Fiction~~Nature's Choice~~Ch. 7

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Nature's Choice
Chapter 7 - The Playroom

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Nemaro was trapped in the middle of the ‘playroom,’ but he was alone and unharmed.

He wanted that to mean something, but he couldn’t stop shivering. He told himself it was the cold. Even Horu would shiver in here; bare stone from floor to ceiling, the room sucked the heat right out of a man.

The décor was just as icy and intimidating as the room. An entire wall hung with hooks and…implements. Nemaro couldn’t understand what half of them were for, and the ones he could figure out made his shivering worse. The only other large pieces in the room were four oddly shaped tables, one in each corner, complete with attached manacles and iron rings; a few minutes thought on their purpose and his balls pulled up protectively.  

The cold, yeah. That was it. Never mind the fact that he’d be shaking just as wildly if he were dressed in winter woolens and furs.

His teeth started chattering audibly and Nemaro clamped them together. He hated this place. He hated the Keep, Lord Lanosh, his guards…and he hated this room most of all.

“How could someone make a room like this?”

The echo of his words made him start, looking for the source for a panicked moment before he could prevent it. His belly felt as hollow as the room. There were a thousand places he’d rather be, and Nemaro couldn’t help but wonder why he wasn’t at any one of them. Invading a Lord’s Keep was nothing short of insane.

He should have listened to Horu and stayed out of this.

As he shivered again, chains clanked aggressively. He looked up at his arms and glanced away. Hard enough being trapped. Worse thinking about just how bad a position he was actually in. But now that he was thinking about it, of course, he couldn’t stop.

His arms were kept stretched over his head, not so much that he couldn’t move, but they’d been aching for quite a while now. His shoulders burned. And the feel of velvet over his wrists was inescapable, and bizarre enough to make his skin crawl. Velvet-covered manacles – what did that say about Lord Lanosh? That no matter how elegant the man might be, beneath the surface was something that Nemaro really didn’t want to know about?

He could have guessed that already.

The chains rattled again as he tried to adjust his arms to find some measure of relief. It was unbelievable that he was actually chained. What kind of sick bastard used chains? Couldn’t they have tied Nemaro up and been done with it? At least then he might have a chance. He was pretty good with knots. Right now, heavy, unbreakable metal anchored his wrists to a hook hung from the ceiling. And as for his legs…

Nemaro was standing, at least. That was a good thing. His legs had been spread, though, and manacled to a small metal rod embedded into the floor. His bare feet were numb from touching the icy stone so long. The rest of him was freezing; those bastard guards had taken his clothes and tossed them into the corner the minute they’d dropped him in the room.

The fabric was absolutely ruined now.

He laughed shortly at the thought of what the women would think, trying to keep from crying like the weak little toy these people thought he was. As though he was going to live long enough for Meeta and Sha to kill him over a destroyed dress? Nemaro knew what this sort of set-up was for.  He’d never been to one of the really expensive brothels, but everyone had heard of the places and what went on in them.

And even if he hadn’t, those fucking guards had made sure to tell him. Stripped, chained, his legs spread –

Lord Lanosh likes full access, pretty boy.

Nemaro shivered violently. The Lord liked short hair and smooth skin, too. They’d cut Nemaro’s hair just below his ears; he knew it would be curling all over his head by now. Nemaro wouldn’t have thought it would matter – it was only hair – but watching clumps of it falling onto the floor as the guards commented on what it was doing to his looks, he’d felt so completely helpless.

He hadn’t felt this out of control since he’d been in the temple.

But that was nothing to when they shaved his face and legs. Jon ran his fingers over Nemaro’s skin, up his legs, smoothing a rose-scented foam over it before they scraped the straight razor over him. Nemaro had tried every curse word he’d ever learned, about their mothers, their wives, and their manhoods.

Jon had simply moved slower, his fingers lingering over Nemaro’s skin while he’d laughed. Nemaro could still fucking feel them, moving up past his knees, creeping up the outside of his thighs. And then they’d smiled as they went for his groin. That was ten times worse. No, a thousand times worse. His privates felt contaminated. The guards’ fingers had grabbed him, harsh and bruising around his cock as they held the blade there, slicing so carelessly he’d thought he was going to be emasculated.

When one of those fingers had edged along the seam leading to his ass, he’d been absolutely certain they were going to violate him along with everything else.  No, even before then. Nemaro had been certain they were going to rape him from the moment they stripped him.

He’d never felt so scared. Fighting for his life or hiding from the city watch, everything had a buzz to it. A heightened sense of the world that buffered him from the fear that usually hit him once he was safe. Even with Mosumato, there’d been pleasure to take the edge off the terror.

Forced to stand, exposed, for a couple of sadistic men who could do whatever they wished with him? That was something different. Darker. And they knew it. The guard Shan had even smiled after he’d finished the shaving. Pointedly sliding a cloth over the razor blade, he’d made sure to direct Nemaro’s attention to the small puddles of water on the uneven floor, and the large metal grate in the middle where some of it was still sluggishly draining out.

After Lord Lanosh really enjoyed himself, Shan said, the blood needed a real scrubbing to get off.

