Six

Six

A Chapter by Isemay

Gaeleath rubbed his temple. His father had sent a missive inquiring if he would be willing to enter into an arrangement with Myrae. The tension and frostiness between Marravae and Myrin had been so pronounced there was concern it might have the opposite effect. 


Marravae hated to fail at any task, especially one given to her by their father. He should have expected her to put forth a stronger effort. It was entirely possible that Myrae had suggested jealousy might encourage her brother’s interest. She was reputed to be a schemer.


The double marriage would bind the families more tightly and give them more of an excuse to visit one another making the peace stronger for the next generation. Cuphisians were more reserved, but Myrin and Myrae were close. She had her brother’s ear, it would be a wise move. 


He reread the missive and wrote a reply including the tentatively encouraging news and telling his father to be gentle with Marravae for ignoring his command. The courtship of Myrae would begin when they returned. 


For propriety, he needed to chaperone his sister, they’d been given long enough. Leaving his tent he half expected Volas to be outside glowering at his delay. The Arek Prince was nowhere to be seen. 


Stopping in front of the entrance to Marravae’s tent her heard strange sounds, shuffling, grunting, and Marravae’s voice calm and encouraging, “Like that, exactly like that Myrin, again.”


He blinked, debating whether or not he should interrupt. 


“Your Highness?” A servant had appeared at his side inquiring loudly, “Do you require something?”


“To speak to my sister.”


“Their Highnesses have asked not to be disturbed.”


“Their Highnesses require a chaperone. I didn’t take Prince Volas’ urgency seriously.” He lifted his voice, “Marravae?”


“Enter.” Myrin’s voice answered sounding smug.


The tent didn’t smell of sex when he entered and his sister was sitting on the bed looking amused with a flush on her cheeks. “Gaeleath, you sounded concerned.” 


Myrin was pouring drinks, “Come sit on the cushions again, my dove. Reward me with your presence by my side.”


He watched Marravae rise and move to the cushions. “Dove?”


“I like it, Myrin is sweet and charming when he wants to be.”


Gaeleath tilted his head, “I expected to find the two of you at each other's throats. Not…” He tried to think how to express what he thought was happening inside the tent.


“Not getting along so splendidly?” Myrin brought the glasses to the table and Marravae rose on the cushions to take hers. “Your sister is a delight, when she wants to be.”


She grinned at his pointed teasing, “I’m also a horror when I want to be, something we have in common, my dear Myrin.”


“She teases, why didn’t you tell me she teases, Gaeleath?” Myrin seemed riveted, resting his hand on her thigh.


Baffled, he gave the first answer that came to mind, “I didn’t think she’d warm enough to tease you.” 


Myrin glanced at him with a rueful twist of his lips, “We’ve both thawed.” The Cuphisian Prince turned his pale green gaze back to Marravae, taking her hand. “And I regret that I took so long to do it.” 


His sister lifted Myrin’s hand to her lips and kissed the back of it in reply.


“Such a lovely creature.” The smitten look on Myrin’s face was mystifying. “Are you certain I can’t persuade you to share your tent tonight?”


Gaeleath cleared his throat after sipping the peppery Zophin. “That would be inappropriate. Perhaps I might be able to distract you both?” 


Marravae looked at him with amusement, “Are you going to sing, brother dearest?” 


“I’m going to ask Myrin what he thinks of me courting Princess Myrae.” He tried to imitate father’s sternest look.


“Trading sisters would have a certain… symmetry to it.” Myrin brought Marravae’s hand to his lips kissing and nibbling her fingers. “I approve.”


The sight of his sister flushed and looking at the Cuphisian Prince fondly made him think he may be going mad.


“Have you both been drugged?” He eyed the liquid in his glass warily.


Myrin turned a pinched and affronted face toward him, but it softened as Marravae began to laugh. 


“If we’ve scandalized my brother I can only imagine what your court is going to say, my dear Myrin.”


“Then I insist we put off going back another day. We’ll stay to hunt more boar, my dove, and I insist you accompany me.” Myrin’s eyes were sparkling as he spoke as if they were sharing some sort of jest between the two of them.


