An Apprentice's Adventures

by Mark Friedman

Chapter 7

When I awoke, I stretched, and felt the nude body of Denali next to me. I couldn't help but smile. It may have all seemed like a setup from one of those romance stories that my mom and sister liked so much, but it felt so right, like Denali was supposed to be there.

"Good morning," he said.

"Good morning," I replied, opening my eyes fully to find Denali looking at me. "How long have you been awake?"

"A little while," he said. "I was just watching you sleep." I felt myself blush again. "Well," he continued, "we'd better get up and get dressed. I'm sure that people will want to see us after what happened last night, and I'm not much in the mood to have them come in here and find us like this, as enjoyable a position as it's been for me to be in."

"Uh, good point," I said, blushing harder.

"You're cute when you do that," he said, giving me a quick kiss before sliding out from under the covers. I followed suit, and we didn't exactly try to hide the fact that we were checking out each other's body while we got dressed. We then headed into the general dining room, and I noticed he stayed very close to me the entire time from when we left my room to when we got breakfast and sat down. The mood in the room was unusually subdued, probably because of what had happened the night before.

Suddenly someone sat down across from us. I looked up to see it was Mage Landyn. "Well, I was wondering when you two would finally get together," he said.

At first I wanted to say that Denali and I had been "together" for a while as friends, but then I realized that he was referring to what we'd done last night, and I blushed.

"What makes you say that?" Denali asked, trying to sound casual about it but with a bit of embarrassment in his voice.

"Don't you know?" Mage Landyn asked. "You two have lifebonded."

Denali and I stared at each other with wide eyes. "We…what?!" I managed to get out after a few moments of stunned silence between the two of us.

"You and Denali are lifebonded," Mage Landyn repeated.

"But…how? When?" Denali asked, sounding as shocked as I felt.

Mage Landyn shrugged. "Nobody really knows how lifebonds work," he said. "For you two, it probably happened whenever you first met. As a mage, I can sense such pairings when I see a lifebonded pair together, and I noticed yours the first time I saw the two of you together."

"Well, that certainly explains why I kept noticing you staring at us whenever we were together," I said.

"Yes, sorry about that," he said, looking a bit sheepish. "Like you, I've heard about lifebonds, and I'd been trained in what to look for as part of my mage training, but I've never actually encountered one before."

"So, now what?" Denali asked.

"Well," Mage Landyn said, "we should probably tell Ambassador Kroaswell – not because there's anything wrong, mind you, simply that he should be aware of it. Denali, you will also want to tell your family also. All things considered, you might want to consider moving into the same bedroom as well. Eventually, you'll want to decide where you're going to live after Aidan's job as Ambassador Kroaswell's aide is finished."

We headed to Ambassador Kroaswell's office and knocked. When he called out for us to enter, we did so, and sat down. Mage Landyn quickly explained what happened.

"Well, this is certainly a pleasant surprise," Ambassador Kroaswell said when Mage Landyn finished. "Thank you for letting me know, and certainly I, for one, have no objection to them sharing a room. Aidan's room would probably be the better of the two, though if they do choose that room, I certainly hope they will remember that this old man, whose hearing is perfectly good, needs his rest."

I felt my whole face go warm, and Denali said, "Of course."

"Anyway, later today I'll be meeting with Captain Tomicka to see about last night's little incident," Ambassador Kroaswell said, "to see how those assassins got in here in the first place and how we might avoid any future unpleasantries. Aidan, perhaps you should take a bit of time off."

"No, I'm fine," I said. "Really."

"Nothing a good night's sleep couldn't fix, eh?"

"Exactly!" I said (perhaps a little too cheerfully, since I noticed Denali cringe).

"Very well," Ambassador Kroaswell said. "However, I'll see about getting things finished up early so that you can help Denali move into your room while it's still light outside."

"Uh, sure," I said. I didn't think it was possible to blush so much.

