Majordomos, Aiden decided in annoyance, were the most obnoxious things ever created. There had to be a school out there dedicated entirely to "How to be an Annoying Officious Individual in an Official Capacity" as this one, like Aiden's own and the one he'd encountered at the Tower of Magic, was proving to be teeth-gratingly aggravating. And then some.
"No, we don't want to come back later," Aiden intoned flatly, feeling his patience rapidly fraying. "We would like to speak with Morgemeil, now or in the immediate future. Please tell him we are here and would like an audience with him."
Despite Aiden being taller by several inches, the majordomo still managed to peer down his nose at him. He sniffed in disdain. "My Lord is not accepting any petitioners at this time. Perhaps next week."
Aiden sorely wished he could just zap the infuriating man like a certain apprentice Enchanter. What had Beldon's focus phrase been again? Zim something... "Zim Salabim?" Aiden said aloud, starting as small bolts of lightning crackled around his fingertips. A moment later he grinned deviously and reached out to touch a finger to the majordomo's chest. "Zim Salabim," he repeated gleefully, grinning from ear to ear when the annoying man leapt nearly a foot into the air.
"You... you... you..." the majordomo sputtered.
"Me." Aiden grinned. "Now then, please announce us, or I'll zap you again."
The man looked as though he'd dearly like to argue further, but stepped back when Aiden raised a hand again. "Fine," he muttered sulkily. "I will inform His Lordship." He turned sharply on his heel, striding out stiff-backed across the hall and vanishing through one of the open doors near the back.
Aiden beamed for a moment, then turned to look at a highly bemused Sabin. "So, um, I thought I had to have training and such to do magic..."
Sabin chuckled. "Were you anyone else, yes, that would be true," he agreed.
"Let me guess." Aiden grimaced. "That crazy royal bloodline again."
"That crazy royal bloodline," Sabin confirmed mirthfully. "You won't be able to do much beyond small things, and I would hazard that you managed Beldon's spell only because you saw it in action, but it works well enough for small things."
Aiden smirked. "Like convincing stubborn officials to do as they're told?"
Sabin laughed. "Something like that."
They took turns picking out the ugliest and gaudiest decorations while waiting for the majordomo to return. By the time the majordomo informed them that Lord Morgemeil would see them now they'd moved on from 'hideously ugly' to merely 'really ugly.' They were shown through the castle to a throne room even uglier than the waiting room had been; a man was seated in the gleaming golden bejeweled throne at the far end, dressed in the kind of clothing that Aiden's people kept trying to force him into. The difference was, the opulent things actually looked good on this man.
He was as tall as Aiden himself, perhaps even taller, with long, straight, ink-black hair that was pulled back and held into place by a single golden clip. He rose when they approached, eyes widening just enough for Aiden to note that his eyes were a deep, blood red.
"Well! If it isn't little King Aiden himself!" Morgemeil exclaimed in sadistic delight. "I wondered who would be foolish enough to seek an audience with me. I should have known it would be the sad little princeling trying to fill his daddy's shoes."
His gaze shifted to Sabin, then, and he frowned thoughtfully. "I'm afraid I don't recognize your little friend with the bird's nest for hair, however." He smirked, then added mockingly, "My apologies, little bird."
Aiden bristled, reminding himself that the Dark Enchanter was just trying to upset them and he shouldn't take anything the man said personally, but it was still hard. Nobody should be insulting his Sabin.
Drawing in a deep breath, Aiden squared his shoulders and looked (slightly up, damn it all, the man had almost an inch on him) at Morgemeil. "Dark Enchanter Morgemeil," he announced regally, "We have come to ask you to cease your attacks upon my kingdom and return to whatever place it is that you came from, or we will be required to use force to achieve those ends."
Morgemeil stared at him for several moments, then his shoulders shook ever so slightly as he began laughing. "Oh, oh my..." Morgemeil said, almost breathless. "What a... Oh. I must say, a more stupid man I have never met, pretty little stupid King Aiden."
