tagSci-Fi & FantasySurfacing Ch. 41

Surfacing Ch. 41

byEtaski©

Author's Notes: This story is erotic fantasy written by Etaski. I reserve the right to be listed as the author of this story, wherever it is posted. If found posted anywhere except Literotica.com with this note attached, this story is posted without my permission. (c) Etaski 2017.

Part 3 of 4. How about we go 'sploring? ^__^


Surfacing Chapter 41

"So, he's back," Shyntre said as soon as Sirana left to head back to the Tower.

Auslan wrung out his washrag with a nod and a small smile on his lips. He waited while he wiped down his face with simple, Dwarven-made soap. He liked it; not too much perfume, and the slippery suds rinsed off cleanly without a residue. He'd been learning back in Yong-wen how to make it himself and, acquiring the right materials, felt sure he could do so here.

Shyntre looked at him, mildly annoyed with his Brother's quiet calm, and he said very close to what the healer anticipated. "Just when we were finally learning a routine here. Now we have to start over a fourth time and incorporate him back in."

"That will only be as disruptive as you allow," Auslan countered.

"What, you're saying Sirana's and Jael's behavior won't change drastically?"

"Of course it will. I mean inside." The former Consort tapped Shyntre's chest once with two fingers and pulled them away before the sorcerer could snatch them. "You cannot control what happens outside, my love, so learn to find the calm inside first. You always carry a storm with you and it may exhaust you too soon. We need you."

Shyntre rubbed at the spot on his chest, the frown still set on his brow. "You're going to repeat that until you're purple in the face, aren't you?"

Auslan shrugged. "Or until you give it a try."

His Brother smirked. "What, like you? So should I expect Morix will never intimidate you at all? Or you'll never be frustrated with how much he keeps from us, using his position as a leader with enough pull up here to be more even than Elder Rausery."

The Life Priest stared down at the surface of the water within the wash basin, thinking. "Sirana seemed hopeful just now that would change. And we should encourage it and welcome it, but not demand it, as she recommended. You can do this, Shyntre, you have been getting along better with Gavin Adason."

Shyntre scoffed softly. "Easy to do when he's mostly out of sight working. But at least he and I have some things in common."

Auslan soaped up his cloth again with a small frown. "Did not Morix say equally as much when we first met Tamuril in the snow? In fact, I recall Talov commenting in Yong-wen that you reminded him of Morix when he was younger."

Shyntre scowled at the reminder, but Auslan wouldn't blink and continued.

"You said you were not used to males acting like females up here, but you have been taking cues from them all the same, and I think that is a good way to adapt up here. Why not view Morix the same way if he has been on a similar path as you and can offer guidance?"

"Maybe because he's *too* similar, and yet *too* advanced." Shyntre wrung out his cloth a bit harder than necessary. "I mean, I was thinking. Remember. There weren't that many males his age around us in the Sanctuary, were there? Never any approaching five hundred years. I'd never believed older males could be so effective drawing female eyes at all, until him."

Auslan nodded, listening to him. "Mm-hm, and what about Eallo? He was over five hundred."

Shyntre exhaled in a burst that was almost shock, and almost a laugh. "Further proves the point! He drew *your* eye, even. It's the opposite of what we were taught by the Priestesses. You get too old, and you are worthless!"

The healer's face warmed as he continued washing. "Clearly they were wrong. And Eallo respected our bond as we welcomed him."

"It was more you welcomed him." It was the sorcerer who stared at the water this time. "I just didn't want to be left out."

Auslan reached out to touch his arm, even if his hand was damp. "Maybe at first. It was courageous of you, I am grateful as I enjoyed you both. I also believe you left an impression as an active presence with the Rin'oveaus, not someone who needed me to tell him he was included. And when I...when I lost control of my aura to affect Eallo so, you helped stop him from impregnating Saida. Your power helped put things back in order."

Shyntre watched him for a few moments with those deeply crimson eyes speckled with gold, his expression leaning toward gratitude at the acknowledgement.

"Is there any lasting regret with Eallo you want to say now?" Auslan asked. "I am listening, Shyntre."

His lover gave it a long, good thought before he shook his head. "I suppose not. I could trust Commander Vian and it was obvious Eallo was devoted to her. You weren't any target of theirs, and everyone seemed...satisfied in the end."

