Chosen One, 35

It’s Never What’s at the Party That’s Fun, It’s What’s All around It

Ao3 Link

The banquet was turning out not to be as terrible as Isaac had worried it would be. Even if he’d missed most of it so far.

“Are you sure about this?”

Isaac smiled, covering it a little with his hand as he did. He looked up at Turner. He had a light smattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose that Isaac could just make out in the lamplight, and his dark brown hair was hanging his worried eyes. Isaac reached up and brushed that hair aside so he could see them. “If I wasn’t sure, you would never have lost so many clothes, silly.”

Turner’s pants and smallclothes were around his knees, his fancy jacket on the floor somewhere, his shirt hiked up to his armpits and his erection was in his hand, in between Isaac’s legs, waiting for Turner to move. Isaac had lost his pants entirely and his shirt was pulled up to expose his belly as well.

He’d only met Turner a half hour ago.

Turner laughed a little, a nervous chuckle that was what had endeared Isaac to him in the first place. “Okay…”

“Are you sure?” Isaac asked him. Turner’s grandfather was some major lord. If Turner was supposed to be Lord Turner and inherit a castle someday, Isaac thought he should learn to be a little more commanding. But he was very nice and Isaac liked that about him. “We can stop if you want.”

Turner had a very pretty dick, quivering there between Isaac’s legs, shining a little with the coat of Isaac’s spit that was still on it from a few minutes ago. Between it and Turner’s tongue Isaac wasn’t sure which had tasted better, and he wanted to do a taste test on both again before he made a decision. But as much as Isaac wanted it to bury itself inside of him rather than hiding behind Turner’s smallclothes again, he only wanted it if Turner wasn’t going to feel bad about it after. On the hand he was using to hold himself steady, Turner was wearing a betrothal ring.

“No,” Turner said, breathing heavy. “I…I’d like to.”

“Then we should,” Isaac told him, nodding encouragingly.

“Okay…I’m going to put it in.”

“Whenever you’re ready.”

Turner was ready after just a second, and he pressed his head against Isaac’s entrance, letting out a strained sort of humming noise as he pressed in without too much difficulty. Isaac had prepared himself and besides, Turner wasn’t the first person whose pants he’d managed to get into tonight.

“Aaaa…” Isaac let out as Turner pushed all the way into him. “That’s good, I like that.”

“Me too…” Turner panted, and he leaned down and reintroduced Isaac to his tongue. Isaac kissed him back, and they made little noises into each other’s mouths while Turner started moving in and out.

Usually with new guys it was kind of fast and awkward, but Turner went slowly and carefully, his every thrust measured carefully. He didn’t seem to know what Isaac wanted him to aim for, which spoke to his inexperience, but he did bring his free hand up and wrap it around Isaac’s dick as he went, the metal of the ring warm against Isaac’s skin.

Isaac put his arms around Turner to pull him closer, lips not leaving his except for a few seconds at a time because Turner hadn’t mastered breathing through his nose. Turner had lasted about thirty seconds when Isaac had blown him before, but he did a lot better this time, fucking Isaac for several great minutes before suddenly tensing, making a loud noise into Isaac’s mouth, and shooting inside of him.

Turner kept thrusting into Isaac as he came, and he jerked Isaac off ever faster as he did. On his very last squirt Turner thrust into Isaac hard and at just the right angle, hitting that spot and sending Isaac into orgasm as well, which he did with a stifled moan and an arching of his back.

Turner stayed where he was for a long minute, panting in Isaac’s ear, but he did finally pull out to lay on the floor beside him. Isaac clenched his muscles so no cum would leak out onto the fancy carpet in this nice empty room they’d borrowed.

The castle had a lot of those. It was really convenient.

They cuddled on the floor for a few minutes in a warm silence that had Isaac drifting off a bit. Then Turner said, “I don’t want to get married.”

“Then don’t,” Isaac told him, holding his ringed hand.

“It doesn’t work that way.” Turner sighed, pulled Isaac closer for just a second, before sitting up and starting to fix his clothes. “Marriage is political when you’re a noble.”

“So telling her you don’t like her would start a war or something?” Isaac sat up too, more carefully, and looked around for the smallclothes that Peter had forced him to wear tonight. He was glad he wasn’t a noble.

“Hopefully not, but you never know.” Turner gave Isaac a bit of a smile. “I do like her. We’ve been friends for a long time. I just…” He shrugged, went back to lacing his pants.

“If you ask me,” Isaac said, pulling up his smallclothes. He had a second pair folded up, which he stuck into the back to help with any potential leakage. That had also been Peter’s idea, so he wouldn’t walk around the whole night with a stain on his expensive dress pants. Regretfully, it was now time to put those on, so Isaac stuck his leg in. “Getting married should be about being friends with someone. I mean, you can have sex with anyone, but if you’re going to live with one person until you die, it should be someone you like, right?”

Turner looked at Isaac for a minute, watching Isaac dress. And he laughed a little. “You know, you’re pretty smart.”

“Not really,” Isaac told him, standing so he could get the pants all the way on. He tried to tuck his shirt in the way it had been before but he couldn’t figure it out without it looking funny. But then, Isaac thought he looked funny anyway. “I think they’re going to kick me out of the academy when they read my tests.”

He’d had one in history yesterday. He hadn’t remembered anything.

“Marks on paper aren’t what tell you if you’re smart,” Turner said, taking Isaac’s hands away from his clothes and fixing them for him. “You managed to make me feel better about marrying Gloria in two seconds. That seems smart to me.”

Isaac smiled while Turner did up the laces on his pants, then moved up to the ones on his shirt. He really wanted someone to tell him why fancy clothes needed so many laces. And lace, also, he was pretty sure there was lace on his cuffs. “Sex will do that too.”

“Don’t sell yourself short.” Turner smiled back and gave Isaac a kiss on the mouth before stepping back. “You’re very handsome.”

“I look stupid. You’re handsome.” Turner was, in his green coat and his knee-high boots. He looked like he might duel someone, or something.

“I think that argument is how you ended up taking your clothes off in the first place.”

“I don’t mind taking them off again.”

“We should probably go back to the party,” Turner said, running a finger along Isaac’s chin. “Thanks.”

“Thank you,” Isaac said, taking Turner’s hand and holding it. “You could always come find me at the academy if you want.”

“I might just do that someday. Don’t forget to put your boots back on.”

“I think I can remember. You should go out first so we don’t look like we’re coming out together.” Isaac wouldn’t have minded looking like they were coming out together, but he knew that people had to keep up appearances. Especially when the girl they were marrying was outside.

Turner nodded, hesitated, and leaned in for one last kiss before heading for the door. “See you later, Isaac.”

“See you.” Isaac stood there for a long minute, watching the door after Turner had left. He was a nice guy. Isaac hoped he didn’t spend his whole marriage being unhappy. After a minute he sighed, shook himself and put his boots back on. The banquet wasn’t over yet.

The sitting down and eating food part of the banquet had been essentially what Isaac had expected, which was to say that it had been sitting down and eating a lot of fancy looking food that Isaac had never seen before while trying desperately not to spill anything on his expensive clothes and subtly elbowing Peter ever few minutes to make sure he was eating with the right fork. Isaac had eaten a bit too much but now that they were in the standing around and talking part of the night, he was finding lots of ways to work off all the excess energy that the food had given him. Before meeting Turner, he’d entertained three young kitchen servants for a while; he’d been after three helpings of dessert but once he’d gotten those, two of them had wandered away to go back to work and missed the main course between Isaac and the third guy, whose name was Gene.

That was when Isaac had realized that he didn’t know how the clothes he was wearing worked and couldn’t put them back on properly. Good thing Turner had shown up to help him with them or he’d have had to wander into the banquet hall half-dressed and get Peter to do it in front of everyone. Peter was basically saving Isaac’s life at this stupid thing.

The hall was a long room with a high ceiling filled with people, tables lining the walls. On one side there were tall windows overlooking the castle grounds, and on the other there was just wall with some curtains up on a second floor that blocked something from view. Isaac saw Turner talking to a curly-haired blonde girl off to one side and smiled at him, but searched until he found Peter, heading that way instead.

“Hey,” he said, taking Peter’s hand briefly.

“Hey, you’re back in here, and dressed, even.” Peter smiled at him, leaning a little on his cane. “You’re not exhausted already, are you?”

Isaac coloured a little. He may or may not have foolishly made a bet with Peter—and Nicholas, grudgingly—about how many people he could be with at the banquet. Nicholas had bet some pocket money. Peter had bet something a lot more fun.

“Of course not.” Isaac grinned. “Just taking a breather.”

“Good, I wouldn’t want you to miss out on your prize.” Peter just sipped at his cup, looking around the room now. He wouldn’t tell Isaac what the prize was.

“I’m good at winning, don’t worry,” Isaac told him, looking around to see what Peter was looking at. He didn’t see anything interesting. A few people he wouldn’t mind seeing more of, though. “I do feel bad for leaving you out here with Nicholas, though.”

“Don’t.” Peter smiled at him. “Nicholas is doing his own thing somewhere and I’m enjoying watching all the politics that are happening.”

“What politics?” Isaac didn’t know what politics looked like, but he didn’t see any happening in amongst all the noble people gossiping and drinking. Diana was talking to some fat nobleman with a bald spot, and Yancy with a sort of scary-looking lady in a wicked black dress. The archmage was talking to the queen, but Isaac’s eyes moved past them so that he didn’t have to contemplate the fact that he was in the same room as the queen even though he’d sort of met her not that long ago.

