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The Murkuri clan Ariete was from was not as powerful as the one Kolbu was set to rule, but he was glad of that. He had enough reputation to see him through most troubles, enough power to take his share after battles, and far fewer responsibilities than Kolbu. He was quite content with that. Even waiting in Shaywood whilst Kolbu and Rune hashed out strategy and made plans had its perks. 

True, the townsfolk mostly avoided him like the plague, and he much preferred his tent to the ornate quarters in the hall or a thin straw mattress at the inn. But Ariete was a worldly man. The one thing that made it all worth it was the chance to watch his prey before he struck.

Silas had been an unexpected encounter. Some of the Murkuri had tried the other tavern, found it severely lacking in hospitality, and almost decided against trying the other one. In a town of barely six thousand people the options were limited. 

Upon arrival, though, they had been greeted as warmly as though they were old friends. Somehow Gerome, the owner, managed to keep the peace between the local Elbiyan regulars and the new Murkuri clientele. Ariete could admire the man’s business sense. Even so, he didn’t fall into the same easy sort of friendship with him as some of the others. From his perspective the barkeep was colder towards him than he was towards the rest. 

Ariete didn’t mind. Where Gerome was frosty, Silas was warm and friendly. He always had a broad smile and a mug ready whenever Ariete dragged himself in to drink. Soft blond hair and merry blue eyes framed his tanned face, and Ariete often went back to the hall wishing he could bring the pretty barkeep with him. He doubted Silas would be brave enough though. Much as he flirted just shy of overtly, Ariete had a feeling he was not quite brave enough to succumb. Perhaps he never would be. It frustrated the warrior to no end, but it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for talking to him.

He found himself alone at the tavern early one morning. A couple of patrons from the previous night dozed in their chairs. Silas leaned against the rickety old bar and flicked a speck of lint off the wooden surface, its grain worn to a smooth sheen by years of use. Ariete would usually wait on at least a couple of Murkuri to start drinking, but he had memorised Silas’ schedule and was eager not to miss his chance.

“You’re here early,” he commented as he found a seat.

“I could say the same to you.” Silas gave a tired smile. “I’m waiting for Gerome. I’ve been here all night.”

“Ah, I see. You must be looking forward to crawling into bed then.”

Silas made a face and shrugged.

“I am, but I’m not sure how much I’ll sleep. It’s hard with the light. My shutters have a few holes in them.”

Ariete nodded slowly, keeping his interest to himself. He had just the remedy for that  – and another one he could hide that remedy with so that Silas didn’t suspect anything. He pulled a leather pouch from his belt and held it up.

“Where I’m from, we use this,” he told him. “In my part of Murku there is a time in summer where the sun does not set for a month. But this knocks you out, every time. And it gives a lot of fun as you start to doze.”

Silas’ eyes sharpened with interest. He had deep bags under his eyes and he looked ready to sleep for a week. Ariete smiled. He was fairly sure the lad would take the bait. So far he’d proved far more adventurous than any small-town Elbiyan had a right to be. When one of the Murkuri had brought their nykkelharpa he’d looked ready to play it all night, and he’d taken some yvellin directly on his tongue with no complaints. 

“What do you do with it then?” Silas asked, and Ariete had to suppress a victorious smirk.

“You smoke it, usually,” he replied. “Some people chew it but it takes longer like that. Better for a night of lazy fun than to get to sleep. It’s called gordamask .”

Silas repeated the foreign word a couple of times, smiling faintly. Ariete opened the pouch and held it out to him to see.

“I would give you some but you probably don’t have a pipe, no?” he said. “Besides, it’s best to take with others. If you fall asleep too fast they can carry you to bed.”

Silas giggled and cast a shy glance up at Ariete through long, dark lashes. Ariete could see the gears turning in his head and the sight sent a frisson to his crotch. 

“Take a pinch, if you like,” he offered. “I know you like foreign goods.”

Silas smirked and obliged. The gordamask was small, rolled pellets of dried herbs native to northern Murku. The resin used to bind it together gave it a slightly purple hue. Silas rolled a pellet in his fingers, then brought it to his nose to sniff. His fine blond eyebrows raised and he cast Ariete a surprised look.

