|City in the Sun
Author: Jennifer Leigh PM
Exiled from her homeland and the man she loves, Mae's reunion with her long-estranged brother is shadowed by his newfound happiness and her persistent loneliness. Fortunately, King Regan arrives to offer her a proposition she simply cannot refuse...Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,805 - Reviews: 197 - Favs: 54 - Follows: 22 - Updated: 05-06-09 - Published: 04-12-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2659566
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Stay tuned for what will probably be a lengthy end note following this Epilogue.
"This is illegal, you know," Emry muttered.
"Oh, please. Who's around to see?" Cait retorted, rolling her eyes. "I swear, you are such a stiff sometimes, Em."
Almost as if to confirm her words, Emry's back stiffened, and he said haughtily, "I am not."
Geybrial couldn't help it. He laughed at how easily his brother had fallen into that trap and said, "Yes, actually, you are."
His brother glared at him, but Emmi, as usual, that came to his defense. "Do not make me have to tell everyone about that time when you were twelve, Geybrial."
A lot had happened to Geybrial when he was twelve, but it didn't really matter. Whatever it was, Emmi had picked it out of his brain, and it was no doubt the absolutely most embarrassing thing that had happened to him that entire year. "Sometimes, I really hate that you married my brother," he grumbled. "But then I remember that my brother is actually having sex – and with a woman no less – and I am reminded of why I like you."
"Do you mind?"
All of the Damarkins, even those who hadn't been involved in the conversation, shifted guiltily in their chairs at Regan's annoyed query.
Everyone but Shaun, anyway. "Hey, the two of you talked through my whole damn wedding. Don't think I didn't notice," he remarked. "Why the hell should we keep quiet during yours? It's not even a real wedding anyway."
His wife kicked him. Hard. Shaun looked like he was about to start crying from the pain – his wife was incredibly strong – and Geybrial was reminded of why he liked Cait.
Though Regan continued to look annoyed from where he stood in front of the pear tree out in Mak's gardens – the very one at which she and Grif had been married – his mate stood beside him with an amused expression on her lovely face. She wore a dress of pure and flowing white that almost seemed like an extension of her pale and flawless skin, and though her face was completely devoid of her usual makeup, she had never looked so radiant.
Behind them, the Priest who was attempting to marry them – albeit without any legal documentation; apparently, it was acceptable for the king to marry a Xesomelian in the eyes of God, just not in the eyes of Kittish law – looked entirely unsurprised by the disruption in the ceremony. He knew the Damarkins all too well.
Except when he started to speak again, the next major interruption did not come from a Damarkin.
"Well, hell. Looks like I almost missed it."
All of the guests – which included all of the Damarkins, their spouses, Doc Galbraith, Lyskander, and Col – turned at the sound of this new voice. Only Grif and Col did not look confused by the new arrival, though they did look slightly concerned. When Geybrial turned back towards the almost-wedded couple, he saw that there was a stricken expression on Mae's face, and she looked like she was fighting the urge to go running past the wedding guests and towards this man.
"Ruy," he heard her say softly.
Regan almost immediately took her hand in his and straightened protectively beside her.
Apparently, this dun-haired man in the plain white shirt and plain brown pants was none other than Mae's master and Grif's half-brother. Interesting.
"I don't suppose I could have a quick word with the bride?" he asked as he casually approached the couple.
Regan looked like he was torn between wanting to spit in Ruy's eye and being the bigger man and not doing just that. Although he didn't move from his protective position beside Mae, he also said and did nothing to halt the other man's approach. When Ruy was standing just in front of them, he inclined his head in acknowledgement of the king before turning to Mae. Now that he was closer, Geybrial could tell that the newcomer was both exhausted and filthy, as if he'd been running for weeks and sleeping in a hole for just as long. Given what he'd learned of Mae's actions back in Kurish and how they would affect her master, that was no doubt exactly what had happened to him.
"You know," he remarked, "you and your brother have this knack for screwing up all of my plans."
Geybrial watched as Regan's hand tightened over Mae's and could tell that his friend was resisting the urge to spring on Ruy.
"Yeah," Mae agreed, her voice sounding very small. "I…"
Ruy held up a hand. "I didn't come here for a damn explanation. I got word from Kas about what you'd done and about this." He glanced around himself with mild distaste, clearly showing that this was the non-legal wedding ceremony she and Regan had planned. "The thing is, this guy once told me I would know when…well, when I heard all of that, I knew. So while I'm really pissed off at you right now, here it goes." He took a deep breath, and then he said very succinctly, "I release you. You're no longer my slave. You have no master, Mae."
