Rak, newly come to Okyro and the novitiate, isn’t finding life as a free man as easy as he’d thought it would be. On top of his struggles with his studies, he’s lonely. His dragon had abandoned the love of his life, the bard Tafflynn, during their escape from Zoth. When Rak discovers that his bard isn’t whom he thought, he feels betrayed. The bard had lied to him about who and what he was for years. Is their relationship over, or is their love strong enough to survive the honesty necessary to create a lasting partnership?
“Rak,” called a voice with the peculiar distortion of a Kephi facemask. The Kephi stepped out of concealment or appeared or whatever Kephi did. One moment, he hadn’t been there, and the next, there he was, large as life.
Rak veiled his surprise as he stopped. “Eh?”
“I wanted to speak to you privately.” The Kephi gestured for Rak to accompany him. “Please.”
Rak thought about it. He was pretty sure the Kephi wanted information about the Riverlands in general or Zoth in particular. He weighed talking about that against yet another reading lesson with the acerbic Ekli. There was no contest. He nodded. “Sir,” he said shortly.
The Kephi paused but a moment, as if studying Rak, before leading the novice deeper into the temple. They reached a corridor that mostly contained sleeping cells. The Kephi opened the door to one and waved Rak through. Rak licked his suddenly dry lips as he complied. Any full priest could command a novice, all novices swore oaths of obedience, and sometimes those oaths were tested. Rak had heard the saying that nobody got out of the novitiate with their virginity intact. Not that he, an ex-sex slave, was a virgin. But still, no full priest had demanded that he serve...until now?
As if confirming his thoughts, the Kephi crowded in behind him and closed the door. His arms came around Rak, embracing him. “Night, how I’ve missed you.”
The physical contact struck like lightning, searing through his veins. The Okyran words washed over him unheeded, untranslated, as Rak's whole being focused on the physical need thrumming through him. Rak made no effort to escape from the Kephi, though part of him wanted to. It was just that his commitment to the priesthood was stronger than his desire for celibacy. Besides, his slave fires were burning with agonizing intensity now. He might as well let the Kephi scratch his itch.