Author's Note: This chapter gets a little spicy. There is sounding and needleplay, but the build up to it is pretty obvious. I don't recommend skipping this chapter as there's some important plot bits, but if you want to skip that scene, just jump to the # after. Thanks for reading and thanks for your kind comments and votes!
Monday morning has me back in Arlon's office, and I can tell he's in a mood the second I walk in. And not a good one, either.
He's seated behind his desk, but he doesn't even grin when he sees me. "Strip," he orders before turning his attention back to the missives on his desk.
I go to the corner and do as asked, but I keep an eye on him. He looks tired. There are dark shadows under his eyes as he glares at the paper in his hands through his spectacles. I stack my clothes in a neat pile on the chair in the corner before I kneel next to him. He sighs as he puts a hand on my head, silently toying with my hair for a few long minutes.
I want to ask what's wrong, but I get the feeling he's not open to talking yet. Besides, he hasn't given me permission. Instead, I lean into his touch and turn my face up to kiss his palm. It at least gets a grin out of him, and I see a bit of the tension in his shoulders ease a little.
"Go fetch me breakfast," he says. "And be sure to grab me a cup of kaffa."
I kiss his palm again. "Yes, sir."
I get up and brave the cold of the halls. It's a little warmer today than it has been. At least the sun is shining through the windows, but the draft still invites gooseflesh over my bare skin.
Even after a couple of weeks of this, folks still give me sly looks as I walk into the mess hall. It never fails to make my ears hot, but I can't blame them for staring. I do the same when I see someone else being paraded around in the Crux.
I ate when I first got up, so I only grab enough for Arlon. I fill a bowl with hot oats before topping it with dried fruit and nuts. I forgot to ask Arlon what he puts in the bitter black kaffa to make it drinkable, so I grab a little bit of sugar and cream to bring with me. I turn to go and run straight into Thaddius, sending everything toppling. I jump back as the tray hits the floor, a little stunned.
"Oh hell, I'm sorry Dom," he says, though something in his tone makes me wonder how sorry he actually is. Even so, he helps me clean up, and we hand the spilled dishes apologetically over to the cooks. Once we're finished, he even helps me gather another helping before putting it onto my tray, though when he grins at me, it's just on the edge of malicious. "Have a good day."
I hurry back to Arlon's office, trying not to spill any of the tray's contents. When I walk in, he raises an eyebrow curiously. "You were gone for some time." I flush as I kneel and offer his breakfast to him. He takes it and grins when he sees the cream and sugar I brought. He adds a little bit of both. "What took you?"
"Ran into Thaddius, sir. It was an accident," I say, though I'm still not so sure. We've cast a couple of times, but he tends to keep to his own circle with Iona and Ambra. I can't imagine what I could have done to get on his bad side.
"Hmm, wasting food. And you've heard how expensive it is to run the Crux," Arlon says, though at least there's that playful tilt to his voice now. "I'll remember that for later."
"Yes, sir." Even if it means getting my ass beat, I'm glad he at least sounds like himself. I let him enjoy his breakfast in silence and rest my cheek against his leg. He seems to appreciate it as he leans back in his chair, sipping from his mug as he idly strokes his fingers through my hair.
I wait a few long moments before I look up at him, resting my chin on his thigh and raise an eyebrow. Arlon meets my gaze and gives a huff of a laugh. "So it's that obvious?" he asks. He sighs and adds, "It's been a long morning."
He still hasn't given me permission to talk, so I just give him my attention. He takes another sip from his mug. "The execution will be public," Arlon says. "Lucien and Jaret will drop tomorrow." He shakes his head and sets his mug down on his desk, "I'm not sorry to see them go. I just wish Thermilious had kept his word and made it quiet. Executing wizards in the town square sets a bad precedent."
Fuck, I hadn't even thought of that. I've seen how folks outside of the Crux view the ones inside of it. No matter how bad Jaret and Lucien's actions were, they're still wizards, and their actions cast a shadow over all of us.
"He says he wants to send a message to Diran. Thinks this will scare him away," Arlon says. "I personally think it's just going to piss him off."
His fingers drum down the side of his mug. "And if that wasn't enough, Garrett was supposed to be back yesterday." A thread of fear laces up my spine, and Arlon seems to feel it. He strokes my hair gently. "He's more than capable of taking care of himself. It's been a wet winter so far. I bet the roads are a nightmare. I'm sure I'm worrying about nothing." He leans back in his chair with a sigh. "Seems to be all I do anymore."