I sat in on Captain Tomicka's report. Apparently, the pirates who'd sent the assassins had managed to turn a couple of the locals who were handling the assignment of various temp workers throughout the city, and those individuals had therefore been able to slip the assassins in with the other, legitimate workers. Troops had immediately been dispatched to grab those two individuals, who quickly spilled the beans after they'd been caught (evidently, they had been told that being involved in a conspiracy against the king could very easily bring the death penalty – hanging, specifically – but if they turned informant they could look at life in prison instead). While they didn't know much (they were apparently only told information on a need-to-know basis), Captain Tomicka said that some of the information they were providing was still quite interesting.

That night, as I crawled into bed, I curled up to Denali. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close to him.

"I'll admit," he said after a few moments, "I've never shared a bed with anyone for more than a night at a time. This'll be interesting."

"Yeah," I said.

"I'm just glad you don't snore."

"But I do other things in bed that you should be worried about."

"Like what?"

In response, I moved a hand down to his crotch and started rubbing his dick, which started getting hard.

"Whoa, easy there," he said as he started panting.

"This is me being easy," I replied as I continued to play with his dick.

He took my hand off his dick and rolled onto me, planting his lips on mine as he started grinding his crotch against mine. I moaned out as best I could, then almost yelped out when his dick penetrated me. He started sliding his dick in and out of me, usually going somewhat slowly but occasionally he would thrust frantically for a few moments before slowing back down. We made love for a while before Denali arched his back and cried out. He flopped down onto me a few moments later, gasping for breath. He then rolled off of me, his softening dick sliding out of me, and started stroking my still-hard dick. I moaned out and squirmed, clutching the sheets under me. He then leaned down and took my dick into his mouth, and he started sucking on it, his hair falling down around my waist. I gasped out and put my hands on the back of his head as my hips started thrusting up and down. All too soon I was blowing my load into Denali's mouth.

"I love you, Aidan," Denali said quietly when he pulled up.

"I love you, too, Denali," I replied.

The next two weeks went by quietly. Denali started teaching me a few…interesting things in the bedroom. We generally had at least breakfast together, lunch when we could make the time and dinner whenever there were no formal functions going on, and this led several people to comment on how we made a cute couple (suffice to say, it took a while for me to learn to stop blushing furiously whenever someone would say that).

One night, as we lay in bed after some rather passionate sex, Denali said, "Tomorrow night we should go to visit my mother. While we've passed a few notes back and forth, I haven't visited her in ages, and you should meet her, all things considered."

"I guess I should, huh?" I said, feeling rather embarrassed that in all that time I hadn't once asked to meet either his mother or brother, even though they didn't live too far away. "But why tomorrow? And for dinner?"

"Well, it's my mother's birthday tomorrow," Denali said, sounding rather sheepish. "Everybody getting together for dinner is the one thing she's always insisted upon having as a present for her birthday. We don't really have any other close family nearby, so Halian and I are really all she's got left."

"Then we definitely need to go," I said, glad that nothing was scheduled for the next evening.

The next evening I bathed and pulled on some of my best clothes. Denali came in from the stables just as I was pulling on the last of my clothes, and he grabbed a few things before heading to the baths himself. While I waited for him to get ready, I looked out the window at the few clouds in the sky and watched them turn some beautiful colors as the sun set. Eventually the bedroom door opened, and I turned to greet Denali, only to have my mouth drop open. I'd never seen Denali in any sort of really formal clothes before, so to see him now, in what was probably the best outfit (by far) that he owned, practically blew me away.

"You like?" he asked with a grin.

My mouth opened and closed several times before I could find my voice. "Denali, you're beyond handsome," I finally managed to get out.

"Oh, I know," he said, pretending to preen for a moment. "So, you ready?"

"Yeah, we'd better get going," I said.

I walked over to him, and he gave me a quick kiss. "Just so you know," he said, "you're really good-looking yourself."

I grinned as we headed out. We walked to the restaurant where we were to meet Denali's mother and brother – fortunately, it wasn't too far from the embassy. I was kind of expecting some large bustling place, but the restaurant turned out to be a much smaller, somewhat out of the way place – what my father would describe as a "hole-in-the-wall." When we entered, Denali was almost immediately greeted enthusiastically by a large man.

"Denali, it's been too long!" the man said, embracing Denali. "How is the job at the embassy going? And who's your friend?"

