Rough Day at Sea

by Shokushu Ritsuka (植朱立歌)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/226592.html)

For the worst day of Mordwen’s life, the weather was clear and bright and beautiful.

The sky was free of clouds, the sun was blazing warmly, and the misty sea breeze was blowing in cool and gentle. From his spot, Mordwen had the perfect view of the ocean and was dazzled by the way the sunlight capped each wave in glittering gold and made the gulls gliding over them seem intensely bright.

Shutting his eyes against the brilliance, Mordwen tipped his head back, thumping it lightly against the post behind him. The constant shrieks from the gulls sounded like cruel laughter, mercifully drowned out each time the waves crashed against his little cliff, though his feet and the wedding dress’s hemline became soaked.

The resulting spray also affected the ropes around his wrists. Already the rough-spun knots had chafed his flesh, while the oncoming damp tightened them, numbing his fingers and palms.

Summer heat burned the elongated tips of Mordwen’s ears and sun glared down on his upturned face. He longed for the simple task of being able to lick away the salt collecting on his dried lips, but the thick leather thong lashed between them made each effort clumsy and dissatisfying.

The wind caught in his hair, tangling the blonde locks amongst the woven flowers and causing the veil to flutter wildly around his head and then press flush to his face. The heavily scented gossamer made him sneeze painfully and he had to thrash about to dislodge the offending fabric, finally catching it between himself and the post.

Were the perfumes really necessary? Mordwen wondered, preoccupying himself with inane thoughts to keep the fear and panic at bay. If I am taken beneath the water, can I even be smelled? Or, if the Sea God means to devour me on the spot, will I be made more appealing for smelling like a cache of dead roses? In that sense, have I been seasoned?

Thoughts of being flavoured and consumed brought a growl from his belly. His last meal had been such a meager affair, prepared for and by himself the night before: heavily watered-down vegetable stew and bread from more than a few days past.

Bitterness welled within his empty belly and Mordwen ground his teeth against the gag. If they meant to see this farce through they could have at least sent me off with a feast!

The anger was quick to pass, flowing from him with a shuddering sigh, while his head then hung low. If they were capable of such decency then they would not have entered my home in the dead of night, drugged me, put me in women’s clothing, and left me chained here to await my death.

Mordwen leaned back on the post, unsure how much more he could take; his legs were tired and his shoulders ached. There was a slight pain in his chest too, and Mordwen admitted that it was from his heart’s breaking, just a little, for acknowledging just how much the people of this island hated him.

With nothing more to do but wait, Mordwen found his thoughts turning further inward. For a brief moment he found himself amused that while others would see their life flash before their eyes in the instance before death, he would be able to take a leisurely pace through his own store of memories.

Though the events of only a few hours prior kept threatening to wash over him: the hands that had grabbed him in the night, lifting his slender form from the bed, touching where they had no right to go; the press of a cold wet cloth against his nose and mouth when he refused to stop struggling; the deep darkness following the sour scent of poison.

Hurriedly searching for a happier time and place, he immediately thought of home, his home, just outside the islanders’ town.

His mother’s tender smile then flickered in his mind; she had been a stunning elf-maiden whose beauty and verdant green eyes were echoed in her son. A moment later his human father materialized in the memory as a heavily scarred shadow beyond her, ever-watchful and silent.

Though Mordwen had loved them dearly, both parents had been shrouded in mystery, somehow as much to him as to the islanders who merely tolerated them. Their reasons for settling on the island had become the greatest mystery of all, but one Mordwen knew would never be solved, now that both were beyond asking.

Mordwen shut his eyes tight and blamed the sting in them on the salty air. He could not seem to remember the good without remembering the bad, and the bad had a lot more to show him.

Taking a cue from his empty stomach, Mordwen remembered hunger. Everyone knew hunger now, but this was from a time years ago, before the constant storms chased the trader ships away, before the fish nets came home empty each day, and before the salomen came to settle on the shores and raid the outlying farms.

Alone by then it was his own food stores running dangerously low. Albeit just old enough to work, all Mordwen could find amongst the locals was the odd request or errand. No one ever seemed to have employment that he could perform steadily, and he had little doubt that all they saw in him was an outsider and a half-blood.

The merchants from afar, however, were far more accommodating and willing to part with their coin, but he soon discovered that what they were after was a form of company, bought and traded as casually as the materials they brought aboard their ships.

Mordwen shuddered, his hollow stomach feeling as though a lump of lead had been placed within it. In his new job he ate well and lived well, though gained an unsavoury reputation.

Such that even after the merchant ships no longer came, that reputation hounded him… and kept him fed.

Though he wasn’t proud of it, in an odd way, his wretched actions gave him hope and the strength to endure and survive.

Not that he understood why he wanted to keep on living. It was an unpleasant truth that things would be easier on everyone if he were gone. That didn’t excuse the cowardly tactics they’d used against him though. Nor that they could cover their own sins by sweeping him away like this.

The dress clung against his bare ankles again as the water surged around his perch. The pristine whiteness of the fabric disgusted him. Do they really think the God of the Sea will be fooled?

Not that Mordwen even believed in such a god; the island people were desperate to place their trust into something unseen, but not he. He ground his teeth against the leather, wishing he could scream a litany of blasphemes to the godless ocean to prove it. If they really meant it, it would be one of their daughters out here to become a fish bride! Truthfully, this was a convenience for them: to get rid of the outsider who knew too much, while placating the God of the Sea or ending the curse or breaking the spell which blighted their island.

But didn’t I do everything they’d wanted? Did my help in all their sordid little plans really mean nothing?

When he had come to, shortly before dawn, and discovered that he had been stripped down and then dressed up as an innocent wife-to-be, Mordwen had raged. He’d known quite well what they intended; the whispers of offering up a sacrifice had been everywhere for some time now. However, he’d never for a moment suspected that they would disregard all the usual “criteria” and put him to the post.

It seemed to him that for all their superstition and piety, they were embarking on a pretty large gamble. And in his fury, twisting in his bonds and the voluminous dress like a netted fish until they forced him still, he’d called out their sins: those made against him and those made against one another with his implicit help.

That was what had brought on the gag. Someone had come round from behind as he raved to slip the leather strap roughly between his teeth and silence him. It had been a bit of a shame though; he’d barely covered half of the wicked tales in his supply.

Mordwen was however granted some comfort currently, in recalling the looks of shock and horror on their faces for the information he had managed to let loose. Let that be my legacy to you bastards: showing you how vile your own neighbours are.

Mordwen sighed and fidgeted, twitching his stiff fingers against the small of his back. The sun was steadily growing unbearable, turning the tips of his pointed ears pink through the veil. He longed to be able to sit down and huffed faintly as he decided that he’d had enough of remembering already.

