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LIVE|valenѕ|   24d ago

[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/kqdfu1T.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel [#982212 [i “Wow, there sure are a lot of Anwirs at this auction.”]]

Valens thought of his earlier words with a mocking tone and wished he could go back in time to strangle himself. He should have realized then that there was something odd with the auction; as much as Anwirs were a wealthy species and had many of their kind who could be called collectors there was no reason a typical auction would be so saturated with their own kind if it was selling regular goods.

Valens was young by the standards of the Anwir and by the standards of humans should be long dead if they thought of his true age rationally instead of its equivalent; at three hundred seven years old he was the human equivalent of a man in his mid to late twenties. The human forms of most Anwirs were all quite attractive, of course they weren’t the stunning works of art Aurelians were but none could deny their physical impressiveness. For his part, the Anwir prince was taller than the average of his kind standing at six foot seven with a toned and healthy frame that contrasted the stark emaciated look of his beast form.

His champagne colored blonde hair was near to black in color at the roots and swept back in a neat style that revealed the sharp angles of his face, with a strand or two falling down over his brow. The shadows beneath his predatory scarlet eyes, whose irises shook slightly as they processed the situation they were in, were blended neatly in the dark and made his long, under-curled eyelashes look like feathers. He was dressed in all black formal attire; a high collared black top, with well-tailored black slacks, and black dress shoes which he had taken off once they got to their booth in preparation of his own beastly transformation occur soon, as he was a diurnal Anwir.

The Anwir prince was lucky the sun yet lingered in the sky during sunset or his claws would have shredded the auction inventory he was currently holding. Even in his human form the strength of his hands gripping the inventory as the reality of auction were enough to strain the leather wrapped wood that the inventory was mounted on.

Despite his enhanced hearing he could only make out the auctioneer’s voice as far-off mumble as he contemplated disemboweling Yandriel the next time he saw the bastard. No. It was unlikely that Yandriel knew what was going to be auctioned here tonight if he offered the tickets to Valens and his cousin. Yandriel knew the pair too well to make that kind of misstep. Most likely he had been invited to the auction without knowing the truth as well. And now what was supposed to be an amusing trip to celebrate, or perhaps mourn, the last of Valens’s years as a bachelor was quickly descending into catastrophe.

Valens had only thought to ask for the auction inventory so that he could see if there was anything within which would make a suitable engagement gift. Or was it a wedding gift? A [i “welcome to your new home”] gift? An [i “I’m so sorry you’re being forced to spend the rest of your life with me”] gift? And additionally what types of items would his fiancé even like? Did they enjoy instruments, and if so which ones? Or would jewelry be more appropriate? But what colors did they prefer? Valens didn’t have a clue about the young prince his father had agreed to have married to his son and he wasn’t really sure on the etiquette of arranged marriages. Honestly, he only had eighteen years to even come to terms with the fact he would be marrying a stranger which by the standards of Anwirs was far too short a period of time but regardless that was his current predicament.

He’d asked an attendant to bring him a menu of the inventory to be auctioned so that he might look it over and while glance to see what would make a suitable gift when he noticed the final “items” which were to be sold as a finale to the evening.

It really was no wonder that the auction hall was so packed with Anwirs of high status. They hadn’t come for trinkets. They had come for mates.

[#982212 [b “Andrius,”]] Valens called out cautiously to his cousin, the Anwir hummed slightly as he turned his head from the stage to look at Valens. [#982212 [b “I need to inform you of something and I need you to remain calm when I do so. It wouldn’t be wise to cause a commotion here.”]] Those that knew Valens might find it amusing that he would ever warn of making a scene with his history of rebellion but Valens knew too well his cousin’s thoughts on this particular matter than to blindly mention what he’d just learned.

After seeing his cousin’s confused nod of agreement, he swallowed his nerves and spoke, [#982212 [b “The auction tonight. They’re selling Aurelians.”]]

Aurelians; the perfect partner of Anwirs and considered to be heavens most beautiful creatures. Everyone of them, whether male or female, were said to be living masterpieces. They did not have a uniform appearance and could be of any race or build but they were always beautiful. But it was not their beauty alone that made them so desired by his kind but the unique ability of Aurelians to bind their lifespan, or perhaps their soul, to their partners allowing them to live an equal lifespan. For the long lived Anwirs this meant they would have a partner who could be beside them for all of their life without fear of a lesser species expiring before them.