He was much more willing to think about the fact that he was in the same room as the queen’s very handsome son, who was over there wrapping up a chat with some lady in a blue dress.

“Just watching who’s talking to who, and who’s not talking to who, that sort of thing,” Peter said. “But you’re not listening anymore now that you’ve noticed the prince again, are you?”

“Isn’t he pretty?” Isaac asked, trying not to be super obvious about watching him.

“Not as pretty as you.”

Peter said it so casually that it was a second before Isaac heard it, and he turned back to Peter, oddly warm at that. “You either.”

Peter smiled. “Go talk to him.”

Isaac’s stomach did a strange dance at that. “Am I allowed to just go talk to the prince?”

“Sure. I mean, if you’re not, his bodyguards will jump on you before you get too close, so you’ll know.”

Isaac narrowed his eyes, trying to look around the room for bodyguards. “I don’t see any.” There were some castle guards, and some knights, were those the same thing?

“Then you’re fine. Probably.” Peter was still smiling. “Come on, we both know you want to talk to him. It’s not like you to be shy.”

“I guess.” Gavin had been there when the archmage had presented the three of them to the king—which had been terrifying—but he hadn’t said anything. He’d just looked kind of curious.

“He’s nice. I talked to him for a few minutes earlier.”

“You did?” Isaac looked from Peter to the prince, who was now talking to an old man who Isaac thought was the High Presbyter.

Peter nodded. “Seems like your type.”

“Oh, that’s good.” Isaac nodded, smiling. “I’m glad I have you to help me. You know my tastes so well, Peter.”

That got him a chuckle from Peter. “It’s kind of fun just…letting you loose on a room like this. I think you’re going to have to wait now—Gavin’s going to be stuck talking to Jerome for a while.”

The High Presbyter did look like the kind of old man who would go on a bit. Isaac sighed. “I’ll keep an eye on him. He already looks bored.” Isaac would be bored if a priest tried to start talking to him at length, he knew that for sure.

“Why not warm up with him?” Peter asked, nodding Isaac towards a southerner who until a minute ago had been talking to the princess and was now just breaking off from another southerner. He cut a very fine-looking figure in the dark green coat and breeches that he was wearing, much darker than Turner’s. He was wearing one of those bows that fancy people wore tied around his neck, which was dark purple and looked very cute.

Isaac took a moment, trying to remember his name. “That’s, um…”

“Franz. The Kyainese prince who’s going to marry Princess Gabrielle.”

“Right.” Isaac wondered how Peter kept all of it straight. He probably knew who everyone here was. “He’s very handsome, isn’t he?”

Peter laughed. “Yes, he is. Go talk to him instead of staring.”

Isaac blushed, looked down at his feet for a second. “Thanks, Peter. You’re the best.”

“I know.” Peter patted Isaac on the back and went over to a table, where an old man in green was considering the wine.

He really was quite something, Isaac thought. He wondered if this was what dating people was normally like. Even if it wasn’t, it was working out okay so far.

With a smile to himself, Isaac headed over and, rallying his confidence, approached the southern prince. “Good evening, your Highness,” he said, with a bit of an awkward bow. Isaac wasn’t sure that it was possible to bow without being awkward.

“Good evening, ah…” Franz trailed off for a minute, making a bit of a face. “I’m terribly sorry, I know we just met earlier, but…”

“Isaac, your Highness.” Isaac smiled at him.

“Right, of course. My apologies.” The prince offered Isaac a hand and Isaac clasped it, another thing that people did that Isaac thought was weird. But apparently it was part of the arcane system of manners that both Peter and Oliver claimed Isaac was bad at, so he let it happen.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you have more important things to think about than the names of every random person you meet,” Isaac told him.

“No, the people I meet are the most important thing I have to think about,” Franz assured him, letting go of Isaac’s hand after what seemed to Isaac like a really long time. “There are just a lot of them sometimes, that’s all. How are you liking the party?”

“It’s a little fancier than what I’m used to,” Isaac admitted, looking around at all the fanciness that was everywhere. “I feel like I’m going to break something by accident and get beheaded or something.”

Franz laughed at him. “Don’t worry, if that was cause for beheading, I’d be a good few inches shorter already. The north is a good deal more civilized than I’d been led to believe—they only whip people for breaking things up here.”


“A joke, Isaac.”

“Y-yeah.” Isaac chuckled a little. It was funny. “Right. So…is it true that it’s even hotter where you’re from than here?”

Franz nodded, looking for just a moment over Isaac’s shoulder before directing his attention back to Isaac. “It is. This far too hot summer that everyone complained about for months was normal as far as I was concerned. If anything, it could have been warmer.”

“Oh, God, no thank you, I was melting as it was,” Isaac said with a shake of his head. “There are only so many clothes I can take off.”

“Yes, decency does have its downsides, doesn’t it?”

Isaac quirked a grin for the prince. “Decency? No, I meant that I ran out of clothes after a while.”

The laugh that got him was a lot more abrupt and real sounding than the last one. “Oh, dear. You must have been quite a sight at the academy in the summer. The amazing naked chosen one.”

“I might have been,” Isaac said with a shrug. “Do you like sightseeing, your Highness?”

Franz’s eyebrows went up at that. He would have had to have been pretty dense not to hear what Isaac was asking there. “Not something I’ve had a lot of time for, I’m afraid. I’ve been hoping I could take a visit to your academy, though. I’ve heard…”

Franz was interrupted by the appearance of a very cute noble boy whose hair was cut very short. Wearing black and white, he looked mysterious in a way that made Isaac want to solve him. “Hey,” he said quietly to Franz. He sounded worried. “Sorry to interrupt. I need you for a minute.”

Something must have passed between them that Isaac missed, because Franz suddenly looked worried about something. “Okay.” He turned back to Isaac. “I’m sorry, I’ve got something to attend to. Maybe we could talk more later.”

“Sure, of course.” Isaac nodded, stepped back a little. “Thanks for your time, your Highness.”

Franz nodded at him and he and the mystery noble hurried off into the crowd, doing a very good job of not looking concerned. Isaac wondered what was going on. Maybe it was some of those invisible politics that Peter had been watching.

With that attempt having failed, Isaac refocused on his main goal for the moment. Gavin was clearly trying to disengage from the High Presbyter, and Isaac wandered over, approaching them from the side.

The High Presbyter was droning on about something. “…have always been people worried about the Leader, just as there have always been people hopeful for the messiah’s return. I am of the opinion that the prophecies speak to the far future, your Highness, and not the present day. Besides, there is no need to fear, surely such events will be heralded by momentous announcements from God, of which we have had none. All of this fervour that has been frothing will die down in a short time as it always does. In the meantime, it is best to focus our spirits on the heavens, and pray for the eternal deliverance of humanity through the grace of God…”

“Excuse me, your Holiness,” Isaac said, since Gavin looked ready to poke his eyes out. He pointed across the banquet hall. The High Presbyter stopped mid-speech, looking at Isaac, slightly aghast. “I’m very sorry to interrupt you. Someone over there needed to talk to you and asked me to come find you. She said it was something about, um…I don’t really remember, meeting someone who said they were an angel, or something?”

As Isaac had expected, the High Presbyter’s face got a little blotchy for a moment, then he sighed loudly. “I’m terribly sorry, your Highness. I’m afraid I must take my leave and save a soul from grave error. Again.”

“Of course, your Holiness,” Gavin said politely, giving him a fractional bow. He was holding in a smile. “Best of luck.”

“God be with you, your Highness. And thank you, lad.” The High Presbyter took off, huffing across the room looking for someone committing heresy.

Gavin turned to Isaac, that grin spreading across his face, lighting it up. “I could kiss you.”

Isaac grinned too. That was something he liked to hear. “Right here in front of everyone?”

A laugh. “What was that about? Meeting angels?”

“I go to school with his grandnephew. Neil told me that there’s nothing that makes his granduncle angrier than people who think that angels look like humans.” Isaac shrugged. “Seems like a funny thing to get mad about, but hey.” He would have to tell Neil next time he saw him that he’d been able to use that random piece of information that he’d shared while they’d been cuddling on Peter’s bed the other day.

“I’m going to remember that,” Gavin said, eyes narrowing after the High Presbyter. “You’re Isaac, right?”

“That’s me, your Highness.” Isaac gave another awkward bow. “Sorry for interrupting you.”

“No, thank you for saving me from him. I shouldn’t need constant saving from the man who’s supposed to be saving my soul, but God.”

“Have you considered the possibility that you might be a heretic, your Highness?”

Gavin gave Isaac this look that was somewhere in the vicinity of amusement. “I could have you arrested for that.”

It was a joke, Isaac told himself. “Aw, after all I’ve done for you?”

Now Gavin chuckled a little. “You remind me of someone, you know.”

“Should I be insulted?” Isaac asked. “I like to think I’m pretty unique.”

“He’s my favourite person, so it’s a compliment.”

“I like compliments.” Isaac put on a grin. “So, you live here? What’s that like?”

Gavin glanced around the room, kind of shrugged. “Like living in a big house. It’s probably not that much different than your academy.”

“It is,” Isaac assured him, also looking around. Gavin’s eyes had rested for a moment on Franz, who was now talking to a broad-shouldered redhead in the silliest outfit Isaac had seen all night. “You have more than three colours to decorate in, for one. Plus everything looks important instead of just pretending to be important like at the academy. I’d love a tour of it sometime.”

“Is that what it’s like? I’ve never been.” Gavin smiled, and ignored that last part of Isaac’s comment. “Probably I should see what it’s like, but I worry I’d be in the way.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t be.” Isaac told him, moving a little closer to Gavin. “I think the academy makes everyone feel that way though. I feel like I’m in the way and I live there.”

