyshladlyn’s head.

“Rhyshladlyn!” Azhuri gasped out as she came to a stop, orange-amber eyes bright and glistening with worry as she sank to her knees in the most ungraceful manner he’d ever seen her do. “What ails you?” Her hands hovering over where his chest was hidden beneath his wings, hands glowing faintly blue as she tried to do a Healer’s diagnostic test on him.

“I… I….” he groaned out again, body convulsing, back arching hard and fast like a bow string pulled taut as it’s strung into place, wings quivering as he fought to keep his body hidden. “Need… it burns…. fuck,” the last word was drawn out on a low whining hiss that sent frost crinkling across the hedges that surrounded them, dusting everyone’s clothes and hair with snow and tiny icicles.

“Mother?” Anis asked, voice wavering around the edges, body poised to fight though he could not find a source of what was bothering his brother.

“There are no signs of obvious distress to any organs, muscles, tissues, nothing that would suggest he’s been injured but he is clearly in great pain,” Azhuri replied, hands sweeping down the length of Rhyshladlyn’s taut, straining body as he stared at the dark skies above him, face contorted into a expression that was a mix of pain, need, and abject humiliation before his eyes closed tightly as another full body shudder sent him convulsing again, muscles in his arms standing out against his skin as his grip on the grass tightened.

“I’ve seen this before,” Ero said he approached slowly, hands up as Rhyshladlyn’s eyes flew open and regarded him with a mixture of hope, fear, and need that made one’s bones ache. “Though it was many years ago,” he murmured, stopping beside where Azhuri knelt in the grass beside her son, his chartreuse eyes looking at the Lady Queen with something like regret. “It’s what happens when a male is born to the Qishir caste and his powers are suppressed for long enough that that part of himself refuses to be cowed any longer.”

What?” Azhuri and Anis snap at the same time, Rhyshladlyn rolling his eyes in exasperation because of course he’s a fucking Qishir.

“I may be wrong, my Lady, my Prince, but… the last time I saw a male born to the Qishir caste he was told it wasn’t possible, his race rejected the idea that he was a Qishir because they believed only females and neodrachs were capable of being born into such an esteemed, respected caste so they didn’t teach him, they didn’t let him come into his powers and because of that it manifested on its own because you cannot suppress who you are entirely.” Ero’s face took on an intrigued expression then. “Though this is the first time I’ve ever seen it manifest in this manner….”

“Fuckin’….delightful….” Rhyshladlyn bit out angrily.

“So what do we do to make this easier?” Anis asked, blue eyes fixed firmly on his brother’s face as it contorted in another wave of painful need.

“Well… obviously his powers as a Qishir kicked in as a result of the ritual so… he’ll need to replicate that to some degree with him as the Qishir to a willing partner that submits to him entirely,” Ero replied steadily, despite looking rather uncomfortable to be discussing Rhyshladlyn’s need to hold someone down and fuck them into submission in front of his brother and mother.

Azhuri spoke then, voice filled with frigid calm as she reached out to lay a cool, soothing hand on Rhyshladlyn’s forehead, “Need it be anyone specific?”

Ero shrugged elegantly, “Someone that he feels a pull towards would be best but anyone should do.”

“Could… you… stop talking about me…like I’m not… right the fuck here?” Rhyshladlyn snarled breathily around choked back groans and agonized whines.

“My apologies, Rhyshladlyn-prec’cin,” Ero said with a low bow.

“Who speaks to you, my son?” Azhuri asked and Rhyshladlyn made a sound of abject mortification as he rolled his head to face away from her.

“Mother… with respect… please do not be here,” Rhyshladlyn gasped out, body shaking violently now.

Azhuri barked a laugh, hand flying up immediately after to cover her mouth, shoulders shaking against her will as she regarded her blushing second born with amused orange-amber eyes. “My child, I am no stranger to this need you are feeling, though it is usually much less…powerful when it hits everyone else,” she retorted with much amusement as Rhyshladlyn swore viciously under his breath.

“My guard,” he bit out, body bowing along his spine as he let out a low, rumbling groan that was more parts pain than anything else.

