Waking the Land

By Dani

While neither young man would be able to tell when it all really began, they could tell the day that it was set into motion. The young Prince Casimir was rather annoyed when he stormed into the stables that housed his own horses. He walked right past the stable master Vaymas without acknowledging his presence. He found the younger boy that was assigned to his stallions. The stablemen didn't know of the embarrassment Casimir had just endured on account of his elder twin brothers, but they could tell whatever he was about to tell them to do should be done as quickly as possible.

When Casimir instructed the younger stable boy to saddle two of his horses, he went right to work without a verbal question. However, hundreds of mental questions bombarded Auley's mind as Casimir turned away and went to speak with Vaymas. In the few years that Auley had been a stable boy at this castle, he'd learned the young prince's habits well. Riding was Casimir's only escape from the chains the castle bore upon him. No one ever accompanied him on such trips. Even if someone was going to join him, it was more peculiar still that someone was going to ride one of his horses. Casimir was so proud and particular about his horses that only Auley was allowed to so much as breathe the same air as the beautiful beasts. The prince felt assured about his prize possessions being in Auley's care. It had lessened Auley's workload greatly when Casimir had him appointed thus so Auley made sure he took the best care of the animals that he could. He could also tell that the prince had more patience with him than most of the other people living in the castle. Even as Casimir had told Auley to saddle two horses up, there was a look in his eyes assuring the young hand that his annoyance wasn't aimed at him. Not many people took that kind of consideration when dealing with Auley.

He didn't bother to ask Casimir which two horses to saddle. Casimir seemed deep in conversation with Vaymas anyway. The black stallion Impulse had seemed a bit lazy earlier when Auley was mucking out his stall so he saddled up Tymme and Alteo. Those two seemed to get along better anyway. As Auley went about his task, he strained to hear what was being said between his master and his lord. Only angry tones of voices and not words reached his ears. It was no secret to him that Vaymas didn't like him much, but whatever Casimir was saying was upsetting the stable master even more. Casimir's voice held a touch of anger, but stayed firm and authorative. Auley's eyes locked with Vaymas' for a split second as Vaymas stomped out of the stable, indicating the conversation was over. That look in the stable master's eye had definitely meant that Auley was in some sort of trouble and that he'd be lucky if he got to eat that night.

"Have I offended you, Your Highness?" Auley asked, bowing as the prince approached him again.

"Mm. Not at all. I think I just offended Master Vaymas, though." Casimir took the reins to Alteo and petted his nose. "How are you today, boy? Ready for a good ride?" The horse snorted.

"And what about Tymme, My Lord?" Auley petted his nose so that he wouldn't get jealous.

"Is he ready for a good ride?" Casimir asked.

"I suppose so. Impulse seems a bit lazy today so I left him behind."

"I appreciate the way you take notice of such things." Casimir mounted Alteo and turned him towards the exit.

"And Tymme?" Auley asked again, not sure what was on Casimir's mind.

"Get on him and follow me. You do know how to ride?" Casimir called back over his shoulder, his lips curling into a sarcastic smirk. 

"Well, yes, My Lord, I do. But…"

"Don't say 'but' to me. Vaymas will handle anything Impulse needs today as well as whatever chores you didn't finish. Today you're coming with me." Casimir clicked his tongue and pressed his heels into Alteo's side before Auley could argue any further.

Auley watched as the young prince rode off, realizing why Vaymas was so pissed off. Not only was he losing the kid he liked to assert his authority over minute in and minute out, but he also had to cover that kid's workload. Auley couldn't help but to grin at the small gesture of poetic justice as he quickly mounted Tymme and chased after the prince. He was sure he knew what the prince had on his mind, but as long as it got him out of a day's work and away from Vaymas it was perfectly fine by him.


Casimir hadn't meant to practically kidnap Auley but he wasn't sure that the stable boy would want to join him if he asked. It had been a weight on his mind ever since he caught a glimpse of the beautiful young boy working in the stables. He had nothing to do with the hiring of him, but he made sure that Auley was the one to handle his horses so that he could deal with him on a nearly daily basis. He wasn't sure what it was about Auley that drew the servant to him, but whatever it was seemed to be controlling his mind as of late. Casimir wasn't sure what kind of attraction it was, either. Most nights he'd merely fantasize about being able to merely have conversations with Auley, while on others the stable hand was writhing beneath him while crying out his name. He had to get the boy away from the castle to speak with him on whatever matters could be spoken of just to iron out his frustrated mind.

