16 comments

Fantasy Romance LGBTQ+

Victor knew entering the Great Citadel Library was forbidden. But he saw that boy again. The one who had met his gaze in the Citadel gardens and held it just a little too long. Before the boy looked away, with flushed cheeks and the hint of a smile. After weeks of returning to the gardens, and searching every face in the crowd, Victor finally saw him again. Saw those captivating eyes and that serene smile. He had to follow.


The library was restricted to highborn, and Victor was only a lowly merchant’s son. He scoffed at the caste system enforced by the Kingdom, designed to keep his family oppressed. Sneaking in took considerable skill. The Citadel Guard patrolled every entrance, but Victor was up to the task. Victor’s nighttime profession involved sneaking into places he didn’t belong. And he was very good at it. No one could live on a merchant’s wages alone.


But that day, Victor got more than he expected. He slipped into the library and followed the boy through its maze-like halls. Crouched in a shadowed alcove in a large stone chamber, he witnessed some kind of ritual. The boy stood before a long wooden table. It was covered with vials of liquid, and countless containers of various herbs and sundries. He read words from a book out loud as he combined ingredients together.


As the boy continued, gone was the sweet charm and innocence that has first attracted Victor and compelled him to follow. But in its place was something even more alluring. Despite his youth,—he couldn’t be over sixteen—the boy possessed some kind of arcane knowledge. He grabbed at ingredients with confidence and skill, combining them into a flask, swirling their contents over an open flame. The words he spoke were foreign to Victor. But the language was almost lyrical as it danced off the tongue of the boy like a poem.


A white smoke streamed out of the flask, filling the room. It was an acrid smell that assaulted Victor’s nose. He had to fight back a sneeze. The boy poured the contents of the flask into a long, narrow vial, with his brow knitted in concentration. It was a clear, viscous liquid with the slightest amber hue.


The boy was visibly relieved, letting out a long sigh and wiping a bead of sweat off his brow. But as he set the flask down, the slightest drip of the clear liquid dribbled off the edge and fell to the stone floor. When the drop hit the ground, there was an impossibly bright flash. A loud clapping noise echoed through the chamber. Victor let out a yell of surprise before cupping his hand over his mouth.


“Who’s there?” the boy called out. “I’ll call the guards!”


Victor cursed under his breath. It wasn’t like him to get spooked like that. Then again, he’d never seen such a little thing create such a big blast.


The boy walked around the room, searching. The shadow Victor hid in was excellent cover against a casual glance. But it wouldn’t stand up to extensive scrutiny. So Victor decided on the direct approach. After all, didn’t he sneak in here to find the boy? Even if he wasn’t sure what he’d do when he found him. He stepped out of the shadows and faced the boy. “Hello.”


The boy stepped back with a startled expression. But when his gaze landed on Victor, his face softened, with a slight smile and a look of recognition. “You.”


“I saw you in the gardens,” Victor said, as if that would explain his presence. Then again, none of this made much sense, so it seemed as good an answer as any.


“I remember. You’re the merchant’s son.”


Victor bristled at the remark. Was that all this boy saw? He was clearly of high birth, and now Victor felt he was being looked down on. A lowly peasant in this boy’s eyes.


“What of it?” Victor snarled.


“I’m sorry, I meant no offense.” The boy put his hands up. “That’s just how I remembered you. My name is Derek.”


Victor’s face relaxed slightly. “I’m Victor.”


“So what are you doing here, Victor—” The sound of rapid footsteps approaching cut Derek off mid-sentence. “Damn! The guards. They must have heard the explosion.”


“A moment ago, you were calling the guards on me. Now you fear them?”


Derek lowered his gaze. “You’re not the only one who shouldn’t be in here.”


Victor smirked. “I’m liking you more by the minute.”


Derek reached for the vial with the clear liquid, secured it with a cork, and stowed it in his pocket. “We have to go. They’ll be here any moment.”


“Oh, so now it’s we, is it?”


“I can leave you here to explain this to the guards on your own, if you would prefer.”


