Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wednesday Briefs Christmas Special: A Christmas Decision

Today we have a special Wednesday briefs. We revisit Blaze and Herman, from Perils of Forgotten Pain!

A Christmas Decision

The lights were the first thing Herman noticed. They glowed from the windows of the crumbling castle, and more hung in multi-colored, flashing drapes across the stone.

“Pretty, right?” Blaze pointed, a cold breeze ruffling his red hair. “Do you know what its for?”

“Of course not,” Herman said, voice gruff. He hadn’t even been among the King’s men a year. He had grown up on a space station, and fought on ships all his life. How was he supposed to know what strings of lights meant on Earth?

The annoyance faded at the sight of Blaze’s smile. This man, his lover, was always so positive, so happy, even while the war between the Distant Rule and those who wanted to make their lives on Earth was fought all around him.

Herman no longer wanted to fight. It was the first of his own choices he could remember making. But Blaze hadn’t decided.

“A thousand years ago, or maybe more, before people left the planet, there were holidays around this time of year.” Blaze swept out an arm, indicating the trees that dwarfed them. “It would get so cold, it would snow. And people celebrated the shortest day of the year, putting up lights and giving each other gifts.”

“Why?” Herman asked. The lights were pretty, he had to admit, sending a soft yellow radiance into the evening gloom, but he didn’t understand.

“Lots of reasons,” Blaze said, putting a hand on Herman’s shoulder. The skin on his neck prickled at his lover’s touch. “To bring hope on the darkest day of the year. To celebrate the birth of a religious icon. And there was one ceremony to celebrate a miracle after a war.” Herman sighed. He wondered if their war would ever end. “But all of it was about togetherness and bringing hope. Nowadays, the King’s armies do it to honor those lost and left behind, and to light the way for human’s life on earth again.”

Herman took put his hand on top of Blaze’s, watching the lights. A bird chittered in the trees above them, impossibly high. They had walked far from the castle, and from here he could see where half of it had fallen to the fast growing trees from Overgrowth. He wondered how long the castle had been here. Long before Overgrowth was used, surely.

Above the castle, the first star came into view. The station. His old home. His old army, the one he had betrayed for life on Earth. But because of what they had done to him—what they had turned him into—he didn’t know if he should be sad or not.

“It’s based on old traditions,” Blaze said. Soft green eyes met his, Blaze’s smile sad. “Those on the stations don’t have any?”

Herman sighed. “Not that I remember.” He shifted his weight, wishing he could feel the soft tickle of grass that Blaze liked to talk about. He stroked his lover’s face, with artificial hands built for strength and killing. He had no past, no traditions.

“Perhaps we can make our own, then,” Blaze said. He leaned up, his lips meeting Herman’s. Heat swept up Herman’s body, and he pulled Blaze closer, careful not to use too much force as he molded the other man’s body against his own.

Herman loved this, the touch, the closeness, and of course the lust that flared deep in his core when Blaze deepened the kiss, his tongue entering Herman’s mouth and winding around the other man’s. Herman gave himself into the sensations. He had been without this for so long, years, during the war.

Or maybe he hadn’t, and simply could not remember past lovers. But either way, the effect was the same.

When Blaze pulled away, their heated breaths mingled in the air between them, puffs of condensation in the frigid air. “It’s cold,” Blaze said, pushing himself against Herman, his hands winding around and stroking Herman’s back. “We should go somewhere warm, but first I want to show you something.” Herman nodded, mind fuzzy with the familiar rush of blood to his cock. He wanted Blaze. He always wanted Blaze, the man who had introduced him to the concept of making his own choices, and leaving the war behind him.

Blaze took his hand, leading him down the path that cut through the hills toward the castle where they both lived. Herman lived as a guest, watched carefully considering his background, and Blaze as a spy, who would be sent away when he was next needed.

Herman sighed, the thought chasing away lust. Blaze paused.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Herman said. He couldn’t voice his worries. Blaze was a treasure, and all Herman wanted was to stay together with him, far from the war and the Distant Rule. But Blaze had his duties. Herman knew that well enough.

“C’mon,” Blaze said. “Whatever it is, what I’m going to show you will make you feel better.”

His lover took his hand, Herman wishing, not for the first time, that his metal hands could feel more. They wound their way around the castle, until lights began to glow through the trees.