"Yeah, it's been a while, hasn't it, Acalan?" Denali said. "The job's going great. And as for who he is…" Denali gestured me over. "Aidan, this is Acalan Tesalante, chef extraordinaire, Acalan, this is Aidan Marsatal. Besides being the aide to the new ambassador from Skronina, he is also my lifebond."

Acalan's face lit up. "Denali, you've lifebonded? That's wonderful!" Acalan took my hand and shook it vigorously. "It is indeed a great pleasure to meet you, Aidan. Denali's a great guy, but I'm sure you already known that."

"Yes, Sir," I said.

"Oh, please, it's jut Acalan," he said with a hearty laugh. He looked over his shoulder and called out, "Mariya, Denali's here!" Moments later, a woman came out, and I was introduced to Acalan's wife, Mariya, who greeted me warmly.

"Your mother and brother are already here," Mariya told us. "Come this way."

As we followed her, I noticed Denali wipe his hands on his pants. "Nervous?" I asked quietly.

"Yeah," he said. "Oh man, I hope they like you!"

"If they're anything like you, they will," I said, hoping I sounded confident. I was a bit worried about how I'd be received, too.

We were taken to a cozy back room, where there was a woman and older teenage guy that I figured must be Halian were seated. Both of them rose when we entered. There was a slight family resemblance between the woman and Denali, but there was a very striking resemblance between Denali and Halian, though Halian was probably 3 inches or so taller than Denali, and had a somewhat more muscular build.

"Denali!" the woman said, and she and Denali embraced.

"Happy birthday, Ma," Denali said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

"Hey, little bro," the guy said, and the two brothers gave each other a quick one-armed hug, patting the other's back with their free arm.

"I assume that this is the person you wanted us to meet," Denali's mother said, gesturing to me.

"Yes," Denali said. "Aidan, this is my mother, Talise, and brother, Halian. Ma, Halian, this is Aidan Marsatal. He is my…lifebond."

"Hi," I said, feeling rather awkward.

There was a momentary silence in the room. "Wow," Halian finally said. "I'll admit I certainly wasn't expecting that." He flashed a big grin at me. "Though I am absolutely not complaining, mind you. Welcome to the family, Aidan!" He grabbed me in a big bear hug.

"Can't…breathe…" I managed to get out after a few moments.

Halian released me. "Sorry," he said with a huge grin. "I get overly enthusiastic sometimes."

Talise came and firmly embraced me as well, although not nearly as hard as Halian had. "This is wonderful," she said, giving me a kiss on the cheek. "I would like to welcome you as part of the family as well, Aidan."

"Thank you," I said.

We sat down and Mariya and Acalan served dinner, which consisted of several Tehari dishes (I wisely avoided the fire chicken, and fortunately nothing else was nearly as spicy). I was a bit surprised that they served Tehari dishes there, since Mariya and Acalan weren't Tehari, and neither were any of their staff as far as I could see. When I mentioned it, Denali explained to me that Mariya had lived and worked among the Tehari as a youth, and her love of the cuisine had carried over into the establishment that she and Acalan had founded together (they served more than just Tehari dishes, but Denali and his family came here for a taste of home).

After dinner, we all sat back. We made small talk for a while, and I told Talise and Halian a little about my family and what I did back in Toskel as an apprentice archivist. Talise and Halian also told me a bit about themselves. Talise worked as a seamstress (she worked for herself), while Halian was an apprentice cabinetmaker.

When it came up that Denali and I hadn't decided where to live after my time at the embassy came to an end, I was a little nervous. How would Talise and Halian react if Denali decided to come back to Toskel with me? But I didn't have a chance to worry long.

"Why don't we all go live in Toskel?" Talise said.

"Wait – you'd do that?" I asked, almost unable to believe my ears.

She shrugged. "There's little to keep any of us here. We have no other close relatives besides each other. These days, most people are increasingly going to the bigger shops in town for clothing, and my own work can be easily relocated to most anywhere I go, and from what I am hearing through the grapevine, Tehari fashion is starting to become popular in Toskel, so there will be plenty of work for me."

