The nude boy lying on the bed was normally very attractive, but right now he was not a pretty sight. He had an enormous black eye, the eye swollen almost shut, a large bruise on his left cheek and his nose was bloody as was a split lip. Ninety percent of his body was covered with raw weals from a whip, some of them seeping blood. His name was Terrion and he was barely conscious from the terrible beating he had just received from his father.
He heard, but was barely aware of, the conversation taking place above him. “My Lord, someday you are going to go too far and I will be unable to Heal him. What will you do then?”
The boy flinched as he heard his father's cruel arrogant voice, “Well then he will just disappear like other children of noble families have done. I will be very distraught that my son has been kidnapped. No-one in this household will dare say different.”
faded and a welcome blackness overtook Terrion at this point.
It was several days later and Terrion was wandering through Camara's streets. The bruises were gone but not forgotten and every second he spent at home brought him closer to more. He spent as much time away from home as possible. Yet he dared not stay away for too long, for if he was not within reach when his father was in the mood to play, then the beating would be even worse.
With his curly blond hair, small upturned nose and enormous brown eyes Terrion caught the eye of many who saw him. But there were no smiles in return. His face remained solemn and always watchful. When somebody talked to him, he just turned away, for he couldn't answer them. Terrion was mute.
He took a look at the sun and with dread he knew it was time to head for home. He knew this area very well; he had spent much time wandering through it. He took a narrow, seldom traveled alleyway that would lead out onto the street on which he lived.
Ahead of him, Terrion saw two men seemingly just standing and having a conversation. But he could see they were regarding him intently, much too intently. His heart began to thump in his small chest and he paused, hesitating. Perhaps they intended to rob him. Noble children often had money to spend in their belt pouches. However, Terrion, never received money from his father, his belt pouch was empty. Unlike most noble children, he was never allowed to carry a dagger or belt knife.
They would be very angry, perhaps angry enough to kill. Terrion thought seriously about that. There was no fear. His heart was no longer thumping but was beating evenly. His eyes lit up and his nostrils flared, not in fear but excitement. Even death would be better than to be beaten senseless three or four times a month. It would deprive his father of great pleasure. That thought pleased him and provided him with a great deal of satisfaction.
Terrion started walking towards the men. They were obviously surprised. They assumed he would run. That was why there was a man following the boy. Terrion was not aware of the soft-footed one behind him. The first awareness that Terrion had was when the man grabbed him around the waist and a cloth pressed over his mouth and nose. The man was ready for a violent struggle but there was none. The boy went quietly into darkness.
Terrion woke slowly from the drugged sleep. He could hear several boyish voices around him and opened his eyes. He was somewhat surprised to still be alive. He pushed himself to his elbows and looked around. He was in a cell, one of three. In his cell there were four other boys, ranging in age from about a year younger to a year or so older. Only one of the other boys was crested, that is tattooed with the crest of his family on the right arm just below the shoulder, indicative of nobility.
In the other cells, he could see half a dozen other youngsters. All of them were boys. None of them were over eleven and the youngest was perhaps six. All of the children in the three cells, including Terrion, were naked. Three of the boys in the cell with Terrion ignored him but the other crested boy came over and knelt beside him.
The boy had just turned nine so was only six months older than Terrion and he was a cute redhead with bright green eyes. He inquired, “Hi, my name is Jaran Volsen. What's your name? I don't recognize your crest.”
Terrion touched his mouth and then shook his head.
Jaran focused his eyes on Terrion. He asked, “You can't talk?” and Terrion nodded. “I'm sorry,” the boy said with sympathy. Terrion just shrugged. He looked at the other boys who were ignoring them and then raised an eyebrow at Jaran.
Jaran gave a giggle, waving his hand at them, telling him, “Oh, don't worry about them, they don't like nobles very much and since we're all going to be sold as slaves anyway, they think that we're all the same.”
Terrion thought wryly, *Well if their family is anything like my father I certainly can't blame them for that.*
“Hey,” said Jaran excitedly. “Do that again!”
Surprised Terrion looks at him, *Do what!*
“That,” Jaran exclaimed with glee. “I heard you, you must be a Mind-Speaker like me.”
*What's a Mind-Speaker?* wondered Terrion.
Jaran said in an instructing tone of voice, “That's an ability that some Magic Users have to speak mind to mind without having to talk. Some Mind-Speakers can speak with anyone, but I'm only strong enough to do it with another Mind-Speaker. I have to talk at the same time as well to make my thoughts clear enough to be heard.”
The two naked boys were now sitting cross-legged knees touching knees. Terrion said to Jaran, *Oh, well I guess I can introduce myself then. I'm Terrion Wymark. My father holds County Wymark in the south.*
Jaran reached out and touched a lock of Terrion's blond hair hanging down on his forehead. He grinned and said, “I figured you were from the south. You don't see that color of hair in the north. As I said, my name's Jaran Volsen and my father is Baron Volsen, I'm from the northwest.” He took a lock of his own hair hanging down in bangs on his forehead in his right hand and looked at it cross-eyed. “Redheads are pretty common up there.”
Jaran asked with interest, “How did they get you? I was with some friends and I got separated from them. Somebody grabbed me from behind and covered my mouth and nose with a cloth. I fought like crazy but I didn't have a chance. I ended up waking up here three days ago.”
Terrion told him, *I was heading home and I went through an alley. I saw a couple of men. I figured they planned to rob me. I hoped when they found out I had nothing of value that they would be angry enough to kill me.* Looking around the room, he continued, *I didn't know that they planned to steal me.*
Terrion looked at Jaran his brown eyes holding the other boy's green eyes intently. He told him, *I'm sorry for you and for them,* he waved his head around at the other youngster's, *but for me I'm glad.*
“You want to be slave?” Jaran squeaked.
