Chapter 13 Intrigue

Tir lowered himself into the cool waters of the King bath with a sigh. He had spent most of the day cleaning Ebony pen in preparation for the hatching. With her precious eggs in the pen Ebony refused to let anyone enter except for Drake, Marek, and Tir, and no one else would dare to try. With both Drake and Marek so busy he had volunteered to do the work that usually was done by riders before the hatching. The cleaning had finally been completed despite the heat of the summer sun, so Tir had escaped to the bath hall were he could cool down and relax before Drake returned from his council meeting.

Tir life had amazingly settled down in the last month as everyone waited for the hatching to happen. Mornings were spent with Marek, until he left with Feras for his patrol of the capital in the afternoon and meetings with the other dragon riders in the evenings. Tir afternoons were spent with Ebony often times quietly reading as she tended her eggs. Then in the evenings Drake returned to spend time with Tir and Ebony before Marek arrived later at night.

Between both of the riders Tir had no lack of sex or companionship, although it wasn often when all three of them spent time together. Both Marek and Drake schedules were totally opposite, making chances for the two to get to know each other better or get into arguments limited. Tir didn know whether to be grateful or not that all three of them were hardly ever together, but at least it had been peaceful.

As the hatching fast approached Tir had began to spend more time gazing at the fifteen large eggs, wondering what would happen once they hatched. Only two or three of them would actually contain a dragonet and the rest would be eaten by the newly hatched dragons as a highly concentrated food source. Drake had said that many young nobles were already in residence in the palace hoping to be chosen to stand in the hatching, along with three of the council members’ children.

Marek had been spending an increasing amount of time looking over the various nobles who had requested a chance to attend the hatching. It was his job to pick the people who would stand in the hatching, since he was the leader of the Dragon enclave and the rider of Feras. Tomorrow Marek would make his final decision on the young hopefuls. Only twenty people would be chosen to come to Ebony’s pen during the hatching for a chance to bond with one of the precious little dragons. Tir couldn’t help but wish he could stand with them, but he knew that it was impossible; he wasn’t a noble, only an ex-harem boy.

Submerging himself under the cool waters he tried to shake the thoughts from his mind. He had an amazing life even without a little dragon, and he knew he had no reason to be depressed. He had more than most people could ever dream of, considering less than six months ago he had been nothing more than a sex slave. When he surfaced from the water he was surprised to see the King had entered the bath hall and was disrobing along with Sasha.

“Your Majesty! I will leave,” Tir blinked in surprise, wiping away water and hair from his face.

“No, you’re fine. Don’t let me disturb you,” the King said, looking at Tir with a smile and waving the three bathing slaves away.

Tir watched as the King and Sasha entered the large bathing pool and sat down opposite him. He couldn’t help but notice the angry glare that Sasha directed at him until she began to bathe the King. Inwardly sighing he had to wonder what he had ever really done to the young girl to make her so angry toward him. Not wanting to disturb their pleasure and unenthusiastic about being glared, at Tir decide to find a reason to leave as quickly as he could.

“The council meeting is over so soon?” Tir asked. “I should be getting back to Drake.”

“Yes, all the preparations have been made. As soon as the eggs are hatched Drake will go to Recura for the peace conference. It has taken some work but the old gates are functioning now, so we should be able to transport Ebony through them to Recura and make it to the conference in time. The only problem will be if a female hatches, since the dragonet will have to stay with Ebony for at least two months before flying off by herself. If that happens, Marek and Feras have insisted on going as well to help with the young one,” the King answered as Sasha began to wash his back.

“What?” Tir exclaimed in shock, standing up.

His mind was going in a thousand different directions at once. His curiosity afire with the words old gates, but more importantly the word Recura echoed through out his mind. Drake had never mentioned that the peace conference was to be held in his home country, or that both Marek and Drake might be going. What was going to happen to him? Was he going to be left alone here or go back to Recura where his real father waited? Tir stood naked, water dripping off his slim body, looking at the King, stunned and not knowing what to ask.

