Author : J.R.Blackwell, Staff Writer

“Are we slaves?” said Marixix, sliding out of Lilria’s slick bed. “Or do we freely choose our lives?”

Lilria rolled over onto her side, admiring her lovers muscular naked back. “Ooooo…Such deep inquiry directly after our ‘little deaths.'”

Marixix turned and bowed to Lilria. “It is when my mind seems clearest.”

Lilria blushed and slipped a silk shift over slender body. “Do not confuse your pride with chains. You toss the word of slave too easily. You are free to leave the service, a slave would not be free to go as he pleases.”

“You are bound by words too easily.”

“Maybe.” said Lilria, gracefully stepping across the stone floor to where Marixix stood. “Why do you think you’re a slave?”

“Even though I could leave the service, I would not, because it’s what I’m good at. My genetic code has destined me to this work. I was bred to it. Why would I leave knowing my code makes me the best to be a warrior of first rank?”

She put her small hands on his large, tattooed arm. “There are other professions. You would be an excellent martial instructor.”

“I would be good, but not great. Would you leave your job as chief librarian and become a hostess at a brothel?”

Lilria backed away from him. “Are you saying that my work is that of a whore? Is that how you see me?”

“No. I never said-”

“You compared yourself to a slave, and your lover to a whore.” She walked to her closet and pulled on a heavy robe, crossing her arms in front of her.

“You are not a whore Lilria. I just wanted to show you that you would no more leave your work than I would. Both of us were bred to our work, and we perform it well, better than anyone else, better because they have been perfecting us over centuries.”

“That is destiny. There is still freedom in destiny.” At that moment, the sun choir that rehearsed at dawn in the great hall of the library started to sing. The lovers paused and listened to the rising voices. They were only a few doors away from the main hall, and the echo of those strong young singers came clearly, resounding off the stone walls. The chorus was singing the wordless salute to the rising sun, as the first light touched the great stairs of the library. Marixix found himself moved to stand next to Lilria. He put his arms around her waist and she leaned back onto his chest.

Marixix spoke softly. “Do you think that every time they breed us, making little tweaks, do you think we choose each other every time?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. My predecessor was not me. We are different.”

“I think you would know if we did. You are a record keeper, your predecessor would keep some record of it.”

She squeezed his hands in hers. “It is against the rules for warrior class and scholar class to have relations. If anyone found out, we would be exiled. All my predecessors had a spotless record, no suspicion ever touched them. Besides, we may have a destiny, but love cannot be scripted. I knew my predecessor, she raised me, and she had no relations with the warrior class.” Five generations the chief librarians had loved five generations of first rank warriors.

“If we are the first to have loved each other, then maybe I do have freedom, slight as it is, to choose my own way.”

Lilria turned to face him, reaching her hands up to his face. “You are free to stay or leave me, as you will.”

His dreadlocks fell down over his shoulders as he leaned close to her. “I will never leave you. I will love you till I am killed in battle.” They kissed and Lilria willed herself to believe him in that moment. She knew about the records. If this one lived another year, he would leave her. But Lilria was different from her predecessors; she could will herself not to cry.

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