tagGay MaleSerpent's Salvation

Serpent's Salvation

byOphiucus©

This work is copywrited and is property of the author. It may not be reproduced, borrowed, put on some website or even printed out and made into paper airplanes without the permission of the author.

Any resemblance to any people alive or dead, or any event is purely coincidental, unless
A) You are a koo-koo for cocoa puffs delusional psychopath (in which case you might want to seek professional help) or
B) You are the luckiest son of a bitch on the entire planet. I hate you.

This story is gay mythology-based fantasy fiction. If gay stories offend you, you in the wrong place. If you are underage, I can't stop you from reading (just make sure you locked your door first, you pervert). If it is illegal in your area, well, that's just really sad. It is also a real story, not gonzo sex. If you just want a quick wank, this is probably not your bag. If you want romance, intrigue and action with sex as an eventual added bonus, pucker up sugah.

On with the tale!


---Prologue---

"For what it's worth, I'm sorry."

It was conspiracy. The news that Aurel's assistant had just given him had cut to the heart. He had grown up with Baruch, trusted him like a brother, and now to find out...

Betrayal.

He clenched his eyes shut for a moment before recovering his mask and turned back towards Mychael.

"Did you find out anything before he died?" Aurel said, once again shuttered and hard.

"No. He turned vicious. We thought we had him cornered. We never thought that he'd..." Mych's voice trailed off. He was unaccustomed to making excuses. He never had reason to before. And the memory of what had happened; he shuddered involuntarily as his mind shied away from even contemplating it.

"We're still searching his things. There might be something that will help us", Mych said, even as his face said otherwise.

Aurel shook his head, eyes staring out the window at the violently crashing sea below.

"No. Nothing can help us."

---Chapter 1---

"I wish that you would reconsider this, Aurel. We can keep you secure when everything is locked down, but we can't make any promises when you invite everyone and their performing monkey in," Mych said, acknowledging a passing guard as they walked through the private hallway. "Your house is a logistical nightmare." He had to pick up his pace to keep up with Aurel's long-legged stride. Not that he was a small man, not even close, but Aurel was at least half a head taller.

"We've been over this Mych. The council meeting was scheduled long before our problems started and it's my turn to host. I can't lose face right now, there is much more at stake here than just me."

"I know that," said Mych, "more than anybody. But if something happens to you all of our plans are dead in the water anyway."

"Hmm."

"Pun definitely intended. No one will pick up where you left off."

Aurel took a moment to consider this. "There are a few who might take up the gauntlet."

"But nobody that could do it justice. You know that. It isn't bragging on your part, just stone cold truth."

"I've given you extra men, extra money and extra equipment. I'm as safe as I'm going to get Mych. I trust you to do what needs to be done. We are fully committed so quit acting like a hen."

"That's mother hen to you," said Mych. He expected a sharp reply but Aurel just kept walking. They slowed their pace just a little as they approached a polished wood door with an intricate lock system.

"Remember," said Aurel, "no oral communication from you or the other guards outside of the private living areas. Not while the house is occupied."

Seen and not heard, boss.

"Damnation," Aurel said, "I wish I could do that."

Perfection isn't easy to achieve.

Mych sighed like a Martyr before wincing and rubbed his throbbing bicep. "What was that for?"

"Insubordination. And I barely tapped you."

Mych rolled his eyes as he did a security check. "If that was just a tap I don't know why you have us around in the first place."

"It strokes my ego."

*****

They took a labyrinthine jumble of corridors towards the library. Aurel nodded to the door guard before slowly licking his lips, letting his senses spread, even as Mychael inhaled, nostrils flaring gently, both seeking the identity of the room's occupants. The guard had told Mych who was present, but redundancy could mean the difference between life and death.

Clear.

Mychael's thought was a gentle flutter in his mind, confirming what Aurel already knew.

Despite the multitude of precautions they had already taken, Mychael entered the room first; his fluid, graceful movements belied the fact that he was prepared for violence. He prowled the library out of habit while scanning the leather volumes and comfortable chairs for anything out of the ordinary. Aurel closed and secured the door behind him before turning towards the rooms occupants. He scowled as he walked up to one of them, picking the man up in a powerful embrace.

