That night's meeting had concluded hours ago leaving the massive polished stone room silent. The walls blazed with torches, illuminating hundreds of empty chairs facing the raised platform where Daxus sat upon his throne.
He had stayed behind to think. Apart from the constant threat of the Feral race, another more pressing matter weighed on him. One of the supposedly civilised Kings had gone rogue. The man was leaving evidence of his indiscretions in plain sight, flaunting his insanity.
The sound of footfalls on the stone floor cut through his thoughts. They belonged to an unusually tall man thickly layered in muscle. Marthus had once been a warrior for one of the Mesopotamian City-states. His height and bulk made his gait nearly impossible to miss.
With one leg perched over an armrest and a hand over his face, Daxus watched his Second approach through parted fingers.
“I have a message from the Sidhe,” Marthus said while carefully unfolding a letter.
Waving his free hand dismissively the King tried to rid himself of the intrusion. “The night is over and I require rest. Can this not wait?”
“I am afraid not sir.” With bated breath, Marthus studied his King for objection. Seeing no indication the man had heard him he continued. “The Sidhe have asked to meet with you on neutral ground.”
Dropping the hand from his face Daxus pulled his leg off of the armrest sitting up to his full height. “For what reason?”
Having gained the King’s full attention Marthus twitched with discomfort. He looked away from his King’s deceptively youthful features. Dropping his gaze to the unfolded letter he scanned the sparse words for the hundredth time.
“The message does not state a reason, only their desire to meet with the Queen and yourself on neutral ground at your soonest convenience.”
Tilting his head to the side, Daxus studied him with the cold calculation of a hawk contemplating a small woodland creature. The way his dark irises covered nearly all the white in his eyes gave them a predatory glint. Marthus absently ran a hand over his bald head wiping the beginnings of perspiration off his brow.
“Is that all?” Daxus finally asked.
“Yes, that is all sir.” His King kept him waiting for an agonisingly long minute before gesturing to the door.
The tall man turned and scuttled out as Daxus pressed his fingers against the bridge of his nose. He waited until Marthus’s steps had faded to clench his jaw tightly enough to make his gums hurt. A meeting with the Faeries was the last thing he needed but he couldn’t refuse.
Modern humans tend to think of Tinkerbelle and sweet small things with butterfly wings but the reality behind them was that they were not small or sweet. The majority were not even winged. What they were was a damn pain in the ass with enough power to demand that he took any request they made seriously.
Fixing an inscrutable expression on his face he ventured out into the halls. By the time he arrived at his room, he had passed a dozen or so humans tending to torches.
Two armed humans stood outside his door. Each was in darkly tinted cloth tunics overlaid in leather as a form of armour. A sword hung from each hip. Leather and swords would do little against an immortal but it couldn’t hurt to give them a sense of security. One opened the door upon his approach.
Befitting royalty his personal chamber was opulent. Stone floors and walls covered in richly coloured furs gave the illusion of warmth. A plump woman in silvery grey tones sat in a dark red chair beside a long fireplace. She set the book she had been reading down and without a word began snuffing out lights.
The sight of his vast bed dripping in black silks and plush pillows brought the night’s weariness on tenfold. Scattered paperwork he had left out had been moved to the top of a credenza in several neatly organised piles. Those piles were just another reminder of all the things he was supposed to do.
Groaning he tugged off his shoes then sat heavily on the foot of the large bed. Two figures lay tangled in the mess of sheets. He knew one was awake but the second was breathing heavy and deep as humans do when sleeping. “Must you keep them in our bed?” he asked.
“No, but I didn’t think you would mind. You are very late,” the second more familiar figure in his bed mumbled. She was tiny at just under five foot. Her hair would have kissed the peak of her calves if she were standing. Just then it covered her body like a dark shroud as she lay on her stomach.
“I missed you.” Her words were muffled by the way she was using her crossed arms as a pillow.
His attention turned to the human male laying beside her. The human’s heart beat slow. It was a sturdy thick full sound telling him that yet again she had not taken enough blood.
Daxus poked the boy’s leg. He stirred slowly, looking to the small woman beside him with a lazy smile. He reached for her but she turned to her side out of his reach. She motioned with her eyes toward the foot of the bed.
The boy dropped his hand just short of her face, his eyes lingering over her naked body before reaching Daxus. Startled and clumsy he jumped from the bed tripping on the way holding a pair of pants over his nude front. “I-I'm sorry sir. Must have fallen asleep. I’ll get the lights for you I’m sorry for my-”
“Just go,” Daxus cut him off. He forced his face to look pleasant despite his annoyance with the boy’s presence.
