Tetheus meditates on the nature of things.
It is night.
A peaceful darkness has fallen over Draqueen, under a sky shot through with wispy threads of clouds and a careless scattering of stars, and all is quiet except for a wind that whispers through the trees dotting the mountain landscape. This autumn wind, warm but crisp and light despite being weighted down by the gravity of time, is old, as old as the stones the castle was built from. It tastes of the salt in the sea to the north, the dust of the desert, the shimmering, sticky heat of the rainforest. Sinuously, it winds itself around the castle turrets, setting the Emperor's standard flapping and and raising the cloaks of the guards as it goes rushing down walls and over balconies, and ruffles Tetheus' hair, like it has endless times before and will continue to do into eternity. Meditation sharpens the senses, and in the quiet he feels all of it, more aware than ever of the slow press of time.
It is night, a time for rest and contemplation, and Tetheus is meditating on the nature of his blade.
A century ago, it was now, he had pledged his life and his sword, given up all he had ever known, to follow a man he barely knew but already loved in a way he had never thought possible.
He turns the sword over in his lap, drawing it from its simple sheath of black leather. Long, slender, silver and shining, inset with one large black jewel, it is a sword for protecting, for defending. Lykouleon hadn't allowed him to bring his, a rough-hewn thing hacked out in a demon forge, inside the castle. It had been ordered to the smithy to be smelted down, and Tetheus had crossed the threshold of Lykouleon's shield without a weapon at his side for the first time that he could ever remember. After he had been introduced to everybody, Lykouleon had whirled him away to the underground cave where the castle's collection of swords was stored. There, he'd placed the greatsword of the Black Officer in his hands, and Tetheus had felt it warm to his hands, humming with power.
It's a long way from where he used to be. Times were he had killed just to kill, not out of hunger or self-defence or any kind of noble concept, but just to feel the warmth splatter against his skin, and it hadn't mattered whether a blade was well-crafted or not as long as it could still slice flesh.
Fifty years, then, it has been fifty years since Kai-stern joined the Dragon Tribe. And Tetheus thinks he's changed (the Dragon Castle has a way of doing that to you; it's not just that one's ears grow pointier, but something more fundamental in the makeup), but Kai-stern doesn't seem to have been affected by the flow of time. There is still something inalterably human about him and the way he lives, as if every day still might slip away from him, and Tetheus doesn't see it changing anytime soon. Maybe he doesn't want it to. It's dangerously easy to get caught up in the trappings of immortality. Perhaps there is something to be learned from humans in this instance, and that is the importance of just living, just feeling.
Kai-stern fumbles with his cigarette, leaning shirtless against the rail. He always smokes at this time of night. Though it's a habit Tetheus has tried to encourage him to quit, Kai-stern always laughs his concern off, and Tetheus has come to accept it as one of Kai-stern's rituals that will never quite fade away. Kai-stern will always smoke after sex and sleep. Analysis is useless in this situation. He has never been able to understand why he is in love with Kai-stern when it goes against everything known about humans, demons and dragons, but he is anyway. The human psyche has never been his forte, and Kai-stern has been breaking all the rules since he came to the castle anyway so perhaps it fits.
"Are you done admiring your pretty sword yet?" Kai-stern asks, blowing perfect smoke rings that linger in the air until the wind smears them away.
"You should know by now that meditation is a key part of maintaining balance," he says, sheathing his sword and rising gracefully to his feet to pad over to Kai-stern.
Kai-stern snorts. "And did you find it, o philosopher mine?"
"These matters should not be taken lightly." His voice holds a faint tone of disapproval, but he wraps his arms around Kai-stern's waist anyway, feeling him lean back against him.
A decade. They don't act it. Their relationship is played out, the rare times both are actually at the castle, through subtle words and touches, unlike Lykouleon and Raseleane who all but glow with love, centuries after they were first married, or Ruwalk and Alfeegi who fling charged insults at each other over the breakfast table and then make up with just as much noise. It's easy enough to mistake them for no more than friends. Many have, which Tetheus admits makes it much more convenient at times. And yet, it doesn't really matter if he goes six months without seeing Kai-stern. Tetheus sees no point in fussing over it when there's nothing that can be done for it, and the time he does have with Kai-stern more than enough makes up for the long periods they are apart. It's not the stuff of love stories, but that seems to be about right for the two of them, he thinks. Kai-stern doesn't like the pomp and panoply, and Tetheus doesn't understand it.
"I'm not much for that sort of thing." Kai-stern shrugs against him.
And then there are some things he doesn't try to put a count of years on, like a laugh, or a warm kiss against a rough palm, because by the time he'd realized what was happening it was too late to start keeping tab, and touching Kai-stern tends to make thoughts of time fly out of his head, anyway.
So he concentrates on the way Kai-stern arches in his hands, and the sounds he makes when he sighs into the night air, the smooth paleness of his skin, and the cool of the wind brushing past them. There's plenty of time for everything else, after all.
DISCLAIMER: Dragon Knights belongs to Ohkami Mineko. I claim no ownership and make no profit.