ONCE UPON A TIME... von Gonyosoma


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TEIL 1 -- TEIL 2 -- TEIL 3 -- TEIL 4 -- TEIL 5


Zetsuai in der Welt der Fantasy. Feedback would be soooo nice! gonyosoma1@aol.com





Once upon a time .....

A few thousand years ago. Some tribes still live as Hunters, others already started to settle in one place and to cultivate the ground. This is the time, where this story takes place.

"Look up!" Akihito screams. Koji has barely time to react and turns around. A big sabertooth seems to come out of nowhere. It just jumps down from the rocks and lands right next to him. A second later and these enormous paws would have shredded him. Koji curses to himself. They have been to careless.

He, his brother Akihito and two men have been scouting, where to hunt best and how to steal, if possible, already hunted deer and other food. The whole day long, they have seen neither the people who live here nor even the sign of a dangerous animal.

Now, Koji finds himself in the middle of a real mess and has no idea of how to get out.

The sabertooth turns around and really looks pissed. They must have disturbed it badly.

But, on the other hand, a sabertooth does not need an excuse for being in a bad mood.

The sabertooth hisses and jumps again. Koji feels the foul stench of its breath in his face, he sees himself being death already and just hopes, that it will be fast. The next second, the body of the animal goes lax, it just collapses on top of him. A strange arrow sticks exactly in the side of its neck. It is dead immediately.

Koji looks up.

A young man stands beside the rocks. His skin is suntanned, his hair and eyes are dark.

He is very slender and tall, in his eyes burns a vivid fire. He holds a bow and slowly grabs for another arrow. For a second, he seems to be unsure of what to do next. He does not recognize the other men.

Koji knows immediately that it is a hunter from the tribe that is living here.

Koji belongs to a tribe of nomads, living the old way, hunting deer, collecting food and following the herds during the seasons. A lot of tribes live in a new way: staying at one place, farming and breeding animals. The space is getting narrow for nomads. The settled tribes do not like strangers coming around, stalking in their hunting-grounds and killing some of the tamed animals.

Koji's tribe reacted: They hunt but they also steal everything they want, relying on their fighting skills that they keep improving. From the settled tribes, they can steal almost everything: food, furs, goods, horses, sometimes even women. They rarely are fighters.

"Just this one here really knows how to use a bow", Koji thinks.

Suddenly he spots Akihito behind the boy. Akihito throws a stone to his head and the dark stranger collapses at once. Akihito pulls a knife and leans over the boy, bloodlust in his eyes. Koji struggles to be free and screams: "Stop, I want him alive." Akihito looks surprised: "Why? He will rat us out and we have to go before our stocks are filled. It is better to kill him now and to hide the body."

Koji stands up. Every bone in his body hurts, but he was lucky: no open wounds, no broken bones.

"I owe him my life. We can take him with us. In a few days, we will leave this area. Then he is no longer a thread and may return to his tribe."

Akihito does not look too satisfied, but he also does not dare to confront him. Koji may be younger, but his stand in the tribe is higher and his fighting skills are without match. As well is his temper and he never avoids a fight. Akihito knows better then to enrage him. If Koji would take more responsibility, he would be chief. But as he does not, Hirose, his eldest brother, is. And even Hirose would never tell Koji what to do.

Therefore, they are taking the unconscious boy with them.

Izumi slowly turns around. At first, there are only sounds: people talking, some girls giggle, a dog barks, tent cloth rustles. Then his vision is getting clearer. He is lying on some soft furs at the side of a tent, his hands are tied together and his head hurts like hell. What happened? He was on a hunting trip, checking some fresh trails and suddenly found

human tracks. That was strange. Most of the men in his tribe do not hunt anymore. They rely on their farming and are too lazy to go out for several days, leave the shelter of their huts and hunt down a deer. But they never mind, if he brings some meat. He likes it to be around, hunting, running and testing his skills against nature. So who made these tracks?

He suddenly heard screaming and the sound of a big, angry animal. He turned to the sounds and saw 3 Strangers and a really big sabertooth - no, there were 4 strangers, he had not seen the last one until it was too late.

What happend to the pale one? The sabertooth attacked him. Was he alright? And even more important: Why am I here? Izumi wonders. His hands are aching, the ties start to cut into his skin. He looks around. It is a round tent. A pile of furs is lying in the middle, obviously another sleeping-place, on the other side there are a few bundles of weapons, leather, clothes and some food storage. His bow is also there. Apart from that, the tent is empty.