“Drake must not have told you,” the King said with a sigh. “He is going to be angry at me again. Tir, it hasn’t been decided whether you are going or not. Right now nobody knows about your parentage and I want to keep it that way until we decide what to do. I don’t know how Tristan will react, but it is also dangerous to keep what has happened from him as well.”

“Why Recura?” Tir asked, sitting back down with a blush when he noticed Sasha’s eyes raking over his naked body.

“Because they have ties to both us and Keran, but since they are across the ocean they are neutral when it comes to our borders. It only takes a month by a fast ship to get there, so it makes sense to hold the conference on neutral territory where, if tempers explode in the heat of the moment, no rash decisions can be made. Like letting the troops attack.At the same time it isn’t going to take forever to get there either,” the King explained, waving Sasha away from him and sitting back against the edge of the pool.

“King Tristan is more than willing to host the conference, since it is beneficial to him not to have us fighting, since it would interrupt trade. Not only that Recura is a country that for the most part opposes war and has for generations,” the King continued as Sasha positioned herself next to him quietly.

“Your Majesty, I don’t want to be left alone if both Drake and Marek are gone,” Tir said, looking at the King with pleading eyes.

“You wouldn’t have to be alone, you could stay with me,” the King offered with a smile, moving across the waters to Tir. “I believe you said you still liked me.”

The King’s lips gently touched Tir’s as he felt the King’s hand move down his body. Tir trembled a little, although his body didn’t respond. He liked the old king but now that he knew that he was Drake’s father it felt strange, almost wrong, to have the man touching him so intimately. He wasn’t sure what he should do, but he knew that he couldn’t let things continue. Gently he pushed on the King’s chest, moving away from him.

“No Logan, I can’t. It is wrong now,” Tir said firmly, looking at the man, hoping the use of his name would put his refusal on a more personal level.

“What are you doing?! How dare you talk to the King like that? You ungrateful little whore, you’re unfit to even…” Sasha hissed, outrage and jealousy showing on her face as she moved through the water to Tir only to be stopped by the King.

“Enough!” the King stated in a calm, quiet voice as his hand grabbed the girl’s upper arm tightly.

“Your Majesty, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t bear to see any disrespect . . .” Sasha began, looking wide eyed up at the King.

“Be quiet now. My patience is at an end girl. Your selfishness and arrogance are wearing thin. You may look like Alexius but every time you open your mouth I’m reminded of how looks can be deceiving. You bring shame to my wife by looking like her and acting like a spoiled little girl,” the King scolded, his hand leaving bruises on the girl’s arm when he let her go.

“I was just. . . ” Sasha started, her wide eyes shocked.

“I know what you were doing. Don’t think for a moment I don’t know what you and Esper are planning. You both are walking a very fine line right now. I know that you two are up to some mischief although I haven’t found out the details. I suggest you forget about it. Now leave us,” the King commanded as he frowned at the girl.

Sasha’s face lost its color as the King talked. She gracefully got out of the pool, bowing low before the bath slaves came and dressed her. After another bow she quickly left the bath hall without looking at Tir once. Tir looked at the King, surprised at his reaction to Sasha.

“Your …,” Tir started.

“I believe you just called me Logan. Why not just use it instead? I’m sorry about the girl, but she really does look like my Alexius, so much it hurts sometimes, ” Logan said, moving back to his original position, his face filled with a longing Tir had never seen before.

“Drake’s mother? She sounded like she was strong, proud, and amazing, just like my own mother. I wish I could have met her,” Tir said without thinking.

Logan laughed, looking at the boy. “If she were still alive we would have never met. I never visited the harem until she died. Still, from what you told Drake I’m sure your mother and Alexius would have been good friends.”

“Logan, I’m sorry about. . . well you know. It just, you’re Drake’s father,” Tir said, looking at the man across from him, feeling bad for him.

