Summary: In a city deep inside the mountains there are three castes: the noble Blue-eyes, the common Brown-eyes, and the lowly Green-eyes. A Green-eyed beggar by the name of Jade crosses the nobility. What'll happen when a Blue-eyed take's a liking to him? M/M relations! Don't like don't read!
Many had heard of the rumored city within the mountains. They had heard of its ivory buildings and smooth, cold waters that flowed naturally like twinkling fountains, they had heard of the mysterious gems that lit the city where the cracks and holes in the mountains could not; they had heard of it, but they had not seen it.
The path to the mysterious city-state was a treacherous one not many risked for a city that was only told in stories. There were harsh snow storms to endure, deep canyons to cross, and merciless mountains to climb before one reached the mysterious city-state.
With that being said, it was quite strange to see a group of men on large black horses walking though the streets of the city-state. People started at the men dressed in silver plated armor. Some pulled their children closer to them and backed away. Others actually gasped. A group of noble city folk came out of the palace and down to the men on their horses.
One with very deep blue eyes spoke, "Friends, you must be tired from your long journey to our humble city of Brynne. Come with us to the palace. Our king will welcome you with a feast cooked by our finest chefs."
The men on their horses followed the group of nobles into the palace. The leader of the group of men was awestruck by the elaborate palace. Cool mountain streams sparkled as they drizzled down the slanted walls into streams that flowed quietly though the halls. The walls sparkled like a bright night sky with minerals from the mountain's rock.
They were received in a large room. The thrown was made from the rock as well. It was creamy and looked cold and smooth. There were large pillows that lazily rest on the large throne.
"Announcing, His Royal Highness, King Raine of Brynne, son of Pateclies," shouted a man with a deep black beard that clung tightly to his face with the same deep blue eyes as the man the group previously spoke to. The leader of the travelers looked upon not a man, but a boy barely above twenty years of age. He had porcelain skin and piercing, bright blue eyes. His chin-length hair was playfully messy and deep as the darkest night. The traveler's smile became smug. This almost seemed too easy. The king's frame was small and the traveler guessed he was but a figurehead and not an actual ruler. He made eye-contact with his fellow companions. They were all thinking his thoughts as well.
"State your names and where you are from. I have only traveled to the edge of the mountains but I have studied many maps and the geography of the earth on which we live." King Raine's voice wasn't deep or booming as the travelers' king's was. It was silky; light.
"My name is Shin. I am from the Empire of Leren beyond the other side of your mountains and the Black Canyon. I came here to see if the stories were true about the city hidden in the mountains."
"You have brown eyes," the king stated. He sounded bored.
Shin's face reddened. How dare he treat him like that!
"You know stories of my city but you know nothing of our culture. Care to know?"
"Yes, Your Majesty," Shin said tightly.
"We do not deviate from our ancient ways. We still use the caste systems in which our city was founded. We practice the same religion as our ancestors, Ule bless their souls and we do not simply welcome thieves and murderers into our mother city."
Before Shin had a chance to react, King Raine was already standing before him with a sword in his hand. The sword was laced with what looked to be lightening.
Shin's eyes widened in amazement.
"We also practice the same magic as our ancestors before. I knew you were coming, I knew who you were and your purpose even before you set foot in my city. You have two choices, leave now, or die here." Raine's voice was silky, but for every velvety curl of his tongue there also was another side; a side hardened by wit, knowledge and the sword. His voice was dangerously seductive and dangerously serious.
Shin and his men ran for the doors.
Raine's sword disappeared from his hand. He smirked as he watched the thieves run for their lives. "Theo, make sure they find their horses and the way out."
A large man with tightly cut sandy-brown hair and thick eyebrows nodded. He gave the illusion that the world should shake under him with every step he took, but it did not.
"Your Majesty, if I may ask, why didn't you just let Aydelle take care of them? She would have loved the snack," a sickly pale man with a sly voice asked. He wore green robes and carried a staff with a deep, blood-red spherical rock nestled atop the staff. The same energy that danced around the king's sword also danced around the rock in the staff.
