Authors: Mell Eight
Tags: #fantasy, #M/M romance, #Dragon's Hoard
The day ended with everyone exhausted, Lor most of all. It was his job to melt all the snow that couldn't be moved by hand so the camp could be properly set up again. Even Kam, who had continued doing odd jobs throughout the day, was tired. He stumbled in the direction of his tent, only remembering he was bunking with Lor when all he saw was an empty plot of snow where his tent used to be.
Lor's tent was considerably older than most of the other tents in the clan and it was fancifully painted on the outside. No one would mistake the outside of Lor's tent as belonging to someone unimportant. Kam had never been inside before, but as he pushed back the flaps and stepped in he saw that the interior was just as pretty. Lor also had woven rugs hung along the tent walls and floor to help keep the cold out.
Kam was alone in the tent at the moment as Lor was still working on the last corner of the camp. He took the opportunity to change into his sleeping pants and rearrange the sleeping furs so there was enough room for two people to spread out comfortably while still staying warm. Then he sat down to wait and tried not to think too hard about what sharing a tent with Lor meant.
He had wanted Lor from the first moment he had ever seen those brilliant blue eyes, but Lor had always held back. Lor had finally made the decision to be with Kam and Kam didn't know what he felt. Through the weeks living in the camp he had taken the opportunity to study Lor as a person and Kam liked what he saw a lot. Lor was, quite simply, the perfect man and Kam wanted to keep Lor and never let him go. But he didn't know if Lor planned on keeping him, too.
The tent flaps were pushed aside and Lor stepped into the tent. He gave Kam a tired smile as he moved to his clothing trunk and began to change.
"It takes a lot of magic to keep this place alive," Lor explained. "You have no idea how grateful I am that your powers are helping out."
"My powers?" Kam asked, trying not to drool when Lor pulled off his shirt and Kam got a glimpse of Lor's sculpted back and broad shoulders.
"You're not a witch," Lor agreed with the skepticism in Kam's voice. "But you are an animal-speaker."
Kam just shook his head in bewilderment. "I'm a what?" Kam asked.
Lor finally took a seat next to Kam on the sleeping furs. "There is an ancient tale about a magical forest known as the Wilds where creatures with magical abilities live. There used to be a people who could speak with those animals, but they became greedy and tried to use their powers for control rather than understanding. Incensed, the animals forced the animal-speakers out of the Wilds. No one knows what happened to them afterwards, and since this is usually just a bedtime story I don't know if those people really existed, but my guess is they moved to the human city and forgot they were animal-speakers over the generations. You're what's left of their tribe," Lor finished as he gently reached forward to brush Kam's hair off his forehead.
"I can't speak to animals!" Kam gasped. Even though he was annoyed that Lor was trying to tie yet another witch power to him, Kam couldn't help leaning into that gentle touch.
"You help that idiot puppy, Runt, when she wanders too far away from her mother. You can find an injured hawk in the middle of the ice wastes. And you can get lost in a blizzard and have a sled dog guide you to safety. If that isn't speaking with animals, I don't know what other definition to give it. No one else can accomplish the same things you can," Lor finished with a smile for the perplexed Kam.
"If you say so," Kam finally sighed. Lor could believe what he wanted.
Lor tilted Kam's head slightly and gave Kam a knowing smile. "You'll see," Lor breathed softly as his own head moved closer. Their lips met gently. Lor was barely putting any pressure against Kam's lips and it took Kam a long moment to realize that Lor was waiting for Kam to deepen the kiss.
Kam pressed forward, his tongue slipping between his lips to caress Lor's closed mouth. Lor's own lips parted and his tongue met Kam's with a gentle caress that quickly grew heated as their tongues battled for dominance.
Lor pushed Kam back to lie down on top of the sleeping furs, his own large body covering Kam's and pushing him deeper into the fur. Their lips never parted as they breathed harshly through their noses, but the kiss never progressed further. Lor was waiting for Kam to take the initiative again.
Was Lor afraid that Kam didn't want more? Lor wasn't pressuring Kam in any way, but he was still leaving it totally up to Kam to go only as far as Kam was comfortable. Well, Kam felt up to going quite a bit further than kissing!
Kam brought his hands up to stroke along those wonderful back muscles he had glimpsed just minutes earlier, feeling just how strong and sculpted Lor was after decades of constant hard work. Kam's hands caressed over Lor's broad shoulders and down to his chest, where he found Lor's nipples.
