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Penumbra

Chapter Text


 
The light


As scientists had predicted, over three centuries ago, overpopulation and overconsumption defeated planetary equilibrium. Natural disasters followed natural disasters. The democratically elected governments were struggling to find the money to resettle the victims in addition to rebuilding. They had to make cuts to all social services, provoking revolts among the people, who were being deprived of what their parents and grandparents had had before them. Draconian measures followed, one after another and people overthrew governments to put others in charge, who ended up demanding even more than their predecessors.
All the countries of the South fell into drought.

In the beginning, the southern governments bought it legally, but when water-rich countries raised their prices, the war for water began.

Nobody knows for sure if it was a microbiological attack, but a plague like no one had seen since the Middle Ages hit the entire southern hemisphere and even beyond. The second great plague was even worse than the first of the name, spreading much faster. Everything below the Tropic of Cancer was thus sacrificed, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, by missiles from an unknown Nordic country.
But it did not prevent the disease from continuing its progress, now accompanied by famine and soaring prices.

The animals became sick; the crops spoiled, and the water became unsafe. In some isolated places men waited, hiding, to kidnap children. It was said they roasted and devoured them, though no-one was sure if it was an exaggeration. The mothers didn’t want such a gritty reality for their children and many sterilized their daughters.

A heat wave came, more torrid than any previous, decimating the weakest of the survivors.
It was in the depths of these dark times- The Darkness as it had become known - that they came, when already 90% of the population had died out.
The Lumens. The divine light, in Latin. That's how they came to us. It may be said that in the great darkness, they seemed to be a providential light.
In their oval vessels, looking like titanium, shining in the sunbeams, they arrived. Twelve of them, beautiful, tall and dressed as though they were deities from Ancient Times. Men had always been weak in the face of such beauty and splendor.
The Lumens offered to stop the progress of the plague and planted seeds from their world to overcome the famine. Unforgettable, delicious cereals and fruit grew, and when the Lumens took over the reins of government some time later, none of the humans, too grateful to have been saved, opposed it.

For the Lumens, it was obvious that mankind was the main cause of its own near extinction and the ruin of the planet. The humans were an inferior and weak race which needed guidance in order to keep it from plunging back into chaos.
And this is how the Light reshaped the world in its image, proposing the humans abandon their planet.
According to them, it would take centuries for the planet to be completely habitable again and for the level of carbon dioxide to drop in the atmosphere. For its level of decrepitude, the Earth, with its remaining ten-million inhabitants was still too populated. The Lumens proposed taking twelve hundred thousand volunteers in good health with them to their planet, to lighten the burden on Earth a little.
The Lumens were very convincing, portraying their world as Paradise Lost, with a nice climate and endless sources of healthy food.
The twelve hundred thousand volunteers left, in the hope of a better future.

Chapter Text

 


 

The whole temple was in turmoil. It was the first month of the floods and the Regem of the kingdom of Theba was going to honor the temple with their presence during the seasonal ceremony.

"Adriel! Where is that ungrateful boy!?” the High Priest yelled. "The Regem will be here in less than two hours and the sacrificial pool is not cleaned yet!"

"The last time I saw him, he was feeding the beasts!" another priest, with a shaved head, replied in a hurry.

"Not again!"

The High Priest Adel tried to control his nerves. He couldn’t express his exasperation and discouragement about his own son too loudly. If he could finally manage to be obedient, Adriel would be the next high priest and therefore, Adel wanted to make sure that when the time came, his son could count on the respect of the other priests he would be called to lead. Fortunately, he often said to himself, he would be dead and unable to witness how unworthy his supposed son would be in his function.

His supposed-son was an appellation that Adel kept to himself, so not to further harm Adriel's bad reputation. But the High Priest could not believe that the boy with green eyes, a determined look, and an arrogant step, was his. He vaguely remembered the mother, a dark, indifferent woman.

There must have been some confusion, he had suggested to one of the guards.

"This boy is your son, unless you claim, High Priest, that a Lumen can be mistaken," the guard had replied with disdain.

Adel had no choice but to accept the boy as his own and take him with him to the Temple.

That had been ten years ago and his perception of the boy, who had become a young man, had not improved. Although possessing an advantageous physique, with his large size, copper-colored locks, and piercing eyes, his hot-tempered nature gave the High Priest gray hair. There wasn’t an ounce of piety in Adriel or even the most elemental respect for the Lumens. It would have been better for him to be born in the caste of the soldiers, but Adel suspected his son had too much trouble with authority for that. No, it would have been better for him to be a farmer's son since he loved animals so much. Anything would have been a better fate for Adriel than being a novice priest.

It was precisely this love of animals that the High Priest was fighting today.

At every flood ceremony, Adriel argued that an animal should not be sacrificed for these 'vampires'. Although his father attempted to express to him that it was better to please the Regem by sacrificing a spare calf or a lamb than for Adriel to lose his own life, the mule-head would not listen.

Overwhelmed already by the fight he was expecting, the High Priest slowly began to walk.

---

Adriel was gloomily watching the calf graze peacefully, in blissful ignorance of the sad fate awaiting it. Adriel understood that humans could use animals to feed themselves. Their diet was mostly vegetarian, but on special occasions, they were entitled to a meat dish, which was perceived by the human population as a great favor. Adriel could admit that chicken was a change from beans, but the fact that he owed this so-called favor to the Lumens gave the white flesh taste of ashes mingled with a bloody porridge.

The teenager clenched his fists at the thought of how the Lumens claimed humans had led the Earth to ruin and therefore rationed when healthy animals had to be sacrificed in their honor.

He kicked some pebbles furiously. How he hated them!

When he had been young, every time he disobeyed he had been threatened with being delivered to the bloodsuckers. He had been wrenched from his mother's arms at the age of seven and sent to follow in the footsteps of this man to whom he felt no affinity, for that was what the law ordered.

Now that he had matured, he could say with confidence that his mother had restrained herself from feeling real affection for him, knowing that sooner or later he would be snatched from her and that she would never see him again, according to the rules of the Lumens. He’d had no choice but to follow the tall, stern-looking man in a too-large robe to the temple.

That first trip outside the city of Theba’s breeder district had initially excited him. To walk from one caste district to another they had to go through the gates in the walls that separated the capital from the surrounding suburbs. He and the high priest had, therefore, walked through the capital’s streets from the door of the breeders to the door of the priests to join their temple.

Adriel hadn’t had enough eyes to see all the wonder surrounding him. Toward the north, a long avenue was paved with dark grey granite. Every twenty feet or so there were extensive displays of exotic flowers on each side of the public fountains carved in black marble that projected purple water. On each side were buildings designed for the pleasure of the eye, competing with each other in architectural audacity from what he could see. All the wealth and sweetness of life was exhilarating, but the High Priest had dragged him the opposite way.

"Do you know what it is to be a Priest?" the man had asked. "Have you been prepared there?" he questioned, referring to the ‘Hive’ from which Adriel came. "And, were you given a name?"

Adriel had shrugged his shoulders, too busy looking around him, drunk with all the novelties, the movement, the noise and the shimmering colors of the stalls. He had never seen so much activity and wealth. The planet’s capital, Nixpolis, was supposed to be even richer than Theba, but Adriel couldn’t imagine such luxury.

"Our job is to show the Royal Lumens our respect and gratitude and to encourage others as well. Every human who wants to honor them must go through our temple to make offerings. We must record, in a book, all the offerings, their nature, and the name and caste of the donor. So you should learn to read, write and count. You're lucky," he concluded before turning around. "I'll name you Adriel. It means ‘Servant of God’. That will please the Regem," he added with an air of contentment.

Adriel had not been happy to be given a name which was supposed to please those bloodsuckers first and foremost. He hated the Lumens, but even more the royal ones. He had heard so many tales about them whispered in the dormitory because bad-mouthing the Regem family was a crime.

A member of the royal family was easy to recognize among common Lumens. Their rich clothes, their height, their aristocratic maintenance, and their harmonious features made them stand out. They were the only ones with the right to wear gold or something of the blue color, a privilege that Adriel still didn’t understand. As for their faces, only the people of the court could pretend to have seen them, the Royals often wearing a gold mask in public, much to the disappointment of the curious crowds. But beauty wasn’t their only prerogative and they hid behind their grace and handsome figures their true diabolic nature. They drank blood, that was a true fact. Rumors circulated that the Royals could see in the dark like cats and fly like eagles. They ran like cheetahs and could make prodigious leaps. They could read minds and spoke all the dialects of the Universe. But the fiercest believers in these theories had never seen Royals in their lives and some called it mythology.

"The Royal Lumens will come to the Temple? I could see them?" Adriel had asked. He hated them, but after all the tales he had heard about them, he couldn’t help but be curious.

His new father had explained to him that their Temple wasn’t the one frequented by the royal family and the other Lumens from the Court. He had pointed out three peaks, visible to them from so far away because they were so huge.

"Those are the three main buildings of this kingdom’s capital. There you have the Palace where the Royals live and frequent the court. Then, on the other side of the river, you have the Temple of Theba. This one is frequented by the elite," he explained with a sigh. "It is three times larger than ours and enjoys the regular presence of Regem. The final one is the Pyramid," he finished, in a more serious voice, "a place where I hope you will never have to go."

Adriel had stopped with a racing heart. Even in the Hive, he had heard horror stories about the Pyramid. Humans were tortured for the Lumens' entertainment and baked on a spit to feed them. Nobody knew for sure what happened in the Pyramid but what was certain was that no human who entered had been seen again.

Unconsciously, Adriel had accelerated his pace.

Their arrival at the Temple considerably diminished Adriel's wonder. The priests' quarters were the narrowest building of all, with only a few bumpy streets around a dirty-tan, roughly pyramid-shaped building that was called the Temple.

The clay that constituted it seemed to have absorbed all the surrounding soil. The stepped sides of the building had only four levels and could not be more than forty feet high, while the capital’s temple seemed to culminate at a tremendous height and shimmered in the sunlight. It was hardly surprising that the Regem did not bother to come more than once a year!

When he was brought to his room, he saw only a straw mattress, as he had been using since birth, and the sudden lack of hope for a better life made him feel sick. He had traded one misery for another.

But over time the decor of his daily life had stopped being his primary concern. The stifling routine, the sterile lessons, and endless prayers for people he had hated since childhood revolted him. If only he could find a way to return to Earth.

But how? Assuming he could find an aircraft and miraculously start it, he knew neither how to fly nor in which direction the Earth was. Even worse, no one knew. The Lumens had taken over the care of the children in order to separate the humans from each other, and allowed them no education in terms of steering, orientation or even history.

Adriel was trapped.

He was there, lost in his dark thoughts, when a voice made him raise his head.

"Are you a priest?"

In front of him was a teenager of about the same age. He was tall, close to Adriel’s height, with jet-black hair  that cascaded down his shoulders. Beautiful eyes carved in the shape of almonds, with irises the color of liquid gold, looked at Adriel with a mocking air. The boy was wearing a light blue-gray tunic, sleeveless and reaching his mid-thigh, with a simple leather belt.

Adriel had never seen a man so unclothed and, unintentionally, his gaze lingered on the solid calves of the stranger. This guy has nice legs, he thought. Working with priests in long robes made him even more appreciative of such a sight.

"Not yet. I’m still a novice," Adriel replied too quickly, almost stuttering when he realized the other boy was watching him closely.

He didn’t want to be caught staring at him. Certainly, the district of Priests was composed only of men, but few were less than thirty and those who were younger were far from having the harmonious features of this one.

"What do you want?" he asked in a voice he hoped made him appear firm.

"Is it water that you have there?" the young man answered, ignoring Adriel's question and pointing to the gourd Adriel had at his belt. "I'm so thirsty. This trip in the dust has dried my throat."

It wasn’t an unusual request. Since they were all born in the Hive and bearing the similar fates dictated to them by the Lumens based on their parentage, Adriel considered each man as a brother, without caring about their caste. And sharing spit with a brother was natural. Lumens put them into separate castes to divide them, he knew that much, even if he was only an ignorant donkey according to his father. But Adriel refused to act as their oppressors wanted.

Adriel held out the gourd he wore at his side, but not before studying the young man again. He would have remembered this guy if he had seen him before and in a small neighborhood like the Priests’ it was impossible to not have already met. But how he could have forgotten someone who stood out so much?

"You come from another neighborhood?" he asked, watching the stranger swallowing a large swig of water. The way his mouth closed around the bottleneck mesmerizing him as well as the movements of the adam's apple as the liquid descended into the bistre-colored throat. "Which one?" he questioned.

The skin and the eyes of the stranger seemed iridescent like pieces of bronze in the sun and he had never seen anything like it. It was an appealing sight from which he couldn’t look away. Having something gorgeous to look at wasn’t something that happened to him often. Damn, they couldn’t even look at the sunset, because of the damn wall.

But where had this guy come from? He looked to be the same age as Adriel, so they were probably in the Hive at the same time but he had no memory of a boy with eyes like crafted jewels.

The black-haired boy wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, but a droplet remained at the corner and Adriel had eyes only for the boy’s lips as he listened to the answer, surprising himself with his desire to kiss them.

"Yes, another neighborhood," the boy finally replied, licking his lips clean and Adriel caught himself staring again.

At the Hive, Adriel had found the girls attractive and didn't mind the boys. When women or girls came to ceremonies, he had looked at them with envy. But the chances of a male priest ever knowing the warmth of a female body were almost nil. If he inherited his father’s position as High Priest, and satisfied the Regem, he could hope to be coupled with a woman of their choice in order to have offspring. But he preferred to just jerk off for the rest of his life rather than please those devilish creatures and act as they planned him to, like a mindless lamb to his death.

So, for physical pleasure, only men remained, even if it wasn't Adriel’s first choice.

Anyway, it was like his job or housing, or whatever. He had no choice at all, or at least very few.

But this man was more attractive than any guy or girl he had ever seen before. He looked as splendid as the gods painted on the wall of the Temple, even with his common clothes.

But this guy wasn't there randomly. It was fate, Adriel decided. It wasn't like him to believe in those kinds of fairy tales, since fairy tales were too far from their human reality, but being near such a good-looking person was making him into a believer.

Never before had he felt the urge to touch someone. But this time he could feel his fingers itching to just brush against that golden satin skin, to feel the hard muscle of the man beneath.

It wasn't taboo to desire another man, in fact, it was the only intimacy permitted under the Lumens’ laws, and he should not have felt so awkward.

Even though he would be soon a priest, he wasn’t forced into chastity, only into 'moderation', as his father had explained to him. After a few tries, he would have to find a male partner with whom he would share his bed and table, to feel less lonely. It was the only thing Adel had told him on the subject, leaving him to watch the farm animals in action at the temple to learn the mechanics.

With the Temple’s maze of corridors, Adriel had surprised other priests, who had been lifting their tunics and kissing one another breathlessly against various walls, with a huge deal of spit, each pumping the cock of the other before the dominant would bend his partner over to penetrate him.

Sex was pretty much the only real pleasure not forbidden, as long as it was between same-gender partners and Adriel swore to take advantage of it if he could find an attractive mate.

The desire to know this pleasure kept him awake at night, rubbing his own flesh raw, after coming across the first scene of its kind. But since then he had never felt a call from nature vibrant enough to act on. Some seemed to have made suggestions to him, but he chose to ignore them.

Now, at 17 years old, he knew that soon someone might venture to be more explicit. But he was tall and strong, the most muscular of all the district of Priests, and even beyond. The partner who could try to dominate him didn’t exist among men and those who would submit by nature would not dare approach him too directly, fortunately. The fact was that he had for them the same envy he had for morning gruel. Edible, but without any flavor. Nothing to seduce him once and even less to hold him for a lifetime.

But this stranger and the way he spread his long, tanned legs, crossing them and flexing them, created tingles in Adriel’s lower abdomen. The stranger’s skin looked soft and hairless, and he noticed a few dark lines that formed an intricate pattern which disappeared under the tunic's fabric.

The desire to see more, to know what the drawing represented, took Adriel. He had never seen anything like it, something drawn on the skin, except the famous code they all had tattooed on their wrist. He was burning with a desire to roll up the tunic as high as possible to see if he wore any underwear.

Those who were ‘cats’, meaning the submissive ones, didn’t wear underwear, to avoid misunderstandings and wasted time with 'jackals'. Sometimes, just to look at a man, one could guess which side he leaned to, but this stranger with fine features was very athletic and Adriel had not had the time to see him walk or move. To ask which position he favored might be even simpler but, as with everything else, seduction was an area where Adriel was ignorant. He could read and write, but only the words and names useful for making an inventory of the offerings at the temple. How to act seductively with a stranger wasn’t something he was comfortable with.

Not wanting to make himself look ridiculous, he decided to pull himself together and act normally.

"You must have come for the ceremony, is that it? You didn’t have to go to such trouble. We offer a jar of blood to those damn demons and it's over," he explained disdainfully to hide his confusion. "But I’m glad you came since I don’t get to speak with other people my age. What is your name? Which ghetto are you from?" he asked more eagerly, hoping, even if he knew it was impossible, that this young man was from his own ghetto. It would be so much easier.

The comings and goings of humans between the ghettos were controlled at the entrance and exit of the doors of the capital. To go from one point to the other, one had to present his reason to the Lumen administrator of the neighborhood, and while the frequentation of the shops of the capital was less regulated, that cost money he didn’t have. Without money, Adriel couldn’t even think of hanging out in inns or taverns with any kind of traffic. The priests received only the share that the High Priest wanted to give them and even that money depended on the Regem's satisfaction.

How he would meet this guy again, after the ceremony?

How he hated them!

"The demons?" the young man repeated, stunned, handing the gourd back to its owner. "What are you talking about?"

"Those ghouls, those vampires, the Lumens!" Adriel grunted between gritted teeth. He knew he was foolish talking this way to a stranger since bad mouthing Lumens was a crime and he could get reported. "The ones who reduce us to slavery and control our lives!"

The dark-haired boy blinked, then tilted his head to the side as the birds did before Adriel threw them bread, wondering about his intention, like Adriel was actually an enigma.

"Are not you an employee of the Temple? Your job is to worship them, right?" the stranger asked slowly, his black brows slightly furrowed. "They saved the humans. Without them, humans would have all died on Earth.”

Adriel couldn’t argue the relevance of the question. Indeed, it was a shocking declaration for a novice about to be declared a priest in a few months when he turned 18.

"Don’t talk to me about this bullshit!" he snapped.

The other man didn't seem bothered by his crude language. This guy was young, not from the Priest ghetto but he must go to the market to get fresh food and maybe hang out in cabaret. They probably spoke the same slang… And so Adriel plowed on ahead.

"They manipulated and forced us to follow them, fooling us with false promises! Yes, I’m a future priest but I was forced to enter the Temple, without any vocation! But who cares about the opinion of a human? Not the Lumens! I swear to you that if I saw one close enough, I would spit in his face!" he said feverishly. In his rage, he rose, brandishing his fist a few inches from the imperturbable boy’s handsome face. “And I’d tell him what my opinion of them is.”

It was so gratifying to speak his mind with someone for once. Every ceremony he was pissed beyond control that they had to bleed some poor animal to death because of them, and with how everyone was worshipping. He knew very well that many didn’t like the Lumens any more than him, but everyone was too afraid to do anything about it. Each annual ceremony that passed made him madder than the one before.

He was itching for something to happen. He felt the anxiety of it in his bones, in his sleepless nights. It wasn't only about having a mate. He wanted something more radical but had no idea how to get it.

"You won’t do it," the jet-haired teen told him with a firm voice, his serious, golden stare locked with Adriel’s. “You will act respectfully and cautiously.”

The fact that the young man seemed unimpressed by Adriel’s declaration and was even doubting him, when just cursing the Lumens warranted a public punishment, encouraged him to push further.

"I don’t believe in their power, nor in their superiority!" he declared recklessly and he saw a hint of surprise in the amber irises. The need to arouse the interest or admiration of this stranger was pushing him to more excess than usual. "If I see one fucker, I will grab him by the hair and smash him against the wall. He wouldn’t order me to do shit with my big cock ramming in his tight little vampire ass!"

His mouth agape with astonishment and eyes wide, the young man listened and seeing the admiration shine in the golden eyes gave Adriel a thrill of exaltation. Being that crude wasn’t like him. It was like he needed to push beyond his normal limits to be sure to catch the interest of the handsome guy. A liaison might be possible now and then… maybe the guy would be seduced enough to want to meet Adriel again.

Maybe it was time to ask his name. He hadn't replied about from which ghetto he came from. Adriel’s mind was racing, thinking about his next move, but the momentum was already gone.

The young man was giving him a sarcastic look from his half-closed eyes, tilting his head back a little, rolling his greedy lips in a mocking grimace. As he moved, his tunic rose up two inches further exposing more of the hard line of his thigh muscles and the tattoo, which looked like a bird's plumage, Adriel decided. The stranger's legs were making a more inviting, open angle and his skin almost glistened in the sun, as though it were made of glitter. He wondered again by what artifice the firm flesh of the young man could have this iridescence. Make-up? Who could afford such a thing? Only those from the caste of pleasure objects did so and they weren’t allowed to travel so far from their workplace.

He heard a slight snort of contempt and looked up, ashamed to have been caught staring. He was seized by the desire to wipe that mocking smile off the boy’s face and replace it with a mouth twisted in pleasure. The image was so vivid that he was already half-hard, and he realized with shame and anger that the other man seemed fully aware of his horny state.

"You bark loudly, but do you have the real audacity to bite? I don’t think so," the young man jeered. "I challenge you to do anything at this ceremony."

Adriel narrowed his eyes, furious at being questioned, and he uttered all the curses he knew. But the stranger didn't even flinch, his face splitting into a grin.

"Are you daring to call me a liar or a coward?" the novice snarled.

"Both," the other replied nonchalantly, swinging his leg.

That was too much for Adriel. His father was right to call him a hot-head. In a swift move, he pinned the young man to the ground, dragging him by his long hair, clenched in his fist.

"Nobody calls me either," he whispered hoarsely. "Let's make a deal. I show off my hate of the Lumens during the ceremony and you will be my cat!” He got closer to the face underneath him, his breath tickling over the skin of the other. “I confess, I exaggerated. I would never fuck a Lumen. Next thing I know, my dick would fall off! But with a cutie like you, it might be nice! "

He waited breathlessly for the other young man’s answer. It wasn’t a sweet declaration, but in their current situation, he couldn’t think of any better way to confess his interest.

"I don’t know what a cat is," replied the other, with a smug smirk. "I'm supposed to be a bird. But I don't mind dressing in anything you want, or meowing."

Adriel frowned, confused. All human males knew what a cat was. But perhaps in the ghetto where the teenager came from, the sub man was called a bird. Or maybe he was just teasing him, Adriel suspected.

"The cat is the one who takes it up the ass," he spat furiously.

There, he said it. He continued to look bravely at the man beneath him, hoping not to have to explain himself more. To his credit, Adriel had to admit that the other male didn’t seem frightened.

"It's a deal,” he replied slowly. "Let's meet here after the ceremony. I have to wash before attending it, so I need to go."

Adriel nodded, trying not to show the excitement that had gripped him as he let the young man get up. He could tell that sex with the other man would be intensely pleasurable. The tanned and athletic body seemed supple and expressive, the skin silky to the touch, and his nature wasn't easy to tame.

Then, doubt seized him. The other seemed too sure of himself and sensuality radiated from all his pores. This was probably not his first experience and the fear of appearing clumsy made him nibble at his frustrated lips.

"Your Lotus is still in bud?" Adriel asked, trying so hard not to mumble, his eyes fixed on the other guy’s nice ass, while the other had already begun to move away.

The young man turned quickly, his hair fluttering from shoulder to shoulder with an ironic but amused grin.

"You have amazing names for things! But rest assured, I’ve never been a cat,” he said to Adriel's relief. “But tell me, novice, what is your name?”

"Adriel," he grumbled, his cheeks flushed with shame, hoping the other didn’t know enough about the sacred tongues of the twelve kingdoms. But that now he had told the other man name, he would tell Adriel his and they would be real acquaintances.

"Servant of God? That's your name?" he asked, seeming delighted by Adriel's response.

Adriel felt his cheeks burning.

The stranger burst out laughing behind his hands as if he wanted to control himself, to the point that tears seemed to appear in his eyes.

"And what is yours?" Adriel demanded to know, not wanting to show how humiliated he was.

"You can call me Aelurus, if you like," the jet-haired man replied with a shrug.

Adriel blanched with rage as he heard the false name. He was an uneducated man, but he knew a little of the languages of other kingdoms and knew this word meant cat! How could this boy know? Only the priests could read the books of other kingdoms.

"We'll see each other again, Adriel, even if nothing happens at the ceremony and you back down," said the supposed Aelurus. "We are destined to. It's fate."

The fact that the man was talking about fate when Adriel had thought the same earlier troubled him. But this guy was talking like Adriel was a pussy, afraid of Lumens and unable to win the bet. He would show he wasn't one to back down from a challenge. He would rise to that challenge and win, to show this guy, whatever his real name was, that he was a man, a strong man, and a good fuck. Maybe then those insolent, derisive quips would stop.

"How do I know you'll come, huh? How do I know you’re not just putting on an act here?" Adriel snapped back, arms folded in defiance.

"I'll come," whispered the other, “but if you’re not satisfied with my word, I can seal that promise with a kiss.”

Before Adriel could respond or react, lips were pressed against his.  The taste of honey and spices filled his mouth, going straight to the groin of the novice. But almost immediately the other man broke the contact, watching Adriel with a mixture of taunting and hunger.

It was Adriel's first kiss and he would never have thought that the sensation could be so strong, exultant and addictive, for only ten seconds of touch. He needed to have a second one, as soon as possible, and lasting much, much longer. Just by looking at him, Adriel could tell the other man desired the same.

“You look eager, Adriel,” Aelurus said, calling his name like it was a purr. It was even too sweet for Adriel to grow angry at the obvious tease. “But don’t worry, even if nothing happens, I will kiss you again before leaving the Temple. Count on it.”

And with that, Aelurus left Adriel, still in the afterglow from the kiss, alone with the calf he was supposed to carry out as a sacrifice. And at that moment, the shout of his father calling him came.

***

For once, Adriel was pumped on adrenaline and buzzing from excited energy at the Flood ceremony. With a bold step and a proud chin, he walked behind his father, carrying a sacrificial blood jar. He didn't complain at having to wear his best linen skirt, for once. For him, it wasn't the Lumen or the Royals he wanted so badly to impress. He couldn’t help glancing stealthily around him, hoping to see the black-haired boy, to make sure Aelurus saw him too. He wanted to be sure he was seen winning his challenge so the other boy couldn't refuse him anything.

His heart was pounding at the thought of what he was about to do. He would be punished for sure, but the memory of the kiss was stronger than the threat of the pyramid. He would get in trouble, but then he was sure that Aelurus would take him as his lover. In 17 years, he had never found someone he wanted as a mate and with him, Adriel felt it would be possible. With the same age and size, and with such an attractive physique, Aelurus seemed to him his only chance of light in this gloomy existence.

Usually he was still looking down, in front of the Lumens so they didn’t see the hatred and rage in his eyes, but this time he looked the gold-masked man on the golden throne in the face. It was him, the hated Regem, and Adriel bit his lips so as not to explode before the right moment.

A pool was separating them because the unworthy humans couldn't get too close to them. Touching a Royal without permission was a crime, even for a Lumen.

He let his father make his speech, greeting the Regem and the Horus, the Crowned Prince, his eyes still searching the crowd. In any case, he decided, no matter if Aelurus saw him or not, it would be such a public scandal that he would learn of it from someone.

Trying to gather his courage, he decided to look at them again, those hated Royals. His eyes rested on a man standing beside Regem, whose face was hidden behind a golden, falcon mask. It was the Heir, the sacred son, the Horus Crowded Prince, the second most important person in the kingdom. A teen like him but with so much to expect from life only because he had come from a Lumen’s semen.

Adriel pretended to kneel at the moment where his father was talking about the Horus Prince - in a way he never talked about his own offspring - making Adriel’s blood flare up.

The Prince’s name was Teo and Adriel had a sneer, knowing the meaning of this name was God. The ego of Lumens was something.

His idea was to pretend to stumble and break the jar, hoping that it would be enough to impress his lover-to-be, but suddenly, his breath caught in his throat and his fingers clenched around its handles.

The Horus Crowned Prince had washed and changed his tunic, opting for a shorter one, fancier than the one he had worn when he was pretending his name was Aelurus. The shorter tunic revealed the image of a falcon taking his flight, tattooed on his leg. That's why he pretended to be not a cat, but a bird, Adriel thought as his mind raced. The falcon-headed god, Horus, had been the symbol of the Heir for centuries.

Now that he thought about it, the guy had never mentioned where he was from, nor his real name, dodging the questions and letting Adriel make assumptions.

No wonder he had never seen the boy before. The Royals wore masks every time they stepped out of the palace. Rare were those who had seen their real faces.

But Adriel didn’t feel blessed at all. Never could something ever happen between them. It was a forbidden liaison, even if they both agreed. Teo had only teased him for the fun of it, probably an elite game. This guy had a full harem with both female and male sex slaves, the finest of the pleasure objects among human and Lumens and of course he wasn’t bending over for any of his slaves.

How he could have kept such a poker face when Adriel had suggested he could be his cat was prodigious. But maybe he was used to it, having fun teasing humans because he was bored in his luxurious apartments. Anyway, Adriel sure as fuck did not want a Royal as a lover, even once, despite it being probably the ultimate fantasy of many humans.

Punch-drunk with the revelation, he stepped forward three steps, under the dismayed eyes of his father.

He recognized the golden, mocking eyes under the Horus mask. There could be no mistake. The one who had taken his first kiss was from this hatred species and even worse, one of their bloodthirsty leaders.

Immediately spears met in front of him when he took the last step, stopping at the edge of the pool, which was almost full of blood already, waiting for Adriel to pour the one last jar.

"Do not come near!" a guard shouted. "A human like you cannot touch the Horus Crowned Prince."

Teo was his name, Adriel reminded himself and that was probably the reason for the prince's earlier amusement at Adriel’s. He had joked about fate because a god and his servant were there and the little fucker must have had the thrill of his life hearing Adriel cursing him without knowing what he was doing! And that he had pushed the joke to the point of kissing him!

The rage and the feeling of betrayal must be obvious on his face and the asshole must have been having fun seeing it, from behind his golden mask. His trust was something Adriel rarely granted and all these bad feelings bubbled out, making him lose his mind.

With a sudden movement, he threw the jar forward, beyond the pool, to splash the blood at the face of the Prince. Despite stepping back, the Prince was soiled with blood.

“Fucking bloodsucker! That's for you! You won’t have anything more of me," Adriel shouted, shaking with anger.

Even if he was blinded by rage, he could tell that behind his mask Teo was shocked.

Adriel was awakened from his rage by a single word, the same one he had heard in his nightmares since he was a child.

The Regem had stood up, his burning eyes flashing with anger through the holes of his mask.

"Bring this human to the Pyramid!” he declared coldly and suddenly Adriel was swallowed by darkness.

 

 

Chapter Text


 

 

Adriel didn't remember the trip to the Pyramid, having been unconscious the whole time. He had been woken up by a splash of icy water, and found himself naked, his wrists bound together. The shock of the cold startled him so much that he struggled to catch his breath. His vision was blurry and he blinked a few times in confusion, trying to put his memories together.

“You looked like you were having fun throwing blood in the face of a living God,” a muffled voice said. “We are only treating you the same, you scum! You’ve been out cold for hours! What a lazy-assed, weak bitch you are!”

Adriel managed to focus his vision enough to see who had spoken. The vision was nightmarish. Two bulky men - no, Lumens, his mind corrected, seeing their luxurious guard uniforms which included impressive Falcon-shaped helmets that covering their faces entirely - were in front of him. Such an outfit was there to intimidate and to arouse fear. But after the initial shock, Adriel realized he had been called a weak bitch and nobody was calling him names without a fight.

He never thought that Lumens could use the same crass languages as humans, but that wasn’t his main concern. He looked around him, but saw only anonymous grey brick walls without anything to give away his location.

“Where I am?” he asked. He remembered very well the last order from the Regem, but still hoped that maybe he was merely in one of the jails in the Troops ghetto.

“The Horus Prince want us to clean you, but he didn’t explain himself more than that. Maybe he wants to eat you, who knows?” the other said, his voice dead serious behind his mask.

Horror filled Adriel until both guards burst with laughter.

“Did you see his face? He really believed the Prince would eat him! The Horus Crowned Prince has better taste than that! Your blood must taste sour.”

In a rage at having been fooled, Adriel stood up and threw himself, snarling, at them in one movement. But with only a backhanded slap of one of the guard’s heavy gauntlets, he was thrown to the ground.

“Humans are just disgusting animals,” one of the guards growled. “We should lock him in the Seth Hole!”

“The Prince has other ideas. He said he would stop here to avenge himself and the Horus One hasn’t come to the Pyramid for ages. He’s only watched before. But this time, he wants to be involved for sure. He said to get the fire ready for when he gets here.”

Adriel was still on the ground, his eyes wide, dread filling him. It just had been confirmed. He was a prisoner at the Pyramid and he would never see his friends or family again. The High Priest might be an old geezer, but he was someone reliable in Adriel’s universe and the Temple might be dull, but it was still better than losing his life in the Pyramid.

The only thing he could feel beyond absolute fear was fury at the idea that this royal bastard would be there to see him wailing as he was being tortured with fire. The idea of it was so detrimental to his pride that it overshadowed his terror. If he was going to die anyway, he wanted to die properly, quickly, and without being humiliated in front of the guy he had once found attractive.

Given the Horus emblems and falcon masks both guards were wearing, he assumed this was the personal praetorian guard of the Prince. He had heard that the Regem and his heir both had their own staff and only the most loyal of the elite could be picked for those positions. These ones must worship the Prince more passionately than even than Adriel’s father. If he could provoke them enough, maybe all this suffering would have a quick end. Anyway, there was no way he would leave the Pyramid alive.

“Your Master sure is kinky,” Adriel sneered. “But restraints would fit him better while he is choking on my cock.”

“How dare you...” one of them said, taking a step forward, eyes burning. “How dare you speak of a Royal in such a way?”

“Yeah, he is sure a fancy bitch with all that golden make-up,” Adriel trailed off, his eyes locked on the short sword one the Lumens had at his side.

He didn’t care if he was beheaded right there, if it meant he would not have to piss himself in front of the Prince while being tortured. Adriel knew himself to be brave, but he knew nothing about torture and his mind couldn’t even imagine what techniques the Lumens might have developed.

“He is such a hoe that both of you couldn't satisfy him. I bet you jerk off over him, hoping you can draw a moan from him with your teenie weenie,” he continued, almost feeling the blow of the blade already.

The guard clutched his hand harder around the handle of the sword, barely swallowing a curse when they heard, from afar, the sound of a trumpet.

“That’s him,” the guard said quietly, releasing his grip on the sword. “Let’s see if you will be that witty after he’s done with you. The Crowned Prince has a fascination with torture and years of experience watching it,” he added with a cruel smirk. “I guess he will get creative for you and whip that arrogance from you himself. He will be the one jerking off over your screams.”

Adriel set his jaw so that he didn’t howl when the guard pulled him up with a harsh jerk on the chain that restrained his wrists.


