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It's becoming obvious that she has gone too easy on him. Raki was right, for all that his counsel is shaped by his jealousy; a new pet needs to be trained -- needs to be broken -- before it can be counted on to behave.

"Raki," Thage says, "will you leave us for a little while? I'd like to talk to Retica alone."

Retica smiles at her, entirely too hopeful, entirely too trusting; Raki's hackles rise under her hand. "Thage," Raki says. "Are you sure?"

"Trust me, Raki," Thage says.

"As you wish," Raki answers -- he knows his place, knows who his master is and always has, despite his machinations. "I will stand watch." He pads away, nearly silent, the nimbus of his power bleeding into Besek's magic-heavy air.

Thage turns her attention entirely to Retica, and smiles gently. "There. That's better, isn't it?"

Retica glances away from her, toward the path that Raki took, and looks back again. "He won't go far," he says. "He'll still be listening."

"Of course," Thage says. "You'll have to be quiet, won't you?"

"R-right," Retica says, his eyes widening. He takes a step closer to her; Thage waits, to see how far his stupidity extends. "I want to help you," he says. "You're not all darkness. You saved my life, right? A-and you don't want to be Izel the way the Majin think you should. Raki won't help you escape from that. He's a Majin, too."

Thage looks down demurely. It's been years since she played such a role, but she remembers how it went. "You're in love with me," she says. "Aren't you?"

"Thage," Retica says. "I --"

This deep into Besek she barely has to breathe to draw power to herself. "Hold fast, oh Goddess," she murmurs.

The magic saturating the air coalesces in response to her will, wraps Retica's limbs in chains of bright, pink-tinged light. He cries out, even though she hasn't tried to hurt him yet; Thage wonders if she could bind him the way she does the Majin they capture in battle, whether he could survive being impaled like that. Humans cannot, but he isn't truly human, is he? Not as far as Besek is concerned.

"What are you doing?" he demands, struggling against the spell she's awakened. "Cut it out!"

"I don't think so," Thage says. "You seem to have forgotten why you're here, Retica. Do you think this is a romance? Do you think I've kept you alive because I cared about you?"

Oh, now he looks like he's panicking; that's much cuter than the lovesick puppy face. "Thage, stop it!" he says, and she laughs.

Restrained like this, there's nothing he can do to stop her. Thage unlaces his pants and peels them down, ignoring his struggles. The hair between his legs is a darker silver than the hair on his head, and still sparse; his penis stirs when she runs her nails up its length, and his struggles cease. "You want me," she says.

"Thage," he whispers. He looks confused now, frightened and hopeful both at once. It's charming, how stubborn he is, the way he refuses to give up. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because you still haven't learned," Thage tells him. "You're my possession. You will do what I tell you to do, and you will feel what I allow you to feel." She wraps her hand around his penis and strokes it, coaxing it stiff. Retica's breath comes in shaky, nervous gasps.

"B-but," he says. He tries to push toward her hand, and she tightens the bonds that hold him. "I don't want to be your slave."

Thage smiles. "It doesn't matter what you want," she says. "You were foolish enough to come to Besek unprepared, and unlucky enough to meet me. You've already lost." He's grown fully hard in her hand now. "Perhaps a little suffering will help you understand." She lets go of him and reaches instead for her power, for the fine control that she'll need to make her lesson clear. She draws fine tendrils of power off the chains wrapped around his legs and directs them upward to surround his penis and testicles.

The cords of power draw tight, and Retica screams. He writhes in the grip of his bonds, fighting helplessly; Thage continues the treatment until he sags in defeat, watching the way he trembles. Sweat stands out on his brow by the time she allows him respite, and his chest heaves. She changes the pulse of power through his bonds, so they will caress instead of burning, and that makes him shudder all over again.

"Please," he says. "Please stop. I understand. I won't c-complain again."

"But I don't want to stop," Thage says. She touches his penis with one fingertip; the tightness of the bonds hasn't allowed him to lose his erection. "And it looks like you don't either."

"Yes, I do," Retica says. "Please, Thage. Please."

"It's boring when you repeat yourself like that," Thage says. She makes power course through the bonds again, and he screams just as sweetly as the first time.

This time she gives him no respite between the pain and the caresses that follow it, and he whimpers when her cruelty turns to kindness. Heat pulses between Thage's legs, and she thinks she will have to remember this little diversion the next time she has the luxury to pleasure herself.

A drop of fluid has collected at the tip of his penis, thick and clear. Thage leaves most of the tendrils where they are, squeezing gently, milking him, and directs one up to take that invitation. The tip of the tendril circles his slit and then begins to press slowly inside.

Retica finds his breath and his voice rather quickly. "Thage, please, don't," he says. "I can't -- I can't take it."

"Yes, you can," Thage reassures him. "You have to." She eases that tendril further in, until it fills the full length of his penis, and then refines her control further: the ones wrapped around him will continue to caress him, continue to bring him pleasure, while the one filling him pulses with pain. He sobs; he pleads; he curses her, and Besek, and the gods themselves. He has never been so beautiful.

And eventually, because he truly has no choice, he surrenders. Orgasm wracks him, his whole body trembling taut in his bonds, his eyes squeezed shut in what looks like agony. Thage licks her lips. She'll need to find time for her own pleasure soon. She banishes the binding spell with a gesture, and Retica collapses to his knees, defeated, panting for breath.

"Have you learned now?" Thage asks. "What are you to me, Retica?"

"Your possession," he says flatly, without looking up. "Something for you to toy with."

"That's right," Thage says. There's still a little anger in his voice, a little rebellion, but that only means she'll get to do this again. "Now clean yourself up. You don't want Raki to see you like that, do you?"

Retica cringes, never mind that Raki will be able to smell everything she's done to him. "No."

Thage smiles. "Good boy. As soon as you can walk, we're moving on."