Battle Scars & Love (1)
- By BobbyW -

Disclaimer: As usual, this story contains sexual acts of a gay nature. If you are under the legal age to read such material in your area, I suggest you leave now. Also, this is a romantic story that features acts of sex - not a sex-fest. If you are looking for out-and-out porn, seek it elsewhere. All characters are entirely fictitious and any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. Don't forget to e-mail me with your comments. (Need I say flames will be ignored?)

§ PART ONE: The Apprentice

- 1.1 -

Sanson unsheathed his rapier sword, a long and slender blade with jewel-encrusted hilt passed to him from his father, and from his father before him. He took the appropriate stance as instructed by his teacher and immediately thrust forward on his opponent.

Logan, Sanson's teacher, parried and flicked Sanson's blade from the boy's hand. He pressed his own rapier point at Sanson's chest-guard. "It's a combination of wit and skill, boy," he said. "Not full out strength. There is nothing in sword fighting to do with brute force. You use your brain." He tapped his temple to indicate. "You must judge your opponent well, know his moves before he knows them. Always stay one step ahead of him and never turn your eyes from his face. His features will reveal his next movement as much as his posture and stance will. Now, pick up your sword and let's try again."

Sanson puffed out a long and deliberate breath. The lesson had only just begun, but already he was tired of it. He had never been one for physical activity, preferring to observe as a spectator and watch the other boys get sweaty as they jousted and ran the track behind the palace proper. He sighed as he lofted his sword again, knowing all too well that Logan would again knock it from his hand. He would much rather be with Nash, the palace magician. Nash had once said the boy had a knack for magic.

"No, no, no," scolded Logan. "Don't grip the hilt too tightly. Pretend it is your penis. Grip it too tight and it will fall off! Loosely, boy, loosely."

At mention of his private parts, Sanson felt a stirring in his groin. He had always been a horny boy, for as long as he could remember, and anything would turn him on: a glance from a girl, bathing with the other boys, anything. But he had to admit that he preferred the boys from the girls. There was just something about them that was... nicer.

He loosened his grip on the hilt and tried to tear his thoughts away from his groin. "Much better," Logan said. "You'll soon have the hang of this, mark my words. You'll be as good as your old man was in no time at all."

That was hardly likely, thought Sanson. His father had reputedly been the best swordsman in the kingdom before... before he was killed. Sanson almost chuckled to himself with the thought. His mother had always said it was ironic: Sir Lindley had been unbeatable even by the biggest and brutish men from all around the world, and then one day when he was polishing his own sword a loud noise from behind him made him accidentally swipe the blade across his gut. He bled till there was nothing more to bleed, according to reports, but Sanson was only seven at the time and that was seven years ago! He could remember little of his father, save that he was a caring man, and very gentle with his wife from all outward appearances.

Logan said, "Now, never make the first move, boy; that can be fatal. Always wait to parry. And then you can quickly follow through with a lunge, parry, parry, lunge. It's a regular beat. Lure him into a false sense of security, then really go for it. Three parries and he's confused, a lunge, parry, thrust. But don't use strength, that'll only snap your blade as you force it through his ribs. The blade is sharp enough to pierce him. Remember: the rapier is the tool, you are only the keeper of the tool." He raised his sword and nodded that they should try it.

Sanson chewed on his lower lip and set his mouth in a circle of conscentration. He waited for Logan's first move, who feigned attack twice before sweeping his blade sideways and up. Sanson was unprepared for the first two feigns and was caught off guard.

"Pick it up," said Logan as Sanson's rapier scuttled across the stone floor. "I see no point in teaching you if you are not willing to learn."

As Sanson retrieved his sword, he was about to agree with his teacher's statement when, just then, there came a loud knock on the door and a page entered. "Sir," said the boy, puffing from exhersion - he had obviuosly run all the way from where his message started out. "The Lady Lavina requires your urgent attendance in her private quarters."

Logan nodded. "Report back to her, lad. Tell her I'm on my way." The boy dashed off again and Logan turned to Sanson. "We shall continue this later. I am not finished with you for the day - you must practice if you are to fill your father's boots." And then he too hurried out of the room, leaving Sanson alone.