Gavin seemed to have noticed Isaac moving in, but he was just smiling at him in a way that was kind of hard to read. Isaac chose to read it as encouragement. “Isn’t there a whole prophecy about how you’re meant to be there?”

Isaac shrugged. “Prophecies are bullshit.”

“That’s an interesting perspective from someone who stars as the main character in one.”

“Well, if you came to the academy, I could show you the library where you’ll find out that nobody actually knows what the prophecy says,” Isaac told him, smiling.

“That’s a bit worrying,” Gavin said, a small frown on his face. “Maybe I should come by, see what it is that you people are really up to.”

“Well, I can’t speak for all mages, but I’m not up to anything sneaky.”

“I see that.” Again, Gavin’s tone was hard to read, but it was clear that he knew what Isaac was getting at.

“I could even give you a tour, if you want,” Isaac pressed, preparing to reach out and casually brush Gavin’s hand. “There’s a lot to see at the academy.”

Gavin looked up from Isaac suddenly. “I was wondering how long it would take you to find me,” he said, and Isaac looked over to see the redhead Franz had been talking to a few minutes ago. He was much bigger up close. And much cuter, in a sort of lumbering way. That overly fancy coat and huge, ridiculous bow didn’t suit him at all. Maybe he was Gavin’s bodyguard.

“Were you hiding?” Redhead asked, handing Gavin a wineglass.

“Not really.” Gavin took it, nodded at Isaac. “This is Isaac. He’s one of the chosen ones. He’s trying to get me to sleep with him.”

Well, at least Isaac had been right that Gavin had known. He could tell from the looks these two were sharing that he’d been wasting his time, though. If this guy was a bodyguard, he was doing a lot more with Gavin’s body than just guarding it. Isaac clasped hands with Gavin’s partner, tried to pretend he wasn’t worried about having his fingers broken when he squeezed. “How many dragons have you killed?” the redhead asked.

“Uh…none,” Isaac informed him, wondering where that was coming from.

“Then you don’t have a chance, sorry. Gavin’s hard to impress.” With a smirk, the redhead let go of Isaac’s hand. Isaac kind of vaguely wished he’d put those strong hands somewhere else.

“This is Owen, Isaac,” Gavin told him, sounding amused for real now. “He’s the reason why you’re going to be unsuccessful.”

“Aw.” Isaac crossed his arms, looking at the two of them. They were a really pretty couple when taken together. Even if Owen was dressed like someone who had only ever seen pictures of clothes. “That’s…you two are really unfair. Keeping each other from the rest of the world.” Maybe Isaac could talk them into letting him into their bed for a night or something.

“Sorry,” Owen said. He was lying, Isaac was pretty sure.

“Well.” Isaac shrugged, trying not to sigh too dramatically. He put on his grin at both of them. “If you two are ever interested in a third person, just for one night, you know. Let me know. Otherwise I’ll stop bugging you.”

“No need to run away,” Gavin told him, as Isaac started to retreat. Now he sounded a bit apologetic.

“Who’s running?” Isaac grinned at Gavin to show he had no hard feelings. “I’ve got to find someone to give me that tour of the castle.” He bowed a little and backed away, looking around the room to figure out where he should go. Peter was his go-to but he was over there talking to some guy in grey coat, but that cute mystery boy who’d taken Franz away from him earlier was by himself, so Isaac set his trajectory.

The boy saw him coming and smiled as Isaac approached. “You move quickly,” he said before Isaac could say anything. “From Turner to Franz to Gavin to me in half an hour.”

Isaac blinked, cocking his head a little. “Have you been watching me?”

“It’s hard not to. Your determination is impressive. I hope you were nice to Turner. He’s a good friend of mine.”

“I’m nice to everyone,” Isaac told him. “He was nice to me.”

“Of course he was. He’s always nice.” There was a bit of a barb in the boy’s voice at that, but he covered it with a smile. “I’m Hector.”

“Isaac.” Hector didn’t offer his hand and Isaac didn’t either. Someone else who understood how weird it was.

“I know.” Hector looked past Isaac for a second, nodding at someone, before returning his attention to Isaac. “So what, is it my turn now? My name is on top of your list now that you got shot down by Gavin?”

Isaac coloured a little. He wasn’t used to other people being so direct. “It’s not like that. I’m not putting notches in a belt. This is just my favourite way of meeting new people.”

Hector looked at him kind of funny. “That’s an interesting approach to life.”

“It works for me.” Isaac shrugged. “Hey, I’m not forcing anyone. I also like talking to people.” Even if it wasn’t his main goal for the evening.

“Well, I like…” Hector trailed off, looking off to the side just as a girl their age in a blue dress—not the lady Gavin had been talking with earlier but similar looking, maybe a daughter or younger sister—joined them. Isaac wondered what it must be like to be like Hector and constantly have an eye on everyone. “Good evening, Susanna.”

“You too, Hector. Sorry to interrupt.” Susanna smiled at Isaac briefly. “I need to talk to you for a second.”

“About what?” Hector asked, in a way that made Isaac think he already knew.

“Cattle farmers. Sorry,” she said to Isaac. “I’ll bring him back.”

“I can wait,” Isaac promised. Hector gave him an apologetic smile as he was dragged away, and Isaac waved after him.

Three in a row he’d missed out on now. Isaac was getting a little frustrated. He turned around to go look for something to eat while he gathered his wits, and nearly ran right into Nicholas. “Woah. You’re better at lurking than you seem.”

“And you’re not as observant as you could be,” Nicholas told him, giving Isaac a look.

“That was an opportunity for you to joke back at me, Nikky,” Isaac said, not rudely. He was dressed very nicely, though Isaac thought he would fit in at a funeral. Though Maybe Isaac would too in his sombre, tight-fitting grey.

“Stop calling me that,” Nicholas muttered, looking away for a second. “It’s a little boy’s name.”

“I assume you were a little boy once.” Isaac crossed his arms, peered at Nicholas. “Unless you just emerged into the world, a fully-formed mass of grump.”

“I grew up, Isaac. Some people do that.”

Isaac smiled at him, and he reached out and patted Nicholas on the arm. “You must be really bored if all you have to do at this fancy party is wander over and insult me.”

“It has gone on a lot longer than I thought it would,” Nicholas admitted, with a small sigh. “We never had parties like this in my village back home.”

“Mine either.” Isaac looked around the room again. Cameron and the archmage were talking to some lady who looked like she was trying not to kill both of them. Isaac wondered who she was. He also wondered if Cameron had actually been invited to the banquet or if she’d just shown up. He was pretty sure it was the latter.

Yancy was pontificating a bit at a bored-looking nobleman, and Elijah and Christopher were chatting up the lady who Isaac thought was Hector’s mother. Irene and Oliver had been cornered by the High Presbyter, which Isaac felt bad about. Diana was with Franz’s southerner friend and Peter was talking to the blue-gowned noble lady Gavin had been with before in an animated way that Isaac thought was put on even from across the room. Gavin was with his sister and the king and queen, Owen with the scary lady and Franz was with Turner and an old man. Turner’s fiancé was laughing with a guy whose drunkenness had taken him off Isaac’s list a while ago and Hector and Susanna had disappeared. Gene was putting out plates by the back wall and Isaac turned back to Nicholas, feeling perfectly observant, thank you very much. “Nobody looks tired, even.”

“No.” Nicholas sighed. “And we have class in the morning.”

“Don’t remind me.” Of all things, Isaac didn’t need to be reminded of Hugo’s history class.

“Fair enough. So…who’s next?”

Isaac gave Nicholas a look. “You?” He laughed at the face Nicholas made. “I’m joking, I heard you just fine when you told me you didn’t want to.”

Nicholas’s face had coloured a little. “Good,” he mumbled. “I don’t.”

“Let me know if you change your mind, though.” Isaac still wanted to give Nicholas that blowjob someday and his refusal just then hadn’t been quite as categorical as the first time.

“I just wanted to know if I’ve already lost my pocket money or not.”

Isaac chuckled. “Not yet, but soon. I actually might go for a walk, the room’s getting a bit stuffy.” There were a lot of people in here. Which was nice, but Isaac could do to be away from a lot of people for a couple of minutes.

“That better not be a joke about me.”

It hadn’t been. Isaac patted Nicholas’s hand. “Let’s pretend it wasn’t.”

“You should go for that walk.”

“Fun talk, Nicholas.”

“As usual, I’m left wondering why I bothered.”

“Then my work here is done. See you later.” Isaac patted him again and headed for the doors of the banquet hall, through which lay the large hallway they’d come through to get in. Isaac remembered seeing it guarded and he’d noticed at the time that it was patrolled by knights and their squires. Some of the squires were cute. One of them was Leo.

Isaac wondered if Leo was still out there. His walk became a mission.

The carpet here was so soft that Isaac couldn’t even hear his footsteps as he made his way down the empty hallway. There was nobody around at the moment except some not very fun looking guards at some corners. Isaac wondered if they were just there because there were always guards or if it was because fancy parties were inherently dangerous. If he had been a murderer, he probably wouldn’t go so far as to sneak into a castle and kill someone. There had to be an easier way to go about it.

There was nobody interesting to look at so Isaac looked around at the castle instead. It was huge in a way that made it hard to breathe, and pretty in a way that must have made it impossible to live in. Isaac could barely stomach living at the academy, and that because the dormitory had normal walls and rooms. How could someone like Gavin grow up here and not go insane? Isaac felt like he could walk all day in this ornate hallway and never see another person. Hallways didn’t need to be ornate, as far as Isaac was concerned. All they were for was walking through to get to rooms that mattered. And yet this one had vases and flowers and paintings in it.