Of course, Anwirs could potentially choose a mate from their own kind but it was only recently that studies by scholars in their society had discovered that the physical similarities between all Anwirs would cause birth defects and illnesses in their young that were similar to effects witnessed by human incestuous unions even if the two Anwirs were completed unrelated to one another. As a species and race that retained many animal-like behaviors, birth defects and illnesses were weaknesses and weakness could not be permitted or accepted. Valens had seen that first hand. He was a child born of such a union.

However, his cousin, Sorandrius, was not. Andrius’s father was the uncle of Valens’s father and a second generation Anwir, but Andrius’s mother was an Aurelian. Just as the ones being auctioned this evening were.

Aurelian auctions weren’t uncommon things. Anything which is rare and highly coveted will inevitably sold and as Anwir territory long prohibited the sale of any speech-capable species the auctions could not be carried out in their own kingdom but that did not prevent neighboring kingdoms from holding these events. If anything, the inability of these auctions to be held in the Anwir territory had only served to raise the rarity and exclusivity of the auctions themselves.

Most Anwirs cared deeply for their partnered Aurelians, as life-mates they had the instinctual drive to protect and provide for them. But many of the Aurelians sold in auctions were from poverty and had lived their lives in slavery for the singular purpose of being sold one day. They came from a variety of lands across the world, often times having to completely abandon any life they may have had and those they may have known in order to become the mate of an individual who bought them. And that was nothing compared to the conditions they may have suffered before the sale.

It was thusly understandable that his cousin, who was born from an Aurelian, would be horrified by the idea he was attending an auction where three Aurelians would be sold.

It was hard to see the expression of Andrius’s face as he was in his beastly form but the pale blue-grey whisp like orbs in the wolf skull of his face seemed to glow with an angry light and Valens felt fury radiating off him in waves. The Anwir’s ears were pressed back flat and his black fur bristled making the formal wear he was wearing puff and strain against the sudden increase in size of the wearer.

[#982212 [b “If you want to leave, we can,”]] Valens offered as he handed the inventory list to Andrius to see. Valens couldn’t have possibly known in that moment what would occur later. How could he ever have guessed that his cousin who had already loved and lost a mate, and who abhorred the selling of Aurelians like cattle at slaughterhouse would purchase one himself?]]]
muta|beast|   12d ago

[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Abel] 
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/UqduH6I.jpg]][center [size15 [abel [#982212 [b “The auction tonight. They’re selling Aurelians.”]] Valens spoke slowly like he was choosing his words wisely. His carefulness was useless, and the man knew it.
The wooden banister crumpled beneath Andrius’s grip, showering the ground with woodchips. His vision had gone white with rage. Blood roaring in his ears, he felt vomit rise in his throat, but he swallowed it down. The beast needed to break something before he ripped the auctioneer's eyes out with his teeth. Andrius devoured the chair next to him, crushing the piece of furniture between his sharp teeth. A cluster of men behind him sneered at his behavior but didn’t say anything.
His mother’s gentle face appeared at the end of his tunnel vision. Her soft smile and easy laugh slowed his pulse. The Anwir grew unnaturally still, like a hero locking eyes with Medusa and meeting their stony fate. After a few moments, Andrius let out a low growl quiet enough for only his cousin to hear.
[b [#666498 “No, I want to stay.”]]


The Anwir sighed before trading bone and fur for soft flesh. A beautiful, ethereal-looking man composed himself where the beastly canine stood moments before him. He drew his long midnight hair back into a loose bun before letting his hands fall to his sides. He narrowed his sharp grey eyes at the stage, his focus trained on the auctioneers’ movement. Any Anwir could tell by his body language that the predator was waiting for a reason to devastate the auction house. There was no question about who’d win this battle.
Andrius pulled his kimono closer to his body. He gently thumbed the hem of the silk absently. [b [#666498 “How many?”]] He asked Valens. His voice surprised him, low, and horse. Clearing his throat, he tried again. [b [#666498 “How many Aurelians are being sold tonight?”]]


Money wasn’t a problem for the Anwir. Not only was he royal, but Andrius also had a successful business and estate. He could most likely afford the purchase of an Aurelian if it came down to it, but it wasn't something he wanted. If he had it his way, the purchase of slaves would be outlawed, and the Aurelians would be free. But he wasn’t willing to start a war, not yet.