I turn my head to kiss the palm of his hand before I bow. "Speak freely."
"Are you going to tell the Crux about the execution?" I ask. His hand stills on my head, and I continue quickly. "I-I don't know, but if I had been in the cave, I might want to be there."
Arlon lets out a long sigh, and his hand starts again. "No, you're right," he says at last. "I was hoping to protect them, but I might be denying someone's closure. I'll make the announcement tonight at dinner."
He falls quiet again, losing himself in his thoughts for a few long minutes. He finishes his cup and sets it on his desk. "I'm glad you're here today," he says at last. "I need to vent some frustration."
I shiver, remembering that last time he used me to vent his frustrations, he brought me deep enough that he stopped us. We still haven't figured out what the enchantment spell he cast does, but it's strong - whatever it is. But I trust Arlon, and I know we both learned what not to do that day. I'm not afraid of him taking me deep. "I belong to you today, sir."
For the first time today, Arlon smiles. "Damn right."
Arlon takes me to the dungeon and leads me to the corner opposite the bed. As the globes light up, I see the thick woven mat set into the floor that I've never noticed before. He takes his robe and tosses it over one of the chairs before doing the same with his shirt. He grins as he turns to look at me, and I see a bit of excitement on his face.
"Today, I want you to fight me, Dominai."
I freeze, looking at him with wide eyes. "What?"
Arlon's grin makes my stomach twist with anticipation, and I know he's just made note of my slip in addressing him. "You heard me," he says. "I want you to try and fight me off. And know that if you fail, I will pin you down and fuck you right here against this mat." He slides his trousers and underthings off, letting them fall to the ground.
I mutter a quiet swear as I look him over. Arlon is a full head taller and has at least five stone on me, most of that muscle, but I've got speed and flexibility on my side. When Arlon made me a target a few months ago, I almost managed to squirm out of his grip when he ambushed me. Maybe facing him head on, I'll be able to squirm away.
"As you wish, sir," I say and grin at the challenge.
Arlon chuckles and steps onto the mat, motioning for me to do the same. We square off on opposite ends. "You cannot leave the mat. No strikes to the head or neck. Try not to aim for testicles, though accidents do happen," he says with a grin. "We go until one of us is pinned for a three count."
Ah fuck, well there goes my chances. I can probably get away from him, but there's no way I'll pin him. Nothing to do but try though. Maybe I'll get lucky. "Yes, sir."
Arlon's grin widens. "Begin."
We start off slow. Cautious. I stay on the very edge of the mat, circling opposite of him. He doesn't seem in a hurry though. Walking in step with me, his eyes never leave mine.
I'm too busy watching his face to notice his feet abruptly lunge towards me. His expression gives nothing away, and he moves like a man a decade younger as he grabs for me. I just barely avoid him, darting to the side. He grabs for me again and catches my arm, but I manage to twist out of it.
All the while he's grinning at me, almost indulgent. Like a cat playing with a mouse. Then my foot hits cold stone. He's backed me into a corner.
"Every time you step off the mat, I'll add to the punishment you're going to get later," he warns.
Fuck, gotta stay on the mat then. I keep my eyes on him before I feint left and duck under his right arm as he grabs for me. I tumble across the mat and safely away from him before I pop back to my feet. I grin as I circle opposite him once more.
"Gods, I forgot how slippery you are."
I'm hopped up on adrenaline and roll my neck out. "Maybe you're just getting slower," I say, then realize who I've said it to.
Arlon doesn't seem mad, though his grin takes on a feral edge. "You are begging for a punishment, aren't you?"
I smirk. Ah fuck it. I'm in it deep already. "Gotta catch me first."
It lights a fire under his ass. He lunges again, going low this time, and I'm just a second too late dodging him. He catches me around my waist, and his momentum almost topples us both to the mat. I try to drop out of his grip, but he anticipates it and adjusts his hold on me. One of his legs snakes through mine, and I can't stop a yelp of surprise as he trips me.
I go down quick under him, and he straddles my waist, putting his full weight on me. He grabs my arms to go for a pin, but I fold up like a pill bug before exploding up with all my strength. I surprise him just enough that he loses his center on my hips.
