Copyright © Emmi Lawrence
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission from the author.
Short Story (Approx. 4000)
Lianal noted when the kid showed up. Stepped through the threshold of the tavern like a wide-eyed child experiencing the pitching of a ship for the first time. He even swayed slightly.
The boy dodged nimbly to the side, letting a few others come in from the street. Because Lianal was watching for it, he saw the boy swallow, saw him get a rein on his timidness and steady his jaw as he searched the crowded room. And when the boy’s eyes caught on the Captain, something shifted in his demeanor.
Lianal hid his smile behind his mug, surreptitiously watching as the boy cut his way through the tables, skirting the dice game and the impromptu dancing that had started in the middle of the room, two tables shoved aside to make space for the women and their mostly willing partners.
The kid had a shock of chocolate-brown hair, messy in an endearing way on the top of his head, not long enough to do more than dip against his forehead. On the shorter side, but with broad shoulders and bulk that suggested years of farm work right outside of town. Young, based on the smooth skin around his jaw and the apprehension in his eyes. Eyes that looked dark from where Lianal was sitting.
He’d bet the gold leaves he’d gotten from one of their recent hauls that the question that spilled from the kid’s mouth would end with a new cabin boy as the crew’s plaything when they set out next morning.
When the boy stopped at the edge of the table, the raucous laughter from Rasct and Dreamer dimmed as they sized the kid up. The Captain continued to study the bar wench he’d been eyeing for the past hour.
“Lost?” asked Rasct with an upward tilt to his red-brown eyebrows
“No, sir,” said the boy, his tone polite, but disinterested, barely giving Rasct a glance before he focused on the Captain once more. “I’ve come to request—”
Captain held up a hand, still not looking at the boy. He dipped slightly to stare at the bar wench’s ass as she bent over to serve someone, a smile tugging at his mouth. “Not interested.”
“Move along, little boy,” drawled Dreamer, her voice scratchy from shouting.
To his credit, the boy didn’t move. Tenacious, maybe. Or a glutton for punishment.
Captain Cavek was doing the kid a favor warning him off. Cabin boys didn’t tend to last more than one or two voyages unless taken from the harshest or most depraved situations. Had the kid been a skinny wharf rat maybe he would last out of necessity, but a farmer? He’d have far too much self-confidence to allow himself to be used like that. Even the ones who claimed to like it tended to buckle under the pressure when drama blew up and the Captain came down on the side of the crew.
Better to take someone already broken and build them up, claimed the Captain, than break a man and develop hate and bitterness that could stifle a crew.
“You’re Captain Cavek of the Boundless. The man who has outrun the eidolons of the Verdant Towers. Who has sailed past the Seven Sea Mirages to dock at Pale Port. Who has made friends with the orcas of the northern seas, calls them to feast on shipwrecked sailors. Who even the largest of fleets think twice about taking on when they see your flag raised.” The kid paused as the Captain turned reluctantly away from the bar wench. Lowered his voice. “The man who boasts hidden saltwater conjurers among his crew.”
Lianal leaned back after that little speech. So the kid had done his homework. Good for him. Lianal put a hand behind his head and scrubbed at what was left of his hair after he’d chopped it off right before they’d hit the port. He kept clean-shaven and his hair close to his scalp, partly to remove the threat of someone grabbing it, mostly because hair was a distraction when he conjured.
“And you think you can keep up with me, boy?” asked the Captain with a distracted smile as he stroked his goatee, the earrings dangling from his left ear clinking against one another.
The boy licked his lips, the only outward sign of his nerves. “I think I could be an asset, yes, sir.”
“We already have enough holes on board to keep my crew happy.”
Now the kid glanced around the table, lingering on the empty seat Sab had vacated to dance with the busty woman who’d leaned across him most of the evening. When his eyes met Lianal’s, Lianal arched a single eyebrow and smiled suggestively. Once the kid finally accepted the rejection, maybe Lianal could soften the blow a little with a trip upstairs…or outside since it was a warm night.
But the kid merely set his jaw and looked back to the Captain. “I’d be wasted in that capacity, sir.”
“It’s Captain,” muttered Rasct, but low enough only Lianal heard him.
