Jarin was bored. He had been observing and repeating the same fighting maneuvers for over an hour now, and they were already burned into his memory. To him, learning to fight was pointless. He was a noble, and would always have people to protect him.
The instructor placed his weapon aside and smiled at the students in front of him, dismissing them. Jarin stood up and slid his sword back into its sheath. He could feel someone watching him as he took his hand away. He turned to find one of the other boys staring at him. That was common, since he was the son of the high lord. Glancing at him silently, he started to walk out.
"That’s a nice sword you have there," the other boy stated, without hesitation. "I have been trying to place you all afternoon."
At that, Jarin rolled his eyes and turned to face him fully. "Really, now. Just who am I, then?" He was not the least bit surprised that someone had recognized him, but he did not like it when other people took note of who he was.
The other boy stepped back, sizing him up twice with his eyes. "Well, judging from your clothing and demeanor, you must be Lord Jarin, son of High Lord Nathaniel," the boy smiled, confident in his conclusion.
Jarin thought for a moment, then smiled. "Everyone knows who I am. If you can tell something personal about me, I will change my conclusion that you are only talking from common knowledge."
The boy thought for a moment, then grinned. "You store your sword in the upper compartment of the armory, so no one can mess with it."
Jarin cocked his head, intrigued. He was always careful when putting his sword away, to not let people see where he put it. It was strange that this boy would know that.
"Okay, you’re good. How do you know that?" he regarded the other boy curiously. "Who are you? You should really consider going into my father’s intelligence agency."
The other boy laughed. "I have considered it. My name is Adriel. My father is the captain of your guard."
Jarin nodded. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Would you care to join me for a horseback ride?"
"Sure," Adriel grinned.
They went riding, and for the next six years, were inseparable.
"You know, Clarisa should have been mine," Adriel sighed, tightening the girth on his saddle. "I mean, we’ve known her a lot longer than that cousin of yours she was paired with. It just isn’t fair."
Jarin shrugged, then swung up into his saddle. "It’s a matter of status. He’s the son of a lord, and you’re the son of the captain of the guard," he paused. "Besides, do you really want to be tied down in a relationship?"
Adriel groaned, throwing his friend a dirty look. "You always have to put things into perspective, don’t you? You do have a point about being tied down, though." He handed his reins to Jarin while he mounted his horse.
Jarin laughed. "At least you have a chance around here, with all the other women. That’s better than I have, not that I want to be tied down." He repeated his point from a moment ago.
"True," Adriel leaned down to tighten his girth again, while staying on his horse. Only Adriel knew Jarin did not have any romantic interest in women.
They started down the beaten trail that they had chosen, riding in silence. Adriel finally spoke. "You know, there’s hope for you, also," he said quietly, studying his friend. "Maybe if you flirted once in a while, someone would notice you."
"Right," Jarin said sarcastically. "That’s really going to happen with my father around, and without looking like a freak. I’d say, just forget about it."
Adriel grinned. "Just leave it to me. I’ll bet you my horse I can find someone for you by the time your birthday comes," he challenged.
Jarin rolled his eyes, but shook his friend’s hand, anyway. Adriel had a nice horse, and Jarin was confident he had just acquired the animal for himself. "All right then, you have a month."
"I can find someone by then," Adriel nudged his horse into a trot. "You’re on."
They raced across the field, taking advantage of the open space before they had to slow down to go through the woods.
Once they got there, Jarin smiled. "Are we splitting up again?" He was asking, because that was what they usually did this to add more adventure to their ride. When Adriel nodded, Jarin spoke again. "Let’s meet at the rocks, okay? Can you get there from that trail?" The trail Adriel was taking was fairly new to them, and Jarin wanted to make sure he would not get lost.
Adriel raised an eyebrow skeptically. "I should be able to get to the rocks from any trail, so yes, I will be fine."
Jarin nodded again, laughing at his friend’s confidence. "Alright, we’ll meet up there, then." He started down his own trail. He had to pay close attention to his horse, because she was not completely trained, and was still unsure in the woods. She danced around, pulling at the bit, wanting to go faster. Jarin held her back, petting her neck to calm her down. He made a mental note to ride a different horse on a ride like this next time. It would put less strain on his arms, and be more fun.
He could not help feeling her nerves, however, as they rode on. It felt like the woods had unseen eyes, watching their every move. Jarin took his mind off the strange feeling by concentrating on his horse. It seemed to calm them both down considerably.
A while later, Jarin loosened the reins, letting the mare trot. He remembered the clearing that lay not far ahead, and he felt comfortable with the pace. He closed his eyes briefly, enjoying the rhythm of his horse’s gait, only to open them a second later, when he heard the footing change from the soft ground to rocks. Jarin fought to pull the mare back to a walk, aware of the dangers of trotting over rocks.