Suddenly, the pale stranger enters the tent. He seems to be in a great mood, because he is laughing and holds a girl in his arm. Izumi looks at him. The man is around his age, also quite slender but bigger. His skin is pale, his hair is nearly white and he has blue, sky-like eyes. The girl at his side is also blonde and very pretty. Izumi never knows how to talk to a girl, so he just blushes when she giggles and kisses him on his forehead. "This one is for saving Koji! And do not get any wrong ideas, I normally only kiss men I am in love with."

Izumi blushed even more, without saying anything.

Koji drags her back and leans over him. "So, the big bad hunter is awake. How is your head?" "It hurts! It feels like your friend really wanted to knock me out for good. Do you always show your gratitude this way?" Koji gets serious. "My brother is sometimes a little .... intense. Let me check." He leans over the boy, puts his hand under the chin and lifts his head. His thumb brushes shortly over Izumis cheek, then he tilts the head to the side. Koji realizes that the boy has the softest skin he ever felt and he somehow likes to touch it. He

lets the other go and steps back. "It is not that bad. You should be OK in a few days. By the way, what is your name? I am Koji and she is Miya." Izumi sighs. "My name is Izumi.

I´m one of the hunters of my tribe. What do you want here ... and with me? Why am I tied up? Your tribe is on our territory - we do not like intruders."

Koji smiles. "So many questions. We are on our way to our winter quarter. It is a little bit late this year but we had some delay. We will cross your grounds and be gone in a few days - not without a little stalking of course."

Izumi jerks up, fury in his eyes. Koji easily pushes him down. "You will be my guest for this time. And you are tied up because I do not want you to do anything stupid - like trying to run away or to alert your tribe. It would be a shame to waste such a capable hunter, wouldn´t it?"

"So I am your prisoner, am I?" "I prefer to call you my guest. You got quite a bump on this thick head of yours, so rest now. We are leaving tomorrow very early and you will accompany me." Koji hesitates for a second, then he lays a fur over his guest and stands up. Miya is already impatient to go back to the others but Koji would like to stay and nag a little more. This Izumi is so ... fiery, it could be a lot of fun.

"Well for now, let´s go back", Koji sighs to himself. They both leave the tent, Izumi watches them go. He is very angry. This time of the year - late autumn - all possible food storages are filled to be prepared for winter, when there is nothing to hunt and even less to harvest.

If these people plunder only a few of the storages, his tribe will be hungry until next spring, if they plunder some more, people will starve for sure. He hears the growling of his stomach and realizes, that he is very hungry now. Well, he cannot do anything about it so he decides to catch some more sleep and lays back in the furs. Slowly, he falls asleep again.

During the night, Izumi wakes up. There are noises like sighing and groans. It takes a few moments until he realizes that Koji is sleeping with a girl, from the sound of her voice it must be Miya. Izumi cannot help but listen, he feels very uncomfortable. He has not found a mate until now, mostly because he is shy but also because most fathers do not want a hunter with no property as a son-in-law. They prefer a farmer or, better, tradespeople.

Feeling frustrated, he tries to sleep again, but it is of no use, they are just too noisy. Finally the girl screams out, followed by a low moan from Koji and then everything is quiet.

Eventually, Izumi goes back to sleep not without deciding to look for a nice girl next spring.

In moments like this, he really feels lonesome.


