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Chapter 22 [Nov. 13th, 2004|08:34 pm]
To say Erik was surprised to be woken up by a knock on his door was an understatement, he leapt off the couch where he had fallen asleep, whacking his knee on the coffee table as he did so, and, muttering profanities, made his way swiftly toward the door, opening it and peering out. His eyes almost bugged out of his head when he saw Belris, standing there, his wings held over his head as the first few drops of rain fell from the sky, landing wetly on the pavement below.
Erik smiled then, as the winged man extended his hand, which Erik took immediately, shaking and gesturing for him to come inside.
Belris smiled kindly, complying before opening his mouth to speak.
“Belris, I know” Erik finished for him, watching as the winged man’s jaw dropped.
“How do you….”
Erik smiled kindly.
“Well, you see, last night I had a dream about you, It told me absolutely everything I need to know about what is going to go on in the next couple of days, I think it may have been a warning, something to tell me exactly what to avoid doing…or at least, to tell me what might have happened If I didn’t know what I know now.”
Belris nodded slowly, following Erik as he moved toward the couch, his eye catching that of the Tom, the cat.
Erik grinned.
“Now don’t be startled by him, he’s just a cat, he isn’t like the animals in your world, or he is, in a sense, but he doesn’t talk, he just sort of…Is, he makes an adequate companion though. Now, as I was saying, I know why you are here, you want me to come to your world to defeat this magician, right?”
Belris nodded.
“Yes, that is exactly what I need you to do. I was actually worried when I came here that you would think I was insane, or be terrified by my wings and not let me in, I am glad that you had this dream, it has made my life a lot easier”
Erik laughed, a happy, rich sound.
“I didn’t even think to turn you away in my dream, I guess I WAS a little shocked though, I am shocked now, actually, and am thinking that possibly, I am dreaming again, but if I am, it is not a bad dream, and maybe if I do things right this time around I can stay asleep forever, I would hardly mind, but I am rambling, I guess its just that I am so happy to see you alive, I was so upset before..”
Belris stared at Erik for a moment unsure of what to say exactly.
“Alive?” he finally decided on.
Erik sighed.
“I am sorry, I am afraid I am getting slightly ahead of myself, see, what happened was, you came here, telling me some story about having to defeat this magician, and I go off, all ready to kill him, and then, you tell me that I cant kill using my magic. Anyhow we continue on, and you do something quite horrible to me…well…after we found out I glow when we are…oh never mind about that bit, I am sure we can discuss that later. Now, where was I…”
Belris smiled slightly.
“Okay…you know you are allowed to breathe, right?” he said softly.
“And you glow when we are what?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
Erik gave the winged man a devilish grin, moving slowly toward him and straddling his lap, he pressed his lips firmly but gently against the other man’s pulling him into a passionate kiss, which Belris could not have fought even if he wanted to. When they broke apart, Belris arched an eyebrow at him once more.
Erik simply smiled.
“I glow when we do that, and other stuff” he said, blushing slightly.
“And I cant believe I just did that! You barely know me.”
Belris smiled softly then, a reflective expression on his face as he studied the man that still sat on his lap.
“No, I don’t, but you obviously know me quite well, and I would like to get to know you a whole lot better if you will let me”
“Oh, I will definitely let you, Belris. I think now is about the right time to tell you, so you can get used to the idea. I love you…but you are not the only person I love, and you love me, but I am not the only person YOU love…we both love another man, Itel, the magician that you are hoping I can defeat. When I got to your world, and we went to observe him, he saw me, and thought he was Kitsam, his dead lover, and then he somehow managed to kidnap me and hold me at his castle, thinking that you had somehow taken Kitsam from him and made him forget who he was by giving him this false memory, which, of course, was not the case at all, Kitsam was killed by this big red Doberman bitch, who is…oh…I will tell you that part in a minute actually, and I should probably get off your lap”
He smiled sheepishly, sitting beside the winged man on the couch, Belris casually throwing an arm over his shoulder as he did so, resisting the urge to wrap him in his obsidian wings, just barely.
Belris sighed, watching the man carefully as he spoke.
“Anyhow, yeah, so Itel keeps me captive and I learn all about this Kitsam guy that he loved, and how he is exactly like me, or was…I suppose he is still dead where you are from. And then, later on, Riada comes up with this theory that maybe the only reason I was able to cross over into your world is because everyone has a double, someone exactly like them in any given world, and you cant cross over to another world until your counterpart has died in their world, or left it…not important right now…”
Belris cleared his throat.
“Okay, slow down. I am having a very hard time following this as it is, with you unable to take a breath between sentences, not only am I worried you are going to pass out and die on me before I can get you anywhere near this magician, I am also not able to follow a word you are saying”
Erik nodded slowly before he spoke again.
“Look, I think I am just a little over excited about seeing you again, would you mind terribly if we left off all this until morning and talked about something else for a while?”
Belris smiled kindly.
“Of course, I think that might be a very good idea actually, you will probably make a lot more sense in the morning, and I am quite tired after all the travel I have done, and all the listening I have been trying to do, I will most probably be a lot better at listening then too.”
Erik smiled, moving to rest his head on Belris’ shoulder, but stopping just before he did. Belris watched him with amusement, a small smile on his face.
“Erik, from what I heard, you and I have shared a lot more than an embrace, I have no objection whatsoever to you showing me affection. In fact, I think I will show you just how much I do not object”
With that, he gently turned the smaller man’s head, crushing their lips together for a bruising kiss, which Erik gladly deepened. When they broke apart, both were smiling, their arms wrapped around each other, comfortable and happy.
Erik stayed, wrapped in Belris’ embrace for a long time, just listening to his heart beat and stroking his wings, smiling to himself and feeling completely content with life, and when they were ready, Erik led them to bed, where they fell asleep almost immediately after their heads hit the pillow, their bodies so close it was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began.

When Erik awoke the next morning he was afraid to open his eyes in case he were to wake up alone, and Belris coming to his door was yet again a dream. He kept his eyes shut for a long moment before the now familiar ruffle of wings told him that the night before had either actually happened, or he was still dreaming.
Turning to face the still sleeping man, he wrapped his arms around him, placing a gentle kiss on the tip of his nose, effectively waking him up.
“hmmm…morning” Belris mumbled, wrapping both arms and wings around the man that lay next to him, kissing him soundly on the lips.
Erik smiled, regretfully extracting himself from the embrace and making his way to the kitchen, deciding right then and there that pancakes were most certainly out of the question this time around. He decided toast would have to do, and set to work battling with the toaster, which he was sure was from some time around the Jurassic period, prying the almost-black bread out of the device when it decided that it would get stuck and almost burn the place down.
He wrinkled his nose at the burned bread, smiling at Belris who regarded him with some confusion.
“Offering to the gods” he joked.
“Works best if you burn it”
Belris stared at him, still confused.
“Never mind” he said, deciding to go with cereal and coffee instead of anything that had to be cooked.
“So, why don’t you try explaining to me what you were trying to tell me yesterday” Belris said softly.
Erik nodded, wolfing down the remainder of his breakfast before he spoke.
“Okay, I am going to try this a little differently this time, rather than giving you the whole story, I am going to give you the facts that you need to know. First of all, your mother is very much alive, and feeding off Itel’s misery, which I think might be causing him to be even more miserable than he should be. Second of all, Itel will stop being miserable once we convince him that we love him, which we do, you just don’t know it yet. Next up, your mother has this Doberman working for her, that killed Itel’s lover, Kitsam, she has some issue with her pack and some cross breed or something, I didn’t really get the whole story there, she was a bit insane, I think, but anyhow, that’s what is going on there, she is dangerous, and I don’t really know any way to deal with her without getting someone hurt, but we’ll deal with that later. Are you following this?”
Belris nodded.
“Yes, please continue”
“Okay, well, actually, I think that’s just about it, but do you have any questions?”
Belris pondered this a moment before he spoke.
“Yes, actually, I do. What exactly happened that caused you to be so upset, I have a feeling that maybe I ended up dead, or perhaps Itel did”
Erik sighed, standing and moving toward the winged man, placing a kiss on the top of his head before wrapping his arms around him.
“I did something really stupid, your mother said some things that made me sort of lose my mind a bit, and I more or less killed her using my magic before I could think, you….well….you more or less flew into the air as high as you could and then freefell straight into the ground to save me from becoming consumed by darkness”
Belris nodded.
“Yes, I can sort of see where that would upset you. Do you have any idea what you are going to do to stop my mother?”
Erik nodded.
“Yes, I have a plan, I just hope it works.”
Belris stood, wrapping him in his arms and kissing him thoroughly.
“So, are you ready to go yet?”
Erik smiled softly.
“I will be If I can take the cat with me, it was murder trying to find him a home last time, and I am, really quite attached to the little bastard”
“Sure, go grab him”
Erik grinned, bouncing off to search for the cat, which, just like it did when it knew it was time to go to the vet, had conveniently disappeared. Eric called, and searched, muttering profanities when he finally found the animal on top of a book case, glaring at him in an accusatory way.
“Look, shit head” he said to it, as it growled at him from its vantage point, swiping at him every time he tried to pull it down.
“I am NOT taking you to the vet, I am taking you to a nice new place that you will like, so just come down already”
The cat obliged, hissing and spitting, it ran off, in the direction of the bedroom, squeezing itself into the small gap between the floor and the bed. Erik, fed up, grabbed the cat carrier, throwing it into the room with him and locking the door behind him, it was another good fifteen minutes of banging and crashing before, finally the man emerged, triumphant, covered in scratches from head to foot, with a rather displeased looking cat caged and growling at anything it possibly could.
Belris laughed, extracting a yellow crystal from a pouch on his belt, and Erik moved to him, holding him tight, as he watched the glow radiating from it and then felt himself being pulled in every direction at once. The cat hissed, and Erik focussed his mind on the task set before him.
He didn’t know exactly what he was going to do, but he knew, no matter what happened, that next time he faced the sorceress, he would not let her get to him, he would not let his emotions or his anger take over, he would do whatever it took to keep his friends, and the men he loved safe, and when he did battle with her, he would avoid all her tricks, he would make sure he was not outsmarted. He was confident that he could defeat her without tragedy befalling them once more, that nobody would be hurt this time around, he would train, and he would practise his magic, he would learn the rules and when he faced the woman who had caused him so much anguish and pain in his dreams, when that time came he would be ready.
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Chapter 22 [Nov. 13th, 2004|06:24 pm]
Erik awoke the next morning disoriented and confused, he was sure he could hear the sounds of traffic, and, convinced that he was just having a strange, half-waking dream, he snuggled into his pillow and ignored the strange sounds, drifting off into a fitful sleep not long after. When he next woke, it was to the unmistakable sound of a car horn, which blared through his room, making him open his eyes in shock. He was surprised to find himself in his apartment, his large black cat curled up at his feet.
He shook his head in disbelief, staring at the cat a moment before he swung his legs around the side of the bed and stood, yawning expansively and stretching.
The cat, noticing that he was up, moved toward him, jumping onto the floor to rub itself all over his legs, purring madly like a motorboat.
Erik stared at the cat a long time, closing his eyes as he remembered Belris, the startled expression on his face when he first set eyes on the animal. He smiled softly then, a few tears trickling down his face at the bittersweet memory.
The cat meowed loudly, its emerald eyes looking up at him in a pleading way.
“Okay, okay, I’ll feed you already” he said grumpily, moving to the kitchen, stopping only to switch on the television.
Holding the cat’s head out of the way while he poured kibble into the bowl, his attention caught the television, and he stood, motionless as he stared at the weather forecast, his eyes going wide.
“There is NO fucking way all of that was a dream” he said to himself, remembering at that time that he was feeding the cat and shouting profanity at the large pile of food that now littered the floor.
Grumbling to himself, he picked up as much as he could, shoving it back into the box, before the cat ate it.
“Damn animal, you will explode if you are not careful” he said, laughing as the cat head butted his hand demanding to be stroked.
He stared at the television a while more, noting that the storm that had hit the night Belris had come to his door had not even happened yet.
He looked outside his window, his brows knitting in confusion as he saw the thunderheads that hung pregnantly in the air, threatening to burst at any moment and drench the world with its load of rain.
He sighed, shaking his head, a small smile on his face as he moved toward the couch and flopped himself down on it, staring at the television in amazement.
“That is some really fucked up stuff” he said to himself.
“Dreaming something that real, feeling emotion that intense, and actually believing it has happened in the morning. I think I need some real help”
He looked over at the cat, who watched him with an air of superiority, before it flung its leg over its shoulder and began to carefully clean it’s backside.
“Charming” he said, more to himself than to the animal.
“Some people need to be taught some manners”
He sighed, his mind going back over the dream he had that night, marvelling at the fact that the world seemed so real, that every single detail was etched so perfectly into his brain, the sound of Itel’s laugh, Belris’ smile, the annoyed look on Timaz’ face, the cheeky expression on Riada’s.
He shook his head, sighing to himself.
“I should have known the only men I ever loved would not be real” he said sadly.
“Its just my luck really. Oh well, it cant be helped, and the world be damned if I am going to work today…oh no, not after a dream like that, I think I’ll stay home with you, what do you think, tom? Maybe I can go back to bed and have more of that dream”
Erik picked up the phone, and using his best “I am about to die of some terrible, incurable 24 hour disease” voice he rang work.
“Ugh, hello Liam, look, I am feeling really, REALLY sick, and I wont be able to make it in today, I think I ate some bad Chinese food or something, because I seriously could barely get out of bed this morning, and damn, I had a weird dream last night, about talking animals and being in a relationship with two guys and stuff…no, not one of THOSE dreams you pervert, it was actually…nice, sort of, until the end…one of them died...yeah, I’ll be okay, I think I just need some rest, you know, get over whatever is making me sick, I’ll probably be in tomorrow, you know I try to never skip two days of work in a row, the animals miss me to damn much if I do…’kay I’ll see you tomorrow…bye”
Erik collapsed back onto the couch, a satisfied smile on his face as he did so, his attention turning to the television for a moment more before he dragged himself out of the couch and into the shower, adjusting the water so as it was almost all hot, before disrobing and jumping under the hot spray.
It was not until that moment that he realised just how tense his muscles were, and he just stood there a moment, letting the hot water belt down on him, releasing much of the tension in his back and shoulders before he began scrubbing himself roughly with the soap and shampooing his hair.
He stayed in the shower until the water became cold, walking out feeling much refreshed, and quite ready, and willing to spend the rest of the day at home, doing almost nothing.
The moment he sat himself down, however, an idea sprung into his head, and grabbing a pen and paper, he moved over to his desk and began writing.

