As soon as Tiam woke he felt like an ass.
All the embarrassing hurtful things he had spewed out didn't seem quite as necessary now that he had calmed down. Thinking of the face Ferrick made as he left brought on a fresh helping of sobs. He felt miserable, and then even more miserable when he realized he shouldn't be the one crying. Ferrick most definitely hated him now. Or despised him. Loathed even. Worse is Tiam couldn't figure out what he actually regretted. Was it saying what he said, or was it hurting Ferrick?
For two days he thought of the things he said to the wolf. Did he really believe that Ferrick had raped him? He couldn't deny that their first time together had felt very off, but did he honestly think that Ferrick had intentionally used the jewel to force him? When he first learned of the jewels powers after running into Louie and Lemar in town, that was his first thought; that he had been used in such a horrible way. When the thought had run around silently in his head before, it seemed very plausible. He felt so angry, but after being alone in the woods thinking he thought he was okay with everything. He thought he had rationalized it all successfully. But there had been a nagging in his mind that demanded he voice those thoughts. He probably didn't need to yell those thoughts defined as 'rape' quite so angrily and loudly, but too late now. He wished he could have approached it delicately, in another time and place, though he could acknowledge that one way or another it was going to come out. After accusing Ferrick, he realized that no, he didn't really believe it was rape. There was just a part of him that resented Ferrick for it anyway, even though he knew it wasn't intentional. Someone needed to be blamed.
And the wolf just made it so easy to be mad at him. When Ferrick first barged in the situation was so mortifying he could have died. That in itself could have been enough fuel for a full on tongue lashing. But Tiam could admit that at the same time he felt a sick sense of accomplishment seeing the rage on Ferricks face. A part of him wanted the wolf to know that he wasn't the only person who he thought of. That Ferrick didn't own him. And even though Tiam thought he'd gotten over that sense that he was being unfaithful, some seeped back in when he saw Ferricks enraged face. That feeling of guilt that he felt wasn't justified was enough to make his fur bristle. The wolf only added insult to injury when he dared to call him a whore, and the desire to hurt him more than he hurt became overpowering. Allowing Tiam get mauled right in front of him while he'd been too busy fighting was another notch against him. And when Ferrick said they were not going to let him help retrieve the jewel, it set off a brand new fury inside of Tiam, fueled by all of the wolfs older transgressions.
What gave Ferrick the power to determine what he was and was not going to do? How dare he think that he could lord over him, just because he was bigger? And stronger, but that was unimportant. Tiam hadn't come here to work with others; he had come here for information so he could form a plan to retrieve the jewel himself. He hadn't asked for permission and he didn't need rescuing, for the most part. The thought of Ferrick looking down on him was more than he could bear. Even when beaten and taunted in the village he had always kept a cool head. They would tease him and ridicule him and rough him up when the mood struck them, but they would always get bored quickly and leave him be when he didn't react how they wanted. He was ashamed of how viciously he had acted, just like someone from the village. Angry and vengeful, with a callousness that didn't care who was hurt.
Was that what was becoming of him now? Would he become as vicious as everyone he left behind at the village as he completed his self imposed mission? The urge to finish this task, to set things to right again was consuming his mind. His finishing this mission was a determinant of his self worth. Maybe it was silly for him to think this way, he knew. But this was much more than just a mission to get a jewel back. Hundreds of were's would be effected if this jewel stayed in Maroks hands. Hundreds of lives could be saved if he could just think of a way to get it back..!
He sat up. There was no time to be crying and moping over Ferrick. When the jewel was safe somewhere far away from evil tyrants, preferably destroyed, then he could worry about apologizing. Now was the time to get his butt in gear and come up with a fail proof strategy! When Lemar came to check up on him this time, he would ready.
As Tiam turned on the shower in Lemar's large bathroom suite he thought of his course of action. The leopard had come in with small traces of Ferricks scent on him yesterday. Tiam had noticed immediately but had not said anything. It wouldn't have been beneficial for Lemar to kick him out while he was still getting over being eviscerated. So Tiam assumed that Ferrick had temporarily gotten over his hurt feelings and was back in action planning a course of attack. Even more of a reason for Tiam to pull himself together and get something done. But before he did anything on his own, he needed to know what those two were planning. It wouldn't do to screw up their plan by being unknowledgeable. Plus he could use them and their ideas with them being none the wiser.