His stroll down memory lane had not been a pleasant one and the best conclusion he could draw up was that a slow death could not, or would not, grant the desired clarity that a sudden death did.

Just how is this sacrifice deal supposed to work? There had been some ceremony involved earlier, as the solemn parade set out for the cliffs. When they’d tied his bound wrists to the loop set in the post, words had been said over him by the resident holy man and those gathered had turned their faces up in prayer and made gestures over their chests.

To Mordwen their words were as wasted as the precious food they’d left to rot on the altars scattered about town. Maybe that’s how it’ll be for me, he mused dejectedly. I’ll die and rot here. The fish will come back and the salomen will turn tail, and all these inbred zealots will live happily ever after.

It would be almost a kindness for someone to come slit his throat. Mordwen knew a few who could be capable of that task, and would perhaps relish doing so, especially after some of the things he’d said.

A loud and distinct sound made Mordwen jump; it had been an almost-comical sound, described best as a boisterous gargle, but hearing it made Mordwen’s blood run cold, as he knew only one creature who could utter such a cry.

Sucking in a quick breath, Mordwen watched as the saloman lifted itself nimbly onto the rock before him. Another coarse, bubbly cry came and Mordwen whipped his head about to see that a second saloman had climbed onto the small cliff top. In moments there were dozens of the hunched fishmen clambering about him like swarming insects.

Though they had come to settle in great numbers along the island shores just as the lack of fish in the daily catch was becoming dire, Mordwen had never seen a saloman up close. By the accounts of those who had crossed the diminutive monsters, usually in the defense of their farms and livestock, not only were the salomen extremely strong, but they also had a nasty penchant for travelling in groups.

Being scaly creatures with large, unblinking eyes, the salomen had an appearance seeming like a sinister mesh of fish and child. Their scales came in shades of purple and grey, with spots or stripes in black. Their round heads seemed too large for their scrawny bodies, and balanced precariously on thin necks. Each had fins upon the sides of their heads, while only a few had a single dorsal-like fin running along the top of their skulls.

They wore no clothing, but a few adorned themselves with rings of various metals on their twig-like arms and legs. Some carried weapons: crudely fashioned daggers and spears crafted from bits of farming equipment, stone, or glass. Those without weapons relied on their own razor sharp teeth and needle fine claws.

The cold, wet bodies brushed against Mordwen as the salomen clustered about him. The skirt of the white dress stuck to the scaly hides or Mordwen’s legs in turns. Though their overall height reached only up to his waist, it was sufficient enough for them to cut the rope trapping his wrists.

Shocked by his new freedom, Mordwen anxiously brought his hands around, brushing off the rough fibers as he quickly assessed the damage. The skin was rubbed red and stung now that it was exposed to the salty air, but the pain was tolerable and there would be no scars.

As he reached up to remove the gag, his arms were grabbed and drawn back down. The salomen uttered frantic, angry cries, and Mordwen found himself swept off his feet. He struggled, furious to be treated like this a second time, but their hold was dreadfully strong and their skeletal claws pricked his skin and scratched him and made tiny holes in the gown.

Mordwen screamed against the gag as they hauled him towards the water. They mean to drown me and finish what the others couldn’t!

His emerald eyes went wide and he tossed his head back to stare at the sky, still so clear and blue for such a terrible day. The seagulls taunted him one last time before the waves heaved over him and he was sucked down into the churning waters.

As he was unable to close his mouth, the water immediately sped in and surged down his throat, causing him to panic and choke. The wretched salomen maintained their grip even as Mordwen thrashed in desperation.

A shimmering blue light filled his vision and the pain in his chest and the rushing sound in his ears both vanished. Bewildered, Mordwen believed himself to have died, and was surprised by the suddenness of it. Yet casting a look about, he found salomen floating effortlessly in the surrounding water and still holding him prisoner.

Mordwen’s lungs drew in a great breath, though he was not sure how. He grew still in his confusion, and carefully all the salomen released him except for two, who kept his arms out at his sides in a fierce grip.

A curious looking saloman hung before him. Unlike the rest, this one was completely white, with not a single marking. It had the single finned crest that some of the others possessed, but was the only saloman wearing jewels.

This white saloman stared at Mordwen, but the broad face with its drooping mouth and saucer-like eyes seemed expressionless. However, it soon turned its attention to its companions, perhaps satisfied with whatever it saw, and spoke to the others in their gargling language. Its voice seemed almost pleasant to Mordwen’s ears.

The more familiar, chilling cries of the other salomen followed immediately. Several of them seemed upset by what the white one said, and one such saloman close to Mordwen turned and suddenly groped his chest. He winced as the boney fingers sought to grab the flat surface; the saloman’s nails pierced through the white lace and fabric and into the flesh beneath.

Mordwen twisted away, grateful that the saloman hadn’t kept his hold and torn into him further. A rebuttal of hisses and gurgles erupted and again salomen were clambering over him. They grabbed at his skirts and veils, pulled at his hair and ears, and poked at him everywhere.

Frightened as he was, Mordwen was also flabbergasted. Could they actually be arguing over why a man is in a dress? Do they even know the difference?

Scrutinizing his new captors, or possible saviors, Mordwen found he could not discern if those around him were male or female or some assembly of both. Despite their naked forms, nothing stood out. He wondered if they could even tell, or if it even mattered.

Thankfully, the dress had tangled around Mordwen’s legs, preventing the skirts from lifting in the weightless setting. He did not relish the reaction that exposing himself might bring, and the thought of those spindly fingers grabbing him there made his skin crawl. Why no one had bothered to give him some kind of undergarment, he did not know, nor did he much want to speculate on the matter and risk questioning what else the islanders might have done to him while he was unconscious.

Mordwen flinched as his hair was pulled again and a braid came undone, freeing the flowers woven into it. Though he was at the mercy of these creatures, and whatever they had in mind for him, he rather hoped the salomen would come to a consensus already. Growing increasingly soul-sick, he was already so worn out from everything that had happened to him.

The white salomen finally spoke again, and Mordwen lifted his head to see it wave a hand curtly, slicing through the water and bringing about an abrupt silence from the others. Whatever it said, brought the debates to an immediate close; the other fish-men gargled back, some begrudgingly, and the large group was set into motion.

Deeper into the ocean and farther from the island they went. Mordwen tried to look back, but the floating veil obscured his view and a gruff noise from one of the salomen urged him to face forward and carry on. It was difficult to kick his feet and swim in the long skirt, so it often fell to the two salomen holding his arms to simply drag him along.

The waters were cool but not chilling and the salomen maneuvered through the currents expertly and gracefully. But Mordwen soon found that besides his entourage, there was not a single sign of life. Not so much as a minnow darted past them. The lifeblood of the island, the fish they relied so much upon, seemed to have truly vanished.

