Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sci Fi Sunday - Reality Check Continues

Good morning and welcome to another Sci Fi Sunday! Today we are offering you another chapter in our joint sci fi venture, entitled Reality Check. We hope you enjoy it!

Reality Check




The reception is an unqualified success. There is no doubt that I am the belle of the ball!

People have come from all over the planet just to welcome me home. And why not? I’ve been gone for four long years. I’m very pleased to see them all, even if some of them have come with what I consider to be dishonorable intentions—that is, the wooing of my baby sister. She’s too young to be thinking in terms of marriage yet. She’s barely gotten into long skirts, for crying out loud. Give her a chance to grow up first before you marry her off, Mother. What’s the rush? She has time. I’m the heir, after all. And even I am not ready to be wed.

Everyone’s very happy to see me, and I am showered with compliments and accolades and hugs. And compliments on my ensemble. I haven’t been hugged this much since I left home. I’m here to tell you this is one touchy feely planet. I’m not surprised, though. They all love me—I’m their darling crown prince. And I’m without question the most beautiful person here.

There is only one blemish that mars the beauty of my homecoming, and he’s here too, unfortunately. Orm Schlangeleben. My father’s vizier and personal adviser. I consider him no better than a wart upon my father’s hand—just about as attractive, and with a similar personality. A nastier man I never met. He has a nose large enough to bathe a small child in, and all of the charm of a sexually transmitted disease. Why my father cannot see that there is something wrong with him, I do not know. When I am king, I shall certainly dispense with the bastard’s services. Not that I am anxious for that to happen any time soon, but waiting for my father to see the truth about this man seems to be a losing proposition. I only wish he’d listen to me about him, but of course he doesn’t, for Father knows best.

The reception encompasses several of the public rooms of the palace, in order to accommodate the large number of guests that are attending. But it’s nothing that the staff can’t handle. They’re trained to do just this sort of thing—receptions, grand dinners, affairs of state. Sometimes at a moment’s notice.  Only the best for the Royal family, don’t you know? Off-world visitors may be scarcer now than they once were, but there are plenty of people that come from the other cities on-planet. Even on days when there is nothing particularly grand going on, people float in and out of the palace for other reasons—seeking to have boons granted, wishes fulfilled, quests blessed. The usual.

My parents hold court in their throne room, which doubles tonight as a ballroom. The dancing will begin here soon. I look forward to that greatly. I’ve managed to get in some dancing while away at university, but not near enough. And I miss the native dances of our people. There is something so very elegant in the movements, something so very majestic—the steps are ingrained in me from childhood, back to the days when my mother was my first dance partner. I know that I was an apt pupil. I can hear the royal orchestra playing even now. Some things never change, praise the stars.

The Blommervermogens have been the ruling family on Rhealliticzk since long before I was born. My father’s father was king, and his father before him, and so on for generations. The current reign of King Liefde and Queen K√¶rlighed has been an enlightened and popular one. My parents are a very loving and handsome couple. Luci and I have never lacked for anything, especially their love. I hope to be as blessed when it is my turn to rule, and that the people love me even half as well as them.

I feel a rumbling in my intestines, and it occurs to me that in the excitement of preparing for this event, I have neglected to eat. Well, that is easily remedied. I follow my nose in the direction of the heavenly aromas which emanate from the dining hall. Relief for my hunger is but a few steps away!

A magnificent buffet has been set up which contains some of the finest foods our world has to offer. And yes, many are my favorites, as I had anticipated.  I smile regally at everyone I meet along my path, my eyes affixed upon the feast before me. I still manage to offer them my usual blessing—the one reserved for the Royal Family. Two fingers, pointing toward my eyes, then toward the subject. This is to indicate that we are always watching out for our people. There is also a single blessing, involving but one finger, the middle one in fact, held alone and held high, to indicate the pride of the Blommervermogens. That one is my favorite.

Oh my.  I see some of the roast hens I’ve been dying for. I know these have been chosen with me in mind. The chef has prepared them just the way I like them, with the multi-colored feathers arranged like a luscious rainbow around the bird, for dipping purposes, presented with a small dish containing a piquant sauce for dipping. My mouth is already watering at the sight. I could command one of the servants to make a plate for me—all I need do is snap my fingers and say it and it will be done—but since I’m already standing here, and since I really don’t want to wait,  I think I’ll help myself, just this once, and….

Hel-lo! What the hell? Just as I reach for one of the delicate little birds, I find myself yanked unceremoniously away from the table, hand poised in mid-air.  I stumble after the interloper, one hand going automatically to my beret, which is in danger of falling from my head, the other to my skirt.   I think I’ve probably just given everyone in my immediate vicinity a quick peep at the royal jewels, as my skirt flips up for a second. Maybe two or three, even. I know, I can feel the sudden breeze upon my nether regions. There’s only me underneath, you know, in all my glory. Now I’m sure that the guests’ll be salivating for more than the food.

