Master was staring at Ethan’s hand on his knee. A small part of him wondered what he was doing, but it wasn’t fear making him want to tremble. Master looked up at him, a strange look in his eye. And then Master smiled.
Something yanked him backward, and then Master was on top of him. He crushed Ethan’s mouth beneath his as he ran his hands over Ethan’s sides. “Who is your master, Ethan?”
“You are, master.” His words came slightly breathless as Master gently raked his teeth over Ethan’s neck.
“I promised I would punish you.” The tips of Master’s fingers tingled his skin where they touched, their caress feather-light. “And so, I shall. You do not…” Master’s lips brushed his ear, tickling lightly. Master kissed his ear before continuing. “Have permission to cum.”
He blinked, uncertain as to what, exactly, that was supposed to mean. Master’s hands continued moving over his body. He tried to caress Master’s body in return, only for Master to grasp his hands and put them back on the ground. “Be still, Ethan.”
“Yes, mas —” He was cut off by another hungry kiss. Master’s fingers undid the knot at his breeches, and Ethan lifted his hips so Master could remove the garment. Master’s mouth began to trail kisses down his chest and belly, as his hands continued moving across Ethan’s body.
Ethan gasped when he felt Master’s mouth on his shaft. The man’s tongue teased him before Master took his mouth away again. He kissed the side of Ethan’s inner thigh, and Ethan felt Master’s teeth nibble lightly before Master’s mouth returned once more to his shaft. The warm wetness closed around him, and he felt Master’s tongue caress, moving lightly as Master took him in deeper. He felt the back of Master’s throat, soft and velvety, and moaned. Master’s fingers didn’t stop. One hand aided Master’s mouth, the other roamed.
His hips rose again as he felt the sensation building and his body started to tremble and then Master… stopped. He took his mouth away, and moved back up Ethan’s body. He kissed the side of Ethan’s neck once more, then returned to the feather light caresses. The tips of his fingers glowed just slightly, and the magic seemed to vibrate against his skin. It felt good. He reached up to pull Master closer, and Master caught his hand and put it back on the ground again. “Master told you to be still, Ethan.”
“Yes, master.” It was harder than it sounded. Master’s hands were making him squirm, the light caresses almost tickling as they elicited sensation from his body. He was panting when Master trailed kisses down, and took him into his mouth once more.
He bit back a moan as Master’s tongue moved over the tip of his shaft, light and playful. Slowly, Master slid his mouth down Ethan’s length. Ethan felt himself rising again and… And then the nature of the punishment flooded into his mind. Master had told him not to cum. And Master was… Ethan whimpered, and felt Master’s laughter. Since the man had him in his mouth at the time, the effect was… He caught the bedroll in his hands, clenching them tightly as he started trying to fight the pleasure Master was skillfully drawing from his body. He felt Master’s teeth against the skin of his inner thigh, a slight hint of pain that seemed to only heighten the intensity of the pleasure.
A moment before he would have lost that fight, Master stopped once more. The man returned to lightly nuzzling his neck as he ran his fingers over Ethan’s belly. As soon as the imminent danger passed, Master returned to… “Please.” Ethan heard his voice saying. He repeated the word as Master’s mouth drew him in again. He was writhing in earnest now, pushing his body toward Master’s touch, and then Master stopped again, the light touches teasing and… “Please. Please, please…” He whimpered the word, over and over. His whole body was aching with desire, with denied release and the man would neither stop nor take him over and he wasn’t sure if he was begging for mercy or more.
“Please, master. Please.”
“Tell me what you want.”
“I want you, master. Please, master. Please. Let me. Please.”
“You have permission, Ethan.” Master’s mouth encircled him again, this time more forcefully.
He gasped, gripping at the bedroll, his back arching and twisting and then… He cried out, his body rocking as he came. Then he collapsed backward, panting and twitching. Master moved, laying next to him. It took him a lifetime to find his breath again.
Master kissed his shoulder. “Go to sleep, Ethan.”
Ethan started to curl up next to him, to obey the command. His body was still tingling. He managed to raise his head, to look at Master. “What about you, Master?”