He surveyed the crowd and took note of who was in attendance. There were a dozen familiar faces. The amount of Anwir had tripled in the last hour. Why hadn’t he noticed before?
Running his fingers through the strands of ebony locks that had escaped his tie, he let out a frustrated breath. He needed to stay calm.
LIVE|ѕaraι|   9d ago

[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/SrZBh0w.jpeg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Sarai gently thumbed the soft silk of his dressing robe as he sat as still and straight as a statue for the woman applying his makeup. Her wet brush gently dapping at his full, slightly parted lips as she painted them with a brighter hue to draw the eye. If it weren’t for the subtle feel of breath against her fingertips even she might have been able to believe that this young man was not real but instead a piece of art carved by a master. His beauty belonged in portraits and immortalized in song and poetry not here in reality where it might be tarnished. Of course, if Sarai could hear such thoughts he’d be forced to break her fantasy and remind her that he had long been tarnished by the world. What slave could be considered pure?

It was true, however, that he was more beautiful than most could believe but that beauty was simply the nature of his kind. Aurelians. Some legends said the name, which meant ‘Golden Ones’, came from the legend that the first of their kind had divine blood which ran gold when they were cut. Others said the first of their kind had hair so bright it was as if it had been spun by gold. And yet others still said it was because they were more valuable than gold itself. The young man didn’t particularly believe any of the legends of his kind’s origins; he had not a drop of gold in his blood, and an Aurelian could have any appearance, and lastly he had learned that while his value was quite high it was one which could be compensated in gold.

That was exactly why he was there that night, after all. It was time for the slavers to get their compensation for all they had invested in Sarai. The young man didn’t begrudge them their greed towards him. This was merely the nature of the world. And he couldn’t deny for all the pain he had experienced at their hands, the humiliations, and inhumane treatment; they had kept him alive till now. He had been fed, and clothed, and offered the ability to learn things he never could have dreamed of in the place he’d been born. It was all he could do to rationalize it.

The young man seemed to glow in the room due to his paleness and beauty, almost angelic in his softness. His skin was pale, a sign he hadn’t spent time toiling in the sun and instead was kept inside like a treasure; his body was slender but not overly thin with the slightest hint of lithe muscles to his frame. Pale, platinum locks of soft curls sat on his head like a crown. His facial features were as one might see in paintings hung in palaces with full cheeks, a dainty and straight nose with a slight upturn to the tip, a feminine jaw, pink full lips, and his eyes. His eyes were truly the most stunning feature he possessed. They were quite large, giving his face a youthful and doll like quality with long, fine lashes that were surprisingly dark in color. His eyes were rimmed with a red discoloration as if he had been crying just moments ago. But most stunning were his irises; a light yet vibrant blue which seemed to reflect hues of pink and purples when they shifted with a misty gloss as if they held unshed tears. His eyes truly lived up to his name of Sarai. Perhaps even the royal jeweler of Rusa would be envious of such gem like eyes. But those same gem eyes that were so radiant and full of light were also devoid of anything else; it was as if the boy held no emotions within him, as if he could not be bothered to something as pointless as [i feel].

Those jewel eyes shifted from staring into the mirror to glance at the woman applying his makeup. She wasn’t a remarkable beauty like the women Sarai was used to. She was slender, with gentle hands and common features. She wasn’t unattractive by any means but she wasn’t a beauty who could move the soul. She was dressed in plain but neat clothes that didn’t get in the way of her working and she showed great skill and precision in her work. Sarai noticed a slave marking on her ankle when she moved to his other side. Each slaver company used a magic brand to mark their goods so they couldn’t run away or be stolen. The brand could be removed or overwritten if you knew the casting magic but forcing it off would result in scarring. Sarai didn’t recognize the symbol to identify the ownership, but then again he was really only familiar with his own slaver’s brand. Aurelians weren’t branded themselves, it decreased their value to have such a thing, but he’d been around enough of the regular slaves to know what it was. He briefly wondered if she belonged to a private owner, or was owned by the auction house itself. If she had been freed the brand would have been removed so she must still be owned by someone.

The woman stepped back, [b [#d05a82 “Is it to your liking?”]] She asked as she began to pack up her work tools. Sarai stood up from the chair he’d been seated in and approached the mirror to better inspect himself. His eyes were painted with a gold smokey eye with bold liner that matched the jewelry he’d be adorned with for his exhibition. His lips weren’t quite red but a similar hue of color that was quite sexy when he parted his lips. And she had used a shimmering, reflective powder to highlight his bone structure. He nodded rather than speaking and breezed past the woman. She felt dizzy with the sweet scent of lotus that came off the boy when moved so smoothly around her. His nimble fingers unfastening the robe to declare his intention to dress now. He had a dancer’s gait when he walked, putting more of his weight on the balls of his feet than the heel.

While he was certainly shameless enough to dress in the open there was a screen prepared for their comfort so he moved there to get dressed, the woman following after him to assist with his fastening and any difficulties his attire might have for him.

