The Sovereign Gods

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Rori: A Paladin's Kiss

For two weeks Rori stayed in her room and read tomes and collected various materials to practice spells. But not too many tomes and not too many materials because the last thing she needed was for the Paladins to accuse her of something. There was always a guard outside her quarters watching, waiting for any excuse to arrest her.

After her two week probation the guards were no longer posted but whoever patrolled the hall always made a point to stop by her room and check on things. Just in case. And occasionally, the chancellor dropped by with grimoires from his own personal collection. She wasn’t sure if he was doing it out of kindness or to check on her as well.

The only time she felt at ease was when Cyrus was on patrol. He was the first person to ask her if she was alright. He did his required routine check, of course, with a grin and a few encouraging words.

At first he kept his visits short but it seemed like after every visit, the Paladin grew more and more confident. He even seemed to step closer and closer into her room. At one point, she could feel the heat radiating off of him as he stood beside her desk one night, a candle casting the space in amber hues. They spoke in hushed tones about their day but somehow Rori felt it was more intimate than that.

Her heart would always race and her fingers would begin to tremble. By the time he left the room, her mind was so scattered that continuing any form of study was impossible. She wanted to ponder their next topic of conversation; what else could they talk about? She avoided talking about the spire. She wanted to talk about his family, other countries, desert sands, the world.

Now, with him leavnig back against the edge of her desk, her heart was pounding too loudly to hear his story. When his words dwindled and he got to his feet, she sensed the end of their time together.

Rori jumped to her feet. “Actually,” she said, tucking her hair behind both ears. “My roommates are attending a meeting or something. They always go this day of the week and they won’t be back for quite some time.” She studied his expression and when Cyrus hadn’t quite caught on yet she added, “You could stay a bit longer.”

“Oh.” Cyrus sat back down on the edge of her desk and glanced to the doorway. “In that case, I suppose my patrol is ending soon. I won’t be missed.”

“In that case...” Rori raked her hair back again and stepped closer to the Paladin.

“Yes,” he muttered, his entire face having gone red.

She stepped until his knees parted and she could press a hand into his chest. “If it’s alright with you, Cyrus... might I... be permitted...”

“Yes,” he stated sharply.

Rori chuckled under her breath and tilted her head down. “I didn’t even finish asking my question.”

Cyrus didn’t reply. He leaned forward just as the metal of his gauntlet wrapped around her back and pushed her into his chest. The softness of his lips brushed across hers in a nervous, uncertain kiss.

Rori pressed into the kiss more firmly. She even slid her hands up both sides of his neck to the soft curls of his hair. She tilted her head away and smiled. Her heart was hammering inside of her chest. And the moment she looked him in the eye, she swore it jumped.

His voice was low, breathy, “Can we really do this?”

“Can’t we?” Her eyes fluttered as her fingers raked back her dark brown hair. Perhaps he regretted their kiss. After all, they could both be imprisoned or executed for merely being in a dark room alone together.

His arms around her tightened, pulling her firmly against him. Cyrus dipped his mouth into the curve of her neck and trailed his lips across her skin. She could feel the heat of his breath as his sigh trailed over her shoulder.

“Cyrus,” she whispered.

He chuckled, loosening his hold around her so that she could pull away just enough to look into each other’s eyes. “Rori, I never told you how... how afraid I was when they took you. I thought they would keep you imprisoned for years. I thought they might hurt you.”

“I know.” She pressed her hands along his neck, sliding them along his stubbled jaw. “I was afraid too.”

“We have to be careful.” His gaze lowered to her lips and she saw the thought cross his mind.

Rori smiled and before she could say anything, the hallway outside grew louder. Mages were returning to their quarters for the night.

They both jolted away from each other. It was too late for Cyrus to leave her room without being seen. They might consider it suspicious since his patrol ended. A Paladin alone in a Mage’s room in the middle of the night? It would certainly get people talking.

Rori grabbed his arm and pulled him towards her bed. “I’ll close the curtains. No one will realize you’re here.”

He nodded but his lips parted as if he meant to say something.

The voices outside were louder now, laughter just outside the archway. Rori shoved him into the bed then slammed the curtains shut.

“Shh,” one of them giggled. “We don’t want to wake her.”

