Background: Why do men wage war? Power? Control? Possession? From Helen of Troy of the West to Zhao Ge of the East. Beauties, no matter the era could cause thousands of ships to sail, walls to fall, and rivers to bathe in blood. Qi Heng, the most beautiful man of his time found himself in such a predicament. With no choice, but to accept the treaty's term after his Kingdom was attacked. The innocent Scholar now comes face to face with Boli, the God of War from the North, who now has arrived early to lay claim to his prize.
Standing across from him was the most feared man in the northern hemisphere. The name that aroused hair-raising fear in warriors. Boli was a tactician as much as he was a General. Once he decided to wage war, no kingdom was safe. Patient but ferocious, his quiet demeanor belied his wrath underneath.
The Wolf of Grassland could have waited for his precious cargo to arrive, but he arrived without much of an announcement. Earlier, he had barged into Qi Heng’s tent and nearly made Qi Heng shout over the unknown intruder, but Boli grabbed him by the waist and had covered his mouth. His searing warning gaze demanded silence, as Qi Heng froze from the raw presence of this man. The piercing eyes of a warrior nearly paralyzed his soul. Swallowing hard, he realized who the intruder was. An introduction was unnecessary. He had heard stories that were more like legends from the body of servants and soldiers for the past days of their journey. Yet, nothing could have prepared him for this man, no this Beast, in person.
Quivering like a captured Prey, that the Predator could immediately sense. Instead of devouring his catch, the Wolf released his hold. Self-preservation kicked in, and the frightened rabbit quickly scurried to the other side of the tent.
Boli, the God of War of the North, neither approached nor spoke. As any tactician would know, the one who remains silent the longest is the victor of the battle.
For a short moment, the Rabbit in White endured the stare down from the Wolf in Black. When Boli went to lift the tent flap, Qi Heng thought his captor was going to leave. However, Boli gave instructions to the servants to prepare dinner for the night. Then a hoard of servants entered as they settled what looked like Boli’s belongings, while other servants helped their General change out of his riding gear. Qi Heng, who remained quiet on the opposite end of the tent, barely registered the turn of events when his reprieve was cut short. The commotion ended as fast as it started, short-lived as the reprieve was.
Once again, it was just the two of them, with only the sound of the flickering fireplace between the two men.
What was the protocol when a warlord had decided to claim his spoils early? Qi Heng knew what his duty was, but tonight was not the night. Or any night.
“How was your journey?” the General finally asked, with a heavy accent of the northern plains.
Qi Heng’s lashes lifted, still, he couldn’t speak, words were no longer part of his speech it seemed. With loose dark woven undergarments, somehow, this man felt even more dangerous than before without his heavy armors.
Sensing Qi Heng’s uneasiness, Boli sighed heavily as he settled by the sitting table. His gaze never left Qi Heng, locked on him even when the servants arrived with refreshments and an assortment of dishes. It was no wonder his enemies feared this warrior. Once his target was in his sight, the prey could never escape. For the Wolf laid claim to the very breath, it takes.
After the servants left, the General began to serve the wine. One pour in each cup, the intention could not be declined. “Come join me,” Boli offered, more like an order than a request. Lifting the roasted lamb leg over his plate, he began to carve.
“I-I don’t have an ap-appetite,” Qi Heng obstinately answered despite the stammer, but his stomach did not agree when the aroma of spiced lamb, roasted sweet roots, and fry bread filled the tent. An all too familiar sound gurgled through the enclosed tent. Embarrassed, his head lowered sheepishly from Boli’s knowing gaze.
“If you don’t eat, you won’t survive the journey,” the Wolf warned with genuine concern in his voice. “You’re already frail thin as it is. We still have another moon’s time.”
Qi Heng touched his stomach consciously, as he pondered his stubbornness. Still, there was no recourse. Unable to refute his statement, nor could he fight against the demands of his stomach. The Rabbit delivered himself to the Wolf’s den with the promise of fresh food from the fire. Slowly and cautiously, Qi Heng lowered himself onto the floor across from the General. Boli carved a piece of meat off the roasted lamb’s shank and offered the morsel to Qi Heng.
Somehow, the Wolf felt less intimidating this time. Not so surprising, because of his hunger, which often reigned over his other senses, like self-preservation for example.
Qi Heng nervously reached for the generous piece. He took a bite of the juicy meat, but due to his hunger, it didn’t take long for him to shove the rest into his mouth. He wasn’t sure why his action amused the Wolf, but another piece was handed to him as soon as he took a hard swallow. Boli used the distraction wisely. He began to ask the Scholar about his journey the past month. This was the first time Qi Heng had traveled to another land, so he was eager to explain all he had seen. From the food and different culture, wine to artwork from the common people, Qi Heng absorbed the foreign knowledge like the meal before him.
Questions upon questions, followed piece after piece, appeared as soon as he finished, but consuming and chatting at such a rapid pace caused Qi Heng to unexpectedly cough.
A stifled chuckle broke from the other man, but this time, Boli served him wine. “Drink,” he ordered as the cup was lifted near Qi Heng’s lips.
