This is a sequal/prequal to "The Two Fates of Aerta". If you haven't read that one first, you might not understand the ending to this one.
He threw the list of names down on his desk and sat heavily in the chair. He glanced at the list before sighing and putting his head in his hands.
“What am I going to do?” he moaned quietly to himself.
He wasn’t startled when he got an answer.
“Choose one. Choose a widow.” A pair of strong hands started massaging his shoulders. “You will choose a widow who will give you an heir then go about her own business. You won’t be breaking her heart or leading her on like you would a maid.”
The hands dug harder into his shoulders, gentle power flowing through them for a second before letting up. “Kial.”
The hands stopped rubbing and lifted Kial’s face from his hands. “Kial. You must choose one. She’ll know you love me. The whole kingdom knows you love me, but you must choose one anyway.”
Kial’s grey eyes filled. “Brett, I can’t… I can’t do that. Marry some poor woman and… and… get her with child.” He rested his head against Brett’s stomach. His own stomach twisted.
“You must. If you weren’t the heir... If you…” Brett trailed off and was silent for a few minutes, running his hands through Kial’s black hair. “But you are the heir and someday you will be king and you will need a queen, an heir and a spare.”
Kial, his face still hidden in Brett’s stomach, wrinkled his nose. “I hate that word. Spare.”
Brett sighed. “I know you do. But think how worse off Aerta would be if you hadn’t been born?” He drew back from Kial and made him look up. “If you hadn’t been born then right now I’d be miserable,” Kial laughed slightly but Brett continued. “And Luin would be looking through that list picking out his victim.”
Kial made a face. His cousin Luin was a brute, pure and simple.
“He’d probably kill my father to take the throne and then destroy Aerta.”
Brett nodded. “Galen would have made a good king but he died. If you weren’t ‘The Spare’ Luin would be the heir right now. Maybe even king.”
He smiled, bent and gave Kial a quick peck on the lips. “And I really would be miserable. I’d be making do with the stable hands, ahh!” He pressed his wrist to his forehead and swayed. “The utter humiliation of it all.”
Kial laughed and batted him. “Stop that. You could be a player in Romus and Julianne.”
Brett picked up Kial’s hand and placed it on his heart. “You really think so? If I go to the gypsies now, with your recommendation, you think they will let me play Romus?”
Kial laughed again and pulled his hand free. “Only if they make the play Romus and Julius.”
“Oh ho!” Brett laughed but stopped when he noticed Kial wasn’t joining in. He was staring at that list of potential wives again.
“If you want. I could trick you into thinking she was me?” Brett offered.
Kial looked horrified and Brett sighed.
“Never mind. Come on.” He pulled Kial up out of the chair. “You don’t need to choose now. Let’s go distract you. Hmm?”
He led Kial from the study to the bedroom and made a fairly good play at distracting his prince.
A few days later Kial was in one of the more seedy taverns of the city listening. He frequented a random tavern once a week to see what the locals were saying about the king, the kingdom and anything else that might pop out of a drunk’s loose lips. Sometimes he had to get the conversation going himself but tonight he was lucky.
“I don’t see why the Prince loves that bastard magician anyways.” A man was saying. Kial winced.
“‘e probay putta spell on ‘e prince.” Slurred another, waving his empty jack at the barkeep. “Ya know how dose trickity magikers do ‘ings. A wee spell ‘ere, a wee un dere and poof, he’s king.”
“Doesn’t he love the prince though? He wouldn’t kill the prince. Surely not even to become king.” The first man countered. He had only taken a few sips of his ale in the hour Kial had been in the tavern, less than Kial who was working on his second.
“Wha’if… wha’if he tricked our prince inta tinking he was girl and marrid him?” The drunk downed his now full jack and waved it again. “He’da be king.”