Auslan smiled. "But now the older male is much closer. You are worried Sirana will prefer Morix and not you?"

"No, I think Jael prefers him too much for Sirana to get sucked into that particular role," the Dark Priest commented wryly. "More that Sirana is a target of an older male without an older female he answers to, and I've never seen that before. Feels threatening when we want her, too. As I said, Eallo had Vian."

"And Morix does not have Krithannia?"

Shyntre immediately shook his head. "No. Not the same at all, that's clear. He'll listen to her, but she has no hold on him if he decides a course of action."

Auslan nodded in agreement and waited.

"I'm not sure which I'd want," the younger male said. "I mean, I know Sirana will have sex with him, or with him and Jael, and I would make things worse for myself obstructing her. It'll happen, so taking your advice and considering the inside," Shyntre tapped his chest, "I don't know whether I would rather that Sirana keep any sex with him separate and not tell me about it at all, or..."

The former Consort nodded his understanding. "Or be brave again and witness their own bond close-up and first-hand to learn about it."

Shyntre's shoulders were tense, but he nodded, at least being honest with them both. "Yeah. That."

"I understand. Then will you make me one promise, Shyntre?"

"What?"

Auslan smiled. "Take from what Commander Vian said as well. Please do not allow Sirana to convince you to 'be brave' in this way until you have said something like what we have discussed to Morix himself. In private."

The sorcerer grimaced. "Don't I need to say this to Sirana first?"

"No," Auslan said, firm and unblinking. "It is the one who scares you most you must to say it to."

Another scowl crept onto Shyntre's face, but less as if he even realized it. "What if he doesn't deserve that kind of trust? After what happened with Jael?"

"Sirana confirmed that is why he has been gone this long, and we all knew this. He has been making amends and will continue to do so. Keep in mind he was raised by Commander Vian as well, and Eallo has been a role model since Morix was a child. There's probably more which is familiar here than not, Shyntre, more which Morix himself has been trying to tell you in his own way. You only need to talk and set boundaries, just as you have been with Gavin and the library. It will work, because neither of you want to destroy what we are trying to build here, yes?"

Shyntre nodded slowly and continued to ponder that. They finished washing and dressing in a peaceful silence until they were ready to leave the room and join the others for breakfast. "Guess it's time to see how he's changed after his Sleep," he said as he reached for the door.

Auslan smiled. "I expect he will have grown some."

Shyntre paused, not opening the door quite yet. "Again? He had to duck his head through most doorways down below as it was! Up here isn't any better, it was built by Dwarves."

Now the healer chuckled. "Do not worry. The both of us together can still stretch Sirana out until she screams, and he cannot do the same every time."

Shyntre's eyes glinted in surprise as a recent, lewd memory swiftly returned. Auslan could also see when his companion hit on the size comparison and looked confused a moment before he nodded. "Oh, that's right. You saw him ready to rut already, on the couch at Matron Thalluen's manor."

"He is certainly impressive," Auslan said with a warm grin. "But I also received the impression Jael discovered there was an upper limit where it only becomes cumbersome. You and I need only be creative and confident to please any female, we do not have to worry about hurting her or holding back."

The sorcerer rolled his eyes upward. "And yet I've already heard size is of more importance up here."

"If more males lead, then that makes sense. Bigger, stronger. A larger member would go with it." The healer shrugged, unconcerned. "Consider it a weakness if a 'leader' is distracted by comparing the size of other males, just as if we questioned the fertility and beauty of a Matron below compared to another female."

"A soft spot that will always get a response?" Shyntre considered, scratching his chin. "Or a moment to strike. You may be right."

"Indeed. Except." Auslan took his brother's hand. "Morix has the benefit of both female and male upbringings for comparison, and he has access to a broader view from his Dragon sire, unlike any other race. I believe he is neither concerned for nor too proud of his male size and that is why he is a good leader. That is why I believe you have only to speak with him about Sirana, and you two shall work it out."

He received another skeptical look. "And where she is concerned...you feel no threat of competition whatsoever, hmm?"

