Author's Note: Thank you for the reviews! I'm very pleased that you're finding this story enjoyable so far! Oh, and for those of you who were wondering, YES! Ye'yinde will be included most frequently now. I'm still fixated on editing the previous chapters, so I apologize in advance for slow updates!


Ri'ka wanted to move, but she lacked the motivation to do so.

Approaching an open window to her left, the young female could see, just beyond the still-dark horizon, her clan's Mastership. It was massive. It had to be three times the size of their smallest moon. She stared at its superiority. It was silent. It was safe. It was exactly what she needed...

The princess was struck by sudden fatigue. She gripped her forehead, gritting her teeth against an incoming headache and bracing against the window pane. She hadn't eaten since before the celebration of Ye'yinde's victory. Nor had she slept. Taking a deep breath, Ri'ka closed her eyes to gather what strength she needed to return to her private domain.

Everything that had happen today had been...


She couldn't think straight and, now, she was alone to face her trials and fears. No one was left to be there for he-

"Excuse me."

Startled, Ri'ka spun around, eyes open wide and red. Upon seeing his face, she scoffed, turning around to face the window again. He was the last person she expected to see; probably wanted to see either. He waited as if she were obligated to speak to him. Ri'ka lightly shook her head. She wasn't.

"I need to apologize." Ri'ka could hear the blatant hesitation in his voice, but, for a moment, she was taken back.

'The General? Apologizing? To me?'

From the corner of her eye, she could see Ye'yinde look at her- his eyes searching for a mutual understand in hers. When she decided to give him some recognition, she couldn't help but notice how they were glazed with... sincerity. Free from rigor or fury.

The princess was quick to look away though. She was certain it would not last.

"It was dishonorable of me to cross into your quarters."

Again, he had expected her to say something. She withheld all words.

"It will not happen again. I give you my word," he said slowly, as if to reassure her.

Her system began to overload with emotion. Guilt being one of them in particular. It was no secret that he was out of his comfort zone, and Ri'ka wasn't making it any easier for him despite his kind intentions. In a sudden rush, she blinked away the water in her eyes and gave up. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw where he stood, hands draped by his sides and body stiff. She gave him a soft, but noticeable nod.

That was the all the General needed to relax.

Without full recognition, Ri'ka returned her attention to the outside world. Vaguely, Ri'ka could recall rubbing her eyelids and yawning. After that, nothing. The princess' body swayed and her vision fluttered in and out of color. Ri'ka was physically drained, emotionally overloaded, and mentally exhausted. She was going to fall, but somehow letting herself go was of better comfort to her than resisting the urge; that took more energy, and energy was something she just didn't have at the moment.

Ye'yinde must have noticed.

He pressed a hand against the small of her back to balance her out. Startled, Ri'ka jumped, shrugging away his touch. He did not resist.

"Would you like me to escort you back to your room?"

Ri'ka frantically shook her head, "No, that won't be necessary." She pushed her weight off of the window pane. Just taking one step made her regret not accepting his help.

Her left knee collapsed beneath her weight, and she was well on her way to meeting the ground face to face. Suddenly, she felt two, bulky hands wrap around her waist. Acting by instinct, the princess gripped Ye'yinde's hands to pry them off. They wouldn't budge. Instantly, she stopped her struggle and allowed her suitor to lift her body into his veteran grasp. He hoisted her up so that her head was resting comfortably against his armor-plated chest, while her arms and legs dangled.

"Even royalty needs help sometimes." -Was the last Ri'ka heard of the General before she fell fast asleep.

Ye'yinde tread through the palace with slow, quiet footsteps. He was weary of waking his charge when it was obvious that she needed this rest. The General maneuvered through the dark, winding corridors, careful to avoid open windows where the moonlight swivels could cross her eyes and wake her. Cursing, he tried to stifle the trill that managed to escape and rumble inside his chest. He held his breath and gazed down at the female Yautja. She didn't move. Releasing his breath, he relaxed and continued down the hall.