*I don't think it can be as bad as living with my father.* the quiet intensity in which Terrion Mind-Spoke, held Jaran's complete attention, *My mother got sick a few months after I was born. She went back to her father's castle and took me with her. She died just after I was two years old.*
Terrion shook his head remembering his early life and told Jaran, *My father didn't bother to come and get me. He just left me there with my mother's family. They were all right, but they never really paid much attention to me. When I was five and a half, he came to get me and took me to Camara with him. My father loves to hurt people. He's an Empath, but he's twisted. He loves to cause pain. He didn't show that side of himself to me for several months. But when I found it impossible to learn how to read and write he seemed to change..*
Terrion shuddered in remembrance. He said grimly, *For my sixth birthday, he gave me what he called a special present. He whipped me and he counted them as he lashed me. He didn't stop till he had counted to one hundred.*
There were tears of sorrow in the corners of his large eyes threatening to fall, as he said with sorrow, *He said he would be easy on me that day, but still, my back and bum were covered in weals. None that day drew blood. That day...* Terrion thought bitterly. *He has a pet Healer who does whatever he wants. He had him waiting until he was finished and had him Heal me. Of course it took more than one day, but within three days all signs of the beating was gone.*
Terrion's hands clenched tight as he continued, *My father seemed in good humor for the next two weeks, but of course I felt afraid about being in his presence. At the end of the two weeks, he beat me again. This time he didn't start with the whip. I was on the floor playing with some toys and he was passing. He stopped and then just kicked me in the groin. The pain was incredible. He kicked me half a dozen times in the ribs and legs.*
Terrion, though of course he was not talking out loud, took a gulp of air, before saying, *And then he said he would really let me know what it was like this time and began to use the whip on me again. He began counting as he had the first time. I don't know how many strokes he gave me that time. The last number I remember was over two hundred and he didn't limit himself to my back.*
*When I awoke his pet Healer was working on me and there were weals all over my body, front and back and quite a few of them were seeping blood.*
The tears were flowing down his cheeks freely now as Terrion told Jaran, *After that, the beatings came every week or ten days. The minimum was one hundred lashes; I don't know what the maximum was. I always passed out before he reached that amount.*
Jaran was appalled, anger showing on his small face. He said heatedly, “But that's not right and it's illegal!! I know as children, we don't have many rights, but that type of brutality is forbidden! He should have been up before the King for that!” Slapping his bare thigh in emphasis.
Terrion shrugged, saying with equal intensity, *Who was going to tell the King? His pet Healer? He told me once that he was glad my father whipped me so often. That the practice was building up his power very nicely and his business was thriving as a result. The servants? I got little sympathy from them and besides they were terrified of him and wouldn't have dared to inform anyone.*
Terrion used his index finger to tap his chest. He asked, *Me? I wasn’t aware that it was wrong. I thought all parents had the right to beat their children as brutally as they wished. Also, even if I had known, I’m mute. I couldn’t have told anyone.*
Terrion said glumly, *And as I said, I've never been able to learn how to read and write. The letters simply don't make any sense to me. I didn't know about Mind-Speech until right now. So what could I do? But I was like the servants, I probably wouldn't have dared anyway.*
“But as slaves we won't have any rights at all!!” Jaran protested.
Terrion shrugged philosophically, saying, *Perhaps it will be worse, but perhaps it will be better. Since we can't do anything about it, we'll have to wait and see. What would we do as slaves? We're too little to do much work.*
Jaran stuffed his hand in his mouth and giggled, saying with amusement, “They're only kidnapping pretty boys. They intend our work to be done in a man's bed.”
Seeing Terrion puzzled look, Jaran asked, “You don't know much about sex do you?”
*Much,* thinks Terrion, throwing up his hands, *I don't know anything about sex.* Suddenly there was the sound of a gong.
said Jaran. “That's the sound of the dinner gong. The sex will have
to wait, once they bang that gong, you've only got a few minutes to
get your food or you miss out."
Jaran explain, “Well you serve in a man's bed by taking his penis up your bum or in your mouth. If it's your bum, it's called fucking. Depending on who you ask, it's either terribly painful, painful yet feels good at the same time or just feels good.” Something was going on so Jaran was explaining some of what he knew. “I heard one of the men say that those who are crested would be sent all the way to the Divandia, Madron capital, but most of the others would probably be sold to boy brothels on the way.”
Jaran gave a grin, before saying, “And before you ask, a brothel is where a man goes and pays prostitutes money for sex. At an ordinary brothel it's with a woman and obviously, at a boy brothel, a man pays to have sex with a boy prostitute.”
*How do you know so much about brothels?* asked Terrion with amazement.
Jaran looked serious, as he said soberly, “Madron isn't the only place they have them you know. Only in Camron, the prostitutes are usually indentured servants. I have a friend at home, whose father was a merchant. When he was nine his father had to sell his services as an indentured servant. The boy brothels offered the most money if he would sell his son's services for a two year period. It was enough to clear his debt and with some to start over, so that's the offer my friend's father took.
Jaran paused for a moment before saying solemnly, “My friend told me that it really hurt the first few times he got fucked, but after that, even though it hurt at the start when the man put his penis in his bum, it really felt good. He told me that for the boys who really didn't want to be there it always seemed to hurt, no matter how long they were at the brothel. He said those who were willing to experiment, like him, usually got to like it a lot. And some boys became prostitutes because they really liked men.” He gave a big yawn, then a second shaking his head sleepily.
A quick-witted boy, Jaran realized what was happening to him. He grasped Terrion's shoulder and told him, “We've all been drugged. They put it in our food. They must have been waiting for you or at least, a second crested boy, but now they're ready to send us on. If I don't see you again, I'm glad I met you.” Jaran grinned.
Being part of a slave auction was boring as far as Terrion could tell. They kept Terrion and four other crested boys in a cell at the back of the slave market itself. Normally slaves were housed elsewhere and brought to the market each morning until sold. He had woken up in the cell four days ago. The other boys had already been there, though only for a couple of days.
In the last four days only ten men had come into this special area to look at the crested boys. While the intimate examinations had been embarrassing they had also been very exciting to Terrion and he had gotten hard every time. Also they were a break in the interminable boredom. The other boys were able to converse among themselves and they had already had a couple of days to become acquainted.
When they learned that Terrion was mute, they had come to pretty well ignore him. Unlike Jaran none of them were Mind-Speakers.
The door to the little room opened on the little room containing their cell and Terrion looked eagerly as it opened the slavemaster's assistant who had charge of them ushering in an elegantly dressed man in his late thirties. He told the man, “This is where the special items are kept, Duke Rendar.”
The man stopped in the door and looked at the cell and Terrion felt a shudder in his mind, *Gods, crested Camron boys!! This is trouble, a great deal of trouble!!*
Terrion backed up when he heard that, realizing this was another Mind-Speaker and one apparently concerned by their very presence in his country. Keeping in mind the title that had been used, Terrion directed his thoughts at him, *My Lord Duke.*
The man entered further into the room. Duke Rendar directed at the cell, *Who Mind-Spoke?*
*I'm the blond one, my Lord.* Terrion told him.
“Open the cell and let me see them,” ordered the Duke.
The slave master's assistant eagerly complied and the Duke entered the cell. With the assistant Slavemaster watching, his inspections were as intimate and embarrassing as any of the previous men had lavished on the boys, their faces flushed with humiliation.
When he reached Terrion, the Duke directed Mind-Speech at him, *I am sorry little one, I know my inspections embarrassed the other boys, but to show genuine interest in you this inspection must be even more intimate still.*
*Actually, My Lord, I think I'm going to enjoy it.* Terrion thought blithely and indeed he delighted at the warm hands caressing his bare body, moving down to feel his genitals, his little penis rock hard. The tips of his ears turned a bright red when the man parted his buttocks and examined his anus closely.
