Ben’hamin Ch. 09
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An unhappy wince crossed the boy’s face after hearing the king call him a child and he focused his attention on the wounded shoulder instead. The wound was longer than the child’s arm. It wasn’t more than a scratch, but the heat, swelling and lines indicated infection. It was too soon for that. “You know this is poisoned, don’t you?”
Everest closed his eyes lying flat in the shallow water with his shoulders and upper chest lying out on the pool’s sloping ledge. “You look tired, sire.” The king groaned low in agreement. There was a tiny sheen of sweat breaking out on his forehead and upper lip. “Your side is bleeding…” Little hands pressed at the shoulder around the length of the scratch. “It isn’t poisoned, though.” That was all he heard. Everest tried to stop himself from falling asleep, but it did little good.
Brayden felt the king’s face. “Oh, boy…you are not doing well here.” The tiny lad ran to the linen closet and took out a small rag. He ran back and scrubbed at the wound desperately trying to get the poisons out of the raw flesh. “Come on, come on…” The wound started bleeding. Brayden pushed at the edges as hard as he could. When he was satisfied, he dressed both wounds properly. The one on his side really had needed stitching.
Much later, Brayden realized the poisons had begun to defeat the king’s immune system and desperately he had to run the edge of a knife along the swollen skin and to press out more of it. It oozed a clear fluid that he guessed was the poisonous venom.
He knew if he could get enough of it out without further damaging the king, Everest would have a fighting chance as his own body and magic fought to counter the deadly toxins. Brayden slowly redressed the king’s shoulder carefully.
“My lord,” he called to him repeatedly shaking him hard to wake him. “King Sinedien, wake up, please…” All he got were a couple of muffled complaints which really worried him as a fever set in.
“My lord, please,” he kept begging, “just help me get you to bed. You cannot sleep here! You will turn over and soak the dressings!” Finally, his persistence paid off when Everest crawled out of the water and stumbled over to his bed. Thankfully, it wasn’t far to go or they wouldn’t have made it before Everest collapsed.
Brayden took towels and dried him as much as he could. There wasn’t much help for it. The king was dripping onto the sheets. Trying to move him was exhausting to someone as small as the boy tending his wounds.
Brayden lay back on the bed when he was done worn out by his efforts to make the much larger adult comfortable. Brayden stayed by his side all night making him drink sips of water when he was able and occasionally tearing off small pieces of the bread to feed him. Everest woke up delirious and tossed about as he slept, even with Brayden trying to hold him down to the bed to keep him from falling into the floor.
Toward morning, the fever grew more severe. To make matters worse, the head master was beating on the door angrily trying to find him. Brayden covered the bandages with the sheets and curled up against the man’s chest trying to keep as much bare skin showing as he could pretending to sleep just as the door burst open.
The house master’s horrified gasp of shock nearly made him grin, but Brayden was too scared to try one just that second. The large man’s muttering made his skin crawl in terror. Brayden practically prayed for him to leave without coming up closer to the bed or trying to wake Everest. Had he cleaned up the blood smears on the pool’s ledge, the boy wondered frantically. Just then, he heard the door close behind the huge slave keeper and relaxed in relief.
Brayden got up to run to the pool in order to check and wet a clean cloth. He began to bathe the king in an effort to lower his temperature. Brayden ran the linen over the king’s bare skin thoughtfully. The child knew he was too young for this new Everest to seriously consider keeping and he also knew he was too male for the old Everest to be keen on, but he liked the gentle man he had suddenly turned into.
“Who are you, Everest Sinedien? I don’t know who you are lately,” Brayden whispered as he leaned down and touched his lips to the king’s fevered skin. “I don’t mind. I like the new king you have become.”
Sighing, Brayden knew he would have to leave the room. He didn’t do it until he had bathed every drop of the toxic sweat off of Everest’s skin, though. He didn’t know when he would be able to get back to the room if the headmaster caught him out of it.
When he finally slipped out of the room, the entire house was in an uproar. Brayden snuck into the kitchen as quiet as a mouse to get more food and water for the king. Quiet wasn’t good enough, Dev was lying in wait for him there. “You were supposed to help me make breakfast, you little worm!” Dev wouldn’t let him escape grabbing his arm painfully in a tight grip.