Lor gasped and their lips parted for a brief moment as Lor arched his back at the sensation of Kam tweaking those hardened nubs. Once Lor regained his senses he returned the favor and Kam was the one moaning and pulling away from their kiss in his ecstasy.
"I'm too exhausted to go much further," Lor admitted as his lips moved to caress Kam's ear. His hard length was pressed against Kam's thigh, so Kam knew Lor was more than willing, but the hard day had taken its toll on them both.
Kam reached out to run his fingers down Lor's length, gratified when Lor gasped. "So I'll touch you, and you touch me," Kam said in a voice breathy with anticipation as he freed Lor from his sleeping pants and felt Lor's fingers fumbling with the hem of Kam's.
"I like the sound of that," Lor agreed as he finally wrapped his big hand around Kam.
The next few minutes were filled with mutual moans and gasps as their arms pumped and their fingers squeezed. It wasn't long before Kam's back was arching and he was whimpering Lor's name as he came all over Lor's hand. Lor followed soon after, burying his face in Kam's shoulder to muffle his cry. They lay together afterwards, sticky, sated, and tired, panting together on the soiled fur.
After five minutes Lor was finally able to roll to his knees. He stuck one hand outside the tent flap and returned with a handful of snow. He grabbed a bit of cloth and used it and the snow to carefully wipe them and the furs clean. Then he helped tuck them both snugly underneath the fur and pulled Kam into his arms.
Lor fell asleep first, which gave Kam a chance to see Lor's sated and happy face. Kam's heart gave a thump with just the thought that the wonderful man in his arms was his to keep. Kam wanted Lor, but as more than just bedmates. As sleep pulled Kam under, he couldn't help smiling because he got the feeling that Lor wanted their relationship to be much more, too.
Being kidnapped and taken to the ice wastes was definitely the best thing that had ever happened to Kam.
Kam was just finishing in the kennel the next morning when Tomm came up to him. Tomm was carrying a hooded falcon and even from a few yards away Kam could tell something wasn't quite right.
He had spent the morning listening to the dogs. Their happiness to see him, their satisfaction when food was delivered, and their various desires all crowded into Kam's head. Kam had never thought about the fact that he could hear what animals wanted before. It was just another facet of his life and was something he had always done. But with Lor's story about animal-speakers in his mind, Kam was beginning to realize that it wasn't normal to be able to communicate with animals the way he could.
Maybe Lor was right and Kam really had a special type of power?
"Mae told me to find you," Tomm said when he caught up to Kam. "Talon here has been off his feed for a few days; we've been trying everything we can think of to get him to eat, but nothing is working. I can't hunt with him like this and I'm worried he'll die. Mae said you would be able to tell me what's wrong with him?"
Kam nodded. He was pretty sure what was wrong with Talon already, but he reached out to gently touch the bird's stomach first to double check.
"Talon's been chewing on the paint on his perch, hasn't he?" Kam asked even though he already knew the answer. "It's given him a bit of a stomach ache. A few days of rest and a perch where he can't bite the paint off and he'll be just fine."
Talon gave a soft cry as Kam ruffled his fingers through the stiff chest feathers. Tomm nodded thoughtfully as he studied his bird.
"He has been clawing at his perch lately," Tomm said. "Thanks, I'll get that fixed."
Kam watched as Tomm and Talon walked off with a frown on his face. It was definitely clear that the things Kam could feel from animals were deeply out of the ordinary. He mulled over the idea throughout the day as he went about his various chores and waited for Lor and the rest of the hunters to return. It surprised him to see just how many of the dogs stopped by to say hello wherever he was in the camp. First Runt flopped down on his feet and then other dogs came by for a petting. When the hunters returned, Kam was one of the people who helped unhitch the dogs and he found that his sleds were done well before the ones anyone else was helping with simply because the dogs were much more cooperative with Kam than with anyone else.
When he climbed under the furs with Lor that night, Kam was almost totally convinced. He had some sort of connection or power with animals. It was a comforting thought to know that he wasn't just extra baggage for the clan any longer. Kam really could help with everything animal related. He went to sleep curled in Lor's arms with a small smile on his face at the thought.