"Aydelle shouldn't' be bothered with petty thieves. They would upset her stomach. Besides Orvin, we wouldn't want our mountain's protector getting fat now would we?" Raine teased. Orvin's musty-blue eyes became mere slits but he allowed one laugh to escape his dry lips. With a turn of his heel the old mage exited the thrown room.
"Thieves gone. Brynne safe again," a deep voice grunted.
"Thank you, Theo," Raine said as he sat down atop his thrown once again. He swung his legs over the side and swung them back and forth like a child. Theo returned and stood off the side of the thrown. "What other business do I have? Other than putting the fear of Ule into thieves?"
"Your Majesty, the Green-eyes in the lower section of town are stirring up a lot of trouble for us. They're causing all sorts of mischief from common robbery to murdering those of higher castes! We would like your word on the matter," a middle aged man with graying hair said. His eyes were brighter than a lot of the other Blue-eyed in the room, but none could compare theirs to Raine's crystal blue orbs.
"Thyleus, if they murder, kill them. If they steal chop off one of their fingers. Green-eyes are no better than rats. They spread sickness throughout my city and breed like the rats that they are. If they become too much of a problem then kill them all. I care not. Next matter?" For as beautiful as the king was, he was also cruel. He was impatient and unsympathetic. He preferred to read books of lands far beyond his own than socialize with his own people; nobility or not.
"What about the expansion that we proposed to you last meeting?" one of the members of the council asked.
"The palace is in the direct center of the city-state. If we were to expand, we'd be further down, closer to the Green-eyed. If our city becomes too overcrowded we'll just kill the Green-eyed. Problem solved. Anything else? I grow tired of all this nonsense."
"Uh, You Highness, the ball tonight?" Thyleus said raising his eyebrows in question. "There will be women, already screened and specially selected for you to meet. An heir to the throne is always a joyous celebration. The people are still grieving from the loss of your father."
"I'm twenty years of age. Do you think I'm going to keel over and die tomorrow Thyleus?"
"N-no Your Majesty, that-"
"Then an heir can wait. I hate such trivial parties."
"Your Majesty, I'm going to speak plainly to you as your Uncle. There have been-"
"Rumors? Thyleus there are always rumors! We live in a mountain for Ule's sake! What else do the people have to do besides make up lavish stories about my love life?"
"But the Book of the Living Mountain says-"
"Says what? Men cannot love each other? I love you. You may be my blood but you are still male. Am I not allowed to love you?"
"The Book clearly states that Ule and the Lady of the Mountains created us in their image. We were made by a male hand and a female hand. Men cannot create with each other such as Ule and the Lady did. That is what the Book states," an elderly man with a tall, elaborate hat atop his head said. He had a staff made out of the mountain's rock that he used to hit the floor with. Where the bottom of the staff hit, the blue energy swirled around. He wore white robes with gold lacing.
"I'm sorry Follower, I did not mean to insult Ule or his Lady. Thyleus, those rumors are false and to further silence them I will attend tonight's party."
"Thank you, nephew."
Raine grit his teeth but he gave a curt nod towards his uncle. He gracefully stood from his throne and made his way to his wing in the palace. His wing was lit up by the blue orbs that dotted the city-state. The king's wing did not have any cracks or holes in the mountain and therefore never received natural light from the world outside of the mountain. It was a bonus and a hindrance in its own ways. It was good because when it rained, the water didn't damage any of the king's wing; but it was bad because he couldn't hear the world that was outside his city. Raine sighed as he fell onto his large bed. A creature with white scales and a long blue fin that ran from the creature's neck to the tip of his tail yawned lazily and returned to his sleep after being disturbed by Raine's weight.
"Crethar, what am I going to do?" Raine asked the creature that was sleeping soundly next to him on the bed.
