Kevyl adjusted the furs on his bed. He had woken from another nightmare about the impending handfasting with Maikyl. Two weeks had passed since the envoys had been sent out with the news of the impending handfasting.
Each night since, Kevyl’s sleep had been interrupted by nightmares of mistakes made during the ceremony, mistaken quotes during the feast causing wars, and other things that anyone would recognize as ‘cold feet’ or ‘jitters’.
Looking out the window, he saw the horizon starting to lighten and letout a sigh as he got up and dressed for the day.
The official Pamnyki delegation was to arrive later in the day and he needed to be dressed in his finest clothes ready to receive his people. As he got dressed and thought of his people, he chuckled to himself. He hadn’t seen any other Pamnyki except for his parents and they had died many years ago. His parents had been part of a delegation to the Lodge as part of a peace treaty between the two nations. They were part of the support staff that had come with the Pamnyki royal representative to sit on the Lodge’s Council. The accord between the two nations had been hammered out and implemented within two years and had been quietly observed for the last thirty years.
Kevyl’s birth in Talija had caused some discussion amongst the delegation as his parents had asked for him to be declared Talijali and accepted as a citizen of Talijali. After much discussion by the Lodge Council, it was decided that Kevyl would be accepted but his parents would not. His upbringing was no different than any other child in the Lodge, he attended school and worked in the evening helping his parents.
When he was nine, his mother had fallen ill and suddenly passed away in the night. Kevyl took responsibility for his mother’s work and soon was doing her share of the work in support of the envoy when not at school. He quickly earned a reputation as someone who was honest, thorough, and discreet. Just after his 17th birthday, Kevyl’s father was killed when the envoy’s entourage was attacked en route to Brobe. Word reached the Lodge and Kevyl was brought on to the Lodge staff.
It was while he was learning the Lodge’s ways and patterns that he first had seen Maikyl in the dining hall. He was running out a new kettle of soup from the kitchen when he saw Maikyl. Tall and lithe, he stood out among the crowd in the dining hall with his long flowing black hair behind him and piercing blue eyes scanning the assembled group. The other thing that made him stand out was that he was only wearing his breeches. He had never given much consideration to finding a mate or enjoying the flesh as others seemed to be hung up on, but seeing Maikyl walking through the hall with such confidence distracted him. He set down the kettle and quickly retreated to the kitchen to wash his hands until the bulge in his breeches subsided.
Kevyl had redoubled his devotion to his job, slowly forgetting about Maikyl, and within a few years had become the chief of staff in the Lodge. He was able to keep a finger on the pulse of the Lodge based on what events were coming up but he was out of the day to day loop of the Lodge. He hadn’t thought of Maikyl until four years ago when Corij, the previous leader of Taljia has passed away.
The Lodge Council met in secret having summoned all of the Elpas, the High Priests, from across Talija. After meeting for over three non-stop days, not even taking meals, the new Most Revered Elpa had been chosen by the Great Wolf. The ways of the Choosing were some of the closest held secrets in all of Talija. Elpas were trained in the ways, but the Lodge was only told enough to understand what would happen when a Choosing was necessary.
A giant roar went up through all of the Lodge from all that were gathered when flag of Corij was lowered one last time. The flag would only be lowered if the Lodge had been defeated or if a new leader had been chosen.
Kevyl had been in the crowd when the new Most Revered Elpa was announced and was taken aback to see it was Maikyl. He hadn’t changed in the ten years since Kevyl had last seen him as from what looked to be hints of grey hair in his temples.
Maikyl’s first act had been to shake up the Lodge hierarchy. He replaced many of the Lodge Council members with those who were nearly as knowledgeable of Talija and the Lodge but much younger. At only 34, Maikyl was one of the youngest leaders of the Lodge in the history of Talija and he was showing it in his leadership style. He made Kevyl his personal manservant and put him charge of the Lodge Court. Kevyl was given full run of the Lodge to do Maikyl’s business. In the ten years that has passed since Maikyl’s Choosing, both men had grown from young adults into respected mature men. Kevyl’s initial lust for Maikyl had grown into love and then to a devotion that would see Kevyl give his life to protect Maikyl. Kevyl’s attention to detail, boundless intellect, and nearly perfect memory had made him invaluable to Maikyl. Maikyl, however, had seen more than a great manservant in Kevyl. Kevyl’s Pamnyki ancestry made him stand out, exotic and seductive. Kevyl felt the same way about Maikyl, his tall dark features and magnetic charisma were a powerful aphrodisiac but his position in the Lodge stopped him from every approaching Maikyl directly. The best Kevyl felt he could do was to lay out subtle hints about his true feelings for Maikyl.
Kevyl’s attention was returned back to the here and now as the blast of horns from the gates announced the arrival of the Pamnyki entourage.
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