Auslan smiled. "I am not in the competition, Shyntre, and I will accept what is. I think her feelings for you are more complex and intense, and hers for me are far simpler. Sirana loves Ionne and wants to give him life, and both our Champion and Soraveri have my eternal gratitude that she is satisfied with me as Ionne's sire and means to allow me to know and help raise my first child as Ilharn. Of the dozens I have helped to quicken, this is the first who will know me by that name."

The sorcerer's pulse showed in his throat as he heard the ancient word, but he nodded, wanting the same for his partner. Then he squinted a bit. "So it is more about our son between you and Sirana now?"

"I love how you said that," the former Consort said, which made Shyntre flush hot in his face. Auslan gave him a moment as he tilted his own head in thought.

"I also love her for who she is, and what she has done for us. I know Sirana at least cares for me despite the difficult choices I thrust upon her. I know she will still defend me as she deems necessary, and I will endeavor never to endanger her again if I can help it. She sees value in my presence here beyond any quest, both as a trusted companion to you and in my desire to be useful and to aid others."

The healer paused on a warm smile at his companion. "I do not think she finds me nearly as challenging or perplexing as she does you. Or Morix, for that matter. This is the natural conflict we are discussing here—you and Morix—and I am outside of it. There is nothing for me to fight. I am who I am."

Shyntre grunted as they finally headed out into the hall. "When did you get so contemplative and philosophic?"

"Chatting many times with Ada and Lethrix while I was waiting for Sirana to return helped," Auslan answered with a smile. "So did coming to accept what I wanted most from this life, and claiming it free of doubt."

Shyntre looked like he had an idea but asked anyway. "What you wanted most?"

They were in the middle of the pathway leaving from the underground fortress to the Tower itself, alone but for some still, undead sentries standing or clinging to the walls, so familiar by now they were ignored.

Auslan slowed and stopped them with a tug, turning to press his palms to either side of the sorcerer's neck, trailing his fingers up sensually, partway into his short hair and then to caress the skin beneath his ears—which caused the shiver the healer knew it would. Shyntre's eyes gold-flecked eyes were fixed on him only until Auslan pressed a kiss to his lips. Then they slid closed.

The Life Priest sighed as he released them, saying clearly, "Yes, strong-heart. I wanted you."

******

Mai was stuck inside her head as she moved quickly between the kitchen and the eating hall, content as she always was whenever it was me and Gavin who showed up first. I was also able to convey that the Dragon Spirit would join us this morning with the others, and that had sent her into high speed in a head-turning mix of cleaning in between the obvious preparation for a good, large breakfast.

Gavin was sitting at the table with fingers threaded, his mouth resting on them as he pondered something, and it was an odd combination of Mai's distractedness—well before I mentioned Lung Jinshen to her—and Gavin's posture as he barely noticed her which reminded me. Maybe we didn't have a lot of time if the discussion proved longer or more in-depth than I expected, but I still took the moment to bring it up.

"Hey, can I ask you something?" I opened, sitting across from him.

For a moment he didn't appear to hear me, but as soon as I shifted forward and made as if to touch him—always something that got a response—he blinked and his icy eyes fixed on me. This satisfied me enough to withdraw my hand without making contact.

"What?" he asked bluntly.

"How is it between you and Mai?"

He narrowed his eyes slightly, and there was something really chewy there in his brain, I knew it. "Satisfactory."

"What does that mean?" I urged, both my elbows on the table as I folded my hands and leaned forward again. "Satisfactory?"

"She hasn't sneaked into my bed since you arrived, for one."

"Oh, good. And?"

I waited as he tapped his index fingers together and looked to the side. "I wonder if, with Deshi's arrival, he might convey for me the concept of meditation in a way she might understand."

I frowned. "You jumped ahead a bit too much. You want Mai to learn meditation?"

Gavin nodded. "She has been a sufficient, if crude, helper in my lab a few times, the occasional times I could use a spare set of hands. But I have been working on something for which she may expand her duties if she means to remain here. The trouble is her emotions and focus fluctuate too easily, thus affecting her aura and disrupting the connection."

He still hadn't started at the beginning. He truly must have been in the middle of some abstract thoughts when I brought him out of it.

"Connection with what?" I asked. "Does this have anything to do with why she seems to disappear at odd times and comes back looking troubled?"

