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An Apprentice's Adventures

by Mark Friedman

Chapter 5

I laid in bed that night, wondering why I'd felt so weird around Denali. I'd certainly never had that kind of reaction around anyone before. The feelings I was having towards him were bizarre. It was actually kind of creeping me out.

The next morning, Ambassador Kroaswell met with those of us who'd traveled with him from Skronia, and went over a few basic rules about how to behave during the festival. While the local people knew that we were there, and would likely not expect us to observe all their protocols, Ambassador Kroaswell still wanted us to make a good impression on them by showing that we were respectful of their beliefs. The stuff he mentioned didn't seem too major, so I figured that it wouldn't be too hard to follow – after all, most of it was various forms of outward action that would only occur outside the embassy walls, and since my only job of note in the embassy was to help Ambassador Kroaswell, who wouldn't be doing any of the actions in question during that time period (or at least not where it'd be obvious to the locals...).

At lunch, I spotted Denali already seated in the general dining room (which was used just by those of us who worked there in the embassy), and he spotted me at about the same time. He motioned me over, and after I grabbed some lunch I headed over and sat down next to him.

"So, how are you liking things so far?" he asked.

"It's all a bit different," I replied.

"I can imagine," he said. "I'm not from here originally, either, so I know what it's like to be far from home."

We told the other about ourselves. He had just turned 15 a month and a half before. We talked about our families; he had one older brother, 17-year-old Halian. Their father was dead, killed in a mine cave-in just over a year ago. We also talked about what it was like growing up in our respective homes.

He was surprised that I seemed so familiar with some of the things that he mentioned. "How do you know so much, Aidan?" he asked with a laugh at one point.

"I guess I just read a lot," I replied a bit awkwardly. "As an archivist, I'm supposed to be familiar with a lot of things so that I can know where to look for things that might be needed to begin with, and sometimes things are a little slow in the archives, so there isn't much else to do but read."

Denali laughed again, in a way I found strangely pleasant. "You're something else, Aidan."

I shrugged. "I'm just the way I am, I guess," I replied.

As I finished eating, I couldn't help but notice Mage Landyn staring at Denali and me, and realized that he had been for a little while. I wondered what that was about, but figured it was probably some sort of weird, mystical mage thing and left it at that.

The two days didn't see too much action, and I actually spent most of the time organizing my room and small desk (yes, an actual desk of my very own!), and helping Ambassador Kroaswell get things positioned in his office so that he could easily move around on his own. I spotted Denali a couple of times as I went into meals, and we sat together. For some strange reason, I still felt butterflies in my stomach, though not as bad as when I first met him.

Heading outside one evening after dinner on the third day, I found Denali outside. "Oh, there you are!" he said, a big grin appearing on his face. "I was hoping to find you!"

"You were looking for me?" I asked, then mentally kicked myself. That was certainly a dumb thing to say!

"Yeah," he said. "You want to come out to the celebrations? The religious ceremonies are over, which means festival!" He was practically giddy with excitement.

"Uh, sure," I said, as the strange, butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling that I'd felt to some extent every time I talked with Denali washed over me again. What was wrong with me?!

I noticed he was staring quizzically at me, and I quickly said, "Just let me check in real quick so that they know where I'll be."

"Right," he said.

I headed back inside, and found Ambassador Kroaswell. I told him what I wanted to do, and he quickly gave his consent.

"It's good to see you making friends already," he said.

I nodded, then quickly said, "Uh, yes, Sir," when I remembered he was blind. I headed into my room for a moment to grab my money pouch, glad that apprentices got paid anything at all, even if it wasn't much (it wasn't always that way; as recently as when my grandfather was a boy, apprentices hadn't gotten paid anything at all). I then headed out to meet up with Denali

"Let's go!" he said with a grin. "Come on, I know just where to start."

We headed off. I followed him off, wondering where he was headed. I followed him to what looked like a local marketplace, though it was an area that was decorated very fancily at the moment. Quite a few activities were going on, and quite a few stalls were set up selling a variety of items ranging from food to jewelry to fancy, colorful clothing. Several people greeted Denali, and he greeted them in return.

Denali practically dragged me over to where several others our age were playing a game involving hoops and small leather balls. When they saw us, several enthusiastically called out Denali's name and beckoned us over with calls of "Come join us!" After Denali greeted them, he introduced me, and I was welcomed with practically as much enthusiasm as Denali has been greeted with.

Denali explained to me how to play the game, called 'Galtro temori' in the Tehari language (which, shockingly, translated into 'hoops and balls'). It didn't take long for me to grasp the rules, but took a little while for me to really do anything. Denali, with a bit of a laugh done in a way that let me know he wasn't laughing at me, said that the game did take a bit of practice, and that odds were the others (who all made it look so easy) had probably been playing it since they could walk.

While I had eaten earlier, Denali hadn't, so we headed over to the food stalls, where Denali bought himself some food. Thirsty from the exertion of the game, I got something to drink, and Denali and I headed over to a group of nearby benches and took a seat on an empty bench. Denali insisted that I try some of the Tehari food he'd gotten, and though I wasn't really hungry, I did try a few, just to be polite. I thought the last dish I tried, chicken with some sort of sauce on it, had an interesting flavor. I turned to Denali to ask what it was called when the sensation of fire practically exploded in my mouth. I gasped and fumbled around for the drink I'd gotten, tears streaming down my face.