Nemaro caught the inside of his cheek in his teeth as his mind tried, again, to think of what ‘Lanosh enjoying himself’ might mean. His breath started to come in small pants. The chains rattled as he pulled at his arms again, shifting to try and free his legs, his hands… a damn pinky would do!

This place was horrific. Even the smell: rose mixed with the copper taste of blood.  Nemaro would have vomited as he noticed it again, but there was nothing left in his stomach. He’d already lost his breakfast once they’d taken his clothes and Shan’s fist had slammed into his gut to ‘calm him down.’

He didn’t think he’d ever hated anyone the way he hated those two right now.

Stringing him up like this. Taunting him. Telling him exactly what Lord Lanosh liked to have them do. Trying to terrify him with their stories.

Succeeding in that so well that they were probably gloating about it even now.

“It’s all right.” The sound of his voice was wrong somehow, but it was better than the thoughts going through his head. “Just fine. I’ve been in worse situations than this plenty of times.” No, he hadn’t. This was as bad as it had ever been.

“I can get out of this. I just need to get free, that’s all.” He bit his lip again as he tried not to babble. The manacles were tightly fitted, and his arms were aching with a tight throb that spread down his torso. He couldn’t figure out how to get free of them. Even if he had been skilled at picking locks with nothing but his fingernails, the velvet was covering the metal.

“That’s fine, though. No one’s here yet and Horu has got to be coming soon.”

Really, really soon. Anytime now, Horu, would be good.

“And he’ll tear them apart and Meeta and Sha will be fine. Perfect.”

That was the other thought that haunted him. What was happening with Meeta and Sha?  Were they safe? Had they escaped? Or were they strung up like he was while men came and used them like Lanosh had threatened?

Nemaro had to get the fuck out of here to help them. He just had to get out. Dammit, Lanosh had noticed them all because of him. It was his fault.

His eyes darted around as though they could find some new way to escape and his gaze caught on one of the oddly shaped tables with the large curve in the middle of it. In just the right spot to push up his ass if he were splayed over it.

His body jerked, the chains rattled, and his shivers started up again. There was no way he was getting free on his own. He couldn’t do it.

“Hurry up, Horu.” They had a meeting place set up, right? Horu would be waiting there for them. Kara had to have found him already. He’d be coming any moment now. Any minute now, he’d come roaring in and railing at Nemaro for being an idiot and getting into trouble. With Sha and Meeta in tow and unharmed. Any minute now.

The door creaked and Nemaro’s heart hit his ribs so hard it hurt.

The heavy thing opened slowly, giving Nemaro enough time to terrify himself into nausea. And then Lord Lanosh walked in. The guards glanced in, but they stayed on the other side of the door as it closed. Without them to take his eyes away, the self-satisfied smirk on Lanosh’s face dominated his vision. The Lord looked so happy to see Nemaro like this.

Nemaro shivered violently yet again.

Merciful face of the God, send Horu. I will get down on my knees and thank him if I have to, but please!

Lanosh’s dark eyes traced down Nemaro’s skin, letting him know in a visceral way that every, single inch that was vulnerable and bared. Nemaro couldn’t stop himself from glancing at the wall. Clamps, vises, quirts, knives – what was Lanosh going to do with them?

What was he going to do with Nemaro?

The man took one step and that was all Nemaro could stand before he started talking. “Let me go.”

The whisper was so pitiful Nemaro cringed. He hadn’t meant to say anything at all. Once he started, he couldn’t stop. It wasn’t possible. But he had to sound reasonable, not like such a witless, terrified rabbit. Reason with the Lord who had him chained in the dungeon for the faces of the god knew what.

How the hell was he supposed to do that?

“Y-You don’t have to do this. I won’t run away. I’d be perfectly happy to stay in one of the guest rooms until the Historians send someone for me and-”

“Don’t be foolish, toy. I never do anything I don’t want to.” Lanosh stepped forward until he was a few feet away, staring down at Nemaro’s face. He smiled, his teeth large and white. “I’m doing this because I want to.”

Swallowing, his throat so dry it hurt, Nemaro searched the man’s face. The only thing he could think of when he looked at it was ‘hungry.’ Lanosh was enjoying seeing him like this, terrified and helpless.

It took more effort of will than Nemaro thought he had in him, but his voice wasn’t such a pathetic warble when he spoke again. “You- You won’t live long enough to enjoy this, you know. When I g-get out of here-”

Elegant lips quirked. “Threatened by a Historian’s whore. How quaint.”

“I’m not a whore, you motherless goat herder!” Nemaro sucked in his breath and choked as he realized what he’d said. His knees nearly gave out. Terror burned the anger away like thread in a flame.

Nothing changed but Lanosh’s eyes; they turned almost black. Reaching out, Lord Lanosh curled his fingers around Nemaro’s chin. Nemaro choked again as his head was forced up and back.  

Lanosh smiled as he looked over Nemaro’s face, tightening his grip so that Nemaro whimpered against his will. “There now, that’s the proper expression for a pretty, deluded little Tesa like yourself. You have much more important matters to think about than what happens after you leave me.” Lanosh leaned in and Nemaro wanted to spit as the bastard kissed him so hard it mashed his already bruised lips against his teeth. The man’s other hand reached down and cupped his now-hairless balls, squeezing until Nemaro’s voice went high and thin underneath the Lanosh’s mouth.

