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UPDATED 9/30/16

Title -- LOVE AND LOYALTY an A DISTANT SOIL Novel Book Two: Aeren Chapter 1 Part 2
Author-- AnonymousAvatar
series -- A Distant Soil
Disclaimer -- Colleen Doran owns all
Rating -- NC-17
Characters/Pairing -- Seren/ Kovar, D'mer/Seren
Summary -- D'mer is on Kimar, fulfilling his marital duties. Kovar and Seren are truly alone for the first time.

WARNING: Child abuse. Some content may be disturbing for some readers.

PART III Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII

“I was unaware,” said Prince Kovar, “that the Divinity was acquainted with Lord Acteon. How good of him to send you, his most beloved – intimate…" Kovar chose that word carefully and was rewarded with a hit "...with a personal message of sympathy,” he added. Aeren’s aura fluctuated. Kovar leaned back in his chair, his hands tapping the surface of his broad desk. The expression on his face was one of placid interest, but he was observing every tiny change in Aeren’s face, posture and in the color and light of his aura. He also observed that Aeren was wearing makeup. Fashionable among men and women at court, but the thick mask did not complement his complexion. The paint must be an attempt to conceal his flush response. He’d added color to his eyelids and cheeks, which Kovar thought unnecessary and unflattering.

The affair between Aeren and Etan was a poorly kept secret, and an explosive conflict within the House of the Avatar. Rumors flew that they had come to physical blows in their passion with one another. Aeren sought affection and approval from the man who had raised him from childhood, and Etan struggled with his holy orders. Fire and ice clashed. Most Avatars were celibate, though it was not a requirement of the office, and Etan’s periodic promises of purity were broken with regularity on the altar of Aeren’s beautiful body. They loved and hated each other in equal measure, fought like demons, parted like ambassadors of warring nations, and then returned, a temporary peace negotiated anew, soon furious and dependent again, and unable to end it.

Aeren looked into his glass of fruit drink as he tried to get control over his state. He loathed it when people brought up his affair with Etan, which is, of course, why Kovar mentioned it. The affair was scandalous in ways that Aeren could not control: the Avatar's ward - now his lover, the celibacy vows broken, their alarming rows. Aeren preferred to create emotional chaos, not to be swept up in it himself.

Kovar saw a deep pain in Aeren’s light, but he couldn’t tell if its source was his conflicted feelings over his relationship with Etan or something else. There was anger, even rage, and fear. All of this was visible in the fraction of a second that Aeren’s guard slipped. He was good at hiding all of it, thought Kovar, but the Prince of Teramis had two hundred years of psionic experience that was simply beyond Aeren’s abilities, no matter how talented Aeren was.

Aeren gathered himself, seeking control, then leaned back in his chair, smiling sweetly. He raised his leg over the chair’s arm, parting his thighs, displaying himself in a plainly lewd posture that was meant to pass for relaxation, a pose that made his next words incongruous. “Etan is the Lord of heaven. He is the maker of my world,” a bland recital he must have repeated on similar occasions.

“As he is to all of us,” said Kovar expansively, gesturing with his hands as he did so. Kovar was well known for his religious devotion, always wearing the silver of the Avatar’s House to show it, a fact Aeren must have known as well. There was an altar with an eternal flame in the far corner of Kovar’s office, and one in front of the large window display before the mountain vista, where he had so often enjoyed Saveris’s body and said a prayer in thanks for their love while having him. Kovar dismissed that memory quickly and went on, “But tell me, how is it that The Divinity and Acteon knew one another?” He saw another flash in Aeren’s aura. Aeren had expected to get information he wanted simply on request, sliding in on the tease of fleshly delights, but Kovar was going to pick at him and make him work for his reward first. “It occurs to me,” said Kovar, “that the Avatar might appreciate some remembrance from Acteon’s effects. A token, or, perhaps, the length of his hair to place at his altar.”

Aeren brightened considerably at this. “How thoughtful! I’m sure the Avatar would be very pleased.” Kovar noted that Aeren had not answered the question of how Acteon and the Avatar were acquainted, but that the enthusiasm at getting something from Acteon was genuine. Aeren wanted access, and was hoping Kovar would help him get it.

