Danarius laid on his bed, running a hand over his face. How would he stand the procedure if the pain trials upset him this much? Maybe it would be okay with one slave, instead of six. He had to find a way. Someone in the Magisterium—someone untouchable—had targeted his apprentice. He needed to make his household equally untouchable, or his people would die.
If he had realized how weak he was, he would have chosen another route to power.
He ran the contests of strength and fighting skill like public spectacle, attracting even free contestants who bowed out if they got too close to winning. It had been a feather in Danarius’ admittedly shabby cap that such interesting, varied, and skilled slaves had agreed to compete for the right to essentially be experimented on and become an elite household guard. If his calculations are correct and his chosen subject survives.
The pain tolerance trial was secret, of course. It revealed too much of how the procedure works to make it public. No doubt the laetan crowd would have been delighted. They always boo’d him when he called a match before someone could be killed. Blood magic was cast on the six qualifying slaves to power a spell designed to cause them more pain. Healing from several skilled inceasors countered the continuous blood loss. Everyone understood the trial. Given the opportunity to back out, none of the candidates did. Everyone survived: Danarius made sure of that much, at least.
Just. There was so much screaming.
One contender did something interesting when Danarius nearly cut the trial short. An elf with black hair looked him in the eye—the audacity!—and said, “I can take more.” Danarius remembers being distracted from his words by the always-incongruous slave collar around a delicate elven neck. He’d gotten used to elves as the grand rulers of Arlathan in his study. Sometimes reality took some adjustment.
Inspired by this example, the five other slaves scrambled to their feet and insisted on continuing, though more breathlessly. Danarius needed this complete trial to be sure they could survive the pain of the procedure, so he finished it despite his own discomfort.
The trial had eliminated two. At the end, one begged for the pain to stop. Danarius warned him that would mean failure, and the man continued begging. The second elimination came afterward from Danarius’ healers. When they compared amount of healing magic needed, one candidate had suddenly needed far too much healing in that final stretch… after the black-haired elf had inspired them to continue the trial. What was his name? Laetan? Leto?
Leadership is a poor skill in a slave, but Danarius admires it all the same, as he admires so much about the elves. That was what took him down this line of research in the first place, wasn’t it? The elves still had so much lost magic to discover. Danarius wondered how humans managed to overthrow Arlathan, considering all that magic. No. Better to choose someone without leadership skills. I have three other excellent candidates. Has a lifetime of studying the history of slave insurrections taught me nothing? In fact, he could trade the black-haired elf away if he chose someone else’s slave. Down to three, then. Half the screaming. He sighed.
The housekeeping slave brought in water for his evening abulations, closing the door behind her. He couldn’t face her: the screams had echoed through the isolated manor house. He draped his arm across his eyes. She set the water down, turned the lamps down as usual… and did not leave the room.
Danarius looked up, startled. It was not the red-headed elf, but one with neatly-clipped black hair. He was in fresh clothes, so it took Danarius a moment to recognize the black-haired elf from the trial. He was staring at his toes, shoulders forward subserviently, hair slightly damp.
“What are you doing here?” Danarius demanded.
The elf scrambled to his knees, and Danarius sat up quickly to keep sight of him. He knelt ass to heels, forehead to floor, hands turned up, empty, arms straight before him. It was a pose some Masters taught slaves for when the Master wants to bind their wrists. For the first time, Danarius saw the appeal of the practice.
“I wish to be of service,” the elf said into the floor.
“Do you, now?” Danarius asked, intrigued. This elf was quite the opposite of the bold fighter this afternoon. ‘The natural state of elves,’ his father’s voice repeated in his mind. He’d been questioning that since discovering Arlathan magic, but perhaps it was that simple. What had elves done with their magic? They certainly weren’t the empire they once were. Would they have held out so long against the Qunari? Of course not. “Any service?”
“If it pleases you,” the slave said, “I will demonstrate my devotion however you like.”
This elf had stepped out of line during the trial, was even stepping out of line now, but it was in service of Danarius’ goals. If his ‘lyrium warrior’ could be devoted to Danarius’ cause—even moreso than Danarius himself, it seemed—he and his household might survive. Maybe even thrive.
