Being enslaved was better than dying but only barely. Kennet did what he had to in order to survive as a slave with the knowledge that freedom would risk being found by the people who drove him into slavery. Kennet saw no reason to do anything extra for the men who bought him. They didn’t care about him and he didn’t care about them.
That was true until the royal family of Penhale purchased Kennet guard Prince Didymos. Protecting Prince Didymos from the assassins seeking to kill him dragged Kennet into the world of national politics and onwards to face an enemy that threatened to destroy not just Kennet but the whole world.
Kennet didn’t want to deal with any of it, the assassins or the magic that lurked around him but if he wanted to survive, Kennet would have to not just face down the threats surrounding them but also track the assassins back to their shadowy leader.
What he found at the source of the chaos changed Kennet in ways he could never have anticipated, taking him in all new directions. Hopefully Kennet’s new skills would be enough to let him save the world, his lovers and himself.
Artifacts of Awareness
By Meyari McFarland
30: Access to the King
“How can he be real?” Toma moaned in the darkness of the night. “He’s not done yet!”
Kennet chuckled against Toma’s belly. Their first round had been quick. They hadn’t made it to the bed before Toma’s pants were around his ankles and Dimi’s mouth was wrapped around his cock. Rather than argue with Dimi and his knives for the right to suck Toma, Kennet had contented himself with holding Toma up and kissing the back of his neck after he realized that Toma loved that. The second round was much better, not the least because they’d made it to the bed and gotten properly naked before it started.
Well, mostly naked. Dimi kept his knives on, at least a portion of them. Kennet was absolutely certain that the six knives he had strapped to various portions of his body were nowhere near the full number he had hidden in his clothes but it was more than enough to make Toma stare. Kennet distracted him from the staring with kisses that drifted down his neck to his nipples and then down to his cock and ass.
The oil had appeared in his hand when Kennet reached for it, supplied by Dimi who laughed at the raised eyebrow Kennet gave him. They hadn’t quite managed much more than rubbing off on each other while Dimi kissed Toma into silence but that was all right. Kennet enjoyed that sort of thing as much as a good hard fucking.
“I am not certain,” Dimi said in his mock thoughtful tone of voice that always made Kennet snicker. “You do realize that he will be ready to fuck you all night long should you wish it. Kennet has more endurance than I have ever seen.”
“Magic,” Toma said with absolute certainty as he ran his fingers through Kennet’s hair.
“Nope,” Kennet said, grinning at both of them. “Not magic at all. I’m just that good.”
His grin made both Toma and Dimi laugh. Kennet relaxed a little at the laughter. It was better to be this close to someone when there was laughter, shared laughter. The sex he’d had without laughter was ugly by comparison, though fucking Princess Tahirah had been fun in the ‘going to outlast and outdo you’ way. Toma’s stomach and cock were still slick from the oil so Kennet started gently stroking him. Dimi watched, humming appreciatively at the way Toma gasped and then rocked into Kennet’s hand.
“You did come, didn’t you?” Toma asked breathlessly.
“Oh, yeah,” Kennet said. “Nothing to say that we can’t do that a few more times, though.”
He bent and licked the head of Toma’s cock, resisting the urge to grin at the way Toma gurgled in response. That was nothing but an invitation as far as Kennet was concerned so he sucked the rest of Toma’s cock into his mouth, enjoying the combination of Dimi’s nut-flavored oil with Toma’s taste. It only took about two slow slides down Toma’s cock before he was babbling something about yes and please and more and Blessed Inina that made Kennet smile in spite of the cock pressing against the roof of his mouth. A slight angle change let Kennet swallow around Toma’s cock, taking it deeply enough that Kennet could use the tip of his tongue to tease at the base.
“Aah!” Toma shouted.
“Oh, he’s doing the swallowing thing,” Dimi crooned. “I love that swallowing thing. It feels like you’re fucking straight down his throat.”
“Yes, oh fuck, yes, it does,” Toma moaned.
His hand clamped onto Kennet’s shoulder, gripping hard enough that Kennet would have had bruises without Na’im’s healing. Kennet chuckled at the response and then chuckled harder as Toma shouted and beat the bed with his free hand. His next shout was cut off by Dimi kissing him, not that Kennet looked up to watch. It was too much fun sucking on Toma’s cock, swallowing him down and holding him there until Na’im nudged him to breathe.
“I like that,” Kennet told Na’im. “Choosing to be strangled by a cock is fun.”
“Your idea of ‘fun’ is slightly disturbing,” Na’im observed. “Did you realize that I could drop your temperature so that you feel cold to him?”
