A couple of hours after arriving back at Klodia, I sat on a large rock outside, feeling a little sad. I certainly hadn't planned on being a burden to these people, and while they had clearly expressed that they didn't mind helping me, that's exactly what I felt like I was. Soon Perrin came over and sat down next too me.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"I didn't intend for you to get separated from your group like that."
"It's not your fault," I told him. "You didn't intend for us to fall into that cart in the cave."
"But still, I can't help but feel I'm responsible for it."
"Don't worry about it," I assured him.
He was about to say something when a bell started ringing. He went a bit pale. "Oh man, of all the times for that to happen!"
"What?" I asked, confused.
"Dore and one of the female griffins are rising to mate!"
"Haven't you ever heard of what happens to people who are near griffins who mate?"
"Uh..." I said, then froze as I remembered something I'd heard once. In their mating frenzy, they produced some sort of psyonic resonance that caused humans – particularly guys – for quite a ways around to also have the uncontrollable urge to mate (or at least those who have hit puberty; those children who hadn't started puberty seemed unaffected).
"Yeah," Perrin said when he saw my reaction. "You're gonna want to screw, and hard! I just hope you like girls that way! Come on!" He practically dragged me back to the living area, where there was a commotion going on as people rushed around. He stopped one person – the guy I'd seen in the baths a couple of days before, Tamin – and asked if either of us could help.
"No," Tamin told him. "Just go to your room and get ready." To me, he said, "In case you don't know the drill, just go to your temporary room and take your clothes off. Someone will be with you shortly."
I swallowed hard and nodded before heading off. By "somebody," I knew he meant a girl, the girl I'd wind up having to have sex with while the griffins mated. I wondered who it'd be. With my luck as of late, I'd probably wind up with Odalys. I arrived at the room and went in. Shutting the door, I pulled my clothes off and dropped them next to the pack. I sat nervously on the only chair in the room, waiting for whoever was to come. The door soon opened, and I stood and turned to face who came through it.
It was Jovana.
I felt my cheeks go warm as she entered and shut the door. While I was naked, she was wearing a floor-length blue robe (which, I suppose, made since, as she probably didn't want to parade naked through the hallways from wherever her room was).
She looked me over for a moment before saying, "Hmm, interesting. You're a bit bigger than I thought you'd be."
I was about to stammer out something in reply when a feeling of such horniness came over me that my dick went from soft to hard so fast it hurt. I immediately doubled over from the shock and pain, wrapping my arms around my waist as I stumbled backward for a couple of steps, a sort of "Nnnnnggggghhhhh!" escaping my clenched teeth.
As I stood there, doubled over and breathing hard, a pair of bare legs came into my view. "Oh, you've got it bad, kid," I heard Jovana say. Then a hand grabbed my upper arm, and I was unceremoniously dragged over to where the bed was and shoved onto it. I flopped down onto it, landing on my back, with my suddenly limp arms dangling over the sides.
Suddenly Jovana was on top of me, her boobs pressing into my scrawny chest, and a warm, wet, tight sensation surrounded my dick at about the same time. As I felt her start moving up and down, I realized that the feeling around my dick must have been caused by it entering her pussy. My hips suddenly seemed to develop a mind of their own as they started thrusting up and down, my arms flopping around as my hips started slamming forcefully (and painfully) into hers. I couldn't stop it from happening – I couldn't even slow it down! I wasn't in control of my own body; I felt like I was a spectator who was not only watching an event, but also knowing how one of the participants was feeling. A weird scream echoed in the room, and I wondered why she was screaming before I realized the scream hadn't come from her – it had been ripped from my own throat.
On and on we went, our hips smacking into each other repeatedly as we made grunting and panting sounds and occasional screams. After some unspecified time, I felt the warm wetness sliding up and down my dick start spasming. The small part of my brain that was still working wondered what that was. Jovana let out a long, loud moan while she continued to ride me hard. The spasming went on for a little while before it ended.
But our sex didn't stop there, as our bodies continued to mate. Soon her face, which had been crystal clear earlier, started getting blurry, becoming an oval-shaped flesh-colored blob, and her red hair made it look like it was surrounded by flames, and as she rode me it moved closer to me, then further away, then closer. Sounds became muffled. I felt cold, then hot, then cold.
Then the warm, wet tightness around my dick started spasming a second time, and it was enough to push me over the edge. I cried out as I came and came. But it wasn't like any ejaculation I'd ever felt before. When I was little, I'd gone with my father on an errand to a forge, and I'd seen a pair of smiths pouring liquid metal into a mold. That liquid metal was almost what it felt like was surging through my dick and into Jovana right then.