Kial blinked. Marry Brett? He could never… He was the prince though… And when he was king… He could marry Brett. Who could stop him? He’d be king. But what of an heir? Kial couldn’t touch a woman like that but Brett could. Yes. Brett could make an heir and they’d tell everyone it was Kial’s. Yes, that could-
Kial had been lost in his thoughts and was surprised when he heard a loud crash. He looked up and around before spotting the culprit. The drunk had fallen off his stool into a serving wench. The man he had been arguing with shook his head and left after dropping a few coins on the table.
Kial walked over to the drunk and felt for a pulse. Strong. The man was just passed out. He took the drunk’s money pouch, asked the bartender how much the drunk owed including damage and how much for a room for the night. He quickly counted the coins out and handed the money over.
He picked up the drunk easily, took the key from the barkeep, and carried him up to the empty room. Took a bit of juggling but he finally managed to get the door unlocked and open without dropping his burden.
He dumped the drunk on the bed, thanked the man for his wonderful idea, and left, nodding at the barkeep as he went.
Brett was used to these late night visits to random taverns but he had never seen Kial so excited.
“What happened?” He asked as Kial attempted to undress himself.
“I can’t tell you. I have to think it through first. I can tell you that a drunk gave me a wonderful idea about this queen business.” Kial answered as he fell into bed.
Brett tried to ask again but his lips were soon busy with Kials.
For the next few days Kial thought. He paced in his study, wrote things down, crossed things out and threw Brett out whenever he came in.
On the third day Brett gave up and stopped trying to talk to his prince. He did things for the king. Predicted the weather, cast various semi-useful spells and generally sulked.
On the fourth day Kial came clean.
“I’m going to marry you. When I’m king.” He sounded proud of himself and didn’t seem to notice Brett glaring at him.
“We will marry and you will get someone,” Kial waved a hand “with child and we will tell everyone the child is mine. I’m not sure if you should get the same woman pregnant twice or two different women pregnant at month apart. An heir and a spare, you know.”
Kial looked at his notes. “That’s what been bugging me, you see. The heir thing. I would have had it all figured out yest-“
He paused, finally noticing the look if anger on Brett’s face. “What? Don’t you want to be married to me?”
Brett closed his eyes for a minute, pinched the bridge of his nose, and tried to control his temper before answering. He couldn’t believe Kial would do this. Plan their future alone. Of all the highhanded…
“Now you ask me? You’ve been in here three days planning our future and you couldn’t include me?” He stopped and looked at Kial. “No. If this is an example of how our entire marriage is going to be, then no, Prince Kial, I will not marry you.”
He stormed out of the room, down the hall and into his own suite, slamming the door and locking it with both the lock and magic.
Kial blinked. Once, twice, three times, before looking down at his notes, his plans. He had hurt Brett. Hurt him by not including him in the planning. He was right. It was their future. Brett should have been consulted. Been included. What in Aerta had made him think otherwise?
He got up from his desk and was just about to step into the hall when “Don’t” sounded in his head. He hesitated. He was the prince, but then he relented and went into his own bedroom.
Brett fumed. How dare he plan their future without him! How dare he. And saying that Brett would father two children but Kial would claim them. No! No, no!
He paced and ranted. He refrained from throwing things and that made him even angrier. He couldn’t even destroy things in his own room because they were the king’s things.
Brett needed to go out and buy a dozen things he could throw and destroy the next time he got mad.
Next time. Brett sat down on his bed, his temper dissipating. Was there going to be a next time?
Brett needed to think. Away from the palace. Far away.
He quickly packed a few bags, disappeared them into his personal ‘closet’, the invisible one that he magically carried with him.
After making sure his current outfit was fit to be in the presence of a king, Brett sent out a tendril of magic to make sure the room below his was empty. He slowly phased through the floor. He hated teleporting, made his stomach queasy, and if he went into the hall now, Kial was sure to be waiting. Phasing directly to the floor below was the easiest way.
After he floated carefully down to the floor from the ceiling, he listened at the door for a minute before leaving.
While he quickly spoke with the king, the kitchen made him provisions. Gathering up the two baskets of food, he disappeared those as well.