“Oh?” said the Captain, distracted again by the bar wench. “In my opinion, no hole is ever a waste until it becomes too loose to do the job right.”
The boy colored. Not too bad under that tan, but enough Lianal could see him struggling to stand there and take the abuse being laid out. He’d seen it before, but normally only on those with true desperation. This kid didn’t seem desperate at all. Not with that brand of obstinate stubbornness.
“I’d like a chance, sir, to prove what I can do.”
The Captain was completely distracted now and Rasct took up the slack eagerly. “How deep can you take a cock and how tight does your throat squeeze? How much muscle does your tongue have and can it coax out a mouthful in the time it takes to climb the rigging? Can you take a man with only saltwater and sweat as your lube without bleeding all over his cock?”
“Can you scream on command?” asked Dreamer dryly.
To his credit, the kid kept his eyes fixed on the Captain. Mostly, anyway.
Around the time Rasct mentioned saltwater, the boy’s gaze flicked to the tat on Lianal’s neck, the one that started behind his ear and stretched down to reach towards his adam’s apple. A saltwater eidolon in the shape of a merhorse, its tail tucked behind his ear, its mane a mess of blues and dark greens, rippling like the ocean. Its eyes and mouth were white, mimicking the froth of whitecaps when they boiled over.
“What’s your name?” asked Lianal, interrupting Rasct and Dreamer’s more crass comments, that, to be fair, Lianal wouldn’t have minded hearing the answer to. On his other side, he sensed the Captain’s attention, though he pretended to be still distracted as he took a long drag on his rum.
Startled, the boy blinked, gaze dropping to the tat once more before focusing on Lianal. “Samouru.”
Lianal lifted his eyebrow again. “Sea-born? From the language of the frozen guardians.”
Samouru seemed impressed, a hint of a smile appearing. “Literally, it means ‘from the depths’ but most consider that to mean the sea, yes.”
Lianal took in Samouru’s posture and the slightest bit of hope that had entered his expression. “Have you ever been on board a ship before?”
“Nothing as large as the Boundless. Took a ship once from Highmore. Nothing but fisherman boats since.”
Highmore. That huge isle sat south of the Lucid Canal. Not what one would call a true trip out in the endless sea. Dreamer snorted, but kept her caustic thoughts to herself. Rasct pushed back his chair and gathered up some empties, obviously bored with Samouru now that Lianal had made it clear the mocking needed to stop.
Lianal let the boisterous noise of the tavern fill in the silence at the table, taking a long drink to hide the look he exchanged with the Captain. Cavek’s mouth twitched, but the look was accepting of whatever Lianal chose in this department.
So when Lianal put down his mug, he gave Samouru his entire attention as he dragged a single finger down the merhorse on his neck. “Ever felt the kiss of the sea’s waves against your skin, boy?”
Samouru lifted his chin fractionally. “Yes, sir.”
Lianal felt his heart speed up because that look in Samouru’s eyes was knowing. No wonder the kid had been confident coming in here.
Samouru shifted his gaze to the Captain, who was now watching with amused detachment, but he gave a slight nod to show he’d been paying attention and he, too, wanted to see Samouru’s proof. The boy turned to his right and lifted his shirt until he exposed his side. Dark swirls decorated Samouru’s left hip, stretching up on both sides as if reaching across both his stomach and back. The swirled legs came back around, tightening over what, at first glance, seemed like nothing but tanned skin.
Lianal caught the shape first and felt Cavek go still next to him a moment later. Dreamer had to pull back to see it, but the realization she had wasn’t faked. In the negative space made up of Samouru’s skin, the broken shape of a ship could clearly be seen, its mast falling, its hull cracking.
And the swirls, they were none other than the arms of a kraken.
“Put your shirt down, boy,” snapped the Captain.
Samouru instantly dropped his shirt back down. “Yes, sir.”
“Captain. You address me as Captain or you don’t address me at all.”
“I didn’t ask you question. I gave you an order.”
Samouru hesitated, but he responded quick enough. “Aye-aye, Captain.”
