Chapter XIX


The final days of their retreat had arrived, a bittersweet end to the peaceful tranquility of the ocean and jungle. Lumi’s heart clenches with dread. He does not want to leave this haven behind, knowing that Khimi’s destiny to rule and lead the Cerulean Star is barreling towards. That his own destiny is drawing near, that the Gods will not allow him to wander aimlessly with Khimi forever. Ever since that fateful night when he called upon the Gods and uttered the sacred words, a dark fear has been gnawing at Lumi’s insides, taunting him with thoughts of being separated from Khimi. Despite Khimi’s oath and promise to stay by his side, Lumi can not shake off the gnawing fear that duty will ultimately tear them apart. Even though they plan to seek Nina’s guidance upon their return to Rhaz, Lumi knows that running away may be their only way to escape fate.

Lumi gingerly dips his toes into the crystal clear water of the Dolman Coast, relishing the cool sensation on his skin. The wet sands squeeze between his toes while he gazes up at Khimi, standing naked in the shallows. A blush creeps up Lumi’s cheeks every time their eyes meet, a heat that spreads through his body like wildfire. He digs his toes deeper into the soft sand, feeling grounded and content at this moment. Suddenly, a powerful wave crashes against his calves, knocking him off balance and sending him tumbling onto the sandy shore. He quickly pushes himself back up, he looks at Khimi with a smile, assuring him that he is unharmed. Khimi had always been protective of him, though he expressed it in unconventional ways. But with Khimi, Lumi knows he is truly safe for the first time in his life. Khimi playfully splashes through the water, effortlessly navigating the waves with his muscular frame

“Saw you take that wave,” Khimi says with a wide grin, squeezing water from his soaked sarouel.

Lumi smirks and shifts his feet back and forth into the sand, digging himself down to his ankles, “I was distracted!” He announces with pursed lips.

“Right, right,” Khimi chuckles, plopping in the sand just above where the waves lap over the shore. “Just a few more days,” he whispers in a contented tone.

Lumi turns back while he rolls his wet trousers up above his knees, “You want to go back, don’t you?” He asks aggressively.

Khimi brushes at the brine in his hair, “Lumi, don’t be like that,” he says, squeezing the moisture out of a handful of his hair.

“Like what?”

Khimi sighs, “Like that. Pouty and dismissive.”

Lumi shrugs, his tail swishes behind him, “I-Im not pouting. I just don’t see why we need to go back already. Ennui is with Aleyna, Rashid is watching over the things in Rhaz…we’re here. Together.”

“Yes, bu–”

“But you’ve got to make sure things don’t turn sour. That no merchant’s step on Emir Ziad Zeybek’s to–”

We,” Khimi interrupts, “We have got to see Saint Nina. We have plans, remember?”

Lumi allows himself to fall into the shallow water. He looks out into the ocean. “Can we just run away into the jungle?” He questions, his eyes looming over the great expanse.

“Is that what you really want?” Khimi asks. While he shields his eyes from the sun, he watches Lumi through squinting eyes, “I don’t think you really want that.”

Lumi grimaces and turns back to Khimi, his ears wiggling, “There is just…so much for us to do back home,” he sighs and slaps his hands into the water, “Khimi what if we get put on different paths? What if the Gods force me to march into Dolmas, or want me to travel across the ocean to the Vald?”

Khimi shakes his head and mimics Rashid’s voice, “Y’re so irrational, lil’ lion.”

Lumi cringes, “Not even close,” he mutters with a laugh, “It sounds more like. Best ya learn how to control y’re emotions, Lumi,” he mocks in Rashid’s mannerisms. 

Khimi laughs, “You are better at it than me,” he announces. “But, I am being serious. Are we in agreement to go see Nina?”

“Yes, yes,” Lumi replies, rolling his eyes. “We’ll go ask her if she knows anything, but what if she doesn’t?”

“Someone will, somewhere,” Khimi offers. “What’s gotten into you, you’ve always been so confident?” He asks, glaring at Lumi through the evening sun.

Lumi lowers his body deeper into the shallows, leaving his neck and face above the water, “I’m scared,” he whispers, shielding his face from Khimi.

“You?” Khimi asks, cocking his eyebrow curiously. “Impossible.”

“So, what if this hope that we have…this dream. Us being together for eternity, what if it doesn’t go the way we want…if we can’t do it. You know the other saints…they don’t age, Khimi. What if I don’t grow older and you do? What if th–”

Stop!” Khimi shouts, his fingers pressed through the sand, “Lumi, stop,” he says more calmly. “I get it, but we’ll figure it out. I’d already thought about those things…and well, as long as you don’t mind me growing into an old man…”

“How can you be so calm?” Lumi pleads, “It’s stupid and m-messed up!” He shouts, rising from the water. His soaked tail slaps against the waves, “Do you know what I was told by the Gods? The path of a saint is perilous, that it would be a difficult path. They’ve already made me kill all those peop–”

THEY saved us,” Khimi interrupts, “They obviously care for your well-being, and by proximity mine…I suppose.”

Lumi waves his hand dismissively, “Either way, I feel like I have those souls weighed against me.”


“It’s true!” Lumi insists, his ears lower in anger. “How am I supposed to be a ‘beacon of hope’, when I am slaughtering people?”

Khimi chuckles at the question, “Sorry, but…Lumi. Seriously, you’re the most positive, hopeful, kind person I have ever met. The idea that you’re struggling with this…well, that’s proof in itself that you’re right for this.”

Lumi slaps the water, “Gah! Why’re you like this?!” He pleads, pushing through the shallows. He points his finger at Khimi, “IF I have to be the Saint of Flames, then you, YOU have to be my guardian! We will find a way to make you live forever with me! I refuse to do it any other way!”

