January 31, 2009

In Which Roderick Humbles Himself

April 26, 1156

"Well, your majesty, my lords," Father Quintus addressed them, "what do you think? Did the men do an acceptable job of restoring this old church in the Dovian style?"

It wasn't the most spectacular church Roderick had ever seen, he had to admit, but it would have to suffice; there were several babies in Naroni who were well overdue for a christening, his own daughter included. Besides, it certainly did have seating for a decent amount of people, as well as the white candles and wooden alters that were staples in all Dovian churches. The men had, at the very least, made an effort to restore the old church in a fashion very much reminiscent of home.

"I suppose it will do for now," he sighed; he couldn't afford to give the impression that he was actually satisfied with the work of mere peasants.

Beside him, Dalston smiled. "I like it. It's rather homey, is it not?"

"If you like that sort of thing," Roderick yawned, just before turning around to face his other companions. "Well, have either of you anything to say?"

"Well, it's not a masterpiece or anything," Octavius admitted, "but the men put their best efforts into it, I'm sure, and they did exceptionally well with the little they had to work with. What do you think, Severin?"

Severin nodded. "I like that it's not particularly fine. I always found a lot of the big churches back home rather imposing, and maybe somewhat pretentious in appearance. They were so beautiful that I always felt as though it was a sin to sit down too fast or breathe too loudly whenever I was in one. This church is much more comfortable."

This had been exactly what Roderick had loved about those Dovian churches, but he figured it was only natural that he would have better tastes than these men. Had he not been a prince back in Dovia? Dalston had only been the second son of a lord, and Octavius, the eighth. Severin's father was a duke, but his mother was a pagan whore, so really, he couldn't be any finer than a gentleman farmer. However, Roderick was feeling generous; he would allow them to think that their opinions were actually worth something.

In a manner quite fitting of a lord's second son, Dalston promptly seated himself in the front pew. "Well, now that that's over with, I'm going to tell anyone who will listen that my son has already thrown his first punch."

"Really?" asked Octavius. "Who was the recipient?"

"Well, me. But fortunately, he's small enough that I barely felt it. Regardless, I'm sure he will someday be an unrivaled brawler."

Severin laughed, setting himself down next to Dalston. "Perhaps he will. However, I know for a fact that your son has also received his first punch; I'm surprised Celina didn't tell you."

The duke frowned. "When was this?"

"Last week, I believe," Severin replied. "Celina brought Lorn over, and he stole a toy rabbit my stepmother sent for my daughter, and Raia hit him. She also punched my steward, come to think of it. It was her way of telling him she didn't approve of his new hairstyle; naturally, he's back to wearing it the same way he did before."

"Well, at least you know she'll be able to deal with any unwanted suitors when she's older," teased Dalston.

"And stewards with ugly hairstyles," added Severin with a grin.

Octavius, who had occupied the pew directly behind them, sent a glance Roderick's way. "Any interesting stories about Ietrin or Leara, Roderick?"

"No," he answered bluntly. His own children, like Dalston's son and Severin's daughter, were nowhere near the age at which they began to become even somewhat interesting. "Anyway, there is a matter I must speak with Father Quintus about. Feel free to continue discussing babies like a roomful of women."

"Will do," Severin promised. "So, Octavius, how's Medea finding pregnancy?"

Octavius shook his head. "She's hating every minute of it. You see..."

"Anyway, while they're distracted," Roderick began as he approached the priest. "I have confession to make--I have sinned. I know that sounds impossible, since I am a king, but I assure you, Father, that we kings do sin too."

"Oh, I know that, your majesty," Father Quintus assured him. "I have read the Bible, after all... well, not Numbers. Numbers is a very dull read. Oh, and I skipped Leviticus too... and maybe Deuteronomy... but nevertheless, I still have read enough to know that kings do sin. Anyway, your majesty, what is this sin of which you speak?"

Roderick sighed. "Well, you see, my wife seems to enjoy our lovemaking, so..."

"Her majesty takes pleasure in sexual intercourse?" inquired Father Quintus. "I believe that is a sin, but I think I should read Deuteronomy before I say so for certain. But that is her sin, not yours, so please, continue."

