30 - King's Pet

I can't say Faun is happy to see me right now, but at least I can be sure that most of his glower is reserved for the Peacock King.  I gulp.  This might be the most antagonistic I've ever seen the animism look.   What's worse is that Faun turns his face up to me and shares that glare with me.  I shrink back.

The King's hand behind my waist keeps me from getting far.  He presses me forward.  "Go," he says, his voice clear but quiet in the room.  "Speak to him."  That strange air of absurdity and liveliness has left Ebrellin-i now that we're not in the labs.  Now he's as cold and composed as before.  It's weird.  He seemed almost deranged in there, but it somehow felt like it was closer to his personality than this chilled aloofness.

I step forward, my hand subconsciously drawn up to perch on the coil of my whip.  My fingers curl around the braided leather.  I look him over.  Maybe a little paler.  Just a little gaunt.  Most definitely meaner.  Chained too far away from the bars for me to worry about that little measure, though.

My thumb strokes the leather of the whip.  The role comes to the fore without me even needing to call it up. "Faun-doe.  Such a pleasure seeing you, after a long absence from the cage.  How fares you on such an evening?  Well, I hope."  The animism's shoulders jerk with my use of the pet-name, but it has no effect on him.  Of course, only the Peacock King would be able to truly use it to its purpose of binding and control.  The rest brings little reaction.  He cocks his head.

"What do you care of it, little boy-slut, King's toy?"  The corners of his mouth perk up as my face goes granite.  I see fangs peek out from behind his upper lip.  "Why are you outside of the pen?  Come, prove yourself to him, earn a few precious more inches of his bed."  His hair raises up on his scalp as the taunts.  He's puffing up like a cat.

The King's hand pushes behind my back, urging me forward.  I step towards the cage just as he sweeps his hand, unlocking the door.  It clangs shut behind me as I walk in, whip uncoiling and kissing the floor underneath my feet before the tip of it snaps right above Faun's head.

The animism doesn't even blink.  His fingers do clutch at the floor, his nails extending to his claws.  I hear a 'shhh' behind me from the Peacock King, and then the animism lurches.

The King waggles his finger.  "Bad little toy.  Be nice to your master.  Pay him your respects just as you would me, Faun-doe."

Faun lurches, stopping his fall right before his chin hits the floor.  He glares up at me and spits.  I answer with another whip-pop.

"You simply must expend your vocabulary, J'Lotus.  He won't listen to reason.  You must show it to him."  The Peacock King claps his hands twice.  "Teach him his role, Trainer."

I execute a complex bow, the whip arcing over my head and then under in a sweeping circle.  It pops in front of me at the end of its arc, almost connecting with Faun.  There's some tiny part of myself in the back of my head that's shaking in terror from the damage that accidentally striking him could do.  It's a very quiet part of me, though.  I don't even need to shush it.  It knows better than to peep up right now.

Instead I sweep my arm in front of me, the whip whistling over Faun's head.  "Come, fox-one," I grin, "rise and join me in the dance."

"Burn and curl into your pyre-grave," he hisses back, "and leave be the quiet ones who would watch over the ground you'll rest in!"

I reach forward, hand cupping the underside of his jaw, fingers digging in.  He blinks, and deep in those eyes I see a flicker of confusion.  He didn't see that one coming.  I was too fast.  Which means this place must be getting to him more than he realized.  Worry ghosts over his face, and then the expression freezes.  I almost give us away, then.  I almost show my own confusion.

Instinct tells me to go along with him, though, even though I'm risking getting my own throat torn out here.  "Saving your servitude until your masters pass is such a waste, Faun-doe."  He doesn't actually give under my grip, but his arms go slack just a tad.  Good.  I know I really didn't do that, but good all the same.  "Give your will to the Kings of the Living World, like all good creatures must do."

I blink.  There's a hand sliding over my own.  Faun's fingers ghost over my knuckles.  I feel the oddest sensation in his throat, and realize he's purring.  From a creature that looks like a grown man, it's extremely creepy, especially with how his eyes are hooded right now.

'Just think, little one.'  I hear Faun's voice between my ears, and see just the tiniest ghost of a fox-grin on his lips.  'He might eat this up so much that you'll do double-time in his bed.'  He feels my suppressed revulsion at that.  'Aww, does he hurt you?  Frighten you?  Don't deny that it still excites you.'  The pang of hurt that causes makes him study me a little closer.  'How have you been surviving?  You should visit me.  I could teach you tricks to turn the dead in their graves, and his bed into one.  At the very least, an escape...'  He thinks over my own mental objections to that.  'Come to me by your pen, or in your sleep, or both.  You need to get away from him.  I'm beginning to see his mark on you, and fear it mirroring itself in me.  Now, why not end this in a success?  I do so love pretending.'

I nod, then back away, sweeping my whip in front of me.  It whispers across the floor, stopping in an arc in front of the animism.  He looks down at it like a cat stalking a toy on a string.  He then looks up at me, almost asking aloud what I intend for him to do with that.

"Kiss it," I say.

His eyebrow raises.

"Kiss it, and maybe this will be over."  I don't let it show, but this is making me nervous.  I have no idea if Faun feels like doing this.  Certainly he's pretended quite a bit already.  It's in his best interests, after all.

"Fine, master," he says in a chirrupy voice that might be all sarcasm and no truth at all.  He leans down, grinning, eyes up at me, and barely nudges the thing with his nose.  "That should be sufficient, yes?"