Who could have imagined a sadist with such a lovely face and sweet voice, Adriel wondered, refusing to think about the kiss that tasted of honey any longer. Anyway, the kiss wasn’t meaningful since it was only a cruel and stupid pastime of a Prince’s. Fooling their prey to hurt them both emotionally and physically was a hobby worthy of these inhuman beings.

The guard pushed him hard to get him to start walking, and Adriel left the room he had awoken in. They soon arrived at a huge room where there was a brazier already burning hotly. Upon seeing the instrument that lay nearby, Adriel’s heart missed a beat and his knees buckled. It was a brand-marker. He was to be branded like a cow!

He struggled in his restraints, cursing, refusing to walk forward. He had the irrelevant thought that the beast he had led to sacrifice was calmer than he himself was.

“I just understood where this big ego of yours came from!” a saccharine voice teased, the innuendo about Adriel’s cock obvious. “What a pity you acted too recklessly for me to taste it. You would have split me in two. I'm sure of it.”

In a blind rage, Adriel snapped his head up to find where the hated voice was coming from.

Teo was there. Wearing all gold he stood out vividly against the nude walls of the Pyramid. His short tunic was gold, as were his laced sandals and the jewels he wore. Only the lapis lazuli on his chest added any hint of color, a break from such brightness. He had again rubbed himself in this gold dust or whatever he used to be shiny like that. In the darkness of the room, only lit by the fire, he looked like a living god.

Like he is, Adriel added in his mind.

But what made Adriel livid was the mask the Prince wore. It was a Bastet-cat mask that left only the lower part of his face visible. The bastard had chosen the cat mask to mock him since it was one for ladies. The Prince was still pretending to stare at his crotch with interest and Adriel remembered he was naked. He didn’t even feel a bit self-conscious, his fury overwhelming him to the point of forgetting his surroundings.

“You little sneaky bitch…” he shouted, jerking forward as though to attack the Prince.

Teo gave a low chuckle when Adriel was hit on the head from behind, pinned and then restrained by one of the guards as the other chained him to the floor. Now, his wrists and ankles were chained to the ground and he wouldn’t be able to escape while being branded. Prince Teo had provoked him on the purpose to distract him and, like a dumbass, he had let himself be baited.

“Heretics usually have their tongues cut off and an ‘H’ branded on their chest, in addition to being prisoner in the Pyramid. I suggest you stay quiet,” Teo said.

He was speaking slowly in a spookily chilled voice and Adriel almost didn't hear it over his furiously pounding heart.
“But I care for your tongue deeply, so I will let you keep it, to learn to kiss better,” he continued.

Adriel looked up, beyond mad that this motherfucker dared to taunt him about that in such a moment and in front of others.

“But I can’t be too generous with you, you know. I have a monstrous reputation to keep,” he sneered. “So, I will brand you, but with something more romantic than an H. Do you not think it looks good?” he asked, showing Adriel the metal sporting a falcon symbol and the restrained man paled. “The markings on my thigh are only henna, but yours will remain forever. We could even identify your corpse with it.”

The image was so vivid that Adriel couldn’t help but close his eyes, about to puke from anguish.

The Prince kneeled next to him and took his chin in his hand to make him look up, but Adriel continued to keep his eyes shut.

“I keep my promise to be a cat and I will even kiss you as I told you I would,” he whispered seductively, stroking Adriel’s curls. “You will stay still and take it,” he added.

Nerves got the better of Adriel. The almost loving words, the caring touch, the soft voice in the awful situation were even more unnerving. Why was this man tormenting him like this? He only wanted a quick death to get it over with. He needed to do something, before he cried like a baby.

“And here is my promise,” he snapped back, spitting on the Prince. “What a pity you are too much of a bitch to show your face!” he snarled.

His mouth in a thin, serious line, the Prince removed his mask and wiped the spit from his chin.

There, that was it. Adriel was getting himself ready to die. There no way the Horus didn’t punish someone for spitting on him in front of his own guards.

But before Adriel could react, his neck was twisted and from the corner of his eyes, he saw the impressive canines that extended from the Prince’s mouth, his eyes now pitch black to the point that the irises weren’t visible anymore. It was a frightening, nightmarish sight and Adriel’s breath caught in his throat. Lumens could be human in appearance, but they were aliens, and dangerous ones.

He had the irrelevant thought that the Prince was probably hiding his mouth while laughing in the garden, so his canines would not be too apparent and he could keep fooling him.

The feeling of something warm and wet along his throat startled him out of his train of thought. He realized after a moment that the Prince had licked his throat, and was making circles with his tongue over Adriel’s racing pulse. Adriel wondered if this was a kind of foreplay before the torture began that the Prince got off on. It could have been pleasurable on any other occasion but Adriel was too edgy to feel good.

“It won’t hurt…” the Prince whispered before biting deep into the flesh of his neck.

For a moment, it was true. After a pinch, Adriel felt nothing except a faint numbness. His own heart was beating like crazy and the sucking sounds made by the vampire were so loud that the noise was filling his senses, drowning out the pain. Adriel was still aware enough of his surroundings to feel the hands running down his back. A warmth was creeping into him and it was beginning to feel good, his lower body even responding to the trailing touch.

When Teo released him, he felt suddenly lightheaded and wondered if he had been drugged at some point. He had forgotten about the brand-marker, until the moment when the hot iron stuck on the flesh of his thigh. But he only flinched at the touch of the metal, while the Prince looked on, his eyes, now back to their golden honey color, wide and serious, like he wanted to burn Adriel’s image into his retinas.

“We will meet again soon.” the Prince said, rubbing his thumb on Adriel’s jaw. “Be patient, you’re not ready yet,” Adriel was still so out of it, lost in the remaining warmth of the Prince’s bite, that he wasn't sure if the words and caress were real.

***

Adriel lost consciousness again. When he woke up he was lying on a narrow mattress on the floor of a dirty cell. An old, filthy-looking wool blanket was over him and he pushed it away with disgust. At the sound of Adriel’s movement, someone else in the cell moved. An old man, with a white beard and an eye patch, turned toward him.

“Oh, you woke up?” the man said. “I’m Machaon, the prisoner's physician. Well, I’m also a prisoner myself,” he added politely.

Adrien tried to sit up, but the man gently pushed him back down.

“Don’t move yet. You have been punished and so, you need rest.”

“I’m fine,” Adriel replied. His mouth felt like cotton. “I just want some water. I’m thirsty.”

“You’re fine because the Prince bit you, but when his venom fades off, the burn will hurt like a bitch,” the man warned.

Confused, Adriel took the water cup that he offered, and studied his cellmate. He was an outsider, Adriel figured, based on his clothes. From somewhere near Corinthia.
“Venom?” Adriel asked after finishing the cup in one swing. The motherfuckers were even able to poison them? They really were evil, dangerous creatures.

“More a powerful opioid in their saliva. “They developed this ability to prevent their victims from struggling while they drank them dry. But at a weaker dose, the victim just feels drunk or high. You’ve already slept for seven hours.”

Memories of what happened flooded Adriel's mind. The stroke on his cheek, the lick of his collarbone, sensual and intimate as a kiss. And then the bite, painful but almost pleasant. He paled as he recalled how he had been weak in his enemy’s arms. No wonder, if he had been poisoned. This bastard had used a cheap shot against him. With shame, he realized that he had even probably moaned at some point.

“That son of a bitch!” Adriel hissed, twisting to try and see the bite on his neck with a metallic cup. Upon seeing the blurry reflection of two darker spots on his skin, anger came rushing in.

He hated himself for having been weak to the point of having almost felt good. He hated this mark of shame and the idea that something of Teo was in his bloodstream drove him crazy. It was a link he didn't want to have with the vampire, but that he couldn't quickly erase.

“How could nature have made such a monster!” he asked no one in particular, feeling angrier with himself than the Lumens.

The physician raised an eyebrow.

“Well, he prevented you from feeling the pain of the branding until now and the effect could still last an hour or two. Never has a prisoner been anesthetized before their punishment before.” Machaon paused then asked “What did you do to him? The Prince is well known to be even more cruel than all his predecessors. He loves to see people suffer and so I wonder why he deprived himself of seeing his favorite show.”

The more the physician talked, the more sick Adriel felt. How could he have desired this evil being as a mate?

“I met him before the Floods ceremony,” Adriel replied in a flat voice, “in the garden. I talked shit about Lumens, telling him about how I loathed them and he dared me to do something about it. That fucker riled me up on damn purpose! I didn't know he was one of them!” he yelled, seeing the shock on the old man's features. “When I recognized him and realized he had fooled me, I got mad and well, splashed the blood from the jar I was holding in his face.”

“In front of the Regem and all the other people?” Machaon asked. “You had a death wish, my poor friend. The Horus Crowned Prince is more proud than any of them. He should have beheaded you on the spot, after being humiliated in front of his father like that.”

Adriel was beginning to feel a dull pain from the burn on his leg. The effect of the venom was starting to wear off.

A silence stretched between them while the physician cleaned his instruments. He prepared a long syringe and filled it with a clear liquid. Adriel’s supposed his discomfort must have shown on his face. His father had often reproached him for having too open and expressive of a face. It was not suitable for a priest, according to him.

“There must have been something else,” the bearded man murmured. “The Prince left for his great tour of the twelve kingdoms. He will be gone for months. But before leaving he sent you here, with me, and even provided me with some of his spit for me to give you a shot. This way, you will have another twelve hours without feeling pain. I’ve never seen him care for someone before. But the Prince is rather mysterious among the Royals. Who knows what his true intentions for you are.”

The man approached him with the syringe and Adriel jerked away. The physician seemed to know the Lumens and the Prince too well to be trustworthy.

“Don’t you dare try to inject me with that shit or I’ll smack you!” Adriel groaned. The man was right about one thing at least, he could feel the ache in his thigh now. “I don’t know you and I’m sure as fuck not going to owe anything to that motherfucker of a vampire.”

The man looked astonished by his reply but didn’t insist.

“Suit yourself,” he said, slowly taking the syringe away. “As for not knowing me, you will have time for that. We are jailmates, from now to eternity or until whenever the Prince decides what to do with you. But it will be a while, since like I told you, he left to meet the leaders of the twelve kingdoms.”

A weird feeling of abandonment throbbed painfully in Adriel’s chest. He decided it must be the Prince’s venom working on his mind. The physician mistook his silence.

“Don’t worry, you won’t be too maltreated. The Prince made it crystal clear that you were his. No guard will dare touch you more than necessary without further direction.” he explained, with a nod toward Adriel’s new brand.

Adriel looked down. The burn was ugly, all red and blistered, but with the damn falcon was very clearly visible in his flesh. Clenching his teeth against the pain of movement, he stretched a hand toward the old man.

“Have you anything can I use as a knife?”

The man blinked in confusion.

“I can’t help you end your own life. I made the oath to never do so.”

“That is not my intention,” Adriel growled and with a sharp move, he snatched the tiny scalpel on the medical tray. “I won’t die before having fulfilled the promise I made to that asshole!” He took the blade firmly in his hand. “But for now, I will remove this mark. I’m not this monster’s pet!” Biting his lips hard to not howl in pain, he cut the flesh around the wound.
“Don’t do that!” the old man said, in an attempt to stop him. “The Prince will be furious when he gets back, and your recovery will take much longer!” he added, as last resort.

The pain was so sharp that Adriel was sure he would faint from it, but the hate he felt was even stronger. Thankfully, the circumference of the mark was only about two inches and he managed to finish removing the skin marked by the hot iron without even a moan.

He collapsed on the bed, sweat beading on his face.

“Not his pet…” he grunted, still panting from the effort. “No brand on my corpse… And I’m not dying before I make him mine and brand him too.”

He felt like he had only blinked, but he must have lost consciousness. When he opened his eyes, he was feeling much better than he should. His eyes snapped to the medical tray. The syringe was empty.

“I had no choice,” Machaon said coldly at the hard glare Adriel gave him. “I needed to take care of the wound you made on yourself and you are so stubborn that I had no choice but to give you the Prince’s saliva to be able to take care of you.

“I don’t need any help,” Adriel muttered. He sat up and felt faintly dizzy but he refused to lie back down. The idea that some part of the Prince was still in his bloodstream was making him itchy and furious.

“Besides, while you were out of it, you babbled about the interesting meeting you had with the Prince in the Temple garden. Some comment about how his ass could be as hot and sweet as his kiss.”

The young man flushed hard, but the physician shook his head.

“Don’t be ashamed,” he said. “The Horus Prince is alluring and loves to play games. Being mistaken for a human must have amused him. I am sure he took even more pleasure in hearing you bad-mouthing his species and being mistaken for a submissive partner when he is so powerful. It’s a rare thrill for him. You are a virgin, trapped in a ghetto, surrounded by unattractive older men and with no hope of a female partner. Anybody in your situation would have taken advantage of it. The Prince seems to have found your encounter so pleasurable that he didn’t kill you, which his honor and the law required.”

Adriel turned angrily away, tossing off the bedsheet. He felt fidgety. He didn’t want to even think about what was in the twisted mind of a vampire.

“Do you know why I’m a prisoner?” the old man asked all of sudden. “Because I was like you... well, maybe not that wild” he amended with a glance at Adriel’s bandaged thigh. “I hated Lumens and decided to return to Earth. But it was long ago, even before you and the Prince were born. Everybody has forgotten why I’m here, except me. I found the way back to Earth and I expected to come back and free the humans.”

Adriel snapped his head up and locked eyes with the man, trying to find any hint of a lie in his only eye.

“I managed to steal an airship,” Machaon continued “but I was young at the time and didn’t know my enemy as I do now. I’ve grown too old now, too weak to try again, but maybe with my teaching, you will be able to get away. “

Adriel stayed still, trying to remain expressionless. He didn’t know the man and wasn't sure he could trust him, but the physician had just told him he’d almost succeeded in doing what Adriel had been dreaming of doing for ages. It must have been obvious on his face because the man gave him a cunning smirk.

“You wish to return to Earth? Well, you are strong and have the stamina I never had, but you don't have the knowledge. I can teach you all I have learned about the Lumens, their kingdoms, and their technology. And maybe you will succeed where I failed, because you have an ace up your sleeve, the most powerful you could imagine.”

Adriel didn’t reply, waiting for the old man to explain, even if in his soul, he felt he already knew the advantage alluded to.

“I’m not sure of how deep his feelings are, and from such a cold being this is quite shocking but, I think the Prince may have a love for or at least a sexual interest in you. Now that I’ve gotten a glimpse of your nature, I see it as the only explanation.”

Adriel stared at the man in horrified disbelief. Surely he was nothing more than a game to the Prince. But he said nothing, allowing the old man to continue.

“I’ve studied this child since his birth, each time he came here, and my ear caught a lot of gossip about him too. The Prince is a collector, and is used to getting whatever he wants without a fight. You are quite different than the sex slaves he usually keeps. You are a new item for him and if you are clever enough, you can make his interest in you last.”

Adriel was seeing where the other man was going with this but playing mind games wasn’t like him. He was about to tell the old man as much, when he seized Adriel’s hand with startling eagerness and stared at him intensely.

“If you play your cards right, maybe you will be the first man able to leave the Pyramid or even the planet, alive.”

 

Chapter Text

 


 

The first step, Machaon had taught him, to keep him from losing his mind in prison, was to count the days in order to keep track of time. It was probably the best advice the man had told him.

From the first day he had woken up in the cell to today, 680 days had already passed. Almost all of these days had been filled by classes.

Adriel had always been a reluctant student, not very eager to learn. But it was only when the subject was about how the Lumens were a superior species and the Royals, living gods, that he was so stubborn. When it was about how to know them as they were really, as a means to fool them to be able to run away, it wasn’t the same, and unfortunately, those classes ended rather quickly.

The first thing he had learned, first hand, was what the Pyramid was about.

“They are sent to the Games in Nexpolis to represent Theba’s tribute for the enjoyment of the main capital’s citizens,” Machaon had told him. “I’m safe because I’m too old and so, having me killed in the arena would not even be entertaining enough for them.”

If you survived the Games, you still weren’t even safe and allowed to return home. You were still a prisoner, being punished and so you were either sent to the salt mines or to work on the site of the Regem’s tomb. The location of the tomb being secret, the foreman, a trusted Lumen of the Royal family, executed all the workers the moment they were no longer of any use.

The lucky prisoners were the ones served up at the royal table, their blood filling their goblets. Sometimes a Lumen, the doctor of the Royal family, visited the Pyramid and chose prisoners.

Adriel had been surprised that the old man had been able to survive all this and the doubt took him again regarding the veracity of the comments of his fellow prisoner.

“They prefer to have me in sight, I guess. Moreover, I’m still a physician and I can help to heal other prisoners to be fit enough for their next destination.”

Adriel had still stayed suspicious, still bitterly remembering how he had been fooled by the Prince. How could this man have become a physician, to begin with? Men didn’t have the right to study any field other than what their caste required. It was true than Machaon was from another kingdom, but the same laws must apply, right?

He had many questions to ask but they were closely watched. Machaon could only speak of his past when the guards were away.

“Did you ever wonder what was outside the walls of the human suburbs?” he asked Adriel at the first opportunity he got.

Of course, he had. He knew that Lumens had villas in the countryside, near the sea, but he had always wondered if there was anything more.

“Do you know what happens to Lumens who disobey the laws?” he had asked then. “Because Lumens are like any other species. They also have misbehaving people in their ranks.”

This was something Adriel had never thought of, but now that Machaon spoke about it, it was a very interesting question.

“They are sent into exile and lose all their privileges. They become ‘Untouchable’. It was there, in the place where they live on the other side of the walls that I learned medicine. I followed the Lumen I loved. He got punished for loving me and told me secrets.”

Adriel, shocked at the revelation, had looked up. Love between a Lumen and a human? It was sick! It couldn't be!

“You said you hated Lumens!” he exclaimed in disbelief.

He knew it. This man was probably a snitch and he shouldn't talk to him. Listening to his nonsense would only drag him deeper in shit, like the time he had let himself go in front of the incognito Prince.

“In Corinthia, the difference between Lumens and humans are less marked,” Machaon had said. “Each kingdom has a different way. The reason is that they don't have Royals anymore. So, the leader is elected, almost like leaders were on Earth a few centuries ago.”

“No Royals, how so?”

Adriel had always assumed Theba wasn't worse or better than any of the other kingdoms on Ouranos. Knowing it wasn't the case was unexpected.

At that moment, the guard had brought them some supposed soup, hitting the bar with their sword.

“Hey, old man, you know what the Prince said,” the guard warned with his deep voice muffled from under the helmet. “If you keep talking nonsense, he will demand the doc starts over with that lobotomy he started on you years ago. He put both of you together for you to entertain his lap dog, but nothing more, got it?”

“Who are you calling a lap dog?” Adriel had barked, while his spirit broke a little more at the news.

This Machaon guy was a phony. He had guessed as much but hearing it from the guard was something else. The old man hadn’t stolen any airship or shared a forbidden passion with a Lumen. All kingdoms were the same and there was no Untouchable caste. All was only the result of tortures on the old man’s mind.

That very night, hidden by the old blanket and facing the wall, Adriel had cried for the first time.

It took him days before he spoke to his cellmate again.

But when the disappointment faded, he understood that it was pointless to keep a grudge. Despite being crazy, this Machaon was indeed entertaining. Adriel couldn’t rely on what the old man said about his past or the Lumens but still, he could be trusted about how to take care of wounds and things like that. Indeed, the man had medical knowledge and he tried to teach him about biology and chemistry.

Thanks to him, Adriel’s scar wasn’t looking too bad. The former novice was even proud of it, thinking it gave him a bad-ass look. Machaon also encouraged him to pace in the cell and 'train' as compensation for the exercise he couldn't get in jail. Each day, Adriel needed to pace quickly one hour to not let his leg muscles atrophy. Then, he had to lift himself, using a bar near the ceiling by folding his arms and did push-ups and sit-ups, doing 300 rep of each. This was the routine of the morning. In the afternoon, Machaon showed him some wrestling moves from Corinthia, but also kicks and punches from a style of fighting Adriel had never seen before.

The old man showed him how to sew and it was valuable knowledge in a place where he had only one pair of pants. The man used a few kinds of rock to make powders and with some water, he was able to draw and showed him how. It was practical mostly when he wanted to explain to him about herbs and how to make potions to heal some illness or to help with sleep. With a bone, he made a flute and showed to Adriel how to play. In fact, the man was very good with his hands.

Adriel had tried, without success, to carve figures out of wood as the old man did, but each time, he found some similarity with the hated Teo in the pieces of wood, and he threw the sculptures away.

Many times, Adriel had thought about ending himself, maybe by using the cell and the bar from the ceiling, but he knew his cellmate wouldn't allow it and would try to save him. And what if Adriel did succeed in killing himself? Machaon would probably be punished for not watching him carefully enough, and then he would not get to avenge himself with Teo.

Vengeance was a meal that you eat cold, Machaon had told him, and Adriel had to admit that even if this man was probably crazy, sometimes, he had wise advice to spare.

But each time that the man wanted to talk about the Lumens or whatever, Adriel refused to listen to him. It wasn’t like he could get away. Machaon tried to draw a map of the kingdom and tell him about where the airship was but, worried for their safety, Adriel erased it each time. But he couldn’t tell the man to shut up every time and so sometimes, he had no choice but to hear about his cellmate’s past lover, a doctor like he was, a person very respected among Lumens, and how they had such good sex before and after their exile.

Sex wasn’t a topic a prisoner wanted to hear about when his cellmate was the oldest man he had ever seen, interesting to listen to sometimes but unattractive. But how could he escape the erotic memory of a lunatic when he was locked up with him?

Their cell was narrow for one with two people in it. Their bed was too small for both of them so they took turns using it, changing after three-hour shifts. But Adriel couldn’t complain.

Twice a week, he was forced out of his cell to be cleaned and shaved. On his way, he had seen the awful cages which were the cells of the other prisoners. Too small for them to stand up or lie down in and with his size, Adriel would have gone crazy in one. By the paled faces he could see, these men weren’t far from it.

“Those dogs will be sent away soon. No need for them to be comfy,” one of the guards had explained in a mocking tone. “They aren’t fancy bitches like you, having three meals a day and getting to bathe. The nutcase has never eaten better than since you’ve been with him.”

Adriel would have loved to ask questions. Indeed, their cell had shelves with books, paper for drawing, and some medical equipment to give first aid. The food wasn’t good but it wasn’t worse than what he had eaten at the Temple. And he got a cellmate and some basic hygiene care.

It was jail and Adriel hated every moment of it, but it wasn’t the absolute hell he’d thought the Pyramid would be.

But Adriel wasn’t relieved a bit. He knew the Prince was probably only postponing his punishment, making him believe he had a favored treatment, to backslap Adriel at the moment he wasn’t expecting it anymore, to make it all the more amusing for him. This son of a bitch of Royal Blood was like that.

Each time he remembered their encounter, Adriel was livid at the thought of how much of a chump he had been and he was looking forward to the day he would meet the asshole again. He wasn’t as silly or romantic as before. He was still a virgin in body, but after listening, despite himself, to the sex life of Machaon and his lover, Adriel didn’t feel he was in his soul. Anyway, after such misfortune, his innocence was long gone.

Six hundred eighty days there, bearing the guards’ salacious comments about how the Prince would have fun skinning him alive, but maybe only after sinking a hot poker into his ass. But besides their mockery, they never touched him, even if they often threatened him about the Seth Hole.

Machaon had explained to him what was is. It was indeed a hole, human-sized, where you were buried alive and well... forgotten, except if the Regem or the Prince remembered you. It was a frightening fate and despite his desire to smash in these guards’ faces, Adriel tried to control himself.

For months, he had prepared himself to face the Crowned Prince again. Many times, as entertainment, he had played over their next encounter in his mind. He was always starting by slapping him, grab him by the hair and force him to kneel. The idea of the spoiled Prince kneeling in front of him gave him a boner each time that he had to hide from Machaon. Manual relief was only possible when it was his cellmate’s turn to use the bed and was asleep.

The Prince was forbidden from his fantasies at first. But in his secluded life, he hadn't met another attractive person and jacking off over the priests he had spied on when he had been younger wasn't enough of a turn on to bring him to completion anymore. Insidiously, Teo was making his way into his mind and to feel less like he was betraying himself, he had started in the last year picturing what he would do to the Prince in the unlikely event he could get close enough.

In these erotic thoughts, the Prince was moaning, begging to be fucked harder and even pleading for further abuses. Adriel knew it would never happen, when he had calmed down, wiping his hands clean from his cum. But it was the only thing left to him to keep him from being absolutely miserable or going crazy.

So, of course, it was during this private time that he finally appeared.

“Were you thinking about me?” the Prince asked.

Startled, Adriel looked up, removing his hand from his skirt in a hurry.

“Did you miss me?”

It wasn’t a hallucination and despite it was long ago, how could Adriel forget him? Teo was there, but wearing a simple linen kilt with only a gold bracelet around his left bicep. In this simple outfit, with no mask and a cocky smirk, he looked like Aelurus, alluring but reachable, and Adriel decided the Prince must have chosen these kinds of simple clothes on purpose to mess with his mind even more.

“You…” he growled. He noticed the Prince had his both nipples pierced and his throat had grown dry with desire. He couldn't help but trying to picture Teo’s features when he got pierced and imagine how sensitive his nipples must be now. A warmth crept into him too quickly to hold back and in a very unconvincing voice, he finished. “You kinky bitch.”

The prince didn't seem to be offended by his comment. On the contrary, he looked almost pleased by it.

“How could you said that when I have been almost celibate since our last encounter?” he asked in a falsely desolated voice, obviously amused.

“Almost? What the fuck does that mean?” Adriel snapped, before slapping a hand on his mouth, ashamed. Did he really sound jealous? It was only because the Prince was free to have sex when he was still a virgin, he tried to convince himself.

The prince seemed to know better but he didn't poke him with it.

“What about you? How did you say it?” Teo wondered aloud, with a finger on his chin. “Has your Lotus bloomed or something?” he mocked. “I was careful of your virginity, choosing a cellmate who wouldn’t grope you,” he explained, with a move of his chin toward the sleeping old man. “Your innocence is precious to me. I’m the only one allowed to taint it,” he concluded in a low, deep pitch.

It gave Adriel a shiver but he decided to fight his attraction. This man was the reason he was rotting in jail for almost eighteen months.

“Just come here and I’ll ruin you,” Adriel threatened in a low voice, so not to awake his cellmate. “I will show you how innocent I am.”

“Well, we need to be in private for such things and for that, you have to follow me. This is the reason for my visit. I had forgotten about you but my guard had asked me what I wanted to do with you and I suddenly recalled the sweet novice from almost two years ago,” he said with a sneer. “I was thinking I had signed your execution already, but in the haste of my departure, maybe I had forgotten about your crime and the Regem was probably thinking that you were already dead,” the Prince said idly. “But then I wanted to check if you were still good-looking and since it is the case that you are, I supposed that so not to waste good meat, I could make you join my harem.”

At this, Adriel sneered. As if he would fall for that. Anyway, a harem life wasn’t a bit tempting to him, assuming the offer was genuine, which Adriel was fucking sure it wasn’t.

“I’m not having sex with a bloodsucker. You can go screw yourself,” he spat angrily. “See,” he added, showing off the scar at his leg. “I’m not your pet. I didn’t mind cutting myself to be sure to not have anything related to you on me. So, you can be sure you won’t stick your little dick in my ass. I would cut off both mine and yours before that. Don’t cross me,” he growled.

Teo didn’t seem impressed a bit, his smug smirk widening and Adriel could see, even in the semi-darkness from the Pyramid, his golden eyes shining with amusement.

“I wonder if once you get laid you will lose this fighter spirit. It would be such a pity. I like that, from you.”

Adriel sneered, making a move to express his disinterest in hearing whatever the Prince liked or not in his personality.

“But you are wrong about something,” Teo continued. “I don’t have a little dick. Look.”

Shocked, Adriel saw the Prince reaching for his own belt untying it, standing completely naked just at three feet from Adriel, separated only by the cell bars.

At first, Adriel stayed mute, overwhelmed by the shock, his brain short-circuiting like a wet fuse. He had never seen a naked man so close and, after such deprivation of beauty, it was even more troubling. That it was the Prince, his perfectly shaped body glowing by only the candlelight from his shelf was making the scene even more unreal.

Adriel compelled his eyes to not look further down but it was like they had a mind of their own and he lowered his gaze.

So not to be taken for a pervert or to seem interested, he tried to look around and not directly to what Teo was showing off with indecency. The prince had long, muscular, smooth legs, the wonderful color of warm honey. His abs were perfectly sculpted and just between the legs and under the abs was this swollen flesh, displayed fully due to the complete lack of pubic hair, demanding his attention.

Indeed, the Prince wasn't little by any stretch of the imagination. Satisfied at getting Adriel’s interest, the Prince stroked himself slowly, pumping his cock erect with a faint groan, flaring up the prisoner’s senses.

For a man so deprived, all his life, the eroticism was almost painful to look straight at, like it was to look at the sun. With the movement, Adriel saw a gold bar shine, at the join between the Prince’s cock and balls. He didn’t even know why but his cock twitched with horniness at the kinky sight, while he knew he should flinch at the idea of the painful operation. He thought again about how the Prince must have looked at that moment, while his flesh was being pierced. These perfect features must be even more handsome when they were twisted by pleasure - or pain.

“You like my piercings?” the Prince asked.

Maybe the rumor about Royal Lumen being able to read minds was true, Adriel recalled with horror. Or perhaps he was just paranoid and Teo had only followed his gaze.

“I got them done at the Capital just before leaving. They are still sensitive. You will have to be careful when you touch me…” he murmured lustfully. “I thought about you while they pierced me. I bet you will have fun stroking the gold of these jewels with your tongue. It would give me something like an electric tickle and I will tremble underneath you, begging you to stop teasing me already,” he said dreamily.

“You look like the tranny bitch at the Ripe Fig brothel,” Adriel retorted in a hoarse voice, dripping with desire.

He had never seen any ‘tranny bitch’ and had never entered any brothel, but insulting the Prince was the only exit he could see at his situation. Teo was hitting too close to home about his secret fantasies when he was describing what Adriel could do to him. He hated himself right then for being so weak and for making such mentally vivid images from what Teo was describing. The Prince only wanted to tease him, to better enjoy breaking him right after. Adriel wouldn't let himself be lured again. He used all his willpower to not get a boner from the so tempting display.

Adriel was a starving man and Teo a beautiful banquet served on a golden plate. How hadn't he noticed at first glance that they weren't in the same league? How had he been dumb enough to believe something like a relationship could be possible between them? He had been blinded by his youth and Teo’s appeal, but he wouldn’t let himself been fooled twice. He knew better than believing that the Prince had thought of him and didn’t even point out that ten minutes ago, he had faked having forgotten all about him.

To believe in such a tale as a Royal Lumen desiring a human was dangerously stupid and he wouldn’t be any better than Machaon, believing in his supposed love story with a Lumen.

Teo was a falcon, flying too high for a mere human like him. But Adriel wouldn't ever let his frustration show, as it would mean admitting he had been about to have feelings for this monster, something his pride couldn’t allow. He was the prisoner and the Prince could do all the fuck he wanted with him but he couldn’t remove his pride.

“I can smell arousal, you know? Don't even try to deny desiring me,” Teo told him. “It's pointless. I know you want me.”

The cockiness did it. Kicked out of his lustful cloud, Adriel answered with a sneer. His hate for Teo was stronger than any sense of self-preservation.

“You’ve got a nice ass, I’ll give you that,” he replied in a neutral voice. “But I'm not into bloodthirsty monsters.”

“You want me. Say it.”

The order had sounded as harsh as the swing of a whip and the golden glare was intense in his seriousness, but Adriel just shrugged, despite his aching groin.

“You sure are eager for my cock, you little slut. Too bad I'm not interested. I'm sure your guards would be willing to tap your ass or bend over for you. Whatever rocks your boat. But, you can keep begging for my cock, I won't give it to you!”

Adriel looked away from the vampire, so he wouldn’t see the hunger shining in his eyes, but with how hard the Prince was breathing he knew he had hit a nerve.

“That's your final answer? With a word, I can free you and bring you to my palace,” the Prince said, his voice soft as velvet, but Adriel knew better than to listen to the lying snake. “You would live a pleasant life and you could have sex with me like you’ve been dying to do since we met.”

“Don't flatter yourself, demon,” the former priest hissed. “I prefer being in a shit hole than in a fancy room locked up with your other sex dolls.”

The Prince frowned at the first part but had a smug smirk at the end.

“Jealous?” he asked, his head cocked to the side.

Adriel made a derisive snort.

“As if. For that, I would have to care about you first.”

Indeed, to show how little he cared, he turned his back, pulling out his cock to piss into the tube in the wall meant to evacuate the filth.

“I know you get off on the fear or the desire people feel for you. But I feel neither of them. I don't give a shit about you, no more than I gave for the gods painted on the Temple walls.”

Adriel closed his eyes while shaking off his dick. Nobody had probably ever been that rude to a Royal, to have pissed in front of them. He couldn't resist turning his head to look at him. He had to see the result of his insults. This gorgeous face with a furious expression would be enough of a satisfying sight to made-up for 600 days in jail.

Teo was expressionless.

“A shit hole is better? You have been too much of a spoiled brat while I was gone. But I will be gentle and grant your wish.” A sly grin darkened his features, while his eyes turned black and sharp as pearls, making him look like the cruel, evil creature he really was. “Let's see if you will be such an insolent liar when buried in the Seth hole.”

 

Chapter Text


 

Adriel had braced himself, ready to see all of the Horus Praetorian Guards storming his cell, but before he could even take a fighting position, Teo was on him, Adriel's brain not even having the time to see how the Prince could have walked through the cell bars.

The hot breath was tickling the flesh of his neck, while the Prince’s long fingers pulled his hair, bending his head. Teo's body was ice cold and Adriel tried to break free from the naked form but was caught in a vice grip.

The Prince didn't even bother to cover the place with saliva as analgesia as he had done almost two years ago and he sunk his fangs in the tender flesh, piercing it even as Adriel tried to struggle.

The former novice still tried to repel the vampire, despite the bite, but it was like the Prince was made of metal. He didn't budge an inch.

Numbness was taking Adriel and he felt like he was plunging in darkness, but a warm and comforting one. But this time he knew it was the venom taking effect and he tried to fight it in every way he could. He couldn't move, feeling pinned like a scarab on cardboard but he could talk.

“You're not a man… bitch… using a cheap shot. Fight me like a man. You can eat my fat dick… bloodsucker... don't wanna be your sex slave,” he stuttered.

He was on the floor, he realized, the Prince looking down at him, black pearl-like eyes glaring. Some red droplets were tainting the corner of his lips and he licked them clean while Adriel, frozen by blood loss and shock, guessed it was his blood. All the rumors he had heard in the Hive when he was younger were true. He didn’t know that much about regular Lumens, but Royals were certainly an alien species, a dangerous one.

The Prince was talking to him but Adriel understood nothing as he was either too shocked or the words had been spoken in a foreign language.

He heard steps and saw the awful helmets of a few guards around him, and Teo stepped away.

“Did this scum dare to touch you, high Horus? I will kill him as you wish, my Highness.”

Adriel knew the voice, even though they all sounded the same under their helmets, but it was slightly different from usual. The whole time he had been imprisoned in the Pyramid, he had never seen the face of any of them, making them even less human than Teo, whose face he had seen. The only thing he knew about them was their voices, muffled under the masks.

