Gethen Lortus is the 22nd grandson of the Kelesh Emperor and the 30th grandchild. Yet somehow he was his grandfather’s favorite. Almost from the day of his birth, the Emperor had taken a liking to the lad. The Emperor was careful not to show too much favor to the child, so as not to anger Gethen’s father’s 6 older brothers, or their sons. “The poor tyke won’t live to be pot broke if they feel threatened by him”. The emperor thought to himself.
Gethen had 6 older brothers, like his father. His brothers ranged in age from 5 years Gethen’s senior to 16 years older. Gethen and his siblings were all raised to be adherents of the state religion and followers of the empire’s Patron Goddess, the Dawnflower, Sarenrae.
Although his older brothers fought with each other as normal siblings do, they each doted on Gethen, thinking of him as the little brother they always wanted. So Gethen grew up with 6 protectors watching over him. It was protection that sometimes came in handy, for even though he was a handsome lad, as far as humans go, there was some not solely human about him. His skin, while smooth, seems a little leathery. His eyes could only be described as stunning, as they were beautifully shaped, but each iris was two colors, mostly blue with a pie wedge of amber. His left eye is almost 50% amber
Even with his not completely human features, Gethen had a normal childhood, for a child whose grandfather is an Emperor. Being part of a royal family meant learning the ways of court, but also a lot of travel. Since the Emperor had so many sons he like to keep them busy. He used them to supplement his diplomatic corps. So Gethen’s father, Baltis, was often dispatched to represent the Emperor.
When his travel plans were short Baltis would travel with only his official entourage in tow. However, when his plans involved being dispatched for a month or more, Baltis like to bring his wife, Pruline and the rest of the family along. So Gethen’s childhood was peppered with trips to far off lands where the family would live for 3 months or more.
The longest time Gethen spent away from home came when Gethen was a young teen. His father was assigned as the ambassador to the nation of Andoran for 3.5 years.
Gethen’s mother, The Princess Pruline, is a powerful sorcerer, a descendant of a long line of sorcerers. She is the daughter of the duke from Tian Xia. Baltis and Pruline met when he was dispatched to Tian Xia for his father. They met at court and their attraction was immediate, as if it were fated. Because of their low standing in the lines of succession in their relative Kingdoms, Pruline and Baltis we able to marry for love.
Despite the powerful magical lineage of Pruline’s family, none of her children exhibited any magical aptitude. At least not until Gethen did in a very surprising way. It is through Pruline that Gethen gets both his dragon and his orc bloodlines.
The Look of Love
Gethen’s magical abilities came as a complete surprise to everyone, including Gethen. At the age of fourteen, he had shown no talent for any type of magic, despite being tested. He had begun to study to be a diplomat like his father. He had above average wisdom and was also quite charming and engaging when he choose to be. But at 14 Gethen was distracted from his studies by Cord. Cord was the then 17-year-old assistant to Gethen’s Tutor, Master Flint.
Master Flint had taken in the orphaned Cord 10 years ago, when Cord’s parents, fellow scholars, had died in a bout of plague. Master Flint used his credentials and his connections to secure a job educating Baltis’s children, which allowed him to flee his plague ravaged town. He brought Cord along as kindness to his parents, who had been his dear friends. Although, he called Cord his assistant, he treated the boy like a son. He did everything he could to ensure that Cord would be educated and could secure a job one day in a noble house. Neither Flint nor Cord were nobles, but they lived among the nobles and were treated well.
To Gethen, Cord was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. When he was near Cord, Gethen felt things he had never felt. At first Gethen just wanted to be near Cord. Then Gethen’s feelings started to blossom. He was always happy when Mr. Flint was too busy to explain a problem or answer a question, because then he would get the close and undivided attention of Cord.
Gethen had watched his older brothers get “silly” over girls, chase them, go on dates, and get married. He had always wondered what all the fuss was about. Then he met Cord. Now he understood. On his 15th birthday, Gethen decided to find out if Cord felt the same way he did.
Gethen wasn’t sure what to do to test Cord’s feelings, but he was convinced his best chance of finding out was to be alone with Cord. So in the weeks that followed his birthday, Gethen manufactured situations that left he and Cord alone, away from supervision and prying eyes.