“You’re trainable at least. I’ll leave it to my First Mate here to figure whether you’re seaworthy and useful. I’ve something better to do with my time.” Then the Captain drained his mug and pushed away, heading towards the bar wench he’d been eyeing this whole time. Dreamer went to move on, but Lianal stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.
“No, stay. I think we’ll head down to the wharfs to play this particular game.”
Dreamer shrugged. “Don’t break anything.”
Lianal shared a grin with her. “Nothing of ours anyway.” He stood and beckoned Samouru to follow him from the tavern, not bothering to look back to see if the boy obeyed. He’d come. He’d come if he wanted to set foot on the Boundless.
He’d come because every saltwater conjurer found it irresistible to discover another one of their own. Lianal knew that because he was barely containing himself, wanting to rip Samouru’s shirt off and trace the tattoo until the kraken became a part of his own body as well.
And, a part of him admitted, he wanted to trace the tat with his tongue as well, taste Samouru’s skin, discover whether the boy might be willing despite being above cabin boy duties.
At the furthest north wharf, Lianal stepped off into the rocks and kept walking until he was out of range of the street lamps, standing in the dark with the water lapping only a few feet in front of him. He heard Samouru come up behind him, stop at his side.
“Take off your shirt.”
It wasn’t necessary, so Lianal hid his smile when Samouru immediately obeyed, tossing his shirt onto the rocks and freeing up a gorgeous chest, muscles rippling in what little light reached them. The dark lines of the kraken were difficult to pick out now, but the image had seared into Lianal’s mind.
He reached out and traced the tattoo lightly with the tips of his fingers, pretending to ignore the way Samouru’s breath caught. His flesh was warm. Inviting. Lianal wanted nothing more than to push Samouru onto his knees right here, take huge handfuls of his hair as he fucked in and out of the boy’s sweet mouth.
Instead, he stepped back and motioned to the water. “Show me.”
Samouru swallowed visibly and was it Lianal’s imagination or had that shadow on his pants been a bulge? Samouru turned too quickly for Lianal to be sure, and the backwards glance Samouru cast over his shoulder was once again all youthful cockiness, no sign of anything but the need to prove how good he was.
Samouru squatted at the water’s edge, balancing between two rocks as he dipped his hand in. In the distance, almost too far to see, the surface of the water rippled unnaturally in a way Lianal was all too familiar with.
So, he had to touch the water. That was a strike against him already, but a small one. Lianal could train that out of him over time. Age helped with the control. Constantly being surrounded by seawater wouldn’t hurt either.
The water lurched again and a single long arm stretched out, its deep blue color glinting in the frail light. Then another arm crested the surface. Then another. The arms moved out of tandem with one another, but menacingly, reaching in want towards the closest ship. Not the Boundless, Lianal had made sure of that, though the size of the kraken didn’t seem quite as horrifying as stories always told. Too small to crush anything more than a dingy or a sloop.
“Not an impressive size.”
Samouru stood quickly. “The water’s not that deep here, even out there.”
“And if we were out in open water, how big would it be then?”
Samouru met Lianal’s gaze steadily, not backing down, but he seemed to lose a little of his bravado. “A little bigger.”
Lianal smiled and made a scoffing, teasing noise.
“I’m getting better, every day,” insisted Samouru. “I’d be an asset.”
Lianal reached out again, this time grazing over the tattoo with his entire palm. He felt Samouru tremble under his hand. Not from the cold, because it was warm enough for a swim. He stroked his thumb back and forth over Samouru, slowly working himself up, the desire to slant his own mouth over Samouru’s growing stronger with each breath either of them took.
“I’d be an asset,” repeated Samouru, his tone becoming softer. Tantalizing. Samouru shifted forward purposefully so that he was within Lianal’s space, proving he was more than a boy, that he had experience in the way he pushed into Lianal’s hand, rocking back until their cocks grazed one another with every sway of Samouru’s hips. “And you wouldn’t want me to go somewhere else. A rival pirate ship, the White Tower’s fleet, hiring on as merchant guard?”
Too cocky. Lianal needed to cut that arrogance down before it got the boy killed. He cocked his head as if considering what Samouru had said, then conjured his own eidolons from the saltwater. Two, then four, then an easy school coming up against the kraken, biting into its soft, muscled flesh.