“It’s sweet,” he said. “I expected it to be more pungent.”

Ariete chuckled and nodded. 

“It tastes sweet too,” he said. “And when you sleep from it your dreams are very strange. But good, usually. Very fun.”

Silas pursed his lips and dropped the pellet back in the pouch.

“Ah, if only I had a pipe then,” he mused. “Or knew someone to lend me one.”

Ariete grinned.

“If you would ask me I would share mine with you,” he replied. “But no Murkuri would hand over their pipe. They are precious, and hard to make. Look.”

He stashed the pouch and brought out the pipe in its place, holding it up in the dinghy light so that silas could see. He had not chosen anything too out of the ordinary for adornments but Silas still mouthed ‘wow’ as his eyes traced the grooves of a dragon’s head, smoke billowing around the bowl. Ariete held it out to him. Silas reached for it, then Ariete pulled it back, tutting. Silas blinked in confusion and then grinned.

“Oh, stop it,” he chastised, punching Ariete playfully in the arm. 

“Why? It’s fun.”

They grinned at each other for a moment, then Silas made a soft ‘tch’ noise and looked away, though he was still smiling.

“Will you truly make me ask outright then?” he asked. Ariete blinked at him in mock innocence and tilted his head in query. Silas grinned. “Will you come and show me how your gordamask works?”

Ariete pursed his lips as though considering, his steely blue gaze fixed on Silas’ eyes.

“If you smoke it here you will not make it home,” he said.

“No, at my house.” Silas frowned. “Though I only have one bed.”

“Ah, that is no matter. I sleep rough all the time on a march.”

Silas smiled and opened his mouth to speak. Ariete cut in first.

“I would be honoured to share your first gordamask ,” he said. “I could do with sleeping a little more anyway.”

Silas shot him a grin and nodded. Ariete smiled and tucked his pipe away. He would tell the lad about the other effects later, when they were away from prying ears. The drunks seemed well out of it but he was taking no chances. He’d been working on Silas for months to build his trust. If he played his cards right, he could walk away from this with that trust not only intact but increased, potentially with the option of a repeat performance later on. 

One of the drunks snorted loudly in his sleep and Silas went over to check on him. Ariete settled back in his chair to wait.


“It’s not much.” Silas turned off the street into a little alleyway. “But it suits me fine. I spend most of my time at work or asleep anyway, it’s not like I have time to dislike it.”

“A sensible attitude.” 

Ariete cast his eyes over the wooden door set into the stuccoed wall before them. It had a basic latch, and the stains on the faded orange paint left him under no illusions as to what sort of neighbourhood Silas lived in. He’d suspected as much when the lad led him outside the thick stone inner wall of the town, but seeing this confirmed it. Most of Silas’ neighbours would likely be at work in the fields or sleeping, leaving them little chance of being disturbed. Silas lifted the latch and led him up a flight of creaky wooden stairs. Inside was dark from being shuttered against the heat later on, but a few slivers of light burst through and illuminated enough for them to see. Ariete let Silas open his apartment, then followed him in.

“I used to live in one of the taller buildings closer to the hall,” Silas continued. “But the rent was triple there, and I was too high up for running water. It’s cheaper here but overall it’s better.”

The apartment was one medium-sized room with a decently sized bed in the far right hand corner and a bench for food preparation along the left. A small water pump in the middle hung out over a bucket. Some cupboards over the bench bore various dried and preserved foods. A little cooking angle was squashed in between the bench and the bed, and a table with three chairs took up the rest of the space almost completely. Ariete made no judgement. Silas worked hard, but there was only so much he could earn at his job.

“It’s nice,” Ariete told him. “It’s very different to houses in Murku.”

“I bet.” Silas kicked off his shoes and bypassed the table to go straight for the bed. “My bed is my favourite. I slept on the floor for four months to save up for it, but I got such a good mattress and the frame was new, special for me.”

He shot Ariete a dazzling grin, his eyes tired, and the warrior made his way to the table. He pulled out his pouch and pipe.

