Perhaps the thing about finding that thing you are not knowing you need is not in the seeking, but the finding…
Perhaps… We’ll see… Perhaps.
Life, they say, is all about decisions. You decide, every day, on where your life will go next and what will eventually be. You decide when and where and how and … sometimes … why.
It is that last decision, the why, that is the most important, when you think about it. It isn’t simply a matter of making a choice out of thin air, as much as it might seem to be at the time. No, in truth that decision is in the back of your mind, in your thoughts, dwelling there and waiting for the moment when making that choice, that single choice, arrives.
And it does, for everyone … Even the Queen of the Succubi comes to a moment—which happens more often than you might expect—when she pauses, considers, and then says …
The word hung in the air in the way that a feather tends to flutter in space when it is caught in an updraft. There seemed to be a pause, a reflection, a thought, a meaning behind the word that some might have noticed. Unfortunately, the one who was listening to her really wasn’t that sort.
“Perhaps? Queen Tera, that is not an answer.”
She was, to be blunt, a problem. And for the moment at least, she was Tera’s problem. It was, at the time, the first days of Tera’s Reign. The Realm wasn’t the one that exists in the here and now, it was the Realm in flux. The battles had been fought, the choices made, and, in the end, Tera had become something that she had never cared to think about, and certainly never cared to be.
She was the Queen now.
And now she needed to make a choice.
Not the first one, just one of many.
And she was alone.
Well, she felt alone in spirit, and, at this very moment, she wished she could reduce her physical companionship by just one.
The two of them were in the grand chambers of the Palace, a place that Tera dearly wished she could avoid. It wasn’t for the trappings of the room, nor for the feel of it. No, the problem was that she was wearing that formal corset which she hated, wearing it because she was the Queen, wearing it because, as such, tradition demanded it. And the damnable thing was making her tail itch and she couldn’t soothe that itch …which, of course, only irritated Tera that much more. And her hair was up, another thing that annoyed her. And, on top of all that, she was stifling in the layers of petticoats and robes that surrounded her, all of them just reminding her how much she did not want to be where she was.
But she was, and so she had to suffer in silence.
But she didn’t have to like it.
She looked down—another thing she did not like, being on a pedestal over those around her, apart from them, separated because the court of the Realm demanded it, and it was really all of these ridiculous pompous rules which annoyed her most, and . . .
. . . Oh, but there was someone waiting for her answer. There on the red and gold carpet knelt a silver tail. Her name was Cassiopeia.
And she was becoming a real problem.
“It is the only answer you will have, Cassiopeia. Perhaps I will and perhaps I will not. I will decide, and that will be how things are.”
She looked up at Tera, brushing a lock of blue hair away from her eyes as she did so, “May I be permitted to speak?”
Tera nodded, and then waited as Cassiopeia gathered up her gown and stood. Being that she was in the grand chamber and seeing her Queen, Cassiopeia was dressed to the nines … However, that did little to calm her brusque manners … “The old ways are best. We take what we wish, what we need. Our way has always been to entrap, to control. We transform our prey into our pets and slaves and …”
Tera pursed her lips before she interrupted: “… And what happens after? We toss them aside? Forget them? Leave them in the dust in our wake?”
Cassiopeia’s tail moved behind her, quite agitated, “So be it. They are not like us.”
A long, drawn out silence between the two that followed, each of them looking into the other’s eyes, before Tera nodded her head to the side, dismissing Cassiopeia and her arguments.
As Cassiopeia left, Tera looked at the others, all around them, who had witnessed silently. She caught the occasional approving look at Cassiopeia as she left, along with a few slight shakes of heads. It was clear, at least to her, that the Realm was splitting into two sides. One wanted the old ways to continue, the other wanted change. Tera herself understood the appeal of the past, but she also felt that, for their own sakes, she and her people needed to make a change. The problem was how to manage that … choices … decisions … et cetera. And so it went.
She gathered herself and then stood from the Realm’s throne, gave a nod to the pages that served her, and then departed the room, not caring—not really—what those around her thought about this, but nonetheless knowing.
It was a short walk out of the room before she could bampf to her own room in the Palace. Doing so from the throne would have been much too gauche, but that, like other things, was on her mind to be decided on … later.
Familiar walls and trappings appeared out of her cherry scented smoke moments later and she dropped onto her bed—face first, mind you—and frantically tried to get rid of that itch from which she was still suffering. She was wondering—for the umpteenth time, mind you—why it was exactly that she couldn’t just create clothes with her magic instead of having to wear these damnable, itchy things in court. She was close to getting a finger to touch that spot when there was a slight cough followed by a question …
“Would you like some help?”
Tera’s answer was a bit muffled, “Perhaps.
“Why is it that this corset always makes my tail itch?”
She felt the laces of the corset being loosened, and the reams of lace and fancy cloth being pulled away before finally, thankfully, a hand managed to rub that spot under her tail and she moaned in relief into the bed.
