Return to Sidi: ACT I


Header by Nadhir Nor

    It had been some years since their last journey to Sidi. Not much had changed, the city was equally, if not more, beautiful than it had been during their last visit. The vibrant, white-painted, mudbrick walls shine in the evening light. In the far reaches of the city, Lumi can see the outline of the cityscape, the striking form of Khimi’s ancestral home reaching above others. The Zeybek estate is more like a palace as Lumi remembers it, but he knows that Khimi has no intention of returning home before enjoying what Sidi has to offer. 

     The camel grunts as it steps foot onto the first cobbles of the busy street. The caravan behind them slowly breaks away and begins to turn off down another thoroughfare as they continue onwards into the city. Khimi clicks his tongue next to Lumi’s ear as the camel spurs forth, galloping down the street before he tugs against the reins. The citizens gasp and shout as they come to an abrupt halt around a main avenue. Carts pulled by camels cross before them and Khimi urges the camel onto the edge of the street to move by the crowd. Lumi nervously raises his hands and waves an apology to the angry onlookers. 

“Khimi, everyone’s staring,” Lumi chuckles as he holds onto the camel’s fur. 

Khimi scoffs in response and nudges the camel back into the street. “We’re here twice a year, they won’t remember us.” 

Lumi rolls his eyes and glances back at Khimi, “Everyone knows Lord Zeybek…” 

Khimi leans forward and nips Lumi’s rounded ear. “Everyone knows OF Lord Zeybek. Only one person knows Lord Zeybek,” he replies with a husky growl into Lumi’s ear. 

“Am I the only person who ever got to know Lord Zeybek?” 

“And Ennui, but you don’t count her as a person.” 

Lumi grumbles quietly, “She’s grown on me. Where is she anyway?” 

Khimi remains quiet before humming playfully in Lumi’s ear. “She said she didn’t want to watch us fucking on the camel, so she said she’d ride ahead.” 

Lumi glances back with a smirk on his face. “You told her?!” 

Khimi’s cheeks grow red. “No, she said she was aware ‘who and what was being ridden on that camel.’ Then she said she would give us our privacy.”

“I’m glad she did,” Lumi whispers as he wiggles his hips between Khimi’s legs. 

Khimi blushes and skims his fingers across Lumi’s thigh, pressing gently over his linen sarouel. “Settle down, we’re nearly there.” 

Lumi purses his lips. “Had I known that, I would have played with you more.” 

Tsk,” Khimi sounds and grabs Lumi’s tender thigh. “I thought you had your fun?” 

“I did…but we can always have more,” Lumi teases with another glance back as his tail brushes over Khimi’s crotch. 

Khimi laughs as his fingers grip the smooth skin, “Not much longer now,” he whispers. 

     The city is just as it had always been, majestic. The city is populated by all manner of people; Beastkin, Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Gnomes, and many more travel through the streets. Merchants call their wares from stalls beneath colored awnings. Paladins, defenders of the peace and protectors of the Faith walk about in their bronze armor, a symbol of Sidi’s affluence. 

     Nearly every building along the avenue has a courtyard filled with verdant greenery. Lanky palms sway back and forth, providing shade in the lush yards below. Small succulents line the walls in terracotta pots, along with varieties of citrus which blossom in even larger pots. It had been nearly a full year since they last came to Sidi, and nothing had seemed to change other than the ever-growing beauty. 

     Khimi pulls the hood of his cloak up and leans in once more as he plants a gentle kiss into Lumi’s hair. Lumi releases a soft breath, his desire stirred by his partner’s compassionate touch. Lumi cannot help but wonder if perhaps this visit would be different than the previous, if Khimi will finally break the yearly tradition of denying his advances in his private chambers. The story is always the same; Khimi would clam up and claim that there is something odd about having sex in his ancestral home, regardless of how much effort Lumi had put into his advances. This year would be different, and Lumi would make sure of it. 