He couldn't deny the amusement that caused him to trill though.

Both radiant and naive, the young ruler he was honor-bound to protect 'till death was far from invincible. The ancient lore that spoke of her beauty and strength may have... exaggerated a bit. Her strength was weaker than an unblood; a pup without training. Her beauty was... well...

Ye'yinde felt himself freeze. He looked down at her again, watching the calm movements of her chest while she slept so peacefully. Her beauty was... different. Perhaps it was her... Ye'yinde couldn't put his talon on it. He wasn't sure what to make of her beauty.

'Oh, Paya...'

The first time he had ever lain eyes on her, his future mate, was only just yesterday. When he did though, he thought he was looking at the Goddess Paya herself. Ri'ka had been his motivation for winning that spar. And, he had because of her.

She needed to see for herself that he was more than capable of protecting her.

He could recall the unbearable desire to reassure Ri'ka that he was... worth her time...

Ye'yinde shook his head. Using a quicker pace than before, the warrior sped through the last corridor to return the princess to her quarters. He needed to clear his head. He needed to focus on the real goal at hand. Proving that he was worth it was only a second-hand objective. Right now, he needed to protect her from that... Bad Blood. Just thinking about his filthy name made Ye'yinde snarl in disgust.

The door to Ri'ka's quarters had come into view quicker than Ye'yinde would have anticipated. He slid the flat of his knuckles across the sensor pad. The door hissed, opening to review the chamber that belonged to the girl in his arms. Then it hit him.

He had given her his word that he would never cross over again without consulting her first.

"C'jit," Ye'yinde spat under his breath.

He would rather be seared in Kainde Amedha blood than betray her trust; a trust that was hanging by a very, VERY fragile thread.

The General shifted his weight from one leg to the other in deep consideration. He couldn't just walk in. Ri'ka had not given him direct permission to enter. Only Young Bloods would be stupid enough to falsely enter and leave her there without a word.

Finally deciding that there was only one other alternative, Ye'yinde whirled on one heel to retrace his steps to the first floor. They were currently on the sixth. She might not agree with his decision by morning, but sleeping in his quarters was the only way to insure that she had a decent rest and that his honor remained intact.

His bed would have to do for now.

Ye'yinde entered his private quarters. As expected, it was considerably smaller than Ri'ka's at a glance. It was his though, and he took great pride in what belonged to his name. The front room was a place for social encounters; a guest room with a dining table that could seat at least thirteen present Yautja. There was a single light hovering above the long slab which omitted a shade of soft green light. To the right were two doors. The nearest door led to his small, but functional, lavatory. The other was a storage room, used for nothing more than a place to guild trophies, skin hides, and horde junk for trading purposes.

To the left was a bare wall. He wasn't keen in decorating, but mostly because he was limited to personal freedom. And, the time that he did have to himself rightfully belonged to Ri'ka. That was his duty, not an obligation. Pacing beside the narrow dining table, the General made his way to the end of the chamber where a lone door rested undisturbed. With some difficulty, Ye'yinde was able to lift a single finger to scrape the sensor pad. In reaction, the entry hissed open.

His quarters were nothing personal. There were no personal touches, no dear trinkets, no memoirs of friends past, no gifts from females who would have shared a bond with him during mating season. Typical of any Blooded warrior, his bedroom was kept spotless. Tidy. A nest of elaborate furs were piled to the brim of a large chasm, carved into the bottom of the floor. A single wardrobe stood on the opposite wall for his casual attire and armor. He kept his weapons locked away inside the storage room.

Pausing for a moment, he made a mental note to barter for another wardrobe the next change he got.

Ri'ka would need a place to store her own clothing when the time came for her to...