“If you insist, how can I refuse?” The overly innocent look on his sister’s face was one he knew too well.


“I know that look, sister. You’re up to something. You only make that face when you’re trying to get something past Father.”


“Even when she tries, those golden eyes remain free of guile.” Myrin leaned close to Marravae and breathed, “Exquisite.” The kiss he pressed to her lips seemed to be a surprise to Marravae as well but she didn’t shrink away.


“Again?” 


“Is that a question or a command?” Myrin moved closer as Marravae opened her mouth to answer, but Gaeleath was quicker.


“Enough! If you can’t sit together appropriately, you’ll have to be separated.” The arrangement was going to need to be executed quickly if this continued. “Perhaps some fresh air would do you both good.” Gaeleath rose and took their still mostly full glasses back to the tray, turning to see Myrin lip locked with Marravae, his hands cupping her face. Clapping sharply, seemed to startle them. “Up and out. Both of you. Marravae you’ll be sitting next to me for the rest of the evening.”


Rising and holding her hands Myrin spoke firmly, “I think not, I think my dove should stay by my side.”


“I think your dove would like that.” The flush on her cheeks as she murmured her answer made Myrin beam and pull her close as if he were going to kiss her again.


“It seems I need to fetch Volas to assist me.” The words came out more sharply than he intended them to, making both Myrin and Marravae look at him in surprise.


“I think your brother is jealous, my dove. How unseemly.” The tone of the man’s voice was unmistakably mocking.


“Are you implying-” One look at the way Marravae’s shoulders were shaking as she tried to suppress her laughter, hiding her face in Myrin’s shoulder, took the outrage out of him and left him with annoyance. “The two of you together are appalling. Your court will be praying the two of you quarrel if only to make you both bearable.”


Outside the tent, Volas’ frigid glare seemed to cool things considerably and no one complained when he sat between his sister and Myrin at the fire. The boar Volas had killed was roasting on a frame over the fire. Watching them flip the frame to turn the spread eagle animal was somehow fascinating.


“I haven’t seen it done this way, we use a spit.” Marravae offered after a long period of silence.


“Burying it with hot coals is how we customarily roast them. It’s much less…” Myrin gestured at the boar with distaste.


“You’ll enjoy the way it tastes.” Volas was addressing Marravae. “Washed with thistle wine and rubbed with Arek spices.”


“It smells delicious.” She inclined her head and the Arek Prince’s sour face improved. “The first boar I killed, my father had it brined for a whole day with fresh wild fruit in the water. And then it was roasted on the spit with salt rubbed into the skin.” 


Gaeleath looked into the fire, “I remember how proud he was of you and how proud you were to carve it.”


“As proud as he was of you when you bested King Merin at Fyra.” Marravae bumped his leg with a smile, “Different skills make a House stronger.”


“Father never mentioned you bested him at Fyra.” Myrin looked at Gaeleath with approval.


“Twice.” The pride in Marravae’s voice made him smile and reach out to squeeze her hand.


“My sister takes pride in any and all of my accomplishments. She’s the most loving and loyal person I’ve ever met.”


“As a sister should be. They are the roots of the tree.” Volas was looking at his sister longingly. “Strong roots support and nurture. They should be cherished and protected.”


“I intend to.” Myrin spoke as if he intended to start immediately. 


“You can’t even kill a boar.” Volas snorted. “You shrieked louder than the pig at the end of the spear.”


Myrin’s face turned red and his hands curled into fists.


“He can kill a boar, and he will tomorrow.” Marravae spoke coldly, her eyes fixed on Volas.


“You’ve been trying to teach him. What can you teach him that his hunt masters couldn’t?” The Arek smiled. 


“How to do it right.” Her chin tilted up proudly. “I’ll be standing with him tomorrow, showing my trust and allowing him to protect me.”


“You would let that-” Volas stood angrily.


Marravae shot up matching his anger. “All he lacks is confidence at the moment. He’s been given instruction.”


“A few moments of instruction in your tent are hardly enough for you to risk your life. If he’s agreed to have you next to him it proves how unworthy he is.”