Kovar’s hand returned to tap the surface of his desk, and the other swept up his drink which he sipped as he looked over the rim of the glass at Aeren. “You haven’t asked me,” he said, “how Acteon met his end.”

Aeren saluted with his own glass in acknowledgement. “I assumed you would tell me in your own time, if you thought it fitting.” Aeren sighed. “I must admit, Prince Kovar,” he said, “that Acteon was no friend of mine. I barely knew him. I only know that My Lord has asked me to come here and,” a significant hesitation. Kovar waited patiently, “inquire if anything relating to my master’s house was recovered in the effects of Lord Acteon. Anything of a sensitive nature.”

Now they were finally getting somewhere. Distancing himself from the deceased, admitting that he wanted something from him at the same time; closer to the truth of Aeren’s purpose then, and easier for Aeren to manage his state, to keep Kovar from picking away at his deceptions.

Kovar managed something like a pleasant expression. “Something involving the Avatar, perhaps?”

“I wouldn’t know,” said Aeren. “I wasn’t given any details.” He looked intently at Kovar, a soft smile at the edge of his full lips, delicately licking the edge of the glass as he drank with his pink, darting tongue. His aura fluctuated, pulsed, and Kovar could feel warmth spreading over him, a pulse reaching right down to his groin.

By the God, the boy was trying to seduce him.

Kovar knew little of the nature of Aeren’s power, beyond the fact that he had it, which was obvious from the intense light of his aura. Only the most gifted Ovanan psionics possessed an aura, and Aeren’s was dazzling. The famous crystalcutter was recognized as one of the finest on Ovanan, his rare talent for sensing delicate pulses in desirable crystals could not be duplicated by any machine. Kovar had known only a few crystalcutters in his long life, so had little opportunity to observe the play of the light of their auras. They tended to avoid court and company, as most were by nature sensitive and withdrawn, which made Aeren even more of a puzzle. Kovar watched Aeren’s aura roil and reach out, and realized that the sensitivity that made him an astonishingly adept crystalcutter also made him extraordinarily talented at reading and manipulating the senses of living beings. He was touching Kovar’s feelings as they sat together, peeling off sensations, and throwing them back to the Prince, intensifying them, making Kovar feel strong desire where only pleasant attraction and interest had been in evidence before. Kovar had known Aeren since he was a small child, and Aeren had never openly displayed the slightest passion for the Prince until this night: admiration, yes, but not this.

He was trying to coerce Kovar into sex, and the Prince had no doubt it wasn’t due to a fleeting whim or the need to fulfill a long denied crush.

Kovar reached into his desk and withdrew a handkerchief, fastidiously mopping at his brow. Aeren looked on, pleased.

“Is it hot in here?” Aeren asked, in a husky voice.

Kovar lowered the handkerchief. He returned Aeren’s gaze with a level, cool look. “You come into my land,” he said quietly. “Into my palace, into my home. You lie to my face. And you attempt to coerce me into feeling desire for you…what the hell do you think you’re playing at?”

Aeren’s eyes narrowed. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

Kovar’s eyes locked on Aeren’s in return. “I sent an enquiry to the Divinity. He tells me he did not send you as his emissary. He has not seen you in days. He wants to know what you are up to and when you are coming home.” Kovar’s fingers hadn’t been idly tapping on the desk top, they’d been sending a message through one of the many digital pads embedded on its surface. Kovar tapped, and the image of the Divinity, his severe face with its gaunt lines and hawkish nose, appeared in a projection, the sharp words of inquiry between the Prince and the Avatar displayed in a small box beneath it. Kovar tapped again and the image dissolved.

Aeren’s aura pulsed and crackled for a moment, a dark and dangerous lightning strike of a dance around the edges that he immediately tried to suppress. Again, a fleeting glimpse any other psionic might have missed. But Kovar was the Prince of Teramis.

Kovar did not readily recognize the energy signature dancing around Aeren’s body, but he did not wait to find out what it might indicate. Aeren would expect a psionic attack. Kovar gave him a fight he could not possibly win.

