On Love’s Wings
copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase
As much as he wanted to keep arguing, Ari bit his tongue. Miataga was an adult and could make his own decisions. Ari might have paid to have his company on this journey, but that didn’t mean he had the right to make choices for his lover. He would never take that right from Miataga.
After they finished getting everything ready, Ari put out the fire and they left the cabin. He called Vikex to him then drew Miataga close. He pressed his lips to Miataga’s ear.
“I’ll do my best to keep you safe, my love. Thank you for trusting me with your life,” he whispered.
Miataga shivered and nodded, rubbing his hair against Ari’s mouth. Light eased into the clearing, not flooding it like earlier. They didn’t want to bring attention to themselves. Vikex landed and Ari rushed to put his harness on.
“We need to leave now, my friend,” he told the phoenix. “There are soldiers waiting for us on the way back to Sendler. We need to take a different route to your flock.”
Vikex tilted his head, his gaze going from Ari to Miataga.
“Yes, Miataga is going with us. He’s decided to throw his lot in with us.” He chuckled. “I know, Vikex. I warned him, but he seems to think he’s better off with us then back at the capitol.”
The phoenix gave a little cry and Ari snorted. Miataga eyed them then shook his head.
“I’m sorry. Vikex thinks you’re crazy for wanting to go with us.” Ari helped Miataga climb onto Vikex’ back. He got their bags tied on then joined Miataga. He wrapped his arms around Miataga’s waist before nudging Vikex with his heels. “Let’s go. We should go to the east over the border for a little ways. It’s pretty isolated here and not many people will notice us. If someone does, there’s no one around for them to tell. At least not right away.”
“Are you sure that’s safe? I thought we were skirmishing with them,” Miataga commented as Vikex launched them into the air.
Ari tightened his hold on Miataga. “It’ll be fine. The people who live in the mountains on both sides of the border don’t care what goes on in the capitols. Plus they haven’t suffered any battles in their villages, so they’re not looking for us.”
Miataga nodded then leaned back against his chest. They wouldn’t talk much while Vikex flew. The wind rushing past their ears made it difficult to speak unless he shouted or he put his mouth right to Miataga’s ear.
He glanced down as they flew over the village. There was one person standing outside his father’s house who raised their hand as Vikex went by. Ari did the same, not sure if they saw him, but wanting to make some effort. He figured it was either Rockis or Jemles, wishing him luck.
Burying his face in Miataga’s curls, he took a deep breath. Whatever perfume Miataga had used while at the Loving House had been washed away during their travels. All Ari smelled was fresh air and a rather spicy scent that had to have been Miataga’s alone.
Is he truly going to be traveling with us?
Ari jolted. He tended to forget Vikex could speak perfect human if he wanted. Most of the time the phoenix chose not to. Ari figured Vikex felt superior when people thought he was a simple ignorant bird, and not the highly intelligent creature he truly was.
Yes. I was surprised too. He’s a city boy through and through. As a whore, he’s been pampered and coddled for all that he’s been sold to whoever will pay the price. What’s going to happen to us will not be nearly as much fun as the trip to my village was.
Vikex bobbed his head a little. We’ll get to my flock. They’ll help keep us safe. If necessary, we’ll go somewhere else. There are many countries we can hide. I might be a giant flaming bird, but I do have some magic to keep us hidden.
Ari wasn’t surprised to hear that. Vikex and his flock had a lot of powers that no one knew about, not even him. The phoenix were a secretive lot and, as Ari had explained to Miataga, they rarely came down from their mountains to interact with humans.
We are myths and we like to stay that way. You have no idea the fights I had with my flock about leaving to come find you. They didn’t want it, but there was nothing I could do. You can’t fight destiny.
No, you can’t.
Ari wasn’t talking about just Vikex. There was some instinct inside him that said choosing Miataga out of all the whores in the lower city hadn’t been a whim. Fate wanted them together and Ari couldn’t find it in his heart to be too upset about it.
I guess he is a foolish man, yet I admire his courage. There aren’t many who grow up in the city who would throw their lot in with a soldier who might soon be considered a traitor.
Vikex tilted his wings slightly from side to side and Miataga squeaked, causing Ari to chuckle.
Stop teasing him. He has no idea we’re talking.
He put his mouth against Miataga’s ear. “Vikex was teasing. We’re perfectly fine.”
Miataga patted his hand in response. There was no panic in him and Ari was happy about that. Maybe Miataga staying with them wouldn’t be as crazy as both him and Vikex thought. The man might not have done anything except live in a gilded cage, but there did seem to be some steel in his spine.
He’s going to need that. I don’t have a good feeling about this, Ariste.
Vikex sounded worried, which in turn worried Ari. He’d learned over the years they’d been together, that Vikex’ instincts about situations were dead-on. It was almost as though the fates had given the phoenix an extra warning system, which had saved them several times.