Sunhawk was sitting on a chair by the bed, staring at the pale face of Shadow, when a soft knock came on the door to his room. Standing up he went to answer it to find Ariel and Kelas standing outside. He stood aside to let them in and they all went quietly over to the desk at the far side of the room to sit down.
“Well, what did you find out?” asked Sunhawk once everyone was settled.
“Not a lot. We rattled more than a few teeth, but the fact is that most of the people don’t know much about the boy, if they know anything at all. Most of it is just rumors at best. Every once in while very sick and very rich people have come to the temple of Mith and have left completely cured. About the same time the temple has a huge influx of gold. No one, and I do mean noone, has ever seen the boy at the temple. The few slaves we have from the temple refuse to talk about it, saying only that the boy will be fine in a day or so and if we want to know any more to ask him when he wakes.
The archer who shot you has been captured. He confirmed it was Jarvek that sent him under the threat of extreme torture, the stupid fuck.” Ariel growled in disgust at the man, shaking his head. Kelas shifted in his seat, looking at Ariel and deciding to take over for him
“The arrow was poisoned by a very rare and expensive poison, as well as fast acting one.
If Shadow hadn’t been there you would be dead, Captain. The men wouldn’t have been able to bring you back in time to administer an antidote. As for his powers, I have heard of them, but they are very rare and take a huge toll on the one using them. It is probably why the boy is so small and delicate looking. Every time he uses them he risks his own life, especially if he hasn’t had any training.” Kelas said.
“Well at least it is another small piece in the puzzle of the boy. Hopefully he will still have his voice when he wakes up, although I still don’t know what I am going to do with him. The men must be getting worried, considering the commotion I heard downstairs earlier.”
Kelas and Ariel looked at one another. Kelas shook his head and Ariel shrugged.
“What? Spit it out you two.” Sunhawk said looking at the pair.
“Well, that noise was a meeting between sub commanders,” replied Ariel somewhat sheepishly.
“I didn’t order a meeting,”
“No, but I did Captain. As soon as we got back the news of what happened spread like wildfire through the troops, and I had all the sub commanders and many others coming to me. I told then what had happened and asked each sub commander to talk to their men and meet back here in two hours. It was decided by unanimous vote to allow Shadow in the band as one of our own.”
“But his powers are unreliable it sounds like, and most mercs are uncomfortable with magic.” Sunhawk protested.
“Captain, it doesn’t matter to the men. When it comes right down to it most of the older men highly respect you, and the younger ones outright worship you. You are the heart and soul of the Hawks, and if we lost you I don’t think we could continue being the Hawks. That boy saved you, and it is obvious that he is special to you. You have never allowed anyone to follow you the way you let Shadow do today. Many of the men noticed the boy following you around and were impressed by they way he didn’t flinch from what he saw. Mop-up isn’t a pretty sight, Sunhawk, even some of the older men avoid it if they can, yet the young boy followed you unflinching. I have also agreed to take the boy on as an apprentice, if he wishes. What I didn’t tell the men, but I will tell you two, is the healer, Corrin, also has the same gifts as Shadow, and once we reach Wintermoon he can help the boy to use his talents better.” Kelas said, looking Sunhawk straight in the eye.
Sunhawk sat in shock listening to what Kelas had said. He was surprised that his men felt that way about him. He knew he was a good Captain, but the respect of his men touched him deeply. He also had not thought about how the men would react to seeing Shadow trailing around behind him. He had let the boy follow him simply because he had not been able to pry the boy off of him. Still, the most shocking thing was old man Corrin having the gift of magic.
“Corrin? Why didn’t I know about this? He has been with the Hawks since it was first formed.”
Kelas chucked “That is a stupid question, Sunhawk. Corrin knows how you feel about magic. Besides, he is too old to use his gift now in any major way; if he did it would kill the man. The only reason I know is because I was apprenticed to him, and I got very discourage when no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to be as good as Corrin. He told me and swore me to secrecy so you wouldn’t find out. I am breaking it now because I think with the arrival of Shadow you can deal with the information now. It has always bothered him that he couldn’t tell you.”
“Well that is one problem solved for me, I guess, although when the boy first spoke I felt like whatever force was compelling me to take the boy vanish. I still think he should come with us, but now it seems more like my own desire rather than some power forcing the boy on me.”
“Captain…” Kelas said, worried.
“Yeah I know. This reeks of magic, and not just Shadow’s. I have a feeling Mith is involved somehow. She is probably trying to protect her priest, at least I hope that is all that it is. But I can’t leave the boy here, now can I? He saved me, and despite my better judgment I like him.”
“Well we will go down and get some food for you both, since you haven’t left his side since you got back.” Ariel said standing up.
Sunhawk nodded as both of them left and he went back over to the chair by his bed.
When he sat down he noticed the Shadow was awake.
“How long have you been awake?”
“Water,” croaked the boy.