A small laugh came from the other man as Master wrapped his arms around him. “Don’t get greedy, Ethan. Or I may have to punish you again.”
Right now, he was fairly confident another such punishment would kill him.
He woke, and for once noted that Ethan was still asleep, snuggled against his side. Samet had left a few light marks on the prince’s pale skin. He smiled, then lightly brushed Ethan’s hair back behind his ear. Ethan stirred slightly at the touch, and Samet put two fingers beneath his chin. He lifted Ethan’s head, and kissed him. “Come, we have a long way yet to go.”
“Yes, master.” Ethan smiled.
They were halfway to the next waystone when another attack came. “Silver.” Samet called over his shoulder as he formed a ward. The first werewolf was caught, frozen in mid leap. “Now.”
Ethan moved, slashing at the next werewolf with a silver dagger. Blood sprayed across the path. He remained at Samet’s back, ensuring nothing got anywhere near Samet as Samet flung flames. Two more wolves died, and the rest moved back, staying some distance from the path. “Master?”
“Stay on the path, Ethan. They are not stupid.” Samet stood, fire in both hands. The wolves paced, watching them before eventually fading back into the trees. He let the fire die. “Keep your eyes open. If they see an opportunity, they will take it.” Samet began walking again.
“Why must we stay on the path, master?”
“If we leave it, we will not be able to find the waystones and the sanctuary they offer.” Samet glanced back at Ethan. “And one of us would thus have to spend the entire night on watch. The path is also the only way one can be certain of their footing here, and if we leave it we will not find it again.”
“How many times have you come here before, master?”
“Not many. There are…” Samet sighed. “There are dangers here beyond the obvious. The Covenant mages would say you risk your soul venturing into the beyond, and they are not entirely wrong. Fey are compelled by their natures to speak only truth, but that does not make them unable to deceive. A half-truth can be more dangerous than a full lie. They must keep their bargains, but how a bargain is interpreted is up to them. They will twist and bend the meaning of words until there is little difference between truth and lie. And yet you are equally compelled if you bargain with them. Fail to hold your end, and your soul is forfeit.”
“What did you mean when you said names have power, master?”
“Beings to magic born have truenames. Call a thing by its name, and it will answer. A truename is a binding, a compulsion. A writ upon the very soul itself. Covenant mages give up their birth names and have another chosen for them because they think such an act protects them from such a risk, yet that is superstition on their parts. Their magic must be awakened and taught, it is not part of their base nature.” He chuckled. “And a name and a truename are not the same thing.”
For a few moments, Ethan simply followed him in silence. Then he frowned. “Does that mean you have a truename, master?”
Samet stopped a moment before he continued walking again. “Yes, Ethan. I do. One who knew my truename could command my heart to stop beating, and it would obey. A thing’s truename, however, is not easily obtained. I am not foolish enough to barter such a thing away.” He shrugged. “A truename must be given. You find my truename written on a slip of paper and call it as often as you like, and it would be naught but a word unless I gave it to you from my own tongue.”
“And do you know the truenames of any beings?”
“Yes. Fey and demons, not creatures I would call to amuse myself. A truename is not spoken lightly. Fey and demons are powerful creatures, and dislike being compelled.” He frowned. “Abuse of truenames is what was ultimately the undoing of the Sorcerer-Kings. Eventually, the creatures they bound found ways to twist from their orders, and betrayed them.”
“The legends say the Covenant is what defeated the Sorcerer-Kings.” Ethan shook his head.
“And who do you think taught the Magi?” Samet let out a low laugh. “Who bound Covenant magic to so many oaths? Fey drive a hard bargain, and power always has a price.”
Ethan hissed as Master carefully removed his trousers. Blood welled from the claw marks that ran down his thigh, deep enough that he could see torn muscle. He had seen the third wolf at the last second, and it had managed to get a swipe in before he had driven the silver dagger into its chest. “Will I turn, Master?”
