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The time he spends in Belfort is the least interesting part of his job. Whenever he is there, Elgar is waiting to leave again. His purpose is not political. He can't help govern. His skills are much better used elsewhere.

Still, there's always time in between reporting on one mission and being sent out on the next. The regulars apparently use that time to see their families, to catch up on pursuits they miss from peace time. Elgar has no such interests or obligations, so he simply waits. He rests, for as long as he needs to, and then keeps himself busy with training.

When he can, he uses the palace courtyard as his training ground. There's not enough room inside for him to practice aerial work -- not except in the laboratory, and that's out of the question. The courtyard, open to the sky, gives him room enough to move and makes him feel less penned in. He sweeps his sword through a series of broad arcs, gathers himself and springs -- launching himself up, first following the trajectory of his blade and then twisting so he propels it downward. They are parts of the same weapon, his body and his blade. Two breaths' pause when he lands, enough to recover, and he begins again.

He can hear footsteps on the flagstones, but they aren't Master's, so he doesn't stop. Another chain of attacks, and his breath steams in the air when he slows enough to catch sight of it. He raises his sword back to ready.

The person at the edge of the courtyard coughs, as though Elgar might simply not be aware of him. Idiot. "I have a message," he says.

"Deliver it, then," Elgar tells him.

The messenger flinches, the clink of his armor making it obvious. "Lord Schuenzeit has called for you," he says. He sounds as though expects to be gutted for saying so.

Elgar swings his sword up -- the messenger flinches again -- and around to restore it to its harness. "Then I will come to him," he says. The regulars act as though he is such a terrifying mystery, when really he's easier to predict than any of them. He simply follows his orders, and does it well.

The hallways clear when he walks through them. The Northern Forces soldiers, otherwise reasonable and some of them even brave, disappear so they won't catch his notice. Elgar strides through the halls, toward the meeting room where Master waits for him.

There is nobody else in the room when Elgar pushes open the door, only Master, seated at his desk by the window -- so this is not likely a mission briefing. Still, he's been wrong before. Elgar doesn't let his face or his voice betray any of his frustration as he bows and says, "I'm told you wished to see me."

"And so you have come," Master says. He sets aside the papers in his hand, rising from his desk. "Good."

Even such simple praise affects him; Elgar can feel the warmth of the word. "Do you have a new mission for me?" he asks.

Master shakes his head. "Not until Claire returns," he says. "I will want to hear her report first."

If Claire has not returned and there is nobody here to witness it, Elgar can guess what he has been summoned for. He doesn't move. He may not be able to resist the order once it's given, but neither will he volunteer.

"You look tense," Master says. He sounds amused. "Do you know why you're here?"

"I have an idea," Elgar says. He focuses on the muscles of his shoulders, willing them to relax so his posture won't be so challenging.

Master smiles. "What are you waiting for, then?"

"Your orders," Elgar says. "Sometimes I'm wrong."

"Kneel," Master says.

When he gives orders that simple, that direct, they feel like physical blows. Elgar collapses inward, his knees buckling, and sinks to the floor with Master's power humming through his flesh. He licks his lips, waiting, watching Master come closer.

"Your hands," Master says -- not an actual order, just a reminder. Elgar has never been sure if it's better to wait for the order, or to just do as Master wants as soon as it's clear. He crosses his wrists behind his back.

He watches Master unfasten his clothes, draw out his cock and stroke until it's hard. Elgar's mouth waters, a learned reflex, and he licks his lips again. Soon, the next order --

"Give me your mouth," Master says, and Elgar obeys. He leans forward, taking Master's cock in his mouth, rocking onto it until it grazes the back of his throat. Since he still has his visor on, it won't make any difference to Master if he closes his eyes. He does. Master's hand cups the back of his head, fingers twining in his queue, and guides his rhythm.

There is a part of him that always wants to argue that this is not his purpose -- and if it were, why would Master only use him for it in Claire's absence? But if he thinks too hard about voicing the complaint, he can feel a warning pain flicker in his chest. His purpose is to follow Master's orders perfectly, and sometimes Master orders this.

So he does it, and he does it well. He keeps his rhythm steady, and swallows when he needs to keep himself from choking. This is a simple task, and won't take long to accomplish. Master is always pleased afterward, and sometimes even says so. Elgar ignores the ache in his knees, the awkwardness of holding his hands pinned, the discomfort of having his mouth over-full. These things are unimportant.

What matters is that Master is satisfied, that Elgar swallows his come without having to be told. That Master makes a low hum of pleasure and says, "Well done," before he releases Elgar's mouth.

"Thank you," Elgar says -- this is not his most impressive skill, but Master is pleased with him.

"You may go," Master says.

Elgar bows his head before he rises. He is dismissed, but before he turns to leave he cannot help asking. "Will Claire be back soon?"

Master laughs. "You miss the battlefield that much, do you?"

"I know where my skills lie," Elgar says. It is as close to reproach as he can get without hurting himself.

"Soon," Master tells him soothingly. "We will have another battle for you before long."

"I look forward to it," Elgar says.

He is wasted on orders like this.