Journey to the West

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 


Chapter II

Scott woke to a gentle tapping on the chamber door.  He looked to the
windows and saw that the day had a gloomy brightness to it, but no sun.
Pushing back the thick fur covers that were on top of him, he was instantly
hit with the frigid cold air of the room.  He pulled the warm blankets
around his bare shoulders and wrapped them around him as he sat up and
swung his feet to the stone floor.  Fortunately his sandals were at the
side of the reclining platform, and he slipped them on to avoid walking
barefoot on the cold flagstones.  Robin was nowhere to be seen, but he must
have been the one who had tucked Scott in, covering him with the thick
blankets and comforters.

Again the tapping caught his attention and Scott stumbled across the room.
"I ask your pardon, my lord," a young servant said as Scott pushed open the
heavy oak door.  "I meant not to awaken you, but the high king requests
your presence."

"My presence?" the human repeated as he tried to keep his teeth from
chattering in the cold.

"My lord, I have brought you winter attire.  When you are bathed and
dressed the king bids you meet him in the smaller audience chamber that is
adjacent to the throne room."

"Winter attire?" Scott said as he stared at the young boy.  The lad was
obviously one of the western elves, having the characteristic yellow blond
hair and a healthy, golden complexion.  The boy was young, but Scott
couldn't begin to make a guess at his age.  All the natives of this land
were so universally attractive it was hard to tell youths from the older
Tuathans.  Unless one knew the racial characteristics of the different elf
tribes quite well, height was of no great help.  Several of the tribes were
naturally short in stature, making the adult elves appear to look like
children when compared to the taller groups of fairies.  Several of the
outlying tribes had been sending younger members of their communities to
Esbereth to serve as workers and apprentices in the palace and various
towers.  It was part of an exchange program that Robin had recently devised
to help unify the land and melt the tribal barriers that had caused so much
strife in the past.  Scott guessed that the boy at his door was one of
these exchange students.

"The night just past held the first fall of snow, my lord.  It is time to
don winter attire."  Scott noticed that the boy was holding a bundle of
clothing, apparently heavy flannels and woolen garments, quite a change
from the light cottons and silks that made up the short tunics Scott had
become accustomed to during his stay in Tuatha.  "Desire you that I should
lay out your apparel while you bathe, my lord?" the boy asked as he slipped
in through the door and crossed to the reclining platform, putting down his
bundle.

"Thanks," Scott mumbled and gathered the blanket around him.  He stepped
into the royal bath chamber and pulled the gold chain that hung from the
wall beside where a stream of water constantly splashed to form an indoor
waterfall.  In seconds the icy cold drops of the perpetually running shower
became deliciously warm and quickly turned the bathing pool that caught
their run off into a steamy hot tub.  Scott dropped the warm blankets from
him and stepped under the shower/waterfall.  The splashing water seemed to
drive the last of the cobwebs of sleep from his brain.

After scrubbing with a sweet smelling soap that was sitting on a natural
rock ledge, he rinsed off, and then stepped into the warm pool to soak for
a minute.  The comforting heat of the water almost lulled him back to
sleep, but he knew Robin was waiting to meet him in the audience chamber.
Scott climbed out of the pool and began vigorously toweling his hair dry.
It was then that he felt strong hands rubbing his back with another soft,
dry cloth.  Robin must have come looking for him and surprised him from
behind.  Scott closed his eyes, leaned back and enjoyed the comforting
ministrations as his body was gently rubbed dry.  He began to get aroused,
being excited by the way his lover was tenderly drying him from head to
toe, especially when the towel wiped the moisture from his genitals.  He
felt a gentle kiss to his balls and he groaned in sexual appreciation.

"Would you care for something more before I help you dress, my lord?" a
strange voice asked.

Scott jumped and opened his eyes, only to see the young boy from the west
kneeling before him, his hands caressing Scott's genitals.  "I thought you
were...What are you doing?" he cried as he pushed the boy away and grabbed
a towel, quickly wrapping it about his waist.

"I am attending to your needs," the boy replied and smiled with a sardonic
sneer.