In order to better appeal to the buyers this evening each of the Aurelians would perform a talent to showcase their appeal. Sarai had many talents, he played several instruments, he sang, he could speak multiple languages and was skilled in the art of conversation, but his greatest talent was dance. He had learned several styles and with each he could masterfully move, embodying the emotion and feel of the style perfectly. Thus, his attire for the evening was a dance costume for the more provocative Raqs Sharqi style that was native to his home of Rusa and for such a provocative style of dance only a provocative style of clothes would do.

He wore a halter top of mesh material that was completely sheer and ended just a bit after his pectorals, showing his stomach; the mesh material was white but blended with his pale skin giving the impression that nothing was there and the cross hatch of the mesh was beaded with light gold beads at every cross. The collar of the halter looked like a necklace with the ornate curls and design of the gold and the large colorful gemstones. From the large centerpiece of the collar several delicate gold chains fell and wrapped around his torso, connecting to the collar again in the back. The top had no sleeves, instead he wore arm bands with the same delicate chains, no adorned with color beading that matched his collar and dangling thin, gold coins that would produce noise when he moved even slightly. Attached to each of the bracelets were long billowing strips of lightweight fabric that were also attached to the back of his collar, the join at the bracelet would allow him to release these fabrics during his dance for a visually impactful moment. The strands of fabric were white at the collar and faded into a vibrant yet soft purple towards the ends like flower petals. His nails were painted the same shade of purple with an iridescent sheen atop them that reflected light just like the jewels he wore.

The bottoms were sirwal style pants with long side slits which extended from where they gathered at the ankle up to his hip showing the whole of his leg. The fabric was sheer and the purpose was less to cover him and more to create shapes that would move when he danced. Like the strips of fabric he wore on his torso they faded in color from sheer white to a sheer purple. In fact, the fabric was so sheer that his jeweled under garments were clearly visible. But again, this was intentional. He wore a golden, jeweled belt at his hip level with the same style as his collar and the same delicate thin coins which would create noise when he rotated his hips even slightly. Delicate gold strands again fell and looped around him this time drawing the eye to the shape of his hips and the curve of his backside. His feet were bare but he wore anklets that matched his bracelets. Finally he gathered the last piece of his costume but didn’t yet put it on. Instead the bundle of white, opaque fabric was held in his arms as he exited the screen.

The woman helped to lead him to the waiting room where the other two Aurelians who were being auctioned were already waiting. He could faintly hear the call of the auctioneer as they began with the regular pieces being sold. The Aurelians would be the showcase and finale and Sarai would the finale of them all. There were slavers and staff of the auction house in the room as well when he entered and for a moment the breath of the room was stolen. The members of the other slaving company seemed displeased with Sarai while those associated with him and the staff seemed quite happy. The other companies weren’t merely displeased because Sarai was beautiful, in fact in terms of beauty one could not claim any Aurelian more beautiful than another as it was a matter of taste for these flawless beings. No, it was the way that Sarai carried himself. Of the other two Aurelians being sold one was too overbearing and intimidating while the other was too timid and would curl in on himself; but Sarai walked with grace and poise as if he had been raised among nobility. Of course, this way of carrying himself was something taught in the brothel, among the highest members of society he couldn’t afford to act like a pauper.

Settling into on of the seats away from the slavers and staff Sarai briefly glanced over at the other two Aurelians. They were also looking at him. The three didn’t look at each other with any emotions other than curiosity, they were not competing with one another the way their slaving companies were and they would likely never see each other again. So there was no animosity, just interest.

The first to look away from Sarai’s gaze was an Aurelian of similar height and build. Sarai had heard him practicing his vocal range earlier, he had a high voice with a pleasant warble. Unlike the pale Sarai this Aurelian had lightly colored, sun-kissed skin spotted with freckles on his shoulders and the bridge of his nose and cheeks. He had green eyes flecked with gold that were slightly drooped and gave a soft impression. His hair was a honey color that looked soft. He really resembled a canary. No doubt he'd be popular. But he also seemed anxious. He kept wringing out his hands and looking down. He was quite the timid little songbird.

The other was the largest of them. He was easily nearing to six feet in height and was built like a warrior. If Sarai recalled correctly this one was from the continent of Yusai like he was but he was from the Eastern kingdom of Kogark. Honestly, Sarai wouldn’t have guessed that on his own. Most of the people from Kogark have milk like skin tones so darker individuals like this Aurelian were especially rare there. This man had skin so dark with the luster of a black pearl. His eyes were deep and steady and his black hair was long straight and pulled up into a long ponytail at the crown of his head. Sarai guessed he was probably older than himself as it was likely he’d be sold to a female Anwir. Female Anwir typically responded better to older Aurelians than younger ones like Sarai. So it was probably this black pearl like Aurelian was in his late twenties or even his early thirties.