After what seemed like an eternity, the ejaculation ended. My hips finally stopped their thrusting as my whole body went limp, and Jovana collapsed onto me. We laid there for a while, gasping for breath (which wasn't easy for me, since she was laying on me, and my face was buried in her hair). At one point she even whispered, "Oh, Aidan."
Eventually, she slowly slid off of me, my now-limp dick sliding out of her pussy. I tried to sit up, but a wave of dizziness swept over me. I flopped back down onto the bed as I squeezed my eyes shut. A hand was placed gently but firmly on my chest.
"Shhh," Jovana whispered into my ear as she curled up next to me. "Sleep, Aidan."
And with that, darkness overcame me.
I woke slowly, groaning out and promptly wincing at how raw my throat felt. Jovana stirred next to me, her right arm draped over me and her head resting partially on my chest, but she didn't wake. I found that someone – Jovana? – had put a blanket over the two of us at some point after I'd passed out. I carefully got myself out from under Jovana and then slid out from under the blanket, and sat on the edge of the bed. I wondered just how long I'd been out. A glance out the room's small window showed that the sun was just coming up over the eastern horizon. Wow – I'd been out for more than half a day!
I was rather horrified by what had happened. Sure, it wasn't like it was my fault or anything – I had no control over my actions, forced into the mating frenzy by the griffins. But still, this isn't how I'd ever intended to make out with a girl for the first time. Plus, how would Jovana feel about me after what had happened. I thought we were becoming friends, but would she still want to be friends with me after what had happened?
I decided to head into the communal room, but an accidental whiff of my armpit made me decide to go to the baths first. I pulled a set of clean clothes out of my pack. Poking my head out of the door and noticing that there was no one around, I quickly dashed naked into the baths. Filling a bath with water as hot as I could stand it, I climbed in. I washed myself off, then soaked until the water was cool. Getting out and drying myself off, I got dressed, wincing as I fastened my pants over bruised hips. When I was fully dressed, I headed towards the communal room. I entered the communal room, and found a few of the adults there already, clustered around one table.
"Hey, Aidan, come on over," Tamin called out, and I headed over and sat down with them.
"Here, this should help your throat," Kala said, pouring something out of a pitcher into a glass and handing it to me. "I imagine your throat feels a little sore right now."
I took a swallow, and the soreness in my throat subsided. "A little," I admitted.
"I'll bet," Tamin said. "I have the room next to yours, and we could hear you two in there practically as clearly as if we were all in the same room. So, who'd you get to be with?"
"Jovana," I said.
"She's a nice one to be with your first time, I hear," Tamin said.
"Yes, she's always been good about that," Kala said.
I felt my face go warm. To hide my reddening cheeks, I drank more of the beverage, a juice of some sort, and under Tamin's prodding took a plate and took some of the food on the table.
After a few minutes of silent eating, I had a question nagging at me. "Hey, I have to ask something," I finally said. "What happens if Jovana gets, y'know..." I felt my face go warm again.
"Pregnant?" Kala asked.
"Yeah," I replied sheepishly.
"Not likely," Kala said with a shrug. "For some reason, even though you'd think we'd be popping out babies like crazy, it just doesn't seem to happen much."
I mentally heaved a sigh of relief. With all that they had done for me, the last thing I wanted to do was leave one of the girls here pregnant.
"Now," Tamin said, "give us a couple of hours and we'll have you on your way. I imagine you're anxious to get out of here."
"Not to be rude or anything," I said with a weak smile, "but, yeah."
"Oh, man," I heard a familiar voice come from the entryway, "that was something!" Perrin stumbled in and plopped himself near me.
"Long night?" Tamin asked with a grin.
Perrin, pouring himself a glass of the juice, glared at Tamin for several moments before taking a long drink. "For once," Perrin then muttered, "I'd like to make out with someone other than Deyanira. I mean," he added to me, "don't get me wrong – she's nice and all, but I've banged her every mating flight since I was eleven! I'd like a little variety. Jovana, maybe."
"Except Jovana was with Aidan yesterday," Tamin said, grinning at Perrin. "I suppose you both could have done her at the same time, but that would have been a bit...awkward."
"You lucky dog," Perrin muttered at me. Jovana came in at that moment, which at least distracted everyone from another round of blushing on my part. Perrin stared longingly at her as she took a glass of the juice as well.
