I didn’t have much of any time this week to write, but there are events that happen which can be reflected in the Realm. For example, some time ago, our water heater broke… at about the worst moment possible…
Sometimes such things can inspire a story from a dear friend…
There are times when life is difficult. Those times can last longer than we ever want them too. And that can even go for the Queen. So, it is not uncommon that every so often one just needs to …
“So … this will work, won’t it?” she said to the figure in front of her.
The stranger sighed. “Please remember, you came looking for something like this. I just provided it. So, yes, it will work exactly as you want. But remember, do not turn it until after Tera has left. You risk a very great deal indeed if she is still in the room.”
“Ok … got it. I mean, it shouldn’t be too hard, right?”
“Only for you, if you make a mistake.” “And you already have,” the figure thought.
A few days later:
Dawn in the Realm …
It is like dawn anywhere else to the beings that go through it day after day. It begins with darkness and very slowly, sometimes too slowly to notice, it becomes light. Again, for Realm residents as with most people, dawn is a time for waking from a form of sleep to a new day, facing new things and, sometimes, ongoing things, things that you would rather trade sleep for.
In the Palace of the Realm, at one of its taller points, dawn peeked in through the windows of the Queen’s chambers. Tera had wisely made sure that the sun wouldn’t peek in and hit her and her Eternal in the face as a morning wake-up. Still, the room slowly filled with the soft light of the dawning sun, and, slowly, it was enough to stir Tera and her Eternal, Keith, from their sleep.
Waking up was probably one of the very few things the Queen didn’t do gracefully. Keith was right beside her in this—especially of late, with the challenges and burdens that they had needed to deal with, some of which were still ongoing. Because of this, getting to sleep was difficult and, once there, it wasn’t something either of them wanted to give up too easily. A soft moan escaped Tera’s lips, followed shortly by a faint grunt from Keith. Both of them held each other just a bit tighter in anticipation of the coming day, taking a few last moments before life intruded.
“Time to get up,” Keith said quietly with his eyes closed.
“Mmmmm … must we?” Tera grumbled slightly.
“Yes, afraid so, my dear.” He squeezed her a bit tighter.
There was a soft knock on the door, as if life was confirming what Keith had already said. Both finally surrendered and opened their eyes to look at each other … both with a look of sleepy resignation. Keith slowly and reluctantly untangled himself from Tera’s arms and got out of bed. He slipped on a long, comfortable robe and headed for the door. Tera slowly sat up and slipped her feet into a pair of slippers by the side of her bed—red, naturally.
Keith opened the door and found two roses pinned to it. He looked around but could only hear the sound of footfalls fading down the hall. He gently pulled the flowers from the door, finding no note or anything to say who had left them. Closing the door behind him, he smiled as he saw Tera rise slowly from the bed. Then he waved the roses in front of her.
“I think we have an admirer,” he said lightly.
“Mmmm … then they should drop things off in the afternoon or evening,” Tera muttered, her voice mixing the grogginess of being tired with her usually snap.
Keith walked over and wrapped her in his arms for a moment, feeling her arms enfold him, as well. For a moment, they just stood there taking the strength from each other as they had for so long, both needing it more than they could put into words.
Finally, Tera looked up and managed a smile, “Shower first, and then I will need my coffee.”
Keith knew better than to get in Tera’s way when it came to waking up, “I’m sure we’ll have some here by the time you get out. Rachel never let us down yet.”
“Mmmm … better not,” Tera’s voice mock-threatened.
She started slinking toward the shower and Keith couldn’t help but smile as her tail came more alive with each step. It was always a pleasure to watch his Eternal come to life to meet each day. As she disappeared into the bathroom, Keith moved to the dresser and closet and began to pick out his clothes for the day. Once or twice his tail would snap a bit if he was unsure about which piece to pull out. It was, after all, important to looks his best as Tera’s King.
Dimly, he noted the sound of the water coming on in the bathroom shower and a faint wisp of steam a moment later. After all, it was a surprise to no one that succubi like a hot shower, and Tera was no different. He smiled, remembering some fond memories of them in the shower and turned back to choose his jacket for the day, wondering when Rachel would be around with the coffee. He could use some himself to be honest.
Keith, being an incubi, was not surprised easily or quickly. Things that went bump in the night were some of his best friends. But the sudden, glass-shattering scream of his Eternal from the bathroom made him almost jump out of his skin.