"Yes, Father," Roderick obliged him. "Anyway, I wanted to know what it was like to make love to a woman who had a reason for submitting other than her own amusement, so last Tuesday, I spent my afternoon in the company of a prostitute."

The priest drummed his fingers across his bearded chin in a thoughtful manner. "I see. Was she good?"

"Not particularly. She did this strange maneuver with her legs and very nearly threw my back out. I would definitely not say she was worth what I paid her."

"Oh. Well, that certainly is disappointing."

"Is it not? I see now that I should have paid her after, based on her performance, just like you would tip the landlord at a tavern."

"Yes, that would be a smart way to ensure that you get your money's worth. Well, I would normally give some form of penance for the sin of adultery, but you are a king, so... my son, your sins are forgiven."

"Thank you, Father!" exclaimed Roderick. "You would not believe how good it feels to finally get that off my chest. I know, I know, I'm a king and I can do whatever I want, but I did feel rather guilty; after all, I do have a wife and children."

Father Quintus nodded. "Thank you for your display of humility, your majesty. It is a charming thing, for the king to be the first confessor in his kingdom."

"The first?" the king repeated. "But you've been here in Naroni for over half a year!"

"Well, what can I say, your majesty? It would seem that the more godly of peasants chose to remain in Dovia," surmised Father Quintus.

"True. Oh well, I trust you to shepherd these lost lambs, Father."

"I hope I do not fail you, your majesty."

Father Quintus tilted his head slightly. "Your majesty, I must thank you for confessing your sins to me. It was very responsible and humble of you, and the Lord is surely smiling down upon you as we speak."

"Well, what can I say?" piped up Roderick, hoping that his sudden pride was not an absolutely horrible sort of sin. "I am king; I must set a good example for my subjects."


January 26, 2009

In Which Electra Has a Feeling

April 5, 1156

Almost three months, Electra counted. Two months, three weeks, and five days, to be precise, since she had slept with Florian.

Also, it had been three months and four days since the last time she'd bled.

She didn't really know what to think of this. On one hand, she had always wanted a baby of her own.

On the other, Evera would be enough to care for when Florian died.

And then of course, there was the fact that she had already lost five babies and she didn't know if she could bear to lose a sixth.

Nevertheless, she couldn't help but smile. She knew she had no reason to... but at the same, time there was this nagging feeling that just kept tugging at her heart, reassuring her, willing her to realize that everything was going to be just fine.

Maybe she was just telling herself what she wanted to hear. Or maybe she was just crazy.

But then again, maybe she wasn't.

"Don't you worry, my love," she cooed fondly, placing one hand on her slightly swollen belly. "You'll be just fine come October; I can feel it."


January 25, 2009

In Which the Author Introduces the Q&A Blog

Hello. I just thought I'd let everyone know that since I was feeling bored today, I've created a Question and Answer blog. I'm not sure how much of a point there was in doing so, but if anyone has any pressing questions in regards to Naroni, feel free to pop in there and leave your question as a comment wherever you feel it's appropriate. For future reference, the link can be found under the "Useful Links" on the side of the page.

Of course, feel free to also ask questions on this site too.

Now, in a weak attempt to apologize for needlessly interrupting your day, here are the rest of the old age/sex change pictures I had lying around. The first one, King Roderick's, can be found here. Excuse the poor quality of these pictures, they're pretty old. Have a nice day, everyone! *runs off to finish next Ashelia chapter*

January 24, 2009

In Which Alina Requests a Bedtime Story

Okay, so I'm relatively new to blogging, and therefore I'm not quite sure about what merits a warning and what doesn't, but I figure just to be on the safe side, I may as well warn anyone who may have stumbled upon this page that about half the pictures in this post contain some degree of nudity. Nothing too explicit is shown, at least in my opinion, but my definition of "explicit" may not be the same as everyone else's, so please bear that in mind if you choose to proceed with the post. Now that that's been taken care of, on with the chapter.

February 14, 1156

Alina had no idea exactly what Severin was doing to make Raia stop crying, but whatever it was, it was certainly working. No longer could the little girl's wails be heard; the only sound that carried from the nursery was that of a grown man's soothing whispers.