Khimi smirks, “You think the Gods will approve of all the sex?” He asks with a taunting smile.

Lumi drags his hands across his face. He rushes from the water, shaking the moisture from his body, “Seriously, Khimi! I know you don’t like the Gods…but I NEED you.”

“Of course I’ll be your guardian, but I doubt that Enan will be pleased,” Khimi whispers and itches the scar over the bridge of his nose, “I’ve never even looked into her situation after she gave me these gifts,” he sucks his teeth and looks up to Lumi, “I guess when you’ve been imprisoned a few thousand years…what’s a few more, right?”

Lumi’s nose wrinkles in annoyance, “What if she’s evil, or she has your soul, like those stories with devils?” He asks softly. His tail slaps against his leg, water sloshing from the wet fur.

Khimi lays back in the sand, and rubs the sand from his drying abdomen, “Oh, we never had any sort of deal like that. I just promised I would help free her in exchange for some gifts…at the time I felt I couldn’t deny her anyway.”

“Was there any oath…or did you say ‘I swear on my soul’ or something ominous?” Lumi asks, his eyes widen like saucers. 

Khimi laughs and brushes his hand through the black abdominal hair. “Nothing of the sort. Enan just said I’d have powers as long as I looked for her freedom, then left me with this nasty scar,” he adds, motioning to the one over the bridge of his nose.

“Let me look,” Lumi says, his pants sloshing with water. He stands over Khimi, blocking the sun while he drips salty seawater over him. “Let…me take a look,” he says, kneeling beside Khimi’s face. He places his hands on both sides of Khimi’s cheeks and turns his head to face him.

Khimi raises his brow, “Find anything?” He asks, flashing his bright smile.

“N-no, it just looks really pai–”

Lumi’s words are cut short, Khimi reaches behind Lumi’s head and draws him in, his salty lips pressing against Lumi’s. It is always the same, Khimi manages to always catch him off guard, luring him into his charm. Lumi’s fingers tense against Khimi’s cheeks, his nails tight against the copper skin, their lips press together. He’s the only one I can ever be myself with. A tightness forms at the back of his head from their lengthy kiss.

Lumi breaks away, “Let me look!” He growls, his tail slaps against the sand while he looms closer to Khimi’s face, “Have you ever seen…really poor metalwork?”

“Are you saying my face looks like it was crafted by a shitty blacksmith?” Khimi gives a half-hearted laugh.

“No!” Lumi laughs, “I am saying that the scar looks like where the blacksmith connects the metal. Welds it, I believe?” He asks, unsure of the terminology.

Khimi drums his fingers in the sand, “At least it is a unique scar?” he asks, offering a brief smile.

“Right, but…what if I tried to heal it? Maybe it’ll go away and that weird thing you have with her,” Lumi whispers and turns Khimi’s face in his hands.

“You’re welcome to try, but I doubt it’ll heal,” he says, glancing at Lumi from the corner of his eyes.

Lumi forces his eyes closed and focuses on the wound across the bridge of Khimi’s nose. His fingers trace along the length of the scar while he utters a quiet prayer. A warmth radiates from his fingers and across Khimi’s cheeks, the roughness over the scar fades slightly. Frustrated, Lumi furrows his brow, then narrows his focus. Khimi yelps suddenly. Lumi’s eyes flash open to see Khimi’s nose covered by his hand.

“That burned,” Khimi grumbles.

Lumi sighs, “I think I just smoothed it out a lot…I don’t think I can heal that scar,” he groans in defeat.

“It’s alright, I would have been surprised if you managed to. Like I said,” Khimi begins with a shrug, “I tend to like my scars, even if most people can’t stand the sigh–”

“Oh please,” Lumi interrupts with a hearty unrestrained laugh, “You know every man and woman in the Desert Cities stares at you and is like ‘why can’t I be as beautiful as Khimi Zeybek’,” he mocks.

“You’re much more chipper,” Khimi says, while Lumi presses his hands over his cheeks. He pushes his face forward, smashing his lips against Lumi’s. “Was it,” Khimi whispers between kisses, “The kiss?” He asks. “Or– do I just make you happy?”

Lumi tries to hide his smile by turning his cheek, “Sh-Shut up,” he protests, averting his gaze from Khimi.

“The kiss then,” Khimi adds, rolling on top of Lumi and pressing his body down on top of Lumi’s. Their lips move together in a dance.

Lumi turns his head, his breath quickening while their bodies entwine. “Both,” he says suddenly, his voice filled with longing and need. “Both. You make me forget all the bad things, the memories I want to push out of my mind.” His eyes meet Khimi’s, their noses brushing together intimately. He cups Khimi’s cheeks with his hands, drawing their faces closer together until their lips are just apart. Slowly, he runs his tongue along the length of Khimi’s scar, exploring every crevice and curve with the roughness of his tongue.

“Then how about, just for these next few days, we enjoy paradise together?” Khimi asks, his voice low and seductive. Lumi moves in a frenzy of desire, his heart racing with every lick against Khimi. His lips find Khimi’s again, their mouths meeting in a passionate union. Their bodies press against each other, Khimi’s hand roams along Lumi’s body with purposeful movements. Their tongues explore each other’s mouths, savoring the roughness and sweetness of their kiss.

“O-Okay,” Lumi whimpers through their locked lips, his hips arching up to meet Khimi’s. They continue to devour each other with fervor, Lumi’s body moving more wantingly than ever. The sound of his golden anklets clanging together echoes across the empty beach.