"I think you had better leave, now!" Scott said angrily.  The boy slowly
stood and bowed, the same sneer on his face, and then moved to leave the
room but he reached back and pinched Scott's ass as he walked past.  Scott
made a mental note to tell Robin to get rid of this servant before there
was trouble.  Scott then ran a brush through his damp, brown hair, and then
checked himself in a mirror that was discretely hidden behind a screen of
verdant potted plants.  He then tightened the towel that hung about his
waist and stepped out into the chamber.

The boy was standing beside the reclining platform, holding out what looked
like a pair of suede pants.  "I can choose my own clothes, thank you,"
Scott said, his temper growing short.

"But my lord, these are the garments the high king has selected for you.
You have no other winter attire in the wardrobe."  Scott shrugged, dropped
the towel and reached for the garment the boy held.  The cold air blowing
in from the open terrace had already brought goose flesh to his skin and
was now making him shiver.  But the boy dropped to his knees, holding one
leg of the trousers open for Scott to step into it.

"I can dress myself," Scott grumbled as he put a bare foot through the
opening.

"I am your servant, my lord.  It would not be fitting for you to dress
yourself."  The boy quickly guided Scott's other foot into the second
opening and then pulled up the garment, sliding his hand up Scott's thigh
and between his legs.  The servant then quickly pulled the loose breeches
up over his hips and crotch, covering his nakedness, and deftly lashed the
drawstring belt that fastened them in place.

Scott looked down to see how the doe-skin soft garment tightly hugged his
thighs and dropped down to form flared bottoms hanging loosely around his
ankles.  Up to this time, Scott had only seen the Tuathans wearing loose
fitting tunics and jerkins.  He was not aware that they ever wore trousers.
The boy seemed to notice his interest in the clothing.  "This is winter
apparel," he explained as he reached for a soft, leather boot.  "We wear
this attire only during the cold time.  When the spring comes we will again
free our bodies from these confining garments."

"This is a lot more like the clothes of my world," Scott said as he held
onto the boy's shoulder and stepped into the soft boots.  They laced part
way up his calves.  The boy then helped pull on a loose fitting white shirt
made of silk then helped Scott into a leather jerkin or over tunic of a
similar material as the suede-like pants.

Scott looked at the boy as he tied the laces on the sides of the jerkin.
"How is it you came to be my servant?  I never had one before.  And what's
your name?"

The boy paused in his task and looked Scott defiantly in the eye.  Scott
silently cursed himself for his bluntness.  He should have known better
than to ask the boy's name.  Tuathans consider their names a very private
matter not to be given freely.  His human manners had once again caused him
to make a social gaff.  "I asked for you," the boy said.  "I am called
Dannemel."

Scott tried to think of something polite to say that might ease the
tension.  "That's a very nice name," he finally blurted out.

If fairies could blush the boy certainly would have.  He almost looked like
he had been insulted.  "It is the name of a female," he growled.

Scott didn't know what to say, so he quickly changed the subject.  "What do
you mean, you asked for me?"

"Most of the others, the boys who were chosen to apprentice in the palace,
they wished not to be anywhere near humans.  We have never even seen a
human in the west.  Many fear them."

"And you?" Scott prodded.

"I was curious.  I asked to serve the king and his consort so I could see a
human.  I wanted to know what you looked like, down there."  He glanced
down at Robin's crotch.  "And also, I wished to be away from the others."

"The others?"

"The boys with whom I traveled from my homeland.  They teased me and we
often fought because of my name.  They called me 'my lady.'  One even tried
to force me to couple with him."

Scott remembered being picked on in his own youth.  "You thought you would
be protected by working for the king?"

"I supposed so, lord.  It is common knowledge that you are a reversal and
no one fights with you.  I even thought that if I performed sex with you,
that they would stay away from me because I had the temerity to act so."

"Just because you have a girl's name doesn't mean you're gay," Scott said
gently.

"Gay?"

"A reversal," the human explained.  The boy finally looked down at the
floor.  Scott could see why he had such a chip on his shoulder and
understood a bit of the brashness he had tried to exhibit.  He wanted to
ask the boy about the others with whom he had fought, but they were
interrupted by a firm rap on the door.  Dannemel quickly stepped over to
answer it.