nach oben


Shortly before dawn, Koji stands up. He likes it to be on his way before his bed-mate, whoever it may be, wakes up. The boy is also awake, he tosses himself around on his sleeping place. Koji kneels beside him. "What is up with you? Cannot sleep?" The boy just looks at him, in his eyes is a mixture of anger and pain. They remind Koji of a stag, he once caught in a trap. It was a proud animal, fighting to the very last. He was almost sorry when he finally killed it. The boy rises his tied hands. Now Koji understands. The ties have been too tight, cutting into the flesh. It is swollen and blue, blood drops from a cut. "We will do something about that now, do not move." Koji takes his knife and carefully starts to cut the ties. Izumi presses his lips together. It must hurt him, but somehow they have to be removed. Finally, the bond opens and Koji takes it away. He stands up and moves to his belongings. He digs in a bundle until he finds a little closed pot. With it, Koji turns to the boy again. He opens it and sinks his fingers in an oily, scented paste. Without a word, he puts the paste on the bruised skin, carefully dispensing it. Izumi closes his eyes. Removing the ties had been painful, but this substance is cool and smooth on his wounds. He opens his eyes again when Koji bandages his wrist. "Tomorrow it will be a lot better. This paste heals wounds really good." "Thanks" Izumi looks a little embarrassed. He wanted to bear the pain like a warrior and now he looses control about such a minor injury. Koji looks at the boy. He blushed and looks so cute, Koji cannot help but raise his hand and caress his cheek. Before any of them could say something, Miya yawns loudly and goes up, disturbing this moment. Koji looks at her coldly. "You should be in your tent. We are moving very soon and everything has to be ready." Miya is so confused, she grabs her clothes and rushes out, not knowing what she has done wrong. Koji does not care. He turns to the boy: "Are you hungry? We can have a hasty breakfast before we have to go." Izumi nods and watches as Koji leaves the tent and returns with some flat bread, meat, apples and a jug of milk. They eat in silence. Finally Izumi questions: "Miya - is she your lifemate?" Koji looks at him surprised, then he starts to laugh. "Oh no, she is just a good bed share - like some other girls here also. I do not have a wife, but I do get a lot of good offers ... and I like to take them." Izumi is getting deep red, he desperately tries to change the subject. "Where are we going today?" Koji leans back. "We will move on and try to reach a hideout at the outer surface of this chain of hills. We will not reach it today but for sure tomorrow. It is the last hideout before the great plain we also have to cross. When we reach the river and leave your territory, you will be free." They finish their breakfast. Koji takes a long rope and wraps it around Izumi's waist. He also ties his hands together again, but this time he is more careful. The bonds are firm but not too tight. They leave the tent together. Koji takes his bundles outside, strikes the tent fast and saddles his horse. Every move is perfect, calculated and experienced. Izumi just stares with awe. There are more people around, striking tents and packing things. It looks like they are in total confusion. But it just seems so. The swiftness in which the whole camp is completely packed and ready to go for him is simply unbelievable. A hut is always there. If you remove it, there will still be signs that it has been there, but this ... Koji noticed his look and smiles, he packs his bundles on the horse and ties Izumi to the saddle. "You look like you would not mind a little walk, do you?" Koji carefully checks that everything is in place, then he mounts on the horse. The others are ready, too. So they break up. The pace is fast, the whole day they travel without a break. Izumi stumbles a little. He is tired and his head started to hurt again around noon, it feels like a dull blow every step he takes. The pain increased during the afternoon and his vision is blurred, he just hopes that they will camp soon. Suddenly the horse stops. He nearly runs into it. The leader of the group screamed a command. People start to talk and pitch tents. A fire