“Oh, now that might be interesting indeed,” Kennet chuckled and then smiled with his eyes up at Dimi because Toma ripped his mouth away to scream.
Allowing himself to be as cold as he was now was nice. He had asked Na’im to raise his temperature so that Dimi wouldn’t complain. The few things Dimi had said about living in that cold little cell with no comforts through the depths of winter had made both Kennet and Na’im determined to make sure he was warm and comfortable all the time.
Toma jerked as Kennet’s mouth began to cool. His legs shook and then he clutched Kennet’s hair, grunting as he thrust into Kennet’s mouth. Kennet slid his hand between Toma’s ass cheeks, gently rubbing him but not pushing in. No oil down there would make that a thoroughly uncomfortable thing and Kennet really never had enjoyed hurting his partners sexually. Dimi stared at Toma’s response, reaching out to touch Kennet’s shoulder and then pulling his hand back while making a disgusted face.
“Oh, you’re cold again,” Dimi said.
“So cold, so strange, oh fuck,” Toma panted as he thrust into Kennet’s mouth. “It’s good!”
Kennet wagged his eyebrows at Dimi and then sort of jerked his eyes at Toma in encouragement. Dimi grinned and moved up so that he could rub his entirely human and normally warm cock against Toma’s lips. Toma shuddered and opened up for him, sucking Dimi in with enthusiasm if little skill. The lack of skill didn’t seem to bother Dimi. He just rested one hand on Toma’s head and slowly fucked Toma’s mouth.
Between the two of them, Kennet was pretty sure that Toma wasn’t going to last very long. He wasn’t wrong. Kennet pressed his tongue against the underside of Toma’s cock while humming around him and Toma made a muffled scream that had Dimi gasping. A second hum got another muffled scream and Toma’s thrusts losing their rhythm. The third pushed Toma over the edge into an orgasm that had him thrusting deep into Kennet’s throat and shaking so hard that Kennet pulled off as soon as Toma’s hands in his hair loosened. Dimi took a few more thrusts to come in Toma’s mouth but that was all.
“Nice,” Kennet said. “Very nice indeed.”
“Why are you so cold?” Toma asked, his voice rough in the ways that Kennet’s wasn’t. Na’im’s healing prevented Kennet from getting a sore throat.
“That’s the temperature I normally am.” Kennet shrugged. “Raised it for Dimi. He doesn’t like the cold.”
“At all,” Dimi sniffed. “It is quite uncomfortable, thank you.”
“I… rather liked that,” Toma admitted.
He shivered as Kennet ran his hand over his stomach and up to his nipples. Gooseflesh broke out all over his torso, raising bumps that Dimi chuckled at and blew on. Toma drew in a shuddery breath, rolling so that he was draped half on top of Kennet. The move was a bit of a surprise but Kennet managed not to tense up with Na’im’s help. Dimi took it as an invitation to start kissing and biting Toma’s back, especially the back of his neck.
“The two of you are going to kill me,” Toma moaned. He wrapped a hand that felt incredibly hot around Kennet’s cock, stroking him slow and firm, just like Kennet had done him.
“Can’t have that,” Kennet said, lying back and letting Toma do as he wanted or as Dimi encouraged him to anyway. “I need you to keep the paperwork straight. All the Gods know I sure as fuck can’t do it.”
Dimi laughed. “I could do it but I certainly won’t. Paperwork is boring. This is fun. Do it harder and faster, Toma. Kennet enjoys it if it hurts a little bit.”
Toma looked at Kennet and then shivered as Kennet nodded confirmation of that. Kennet stretched his arms up over his head, grasping the headboard so that he wouldn’t grab onto Toma. It wasn’t at all like being bound for his former Master’s pleasure, especially as Toma moved up to kiss Kennet desperately. He tasted of Dimi’s come, whatever fruity wine he’d had earlier and something that Kennet realized after a moment was his own taste.
A firmer grip, a faster stroke that was just a little too much for the oil still covering Kennet’s cock had him groaning into Toma’s mouth. Kennet wrapped his arms around Toma’s back so that he could hold him in place while thrusting into his hand. Toma shifted his legs and then jerked as Dimi did something to him that Kennet absolutely couldn’t see. Na’im expanded their senses enough to let Kennet see it and Kennet jerked hard.
Dimi had two of his oil-covered fingers buried in Toma’s ass, pushing in deep with short sharp strokes that made Toma start to shake again. It didn’t take long for Toma to pull his mouth away from Kennet so that he could gasp and moan. Kennet grinned and caught Toma’s face.
