Peace

Peace

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fantasy

Summary

Ten years on from the Shadow Wars peace has seen Severine thrive under the continued leadership of King Titus. Alexander Tor’al has vanished into the footnotes of history while Nathan Drison has retired to the quiet life. For Brent T’elc, Chosen of Heironeous, life has also changed. No longer adventuring beyond the next horizon he has finally found peace in one location. Commander of an army and beloved leader in Land of Zealots he continues to walk the difficult path of Chosen. Yet Brent knows all to well how fickle finding peace can be. I have used the D&D religion of Heironeous and have done so only out of deep and abiding respect and love for it. I have written added my own analects and personality, but have tried to keep as honestly to some materials found in the D&D world as I can. This is, for legal purposes, a fanfiction under the Open Games Licence.

Summary

Ten years on from the Shadow Wars peace has seen Severine thrive under the continued leadership of King Titus. Alexander Tor’al has vanished into the footnotes of history while Nathan Drison has retired to the quiet life.

For Brent T’elc, Chosen of Heironeous, life has also changed. No longer adventuring beyond the next horizon he has finally found peace in one location. Commander of an army and beloved leader in Land of Zealots he continues to walk the difficult path of Chosen. Yet Brent knows all to well how fickle finding peace can be.


I have used the D&D religion of Heironeous and have done so only out of deep and abiding respect and love for it. I have written added my own analects and personality, but have tried to keep as honestly to some materials found in the D&D world as I can. This is, for legal purposes, a fanfiction under the Open Games Licence.

Chapter23 (v.1) - Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: November 02, 2016

Reads: 115

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: November 02, 2016

A A A

A A A

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

 

Tensions eased after that afternoon in the garden. An uneasy truce developed into a comfortable working routine of give and take. As the first month of Ciana’s life progressed, the men supported Vanessa in making a full recovery from childbirth. 

 

During the day Patrick often retreated to the study to relax with a good book. It was not uncommon for Nathan to join him there while Vanessa slept. A rapport he hadn’t expected developed based on their mutual experiences of sharing the bed of a Chosen. They spoke about evaluating threats, the difficulty in keeping confidences, recognising when to share information and when to avoid. Nathan smirked at the stories Patrick told about the new high priest and grew concerned at the mention of repeated attempts on Brent’s life using poison.

 

Moving to the back of the room Nathan withdrew a key from his desk and unlocked the glass cabinet that housed his most precious books. Withdrawing three books bound in green leather he handed them to Patrick before relocking the case. “Don’t injure them,” the paladin warned with a fierce shake of his finger. “They are irreplaceable.” Patrick promised to be careful.

 

The following week Patrick diligently read On Recognising Tonic Verse Toxin, which left him terrified of ever picking fruit from the side of the road and eating it again. Whilst re-reading a section on handling deadly plants from Safer Harvests he became alarmed at how many names he recognised from his master’s chamber back home. He began to understand a little clearer why he was never to touch the designated herbal cabinet.

 

The information that Nathan had provided had the duel effect of comforting Patrick while making him more aware of how dangerous the natural world could be for humans. Yet it had another unexpected result too. The title of the third book, Of Petals And Roots, was familiar to him, although this book was evidently an early draft with many corrections and hyphenated pronunciations scrawled along its border.

 

A week before they planned to leave Patrick was tidying up the spare bedroom where they had been residing. Lifting away a coat from a stack of books he was unsurprised to find that Brent had been busily writing once again when he wasn’t looking. Removing the books that weighed down the edges he lifted the paper and tapped the sand back into its small container for later use. As he packed away the books it hit him. Grabbing the paper his master had been writing, his eyes flicked over the letter containing advice for common baby aliments and their remedies and realised he recognised the familiar handwriting.

 

Absconding to the library with the sample he plonked himself down at Nathan’s desk and opened the three books randomly to a page. He compared the letters and the size of the script, coming to the uncomfortable conclusion that two of the books and the letter were surprisingly similar. Looking for the author’s name on each of the he found that the green leather cover only contained the title. However with a little adjustment the protective cover came off. Underneath the old leather was black with marks of wear and tear on the bottom right. The same titles were written in a bold hand. Removing the covers had released several previously hidden pages as well. On these he found a man’s name, Alexander Tor’al. Wanting to get to the bottom of the mystery he picked up the book Safer Harvests and headed outside to find the answers.