“Contrary to popular belief, the curse is not passed on by a bite or claw.” Master shook his head. He poured a potion over the wound, and Ethan bit back a cry as bloody froth began to seep from the injury. “It is exactly that, a curse. Most such creatures never were human.” Master handed him another potion. “Drink.” He rose as Ethan obeyed. “Unless you give certain fey both power over you and cause to dislike you, it is not something you ever need fear.”
“I see, master.” He felt the pain starting to fade as the potion did its work. The wound was visibly healing before his eyes. “Thank you, master.”
“You know, you don’t have to end every sentence with the word ‘master’.” Master chuckled. “It’s actually becoming a little annoying.”
“Yes, master. I’m sorry, master. I will work on that, master.” Ethan nodded. “Are you hungry, master? I can make dinner, master. Would you like dinner, master? Or some tea, master?”
Master ran a hand down his face. “You know, until this very moment, I have never actually felt the urge to turn someone into a frog.”
“I…” Ethan frowned. “Can you actually do that?”
“That is good to know.” Ethan smiled. “Master. Did you want the tea, mas —”
He was cut off by Master grabbing him by the back of the neck and pulling him closer. Master’s mouth came down on his, hungry and demanding. Ethan opened his mouth, putting his hand on Master’s back as he returned the kiss. “No, Ethan.” Master smiled. “I do not want tea.”
“Yes, master.” Ethan kissed Master.
“What do you want, Ethan?”
“I…” Ethan hesitated. “I don’t know, master. I…” He took a step back, and Master let him. “I want to please you.”
“Do you imagine that you do not?” Master raised an eyebrow.
“You brought me pleasure, master.”
“And I enjoyed doing so.” Master slowly nodded. “Would you like me to do so again?”
“Yes. I mean no. I mean yes. I mean…” Ethan sighed. “I don’t know.”
“Well, that clarified everything nicely.” Master nodded. He tilted his head, and then nodded to himself. “Sit, Ethan.” He gestured at the bedroll. Ethan obeyed, and then Master sat down across from him. “I have been asking you what you want, and perhaps that is the wrong way to approach this. What do you need, Ethan?”
“I need…” Ethan swallowed. He took a deep breath, then shifted as he considered the question. Then he looked up at Master. “I need to know what it feels like when it’s someone that…” He swallowed again. “Cares about me.”
Samet sat silently, processing Ethan’s words. He had some idea of what his father had done to the prince, and what he’d allowed others to do. Ethan had been a virgin the first time the warlord had raped him. He should have taken that into consideration. The abuse was all he had known. And then he’d… No wonder the boy had offered himself up so readily. “I do care about you, Ethan.” Samet sighed. “Answer a question for me, if you would.”
“Of course, master.”
“Have you always been interested in men?”
Ethan frowned, then shook his head. “No, master.” He gave Samet a curious look. “Have you, master?”
“I have enjoyed the company of both men and women.”
“I…” Ethan shuddered a little. “Did not enjoy her company.”
“He called her Lady Roshni.” Ethan drew in on himself a little. “She used to laugh when…” He looked away.
“When we have completed our mission, freed my father from the dark powers…” Samet took a deep breath. “Some house cleaning may be necessary.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “If it wasn’t for people like her, perhaps my father wouldn’t…” He shook his head. “My mother would never have tolerated Lady Roshni in the court.”
“Your mother?” Ethan looked up.
Samet lay on his side on the bedroll, facing Ethan. “My father has always been a warrior. As he told the tale, he was wounded, his heart torn, and an angel came to him on the battlefield. She healed him, putting his heart back together with her touch, and he begged her to stay with him. So, she took mortal form, and became his bride.” He smiled. “As she told the story, a drunken soldier with an arrow in his ass stumbled into her tent, fell over on her rug, and started snoring. She decided to take pity on the poor bastard.”
“As Graham tells it, the first-time Robert saw Tabitha he tripped and fell into a wall, breaking his nose.” Ethan lay down across from Samet.