Sanson sighed. He sheathed his sword again and wiped a small amount of sweat from his brow. It was the height of summer and everyone was complaining of the heat. As he walked to his own quarters, he unfastened the tie at the back of his chest-guard and drew it over his head. His shirt stuck to him with sweat. In his room, he began to undress, for the sole purpose of cooling off. As he stood there naked, his thoughts began to return to the other castle boys. It was more like a small community than anything else here. The palace was owned by Sir Mardin and Lady Lavina, but after the floods of the previous year, they agreed to open the palace to the folk who had lost their homes - the palace was so huge that you might never actually see Mardin or his wife.

When he heard voices outside his window, Sanson moved across the room and looked down into the courtyard below. It was empty, save for two people walking from one doorway, across the yard, and entering another door. Sanson recognized one as being Nash, the magician. The other was a boy he had never seen before. He was intrigued and so decided to investigate.

Nash was a pleasant man of eighty-something years old (or so said speculation), and he would never look a day over forty if it weren't for his shock-white hair and silver beard. He was fond of showing off his skills to people and delighted in Sanson's questions about the art of magic and incantation, to which he would always reply, "There is no art, boy. Everyone can do it. It's just that not everyone has the knowledge of how. Learn the right feelings in your gut and you don't need incantations - besides, they are just for show; makes a bigger impact if you use all that mumbo-jumbo language, most of which is made up on the spot! But shhh, don't go around telling everyone I told you so or they'll hang me!"

Sanson crossed the courtyard and entered the door to Nash's tower. He always found mounting the stairs somewhat tiring and wondered why, if the man was so old, he didn't just move his belongings to a ground floor room. The spiral stairwell seemed to go on and on and Sanson was going as fast as he could, but he did not catch up with the magician and the new boy. Finally he made it to the top and he paused for a breath, his hand on his chest where he felt most of the exertion. For his sake, he thought, he wished Nash would move to the ground floor!

After a moment to rest himself outside the door, he knocked and awaited an answer. When a low voice from inside called out for him to enter, he turned the handle and pushed the door. In the room, a library by all appearances, which doubled as Nash's bedroom, kitchen and bathroom all rolled into one. Usually, upon entering the room, Sanson's eyes would fall immediately to scanning the shelves of books, trying to pick out anything of interest, but this time, he stared directly and openly at the new boy. From such close quarters, he saw that the boy was his own age and one of the most stunningly handsome people he had ever seen in his life. The boy gave a guarded smile, a quizzical look on his face, and Sanson managed to tear his eyes away from the stare.

He looked at Nash. "Hello," he said.

Nash, who had been flicking through the sheaves of a book (a spell book, Sanson reckoned), momentarily looked up, grunted a hello, and went back to the book as one of his hands scratched at his beard. Sanson entered the room further.

He smiled again at the new boy. "Hello," he said to him. "I'm Sanson."

"Huh?" said Nash, turning once again from the book. "Oh, Sanson, meet Ulysses. He's my new apprentice, apparently."

"Lyss," said Ulysses. "Everyone calls me Lyss." Sanson thrust out his hand for the new boy to shake, and then he returned his attention to Nash.

"What do you mean 'apparently'?" he asked.

When Nash did not respond immediately, Lyss answered the question. "I was sent down from Dhalor by the Prince's Rule. The paper's should have arrived already, but they obviously haven't."

Once again, Nash looked up at the boys. "That silly old man," he said, referring to the Prince. "What should I be doing with an apprentice?" He scratched his beard for a second, then snapped the book closed. "Well, you're here now. Can't go sending you back to Dhalor, can we? We'll have to find you some bedding and... and whatever it is apprentices need."

After a moment of silence, both boys burst into laughter.

"What?" questioned Nash. "What?"

Sanson rolled his eyes. He took Lyss by the shirtsleeve. "Come on," he told the boy, "we'll leave Nash to sort things out himself. He gets huffy when there's someone under his feet." He dragged Lyss to the door and they left the old man muttering to himself.