With a move so sudden it was nearly invisible to the eye, he lashed out at Aeren and hit him hard in the face. The boy’s head snapped and crashed against the back of his chair with a crunch. Stunned, he was helpless as Kovar, with one hand, picked Aeren up by the collar of his elaborately embroidered jacket and slammed him into the desk face first with another crushing blow that caused him to gasp as the air was forced out of his lungs. The serving tray flew, glasses smashed against the floor. Another blunt pound of Aeren’s body against the desk and he was dancing at the edge of unconsciousness. He groaned. Kovar deftly removed two small devices from their nest inside the handkerchief he had dabbed against his face moments before. The devices were small, flat, and silver, fitted with tiny prongs. As Aeren struggled back to awareness, Kovar placed the devices against Aeren’s temples, and the prongs grabbed onto Aeren’s flesh, digging in. Aeren screamed suddenly awake and aware.

The young man’s body bucked wildly against Kovar as the larger, much stronger Prince pressed himself against him, flattened on the broad surface of the desk. “Get off me, get off!” Aeren screamed again in pain and rage. The tightly clad legs and firm bottom pushed against Kovar’s hips with all their might to no avail.

“Telling me the Avatar sent you…that was a stupid lie, easy to expose!” Kovar scolded.

“You filthy prick! What have you done to me?” Aeren’s voice was muffled from the blood gushing from his nose as his face was pushed onto the slick surface of the desk. Kovar had thoughtfully turned off the master control to the digital pads, or the episode would have been broadcast throughout the palace.

“Psionic inhibitors,” said Kovar brightly. “Kills your power. I don’t know what you’re up to, little man, but I’m not taking any chances.”

“I am the Avatar’s ward!” Aeren bellowed. “How dare you lay hands on me! I am under his protection!”

Kovar leaned close to Aeren’s ear and growled, “I am the Avatar’s protection, idiot.”

Furious, Aeren struggled all the more, his hips bucking vainly to throw Kovar off his back, his bottom thrusting against Kovar’s pelvis, wild kicks ineffectually attempting to castrate the Prince of Teramis. Kovar knew Aeren had some personal combat instruction, and this at the hands of his own lover Saveris, but blind panic and pain from the psi-blocks made Aeren wild. He could do nothing but flail. Kovar took advantage of the prettily rounded target in the perfect breeches before him, drew back, and with his bare hand, swatted Aeren on the rear with the full might of his arm. Aeren screamed.

“You fucking asshole!”

This earned Aeren another mighty swat, and the more he yelled the more blows he invited. He’d have a hard time sitting for awhile, Kovar thought.

“God damn you! Is this what you are? Is this what gets you hot? You filthy pervert!” The desk was covered with Aeren’s sweat and blood, smeared in his futile efforts to escape Kovar and his punishment. “If you were one of my cadets,” Kovar said mildly, hitting Aeren again with a well-aimed swat, “I’d have you bent naked over a bench and beaten with a strap from your neck to your knees. And I’d let the whole brigade watch.”

“Fuck you!”

“Wish on a star.”

“You beat them before you rape them, is that it? Is that what it takes to get you hard?”

“What a nasty mind you have,” said Kovar, hitting him harder.

“Agh!” groaned Aeren. “Or maybe I don’t appeal to you, that way, is that it? Like them young, don’t you Kovar? Nice little boys, that’s what you like, you god damned animal!”

“You learned to talk like that in the Avatar’s house?” inquired Kovar, genuinely shocked. The fight was almost gone from Aeren’s body now. He began to sob. His hips went limp.

“How much did you pay Sere for the privilege?” Aeren moaned. “How much did she charge you, you disgusting piece of shit?”

At that, Kovar lifted Aeren and flipped him over onto his back. The boy winced with pain as his beaten bottom hit the edge of the desk. He grabbed Kovar’s torso with his legs futilely trying to gain leverage. Kovar reminded himself to tell Saveris that he had finally experienced the wonder of having Aeren’s legs wrapped around his waist, and it wasn’t nearly as pleasant as he’d hoped it would be. Kovar deftly grabbed Aeren’s arms and pinned them to the desk. Aeren’s face was covered in blood and tears from his nose to his chin, smearing the beautifully crafted jacket, dripping onto his immaculate white breeches. His eyes were turning black under the thick makeup. Kovar correctly deduced he’d broken Aeren’s perfectly tip tilted nose. The boy spat in Kovar's face, blood spewing from his lips, and Kovar slammed him hard onto the desk again, the wind gushing out of him in a gasp as he went limp.