 

 

The afternoon sun warmed his back as he made his way through the garden to the stone benches were the others often rested after lunch. He saw Brent and Nathan sitting side by side on the ground, a map of some sort scratched into the ground with several sticks. Tenderly they kissed while Vanessa watched on with a smile, the babe at her breast sucking happily. Spotting him Brent smiled and waved him over with a smile before turning back to their activity. However Nathan spotted the book in Patrick’s hand and grabbed Brent’s arm meaningfully. Glancing down Brent gave him a look of intense inquiry before following his gaze back to his manservant.

 

Getting to his feet Nathan offered him a hand. “The book,” he indicated solemnly. Confusion clouded Brent’s expression before his eyes widened in shocked recognition. “You kept it?” he questioned incredulously. “I thought it burnt.” Nathan looked back in discomfort while Vanessa awkwardly stood and moved to their side. Plucking it from Patrick’s hand she glanced at it and said, “This book is from my husband’s private study, Chosen. He normally keeps it under lock and key.” She looked at him sternly in reprimand then back to the frazzled paladin. “I do not understand his concern nor yours, Brent. Your friend was a learned man and his words have helped me many time when planning these gardens.” A glow of pride lit Brent’s face before he quickly concealed it behind a mask of control. He bowed his head in gratitude while Patrick took the book back. “I thank you for your words. Patrick, come.”

 

Setting a brisk pace he strode a considerable distance away until he was sure no one could overhear them. “Something about that book brought you out here without a thought,” Brent stated. “What did you find?” His eyes were watchful and intense, giving nothing away. Patrick held up book in question then glanced around. “Is this place safe to talk?”

Brent snorted. “Now you think about an audience.” Undeterred his manservant pressed on. “These are the same hand,” he said holding them out. Brent gave them a passing glance, dismissing them. “Inconsequential,” he stated. “Many students take on the style of their instructor.”

“So he taught you to write? I thought you could do that before you left with Nathan,” remarked Patrick referring to the lie of a life his lover upheld. Brent pursed his lips. “Indeed. But my writing was not, shall we say, efficient? He taught me better by a campfire.”

“You have the same things back home.” Brent snorted and shook his head.

“And you think that those that study under Hotes would not have similar items in their rooms? It is only natural to copy an expert.”

 

Opening the book to the inside of the front cover Patrick pressed, “But there’s more. What about the inscription?” Confused Brent took the book from him and scanned the page. The paladin’s gaze snapped back to him and his eyes narrowed considerably. “That dedication,” he warned, “was very private.” Patrick swallowed and pointed to the writing. “I think,” he hazard, “that you forgot about it.” Clearing his throat Patrick directed the paladin’s eyes to the text. “Read it,” he encouraged but Brent looked away. Patrick’s eyes narrowed. His voice full of challenge he growled, “Fine. Then I will.”

 

‘My dear protégé.

 

I shall not always be around to comfort you when the night demons take you. Take courage in the knowledge that you are more special than you realise. He and I have great plans for your future. Trust in Nathan to guide you when the light is at its dimmest for in these moments the fate of our world will rest on your fragile shoulders. Serve our people and serve our god. Walk with honour and courtesy but remember the well-aimed use of a barbed tongue.

 

Your proud master,

Brent T’elc.’

 

“He was a good man,” whispered Brent blinking rapidly. He felt Patrick touch his shoulder and looked away. “He was,” comforted Patrick, “for you all to speak so highly of him.” Brent touched the hand on his shoulder and continued to look towards the meadows. “I miss my little healer,” he confessed quietly. “He shouldn’t have died on that battle field. It wasn’t his time. He had so much left to accomplish.”

 

“Chosen,” warned Patrick in a low voice, “please don’t lie to me now.” The paladin looked at him oddly, still denying the past. “You loved him so greatly that you emulate him in all aspects of your life. You even had our god give you his name. In this moment though, speak truth. Do not hide behind Analect One and Two, rather consider Analect Thirty-Eight.”