The Commander was the worst and his hatred of Adriel stood out from the mere contempt of the others. They generally just yelled insults at him but what got on the nerves of the prisoner the most was the way the Commander spoke about the Prince. Of course, the Praetorian Guards were only made up of loyal servants of the sacred Horus, but the Commander's worship was different.

Adriel was ready to bet the oh-so-respectful Commander desired the Prince. Adriel was sure of it because each time he talked back, teasing the guards about how they were jerking off over Teo, wanting to make the prince their bitch, the commander was the one who reacted the strongest, protesting about the idea of them having any sexual desire for the Prince, too high above them to even dare look him straight in the face. Each time he called Teo a bitch, Adriel could see the man shaking in anger, clutching his blade, mad with envy, wanting to cut his tongue to the root but forced to hold back because he hadn’t received the order, yet.

The Commander was always talking in the plural when he denied lusting for his lord, hiding behind his guards. But the prisoner, in the almost two years he’d spent locked up in his cell, had heard the guards whispering about the Prince having left with his whole harem in his aircraft and they were sharing erotic scenarios about the Horus. They were not obedient soldiers anymore, when it was regarding the details of the Prince’s flawless and shiny body and about how much stamina he must have.

To Adriel, they looked like himself and his friends just before leaving the Hive.

When he was a kid at the Hive, there was a woman there called Nefer. She wasn’t a breeder but she cared for the children when their mothers weren’t able to take them for medical exams. When they got a cold, she was the one who healed them and she distracted them with stories and songs. She was beautiful, in an exotic way. She had the palest skin Adriel had ever seen and copper hair that she braided.

She had been Adriel’s first crush, if he could call her that, but it had been the same for all the Hive. He wasn’t in puberty at the time but his friends were whispering about Nefer, longing to touch her foreign skin and he had related to them like he was now to the soldiers. The fact that they knew it was only an impossible fantasy made it even more enticing to daydream about and to talk about to others who felt the same.

The guards couldn't have the Prince, like he and his friends wouldn’t ever have a chance with Nefer. The only thing they could do was to share their favorite fantasies about Teo.

But they shut up whenever they heard the steps of the Commander when he was checking over his troublesome prisoner once an hour. Never had the man said a lewd thing about his Prince, well not that Adriel was aware of. The Commander had only devoted words for the Horus but Adriel could perceive a more carnal adoration for Teo in each word of the Commander than in the obscenities of the lower guards and it was brushing him the wrong way.

It wasn’t that he gave a flying fuck about this royal scumbag, but he couldn’t help himself. Each word from the Commander was like a knife poking him and, many times, the prisoner felt like the man was doing it to him on purpose, antagonizing him by always mentioning the Prince as though he owned him, instead of the opposite. The Commander took any chance he got to say ‘The Mighty Horus and I...’ or ‘When I meet with the Sacred Son, we…’ like he was Teo’s Princess consort and it was driving Adriel crazy even more than the seclusion.

Why would Teo bother to have sex with this guy when he already had in his palace two full aisles filled with sex-dolls? Besides, the Commander was probably dull behind his impressive helmet. The Prince wouldn’t have any use for a passive and ordinary lover and the Commander was enough a clever son of a bitch to know that.

It was probably the reason for the Commander’s hatred. Adriel wasn't impressed by the Horus and was even insulting him. Still, the Prince had laid a hand on Adriel, biting him and wanting to own Adriel’s flesh to the point of branding it. The Commander had no falcon-brand mark, only one on a badge, and Adriel sneered, feeling high from the venom.

Was he really considering himself lucky for getting tormented by the Prince?

By the falcon badge floating above him, he knew the unusual voice which had surprised him was from the Commander. Indeed, he thought, the Prince was still naked and it must be the reason behind the odd, shaky tone used by the Commander when he had taken the Horus’ orders.

Adriel had a low chuckle, guessing that the Commander was probably staring at the Prince’s lower region, itching to touch it but stopped by the fear and respect. The struggle between desire and duty must be obvious on his features but thankfully for him hidden behind the mask. Well, Adriel couldn't call him out for that and from his position on the ground, he took in Teo’s details with his eyes.

From his point of view, the Prince looked like a pure gold statue of a God, surrounded by begging believers, and for a brief moment, he called himself a fool for refusing to listen to his desire. But then he met the smug smirk of the Prince, locking eyes with him and he remembered why he had been so stubborn about it. This motherfucker had provoked him, tricked him and put him in jail, where he had been humiliated.

Only his hate prevented him from jumping the Prince’s bones and the idea that Teo wanted him to bottom, but it was enough to calm down his dick. Letting loose his desire would be to admit he was attracted to him and that wouldn't happen. He was far too proud for that.

The Commander was waiting for the Prince’s order. Teo would say Adriel had just dared to grope him. It was a lie but nobody would bother to believe a prisoner against the word of such a powerful Royal. Touching a Royal without his consent was a crime and the Commander would be happy to end the life of someone who was bold enough to do what he was craving to do for himself.

Adriel braced himself against his incoming death, to not let out a whimper.

“No, he didn’t. He is probably impotent,” the Prince replied with calm contempt.

Adriel, startled, looked up, his face twisted in rage at the lie, even if the lie was saving his life. If the prisoner could get his hands on the Prince he would show him how impotent he was.

“But he has been arrogant and dishonest with me and deserves punishment.”

Adriel couldn't contest Teo's statement about him being arrogant. Indeed, his behavior was reckless and carefree from a man depending on the royal orders; he knew it was insane and he had been acting like he had a death wish. But the comment about dishonesty gave him a sour taste in his mouth. He had always been honest, too genuine for his own good, his father had told him many times. It was true he didn't want to be locked up in a harem, sharing or being passive wasn't in his nature.

But he had lied about not desiring the Prince. Adriel craved for a taste of his golden flesh, but as a lover, not a sex slave. That he could have those kinds of thoughts for such a monster was revolting to him and he blamed Machaon’s stupid cursed love story for messing up his mind. But whatever the reason was, he wanted the bastard and the Royal son of a bitch knew it and wasn’t fooled by any front Adriel put up.

For Adriel, this fact tormented him much more than whatever was waiting for him in the Seth Hole. It was like, while in jail, Adriel’s pride had taken the place of a real organ. The Prince could tell them to break every bone in his body, as a Royal, he had the right, but Adriel’s pride was out of his reach and so, the prisoner was fiercely determined to keep it that way.

“Your wish is my command, Mighty Horus,” the Commander replied with a bow, his voice heavy with ardor. “What are your orders?”

Nothing could please the Commander more than killing him. Adriel could picture in his mind the man smiling, even if he never got to see his face. From day one, this Lumen had hated him with passion. It could be out of jealousy, even if Adriel was in jail because of the Prince’s order. Forbidden love could bend a man’s mind.

Teo licked his lips while the blackness of his iris faded to be replaced by the amber color.

“Get the Seth Hole ready.”

****

Even if he knew it was pointless and whatever drugs in Teo’s saliva were slowing him down, Adriel fought the guards the best he could. He even gave the Commander a sharp punch to the gut and kicked them around. Machaon was soon awoken by the noise, pleading with him to stop.

The Prince wasn’t scared at all, however, smirking slyly as he watched Adriel fighting his guards.

“Don’t hurt him too much, Commander,” Teo said in a saccharine voice. “He is mine to hurt.”

The comment looked like riling up the Commander who got Adriel in a hold, against the cell floor.

“He is here at your feet, where he belongs, your Highness,” the Commander said, an excited tremor in his voice and Adriel tried to break free, struggling with every fiber of his being, unable to stand being humiliated in front of the Prince. “Your servant is ready to obey your next command!”

“I must say I’m not impressed, Commander,” the Prince answered slowly. “I bite this man and you are four against one, and yet he still manages to resist you. I should punish you for being too weak to be effective in obeying your Prince’s commands.” Teo’s tone was icy and Adriel could feel the shiver running through the bulky body above him.

“Yes, my lord,” the Commander replied in a strangled voice like he was the one being held and pressed down.

He put even more strength in his hold, ready to snap Adriel’s shoulder, but the prisoner grinned through his pain. The jerk of a Commander had been scolded by his idol and even if he knew it would bring even more hatred and bad treatment from him, Adriel felt a weird satisfaction burning in his chest. It wasn’t because the prince had kind of praised him, but because this ass-kisser had got what he deserved.

Teo kneeled in front of him, playing with Adriel’s sweat-drenched hair and the prisoner tried to avoid the hand and even to bite it, but he was too crushed by the weight of the Commander to really be able to resist.

“You don’t know it but you’re pretty interesting,” the Prince whispered. “You keep asking me to try to hurt you more by being so stubborn. You resist against hypnosis, venom, and even my natural charisma,” the Prince sneered. “Please continue to do so. You entertain me so much. It’s such a shame I’ve got other duties or I would play with you all day long.”

Adriel replied with a low growl. He knew Teo was trying to bend his mind by doing some reverse psychology shit that Machaon had told him about and that his father the High Priest had already attempted to do.

“If I could fuck you up your prick ass, I bet you would be even more entertained,” he spat, to show the Prince his words weren’t getting to him and even lying at his feet, he had still his fighting spirit up. “You wouldn’t be able to walk straight to your other duties.”

Adriel had just finished uttering his insult when the Commander smashed his head into the floor with a violent curse and Adriel could feel the coppery taste of blood in his mouth. The son of a bitch had probably broken his nose but suddenly he didn’t feel the weight of the guard over him. Dizzy from the venom still in his bloodstream, from the exhaustion from the fight and from the vicious hit he just got, it took him a moment to realize he was free and that the Commander was now lying on the ground a few feet away.

“Disobey me again,” the Prince hissed, “and I will send you beyond the wall. I will deal with him by myself. What do I need you for?”

There were some others words harshly spoken but Adriel didn’t have the time to process that Machaon was right when he had said misbehaving Lumens were sent beyond the wall before the handsome face was leaning above him, golden eyes gleaming like fire.

It was a glimpse of what Hell looked like, Adriel thought and he felt fear.

The creature was a demon from the ancient cult on Earth and he could see where they were coming from as he looked deeply into those eyes, seeing flames and melted gold. The more he stared back, the more he could feel it, the heat, the cry of tortured sinners, the slash of the whip and, all over the place, the smell of blood.

“I’m sorry, Adriel, but it’s still my turn to have fun,” he whispered.

With a shiver, Adriel felt the cold lips brushing his ear.

“You won’t enjoy this but I need to break you in order to make you mine.”

And Adriel fell again into darkness, haunted by a hypnotic amber gaze.

****

When Adriel woke up, it was pitch black around him and he was tied up very tightly, his hands folded against his chest. He tried to struggle, to break free, but there wasn’t any give in whatever was tying him up.

But how it could be that dark, he thought and by moving his head, he bumped his forehead on a hard surface. He touched it again and he felt wood against his skin.

The realization struck him. He was locked up in a wood box, like a sarcophagus.

He was in a coffin. It was the promised Seth Hole. The Seth Hole was a sarcophagus, probably buried.

Panic took him but he tried to calm down, inhaling in harsh and short breaths, in order to keep as much oxygen as he could. He had no idea how long he would be locked up there, but considering how much of a sadistic monster Teo was, he could bet it would be a long time.

He must not think about it, he tried to reason. The only thing he had to do was to wait until Teo grew tired of keeping him there. But the Prince was a busy man, surrounded by pleasure slaves and drooling guards. Adriel guessed Teo had other duties as well.

The Horus was supposed to be the working arm of his father, the Regem. When the Regem made a decision in his private council, his heir was supposed to make sure the order was applied. The Regem was the legislative head and the Horus the executive. Adriel guessed it was tricky to really know if the decision was really the Regem’s and not Teo’s, led by a power trip. This blur was enough for people to respect and fear the Horus even more than the elusive Regem.

Teo’s days were probably evenly shared between royal duties and royal orgies. So what if he forgot he had put Adriel in there since he had more important things to do? What if he died from thirst before Teo remembered the arrogant prisoner?

No, he must not think about that. If he did, he would end up crazy. There was nothing to do, since he couldn’t break free, so he had no choice but to wait, to fill his mind with white noise and try to sleep, to suffer less of his situation.

Trying to understand the motives of the Prince was impossible. He wasn’t even human, to begin with, belonging to a species that he had only heard about. Moreover, his royal lifestyle must have messed with his brain. The mighty Horus could do whatever the fuck he wanted, by his position and also, by his own nature.

Adriel didn’t remember what had happened just before he was brought and tied up in the coffin but he could recall an intense golden stare. The Prince had talked about hypnosis, telling Adriel he was interesting because he was resistant to it like he seemed to be to the venom. It was indeed true that the venom didn’t affect him as the first time. But Teo’s comment about hypnosis not being effective was because he had tried to do it before. This time, it seemed like it had worked since he had been put into the sarcophagus without him remembering it, but he guessed it was because of the combined effect of the bite and hypnosis. But when had the Prince attempted to hypnotize him before?

Having nothing better to do, he tried to recall all his past moments with the Prince and which times Teo had looked at him with insistence. Their first encounter was still vivid in Adriel’s memory. He had recalled it so many times with part anger, part shame, and part longing. And then, he remembered it.

“You won’t do it,” Teo had said.

Had the Prince tried to prevent him from insulting the Regem, in order to protect him and grown interested when he had seen Adriel still firm about doing it? Was the bet for that, Teo being pushed by curiosity?

Had Teo brought him there to study him closer, using the Pyramid as a laboratory and him as an experiment?

“You want me. Say it.”

Earlier, the Prince had tried again to manipulate Adriel’s mind, but what was his purpose doing so? Why would Teo want Adriel to want him? Why, in the Temple’s garden, had Teo attempted to prevent him from making a scandal? It couldn’t be because he had any kind of genuine liking for him, Adriel stated in his mind, so not to have something as pointless as hope. If the Prince had sexual or romantic feelings for him, Adriel wouldn’t be there, tied up like a dead mummy.

He had to stop thinking and sleep now.

****

Adriel had lost track of time. He couldn’t count days as in his cell. Thankfully, having just pissed before getting there, he hadn’t wet himself, but he was as thirsty as hell, his tongue and throat being like the sandpaper the craftsman used to make the Temple’s statues. His whole body was all numb, after a while throbbing from being tied too tightly.

So far, he hadn’t tried to struggle or break free again since he had realized what had happened to him, in an attempt to spare his strength, but the fear that he had been forgotten took him again, with the thirst. If he tried to kick the coffin’s top, maybe it would make noise and if guards were walking around, they could report it to the Commander or the Prince himself.

However, all around him was eerie silence and it only made his anguish grow. At this point having the Commander kill him would be a blessing.

Led by blind panic, he raised his knees as much as he could and started to kick against the wood and, the fear now breaking free through him, he started to yell, even if he knew that if he was buried deeper than a foot in the ground, there was no way someone would hear him.

He was probably howling with despair for a while when a knock against the wooden cover made him stop.

Was it a delusion? Wasn’t he buried?

“It’s been four days, Adriel. It was about time your mind snapped. I was feeling lonely in my bed.”

He could recognize that voice, so clear and loud despite the coffin. It was like Teo was lying into it next to him.

He licked his lips, trying to get enough spit to actually speak after having yelled so much and not having drunk anything for days.

“You weren’t lonely, you motherfucker. Got your Commander to feel you up,” he muttered, trying so hard to speak clearly. It was crazy the first thing he said what an insult, but his hate of Teo was the only glimpse of him still there, whole and sane, keeping him together.

“He didn’t feel me up, for a good reason. He is dead.”

Teo’s answer was sweet as a purr but very loud at the same time, still like he wasn’t from the other side of the wooden boards but with Adriel in the Seth Box. He looked around him, his eyes one of the few parts of him still mobile. The bound man knew that on Earth, humans had technologies the Lumens had robbed from them, because the humans had been slaves to it, according to them. Did that explain how he could hear the Prince so clearly or it was a Royal’s magic, he wondered?

But that aside, the Prince had spoken with no particular emotion about his dead Commander and Adriel could only guess that Teo was the one who had demanded his execution.

It was insane, he told himself, remembering how devoted the Commander was. Why was he so deeply upset for a man he hated and whose face he had never seen? Teo was so wealthy in people, power, and money that he guessed the Prince didn’t feel any emotion or regret in having executed a loyal servant. But if Teo was ready to end such a faithful man, why the fuck Adriel was still alive?

“What do you want?” he asked, wanting to slap himself for the stupidity of his question. It was opening the door to some twisted Royal mind game. Now Teo would know he was anxious.

“I needed some inspiration to jerk off to and I found your screams were what I needed,” Teo replied, his voice like warm honey. “So, please, yell again, like a toddler scared of the dark!”

Adriel bit his lip to be sure to not even let out a whimper. Though he didn’t know by which trick, the Prince was apparently able to hear him as well as he could hear Teo, even if he had barely muttered a sound.

“You don’t want to please me? Fine. Just the idea of straddling over this little box I caught you in is enough to excite me. I will pump my cock until I come on this painted Seth’s face, picturing yours in my mind,” Teo murmured lecherously. “My moans will make you as hard as gold and you wouldn’t even be able to relieve yourself. Your balls will be ready to explode. I bet only licking one would be enough to make you blow!” Teo mocked, but his voice had a hitch to it.

Adriel’s throat grew even dryer at the idea that Teo was telling the truth about straddling the sarcophagus and pleasuring himself. Adriel grimaced at the idea of the desirable body climaxing almost within arm’s reach.

“You are here, tied up, helpless and thirsty and, whatever, you may think, I owe you,” Teo continued, his voice more strained. “You’re only a misbehaving pet in training, aren’t you? If I let you out, will you bite your master?”

“I’m not a fucking pet of yours,” Adriel grunted.

The thirst was ringing bells around Adriel's temples and the effort he made by shouting made him feel like his whole raw being was on fire. For a moment, he wondered if the Prince could care about him, as he had thought for a brief moment, and he hesitated, considering whether he could ask for a drink. The prince would make fun of him and his pride would be affected but maybe the Prince would grant his wish.

“You need water, do you? It’s the reason your voice is so hoarse. If you follow me to my palace, you can drink fresh water. Then you would eat a meal like you’ve never had. We can get drunk together and have sex. What do you think of that?” Teo asked. “Do you want to come with me?”

Now that the Prince had suggested it, asking for some water was out of the question and Adriel bit his lip even harder, sweat or tears running down his face. He couldn’t crack. It was painful, but he would rather die now than ask.

“Oh, you are probably too weak from the thirst to answer me. Let me help you.”

Adriel could hear the sound of liquid being poured and he struggled against his ties, desperately craving water. Suddenly light flooded Adriel’s eyes and he blinked, hurt by the brightness after days in darkness. He didn’t even have time to get a look at the shadow leaning over him before cold and wet lips pressed against his and he opened his mouth welcoming the water leaking in his mouth through the shared kiss.

It wasn’t much but even the small drink was a blessed reprieve from the dehydration he was suffering and Adriel involuntarily sighed with relief. He barely noticed as Teo’s lips left his.

“You want more, do you?” Teo asked, his eyes with a softer expression than usual.

Adriel, teased by the water, didn’t even remember what pride was and nodded, not even sure what sense he was giving to this ‘wanting more’. The important thing was to keep drinking.

The Prince smiled and he turned around to take another swing of water and Adriel fidgeted and wriggled in the bandages that kept him captive. He could now have a look at himself. He was lying in a sarcophagus but not buried. On the contrary, it was placed on a raised floor, in a narrow room. From where he was lying, he could only get a look at the upper part of the walls and the ceiling. From the walls, he could see there was painted tale of when Seth had killed Osiris and when he had tried to rape Horus, the sacred son. The thought of him made him uneasy, with images flooding his mind, and he decided to take the opportunity to look at himself instead and the coffin-jail he had locked in for four days.

The sarcophagus seemed to be divided into four parts and Teo had only lifted the part covering of his face down to the upper part of his body, where his crossed hands were tied to his chest with an intricate swaddle of bandages. How could he have been unconscious long enough to have been prepped in this way without remembering it?

He turned his head to the Prince, who was standing beside him, his handsome face studying him. Teo was wearing more clothes than the last time and fancier too, and Adriel could guess he had returned from the Palace or was about to head to it or else some ceremony. Teo’s hair was tied in a bun, a little disheveled and the leaked kohl was giving him bedroom eyes.

Adriel, looked away from his face, finding the sight too intimate a display and studied his clothes instead.

His tunic had a color the same hue as the sea did in some books he had seen, a deep gorgeous green lost in an ocean of blue and it made the honey color of his skin stand out even more. Only Royals could pay for such rare dye and a desire to rip the priceless tunic took Adriel, as did the urge to crush the pectoral of gold and turquoise underfoot, along with the long snake-like bracelet. And what was the point of covering himself with gold powder when his skin tone was already of the same color as the precious metal?

The Prince was better naked, with only his piercing jewel and maybe some blue nail polish on the toes, he decided.

The Prince was still leaning over him to share the water in another kiss and as he did, life came back to Adriel and also, arousal. He had never kissed since the time in the garden and turned on, he wanted to deepen it, but he was tied down, powerless and the realization of it kicked his brain into gear.

He broke the kiss and turned his head away.

“I’m not your dog that you can feed!” he growled. “If you want to give me water, give it to me properly.“

Teo stayed silent for a moment before a low chuckle made Adriel turn his head.

“What are you laughing for, you monster?”

Teo eyes were shining with real amusement and Adriel chastised himself for giving the Prince another opportunity to have his fun, even if he didn’t know what he had just done. The Prince licked his lips, like he was still appreciating the lingering taste of Adriel’s lips on his, taking his time to answer, as though he was weighing his words, or it was only a part of the Royal mind game.

“You won’t obediently follow me in the palace?” Teo asked, suddenly more serious but still with a smug smirk that made Adriel’s blood boil.

But, on the other hand, he wondered how the Prince would react to another refusal from him. He could simply slap back the coffin’s cover on Adriel’s face and forget about him, like he was a toy Teo had grown tired of. The Prince could have whatever or whoever he wanted, with that gorgeous look of his and his power. That a Royal was still entertained by torturing him was odd. But Adriel couldn’t yield. Yielding would make everything he had endured so far meaningless and the cocky asshole would get off on his power trip. Adriel couldn’t allow it.

“No,” he uttered. “Whatever you do, I won't ever follow you. I still have my pride. You can hurt my body and try to break my mind, but I’ve still got my soul and I won't give it over to you!”

Teo stayed expressionless but Adriel had the impression, for one moment, that the Prince was relieved by his answer. Had he played the bastard’s game, he wondered?

“A soul? What a boring thing!” Teo stated with disdain on his features. “You know what? I’m tired of feeding you. Guards!” he shouted.

Adriel’s heart was racing but he kept all his willpower to not let it show on his face, while guards were rushing into the room.

“Mighty Horus! What is your order?” the new Commander asked.

With a shiver, Adriel realized it was true, that the one who had hit him was gone or dead. It wasn’t the voice of the former Commander. What was the feeling of the Praetorian Guards now, Adriel wondered. Their chief had been executed just for smashing his nose, his, that of a mere human prisoner. But he could guess easily that in that they were no better than the humans, they were scared to death of the Royals.

“Get him out of there,” Teo said, his voice muffled by the heavy mask he had put back on his face. “Give him a bath, a neat loin cloth, some water and a piece of bread, then kick him unharmed out of the Pyramid. Do I make myself clear or do I have to remind you of the Former Commander?” Teo let his words sink into the mind of his servant, the threat obvious. “Oh and shave his awful beard! Humans hair is disgusting!” the prince uttered with heavy contempt. “And you, Adriel, I strongly suggest you to never talk about what happened here. Just get laid already with any human commoner able to stand your awful character!”

“Horus, your orders are my duties,” the man said with a bow but Teo was already walking out with long strides.

Adriel kicked himself out of the shock when the Commander was done unswaddling him. What the man thought of the orders was impossible to know because of the helmet covering his face but Adriel could easily guess the man was pissed to give him bodily care when he hated his guts.

Feeling free after four days of being tied was strange and his knees buckled his body completely numb but the Commander held him, to make him stand up and walk.

“Walk, scum. You have to get cleaned because the Prince has decreed it so.”

Adriel could easily bet that the man would rather drown him than clean him, but he was as powerless as him when he had been swaddled in the Seth-Sarcophagus.

His heart pounded louder when the blade to shave him was on his throat. Just one sharp move and his throat would have been sliced and the new Commander would say some shit about his hand having slid, but he was still alive and unharmed when the Commander was done.

He was still not believing what was happening to him, when he was led to the main door with a loincloth and a loaf of bread in hand, after having drunk two cups of water.

“The next time the Prince catches you, you won’t get away so easily with all your limbs. If I was you, I would run away or even enroll as a slave in one of the other kingdoms,” the Commander threatened. “Besides, when we are off duty we walk unmasked in the Capital streets. Don’t cross my path. And don’t even dare speak the name of the Prince,” he hissed in warning and he pushed open the heavy bronze door.

Adriel turned to look at the mask, picturing a face twisted in anger under it. He was about to answer that he was too much of a sub bitch to do something which maybe wouldn’t please his Prince but he looked at the sun shining outside and decided to not push his luck while he still had a foot in the Pyramid.

He knew the man was right about something. That he was leaving the Pyramid alive with only some twisted memories was miraculous. Memories would fade away, like sunburn, after a while.

“Suck him off for me,” Adriel said as a goodbye, knowing very well the Commander knew the Prince was ‘him’ and he walked into the light.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Adriel took a deep breath only after having heard the heavy door close, his cocky front now leaving him. His heart was racing like crazy at the idea of being free again. He didn’t remember how good it was to feel the sun on his skin, but he preferred to save his wonder for when he would be safe at home.

He had left the Pyramid alive and it was so miraculous that he didn’t want to linger in the shadow of his jail of the past two years. Who knows if Teo wouldn’t regret having let him flee unharmed?

He wasn’t sure where to walk to find his way home, alone after so much time and so little knowledge of Theba’s center. In the capital, he mostly knew the narrow streets where the cheap stores and taverns stood next to the walls, leading to the doors to the human neighborhood. The Pyramid was at the dead center of the city, just over the stream that separated the city into a West and East side. He knew the Human Priesthood was to the East and so he walked in this direction, but he decided to take advantage of his unique opportunity to walk in the fancy Royal Quarter.

Around him, several important buildings showed him their impressive facades, making him feel so small, in comparison. All were made from rare material and he guessed these were the homes of aristocrats or other government buildings. They were decorated with greenery and exotic flowers he had never seen. He didn’t stop but slowed down to smell the air, perfumed with sweet and rich scents, and listen to the birds singing. It was a magnificent setting for the fairest diamond. Moved by instinct, although he continued to move the opposite direction from the Pyramid, because it was out of the question that he stopped before being out of sight, he turned around to take a look on the Royal Quarter behind him. On the east side, the palace of the Rising Sun belonging to the Horus shone with fires, sparkling like a sheaf of jewels under the sunbeams. For a brief moment, a thought hit him that he could have been there, in this luxurious palace with a man just as gorgeous. Then, Adriel shook his head to make the image fade away. It was only the Prince’s mind games, nothing more, and besides, he would never give away his freedom to get a pair of gold handcuffs.

The idea that maybe Teo could see him despite the distance made him walk faster. Perhaps all of this was another royal game of his. Teo was playing the cat, having let the mouse flee only to have more fun catching it again.

From the little he knew about the Horus, it could be true, he thought, feeling a pit in his stomach.

Adriel decided to leave the wealthy neighborhood as soon as he could and he walked with shaky legs away from the palace, trying to make a path through the colorful crowd in Theba’s Lumen plebe streets. He only stopped walking once because he was feeling dizzy and needed to drink at a public fountain to not faint. After Teo’s shared water, the new Commander had given him some, but he couldn’t get enough of this wonderful brewage and drank five full cups while eating his bread, now that he was out of sight. People were looking at him, whispering about him when they had passed by, with concerned looks on their faces. Adriel had supposed he looked awful. He didn’t have a look at his own face for ages and after been locked up in Seth hole, he was certainly not looking great.

He had stopped at a cheap jewel shop to have a look at his face and at first, he didn’t recognize himself and he had to touch his own face to be sure it was indeed him that he looked at.

The image was the one of a grown-up man, very masculine with the square jaws, a little paler than what he remembered being, but no wonder after having been in jail so long, in the shade. His eyes had still the same grey-green color, but with a different expressiveness. It was like his mouth. Adriel had pillowy lip and he hated that when he was young because he was always looking like he was pouting. But now they were not the sulking lips of a brat, but those of a man having kissed a lover, then had cursed his name, tasting his own blood and tears.

The face wasn’t the only thing having changed, he realized after taking a step back. He was definitely bulkier. Adriel felt a bit of amazement mixed with remorse at the idea that his muscles were all thanks to Macheon’s stubbornness about his training. In fact, except for the last days, when he had been buried alive in that coffin, he hadn’t suffered too much physically from his imprisonment. Adriel had left the Pyramid without even a goodbye for the man who had cared for him and taught him much more than his own father did in the last almost two years.

A little pouch was tied to his loincloth and he had waited to be away to have a look at it since he had noticed a ringing sound while jumping to avoid being splashed with dirty water. Now that he had walked for almost thirty minutes, he was feeling safer in the middle of a public place to have a look at the pouch and get rid of it if it was a tracking device like Teo could have used. With a careful gesture, he untied the lace of the leather pouch and amazed, he found in it twelve silver coins.

Even before having been thrown in jail, Adriel had never had money to himself. His food, his clothes, all were from the Temple and its means by the generosity of the Royals. The shiny coins in this pouch weren’t any better, except for the fact that they were fully his. With his mind racing, he wondered if it was a mistake and the money had not been given to him on purpose. It was indeed a possibility more acceptable for his pride than the idea that Teo had spared him so much pocket money as make-up for the loss of two years. But if it was a mistake, Adriel was stealing and for an honest soul like his, it was repulsive. But he was sure not returning there, and he pondered what he could do.

He didn’t know the price on the current market after two years gone. He guessed he could probably buy some of the cheap jewels he saw earlier and a new tunic. Then, he could go to the brothel and eat, drink and fuck without any rest for a week or so. It would be a great way to celebrate his new freedom. But Machaon had taught him better.

The price to enter the House of Life was around that amount, and it was his only way out of the Temple, a place that had never suited him or his taste. To escape from wherever the genes of their forefather trapped them, hard workers could save their earnings, rather than blowing them at Ripe Fig Brothel, to instead buy their way to a more suitable career, a ‘reorientation of the path’ at the House of Life.

He knew little about it, only that it was on the West Side of Theba and that you could only enter with an appointment. Then, there were numerous exams for days. A panel of Lumens would examine the case, and if you were more clever, skilled or stronger than regular men, you could enter the House of Life where you would be taught a new ‘path.’ This path could take a varied amount of time depending on the path in question but the result was to give a few more life opportunities, like doing accounting for a Lumen’s business, being a caregiver like Nefer had looked to be or just a mid-rank military instead of low in the infantry. Then, you could earn a better income, less than Lumen, but better than humans’ and you were allowed to live in the city. It was indeed a better fate but the tricky part was that the coins weren’t refunded if you failed. It was the reason a very few humans tried to enter the House of Life. Saving money was already hard and so, risking losing it for nothing wasn’t tempting at all, but Adriel could pretend to have hope at least for the military. Machaon had taught him how to fight and if he had managed to give such a hard time to the guards at the Pyramid it was because of the old man’s lessons.

He clenched his fist on the silver coins and found them cold as Teo’s lips. It was a bad omen, he decided, even if he wasn’t superstitious and Adriel decided to wait. Anyway, he had his own father to whom he had to announce that he was alive and it was his first duty to fill. Once this done, he would consider the question.

After having debated with himself, he had to admit he was lost and he asked the way to his home to the first human he saw. Adriel didn’t remember the alleys and streets being so intricate in this city but after fifteen minutes more, he found himself in front of the Human Priests’ door. He had a moment of worry in front of the guard, even if this one wasn’t wearing any mask. But he couldn’t go through the door without his ID and the reason for his leaving and return and he wondered what he could say.

“Long time not having seen you, novice. Pass already,” the guard told him and Adriel compelled his face to stay smooth despite his huge shock and relief. With a quick nod, he walked the steps separating the free capital to one of the human ghettoes.

The priesthood was the smallest of all the human ghettoes and Adriel quickly found himself in front of the Temple. Being at this very familiar place after such a long absence was making Adriel feel like he was dreaming. In his memories, the Temple wasn't that shabby and it was strange for a man who had just left such a narrow cell to be disappointed by the home of his teens.

An odd feeling crept into his chest and he didn't feel at all the comfort and the relief he believed he would. Having seen Teo's impressive palace must have been playing with his mind, he decided. There was no reason he felt so reluctant to enter his home, where he would be safe and not at the mercy of a kinky sadist.

He decided to take a bold step in and without bothering about the curious looks and whispers of the low-rank priests, he went straight to the High Priest’s ‘apartment’. His father was there, leaning over some younger man, barely older than Adriel himself who was sitting on Adel’s bed. What they were about to do was easy to tell and Adriel stopped in his tracks, stunned. That his father got a young lover wasn’t a crime, but the High Priest was well known for his moderation from a part, and as for the other, his father was old, unattractive and poor. How the fuck he could get a willing younger partner?

The High Priest turned toward the newcomer with an irate look that only lasted one moment. Saying that his father hadn’t expected his coming back was an understatement.

The old man was staring at him, with bulging eyes and gaping with shock, a hand clenching at his chest like he was having a stroke.

“I’m back,” Adriel said and he wondered what more he could tell about his miraculous return. Everybody attending the flood ceremony that day in the Temple had heard that the novice was brought to the Pyramid and everybody knew what that meant. Nobody ever left the Pyramid alive and after such a public outburst, Adriel was even more certainly promised to a horrible fate. The Regem should have made an example of such a rebellious act and show the heretic’s head on a pike. That Adriel was almost unscathed, just pale and with a nasty scar, could even be seen as a weakness from the powerful ruler. Well, Teo wasn’t the Regem, but all the odds of his situation appeared to him again, looking at his father’s bewilderment. Boasting about it would only bring him bad news. The memory from the Seth Hole was still too vivid for Adriel to make such a stupid misstep. Not with this crazy royal motherfucker still in the city. “They didn’t need me anymore and I guess they grew tired of keeping me in jail,” he lied.

While the information was sinking slowly into his father’s mind, the younger one glared at him.

“Who is this guy?” he asked with a jealous gleam in his gray eyes and Adriel took in the details of him better, puzzled by this man not looking like a novice at all. Though not as stunning as Teo, the man had a handsome face, long, silver-blond hair, like Adriel had never seen. Very few people in Theba had blond hair and it gave him a supernatural look. Also, from what Adriel could see the stranger had a nice body. Suddenly, Adriel noticed it. The unknown young man was wearing a copper collar, unveiling his identity. He was a ‘pet’, and his heart missed a beat. Pets were unaffordable to humans. The only means to get one was to have them offered by a high-ranked Lumen, with the Regem’s permission, if they were very content with you for some reason. Pets were a specific brand of pleasure slave, gorgeous but raised to satisfy their master. They were taught very refined sexual technique in a special Flesh Academy, where they were pampered to be ready for the time they could be sold came. The most promising ones were delivered to the palace, to be either in the harem of a Royal or to be given to a great servitor of the people. Other pets could be bought only by the aristocratic Lumens, as sexual outlet or as a showy proof of their wealth and social standing. More pets they had, more important figures they were. When their master grew tired of them, they could sell them on to lower Lumens or in a very unique case, give them to a human. How could his father have gotten this favor? In the Pyramid, he had often wondered if his father had suffered some recrimination for Adriel’s reckless attitude. It was very probable, he had told himself with remorse, when he was brooding in his cell. But obviously, he had been worried for no reason. The Grand Priest was doing fine if he got a Lumen’s gift with the Regem’s authorization.