Morning dawned and Kam woke as Lor began disentangling their furs so he could get dressed for the day. Kam hurried into his warm clothing and stepped into the blindingly blue day, braced for the icy wind that buffeted him along. He walked to the kennels to start feeding the dogs, their hunger beginning to press on his mind.
As usual, Hern already had the door open when Kam arrived. Kam took his time with the feeding, making sure that each dog got their share of food and an equal amount of time getting petted. Once he finished helping Hern clean the building properly, Kam headed over to the fire for breakfast.
"It's a good day today," Mae said as a greeting to Kam when he arrived in front of the communal pot of food. She handed him a bowl and ladled some of the porridge inside as she spoke. "We'll get a lot of tanning done today. Lots of furs to sell in the market this fall!"
"That sounds good, Mae," Kam replied as he searched for a spoon.
"I'll need you to help stretch the skins, so don't travel far," Mae added, pointing a clean spoon in his direction to emphasize her point.
Kam nodded and took the spoon. "I'll be right over there," he said with a shrug towards the rock beside the fire where Lor was sitting to eat his own breakfast.
Mae nodded, but turned her attention to Hern, who had also come for breakfast.
Lor moved over to give Kam room to sit and then occasionally brushed his arm against Kam as they both sat in comfortable silence. Runt and her littermates wandered over with their mother to sit by the fire, too. Lor had been finished eating for a while by the time Kam finally set aside his bowl, but Lor waited patiently.
"I'll be on the other side of camp," he explained. "They found …"
But Kam never learned what had been found or by whom, because Lor's eyes shot wide and he jumped to his feet.
"Weapons!" Lor shouted as he pushed Kam behind him. Bows and spears usually reserved for hunting suddenly appeared and the clan's members who knew how to use them were quick to arm themselves.
Lor was staring at an empty patch of snow, trampled flat and slightly brown by dozens of boots but otherwise totally unremarkable. In the back of his mind, Kam thought he felt the twinge of an animal of some sort coming closer, but the focused worry on Lor's face made Kam push the twinge away in favor of the more immediate fear.
Kam watched as those holding weapons circled the empty space. There was something coming into focus in the middle of their circle. Kam couldn't tell what it was because the image was so hazy. Slowly it began to resolve itself and Kam could see that there were two somethings arriving by some sort of magical means.
Suddenly the image snapped into focus. Kam could see two people holding tight to each other in the middle of the cleared space. One had hair that was a strange mixture of gold and red colors. A bright red ruby hung around his neck. The other had light brown hair and his eyes were blue. A topaz hung around the second man's neck, clearly visible when he looked up in alarm.
"See, Jerney, I told you it would work!" the strangely colored one chirped happily.
"Define 'work', Tori," the brown haired one, Jerney, snapped.
The first young man, Tori, finally looked up and his golden colored eyes widened comically. "Oh. Whoops."
Beside Kam, Lor started snorting with laughter. "Next time just announce that you're coming first," he called, waving down the fighters as he stepped forward. Mae quickly joined Lor as he walked up to the two strangers.
"I'm sorry!" Tori sniffled. To Kam's surprise, it almost seemed like Tori was about to cry. Kam could feel a sort of upset contrition from the child-like Tori. Jerney pulled Tori into his arms and patted Tori gently on the back.
"It's all right. Just a bit of a scare. Welcome to the Tribe of the White Dragon," Lor replied in a placating tone. "You are a witch and a dragon, but I don't believe I ever caught your names."
In a sudden emotional turn around, Tori bounced forwards. "I'm a dragon. My name is An'tatori. Call me Tori. This is Jerney and he's my witch," Tori added as he pulled Jerney forward by the arm. "What's your name? And who's the white dragon?"
"My name is Lor. This is Mae," Lor replied, pointing to Mae standing beside him as he spoke. "And the white dragon was our leader and caretaker centuries ago."
"Oh," Tori grumbled with a pout. "I wanted to meet him. I've never met a white dragon before. Mama-Gail is the only red dragon anymore, but even Toel never mentioned a white dragon."
The constant stream of information lacking almost totally in context had more than just Kam wishing for Tori to elaborate instead of continuing to babble. Jerney, clearly used to the dragon's behavior, reached up and placed a gentle hand over Tori's mouth. The babble cut off suddenly, but Tori didn't look the least bit abashed. Instead, Kam thought Tori felt intensely curious about everything around him.