“You will sleep all the better in it today for this,” he replied. “Do you have a candle?”

Silas yawned and nodded. He heaved himself up and went over to his cupboard, then returned with a tallow candle and placed it in a ceramic holder on the table.

“Go sit down,” Ariete told him as he started towards the cooking angle. “I have a tinderbox, let me take care of it.”

Silas smiled and rested his hand on Ariete’s bicep, squeezing lightly, and Ariete couldn’t wait to get the smoke in him. He watched Silas’ lithe form flop back on the bed. This time he sat up after a moment while Ariete lit the candle.

“Sometimes it is possible to have waking dreams when you smoke,” Ariete told him. “They can be confusing, but they pass quickly. I think they’re fun.”

“Any sort of dreams at all are welcome.” Silas smiled and watched Ariete pack the pipe. “As long as I sleep, I don’t care.”

Ariete chuckled. He took a thin wooden taper from the pouch of gordamask and set it to the flame, then brought it to the bowl and took a few deep draws to light it. Sweet, powdery-scented smoke rose as he puffed. Silas watched him in silence. His deep blue eyes flitted curiously over Ariete’s fingers as he twisted the taper to and fro to keep it lit until he was ready to set it down. The gordamask, now an ember in the pipe, glowed brightly against his face. He took a proper draw and held the smoke a moment before speaking.

“Have you ever smoked anything before?” Smoke curled out of his mouth with every word and Silas watched each wisp float away. He shook his head. “Try to draw it into your lungs. It might feel strange, but it absorbs best that way.”

Silas nodded and Ariete held out the pipe to him. He wet his mouth with his tongue as he positioned it and Ariete couldn’t wait to have those soft, plump lips at his disposal. The deep breath out before he took his drag hinted at far more common sense than Ariete would have credited to someone who invited strange enemies soldiers into their home, alone, and he breathed in deeply.

A moment later he was coughing. Ariete took the pipe as his shoulders shuddered and he hacked. When he quieted, he shot Ariete a sheepish grin, his eyes red rimmed and watery.

“It’s good,” he croaked, and Ariete laughed. 

“You did better than I expected,” he acknowledged. “A few more and the urge will pass, I think.”

Silas nodded and took the pipe again. He breathed in just as deeply this time, and coughed a little less. Ariete watched him in silence. One thing he had not mentioned, and nor would he, was that over time he had built a tolerance. Most Murkuri who partook could smoke ten times what he intended them to and fail to sleep. A caution, the mur-padiiri said, against reliance on it as a sleeping aid, or for any other reason. In Murku there were still some whose lives revolved around it. 

But Silas, having never smoked before, would need very little to start feeling the effects. When he passed Ariete the pipe, Ariete could already see his pupils dilating. He covered his grin by loading more and lighting it again.

“I think I can feel it working,” Silas told him. “It feels… colourful in here. It’s nice. Does that sound strange?”

“Not at all.” Ariete blew out some smoke through his nose, then made his mouth into an ‘o’ and blew a smoke ring. “The smoke is very pleasant. Different for everyone, but always nice.”

Silas’ smile was already turning dreamy but he still accepted the pipe once more. Ariete watched as his grip loosened and tightened erratically on the wood.

“Do you see anything?” Silas asked. “Or… I don’t know. Does it feel different to you now?”

Ariete watched the smoke billow out of his mouth and nose with rapt attention, then he nodded.

“I feel a little warmer,” he said. “But it’s cozy.”

Silas nodded, then he frowned.

“I think I feel that too but it’s a bit stuffy.”

Ariete nodded. He shrugged, scratching the back of his neck and glancing at the wall so as not to betray his interest.

“I would not hold it against you if you disrobed,” he said. “In Murku we are not so ashamed of our bodies as here. It is very common.”

Silas cocked his head to one side and frowned, his lips parting slightly. It took all of Ariete’s self control not to lunge forwards and take him on the spot.

“So it’s true then?” Silas asked. “Do you really bathe together with your women? In the nude?”

“It is true.” Ariete grinned. “Though they belong to no one. Even wed, they do not consider themselves owned like here.”