I try and scrabble away, but I only end up pinned on my stomach as he throws himself on top of me again. I can't stop a grunt, the air forced from my lungs as he straddles my back. Ah damn it, definitely over now.
He leans forward and pins my shoulders as his hand grabs the back of my head. "One," he counts. I try to push up and dislodge him, but I don't have the strength to get my arms under me. "Two," he purrs as he forces my head towards the mat. "Three."
I slump, cheek pressed firm to the woven mat as I pant for breath. But Arlon doesn't seem intent to wait. His hand moves to my neck where he uses my collar like a handle to keep me pinned. He kicks my legs apart, and he doesn't do anything to prepare me save slicking his own cock before he roughly enters me.
I shout and try to pull away on instinct, but Arlon keeps me pinned by the neck as he adjusts his angle and thrusts in again. I clench my eyes shut even as the fight goes out of me. I relax as best as I can and accept it. He seems to feel me submit because only then does he start to fuck me in earnest.
I thought I had been taken rough by Arlon before, but this feels like he's intent on splitting me open. Adrenaline surges through me, but I still shout as every rough snap of his hips drives his cock into me. With nothing but the mat underneath, I have nowhere to go, and I take the full length of him with every punishing thrust.
My own cock is trapped underneath me but even the rough friction of the mat does something to it. I feel myself getting hard as he pounds over that spot inside of me, wringing a primal shout out of me. He warned me what would happen if I lost, and he's certainly making good on his promise. This is a far cry from the controlled grandmaster I'm used to.
I grit my teeth and accept the discomfort as he uses me for his pleasure. Arlon's low growl makes the hair on my neck stand on end before he kicks my legs wide and pulls me onto my knees. He keeps my head pinned before he impales me deeper. Pleasure races up my back, the angle sending him just over that spot.
He doesn't seem intent to drag it out, and finishing me off doesn't appear to be on his mind either. He fucks me fast and hard, though his fingers never so much as brush my cock. I'm raw by the time he buries himself deep. He moans, a sound of pure relief and release as he fills me.
By degrees, he relaxes his grip and leans down to press a kiss to the back of my neck. "Good boy," he pants. I flush with pleasure at the simple praise only to whimper as he pulls out of me. My sore hole twitches at the loss even as my cock throbs with need. Arlon doesn't seem intent to give me an orgasm, and it's not my place to ask for it, either.
I glance back and see Arlon sit up languidly, the tension gone from his face and body. The difference it makes is shocking. I knew he'd been stressed, but I hadn't realized just how much until now. I can't stop a small smile as I watch him stretch, eyes closed, an idle grin playing over his face.
He just needed this, and I'm glad I was able to provide it.
Arlon is noticeably more relaxed as the day goes on, though he doesn't let my punishment for spilling food or being cheeky with him slide. I'm not allowed to clean up, and I feel his seed slide out of me and trail down my thigh as we head up out of the dungeon. But the real punishment doesn't come until he sits down at his desk again.
He reaches into a drawer and pulls out a small bag. I frown when he pours a bit of rice onto the ground beside his desk. "Whenever rice is dropped, I make sure the cooks collect it and give it to me," he says. "So, as punishment for your tongue and for wasting food, you will kneel here with your hands behind your neck until my meeting with Farlan and Paulette is over."
I look at the little spread of rice, wondering how bad it could be. Five minutes into the meeting, I start to get the idea. Each hard little grain feels like a pebble digging into the skin of my knees. It's a test of control and endurance to stay kneeling when there's nothing but Arlon's command keeping me there. I get the feeling that's the point. I keep my fingers tight through the rings on my collar so I'm not tempted to use my hands to push myself up.
Even though I'm sure they see me, Farlan and Paulette ignore me as the three of them go through their normal meeting items before Arlon moves onto the topic of extra security. Over the sound of my own shuddering breath, I hear that the side gates to the different courtyards are to be closed for the winter, the smaller drawbridges pulled up. During the day, the main bridges to the front and back will stay down, but there will be someone on watch for anyone who would cross it.
"Is there a reason we're tightening security?" Paulette asks.
Arlon sighs. "Just a precaution," he says. "I'll be making an announcement tonight about the execution of Jaret Voss and Lucien Carter."
"Ah," Paulette says. "Understood, grandmaster. We'll make sure the only ways in are through the front or back gates."