Not through the trees. In the trees. Herman paused, his heart lifting, as a tree wrapped in lights came into view, piercing through the quickening darkness.

“A Christmas tree,” Blaze said. “One of the most wonderful old traditions.”

“It’s beautiful,” Herman said, and then closed his mouth, face reddening. He didn’t like to sound too shocked by what he saw on Earth. But after a life in space, everything was shocking.

“People used to give each other gifts under trees like this,” Blaze said. His eyes glowed in the light, his hair illuminated like flame. “I’ve been studying histories. Old videos, left by the people who were left behind. People would make promises for the new year, too.”

Herman tilted his head, placing a hand on Blaze’s slight shoulder.

“So, I figured it would be a good place to tell you. I’m leaving the King’s army. Well, not leaving,” Herman’s heart began to pound, “But quitting as a spy. I want to work as an explorer, finding places for people to live and re-discovering the planet.”

Herman swallowed, the scent of pine all around him. The world, the Earth, stretched before him. “What about me?”

“You’d come with me,” Blaze said, turning so that his green eyes bore into Herman’s. “If you want to, of course. It’d be a new adventure, for both of us.”

A smile broke over Herman’s features, worries about the war fading into the light of the tree and Blaze’s eyes. Those were the words he had wanted to hear from Blaze ever since he had woken up in the castle after leaving his old platoon, and the war, behind him. He leaned down, kissing his lover.

“Yes,” Herman said. “Yes.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Aesthetics of Invention: Part 17

Part 17

Kenneth had traveled often with his parents as a child, staring out of carriage windows at rich rolling countrysides or at the glowing, ivy-festooned homes and mansions of mage cities. But every time they had traveled through a talentless town, his mother had bade him away from the carriage windows, the curtains tightly shut.

At the collegium, the talentless portions of the city were rightly referred to as slums. The talentless living there had little wealth other than what they made from selling either wares or unsavory services to magi. Kenneth had long avoided it, only venturing in once to get steel for his class.

And then he had met Thorn, and his life, and opinions, had changed.

Now the twisty, dusty roads he rode Jade down no longer seemed dreadful and filthy. The buildings, made of wood or cement and in some odd places iron and steel that skewed the building if it reached past three stories, told tales not of poverty, but of resilience and invention. Children darted past Jade, but she just flicked an ear, as placid as her owner.

Of course, there were still the stares. But with Thorn there, they were less fierce.

“I should have lent you some clothes,” Thorn said from his place on his horse, walking steadily next to Jade. “If you played the role of a talentless, you could truly blend in and see what’s it like.”

Kenneth watched as a woman carrying an enormous sack walked past, and she darted away faster when she caught sight of him. “I’m not sure I could pull that off.”

“Me neither,” Thorn said with a snort. Kenneth frowned, but figured Thorn was probably right.

“This way,” Thorn said, turning his horse. “Down to the square. You’ll see how we make our money, and trade ideas.”

Kenneth nodded, following Thorn down a winding alley and finally out to where a set of buildings had been built in a semicircle, forming a courtyard. People bustled to and fro, shouting voices reaching his ears from his place in the shade of the largest building.

“Heaters! Never fail!”

“Electric lights, and an easy to use generator!”

“Automata! Please the little ones!”

Kenneth stopped Jade as the sun streamed over his shoulders, pausing on the edge of the bedlam. Men and women in ragged clothes like Thorns stood at tables and displays filled with inventions. Other individuals, perhaps talentless but with one or two magi clear in their woolen robes, strode back and forth. At one display, where small clockwork mice crawled back and forth, money changed hands.

Kenneth stared. “This is where magi buy talentless wares?”

“Not just magi,” Thorn said, clucking his tongue at his horse to rein him in beside Kenneth. “Anyone who needs it. Not every talentless has the skill or training to make things, you know, so they buy it from those who do.” He nodded at the displays. “Every collegium student has to put up a sale their first year. If they can’t sell any of their items, they can’t move on in their training.”

Kenneth watched as a small metallic object trundled around the perimeter of the courtyard, followed by a man who was gesturing at it, getting the attention of a woman with a child by her side. Nearby, someone else sold another contraption that moved on its own, steam hissing from the top. It reminded him of Thorn’s contraption, that one that had made Jade nearly throw him and had led to their meeting. “What was your first sale?”

