It takes them three days to reach the vast, crumbling castle made of black stone. Its jagged turrets and spiked battlements have been in sight for two, growing taller and taller as they make their slow but steady approach through the gnarled and twisting trees of the forest, as if they mean to reach up and pierce the dark sky itself.
Hank doesn’t like this. The sun hasn’t shined once since they first set foot in the dreaded forest, hidden behind a solid sky of thick, grey clouds. As soon as they’d passed the first tree the horses had abruptly come to a halt, the whites of their eyes showing but their knobby knees locked in place, refusing to budge an inch further no matter how hard his master whipped them. They’d been forced to abandon the horses, and set off beneath the leafless trees with blackened bark and branches like long, reaching fingers to make the journey on foot.
In the entire three days they’ve trekked through the woods, they haven’t seen a single soul, human or animal. Hank has always prided himself on his practicality, and his lack of superstition in these dark, troubled times, but something about the way the silence seems to press down around them, heavy on their ears without even a breath of wind to whisper through the barren branches disrupting the eerie stillness of the forest. It’s starting to get to him. He keeps seeing things in the corners of his eyes, dark shadows creeping in closer up out of the gloom, wavering and dancing as if alive, but whenever he turns his head to look at them head on, there’s nothing there. He and his master are utterly alone, and for the first time in his service as a traveling knight’s squire the remoteness feels more like a vulnerability than an adventure.
If Ser Sebastian is troubled by the way the forest seems to be holding its breath in expectant anticipation, or if he’s even bothered to notice, he doesn’t say. Hank has never found himself overly compatible with Ser Sebastian of House Shaw, but he was the only knight who would accept Hank as a squire once his apprenticeship as a page was complete. Hank is under no illusions: he knows Shaw only took him since in return, Hank was the only squire desperate enough to sell his service to him.
Shaw is mad. He speaks like a lord of the king’s court, silky smooth as any conniving politician, but there’s a glint of madness in his eyes not even fancy words can conceal. House Shaw was once prosperous, but has been on the edges of falling into peasantry for three generations now, their fortunes in both land in coin long since wasted away in drinking and gambling. It’s common knowledge Ser Sebastian is willing to do anything to restore the lost prestige of his surname.
Anything, like crossing miles and miles of wasteland to an abandoned castle, where rumor has it a fair prince is held captive by a beastly dragon.
Madness in a knight is lethal for a squire, and Hank’s heard plenty of tales depicting squires being used as nothing more than fodder in their master’s mad pursuits. But Hank has never been the top of his page class, more suited for an apprenticeship with the scribes than with a knight, so his prospects of being chosen by another knight were slim to none. Not to be deterred, the lure of adventure has always been too strong for Hank to ignore, and he was willing to grasp at any chance. His parents had despaired, but Hank had packed his bags and hoisted Shaw’s banner, swearing his allegiance to the Mad Knight and following his new master on his—some say—foolhardy quest for glory.
“I’ll slay the dragon, Henry,” Shaw says on their first night in the woods, sitting across from each other on either side of their warm campfire and gnawing on stale strips of jerky since no wild game could be found. The firewood Hank had collected from the ground is bone dry, and the fire crackles and pops loudly, the flames eating up the wood almost too quickly to seem natural. Hank has to give himself a mental shake, tearing his eyes away from the hungry flames and stares off into the dark night instead while Shaw rambles on. “The prince will be mine by right of spoils, and he’ll accept my offer of marriage. We’ll wed within the hour and I won’t just be a lord, Henry, I’ll be royalty. I’ll be a king.”
Hank isn’t sure he believes the rumors. Dragons can’t exist, surely not. If one did, Hank has a hard time imagining it being satisfied with an abandoned castle surrounded by a dead forest. A dragon would have to eat something, he reasons darkly. If there really is a dragon, it probably ate the poor prince a long time ago and flew off to search for greener pastures.
More likely than not, whoever first discovered the ruins of the castle came across a large bear, and changed their story from bear to dragon after running in terror to the nearest country inn. I saw a dragon makes a rather more impressive story for all the listening patrons of an inn than I saw a bear, after all.
The closer they get to the castle, however, the more Hank’s skepticism begins to dry up.
They stand now directly in front of the castle, on the edge of an old stone bridge extending over a wide moat. Long scorch marks lick across the weathered stone, but Hank valiantly tries to remind himself his eyes could be playing tricks again; it’s hard to tell if the black stone is actually charred or if it’s just the shadows cast by the empty but no less menacing watchtowers standing guard on either side of castle’s arched barbican. Below it the crooked gates are open wide and grant them a glimpse of a gloomy, ruined inner courtyard.
“At last,” Shaw says, and even in the strange half-light of the hidden sun his eyes are glinting, “victory is at hand, Henry! I can nearly taste it!”
Hank allows Shaw to step forward first, following behind him at an acceptable but cautious distance. Peering over the edge of the bridge, he discovers he can’t even see the bottom of the moat, a deep, impenetrable darkness hiding whatever lies in wait below: water, or rocks, or perhaps something worse. Noting the already disintegrating edges of the bridge, Hank decides to stick as close to the middle as possible because he’d rather not find out.
Covered battlements extend out from either side of the watchtowers, the high walls curving around to surround the castle as a second line of protection after the moat. Hank peers up at the dark windows, straining his eyes to see if there’s any movement or any other sign of life, but there’s nothing. If a prince once lived here, Hank’s beginning to suspect he must be dead. The stillness is beginning to make him edgy, because where it was only an itch in the forest before, here he’s unable to shake the feeling they’re being watched.
The roof tiles of the battlement look like they’ve been crushed, a few of them lying in scattered pieces across the cobblestone of the bridge, like something impossibly heavy had stepped on them before kicking them aside.