Since his father was still speechless, Adriel decided to introduce himself.

“I’m his son,” he declared. “And who are you?”

“His son? You don’t even look alike!” the other stated, his voice dripping with suspicion.

This was a comment Adriel was used to hearing. It was indeed true that he had nothing alike with the High Priest, neither in appearance or character. But it wasn’t the issue here. This little bastard hadn't answered him.

“I don't give a shit about your opinion,” Adriel replied threateningly. “Answer my damn question.”

“I’m Mikelle,” the other spat. “I’m a royal reward for a good servant of the Sun” he added with an arrogant pout, showing off his collar like it was an object of pride. Adriel’s mind raced at the word ‘royal.’ If Teo was involved in this, it was bad news. But maybe it was the only Regem’s will, and the Horus Prince had nothing to do with it. His father had always kissed the ass of the Regem and his court, so even if it was very hard to believe he deserved such a favor, it could be.

He looked at his father who gradually seemed to recover from his initial shock.

“How...did you escape?” he managed to say. “Everybody knew that nobody left the Pyramid alive!” he exclaimed. “If they found out you escaped, they would come right here, looking for you and I will be in big trouble again!”

So, this was his father’s main concern? He just discovered the son he was supposed to mourn was alive and healthy and the man was more worried to lose his pet!

“I didn’t escape,” he snapped. Adriel was already feeling the awkwardness he had always felt in the Temple and that he had forgotten about and remembered that he had never gotten along with his father. It wasn’t only a generation gap. Machaon was around the same age as his father and even if his cellmate was a nutcase, Adriel had genuinely liked the man and had felt with him a connection that he had never had with the High Priest. “I told you. They let me go.”

Adriel could have been more detailed and told them he had been freed by the Horus himself, but even if he didn’t give a damn about the threat of the Praetoriate, self-conservation shut him up.

“I guess they found me troublesome enough, like you always did,” he sneered. “They kicked me out.”

Adriel could have also said that they even gave him bread and some silver coins, but his story already looked too hard to stomach for the Grand Priest.

“Well, I don’t know why you’re so flabbergasted about it,” he continued, snarling. “Maybe you were right all along and they are not that bad. They even gave you a present!” he spat, ogling Mikelle. “So, don’t worry. They would not take him back. They know I’m free and don’t care, same as do !”

Adriel hadn’t meant to be so aggressive in the first ten minutes of his return. In his cell, at the Pyramid, he had often daydreamed about coming back home. But he had never pictured returning in these odd conditions, with his so-called father almost mad about his return and cherishing a new pet more than his own son. Adriel had often thought in his teens that the High Priest was giving him care because it was what the Lumens wanted him to do and now he felt validated. But even if it felt good to have been right, Adriel was also hurt and lost. He could understand his father’s confusion about him being alive and he guessed all his past acquaintances would feel the same and not want to be under the same roof as a possible fugitive.

“Are you telling the truth? Did they let you go?” his father again asked, not denying not caring, but obviously troubled. “But what did you do for two years? Did they send you fight in another kingdom? Did they use you as a soldier?”

His father’s face looked full of wonder. Adriel understood it was probably an assumption because of his muscles, but he knew he couldn’t give an honest answer.

“I trained in my cell,” he only replied, as casually he could manage. “I had nothing better to do.”

Mikelle didn’t look satisfied.

“This so-called son of yours didn’t tell us everything. He is hiding something!” he hissed, hate obvious on his features. But Adriel wasn’t impressed a bit. He had dealt with much more impressive characters, he thought, remembering shiny, amber eyes.

“This is your call,” Adriel told his father. “If I’m too bothersome for you, I will leave this place I called home before for good. I survived leaving the Pyramid and the Prince’s wrath. I would survive you preferring a twink to me.”

Adriel shut himself up. He had said too much. He should not have brought up the Prince’s name in this. He could tell from the troubled face his father made.

"The Prince’s wrath?” the High Priest stammered. “Did you do something else to arouse the Horus’s anger? Did you encounter him again?”

Adriel was quick to deny.

“Of course not. I meant the wrath from the time I splashed blood on him.”

“Yes, are you stupid, Adel?” Mikelle said carelessly and Adriel was stunned of the lack of respect toward the High Priest from a mere pet. “The Horus has better to do than wasting his precious energy to visit and be angry at a visitor. It must be the reason he is alive,” Mikelle sneered. “The Prince forgot about him the second your son had been brought to the Pyramid.”

Mikelle was glaring hard at him and Adriel wanted to make the pet swallow his words, but he couldn’t without saying too much. Adriel knew that the Prince wasn’t as forgetful that the pet claimed it to be. Maybe Teo didn’t have it in mind, all the months he was gone, but for an almost living god, Teo had been pretty busy thinking about mind games to break Adriel more. But of course, nobody would believe him if he told them he had seen the Prince unmasked and naked and that the Horus made him sexual propositions. He pictured his father’s shock if he told them that he had even kissed Teo once. It was useless to recall these things, he told himself. It was doing nothing except confusing him and speaking of them aloud would be dangerous.

This pet was the one unworthy for Adriel to care about, he decided, even if the young man was mockingly grinning at him because he wasn’t denying having been forgotten. He looked at his father again, waiting to be kicked out.

“You had acted foolishly and I cannot help but feel they were right to punish you. But if after such a crime, they left you alive and released you, it’s because the gods had a mission for you,” the old man started explaining slowly, his face clearly expressing his confusion about the royal goals. “I cannot refuse to welcome one chosen by them into my house. Moreover, the Lumens tasked me to treat you like my son and to raise you to be a grand priest when the time came. I never disobeyed orders and for this reason, they rewarded me with him,” he concluded grabbing the pet closer to him.

Mikelle rolled his eyes at this, with an exasperated sigh, but Adriel was more hurt and pissed by his father’s decision. The High Priest didn’t welcome his son because he had actually missed him. He accepted Adriel, because it what was the Lumen required from him more than a decade ago and therefore, he couldn’t disobey an order. That and the silly idea Teo let him out to fill a purpose. He blinked once, swallowing the disappointment of being greeted in such a cold way after an absence of almost two years. In jail, he had obviously forgotten what a dull character his father was, only passionate about kissing Lumens’ ass and worshipping Royals.

“I will demand they serve us a special dinner,” Adel said, maybe reading in his son’s mind. “And wine. I got three jars at the same time as Mikelle, a few days ago.”

“A few days ago,” Adriel repeated, stunned. A few days ago meant when Teo was back and Adriel locked up in the Seth Hole. Why reward the High Priest when his son was so stubborn and he was simply executing the commandant of his guards? That didn’t make any sense. Except if it was the Regem’s decision and not the Horus’s. It was the first thing to clear up, because any doing from the Horus could only be bad news for Adriel.

“You certainly pleased the Regem for him to grant you wine and pet. Humans never got such nice treatment! What did you do?”

The High Priest darkened.

“I devoted all my life to them,” he retorted, his voice clipped. “It’s not that surprising. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s because of me that you still live.”

It was bullshit, Adriel knew that, but the answer left him uneasy.

“Your room is still available. Wash your hands and your face. I will ask they give you new clothes, more fitting priest's attire. Now, you can leave,” his father said, probably remembering what he was about to do when Adriel had walked on them, that meaning sex with a hottie forty years his junior.

Angry to be dismissed that way, disgusted to see his father with a pet, not even respectful, Adriel left, regretting deeply that his own room was so close to the High Priest’s one. Hearing his father grunt while he was thrusting into a body as young as his own was far too disturbing.

His room hadn’t changed that much. It was still narrow and empty of any fancies and in a way, almost similar to his cell, just maybe four feet wider. The rare items giving personalization to the room had been removed and Adriel guessed his room as served as a spare one for guests while he was in jail. He lay down on his bed, realizing he was even too tired to stay mad. In his bed, he realized he had indeed become broader, because his bed felt smaller than before. But the bed sheets were a little softer than in jail and they were clean, smelling of childhood memories. A sunbeam lightened the room from the open window bringing fresh air. But what was the best was the privacy. His father could have been a jerk to him and this pet could be an annoying bitch, but it was far better than jail. Well, anything would be nicer than the Pyramid, nagged by the Horus Praetorian guards. Now he could piss and jerk off alone, not having to wait for his cellmate to sleep. He would be able to sleep eight hours straight, without sharing his bed.

His stomach grumbled and he thought about the dinner promised, with wine. He never had wine before and decided that he should be content with this honor. Maybe his father was more glad of his return that he showed? But what if the wine had been given by Teo? It could be poisoned. But that wasn’t making sense either. Why leave him alive if the Prince was to poison him? Teo would have more fun to end him himself or at least, in front of him. Such a cowardly killing method as the poison wasn’t him. Adriel suddenly realized that he knew the Horus much more than his father and the other humans did. Much more than this little pet, that’s for sure.

He had to know if the wine was coming from the Rising Sun Palace. His father wouldn't tell, but maybe this little Mikelle would happily boast about where he came from. Maybe if the High Priest left him and Mikelle alone to drink wine, he would tell Adriel about his previous owner or about from whom he was a gift.

It was weird to be alone in his room, without the guards walking outside. He had a last thought for Machaon, before falling asleep, but what was following him in his dreams was a pair of golden eyes.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Adriel would have slept longer, but knocking at his door, louder and louder, awoke him. Ghasel, his father’s servant, was there to remind him he needed to get ready to attend the celebration for his return.

“Please, young master Adriel! You can’t be late when this dinner has been made for you!” he pleaded from the other side of the door.

“Give me five minutes,” Adriel growled. He was used to having his sleep interrupted and the old servant had a nicer way of doing it, but it was still pissing him off. He was in the middle of a dream and a good one, he realized, glancing down at his boner. He had no memory of it and preferred to not let his mind linger on the topic. Of course, the wing of the Horus had brushed his subconscious again. He had felt his shadow on him too long.

He didn’t have the time to jerk off to get rid of his erection and he cursed his dick under his breath until his cock became soft again.

“Come in,” he shouted.

The servant stormed in, fussing. “I let you sleep longer than I should have, and your father has asked to celebrate your return with magnificence unusual for mere humans like us.”

Adriel doubted his father was so glad to see him again that he had spent the little gold savings he had. He was probably only faking to keep face and please the Lumens since he was convinced of doing their wills by greeting back his son.

“It’s already sunset, young master and you need to look your best to thank the High Priest for his generosity,” the servant urged, handing him some folded clothes. “You need to wash.”

Ghasel was in the service of the High Priest since Adriel’s grandfather’s time and of course, in his loyalty, he couldn’t badmouth his master. It was another of the High Priest’s advantages. No other among the humans had a servant. But it wasn’t enough to make Adriel want the position. He didn’t want to have someone kissing his ass, even less if that meant he should kiss the Lumens’. Adriel wasn’t his father. But all of this wasn’t Ghasel’s fault. The old man had never been rude or mean to him and he couldn’t vent his ire on him.

But, either way, a good meal was an appealing prospect and without a fight, he went to the washroom.

The washroom was a plain room, with a dull, unpainted wall for the use of all the Temple’s priests. The uneven ceramic floor sloped down to make the water flow to the drain. Some shower heads were embedded in the ceiling, and Adriel stood under one of those with a sigh of well-being. Even if he already got washed at the Pyramid, it wasn’t the same. He wasn’t watched by pissed off guards, mad that he would leave the Pyramid unscathed when the Commander had been killed because of him for a lesser insult.

He lowered his head, under the splashing lukewarm water, still feeling like he was watched even if he knew it was only a delusion of his mind. How long it would take for these memories to fade away? How long he would take to feel safe and free again? Two months? Three? Never?

All of this was that motherfucker golden boy’s fault, he thought while washing the scar on his thigh. The prince had messed with Adriel in a way hard to forget. Now he was home, and, even if his father didn’t look overly pleased to see him, Adriel was now free to lead his life, at least as free as they could be under Lumens’ rules.

He turned off the water and wiped himself dry.

He was stronger than this. He would wipe Teo from his mind, like the water droplets from his skin. Tonight, for the first time in his life, he would get drunk and probably tomorrow, the gleaming eyes of the Horus would have dimmed in his memory.

Adriel put on the long, white tunic with the one-shoulder leopard skin that was only used on great occasion and papyrus sandals. It had been a while since he had shoes and felt like the accessories were foreign and useless. He had a short-lived thought about what Teo would think to see him in his best outfit. Then, he decided it was foolish. The Crowned Prince was used to more luxury and would not even notice. Besides, Adriel didn’t give a damn about Teo’s opinion, because, anyway, he wouldn’t ever see him again.

Since his beard had been shaved at the Pyramid, it didn’t take long before Adriel was ready to attend the dinner. He was feeling mixed emotions about it. This ‘pet’ looked like bad news to him and the lack of eagerness from his own father wasn’t something to give him enthusiasm. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that it wasn’t his father that changed so much, but him, instead, who had become more exclusive. Anyway, he wasn’t unhappy before meeting with Teo, just bored. Now he would return to this gloomy state of emptiness. Anyway, anything was better than his cell, he repeated, now wrapped in his ceremonial clothes. The tunic was tight since he’d gotten buffer. The last time he’d had to wear these clothes had been at the Flood ceremony, almost two years ago. That time, he wanted so badly to impress the handsome young man he had met in the Temple garden. Adriel must have realized that the stranger was too gorgeous to be human. How blind and damn dumb he had been, he cursed mentally, not for the first time. Today, he had nobody to impress and he felt even dumber to feel sad about it.

“Here, some perfumed oil,” the old servant said, handing him an alabaster bottle and Adriel looked at it with disbelieving eyes. Since when they were so loose with perfume? From what he was aware of, his father only got one bottle, given by the Regem many years ago as a reward for a good ass-kissing ceremony almost a decade ago. The High Priest never used it, leaving the bottle sealed as a way to show off to visitors, on a shelf in the ceremonial room. That his father had opened the bottle and was even sharing with him was odd. Had he been wrong, and his father cared for him more than he thought?

“With the arrival of the Pet, we got many gifts,” Ghasel explained, understanding Adriel’s wonder. “At his other place, he was used to luxury, so he came along with dozens of bottles for his use. Young Master Mikelle agreed to spare a bottle for your own use.”

The words ‘young Master Mikelle’ shocked Adriel like a slap. Before he got imprisoned, he didn’t have favored treatment above the other novices. The only thing distinguishing him from them was his room was next to the High Priest’s and he got called ‘Young Master’, like the heir he was. Anger and indignation filled him to hear this pet called the same. It was like this shiny sex slave who arrived in the Temple only a few days ago was his equal and the very idea of it was making him gag.

“He isn’t your young master,” Adriel snapped, his eyes flashing with anger. “He is only a boy toy. If my father likes to caress his tainted flesh, it’s the High Priest’s business. But out of his bedroom, this cocksucker is nothing!”

A deep embarrassment appeared on the old man's face.

“Please,” he said, “for your own sake, don’t be so harsh on the young man. The High Priest is very fond of him.”

Of course, he was, Adriel though furiously. The Pet was a rare gift from a Royal, something all the humans from all the hoods would be envious of. Moreover, this Mikelle was good-looking for someone into precious, effeminate little bitches. He didn't know that much about the High Priest’s sex or life story. There were things a son didn't know and do; his father's bedroom business never interested him. But he knew for sure his father never had got such a pretty and young partner. His father was past sixty when humans barely reached seventy-five years old. The oldest man that Adriel ever heard of was Ghasel, being around eighty. He was so old that the servant himself had lost count of his age. But Mikelle looked not even twenty-years-old and had a nice ass, so, of course, the pet was leading him by the balls.

“We will see about that,” he replied. He hadn't yielded to Teo's power and beauty. He wouldn’t be put off for some fancy whore. The fact that the guy was offering him the precious oil when he had been so aggressive earlier was for him a bad omen. It could be a peace offering, but Adriel didn't care. He was determined to ignore him the best that he could, apart from asking him where he came from like he had decided to, before falling asleep. “I don't need perfume. I ain't a bitch to accept gifts from this pet. I washed. It's enough!”

“But the High Priest had demanded pleasure slaves to improve the meal!” Ghasel exclaimed. “You need to be perfumed if you want to mate with one of them to show your father is wealthy for a human.”

Adriel snapped his head around, more troubled than turned on by the prospect his father had gone so far as to rent whores to greet him back. Pleasure slaves, even if they weren't expensive as pets. Pets were selected and trained to be flesh experts. Pleasure slaves were like cheap whores in comparison. They were the descendants of the more useless humans who left Earth three centuries ago. But even if they weren’t as good and beautiful as the pets were, it was something that humans could barely afford. They worked in brothels, most of the time, the Ripe Fig being the most famous, since it was the only one out of the pleasure slave hood that some low Lumens attended too. But they could be hired for banquets in groups of three, when humans had something very important to celebrate, like when a child left the Hive to join his father's place. When he had entered the Temple for the first time, his father didn't do anything extraordinary. He had learned very quickly the High Priest was stingy. So why all these sudden expenses?

The answer came to him in a blink.

“This is the pet's idea, isn't? He has decided to rob my father of all his savings? ” It wasn't only about that he didn't like his father taken for a fool. It was his inheritance, too, that got spent for the whim of this bitch.

“As you said, this is the High Priest’s businesses and I’m not allowed to meddle in it. It isn’t my job to discuss his decision either, but let an old man give you advice,” Ghasel said with concern. “All of your youth, you never bothered to please your father. Your reckless attitude at the Flood ceremony covered this place with shame but mostly fear. What you did could have meant the end of all the Priesthood. The Regem has his own Temple and the Horus Prince, too. They doesn’t need us. We are only a human place of worship,” Gashel explained, riled-up in a way Adriel had never seen since when he was a young brat doing shenanigans.

“But did you think about any of us? You know we could have been executed for your insolence. The High Priest had often been worried that your rebellious character and hatred of Lumens would bring us sorrow one day. He had judged you right. You acted foolishly and got imprisoned for a long time. How you managed to get out of there with no harm and still be this bold is beyond me. Consider yourself lucky and cherish what you have got before you get yourself in trouble again. Young Mikelle is your complete opposite. He tries to please the High Priest in every way. Picking a fight with your father’s can only end badly. You were gone for too long, and were too independent before, to make new laws today,” the old man concluded. “Try to get along with him. He is clever. This offering of perfume is one of friendship. If you refuse and are rude to him, you will wrong the whole household. You are the one with everything to lose.”

Never had Gashel spoken his mind that way. Adriel understood that the old servant of his family must have been very upset because of what he had done at the ceremony. He wasn’t that fond of Mikelle but was forced to be obedient and to follow his master’s wishes. Also, he could see that the old man was right. His advice was common sense, but Adriel still couldn’t accept it.

His mind pictured the prince with his cunning smile, looking at him in expectation of what he would do. Suddenly, it was clear to him. He didn’t have to ask, he knew. Mikelle was a gift from the Horus, not the Regem. Teo must have decided when Adriel was locked up in the Hole of Seth that he would return him to his family. But he had decided that his prisoner was not done with humiliation. So, he had granted the High Priest a gift. Teo was so clever, he had probably seen the thirst for favor his father had in their short encounter. He had guessed the High Priest would not question the gift. Then, he had chosen on purpose the pet the most likely to piss Adriel off, an ambitious little blond shit. Mikelle wasn’t there randomly and wasn't just a gift for his father. Mikelle was an unexpected stab and Teo would poke in the wound every now and then, probably having judged the pet right and knowing he would annoy Adriel worse than sand in the bed or a pebble in a sandal. Right now, in his palace, Teo was getting off imagining Adriel’s rage to pass by his father’s young lover. He had been played again by the royal asshole’s mind game. It was infuriating.

“The son of a bitch, the motherfucking scumbag,” he cursed with feeling. The fucker freed him, but still managed to get an upper hand. How he hated him!

“Please refrain from talking about the young Mikelle like that,” Gashel told him nervously. “It would irritate your father.”

“I’m not talking about the stupid pet,” Adriel snapped, now mad, his mind playing him Teo’s teasing smirk, the mocking gleam of the golden eyes and the sound of his laugh. When the fuck would this bastard stop enjoying tormenting him?! “I’m talking about that prick of a Horus. I so wish to see him again. Next time I won’t spit in his face, I will damn punch him square in the jaw!” he vowed fiercely.

Pure shock and terror were obvious on the servant’s features.

“Have you lost your mind?” he asked, shivering. “How dare you talk of the Horus Crowned Prince in that way? And what has a member of the Royal family to do with your own issues? You splashed blood on him, a crime deserving death, already. Don’t push your luck and provoke a Royal again. He would surely kill you next time,” Gashel pleaded with deep worry.

“He won’t kill me. You don’t know Teo as I do. I’m too much fun for him,” Adriel muttered, feeling like he was choking, too furious. Of course, he had it too easy. Teo couldn’t have dropped it more smoothly. He had only faked letting him walk away, to kick him better in the nuts afterward.

“Are you calling the Prince by his name, like he was a commoner?” the old man said, bewildered, looking around them anxiously. “Please, restrain yourself. You will get all of us killed if someone hears you.”

Despite his anger, Adriel remembered the guard’s final warning. He should indeed restrain himself from talking about Teo in a way suggesting intimacy between them. Anyway, what kind of intimacy did they have except one of a leopard for his prey? He could curse all day long, but Adriel wasn’t in a hurry to return to the Pyramid or die. He had only to ignore the pet and to not play Teo’s game, he decided.

“We’re late,” the old man stammered, still quivering from Adriel’s audacity. “I beg you… I took care of you when you were a child. To see you again brought back or killed in front of us would be too much of a shock for my old heart. If you can’t be kind to Mikelle, at least stay neutral. Stay neutral on every topic. Be as immutable as the statues of the Temple” he added, with seriousness and Adriel took the hint. Gashel was suggesting to him to not make any waves and to stay in the shadow, a shadow even darker than the one from the Pyramid, because this time, he would choose it. Arguing or talking back was impossible at the moment when he didn’t even have a good idea of the situation. He would do as usual and go with the flow but he was sure as fuck not using the perfume. Anyway, Gashel seemed to have forgotten about it.

“Don’t insult your father by being late after such expense to make a splendid welcome back party for you.”

Adriel was sure it was more a way for Mikelle to show off with his father’s money but he stayed silent, his face unexpressive. Raging about the gold his father was spending to please his pet, he had remembered the silver coins in his leather pouch. He needed to hide them before they got found. With this money, he could leave to be taught a new way in the House of Life. It would be his last resort if his daily life in the Temple was too frustrating.

Gashel was already leaving and Adriel took the opportunity while his back was turned to snatch the leather pouch still with his old clothes and tied it up under the leopard skin before following the servant. His stomach was growling again and he promised to at least eat a lot to honor his father’s ‘effort to please’ him.

Indeed, the High Priest had gone out of his way, he noticed, entering in the main room from which he could hear a melody. The light was dimmed, with only a scarce candle in some spots. It wasn’t luxurious by any stretch of the imagination compared to what Teo could see each day when he woke up, but a naked woman was playing some musical instrument and it was already more than Adriel had ever seen. He couldn’t tell in the semi-darkness if she was pretty, but she was probably from the rented whores. It was the only possibility apart from mating for offspring at the Hive a man could hope for. All pleasure slaves had been sterilized. Her melody wasn’t too bad either and Adriel though that if he could get laid, he would forget his past faster. It was in this state of mind that he came closer to the table, to sit next to his father, at the end of the main table, where all the other priests were sitting, waiting for him.

In the center of the table, there was a lotus flower arrangement and a few plates were already set on the table, but it wasn’t Adriel’s main concern. On a double seat, his father was sitting by his pet, stroking Mikelle’s blond hair, the one on his lap almost purring, and disgust took Adriel. It was a rather disturbing sight to see those two together. Mikelle’s long silver locks and the pink complexion of his smooth face and firm body next to the bold and aged priest clashed too much. All his youth he got lectured from his father about what the duty of a Priest was and what a future High Priest should look like. A priest had to be modest, discreet and preach moderation by example, he had told Adriel many times. And still he sat there with this pet spread on him, looking at him longingly, when he wasn’t even the pet’s first owner. He was rewarded with some saccharine mimicry from his too young lover. It was sickening.

Adriel didn’t say a word, though, and clenched his tunic as he sat down. Why he was so upset? Of course, the age gap between the two men was shocking, and so was how blatantly Mikelle was climbing his way to the Temple. Gaining influence via the High Priest’s bed was revolting, but Adriel knew deep inside, something else was at work. Maybe he was just jealous. He didn’t want a pet like Mikelle at all. His mind pictured a man taller, more muscular, with dark hair, with skin like warm honey, so soft to the touch. How it would have been nice, he admitted to himself, if Teo had been only a human from another hood, named Aelurus. Instinctively, he knew their bodies would have gotten along. Teo looked like a creative lover too, one which things would never get old with. And to go so far as to attempt to brand him and to still try to mess with him, he could tell Teo was very passionate, never half-hearted, giving his all when he was into something, vengeance or love. The kind of partner Adriel was thirsty for.

How many times he would still regret that and throw himself a pity party? he chastised himself, not listening to his father’s speech. His father explained how his son had returned, probably hiding the fact that Adriel had been so stubborn, even the Prince had grown tired of him, like he had told him. The High Priest said the opposite, telling that Adriel had been so remorseful and well-behaved that they released him. All throughout the speech, he didn’t look back at Mikelle from whom he could feel the stare. He stiffly accepted the wine cup in his hand and Adriel raised his cup, not as high as the others, but still he did, when they cheered for the Regem and his heir, before cheering for him.

He didn’t even hesitate before taking a gulp of the drink, not even giving a damn if it was poison like he had believed it could be. Too bad if he died; he needed to get wasted. He had never been drunk but tonight he would be. He would get drunk and fuck this musician woman. Of course, there were many other priests probably targeting her, too. There were only two other pleasure slaves but these were males and cock was too commonplace a meat.

To clear his mind, Adriel decided to fill his belly. There were two choices of meat, a plate of fish and one of poultry, roasted with spices. They were the two cheapest ones but Adriel wasn’t picky about food. He had never been and he wasn’t after months of eating a meal with only bread, lentils, beans, onion and garlic each day, before the four days of starving in the Hole of Seth. These same basic ingredients were again served as side dishes but also with cabbages, radishes, lettuce, turnips and some cheese. There were also grapes, figs, dates and plums as dessert and Adriel felt his insides squeeze with excitement, forgetting his issues for a moment. At the Pyramid, he never got, anything out of the ordinary, even as simple as a fruit.

Eagerly he started to eat, tearing his portion of poultry apart with his teeth. He could tell the meat was a little dry, but he was too hungry to care, dampening his bread in the olive oil after each bite, not minding the pet’s sneer. Of course, the little bastard didn’t know what hunger was, having always been spoiled in return for spreading his legs. He could laugh at Adriel’s bad manners at the table or impressive appetite; the son of a bitch would not have survived two days buried alive like he had.

Adriel served himself a second plate and a third cup. He didn’t know if it was the wine, but he felt overwhelmed by gratefulness and he turned to his father, genuinely thanking him.

The High Priest only nodded, his focus more on Mikelle while the gray eyes of the young man watched Adriel closely. He could stare, Adriel thought with a half-smile. For the moment he was too happy to give a fuck.

The other priests, sitting a few seats away had a beer instead of wine, he noticed, while enjoying the spicy brewage. His father probably didn’t want to waste all these precious and unexpectedly gifted jars in one shot. He looked around him and saw that despite having only beer to drink, all the Temple staff were grinning. Adriel never saw so sumptuous a feast in his entire life and he could bet that while he was at the Pyramid, he didn’t miss anything like that. All these familiar figures and this room that hadn’t changed a bit made him feel warm and welcomed. He guessed that it was more the alcohol and the whores than his return that was bringing people’s spirits up, but he was feeling the same anyway.

He looked at the three slaves of pleasure. Ghasel had brought, probably on his father’s order, some oil lamps and now he could have a better look at them. The woman was less attractive that he had first thought. She wouldn't have been that bad if she had not lost so many teeth. The few she had left were only blackened snags and Adriel could guess she had bad breath. It was a turn-off and despite himself, he remembered Teo’s scent, a mix of spicy herbal with a hint of sweetness. A mysterious perfume that Adriel’s mind could only translate to the scent of sex. The vampire Prince also had ivory-white teeth and he couldn’t help but to touch his own nap at the memory of the fang that bit him.

Adriel shook in head, annoyed. To wipe Teo from his mind, he looked at the two other rented pleasure slaves. Both were muscular with inexpressive, plain faces. But one was a redhead and this rarity could make up for the fact that he was a man, but neither of them looked like ‘cats.’ In the Temple, very few were tops. Almost all of them took lovers outside the Temple. Adriel could guess the two male whores would be busy with all the subs among the priests. Anyway, he wasn’t envious. He had refused to lend his ass to a much more gorgeous being; it would be nonsense to get fucked by one of these two pleasure slaves, he decided, sipping his wine. He had just finished his second plate and was now filling it with fruit. If he didn’t get to lose himself in someone, he could still eat to his contentment and drink until he forgot.

At the center of the room, in front of the table, the two male slaves were dancing, mimicking coitus and Adriel's mouth grew dry with desire. Even if none of them could match the Prince it was still making him horny. He was now a healthy adult and the state of virginity was getting unbearable.

“Why whores?” he blurted out.

“Pleasure slaves are common for feasts,” the High Priest answered, his voice clipped. “Mikelle said that it's mandatory for any celebration. Mating is a way to thank the Gods.”

“I never saw a man drink that much,” Mikelle said, teasing, feeling he could speak now that he had been named. “It’s like you never had wine before.”

Adriel, startled, looked toward the voice. He had forgotten about the pet’s real presence, too mellowed by wine. Now that he was drunk, he was feeling more bold than cautious. The pet had covered his face with makeup, his grey eyes circled by a dark green khol and his lips glossed red, enhancing the fact that he had feminine features. By the delicate shape of his face and the hue of his eyes, the pet looked like a mouse. Looking inoffensive, but who could eat sneakily a harvest over one night. At his neck was the collar, but with some Bastet and Hathor charms chained to it. Probably a gift from an old lover to his boy toy.

Mikelle looked pleased by the attention he got from the son of his owner and stretched himself in a catlike way on the High Priest’s lap. Now, by the way Mikelle was spread, he could see all the pet's assets. Pets all wore a butt plug with a lock. It was a means to be faithful and to be ready for their master. With his very short tunic, Adriel could see the red gem between the two buttcheeks. His cock was also locked in a device, chained. Pets couldn’t relieve themselves, and the sub-brand like Mikelle appeared to be were trained to come only from penetration before being handed over to the first owner.

Mikelle’s hand was stroking the clothes over Adriel’s father’s lower region but his eyes were locked to Adriel’s, in such a suggestive way that Adriel could almost feel the hand of the pet on his cock.

Adriel supposed it was kind of exciting, but instead of feeling turned on by the view he got from Mikelle, he put him a sour mood. Was the pet was trying to tease him on purpose? Anyway, it was his father’s pet, and so, it was forbidden. A master could share his pet with whomever he wanted, but it was unlikely that his greedy father would lend Mikelle to anyone. Anyway, it wasn’t like he was envious. A pet was no use for him. He preferred a wild, challenging partner, with daring amber eyes. A lover able to put up a fight with him and not an obedient, already over-used sex doll.

“I never have,” Adriel admitted. “I am not a fancy bitch like some of us are.” The reply escaped him before he could hold back. “Your previous master must have spoiled you,” Adriel snarled, feeling aggressive all of sudden. The short tunic made him remember Teo’s. The Prince had been much more discreet in his teasing and he had appealed to Adriel more than this obvious exposure. But now that he had started it, he could bring himself to stop. “It must have been a hard fall for you to pass from a rich Lumen to a mere human priest. I wonder what you did to be punished that much!”

It wasn’t a kind comment about his father, but it was like he had no control on his tongue anymore. He kept blurting things out. Maybe he had drunk too much for the first time and too fast, but this wine was like tasting freedom and lust, the two things he had been the most thirsty for, for two years.

“I didn’t be punished, “Mikelle shot back, forgetting his lascivious act. “I have been chosen by a Royal. I saw him! There is no greater favor!” he exclaimed. “An animal like you couldn’t understand.”

“You saw his face?” Adriel asked, now interested. He needed to clear any doubt about who this guy was.

“Of course not!” Mikelle replied, turning up his nose like what Adriel had just said was crazy. “All people know Royals are masked because of their delicate skin!”

It was Adriel’s turn to snort and he finished his fifth cup in one long gulp. He wasn't buying this delicate skin bullshit. That mask allowed Teo to stay anonymous and to play his mind games. Since nobody out of his guards and family knew about his real look, he could do whatever the fuck he wanted and torment simple souls like Adriel’s, faking being a regular, reachable guy, daring them to withdraw afterward.

“Which one it was?” he asked bitterly. After two years of chastity himself, it still stung. “I bet for sure he wore a Horus mask,” he replied to himself, before Mikelle could even answer. “That cunning son of a bitch,” he cursed, slurring now because of the alcohol and emotion. “You and this booze came from him as a way to fuck me up more,” he muttered darkly.

“What are you talking about?” Mikelle hissed in a whisper, probably afraid but not answering Adriel's question.

“This Horus guy can't drop it and you know why? Because he needs a good dicking. He wants my fat cock but since he had asked for it, I wasn’t about to say yes,” Adriel continued, amused by the pet's bewilderment. “Such a pity, he has a very nice ass. I saw it closer than I see you,” he concluded with his drunk smile. “And under his mask, he is cuter than you and still, I turned him down. So you can quit your flirty act already, bitch!”

He laughed at the expression of pure shock on the pet’s face.

“I’m not flirting with you, you barbaric lush!,” the pet protested but the High Priest’s hand slamming on the table interrupted him.

“I had forgotten how troublesome and reckless you could be,” his father growled in a low voice. “I don’t think anybody heard your drunk talk, but since you can not hold your liquor, you will return to your room. But if I hear you again speaking in such a foolish way, I will myself turn you in at the Pyramid, since you act like you so badly want to return there. Also, I won’t tolerate any disrespect concerning Mikelle. He is a royal gift and must be treated well. Moreover, he is better mannered than you and more eager to please, when you’ve only ever given me grey hairs. Do I make myself clear, you ungrateful child?”

The taste of wine now felt bitter in his dry mouth and Adriel felt dizzy and nauseated. His father was right for once, he could admit. Even if he knew he shouldn’t talk about the Prince, it was like he couldn’t hold back from talking about him. Alcohol made him even more careless. What he had just boasted about could turn very dangerous and was foolish. He didn’t have to impress a pet. But now he was grounded like a child in front of Mikelle and humiliation burnt him deeply even if he had quite deserved it. The fact that his father had praised the pet, comparing them, talking about Adriel like he was only a huge failure and shame, was even more frustrating. The High Priest only knew Mikelle for a few days, but it was like each blowjob was worth five years’ acquaintance.