First Gethen tried to get Cord to join him during social activities. He invited him to the lake where Gethen and his brothers would often go swimming. He was careful to invite Cord at time when his brothers would be busy elsewhere. This had the added advantage of seeing more of Cord’s body, as swimming usually involved wearing little more than a pair of shorts. Unfortunately, Cord declined. Cord declined each invitation to hang out or engage in purely social interaction.
Then Gethen decided try things that would be weird for Cord to decline. He started feigning confusion with his lessons. Even though he totally understood the subjects and the assignments. He started asking for extra help and more tutoring. This worked to a certain extent. He had Cord’s attention, but they would meet in the room where classes were held. Gethen found himself a audience of one for Cord’s lectures on the finer points of the subject in question.
Gethen’s third tactic had more success. He would seek out Cord during leisure time and ambush him with questions about topics they covered in class. The first time he found Cord in the dining hall of the castle. Cord was sneaking a piece of dessert about an hour after lunch. Gethen had a book in hand and questions ready. The two young men sat at the table together, close enough to share the book. Gethen decide that day that Cord smelled as good as he looked. Success!
But Gethen wanted more. The next time he found Cord alone was in one of the less trafficked stairwells. Gethen was armed with mathematics books and paper and writing implements. Somehow, he convinced Cord to help him right there on the stairs. The two sat down and went over the steps of Gethen math problems to see where the errors were made. This gave Gethen the excuse to lean in to Cord and absorb his words, and that great smell. This also led to their knees and legs touching. Gethen would count how long their knees would touch before Cord pulled his away. The first few times Cord had pulled away immediately. But by the 4th time, Cord let his knee remain in contact with Gethen’s for longer and longer periods of time.
The third time Gethen cornered Cord, he felt embolden. He found Cord taking a break from the heat in the hayloft of the barn. Gethen was carried a folded map of Golarion. Before Cord knew what was happening, Gethen had flopped down and spread out part of the map and begun to pester his favorite tutor for a geography lesson. Cord simultaneously wondered how the boy had found him and how much trouble would result from sending him away. But it only took a moment for Cord to surrender to Gethen’s insistent request.
As they studied the map and Cord droned on about populations, demographics and chief exports, Gethen decided now was his best chance to find out Cord’s feelings. So right in the middle of Cord’s explanation of the natural resources of Cassomir, Gethen initiated a tickle battle. He began by laying siege to Cord’s rib cage with one hand. When Cord pulled back in surprise, Gethen pressed his advantage and soon had both hands tickling Cord’s sides from his armpits to his waist.
Cord tried to demand that Gethen stop, but he words were lost to the sound of both boys laughing, Cord involuntarily and Gethen triumphantly. Gethen knew that Cord had the advantage in both size and weight. He knew that soon he would be on the losing end of this tickle battle, but he hoped it would be worth it.
Sure enough, Cord began to respond with more than words. He pushed Gethen back and began to tickle him as well. His counter attack was merciless. He totally forgot he was confronting the youngest heir of the manor. He responded out of pure instinct and joy. He worked Gethen’s ribs, knees and his stomach. Gethen responded with equal ferocity. Soon the two of them were howling with laughter while trying to focus on their targets.
Finally, Cord realized that this would never end as long as Gethen’s hands were free. He abandoned his tickle assault and grabbed for Gethen’s hands. Once he had one of Gethen’s wrists in each of his hands, he raised Gethen’s hands above his head, at his full arm’s length and them pinned them to the ground. The move cause Cord’s body to lay flat on top of Gethen, tummy to tummy, chest to chest and practically nose to nose.
This had worked out even better than Gethen had hope. The two boys were lying there on top of each other, catching their breath and staring into each other’s eyes. As they gazed at each other, something passed between them. Gethen had his answer. Cord felt it too. His response was to break the mood.
“Do you yield? I shall not release you until you promise to stop this foolishness. Cord said sternly. He was trying to reestablish the teacher student dynamic. Gethen response was to lay there looking up at Cord and bask in what he now knew. Cord took the silence as acquiescence and began to release Gethen’s wrists. Gethen, not wanting their closeness to end, aggressively jerked his hands to free himself.