Kovar stepped back, releasing him, coldly observing as the young man gasped for air. He glared at Kovar with eyes filled with hatred. “Perverted fucker! Rapist piece of shit!” he croaked.

“What are you saying to me,” Kovar said, quietly, coolly as he wiped the spittle from his face.

“You heard me.”

“I don’t think I did.”

“Fuck you,” said Aeren. “Send me back to my lord Avatar. Now!” Then he spat at Kovar again, the wad of blood missing the target of Kovar's cheek, splashing instead against the prince's shirt and jacket.

With another move too fast for the boy to counter, Kovar backhanded the Avatar's ward. Aeren stumbled for purchase across the desk slipping on his own blood until he frantically reached the chair he’d draped himself in seductively minutes before. He groped his way back into it and gasped as his beaten ass hit the pillow. He gingerly arranged himself, painfully aware of his throbbing bottom. His blue eyes were piercing in the growing blackness around them, vivid under the smeared makeup, wide and frightened and furious. His weeping ceased, but his face was covered in rivulets of blood, snot, and tears. He wiped at them ineffectively, leaving wide trails. “You don’t dare kill me,” he growled.

"It hadn't occurred to me to do so," said Kovar, quietly, "and I wouldn't give me any ideas if I were you." He looked at Aeren, covered in blood, exhausted, his hair a wild tangle, his jaw set angrily, and his eyes filled with rage. There was the steel Kovar had glimpsed behind the frippery and foppishness. It was the first time he’d ever really seen the true face of the boy he’d known since childhood, Kovar thought. What a revelation.

With one pointed, psionic blast, he hit Aeren with a probe that made him cry out in pain, shuddering against the chair, grabbing for purchase. “Get out of my mind!” Aeren screamed. The psi-blocks could keep Aeren from attacking Kovar, but they couldn’t make Aeren drop his formidable defenses. He was as dense as a black hole. “You’re not getting anything from me! Fuck you! Damn you to hell!”

Kovar’s mind whirled and stabbed and dashed against the rocks of Aeren’s defenses as Aeren writhed in pain. The prince made no immediate headway. Torture would get through that shield quickly, but he feared there was a lot of damage he could do to the formidable mind in doing so, not to mention his alliance with the Avatar's house if Aeren were irreparably harmed. An interrogation would take time and finesse and Kovar had no patience at the moment. He genuinely liked this boy, which made the hate and rage pouring out of him even more troubling. Add to that the ugly way Aeren lied and tried to sexually coerce Kovar into getting...what? What the hell was Aeren trying to get? And if he was so desperate for it, why not just ask? Why the hell was he saying those foul things to the prince with whom he'd never shared a cross word? And what did Lady Sere have to do with all of it?

Kovar pummeled Aeren with these questions in a psionic barrage, but they bounced off Aeren’s defenses. The boy was unmoved by the pointed queries, and responded with nothing but a groan as he repelled Kovar's thrusts. He really was remarkable, thought Kovar. He recalled that the Avatar Etan had adopted Aeren from the Teramis crèche, hence Aeren’s distress about his resemblance to Sevaris: he knew he was born of Teramis stock. He would have made a stupendous Shield had he had proper training, but his command of his power was dangerously brittle, all his forces gathered into one main defense, and there did not appear to be a series of secondary defenses behind it as a proper Shield would have had. In moments, Kovar glimpsed cracks in Aeren’s psychic armor, but sensing there was no safety guard at his core, again he feared the trauma he could cause by forcing his way on.

If Aeren hadn’t been hampered by grief and rage tonight, he’d be a formidable psionic opponent for Kovar, and the battle over the desk might have gone beyond a few punches and a spanking at Aeren’s expense. Perhaps something ugly would have come out of the dark lightning Kovar glimpsed at the edge of Aeren's aura. Whatever emotional devastation had upset him, it crippled him, made his control over his psionic abilities waver and crumble, else Aeren might have taken the first shot. Perhaps that dark lightning at the edge of Aeren's aura was the last thing Lord Acteon had seen.

