Rokian worried about getting stopped by his clergy on the way upstairs to his chambers. So, instead of taking the main stairwell, or the ones past the kitchens, he crossed the corridor into the gallery. With no one in sight, his hand wiggled behind a painting of Orlana that extended almost floor to ceiling. He paused for a moment and gazed at the Goddess’s palace, pleased by the thought he may have the opportunity to visit again.
After peeking out the entryway a second time, his fingertips found the latch underneath the gold filigree frame and lifted. It hadn’t been used in decades and swung away from the wall with a loud groan. He pulled it shut behind him, sealing himself into complete darkness.
He searched with his mind again to his mate, pleased to have an excuse to use his gift. It had been so long.
Meet me in my chambers.
When Kai’s deep chuckle reached him, goosebumps raised on his flesh. After brushing aside dozens of spiderwebs in the passageway—trying not to envision their builders—he exited into the clean room.
Jaila jumped and a single brown strand tumbled from her bun as she rounded on him. “Cleric Sylrel! Look at all the dust you swept in. It will take hours to make this space functional again!” She grumbled while pulling open a drawer to retrieve supplies. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you move my conservatory over here.” Rokian humored her obsessive need for cleanliness because the mousy little elf was the best curator on the continent. She picked up the text before her with gloved hands, and wrapped it in linen, as if bundling an infant.
“I am sorry, you know I would never—”
“Out, out!” She pointed at the glass door. “Now, I must find someone to assist with cleaning, but not until I preserve these tomes.” On a normal day, he might offer to stay and help. But since opening the passageway brought a negligible amount of dust, she would need to handle it today on her own.
As soon as he burst through the doorway, Kailu slipped an arm around Rokian’s torso and twisted his fingers through his brown curls before drawing him against his chest. He softened when their lips first met, but pressed against him moments later with passion before breaking their embrace. Kailu left his cleric swooning—he always did—but held him close and purred in his ear.
“I have never heard you that clearly.”
A wide smile crossed Rokian’s face. “I feel… more alive than I have in so long.” Kailu’s pale fingers wrapped around his mates and he led him across the room to the bar in the corner. He gestured for Rokian to sit, and started cutting fresh mint, before removing two clear glasses from beneath the countertop. Rokian sat with a half grin, recalling the moment his power returned.
“How long will you make me wait? What did she say?”
“Well, other than the obvious? She has given me a job to do.”
Kailu rolled his eyes as he poured a clear alcohol over the mint and added lemon. “Pfft. It is always something with her. What is it this time?”
“There is a youngling—”
His mate stiffened and his jaw fell. “She came to you about a youngling?”
Rokian examined his face and the cords in Kai's neck before continuing. “Is something wrong?”
“I just know how you feel about them, love. You must admit, it is a strange request.”
The cleric nodded. “It is, and there could be several reasons for it, but I will notquestion her.” Kailu passed his drink across the bar and stepped around to sit beside him.
“Of course not. Sorry I interrupted your thoughts. Please continue.”
“There is a female in Erysall…” Kailu’s nose curled at the name, but he remained silent.
“Aiuna says I am supposed to get her here. Somehow. And her mother—the royal alchemist—is to join her.” His mate brushed his long platinum hair over his shoulder as he stood and rubbed the back of his neck.
“Kai, in all seriousness, what is wrong with you?” Rokian asked.
Kailu sighed and looked to the other side of the room. “King Rainier is a beast of the worst kind love... So how do you want to do this?” This was one reason Rokian loved his mate. Above all else, they were a team. When Aiuna gave him a directive, it was for both of them. Even though Kailu did not worship her—in the temple anyway—she knew both of them would execute the order.
Rokian’s mouth twisted to the side. “We need to find out how to get close to the alchemist.”
“Oh, that is simple enough,” Kailu said.
“We have been instructed to minimize loss of life.” Rokian was incapable of taking a life and Aiuna understood that. The warning was not meant for him; rather for Kailu. He had plenty of ways to do his job, so murder was unnecessary—and had been for a long time. But it had been so long since her last visit, maybe she didn’t know that.
No love, she knows I do not need to resort to that. But she is unwilling to stop admonishing me. We have our own things to discuss… eventually.
Rokian’s cheek twitched at the reminder that she never snubbed his other half. But then, he didn’t neglect her for another elf either. She’d taken Rokian’s gift before he and Kailu even met. The jealousy passed at the thought of finally being able to talk to his mate with telepathy and his face warmed.
Kailu leaned onto his elbow and stared into his eyes with a devilish grin.
I have missed it too. Look closer and see what else I am thinking about.
Rokian winked as he rose. “I know better than that. We have things to do, and will never get them done dallying here together.”
Kailu growled again, raising the hairs on his mate’s arms. “Alright, Aiuna’s demands first, but we are staying in my chambers tonight.”
He shivered at the thought and shared it mentally before moving toward the door.
“You are awful,” Kailu growled.
“But you love me anyway.” He winked before they left the room together, not paying attention, and tripped over Lucy in the corridor. The light shined across her face through the window, making it almost impossible to see the pale crystal blue in her eyes. This resulted in both a terrifying and stunning effect of having virtually no irises at all. She smiled at her twin before looking back at Rokian.
“I did not want to bother you, but… the Goddess visited?” As an empath, Lucy not only felt the waves of emotion exuded by the cleric, but likely from Aiuna herself when she arrived.
"Next time, let yourself in. Why must I keep telling you that? I have promised to lock it when I need to be alone.”
“Because she has manners, Rokian. Give her a break. She only moved in a week ago.”
Rokian’s olive skin highlighted Lucy’s pale features when he took her hands. “You spent so many years with us, it is easy to forget you are still adjusting to your new position. I have asked you to serve as my personal assistant because I trust you. And I expect you to be part of these conversations.”
She bit her lip in thought before speaking. “Did she give you back your gift?”
Rokian nodded and held up a finger. “Yes. But that does not mean you are no longer needed. I did not call on you because of my disability. On the contrary, it will be much more interesting working with you now.” Her already pleasant smile grew.
“We need to discuss a way to summon you when something important is happening.” He could only speak inside the mind of those with similar gifts, otherwise he was limited to only listening or seeing their thoughts.
“I can hear you a little, you know? At least enough to recognize if you repeat my name. A benefit of sharing blood with Kai.” She wrinkled her nose at her twin. “So there is at least one good thing about having to deal with him.”
His crossed arms threatened to bust out of his tan linen shirt as he glared with mock seriousness. He could terrify almost everyone he desired, but his sister was not among them—another significant reason to have her at Elden Keep. She narrowed her eyes in a playful response and mimicked his posture.
Kailu chuckled. “Alright, I am going to my chambers. There are a few individuals I need to contact. It will take longer, but we can get inside without hurting anyone.”
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