Finally, he put his arms around Terrion's shoulders and asked, “How much for this one?”
The man smiled brightly and said cheerfully, “Ah this one will cost you My Lord. He is mute and unusual in a scion of the nobility he cannot read or write, so he can betray no secrets to your enemies. Two thousand golds, my Lord.” The assistant Slavemaster told the Duke.
They began to bargain and they finally settled on sixteen hundred golds. The Duke said, “I assume this was such a private sale that he will be delivered later?”
The man nodded saying, “Tonight my Lord, after dark. He will be wearing one of the special slave collars that are also Artefacts of Compulsion. While wearing the collar, only a Mage who knows that the boy is crested will be able to see the tattoo. To show the crest to anyone else you will have to remove the collar.”
the Duke took his arm from Terrion's shoulders and left the cell and
the room, leaving a reassuring thought behind him, *Tonight, little
Just after dark, as promised, there was a knock on the door of the Duke's residence. It was opened by the housekeeper, a woman in her mid-forties, a cousin of the Duke’s. The Slavemaster's assistant was on the doorstep with Terrion, who now had a gold slave collar around his neck and was wearing a bracelet attached to which was a light chain that the assistant was holding. The boy was wearing a pair of sandals, otherwise he was still completely naked and, again, rock hard. She showed no curiosity, as if a nude boy with an erection was an everyday event.
She told them, “Follow me, Duke Rendar is expecting you.”
After a short walk, they came to the Duke's study. She knocked on the door and ushered the two in. She started to leave and he asked, “Karrin, could you please stay.”
Obediently she waited standing beside the door as Rendar counted out sixteen electrum coins and handed them to the assistant Slavemaster and took the bill of sale in return. Once he had unlocked the bracelet from around Terrion's wrist, the assistant handed Rendar the key to the slave collar.
The Duke asked politely, “Karrin please show our guest to the door and then return.”
When the door closed, the boy leapt into Rendar's arms. When Karrin returned, he was sitting in back of the desk with the boy on his lap.
Karrin scolded, “Duke Rendar, spending sixteen hundred gold for a slave, when you normally only pay twenty golds a year for a boy to share your bed.”
The man grinned and said, “Sweet Karrin, I didn't spend sixteen hundred golds for his body.” stroking the small boy's bare back and bottom. “Though it's a beautiful little body and so far I haven't seen him when he hasn't been hard.” Both Karrin and Terrion blushed at the last statement and the boy's body shook in a soundless giggle.
Rendar lifted up Terrion's chin and stared into his large brown eyes, for a moment before looking at the woman, telling her, “Terrion Wymark is his name and he's mute, but I assure you he’s not dumb. I purchased him not for my personal pleasure but for what he is.”
Taking the key to the collar he said, “Terry raise your chin.” obediently the boy did so and Duke Rendar unlocked the collar and opened it. He stood the boy up between his legs and turned him until she could see the tattooed crest on his right arm that was now visible. She gasped!! The Duke said with anger in his voice, “This shows that there is a danger to our country, because there were four other crested boys at the slave market today when I went!!”
*I saw another noble boy on my way here, his Lord,* Terrion told him, *and there were eight other boys from lower classes.*
The man nodded in understanding, telling the woman, “Terrion is a Mind-Speaker, like me and he just told me that he saw one other crested boy and eight lower class children on his journey. The Prince must know about this at once. I think I had better take Terrion as well.” His eyes twinkled at her. “Could you fetch a little of that stuff Darain makes for my drinks.”
Karrin's eyes twinkled back, saying with amusement, “Now that's what I call cruel, my Lord. Why not just put a pair of short trousers on him.” Terrion looked at the two of them suspiciously.
Rendar shook his head and stated flatly, “I want the Prince to see him just as he is, with the slave collar and naked like a normal slave boy. It'll help drive home a point I've been trying to drum home for the last few years. That someone is trying to create trouble between Camron and us. If I have to, I'll take him hard, but if we can do anything about it I'd rather do so.”
Karrin turned and left the room and Rendar turned the boy to face him. “Do you mind, even if I have to take you hard?”
Terrion shook his head, telling him, *It feels good to be looked at in a nice way, by nice people. I don't mind.*
Duke Rendar said with amusement, “Well I have an idea that may deal with the hard part at any rate,” and he gave Terrion's small hard penis a little flick. “It might be a little uncomfortable but it won't hurt.” Karrin returned in a few minutes carrying a washcloth and towel and a small bowl filled with grainy white material. Most Lytheans had never seen ice or snow and to Terrion it just looked like salt.
Rendar took a handful in his hand and applied it to the boy's genitals. At the touch of the freezing cold snow, Terrion almost jumped out of his skin, but it certainly did the job, in a few seconds his hard penis shriveled up and was completely soft.
The man took the towel from the grinning woman and ran it over the boy's groin to remove any loose flakes and to dry him. Karrin took some of the snow and wrapped it in the washcloth. Holding it up she said, “Just in case he gets hard again on the way.”
Terrion looked at it and shuddered, scolding the man in his silent voice, *Just the thought of it will keep me soft!*
The man chuckled before he said to the woman, “Karrin, there are only a few of the servants that I trust absolutely. There's been too much of a turnover in the lower servants to be sure of their loyalty. I don't want you to mention this to anyone except Kosav, until I have a chance to ask Karliv to check them out. I'll lock the door but I want you to have Kosav guard it just in case.”
“Aye, my lord. I'll do that.” Karrin told him, nodding and turning she left the room and he walked over and, putting a key in the lock, secured it.
Returning to Terrion, Rendar put the slave collar back on the boy but didn't lock it and then he went over to the wall on the right of the desk. It was a full wall bookcase divided into three parts. Curious, Terrion went over to stand behind him, not forgetting his bag of snow.
Reaching behind some of the books, the man tripped a hidden catch and the middle section of the bookshelf opened inward. Taking a piece of fire starter wood from his desk, he lit it from one of the room's lanterns using it to light a smaller bull's-eye lantern. Turning, he offered his hand to Terrion, who took it trustingly.
Rendar said to the little boy, “I haven't used this passage in a couple of years so it's going to be quite dusty and I warn you now that there will probably be rats.”
Terrion told him, *I don't mind rats. They're lots better than my father!!* he commented venomously.
Rendar closed the secret door with his free hand and picked up the lantern. His boots kicked up a lot of dust but in his sandals Terrion padded along, only kicking up a little.
It was a spooky place and the boy didn't need his bag of snow to stay soft. While not exactly afraid, he was a little apprehensive. After a few minutes walk, they came to a second wall. On this side of the wall, it was easy to see the catch. Letting go of Terrion hand, the Duke drew his dagger and banged on the wall, twice, pause, three times, pause twice. The bag of snow had turned to water by now and Terrion threw it to the side of the passage.