“A heater,” Thorn said. “Very basic. Easier to sell than prosthetics, though I’ve sold those too.”

“You have?”

“Of course. With something like that, though, its made to order. Clients come see me, and I design what they need. Or, designed. As I’ve come close to graduating, I’ve focused on my final project, and then of course there’s you.” A heavy weight formed in Kenneth’s stomach, but Thorn was smiling. “If I’m going to be an Enforcer, I won’t necessarily have the same line of work, will I?”

Kenneth stared again at the crowd, at the small child who was tugging on her mother’s sleeve, pointing at the toy. More money shone in the sun as it changed hands, a woman having just sold some contraption with whirring blades. It looked like a weapon, but the client held it in front of their face, air blowing their hair back. A fan.

This was what Thorn would be leaving, to follow Kenneth as an Enforcer. This had been his life. He could do a lot of good selling prosthetics.

“Are you glad to leave it behind?” Kenneth asked, twisting the reins in his hand.

Thorn raised an eyebrow. “Everyone leaves it behind, no matter what they do. If I had become a specialist, I would have opened my own shop. That girl there?” he pointed at the woman selling the fans. “Her work is grand. She’ll make her own shop, or her own line, of those fans and make a name for herself. No one wants to be here, selling their work with inventor’s college students, once they graduate. Things here sell cheaply, too, for the clients who can’t afford better things. But its where I got my start, and something I thought it would be neat to show you.” He sighed, a small sound. “But in a way you’re right. I suppose I’ll miss some part of it. The memories, maybe.”

“Oh.” Kenneth’s shoulders loosened. “So…” he swallowed. “Let’s get something.”

Thorn glanced at him. “Noble magi don’t need that sort of stuff. I know that much.”

“Not for me,” Kenneth said. His nerves fizzed. “For you. To remember it by.”

Thorn blinked, then broke into a smile. “Remembering the inventor’s college by buying something from the journeyman fair…” he laughed. “Whatever we get might break in less than a year’s time. But sure. Yeah, let’s get something.” His eyes gleamed with amusement. “Why don’t you surprise me?”

Kenneth nodded, urging Jade toward the displays. He knew exactly what he would get.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Aesthetics of Invention part 16

Part 16 

Thorn didn’t want to think about the war.

He had indulged Kenneth, of course. Hearing about the past was important for Kenneth. He had to understand, as a mage, what talentless had gone through.

But Thorn had gone through it, and didn’t want to dwell on it. He had lost his parents, and he had lost his hand. It was over and done with. He wanted to look to the future, and enjoy his time with his new mage lover without worrying about what had come before.

“Come here, Kenneth,” Thorn said as he closed the door to his dorm room behind them. His blond lover had moved toward the bed and paused at Thorn’s words, his blue eyes wide at the tone in Thorn’s voice. Thorn wondered how many people, if any, had ever used such a commanding tone with him.

But Kenneth didn’t fight it. He moved obediently toward Thorn, a pleasant surprise.

“I don’t want you breaking any more of my things,” Thorn said with a laugh, craning his head up to place kisses on the underside of Kenneth’s jaw. Kenneth moaned, tilting his head first up to give Thorn access to his neck, and then down to connect their mouths. “I want you calm and focused so I can take you out today,” Thorn said, his voice breathy after the kiss.

He had all sorts of plans. He could take Kenneth outside the collegium, to lunch and then to the nearby park where many students tested new inventions. He could take him by the fountain, or the metal gardens, where people created art out of shaped metal.

He was proud of what talentless could do, and he wanted to show it all to Kenneth. He wanted Kenneth to understand it, and know that Kenneth loved him for more than just the magic he gave him. And to know that what Kenneth felt, what they both felt, was more than just lust brought on by the strange aether only mages could see. He wanted to prove that despite the war, mages and talentless could truly love one another.

Kenneth squirmed at Thorn’s touch when Thorn grabbed his ass, kneading the muscles and pulling Kenneth closer, feeling the thick, stiff bulge of his erection through his robes. Thorn was sick of those robes, and he began unlacing them near Kenneth’s neck, pausing when the knots became too complex.

“Take these off,” he said instead, and Kenneth obliged with words that must be magic, the laces undoing themselves beneath Thorn’s hands and the robes falling open. Either they were magic through and through or whoever had sewn them was some sort of weaving master, because how exactly they came undone was beyond Thorn.