Gethen’s move cause Cord to retighten his grip and instinctively bear down on the boy beneath him. It also brought his face back down to the closest point to Gethen’s. With their eyes still locked, Gethen craned his neck to lift up his head, which allowed him to kiss Cord full on the lips. Cord let the kiss go on for 2 full seconds. Just as he felt his lips move to kiss back, he remembered who was underneath him and the ramifications of their actions.
Cord launched himself off the other boy. “What are you trying to do?” He demanded. He did not wait for an answer. He ran to the ladder and descended to the ground level. When he reached the bottom, he felt his lips burning, aching from the lack of Gethen’s lips. He turned back towards the ladder and felt some part of himself demand he go back up and kiss that boy again. But his head told him to run, so he did. He ran from the barn across the open fields. He did not stop running until he hit the tree line of the forest. There he found a huge tree to hide behind. He sat behind the tree, trying to figure out what just happened.
Gethen didn’t move when Cord jumped up. He was too stunned by feeling that Cord liked him back. Even Cord’s demands for an explanation had not shook him from his realization. By the time Gethen had stood up and looked out of one of the windows of the loft. He could just see a figure running into the forest. It looked like Cord but he couldn’t be sure. Either way he felt it best to leave Cord alone for now. Gethen needed time to figure what he would say when he saw him next. They were scheduled for a tutoring session in the classroom, after dinner. So he needed time to figure out what to say.
Gethen would have more time than he expected. Cord was a no show after dinner. He also was absent from classes the next day. Master Flint explained that Cord was ill and would probably be out for day or two. Gethen didn’t think Cord was actually sick. He thought his absence had a lot to do with their encounter in the hayloft. However, there was little he could do about. He thought about going to Cord’s room, but he had never done that before, not even when Cord had been very sick. He did not see a way to visit now without raising suspicions. He would just have to wait for Cord to stop hiding.
The evening of third day after the kiss in the hayloft, Gethen was summoned to classroom. When he entered he saw Cord and his heart skip a beat. He smiled and started to make a bee line for the older boy, he didn’t notice that they were not alone. Master Flint was also in the room. “Ah Prince Gethen, you’re here. Very good.” Master Flint said.
Gethen stopped in midstride. He moved half the distance to Cord. He turned toward the voice. In his head all he could think about was kissing Cord again. “I hope he wants to kiss me too.” Gethen thought.
“Let’s get to it. shall we?” Flint continued. “Gethen, Cord tells me you’ve been showing a lot of interest in extra studies of late. What did you call it Cord? ‘A real desire’ Interesting phrase.” Gethen felt himself begin to blush and tried to fight it. “So is it true? Are itching for more study time and learning?” Flint asked.
“Yes Master Flint. I have been seeking out more study time with Cord.” Gethen responded. “He’s inspired the desire.” Now it was Cord’s turn to fight back a blush.
“Good, good.” Flint replied. He was oblivious of the undertones in the conversation. “Well then I’m inclined to go along with Cord’s suggestion.”
“Suggestion?” Gethen asked.
“Yes.” Flint replied. “The Forae Logos at Absalom has many original manuscripts and ancient tombs that would greatly benefit a budding young scholar like yourself. Cord has suggested a field trip to expose you to all that knowledge.” Gethen looked puzzled. “Actually it could be many field trips, depending on how the first one goes. 4 days ought to be about right.”
“You’re taking my brothers and I to Absalom for 4 days to explore the Forae Logos?” Gethen interrupted to ask Flint.
“Oh I’m not going. Neither are your brothers. I’d sooner throw in a bottle of Greek fire. Couldn’t do more damage, really. No just you and Cord.” Gethen’s head spun from Flint to Cord back to Flint. Had he heard correctly?
“Just me and Cord?” He asked Flint. A smiled began to break out across his whole face.
“Just Cord and I.” Flint corrected. “Yes. I think you could both gain a lot from the trip. But understand me young prince, Cord is in charge. He is your teacher in my absence. You will follow his instructions. This is an academic excursion, not an excuse to run rampart in a foreign city. Your father has granted Cord dominion to spank you, the very first time you try to outrank him with your royalty.”