With their respected curiosities sated the three of them went back to waiting until it was time to be presented on stage. There were light refreshments provided to the Aurelians. Most of them were eaten by the dark skinned one. The little songbird seemed to nervous to eat and Sarai didn’t want to put anything weighty in his stomach before dancing. Instead he lightly sipped on water as time passed in waves. Finally the staff began leading out the Aurelians. First the little songbird was taken out. When he finally returned to the sitting room he looked much better than when he left. Sarai guessed that now that he’d been presented his nerves had finally gotten a chance to calm. After the songbird was the black pearl. Sarai had no idea what kind of talent he would be presenting but he didn’t bother with worrying over it.

When the man returned Sarai finally felt the pressing weight of his circumstances. He felt like his lungs were being forcibly pressed and it was hard to breathe for a moment. He spent the new few minutes trying to erase this feeling until finally he was his turn to follow out to the stage. As he approached the stage, led by a staff member of the auction house, he unfolded the cloth in his hands and finally donned it. It was veil that covered him from head to toe. The opaque white fabric was sheer enough that his form could be seen but kept his features obscured.

With the sensitive hearing the Anwirs possessed they had surely heard him approaching the stage, the pleasant sound of delicate metal clinking against one another. The anticipation that they felt for the final ‘item’ was palpable. As he walked out there were murmurs from the crowd, the veil he wore kept them from seeing him clearly and the way it covered him completely almost gave the image of a bride. Sarai took his place at the center of the stage, not lifting the veil for them to see him. Mellilla had taught him that denying them would increase their desire for him, so he would wait until they could no longer contain themselves and only then would he reward their patience.

The familiar music began, a gentle melody that his body move to with ease. Though they could no make out his features they could still see his silhouette beneath the veil. They could hear his movements that were made music by his attire. The dance was slow at first, like a calm pond in carefully cared for garden. His arms and legs moved in large, flowing stances that drew in the eye and he painted a story with his body as the brush. As the murmurs in the crowd grew, the impatience of his audience to see him grew with it and finally the tone of the music shifted suddenly. In a single motion he tore the veil from his body and the sound of the crowd was ecstasy. He no longer moved slowly and gently instead Sarai had become like a lotus bloom whose stalk had broken and now was subject to the currents of the river. He moved just like raging water so fluid and strong but with the grace and beauty of an exotic flower. The audience could finally see the full colors of his costume and the gems which caught and reflected the light towards them danced in harmony with the young man but his movements were so quick they couldn’t see his features clearly. They could see he was beautiful and their thirst he’d grown with the veil had been momentarily quenched but still there was longing for him. And just as suddenly as the music had swelled before it calmed now and his body slowed with it, finally giving the audience a chance to see his features as he resumed the slow and sensual movements he had begun under the veil.

Instead of the mood falling with the music it grew as they finally saw him. He could feel the desire by the audience to own him. The song ended and the audience was still clamoring but Sarai stood firm and proud on the stage. His chest undulated powerfully with his shaking breaths, and his legs trembled in this out stretched pose he was in, his skin was damp and glistening with sweat as proof of his exertion, and his face flushed beautifully red. He looked seductive under the lights before them all. Finally, he slowly dipped his body as if giving a curtsy to the audience before he stood and left the stage. None of the Aurelians stayed on stage for the actual auctioning of themselves. Perhaps the auction houses felt it was unsightly? Either way Sarai was led back to the sitting room from earlier where the other two Aurelians were waiting. He practically fell into the chaise he’d been sitting in earlier, letting his body relax into the soft fabric as he came down from the stimulation of his dance.

Sarai didn’t bother to listen to the sound of the auction as price after price was called out. He didn’t care how much he was bought for. He almost violently didn’t wish to know, as he curled his legs up to his chest on the chaise and tried to push out the image of a sun-aged hand worn by their life outstretched to accept a small pouch of gold. It wouldn’t do him any good to think of that now.

After some time, a woman dressed smartly in men’s attire came inside and gently smiled at them with no warmth to her face. [b [#00046f “Congratulations, you’ll return with your ‘companies’ tonight and the paper work regarding your ownership will finish processing tomorrow afternoon.”]] The woman didn’t flinch or hesitate with any of her words, clearly used to addressing such things. The dark skinned Aurelian frowned on hearing they would return to their slavers for another night and the little canary seemed to tremble more but ultimately no words were spoken by the three. They were too used to being told what to do to think about behaving differently.