“Ride on me or in me?” Kennet asked.
Toma blinked at him for several seconds, obviously not comprehending the question at first. When he did Toma whined and bucked against Dimi’s fingers. His hand clamped down for a second around Kennet’s cock. Dimi grinned and crooked his fingers just right to make Toma shout.
“In!” Toma shook his head, pulling away from Dimi so that he could straddle Kennet’s hips.
Dimi was already there, pouring more of the nutty oil over Kennet’s cock. He held Kennet’s cock at the ready, guiding it for Toma who shook as he lowered himself down onto it. Kennet let him take as long as he wanted, well aware that his cock had to feel like a chunk of ice going into his ass. Toma felt like a furnace to Kennet, so hot that it made him break out in a sweat immediately. Once Toma had the head in Dimi smiled and moved to kneel behind him, reaching around with one hand to fondle Toma’s cock and the other to play with one of his nipples.
“Does that feel good?” Dimi asked Toma. “He must be so cold inside of you.”
“Can’t, it’s, Blessed Inina, good, so good, strange but good,” Toma panted.
“Can raise the temperature if you want,” Kennet offered.
“No!” Toma squawked, thumping Kennet’s stomach with one hand that apparently couldn’t quite make a fist. “No. No, just like this. Like this. It’s good, very good. Oh, Holy Mother, Blessed Savior!”
He started to move, taking it slow for the first few thrusts but quickly picking up speed as Kennet cupped his hips and encouraged him to do whatever he wanted. Kennet was pretty sure that this would be the last round for Toma and more than likely for Dimi. Granted, Kennet could keep going between Na’im’s healing and his training but there was little point when your partner was exhausted.
Besides, it was surprisingly satisfying to look up at Toma’s face, to watch the awed and overwhelmed expressions flit by as he fucked himself hard and fast on Kennet’s cock. There was a feeling of connection there that Kennet hadn’t gotten since Juraj, most of which was probably due to Na’im quietly crooning at Toma in the back of his mind. Kennet allowed himself to enjoy the furnace that was Toma’s ass, allowed himself to grunt and thrust up when Dimi’s fingers slid down to play with Kennet’s balls. This was okay. It was better than okay.
This was something he was allowed to have and enjoy. No one was going to tell him that it was wrong or beat him for doing it the wrong way. Kennet realized that he was whispering little phrases in New Vorenic as Toma moaned and braced himself on Kennet’s chest. They were things he’d told Juraj, things that he’d never said to anyone else, even when his Alliance training masters had tried to force him to simulate devotion.
Things like ‘beautiful’ and ‘perfect’, ‘love this’ and more damningly ‘love you’. Kennet shuddered that he could still say things like that in the heat of the moment. Thankfully neither Toma nor Dimi appeared to understand a word he said but Na’im’s quiet wave of love and understanding was simultaneously a balm to his wounded soul and a burn against his pride.
“Can’t hold,” Kennet grunted in the right language as Dimi squeezed his balls exactly right to push him towards the edge.
“Don’t, don’t hold back,” Toma said instantly, his fingernails clawing at Kennet’s nipples. “Want it, want it!”
Toma’s nails gouged Kennet’s nipples at the same time that Dimi laughed and squeezed his balls. Kennet shouted and came, shoving up into Toma and then holding there as his orgasm made the world go away for a white-hot moment of complete ecstasy. Warm wet bloomed over Kennet’s balls and then over his belly a second later, followed by Toma collapsing on top of him. Dimi flopped onto the bed, panting and grinning.
“Blessed Savior,” Toma whispered.
“Gonna live?” Kennet asked.
“Maybe,” Toma replied and then laughed as Dimi started snickering. “He could keep going.”
“Oh yes,” Dimi said, grinning at Toma and Kennet. “However, I, for one, am done. I will leave the two of you to your cuddling, I believe.”
He stood and pulled on his clothes, apparently not at all concerned that he still had come and oil on his body. From the way he hummed Dimi was perfectly okay with that. Once he walked out of the bedroom, thankfully shutting the door behind him for once, Kennet sighed and asked Na’im to slowly raise his temperature back to human normal. Toma relaxed as Kennet warmed back up, not appearing to notice it.
They took a minute to wipe off, Kennet more grateful for the opportunity to get clean than Toma. All Toma seemed interested in was lying on the bed in a daze. Kennet grinned at him and shook his head. It was tempting to say that he just hadn’t had that many lovers before but Kennet was pretty sure that it was far more than that. The whole mage thing had to feed into it, as well as Kennet being his boss. And the physical differences must have had a part in Toma’s reaction, too.