Silas fell silent and Ariete watched him think it over. He could see how Silas might not be considered a catch here, where the men were supposed to be burly and gruff and so serious as to bore a person to death. But in Murku he would be quite the prize. Unlike Wolfe, who was slender and pale from only moderate physical activity and hours spent huddled away with books, Silas was as strong as his wiry frame would allow. Ariete had been shocked at how easily he could lift and carry the barrels of wine from the cellar but over time he had noted the definition in his muscles that supported it. 

Even strong as he was though, his features were a little too feminine for an Elbiyan woman to deem him capable of protecting her. Ariete suspected he had little interest in women anyway. If he ever did take one to bed, it was more likely to be a Murkuri woman, similar in build and attitude to an Elbiyan man. But if Silas was honest with himself Ariete knew there could be no choice but to lay with another man. They had spent enough time on secretive glances and over-warm smiles these past months. 

Silas startled him out of his thoughts by reaching to the hem of his tunic and beginning to shimmy out of it. His arm caught in the sleeve for several minutes as he frowned, his breathing soft and slow.

“I used to dream of adventures, when I was small.” Silas finally got his arm free and tossed his tunic to the floor. Ariete thought that was it, but he started on his chemise without hesitation. “My mother told me stories of knights and I was so convinced that one day I would be a knight. I can’t, though.” He gave a sad smile. “Wrong blood.”

“You could still become a soldier.” Ariete bit his lip as Silas’ abs came into view, followed swiftly by two dark, pert nipples and a collarbone sharp enough to cut stone. Silas shook his head.

“I don’t want to fight,” he clarified. “I want to see the world.”

Ariete made a soft ‘ah’ noise and smiled sympathetically. He could easily see how someone like Silas might feel trapped in a place like Shaywood. For all its charms, it was quiet and predictable. It was no surprise Silas had wound up working in the liveliest place in town.

“Well, you are young yet,” Ariete told him. “And you have a horde of seafaring invaders for friends now.”

Silas chuckled and Ariete’s breath caught in his throat as the barkeep shimmied out of his braies as well. Thick, dark hair nestled around his cock, thinning as it climbed towards his belly button. The hair on his legs was only marginally less thick. Ariete tried not to trace the shapely outline of his calves as he settled himself once more on the bed. In Murku, Ariete had never had such an interest in simple nakedness. Everyone saw everything on everyone at one point or another. But somehow the fact that the Elbiyans kept themselves so strictly covered made the unveiling that much more enticing.

“You’re not so shy then?” He tried to keep the huskiness from his tone. Thankfully Silas seemed far enough gone not to notice.

“Well… maybe a little.” The barkeep grinned. “But I sometimes sleep nude. And it is much nicer like this with the heat.”

“Hmm. I could disrobe too, if you would feel more comfortable?” Ariete offered. 

Silas seemed to be having a little trouble with his balance. His head swayed ever so slightly from side to side as he kept his gaze on Ariete. Flush rose slowly across his cheeks as he seemed to consider the offer.

“It’s not strange in Murku,” he said. “And you’re from… Murku…”

“That’s right.” 

Ariete gave him a mustering look, then rose and pulled his shirt off. Silas made a soft noise almost like a mewl and his whole body tipped forwards, leading with his head. His brilliant blue irises were almost completely eclipsed by his pupils. Ariete stepped forward and placed his hands gently on the lad’s shoulders to right him. Instead, Silas sat up straight, then tilted forwards again so that his cheek rested on Ariete’s crotch. He brought his hands up to Ariete’s hips and gave a soft sigh through both mouth and nose.

“I think I love this gor… goram… this stuff,” he mumbled. Ariete tried not to move, lest Silas feel how hard he was and lose his confidence. 

“Why don’t you close the shutters?” he suggested. “And then I can tuck you in.”

Silas breathed a laugh and nodded slowly, rubbing his face over Ariete’s erection in the process. It felt beyond good but Ariete managed not to grab his hair and force him deeper. He helped Silas up and put his hands on his waist as though steadying him. By the gods, he was toned. Ariete could feel his muscles twitching as he fought to keep his balance. After a moment, Silas nodded.