     The camel grunts as it comes to a halt before a towering structure. The columns along the front of the building support a massive stone awning which citizens scurried under in haste. Along the wall is an arched doorway, massive bronze doors strew open wide, revealing the majestic nature of its interior. Carved marble floors, polished to near-perfection, cover the entirety of the interior; Tiny pieces of colored tiles run along the walls in beautiful mosaics of the heavens above. 

      Khimi slides from the saddle and drops to the cobbles, then takes Lumi’s hand as he helps him down. This had become somewhat of a ritual for them, coming to this place before their inevitable stay at the Zeybek estate. 

“Lord Zeybek,” a rather excited Minos woman says aloud. “Didn’t quite expect you back so soon.”

Khimi runs his hand along the bridle and passes it to a tunicked youth. “It’s been nearly a year, Agnes,” he says with an authoritative tone. 

“Has it?” Agnes replies absently, “so it has, Lord Zeybek. Forgive my thoughtlessness.” 

Lumi laughs at the discomfort on Agnes’ face. “It hasn’t felt like a year though!” He adds with a beaming smile, his tail swishing behind him. 

Agnes releases a breath of relief. “Sorry, I feel out of sorts lately. Things have been so busy for Sidi.” 

Khimi smirks, “Good for business at least.” 

“Right…should I see you into your room?” Agnes asks with a quizzical look between them. “Surely you know the way by now.”

“It’s always the same room,” Lumi chuckles with a flick of his tail. “We can find it.” 

Agnes sighs. “Then you know the way. And, should you have a need for anything, don’t hesitate to call upon me. We are more than happy to serve at Aethra. We hope you enjoy another visit, Lord Zeybek and please give Aleyna our regards.” 

“Thank you, cousin,” Khimi replies with a smile tugging at the corner of his lips before he embraces her. 

Agnes releases a second sigh. “Hells, Khimi. You always scare me when you’re serious like that.” 

Lumi cannot help but squeeze in between the two, his height barely reaching their chests. “I’m so happy you two got to know each other!” 

Agnes presses her heavy hand into Lumi’s hair as she tilts her head back to avoid hitting Khimi with her horns. “Me too, Little Aslan. I pray your travels have not been too difficult.” 

Lumi remains quiet, but tightens his embrace on the two. 

“Conversation best left for another time I’m afraid,” Khimi replies in a whisper. “But we’re happy to be back, cousin. Give my regards to Maia.” 

“Certainly, Lord Z— Khimi,” Agnes finishes, wearing a soft expression. “They’ll see to your camels. You two must be knackered out. You’ll find all manners of creature comforts, so enjoy.” 

Lumi withdraws from their embrace. “Ya heard that, Khimi? All kinds of comforts?” He teases as he raises and lowers his eyebrows rapidly. 

Agnes shakes her head. “It’s always the same with you two,” she murmurs under her breath as she begins to walk to a carriage behind them. 

Khimi offers another farewell to Agnes before he walks beside Lumi into the entry of Aethra, the most prestigious inn and bathhouse within the Desert Cities of Aldorria. “It truly is a wonder…” 

“That someone blew all their coin on somethin—”

Khimi scoffs, interrupting Lumi, “That they were able to create something this marvelous so long ago. The Aethra is one of the oldest structures in Sidi, that’s why it stands among the center.” 

Lumi yawns and itches at his exposed stomach. “Do you wanna sleep first this time? Aleyna? Ennui? Dinner?” Lumi asks, chattering hastily. 

Khimi pauses and looks down at Lumi. “Calm down,” he mutters softly. “You always get worked up when we come to Sidi.” 

Lumi crosses in front of Khimi then to his other side, taking hold of his hand. “This is your home, Khimi. I want you to be happy when we’re here.” 

Khimi sighs as he looks down at their joined hands. Lumi’s hands are tiny in his own. The tones contrast sharply between his copper skin and Lumi’s sun-kissed skin. “I am happy…as long as you’re by my side,” he whispers as he brushes his thumb over the top of Lumi’s knuckle. 

Lumi’s eyes stay focused on their hands as Khimi brushes over his knuckle. “I’ll always be by your side, Khimi,” he murmurs before he rips his hand away and rushes towards the bathhouse, his bare feet slap against the marble floor. 