"Please just a coin? Only one coin!" a boy with bright green eyes begged as people walked by, occasionally shoving him from his crouching position. His stomach rumbled something fierce and he winced as starvation ate away at his bones. He was extremely frail with hardly any meat on him. His dirty brown hair hung to his shoulders from neglect. When one had to beg to survive a simple hair cut didn't cross the mind.
"Get anything yet?" an old woman with green eyes and no teeth asked the boy.
"No, just insults and sneers," the boy said defeated.
"Here then, take this" The woman handed the boy three silver coins. He stared wide-eyed at the coins.
"No buts. I'm an old woman who has lived a long life. I can go without a meal. If I die, the Lady will take me into her loving embrace. For we all know that the Holy Mountain was dotted with bright evergreen trees as green as your eyes. She favors us Green-eyed."
"But Ule hates us," the boy grumbled as he slumped down. He's as blue as the sky and as noble and as wise as they come. How come he was so attracted to our Green Lady?"
"Because she is the earth; the living rock and the growing trees, she is the nature that protects us and keeps us sheltered. Why do you think we live in the mountain under her protection?"
"Because if we Green-eyed didn't, Ule would kill us for being unclean?"
"Yes child. We are the dirty and impure to Ule's blue eyes, but we are the pure and chosen of the Green Lady."
"Why do they not take sides with the Brown-eyed?"
"Because Jade," another voice answered. "They took pity on the poop eyes!" a boy the same age as Jade said with a smile on his dirty face as he sat down next to Jade. "Three silvers? Man I haven't managed to get anything."
"I didn't get it. Sylvia did. I really don't think I should accept this. What if we each get one silver?" Jade offered. Sylvia smiled her toothless grin.
"Sounds good child. Now you two run along and find something to eat. I'll see if I can get anymore coin."
Jade and his friend left their begging spot in search for a baker. Soup was too expensive and ran right though them, but bread stayed within their bodies for at least a night. They found a baker that served Green-eyed and each bought a piece of sourdough. They wolfed down their bread and began walking back to the lower part of the city.
"Hey Jade, the palace is having a party tonight. I hear they wear masks to avoid political arguments. Let's make some masks and feast upon their food!"
"Gideon, I don't think it works that way. I'm sure you have to remove the mask to identify yourself."
"Come on! My father is an artist! He can make them for us!" Gideon pulled on Jade's small hands and the two ran down to the lower city. The lower city's rock was darker than the middle or the upper parts of the city. It was also muddier. By the time they reached Gideon's one room house with no bathroom they had mud up to their knees.
"Boys! Go clean yourselves in the stream! Green Lady knock some sense into them with your might!"
The pair giggled as they went around the house to the stream. The water flows down from the upper city, meaning that the lower city get's the dirtiest water. Even the poorest of beggars don't drink the water here. They washed their legs and feet off and then returned into the house. Gideon's father was painting something onto a slab of rock.
"Can you make us masks?" Gideon asked.
"Why?" his father questioned. He didn't even take his eyes off his work.
"Because we want to go around scaring kids?"
"If you get arrested they'll kill you. King Raine has for lack of a better explanation declared war upon us. If either of you step out of line even an inch you'll be killed or dismembered. That also means no begging! King Raine detests beggars."
"Screw him," Gideon said. "I want to go to his party. I haven't eaten a real meal in years! We live off bread and cheap mead! I want real food!"
"I also want my son alive Gideon!"Gideon's father finally removed his focus from his painting to bore his murky green eyes into his son's identical eyes.
"Come on dad. I'm a fast runner. We're starving! Look at Jade! He's just bone!" Gideon's father sighed heavily.
"The second they get suspicious, duck out. If you get killed…Green Lady help me."
"We'll be careful."
They watched as Gideon's father crafted fine light stone masks out of the slabs of mountain he had in a corner of the room. He painted them shades of blacks, whites and grays.
"Do not take these off. If they figure out your Green-eyes…"
"We get it dad!" Gideon took the masks and they ran off out the door.
