The Centurion Cycle Book Five ~ Of Shadow and Fire

Chapter Three: Terrible Despair

"My demon Field Marshal why do you look so glum. Step away from the window so we might feast." Emperor Xavier said from the dining table in the half-completed palace he was building from the very stone of the former Grand Hall of the Field Marshals, one of its original thrones at the head of the long table.

"I look toward our enemies my Emperor," Armageddon explained as he closed the curtains around the north facing windows.

"If that is the case you are looking in the wrong direction." Xavier chuckled. "It is to the south you should look.

"To the Dukedom of Aquanos, but our treaty with the Federation? Aquanos is their vassal state."

"Led by a rebellious duke. Do not worry Armageddon I am sure the King of Jadoor would be thankful if we were to present him with James' head."

"I do not know the meaning of fear. I only know my desire for victory and I must warn you we are not yet strong enough to make war with the Federation again."

"You have so little faith in our legions?"

"Our legions are not as vast as they once were. The loss of the students at the Academy robbed us of many fine future officers."

"But we are breeding hundreds if not thousands of new Centurions each day."

"Many of whom you kill."

"So their anima may strengthen those of our young who are worth many of whom are almost full grown."

"Mad and undisciplined," Armageddon insisted.

Chuckling Xavier plucked a grape from a bowl of fruit. "Some say the same of you my Field Marshal."

"I kill the enemy. I always win," Armageddon said with no pretense of a boast. Since he had been named the Field Marshal of Demons and leader of the anima engorged younglings he had never lost a battle. In truth, it was he, not Xavier, who kept the Empire together from the fear his very name sent shivers down the spines of every man, woman and child in Domus.

"Yes, you do with skill none have ever seen before my blue skinned friend."

"I live to serve you, my Emperor," Armageddon bowed.

"And as my most loyal servant I have rewarded you richly," Xavier replied, placing a vial of anima on the table.

"Is this the anima of a child?" Armageddon asked suspiciously. The anima of the newly born was without memories or wisdom. In fact, such anima was the very opposite, a chaotic potion of unaware thoughts and animistic urges. For Armageddon such anima was more than worthless, but dangerous.

"Nay my Field Marshal," Xavier said in a jolly tone hoping to remove this disgusted look off his Field Marshal's face. This is the anima of General Placard... the last of the rebellious generals to foul my dungeons."

"Ah, a rare treat." Armageddon chuckled, a grin replacing his frown. He watched Xavier pour the anima into a pair of lovers' goblets.

"Please Armageddon sit... you should not have to enjoy this anima's rich flavor on your feet."

"As you wish my Emperor," Armageddon said, sitting down in a low standing chair so his massive height would not tower over Xavier.

"Drink my blue demon and become even stronger," Xavier said, handing Armageddon the larger of the two silver goblets a habit that had become a tradition between the two. Once Xavier's bond had been the more dominant but as Armageddon gorged himself on the anima of Domus' greatest generals Armageddon's power, his very presence came to outshine Xavier's own. When he had originally designed his plans to create a demon Field Marshal he had intended to rid himself of such a dangerous creature eventually. Now the very thought of even punishing his creation no longer passed his mind. Just as Armageddon was fatally addicted to the elixir that now stained his skin blue and gave him his solid purple eyes Xavier was addicted to his Field Marshal, for protection, for his bond, for the only kind of love left to him. The Emperor had once been a proud man and had once preferred dominating his lovers in bed. Now the only sexual pleasure he could still enjoy was the hard rough wild ravishing only Armageddon was capable or daring enough to give his Emperor.

Once the two had drained their cups the rest of the meal was quickly forgotten as anima's sexual rush overcame them. Armageddon, so much stronger, larger, and quicker than Xavier could ever hope to be quickly overwhelmed the Emperor, making love to him with the same aggressiveness he showed in battle. By the time the anima lost its effect Xavier lay bruised on his bed, the arms of the demon Field Marsha; wrapped tightly around him. Inside it, both thrilled and frightened the emperor that his Field Marshal had such a hold on him. It often made him wonder who the true master was.

Feeling two warm bodies wrapped around his naked form Jason let a small smile form on his face believe the two men he loved above all others, Philip and Varrus, had come to comfort his troubled mind. Slowly, opening his eyes he was therefore surprised to see two identical Demon Spawn smiling at him with wide grins.