“I bet she’s asleep already,” the other scoffed.

Rori leapt across her room towards her desk and scooped up one of the tomes. She paced across her room, her eyes scanning viciously through the information, just as her roommates were stepping through the archway.

“Good evening.” One of them was smiling from ear to ear. “Still awake studying?”

Rori looked up and laughed sweetly. “I’m just about finished. I think I’ll call it a night soon. How was your meeting?”

“Delightful,” the other girl cooed. “You should join us next time?”

Her brows jolted in surprise. The last thing she expected was for someone to invite her to something. Rori teasingly replied, “Isn’t there a rumor going around that I killed someone and brought them back from the dead?”

Both girls laughed and exchanged playful glances.

“We don’t mind,” one said.

The other added, “In fact, our meeting was about you. You’re one of the most gifted Mages here and even you were arrested. Feels like just about any one of us could be next.”

Rori felt the heat in her face drain away. She rubbed her fingers over the tome’s paper and tried not to fidget nervously. She smiled at them and nodded firmly. “Yes. Maybe next time I’ll join.”

They looked quite delighted as they walked by. They said their farewells and walked through the open arches into their own spaces. She looked over the parchment then, when she was certain they weren’t paying her any attention, she tossed it onto the desk.

Rori slipped behind the bed’s curtains where Cyrus sat unmoved. He was sprawled out on his back, elbows digging into the bed with a look of utter fear. Before the curtains closed behind her, she saw the bright red that adorned his cheeks.

Her heart hammered in her chest. Her voice was painfully quiet, “We should get you out of here before they find out.”

Cyrus shook his head slightly. His eyes widened as he admitted, “I can’t move. My armor is too loud. They’ll definitely hear it.”

Fearful that his armor might creak, she crawled along the foot of the bed and sat down. Her heart was pounding so loud she could hear it pulsing in her ears. Not only was Cyrus in bed with her but any moment someone might catch them.

She raked her hair over her shoulder and tugged at it nervously. “Would it be such a crazy idea to remove it?”

He choked, the words barely making out of his throat, “Maybe. When they fall asleep we could possibly remove some of it.”

“That could be an hour from now.” Rori dropped her head into her hand. “Let’s hope they drank wine during their meeting.”

He groaned in agreement.

“I’m sorry I got you into this mess. I should never have kissed you or asked you to stay.”

“You?” He tried to keep his chuckle quiet but it was difficult. “I’m the one who always comes in here looking for you.”

She smirked and tucked her hair behind her ears. In the faint darkness she could see him looking up at her. He probably only saw a vague shadow of her outline but she could see the details of his features. Although, the colors were muted.

She whispered, “We could take off smaller, easier pieces of your armor.”

“Uh, yes. I suppose my gauntlets.”

She reached out and carefully pried the heavy metal and leather from his hands. As carefully as she could, she laid the gauntlets down on the floor between the bed and the wall. Next she worked on removing his boots and greaves. They were easy and quiet to set aside.

The more items she removed, the hotter her face became. What would happen when all of the armor was gone? What if he wasn’t ready for anything more than just kissing?

When her fingers fumbled with the leather ties of his breastplate, she nibbled the inside of her cheek. His scent was permeating the enclosed space. He smelled of musky sweat and the earthiness of leather. She could still taste him on her tongue from their kiss earlier.

At the sound of her name, her eyes swept to his lips. She wanted to hear him say it again, to say anything.

Instead, the warmth of his hand glided across the back of her neck. He pulled her closer, slow and nervous as if he weren’t sure he wanted to continue.

“Cyrus,” she pleaded. She pressed her lips into his, the softness of them, the warmth that engulfed her. She couldn’t remember the last time she had kissed someone. Was she doing it right? Was she too soft or too stiff?

The heat of his breath across her face erased whatever fears she had.

She moaned as sparks of delight jolted up her spine. She eased his mouth open with a sweep of her tongue then tilted her head for a deeper kiss. She could taste the orange bergamot from the tea he drank, she could smell it on his skin.

Cyrus tilted his head away. His eyes fluttered as he tried to catch his breath. “Can we really do this?” He swallowed hard. “Can we really be happy?”