Loosening his grip, Lanosh left his hand there, touching Nemaro intimately. The cool feel of his fingers against the insides of Nemaro’s thighs and over his sac was horrifying. Like a spider was crouched between his legs.  Quivering, still unable to move his head, Nemaro didn’t so much as blink.

This couldn’t be happening. It couldn’t. “The Arcane temple won’t l-like it if you hurt me.”

Lanosh flexed his fingers and Nemaro flinched, expecting pain.  “Try again. The Temple doesn’t care what I do to you, as long as it doesn’t scar. If you’re lucky, they’ll come as soon as they receive my messenger.”

Lanosh released Nemaro’s chin and rubbed softly at the shortened hair near his temple, wrapping a small curl around his finger. The chains trembled as Nemaro tried to pull away. “Then again, perhaps they won’t. Either way, you’re mine for the moment, Tesa.”

He let go of Nemaro’s hair and headed over to the wall. Nemaro’s stomach churned, his balls ached worse than when he’d worn his first pair of leggings and burned his skin on the lacings. And his mind churned worse than his stomach, wondering what could be done that wouldn’t leave a scar.

Too many really, really bad things. Where was Horu, dammit?

Closing his eyes to shut out the sight of Lanosh caressing a small whip with bone chips woven into it, Nemaro couldn’t think himself away. The smell of roses and blood was too strong. The floor was too cold, the pain in his shoulders too hot. There was nothing good here to latch onto. Not one single thing.

He wanted to be with Horu. Nemaro wanted to be out of here with the women, still outside the Keep walls, looking for ways in to steal the map.

If that stupid village slut hadn’t told them about Lanosh looking for the Eye of Forshar, they wouldn’t even be here! Nemaro would be in the mountains with Horu still and they’d only have the cold and the women’s teasing to contend with; that’s how it should be. Not dealing with some obsessed Lord who like jewels and…and fair-haired women from Nehman.

How many people had thought Nemaro was a woman from Nehman?

Nemaro moaned under his breath, his entire body so repulsed at the thought of the Lord touching him that he opened his eyes. He shut them tight again. The large rod in Lanosh’s hand could be a club. It could be. It didn’t have to be something perverse.

Why me?

Why couldn’t he have been born someone else? Someone too ugly to attract deviant Lords everywhere he went? And why couldn’t this Lord have been more obsessed with the Eye than he was with one skinny thief? They’d never said he was sex-crazed, not like some Lords whose reputations for debauchery were legendary. All everyone had said about Lanosh was that he was salivating to get the Eye of Forshar.

Nemaro stopped shivering. He opened his eyes and looked at the Lord, watching him caress a small vise just the right size to crush a man’s balls. Why was the bastard doing this? Nemaro wasn’t misremembering. Everyone said Lord Lanosh was more obsessed with the Eye than with anything else. 

So why was he wasting his time with Nemaro and the Historians? They’d give him anything he wanted once Nemaro was given back to them, hadn’t Lanosh said that?

“You don’t have all the information about the Eye,” Nemaro blurted. The very second Lanosh turned around to stare at him, Nemaro wished he’d held his tongue. But he couldn’t stop now, even if he could only manage a thready whisper with that narrow-eyed gaze on him. “Th-That’s why you’re trying to trade for me with the temple. One of them has something you need to find the Eye of Forshar.”

Lanosh’s hands clenched for the briefest moment before he managed a condescending smile. “That’s very perceptive, Tesa. But my business is none of yours.” He turned abruptly, reaching for something against the wall.  Nemaro couldn’t tell what it was – it was small enough to fit in his hand - but from the look on the man’s face, it was going to be bad.

“I studied with them for my entire life.” Lanosh stalked over and Nemaro ran his mouth as fast as he could. He had to stave off whatever was coming. What did Lanosh have in his hand? “I could find it for you, whatever it is. I read most of their-”

Face hard and set, Lanosh shook his head. “A whore know about the Great Eye? I think not.”

The Great Eye? Hope blossomed for the first time since he’d stepped inside the Lord’s carriage. “Wait! I know-” Nemaro choked as Lanosh grabbed his face, pressing against the pressure points in his jaw until it opened. The Lord shoved something into his mouth, cuffing him upside the head as Nemaro tried to spit it out. There was a short, useless struggle and then Lanosh latched it behind it head. The taste of leather invaded Nemaro’s tongue as a round object settled there, keeping his jaw open and wide. It made the bruises on his lips throb.

Lanosh stepped back and smiled just as Nemaro realized he’d been gagged.  “Perfect.”

No!  No, not when he had a chance!  Nemaro knew about the Great Eye! He knew the mountain range the Eye was in, the cursed caverns where it was supposed to be hidden, the legends about it; he’d studied the Covenant of the Eye for years! He knew all about it!

They’d never called the damn thing the Eye of Forshar, though!

He lashed his head back and forth frantically, trying to talk through the gag. The chains rattled like they were caught in a gale. This could get him out of here, if he could only get Lanosh to listen. They could bargain!


Lanosh watched him a moment, smiling again, and then sauntered back to the wall.

