Finally- The very long awaited chapter. Thank you so much to everyone that's stuck through with this story to the end… I'll admit that- I didn't lose interest in this story- It actually completely left my mind for several long months. I hope this chapter is worth the wait.
Nearly an hour later Kres sat in shock as the tale finished. His father and husband had been taken. They had been gone for seven days. Their tribes had been fighting the invaders for nine days. A battle had been being fought in his home for nine days and Kres didn't know. His father and his husband had been captured a week before and Kres hadn't known. They could very well be dead—they could have been tortured while Kres sat in class. He couldn't wrap his mind around it. His breathing was rapid, sweat dotted across his forehead. The world was getting fuzzy, his nausea growing with every second… and then the world faded to black.
The following days passed painfully slow. A raid was being planned, but their number of fit warriors was so depleted that they were stuck waiting for allied tribes to arrive. Kres spent most of his day's in the shaman's tent, doing what he could to alleviate the suffering of his men. He changed bandages and applied healing herbs to the wounds, he sung prayer to gods above, and sometimes he simply sat and played the role of comforting presence.
The current hour was spent helping to re-sew a deep sword laceration that curved from a man's right armpit clear across his chest and wrapped around the left rib cage. The patient was a young warrior, less then thirty sana old, whose bonded had been taken. His name was Haji and he had decided he was healed enough to get up and begin the search for those taken. Unfortunately for Haji, his skin was not mended near enough to handle the strain of twisting his torso to leave the bed. A good majority of the stitching had been torn and the thread had caused much more damage then the lethally sharp sword originally had.
Kres was washing to blood from his hands and arms when Medji pushed open the flap of the tent and motioned he follow. They ended up walking past the edge of the village and into open sand before anything was spoken. His guard stepped in front of him and put a hand on either of his shoulders, forcing eye contact. The elder man was one of the few how had earned enough of his trust, respect and friendship to have free access to him. He was one of the very few that Kres was willing to listen to the last couple days.
"When was the last time you ate?" he asked, deep voice rumbling in his chest, concern clear. "You look terrible."
Kres continued to look at the man but did not answer. He wouldn't lie, but neither would he admit that he honestly couldn't remember. "You wont be any good to anyone if you do not keep yourself strong and ready."
Medji sighed quietly. "I received word from Ardeth. They joined with Raad tribe already, they will be here in the morn. Our few healthy warriors will be ready to leave upon their arrival. They are going to stop for the night so they will be rested and ready to continue tomorrow."
"I will be ready."
"No, you wont." Medji lifted his hands at the green glair. "Majue and Jaikus are both gone. Should we fail to retrieve them we need someone here to continue on and hold up the tribe. You need to be able to press on, no matter what happens."
"If we fail to retrieve them, I wont want to press on!"
The older man's voice was quiet and soothing. "You'll have to. You have a duty to your people, you have a duty to be a leader, to give them hope. You have a duty to lead them when your father dies- be that yesterday or in sixty years. It is my duty to do whatever I can to ensure you do your duty. I'll help you in anyway I can, but you have to keep pressing forward."
"I cant just sit here a wait." His voice was growing hoarser but his eyes were clear and sharp.
"Then don't. Keep helping in the healing tent- prepare more beds for the warriors return. Neik, do your homework, I don't care, but you are staying here."
Kres glared up at the taller man, face stony and cold. He could override what the man was telling him, but there was no guarantee he would listen. He knew that, even know he technically outranked Medji, his father had given the man permission to do anything and everything to ensure his health and wellbeing. "I'd be more good to my father and my husband with the troop to bring them back." He tried to reason.
"You are more good to your people here. I understand your desire to help your family, but you are in a position where your people come before everything. Maybe it's not fair to you, but the fact remains. You are not going."
Kres stared for a minute longer before he turned an made his way back into the village. He did not sigh or stomp or act like a petulant child as a part of him wished to do. He walked calmly, with his head high and features strong and unbothered. He went directly back to the healing tent- if all's he could do was to prepare for the injured then that is what he would do.
The following three days were extremely tense. Three days of waiting, three days of wondering, three days of near silence. The healing tent has emptied of all but two warriors by that point and the village itself was left with naught but the wounded and warriors with young children. Kres felt completely worthless for those three days. He found himself wandering aimlessly, unable to focus on anything, unable to eat, scarcely able to sip water.