Denali, laughing, handed me part of a roll and said, "Here, actually this will work better."

I grabbed it and shoved it into my mouth. The fiery sensation immediately subsided. I swallowed and took a drink.

"What was that?" I gasped out, my eyes still watering.

"Tehari fire chicken," Denali said with a grin. "Named for obvious reasons." He then took a bite of a piece of it. "Admittedly, it's something of an acquired taste," he said calmly after swallowing.

"Obviously," I muttered, the aftereffects of the fiery sauce still lingering in my mouth as I took a big swallow of my drink.

"Hey, there's a play about to start," he said just as we finished eating, indicating a nearby temporary outdoor 'theater' had been set up. "Let's go see it."

I shrugged. "All right," I said.

The play, a comedy, wound up being better than I though it'd be, and I snickered in a few places in spite of myself. After it was over, I got up and stretched a bit. I noticed that the sky had gotten completely dark, the only light being from torches lit at various locations along the marketplace and surrounding streets.

"Well, I think it's time to call it a night," Denali said, stretching as well. I looked at the sight of his body stretching like that, and found myself getting an erection.

"Yeah," I admitted, stifling a yawn to cover my embarrassment over my body's reaction to Denali's stretching.

As we walked back to the embassy, Denali said, "So, what'd you think?"

I considered for a few moments. "I think that I enjoyed myself," I admitted. "Thanks."

"Not a problem," he told me. "Thanks for coming along. It was nice to be able to go with someone for a change. Most years I just go by myself."

"You don't ever go with your brother?" I asked, surprised.

"We did a couple of times, right after we moved here, but after our dad died, Halian went to work to help bring in money, and we just never had the opportunity to be available at the same time, especially after I started working, too."

"That's a bummer," I said.

We soon arrived at the embassy, and the guards, recognizing us, waved us through.

"See you tomorrow, Denali," I said.

"See ya, Aidan," he replied.

Eventually the festivals came to an end, and life in Jaana returned to its normal routine. Preparations were now in full force for a formal reception to be held at the embassy, which would be held after Ambassador Kroaswell had his first meeting with King Osvaldo.

When the time came to have the meeting with the king, I dressed in my best clothes and met up with Ambassador Kroaswell, where we, headed down to the stables. A carriage had been procured for official transportation to formal events that Ambassador Kroaswell would be expected to attend outside the embassy, and it was waiting for us outside, along with the two others who would be in our group – Mage Landyn and Tinalla Castor, the embassy chief of staff, as well as a detail of 6 guards who would be escorting us.

I noticed Denali working in the stables, and when he looked up and saw me, he stopped what he was doing and just stared at me. I felt a twinge in my stomach as well.

I was snapped out of my daze when Driton said, who was now in charge of the stables and would be serving as the carriage's driver, said, "We're ready."

As Ambassador Kroaswell and the others began getting into the carriage, I shook my head to clear it. It was then that I noticed that Mage Landyn had been staring at me, and I wondered why he was looking at me. I glanced around and noticed that the only person on the opposite side of me from Landyn was Denali. It was rather weird, since I'd noticed that Landyn had been doing that (staring at Denali and me whenever we were together) several times. As with the first time I'd spotted him doing that, I figured it was just some mage thing, and so I mentally shrugged and got into the wagon.

We headed out into the city, heading towards the palace. Arriving, we were escorted past a checkpoint at the outer wall, where we were directed to an inner courtyard. Getting out, I noticed several people in official-looking clothing coming towards us. Ambassador Kroaswell evidentially heard them as well, since he turned in their direction.

"Ambassador Kroaswell?" the man in the lead said when they reached us. Ambassador Kroaswell nodded, and the man continued. "Good day. I am Viturin Alfanto, His Majesty's majordomo."

"Good day, Sir," Ambassador Kroaswell, holding a hand out, and the two men shook.

"Please, come this way," Viturin said. "His Majesty is anxious to meet you."

As part of getting things set up, Ambassador Kroaswell and I had discussed how I was to help him move around unfamiliar areas in formal situations, and so I knew what to do. I quietly moved up to where he was, and he placed a hand gently on my arm before we followed Viturin. We were led inside, and went down several very ornately decorated hallways before arriving at a giant set of doors, what I assumed was the entrance to their Great Hall.

"Please wait here for a moment," Viturin said before heading through a side door.

I glanced around, thinking that while some things looked the same as in the palace in Toskel, some things looked very different. Among the differences was that here, there were a few depictions of nude individuals discretely place about in the form of various items of artwork, and I blushed slightly, especially when I felt my body start to respond to the images. I tried to think of other things to keep myself from getting any more aroused than I already was, and started glancing around at other things in the area.