"Hey, missed you yesterday, Jovana," said a guy who looked to be about 18.
"Can't imagine why," she replied.
"I'm sure you missed having a repeat performance of the last two mating flights. I'm sure you remember them – you spent them with me, after all."
"Oh, please," she said as she flashed him a sweet smile as she sat down a couple of tables over. "Aidan's much better in bed than you are. I had two orgasms with him, and that's two more than I ever had with you."
The room erupted with laughter and whistling, and a couple of the guys patted me on the back. My face felt so warm by that point I'm surprised it didn't catch on fire. I quickly finished breakfast and hurried out, avoiding glancing in Jovana's direction the entire time.
True to his word, within an hour Tamin informed me that things were ready for me to leave. After telling Perrin good-bye, I headed to the stables with my pack as I was directed to do so to find Tamin there making a few minor adjustments to two saddled horses.
"Almost ready," he said when he saw me. He helped me get my pack secured to one of the two horses; he explained that we'd be riding horses, rather than using a wagon, since they'd be faster without the wagon, allowing us to catch up to my caravan.
Just as I was about to get into the saddle (fortunately, I did know a little bit about riding horses, having received a bit of training as part of my archivist training), I heard a voice call out, "Aidan." I looked in the direction of the voice and saw Jovana coming my way.
"I have to check on a couple of things real quick," Tamin said when he noticed her. "I'll be right back."
After he left, Jovana came over and stood in front of me. After several moments of awkward silence, she said, "So, you're on your way."
"Take care of yourself, Aidan," she said.
"I hope that what happened yesterday hasn't changed anything," she said softly.
I blushed, but said, "No, it didn't. If it had to be anybody here, I'm glad it was you."
I stuck my hand out for her to shake, but instead of taking it she took my face in her hands and gently kissed me – right on the lips!
After she broke off the kiss, she said, "If you ever get tired of life in Toskel..."
"Klodia is a nice place to be," I managed to say, "and on my way back to Toskel, I'll see about stopping in."
"Take care," she said before turning to leave.
"Take care," I called after her.
It took the better part of two days to catch up with the caravan. When we finally reached them, they were about to set up camp for the night near a stream. I was greeted enthusiastically, and while there was a bit of annoyance and a bit of lecturing about being more responsible when I told them what happened, no one seemed too put out with me.
Tamin stayed the night with us before heading back to Klodia the next morning with the two horses. I returned to my usual spot in Ambassador Kroaswell's wagon. Fortunately, no more noticeable delays cropped up during our trip (though a couple of days after I met back up with the caravan, we did wind up on the edge of the storm, but fortunately we only got rained on a little bit).
We arrived in Jaana on schedule, and when we headed into the city (presumably we'd be going directly to the embassy), I looked around a lot as we moved through the streets. I hadn't been out of Toskel much before, so my experience seeing other settlements of any sort was rather limited. The architecture was somewhat different in Jaana than in Toskel (or even Klodia, from what I'd seen of it), though adults still went about their business, while kids still raced around, playing various games – that was certainly the same in every community I'd ever seen. People did occasionally watch us go by; I wondered how many of them wondered who we were. I waved a few times at some of the friendlier-looking people, and they waved back.
It was late afternoon when we arrived at a gate in a large wall. Driton produced a set of keys on a large iron ring, one of which he used to unlock the gate, and the wagons were moved inside to a large, open court. I glanced around at what I assumed could only be the embassy, and saw several buildings of various sizes. I got out of the wagon, as did Ambassador Kroaswell and quite a few of the others, several of who had been on the embassy staff the last time the embassy had been operational.
We were taken inside the largest building (Ambassador Kroaswell keeping a hand on my shoulder as we went about), with one of the people who'd been a senior member of the staff from before taking us on a tour of the building, showing us the offices, reception areas, both the main dining hall (used for formal banquets) and a smaller dining hall near it (used for day-to-day dining by the embassy staff), kitchen, living quarters, storage areas, and the few other odds and ends rooms that made up the building. I was surprised to find the furniture still around, and when I said so I was told that it was felt back when the last ambassador was recalled, that since there was no reason to believe that the embassy would be closed permanently, so most of the larger stuff within (barring the personal belongings of those who lived there and certain embassy valuables) was left there, with the local Skronian garrison keeping an eye on the place to keep vandals and homeless squatters out.
Hearing back outside, the man pointed out other locations of note within the walls, such as the stables, garden area, and even a small forge (though the forge wouldn't be in use, at least not for a while).