The bundle he carried gasped, and the female's head jerked from his chest. Acting by instinct, his grip tensed, pressing her body even tighter against his rigid armor. She resisted his stiff urge. Feeling a sudden rush of panic, Ye'yinde began to purr. It was a light, only a tiny vibration from his chest and barely noticeable. But, it seemed to do the trick. Her body, like any female Yautja who was riled up, gradually became limp.

Without hesitation, Ye'yinde knelt beside the mouth of the fur hollow, and placed her on top of the pile of fluffy skins. Scooping up the fur her body did not lay on, he used what was left to cover her up. Instinctively, she nuzzled her head deeper within the comfort of the furs, turning to her side.

Ye'yinde trilled in amusement. She tossed and turned several more times. He could only assume that her clothing was in the way of complete comfort. Yautja normally slept without them.

He knelt beside the bed for a few more moments, insuring that she was indeed asleep.

When she did not move, the warrior stood, keeping a slow pace to the exit. Looking back once, he trilled a brief farewell and closed the door to leave her be. On the other side, he let out a long, heavy sigh of relief. Considering all things that could have gone wrong, he decided that all went quite well instead.

With Ri'ka's scent no longer potent, as it was in the cradle of his arms, he began to smell his own putrid odor. Then it dawned on him that he had not bathed since before the sparing match. His body smelt of sour Kainde Amedha blood and sweat.

He feet were swift as he quickly entered the lavatory. Without a second thought, he discorded his heavy, gold armor. It fell to the ground was a very loud, regretful thud. The thermal netting was next. He peeled it away from his skin, tossing it over a metal bar used for hanging up skins and towels. The loin cloth stuck to his skin. He didn't even hesitate to rip it from his body and kick it into a corner. Walking right past the bathing pool, he rounded an isolated corner to flick on the shower-head. Instantly, it sprayed torrid-hot water.

He trilled, purring deeply while his body quivered beneath the welcoming heat. Standing still for a moment, he let the water carry away the blatant mix of foul odor. Within minutes, without even having to scrub, the room was vacant of his scent and replaced with Ri'ka's more salient aroma. Inhaling a thick breath of it, he closed his eyes and began to scrub every inch of his body; as if to smother himself in her scent. She was in season and it enticed his every organ. His blood flow became more rapid. He wanted her.

Snapping himself out of his blur of vulgar thoughts, the General clicked his mandibles to control himself. She was asleep. His hormonal urges were instantly tucked away to the back of his mind while he continued to bathe himself.

Ri'ka had forgotten the own comfort of her bed. Her eyelids were closed and she welcomed the darkness they brought. She rested on her back, enveloped in silkiest furs she'd ever touched, given to her as a solemn birthday gift from her mother. The long pieces of fringe tickled the inner side of her mandibles. She purred, accepting the sincere touch. If only royalty could chose their own suitors. Her downy cot would be first in line. Even adrift in her own sleep, she took a deep breath.

The scent of lavender, mint leaves filled her senses. A light twinge of first-class hide was the next to surround her. And, Kainde Amedha blood...?

Stolen from her sleep, Ri'ka lunged away from the furs. She stumbled back, only to fumble against something solid. She gripped the sides of the bed, hoisting her body from the fur pit.

'Where... in Paya's name... am I...'

The room was dark. Small. Bland. Empty... of that she was grateful.

Ri'ka searched for some indicator of where she was. Kal'de's room, perhaps? She hadn't been in there in Paya knows how long. It certainly wasn't her sires' chamber. Too small. Too bare. Ri'ka closed her eyes for a moment, careful not to move or make a sound. With her back pressed up against the wall, she tried to recall the last thing she remembered before falling sleep.

Much to her dismay, a pang of sadness tugged at her stomach.

Raz had left. That was impossible to forget. She could vaguely recall standing in front of a window. The mastership hovering in the air. The twin moonlight kissing the horizon. The breeze.

Ri'ka gasped.


'There's no way he would consider bringing me to his...'