The kraken thrashed and the water heaved out in the distance, but the fight had been one-sided and over almost before it began. The cockiness faded from Samouru’s expression as his eyes widened and he glanced down at Lianal’s hand, then his feet, obviously noting that Lianal had only needed proximity to the water, not actual contact.
“Orcas,” whispered Samouru. Then his brow drew down. “But you’ve a merhorse, not an orca, on your skin.”
With a grin, Lianal pulled up his own shirt to reveal his shoulder. “I’ve plenty of skin to go around.” When he felt Samouru’s fingers touch the giant orca tattoo, a spike of pleasure shot through his insides. He quickly turned around, dropping his shirt, needing to keep in control here.
“Who taught you? Because your kraken was grossing lacking in fighting skills.”
“I taught myself.”
“A self-learner, huh?” Lianal would never say it, but that impressed him. A self-learner pulling out a kraken on his first attempt. Even Lianal hadn’t ever been successful with a kraken when he’d tried. “You’d do better with some real training.”
“Why do you think I came to the Boundless and not one of the others?”
Lianal grinned again. This time when he tucked his fingers into Samouru’s pants, he pulled him slightly closer, his erection pressed against Samouru’s hip. “Tell me, Samouru, what is it worth to you, to join Captain Cavek’s crew?”
Samouru brought his mouth close, close enough Lianal could taste his exhales. “I’m not a whore,” he whispered seductively. Far too seductively to be truly insulted by Lianal’s advances. “But if you want, I could learn how to conjure a merman for you. Let him suck you down.”
Lianal threw back his head and laughed, keeping Samouru close. “Why not a mermaid? With long, flowing hair and pouty lips.”
“Because if you truly wanted a girl, mate, you’d be back at the tavern by now, trying to get one to lift her skirts. But you’re not. You’re still here. With me.”
“With you,” said Lianal dryly, beginning to wonder whether Samouru would ever to something other than talk with his own pouty lips.
They were swaying gently, the kraken finally bursting apart, becoming nothing but water once more. Lianal let his orcas leap and play in triumph before he let them flow back into the currents. As the final orca pulsed and dissipated, Samouru pulled Lianal’s fingers free and stepped back.
“Was that your only offer? Because I meant what I said about not being a whore.”
Lianal laughed softly. “Captain would have my head if I turned away an unknown conjurer who might show up against us one day.” He stepped closer again. “You were part of the crew the moment he gave you an order and you followed it. This is just me discovering what to do with you.”
Samouru licked his lips, his own eyes going to Lianal’s mouth. Gotcha, he thought. There would be no going back to the tavern tonight. At least not to find anyone. Maybe to fall into a soft bed before months onboard the Boundless…
When Samouru opened his mouth to speak, Lianal stalled him by swooping in for a kiss. He held Samouru’s head with one hand, enjoying the feel of that messy hair weaving through his fingers. Samouru froze under him, then his lips relaxed into the kiss, tentatively kissing back as if he wasn’t sure whether this was something he wanted.
Lianal gave an encouraging moan as the kiss turned hotter. One hand still flat on the kraken tattoo, he licked past Samouru’s lips, his tongue taking control, unyielding to Samouru’s single weak attempt to alter the angle. Pulling the younger man close, Lianal ground their erections together, smiling into the kiss when Samouru made a choking noise as his hands clenched on Lianal’s shoulders.
Breaking off just long enough to sweep his shirt up and off, tossing it out of the way, Lianal bent to take skin in between his teeth, biting gently enough to send goose bumps springing up across Samouru’s neck. He licked them, using the tip of his tongue to drag out a low moan from the other man before sucking Samouru’s lobe into his mouth.
“I don’t…” gasped Samouru. “I don’t even know your name.”
“Was that a question?” He took a firmer grip on Samouru’s hair, pulling his head down to give him better access as his mouth worked harder to elicit more whimpers from Samouru’s throat.
“Yes. Please.” Samouru hands were moving now, stroking across Lianal’s shoulders, rubbing along the lines of his muscles.