He would have tried to work over Lemar to see if he could glean some information, but he was sure Lemar wouldn't let anything slip, the man was like an infuriating vault. The morning after Lemar had essentially rocked him to sleep, he woke up surrounded by the leopard in his were form. He had stared at his form in awe, so much larger than his own, until Lemar awoke catching him fawning. He had stammered something stupid like 'I wasn't watching you sleep', and Lemar just licked his face. As he cleaned the last traces of being upset off of Tiam's face, he transformed back to his human form and continued the task. Tiam was trapped beneath a very large, powerful, and very naked Lemar, being very naked himself. He was sure his skin had to have been as red as a tomato from the blush that threatened to split him open. Every inch of his skin that touched the larger cat became over sensitized, the tingling flush growing with every second. Lemar was purring as he continued to give him a tongue bath, his growing hardness was pressed in between Tiam's thighs. Tiam just sat still, trying hard to to squirm or rub his body all over the leopard. He slowly became more and more nervous. When Lemar's tongue ghosted over his mouth and parted his lips gently, he had blurted out "Do you know how Ferrick is doing?"
Tiam winced in recollection. Lemar had just smiled in his cool manner, except Tiam noticed his eyes didn't twinkle, and kissed the corner of his mouth before sliding off of him and out of the bed. He sauntered out of the room in that gorgeous feline manner and disappeared. He never answered Tiam's question. Tiam was sure that Lemar's answer to most questions asked of him was simply a smirk and gorgeous half lidded eyes. It was distracting and you mostly didn't notice he had rudely not answered your question until you realized you were alone.
Tiam smacked his forehead on the shower wall as the water flowed down his back. Why the heck had he brought up Ferrick? Couldn't he have just let Lemar do what he wanted? His regret was palpable. But he knew that if he had done anything with Lemar, afterward he would definitely feel guilty. That is, if feeling guilt on top of overwhelmingly-crippling-guilt was even possible. He still felt he owed something to Ferrick, though maybe just an apology would suffice…
He jumped out of the shower and quickly toweled off. He swiped another t-shirt from Lemars' closet and sat in one of the ornate chairs in the room. The leopard wouldn't tell him what they were planning; he would have to find another way to get the information. He sat in wait, stewing and planning. When Lemar walked back in, he wouldn't have a clue as to what hit him.
Lemar came back hours later, giving Tiam plenty of time to think and get substantially nervous. He hoped and prayed that his plan was flawless. The leopard was very discerning, and Tiam had no intentions on being thwarted. Lemar came in and draped his tailored black jacket on one of the chairs in the room, before sighing heavily and sitting on the edge of the bed. He held his face in his hands and rubbed circles over his temples with his thumbs. Tiam had been lounging in a den of pillows on the large bed with a book plucked off of the walls. He had barely read a sentence, but Lemar didn't need to know that. He crawled across the bed to rub his side up against Lemars tightly coiled back.
"You seem tense," Tiam said in a low voice, trying to sound alluring but not wanting to seem like it was intentional.
Lemar sighed again and peeked at Tiam from between his thumb and pointer finger. "Yes, it has been a rather long and unnecessarily stressful day. And there is still much to do." The large cat dramatically flopped back on the bed, laying on Tiam's stomach and pinning the small cat beneath him. He kept his eyes covered with his hands and continued to rub the stress out.
"Were you planning on how to get the jewel back?"
Lemar stopped rubbing and turned his head to stare at Tiam, seemingly gauging for sincerity. Tiam was propped up on his elbows and kept his gaze easy. "Yes Tiam. We have another meeting later. I'm on a lunch break," he added with a smirk.
"Aaaand, did you come up with anything?" Tiam asked with hopeful eagerness.
"Ah, ah, aaah," Lemar tsk'ed. "You aren't supposed to know anything anymore. I made a promise, or something or other, with the wolf. He was very adamant about it." Lemar said it all with a very un-amused face, as though he had something stuck in his teeth, and a flourish of one hand. He then turned to waggle his eyebrows at Tiam. "Though, if it were soley my choice, I would include you, of course."
Tiam laughed and gracefully slid out from under the leopard and off the side of the bed.
"I'm very sure you would Lemar."
He turned and stood between Lemars knees, forcing the big cat to sit up on his elbows to see him. One defined eyebrow arched up at him. Tiam gave him a wide smile. "I have an idea to relax you!" He put his hand on Lemars shoulders and pushed him back onto the bed. He gently eased off Lemars expensive shoes and socks. Then reached up and shimmied the man out of his trousers. Lemar did not object, simply stared on in his lazy fashion as Tiam slid his hands to his chest and worked to remove his dress shirt.
"Pray tell, kitty, what you have in mind? It seems as though you aren't quite so angry, or sad, now." the look he gave Tiam was scorching. But Tiam did his best to disregard the coiling of his loins.
Instead he shrugged and smiled wider. "I understand why you decided the way you both did.." he trailed off. "Now, shift."