She wasn’t sure she could reply. She wanted to lie and tell him that they could be happy and live peaceful lives together in the spire. But the truth was darker than that.

His voice hitched, “Rori.”

“They’ll call you a traitor,” she muttered, tears starting to well in her eyes.

“They’ll do far worse to a Mage.” His hand slid up her neck and cupped the side of her cheek. “I’m worried for your safety not mine.”

“I don’t care about their stupid rules.” She pressed her forehead into his and slid her eyes shut to fight back the tears that threatened. “I care about you, Cyrus. I care about you in a way I’ve never felt before.”

His other hand careened up the softness of her stomach and around her back. “My feelings for you...” He swallowed painfully. “I’ve never felt this way either.”

“I want this.”

His eyes opened slowly and his brows arched under fear.

She leaned forward, her hands resting upon the cold metal of his breastplate. Rori’s mouth settled onto his, nervous and uncertain. Her fingers returned to the leather straps, pulling the last one free so that the armor could fall away. It clattered against the cuisses along his thighs.

They both held their breaths, listening for anyone who might have heard. The spire was quiet, only the wind outside could be heard howling against the stone walls.

He grabbed the breastplate and set it down on the floor with the rest then began working on the last piece of armor from his hips and thighs. “Gods,” he whispered. He huffed when he finally got them then collapsed against the soft mattress.

Rori inched closer. She stretched out on her side and took in his parted lips, how plump they were from their kiss. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes.” He pushed himself up onto his elbow. “I’m sure.” His fingers curled around the collar of her robes, thumbing the smooth silk.

She knew it needed to come off but she wasn’t sure how Cyrus might react to the body beneath it all. Her life of reading books and researching grimoires made her soft with curves.

He must have sensed her hesitation because he turned to focus his efforts on his doublet. He peeled the thick padded shirt up over his head. Cyrus gathered her hands and settled them onto his feverish chest. She could feel the mounds of muscle and the curls of hair that grew along his chest. She let her fingertips explore down, lower, to the rim of his breeches.

His breath hitched.

She laughed, pressing her hand over her mouth to keep quiet.

Cyrus smiled then licked his lips. He moved closer, the grip of his hand pushing her back into the soft pillows. He lowered his head for another kiss but she pressed her hand into his chest. He stopped at her request.

Rori cupped her hands together, gathering an orb of soft light. It would be enough to see each other but too dim to alert anyone to their activities.

Her eyes devoured the hard muscles from all the training he did as a Paladin. His head ducked down in nervousness, the skin along his neck and chest turning red.

She reached up to the collar of her robes and curled her fingers over the fabric. She loosened the silk and allowed it to glide over her shoulders. As she revealed her body, inch by inch, Cyrus couldn’t look away from her. Her shoulders rose up around her neck, the silk lowered down to her elbows.

His fingers trembled as he followed her hips up to her waist. He tugged at the silk sash, pulling it free from its knot until her robes loosened. His eyes feasted on the sight of her. The way his breathing grew heavy, the way his mouth grew dry and he licked his lips, sent shivers down across her skin.

Cyrus pressed quivering lips against her own, undecidedly sweeping his tongue forward. She moaned into his mouth as he sank his weight down on top of her, heated body against heated body. She imagined it was what deserts felt like, hot sand coarse sand against her sensitive skin that molded against her flesh. Then the rain rolled in, cool and refreshing, kisses that skipped across her shoulders and into the curve of her neck. The rain turned to a flood, a flood to an ocean, an undulating tide that rocked back and forth in a tantilizing rhythm. Moaning winds softened into sighs, the storm was passing, and then all was quiet.

~:~

Rori could feel the warmth surrounding her, the weight of Cyrus’s arm draped across her waist. The curtains around the bed kept them hidden from view, casting them both in darkness.

Her eyes adjusted easily though. Elves were known for being able to see in the dark.

Her fingertips reached out to trace the smooth outline of his lips, the same lips that had kissed her skin last night. Rori could hardly believe that it all wasn’t a dream. He felt so real lying beside her, the cold chill of the tower easily chased away by his grasp. Her fingers glided along his jaw and up into the curls of his blonde hair.