“My father?” Gethen replied in genuine shock. “Father knows about this trip?”
“Knows and approves. Flint replied. “He and your mother agree the trip has many benefits. You can enhance your studies and you can spend some time not being Number 7. It’s all set you and Cord leave in the morning. Speaking of your parents, they are expecting you about now and you need to pack. You should run along and prepare for tomorrow.”
Gethen threw another look at Cord. “I just want to tell Cord…” He began.
“Whatever it is will keep until the morning.” Flint interrupted. “Go now and make your preparations.” He added in a stern voice.
Gethen left the room. His head was spinning. He wanted to talk to Cord now, to be near him. But if they were traveling for 4 days, alone, then Cord would have to talk to him. Wouldn’t he? It sounds like the trip was Cord’s idea, if he wanted to avoid Gethen this a bad plan or a cruel one.
There seem to be no real choice, things had been set in motion. He decided to trust Cord and go along with it. Gethen then made his way to see his parents before he went to pack.
The next morning, at the appointed hour, Gethen reported to the Teleportation Rings. The whole household was waiting. His parents, his brothers who were still at the castle, Master Flint, Cord, and several members of the household staff. It was not every day that the youngest son went off by himself, relatively. He would have Cord for his entourage. Once it was clear that they had the provisions and funds that they needed for a week in Absalom, everyone said their goodbyes. One at a time, Gethen and Cord stepped on the Teleportation ring. They soon found themselves standing in the high borne district of Absalom. The teleport placed them in the lobby of a hotel just down the street from the Forae Logos.
The desk manager recognized the royal crest and gave them a suite of apartments, suitable to Gethen’s station. They were escorted to the suite. As the hotel staff stepped out, Gethen and Cord found themselves alone for the first time in 4 days. “We have a lot to discuss Prince Gethen.” Cord said. Gethen, who was stung by the formality in the use of his title, replied sheepishly. “Yes, we do.”
Cord began the discussion by explaining that he had made this trip possible so that the two of them could discuss what was going, without being at risk of exposure. He went on to say that any kind of physical relationship between the two of them would be a mistake. But he felt Gethen might need convincing, better to have the conversation here than in his family home. “Do you realize my life could be ruined?” Cord asked Gethen. “Hell, if your father got wind of this my life could be over.”
“I feel things when I’m around you that I have never felt before.” Gethen responded. “I think you feel them too. Don’t you?”
“I admit that I enjoyed watching you slowly ramp up your flirtation towards me in attempts to catch my attention.” Cord confessed. “I even enjoyed how you would hunt me down wherever I was in the castle. If I’m being honest, the kiss was amazing. It was all I could to leave you in that hay loft. But that is not the point. The point is that a relationship between us would be inappropriate. I’m older and I’m one of your teachers.”
“You’re my teacher’s assistant.” Gethen shot back.
The two of them spent the first day debating the pros and cons of pursuing a relationship. Cord had an extensive list of reasons why they should not. Gethen had one reason why they should. He walked up to Cord, leaned in exactly half of the distance between them, closed his eye and tilted his mouth up for a kiss. He stood like that and waited for Cord to meet him or walk away. Cord’s reasons crumbled to dust. The spent that first night in each other’s arms, kissing and cuddling.
By day two they were a couple, but only in Absalom. That was their compromise. They took the academic portion of the trip very seriously, so they could justify coming back. In Kelesh, they were no more than student an teaching assistant. But in Absalom, they were couple in a torrid love affair. They would secure permission to return to Absalom for weeks at a time.
Things were going great at first. Then it became harder and harder to stay platonic in Kelesh. They began to break their own rule and find places to sneak away to be together. Then they got sloppy and the got caught. Not by just any person, they were caught by Baltis. Gethen’s father made a rare visit to his son’s room one morning, to discuss an upcoming visit from his father, the Emperor. He pushed open the door to the bed chamber and found the2 boys naked, spooning and still asleep.