Damn, but Luci’s gotten strong. When did that happen? By the time I regain my balance, and manage to find some of my lost dignity, we’re already in the ballroom, and people are staring at us. What has she done to me? Is my hair out of place or what? Is my make-up gone awry? I’m torn between snapping at my sister or examining whatever damage she’s done to my appearance. I opt for the latter.

Swyddogh hastens to my side—apparently she took him by surprise as well—and I quickly take stock of my looks in the mirror he produces for my use.  I turn my head first one way, then the other, smoothing my hair back as I do so. At least my make-up isn’t smudged, as I’m not carrying my extra with me and I’d hate to return to my room to fix my face, but I will if I have to. Everything seems to be in place, luckily, and I smile at my reflection. I nod to Swyddogh and he returns the mirror to its place of concealment.

Now to find out the reason for this imposition.

“What was the meaning of that!” I expostulate, my stomach growling, lending its support to my righteous indignation. But I stop in mid-complaint as I take a good hard look at my sister. She’s wearing a long gold gown which flows all the way to the floor, and her red-gold hair is woven into delicate plaits which frame her heart-shaped face, and the pale rose hat she is wearing is incredibly cute, decorated with small blue stones which gleam as they catch the gaslight. My stomach does a back flip as I realize that I’m going to have to watch out for her, very carefully, lest she be stolen away from us. My little sister has truly grown up.

“Kay!” she whines, clutching at my arm, digging her nails into my wrist. “Stay with me, please! I don’t want to be courted. Not yet!”

“Very well,” I grumble, my dreams of food dissipating in view of the tears which threaten to mar my sister’s beauty. Some homecoming. I can’t even eat. But Luci needs me, so I can hardly complain, now can I?

At least not here and now.

“Just what is it you want me to do, Luci?” I sigh.

“Just stay with me and meet the suitors that are here to meet me. Hopefully there won’t be too many of them. You know men better than I do, brother. Look them over and help me determine which are worthy men and which are no better than Klytemnestrian saarbuckets!”

To say I am shocked by my sister’s language is an understatement, but before I get a chance to ask her where the doogle blazes she learned those words, Swyddogh is digging his elbow into my side, so I have to pause and glare at him instead.

“Your parents are beckoning, your royal highness,” he whispers discreetly, and I withdraw my anger quickly. This is one of the things that I have him around for, to keep me on my toes and to remind me of where I should be.

“Thanks, Swy.” I glance toward the thrones, where Father and Mother sit. Father does indeed have a finger crooked toward us.  “Come, Luci.” This time I’m leading her, as we hasten across the room.

And now we stand. And stand. And stand. While a parade of idiots present themselves in all their borrowed finery and ogle my sister. It’s all I can do to keep from punching each and every one in his stupid face. But I can say without hesitation that none of them are worthy of the honor of courting my beloved little sister.

It is closer to the time of the dance, now, I can feel it—the music is reverberating through my feet. We must at least find Luci a suitable partner. I have been aware for some time now that some of the locals have been included as guests for this occasion. Two of them are staring at us now, rather openly, from across the room.

There can only be one reason for that. I preen at the knowledge of my attractiveness. As they begin to move toward us, I know instinctively what their purpose is. Now the question remains, what will my answer be? Will I actually dance with one of the locals? Or shall I turn him down? I can’t help but smirk, as I debate my decision.
§§§§
“Okay Reno, remember you are here to attract her. Keep your mind on her and I think everything will be fine,” Jaou whispers in my ear as we look over the throng of people from the balcony.

“I know why we are here, Jaou,” I snipe back at him. My scent must be drifting onto the crowd, heads are beginning to turn as I knew they would. After having spent the day basking in the light of the guardian there is no way I wouldn’t be attractive even to these animals. Yet dressed up in their finery, many of them are attractive—in their own way. I nod discreetly at a few people I work with in the castle as they realize who Jaou and I are. The office of Interspecies Cooperation may be a farce as far as most people on both sides are concerned, but at least we try to keep relations smooth and communications open.

“Let’s make our way towards the throne. The Princess is there and we can make her acquaintance and our respects to the Royal Family at the same time,” Jaou suggests. It’s a good idea and although I’m reluctant, we might as well get this over with right up front. I let Jaou lead me down the stairs and we venture towards the Royal family, who are greeting the line of their guests.

I hear the orchestra playing in the distance. Oh great, dancing. I’ll probably have to dance with her. It’s not that I can’t dance, I’ve been known to be rather light on my feet, but the only female I’ve ever danced with would be my mother. I suppose dancing with her won’t be much different than dancing with anyone else, as long as it isn’t a slow dance where I’m required to hold her close. Gods, what is my mother thinking. There’s no way I can be with a woman, the very idea repulses me.
It’s started of course, the murmuring and whispering of voices as Jaou and I make our way across the floor. The crowd parts before us like water before the prow of a boat. All eyes turn to us as we approach. Even guests waiting in line to pay their respects step back and allow us to proceed before them. Actually I wouldn’t have minded waiting at the back of the line for our turn, but my brother grabs my elbow and as the others step back, he propels me forward. I keep my eyes downcast. I don’t need to make eye contact with anyone other than the Royal family. I don’t want anyone to misinterpret my glance and think that the state I’m currently in is for them.