Sunlight penetrated the ocean surface and sent stunning rays of light to illuminate their way. Mordwen took the spectacle in graciously, certain that few people ever had the chance to witness such a sight.

Something caught the light ahead and made it twinkle like silver. The tension grew steadily as they forged on. Mordwen felt the skinny fingers upon him tremble and flex nervously.

Abruptly Mordwen jerked, wishing he could plant his feet in solid ground to keep in place. They had drawn close enough now that he could see the shape of the shining thing and the impossible size of it. His eyes widened as it spiraled like loosely coiled rope, turning endlessly. Its immense head heralded the way to the water’s surface, while its tail stretched downward, lost to the depths far below.

The legends and stories regarding dragons were numerous. His mother had told him some of her favorites, but none of the tales could prepare him to accept something so colossal.

They were becoming caught in the current its slow and lazy spiraling movement created. The salomen were quite agitated now, and Mordwen suspected that this was not their first venture here. He hoped they knew of the dangers expected and were prepared, though did not like what his presence might mean.

As they were drawn steadily closer, Mordwen gasped, for each scale on the dragon’s hide was a fish!

Baffled, Mordwen’s gaze darted about, soon discovering that every feature and detail of the beast was in fact another fish or form of sea creature. He realised then that the dragon he’d seen from afar had not consumed all life in the ocean, but that all life in the ocean had become the dragon!

It set his mind reeling with questions, and he gawked around his leather gag, the salomen having to tow him along as he sought to take in more of the fish-dragon’s magnificence. He barely noticed how the salomen were readying themselves, but jerked when the great beast ceased its spinning and began lowering its mighty head.

Incredibly, its eyes were also made of fish: two distinct schools of bright yellow ones with flat bodies, while knots of squirming black eels maintained the steady form of a slit pupil. It was actually looking at them, and Mordwen was taken aback, curious as ever, wondering just how it was possible for such a miracle to see.

Every creature that the beast consisted of kept in perfect formation; not a single fish faltered as it barreled down upon them. Even the long whiskers flowing from its snout remained beautifully intact, as though each fish there was bonded together in a string.

Its maw opened, long fish-formed teeth bared, but no roar could be heard. Save for the rush of water its own movements created, the creature was silent. One gulp would consume them whole and leave them lost within the labyrinth of fish.

Several of the salomen rushed to meet the beast head-on, speedily diverting their path at the last minute in hopes of encouraging the dragon to stop its own trek and focus upon one of them. Somehow it worked. Despite their tiny forms the dragon chose to rear back and snapped its jaws at the whizzing little creatures. It was absurdly quick for something so alien and large, and Mordwen saw more than one saloman snatched.

Those salomen still clustered about Mordwen rushed forward and he saw that space had appeared between the dragon’s coils, revealing a large plateau situated upon the pinnacles of three spires. The plateau was covered in what appeared to be a very large bubble, an iridescent shimmer ghosting over its surface. There wasn’t much time for Mordwen to take it all in, but he saw a few odd structures upon the plateau’s very flat surface, and most notably the largest clam in existence.

When the fish-made scales threatened to close up again, the enigmatic light Mordwen had witnessed before shone in the corner of his eye. The white saloman’s whole being suffused with luminescence and the two salomen released him. A current caught him up and propelled him roughly forward, shooting through the narrow space between coils just before they pressed together.

A tingling sensation ran over him as he passed through the dome’s barrier, his body and clothing suddenly dry and salt-free. Mordwen landed poorly, bouncing painfully onto the floor and sliding across its smooth surface. He groaned and lay there trembling a moment, not wanting to rise as he wasn’t sure he could take the next surprise.

But when it seemed that nothing was going to urge him upward otherwise, he sighed and carefully pulled himself to his feet. The solid ground beneath them was a welcome change from all the swimming and floating.

Still nothing happened, and realizing that he was suddenly at liberty to do as he wished, Mordwen scrambled to remove the leather strap. His fingers fumbled along the knots at the back of his head, and after pulling and tugging, while unable to untie the strap, he was at least able to get it free from his mouth and slipped under his chin.

As he flexed his jaw and rubbed at his cheeks in relief, he began to look around his new environment. A glance through the translucent dome revealed that the dragon had resumed its sluggish, tightly wound spiral. Turning his gaze upward, Mordwen did see that the sky still glittered high above as a shiny disc and remarked how it was like peering through a tunnel, one that was quite disorienting.

The plateau was certainly a strange place, like a private island beneath the sea, though it was only about as wide as some of the more substantial houses he’d known. Starting to make his way around, Mordwen saw that walls of brightly coloured coral divided the space into rooms.

The coral walls though only rose to the height of perhaps a head taller than most full-grown human men and did not appear to connect anywhere, giving off a lack of corners. There wasn’t really much in the way of privacy here and Mordwen only had to peer through the latticework of coral to see what he swore were bookshelves on the other side.

Currently, Mordwen stood in the “room” with the giant clam. There was a single pillar of coral a few feet from it and, seeing as how both piqued the half-elf’s interest, he prompted himself to move closer for inspection.

The clam was easily the size of an entire room already, but was not as tall as Mordwen himself. He wondered how large the pearl within must be, but refrained from trying to pry it open and cautiously turned his back to it so that he could look upon the pillar next.

Mounted upon the pillar was a large painting of a woman. She was a beautiful human, with a luxurious tumble of shining gold hair spotted in flowers. Her blue eyes glittered warmth and gentleness, though her demure gaze was shy and shaded by long lashes. She was dressed in a low-cut gown of dazzling white which showed off her ample curves.

It was a stunning portrait, obviously fashioned with great care and adoration, but it unsettled Mordwen and churned his stomach.

“It’s you.”

The whispered words were faint enough, but Mordwen still jumped and whirled about. He was surprised that he hadn’t screamed, anxious as he was.

Soundlessly the clam had opened behind him and revealed that at its centre sat not a pearl but a young man.

Amongst a bed of pink sheets and cushions, he sat staring at Mordwen with big yellow-coloured eyes. His hair was a thick blue mane with a pair of elegant rounded antlers sprouting through. A glimmer of pale silver scales ran under his eyes and at the tip of his chin, as well as along his long pointed ears. He was dressed in a sleeveless blue tunic and knee-length pants. His exposed limbs revealed additional scales.

A fantastic smile broke out upon the strange man’s face and he rose to his feet. “It really is you!” he cried, bounding across the wide expanse of pink and leaping off, to land nimbly before Mordwen. He turned out to be nearly a head shorter than the half-elf, not including the curvaceous horns, and had to peer up at him before abruptly wrapping his arms about Mordwen in an enthusiastic hug.

“He said that you would come when I needed you, and here you are at last!”

Dumbfounded, Mordwen stared down at the short man embracing him. His mind had gone blank as after all that had happened, the last thing he expected to be next was a hug. As he gained some sense back, he found himself wanting to cry; this whole day was just too much to handle.