But they revealed his prize—Kenneth’s toned torso and his jutting, weeping erection. All for Thorn.

Thorn licked his lips, his own erection tight and confined in his trousers. He unlaced them, his metal fingers clumsy. He needed to finish his new hand, the new design that would be twice as efficient. But he managed to undo it quickly, stepping out of his trousers and removing his coat and shirt. He wanted Kenneth, and he wanted him now.

They both paused for a moment, taking in the sight of the other. Thorn smirked at the look of intense, glazed concentration on Kenneth’s face as his lover stared at Thorn’s cock. Behind him, the electric lights flickered.

Thorn smirked. He had taken Kenneth twice before. Maybe what Kenneth needed to stabilize his magic was to give Thorn the same in return.

“I want you this time,” Thorn said. Kenneth’s gaze snapped up. “Can you handle that?”

Kenneth nodded, holding out a hand to stroke Thorn. Thorn took it in his metal one, entwining their fingers slowly, his hand not responding as fast as it once had. Kenneth didn’t notice, or care. Exactly the way Thorn wanted.

“C’mon,” Thorn said, pulling Kenneth toward the bed. He turned and sat down, Kenneth standing above him, and Thorn looked up, licking his lips. “I want you, Kenneth. Now. It’s your move.”

Kenneth breathed in deep whooshes, his cockhead red and dripping. Thorn grinned. “So hard you could chisel stone,” he said, quoting something one of his old lovers had said, running his hand down Kenneth’s pulsing erection. His lover moaned.

“The oil,” Kenneth said. “Where is it?”

“The drawer,” Thorn said with a point, and in a few sentences of gibberish the vial had floated out of the shattered drawer and into Kenneth’s hand. He stared at the chips of wood on the floor.

“Don’t worry about it right now,” Thorn said, his mouth twitching with an urge to laugh. “Just take me, the way I want.” He spread his legs, a clear invitation.

Kenneth slicked his erection, and when he moved to prepare Thorn, Thorn waved his hand away. “I’m ready,” he said. “I’m not some tender noble. Just take me.”

Kenneth smiled, some of the glazed lust leaving his gaze at the challenge, and moved over Thorn, the bed creaking under their weight as Thorn lay back. “Let’s see if you can control yourself inside me,” Thorn said with a grin.

Then Kenneth filled him, all at once, and Thorn gasped, shuddering, biting back a moan. Kenneth had hit the perfect spot, at the perfect angle, and fires was it good. He wouldn’t last long.

“Move, damnit,” Thorn said, and Kenneth did, thrusting, his body tensing over and over above Thorn. Thorn watched Kenneth’s abs tighten with his thrusts, and then met his lover’s blue eyes, staring into his face.

This was his mage, his lover, Kenneth. They were together, a noble mage and a talentless, regardless of the wars that had once been fought and the hate that still existed between their people.

He loved Kenneth. The words danced on his tongue, but they were swallowed by a moan when his climax took him by surprise, Kenneth’s soft hands on his erection drawing it out of him. He gasped instead, quietly, shuddering cum out onto his stomach. Kenneth followed almost immediately, hot wetness filling Thorn.

Thorn fought to get his breath, emotion and pleasure swirling through him all at once. He loved Kenneth. He wanted Kenneth to see more of his world.

He just needed to make sure Kenneth felt the same, and it wasn’t the magic causing all this.

“Good,” he said, pulling Kenneth down for another kiss and pushing away his doubts. He grinned. “Now I can take you out in public.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Aesthetics of Invention part 15

“Time for the hard truths. Estimates are two hundred thousand dead,” Varlen said, Kenneth swallowing hard. He had heard that number before. “Mostly talentless.” He hadn’t heard that.

Kenneth had suspected that talentless had their own side to the story of the war. He knew his mother’s disdain for those men and women without magic was foolish, or at least short-sighted. Her words echoed in his mind. “Good servants, good inventors, but how could anyone who cannot see the power of our world be trusted with making important decisions? Put them in their place.”

His father had, of course, along with other war mages. Everyone knew the name Victeni. He was grateful to Thorn for defending him, but he couldn’t blame people for their reactions to the name. He wished he could learn more of the truth about what his father had done, but hearing about the battles, about mages burning down cities for transgressions and controlling what talentless could and couldn’t build, was hard enough.