Rood stepped in and looked at the boy.  "Who is this?" the tall, golden
haired captain of the guard asked as he gave Scott a crooked grin.

"This is my new servant, Dan," Scott said.  The boy looked up in surprise
and then slowly smiled.

Rood nodded to the boy then turned his attention back to Scott.  "What
keeps you, lord?  The king has been awaiting your counsel.  He has called
together his friends and advisors on human affairs and you are needed.
Would not this scoundrel give you the summons?"  He tried to glare at the
boy, but instead his face broke into his familiar crooked grin.

"He gave me the message," Scott said quickly, "but I was still half
asleep."

"Which half, lord?  If it be the top I can shake you awake, but if it be
the bottom half I best send this boy for the king to get you to rise."
Rood laughed at his own joke.

Scott smiled at his friend.  "I think I'm awake enough already.  Let's go."

"My lord, you will need your cloak," the young servant said as he grabbed a
heavy cape for Scott.

"But we're only going upstairs," Scott protested.

"Take it," Rood ordered.  "The winter crews have not yet finished with the
palace.  The halls may be chilled."

* * *

"I see you have found our missing committee member," Robin observed as Rood
and Scott joined their friends.  The small audience chamber was located
just off of the main throne room and resembled a large conference room.
The group was assembled around a long, wooden table, with Robin seated in
an ornate chair at its head.  Scott looked round the room to see that all
of his friends were gathered together, and everyone was dressed similarly
to him in the warmer winter clothing.  "Come join us, love, so that we may
begin," Robin said as he indicated the empty chairs on his right and left.
Scott took one and Rood took the other.

"This meeting serves three purposes," the king began once everyone was
settled.  "The first is to gather you together and out of the way of the
winter crews as they prepare Esbereth for the snows.  The windows and
terraces are all being fitted with winter glazings and the hearths are
being opened throughout the palace.  I have also asked that your chambers
be stocked with new, winter attire and that heavy blankets and furs be
brought in to the reclining platforms of our human contingent.  I fear you
will be most shocked by the cold mountain temperatures of snow season."  He
paused to look at the humans seated at the table.

Sharon Gates was sitting next to Rood.  Beside her were Caseldra, the
daughter of the court wizard and her human lover, Jennifer Sloan, Scott's
best friend who had followed him to Tuatha.  Next to Scott sat Akuta,
Rood's second in command.  He, Rood and Robin could all have been taken for
brothers, all being members of the high born race, all three having pale
blond hair and fair skin, resembling humans of Scandinavian descent.
Beside Akuta sat his human lover, Alex.  At the foot of the table were
Melcot, another of the palace guards, and Rowana, his mate.

"The second purpose of our meeting is to acquaint you with my exchange
plan," Robin continued.  "As some of you may know, we have sent a
delegation of youths from the palace to the western kingdoms.  In return a
large group of young westerners have come to Esbereth."

"Foreign exchange students," Alex interjected.

"Just so," the king agreed.  "I feel certain that both cultures will learn
much and profit by this sharing of our young ones.  While the westerners
are here they shall apprentice themselves as pages, servants and squires to
the palace folk, just as our own delegation is doing in the west.  Please
do all you can to make them feel welcome while they are in our land."

"Concerning that, I have a few questions," Scott said, drawing everyone's
attention.  He related his meeting with Dannemel to the others and
mentioned the fact that the boy seemed to have been mistreated by his
companions.

"Then it is as you feared, lord," Rood said to Robin.

"As you feared?  What's going on?" Scott demanded.

The king heaved a sigh and then launched into an explanation.  "There has
long been discontent between the high born and the western kingdoms.  The
most recent problems of the past steward and my ascension to the throne
were another example of this.  I thought the exchange program would help
eliminate some of the tension."

"So what's the prob?" Alex asked.

"We worried that the western kingdoms would use this opportunity to send us
their problems.  It sounds as if we did not receive their best
representatives," Rood explained.

"They sent us all their juvenile delinquents?" Jennifer asked.