Shortly after the slavers returned to the room and approached their respective Aurelians. The ones who approached Sarai seemed particularly pleased. They were lauding some abstract praise onto him but Sarai just blocked out the sound, [b [#483c32 “The one who bought you is a member of royalty. His name is Sorandrius Vox-”]]

[b [#7f8a9b “I’m tired,”]] Sarai interrupted, cutting off their words. He had no desire to listen to the slavers speak of his new owner. [b [#7f8a9b “I was told the paperwork would take until tomorrow to finish. Take me back to our lodgings.”]] He demanded without emotion in his voice. He could see the way the slavers bristled at the slave’s sudden change in demeanor towards them. But Sarai wasn’t their property anymore, if they were to lay a hand on him now they would be incurring the wrath of his Anwir. For most that wrath would lead to death. Thus they had no choice but to swallow their complaints and abide by Sarai’s wishes.

Sarai supposed that free of worry of injury by these men was a silver lining of his new ownership.

[i [#7f8a9b Sorandrius]], he mused on the name briefly before pushing it out of his head.]]]
LIVE|valenѕ|   9d ago

[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/kqdfu1T.jpg]] [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Abel] [center [size15 [abel Valens watched his cousin quite literally devour a chair with caution in his gaze. When Andrius had crumbled the wooden railing of their balcony seating he had flinched awkwardly. As a noise sensitive species all those near to them in other balcony booths looked over to see what was happening. Valens awkwardly avoided the questioning and judgmental gazes of the others. But when Andrius crumpled the chair next to him and began ripping it apart with his claws and fangs even Valens was a tad stunned. Though, despite the visceral reaction Andrius was having Valens couldn’t help but think that he was taking the whole thing rather well. He half expected when he told his cousin about the Aurelians that he’d lose his sanity and start fighting his way to the stage to rip out the throat of the auctioneers before killing all the auction house staff and slavers present. Of course with as many Anwirs as there were here tonight even Andrius wouldn’t be able to get very far but he’d certainly do some damage.

After a minute or so of chewing Andrius seemed to collect himself and honestly that sudden calmness made Valens skin crawl. Or maybe that was just the beginning of his transformation. It was hard to tell. As Valens’s body thinned and stretched, and fur slowly erupted over his skin his cousin seemed to sink down into his own transformation. All of the Anwirs around them were experiencing a similar transformation; trading their beastly forms for a mortal appearance or vice versa. [#666498 [b “No, I want to stay,”]] In the midst of his transformation the sound was still a growl and it was spoken in a volume only Valens would hear.

The now beastly prince let out a stress filled sigh. It was going to be a long night. His cousin now had a regal appearance of pale skin with a curtain of black hair which he swept back and up into a loose bun and readjusted his formal robe so it wasn’t as loose. Meanwhile Valens had gone from looking like a nobleman to a cryptid. Unlike most Anwir, Valens didn’t have to worry about his beastly form stretching out his clothes. The emaciated frame made the clothes fit looser instead of tighter it was only that the sleeves and trousers were now short for his long, dangly limbs.

Casting his sunken in gaze towards Andrius he found that despite his supposed calmness he was still posed like a beast on the hunt. [#666498 [b “How many?”]] He was stunned by the question and it took him a second to gather his wits, [#666498 [b “How many Aurelians are being sold tonight?”]]

[#982212 [b “Uh,”]] Valens picked up the inventory listing again, [#982212 [b “three?”]] Most auctions carefully controlled the amount of Aurelians to be auctioned at a single time and location. It was how they kept them so rare and pricey. [#982212 [b “Why?”]] Looking at the calculative eyes of the dark haired man Valens got a sinking feeling in his withered stomach. [#982212 [b “Oh gods no. Please tell me you aren’t thinking of [i buying them],”]] Valens voice fell into a whisper towards the end of his plea. It wasn’t merely because buying three Aurelians would be very costly. Both Valens and Andrius were some of the wealthiest of their kind not only due to their family lineage but due to their vastly profitable territory and business ventures. While it would be a financial hit to purchase all three, Andrius could easily do so. No the reason Valens was panicked was because buying up three Aurelians would make them a lot of unnecessary enemies. It wasn’t possible to tether all three and those other of their kind who came that evening would be horribly offended by a single Anwir buying multiple. And as much as Valens enjoyed the chaos of going against their society fighting his way out of this auction house was not something he wanted. And what if the other attendees spread rumors that Valens was with Andrius when he bought three? Oh gods, they’d definitely think one was his. If Aila heard that rumor she’d hunt him down and skin him without hearing the truth. It would definitely get him in trouble.