After a few seconds, there were four knocks on the wall from the other side. Rendar sheathed his dagger and pulled down the catch to open the door.
It swung open and a man greeted Rendar, “It's always good to see you, cou...” he caught sight of Terrion and he continued more harshly, “But you know, your catamites aren't welcome here!!”
Terrion was hiding behind Rendar and peeking around him.
Rendar said, with a look of amusement on his face, the humor evident in his voice, “I assure you cousin Carlinn that he is not one of my catamites. I pay them well at 20 golds a year, but this one cost way too much to be called a catamite.”
Rendar explained, “The city Slavemaster has been trying to entice me to the slave market for the last five days. He did everything but come to his residence and drag me there. Finally, my curiosity got the better of me and I went. When I got there he said he had some private stock he wanted me to see.”
“I didn't know you had stooped to buying slaves,” Carlinn said sarcastically.
Rendar said quietly, “Ah, but cousin these were very special slaves, in fact I expect for you to pay me for this one.” He gently pulled Terrion from in back of him, where the nude boy had been hiding. Undoing the slave collar he removed it again and turning him, he held up the boy's right arm to show the tattoo to the Prince.
He said with a serious look on his face, “Five crested boys at the slave market, cousin. This one is Terrion Wymark, son of the Count of Wymark and he tells me he saw one other to make six noble children, as well as others from the lower classes. Someone worked very hard to get me there. To ensnare the Royal Family in what was going on, I imagine.”
“Gods!!” the Prince sat down abruptly showing the shock he felt. He jerked out, “If found on our soil that might be enough to start a war right there!!” He looked up at Rendar. “I'll summon Karliv, tell him what has happened. Then we'll have to go discuss it with Father. That may take hours. Since we don't know how long it will take, it would be better if you return home and we will come to you.”
Rendar nodded and then bowed for the first time, saying, “Certainly cousin, we will wait in my study all night if necessary.” Putting the slave collar back on Terrion, this time he locked it. Picking up the lantern and again taking Terrion by the hand, they headed back, the Prince closing his secret door behind them and they made their short journey. After opening the secret door, Rendar blew out the lantern and they re-entered the study.
The man took a book down from his bookshelf and prepared to wait. He watched the boy for a little while, then asked, “The assistant Slavemaster said you couldn't read or write. Is that true?”
*Yes,* sighed Terrion in Mind-Speech. *When I try to read all the letters look funny and it's even worse when I try to write. Do you have any books with pictures in them?*
Rendar coughed a little in embarrassment, speaking in a slightly strangled voice, “Yes, but I am afraid I can't show them to you. If you were really a slave and were going to share my bed with me that would be different.”
Terrion grinned, a twinkle in his large brown eyes, saying, *Oh, naughty books, huh? Well even children like me hear about those, though we seldom get the chance to see them.*
Rendar waved at the several large comfortable armchairs around the room saying, “Why don't you try to take a nap? I have no idea how long it's going to take. It could be close to dawn, or even after, before we hear from the Prince.”
Taking the thought to heart, the small nude boy chose the armchair closest to the desk and curled up in it and was soon fast asleep, happily sucking on his thumb.
It was several hours later when Terrion was awakened by a tapping on the bookshelf wall. It was a different pattern than that used by Rendar earlier and Terrion didn't catch it, but the answer was the same, four knocks. He sat upright in the chair and rose when the Prince entered with a tall dark haired Elf. More composed this time, Terrion bowed the slow formal bow of nobility and received a small formal bow in return.
Rendar greeted his cousin with a little bow and then swept the Elf into a huge hug. “Hello, Karliv, it's good to see you again.”
Karliv said, “Well I'm glad to see you as well, but you don't have to break me in half just to say hello!” But the Elf was grinning as it said it.
They pulled up two armchairs close to the desk allowing Terrion the one he already occupied. The Prince nodded to Karliv to speak, “We've been talking to the King and through Ivin, his Far-Speaker, to King Hamar and Prince Tamen in Camara. They were aware of some disappearances, but they were appalled when told how many we personally knew about and agreed that if there were six noble children missing, five of them definitely on Madron soil, that it was probable that there are many more gone. They say two children were reported as missing then turned up dead, tortured and mutilated, so other noble parents are reluctant to come forward, but they had no idea so many could be missing.”
He shook his head, saying, “As for the lower class children they say that quite often their disappearance remains a local matter and they are never reported to the capital in the first place. They intend to send out agents about that as well.”
The Prince took over, “They want to move cautiously. The kidnappers have proved that they will not hesitate to kill the children.” He turned to Terrion, “We told him about your presence here and the Prince said to ask you if you wanted them to tell your father where you are.”
Terrion screeched a mental, *NNNNOOOOOOO!!!* going as white as a sheet. Running around the desk threw himself into Rendar's arms head against his shoulder, his back shaking with silent sobs.
The man began rubbing his head with one hand and stroking the boy's bare back comfortingly with the other. Karliv who's Mind-Speech was much stronger than Rendar's was busy uncrossing his eyes and rubbing his head with both hands. Both men could hear Terrion's apparently silent sobs in their minds and it was truly heartbreaking. After a time the sobs ceased but the boy was still holding onto Rendar with all his might.
The two who had received that blast of anguish were almost recovered but were still shaking their heads every once in a while. The Prince looked from one to the other in total confusion. Karliv began to speak carefully; still not sure that his head was going to stay in one piece. “Your Highness, remember about a month ago, you were in the playroom with your children when I went to see you. You were on the floor with your younger son playing a game. Your eldest decided it would be fun to come up beside you and yell in your ear at the top of his lungs.”
Carlinn shuddered in rememberance, saying, “My ear rang off and on for the rest of the day.”
Karliv said, “Well, that's just about what happened to Rendar and I, only it was a mental scream and it wasn't in fun, it was in sheer terror. Terrion,” he said, in a low but very firm commanding voice “Come here!!”
The boy held on tighter to Rendar for a moment then, terrified into strict obedience over the last two and a half years, he let go of Rendar and got off his lap, his naked body, visibly shaking and still crying, went over to Karliv.
The man took him gently by the shoulders, telling him soothingly, “Rendar has been speaking to you in the outer layer of your mind. I am capable of going much, much deeper. Terrion, I wish to ask your permission to do so?” The boy, still crying and shaking, finally nodded his head yes.
Karliv entered the boy's mind and it was easy to follow the path to the terror that existed there. Terrion began shaking much harder as Karliv brought the terror to the surface of the boy's mind. The man went as white as the boy. Then as he built a barrier between that terror and the rest of the boy's mind, Terrion's shaking ceased except for the occasional shiver and his tears begin to dry up.