"Good morning master," Tomal said, almost giggling.

"You two are the twins?"

"Yes master," Gabriel replied pressing his hard muscular body tighter against Jason's own strong frame.

"Philip," Jason said letting out a deep sigh to prevent his temper from rising. He was not so upset that Philip had claimed both brothers for his own but that once again his lover had left their bed to satisfy his sexual hungers. Jason knew Philip's nature and the ways of the Centurion but he could not help but feel slightly rejected if not abandoned. But Philip was Philip and Jason knew there was nothing he could do short of hurting his lover that could change his nature. Though Jason felt unintentional hurt by Philip's lack of consideration he could not imagine the idea of bringing Philip to task for it. "May I ask what the two of you are doing in my bed?"

"Lord Philip sent us. He thought you could use the company," Tomal said still smiling.

"That was most kind of him," Jason said his thighs feeling the heat and hardness of the two Spawn's swelling manhoods.

"You are the most beautiful creature we have ever seen," Gabriel said kissing Jason's pale neck.

"More beautiful than all of Ares itself," Tomal agreed before exploring Jason's board chest with his tongue.

"More..." Gabriel started to say but was cut off when a large body of fur hit him with such force as to knock him off the bed.

"Jacob..." Jason said calmly as his wolf stood over Tomal his fur sticking up as he growled at the Spawn. "It is all right Jacob. Philip didn't mean it."

Giving Tomal a final warning snort Jacob took Gabriel's spot and began licking Jason's face.

"I apologize for Jacob," Jason told Tomal who looked both surprised and frightened. "He is most protective of me."

"I... I only wanted to please you," Tomal stuttered.

"Maybe another time after Jacob gets to know you a little. Wolves are very territorial animals after all." Jason said.

"I'll say," Tomal said as he slipped out of the bed, he and his brother rushing out, not bothering to dress.

"I wasn't in danger Jacob," Jason said to his wolf in a chiding tone. "Philip was only trying to surprise me." On hearing Philip's name Jacob let out a low growl. "Come on Jacob you should not hate Philip so. He is my lover after all. I wish the two of you would get along."

"So would I, my beloved Jason..." Philip said appearing in the room, Varrus standing behind him. Jumping from the bed Jacob went to Varrus wagging his tail playfully at the Saint.

"He seems to like me well enough," Varrus chuckled scratching the wolf behind his ears.

"If Jacob is going to ruin all my surprises for you I might have to cage him," Philip told Jason.

"You will do no such thing, my lecherous husband," Jason said sliding out of the bed. As he stretched out his body and wings he did not notice that the lustful gazes doing so triggered from both Varrus and Philip.

"Maybe you should rest some more," Philip said, going to one side of the bed.

"As your mentor, I must agree. You have been very tired of late. Best to save your strength," Varrus said as he went to Jason, wrapping his long strong body around his king.

"If I go back to bed than I doubt you two will allow me much rest," Jason chuckled even as he let Varrus guide him to the mattress.

"As you said you have a most lecherous husband. Maybe you should leash him to your bed to keep him for your own pleasure?" Varrus said, Philip, holding Jason tightly as Varrus cast off his robes.

"And you Varrus, most beautiful of all?" Jason said... even after three years the very sight of his mentor's naked body filled him with a deep desire that not even Philip could give him.

"See Philip he said most beautiful. I have told you before you keep him too humble," Varrus told the Demon before looking down at Jason. "Nay I am not the most beautiful of all. Compared to you I am but a homely man."

"You are still the most beautiful man I know," Jason said as Varrus lay down next to him head to toe.

"Then I shall find you a larger mirror," Varrus said as he took hold of Jason's manhood, gently squeezing it, feeling the power of Jason's growing erecting feeding his own desires.

"Oh, Varrus what am I to do with you?" Jason sighed as pleasure filled him.

"Nothing at all. Let us take care of you for a change," Varrus said before wrapping his warm mouth around Jason's hard sex.

"I'm sorry if the twins surprised you," Philip said, from behind Jason, his hands playing with Jason's chest.