“You know … long ago, we didn’t bother with wearing anything in the Realm. You could choose to have that return …if you wanted …”
She rolled over, free of the trappings of being the Queen and quite nude as she regarded the one who was addressing her.
The silver-tail was rubbing Tera’s itch, no longer in her own gown and trappings, her blue hair in a ponytail, tightly wrapped in a blue corset, miniskirt and ankle boots. Tera really didn’t think much of her fashion sense, but other than that, and her attitude, Cassiopeia was one of Tera’s oldest friends. But she had her own ideas, and wasn’t afraid to share them, whether anyone wanted to hear them or not. “Tera (and damn it I am glad I don’t have to be formal here), you are being stupid. You are asking everyone to change who they are. We are not angels, Tera, not even close to them. You do understand that?”
Tera rested her elbows on the mess of fabric beneath her and regarded Cassiopeia, “Perhaps; perhaps not. If I am the Queen (and I appear to be), then why can I not make choices that I want?”
“Because you are the Queen. That is not how it works.”
Tera smiled and then slipped out of bed, out from under her friend, walking towards a gold-trimmed mirror on the other side of the room, with Cassiopeia in her wake, admiring the view: “Perhaps it shouldn’t, Cassiopeia. I could, if I wanted, just look at you and change your mind.” She paused in mid-stride and looked Cassiopeia in the eyes, her own green ones slightly brighter for a moment, “I could always use a playtoy.”
“Don’t tease me, Tera. Please … don’t.”
The unspoken part was that Cassiopeia would happily submit to whatever Tera wanted, had dreams about it, and would be more than happy to be kneeling at Tera’s feet and mewling happily … but that was something she knew Tera would never do.
Perhaps that was part of her desire for Tera to embrace the old ways?
Tera tilted her head to the right, a trait that Cassiopeia had seen for as long as she could remember, “Alright. But you blush really nicely when I do.”
That only made it worse. Cassiopeia knew she was becoming aroused and Tera would pick that up in a heartbeat. She watched as Tera approached the mirror and looked into it, her other side, her Tail, appearing there, red hair, black tail, her knowing smile and lick of tongue making Cassiopeia stifle a moan as quickly as she could.
Tera looked into the mirror and then sighed, “I am not her. I could be, so very easily. But I have seen that past and … we cannot go there again.”
Cassiopeia’s voice was small, “I have to oppose you, Tera. If that means challenging your being Queen, then that is what I have to do. You have no King. You are alone.”
Tera looked away from the mirror, her hair turning red, but for the briefest moment, before she took a deep breath, “That’s your choice. Perhaps you will win, perhaps not. Whatever happens … you are still my friend.”
Cassiopeia turned and walked swiftly from the room, “I’m sorry, Tera.”
It was, of course, the truth. Tera was alone; she had no King. While she was the Queen, and the Succubi would follow her, the Incubi needed a King. The problem was that every single one of them was … wrong … wrong for her, and wrong for the Realm. It wasn’t that they weren’t all fine examples of Incubi, for they were. The problem was that Tera was looking for something more than a King.
She wanted something that her parents called each other …
Perhaps she would find that sometime. But time was running out swiftly. Tera knew that Cassiopeia would have to make a move against her soon, and was probably looking for one of the Incubi that she could wrap around her tail and make do her bidding. Tera could think of a dozen candidates, every one of which made her shudder, and not in a good way.
“So, what’s your plan?”
The voice came from the other side of the mirror, her tail-self standing there, arms crossed over her chest, a determined look in her eyes.
“Well, I am not going to go and turn her into a puppet.”
“She’d make a good one. I think a blue collar would go nice with her hair.”
Tera couldn’t help her small smile, “Perhaps.”
Tail nodded, “Better. What are you going to do, then?”
Tera snapped her fingers, not thinking of anything specifically as she did so, and a long red latex-like coat appeared along with a black bandeau top, capri pants and ankle boots that … just felt right. She looked at the combination for a moment, not sure where it came from, but sure that she had never worn that combination before.
“I’m going for a walk. A long one.”
“Take the left at Albuquerque.”
The last word as Tera bampfed away was but a single one: “Perhaps.”
It turned out that Tera passed through Albuquerque not just once, but eight times, and had managed to get herself slightly lost. Resigning herself to just walking around, she had entered a park and was sitting at a picnic table there. In all of the time that she had spent wandering, she had come to two decisions. One, that she was not going to take one of the Incubi as her King. The other was that if Cassiopeia was so set on the old ways, she’d turn the Realm over to her and leave. She wouldn’t be Queen, she wouldn’t have to kneel to Cassiopeia’s rule, and—and this was probably the best part—she’d never have to suffer that damnable itch again.
She was so focused on her thoughts that she didn’t hear someone walking towards her and was surprised when she heard them ask, “You seem lost? Can I help?”
He stood there, perhaps a tail length away from her, looking concerned. If Cassiopeia was there, she’d say he looked ordinary, that there were movie stars and others that were more worthy of Tera than he.