“I’m going to my room,” he replied, like it was his decision and not his father’s order. But he stood up too quickly and he felt like the room was spinning. Maybe Teo poisoned the wine. But either way, he wouldn't drink wine ever again, he vowed.

With an uneven step, he returned to his room, helping himself along the walls until he crashed on his bed. He stretched his hesitating hand to grab the water jar by his bed to get rid of the bad aftertaste and the feeling of having sand on his tongue.

After two cups of water and staying still for ten minutes, he felt steady enough to go up to take a piss in the bathroom. He splashed some water on his face and returned to lay down on his bed. An idea obsessed him. His father had said that Adriel acted like he wanted to return to the Pyramid. He knew his father only meant that as a warning about his careless speech. But deep down, Adriel could admit that, even after two years, his need to provoke to get noticed afterward by the handsome young man he met two years ago wasn’t dead. Despite knowing Teo’sTeo’s true identity, despite being tormented and imprisoned because of him, Adriel’s desire to mark Teo as his had only changed face, not melted away. After their first encounter, he would have been content to have been life partners - now what was fueling his fantasies wasn’t as simple. His desire were now harboring a darker, more troubling face.

Alcohol blurred his train of thought and he fell into a drunken sleep.

He was in the middle of a great erotic dream when he opened his eyes. The oil lamp was still burning so he saw the bulge and the movement made by someone under his blanket. Only it wasn’t a dream. Someone was giving him head. His cock was enclosed in a delicious, humid warmth and wonder and worries were stronger than lust.

“What the fuck,” he yelled, snatching away his blanket, wondering if, by any witchcraft or magic, Teo could materialize from his dream. But what he met was a lustful gray gaze.

“You didn’t use the perfume I lent you,” his father’s pet murmured. “It’s a shame. It has a scent of wood and spice fitting with your strong personality.”

“Don’t fuck with me,” Adriel hissed. “What are you doing here?”

“Your father had told me you were certainly a virgin,” Mikelle whispered seductively. “The way you boasted about this fat cock of yours aroused my curiosity.” The pet brushed his bottom lip against Adriel’s tip. “At least that part wasn’t bullshit.”

With a powerful kick to the sternum, Adriel shoved him out of the bed.

“I don’t talk bullshit,” he snapped. “And answer my damn question. Why aren’t you warming the bed of my old man?” he asked aggressively. Since his return, he knew that this pet was bad news. Now having his father’s young lover in his bed, he felt validated in his mistrust.

Mikelle narrowed his eyes, a hand still clenched to his chest. A fancy pet like him must never have been hit. It wasn’t like Adriel to be violent to weaker people, but by groping him and calling him a liar, this prick had crossed the line.

“Answer me!” he barked. “And after that, just go back to sucking my father’s dick already.”

“You said it, he is old,” Mikelle retorted, distressed. “My former owner wasn’t even forty-five and was in better shape. You are young, strong, full of life and passion. A much better match for me.”

Of course, Adriel could understand, dismissing the praise about his appearance. It was only sweet talk. But indeed, doing a man like the High Priest wouldn’t have tempted him either. But it was a pet’s fate. As he was cursing every day about how he would give anything to change his life, he could get that Mikelle was unhappy too. But a pet’s life had no downside. They lived in luxury, spoiled like the precious creatures they were. At least, as long as they were young and attractive.

“So what,” he muttered. “It’s your pet’s duty to suck your owner’s dick, and I’m sure as fuck not your owner. You were the one boasting about being chosen by a Royal. Do your job and leave me the fuck alone. My father treats you well; don’t push your luck, pet.”

“Don’t you desire me? I’m very good at what I do,” Mikelle asked, his eyes gleaming with promises. “If you are nice to me, I can convince your father to be nice to you. He told me he never officially claimed you his successor as High Priest, because you were still a novice when you left. I can get you named in less than a month and then, when your father is in the afterworld, you will be High Priest and I would be your pet. This is what’s been told to me: to be the human High Priest’s pet. No name was spoken.”

The son of a bitch was clever, Adriel thought, understanding very quickly despite his pounding head what it was implying. The High Priest could die in the very near future. His pet would pass to his successor, probably as old and potbellied as his father, or Mikelle would be sent to the slave market as an old, overused pet, even if he would not have reached even thirty at the time. There were even rumors about unwanted pets having ended up drunk dry by some members of the royal family like every useless citizen too ill or old to work. Adriel wasn’t sure if he should believe in these rumors, but the slave market was a terrifying prospect enough and he could understand the pet attempting a desperate, bold move like that. If he made allies with Adriel and he became the new High Priest, Mikelle would not have to fear another owner, since they were both around the same age.

But though the pet could be good-looking and Adriel a disappointment for his father, he couldn’t just have sex with his lover and then talk about the High Priest’s upcoming death. Besides, it was like his cock had been cursed. He couldn’t get hard if it wasn’t the one he was lusting for.

“I’m sorry, I can’t,” he grunted. “Just get out already before you get caught. I won’t tell my father and we will forget about this.”

Being told no had been unexpected by Mikelle obviously because he opened disbelieving eyes. But he came to his senses pretty quickly.

“You are saying that because I’d been mean. At first, I was cautious of you, because I was afraid you were a rival with those good looks of yours,” he coaxed. “And what about that temper! Your father told me about it and this made me desire to know you. The fact is that the more difficult you are, the more it’s a turn on for me.” Seeing that his honeyed words had no effect, he took a deep breath. “Your father fell asleep without putting my lock back because, like you, he isn’t used to wine. If you fuck me, I’ll tell you who bought me and sent me here.”

This caught Adriel’s attention. If the pet suggested it, it was maybe because there was indeed something fishy in his arrival. But then, he remembered that he had himself insisted on questioning Mikelle about that. Obviously, the pet realized it was important to him and so, tried to use this interest as blackmail material. Mikelle was ready to do anything he could to get his way. But Mikelle overrated himself and his information. The pet seemed convinced that if Adriel could fuck him once he would be too bewitched to not want them to be lovers. Adriel wasn’t that easy. He felt almost sorry for him. He didn’t need the information. He knew it could be only one Royal’s doing.

“I don’t care, I know it already,” he hissed. Each damn minute passing, they could get caught. “That devilish Prince sent you here to drive me crazy and piss me off. This is obviously his favorite hobby.”

At this, he made his own insides clench and the realization slapped him in the face. He couldn't shut up about the Prince because he needed to convince himself that he was special to Teo, a Royal Lumen who was so powerful and beautiful that he should be too jaded to even recall the name of a mere novice. But Teo was going pretty far for him. Whatever feelings the Horus had, he wasn’t indifferent and it was already a victory in itself. Teo in his Palace had thought about him and schemed about what he could do to piss Adriel off the most. Then, he had even walked his way to Mikelle’s previous owner and personally chosen a pet, something a Horus should be too busy with royal duties to do. And Teo had chosen the pet not according to what could be a good match to an unknown priest, but what could crawl under Adriel’s skin the best. In a way, even if it was crazy, it was flattering.

“What happened between you?” the pet questioned, looking upset and jealous. He was probably disappointed that his blackmail didn’t work but Adriel’s heart jumped with excitement. He had been right. Teo was behind Mikelle’s arrival and he could that like a twisted proof of interest. Perhaps the Prince had seen that far and guessed Adriel wouldn’t be able to restrain himself and just made another scandal which would get him brought to the Pyramid again, where Teo could play with him again in those cruel games of his. At the Pyramid, the Prince had witnessed what little sense of self-preservation he had, too proud and too passionate. Maybe even the pet was a spy there to report him or Mikelle even wanted him to confess Adriel was still lusting for Teo. He could bet the Prince would be pleased to hear that and use it against him. Adriel wasn’t so dumb to fall for that. He could desire the Prince, but the fucker had turned his life upside down and he wouldn’t ever run to him.

“The whole Temple knows. I splashed blood on him,” he hissed. If he had good reasons to have his mind full of the man who had persecuted him he wondered what he had done to attract Teo’s interest that much besides the ceremony incident. “I had offended him and he is avenging himself any chance he gets. End of story. Now, get out of my room.”

“So, it was boasting? You never saw his face?” he asked. “Being chosen as a Royal Pet has always been my dream. When the Horus chose me, I was sure…”

“Get out!”

But Mikelle refused to go. He clung to Adriel, straddling him. The pet was gyrating his hips, in an attempt to awake Adriel’s desire.

They fought for a moment until Mikelle lost his balance and the oil lamp dropped to the floor with a loud, metallic noise. Adriel jumped to his feet to extinguish the flame but as for the noise, it was too late.

The High Priest barged into Adriel’s room and his face twisted with anger when he discovered them. Whatever pity he had felt for Mikelle faded away when he heard the pet.

“He forced me!” he cried and Adriel, stunned, realized that with his torn clothes it was a credible lie. Perhaps it had been the pet’s plot all along. It was the perfect way to get rid of him. The little bitch had talent, he couldn't deny that, Adriel thought bitterly. In such a short span time, this pet had gotten rid of him, the unique son. And Adriel found himself not that sorry. Now that he knew he wasn’t welcome here, the choice to leave was easier.

“I’m leaving,” he said before his father could order him to go. He still had his silver coins on him, he checked discreetly. The pet didn’t find them when he was trying to seduce him. “This place has never been my home.”

“Wait,” the pet exclaimed, holding him by a scrap of his leopard coat, but Adriel broke the hold easily like Mikelle was only the little mouse he resembled.

“Don’t touch me,” he growled. “You’ve done enough harm.”

He was out a few moments later, nobody except Mikelle having tried to stop him. He wasn’t even hurt by that. He made the leather pocket jump in his hand, relieved to hear the sound of the coins. It was night and he probably couldn’t find his way to the House of Life at this hour, but he had enough money to sleep somewhere in Theba.

He walked with a bold step when suddenly a frightening vision appeared in front of him and his heart missed a beat. Two golden eyes, as shiny as two circles of flames were looking straight at him. He froze in place but, the eyes blinked and the vision faded away. Something brushed his legs and he lowered his gaze when he heard a purr.

It was a black cat, and Adriel cursed himself to have been that afraid of a cat. Teo was messing with his mind so much that he was seeing him everywhere.

He picked up the cat and petted him. He had always been fond of animals. He noticed the cat had a collar. The address of its owner was engraved on it and with amazement, he read the name of the Ripe Fig. Maybe it was a sign, he decided. He would bring them the cat and sleep there if it wasn’t too expensive, before tomorrow, starting his life over. He wouldn't think about this impossible mirage being the Prince. The Horus wouldn’t find him there and Adriel would get rid of this pointless obsession.

He passed the gate without any question despite it being so late the sun was about to rise. After having asked the way to the first available person he found, he arrived in front of the infamous brothel. Adriel was too exhausted to even take in the details of the place and he asked an old woman with a broom at the entrance door if he could rent a room, after handing her the cat.

“Just a room for a few hours only and no prostitute. How much?”

The old woman smiled.

“You brought home our lucky cat. The room and the meal will be free,” she said, and Adriel smiled back. It was indeed a lucky cat. Full of hope, he followed the woman upstairs and fall asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text


 


 

After a good late breakfast, simple but nourishing and tasty, Adriel prepared to leave. But before he did, he needed to thank Abina. Surprisingly, the granny-like woman was the owner of the Ripe Fig, the most infamous brothel of the city. But what Adriel had thought would be a nest of sin looked like a tidy inn. The staff too, that he had pictured before as decayed syphilitic whores, weren’t like he had imagined. The few people he had met while eating appeared common people, eating and chatting quietly, with only some dark circles under the eyes as a reminder of their nightly activities.

“When I leave the House of Life with a new occupation, making me more money, I will come back,” he promised. “Thank for your warm welcome. It’s a really nice place that you have,” he said.

“I’m sure better places are waiting for you than my modest shop,” she told him with a smirk, showing her missing teeth. “But I will see you again with pleasure and my girls too. You’re quite a handsome man,” she concluded.

With a final nod, Adriel left. All his bitter feelings from the night before were gone as well as his headache after a good sleep and meal. Even if it wasn’t assured that the House of Life would accept his application, it was worth it to spend his silver coins on it. Adriel preferred to take a chance rather than to stay idle. Moreover, it was a place Teo wouldn’t look for him.

During the night, he had an epiphany and made a resolution. From now on, he would avoid trouble and forget about anything that had occurred before. He would enter the House of Life to indeed start a new one. That meant one without remembering the Prince and trying his best to be forgotten by him. He would melt into the shadows as Ghasel told him to do, trying his best to be forgotten. It would be dull life, but any job beside being a priest would be great. And without the maddening memory of the Prince, he would stay saner.

Of course, it was very likely that his code number would be scanned at his first step into the House of Life, like it was at each gate. It was a way for Lumens to control human whereabouts. To attempt to hide his identity was useless and so, permitting the Horus wanted to know where Adriel was, he could get the data of any Adriel’s moves in the city. But if Teo wasn’t a Crowned Prince? He had royal duties to do. Well, Adriel couldn’t exactly say which ones, since nobody knew about the kingdom politics outside of the Royal Court. He couldn’t tell what Teo was doing with his days besides driving Adriel nuts. He wondered if the Horus has a sibling or even still had a mother. Adriel knew that he wasn’t married. At the temple, twelve white calves must be sacrificed for a royal marriage in all the temples and it had never happened. The rules were the same, even for minor Temples. His father would have been forced to conform to that and find a way to buy twelve white calves, even if it meant he would be indebted for years.

But Teo was maybe engaged to one of his sisters as was the tradition, or a princess of another kingdom. But what Adriel was sure of was that the Horus has more sex slaves in his harem than there were fish in the river and this thought was pissing him off. That lucky bastard could have anything just because he was born from the Regem’s semen while he could only dream of getting laid because he was born from a human uterus.

 Thinking about it darkened his mood. It was doing him no good to look down on himself. Macheon had trained him in fighting technique and taught him in many other fields. He was taller and buffer than any human he ever met and more knowledgeable than many. And as Abina said, he was good-looking. Well, he wasn’t aiming for a pet position but looking good never hurt anyone and he needed anything to boost his confidence.

The House of Life was two blocks from the Ripe Fig, on the Horus's side of Theba, east of the river. It was a huge building, the biggest one in this part of the city, occupied by Lumens’ houses and shops, not from the court or with an official position. The building was also easily recognizable by the impressive Horus eye carved in the stone with a warning under:
‘In the past or the new life, his eyes follow you.’

With a shiver, Adriel second-guessed his decision. This warning was a bad omen, but maybe in this place protected by the Horus, he would be left alone. Teo wouldn’t look for him in a place with his symbols carved in the stone.

His heart full of hope, Adriel stepped in, his fist clenched around the pouch containing his money, as if to protect it from a possible robber. The large entrance hall was nothing like he had seen before. Hieroglyphs and scenery were painted on the wall but with much more vivid color than in his temple. Maybe it was because of the light. Sunbeams lit the room from every window. The ambiance was solemn, from the silence in this place. Nerves took him.
He wasn’t even sure he had enough money, he thought with anxiety. It was hard to know. He had been in jail for almost two years and he knew nobody who had ever tried what he was about to do. All he knew was from rumors and as he had realized at the Ripe Fig brothel, rumors could be misleading.

At the counter, a clerk was staring at him with reproach. But this contempt pushed Adriel forward. If this place existed, it was for a man like him.

“I want a change of path,” he said bluntly. He didn't know what the protocol was in this place. He just wanted to go straight to being done with all these doubts already. “I ask to enter the House of Life to learn a new one.”

“Code number?” the Lumen asked, expressionless, and as Adriel had guessed. Without hesitation, which would have been pointless, he showed his wrist.

“Adriel, son of Adel. Priest,” the clerk announced. “Is that correct?”

Adriel rolled his eyes at the formality.

“Dunno. I guess if it wasn’t that’d mean Lumens could make a mistake.”

To say that the Lumen was displeased with his comment was an understatement.

“I see that indeed you lack of the respectful behavior a priest should have,” he replied, his voice clipped. “But you know that you have to pay the fee for the administrators to check your files.”

 “How much?” Adriel asked hoarsely, slamming his money pouch on the counter.

The man turned his gaze on the computer. Adriel knew what it was and he knew that was a type of machine the humans could control before. But now, the secret was guarded by some governmental Lumens, like this one. To save his life, Adriel couldn’t have made this machine work. It was sickening how Lumens had robbed them, he thought.

“That depends on your skills. The price varies according to the skills of the applicant and the needs of the kingdom,” the employee explained sharply. “When the need is strong for a field and you have the ability, the entry is cheaper and easier.”

That made sense and Adriel felt relieved. He had thought that his hopes would be smashed immediately.

“But we have no use of illiterate people, fair warning,” the other continued. “But I guess if you are a priest, you must know how to read, right?”

“Yes,” Adriel replied with a hint of pride. “I know how to read and write in Thebeian and I have some basics of the diplomatic language in use in other kingdoms. I also know how to count and…”

“Keep your pedigree for the administrators,” the man told him dryly. He handed him a slab with a sheet of paper. “This is a form to fill out. You have to write in your personal information, but it’s also a psychometric test to evaluate your capacities. You can sit there to fill it.” He pointed a table with a bench next to the bottom of the wall. “You get twenty minutes. When your time is over an employee will come fetch you and take your form to enter your answers in our central computer. If your answers satisfy our current need, you will get an interview with the administrators. Then, if you are really lucky and have the money,” he sneered with an expression that he still doubted Adriel had a single coin, “they will lead you to your new assignment and your training will start.”

Adriel snatched the form and walked with a nervous stride to the table. The first questions were easy. His name, those of his genitors, his hood, his age, his height and weight. Then, the next question appeared easy but he hesitated a moment. He had to be very cautious of his wording. It was a test after all and even more a test designed by Lumens. There was probably a catch somewhere but his mind went blank trying to find the best way to say that he didn’t want to worship the members of the royal family without blowing up his chance to be admitted. He couldn’t waste too much time on this. The form was two pages long and he only had twenty minutes.

'I love animals and don’t like to kill them. Also, I love danger. There is no thrill in a priest’s life.’

Adriel thought he was out of trouble until he read the next question.

 ‘Have you committed any offense to the Theba kingdom code?’

 Biting the pencil, he wondered what to answer. If he remembered correctly, at the Pyramid, he never got his number scanned. That meant he had been anonymously put in jail, only his father and the human attending the ceremony two years knew.

Besides them, there was only Teo. Even the guards weren’t aware of his complete identity, except maybe the first Commander. But the latter was dead and the others had no idea Adriel wanted to enter the House of Life. It was a daring assumption. If he get caught having lied, he would be lucky if he only got kicked out. Best to answer as truthfully as possible without telling the actual truth.

 ‘I have not stolen, slain or debauched men or women,’ he wrote. Those were the most critical sins someone could make and Adriel decided it was enough. With a quivering sigh, he looked at the second page. This one was covered with not only questions, but also symbols. A lion, a sun, a crocodile, a feather, an ibis, a Djed pillar, a cow and a beetle. But one symbol stood out, a symbol he knew too much, having it stamped on his burning skin. The hawk.

 ‘Which pictures are most appealing to you? Chose three and number them by order of importance.’

There was no way he would answer Horus’s symbol as first even if he couldn't tear his gaze away from it. But maybe it was unwise to dismiss it completely in a house protected by the Prince. Adriel chose the lion first and put the Horus second, just swapping his first choices. All the others looked the same to him and after hesitating with the feather and the pillar, he chose the feather.

Then were again a few questions, seeming pointless, but Adriel could bet they were tricky.

The last one was a oath to serve the Regem and the Prince and even if he knew he would have to give in and sign it to have a chance at being accepted, he struggled with his pride until the last moment. It was only when the employee landed his hand on his shoulder to signify him it was done that he doodled a kind of signature that didn’t even look like his name.

“Seems you did it,” the man commented. “Impressive. Some people freeze for so long, they never get to fill it out completely.”

The statement warmed Adriel, before he chastised himself. He wouldn’t be proud over some attempt at praise from a Lumen. Anyway, it wasn’t a compliment, he decided. The guy mostly wanted to boast about how limited humans were.

Adriel followed him up a staircase without a word. On the second floor, the employee showed him a bench next to a huge metal door.

“Wait here. Your answers will be entered in the central computer and be analyzed,” he explained. “They will call you if they have something for you.”

By his face, Adriel could understand the employee found it would be very unlikely. But he had come too far to step back. Still silent, he dropped onto the bench, staying stiff while the Lumen disappeared behind the door.

He had no idea about how fast or not a computer could work through this form but he used the waiting time to brace himself for any outcome. What he would do if after he was robbed of his silver coins, he got refused? After what had occurred at the Temple he once called a home, he didn’t have many choices.

Maybe he could go back to the Ripe Fig, not as male whore but since the owner was such an old lady, she could use a young man like him for handwork or simply kick out some drunk guys making trouble.

He certainly didn’t expect the door to open again after a wait of barely five minutes.

“Adriel, son of Adel, you are demanded in front of the panel. But before you need to pay a twelve silver coin fee.”

The tone was solemn and Adriel could almost catch a glimpse of respect from the Lumen. It looked indeed like a very rare favor, one the clerk didn’t expect Adriel to get.

With a slight hesitation, Adriel handed the employee his pouch. Now it was over. He couldn’t change his mind and, without any money, he was doomed to beg in order to survive if Abina didn’t need him.

The Lumen pushed open the door and let the human pass before him.

Adriel felt a cold pit in his stomach as he walked into the room, followed by the Lumen employee. At the bottom of the room, under a wide window sat the three administrators. Because of the sunlight coming from the window in back of them, Adriel couldn’t make out their faces before he got pushed to the ground to kneel because staring at such high people was forbidden. It wasn’t like him to follow rules, but it wasn’t like he had any choice, being pushed down that forcefully.

He would have wanted to see their faces, not of curiosity about how important Lumens looked, but because he was anxious to pick up from their features what their decision was about him. But anyway, it would have been hard even without the light to look at their faces. Before he got pushed, he had time to see the form of pointed ears and dark and golden spots in place of the face.

They were all wearing Anubis masks and Adriel’s heart raced. He hated masks, with good reason. It was unfair for the unmasked one, from whom all the emotions could be read. It was easier to get fooled by a mask-wearer. Moreover, only court members, entrusted by the Royals could wear masks, like the Praetorian guards for example. Those Lumens were people that could see the Horus every day. What if they knew about him? What if this was a trap? Maybe he had not been suspicious enough about why there were twelve coins, the exact amount he needed to enter the House of Life, with the folded clothes he got from the Pyramid. But it couldn’t be. The Prince had other things to do than handing over money in the hope Adriel coming here to let him pull another mindfuck. There were plenty other thousands of victims for him among the humans. He was exaggerating his own importance, Adriel chastised himself, his eyes burning a hole into the floor. Teo wouldn’t tell about something as cheap as an heretic human novice to his court.

“Adriel, son of Adel. Your case had been studied.”

Studied my ass, Adriel thought, but he knew better than voice his opinion. The muffled voice coming from under the mask reminded him of bad memories of the High Commander, first of the name.

“Stand up.”

Adriel did as he was told. Even if permission had not been given so far, he looked straight at the eye hole of the mask of the one sitting in the middle.

“Here is the token that will open a new path for you,” the center Anubis told him. In his outstretched hand shone something that looked like a golden coin. In the Pyramid, Machaon had told him about those tokens.

Lumens had rank among them too, with the Royals at the top of this social pyramid. There were average Lumens, some richer than others, but all commoners. There was not that much difference between them and humans, except they were allowed to have personal choice. They could marry whoever they wanted, have children, a house where they wanted and choose a career fitting with their character. It was all Adriel had always longed for; freedom. But between these commoners and the Royals, there were three ranks, the Blessed, the Honorables, and the Nobles.

 To own one token meant you got ‘noticed’ and were now a ‘skilled servant of the state,’ whatever you were: a civil servant, a militar, an artist or a royal bed servant. A few privileges were given to the ‘Blessed’. They were paid a decent salary by the kingdom, even after the time they served was over. Commoner Lumens could get in trouble if their shop burned or they got sick a few days, but Blessed servants of Theba had an assured income with even a few paid days off in case of illness. But the most precious privilege to Adriel was to not have his whereabouts recorded at each gate and to have full access to every shop of Theba. Segregation was hard in the city and humans were forbidden from entering some places. It wasn’t like Adriel wanted to enter these crappy shops. It was the fact that he wasn’t allowed that pissed him off. As a Blessed, being human didn’t matter anymore, Machaon had told him. Even someone from the Sekhmet tribe, the female jungle natives, half feline, could reach a Noble title. The old man had told about ancient tales when one of these fierce warriors had such a peculiar beauty and was so impressive at fighting that after having given her three tokens for three battles, a Horus of the time took her as a second wife and gave her offspring. She must have been beautiful, since Royals only married Royals. He had never seen any Sekhmet warriors so he wasn’t sure if this part had been made up by Machaon.

But the bottom line was the token promotion was more important than the species. Still being human, he couldn’t mate with a woman, but now, he could enter some places where Lumen civilians couldn’t even go. It was already a balm on his soul and a way for him to mingle more in the crowd and not be found. The only place still forbidden for Blessed ones was the Palace, except for the ones chosen to be the doll harem. Those poor sex slaves couldn’t use their tokens, since they were locked up. When the Regem or his son were giving one of their famous garden parties, only ‘Honorables’ and ‘Nobles’ who respectively had two or three tokens were allowed. But the owner of one token could get a ticket to see the Royal family passing on the river in their pageantry boat with some chosen people. This was a favor he didn’t want to use. As if Adriel would throw himself in the hawk’s beak to watch Teo surrounded by his gold, glory, and sex slaves!

But this was the reason that tokens were given as an heirloom, to pass their privileges to one of their kids. For those having no children, they asked to be buried with them to show off to the Gods of the Afterlife what big shots they had been during their lives.

Some tokens were more precious than others, according to the pattern engraved on the face and tail of it, because some patterns were rarer. The token was a symbol of your skills, the God supposed to protect you and how you served Theba. As with a pet, the more coins you had, the more noticed by the Gods you were. If you managed to have more than one in your lifetime, a luxurious afterlife was assured. Afterlife wasn’t something Adriel believed in or cared about. He already had enough to deal with in his current life to care about his death, but it was still an unexpected gift. On the black market, tokens were very rare and prized merchandise and you could even swap it for something more expensive; a pet, for example, he had been told. There were some dishonest people trying to sell false tokens. When they got caught, the punishment was public torture until death. It was the same for real owners trying to sell their genuine ones for wealth. Adriel had never attended at a death execution, but like every man having brushed with death, this gave him the chills. But Adriel had never heard of a human having been given a token. But maybe it was normal for those getting accepted into the House of Life. If his father could see that, his shameful son having a golden token in his hand, he would have a stroke for sure. It was a more prized gift than a mere blonde pet. Would his father want him back? It was very likely, since the High Priest was weak in front of any favor from the Royals. But he could also imagine how Mikelle would drop his father’s ass in a nanosecond if he knew that Adriel got promoted to being a Blessed.

It wasn’t the time to daydream. Adriel took a bold step forward and accepted the token handed to him. The pattern carved stood out so vividly, he felt like an arrow just passed through his eye to his brain. The gold was burning cold, like the gaze that obsessed him. Of course, it would be a hawk with spread wings on one side and a Horus eye on the other. The token was obviously brand new, the lines very visible and it was so shiny, he thought, turning it with a finger in his palm. Was it a coincidence? Was he the crazy one, seeing Teo in every little thing? He was the fucking Crowned Prince, and a damn smug one. Moreover, the House of Life was on the east side of the city, where everything was under the Prince’s patronage. Of course, the chance Adriel would encounter things related to him was high.

“You will be enrolled in the Horus division as an aircraft pilot,” the administrator continued while Adriel was still staring at the falcon emblem with a pounding heart, but at the word aircraft, he looked up, stunned. He had no idea that except for the Royals themselves there were people allowed to learn flight. Maybe because of his rebellious personality, it seemed too dangerous to give him this opportunity to Adriel himsel. The first thing he would do, alone, his ass on an aircraft, would be to fly the fuck away from Ouranos. “The Honorable Kleos is already on his way to lead you to the aircraft barracks,” the Anubis on the left told him. “He is the high officer in charge of the Special Air Force and will be your mentor on this journey.”

Barracks? Special Air Force? Did that mean Theba had more ships than the ones for the Royal family’s travel and those other airships were for military purposes? Against who? Since the Sekhmet tribe was tamed, he hadn’t heard about any wars. But even the little he knew was from Machaon. His father was supposed to be a knowledgeable man among humans, but still, he was sure the High Priest, like all humans, didn’t knew the first word of anything politically related. From father to son, for generations, the humans were kept in the darkness of ignorance. Adriel could understand it was another way to control them. It wasn’t like he could ask questions to the administrators and so, he had no choice but to wait and find out firsthand when he was at the barracks. He just hoped by any chance the barracks were on the West side, controlled by the Ra-Regem. Even if an encounter with a Royal was unlikely, there was still a risk they had the whim to visit the barracks. Dealing with the Regem, even if he was the one who had thrown him in jail, sounded less troublesome than meeting his royal heir, the jerk.

“You are dismissed,” one of the Anubises told him. “Go wait for Kleos in the lobby.”

Still shocked about the fast turn of events, Adriel turned after a slight nod. For once, he didn’t even mean to be rude. He was too caught up in his train of thought. Absentmindedly, he followed the employee to the lobby, where he was offered a refreshing beer with a brand new respect.

It was only ass-kissing and Adriel refused to even appear to notice he had been treated differently. He was far more concerned by this Kleos. The Lumen had an Honorable title, one given to high officials, owning two tokens. But these tokens were maybe heirlooms, and the guy didn’t deserve it from his own skills, but from those of an ancestor. Honorables were admitted at the palace for gatherings or parties, but from what Adriel knew, they didn’t have access to most private or important event. This Kleos, as high ranked officer, had seen the Prince, but probably from afar and with his mask on. There was no way he knew of Adriel’s existence and, well, he would treat him without any ulterior motives. Indeed, the House of Life was like a second birth.

Adriel wasn’t sure how to figure out how the computer had seen a pilot in his abilities, but he was determined to learn from this Kleos. Learning how to fly was the best means to possibly escape. Machaon had told him about how he attempted and failed to leave, but Adriel would be in a better position to succeed. But for that, he needed to learn the basics and also, earn the trust of his mentor.

Maybe this Kleos was an old man like Machaon, but less clever. He would maybe be happy to pass his knowledge to someone so eager to learn and perform quickly. Maybe even without a mask, Adriel could fool a Lumen and act like he was someone else. Like Teo had to him.

Whatever the Honorable Kleos would ask of him, if it didn’t hurt his pride too much, Adriel would do in order to go back to Earth. He wondered what such a high-ranked Lumen looked like. He had never gotten to see one up close, except Teo, but it wasn’t the same. The blood diet of the Royals made them a species apart, even if at first he had been fooled by Teo’s human appearance. Since then, he had seen the black-pearl like eyes, the fangs, and felt his venom. Like each time his mind recalled that moment, he rubbed the place in his neck where the vampire had bitten him. Adriel remembered too well how oddly pleasant it had felt and he wondered if some of the poison lingered in his bloodstream and the side-effect of it was making him feel stalked by the Prince. With a wince, he remembered how scared he had been by the cat, sure Teo was about to pounce on him from the darkness. He had been silly. In the middle of the night, either Teo was getting drunk on blood or he was sleeping blissfully in his incredibly wide bed with three others partners.

He took a long gulp of his beer and wiped his mouth with his hand. He couldn’t wait to learn how to fly. Learning would keep his mind out of these dangerous memories and would end up being useful. He heard footsteps behind him and turned his head, hoping it was this Kleos. Indeed, it was a man, but he was too young to be General, probably not over 30 years old. He was tall, probably the same size as himself, with dark-brown hair and a fair skin. His eyes had the warm color of dates and he was good-looking, even if he was maybe too manly with his square-jaw. The man got some sensual lips to balance his hard features, but Adriel felt like he was glaring at him. Maybe he was another employee, wondering why someone looking as shabby as Adriel was in their fancy lobby. His body seemed flawless and been taken care of, like a pet's was. Maybe he was a runaway pet looking for a new path in the House of Life, because he was now too old for this job? This man must have been damn sexy and even breathtaking a few years ago. It was easy for enticing pets to fool their masters and steal silver coins without them noticing and managed to get rid of their collar, even more if they were with the same master for years. Adriel’s fist tightened around the token. He wouldn’t show it to justify his presence. What if he got it stolen? What if he lost it? People kept their tokens in a safe, he supposed, but he didn’t even have a home anymore. Would he have to sleep in the barracks? Thinking of that reminded him he was tired. Even if sleeping at the Ripe Fig had been nice, it had not been enough to make up for all the stress he had lived through since he had gotten beaten up and put in the Hole of Seth.

“Throw those daggers at someone else already,” he spat aggressively. “I’m authorized to be here.”

The man narrowed his eyes with a scowl and it spoiled his good looks, Adriel thought. If he was smiling the stranger could be handsome. Not as hot as Teo, but still the second best man he ever met.

“I know that,” the newcomer hissed. “I’m here to fetch you. I’m Kleos, General of the Horus Special Air Force.”

Adriel just stared. How star-crossed he was, when he had been rude to the one he wanted to earn the trust of and learn from.

He opened his mouth but closed-it after a second thought. It was too late to explain. He could only apologize.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was you,” he simply said. “You look younger.”

It was a very stupid thing to say, since he didn’t even say younger than what, but it was, again, too late. But it validated Adriel in his suspicions. The guy had his title and probably position via family. There was no way he was a self made man if he was already a general. Kleos only shrugged.

 “I’m 28 years-old,” he replied, “for your information. I just got promoted General of the Special Air Force about two weeks ago, but I’ve been in the military for more than ten years. A royal decision had decreed an air force division be built among elite warriors. We are about to receive the first batch of one hundred aircraft, but we need pilots for that. We are five so far in the kingdom, who know how to make them fly. I don’t count the Royal family in this since there’s no way they’d risk their lives if we got in a war,” he added very seriously. “I was mandated to train new pilots. Everyone who knows how to read and that has some stamina will do. The Special Air Force training isn’t only about piloting aircraft. You need to be ready to fight with honor on any battlefield.”

Adriel stayed speechless. Despite his young age for his job and his handsome face, the guy meant serious business. He understood better why the computer chose this path for him. He wasn’t surprised since the employee already explained to him the path chosen must suit the kingdom’s needs. But why this sudden need for aircraft?

“Are we at war?” Adriel wondered in a low voice. He wasn’t scared by this prospect, only curious. He knew it was bad and that humans on Earth had wasted so many lives in this, but it was still something to do; much better than to kowtow to Royals in a Temple. Wouldn’t it be ironic if he died in order to protect the kingdom he hated so much?

“I’m not explaining the military situation of the kingdom in a lobby,” Kleos answered, his voice clipped. “Stay here or follow me, but know that it will not be easy. I’m not a laid-back man!”

Adriel stood up, locking eyes with his superior. He had misjudged him because of his attractive appearance. The General was speaking and acting like a man on duty with the martial posture of a very experienced officer. He could be a high-ranked Lumen, but his disdain for Adriel wasn’t because he was human. Adriel had just attacked him verbally while the man was probably only taking him in and not glaring, wondering if he would be a good candidate or a lay-about. The down side was he didn’t look the kind of guy easy to fool. With one glance, Adriel could tell Kleos was a person who didn’t give his trust at a cheap price. This stern General looked like the Lumen most likely to earn some respect from him and would teach him useful life lessons on top of the pilots’ basics. Adriel wanted Kleos to get rid of his bad impression of him quickly.