I narrow my eyes.  "A mere kiss?  Surely you can manage that."

"Surely I cannot, for I am a dumb animal, unteachable and untrainable."

"Then kiss it the way a vixen kisses her cubs."  My grip tightens on the whip, my knuckles standing out white against my skin.  Faun observes this.  I'm not sure if it's what prompts his next action.

"Oh.  A kiss.  Such a simple thing."  He leans down and licks the whip, then nuzzles it, yellow eyes smiling up at me the whole time.  The hairs raise up on the back of my neck as I realize he is pantomiming an entirely different sort of kissing.

I gulp.  "Thank-you-that-is-sufficient."  My voice is tighter than usual.  A little choked.  I can't control it - he's doing things to that whip with his mouth that I've seen harems practice on cucumbers.

His chuckle climbs up through the room.  "But I'm having fuuuuuuun..." His words roll into a low, easy purr.  The action is cut off as I jerk the whip away, then pop it above his head.  He jerks back at the motion, one he didn't expect in the middle of his ministrations.  He's still grinning despite it, damn him.

"Easy, now."  The Peacock King's voice brings me back into the present.  "Come out now.  Your performance was sufficient."

Even though I didn't want to perform that dance well for him, I glower at the lack of praise in his voice.  Faun watches me leave.  I remember his request as I exit.  You should visit me.

I should.  He's the only one that would understand what I've experienced by the Peacock King's hand.  He's the only one who can tell me how to escape that hand's reach.

That hand settles behind my waist again, as we depart.  Once we're past the point that Faun can hear us, he pats my back.  "Better than you think, and quite noteworthy.  I only think you could do better, if taught more.  And I do so love helping you reach your potential, J'Lotus."  There's a growl in his voice I don't like. A...another purr.  "I enjoyed watching your show.  When did you teach him to do that, J'Lotus?  Your private training with him?"  That question asks so much of me.  Too much.  I let it go unanswered, and let him draw his own conclusions.  I'm worrying too much, now.  I suspect the next turn we take will bring me to his bedroom once again.

The passage reveals itself step by step, turn by slow turn.  My brow creases in confusion as everything around me begins to blur.  I recognize this place, yes.  It's the King's suites.  Why is everything so foggy, though?  Why are my senses getting so dull?

The King's hand raises, pressing against the back of my neck now.  His fingers get their grip around my neck slowly, easing me into the sensation.  "Shhh, J-lui-tiss.  Just let your senses sleep."

Even though he says that, or especially because he says that, my nerves rise up enough to make me swallow.  It's enough to focus my swiftly fading attention back on my neck, and the odd tightness around it.

"Sleep, my darling," he says, and as he snaps his fingers, I do.

At least...I seem to.  It's like when he tried to spell me into sleep when he curled around me in his bed.  It feels like sleep, but I'm awake through it, and I'm very sure that he doesn't know that.  He treats me like someone who can't hear and see him, who won't remember this in the morning.

I remember all of this.

He presses against me with a growl, pushing my body up against the wall and kissing up under my jaw, under the thin leather band around my neck.  His hands wander inside of my robes.  He's so frustrated.  Faun's show must have affected him quite a bit, because he pulls my sleep-walking body into the bed after scraping his teeth against my neck a few times.

There's not much more than the acts of a very greedy person once he's got my body sprawled on the sheets.  I don't recall it as a pleasant experience, but it's like something I watched more than participated in.  I'm so detached that in a way it almost didn't happen to me at all.  Almost.

His hands find my neck after the act, palms pressing up against the skin, fingers stroking the leather band.  I hear his nails rake over the collar.  I hear him speak strange words, and then there's heat around my neck, and commands that I hear and I don't think I'll obey.  I hope I'm correct.  I hear him give me the pet-name properly, then.  J-lui-tiss.  It makes me think of my Uncle, and that thought sends a shiver down my spine.

I should, by all accounts, be doomed now.  I've seen slaves that were collared pets.  I've spoken with them, even taught them to put on their makeup right, to walk pretty and bow low.  They have no choice but to obey their masters.  The collar is the physical proof of the bind, but the name itself is the seal.  To re-name a person is to bend them, warp them, re-make them.  In the case of pet-names, the person becomes the possession of the namer.  Usually this takes elaborate ceremonies and great trickery, but for the Peacock King, an expert in puppetry, it is of course a much simpler task.

He's made some mistake, though.  I can feel it.  My body will follow his commands for now, under the spell of sleeping, but if I fought it, I wonder if that would be the case.  That would be foolish, though.  Better to let him think I'm his.  Better to play his game without him knowing I'm playing.  He looks so pleased with himself, now.  Just like he was so pleased when he revealed the identity of Gerald's 'wife'.  I'd like him to stay pleased, just like that.  All haughty and puffed-up and blissfully ignorant of the truth.  While he's like that...

...While he's like that, he won't notice what's under my mask, or under Faun's and Gerald's.  Under the masks of all of us, including the Armed that Jhe Camden leads.

If it takes convincing him that I'm his happy little puppet to achieve that, then we're in luck - it will be so simple that I could do it while asleep.  In fact, I already am.

He releases my body sometime after his additional commands and reinforcements, and no small amount of gloating.  I sleep in his bed.  Thankfully, sleep does come this time, with no visions of him playing his own role as a servant again.

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