It was a bit much.

Isaac heard a faint clanking of metal before he saw anyone, and a second later a young knight came around a nearby corner, looking up when he saw Isaac. Isaac recognized him—the freckles all over his face made it easy. He didn’t know his name, but Isaac had seen him one day while out with Oliver.

“Good evening, sir,” the knight said to him, seeing Isaac watching him.

“Oh, God.” Isaac scowled. “Don’t call me that. You’ll make me feel important or something.”

The knight—actually, Isaac guessed he was someone’s squire, he was Isaac’s age—laughed. He had a pretty laugh. “My apologies. What should I call you, then?”

“Isaac is fine.”

“I’m Ty.” Ty gave him a salute, which Isaac found very charming. He wasn’t Leo, but he was cute. “Bored with the party?”

“Just thought I’d take in the sights in the castle,” Isaac told him, not hiding the look he was giving Ty. “Finally I found one worth looking at.”

“I have a feeling you didn’t come out here to look at paintings.” Ty was returning the look, which surprised Isaac a little. Maybe knights were all into guys. Maybe he should have been a knight. Not that he wasn’t doing okay for himself at the academy. But there was a certain something about boys in armour.

“Not really. Do those freckles of yours go all the way down?”

Ty smirked at him, licking at his lips a bit. “You want to find out?”

That had been easy. “Can I find out what they taste like while I’m at it?”

“I know where there’s an empty room.” Ty gestured and Isaac followed after him, to a nearby door that sure enough, hid a room that didn’t seem to have anything in it. Isaac wondered what it was for, but not as much as he wondered how much of that armour Ty planned to take off.

“You always go around randomly propositioning people?” Ty asked him, as he closed the door behind Isaac. Some windows let in light from outside, but he quickly lit a lamp for them as well. Isaac could have made a light, but Ty was being such a gentleman that he didn’t bother.

“I do when I can tell they aren’t going to need convincing,” Isaac told Ty, pulling him forward and kissing him lightly, just to test. Ty didn’t stop him. “You always accept random propositions from strangers?”

“I do when I can tell they know what they’re doing.” Ty pulled back a little, smiling at Isaac.

“So how far down?” Isaac asked.

“Pretty far,” Ty told him, and to demonstrate he reached down, undoing his belt. He was wearing plate armour and greaves on his legs, but nothing above his knees but regular white breeches and though it looked like a bit of a chore to navigate a belt around that, Ty managed to get it undone and loosen his pants. Without loosening the belt holding his sword up, which Isaac was impressed by.

“The armour doesn’t come off?” Isaac asked, hopeful.

“Sorry, it’s more trouble than it looks to put back on after.”

“Fine.” Isaac sighed, and he got down on his knees. “Sometime we’ll have to see each other again. I want to see you naked.” He could just imagine Ty laying on a bed or something, freckles on full display. It was a nice picture in Isaac’s mind, and he bet it was nicer in the real world.

“Sometime we will,” Ty promised, pushing his breeches down to his thighs, and his smallclothes with them.

The freckles went all the way down. They weren’t as numerous on Ty’s thighs and groin as they were on his face, but they were there. He even had a few on his swelling dick. Isaac smiled up at Ty as he took that in his hand. “Bet I’m not the only one who’s ever asked to see these.”

Ty grinned. “And I bet I’m not the only one who’s popular.”

“Let’s see what they taste like,” Isaac said, and he took Ty into his mouth.

They tasted mostly like sweat, as it turned out, but that wasn’t surprising in this heat and Isaac liked it anyway as he suckled gently on Ty until he got to full hardness, then started bobbing up and down on him, sucking harder.

Ty made little grunting noises as Isaac sucked on him, letting Isaac know he was enjoying it. Isaac made his own noises back, of contentment and satisfaction, so Ty would know he was liking it too. Ty’s hands ended up on Isaac’s shoulders, grabbing him. He had a strong grip, and Isaac liked having it there as he let Ty slide in and out of his mouth.

After a few minutes Ty’s grunting got more sustained and Isaac smiled, going down to swallow just as Ty started to cum, filling his mouth. Swallow Isaac did, all of it, until Ty sagged a bit in front of him. Isaac pulled off and looked up, wiping some drool off his mouth. “If you’re going to fall over, fall backwards please.”

Ty snickered a little. “Or I could just…” and he dropped to his knees, and he leaned in and kissed Isaac. “Aw, there’s hardly any of me left in there,” he said when he broke away.

“If you wanted me to share you should have said so at the beginning,” Isaac said with a giggle. He liked Ty.

“That’s okay, I’ll just get my own. Stand up.”

“Oh, I like where this is going.” Isaac tried not to expect much in the way of reciprocation from partners who he didn’t know. He liked blowing people and he liked letting people fuck him, enough that he didn’t mind if he had to jerk himself off after he was done. But not having to do that was nice too.

Isaac stood, wincing a little as his erection strained at his tight pants. Ty reached up and started to unlace them with deft hands. “You’d better know how to put this stupid outfit back together again after, because I don’t,” Isaac complained.

“I’m sure we’ll figure it out,” Ty muttered, quickly finishing Isaac’s laces and tugging his pants down, smallclothes and all. He already had his hand on Isaac as he was doing that and he leaned forward and started sucking on Isaac without any hesitation at all.

“Mmmm…that’s nice, Ty.” Isaac told him, closing his eyes and enjoying the sparks that ran through his body. Ty had a warm mouth, a nice tongue. He had his hand on Isaac’s inner thigh as he worked, rubbing him for stimulation. He had practice at this.

But he pulled back a second later. “What’s this?” he asked. He was holding up the pair of folded smallclothes Isaac had had tucked in the back of his other pair. “For emergencies?”

Isaac smiled down at him. “For avoiding stains on the back of my pants.”

Ty cocked a grin, and his hand went up the back of Isaac’s thigh and into his crack, pulling his cheeks apart a bit. Isaac felt some of Turner’s cum slide down, and Ty caught it on his finger, bringing it back around and looking at it. And he put the finger in his mouth, sucking it clean as he looked back up and Isaac. “Good thinking. Now, who put that there?”

“Someone,” Isaac told him, coy. “You want to put some there too?” Ty was still hard down there.

“You bet I do. But let me get my taste of this first,” Ty said with a smile, and he went back down on Isaac, this time wrapping his arm around Isaac’s backside and pushing two fingers inside of him slowly but without hesitation.

Those fingers went deeply into Isaac, making him squirm where he stood as Turner’s cum started to run down Ty’s fingers and Ty went farther down onto him until Isaac was in his throat. “Oh, God, Ty…”

Ty started making noise now, little sounds like what Isaac had been making before, sending vibrations through his throat and onto Isaac, increasing the sparks that were flying all through Isaac’s body. Ty’s fingers touched Isaac in the right spot all of the sudden and that was that, Isaac clenched around Ty and balled his hands into fists, letting all his breath into his cry as he let Ty have him.

Ty swallowed it all as well and he pulled his fingers out of Isaac as he stood, leaning in for another kiss. Isaac tasted the faintest hint of himself in there, but Ty had swallowed pretty efficiently. “You’re good at that,” Isaac said, smiling at him.

“You’re not the only one who gets lots of practice.” Ty smirked at Isaac, pressing his erection into Isaac’s. “Ready for me to contribute to your collection?”

Isaac had just cum but he would never have known it looking at his erection if he hadn’t lived through it. He nodded. “Let me get these stupid pants the rest of the way off.”

“I can help with that.” Ty helped Isaac push them down and step out of them, undoing Isaac’s boots for him. Isaac took the time to divest himself of the shirt too, tossing it aside so he was naked for Ty. “You’re quite the vision, aren’t you?”

“Why thank you, noble sir. Will you ravish me now?”

“Turn around.”

Isaac did, and he put his hands on the wall as Ty grabbed him from behind, the cold metal of his plate armour pressing against Isaac’s back as, in one movement, he slid right into Isaac like he’d always been there. “You must be having a lot of fun at this party if this is what you’re spending it doing,” Ty whispered in Isaac’s ear.

“I could stand around and eat fancy cheese, but that seems boring,” Isaac murmured, clenching around Ty a little. “You going to do anything with that sword of yours? Or do they not teach you what to do with it after you stab someone?”

“Oh, they teach us,” Ty promised, and he slid back out, then back in. “Slow or fast?”

“Faster than that, fuck.”

“Faster?” Ty asked, doing it again, picking up speed.

Isaac nodded, eyes closed. “Yeah.”

“How’s this?” He gave a hard thrust and hit Isaac just right.

“Fuck!” Isaac breathed in, riding out the shock of pleasure that had sent through him. “Do that again and you can do as fast or slow as you want.”

“Perfect. I do have duty to get back to, so it’s going to be fast.”

“Fine with me.”

Ty kissed Isaac’s neck. And started fucking him, harder than he’d been before. He pounded into Isaac, seeming determined to take his breath away as their hips slapped together again and again. Isaac would have been happy to spend the whole evening like this, just like this against the wall with Ty.

Ty stopped suddenly, and Isaac opened his eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“Guess we were a bit loud.” Ty said, and when Isaac looked over at him to see what he was talking about, he definitely did see. Another knight, or squire, standing near the doorway. Blonde, long-limbed, he was a little taller than Ty. “Hey, Edwin.”

“Hey.” Edwin didn’t sound that perturbed to have walked in on his friend fucking Isaac. That, Isaac decided, was a good sign. “Slacking off on duty?”

“Yeah, want to help?”