“Well, well. The little princeling is home and all dressed up. He sure makes a pretty picture, too bad he doesn’t have a brain behind all that plumage,” Jaou whispers for my ears only. At the foot of the dais, I take a deep breath and finally raise my eyes, locking them not on the Princess, but the Prince. Jaou wasn’t kidding, he is quite attractive and I can see that he’s completely aware of his beauty. Having chosen white, he stands out not only from the crowd but from every other guest in the hall. To my amazed eyes, none look more beautiful. Unfortunately I’m not for him. He—even though he is rather conceited—would’ve been far preferable to the young woman at his side.

She’s a beautiful young woman, to be sure. Her golden gown sets off her appearance quite regally, her long red tresses have been arranged beautifully. Were it not for her brother, and my predilections for men, she would be the belle of the ball.

“Isn’t she beautiful, brother?” Jaou whispers as we wait for the two men before us to speak their piece. My brother should have been mother’s choice for this pretty princess, as he does prefer females, unlike me. So why me, I can’t help but wonder again.

“I suppose so,” I whisper back, barely able to glance at her, after dragging my eyes away from the Princeling. Then it’s our turn. Jaou, being my second speaks for me. We bow in synch with one another and with all the grace our father has taught us.

“Greetings King Liefde and Queen Kaerlighed, from the court of the First Mother Fatinalalinalea Sameeleon. I am the first son, Jaouseptanetah Sameeleon and this is my brother and third son, Renophoatien Sameeleon. At your service.” Jaou formally greets them. “We are here to celebrate your son’s return and to request that my brother be given formal permission to pay court to your daughter.”

to be continued

What do  you think of the story so far? Any comments, or suggestions? We'd love to hear from you!


Until next time, take care!


♥ Julie and Sui

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Elements of Love 1 - Adel's Purr - Releases Today

Greetings Loved Ones,
Well today’s the day! The first book in my Elements of Love series, Adel’s Purr is available for purchase. It is a paranormal love story between Evan Halvard, a young stonemason and a gargoyle, Adel.

Of course nothing is that pure and simple, here is the promotional summary of the book.


Evan Halvard is a stone mason, like his father before him. In a world recovering from a war that swept humanity to the brink, Evan struggles to learn about and control a power he knows nothing about. He can create and awaken ‘living stone’, gargoyles. When he receives a message from his contacts that a large gargoyle is about to be destroyed by the Church, Evan rushes to save it.


Adel has been asleep for centuries; this century -- with its mechanical devices and human beings set on their own destruction -- holds no interest for him. Yet, through the haze of his hibernation, he hears a voice calling to him, needing him. When he awakens, he is restrained by those he is sworn to protect. Fighting does him no good, and he is about to close his eyes on a world that no longer wants him, when he hears that voice calling again. Calming, soothing, it draws him forth, softening his stone heart like no other ever has.   Between the evil that hunts Evan and the Church that wants Adel destroyed, will the two be able to find love, wrapped up in Adel's Purr?


I’ve been so excited about this release. Evan and Adel are one of my favorite pairs of lovers, that I’ve had the privilege of writing about. I know I talk about them as if they were true to life people, but to me sometimes characters actually take on a life of their own and Evan and Adel did that for me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed writing about them.


Here is an excerpt from the book:

Gargoyle Lore

As written by the scribes and entombed in the Church Archives:
1) Carved from a single piece of natural stone. Can not be made of stone composite, or molded. Their original form is carved. Their spirit is called to life by an Earth Elemental they call their Maker. They become living stone: stone by day and living, breathing flesh and blood by night.
****
May 14, 2215 - just before sunset...

The modern-day equivalent of a hermit, Evan Halvard lived by himself on a couple acres of forested land in the mountains, far enough away from civilization so people couldn't bother him. He liked to tell his friends he lived close enough to town to do business easily, yet far enough up in the mountains that people had to be determined in order to find him. The arrangement served him well, keeping most of the unwanted interruptions away and gave him a modicum of privacy.

Spring felt cool this year up in the mountains, but as Evan stood in his garden tilling the soil, nature spoke to him of green and growing things. Winter's last bite of the season had come and gone. The tender seeds he planted would flourish. Most people would find the soil cold and painful, but Evan loved the feeling of the earth beneath his feet and between his toes. He'd told his father many times how, if he stood barefoot in the soil the ground would speak to him, but no matter how many times Evan's father had humored him, Evan seemed to be the only one who heard the earth whispering.