Kiev came up behind Dev and Brayden jerked at his arm afraid they were about to gang up on him. “Hey, Dev lay off!” Dev diyarbakır escort looked as startled as Brayden that Kiev would come to the boy’s rescue. “I helped you, so it is okay. Besides, Shriv said he was in Everest’s room all night. I already know how moody he has been lately, so the boy has probably had enough trouble this morning.” He pushed past Dev to gather up half of the stuff Brayden had gathered up. “Come on, kid, I’ll help you with that.” Dev stared at them both dumbly as they left the kitchen together.
“I can get this. You can go away now,” Brayden protested warily.
“It is fine,” Kiev stated ignoring Dev’s snicker. “Everest is in a foul mood. You shouldn’t have been left alone with him in the first place.”
“I said I don’t need your help,” Brayden hissed upset with him. “Please, just give me the stuff and go away.” He couldn’t let Kiev know the king was ill.
“Look, I am trying to help you. Everest is…I don’t know what his problem is, but I assure you he can be in a sweet, charming mood one second and a complete asshole the next! You are far too young to have to deal with that kind of stuff!”
“I am nine,” the boy snarled at him moving along the halls trying to lose him by walking faster. Kiev sped up in exasperation. “I can probably take care of him better than you can!” He turned to glare at Kiev who stopped startled by his sudden angry assault. They were just outside the door to the king’s chambers. Kiev glanced at the doors in fear.
“I didn’t mean to imply…”
“You did,” the boy protested.
“Listen, you little mutt,” Kiev growled growing angry by his attitude, “I meant grown up business, not servant stuff!” He grabbed him as swift and unexpected as only a cat can move by the arm and shook him. Brayden jerked away not liking it that the older male could catch him like that. “You will deserve it if he throws you down and has his way with you. I was trying to warn you and help, but you won’t listen, you stupid brat!”
“He isn’t gay,” Brayden whispered turning suddenly pale as he realized what the other servant was saying. Obviously he wasn’t the only one to notice the king’s sudden shift in attitude.
“No,” Kiev asked belligerently. “I thought that too, but you know what…I was wrong…and so are you.” He turned around striding away from Brayden after he laid down the items he had helped him tote. Kiev turned back at the end of the hall. “Just be careful, fang face, he is fast and strong.”
“Thanks for the warning, catnip,” Brayden drawled irritated.
“Fur ball,” Kiev snarled as he turned again to leave, but he stiffened mid-turn when he heard Brayden whisper ‘kitty, kitty’ behind his back. “See if I ever try to help you again,” he warned in a low, dangerous growl.
“My name is Brayden, Kiev. Maybe the next time you want my attention, you will use it. I don’t like being called ‘fang face’.”
“Where the heck did he steal you from? I want to know, so I never end up going there to meet anyone else like you!” Kiev turned around, but wished he hadn’t when his words scored deep with the kid.
“I don’t think you have to worry about that one,” the boy whispered softly. “They brought me a long way for the novelty of owning their own dog. I don’t think it was well planned since their buyer chickened out. Everest bought me cheap.”
The nine-year-old had hard eyes for his age. Kiev suddenly wondered why he had never noticed them before now. “It must be lonely…” Kiev looked down.
“No…this is easy. Hard was the slavers who brought me here,” the child stated plainly with an angry gleam in his eyes. “Hard was my life before that scum saved me from a horrible death. This…is…easy. I think I would rather just be left alone.”
“Listen, Brayden,” Kiev stated solemnly seeing the boy almost smile when he used his name, “if you ever need someone, come to me.” He looked embarrassed by the comment as soon as he said it, so he ‘tucked tail and ran’.
Brayden grinned as he gathered up the stuff and went inside. He stopped instantly seeing a guy leaning over Everest’s unconscious body. “He has been poisoned,” the man stated to him like they were friends.
“I know,” Brayden agreed warily.
“Did you clean and dress his wounds?” Brayden nodded at the man coming further into the room sensing no threat from the creature hiding in the shadow of the room. “You do good work, lad. Be careful your patient doesn’t bite your hand off for it. He can be a royal jerk without much provocation.”
Brayden smiled not used to the praise, so he concentrated his remarks to the rest of the comment. “He is unusually nice…and lonely. The king feels sad to me, but sad in a highly complicated way.”
“Being a king is a lonely business,” the man said thoughtfully. “Being a bad king is a very dangerous business.”
Brayden set the stuff on a table and came up to the bed on the far side to check on Everest himself, making sure he was okay. The stranger only backed up a few steps in escort diyarbakır surprise. Usually, they moved much farther when he got near enough for them to notice his peculiar differences. Brayden was impressed, but he didn’t show it.
