Here you'll find
What actually happened during chapter 22 of Ravens, Owls and a Nightingale? Enter the steamy bathhouse of Castle Deleon...
Captain & Mate
The warm, humid air felt like a wet embrace, misty and gentle and soothing. The room was quiet; the fire underneath the huge stove and water cauldron had waned into a mound of embers, black on the surface but glowing bright red right underneath. No flames were dancing over the charred wood any more but heat still poured forth from the stones on top, not scorching but gentle as well. Water lapped lazily against the walls of tubs and buckets.
It was dark outside, not much lighter in the bathhouse that was illuminated by a couple of lanterns hung on the walls. The sparse light played on the wet skin of two men who sat on little stools and were right now just enjoying the peace and silence. The darker of them fished a coarse washcloth from a bucket beside him, bundled it in his fist and began to rub his arms and torso with it. He washed his neck and shoulders, twisted around to reach his side properly, then winced.
"Let me, sir." The other man, his blond hair wet and curling wildly, got up and took the washcloth. "Mind your side."
"I am minding it," the dark man grunted but didn't resist, merely rested his elbows on knees and let his head sink forward.
"Not enough," his blond companion admonished, rubbing the broad shoulders and muscular back with obvious zeal. "You must let it heal properly, sir, or it'll give you no end of trouble."
"I know, Sorel, I know..." Count Daynar sighed deep as the wet, tight bundle worked rhythmically on his back, and leaned more heavily on his elbows, spreading his legs a little. "And you mind your hand, you hear me?"
The rag rubbed lower, much more gently when it approached the hurt area on the left side of his back, above the waist. It was easy enough to spot for it was still swollen, discolored and unpleasantly hard to touch. He heard the sigh behind him and rolled his eyes.
"I wish you wouldn't blame yourself," he said. "Not even you can be everywhere and see everything at once."
"Still." Thoughtful fingers traced the skin. "You were wounded."
"So were you," Daynar retorted. "I think that a hole in your hand is a bloody good excuse for why your grip faltered the way it did. Stop bashing yourself over the head with it, will you?"
Sorel huffed and resumed rubbing, and Daynar pondered idly that his bodyguard's pride seemed to have taken a nick that smarted far worse than the actual wounds. That bloody melee of a battle... and their enemies had been fighting with a ferocity born from desperation. A desperate adversary made a particularly dangerous adversary.
But of course Sorel would still feel it, his almost-failure, even though it had been his own fighting-staff that had parried the heavy sword aimed at his commander's kidneys. He had managed to partially deflect the blow, and instead of plunging in with the sharp tip first, the sword had smashed into the Count's side and only dented his exquisitely crafted chain mail shirt. But even though the padded jacket underneath had prevented the tiny metal loops from biting straight into flesh, it had still been one hell of a blow, a blow that had knocked all air out of Daynar's lungs for a moment. The resulting bruise had been enormous and almost debilitatingly painful, especially as there'd been no opportunity to leech or bleed it soon enough to reduce the swelling.
Naturally Sorel would blame himself. Basically he knew that without his fighting-staff, the sword might have hit the chain mail perpendicular enough to actually penetrate through it, and that in turn might have resulted in a far more dangerous wound than just a large, ugly, swollen bruise. Moreover, he'd done a lot more than could really be expected of a man who only moments earlier had taken a nasty wound in one hand. But of course Sorel took great pride in his ability to keep his commander safe and able to lead the battle in all circumstances, and an almost-failure was bound to bother him.
But such was war. Things just happened in the heat of a battle. And anyway, they both were still very much alive to deplore the new scars in each other's hide. Daynar shrugged and got up.
He took the rag, soaked it anew and stepped to face his bodyguard. In the dim light he raised the cloth onto Sorel's shoulder and squeezed, let his gaze follow the rivulets of water that run down through the fair curls on the man's chest and arms, then grinned as he saw the thing that proudly rose to greet him.
"Is that a salute, Sorel?"
"Yes, sir," the blond man said solemnly, a muscle twitching in his cheek.
"Impressive. Very impressive."
"I always strive to do my best, sir."
Count Daynar chuckled and stepped a little closer. His own cock didn't waste time snapping to attention as well, but he was careful not to go close enough to let it touch. Instead he gave Sorel an encouraging squeeze and then allowed his hand to sidle lower to cup the man's balls. Sorel moaned, it made Daynar's erection twitch impatiently and he leaned slightly closer, then closed his eyes as Sorel's long fingers curled firmly around his length and began to stroke. Very slowly. Agonizingly slow.