How could Nemaro be so close to getting free and lose his chance? It couldn’t be happening like this! He struggled a few more minutes and only managed to nearly wrench one of his shoulders. Lanosh ignored him. He seemed determined to take his time choosing whatever else he was going to use on Nemaro.

Nemaro frantically tried to think of a way to get his attention, but nothing he did even made the man turn to look at him. And the more he failed, the more small distractions crept in. Air cooled his privates and slithered over his ass. Water trickled into the sewer grate. The taste of leather was growing more and more noticeable.

And it tasted good.

Shaking his head violently, Nemaro bit down on the gag until his jaw ached and his bruised lips nearly bled. He couldn’t let it distract him. There was no time to think about leather. The girls needed him! He had to get Lanosh to damn well listen.

Because if he couldn’t…

Nemaro shivered and automatically rubbed over the gag with his tongue. Hard and slick. The leather had been waterproofed. But that wasn’t important. He was trying to get Lanosh to listen. To make sure to free all of them if Horu didn’t come on time. He needed to—

Something clanked ominously against the wall and Nemaro ran his tongue over the leather again.  Trying not to notice how Lanosh was fondling the quirts, he licked the inside of it. The small sounds the man was making, like he was murmuring to himself, made Nemaro’s senses spasm, and he couldn’t stop himself from feeling the leather again.

It made everything else a little less frightening.

His legs and arms were cramped, he was freezing cold, and his lungs were pumping air painfully fast through his nose, but the leather was good.  If he concentrated really hard, he could smell it underneath the rose. Old leather, well used. Tangy, with hints of saddle oil that made a strange bitter flavor over his tongue.

Nothing truly bad could happen when there was leather, could it?

He heard Lanosh move and looked over to see him holding a long whip made of what looked like soft suede, about as long as Nemaro was tall.

Yes, it could. Yes, it definitely could. Bad things could happen, and he didn’t know what they were, but Lanosh looked so happy that Nemaro was ready to run and he didn’t even know what he was frightened of yet.

Slowly twining the leather around his hands, Lanosh ambled closer until he was directly behind Nemaro. It was almost impossible to see what he was doing, but Nemaro twisted his head to try. His startled yell was muffled through his gag when something smoothed over his back.

“Your skin is perfect,” Lanosh murmured. His hand – just his hand, not the whip – caressed down Nemaro’s back, over his spine, and ended by cupping one cheek. “Shaved and smooth. Even your ass looks like a woman’s.” And then the hand was gone and Nemaro cried wordlessly when something snapped against his back.

The suddenness of it combined with sharp pain to block any thought. Just a thin stripe of pain, growing sharper and hotter every second.

Lanosh’s hand was back, repeating the caress, and Nemaro whimpered. It was the same path the pain had followed.

“Your flesh blooms beautifully with the lash.” He said it like it was a trait worth admiring. “Without that irritating voice of yours getting in the way, you’d be the perfect concubine, Tesa. I could beat you for hours and not get tired of it.”

Nemaro whimpered under his breath. It hurt! How could it hurt this much? Bar fights didn’t hurt like this, even a knife wound didn’t hurt like this!  

“Do you like the softer leather?” Nemaro shuddered as he felt Lanosh’s hand on his back again, tracing a different path down to his buttocks. He tried to pull down his arms to protect himself, then jerked as something whipped across his back in the same line. His moan was soft and quiet behind the gag. “The welts it leaves are such a lovely shade of red. It doesn’t even break the skin. If I’m careful.”

Another obscene caress, and Nemaro tried to scream but only managed a strangled cry as the whip hit him again. He cursed leather for the first time in his life. The heat across Nemaro’s back was so bright that it felt more like a brand than a beating.

His entire body was shaking, waiting for the next touch. It started on his spine this time, trailing down slowly until Lanosh drew a soft line between the cheeks of his ass. Struggling against the chains, Nemaro couldn’t move away from it.

Don’t fucking touch me!

The hand left and Nemaro readied himself for more pain when Lanosh startled him by walking around in front. A hand reached for his face again.

The man drew his finger over Nemaro’s cheek and looked at it. “Tears? Already? You truly are a soft, pampered thing.” Lanosh smiled. And like every time he did it, something cold coiled in Nemaro’s gut. “I won’t have to beat you nearly as long as I thought before I can take the gag off.  You’ll be down to sobs and screams in no time. Lovely.”

Nemaro hated that word. 

“I wonder what sounds you’ll make if I start on your cock?”

Nemaro instinctively tried to close his legs and started to shake when he realized he couldn’t. What the hell was the man going to do to him?  Nemaro couldn’t break free, and Lanosh wouldn’t let him talk. He couldn’t get free! And where the hell was Horu? He was supposed to be coming! Where was he?

Lanosh stared down at Nemaro’s member with a speculative gleam in his eyes. “Breasts are always so sensitive on the slatterns I bring here, but I’ve never tried this with a man.” He looked back up at Nemaro, stared into his eyes, and smiled again. “I believe I’m going to enjoy this more than I thought.”

Nemaro saw his arm tense, the thin whip twisting in Lanosh’s hand, and he started yelling through his gag desperately, trying to avoid the pain that would come with this, to make Lanosh stop and fucking listen to him.

Someone knocked on the door.