“Lead on.” Victor raised his hand toward the exit. He wondered what he’d gotten himself into for the sake of this cute boy. It was his one weakness.


They left the chamber and entered a long stone hallway that stretched in both directions. When Victor had followed Derek in here, he remembered entering from the left. But now the sound of footsteps came from that direction.


“Can’t go that way,” Derek said.


Victor nodded in acknowledgment as they ran to their right. Footsteps echoed in all directions through the hallways. It was nearly impossible to tell where they came from. They rounded a corner but saw guards ahead of them, making them jump back.


“Damn,” Derek cursed under his breath. “Surrounded.”


“Behind here.” Victor pointed to a tiny alcove on the side of the hallway, covered by the banner of the Great Citadel Library.


“They’ll see us.”


“Not if we stay still. And maybe hold our breath.”


Derek shrugged, not seeing any other options. The two boys crammed themselves together and hid behind the banner. Victor had hid in more precarious places than this. But not with a boy pressed up against him. The feel of Derek’s body against his sent a wave of electricity coursing through him.


They both held their breath as the sounds of clattering footsteps approached. And then passed right by them. It worked. The guards didn’t see them. A moment later, exclamations came from further down the hallway.


“Did you see them?”


“Which way did they go?”


“Lets split up and search the entire floor.”


Victor whispered into Derek’s ear, which was literally right next to his mouth. “Now’s our chance. Let’s go.”


Without a sound, both boys left their hiding spot and ran in the opposite direction of the voices. As they fled, Victor tried to get some answers.


“Why are the guards after you? Are you not highborn?”


“It’s not who I am, but what I was doing. I’m not allowed in the alchemy chambers. Few are.”


“What were you doing there?”


“Wasn’t that obvious? Making explosives.”


“But why?”


Before Derek could answer, they heard more footsteps ahead of them. Once again, the guards came from both directions.


“Quick, this way.” Derek turned down a small passageway, and Victor followed.


But this passageway ended in a dead end where they came across a lone wooden door. Twenty feet above them, sunlight shone through high windows.


“Locked!” Derek yelled as he pulled at the door handle.


“I can climb up to those.” Victor pointed to the windows above. This was a unique skill he possessed, being able to scale walls like a spider. “I’ll climb up and find a rope.”


The sound of footsteps echoed down the hall. Derek looked down the hallway, up to the windows, then his gaze settled on Victor.


“There’s no time. Please. Take this to the Moonlight Tavern.” He pulled out the vial of light amber liquid and handed it to Victor. “Give it to Benjin only. No one else. Ask him where the nightshade grows. The answer is under the lilies.”


“But what is this all about? Who are you?”


“I’m a member of the Shadow Guild. This vial is critical for our cause.”


Victor’s head spun at the news. The Shadow Guild had fought the tyranny of the Kingdom for years. Victor had always wanted to join, but membership was highly secretive. One could only join by an invitation from within.


“I’ll do it. Be safe.” Victor turned to the wall to scale it.


Then Derek called out. “I forgot to give you something.”


“Wha—” Victor was halfway through the word when Derek ran over and kissed him. Victor was shocked at first, but he adapted quickly. They wrapped their arms around each other and kissed passionately. Victor felt as light as a feather, feeling Derek’s soft lips on his. Only the sound of guards approaching stopped them.


“Goodbye.” Victor waved and scaled up the wall with agility and grace. He bound from corner to corner, somehow finding handholds where none should exist. In moments, he was at the top, heading out the window. He paused at the top to look back. His heart sank as guards surrounded Derek and forced him to the floor. It was all Victor could do not to help his new friend, but he knew it was a battle he could not win.


* * *


The Moonlight Tavern was on the far side of town from the Great Citadel Library. It was tucked deep in the wharf district, down a narrow cobblestone alley. Victor jumped from shadow to shadow, keeping his presence undetected.


He approached the wooden door with caution, looking over his shoulder to be sure no one followed him. When he was certain he was alone, he slipped into the door without a sound.