It was bad enough that his elder twin brothers had spent the past few months in an elaborate setup to make him look like an idiot during that entire stupid affair he had attended earlier. He didn't know how many times he had to tell his eldest brother, King Caden, that if he had to be married off, he highly hoped would never be to that princess that everyone seemed to think of as his bride already. His twin brothers, Amren and Taem, had went out of their way to see to it that flowers be sent to the Princess Mishay daily on his behalf. A jeweled ring had been delivered to her that morning, bearing his name. It wasn't that Mishay was an overly bad person, it just bothered him to think of having to spend his life with someone he really felt no attraction to or emotions towards. She was a very beautiful young lady and he was sure that most eligible bachelors in the kingdom would eventually fight for her hand. He just couldn't see himself giving her anything but an empty and cold life. Amren and Taem had both grinned at each other as Mishay thanked Casimir for his gracious gifts. She made it openly known that she loved him and that was why it hurt Casimir so to have to ask King Caden to deny her the engagement once more. It had hurt Casimir to see her run crying from the court hall after making a hasty curtsy, her heart obviously broken. But Casimir knew that the life some other man could give her would be a greater one and she'd understand one day. Amren and Taem had laughed as Caden chided Casimir for sending her such gifts to get her hopes up. Blaming his brothers would only get him into worse troubles. Waiting for his chance to get to the stables and ride away his troubles was the only thing keeping him from punching one of the twins. Somewhere along the way he'd decided that today would be the day Auley came with him.

Alteo didn't seem to mind the fast pace its master had set. Casimir was just glad that Auley in fact could ride, and ride well enough to keep up. Tymme was an easygoing horse that usually didn't like to be pushed, but Auley seemed to have complete control over the stallion. Casimir didn't let the pace slow until he'd reached their destination. The land near the vast lake belonged to the Royal Family of Calmaar, but at times it seemed to Casimir as if he were the only one who ever enjoyed it. After dismounting, Casimir led Alteo to the nearby tree and hooked his reins around it. He looked back to see Auley still sitting atop Tymme, his gaze out over the lake. "Beautiful, isn't it?" he asked, trying not to disturb Auley's wonderment.

Auley's head jerked towards his lord, as if he'd forgotten where he was. "Well, yes, of course it is. All the lands of Calmaar are breathtaking, My Lord." He sounded almost bitter.

"Come on, give poor Tymme a break. Get down from there and tie him to the tree." Casimir was already heading nearer to the lake's shores.

Nodding, the younger boy obeyed quickly. Both Alteo and Tymme seemed content to munch on the clover at their feet. Auley followed his prince to the shore. While Casimir sat down, he was content to stand and fold his arms as both their gazes turned back towards the lake. They had been right, the mere sight was one that made man feel inferior to the powers and majesty of the Earth. The blue-green rippling waters lapped quietly at the emerald grass that created the shoreline. In the distance, a snow-capped mountain range cut through the waters. The sky created a wondrous blue veil for the feathery clouds to expand across. The lilies and irises that grew sporadically around the area gave the gentle wind a heady aroma.

"This is the kind of day on which you could fall asleep and have no worries, is it not?" Casimir asked, leaning back on his elbows. He smiled up at Auley.

"If you say so, Your Highness." Auley didn't dare look down at the prince.

"Then what would you say?" Casimir asked, wrinkling his nose.

"I'll not contradict you, My Lord. What you said was well enough."

An exasperated sigh escaped Casimir's lips. This wasn't what he wanted. He didn't want the stable boy to have his words curbed or forced just because it was a prince he spoke to. "We're out here alone, you know. No one but the horses and I would know if you did contradict me."

"I'd rather not, Your Highness."

"Will you sit down at least?" Casimir asked. At least he wouldn't hurt his neck trying to peer up at Auley if he did. Peering up at him made the tall, slender boy look much shorter than he was. Even so, he still looked beautiful. His loose sun-kissed brown hair was practically glowing in the sun's glint, right down to the middle of his neck and just above his shoulders. It clung gently to the back of his neck like moss did to trees. His longish bangs seemed to play tag with other strands in the wind. Auley's skin was tanned from working in the sun so much and Casimir sometimes wondered what color his skin was beneath his clothes. Thinking of that and about getting lost in Auley's light green eyes always sent his mind in directions other than just mere wonder. When he thought of such things, he would also want to know what that skin tasted like, and how the boy's sweet voice would sound crying out his name in pleasure. But, if the boy wasn't going to cooperate, Casimir knew his silly fantasies would never come true.

Auley nodded and took a seat, a full arm's reach away from the prince. His eyes stayed locked on the horizon as he pulled his knees to his chest and surrounded his legs with his own arms.