Lanosh’s hand slipped, the lash whipping around Nemaro’s thigh. It still burned, and he still screamed, but he was nearly sobbing with relief that it had missed his cock. Whoever was knocking, he would be eternally grateful to them. If only they’d keep knocking and take Lanosh away.

Naked and chained up was fine, as long as Lanosh was gone.

Lanosh looked at the door, and then very deliberately draped the whip over Nemaro’s shoulders before he went to the door. The barely restrained tone of his voice as he yanked it open scared Nemaro a lot more than it had earlier in the day.

“If this isn’t vital, the guards will be playing with your corpse on the rack.”

Nemaro couldn’t see who he was talking to, just the barest murmur of a voice, but Lanosh’s reaction was obvious. His shoulders stiffened and he glanced back at Nemaro. He held up his hand as the other man tried to speak again, waving him away.

There was a momentary flash of livery as the man left, the door still open. Nemaro only barely registered it. Lanosh was blocking the open doorway, his lips tight. His hands were clenched into fists again, but more like he was planning to use them on Nemaro.

“So, Nemaro Tesa du Arcana Johl, what was it you said your name was?” There was a bite to his tone so sharp Nemaro should have been bleeding. “Horu, wasn’t it?”

Nemaro swallowed as best he could behind the gag. Lanosh reached up and unbuckled it quickly, yanking some of Nemaro’s hair along with it as it caught on the buckle. He slapped it against his hand.

“How curious that at this late hour, we now have one of those irritating charlatans at the door, with just such a name.”

Nemaro stiffened. Horu? He was saved!

Bless your green, beautiful ass, Horu!

The gag slapped against Lanosh’s hand again.  Nemaro was saved…but what was going to happen until Horu found him? “It- It’s a common name.”

“Not in my Keep. And not one who is looking for you and your women. Who have you brought to my door, Tesa?

Another slap of the gag, with a jerking snap to it. Nemaro swallowed, imagining the sharp metal of the buckle slapping against his skin with the same strength.

“I- I have no idea. Maybe you should have asked who he was.”
Nemaro didn’t see the hand that punched him in the gut, but it made the whole world spin. He dry heaved, gasping for air, as Lanosh stared down at him.

“Impertinent little rag. You will tell me who this charlatan is. Who is coming to my door, claiming to be one of Nature’s gods? What manner of wizard is he?” Unable to speak, Nemaro was still gasping for breath when his head was yanked up. “What type of wizard is following you?”

“I- I don’t know!” He was shaken so hard by the head that it nearly wrenched his arms from his sockets as his body rocked from it. “I- Maybe he’s after the reward! Th-there was one who was following me a few weeks ago. I- I don’t know what kind of wizard he is, but I found out his name before I ran. That’s all! It’s why I came to the pass!”

Lanosh stopped and stared at him. Did he buy it?

Nemaro knew what the Lord was thinking. Wizards pretending to be more powerful gods were as numerous as pimples on a whore’s tit. They’d dye their skin and hair, spend months just to ready a few tricks to wow the masses, but they were mostly for show. Fake gods just plucked the gullible coneys clean and moved on to the next mark.

Most people never saw a real god in their entire lives, never mind two. But if Lanosh thought that Horu was just another charlatan, then Horu would have an advantage. If Lanosh suspected though…he could have Horu filled with arrows in moments.

Nemaro’s mind raced for something he could use to elaborate on the story, and Lanosh hit him again, right under his ribs. He spoke over Nemaro’s high-pitched whimper. “I don’t believe you.”

“It’s true,” Nemaro wheezed out. “I swear by my mother’s name!” The woman who’d given him to the Arcane Temple could rot in the thirteen hells.

Lanosh reached down and grabbed Nemaro’s balls. He squeezed once, hard enough that Nemaro screamed.  “You don’t need these to pleasure the Historians, so don’t think I won’t crush them into raisins. Tell me another story, whore. Who is this Horu?” He squeezed a little harder.

Nemaro sobbed, gagging, blind from so much pain, but he tried desperately to keep from blurting it out. What if Lanosh hurt Horu? Nemaro couldn’t let that happen. He couldn’t-

“I swear….” His voice was so tight and high he could hardly get it out. “I just know his name. That’s all.”

Lanosh held on for another second and then let go with his lips twisted in disgust. He leaned in close to whisper against Nemaro’s lips. “If it turns out you’re lying, I’ll make your time with me something to wake you up screaming until the day you die, Tesa.

Nemaro could see his own reflection, pale and trembling, in Lanosh’s eyes. He couldn’t look away until the man turned on his own.

“Shan, Jon, prepare him for my return. I have to deal with this.”

Nemaro watched through eyes that watered from the pain as the two guards stepped away from their posts in the hall came into the room. They looked him over as they came close, bowing respectfully to Lord Lanosh and promising horrible things with their eyes.

“What would yer Lordship like?”

Lanosh looked him over. “Ready him with the oils. Over the blue table.”

Nemaro was trying to figure out what that meant when Lanosh walked out the door. Shan closed it behind him and he was grinning fiercely when he looked back at Nemaro.

“I’m almost tempted to be nice to yeh, whore. Yeh won me a whole silver penny by screaming like that. High-pitched as a gel, just like I thought.”

