Curses, Fucked Again
The jewels were cursed. At least, that's what everyone said. Had any of the Queens of Corinth been happy? Led long, happy lives and died peacefully of old age? No. Not one. Just look at the most recent queens, Medea and Rena. Stealing the Crown Jewels of Corinth would be a blessing, not a crime.
Or so Autolycus told himself as he slid through the narrow passageway on his way to the throne room. In the long run, the current king of Corinth should thank Autolycus for his efforts. Of course, if Autolycus' luck held, the current king of Corinth would have no idea who masterminded the brilliant plot and stole the jewels.
Then again. . .the current king of Corinth was the brother of Hercules and, as such, had probably heard of the King of Thieves and might put two and two together and realize that only someone as brilliant as the legendary Autolycus could possibly steal the jewels.
Fame, thought Autolycus, with a mental sigh, was such a burden.
The throne room was deserted. Everyone was off attending a feast honoring the royal house of Paxos, which was paying a visit in the hope that the widowed Iphicles would cast his eye favorably upon the marriageable daughter of the Paxian king. Autolycus could hear the musicians playing in the grand dining hall at the other end of the great palace.
Better than the middle of the night, thought Autolycus as he scurried across the tiled floor of the throne room. Guards were listening for sounds in the middle of the night but during a party, odd noises might well be ignored on the assumption they were part of the festivities.
Autolycus knelt behind the throne, risking a small light from a tiny lantern. There, underneath the drapes, was a door. The lock was a simple one. From the recess beneath the throne, Autolycus pulled a heavy chest, wrapped in beaten copper and enameled with tales of the gods. There was gold wire inlaid in the copper, whorls and swirls framing the enamel work. The chest itself was a valuable example of the jeweler's trade but far too big and heavy for a thief in the night.
Ha! A clever lock. Two small locks that concealed the real lock. Before he set to work on the locks, Autolycus checked to be sure the hinges were invulnerable. It never ceased to amaze him how often someone would devote tremendous effort to creating a complex, unpickable lock, only to forget that hinge pins were often quite simple to remove.
No. Whoever designed this chest knew what they were about. The hinges pins were soldered in, as were the screws securing them. No matter.
Selecting a pick from several he carried concealed about his person, the self-proclaimed King of Thieves began to work.
The sounds of revelry faded in his consciousness. There was nothing but the metal picks and the lock pins. One, two, three. Repeat on the second lock. One, two, three, four. Ah! His admiration for the designer of this chest increased. Now he tipped down the metal plate that protected the real lock, a heavy, ugly thing that would discourage a lesser man than Autolycus.
Rubbing his hands in delight, he set to work. Seven pins, he cursed as finished, wiping the sweat from his brow. A devilish piece of the locksmith's art if ever he saw one. Seven pins! And now. . .
Carefully, not wishing to mar the lid of the box itself, Autolycus opened the chest and saw indistinguishable lumps, all wrapped in colored velvet. The hereditary jewels of the Queens of Corinth.
The crown itself was laid on top. Autolycus quickly discarded it as old and plain, a symbol of ancient power more valuable for its symbolism than its metal. The gold was only plate over pewter.
Now, under the crown, the necklace. Legendary, given to the first Queen of Corinth by Hera herself, or so it was said. The exquisite goldwork looked fit for something supposedly made by Hephaetus himself. The pearls were as big around as the last joint of Autolycus' thumb, shaped like teardrops and had the color and sheen of the sky at dawn. No finer pearls were said to exist outside of the court of Poseidon himself.
Wrapping them to slip into the pouch at his waist, Autolycus appropriated the necklace, matching earrings and brooch. He found a bracelet, set with emerald from Indus and amber from the north, and added that to his collection. Digging through the other pieces, he sorted out the ones that, while still fine pieces, were of lesser value. He only stole the best.
A ring, set with a polished cabochon of sapphire. Another pair of earrings, these made of the finest goldwork. Another bracelet, this one of electrum and enamelwork, accented with peridot and pearls.
When he was done, he carefully relocked the chest and slid it back under the throne. Unless Iphicles was particularly taken with the princess of Paxos, it was unlikely the theft would be discovered for months. Years even, if the stories about the king's grief were true.
Now for an escape. Autolycus headed back for the servant's hallway he had used to reach the throne room. Less than halfway across the room, he heard footsteps in the main passageway. Oops. No time to reach the exit. Glancing around, he saw the heavy draperies that covered the windows. Aha. Nice, deep window niches. Autolycus ducked into the closest, tugging the heavy silk cords that held the curtains back. They fell closed behind him, concealing him.
The window niche was slightly deeper than the breadth of Autolycus' shoulders, allowing him to lean comfortably against the wall. The window was set in the wall at shoulder height, colored glass held in place with lead bars. It wasn't designed to open more than a fingers-breadth at the top, just enough to allow for some airflow but not enough to allow a even a whipcord lean thief to slip through. Damn.
While Autolycus studied the window, he heard the door to the throne room open and close quickly. Someone was in the darkened throne room. Odd. They hadn't brought a torch or lantern with them. And in the passage beyond, Autolycus could hear raised voices.