“I’m okay.” He gave a half-grin, his eyes tracking over Ariete’s face as he spoke and settling on his lips. “It is quite strong, isn’t it?”

Ariete chuckled and ruffled his hair. Silas grinned wide, his eyelids drooping, then staggered over to the window. It was set behind the bench he must use for food preparation. Ariete loosed his belt and let his trousers fall, his erection springing up in their wake. 

To close the shutters required leaning out a little. Silas, clearly sensible enough not to throw himself out by accident, had decided that laying over the bench was the better option. And Ariete was absolutely in agreement.

Bent over like that, his legs spread enough to balance, Ariete could see his tight hole and the back of his balls. His arse twitched as though inviting Ariete closer. The firm muscle had just enough fat that sitting down wouldn’t be painful for Silas – and just enough that Ariete knew he wouldn’t bruise from what he intended to do to him.

“Careful,” he warned as Silas latched the shutters. “You’re swaying a bit. Stay there a moment while you get your balance.”

Silas muttered a curse and then, as though guided by Ariete’s cock, he spread his legs a little more and rested his head against the bench. His sides rose and fell as he breathed. Ariete padded over, quiet and calculated. He knew what he smoked was strong but this was even better than he’d hoped for. He’d figured, if Silas had a natural tolerance then perhaps it would just mean less of a struggle, or encouraging him to smoke more than he wanted. Failing that, on the other side, he’d anticipated it knocking him out after only a single puff. But this, watching him struggle, still happy and relaxed, completely uninhibited… Ariete couldn’t have hoped for better in his wildest dreams.

He glanced at the shelf above the bench. A couple of jars and bottles were nestled in the corner, and he quickly identified the cooking oil. That would do. He popped the cork as quietly as he could, positioning himself behind Silas as he worked his cock until it glistened with oil.

“Silas?” he asked. “Are you alright?”

“Mmm. Yes. Just…” Silas smiled, his cheek pressed into the wood. “Comfortable, I suppose.”

“Good. Here, maybe I can help you find your balance.” Ariete leaned forward to rest his elbows either side of Silas’ shoulders. “I’m not swaying.”

“You must smoke a lot,” Silas observed. 

“I suppose.” Ariete’s mind was only half on their conversation. His cock stuck out in front of him, his hips canted to find the angle. “I don’t so much here. It’s fun, but the sun at least sets in summer, and I need to stay sharp out in the camps.”

The head of Ariete’s cock finally lined up and he pressed it firmly, not breaching but more locking in his position. Silas gasped. His eyes opened a little more and his brow creased in confusion.

“Ariete,” he began.


“I… I think…”

Ariete put a little more pressure against his hole and felt it start to give without complaint. He was so relaxed, Ariete thought he probably could have slid his whole fist in there without issue, wrist and all.

“Are you having a waking dream?” he asked. “Sometimes they feel a little strange. In the legs, or in the stomach. A sort of…” He paused as though searching for the words, though in truth his cock was breaching Silas and it took his breath away. “...stretching. Or feeling full.”

Silas’ eyes widened and his mouth fell open in a silent ‘oh’. His hands clenched by his head and a look of panic flashed across his face. Ariete bit his lip to stop himself groaning in appreciation. 

“Am I shitting?” 

Silas sounded horrified, so Ariete gave him a gentle squeeze on the shoulder.

“No, you’re not,” he soothed. “It is just the gordamask .”

Silas seemed about to speak again, a sound rising in his throat, but he cut himself off. Ariete pushed in a little further. Silas felt glorious, all yielding heat and tight walls hugging every inch Ariete gave him. 

“Here, I will check, if it helps put you at ease.”

Ariete pushed off from the bench and the movement fed a little more of his cock into Silas hole. He breathed a low breath, pursing his lips, as Silas’ arse came into view. His cock was barely a third of the way in and the sight of it made him want to ram it home and fuck until Silas screamed. He slipped his fingers inside Silas’ cheek and pulled it gently to the side, aching as he stole another inch. Silas clenched around him and made a low noise in the back of his throat.

“Are you in pain?” 

