Authors: J. C. Owens
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Science Fiction
J. C. Owens
Copyright © December 2009 by J. C. Owens
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Anyar straightened to attention, feeling faintly anxious in himself but confident he had
nothing out of place, as his commander came to inspect them. He was the youngest and the
newest of the guards and the honor of being included in this assignment had his mind reeling
with determination not to screw anything up.
Commander Tanyan came before him, face expressionless, but Anyar imagined he could
feel a kindness behind the man's harsh exterior, a gentleness that others of the guards did not
Anyar straightened to perfect posture, hands by his sides, chest out, and wings folded
neatly against his back. For long, breathless moments he watched his commander slowly assess
him. Then the cold eyes moved on to the next guard, and he relaxed into alertness but without the
His mind floated contentedly over various matters, though his ears remained trained to the
sound of Commander Tanyan's voice so that when the inspection was over, he could respond
immediately to the order for them to stand down and go about their business. They had one hour
before they had to begin duty when the delegation arrived.
Anyar frowned, uncertain how he felt about this political maneuvering. He had never seen
a Nazarian, though many of the guards had had skirmishes with them on the edges of the plains,
a disputed territory between Nazar and Anyar's country of Melan. They were said to be cold and
brutal, emotionless in the extreme. Anyar had been regaled with horror stories of the fate of
prisoners unlucky enough to fall into Nazarian hands and of how it was preferable to seek death
rather than to endure the atrocities they took such pleasure in. It was even said that they
amputated wings to make the Melanian prisoners docile and unable to escape.
J. C. Owens
Anyar shuddered, his wings clamping closer to his body at the mere thought. To lose one's
wings… Apart from losing his own maleness, he could think of nothing more horrifying. Death
would be but a blessing.
He thrust the disturbing thoughts away and went to change to more suitable garments for
his role of guard during the delegation's visit for peace talks. In the familiar uniform of subtle
browns and greens of his people, he felt once more at ease. The colors suited the plains area in
which the town of Cewa lay; a strange choice, he thought, for the talks to take place, a place of
no particular import. He shrugged. Perhaps that was the very attraction; the great cities were too
full of political intrigue for this historical moment. He could not say he cared. That this was
happening here was to his advantage, and had it not caused him to meet the commander at last?
He smiled a little, embarrassed at the admission of his admiration. The commander was an
imposing figure in reality, and Anyar had spent much time researching him and his military
history and achievements, so when the chance had come to meet him in person, he had been
awestruck and shaking with excitement. The reality was much better than dry facts and reading.
Tanyan was tall and powerful, with the famous golden wings that turned copper in certain lights.
Beautiful… His black hair and blue eyes certainly did not harm his appearance either, and the
confidence and sense of power that surrounded him were heady to a young guard fresh from the
college. The hero worship had instantly turned into something much more physical, something
that had shocked Anyar considerably.
It was not that he had not had sexual encounters with both genders, but they were playful
fumblings more than actual sex. This…this was like the awakening of something inside him that
he had not even dreamed existed. His lips twisted in dry amusement. No doubt the commander
had many drooling after him; he would hardly notice one more young recruit.
He grinned wryly. That was truth enough, but by the gods, while Tanyan was here, he
would enjoy the view!
* * * * *
Anyar's first stunned thought was that the Nazarians were really no different than his people.
Different coloration, yes, but though taller and perhaps lighter of build, they had wings, their
faces were angular, and their hands long and slender.
At second glance, the differences became a little more apparent: the smaller wings, with
denser feathers for flight in forested areas, the odd coloration that made them seem otherworldly,
not creatures of substance. Their fingers ended in short claws, and their teeth seemed a little
sharper perhaps than his own.
He watched them with great fascination; their white wings shone in the sun, and hair of
various shades of gold gleamed like its namesake. Anyar had never seen hair so beautiful.
They seemed accomplished horsemen and rode their mounts with practiced skill that
brought his admiration. The horses themselves were either light gray or white, a rare and
treasured color in Melan.
Anyar's eyes glowed as he looked at the animals. He wondered whether he would get a
chance to see them more closely in the stables, for even at this distance he could see the breeding
and quality of the lead stallion.
He thought of his little mare, Meera, and wished fervently he could cover her with this
stallion. She would be in heat within the next day or so. How he wished he could persuade the
Looking up at the rider made him swallow hard and abandon such a plan. The man was
extremely tall, his hair palest gold, but his eyes were utterly cold and withdrawn; a cold, clear
green, they passed through those before him without pause as though they were beneath notice.
Anyar heard murmurs in the crowd around him, the hatred of the Nazarians evident in the
whispered curses flung at that cold visage. As for himself, he was too intrigued to feel hatred, if
hatred was in his heart.
Yes, his parents had been killed by those of Nazar, but he had been too young to remember
them, so the feeling was not immediate to him. He shifted uneasily at the thought. Those around
him would think him traitor for even that much leniency.
The delegation came before the assembled nobles for whom the Melanian king himself had
sent for this occasion. His Majesty's own ill health prevented him from attending. Anyar strained
to hear the words exchanged, but the wind blew the words away from him, and he frowned in
irritation as he missed them.
J. C. Owens
The Nazarians, though, seemed to be content, for they dismounted in perfect unison, and
after much exchanging of platitudes between the two groups, they disappeared into the main hall,
leaving the crowd outside milling about in excited discussions.
Anyar sighed and caressed the hilt of his sword. It was time to report to his assigned
position. With luck, this would drag out for longer than planned; then he could catch a few more
glimpses of his commander.
* * * * *
completely expressionless and thought idly to himself that it would be to the Melanians'
advantage if they could learn to do the same. The drone of conversation and political
maneuvering flowed over him, and he retreated into thought again, knowing that Serin, his
commander second, along with Serin's twin, Sindin, his diplomatic chief, would tell him the