Sunhawk stood up and got a cup of water for the boy. Helping him to sit up, the boy drained the cup. Sunhawk went to get more returning he handed the cup to the boy. Shadow took the cup and drank a little more as Sunhawk sat down again in the chair.
“I just woke as Ariel and Kelas were leaving,” came a soft, light voice from Shadow as he looked down at the cup.
“Shadow, who are you?”
“That is kind of blunt, isn’t it Sunhawk?” Shadow replied, looking up at the Captain with a slight smile. Sunhawk looked at the boy. He had changed in some way since regaining his voice. It was if he was more confidant, more mature.
The boy sighed and looked at the golden man sitting before him, demanding answers.
“Would you at least sit on the bed with me?” asked Shadow, his eyes pleading, some of the young boy’s attitude appearing through his eyes.
Sunhawk got up into the bed and Shadow immediately crawled over and lay his head against his chest as Sunhawk reflexively wrapped an arm around the boy.
“The simple answer is I am Shadowhawk, priest of the Goddess Mith, but I don’t think that is what you are looking for. I wish I could just leave it at that, Sunhawk. Yesterday, for the first time that I can remember, I got to be just a child. I didn’t have to do anything but be close to you. I have never been in danger, but at the same time I have never felt safe and protected like I did when I was with you. I don’t want that feeling to end, even though I know that it will.” Shadow said quietly, trembling slightly. Sunhawk reached up and stroked the boy’s hair gently.
“Shadow, I need to know what it going on. The Hawks have already voted you into the band, so you have a place within my army if you want it. You don’t have to stay here. But more than a few things are bothering me, and I need some answers that I suspect you have.”
“I know, Sunhawk,” the boy said, and then paused, trying to think of where to begin.
“Tell me why someone so young if a full-fledged priest, yet nobody in this town knows about you.”
“When I was five I healed my dying pet dog, he had been bitten by a snake and I couldn’t stand to see him suffering. Afterwards I slept for three days straight; my mother was so scared she brought me to the temple of Mith. They convinced her with a large sum of money that it was in my best interest to stay at the temple. Everything was fine until the head priest came down sick and nothing could cure him. I was too young to have control over my powers, so they performed a rite beseeching the Goddess to bestow the gift of knowledge on me. The Goddess granted the petition, but it was a double-edged sword. I had enough knowledge that I could control my powers, enough to heal him, but I had lost my childhood in that moment. I had the intelligence of a young man stuck in a seven year old body.
Five years later I completed my training to became a full priest. Even though no one under the age of sixteen had ever done it, I stood before the Goddess and petitioned her to become one of her priests. She granted it, although the tattoo proclaiming my acceptance would not be etched into my body until my sixteenth birthday, since my body still had much growing left to do.
As for why nobody knows about me, the head priest told me it would be best if the general people didn’t know about my healing powers, otherwise the Temple would be overrun with people who wanted me to heal them. They kept me confined even within the Temple. I think they just wanted to exploit my talents, since I noticed the only people brought to me were from the very wealthy.”
“Shadow, I am somewhat confused. You say that even though you look about sixteen or so you’re actually mentally a lot older, yet since you have been with me you have acted more like a boy than a young man.”
Shadow pulled away from the strong man’s embrace and sat up cross legged on the bed.
“Sunhawk, when you look into my eyes do you honestly see a boy? Would you have been okay with a young boy doing to you what I did this morning? Would you have enjoyed it as much?”
Sunhawk looked away from Shadow, realizing he had put his proverbial foot in his mouth. But the young man’s words made him think. Every time he had looked the boy in the eyes he had been aroused, and he wondered if was because looking at those eyes he had caught a glimpse of what the boy truly was. It disturbed him to think that his attraction to Shadow was on a deeper level beyond sex, something that Sunhawk had always tried to avoid in his life.
“No, Shadow I have never been able to get turned on by kids, but still, you cling to me like one, and you can’t tell me you have sucked a cock before. I know damn well that was you first time.”
Shadow blushed a bright scarlet at the Captain’s blunt words, and turned his face away.
Sunhawk realized once again he had said the wrong thing.
“Damn it, I didn’t mean it like that. Shadow?” Sunhawk reached out to touch the boy, but he pulled away. “Please, Shadow, talk to me.”
“I have the intelligence of man book-wise, Sunhawk, but in life experience I am still a sixteen year old boy, and one that has never left the temple and had very little contact with others. No, I have never done anything like that before, or even thought about it. I wasn’t even sure about what I was doing, it’s not like the Temple library had books on that sort of stuff. If the men who raped me hadn’t forced me to do that to them I wouldn’t have even…” Shadow stopped, and Sunhawk knew that he boy was crying. Feeling horrible, he tried again to hold the boy. This time Shadow allowed him to and he felt the boy tremble again. Sunhawk stroked the boy’s back, trying to calm him. Soon Shadow had his tears under control, but he didn’t pull away from the Captain again.
