Married! Sael realized, of course, that Koreh had just said that so they could have a bed to sleep in, in a private room, and for that he was grateful. But now he couldn’t get images of him and Koreh sharing the bed – as nimen – out of his mind.

Not that Sael really had any idea what that was like. Some of the girls back in the capital had flirted with him on occasion, but he’d never had any interest in pursuing anything with them. No doubt Koreh had plenty of experience. And Sael also had no doubt that Koreh reveled in coming up with ways to embarrass him.

Will he try to…do something?

Sael’s stomach was in knots, just thinking about it.

The innkeeper had noticed that Koreh was injured, which wasn’t much of a feat — the entire right side of Koreh’s tunic and breeches, from his stomach to his knee, was soaked with blood. He knew of no ömem who would take kindly to being dragged out of bed, at this hour of the morning.

“Me wife, though,” the balding, grizzled man told them, “ain’t so bad wi’ a bandage. She kin fix ya up – leastwise ’til mornin’.”

The man’s dialect baffled Sael, but Koreh and Geilin seemed to understand him. His wife came out of the kitchen, when he called for her. She then clucked over Koreh’s wound for a few moments, before dragging him out to the kitchen, where she could clean it properly.

Koreh returned with the bloody tunic in one hand and a fresh linen wrapping about his middle.

“Goodwife,” Geilin said with a bow, “We are indebted to you.”

The woman smiled warmly and replied, “No’ at all. But I hope ye know better than t’ go near them ruins, now – ‘specially at night.”

Geilin raised his eyebrow at this, no doubt wondering just what Koreh had told her. But he smiled and replied, “I think we’ve learned our lesson.”

The woman led the three companions upstairs to a small room with two beds, and left them, after lighting the tallow candle on the nightstand.

The beds were small, but large enough to accommodate both young men in one, and the blankets looked fairly clean. The single nightstand between the beds had a chamber pot under it, which Sael desperately hoped nobody would use in front of him.

His anxiety at sharing a bed shot up sharply when Koreh shucked his breeches, tossing them onto the floor with his tunic. Since he had no undertunic, that left him stark naked, yet again.

“You aren’t sleeping with me like that!” Sael practically shrieked.

Koreh had been about to crawl under the blanket, the night air being a bit on the brisk side. He stopped and glanced over at Sael. “Why not?”

“Don’t you have any modesty, at all?”

“No,” Koreh replied, sounding irritated, “And I have no intention of sleeping in those blood-soaked breeches. They’re sticky and they’re already getting stiff.”

Sael turned to Geilin with a pleading expression, but the old wizard merely shrugged. “He does have a point. I suppose you could loan him your undertunic, if his nudity makes you uncomfortable.”

“But then I’d be naked!”

“Well, yes,” Geilin agreed. “I suppose it’s a matter of which makes you more uncomfortable: Koreh being naked, or you being naked.”

Sael wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that.

“I suppose,” Geilin went on, “that I could loan him my undertunic.”

The thought of seeing Geilin naked was even more disturbing to Sael than either of the other possibilities, so he grudgingly replied, “Nevermind. He’s been running around naked half the time, anyway….”

Koreh slipped under the blanket and gave Sael a cocky grin. “Come to bed, nimen,” he said, patting the mattress beside him. “Help me warm up.”

“Drop dead.”

Geilin stripped down to his undertunic and lifted the covers on his bed. “Sael, it’s very late. And we’re all very tired. Get into bed, please, so I can blow the candle out.”

Sael removed his outer tunic and breeches, glad that his linen undertunic went down to his knees.

“He’s probably going to grope me, while I’m sleeping,” he muttered, as he climbed into the bed. Koreh shook his head and sighed, then rolled away from him.

Geilin said, sleepily, “Koreh, keep your hands to yourself.”

Then he blew out the candle.

The room wasn’t completely dark. The rippled glass panes of the solitary window let in a pale gray light from the Eye of Druma outside.

The bed was already warming up from Koreh’s body and Sael had to admit it felt good. He was exhausted. But just as he settled in, Koreh said quietly, “What? No goodnight kiss?”

Sael groaned.

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