“You’re not a harem boy anymore Tir. You have the right to refuse me, after all by Terma’s law you are a noble. Bastard children are considered to have the same rights as legitimate children. Most of the Kings and Queens that have sat on our thrones are bastard children. Drake is the exception.

I do regret not being able to enjoy your body anymore, but I also understand your feelings,” Logan said with a sigh. “I guess I will need to visit the harem and find a new play toy.”

“Why not have Simeon pick someone for you?” Tir asked tentatively, standing up to get out of the pool.

“The chief eunuch?” Logan asked.

“He used to be your favorite right? He also has been a eunuch in your harem for years. He, better than anyone, knows the boys and girls of the harem. I’m sure Simeon could pick out someone that not only is beautiful but will fit you,” Tir replied, trying to avoid the female bath slaves and grabbing a towel from them.

Logan began to laugh as he watched Tir blush and back away from the girls that were trying to dry him off.

“Please can you get them to stop,” Tir asked desperately. “No matter how many times I tell them, they always try this when I come here.”

“Come on girls leave the poor boy alone from now on,” Logan chortled as a look of disappointment came over the girls.

“I think they liked teasing you,” Logan said, looking at the red face boy.

“Thank you,” Tir said with relief as he started putting on his clothes.

“I think I will take your suggestion. You’re probably right about Simeon knowing better than I would. I also will think about letting you go with Drake and Marek, if that is what you want,” Logan replied.

“I don’t really want to go home, but I don’t want to be left behind either,” Tir said, shaking his head. “Thank you Logan for everything.”

Tir left the bath hall and walked slowly down the corridors to step out into the dragon walkway. Looking up at the darkening sky he noticed that the sun had already set. He slowly walked down the walkway lined with dragons, lost in thought.

The thought of going home stirred a complex set of feelings inside him, especially at the thought of meeting his real father. He had always wondered what Prince—now King Tristan was like. His mother talked about him rarely, so not to upset his step-father, and she had always wanted Tir to consider his step-father his real father. The thought of meeting the man was an exciting one, but the consequences of it were frightening as well.

Bitting his lip he thought about his two twin brothers. Ash and Elgin were now almost eleven years old, yet if something happened to their father they had no place to go. Their grandfather’s title and lands had passed to a distant cousin on his death, since their mother had relinquished all claims to her nobility on Tir’s birth. On their father’s side they had no living relatives to take in the boys. Neither one of them could make it in the world alone, even if they were bright and attractive they were still too young.

He was unsure if King Tristan would do anything to his step-father, but it did worry him simply because the penalties for selling your own children in Recura were very high. At the very least his father would lose his business, and with all the debt he would have nowhere to go, except servitude along with his brothers. At the worst he would end up dead for his crimes, either option was horrible for his brothers.

He wanted to see his brothers again and let them know that he was all right. He wanted to tell them about Ebony and Feras, and show the dragons his two little mischievous brothers. When he had lived at home he had thought them a nuisance, always following him around and getting into trouble that he often got blamed for, yet now after being apart from them he found he missed them.

He wanted to go back to Recura more than anything, especially if Drake, Marek, Feras, and Ebony were going. He wanted to see King Tristan and see what kind of man his real father was. He wanted to see if they were the same, if they looked alike. Deep down inside he wanted the man to accept him in a way that his step-father never could. Yet he was afraid that if he did he might alter his life irrevocable. He might be taken away from Drake and Marek, or he might harm his family.

Lost in his own thoughts he was surprised to feel arms wrap around him from behind, trapping him as a gag was thrust into his mouth. Struggling, he looked wildly at the tall, thin young man with black hair that had gagged him as he struggled in the arms of another man.

“Be careful, it can’t look like he was forced in anyway. We can’t leave bruises,” said the man that had gagged him as he held a damp cloth against Tir’s nose. Trying not to breath, he felt himself blackout.

Tir awoke to the sounds of splashing water. Looking around groggily his mind finally recognized his surrounds as the empty harem garden. Blinking to try to focus his eyes, he saw two thin men looming over him without their clothes on. Panicking, he tried to get to his feet as his mind cried out for Feras’s help.