"Get off me!" The voice was good humored, the accent blunted and Americanized, but the struggling was very real. Aurel was almost crushing him. Putting him down, Aurel smiled for the first time in days, his dark chocolate eyes crinkling at the corners, a smile that coaxed a similar response from the blue depths of the man in his embrace. Aurel loosened his tight clasp but didn't break the physical contact.

"I've missed you," he said.

"I've missed you too. It doesn't mean that I want to dance with you." Alex flashed him a lopsided grin. "I admit that it would probably be much more interesting if you were a girl," he mused, looking pointedly at Aurel's eye level pectorals. "But I only dance with your sister. Sorry to disappoint." Aurel's laugh sounded forced even to himself.

"I wish she could have come," Aurel said.

He must not have been quite successful in keeping the wistfulness at bay because Alex felt the need to tighten the hug for a moment before releasing him.

"Misha wanted to be here, but honestly, it's for the best. If anything ever happened to her or little Nicki…"

"I know," Aurel said. "You don't have to say it."

"Anyway, the hug was from her and she is expecting a phone call from us both."

"I will do so tonight."

Aurel turned to the other two men, greeting them and clasping their hands in turn.

"Cai, Ruvn."

Mychael nodded a greeting to the men as well, his gaze lingering on Ruvn. Tall, dark, rather gaunt, he looked like a storybook undertaker, a perfect foil for his sarcastic sense of humor. The humor wasn't present at the moment however, as Ruvn gave a mournful shake of his head.

Nothing.

"We've gone through everything of Baruch's", Ruvn elaborated, "and we've found nothing. They must have been extremely careful. No scent trails, nothing on the computer. They could have used an old fashioned drop, but we haven't been able to find it. It's unlikely that they would have a telepath of their own."

"You know how they feel. They wouldn't get near enough to one of us to poke us with a sharp stick, let alone trust us with something so politically volatile," Mych said.

"They?" said Alex.

"Just a general term. We have no idea," Ruvn said.

"Oh, I have ideas aplenty, just no concrete evidence." Mych replied.

Aurel sighed, resigned. "Don't look so upset. It is nothing less than what we expected. We have about half an hour before we do the pretty. Cai, have you heard anything?" He looked at the other man, almost his bookend in terms of size and build, but blessed with the white blond hair and chiseled face of a Viking.

Mordecai sat down and poured himself a drink from the colorful cut crystal decanter at his elbow, then took a sip before urging the others to join him. They all metabolized alcohol swiftly, so there was no worry over ill effects or the blunting of instincts. "So far, no rumors, nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone believes that Baruch's death was a tragic accident. There have been a few comments about the coincidence of so many accidents so close together, but nothing concrete. Everyone suspects that something is wrong but nobody is pointing fingers. It is only a matter of time though; your enemies are like swift raptors when they sense easy prey. Not that we are easy prey," he added, before they could speak, "but it is a vulnerability."

"Niran is gloating," Alex said.

" But that's no more than usual. And Mercer is being a typical hard ass." Cai shot a wicked grin at Alex as he used the borrowed colloquialism. "There is a lot of support for you Aurel, but..." He shifted in his seat, not quite meeting Aurel's eyes.

"But?"

Cai looked at him candidly. "They have to be wondering what will happen if they ally themselves with you."

"I've been wondering that myself," Aurel said.

"Aurel, you can't just-"

"Listen to me." The others gave a start of surprise when Aurel cut off the beginning of Alex's tirade. "There is danger here. I am walking a tightrope and anyone connected with me could be a target. One of our own has already betrayed us, Clan members have gone missing, have died. I believe in what I am doing, I've risked my life for it, but I can't ask you to do the same Alex. You have a bound mate and a son. You have your own Clan to worry about. I will not endanger you or your people. I won't endanger my sister."

He looked around, taking them all in. "I won't endanger all of you."

"You won't, will you? Who are you to order about the head of Clan Von Erlach?" Alex said, his even voice and flashing eyes more forceful than any shout. In that instant it was easy to see how someone so normally laid back could inspire radical devotion in his people. "You are not my keeper. I rule in my own right and I make my own decisions. Your sister wouldn't be happy with your casual dismissal of us either. We believe in what you are doing. As a former outcast myself I have a stake in this as well. You're my brother and I'll support you even if you're going to be a total jackass about it." Alex rested his elbows on his knees as he leaned towards Aurel. "Who helped you negotiate the Garuda Accords? Who volunteered to be one of your ambassadors when everyone else was expecting certain failure? Did you think that would be a cakewalk or a tiptoe through the tulips? It could have blown up in my face."