is made, horses are unsaddled, in no time the camp stands again. Koji talks to the leader but Izumi cannot understand, what they are saying. The leader angrily looks at him and rides away. Koji jumps down. For the first time since morning, he looks at Izumi's face and notices that something is wrong. He puts his hand under Izumi's chin and raises his head. "Are you OK?" "My head hurts and I am tired but it will be gone soon." Izumi just hopes, that his words sound confident, he does not want to act like a weakling. Koji looks suspicious, but he says nothing and turns to his horse. The tent stands quickly, he brings his belongings and some furs in it and finally pushes Izumi down on one sleeping-place. "Get some rest. I will bring you something to eat later." Izumi stretches himself on the furs and is just too happy to oblige. Slowly, the pain in his head lessens. He rises when Koji enters the tent later. It is already dark. He loosens the ties and hands Izumi a dish with soup and bread. A girl follows him. She looks at Izumi interestedly. "So, this is your guest. Hmm, I hope, he will not disturb us tonight." She clings to Koji and gives him a passionate kiss. Koji´s hands slowly wander over her body. Then he pushes her away. "We will have to pass it by, Eri. I am not in the mood." Eri is not happy: "Since when? The night is young, we can use it. I can give you more then anyone else." She clings to Koji again but he does not want her even near him anymore. "Go! I want to sleep. We have a straining day tomorrow. Visit Hisaya, I know, he is looking for you." In spite of Eri's protests, he pushes her out of the tent and gets ready for sleeping. Izumi has finished his meal, Koji ties him up again. "I hope, I do not spoil your plans. It looks like you are quite occupied with the girls." Koji twitches his shoulders. "All nice body, no brain. Girls like Eri get stale fast. Miya is more interesting, but I have not met a girl yet, who was able to fascinate me for more then a few nights." They both lay back on their furs and fall asleep soon. At night, Koji wakes up because Izumi sleeps uneasily, he throws himself around, cold sweat is running down his skin. Koji sighs. The night is really cold, a sure sign that the winter is not far. In this condition, the boy is susceptible for at least a flu, if not something worse. He decides to keep him warm and walks over to the second sleeping-place. He carefully slides under the furs not to wake him up and presses himself close to Izumi. First he hesitates, but after a moment, Koji puts his arms around the boy. He relaxes soon and feels somehow - comfortable. The boy fits perfectly in his arms, the muscles are compact and tight on his frame. His skin is soft and it smells .... hmmm, Koji could dig himself in this warm scent. He cuddles closer and falls asleep in no time. Before dawn, Izumi awakens. He feels warm, comfortable and suddenly realizes, that he lies in Koji´s arms. Izumi blushes deeply and struggles to be free with the only success that Koji wakes up, too. "What do you think, you are doing? Let go! I do not like to be touched by men, go, find yourself a girl!" Despite of Izumi's anger, Koji smirks. He feels just too good, especially to good to let the boy go. "You are in my tent, on my furs and I can do as I please. So quit nagging, or do you need a lesson in good behavior?" Just to stress his point, Koji leans over Izumi and kisses him deeply. Izumi stares in awe, his body goes tense and rigid. Koji licks his lips. This was - tasty. He bows down a second time, grabs Izumi's chin to force his mouth open and kisses him even longer this time, his tongue exploring Izumi's mouth. He could really get used to this. Too bad that there is no time for more, the sun is already rising. Regretfully, Koji slowly releases the boy. Izumi shivers with anger, his face is deep red and he immediately jerks away from Koji. He has never been kissed before and he never thought that his first kiss would be from a man. He feels violated, surprised and has no idea of how to handle this. He does not say a word, but his eyes seem to emit lightning the whole time until Koji ties him on side of his horse again. Koji teasing him about his red face during breakfast was not very helpful either to cool his anger.