[#982212 [b “Andrius please, [i please] don’t do this. I know you hate this, I do as well but buying the three of them isn’t going to change anything. They’ll be safer with Anwirs than they are now, please. And you’re not listening to a word I say are you?”]] Valens was frustrated but he knew he couldn’t reign in his cousin.

The best he could do was make a deal, [#982212 [b “Fine, but at least promise me that if the other bidding Anwir is decent you’ll back off?”]] Andrius didn’t seem to want to make that deal so Valens added on, [#982212 [b “If you don’t I swear I will be a little shit and cause a huge scene that gets us kicked out before they even start auctioning them. [i Deal]?”]]

Finally Andrius relented and agreed to the condition Valens set. As the night waned on Valens fell into an even more anxious state. In order to combat his nerves and distract from the looming danger his cousin posed the auction house and everyone in it he ended up bidding and winning several items. He had no idea how much had spent or even what all he had bought but he supposed it was fine. He had the money and all those things could just be given as gifts to the Aurelian prince when he arrived.

When the last true item had been auctioned the room became restless and Valens had to dryly swallow his saliva. It was finally time. The auctioneer gave a grand speech to introduce the rare and exotic goods he was about to present and Andrius looked ready to eat the man’s face when he referred to the Aurelians like objects.

The first Aurelian brought forward was a young boy, he seemed so small on the grand stage and his features expressed fear. He was a sweet looking boy with golden hair and sun kissed skin and when he opened his mouth to sing the trill of a song bird followed. He sang an aria from a famous opera. It was a song about love and love lost that suited his high pitch. Both his voice and appearance would suit a leading role in such an opera. When the song concluded the boy bowed to them and was escorted off the stage by staff. When the auctioneer began calling for prices Valens almost choked as Andrius’s placard went up among the sea of those bidding. Instead of trying to deter him at this point Valens judged who else was placing offers.

[#982212 [b “You should fold,”]] Valens advised his cousin, [#982212 [b “the most aggressive of the bidders is Nevah, she and Aila were lovers if you recall.”]] The woman in question was in her beast form and her snake-like features and long body took up quite a lot of room. As he had said she and Aila were lovers nearly a century ago, but that was also around the time of Andrius’s marriage so Valens wasn’t sure he’d recall. Memories stained with grief weren’t always easy to remember. [#982212 [b “If she’s bidding on this one it’s likely not for herself. More than likely she intends for the Aurelian to be tethered to her younger brother Kabir. He was born with a disability,”]] Valens didn’t mention the part where that disability was a result of him being a fourth generation like himself, the bitterness in his voice would tell Andrius all he needed to know, [#982212 [b “and can’t walk. He’s a scholar. The boy will live well with him.”]] Kabir was younger than them by more than a full century but he was incredibly intelligent and his family was well respected. His disability meant there were those who looked down on him but he didn’t care about the opinions of others. From what little Valens knew of him he was an intelligent Anwir who liked to study medicine and botany and was confined to a wheelchair. Nevah was strongly protective of him and loved him dearly. It wouldn’t be a good idea to make her an enemy unnecessarily; especially with her reputation for being ruthless and aggressive with those she disliked.

Ultimately Andrius seemed to agree with his assessment as he saw the other bidders lose to Nevah and bowed out. Nevah won the first Aurelian and wore a smug expression of victory after the final bid was called. The next Aurelian was introduced as coming from the Kingdom of Kogark, at the name Andrius stiffened more. Kogark was the same kingdom Andrius’s mother came from. He would likely be aggressive in trying to bid for this one. But when the large, beautiful man with dark skin came out to demonstrate his appeal Valens almost laughed trying to picture the man with his cousin. They would make a completely mismatched pair. It was clear this Aurelian was most appealing to the females of their kind. Nonetheless, when bidding started Andrius’s placard went up as well.

It was difficult for Valens to determine who was most likely to win this bid, not merely because his sides were starting to hurt from holding in his laughter but because there were so many Anwirs bidding aggressively. When female Anwir decided they wanted to settle down and have children they were particularly firm. But after observing he noticed one in particular who was likely to win. [#982212 [b “The one bidding over there,”]] Valens gestured out of sight of others as he leaned towards Andrius to whisper, [#982212 [b “She’s Neema. I don’t know her well but she’s one of my mother’s juniors and our senior. Given her age she’s probably entered her nesting stage. If she’s taken a liking to this Aurelian she won’t let go easily,”]] He cautioned. Besides female Anwirs were especially fond of their mates and would never do anything to harm them, their protective instincts towards the father of their children was stronger than males. Her background and ranking meant that not only could she afford the high price of the Aurelian but also that others would be intimidated and unlikely to try to make an enemy of her.