"I..." Jason whispered not able to say how he truly felt. Now that Varrus and Philip were with him he didn't feel he had the right to complain about his husband's whoring.

"I do not know how I became so lucky to have both you and Varrus as lovers," Philip said, the closest he had ever come to apologizing.

"Do not worry about it," Jason sighed as he felt Philip's hand slid down to his rear. Soon he felt his lover's sex penetrate him feeling him with a brief pain followed by a fulfilling pleasure. With Varrus' own erect manhood inches away from his lips Jason let his own lust take him and took it in his mouth. When his sexual pleasure reached its explosive climax he let out a deep moan, his entire body becoming taunt for a few brief seconds before they relax as a peaceful calm fell over him.

"We should do this more often?" Philip chuckled as he held his resting husband tightly against him.

"I know what we should do but it's completely impractical," Varrus said. He knew Jason's heart and the secret pain Philip was causing him. Just like Jason, however, he knew of no solution to it. If he could only dare to take Jason away from Qul Tos to a place far from the troubles of the royal court whereon he, Jason, and Philip could live together in each others' arms. It was what Jason wanted at least. Jason was king, however. Not only that, he was becoming a great king which meant Jason had a deeper responsibility to remain on the throne. After the defeat of the Confederacy Jason had become a legend. In the year that had passed that legend had taken on religious aspects. They did not call Jason the Holy King of Qul Tos for no reason. In a few more years the religion growing around the king would become a powerful force, not just in Qul Tos, but all of Ares. That made what Varrus said next all the more necessary. "The Legatio refuges came to me again yesterday."

"What did they want this time," Philip grumbled.

"They are concerned about Jason as usual," Varrus replied as he gingerly tried to move to the subject he needed to discuss with both men. "They know Jason is not well."

"I know... I even know its cause." Philip sighed. "Jason, why didn't you tell me the truth?"

"The truth?"

"Your anima sickness," Philip replied trying not to sound if he was scolding his lover.

"I didn't want to worry you."

"But I've been worried. I've been worried for over six months."

"There is more to worry about than you know," Jason sighed, rolling over to face his husband.

"Then tell me then," Philip demanded, a hint of fear entering his voice.

"Melkior did not tell me. He knew I would find out on my own, after I consumed his anima that is. Long ago in the early days of the Empire, the Field Marshals commissioned an experiment, an experiment involving anima. Picking their finest warriors they killed most of them, giving their anima to the handful that was their very best. They hoped you see to create the ultimate Centurion instead they caused their bravest warriors to turn into demons... anima addicts, unbeatable in the arena but mad with lust for their life-giving elixir. One was especially monstrous... the Centurion Seth."

"I didn't know that was a Centurion name," Varrus said surprised.

"It was once, after he killed a Legatio Senator to consume his anima the name was declared forbidden. No Centurion in thousands of years has been given that name until only Melkior remembered its significance. Anyway, after Seth was hunted down and killed his anima was giving to the four other Centurions who had been engorged with anima a strange thing happened... their flesh stained blue with anima returned back to normal, their addiction cured. Somehow Seth's potent anima cured them. That is why Melkior believe Alex can cure me."

"So we are to hunt and kill Alex?" Varrus said.

"No," Jason whispered. "I forbid it."

"Can my brother be cured?" Philip asked.

"Maybe, if I were to bond to him."

"Now that is something I forbid."

"Philip!" Jason protested. "He's your brother."

"And a Legatio killer and a monster," Philip listed. He has disgraced and dishonored my family. To be honest I am glad he rid himself of his family's name. I do not know if I could stand such shame."

"Oh come on Philip. All of us here know why you do not want Jason to bond with your brother. You have long known your brother desired Jason for himself. In this case, you are wrong to fear Alex. If Jason can save him then you should not forbid him from trying." Varrus scolded.

"He does not deserve such a blessing," Philip grumbled.

"Still I must try," Jason whispered not wanting to increase Philip's anger. "He was my friend Philip... one of only two I've ever had. Gideon is lost to me though I try to hold on to some hope. You can't ask me to give up on Alex so easily."

"Be as that may Alex is in Domus, surrounded by legions of Centurions loyal to him and Xavier. Unless you were to free my Demon Spawn from your leash there is no power in all of Ares that can capture the Gate let alone break into the capital."