- 1.2 -

Sanson was surprised that he had actually plucked up the courage to speak to the new boy. But there was something about him, something that made Sanson want to know every little detail about every little aspect of Lyss' life. As they walked aimlessly across the courtyard by the central keep, Sanson asked, "What age are you?"

Lyss stood as tall as he could and proudly said, "I'll be thirteen summers this midsummer." Then he visibly sagged, his shoulders slumping and face falling. "That's why I was sent here." When Sanson looked at him, questioningly, Lyss continued. "My father thought I was getting too old and I still hadn't learned a trade. He works for the Prince and His Highness suggested coming here. My father only has one hand, you see, so he couldn't teach me a trade."

"What happened his hand?" Sanson asked boldly, as only adolescents would.

"It was badly burned in a fire five years ago," Lyss said. "The priest said it was beyond saving so they cut it off. He used to be the greatest smith in the land. Now he's just worthless."

"I'm sure he's not worthless," Sanson tried to cheer. "And besides, you may soon be the greatest magician in the land. Think what kind of status that would give you!"

They continued walking now, towards the open portcullis. Lyss said, "I don't know. I mean, sure, magic is something everyone wants to learn, isn't it? But I was happy back home with my family. And now I'm in a strange city with a lot of strangers and a magician that didn't even know I was coming." He sighed.

"I'm not a stranger anymore," offered Sanson.

"No," said Lyss. "One person in an entire city!"

They walked under the portcullis and Sanson said hello to the gate-guard as they passed. Then they continued in silence and found themselves at the edge of the small lake not far from the castle. Sanson sat on the dry grass and Lyss hunched beside him, picking up a stone and skipping it into the water with a flip-flip-splosh! Sanson lay back and stared up at the high, puffy clouds as they scudded across the sky, blotting out the orange face of the sun momentarily as they slinked by. At length, he asked, "What's it like? In Dhalor? With the Prince and all?"

Lyss turned and sat, crossing his legs in front of himself. "Much the same as here, from what I can tell so far. Except we have a Prince in the palace in stead of a baron. It's bigger, though. Huge, compared to this place. The palace could easily swallow this entire city!"

Sanson watched Lyss as he spoke. There was a certain elegance about his features that offered a look of sweet femininity, what with his blond shoulder-length hair and bright green eyes, his high cheekbones and slender nose. His stature was slight, though not too thin, and he was of average height. Sanson glanced to the crotch of the boy's hose, but could see very little the way he was seated.

Again Lyss sighed. "What is there to do around here?"

Sanson shrugged. "Not a lot, to be honest. We could play handball later if you want, or we could swim or do something else." He looked at the passage of the sun and stood. "But now I have to get back to my sword-fighting lessons. Will you be in the Hall for dinner?"

"The what?" asked Lyss, also standing.

"The Hall. You probably will be. I'll come and fetch you when it's time, okay? Come on, let's get back. Nash is probably wondering where you are."

- 1.3 -

The Hall bustled with the rowdy haplessness of teenage boys. In the flurry of activity, Sanson found it hard to locate Lyss. They had arrived ten minutes ago, Sanson dragging the new apprentice by the hand all the way across the courtyard and into the palace proper, along the winding hallways and down spiralled stone stairwells. When they had arrived, Sanson told Lyss to find a couple of spare seats for them while he went to fetch some drinks.

Now, standing by the front of the Hall with a tankard of mead in each hand, Sanson felt sure the boy had gone back to his room without saying goodbye. But then he spotted him over by the entrance, seated towards the end of the long table. Lyss waved and Sanson approached, careful not to spill any of the honey-based drink.

"What's so funny?" Sanson asked as he sat down, noticing Lyss smirking.

"This place!" Lyss replied. "Everyone sitting around eating together - the whole castle! I bet next door is a room just like this one for girls and further along, one for grown-ups!"

"The adult room is on the next level," Sanson said, failing to find the humor in that. Then he ducked as half a potato flew over his head and splatted against the wall behind him. "Hey!" he shouted.