Then the Elf began to speak in a low monotone that put a chill into his listeners, “Your Highness, whatever you do, make sure that Count Wymark is not told about Terrion's presence here. And make sure they never get within touching distance of each other except in the presence of their King or their Prince, or I will kill Wymark on sight!!”
Prince Carlinn looked at his closest advisor and friend. He'd only heard that tone of voice once before and Karliv had carried out that threat exactly as promised. “What did you see?” he asked in a strained voice.
Karliv turned cold brown eyes on his Prince, saying icily, “You don't want to know Highness, if you were anything but what you are you wouldn't need to know, but you are of royal blood, this country's next king, so sometime I will show you. It will not be comfortable; it will horrify you as much as it does me."
He gently squeezed Terrion's bare shoulders, saying, “It was something I wish I could forget and I am sure it is something that Terrion wishes he could forget, but it is something that is part of him, that will make him what he is to become, whether for good or ill. So, he cannot be allowed to forget. It will always be in the background to cause him sadness.”
Karliv turned back to the boy, saying hypnotically, “Close your eyes Terrion, close them tight, sleep, sleep deep. What is past is past and it is further in the past now. You will always remember it exactly as you do now, but it is further and further in the past.”
The boy closed his eyes and his face became more peaceful as the Elf kept speaking. When the Elf bade him to wake, Terrion did so. His enormous brown eyes were at peace now, but there was a lingering sadness in the background that would always be with him. Karliv bade him to sit and he sat back down in the armchair where he had been sitting at the beginning of the conversation.
Karliv addressed the whole room now, “My Prince, I discussed something with King Hamar and Prince Tamen, since Terrion was their subject. We are going to need time, months of it, perhaps even a year or more, to untangle the mess that has cropped up in our countries. I proposed that if indeed I find spies in the Duke's household, that Terrion's present supposed presence here, as slave and bedmate to the Duke should in fact become reality.
Karliv looked at the boy and told him, “The King said that as long as Terrion agrees, with the full knowledge that he will actually have to be the Duke's slave and share his bed and everything that implies.” he asked the boy, “Are you aware of the implications?”
With a mental giggle Terrion said to Karliv and Rendar, *Yes, they told me at the slave market that as a slave child in Madron I wouldn't be allowed to wear any clothing. That my duties would be mostly in bed where I'd have to take his penis up my bum and learn how to suck as well as a lot of other things.* His hands had been in his lap and he parted them to reveal his rock hard little prick. *It sounds like it might be fun.* he said looking at Rendar. Another mental giggle, *I guess I get to see that naughty book now.*
The Prince and Karliv had left and Terrion was sitting on Rendar's lap facing him and he enjoyed the feeling of him stroking his bare back and bum. Rendar said to the boy, “This won't be fun for you, especially for the first few days. It hurts when a man puts his penis in a boy's bottom. After a while they get used to it, but often with boys it will always hurt at the beginning even though they enjoy it after the entrance is made and they get used to it up their bum.”
Terrion asked with curiosity, *What about your other boys. I know you paid them to be your catamites. Did it always hurt them?*
Rendar nodded, telling him, “Yes, it did, but those boys who I employed knew what they were getting into right from the beginning, because they were used to having sex with men. Slaves don't have a choice in the matter, that's why I never bought slaves, though I do hire slave-prostitutes from my friend Aron when I hold parties, but again, never virgins and those boys Aron chooses for me enjoy having sex.”
Render gave the boy a grin and brushed his hair back off of his forehead. He said, “The boys I usually employed were inn-boys, and, across the continent, invariably an inn-boy is also a prostitute. Sometimes they're slaves and sometimes they're free. The only really free prostitutes that there are, even in your own country of Camron. Even there most of the prostitutes are indentured servants.”
Terrion told him seriously, *Yes I know. At least I assumed that was the case. Jaran the crested boy I met on his way here, told me that his friend had been sold as an indentured servant to a brothel to serve as a prostitute because they offered the most money.*
Terrion could see the man was somewhat reluctant to start doing what they had to do. He went to Rendar and put his arms around his waist and leaned against him. He said, *I can feel your reluctance to do something that will cause me pain.* Terrion was a little puzzled and then he remembered, *Oh yes, I forgot, you’ve never had a virgin before, so while the boys you employed hurt when you entered them, they were used to it and aware of what was going to happen.*
Rendar stroked Terrion's hair and admitted, “That’s part of it, but also while I liked the boys that I hired, I didn’t love them. I already know that what I feel for you is not simply liking, but love. Though certainly lust is there as well.”
Terrion had to admit, *I’ve been hurt by my father and I don’t want to be hurt either.*
He giggled, as he took a man's hand in both of his and pulled him toward the second door of the library, which obviously had to lead to his bedroom. Despite the man's reluctance, he didn’t have to pull very hard.
Terrion woke up with Ren’s arm under his neck and the man teased the boy gently, “You might want to try and get up and see if you can still walk?”
With a rush, that reminded the boy of what had happened and how sore his bum was. Terrion's rectum was a fiery ache inside of him. Carefully he sat up, and, moving to the side of the bed, he swung his legs over the side to the floor. Terrion started to push himself to his feet when he gave a mental hiss of pain and sat down abruptly, which was a really dumb move, since the pain flared into agony as his bum hit the bed.
Panting for breath Terrion waited until the pain subsided somewhat before pushing himself to his feet again. He stayed still for about thirty seconds before he dared to move and when he did the pain in his bum flared into agony again.
The little boy thought about it, wondering if he wanted to do this day after day and he felt at peace as he knew to please Ren he would take this as many times as the man wanted him.
Terrion kept moving and Ren was looking at him sympathetically from the bed. They heard a knock on the library door and Ren said sympathetically, “I'm afraid you're going to have to get it, little one. It's probably Karrin, but if it's anyone else they would find it strange for me to be answering my door when I had a slave available to do that.”
Terrion nodded, not happily but in understanding and made his way painfully across the bedroom and then the library and opened the door. As Rendar suspected it was Karrin. The boy let her in and then closed the door behind her and then led her into the bedroom where Ren was now fully dressed. Terrion knew that she could see the cum between his bum cheeks and thighs and he was proud that she could. It told her that he was Ren's now and forever.
She said kindly, “Poor mite. How many times did you take him last night, his Lord?”
Rendar said, “Four times, Karrin and if it hadn't been so late it probably would have been more.” Terrion could see she had a look of sympathy on her face.
He said to Ren, *She feel's sorry for me, Ren. Tell her that I wouldn't have traded last night for anything in the world. I'll remember every moment for the rest of his life and I'll savor every moment. It was painful yes, but that pain was my gift to you. That I'm proud of the cum between my thighs and bum cheeks and inside me.*
Ren laughed and said, “Terry says you don't have to pity him. Last night was his gift to me and he's proud of the semen between his legs and cheeks and inside his bum. He wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, despite the pain.”