 

The paladin smirked and gave a short bark of dry amusement. “Seems you have been studying well, Mr Owins.” He let out a long breath and wiped his mouth, considering his words carefully. “Well, what would you have me say? What deep secret – if indeed there are any – are you trying to uncover?”

“Did you write this in your past life? Is Alexander Tor’al your birth name?”

 

“Ah here you two are,” cried Nathan noisily when he reached them. Looking over his shoulder he shouted, “They’re over here, honey!” It was to Brent’s everlasting relief that Nathan had always had this ability to save him in the nick of time. “Actually Nathan, Brent and I need some time alone,” said Patrick from behind gritted teeth. “Nonsense,” disagreed Brent quickly stepping beside Nathan. “It’s getting dark. We should probably all head inside anyway.”

 

Patrick silently fumed as Vanessa caught Brent in conversation about her garden while they walked ahead to the house. He felt Nathan’s hand on his upper arm and growled at the interference. Steel grey eyes refused to back down from his angry glare. “Don’t pursue this, Patrick,” said the paladin quietly.

“Is that a threat?” he barked back, itching for a fight. Nathan shook his head.

“A sensible observation. What good will it do if you push him for answers? Who’ll really benefit from this?”

 

Shoving Nathan away he hissed, “Did you know he was hurt in that past life of his?” Angrily Nathan stood and blocked his way up the path. Shoving a finger into his chest he hissed, “Unlike you, I was there. I saw him then and I see him now. Stop trying to screw up the happiness that he has finally found with you!” Patrick puffed up his chest and lifted his chin in defiance. “Did you know he still has nightmares about that time? About what his lover did to him?”

Nathan froze. “He told you about that?”

“Yes.”

 

Shaking his head Nathan ran a hand through his russet hair in shock and spoke introspectively, “He never really spoke about that time with anyone. Only Brent.” Looking back at Patrick he questioned, “Has it helped? Talking about the times he was sexually assaulted?” The colour drained from Nathan when he saw the look of alarm flick cross Patrick’s face. He realised too late that this particular detail had not be disclosed. “By Moradin’s dripping cock!” Nathan swore at his foolish mistake and took off for Brent’s side.

 

Stumbling through the front door, Vanessa and Brent both look up from where they sat conversing on the couch. “Brent!” Nathan panted reaching his side and falling to his knees. Dropping his head onto his lap he gushed, “I am so sorry! I didn’t realise – I thought.” Touching his hair Brent watched Patrick lurch through the front door.

“Hush, Nat,” soothed Brent eyeing his manservant with unease. “You could never do me wrong.”

 

Crossing the room Patrick put his hands on his hips and demanded, “Is it true?” Meeting his eyes Brent frowned, “You might want to start with a less ambiguous question, my love.”

“He said, he said-” Brent and Vanessa shared a look. Without a word she left the room and closed the door. “Nathan said what, Patrick?” asked Brent calmly while he continued to play with Nathan’s hair. He felt Nathan’s fingers dig into his calves but ignored the discomfort. Clearing his throat Patrick demanded, “You were raped?” Brent stiffened. His back ramrod straight, his fists clenched in his lap as silence echoed the pronouncement.

 

Several calming breaths later the paladin unhooked russet hair from his fingers. Stiffly he lifted Nathan from his lap and stood. “It’s true, isn’t it? That’s why you won’t have sex with me,” accused Patrick, green eyes on fire. Refusing to look at either man Brent moved to step away when he felt Nathan grab his trousers. “Soldier boy,” he pleaded. Unable to meet his eyes the paladin slipped his trousers free and stood impassively. His voice was drained, gutted. “Not one more word,” he ordered softly and excused himself from the room. When the men got outside it was to see a white stallion gallop by, dust rising in the wake of his hooves with a man riding bareback into the night.