“Its funny, isn’t it, how well people can adapt to any given situation? How someone can be taken away from their every-day life, be put into completely unfamiliar surroundings and make themselves quite at home.
Of course, there is always a period of adjustment, where one must learn specific skills in order to survive, and one must get used to the different culture of the people in their new surroundings.
It was not like that with me, of course, no, not at all, you see, I do not adapt to change well, and before all this happened, I was quite certain that anything supernatural was indeed a figment of somebody’s warped imagination, and when the supernatural came tapping at my window and knocking on my door, I was certain that the fine string that was holding onto my sanity had finally snapped, leaving me spiralling into sheer madness.
Actually, I was so convinced of this that it took a very long time for me to come to terms with the fact that what I was witnessing was not some kind of delusional fantasy thought up by an over-tired mind.
To be fair to myself, though, I have to say that having a winged messenger knock on your door in the middle of the night during one of the worst thunder storms in history is a little unbelievable, even to the most open-minded person in the world, and the very idea that said messenger would want to take me, a twenty-one year old animal attendant away from my home, and off into a place nobody on this earth had ever seen before is even MORE unbelievable, but it DID happen, and now, I am going to have to learn to adjust, because there is now absolutely no way I can get home.
Oddly enough, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I am sure I can learn to survive in this place, and I would not leave now, even if I was able to, there is too much to do, too much to fix, and there is one person that, I think, might need me a little more than he thinks he does….
Yes, I will stay, and I will do my best to adapt, because that’s just what humans do.”

He stared at the paper a long time before glaring at it, and tossing it down in disgust.
“How the hell am I supposed to do these people justice” he muttered.
“I cant even write about myself without sounding like an idiot, how the HELL am I supposed to write about them, the way I loved them, the way they looked and acted, it seemed so real, and now, I am making it sound like some stupid fairy tale! And I have to stop talking to myself, its getting quite disturbing.”
He stopped then, laughing at himself, before standing, stretching and listening to the satisfying “pop” as he cracked his neck, before padding off to the kitchen to make himself a well deserved snack.

That night, after writing undisturbed for many hours, Erik sat, looking over what he had written so far, a good few pages, that he decided were a decent start to remembering the people he had come to call his ‘dream friends’, he moved away from the desk, giving himself a much needed break, and flopped onto the couch, his back silently thanking him as he did so.
It was there, that he fell asleep, the wind howling outside as he did so.
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Chapter 21 [Nov. 13th, 2004|04:48 pm]
Belris simply reacted as he saw Erik fall, diving head first down the chasm that had been created, grabbing onto the man as he did so, and, with a few beats of his wings, began the flight back up out of the pit, the wing aching terribly where it had been wounded by the teeth of the Doberman not long before.
Erik held on to the man for dear life, and whispered softly.
“Belris, I don’t know what to do, I don’t think I can beat her”
“You will, Erik, you will find a way, I believe in you” he replied, causing the younger man to smile, as they erupted from the pit, and Belris dropped Erik safely back onto his feet.
“Thank you” he said softly.
“I love you, and you have just helped me believe in myself”
The sorceress sneered as the two men emerged, turning to the small fox in her frustration, she screamed.
The little tiger fox screamed in terror and pain as his striped coat erupted into flames, and Erik quickly turned his attention to the small creature, trying to think of something, anything that would put out the fire.
“Extinguish” he commanded, watching as the flames died down, leaving a singed, but otherwise unharmed vulpine watching him with wide, grateful eyes.
He turned his attention onto the sorceress a moment, deciding now, it was time to take the offensive, and before something happened that he could not repair.
“Disarm” He commanded.
The sorceress laughed when absolutely nothing happened.
“Just for the record” she said.
“Magic is energy, not a weapon, it is not something that one can throw away quite as easily as you think”
“Drain” she said, pointing to him.
He gasped, as suddenly he felt very weak, as though all the energy had been sucked out of him. He fell to his knees, shaking and miserable as she approached, lifting him to his feet, her lips at his ear as she spoke just loud enough for him to hear.
“I like the way you taste, and when you are dead, drained of the very essence of life from which your magic stems, I am going to enjoy the way Itel tastes, and when he is dead, I will turn to Belris, but I wont kill him, no, that would be too kind, he will suffer your deaths, and will take just enough of his essence that he will be entirely without magic, then I will curse him with eternal life, I think that is only fair”
It was at that point that Erik began to glow a bright green, startling the sorceress just enough that her hold on his life force was broken, he moved back from her, fuming, seeing nothing but the hatred he had for her, and with a mighty bellow he commanded.
She stared at him, shocked for a moment, before her lips twisted into a cruel smile, and then, without a word, she fell, her life extinguished.
He fell back, startled by his actions, not really believing he had done what he had, and reality falling around him as he hit the ground.
He looked at Belris and Itel, who stood, a little way away from him, stunned expressions on their faces, and then he spoke.
“Oh my god, what have I done?”

Belris watched in disbelief as Erik shouted the command at the sorceress, his eyes wide as she fell over, dead, and as Erik fell back onto the ground, he moved to go to him, but was stopped by a firm yet gentle hand on his shoulder. He looked behind himself at Itel, who simply shook his head.
“Wait” he said, and Belris nodded acknowledgment.
“He may not turn for a while yet” the winged man said softly.
“It took my mother weeks before she actually went bad” his eyes held so much hope that Itel had no choice but to smile, a sad, half twitch of his lips that did not quite reach his eyes.
“I know, it may be a few days” he said softly, rubbing the winged man’s lower back.
“We should go to him” Belris said simply, moving forward and wrapping Erik in his arms numbly.
Erik held onto Belris like a lifeline, crying softly and whimpering.
“Oh my god, Belris, I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to. I know what is going to happen to me, and I cant let it, you have to…you have to kill me, before I turn, you know that don’t you?”
Belris sighed, inhaling a deep shaky breath before he spoke.
“Shh, Its okay baby, for right now we don’t have to think about anything like that, just settle down, we will figure it all out, I promise you, I don’t know what we’ll do, but I’ll find a way, I wont let you turn, we wont have to kill you, I couldn’t bear to do that”
Itel moved closer to the crying man, wrapping his arms around both Erik and Belris as they spoke in quiet tones, rubbing their backs, trying to soothe them as best as he could, though his own heart was numb from the realisation that he would most likely be losing one of the men he loved in a few short days, maybe sooner.
Belris looked up, catching the eye of Timaz, who stood a few feet away, staring at the three men, sympathy in his oil drop eyes, she smiled sadly, moving toward them, resting a hand on Belris’ shoulder as he did so, before slipping the small dagger he had taken from the Doberman into his hand.
Belris gave the fox a weary smile, grasping the blade before he stood.
“You know I have to, don’t you Timaz?” he whispered, watching as the little fox sighed deeply and nodded.
“I couldn’t take his life, and I could not sit by and watch as the darkness claimed him.”
Timaz nodded slowly, watching as the other two men slowly shifted their attention to Belris.
Erik tilted his head a moment, looking confused.
“What are you talking about, Belris?” He asked, a hint of fear in his voice.
Belris shook his head, smiling a little before moving to kiss him deeply.
“I love you” he said, when they finally broke apart for air. He wrapped both men in his wings, embracing them once more before moving away.
“I love you both, more than you will ever know, and don’t you forget it, but this is something I have to do, something I probably should have done years ago, when my mother turned, but, I guess, I didn’t know then that it would work, and now, I think I’d rather things be this way than see them turn out any other way. Erik, Itel, I thank you both for loving me in the short time we had together, and Timaz, you are the best brother I could have ever asked for. When you see our mother next, please, tell her that I did this for a good cause and not to mourn me. Erik, this is in no way your fault, I know now, that this was the way it was always going to be, the only way to get rid of Vesgha would be to destroy her, and you did what you had to do. Know now that this is what I have to do.”
He threw the dagger to the side then, smiling softly at Timaz.
“I wont use that, it just doesn’t seem right” he said, raising himself skyward with his powerful wings. He flew as high as he could, higher than he ever had before, and looked down on the men and the fox, that were now almost specks below him, and then he folded his wings, his eyes closed tightly as he felt the air whoosh past his face in free fall, he spoke softly to the Gods then.
“Please, take my life and soul in exchange for that of the man I love, he took the life of another out of necessity, and now I give mine to save his”
He sighed then, feeling his body speed up as it plummeted toward the earth, and just before it hit, he smiled.
“Goodbye” he said softly, and then he was no more.

Erik leapt to his feet as Belris took off into the air, watching in horror as he flew higher and higher, screaming out as he began his freefall to the ground, and running toward him as he landed with a heavy thud.
He kneeled before the lifeless form, turning him over to view the face, stroking the long, dark hair and obsidian wings and holding the body close.
“Live” he commanded, watching hopefully for any signs of life, seeing none.
“LIVE” he tried again, shaking the body slightly, and still getting no response.
The Doberman, having recovered some from her fight with Timaz, sat up, laughing bitterly at the man.
“It wont work” she said, a hint of amusement in her voice.
“He is dead, and there is not a damn thing you can do about it, you lost him, all because you could not control your anger. Tell me, human, what did she say to you that was worth the life of your lover?”
Itel glared at the Doberman, his eyes cold as he did so.
“You hold your tongue, or I will cut it out of your head” he said dangerously, moving toward Erik and embracing him.
Erik sighed deeply, holding Belris’ body close and trying one last time to will the man back to life.
“PLEASE Live” he said, before breaking into sobs, tears trickling down his face.
“Oh, god, I take it back, I didn’t mean it, I take it back…please….I just want him back”
Itel sighed, holding him tight.
“We both do, baby, but what’s done is done, and there is nothing you, or I, or anybody can do about that. He did what he had to do, just as you did what you had to do, his sacrifice probably saved us all, just as yours did, and all we can do is hold onto the memory of him, and help each other, and Timaz through this loss, we have to hold on, and stick together, we have to be strong for each other, it is really the only thing we can do. Being miserable will not bring him back, it will just make us suffer more over something we cannot change, and he would not have wanted that”
Erik shook his head.
“No, I don’t accept that, there must be a way to bring him back, there has to be, I am determined that I will find it, I cant bear to think that he died because of me, because of something I did, when I could have done any number of other things to stop the sorceress” He looked at the Doberman, who gave him a malicious grin, which he ignored.
“You were right about that, what happened here today is in part, my fault, but I have a feeling, if it were not for you, all this would not have happened in the first place. I do not know exactly what I am going to do with you yet, but do not think that you are going to be getting away.”
She laughed, a bitter sound, as she glared at him, then the fox in turn.
“Why don’t you just kill me, I have suffered the greatest humiliation already, being beaten by something half my size, and a half breed at that, there is nothing more you could possibly do to me”
Timaz shook his head.
“No, I think there is, actually. I think, perhaps, you should be our servant, I am sure that Itel can find a way to make you unable to leave the valley, after the damage you have caused, I think you should spend the life serving the friends of those whose lives you have taken. From now on, you will be forced to work from the time the sun rises to the time the sun sets, and you will be fed only the scraps that are left after the rest of us have eaten, you no longer have a name, you are simply servant. I think that is quite fitting.”
The Doberman growled low, but said no more.
After a while, when Erik had finally mustered some control, and all wounds were healed, the two remaining men, the fox, and their captive made the journey back toward the cottage, the body of Belris in tow.
They buried him that evening behind the cottage, all the half breeds attending, along with the entire herd of horses, who looked on in quiet sadness as those that knew him best said their goodbyes.
Riada and Isrira stood side by side, and, though neither would admit it later, a few tears were shed over the loss of their friend, the mare, Hiyarith was hardly so discreet, moving toward the place where they put Belris to rest, nuzzling the earth fondly and dropping a few silver tears where she stood.
As the sun sank over the mountains once more, the visitors departed, leaving Erik, Itel and Timaz standing in silent vigil over the grave.
“What will you two do now?” Timaz asked after a long while.
Erik looked at Itel, who shook his head sadly.
“I have a lot of fixing up to do” he said softly.
“I more or less broke the world, and while it is healing itself, I think it might need my help, I need to do this, I need to rid the fields of salt, and make them green again, so I will be doing that, at least until I feel slightly better about the last few months’ events.”
He stopped for a moment, regarding Erik for a long time, before he sighed.
“And I have just realised, any hope you had of getting back to your own world was lost when Belris….well….when Belris did what he did, unless you can find a way to get back on your own, I am sorry, Erik”
Erik smile sadly, shaking his head as he did so.
“I wouldn’t want to leave you here alone, even if I could, Itel. I may not have belonged here at first, but I feel I most certainly do now, and I want to help you as you try to repair the damage that was done to this planet, if you will let me”
Itel sighed, shaking his head.
“I do not want you to feel obliged to do this just because I am doing it, I know you do not feel comfortable using magic, and you probably feel even less comfortable now, after what happened. I am not saying the help will not be welcome, but I do not need it, your support and love are enough”
Erik nodded.
“I would still like to help you” he said softly, his hand grasping Itel’s and giving it a hesitant squeeze before releasing it.
“How about you, Timaz?” Erik asked.
Timaz was silent for a moment, before his lips curved into a slightly lopsided smile.
“I am going to try to unite the half breeds with the pure breeds. There are no real differences between us and I think it is simply stupid for us to be separated due to fear and misunderstandings. I think, perhaps, if I can get a few clans to understand this, that it will be a big step forward and we will eventually be able to live in peace, that the half breeds and their families will not be ridiculed because there was love between two different species. If I can achieve this, I think, I will make my mother, and Belris proud of me”
Erik smiled softly, ruffling the soft fur on the fox’s head before turning to go into the house.
“I think that your dream is a good one, Timaz, and I think if anyone were capable of it, it would be you, you have a fire in you that I have not seen in anyone else before, and if you can turn it toward making people hear you, then you are halfway there already. I believe in you, and I know Belris would too. Now let’s get inside and get some kind of rest, we have had a long day, and suffered much loss, and though I know we will still hurt in the morning, both physically and emotionally, I know also that things always look at least a little better in the morning. I think I need that comfort now”
And so it was, with heavy hearts and minds, that the two men and the fox made their way slowly into the cottage.
Erik stopped once, to look behind him, and stayed out a while longer as the others went in, Itel gave him a questioning look, but obeyed when Erik gestured for him to just go inside.
He sighed sadly, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
“Goodbye Belris” he said softly.
“I love you, and I always will”
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Chapter 20 [Nov. 13th, 2004|01:42 pm]
Timaz was waiting for the men when they arrived in the fields, yipping excitedly as they approached, he bounded toward them, his tail swinging around in circles like a propeller as he did so.
“Did it work, did it work?” he asked, unable to contain his excitement.
“It worked” Erik replied, smiling as the fox bounced around with excitement.
“And you can remember everything Kitsam knew? Do you know how to control your magic?”
Erik shook his head.
“I remember that I gave up on trying to use my magic after I nearly injured Itel. Or, rather, Kitsam did, and I am thinking perhaps, it is for the best if I do the same thing, I have not hurt anyone yet, but it is that YET that bothers me, I am not safe, and I don’t think I will ever feel confident using magic, it is something that I was not raised with, and too difficult a concept for me to grasp completely. The salt is taking care of itself, and, if it REALLY needs a helping hand, I may use my ability in a limited fashion, but I am just too damn scared that I am going to hurt someone I love”
Itel, Erik and Timaz stared at him, while the little skunk examined his hands.
“That is almost exactly what Kitsam said after he had decided that he would not practice anymore, and knowing you like I do, I understand that it is going to be almost impossible to change your mind, but I ask, don’t give up on magic all together, it is important that you use it regularly, in some limited fashion so as you can vent the excess energy, otherwise you may become a danger to yourself and others when the magic tries to escape you all on its own. Use it in a limited fashion with things you are comfortable with, but do not stop all together”
Erik considered this a moment before he spoke.
“I suppose easy things like what I have been doing are not that difficult, I can get used to them, and it is a useful ability to have, but I do not think I want to try anything else, the memory of Kitsam almost killing you is not a pleasant one, and I do not want to risk injury or death to anybody that I care about”
The skunk watched them for a moment, before seizing the opportunity to speak.
“Erik, if you feel up to it, why don’t you walk with me a while, I would like the chance to discuss a few things with you away from the others, if that is okay with the rest of you, of course. I feel I should tell you a few things you may want to know, and that is best done where your embarrassment will not be public”
Erik shrugged, looking around at the three men and the fox, so see if any objections were voiced. Though they seemed amused, none were particularly against the idea, so, after saying their goodbyes, Arath moved off a t a leisurely pace, Erik following close behind.

