I return to the Geneforge complex with the shaping gloves firmly in hand.
Trajkov: "Ah, Lexen, you have returned."
Lexen: "Good to see you again, Trajkov. I bring good news. Goettsch is dead. I found this pair of shaping gloves in his chambers. You'd best check to make sure they're the correct ones and they haven't been damaged or anything. He had made up a clever replica in hopes of tricking you into killing yourself with the Geneforge."
Trajkov: "Thank you for the warning."
He takes the gloves from me and examines them closely, then gives a nod of approval.
Trajkov: "These should be the correct ones."
Lexen: "That's good. I didn't think he was clever enough to keep a second replica so well protected, but perhaps I'm just overly paranoid."
Trajkov: "I would like you to be present when I use the Geneforge."
Lexen: "I would be honored."
Trajkov leads the way into the Geneforge chamber. All the necessary preparations have been made, and he's ready to do this. I can still detect a faint hint of nervousness in his manner, although he hides his apprehension well.
I'm a little nervous as well. If something goes terribly wrong here, I might just have to watch him die in front of me. Worse, if the Geneforge transforms him into a creature blind with madness, I may end up having to kill him myself, provided he doesn't kill me first.
The Geneforge is a faintly glowing green pool of strange essence in a stone basin on the floor. It has a strange scent to the air around it, and it almost seems to pull at my mind like a canister, offering incredible power if I just go over and touch it.
I ignore the thought. I'm not that weak.
Trajkov pulls the special shaping gloves onto his hands, carefully adjusting them to make sure that they fit properly.
I stand by to the side, watching him closely, practically holding my breath in unease and anticipation.
Trajkov kneels by the stone basin and reaches out his gloved hands to gently skim the surface of the essence pool.
His body jerks in pain and he gasps and cries out. My eyes widen in alarm for a moment, but he's still in control. He's still carefully maintaining a light touch on the surface of the pool. It's just that the process seems to be incredibly painful.
The Geneforge changes him, little by little, rewriting him into something greater. I doubt that most people would be able to withstand such a process, and I have to admire the fact that he manages to retain consciousness throughout it.
And then, after several long minutes, it is done. Trajkov removes his hands from the pool and remains kneeling for a little longer, panting softly, but he seems different now.
Trajkov stands and looks over at me. His eyes are glowing red. He radiates an aura of sheer power that's even visible.
And yet, I can tell that he's still in control of himself. Despite the awesome power that he has gained, Trajkov has managed to retain his humanity. He smiles at me. And I almost feel like I should worship him like a god on earth."
Trajkov: "Now we can begin our great work."
He gestures to me to follow, and we return to the central chamber again.
Trajkov: "It's strange. You did not ask for anything in return for aiding me. You simply offered up everything you had without question once you knew what my objectives were."
Lexen: "Heh. I've found that doing something worthwhile is its own reward, regardless of the cost."
Trajkov: "Still, I would not see you go unrewarded. You will be my second-in-command, and have whatever wealth and power you might desire at your fingertips. Anything short of the Geneforge is yours should you ask for it. Tell me, Lexen. What most interests you?"
"I stare at him for a long moment, looking into his hypnotic red eyes. I could ask for all the arcane knowledge in the world at this point, and that would be the practical answer, but it would not be the truth. I must answer an honest question honestly."
Lexen: "You do."
Trajkov: "What?"
Lexen: "You are what most interests me, Trajkov."
Trajkov is quite clearly at a loss for words and continue to stare at me in puzzlement.
Trajkov: "I'm afraid I don't understand. Clarify?"
I find myself flushing in embarrassment, and look away.
Lexen: "I'm sorry. I don't mean to impose. I expect nothing, but allow me to continue to serve you and I will be content."
Trajkov: "Then if you would seek to serve me, speak what's on your mind."
Lexen: "Trajkov, I... I think I'm in love with you."
Trajkov stares at me, and there's another long, awkward silence. I'm such a fool. I shouldn't have said anything. I should have just kept my mouth shut and asked for magical knowledge, like would have been sensible. Now he'll probably send me away and take back his offers, out of disgust at me or something. Such a fool.
Trajkov: "I... see. I was not expecting that. I must admit that you managed to catch me off guard."
Lexen: "I'm sorry. I should... go. I should just... go. I'll go."
I turn to start to walk away, but I don't get more than a couple steps before I'm stopped by firm hands around my waist.
Trajkov: "Stay. I offered you anything. And if that is what you truly wish, then that is what you shall receive."
Lexen: "Trajkov... I..."
His hands take a good hold of me, and he forces me to turn around to look at him, putting a hand under my chin and looking at me with his piercing red eyes.
Trajkov: "Tell me, is this what you want?"
Lexen: "Trajkov... I would not ask of you anything you are not willing to give freely."
Trajkov: "Lexen, I'm the most powerful being in the world at this moment. There is nothing that I will do that is not done freely."
He chuckles softly in amusement, and his look softens to seeming to look at me almost fondly.
Trajkov: "And besides. I think... perhaps it would be for the best. Unexpected, but perhaps this would work out for the best, yes... I do not wish to lose myself or become a monster with no humanity. Perhaps you can be an anchor, a constant reminder of what I'm truly fighting for. But let me make this clear right now. If you should ever betray me or look at another person in the same way... I will destroy you. I will not have you offer to be my anchor and then attempt to destroy me through jealousy."
Lexen: "I understand. I would not do such a thing."
Trajkov: "Good. Just so we're clear. Then you shall be mine."
He holds me tightly and presses his lips against mine in a rough kiss.
This... this is my first kiss?
I'm breathless. It's almost electrical. Actually, it is. I can feel the raw energy in his skin, tingling against my lips.
After several lingering moments, he pulls away and looks at me. Grinning. Happily.
Trajkov: "Surprised?"
Lexen: "Yes... I didn't expect..."
Trajkov: "Relax. I'm not going to hurt you."
He pulls me close, and I bury my face into his chest. He's taller than me, but then he's also older than me. I still have a few years to grow.
He smells of essence, and I find myself trembling a little. I could cry, I'm so shocked and happy.
Trajkov: "I've never met anyone like you before, Lexen. But I'm quite glad to have found you."
Lexen: "I was afraid... I didn't know how you might react. There've been those who take poorly to the suggestion of... two men being together."
Trajkov: "You took a risk, but you were true to yourself, and I can respect that. If I'd thought there had been any sort of deceit or attempt at manipulation, that would be different.But you've been nothing but honest with me. I don't even think you're just attracted to me
for my power, for that matter."
Lexen: "No, that's not it. I admire your strength and wit, not your power. Although... I do think you're beautiful. And intoxicating."
Trajkov chuckles softly.
Trajkov: "I was going to ask you to return to the Shaper lands alone and let them know that I'm coming. But I don't think I'll do that, now. I would rather not let you out of my sight, I think."
Lexen: "I'm glad of that. I would rather not have to leave your sight."