 

 

 

A literary of curses filled the paladin’s mind. By Gruumsh’s hairy arse! Oh for the sagging tits of Ehlonna! For the love of Corellon’s pointy ears! He was furious. The cold pit in his heart was seconded by the icy sense of loss in his stomach. Clenching his thighs tighter to Aurik’s fine flanks he let him have his head as he vaulted over a fallen tree. The wind whipped his hair and the stallion’s mane into a frenzy. He rode to put as much distance as possible between himself and the secret that had come out. Looking to the twinkling stars above he laughed darkling imagining the sky to be filled with thunder and lightening to better suit his mood. Mind you, he then would have had to seek shelter rather than go riding he realised, ever the pragmatist. Still Aurik felt his master’s urgency for blood rushing excitement and very willingly providing it with little incentive.

 

Finally he reined Aurik in. Patting his neck he slowly slid from the saddle. “Ah Aurik, my faithful lad,” he crooned burying his face in the warm shoulder of his horse. He let the maelstrom of emotions ebb away until he was left with an empty calmness. “What am I to do, old boy?” he asked his horse pulling up some grass and handing it to him. “How the hell did that dirty titbit of information come up?” Shaking his head clear it of anger he considered what to do. Aurik snorted and the paladin barked a laugh in response. “Cuthbert’s pointy mace will fall before I return and admit to that,” he cursed. “Still I could . . . .”

 

 

Midnight had come and gone when the sound of hoof steps neared. Rubbing down his faithful horse in the stable, Brent gave him a thorough scratching behind his left ear before leaving him to rest. A light had been lit in the front window. Steeling his resolve Brent lifted his chin and walked to the front door. Nathan looked up from his place behind his wife. “I was worried,” he offered the silence, concern and fear apparent in his grey eyes. Vanessa sat quietly feeding their child whilst he rubbed her shoulders. Brent ignored him. “Is she feeding well?” he enquired politely crossing the room to fill a glass with water. Vanessa smiled at him. “Come see for yourself.”

 

Approaching he knelt by her side and watched the newborn suckle. Reaching out he touched the soft curls of her head with a finger. “Sweet Ciana,” he praised quietly grinning as a little hand pushed against his. A door opened behind him. “You’re back,” came the disgruntled voice of a man trying to hide how much he had worried. “Excuse me,” Brent said to Vanessa and stood. Signalling the two men he strode outside.

 

Once they were assembled Brent turned and scowled at them. “Never,” he growled, his voice cold and pitiless, “shall I hear you speak such lies about Brent T’elc again while I live.”

“You know that’s not-” corrected Patrick.

“- Any of your business!” snarled Brent rounding on the young green-eyed man. Muscles clenching he shook with anger. “Whether or not that happened to Alexander Tor’al is a mote point because he doesn’t exist any longer! Nathan and I buried him years ago.” Advancing a step he hissed, “He suffered. He survived. Then he died. Stop trying to bring him back.”

 

A hand touched his back. “Soldier boy, are you sure it’s not the time to talk about D-” Blind rage flashed in Brent’s eyes. Turning he thrust Nathan away from him and roared, “Never speak that name!” They both jump at the vehemence in his voice. Panting Brent leans on the edge of the house for support. “I hope to never, never hear that name again. Lest of all from the lips of the men I love.”

 

He felt a grip on his shoulder and shrugged it off. It returned. Brent glared at Nathan who looked back undeterred. Pulling him into a hug he felt Brent stiffened. “Patrick?” he called and felt Brent shake within his arms. Soon both men held him trapped. Soft lips quickly touched his shoulder. Patrick spoke quietly, “You can’t scare us off, my love.” Furious Brent tried to twist out of their hold but although they loosened their grip they refused to let him escape their embrace.

 

Soon enough the warmth of their steady presence got to him. He sighed and felt the worst of the tension leave his body. “Forgiven?” Nathan whispered by his ear. Wrapping one arm around him he kissed his dearest friend. “No need,” he replied. He felt Patrick slip under his other arm and rest his head against his chest in silent support. Hiding his face in the crook of Nathan’s neck, he wept.

 

 

 

 

The air grew colder as Fall began to make the world ready for the season of Cold. Golden leaves littered the earth while the night’s breeze began to nip at people’s heels. “Are you sure you have to leave already?” asked Nathan lowering the large sack from his shoulder.  Brent nodded. “You’ve been kind enough to let us stay for almost two months. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been away this long from home.”