The two men and the fox watched them go in silence, a feeling of unease settling around them, and, after a moment, Itel spoke.
“There is something very wrong with Arath, I think, he is just not acting quite right, and while I do not feel Erik is in any real danger from this, there is something in the pit of my stomach that tells me that we should not leave him alone with my little skunk friend”
Belris nodded, wrapping his wings tightly around himself as he did so, though it was a pleasant summer day, he was suddenly cold.
“I did not want to say anything to you, in case you were offended by it, but he makes me nervous and I don’t think I entirely trust him, if you know what I mean, he has been acting strangely, though I thought that might just have been his normal personality, but you saying this fills me with such dread and worry”
Itel moved to lean against the Belris, the larger man’s wings moving to wrap him, too in their warmth.
“Caring and worrying about something would not offend me, Belris, I am glad you finally voiced it. He is acting like a merchant ferret, he has been slinking around so much, disappearing at odd hours of the night, and when he returns, he seems even craftier than he was before, there is something wrong”
Timaz growled softly before he spoke.
“Shall I follow them? Keep an eye on what is going on and make sure no harm comes to Erik for you?” he asked, his tail lashing about in worry for the human.
Belris nodded.
“If you would please, Timaz, I’d be ever so grateful, though, I know if nothing actually happens I am going to feel guilty for doubting Arath in the first place, if you know what I mean?”
The little tiger fox smiled kindly, patting the man on the back before slinking off cautiously the way Arath and Erik had gone.

Erik watched the skunk, slightly confused as they walked, he had been almost silent since they started out, and now, as they neared the edge of the forest, he began to worry, just a little, about what was going on.
“Arath, I thought you wanted to talk” he said, trying hard to not let the nervousness creep into his voice.
“I do” the skunk replied calmly.
“But I think, perhaps we should go back up to the clearing to do so; I know we will not be disturbed there”
Erik pouted, crossing his arms in front of his chest and stopping.
“I don’t want to climb all the way back up there, I am way too lazy for that” he said, giving the skunk his best puppy dog look as he did so.
The skunk sighed, turning to face the human, an expression of extreme patience on his face.
“Okay, well, I think we are far enough away from everyone anyhow” he said softly.
“I suppose we can have our…conversation right here”
He stopped a moment, looking up into the forest, catching the movement of his mistress in the shadows.
Erik followed his gaze, his eyes going wide when he thought he saw movement somewhere deep in the forest depths.
“There’s something out there” he said softly to the skunk.
“I saw it moving, did you see it?”
The fox nodded.
“Yes, it is probably one of the half breeds trying to catch whatever it is we are going to talk about. You never know, perhaps Belris and Itel have sent Timaz to spy on us”
Erik laughed then, patting the small mammal on the shoulder as he did so.
“You my friend, are completely insane, why would they send Timaz after us? They wouldn’t be that interested in whatever it is we are discussing, would they? Actually, what is it we ARE discussing?”
The small skunk watched him carefully before he spoke.
“I was thinking we should discuss your death” he said cautiously, causing Erik’s eyes to go wide.
“You mean Kitsam’s death, don’t you? I mean, I am not really him, I just have his memories now”
“Yes, of course, I mean Kitsam’s death; it must have been traumatic for you to have experienced that, even though it was just a memory from a dead man. You know, it might help if we played the scene out, not just to resolve it in your mind, but to sate my curiosity of just exactly how Irat managed to kill him. I mean, it would be difficult, even for a Doberman to get that close to you, or Kitsam, if you didn’t know them, am I right?”
Erik nodded slowly.
“Yeah, I guess it might work, but there is not much to tell really, it was dark, I heard a noise outside, went out to investigate, and found the Doberman wandering around, I thought she was lost, so I asked her If I could help her at all, and she said that she was trying to find the town. I told her I could guide her there in the morning, and that if she wanted she could spend the night in the castle. She told me it was of most importance that she gets to the town that night, that her dam was dieing and that she did not know how long she had left. She said that she had gotten lost somewhere in the forest and that she must have taken a wrong turn or something, so I agreed to guide her through right then and there, I knew Itel wouldn’t mind”
The skunk nodded tilting his head to the side.
“I see, so she tricked you into going away with her somewhere?”
“More or less, yes. Anyhow, we got into the forest, she was behind me, and all of a sudden she pretended to trip, she grabbed onto me, held me still, and, before I knew it, her teeth had sunk into my throat. I was too far away from anyone that they could have heard me scream even if I could have, which I couldn’t, and then, well, I died….or, Kitsam did, rather, it is so odd that I have his memories, yet I am not him, you know what I mean?”
The skunk sighed, nodding slowly.
“Yes, I believe I do” he said, moving to pat the human on the back with one hand, his other moving to a pouch on his belt, removing a carefully concealed dagger, quickly slashing at the man as he did so.
Erik saw the quick movement out of the corner of his eye, jumping back, almost out of range of the knife, but just not far enough, earning him a shallow but painful gash across his stomach. He yelled out in pain and shock, backing away from the small mammal as he approached.
“What the fuck are you doing?!” he screamed, dodging again as the animal lunged, being missed by only a few inches.
“I am doing what my mistress has asked of me, I will succeed in destroying you, human, I have no other choice in the matter, for If I fail, I will not only remain in this body forever, but my beloved pack will have its pure bloodlines diluted by a filthy crossbred cur. This is something that I cannot, and WILL not sit by and watch. The sorceress Vesgha needs you dead so as she can feed off Itel’s misery, who am I to deny her that when she has promised to do so much for me?”
Erik took the opportunity to run, as fast as he could away from the skunk, who gave chase immediately, his shorter legs somehow managing to cover more distance a lot quicker than the human.
It was then that Erik realised he was in very real trouble.