“I am sorry Sunhawk. When I first looked into your eyes I instinctively knew I could trust you. When you wrapped your arms around me and tried to calm me, for the first time in a long time I felt like a kid again. I wanted to be near you. I didn’t want that feeling to end. I also had this feeling that something bad was going to happen. That if I wasn’t near you I would lose you, so I clung closely to you, trusting my instincts, and I am glad that I did. ”
“So am I Shadow. Could that feeling have anything to do with whatever was pulling on my mind, leading me to you in the garden? And why I felt so strongly about taking you with me?”
“Maybe Mith could have intervened. She has a vested interest in me since she bestowed one of her blessings on me. She is also the patron goddess of lovers.”
“What, don’t get carried away, Shadow.”
“I didn’t mean it quite like that, Sunhawk, only that she had been known to bring two compatible people together who normally wouldn’t meet each and help them stay together. Whether you want to admit it or not there is something between us. She might have led you to me, made you bring me back here, and even placed a warning feeling within me, but that is as far as her power could extend. Your protectiveness of me, your kindness, is all yours, and my automatic trust of you and my wanting to be close to you are all my own feelings, Sunhawk.”
Both of them remained quiet for a while, thinking about their conversation. After a while Shadow stirred from Sunhawk’s arms, looking up at the man.
“Would it be so bad a thing if we were lovers?” Shadow asked softly, his eyes once again pulling on the golden man.
“I have never taken a lover in my life, Shadow. Sure, I have fucked my share of women, but I have never once taken one to my bed for more than an hour. You are the first person who has ever shared my bed, even for a night.”
“Because I am the Captain of a Mercenary Band, and that is all I have ever wanted to be.
When I was younger I was too busy learning my trade to get involved with women. By the time I was twenty-two I had formed the Hawks, and it took up most of my time. Being a captain I realized one thing: that it is easy to die. I put my life on the line every time I take a job, there is no guarantee that I will live. What kind of life is that for a woman, never knowing if I will come back home alive? Never knowing what I am doing when I am out on a campaign, there is no way I could be faithful to a woman. At the end of every battle my lust runs so high I need an outlet, that is why rape is such a common thing at the end of each battle.”
“What about one of your soldiers? Someone like Ariel.”
Sunhawk laughed “Don’t let Ariel hear you say that, he is a straight as they come. I have never been attracted to men. I have raped a few after battles, but normally, except for battle-lust, I just don’t see men that way. Women mercs don’t sleep around period, there is a chance of pregnancy that would put them out of commission. ”
Shadow looked away from Sunhawk and settled down on his chest again, remaining silent. Sunhawk sensed that he had hurt the boy again, but was still unsure of his own emotions. He cursed himself for being so honest and blunt, he decided to just remain quiet, afraid to make matters worse.
Suddenly Shadow sat up on the bed and began removing his clothes.
“What are you doing?”
When Shadow was completely unclothed and blushing he went and crawled onto the captain’s lap, facing him. Wrapping his arms loosely around the shocked man he looked him in his eyes.
“Do I look like a woman to you, Sunhawk?”
“No,” stammered the Captain.
“Then why is your body responding to mine?”
“I don’t want to lose you. I can’t explain it, but that doesn’t matter. I will became part of your band and leave temple life, but not because I want to be a mercenary, but because I want this. I want you.” Shadow said, leaning forward and kissing the man clumsily, pressing his very naked body against Sunhawk. Sunhawk at first remained motionless, but the clumsy kiss combined with the scent of the boy so close to him quickly broke down the Captain’s will, and he opened his mouth, drawing in the boy’s tongue, allowing him to explore him. He brought his hand up and teased a the boy’s nipples to hardness as he felt the boy rock against him, rubbing the large man’s straining cloth-covered cock against his ass.
When they finally parted, Sunhawk looked down to see the boy’s long, slender erection standing at attention. Sunhawk pushed the boy back and got between his lean thighs, engulfing the boy’s entire organ. Shadow thrust his hips up at the Captain, enjoying the sensation as he vocalized his pleasure in a series of whimpering moans. Before long the boy let out a loud, long moan, shuddering his release into the Captain’s mouth. Breathing heavily, Sunhawk moved up between the boy’s legs to find his mouth again, as he felt eager hands fumbling with his pants. Sunhawk broke away from the boy, looking down at him as Shadow stroked his cock.
“Turn around and spread yourself,” the captain said, lust dilating his golden eyes.
Shadow’s eyes widened, but did as he was told. Bending over and leaning down on the bed, spreading his round ass. Sunhawk laid sprawled out on the bed as he looked at the young man posed so provocatively before him, and he stroked himself to a very quick release in a series of loud growls. When he was finished, Shadow came over licking up the semen covering the captain’s body in a series of kisses that worked their way gradually up Sunhawk’s rippling muscles, until the boy final arrived at Sunhawk’s mouth. Wrapping both arms and legs around the man, Shadow clung to the Captain, kissing him fiercely as the door to their room opened to admit Kelas and Ariel, both carrying large platters of food.