Whoops, forgot to put up last week's free read.
I have a 5 part short story running in Silver Publishing's wonderful free weekly anthology, Silver Shorts. It's a romantic fantasy comedy about a ancient Archmage who received his heart's desire via a delicious prank. Here's part one.
Table for Five, Part 1
The duo of desire planned my fate.
During the dreary endless meeting, the scheming men glanced at me and whispered in their subtle fashion. My lovers knew their playful glances irritated me. My piercing glares shot across the high-ceilinged stone chamber but my scolding seldom affected my exuberant twosome. The kissing cousins had endured my icy glares, stares, and regal expressions since they arrived at my castle for magical training. Over the years, the decorative pair had failed as wizards, but they excelled at other, more physical pursuits, indeed, they excelled to a fault.
My lips offered them a sickeningly sweet smile. The expression felt alien. Ah ha, my expression gained me their full attention before they returned the silly expression twofold. They knew me all too well. Better to use my ugly glare against them.
Perhaps they spoke of trivial matters like tonight's dinner or tomorrow's hunt. How sad, my ancient mind always sought conspiracies and trouble. The concept never bothered me since paranoia had allowed me to remain breathing for many decades. I trusted my instincts.
Today their limited attention span seemed justified. The exceptionally dull meeting strained my legendary diplomatic concentration. William Anders, Steward of far Northern Allrich, droned on in such tiresome detail that I desired a calendar to see if we had been trapped here for months.
The temptation to snore teased me.
Unfortunately, napping during a crisis meeting did not fit into my persona. If I fell into a snoring slumber, rumors describing my addled condition would travel across the continent in seconds. Unfair. In my mind, I performed marvelously for a 700 year old Archmage.
Anders' voice rose in real anger. I arched my brows in interest and focused on him.
One finger pointed at the carved ceiling. "My friends, due to too many failures last century, a storm is brewing in poor Allrich. Supreme evil plagues my fair nation. Once again, the deadly Tubron clan has violated the Crimson Peace. They raid my nation. The savages take unholy pleasure in butchering helpless citizens. Archmage, you have helped in the past, but I fear your force did not strike enough fear into the foul barbarians."
I blinked and sat up. Anders openly criticized me? How novel. Surprising to learn that the man owned a stiff spine. I waved my hand in dismissal. "My dear man, yes, ten years ago my brave Southern warriors failed to grind the tiresomely violent Northern barbarians into blood sausage. But their sacrifice did gain your realm ten renewed years of peace."
Butchering and sausage reminded me that I missed lunch. Dreadful.
I held up one finger. "I also recall you asked me not to deploy certain magics along the border. This year, I advise you to reconsider my offer." I trained my gaze on Lord Voltan. "My lord, would you be so kind as to offer your advice on focused border magic? I believe we were quite successful in defeating that scorpion plague set on you by the Dismal Sphere."
"Of course, Archmage." Voltan stood and stole the meeting from the blustering Anders. Splendid.
My mind drifted again. Damn, I wanted to wander in my lovely hybrid roses. This week they looked spectacular in shades of midnight purple and cobalt blue. They needed their monthly pruning.
Hmm, wait, I sounded like a doddering old codger playing in the dirt. Still, my gardening soothed my soul. A week without a merry muck in the mulch meant wicked evil plagued the continent. Indeed, much like this week.
My bored stare monitored the two imps whispering again. Off to the right Lord Mangkut, the third in my trio of terror, offered me his completely blameless look. An exaggeratedly innocuous vision of wide blue eyes and wavy golden hair met my sudden glare. I never told Mangkut how his intense innocence increased his guilt. I kept that observation close to me. My dear Mangkut achieved his innocent zenith.
My random gaze shifted to Kiwano, West Solonia's splendid young prince. At sensing my casual glance, the young Prince's radiant smile instantly blinded me. Hmm, was it my imagination, or did his smile appear more seductive than normal? Or did I think with my suddenly stiff cock? I certainly wouldn't mind stripping Kiwano naked and licking his flesh. I dreamed that his smooth skin tasted like whipped cream, lemons and sunlight.
The flustered Anders started talking over Voltan. Sigh. Enough listening to the droning bore. I stood and clapped my hands. "Alas, an urgent matter just made itself known to me. Excuse me, I must make haste. Please carry on."
I adored using that classic escape method. Only this old mage could use it to great effect.
I needed to walk among my roses for a few minutes. How fun; compatriots who hadn't see me in a few decades remarked on how relaxed and cheerful I now acted. Blame my attitude adjustment on pranks—a series of extremely sexy, amusing, and dangerous pranks orchestrated by my trio of lovers. How they treated me wasn't anything I wanted to share with my realm; I didn't want everyone knowing how the lofty Archmage of Southern Solonia had discovered a taste for being tied up and teased. The revelation seemed unwise.
My lovers forced sexual fun on me. They grew expert at surprising me. A previous prank, one I filed under dangerous, involved securing me to a secluded fir tree and using my body for archery practice. Madness. Arrows dipped in rare red honey thudded into the surrounding bark but, due to their archery prowess, the barbs never pierced my skin. After the sticky mess splattered my body, my captors licked away the vermilion sweetness. Slowly. Deliberately. Three hot wet tongues simultaneously stroking my delighted flesh made me whimper like a happy ancient baby.
The torment by hair prank was another classic. There was nothing like being drugged, stripped naked, chained, revived, then tickled by long silken hair. For hours. I laughed in such intensity that the next day's speech emerged in a ridiculously hoarse voice. I sounded like I had swallowed a pound of river gravel. During those blissful hours, I had orgasmed until I feared my old balls might rupture.
Naturally, the pranks improved my spirits.
I smiled and sniffed a rose. The Western Solonia Prince's frequent visits also improved my spirits. King Jenar preferred to remain in his castle and wax hysterical about the blight infecting his forest kingdom. Not that I blamed him for acting hysterical. If a poisonous plague of black salamanders cavorted in my heavily-spelled back yard, I'd also act twitchy. Nothing like an inter-dimensional spell gone wrong to spoil a pretty green realm. I had warned Jenar not to trust a Wizard from inferior, disorganized East Solonia. Tsk-tsk, welcome to an irksome problem. Sad. The entire continent has grown messy from too much amateur spell casting.
I wondered how cranky, twitchy Jenar had created such a serene son. Prince Kiwano regarded everyone as fascinating, which made judging his actual preferences difficult. Kiwano treated me with perfect courtesy and well-mannered respect. How screamingly dull.
I wanted to ask him to join me for a candlelit dinner on my private seaside terrace, but my uncertainty crippled me. Disgraceful. Unfortunately, I wasn't accustomed to handling rejection. Rejection never came naturally to a well-respected Archmage.
Of course I could force him to desire me, but come now, this old mage owned moral standards.
I shook my head. Time to escape before someone caught me not attending to a mystical emergency.
Five minutes later I sat on my terrace sipping mead and staring at the sea. Blessed relaxation swept through me. But wait... I blinked in instant suspicion. No. Rambutan, you old idiot, they did it again! This was the second time they had spiked my mead. When I tried rising, I thudded into my chair. My legs became useless jokes. Everything merged and bled together into a wash of extremely odd colors better suited for exotic jungle blooms. What did they slip me this time?
Bother, just give in and give up...