Inside, the tavern was nearly empty; it was only half past noon. The main room of the tavern was large, with vaulted ceilings extending upward. Massive wooden tables spread throughout the room, surrounding a large stone hearth. One patron sat passed out at the bar, his face planted firmly on it, a half empty bottle clutched in his hand.


The only other person in the room was a man behind the bar. He was very large, with a shaved head and a scar down his cheek. He looked Victor over, then bellowed, “Come back when you’re older. Or richer.”


“I’m here to see Benjin.”


The bartender’s eyes became slits. “How do you know that name?”


“A friend gave me something to deliver to him.”


“Is that so? Give it here then.”


“I was told to give it to him, and no one else.”


The hairs on Victor’s neck stood on end as he sensed a presence behind him. He swung around to see a thin man with a mustache and a club in his hand, sneaking toward Victor. In a flash, Victor was jumping on tables, then leapt to the hearth. In one fluid motion, he bound up the hearth and stood on a wooden rafter, staring down at the men.


“Impressive,” the thin man said. “Where did you learn to do that?”


“I’ll only talk to Benjin.”


“So you keep saying.” The man smoothed his mustache with his fingers. “But Davy here asked you a question. How do you know that name?”


“My friend Derek told me.”


The bartender and the thin man traded glances.


“And where did you last see Derek?” the thin man asked.


“At the Citadel Library.”


The thin man’s eyes shifted slightly. “You say you’re Derek’s friend. How can I believe that? Tell me one thing about Derek only a friend would know.”


Victor’s mind raced. Calling Derek a friend was a stretch, since they had only just met. But Derek had entrusted him to deliver the vial and say a pass-phrase. And the pass-phrase was for Benjin alone. Finally, he thought of one thing he could tell them. “He’s a good kisser.”


A booming laugh came out of Davy, sending vibrations throughout the room. “Oh, he knows Derek alright.”


The mustached man cracked a smile. “It seems you indeed know Derek. He always had a soft spot for a cute face.”


Victor’s cheeks flushed.


“Very well,” the mustached man said. “My name is Gasper. But in the Shadow Guild, I go by Benjin.”


“Where does the nightshade grow?” Victor asked, remembering the pass-phrase Derek had told him.


Benjin’s eyes flashed in recognition. “Under the lilies.”


Satisfied, Victor jumped down from the rafters and stood before Benjin. He took the vial out of his pocket and held it out. “The Citadel Guard captured Derek. He told me to give this to you.”


Benjin took the vial and smiled. “Welcome to the Shadow Guild.”


* * *


And so Victor joined the secret guild, aimed at toppling the tyranny of the Kingdom. They gave him the codename of Talako, which meant eagle in the ancient tongue, because of the way he could fly up walls and run along rooftops. His acrobatics and stealth were in high demand, and they put him to work immediately. He had a knack for getting into tight places and extracting valuable information.


And while Victor was happy to help for a cause he believed in, his thoughts often drifted to Derek. The Citadel Guard still held him captive. Often, when Victor finished his assigned tasks, he would sneak into the Citadel dungeon. He found where they imprisoned Derek, but quickly realized escape was impossible. Derek was too well guarded.


Once, he risked getting right to Derek’s cell and spoke a few hushed words to him. Derek was relieved to find that he wasn’t forgotten. And particularly happy that it was Victor who found him. Despite his capture, the guards treated Derek reasonably well. Being a highborn had its advantages, even in prison.


Mostly, Victor hid in the shadows. He studied the guards’ movements, listened to their conversations, and looked for any weakness he could exploit. Finally, after several weeks, he overheard two guards talking. Derek was to be moved to face judgment before a magistrate. They’d transport him by secure carriage. This was the opportunity Victor had waited for.


Victor pleaded with the Shadow Guild to mount a rescue. But the day of Derek’s transfer corresponded with a critical mission, and they could spare no one. Victor would be on his own.


* * *


The woods were still. Not a single bird chirped nor a tree rustled in the wind. And then the sound of pounding horse hooves filled the forest. Five armed men rode on horseback, surrounding an iron-clad carriage with bars for windows. A coachman on top cracked a whip at four horses that pulled the carriage along.


