Story for the Day: Tales of Intrigues
I love choose-your-own-adventure books. Frewyn's most popular fiction series is a choose-your-own-adventure series called Tales of Intrigues. There are at least fifty in the series, all of them written by a few authors in Westren. Once the war is over and the press resumes business, the latest novel is printed and distributed across the kingdom, much to Alasdair's happiness. He has read every volume in the series, and when the latest book finds its way into his hands, he absolutely can do nothing else but read it.
Tales of Intrigues, Frewyn’s most celebrated fictional series, was heralded throughout the kingdom for its magnificent craftsmanship, its interwoven plots, and its ability to grant the reader the ability to chose the hero’s fate. Alasdair gloried in such a series, for it gave him permission to be as devious as he should like without being afraid to offend. Such a book and such a series provided a safe environment in which his mind could race toward every cunning corner and every underhanded retaliation that would never be allowable in his court. His goodness and kindness in life permitted him to be as devious on the page as his kind heart would allow, and the true joy in the business was in forming fellowships and making alliances by delighting in unwholesome assassinations and in sensual acts. A kiss in the privacy of one’s chambers, a secretive touch in the courts meant worlds to the characters on the page, and choosing with whom to perform such mischief was all Alasdair’s gleeful delectation. Here his machinations were harmless and pleasant; turning to the section describing his evening with Lord Stornaway or his meeting with Lady Mountbatten served only to kindle his imagination, and though he still chose uphold his principles in the courts and be a gentleman in life, he would be a scandalous trollop on the page, taking advantage of every situation whether by the power of his persuasive arguments or by the ascendancy of his excellent looks and smoldering eyes, as the hero’s appearance should elicit.
Alasdair giggled to himself as he read, the end of every chapter bringing devious rapture. He always chose the more malevolent path of the two, always being honest and diplomatic with his word, but unable and unwilling to overlook any of the more salacious encounters. Those debauched scenes missed were skimmed with a “Well, let’s see what would have happened if I chose Count Allan over Countess Justine,” and though his eye only caught some of the words, the dissolution that the skipped meetings and possible assassinations promised even more delight in a second reading. It was a matter of course that he must read the book again and choose all the paths not hitherto chosen, but the first reading must be done with the most disreputable of decisions. His smile broadened as he turned every page, his eyes widening with wicked delight.
"Ooh, hoo,” he crooned when he reached the end of the current chapter, “have a drink with the king consort or have a scandalous evening with Count Gawain?" He hummed in deliberation, briefly wondered at whether Rithea had read this series, and then chose to have his evening with His Grace. The king consort, though the queen’s closest advisor, should further none of his romantic interests. There was no excitement for him in an evening of politics where an evening of mischief would do. “Count Gawain it is,” he hummed, turning to the encounter.
|Twisk drew Alasdair absconding to the closet. He is so ashamed.|
Alasdair slumped in his chair and turned his shoulder as though hiding the book from invisible eyes. “’You reach the entrance to Lord Gawain’s chambers when the door is flung open and there stands His Grace in little more than a silken robe with a glass of wine furnishing his hand’,” Alasdair read aloud. He was quiet for a moment, and then burst out with, “Just as excellent as I remember,” in fond remembrance. He silently continued:
You smile and make your civil addresses to His Grace. He seems little interested in discussing business; though his talk is all of the day’s dealings at court, his manner is all for pleasure. Do you catch his meaning and join him in removing your clothes, or do you wish to keep the discourse of the evening on business?
Alasdair smirked to himself and chose to remove his clothes. He leaned over the book, his nose nearly touching the page, and read thus:
His Grace ushers you in and begins to talk of the king consort as a dry old stick who must be got rid of as quickly as possible if anything in the kingdom is to be done. Accomplishments on the foreign front have stifled dreadfully due to his abhorrence for war. A kingdom and its people can only advance by conquering and by achievement through martial means. Do you agree?
“No, but I’ll say yes for now,” said Alasdair, cheerfully turning the page. “If I say no, he will be disappointed and may not side with me.”
You agree with His Grace. He seems pleased at your thinking alike on this matter. His lips curl into a sultry smile. He pours another glass of wine and sends the footman away. You are now alone with Gawain. He is advancing, he is untying his robe, he is handing you a glass of wine. He asks you to remain with him for the night that you may talk more and become better acquainted. A peer as influential and as wealthy as Gawain would be advantageous to have in your close conversancy. He might be willing to grant you a small estate if you go shares in his designs for making the queen go to war. He might also be using you as a means of killing the king consort, or he may be looking for partnership, but you cannot tell. There is no marked coolness in his manner toward you. His invitation to stay and ally with him seems ingenuous. Do you spend the night with His Grace?
Alasdair could not resist. He must add to his flock of miscreants if he was to gain the throne, his real object in the case. If His Grace was willing to assist and provide information, then whatever Gawain’s plans, Alasdair would inure himself to double-crossing machinations and contrive to double-cross first if the option should be given. “Yes, I think I will stay…” but his voice trailed as he turned the page: His Grace was removing his robe, was suggestively pressing himself against the hero, was taking the wine from his hand and laying it aside, was holding the hero’s chin in his palm and craning his neck.
He asks you for an alliance. Do you ally with him, though his allegiance comes with his advances?
The lips in mid-ascent in Alasdair’s imagination were halted. He looked up from the page, searched charily about though there was no one else in his room, said his agreement, and instantly turned to the marked page. His breathing quickened as he began to read of the hero’s concession: he was being laid upon the divan behind him, he was being mounted, and the Count and hero were locked in iniquitous bliss as their association was happily formed.
“This is brilliant,” Alasdair breathed, unable to look away from the page. He read of their delectable pursuits with unwavering ardency until the question of should he like Countess Cavil to join them was posed. “Oh, yes,” he said feelingly, “Please do call for Her Grace.”
The bell is rung. The footman renters the room. You stir, thinking it impolite for an upper servant to see you in such a way with his master. He seems little bothered and little interested with your position or that his lord is still penetrating you throughout his orders. The footman gives his languorous yessir and is off to request the Countess’ attendance. In the few moments the footman is gone, you are told that she, too, has a great dislike for the king consort but has an even greater disgust for the queen. She finds her spineless and odious and she would take the throne herself but has not the influence of the courts needed to obtain the great seat. Presently, the Countess is ushered in. She is not surprised at what she sees and rather asks to join you, if you would be so inclined. His Grace offers a display of Her Grace’s flexibility before delving into her pleasures. Would you like to watch the exhibition or participate?
“Participate, if you please,” Alasdair said in an eager hush.
The Countess happily obliges and waves away the footman as she undresses. She asks if you would do the honours in pleasuring her first. His Grace says that he was enjoying you too well to give you up so soon. Each of them is adamant about having you to themselves. There is a way to keep both of them happy while pleasing yourself, though this may be seen as a forward gesture. You want to be the dominant one in the instance, but do not wish to disappoint your new allies by putting your desires ahead of theirs. Would you like to pleasure His Grace, Her Grace, or have both of them pleasure you?
“Oh, Gods, both,” Alasdair said, his words nearly lost under a breath oppressed by agonizing felicity.
You tell your new acquaintances that you are eager and willing to please both of them at once. Each looks askance, but when you request His Grace to lay down and Her Grace to mount you, all becomes clear.
Alasdair sipped the last of his tea.“This is going to be fantastic,” he murmured to himself, and with his book in hand and his thumb keeping the place, he slipped into his bedchamber to read of his counterpart’s shameless and splendid pursuits with all the comfort and concealment of a thick blanket to furnish him.
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