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Authors: Lola Lebellier

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BOOK: Exile
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“And walking outside past curfew,” Piers teased, laughing.

Corin flushed bright red, looking away from the two, feeling beyond embarrassed. “I… uh….”

Piers laughed. “Relax. We’re just joking,” he replied, turning to Aless. “Look, I actually do need to get some sleep, so I’m going to leave you two for a bit. I’m guessing you can handle any ‘discipline’ that needs to be dealt, dear Master Serac?”

Aless blushed, much to Corin’s surprise. “When will you stop being so disgusting?”

“When you stop being so gorgeous!” he replied, laughing and blowing a kiss as he walked down the stairs.

Corin looked between Aless and Piers. He had thought Piers had been flirting with Master Selena, but he couldn’t help but wonder when Piers said things like
to Aless. He really hoped it wasn’t the case. Master Selena seemed really fond of Piers, and Corin himself—

Corin flushed again, shaking his head. He had known the older man for a very short amount of time—he couldn’t allow himself to think like that yet.

He knew he was attracted to both men and women. He had discovered it at a rather young age, back when he was still living in Central. Another courtesan had a son a few years older than him, and they used to fool around a bit when he had been younger, even while Corin dated a few of the girls around the village. For him it hadn’t been a dramatic moment, merely something he already knew.

Corin used to enjoy watching Kateline when he joined the monastery, but eventually his interest in her had faded. Most of the other apprentices seemed to be interested in pursuing her, and he hadn’t been confident enough to work toward it with all of the other, much stronger men working toward the same goal.

He hadn’t been interested in many others in the monastery, especially since Master Selena worked him to exhaustion almost every day. Corin hadn’t really had a chance to notice anyone, but now that Aless was here….

Corin looked up at the older man. “I’m sorry.”

“What for?” Aless asked.

“I’m breaking curfew,” he started, averting his gaze from the older man, “and I ran into Piers.”

Aless chuckled. “Piers is strong enough to withstand it, I’m sure. Though you don’t seem like the type to break rules.”

“I was restless….” Corin replied. “I was going on a walk.”

“Mind if I join you?” Aless asked, seeing an opportunity to become closer to the younger man. Despite having already steadied Corin, he kept his hand on Corin’s lower back.

Corin blinked. “Join me?”

“I already said I wanted to get to know you better. Selena’s already asleep, I’m sure, though if you don’t want to—”

“No!” Corin insisted, with far more vigor than he intended. “I mean…. Yeah, I’d like if you joined me.”

Aless returned the smile, turning around and gesturing for Corin to follow him. “We can wander around the monastery, if you’d like. Or outside, even. Curfew doesn’t exactly apply to guardians.”

“The monastery would be good,” Corin replied. He sighed, glancing at Aless. He had no idea what to say to the older man, despite his attraction to Aless, and he was so worried he’d come across as nervous or immature, especially since Aless himself was so mature and calm.

“So, is there anything you want to ask me?” Aless offered, beginning a slow loop around the main temple. “The other day I bombarded you with questions, I figure I owe you the same opportunity.”

“Uh…,” Corin began, “when did you join the monastery? Were you born into it?”

“Hmm…. I think it would’ve been about twenty winters ago, though it could be a little bit less. I was sixteen winters at the time.”

“Why so late?” Corin asked, before pausing. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend—”

“No, it’s fine. When I was younger I was known to be a powerful mage, even before I joined the clan, and, well, Far West’s military noticed,” Aless replied.

Corin stared at Aless. “What?”

“They kidnapped me from my home and tried to make me help them in the war against the Far East,” Aless explained. “I met Piers there, and we escaped together. It was funny, in hindsight…. He didn’t speak very much Common, but I could tell he was unhappy. He was so loud, though, even then.”

“I… I’m so sorry that happened to you,” he muttered, looking at the ground. Piers and Aless had escaped themilitary together—of course they’d be close. He wondered if he’d ever manage to have that sort of connection with the older man, or really, anyone at all. There was nothing like a situation of life versus death to bond people. Corin immediatelywilled his brain to shut up, lest it continue to spout unreasonable jealousy.

“We all live with our pasts,” Aless replied. “Besides, Piers has been my best friend ever since. I used to just think of him as an annoying, loud little kid.”

“I’m… glad you two are so happy together,” he replied.

“Wait, pardon?” Aless asked, chuckling. “Together? I think you misunderstand. Piers isn’t attracted to anything without breasts, I’m sorry to say.”

“But… he blew you a kiss good night,”Corin pointed out.

“He just likes teasing people,” Aless explained. “I think he may be pursuing Kateline, in all honesty. He denied it earlier but hmm… I’m not sure on that one.”

Corin thought back to Master Selena’s reaction to Piers. He silently hoped that wasn’t the case—he did think Master Selena and Piers would make a good couple, especially since the guardian seemed to be the only one able to calm Master Selena.

“And what about you?”he asked.

“Pardon?” Aless asked.

“I… I don’t mean to overstep my boundaries but do you only pursue women too?”

Aless laughed, moving his hand to Corin’s back again. “No. I don’t pursue women at all. I don’t mind saying it, honestly. I’ve heard some people have had… bad experiences, to say the least. I didn’t tell anyone back in Far South, and West’s soldiers were too busy mounting each other to care.”

“And no one in the monastery cared?” Corin asked.

“I’ve never met anyone who’s willing to speak out against it…. Unless,
trying to say something,” he mentioned.

“No!” Corin insisted. “I mean… I dated men and women back in Central. I was just… surprised. I was from the slum, so no one really minded, but I had no idea what the clan’s stance on it was.”