nach oben


They continue their march. Izumi walks beside the horse, his head swims and he feels ill. He is still angry with Koji and his pride is deeply hurt, so he does not talk to him. In the afternoon, they finally reach their destination. The hideout lies hidden between the hills, a little creek flows through it. There is grass for the horses and space enough for the camp. Izumi bleeds from his nose, he collapses beside the horse. Koji is really worried. He jumps down and lifts the boy up. Akihito looks at him: "You are making such a fuss about this dog. Let me put an end on him, he just stops us. I really do not know what is gotten into you." "He kept up the whole day, you cannot blame him for any of our delay. In two days, I free him and you do not have to bother anymore. Besides, he lives here and we might need him to find a hidden passage or the passage through the river. You know that it changes frequently." Hirose sides up. "You have some good points, but I really wonder. I never saw you caring for someone. Is there something, I should know, hmmm?" Koji's eyes become cold. "No." He carefully takes Izumi aside and pitches his tent. After all is ready, he carries the boy in and places him on his sleeping-place. This time, he only made one. He says to himself, that the boy is ill and will need even more warmth this night. He hopes that Izumi will get better soon. But Koji also remembers his feelings and sensations during last night. He is determined to explore this a little more - later. First, he has to share some time with his people, they are already talking too much about him and his guest. Koji smirks. "They do not even know half of it. Well, I like to keep it exact that way." After dinner, Koji refuses some offers, much to the astonishment of everyone and turns to his tent. Izumi is already asleep. Koji stretches himself out beside the boy and puts his arms around him. He kisses his face and gently nibbles on his neck. He enjoys the flavor of this skin, the warm body is feeling great. Koji kisses his way deeper. He caresses a suntanned chest and delightfully sucks on a nipple, turning it into a hard kernel of brown flesh. His hands strike over a flat belly with skin like silk. He is somehow reluctant to go deeper as long as Izumi is not awake, so he ruffles through the dark hair. He loves the feeling of silky strands between his fingers. Izumi's eyes snap open. At first instant, he tries to push Koji away, but Koji goes on and kisses him again. He forces his mouth open and explores it with his tongue, pushing it past Izumi's teeth, drowning it in this mouth. Izumi tosses himself around, breaking the kiss. "Leave me alone, I do not want any of this!" Koji strikes gently over Izumi's smooth chest. "You should not move too much, just relax. I am sure, you will like it. And quit screaming, or do you really want to entertain the whole tribe?" Izumi blushes. He tries to push Koji away, but his efforts are too weak. Koji smiles and starts on this beautiful body again. At first, he rises the tied arms up, moving them out of the way. He kisses the boys neck, leaving small marks on the tender skin, kisses him down the shoulders, placing a small bite at the upper arm and licks his way down the chest. Izumi stops struggling, he cannot help but emit soft moans. Koji works on the nipples now harder, he sucks on the right one, rolling the other between thumb and indexfinger until both get hard and Izumi's body is covered with sweat. Koji moves down slowly, worshipping the flat belly, tasting this delicious navel, and placing again a little bite just beneath it. Izumi's breath comes sharply, if his arousal is any indication, he enjoys this kind of attention. He hates Koji for doing this to him, but he would hate him even more, if he would stop it now. He feels himself driven away, totally lost in new, unknown sensations. Koji strikes about Izumi's member, feels it harden even more under his touch. He himself is rockhard already, he can hardly wait to bury it in this slender body. Koji kisses Izumi again, this time his mouth is shyly answering the kiss. Koji spreads Izumi's legs, placing himself between them. "It is my first time this way, try to relax. It might hurt, I will place my hand over your mouth. At least, if you mind some audience." He puts his left hand over Izumi's mouth, grabs his hips harder and enters him with a swift push, going as deep as possible. Koji can feel a scream against his palm, he holds still, until the boys relaxes a bit. He shoves slowly now into the body. It feels just great. His penis is moving in tight heat, every thrust seems to go deeper. He wants more .... Izumi's breath is harsh, sometimes he emits pained little gasps. Koji holds himself and bends over the boy, he kisses his mouth, his throat and strikes his aroused member tenderly. He wants Izumi to enjoy, not only to endure him. Suddenly, Izumi arches up and gasps into Koji's Hair. Sticky, hot liquid flows over Koji's fingers. Koji kisses Izumi again and moves faster. His penis feels like it hardened even more and his violent thrusts rock the slender boy. Finally, he sinks in a storm of pleasure and his member squirts it's load into the body. Koji falls on his back besides the boy. It was great, better then he ever experienced or even thought possible. Izumi lies quietly beside him, his head is turned away. Koji gently ruffles his hair until