“Of course sir.” He nodded a bit too quickly showing his fear. He was new to their bedchamber and didn't have the sure confidence that some of the Queen's pets had. Daxus flashed a dazzling smile for the human’s benefit and waved him off with a shooing motion. Still clutching his clothing the boy quickly joined the plump chaperone on her way out the door.
Daxus undressed then settled into the newly vacant side of the bed using his feet to kick the sheets into order enjoying their residual warmth.
The Queen's tendency to keep her food in his bed was irksome but they were good bed warmers. They left an oily film of their pungent gamey pheromones clinging to everything they touched. There was no getting away from the stink of human anyway. Not being able to get away from it had forced him to tolerate it. Perhaps even enjoy it for more than an instinctual dinner bell.
“Was that a new one?” he asked sleepily.
Her full bow lips curled into a slight grin. Both large dark eyes sparkled with mischief. Like his, they were large with irises that covered nearly all the white. At first, they would appear black but in enough light, the true colour shone through.
If he didn’t know her well he would have assumed her sly smile spoke of sex. Of course, he did know her. She did not engage in such mundane acts.
Her face could have been mistaken for that of a younger girl but her full breasts and rounded hips told the truth. She had been turned at an age-old enough to think of carnal things yet she rarely did.
“Not going to answer me?” he teased not really caring if she answered or not. Fatigue gripped him. All he wanted was to hold her for comfort and sleep.
“I doubt you care,” her tone was also teasing. She gave him what he wanted by turning her bare backside to him and letting his arms pull her close so that she fit close to his front.
“No, I suppose it doesn’t matter,” the King murmured against the top of her head. She did not harbour more than a passing fancy for any of her pets.
Secure in the embrace of her skin he slept, his mind quieted by her touch and body heat.
When he woke the fire had burned down to embers. An eager pulling uncomfortable tightness at the corners of his skin told him the sun was close to setting. That feeling was worse than any alarm clock. There was no escaping or shutting off the jittery restless feeling it caused.
No, he couldn't think about that yet. Pushing the impending meeting from his mind he became aware that he was alone in bed. Setting his back against the headboard he searched the bedchamber and found her standing in the dim light of the smouldering embers.
She was standing still as death by the hearth. Even at the worst of times, he could see why others saw her as stunning. Unmoving she assumed the perfect beauty of a statue carved from the finest marble. The perfect representation of woman lovingly teased from the heart of a stone by hammer and chisel, Venus reborn in stunning 3D. Most would think she was beautiful but his vision was clouded by experience. His pretty little analogue in all her feigned naivety and false innocence was anything but beautiful.
Pulling himself from the soft inviting bed he dressed in a pair of pants leaving his top bare for the time being. Running his fingers through his hip length hair to settle it into a more presentable state he opened the chamber doors. Two plump greying women filed in with two humans at their heels. The taller of the two women went about lighting the room. The second attended to the Queen.
With the three of them busy he turned his attention to the humans. The male's dark hair and silly grin were familiar. The female with long brown hair and bold eye contact was not.
Daxus watched the boy go directly to the bed and climb in as if he owned it. As one of the Queen’s favourites, he had been there ten times that month alone.
The King turned his attention to the woman who kept her gaze boldly locked on his. Standing in front of him her hand moved to touch his chest affirming that she was indeed bold.
“Where do you wish me, my King?” Her sultry voice was thick with anticipation. After giving blood she could indulge in hot baths, soft silks and a plethora of foods more delicious than any in the villages.
She would have to enjoy it while it lasted. He would not pick her again anytime soon if at all. Unlike the Queen, he used new humans every time he fed. If he had ever used the same one twice he was unaware. They were all far too similar. Male or female it didn’t matter, they all blurred together.
“The bed and take off your robe.”
She smiled at his command dropping her robe as she walked to the bed where her fellow human lay cocooned in sheets. The room was chilled. He watched her skin prickle with goosebumps.
Abruptly his hands were on her thighs turning her toward him making her gasp and reach for his arms to steady herself. He pushed himself between her knees so that her face was inches from his chest. He could sense an air of sharp fear due to his quickness and smell the perfume of her arousal due to his nearness. The way both combined with the pong of her natural human scent made his stomach clench.
He knew his eyes were beginning to darken as he watched her breasts move while she removed a hand from his arm to brush a lock of brown hair from her neck. The woman’s pretty green eyes held his in a steady gaze. She was daring, he liked that. The green of her eyes was also very appealing. He had always liked green.
