Ok! Finally an update!!!

It's not as long as I would like to put up, but moves the story on quite a bit (we're growing closer to the end). I've been away a while, I have a re-write of Cherry Lips done and will be re-posting (without all the awful plot holes) and a couple of shorts that are finished and will be added soon. I swear, I have been writing, but I just haven't really done anything I've felt is good enough to put up :(

Anyway, enjoy! And THANK YOU to all the people who've reviewed, I used to answer them all personally and I haven't while RL kept me busy, however I promise to do so again!

This is sadly unbeta'd as my beta never responded, let me know where I've screwed up and I'll fix it!

Kaheem was trying to sleep without much success, his thoughts were in turmoil and his stomach was rolling. My love. He was so foolish, he'd wrapped himself in sensation and, not for the first time, allowed his mouth to move without thought. Of course Mahk would reject the easy words, who spoke of love in a matter of weeks? It was impossible, it cheapened the feeling and it cheapened him. But it's true. He felt a dry sob building in the back of his throat and viciously bit down on his tongue. Where was his honour? His strength? He was a Prince and at sixteen he was a man too. Kaheem had always taken pride in doing his duty but in this confusing place he was adrift. He'd expected to be practicing the traditional dances for his wedding and learning his husband's estates and affairs by now- should he have been accepted.

Instead he was courting something wild and holy, seducing an untameable Prince. At first he'd taken that to be his duty, to both his people and to his own selfish desire to avoid the harem. But he'd been consumed so fast by the lonely man hiding under the snarling fa├žade. Sands, he felt so strange inside, like he was being pulled in a thousand directions at the same time and yet all of them pointed at Mahk and all of them screamed love until Kaheem thought he might shatter with the emotion. He buried his face in the damp pillow where his love had lain and breathed deeply, imagining the deep musk of the man lingered. His cock stiffened slightly and Kaheem thrust the pillow away, annoyed by his body's response.

Slipping from his bed, he wandered to the solitary lit oil lamp and stared at the hypnotic dance of the flame. His thoughts seemed to calm a little and the tense ache building in the back of his neck relaxed somewhat but the snick of the outer door opening made him jump in alarm and pull a sheet from his bed to cover himself. Most likely it was Esla coming to start the morning preparations, Kaheem couldn't be sure of the time but he knew his servant rose before dawn to begin his duties.

"Esla? Bring me some red desert tea? I-" Kaheem paused and felt the back of his neck prickle in apprehension. Why hadn't Esla bustled into his room already, complaining that his Prince needed to sleep later? He clenched tighter at the sheet he'd allowed to slip and fumbled for the knife hidden by his bed, his eyes fixed on the handle that would open the doors to his bedchamber. His fingers found the smooth curve of the cold bone handle a moment before he heard a whisper of movement from the balcony and his world went dark.

He woke to a pounding head and a strange bed, still naked in a room that reeked of perfumed oils and incense. Biting his lips against a moan of pain Kaheem tried to sit. The movement was nearly his undoing as his stomach rebelled violently and had him retching, hands clamped hard over his mouth, as his brain felt like it would beat through his skull. Great sandstorms, what on earth had happened? One moment he'd sensed something wrong and the next? Nothing. If he'd been struck then it was with extraordinary skill.

When his body finally settled the young prince glanced around the little chamber, surprised by the opulence he saw. A narrow slit for a window provided a thin ray of pale morning sunlight to illuminate the room and Kaheem thought perhaps he'd been unconscious for only a few hours. He was nearly dazzled by the sheer wealth of silks, tapestries and cushions that had been squeezed into such a small space. It was no bigger than could be allowed for a bed long enough to bear a woman or a man of short stature and a small table.

Kaheem felt dread stirring in the pit of his stomach. He'd seen similar rooms before; in his father's harem.

The dawn light was filling the horizon, a gentle warmth that Mahk took pleasure in. It was strange, he'd never felt much joy in the world around him until now. Was it Kaheem who made it possible? He suspected so and felt his mouth curve in a rare smile. Perhaps this morning they would sit out on the balcony as they broke their fast, he could hold the lovely youth in his arms and feed him fruits as the sun rose. He could brush out the soft red hair and immerse himself the distinct scent of his Chosen.

