8

Rolling his shoulders to loosen the tense muscles there, Rhyshladlyn let out a slow, deep breath as he pulled his shirt down over his head and threaded his arms through the sleeves, back to the Anglëtinean lounging on his bed, all long limbs and rippling muscles and sun-kissed skin and smug smile, mismatched eyes twinkling with satisfaction. He’d roll his eyes at his guard if it would do anything besides make the male all the more amused with him.

“Wait,” Azriel said suddenly and just as quickly as he’d spoken, Rhyshladlyn freezing mid-pull on his shirt, came the cool touch of Azriel’s fingers to either side of his spine, tracing a pattern that felt all too familiar. Rhyshladlyn hissed and flinched bodily away from that touch that not moments before had heated his blood and brought him over the edge of release, easing the painful heat and need that was now a banked fire pulsing and singing softly in his blood, anchored deep in his bones. “Who did those to you?” Azriel asked, voice harder than Rhyshladlyn had ever heard it.

“Do not ask stupid questions, Az,” Rhyshladlyn said, rolling his shoulders again, this time to settle his shirt before reaching for his vest where it hung from one corner of one of the ornately carved chairs that surrounded the table. As he swung it round his shoulders and slid his arms through he turned to look at the other male, smiling unbidden at the sight that greeted him. For Azriel stood there, all clenching muscles, unaware or uncaring of his nakedness as his hands clenched in fists at his sides, softly curling black hair falling around his face and down past his shoulders, lips still kiss-bitten and reddened, neck and shoulders and collarbones sporting the bruise-marks from Rhyshladlyn’s own lips and tongue and teeth. Azriel stood there looking ready to bathe in the blood of any who had ever wronged him and his and all Rhyshladlyn could do was smile stupidly remembering what it felt like to have him inside him, to see his eyes glow, to feel his magick swirl around him and mix with what he gave off, to hear that tenor drop to a near bass as he shouted his pleasure making the walls run with fine cracks from floor to ceiling in swirling patterns.

“Those are wing-scars, Rhyshladlyn-kyn,” Azriel murmured, adding the honorific for a Qishir to his name and he frowned at hearing it. “So I ask again,” he continued, taking a step closer to Rhyshladlyn, “who did those you you?”

Rhyshladlyn blinked, still stuck on the honorific before shaking his head to clear it, plopping down on the chair his vest had been hanging from and Calling his boots over from where they’d been left by the bed, stepping into one and lacing it with a swift proficiency before doing the same with the other. Looking up at where Azriel stood practically looming over him even from three feet away he sighed and raked a hand through his hair, wondering if it looked as sex-moused as Azriel’s before pushing to his feet.

“I already answered you, Azriel-pryncef,” the second born to the Sinner Demon throne replied, voice tired and holding an age to it that wasn’t there a mere five hours ago.

“You were born with more than one set of wings weren’t you?” Azriel asked, the change of questions making Rhyshladlyn stumble as he stepped around Azriel to go to the head of the bed and unwind his belt from around the slats of the headboard, fingering it as memories of wrapping it around Azriel’s wrists to secure his hands to the bed to keep him from flipping them and taking control of their coupling flashed across the back of his lids.

Rhyshladlyn gave a huff of a sound, one that sounded equal parts annoyed and regretful as he wrapped the belt around his waist and begin doing the intricate knot at his right hip as he turned to face Azriel again.

“Yes, I was born with more than one set of wings,” Rhyshladlyn answered, wondering why he couldn’t just get dressed and leave this room that smelled too much like them, felt too much like them, and get back to the Hall and sit down at the table with his family and pretend that he wasn’t a Qishir and a Multitude and Marked by two Old Ones and that somehow he now had to hide all of that from his father as well as everyone else because if anyone knew it would get back to the Lord King and then Anislanzir would have him publicly killed or worse. It was not unknown that the Sinner Demon race had never had a Qishir born to its ranks because it had never had a neodrach born to it in the millions of eons since the Seven Great Races still walked the earth before the Dhaoine was the only of those seven that remained. But to have a male, an heir no less, be born to the Qishir caste? It was unheard of even more than a neodrach. There was so much more for him to worry about than the dishonor and atrocity inherent in the act of his wings being cut from him for infractions his father believed he had committed that warranted that punishment.

“How many?” Azriel snarled out, hands shaking.