“How was I supposed to know he’d be such a filly? I’ve seen bitches half his size who cried less,” Jon complained. He walked up to Nemaro and pulled the whip off his shoulders, tossing it to Shan before he knelt down to work on one of the shackles.

Nemaro wanted to threaten them with Horu again, but it was all he could do not to throw up. Nausea clawed at his stomach with nails the size of talons. It gave him enough time to remember the lie he’d just told Lanosh. If he said something about Horu, would they call him back?

He didn’t want Lanosh to come back. Ever.

But he didn’t want these two to be anywhere near him, either. Shan was over by the wall, grinning as he got out a bottle of oil and poured it into an oddly shaped... what was that? Nemaro squinted and then gasped just as one ankle was freed.

“What are you doing? That- You’re not going to- That’s not-”

“Aw, ain’t that cute? The whore’s so shocked he can’t even speak.” Shan brought the thing over, clearer now. It was a large, glass phallus, filled with oil, with a plunger in the back of it. The pale green fluid leaked out a small hole the end, mixing with the shallow puddles on the floor to make unpleasant, diseased looking pools. Shan grinned as he held it up in front of Nemaro’s face. “Hey Jon, what yeh want to bet that the pretty knows where this is gonna go?”

“Not taking that bet. Have to be stupid as a stone not that figure that one out.” Jon freed Nemaro’s other ankle and Nemaro kicked out at Shan frantically. Shan backed up and caught his heel. He tightened his grip until Nemaro would swear he could feel the bones bending.

“You’d better fucking let me go, or you’re going to be in so much pain….” Nemaro’s voice was still too high. All it did was make the two bastards laugh.

“You’re gonna be in enough pain as it is, little bitch, when I shove this in yeh. I just have to oil you up for the Lord. I don’t have to do it slow.” Shan leaned in, still holding onto Nemaro’s leg, bending his knee up towards his chest. “And yeh’ve pissed me off too much for me to do it slow. Might even fuck yeh with this a bit, just to make sure yeh get nice and wide for the Lord. He likes a smooth ride.”

“Fucking bastards. Take your fucking hands off me!” This wasn’t happening! Horu was here; that should be the end of it! He wasn’t supposed to be here but too late to stop…this. Jon finished with his other legs and Nemaro kicked out again. He bucked and flailed, catching Shan once in the side. For the briefest moment his other leg was free as Shan let him go, and Nemaro managed another swift kick, catching Jon in the knee. Still strung up by his arms, he nearly got Shan in the groin before both guards rushed him.

His head rung when they boxed his ears so hard that he saw stars.

By the time his vision cleared, his arms were unshackled, screaming in protest at the change in position. He was being taken over to the table. The one with the curve that would raise up his ass. Nemaro could see where it would hold his legs spread wide, his arms up by his head, and a heavy leather collar that would keep your head flush with the table.

It was made for fucking.

Nemaro could barely breathe. His entire body spasmed, struggling against the heavy grip on his arms and legs. “No! Fucking bastards! You goat-spawned parasitic mealworms! Let me go or Horu will make you eat your own damned liver!!”

They didn’t even pause, although Shan grunted. “Remind me to tell Lord Lanosh that the little whore lied. He knows that bastard. Once the Lord’s done teaching the magicker a lesson, he’ll want to start on this one.”

Nemaro continued yelling, but he was being dragged forward, and he couldn’t stop them. They were built like damned trees!

Flipping him over, they had him strapped face down within minutes, ass vulnerable and exposed, and Nemaro’s entire back crawled as he yanked desperately at the restraints. With his head pressed against lower curve of the table, he couldn't even look to see what they were doing, but he could feel them staring at him.

He felt a coarse hand on his ass, running fingers over his skin. “Get the fuck away from me!”

It patted him so hard it was like a slap. “Now don’t worry, this won’t hurt any more than any other dick up your ass. I’m sure yeh’re used to that by now, eh?”

They both laughed. Nemaro inhaled to yell at them again, trying to kick his legs, when there was an explosive crack. All three of them went quiet; Nemaro heard a screech that made the hairs on his head stand up on end. Metal squealing across bare stone.

The hand left Nemaro’s ass. Shan growled. “What the fuck is that?”

Nemaro twisted wildly in his restraints. He hadn’t heard the door open; had someone come in? What was going on? Was it Horu? Had he found Nemaro somehow?

“Horu?” No one answered him, but he heard Shan yell and then a splash and a meaty thump against a wall. “H-Horu? Is that you? What’s going on?”

His head couldn’t move, and the sounds were all behind him. He couldn’t see! Jon was yelling now, cursing as his footsteps headed back to the door. Another scream and another heavy thump against the wall. And then silence except for the continued gurgle of water as it slipped down the drain.

Nemaro’s eyes rolled as he tried to see farther than his small field of vision, pulling at his wrists and ankles, still struggling to free himself. He didn’t understand. Horu would have spoken by now. What was going on? The men weren’t bothering him – he would be grateful for that soon, he knew he would – but a different kind of terror was taking hold now. What could take down two men of that size, before they could even fight back? And in a locked room. Where Nemaro was still completely immobilized.