As the days passed he grew weaker. His stomach was a constant all of pain and misery, he found himself fighting increasingly common dizzy spells and a constant churning nausea that left the acidic burn of vomit in the back of his throat. The third day he had lost the drive to even leave his bed- his husbands phantom presence surrounding him and giving him some comfort. He slept, deep enough that even the great discomforts of his physical body could not rouse his mind.
Darkness caressed him, it held him comfortably and peacefully. He floated, mind worry free and blissful. Every now and again some discomfort would pull at the edge of his consciousness but he fought it off. Time was meaningless in the darkness; hours, minutes, years- they all had the same meaning. Everything had become nothing, and yet nothing was everything.
A white hot pain shot through him and his mind was jolted back into muddled awareness. His eyes sprang open but all's he could make out were blurs of browns and blacks before the excruciating sunlight forced lids closed over teary orbs. Another agonizing slice drew a muffled sob from parched lips and he tried to move his numb arms to stop whatever was happening. His wrists were grabbed tightly and his arms were forced above his head. He could hear something mumbling in his ear as something warm caressed his face, but he couldn't make anything out.
He tried to free his arms from the vice that held them, but he felt so weak. Another choked cry left his lips and he forced his eyes open against the blinding light. He blinked rapidly, trying to make heads or tails of the golden blur a few inches from his face. He felt like his head was submerged under water, everything was muffled and confused. His blood was rushing , he could feel it pounding against his veins in a rhythmic song.
Warm fluid was running down his stomach and the tang of blood was sharp in the air. He tried to curl up- if he couldn't bring his arms down, then he'd pull his legs up- but that brought nothing but another shot of searing agony and another warm vice pulling his ankles taunt. "Balla! Balla! Aye!" He sobbed. "Balla, kef, balla."
Hands dug painfully into his stomach and he thought he was going to vomit. Then suddenly, with a squelching jerk, he felt empty. The loud piercing cry of a newborn filled the air a second later, cutting straight through the muffled confusion that had plagued him since this nightmare started. His eyes snapped open again, unaware of when they had closed, and focused on the tiny squirming flesh colored bundle being held in nameless arms.
Air escaped his lungs and he lay frozen in confused disbelief. Words began to fill his ears, making more sense then before but still muffled. It was different though, it wasn't the underwater muffled like before, but muffled because his entire being was focused on the tiny bundle.
The noise got louder. Suddenly the pain that had dulled into a steady thrum exploded as the hands pushed their way back into his gaping stomach. "Aye!" He gasped breathlessly as black spots started to darken his vision. His head fell back onto the pillow and his eyes slipped closed as a second, quieter wail filled the air.
A tiny cry filled the space of the tent, followed quickly by a second. It wasn't annoying, as one would expect, but it was definitely rousing. Kres opened his eyes slowly to take in the familiar tent. The warm, strong arm that was draped across his chest withdrew slowly and he felt his husband rise from the bed. His body still felt weak and achy and his neck was stiff as he lifted it up.
Green eyes locked on the most wonderful thing he had ever seen. His husband was holding one child in left arm, while his right arm was rubbing the stomach of the second babe that still lay in the raised crib. The crib itself was gorgeous, made of a dark red wood carved with tiny designs and a lifted bottom that brought it up to stomach level. He knew a lot had gone into acquiring it- wood, especially such a large amount of wood, was extremely hard to acquire. There was only a small handful of wood items in the village, and they were all cherished and well cared for.
He was still so confused, still so weak. He forced himself up, arms shaking with the effort, and scooted back until he could lean against the strong canvas wall. "Jai…" His voice was weak and his throat was so dry it felt like it was splitting apart. His husband's head spun around, eyes wide with surprise and mouth slightly parted.
"Kres!" he set the babe gently back down with it's counterpart and rushed across the room, dropping to his knees as soon as he was close enough to reach him. "Gods, I cant believe you're awake!" Kres opened his mouth to speak, hand massaging his throat. Seconds later a cup of water was being pushed into his hands. The first swallow hurt almost as much as talking had, but he couldn't stop.
"What's going on?" He croaked when the cup was empty. His eyes searched his husband, finding a large scar that started at his temple and cut clear down the side of his face and over his jaw. "What happened? What… I don't understand what's going on."