After a moment of this, she stopped suddenly, focusing her attention on something unseen. Snorting loudly, she ran toward the edge and turned sharply. Jarin, who had been trying to take control of her, and, not paying attention to his own balance, was thrown off. He rolled to the edge of the cliff, unable to stop his own momentum. He grabbed onto a tree branch to keep from going over the edge. Pushing against the rock to pull himself up, he was on the verge of panic. His anxiety increased when he heard soft footsteps approaching. It didn’t sound like Adriel.
"Let go with one hand and raise your arm," the male voice that spoke was quiet and calm, with the slightest hint of a rasp to it.
Jarin grimaced. "Are you insane? If I let go, I will fall. I’ll just..." the thought trailed off, since he did not have any better ideas.
He heard a soft laugh, which angered him. "What did you have in mind, hanging there all day? If that was your original intention, your arms will give out, and you will end up falling, anyway," the man snorted. "Just do as I say. This’ll work."
Jarin hesitantly let go with his right hand and raised it slowly, knowing the man was right. He heard rustling for a moment, then nothing.
"You might want to close your eyes," he heard, second before a rope fell around him. Grabbing it, Jarin leaned into the tension.
"Now, lean on the rope and pull yourself up. It’ll hold you. Just trust me," the voice sounded strained, which worried Jarin slightly.
As soon as Jarin braced himself, the rope tightened even more. He was able to pull himself up easily now, as the man had said. Once he was on level ground, Jarin lay there, catching his breath. Remembering the rope, he pulled it off.
When he had regained his senses, Jarin pulled himself into a sitting position. Now curious about his rescuer, he looked up. He saw that it was not a fully grown man, but a boy around his own age. He was busy gathering the rope, and did not look at him. Jarin took that moment to study him.
The boy was shorter than Jarin, but more muscular with straight, light blond hair that brushed his shoulders. His skin was fair, and lightly freckled. He was dressed in tight, solid black clothing that covered everything except his arms, which were bare to his wrists, where the black gloves he wore began.
The other boy finally looked up, studying Jarin carefully. "You should check yourself over before you try to stand, to make sure you aren’t injured," the boy said.
"Uh, okay," Jarin smiled, now somewhat flustered now, seeing that the other boy was quite good looking. He felt his arms and legs, satisfied there were no obvious injuries. He started to stand, then winced as a sharp pain shot through his left side.
The other boy had been watching him, and frowned. "Hold still for a moment, if you would," he said, moving to Jarin’s side. He stopped for a moment, thinking. "I’m gonna need to take your shirt off, so just bear with me for a sec. That way I can make sure there isn’t anything broken," his voice was still calm and reassuring.
Jarin nodded, blushing hotly. The light haired boy lifted the tunic carefully, pulling it off. He glanced at Jarin briefly, his smoky blue eyes serious. Removing his gloves, he ran his hand over Jarin’s skin, feeling each rib. The boy smiled and blushed when he saw how Jarin’s body was reacting to his touch, with his cock hard and pressing against his breeches.
Once the other boy had taken his hand away, Jarin tried to catch his breath, only now realizing he had been holding it. His entire body was still shaking when he lifted his heated dark green eyes to meet the other boy’s. Taking a deep breath, Jarin offered a crooked smile.
"Thank you for everything. If you hadn’t come along when you did..." his voice trailed off. "My name is Jarin, by the way," he said, holding out his hand to the boy.
The other boy hesitated briefly, glancing at Jarin’s fancy clothing. They were not of the same status, and he felt somewhat out of place. Gripping his hand anyway, he shook it firmly. "Kain," he looked at Jarin’s horse, who was now standing quietly. "Are you gonna be okay on her?"
Jarin frowned at the mare. "Yeah, I’ll be fine. I have a friend who was supposed to meet me here, so I’ll just wait for him. Thank you, again."
Kain nodded, studying the direction from which Jarin’s horse had spooked with alarm, then looked back at Jarin. "Well, if you’re sure you’ll be okay, I need to be getting back. Be careful." He walked over to his own horse and mounted. He left the clearing, glancing back at Jarin.
Jarin stared after Kain, still shaken the ordeal. He looked at his horse, thinking. Something had definately frightened her, and it had not been the blond boy. Whatever it was had not made a sound. Looking in the same direction Kain had, he felt a chill run down his spine.
Wrapped up in his thoughts, Jarin jumped when he heard a twig break behind him. He turned around to see Adriel grinning at him.
"You had quite an adventure just now," he grabbed Jarin’s horse and swung on. "Ride mine. He’s more calm, and I’m more used to her type."
Jarin frowned, but got on the grey horse, anyway. Turning toward the woods again, they began their ride home.
Halfway down the trail, Adriel turned to Jarin. "You were most certainly turned on by that blond guy, judging from your reaction when he was checking you over." He added extra emphasis on the last three words, grinning at Jarin.
Jarin ground his teeth, annoyed. "Stop it."
Adriel just laughed. "This just makes my job that much easier. At this point, all I would need to do is find a male that is willing, and you just picture your hero. We won’t have a problem, then." He yelled out as a soft branch was thrown in his face.