Another week….

Obviously it’s another kind of week where I was busy at the beginning, but it’s slowly down again. So there will be posts for the blog story on Thursday and Friday.


I do have a release on Friday-Death or Life-which is a re-release of an early book (like out in 2006 or so) but it hasn’t been available for a couple years now. MLR Press is re-releasing it for me. 🙂 New cover, but the story is the same. I didn’t add anything to it. So if you’ve already read it, you don’t have to pick it up. (Unless you want the new cover) 😉

Have a great day.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Two-

Miataga eyed Ari’s father. He couldn’t say he was surprised by the whole subterfuge Ari’s family was putting on. People lied all the time, putting on airs and attitudes. Making themselves more important than they were. Impressing people who didn’t really matter in the long run. Miataga wrinkled his nose.

“Well, we all try to be something other than what we really are,” he murmured and smiled when Ari chuckled.

“That’s true, but I hate it when people involve me in their lies,” Ari spoke softly into Miataga’s ear. “Without my permission that is.”

At least Ari qualified that. Not quite a hypocrite, considering how they were technically lying about Miataga’s profession. Or not getting into details about what kind of entertainment he did.

“You said you’d sing for us, Miataga.” Ari’s mother grabbed his arm to drag him to the middle of the square where there was a small dais. She handed him a guitar and he stared at it for a moment.

Singing wasn’t his best way to entertain someone, but it wasn’t like he could what he was best at. Not in public anyway. Not with anyone except Ari. He strummed a few chords then cleared his throat.

“All right. Let’s get started. Please dance if you feel like it.” He met Ari’s gaze. “Maybe someone else would like to play with me. I’m sure some of you can sing and play as well.”

A few other people came up on the dais then he consulted with them about what songs they knew. Once they were on the same page, he started playing. The rest of the band joined in and he began to sing.

The melodies and lyrics were simple. Folk songs he’d learned as a child. None of the other songs he knew were appropriate for children. Gathering around, people danced, laughing and enjoying themselves.

He played for an hour before his throat got too dry and his fingers began to cramp. Even though the crowd protested, he set his guitar down, but gestured for the others to keep playing.

Ari helped Miataga down from the dais then handed him a mug of ale. “You did a wonderful job, love. I guess I didn’t realize just how well you could play. I knew you’d learned how to do that for your job, but I never thought you would be that good.”

“Are you saying you didn’t think a whore would enjoy playing for fun?” He kept his voice low.

A shocked expression crossed Ari’s face and he looked worried. “NO! That’s not what I mean at all.”

Miataga laughed. “I know, honey.” He winked. “I was just joking. Singing isn’t the thing I do best, but I enjoy it once in a while. Sometimes the other workers and I get together for a music afternoon. Those who aren’t on call at the time.”

Ari leaned down to steal a kiss from him. “I’d love to sit in on that.”

“Maybe when we’re back in the city and you have a free day, you can come to the House for a concert.” Miataga liked the idea of Ari visiting him once this whole journey was over.

“I’m sure that could be arranged,” Ari agreed.

“You were marvelous, Miataga. Thank you so much.” Mrs. Dosterta gushed as she joined them. She threw her arms around his waist and hugged him tight.

Miataga tensed before hugging her back. It wasn’t often people touched him for any other reason beside sex. Getting a hug from her felt good, even though he wasn’t entirely sure he liked her.

“Thank you. I’m glad you liked it.” He glanced around. “It looks like the party’s winding down.”

“It does.” Ari sighed then looked at his father. “Gather all the elders at the village hall. We need to have a discussion about how things are going to go from now on.”

Miataga saw the look of fear in Mr. Dosterta’s eyes. A little thrill of anticipation raced through Miataga. He couldn’t wait to see how Ari took the elders to task for not doing what their government asked of them.

“Right. I’ll get on that.” Mr. Dosterta edged away, but Ari took a hold of his arm.

“I mean it, Father. The elders and Barke’s parents are to be there. If I find out you didn’t gather them all, I’ll be forced to call in the officials who take care of this.”

Inhaling sharply, his father nodded. After Mr. and Mrs. Dosterta left, Miataga turned to look at Ari.

“I think I’ll go back to the farm house and wander around. I’ve never see an actual cow or sheep. I’m fascinated by the whole idea of raising them.” He cradled Ari’s face and kissed him. “I’ll see you when you get back.”