She looked up at him, her lovely face twisted with confusion. "What…Does that actually work?"
"Take your dress off and run around that tree naked," Ruy ordered.
Mae stood stock still. The Priest's jaw had dropped open – apparently, he was still capable of experiencing surprise. And Regan…well, he must have realized what was going on, because he just looked plain hopeful.
"Well? You're not going to do it?" Ruy prodded. When she shook her head, he asked, "You don't even want to, do you?"
She shook her head again.
"There. And those sons of bitches say a broken slave can't be unbroken. Shows what they know, right?" He chucked Mae fondly beneath the chin, like one might do to a little sister, and said, "You can finish your wedding now." Though he didn't actually leave, he walked towards the outer edges of that particular area of the garden in order to watch.
Mae turned towards Regan, her eyes wide. He looked back at her, sharing her joy through a smile so bright that, just a few months ago, Geybrial would have never believed it could belong to his friend and king.
"I love you," she said to him. "I love you, I love you, I lo…" and the last one was cut off with a kiss as Regan crushed his mouth to hers.
The Priest slammed his book of marriage shut with a sigh. "Man and wife," he muttered, waving his hand as if to say he was through with it.
"I think this might've been the best Damarkin marriage ever," Mak announced.
"And neither of them are even really Damarkins," Cait added.
Iain snorted at that. "Could've fooled me."
"I think it's time for a snack. What do you think, Blue?" Shaun asked his wife, his eyes full of obvious lust.
Shaun and Cait almost immediately left to do what they did best, while Geybrial and Meena hung around to wish Regan and Mae a happy union. Emmi and Emry stood in a quiet corner of the garden and spoke in their own quiet way, and Iain and Doc Galbraith bickered about whether or not Mae should have worn a red flower in her hair. Apparently, Geybrial's father had picked one for her, but the Physician had insisted it would look too garish.
Lyskander watched the scene with mixed feelings; he was happy for his father, even though this marriage would have to remain a secret and would never be recognized by the Kittish people – at least not until his father stepped down from the throne and handed the reigns over to him. Another part of him missed life back at the farm, which had been so much less complicated than his life of privilege had ever been. More tiring, yes. But much less complicated.
And a short distance away, where no one could overhear them, Col and Ruy stood and spoke secretively to one another.
"What happens now?" Col asked of the man who had been far more of a father to him than his own.
Ruy shrugged carelessly. "You go back to Kurish with your mother," and before he could argue, Ruy added, "because free from me or not, she needs you. You need each other. And you'll both be safer there."
"But what about you?"
"It's easier to be on the run when you only have to worry about yourself. Besides, I've got business back in Mob." When Col looked at him questioningly, he explained, "The Director knew about the Second Trial before it was announced. At first, I thought maybe he had an in with the council of advisors, someone who was tipping him off about the way they would vote. But then he found out about the Third Trial in advance, and I'd had time to talk to the council. I'd bribed them all. None of them would've told him what they planned, but he knew."
"So what do you think happened?" Col wondered.
"I think he's got someone tucked away who can see the future."
"Like the Prophetess?"
Ruy shrugged. "Doesn't matter. Whoever it is, that person won't be in Mob much longer. We'll see who's at the advantage when the whole damn future is in my hands." Because he probably had nothing more to say – and it was clear that he was still annoyed with Mae and needed some time alone – Ruy turned around and started to walk away.
"Hey – you never did mention what the Third Trial was," Col called after him.
Ruy didn't even bother to turn back around as he said, "The Third and final Trial is to defeat the King of Kittyana."
And then he was gone.
End Note: I'm changing the name of this note because while it is an Author's Note, those generally go at the beginning of the chapter. So instead of calling it Author's Note Part Deux, it is now End Note. And I'm rambling. Anyway, I have not started Ruy's book yet. In fact, I have only a pretty vague idea of how I want that book to go - although that vague idea will likely be quite different from any of the previous books. His is the last book in the series, but since I've been asked a bunch of times, I will clarify that I DO eventually intend to write a book about Lyskander (which will most likely also feature Col). Like the Jaymon book from the Prophecy series, however, it could be a while before it gets written. I have so many books flitting around in my head and so little time with which to actually write them. And since I'm a total loser and utterly terrified of trying to get a book published, I can't make money off of my books and do nothing but write all day. Totally my own fault. So now that I've wasted more of your time with more of my pointless ramblings, I will bid you goodbye for now. Hopefully, it won't take me too long to get rolling on Ruy's story. We shall see.