He shifted beside her, eyes fluttering open and mouth curling into a smile. His voice was raspy with sleep, “Good morning.” He took down a deep breath and moaned. Cyrus tangled his legs with hers until they were entwined. “I’ve dreamt of this moment with you so many times, Rori.”

She grinned uncontrollably. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her figure fittingly into his. “Cyrus.”

He chuckled softly, breath brushing across her lips. “I’ve shared so much of my life with you. More than most people have ever known about my life. You know my childhood and about my family and... Gods, I’m rambling, stop me.”

She leaned forward and brushed her lips across his, her eyes slipping shut with delight. “I’ve never felt this way. I never want to feel this way for anyone but you.”

His large hand brushed through the strands of her hair, tucking it behind her ear. “I don’t want this moment to end.”

Rori nibbled on her lip. She feared any moment something would happen and everything between them would shatter. She spoke quietly so that no one would overhear their conversation, “I wish we could stay here but...”

His eyes slid shut and he leaned forward until his forehead pressed into hers. “So do I.”

She tilted her head and kissed him, a soft brief touch that sent delight running through her. She could feel an incredible jolt of happiness that she hadn’t felt in a long time. Perhaps, in time, Rori could see herself thriving in Sunstone Spire again.

Cyrus sat up and rolled the blankets away. “Somehow, I’ve got to make it out of here without getting caught.”

“I’ll check the dorm and see if the other two left already.” She turned to roll out of bed but he pulled on her arm. Rori met his gaze and the quick chaste kiss he planted on her lips.

“Be safe,” he pleaded.

“I will. If they’re still in bed asleep then... I suppose you’re stuck here.”

He reached up and nervously gripped the muscles in his neck. “If I don’t check in before lunch, they’ll know something’s amiss.”

“I see...” Rori raked back her hair and bobbed her head. “Maybe I can wake them up and get them out of here somehow. Cause a scene.”

“Not too much of a scene.” His brow perked up in worry. “If it draws Paladins in here...”

She chuckled at the image. When his expression turned sour, she raised her palms up in surrender. “Don’t worry. I’ll try not to make things worse. For the both of us.”

Rori slid out of bed through the curtains and put her silk robes on. The layers helped chase away the cold in the air, especially now that she was far from Cyrus’s warm arms.

She tiptoed across her room to peer through the arches into her roommates’ area. The first room appeared empty, the curtains open and the bed in disarray. The last room in her dorm looked empty as well until she caught a glimpse of her stepping out of the bathtub.

Rori ducked back into her room and tugged at the ends of her hair. Perhaps the other Mage would leave for breakfast soon. It would give them enough time to adorn his armor and perhaps by then she would be down the hall somewhere.

She hurried back to the bed and slipped behind the curtain.

“Is it clear?” Cyrus leaned closer to her as if he couldn’t bear having to wait any longer.

“Sort of.” Rori leaned across the bed and grabbed his doublet. “Let’s get you suited up first and then I’ll check again.”

Cyrus grabbed his shirt and put it on before taking the doublet from her. Slowly but surely, he got most of his clothes on. The armor took more time, especially since they were forced to be quiet. Every movement was painstakingly slow. By the time she got everything tied into place, her fingertips were sore.

After checking to see if her roommates were gone, she opened the bed’s canopy and motioned him to follow her. She raced over to the dorm’s entrance to check who might be in the hallway. There was no one, thankfully, not even a Paladin patrolling by.

She waved him over and held her breath.

He inched forward, back stiff and arms straightened at his side. The armor clattered every now and then and Rori swore her heart might cave in from the stress. As he reached the door, he reached out and took her hand.

Rori nodded, “Be safe. I’ll...” She wanted to confess how much she already missed him, how much she wanted to see him again. But she knew it was selfish. After all, they might not get another chance to see each other. It was too risky.

“I’m on patrol here again after lunch.” His lips curled into a smirk. “I can stop by. Just for a bit.”

She laughed, her hand jolting to her mouth to stifle it. “Be safe, I said. We can’t get caught.”

“I know,” he breathed, reaching up to squeeze the tension in his neck. He moved through the doorway, took glances down each end of the hall then leaned back and pecked a kiss into her cheek. “I’ll stop by later.”

Rori’s grin was too wide and despite trying to force it away, it only widened further. “See you then.”

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