“I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of meeting anyone with your unique scent. What are you?”
“I will answer you if you tell me who you are,” Brayden countered boldly looking the man straight in his gorgeous eyes.
“My name is Derix.”
Brayden finally got a good look at him. He smiled shyly thinking the guy was utterly beautiful standing there so confidently. More importantly, his thickly muscular arms made the king look weak by comparison.
“You are big,” the boy noticed breathlessly in awe. The man’s lazy grin sent a thrill through the boy. Brayden slowly edged around the foot of the bed towards him. “I could be your pet,” he offered hopefully.
“I have one, thank you,” Derix stated not even considering it before answering in his usual haste to deny any possibility of such a thing.
Brayden frowned frustrated by the firmness in his tone and the swiftness of his rejection. “Not a werewolf,” he argued persistently. “That is what I am…a werewolf. The man the slavers stole me for said I stunk! No one wants me around for long…They don’t like the way I smell!”
Derix studied the kid and leaned down to sniff playfully around his collar bone. “You do smell unusual, but it is not a bad smell. Just don’t get wet near me,” he teased.
Brayden frowned until he ruffled his hair again without seeming the least bit offended by what others considered a serious problem. “Sure, puss…”
Derix chuckled at him amused by the angry growl. “You have spunk, kid. I like that. You don’t want to be my pet. Living with me is not easy. I have a mean pet right now who wouldn’t like you at all. It would cause fights.”
“I can take care of myself,” Brayden growled offended by the idea of being seen as weak.
“I doubt that,” Derix mused playfully. “Don’t be so put out with it. You haven’t met my pet. If you had, you would see what I meant by it. It wasn’t an insult, kid. She is almost too wild for me.”
Derix hugged the boy when he sidled up against him and petted his hair in a fond friendly fashion, but then he pushed him back away a little to let him know he knew what he was doing.
Brayden huffed and moved back to Everest’s side in annoyance checking the wounds to make certain the bandages hadn’t been moved or damaged. Derix unexpectedly followed him, once again touching his hair only this time the trailing ends of it. It confused him and it must have showed in his eyes when he looked up and back at Derix in surprise.
“Don’t be mad. I don’t like pets. I don’t even like the concept of it. The one I have is able to take care of herself. She can come and go as she pleases. It is more like a lover than a pet, but I am not allowed to call her that,” Derix explained patiently without any anger.
“Why don’t you like pets? It seems like standard practice in this world to keep as many as you can.” Brayden didn’t give him a second to answer as he thought of something else to say. “Aren’t you bothered by everyone disapproving of you because of it?” Derix raised a questioning eyebrow looking like he was about to deny that anyone would dare. “I know they do! I have seen people picked on for having too few. They must be extremely rude about not having any at all!”
“Boy, what do I look like to you?” Brayden stopped his hurried words to consider Derix with approval. “I am a Warlord. No one in their right mind is rude to me regardless of their opinions.”
“Still, I am sure the other Warlords have said something about it,” Brayden pressed, and Derix didn’t deny it. Ben’hamin kept at him to adopt one, but Ben didn’t understand why he would deprive himself of something usually seen as a pleasurable distraction. “There is always a bigger, stronger Warlord somewhere.”
“Not always,” Derix stated thinking of Ben’hamin with a smile.
That gentle smile settled it. Brayden was frantic to go home with him. “I can take care of myself! All I need you to do is claim me as your own! Take me with you and give me a place to stay!” Brayden saw the hesitant thoughtfulness in Derix eyes and tried hard to make it grow. “Then, forget I am there unless someone asks if I am yours…Please! I won’t cause you any trouble. I swear!”
Derix studied his desperate face in concern. “Boy, you don’t know who I am or what I will do to you. It is dangerous to simply offer yourself to anyone willing to have you. That kind of behavior where I live will likely get you into some serious trouble. Probably here, too, but I don’t know the customs well enough to say for certain.”
“No one here will challenge him,” Brayden informed him nodding down at Everest. Brayden poked his lower lip out in a gesture of childish petulance and defiance sulking at him in annoyance. “I will keep to myself and keep my mouth diyarbakır escort bayan closed. You won’t even know I am there.”
“I am sorry, Brayden, but I can’t do that. How do you expect me to steal you when I am trying to get all of my other business done? I can’t have any distractions right now; it is too confusing already.”