The thing was, in that instant when she looked at him, something was … different about him. It wasn’t his dark hair or blue eyes. It was … something. Tera, being who she was, waved her right hand dismissively, “Oh, I’m fine.”
Then he did something oddly familiar. He tilted his head to the left and said with a smile, “Perhaps.”
He nodded, “Perhaps, perhaps not. But you look like you are making a decision. Would you like an ear to bend?”
He was human. Tera was sure of it. But there was something … something … Finally, she nodded to the spot on the other side of the table from her, “If you have the time.”
After settling in there, he replied, “I have no where else I would rather be.”
Time is an interesting thing. You meet someone, spend time with them, and you think that mere moments have passed. It seemed like they had been together for moments and that they had been together forever.
“Want to tell me about it?”
“You would never believe me.”
So she did. Tera told him … everything. All she was, all that was going on, and what she was planning to so. She expected that he would laugh and think her crazy.
She didn’t expect them to spend the day together. She didn’t expect to settle there in that town, to visit him, to get to know him more each and every day.
“You know, I’ve realized something.”
“As much as I like all the other things you wear … or not … I’ll always love you the most in that red jacket, black top and pants most of all.”
And, because of that, that one particular outfit became the one that Tera was most often seen in.
She didn’t expect him to care as much as he did. But he did care: he cared about her: not Queen Tera, not the Tera with horns and tail. He cared about Tera.
And she cared about Keith.
“Tell me something?”
“Do you like it when I do this?” He touched a place on her tail, an even better place than her friend and rival touched.
The long moan from Tera answered his question. How it was that he knew that one spot that made her shiver?
Then something her parents had said came back to her: “You’ll know when you find your Eternal. You’ll just know.”
He held her and whispered, “It you want to change the world, let me be there beside you.”
“It won’t be easy.”
“Perhaps. Does that matter to you?”
“You matter to me. You matter to me more than the throne, more than the Realm, more than my old life. You matter to me, and this will change who you have always been.”
“What do you mean, ‘Perhaps not’?”
“I just have this … feeling. You and I …”
“This is not feeling, it is fact, my love. You will have to become someone you have never been, and go someplace you have never gone, and … and …”
Suddenly there was a sparkle in those clear blue eyes that Tera had never seen before … except that she had. Suddenly they were remembering—or maybe experiencing—things that had been lost in the time of battle and choosing … or maybe were happening this way for the first time. She was a teenager on a garden path, meeting a blue-eyed gardener who vexed and calmed her. He was young, and nervous, and meeting another queen … her mother? … and somehow surviving, because of her.
Then they were back where and when they had been, where he had been courting her these weeks, where he was rubbing along her tail.
And they were looking into each others eyes, nothing between them, as they knew they always had and always would. Of course.
Morning dawned in the Realm, just two days after Tera had gone off for weeks of traveling, a tension in the air. It was well known that Cassiopeia was going to challenge Tera as Queen. The court was filled to the rafters, everyone wanting to be there when the moment arrived.
Tera was seated on her throne once more, that damnable itch in her tail back and bothering her again … alone. The court took this to be a sign that Tera did not have a King, and, as such, things looked bad for her.
Cassiopeia entered, one of the Incubi by her side. Tera was, to be truthful, impressed at the choice: a powerful, handsome one indeed, but, even as such, there was an aloofness between Cassiopeia and her … well … Tera couldn’t quite bring herself to call him an Eternal … something between “consort” and “thrall.”
“Queen Tera, my mate and I challenge your reign.” There it was: a formal challenge made before the court. Mind you, she did call him her mate, which meant that their connection was not perfect.
Tera walked from the throne, stopping when she came to the two of them, “Are you sure you wish to do this?”
“You have no King. I have one willing to be.”
Before Tera could reply, there was a bampf as someone materialized in the room next to her. She did not look away from Cassiopeia’s stare and smiled as she felt his hand slip into her own.
Tera’s voice was warm and clear, carrying to all parts around her as she replied, “I have an Eternal.”
She felt his hand squeeze her own slightly and at the same moment his tail entwined with her own as they stood there … together.
“I am Tera’s Eternal. I am Keith and I am her King.”
Cassiopeia did manage to smile. She had lost the war for the Realm, but instead of being angry over that loss, she found herself relieved for her friend, Tera, that she had found something that many wanted but so few found.
Both Cassiopeia and her mate bowed to their Queen and King and, a moment later, court also did so.
Cassiopeia looked at Tera … and then leaned in and whispered so that only Tera could hear, “Do yourself a favor? Forget this formal junk and be yourself.”
Tera’s voice was as quiet, “Promise. Be happy and … promise I’ll see you soon?”
The smile returned had a bit of the old Cassiopeia in it, “Definitely. I want to know your Eternal … better.”
As Tera watched Cassiopeia turn and leave, the line of meeters and greeters forming quickly, she realized something: her tail wasn’t itching … because her Eternal had twined his tail with her own.
Some might say that was all Tera needed … perhaps.
No, there was no perhaps about that.