Izumi looks at him, then he offers his side. Koji smiles wary, he hopes, Izumi will take it. The moment while the boy just looks at him seems to take an eternity. Finally, Izumi sighs and gives in. The fire in his eyes calms down. He rests his head on Koji's chest, puts his tied hands on his belly and nestles against him. Koji takes a deep breath in. He gently places his arm around the boy, tucks the furs closer, kisses him on the forehead and relaxes. - He cannot remember having felt that good ever before. The sun is shining on a cold autumn morning when Izumi wakes up. He is alone, bread and meat are in reach beside his furs. What happened last night? He remembers slowly and examines his feelings. He should be angry or something, but he is not. He cannot make up his feelings now but there is no anger amongst them. Izumi sighs and decides to sort that out later. He eats his breakfast and lays back on the furs again. His head spins a little but at least does not hurt. Izumi dozes off again, only to be roughly awakened, when someone drags him by his ties over the floor. Izumi look up. It is the man who hit him. Akihito, wasn't it? Koji spoke about him being "intense". He did no exaggerate. "What do you want from me? Let go!" "Ah, the little hunter is awake. I planned to drag you to the creek and drown you like a dog, but now you may as well walk there." He pushes Izumi on his feet and shoves him out of the tent. Izumi is bare-naked, the wind is icing cold. He shivers. Akihito pushes him until they reach the small creek, shoves him in the cold water and pushes his head down. Izumi struggles desperately, somehow he catches one of the legs and manages to pull it away. Akihito lands in the creek with a loud plash, cursing loudly. Izumi goes up on his feet, preparing himself for battle. His chances are small, but whatever he got, he will take it. "Akihito, stop this nonsense. This man is Koji's guest, you cannot kill him." Hirose smiles wickedly. He kneels on a rock in the water. Akihito catches his breath, water is running from his hair, his clothes are soaking wet. He is a sorry sight, except for this insane look in his eyes. "He is useless and an enemy. Koji is just plundering their storage and we feed this dog! And he attacked me! I will cut his throat at once!" "STOP NOW. Bring him over to me, I have got some questions for him." Izumi feels Akihito's hand on his neck, directing him over to the rock. Hirose grabs his chin and forces him to look at him. Hirose examines the boy for a moment. These eyes are burning with a dark fire, defiance and pride are glittering in them. Hmmm - not bad at all. He would love to break this spirit. Too bad Koji claimed him for his own. But at least he can play a little - he feels challenged by the look in these dark amber eyes. "How many hunters does your tribe have? Do they walk far? Is this place visited often? Do you know a safe path over the plain? - Tell me, and stay with the truth. Your life depends on it." Izumi throws his head around, but he cannot break Hirose's grip. "Why should I lie? You will not find my answers very useful but if you depend on them: We are 6 hunters in my tribe. At this late time of year, we normally stay near our settling, the risk to be caught by an early snowstorm is too high. And over the plain? You have to cross it, there is no shelter for a whole day. The only way to remain unseen is to avoid it. And that will cost you at least 4 days. As far as I understand, time is your greatest enemy at the moment, right?" Hirose's grip tightens. "Oh, you are smart. Yes, we run low on time. If you would really slow us down, I had killed you myself already. Tell me, what has been going on between Koji and you in this tent? He never gives a damn about anyone, now he even cares for your food. Strange, is it?" Izumi's look crosses Hirose's, the fire in his eyes is burning even higher. "There is nothing going on that is of your concern. He is just a good host. It looks like he is the only one doing this family some honor." Hirose gasps. Spirit, defiance, he had expected, but a direct attack astonishes him. He decides to let him go - for now. "Akihito, bring him back in Koji's tent. I do not want him to freeze to death. And do not touch him - we might need him later." Akihito pulls him by his hair the entire way back. As soon as they entered the tent, Akihito kicks his legs away, tilts his head back and pulls a sharp knife close to his throat. "You made me look bad in front of my brother. Pray to your gods, that Hirose does not change his mind. I still wait for the moment I can slice you open." Akihito leaves the tent, Izumi catches his breath. "Intense ... that is an understatement." He liked the look in Hirose's eyes even less. He could swear that something like lust lured within - this was more frightening than Akihito's death treat. He dries himself as good as possible and goes back on the furs again. "So Koji is plundering our storage. I really hope, he will not find them. Most of the food is sheltered in the huts, we dug holes under every hut and put as much as possible in them. Some of this earthholes are nearly as big as the hut itself. A well-hidden secret of our tribe. But other things like furs, goods and all food that could not be fit into them is stored outside. Hmm, the richer a person is, the bigger is his open storage. I have some feelings, whose stocks will be found."