“Yeah, I can cover you for a few minutes.” Edwin sighed as he said that. “Just came in to tell you to be quieter.”

Ty’s hands tightened a little on Isaac’s waist. “Isaac, this is my buddy Edwin.”

“Nice to meet you,” Isaac told him, still awkwardly trying to look over his shoulder.

“Hi.” Edwin may not have been too fussed, but he obviously didn’t really know what to say.

Fortunately Ty knew what to say. “He’s cute, isn’t he?”

Isaac nodded. “Yeah, he is.” He kind of wanted Edwin to come closer to he could get a better look.

“You want to give him a taste?”

Isaac blinked, and his mouth split into a grin. “You don’t mind sharing?”

“Nah, we’re good friends and besides, I owe him a favour. Come here, Edwin. Isaac’s hungry.” With strength that impressed Isaac, Ty managed to swing them both around so that his back was against the wall and Isaac was on display for Edwin, without ever pulling his cock out of Isaac.

With his better view of Edwin, Isaac could see that he had a crooked smile, needed to grow his hair out a bit and was pitching a tent in those tight white pants of his. “Starving,” he assured Edwin with an inviting smile. “I don’t suppose you’ve got any snacks on you?”

That crooked grin grew, and Edwin stepped forward, fumbling with his belt. He wasn’t as deft as Ty had been, but by the time he’d reached Isaac, he had his pants down and his cock out and in hand. “Ty tells me mine tastes better than his.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Isaac promised, glancing at Ty as he bent down, taking Edwin in his hand, then in his mouth when he got close enough. Edwin’s hands came down to support Isaac at the shoulders, and Ty gave a hard thrust in, which pushed Isaac all the way down onto Edwin in one go.

Edwin didn’t taste better than Ty, just different, a little less salty. Less like he’d already cum that evening, Isaac thought distantly. Ty picked up his rhythm again, pushing Isaac down onto Edwin again and again, and Isaac relaxed his throat and let Edwin in, grabbing Edwin by the butt cheeks to encourage him to thrust with Ty’s rhythm even as Isaac bucked his own hips to it, helping all three of them pick up speed.

Isaac moaned around Edwin’s cock as Ty rammed into him, and his noises filled the air, intermingled with the ones Edwin and Ty were making. He lost track of how long they went like that, but after some time, Edwin cried out and with his balls on Isaac’s chin, shot hot streamers right down his throat.

When he was finished, Ty stopped his assault long enough to let Isaac off of Edwin and stand him back up, arms around Isaac as he smiled at Edwin, thrusting gently for the moment. “See…” he panted. “Told you he tasted better…”

“I’d need…another few taste tests before I make that…decision.” Isaac managed, voice a little hoarse.

“Let me know whenever you want to do them,” Edwin told him, carefully getting down on his knees in front of Isaac and taking Isaac’s bobbing dick in hand. “Because that was amazing.” And he took Isaac in his mouth without any more preamble.

“Ah…so polite…”

“Knights are courteous,” Edwin popped off to mutter, but that was all he said as he went back to blowing Isaac.

Ty picked up speed again as Isaac got settled in Edwin’s mouth, and Isaac forgot how to talk for a while as Ty went at him. It wasn’t long before Ty’s grip around Isaac’s chest tightened, and he started shooting inside Isaac with a sound against Isaac’s neck that sounded like a whinge. And though he slowed down a little as his cum started to run down Isaac’s thighs, he didn’t stop and didn’t soften.

“So much energy…” Isaac breathed. It was all he could say. Edwin’s blowjob was a work of art, he was doing something with his tongue that Isaac wished he was coherent enough to pay attention to.

“Runs in my family,” Ty muttered quietly against Isaac’s neck, as he gave one particularly hard thrust, hitting Isaac in just the right spot, and forced a swallowed shout out of Isaac as Isaac came into Edwin’s mouth without warning.

Edwin swallowed too, but he let some of it dribble down his chin and he pulled off, taking a breath. Now Ty stopped thrusting. “Should I stop?” he asked Isaac in a whisper.

Isaac shook his head, looking down at Edwin. He held out his hand to help Edwin up.

“Lots of stamina,” Ty said.

Isaac managed a tired smile. “At my going away party back home I kept up with fifteen guys for half the night.”

“Nice.” Ty gave another hard thrust at that, and then picked up his rhythm again, though more slowly for now. “In that case, Edwin likes kissing.”

Edwin seemed to colour a little at that but he didn’t deny it, and Isaac tugged his hand to get him to come closer, and pressed his lips against Edwin’s. Edwin kissed back enthusiastically, taking control of the kiss and Isaac’s mouth, using that tongue of his to best effect in exploring Isaac. Isaac put an arm around him and pulled him closer, until he was sandwiched between Ty’s armour and Edwin’s, Ty’s thrusting grinding Isaac’s cock against Edwin’s as they kissed.

That gave Isaac an idea and he pulled back from the kiss for a minute, touching foreheads with Edwin. “Do you want in?” he asked Edwin, who nodded.

“You want to switch?” Ty asked behind him.

Isaac shook his head. “I was thinking you guys could share.”

It was a slow reaction, but after a second or two both Ty and Edwin froze completely for a long moment. “Are you sure about that?” Edwin asked him.

Isaac nodded. “It’ll be fun. I’ve never done it before, but I’ve thought about it. And now I’ve got you both here.” The math worked out as far as Isaac was concerned. He had two people who were obviously experienced at this and already knew each other. It worked out.

“We don’t want to hurt you is all,” Ty said behind him.

“Go slow, stretch me first, it’ll be fine.” Isaac looked at Edwin, who still looked indecisive. “If you don’t want to you can just take turns, that’s okay too. I just thought I’d suggest it.”

A long look passed between Ty and Edwin, and Isaac clenched around Ty just because. He wasn’t used to having this in-depth a conversation with a dick inside him.

Finally though, Edwin smiled and he lifted his hand to suck on his own fingers for a second, before reaching down between Isaac’s legs, which Ty spread for him. “Tell me if it hurts.”

“Can do.”

The first finger was fine, even with Ty in there too Isaac had taken cocks bigger than that. The second one started to get tight, but Edwin moved them around slowly, watched Isaac’s face. All the cum inside him helped slick the process up significantly. The third finger, inserted slowly, was a bit trickier. It stung, in that way that Isaac liked but way more to a point where he didn’t like it much, and Isaac wriggled a bit as he tried to get used to it. “You okay?” Edwin asked.

“Stings a bit,” Isaac reported, taking deep breaths. “Give me a second.”

A second was a few minutes, but eventually the sting abated for the most part and Isaac nodded and let Edwin move the fingers around. He couldn’t help but think that Ty must have the patience of a saint to just sit there, inside Isaac, Edwin’s fingers up against him, and not do more than hold him steady, breathing faster on his neck as the only indication that he wanted more.

Finally, Isaac decided he was ready, and he nodded. “Do it.”

“It’s going to hurt,” Edwin warned him.

“Only for a minute.” Isaac hoped.

“Okay.” Edwin took a deep breath and stepped forward. Ty’s hands were suddenly on Isaac’s thighs and he lifted both Isaac’s legs, supporting Isaac’s whole weight and spreading Isaac’s legs to give Edwin full access. Edwin closed his lips over Isaac’s again and pressed their bodies together, and then the his head was probing at Isaac’s entrance.

Isaac let out a moan into Edwin’s mouth as Edwin entered him, slowly, so slowly. It hurt, it hurt a lot more than Isaac had thought it would, but he knew it would pass in a minute or two, it would be okay once Edwin was all the way in. Edwin’s kiss made it better, gave Isaac something to focus on while Edwin pushed slowly but surely into him, and Ty was kissing his neck and whispering in his ear that it was almost in, and Isaac let himself get lost in that instead of the pain.

It hurt, and it kept hurting, but it wasn’t getting worse, and then Edwin stopped moving and Isaac realized it was because he must be all the way in, and both of them just stood there and held and kissed Isaac, waiting for him to tell them it was okay. It was a long minute or so before the pain started to fade, before Isaac got used to the sensation, this fullness that was more than he’d ever felt before.

The pain didn’t stop, not totally, but Isaac endured it long enough that it faded to a low hum in the background, and he was able to concentrate on the sensation of the two of them inside him. That part felt nice. He liked that a lot. He pulled back from Edwin’s kiss for a second. “You can move,” he said in a breathy whisper. “Just…slowly.”

Edwin nodded and started to move his hips, a little awkwardly. This would be easier, Isaac thought, if they were laying down instead of standing. He made a mental note to suggest that next time but he definitely wasn’t going to bring it up right now with Ty moving too. Both of them thrusting shallowly in and out of Isaac, their breathing hitting him, their mouths on him. Edwin kissed him sporadically, and so did Ty, all up his neck and down to his shoulder, sometimes on his ear or even the cheek when Isaac threw his head back.

Isaac couldn’t find it in himself to talk or even to make noise beyond low whinges of need, heavy, breathy pants that didn’t seem to succeed in getting enough air into his lungs. His world shrunk to the three of them, Ty and Edwin pressing against him to either side, pressing into him, their metal armour on his naked skin, their mouths on his face and neck, their hands on his legs and their cocks inside him. Isaac’s whole body was on fire, a fire that was so good that it hurt, that hurt so much it was good, that Isaac didn’t ever want to stop.

The room was nothing but the smell of sweat and sex, the sound of breathing and exertion, the dim lamplight flickering over their intertwined forms. Ty and Edwin had found a rhythm, thrusting into Isaac in turn, one after the other in endless succession, grinding against one another. Suddenly that rhythm changed and both were thrusting into him at once, filling him deeper with every stroke, burying themselves inside Isaac.