Timaz watched in horror as the skunk began to attack, the words ringing through his ears as he turned and ran in the direction of the two men he had left behind. He knew that he had no chance against the skunk, and thought maybe, if he fetched them, something could be done about the skunk.
It did not take him long to find the two men, and as soon as he caught his breath he began to talk quickly, his words running into each other as he spoke.
“Ohgods Erikisintrouble Arath isnotreallyarath and…hestryingtokillhim”
Belris stared at the fox a moment.
“Hey, slow down buddy, I didn’t understand a word of that”
The fox growled, snapping at the winged man.
“If you don’t hurry up, Erik is going to DIE” he shouted, bolting back out the door, both men hot on his tail.
Belris managed to flank the fox, keeping up with him was an effort, but, being used to travel at high speed on foot, he did so, speaking when he had enough breath.
“What do you mean Erik is going to die?” he asked, worry seeping into his voice as he did so.
“I mean that the skunk is really the Doberman, she has somehow been transformed and she is trying to kill Erik, apparently someone is feeding off of Itel’s misery, and they think, if Erik is killed that Itel will be miserable once more, and therefore they will be able to feed off him again”
By the time the little fox had finished explaining everything, they had arrived at the place where Erik and the skunk were last seen.
Timaz looked around, his ears twitching, his nose inhaling the scent of the place.
He pointed to two sets of tracks then.
“They went this way” he said.
“It looks like Erik is trying to avoid Arath, he is running away, move!”
The fox took off at a run, the two men following as quickly as they could, though they were tired and out of breath.
When they finally found the man and the skunk, Belris moved between them, raising his wings high in the air to make himself more intimidating to the skunk.
“Cease this immediately” he bellowed at the small mammal, who did nothing of the sort, lunging at the large winged man and stabbing him in the thigh with the dagger, twisting it before he pulled it out, watching with satisfaction as the man cried out in pain, falling as he did so.
Itel moved quickly toward the fallen man, grabbing at the skunk as it tried once more to lunge itself at Erik.
Fearful for his life, and the life of his lovers, Erik spoke in a commanding tone.
“FREEZE” he yelled, looking surprised when the skunk ceased movement, its eyes the only part of its body still able to work on their own.
Timaz moved quickly, prying the dagger from the skunks hand and knocking him over, his teeth barred as a he released a feral growl at the black and white mammal.
Erik moved swiftly toward Belris, placing his hand on the wound to try to stop the blood, which poured freely from the other man’s leg.
He looked into the man’s eyes, before he spoke softly.
Belris closed his eyes, gritting his teeth at the odd sensation of skin and muscle quickly repairing itself, and, after a moment, he looked down at the bloodstained hole in his pants, the skin and muscle completely fixed.
Erik helped him up, a small smile on his face, before turning to the skunk.
“Itel, I have a very strong feeling that that is not Arath at all, but Kitsam’s murderer, so, I think it is entirely up to you what we do with the bastard…or, bitch, actually”
The magician glared at the skunk a moment before finally speaking.
“I want you to unfreeze him, Belris, please hold him if you will, we don’t want him escaping now do we?”
Belris moved, grabbing onto the skunk firmly before giving the okay to Erik.
“Return” he commanded, and they watched as the dog in skunk’s clothing began to struggle.
Itel moved toward him, his hands clenched into fists as he glared daggers at the animal.
“Why me?” he asked, anger radiating off him in waves.
“Why choose me, why kill Kitsam of all people, he had never done anything to anybody?”
A voice from the forest caught their attention, Belris turned his head, his breath catching in his throat as he did so.
“I think I can answer that question if you will let me”
Timaz growled low in his throat at the approach of the sorceress, his hair bristling and his tail lashing wildly, he lunged at her, shaking is head as he turned around, having gone right through her in the process.
“You fool of an animal” she hissed.
“Do you really think you can stop me with brute strength, you, who barely reaches my waist? Thanks to my bastard of a son, I have no physical form, but that will change all too soon. I have regained much of my magic, and I am almost ready to become solid, right now, I am feeding off that skunk that you hold, the misery and anger is seeping off him in waves, making me stronger every moment. But it is your essence, your misery that is the strongest, Itel, those with magic running through their veins have emotions much more intense, and it only took me a matter of months to regain much of my power through the death of your lover.” She stopped for a moment, regarding the skunk.
“You have served me well, in many ways, Irat, I will not fault you for being discovered and captured, in fact, I will now give you back your true form, and if you will fight for me now, I will restore your pack for you”
The skunk nodded, briefly and closed its eyes as a ball of red light formed in the hands of the sorceress, she chanted low, throwing the ball at the skunk, who began to grow, the coat shortening, the tail disappearing, the ears and face growing longer.
An ear splitting growl resounded as the skunk once more became the large Doberman bitch that she originally was, thrashing wildly in the grip of the winged man, who, after a moment had no choice but to let her go.
He shielded his body with his wings as the dog attacked, the heavy black shield knocking her with one great swoop, her teeth catching onto only a few feathers, which fell lightly to the ground.
The dog growled, her hackles raising as she turned her attention onto the fox, who yipped loudly, his own hackles raising and his tail lashing.
“I may only be small” he said fiercely.
“But my mother is a tiger, and I am a fierce fighter, even though I have my father’s stature. I believe I can beat you, and even if I don’t, I know I will have died to protect my brother and his family, and I know I will have made my mother proud of me for giving it a go. Do you REALLY want to try it? Do you really wish do dishonour your noble bloodline by being beaten by a half breed?”
The dog barred her teeth at him when she spoke.
“I think I am going to tear you apart now” she said, lunging at the fox, who dodged out of the way with great agility, snapping at her ear as he did so, catching and tearing it, causing her to yelp.
The sorceress watched with great amusement, her form becoming less and less transparent as the fight went on, and suddenly she drew in a deep breath, a triumphant smile on her face.
“It has been done” she said softly, before turning to Belris.
“And you, my dear boy, will now wish you had never been born”
Belris sighed, staring at the woman that brought him into the world.
“I am NOT your dear boy” he spat, his eyes cold.
“You ceased being my mother a long time ago, and, while I know it is not your fault, I have no love for you anymore, you cannot hurt me emotionally, because I care for you about as much as I care for the cur that murdered Itel’s lover”
She stared at him then.
“But my beloved son, I can change, I want to change…do you not remember when you were young, and I would care for you, when I would tell you all the old stories of knights and honour, of love and magic? Do you not want a loving mother once more?”
He glared at her then, his eyes narrowed and his hands on his hips.
“Do not try to trick me, woman, I know there can be no salvation for you, it is too late, even with the willing sacrifice of a life and soul for you, the darkness has taken you over completely. Do NOT dare pretend that you care about me, I have a loving mother, the tigress that took me from my dead father’s side, who cared for me like her own, alongside Timaz, that your bitch now fights, she loves me, and she cared for me, which is something that you never did, all you managed to do was curse me with these wings, make me an outcast from the rest of human society.”
All speech ceased as a loud yelp resounded around them, the humans looking on as the small fox managed to grip the Doberman around the throat with his needle like jaws, holding on for dear life until the animal dropped to her side on the ground below, her breath heaving, blood pouring from the many wounds the tiger fox had inflicted on her hide.
He released her, leaving her breathing, as he stood beside the winged man his bloodied muzzle curled into a threatening snarl.
“What will you do now, witch, your bodyguard is in no position to fight”
“I will just have to do the job myself” she replied, raising a ball of light and throwing it in the direction of Erik.
Erik watched carefully as the ball came barrelling toward him, shouting quickly.
“Dissolve” causing it to disappear just before it hit him. He glared at the sorceress, a smug smile on his face as he did so.
“You will have to do better than that to hurt me” he said, moving to stand beside Belris.
“And I think, if it is me you want to kill, that you should leave the rest of my friends out of this, let it be between you and me, Belris has done nothing wrong, and nor has Itel.”
The sorceress glared at him.
“You will have no such deal” she hissed.
“That boy robbed me of my powers, caused me to live as a shadow for many a year, and you expect me to do what? Forgive him? I think not, If I have my way, everything that he ever cared about will die, I have my physical form, it is no longer about that anymore, it is about revenge. I wish to kill everyone he knows, everyone he has ever loved, starting with you, because you are the most dangerous of the people he loves, and with you out of the way, I can deal with the others at my leisure”
“I will not let you touch them” he growled.
“And how exactly are you going to stop me when you are dead?” she asked, throwing another ball of magic in his direction.
“Absorb!” he commanded, taking the energy into himself, feeling it pumping through his veins, a power quite different to his own, it left him feeling uneasy, and he decided right then, not to try that one again.
“What’s the matter, Magician?” the sorceress taunted.
“Do you not like the taste of darkness? Such a pity, you would make a rather decent Dark Wizard or Necromancer” Another ball of magic was thrown in his direction.
“Deflect” he commanded, watching in horror as the bright yellow ball of light narrowly missed Itel’s head.
“Sorry ‘bout that.” He said quickly, turning his attention to the sorceress once more.
“You know, this is getting real old, real fast, you obviously cant throw those things fast enough to hit me, so why keep doing it?”
“You have a point” she said, before quickly muttering a chant.
Erik yelped, surprised as the earth opened beneath him, he felt himself falling, but could do nothing to stop it as he plummeted further and further down the deep chasm that the sorceress had created.
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Chapter 19 [Nov. 11th, 2004|05:25 pm]
The skunk scurried quickly through the forest, muttering profanities as he went, his oil drop eyes scanning for the sorceress that had given him his rodent form.
“Vesgha!” He called out.
“Come here, I have something I must discuss with you”
As if out of nowhere, the sorceress appeared, her form was even lighter than when the skunk last saw her. He tilted his head to the side, observing her.
“You must kill the other Lander, Irat; it is of great importance, I cannot hold the grasp on this form for much longer”
The skunk sneered, barring his teeth, causing the sorceress to laugh at the antics.
“Irat, you forget yourself, you are no longer the intimidating bitch you once were, you are a rodent now, and will be until that human is KILLED”
The skunk sighed, staring back in the direction he had come.
“I have a problem. The wizard knows something is wrong, he has been commenting that I am not myself, I do not think he trusts me”
The sorceress looked upon the skunk in mock pity.
“Oh, my poor darling Irat, whatever will you do?” she said, mocking the skunk.
“It is not the Magician that you have to make trust you, you fool, it is the other Lander. He does not know the skunk well, so you will have a better chance of building up a relationship with him, and it will be easier for you to lure him away from his lovers, and leave him dead for them both to see”
The skunk smiled slightly, his tail twitching in anticipation, causing him to stop and glare at the extra limb.
“I cannot wait to be back in my own true form, this THING on my rear is getting annoying. I cannot stand this for much longer, and I stink like an omnivore, I had to force myself to eat stinking vegetables earlier, I almost gagged at the taste, I probably would have if skunks were able to regurgitate their unwanted food”
The sorceress simply shook her head.
“You will be free of this body soon enough, and will return to your own form. The quicker you get the other Lander to trust you, the quicker it will happen. But you must get him to trust you first; it will be easier to kill him in your weakened state if he is not expecting it. For now, you will have to use brains rather than brute strength to do what you have to, you do not have sharp teeth and strong jaws to rend flesh anymore”
The skunk attempted a growl, the noise sounding a lot more like a snort, at the comment.
“How on earth do you expect me to kill something twice my size with no natural weapons? I am used to being a hunter, not prey!”
The sorceress shrugged.
“That is something you will have to figure out on your own, I suppose, and it isn’t as if you haven’t killed the man, or someone exactly like him before. You know how he fights and you know his weaknesses. I suggest you find yourself an easily concealable knife or something along those lines”
The skunk smiled, showing tiny needle-like teeth as he did so.
“You know, My Lady that might just work. All I really have to do is get the other Lander alone, and I will be set, you will have your miserable magicians, and your physical form, and I will have my pack restored to its true glory, that impure cur will be ripped of his title, and my brother will take his rightful place as alpha dog”
“But you must kill the other Lander FIRST” the sorceress reminded.
“I will start befriending the man in the morning” the skunk said, his ear twitching thoughtfully.
“Perhaps I will be able to find some kind of weapon in the cottage that I could use to do what I must, something small, a dagger, I think, will do nicely, or perhaps a straight razor, they are deadly and sharp, it would all be over so quickly too, and I could get on with my life as a dog once more. I shall go now, and prepare, you will have your physical form soon, My Lady, you know you can count on me”
The skunk turned then, moving quickly and with supreme agility out of the forest and into the valley below, the sorceress watching him leave.
“I think perhaps, I shall feed off your unhappiness while I am waiting, it would do me no good to become too weak to turn you back, after all”
She laughed then, muttering something under her breath and closing her eyes as the power of the animal’s misery began to seep into her, causing her to glow faintly before the light ebbed out.
The sorceress sighed.
“Nowhere near as good as the magician’s sadness, but I do not really have a choice I suppose. It will do until I can get him back, I suppose”
She sat then, staring out at the valley, feeling the ground beneath her for the first time in many years as her form started to become slightly more solid. Soon, she thought, she would be able to actually grasp things and manipulate objects again, and with that, would come a whole new type of magic to control. She smiled to herself, content for the moment to just feel the power flowing through her as she contemplated life, and what life would be like once she was whole again, what she would do to her son to make him pay for turning on him as he did.
“You just wait, Belris” she said softly to the darkening sky.
“When I get through with you, you will wish that I had never birthed you in the first place. I will kill everything you love, take away everything that you have ever cared about and I will leave you alone to rot in this valley all on your own”

Irat did not sleep that night, rather, the skunk sat quietly in the main room of the little stone cottage, staring out into the darkness and contemplating what he would do to make Erik trust him enough that he could get into such a position to end the man’s life. He stayed there, unmoving until the first hesitant rays of light peered over the mountains and started to climb through the windows into the still silent house.
It was not long before the first sounds of the tiger-fox, Timaz were heard as he went about his business, and after a while the little striped mammal made his way into the main room, nodding at the skunk as he walked past, busying himself with making breakfast.
It was not until the humans came down rubbing their eyes, yawning and looking all together quite ruffled that the skunk began to really take notice of things around him.
He moved toward the breakfast table, a smile on his face as he engaged in friendly conversation with the men, listening intently to what they had to say.
“You seem more yourself today, Arath” Itel commented after a while, before almost choking on his eggs.
The little skunk stood, thumping him on the back with a paw until he released an almighty belch, startling the little fox, who was busy frying bacon in a pan.
“You humans have no manners” Timaz said, his tone light, before moving over to the table and piling up the crunchy meat on everybody’s plates.
Itel had the courtesy to look apologetic before attacking his food with increased vigour, stuffing as much into his face as he could without looking too much like a pig.
The skunk regarded him a moment before speaking, a mischievous grin on his face as he did so.
“Did you work up an appetite last night, my friend? You seem to be awfully hungry all of a sudden”
The man froze, his mouth open wide, a piece of bacon stuck to his fork which was lifted halfway to the gaping maw.
“I can’t believe you just said that, you wicked, wicked skunk. But if you MUST know, yes, I did work up quite an appetite, thanks to these two charming men”
The skunk laughed, eyeing the two men who were doing their best to look anywhere but at the small mammal.
“Why, Erik” he said lightly.
“I do believe you are blushing, and what a lovely shade of red your skin goes when you do…in fact, I believe the embarrassment is radiating off you and making you glow”
Belris laughed then, his eyes crinkling into half moons as he, too studied his lover, who was trying to sink under the table.
“I do believe you are right Arath” he said.
“And isn’t he just so pretty when he glows? I have never seen him turn this colour before, though; I think it is the most attractive so far, what do you think Itel?”
“I think we should stop tormenting the poor man before he gets too embarrassed and explodes all over the breakfast table. I don’t like the idea of having to clean up a mess like that”
Erik mock glared at them all, his eyes narrowed to tiny slits.
“Again with the exploding! I am beginning to believe that perhaps it IS possible to explode if you can’t control your magic and you two are trying to keep it from me or something”
Belris tilted his head, shooting Erik a disarming grin.
“Would we do something like that, precious?”
Erik scowled at him, before turning his attention back to his food.
“You most certainly would, and you know it”
Belris laughed at that.
“You are probably right, but I assure you, you won’t explode, and once you have learned to grasp your magic ability, you will not have to worry about glowing anymore, you are just so full of power that you glow to release some of it, I think, like a vent. It is probably quite healthy, and you should be worried if you STOP glowing, because then maybe you WILL explode, as your magic has no way to release itself, now finish your breakfast, we have things to do today” he said quietly, before tucking into his own half-eaten plate of food.
The rest of the meal was finished in relative quiet, and, once they were all finished a commanded word from Erik had not only the dishes done, but everyone clean, dressed and ready for the day ahead.

The five companions made their way outside, the day had dawned bright and warm, which lightened the spirits of the three men considerably. The fox and the skunk held back as they watched the three humans frolic around the fields playing and shouting at one another as they did so.
The fox shook his head, his ears flicked forward as he watched them, the skunk remaining quiet and withdrawn.
“You would think they were still little boys, wouldn’t you, acting foolish like that. I guess that’s what happens when one falls in love.”
“Hmm, yes, I suppose so” the skunk replied, watching the humans with no real interest.
The fox sighed, waving his paw in the air and yipping loudly to get the attention of the humans, who all filed back to him, sheepish grins plastered on their faces.
“Now is not the time to play” the fox said sternly, eyeing each one of them in turn, pinning them with his gaze.
“You were going to give Erik Kitsam’s memories, not bounce around in the paddocks flattening the grass, now lets move back up to the clearing where you first took Erik to practise his magic, there is a decent path up there, and if anything happens it will not startle the other half breeds. I will remain here; I have some business to attend to”
The skunk looked from the men to the fox, and nodded once, before moving to stand beside Erik.
“With this whole memory thing, will he get the memories back all at once, or in bits and pieces?” he asked.
Belris shrugged a small smile on his face.
“I really don’t know” he replied.
“I have never had to actually perform the spell before, so I don’t know how, or even if it WILL work”
Erik sighed.
“I hope it does work, I really want to know what this other ‘me’ knew, even if they are not truly my own memories, I want to know if I loved Itel as much as I love him now. I NEED to know that”
Itel smiled then, a bright, sunshine smile that lit up the entire area.
“You love me?” he asked.
“In such a short time, you love me already?”
Belris and Erik both nodded.
“How could I not?” Erik replied, moving to embrace the other man.
“You love me so passionately, so completely, how could I not love you for that, if not for anything else”
Belris moved towards the two men then, wrapping his wings around them and holding them close.
“I love you both, too” he said softly.
“I think, perhaps that this was the way things were meant to be, the three of us together, two of us would not be quite whole, we draw our strength from each other, and can support each other much more as a group rather than a pair, and it feels right, doesn’t it? I think, perhaps, this is fate”
Itel sighed, his face sad for a moment.
“I don’t know whether this makes us stronger or weaker, because I know, I would not want to live without both of you by my side now, if one of you were to leave, or were to be…killed, I do not think I could bear it”
Belris held him tighter then, placing a soft kiss on the top of his head.
“But if one of us were to go, you would have the other to support you, to help you through it, and all would be well, with time, the disaster that befell you last time would not happen again, because you would have the love and support you needed to go on. This is what makes me think that we were meant to all find each other, Itel, don’t you see?”
Itel thought about that a moment, absently stroking the soft feathers of Belris’ wing as he did so, making the man twitch slightly at the tickling sensation.
“Yes, I think I do see what you mean, Belris, I think, perhaps, if you were there for me when Kitsam….well, when what happened to Kitsam happened, that maybe things would have been better, maybe the whole situation with the salt would have never happened, and perhaps, things would have been a lot different to the way they are now, many creatures that are no longer would still be with us, and I know it is selfish of me to say it, but I am glad it happened this way, I am glad you brought Erik from wherever he came from, I am glad he is here with us now”
The skunk cleared his throat, causing the three men to turn to face him. He smiled briefly before speaking.
“I hate to break this up, but, I think, perhaps, we should get going, and get this done, I mean, the quicker the better, don’t you think?”
The three men agreed, and continued their trek up the mountain path, chatting quietly amongst themselves as they did so.