“Where are you little one. Drake and Marek are looking for you,” Feras’s concerned voice came flooding into his mind as the men pushed his naked body down to the ground once again.

“In the harem garden. Some men drugged me and brought me here. I feel funny, hot and tingly. Feras help me,” Tir cried out in his mind as he eyes tried to focus on his assailants.

“How long before the drug takes effect?” he heard a thin, high voice ask as he felt a hand lightly play with his nipples. He let out an involuntary moan.

“It should already be running through him. Pretty soon he is going to turn into a nice little slut,” a man with short black hair said as his hands moved down Tir’s body.

“Well it better be soon, that girl is going to bring the one of the council members here in another half a candelmark. By that time he better be crying out to be fucked,” replied a beautiful blonde with a high voice.

“Oh he will be. Come on, I want to enjoy him some before it is over,” the black haired man said as Tir felt him spread his legs.

Struggling a little he tried to make sense of what was going on. He knew that he should stop the man, but his body didn’t want him to stop touching him. The smooth, silky hands felt amazing on his hot skin and he wanted more. When he felt the man position himself against his vulnerable opening he resisted the urge to buck against his captor. He felt confused and a little scared, and he cried for Feras in his mind as he watched the man start to push his erect member inside of him.

Suddenly he heard Fears’s loud roar sound throughout the garden and felt the wind of his wings as he landed near him. He heard stones smashing to the ground and the cracking of wood as Fears broke tree limbs and knocked over statues when he landed. He felt his assailants scrambling away from him as he turned to look at the snarling Fears. Tir looked in surprise at the rows of large, sharp pearl white teeth that were exposed in the ferocious face of his friend. He watched as a thin stream of fire blazed past his attackers, hitting a tree in front of them as Marek and Drake both came running toward the two naked, terrified men.

Getting to his feet shakily, Tir stumbled over to Feras to feel the dragon shelter him with his wing. Shaking, he leaned against the hard scarlet scales, feeling his body burn.

“Are you alright? Your thoughts are scattered Tir. Talk to me,” Feras said in his mind urgently.

“They gave me some kind of drug I think,” Tir replied. “I need Marek and Drake, please.”

Sheltered behind Fears’s wing he couldn’t see what was going on, but he heard the voices of many people in the garden. Moaning a little he felt himself slide down Feras’ side to sit on the ground as he began to stroke his aching member. He felt Ebony’s mind enter his, enveloping him in a soothing white, and some of the tingling in his body decreased. He took his hands away from himself, embarrassed at what he had been doing.

“It’s alright, no one can see you right now. Marek and Drake are coming and they will be able to help you better than we can,” Feras soothed.

Soon Feras lifted his wing to revele both Marek and Drake. Marek took one look at Tir, with his jutting erection and removed his shirt, dropping it over Tir to cover his obvious arousal. Tir looked up at the half naked man and resisted the urge to throw himself at Marek. He felt Ebony increase her presence in his mind, toning down the desire running through him.

“Drake we can’t question him now,” Marek said, looking at Drake as Tir stood up, clinging to Feras.

“I can see that, take him home. I’ll take care of this mess,” Drake said, looking over at he guards and spectators that had gathered a safe distant away from Feras.

Marek nodded and picked Tir up, carrying him through the crowd of people as Tir buried his head in Marek’s chest. Embarrassment, fear, and lust fought for dominance inside of him. He had almost been raped and he had wanted it. He wanted Marek now and he couldn’t help but feel afraid that his body could take control of his mind.

“Marek,” Tir moaned a little as Marek put him down to open the door to the pen, and he felt Ebony’s presence withdraw from his mind.

Tir grabbed the Baron before he could enter the pen, wrapping his arms around the man’s shoulders and pulling him down to his lips. He felt Marek move forward into the pen, pushing Tir in front of him as he pushed the boy away from him.

“Tir what is wrong with you?” Marek asked, looking down into Tir’s glazed eyes.