He glanced at the boy behind her who was watching them curiously. The boy grew too sure of his position. That night his sureness was annoyingly obvious. He was watching with heavy-lidded eyes. Arousal wafting off him in unrestrained clouds. The way it was showing very visible on his body under the sheets made it hard to enjoy the woman in his hands.
Out of all her pets, the dark-haired boy had been with them the longest. In his early twenties, he would soon be older than Daxus had been when he stopped ageing. Too old for her tastes and too annoying for Daxus's.
Eyes still on the boy, Daxus leaned down bared his fangs and sunk them into the woman’s neck bringing an almost bird-like peep from her. He was hoping to make the human look away but the boy only shifted still watching unabashedly.
The moment he removed his teeth from her flesh and began to drink the woman’s small pain sounds turned into something more urgent. He closed his eyes and tried to forget about the boy’s presence. Taking blood was too carnal a thing to have an audience. He preferred to keep it private.
The human pressed her mouth against his chest. Grasping him around the hips with her free hand she pulled him closer. Nicking his own tongue on his teeth to draw a drop of blood he slowly licked at the wounds he had made closing them. She was still shivering and moaning softly when his tongue left her skin.
“Please,” she cooed and tugged at his hips. He had brought her through his feeding but it clearly wasn't enough for her. He was hard and unfinished yet he wasn't tempted to sink more than teeth into her.
“Enough, go now,” he growled. The woman had a moment of shock then composed herself quickly enough to clumsily redress before leaving. The boy, on the other hand, looked as if he was stupidly going to make a comment. He was lucky enough to have his attention diverted by his Queen's arrival.
The women plopped her down on the bed. Her eyes were unfocused and distant. She had been that way for some time. Halfway through the night her blank hungry stare would come and remain until she fed again. Daxus had no such compunctions about taking enough blood. After he drank his food would be uncoordinated and need to sleep but he would be full enough to hold him until he fed next.
He walked to their side of the bed and laid his arm across her shoulders playing with the braids of her hair against the cotton of her robe. “You look pretty tonight Ghanny,” he offered then kissed her cheek.
“Thank you.” She smiled, her glassy liquid indigo eyes blinking up at him. “I want to go to the baths with you.”
“No girl, you cannot until you have some drink,” one of the women said pointing to the boy sprawled out smirking up at her.
Smartass fucking boy. Daxus grimaced internally keeping his face carefully free of the violent thoughts prancing through his mind.
Ghanny pouted those fetchingly full red lips of hers but failed to hide that the sadness was entirely manufactured.
“Ida is right, drink then bathe,” Daxus told her in the soft voice he reserved for her. She looked at the boy. The corners of her lips drifted upward slow and cold as winter.
“I like Caleb,” she purred, pulling away from his arm drawing herself toward the expectant boy.
That’s right, Caleb was the boy’s name. Daxus had heard it a hundred times over yet had forgotten it each time. He didn't bother learning any of their names. His Queen knew them well enough and they never stayed long. Five or six years was a mere blink of time to him, hardly long enough to pay attention to silly things like names.
While he could appreciate the beauty of her boys, he was not prone to keep them as pets. The way she cooed at them and stroked them like lapdogs was distasteful. He preferred to keep them at an arm’s length lest they become infatuated.
Human minds that were too stuck with the idea of immortality would eventually be broken by it. Once they knew immortality was achievable they would crave it and even grew to hate immortals for keeping it from them. They were stupid naive beasts.
“There is something we need to discuss.” His words fell on deaf ears. She was well into her blood lust. While near-starvation she wasn't going to be in any state to listen to anything he had to say.
The dark of her eyes was already bleeding their colour into what little whites she had, turning the entire eye black. The sight told him she was more interested in blood than him. Soon she would strike and the boy would be brought to a frantic pleasure just as the woman had been. Daxus did not want to be there when the moment happened. She was descending on the boy by the time he slipped out into the hall.
His night was already shaping up to be a busy one. Holding court was always time-consuming but along with the usual night’s meeting, he had to find out everything he could about the Sidhe’s odd request. Gathering information about the Fae was close to impossible. They were secretive and fiercely loyal to their own race.
No matter how important other matters were he first had to address his urgent need to climb into a hot bath and wash the thick coating of human scent from his skin. Sitting through hours of inane prattle was already torturous. He had nearly rock-solid control over his predatory instincts but having to deal with his subjects petty problems while wearing a coating of pungent human pheromones would push his already tight nerves to the breaking point.