Lemar drooped his eyes as though the idea was much more un-amusing then what he had been visualizing. And a whole lot more tiresome. He flopped back onto the bed. "Hmm. Why?"
"Oh just do it," Tiam laughed playfully and pushed on Lemars stomach. It was rock hard.
The big cat let out a woofing sigh and moments later a gigantic jaguar lounged on the bed. His eyes were so deeply lidded they were barely open. He pulled of the exceptionally bored look better than any feline Tiam had ever met. Lemar swiveled his gaze towards Tiam.
"I am. You are very beautiful," Tiam smiled as he crawled up onto the bed and ran a hand through the silky felines pelt.
'Handsome', Lemar corrected.
Tiam laughed. "Handsome. I thought that I could groom you. You know, return the favor." Almost as quickly as Lemar, Tiam shifted into his feline form and gracefully exited the shirt he had been wearing. He sidled up to the larger cat and after rubbing sides a few times, began to groom him. He started at the base of Lemars neck and slowly worked to his face. His rough tongue made a scratching noise much like pulling apart Velcro with each stroke and he easily fell into a comfortable rhythm. The movement was far more soothing then he would have thought; it had been a very long time since he had groomed another. Slowly he worked his way to Lemars face and muzzle, cleaning and smoothing his fur with powerful licks. He was considerably smaller than the leopard, but the big cat had relaxed and shut his eyes to let Tiam do what he wished. A rumble of appreciation swept around Tiam as Lemar began to purr, content. Tiam spent quite a bit of time grooming the larger cat, but finally stopped when he began to tire. He decided to lay down, tucked himself into Lemars side and they both dozed off.
When he awoke one of Lemars massive paws was draped across his side and had tugged him close. He shifted position, rubbing his fur against the other feline and loving the sensation. Lemars giant maw opened in a gigantic yawn that could easily engulf Tiam entire head, and sat up and before swiftly shifting back to his human form. Tiam lazily followed suit.
"That was very relaxing, Tiam. Thank you." Lemar gave Tiam a genuine smile that startled the smaller feline. "It has been a very long time since I was groomed by another."
Tiam felt his cheeks heat. "No problem. It was enjoyable."
Lemar leaned into his space, domineering it, and placed a chaste kiss to the corner of Tiam's mouth. "As much as I would love to stay, I believe I am running late to a meeting. I shall see you when I return." The leopards smile was very suggestive as he slid his naked flesh against Tiams as he exited the bed. He quickly, or as quickly as Lemar would move, got dressed and hurried out of the room.
Tiam smiled. Mission successful.
After Lemar left the room Tiam swiftly shifted slid out after him. He scented the big cat and followed as closely as he dared, stealthily turning corners and slinking down hallways. Cuddling with Lemar left the leopards scent all over Tiam's skin, successfully diminishing his own scent to abysmal at best. In human form it would have taken a lot longer for the scent to leech all over him, but in were form his scent was much more potent. Lemar would also have traces of Tiam's scent on him, which would explain away anyone scenting the smaller cat. They would just assume that it was residual from Lemar, and not that Tiam was there himself. He wondered what Ferrick would think.
Tiam grinned at his own craftiness. And Lemar was none the wiser. Smelling like Lemar would make it much easier to eavesdrop on the meeting he was attending without being noticed. Tiam deftly made his way out of Lemars house to spot him getting into his elaborate carriage. Some people had cars, but they were hardly the main form of transportation in the city. For one the buildings were far too close to allow for motorized vehicles. And only the higher end parts of town had cobblestone laid flat, the rest was cracked brick, dirt and gravel. And as Lemar lived quite on the outskirts of town, the terrain was much more unforgiving. Also, many weres did not trust machines with engines.
Shit! Tiam panicked as the carriage began to roll. He would lose him. Tiam swiftly shifted into his feline form and gave chase. Thankfully the carriage was traveling at a slow trot to begin before it gradually gathered speed. Tiam vaulted onto a platform beneath the carriage, presumably used to carry luggage, and scooted in as deep as he could to avoid detection. The sun was still rather high in the sky, so there were deep shadows to hide in. Hopefully he could avoid detection.
It took a while to travel into town, Tiam lost track of time as he dozed off, the warmth of the afternoon and the rocking of the carriage taking its toll on him. When his surrounds began to get loud and boisterous he woke up and took more stock in keeping himself concealed. He could smell and see rat were's everywhere. They must be in the part of town where he found Louie the last time. The thought made shudder. People were peddling wares, talking, laughing, jostling past each other, and a few were picking pockets. There were humans mixed in with the wererats, creating a very pungent and most obnoxious odor. Tiam kept his small body tucked deep under the carriage and kept a watchful eye out, praying that they would reach their destination soon.