Now that was interesting. He’d have to tuck that piece of information away for later. “We have more important things to worry about. It’s the same reason you don’t see any real brawls between the races. If anyone really cares, they can leave and join a militia.”

“Sorry…,” Corin apologized.

“Don’t be. There was no harm done,” Aless replied. “Anything else you wanted to ask me?” He asked.

“I can’t think of anything right now,” he replied.

“Hmm…. Do you mind if I ask you something, then?” Aless asked.

“S-sure,” Corin replied.

“Why do you continue to train with Selena? She seems very controlling,” Aless said.

“She’s been able to teach me more than any other guardian,”he explained. “She’s strict, but she’s also really nice to me. Whenever I improve even a little bit she praises me. I know she could have a better apprentice. We aren’t lacking talented students in Zephyr’s domain.”

Aless bit his lip. “I see,” he replied as they finished their loop, arriving back at the main temple’s door. “So, did I manage to cure some of your restlessness? Or would you like to take another lap?”

“I think I’m fine now,” Corin replied, smiling. “Thank you for walking with me.”

Aless smiled, turning and giving Corin a peck on the cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, then, Corin.”

Chapter 11


sighed, yawning from his vantage point. Out of all of the jobs he
be doing, the training, the cooking, the annoying of Selena, this one had to be the worst. He was a glorified
, for Corona’s sake! The vessel of the spirit of
was playing the role of babysitter wingman to a former exile.

It didn’t really matter at times like this that the aforementioned former exile was his best friend. He knew he had to tell Kateline and Cyrilabout Aless’s “private training sessions.” Sure, Selena didn’t need to know, and her knowing would’ve been more destructive than not, but the others should at least be aware that Aless was taking a strong pupil out of the grounds privately.

Cyril and Kateline didn’t think it was necessary to stop Aless from interacting with Corin, but they didn’t want to leave the duo unsupervised, and of course both of them were too busy with their research to do it themselves, but “Piers never did anything besides bed apprentices and annoy Selena.” Piers could admit it was important to watch, especially if Aless went feral from his restraints, but, in Piers’s opinion, it was
playing watchdog for them.

Besides, it was not as if their training was particularly interesting. He chuckled in amusement a few times watching Aless get riled up over Corin’s lack of progress. For all that Selena was easy to anger, she was an amazing teacher for Corin, filled with rare patience for him.

Aless didn’t have the same skills in that regard,and after day after day passing of them talking, sparring, then trying—and failing—to get Corin to perform basic spells with little to no success was beginning to wear on him.

Piers watched in amusement as Aless’s expression soured, his mouth moving as if he was giving a command. Piers rolled his eyes, resisting the urge to chuckle. And Aless tried to tell him they were getting along great! Corin himself looked close to tears, unable to move the water even slightly.

“You could burn them,”
Corona helpfully supplied, finally making his presence known.

Must you bother me right now?”
he asked, gazing between the sky and the duo training.

“You’ve been boring me,”
the spirit declared. “
I’m growing hungry. You would love to see them burn, wouldn’t you? Watch as the flesh melts straight off their bones….”

,” he commanded. “
I will do nothing of the sort.”

“Then enjoy this!
”the spirit yelled. Piers immediately felt arush of heat go through his body.

Piers let out a loud shout and flung himself off the fence, back inside the monastery. One of his arm restraints snapped off, crumbling to ash in front of him. Piers crossed his arm over his chest, feeling a force flow through him. Oh yes, he wanted to torch everyone everywhere and—

Yes…. Embrace it!
”Corona cooed, attempting to take control of his vessel.

Piers cried loudly in pain, standing quickly, using all his energy to bolt inside the main building. “Sound the alarms!” he yelled. He suddenly he felt no more control and could only sit back, watching Corona’s destruction.



sound of bells rang loudly though the forest, managing to permeate even the farthest corner. Generally Aless was happy to hear them—the tollinggavehim the time sense to take Corin off the grounds and still have him back in time for breakfast safely, and he had already told Corin to stop practicing the spell—but wasn’t it a little bit early for breakfast? He pondered, perhaps he and Corin had started late, or—

“Oh no,” Corin muttered. “We have to go back, Aless!”

Aless raised an eyebrow. “That isn’t the breakfast bell, then?” he asked, sighing. “I’m certain if it’s a threat we’re safer out here than in there.”

“No, they’ll be counting on us—but you don’t know what that means?” he asked, practically shaking. “Something bad has happened, it’s calling an emergency meeting… Zephyr be damned—”

“Hey,” Aless interrupted, pulling Corin into a hug. “I promise it’ll be fine. Take a deep breath and explain it to me. If it’s not the breakfast bell, what does that alarm really mean?”

“It means there’s an emergency meeting for the guardians,” he answered. “We only had one once before, when Far East’s military was wandering really close to us…. All clan members are required in the dining hall.”

Aless pulled back from the embrace. “I suppose I’m required to attend them, am I not?”

“I’m sorry… we really should go,” he answered, flushed.

Aless shrugged, ruffling Corin’s hair. “I suppose so,” he answered, looking down at his student.

He suddenly felt an energy pulling him toward Corin. Aless looked down at him, his pupils beginning to dilate. It was that energy again, he noted, and he suddenly couldn’t resist, leaning over, pecking Corin on the lips.

He instantly pulled back and coughed awkwardly, looking back to the now bright-red apprentice.

“For luck,” Aless explained, beginning to approach the monastery again.

Corin followed a few steps behind, watching Aless in total silence.




your research yielded anything yet?” Cyril asked, gazing between the four guardians sitting at his table. The lack of restraints on Alvah wasbeginning to take a toll on him physically, and with more and more breaking per week, he had to wonder if his clan would be able to survive.

BOOK: Exile
6.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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