When they finally reached the top, they sat a while to catch their breath, the path, though relatively clear, with useful railings along the side, was still steep, and it took a lot out of them to walk uphill for as long as they had. Belris smiled at the two men, as he watched them, and without any warning, stood, launching himself into the air with a few powerful strokes of his massive wings, and, airborne, flew himself all the way back down the mountain, leaving Erik, Itel and Arath to contemplate exactly what he was doing.
It was not long before the winged man returned, swooping magnificently down and landing on his backside, looking sheepish, a large basket in his lap.
“I um, sort of forgot a few important things in the hurry to get up here” he explained, putting the basket down beside him and standing up, brushing the dirt and the few leaves that clung to him, off his pants.
“Now, I think we should probably get this thing done, and then we can all have lunch, which Timaz has so nicely prepared for us all”
Erik smiled, eyeing the basket of food greedily.
“Why don’t we eat now, and do whatever it is you are going to do after?” he asked, snatching at the basket, which Belris quickly put out of reach.
“Well, first of all, because you only just had breakfast, and second of all, because I don’t know exactly how this is going to effect you, and I would rather you be doing this on an empty stomach if it is going to make you feel ill”
Erik nodded, looking at the basket longingly, and pouting just a little.
“Will it take long?” he asked.
“I am kind of hungry again”
Itel laughed.
“You are always hungry, aren’t you? For one thing or another”
“So what if I am? Actually, I don’t think I am really hungry, I think I just need to be doing something, otherwise I get bored, do you know what I mean?”
Belris nodded.
“Yes, I understand what you mean, I think I will try to keep you occupied in one way or another from now on, it might make life a little easier. This shouldn’t take long, and then you can do whatever you like once it has been done, now don’t go anywhere, I have to set a couple of things up, I cannot do magic without crystals anymore, most of mine was taken when my mother was vanquished, I do have enough to perform this though, with a little help from these” He produced four beautifully sculpted gems, each about the size of a fist, which were crafted into four different animal shapes.
Erik stared at them, awed by their beauty.
“Can I touch them?” he asked, his eyes wide as Belris tossed them, to him carefully, one by one and he inspected them, marvelling at the detail that had gone into each before carefully handing them back to the winged man.
Belris smiled softly, winking at Erik before he spoke.
“Okay, now, I want you right over here, Erik, sit on the ground in front of me, and stay as still as you can, try not to distract me if you can help it, I am going to place these four crystals around you, and then I will begin”
Erik nodded as he moved to where Belris wanted him, Itel and Arath moving out of the way to watch with interest as Belris went about his business, placing stones here and there and chanting in a low voice as he did so. All four creatures were surprised to see the stones begin to glow, and were even more surprised when they began to move.
The crystal in front of Erik, which was shaped like a horse, tossed its head, trotting on the spot, the one behind him, a bird, flapped its wings before settling down to preen it’s feathers, the other two, an otter and a racoon stood where they were, tilting their heads and cleaning themselves, regarding him with curious eyes.
Erik remained as still as he could throughout the process, staring at the miniature horse figurine in front of him, as it pranced and showed off on the spot, its head bowed regally into its chest as it high stepped, and then, it was motionless, a blinding light shooting from it and engulfing him. He was vaguely aware that the other three were doing the same thing, and then the memories came. Memories of a young boy, running to a lady that looked exactly like his mother, but was not, memories of a man that looked like his father did, memories of children he had known as he was growing up, past lovers, friends, all the same, but entirely different, and then the memories of Itel appeared, images of him sneaking away from the human village to the castle for a few stolen moments with the man, of sneaking out again before first light, memories of how Itel had held him when his mother had died, how he had discovered he was more powerful even than the magician he had grown to love, memories of training, of being unable to grasp his magic power, of almost destroying Itel in the process, memories of a vow he made to himself never to practise again after that. Images of Itel trying to get him to use his talent, and then the acceptance that the accident had scared him so deeply that he would not. All this came to him in a matter of moments, and eventually, the final, most terrifying image came to him, the image of his own death at the jaws of a large red and rust Doberman bitch.
The whole experience would have lasted about three heartbeats, but it was so exhausting that when he finally came out of it, he collapsed, exhausted on the soft earth below him, panting heavily.
Belris and Itel moved toward him, Itel helping him sit up and letting him lean against him while Belris crouched in front of him, clicking his fingers to get his attention.
“Hey, buddy, come on, don’t pass out on us, look here, look here, atta boy.” He said, as Erik finally focussed on him.
“Don’t ever do that again” Erik said groggily.
“God my head hurts, oh, yeah, and it worked by the way” He moved to stand, failing miserably and resting his head against Itel, who stroked his hair, whispering soothing words to him.
Belris smiled kindly, plopping down beside the two men, and grasping Erik’s hand in his own.
“Are you okay now?” he asked softly, his eyes searching Erik’s as he did so.
“I think so” He replied.
“It was just a bit of a shock, you know, so many memories, most of them of people who look and act very similarly to their counterparts in the real world, in fact, the only people I cannot place are you two…even some of the animals are familiar, but are in their more simple forms in the world that I came from, and everybody’s name differs, it is strange. And Itel, I am NOT Kitsam, as you thought I might be, but I now know who murdered him”
Itel sighed, wrapping his arms protectively around Erik.
“I think, deep down I knew that to be true, but tell me, do you recognise who it was that killed him?”
Erik shook his head.
“Yes and no” he said.
“I recognise her as a dog I worked with in an animal shelter once, she bit me rather hard on the leg, but here, no, I don’t know her, she is a Doberman, and she walks on her hind legs like Timaz and Arath do, her ears are cropped and her tail is docked, and she is not black, but red. Do any of you know her?”
Arath shook his head, moving to sit by the three men.
“I do not know of her, or of any Dobermans in this area, but then, I am not exactly friendly with dogs, as I would be considered a tasty snack to their packs”
Erik laughed weakly.
“It seems like I…or rather, Kitsam was sort of the same deal, but the thing that doesn’t make sense is, this dog seemed to seek me out from everyone else, she seemed to be hunting me, she lured me out, stalked me, herded me away from anywhere where someone familiar would find me, and only then did she kill me. I could probably take you to Kitsam’s remains if it is your custom to bury and remember your dead in such a way.”
Itel nodded.
“If you could, please, I think, perhaps it will give me some kind of closure if I have a chance to say goodbye to him, if you know what I mean, but for right now, I think you need to rest and have something to eat, we can deal with everything tomorrow when you are feeling better.”
Belris nodded his agreement, wandering off and returning with the basket of food, they ate quietly, the winged man and the magician watching Erik carefully for any signs that he was getting better or worse, and, once they were confident that it was, indeed, just a shock and that he was over it, all four of them made their way slowly down the mountain path and back to the little cottage surrounded by the intimidating stone wall.
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Chapter Eighteen [Nov. 11th, 2004|11:17 am]
The journey home was pleasant and carefree, the men, horses and the fox all discussing trivial things and not much caring at the moment that the salt was still scattered about their world, because they knew, now it had stopped, it could be fixed. The men did not even mind the fact that now, because they were drenched, riding was almost impossible without discomfort. At the prompting of Timaz, and not without a little protest, they had removed their clothes, draping them over their saddles, and now, walked, naked through the path that Erik had created not hours before, their modesty forgotten now that nakedness was essential to their comfort.
The horses chatted amongst themselves of things somewhat unrelated to the humans and the fox, talk of new and old grazing areas being mentioned and a few remarks on the old days when the wasteland was a great paddock from which they had been expelled when the salt killed all the grass.
Erik listened for a while, making polite comments every now and then, when something triggered his memory.
“Oh! The sheep!” he exclaimed, his eyes going wide.
“If you horses lived in the wasteland when it was a field, why did the sheep not go with you when you evacuated?”
Riada sighed, his eyes sad as he spoke.
“We evacuated as soon as the salt hit the plains, friend, they wished to wait it out to see if things would get better, and by the time that things got as bad as they did, all intelligence that they had before was lost to them, they became like the animals you described from tales of your own world, unintelligent. It is an unfortunate incident, but sheep are really such stubborn creatures, they just will not listen to reason, and it was that pigheadedness that made them perish. It is kinder this way though, they would not have regained their intelligence, and their entire lines would have remained simple, it is nature’s way I suppose, and one never interferes with nature, if one can help it”
Erik nodded sadly.
“Where I come from, I hate to say, I am one of those people that meddles with nature. I try to help animals, no matter what; I try to give them a fighting chance whenever I can. I aid them if they need it, whether they want it or not. It is the way we humans are”
Riada smiled then, nudging the man affectionately, a soft chuckle escaping his velveteen maw.
“I think” he said gently.
“That all humans are like that. Belris here interfered with us, more or less forcing us to come with him to the valley when the salt started coming, we were worried that the half breeds would not accept us, because we did not accept them when things were good, but they opened up their fields, and in return we allowed them to sit upon our backs, so as to make them travel faster, and without getting tired. It was no problem to us, for we like to run, and Belris has said we may stay there now, if we like. I think I would like that very much indeed, it is safer there, the carnivorous half breeds do not hunt animals of intelligence like some of the pure bloods do, we are safer here, and we may prosper in relative peace.”
Erik stared at the stallion, horrified.
“The animals eat each other here? That is horrible!”
Belris wrapped an arm around the smaller man, placing a soft kiss on his temple.
“No, it is the way of life.” He said softly.
“Just as the unintelligent animals of your world hunt and kill each other, so too, do the animals of intelligence here. The only difference between the two is that one type of animal is smarter than the other, there are rules involved here, Mother Nature gave them the guidelines, and different clans created cultures from those guidelines. For instance, many of the wolf packs will not consider a pup grown until he has killed an elk or deer and brought it home for the clan. Some clans such as the lion and hyena clans are rivals, and will fight each other to the death, going so far as to kill and eat the other’s young to show dominance. It is just the way life works, do not think the animals you meet any less instinctual or bound by natures rules as those that you have met in your own world, Erik, do not hold them to higher standards because they can think and talk, they are animals, just as we are humans, isn’t that right Riada”
Riada bobbed his head in assent, his muzzle contacting lightly with Erik’s shoulder.
“Yes, that is right, I have heard the stories from your world, you have told me of the horses there, and we are not so much different from them, we have more culture possibly, but the instincts are the same; we have just learned to curb some of the fears that the less intelligent horses of your world have. We know that the humans and animals that wish to sit on our backs will not hurt us because we remember that they have showed us no intent to hurt us, and have in fact helped us, however, if a clan of wolves were to come running at us, we would still run away in a wild panic, much like the horses of your world, we are no different”
Erik nodded slowly.
“I never really thought about it like that, but I guess it does make sense, I should not be trying to place human values on creatures that most certainly are not human, you are horses, Timaz is a fox, you will have completely different ways to those of men, but this IS going to take some getting used to I think, it is a big change for me to deal with more than one highly intelligent species, and to try to not hold them to the standards of humans, if you know what I mean”
The horse whuffled his understanding, before taking off at an easy trot as the rain started to fall once more.
Belris sighed, raising his wings above his head and spreading them out to shield both him and the other two men from the majority of the rain, walking slowly towards the cottage, the two men pressed close to him as he moved.
Itel smiled as he watched Belris’ expression, wrapping an arm around his waist.
“You don’t like the rain, do you/” he asked softly.
Belris shook his head, glaring at the weather as he walked.
“I know it’s needed, and I don’t mind it when I am inside by the fire where it is warm and dry, but being stuck out in it is not exactly the best way I can think of to spend my afternoon”
Erik looked up at Belris, a wicked smile on his face as he did so.
“Well, my dear ones, we are almost home, perhaps we can find SOMETHING to do when we get there that is more enjoyable than standing around in the rain”
Belris laughed moving tilting his wing ever so slightly, so that the rain that fell now poured itself off the ebon surface and landed directly on top of the smaller man’s head. He released a startled shriek, slapping at his lover as he did so.
“What was THAT for?” he squawked.
Belris shrugged, displaying an impish grin.
“Oh, no real reason, I just thought that perhaps it would get your mind off of your insatiable lust for a few moments” he replied.
Erik pouted before he moved as close as he could to the winged man, casually draping an arm around his back.
“But you like my insatiable lust, it makes life interesting, and fun, and stuff, doesn’t it?”
Itel laughed, shaking his head.
“You two are horrible, but I have to admit, I do quite like you both just the way you are, and yes, your appetite for all things….romantic does make things rather interesting. I find it quite amusing that it was your lust and not your magic that saved this planet”
Erik grinned, his hand moving slowly downward to grab at Belris’ backside. Belris simply ignored the man’s attentions.
“See, you have to love my lust, it saved the planet” he said, poking his tongue out at the winged man.
“You’d better put that away or find a good use for it” he said calmly, before quickening his pace, the valley now in sight, the horses and the fox long since gone to play in the fields.
Whooping playfully, Erik took off at a run down the path toward the house, the other two men hot on his heels as he moved.
The whooshing sound of Belris’ wings as he lifted himself skyward was heard and then, the figure of the man, pale and smooth like carved ivory, suspended by the deepest ebon wings a beautiful contrast against the grey sky.
Both Erik and Itel stopped side by side to appreciate the view, before they moved off once more, eager to get into the house and out of the rain, that was beginning to chill their naked flesh.