Tera’s scream was so loud that it echoed out from the balcony and out over both the Succubi Realm and the human realm. The human she called her heart peeked over the fence wondering what could have caused such a loud cry. Alei paused mid-flight to be sure she had heard what she thought she had. Several of the Queen’s sisters cocked their heads, thinking they must have misheard the sound, because Her Majesty simply didn’t scream like that.
His surprise lasting only a second, Keith dropped the jacket, spun around, and started a full-on run into the bathroom. He made it there in less than a second and vaguely noted the lack of steam in the room. To his relief, Tera was standing there, but he had rarely seen her so out of sorts. She was standing just outside the shower, naked and soaking wet, a large towel pressed to her body, not out of any form of modesty but out of need, it seemed. She was shivering all over her body and even her tail vibrated as if it were a tuning fork.
“Tera … what happened? Are you all right?” Keith said, running to her.
His Eternal gave him a look that he had rarely had directed at him. It was a look that basically said, “Are you kidding me?” “Do I LOOK all right?” she growled.
The King tried to hold back a smile. He knew she was upset, but whatever happened hadn’t been serious in the sense that harm had come to her. He quickly went over and embraced her and immediately realized the problem: she was ice cold. “Tera … your freezing! What happened?” he asked as he grabbed another thick towel and wrapped it around her tightly.
Tera, still shivering, accepted the towel and the embrace of her Eternal gratefully and quickly snuggled against him for warmth and comfort, “I was taking a shower. It was fine … hot and everything and then the … the water just went like ice.”
With that comment Keith became aware of the lack of steam in the bathroom and the fact the water was still running in the shower. He reached over and put a hand in and touched the water. It could only have been colder if it had been dripping off an icicle. “What in the Realm?” he muttered. This sort of thing simply didn’t happen in their world, and especially not in the palace. How had the water gotten so cold?
There was a loud knock at the bedroom door and they looked at each other in puzzlement. Keith grabbed another towel and wrapped Tera as best he could. He then grabbed her robe from a nearby hook and wrapped that around her, too. Normally he would simply wouldn’t have answered but, if it was Rachel with the coffee, it could only help warm Tera back up.
Tera didn’t need to be told what Keith was doing. She simply nodded that the worse was past, though Keith could tell she was still cold. Wishing he could split in two, Keith turned and headed for the door. This was becoming a very busy morning.
A second later he opened it. He wasn’t surprised to see Rachel there, deftly holding a small tray of coffee and fruit with one hand. What WAS surprising was that she had a very disgusted expression on her face. Not to mention the fact that she was not alone. Standing beside her, looking more than a little contrite, was Cassie.
“Keith, is Tera all right? I heard her scream. I think the whole Realm did. Is she ok?” Rachel asked.
Keith looked back toward the bathroom and winced, but managed a smile, too. “Yes … she was taking a shower and the water went ice cold. She … well, she didn’t react well.”
Neither did Rachel at the news. She glared daggers at Cassie, and Cassie in turn started getting a bit paler.
Cassie had always had a crush on Keith and had more than once tried to tease him into erotic adventures. He had politely and playfully managed to rebuff her and Tera, for her part, had been amused over all of it because she knew where Keith’s heart lay—Cassie would have a better chance turning the moon to cheese. Though more than once Cassie had succeeded, it had always been because both Keith and Tera had allowed it. After all, if the chaser doesn’t get a victory every once in a while, they may stop. Neither Tera nor Keith wanted to miss all that fun.
But given the sheer disgust that was being thrown Cassie’s way by Rachel, it was painfully obvious something was wrong. Cassie, usually so playfully flirty, looked like she was about to be paddled rather hard by the principal. “Here is yours and Tera’s coffee, Keith; I am sure she needs it. And I am also sure that Cassie has something important to tell you both. You see, I was bringing your breakfast and I saw Little Miss Flirt here coming out from one of the panels in the back wall about five seconds after Tera screamed.”
Keith’s eyes opened wide. This was unusual. Cassie may have been playful, but she wasn’t mean or vindictive. Besides, access to the water in the palace wasn’t something most people knew about, anyway. “Cassie … what did you do?” he asked, mystified.
“THAT is what I would like to know!” Tera’s voice answered from the bathroom. She was bundled up in a robe and several towels, clearly warmer but still feeling a bit of the chill from her ice shower. Keith noted that, while Tera usually kept her feelings internalized except for a choice few, at this moment her annoyance was very clear to everyone.
As the source of her annoyance, Cassie visibly gulped.