Sweat broke out over Ariete’s forehead at the effort of keeping his hips still. Every instinct in him screamed to thrust hard and claim the lad once and for all, but Ariete knew that would be too much. Silas was not as far gone as all that. 

“, I… I don’t think so…” Silas shifted his hips and gave a low moan. “Oh, Ariete, I don’t know, it – I feel…”

“It is alright.” Ariete bent over him again and slid the rest of his cock in. “You are not shitting. It’s just a feeling conjured by the smoke. You are okay. How is your balance? Can you stand?”

Before Silas could answer, he drew back, keeping his movements smooth and slow. Silas’ hole rolled around him and the lad gave a long moan. His breath caught as Ariete fucked slowly back into him, revelling in the way Silas’ face flushed and his eyes widened at being filled. Ariete pressed in further. With his hips flush against Silas’ arse cheeks, he paused a moment, biting his lip and watching Silas struggle to come to terms with his confusion.

He thrusted slowly for a few minutes, doing his best to keep silent as Silas gasped and moaned beneath him. It was probably a good thing he had to be careful, he realised. Fucking someone as gorgeous as Silas under these circumstances was enough to drive him crazy. When he came, he knew he’d be satisfied for days. Drawing it out only heightened his pleasure. 

Silas was watching him with heavy-lidded eyes. He kept his expression neutral and reached up to tuck a strand of his sandy hair behind his ear.

“Silas,” he prompted. “Can you stand?”

“Oh, I… I don’t think so.” Silas bit his lip as Ariete sheathed himself again. “Is this… normal?”

If not for being balls deep inside him, Ariete would have worried at his tone. His words weren’t slurring but he seemed to be having trouble finishing sentences. 

“Yes, it is.” Ariete thrusted again. “Try focusing on the feeling. It will intensify, but that will help it pass quicker. Remember, it is just the smoke. It is not real.”

Silas took a shaky breath and nodded. Ariete gave him a second, then slowly increased his pace. Silas made a soft noise in the back of his throat and screwed his eyes shut.

“Is it working?” Ariete started letting his hips slap lightly against Silas at the end of each thrust. He was hardly railing him, but he could feel the steady pace milking him in the most toe-curling way. “How does it feel?”

Silas’ gaze had turned vacant. His soft cheeks were flushed and shiny, his teeth digging into his lower lip and his brows knit over closed eyes. With every thrust he whined. Ariete was curious to see if he could even formulate a response.

It had been a long time since Ariete had first tried gordamask , but he remembered it well enough. The warm, fuzzy sense of ease and wellbeing. The slowly rising energy. The complete absence of anything but contentment as life happened around instead of to him. And then, of course, the increase in physical sensation. His first time he had stripped off faster than Silas had at just how strange and intense it felt to be clothed. His partner at the time had given him a massage and he’d been close to climax just from the firm grip on his shoulders.

“Just let me know if it hurts,” he decided when it became clear Silas would not reply. “It’s not real, but it can feel real. I don’t want you to suffer.”

“I don’t think… it doesn’t… hurt…” Silas interrupted himself to moan, starting low and rising in pitch as Ariete fucked a little harder. “Can we… I need to go to bed… I– ah! Oh fuck, Ariete, I’m–”

Ariete breathed a long, heavy breath through his nose and gave a few final thrusts. This angle and the way Silas was moaning was getting him so close to cumming, but he knew he had to maintain the illusion of being a concerned friend at least enough that Silas didn’t pick up on anything. He was lucky the barkeep was drugged up enough that he didn’t fully realise he was being fucked.

“I’ll carry you,” he offered as he pulled out. Silas’ voice cracked over a shuddering moan. “Here, just let me make sure I’m okay too.”

Ariete straightened up and poured more oil on his cock. He glanced down as he spread it and grinned when he caught sight of Silas’ cock. It was rock hard, the rosy tip leaking enough precum that it had formed a droplet at the slit. As he watched, part of the droplet detached and fell to the floor. He made a note of it. If he wanted to leave no trace, he couldn’t risk Silas finding it later on.

