Please note that this story is adult in nature.


An Excerpt From:

© Copyright Mari Byrne, 2002.
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave, Inc.



Aranak, June 2001


The identical twin brothers strode into the room with a purpose. Identical in looks, except for the color of their eyes; one brother had green, the other brown. In almost everything else they were the opposite of each other.

They were also next in line for the throne.

Or rather their bride would be. And their bride was the reason they were now attending a private audience before the Queen, who also happened to be their mother.

Without preliminaries, the brothers started a discussion, which covered an on-going disagreement they had with their mother over where to find a bride. The brothers started out with what they thought were valid reasons to look beyond Aranak. However, their mother didn’t feel the same and the discussion rapidly turned into the same arguments that had been bandied about many times before.

Even while they listened to the Queen’s side of the argument, they were already agreeing to leave Aranak. They agreed to listen to her points of view, and waited for her to finish her reasoning.

“You shame our people by suggesting there is not one single woman good enough to be your bride in our entire world.” The Queen made the statement with an abrupt movement that sent her flowing gown twirling as she turned sharply in her angered pacing.

“Why must you go to the mortal world? There are plenty here in Aranak who would give their daughters to the both of you.”

Mitch looked toward their mother and listened as he leaned against a pillar with his arms casually crossed over his chest.

His brother Kristain stood in front of their pacing mother and tried to reason with her about their decision to find a bride elsewhere, but wasn’t having any success.

“Mother. We’ve had this conversation before,” Kristain started out calmly. “This family, this Monarchy, needs new blood.” He paused in his defenses and gave her a disgusted look. “Hell, for that matter, this World needs new blood and well you know it. We will lose what little ground Father had gained before his death. You must see this is the only way.”

Kristain turned to Mitch and asked him to stand beside him.

Mitch lazily straightened from his lounging position and strolled leisurely over to stand at his brother’s side. I don’t care if she can hear us or not. We’re going, and in this, she has no say.

As carefully as he could, Kristain used the telepathic link every twin on Aranak is born with.

For reasons beyond Kristain’s understanding, their mother couldn’t always read her own children. This was something she should have been able to do, if not because she was their mother, then certainly because she was the Queen. The reading of all her people’s mind should have come with her acceptance of the crown.

Kristain had thought on more than one occasion about her only occasionally being able to read them, but now was not the time to ponder it. He pushed the thought aside for later.

Right now, he was trying to communicate the passion he felt over the decision Mitch and he had finally come to. Their world would wither and die if they soon weren’t able to bring new blood into the family.

One corner of Mitch’s upper lip twitched as he fought not to show his smile.

Brother mine, Mitch answered back sarcastically, you preach to the converted. You need to tell your Queen, not I.

Mitch continued to look forward and watched as his mother came to an abrupt stop. She turned around and looked from one to the other giving them a look of quiet menace. When she finally spoke, words shot from her lips as if they were shards of chipped ice.

“You have already made your choice and nothing I say will change your mind.” She waited impatiently for some kind of response, and when none was forthcoming, she continued in anger.

“So be it. The consequences are yours to bear.” With those last words she went to the door, which stood mostly hidden behind her throne and stormed through it, slamming it behind her.

Kristain stared after their retreating mother for a moment, then turned to Mitch.

“Well that went well. Shall we go then?”

Mitch patted his brother on the back consolingly and turned him toward the door. “And here I thought you were going to be the one to convince her.” He chuckled softly and grew serious. “But now I see the only way we will ever convince Queen Sara is when we bring our bride to her.”

Kristain sighed heavily, “I thought perhaps she would be more amenable to the idea if we gave her time.” He started walking toward the door. “Now I see it is the only way.” He paused to look into his brother’s eyes, “And we will find our bride there.”

Mitch nodded his head in agreement. “So it is written, so it will be done.”

With that mantra running through their heads in an echo, the brothers went to prepare for their journey.

Mitch stood with Kristain, their backs to the portal that would soon take them to the world where their bride lived. He slowly turned his head from the left to the right taking in the view Aranak before him.

“I will miss it.” Kristain said from beside him. “Will you?”

Mitch continued to survey the scene before him and drew in a breath of the sweet air before he answered.

“I suppose I will.” He said as he turned to face his brother. “But for now, I am looking forward to the journey before us. There should be one or two delights in this other world we wouldn’t be able to find here.”

Turning Mitch gave his brother an easy shove and sent them both through the misty portal.

So, this is Earth? Mitch looked around him as he and Kristain made their way toward the building structures they could see ahead of them in the distance.

Not so different as Aranak. Kristain turned as he let his thoughts flow to his brother. In fact, I think there might be even less difference than we previously thought. I don’t think it will take very long for us to find our bride and return home.

Mitch turned his gaze away from an intriguing woman who had caught his eye and eyed his brother skeptically. Let us hope so. I don’t want to spend more time away than I have to from home. The laws Mother could implement while we’re gone stagger my imagination.

Kristain nodded his agreement and seemed to square his shoulders, readying himself for the search to come. He agreed with his brother. Queen Sara could indeed make trouble for their future bride and Queen with very little thought. They would look night and day for the woman who would be their bride and finally set the Queendom of Aranak to rights.

“Defy me, will they! They think I’m so out of touch with my people I don’t know what is said? Damn ungrateful frechie twins! Those two have absolutely no respect for their mother!” The Queen strode in half circles around the luxuriously appointed suite of rooms, taking things at will and dashing them against the farthest wall she could reach.

“My own flesh and blood defies me at every turn!” Sara shrieked. “Their father Dain was the same. I don’t care how the people suffer! They were put here for ME! They serve at MY pleasure!” Picking up a priceless ornamental treasure belonging to the ruling Queen for as long as there had been one, Sara cocked her arm back and threw it as hard as she could. The object shattered against the door mere seconds before it opened.

Huffing in fury, Sara let out an ear-splitting screech the new arrival ignored.

“Temper, temper, QUEEN Sara.” The thin voice chided. “Where is the stunning beauty with grace, poise, and infinite patience I crowned so long ago?” The new arrival shuffled her way toward Queen Sara as once again she reached out for the nearest object around her. Her choice was indeed poor, for she picked up a thin glass bell, which should surely shatter at her slightest touch.

“Don’t even think it.” Sara froze in her tracks as the voice laced with fury and warning bellowed…

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