“I displayed signs of magic very young. That’s when the rumors began. That my father had made a pact with the dark powers, that his son was hellspawn. My grandfather ordered my father to turn me over to the Covenant, and…” Samet shook his head. “That was the day my father committed both patricide and regicide. It didn’t do much to help the rumors. Despite how he had taken the throne, he ruled Atrios well for a time, with my mother’s guidance. How the conflict with Drili began depends on who you ask, but my father saw fit to end that conflict by simply conquering it. Took him less than a month. Turns out, doing things like that makes the neighbors nervous.” Samet shifted his position a little. “The assassins came for my father, but found me and my mother instead. I was seven years old. They attempted to simply take me, thinking to use me as a hostage against my father, and my mother grabbed a sword to stop them. They killed my mother, and I…” He swallowed. “I proved the suspicion that I was a sorcerer true. I burned my mother’s killers from the inside out, boiling their blood in their veins. From that moment, few could look at me without fear in their eyes. And my father…”
At some point, Ethan had moved closer. He put his arms around Samet, pulling Samet to him gently. Samet put his arms around Ethan, holding the younger man close.
Robert paced. “Then Vadin doesn’t know what has become of them either?” He turned to face Graham.
“According to our spies, their horses made it back but the men themselves have vanished. The sorcerer’s destination was supposed to be some ruins south of the glass canyons.” Graham folded his arms. “Fresh horses were waiting for them, but they never arrived.”
“No.” Robert shook his head. “If someone in the Coalition had killed the sorcerer, we’d know by now. Blood of the gods, the man that brought back the sorcerer’s head could name his price.” He took a deep breath. “And your informants are certain the sorcerer took Ethan with him?”
“Yes.” Graham frowned. “It is not unlikely that this is subterfuge on the part of the sorcerer. Conceal his movements so that the Covenant mages cannot act against him. An informant cannot betray what they do not know.” He let his arms fall to his sides. “Vadin does not seem to be afraid for his son.”
“And we are nowhere near lucky enough for the sorcerer to be out of the picture.” Robert nodded. “Send for Admiral Derrick. If we don’t manage to retake more ports soon, it is going to be a long winter.”
Ethan finished drying the plates and put them back in the pack. Master was frowning at a scroll. “We are lost, aren’t we, master?”
“We are not.” Master shook his head. “We just cannot find where we are going.”
“I believe that qualifies as lost.”
“I know exactly where we are. I am just uncertain where our destination is.” Master put the scroll away. “I am attempting to follow a five-hundred-year-old map drawn from a story told a thousand years ago. Some aimless wandering may be required.”
“I prefer my aimless wandering with fewer things trying to kill us, master.” Ethan finished spreading the bedrolls. “Out of curiosity, is there anything in this realm that isn’t going to try to kill us?”
“Pessimist.” Master smiled.
“What was that thing earlier, master?”
“Which, the giant grub or the lady with the bat wings?”
“The giant grub.”
“I honestly have no idea.” Master shrugged. When Ethan raised his eyebrow, Master rolled his eyes. “The beyond is an infinite realm. I cannot possibly know all its dangers.” He held out a hand to Ethan.
When Ethan took it, Master tugged gently, pulling Ethan into his lap. He nuzzled Ethan’s neck. “At least it caught fire, master.” Ethan smiled, turning to face Master and putting his arms around Master’s neck.
“Most things do.” Master’s teeth raked lightly against his skin, making him squirm just a little. Master made a pleased sound at the motion. He slid his hands under Ethan’s tunic, then lifted it. Ethan raised his arms so Master could strip the garment from him. “Talk to me, Ethan.”
“I want to touch you, master.” He hesitantly moved his hand under Master’s tunic, but refrained from putting it against Master’s skin.
“You have permission to do so.” Master smiled as he began caressing Ethan’s back.
He moved hesitantly at first, feeling Master’s skin beneath his fingers. Master was warm to the touch, his skin soft and smooth. He moved his caresses up, running his hands along Master’s chest. Ethan shifted forward, then pulled Master’s tunic up, yanking the garment away. It caught on Master’s ear, making Master hiss slightly, and Ethan frowned. “I’m sorry, master.”