Lianal lifted his face to Samouru’s ear again. “Lianal, First Mate to Captain Cavek of the Boundless. Pleased to meet your acquaintance, kraken-lover.”
Samouru laughed, then sucked in a breath when Lianal shoved his pants down, getting a good strong grip on Samouru’s cock and giving it a couple of lazy tugs to get things moving faster in the right direction.
“Out here?” asked Samouru, damn near choking, his hips beginning to push into Lianal’s grip like he couldn’t control them.
Lianal smiled to himself. Just the way I want you. Then he pushed his own pants down and spread his legs a little to get their cocks lined up.
“Out here,” he agreed. “Cold?”
Samouru shook his head. Lianal had lifted his face so he caught the tail end of nerves finally fleeing Samouru expression before that cocky grin came back, the chin lifted and Samouru spat into his hand and brought it down to rub over their cockheads.
“Perfect,” groaned Lianal.
He gripped their bases harder, pumping up and down as Samouru teased and twisted his fingers around their tips. Feather-light touches along the underside of Lianal’s dick had him pressing their cocks closer together, aching for the right type of friction, for the catch of their combined flared heads as delicate, sensitive parts tingled happily.
Lianal shifted to get a better grip, smiling to himself when Samouru made a sound of protest. “Don’t worry. Not stopping.” Then he took Samouru’s mouth again, finding the younger man irresistible, almost as if he could taste the practiced skill that had brought forth a kraken on his skin. Almost as if Lianal could feel the kraken writhing in desire under Samouru’s heated body.
As if in response, his own tats pounded and roiled, mimicking the never-ending crashing of the waves. The thrust and pull of them. His orca curling over the tip of the wave it rode. The merhorse whinnying its own needy song. And the crab he’d gotten as a child nipping at his ankle.
He could only imagine how tightly the kraken must be squeezing Samouru right now. Tighter than Lianal’s own fist. Probably not as tight as Lianal’s grip on Samouru’s hair as he tried to pull Samouru closer and closer as his tongue took and took without letting the other man so much as breathe.
So when Samouru crested the wave they rode on, his yell echoed into Lianal’s mouth, reverberating down his lungs as if he were swallowing the sound whole. Warm wetness splattered on his hand, but he didn’t let up, pumping everything from Samouru, extending his orgasm until he crashed hard on the other side of that wave as well, ripping his mouth from Samouru’s with a crazed shout that carried over the water.
He found himself holding onto Samouru as he came down, practically being held up by those farm-strong arms he’d admired the moment Samouru had walked into the tavern. Lianal allowed it as he panted into a welcoming shoulder, taking deep breaths of pure man mixed with saltwater and sweat. Just the way he liked it.
Samouru let out a satisfied sigh. “So much better with another conjurer.”
Lianal lifted his head. He could ask, but he didn’t, merely smiled and murmured agreement, because Samouru was right. That had been amazing. Having his eidolons vibrating their own excitement on his skin had sensitized him in a way he’d never felt before. Obviously something Samouru had felt before, probably had anticipated. Lianal had never had the chance before now. Too many women or straight men or simply people who he could rightly consider his enemy who he couldn’t allow close enough to discover their sexual preferences.
He might find it difficult to resist Samouru if it ever came down to that.
“Lianal,” started Samouru, some of those nerves reentering his demeanor as he stared at the semen dripping off his hand. “This…this won’t change anything, right?”
“If you mean, will people assume you’re a cabin boy, then no.”
“I meant it wouldn’t make you strange towards me. The last conjurer I was with, he…expected things. After.”
Lianal felt a slow smile stretch across his lips. “I plan on being a cruel taskmaster because you’ve a lot of training to make up for if you want to pull your weight in this crew.” He put his lips by Samouru’s ear. “And don’t think you’ll get special treatment simply because we fuck.”
Samouru breathed out unsteadily, but it was almost a happy sound. And when he accompanied the sound with a strong hand pushing up against Lianal’s cock, Lianal felt himself pulse in response.
He chuckled low and rubbed his cheek against Samouru’s. “There’s a bed at that tavern that I’ve already paid for, why don’t we make some good use of it before we have to be heading out with the tide.”