However, before he could give into that load of despair, he became aware of how the stranger was nuzzling him and purring softly.

“You smell so good.”

Mordwen’s face grew hot, and then a chill went down his spine. He floundered and sought to push the stranger to arm’s length, needing to take hold of a shoulder and one antler to do so.

“Who are you?!” Mordwen shrieked, immediately regretting the panic in his voice. Mordwen frowned when the stranger, one of his antlers still in Mordwen’s hand, cocked his head to the side in a manner so similar to a confused and kicked puppy it threatened to melt Mordwen’s tenacity.

“Ah!” The sudden cry startled Mordwen into releasing him. “I can’t believe I’ve been so rude!” the short man said in a fervent voice. “I sorry, but I’m just so excited that you’re finally here, that I forgot all about my manners. Oh, I’ll be scolded later, to be sure, but please let me introduce myself now.” He beamed and placed a hand to his puffed out chest. “I am Relias Uthreki don Betarr, eleventh son of the great and eternal dragon king of sky and heaven!”

A small laugh escaped Mordwen and he sank to his knees, fearing he might lose his wits right about then. “A dragon prince?” Another frantic little laugh escaped, “I’m going to be eaten by a dragon prince.” His shoulders shook, but he wasn’t sure if he was holding back laughter or sobs. He supposed he could be happy that he was to be consumed by royalty, though of course, he would be much happier to not be eaten at all. Maybe he’ll choke on me.

“Eat you?” The prince’s voice had grown small and he peered worriedly at Mordwen, bowing down in an attempt to look at Mordwen’s face again. “I don’t think I’m supposed to do that.”

Mordwen peeked at Relias, turning to look up at him when he saw that confused and hurt expression. Mordwen licked his lips, fearful, but desperate for information. “Then what are you supposed to do with me?”

The bright smile reappeared, “Marry you!”

Now Mordwen gawked, stunned yet again, and did not refuse the help to stand. Soon he was looming over Relias, who seemed keen to remain as close as possible. “But–” He gazed down at that happy face. “You can’t marry me.”

That smile did not falter, and Relias brought a hand up to brush along Mordwen’s cheek, brushing back a bit of blonde hair from it. “You have such pretty eyes,” he sighed, and Mordwen’s cheeks flared. “I like your eyes so much more.”

“My eyes?” Mordwen turned quickly to the painting and then turned back to Relias. “I’m not her.”

Relias blinked and performed much the same act, looking to the painting and then back. He laughed, the sound charming and merry. “That’s obvious!” He gazed up at Mordwen in a way that made the half-elf’s heart do flip-flops. “I like you. You’re so much better.”

That didn’t seem likely; he couldn’t think of just how he could even begin to measure up to such a beautiful woman, aside from a couple superficial similarities.

“You know, this must be destiny!” Relias cheered, “I never thought that she could help me, but I get the feeling that you can. I can’t explain it, but I just know it’s true. You’re the one!”

Mordwen wasn’t sure where to begin. Just how was he supposed to help this creature? It seemed reasonable to assume that Relias was trapped here, but Mordwen had no magic with which to break spells.

Though Mordwen shook his head sadly, for a moment wishing that somehow this was destiny and he was needed for once, Relias was not deterred. “It’s all right if you don’t know what to do now. I don’t know either, but it’ll come to us. All I do know is that you’re the one to help me,” he stressed again.

It pained Mordwen to hear such hope in Relias’ voice, but again he said nothing. He was relieved that he wouldn’t be eaten, at least for the moment, but there was still so much to sort out.

“Um, but could you tell me your name?” Relias asked meekly, and Mordwen realized that it had been his turn to be ashamed about his manners, though looking back he wasn’t sure when a decent point had come up for him to make his own introductions.

“Mordwen Stormbreaker,” he said, smiling and feeling so much better for being able to do such a simple thing.

“Mordwen Stormbreaker,” Relias echoed with an appreciative sigh. “That’s a wonderful name.”

Mordwen blinked and his cheeks coloured faintly; no one had said such a kind thing to him before about what he found to be an oddly precious thing. “You really think so?”

Relias nodded enthusiastically. “I really do! It’s pretty, but strong too. Fierce even!” The small man pumped a fist in the air for emphasis and flashed a fanged little grin. “And Stormbreaker, that sounds like a hero’s name!”

Mordwen had to laugh. “Believe me, I’m no hero. But my mother would be so happy to hear you say that. She was the one to name me and often called me her brave little Stormbreaker. She loved telling the story of my birth.” His chest warmed at the sweet recollection of her lilting narration. “According to her, there was a terrible storm ravaging the sea when I decided I wanted to see the world for myself.

“It had been a storm filled with the fury of a wrathful god, or so my mother would say, but it vanished suddenly, and the sun shone through the clouds the moment I arrived and uttered my first cry.” Mordwen felt his cheeks warm further, hotter than the sensation in his chest. He was not quite sure why he would share such tender details with this endearing young man so soon after meeting.

“That’s amazing!” Relias exclaimed, clapping his hands together. “Ooh, I want to hear the whole story though! You’ve only given me a glimpse and I want to know so much more about you!” He pouted, folding his arms over his chest sternly, but only seconds later the corner of his mouth twitched upward. “Maybe your mother could tell me everything? I’m sure she’s just as wonderful as you!”

“Yes, she was wonderful,” Mordwen couldn’t help stressing the difference, “and I’m sure she would have loved to share her stories with you, but I’m afraid that’s just not possible.” Mordwen’s shoulders sagged. “She had to return to the forest, you see.”

“The forest?” Again Relias did that slight head tilt, unwittingly puppy-like.

“It’s a place filled with green trees,” Mordwen said, hoping that Relias had some idea of what he spoke of. “She was an elf, and elves thrive in the green places of the world. Where we lived was an arid place, filled with rocks and salt. Only the hardiest of plants grew there, and they were hardly green. She tried to make the best of it, I know she did, but it became too much for her to bear. So she left us, had to I suppose, and returned to the forest, where she belonged.”

“Why didn’t she take you with her? Don’t you need the green places too?” Relias looked worried and his voice was small. It made Mordwen want to hug him, but he curbed the desire and chastised the silly impulse.

“I’m only a half-elf. It’s probably thanks to my human father that I was able to adapt,” Mordwen explained, and he shrugged faintly. Time had dulled the pain of loss. “Besides, she couldn’t take me, since the path of her journey was not one that I could follow.”

“Oh… I’m sorry. I would have very much liked to meet her. I’ve never been told who my mother was, so meeting yours, maybe then I could picture what sort of person mine could be. The person who brought you into this world, she just… she must have been really special, like you.”