Karrin looked at him and Terrion nodded vigorously. She gently rubbed the top of his head and to a boy who had never felt a woman's touch it felt good.
Rendar said to her, “Karrin, Karliv said that there are a couple of spies in the household. One of them works in the kitchen and one of them is a maid. The catamites that I employed were just that, employees and they were free; so they were allowed the privacy of bathing here every morning. Slaves aren't entitled to anything, not privacy and not courtesy. You must forget what you learned about Terrion last night, from this moment on he's a slave and you must treat him like one. It has never happened that I've warmed up to the boys that I employed instantly. With most of them, it took several weeks. I can't even begin to show affection for Terry for a least a month, or it would raise suspicions. Also we don't want to reveal the fact that he's a Mind-Speaker.”
Rendar paused shaking his head in sympathy for the boy. He said, “After a few weeks I can let him share my personal bathroom, but until then every morning after we get up he'll come down to the kitchen where you'll clean him up and then give him a bath. The staff knows the procedure when I hire a boy and they have to know that I've taken him to my bed. They're certainly going to know this morning, since it'll be some time before he walks normally again.”
“It might even be a good idea if you treat him roughly at first as if you're annoyed at me for spending so much on slaveboy.” Ren said. He looked at Terrion, “I'm sorry, little one, almost every word I say reminds me of how little value a slave has to the world and every thought tells me that you're going to get treated worse, especially in the beginning.”
The boy put his hand on Rendar's arm, saying soothingly, *I understand Ren, but remember my father treated me as badly as any slave would be, even by the meanest master. Then I had nobody. I can feel your love all the time and I know that you'll always be there for me.*
“Duke Rendar, I see one problem.” Karrin said unhappily and Terrion guessed what she meant before she said it.
Rendar simply raised his eyebrows and she said, “You only met him yesterday and you met him as a slave who you intended to purchase. Nobody knows that you're both Mind-Speakers and you can get close to someone far faster than in any other way. I've seen it in you, cousin and in my sister. When you meet someone you can speak mind-to-mind with, you know almost instantly what you feel for the other person, whether it's love or hate.”
Karrin shook her head, saying, “As a new slave he should still feel some apprehension, yet he doesn't. He glows with happiness and he shouldn't, not as sore as his bottom feels right now. It's not something that you announced to the world, but still it's not a secret that you're a Mind-Speaker. If he shows up in the kitchen as happy as he is right now, it's going to be obvious and it's quite likely that someone will jump to the right conclusion. Right now, they think he's mute and has no way to communicate with you except for signs. If they realize exactly how much he can tell you,” she shrugged, before she continued, “I don't know if they'll care or not. If they just think it's ordinary Mind-Speech, they probably won't care. If they think for some reason that he is able to Mind-Speak at a deeper level, then Terrion might be in danger from some of them, especially the spies that have been planted in your household.”
Both the man and boy nodded. Terrion had a solution, which he unfortunately didn't like at all, but he told Ren anyway. *If you whip me for doing something wrong, I'm not going to be happy any more. I'll be too busy crying and feeling sorry for myself. If I break a vase for instance, it's very likely that you'd whip me and then have someone in to clean up the mess.”
Rendar said unhappily, “As I said, everything we think of makes it worse and worse.” and he answered Karrin's questioning look. “Terry suggests that he break a vase and I whip him for it. He'll be busy crying and if you add two or three swats on the bottom in the kitchen, as if you're angry about it, he's certainly not going to be happy anytime soon.” He drew Terrion into his arms and hugged him, stroking his back and bum consolingly.
Terrion looked at the vase Ren had chosen for him to break which was one of three in the library and it was the one in the most precarious position. He couldn't help but tell the man, *It's awful, Ren, where did you ever get it?*
Rendar said with a grin, “I know it's awful, Tee, my mother gave it to me after someone gave it to her. Can you guess why?”
Terrion scratched his head and then realized, *Because it's so awful.* he said with a giggle.
Rendar gave a little laugh, saying with amusement, “Yes she hated the thing and I normally always have at least one boy around and when I have a party, there are usually half a dozen or more of them. So it's quite likely that, placed where it is, it will get broken sooner or later.”
Rendar's face became sterner, “This is the one we're going to be using and you'll apparently be whipped for it, but remember this. I do believe in corporal punishment. I whipped my paid catamites when they did something wrong, so this won’t be the last whipping you'll get and obviously most of them you will deserve.” Terrion nodded that he understood.
The man sighed, telling the boy, “All right, you need to actually break the vase. I'm going to feel bad enough whipping you, if you haven't done anything I'd feel much worse.”
Terrion had never deliberately broken anything in his life. He'd never dared to. The boy realized that it would have to look like he had brushed against it and knocked it over so he couldn't just pick it up and drop it. He brushed it with his arm and it started to rock. With determination, he brushed it much harder and it fell and despite everything, he felt horror as he watched it fall and smash on the floor.
Rendar said matter-of-factly, “All right bend over and hold onto the edge of the desk and stick your bottom out.” and Terrion did so biting his lover lip with apprehension. Ren didn't hold back. He whipped the boy as if he had actually done something wrong and if Terrion hadn't been mute, he was sure he would have started yelling by the third stroke. Lines of fire burned across his bum a full dozen times and he was crying hard by the time the man was finished. The only acknowledgement that the man made was when he brushed his hand lightly over the weals on the boy's bare bottom and breathed a, “Sorry, little one.”
The Duke took Terrion by the neck and with him over to the door. Opening it he called out, “Kosav!”
A man appeared from a curtained alcove at the end of the hallway. He was about ten years older than Ren, but his hair was cotton white. Terrion found out later that it had started to turn that color when he wasn't quite thirty and by the time he was thirty-five it was all white.
“My Lord?” he said in a questioning way.
“Take this little brat to the kitchen to be cleaned up and have Karrin send someone to clean the mess he made when he broke a vase.” Ren said and if Terrion hadn't been crying so hard because of his bum, doubly sore at the moment, from getting fucked and getting whipped, he might have laughed at the tone the man used.
Kosav said, “Aye, my Lord.”
Ren said in a low voice then. “Sorry about the sleep you missed, Kosav, but it was important, that's all I can tell you. By the way the boy is mute, so you'll have to accept signs for answers.”
The man simply nodded and taking Terrion's arm, he began to take him to the kitchen. The boy was rubbing his bum and the tears were still falling freely and of course, he was walking awkwardly from his sore asshole. Kosav stopped for a minute and he felt between Terrion's bum cheeks and stuck a couple of fingers up his ass.