The attack came swiftly. Victor swung down on a rope from the treetops and placed a drop of the amber liquid on to each of the rear wagon wheels. As the wheels spun around, an explosion rocked the forest. The guards’ horses bolted in different directions, leaving their riders as hapless passengers.


When the smoke cleared, the rear wheels were in ruins and the carriage ground to a halt. Victor dispatched the coachman with a quick club to the head.


Speaking through the bars, Victor called out to Derek. “Get to the back of the carriage.”


Derek beamed. “Anything for you, my dear Victor.”


Victor then took one last drop of the amber liquid and placed it on the large iron lock that barred the carriage door. He stood back a distance and threw a rock. His aim was true, and the ensuing explosion shattered the lock into a thousand pieces, taking parts of the door with it.


Derek emerged from the carriage and ran into Victor’s arms. As they embraced, Victor felt as light as a feather, like he truly was an eagle that could soar into the sky.


Victor pulled away. “We should go before the guards return.”


With that, the two boys ran into the forest. When they were safely away, they stopped and looked at each other.


“Thank you for not giving up on me,” Derek said with a wide smile. His eyes were glossy and bright.


Victor returned the smile. “You gave me something at the library. I want to return it.”


Then Victor kissed him.

December 14, 2022 01:05

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

16 comments

07:01 Apr 16, 2023

Even better, is that gays existed in this story. love the gays and also the story slays

Reply

18:04 Apr 16, 2023

Thanks! I want to make ALL THE THINGS gay!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Dan Coglianese
18:34 Jan 12, 2023

This was a real nice story. You have a talent for putting the reader in the story. Your rich descriptions are fantastic! And I really enjoyed the funny back and forth between Victor and Derek when they first met. Nicely done!

Reply

05:54 Jan 13, 2023

Thanks for the kind words. It's very encouraging to hear.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Gregg Punger
01:58 Dec 29, 2022

Fun story. Very good descriptions, and the beginnings to an interesting world. It does make me wonder why did Derek build his explosive material in Great Citadel Library if he was not supposed to be in there? Why didn't he build it in the Moonlight Tavern and why did Derek trust him so quickly? Maybe you could work on a longer piece to explore these questions.

Reply

05:22 Dec 29, 2022

Thanks. Glad you liked it. Yeah, it was just a quick little story I came up with, but it might be fun to expand it at some point, and flesh out the world and the character motivations. In terms of what I was thinking, Derek had to use the apothecary chambers because that's where the potion making supplies and equipment were. He used his high-born status to get into the library in the first place, then snuck into the chamber to make the potion. In terms of trusting Victor, ultimately in the dead end hallway, his options were to be captured ...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Karin Cavanagh
12:11 Dec 22, 2022

I love this story, it made me smile from start to finish, and especially gave me the warm and fuzzies at the end. Makes me want to go lurk in the shadows to find that special someone, lol, if only I too could crawl up walls and sneak into places I shouldn't go... I would love to read a sequel on this! :)

Reply

16:34 Dec 22, 2022

Thank you! Reading your comment made me smile from start to finish!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Nickeless Ryan
02:13 Dec 22, 2022

Pretty dang cute. I’m hooked. I’d read more!

Reply

03:03 Dec 22, 2022

Thanks! Yeah this one is certainly on the lighter side, but fits with my overall theme of queer joy. Glad you liked. Maybe I need a sequel.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
16:47 Dec 21, 2022

I love this so much :)

Reply

17:48 Dec 21, 2022

I'm so glad. I've accomplished my goal. Just want to make people smile.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
E.L. Montague
16:03 Dec 18, 2022

It was an interesting story.

Reply

16:25 Dec 18, 2022

Thanks. A bit of an experiment for me really. I’ve never written fantasy, and haven’t written 3rd person for a while. Was fun to write.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
F.O. Morier
22:12 Dec 14, 2022

You are right! The world needs more queer joy!

Reply

05:34 Dec 15, 2022

:D

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.