In either case, didn’t he need to blow off some steam?
“It pleases me,” Danarius admitted.
“Thank you,” the elf sounded relieved. “At your command, Master.”
Maker, the way he said ‘Master’ was enough to convince Danarius. Here was a man who wanted nothing but what Danarius wanted. Danarius scooted to the edge of the bed, placing his bare feet on the floor to consider what he wanted.
“You’re wearing too many clothes,” Danarius suggested, wondering how much he would remove. The elf stood, keeping his eyes down, and stripped efficiently. He neatly folded his mended clothing and piled it on the floor. His skin was the color of Antivan coffee, unblemished, and his cock was already lengthening. Any service, indeed. His hands lingered at the back of his collar as he paused to give the smallest of smiles.
“Leave it on.” The hands dropped. “I like your smile.” The smile grew, seeming to say that everything is fine. It reminded him of another pleasing thing for the elf to do. “Your lips would be pretty wrapped around my cock.” The elf perked up at that, as if he could only hope for such a favor.
He kneeled gracefully between Danarius’ thighs, dared a glance as high as Danarius’ shoulder, then said with his head turned aside, “May I, Master?” Oh, that word again. His hands quivered at the drawstring of Danarius’ night pants.
“I’d be delighted, Pet.”
The little pet deftly untied the drawstring and got out Danarius’ cock, and Danarius stood. Pet shuffled back quickly, tugging the loose pants to the floor. Danarius sat down again, and Pet carefully, reverently took the garment off his feet, folding it neatly and setting it on the bed. Danarius lifted the front edge of his nightshirt to show he was already hard. The elf’s eyes got impossibly wider, and he licked his lips.
Danarius spread his knees and leaned back to allow plenty of room. Pet leaned forward eagerly, not touching anywhere but where he’d been bid. Maker, his mouth felt amazing, but Danarius couldn’t see his lips.
“Look at me, Pet.” He obediently tilted his head back and oh. Yes, his lips were very pretty wrapped around Danarius’ cock, but his eyes, green and full of wanting like that, were even prettier.
“Very good, Pet,” Danarius said, and the elf gave a needy whine. “Stop.” The elf stopped, dropping his eyes to the floor. “What do you want from my little contest?” Danarius asked.
“I want to be what you need, Master.”
“That wasn’t really my question,” Danarius says, annoyed by his own viceral reaction to his title out of that mouth. “My lyrium warrior receives a boon. What would you ask?”
“For my mother and sister to be safe,” the elf says.
Danarius huffed. “They cannot be safe in my service. My entire household has been targeted; you know that.” The poison intended for his apprentice had taken out a slave. They had instituted a tasting practice scant weeks before.
“Then I would ask their freedom.”
“So you do this for them?” Danarius demanded, still annoyed.
The slave looked hurt. “You will be safer this way, too,” he said, nearly glancing at Danarius’ face. Devotion.
Danarius sat back again, smiling slightly. “If I were to mistrust your motives, how would you convince me?”
Pet shuffled forward again, licking tentatively and glancing up. At Danarius’ nod, Pet wrapped a hand around the base of his cock and used his mouth to make Danarius’ eyes roll back in his head, it felt that good. Pet moaned needily as he bobbed, the sound cut off when Danarius’ cock slotted into the back of his throat.
The natural state of elves. Danarius smiled to imagine correcting his father. This feels so right.
“You may use both hands, Pet,” Danarius said.
Pet grabbed at him like a starving elf for food, then trained his touches for Danarius’ pleasure: nails on his thighs or pulling himself deeper by Danarius’ hip. Somehow, he kept a steady pace, stoking Danarius’ desire.
‘I can take more.’ The memory of this elf asking for the completion of today’s trial made Danarius want to see how much pleasure the elf could take.
“Stop,” Danarius gasped. He stripped off his shirt and tilted Pet’s chin up, though Pet looked prettily to one side. “Look at me. Did you prepare yourself?”
