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Traitors and Monsters

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Tyrans had this tendency, Ozorne noted, to omit the proper titles of the people they were dealing with. They rarely showed proper deference; if anything, they tended towards defiance.

Stiff-necked, the lot of them. That's what you got, Ozorne supposed, when you overthrew your nobility and turned your country over to merchants - a whole race of people who forgot the proper order of things.

Young Arram had been no different, but with him the typical Tyran attitude was less arrogant defiance and more a bizarrely charming sort of cluelessness. Ozorne had been drawn to the boy immediately, and as Arram progressed rapidly towards mastery and beyond, Ozorne knew he'd been right to befriend him.

Ozorne always did have a natural knack for making useful friends.

But Ozorne was somewhat surprised one day, when he looked at his younger friend and realized that the distracted sixteen-year-old was quite handsome.

(In later years, there would be nothing between them but cold bitterness and hot anger. Arram would leave behind his name, his standing, his whole identity abandoned along with his lover, and would die thinking of Ozorne as nothing but a monster. Ozorne would die much sooner, in a body not his, killed by his determination to kill the girl who'd had the arrogance to take everything from him - his palace, his throne, his humanity, and his mage, and he would die with his heart broken, still fervently believing young Arram had betrayed him.)

(But things start somewhere, and betrayals require a relationship to break. Even monsters and traitors are capable of love.)

(Some would say love is a requirement, to be a monster or a traitor.)

(Some would say love itself is the heart betraying the mind.)

Here and now, Ozorne, entranced, gently traces Arram's cheekbone.

Arram looks up, startled, and smiles.