Baltis was shocked. He yelled. “Get your hands off my son!” He grabbed a belt from a nearby chair and started striking Cord with it. “Get out of that bed you demon!” The yelling was enough to slowly rouse both boys out of sleep, but the strikes of the belt brought Cord instantly awake.
Not realizing the from where or why they were under attack, Cord’s first instinct was to use his body to protect Gethen. He literally, threw himself over Gethen to stop any blows that might be hitting him. The move infuriated Baltis. Now this naked filth was on top of his son. Baltis reached across the bed, grabbed Cord by hair and pulled his naked flailing body out of the bed. Cord screamed out in agony and fear.
Gethen woke up to the sound of screams and belt lashes striking flesh as Cord was ripped away from him. He tried to understand what was happening, but too much was going on at once. The one thing that cut through all of the commotion was that Cord was being hurt. Cord, who was now on the floor, was being showered with a combination of kicks and belt lashes.
“Father stop!” Gethen screamed as he launched from the bed to cover Cord’s body with his own. “Father please stop!” Gethen cried out again. When Baltis realized he could not strike Cord without hitting Gethen, the kicking stopped, but the belt strikes continued. “A child of mine is not this!” Baltis screamed as he swung the belt. “No! No! No!” Baltis stammered as he hit his son over and over with the belt.
The commotion from the room could be heard up and down the hall. Two youngest of Gethen’s older brothers, Rendor and Wyatt came running into the room. Not really understanding what was happening, they focus on the one clear thing, Gethen was being hurt.
“Father stop! It’s Gethen!” Rendor yelled as he sprang into action. He grabbed Wyatt by the wrist and pulled him along as he ran to a spot between his father and the boys lying on the ground. With Wyatt in tow, they formed a wall that blocked Baltis from boys. It’s Gethen!” Rendor yelled again.
“No, it’s not. Baltis replied bitterly. “He’s been tainted by filth.” He tried to reach Gethen and Cord, but when he moved in any direction, Rendor and Wyatt moved to keep the wall up protecting the naked boys on the floor.
“Are you okay? Can you get up? Is that Cord? Why are you naked?” Wyatt asked as he maintained his half of the barrier between father and son and teaching assistant.
“I’m okay. I’m not sure about Cord. Father was kicking him and using the belt.” Gethen responded as he began to check Cord’s condition.
“It’s my fault.” Cord croaked. “I should have left hours ago, but I fell asleep.”
Baltis, seeing he was making no progress at reaching either of his targets turned and walked to door as two more brothers, Jessen and Lineus entered the room. “This will not stand in my house.” Baltis stated bitterly as he pushed out the door and through the crowd that was gathering in the hall.
“Jessen run fetch a healer!” Rendor commanded. “Lineus shut the door and then come help us move Cord to the bed. No Cord, do not try to get up on your own.”
“So little brother, how long have you been sleeping with your teacher?” Wyatt asked.
“Teacher’s assistant.” Gethen responded
“What?” Wyatt Asked
“Never mind” Gethen muttered. He’s my someone special. Okay?”
“We can see that.” Wyatt responded as the 3 brothers gently picked up the naked and bruised Cord and placed him on the bed. “So how long? Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Since the first trip to Absalom.” Gethen said, as he looked down at Cord. “I was scared to tell anyone. Did you not see what just happened?”
“We could have helped prevent this.” Wyatt responded as he put his arm around Gethen.
Jessen returned with a healer in tow. “There are guards outside the door.”
Cord’s injuries were serious enough to require bed rest for a few days. The worst was a broken rib.
Baltis declared punishments to be carried out once everyone was fully healed. Gethen was to spend a month locked in one of the towers. Cord was sentenced to45 lashes at the whipping post in the main courtyard. It was doubtful he would survive.
Gethen was beside himself with fear and worry. He had not seen Cord since the day of the attack. He got regular updates from his brothers. Cord was healing nicely, but that was small comfort knowing he would be whipped to death the day after the healers declared him healthy.
Gethen tried to find a way to save Cord’s life. The only person who could stop his father was his grandfather. The emperor was due to visit soon, but would he get here before Cord was beaten to death?