“I’ve never been a guy looking for the easy path,” Adriel replied. “And trust me, I’ve got stamina.”

Kleos’s eyes roamed over him.

“I saw a scar on your thigh when you were sitting. I bet this was a result of a drunken fight in a brothel. I have strict rules. No alcohol,” he stated, ogling the beer. “And no sex.”

Adriel knew better than to contradict him by explaining where the scar came from. As for the alcohol, Adriel didn’t mind, still remembering how the wine did him no good. As to the sex, it wasn’t like he knew someone to have it with. All the soldiers were Lumens and as he had said once to Teo, he wouldn’t have sex with any of them. There were days when he was less sure about that, like today. The General had very nice eyes. Not as drop-dead gorgeous as Teo’s but the Horus was supposed to be unmatched anyway in his living god position. Thinking about it, he decided to ask one critical question before following Kleos.

“Does the Horus visit the barracks? I guess as a member of the Court, you were not impressed as I would be, I bet…” he trailed off, not sure how to explain where his question came from.

The look of the man turned colder if it was possible.

“I’m not a member of the Court, but I did meet the Horus Crowned Prince. The Sacred Son is far too busy to visit the barracks. He entrusted me with the airforce, so I doubt I will see him again until the aircraft are ready. He has no need to meet my subordinates.”

Adriel tried to hold back and not snort or roll his eyes at that. Teo wasn’t that busy when it was about beating off in his face or teasing him in the Seth Hole. But he was used to the Royal worship from his father and the High Commander. Kleos was a soldier; it was natural for him to obey and respect his superiors and his speech was more formal than passionate about it. Adriel couldn’t call him out too badly for that. Moreover, Kleos wasn’t from Teo’s private circle. The general had no idea that he was a former Pyramid prisoner and royal plaything.

“Lead the way, General!”

 

 

Chapter Text


 

Indeed, Kleos wasn’t a laid back man. Adriel caught the drift very fast. Wake-up at 5:00 a.m., then 45 minutes jogging, a shower, and breakfast in the common room with the five experienced pilots and the other fifteen recruits. The breakfast was simpler than he would have believed. In his mind, a Blessed Lumen would dine on a golden plate. Each morning, he had two slices of bread, two eggs, and fruit, alternately grapes, dates, or figs. Each of them had a few drops of citron in their water. Even if he knew it was a luxury that any human would die for, Adriel didn’t think that it improved the water’s taste that much, but the general insisted on the digestive and rehydration properties of the citrus, calling the former novice an ungrateful animal. But there was a major addition, and this one was definitely an improvement. The first morning at the Special Forces barracks, he was given a cup with a black tar brewage inside. The taste of it was bitter to the point that at first, he had spat it out, almost thinking he was being drugged or poisoned.

“How dare you waste such a rare brew!” the General hissed. “People would die to have coffee! You are lucky enough to get two cups a day. Don’t spill it!”

But he got used to it pretty quick, even addicted. With how much he was pushed around by the General, if he didn’t have coffee each day, he would feel like his two eyes had been glued together.

After breakfast, they had to attend a theoretical course on the operation and repair of aircraft and the importance of weather conditions, until 10:00. At that time, they got more coffee and a handful of nuts, almonds or pistachios, before the physical training started. They had to run, jump, crawl, climb and carry loads to build their endurance for over an hour and a half, before having a light lunch, consisting of lentils and vegetables. Then came the time that Adriel liked the most. For two hours, they were in the simulation room. Sitting in a model pilot's cabin, he had to practice flying in front of a screen that faithfully reproduced different types of terrain, at different times of the day, with different weather conditions. For Adriel, the screen was a window to freedom, allowing him to travel to worlds he had scarcely heard of. But he was very prudent to restrain his exultation in front of the General. Kleos wasn’t a man to talk much about himself, but Adriel could guess that to have access to such a high position of trust, it had to be because he was smart and competent.

At first, Adriel had thought that perhaps the Prince gave promotions to those who kissed his ass the best. But the General, although respectful, spoke only very rarely about the Horus and only with the very formal respect he would have for a superior. There was nothing of the worship his own father had had. In any case, he had to admit that giving favors to servile courtesans didn’t seem to fit Teo’s personality. The prince seemed rather jaded by his surrounding devotion and even looked more amused by people who attempted to give him a hard time. So the General might have had to win his stripes fairly and must be a hard man to fool.

Moreover, Adriel was under his strict supervision. The other fifteen recruits were under the supervision of the other four experienced pilots. Only he was enrolled with the General and he couldn’t help but wonder why. Did the general have any suspicions about him because he was human? It was a fact he couldn’t hide because of his tattooed barcode, even if no one had commented about it, yet. It must be said that they didn’t have time to notice it since in his Horus outfit, which he wore most of the time, he had two gauntlets to the elbow, hiding his code.

The first time he had dressed in his new uniform, his fingers had brushed the Horus emblem with a feeling of unreality. How ironic it was that he was now willingly wearing the symbol he sliced from his own flesh two years ago. But it was only a way to achieve his goals and be forgotten by the Horus. Teo, knowing his rebellious nature, would never look for him among his own soldiers. So this objective had been reached so far, but to escape from Ouranos would be hard with the General breathing down his neck all day.

After two weeks under the close supervision of Kleos, Adriel allowed himself to ask the question of why he was the only one under his supervision. Did he have nothing better to do?

“Be grateful that I share my knowledge and skills,” Kleos had snapped, his mouth in a narrow line, expressing discontent. “The Eye of Horus wanted it. You’re supposed to be promising. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that there was a bug in the system. So let’s just say I guess you were someone troublesome.”

Adriel knew that the Eye of Horus was a common figure of speech referring to the central computer of the House of Life and that the Crowned Prince had no part in it, but he could relate to Kleos’s wonder, how the computer could have seen that with a such a short form. But, on the other hand, he felt pride warming his chest. Whatever Kleos said, he wasn’t hurt by it. First, he was right. Adriel was only a bunch of trouble since the Hive and he was indeed scheming to ditch them at the first opportunity he got. Also, the General had a sharp tongue with everybody, it wasn’t only aimed at him. Adriel guessed it was a requirement of the job to be so dissatisfied with everything, always demanding they give the best of themselves. But what made him hide his smirk was that he had caught some admiring looks from his superior, despite pretending about how Adriel didn’t straighten his back enough when he shot an arrow. Indeed, he was promising, and the General couldn’t say the opposite even if it obviously burned his lips to praise someone. Adriel’s progress was astonishing in every aspect of his training. He improved and learned much faster than other recruits, even if they were supposed to be more used to it. Nobody could have guessed he was in training for barely a month.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get to try out a real aircraft. Kleos had said that they would only after having reached a certain level, which required around six months of training. There was no war, not yet, he explained to them, so they had time to have them well trained. When they were more experienced, in three months, they would call a more numerous new bunch of recruits and they would do the same every three months. Even if he still no idea about what threat they were supposed to fight in the near future, Adriel could admit it made sense, but he couldn’t wait for the real thing, just to run away.

In the flight simulation, where he was doing well, he kicked everybody’s asses in the last lesson of the day. The fighting training was given by a drill master. As Adriel had understood, they weren’t supposed to be only pilots, but accomplished warriors on any kind of battlefield. If something went wrong with their airship, they should know how to defend the Royals, the civilians, and themselves. This part of the training involved how to use weapons, like spears, axes, swords, and crossbows, on foot or from a horse or a battle chariot. Learning how to ride a horse had also been one of his favorite moments. At first, he had not understood why it was a skill mandatory to master, but the General had retorted dryly it was necessary to use all of his assets to win a fight. Moreover, it was very good to learn focus and balance.

Adriel immediately felt great chemistry between himself and the white horse he got. But they also learned how to fight in hand-to-hand combat and war tactics. Adriel hadn’t even held a weapon in his hands before, but his size and the basics that Machaon had taught him were enough to make him a formidable warrior. This last training was the longest, but to Adriel, it was pure bliss. He didn’t even know what he preferred between the feeling of power he felt on his horse, a crossbow in hand, or the freedom he felt in the simulated cockpit. At some moment, he even came to think that sex with Teo couldn’t be as exhilarating…

He couldn’t help but sneer mentally at the idea that those fool Lumens were giving him, a resentful human, weapons, and were even enough dumb to teach him how to use them. At the first opportunity he got, these new skills could help him in his attempt to escape from this awful planet.

After this last training, it was supper, composed of fish and vegetables, with dates and honey as dessert—only three times a week so as not to rot their teeth. This meal was the longest because it was the only one where the recruits were allowed to talk. Adriel only listened to their chat, not mingling with them. He watched each of them. They were all Lumen, unworthy of his trust and so he stayed carefully silent. Besides being Lumen and thus having relative freedom all their lives, they were already all soldiers, supposed to be far more experienced than him. They were also older by a few years, all of them around twenty-two years old, when he was only nineteen.

Even if it was pointless, Adriel couldn’t help but regret not having been in the human soldiers’ hood. If he had had this training since his youth, he would have been even more formidable. He knew now that the human soldiers were only infantry, called to be the first wave in the unlikely case of war and meanwhile only responsible to help with the security of human hoods. Lumen soldiers could have promotions and probably would not be as exposed as humans. Adriel couldn’t help but wonder what Kleos’s story was, while glancing at his handsome but too-serious face, lighted by the oil lamps. The only thing he knew was that he was in the military for ten years. It meant he was eighteen years old at the time. It was young, but not too young to choose a career path. From what he had learned, listening to the others, most of the Lumens left elementary school at thirteen years old to follow a path. The future soldiers entered a military Academy for three years. Most of his new so-called brothers in arms had been in the regular reserve army of Theba or in the police for five years before being called to be part of this Special Force unit. Had Kleos chosen another path before the military? Was it because his family was wealthy, so he stayed two years longer at school to learn leadership and advanced military tactics? Adriel had seen the General in action against the drill master. He was very impressive and, indeed, it showed that the man had a decade of training at least. But Kleos’s face never showed anything, no pride or satisfaction when he kicked the ass of the drill master in a sparring session. It was like the Honorable General was made of stone. Did he have a family or friends outside the barracks, Adriel couldn't help but wonder? Probably not, since his superior had never left the barracks for the past month. Did he even have a home outside the barracks? Had he applied for the position because his life was too empty? At this, Adriel could relate but it was hard to get any answers to these questions because all through the meal Kleos was as mute as himself, not interacting even with the other instructors.

Of course, afterward, in the dormitory, the other recruits reproached him for being arrogant because he was ‘the General’s pet.’ Adriel brushed off the envious comment. It wasn’t like the Honorable Kleos was giving him any favored treatment besides being watched closely by him. Their jealousy was meaningless since Adriel was working his ass even harder than the others, having a more difficult master to satisfy. But the fact that Kleos was only demanding things he was doing himself pushed Adriel forward, out of pride. He couldn’t complain about running another lap when the General, having nothing to prove, was also doing it!

But this seven-days-a-week training and the fact he always had to keep himself in check was the best medicine to forget a heartbreak, if he could call his misfortunate encounter with the Crowned Prince heartbreak. He was so busy and so worn out at the end of day, he fell asleep the moment his head touched the mat. Even his subconscious was numb and he only dreamt of Teo a few times. He still felt ashamed about it. Why was this dumb part of him still lusting for the Prince? That one had probably forgotten about him a while ago. Adriel wasn’t sure how he felt about it. As much as he had wanted a tabula rasa and to make himself a forgotten part of him, a shameful part of him was sad.

He could almost call himself happy, too drained to feel anything, when the news dropped on him like a bomb at dinner.

“Tomorrow, we will stop training at 10:00 a.m.”

Everyone looked up in amazement, not even daring to breathe too loudly, in case the General changed his mind. In one month, they never had a day off.

“It’s supposed to be a day off but considering that the festivities outside the palace aren’t starting until noon, I see no reason to slack off from training more than that,” the General announced and Adriel’s heart missed a beat to the word ‘palace.’ Whatever it was, if Kleos was letting them skip part of training, it was indeed very bad news for Adriel. “Then, you will all have to put on your armor and equipment and make yourself look your best. This is the anniversary of the Horus. As you know, from today to the Flood Ceremony the next day, the Palace is in celebration. The Horus will start them with the River Ceremony. As his battalion, we need to attend the event.”

“What is this ceremony?” Adriel asked in a choked voice, not minding the astonished glances from the recruits and instructors and Adriel supposed that he had just blown his cover and that obviously, except the General, no one knew he was human. Now it was evident since only humans didn’t know about the Lumen festivities that they were never allowed to attend. The only ceremony they had was the Flood one which was taking place in a few days. The exact ceremony that he had fucked up two years ago.

“The Regem and Amun High Priest will bless a golden barge that the Horus Prince sits in with some of his... pets and some close friends and relatives. The high priest gives some sacrifices to the Horus and well,” Kleos sighed. The topic wasn’t his favorite, obviously. “He consumes them while the barge is sailing to the Theba main gate and back to the Palace. Meanwhile, people from each side of the river will watch and cheer,” he spat. “After that, the celebration takes place in the palace until he comes out to accept human offerings at their Flood Ceremony.”

Adriel felt a pit in his stomach, not listening to the comments from the other recruits about how annoying it was for the Prince to pay a visit to a shabby human hood. He was too concerned with what he just learned. He had no idea about how many people would be there, but he could guess that Teo would be too busy with his offerings, pets, friends and the cheers of his people to spot him in the crowd. Moreover, Adriel had tanned outside while he was training. In the Pyramid, the lack of sun had made him pale. Also, Teo had never seen him with knol. It was unlikely he would recognize him from so far as the middle of the river. And anyway, who he was kidding? Teo had probably forgotten about his existence. But another idea, just as unpleasant, came to him.

“Does he have his Praetorian Guards with him?” he asked. “I mean, this is sufficient to show off his power and glory, right?”

Kleos narrowed his eyes to thin slits, looking more pissed than Adriel had ever seen him.

“Who are you to decide what is enough for the Crowned Prince?” he hissed. “Of course his Praetorian Guards will be there. That is their duty, you moron. They will follow the barge on foot all the way up and down to protect the Horus and be sure the crowd behaves. Some golden coins are thrown into the crowd and there are urban legends that there are sometimes tokens among them. We are not only there to show off as you pretend but as an extra protection measure in case people all go rampaging for a few coins or other reasons.”

The guards were more likely to remember him. They had watched him almost as closely as Kleos himself and they wouldn't have forgotten the death sentence of the Commander.

“It lasts around four hours, then the Horus makes a short speech before returning to the palace,” the General continued. “Maybe he will review our troop, maybe not. But we must be ready in any case. Everything depends upon his satisfaction with the ceremony. But we are almost assured to have a reward afterward; the Horus is very generous on his birthday,” the General continued to explain in a laconic voice. "We will probably have prostitutes and alcohol, since it’s supposed to please the soldiers.” Kleos snarled, glaring furiously at everybody. “As you can imagine, the ban on sex and alcohol is lifted during the celebrations. I can’t turn the Horus’s offer down. It’s a royal gift,” he stated, his voice clipped.

Nobody dared to cheer at this, considering the General’s dark mood and so, Adriel’s lack of enthusiasm didn’t stand out. His mind was too busy spinning, wondering if there a way to miss this river celebration. Maybe if he faked being ill? Sickness could happen and nobody would notice if there a member of the Special Air Force was missing among them.

He needed to forget his obsession for this damn Prince, damn it. Working his ass hard every day in the prospect of maybe soon being able to leave and get free from this life of slavery had done him some good and kept him busy, but Teo was still fresh enough in his mind to know he would go back to square one if he met him again. That asshole of a Royal had such an attractive power that just seeing him on his pageant barge, he would inevitably fill his mind again. Even from so far and with that mask on his handsome face, Adriel would be able to picture the features he had seen from so close. He would remember the softness of the golden skin, the scent, the kiss. Adriel didn’t want to relapse when he was about to get rid of this abnormal lust for the vampire for good.

Because that's what Teo was: an alien vampire from the hated Lumen species.

He still hadn’t spoken up when the General called curfew. He walked to the dormitory as if in a dream, his insides twitching with mixed feelings.

When the other recruits were far from Kleos's earshot, they let their excitement show.

"A half day off! And whores and booze right after!"

"We could have a full day off," another complained. "But this tight ass of the General just can’t cut us any slack.”

“I wonder if he would be that stern after a few beers? Who knows what kind of drunk he is? Maybe an affectionate one?” he suggested, his facial expression showing how turned on he was by the prospect.

“Just the idea of him being all clingy is giving me a boner!”

Adriel had listened so far without real interest, but they just crossed the line. Kleos could be harsh and demanding, but he was an honorable man and a great warrior. If one Lumen could get Adriel’s respect, it was him.

“Shut up!” he snapped, in a low voice. “If you get caught talking shit about the General, we’ll end up punished!”

“Jealous much?” one teased. “You scared we’ll get a piece of your man?”

Adriel felt his jaws tightening. It wasn’t the first time they brought up something along these lines.

“We all know how you play cold and hard to get just to make him beg for your cock!”

“Stop with that already,” Adriel hissed. For once, he was only trying to be respectful and of course, people had to take it the wrong way. “It’s rubbish. There nothing between the General and me or anyone else for the matter.”

“Wow, you really worship him like he was the Horus or something,” one snarled. “But maybe you really don’t know that your precious Kleos was a pet when he was a teen. There are horrible stories about how he killed his past master in a fit of jealousy.”

Adriel blinked, shocked. It was only barrack's gossip, he told himself, pushing aside his first idea of Kleos, when he had thought the general was indeed a runaway pet.

“So what?” he managed to choke out. “Even if it’s true, he is our superior now, and not at all a promiscuous man. So keep your expectations and your voice low,” he growled.

One of them, called Adjib, probably the tallest Lumen or man Adriel had ever seen and the one who just spoke up, narrowed his eyes.

“Who are you to boss us around? It’s because you think you’re in the best position to make the General your bitch and beat off on his ass that we can’t do the same.”

“I’m not,” Adriel replied fiercely. “I fancy someone much more gorgeous.”

At the moment Adriel realized what he had just said, by the amazement he could read on their faces, he flushed hard. There, only talking about him had again brought Teo to the front row of his mind. His brain was filled with memories of whispered lustful promises, golden gazes, and those endless muscular and tanned legs. It hit him like a ton of bricks. Even after what had happened, he still wanted him. A meow distracted him and he picked up the barracks cat, who always slept next to him; another reason he was teased.

Absentently, he petted the animal. What if he had yielded? he wondered with more force than ever, what would have happened if he had accepted following the prince? Because whatever his ulterior motives were, Teo looked damn insistent about locking him up in his palace. Most likely, Adriel would have been turned into a pet, but surrounded by beauty or not, he would have died after having tasted the golden satin flesh. Whatever fate he would have gotten, it suddenly sounded like a more appealing prospect than being in a dormitory with a bunch of Lumen morons. Teo was worth dying for, while Adjib didn’t deserve more than a kick in the ass.

“Well,” Adjib said, his smirk saying how much he didn’t believe it was true. Teo, too, used to smirk like that, but even then, the Prince managed to be too stunning to be true while Adjib only looked repelling. “More gorgeous than Honorable Kleos? This person must be really cute. You should introduce them to us,” he sneered, nudging the others to imply Adriel was a phony.

Adriel wondered what the Prince would do if he would appear right now? Would he take Adriel’s side and behead them all or he would mock him as they did? It was hard to tell and Adriel reeled against the irony of having his mind filled by someone he didn’t know at all. When he thought about it, Teo and he must not have spent ninety minutes together in total. Why had the guy gained such a hold on him in so little time and he was still turned on after weeks without having seen him? It must be magic, he decided. Some Royal black magic. Teo had put a spell on him or poisoned him with his venom. He had thought of it as the only reason before, and he was even more convinced by it by now.

But it wasn’t the time to daydream about him when obviously Adjib and the others took him for a liar. His first impulse was to punch the guy straight in the jaw, but then, the General would be awakened and be mad.

“Think whatever you want,” Adriel shrugged, and he lay down on his narrow bed. At the same time, the cat curled up next to him and Adriel idly petted the soft fur. He wasn’t itching for a fight, not when he had to think over finding a reason to miss the next day’s ceremony, while he was still too weakened by the reminder of the Prince’s kisses.

“If your heart is taken, there are no issues, right? I’ll leave you to your fancy. If tomorrow the General feels horny, don’t intervene,” he muttered threateningly.

Adriel tried to imagine the General pushed down against his will, even drunk. Well, he could not even picture him drunk, to begin with. But it wasn’t about what he could imagine or not. Adriel wasn’t the kind to meddle in others’ sex stories, but this asshole was rubbing him the wrong way.

Then, the solution appeared to him.

“If the General feels horny, he’s still got his hand… much neater than you!” he reported arrogantly.

If they got into a fight, he thought, the General would indeed wake up and be mad. That meant he would probably punish them and keep them chained in the barracks’ cells instead of letting them assist in the ceremony.

“I will give you my hand! Taste it!” the other shouted and he took a swing to punch him, but his move had been so easy to guess that Adriel blocked it easily with his own hand.

“Here’s something to cool your head,” Adriel exclaimed before giving him a powerful hook and he heard the sound of teeth breaking.

When Adjib hit the ground, the cat jumped on him, using his claws to scratch the man who tried to get rid of the animal by kicking it.

“You bastard! Don’t harm my cat!” Adriel yelled. It wasn’t only because he liked the barracks’s cat. He may be not a pious man, but cats were sacred animals in all of Theba. Harming a cat was a sin, and it could even deserve death if the cat died from it, because of their importance in the city. The job of the one in the barracks was to eat the mice who could devour the food stock. Also, the cat was affectionate and cute, on top of being useful and so, for Adriel, the cat was far more precious than this dumbass. “I will smack you so bad!”

It wasn’t long that they were rolling on the ground like animals, encouraged by others, when the General barged in.

“What is the reason for this ruckus?” he bellowed. “What is the meaning of this?”

Kleos wasn’t in full armor as he usually was since the curfew had been called twenty minutes before. He had the time to wash and was obviously ready to sleep, wearing only a loincloth.

Adriel couldn’t help but stare, but it wasn’t in a lustful way. On the General’s chest, a huge tattooed falcon spread his wings. It was a symbol Adriel knew too well, having it burned into his flesh. But what did this mean? Did it mean Kleos was a closer servant of Teo than Adriel thought? The General noticed his stare but wasn’t bothered by it.

“He insulted me and attacked me, General!” Adjib exclaimed, still holding his throbbing jaws. “You know how bad-tempered and arrogant he is! The cat even received a kick in the fight!”

Adriel felt an impression of deja-vu, like when filled with helpless rage, Mikelle had accused him of attempted rape, when he had been the one trying to seduce him. But this time, it was going along with his objectives, even though the fact that he was accused of having kicked the cat was a sin which could bring him bad consequences.

“Is that so?” Kleos uttered, glaring at Adriel, and he wondered how others could mistake lust between them. Adriel respected the effective officer and pilot the Honorable Lumen was, nothing more, and seeing how harsh the General was on him it was beyond him how the others could think Adriel could make him his bitch, given he wanted to. The truth was that even if handsome, Adriel wasn’t attracted a bit. Kleos’s face was as expressionless as stone, most of the time, when he wasn’t gloomy or pissed. Anyway, it would be a pointless crush, since the General was unlikely to bend over for him or anyone. Adriel already had his load of hopeless desires. “Maybe a night outside, chained like a dog, will cool down this hot head of yours.”

Adriel decided to push further by only shrugging and Kleos narrowed his eyes, already sharp as the edge of a dagger.

“Come with me, you dog,” he hissed angrily and Adriel followed, knowing better than to argue and anyway, too tired to protest. He didn’t mind sleeping outside on a night like this, he thought, looking at the starry sky. The temperature was nice and the animal noises they could hear in this part at the north-east of the city were better than the snores in the dormitory.

He let himself be chained by a collar to the pillar in the middle of the training field, where the dummy was tied as a target.

“I guess now I can’t assist at the ceremony,” he muttered before the General left. His heart was pounding, while he tried to sound casual and even slightly disappointed. Kleos would probably tell him that indeed Adriel would spend the next day chained in full sun until his skin was only a crisp. It would be a very harsh punishment, but the sun would not play mind games with him; sunburn would fade more quickly than Teo’s image in his memory.

“Of course not,” the General replied firmly and for a brief moment, Adriel was filled with hope by mistaking the beginning sentence. “The Horus Crowned Prince knows the exact number of recruits we have. If he decides to count us, he would ask questions and there’s no way I would tell about fighting between soldiers under my supervision.”

Adriel barely restrained a howl. All of this had been pointless.

“You sure look like a good servant of the Prince,” he snarled, ogling his superior’s hawk tattoo. Even in the night, the lines of it stood out, taunting Adriel, making his blood boil.

Kleos opened his eyes in surprise, but in the dark of the night they looked like black holes and Adriel couldn’t read their expression.

“Are we not all servants of the Horus?” the General replied slowly, his tone very controlled. “All of the people with an important position have the same, to distinguish us from the Ra-Regem courtesans. The ones who follow the Horus when he becomes Regem will have a sun added behind the falcon and become Nobles. This is more proof of ambition than dedication. You know nothing about the Royal court or the way this government works, do you?”

Indeed, Adriel knew nothing at all. Humans were kept in the most basic ignorance, but he was relieved. Kleos wasn’t Teo’s obedient puppet. He was only a cold and ambitious soldier who wanted to climb the social pyramid to stay a VIP until the afterlife. It was disappointing, but this pettiness was also comforting, it reminds him of his father. But that didn’t help Adriel right now.

“I’m not good for official shit. You should leave me behind. I will make all our battalion look bad,” he grunted, his gaze to the ground, breathing hard. Physical punishment didn’t bother him but fighting his attraction was draining as fuck. But if Teo couldn’t see him, he wouldn’t tease him and if he didn’t, maybe Adriel could just stare at an invisible point among all the ceremony and try to ignore his surroundings.

“You are not in a position to tell me what to do,” the General retorted icily. “You are belligerent; I will be sure to be able to keep an eye on you the whole ceremony. As your punishment, you will not have your share of prostitutes and alcohol.”

Adriel barely restrained a curse. He didn’t mind the punishment that much, but it wasn’t the one expected. If he didn’t know any better, because it was impossible, he would even think Kleos was doing it on damn purpose to piss him off.

Anyway, talking back or contesting would do no good and the General left, with a last glance over his shoulder and a warning.

“I count on you to behave as expected,” Kleos muttered before walking away with a nervous stride, leaving Adriel dismayed and with a very bad feeling.

***

He didn’t get to have breakfast, but it didn’t matter since he wouldn’t have been able to take a bite, his insides churning in anticipation. Adriel didn’t try to resist. He knew it would be useless. The more it showed he didn’t want to go, the better the chance he would be in the first row to attend the ceremony. He tried to keep his mind blank, acting the most soulless he could, while getting ready in the parade clothes he had to wear. Adriel's body was hidden by layers of fabric and worked leather and ornamental metal. Each piece by itself might have been luxurious, but altogether it was armor made partly of status. How many slaves could be bought with the cost of those clothes, or food for humans? Adriel wondered bitterly. But a deep relief flooded him when he picked up the last part. It was a faceguard and while he was putting it on his face he told himself that with that he would stay unknown and also, if he didn’t look at the show or let his emotions be too obvious on his face, nobody would notice him.

At noon, all the Special Air Force, Horus Division, was standing by the river’s East Side. They were all placed in two rows facing the river, at the end of the granite stairs that led to the first terrace of the Palace of the Rising Sun. Near them the Praetorian Guard stood ready to escort the journey of their Prince. Adriel couldn’t help but feel a certain apprehension at the sight of the imposing helmets of the guards that reminded him of the terrible days of his detention. Not very far from there, he could see the top of the pyramid shining in the sun. It was such a glorious sight, for such a dark and awful place. But those concerns were tissue paper considering how he felt about seeing his nemesis again.

Trumpets sounded and at the top of the staircase, the golden-clad silhouette appeared. The breath remained in his throat, in front of the apparition that haunted his days and nights. Teo was shining like a jewel in a setting, draped with linen and golden scales, and the gleam of perfumed oil and shiny dust. A long, floating coat, tied at his shoulder, draped over his back, cascading behind him, giving him a twelve-foot-long tail as he descended the steps of the staircase with his majestic attitude.

The golden mask of royalty was only the finishing touch to the privilege his entire body displayed. Only the lower part of his face was visible, Adriel noticed, and indeed, it was Teo. With a mask, the Prince could use an understudy anytime to mingle among commoners for fun. It was the kind of leisure the Royal twisted mind liked, to fuck up innocent souls. If the understudy guy had a flawless body and rolled himself in golden powder, it wouldn’t be noticed by the crowd. But Adriel could recognize the smug smirk of the sexy little shit anytime.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” he chastised himself, staring at the void, again, while the Prince reached the dock, to take his place in the barge, ready to sail. He wouldn’t be sucked up by Teo’s appeal again and he straightened himself, with the posture a elite warrior should have. It wasn’t an attraction that would be rewarding, just the opposite: it would bring him only troubles and sorrow, and determined, he looked straight in front of him, glaring so furiously at a blank spot that it was about to give him an headache while the Amun High Priest was making his speech. It was hard for him to distance his mind from the Royal presence. The river between the two sides of the city was narrow, since it was an artificial one and so the middle of it was only thirty feet away. Adriel had excellent eyesight. It was one of the rare praises the General said about him, and he knew that from this distance he would be able to follow a drop of sweat running down the royal body. It would suffice for a mere thing like that for his blood to flare up.

Next to him, he felt the General’s fidgety presence and he looked aside. It was a rare sight to see Kleos looking bothered. Out of curiosity, he focused on the Priest, frowning when he saw three people, seeming regular Lumens, shoved onto the Royal barge.

“Sacred Horus, glorious son of the Sun, Crowned Prince of the Theba kingdom, accept the tribute of your people,” he exclaimed with emphasis. “Bless them with the caress of your sunbeam for them to accompany you when you travel to the invisible world.”

Despite compelling them to not to, his eyes searched Teo. The Prince was laying on a chaise lounge, surrounded by what he supposed were courtesans. It was hard to tell since the brilliance of the Horus eclipsed them all. Now that he had glanced once he could not peel his eyes from Teo. One of the Prince’s long legs was bent, enhancing the perfect musculature of the thigh and calf. The skin looked so soft and the hue so precious that it was hard to tell what was flesh and what was fabric. Adriel felt his mouth water, picturing himself kissing his trail to the ultimate prize between the legs of the Horus. He could almost feel the spicy taste on his tongue that the Prince must have in this forbidden place. What would his face like if he could? He would probably lose his cocky grin. It was at this moment than Teo turned his head to their side, the lower part of his black locks visible under the mask and his smirk grew wider showing off his ivory teeth. He rubbed his tongue against his fang in a teasing manner and Adriel lost his composure. How he could have forgotten that Royals had super-powers like reading minds.

“Stop staring already!” the General hissed in a low voice. “You’re supposed to be above this.”

Adriel looked away more for his own sake than to obey a direct order from a superior.

The barge went on, sailing gently on the river, with the help of the big oars held by three rowers on each side. The river was about 12 miles long; in the time it took for the Prince to go down to the gate and back to his palace, Adriel had time to regain his senses.

A dense crowd had assembled on the paved banks of the river. Clamor accompanied the passage of the royal barge that Adriel could still hear though it had disappeared from his field of vision over an hour since. He continued to stare at the horizon in front of him, ashamed of having been caught in the act of weakness by the General. On the other side, face to them, was the Regem division with the sun emblem engraved on the plates of their armor and Adriel wondered what Kleos had meant when he had exclaimed that he knew nothing about the royal government. Machaon had told him many things, but it was hard to tell what was true apart from what wasn’t.,

The air was filled with electricity. Kleos, like the other soldiers, was buzzing with a strange energy. The cheers of the crowd were starting to come closer and Adriel guessed his break was over and the Prince was about to return. He straightened, to get a hold of himself. Half of his suffering was already over.

The cheers of the delirious crowd grew louder, reaching a new level and Kleos mumbled that the first sacrifice was consumed, gold coins had been thrown at the crowd.

“First sacrifice?” Adriel asked, blinking in confusion.

“He fucks them,” another officer whispered. “In front of the crowd. People go crazy each time because he is a stallion and they envy them, but the real show is right after.”

The General shushed him, clearly mad, probably because it wasn’t right to talk about the Prince like a stallion, but Adriel didn’t care, nor about what was the show right after was. He would have it rubbed in his face that Teo had a thrilling and fulfilling sex life when he had to be content with his hand and fantasies of the little prick.

“I don’t feel well, can I go now?” Adriel snapped. “It’s not like he needs us!”

It was very rude to talk about the Prince like a ‘he’ but Kleos didn’t point out for him to watch his language.

“We can’t,” the General hissed through clenched teeth. “You and I have to bear with it until the end.”

Adriel glanced at his superior, surprised by the odd wording.

“You think you are not feeling well?” Kleos asked, his tone harsher than ever, and the red chips in his hazelnut eyes gleamed with furor. “Just watch!”

Humiliated, Adriel pursed his lips. Why he has enrolled in this battalion anyway, listening to these Lumens? If his father could see him, he would make fun of him, calling Adriel a hypocrite, after so many years spent with hateful words for them and now acting like a tamed pet. He fought with the desire to jump in the river, swim to the barge and drag Teo to the bottom of the river with him. If he couldn’t have him, nobody would anymore. It was crazy, childish talk, but in his state of mind, it was the most distracting thought he could have.

When he saw a golden spot from the corner of his eyes, he braced himself even more, but the grunting, the moaning, the smell, the people’s cheers of encouragement were impossible to ignore and the curiosity got the best of him. He needed to see, even if it hurt how Teo looked while having sex, to make his future fantasies even more accurate.

Steadily, with hard thrusts, the Prince was fucking a man from behind on all fours, probably one of the Lumens shoved onto the barge before. The man looked like he was having the time of his life, but Adriel had eyes only for the Horus. He had still his mask on and Adriel could only see the predatory smile and the wet hair. Teo’s body sparkled with sweat, perfumed oil and golden dust. His chest was naked since he was wearing a golden scale corset stopping at mid-chest and even at that distance, Adriel could see the gold bars in each nipple and his mouth grew dry with desire. How it would be to nibble them, pulling on the jewel to tear a cry from the Prince? Adriel called himself a motherfucking dumbass to be engrossed watching his crush fucking someone else. He was really in deep, he swore.

He noticed the long golden guard nails Teo wore when he was sensually stroking the thin body of his bottom partner with them. Adriel felt a shiver while they were brushing the guy’s neck, almost able to feel the tickle from it and vividly remembering the kiss. They were long and barbed and Adriel wondered how he would feel if he was in the place of the guy. Not watched by a group of perverts, but in the intimacy of a room. He was still mesmerized by them when all the gold turned scarlet red.

The Horus had pulled back the head of the man, to put him on his knees, showing off the neck, and he had bit into it. Teo’s fangs were so deep in the neck and he pulled so hard on the head that he almost tore it off, and it was bleeding so badly, it was probably the aorta, remembered Adriel’s shocked brain. He could almost hear the slurping sound of the vampire while he was sucking out the life of his victim, but it wasn’t even the most upsetting. Teo was still thrusting into the now lifeless body, his eyes completely black like each time the monster in him awakened.