"Farlan, you can draw a guard rotation from the active list," Arlon says. "Be sure Olbric's included. He's not officially on the active list, but it'll do him good to get back to some structure."
I can't stop a quiet whimper, feeling tears sting at the corner of my eyes as Farlan and Paulette leave. Arlon strokes a hand through my hair before he helps me up. My legs fail to support me, but Arlon pulls me onto his lap and holds me close as he gently picks the rice from where they've sunk into my skin. He kisses my neck and shoulders, murmuring quiet praise into my ear.
As the pain fades, so does my shaking. Arlon tilts my head back to meet his eyes. "Are you alright, Dominai?" he asks quietly.
I blink hazily up at him and realize just how effective the punishment was at putting me back in my place. All snappy responses have retreated. "Yes, sir."
"Good," he says and kisses my head again before helping me to my feet. This time, my legs hold me. "Go grab us lunch."
No one runs into me this time, but there are more looks as folks spot the telltale glisten on my thighs and the red marks on my knees. I catch sight of Thaddius, and I see his smirk before he turns away from me. I get the feeling he knew I'd be punished for this morning. What bothers me is that I don't understand why. Why would he go out of his way to make my day harder?
I scowl as I push the thought aside. No use worrying about it now. I hurry back to Arlon's office to find Galiva seated across from him. She grins as I walk past but otherwise ignores me.
"How much longer do you think they'll need me?" she asks.
I kneel to offer Arlon his lunch and he takes the tray from me without pausing his conversation. "Hopefully just a couple more days," he says. "I'm sure Garrett is just running behind on the roads. We'll give him a couple days rest once he's back - if he'll take them, that is."
"I can pick up a few more shifts. I already agreed to do the afternoon shift today," she says. "Though once Garret's back, I think I'd like a break from corpimancy for a while."
Arlon chuckles. "Consider it done," he says as he puts a hand on the small stack of spell notes on his desk. "I'll see what I can do about these in the meantime. I'm grateful for your help, and I know Garrett is as well."
Galiva gives a little half shrug. "I'm happy to do it. The clinic is important," she says. "It reminds people of the good that magic can do."
Arlon offers me a dried blueberry, and I take it from between his fingers with my teeth as he says, "We can use all of the good publicity we can get, I think. Besides, I know you're doing good work. Straetham will remember Galiva Qamari as a helper of the people. You do your family proud."
Galiva ducks her head, looking pleased. "Thank you." She pauses for a beat before saying, "I think I'm about ready to petition for my divination mastery."
Arlon beams at her, and it makes me smile to hear her say it. "I'm glad," Arlon says. "I think you're more than ready. Your divining of Alix was enough to get you halfway there, so you just have to cast with me. Just let me know, and we'll set a day."
"Thank you, sir," she says as she gets to her feet. "I'll report back to the clinic for the rest of this week."
"Thank you, Galiva," he says. She closes the door behind her even as Arlon offers me a bit of cured meat wrapped around a cube of cheese. I eat lunch from his hand and try to gauge his mood. He seems calmer now, content as he eats his lunch and feeds me mine.
Once he's finished, he picks up the small stack of notes Galiva left behind. "She's getting overwhelmed with the demand of the clinic," he says. "So I would like to use you to get her the spells she needs."
I swallow and take the notes from Arlon. There's a request for a number of mending spells for broken bones with the words 'cart accident' scribbled next to them. On top of that, she's asking for something called 'natural support' which I've never heard of before. "Sir, I've only conduited for corpimancy once before," I say, a little nervous.
Arlon's hand strokes through my hair. "I won't force you to this," he says. "I know corpimancy was a soft limit for you."
I look through the notes again and ask, "A spell for broken bones I've done before, but what's this one?" I hand the 'natural support' up to him.
"That is the spell that earned Galiva her corpimancy mastery," Arlon says with a grin. "She found a way to stimulate the body's natural response to illnesses to better fight it off. It is... interesting to conduit for. It's actually a mixture of corpimancy with a diluted version of conjuration. Don't worry - you won't have to wear a cage to create it."
I blink in surprise. That's a combination I haven't heard before, but it sounds like I'll get an orgasm out of it. "Sounds... interesting," I say. "I'll try it, sir."
Arlon hooks a ring through my collar and pulls me close. I feel his breath against my ear as he murmurs, "Good. Go clean up."