Raia never stopped crying for Alina. She could sing, talk baby-talk, rock her, cuddle her... nothing worked. But for Severin, it came as naturally as breathing. What was wrong with her? Honora, Celina, even young Thetis... they didn't need their husbands to calm their babies for them. They were perfectly capable of doing it themselves--why wasn't she?

It didn't even make any sense. Alina was the youngest of ten children--by the time she had turned six, she was already an aunt. At twenty, she now had six nephews and seven nieces, all between the ages of fourteen and almost two.

Severin, on the other hand, was only anyone's uncle by marriage, and had only been so for little more than a year; he hadn't even seen any of his new nieces or nephews since he had become their uncle, and had certainly never spent much time with them as babies. He had one known half-brother, who had no children of his own yet. Severin, she was sure, had spent barely a few hours with any baby other than Raia since he had been not much more than a baby himself.

And yet, he was the one who always knew what their daughter wanted, the one the baby could always depend on; no matter what Alina did, it never seemed to measure up to the standard Severin had unintentionally set.

She felt awful, resenting him like this, he who had loved her all her life. And what right did she have to feel this way? Why should a woman be displeased with the fact that her husband was a good father? It made no sense. All he was doing was proving once again that she had the most competent husband in all of Naroni, and she had never been so inwardly frustrated with him.

"Well, she's asleep," he assured her needlessly as he entered through the nursery door. "Now you can turn in yourself, Princess."

Alina grimaced. "I'm feeling a little restless; I suspect I'll have trouble sleeping tonight anyway."

"Well, how about that?" Severin chuckled as he joined her on the bed. "I'm feeling rather restless myself; maybe we should be restless together."

"Men," sighed Alina. "I speak with my mouth, and you promptly reply with your testicles. You men truly do believe the earth revolves around sex, don't you?"

"On the contrary, my love, the earth does not revolve around sex; it revolves because of sex."

She shook her head. "Severin?"

"Yes, Princess?"

"You're a pig."

Severin laughed; clearly, he was not in a mindset to take anything seriously. "I don't know, I'd have to say I'm more of a dog; good luck finding a pig as eager to shower every inch of you with kisses as I am."

"I'm going to assume you didn't pick up on the implied 'Shut up'," Alina giggled despite herself. "Anyway, how on earth did you get her to sleep so fast?"

"Oh, it wasn't too difficult," he insisted. "Turned out all she wanted was a bedtime story."

Alina rolled her eyes. "Severin, Raia is only four months old--she couldn't possibly appreciate a bedtime story at her age."

"Well, it worked, didn't it? Either she's one hell of a smart four-month-old, or I'm the Naron God of Spoken Prose."

"The former more likely than the latter, I'd say," deduced Alina, a sudden idea crawling into her head, "but if you feel the need to prove yourself divine, you blasphemous old pagan, then why don't you tell me a bedtime story?"

Severin's eyes narrowed. "Princess, I haven't had to tell you a bedtime story since you were six years old. Must you spring this upon me now, after all these years?"

"Well, you were only nine yourself," she pressed. "I daresay you're a much better storyteller nowadays."

"Not possible. I was a master of the craft at nine. You heard my finest work as a little girl."

Alina smiled. "Prove it."

Severin bit his lip. "Fine. Once upon a time..."

"Wait!" Alina cut him off, pushing herself upwards and lightly stepping onto the floor. "Just let me get comfortable first."

"Whatever you say, Princess," sighed Severin.

Hastily, she pulled off her nightgown and tossed it onto the nearby couch, then set herself back on the bed, wearing nothing but a naughty grin.

"Well, Princess!" exclaimed Severin in shocked delight as he looked her up and down. "I must say, I like your definition of 'comfortable'."

"Naturally," she agreed, "seeing as it goes quite nicely with your own definition of 'restless'."

"Indeed. Take your 'comfortable' and my 'restless', and I think we have ourselves the universal definition of 'fun'."

Suddenly, he slung his legs off of the bed and stood.

"Where do you think you're going?" demanded Alina. "You have to tell me a bedtime story."

"Just let me get comfortable first."