 

Nathan chuckled and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “To think we used to be content with a stretch of white cloth for a tent, a roaring fire and a small company while we traversed Severine.” Brent grinned and added,

“I seem to recall sharing a tent with a particular individual while you spent most of your time nine niches deep in someone else.” Nathan guffawed and slung an arm around his friend. “You could have joined me – used another hole while she drained the life from my cock.”

 

“Your wife ever hear you speak like that?” teased Patrick bringing his horse in from the paddock. “All the time,” Vanessa added following him with a basket. Now that Ciana was old enough to be bound in a sling to her torso she found it easer to move around. Nathan barked a laugh at the look on Patrick’s face. Crossing the stable he pinched his wife’s arse and joked, “It’s why she wanted me – a champion lover she didn’t have to train!” Brent snorted but held up his hands in surrender when Nathan looked at him. “Indeed,” Brent added securing his saddlebags, “I seem to recall him being a very eloquent lover on many occasions. I’ve heard that there is nothing more powerful than his tongue to get him in or out of trouble.”

 

Vanessa shook her head at her grinning husband. “Are you going to deflate that head of his before you leave?” she quipped. Brent flushed then replied without missing a beat, “I’d hate to steal your dessert.” The confusion on her face quickly vanished while her scathing retort was lost under the gales of laughter emanating from Nathan and Patrick. “Boys!” she grumbled under her breath while commiserating with her daughter.

 

Within no time the horses were equipped and rations stored away for travel. Fierce hugs were exchanged. “Promise you’ll visit,” begged Brent and felt an answering squeeze from Nathan. “In the spring,” he vowed. “I’ll bring the whole family.” Carefully hugging Vanessa and her newborn Brent said quietly, “In the spare room there is a writ for personal aid signed by me. If you need anything, take it to the nearest wizard.” She smiled in thanks and nodded.

“I expect you to write to me too,” she added. He beamed at her. Clasping her hand he lifted it to his lips. “Nothing would give me greater pleasure.” Nathan snorted.

“I can think of a few things.” He ducked away when they tried to hit him. Mounting his horse Brent looked around for the last time. He turned to Patrick, already seated on his horse. “Ready? Then let’s ride.”

 

 

 

 

It was on the fourth day of riding north that Patrick woke with a moan. Struggling to stand he rubbed his backside and aching thighs before leaving the tent for the fire. “You can’t blame that on me,” greeted Brent rising from a stump to assist. Patrick groaned in reply. Folding a blanket he helped his manservant sit. Pouring him a pot of tea he commented, “You haven’t said anything.” Clasping his fingers around the hot liquid Patrick replied, “I didn’t want to upset you.” Brent snorted and bent to kiss his forehead. “Foolish boy,” he scolded gently. “You weren’t born to a saddle. I don’t expect you to know how to relax your muscles and adjust while you ride like one of my people. It takes practise.”

 

Ducking into the tent he rummaged around for several minutes before emerging with a jar. “We’ll put this poultice on you after breakfast then rest today.” Patrick shook his head. “You don’t have to do that. Promise you’ll massage it into my aching arse tonight and I’ll be good to go in an hour.” Folding his arms Brent eyed him suspiciously. “Really? Then tell me what you think about being bent over that saddle and fucked hard right this moment.” Glancing at the saddle Patrick grimaced.

“That’s unfair,” he groaned rubbing his backside. “Just the thought makes me tense up.” Brent chuckled darkly and carried the saddle closer.

“You know, I could probably sit you on it like you were going to ride a horse, then bend you over and ram my cock up your tight arse.” He observed Patrick closely. “Does that sound like fun?”

“Next week?” bargained Patrick. Brent shook his head and Patrick pouted. “That’s not fair. You never ride me like I want.” Lowering the saddle the paladin kissed the poor man. “There now love,” he soothed, “rest and don’t loose hope. I’m sure arriving a few days later won’t change anything in the grand scheme of things.” He heard Patrick growl under his breath. Dusting off his hands Brent added slyly, “After all, I’ve got to build up your stamina for riding one way or another.”


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