Evan stood and rested an arm on his hoe, smiling to himself as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a large leather hair tie. He pulled back his unruly dark brown dreadlocks and tied them out of the way at the back of his neck. He pulled off his T-shirt and wiped it across his face and the back of his neck, absorbing the sheen of sweat forming on his light mocha skin. Evan worked as a stonemason and was accustomed to physical labor--repairing walls, laying brick, and pretty much anything that dealt with rock. But standing in the last rays of the setting sun, bent over a hoe prepping the soil for seeds didn't count as work but was a labor of love.

Evan smiled as he thought of how his adoptive father, Peter Stein, would've scolded him for doing what he considered women's work. He'd been taken in by the Steins when he was very young, but they loved him as if he were their own. To his father, men were hunters and women were supposed to tend to the plants. Evan couldn't help his love of nature. He loved caring for green things almost as much as he loved his stonework. Spring, his favorite time of year, simply spoke of awakenings, beginnings, and plantings. Since he'd no intentions of ever marrying a woman--as he'd discovered long ago he was not attracted to females--he had to do his own planting, which he openly told all who asked. Truthfully, the green-things around him were connections to the earth and they gave him a sense of peace and security he felt from nothing else. The earth's awakening, as the frost of winter receded and things came back from that the death-like sleep, gave new life to Evan as well.

Evan watched the sun drop down below the tree covered horizon, and as the last rays of direct sunlight disappeared into dusk, he felt the familiar tingle at his throat as his closest friend awoke. He reached up and stroked the stone necklace, which put a smile on his face as the cool spring air washed over him. A tiny rumbling purr began against his collarbone.

"Evening, Cela." Evan felt the little dragon unwrap himself from around his neck, stretch, and coo merrily.

Evan stretched work stiffened muscles, his friends awakened, like Cela, and he could feel their approach as they made their way from their various daytime perches to venture out into the night. He always knew when there were gargoyles about, even during the daytime. He could easily distinguish between living stone and statues. He'd been fifteen and an apprentice to his father the first time it happened: he'd discovered Cela. Well, he hadn't really discovered Cela; Evan had awoken the dragon. He'd unknowingly called to the gargoyle's sleeping soul, bequeathed to the statue by the artist who'd sculpted the dragon. And so, Evan had given the statue life, awakening the gargoyle as living stone.

* * * *
Ten years before...

"Hey Dad, what's that?" Evan asked.

"What's what?" Peter replied, looking at his son, then following his gaze. "Oh, you mean the dragon statue. That's a gargoyle, a guardian, and a pretty small one at that. They used to adorn many structures. Our ancestors believed they'd guard our souls from the evil in the night. You don't see them much anymore. The hunters from the Abbey, under orders from the Bishop's Service and their deputies, smashed most of them. I guess it's so small, they must've overlooked that one." Peter looked at the little gargoyle.

"What a beautiful dragon."

"Yeah, and dangerous, just like their mythical counterparts. Just having statues like gargoyles on our property could bring the Inquisition to our door. They believe gargoyles depict mankind's violent nature and are proof of his inherent evil. They believe they represent evil, or in the worst cases, are personifications of the Devil."

"But Dad, how can anything so beautiful be evil?" Evan asked.

"Sorry, son, I never did understand their logic. I just know not to question the Church. Few survive the Inquisition, and those who do are never the same. Come on, let's get to work." Peter and Evan went back to working on the crumbling stonework walls, repairing the damage done by time and nature.

"Dad?"

"What?"

"What are gargoyles like?"

Peter smiled at his son. Evan was always inquisitive and a little thing like the Church disliking something was incentive for him to ask questions. "Well, let me see. My father used to tell tales of gargoyles, before the war. Before modernization, gargoyles were the nighttime protectors of the people. They kept people safe from evil."

"Really? Were they super strong and super fast?" Evan asked.

Peter chuckled. "Not that I remember him ever saying. They could fly, though. They could sleep for years in hibernation and then when called at night, would awaken and protect the people."

"Are they born?"

"No. Gargoyles are carved by artisans, like all statues. But there are special people in the world who have extraordinary powers. They are known as Elementals. Only a specific type of person can call the spirit to life and change a carved statue into living stone. Only Elementals can make the statue into a gargoyle."

"That's so cool! Do you know any Elementals?"

"Maybe... hand me the mortar." Peter held out his left hand so his son could pass him the bucket. "Get the supports ready."

"Okay. Can they be killed?"

"Can who be killed?" Peter asked, studying the rock wall before him as he plastered cracks in the mortar. Evan shored up the broken wall getting it ready for repair.

"Gargoyles."

"They are immortal, but they can be killed. If the stone form is broken, then they can never awaken again. That's how the Church eliminated most of them, destroying them while they were vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. They can also be killed when they are flesh and blood, at night." Peter moved over to where Evan had finished bracing the wall and had begun to add new rocks, placing them and then mortaring them into position. "Good... good. Keep at it. I'm going around to work on the other side."