“It’s alright.” Master nodded. “I have another.”
Ethan ran a finger over the edge of Master’s ear, then trailed his fingertips down Master’s throat. Then he leaned forward, kissing Master’s neck and brushing his tongue over the skin. He felt Master shiver a little from the motion, so he did it again. The response was the same. He laughed. “You’re ticklish.”
“Am not.” Master shook his head.
Immediately Ethan switched from a caress to a light brush of his fingertips up Master’s sides. Master immediately squirmed and grabbed Ethan’s wrists. Ethan smiled. “You’re ticklish, master.”
“Perhaps a little.” Master gave him a playful glare. “And now you’ve abused the touching privilege.” He made a tsking sound. “It is almost as though you are asking me to tie you up.”
“And if I am, master?” Ethan tilted his head at Master. The bonds had always been intended to cause suffering and humiliation before. He wasn’t certain what it would be like, having Master be the one tying him. And it suddenly occurred to him he wanted to find out.
“Not tonight, Ethan. We don’t have the right kind of rope, and magical bonds would require expenditure of concentration and energy that I would rather spend on…” Master’s smile was slightly evil. “Other matters.” He shifted slightly, then met Ethan’s eyes. “On one condition.”
“If you dislike what I am doing, you will tell me to stop.”
Ethan frowned. “But I want to please you, master.”
“Harming you would displease me, Ethan. If you dislike what I am doing, you will tell me to stop. Do you promise?”
“Yes.” Ethan nodded. “Master.”
He was a little relieved when Ethan agreed. Having him in his lap like this was incredibly distracting. Samet finished unlacing Ethan’s trousers, and smiled slightly as Ethan’s fingers began doing the same to Samet’s own laces. He let Ethan rise enough to remove the pants before pulling the now naked man back onto his lap. He pulled him in close, kissing the side of his neck as he began moving his hands over Ethan’s body.
Ethan’s own hands were roaming, and he pressed kisses as though trying out the various tastes of Samet’s body. Samet drew a small vial he’d retrieved earlier, and applied some of it’s contents to a finger. With his other hand, he pulled Ethan closer again, nipping lightly at his shoulder as he gently slipped the finger inside Ethan’s tight passage. Ethan made a small sound, but his hands continued their exploration of Samet’s body. He moved his finger, slowly and gently, before withdrawing it. Then he reapplied the oil and pulled Ethan in again, inserting his tongue into Ethan’s mouth. With his free hand, he began moving over Ethan’s shaft before inserting his fingers. Ethan’s response that time was a soft moan and a slight arching of his back. Again, he moved his fingers, slowly and gently, this time savoring the small gasps Ethan made. “Are you alright, Ethan?”
“Oh…” Ethan moaned, then just nodded and smiled, his eyes just slightly dazed.
Samet returned the smile before withdrawing his fingers. He moved his hands to Ethan’s hips, positioning him. Then he began to move, sliding himself into Ethan with painstaking slowness. Ethan’s hands tightened on him, trying to pull him closer, pull him in, but Samet kept up his slow pace. He shifted one hand to Ethan’s erection, caressing it gently. Ethan squirmed in response, sending a shiver of pleasure through Samet. He shifted again, this time letting Ethan guide the pace of his movements as he continued using his hand to pleasure Ethan’s body.
He held out as long as he could, bringing Ethan to orgasm before releasing his own. Samet fell back slightly, and then Ethan pulled him close again. “Are you alright, master?”
“Yes, Ethan.” He kissed him. “Very much so.”
He lay in Samet’s arms, listening to him breath. “Are you asleep?”
“Yes.” Master replied without opening his eyes.
Ethan smiled. “It is different.”
“Mmmm?” Master did open his eyes that time, looking up at him sleepily. Ethan realized they weren’t at all the same as the old master’s eyes after all, even if the green was a similar shade.
“When it’s someone who cares.” Ethan rested his head on Samet’s shoulder. Master… Samet… made it feel good. “Thank you, master.”
Samet pulled him in tighter. “Go to sleep, Ethan.” He smiled. “You are safe here.”