The Count let his head rest on Sorel's shoulder and felt the blond head rub against his cheek. Teeth grazed his skin, he responded by licking and sucking hard the wet, warm, salty base of his friend's neck, fingers playing softly with Sorel's balls. The sacs were heavy and familiar in his hand. When his finger glided behind them, sharp teeth sank a bit deeper into his skin and the hand around his cock tightened enough to make him groan.
Sorel breathed hard, their slippery bodies rubbed together and Daynar fought back the urge to thrust into the hand engulfing his erection. That hand, it knew so goddamn exactly what he liked, how he liked it... He closed his eyes, heard the hum and opened them again. The bathhouse. They were in the bathhouse, and it was really a trifle too hot to get into this here. That sound in his ears surely it wasn't the heat about to get the better of him?
But Sorel seemed to be listening too, then he smiled.
"It's raining," he said in a low voice. "Real hard, too."
Daynar nodded. Yes, a sudden burst of rain was beating on the roof, sounding more like a waterfall. And maybe it wasn't so hot after all? Sorel's free hand, the hand that had suffered the wound, had crept to grab his buttocks. It didn't feel nearly as strong as usual, and no wonder. Daynar remembered the sight after the battle, when the surgeon's helper had gingerly peeled the bloody mitten from a grimacing Sorel's hand. The bloody mess inside. But miracle of miracles, no bones had been broken nor tendons cut by the blade, or was it an arrow-head, that had somehow gone through the man's palm.
The hand still worked, the wound had healed well. No problem with the throwing knives for the right-handed Sorel, but the staff... the fighting staff... had the hand's gripping strength suffered? The staff required force... Daynar shrugged the thought off, splayed his fingers to get a good hold of the blond man's ass and pulled him closer. Sorel laughed, flexed his lean muscles, cocked his head.
"What do you want, sir?" he asked, mock subordination lacing his breathy voice. "Shall I go down on my knees?"
"No," Daynar said looking at the gorgeous killer with half-closed eyes. "What do you want?"
Sorel's lips parted, he licked them and then smirked. "To fuck you, sir."
"Sounds good to me," Daynar smirked back. "Do it good and proper, my man."
Sorel slowly ground their crotches together and began to back towards the bench, away from the stove. To the coolest place. Daynar followed him, not letting go, a small smile on his lips. He enjoyed this game, enjoyed the way Sorel's blue eyes glittered with mischief and lust, enjoyed the sweet friction of their jutting cocks against each other.
"On your knees, sir."
Daynar reluctantly let go of his partner and stepped closer to the bench. It was wet as he kneeled on it and braced his elbows against the wall. Smoke had colored the timber dark, and when he rested his face on his crossed arms he could smell the smoke, too. Sorel's uninjured hand stroked his backside, slid into the cleft and crept lower, and Daynar spread his legs with a groan. His cock throbbed with anticipation, it jerked at every slow circle of a saliva-slicked finger around his hole, and when the first digit probed in he exhaled loudly.
"Mmm... good..." Sorel whispered, shifting closer, thighs and hips pressing against the Count.
"Yeah," Daynar echoed huskily, pushing back into the hand. The other hand, the hurt hand, slid down to massage his ass, slowly and thoroughly. More spit, more fingers, deeper, until a gentle brush against his prostate sent a hot arrow straight through him. "Oh fuck!"
"Working on it, sir."
Daynar chuckled and let his lids close, concentrated on just feeling the touch, the stretching, the tentative nudge of Sorel's cock. He arched his back and received the slow, insistent shove, heard Sorel sigh as the smooth head glided in through the ring of muscle, felt the hands on his hips.
"Don't stop," he panted. "Push."
Sorel, ever the excellent soldier, obeyed. With every thrust his erection slid deeper, hard and hot, in and out, and Daynar rocked in rhythm with him. Sorel was breathing in low, almost agonized grunts, his left hand ghosted to his partner's front and massaged Daynar's balls. The hand that had bled. The wounded hand.
Daynar laughed breathlessly as the slim body draped over his back. Muscles shifted in his left arm as he leaned more heavily on it and let the other one drop lower. He took his own cock in hand and began to pump, thumb rubbing the tingling head. Sorel's fingers closed around his and slowed the motion Sorel was setting the pace now, his hand and the hips thrusting against Daynar's ass.