“You really give me too much credit,” Mordwen sighed, though it felt wonderful to hear such kind words, “but I think she would have really liked you.”

Relias beamed shyly at that and laced his fingers behind his back coyly. “I think my father can make up for me not knowing who my mother is though, because he’s a pretty big deal! He’s the mighty dragon king who rules over the celestial realm and he commands vast armies of other dragons! My brothers and sisters are his best warriors! Someday, I’ll be among them and I’m going to be the greatest of father’s warriors! He’ll be so proud of me!”

Relias preened a little. He acted like such a child, excitable yet well-mannered, but his form was clearly that of a young man. Mordwen was something at odds with how to deal with him, though found the animated speech enthusiastic tone comforting. “What about you, Mordwen; what’s your father like?”

Mordwen pulled free of his thoughts and laughed softly. “Oh, no one so great, certainly. In fact, I think he might have been a pirate.”

“A pirate?!” Relias’ eyes grew round. “Aren’t those the men who sail the seas, sinking ships and stealing treasure?”

Mordwen nodded before he replied, “That’s right. I don’t know if it’s true though. It was just something people would whisper about. He left only a couple years after my mother did and took everything of value from our home. So he was either a pirate or just a very cruel man.”

Relias pouted and shook his head with disapproval. “That sounds awful of him. What did you do? Were you lonely?”

Here Mordwen hesitated, but smiled again and carefully filtered his words. “I stayed behind, and found ways to… not be so alone and keep on surviving.”

“Wow, Mordwen, you really are brave, and strong, and well, I never thought I would meet anyone as amazing as you!”

Mordwen shook his head, “You keep saying that, but I’m really not. I just did what I had to.” Guilt seized around his heart, it felt like it had deceived Relias by not being upfront, but he didn’t want Relias to think badly of him, unreasonable as that was.

“You’re amazing to me, Mordwen, and that’s all there is to it!” Relias said with a curt nod. “But I’m sorry that your father didn’t see that. It doesn’t sound like he was at all fair. I hope that when we meet my own father, he will be a fair and wonderful dragon and that the three of us can talk for a long, long time.”

“You’ve never met your father?”

“That’s right. Not even once,” Relias said, not at all upset by the admission. Folding his arms, he looked up through the dome and to that disc of light flanked by many thousands of fish. “Someday though, I’ll be called to his side, to serve in his court and fight in his army, but only when the time is right. I used to hope that that time would come soon.” His gaze fixed upon Mordwen. “But now that you’re here, I think waiting a little longer will be okay.”

Mordwen’s heart was having those strange palpitations again. “So you’ve been waiting all alone here?”

Relias nodded and shrugged. “Yeah, but Alfri talks to me. He’s my teacher and he taught me everything I know. Like how to read and write and how to do arithmetic and mind my manners. He’s even taught me all about the world outside the ocean, so I’m not totally ignorant.” He paused a moment to laugh and stuck out his tongue. “Well, not on everything at least, I know that I can’t know everything! But the world of land sounds like a really incredible place. I’d love to see trees and grass and mountains someday. I’ve seen pictures and read about them, but that’s never the same, is it?”

Mordwen shook his head, his heart going out to the innocent young prince. “No, it really isn’t. But, does that mean you’ve never left this place either?”

“I can’t leave,” Relias stated simply. “It’s okay though. I’m a dragon and a dragon’s patience is infinite. That’s what Alfri tells me anyway, I sometimes think he made that up though. Hey, I should introduce you to him! He’s a really great guy! And he’s the one who always told me that someday someone beautiful would come to help me and then I wouldn’t be by myself anymore. It was you he was talking about, but I wonder why he didn’t let me know when you were coming? I guess he wanted it to be a surprise.” He let out a loud laugh. “That must be it! That Alfri, always with the surprises.”

Relias took hold of Mordwen’s hand and Mordwen gripped it firmly in return. “Are you going to introduce me to him already?”

“Sure!” Relias began leading Mordwen, his pull eager yet gentle. “I want you to get along with all of the important people in my life. Even though, I guess for now, Alfri is the only one there is.”

“But what about that thing out there?” Mordwen asked, pointing up to the fish-dragon.

“That…” Relias looked up at the circling beast, his expression darkening while he squeezed Mordwen’s hand tighter. “I don’t really know what that is. It just started to appear one day, right around the time I started needing help, I guess. Then it just kept getting bigger and bigger and… I don’t like it. It acts weird, it doesn’t talk to me, and I just really wish it would go away.”

It seemed to be a sore point, so Mordwen did not press further on the subject.

They soon entered what was clearly a library. It was stocked with a hearty wealth of knowledge: tomes of all sorts ranging on a large variety of topics. While Mordwen wished he could take a look at a few, Relias kept leading him, pausing when he reached a well located at the heart of the room. “This is where Alfri talks to me.”

The well was a round stone construct with ornate patterns carved into it. Dark water filled the vessel to the rim and was so still it created a mirror. It looked peculiar amongst all the other constructs of coral, so solid and impenetrable.

“He hasn’t contacted me in so long,” Relias babbled happily, “but I can still see into his home! Since it’s been such a lucky day, maybe we’ll catch him!”

Mordwen nodded, both nervous and excited for the chance to talk to someone so highly touted, one who might know a few answers about this place and his supposed role in it. Mordwen could only hope that Alfri would be forthcoming with the information and wouldn’t be too angry that his pupil had become so enamoured with a complete stranger.

Relias waved his hand over the still pool and the water rippled, distorting their reflections. The colours in their faces spread out and flourished creating a new image. Mordwen’s heart leapt when he peered into a chamber with stone walls.

Relias sighed and pouted. “I really wish he would clean up. He was always so fussy about having me keep things tidy, but then he goes and leaves such a mess. I think he’s testing me; he’s done that before. But I’ve gotten wise to his ways, so I’m not going to fall for it this time. I’ll be good, and I won’t give in.”

Mordwen had been frowning at the scene since it settled and he was then able to take in all the details. Everything was in disarray: tables upturned and smashed, chests thrown open; any number of small trinkets and artifacts littered the floor, most of them broken. A thick coating of dust and a wealthy amount of cobwebs had settled upon it all and Mordwen bowed his head sorrowfully. “Relias,” he said softly, “when was the last time you saw Alfri?”

“A few years ago,” Relias replied casually, searching the room. “I think. It’s been a while anyway.”

“I see.” Mordwen did not have the heart to tell such a naïve person, whom he had only just met, that something terrible may have happened to someone they cared about. Mordwen didn’t even know if Relias would understand, having lived his entire life in a literal bubble. “It looks like he’s not home.”

Relias frowned and nodded. “Yeah. That’s too bad. I really wanted you to meet him.” The image in the water faded and Relias smiled at Mordwen, “I hope he won’t be too angry that I found someone I like more than him.”