The silence was uneasy.

"I thought as much," Alex said. "I helped you then and I'll help you now." He relaxed into the leather sofa and took a sip of brandy. "Besides, I wouldn't want your sister to cut me off. I've become accustomed to certain…things."

Instead of rising at the bait as he usually would, Aurel looked pensive for a moment, absorbing everything that was said. A weight that he hadn't realized existed lifted off of his chest, leaving him almost lightheaded with relief. He had been willing to go it alone, but it would have been much more difficult, perhaps impossible. Even suicidal. Maybe he was selfish, but the response he received had been the one he had hoped for. Still, he had needed to give Alex an out. Aurel blindly gripped Alex's hand and said "Thank you."

"Don't mention it. Though I will have to tell Misha about your little lapse into idiocy. Be prepared for a tongue lashing like no other."

Aurel looked at Cai, who had gripped his other hand. "Cousin, where you go, I go. You and Misha are the only family I have." The moment was ruined when Alex cuffed Cai on the back of the head.

"Leave someone out Cai?" Alex said.

"My apologies. Aurel, Misha, and…little Nicki," Cai replied, playfully ignoring Alex's glare.

Mych and Ruvn had been lost in thought during the exchange, sharing a silent communion before Mych spoke for both of them. He had to struggle past the lump that formed in his throat. "I'm not used to speaking so seriously, but if there was ever a time for it I suppose this is it." He took a deep breath. "Aurel, we have no choice in the matter. You made the choice for us the day you took us in and thumbed your nose at the rest of the world. Our own tribes don't want us. They even hunted us for sport before you came along. Everyone else was happy to let us find hell in our own way but you gave us a family when we had nothing." The confession was difficult for him. He was looking at the floor; his hazel eyes squinted as if looking into a bright light, unruly black hair partially hiding his expression. "I can't repay that, I don't have money enough, even friendship enough to cover that debt, but I can die trying," he said, finally meeting Aurel's eyes with the fierce determination in his own. Ruvn nodded his solemn agreement.

Aurel stood abruptly, turning to the door to hide the unaccustomed tears that threatened to pool, grappling with the foreign feeling. He mentally chastised himself. He never relinquished control. He never showed strong emotion. With the depression he had fallen into, he didn't think he had any strong emotion left in him besides despair, and even before that he had been reserved. Aloof.

Alone.

He kept his back to the others, holding himself rigid to conceal his turmoil. He almost choked before giving gruff thanks to Mych, unwilling to reveal his weakness, but equally unwilling to ignore the heartfelt words of a rare friend.

"Cai, will you and Ruvn go on ahead? We will meet you at the entrance. Mych, I need you to tell the guards that we are prepared to leave."

The others left quickly, even Mych, who could have easily communicated with the other guards from inside the room. Only Alex now remained, staying behind to mock him with worried, questioning eyes. Aurel would have walked past him, but Alex bared his way with an arm and a glance. Aurel pointedly ignored him, but didn't push past, knowing that he would have to submit to a discussion.

"You look like shit Aurel."

"I'm fine."

"Cut line. You don't look fine to me," Alex said, "and I'm sure Mych would agree."

"He hasn't said anything to me."

"He worships the ground you walk on. Of course he hasn't said anything."

"Maybe Mych hasn't become all touchy-feely since he married my sister," said Aurel.

Alex grabbed Aurel and turned him to look at him. "That was beneath you."

Aurel still couldn't meet his eyes. "I know."

"I'm just concerned Aurel," Alex said, " It's not like you would've won any beauty contests before, but now you look haggard." Aurel knew it was true. He hadn't been sleeping enough, and small lines of worry had appeared around his eyes. He wasn't what he would have termed classically handsome on the best of days, but he had always considered that his blunt, leonine features suited his large frame. Ruggedly masculine was what he thought when he was being particularly generous with himself, but now he just felt drawn.