Satisfied he wouldn’t leave any friction burn in Silas’ arse, Ariete replaced the oil on the shelf and swept him up in his arms. Silas shrieked, then gave a breathless laugh. His legs and arms hung limp over Ariete’s forearms as they walked. His cock bounced against his stomach and made a wet slapping sound as the precum slid over his abs.

“Ohh, Ariete…” Silas chuckled. “There are clouds... on... my ceiling...”

Ariete glanced up. There was nothing, just exposed rafters and cobwebs. He chuckled and deposited Silas on his back on the bed. Silas looked at him and seemed to notice for the first time that he was naked and erect. He swallowed, his eyes hungry, and seemed unable to look away from the cock he’d unknowingly had inside him mere seconds earlier. Ariete felt a twinge of anxiety. He spoke quickly to cover it up.

“There are no clouds,” Ariete told him. “It’s just a waking dream.”

“I don’t even think I’m awake anymore.” Silas licked his lips. “I must be having… yeah… I remember in the morning?”

Ariete snorted and joined him, pushing his legs apart and running his thumbs down his inner thighs. Silas’ cock twitched and he bit his lip.

“You are not making sense,” Ariete told him as he shuffled in close, lining his cock up. “But as long as you are having fun, everything is alright.”

He slid in easily and groaned as Silas’ eyes rolled back in his head. The barkeep’s fingers twisted in his mattress and he pushed his hips into Ariete’s thrust.

“Oh gods, fuck!” Silas arched on the bed. Every muscle in his chest and stomach were pulled taut, sweat beading along his collarbone. Ariete chuckled and shushed him.

“Quiet,” he chided. “Your neighbours will think you’re in trouble.”


Silas was breathing heavily, his cock so hard it barely touched his stomach, and he turned unfocused eyes on Ariete. The warrior suppressed a regretful sigh. He needed to finish up quick or the smoke might wear off before Silas slept. That would ruin everything. He reached down and began to stroke him as he thrusted. Within moments, Silas writhed, cum spilling out onto his stomach. Ariete covered his mouth as he erupted with loud moans bordering on shrieks. He blinked in shock, staring at his own cum as Ariete started fucking him to finish. His belly swelled ever so slightly in time with Ariete’s thrusts. Within a few minutes he was panting and emptying his balls deep into Silas’ tight, twitching hole.

“Drink some water, then close your eyes,” he instructed as he pulled out. “When you wake up you will feel ready for anything.”

Silas mewled as Ariete’s cock slid out of him. Ariete grabbed a rag and made short work of cleaning them both up, then fetched a cup of water from the pump and brought it carefully to Silas’ lips.

“Just sip a little,” he cooed. “Then you’ll sleep.”

Silas slopped up the water, spilling as much of it on his chest as he got into his mouth, then collapsed back in a dead faint. Ariete smirked. Silas’ cock hadn’t even completely deflated. He watched the boy sleep for a few minutes, his own cock slowly wilting, then took the rag and cleaned up the puddle of precum and any other suspicious marks they’d made. Silas was a good lad. Ariete knew that in Murku they would likely partner up, but there was little chance of overcoming the layers of terror Elbiya instilled in those who preferred their own sex to have a hope of it here. Even so, he had no desire to cause Silas any suffering. He’d taken what was rightly his now. There was no need for anything else. Unless, of course, Silas came to him again and asked for more gordamask .

The candle was still burning, so he took it to the fireplace and burned their soiled rag to ashes before blowing it out and replacing it on the table.

Once he was done cleaning, Ariete found Silas’ braies and chemise. He dressed his limp form with the utmost care before laying him back down to sleep. He debated leaving, but Silas had implied earlier that he could stay, and he wanted to be on hand when the boy woke in case he did have clear memories of their time together. After pulling on his trousers and taking a cup of water himself, he found a comfortable patch of floor and settled in for a nap.


Silas woke as the bells tolled three-after-zenith. It had taken Ariete a while to get used to the Elbiyan timekeeping, but he knew now that meant workers would return to their fields after lunch and those who had served them would take their own midday break. He cracked an eye open as he heard Silas stir and sat up as Silas rolled to face him. 