Of this Kovar was certain: Aeren’s emotional storm centered around what happened with Lord Acteon; and Aeren blamed Kovar for it.

The doors to Kovar’s office swung wide and a cadre of guards accompanied by Kovar’s valet streamed in. Aeren struggled painfully to his feet. The only one to acknowledge the damage to Aeren was the valet, whose mouth opened in a little “O”. She caught herself, and looked at her Prince expectantly, waiting for orders. She had a fresh shirt draped crisply across her arm. Kovar picked up another one of his immaculate handkerchiefs and dabbed at the spittle and blood Aeren had lobbed at his face and clothes.

“Lord Aeren has had an accident,” said Kovar blandly. Aeren rolled his eyes and made a disgusted sound. “The Avatar doesn’t think he’s old enough to take care of himself, so he’s been placed into my protective custody.”

“What?” Aeren shouted in rage.

“He is my honored guest until further notice,” Kovar went on, as if he was announcing an invitation to dinner. “Install him in the visitor’s suite nearest mine, the one we use to keep an eye on ambassadors we don’t really trust. And strip him, check his clothes for contraband, I expect there are some tricks of the trade hidden among all those jewels. Full body cavity search.” He waved his hand dismissively as the guards moved forward to seize Aeren by the arms.

“Don’t you dare!” shouted the honored guest as he was hauled away. Aeren found the strength to fight again. It was yet another physical altercation he could not possibly win, as most of the guards were as big if not bigger than Kovar, and they lived for battle. Aeren kicked and wailed and flailed as he was lifted off his feet and hoisted, arms and legs spread out among four huge men who carried him as if he were a struggling stray pet. His hair trailed the floor until one of the guards picked it up and flipped it onto Aeren’s prone body. “You dirty cock head! You fucker!” The invectives became more inventive as he was dragged out of the room through the door on the opposite end of the office, the one leading to Kovar’s private apartments. He spat as he struggled, but his aim was poor and he littered himself with bloody phlegm.

“Shall I call a healer for Lord Aeren?” inquired the valet.

“No,” said Kovar. “He’ll be fine. Oh, and make sure he gets a good wash. Wipe that ridiculous, filthy paint off his face.”


“Shut his mouth,” said Kovar.

One of the guards deftly lifted a handful of Aeren’s hair and stuffed it between his lips. Then the door closed behind them.

Kovar heard his valet sigh. The prince took off his soiled jacket and shirt and handed them to her, then dabbed again at his face with his handkerchief as he walked to the bar to give himself a wash.

“Asha, get my personal physician in here to look over the boy. After he’s unconscious, of course, I wouldn’t want him to think we are too concerned. Make sure there’s no serious damage,” He splashed his face. “I don’t want the Avatar’s ward choking to death on his own blood in his sleep. I broke his nose. Twice,” he added thoughtfully. “But I want the discomfort to linger, teach the brat a lesson.”

“Of course,” she said.

Household help entered, a small army, who made a target of the splattered blood, serving tray, glass, makeup, and sweat on the desk, floor and chair. As Kovar dabbed fastidiously at his face and nursed his bruised knuckles, the servants made the office shine again. Kovar dried his hands and face, and accepted the clean shirt from Asha. Then she withdrew a chilled pack from the icebox and placed it against Kovar’s hand. He held it there while he walked briskly toward his desk, the help scattering away, disappearing out the door.

“Get me something to eat, I’m starving. And pour me a stiff one. No, bring the bottle.” Asha rushed to fill Kovar’s orders.

The door of the office flew open. A tall, dark haired man entered, slightly mussed, and sloppily dressed, clutching a tablet. “My Prince, you called me? What is the emergency?”

“You were sleeping?” said Kovar, observing his secretary’s dishabille with disapproval.

“I was in the gymnasium,” he said. “I ran here as fast as I could.”

“Ah. Sit.” Kovar approved of dishabille when the excuse was physical fitness. The chair that had formally hosted Aeren’s whipped ass now hosted the secretary. It swiveled across the floor to its customary position on the opposite side of Kovar’s desk. Kovar took his own chair. His fingers flew across the desktop, projections of data springing to life before him. “Erastos, what do we have on Lord Acteon?”