"I still want your permission to try," Jason said softly.

"Try if you must but don't do anything to put your own life at risk," Philip said half relenting.

"Thank you, Philip," Jason said as he gave his lover a gentle kiss.

"Now to a more prevalent matter, at least among kings, when will Jason pick a queen?" Varrus said.

"He is already married," Philip insisted stubbornly.

"The Tosians, Legatio, even the Centurions would argue otherwise," Varrus replied. "Whether you like it or not Philip Jason was born a Legatio. He, therefore, has a duty to marry and have as many children as possible. It would stabilize his rule if the people knew there was an heir to the throne. Without one the nobles will continue to believe Jason's line will die with him and scheme to position them as his replacement."

"As you well know Jason is immortal," Philip laughed.

"Yes but that does not mean his people yet believe that fact. We have just put down one civil war. A marriage would help ensure there won't be a second." Varrus insisted, shaking a finger at Philip.

"I don't mind marrying Philip. It is my duty after all." Jason said.

"But I mind. I will not share my bed with a woman."

"I don't think that will be a problem. As is the custom in the east members of the nobility and royalty usually have the resources to own large houses. In most cases, highborn ladies have their own bedchambers separate from their husbands. When Eleanor was queen she turned an entire wing of the royal palace into its own little fortress."

"Good, Jason can keep his wives locked up in there," Philip growled as he jumped out of bed. "I'm going down to the baths... will you be joining me, Jason?"

"In a short while. I must talk with Varrus more about this issue," Jason said.

"Fine," Philip said, not even attempting to hide his displeasure.

"Your husband is quite the jealous sort isn't he?" Varrus laughed after Philip was gone.

"He's just scared. I've never been with a woman before. I think he's afraid I might enjoy the experience too much."

"You might. You were born a Legatio after all and they can be as lecherous towards women as Philip is to men. Still, I think Philip's fears are without merit. I have slept with other Legatio before you but I must say you were the first who openly pursued me." Varrus chuckled, nuzzling his nose against the back of Jason's neck.

"Oh Varrus what am I to do about Philip," Jason said rolling to face his mentor.

"You have always known his nature Jason," Varrus reminded him. "Do you doubt his love?"

"Of course not I just wish I was enough for him."

"Is he enough for you?"

"It would not make me unhappy."

"But what about us?" Varrus said, tickling Jason's stomach.

"I still love you Varrus. I cannot have you near me without feel desire for you."

"And that makes me glad for my passion for you have never lessened."

"I do not mind Philip having other lovers. I just wish they weren't strangers to me."

"That is a problem I do agree for his lovers are vast. It's all you can do to keep up."

"And I don't like that," Jason said, a ting of anger in his voice. "Why must I be forced to give my bond just so there are enough Saints to keep his legion of demon spawn in line?"

"Have you told him this?"

"No... I'm too afraid to."

"You could force him into fidelity."

"I would never do that. I love him. I do not want his resentment." Jason said resting his head on Varrus' chest his mentor wrapping his arms tightly around his shoulders.

"You are planning something aren't you," Varrus whispered rocking Jason gently.

"I must save Alex... not just for his sake but for all of you."

"I understand. Do not tell me your plans. May I guess correctly it was never your intention to? No matter, what I don't know I can't tell Philip. I will miss you my Angel."

"And I you, my teacher."

"May I ask a boon of you in return for my silence?"

"Name it," Jason nodded, breathing in Varrus' pleasant scent.

"Give me this day with you. I do not think Philip will mind. He does have those two new twins of his after all."

"I would like that greatly," Jason replied, looking up into Varrus' violet eyes.

"Then come with me... and bring your staff. It has been long since the two of us have dueled." Varrus said leaving the bed.

At the idea of dueling Jason felt a burst of energy, he had not felt in months fill him. Jumping from the bed he opened his wardrobe retrieving the silver-leafed steel staff.

"No clothes?" Varrus chuckled.

"No need," Jason insisted as he opened the doors leading to the bedroom balcony, spreading out his long white wings. "Catch me if you can," he laughed before soaring into the air.

"Now that is the Jason I know," Varrus said before giving chase.

If you like my story, drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you: JMH