"The masks are nice and all, but we're gross. We haven't bathed or have the clothes to even show up looking mildly descent," Jade said.
"I've got an idea." Gideon led the way to the house closest to middle town. "Cara used to work in the palace. She's got plenty of things we could wear!" Gideon knocked on the door. A woman with deep sea-green eyes opened the door and smiled at the two.
"Jade, Gideon! What brings you here?"
"Do you have any suits we could wear?"
"Of course. I've got plenty! Why do you want them?"
"We want to look more presentable because of what King Raine has said about Green-eyed. We don't want to be killed or mistaken for common thieves," Gideon lied.
"Come in then! I'll make you look wonderful!" She showered them with silk, cotton and velvet clothes. Jade settled for black silk while Gideon went for something more conspicuous. He chose red silk. They liked the other clothes made from cotton and velvet, but tonight they had to blend in as much as possible. They thanked Cara and went on their way with shoes, shirts and pants.
"Now do you think we'll fit in?" Gideon asked smugly.
"I don't know. I still don't think it's this easy," Jade said clutching his stomach as it growled in protest. They made their way from the lower city to the upper city where the buildings practically glowed. "I hate how we can't use magic. These blue crystals are beautiful!"
"Well fire is warm and it gives light. These things are cold," Gideon said as he touched one of the spherical orbs. They walked up to the palace doors and nodded at the guards stationed there. The guards moved their lances out of the pair's way and opened the doors for them. Once inside they broke out into a fit of laughter.
"That was way too easy!" Jade said with a smile.
"Come on! Let's go eat!" It took them quite some time to find the ballroom where the feast and the party was going on. Their eyes immediately set upon the large table with more food than the two would know what to do with. They went over to the table and began eating whatever they could.
"I guess you were right. It was that easy," Jade said quietly to his companion.
"Stupid Blue-Eyed. They're almost too trusting at times."
All stopped moving and turned to the balcony. Jade had to slap Gideon on the shoulder to get him to pay attention.
"Announcing His Highness! King Raine of Brynne, son of Paticlies!" All either bowed or curtsied to the king. Jade was awestruck. His mouth fell open as he drank in the king's graceful beauty. He was surprised that he wasn't wearing a mask while everyone else did. He slowly made his way down the stairs making sure to greet everyone. How he knew who they were Jade had know idea.
"He sure enjoys taking his sweet time; no one is eating or anything! I'm starving!"
"Shh Gideon! Do you want us to get caught?" Jade whispered into Gideon's ear.
Raine was standing in front of his throne when he cleared his throat and met everyone's eyes.
"Friends, it is a pleasure to see you all once again here. I hope you are all well and that Ule is smiling down upon you. Please enjoy yourselves." With that he sat down and all resumed what they were originally doing, or some were rushing to speak with the king.
"What a jerk. If you ask me he deserves to visit the low city and see all that he's missing," Gideon said a little too loudly. People around them looked sharply at the two.
"Quiet Gideon! Let's just eat and get out of here."
"Hold on a second will ya? I'm taking my time. I want to see all this," Gideon said as he looked around the room at everyone. "I wonder if I could flirt with one of these girls. Check out the rack on that one!"
"Ah fine sirs, excuse me but you are in the way of the cheeses," a man with graying hair said. "I don't believe I recognize the masks. Did you get new ones? May I inquire as to who you are?" Jade froze. They were going to get caught. They had been here too long.
"Fine sir…if we were to identify ourselves then we'd all know our political viewpoint. We don't want to argue here do we?" Gideon smoothly answered.
"I guess you're right. However we all know each other based on our masks. Like surely you know me." Gideon looked over to Jade in a panic. He didn't know who this guy was!
"Thyleus! Come over here! Lady Revivian and I were discussion the war on crime down in the lower part of the city; we want to hear all the details." The man was pulled away.
Jade let out a sigh. "We need to get out of here now," Jade said firmly.
"Agreed," Gideon answered.