"So they don't run around as hard rock, but they move at night?"

"Not from what your grandfather said. They turn to regular flesh and blood at night. They hunt and eat, just like any other beast, although he did say that some of the older ones could talk. But I've never seen any larger than the little dragon you found earlier."

Peter stood and stretched. As father and son completed their work, the sun set over the horizon, leaving everything bathed in the half-shadow world of twilight.

"Come on, Evan. Let's get home before it gets too dark." Peter patted his son on the shoulder and grinned. "Your mom will have dinner ready and waiting for us."

"Okay, sounds good." Evan replied, a little distracted. "Dad, can I go check out the dragon statue? It'd be a real shame if something so small and fragile were damaged." Evan frowned, thinking in horror of someone intentionally smashing the little statue.

"Sure, go on. No one's around and I don't think anyone here'll report you for being interested in a gargoyle. Just keep the thing to yourself. I don't want to know what you do with it. I'm going to the truck. I know nothing." Peter smiled warmly at his son.

"Thanks, Dad." Evan took off at a run to find the little gargoyle statue before his father changed his mind. He found the mausoleum easily; there was only the one crypt in the small cemetery. He looked up to where the gargoyle should've been perched, but the spot was now empty. No dragon roosting over the door.

"I could've sworn--" Evan mumbled to himself, looking around to see if he'd somehow gotten the location wrong. No, the gargoyle had to be here. Evan walked around the perimeter of the crypt, looking for the little statue.

What could've happened to it? Evan thought. He and his dad were the only ones in the cemetery. Then he caught sight of a reddish glimmer, high up in a nearby tree. Evan frowned and looked a bit closer. The glimmer blinked and the red glow flashed.

"It's okay, I won't hurt you. Come on, you can't stay here, you're not safe." Evan spoke softly, trying to coax the little creature from the tree. "Come on, little one, dad's waiting for us." Evan extended his hands to the small gargoyle. "My name's Evan Halvard. Dad says my name means rock defender, in the old language. Come on now, I won't hurt you." Evan crooned and babbled, remembering being told animals didn't understand what you said but your tone of voice could either soothe or incite them. He'd no idea if the same applied to creatures of living stone.
Evan heard a couple of cheeps and whistles, which sounded vaguely bird-like, and the little gargoyle appeared, hanging on the central bark of the tree.

"There you are! Aren't you cute? Come on down. We have to go home. You can't stay here. There's no one to protect you."

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this piece of Adel’s Purr.
Wishing you Love and Butterflies,
Sui Lynn~~

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Angel Thursday

I think it's only fair if we have the bad boy's on Tuesday to follow it up with the angel's on Thursday's So here are some of my favorite boys with wings. Doesn't mean they are all sweet... Okay they all look hot as hell! I've also added  couple of my favorite Artistic Boy's with Wings.  Enjoy!







Aren't they yummy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Welcome to Sci Fi Sunday!

It's Sci Fi Sunday and that means it's time for Reality Check!
This is a free story that July Lynn Hayes and myself, Sui Lynn, are working on. We hope you enjoy it as we've been having a blast putting it together. So check us out on Sundays for the next update to the M/M Sci Fi Romance. We give you the second installment of chapter one:

Reality Check 


Chapter One - 07/17/11



So much seems to have changed since I took my leave of Rhealliticzk four years ago. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but it’s different. And not in a good way.

The shuttle that brought me down from the spaceliner was cramped and vile and it stank to the heavens of something very earthy and very offensive. The gods alone know what was last crammed into that tight space before I was. I’m not even sure I want to know. I would hardly even deign to allow that thing the designation of shuttle—it was more like a capsule of doom. I’m grateful that it didn’t burn up on entry into the planet’s atmosphere.

And talk about a faulty guidance system! Instead of taking me to the royal reception area, where my loved ones awaited my arrival, I found myself outside of the very city limits of New Harmony itself. I would have commandeered a horse and carriage to take me home, was I able to find one. But these natives have a propensity for making themselves scarce just when you find a use for them. Terribly inconvenient of them, to say the least.

So we walked! I can scare believe it, but I actually had to walk the vast distance into the city, miles and miles and miles of hard road, all the way to the Palace. Swyddogh offered to carry me part of the way, and I actually considered his offer, but decided it would not do. No dignity in the crown prince being carried like an infant, or a sack of rotten grindershoots being taken out for disposal. Definite lack of dignity and all that.

I am so happy to be back in my own room. That, at least, has remained the same. On my entry to the palace, I hasten there, deciding that I have to take care of my needs first, I can meet my parents later, and for that purpose I send for a basin of warm water, instructing that it be infused with specific scented oils. My feet are soaking in it now. I’m sitting at the end of my bed, wiggling my toes, as blessed relief steals through me.