With a curt nod, Azhuri ordered Ero and Anis to get Rhyshladlyn up from the grass and to one of the royal downstairs chambers set aside specifically for coupling after the Taking Ritual and to use the servants’ ways in so as to go undetected by anyone who may recognize the problem at hand for what it was just as Ero had. With that order delivered, Azhuri rose to her feet and strode off with all the air and authority given her station and disappeared no doubt in search of Azriel.

“Alright, brother, up you get,” Anis muttered, eyes downcast and a light blush dusting his cheeks as he grabbed Rhyshladlyn by the hand and hauled the other male to his feet, wrapping his arm about his shoulders as Ero did the same to the other side. *I’m right here with you, Rhys,* Nhulynolyn whispered across their connection and Rhyshladlyn sighed deeply, wanting to be pissed that his Other had ignored his wishes but secretly grateful given that it seemed there was a way to end this pain. It didn’t stop him blushing darkly as he was all but dragged from the gardens and into the servants’ hallways, heading at a decent clip to the royal chambers, specifically the one laid out just for him.

Once inside, Ero and Anis gently set him upon the bed where he promptly bent double over his knees, arms wrapped over his head, wings quivering and shifting in clear agitation behind him as his brother left to rejoin the festivities so as not to arouse suspicion and Ero took up a place just outside the door waiting the arrival of Azhuri and Azriel.

He didn’t have to wait long and he had no idea if that was a mercy or a curse as Azriel burst into the room, mismatched eyes glowing faintly, barely banked violence swirling just below the surface and Rhyshladlyn’s head popped up as soon as the door snicked shut and he felt the wards over the room that were designed for privacy both of the physical kind as well as the auditory and magickal kind activate around them. Azriel stood just inside the door to the large square room, on the other side of the small round four-seater wood table with ornate carvings, his rough leather boots sinking into the plush dark red carpet, looking so out of place among the opulence of the room, walls painted a rich blue the color of the night sky just before full darkness set in over the land. And all too suddenly Rhyshladlyn felt like a child on the bed large enough to hold ten grown men, adorned with far more pillows than was strictly necessary, the blankets a rich orange that matched his eyes.

“Rhys….” Azriel spoke, voice a low purr of a sound that went skittering along Rhyshladlyn’s nerves and the male closed his eyes as he bit back the moan just the sound of his name elicited in reaction.

“Do you…” he tried but his voice cut out and he had to clear his throat before he could try again. “Do you know why… why you’re… here?” He asked finally, eyes glancing at the Anglëtinean before darting away again.

“Yes, I was informed. Are you certain you wish me to be here?” Azriel replied, advancing forward one step and then another and another until he was even with the table merely five feet away before he stopped, left hand reaching out to grip the back of one of the chairs as though he was unsteady and needed the support. Perhaps he was, it was often hard to read him. “What may I do for you?”

Rhyshladlyn whimpered, hating the weak sound even as he found himself leaning imperceptibly towards the other male, eyes wide and pleading as the need switched from barely pleasurable to pure pain in an eye blink. “Help me,” he bit out, unable to voice anything else but it would have to suffice as consent, he couldn’t get the words out, his voice wouldn’t work anymore.

But it was apparently enough as Azriel closed the distance between them and met him halfway as he shot off the bed towards the other male. As their lips met roughly, bodies colliding with all the force of an ocean-born storm, Rhyshladlyn couldn’t deny the sense of, Finally, that overtook him as his power broke free of his control and cascaded around them, dancing with and twining about Azriel’s own.

As Rhyshladlyn took a stumbling step back towards the bed Azriel broke from the kiss, hands cupping his face, mismatched eyes bright and glowing, a low purring hum rumbling in his chest. “Once more, Rhys, are you absolutely certain?”

“Less talking, more getting these fuckin’ clothes off,” Rhyshladlyn growled by way of answer and Azriel barked a laugh as he set about doing just that.

In the morning Rhyshladlyn would let the knowledge that he was born to the Qishir caste sink in fully and overtake him, but right now his main focus was ridding himself of the pain of that heritage forcing itself to the surface and refusing to be quelled any longer.

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