"You… you were pregnant when you went back to school." He was speaking slowly. He had thought about what he would say, or what would happen when the younger man woke up, but it had all disappeared out of his head. "I guess it was early enough that you hadn't felt the full effects yet.. When we were taken, your symptoms were brushed off as a reaction to everything that was happening… Medji asked your father to sentence him for not realizing what was happening. He said when they left to fight he assumed your fatigue and sickness was normal. When we got back…." His voice cracked and he had to stop for several seconds. "When we got home, you were unconscious. We couldn't wake you, your magic was keeping you asleep."
"You know how had pregnancy is on us already. The shaman said it's amazing all three of you survived- you hadn't taken any of the medicines the others take, and with all of the stress… Your magic put your body in a … stasis, so that all your energy and magic could go to growing our children. You were in a coma for eight months! I, gods, we didn't think you were going to wake up. When you started having contractions the shaman began the process of removing our sons, and you woke up."
"When you woke, you were so scared and confused, you were in so much pain, but if we stopped we would have lost them. Your father and I had to hold you down… You fell back asleep, but he said it was a healing sleep. That was three days ago."
"That is why I feel so weak?" He asked, trying to wrap his head around the words. His husband nodded, and pulled him close to press a desperate kiss against his forehead, hands clenching desperately against his back. They stayed that way until the babe's began fussing again. Jaikus stood and scrubbed his hands over his eyes as he moved back to them. He scooped the tiny babe's up, one at a time, in this huge hands and cradled them both as he carefully made his way back to Kres.
He kneeled down and watched his younger husbands eyes fill with emotion. The two were perfect. They looked identical, but it was hard to tell with them being so small. Their skin was dusky, with matching black fuzz on their heads. They were so small, dressed in tiny but thick shorts. Their crying tapered off together as they drew closer, happy to be back in their fathers arms. As one they opened their eyes and looked curiously up at Kres. Their eyes were different, he noticed at once. One had deep brown and the other had bright green, with small flecks of brown dotting through them.
"Can I…?" Jaikus smiled softly as he handed the one with brown eyes over. "Which one was born first?" He asked curiously as his eyes worked to take in every detail of his son.
"He was." Jaikus said, nodding to the one he already held. "This guy came out a minute later." He turned his body and sat next to his husband so he could see them both, touch them both.
"What did you name them?"
"I haven't. I was waiting for you to wake up."
"Oh." he said softly. "Have you thought of anything then?"
"I like Hyder." He said softly with a smile. "And this one's as fierce as a lion." He reached over and rubbed the brown eyed child's stomach again. "I think he'll be trouble once he gets older." He joked. "I think meeting their Papa has calmed them- they've hardly been quiet for more then a few minutes since they were born."
"Of course their Papa calmed them." Kres joked back, his smile growing. "I like Hyder. I never imagined we'd have twins! But, I've always liked Aaren."
"Aaren… Light. I like it. Hyder and Aaren then?"
"Aye, our lion and our light."
Kres smiled again, happier then he ever had been. They sat in content silence for several minutes before something occurred to him. "You said it's been eight months, yes?"
"I thought the headmaster said I would lose my magic if I did not compete in that game?"
"We've thought about that. We were scared that something would happen when you missed the task, so scared. But everything was fine. We received word a few months later that there was an attempt to revive their old dark lord, but it failed. Dumbledore has come here a few times, we finally convinced him that you had died. His magic couldn't find you- the elders think it's because your magic had put you in such a deep sleep. You don't have to worry about that world anymore, not if you don't want to."
"I don't. I have everything I could possibly want right here."
Jaikus leaned carefully over their children and pressed a loving kiss to his small husband. "Where's my father?" Kres asked when he had pulled away. "You said he was here when Aaren and Hyder were born, right?"
"Aye." He carefully set Aaren down on the divot of Kres' legs and stood. "I'll be right back."
Five minutes passed with Kres studying his sons in awe, running fingers over soft skin and cooing softly to them when they tried to fuss. He looked up as the entrance was pushed aside. His father was at his side a second later and had the three of them wrapped tightly in his arms. Jaikus wrapped his arm around them from the other side. It was his paradise.
* Neik- a cuss word similar to 'fuck.'
Yes- this is the end. If anyone wants to write a epilogue or a sequel let me know. Thanks again to everyone who survived my horrible writing dating back to when I was fifteen, and SEVEN years… Wow. Hope to see some of your works in the world of fan fiction!