“Ah … well … I ah … Tera, I’m sorry. I was just planning on giving Keith the Ice bath after you left … it wasn’t meant for you! I thought I heard you walk out of the room! So, I turned off the hot water. I figured Keith would be freezing and …”
Tera sighed in weary understanding, “… and you would knock on the door and have some fun since he would need someone to warm him up and I would be gone, hmmm?”
Cassie gulped again, “Yeah … but I would swear you had left. I never would have done that to you.”
Tera snatched a cup of coffee and downed it quickly, savoring the caffeine and the warmth. Keith was very glad the look she was aiming at Cassie right now was not aimed at HIM.
“Rachel, thank you so much for the coffee. Your timing is perfect, as always. If you wouldn’t mind, I’ll talk to Cassie and catch up with you later. Can you handle some of the needs around here without me for a bit?”
Rachel looked over at Cassie and smiled, wondering what Tera had in mind, “Not at all, Your Majesty. Please let me know if I can help in any way.” She set the tray down and gave Tera a quick hug and kiss before slipping out. Keith didn’t miss the slight shiver she gave when she touched Tera’s still slightly cold and slightly wet body.
“Cassie … I indulge you shamelessly because your little schemes haven’t caused much in the way of harm. Plus, I never want to truly rule over my sister’s natures. I know what you do is part of who you are and I wouldn’t want to disrupt that. And I have faith in my Eternal,” she said as she smiled at Keith, “However, you need to promise me you will never, ever, do something like this again. If you do I might get … cross.”
The thought of Tera cross at her made Cassie seem to shrink a few sizes. She managed to look her oldest friend in the eyes and said a contrite, “Absolutely, Tera. I promise. I’m truly sorry.”
“Mmmm hmmmm,” the Queen said, moving closer to her. Keith had heard that tone before and had a sneaking idea where this was going, but he wisely stayed back and watched the show. If it went how he suspected it would it would be … amusing.
The slightly blue red-tail came within an inch of Cassie’s face and with one finger lifted her chin, “You promise, yes?”
The silver-tail’s voice was hardly above a whisper, “Yes, Tera.”
“Very well.” Tera leaned in and kissed her deeply, long and full on the lips. Cold or not, her Eternal could feel the heat of it from where he stood. Cassie’s eyes closed and she fell into the sheer power of the kiss, because even a Succubi’s mind would be slightly blown when kissed by the Queen. The kiss lasted for several seconds and, before it was finished, there was a slight “bamf” sound as Cassie popped out of sight with a wisp of smoke. Keith raised his eyebrows slightly and finally spoke, “Do I want to know where you sent her?”
His Eternal looked back and made that mischievous look that he loved so much. Without a word she pointed into the bathroom with one finger. Keith turned and realized what was about to happen. “Oh, you didn’t.”
Again, Tera didn’t say a word. The finger she was using to point at the bathroom fell in a sharp motion. And Keith heard the water in the shower turn on … and then, a second later, heard Cassie … and he was far from the only one.
“YEAAAHAOOOOOO!” Cassie bolted out of the bathroom like a shot. She was soaking wet and knew better to stick around, in case Tera decided to do something else. She raced to the door and was out it in a blink, icy wet clothes and all.
Keith couldn’t help but snicker slightly at Cassie’s reaction. Tera was in no way vicious or evil, but she DID have a naughty streak in her that came out when someone messed with her like that. She had caught Cassie more than once and always turned the tables on her in some form. This was one of the more direct ways, but Keith had to admit it was both worth it and amusing.
He noticed raven-haired love looking at the floor slightly even after her little trick. He walked over and enveloped her in his arms, towels and all. “You okay?” he whispered in her ear.
She sighed, “I’m wet, cold, tired, and there is a world of things that I need to do … that we need to do and, after this, I just want to crawl back into bed. Cassie meant no harm, I know, but still …”
He held her a bit tighter, “I know.” He thought for a moment and chuckled. Tera turned to him, a high arch in her eyebrow, because laughter wasn’t the response she thought would come from him. “Something funny?” she said, lightly but with an edge that warned he might end up in the shower himself if she didn’t like the answer.
Keith didn’t mind. In fact he realized something that made him chuckle all the more: “No, my dear. It’s just that … I couldn’t help but think of all the times we’ve both said over these last couple of years, ‘I just want to scream,’ and you finally got the chance and made the most of it. Never heard that from you before.”
Tera pursed her lips slightly and then, despite herself, she started to laugh along with him, “It was rather loud, wasn’t it?”