nach oben


Some time later, the sun is already about to set, a group of men ride into the camp. They receive a hero's welcome and from the look of it, they deserve nothing less. Koji and his men are heavily loaded, they laugh and shout full of enthusiasm. They carry fine pottery, good furs, grain sacks, fabrics, dried meat, salt and - a big pig. Koji also has a full wineskin in front of his saddle. The whole tribe gathers around the group, voices sum with excitement. Tonight, there will be a real feast, maybe the last before spring. Koji jumps from his horse, he throws the wineskin over his shoulder. "How has it been, Koji? Any difficulties?" Koji turns to Hirose. "Nothing. As soon as we stormed in the village, they ran like rabbits for shelter. We could take all we wanted. A few archers were around, we just rode them down. We lost no one and they have not lost a life either." "Great, good message. Have you been followed?" Koji laughs: "They were busy enough collecting their bones. We drove their few horses widely apart, so they have to chase them by foot. Before dawn, they will not pursue us - we have lots of time." In the meantime, the pig is slaughtered and hung over the fire. It is amazing, how fast the bounty is partitioned. The goods belong to the fighters, the food to the whole tribe. Koji takes his share and steps into his tent. Izumi looks at him. On one hand, he is glad to see Koji healthy, on the other, he is angry about the raid. He recognizes the sign on the wineskin. It belongs to the chief's family. Koji notices his look. He packs his share to the other bundles and drops the wineskin beside the sleeping-place. "If you are relieved, we killed nobody, there was no one hurt either. Your people are really no fighters, they preferred to run and hide. We took what we needed but I am sure, there is enough left. In fact, mainly we plundered just one big storage. Is this your chief's sign?" Izumi relaxes. Only one storage and only the chief's one. That means, the hidden food stocks remained untouched. A luck that it has been a very good season for hunters and farmers. His tribe will have enough to eat until spring, the chief will just not be able to give some of his opulent feasts to show his wealth. And he grants his chief the loss of his goods. He literally sold his daughter to a trader as wife in summer and got so conceited about what he called "a good deal" that the tribe wondered whom he would sell next. "Well, I never accepted him. In his eyes, hunters have no real value, especially a stubborn brat like me. What ever kind of fruit wine this is, it will be delicious." Koji smiles. He was kind of worried about Izumi's reaction. Even though they are fighters, they rarely use brutal force. They do not need it, farmers run for shelter as soon as they see them. The villagers have no real defense against horsemen. It is different, when horsemen are followed by archers or trapped. Then also a farmer can be dangerous. The trick is to stay out of reach and move fast. Koji is highly spirited. He loosens Izumi's ties. "Your tribe sponsored the feast, you will celebrate with us." Izumi barely manages to put his clothes on, he is pushed out of the tent and to a big fire. The pork smells great, the people around him eat, drink and celebrate. He feels insecure and tries to be invisible. No luck, several eyes look at him, someone puts a dish with pork into his hand. They do not talk much to him, but Izumi feels examined and is really eased when Koji takes him back to the tent. They settle on the furs and Koji grabs for the wineskin. They share the skin between them until Izumi lays back. The sweet blackberry wine goes directly to his head, he feels slightly tipsy. Koji grins like a loon. No way to waste such an opportunity. His mouth presses on soft lips, hands bare a sleek chest. Izumi struggles, a hand presses his wrist down. Koji sucks at his neck, leaving red marks on several spots. He meets little resistance, Izumi's protests and wiggles are only halfhearted. Maybe he is too drunk for more. Koji manages to strip off Izumi's clothes, he kisses deeper, relishing silk skin. Izumi trembles under him, moaning. When Koji could not bear it any longer, he pushes his legs up and enters him. Hmm, so tight. Strong legs seize around his waist and pull him deeper. Koji bends down in a tight embrace, devours a soft mouth and feels Izumi's member pressed against his stomach as he moves inside him with deep thrusts, slowly gaining speed as his limit approaches. He feels hot liquid erupt between their bellies, Izumi wrings out a small scream. Moments later, with one last deep thrust, he also reaches his peak. Koji collapses over the boy's body. When he wakes up to reality again, he entangles himself from Izumi's body and looks down on him. The boy looks exhausted, tired and irresistable cute. He caresses his cheek gently, rewarded by a small smile. He will miss him. The thought leaves a sudden pain in his heart. The morning is ice-cold. Over night, the world became white. The Nomads look at the snowflakes, falling from a gray sky. Time has run out on them. If they will not reach their winter quarter very soon, they will freeze to death. Tents are not made for the winter storms, cattle cannot survive on frozen ground. The tribe gathers around Hirose, ready to go. The snow is falling so dense, you can barely see more than a few steps ahead. After leaving the small hills behind, Hirose looks around helplessly. No landmark, no path, no sign where to go. Not even the sun for direction. He is completely lost - and his tribe realizes it. They are getting worried. If they choose a false way, death is sure. The situation is serious and it is clear, that their leader is unable to ease it - Koji bows down to Izumi. He did not tie him to the horse this time, he considered it unnecessary. "Do you know the way across the plain? Can you find it even now?" Izumi notices the concern in Koji's eyes, he nods. "I can lead you to the river. This place is my home, I will be damned if a little snowstorm annoys me." He steps aside and lifts his head in the wind. Snowflakes melt on his skin. Cold wind beats his face. With a feeling - or maybe an instinct - only wild animals and hunters have, he knows the right direction and turns to it. Koji follows. The tribespeople followed their conversation and slowly, one by one, they join them. Hirose and Akihito are the last. The next hours, the whole tribe is completely at one man's mercy - and they know it. The flakes thicken during the day, people and horses sink down to their knees in fresh snow. Hirose fears for his leadership. If Koji's guest will be successful, his authority is gone or, at least, damaged. If he will not, they are dead. Lost in his thoughts, he notices a tree in front of him too late. Hirose barely prevents impaling himself on a branch. "Trees?", There are no trees on this side of the river, except for a few near it, creating a small, green band in summer. "Have they made it?" His questions are answered, when Koji calls out and points ahead. The sound of running water becomes clear. The river lies only a few steps ahead of them.