He whistled, saying, “You been well fucked, little one. How many times?” Terrion held up his hand with four fingers and he whistled again.
Kosav grinned and said, “Well it looks like the Duke plans to keep you. I talked to some of the boys he had in the past and I don't gossip,” and he didn't as Terrion found out, “but since you'll be on the receiving end so to speak, I'll tell you that the Master is highly sexed. He can come almost as many times as you can, so you're in for a wild time night after night.” If Terrion hadn't still been crying his face would have lit up, at the very thought, but his heart soared.
Terrion's heart quailed when Kosav told Karrin about what the boy had done and Terrion realized then that she knew how serious what they were playing out was. She swatted him three times on the bum and they were hard swats, so he was crying full force again when she ordered him to stand in a corner and not move until told he could, or she'd use a strap on him as well.
Karrin said to one of the kitchen workers, “Treven, you go clean up the mess this little brat left. Mind you get it all. He'll be in bare feet most of the time and the master will be annoyed if he cuts himself and gets blood all over the rugs.”
“Venya, heat some water so I can give the boy a bath.” and her voice was calmer as if she'd taken her anger out by swatting Terrion a few times and then giving out orders, and, still sniffling, Terrion admired her acting ability.
Turning to the naked little boy, she asked in a normal voice, “Have you ever had an enema?” and he nodded.
“I'll give you an enema to flush you out and to make sure you don't get constipation. Follow me,” Karrin ordered and she led the way out of the back door. There was a small shed, which contained garden tools. Behind that out in the open, there stood the facilities for an enema. The boy realized that he was going to have no privacy and in fact, when they reached it he was fingering his penis needing to pee. Karrin pointed to a small bench that had a hole in it and told Terrion, “That leads down to the sewers, you can pee there first and then I'll give you the enema.”
Terrion felt embarrassed. While nudity was common on his world, normally they performed bodily functions, such as peeing, in private or at least only in front of members of the same sex. She said in a low kindly voice, “Remember Terrion, slaves have no right to privacy. Accept it.”
Even so it took him a couple of minutes before he could go, especially since he could see her watching him, but finally the water started to flow and Terrion saw her smile.
After he was through, she called him over. The arrangement to take an enema was primitive but effective. There was a filled bucket from the bottom of which ran a hose and it had a stopcock to close off the water. The hose had a nozzle on the end of it and she simply had Terrion bend over and spread his bum cheeks. Pushing his head down as far as it would go, after greasing the nozzle, she pushed it into his bum and then turned the stopcock and a few moments later, the water began to run into his bum. The sun had warmed it and unlike the kitchen pump that brought up water from deep underground, it was quite warm.
When it began to overflow, she removed the nozzle and then made Terrion stand up. She moved the boy over to the bench but told him not to sit down, but to hold the water in until she said he could let it out. He didn't know how long it was, but he was beginning to get cramps before she let him sit down and get rid of everything in his ass.
Terrion felt a fleeting sense of disappointment as Ren's semen washed away in the stinky mess and he was just as glad it was outside. When he was finished, she had him stand up, and, using a wet cloth, she wiped his ass carefully and then dropped it down the hole and then Terrion went in to be bathed. That was the first of many enemas.
Terrion was feeling restless, not physically but mentally. But there was nothing for him to do. The boy stood staring longingly at the books in Ren's library thinking, 'If only I could learn to read, I'd never have to be bored. I could spend years blissfully curled up with a book.'
Then he sighed. Of course, it was inaudible yet at the same time, he inadvertently let it out in Mind-Speech. Ren looked up from where he was working at the desk and asked, “A problem Tee?” Rendar usually called the boy Terry, but sometimes Tee. Over the next few weeks the boy would find that if Rendar called him Terrion except when they had guests or company (company weren't always guests) it was usually a warning he was close to a whipping.
*I don't want to cause any problems, Ren.* Terrion said.
“You're not, so what's wrong?” Rendar told the boy.
Terrion sighed again waving at the bookshelves, *All of those books and I can't read any of them and I'm bored.*
Rendar said with a little grin of sympathy. He said, “My last hired boy left a couple of kick balls behind when he left. Do you want to go out into the garden and kick one of them around for a while?”
Terrion said primly, *Bite your tongue, my bum is way too sore for something like that today.*
Terrion decided to change the subject, skipping to the boy he had mentioned earlier. He said, *You said that usually your boys stay until they're thirteen or fourteen and you said Dewin was only eleven. Why did he leave so early?”
Rendar told him, “His father was a Low Merchant and Dewin was an inn-boy when I first met him when he was about your age. He caught my interest right away. Of course, both the boy and his family were ecstatic when I hired him. Do you know much about money?” Rendar asked and Terrion shook his head no.
Ren explained, “Well I paid twenty golds a year. To understand what that means you have to realize that a High Peasant farmer with say five kids, in a good year will only make about twenty golds. On that he feeds his family, gets seed for next year and make a nice profit.” The boy was impressed.
Rendar continued, “Well getting back to Dewin. His mother’s brother was a High Merchant and wanted to retire. One of the things he owned was a leather goods store. Dewin's father was also a leather worker and a good one, but he never managed to make enough to get more than a market stall. He simply had no head for business. One of the things I do for the boys I hire is to have them schooled. It only cost me another gold for each of the three terms in a year.”
Terrion knew his face looked glum at that, but Rendar reassured him, “Just because you can’t read or can’t talk doesn’t mean that you can’t learn. It just means with you everything will have to be verbal.” and the boys face brightened at that. “That’s one of the things that I’ve always done, so that’s something that I can do for you, even though you’re apparently a slave.”
Rendar gave a sigh, saying, “Getting back to Dewin. Since his father was a Low Merchant with a lousy business sense, after the boy learned how to read and write, I had him instructed in business methods. When his uncle wanted to retire, Dewin asked me if he could go in with his father, and, between them, they had enough to buy the shop. He apprenticed to his father and he's learning how to make leather goods and with the training in business he's had they're doing quite well.”
Ren explained, “That was six months ago and the King asked me to perform a service for him. I was out of the country for three months and I knew I'd be going back, so I haven't hired another boy to take Dewin's place. All right, books are out and you don't feel like going out into the garden to kick a ball around, so do you play chess?” he asked.
Terrion nodded and the Duke said, “Very well I'll give you a quick game. I have a book that has complete games in it showing the board and the pieces, so you don’t have to be able to read. The first half has white, which has the first move and the second half has the black part of the game. You move the opposition pieces according to what the book says and you move your pieces your way and see if you can beat the opposition.”