Whoever was in the throne room was standing still, by the door, from the sound of it, listening to the commotion in the hallway. A moment later, the footsteps approached Autolycus' hiding place.
Autolycus braced himself for flight or fight as someone else slipped into the niche an instant before the door to the throne room opened again.
The other man stared at Autolycus, startled, but before either of them could speak, the other man gestured at Autolycus for silence.
There were several people in the throne room, with lanterns. Autolycus heard a woman's voice say, quite clearly, "Oh, King Iphicles! Are you here?"
Autolycus stared back at the man standing toe to toe with him in the niche. Tall, broad-shouldered, dark hair that gleamed in the scant light coming in the through window, dark, shadowed eyes. He wore a white silk tunic and gold breastplate and a crown.
Another voice, soft and unintelligible, muttered beyond the curtain. Then the woman replied sharply, "I saw him come in here, Papa. I'm sure he did. And if he didn't, well, I still want to look around. If I become queen, I will have to make some changes. That tapestry is hideous."
The king leaned forward and whispered into the Autolycus' ear. "She is never becoming queen."
Autolycus whispered back. "Not your type?"
King Iphicles shook his head, studying him for a moment. "You're Autolycus, aren't you?"
Torn between vanity and safety, vanity won. Autolycus nodded, unconsciously preening his mustache as he did.
"Then you know my brother?"
"Um, yes, Hercules and I are acquainted."
The woman was now complaining, loudly, about the smallness of the room for such an important kingdom.
"Well," continued King Iphicles, "Picture my brother, only with slightly crossed eyes, a nose that looks like an overripe fig and wearing a dress."
Autolycus couldn't help it. He shuddered. He felt a warm puff of breath on his cheek as his companion laughed quietly.
"Now you know why I don't plan to marry the princess of Paxos."
The two men continued to study each other while the princess continued to complain about the decor of the throne room.
Autolycus had to admire the king. He had expected a smaller, lesser version of Hercules somehow, but this man bore little resemblance to his half brother, save in the breadth of his shoulders and the rippling muscles of his arms. Iphicles had dark hair and eyes, a narrower nose and much fuller lips. Much fuller. Autolycus noticed how warm it was becoming in the small space.
In the room beyond, the princess was telling someone, in considerable detail, about her plans to redecorate the throne room. The voice faded to an annoying buzz, like that of a biting insect, at least as far as the two concealed men were concerned.
Those lush royal lips brushed against Autolycus' ear as Iphicles whispered, "So, thief, what are you stealing?"
"Nothing, your majesty," murmured Autolycus in response, noticing how the king seemed to exude the scent of cinnamon and sandalwood, overlaid with leather and sweat.
Iphicles' hand moved between them, touching the pouch at Autolycus' waist.
"Really?" Iphicles had leaned forward, resting one arm on the wall beside his companion's head. Out of the corner of his eye, Autolycus couldn't help but notice the curve of the biceps, barely visible in the gloom.
Against his hip, Autolycus could feel the king's hand as it gently squeezed the pouch.
"Liar," breathed the deep voice in his ear. The fingers moved. "I suspect you are stealing the queen's jewels."
"Better than the family jewels, " Autolycus managed to quip in return, wondering how those big hands would feel on him rather than his purse.
Autolycus wasn't sure what to expect but the soft sigh from the man beside him wasn't it. Iphicles was looking down, at what, Autolycus wasn't sure.
"They say," said Iphicles, "the Queen's jewels are cursed. I've never much believed in curses but now. . ." His heavy hair fell across Iphicles' face as he shook his head.
Genuine emotion in his voice, Autolycus found himself saying, "I'm sorry, your majesty. About your loss."
The faint gleam of those dark eyes made Autolycus swallow against a throat gone dry.
"My name," said the king, "is Iphicles."
"I hate those drapes!"
Both men froze. The voice of princess indicated she was just on the other side of the drapes concealing them.
"Look at that fringe! It's practically rotting off. And that color. It doesn't match my hair at all. They'll have to be replaced before the coronation."
They heard her move away, still complaining. Iphicles leaned in towards Autolycus again.
"Oh, and my brother has much nicer hair than she does. For one thing, he washes his regularly."
Autolycus had to bite his lip to keep from laughing out loud, and not just at Iphicles' remark. The whole situation was ludicrous. Here he was, having been caught by the man from whom he was stealing, both of them trapped in a tiny warm space by a truly ridiculous woman.
As Autolycus' shoulders shook, he could feel the same motion in Iphicles. And something else. The hand on his purse was moving, slowly, sliding over to his hip.
He could no more judge Iphicles' expression than he imagined Iphicles' could judge his. Autolycus could see little beyond the curve of one high cheekbone and the angle of the strong, cleanly shaven jaw. Being a widowed king, thought Autolycus as Iphicles bent closer, must be very lonely. The eyes of the court are on you if you take anyone to your bed. But here, in this dark little niche, everything is secret, including the way Autolycus opened his mouth in response to the kiss.
And then all Autolycus could think was it was shame that lips like that were wasted on a king. Iphicles could make a fortune as a priest in one of Cupid's temples.