When they finally arrived, Arath was waiting for them, his oil drop eyes registering surprise at their nudity. He tilted his head in silent question, causing Itel to laugh.
“We were not going to walk all the way home in wet clothes, it would have caused much discomfort”
The skunk nodded briefly, before he spoke.
“Well, you are all wet now, and are likely to get ill if you do not get yourselves warm and dry immediately, you humans get sick so easily after all”
Itel regarded him a moment, his eyes narrowed.
“Are you okay, Arath?” he asked.
Arath nodded.
“I am fine, just a little tired, and I miss the castle. I mean, the valley is pretty and all, but there is nothing quite like ones own bed and familiar surroundings” he replied.
Itel smiled kindly.
“Yes, I agree, but I do not wish to leave this place quite yet, not before a few things are sorted out. You, of course, may do as you please. You have not seemed yourself all day, and it worries me. If you wish to go back to the castle, you may do so”
The skunk shook his head a small smile tilting his muzzle.
“No, I will stay here, I am rather interested in how things turn out, and I would like to get to know Belris and Erik a little better, since, knowing you, you will be brining them back with you, if they will come”
Itel watched him a moment, before finally nodding.
“Yes, you are probably correct in that assumption, If I can convince them to come with me, I will”
The skunk smiled.
“I think I find it quite amusing that you lost one lover, and have now gained two. Now, I must be off, I want to explore the forest a little before it gets dark and the nocturnal beasts come out to hunt” he said quietly before trotting out the door and closing it behind him.
Ital tilted his head, regarding the closed door a moment before turning back to his two companions.
“There is something not quite right with him” he said finally.
“I meant it when I said he was not himself, he is acting completely differently to the way he has always acted, and it worries me. He cant still be worried about the loss of the crystal, for we have recovered it, and he only started acting strange this morning, as far as I can tell. Something is going on.”
Belris moved toward the man, and, standing behind him, wrapped his arms around his waist, resting his head on his shoulder and kissing his neck lightly.
“You worry too much, Itel, he is probably just feeling a little out of place amongst the half breeds, most pure bloods do get a little nervous, they have, after all, been raised to hate anything that is not pure, it must be a shock for him to now understand that they are just like any other creature he has ever met, only their parents were of different species. Now stop worrying and let us put this rainy afternoon to good use, before Erik mauls us where we stand”
Erik laughed, moving toward them, watching them with a wicked gleam in his eyes.
“You know, the two of you all wet and naked the way you are is very appealing indeed, I would not mind mauling you on the spot, actually.”
Belris arched an eyebrow at his lover, moving out of the embrace he held with Itel to waggle his finger in Erik’s face.
“You, my dear, can wait until we are up inside the bedroom. We wouldn’t want to have Timaz wander in and see us in the act now, would we?”
Erik shrugged, moving to fit between both men.
“I don’t know as I would mind all that much, he’s seen us in just about every other compromising position he could have, and HE doesn’t seem to mind”
Belris laughed, kissing Erik lightly on the top of the head.
“But I do, he is like a brother to me, but I still do not feel quite right with him seeing certain things, I am human after all”
“Then perhaps we should stop with the talk and get ourselves upstairs, I think I could use a sandwich right about now”
Itel tilted his head to the side, a little confused.
“I thought you wanted to…oh…I understand now” he said, blushing all the way to his toes, before following the two men who were already moving rather quickly toward the bedroom.
He smiled as he caught up with them, stepping into the room and embracing them in a fierce hug before turning and closing the door behind them, effectively shutting out the rest of the world.
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Chapter seventeen [Nov. 10th, 2004|09:58 pm]
The three humans awoke the next morning to the excited yips of Timaz, the tiger fox. The little animal shook each in turn, his eyes wide as he paced the room.
“Up, up, up, you lazy creatures” he snapped, his tail lashing as he nipped at Belris’ wing playfully.
“There is something you all must see”
Itel yawned expansively, opening one eye and staring at the vulpine for a few moments before curling up once more, pulling Belris’ wing over the top of him.
“Cant it wait until a little later?” he asked.
Timaz yiffed at him, his paws on his hips as he did so.
“Get your fat and lazy body out of the bed this instant and come see, I think, perhaps, that you will be pleasantly surprised”
Erik, only just waking up, rolled, realising a moment too late that he was on the very edge of the bed, and crashing to the floor, sat up, a dazed expression on his face.
When he spotted the small vulpine he blushed furiously, his hands moving to cover his exposed privates from view.
The small fox waved a paw at him, a dismissive gesture.
“Oh don’t be silly, like I am interested in staring at what you have there! It’d make as much sense as you staring at a sheep”
“Actually, that’s kind of funny, because when I was doing my animal attending class, we had to feel a ram’s testicles so we knew what to look for in a decent breeding animal….” He stopped, looking around with a sheepish grin on his face.
“And that is entirely unimportant to the task at hand, so I am just going to shut up and get dressed”
The remaining two men and the fox all burst out laughing, much to Erik’s annoyance. Once they had composed themselves, Timaz spoke once more.
“I am giving you three five minutes before I am dragging you outside, clothes or none, and while I know that probably wont bother YOU, Belris, these other two seem to be a little more modest, so I suggest you let them dress and don’t try to paw them. I will go fetch the horses. Should I find your little skunk friend, Itel?”
Itel thought for a moment before he replied.
“If it is as important as you say, then perhaps you should. Now tell me, will that take you longer than five minutes?” he asked.
The fox yipped at him, swatting him on the naked behind before he turned and stalked out the door.
Erik regarded his pants for a moment, noticing the grass stains and the unpleasant smell coming from them after having worn them a few days. He wrinkled his nose, shaking them and holding them out at arms length before looking around at the rather dishevelled appearance of his two bed mates.
“Clean” he commanded, and within a few moments the three of them were spotless and well groomed, their clothes neatly pressed and fresh-smelling once more. He smiled at Belris and Itel, their shocked faces.
“What? It saves time, doesn’t it?”
Itel simply nodded, pulling on his shirt and buttoning it in silence.
Belris smiled devilishly moving up behind the man while he was preoccupied, wrapping him in his arms and kissing him softly on the neck.
“Don’t worry about Erik; he just wants to show off. I bet you could do that too if you tried”
Itel smiled faintly.
“I don’t mind Erik playing; it was just a bit of a shock to see how easily he works his magic. I probably could do something similar, but it would take a lot of energy, and thanks to you two and last night, I don’t have anything near the kind of reserves I would need”
Erik chuckled, moving, still naked toward the two half-dressed men, placing a gentle kiss on each of their lips before he spoke.
“We will have to see what we can do about increasing your reserves then, because I quite enjoyed our nocturnal activities. It is a pity we do not have enough time to do that again right now…or do we?”
Belris shook his head.
“Regretfully, no, we don’t, Timaz will be wandering back in here at any moment if we are not out soon, and while I don’t mind particularly if he sees me naked, I DO mind if he sees us all in the act, if you get my meaning”
Erik sighed, moving over to begin dressing, when an idea hit him.
“I want to try something” he announced.
“But I thought I would ask you first, since you two know a lot more about magic than I do”
The two men regarded him with interest.
“If I were to command time to stop, do you think it would listen to me?”
Belris stared at him, his mouth opening and shutting like a drowning fish, his eyes wide.
“Do you really think it’s a good idea to play with time? What if you stop it and cant start it again? What if, by stopping time, we all end up frozen to the spot, yourself included?”
Erik shook his head.
“Perhaps time is the wrong word, what I mean is…what if I were to command nature to freeze itself, it would effectively stop the spread of the salt, would it not?”
Itel stared at Erik in stunned silence for a moment, shaking his head in disbelief of what he was saying.
“Erik…why command nature herself; why not just command the salt?”
Erik lowered his eyes, a cheeky half smile forming on his face.
“Actually, that never occurred to me at all”
Timaz chose that time to return, a rather annoyed expression on his face.
“At least you are all dressed. Now get MOVING, we don’t have time to stand around all day”
Erik laughed.
“Would you like me to make time more considerate, Timaz?” he asked, batting his eyelids at the striped fennec fox.
Timaz nipped at him, shoving him forcefully in the direction of the door.
“Out NOW, all of you, move, the horses are ready and waiting and you know how Riada hates to stand around for any period of time”
Looking a little guilty, the three men filed out of the room, the irate fennec fox snapping at their heels all the way.
As they made their way outside the stone wall that surrounded the cottage, Riada, and Isrira greeted the three men and the fox, while Arath stood with another three horses, speaking quietly with them.
Riada nudged Belris with his warm, velvet muzzle, shaking his large hammer of a head, causing the fine silken tendrils of his mane to cascade over his neck like a waterfall.
“I see you are making yourself a herd, Belris, I am proud of you” He said, laughter in his voice.
Isrira moved beside him, using the weight of his body to knock the other horse off balance slightly.
“Remember what he said last time about you behaving, brother, I would hate to see you gelded. No, actually, I wouldn’t, it would mean that I would have the mares all to myself”
Riada snorted indignantly, whickering shrilly at his brother.
“You wicked mule of a creature, wishing ill of your only full brother just so you could sire all the foals in this vale, I should…I should have you dipped in honey so the flies could bite you all day long, and I would, If I were as cruel as you. Geld me indeed, then all of the foals would be flat-footed, bandy legged, large eared, sway backed and buck-toothed”
Belris laughed, petting each stallion on the neck in turn.
“Okay now, that’s enough boys, we apparently have something to see, so why don’t we introduce Erik and Itel here to the ladies that you so kindly brought with you”
Riada raised his head, pulling it to his chest and he high stepped proudly toward the three mares, showing off his fluid gait as he did so, and at that moment, all could see that he was grace personified in equine form, not that they would tell him that, of course.
The three mares, a little grey filly, a paint mare in her prime, and a slightly older blue roan all regarded them with interest.
The blue moved slowly toward Belris, burying her soft grey muzzle in his neck as she did so, and spoke in a soft, motherly voice.
“It is so nice to see you again, Belris, why is it that you have stopped visiting the herd, do you not love us anymore, or have you been busy? We would so like to see more of you”
He smiled at her, stroking her long, graceful neck and patting her on her perfectly chiselled and delicately dished muzzle.
“I am sorry Hiyarith” he said softly, wrapping his arms around her powerful neck and hugging her tight.
“I have been preoccupied with the otherlander here, the small one, Erik”
Untangling herself from the embrace of the winged man, the elderly mare turned her gaze on Erik, her gentle brown eyes locking with his as she lowered her head and bowed to him.
“It is a pleasure to meet you” she said softly her ears flicking forward with interest.
“And who is the other one, I have already met Arath, he is a pleasant fellow”
Itel smiled at the mare, bowing at her before greeting her in the formal equine tongue.
“Frithaes Marli-rah” he said quietly, causing the mare to back up a little, and toss her head in surprise.
She stared at Belris a moment, before focussing her attention back on Itel.
“Frithaes il mi, Hlessi-rah” she replied, causing both Erik and Belris to stare in amazement at the two creatures.
Hiyarith bobbed her head at the two astounded men before she spoke.
“Do not be alarmed, it has been a long time since I have met a man that can speak the language of the equine, it surprised me a little, but it is no great thing” she said to them, her gentle gaze eyeing the green vegetation beneath her feet.
She lowered her head, her blunt teeth tearing at the very tips of the foliage, taking a mouthful before she slowly ambled off toward the other two mares.
“I will introduce you to the others” she said simply.
“This” She said, motioning toward the paint mare with her dainty dial.
“Is Sairithdil. She will be your mount for the day, Arath”
The patch coat mare lowered her head respectfully to the skunk, her kind eyes twinkling with delight as he ran a gentle hand through her well kept mane.
“And this is my daughter, Ailasu, who will be your mount, Timaz. Be easy with her, this is her first time with a rider on her back”
Timaz smiled kindly at the nervous filly, his hand slowly reaching out to stroke the soft velvet of her muzzle. She whickered shyly, turning her head as he did so and he laughed.
“Why so shy?” he asked her quietly.
“You know me well enough, I have spoken to you and played with you in the fields many a time, have I not, little one?”
The filly whickered, pawing at the earth nervously before she spoke.
“That is the problem, Timaz, what if I accidentally make you fall and you hurt yourself, what if I am a bad mount?”
The fox smiled, slapping the horse on the back affectionately.
“The only way I am going to hurt myself is if I am stupid enough to fall off, and hopefully that won’t happen, since I pride myself as being one of the better riders in these parts”
The little filly nickered, an amused sound as she pranced on the spot, tossing her head in anticipation of the ride.
“Atta girl, and don’t you worry about being a bad mount, with a gait like that, you’ll be just fine’
Riada snorted, scraping a large, powerful hoof against the ground, churning up the earth as he did so.
“Well, now that everyone has been formally introduced, can we GO already, I am bored and want to run, and Belris’ fine mount here, I am sure, wants to feel real power beneath him at least once more”
Erik glared at the stallion, slapping him on the rump before pulling himself into the saddle and waiting as everyone else mounted.
He noticed that Isrira carried Itel, and when he looked around, found Belris mounted on Hiyarith, the elderly mare tossing her head, just as eager as the rest to begin their run.
Once all were mounted, all eyes were on Timaz, who smiled before pointing Ailasu in the direction of the Pure Blood’s town, and all five horses and riders were off at an alarming rate over the fields, the stallions showing off as they went on ahead of the mares, and the mares watching them with knowing glances.
Ailasu moved to run beside her mother, her deep, kind eyes looking on with confusion.
“Mother, why do the males act like such fools?” she asked, a single foxy ear flicked back in displeasure.
Hiyarith snorted, tossing her head slightly as she did so, a whicker of a laugh floating through the air at the question.
“Because stallions are really just overgrown colts, my loved one, then never truly grow up, their games just become bigger, their races longer, the need to impress more great. We let them play like this because we know, at the end of the day, the play makes them stronger, and the stronger the stallion, the safer the herd is from other stallions who would try to thieve us as their own”
The little filly snorted in disgust.
“I think I would prefer a nice sensible gelding” she muttered, causing both Timaz and Hiyarith to laugh themselves silly.
“But my dear” Timaz said kindly.
“However would you bear foals to a gelding? I hate to say it, but stallions are a necessary part of herd life, whether one likes it or not”
The little filly tossed her head, both ears pinning flat to her skull.
“Its hardly fair though, is it?” she asked.
“You would miss them if they were not here” Timaz stated, and then they fell silent as the horses began to traverse the thick underbrush of the forest.