“Like me more? But you don’t even know me.”

“Then I’ll get to know you,” Relias countered, “and then I’ll like you even more.”

Mordwen looked into the mirror-flat water, disliking his own pretty reflection. He dipped a finger haphazardly into the mystical water to deform it, then popped the wet digit into his mouth, finally getting a little refreshment and thankfully no magical backlash. “What do you even like about me now?”

Relias continued to smile. “I like that you’re beautiful, and that I can touch you and smell you, and that you’re really, really here.”

That had not been exactly comforting, but as Relias reached out to him, Mordwen allowed the prince’s cool hand to rest on his cheek. “But what am I supposed to do here?”

Relias was standing very close again and watching him with those big eyes. “You’re supposed to marry me and help me.”

“Help you with what? I can’t… I don’t know how to free you. I don’t even know if I could free myself.” Mordwen was afraid to touch the protective dome, in case it reacted to his trying to pass through from the inside going out. And there was the matter that even if he did manage to elude the dragon of fish, the spell the saloman had used on him may no longer be active and he might drown before ever making it to the surface.

Relias shook his head, his antlers bumping against Mordwen’s cheek and chin as he nuzzled against Mordwen’s chest. “That’s not it… That’s not how you’re going to help me.”

“Then…” Mordwen stopped, it felt like they were getting nowhere with this line of questioning, so he switched tracks to the other matter Relias kept bringing up. “How are supposed to get married?”

Yellow eyes gleamed up at him and Relias grinned. “That part’s easy! We kiss!”

“Wh-what?!” Mordwen took hold of Relias’ shoulders and held him still while he took a step back, as it was easier to move himself than Relias. “That’s not how it goes.”

“Sure it is!” Relias insisted, looking appalled that Mordwen didn’t know it. “That’s how it always is, in the stories. The prince kisses the princess, and then they’re married and live happily ever after.”

Mordwen blinked. That was… a very childlike but direct way of observing things. To one who didn’t know just what marriage entailed, and all the pomp and circumstance leading up to it, that whole glossing-over at the end of a story really did look so very simple.

Mordwen coughed into a hand lightly and stood straight. “But I’m not a princess,” he pointed out, now trying harder to poke holes into Relias’ theory.

Relias peered at Mordwen closely, brows knitting; his gaze flicked downward and then upward. “But you have the uniform.”

“Uniform?” Mordwen looked down at himself and the long white dress. A chill spread through him, and it felt as though ice coursed through his veins. He brought his hands down into the skirt, balling them into fists with the pristine fabric clutched tightly. “Those bastards put me in this, thinking it would make me more appealing to the sea god. It was supposed to be a stupid trick.”

The awful revelation made Mordwen’s chest feel tight. “But it worked, didn’t it?! It got those idiot fish-faces to bring me here!”

Mordwen began to tear at the beautiful fabric, the little holes and scratches inflicted by the salomen made it easier to rip and shred. He pulled at the veil and flowers, not caring how he tugged at his hair. “It made a naïve prince be interested in me and give me hope! Hope, ha! I’m not a doll!” he screamed, finally letting the bitterness and hurt take over. “I’m a man! They can’t just dress me up and treat me like this! They can’t… they can’t throw me away like this! Not after everything I did for them! Not after… all the things… all the terrible things… Why do they keep using me for terrible things?”

His words succumbed to wailing, which he stifled against Relias’ shoulder. He did not know when he’d been taken back into that embrace, but the strong arms felt good around him and would be the final thing he remembered once exhaustion came.

Later, Mordwen would wake amongst blissfully soft bedding. He had been settled within the great clam and undressed. But this time he was thankful to have been stripped in his sleep.

Just as he finished rubbing sleep and dry tears from his eyes, Relias emerged. Mordwen’s face went hot and he turned away, ashamed of his outburst.

“You should drink this,” Relias offered quietly. A delicious smell assailed Mordwen. A bowl filled with creamy soup was held out for him, and he took it with only a moment’s hesitation, too famished and worn to care about where it came from or what it might be.

Surprisingly, it tasted like chicken, and as soon as the hot soup was finished and had settled comfortably in his belly, Relias handed him a cup of water. It was cool and refreshing, and again Mordwen did not question its origin.

They were silent, and for the first time Mordwen realized just how very quiet and still it was here. He peered at Relias, wondering how the other could have dealt with it for so long, being so alone. His breakdown must have been frightening.

“I’m sorry.”

“What for?” Relias asked, his voice light but genuinely curious.

Mordwen shrank back, “For… shouting and crying like that.”

Relias smiled and took a seat next to Mordwen, legs hanging off the edge of the clam. “It’s okay,” he said, brushing his fingers along Mordwen’s red cheek. “It feels better now, doesn’t it?”

Mordwen nodded, and looked at him. “Do you… ever?”

Relias bobbed his head. “Sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes I cry out, loud as I can, for Alfri or for father, but they never listen, and they never come.”

Now Mordwen reached out and brushed his hand along Relias’ cheek, coaxing him to turn back.

“Mordwen,” Relias shifted further onto the bed, coming closer, “do you think I’ve been thrown away too?”

That hurt, and Mordwen winced from the sharp pang in his chest, but while he was assured of his own loss, he knew so little of Relias’ own. “I don’t know.”

“Will you stay with me, until someone comes?” Relias shook his head. “No, even if they don’t, will you stay?”

Mordwen’s brow furrowed. “Why would you want me to? I’m not your princess. That dress…”

“I don’t care about what you wear!” Relias said hurriedly, then flushed a little and averted his gaze shyly. “You were suffering so much from it, though, that I took it off. Even when I did, I still knew that you were the one. It doesn’t matter to me what you are, just as long as you stay with me… please?”

Mordwen smiled softly; he really didn’t have anywhere else to be, so why not here? Why not with someone who might actually and truly want me? “I will.” This time he caught Relias in his arms and pulled him in close. “I will stay with you forever if you want it.” And he pressed his lips against Relias’ own, sealing his promise.

Relias’ lips quivered against Mordwen’s and he reared back once Mordwen parted. “Th-that was a kiss!”

Mordwen blinked and laughed softly. “It was.”

Relias’ blue tipped fingers brushed along his lips and he pounced Mordwen, sending the taller man down into the cushions. “Again! Marry me again!”

“Marry, what? Mnf!” Mordwen found his lips pushed against, clumsily and almost painfully. Frowning, Mordwen responded, seeking to soften and even deepen the embrace, just to teach the other a little lesson. His tongue brushed along Relias’ lips, and though Relias tensed slightly, he tentatively replied and soon proved himself to be a very quick study.

As they parted, Mordwen found himself flushed and slightly out of breath, and noted with amusement that Relias was as well. “Again,” Relias breathed, closing in. Mordwen closed his eyes and yielded without complaint, letting his mind go blank as Relias displayed a natural talent.