Harder. Daynar clenched Sorel's cock tighter inside him, the man groaned in response and shuddered, then upped the pace. Daynar couldn't help the groan that forced its way through his throat at every thrust. Each one sent a non-stop series of fireworks through him, and his right arm snaked behind his back to grab Sorel's tight ass, to spur him on. Close, so close... the blond man grunted and clutched him tight, climaxed with a gasp, and Daynar let himself go as well, felt the building tension and finally the sweet spurt of his seed into Sorel's hand.
Forehead resting on his forearm, cock still twitching, he listened to his lover and smiled. Sorel was leaning heavily against his back, panting, spent and sated. He didn't move at the small sound but Daynar frowned and slit an eye open, peered dizzily over his shoulder, and
"What's the matter wi oof!"
Karos-Daleot, stark naked, was standing transfixed at the door and gaping. Daynar had just enough time to register the fact when someone, talking, walked slap into Karos. Sorel's head jerked up and he, too, froze.
The silent tableau only lasted for a couple of blinks, then Karos spun around as if stung and stormed out. The minstrel Schean looked at the two men, mouth hanging open, glanced over his shoulder and back again.
"S-sorry," he stammered and, somewhat belatedly, flushed deep red, then vanished into the dressing room as if swallowed by the earth itself.
Sorel sank back against Daynar and moaned. "We're done for."
"Rubbish," Daynar sighed, wincing in disappointment as Sorel pulled out. "Why would they tell anyone, and what's that to anyone even if they did?"
"We shouldn't do this in a place where anyone can walk in just like that," Sorel stated in resignation. He went back to his basin of washing water and picked up the washcloth once more, then plopped down on the little stool, as if feeling somewhat wobbly at the knees. Most probably he did, too.
"Now you remember it," Daynar chuckled, grimacing as he stepped down from the bench. Funny how he hadn't noticed that it was a bit hard under his knees... He followed Sorel to where they'd left their buckets and rags. "But granted, we shouldn't. One just gets a bit reckless every now and then."
"Reckless oh yes!" Sorel, washing the evidence of recklessness from his body, grimaced. "What would you have said if it had been Lord Rhodan to walk in just now?"
"Begged his pardon." Daynar spluttered for a moment when Sorel obligingly poured a bucketful of water over his head, then repaid the favor. "Now we're nice and fresh and clean again."
"I think we're safe to go, sir," Sorel said. "I believe I've heard the outer door go twice now."
"Safe?" Daynar arched a sculpted eyebrow and Sorel granted him a cocky grin.
"Yes sir. I don't think there's currently anyone in the dressing room to be further traumatized."
Daynar stepped closer to wrap his arms around his blond lover and kissed him, long and deep. Sorel chuckled into the kiss, tongue teasing the dark Count's lips.
"Mmm," Daynar agreed with a smirk. "A most satisfactory performance, Sorel."
"Thank you, sir!" Sorel cast his eyes modestly down, but Daynar's hand forced his chin up and cerulean eyes met again the Count's dark blue gaze. Sorel smiled slowly. "Daynar..."
"There," the Count whispered and kissed him once more. "Sometimes I could spank you for your insistence, Sorel. Why do you have to insist on still calling me 'sir' when your cock is several inches deep in my ass?"
"Doesn't it turn you on?" Sorel challenged, arms wrapping around Daynar's shoulders.
"I think it's an even bigger turn-on for you," the Count retorted and chuckled. "But mind you, I wasn't exactly complaining."
"Weren't you, sir?" Sorel granted him a sly smirk. The arm around his waist tightened threateningly, and he quickly added: "Anyway, I'm honored that you think so highly of me as to let me handle the, ah, responsibility every now and then, sir."
"Sorel, Sorel..." Daynar shook his head with a chuckle. He pulled the man's wounded hand to his lips, let his tongue trace the scar tissue in the palm. "As if I'd ever trust anyone else to watch my back."
Sorel's fair eyebrow quirked a little. "Shall we go, sir?"
"You're hopeless. Yeah, let's go. There just might be others who still want to use this place tonight."
The Count and his bodyguard found the dressing room deserted, quite as they'd expected, and sat down on the benches to cool down. Outside, rain was still beating down, and the two men grinned to each other as they dried and dressed themselves in a comfortable silence.