“I need you,” Tir moaned, pushing up against Marek as he felt his body aching for something, anything to stop the desire coursing through it.

“Did they give you something besides what knocked you out?” Marek asked.

“Yes,” Tir replied, his hands busy with Marek’s belt buckle.

Tir felt Marek pick him up and carry him to the bed as Tir kissed his chest. Putting him down Marek looked at Tir as he expertly undid Marek’s pants. Tir quickly stripped the clothing from Marek while he stood still,watching with concern as the boy wrapped his hands around his limp organ. Without teasing, Tir began to use his skills to make the Baron hard as fast as he could.

As he worked on the Baron’s slowly hardening member his own hand slid down his pulsing organ. He felt himself on the verge of release, but held back, wanting to feel Marek inside of him, knowing he needed more to quench the overflowing desire within him. It wasn’t long before he felt Marek’s member expand.Not wasting any time he quickly moved to his knees, offering himself to the Baron. When he didn’t feel Marek’s touch he looked over his shoulder to see Marek’s worried eyes looking at him.

“Fuck me, please, hurry,” Tir panted, looking the reluctant Baron.

Tir watched the man for a moment before turning and wrapping his arms around him, kissing him as he rubbed his body against Marek’s. After a few minutes Marek gently pulled Tir away from him. Tir looked desperately up at Marek, his wide violet eyes glazed with desire.

“I don’t want you like this Tir, filled with lust not your own. It’s like using you against your will,” Marek said quietly, looking directly into Tir’s eyes.

“I need you Marek, please I need you. I want you,” Tir pleaded, feeling his body throb.

“It didn’t matter when I was a harem boy what I wanted.” Tir added when Marek continued to stare at him.

Tir felt Marek’s hand gently trace the curve of his face, frustrating Tir with such a light touch when his whole body cried out for more. He looked up into troubled emerald eyes, wondering why the Baron was tormenting him so.

“I didn’t know you when you were a harem boy. You weren’t important to me, I didn’t…” Marek trailed off as if lost in his own thoughts.

Tir looked up at Marek, confused at his explanation and not in the mood for discussion. He couldn’t understand the man’s reluctance and his patience was at an end. Pouncing on the man he roughly pushed him back on the bed, climbing on top of him with practiced ease, sliding Marek’s still erect member into him with a sigh.

“Tir,” Marek growled, looking at him in surprise.

“With or without the drugs I want you Marek. Right now I need you, so stop hesitating and show me how important I am to you. Where is the man that likes to fuck me hard? Where is my Master?” Tir taunted, hoping to bring Marek back to himself as he ran his nails down Marek’s chest, leaving long scratch marks.

Suddenly Tir felt himself being spilled off of Marek as the man pushed him off of him. Tir cried out in disappointment until he felt Marek pull him to his knees and bury himself into Tir in one hard thrust. Tir gasped in surprise and pleasure at the man’s change of heart and pushed himself back against Marek even as his own organ exploded in release.

Gasping in absolute pleasure when Marek’s organ hit the hidden spot within him, his recently spent organ became hard again in an instant. Enjoying the quick, hard pace Marek was using he cried out in encouragement as he felt Marek flip him over to see the familiar glint in Marek’s eyes once again. Smiling up at the Baron he felt the man’s hands wrap around his organ, stroking it in time with his thrusts, making Tir forget about everything but the concentration of pleasure in his lower regions.

He could feel the sweat dripping off of Marek onto his body as the man thrust deeply into him, the lean body riding him roughly. Looking up at the bright emerald eyes filled with a light Tir had only seen when the man was looking at Feras, Tir spasmed and cried out in a release that shook his whole body as Marek filled him with his own seeds.

Tir watched, panting, as Marek collapsed face down on the bed, breathing hard with his eyes closed. Shaking his head he had to wonder what was going on inside of the man’s mind. Lying quietly in the bed he was surprised when he felt his body stir. Briefly he wondered what kind of drug he had been given as he felt his body taking over his common sense.