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As if the spirits of nature were satisfied, the snow lessens. The sight is getting clearer, the entire world is white with a blue band of water and dark forest besides it. Akihito examines the river. The passage, they used two years ago, is gone. Only deep riffles are left, too dangerous to cross. "We have to find a way, otherwise we will be as dead as on the plain." Hirose glances at Izumi, who kneels in the snow, breathing heavily, tucking his fur cloak closer. The boy is totally exhausted, creating a path through fresh snow for them left him without any reserves. Hirose forms a wicked plan. "Koji, please take a few men and check for pursuers. It would be fatal, if they catch us now." Koji raises an eyebrow. Pursuers? It is more likely that the farmers stay safe and warm in their village. Anyway, a check cannot do any harm. He winks a few men and they vanish fast. Fire rings dance before Izumi's eyes, his breath comes harsh. He concentrates on slowing it down. He feels his head lifted roughly. Akihito holds his hands behind, Hirose stands in front of him. This means nothing good. "You know a passage big enough for us, do you? You know everything, right? Where is it?" Hirose plays with a knife just before his eyes. Silence. Izumi snorts "I will not answer to a threat." Without hesitation, Hirose stabs the knife into his shoulder beneath the collarbone, deep. "Oh, you will, I am sure, you will." The pain causes nausea, it burns like fire. If he were not there already, he would fall on his knees. Anger rises in Izumi. He stares in Hirose's eyes. - Silence. The knife is twisted. Slowly. He screams in pain and stares again at Hirose without a word. His pride allows nothing less. The tribes people start feeling uneasy. They are tough, but not cruel and despise torture. But they admire courage. Hirose feels the refuse. Protests are made. His plan was to strengthen his position. Now it becomes clear that he lost it. Worse - he lost his face. He gives up and turns away. "Stubborn little bastard." The tribe ignores him. Hisaya kneels besides Izumi, checking his wound. It is not deadly, it will heal. He presses snow on it to stop the bleeding and looks in Izumi's face. "You like Koji, do you? If we cannot find a way across the river, we will all die. Him as well." Izumi closes his eyes. He answers quietly. "800 steps upside. Only one animal at a time. There is no other possibility around." "Thanks." A scout confirms Izumi's words. The tribe begins to move up to the passage and crosses the river. They leave Izumi behind only after making sure that he will be alright. Izumi smiles bitterly. In only two days, he has become more part of the nomad tribe than he still is of his own. The last horse disappears between the trees. He sighs and turns away from the river. His furs are warm, and he feels better now, the pain lessens. He can make it to a hunter hideout not far from here - and stands face to face with Akihito. "A pity, you have to go. You would fit in so great. Well, I cannot let you go without a little souvenir, right?" He hits him hard in the stomach, Izumi collapses at once. His fur cloak and vest are ripped off. Instantly, the cold cuts into his flesh like a knife. Akihito lays the furs behind his saddle. "Thank you very much for this nice gift. I like it. Oh, and hurry. It looks like a new storm is rising." With a jeering laughter, he kicks him goodbye, mounts his horse and follows the others. Izumi drags himself along. He has to reach the hideout soon, otherwise he will freeze to death. Koji returns with his men, no pursuer was found. The tracks lead them directly back to the tribe. Only a few horses still have to cross the river. Suddenly, Koji bridles his horse harshly. He knows the furs behind Akihito, he saw them the whole day. He grabs them. Yes, it is Izumi's cloak. Without a word, Akihito is hit with full force. He dumps from the horse, wincing in pain. Koji just broke his jaw with a single, mighty punch. Koji gives a short command to his men: "Move ahead, I will catch up with you later." He turns his horse around and hurries the way back. It is difficult to find a single trace, when so many horses have been around. Luckily the night is bright, the fresh snow glitters under the moon. But it is also very cold. There! Footprints and blood. Koji follows the track as fast as he can. He discovers a curved figure half naked lying on the snow. He rushes to him. Koji wraps the cloak around the body, feels a weak response. He is still alive. Koji lifts him up and lays him on the horse. What now? Izumi needs a shelter - fast. "Koji .... " he jerks around "a cave .. near." Izumi can barely speak, the words are fainting. Koji looks around. He only sees an earth wall and some bushes not too far away. There is nothing else, so he heads in this direction. The wall seems to be solid, the bushes standing right in front of it. "Push ...." With a concerned look at the boy, Koji pushes them aside and discovers a narrow opening. The horse just fits into it. He stands in a cave, big enough for a small group. Wood is piled on the side, sleeping-furs are lying on the ground. He hastily starts a fire and places Izumi near it. There is also some dried meat hanging from the ceiling. Koji cuts a few pieces down and chews on them. Izumi is too weak to eat now, but the warmth suits him. Koji takes his clothes off and cuddles closely to the boy under the furs. Slowly, Izumi's body is getting warmer again, his lips turning from blue back to red. Koji offers him some meat, he chews it carefully. "What is this place? It is perfectly hidden!" "A hunter base. We use this cave as shelter and meat storage when we hunt here. It is also used in emergencies, that is why wood, furs and food are here." Koji puts some lags on the fire. He notices Izumi's wound for the first time. "What happened? Who did this?" "It is nothing big, I had a little talk with your brothers. They really dislike me. Before anything worse could happen, your tribe interfered." "My tribe? Ha!" Koji laughs. He answers the questioning look with a grin. "Hirose is no longer the leader. They lost their faith in him." Both fall silent. Izumi nestles closely to Koji's warm body, the numbness in his limbs fades. "Izumi?" "Hmm?" "Is there anyone waiting for you - in your tribe, I mean?" "No. My parents are dead and my younger siblings live with relatives. I have not seen them for 3 years. As far as I know, my sister has a mate." "Would .... would you come with me? My people like you and as a leader I can accept new tribe mates. A good hunter and pathfinder like you is most welcome." "Leader?" "I decided to challenge Hirose tomorrow. As things are, he has to submit. Oh hell, he will be happy if we do not cast him out. Akihito is history already. The tribe endured his insanity only because of Hirose." "Do you really want to take responsibility? Don't you love your freedom beyond all?" Koji grins and steals a quick kiss. "I will take a mate. If I do that, I can do everything. As leader, I am allowed to choose anyone." "And who might that be?" Koji hesitates then his grin widens. Izumi's eyes are closed, a smile lies on his face. Suntanned fingers caress a white muscular chest. All answer Koji needs. He draws him closer. At noon, they catch up with the tribe. The winter quarter, a beautiful valley, protected by small mountains, is only two days ahead. The remaining path is sheltered by forests and it is safe. - Especially when a new leader points the way.


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