People cheered louder when they should have howled in terror, and Adriel looked around him with disbelieving eyes. How could these people acclaim a motherfuckering cannibal, for fuck's sake?!

There was a troubling detail in a glance toward the dead man, Adriel could see that somewhere between the bite and his death, he had climaxed, his abdomen covered in thick cum. The idea made his stomach churn and he barely held back from puking.

The Prince released his victim, now that he had sucked him dry. The dead man dropped to the floor like a doll and Teo stood, absolutely not giving a flying fuck and for people to be sure he didn't, he removed his half-mask. He flicked his long tongue around his mouth to wipe away some of the blood, like a starving man could have done after a feast and licked his fingers clean. The part of Adriel’s brain still working guessed it was the reason for the half-mask and the naked shoulders and chest, to bite and to not taint the precious fabric with splattered blood. But Teo had now his fare bare and his golden gaze was burning a hole in Adriel's terrified soul.

Two very young teens, a boy and a girl threw themselves at the Prince and they licked his cock and body clean. A man threw coins to the crowd, who cheered louder, and Adriel was done. How could he have jerked off to such a monster, he wondered, his knees buckling under his weight. No wonder people from human hoods didn't know about these decadent festivities. Maybe they would even attempt to riot, if they knew. Even his father wouldn't have continued to worship those monsters.

He tried to fight against his feeling of weakness, not wanting to faint. He hadn't eaten for twenty hours and the slaughter had shocked him too much. But he couldn't faint like a maid when he was supposed to be a strong soldier and when it would draw Teo's attention to him, perhaps. Teo; how dare he have such a smooth and handsome face when he was an evil, bloodthirsty creature! How could he have been attracted and, well, he could admit it now that it was over, almost in love with this...

“How... why?” he stammered, pulling the arm of Kleos toward him, he could guess very pale under his guard face. He could tell that Kleos didn’t appreciate the show either. “It’s monstrous,” he managed to say, in a choked voice.

Only his eyes moved.

“They are all volunteers,” he murmured, because Teo was now leaving the barge to make his annual speech. “People that want to be one with the Horus before feeding him. The ones sacrificing their own lives will be part of the Horus’s harem in the afterlife. Each year, there are more and more volunteers and they need to draw lots. These three were the winners this year.”

Religious fanatics, Adriel thought. There was nothing more he found so absurd and more of a waste than this. This crazy behavior had made him sick since his youth at the Temple.

He stared at his superior, to get some comfort or explanation. By his voice, his posture, it was even more than obvious that Kleos was the only one of this barbaric crowd bothered by the gory display and for once, he felt like he could maybe make a friend who understood him. He wasn’t sure if he could trust Kleos, but if, in the end, he could, the General would be a great ally. Kleos looked really disgusted by the Royal government of Theba and if he was, maybe he would agree to flee with him, far away of this hellish kingdom.

On the stage, at the top step of the stairs, a huge terrace, Teo turned to address his people. "This year, the floods will give a wonderful harvest," he said, looking very pleased with himself, and the crowd yelled in frenzy at such poor words. His so-called speech done, he pulled on the tail of his mantle, as if was a theater curtain and went up the stairs, followed by his court to continue his debaucheries in private, adored by his Nobles and his slaves.

 

 

Chapter Text


 


 

Adriel was almost glad to be punished. There was no way he could swallow the red wine that the others were binge drinking since their return from the terrible ceremony. How they could wipe their mouths and taint their clothes with red spots looking like splattered blood without feeling sick remembering the slaughter on the barge was beyond him.

He barely touched his dinner, even if it was the fanciest he had ever had. His whole mind was too filled by the scattered images of Teo. Teo nobly descending the stairs; Teo thrusting into a man; Teo sucking the same man dry; Teo not giving a damn about what he had just done.

And he, Adriel, was almost a worse monster to have been attracted to such a soulless demon.

But around the feast table at the barracks, one seemed to share his dark thoughts. General Kleos didn’t appear to enjoy the taste of the wine, but he was gulping his fifth glass with the passion of a man eager to forget. Kleos was staring into the void, pale and with the gaze of a man just coming back from Hell. Adriel could relate. How could they be the only ones feeling upset and disgusted in the crowd after such a grotesque and gory show? But it was the shocking reality. Right now, they were all most bothered by the fact that the whores promised had still not arrived.

Adriel glanced at his superior, sitting at the end of the table, with sympathy. He didn’t need to sit next to him to know Kleos’s glass was empty again but his plate full. From what he could see, the general only ate some grapes. Did he himself look like that? Adriel forced himself to take a loaf of bread and he tore it to soak it in the spicy olive oil in the plate in front of him.

His stomach revolted against the mouthful taken against his will and Adriel put down the bread. It was useless to force himself; the bread in the oil tasted like bloody human flesh.

“This is the time we raise our cups to the Horus Crowned Prince!” an officer proclaimed.

Indeed, even if they were all Lumens, to have so much booze and food seemed exceptional even to them. There the grateful faces split with the huge grins of everyone. They were happy to drink and eat without giving a care in the world about the bloodthirsty monster who provided it for them. It was sickening.

Kleos was the one supposed to propose the toast. Now that another had done it, the General had no choice but to do it, since he was supposed to be the model. Adriel, though, looked at his superior with worry. What if Kleos refused? Would he get reported? He probably would since the other officers would want his position. Adriel clenched his fists. What would he do himself, he wondered? He couldn’t even fake cheering at that vampire.

Kleos rose up with a few struggles. The general was flushed by the excess of wine and Adriel heard the murmurs around him. Looking around, he saw the lust in many eyes and he remembered what had led him to be punished. The other soldiers talked shit about the General being a former pet and that it would be nice to tap his ass. Since the start of their training one month ago, Kleos's fair skin had tanned to the sun and his face was looking older, with the hue of old leather. The fact Kleos was bulky and manly and have nothing from the usual cat sub-guy was even more a turn-on to them. The General got a pet training and so, must be a great laid. They weren't elite soldiers from the Horus Special Air Force anymore, but just a bunch of horny, drunk morons.

But Kleos was still standing up, his teeth clenched and his hand almost crushing the copper cup he was squeezing it so hard. They were all waiting and Adriel felt his heart racing. What if Kleos refused to make a toast? If so, he would defend the General. Kleos was a formidable fighter and he himself was pretty good. Enough to keep them in respect, in case it turned bad. Adriel's imagination kept going. Kleos had on him the key that started any aircraft engine. He was a pilot. They could steal the aircraft and fly away.

But where was the hangar?

"To the Prince," Kleos finally hissed. "May he live another fifty thousand dawns."

Adriel didn't move and was thankful that since he got no drink because he was punished and everybody was tipsy at best, nobody noticed he didn't raise his glass for the toast. Instead, he continued to ponder on this question. Whether Kleos followed or no, there was a way to fly away if he could snatch the key. He only needed a damn aircraft.

The hangar was probably around the Rising Sun palace, but it would be much too well-guarded.

“Are we gonna have off for the celebration tomorrow, too?” one of them asked the General.

“Flood day is off for everyone except priests,” Kleos replied, his voice clipped despite the wine. “The Horus will be at the human hood for this day. The Regem won’t accompany him this year, I heard. The prince can fly by himself for such a short trip over the city and doesn’t need extra protection either. His personal bodyguard and the Praetorian would suffice among mere humans.”

Adriel even stopped breathing, an idea popping in his head. Indeed, the Royals never used any carriage in the city, even less their foot. It was only a few hours’ walk from the Palace to the Human Temple. But the Prince preferred to fly in a plane four minutes than to walk, to have more time to fuck and eat people. Adriel had already seen the aircraft, shining in the sunbeams, land in a field next to the Temple and now that Adriel was thinking about it, had never seen it guarded. Indeed, why would the Horus have sent guards to watch over an aircraft that nobody in the human hood (or even in the city for the matter) could make fly? But Adriel could.

“You are all allowed to leave the barracks for 24 hours, from the moment you leave this table,” Kleos continued. “You can go home and see your family or friends if you have any.”

Adriel couldn’t believe his luck. It was his opportunity! If he asked to return to see his family, he could go to his father's Temple and so, get close of the Prince’s airship. He would just have to wait in the crowd outside the Temple and when the Prince was busy inside with the ceremony, he would be able to steal the airship. The key was the only obstacle.

Adriel looked down very quickly when he felt the gaze of his superior on him to not show the joy he felt, before telling himself he was a dumbass. Everybody was cheerful from the news and showing no emotion would be suspicious.

"I'm going to sleep," the General announced. “All of you need to be ready in 24 hours from now. Until then, just don’t shame your battalion. ”

The shared glances weren’t unnoticed by Adriel. Kleos was targeted by the other men and in this drunken state; Kleos could maybe not offer the resistance he usually could. Leaving the General alone would be dangerous. Also, Adriel wanted to talk to him. Never before had he seen any opening in the behavior of his superior. Kleos was all business, 24/7. He never tried to get close of him before. Kleos was an Honorable Lumen. It was enough reason for Adriel to stay far away, despite his respect for the leadership and fighting skills of Kleos. The General was acting like one of the automatons he had seen once at the Hive. He walked around without a feeling except duty, like the most soulless person Adriel had ever met. But now, after the so-called barge ceremony, Adriel had seen in the General an unexpected sensitivity and perhaps even a rebellious streak.

He could see in Kleos that they were partly made of the same iron. One who couldn’t bend for the Royals like others did. The General had hinted that he followed orders by ambition. Adriel’s own father was an ambitious man, but his way of reaching this goal was to crawl on the ground, to lick up the crumbs the Regem would give him. Kleos’s ambition wasn’t of the same kind.

What if Kleos’s ambition was to rise high enough... to get free. If that was so, they would both share the same goal. But to be positive about that or to get the key, he had to get close to Kleos. Yesterday, it would have been unthinkable, but alcohol and something else were weighing on his superior and Adriel saw it as an opening, a chink in the General’s armor. Who knew how long this weak spot would last? He needed to jump on the opportunity while it was there. The guy sitting next to him seemed to think along the same lines, his lustful eyes on the lower back of the General. He needed to act fast.

Adriel stood up to exclaim he was going to sleep too, not minding the sneers. The others were probably thinking that he was following the General to have sex with him. Whatever they thought didn’t matter to Adriel. Anyway, if he had once been looking forward to knowing physical pleasure, Teo’s obscene show had cured him of sexual desire. It would take a while before he wiped the shocking images of a dead body covered in blood and cum being thrusted into from his mind.

The General didn’t appear to have heard him and didn’t slow his pace, walking with long strides to his room, at the other end of the hall.

“Wait General! I need to talk with you.”

Kleos stopped, his hand already pushing open his bedroom door.

“If you want my permission to go see your family for the Flood Day, I already gave it to you,” Kleos replied dryly. “We have nothing to talk about.”

“It’s not about that!” Adriel was now next to him, and he lowered his voice. “I will probably visit my father tomorrow, but that’s not my main concern at the moment, General.”

Kleos narrowed his eyes like he often does.

“Your concerns aren’t mine, except if it’s about training and if it's about training, I will hear you out the day after the Flood. I’m tired, so please, leave me alone.”

The way he spat ‘please’ made it sound more like an order than anything but Adriel thought that Kleos was like a wild animal, needing to be approached with care to get his trust. The General had to know that even if Adriel wasn’t obeying right now that didn’t make him an enemy

“I’m not a snitch, but I heard some shit talking about you. You know how booze can affect judgment and I’m afraid some of the troop will get bold and, well, decide to make a move on you,” Adriel told him blunty. “I wanted to warn you and also, if you need, I can keep watch at your door a few hours.”

Adriel knew that the chance his superior got insulted about his offer was high. To accept would mean Kleos was recognizing himself as weak or drunk and the General was a far too proud son of a bitch for that.

But, to Adriel’s surprise, the General stayed expressionless.

“What did they say?” he asked, his voice dull. “How they wanted to push me down and have their way with me?” he guessed flatly. “That was to be expected. Anyway, the whores will be there in a few minutes. They‘ll have their hands full.”

Adriel frowned, confused. How was the General not shocked by it?

"You must have heard about it," Kleos shrugged. "After all, I was a pet, trained to be a great lay. I won't call them out for harboring sterile fantasies."

Adriel couldn't believe it. It was true: Kleos was a former pet. But how from a pet, could he have been named Honorable and in charge of the Horus Special Air Force?

"Did you pass through the House of Life?" he wondered. He knew the General wouldn't answer any questions, but Adriel was too impressed. Pet was the lowest class among Lumens, considered as nothing more than a precious object with a short life span. Indeed, Kleos was an ambitious and resourceful man to have climbed so high in ten years.

Kleos ran a hand through his hair, but his face was still unreadable.

"Follow me," the General sighed. "I'm not having this conversation in the hall."

Kleos entered his room and, still stunned to have been invited in, Adriel followed. Did the General really mean for them to discuss it? Did he recognize in Adriel someone like him? Or was he more worried that he wanted to admit the rape threat?

He glanced around him with curiosity. To have been invited into an Honorable’s bedroom wasn't something he thought would happen to him in his lifetime.

The room was simpler than he thought. In fact, except that there was only a bed in the dormitory, the room wasn't that different, except for a chair and a desk. There was no decoration at all, just some quickly painted hunting scenes on the walls, almost the same as they had in the common dining room. Kleos had made no effort to put any personalization into his room.

"I never stayed long at the same place," Kleos explained, like he had read Adriel's thoughts. The General was busy pouring water into a cup. From his position, Adriel could only see his back. It was hard to tell what his superior was thinking. "So, I never bothered to buy myself furniture or too many belongings. My duty could bring me to another Kingdom tomorrow. Who knows?"

Kleos took a long gulp and then paused a moment, the cup against his forehead, like he was in deep reflection.

"I didn't pass through the House of Life, for your information. Also, I'm not scared a bit about those men," he said in a low voice. "If they knew better, they would think twice. If they know that I was a pet, they also know that I stopped being one when I got arrested for having killed my owner."

It was the moment Kleos locked eyes with him, like he was watching the effect of his words on Adriel.

"He was a bad master, a very disgusting man. When he was rough with me, I could manage to bear with it, but I reached the age that I wasn't delicate enough to be a sub anymore,” he explained bitterly. But this man loved my face, so he bought my little sister, who was just turning thirteen and looked like me."

With a slow gesture, Kleos opened a drawer, pulling out a pouch. He opened it and he poured some pale purple powder in his palm, thoughtfully. After a moment of hesitation, he sprinkled it in his water. Adriel was silent, listening. The other life's was fascinating to him, who had lived in such a secluded place all his life. Moreover, knowing Kleos more could only be beneficial.

"I shoved a heated blade up his ass, while he was busy fucking her." Kleos stopped his gesture, looking dreamily into the void and Adriel felt a pit in his stomach. It was indeed an awful death, but Adriel knew in his guts he would have likely acted the same.

“So, of course, his howl of agony awakened the house and I was arrested," Kleos continued. "But the widow was so glad to be rid of the man that she didn't ask for my head. She had no use of me as a pet and as my new owner, she only put me on the market to get money. I was ripe and a looker, she said and she hoped that some effeminate Noble would want me to top them, but who would buy and bring a murderer into his house? You don't take a dog with rabies as a pet."

"What happened?" Adriel asked, gasping. He was still standing awkwardly on the doorstep, waiting for a more explicit invitation before stepping further inside.

Kleos stretched his hand in an inviting gesture and Adriel took three steps forward and the General drank his cup.

"What do you expect would possibly happen at a pet auction? My story was so rare, it spread all over the city and many curious were there to see the specimen I was, but no one was crazy enough to offer money for me. I was good-looking but many more easy-going pets also were. I was about to end up like the unwanted pets, when one man took an interest in me and bought me…"

Kleos poured himself a second glass and after a slight hesitation, again mixed some powder in it. Adriel wondered what it could be. Maybe some sleeping powder to sleep without having nightmares. Just thinking about the dark Prince again, Adriel wasn't looking forward to sleep.

"But how did you become a soldier then?"

Kleos's usually impassive features twisted, painful and troubled; Adriel realized that his superior was greatly upset. It was strange to be the witness of it, when he wasn’t even close with Kleos.

"This new master has no use of me. He grew curious about me hearing of my reputation as a cold-blooded murderer. He had mistaken me for something I wasn't. He was… disappointed." Adriel could tell by the General’s unusually upset face that it was a painful memory for him and Adriel grew remorseful to have asked in the first place. “So, he freed me and pushed me into the military, because he told me I would be good at it and it would be a payback to he who saved my life. Since then, I swore to not disappoint him ever again.”

“He was a good man, your second owner, and very clever one to see your warrior potential,” Adriel told him. Out of instinct he could guess that even if this master didn’t keep him, Kleos has still fond feelings about him. Adriel wasn’t sure why his superior was telling him such a detailed story, maybe only because Kleos was even more wasted than he had first thought, but speaking of his second master in good terms would smooth the General’s mistrusting soul.

“Have you ever suffered from unrequited love?” Kleos asked thoughtfully, out of the blue. “Do you have a lover in your human hood and is that the reason you want to go back tomorrow?”

Adriel wasn’t sure how to answer that. Just thinking back about Teo opened his still-fresh wounds.

“I had someone once I looked forward to making my lover,” he admitted and his mouth was filled with a bitter taste, remembering his first encounter with Teo in the garden. “But he wasn’t what he seemed to be, so I forgot about him. It was only the short-lived crush of a teenager. I don’t have any lover now, either…” he uttered, slightly embarrassed. At almost nineteen years old, it was shameful to be still a virgin, even more in front of such an experienced man as the General. If Kleos had been a pet, that meant he had gone through a very specific training and was sexually active since he was thirteen or fourteen.

“If that’s so,” Kleos teased, like it was easy to expect, “how come with your build and at your age, you haven’t managed to get laid yet? Where have you been all these past years? In jail?”

Adriel flushed hard. Kleos had hit the bullseye. Indeed, maybe if it wasn’t for the Pyramid, he wouldn’t be still a virgin, but of course the General must not know that. If he learned that Adriel had been a heretic, even if he wasn’t fond of the Royals, he would condemn such a reckless attitude and kick him out and if he was out, there no way he could leave in an airship.

“Your first partner would be disappointed,” he sneered. “Your look is misleading. You seem like a great jackal. Many cats must meow at your door.”

Adriel snorted at this. The only cats he got were the ones with actual fur and tails.

“What about you?” he asked, growing bold. He never got to talk about sex, not with a real connoisseur. Teo didn’t count since the Horus was only making fun of him. “You didn’t look like a cat yourself! How come you were at the receiving end?”

Kleos snorted, raising his cup mockingly.

“Pets receive basic training to please whatever our master would turn out to be and one couldn’t be a perfect lover if they don’t know what their partner was feeling. Men are all built the same and where I felt good, the other was likely to have the same soft spots. Also, there are masters who like to have someone bigger than themselves underneath them. I was less muscular back then. Physical training gave me more muscle. But this isn’t about me. My ass and cock could please anyone,” he said with a wink and Adriel blushed hard. “Because, as you know, I never do anything half-heartedly. I can use the same passion and focus from the battlefield in the bed.”

Suddenly, Adriel was hot. It was like the air around him had gone thicker. Hearing such dirty talk from the stoic General was weird, but kind of a turn-on.

“Do you want me to teach you?” Kleos suggested, smirking. “It would be a favor for your first real partner to not be clumsy like you would be or to not finish too early.”

“I’m not clumsy!” Adriel snapped, forgetting he was talking to a superior, but hadn’t Kleos forgotten himself by suggesting such things? “I’m pretty good at anything I put my mind and heart into!”

“If you are curious, I received a ticket to attend the Prince’s birthday party at the palace. But I wonder if such an orgy won’t be too much for a guy like you,” Kleos mocked with a sour smirk. “The Prince is a great host and wants to satisfy any preference his guests could have.”

A shiver ran through Adriel’s spine and he felt a dropping sensation. Indeed, the commoner part of him was thirsty to see gold and glitter and was the one who had been so obsessed, fapping to the Prince, eager to see his beauty, but now he knew better. The handsome face, the attractive body and the shiny metal were lures to get dumbasses into a deadly trap. Besides, Adriel sure as fuck didn’t want to see Teo surrounded by his sex dolls. It wasn’t out of jealousy, it was only sickening.

“I’d rather not,” he answered with a raspy voice. It was like his mouth was filled with sand and he licked his lips. “I’m fine with sex, but I’m not into blood and the Horus looks to get off on it quite a lot!” he spat, more aggressively than he should have. He needed to stay neutral to not look suspicious, not when he was so close to his goal of gaining Kleos’s trust. “I’m a commoner, not at ease with such a noble assembly,” he added, but to his own ears, it sounded fake.

Kleos didn’t answer, like he was considering something Adriel couldn’t understand. Finally, the General handed him a second cup and waved the purple-grayish powder pouch at him.

"Do you want some? This is ground blue lotus. It’s a plant growing only in the artificial lake behind the palace. They mix it with both a narcotic and an aphrodisiac. It makes you see what your heart is longing for. The more you take, the more vivid the illusion could be. It hits very hard the first time; it would affect even your sense of touch,” Kleos explained, but his smile wasn’t too engaging. “It would be exactly like you are making love to the one you truly want and I would feel the same. We are doing a favor for each other here because, like you, I think I won’t sleep tonight and it would be an opportunity for you to learn. As you could guess, I’m pretty good even if I haven't practiced for years. I tried to be faithful to my beloved even if I know he isn’t.”

‘It would be exactly like you are making love to the one you truly want.’ The words were playing in his mind and he couldn’t help and picture a pair of smug golden eyes. But even in imagination, Adriel refused to yield to his desire for Teo. He wouldn’t let this cocky, twisted bastard win, even if the Prince would never know he had.

“Who is your unrequited love?” Adriel blurted out, to clean his mind of erotic images of Teo spread in front of him. He needed Kleos to keep talking rather than tempt him by suggestion. The General looked deeply in love, something Adriel couldn’t have imagined since his superior was so stern. To love him to the point of being faithful, when Kleos could have easily taken other lovers with his look and position, while this mysterious beloved wasn’t, was even weirder. Adriel couldn’t stand to share the one he loved, he was sure of it. “Is it your second owner?” he questioned. “You talked about him with a certain fondness. He must be a nice person, since I guess it’s not every day that pet gets released. Well, I say that but I don’t know much about Lumen custom, since as you know, I’m a mere human,” he stammered. His nervousness must be evident. He had spoken too fast.

“Yes, it’s him,” Kleos admitted lowly. “But even if he did free me, I’m still his. He didn’t file any release forms. The morning after he bought me, he just asked me to leave his bed and gave me two tokens and some money for my trouble, telling me I would serve him better from afar,” he said mournfully.

“Two tokens!” Adriel exclaimed, bewildered. He knew that some very loved and precious pets could get one token at the death of their master, after years of service, if their owner was very rich or without children. But to get TWO after only one night, for having supposed to have been disappointing, was insane. “I understand having been attached to such a generous man. Was he old? Was he attractive? He must have been from a noble family for centuries,” he asked, now very curious about the General’s story.

“For his age, I don’t know, but we looked around the same at the time. But I know for sure he is older than me. He’s a man with great life experience, and yes, he is a very attractive person. Too much for my liking. But please, don’t talk to me more about him,” Kleos sighed. “It brings me deep sorrow to think we are apart. I accepted this position because he wanted this path for me. I will fulfill what he wanted me to do, because though I may be your General, I’m still a pet, deep inside.”

There it was, the most moving thing he had ever heard. It was more stirring than Machaon’s crazy love story, but Adriel was actually disappointed. If Kleos was still loyal to his beloved former master, there was no way he would accept escaping with him. It was too bad, the General would have been very useful, but he could understand how much love could have a hold on someone.

“I already took some,” Kleos continued, meaning the drugs he was still waving in front of Adriel’s nose. “The effect will start soon. Are you with me or do I walk back to the common dining room, or maybe I could even go to the Palace? It's barely a twenty-minute walk.”

“How did you get that shit?” Adriel said, snatching the pouch. He knew it wasn’t poison, because he had seen Kleos drink some of it and it wasn’t like he was afraid of such a calm death as poison, anyway, but he was concerned about where Kleos had gotten this drug. It looked like something very expensive and he was still unable to wrap his mind about his superior using drugs. The stories he heard about drug addicts were frightening, but they didn’t fit with what he knew of the General’s personality. Why he was using that?

“The Horus Crowned Prince sent us some. He uses blue Lotus quite a lot during his parties. They burn it to use it as incense, they sprinkle in the wine, they oil themselves with it, some snort it to have the effect more quickly. No wonder each of their parties turn into wild orgies. But this is a special blend given to us, made in the Royal Laboratory. This is a royal favor for me, the head of the battalion,” the General commented bitterly. “I can use it with any chosen partner and since you think you are heartbroken like me, why not you? It’s an unexpected opportunity for you; you will lose your virginity having the illusion of being with the one your heart truly wants. Don’t you want it?”

“I dunno. I saw him enough today for my own good,” Adriel shot back, before realizing he had said too much. But Kleos didn’t look like he cared, and Adriel realized that the General hadn’t asked a question about Adriel himself or about his ‘unrequited love’. That meant the General didn’t care for him really, but in a way, it was a blessing. He had no idea what to say about Teo without revealing his identity. But he still hesitated, even if finally getting laid would be great. It wasn’t because Kleos by himself was disgusting. The guy was quite handsome, despite being severe, but the situation was too odd to put him in the mood. Kleos looked insisting and it was strange since it was very out of character for him. Had the wine had such an effect on him? Had the ceremony troubled him so much he needed company? Were the other guys right and the General had the hots for him? Not having the slightest idea of the General’s motive was unsettling.

Also, being under the effect of an unknown drug scared the shit out of him. What if something bad happened to him and he wasn’t able to defend himself? And the most important reason was that he knew he would imagine Teo, and he didn’t need that. To even hallucinate fucking him was disgusting, since Teo was an evil Royal Lumen.

“You’re afraid it’ll suck you back in, aren’t you?” Kleos guessed, his hazelnut eyes gleaming with mockery. “You are running away from your desire and you are scared of returning back to square one with this?” he teased. “You can’t hide from something like that, anyway. Love will leap on you at the moment you think you’re done with it and eat you alive! Not doing it tonight with me won’t change a thing.”

The General started to undress and Adriel’s eye caught the key around Kleos neck.

"And you? This isn’t making you more miserable?" he asked, carefully watching each of the General’s moves.

"I'm not running away from him. It's quite the opposite. I'm a shadow, following him, waiting for him to let me embrace him to make me one with his soul."

Kleos was more of a stalker than anything in Adriel's book, but he knows better than to point that out.

“Okay, I will do it, but tomorrow, I need to leave early,” he said, as the General untied could f he could snatch the key while the General was out of it, he could easily steal an airplane. But if he chickened out, Kleos would kick his sorry ass out of his room. Whatever his reason was, the General looked desperate to have sex and even if he wondered why he didn’t use any of the prostitutes included in the royal gift, Adriel didn’t want to lose this unique chance.

The taste wasn’t too bad and he swallowed all of it. Anyway, whatever he saw, it couldn’t be worse than the nightmares he could have had if he slept in the dormitory. The General was now fully naked but Adriel kept staring at the falcon tattooed on his chest. It was as if it was standing out of the flesh, and it wasn’t long before Adriel felt dizzy.

“I’m not feeling well,” he admitted. Kleos must be feeling the same because he lay on the bed, his arm across his face. His breathing was labored and Adriel decided to reach out to him, to ask him if he was alright, but when he touched his arm, to see Kleos’s face, Teo was looking at him.

“Touch me,” Teo moaned and Adriel held his breath. It was too realistic to be a hallucination, but a part of his brain reminded him it had to be since they were now at his father’s Temple garden and not in Kleos’s room anymore. All the details of his first encounter with Teo were there; lying in the grass and wearing the same simple blue-gray tunic, with the falcon on his leg. He lifted the tunic, amazed. It was the same satiny golden flesh and he looked at his hand to check if it had powder on it.

“Stop looking at your own hand like an idiot and fuck me already,” Teo exclaimed and it was so him to be impatient like that. But Adriel wasn’t in a hurry and he let his hand roam on his upper body, stroking the hard muscle under the soft flesh. Like magic, the tunic disintegrated where he had touched, leaving Teo all naked and offered up.

“You didn’t put jewels in your nipples today,” he commented and, amazed, he pinched one of the buds, rolling it delicately between his thumb and finger.

“That’s better for you to suck on them,” Teo sneered and, turned on, Adriel leaned down to taste them, sucking on the sensitive dark rose nipple stronger and stronger until they pointed out. He was already painfully hard and he noticed Teo was as well.

“Can I kiss you?” Adriel asked, still remembering that even if it was so vivid, his superior was behind this illusion and he wasn’t sure if kissing was beyond the limits. He had only kissed once, in the same garden he was now seeing, and it had been ecstasy.

The amber eyes shined with amusement.

“Don’t ask such a thing. Are you a man? Just do it!”

Adriel didn’t ask twice and pressed his lips to the other’s with force. Teo’s opened like a blossoming flower but Adriel could taste the wine in the heated kiss. Only the vision and the hearing were tricked by the drug. Neither his sense of smell nor taste was, and his memory wasn’t too affected either. Maybe he didn’t take enough.

Teo looked impatient because he changed their position, pushing Adriel down and twisting his nipples. He barely restrained a moan. He didn’t know it could be so sensitive.

But he hadn’t seen anything yet until Teo put his cock in his mouth, twirling his tongue around it, all the time, glancing up at him lustfully.

“I love your face,” Teo whispered, spreading Adriel’s precum with his thumb. “Your eyes are like pure jewels. I love you.”

This was very uncharacteristic of Teo and Adriel guessed it was the General speaking to his unrequited love, but it could be his own mind, hearing these words. This is what he really longed for, a loving sex partner, and it was his only chance to have the Horus playing this role.

“Ride me,” he demanded and with a hiss Teo impaled himself on him and Adriel couldn’t hold back. His cock was squeezed too delightfully. He clung to his partner, for him to be filled to the hilt quicker, and he thrust from underneath, holding Teo fiercely to keep him from flying away.

“I caught you, little bird,” he half groaned and moaned. They were now at it for maybe ten minutes. The bastard was so hot inside, he felt like melting. He gyrated his hips so eagerly that Adriel was the one driven nuts by it. “You’re mine. I’m not a crazy son of a bitch like you, to burn a reminder of me in your skin,” he babbled, too lost in lust to wonder if Kleos could hear him. “But remember it from now on. A hot cock up your ass is better than any corpse’s.”

“Shut up! You’re breaking the mood,” Teo said, glaring, but he was panting, his honey-colored eyes misted by tears of pleasure. “I’m coming.”

But Adriel beat him and climaxed, barely conscious of Teo sneering about cherry boys coming too early.

When he woke up, with a faint headache and a bitter aftertaste in his mouth he was naked, spread on Kleos, who was sleeping very deeply, probably more hit by the drugs he took in larger quantity and by the wine, Adriel guessed, recalling the events.

There was no doubt about this not being a dream. They both had dried semen on them and the two cups were still on the table. He had had sex with the General. He wasn't ashamed of his late virgin state anymore, but he was less happy about it than he had thought he would be.

Teo’s whisper about loving him and his kisses were fake and as he had guessed, the memories of this night had only made his fatal attraction tenfold worse. How could he get rid of it now?

Before laying down, Kleos had removed the key from around his neck to set it on the table and Adriel didn’t think twice. That the General was still asleep was the sign his running away was blessed. He delicately put aside the barracks’ cat who had sneaked into the General’s room at some moment, to awake neither it nor Kleos. He snatched the key and after having wiped himself clean and gotten dressed, he sneaked out the room.

****

He had just passed through the gate, showing off his token on his badge when he saw the Prince’s aircraft in the sky. His heart raced while his memory was flooded with scattered images of his drug trip. Teo riding him, his awesome face twisted by pleasure. Now that he thought of it, there was something wrong in his hallucination, proving it was indeed his subconscious projecting his fantasies. While they had sex, Teo's eyes stayed the color of molten gold, while from what he had witnessed, they were pitch black when the Prince was carried away. His mind had played the simple young man from the garden, not the alien covered in gold that put Adriel off so much. At the time, fucking the illusion of Teo had been great, but now, it was giving him the same bitter taste as the drug itself.

Drugs were at the same level as the damn wine. He wouldn't touch them anymore. But it was pointless to have regrets and he had no time to waste. Adriel was now more determined than ever to escape and if Kleos woke up and realized his key was missing, he would do the math quickly in his head.

He took some turns to avoid the human crowd around the Temple. Hidden behind the barn, he waited. He had to wait until the Horus was inside. Once he was there, Adriel would have a free path to the airplane for about thirty minutes, the length of the ceremony. Never had he been so happy that his father was fond of endless speeches.

If someone was there or even a few people, watching the plane, he would deal with it, Adriel thought, his hand squeezing the blade he 'borrowed' from the barracks. Kleos had trained him to fight one against five and he doubted that Teo would use so many guards to watch over a plane nobody could use to fly.

Trumpet anthems and cheers from the crowds sounded and Adriel thought bitterly that they were as high as the Lumens’ yesterday. Lumen or humans, they were all a bunch of fools. From his hidden spot, he saw the golden silhouette walking, worshipped by the crowd. When the door closed behind the Horus, Adriel knew it was the time.

The aircraft must have landed on the flat plain near the fortification. The priesthood was the least populated of the human hoods, with a pasture so that the sacrificed animals could graze, and herbal gardens for incense. Teo must have landed his airplane on the pasture, and he sneaked there with the most skill he could, thanking the sky that people were too busy kissing the Prince’s golden ass to bother watching for suspicious individuals.

There, as he thought, was the plane and Adriel took in the details of the machine with impressed eyes. The aircraft was gold-plated had the shape of a falcon with spread wings, as was to be expected, Adriel supposed. He had a moment of worry, concerned about if he could make fly this heavy thing, but the absence of any guards was a sign, he decided. Whether there were gods or not, no guards had to be seen as a blessing. Also, he had more than sixty hours of training as a pilot. Determined, he took out Kleos’s key. What a blessing it was also that the General had consumed so much, making him oversleep, which had never happened before.

With a pounding heart, he opened the door, with a hand still on the knife at his side, ready to fight any opponent. He got at first a moment of joy when he realized the cockpit was empty, but that was quickly followed by confusion. The command board didn’t look at all like the one he practiced with.

There was no place for a key, only buttons and a screen. The control stick was maybe the only thing almost familiar and he rushed closer to see how to turn it on. He barely had twenty-five minutes to figure it out.

And from there, everything went downhill when he heard Kleos from behind.

“Stop it, already. You will just crash the plane,” the General told him in a low, serious voice.

Adriel snapped his head toward him,

“How do you know?” he shouted with despair. Damn it! He was so close! “Please turn a blind eye on this! Nobody would blame you!” he pleaded. Maybe the moments they had spent together would make the General feel pity for him and he would let Adriel go.

Suddenly, an arm spun him around. In front of him was a monstrous creature. It was female, from what he could tell, but she was about six inches taller than himself, with an unnaturally green dark tanned complexion and phosphorescent eyes staring at him in a disturbing way. The lower part of her face, her nose, mouth and chin were covered by a cat mask and she was holding an 8-foot long golden spear. Out of instinct, Adriel knew she was bad news.