A rustle of fabric, a slight scent of wildflowers, the sound of a hurried step. All my senses are now attuned toward the door and the figure that has so blithely entered my room without bothering to knock, or even allowing me the chance to give permission to enter my sanctuary, which is most unmannerly. Swyddogh’s hand goes to his weapon automatically—even here in the palace, one must be careful. Four years abroad has definitely taught me that much. But when I see who my visitor is, I wave to him to stand down as she is definitely not a threat.

“Liusaidh!” I cry out in delight, careful not to use the abhorred form of Lulu and mentally patting my back at my ability to remember that. I hold my arms out in welcome. I can’t move to greet her for obvious reasons, so naturally she must come to me. “How is my darling little sister?”

Little is what she isn’t, I discover, as she glides toward the bed—my goodness, where did she learn to move like that, it’s so… so adult. Yes, she’s in full length skirts now, the short skirts of childhood gone forever. Her hair is a lot longer than I remember, and it’s done in some intricate fashion, a flower tucked behind each ear. While her dark purple skirt is loose and flowing, her jacket fits her more closely, as is the custom among the women of our society. Not the native population, of course, they are practically heathens.

What’s this I see in her ear? Is that an earring? She’s gotten a piercing? My goodness, things have certainly changed. Not that I’m surprised that our parents have allowed that. They are very liberal spirits, I know. I got my first one when I was younger than she. I’ve been debating getting one in my private regions, but so far I haven’t managed to come to a decision regarding that.

She hikes up her skirts when she reaches me and before I can say yea or nay, she clambers over my footbath and straddles my lap, and then she throws her arms around me and begins to wail. Right beside my ear, no less! She has quite the pair of lungs for a young lady. I wince as I attempt to hold her to a more tolerable decibel level.

“What on earth is wrong?” I attempt to soothe her, rubbing her back in small circles, making clucking noises, murmuring her name—everything I can think of to do to calm a lady in distress. Something I have little experience with, I might add, other than with the members of my own family. She presses her forehead against mine, her blue eyes looking deeply disturbed and dangerously dewy.

“They want to marry me off, Kay! They’re deciding on my Fate even as we speak, brother!”

“They? Who are they?” I’m only asking to get her to focus, because the answer to the question is obvious. 
Our parents, who else?

She doesn’t dignify my stupidity with an answer.

“Tonight there will be men who will be looking at me like I’m some sort of a prize to compete for. You know the look I mean.”

Not really, but I let that pass.

“Don’t you want to get married?” I’m trying to be diplomatic and help her to see the practicality of the matter. Mostly I want her to calm down and quit bouncing on me. It’s not very pleasant.

“I do, Kay, I do! But only after I fall in love. You do believe in love, don’t you, brother?” Her sniffling lessens a bit, which is a good sign. She takes my face in her hands and continues the ocular exploration. “Don’t you want to find the perfect man for you? And not settle for anyone less?”

Well, of course. But it isn’t that easy, not when you’re a prince. I’m actually lucky that I haven’t been married off already, seeing as I’m the heir to the throne and all that. I’m also pretty damn lucky that my parents aren’t the pushy sort or I would be by now.

“You know they love you, right?”

“Yes,” she whimpers, rubbing her cheek against mine. I shift my feet in the tub; damn water’s getting cold.

“Then trust them. Besides, it takes a while for those negotiations to take place. It doesn’t happen overnight. So, let’s just enjoy the reception and have some fun, Luci?” The new nickname has slipped out, but she doesn’t object. So Luci it is. “I tell you what, you point out the suitors that offend you and I’ll make them feel so ridiculous they’ll never dare to bring up the subject of marriage with you ever again!”

Liusaidh giggles and I relax. The crisis is over. At least for now. I hold her a little longer, but I’m already thinking ahead to the reception, and what I intend to wear.

After my sister leaves to attend to her toilette, I begin my own. I look through every item in my wardrobe twice. My bed is piled high with the discards that I have deemed not good enough and I’m getting damned aggravated. If I had time, I’d go shopping, but I don’t. Good thing I picked up a few things off-planet, even if I didn’t get the chance to wear them there. I’ll make up for that now.

I finally settle on white, because I look good in it. Okay, I look good in every color, but I have to choose something, so white it is tonight. A satin skirt, with a royal blue lining. The skirt is longer in back than in front, which becomes a showcase for my legs. Did I mention that I have nice legs? I select a lovely pair of silver sandals for my poor sore feet, which I lace up my legs.

I choose my jacket to match the lining—double breasted with silver buttons. However, I leave it unbuttoned, the better to show off my gold belt, from which my ruby encrusted dagger hangs. I have no idea how to use it, but it flashes prettily in the sun. And it makes me look good.