Finally, the day arrived. Cord had been declared healthy the day before. So, at high noon in the square he would receive his 40 lashes, no one had every survived that many. Gethen could see the whipping post from a window in the tower. He did not think he could watch the actual event.
Gethen sat on the floor and thought about his only hope. “Grandfather, we need you here today! I need you! Don’t let him be killed!” He just kept thinking those thoughts over and over.
Just before noon, Gethen heard a noise. He opened his eyes and saw no one. But on closer examination, the door to the tower seemed to be open slightly. He ran to the door and pulled it. It opened. He found a cloak hanging in the hall, but no sign of anyone. He donned the cloak and ran full out down the stairs. He reached the courtyard as Cord was being led to the whipping post. He had one last chance to save his life. If the crowd called for mercy, his father may yet relent.
Cord was secured to the post. Gethen, with hood covering his face moved into position. Cord’s shirt was ripped open. His smooth skin and muscular back were exposed for all to see. A blood thirsty crowd loved watching a normal body disfigured.
The jailer took his position, whip at the ready. That is when Gethen made his move. He ran up on the raised platform. He stood defiantly between the jailer and Cord. The crowd reacted with boos and shouts to get out of the way. He ripped off his cloak and put his back against Cord’s. “I’m here” he said reassuringly to Cord.
“What?” Cord responded. “No. Leave! You shouldn’t be here. They told me you would be safe if I accepted my punishment peacefully. I can’t bear the thought of you being hurt because I was weak. Get out of here!”
“Not without you.” Gethen replied. When Gethen removed his cloak, the crowd went silent. No one knew what to expect next.
“Father!” Gethen’s voice boomed across the courtyard. “Why is this man being punished? What is his crime? Surely it is not because he like sex with his own sex. There’s no law in Kelesh against that. Hell, a good portion of our neighbors in the crowd are in just such relationships. So, then why father? Is it because he was with me in my bed when you found us?” The crowd gasped.
“If he’s to be punished for loving me…” Gethen continued to shout. “…then shouldn’t I be punished as well? I love him! Give me the first 20 lashes!” Gethen ripped off his shirt. “Better yet give me all 40! It was my idea that we be together. I pursued him.” Then Gethen turned to face Cord, wrapped his body around him and locked his arms. “I will not let them separate us again.” He whispered to Cord.
The crowd exploded in applause. And shouts of “Mercy” could be heard. It was sporadic at first but it grew to a steady constant chant.
Gethen thought to himself “Grandfather! Help me! Don’t let him die.”
The chants for mercy went on for 5 or 10 minutes. Most of the crowd was giving the thumbs up sign. Gethen was beginning to hope his plan might have worked. Then he heard Baltis, his voice dripping with disdain. “Remove the prince. Carry out the sentence.”
The jailers went to work extracting Gethen from his locked position around Cord. As he fought desperately to cling to Cord, Gethen thought to himself over and over “Grandfather! Help me! Don’t let him die.” The crowd was now booing loudly.
Just as the jailers separated Gethen and Cord, the crowd went silent. Gethen could hear people gasping. He could see people kneeling. The jailers nearly dropped him as they too took a knee. Gethen stood up and turn around to see his grandfather, the emperor standing next to one of his mages. Grandfather was speaking to Baltis. “Release them both. End this spectacle”
That was the day that Gethen manifest magic. He had somehow sent a message to his grandfather and it had been received.
Grandfather sent Gethen and Cord to live with his son, Gethen’s uncle who is the ambassador to Tian Xia. There he can study magic with Pruline’s family.
The Emperor stripped Baltis of his titles and lands for intolerance. He bestowed them all upon Baltis’ eldest son, Hequin.
Gethen spent 4 years learning magic from his family and the mages of Tian Xia. He also used the time to explore his draconic and orcish lineage.
Gethen and Cord are no longer together. They are still very good friends, they just want different things. Cord wants the quiet life of a teacher and a scholar. He has that in Tian Xia.
Gethen wants the life that comes from adventuring, traveling, learning more about magic, and helping people in need, especially those who are abused for who they love.
Gethen considers magic to be a gift that allowed him to save the life of his first love.
During his travels, Gethen became a follower of Shelyn.