They pass through the imposing arch, the iron gates mangled and twisted where they hang off their rusted hinges, as if some kind of huge force blew them open long ago. The inner courtyard must have once been pristine, Hank thinks, only now it’s fallen into ruin along with the rest of the castle. The flagstone is cracked, and more pieces of rubble from the battlements and flanking towers lay scattered at random, creating a maze for Hank and Shaw to pick their way through. The flowerbeds and planters are empty, the dried husks of their former occupants long since turned to dust, and what must once have been a magnificent fountain is half crushed, the only discernable part of the statue that must have stood on top now merely a long, outstretched arm lying twenty paces away. All of the fingers save for one are missing, the hand appearing to be pointing back towards the front gates, as if to warn them to turn away and go back.
Shaw ignores the great hall and the other lesser towers, making straight for the main keep. “The prince will be kept in the highest part of the tallest tower,” he says, his voice echoing unnaturally loud around the abandoned courtyard. “Do you think he sees us coming, Henry?” His eyes are feverish now, his pace quickening so Hank nearly has to jog to keep up. “Do you think he’ll go down on his knees to thank us for rescuing him?”
Maybe that’s why it feels like they’re being watched, Hank thinks to himself rather than answering. Perhaps there really is a prince, waiting for someone to come and rescue him from his ruined castle.
But if there’s a prince, is there also a dragon?
Shaw kicks open the rotting oak doors of the main keep with a loud bang, and in a wild moment of adrenaline Hank nearly forgets his place and almost shouts at his master angrily for making such a loud noise; they might as well trumpet their arrival from the top of the watchtower and alert anyone within fifty leagues of their presence. After a moment, however, it becomes clear their only greeting will be more heavy silence, and Hank swallows down his words. His nerves remain frazzled, however, and he jumps when the doors swing shut behind them with another echoing thud.
“Light a torch,” Shaw commands, and Hank fumbles for his kindling for a few moments in the dark, biting his tongue to hold back muttered curses. Fortunately Shaw deigns to help, lifting a torch from its bracket on the wall nearby and holding it out so Hank can strike his flintstone above it.
Just as he’s begun to think the torch is too old, all the oil dried up or turned to slag, one of his sparks ignites and catches, and he has to leap backwards as the fire springs to life. Shaw holds the torch up high above their heads, casting the bright glow as far around them as far as it can reach, revealing the dilapidated interior of the keep.
Like the courtyard outside, Hank imagines it once was a grand sight to behold. The ceiling is high and arched, and he can just barely make out the faded paint of old designs crossing every which way above them. Stone columns line the long hall they’ve entered, just barely supporting the ceiling as many of their bases have begun to crumble—the one closest to them no longer stands at all, just barely visible beneath a large pile of rubble from the part of the ceiling that had caved in above it when it fell. Faded tapestries hang down from the walls, ripped and torn in some places and completely shredded in others, and Hank wonders what kind of wind can tear through woven cloth like daggers.
There’s a heavy, musky scent in the air, but beneath it Hank can smell the smokey remnants of a fire, like much of the keep had been burned long ago. Maybe the kitchens caught fire one night and the flames grew out of hand too quickly to control, and that’s the true source of the rumored dragon. The silence here is more oppressive, with a distinct edge—in the forest it had been observant, but here it is malevolent, waiting to strike. Hank suppresses a shudder and for the first time, considers asking to leave.
But Shaw is not to be robbed of his prize, clambering over the rubble and making for the staircase at the other end of the hall. Hank has no choice but to follow, swearing to himself that as soon as they return from this place he’ll request to be knighted and be done with his mad master forever. Surely two years of serving as squire is more than enough.
Climbing up the stairs is a long and arduous task. Many of the steps are missing entirely, large holes opening like chasms in midair and proving difficult to cross, especially when it’s more than five steps in a row. At one point they’re forced to lay a single beam of wood across an entire landing’s worth of space, walking carefully across it one at a time. Hank keeps his balance, but only because he doesn’t dare look down—they’re nearly five stories up. Other steps cave in as soon as a boot comes into contact with them, and more than once Hank experiences the heart-jolting alarm of his entire leg suddenly dropping down into the staircase with a loud crash, terrified the rest of the fragile structure will collapse too and send them plunging to their deaths.
Shaw bypasses all other floors of the keep, refusing to stop until they’ve finally reached the top of the stairs, emerging at last onto the top floor landing. There’s only one, single door ahead of them, and to Hank’s bewilderment there’s a soft glow of light emanating from the cracks around it, like someone has lit a small hearth fire within. When they’d been outside and down on the ground, there’d been no visible light at all anywhere in the keep.
Before he can voice this, however, Shaw shoves his torch into an empty bracket on the wall and urges forward to push open the door, and Hank has no choice but to continue to follow.
What greets his eyes as soon as they’ve adjusted to the light is shocking, and it takes his brain a few seconds to catch up and process what he’s seeing.
The room they stand in is small, with a single arched window looking down at the courtyard and moat below. It’s in just as much disrepair as the rest of the castle, the rug faded and threadbare beneath their boots, but Hank hardly has enough capacity to take in the rest of the minor details when standing before them, stark naked, with his hands stretched above his head and chained at shoulder-width apart on a long, horizontal bar embedded into the walls, is the prince.
Later Hank will describe the sensation as his entire mind flickering like a tiny, dying flame, sputtering to almost a near halt. In the present, all he’s able to do is stare at the prince, drinking in the sight of him with roving, shameless eyes.
The prince is ethereal in the warm glow of the firelight, the flames themselves crackling softly on a small grate somewhere behind him, his naked flesh tempting enough for Hank to feel a strong, welling desire to touch, wanting desperately to covet the soft, smooth skin. Chained as he is, the prince is utterly on display—standing is too kind of a term, since the bar his wrists are bound to is set just high enough above the prince to force him up onto the very tips of his bare toes, thin torso stretched to its limits and thigh muscles straining to keep himself upright rather than hanging limply. It’s an awkward position, especially with how his legs are oddly spread wide even though Hank can’t see anything anchoring his feet in place.
Vivid blue eyes watch them warily, frozen in place as if shocked to see them, and idly Hank wonders if they’ve just missed him struggling in place, trying in vain to free himself from the cruel chains at his pale wrists. There’s a gag in his mouth, preventing him from speaking, but Hank is reminded of a newly-bridled stallion: if he weren’t so inherently regal despite his bindings, the prince would be tossing his head in frustration.