Aiden stiffened and reminded himself to stay calm, even as Morgemeil looked him over lasciviously. "Hmm... I think perhaps I will keep you around as my personal little sex toy," the Dark Enchanter purred. "Someone as witless as you have shown yourself to be is good for little else."
"Sorry," Aiden snapped, barely managing to restrain the impulse to take a step closer to Sabin. "I'm taken."
Morgemeil regarded him for a moment in surprise, then his gaze shifted to Sabin as he eyed the Enchanter in mild disbelief. He looked back to Aiden and stated flatly, "You have lousy taste."
That did it. "Sabin's worth fifty of you," Aiden snarled, green eyes flashing in anger. Insulting him was one thing, but insulting Sabin, however indirectly, was something else completely.
The Dark Enchanter straightened, frowning, whatever humor he'd displayed earlier melting out of his crimson eyes. "I will not tolerate rudeness," he remarked, gesturing toward Aiden. "Izati, abamehinam, edo caffe Nam."
It hurt. It hurt worse than anything Aiden had ever felt before, driving him to his knees beneath the onslaught. His vision swam, the edges greying in and out. Dimly he had the hope that Sabin would be able to get away, then suddenly the pain was gone as swiftly as it had come.
Aiden lifted his head slowly, not yet able to summon the strength to get back to his feet. Sabin and Morgemeil stood staring intently at one another, naught but a slight frown on the Dark Enchanter's face, where Sabin's expression was one of fierce, almost pained concentration.
He knew, vaguely, what was happening. Sabin had somehow utilized whatever Morgemeil had done to Aiden to cast his cage-spell on the Dark Enchanter and was struggling to make it take hold as Morgemeil fought to stop him. Their powers temporarily evened out, it was now a battle of sheer willpower.
For several long moments it appeared as though neither would gain the upper hand, then abruptly Sabin shouted hoarsely in triumph. Morgemeil vanished with a flash of blinding golden light, followed shortly by a metallic clatter and a muffled thump. When Aiden could see again, he scrambled to his feet as he took in the sight of Sabin crumpled in a heap on the floor next to a long, dark sword.
Aiden swept the Enchanter into his arms, sagging in relief to feel the faint but steady heartbeat beneath his fingers. Sabin was alive. He was alive. Against all odds, they'd managed to do what everyone considered impossible and defeat Morgemeil.
When Sabin awoke, it was to a very concerned Aiden hovering over him. The young king nearly collapsed on him in relief when the Enchanter finally opened his eyes, clinging to him tightly.
"Thank goodness," Aiden mumbled. "You scared me."
It took several tries before Sabin was able to convince his tongue to cooperate, and even then it came out more of a "Humnpf?" rather than an actual word.
"You've been unconscious for three days," Aiden told him, lifting his head and leaning forward to steal a soft, fleeting kiss. Sabin smiled softly at him when he pulled back, then his pale eyes widened as memory came flooding back.
"Oh! Morgemeil! The sword..."
Aiden sat up and gestured across the small, plain room to where he'd propped the object in question up against a wall. As blades went, it was rather elegant, sleek and dark, its surface almost shimmery in the light, with a tiny sapphire embedded about four inches from the tip. The grip was simple, wrapped black leather and set into the pommel was a faceted, blood-red stone. Deep within there seemed to be almost a pulsing glow, as though it was alive.
"It's just been sitting there," Aiden explained. "I brought it with us, because I figured it had to be important..." he trailed off. "What is it? What happened to Morgemeil?"
Sitting up slowly in the simple bed, probably in an inn somewhere, from the looks of it, Sabin looked solemnly at the long weapon. "That is Morgemeil," he explained slowly. "Or at least, it is the shape of his cage. Whatever power he throws at it will be in turn reflected back upon him. Without outside aid, he will never leave it."
Aiden frowned. "Outside aid? So someone could set him free, if they wanted to?"
Sabin nodded slowly. "A strong enough magician would be able to break the spell," he confirmed.