Brayden made a rude noise turning away from the handsome giant in disgusted frustration. “I need someone big to take care of me. Everest won’t do it; you won’t do it. Someone has to, or I won’t survive here. I can’t get home. I am too small to fight.”
Derix frowned at him again. “How did you say you got here?”
“Slavers,” Brayden answered loudly hating that he had to repeat it at all. “They stole me from my world and brought me here, but now no one wants me. They keep saying I stink and it makes them all foul-tempered.”
“No, I can’t do it. I just can’t,” Derix muttered more to his self than anything else. Derix trudged out of the room slipping out the door after listening at it to make certain there wasn’t anyone out there to see him leaving.
Curious, Brayden slipped out of the bed only after he was confident Derix was long gone to follow his scent down the corridors as quietly as his bare feet would allow him to move. He knew Derix would be listening for anyone following him, so he was extra careful to not be heard. Outside the door to his room, he stopped listening to the room the way Derix had with the hall. He could hear movement inside and was concentrating on it hard.
Then, someone equally enormous as Derix picked him off of his feet while he let out a shrill squeak in surprise. “What have I found? You are too cute to be a spy. Oh, please…be a spy,” that someone whispered softly in his ear with a teasingly playful tone.
Brayden was quick to note how the thick arms bound him up to a chest that rolled with more curves than the queen. The hard muscles were hot and any pressure would probably crush him like being pressed into a rock. He held very still to keep the man from moving.
“I am just a kitchen boy,” Brayden whispered as the door flew open in front of them. Derix glared at them only to look startled when he saw what the man behind him held so closely.
“Oh, no,” Derix gasped in dismay. “Did you follow me?”
“I’m sorry,” Brayden pouted. They guy behind him tightened his arms making the boy flinch in fear, but they didn’t hurt him as he expected. Instead, it felt more like a cuddling hug of comfort. Brayden turned his head.
“Oh, my…Gods,” Brayden sighed in awe. “Who are you?”
The male chuckled softly at his stupefied reaction. “That is a good question my lovely young friend. I could ask the same of you.” The man’s eyes were practically dancing with mischief and amusement. “Were you spying on Vish? You look like you could be one of his boys.”
“Vish? What is a Vish? I was hoping to be Derix’s pet…if I could figure out a way to convince him to keep me,” Brayden stated softly wondering if this new male would have him instead. He didn’t look quite as big as Derix, but he was close enough and sinfully good looking as well.
“Oh, you were, were you?” The amusement turned on Derix doubtfully. “Does your new pet have a name?” The man’s tone changed while he asked the question deepening to a much darker and less amused timbre.
“Brayden…he isn’t my pet,” Derix was swift to hiss in annoyance. Brayden flinched at the sound of it knowing he had succeeded in pissing the man off badly.
“No, is that right? He is a young thing, isn’t he? What is the matter? Is he too youthful for you? I know you like boys. What about Avron? He is young. Too young for you, or so I thought,” the man growled viciously, “but I have been wrong too often where you are concerned.” Derix glanced down the hall and stepped back into the room pointedly. After they were both inside, the door was shut and locked.
Brayden found his feet were gently placed on the floor as the man who held him knelt to let him stand on his own. Brayden turned while still in his arms to look at him. ‘Wow’ escaped him as he saw the gold and black tattoo on his arm. It fascinated him that it wasn’t a tiger, too.
“I am Medr’ainder. Derix is my half brother by way of my mom,” the guy explained still kneeling to allow Brayden’s astounded scrutiny. Medr touched Brayden’s pale white-blonde hair looking just as fascinated by him. “He looks like…”
“Yeah, he looks like my little brother,” Derix growled irritably. “Funny you should notice that. Get the hell away from him!”
“You said you didn’t want him,” Medr teased. “Did you change your mind?” Derix’s expression tightened in anger. “Because you know, that is the only way I won’t take him. Either you claim him, or he is mine.”
Brayden grinned not caring who won him so long as one of the two big males took him away from here. “Gods, Derix…He even has a dimple!” Brayden giggled and ran his hand over the large image of a lion. It was so dark on his bronze skin it was hard to notice, but the gold in it shimmered.
“You are not a tiger! Is this what you change into? It is so pretty,” Brayden whispered as he leaned into Medr’s arm. Medr met his eyes and his breath stilled in his lungs as their gazes met and held. Medr’ainder had to force his eyes closed to draw in a breath, but it shook as he inhaled.
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