Hank even traces his gaze over the prince’s cock, pleasingly thick and nestled in neatly trimmed brown curls. He finds himself wondering what it would be like to hold the prince’s cock in his hand, to feel the weight of it, to taste the salt from the head as he stroked it to hard fullness.
The last thought jolts Hank out of his stupor, blinking several times as he comes back to himself, his awareness spreading out again instead of pinpointed down on the helpless prince.
Beside Hank, Shaw is practically salivating. The prince watches as the knight stalks forward, holding his position stiffly as Shaw begins to circle him slowly, a wolf circling a deer just before it goes in for the kill.
“What a magnificent creature,” Shaw breathes into the silence, sickeningly reverent, eyes tracing over the prince with hot desire. Hank remains rooted to the spot in the doorway, still mentally grappling with what he’s seeing. “Perfectly proportioned...perfectly unblemished...perfectly—oh.”
He comes to a stop when he’s directly behind the prince, lips curling up into a lecherous smirk. Shaw reaches forward, and from the angle they’re at Hank can’t see what he does but a moment later the prince jerks against his bonds, squeezing his eyes shut and giving a muffled moan from behind his gag. Hank’s mouth goes oddly dry when he sees the prince’s cock give a tiny jump.
“Now who is responsible for your predicament?” Shaw purrs, plastering himself along the prince’s back. His one hand remains hidden from Hank’s sight but Shaw wraps his other arm around the prince’s torso, sliding his hand upwards along the prince’s exposed belly and smoothing across his straining chest. Hank watches, mesmerized, as Shaw traces one finger tantalizingly around one of the prince’s rosy nipples, swallowing as the little bud grows pert and stiff while the prince squirms under Shaw’s ministrations. “Who trussed you up so prettily—it’s simple, but it looks so good on you, your highness—and left you hanging with such a large plug inside your ass?”
The prince shudders and moans again, rocking back and forth with what little leverage has been left to him and Hank realizes Shaw’s other hand must be on the base of a plug, a plug pushed up inside the prince’s hole, and Hank can imagine it, can picture it nestled between the prince’s round buttcheeks, sticking out just far enough for someone else to grab ahold and twist—
Hank is snapped back out of the thick haze of arousal somehow permeating the room when the prince’s eyes snap back open again, brow furrowed desperately as he meets Hank’s gaze, silently pleading. Hank shakes his head as if to clear it, and then strides across the room.
“For god’s sake, let him down,” he says to his master, the most impertinent he’s ever been directly to Shaw’s face in two years as his squire. He bats Shaw’s hand away from the prince’s nipple and reaches up to pull the gag out of the prince’s mouth as gently as he can, extracting what turns out to be a simple square of silk cloth from between red lips and letting it drop to the floor.
Shaw’s eyes have narrowed, watching Hank with hawk-like shrewdness from over the prince’s shoulder, but he says nothing as the prince coughs, pink tongue darting out to lick at his lips and rendering them even redder. Hank tries not to stare, but it’s hard not to, in the face of such pure, pristine beauty here in the middle of desolated ruin.
“Thank you,” the prince says, voice hoarse from disuse. Hank looks around but sees nothing that could possibly be holding water to offer as a drink, so he digs out his own flask, holding it up to the prince’s lips.
“Drink as much as you’d like,” Hank says, and the prince seems thirsty enough not to argue, drawing in long, deep draughts from the flask while Hank holds it carefully level for him, not even seeming to mind when a little flows out over his chin. “My name is Henry, son of Lord Norton of House McCoy,” Hank says as the prince drinks, “but you can call me Hank. I am squire to Ser Sebastian Shaw. We’re here to rescue you.”
“Yes,” Shaw says, unwinding himself from where he’s still wrapped around the prince from behind. He circles back around in front of the prince, pressing uncomfortably close up against Hank’s side. “We’re here to rescue you. Though I’m afraid,” he says with another slow, mad smile, “it comes at a certain price.”
The prince tilts his head back when he’s done drinking, and Hank tucks his flask away, using the motion to hide how he also inches sideways away from Shaw. “I am Prince Charles Xavier,” he answers, meeting Shaw’s gaze levelly for all he’s at a complete disadvantage and at their utter mercy. “If you can rescue me from this place, you can do anything you want with me.”
“Anything?” Shaw prods, but his smirk has already turned triumphant—he knows he’s won.
“Anything,” Charles answers, deliberately drawing the syllables out in his slight accent, and for a moment Hank is furiously, burningly jealous the promise isn’t being made to him but then he blinks and it’s like he’s walked into a room but forgotten what he’s looking for.
Shaw smiles widely, reaching forward to fist a hand in the prince’s soft, brown hair and pulling him forward into a rough kiss. Hank forces himself to look away though he isn’t able to block out the small whimper Charles makes, and Hank can’t tell if it’s out of pain or something else. His gaze lands on a small, rickety side table tucked against one wall and a dull gleam catches his eye.
“Deal,” Shaw says a moment later as Hank walks over to the little table and picks up the golden key sitting on its surface.
“Is this the key?” Hank asks, turning around and holding it up for Charles to see.
“Yes,” Charles says quickly, his eyes darting between Shaw, Hank, and the key. “That will unlock the chains at my wrists. Hurry and let me down, we don’t have much more time.”
“Much more time?” Hank asks slowly, even as he begins to drift back over.
“What’s the rush?” Shaw asks, making a swipe for the key but Hank pulls it back out of his reach just in time, closing his fist around it. Shaw’s eyes glitter, but he looks to Charles instead. “We could have quite a bit of fun with your...current position, before we go.”
“How do you think I wound up in this position?” Charles remains outwardly calm, but Hank can tell he very much wants the key. “I’m the bait.”
“Bait,” Shaw repeats, clearly disbelieving.
“For what?” Hank asks, very real dread beginning to creep up his spine.
“Surely you heard the tales, if you came out so far this way,” Charles answers, blue eyes boring holes through both of them, “surely you know a dragon rules this castle.”
There’s a moment’s pause of silence, during which Hank nearly expects a dragon to come bursting through the ceiling with a powerful blast of flames, but Shaw is the one to break it, giving a short laugh and scoffing, “A dragon?”