Averting her eyes from the bed when a wave of nausea caused her mandibles to clench together, Ri'ka glanced to her left. A green checker of small light told her that the door was unlocked. She approached it with extreme caution. There was no telling why Ye'yinde had brought her to his private domain. Pressing her dull talons against the sensor pad, she listened for the slightest noise. Hearing none, she lifted her fingers from the pad, cringing when the door hissed.

This was his place alright.

There wasn't a hint of soul or personality anywhere. Just like him.

Just across the table, she caught sight of two other doors. The door to the right was open. She could hear the swift humming of water. Curiosity peeked. She tip-toed past the dining parlor. Pressing one side of her face to the bitter-cold wall encasing the doorway, she listened. He was diffidently in there. She could smell a faint, but potent male stench. It wasn't despicable, per say, but she'd smelt better in males before. The shower was doing him a favor though. His male stench was fading, gradually being replaced by an excellent solvent. She recognized that smell right away. It was common in most palaces; it must have been a gift from one of her few family members.

Without even realizing it, Ri'ka had stepped past the doorway.

Her clipped toes bumped against a piece of metal. Her eyes widened. It was Ye'yinde's golden armor. Pieces of his clothing were tossed in every direction.

She'd been so focused on identifying his scent that she hadn't even felt her clothes dampen. Coming to her senses, Ri'ka blinked, her eyes watery from the humidity. She gaped in horror. Surely he had heard the light patter of her bare feet against the slick tile of the bathroom. No... the humming of the shower-head was still on and his scent was still fading. He hadn't noticed. He was still bathing.

Cursing her own actions, the young female stepped closer.

Peeking from behind a tiled wall, Ri'ka saw the faint outline of another Yautja body. Holding her breath, she quickly looked away; ducking behind the wall. She wasn't sure if the flushing warmth in her cheeks were because of embarrassment or respect. He was a grown warrior. His body, no doubt, had the ploys and scars to prove it. Ri'ka tried to blink away his image. She would only admit to seeing the outline of his toned back. But really...

Ri'ka trilled. His back muscles flared beneath the hot water. She took notice of his slick dreadlocks, still engorged with metal ornaments. The speckles that caressed his leather-tough skin had made an elaborate pattern of lashing circles. In a single glance, Ri'ka had already memorized the stream of amber moldings that covered his yellow skin. From the brim of his shoulder, down the center of his back, looping around his solid rear, and down the extent of his towering, thick legs. Though lacking personality, he certainly compensated in anatomy. The forty-second good, long look she got of his body was no hardship.

Ripped from her loathsome fantasy, Ri'ka tensed when the hum of water ceased.

Ri'ka panicked.

'If he sees me in the bathroom and finds out that I saw him naked!'

Ye'yinde's bare feet splattered through the excess water. His pace was slow, lazy, without need or purpose. He trudged away from the shower to the tiled wall that separated him from the bathing pool. Strung up on a peg was a small towel; large enough to soak up the water from his body, but small enough to easily pass for a loin cloth. He pressed the soft fabric against the side of his face, pulling it along his mandibles until they were dry. Ri'ka's scent made him grin. It was still present, even amidst his own; now fresh with a new flavor females couldn't resist. But, still. Her scent was everywhere. He hoped that she was still sleeping peacefully and his shower had left her undisturbed.

Ri'ka refused to move. She held her breath. She could hear him move beyond the wall, no less then two feet away from her. The barrier between them wouldn't hide her for long. She had to move. But how?! He'd notice her the second she made a run for it. Still struck with fear, she remained motionless.

Ye'yinde decided to discard his grime-ridden, soggy clothing from the days before. With the cloth still in his hand, he rubbed the length of his manhood, not in a sexual manner though; solely for the purpose of drying off. His bare muscles bounced as he walked through the lavatory. Dropping the cloth, he reached for his oily armor, placing it into the cradle of his elbow while he reached for another piece of discarded metal.