He borrowed a horse and was off. He needed to see Vantor.
Seer Vantor had tea and honey cakes on the table when Brett arrived four days later. Brett dropped his horse off at the town stable and walked to the tiny cottage Vantor lived in. When Brett arrived, he collapsed at the table and blinked exhaustedly at the Seer.
Vantor looked young. He was older than Brett, though not by much. He was 26 but he looked to be about 19 while Brett was 24 and looked about 16. They both aged slower due to the fact that wizards, sorcerers and seers tended to live a lot longer than most humans. If they didn’t have a mate that is. Whether it’s soul mates, true love, bonding or something else, all magic users died soon after their mates did. Half of themselves went missing and they couldn’t live without their other half.
Could he live without Kial?
“Why, hello Wizard Brett. So nice to see you. How am I? I’m delightful. So nice of you to ask.” Vantor looked pointedly at his guest, who wrinkled his nose.
“Don’t call me ‘Wizard Brett’, Seer Vantor”
Vantor grimaced and nodded. “Old habits, you know.”
He poured two cups of tea out. “Sugar? Cream?” They had often gotten into the debate of why Vantor could See the outcome of war before it even started but he couldn’t See if someone took cream or sugar in their tea.
Vantors asking was a formality anyway. Brett had known Vantor since they were both in the Mage Academy and he still drank his tea the same way.
Sure enough, Vantor didn’t wait for his answer but spooned out two heaps of sugar into Brett’s tea before putting one, smaller spoonful, into his own.
“So, problems with Prince Kial?” Vantor stirred his tea before taking a sip. “I thought the plan to marry you was genius, even if he didn’t ask your opinion. I think he meant to surprise you.”
Brett stared at his tea, stirring it absentmindedly. “It’s the heirs that I’m angry about. Mostly.”
Brett grabbed a honey cake and nibbled on it. “Did you See what he had planned?”
Vantor nodded. “I also Saw your daughter and your two sons.”
Brett choked and started coughing. As a Seer, Vantor couldn’t do big magics like Brett but he could do small ones. He placed his hand on the back of Brett’s neck and magically removed the piece of honey cake stuck in Brett’s throat.
A cup of water appeared on the table, the tea being too hot to gulp down like Brett needed to. Brett grabbed at the water and drained the cup. He took a deep breath in and wiped at the corners of his eyes.
“I hate when that happens. Why did you spring that on me? You could have waited till I’d swallowed at least.” Brett still had one hand on his chest.
“Sorry. You should be used to it by now. How often do I not surprise you?” Vantor calmly sipped at his tea.
“I could get revenge and send you a vision of Kial and I, oh say, two weeks ago. Friday night, one A.M..”
Vantor blushed. “Alright. I surrender.” He took a honey cake, amused by the way Brett watched it warily.
“Do you want to hear about your children or not?” He took a bite.
“Three children? Why not two?” Brett asked, once again stirring his tea.
“The first was a boy, the second a girl. A princess cannot inherit the throne.” Vantor shrugged. “You tried again and got another boy.”
“So, I agreed to this? To having children and having Kial claim them as his own? Why?”
Vantor looked up and his eyes stared blankly through Brett. A Vision.
Brett thought it safe to try another honey cake. Who knew how long this vision would take.
He had just started in on his second honey cake and was sipping his tea when Vantor blinked and shook his head.
“So?” Brett asked. “Did you see why?”
“Yes. Because of now. You being here. Talking with me. I Sent you a picture of your daughter and you fell in love with her. Kial let you claim her. Lets you claim her, rather.”
“You have a picture you can Send me?”
Vantor nodded. It didn’t really count as Sending since, being a wizard, Brett plucked the image of his daughter out of Vantor’s head.
She was almost an exact replica of himself. The same dark blonde hair and green eyes, though her hair was considerably longer then his was at the moment. The only difference between him and her was that she had a gentle chin while his was sharp. She looked to be about 13 in the picture. True to Vantor’s word, Brett fell in love with his daughter.