He had his answer as he caught something glistening out of the corner of his eye. Nemaro blinked, but the shimmer didn’t go away. It slithered along the floor like a snake, questing, and he was shivering as it came up close to his face and lifted a tendril off the floor to touch him on the cheek.

It wasn’t alive. It was water. A small, thin, wavering tentacle of water.

Nemaro’s throat tightened; he couldn’t speak. His limbs melted and tightened at the same time. It was almost too much to believe until the small silvery appendage stroked over his face again.

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, whichever face of the god did this!

The men couldn’t hurt him now. He was safe now. They couldn’t rape him with that thing. Shaking, Nemaro closed his eyes and cursed at himself as he felt tears well up. He wasn’t a damn weak toy, and he wasn’t going to cry! Nemaro clenched his eyes together tightly, trying to get the tears to stop. He was fine. Mosumato would let him go now and he would…

Water traced a path over his bottom lip, back and forth, and Nemaro blinked. It probed at his mouth as though it were going to enter until he pulled his face away. No. No, what was wrong with him?  It wasn’t a good thing that Mosumato was here. Why would he think for even a moment that he wanted that bastard here? He didn’t!  Nemaro was still on the table, ass in the air, unable to protect himself. Mosumato could do whatever he damn well wanted with him.

A betraying heat grew in Nemaro’s belly and invaded his groin. His cock twitched.

No, that wasn’t happening. His cock was not interested in this! “S-stay the hell away, Mosumato!  Horu will be here any minute now! Just… just leave!” Nemaro paused. He didn’t feel right leaving it there. “B-but thank you for stopping them.”

The small tendril slipped over his cheek again, more like a caress than anything else. Mosumato didn’t say a word. Why wasn’t he saying anything?

The fluid moved down to his neck and spread out across it. Nemaro swallowed his shock as he felt a tugging and realized it was undoing the buckle of the leather collar around his neck.

Mosumato was letting him up?

“What are you doing?” Yes, he wanted him to let him go, but he hadn’t actually thought he’d do it! Nemaro had expected… he’d expected to feel those large hands on his body.

He realized he was feeling other tendrils at his wrists and ankles, probing, yanking, and within a few minutes, the manacles loosened and Nemaro twisted free of the cuffs. He slid off the table, his ass scraping the floor as he landed, and scrambled to his feet.  He couldn’t stop shaking. His muscles weren’t moving right after being in the same position for so long. He couldn’t even lift his arms; they were in agony. And his back still stung with bright pain.

The odd euphoria that hit when he realized he was safe had disappeared, and the pain was growing too quickly. His cock went completely limp.

Nemaro didn’t want to be touched right now.

“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing Mosumato. I won’t let you-” Nemaro turned clumsily to confront him and stopped dead. “Mosumato? What the hell?”

He wasn’t there. Jon and Shan were in an unconscious pile against the far wall, and the large grate that had been in the middle of the floor was broken in two, shoved out of the way. Numerous small tendrils of water were seeping up from puddles all over the floor, waving gently like a field of glistening grass.

It was beautiful and it gave him the creepies at the same time.

But Mosumato was nowhere in the room.  Just the water, the guards, and Nemaro.  Mosumato hadn’t made it to Nemaro before Horu, then. Just his water.

“Uh. Well.” What did you say to water when you were about to run away? “I guess…thank you. I’ll find some way to repay you for this.”

I’m talking to water. This is stupid.

“I’ll…I’ll be going now, then.” Would that work? He could make his way out of the dungeon and find Horu and the women.

Nemaro took a step towards the door and the water rose up in front of him like a sudden growth of liquid bamboo. A few of the smaller tendrils flowed together and waved in front of him like an admonishing finger.  He pulled back, looking around. Nemaro was surrounded. The water was everywhere, and it was increasing. Spreading out from the man-sized hole where the drain cover had been, it was carefully moving up into the room in a nature-defying stream.

“Horu will be here soon,” he repeated. At least Mosumato knew Horu would kick his ass. He wouldn’t do anything to Nemaro if Horu was coming, would he? And at least… at least he wasn’t Lanosh. Or the guards.

Nemaro shuddered, wrapping his arms around himself as he stared. His back still burned, and he was cold now from the stone, shivering in reaction. His legs trembled. Even if it was Mosumato…it was still better than those two bastards. Still better.

He might have taken his own pleasure before, and he was a bastard. A condescending, supercilious bastard.  But…he didn’t seem to want to hurt Nemaro just to cause him pain.

And he’d given him that orgasm….

Nemaro squeaked as one of the tendrils surprised him from behind. He would have turned but it flowed over his back, holding him still as it spread over him like a cloth. The sensations hit him one after another: icy cold over his welts, warmth and pressure rippling against the abused muscles of his shoulders and arms. Water even warmed at his feet, making them tingle painfully as the numbness receded.

He could hardly make sense of it. Mosumato was supposed to attack him, or fuck him.  Not…this.

Nemaro stood still, his legs quivering like a newborn colt’s. The pain ebbed slowly until his muscles loosened into putty. He shivered again when the water dripped down his back and returned to the floor. He didn’t know if the few rivulets down the crack of his ass were his imagination or not.

But he did know he was an idiot.

Because he felt better. Nemaro was still trapped in the Keep, and scared, and he wanted Horu so badly he could taste the man’s scent in his mouth. But having something here that had just obviously tried to help him was more soothing than it should be.