Looking over at the man spread out naked before him Tir’s body tingled despite its recent romp. Wondering if he dared, he looked at the finely sculpted body and felt his body take over. Moving quickly he climbed on top of the lean, glistening body, and he felt Marek stir under him as he spread the man’s ass, exposing the tight pink opening. Before Marek could throw him off Tir pushed the tip of his newly sprung erection into Marek’s very tight opening.

“Tir, what the seven hells are you doing?” Marek asked, looking over his shoulder at the boy.

“Just stay still. Ahh, I didn’t know this could feel so good,” Tir gasped as he slid his whole length into the man under him.

“You know you are going to be punished later,” Marek warned, bucking up against the light body on top of him.

“You’ll punish me anyway.” Tir said saucily. “Please Marek, you feel so good.”

Marek sighed, spreading his legs further in acceptance as Tir slowly began to thrust into the now willing man. He couldn’t believe how amazing it felt to be on the giving side of pleasure for the first time in his life. The velvety soft tunnel gripped him tightly as he worked himself deep within the Baron. He ran his hands down Marek’s back and sides as he slowly thrust into him, wanting to make the experience last even as the new sensations threatened to overwhelm his control.

“How does if feel to fuck me, little harem boy? How does it feel to be in my tight ass, taking me?” Marek asked wickedly, bucking up against him and wriggling a little, destroying Tir’s control as he released himself into the Baron.

Tir collapsed on the man, totally exhausted. He moved off of Marek to lie next to him, panting a little as he looked up at the man, frowning.

“That wasn’t fair,” Tir said after a few minutes.

“And sneaking yourself into me was?” Marek laughed.

Tir yawned suddenly, feeling extremely tired and knowing he wasn’t going to win this argument. He closed his eyes instead as sleep pulled him under.

It was almost dawn when Drake slipped through the doors of Ebony’s pen. Looking around he saw the two dragons curled around each other near the corner of the pen where the eggs lay. He saw Feras lift his head, then lower it, looking over at the platform where Drake was surprised to see Marek sitting in one of the chairs by the table. Looking over to the bed he saw Tir lying curled in a ball in the center with a thin sheet over his body.

Drake walked over to Marek and took a seat next to him with a yawn as the Baron looked at him with a bland face.

“You’re up early,” Drake commented, since it was unusual for the Baron to be up before noon.

“I haven’t been to sleep yet. So what the hell happened?” Marek asked.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” Drake said with a sigh. “Is he alright? The men admitted to using a potent aphrodisiac on him, meant for of all things eunuchs.”

“Yeah, although I not sure I am,” Marek said wryly.

Drake looked over at the Baron, confused for a moment until he noticed for the first time the scratch marks running down the Baron’s chest. Grinning, he looked at the Baron and laughed.

“Never mind that. Who was responsible and what were they trying to do?” Marek questioned, brushing aside Tir’s unusual behavior.

“The men were hired by Duke Garth to get caught having sex with Tir,” Drake started.

“His daughter was one of the ones that asked to stand in the hatching,” Marek said, his face clouding with anger.

“Yes, and apparently that is why he did it,” Drake added.

“But why? Tir isn’t qualified to stand. As far as anyone knows he is just your personal servant,” Marek said thoughtfully.

“Apparently the Duke was snooping in father’s study one day as he waited for father to arrive. Papers signing over the Highlands title to Tir were on father’s desk. It’s his solution to the whole affair with Tristan and Tir. He has been trying to find a way to make sure Tristan doesn’t take his anger out on us about Tir being a harem boy,” Drake said tiredly.

“Wait! You mean he is a Marquis, now?” Marek asked in surprise, looking over at Tir.

“Well, not yet. Father has to make the announcement and there has to be the transfer of power ceremony, but he will be. It solves a number of problems for father. The title has been vacant for almost a year because, depending on whom father bestowed the title to, the balance of power could shift on the council. The title comes with a council position, since it is a pivotal providence on the borders of two different countries. Tir has no ties to anyone so he is completely neutral and the perfect person to put in the position,” Drake answered.