Like the meat, Qi Heng also hurriedly drank, but the strong wine burned his throat, causing him to choke. Eyes burning, cheeks flushed, he coughed into his sleeve, until a handkerchief was handed across the table. Qi Heng grabbed it, but a hand caught his. Breath caught, heart stopped, he lifted his gaze and met the eyes of the Wolf.
“Let me…” Boli offered, which sounded more like a command. The voice, though rough around the edges, drew Qi Heng more than the zither’s vibration.
The stunned Scholar could only stare in awe as the General slipped the handkerchief from his hand. Leaning forward over the short table, Boli lifted the folded cloth to Qi’s lips. Blobbing the extra moisture, ever so gently, unimaginable for a Warrior such as he. The intimate action was taken further than just a small gesture of a host. Boli turned his hand, smoothly the back caressed Qi Heng’s cheek. The Scholar drew his breath from the heated touch. Qi’s senses returned when he realized a growing blush had surfaced. Unsettled by the turn of events, Qi Heng pulled away, frightened once more.
“I-I’m not h-h-hungry anymore,” his head shook nervously.
“Let’s settle for the night then,” Boli rose to his feet and headed to the fur covered bed. Blanched, Qi Heng hurriedly turned to escape, but a low voice caught his feet. “Where are you going?” the General asked.
The Scholar remained speechless.
For the moon’s long journey, he tried to learn about the man who struck such a bargain. There were many beauties, incalculable throughout the many Kingdoms. For a man as powerful as Boli, he could have them all without even asking. But instead of taking the offers from countless others, he waged war to claim the unattainable. Why else would he have chosen him? A man, from a foreign land, who he never even met. Qi Heng knew; he had always known. But he still couldn’t. Not now, not tonight.
Biting his lower lips, the Rabbit was still trying to find a reasonable excuse, when Boli, the all-knowing General, reached his side. “If you plan to find other accommodations, there won’t be any. My soldiers and I are exhausted from our days’ journey to set up our tent for the night. Most are sharing the tents with your escorts. Unless you want to freeze in your carriage, this is the only place with a warm fire.”
“I-I can sleep on the floor,” Qi Heng offered, barely a whisper.
“Suit yourself.” Boli returned to the bed as he removed his outer robe. Once he was under the fur covers, the Wolf gave his last warning, “If you dare leave the tent tonight, I’ll drag you back to my bed.”
Past midnight, the fire diminished and only a few coals remained.
The Wolf waited until the soft gentle snoring before he approached. Huddled at the opposite end of the tent, his rabbit, his precious cargo, had finally succumbed to the demands of his body and fell fast asleep. Shivering from the chill air due to the thin layers of silks he wrapped himself in, his sleep may be deep, but uncomfortable. The travel must had taken a toll on this frail body. Raised in comfort all his life, this untouched beauty probably never left his home for more than a few days.
Yet, this skittish rabbit was surprisingly stubborn. Why do you choose to make things difficult? Boli shook his head from the thought. Gently, he lifted Qi Heng in his arms.
The devil must have possessed him when he first laid eyes upon this Goddess. They were in their youth then, the young Boli had even mistaken him for a girl. For that very reason, it took him over a decade to find his first love. What a shock it was when he found out the fair maiden he soughts most of his life was a man, a scholar, and soon to be married. Jealousy engulfed his senses at the very thought Qi Heng would belong to someone else. It didn’t matter he was a foeigner or even a man. Boli had to have the Goddess from his memory no matter the cost.
For a conqueror, the only solution was to wage war to claim what was always his from the beginning. Even now, he couldn’t wait for another moon’s time for Qi Heng to arrive. Days, he rode on his horses, barely taking a rest. At the moment of his arrival, the frightful rabbit was in his arms before he could confess. Pure eyes stared back at him, with perfect long dark lashes even the most beautiful stallion could not lay claim to. Once Boli released his hold, he realized those same eyes were full of fear. Guilt began to consumed, before he comfort the nervous rabbit who had scurried to the other side.
As a man who learned to hunt before he leave’s his mother’s nest, without patience, the game would be lost. One wrong move, could instilled the learned behavior from the hare.
Tucking his scholar under the fur blanket, Boli gathered shivering Qi Heng against his heated body. The fool, with barely enough fat on his body, rather endure freezing than sharing his bed. The now same rabbit, greedily snuggled against his warmth. Oblivious of the reaction he solicited from his captor.
With a will of its own, Boli’s unconcious hands began to roam over Qi Heng’s body. His intention was to comfort, he rationalized. The General wouldn’t want him to catch a cold when the night’s air had dropped. Given how delicate this scholar was, he would not survive the journey if his health turned for the worst.
But once he started, he couldn’t stop. The silk, unlike wools, is like second skin upon a person. He could feel the smoothness underneath, imagined the softness still unclaimed by others. The beautiful body will soon his. The more the General touched, felt, and sense…His mind slipped further into an ecstasy of his own making. You have to stop, Boli last attempt to reined over his desire. However, the unaware Qi Heng chose the exact moment to purred, the sound so mesmorizing, Boli thought he was dreaming. Until he felt soft moist lips pressed against his neck, pulling him back to reality, but not for much longer. Qi’s seared hot breaths was more potent than the strongest wine, sending the rippled nerves screaming, as his last stretched thread of sanity finally snapped.
Boli, the now possessed man with no returned….reached for the binding of Qi Heng’s belt...