“Seriously,” Kennet said as he let Toma cuddle up against his side. “You gonna live?”
“I will,” Toma said wryly enough that Kennet snorted. “I am not certain how I warranted our King’s notice but I’m glad for the opportunity. I think this will be a night to remember for the rest of my life.”
“King, right,” Kennet snorted. “As if I’m going to stick with this job once King Rihab’s been dealt with.”
Toma froze, sitting up to stare down at Kennet with enough horror in his eyes that Kennet’s stomach did a slow roll of pure nervousness. He put a hand in the middle of Kennet’s stomach. It was shaking badly enough that Kennet put his hand on top to try to reassure Toma. That didn’t work very well as Toma shook his head, mouth open but nothing coming out as he mouthed something that Kennet and Na’im didn’t recognize.
“You see this as temporary?” Toma asked finally.
“Well, yeah,” Kennet said. “You have to admit I sort of fell into the job. I’m not from Rudrash, Toma. I’d thought you guys would want one of your own as King or Queen.”
“No,” Toma said way too fucking seriously, especially given how hard he’d just been fucked. “Everyone I have spoken to has said that you are the best ruler Rudrash has ever had. Well, if you go back to the Times Before there are legends of leaders who were better but not since then. Rudrash has been torn by war, famine and invasion for a thousand years and more. What little stability we had under King Rihab was broken by his violence and insane demands.”
Kennet pulled him back down into the bed, wrapping his arms around Toma because even if Toma didn’t need a little bit of comfort, Kennet sure as fuck did. He’d known that Rudrash was fucked up. King Rihab was crazy, no doubt, and Queen Yafiah hadn’t been a hell of a lot better. Everything he’d seen since he got here said that they’d been going through hell and the drought wasn’t helping any.
“No,” Toma insisted. He clung to Kennet’s stomach, still shaking a little. “I know I speak for the others here when I say that you are the best leader we have had. You are harsh but fair, Kennet. You listen to our counsel and follow our advice. You actually care whether people are fed and paid, whether people are healthy. That is more than we’ve ever had before. You cannot leave. Rudrash needs a leader like you.”
“You do a lot of that,” Kennet protested. “All I do is give orders and kill people that try to cheat.”
“It comes from you,” Toma insisted. “I tried to bring order before your arrival and always failed. People do not listen to me when the orders come only from me. It is your authority that gives me power. It is you who makes Oren effective, who gives Dimi such high status. It is you who draws in more warriors for the battle every single day, Kennet.”
He stopped and stared into Kennet’s eyes, completely serious in all the ways that made Kennet want to run screaming from the room and Na’im to croon at Toma for being an adorably serious baby. The contrast between those two responses made Kennet shudder. Toma smiled wryly while rubbing Kennet’s stomach comfortingly but he still kept talking, saying things that Kennet really didn’t want to hear.
“You are our King, Kennet,” Toma said. “We follow you, personally, not your magic or the crown you refuse to wear. We do not follow you just to win our freedom from King Rihab. We follow you because you are worthy of the throne, worthy of being our king, and it is through you that we become worthy of something more than the chaos we have known before.”
Toma lay his head on Kennet’s shoulder; apparently done making Kennet’s stomach churn with truths he didn’t want to know. Even though it was all things that Kennet preferred to ignore, Kennet wrapped his arm around Toma’s back. His long, frustrated sigh made Toma chuckle tiredly.
It didn’t take long at all before Toma’s breathing eased into the slow patterns of sleep that eluded Kennet. He stared into the darkness of the bedroom, wondering how the hell he was going to get out of this situation. Before he’d only wanted to be free so that he could live out his dream of a quiet life but now he had people depending on him.
“I don’t know how to be a king,” Kennet complained to Na’im. Now that he was looking for it the flare of blue in the dark room was obvious. “How the hell am I supposed to do this, Na’im?”
“The same way you have so far,” Na’im replied, his tone somewhere between amused and resigned. “Day by day, doing the best that you are capable of. I find myself equally upset by this development, you know. I rather liked the idea of a quiet life of contemplation and study while you bred your little rabbits. It was tempting enough that I was not going to insist on being thrown into the ocean once Shihab is dead.”
“Swear that the damn rabbits get farther away every fucking day,” Kennet grumbled. “Maybe we can foist it off on Oren or Toma after Rihab’s gone. Somehow.”
Neither of them commented on the unlikelihood of that happening. Kennet was pretty sure that neither of them wanted to admit that it was real. Like it or not, he was the king of Rudrash once Rihab was dead.
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