“You’re the one who was talking about slaying it all the way here,” Hank snaps at him, shoving past him to begin fumbling with the key and the locks on the chains around Charles’ wrists, “don’t pretend you don’t believe there’s one now when it’s just been confirmed.” His own skepticism has vanished completely. If Charles, the fabled prince who has turned out to be very real says there’s a dragon, then Hank believes without a doubt the dragon is real too and has no desire to meet it.
“It must be just an exaggeration,” Shaw says with a laugh, but a glance backwards shows Hank the knight has rested one hand on the pommel of his sword uneasily.
“Do you want me, Ser Sebastian?” Charles asks softly as Hank frees one of his wrists and starts working on the other. “Do you wish to claim me as your own? As your prize?”
“Yes,” Shaw answers at once, and Hank almost mouths the word along with him.
“I belong to the dragon,” Charles says, and Hank wonders if Shaw also feels the hot wash of jealousy twisting in his chest at the words, “he’s already put his claim on me. If he comes back and sees you trying to take me—his most treasured possession—away from him, then he will kill you. Just as he has all the others.”
“You’re mine,” Shaw snaps, voice rising in blind rage, “no one else can have you. I’ll kill anyone who touches you.” He shoves Hank aside just as the second lock clicks open, freeing the prince from his bindings.
Charles settles slowly down onto his feet, lowering his arms and rubbing gently at his wrists. Since he’s no longer forced into a position where his entire body is stretched out, Hank realizes the prince is shorter even than Shaw, so Hank towers over them both. He’d always thought it’d be easy to overpower Shaw with his height advantage, and in this place it’d be child’s play to send him toppling from the the stairs and plunging to his death. Then Hank would have Charles all to himself, who would fit so perfectly tucked against his chest…
“Here,” Hank says quickly before Shaw can think to offer, stripping off the tunic he wears over his shirt, “you can have this.”
“Thank you, Hank,” Charles says, accepting the tunic even though he seems to be unabashed about his nudity. Hank feels something close to animalistic satisfaction to see the prince wearing something of his, the tunic loose on the prince’s lithe body. It’s worth Shaw’s hateful glare.
“Would you like some help,” Hank continues haltingly, ignoring his master, “to, ah...take out the...plug?”
“Leave it in,” Shaw orders, snatching the prince by the wrist and tugging him away towards the door, “it doesn’t come out until I’m ready to replace it with my cock.”
Charles stumbles after him for a pace or two before he recovers, straightening. “As you wish,” he says calmly, and Hank is forced to follow them both out onto the landing. From this angle Hank can see the delicious curve of Charles’ ass, just visible beneath the fringe of the borrowed tunic. He can also make out the bulge of the end of the plug, and finds himself wanting to close the distance between them and ruck the tunic the rest of the way up to get a better look at the plug, perhaps touch it, and tease Charles with it just as Shaw had, twisting it inside him to draw out another one of those moans…
Hank blinks as Charles and Shaw start down the stairs, Shaw grabbing his torch again off the wall with his free hand and pulling the prince along. Shaw is saying things, telling the prince all of his grand plans, but Hank pointedly keeps his focus on their surroundings. There’s something strangely alluring about the prince, even though Charles doesn’t seem to be actively inviting the attention, and Hank would rather keep an eye out for the dragon than be caught up in this strange lust.
It’s hard, though. Hank’s never laid with anyone before, not even one of the nice serving boys or girls at any of the inns he’s visited with his master during their travels. He catches himself thinking how it would feel to have Charles under him, or over him—
Somehow they make it back down to the main hall of the keep, though in his haze Hank can’t remember a single step he took on the stairs. It’s exceptionally lucky none of them fell to their deaths, he thinks, perturbed, as they pass by the towering columns towards the oak doors. Ahead of him, Shaw has yet to relinquish his grip on Charles but the prince keeps up with his pace, following along behind him without hesitation despite how he’s padding along on bare feet on the rubble-strewn floor.
They’re going to have to figure out a way of carrying him through the forest, Hank thinks, increasing the length of his strides to catch up with them, or otherwise Charles’ feet will be torn to pieces by the time they reach the other side.
The silence is still eerie and oppressive as they begin to cross the courtyard. Wherever the dragon is, it’s not here. Maybe it’s sleeping, or maybe it’s off on a hunt and won’t be back for hours. Either way, they’ve been handed the perfect opportunity to put as much distance between themselves and the castle hopefully long before the dragon even realizes his prize is missing.
Just as he has the thought, the pressure in the air changes. The sun might not be shining brightly, still obscured by thick, heavy clouds, but Hank still feels the shadow pass by overhead and all three of them freeze in their tracks.
A huge buffet of wind almost knocks Hank off his feet as the dragon swoops by low over their heads, leathery wings nearly long enough to reach either end of the wide courtyard. The dragon lands on top of the barbican in front of them, in between the two watchtowers. Its powerful tail drapes down long enough to brush the ground below, the very end tipped with three jaggedly lethal spikes as long as Shaw’s sword. Smaller spikes run up the ridge of the tail and the dragon’s huge back and snakelike neck, stopping just below the base of its skull. Its head is framed by a frill of spikes, the same deep, midnight blue color of the rest of its scales, and at the crown of its skull are two spiraling horns large enough to skewer a boar.
Hank remains rooted to the spot as the dragon turns itself around, moving gracefully despite its massive bulk, folding its wings neatly across its back and wheeling its head around while digging its massive claws into the stone as easily as Hank might sink his fingers into butter. It looks down at them with huge, viciously intelligent eyes the color of jade, and Hank doesn’t miss how it hones in on the prince at once with the precision of a predator. Slowly, deliberately, the dragon opens its mouth in a silent snarl to reveal an endless amount of teeth, their pearly white sheen standing out brightly despite the gloom.
“Do something,” Charles says to them, tearing his gaze away from dragon to look at Shaw, eyes wide. He licks his lips slowly. “Aren’t you here to rescue me?”