"Leaving so soon? And I thought I hated these events," came an extremely silky voice. Gideon and Jade turned around to see King Raine smiling warmly at them. Jade cringed at the thought of what his face would really look like if he knew they were Green-eyed.
"I'm afraid my friend here is coming down with a stomach ache. Too much cheese probably. We'll just be on our way-" Gideon tried to say but was cut off.
"Oh nonsense. What else are mages for if not for healing? If I have to be here so do you. Come, let's find Orvin. He'll fix you up in no time." Jade sent a pleading look at Gideon as he was being pulled away by the king and from his friend.
Gideon didn't know what to do, he wanted to save his friend but he also wanted to get out of the palace and back home. He turned around and walked out as fast as he could without drawing attention.
Jade's eyes widened in fear. His friend had abandoned him!
"Orvin, this one has a stomach ache. Probably too much food already, can you heal him?" The elderly mage peered into Jade's mask. Jade turned his eyes into slits so the mage couldn't make out the color that they were.
"Not a trouble at all. Come here um…?" Jade froze. All eyes were on him.
"Uhm…" Jade sputtered. That was intelligent.
Raine's blue eyes became suspicious.
"State your name good sir," Raine's voice warned. Jade tried to escape, he tired to run. The second he turned his back to the king, Raine was already shouting orders to stop him. He felt large hands wrap around his small wrists. Tears began collecting at the corner of Jade's eyes. He wished he had never let Gideon talk him into this! King Raine walked up to Jade and forcefully removed his mask. Everyone gasped and a few women actually fainted.
Drama queens thought Jade.
"Green-Eyed, how dare you defile my home!" Raine yelled. "I should have you slowly tortured and when you are begging for death, I'll still withhold it until death claims you from your mere exhaustion! I should have your eyes gouged out and your tongue burned! Explain yourself!"
"I was hungry," Jade said softly. Raine took a moment to look at the boy's frame.
He had little more on him than some of the Green-eyed but he was still skinny and hardly anything but bone. His hair was brown and one length, a fashion choice that Raine simply detested. But he then realized that this boy didn't have the kind of money for nice hair cuts. He didn't even have enough money to eat. Raine had never actually seen a Green-Eyed before. The ones in the palace wore black netting over their heads so that their faces are hidden. He was surprised at how beautiful Jade was.
"Give him to me," Raine said. Everyone was shocked. "I said give him to me. Now."
The large hands released Jade and were immediately replaced by normal sized hands. "Come with me. If you have guts to break into here then I'm sure we can put you to some kind of use." They exited the party. The two walked in silence for quite some time down long halls and up stairs until Raine finally spoke again, "This is my wing. If you leave it you must wear one of the servant nets. I'll have someone bring some up for you. Also if you try to kill me, you'll be dead before the thought even finishes in your mind. I knew something was off about you; I just wanted to make sure."
"You aren't killing me?" Jade asked. Raine turned to face the Green-eyed.
"No, I find you…alluring. I like beauty and despite your hideous eyes I find everything else about you quite beautiful. You'll be mine, but you'll be a secret. No one is to know of your existence in the palace."
"Will I ever be able to go back to the lower city?" Jade asked.
"You do not interrupt me when I'm speaking, but yes, eventually when I learn I can trust you or place some kind of marking spell upon your skin. The latter being what will probably happen. This is my room," Raine said as he opened two doors to a large bright room. It was full of the blue orbs and the lightest and smoothest marble the mountain could offer.
"You have a wyvern!" Jade announced enthusiastically.
Crethar flashed his sharp teeth as he yawned. The wyvern stretched it's body and unfurled its wings momentarily before turning around and settling into sleep once again.
"His name is Crethar, and if you piss him off he'll eat you," Raine stated as he analyzed the Green-Eyed's expressions. The boy before him had sported so many expressions all at once it was almost frightening. "You're dirty."
"Do you not have water down there?" Raine asked not paying a bit of attention to the other's sputters.