As if on command the carriage passed a few more buildings and came to a rocking stop. Tiam heard Lemar thank his driver and tell him when to report back, before stepping out of the carriage. Tiam crept towards the edge of the carriage, trying to figure out how to dart out without being detected. Lemar was approaching a tavern looking building and about to enter when the carriage lurched and started up again.
Now or never!
Tiam skittered from beneath the carriage as quickly as he could and bounded for the alley on the side of the building Lemar entered. He hoped that perhaps he just looked like a black streak, and that people wouldn't pay him any heed. Sure enough when he entered the alley, no one was following or even looking in his direction. He swiftly scaled the wall and slipped in through a broken port style window, landing in a shoddy room with a bed and a trunk. The bed was covered in what Tiam could only describe as grungy rags, and the truck was barely held together. He stared at the bed in disgust. He could only image what unspeakable things occurred on the sad excuse for a pallet. The only light in the room shone through the dirty broken window, and the rest of the room was cast in shadow. Tiam slunk to the door and pressed his ear to the wood to see if he could hear anything on the other side. It sounded quite so he quickly shifted, cracked the door open, and shifted back to his feline form.
Nudging the door open with his nose, he slunk down the hall, following the hum of voices. As he drew closer the distinct scent of wererat began to intensify. He wrinkled his nose in distaste and focused on moving silently but swiftly. As he neared the end of the hall he came to the top of a flight of stairs with only thin, wobbling railing to protect from falling. The stairs dropped steeply, made a hard right angle with a meager platform to turn on, and then seemed to continue the steep path downward. He inched closer to the railing, keeping his body close to the wall, but closer to the floor. He could distinguish voices now. He drew as close to the railing as he dared, but he couldn't get a visual. It felt as though there were at least 15 weres down the flight of stairs, judging by different feeling of energy and the scents. From the top of the stairs he could only see the upper corner of the front door, and a window that had the glass replaced with wooden planks. Tiam strained his ears to try and distinguish what was being discussed, but it seemed everyone was murmuring all at once.
Then a voice rang out clear through the room.
"Thank you all for gathering today, it's time to put our plan into action..."
Tiam's blood instantly ran cold.
Louie. For a moment the rest of what was said was drowned out, as Tiam tried to choke down his fear. Flashbacks of getting mauled almost made him retch. He resisted the gagging feeling in his throat and slunk down to his belly to try and calm himself. Even if he smelled mostly like Lemar, a were would pick out the scent of his terror in an instant. He breathed deeply to calm himself.
'Why was Louie here?'
Even as he asked himself the question, he answered it mentally. It made sense. Louie was the king of the rats. And if were rat cooperation was needed to get the jewel back Lemar and Ferrick would have no choice but to go through Louie. The rational part of his mind understood. But another part of his mind felt betrayed that Lemar and Ferrick would even share the same air as that bastard. As he calmed down he realized that Ferrick was now speaking.
"I've heard from a few werewolves in Ferricks pack. In two days he plans to have all the wolves descend on the rogues and lesser weres in this area with land. We've got to move quickly." Ferricks voice sounded tired and clipped.
"And there can be no mistakes," Lemar added. "I have spoken to many lone were's much like as myself and convinced many to draw arms."
"Good," Louis spoke. "Of course the rats and the weres in this city will help. Rest tonight and tomorrow, then we will meet at the northern hill closest to the river. Meet before the sun rises. They will have to come through to get to the closest territories. Rally everyone."
Tiam heard a murmuring of assent. He slowly stood and began silently and swiftly making his way back to the room from which he'd come. That was all the information he needed. A plan and a location. As he padded down the hall he noticed the door he'd snuck out had closed. He cursed and quickly shifted to open to door, just as someone neared the tops of the stairs.
"Hey!" The voice shouted. "Stop!" The man rushed to reach the top of the stairs, but Tiam had already wrenched the door open, kicked it shut, and begun to shift back to feline form. He was carefully squeezing himself through the broken window as the door flew back open. The tip of his tail quickly cleared the outside of the window and he jumped to the cobblestone below.
"He's around the side!" He heard the man scream.
Most likely he was a rat, Tiam mused. He had felt in instant dislike for the man.
Tiam didn't give them a chance to make a proper chase; he was sprinting down the alley and around a corner before they could discern which way he went. Not chancing being caught, Tiam ran every mile to the forests edge.
He had less than a day to come up with a proper plan to get the jewel, or there was going to be a war. He couldn't let that happen.
Oh an update! There are only 2 chapters left...! This chapter was hard to get through, but the next action packed chapters should be much easier and quicker! Hopefully i can get another update this month. Happy New Years everybody!
As always reviews are encouraged and definitely appreciated!:D