“I think our ancestors five generations back heard you,” he teased.
The Succubi Queen tried … she really did … to get miffed at that, but couldn’t deny it and continued in the shared laughter with her Eternal. It had been something neither of them had done enough lately. It felt good, and she didn’t want to lose it.
Before they both knew it they were laughing enough to tumble back into their bed, still giggling at the thought of Tera’s blood-chilling scream. After a long time that wasn’t nearly long enough, the laughter settled and she smiled. “That felt good, better than the shower at any rate,” she said lightly.
Keith stroked her hair, “Well if you’re still cold, I can think of one or two ways to warm you up.”
His Eternal opened her mouth to say they had too much, too many worries … and then shut her mouth again. Everything would be there after today. All the trials and issues wouldn’t go away but nothing would change that terribly in a day. If there was one thing that they had learned in the last couple years, it was how precious time was with those who were in your heart.
And, after all, she was the Queen and he was the King. The world could just deal for a day without them.
Stroking Keith’s face she called out lightly, “Rachel!”
As usual, no matter how soft it was, Rachel heard her, and her head popped in through the open door, “Yes, Tera?”
“Keith and I have issues to deal with. It will take a while for me to recover from Cassie’s little prank. I would say a day. If anyone comes looking for me, unless it’s an emergency, see to it we are not disturbed by anyone.”
Rachel smiled, understanding in full: “Yes Tera.” And she started to close the door.
“OH … and, Rachel?”
The Queen made a wry face, “By tomorrow, I expect what Cassie did to be fixed … and please make sure our water is secure from little pranks like this in the future, too.”
Rachel smiled widely, “Already working on it, Your Majesty. It will not be a problem. See you tomorrow.” And she quietly shut the door.
They continued to look at each other for a time, each letting the presence of the other fill them and push away all the burdens for now. It was a moment they used to have quite often but now didn’t have often enough, and so they savored it.
Tera reached out to come closer and she noticed a change on Her Eternal’s face. “What is it?”
Keith’s mind thought back to everything for a moment, “Well, it’s just that Cassie said she thought she heard you leaving. That’s why she froze the water, because she thought the next person to use the shower would be me. But just before you got in there was that knock and those roses and I heard footsteps walking away … that must have been what she heard. What are the odds all that happening at once?”
Tera, who had been busy recovering from her ice bath and hadn’t really thought all that through, felt her eyes narrow. “Hmmmm. I wonder … I can think of someone who has pulled something like this before. Plus, now that I think about it, Cassie’s schemes have been playful but not too thorough in the planning. I am going to have to ask her about that when she and I get dry again,” she said, her voice filled with annoyed amusement.
“Still cold, my love?” Keith asked.
Tera pushed aside any further thoughts and said simply, “Freezing.”
“I think I can help,” Keith said as he moved closer.
The raven-haired succubi sighed and waved her hand and the curtains that had let the sun in quietly closed, blocking out the sunlight and the rest of the world for this precious time with her Eternal.
And then they both got warmed up.
From a building far away from the Palace, a figure noticed the curtains near the top close and knew what it meant. He had heard two screams from there (as had everyone else) and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what had happened.
Absently, he thought how he should use Cassie more in the future. Despite Tera’s indulgence, he didn’t really like her flirting so much with Keith. When you have two people who are Eternals, you just shouldn’t mess with it. But he knew she would try again. He would have to think about that.
Meanwhile, knowing what he wanted had been done, he pulled his hood and cloak a little tighter around him and turned away. Tera never shared burdens, so sometimes one had to be a bit inventive to give her a moment she wouldn’t allow herself. Helping with her burdens, after all, sometimes helped with his, which were like Tera’s and many.
The figure quietly headed for the door that would lead him off the roof. He could have slipped into the shadows but didn’t want to do anything that Tera and Keith might notice till he was well away. He opened the door and was startled when he saw a small card taped to the other side of the door. The card was all in red and very small. Knowing full well it hadn’t been there when he arrived he pulled it off and read the writing on it.
LATER for you, Legion. I would be wary if I were you … and thank you. Tera.
He shook his head and smiled and looked back at the closed curtains one more time. It was never easy pulling one over on the Queen, though he had once or twice. He thought about the laughter he had heard, the scream, the time that would now be shared that wouldn’t have been if it hadn’t been helped along a little. It was worth it. Tera and Keith always were.
Knowing it didn’t matter now, he slipped into the shadow. He decided to head for a waterfall he knew … because he wasn’t sure he trusted a shower right now.