 “We get past restrictions here at the college, of course,” Varlen said. “The governor here is easy on us, or maybe just too concerned with the magi collegium to pay attention. But if its for research, we’re allowed to build mostly whatever we like.” Kenneth didn’t fully believe him, but he believed the governor probably didn’t care. “And here the wards aren’t as sensitive as they are in other places. You have a lot of freedom here, Thorn. Other places, that won’t be true.”

Thorn nodded. Kenneth wondered what sort of hardships his lover had already experienced. He would ask—but the last thing he wanted to do was upset him.

Kenneth sighed. He hated being ignorant. But he had a feeling he always would be.

“So,” Thorn said as they left Varlen’s office, with promises to come back and ask more questions later. “Did that help you at all?”

“A bit,” Kenneth said. “I…I understand, on one level, what you talentless face. I see the inequality. But I don’t fully experience it.” He paused, glancing up at the electric lights that flickered as he passed by. “As a child I always thought talentless lived the way they did—in slums and such—because they didn’t have magic. They chose it.” Thorn gave him a smirk. “Later on I just ignored it. It didn’t affect me.” It hurt to even say. “And now, all I can know is that I will never know what its like.” He looked at his lover, at Thorn’s metal hand. “Does the thought of the future scare you?”

Thorn tilted his head. “What do you mean?”

Kenneth’s face reddened. “I mean…imagine it. No magic, controlled by mages. If you hadn’t met me…what would you do?”

Thorn raised an eyebrow. “I’m trained as an inventor. Sure, Varlen said the world outside the collegium is hard. Of course it is. But I’d have choices. I could travel as a merchant. I could stay here and sell my inventions to weak mages. I could work with talentless who require prosthetics. I’d never get rich, or live in crystal mansions or whatever you nobles do, but there’s an important difference between you nobles and everyone else--I don’t need it.” He pointed to another flickering bulb as they walked past. “Sure, we talentless are frightened of you mages. But the world must be frightening for you too, to have so much to lose. That’s why you fought so hard in the war, and did so many terrible things.”

Kenneth fell silent, pondering Thorn’s words. He had never thought of it that way. He examined the aether as they walked, peering at the shimmering lights and loops of the force that allowed his magic to work. The aether was the stuff of creation, controlled with magic. Once it had made sense that those who could control that would control society.

But not anymore.

As he watched it, his magic roiled, sending shocks throughout the aether and sending the lights flickering again. He sighed. He was spending a lot of time with Thorn, but his magic was still unstable. It would clearly take more time.

But he didn’t mind. The more time he spent with him, the more he learned. And the more he appreciated Thorn’s intelligence and his way of viewing the world.

He hoped more people would be like Thorn. But he had a feeling that not all talentless would be so forgiving after the war, especially if half of what Varlen said was true.

He was lucky to have found Thorn. To have found a man to be his lifemate, and one who was so intelligent, and gorgeous on top of it all. Thorn’s hips were taut and tantalizing as he walked down the hall.

A bulb shattered next to Kenneth’s head, and he jumped. Thorn shook his head with a quiet laugh.

“Perhaps we should see more than just the collegium,” he said. “If you want to see what the world of talentless is like, I’ll take you out. That way you won’t destroy anyone’s project, either.”

He took Kenneth’s hand in his metal one, his grip cool and strong.  “It’s fine, Kenneth. I don’t blame you for the war.”

His parents were gone. Kenneth had lost nothing, and never had. Thorn’s life had been changed forever, and would be again, if he became an Enforcer with Kenneth. The whims of mages always controlled talentless. Guilt constricted Kenneth’s throat. Thorn was too good for him.

“I’ll go with you,” he said. “Wherever you want. You choose.”

Thorn smiled, his gaze piercing as though he was trying to read Kenneth’s mind. “Alright then,” he said. “First, to my room.” His smile turned back into a smirk as he stroked down Kenneth’s shoulders and hips with his good hand, sending trails of pleasure in a shudder through Kenneth’s body. “I don’t want you upset, Kenneth. Just trust me. The war’s over, and things will be fine.”

Kenneth nodded, leaning into his lover’s touch, not caring when another bulb shattered overhead. “I trust you.”