The plea spurs Shaw into action, and the knight finally drops his hold on Charles. Tossing the torch aside, Shaw draws his sword, pointing the tip brazenly up at the dragon and striding forwards several paces. Hank can only gape at his back—Shaw may be mad, but when it comes down to it Shaw is too self-absorbed and cowardly to ever actually risk his life. Perhaps the same strange waves of lust Hank has been experiencing ever since they found the prince have finally driven Shaw into pure recklessness at last.
“Dragon!” Shaw shouts, his voice booming through the courtyard. The dragon’s eyes slide over to focus on him unblinkingly, and without thought Hank takes a large step backwards. “Your reign of terror is at an end!”
“Hank,” Charles murmurs, sliding over to stand beside him. He takes Hank’s hand, and pulls him sideways, so they’re no longer standing directly behind Shaw. “Come this way.”
“I’m going to kill you,” Shaw continues to shout up at the dragon, unaware his allies have abandoned him. “They’ll call me Dragonslayer and I’ll sit on a throne made of your bones!”
Hank’s feet feel heavy and leaden at first as he allows Charles to tow him over to the far wall, but the further away they get from the knight, the faster the noxious cloud of fear around Hank begins to clear, able to think clearly again. If Shaw keeps the dragon distracted long enough, maybe he and Charles can escape across the moat and into the woods. If the dragon wants the prince back alive, it won’t risk burning down the trees in order to find them. Hank and Charles can hide for as long as it takes, and slowly make their way from the castle in the meantime. There won’t be any need for Hank to fight the dragon if he can outsmart it instead.
And then he’ll have Charles all to himself.
“I’m going to marry your prince, dragon!” Shaw taunts, taking another step forward. “ I’m going to fuck him until he screams, and he’ll be mine—”
It starts as a low rumble, the ground vibrating as if the earth is beginning to quake, but then it rises into a snarl, and Hank realizes the sound is coming from the dragon. The snarl grows louder and louder and Shaw’s words are swallowed before he’s finished speaking, drowned out by an earsplitting roar that nearly causes Hank’s eyes to roll back into his head out of pure terror, as if he’s nothing more than a mindless beast struck dumb by fear.
The dragon launches itself from its perch, dropping down to the ground on all fours in front of Shaw. Even at a distance the impact sends Hank reeling backwards, and he windmills his arms with a cry, grabbing onto Charles in hopes of steadying himself. But Charles is already unbalanced too, and Hank merely ends up dragging Charles down with him as he pitches backwards to land hard on his back on the unforgiving flagstone, breath knocked out of his lungs.
Charles lands on top of him, and Hank automatically throws an arm behind Charles’ back to keep him pressed down against his chest even as he cranes his neck up to find out what’s happening on the other side of the courtyard.
It’s a short show. Shaw barely has time to scream before the dragon opens its jaws wide and unleashes a searingly bright jet of flames directly where the knight stands, the heat of the fire borderline unbearable even where Hank lies watching helplessly. In less than a second, his master is reduced to ashes. There’s nothing left.
Then the dragon turns its head and looks straight at Hank.
“It’s coming,” Hank says blankly, paralyzed with fear as the dragon begins to cross the courtyard. “It’s coming,” he repeats even though Charles has to know; there’s no way he isn’t feeling each ground-shaking step the dragon takes as it approaches them at an almost leisure slow pace—it knows they have no way to escape. It knows it’s won.
“You have to run, Hank,” Charles says urgently, shifting on top of him. He tries to sit up but in his panic Hank only grips him tighter, refusing to let him go.
The dragon towers over them, impossibly real and impossibly enormous, taking up the whole of Hank’s vision. It reaches down with its front claws, and for one terrifying moment Hank thinks it means to step on them and crush them to death, but the dragon merely wraps its talons around Charles and rips him out of Hank’s grasp.
“Charles!” Hank shouts as the force of it actually lifts him back up to his feet, swaying and watching in horror as the dragon closes its claws around the prince like a vise—not tight enough to crush or impale him, but there’s definitely no way to separate Charles from the dragon now.
Hank is coming to the realization there never was.
“Run, Hank!” Charles shouts again from within the confines of the dragon’s unbreakable hold, and this time Hank doesn’t even think to hesitate.
He runs, sprinting for the open, empty archway leading out onto the moat, ignoring the painful stitch in his side and not looking back even as he braces himself for the white-hot agony of flames overtaking him from behind. It never comes, and Hank makes it all the way across the stone bridge over the moat, hurtling into the trees of the forest and sparing only a brief, fleeting thought of silent apology to Charles for not being enough to rescue him.
His regret isn’t strong enough to guilt him into turning back, however, and as Hank continues to run blindly through the forest, he swears to himself he’s finished with any dreams of knighthood for good. He’ll go home, and take up an apprenticeship with the scribes, or better yet, return to his parents and finally allow his father to groom him for taking up the lordship of House McCoy.
It’s at this point his foot slips on a stone hidden beneath the dirt and Hank loses his footing, sent flying, and then his head hits something hard and everything goes dark.
“Let him run, Erik,” Charles says, watching the gangly squire sprint towards what he thinks is safety and freedom. The claws around him are tight against his ribs, but Erik is always meticulously careful about how he holds Charles, so he knows he’s relatively safe from being shredded to pieces. “You already roasted the other one alive, which I explicitly told you not to do.”
He smelled rotten, I did the world a favor, the dragon answers dismissively, blowing out a large swath of smoke from his nostrils.
Charles frowns at him. “If we’re going to keep playing this game, Erik, I won’t abide by you killing everyone who comes here.”
Erik brings his snout down low, baring his teeth in Charles’ face. He was trying to claim you as his own. Do you realize how offensive that is?
“The whole point of this exercise is dependent on their lust, unless you’ve forgotten,” Charles says flatly, unimpressed by the fangs inches from his eyes. “We agreed it was necessary to make them feel as if they truly had a chance of winning me.”
This one went too far, Erik rumbles, lashing his tail angrily. It knocks into a pile of rubble and sends boulder-sized chunks of stone flying. You’re mine, Charles, unless you’ve forgotten.