“Oh no. You’re coming with me. I’m going to need you to make sure I don’t strangle one of them. They’re going to whine and moan about this whole thing, even after I mention the stipend they’ll be receiving for each child that gets taken into the military.” Ari curled his lip as he stared at the elders being ushered into the hall. “I should’ve known something like this was going on. But I’m always in such a hurry to leave that I don’t listen to people when I’m here.”

Miataga shook his head. “This isn’t your fault. They’re adults and know the laws. I’m pretty sure they know the punishment if they get caught doing something like this. Don’t you dare beat yourself up over this. Let’s just straighten it out. If you want, when we get back to Sendler, you can let the right people know to keep an eye on your village.”

Ari swept him up in a rough hug. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For everything you’ve done so far. I’m not sure I’d be able to deal with my family if you weren’t here to keep me focused.” Ari set him down. “As you can see, they can drive me crazy.”

“Only if you let them, love,” Miataga muttered as they walked toward the gathering crowd.

Edits and Real Life…

got in the way again. But I will get you a new installment on Friday. I don’t have anything to do tomorrow more important than getting it done for everyone. 🙂

Have a great Thursday.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-One-

The party was in full swing and Miataga spent most of his time mingling with the villagers. They all wanted to know what Sendler was like since a majority of them had never been out of the mountains. It was something he was used to while working at the Loving House. He often had to make small talk with the clients while they waited for their appointments.

Also, he did his best to keep Ari from getting angry with his parents. It wasn’t time for them to deal with all the issues. Not while everyone else was around and could watch.

“Miataga,” Barke called from the other side of the square. “Come here.”

Rolling his eyes, Miataga excused himself from the group he’d been talking with then headed toward Barke. He smiled at others who tried to get him to stop, but kept moving.

“What do you want, Barke?” Miataga asked, taking a mug from the young man and sipping. He grimaced at the bitter taste of the ale. It wasn’t his favorite drink in the world. Sweet wines were what he usually had while working.

“Is Ariste going to talk to my parents about going with you guys?” Barke kept his voice low, but there was urgency in his tone.

Miataga sighed. “Yes, he will, but you have to let him to do it on his own time. Discussing it in the middle of your aunt’s party isn’t that.”

Barke curled his upper lip and Miataga slapped his cheek lightly. Shaking his head, Miataga told Barke. “Don’t. You’re young and impatient. I understand you want to start your life, but you need to trust that Ari knows what he’s doing. Enjoy this time. Go dance with the girl your parents want you to marry. Spend time with her because you won’t be here much longer.”

“But I want to leave now. I’ve waited long enough.” Barke whined and Miataga smacked him again—still not hard, but enough to get Barke’s attention.

“Stop acting like a child. Once you get to the city and enlist in the military, you won’t be able to throw a temper tantrum without getting your ass kicked. Trust me. Those soldiers won’t take it easy on you. You’re nothing special to them. Just another man putting his butt on the line for the government.” Miataga set his mug down. “Now go out and have fun because it’ll be the last you get for a while.”

Spinning around, he glanced over the crowd to see if he could find Ari. Miataga spotted his lover standing next to his father, head tilted as though he were listening to the man talk. Yet Ari’s gaze was on Miataga and when their eyes met, Ari grinned. That was the only signal Miataga needed to see. He slipped his way through the dancers and musicians, the party-goers and Ari’s family. There was no hesitation as he went up and wrapped his arms around Ari’s waist then brushed a quick kiss over his lips. Ari stayed relaxed, not acknowledging the sneer of disgust that crossed his father’s face, which Miataga saw.

“Mr. Dosterta, this is a marvelous party. It looks like everyone is enjoying themselves.” Miataga held out the figurative olive branch. It wasn’t for him. He didn’t want Ari to be estranged from his family, though he had a feeling if it happened, it wouldn’t be because of him.

“Thank you, Miataga.” Ari’s father accepted the compliment in an icy tone. “My daughters-in-law were in charge. I merely paid the bills.”

More like Ari’s money paid for this. Miataga wasn’t going to give voice to that thought. He leaned into Ari’s side, choosing to keep his mouth shut. No point in antagonizing him further. Ari held Miataga close, obviously not caring who saw them together like that. Miataga enjoyed it. Not ever leaving the House made him feel like an object to be coveted and hidden away. No more rehashing that. It’s different with Ari and I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

“Father, I need to talk to you and the elders of the village after the party is over,” Ari said.