When the tour was over, I made sure that Ambassador Kroaswell was settled into the large foyer in the main building, then went back outside to help unpack the wagons (I was primarily responsible for making sure that both my stuff and Ambassador Kroaswell's got into our respective bedrooms; he, naturally, got the largest bedroom there, while I got a smaller room right next door, in a setup that must have been done purposely when the building was originally constructed). That night, when we had dinner that night, we ate from what remained of our trail food supply (I was a little disappointed, as I was hoping for fresh food and a little more variety, though I was assured that whomever was responsible for keeping the embassy stocked with food would obtain more, fresher food from the local supplies the next day). I went to bed that night and got into a bed larger than my own at home, though not quite as big as the one Perrin and I shared in Lachlan's home. I stared out the small window for a while, wondering what my family and friends were doing, before falling asleep.
Most of the next few days involved working to get things set up. While most of the larger things had been left, there were various other things that needed to be set up, though not until after a good deal of cleaning (since the embassy had been closed down for more than a decade, there was no small amount of dust and cobwebs to remove). Fortunately, we got a lot of help from the locals; several of them had worked at the embassy the last time it was operational. They were also willing to vouch for several people who would fill out the remainder of the support staff. The guards would be supplied at first by the local garrison, and a small unit of Skroninan troops, part of a larger force on maneuvers in the south with some of Andares's forces, would be arriving to take over permanent guard duty in the near future.
I was largely responsible for helping make sure the things that Ambassador Kroaswell would need got set up to his specifications – while he handled the stuff in his bedroom mostly himself (once he got the layout of the bedroom down), I helped get certain specific things like his office set up.
Most of my evenings, after the work for the day was done, I spent looking out over the city. I'd found the staircase that led to the roof, and I spent my time looking out and about. I noticed we were near the palace, and a small part of my mind wondered when we'd go and meet the king for the first time.
The evening before the festival was to start, I spent a little time on the roof, and then decided to take a walk around the embassy grounds. I had to admit I was feeling a little lonely. While getting things set up during the day kept me busy, there wasn't really anyone around my own age, and I wasn't sure I could just poke my head outside of the embassy and start grabbing every kid my own age I could find and expect them to be my friend (I wasn't even sure what the policy was about leaving the embassy and interacting with the local population, or at least those who didn't work in the embassy).
Lost in though, I bumped into someone coming out of the stables. "Oh, I'm sorry," I quickly said to the person.
"No, it is I who should be sorry," came the reply. "I wasn't looking where I was going."
I looked over the person I'd run into. It turned out to be a guy about my age, looking, like Perrin, to be about a year or two older than me, and was of the Tehari ethnic group.
The Tehari were indigenous to this part of the continent, and had lived in tribes prior to the expansion of nations by other ethnic groups from the south and west a few hundred years before. They had incorporated well into the ensuing societies rather well, but still often worked to maintain a certain level of native pride and distinctiveness.
Since he was Tehari, he had the somewhat darker, rather tan-looking skin, black, straight hair that fell just past his shoulders, and dark brown eyes that was inherent to the ethnicity. He was about 6 inches taller than I was, and he had a lean, somewhat muscular build. He wasn't what I'd call handsome, but then, he wasn't what I'd consider ugly either. But for some reason, some strange, unsteady feeling I'd never felt before washed over me, and my stomach felt like it had butterflies in it.
After an awkward moment of silence, in which he looked almost as unsettled as I'd felt, he stuck his hand out and said, "Hello, I'm Denali Huritt. I'm one of the stable hands."
"Aidan Marsatal," I said, taking his hand in mine and shaking. "I'm currently the aide to Ambassador Kroaswell."
"Wow, that must be something," he said. "Why 'currently,' though? You aren't going to stay Ambassador Kroaswell's aide?"
"I'm not," I told him. "Normally, I'm an apprentice archivist in Toskel, but Ambassador Kroaswell's regular aide isn't going to be available for several months, so I was asked to fill in for him until he's able to make it here."
"Ah, I see." After a few moments, he asked somewhat hesitantly, "So, since we're both going to be here a lot, maybe you'd like to hang out with me once in a while after our duties are done?"
"Sure, I'd like that," I said. Despite the fact that I was feeling really weird around him, he seemed really nice, and I had just been mentally complaining about how I didn't have anyone my own age to hang out with around here.
"All right," he said. "Well, I'd better get back to work. There are a few things to get done before the stables are ready for regular use."
"Well, I won't hold you any longer," I said. "See you."
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