“Oh, Az, stop this,” Rhyshladlyn muttered, crossing the distance between them and cupping his hands on either side of the male’s neck, looking up into those mismatched eyes and smiling softly but it didn’t reach his eyes. “I am aware that among the winged races that cutting out one’s wings, even if there remains a set, is to spit in the face of the gods if the punishment did not fit the crime, but that is not how it is here. You must remember that the Sinner race is not like your own and so our customs are mightily different.”

Azriel’s eyes narrowed as though he could see right through Rhyshladlyn’s attempt to soften the blow of his realizing that his charge had had at one time more than the single set of wings that the City’s occupants had seen on occasion. Long fingered hands topped by wicked looking black nails filed to a point came up and covered Rhyshladlyn’s hands where they still rested on either side of his neck, those eyes falling closed as he took a deep breath as though scenting the air and let it out again slowly.

“I am aware of the custom differences, Rhys-kyn, but you must also realize that even among your people wing-removal is akin to a death sentence and each one is recorded on the Scrolls and there is nothing that came down the lines to the Eighth Qishir about you having your wings removed for a misdeed or crime of any kind. Nowhere is it written,” Azriel replied and Rhyshladlyn felt himself pale at hearing that.

“How do you know what the Scrolls say?” he asked, voice quiet, stomach feeling as though it had dropped to dance about with his knees, the ground beginning to undulate beneath his feet.

“I came here from the Eighth Palace. I was employed by Qishir Lulphé Akkensahn before coming here on my next assignment,” Azriel said softly, slowly, as though he hated admitting it, as though doing so was going against some rule and Rhyshladlyn was vaguely aware that Azriel was suddenly taller and that this meant that somehow he had fallen to the floor, legs having given out. “Rhys-kyn!” Azriel said as he sank to his knees in front of him, hands still pressed over where Rhyshladlyn’s remained cupping his neck.

“I… there’s nothing in the Scrolls of my transgressions?” he asked, voice shaking as his vision swam at the edges. Distantly he was aware of Nhulynolyn’s howling fury and snarls for reparations extracted from the Lord King’s own flesh, a wing for a wing so to speak. As his vision cleared he stared up with muted shock and horror at Azriel’s confused and worried face, searching it for a lie. “There is nothing of my name on the Scrolls as having committed a crime?”

Azriel stared back in silence for but a moment before he slowly and deliberately shook his head in the negative. And Nhulynolyn’s snarling reached a fever pitch then and with a single thought Rhyshladlyn silenced him as fury the likes of which he had only felt the once when Alaïs came to him sobbing, babbling near incoherently about how a visiting Light Alphen nobleman had forced himself upon her while they were taking a walk round the City — this nobleman was trying to court her to be his wife, trying to gain favor for his lower noble house among his people by securing a marriage into the royal family of the Sinner Demons. Rhyshladlyn had won the right to destroy the bastard un-male and had taken great pleasure in ripping him slowly to pieces before the entire court and City, stringing him from the front doors of the Palace for several weeks, using his own magick to preserve the body, to keep the un-male alive even as his body slowly died from exposure and lack of sustenance.

And this feeling, this cold fury, it was similar but somehow much more potent now that his heritage as a Qishir had awoken, now that his right as a member of the ruling caste had been accepted and satisfied. With a rich subvocal hum that was nearly a roar, Rhyshladlyn shot to his feet and looked down at where Azriel remained kneeling hands now resting idly on his naked thighs, having fallen there when Rhyshladlyn suddenly dislodged from him.

“Speak of what you and I discussed here to no one, Azriel-pryncef. Get dressed and meet me in the Hall. I needs must join my father and the rest as no doubt the feast is nearly ready to begin in honor of the Festival and it being my nameday,” Rhyshladlyn said, voice holding that echo of his Other and a subvocal rumble that only Qishir were capable of doing, adding to an order and making it nearly impossible for anyone to disobey it.

Striding to the door, leaving the Anglëtinean where he was kneeling in the middle of the large room, still naked, still covered in Rhyshladlyn’s love bites and smelling of them both, he paused with his hand on the door handle. Glancing over his shoulder at the male who was regarding him with an expression of shock and awe, eyebrows raised with what Rhyshladlyn guessed was bemusement, Rhyshladlyn added, “And if you speak of my being a Qishir and what was done this night between us, I will personally skin your wings and feed what I skin to you,” and with that, he opened the door and swung out into the hall, the door closing with a muted thud in his wake.

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