“It’ll be late when this is done. I think your mother planned on it being all day and night,” Ari’s father muttered.

“Then once a majority of the people have left, I want you to gather the elders at the town hall. What I have to say is important and they all need to hear it.” Ari’s grip tightened around Miataga’s waist. “Also, you have to make sure Barke’s parents are there as well.”

“Did that child talk to you about those silly dreams he says he’s been having?” Mr. Dosterta shook his head. “He’s so hung up on getting out of here, he’ll make anything up.”

Ari exhaled and Miataga squeezed him, silently reminding him to watch his mouth at the moment. “Yes, he did, Father. That’s what we’ll be discussing. I’ve told you before what the government will do if they find out you aren’t allowing the youngsters to come to the city. Every one who dreams must be giving the chance to bond with what he dreams. That is the law.”

“No. We need Barke here to help with the harvest and the planting. Why should we give up our children? No one gives us anything.” Mr. Dosterta waved his hands around at all the people standing in the village square.

“That’s not true.”

Miataga glanced up to see Ari glaring at his father. Ari lifted his chin to gesture at the tavern where the drinks were coming from.

“All the property you own now is from the money I send you. Plus you do get a stipend because the government knows you need every able body to help with the harvest. They don’t just take people and not compensate their families.” Ari shook his head.

“The government pays the families?” Miataga asked, having never heard that before.

“Yes.” Ari shrugged. “Did you really they could buy and build everything they have with just the money I send them? Not possible. I don’t make that much to begin with, so it’s only a small percentage.”


Life caught up with me again. At least I got one post up for you. Sorry about the other one though. I’ll do my best to get both up next week. Possibly an extra one to make up for this week.

Have a great weekend and Happy Easter.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-

After grabbing their coats from their room—just to make his mother happy, Ari took Miataga’s hand and led him from the house. They didn’t talk as they walked to the top of a small hill. He spread out Miataga’s coat then gestured for him to sit.

“The moon will rise in a few minutes,” Ari told Miataga as he joined him on the coat. He drew Miataga into his arms before wrapping the other jacket around them.

“That’ll be interesting to see,” Miataga murmured as he rested his head against Ari’s shoulder. He entwined their fingers and laid them on his stomach. “You did well not to speak up against the Supreme Commander like you wanted. I could tell you were biting your tongue a little in there.”

He chuckled. “It helped to have you there. I need to remember that not all of my family supports me, so anything I might say could be repeated to certain people. And that could get me in trouble.”

Miataga trailed the fingers of his other hand along Ari’s thigh. “How much trouble would you get into if those people found out how you feel?”

“Not too much,” he admitted. “They don’t want to lose Vikex, which they would if I were court martial and discharged. Vikex will not bond with anyone else.”

“So you’re safe from that because of Vikex?”


Miataga hummed for a second as he seemed to be thinking. Then he said, “But they could give you crappy assignments and put you out in the front lines of battles, right?”

“They already do. Vikex and I are always part of the first wave of soldiers in any battle. My superior officers would just send me in without back up.” Ari rubbed his cheek over Miataga’s hair. “Unfortunately, that would mean Vikex could be killed and while I’m expendable, he’s not.”

“You’re not expendable,” Miataga protested, easing back to meet his gaze. “I’d miss you if you were gone. You’ve changed my world in the week we’ve known each other. I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have you in it. Not that I expect anything from you when we get back to the city.”

Ari smiled as he cradled Miataga’s face in his hands. “Don’t worry about that. Trust me when I say, you and I will stay in touch once we’re back in Sendler. I don’t plan on letting you go.” He shrugged. “Well, I guess I might have to let you go back to the Loving House since I don’t have a home and we’d have to figure out how to buy you from your master. Is that even possible?”

Nodding, Miataga said, “Yes. I admit it’ll be expensive and difficult. I’m one of the most popular whores at the House. I make the Master a lot of money and he isn’t going to let me go without costing you a lot.”

“I’m not surprised.” He wanted to compliment Miataga on his abilities, but he didn’t think that would come out quite the way he meant it. “I have a lot of money saved up. I don’t send it all back here. I’m not stupid. When I retire from the army, I won’t be moving home. I’ll go to Vikex’s flock and live with them.”