Okay, now for the adornment. I sort through my jewelry critically—if I wear too much, I’ll come off as some sort of cheap doxy, too little and I’ll appear to be poor and that won’t do at all. I settle on two bracelets on each arm, of assorted jewels. One ring on each hand. A sapphire stud in my ear. And a matching sapphire necklace with the royal emblem emblazoned on it.

Makeup for tonight consists of midnight blue eyeliner, and I outline my lips in pale coral. Just enough to whet the appetite. Atop my head, I wear a black beret. I cock it at a jaunty angle, admiring myself in the mirror which Swyddogh holds. I am so very beautiful and I know it.

Time to meet my adoring public! Though the heavens alone know whom my parents have put on the guest list. They have a propensity to be strange sometimes. It wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the locals there. The wealthier ones, anyway. For balance or something. And because some of them work for us.

I have to make a grand entrance, of course. The reception is being held in the palace, for convenience sake.  Where else? I decide to arrive fashionably late, ignoring the dozen or so times my sister knocks at my door demanding to know if I am ready or not. I tell her to go on ahead, I’ll be there.
I know what I’m doing.

Finally, when I’ve decided that I’ve pushed the outer limits of etiquette and propriety to the limit, I nod to Swyddogh.  He goes ahead of me to tell the royal hooterers to do their thing. And as they trumpet the news to the assemblage, I begin my descent down the long curved staircase which will take me into the Grand 
Foyer, and thence to the Grand Ballroom.

I smile to myself at the knowledge that I am indeed the fairest one of them all.

§§§§§

The guardian is well past zenith when I decide I’ve basked in the glory long enough to put some color into my hair. It will have to be enough because I’ve certainly preened enough for one day. My father appears with a mirror as I begin to get ready to leave the gardens. I push past him without even glancing at the glass. As if I really care what I look like. This is all in preparation for a girl of all things! I’m being made to preen for a female! I can’t believe this horrendous turn of events. My only consolation will be that where there are eligible females, there will most certainly be males, and maybe some in similar circumstances to my own. Which will mean as long as the Princess doesn’t find me acceptable, there might be a male who will.

Those thoughts improve my spirits markedly. Now I have to come up with a way to put off the little poppet without being too obvious and getting my mother insulted. Not an easy thing to do. My first thought is to dress as casually as possible, but as I enter my room, I find that clothes have already been laid out for me. It’s a rather complicated mess of material and cinches in the human style, very fashionable from what I’ve seen of late at the castle. If it were any other occasion, I’d be thrilled to receive such a garment. I sigh, looking down at it in complete resignation.  I’ll have to think of something else.

I head for the bathing rooms. The cool scented waters will soothe my mood at the very least. As I enter, I see Jaou relaxing in his recuperative bath and I smile. The guardian was kind and his color is good and strong. There are even a few streaks of gold and red in his hair, Jaou would be in good form to attend the reception if I can convince him to come with me.

“Jaou, I am happy to see you, brother.” I walk over and give him a warm hug. Even if he is denied the chance to attend at my side, I am still very fond of Jaou. It has upset me more than I care to think that he’s gotten ill in the wastes. People don’t always recover from visits to the wastes. “How are you feeling?”

“Much better. The waste is growing at a phenomenal rate. I truly fear for the sentinel trees. So many of them are sickening.” Jaou’s eyes are clearly troubled with what he has seen.

“I must admit I’m concerned greatly, brother. But I’m more concerned for your health. I was very worried when Father told me you’d gone to check on the trees. The waste is no place for any Rhealliticzkian to be. You are lucky the guardian has been able to restore your health.”

“Please, Reno. I know my limits. I’m fine. Just a bit tired, and the guardian has fed my spirit. Heck, there are more colors in my hair today than I’ve carried since my blooming ceremony on my fifteenth birthday.” Jaou chuckles and watches as I add scented oils to the water and then pour some of the scented oils into Jaou’s recuperative bath.

“You do look quite attractive, my brother. You should come with me to the reception tonight, we’d make quite a sight. Besides, I haven’t gotten to spend any time with you lately and a party would be enjoyable with you at my side.” I ease into the bath. The cool soothing waters feel very refreshing after sunbathing in the guardian’s light for most of the day.

“I don’t know. I think you’ll be outshining all tonight my brother. You look… radiantly beautiful.” Jaou grins at me, rather smugly. “You’re sure to be able to have whatever belle you want tonight.”

“You know I’m not interested in any of the belles. I’m much more into beaus.” I laugh and splash water from my pool at my brother, who returns the favor and splashes back.

“Well, from what Mother has planned, you’d better be ready to entertain at least one belle at that party,” Jaou teases.

“Ugh… don’t remind me. The Princess of all people. I’m not even sure my pheromones will attract a female.”

“Well, if your pheromones don’t, you definitely look pretty enough, brother. Have you looked into the mirror? Your hair is full of blooming colors. The emerald green under-layer is there, but brother, I’ve never seen anyone with royal blue tones amongst the reds and golds. Your entire countenance is one of jewel tones. Mother will be pleased.”

