The rush of warmth Clajak felt as he looked at Bevau could not be denied. There was still much to learn about the high commander, but he seemed as likely a Nobek as any. More, in fact.
“Quite the impressive man, this Nobek. Don’t you agree, Egilka?”
Egilka yawned and burrowed tighter against Bevau’s shoulder. The soldier’s smile deepened and he leaned down to kiss the Imdiko’s forehead.
Egilka smiled back and answered, “Oh, most certainly. I’m glad you lured me away from my work to visit him.”
Bevau affected surprise. “Ah, so it wasn’t the training camp you wished to see? I’m flattered.”
Clajak said, “Are you? Good. I need a new warrior to fight with since our arranged clanning with the last one fell through.”
A cautious look flitted over Bevau’s face. “As long as you’re not looking to clan me in his place.”
Egilka blinked up at him. Because he didn’t know where Clajak’s thoughts lay, his question was pure jest. “Were we that bad, Bevau?”
The Nobek tugged playfully on his mustache. “By the ancestors, I very much enjoyed that. No reflection on Clajak, but I particularly enjoyed a taste of Imdiko. I haven’t had the pleasure of your kind breed in some time, Egilka.”
Clajak was careful to keep his tone noncommittal. “You do not wish to clan with anyone?”
Bevau shrugged. “Of course I would. Just not to the Crown Princes.”
“We’re not that bad on a daily basis, you know. Besides, I’m not asking you yet.”
The word yet hung in the air. Bevau’s eyes narrowed as Egilka’s widened. The Imdiko’s expression told Clajak he had caught on to what the Dramok was about.
Egilka must have approved because he told Bevau, “We’re vetting likely candidates, that’s all. We haven’t met with anyone to our tastes since Henbo showed his true colors.”
Bevau sat up, pulling away from them. “I appreciate the interest, but you may take my name off the list, my princes. I am a dual breed, Imdiko and Nobek no less. The Empire needs a full Nobek to complete its future ruling clan.”
Of all the objections Clajak had anticipated, this one came as a complete surprise. “Do you doubt your abilities so much?”
For a moment Bevau’s eyes flashed and his face reddened. He quelled the abrupt show of temper. “I am comfortable with my disparate tendencies, my prince.”
Clajak sighed. “So you’re back to addressing us by our titles, I see.”
“How do you think the Royal Council would react to you clanning a Nobek with strong Imdiko tendencies? What would the Imperial Clan say about having the Empire’s future lead protector less than a full Nobek?”
Clajak shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll ask them at the next session.” He could well imagine their reaction, however. Especially Pwaldur’s. No doubt the nominee for Head Councilman would have a raging fit at the thought of his daughter Narpok betrothed to a dual-breed Nobek. The idea of clanning Bevau grew even more enjoyable for Clajak.
Bevau scowled at him. He stood and found his shorts. His feet stabbed through the legs as he dressed, as if he would just as soon kick a hole in the wall. “The storm is over, my princes. Radar shows the rain has ended. As soon as you are dressed, I will escort you back to your shuttle.”
Clajak and Egilka exchanged a look. Bevau was telling them loud and clear there would be no more talk entertained about the potential for clanship.
Releasing September 18, 2015