I nodded at that. Tehari fashion was starting to become more popular in Toskel when I'd left, and I said as much. Talise smiled and continued. "The master cabinetmaker that Halian is apprenticed to says he will be ready in a few months to advance to journeyman status, and obviously, as the title implies, Halian will have to journey somewhere else to study further. It would not be hard for Denali to leave his job here and find similar work in Toskel, I'm sure. We have no other serious obligations that would keep us here."

"Well then, I guess we're going to Toskel," Denali said.

"That was easy," I said.

"It's like we were meant to go to Toskel," Denali commented.

"Maybe we were," Talise said with a shrug. "Who knows how the gods operate?"

Eventually, it came time to go our separate ways for the evening. We all got up and bid farewell. Talise said that Denali and I would have to visit her on occasion, and we promised we would. Denali and I headed out and started the journey back to the embassy.

"See?" I said after a couple of minutes. "Like I said, they liked me."

"Yeah," Denali said in a bit of awe. "Wow, I can't believe we're all going to Toskel."

"Believe it," I said.

We arrived back at the embassy, and the guards on duty at the front gate waved us through. We went back to our room, and we pulled off our clothes and put them away. We were in just our underwear when Denali grabbed me and kissed me.

Breaking off the kiss, he said, "You have no idea of how hard it was for me to keep my hands off of you tonight."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," I said, kissing him back.

Underwear went flying, and moments later we found ourselves on the bed, with me on top of me. I started grinding my crotch against his, and he moaned out. A few moments later I grabbed his dick, held it up, and started sitting down on it, moaning out as it entered my butthole. When his was all the way inside me, I kept my body straight up and down as I started riding Denali, sliding up and down his huge dick. My own dick smacked Denali every time I went down. Denali soon reached his climax, and I felt myself being filled with his seed. The sensation was so incredible I promptly blew my load all over him. I flopped onto Denali, his softening dick still inside me, and I felt him run his fingertips lightly on my back.

"Oh, Aidan," he said quietly.

I raised my head and gave Denali a long, slow kiss. "Denali," I said after breaking off the kiss, just enjoying having his name roll off my tongue. I reluctantly got off of him, and he cleaned us both up before getting back into bed. We curled up, and were soon sound asleep.

The next day, Ambassador Kroaswell asked me to run a couple of quick errands outside the embassy, delivering a couple of messages. I grabbed the two messages and headed out to deliver them. It was a nice day out, and I was glad to be able to get outside after spending so much time indoors.

I delivered the two messages and was heading back to the embassy when suddenly someone grabbed me from behind, and a hand was placed over my mouth. I struggled, but having been caught unaware like that, and having no training in how to handle such things, I was quickly overpowered and dragged into a side alley. I was practically carried down a set of stairs and through a small door.

"Well, look what we got here," someone said next to my ear. I wrinkled my nose at his bad breath. "We got ourselves a plan wrecker."

I was shoved onto the floor. I looked around to see several other men in the alley, all glaring at me. "Who are you?" I asked, trying to keep my voice from trembling. "What do you want?"

"Oh, you've never met us," the man said, "but you have met some of our…associates. I'm sure you remember them. Two of them are dead, and a third is in the custody of Andaresian forces, being interrogated. As for what we want…well, I think you already know what we originally wanted, and we're none too thrilled that you interfered with us getting it."

My eyes went wide. I remembered how it had been mentioned that the people who'd attempted to assassinate King Osvaldo had been working for pirates, and the guy holding me did have a slightly salty smell to him.

"You're afraid," the guy continued. "Good. Now, as for what we want, it's the same as it's always been – Osvaldo out of the way."

"I'm not going to help you with that!" I declared.

"Of course you aren't," the guy said. "We aren't expecting you to."

"Then why…"

"Grab you? As I said, you interfered with our plans, and some of us have a healthy sense of revenge. First, we're going to complete our mission of killing Osvaldo, just so you know that all your efforts to stop us were ultimately for nothing. Then we're going to make sure you die as well, preferably slowly and painfully."

My eyes widened, but before I had a chance to say anything, a blow landed on the back of my head, and all went dark…

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