Gavin blinked slowly at me and nodded. "Yes. Everything to do with that. Her grasp of Common has improved immensely since you arrived. Even as she lacks the confidence to speak it to you in more than a word or short phrase, I have discovered she can follow more direction than she used to."

"That was fast," I commented, genuinely surprised.

"She has been immersed in it and she is a young Human still," Gavin said. "I can tell you this is how we learn languages quickest. Be wary in the future if you believe some Human cannot understand what you say while they hover nearby for weeks on end."

And yet it was taking all of us much more conscious effort to learn Yungian phrases in a way she could even understand. This included some of Tami's help, as we had learned she and Shunraeki had spoken with Deshi at Manalar, at least enough to be curious about some of his words.

By contrast, there was the fact that we tended to speak Drow while we were "in back" within the under-mountain fortress itself, but had agreed to speak Common while in the "front," the Tower itself or outside. This was for Mai's, Natia's, and Auslan's sakes especially as we felt we had to get a common language between us, and it was working. We were keeping Drow unheard by those who didn't know it as a native language, however.

"Alright," I said. "So what are you having her do in your lab that she's losing focus and gets emotional?"

Gavin contemplated that as Mai brought tea refills and a second helping of a heavily herbed vegetable mash and shredded meat. She knew we were talking about her—no doubt helped by the critical look Gavin gave her, as if he was evaluating one of his more complex reanimates—and she stood stock still at the table. That didn't really help my case as Gavin shook his head.

"Rather a complicated explanation and better with demonstration," he said.

I could go with that. I smiled at him, then her. "Is that an invitation to watch next time she disappears from the plain work?"

Mai's dark eyes widened as she sealed her mouth, fidgeted with a towel, and then abruptly fled the room to return to the kitchen as Gavin frowned at me.

"No, it wasn't," he said. "Not until she has had some lessons from Deshi, if the theory works for her."

I plopped my chin into my hand. "You mean to tell me it is so complicated you can't even give me an idea what you want her to do for you?"

"And why would you need to know?"

"Easy. This is what the Death Spirit requires of his bride, and our goal is to make sure you don't run her into an early grave without a few gut instincts from a few insightful Elves where it comes to strong emotion."

"I thought your goal was to convince her she wasn't my bride at all," he groused.

"Baby steps," I said. "We aren't there yet. Too complicated of concepts thus far, but now we have Mourn back to translate for us and grasp the nuances quicker. Remember you asked me yourself not to use psionics on her."

Gavin seemed bemused how he'd been backed into this corner so quickly. "Your usual 'logic' so fuzzy yet delivered with such confidence, I see."

I winked. "It has served you pretty well, as I recall. So come on, before the others arrive. A hint?"

The Herald might have sighed deeply if he was still required to take normal-sized breaths, but I heard no such thing as he resigned himself to give me what I wanted. "I began thinking on the talisman I've given you to allow Night Mare to obey you out of my direct influence. That only worked because of your psionics. You essentially pushed directives disguised as a necromancer's thoughts."

I nodded, although I hadn't thought on it that way before. "Are you...pondering another way for Mai?"

"The 'how' is too complicated to give now, but I see the end result as a sort of puppet-master for a specific undead creature, yes," he said. "But we are a long way off from true success. All failures thus far, with added insight each time. That is the path of experimentation and the contemplation you drew me out of this morning."

My brows raised up. That made sense and also helped explain Mai's moods. The failures would feel far more personal and critical to her, even if Gavin didn't notice and accepted it as part of the process. She wouldn't realize he expected them because no doubt they still made him frown in obvious displeasure, every single time.

"Alright. Important question," I said. "Why would you want someone other than you to 'puppet' one of your creatures here at the Tower, assuming you manage success?"

He gave me a very tiny smile. "Mostly curiosity, but perhaps some long-term planning. There are more mundane Humans in this world than psionic Drow, for example."

"Ha-ha," I said dryly. "How in the name of your Lady do you manage to hoard so much knowledge while somehow being willing to share your undead servants even with non-magical Humans?"

Gavin considered the question as his fingers tapped together then he shrugged. "Because they are tools like your marrowcaster. You or Mai or another in the future 'using' them takes nothing from me and does not diminish me as the creator. It is a challenge few necromancers ever take on, however, much less master."

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