One of them came, Isaac wasn’t sure which one. Edwin was the one who tensed, hands tightening on Isaac’s legs, so maybe it was him. His thrusts picked up speed as he planted his seed inside Isaac, and Ty followed suit, groaning into Isaac’s neck as he finally started to give Isaac his own cum. Isaac felt it, felt them, felt their frantic slamming into him, felt everything, the fire on his skin, the lightning coursing through his veins, and Isaac exploded too with a soundless cry, body going stiff as he rode them and rode out his own ecstasy.

Behind him Ty slumped, and there was an alarming shift as Isaac nearly fell, but Edwin caught him and the three of them somehow ended up on the floor in safe order. Edwin pulled out of Isaac first, and then helped Isaac off Ty as both of their cum ran out of Isaac, down Ty’s length and pooled in Ty’s lap. It kept running even after Isaac was off, down his legs, into a puddle on the floor that Isaac couldn’t bring himself to get worried about. “That was really good…” he said, speech a bit heavy. “I liked that. Let’s do that again.”

“I think you need a bit of a rest,” Ty told Isaac, smiling over at him.

“Nah, I’m fine…I just need to lay here for a minute…” Or ten, maybe. He would be okay in a minute. Isaac knew from experience that he’d bounce back from this in not too much time.

So he lay there for a minute, more oblivious to the world than he’d thought because when he opened his eyes again he didn’t remember closing them. He opened them again just in time to watch Edwin planting more seeds inside Ty, and he smiled at them. “No fair. You could have done that to me.”

Edwin pulled out of his friend with a loud exhalation of breath, looking down at Ty with a fondness that Isaac recognized. “Don’t be greedy, Isaac.”

“Fine.” Isaac sighed, and with great effort, managed to sit up. Ty did the same, and for a moment they all sat and watched each other.

“You should probably get dressed,” Ty told him after a second.

“Don’t want to.” Isaac threw a scowl at his discarded clothes.

“Too bad. Me and Edwin do have to get back to duty, as much as that sucks.”

Isaac sighed. “Okay. You’re so dutiful.”

“We are knights.”

“Yeah, you are.” Isaac smiled at them. “Do the dutiful thing and help me get dressed, would you?”

They did, and it took a minute but between the three of them they managed to get Isaac put back into his clothes in mostly the right way, and the two of them tucked themselves away to project respectability again. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Edwin said.

“For the other thing too. I had a lot of fun.”

“So did we.”

Isaac grinned, stretching a little. He was back on his feet now. Mostly. He was sore and was likely to stay that way for the rest of the night, but Isaac didn’t mind that. “I should let you get back to work. Sorry for being so…distracting.” He smirked at the two of them.

“A distraction now and then never hurt anyone, right, Edwin?” Ty asked. He seemed to have mostly gotten his wind back as well.

“It was a lot less boring than patrolling the hallways all night,” Edwin agreed, fiddling with his armour straps as if to make sure they were in place. “Which we do have to get back to.”

“Yeah.” Ty sighed. “Hopefully we’ll see you again sometime, Isaac.”

“Hopefully.” Isaac quickly gave Ty a kiss on the cheek, and then one to Edwin too. “Next time you’ll both be naked too,” he informed them.

“I think that can be arranged.” Ty opened the door, and they let Isaac precede them into the hallway. “You heading back to the party?”

“Hm.” Isaac shrugged, looking down the hall. “Maybe in a bit. I was looking for a guy named Leo, I saw him earlier. I don’t suppose you know where I can find him?”

Edwin was looking at him with something like amazement on his face, and Ty’s face split into a smile. “You’re just going to sleep your way through the whole party, aren’t you?” Ty asked him.

“I wasn’t planning on sleeping.” Isaac patted Ty on the chest.

“I think he’s upstairs. Go easy on him.”

“Don’t go easy on him, he can take it,” Edwin promised him. Ty raised an eyebrow. Edwin shrugged. Isaac had a feeling he was missing something.

But he nodded, gave the two of them something that passed for a salute. “Thank you very much, noble knights. Have a good evening.”

“You too.” Edwin snickered a little, saluted him back. “Do let us know if we can be of any help. We’re here to serve.”

“So I’ve noticed.” Isaac smiled and turned towards the stairs that he could see, taking them slowly when he saw how many there were. Edwin and Ty followed him and walked beyond, to patrol some other part of the castle, Isaac guessed.

Being a knight seemed like it was kind of boring. Maybe it was a good thing Isaac had ended up a mage instead. All that honour and duty stuff wasn’t really his thing either. He felt like it would just get tiring.

Might be worth it if they really were all sleeping with each other, though. There was a nice squelch between Isaac’s legs that he didn’t get to have very often. He liked it a lot.

‘Upstairs’ turned out to be a pretty big place, with hallways that went in different directions. And it was just as decorative and impossible to live in as the downstairs, which was disappointing. Isaac had hoped that the crazy fanciness of the downstairs was just for show where people might see, but apparently the whole castle was like that. Which he guessed made sense, but it would have been nice if he could look into someone’s bedroom and see their socks on the floor or something, just to prove that the king and queen really were regular people.

Gavin had seemed normal enough. Maybe he had socks on his floor. And maybe Isaac would get arrested if he tried to find out. Hell, maybe he’d be arrested for being in the wrong part of the castle, but Isaac choose to believe that Ty and Edwin would have warned him about that if it were a possibility, and turned right at an intersecting hallway confident that if nothing else, he’d be politely escorted downstairs if the ran into the wrong person.

Fortunately, someone was looking out for him and he ran into the right person coming around the corner that the right hallway turned into. Leo looked surprised to see him there, but he smiled. “Isaac. Fancy meeting you here.”

“Everything here is fancy,” Isaac said, before realizing that didn’t make any sense. “I was looking for you, actually. I saw you earlier.”

“Oh yeah?” Leo cocked a smile. “Nice of you to come say hi. How’s your friend?”

“He’s okay.” Isaac wondered what Jacob was doing. He hadn’t been back to the academy yet since going to speak with his employer before. He wanted to ask how Jacob had known about him being a chosen one. “I saw him the other day.”

“Good. What about the puppy?”

“He’s okay too. He thinks shoes are food.”

“Good, so it all worked out in the end. I’m glad.”

Isaac nodded. “Yeah, it was good. You must be really bored wandering around the hallways all night.”

“A little, but hey.” Leo shrugged. “Someone has to make sure nobody sneaks in to kill all the rich people at their nice party, yeah? You must be really bored if you got dragged all the way here. All just boring people chatting to each other and whatnot.”

Isaac snorted a little laugh. “A little. I’ve been finding ways to entertain myself.”

“Is that so? What kind of ways?”

Isaac gave a shrug. “You could ask Ty and Edwin. I just finished spending some time with them.” Judging by the way Edwin had talked about Leo, he had a feeling that he didn’t need to be circumspect here.

The look on Leo’s face told Isaac that Leo knew what he was talking about. “Really? Good choice. I like Edwin and Ty.”

“Me too.” Isaac smiled. “Maybe I could spend some time with you? If you’re not too busy, that is.”

“I can spare a few minutes,” Leo said, looking around. “Here, these rooms are empty.” There were three of them on the right side of the hallway, and Leo led Isaac to the farthest one. Inside was what looked like a storage room or something. There were chairs piled up against one wall and rolled up rugs against the other. The back wall opposite the door was just huge curtains. “If those were pulled back we’d be overlooking the banquet hall,” Leo told him, closing the door. It was gloomy in the room, but some light filtered through at the top of the curtains.

“But instead they’re storing their extra carpets up here.” Isaac wandered over to them, kicked at the pile. Some dust went up.

“I don’t know who has so many carpets that they have extras, but that’s what it looks like,” Leo agreed.

“People who don’t have socks on their floors,” Isaac muttered.

“Here.” Leo stepped over the pile of carpets, into a small gap that was between them and the wall. He took Isaac’s shoulders and helped him over too, and smiled. “Not that I expect anyone to come in, but it’s a nice barrier in case they do.”

“Now, Leo,” Isaac asked, innocently, putting his hands on Leo’s waist. “What do you think we need to hide from people who might come in? We’re just…spending time.”

“Right…” Leo’s hands travelled down, off Isaac’s arms and down his sides, resting at his middle. “Can I kiss you?”

“Why are you asking?”


Isaac smirked. “Not all of us have that,” he said, and he leaned in and gave Leo a kiss. Leo kissed back. “You know, I usually have a really hard time getting boys to kiss me back.”

“Their loss,” Leo said, kissing Isaac some more. “You’re a good kisser.”

“So are you.” Leo’s lips were chapped and felt nice against Isaac’s. Isaac got a little lost in the kissing and his hands started to wander, though they couldn’t wander far thanks to Leo’s armour. He was going to have to do something about all these knights in armour. Leo’s hands were wandering too, down to Isaac’s waist.

The door clicked and Leo pulled Isaac really suddenly so they both toppled down, Isaac landing on Leo behind the carpets. Annoyed, Isaac gave Leo a glare—what did they care if someone walked in? They hadn’t even taken any clothes off. But Leo just put a finger to his lips and gave Isaac a bit of a pleading look. Isaac supposed it would look bad if Leo were caught, so he relented, staying quiet.

Whoever was coming in the room wasn’t talking, though there were several of sets of footsteps. The door clicked shut and Isaac could hear them breathing, shuffling around. The curtains were adjusted a tiny bit, changing the light in the room just perceptibly. “It’s not ideal,” a man’s voice growled.