Going was tough for a while, the larger stallions finding it difficult to clear a path through the tangled creepers and vines, but things soon changed when Erik spoke up.
“You know, things would be a lot easier if we had a path through the forest, do you think it would be a good idea if I…”
Belris shook his head, laughing loudly.
“I am such a fool, I don’t know why I didn’t even…probably because I have wings, and don’t often travel through the forest itself…would you please clear a path if you can Erik?”
Erik smiled, closing his eyes and focusing his will on forest, in a commanding tone he spoke.
Before them, a paved path appeared, lined with creepers, the trees curving to form a shaded arch above them, some of which were flowering, scattering a few blossoms on the newly cleared area.
“Would something like this do?” he asked. A cheeky grin appearing on his face as he tried to contain his laughter at the shocked expressions on the horses faces.
“You are worse than a stallion with your showing off” Ailasu snorted, trotting on ahead of them all.
Riada nipped at her flank as she passed him, his tail lashing in amusement his ears flicking forward. She raised her off hind in mild threat, and, knowing that if he pushed her too far, her mother would come to her aid, he withdrew to walk beside Isrira.
“She will make a great dam some day” he said softly, so as the filly would not hear him.
“A spirit like that in a filly makes a fine, protective mother, and similar offspring, I do hope she drops a nice colt as her first, in time I think he would be able to take over and rule a herd like this one”
Isrira smiled, bobbing his head in assent.
“Yes, he certainly could, I actually think that she will perhaps follow in her mothers hoof prints and become lead mare one day, wont that be grand?”
Riada snorted, his ears flicking back as he contemplated the statement.
“I would have my ears chewed off! I think not, dear brother, let her become a brood mare, perhaps high in the ranking, but I dread to think what would become of a stallion who had her as his lead”
“You do not give her enough credit, she is young, she will grow, and mature, she will grow to like colts and stallions, or at least tolerate us, and she is strong enough to control any horse that becomes a problem. Now hush up, Timaz has stopped”
As the two stallions and their riders caught up with the rest of the pack, all fell silent.
The wastelands that were once covered in salt were beginning to show signs of life once more.
The salt still remained, but it was greatly diminished, and a few weak blades of grass had begun to push through the contaminated soil, still yellow and feeble, but there nonetheless.
Belris smiled, dismounting and wrapping his arms around Hiyarith’s strong neck, placing a kiss in her muzzle as he did so.
“Its all going back to normal” he said, dancing around as he helped the others dismount.
“I think everything is going to be okay!”
Riada snorted joyfully, cantering in a tight circle around the travellers before nudging Itel affectionately in the back, making him almost lose his balance.
“Well, If I had known all you needed was THAT to stop this salt, I would have offered Belris to you a long time ago” he said to the man, who swatted at him playfully.
“Leave him alone, Riada” Belris warned.
“He is a powerful magician, after all, you wouldn’t want him to turn you into a flea or something would you?”
The stallion tossed his head, turning his back on the winged man and showing him his well rounded rump.
“And if you don’t let me have my fun, I will ask him to turn you into a much less pretty version of this.” His tail lashed playfully at Belris’ face.
“What do you mean TURN him into one, dear brother?” Isrira added.
“It is a little difficult to turn someone into something when they already ARE that thing, don’t you think”
Erik laughed at Belris’ shocked expression, wrapping an arm around him gently and bringing him in for a tender kiss, before motioning for Itel to join them.
Itel complied, standing on the other side of the winged man, sighing contentedly as a soft black wing wrapped around him.
“You know” he said after a while.
“Just because the salt has stopped moving forward, does not necessarily mean that it is going to move back, I think we may have a lot of work to do before everything is as it was, and I think it is something that I should do most of myself, to make right the wrong I caused”
“It will not be easy” Belris stated.
“It could take years of work before things are as they should be, with one man working on his own. I think, perhaps you should let us help, this was not entirely your fault, most of the blame, I think, should land on the man that murdered, or abducted your lover, not you yourself, for you could not help what happened”
“Yes, perhaps you are right” Itel said, looking up at the sky, and the storm clouds that had appeared during their ride out. The air was pregnant with rain, and all three men watched as somewhere on the horizon thunder cracked like a whip, lighting up the darkening sky.
Timaz took the opportunity to run out onto the wasteland, yipping playfully at the sky as the first few drops of rain fell. The horses soon followed, leaving the three men and the skunk to watch from the rise. The men sat together, not minding the rain, which fell heavily now, pouring down upon them and plastering their clothes to their skin, but, after a while, Arath came toward them, excusing himself and making his way back down the path, leaving them to contemplate the rain, which washed away much of the salt and cleansed the land of the plague and their future together in relative quiet as the horses and the tiger fox played.
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Chapter 16 [Nov. 10th, 2004|12:46 pm]
The woman sat in the shadows watching the three men with interest, the scowl on her face telling all that she was displeased with what she saw. As the last few rays of light shimmered through the trees, and hit her translucent form, she stood, moving slowly out of the edge of the forest and into the valley proper, her bright green eyes surveying the lands before she spoke.
“Irat!” She barked her hands on her hips as she glared in the direction that the three men had departed from.
A rather large red Doberman moved towards her, the animal’s head was held high as she regarded the woman.
“Yes my lady?” she asked, her voice betraying her boredom.
“The magician is happy” the woman said softly, her tone dangerous.
“And you know what that means, don’t you Irat?”
Irat sighed, her arms crossed as she regarded the human.
“I suppose it means I am going to have to do something about it, My Lady, but I ask you first, why do you not find someone less dangerous to feed off, you can see that his misery has disastrous effects to the rest of the world, what with all the salt”
The woman shook her head.
“It is an unfortunate consequence, but will be resolved when the magician is dead, and I am at my full power” she replied.
“Now, I want you to kill this otherlander, Erik, if you succeed in doing that, not only will I be able to feed off the magician, but my useless cur of a boy will also suffer, and wont that be lovely”
“How exactly do you expect me to do that, the community is made up of half breeds, a skunk and three humans, a bitch with a pedigree such as mine will stick out like an inflamed dew claw”
The sorceress simply smiled, causing the dog to tilt her head to the side in confusion.
“I will deal with that later, what I want you to do right now is seduce that skunk you mentioned, bring him out of the valley and into the forest”
The Doberman’s muzzle wrinkled, exposing fine white teeth, her ears flattening to her scull.
“You expect me to rut with a RODENT? How DARE you even consider such a thing! My line is one of the purest in existence…”
“I don’t want you to rut with him, Irat, I want you to lure him into the forest, at which point you may do whatever you wish with him, so long as his body is not found”
The Doberman smiled, barring her front teeth, her ears flicking forward as she did so.
“That sounds like the best plan you have had in a while, Vesgha.” She said, the tiny stump of her tail wagging as she turned, moving silently off into the valley.
Vesgha smiled as she watched the Doberman depart, her bright green eyes shining in the darkness, before she turned and headed back to the forest to await the animal’s return.