Charles strokes his hand across Erik’s nose gently with a sigh. He’s well aware he’s playing with the proverbial fire, as it was, in asking Erik to go along with all of this the first place. Dragons are so touchy about what they view as their treasure. “Of course I’m yours. There’s never been any doubt about that, darling.”
Erik’s growling finally tickers off, his claws shifting around Charles slightly. Good.
“You promised not to kill anyone,” Charles adds matter-of-factly, “and if you do it again, don’t expect me to sleep with you ever again.”
Your pacifism is going to be the death of me, Erik mutters, but then pushes his nose into Charles’ chest, green eyes half-lidded. But you’re not withholding it this time, I see. Mayhap you’re not as saintly as you like to think you are.
“You’d better hurry up before I change my mind,” Charles says pointedly, even as he twists a little in Erik’s grip, acutely aware again of the thick plug in his ass stretching him open. He’s been wearing it all day, and he’s ready for the relief of being filled with something more, preferably courtesy of Erik.
Needing no further encouragement, Erik unfurls his wings, tightening his grip on Charles slightly and in one powerful downstroke they leap into the air, rising up above the ruined castle, higher even than the jagged turrets. The wind whistles past Charles’ ears loudly as Erik takes them higher still, gliding away from the old castle and slicing upward through the clouds, bursting out into bright sunlight and winging towards the fortress tucked away up on the nearby mountainside, impossible to see from below or reach on foot.
Unlike the castle below, the fortress appears brand new, as if it had only been built yesterday. Solid gold bricks gleam in the sunlight, diamonds and other precious jewels glimmering from where they’ve been inlaid in huge mosaic patterns along the tops of walls and towers, nearly blinding with light and splendor. The fortress seems worlds away from the castle below rather than a single minute by dragonflight, and Charles used to pretend they’d crossed some kind of invisible boundary into a new world just by breaking through the clouds.
Erik soars towards his kingdom, bypassing empty battlements and watchtowers, heading directly towards the wide, open balcony situated at the top of the tallest keep. He alights on the edge, gently setting Charles down and letting go of him so Charles is free to walk inside, crossing the balcony and ducking through sheer, feather-light curtains in the large doorway rustling gently in the breeze to step into Erik’s private chambers.
Like any dragon, Erik is obsessed with gold and treasure, and it shows. An entire mountain of gold fills the keep tower like grain in a farmer’s silo, and Charles walks across a flattened trail of gold coins to reach the center of the room, where Erik’s only piece of furniture is squeezed in between two taller piles of riches: a bed large enough for ten.
Charles crawls up onto the soft sheets and sprawls himself out carelessly to wait, pleasantly full and sated from today’s little diversion down at the castle. The foolhardy knight’s lust and his squire’s delicious jealousy will be enough to fuel Charles’ powers for a month at least, so he can keep up the wards around the castle and surrounding forest, and keep all humans away except for those he chooses to purposefully lure in. It’s so easy to bait them, and ramp up their petty emotions by putting himself on tantalizing display in order to gorge himself on their heightened desires.
Erik might not like to share, but at least he’s always ready for the chance to tie Charles up. They have a very symbiotic relationship, he and Erik, and they make a good match, as dragon and succubus, even though Erik still has a hard line as to how much he’s actually willing to share Charles—but that’s okay. Charles likes it.
He spreads his legs, arching his back in a lazy stretch and thrusting his hips upwards once or twice against the wonderful fullness of the plug inside him. It’s pressed into him deeply, filling him up and stretching his hole open wide for better things to come. It makes for a good tease, a slow burn of drawn-out pleasure while he deals with the mundane routine of restocking his powers, and plus it always serves to make the humans’ hormones skyrocket at the prospect, their brains conjuring up all kinds of fantasies at finding a helpless little prince all chained up with a plug up his ass, waiting as if giftwrapped.
Charles turns his face sideways into the sheets to grin, sliding one hand down to pull idly at his cock while continuing to roll his hips. The perils of having to rely on human desire and lust to fuel his magic—it always leaves him feeling unbearably horny, but at least he has Erik.
Erik, who comes into sight again at last. He’s shifted into his human form, as Charles likes to think of it, though there’s still no mistaking Erik’s true nature. Erik is human-sized and even human-shaped, but he still has his curling horns and leathery wings—smaller than when he’s in his natural body, but still large and powerful enough to fly with—and his scaly tail, whispering softly across the gold as it drags behind him. He stops at the side of the bed, watching Charles with a predatory laziness stemming directly from the kind of confidence only a dragon in the midst of his hoard could possess: he knows he’s king here in his domain.
Bending his knees and planting his feet flat on the mattress, Charles spreads his legs even wider and gives Erik an unobstructed view of the end of the plug coming out of his ass, throwing his free arm haphazardly up over his head while with the other he continues to stroke his hardening cock. If Erik were human, Charles thinks as he meets Erik’s hungry gaze with hooded eyes, he’d never have to worry about his power reserves dipping low, as the levels of Erik’s lust for Charles would likely be enough to sustain him indefinitely. But for whatever reason the inane laws of magic require human energy to function, so not even a mighty dragon is enough.
“I’m still upset with you,” Charles says, just so they’re clear, “but I’ve needed you inside me ever since you bent me over your lap this morning to work this plug into my ass. I’m so full, Erik, but it’s not enough, I need more— ”
In the blink of an eye Erik’s on him with a low growl, pushing in between Charles’ legs and ranging over him so they’re eye-to-eye. The front of his torso is soft human skin, radiating heat at this close proximity, and he snatches up both of Charles’ wrists and pins them to the sheets above Charles’ head, holding him down trapped in a similar position to the one he’d left Charles in at the castle. Charles shudders, rocking upwards, and at the same time Erik grinds down against him, pressing Charles down beneath him exactly how he wants.
“Let’s see,” Erik says, using human vocal chords this time to speak, “get rid of this, first.” His tail snakes forward, curling around his body to hook one razor-sharp spike into the front of Charles’ borrowed tunic, and with a loud ripping sound he tears the fabric open, shredding it like parchment.