Casimir let the silence sit between them for quite some time. He openly stared at the stable boy, hoping that he'd shift uneasily or get annoyed or give any sign of his own emotions. The silent stare did nothing to deter Auley's eyes from the expanse of the lake. It irked Casimir to see that the other boy had more patience than he did. "Grrr. Say something, dammit!" he finally growled.

Auley turned his head slowly. "Hmm?"

"Please! Just… talk! Say anything, I don't care!" Casimir nearly whined.

"Anything, My Lord?"

Casimir nodded slowly, as if it were the only thing that would keep him sane.

His gaze turned back to the lake. If Casimir wasn't mistaken, he almost seemed… sad. "Why am I out here?" His voice sounded almost dejected.

"Because I brought you here." Simple enough, and it was true.

"Yes, but why? Why did you bring me here? Was it to give more than one horse exercise?"

"Not quite." Casimir wasn't sure that the words would come out the way he wanted them to if he said more.

"Forgive me, My Lord. I shouldn't have questioned your intentions so openly." His voice was down to a whisper.

That whisper was like music to Casimir's soul. "No, don't apologize. Question me all you'd like. At least while we're out here alone, that is."

Auley laid his head atop his knees and peered at Casimir. "I'm quite confused."

"As am I," Casimir half muttered. He took a deep breath and sat up. "I tire of that castle sometimes. Everyone speaks to me with so much respect even though I know they hate me."

"And that's the respect you have earned, My Lord."

"By what means? My very birth? Ha. I'm no more noble than any other man you can point out. I shouldn't be revered as some sort of saint."

"Not by your birth, My Lord. No, your brothers should be respected in that sense. But you're different from them." Auley's eyes seemed to focus on a small flower at Casimir's side rather than on the prince himself.


Auley gave a small awkward nod. "Yes. You know that."

Casimir scratched his head. "I still don't understand."

Auley turned his head away from Casimir. "You're much more kind and empathetic to others feelings. None of your brothers dared dream up this lovely landscape to pull me away to."

He opened his mouth, but that last statement made him shut it again. "My brothers?"

"Does that bother you, My Lord?"

"You mean to say that my brothers… They've… You?"

Auley was glad his face was hidden from Casimir as a grin spread. "So that was why you brought me out here."

"Now look here!" Casimir said, his voice rising slightly. "That was on my mind, certainly, but you make it sound so ugly! It wasn't my only intent!"

"I didn't mean to anger you, Your Highness. I just wanted to know the truth of why I was brought here. I wouldn't mind at all. I'd surely let you. But, forgive me." Again, his voice sounded dejected, as if he just didn't care what he was used for.

Casimir could only stare at the back of Auley's head. He could tell that Auley was used to being used in such manner. He felt a pang of guilt because he desired him as well. He desperately wanted to reach out and run his fingers through those beautiful tresses to assure Auley that he didn't have to be used in such ways. But Casimir knew that in doing so, he'd want to kiss him as well, and it would lead to other things, and soon what he promised Auley didn't have to happen would have already come to pass. It was a useless effort to even begin to think that anything like what he dreamed could happen. No matter what, they'd never be friends. Auley would always see himself as a mere servant and whore to Casimir. It angered the young prince that the world had to be that way, that someone he didn't want could be with him so easily but someone he wanted was denied to him.

He stood up and walked a little ways off, wanting to scream. He kicked at the ground, trying to vent a little of his frustrations. He realized how childish he must look to the stable boy, so he clenched his jaw and his fists and closed his eyes, trying to calm his inner rage. It just wasn't fair. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt the hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Auley with a slight grimace on his face.

"I really didn't mean to anger you, My Lord." Auley looked sincere enough.

"It's not your fault. It's not my fault either. Listen, I'm sorry that I've brought you all the way out here. At least you got a few hours away from your chores. It was a misunderstanding on my part and for that I apologize to you." Casimir fought the urge to raise his hand and touch Auley's. He sighed when the hand slipped off his shoulder.

"You never need to apologize to me, My Prince. I should not have spoken in such a manner to you. I knew full well before I left the stable what this trip was for and I…"

"What was it for then?! Do you really believe that I brought you all this way just to fuck you? Don't flatter yourself. That was the least of my reasons, I assure you." Casimir's anger was back, but he didn't want to be yelling at Auley. Auley had done nothing to deserve it. It was his own ignorant mind that had created the current situation.

At last, Auley seemed fazed. His light eyes opened a bit wider in slight shock. "I… I apologize again, My Lord. I didn't mean to upset you so."

Casimir shook his head and then lowered it. He sighed deeply, keeping quiet.

"Then… why was I brought here?"

Casimir looked back to Auley to see that once again, he had that innocent stare on his beautiful baby face. The simple truth would have to work. "Because. I just didn't want to be alone today." Dear gods his voice had sounded pitiful. He wanted those words back so he could try to say them again in a more dignified manner.