“A little,” Pet said, wiggling his fingers where Danarius could barely see them, “but my fingers are small, Master; I’m sorry.” He sounded distressed to have failed Danarius.
“Shh, shh, Pet, it’s fine,” Danarius said, petting his hair until he calmed. Then he said, “I will help you.” Pet sighed with gratitude, leaning into Danarius’ touch. “You can have a toy to prepare with next time, Pet. What do you think?”
“Master is generous,” Pet said, smiling and looking eager again. Danarius was already fond of his smile.
Danarius stood, and Pet scrambled to his feet, too. Before Pet had his balance, Danarius pushed him against the wall. Pet blinked, eyes wide with desire. Danarius lifted one leg, and Pet lifted the other, hooking both around Danarius’ waist and scrabbling nails at Danarius’ shoulders.
“Yes, Master. Please, Master,” the elf said, voice shaking and cock hard against Danarius’. His voice was lower than his normal speaking voice.
“Growl at me all you like, but don’t scratch.” Danarius pressed his middle finger against Pet’s entrance and cast grease until he was dripping.
As Danarius slid his middle finger into him, Pet growled, “Yes.” He really had tried to prep himself. Danarius slid in a second finger without much pause. “Master, oh, please,” he begged. He tried to bite Danarius’ shoulder, but Danarius batted him away. The slide and heat and clench of him. Small fingers, indeed. Pet made a sound low in his throat.
Danarius was as gentle and slow as he could manage with the little wolf begging for more. “Will you listen to that growl, my Fenris.” He understood the moniker, clever elf, because he set to whining, sipping air between the sounds just like a wolf cub who wants a treat.
“Relax, my Fenris, we’re almost there,” Danarius says soothingly. “You only need to relax and then the fun begins.”
Fenris gasped for breath, trying to force his body to relax faster. Danarius wiggled his fingers, causing Fenris to gasp harder, toying with his self-control.
When Fenris could finally control his thrashing through twisting and scissoring fingers, Danarius added a third finger, whispering, “Shh, shh, I know you don’t need it, my Fenris, but keep struggling a little longer. You’re doing so well, my beautiful Pet.”
Fenris writhed and whined in his arms. “Thank you, Master, you’re better than I deserve.”
That low voice made Danarius suddenly impatient, but of course that was why Fenris used it. He thrusted with three fingers harder, making Fenris shout, “Ah! Yes! Yes, Master, please!”
“Grab the ring above,” said Danarius, and Fenris grabbed a ring set into the wall and held tightly.
Danarius cast a simple stasis spell on himself and lined his cock up with Fenris’ entrance. The eager elf pulled him into his body with heels on Danarius’ ass, shouting “Yes!” and bouncing Danarius deeper.
Danarius paused when he was fully seated, curling down between them to hold Fenris’ nipple between his teeth, then use his tongue to press the nipple up, down, up, down.
Fenris hissed in a breath. “Master, if you continue that, I may cum too soon,” he said.
Danarius smiled and said, “You’d better wait, Pet.” Fenris clenched at that, but he writhed beautifully on Danarius’ cock when Danarius repeated the action with the other nipple. Danarius chuckled when he looked up to see Fenris clutching his own hair in one hand, still hanging by the other from the ring, and staring at the brightest lamp. Danarius kissed him, surprising him before getting a messy, enthusiastic response.
I want this one. He’d dallied with other slaves when they offered sex, but the combination of eagerness, skill, and willpower made him want Fenris in his bed every night.
“Hold on a little longer. And I want to hear that growl, my Fenris,” Danarius said, finally moving his hips against Fenris’.
Fenris obediently released a steady stream of Tevene swears, interspersed with those sweet ‘Master’s as well as ‘please’ and ‘so close.’ Neither of them had touched his cock.
“Want to watch you fall apart just from this,” Danarius admitted, thrusting. “Want to watch you lose control.”
“Now, Master, please?”
Fenris moaned, twisted uselessly away, pulled his own hair, and bit his lip before he got control of that one.
“Now,” Danarius said.