Except Mosumato was still a bastard. He must have another reason, right? Otherwise, he would be letting Nemaro go back to Horu.

“What do you want?” he whispered. The water just wavered in the air. He watched it, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Nothing changed for a long moment, and then Nemaro saw one of the small tentacles shiver. It was only for a few seconds, but he would swear it wasn’t as cohesive as he’d seen it before.

Looking around, he realized the strands were all much thinner than when Mosumato had first taken him; they wavered in the air, and periodically one of them would fall apart, dripping into the puddles on the floor before it rose back up.

Was Mosumato having some trouble with the water? Nemaro bit his lip, and then suddenly whipped out his foot and kicked one. It fell apart.

He jerked back, unsure if Mosumato was going to kick his ass, but the tendril simply reformed and poked him in the thigh before going back to waving gently in the air.

Something was keeping them weaker. Maybe Mosumato couldn’t hold him. Maybe if Nemaro rushed the door, he could break through?

He was gathering his courage when he heard Shan groan. Nemaro startled. His foot slipped on the wet floor and one of his knees gave out. Falling into the tendrils in front of him, he pushed himself back away frantically. He couldn’t get out the door if he entangled himself in the water!

Cursing quietly, yanking at his arm where one of the tendrils wrapped around it, Nemaro pulled back so hard that when he broke free, he went stumbling back a few steps.

His eyes went wide as he stepped into open air. Arms waving wildly, Nemaro went down, scraping over the edge of the sewer drain with a startled yell.  He caught at the edge of hole, the fetid smell of old blood strong in his nostrils, scrabbling desperately at the stone with his fingers.

They caught nothing, fingernails sliding uselessly against stone until he slipped over the edge completely. Screaming, he fell for only a few moments; he was caught partway by a soft bed of water underneath.

He gulped frantically, panting. The lucky face of the god was with him today. Good luck and bad, that was always the way, wasn’t it? The open-air shaft was loathsome, stone sides covered inches thick with dark sludge, rotting.

But Nemaro wasn’t drowning down in the bowels of the waterways.

“Thank you. Thank you.” He didn’t know whether he was thanking Mosumato or the deity. He was still panting, looking at the opening a few feet above his head through the dark tunnel of stone, when the water started to tremble.

Nemaro started to sink into it.

“Wha- No!  Mosumato, what do you think you’re doing!  Don’t you dare!” The gelatin water underneath firmed for a moment and then trembled again and suddenly fell a few feet while Nemaro screamed.

He was staring up at the opening, now even farther away. A broad face peered over the edge. Nemaro recognized the nasty one, Shan, but the head pulled back and he could hear the man yelling at his friend.

Mosumato, or Shan and Jon?

Nemaro bit his lip and tried to brace himself against the narrow walls. It was dark down here, and the only surface under him was the water. But if he could brace himself until Horu came, then neither the guards nor Mosumato would get him.

The water trembled again, and when it fell, Nemaro’s hands could get no grip against the slimy walls. He fell again, so deep now that the opening was only a small square far above his head.

And then the water gave way completely and he plunged down, scraping against the walls as he screamed again.  Nemaro splashed into water unnaturally, cushioned for the briefest moment before the tension broke underneath him. His head went under and it was blacker than the tombs he’d raided. Not the faintest blush of light, just the water surrounding him completely with shocking cold. A strong current pulled him away, tumbling his body, and he scrabbled against a wall as he slid alongside it, trying to find a way out – air! – when suddenly the pressure around his legs was gone.

Water rushed over him, the blackness absolute, but something was creeping up his body, pushing away the water. He was getting close to choking for lack of air when it went around his head. Nemaro held his breath for a few moments longer and finally gave in, inhaling desperately.

He could breathe.

Panting, inhaling deep lungfuls of air, Nemaro stared with blind eyes.  He reached out, realizing he was no longer crashing against the stone, and pushed. His hands hit a barrier. Nemaro still felt as though he were bobbing in the current, but he was encased in…something. Something cold, and flexible. Like a bubble.

Like Mosumato’s bubble. And he was being carried away from Horu and the women. With the bastard taking him away, Nemaro couldn’t even tell Horu where to find Meeta and Sha!

“Let me out, you bastard!” He hit out wildly and it punched through the membrane. Icy liquid poured in, streaming over Nemaro’s stomach. Blindly, Nemaro reached up for the leak and shoved his hands against it until he could actually feel the small tear sealing up under his hands. He was left with a small puddle of water under his ass.

Nemaro swallowed, seeing very, very clearly what would happen to him if the air around him suddenly filled with water. His next words were a whisper. “Fucking bastard. Let me out.” The rush of the water drowned out the soft sound of his voice.

The dark was endless. His palms were raw from trying to catch himself on the edge of the drain, and the rest of his body was starting to sting from the scratches and scrapes he’d earned on the way down. He hurt. He was fucking scared, he had no way of saving his friends, and he was freezing.

And he wanted Horu.

Nemaro covered his face with his hands, blocking out the lack of light and trying to keep himself from shivering as his naked back rested against the icy bottom of the bubble encasing him. What the hell was Mosumato planning?

And how far away was he taking him?

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