“Mordwen,” Relias whispered as he shifted over top the man, “I want to marry you… again and again and again, but… mn… will you help me first?”

It amused him greatly that to Relias, making out was considered a wedding, but Mordwen was disappointed that they were going to stop. “Then you know what I have to help you with?”

Relias nodded; he was shaking, and Mordwen found that worrisome. “It’s… I think you need to,” he began haltingly, “help me, with… my body.”

“Your body?”

Another nod. “It’s… it’s acting weird again. I just… I don’t know what to do when it gets like this.”

Mordwen worried that he might suddenly have a full-sized dragon upon him, and noted that outside, the fish-dragon seemed to be growing agitated, starting to lose the steady motion of its coiling, like it was preparing to spring into motion. With a beast as large as that thrashing about, no wonder there had been so many storms.

“What can I do? What’s happening to you? Are you changing?”

Relias bit his lips and nodded, taking hold of one of Mordwen’s hands and suddenly pressing it against his crotch. “It keeps growing and it’s so hot. Mmm, what do I do, Mordwen?”

“What do you do… with your erection?”

“Er… erection?” Relias shuddered as Mordwen gripped him carefully and rubbed his palm against the shape pressing tight against his trousers. “Mn… what do I do with… this erection?”

Mordwen wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all. This was what Relias was so desperate about? This was the help that only Mordwen could perform? It suddenly occurred to Mordwen that he really wasn’t useless here at all, that there was indeed something else he was good at, though he hated admitting it before. “You leave it to me.”

“T-to you?” Relias gasped as Mordwen pulled the pants down and let the prince’s hard cock spring free. Seemed he wasn’t small all over.

“That’s right,” Mordwen said, sliding out from under the other and the sheets, and taking Relias’ hand to pull him down onto the bed. He began undoing Relias’ top. Relias did nothing to stop him and Mordwen smiled, “After all, aren’t I the one who can help you?”

“Mn!” Relias murmured, nodding as Mordwen stripped him.

Mordwen laughed softly at the tawdry words he’d just uttered. Staring down at Relias’ prone form, he appreciated the uniqueness and strangeness of it. Here and there, pale silvery scales gleamed against the milky flesh. He drew a finger along one patch, flowing over the lacquer like finish of the scales and onto the more pliant skin.

Mordwen smiled and had to steal another kiss, meaning it only to be a peck, but Relias was quick to intercept him and take far more.

Mordwen murmured against Relias’ mouth, his tongue slipping and sliding along Relias’ before fully parting. It seemed criminal how one who’d barely known what a kiss was moments ago could become such an adept already. The skill from that mouth and the excitement was affecting Mordwen rapidly. He rocked his hips against Relias and groaned.

Relias gasped sharply, his body springing taut as he arched. “Ah… haa… you… you’re like me,” he said, his hands following Mordwen’s flat chest and looking down between them to where Mordwen’s rising cock jostled against his own.

“Is that an issue? That I’m also a man?” He hadn’t really gotten around to introducing that point earlier before breaking down.

“Should it be?” Relias asked, looking up with such innocence that Mordwen did not have the heart to tell him otherwise. He lightly kissed Relias’ brow this time, eliciting a soft gasp of surprise from Relias, when he found that not catching those kisses on his lips was good too.

“No, it shouldn’t.”

Relias beamed, his hands roaming over Mordwen’s body further, just exploring how one could be so similar. “I like… that you’re like me, but different too.”

Mordwen laughed softly. “You’re so sweet,” he praised, kissing and lightly nibbling along his neck and making him giggle. Mordwen’s heart fluttered as he wondered just how many tender spots he would encounter on the small, buff frame.

He brought a hand down to Relias’ member, forming it over the length and stroking slowly, rubbing his palm against the head, while his fingertips pressed against the base and where the shaft met the sac. Mordwen steadily worked lower on Relias’ trembling body, relishing each little gasp and cry he brought out of him with the placement of his lips on the fair skin. He delighted in finding that the scales were not so responsive to kisses as they were to touch, and he quite enjoyed how Relias’ yelped and flinched when he caught a nipple in his mouth.

“Th-that… what was that?!”

Mordwen giggled and blew softly upon the damp nub, which made Relias squirm all over. “Did it feel good?”

Relias was a little perplexed, but nodded and writhed some more. “It… everything you’re doing feels good. I… I don’t get it. Is this… is this helping?”

“Mmm, guess we’ll see,” Mordwen replied noncommittally, and then slid his tongue straight down Relias’ stomach, dipping briefly into the navel there before stopping and coming level with his cock.

“Ah, wh-why are you… looking at it like that?” Relias whimpered.

“Because it looks beautiful,” Mordwen replied, and made Relias squeal as he replaced his hand with a slow, upward sweep of his tongue.

Mordwen could not help himself and giggled as he noted that after making such a noise, Relias had clapped his hands over his mouth. “It’s okay,” he said calmly, “you can make as much noise as you like.”

Relias looked uncertain and drew his hands away carefully, but not entirely. “I… I’ve never heard myself like that before.”

Mordwen laughed again as he kissed the tip of Relias’ cock and caught him off-guard, making him squeak with surprise. “I have a feeling you’ll be hearing yourself make lots of new sounds very soon.” And as if to prove it, Mordwen then descended upon Relias, taking Relias’ shaft into his mouth slowly and with a firm seal of his lips. He hadn’t gone far though, when Relias’ hips bucked upward, forcing Mordwen to accept it all abruptly.

Used to such impetuousness, Mordwen accepted the action in stride, but tried to silently coax Relias into settling down a little while he swiped his tongue around length and girth. He pressed his hands to Relias’ hips, urging them to stay down, though Relias was clearly the stronger of the two.

Relias panted, his skin flushed; his eyes glittered darkly and he clenched at the sheets surrounding his head. “M-Mordwen,” he whimpered, yelping when Mordwen performed a special little trick with his tongue, “Ah! S-something… something feels weird… something’s… oooh!” The look of shock and pleasure that swept over Relias’ features was a thing of comic beauty.

Mordwen let the dragon’s cum fill his mouth, his tongue rolling the thick offering against the cock still between his lips. Not bad, he thought with wicked delight before swallowing and pulling himself away, arching a brow at the still hard shaft jutting from Relias’ crotch. “Not enough?” he asked, stealing another lick.

Relias looked dazed, but trembled under Mordwen’s continued assault. “Wh-what was that? Was that good?” His gaze lowered a moment and a shy smile came to Relias’ lips. “It felt really good.”

Mordwen laughed softly, raising himself up and climbing over the smaller man. “I’ll explain it after. For now, how about we just concentrate on helping you out? Seems you’ve got a lot pent up, hm?”