“We have some time, perhaps you’d be willing to offer additional instruction, if only to help ensure her safety.” Myrin rose slowly with a cold smile. “My dove demanded I allow her to stand next to me. I am loathe to deny her anything.”


The Arek growled low in his throat, “Fetch your spear.”


“I’ll fetch it.” Marravae’s firm tone stopped Myrin as he shifted his weight to move toward the tent.


Gaeleath watched silently as his sister moved first to put her hand on Myrin’s chest and smile at him warmly before leaving the fire to fetch the spear. “She trusts you Myrin. She believes you can do this.”


“I’m not going to disappoint her Gaeleath.” Myrin’s eyes were following Marravae.


“If you fail she won’t be disappointed, she may be dead. The roots I desire for my tree will not be permitted to wither attached to yours.”


“The roots you desire? She doesn’t desire you. She’s mine.” Myrin’s eyes were reflecting the firelight, his vicious smile made the night feel colder.


“When she sees you fail here by the fire, she’ll know not to trust you with her life.” Volas snarled as Marravae approached holding the spear.


“The only thing I’m going to see, Volas, is my intended proving you wrong.” Marravae’s confidence brought Myrin to her side. His hand wrapped around the spear as he pulled her close and kissed her urgently.


“My dove, the moment we arrive home I’m sending for the priests.” Watching Myrin’s hand moving over Marravae’s hip as he pressed his face against hers was too inappropriate to allow. “The state wedding can be held-”


“Until a wedding occurs, Myrin, let go of my sister.”


“I’m going to be as strict when you court Myrae, may you find it as unbearable.” Myrin stepped back with the spear as Marravae beamed at him. “Volas allow me to show you what I’ve learned.”


Gaeleath watched as Myrin moved competently through his sister’s boar practice routine. He wasn’t quite as good as she was but he moved with confidence.


Volas watched, judging the movements. “Your teacher is competent. You…” He struck at the spear with his hunting dagger, attempting to knock it from the Cuphisian Prince’s hands. It didn’t waver. Sheathing his blade he took hold of the shaft below the spear head, shoving it back toward Myrin. It slipped slightly, causing Volas to snort. 


“How long has it been since you used a spear, Volas? Spears shift slightly in the hand at times.”


“Not that much, Marravae. Or do you have such a loose grip on your spear when you hunt?”


“Hands tighten when they need to, gripping a spear for your life makes them tired.”


“You make excuses for him.” 


“No, I’m explaining to a swordsman what using a spear is like.” Her chin tilted up. “You use a dagger because you’re comfortable with it. How long has it been since you used a spear?” She glanced to Myrin, “May he borrow yours, my dear Myrin? If he wants to judge your form, turnabout is only fair play.”


Volas handed her his dagger. “If you wish to put me through my paces, I’ll test you at the same time.”


“As you wish.” Marravae smiled grimly and the large Arek stepped forward as if he were going to kiss her. His dagger arced across his chest drawing him up short. “Put that thought out of your mind, your Highness.”


“Never.” 


Volas took the spear form Myrin with a jerk and went through a series of movements, smooth, powerful, and graceful. Gaeleath saw nothing to criticize.


“If you were taking a castle you’d be competent. You’re hunting boar, Volas.” She pushed his spear point lower with the tip of the blade.


Catching a movement in the corner of his eye, Gaeleath realized they were being watched, all of the servants were gathered, some more surreptitiously than others, to observe.


Volas’ lips curved and he thrust forward as if he were going to put her thigh on the end of the spear. She deflected with the dagger, and lunged forward under his spear putting the dagger in a place that drew gasps. Volas held very still.


“You keep it up too high, Volas.” Marravae drew back her arm, rising next to him, “Would you care to try again?”


“Please do.” Myrin murmured, clearly enjoying himself.


“If you don’t stop threatening him with his own knife they’ll be calling you Merciless Marravae here as well as at home.” Gaeleath sighed in annoyance.



© 2021 Isemay


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Added on February 26, 2021
Last Updated on February 26, 2021
Tags: royalty, drama, fantasy


Author

Isemay
Isemay

Germany



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Spent some time away from here but I've come back to peek in and post again! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review hone.. more..

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