“That was a gift,” Charles admonishes, but laughs at Erik’s unimpressed expression, wiggling a little while the dragon tears the ruined tunic off of him.
“I’ll dress you in gold,” Erik says. He tosses the fabric up into the air and spits out a bright spurt of flames, reducing the garment to ashes in seconds; they rain down in a fine sprinkling of dust that Erik sweeps away with his tail. “You deserve better than rags.” His disdain for the even the mere word is clear, and Charles would laugh again if he weren’t more interested in moving things along.
“I deserve to be paid attention to,” he reminds Erik pointedly, squeezing Erik’s hips with his knees for emphasis.
“Is this what you want?” Erik braces himself with one strong arm on the bed beside Charles’ head and reaches down with his other arm between them to grasp the end of the plug, carefully working it out past the thickest part where it’s shaped to hold itself in Charles’ ass once pushed in. Erik pulls it out slightly before beginning to slide it back and forth, in and out of Charles’ ass, to make Charles moan. He plays with it for a few moments, fucking Charles teasingly with the plug, and at the same time ducks down to mouth at Charles’ throat, sucking at his pulse point and scraping his teeth across the tender flesh.
Charles twists and writhes beneath him, rocking up against the sensation as much as he can with Erik bearing down on him. The motion of the plug is better than the solid length of it sitting motionless in his ass, but it’s still frustratingly not enough, and Charles strains against the solid weight of Erik above him, trying to find the leverage to buck his hips up higher so he can take the plug in deeper and get it to press against the spot inside him he knows will light up every single nerve ending in his body.
Abruptly Erik sits back, and then Charles feels Erik let go of his wrists and the plug in favor of pushing Charles’ knees all the way apart until his thighs lay splayed wide open, flat against the bed, leaving Charles with no leverage whatsoever. Erik presses one hand down on Charles’ chest while he uses the other to grip the plug again, and then he begins to fuck Charles with the toy in earnest, moving it in and out of him relentlessly.
Charles cries out as he’s forced to lie there and take it, unable to even lift his hips up or close his legs as Erik keeps him perfectly pinned. It’s the worst kind of aching tease, his chest flushing red beneath Erik’s hand and his cock standing up straight against his belly, fully hard and sticky with precome as he fists his hands in the sheets and gasps for air.
“This will get you nice and open,” Erik murmurs, even as his hand picks up speed, “though it’s not like you need it. You’re so eager for it, Charles. No human would ever be able to satisfy you.”
Batting at the hand on his chest, Charles tries arch his back and push Erik’s arm away even as his entire body quivers at the pace of the plug moving in and out of his ass, trying to clench down on it for some kind of relief from the teasing ache but unable to, strung out on pure sensation. Continuous moans fall from his lips and he’s certain he sounds utterly obscene, but he knows it’s just how Erik likes it—his greatest treasure, lost in the throes of pleasure beneath him.
With every thrust of the plug, Charles can feel the bubbled surface of it rubbing against his inner walls still slick from this morning, and the rigid length of it lacks the slight give of regular flesh. Erik had put it in him so carefully this morning, fucking Charles open himself and coming inside him before pulling Charles across his lap and slowly working the plug into his ass, using the mixture of oil and his come as lubrication.
When Charles gives up on arching and reaches for Erik instead, Erik obliges, leaning down to kiss him, heated and sloppy. Charles barely has a chance to draw in another breath, kissing Erik back while sliding his hands up Erik’s shoulders where skin melds into the same deep, midnight blue scales Erik has in his normal form. Digging his fingers into the twin ridges of Erik’s shoulders he sucks on Erik’s tongue and clenches down on the plug as hard as he can, so Erik’s fingers slip off the end, unable to move it back and forth.
Charles pulls back a hairsbreadth and whispers right against Erik’s lips, “Fuck me now, Lord Dragon.”
Erik’s wings unfurl with a loud snap, lifting up over his head to cover them both like a protective canopy. He tilts his head forward, brushing his lips against Charles’ chastely, the sudden tenderness like the calm in the center of a storm. “As you wish.”
With one last careful slide, Erik pulls the plug out of Charles’ ass, and Charles clenches down on empty air this time, whining at the loss. Erik gentles him, sliding the hand on Charles’ chest up to smooth back Charles’ hair off his forehead and kissing him again, all while shifting on the bed above him to reposition himself. Charles straightens his legs briefly, stretching until he hears his knees creak and then when he feels the huge, blunt pressure of Erik’s cock pressing against his hole, he slides his feet up along Erik’s tail and wraps his legs around Erik’s waist.
Erik’s cock is longer and thicker than the plug but fortunately lacks dragon scales, nothing but smooth human skin slicked with precome. The plug has loosened Charles’ hole, however, and he’s still wet from earlier. Erik only has to line himself up and push in, watching rapturously as Charles’ mouth falls open wide at the stretch of Erik’s cock sliding home.
Their chests are plastered together, and when Erik bends his neck down to lick at one of Charles’ nipples while he waits for Charles to adjust to the cock in his ass, Charles lifts one hand shakily to grab onto one of Erik’s horns, shivering at the feeling of Erik’s clever tongue circling the sensitive little bud and the full-to-bursting sensation of Erik’s cock buried inside him at last.
“Move,” he orders, voice thin and wavering, and lets go of Erik’s horn as the dragon tilts his head back up to grin at him.
“I’ll take care of you, Charles,” he says, rolling his hips forward until Charles gasps, “I always take good care of what’s mine.”
“You already have your claim,” Charles answers breathlessly, clinging onto Erik tightly and willing his body to adjust to the sparks of pleasure-pain dancing up his spine as the massive head of Erik’s cock drags along the inner walls of his ass. “Just fuck me how I need it.”
“Nothing like a good renewal,” Erik drawls, eyes glittering, and then begins to move, pulling back before snapping his hips forward, cutting off any chance of Charles replying.
Charles’ eyes flutter shut with a ragged moan as Erik picks up the pace, nailing the same sweet spot inside him on every forward thrust, causing stars to burst behind his lids in pleasure. He tightens his grip on Erik’s waist, holding on for dear life as Erik fucks him exactly how he’s been waiting for all day, ever since he’d been bent over Erik’s lap this morning and teased open by Erik’s long, dexterous fingers. He can’t even remember what it felt like to be touched by the knight; all he knows is Erik, all that matters is Erik, and the way his body moves against Charles’.