"We may still achieve our goals," Robin said, again taking control of the
discussion.  "The youths we have sent as our delegation will be our best
representatives.  In the mean while, we must keep close watch on our
'guests.'  I believe most of them have been assigned to the guard.  I trust
you shall keep them too busy or too exhausted to make much mischief," he
said to Rood.  "Further, I ask everyone here to try to keep watch on the
servants.  We shall make it our responsibility and try not to alert anyone
else.  I want not our guests to feel they are prisoners, nor wish I to
accelerate any suspicions or bad feelings that may already exist between
our peoples.  And, of course, this must not come to the attention of the
high council.  They give me enough trouble as it is."  Everyone nodded in
agreement.

"I have one other quick question," Scott said.  "Dannemel seemed very upset
by his name."

This brought a laugh from Rood.  "I wonder not," he responded.  "It is the
name of a female.  Would you not be embarrassed were you named Jennifer?"

"I suppose, but lots of boys have names that people sometimes associate as
feminine in our world, like Leslie or Marion."

"Or Robin," Alex interjected.  "And such names usually lead to at least one
confrontation.  I had one over Alexander."

"I have learned not to jest at a female name," Rood said with his crooked
grin.  "Perhaps my lord Akuta would visit with your young servant."

"Why?" Scott asked innocently.

"The captain learned his lesson many seasons ago in our youth," Akuta
answered.  "My own parents had thought to conceive a daughter.  I was born
to their surprise, yet they still bestowed upon me a female name."

"I can yet feel the bruises I received for my jest," Rood replied.

"I shall speak to your servant," Akuta said.

"Our final topic to cover is a discussion of a human disease," Robin said.
My consort has informed me that our lead healer may have found a way to
save people from dying of AIDS."  Sharon's head snapped up and she shot a
venomous look at Scott while the other humans looked on in shocked
surprise.

"That's kind of a simplified overstatement," Sharon said as she looked from
Scott to Robin.

"Then perhaps you will explain this cure to us," Robin replied.  "And I
must add that my consort wished not for me to bring this matter to any such
meeting; however I felt that it is of such importance, we all need discuss
it."

Sharon again explained her deductions to the assembled group, stressing the
fact that there was no observation or experimentation upon which to base
her conjecture.  She went on to express her concern that such a 'cure'
could never be tested or used.

"Is there any discussion?" Robin asked when Sharon had finished her
explanation.

"If this be a fatal illness and we have the power to act are we not morally
obligated to such?" Rood asked.

"My lords and ladies," Rowana said, calling for their attention.  She had
quietly listened to all the discussion up to this point, but now felt
compelled to speak.  Brushing a loose strand of bright red hair out of her
face, she began quietly.  "Long have I observed the high council.  We
cannot act in this matter without their awareness or approval.  Surely you
know they shall not permit a large scale immigration of humans to our land.
Many fear a resurgence of the plague that decimated our population short
seasons ago.  To tell them our plan to bring humans who are already ill to
our world would create panic if not civil war."

"My mate speaks true, lord," Melcot said.  "We dare not act thusly."

"The king's word is law," Caseldra, the daughter of the keeper of magic
said angrily as she rose to her feet.  "If the council likes it not, that
problem belongs to them.  We follow the commands of our liege lord.  If it
is his wish to open our borders to save lives, so shall we."  She sat down
again as if the matter was settled.

"But lady, think you of the strife among our own people we would invoke,"
Rowana countered.

"What if it be our friends who had this illness?" Akuta asked from his
position at Scott's side.  "What if the lady Jennifer or the king's consort
were so affected.  Would you condemn them to death if you had the power to
save them?"

"What if it was Alex who was sick?" Sharon said quietly, focusing her eyes
on Akuta's lover as he sat in uncomfortable silence.

Something in her tone caught everyone's attention and the quiet descended
over the table as everyone looked toward Alex.  During the discussion he
had broken out in a sweat, drops of perspiration beading his forehead.  Now
as all eyes turned toward him, he forced out a strangled laugh.  "No prob,"
he said.  "I could always be deported."  He then stood up and quickly left
the room.

 

 

 

 

 

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