“I have money as well. Maybe together we can buy my contract from my master.” Miataga laughed at Ari’s confused expression. “I get tips from my clients. He doesn’t force us to give those to him. Hell, he even sets up accounts for us to put them in. I know of a few whores who saved enough to buy out their contracts. It’s not just a dream.”

Ari didn’t want to get excited about what that meant. Just because the man let others go, didn’t mean he’d allow Miataga leave. Like Miataga had said, he made the Master a lot of money and he had a lot of wealthy clients. They might not be happy to have their favorite whore leave the business.

He leaned down and pressed his lips to Miataga, kissing him gently. As much as he would’ve liked to lay Miataga down and make love to him, Ari wasn’t going to do that. It didn’t have anything to do with his parents being close by. He’d never told them that he was attracted to men before he left the village. Mostly because he knew he was leaving and his lovers would have no effect on what happened here. After he joined the army and bonded with Vikex, he never discussed it since he hadn’t planned on bringing anyone with him. At least he hadn’t until he decided he wanted someone to talk to while traveling and chose Miataga.

There was something weird about making love to Miataga while at a place where no one wanted them. His parents whined about the money he sent them, yet they used it to take over the village. While his siblings might like him, they would never go against Father and Mother.

He broke off their kiss and whispered against Miataga’s lips, “I wish we could leave right now.”

Miataga rubbed his thumb over Ari’s chin. “Maybe you shouldn’t come here anymore,” he suggested. “Send them the money and presents for the special days. Don’t subject yourself and Vikex to this. Your parents are hypocrites, Ari. They don’t deserve you or your time.”

“You’re right.” Ari nodded. “This will be the last time I come. Of course, after I take Barke with us, they might not want to see me again.”

“Either way, you won’t have to deal with them. Anyone who wants to talk to you—or see you—will.” Miataga snuggled closer then pulled Ari down to the ground. Making sure the jacket kept them covered, he rested his head on Ari’s chest. “Let’s worry about all of it tomorrow. Tonight, we’ll just stare at the stars and the moon. Maybe make a wish on them.”

Relaxing, Ari did as Miataga suggested.


it’s been a really busy couple of days and I haven’t been able to get my blog post done for Wings. 🙁 But it’ll calm down after today, so I’m hoping to get you two posts. One on Thursday and one on Friday.

I hope you’re having a good day. Stay safe anyone who’s caught in the spring/winter storm. lol

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Nineteen-

“I’m sure he’s a wonderful man,” Father commented.

Miataga squeezed his knee. Ari knew better than to say anything. Not that he thought his family would turn him in, but the Supreme Commander had ears everywhere and anyone overheard saying bad things about him could get in trouble.

“He is,” Ari muttered then swallowed every thing else he wanted to say about the Supreme Commander. The man’s reputation out in society was a brave loyal man who loved his country, but to the men who served under him, he was known as selfish, reckless, and dangerous. He didn’t care about anyone except himself.

“Ari said you own a farm, Mr. Dosterta. How many acres do you harvest? What do you harvest?” Miataga asked, drawing the attention away from Ari.

Flashing him an understanding smile, Ari let the conversation move in a different direction. Miataga had asked the right question to get his father off the topic of the Supreme Commander. He took another scoop of potatoes then covered it in gravy.

“We own about a hundred acres that we plant with wheat and corn. Aside from my sons and sons-in-law who work for me, I also have about ten other hands who help with the harvest. Our farm raises cattle and goats for their meat and milk. One would think it would be hard to grow anything this far up the mountains, but in our valley, the weather is rather mild and the crops flourish here.” Father puffed his chest out in pride. “Our family owns the majority of farm land in the village.”

“You allow the other farmers to rent land from you?” Miataga looked impressed, though Ari caught a hint of amusement in his eyes.

Father nodded. “Of course, they give me a percentage of their yield and I let them keep the rest.” Miataga shot Ari a smirk then said, “That’s very generous of you. Do you own some of the stores in town as well?”

“Yes. The shopkeepers rent the space from me.” Father reached over and slapped Ari on the shoulder. “The money my son sends me has helped us insure the future for our grandchildren.”

“Hmm…” Miataga hummed.