      Past the entry of the Aethra and behind the desks and counters, an arched doorway opens to reveal the bathhouse. The public bath had managed to always leave Lumi in awe. He stops in his tracks and admires the boundless beauty before him. 

      Columns rush to a stone ceiling with tile mosaics of angels and the cosmos. Along the marble floor, green and blue tiles create organized geometric patterns along the walkway. Steam billows from a fountain at the back of the bathhouse, which is fed from a natural hot spring. The soft sound of Khimi’s sandaled feet behind him sends Lumi scurrying towards their usual room. 

     A jade mosaic shaped into a crescent moon is carved into the marble. Lumi had learned in his previous visits that each room is represented by a different phase of the moon. A smile crosses his lips as he thinks of all of the fond memories they had shared here. He reaches out and touches the brass loops before he pushes with all his might against the elderwood doors. They gradually begin to open with resounding creaks as Khimi comes from behind and helps him push. 

“I got it,” Lumi murmurs with a laugh. 

Khimi rolls his eyes. “It looked like you got it,” he mocks in a silvery tone. 

     Four opaque windows rise from the floor and run to the ceiling. The soft evening light filters through and spreads across the room in a dazzling effect. The room is sparsely furnished, aside from the oversized bed built into the wall, and small armchairs near the corner of the room that look out into the small private courtyard. Despite the emptiness of the room, it feels majestic. Orange trees from the Golden Isles sit in planters against the windows. The room is fragrant with the blossoms from the citrus; Lumi inhales the scent as he begins to run to the bed, only to be halted by Khimi’s hands reaching around him. 

Khimi lets out a chuckle, a huge smile on his face as he begins to tickle Lumi’s waist. “Were you trying to run away from me?” He whispers into Lumi’s rounded ear. 

Lumi purses his lips and buckles forward into Khimi’s hands. “N-no,” he laughs uncontrollably. “I thought you wanted to sleep?” 

“With all of this light?” Khimi asks in a teasing whisper. “What about a bath?” 

“Market? We never get to see the market,” Lumi replies as he forces himself step by step towards the bed, trying his best to drag Khimi with him. 

“Because. Well you know why,” Khimi replies, playfully dragging Lumi from the bed. “If you get on that bed, you know what’s going to happen.” 

“Oh, do I ever!” Lumi sasses with a glance back. 

“Hells,” Khimi snorts as he bends down slightly and picks Lumi up from beneath the knees. “Was letting you ride me not enough for you?” 

Lumi purrs and smiles as he looks up at Khimi, only to be dropped abruptly onto the soft, cushioned mattress. “Once is never enough,” he responds, his hands moving around him on the silks, feeling the softness of the sheets. “It feels softer this time.” 

“You’re just trying to lure me,” Khimi whispers as he stands over him, cocking an eyebrow. 

“W-What? No! I’m serious!” Lumi bellows in denial. 

Khimi ignores him and crosses the room to the window. His fingers massage the waxy leaves of the citrus tree. “This is where you shaved me for the first time,” he mutters almost under his breath. “Almost cut my chin off.” 

      In the Desert Cities, the act of shaving a man’s beard had been a sacred tradition, only shared between spouses and intimate lovers. Lumi recalls the first time Khimi had asked him to, though at the time, Lumi thought nothing of it. 

Lumi bounds from the bed and crosses the room behind Khimi. “It wasn’t that bad,” he chuckles as he shifts his weight from foot to foot. “If you’re not tired, we can do anything else,” he adds as he follows Khimi’s gaze. 

     The walls around the courtyard rise nearly twelve feet high, creating a small private atmosphere. Situated against the wall is a small fountain surrounded by ferns which flourish from the off spray. Vibrant green tiles contrast sharply to the stark white walls around them. 

“I can shave you again,” Lumi whispers after a moment of silence. 

Khimi itches his chin and scratches through the stubble. “It’s fine for now, maybe another day or so,” 

Lumi plucks a leaf from the potted citrus and turns to Khimi. “Lord Zeybek…you only have to wear that title here,” he whispers. “It’s just a little while, Khimi.” 