“It’s what we have.”

“Doesn’t mean it’s ideal.”

“No it doesn’t, but it does mean quit bitching.” The sharp intake of breath. “Crossbows. I want us all on our targets now. We’re on a fucking schedule here.”

Shit. Isaac’s eyes had gone wide as he looked down at Leo, who was pale in the gloom. Leo’s hand had slid off Isaac and was down on the floor, near his sword. Isaac leaned down, put his lips to Leo’s ear. “What do we do?” he asked, as quietly as he possibly could. The room had filled with clacking sounds as, Isaac assumed, crossbows were assembled and loaded, which covered any noise his whisper made.

“We have to get out of here,” Leo whispered back.

“How?” There was no way they could get to the door without being noticed. If Isaac were better at magic he would be able to do something about all of them, but he wasn’t and he couldn’t. Maybe there was some way he could make it so that the people in the room wouldn’t see them, but if there was Isaac didn’t know it.

“Move off me really slowly,” Leo said, totally still under Isaac. His breath was warm against Isaac’s ear. “And stay here. Run when I tell you.”

Isaac shook his head. “You can’t stay here alone.” It sounded like there were at least three or four of them. Leo couldn’t fight that many people no matter how good he was with his sword.

“Yes I can,” Leo whispered. “It’s my duty. You need to get help.”

“My target isn’t in the room,” a new voice said.

“Doesn’t matter. They’re just cover anyway for when Gabrielle goes down. Take the dumb-looking one in green there.”

“Got it.”

Turner. Isaac had no way of knowing that was who they were talking about. But he was wearing green. Below him, Leo had tensed even further, and he had his hand on Isaac’s waist to push him off.

Isaac tried to do as he was told. He was worried that Leo’s armour would clank and make a noise. Instead, there was a sudden banging against the wall, right beside Isaac, like something had hit it in the other room.

Nothing in the world had ever been that loud.

“Did you hear that?”

The sound of movement. “There’s someone there, behind the carpets.”

“Fuck,” Leo whispered, closing his eyes for a second. Boots stomped and Isaac looked over his shoulder at the two men looking down at him. One of them had a knife out.

“Some kids,” The guy without the knife reported over his shoulder. He was the one who’d been told to shoot Turner. “Picked the wrong room to get your rocks off in, boys.”

“Haul them out of there,” the man who seemed to be in charge said. “Slit their throats.”

As Isaac felt ice sweep through him, the other man standing over him crossed his arms. “We’re not killing some random kids, that’s not what we’re here for. They can just sit there until we go.”

“And identify us after? I don’t fucking think so.”

“Come here, you.” The guy with the knife grabbed Isaac’s collar and hauled him to stand.

“Let go!” Isaac wished he were slightly less scrawny and useless in that moment.

“Don’t bother, kid.”

Leo stood behind him, hand on his sword. “Let him go.”

“Oh, fuck. A baby knight.”

The man’s knife was suddenly at Isaac’s throat. “Put that down, kid. And we won’t make you watch us kill your boyfriend.”

Isaac closed his eyes. He stopped struggling, trying to calm himself down, trying to centre himself a little. He needed to do something useful, instead of standing here panicking.

“Don’t hurt him. He’s just here, he didn’t even see any of you,” Leo told them. It was clear he was trying to sound commanding and equally clear that he was terrified.

Isaac’s heart was pounding in his chest, but he took a deep breath as he felt the knife blade press against his throat. When he opened his eyes, he could see the Pillars. “Leo.”

“Isaac, it’s okay.”

“Leo, don’t worry about me.”

“Aw, look how brave he is,” the man with the knife taunted. “Willing to die for you, even. You’d think you’d be willing to do the same for him.”

“Okay, okay.” Leo was putting his hands up. “Just…let him go.”

“Leo,” Isaac repeated, twitching a finger to touch Dark. “I’m okay.”

The arm holding the knife moved away from Isaac’s throat. “What the fuck?” the man demanded, as he let Isaac go and fell back a step. Leo’s eyes had gone wide with understanding. Isaac smiled, stepped away from the man with the knife, and pushed with all his strength, throwing the man into his partner.

“Shit, he’s got magic.”

Steel sang as Leo drew his sword. Isaac turned and saw three more people, two on their bellies on the floor and the third standing, swinging to face him with their crossbows. Still touching Dark, Isaac grabbed the standing man and made him fall over on top of the other two.

He was sweating already from the exertion. He didn’t know if magic was hard or if lifting heavy things was hard.

“Kill them,” the man Isaac had just thrown said, and the first two had already gotten to their feet and were preparing to attack.

Isaac reached out to grab them again and froze the one with the knife, which wasn’t a useful distinction anymore since they both had knives now. Leo rushed forward with his sword out, leaping over the pile of carpets, and swung upwards at the second man. Isaac pushed the first back into the other three and, as all of them tried to orient themselves, two swinging crossbows at him, Isaac tugged harder on Dark and willed all of them to stop moving.

It worked, though the difficulty of it had Isaac’s legs shaking. He could see them straining, trying to move against his spell, but none of them could. Panting, Isaac couldn’t do much but watch them struggle. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Leo struggling with the fifth man, but Isaac worried that if he tried to help he would lose his grip over the other four. He felt stretched to his limit as it was.

Though he could also feel himself getting used to it. The strain of holding all of them wasn’t lessening, but already Isaac was struggling less under it than he had been even a minute ago. He knew that he could hold them there as long as he needed to. They were cursing at him, threatening him, but they couldn’t move. Isaac was making sure they couldn’t move. The curtain was behind them.

If he wanted to, Isaac could throw them through it.

That realization scared him and Isaac felt himself recoil from his own power a little, and as he did he felt his hold over the four men slacken. “Get him before he recovers.”

“Shit.” Isaac tried to grab Dark again but he was being rushed by the man with the knife, who slashed at him. Isaac put his hands up to defend himself and ended up with long cuts across his palms, which burned. Nearby, another hand had joined the first in fighting Leo, who had fallen.

Knife man lunged at Isaac again and Isaac brought his hand up on instinct, but all that accomplished was to have the blade slash his right hand open even more at the base of his fingers, and Isaac screamed. The knife was withdrawn as Isaac staggered back. The other man was going to stab down at Leo, was going to kill him, was going to…

The Pillars were all around him and Isaac couldn’t do anything but grab them with his bleeding left hand, a mad attempt to stop himself from being killed, to stop Leo from being killed. The Pillars collected in his hand for a crazy moment Isaac imagined staining them with his blood as he cried out half in pain, half in desperation, just willing them to give him something, something that would stop everything.

The explosion rocked the room, sent everyone flying back. Isaac’s ears rang with it, his vision was seared and when it cleared, he was on the floor with his back to the wall, and so were most of the men. None of them looked likely to get up anytime soon.

Leo had been on the floor so it looked like the worst of the magic had missed him, Isaac saw belatedly. He was standing up, along with one of the attackers who must have seen Isaac move and thrown himself to the ground or something. Leo kicked him, and the man tried to move, only to be chased. He threw the door open and Leo punched him in the head, out into the hallway, leaving Isaac alone, bleeding, his hand both on fire but also going numb. He wondered if the four men were dead. Had he killed them?

The bottom edge of the curtain was on fire, Isaac noticed vaguely. They’d been taught how to put fires out in Practical the other day, so Isaac raised his less injured hand and touched Shadow near its midpoint, clumsily doing the spell he’d been shown.

The fire went out after a minute’s thought, and Isaac smiled at the smouldering ruin of the curtain. “Super good at magic,” he muttered to himself.


Isaac looked up, saw Nicholas come into the room. “Oh, hi.” He was feeling a little fuzzy, which dulled any surprise he might have felt at seeing Nicholas.

“Are you okay? Your hands.” Nicholas came over, crouched beside Isaac, took hold of his right hand. “Shit, this looks bad.”

“Yeah, he tried to stab me a few times,” Isaac informed him, looking down at his hand, seeing the injury for the first time. It was deep, and wide, and he could see white underneath all the blood. “Oh…fuck.” He was starting to feel a bit sick now.

“Make your hand into a fist,” Nicholas told him. “We’ll get you downstairs to a healer.”

“I can’t,” Isaac said, looking at the blood. It was spurting a little.


“I can’t move my fingers.” It was funny, how suddenly he could feel distant from his body like that.

Nicholas was quiet for a second, but he reached out and closed Isaac’s fingers for him, pressing his fist tight to quell the bleeding. It hurt, having his hand touched, but not much more than it had hurt already. Isaac barely even noticed. He did notice the cut on Nicholas’s cheek, though. “You’re bleeding too.”

“Let’s worry about that when your fingers aren’t falling off, okay?”

Isaac nodded, and looked up as Leo came back into the room. “You okay?”

“I’m fine.” Leo’s voice sounded a lot more serious than it had all night. Isaac guessed he was working now. “Are you? Let me see.”

Isaac held up his balled fist, blood running through his fingers and down his forearm. And that wasn’t even considering his left hand, which was less hurt but still bleeding. “It’s fine. I’m fine. Oh, hey, Ty.” He was there behind Leo, also with his sword. What was he doing up here? “You’re a bit late.”

“Sorry about that. You okay?”

Isaac nodded.

“Here, we need to get him downstairs,” Nicholas was saying to Leo. The two of them took an arm each and helped Isaac stand. As he got to his feet, one last person came into the room, also with a sword. It was Owen, Isaac realized after a second. He wondered what Gavin’s boyfriend was doing up here.

Ty turned and looked at him. “Looks like there was another party in here,” he told Owen. “I get the impression Isaac must have blown up at them.”