When Andrius’s placard stopped raising for the man Neema shot their booth a challenging look, Valens smiled in a sort of apology and hope she wouldn’t make an issue of it in the future, especially when she won the man in the end.

Letting out a sigh Valens felt he might start losing fur by the end of the night. There was still one more Aurelian to be shown. [#794465 [b “This last piece is perhaps the most exquisite of all this evening, from the oasis capital of Rusa we bring you an Aurelian as beautiful as gem he is named for; [i Sarai].”]]

Unlike the previous two Aurelians who were escorted onto the stage this one walked on their own. When they appeared the audience was stunned to see that they were completely covered. From the crown of their head all the way down to their bare feet there was a long veil obscuring the boy from their eyes. They should still see his shape beneath it but as for how he looked it was a mystery. The boy didn’t seem at all concerned with everyone’s attention and conjecture over his attire; instead he merely took his place without a single word and waited until the music began.

Valens didn’t know the piece that began to play, he knew the style was a traditional one, one might hear in Rusa but the composer and story was unknown to him. It was possible that Andrius, who had traveled more than Valens, was more familiar with it. At first his movement matched the music, drawing them in with each step making a gentle noise. But just as the audience began to get restless with the obscured Aurelian the boy discarded the veil with a flourish. The image of the fabric fluttering in the air as the music swelled and boy’s movements began bold and almost desperate made even Valens’s breath stall for a moment.

In response there was clamor among the Anwirs. The boy moved too quickly and fluidly to really catch sight of his face but what could now be seen of him and his body was as exquisite as promised by the auctioneer and the desire to have such an Aurelian as one’s life mate was intensified. The pale boy who flashed with gold and violet never missed a step or seemed awkward. He was like a flower falling in the air before them. There was nothing to do but to watch the boy. And just as suddenly as the audience had been brought up to rapture were they suddenly plummeted back into calmness. With the music the boy’s movements also slowed into a sensual beckon. The gentle rolls of his hips seemed to promise bliss to those that desired him but those jewel like eyes held nothing but indifference towards the ones enthralled by his appearance. Valens felt a deep seated want to leave. He felt the instinct that the fight for this mate would be unpleasant and he wanted no part of it. Once again he felt he should punch Yandriel in the face when they next met. Now that his movements had slowed they could all see his features clearly; his flushed cheeks and parted, panting breaths were quite tempting and when the music stopped he paused only for a brief moment as if soaking in the emotions offered by his audience before dipping into a curtsey and leaving the stage as if it was something insignificant to him.

When the auctioneer returned to the stage he had a pleased smile as he began to call out numbers. The wave of raised placards made Valens want to tell Andrius not to bother but his sunken eyes drifted and his body stilled violently. There was an Anwir he recognized in the crowd below; his smug expression as he bid for the Aurelian a complete match to the one he’d worn when he’d hurt their friend so many years ago. In a manner not so different from the one Andrius demonstrated earlier Valens began to emit a killing intent. His dull fur bristled out and his ear laid flat against his skull, his mouth opened showing his over large fangs made all the more intimidating by his receded gums. His claws dug into his own legs, tearing the cloth and gouging his flesh. The smell of blood attracted the attention of Anwirs nearby and his pointed gaze eventually caused the Anwir he wanted so badly to kill to turn his head as well.

Zavior.

When their eyes met Zavior’s mouth turned from a smirk to a snarl. Valens hated Zavior for the part he played in Ciprian’s death and his abhorrent attitude. And Zavior hated him for the fact that Valens, who was rejected by most of their society and disliked combat, was stronger than him and humiliated him in competition. It was many years earlier when Valens had entered the ranking competition with the sole purpose of reaching Zavior. He’d managed to do fight and defeat the other Anwir, in fact it hadn’t even been too difficult so Valens had toyed with him. He made it obvious to everyone watching their fight that Zavior was weaker than himself. And then as soon as he’d won that match he dropped out of the competition as if the ranks didn’t matter to him at all. It made Zavior’s complete defeat to Valens all the more humiliating.

The bastard turned with a sneer at the pair and resumed his aggressive bidding. Valens had heard he’d risen in rank recently and after seeing that Andrius was also bidding on this particular Aurelian his pride would likely push him to try and obtain the boy.

[#982212 [b “Bastard,”]] Valens cursed. Andrius must have seen him as well because he became even more focused on his bids.]]]

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