"It's disgusting water. We wash in it, but soap is too expensive and since no one will give us jobs, it's hard."
"Why won't anyone give you jobs? I've employed many Green-Eyed as servants."
"My friend Gideon's father is a painter, and he usually sells his work okay, but other than him and those you have here, jobs aren't easy to find."
"I'm sure if you bathed properly and presented yourselves like human beings, finding jobs wouldn't be so hard," Raine said as he stroked Crethar's long neck.
"You think it's so easy!" Jade shouted exasperated. Raine's blue eyes pierced into the other boy's. "I'm sorry, but…you need to know. Have you ever even seen the Lower City?"
"Why would I associate myself with beggars and thieves?"
"And honest, hardworking people?" Jade corrected.
"You stole food from me, and lied, where is your honesty?" Raine smugly asked as he lay back on his bed.
"I never said I was honest. Yeah I beg for money, yeah I lie to get a scrap of food, but not all of them do! There's one woman named Cara, she used to work for you. She's so sweet and caring. She'd do anything for anyone even if it meant bringing pain and burden upon herself!"
"I know of Cara." Raine's eyes became distant. "She had a beautiful smile."
"She's beautiful. Not just her smile." Jade wanted to smack the king…but since his life was on the line, he decided to not push his luck.
"Your thoughts are so quick, it's like lightening," Raine said with amusement sparkling in his blue orbs.
Jade raised an eyebrow.
"I can't read your mind per say, but I can see how you feel. It appears to me inside my own brain as color. Only the royal bloodline has this ability, and it's not even that amazing. Come, you need a bath before you dare touch my bed."
"I'm sleeping with you?" Jade asked flabbergasted.
"What part of "you're mine," do you not understand? I think just to make this all crystal clear to you, I'll buy you a pretty collar to wear with your name engraved on it and on the other side will say, "if lost please return-"
"Okay I get it!"
"I wasn't joking. I'm getting you a collar." Raine pulled Jade's small wrist into another room. There was a hot spring with crystal clear water steaming gently in the middle of the large room. The ivory mountain walls glistened like diamonds.
"This is beautiful," Jade said softly.
"I don't want you dirtying up my water." Raine played with his bottom lip as he thought. "I know, stand over there and strip please. Where did you get those clothes by the way?"
"Cara, and strip?!"
"Cara stole from me?" Raine's eyes burned with betrayal.
"Oh…she told me that other nobles gave her them when she-"
"She's a whore, I should have guessed as much." Raine came to his own conclusions even before Jade could finish his sentence.
"She's not a whore!" Jade yelled.
"Don't." Raine's voice was firm. "Use that tone with me. And yes she was a whore or how else would she have those clothes…unless she stole from me. Strip now please."
"She's not a whore…" Jade said softly as he began removing the black, silk shirt from his torso.
Raine could clearly see each and every rib bone in the boy's body. His sternum also protruded heavily. He was so skinny. Raine had to look away as he saw Jade removing his pants.
"What now?" Jade asked.
Raine's eyes darted over the Green-Eyed. He waned to gasp as he saw Jade's pelvis sticking out heavily. Was it really that bad for Green-Eyed?
"How old are you?" Raine asked with a soft tone.
"And no one would give you a job?"
"Green-Eyed are scrum right? Why would a Brown-Eyed or a noble Blue-Eyed give us a job? We're apparently nothing but thieves and liars."
Raine didn't answer. He moved to get a washcloth and dipped it into the clear, warm spring. He poured soap over the damn cloth and rubbed it together vigorously. Once it foamed, he walked over to Jade and began cleaning the boy's body.
"That's soap?" Jade asked.
"Sorry, I just have never smelled soap before."
Raine's heartstrings pulled as he continued bathing his new pet. It was strange to him how human this Green-Eyed was…and here he was spouting all this "kill the Green-Eyed to avoid overpopulation" stuff. Maybe he would reconsider the expansion proposition.
No comments available ...