A shiver ran down his spine at the thought. Today he would tell his father, tell the world and certainly tell his love that they were to be married as soon as the ceremony could be arranged. It wouldn't do if Kaheem didn't receive the honour and pomp that he deserved. In the meantime Mahk and Halanon would make their enquiries. Kaheem would not be out of his sight until whatever traitor threatened him met the mercy of Ras. Sands, he had come so close to loosing the young prince. It could not happen again.

With a quickened stride he made his way through the back passages of the palace, not caring to cross paths with the few guards and servants already rising to make ready for the day. He'd used these paths often as a child when he'd wished to avoid the flinching and scrapping of his peers and made his way unerringly to the royal wing. Mahk knew as soon as he reached the first landing that something was wrong. Where were his guards? His love's guards? Not a soul could be seen.

He approached Kaheem's chambers slowly and found that although the heavy doors had been pulled to, they were not latched. With slow breaths he scented the air and caught the thick copper scent of blood but knew it did not carry the spiced sweetness of his Chosen. That in itself was a relief and Mahk's heart found a more relaxed rhythm with the knowledge as he slipped cautiously inside. The first chamber seemed relatively untouched, a spatter of blood across the table and another in the doorway to Kaheem's bed chamber, leading the way to carnage.

The smell hit him like a wall and the sight that greeted the prince's eyes had him snarling in rage. The room had the look of a charnel house, the bed so soaked with blood that the sheets looked like crimson silk. It had formed sticky pools on the floor and violent splashes across the walls but of flesh there was no sign. Whomever had seen fit to despoil Kaheem's chambers must have so with buckets of blood. It was deliberate and disgusting and begged the question, where was his Chosen?

A pit of rage bubbled in Mahk's chest. There were no guards here and his beloved was missing, his chambers vandalised. A haze sparkled through his vision and his head fell back as a scream built deep in Mahk's throat before tearing forth with inhuman strength and sound. The Favoured One poured his fear for his love into the cry and screamed until his voice gave way and the heavy slap of running feet filled the palace.

"Great Pharaoh! Great Pharaoh! Prince Mahknat has turned berserker, you are needed at once on the lower landing!"

"What?" The Pharaoh sat up in his bed quickly, leaving his morning dalliance dazed. A young guard stood panting in his doorway, his tunic twisted and rumpled.

"We cannot subdue him and there is blood everywhere in the Azul prince's rooms!"

"Take me to him at once."

Kaheem heard a faint of echo of noise, a shriek like a thousand eagles crying and knew it was Mahk. Great Gods, what had happened to his prince? He squeezed his eyes tightly for a moment, frustrated at his own weakness. What would his brothers say if they saw him wallowing in pity as he was now? Breathing carefully he made to sit fully upright once more. The sickness was still filling his belly and burning the back of his throat, but the prince found that if he kept his movements small and gradual then the pain was much less. It was agonizingly slow work, but finally he sat tall, back propped against a tapestry covered wall.

He knew that there must be some way of escape. A harem was, after all, a place to keep the unwanted without, not the unwilling within. The rooms could be secured, but they were not design to keep the owner's wives and concubines prisoners. Surely that meant there were weaknesses he could exploit. If only the pounding in his head would quiet then Kaheem was sure he could discover it. As it was he stayed seated, eyes exploring every nook. There was nothing immediately obvious, the door looked solid and the window was a slit that would free him only if he could transform into a snake.

With a grunt of frustration Kaheem lent his head back against the wall lightly. He had to think carefully. Perhaps the hinges at the door would be weak. Once he could stand the prince would check. The tapestry fluttered under his head slightly and Kaheem frowned, glancing at the window in irritation. It fluttered once more and his frown grew deeper. He could feel no breeze. How was the forsaken thing moving? The prince reached slowly back and tugged lightly, a thought slowly forming. He tugged again, harder and heard a groan from the rail holding the fabric.

Grinning Kaheem braced himself for pain and pulled as hard as he could at the tapestry, feeling it come away from the wall in his hands as the slender rod supporting it began to give. Stars danced through his vision and his heart pounded in his ears but with a final crack it fell across the bed, revealing a lattice covered vent large enough for a child or an extremely determined prince to call through. Most likely it connected to the next room and hopefully that one would not be locked.

Once he finished retching Kaheem had an escape to make.