Khimi sighs, “I know.” 

Lumi takes Khimi’s hand and presses the leaf between their palms. “I’ll always be with you…you don’t have to be alone,” he says in a smooth whisper. “I kn-know this place makes you think about him.” 

Khimi gives Lumi a look of reproach. “I’d rather not speak of Ziad,” he mutters, his expression growing tense. “I’d rather speak of all the things we can do while we’re here,” he adds as the tension washes from his face. 

“You can do me,” Lumi goads as he brings his body against Khimi’s. 

“That’s a start,” Khimi replies, his hand gently tracing along Lumi’s side. He pulls his hand away from Lumi, the leaf dropping to the floor. Both hands tight on Lumi’s waist, he dips to his knees as his thumbs massage the lines of Lumi’s hips. “I’m so glad I made you mine.” 

Lumi places his hands through Khimi’s hair as he feels Khimi’s stubble brush along his abdomen. Khimi’s cracked lips plant kiss after kiss along his navel. “I was always yours,” he breathes, “I belonged to you from the moment our eyes met.” 

“So you always say,” Khimi taunts, his teeth scraping across the tender flesh. 

Lumi lifts the linen half-shirt over his head and drops it to the floor as Khimi brings his arms around him and grips his rattling tail. “I mean it. Everytime I say it,” he vows quietly. “You’ve always had my heart.” 

Khimi presses his ear against Lumi’s stomach, resting his eyes as he listens. “I know what we need to do,” he whispers, his eyes still closed. 

Lumi grimaces, knowing exactly what Khimi is about to say. “I’m not that hungry,” he groans quietly. 

“Right. Because your gurgling stomach is lyin—”

“It’s digesting!” 

Khimi looks up at Lumi with a cheerful expression. “When’s the last time you’ve eaten? Because I don’t recall you eating the other night…you don’t have to starve yourself for sex, Lumi.” 

Lumi’s cheeks grow crimson in embarrassment. “It’s…fine. I just don’t like to eat sometimes…when I know I wanna be with you,” he confesses. 

Khimi shakes his head with another sigh, “We’ve been through this before…I’m not so impatient that I can’t wait for you to prepare.” 

“I’m that impatient,” Lumi croaks, his rounded ears twitching. 

“You still need to eat, or else,” Khimi threatens with raised eyebrows. 

Lumi scoffs and folds his arms. “I do eat, I eat all the time. Just the other day I ate like seven pitas and that roasted pork.” 

“Please don’t skip meals for sex,” Khimi pleads quietly as he places another kiss on Lumi’s stomach. “Please.” 

“I don’t always,” Lumi whispers, embarrassed by Khimi’s pleading. “I usually don’t.” 

Khimi blows air between his lips. “Sure, just promise that you’ll eat. I’ll even help you prepare if you’re that worried.” 

Lumi pushes Khimi back and looks at him, incredulous. “Don’t even say that! It’s so embarrassing!” 

“Not like I haven’t before,” Khimi mutters, standing before him. “Let’s go get you something to eat,” he says with a tilt of his head. 

Disgruntled, Lumi shakes his head. “Fine, but I want shawarma,” he grumbles. 

Khimi laughs and grabs Lumi’s shirt from the floor. He gently instructs Lumi to raise his arms as he slips it over his head. “You can get whatever you want,” he says as Lumi scowls at him. “W-What’s that face for?” 

“Nothing,” Lumi grumbles, “I was looking forward to the bed.” 

“Horny little lion,” Khimi whispers as he tugs the shirt onto Lumi and straightens the creases. 

Lumi knocks Khimi’s hands away. “We can eat afterwards,” he says, peering into Khimi’s cerulean eyes with a hopeful expression. 

“Market first,” Khimi says sternly. 

Lumi grabs his hair and groans, tugging at his blonde locks. “Fine! Fine!” He surrenders as he begins to walk to the door, only to rush back and grab Khimi by the hand. “Come on, hurry up.” 

“I’m coming,” Khimi says with a roll of his eyes while Lumi pulls him across the Rhazian rug.