“Perfect!? He doesn’t have any idea of what it takes to be a council member or rule lands. The court will eat him alive,” Marek said, sitting up in his chair.

“The lands will continue to be overseen by the man father appointed when the former Marquis passedaway without any heirs. As for the council, Tir will be given a year’s grace period to learn what he needs to know. Father believes as I do that Tir has enough intelligence to rise to the challenge,” Drake said, pouring himself a glass of water from the pitcher on the table as Marek shook his head.

“Well Tristan can’t complain that we made his son one of the top nobility in our country once we found out who he was. It also stops him from pulling Tir back to Recura, not that he could really afford the complications of a royal bastard in his court. But why the elaborate set up? If Tir is to be the next Marquis of Highlands then he can do what he wants, why not just call the King out on it? Most of the nobility would be outraged that the boy was given the title, since nobody knows Tir’s parentage,” Marek asked thoughtfully.

“It took a while to get everything straight. The two men were more than willing to talk after Feras’s little display. They were prepared for a little torture and imprisonment, since the Duke paid them handsomely and promised to free them in a few months, but they weren’t prepared for a raging dragon. The Duke was a different matter, but father took him aside privately and afterwards the man told us everything,” Drake said, looking over at Marek.

Marek laughed, wondering what the old king had on the man. Shaking his head he motioned for Drake to continue.

“The Duke acquired the information in a way that made it impossible for him to bring it up before the council. Since he didn’t know about Tir’s parentage and with the timing of the hatching he just assumed it was so Tir could be included in the hatching. With his place here in Ebony’s pen the Duke was certain Tir would be chosen, leaving one less dragon to possibly pick his daughter.

He had help with his plans in the form of Sasha, one of the harem girls, and Esper. Apparently Esper overheard the Duke’s outrage and suggested his plan. Simply drug Tir and have him caught acting like a slut. If Tir was caught then rumors of his actions would spread throughout the court. With those kinds of rumors it would be impossible for the King to give Tir such a high title without looking like a fool. On top of that the Duke was sure I would be furious with the boy and withdrawmy support of him. Of course, no one thought that we would go looking for him so soon, or that Feras would be circling the palace looking for the boy either,” Drake explained.

“What a stupid plan,” Marek snorted. “I’m not surprised that pig came up with it. What about the girl, what part did she play?”

“Esper was to sneak her into Viscount Mandrake’s room and lure him out to the gardens. Esper also supplied the drugs used on Tir,” Drake replied. “Apparently Sasha refused to do it after she came back from being with father, so the plan was going to fail anyway.”

“Well at least they picked the most susceptible council member. Mandrake is the worst gossip in the world. So what now?” Marek asked.

“Esper and Sasha are both being held in prison. Duke Garth is under house arrest for now. Technically Tir isn’t a Marquis yet so there isn’t a lot that can be done to the Duke. Esper and Sasha are another matter entirely, they both are slaves. Esper will die for his crimes this time. The girl I don’t know,” Drake said shaking his head.

Marek looked past Drake to Feras, his eyes lost in thought. Drake wondered what the two were talking about, especially when he saw an angry frown appear on Marek’s face. Suddenly the Baron stood up and jumped off the platform to stalk over to his dragon. Kneeling down he looked directly into Feras’s jade eyes. Drake watched the two as he saw angry tendrils of smoke curl out of the dragon’s nose.

Drake felt Ebony’s worried presence in his mind. Without thinking he stood up and started to go to Marek, only to see the man walk away from Feras as the dragon closed his eyes. Ebony’s uneasiness as she looked between her mate and his rider filled Drake. Looking at Ebony he sent a questioning thought to her, only to hear silence.

“It’s settled, Tir will stand in on the hatching, despite everyone’s disapproval,” Marek stated, his emerald eyes hard and angry as he looked at Drake.

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