Chryslin and Arleta - Knight Move

I hugged Arleta while I thought about her news.

'Her clan mark.' Kay must have been in on it. Mom, too. I wasn't sure
about dad. Nooo... When he'd given me the robe he'd simply mentioned that
each symbol would come to have meaning to me. I thought back to his comments
when Arleta had greeted me. No. He hadn't known.

It had to be Mom and Kay.

I sighed. "Bards!"


I pulled back slightly and studied Arleta. "My robe. The design had to be
mom's and Kay's. Dad's tricky but he doesn't play games with love. "Kay's
obscure, of course. Being a seer, she doesn't have a choice." I sighed
bitterly. "Mom... Well, she's a Bard, AND a vixen. I won't say I've been a
model child. I've overheard her tell dad that I've been harder to raise than
all of her Rabelaisian kids combined. Your clan mark, not telling me about
it... That nonsense has 'Lady Chrystal' written all over it."

She widened her eyes in shock at my tone and I could see the effort it took
her to stop from commenting. Instead she sighed and pulled me towards the
door. "Let's take a walk." Irritated, but willing to follow her lead, I let
her take me away from my memories.

* * *

I'll give her this much: As irritated with me as she was, she relented and
let me grab something to wear. I settled for my cloak since people were used
to seeing them worn by both humans and Rabelaisians. Besides, I knew people
were used to seeing *me* wearing it when I conducted tours.

We finally settled on a park bench. Arleta held my hands and studied me.
"You really don't know, do you?"

"Know what?"

She turned away and spoke so softly I could barely make out her words. "I
wonder why she never told you that she's a living legend. Next to Nikki
she's considered the greatest Bard of all time. What the two of them did to
change themselves, and our world..." She shook herself and faced me again.
"Lady Chrystal cares about people, about you. After what happened to her as
a result of stopping some slavers, can you *begin* to imagine what it has
cost her to stand aside so you can make your own mistakes and learn from

I studied her thoughtfully. I couldn't stop myself from recognizing her
mood. I'd seen it too often, first in my mom and then later in one of the
twins, Becky. Dad has his own version of the mood but I'd privately taken to
calling it 'Bard's Pain'. Suddenly I was seeing it in Arleta. I sighed.
"No, I can't imagine that. Do I get a 'Bard's Lesson' or 'Bard's Pain'?"

Her head tilted slightly. "Bard's Pain?"

"I'm my mother's and father's son. How long do you think even a Bard could
hide her pain from her child, no matter how young?" I sighed and looked down
at our joined hands. "I was raised by a Bard, lived with her most of my
life. 'Bard's Pain' is the main reason I didn't follow either of my parents
when I choose my life's work." I looked up and lightly brushed her face.
"And now I see it in every gesture you've made since I let you see my
frustration with my mother. No, love, I cannot imagine her pain and I never
wanted to experience it first hand. So, do I get the lesson you obviously
had planned--or do I get your trust and a sharing of the pain I inadvertantly
caused you?"

Arleta tilted her head and studied me. "It sounds like you have some pain
and frustration of your own to share, love." She traced my lips with a claw
tip and the feelings she evoked roared through me. "We shared memories. But
it's too soon for me to *feel* yours the way you do."

I winced, then sighed and searched within, sorting throuh her memories before
I let my exasperation with my mother and Kay show again. "Appropriate of
nothing said so far, I forgot to mention Becky is a Master, too. She's the
only terran who wears a copy of 'Runner's Cloak'."

She tensed and stared at me. "Runner's?!... But..."

I traced her muzzle, stopping more. "Yeah, love. The coyotes gave it to her
before mom moved here permanently. Mom and Nikki may have changed the Bards
and themselves but to the Coyotes, Becky is *more* of a Bard than any Master
since Ash. Which gets back to my point. I've done something you haven't.
I'm the son of a Bard and Terra's greatest Sorcerer. I have one half-sister
who is a Sorceress and the other is a Bardic Master. My 'co-mother' is a
seer, along with other skills. Because of that, I grew up thinking that
'power handling' is nothing special, something I can do almost as
unconsciously as I breathe. "

I took a deep breath. "I know mom's history, *all* of it, including the
depth of the love that let her fake her own death so she could finally be
here, with dad. You're family, love. Hidden in my memories is a 'gift' my
mother gave me for whoever became my life-mate. *Her* memories, and the
knowledge of who she *really* is: The living avatar of Rabelaisia."

Eyes wide, Arleta's jaw slowly opened to hang slackly. I knew that look,
even though this was the first time I'd seen Arleta wearing it. It was
absolute focus, intent enough that she'd forgotten her body.

Eventually her mouth snapped shut. "I couldn't find a trace."

I smiled whimsically. "I never did do more than tell you what I'm not, did
I? Did you find that in my memories?"

"A 'Minstral-Mage'... Wait... An entertainer... OK... And..." Suddenly
her head snapped up and I knew she was seeing only me. "Guildmaster!"

I blushed. That hadn't taken her long, but I'd never locked that knowledge
from her.

I chose instead to share everything, something I was planning on doing
anyway, once we'd returned from this walk. "Final Slave."

She groaned and sagged against me.

I pulled her close and waited.

My arm was the first to notice her returning awareness. I felt the currents
shift and knew she was rapidly recovering and finding her balance again.

I kissed her gently, a lover's gentle kiss that said much more than I could
with words. "I don't have a choice, since I'm the only one."

"She's a legend. More, to many of us. A lot of the things in Bard's Hall
have felt her touch. They found some of the wreckage of her private sloop,
the one she was lost in." She turned in my arms to look away... "How does
she live with the pain?"

I shrugged. "She shares it with the people she loves, on Terra."

She nodded slowly. "I apologise."

I pulled her back, helping her snuggle against my chest. "No need. There
was no way you could have known."

Her hands touched mine and then firmly held them. "Chryslin 'Not a Bard'
Merlinson. You are, without a doubt, the most infuriating, frustrating and
*sexy* person I have met."

I chuckled with relief. "So. You find me a suitable life-mate, do you? I
used to fantasize about sex with a vixen." I ran a hand along her side...
"It pleases me that you find me..."

I nibbled at an ear. "Satisfactory."

I was rewarded with a giggle and some suggestive squirming. "Chryslin, if
you want to discover how *unsatisfying* I find you right now, you'll stay
here and not do anything about this!"

I chuckled in her ear and moved us back to the coach, then moved my hand to
caress her vulva. "Better?"

She started pummeling my chest as soon as she had a clear shot at it. Still
giggling, she paused long enough to reach down and insert my penis. Then,
as the waves of our orgasms washed over us she murmurred: "I forgot

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