At one point, I noticed that there was a man in ordinary-looking clothing nearby, looking to be doing a bit of repair work on a hole in the wall. It didn't seem unusual under the circumstance, given the apparent age of the palace, and the guy certainly seemed very capable at his job. What attracted my attention to him were two things. The first was the crescent-shaped scar on his cheek, and the second was that he wore about as irritated-looking an expression as I've ever seen on anyone's face, and every so often he'd glare in our direction, and he'd actually manage to scowl more. I had to wonder what his problem was.

Just then, Viturin returned. "His Majesty will see you now," he said to us

Two guards held open the giant doors, and we entered into the Great Hall and approached the two thrones at the other end. Seated upon one throne was King Osvaldo, and next to him was seated a woman who was as ornately dressed as he was, and I assumed that she must be his wife, the Queen. There were several other individuals arranged around them, who I figured must be various officials. We reached the thrones and bowed.

Viturin stepped forward. "Your Majesty, may I present to you His Excellency Omarion Kroaswell, ambassador from the kingdom of Skronina."

"Good day, Mr. Ambassador" King Osvaldo said in a baritone voice. "It is good to be able to finally meet you in person. My cousin, Duke Rayan, has always spoken highly of you."

I figured that this Duke Rayan must have been the cousin of the king that Ambassador Kroaswell had inadvertently saved all those years ago at the cost of his own sight.

"Good day, Your Majesty," Ambassador Kroaswell replied. "It is good to be here, and I bear unto you the greetings and good tidings of His Majesty, King Quillan of Andares."

King Osvaldo smiled, and said, "I am grateful that King Quillan was receptive to my overtures, Mr. Ambassador. I look forward to being able to maintain better relations with my counterpart in Andares. We've allowed things to go unsaid between us for far too long, I'm afraid."

"Hopefully we will be able to rectify that, Your Majesty," Ambassador Kroaswell replied.

They exchanged a few other pleasantries, and King Osvaldo introduced his wife, Queen Kalena, his prime minister, Arapeta Glaina, and his senior court mage, Mage Balkaran, whom we politely acknowledged. Ambassador Kroaswell then introduced us.

We discussed a few more pleasantries, then got down to a bit of business. There were several issues that either the king or Ambassador Kroaswell (who had presumably been briefed more fully by King Quillan prior to our departure) that would need to be addressed in the near future. A couple of issues were quickly cleared up, and the two made agreements for meetings to be held in the near future to address the other issues.

We soon wrapped up the meeting, and were escorted back out to the carriage by Viturin, which we entered for our return to the embassy.

Standing outside the Great Hall, I noticed a bunch of naked teenagers, lounging around, the guys sporting erections

Viturin was seated at his desk, looking not the least bit fazed at all the nude people around us. "What can I say?" he said to me with a casual shrug. "Some of our people are perverts."

"That's all right," I heard a familiar voice say, and I turned to see Denali come up to stand beside me. "Aidan's a pervert, too." Turning to me, he said, "Aren't you, Aidan?"

I tried to say something, but when I opened my mouth, nothing came out. It probably had something to do with the fact that Denali was stark naked himself.

"Don't act so surprised, Aidan," he told me. "After all, I'm just following the current dress code."

That's when I realized I was naked, too. Denali reached out and started fondling me, and a huge column of while liquid appeared between us as a blast of semen erupted like a geyser out of the end of my dick.

I sat up, and was disoriented for a moment before I realized I was in my bed in the embassy. I shifted, and that's when I felt the wet sensation in my underpants. I felt my face grow warm as I realized I'd just had a wet dream. My dad had told me about wet dreams, but I'd never had one before. While I knew that it was nothing to be ashamed of, it was still a bit startling, made all the more horrifying by the fact that it was about Denali.

I got up and, noticing that the sun was starting to rise over the horizon, stripped off my now-dirty underwear and took a quick bath out of the water basin in my room before getting dressed. At breakfast, I noticed Denali was already there with his breakfast, so I grabbed some breakfast and sat down next to him.

"Hey," I said to him.

His mouth full, he nodded in return. We ate in silence for a bit. As he finished the last of his breakfast, I said, "Can I ask you something?"

He paused for a moment before saying, "Wow, didn't give me much of a choice there, did you?" I noticed a smirk growing on his face.

"Cute," I muttered. "Real cute. Anyway, I was wondering something…and don't take this the wrong way or anything, but…well, when Ambassador Kroaswell and I were leaving to go to our meeting with King Osvaldo yesterday, I couldn't help but notice that you were staring at me."

Denali's eyes widened as he stiffened for just a moment, and if I hadn't been looking right at him at the moment, I might have missed it. "Oh, um, well, I don't, uh, think that I'd, um, ever seen you dressed up like that before," he managed to get out. "You looked, uh, good."

"Uh, thanks," I said, wondering what was going on. I had never seen Denali seem to be at a loss for words before. He always seemed to be so at ease when having a conversation with people that at times I thought he'd make a better ambassador's aide than I would.

"Look, I hate to eat and run," he said, "but I've got a bunch of things to do in the stables."

"All right," I said, a bit disappointed but knowing that, with the formal opening of diplomatic relations, I now had a lot of things to do myself, and that sitting around for long periods of time having a leisurely breakfast was probably a thing of the past. "See you around."

"Yeah, later," Denali said.

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