Relias stared at Mordwen, perhaps not understanding, and so just leaned up to take another kiss. Mordwen blushed as he murmured happily while that eager tongue thrust into his mouth. There hadn’t been too many who wanted to kiss him right after his mouth had been at work, and it made him near joyful that Relias obviously didn’t mind.

The prince parted with a soft gasp and shuddered. “Mordwen, that…” He shuddered again, as Mordwen smirked and purposely rubbed his cock against Relias’ own. “Your body… it’s also…” He began to look worried, as though thinking his plight was contagious.

“Shh, it’s all right. This is a good thing, trust me,” Mordwen cooed, delighted and amused. He couldn’t resist giving tiny kisses along Relias’ jaw and just behind his ears, which by the way he trembled and sucked in breath, he clearly enjoyed.

“Sh-should I… should I use my mouth on it then?”

Mordwen paused briefly and giggled, “Maybe later. I still feel like I should take responsibility first.”

“O-okay,” Relias whispered, letting out a low moan as Mordwen ran a hand over his chest. Gazing up at the half-elf straddling him, he sighed, “You’re so beautiful.”

Mordwen laughed breathlessly. If this was any other liaison, he might have made some glib comment about not needing flattery at this point, but as that was not the case, he could only coyly accept the compliment as he moved into position.

There was plenty of doubt wandering through Mordwen’s mind, and more than enough berating from his own conscience. He should not be taking advantage of this innocent and naïve man, nor should he be acting so brashly in his own rather vulnerable state.

Yet he pushed all that aside, telling himself that this was somehow right, that as ludicrous as it seemed, he’d been brought here, by destiny or divine providence or mere coincidence, to see to it that a dragon prince got his rocks off.

Lowering himself upon Relias’ cock, he groaned at his own foolish and hysterical reasoning.

Apparently still an apt pupil, Mordwen was glad when Relias didn’t buck into him, but it did look as though he might pass out or at the very least, cum instantly. “Breathe, Relias… it’s okay,” he cooed, running his hands up and down the toned little chest as he settled upon Relias’ thighs, that dick fully inside him, pulsing thick and strong.

“Mordwen… Mordwen, I’m… I’m inside you,” Relias gasped, the disbelief in his voice making Mordwen smile.

“Mmm, I know,” Mordwen replied, licking his lips as he relished the sensation and clenched round the welcomed invader, shivering when Relias jumped just a little. “How is it?”

“Tight,” Relias said, “and hot. It… it feels… amazing. But is it okay for you?” He blushed and Mordwen knew he must be thinking of just what it would feel like if their positions were reversed… which Mordwen would not be opposed to, at a later time.

“You feel hot too… Hot and hard, and I can feel your heart beating.” His fingers moved along Relias’ chest and stomach firmly. “It feels very, very good.” Mordwen did leave out the mention of the bit of pain involved, as preparations had been less than ideal, but he’d dealt with worse and would worry about that lesson later. “Mmm, I’m going to move now.”

“Move? Ah! No, don’t go-ooh!!”

Mordwen laughed breathlessly as he plunged back down, his hands coming to Relias’ own as they’d gripped him suddenly when he’d lifted himself up. He was sure they would leave bruises, but he lifted himself again and allowed Relias to bring him back down in desperation.

“Relias, it’s all right. Ah… haa, this is supposed to happen. Mmm, I’m not about to let you go either.”

Relias whimpered, but his grip did soften, and it took only a couple more rises and falls before Relias truly believed Mordwen. By that point too, he could no longer hold back and began to aid Mordwen, thrusting up and breaking the slow rhythmic pace.

Mordwen bounced on the narrow hips, giving in to his own pleasure, calling out for Relias with sweet abandon. Relias, having spotted Mordwen’s own hard shaft bobbing erratically against him, brought a hand to it and began to stroke. Though he was quite swept up by now, Mordwen still let out a puff of laughter upon seeing that timid need for approval in those lustful golden eyes.

“Yess, yess,” he hissed. “That feels good… mm, touch me more, Relias.”

“M-Mordwen… wh-when I touch you… you keep tightening up… I can’t… I… nh!”

Mordwen saw stars as Relias climaxed within him, the sensation bringing him about to his own end. Though all he wanted to do was collapse, he managed to at least fall onto his side, Relias slipping free, a little seed drooling against Mordwen’s thighs as they brushed against that spent cock.

Relias lay there, watching Mordwen, not quite sure what to make of what had just happened. Mordwen smiled and gathered Relias into his arms. “Feeling better?”

Relias blinked and then smiled back. “Y-yes. I feel… lighter.”

Mordwen laughed and kissed Relias’ brow. “So I’ve helped?”

Relias snuggled against Mordwen’s chest, “Yes, yes you’ve definitely helped… but, will you continue to help me?”

Mordwen bit at his lips, feeling guilty at the exalted cry that went through his chest. “If… if you want me to.”

“I do! I do!” Relias said hurriedly and loudly, looking up at Mordwen, worried that there could be anything contrary. “Please, stay here and help me.”

Mordwen brushed a hand upon Relias’ cheek, then let his thumb trace the trembling lower lip. “Didn’t I already say I will? Always and forever?” He found himself blushing, embarrassed at his own sincerity behind the words, and chose to alleviate the sensation a little: “Besides, aren’t we married?”

The yellow eyes grew round and Relias soon beamed. “That’s right! We kissed, lots of times! So that means, we’re married, lots of times!”

Mordwen laughed. “Sure, we’ll go with that.” Mordwen hugged Relias closer and looked up, through the shimmering clear dome and through the coils of the dragon made of fish.

“Hey,” he said, eyes widening, “it’s breaking up.”

And sure enough, whole chunks, great schools of fish, came drifting free of the once perfectly uniform creature.

“That’s… because you’ve helped me,” Relias said softly, looking skyward as well, a little frown on his features as some schools dispersed rapidly, while others still looked reluctant to leave, and still the overall vast form remained unbroken. “But it’s still here, I… I’m sorry.”

Mordwen however smiled at this development and settled back down, stroking his fingers through Relias’ hair and along the antlers. “It just means I’ll have to keep helping you, maybe for a very long time.” The manifestation, or whatever it surely was, was not an overnight problem, but Mordwen found himself glad of that. “I look forward to showing you all the different ways I can help you.”

“Different… ways?”

Mordwen giggled and nodded, then smirked as Relias began to squirm against him.

“Then… will you help me again now?”

“Of course,” Mordwen cooed, slipping a hand down between them, “but let’s not call it helping anymore. Let’s call it for what it really is.”

Relias gasped, but looked to Mordwen with rapt attention. “Wh-what is it… what is it called?”

“Making love.”

Relias smiled and the top of the clam began to fold over them. “I like that.”

“Oh, and Relias?”

“Mn?”

“Thank you for making this the best day of my life.”

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