Autolycus stood, returning the king's kiss, as Iphicles' hands pulled his purse free, laying it on the window ledge. Then, with increasing urgency, those same hands slid into Autolycus' tunic, hot against his skin.
"Ah, money belt," he mutter in explanation as Iphicles fumbled with the buckles, then pulled the belt free and tossed it on top of the purse. The hands slid down, over Autolycus' swelling cock and started to work on the laces of his trousers.
Autolycus tried to return the favor, slipping his hands under the king's tunic, before he realized he still had the ties from the curtains clutched in his now sweating hands. He found himself laughing.
"This is insane," he muttered as his companion's lips followed the line of his jaw and down his throat.
"You noticed," said Iphicles in return. "What are you holding?" His hands joined Autolycus' under the edge of the royal tunic. "Ah." Now Iphicles laughed as well as he pulled the curtain ties out of the thief's hands.
What sort of habits did the king have? thought Autolycus, his hands still busy freeing Iphicles' cock. Autolycus could feel how hard it was under the soft leather. Aside from groping strangers in dark niches, that is. Then the strangest sensation brushed across the head of Autolycus' cock and he almost shouted.
It was the tassel from the end of the curtain tie. Hundreds of frayed silken threads, soft and ticklish, brushed over the sensitive tip. Beside him, Autolycus heard Iphicles make a curious noise, then the other tie was shoved into his hand.
It was a sensation like no other Autolycus had ever experienced in his storied and exotic life. Two men, strangers to each, silently caressing each other with the soft tassels while the droning voice of the princess of Paxos continued beyond the curtain, complaining about something.
Suddenly, Iphicles moaned in his ear, pushing his body hard against Autolycus', winding the silken cord around their cocks. One of the king's hands wrapped around their joined cocks while the other slid behind Autolycus' to clutch at his buttocks. It took Autolycus only a heartbeat to mimic the actions.
Iphicles was groaning softly in Autolycus' ear as his thrusts increased, his hands tightening their grip. Then he pulled away, looked around their tiny, private space frantically and reached for the money belt on the ledge.
To Autolycus' surprise, Iphicles took the narrow end of the money belt and bit down on it. Their eyes met, as best the could in the darkness, and Iphicles shrugged. Must be a shouter, thought Autolycus. Still, there was something very arousing about those lips around the strip of leather. On an impulse, Autolycus leaned towards Iphicles, catching the other end of the belt in his teeth.
No longer lonely king and cornered thief, there were only two men, desperate for orgasm, grinding and panting as they tugged together at their cocks, pressed together in sweat and pleasure. The silken curtain ties, wrapped together in their desperate grip, added to the strange sensations of this unexpected coupling.
Iphicles' body stiffened, his jaw tightening on the leather clenched between it, and he made a sound of pleasure, low in this throat. The sound, the motions, brought Autolycus quickly to the same place.
As the wet heat from Iphicles began to splash over their joined hands, Autolycus had one, last coherent thought before his cock began to pulse as well. He thought, I was right, Iphicles could make a fortune in Cupid's temple. I'd pay to have him trail those tassels all over my naked body. Then he caught his breath and came.
As their orgasms peaked and faded, they pulled away from each other panting. Autolycus found himself smiling, embarrassed, as he wiped his hand on the back side of the drape. Beside him, he heard Iphicles say, his voice puzzled,"Well, that was different."
"Yeah." Autolycus looked up from straightening his clothes and saw Iphicles was doing the same. Teeth gleaming, they smiled at each other, then Iphicles jerked his head towards the throne room.
Autolycus realized that, while he was distracted, the princess and whoever had been with her had left. He had heard the door close behind them but it hadn't registered on his consciousness. Iphicles must have been paying closer attention.
Iphicles handed Autolycus the money belt. "Hope we didn't do it permanent damage."
"Oh, well." He slid the end through the buckle, his sensitive fingers feeling the teeth marks left there. "I'll just consider it a souvenir."
Iphicles, leaning back against the opposite side of the niche, laughed. "Along with the crown jewels."
"Um, well, you see. . ."
Iphicles sighed. "Those jewels have never done anyone any good. The necklace was a gift from Hera and I'm beginning to believe in the curse myself. Besides. . ." The king's teeth gleamed again. "They'll do you more good than me. I doubt there will be queen in Corinth again for a long, long time."
"Well, thank you. Your highness. Majesty."
"Iphicles." The king leaned forward and brushed those soft, full lips against Autolycus mouth. "And while I keep nothing valuable in my bed chamber, it is the last door on the left at the top of the main stairs."
Then the king slipped through the drapes. A moment later, Autolycus heard the door close.
The curtain ties were in no condition to be returned to their proper place. Autolycus considered what to do with them, turning them over in his hands. Last door on the left, huh? He tucked the ties into his tunic, patted his purse to be sure it was still there, and slipped out of the niche. As soon as he pawned the jewels, he might have to return to the palace. The thought of what Iphicles must look like naked and sprawled on a bed, being teased by those tassels, was almost more than Autolycus could stand.
Making sure there was no one to see, the thief slipped away into the night.