Characters from the bookTransformation are owned by Carol Berg.
No disrespect is intended by the writing of thie fanfiction.
The summons came later that evening. I was asleep, but woke shivering to the sound of the trap door opening and Durgan's voice, flat as any slavemaster's.
"He is calling for you. Up! Hurry."
It must have been well past midnight. What the prince wanted I could not guess and did not wish to, although as I dragged the tunic over my head for the second time that evening and splashed my face with the water Durgan had waiting for me, my mind was racing. It could well be my death I walked to across the muddy courtyard of the slaves' quarters, iron bands on my wrists, brand on my cheek, in a land not my own.
For the sake of a slave branded, and a letter misdelivered the Prince's revenge had been swift and public. The House of Mezzrah had been humiliated. Two of their own had died over my skin, and it would take years before the silent mockery of Aleksander's guesting to go unmentioned where a Lord of that House walked.
It had been masterly, Aleksander's campaign. And cruel.
For such a man it would be nothing to rid himself of the excuse, now the action was done.
I was surprised to discover quite how strong the desire for life still burned. Even as I pattered barefoot up the Great Staircase, in half-dark at this hour with half the torches out and half guttering; even as the blank-faced guards ran a contemptuous eye over my body, tunic so thin one could barely conceal a thimble under it, let alone a blade; even as the door was opened for me, I was considering life and how to preserve it.
The moment the door opened wide enough to admit a body thinned by years of slave rations, I fell to the floor.
Protestation, experience had taught me, was the safest position to hold when faced with a Derzhi in full fighting rage.
But it was not rage I faced, tonight.
It was a new carpet. But from where I lay with my head pressed to the threads, I could already see the spilt lees of a cup of red wine and a tumbled of stained silk. The room was stifling hot, in this palace of cold winds and draughty vaults: it stank of the burnt-hay steam of Nazrheel tea and the stale leavings of spirits wine, and a sick-sweet stench from the herbs some Derzhi burnt to excite the senses. There was a cloying flower-scent, too, a woman's. It was with fear I recognised it as Tarina's.
Aleksander was not alone. There were at least three or four other Derzhi with him, and the smell of them in their cups permeated the room. Their voices were low and blurred, the voices of men late at night after the feast when tongues were loose and blows were quick to fall.
Men, and a woman. It was Tarina's voice, not Aleksander's, I heard first.
"Such a shame it is, that you will not share. I wager I could make him spend before you, your Highness. Would you-"
"No," said Aleksander.
I could hear the rustle of his slippers on the carpet. My skin knew his step, and the hairs on my arms rose at his nearness. "This one is mine."
"Years past his prime and none to pretty even then. You could do better." A voice I did not know, bored.
"This one can read," Aleksander said. His voice was quiet and dangerous with it, not a red rage but a cold one. I shivered.
Someone laughed, then, high and sharp as the whinny of a horse. "Ah, but will that matter, between the sheets?"
I knew then what I faced.
One could not serve the Derzhi long without discovering that they cared little what they bedded. Woman; man; mare; slavegirl; slave. It seemed all the same to the warrior race, although to an Ezzarian - the first time, I had rubbed my skin raw with the hate of it.
One became accustomed. But it had been years since any guest or Baron's son had crocked a finger in my direction.
Now, it was the Crown Prince Aleksander, the heir to the Lion Throne of the Derzhi Empire, who stood over my outstretched body and said, "Kneel."
His eyes were fever-bright, fire burning in amber. The herb had lent a flush to his pale skin, and the wine had loosened the folds of his robe and set the stray hairs of his warrior braid adrift. Prince, debauched.
I could not look him in the eye. I fixed my gaze on the carpet between his slippered feet.
"Wash my hands."
There was no water. No towel. I could not: I risked a glance upwards, but Aleksander's face, heavy-lidded, was implacable.
It was Tarina who saved me. Giggling, she poured wine into a goblet and passed it to the steward, who brought it to me with a length of embroidered silk that must have cost forty zenars.
I did not touch his skin. I dared not look up.
But when he was done, he looped the silk around my neck, sticky with wine, and tugged. Perforce I followed him, shambling on my knees and leashed like a beast.
He took me to the writing desk. His hand in my hair twisted my up and then across it, sprawled on my belly and bent over, silk-cold finished wood against my skin. I felt sick.
He kicked my legs apart and ripped the tunic open.
I dare say not many of the Prince's playthings carried as many scars as I. The marks of the lash are not pretty, and they came to look, Aleksander's guests, running fingers over the welts and poking at scars, commentating to each other with careless curiosity whilst I, naked, pressed my cheek to the desk and held back the hot tears of humiliation. I had thought I was beyond shame. I was wrong.
I doubt Aleksander had ever prepared a male slave for bedding in his life. His hands were not rough, when he spread my buttocks, but the prodding of his fingers at my arse was uncomfortable for both of us. He tried a single fingertip first, cursed, and used his thumbs then to open me up beyond what my body could well tolerate without preparation. He must have felt me flinch. I could hear someone's snort of knowing amusement. But they must have, for his own comfort, given him something to use. The next thing I felt was grease against my skin.
"Enough. Too much and you'll be sliding around in there like an Ezzarian mounting a mare."
"Ten zenars you can't get him up."
"I say it's impossible. They bred them impotent, in Ezzaria."
There was a bet on it, then.
And Aleksander said, "I will not fail," and drove into my body with the force of a stallion mounting a mare. I was speared open, flung forward, spitted: he was not small, my Prince, and not cool. I may have screamed, then. I do not recall.
He held me open with both hands on my buttocks, fingers digging in flesh, and did not move. My body spasmed around his, and if I could have curled up from the pain of it I would have done. I could feel the cold sweat break out on my shoulders and my knees start to shake, and were it not for the desk and Aleksander's bruising grip I would have fallen.
Too long, he held me there. When he began to move, it was like that first taking all over again, brand to my guts, hard and hot in my belly, burning where he pushed inside my body. If he had finished with those first strokes, as men in their cups will sometimes do, all would have been well. But he did not. In public, on my body, Aleksander chose to demonstrate the teaching he had had from slavegirls trained to pleasure and whores bought for it across his father's Empire.
"This I had from a woman in Induit. This from Avenkhar." And he would change his rhythm, move my body, seek out again and again that betraying small place inside me that bred fire through my bones, pluck at my nipples, jerk my head back by the short hair remaining to it and close his hand round my throat until the black spots danced in front of my eyes and always, always, I could feel himself inside me. And although I wished for anything but, I did rouse for him. Painful. Humiliating. Uncontrollable. Although I hoped, twisting in his hands, to conceal my state he knew, and showed it off to his friends. Who laughed. Whilst I, ridiculous, shamed beyond anything and Ezzarian could have conceived, could have wept.
He made me spend before he did, his hand closed around my flesh, a burning brief spasm that left me wrung out for the punishing ride of his own last thrusts. At the end, he bent over me like a jockey on a racehorse, his mouth on my neck, his hands fastened on my shoulders. Impersonal. Meaningless. Hated.
came, my Prince, and left his spend hot in my belly and oozing out from
the place where he had thrust home to drip down my thighs, branding
me as his as much as the mark on my cheek.