"So we're going to need to keep it hidden away where no one can ever get that chance," Aiden said thoughtfully. "A strong magician... Oh!" He grinned. "I know just the place. Nobody's been in it for years, and I don't think most people even remember that it's there." He laughed when Sabin shot him a curious look. "There's this little room... Technically it's part of the Royal Treasury, but nobody but the royal family can get into it. Some really old spell from so long ago that nobody remembers where it came from. But if nobody but me can get in there, then nobody will be able to get close enough to free Morgemeil!"
Sabin blinked, rubbing a hand thoughtfully through his untidy hair. "I would very much like to see this room of yours. It sounds absolutely fascinating. I have never even heard of such a thing before."
Aiden chuckled. "I'm not surprised. I guess it's just one of those things that goes along with the rest of the royal oddities. When I was younger I tried to figure out where our power came from, and I guess the room too since it seems to be an extension of that power, but there was nothing. Whatever happened, there are no records of it. Not even a legend."
"Perhaps someone deliberately erased all memory of it..." Sabin ventured thoughtfully. "Though I can't see why. It's not bad, just unusual."
"When I was little," Aiden said, snuggling as best he could next to Sabin on the small bed, "I used to imagine that it was some sort of gift to my ancestor for a reward or something. Silly, I know, but..."
Sabin smiled. "It's a nice thought, even if it is completely impractical. I would say that it is far more likely that one of your ancestors tripped and fell into a unicorn's spring or something," he teased. "Far more your style."
Aiden arched a brow. "Oh really?" He smirked. "Let me just show you what my style, is, old man," he purred, and then proceeded to do just that.
The trip home passed without incident, though Sabin flatly refused to let Aiden talk him into sex while riding horseback more than the once, which he had since decided to pass off as a 'moment of temporary insanity.' Aiden wasn't actually sure what the problem was. It wasn't like Sabin was the one who fell off...
All too soon they could see the spires of the palace and the nearby Tower of Magic, marking the end of the journey. Now would begin the long and undoubtedly frustrating process of trying to convince the rest of the kingdom that Morgemeil was honestly and truly defeated. How did you go about convincing someone that you'd done the impossible?
They'd barely managed to dismount when the door to Sabin's small home was flung open to allow a furious and tear-streaked Beldon to storm out. He stopped when he spotted them, blinking rapidly to clear his eyes and affirm what he saw, then dashed forward to hug Sabin's thighs tightly.
"Beldon..." Sabin said in surprise, reaching down to gently ruffle the dark hair. "What's wrong?"
"M'not a girl," Beldon mumbled, his high voice somewhat muffled by the fabric of Sabin's pants.
Sabin smiled. "Of course not," he assured the child. "Who told you that you were?"
"Melanth," Beldon sniffed, releasing Sabin at last and stepping back so he could peer mournfully up at his teacher. "I tried to be good, Master, I really did..."
"Of course you did," Sabin said reassuringly, then looked up toward the door. "Melanth," he called, "Come outside, please..."
A few moments later the door opened again to admit the bigger boy, his hair standing up straight away from his head in places; Beldon's doing, no doubt. He stopped a few paces from the door and looked up rather sulkily. "Beldon zapped me again," he muttered.
Sabin arched a brow. "I can see that. Why did Beldon zap you, Melanth?"
"Cause he's a stupid, violent girly-boy," Melanth said, glaring at his fellow apprentice.
Sabin sighed, then quickly clapped a hand over Beldon's mouth before he could get more than Zim out. "He wouldn't zap you so often if you didn't antagonize him," he pointed out, throwing a brief, apologetic smile at Aiden.
Aiden spread his hands helplessly. "And here I was going to offer you all this wonderful present if you were good and behaved properly while we were gone," he told them, "But I can see that you did nothing of the sort..."
"Present?" Melanth demanded suspiciously, "What sort of present?"
Aiden smiled. "Well, I was going to extend the offer for you and your Master to come live in the palace with me."
Melanth's eyes lit up. "Ohh... I can be good!" he exclaimed. "I can be really good!"
"No," Beldon said calmly, having freed himself from Sabin's restricting hand. "I don't wanna."
Aiden blinked. "You don't want to live in the palace?" he asked.