“Thank you, thank you,” Fenris said. “Oh, thank you.”
“Stop thanking me,” Danarius said in Fenris’ long ear, biting down briefly. “Cum now, my Fenris.”
Fenris came. Danarius tilted back to watch, thrusting at that same tortuous pace. It was every bit as beautiful as he’d thought it would be. The luxury of feeling his partner clench and spasm without cumming himself was a miracle of modern magic. When Fenris was done, Danarius finally wrapped a hand around that beautiful elven cock.
“Ah!” Fenris cried out, twisting away and instinctively putting a foot on Danarius’ chest, his knee bumping against the wall behind him. Danarius grabbed Fenris’ ankle, pushing the leg straighter as he leaned in, still stroking but also testing his squirming flexibility.
“I know your body won’t let you,” Danarius said, “but please try to relax and enjoy this part, too.”
“Please!” Fenris said, begging Danarius to stop. “Please, Master, too much, please, it hurts!”
“You can say it, my Fenris,” Danarius said. “I know. Please what?” Danarius wanted to hear how broken this obedient little elf had become from this pain so close on the heels of pleasure.
“Please use me!” Fenris cried, throwing his head back and sobbing. “Master, use me!”
Kaffas. Broken, yes, but still obedient. Still loyal and determined. Still his.
“My Fenris,” Danarius growled, tightening his wet grip to make Fenris clench and yell, head falling back. He released the stasis spell and pounded into Fenris’ tight, sopping-wet ass. The man was intoxicating, a miracle, impossibly tight around his cock and eager for more.
Danarius came so hard his vision briefly whited out, which he had thought was a horny wives’ tale. He didn’t want it to end even after so much pleasure, so he continued to stroke Fenris’ cock for the joy of watching him involuntarily squirm away and force his body closer at the same time. His wordless moaning and shouting and the tears streaming down his face made it clear that he loved every minute. Fenris came a little more, barely anything compared to the first time. Then he went limp and shook, unable to move other than his quivering.
“There you go,” Danarius said soothingly. “You did so well.” Danarius helped Fenris to a chair, which Danarius sat in with Fenris’ arms and legs wrapped tightly around Danarius’ waist and shoulders. Danarius petted Fenris’ hair. “My Fenris,” he said. “You’ve proven yourself.”
“Thank you, Master,” Fenris muttered through his shaking.
“Whatever for?” said Danarius, because Fenris’ voice while trembling was low and delicious.
“Thank you, Master, for the opportunity to prove myself.” With that, Fenris gave a contented sigh, stopped shaking, and melted into a puddle in Danarius’ arms.
Oh, yes, I’m keeping this one.
Varania glanced up from her needlework as Leto staggered in. “Why are you walking so funny, Leto? Did you get hurt?”
“Don’t worry about it, little sister.”
“I thought you were just delivering bathing water,” Varania teased. “What did you do?”
Leto snapped at her: “I ensured we will be safe. Mother, too.” He never snapped at her.
“Safe? Slaves are disposable, everybody knows that,” Varania countered.
“He won’t dispose of me,” Leto bragged.
“How can you be sure?”
“He named me,” Leto said through a gritting, triumphant smile that Varania instantly hated.
“You already have a name,” she said. “What did you do, Leto?”
“Don’t call me that,” Leto said and buried himself in his blankets as if to sleep.
“What am supposed to call you, then, Leto?” Varania asked, feeling like she’d lost her brother somehow in the last hour. She got no answer.
He blinked. The pain had stopped. A face loomed over him. Do I know him?
“How are you doing, Fenris?” a kind voice asked. Is that my name?
“Better,” Fenris said. “Who are you?”
The other person laughed. “You must be disoriented. Call me Master. I will take care of everything.”
“Master,” Fenris said. “Thank you.”
“I see that you still have the best part of your voice left. Sorry about the hair, wasn’t expecting it to go white, but it suits you. Let’s see that smile.”
Fenris smiled. It stung, but not as bad as before. Everything hurt before.
“There it is. Now. Your markings. We must test them out, check their capabilities.”