Erastos had not been expecting this sort of emergency, and his eyebrows rose in confusion. “Well, as far as I know, no cause of death has been determined. The signs point to psionic attack, but the lesions also indicate a possible stroke.” He shrugged. A stroke was highly unlikely, thought Kovar, Immortal psionics didn’t just drop dead.

“Hm,” Kovar worried his lip with his teeth. Asha had left the room and reentered soundlessly, a fresh tray in her hands, dinner for Kovar, a glass and a bottle. Kovar ignored the glass and went straight for the bottle. Erastos pretended not to notice and the prince did not offer hospitality to his secretary. Kovar disapproved of drinking wine after exercise.

Kovar took a mighty gulp, paused, took another. Then he leaned forward and said, “Has anything been found in Acteon’s effects? Anything unusual?”




“Why do you keep repeating what I say?”

Erastos looked uncomfortable. “I don’t know what you are getting at, my Lord. What you expect me to know. We’re combing his records, his finances, there’s nothing to indicate connection to cause of death thus far. He was a fastidious record-keeper. That was his job, of course. It’s taking some time…”

“Does this man have any connection to Lady Sere’s House?”

Erastos blinked. “Of course, Your Highness, Acteon was a lesser assistant to your envoy to Sere’s House some months back. He resigned for…I can’t recall.”

“I see,” Kovar barely remembered. Lord Acteon was a minor functionary who never drew attention to himself. “What do we have on that episode?”

Erastos had no idea where his prince was going with this. “Well, we have reams, parchments, of course. Scrolls. Official documents, can’t be scanned, they’re encoded and must be reviewed individually.”

Kovar groaned inwardly. The ancient tradition of recording high value documents as encrypted parchments, embedded with crystal that kept the data from being read and shared by computer. They had to be read and translated by the eye and hand to be understood. “Aren’t parchments usually reserved for religious documents and billet-doux, that sort of thing?”

“Usually,” agreed Erastos, “but Acteon must have thought to encrypt something very sacred or personal, or there were transactions that required an extra level of security. It’s not unheard of. Reviewing them is not a task we can hand off to just anyone, one needs skills and the security clearance. We have analysts working on it…”

“How much documentation is there?” Kovar asked with trepidation.

“Years worth,” said Erastos. “Could take weeks to decipher.”

“Fuck.” Kovar made Erastos uncomfortable with his soldier’s language. He thought it unfitting a Prince, but he’d been unable to cure Kovar of the habit in the years he’d worked as his secretary. “How much of this paper is related to his time as assistant to the envoy to Sere?” continued Kovar. “Can you isolate the records related to her? Quickly?”

“I couldn’t say, Your Highness,” said Erastos. “I have no idea what is in them. It is going to take someone sitting down with the master code to read each document by hand and translate it. And, of course, there is a mention of Lady Sere in Lord Acteon’s will.”

Kovar raised one of his thin black brows. “They were that close?”

“Apparently,” said Erastos.

“Lovers?” Perhaps those parchments were billet-doux, he thought.

“Uh…I couldn’t say,” said Erastos.

Kovar picked something off his plate and chewed at it thoughtfully. It made a crunching sound in the quiet room. “Put a freeze on your analysts.”

Erastos blinked, confused. “Sir?”

“Bring me everything.”

“Everything? As in…”

“Parchments, computer data. Everything.” Kovar grabbed at a larger portion of food from his plate and ate with more enthusiasm. “The will and the bequest…do you know what it was?” He took a mighty bite out of his dinner, a meaty roll dripping with sauce.

“No, no my lord, I didn’t really pay that much attention.”

Kovar glared at him.

“The will of the deceased was a personal matter,” Erastos said defensively.

Personal matters were usually a good motivation for murder, thought Kovar. “Bring it to me,” he said with precision, which was quite an accomplishment around the mouthful he’d just consumed.

“Yes, My Prince.” Kovar gave him a dismissive wave, and his secretary departed, leaving him alone, as his valet had already taken her leave.

In minutes, staff arrived carting boxes of parchments, documents, data. Soon the area around his desk was drowning in them.

Kovar sighed.

It was going to be a long night.

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