"Your sister will have me skinned if she finds out I didn't do anything to help. We both know that it isn't just recent events that have affected you like this, It's been coming on for a while now. Talk to me. Please."

It was the please that did him in. Aurel studied the toe of his shoe like it was the most important thing on earth, trying to convert his thoughts to words and finding none. It would have been novel if the matter were not so serious; he was rather known for his glib tongue. He just didn't know what to say. He searched for the words to describe what he felt. If he felt.

How do you tell your brother that you are lonely, that he had taken away the one person that made your stark life bearable? Aurel hadn't realized the magnitude of his loss at first. He was happy for her, truly. He had gone on as he always had, only gradually sinking into the depression that now consumed him. No Misha to lean on when he needed to be strong for everyone else. No Misha to be his conscience. No Misha to pretend with him. She had left pretend behind when Alexandru had swept her off her feet; beautiful blond Alex, giving her the real thing and showing him the parody his life actually was. Aurel had thrown himself into his work to make up for the lack in his life but now… He was breaking down. His political life was in danger of being assassinated as thoroughly as his friends and associates. He was at the end of his tether.

His consternation must have shown, because awareness fell over Alex's face like an eclipse. Aurel winced at the look of sudden understanding, and seethed at the thought that he was pitied. He threw off the hand that had come to rest on his shoulder and snarled, stalking out the door to meet Mychael.

Alex watched him walk away with an impotent sadness. Mates were so rare and so highly prized; everyday he thanked a God he had once denied for the love of his life. He was sure that Aurel had lost any hope he had once held for something, someone, to give him the same joy.

"Aurel, I know there is someone waiting for you."

*****

The early evening was a cool grey that blended into the harsh sea, a hint of pink and a foam of frothy white the only delineation between the water and the sky. The birds that normally circled the churning waves were curiously absent, gone to easier, safer shores. The house was stark and imposing in it's isolated splendor on the bluff, its sward of green lawn a clean contrast to its monotone elemental surroundings.

They gathered in an underground chamber, a cavern in the rocky coastline below the manor that had been modified suitably for the purpose. There were only two entrances, the narrow concrete passage that led from the main house, and the sea, a tempest of water and rock that kept most people from exploring too close. It was a discrete entrance as much as an escape, one that most of their number used.

Despite the ocean noise and the rough rock walls, or perhaps because of them, the large room was well appointed. Recessed lighting softly lit the thick, jewel toned rugs, comfortable club chairs and honey colored wood that graced the leveled floors. A bar in the corner served drinks and a buffet table held an array of gourmet canapés and more mundane foods of every description. Aurel would be the first to admit that it resembled a gentleman's club. He had planned it in detail. On more than one occasion he had been forced to suffer the hospitality of those who were less inclined towards simple creature comforts and more towards Spartan masochism.

People were still occasionally ascending the spiral stair that led down to the pool that fed into the ocean but most had already arrived. The meeting wasn't to begin for another half an hour, but everyone gathered early to cement alliances, reaffirm private agreements, and publicly snub those who displeased them, all under the pretense of mingling. Aurel silently walked through the gathering, Mychael hard and inscrutable at his side. He preferred to use this time to appraise his adversaries rather than posture, bullshit or both.

He smiled to himself. Apparently Cai was not the only one to have his language mangled by Alex's bad influence. He parted ways with them both at the door like they had arranged, intent now on sizing up the gathering.

His was a subtle lot, but almost no one could maintain a rigid guard indefinitely. Anything could betray a person's true thoughts, a shift in body temperature, a nervous hand gesture, a blink. Rhys always laughed nervously before telling an untruth. Aurel nodded at the man as he went past. Sadira always glanced to the left. Aurel bowed graciously to her before continuing his circuit of the chamber. The money he could have made if only he went into poker instead of the often unrewarding path he had chosen.

No matter how often they gathered, Aurel could never quite escape the feeling of awe he felt. It was a riveting kaleidoscope of color and culture. He idly identified a dozen languages and made a guess at over a dozen more. Farsi. Tagalog. Deutsch. Thai. No thieves' bazaar of the imagination could compare to the eclectic mix of people and costume on display. Here, a dour British professor talking to a jeweled Arabian prince; there, a Polynesian dancer in agreeable conflict with a kindly Asian monk.

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