Ari glanced over to Jemsel and Rayme. Both of them looked unhappy, not proud of what Father had done. Ari made a mental note to get his brother and sister-in-law alone tomorrow during his mother’s party and find out what was going on in the village. As much as his parents complained about the money coming from Sendler, they were obviously using it to further their own standing in society. Barke rolled his eyes. “Nice of you to buy their property out from under them then let them rent it to make a living.”

Mother smacked him on the back of the head. “You should be grateful. That money keeps you in food and lodging. If we didn’t do that, we’d be just as poor as the rest of the people in this village.”

“They’re only poor because of you,” Barke muttered.

Ari caught his gaze and shook his head slightly. Now was not the time to air his grievances. Not if Barke wanted to get out of the village, though if he kept it up, they might throw him out instead of dealing with him being so disgruntled.

Barke pouted, but shut up. Miataga continued to direct the conversation so that Ari’s parents could brag about what they’d done. Ari grew ill as they talked and it was only Miataga’s hand on his knee to keep him from leaving the table.

Miataga managed to get them all talking about things in their lives that they were happy about. The women told him about their children and the textiles they created. The men bragged about the crops they grew and the animals they hunted.

Ari knew Miataga didn’t really care about all of that. Well, maybe he did care about the kids, but the rest of it wasn’t important to him. Miataga understood wealth and power. He knew what made most people happy, which was to have both of those. Miataga got it because that was the world he lived in. He played the pawn for the wealthy and powerful. Living the way Miataga did, he related more with the people who were powerless. Yet he knew how to make small talk, making him good at dinner parties.

Chuckling, Ari relaxed. There was no point in getting worked up tonight. Miataga would keep the others from digging into things Ari didn’t want to talk about. He covered Miataga’s hand with his, entwining their fingers and resting them higher up on his thigh. Miataga leaned closer and Ari absorbed his warmth.

Twenty minutes later, dinner was over and Ari couldn’t wait to get out of the house. He wanted to go fly with Vikex, but that wasn’t possible. His phoenix was up higher in the mountains, soaring on the air currents and chasing the eagles that nested up there.

Instead he’d take Miataga for a walk to show him the stars and stare up at them as he explained again which constellation was which. Miataga had told him he liked learning about those lights. It was something Miataga had never gotten the chance to discover because whores didn’t need to know about stars and the night sky. They just needed to know how make a person come.

He offered to wash the dishes, but his mother told him the women would take care of it. His father asked if he and Miataga would like to have a drink in the study with the others. Ari declined. Neither he nor Miataga were the after dinner drinking kind of guys.

“I think I’m going to take Miataga out to my favorite spot on the farm,” Ari told his parents. “He’s never been up this far in the mountains. I want him to see my home.”

“All right. You both have heavy coats, right? It gets cold up here when the sun goes down.” Mother patted his shoulder.

“Yes, Mother.” He didn’t think they’d need them once they were out away from his family.

Real Life…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Sorry about not having a post for you today. I’d rather give you a full post then a small/short one. 🙂 but don’t worry. There will be a blog story post on Friday. Things got busy and I wasn’t able to get it all written.

Also, I thought I’d remind you that I have two St. Patrick’s Day themed books out. They’re older ones, but in case you haven’t read them.

One is Cead Mile Milte


The other one is Ghost of a Chance


Like I said they’re older books, but I think perfect for the holiday. lol. Hope you check them out if you haven’t already read them. 🙂

Thanks. Have a great day.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Eighteen-

Ari growled at the thought that his parents and the villagers were stopping the youngsters from following their destinies. Miataga and Barke stared at him, but he ignored them as he paced around the room. He clenched his hands and heat flared up his arms to settle in his chest.

“I warned them what would happen if they kept others from following their visions. The government in Sendler takes a dim view on obstacles being thrown up in front of future soldiers.”

He caught the glance Barke shot Miataga and heard his cousin say, “What is he talking about?”

Miataga shrugged. “I’m not sure. I work in the city, not in the military or government. Ari knows exactly what needs to be done. If he says you’re coming with us, that’s what will happen.”

Barke didn’t look convinced, but Ari had met what he said. He would make sure Barke came with them, even if it meant threatening the adults with governmental interference. He knew his parents wouldn’t like that.