“Who is the mother? Do they have different ones?”
Vantor shook his head. “One of the widows on a list… a list…” Vantor shook his head. “A widow volunteered. She needed the status.”
“A widow? From Kial’s list of prospective wives? She volunteered?” Brett shook his head. “And I agreed.”
He understood why Kial wanted him to be the father of the heirs. Brett didn’t mind women sexually while Kial practically threw up the first time a servant girl crawled naked into his bed uninvited.
It took banishing the second servant girl who tried it for Kial to get his bed to himself. Until Brett became the Royal Wizard.
It took Kial two months to get Brett into his bed, and now, four years later, that’s where Bett wanted to be.
He looked up. He wanted to be home. Kissing his prince. Right now.
Vantor smiled at him when Brett abruptly stood up.
“I need to get home.” He said, apologetically.
“I know” Vantor said. “Be careful for the bandits on your way home. A few knockout spells will do it. Just watch out for the one with the blade.”
Brett nodded, thanked Vantor and, after getting a fresh horse from the stable, rode off for home.
He tried to concentrate on what Vantor had said about bandits. He briefly considered going a different route, but prophecy wasn’t exact when you didn’t see it yourself.
He could take a different route, but because he did, he could stumble into a bandit camp or something. If he went the same route he came, there could be an ambush. No matter which he took, the prophecy could still come true.
He decided to slow his horse down and sent another tendril of magic out, this one to sweep 30 yards ahead of him and 30 yards into the woods on each side of him.
He got a two minute warning. They were up ahead. Five men waiting.
He plucked his Wizards Staff out of his ‘closet’ and readied the knockout spells. Vantor said one had a blade. That could be anything from a cooking knife to a battleaxe. Brett shrugged. He’d worry about the blade when he saw it.
He didn’t dismount for fear of alerting the bandits he knew they were there. He wove a few soothing and calming spells over the horse, hoping they would keep the horse from bucking him off.
He rode past a tree one of the men was hiding behind. It wasn’t till he passed the third man that they jumped him.
He sent out three knock out spells in rapid succession, hitting the three men he’d passed. He looked around for the other two. One was trying to run away and he hit that one with a knock out spell as well.
He scanned around him, staff at the ready. Nothing. Empty. He counted the men on the ground. Four. There were supposed to be five.
The last one. Where was he? Brett quickly glanced at their weapons. Three clubs and a quarterstaff. He knew the last man would be the one with a blade. Just his luck.
It was the horse that saved his life. She neighed and sidled to the side as the fifth man dropped from the branches over his head. The blade, a large two handed sword, only scratched his neck and back instead of decapitating him like the man had obviously planned to do.
The man landed neatly in a crouch. Brett brought up his Wizard Staff but an arrow sprouted from the man’s back before Brett could trigger a spell. The man made a half-scream before falling flat on his face.
Brett didn’t lower his weapon. His neck and back hurt but he was alive. He wanted to stay that way. He needed to bind the wounds. They felt deep and he could feel the shirt, still whole at the base of his spine, dampen at an alarming rate.
“I’m am the Royal Wizard Brett Erynave!” He called in the direction the arrow had come. “Are you friend or foe?”
“Friend.” Kial walked calmly out of the woods, followed by ten of his men-at-arms.
Brett attempted a smile. “Good, because I think I’m going to faint.”
And then he did, not even aware that Kial had caught him.
A month later they were arguing.
“I will not ask Aleka St. Cartil if she will volunteer to have your children!” Kial was yelling.
“I didn’t say you had to ask her to volunteer. I said she would volunteer. I don’t know how that comes about. Vantor didn’t tell me.” Brett answered, his voice calm but slightly annoyed.
“It was your plan-“
“It was a bad plan. OK?” Kial said.
“Are you going to sleep with her then?” Brett shot back.
Kial no longer had to urge to throw up when faced with a naked woman but he couldn’t help the twisting in his stomach.