Irat stalked through the valley, her regal head held high as her nostrils flared, drinking in the scents of the animals and humans that lived there, sorting each into its own category, human, bird, reptile, feline, canine, vulpine and rodent. She stilled, the scent of the skunk was nearby, assailing her senses. Her almond eyes narrowed, a single cropped ear flicking forward and panning, listening for the movement of a small creature, and picking it up. She moved onward once more, spotting the black and white animal, holding back a low and dangerous growl that threatened to escape her.
Instead, she moved closer to the rodent, a disarming smile on her face as she did so.
“I seem to be lost” she said softly, her almond eyes wide and afraid.
“I was wondering if maybe, you knew the way into town.”
The skunk cast an appreciative eye over the Doberman, taking in her toned form and her regal appearance before he spoke.
“You are a long way off, I think, perhaps you got turned around in the forest or something along those lines, because the town is a good half a days trek through the mountains and over the wastelands. You would be best staying here the night methinks”
The Doberman sighed, her eyes glancing over the form of the skunk before she extended a perfectly manicured paw, placing it lightly on his shoulder.
“You know, you are probably right, and I would hardly mind spending the night here with you. Would you be so kind as to help me find my way in the morning?”
Arath nodded slowly, his oil drop eyes going wide as the Doberman moved her paw down to the small of his back, pulling him close against her.
She stepped back quickly, releasing him, a sheepish grin on her face as she did so.
“I am terribly sorry” she said, her eyes not quite meeting his.
“I am deep in heat and just cant seem to help myself…I don’t mean to sound too forward, for I do not know the customs here, but would it trouble you too much to relieve me of this problem. Or must one be pair bonded before such a thing is considered in these parts?”
The little skunk shook his head, his mouth hanging wide open.
“You want…ME to relieve you?” he asked, a little shocked.
“You know, there are other creatures around, much more handsome than me that would probably be able to service you better than I”
The Doberman shook her head, a shy smile on her face.
“No, I think I want you” she said softly, her eyes twinkling.
“That is, if you will have me”
The skunk simply nodded, moving his paw to grasp her hand.
“But not here” he said quietly.
“We do not want to wake up the humans, who have only just gone to bed. It would probably be best if we went off into the forest a way, we will return to sleep, of course, and you need not worry about getting lost, I know this area like the back of my paw”
The Doberman nodded, grasping his paw lightly as they moved away from the valley and back towards the forests, Irat searching the underbrush for any sign of the sorceress Vesgha, while the skunk trotted happily alongside her, not quite believing his luck at finding the pretty Doberman in the first place.
As they neared the edge of the forest the Doberman moved closer to the skunk, walking behind him with her body pressed close to his back, her paw occasionally moving to the soft fur of his underbelly, which would in turn cause him to shudder involuntarily at the sensation, and in anticipation.
A few more moments of walking and the pair were fairly deep into the woods, the Doberman turned to the skunk, leaning down so her muzzle was close to his ear, her hot breath on his neck, the scent of arousal thick in the air between them, and then, she struck, her fangs sinking into the soft flesh of his neck, tearing at the jugular and causing thick, hot blood to pour freely from the open wound. The skunk’s eyes grew wide in realisation, and he tried to scream, knowing, already, that he could not, for his throat had been too damaged in the attack.
She dropped him then, watching him as he breathed heavily on the soft damp earth, the blood spilling from his wound, even as the light slowly vanished from his eyes.
She listened to his breathing become more and more shallow, the heartbeat slowing, and finally both stopped, his heart giving up the fight to pump blood that he no longer had, to his brain.
She watched him, uncaring as he died, pink foam, saliva mixed with the blood of her kill forming around her mouth in the excitement, and then, out of the underbrush, the sorceress appeared, a small, calm smile on her face.
“You have done well, Irat” she said.
“And once I have a physical form, you shall be rewarded, but for now, I need you to do one more thing for me, I need you to assume the form of this skunk, so as we can get you close to the otherlander”
“You wish me to assume the form of a stinking rodent! And you honestly think I would agree to that. You must be mad!”
“It is only temporary” the sorceress assured.
“And once this is all done, and I have assumed my physical form once more, I can go about restoring your pack to its original glory, I will be able to cast out the impure alpha that is polluting your lines and restore your brother to his rightful place. Is that not what you want, Irat, do you not want your litters to be pure once more? For your young to be sired by a true Doberman, of superior lineage, rather than that half blood cur that has assumed the title of Alpha”
“You know I want that, more than anything” Irat growled, her ears flicking forward as she barred her teeth.
“I just wish I did not have to take action quite so extreme as becoming that THING that lies dead on the ground before me. It is lower than FOOD, Vesgha, I would not even eat the lowly beast, and now, you would have me become it? I will do it, of course, only because it is a means to have my pack restored to its true glory, but oh, how I wish there was some other way”
Vesgha smiled mildly, raising her translucent hands above her head, a light forming in the palms, glowing and pulsing in rhythm with her heart. She flickered a moment, becoming a little more see through, and then, with a mighty yell, she threw the ball at the Doberman, and watched in quiet satisfaction as her fur began to change from the deep red and rust, to the black and white of the skunk. She began to shrink, the stub of her tail lengthening and becoming brushy, her almond eyes becoming smaller and blacker, her teeth changing shape, her breasts all but disappearing into the thick fur.
The Doberman stood, watching with a mixture of interest and dread as she began to change, the feeling was unpleasant, but not painful as her bone structure began to form differently, her body shape changing, her tail growing long and bushy. She sighed when it was over, staring at her paws, which were now covered in black hair with pink pads. Her tail wagged, causing her to jump, her eyes narrowing as she glared at the extra limb.
“To think, I went through the trials to have my tail docked, my ears cropped, I am one of only a few bitches to pass and earn the right, and now, I have this horrid brush attached to me, the counsel would turn me out of the pack, if that cur had not abolished it, and I would not blame them! Look at me, Vesgha. I am a SKUNK, a filthy rodent. I hope that you truly can change me back.”
Vesgha eyed the dog with mild amusement.
“I will be able to do nothing if you do not hurry up and infiltrate the group of half breeds and your human friends. I will turn you back as soon as the otherlander is dead, and the magician goes back to being miserable once more, not before, now go, get close to them, bide your time and wait until you can get the man alone, I do not want anybody to become suspicious of you, it would be dangerous, for you, and for me”
Irat nodded.
“As you wish My Lady” she replied, turning sharply and marching down out of the forest, into the valley below. She sat outside the thick stone walls of the cottage for a long time, looking up at the moon, almost full, and looking pregnant in the black of the sky, before she made her way into the house for a few hours of much needed sleep.
She had a task to get to in the morning, and it promised to be a difficult one.
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Chapter 15 [Nov. 10th, 2004|09:40 am]
The crystal glowed faintly as the three men contemplated it, Belris leaning gently on Erik’s shoulder, as Erik sat talking quietly to Itel, their hands still joined.
“So, what was it you wanted to talk to me about” Belris asked Erik, who smiled softy, moving his other hand to rest lightly on his lover’s knee.
“I am not sure if it is relevant” He said softly, resting his head on Itel’s shoulder as he did.
“But there is something else I want to talk to you both about”
Itel tilted his head, taking notice of what was being said then.
“What would that be?” He asked.
Erik smiled, moving his hand so as it was no longer grasping his hand but resting in his lap.
“I think, maybe that we could work something out between the three of us. I mean, I love Belris, but, if I was your lover, Itel, I think it is only fair on you and me that I found out my own past, if you know what I mean. I just want to know, is there a way to do that? And if so, would you both be willing to help me?”
Belris wrapped his arms around the smaller man, his wings spreading wide and wrapping around all three of them.
Itel smiled to himself, slightly surprised at the idea that he was included in the embrace, stroking the soft feathers of the wing experimentally and making the limb shudder.
”That tickles” Belris whined.
Itel smiled, repeating the action and causing the wings to twitch and ruffle themselves.
Erik laughed, playfully smacking the magician.
“That’s not very nice, now, lets be serious for a moment. Is there a way to make me remember?”
Belris nodded slowly.
“There is a way, but, even if you are NOT really Kitsam, you will have his memories, on top of your own, be they real or fake”
Erik nodded.
“I can deal with that, but it is a pity I will never know if I really am Kitsam or not”
Itel sighed then, moving to lay on the soft grass of the hill, his head resting on Erik’s lap as he did so. Belris saw this, and placed a large soft wing over the form of the magician, a small smile on his face.
“I will need some time to figure out how to do this” Belris finally said.
Itel simply grunted in response, his eyes closing. Erik smiled.
“You will do this for me then, even if it means I might also love Itel?”
Belris nodded.
“I would do anything for you, and you never know, it might be just what he needs to stop this dreaded salt, at least I am hoping it will.”
Erik grasped Belris’ hand, kissing the palm before releasing it.
“You know, even if I do love him, I will not love you less for it, don’t you?”
Belris nodded, not quite meeting the smaller man’s gaze.
“I know, but it will be hard for me. You are the first person I ever loved, and I have never even considered the idea of sharing my lover with someone else, but if it will make you happy, I will do it”
“You know what would make me happy?”
“What’s that?”
“If you got to know the man better, I mean, you are being nice to him now, but perhaps, if you got to know him, I don’t know…you could love him too. It would not be sharing one person so much then as it would be sharing love between the three of us; I think we could all live with that a lot better.”
Belris considered this a moment, a cheeky smile tilting his lips.
“You know, you are probably right, from what I have seen, I COULD love this man, if I let myself, but I don’t know if it will work, Erik, love has to go both ways, and he seems to adore you so much that I doubt he will be open to the idea of a second lover”
Erik simply shook his head.
“I think you underestimate him, he was stroking your wing earlier, or didn’t you notice, you probably didn’t have a good view of his face, but I think feelings could definitely run both ways if you two let them. When he wakes up, I want to try something, if that is okay with you, just to see if he is open to the idea. If you are uncomfortable with it, let me know, at any time, but I think this is something that needs to be done”
Belris grinned, a feral gleam in his eyes.
“Do whatever you like, Erik, I am not exactly opposed to the idea, actually, far from it, I don’t mind at all, it sounds interesting enough, and I have said it time and time again. I will try just about ANYTHING twice”
Erik turned, wrapping his arms around his neck and pulling him down for a gentle kiss.
“You, my dear, are a wicked, wicked man. But for some reason, I love you anyhow”
Belris kissed him gently on the nose.
“You love me because I am wicked, and you know it”
Erik pushed him gently onto his back, straddling his hips in the process.
“Lets just see how wicked you can be then” He replied, kissing his lover’s exposed chest, moving teasingly downward before crushing his lips to Belris’ furiously.
When they finally broke apart, Belris simply smiled, his wings spread out behind him on the soft grass, his hands resting behind his head as he stretched out.
“I thought you wanted to wait until Itel woke up to do anything of this sort” he said.
Erik laughed, moving to place tender kisses on the man’s neck.
“I never said anything about not wanting to start anything with you right now. Itel is wiped out, he might not wake up for a whole HOUR or so, we can have some fun in that time, cant we? I mean not TOO much fun, but a LITTLE bit”
Belris regarded Erik a moment, before resting his hands lightly on his lower back, pulling him down until he was flush against him, devouring his mouth with his own.
“I don’t have a problem with that, but what if he wakes up?”
Erik sat up just long enough to remove his shirt, before he was upon the man again, his hands skimming the naked chest, and moving further down to cup him through his pants, causing the winged man to groan.
“Well, I was thinking, if he woke up, we could quite easily let him participate, if that is not going to worry you in any way, that is.”
Belris smiled leaning his head back as Erik began softly caressing his cloth covered manhood, his eyes closing as his wings wrapped themselves around them both.
“Just keep doing that and I wont care if the entire world falls down around us”
Erik smiled wickedly, removing his hand from where it was, causing Belris to whimper at the loss. He moved to lay beside the winged man a moment, as his hands moved to the fly of his jeans, undoing them, before he pulled them off, leaving him only in his underwear.
Belris cast an appreciative eye over the younger man, taking in the slim build and the lightly toned muscles. He smiled, running a hand softly along the smooth skin of the younger man’s stomach, watching the muscles twitch.
“Hey, that tickles” Erik whined, slapping Belris’ hand away.
Itel chose that time to wake up, opening his eyes and looking around, dazed and confused.
“Wha?....oh….I’ll er….go” he said quietly moving to sit up.
Belris shook his head, moving atop the smaller man, pinning him easily.
“And where exactly do you think you are going?” he asked, moving a hand to brush away a few of the blonde hairs that obscured the man’s vision.
“I…well, I was going to let you two be a lone so you could…finish off what…you were…doing..”
Belris leaned in, his lips against the magician’s ear as he spoke.
“Why don’t you help us with what we were doing” he suggested, before gently bringing his lips to the other man’s.
Itel’s eyes went wide as Belris’ lips found his own, but all thoughts went out of his head quite quickly as he wrapped his arms around the winged man, deepening the kiss as he did so.
Erik looked on a moment, a small smile on his face as he watched his lover work to include the magician in one of their most intimate moments. His smile turning into a wide grin as Itel started to respond.
Shedding his remaining clothes he moved towards the two men, who were still locked in a tight embrace. As they looked up at his naked form he arched an eyebrow, smiling as both men looked at him, guilty expressions etched into their faces.
“Okay, first of all, don’t you think you are both a little over dressed?” he asked, trying and failing to contain his laughter as they stared at him.
“And second of all, do you think perhaps, there is room for one more here? You do know how much I hate to be left out of activities, don’t you?”
He moved to sit beside Itel, his eyes roaming Belris’ body as he unfastened his pants and tossed them a short way down the hill before rejoining the two men, studying the magician’s clothed form.
Belris looked over at Erik, a feral gleam in his eyes.
“I do believe one of us is still a little over dressed, don’t you think so Erik?” He asked, moving his hand up into Itel’s shirt, resting it on the smooth plane of the magician’s stomach.
Erik leaned in, his mouth inches from Itel’s as he spoke.
“I think we can remedy that situation” he said softly, before gently bringing his lips down to meet against the other man’s.
To say Itel was in sensory overload would be an understatement. He had never experienced something like this before, two men giving him their affection, and while he was by no means opposed to it, he was at a loss to figure out exactly what had sparked the idea at all.
All coherent thought left him as Erik’s lips met his own, his hands flying to the other man’s dark curls, deepening the kiss, bittersweet memories of times past, with a man so similar flooding his mind, then, with great effort, were pushed away. He allowed the sensation of being loved wash over him, and for that moment, it did not matter that it was Erik, a man who did not remember him, and Belris, a man that he barely knew that were showing him this affection, it just mattered that someone cared about him.
When the two men broke apart, Belris moved in close to Itel, draping his wing over both men as the magician snuggled against him, pulling Erik with him. They lay there a moment, a naked man on either side of the clothed one, before Belris took the initiative and pushed Itel onto his back, quickly ridding him of his shirt and working on his pants.
Itel was slow to catch on, but when he finally figured out what the winged man desired, he raised his hips, allowing the pants to be quickly removed and thrown in the general direction of his shirt.
Now completely naked before the two men, Itel felt slightly vulnerable, the moment passing quickly when Erik moved to caress the hard bud of a nipple with his tongue, Belris moving to catch the magician’s mouth in a bruising kiss.
As things progressed, the three men spent the remainder of the day making love, unhurried on the small hill, and by the time the sun had moved its way over the horizon, both Itel and Belris had decided that sharing one’s lover was not all that bad at all.
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Chapter 14 [Nov. 8th, 2004|07:07 pm]
The two men regarded each other as Erik stormed off, their guilty looks mirroring each others as they followed him, trying to catch up with him as he ignored them.
Belris caught up with him first, placing a hand on his shoulder, which Erik shrugged off as he increased his pace.
“Erik…I’m sorry” He said, his wings drooping and trailing along in the grass behind him.
“No your not” he replied.
“You are just upset because I’m mad at you, I doubt you even know what I am angry about”
Belris sighed, moving quickly to stand in front of him, effectively blocking any forward movement.
“You are mad at me because for a moment there I sounded like I was treating you like an object, not a lover, we are both guilty of that, and while I can’t speak for Itel, I can surely say I am sorrier about that than I have ever been about anything in my life. You don’t deserve to be treated like that, you should be loved and respected, and for a moment I didn’t respect you, that was wrong of me. I love you, more than I have ever loved anyone before, and I promise you that I wont do that again, I AM sorry”
Erik stopped, his face softening as he pulled the taller man to him, placing a gentle kiss on his cheek.
“I am sorry too, Belris, and I hate to say it but we have to talk about a few things once we have done what we have to do today, it is important and I hope you will understand why I am going to do what I have to do, but now is not the time or the place to be discussing such things, I forgive you for what you said, it was not your fault.”
He stopped as Itel came to walk beside them, his head lowered a look of sorrow on his face.
“I am sorry, I had no right” he said softly, before quickening his pace to get away from the lovers.
Belris sighed, wrapping his arm around Erik once more, a motion that Erik only allowed for the briefest of moments before once more shrugging it off.
“Not right now, Belris, not until we have talked, there are more important things right now than showing me affection”
Belris nodded, smiling at a few half breeds that greeted him, and then, his attention was off Erik and on the rather large group as he gave orders and made sure people were doing what they were meant to.
He was so caught up in the situation that he barely noticed when Arath tapped him on the shoulder.
“Belris” the little skunk said.
“I was wondering, what you want me to do”
Belris smiled kindly at the skunk, petting the small creature on the head.
“You have served us well already by showing us the original drop point of the crystal, but if you would like something to do, why don’t you try checking the banks with the other small mammals, you know better than most of them what it looks like, so you can keep an eye on the stones they examine and tell them if they are the one we seek”
The little skunk puffed out its chest, marching off to do just that, and Belris could not help but smile at how such a simple mission made the little creature feel important.
Timaz came up to him then, a small yip of greeting the only sound he made as he approached the man.
“The skunk seems nervous still” the small tiger-fox stated.
“I think he is nice enough, do not get me wrong, but something is not right with him, and I am not sure what, it worries me”
Belris nodded, turning to face his friend a moment.
“I know what you mean, I think there is more to this story. Watch him closely, Timaz, and tell me what you find out about him, I have to see to Erik, see if he can find this stone in an easier way than sifting through the slimy bottom of this river”
Timaz smiled, a gentle paw swatting the human on the backside.
“Don’t you work him too hard, and don’t you dare start pawing himself in front of that magician, I think, if anything, that will just make him more miserable, and from what I’ve heard it is his misery, not his will causing this salt to wash over us”
Belris sighed.
“I will try, but you know, I do forget myself sometimes” he replied, moving off to find his lover.

Erik sat on a small hill, staring out at the half breeds who were working hard to find the elusive stone which had been dropped into the river late that night, his crystalline gaze shifting from one to the other, imagining what their life would be like as outcasts and wondering if, really, it was so different to his own life.
They, like him, were ridiculed because they were different from most, even though it was something they had no control over, their families had either turned on them or they had left to keep their families from being treated badly because of them. He sighed, plucking at the blades of grass as he thought, looking up only when he heard the quiet footsteps of someone lightly traversing the hill.
He smiled softly as Belris sat beside him, keeping his distance and obviously not enjoying it.
“I thought I would see if I could get you to call the crystal. It might be a little difficult, since you are calling something you have not seen before, but I want you to try”
“What do I have to do?” Erik asked, watching the winged man as he settled himself on the ground and made himself a little more comfortable.
“First, try to picture it in your mind, a smooth purple stone, an amethyst, around the size of a human fist, completely spherical save for a small piece at the bottom which is flat”
Erik closed his eyes, trying hard to picture the object.
“Have you got it in your mind?” Belris asked.
“I…I think so” the younger man replied, his brow lined with thought.
“Then build up all the emotion you can, good and bad and call it to you, tell it to come to you”
For a moment Erik just sat there, the emotions swirling around him, love, confusion, fear, anger all welling up inside him, and then he spoke in a commanding voice.
“COME” he said, and opened his eyes, staring straight into the chocolate gaze of Belris before looking around for the crystal.
“I don’t think it worked” he said softly, his voice sad, his eyes downcast.
Belris placed a hand on his shoulder squeezing softly before letting him go.
“It is a difficult task I ask of you, don’t feel bad about not succeeding, when you feel like you can, try again”
Erik nodded briefly, waiting a moment before he closed his eyes, picturing the object once more and trying again.
“COME” he tried again, to no avail.
He sighed, shaking his head.
“I don’t think its going to work” he said sadly, resting his head on the larger man’s shoulder.
Belris shrugged, stroking the younger man’s dark hair as he spoke.
“It’s okay” he said, a small smile on his face.
“I am sure they will find it soon, it can’t have gotten far, I mean, it is a fairly heavy stone”
No further conversation was had, as the breeze picked up and they were hit with the first few crystals of salt that had found their way into the valley.
Both men looked at each other, their faces grim, even as Itel sprinted over to where they sat
“Erik, Belris, can you feel it? It’s the salt, its here! I am so sorry, I never meant for any of this to happen”
Erik simply nodded, motioning for the other man to join them on the hill, and, taking both his and Belris’ hands in his own, he closed his eyes, picturing the stone in his mind once more, and then, rather than trying to use his own emotions, thinking about the love that each man had for him, he felt himself grow warm, his whole body tingling with it and when he spoke, it was in a quiet, yet firm tone.
“COME” he said, and when he opened his eyes, the stone sat before him, gleaming wetly from the river water, the wind slowly becoming fresh once more.
Both men stared at him in amazement and he lowered his eyes, slightly embarrassed.
Belris smiled warmly wrapping an arm around him, not caring as Itel did the same.
“You are glowing again” he said quietly.
Itel just regarded him with awe.
“How did you manage to do that?” He asked.
Erik simply smiled, shaking his head.
“Sometimes all you need is a helping hand and a little support from someone who loves you. I am lucky enough to have two men who love me at my disposal, and I think, perhaps, that I need you both”
Both Itel and Belris exchanged a brief look before moving closer to the man and hugging him tightly. Nothing was resolved, not by a long shot, but things had taken that one step closer to getting better.
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