"Sorry," came a voice from the other end of the room, followed by half a dozen crackled giggles.

Sanson turned back to Lyss. "Anyway, what is so funny about that?"

Lyss shrugged. "Obviously nothing. But back home, we keep to ourselves. We eat when we want to and no one is there but family - unless someone is invited, of course."

"But then, how could you get to know everyone if you never saw them?" Sanson asked, curious.

"I don't know!" Lyss said, and then he took a long swallow from his tankard.

When dinner was over and most of the younger boys had gone off to bed, leaving a few older teenagers (those who considered themselves men but were too young to enter the adult hall), Sanson suggested that he and Lyss stay for another drink.

Lyss scrunched his face up, the bridge of his nose wrinkling between his eyes, and said, "N-noooo. A've... I've had enough -" Even though his sentence had finished, it hung in the air between them like sand trapped in an hourglass.

Suddenly, both boys broke out into shattering laughter and they were asked to leave the hall by a bigger boy. They didn't put up a fight.

Outside, in the early evening darkness, Lyss said they should go for a walk around the castle. He needed to sober up before facing Nash, his new master and employer.

"Don't worry about Nash. He's a good guy. And anyway, he'd probably be in bed by now!"

They walked slowly, a little unsteadily, and Sanson noticed that, in the glow of the larger moon that was directly overhead, Lyss's skin became silk; the soft down on his arms and the minuscule hairs on his face appeared to radiate a white light of their own. He was getting hard just thinking about this beautiful boy. Could there ever be any chance of a relationship that surpassed friends? Would he ever get to hold the boy? To touch him? To have him?

The further they walked, the less they spoke. Lyss's eyes were drooping with alcohol and tiredness and Sanson felt comfortable in the silence, worried that if he spoke, he might say something he shouldn't.

When they reached the far end of the keep, the inner wall of the castle's enclosure passing only a few feet from them, Lyss leaned against the wall and sighed. "I'm so tired," he said. Sanson nodded, not saying anything.

Lyss turned away from Sanson, saying, "Excuse me, sir," and he pulled down the front of his hose, his urine splashing against the wall. Sanson almost cursed to himself. Why did Lyss have to turn away?! He was immediately hard again.

When Lyss had finished relieving himself, he didn't move, still holding his penis, still propped against the wall. Sanson couldn't see the boy's face, but by the slight shake of his shoulders, he could tell Lyss was crying.

"Lyss?" He said quietly.

Lyss suppressed a sob. "I want - I want to go home." Sanson said nothing. What could he say? "I hate this place!" Lyss continued, his voice rising an octave as his sobbing went on. "It's horrible. I want to go home to my mother and father. I want to go back to Dhalor!"

"Hey," Sanson tried to sooth. "Don't worry. This place isn't all that bad. I mean, I know the food isn't great and your room is right at the top of a huge tower, but come on, at least you don't have to sleep in the room next to my mother - her snoring is horrendous! Believe me!" Sanson smiled; Lyss didn't.

"I hate it," he repeated. "I want to go home!" And his shoulders shook more violently.

Sanson reached out and placed a tender hand on Lyss's back. "Come on," he tried again. "Everything'll be okay. You can visit them. Or they can come and visit you."

Lyss turned and they fell into an embrace as he sobbed on Sanson's shoulder. Sanson could not help but catch a glimpse of the boy's penis that was still uncovered. No! he thought to himself. Not now!

What a time to get hard. But he couldn't help it. He pressed his cheek against Lyss's. "Don't worry. Everything's fine. Everything'll be okay. You'll see." And very gently, ever so soft, he formed his lips into a loose circle and he kissed Lyss's ear. "It's okay," he whispered. "I'm here. Don't worry."

And they remained like that until Lyss's crying subsided. In the morning they might regret it, they might hate themselves for it, but right now, they clung to each other with longing, with passion, fiercely holding each other for comfort.

And Sanson was still hard. No matter what he tried to do to lose it.

That's all of part one. Part two will follow shortly. Stay tuned...