Ri'ka's eyes widened, her mouth hanging loose. Her suitor was oblivious to her presence. Hadn't he smelt her scent? He could do that right? He stood with his back turned to her as she huddled deeper into the dim corner. She couldn't refuse the image of his body, so free and on display; forced upon her or not.

The elegant, amber patterns of his skin were even more breath-taking when dry. Oddly enough.

His stature alone was enormous. She couldn't compare, even though she should. It was typical of any female Yautja to be exceptionally larger than their male counterparts.

His dreadlocks were so long. The tips brushed against the humps of his backside. The contours of his muscles made her trill. She couldn't resist the urge. It came naturally. He was very impressive. And, she hated it.


That had done it. He noticed her trill the moment her mandibles clicked together.

In half a second, Ye'yinde was facing her, eyes wide and gleaming with surprise. His sudden movements had made him clumsy, dropping all of his armor again. Surrounded by her own fear, she had also sprung to her feet. Stifling a grin, far too embarrassed that she, the princess, was staring at his... nakedness. What was once limp, was now fully aroused. He didn't seem to care either; not bothering to cover up his perky cock. She had to make herself look away. That seemed to cause Ye'yinde to realize where he was and the company he was in. He stood, still dripping from several body parts, in silent confusion. The princess only stared at him. He felt obligated to do something. To say something. Apology for being naked... in the shower? A dozen different replies bustled through his mind as he furiously tried to filter them for the right one. The silent, awkward void between them was making his body quiver with unease.

He wasn't sure how to take her reaction. His midsection throbbed at the sight of her, and he knew she saw it.

Suddenly, Ri'ka dashed past his body, brushing up against his side as she made a dart for the door.

"I'm sorry!" Ri'ka shouted with closed eyes.

She gave him barely enough time to counter her movements, turning around as she passed him to grab her arm. She jumped, squealing at an octave that made Ye'yinde cringe. As if being beaten, the princess hunched over, eyes clenched shut and face turned away from him as he kept her from running away. She did not resist him this time, only avoided any and all further eye contact with him.

"I did not mean to startle you," Ye'yinde suddenly blurt out. His voice was deep, but his words were swift this time. He felt anger boil inside his chest. He was making a fool out of himself in front of her; unsure of how to handle the situation properly.

Ri'ka did not respond. His eyes searched her expression. Then, he remembered what he had between his fingers. Her arm was hardly big enough to fill his hand, and he was holding it a little too tight. Without hesitance, realizing the error in grabbing her so aggressively, Ye'yinde released her. She leaped away the moment his talon scraped against her tender flesh.

She did not flee, however, like he had expected her to.

Ri'ka stood, her back against the opposite wall and hands covering her eyes. Seeing that he had not done her serious harm, Ye'yinde couldn't suppress a trill of amusement. It was smug. It was rude. But, he couldn't help it. Her innocence was unheard of. Normally, he would have taken offense if a female refused to gawk over his body if he offered it to her before mating, but he assumed that Ri'ka had never seen a naked male before.

"I'm sorry!" the female repeated.

Ye'yinde straightened his shoulders. His body made her uncomfortable, and he was quick to accept that. Making a quick returned to the lavatory, he retrieved the drying cloth he had misplaced earlier, wrapping it around his hips in a tight knot. He couldn't, however, conceal his ever-present arousal, but, this way, Ri'ka wasn't forced to look at it anymore.

Feeling the water drip from his dreadlocks and pool at his feet, Ye'yinde took a step forward out of respect. He had a strong, brutal desire to ensure that the female was... healthy.

"Ri'ka." Ye'yinde bowed, eying his make-shift loin cloth to make sure it did not loosen. He tilted his head up to see if she made any effort to acknowledge him after their previous encounter. He stiffened when she peeked between her parted talons. Seeing that he was 'clothed,' the young sovereign relaxed. He ended his bow and stepped away to give her some space.

"I require a moment," Ye'yinde continued, "Then I will explain everything."