“At least someone will.”

“Fine, I’ll go with you. Just quit pouting.” My brother laughs. “You’ll need a bodyguard with those colors proclaiming your intention to attract a companion.” Jaou steps out of the bathing pool. “The guardian hasn’t set yet. I’ll go sit in the gardens for a while and then join you in your rooms. The extra time I spend in basking will give me a bit more color and then you can help me choose an outfit for this party.”

“Thank you so much Jaou, you won’t regret this.”

“Then why am I already regretting it?” Jaou leaves the bathing room chuckling, leaving me to my musings and soaking.

Father enters the bathing room some time after Jaou has gone; he sits at the door.

“I don’t know if I can do this, Father.”

“We all do what we must. You will do no less, my son. I must say though, even if you are unsure, you look exceedingly beautiful.”

I stand and step from the pool; regardless of the task ahead, I do feel marvelous. I let the waters sluice down my body, the shiny deep viridian green of my skin surprises even me. My father hands me a towel and I pat myself dry. Glancing down, I notice the vibrant gold and royal blue of the petals that cover my sensitive pistils at the base of my cock. Even at rest with no others to attract, the colors practically thrum. Sorry buddy, you aren’t going to be getting the kind of attention you usually look for tonight, I think to myself and sigh, heading back to my room.

I begin to dress in the outfit my mother has procured for this event. I have to admit it’s quite exquisite, a caramel and red affair. Very dignified and pleasant, not ostentatious as much of the current fashion tends to be at the court. The shirt is a ruby red silk mesh that allows my skin to breathe and the viridian color to show through slightly. The kilt is a brushed linen pleated caramel with ruby threads embroidered throughout in the pattern of trees and leaves. It’s secured with onyx ties and buttons at my side. The jacket continues the theme, being brushed caramel with red embroidery and black buttons. If needed I can easily button the jacket if but I’ve decided to leave it open, as the evening is quite warm.

I eye my reflection critically in the mirror, pulling on the ruffled sleeves of my ruby shirt so they puff about my wrists. I secure the tight jacket cuffs with the onyx buttons, making the jacket swell a bit about my biceps. I look over at my dresser and choose a simple choker of amber, onyx and ruby beads for around my throat, while adding golden caps to my pointed ears, letting the onyx and amber beads dangling on golden threads cascade to the lobes. The kilt was a bit short for my taste, barely reaching halfway down my thighs in front but more than making up for it by hanging below my knees in the back. I secure a black leather belt with a black pouch with a golden clasp at my waist. I feel naked without my knife but as I am dressed to attract a companion, a weapon at my waist would be considered improper and could offend the royal household. Lastly I step into the offensive footwear mother has set out with the outfit. Usually I don’t have to wear shoes, not even at work, but for this formal reception they’ll be mandatory. Luckily they are just a light tan pair of sandals. I slide my foot into the leather and a ring wraps around my first toe. I tie the leather stays about my ankles to keep them from falling off.

I admire my reflection for a moment. I have to admit, I do look good. I pull my long hair back from my face and secure the long straight locks with a black band in what the humans call a ponytail. Having seen an actual pony’s tail, the reference is rather absurd in comparison to my multicolored hair in blues, reds, golds and emerald green, cascading from the top of my head to midway down my back. I can’t prevent my sigh of frustration as Jaou walks into my room. He’s dressed similarly, but his outfit of black and green only makes him appear pale.

“Are you sure you feel well enough to attend this farce?”

“Yes and knock it off, anyone would appear pale standing next to you tonight, my brother.”

“Mother got you a new outfit as well I see.” I mumble, stalling of course.

“Yes, it seems she assumed I would be the one to accompany you. Come on. Mother has had the horses called for and we need to go lest we be late.”

“Fine, let’s get this show on the road,” I grumble. Jaou pats me on the back and we walk out to face Mother’s inspection.

“You both look stunning. Reno, you will be the most beautiful man at the feast. Just remember why you are there. Attract the Princess and sweep her off her feet. I know you can do it, my beautiful son.”

“Yes, Mother,” I agree, even while my heart sinks.

She reaches up to my hair and pulls some of the emerald and blue strands loose to hang about my face. “Blue, I’d never have guessed you would bloom in royal blue,” she whispers, then turns to eye my brother critically.

“Come on Reno, let’s go.” Jaou grabs my bicep and pulls me out of the house to the black horses waiting for us. Sighing, I pull the back of the kilt between my legs and climb onto the rough woven cloth of the saddle. The two of us chirrup softly to the horses, turning their heads towards the palace.

The ride to the palace is thankfully short. Much longer and I’d have been wishing Mother would’ve called us a carriage. We enter the foyer and the footman announces our arrival to the throng of revelers as we enter.
Let the charade begin.