"Oh," came Auley's just as pitiful reply. After a moment of silence, he spoke again. "Then wouldn't it have made more sense to bring someone who's more… I don't know. More on your level, I guess I should say?"

Casimir shook his head. "You're the one I wanted with me. I've dreamt that we could at least be friends on more than one occasion. I guess I was being foolish."

"Friends, Your Highness? With me? I'm nothing more than your servant, a lowly stable boy. Why on Earth would you want me for a friend?" Auley questioned, his head cocked to the side.

"You seem different, too," Casimir shrugged. "I don't know what it is, really. I need someone that I can talk to, about anything. I don't mean someone who will nod and smile and just agree with everything I say, I mean someone who isn't afraid to test my mind. I need someone to talk to about my life and in turn I want hear him ramble just the same on his. I want to hear someone talk about useless things, like how smelly it is in the kitchens or just complain about how their big toe hurts. I don't care. I just want something that doesn't make sense." He realized that he really wasn't making any sense so he shut up.

"That would certainly complicate things, wouldn't you agree?" Auley asked, crossing one foot over the other.

"Complicate things? How so?"

"Well, if we did become friends, you'd have to follow me around during my chores. There's no way I can begin to understand all the matters that you handle with the courts and such. Spending time together would be a burden for each of us. My Lord, eventually it would make us even angrier at each other and we'd never speak." Auley tapped his foot against the ground as he spoke.

"I've more power than that. Promoting your station would…"

"Take me away from working with the horses, which is what I enjoy. I'd still be your servant, and an awkward one at that. Eventually I'd forget my status and overstep my boundaries and find myself in the dungeons or streets or somewhere awful. Lord Casimir, please, I don't mean to destroy your dreams as you call them, but I've a very clear picture of my current place in life. I hate it just as much as you obviously do."

"Then we should rebel against it!" Casimir cried out.

Auley threw back his head and laughed. "Easy for you to say. Bound by the chains of your crown, it'd be easy to get money enough to keep you happy on any of your whims."

Casimir shook his head. "You're nothing at all like I imagined."


"You're cruel. Nearly heartless," Casimir said in realization.

"I'm nothing of the sort! I'm trying to keep you from being hurt, My Lord! Is my concern for your welfare really cruelty?" Auley asked, his laughter gone. "Do you even know what it is you ask for?"

"I know full well what it is I ask for." He folded his arms.

"Then give it a name," Auley dared.

"Are you asking me to prove myself?" Casimir asked incredulously.

"And already I overstep my boundaries." He shook his head at the prince. "I don't ask you to prove yourself, but I know that you aren't certain of what you ask. I know full well what you ask for, but I can't believe you do. It wouldn't be a risk any prince would dare take."

"I ask for your friendship! I ask for a bit of your time. I ask you to share a small part of your mind with me, as I share the same with you." Casimir was ready to give up.

"Why do you ask when you could command it so?" Auley asked.

"I won't force you into anything you don't want. I won't assert my power over you unless we are in the presence of others that demand it be so."

"Is that a promise, My Lord?"

"Yes. It's my word of honor." Casimir caught those bright green eyes in his and held them.

"And by that, you mean you won't force me into anything I don't want?" Auley looked the prince's body over once before meeting his gaze again to emphasize his meaning.

Casimir's tongue poked around in his cheek for a moment, not believing how daring this stable boy really was. Of course, this was exactly what he wanted. He wanted Auley to become a person that would speak his own mind and not his trained mind. If he wanted this, he couldn't get angry at anything that the other boy said. "Anything, though it does hurt to know that you don't want me."

Auley gave a small grin before returning to his inquisitive state. "With all due respect, Your Highness, I don't think you know the game you play at. However, if you say that you won't do anything I wouldn't like you to, and somehow in your mind you see this dream of yours able to come to pass in reality, I shall play along. I fear that both of us will end up burned badly in the end, but those that never play with fire get left in the deep dark cold."

Casimir smiled at him. "I appreciate it greatly."

Auley sighed and sank to the grass, staring out over the lake again. A sad look overcame his face.

"Does it really depress you that much?" Casimir asked, taking a seat near him.

"Sometimes I only see the end of things. Sometimes it's hard to live in today and tomorrow. You'll have to keep reminding me of today," Auley said wistfully, raking his hair out of his eyes.

Casimir smiled at him and was quite surprised to get a shy smile back. "I'll surely try." He laced his hands behind his head and closed his eyes, lying back in the grass. Both boys seemed content to let silence fill the rest of their afternoon.