She couldn't help but watch in awe as he removed his clothing. She felt like a little girl studying the angel statues in the catacombs--she knew she shouldn't look, but at the same time, there was nothing to stop her.

"That's much better," he muttered between gritted teeth as he returned to the bed. "Now... story time."

"Severin?" Alina addressed him.

"Yes, Princess?"

"Before we begin... I'm cold."

He smiled. "I can fix that."

Alina gave a half-false contented sigh as Severin shuffled toward her, taking her hand and slinging his free arm around her. "Now, once upon a time, there was a little kingdom ruled by a very silly king."

"Silly?" she repeated.

"Very silly," Severin confirmed. "This silly king lived in a castle on a hill, near the border of his land, which just goes to show how silly he was; a king who wasn't so silly would have lived in a castle near the center of his kingdom."

Alina giggled, noting the unusually high pitch of her own laughter. "Did this silly king have a beautiful queen, by any chance?"

"Oh yes, his queen was exquisitely beautiful," he agreed. "Almost as beautiful as you are, Princess, but nowhere near so virtuous. The beautiful queen had many notches in her bedpost, including the young royal steward, the duke of the shire north of the king's, the father and five brothers of the most fair and radiant maiden in all the world, both of her own two brother-in-laws, and the father of the dashingly handsome lord who ruled the shire to the east."

Alina fidgeted slightly. "Severin?"

"Yes, Princess?" he addressed her.

"Is the title of this story by any chance something along the lines of 'How the Dashingly Handsome Lord Went to See the Silly King at the Border Castle Only to Be Blatantly Pursued by the Not-So-Very Virtuous Queen, but Somehow Resisted Temptation and Journeyed Home to Tell a Bedtime Story to His Sweet Baby Daughter'?"

"Well... close," admitted Severin, "but you missed the last part, Princess--and that, if I do say so myself, is the most important part."

"What is the last part?"

"'...and to Make Passionate Love to His Most Fair and Radiant Wife'."

"Oh, I wouldn't be too sure about that part," lied Alina, "although mind you... his most fair and radiant wife certainly is very... restless."

Severin gently pulled her a little closer. "And the dashingly handsome lord himself is most definitely quite... comfortable. Are you bleeding, Princess?"

"Not since yesterday," she assured him.

"Are you willing to risk not bleeding for another nine months or so?"

"Severin," she moaned as he climbed on top of her, "you wouldn't believe how much I miss those nine months."

She had definitely been happier when she was pregnant, she told herself once again as Severin's tongue slipped past her lips and began spiraling around her own, as he gave his initial and subsequent thrusts, as he pressed himself further inside of her and that now-familiar sensation of pleasure began to spread from between her thighs. In those nine months, she had felt more a mother than she had in the four since her daughter had been born; in those nine months, it had been her task alone to take care of the baby, and there was no way that Severin could have helped at all, aside from putting her there in the first place.

She hoped he didn't realize what was wrong; she didn't want to hurt him. Normally, Alina was not one to lie back and think of her country--every other time, she had enjoyed, reacted, screamed his name to the rhythm of the headboard pounding against the wall. But this time... this time, as pleasurable as it was, she had a motive.

A strong surge of relaxation came over her, one she did not deserve. Why had he let her finish? If he had known her reasons, he would have just kept on thrusting until he himself was satisfied, regardless of whether or not she herself experienced any physical pleasure. Or would he? Perhaps not. Perhaps, no matter how awful she was, he would always let her feel that pleasure; tonight, she did not deserve this man.

"I love you, Alina," he whispered as he withdrew. "I wish they'd invented words to say just how much."

"Severin..." she moaned dully. "Severin... I have to wait a month..."

He raised an eyebrow. "What for, Princess?"

"To see if I... if I get the next eight as well."

She'd been happier when pregnant--and with a second baby would come a second chance.

"I see. Well, good night, my love."

He kissed her once more as he gently lowered her to the mattress, then retreated to his side of the bed and buried himself under the blankets. She prayed she hadn't hurt him; she hoped he would understand.

"Severin?" she whispered as she joined him beneath the cloths and skins.


"I love you," she told him.

A tired grin on his face, he reached across the bed and took her by the hand. "I know, Princess; I know."