“Good morning.” Ariete yawned. “Or should I say afternoon?”

Silas frowned and stretched. He sat up slowly and looked around. The shutters were partially open, as Ariete had left them, and the cup was washed and replaced as he had found it. He watched Silas’ gaze trace the room in silence and scratched his head to cover his nerves that he might notice some tell he’d missed. 

“Wow,” Silas muttered.

“Sleep well?” Ariete asked. “It certainly seemed as though you did.”

“I…” Silas hesitated, his eyes darting to Ariete. “I think so. I feel… strange…”

“It hit you hard,” Ariete agreed. “One puff and you almost passed out on the spot. You must have been very tired. You barely got your tunic off.”

Silas looked down at himself in shock, then seemed to relax. He gave a sheepish grin.

“I was pretty tired.” A faint blush tinged his cheeks. “I… I think I dreamed.”

“Oh?” Ariete didn’t know whether to grin or sweat. “Do you remember them? Gordamask dreams are amazing, usually. Very vivid.”

Silas opened his mouth as though to speak, then shot a shy glance at Ariete and grinned.

“I do, but…” He bit his lip. “I don’t know, they were… strange.”

“Ahh, say no more.” Ariete grinned and gave an exaggerated wink, making Silas giggle. “Once in Murku I had a waking dream where my parents’ house-god statue came to life, climbed into the rafters, and started pissing until the floor was mud. I could actually feel the drops on my skin. Woke up two days later, not a drop in sight.”

Silas chuckled and his eyes rested fondly on Ariete.

“Nothing that strange,” he replied. “Maybe not even strange at all.”

Ariete smiled, then stretched and rose from the floor. He stretched again until his back cracked and he groaned.

“Proper bed for me tonight, I think. Floorboards aren’t as comfortable as dirt.”

Silas grinned, and before Ariete knew it they were going back down the rickety stairs and out into the alleyway. His stomach growled and he chuckled when he heard an echo from Silas. He was about to head out into the wider street, but Silas’ hand on his arm stopped him. He turned back, tilting his head in query.

“Thank you,” Silas said. “For sharing your gordamask with me, and for looking after me. I know it must be hard to get around here, so… thank you.”

Ariete smiled. In truth, any half-decent mur-padiir could make it, and there were plenty of herbs in Elbiya to concoct it from. The effect was slightly changed compared to the gordamask in Murku, but not enough to be noticeable unless one went looking for it.

“It is no trouble,” he replied. “You are welcome to smoke with me again any time you like.”

Silas’ pretty face split into a wide grin and he nodded, then the two of them set off towards the bar.

Ariete spotted Artux and Leaf finishing a meal when they arrived, so he clapped Silas on the shoulder and bid him farewell. Silas chirped back a reply and went to relieve Gerome. Artux cast an appraising eye over the pair as Ariete sat down.

“You fucked him?” he asked.

Ariete faltered. He hadn’t anticipated anyone ever knowing, but of course his brother would guess. The solution came to mind quickly as he glanced at Leaf.

“Do not say anything,” he warned. “No offence, Leaf – but you know how these Elbiyans are. I don’t want him to feel embarrassed. Or, worse, for others to find out. You understand.”

Artux sighed and glanced at Leaf. The Elbiyan raised an eyebrow at him in warning, backing Ariete up. After a moment, Artux nodded.

“Very well. None shall hear it from us,” he agreed. “Do you think he will ever see sense as Leaf has done? It is unnatural, you know, to hide like that.”

Ariete shrugged.

“Unnatural or not, it is his path, not mine. He can walk it as he chooses.”

Ariete glanced at the bar and saw Silas bringing him a drink. He grinned and thanked him as Silas put it on the table, then went for his coins. Silas waved him away.

“On the house,” he said. “Just don’t tell anyone.”

Ariet chuckled and nodded, then sighed happily as Silas strode back over to break up the beginnings of a fight. He really had been an incredible lay.

“You would be good together,” Leaf said. “Here’s to you both finding your way.”

He raised his tankard, and the brothers followed suit. Ariete savoured the drink with a glow in his belly and a smile. Some things in life truly were sweeter with no cost.