“Are you ready for dinner?” Ari’s mother called.

“Yes, Mother.” Ari looked at Barke. “Don’t say anything. I’ll talk to them in the morning.”

“All right.” Barke bowed slightly then lead the way to the dining room where the rest of the family waited.

Ari saw Miataga winced when they walked in and silence filled the room. Everyone’s gaze had gone to Miataga who stood next to him. As much as Ari wanted to grab Miataga and drag him close, he didn’t. He didn’t think Miataga would appreciate him protecting him like that. Besides, Miataga was an adult and had probably faced worse while in the city.

“Please sit.” Mother gestured to two empty chairs close to his father. “Barke, you’re done here next to your sister.”

Barke looked at Ari who nodded. Then he escorted Miataga to his chair. Once they were seated, everyone started in on the food. It wasn’t until all the dishes were passed around and every plate was full that Father spoke.

“Miataga, You’re a friend of Ariste’s. Did you meet in the army?”

Ari gave Miataga a side-ways glance, but didn’t say anything. It was up to Miataga to tell them what he wanted them to know. Ari didn’t really care if his parents knew that Miataga was a whore. He just didn’t want Miataga to get annoyed and demand to go back to the city.

“No, sir. We met in Lower City. I’m in the entertainment business and he happened to see me perform. We became friends and I was ready for a vacation when he asked me if I’d like to come on this journey with him.” Miataga’s face was so innocent that Ari believed what he said.

Honestly, most of it was true. Ari hadn’t seen Miataga perform since Ari wasn’t into voyeurism. Yet what Miataga did could be considered entertainment.

“And your boss was okay with you taking off for however long this trip will take?” Father seemed skeptical.

“Yes, he was. He has other entertainers who can take my place until I get back.” Miataga smiled then took a bite of his salad.

“Do you sing?” Ari’s mother’s gaze was intense as she stared at Miataga.

He nodded and Ari chuckled. Of course, Miataga could sing. The whores in the Loving Houses did more than have sex with the clients. They had to be experts on all kinds of pleasurable things, not just sex.

Her eyes lit up. “Maybe you could sing for us at the party tomorrow.”

Ah. Ari got it then. Miataga was someone different, unknown and exotic in his way. He could sing new songs that the villagers hadn’t heard before. It would make her party memorable and show the others how important Ari’s family can become. There would be entertainment all the way from the city.

“Mother, Miataga is on vacation. He might not feel like singing,” he admonished her.

Miataga nodded graciously. “I would be delighted.”

She smiled. “Wonderful. I look forward to that.”

Father’s gaze narrowed as he looked from Ari to Miataga and back. Ari could tell something was brewing in his father’s brain. It would hit him at some point and Ari would deal with it when it happens.

“This is very good, Mrs. Dosterta. Did you make everything?” Miataga was doing his best at small talk.

“Thank you, but no. Rayme did most of it. I wasn’t feeling well today.” Mother nodded toward Rayme. “She’s Jemsel’s wife. My first daughter-in-law.”

Rayme smiled at Miataga who bowed his head.

“You’re quite talented in the kitchen, ma’am. I’ve never had anything that tastes this good. Not even in the city.” Miataga turned to look at Ari. “Are your meals on the base as good as this?”

Ari laughed. “Oh no. Only the superior officers and commanders get food this good. The meals the regular soldiers are served don’t have that much flavor.”

“I thought you were a commander and an important one because of your bond with the phoenix?” His father frowned.

“I usually eat with the regular soldiers, Father. There’s no need for me to separate myself from them. I’m no more special than they are just because I’ve bonded with Vikex. I don’t see the point in rubbing their noses in it.” He snorted. “Unfortunately my superiors don’t feel the same way.”

Miataga touched his knee under the table and Ari relaxed. I can’t talk about my disappointment in the men who lead the military I’m in. I need to keep my mouth shut around other people. He knew any unhappy talk could be seen as treasonous and it was dangerous if the wrong people overheard him.

“Besides, I like hanging out with the other soldiers. At heart, I’m still a simple boy from the mountains. What do I know about the fancy manners needed to eat at the Supreme Commander’s table?”

“Have you ever met the Supreme Commander?” Jemsel asked from further down the table.

Ari grimaced. “Once after a rather large battle that Vikex and I helped win. He awarded us a medal for our bravery.”