Rendar got out a beautiful chess set and board and we set up the pieces. He wasn't paying attention and after ten moves Terrion said, *Checkmate!*
Rendar looked at the board and said “Damn,” softly and the boy giggled. The second game went to stalemate, but Terrion won the third game as well. Then there was an interruption when a beautiful woman in her early sixties swept into the room. There was no way that it could be anybody but the Duke's mother. Rendar gave a slow formal noble's bow and then when he straightened up he took her into his arms and hugged her.
Rendar said to the boy, “Terry. Go make sure the door is closed.” and Terrion did so. When he turned back, he saw a woman was looking at him. She beckoned with her finger and obediently he approached her. She looked him up and down and said, “Well I don't know if I approve of you spending money on a slaveboy, but he's exquisite. Large brown eyes with a touch of melancholy in them, beautiful kissable little mouth.” He looked at Ren and blinked with astonishment.
Rendar grinned saying, “She's shameless, Terry. Get used to it.”
His mother ignored him except to ask him, “How old is he, Ren.”
“Eight and a half, mother.” he said.
She had a look of thoughtfulness on her face. She said musingly, “Hmm, a little small for his age, slender but not skinny and he has no baby fat like many boy's his age do, no matter what station of life they come from. Beautiful little penis and balls.” and to Terrion's embarrassment, what she called his beautiful little penis was stiffening.
She asked Ren, “Does he get hard a lot?”
He gave a grin and said, “Invariably mother. Embarrass him or excite him and he gets hard.” and Terrion blushed. She put her hand on his shoulder and turned him around so that she could view his back.
“Nice straight little back and exquisitely rounded little bum. I assume since he's been here a day you know how fuckable he is.” she said, “But I see you've whipped him already. Wasn't that a little unfair seeing how sore his bum must have been?”
Ren started to say something then looked over his mother's shoulder and she turned around in time to see Karliv appear. Terrion realized it must be his Astral Spirit since he could see though it.
Karliv said, “Hello, Arla. It's nice to see you again. I'd give you a hug but I'm not really there.”
Arla looked at the three of them in turn. Putting her hands on her hips she said, “There's something strange going on. My son buys a slaveboy and when I visit him suddenly you appear.”
“Show her Ren.” Karliv said. Rendar pulled the little key from around his neck and unlocked Terrion's collar and removed it and Arla's eyes widened when she saw the crest on his arm.
Ren said solemnly, “I found him at the slave market and we know that he's one of six so far, with no knowing how many others and with common children as well. That's why I bought him, and, yes mother, he's exquisitely fuckable. The whipping was unfortunate but necessary. Karrin pointed out that despite how sore his bottom was, he glowed with happiness. His name is Terrion by the way, though I prefer to call him Terry or Tee and he's the one who suggested the whipping. By the time the whipping was over, he was no longer glowing with happiness but crying from the beating. That hid the fact that he enjoyed what should have been a painful experience and in fact was, but as he said he would savor every minute of the memory for the rest of his life.”
She lifted the boy's chin and asked, “Did you really enjoy it?” she asked him and he heard Ren say, “He's mute mother, and, Terry, my mother can Mind-Speak better than I can.”
Terrion appreciated that as he answered, *In one sense of course no, it hurt too much. Yet, at the same time I knew that Ren was enjoying it immensely and despite the hurting, I was incredibly happy. Since the happiness mixes with the pain, I have to remember both to remember what I felt.*
“You're not jealous of the boys he's had in the past and will undoubtedly continue to have in the future?” she asked.
Terrion shook his head, saying soberly, *No, we know, as only Mind-Speakers can know, that we're partners for the rest of our lives and he will be with me, forever and always.*
Karliv said with a serious expression on his face, “The bodies of two noble children were found and they'd been tortured and mutilated, which shows that the ones in this plot have absolutely no objection to killing. We have to move very carefully. That means it’ll take time to put the pieces together and we’re not going to be able to tell the other children that we know of their plight. They’re going to feel very lonely, unlike Terrion who is doing this voluntarily.”
Rendar said seriously, “In fact, Terrion being kidnapped was probably the best thing that ever happened to him. His father was twisted. He used to beat Terry half to death two or three times a month and has done so for the last two and a half years. On several occasions the beatings came close to killing him and sooner or later undoubtedly would have done so.”
Arla looked down at Terrion and asked gently, “So you’re glad to be away from him and anywhere would be safer than with him.” He nodded in agreement.
Seeing that aside from what he was already feeling the boy didn’t react, she smiled gently at Terrion. She asked, “He did one of his memory tricks did he?” and again a nod was sufficient answer.
Arla sighed, saying, “Well his father, Kraftin did the same thing for me before Ren was born. He wasn’t my first-born. My daughter Samra was born four years before Rendar, she was always sick and often weak and she simply couldn’t survive. Even the Healers in Temple City could do nothing for her.”
She shook her head with regret, saying, “It wasn’t a shock, but it was still a heartbreaking loss when she died at three years old. I knew that I had to get on with my life and needed to have a family. That was before my nephew Carlinn was born, so I was Vendar’s heir, which made neither of us happy. But I didn’t have any choice, I was the heir and I had to be prepared to become Queen if he had died.”
Arla said with relief, “Thankfully the next year, Ren was born and he became the heir until Carlinn was born five years later and his three children plus his brother plus Ren are before me in the line of succession. Since I was the heir at the time, Kraftin aged my memories so it seemed to be in the past and I could put it behind me to some extent, though it will never be completely behind me.”
She shook her head and then smiled down at Terrion, as Karliv bowed and said, “Good-bye, My Lady, My Lord.” disappearing.
She spent about a half hour talking to Ren while Terrion worked through the chess book. He was on the second game when he paused and counted the number of pages and there were about three hundred pages for white. Until he actually worked on a game, he had trouble following it, but there were two or three pages per game. Obviously whoever had made the book had chosen short games but they still weren’t going to last him very long.
Terrion felt someone's eyes watching him and looking up he saw that Arla was watching him with interest. She stood up and moved over to where he was sitting at the chess table and sat down opposite him.
Arla took the Black King and the White King and putting her hands behind her briefly, she offered them to Terrion. The boy tapped her right hand and she opened it to reveal the Black King.
She was much better than Rendar, but she played a far bolder game and when you don’t play attention to your opponent in chess, it can get you in trouble.
By the time, she realized that Terrion was a worthy opponent it was too late. She was in an untenable position and had to resign. The next game was a stalemate.
She stretched gracefully after that game and said with a grin, "Now if I had found you first, I might've bought you just for your ability to play chess. It would almost be worth the money to find a good chess opponent."
Arla reached out and tweaked his small nose gently. She told him, "You need to play a dangerous game, Terry, you and Rendar. Everywhere else, like Rendar, I'll have to treat you like a slave, but here I can treat you like what you are, a new member of the family."
Arla took Terrion's arm standing him up. She pulled him around to her side of the table and took him on her lap. As she enfolded him in her embrace, Terrion was content.