“Why are we even arguing about this?” He abruptly changed the subject. “Father is going to be around for at least thirty more years. We can figure it out then.”
“Are you worried about me betraying you? Is this what this whole marriage thing is about?”
Kial blushed. “No. It’s about me betraying you. I’d never, ever betray you. And I just want you to be mine.”
Kial sighed, one great breath in, then out. “If you have to sleep with a woman three times for you to be truly mine, I guess I can live with that. But for the next thirty years, you can’t sleep in anyone else’s bed but mine.”
Brett smiled but raised an eyebrow.
“And your own of course. As long as no one else is in it.”
Brett’s smile grew wider. “If you promise that you’ve learned your lesson and will never decide something that concerns the both of us, then yes.” Brett picked up his prince’s hand. “Yes, Prince Kial, I, Royal Wizard Brett Erynave, will marry you.”
223 Years Later
King Karshin closed The Book of Aerta and looked over at his husband curled up on their bed, his head propped up with a hand.
“So, what did you think?” Karshin asked.
"Seer Vantor? The same Seer Vantor that gave me back my birthright brought us together and convinced my father to bless our marriage? That Seer Vantor?" King Jarlyn asked. “I mean he’s old but...”
"I find this in the castle library, tell you the story of the two kings that inspired your idea for the two of us to get married, and the only questions you have are about Seer Vantor?" Karshin shook his head. "Personally, I was wondering how deep that scratch was."
At Jarlyn’s blank expression Karshin explained. “When the bandits attacked Wizard Brett. The story says it was scratch but it also says there was a lot of blood. And he fainted.”
Another question surfaced. “Do you know how long it was till King… hmmm… what was King Kial’s father’s name?”
“King Lensar? What about him?”Jarlyn had been reading his family history in the library. He had no idea how he hadn’t come across the book with King Kial and King Brett’s story in it, especially one titled The Book of Aerta. He was glad Karshin had found it first though.
“Yes, King Lensar. How long was it from this,” Karshin gestured to the thin volume still in his hand “to when King Lensar died?”
Jarlyn scrunched up his face in the way he did when he was doing numbers. “Brett was twenty-four in the story. He was thirty-two when Lensar died. So that’s…”
“Eight years.” Karshin said quickly.
Jarlyn grinned at him. “I knew that.” The grin faded. “Karshin?” he sounded worried.
“Yes?” Karshin placed the book down and went sit on the bed next to his husband.
“Brett died within a week of Kial. He could have lived for a lot longer. Almost two hundred and fifty years if their Seer Vantor is our Seer Vantor, but he only got seventy-three years.”
Karshin knew where this was headed. If he had known that was in the story, he would have skipped it. He had been flipping through the pages of a random book when Kial’s name jumped out at him from one of the stories. Now he wished he had read the story first before reading it to Jarlyn. As it was, it had taken him a moment to process what he had read and instantly regretted reading that part. He rubbed Jarlyn’s shoulder.
The questions came. “Was it our Seer Vantor? Could you live for two hundred and fifty years if you hadn’t met me? Am I going to kill you?”
Karshin sighed. “It probably was our Seer Vantor. I know of a sorcerer who lived for nearly six hundred years before he found his soul mate. He had eighty-one years with her and died quickly after she did.”
He could feel Jarlyn shaking and he placed a hand on his husband’s cheek. “Ask Seer Vantor. I’m sure he would have rather had his soul mate, lived with her for seventy, eighty years before dying than live all these years with…” Karshin searched for the word but Jarlyn supplied it.
“Yes.” Karshin kissed his soul mate’s head. “Let’s go to sleep. We can return the book to the library in the morning.”
“Or we could read it again.” Jarlyn suggested hopefully.
“Or we could read it again.” Karshin agreed.
I would love to hear what you think about my story. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Feedback is what inspires me to keep writing. I will reply to each and every email. Though flames will be ignored.
More of my writings can be found at Gay Authors Anthology if you would like to read them.
More of my writings can be found at Gay Authors Anthology if you would like to read them.