“Ha,” Owen said, though Isaac thought that it was a funnier joke than that. “You okay, Isaac?” he asked, looking in Isaac’s direction.

Isaac nodded. He kind of wished that there weren’t so many people to see him like this. “I’ve been worse. I don’t remember when.” Maybe the night the wraiths had attacked. But he hadn’t been injured then.

“You did all this?” Owen asked him, vaguely gesturing around at the destroyed room. One of the fallen assassins coughed. So at least Isaac knew he was breathing.

Isaac looked down at his feet. “It was an accident.” One day maybe he’d do some major magic and actually know what it was. “I think they were trying to kill the princess.” That was probably important, he should have already told them that. Maybe Leo had already done it.

“Yeah.” Owen sighed. “Let’s get you downstairs. All of you need healing and that’s where all the magic people are.”

“We’re magic people,” Nicholas told Owen. He sounded kind of petulant, which was a bit funny.

“Can you heal?” Owen asked him. He also sounded really different from how he had before. He was also working, Isaac realized. While he’d been screwing around everyone else had gone into work mode.

Nicholas looked away from Owen, looking a bit chastised. “No.”

“Don’t feel bad,” Owen told him, turning for the door. “It’s an advanced skill.”

“How would you know?” Nicholas demanded.

“Just a guess. Seems like a recipe that would take a lot of ingredients.” Isaac had no idea what they were talking about.

But his head was starting to clear, at least. Even if that meant the pain in his hand was getting worse. “Why were all you up here?” he finally found the presence of mind to ask. None of them had been up here earlier and Isaac and Leo hadn’t been here that long. He decided he could walk on his own, extricated himself from Nicholas and Leo. They both tried to keep him there, but they did let him go after a second.

“Looking for assassins,” Nicholas told Isaac. They stepped out into the hallway, where the man Leo had chased was unconscious on the floor. “What were you doing up here?”

Isaac looked around the hallway, eyes settling on Leo on his left side. “I was…also looking for assassins,” he said, hiding a small smile for Leo. It was too bad they’d gotten distracted.

“All five of those guys were hiding in your friend’s pants?” Nicholas teased. “Wow.”

Isaac managed not to laugh and Leo went a bit red beside him. Owen patted Nicholas on the shoulder. “That was much better. You’re learning.”

Isaac didn’t have a chance to ask what Nicholas was learning before a clatter of armour and a stomping of boots announced the arrival of some more guards and a knight or two. “What’s going on?” the knight in front demanded, weapon drawn. He was Isaac’s father’s age or maybe a little younger, blond and kind of pale.

“Sir.” Ty saluted him, moving to the front. “We uncovered an assassination plot. It’s been dealt with.”

“Dealt with?” The knight sounded appropriately doubtful. Isaac was struck with the strange impression that he and Ty talked in a similar way. Something in the way their voices were pitched.

“Dealt with,” Owen agreed. “If you and your people would be so kind as to restrain these various assholes on the floor, we need to get downstairs. They’re two separate groups, I don’t suggest locking them up together.”

Two groups? Isaac looked around, into the open doorway of the second room. There were a bunch of people on the floor in there too.

This party had really gotten out of hand.

“Your response time kind of sucks, by the way,” Nicholas told the knight, which Isaac thought was awfully cheeky considering it was coming from the guy who was too afraid to tell a teacher his boot was untied.

Owen shrugged, which Isaac guessed was agreement. “He’s right. We’re going downstairs.” And he passed by the knights with the rest of them following. Ty hung back for a few seconds, but he hastened to catch up after reporting to the knight.

Isaac didn’t take the stairs as quickly or as confidently as Owen, Nicholas and Ty, and Leo nicely hung back with him as he slowly made his way down. “Sorry,” Isaac said to him as they went down.

“For what?”

“For not being more careful. I got distracted and got us both hurt.” If Isaac had just kept his concentration for a few more minutes, he could have kept the four of those men in place for long enough for Leo to finish with the fifth.

“Fuck, Isaac.” Leo shook his head. “I’m the one who should be sorry. I did a shit job protecting you. You ended up doing all the work, and here I’m supposed to be a knight.”

“I think you’re a very good knight, Leo.” Isaac smiled at him. “I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to continue spending time, though.”

Leo’s frown was replaced with a nice smile. “Me too. Maybe some other time?”

“Sure, if they ever let me leave the academy again.”

Leo laughed, and he put his arm around Isaac’s. He made it look like a gentlemanly gesture, but it helped to be able to lean on him. “I hope it’s soon,” he said when they got to the bottom of the stairs. “I’d like to get to know you. Not just in the way that makes clothes fall off.”

Isaac snickered, but he gave a nod. “Me too.” He liked Leo.

They didn’t chat much more beyond that the rest of the way back to the banquet hall, where lots of people were standing around outside the doors, chattering at each other. Owen kind of shouldered his way through the crowd in a way that opened space for the rest of them. Isaac’s bleeding hand got a few looks, but Isaac ignored them in favour of putting his feet in front of each other.

Leo let him go and the minute they entered the room, Isaac could see Oliver and Yancy, rushing over. Peter was with them. With a wave at Leo, Isaac started towards them.

“Hey,” Owen said to him before he could go.

“Yeah?” Isaac kind of wanted to see the mages now. They could heal his hand, which really hurt. Except where he couldn’t feel it.

Owen gave him a serious look. “You saved Gabrielle’s life just then. Even if it was an accident. Thank you.”

Isaac smiled at him, trying to mask his pain with confidence. “I try,” he told Owen.

“Thanks,” Owen said to Nicholas, and with a nod he broke away from them to head towards Gavin and Gabrielle.

The assorted mages reached them and Isaac ignored them for just one more second to put his arms around Peter. “Hi.”

“Hi, are you okay? You’re bleeding like crazy.” Peter hugged him back.

Isaac nodded, stepped back from the hug. Peter had a bruise on his face, Isaac saw. “Did someone hit you?” he asked, an anger building in his stomach at the thought.

Peter just snorted, shook his head. “It looks like someone tried to stab you. Let’s worry about me after we get that fixed, okay?”

“Okay.” Isaac wanted to know who had hurt Peter so he could…do something to them. Isaac wasn’t really a ‘beating people up’ type of guy. It would just be nice to know, for reference.

He spotted Nicholas, looking a bit lost out of the corner of his eye, so Isaac gave him a brief hug too. “Thanks for the help.”

“No problem,” Nicholas sounded just as awkward as he always did when Isaac tried to be friendly, so Isaac stepped back and smiled.

They were surrounded now. “Are you okay?” Oliver demanded. “What happened?”

“Oliver, let’s get the lad healed before we bombard him, shall we?” Yancy asked, making as if to take Isaac’s hand but moving aside suddenly as the archmage and Cameron came through the crowd.

“Good evening, sir.” Isaac said, wishing he wasn’t so tired.

“I’m most curious to find out what happened up there behind those curtains, you two,” the archmage said, taking Isaac’s left wrist.

“Me too,” Isaac admitted, shrugging and regretting it as it sent a spike of pain down his arm.

“Oh, let him go, Gregory,” Cameron smacked the archmage’s hand away, took Isaac’s in her own. “We both know you can’t heal a paper cut.”

Isaac’s hand stopped hurting the moment Cameron touched it, and while the archmage made a bit of a bemused noise behind her, Cameron covered his fist in her other hand and Isaac swore he felt a Pillar resonate, but he must have been imagining it. Warmth spread through his hand and up his arm, through his body. “This is a hell of a cut.”

“Good thing he missed and put it in my hand instead of my face, then,” Isaac joked, feeling lightheaded now.

“I will never understand boys and their need to make light of danger. It’s a wonder any of you survive to sire children, I swear.” Cameron sighed, pouring more warmth into Isaac. He felt his fingers uncurl as sensation flooded back into them. “You could well have lost the use of your hand if not a few fingers. You’re lucky I was here.”

When she finished, Isaac pulled his hand back, flexed the fingers a bit. “I’m starting to think being lucky’s the only thing I’m actually good at.” He was really dizzy now. His hands didn’t hurt, but they were tingling all over.

Cameron looked over Isaac’s shoulder at Oliver. “Go get him one of those disgustingly sweet pastries on that table. Sugar will do him good until he can go back to the academy and rest.”

As Oliver nodded and moved off, Cameron finished her inspection of Isaac and took Nicholas’s hand in hers. “Ah, one who knows how not to hurt himself.”

“Well, my dad always told me I’ve only got one body, so I should be careful with it.”

“A clever man. And here I thought they didn’t exist.”

“Hey,” Peter said, putting a hand on Isaac’s shoulder. Isaac turned to face him again. “Are you okay? Really?”

Isaac smiled, nodded, and reached up to brush Peter’s cheek before seeing the blood on his hand and thinking better of it. “Yeah. I’m okay. Are you?”

“I am. Guess we survived the party.”

“Guess we did.” Isaac chuckled. “Let’s never go to a party again.”

“I had fun.”

“I got stabbed.”

“Fair enough.” Peter smiled. “You look tired. We may have to postpone your reward.”

“Aw,” Isaac pouted. “I’m sure I can stay awake through that…”

“Not risking it.”

“And after I did all of this to impress you,” Isaac said.

“Sure you did.” Peter patted Isaac on the arm. “Now turn around and let the archmage interrogate you.”

Isaac sighed, turned around and sure enough, there was the archmage, watching them all patiently. “I should very much like to hear what happened to the three of you tonight, boys.”

Smiling, Isaac glanced at Nicholas, nudged him in the side. “You first.”

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