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Hanyo hated non-humans with the zeal of a sixteen-year-old. His father and elder brother were killed in battle with the damned Elves, and Hanyo craved to go to war himself. But his mother never let him, saying, "Not yet." So he had to live in the safety of the capital and consort with cowards and good-for-nothings. There were no other words for those noblemen's sons who dressed in expensive silk even on a hunting trip and loathed killing a wounded boar with their own hands, lest they smear their fine clothes. And Hanyo himself, the heir of an old and noble house, had neither expensive silk nor even a gold ring which he could have thrown with panache on the table during a party or a game of cards. It was the fault of the pointy-eared bastards too, because his family estate had been laid waste during the war, and the pension granted by the High King was by no means generous. Therefore Hanyo craved the war even more, it was the sure way to win glory and riches. But his mother had been unwavering. Before she would let him go, the war would have probably ended!

Hanyo would have very much prefer Ashurran, the great woman warrior, to be his mother. She would have let him go to war. No, she would have taken him with her, and turned him into a great warrior, same as herself. And Hanyo would have been a much better son for her than the actual one, that yellow-eyed bastard who had been spending his time with a book or a lute, disgracing his glorious parentage. Hanyo loathed him at first sight, right after he saw the bastard's pointy ears and golden eyes with vertical slits for pupils. And his posture! As if everyone and everything around him didn't merit his attention. Damned bastard, probably a kin to the forest demons. There was no one to explain to Hanyo that Yuuji was no kin to the Elves, and didn't even resemble one, his ears being longer and slenderer than those of the cursed enemies of the humankind, and his skin blue with tiny scales here and there.

Although the demon spawn preferred solitude, sometimes he did show his face in the High King's palace. Now and then he even accepted young aristocrats' invitations to parties and trips. They couldn't, of course, pay no attention to the son of mighty Ashurran, the King's General. So they invited Yuuji over and used the chance to bully him, ridicule and dare to do something difficult or dangerous. But Yuuji seemed immune to ridicule: he never looked hurt or offended. Hanyo attributed it to arrogance. It never crossed his mind that Yuuji, having grown up away from the capital and its people, was too naïve and inexperienced to understand when he was being made fun of.

Making him do something stupid or dangerous was rather hard, and even succeeding usually was no fun. Suppose, some young aristocrat would dare Yuuji to mount an especially fiery horse, expecting him to be thrown off it – in vain, the yellow-eyed bastard clung to the saddle as if glued to it. He swam like a fish, even through coldest and fastest streams. He couldn't fence properly and handled a noble blade in a most despicable manner, like a stick; still, he was incredibly fast and could avoid any attack without breaking a sweat, so there was no fun dueling with him either.

So, basically all what's left was to call him names behind his back. Like 'pointy-eared freak' or 'ugly bastard'.

However, 'ugly' Yuuji was not, it was Hanyo's animosity speaking. An unbiased onlooker would find Ashurran's son strikingly beautiful. Inhumanly beautiful – that was the right word. So no one was really surprised when Narita, the heir of the late king of Falaris, started to discuss Yuuji's figure as if the latter were a slave or a horse – without him present, of course. At length the prince talked about his slender waist, his long graceful legs, his well-shaped shoulders (neither too broad nor too narrow), delicate hands with long fingers and so on. Everyone agreed upon Yuuji's being a tasty morsel, if one were to overlook his inhuman eyes and ears and skin.

"He is probably still a virgin," Noriyori, nephew of the Kassandana's governor, giggled. "Who'd want that cold fish in their bed anyway! And who knows what's there in his pants, maybe something inhuman.. or nothing at all!" All present guffawed and exchanged more lewd jokes.

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