Charles feels his supercharged powers resonating between them, not feeding off of Erik’s lust as it would a human’s but amplifying it, turning it into a great swell of heady ecstasy that sweeps them both under its influence. The air is filled with Erik’s harsh gasps as he fucks Charles relentlessly, hard and fast while Charles chokes out a moan on every forward thrust, knowing the sound will only drive Erik wilder.
“He said he’d fuck you until you screamed,” Erik hisses, lips drawn back in a snarl as he snaps his hips forward again and again. “The only name you’ll ever scream is mine.”
“I could moan your name,” Charles answers with a breathless laugh, but then Erik adjusts his angle and Charles really does moan, gasping out, “Erik—Erik—”
Teeth scrape against his throat again as Erik buries his face in the juncture of Charles’ neck and shoulder, scenting him and pressing open-mouthed kisses to his skin feverishly, too aroused to even answer properly.
Charles thrusts up against Erik, rocking his body forward so every thrust pushes Erik’s cock so deeply inside him he can nearly taste it, his own leaking cock trapped between them and smearing sticky wetness everywhere. He wants to come like this, untouched and driven nearly out of his mind by intense pleasure, and Charles can feel the pressure of their oncoming releases building up and up and up until he’s practically ready to explode.
“You’re mine,” Erik hisses, accenting each word with a thrust of his cock hard enough to make Charles choke out a whimper, “and no one can take you from me.”
“I’m yours,” Charles promises, and Erik snarls again in affirmation, “you have me, my Erik, my king—”
Erik’s whole body flexes and then he comes with a shudder, wings spreading open wide once more and sinking down to the root in Charles, a hot wash of come splattering inside him. It’s too much, and just enough to push Charles over the edge too; he comes with a loud cry shaped around the sound of Erik’s name, and clenches down around Erik, shooting off white and sticky all over their stomachs, squirming at the long, wet rush of Erik’s come filling him up, leaving him feeling dirty and used.
Charles’ legs slip from their hold around Erik’s waist, falling open limply, but Erik is slumping down too, coming to rest on top of Charles with care not to crush him. His cock remains deeply buried in Charles’ ass, still spurting off an occasional burst of come. It’ll take him a long time to soften enough to pull out, but Charles doesn’t mind. He likes the idea of Erik staying inside him, making Charles hold the come inside—a breeding tactic for male dragons, Charles has learned, usually used on female dragons to ensure a pregnancy takes. It’s useless here, but they still remain connected anyway. It’s comforting.
Nuzzling against Charles’ neck, Erik is more cat-like than dragon-like as he lazily drags his tongue and lips over the marks he’s made on Charles’ skin, giving off a low-frequency hum reminiscent of a purr in contentment. Beneath him Charles smooths his hands slowly over Erik’s shoulders and back, tracing his fingers over the surprisingly smooth scales again and again, feeling out the strong muscles of Erik’s back and where his bones begin to ridge upwards to support the joints of each base for both of his magnificent wings.
He’s dimly aware of Erik’s tail flicking slowly back and forth, and how Erik’s wings creak softly as they shift overhead. Erik’s body is hot, and Charles knows before long he’ll be sweating for reasons other than to do with sex, but right now he’s too relaxed and languid with satisfaction, shifting the tiniest bit every now and then and squeezing his ass around Erik’s cock to make it jump inside him, sated and filled in every way at last. Charles might be the crown jewel of Erik’s hoard, Erik’s most prized possession, but in turn Erik belongs to him too.
Erik’s lips meander their way up to Charles’ chin, and Charles tilts his head down for a kiss, slow and sweet. He slides one hand up Erik’s back and neck to tangle his fingers in his sweaty hair, rubbing at the base of Erik’s horns soothingly. Erik sighs into their kiss, heavy cock ejaculating more come deep inside Charles and making him shiver.
Charles could lie like this basking in the afterglow for hours, content to be kept safe and contained beneath Erik. Even so, he stretches out with his powers, reaching down the mountainside towards the forest searching for the familiar mind that brushes up against his own after only a few moments.
Hello, Irene, he greets her, familiar but respectful. It always pays to be on good terms with your neighbors. Is Raven there?
Hello, Charles. You’ve had a busy day, Irene answers, with a tinge of amusement. Seers. She is, yes.
Tell her there’s a very lovely squire lying unconscious in the woods, Charles says, we have no need for him but I think she might like him for her collection.
Generous of you. There’s a pause where Irene must be relaying this, and Charles doesn’t eavesdrop. Raven can be techy about it. A moment later Irene says, Raven is very pleased. We’ll find the boy, thank you, Charles.
Of course, Charles responds, and then carefully withdraws.
“That poor boy,” Erik says wryly, propped up on an elbow and watching Charles’ face lazily.
“Raven always takes good care of her things,” Charles says absently. He feels a kind of kinship with the blue succubus; they share natures, so it’s as if they’re basically related. It seems natural to share food, too.
“You dote on her,” Erik says, and Charles smiles, shifting beneath Erik and milking a few more drops of come from his cock as Erik hisses out a breath from between his teeth.
“I dote on you the most.”
“Good,” Erik answers, and then gives a sly grin. He begins to rock his hips again, ever so slightly, his cock sliding back and forth in the slippery come and causing some of it to leak out of Charles’ ass. “As you should. You’re mine.”
“Erik,” Charles breathes out with another shiver, squirming a little at the sensation before Erik pins him again to hold him still, holding Charles’ body open to himself. Charles loves the primal urges that drive Erik, especially after he’s tolerated Charles using himself as bait. “Again, darling?”
“Again,” Erik agrees, cock hardening inside Charles once more to a perfect, heated length, and Charles tosses his head back with an eager moan, and at this rate his powers will soon nearly be able to crackle tangibly in the air above them like lightning—there’s nothing quite in the world like a territorial dragon, and Charles is glad Erik is his.