"No," Beldon confirmed. "I like it here. I want to stay here."
Aiden looked helplessly to Sabin for help, but the Enchanter only laughed quietly and ruffled his apprentice's dark hair. Melanth, on the other hand, glared daggers at Beldon.
"What are you, stupid?" he demanded. "What kind of dummy doesn't want to live in a palace?"
Beldon stuck his tongue out. "I'm not a dummy," he retorted. "You're the dummy. I don't wanna go where there's lots of stupid people. I like it here."
Melanth pointed, intoning a single word, whereupon Beldon's shirt became a bright, vivid pink. Beldon screeched, pulling off the offending garment and flinging it aside before pointing right back at Melanth. This time, Sabin wasn't quite fast enough.
Aiden traced random patterns across Sabin's chest, leaning down to kiss the smooth expanse before chuckling quietly. "I can't believe he turned me down again," he murmured wryly.
"Perhaps Beldon is not suited to being a Royal Enchanter," Sabin said, smiling as he twined his fingers through Aiden's thick curls. "He will have to find his own path in life. Who can say where that path will lead him... maybe one day the winds will lead him back to your doorstep and you can extend the offer a third time."
"Hmm." Aiden gently nuzzled Sabin's throat, licking at the soft skin there. "Part of me wants to be miffed, but it's still being drowned out by the part that's grateful to him for only making me wait twelve years rather than the alternative... I still can't believe he made Master at seventeen..."
Sabin laughed, tugging Aiden up for a real kiss. "Stranger things have happened. Like a King falling for a lowly magician..."
Aiden scowled and kissed him again. "There's nothing lowly about you, my magnificent Enchanter. You are all that this King could ever need or want."
"Hmm... and yet-" Sabin broke off, his breath catching as Aiden's hand moved beneath the embroidered coverlet. He bit back a gasp, pouting faintly when Aiden broke off and smiled angelically at him. "Tease."
Aiden laughed. "Am I?" he asked, laying his head down upon Sabin's chest, listening to the somewhat erratic breath of his lover's lungs mingled with the steady, comforting beat of his heart. "Hmm, yes, well, you may be right about that..." he murmured impishly.
Sabin smiled, running his hands slowly through the beautiful auburn curls that had first caught his attention years ago. He was silent for several minutes, then ventured quietly, "Aiden?"
"You do realize you're the last of your family... you will have to have an heir at some point..."
Aiden sat up, scowling. "I don't want to," he stated. "I don't want to sleep with anyone but you."
Sabin smiled affectionately and tucked an errant curl behind Aiden's ear. "As much as I appreciate the sentiment, it's not really practical..."
Sighing, Aiden flopped back down atop Sabin, nestling his face in the crook of the Enchanter's neck. "I don't wanna," he mumbled petulantly. "Can't I just adopt someone?"
"And allow the royal bloodline to die?" Sabin pointed out, bemused.
Aiden heaved another heavy breath. "You're an Enchanter, can't you just... I don't know... magic something up?" he asked.
Sabin blinked. "I..." He considered. "That would be an extremely complicated spell," he mused aloud. "It would probably take me years to work out all the details..."
Aiden grinned, pushing up off Sabin and leaning over him so that their faces were only mere inches away. "I'm in no hurry," he said cheerfully. "I've got, what, a hundred and seventy years ahead of me? You've got plenty of time to make a royal heir." He paused. "I don't have to sleep with anyone, do I?" he added, somewhat suspiciously.
Sabin laughed. "Only me," he replied in amusement. "What I'm going to try to do is make... well, sort of a copy of you. Not exact, of course. I'll have to fix all your less charming traits, you know. Maybe make him a little less- eep!"
The Enchanter writhed as Aiden's fingers ruthlessly sought out every ticklish spot on his body with unerring accuracy. By the time Aiden let him up Sabin was panting breathlessly, his arms crossed ineffectually over his middle.
"That... that was... so very much... not fair..." Sabin breathed.
Aiden smirked. "So you admit that I am just perfect the way I am?" he asked.
Sabin smiled. "Perfect for me, at least," he agreed.