Ayre of the Last God
(Book III of the Oerth Cycle)
(C) 2000 BY


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D'Main T'Mrr reached out a paw to his sleepy lover beside him, purring. Gently, he scratched R'Zin's back with his claws, right at the little itchy spot he knew his lover could never reach.

"Purr... D'Main, you are marvelous..." R'Zin murmured quietly, lulled to the edge of sleep by a particularly satisfying encounter.

"Purr... Thank you, R'Zin. You were wonderful, too." D'Main replied, then paused both his words and his scratching, just as his mother had taught him. D'Main's tastes were quite rare among the felines of Oerth - and this gave him the power of true Manipulation over those few toms T'Zama knew who shared her son's tastes in bed partners. T'Zama had learned of her son's true preferences years ago, after an embarrassing moment at age sixteen when she intruded on him and a young friend in his quarters. From that moment on, she decided to teach him the art of Manipulation - and neither she nor her son had ever regretted that decision. "Mrr... Yes, it was quite lovely. It's so sad that it will probably be our last time..." D'Main replied, a wistful note in his voice.

R'Zin blinked as D'Main's words slowly sunk in to his pleasure-benumbed brain. His ears flicked forward, alert, and his eyes widened as he propped himself up on his elbows suddenly. "Mrow?! What do you mean?! Have I done something... Have I offended you, somehow?" he asked, his face a mask of surprise and concern.

D'Main leaned towards his lover gently, nuzzling him softly with a smile. "Purr... No, you have not. You please me greatly, Lord R'Zin. It is..." he replied, then sighed. "Mrr... It is my mother."

"Mrowrrr... Then she knows?" R'Zin asked, sighing. Being a sodomite was, in feline culture, a disgrace. Those toms who were attracted only to males were at the greatest disadvantage, as they would fail their Warrior's Rest at age sixteen, unable to perform for the female they topped. In feline culture, this meant that they could never truly be considered an adult. There were ways of getting through the rite without revealing one's true tendencies - the simplest was to bribe the female in question, if closed eyes and an active imagination could not serve to stir one's cat-hood sufficiently to at least put forth a believable performance. Still, even if they somehow managed to make it past this rite of maturity, each sodomite tom had been raised in a culture that, quite simply, was strongly against them. They were viewed as immature, warped little beings, unable to handle real responsibility. As such, they usually concealed their true tastes behind a machismo facade, publicly pretending interest in females while keeping their true feelings - and their true loves - secret.

"Mrr... No, my friend, she does not. She knows nothing," D'Main lied, smiling briefly. "Mrr... It's just..."

"Mrow? What, then?"

"Mrr... My mother plans on taking advantage of R'Narr's absence, and launching an attack upon his lands. R'Narr killed my brother in a duel, and she seeks revenge. I, of course, being her only surviving son, will have to lead her troops."

"Mrowr? You?" R'Zin replied, and nearly chuckled. "Mrr... Forgive me, sweet D'Main, but... You are no warrior. You'd die in the first engagement."

D'Main nodded sadly, and let his gaze drift off into the distance. "Miao... This I know, my dear R'Zin. Yet, there is nothing I can do. There are no others to take my place, and we have no other clans to assist us." he replied, and sighed. "Mrr... She is my mother, R'Zin... I have my duty to her."

"Mrow? You have no other clans to help you?"

"Mew... No, nary a one." D'Main replied softly.

"Mrowrrr... Well, you do now. Mine." R'Zin replied, jerking a clawed thumb at his muscular chest. D'Main let his face expand into a broad smile of surprise and relief, which spurred R'Zin to continue on. "Mrr... Clan V'Mith may be small, but we will fight by your side, my sweet D'Main. If you wish, I will lead your troops for you. I also know a few mercenaries we may contact, to swell your ranks even more. If your mother has sufficient coffers, we could not only take his lands, but hold them when he finally returns from his campaign. With a bit of luck, we may arrange some alliances with a few of the western clans I have had contact with - particularly D'Kasil, of Clan T'Spirith. You've met him, I think, haven't you?"

"Mrr... You mean that delicious brown tabby with the little scar on his left buttock?" D'Main replied, grinning wickedly.

R'Zin chuckled. He knew he was not D'Main's only lover, so the news did not surprise him. "Mrr... Yes, him. And, perhaps, if Fate is willing, we'll take R'Narr's head in vengeance for your brother," R'Zin replied, and sighed. "Mrr... It's sad to think that D'Larin is dead, though. He was such a handsome lad."

"Mrr... My dear R'Zin, I must agree with you - though if my brother were alive to hear you say that, I'm afraid he would have challenged you to a duel. He was so sensitive about things like that," D'Main replied, and smiled weakly, nuzzling his lover. R'Zin nodded, nuzzling D'Main comfortingly.

D'Main smiled quietly, his muzzle pressed into R'Zin's strong shoulder as he cuddled his lover. 'Yes... The first of the alliances against you has been made, R'Narr... Soon, you shall pay for the murder of my sweet brother. My mother will be quite pleased,' he thought to himself, and smiled again.

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Chapter One<<<<