“Stop,” Kleos pleaded again. “You will end up killed.”

But Adriel had gone too far to step back now. Liberty was so close, he could almost taste it. This creature could be tall, but he was a great fighter. If he could knock her down and figure out how to start the airplane, he would be free. The matter was knowing where Kleos stood on it. If he could get Kleos on his side, they could both overpower this woman.

“I’m sorry, but I’ve hated this planet since the day I was born,” he told Kleos, his eyes not leaving the woman. “This is where I belong. Just go back to where you came from, General, and fake not having seen me. Nobody would blame you for what I did on my day off,” he said in a low voice. “Or, you can follow. You may love your former owner, but being free is much more thrilling in my opinion. You could find someone else on Earth who would loves you with much more care…”

“That’s impossible, she won’t let you go…” Kleos started and without waiting, Adriel drew his blade in front of the woman. He wouldn’t harm her, but he needed her to get scared enough to let him be.

“Let me pass, and I’ll give you my token” Adriel proposed. Maybe it would be enough for the woman to let go.

But nothing flinched in the luminescent green stare. She was studying him, ready to leap on any movement he could make, he realized. Then, he noticed the tail, flickering angrily and, his heart missed a beat. She was a member of the Sekhmet tribe, but what was she doing there?

“She only obeys her master’s command,” Kleos warned him again. “They are one soul in two bodies. Gold, tokens, threats, nothing will move her except the Horus’s command.”

If she was a servant of evil, too bad for her, and boldly Adriel raised his arms but in a sharp move with the spear, she made him drop his blade. With a curse, Adriel quickly took it again and in a desperate attempt, he leaped on her. She twisted her spear to knock him on the knee and in two seconds flat, Adriel was on the ground.

“Stop it, you embarrass me as your instructor,” Kleos snapped. “You can’t defeat her! She is an undead!”

An undead? Adriel thought she was a Sekhmet. What she was, then? But anyway now he was too thirsty for freedom to listen and he threw himself on her again.

“Don’t fucking care what she is,” he rasped. “I will die, but I will die as a free man.”

“She is the Prince’s personal bodyguard,” Kleos tried again. “That means…”

“That means her master is still close by,” a mocking voice added and dread filled Adriel. Feeling frozen, he barely moved, only glancing to the side to be sure. Indeed, it was him, Teo, wearing a very simple white kilt, very short, with sandals with golden leather straps that rose to above his knee, enhancing his fine legs. He had been hidden all along in the cockpit, probably chucking like a toddler at watching Adriel trying to get free. His whole body was glistening and Adriel could almost taste warm honey looking at it. That skin begged to be caressed, stroked and worshipped, and his palms felt itchy, having flashes of his dream from his drugged state. Then, after having kicked himself to stop staring the bastard’s legs, he noticed the presence of Teo’s long guard-nails, their sharpened edge on Kleos’s aorta.

“The fuck are you doing here?” Adriel shouted, wondering how he could be still so angry when the situation was so critical for him and Kleos. “I saw you and your kiss-ass followers entering the Temple.

“What a disappointment,” Teo retorted, raising an eyebrow. “I would have bet you would be more happy to see me again. But to answer your question, I must admit, masks are really convenient. Anyone with a nice body could replace me,” he concluded with a smirk.

Of course, it would happen. Adriel barely restrained a howl. Whenever Teo didn’t feel like it, he had someone take his place.

“You were too bored today to show your gorgeous self because there was neither fucking or slaughtering on the menu?” he snarled, now openly glaring at him. “With how boring humans are for you!”

“If that’s so, you must be not human, since I found you highly entertaining,” Teo teased back. “Even if, I must admit, you are very predictable, but I’m a guy who contents himself with simple pleasures.”

“How did you know I would be there?” Adriel growled, trying to not show how troubled he was. "Is it true that you can read minds?"

The Prince looked at him with disbelieving eyes before bursting into laughter.

"I don't need such a power to read you! Your expressive face alone speaks loudly enough!" But as fast he had laughed, he turned serious. "This is why I want you to come to my palace. I never saw someone with such raw feelings and straightforward expression of them. So, I ask you for the last time. Follow me willingly or…” He pulled harder on Kleos’s hair and pressed his nail guard hard enough to make a droplet of blood appear. “Or I do with your General what I did yesterday to the fellows on my barge. I know you saw me,” he grinned mischievously. “And I’m sure you keep very strong memories of it. In fact, to be honest, thinking of you kept me hard.” He grinned even more, looking at the face Adriel made. “It was a shame you were too far to see closely, but now, I can make it up to you. You won’t miss a thing,” he threatened in his saccharine voice.

Bile went up in his throat and Adriel felt he was about to puke from anguish. He didn’t want Kleos to die for his own selfish desire to flee. The General was a Lumen and sex between them had not been out of love, but still, this man had put much more care into him than his own father had, in addition to being a very capable man. He didn’t love Kleos, but he respected him in a way and also, Kleos’s confession about his unrequited love had awoken his sympathy.

“You will kill him either way! He is a very good soldier for you, but you will, whatever I decide, because you don’t give a dogshit about other people’s lives!” Adriel shouted.

Teo looked at him, his eyes shining with a slight indignation.

“It’s true I don’t care about life, but I do care for my honor. I swear to you he won’t die, unless he asks for it.”

“What, do you want to lock me up in your fancy harem? You can just torture me quicky, kill me here and rape my dead body since corpses are your kink!” Adriel snapped, now trembling with helpless rage and fear.

The Horus looked surprised, like Adriel was spouting nonsense

“Do you hate me that much?” he asked.

“Yes!” Adriel roared, the most provocative he could get, his heated glare on him.

Teo didn't look bothered a bit, even he seemed pleased by Adriel's statement.

"I'm glad to awaken so many strong feelings in you," he retorted with a smirk. "Be assured, I have strong feelings for you as well."

Adriel's breath raged, seeing the blood droplet running from Kleos's neck and tainting the nail guard. The Prince hated him and out of spite, he would kill the General.

"I told you I won't" Teo answered. "If I wanted both of you dead, Bast would have torn both of you apart, already."

Adriel stared at the bodyguard. Bast was a name given to cute girls, not seven-foot warriors.

"I have use for both of you, so it would sadden me to have to kill you."

Adriel looked at Kleos's face for a hint of what to do. He was his superior and he knew the General to be very cold-blooded and to have a sharp mind, but to his shock, he could see Kleos flushed and quivering and so, not of any help at all. Adriel uttered a sigh of frustration. If he was the only one threatened, he would make a fight of it, but the General didn't deserve to die, not with this unresolved love in his heart. Kleos was a Lumen but it didn't mean he deserved to die without having known happiness.

"Okay," he yielded. "Release him and I will follow you into Hell," he spat.

Teo's smug smirk widened.

"Not before I'm assured you will be a good boy," he stated.

The Prince nodded to his bodyguard and she dragged Adriel to a chair. A shackle was clapped on his neck and his wrist and his ankles were restrained the same way.

Adriel struggled very hard with himself to not let show on his face the anguish he felt.

"Now that I'm tied up, are you satisfied? You're sure a sissy bitch! You're too afraid of me to let me free!" Like every time, insulting Teo was the only comforting thing he could do. "Now, let the General go!"

With a smile, Teo released Kleos, but the General didn’t run away, still standing close to the Prince.

"Satisfied?" the Horus asked in that mocking voice that made Adriel's blood boil. "I’ll let this old acquaintance of yours live. I didn't know you had such fond memories of him after he almost broke your nose."

Adriel blinked, confused.

"What do you mean, bastard? Stop being cryptic or I swear I will ravage you at the moment I get free!" he snarled through his clenched teeth.

Teo gave him such a toothy grin, Adriel could see the sharp canines.

"I'm actually looking forward to it," he exclaimed eagerly, like Adriel’s threat was only a joke to him. "But I guess poor Kleos is hurt you forgot about him after he watched over you so diligently for two years! Isn’t that's so, Commander?"

Adriel felt all his blood drain from his body; he paled at the title. That name brought back so many dark memories. It couldn’t be, his mind pleaded. It was impossible, just a mind fuck or a slip of the tongue of the Prince, calling the General a Commander, that's all. But then, what about this two-years watch comment? His dread must have been apparent, because Teo fucking giggled and Adriel knew he had played by the Royal’s game.

“I’m at your service, your Grace,” Kleos swore with the passionate respect the former Commander always spoke with about the Prince and Adriel felt his psyche break at this realization. “May the Horus Crowned Prince, live another fifty thousand dawns and let his servant serve him,” Kleos added with pure adoration.

Kleos was now kneeling, his shining hazelnut eyes gazing with worship at the Prince who idly stroked the brown locks of his Commander, with a smirk for Adriel.

"I told you, these masks are really convenient, for me, as well as for my guards. They hide the face and change the voice," he sneered to Adriel. "How could you think I'd be so heartless to the point of killing the Commander of my Praetorian guards, my most loyal servant, since I bought him on the pet market. I‘m not such a monster," he mocked; at that moment he had reached new height in evil, according to the former novice.

Tricked, cheated, played, Adriel’s mind kept repeating to him. Of course he had never recognized the Commander without his Horus guard mask. But the former Commanded obviously knew who was Adriel, since from what he had understood, Kleos had probably trained him and did all that he had done by the Horus’s command, the master he was so madly in love with. Many points were aligned in Adriel's mind now even if he didn’t get how the Prince could have bought Kleos ten years ago, when he was only a child. Kleos had told him that Teo had looked the same age. The general had told him something about how he knew his master was older, with great life experience. That probably meant Royals didn’t age like humans, but Adriel didn’t give a shit about this at the moment. He wanted to yell at the idea that Teo had schemed all of this. He had faked having executed the First Commander to use him as a pawn later. His liberation, the twelve coins, Mikelle and the House of Life reassignment as pilot. The training was probably fake, he now realized, since the command board was so different from the one in training. All of that to give Adriel the idea he could get free only to catch him after. The Prince knew he would want to steal the airship and for that, would have to steal this useless key. Even the drugged sex had been planned to gave him a fake feeling of security that Kleos wouldn't awaken. And there, after having predicted right so far, Teo had sent a dummy to the Temple to wait for him to fall in this trap, set a month ago. Now Teo was grinning, his golden eyes all shiny from glee, like a huge spider about to devour his prey. How the fuck could he be so easy to figure out? No, Adriel wasn't to blame. It was only Royal witchcraft, that’s it. It wasn’t a fair fight and it was the only reason he lost to this motherfucker.

Teo turned Kleos's head toward him and they kissed in front of a fuming Adriel. Kleos moaned lowly into the kiss, his eyes closed, savoring the taste of the royal tongue. The usual stern expression from the General was now beaming, his hands stroking the Prince’s body with a devotion Adriel had never seen in any Temple.

Flustered, refusing to look at them, Adriel told himself that when he had sex with the Commander the night before, they probably had hallucinated the same partner. The unrequited one Kleos told him about was the Horus. How hadn't he recognized the Prince in this crazy master, paying so much for a disappointing night? When he had told about his love, the General must have known they fancied the same person and when Kleos had looked so sick during the barge ceremony, it was probably because he was only fucking jealous or itchy to get the same treatment. It was so twisted, his stomach churned, making Adriel want to puke again.

And he had given up his freedom to save Kleos's life, when the Commander had given up his life long ago for the Horus Crowned Prince.

"Now, it's reward time," Teo purred, stroking Kleos's neck with his nail guards. "I heard you had sex. I was hoping you would keep yourself for me," Teo teased and only by his tone, Adriel guessed it had indeed been the Prince’s order. "I kept myself untouched for you,” Teo declared. “Well, not the front part, because it is my duty to visit my harems, but my back one is pure as the day of my creation.”

Adriel fidgeted on his chair, cursing and mad about not being about to block Teo’s voice.

“You had sex with the Commander, whether you had the feeling it was with me or not.For being unfaithful, you have to watch Kleos rip yourself of the honor of stealing my virginity…" The smirk turned predatory. "He deserves it to have been out of his mind to the point of touching you, despite you being his rival. But if you beg for it, I will keep my ass pure for you. The Commander is fine for any position,” he stated, without even glancing at Kleos. “But you have to beg."

"Fuck you! Bend over for him, you monster! I don't care what you do with your prick ass! I fucking hate you anyway!" Adriel shouted with rage,fighting against his restraints. He couldn’t believe how this arrogant asshole believed he would beg! As if! “I’m not Kleos’s rival, he can keep your evil junk!”

The Prince came closer and he delicately ran his golden nail guards over Adriel’s face, raising his chin to lock eyes with him, but Adriel shut his eyes, his lips in a firm line too. He wouldn't beg.

"I'm not sure you hate me enough. I'm sure you could do better," Teo murmured with lascivity. "Commander. You can collect your reward. Do as you wish."

For a moment, when he saw Kleos taking a step closer, he believed he would get a beating. It was more credible than them having sex. The Commander had always hated him and to hold back and hide it for a month, when he knew Adriel had fantasies about his beloved owner must have been hard, like Teo had just said. But they wouldn’t have sex in his face. This was just a bad joke from the Royal jerk. He braced himself for Kleos to unleash on him, his eyes still closed, when he heard the noise of clothes dropping on the ground.

Adriel couldn’t believe it. They were about to do it. Those two crazy motherfuckers were about to have sex three feet from him, Kleos out of love and Teo to piss Adriel off. He wondered how the Commander must feel to only be an object of spite.

"Look at me. You loved to look at me yesterday, when you were under the blue lotus effect, didn’t you? " Teo whispered seductively. “You wanted to play with my jewels, I bet. Look at them now. I put them on, thinking of you. I had to touch myself right afterward, you know.”

Adriel furiously bit his lip and turned his head as far as he could within the restraint collar, his eyes still shut. How the fucker knew that much, he had no idea, but he tried to empty his mind the best he could in an attempt to be out of reach of Teo’s supernatural power

The Prince held his shoulder and in horror, Adriel realized Teo was using him as support while Kleos was breaching him.

“Confess you want me and I can bounce on your cock, instead,” Teo purred. “I know jealousy is your weakness. To see me getting fucked by someone in your face would be pure hell.”

To show off he wasn’t jealous a bit, Adriel opened his eyes, glaring at the black holes that were now the eyes of the Prince.

“You know shit about me!” he spat.

“And still, I’m here because I knew for sure you would be here,” Teo mocked. “From the moment you left Seth Hole, I traced your whole path and wrote down all your decisions to come since you are so easy to guess.”

When Teo’s eyes were like black pearls, it gave the Prince such a disturbing gaze that Adriel couldn’t stand the intensity of it.

“Stop looking at me, you disgusting devil,” he snapped, shutting his eyes again.

Teo didn’t answer; his breathing became labored and he could feel the palm of the Prince squeezing his shoulder more strongly. To be so reactive, it must be true that the Prince was a virgin, at least in the back, but knowing that the Horus had been honest on this point wasn’t making the situation easier, like the fact that the Prince seemed to be careful not to harm him with his nail guards. It wasn’t because the Prince cared for him, his mind warned him. Teo was only sparing him to fuck him over more later. Now, he knew the Royal’s tune.

“Adriel…” Teo moaned wantonly and the cry went straight to the groin of the bound man. Did he have to make such sexy sounds? Adriel cursed mentally, with his eyes still shut. Even the perfume now filling the air was making him dizzy with lust. But Adriel was determined to not give in. He sat there, stone-faced while his crush was being fucked almost on his lap, when a brush on his lip make him open his eyes again. Teo had kissed him, not forcefully, but almost with the shyness of a real first kiss.

“Don’t fucking dare to kiss me!” he growled, hiding his confusion behind anger, but it was too late, he could see the face he had fantasies about so many lonely nights, except for the dark eyes. Teo’s face was so close and it was pleading, begging to be fucked and messed up.
Behind him, he could see Kleos steadily thrusting into him with a vacant yet blissful expression, and licking the Prince’s nape. It must have been the nail guards or the body oil, Adriel thought. The General had told him about the use the Royals made of drugs and he remembered that Teo’s saliva was a powerful analgesic. It was the reason Teo had scratched the guy on the barge and Kleos too. The tips of his nails must be poisonous and plunged the scratched one into a state of lust and numbness. And this was why Teo was careful with them with him. He wanted Adriel fully conscious.

“You’re hard,” Teo moaned and Adriel realized it was true. Even if the situation was pure hell and him in the revolting role of a cuckold, Teo’s scent, voice and face were undoing him despite his strong will. “Do you want me to do something about it? I’m a very skilled partner.”

Adriel shook his head the fiercest he could despite his restraint.

“Don’t you dare go down there!” he hissed threateningly. He didn’t need Teo to boast about it to know the Prince was a great lover. Each of the Prince’s moves expressed it loudly enough since their first meeting. Adriel knew very well that if Teo touched him, he was done. He could stand torture, but royal caresses were another business.

“Your face is more honest than your mouth,” Teo teased. The sound of his voice was making Adriel’s dick twitch despite himself. How he hated this man for having such a powerful hold on him without even trying hard. “Your look is just begging me to suck you off!”

Resisting was pointless. Adriel cursed the Prince, tried to break the metal restraint and even attempted to get a reaction from Kleos to make him intervene, but Teo soon had his cock in hand. The Commander was too busy having the time of his life.

The Price licked the underside of it and Adriel fought hard against a shiver that ran through his spine. It wasn’t at all like the day before with the General.

“If you close your eyes and are unable to watch me it's because you are a pussy,” Teo declared hotly. “You’re scared to show off how much you want me, the awful Royal you hated all your life.” It was very obvious that the Prince was only baiting his pride, but it didn’t prevent Adriel from biting anyway.

“I don’t!” he denied with force. “I just don’t feel like looking at your ugly evil face,” he said, glaring at the Prince. Focussing on the eyes was the best tactical move since it was the thing putting him off the most.

Teo didn’t comment about being called ugly, such a huge lie, and he kissed Adriel’s thigh.

“I got a new piercing for you,’ he said showing off a very long, inhuman tongue, pierced with a golden bar with a lapiz-lazuli set in it. “To give you better oral sex. I had years of waiting to make up for. Last night was only the first step of your sex education. I didn’t want to have my fun spoiled with an early-cummer.”

“You cocky son of... agh!”
Teo twisted his tongue around Adriel’s thick shaft, the jewel tickling in a very pleasurable way. His tongue was so long it could circle his cock twice and Adriel thought he would go crazy from pleasure and absolutely mad to have to hide it.

“Don’t even try,” Teo told him. “I’m tasting your precum and you’re sweating bullets. You’re about to explode in my mouth. Only pride still prevents you from doing it. Forget your pride if it’s an obstacle to pleasure. Just give in already. I will show you a paradise you can’t even imagine.”

No, he can’t, he couldn’t. Adriel wouldn’t climax in this vampire’s mouth, even if this Royal scumbag was making him go wild by tickling his urethra slit or by deepthroating him to the point his nose was touching his stomach. He was stronger than this.

“Your Grace,” Kleos groaned. “I’m…”

“You may,” Teo murmured, still locking eyes with Adriel from the place he was between his legs. “Go ahead.”

Even if the word wasn’t addressed to him, it was like the dam of his will had yielded and he shot his load in the welcoming throat of the Prince.

Too caught up in his afterglow, he didn’t even care about the victorious Royal smile.

“That was a neat job,” the Horus commented, soaking his own finger in the semen on his own dick. “All three of us came at the same time. This is a first for me, as well.”

Kleos was on his knees, with a punch-drunk smile, probably too jello-boned to stand up after having thrusted so long in the body he craved for for years.

“Are you waiting for your second reward, Commander?” the Prince asked.

Kleos nodded dopily and before Adriel could realize what was about to happen, Teo’s fangs were sunk in Kleos’s neck, pumping out his blood and just from Teo’s greedy face, Adriel knew he wouldn’t let go until his pet was entirely blood-drained.

“You fucking liar! You told me you wouldn’t kill him!” he shouted with rage and indignation. Kleos could have tricked him, the Commander had trained him with competence, even if he had acted on orders. But Kleos was a capable man and despite how he played Adriel, the Commander had been faithful to his beloved, even if he had probably foreseen that Teo would kill him. Kleos had accepted it, was maybe even bent enough in the mind to get off on the idea of being killed by his lord. All that Kleos did was out of love and so, in Adriel’s book, he wasn’t the one to blame if he was now tied to a chair. But the Prince was, who had so shamelessly lied, sucking the life out the man who watched over Adriel, Teo’s new toy, and even delivered him to the Horus. Adriel could have flaws, but he was an honest man. By betraying his word, the dark Prince had just crossed a line, making him the most contemptible object he had ever seen. Teo could be beautiful on the outside, but Adriel decided that there was nothing uglier than this soulless creature. Once the shiny layer was ripped away, the underside was such a chaos that you couldn’t stare at it.

The Sekhmet girl appeared in front of him, blocking Adriel‘s view. It was a blessing, since it wasn't something he wanted to witness, the Barge Ceremony being enough for a lifetime. But he could still hear the sucking noise and he yelled the worst curses he knew at the liar Prince.

When the bodyguard stepped aside, he could only see Teo on his knees, his hair making a curtain hiding his face. The Commander’s dead body was covered by a blanket and the bodyguard dragged it out of the cockpit.

“You fucking bloodsucker!” Adriel roared. “You dared to kill him despite your word! He loved you, you know? He served you diligently! He even had to train me and had sex with me to please you!”

“Love isn’t what I’m aiming for,” Teo murmured with a bone-chilling voice.

“Whatever you are aiming for, I’m not going to give it to you,” Adriel swore fiercely. “Kill me already. I want nothing to do with a monster like you.”

Teo looked up. His eyes were now white and startled by the unexpected vision, Adriel wondered if it wasn’t even more frightening than when they were black. But the Horus looked weaker than usual and was almost crawling as he reached Adriel. He climbed painfully to the chair Adriel was attached to and he smeared Adriel’s face with a sticky fluid. At the moment Adriel opened his mouth to protest that it had better to not be Teo’s jizz, the Prince sank two fingers coated in the same fluid in his mouth.

“Mine,” he declared in a an exhausted voice while Adriel tried to gag, revulsed by the claim as much as the taste. Teo was so full of venom that his cum must probably have been toxic too. “Bast will drive us back home. Sleep now. When you awake, you will be at your new home.”

Adriel couldn’t even fight the dark swallowing him and he fell asleep in his chair.

 

Chapter Text

When Adriel woke up, he remained disoriented for a moment, thinking he was back in his prison cell at the Pyramid. But the bed was soft like a cloud and a scent he had never smelled was perfuming the very sunny room. There was no sun in the Pyramid but it wasn’t his room at the Temple, either. The window ran the whole length of the room, but it was at ceiling-height and so three feet too high for Adriel to look outside, even if he stretched his arms to climb. Above it was a pole to slide a red curtain over if he wanted the room to be dark. But for now, it was enough to light the room and he took a look at his surroundings. The room was composed with some delicate pieces of furniture: two chairs, a table with a basket full of fruit on it, a storage chest, and an elegant cabinet. On the ceramic tiles of the floor was a luxurious carpet—so thick, with beautiful arabesque patterns— and pink walls, hand-painted graciously. He himself was lying in a bed wide enough for three adult men, with colored blankets and cushions in many colors and shapes and a golden frame. The headboard of the bed was a falcon with his wings folded like he was protecting the sleeper. The memory came back to him and he snatched away the blanket over him, already checking if there was an exit and as expected, there was a door, with a screened golden opening at waist-level, and another one, smaller, in plain painted wood. He didn’t even check if it was locked because of course it was. Adriel knew now what this room was and another look at himself, pulling up this unknown garnet-colored kilt, achieved making him blind with rage.

He was in the Horus’s harem and was wearing the same kind of chastity device that Mikelle had, but even worse. His cock was locked, enshrined in a golden pipe, surmounted by spikes and sharp blades, with an orifice for pissing. Adriel couldn’t even jerk off now without being cut. He quickly checked if he had a butt-plug lock but to his relief, he didn’t. But his hand rose to his neck, where he felt a faint discomfort and he turned even more livid with anger. A metal choker was around his neck like he was a fucking dog.

 How the fuck had all of this happened?

 Scattered images of what had occurred soon came back to him in his fury. The drugged night, the stolen key, the race to the aircraft, the fight against the undead lioness creature and then, him, the Prince. Him with that sinful, liar mouth of his, who drew pleasure from him to shamelessly betray his own word, leaving Kleos’s lifeless body without a care in the world. And then, this disgusting claim of ownership. With a tremor of disgust, Adriel rubbed his own facial skin, as if to erase any trace of the Prince on him. But it was too late now, he was trapped, pinned like a scarab with a needle. The Horus had won, dragging him to his palace and locking him up among all the other dolls he must have. He stared again, fuming at the room’s decoration, in hues of red, pink and gold, really suiting a female pet’s taste, and he wanted to howl. He would have rather preferred to return to the Pyramid than choking alive in a golden cell, treated as a precious lust object.

 And he was there because he had fallen in the Prince's trap, believing the promises of the fucker. Now, Kleos was dead, his use to the Horus's purpose over and Adriel was locked away.

Even if he knew it was useless, he jumped to the screened door and smashed his balled fist on it, yelling his lungs out.

 "I want to see that scumbag!" he roared, making the door trembling. "Bring the royal asshole here!”

Adriel twisted his neck to try to see if his ruckus was successful in bringing someone there and also to try to catch a glimpse of his new jail. He could only see what looked like an interior garden, decorated with palm trees and fancy benches around a pool. Surrounding this place, he could see some other screened doors and rage took him at the idea that from the pool, each door looked exactly the same and behind each of them must be locked a sex slave.

 Like he was supposed to be himself. Like Hell, he would.

Under the noise he was making, he heard nothing. The other secluded dolls sounded like they didn’t care about Adriel’s loud protests. He didn’t give a damn either and shouted even more crude curses about the Horus Crowned Prince that would be deserving of a death sentence usually.

Adriel heard steps and he braced himself to see Teo but he stopped on his track seeing the familiar face.

It was Machaon.

“Please, my friend. Stop it. All the guests have been brought for their beautician appointments. They can’t hear you.”

 Adriel didn’t listen, too astonished. Mixed feelings overwhelmed him. Relief to see the old man all right, confusion about the reason he was there and also, an angry suspicion. Did that mean Machaon had betrayed him too, when he talked to him about stolen aircraft to put this seed in Adriel’s mind in order to make him fall in the Prince’s trap?

“What are you doing here?” he growled. “So all this time you were one of his lap dogs?”

The old man made a soothing gesture.

“I wasn’t. I swear,” Machaon replied in a very low voice. “I never spoke with the Prince before. He gave me the choice to either stay in the Pyramid or serve you, here.”

“Serve me? What the fuck? I don’t need anything because I won’t stay here too long to begin with. I won’t stay to be the bitch of a true bitch!”

Adriel was already resolved to not stay there, even if he still had no plan. He preferred to die attempting to escape or by opposing Teo publicly and giving the Prince so much trouble, that the Prince would regret the day he had brought Adriel there.

 “You can’t escape and nothing you can do would make him renounce to you,” Machaon whispered like he had read Adriel’s mind. Their time in the same cell had brought them very close and so Adriel wasn’t surprised about how quickly the old man had guessed his intentions. “The security here is even greater than in the Pyramid. The Prince doesn’t have to hold back in his harem.”

 Adriel snorted. Like Teo was holding back on the barge where he fucked a corpse.

“Whatever you say, old man. If you have accepted his deal, I want nothing to do with you. Now, bring me that bastard here!”

 “He gave me the choice because he said I got along with you and he didn’t want you to get bored or worse…” he explained.

 “When did he ask you that?” Adriel asked sharply.

“A few hours after he put you in the Seth Hole, my friend. I was deeply worried for you, but he said that he had other plans for you than to let you die or go crazy. He said we would see each other again in a few weeks in this harem. I admit even if I knew the Prince’s reputation of cleverness, I’m surprised to see how accurate he had been with you.”

Adriel didn’t answer, but he slammed the wall twice in rage. His humiliation was complete.

 “Can I come in? Promise me you won’t try to shove me and run. It would only lead to punishment for both of us. I can’t give you a full explanation in the harem hall. We are alone for now, but the Eunuch in Chief could wander here and there and sneak up on us.”

Before Adriel even gave any kind of agreement, the door opened and the old man quickly came in. Adriel hadn’t even the time to see how the door had been unlocked. Machaon sat on one of the two chairs with a tired expression.

 “I will be honest with you,” Machaon continued. “I’m not sure if I fully understand the Horus’s agenda about you, but if he wanted to do bad things to you, you would be dead already. If he had asked me to participate in some dark scheme I would have refused. At my age, dying is not a big deal. But he didn’t propose anything more than taking care of you, here. In my concern for you and also in order to leave the Pyramid, I accepted his offer. I even accepted paying the price to enter this place.”

“The price?” Adriel snapped. “Whatever it was, you have been fooled. I have no intention of playing the Royal’s games.”

“I have been castrated. No man with his reproductive parts may enter the harem,” Machaon said, in such a serious voice that Adriel stayed gaping at the statement. “I accepted this because I would be more useful without a penis than with it.” Adriel couldn’t help but stare at the groin region of the former prisoner even if he couldn’t see the lack of cock through the white folds of the old man’s robe. It was crazy. Why had Machaon accepted this?

 “I won’t ever have a lover,” Machaon explained in a mournful murmur. “But for you, there are many possibilities. The same as before, if you learn patience,” he concluded in an even lower whisper.

Adriel shook his head, refusing to listen. Kleos had made him learn him the hard way. He couldn’t trust anybody. All of them were only Teo’s lackeys.

“Whatever the shit you say, I won’t listen to it!” he barked. “I want the motherfuckering Horus and I want to see him now!”

“The Prince is busy during the day,” Machaon replied. “He has kingdom duties to fulfill.”

“Pfff! No shit? Kingdom duties?” Adriel snarled. “He wasn’t that busy when he was waiting for me in the cockpit while he was getting his ass fucked by…”

“Watch your mouth!” Machaon begged with such panicked eyes that Adriel obeyed despite himself. He never saw his former cellmate in such a frenzy. “That never happened. You are only badmouthing the Prince because you’re angry he caught you,” the old man insisted, his gaze pleading Adriel to play along with this lie. “That isn’t important, since the Horus came to like this fighting spirit of yours.”

“I don’t care what he likes. He can kiss my ass,” Adriel replied but with less fire in the voice. If Machaon was so insistent, it must be serious. So far, Machaon had been a good teacher to him, but hadn’t Kleos been a good teacher too? They both trained and educated him, only for Adriel to discover they were working for the Horus in the end. What was Teo’s goal by putting so much care into tormenting Adriel? Whatever it was, he had no intention of playing by the Prince’s rules but he wasn’t dumb enough to act too recklessly without having figured out his situation more carefully. Besides, Teo was reading his mind or something close; whatever he pretended it was, Adriel was too predictable, so he needed to be extra careful if he wanted to escape this place. Moreover, wherever Machaon stood, Adriel didn’t want the old man ending up killed. Machaon had been mandated by the Horus to watch over him. If Adriel ran away alone, while he was under his care, the Prince would vent his anger on Machaon. Adriel needed to make sure he wouldn’t be caught in the blast radius.

The old man must have sensed Adriel had calmed down a bit because he continued his explanations, in a soft voice.

 “Like I told you, the Horus Crowned Prince is away, for now, but he could attend the evening feast in the male harem. We have been warned about it. If you promise to be calm, I will introduce you to the harem staff, show you around and explain the daily schedule and the harem protocol to you. You need to visit the beautician soon. It’s already past 3:30. You’ve been here, out cold, for about four hours.”

 At least, this indication helped him to get his sense of time back on track. The moment he had fallen unconscious, the bodyguard had driven them back and Teo’s first task had been to lock him up and to also lock up his junk.

“I’m not doing anything if I don’t get these removed!” Adriel spat, aggressively showing off the choker and the chastity device. “And even with that, I won’t get groomed for this jerk!”

“Alas, my friend, that is impossible,” Machaon told him. “Consider yourself lucky to not have your rear hole locked and only your manhood. The Prince had said you were too manly and wild for the other harem guests to even try to touch you and that if you were unwilling to submit to him you wouldn’t submit to anybody.”

 “That smug bastard,” Adriel muttered, while pacing, fuming. He needed to hit something, to blow off some steam, but he didn’t want to punch Machaon and hitting the wall was unsatisfying.

“The others have both their front and behind protected,” Machaon continued to explain, like he was talking to a child. “That way no one can have any kind of relief without the Prince’s permission. They only have them removed twice a day, to bathe and for restroom use.”

How the others could accept such control over their bodies was beyond Adriel’s understanding but too bad for them. He wasn’t that docile.

 “The collar is for a disciplinary purpose,” Machaon sighed. “You know what is electricity, right? I taught you about that. With a wireless remote, any discipliner could shock you. There are three levels. Level one is a warning, only. It will be like a pinch. A sharp pain, but it will quickly fade away. The second level will make you paralyzed for a moment and you are likely to get burns. And the third level will make you drop dead after one minute. As you supposed, yelling as you did just before should get you a second level shock. The discipliner couldn’t use third-level shock on you without the Prince’s consent, but be aware there is a limit your heart can take of second-level warning.”

 Cold sweat was running down Adriel’s back. The collar already felt like it was burning him, but he still struggled to keep a neutral face. Showing feelings allowed weakness to be spotted and showing weakness was the surest way to let this Royal sucker win.

“There are also other discipline methods, like the whip or the Sekhmet Hole.”

The last one sounded especially horrifying, judging by Machaon’s expression, but Adriel supposed it was like the Seth one. He had already survived that, he told himself, even if the memory of it made his chest burn from suffocation. He could survive any hole if he was caught running away.

“So, I need to misbehave out of sight,” Adriel grunted, even if he knew it wasn’t that simple. “When watchmen like you are sleeping. It’s no biggy.”

Machaon shook his head.

“When I am sleeping, something much worse than me will be awake,” he warned. “Bast is guarding the harem and she releases her leopards. I don’t know their number, but I think they are around thirty. They wander the harem. Permitting you can pick the lock of this door, they will jump and eat alive anyone walking out of a cell.”

 Adriel paled hearing the name of Teo’s bodyguard. It brought back dreadful, but also shameful memories. Bast had sent his ass to the ground in one minute flat and then, Adriel had let himself be fooled, seduced, and sucked off by Teo, and this creature had witnessed it.

The leopards were also bad news. Adriel had never dealt with any of them but he knew they were dangerous predators. It was indeed true that the girl was a from the Sekhmet tribe, before being an undead, since she could control felines and even shapeshift into them according to the tales Adriel heard in his youth.

 “The Horus even has a new guardian now. An undead like the lioness-girl. One will stay by the Prince’s side while the other will watch here with a remote. Those undeads are one with their creator. They are bound to his soul and it makes another pair of eyes for the Horus to keep his harem in check. I suspect you are the reason for this extra security, since no one so far looked to make trouble. The Prince seems to care about you in a very special way,” Machaon added, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.” I don’t know the full story but he did free me only to make your life here more pleasant and to be sure your eunuch would care for you genuinely.”

“He only wants a new plaything, that’s all. Don’t get carried away. I’m sorry you lost your dick in the deal but...” Adriel denied fiercely. He didn’t want to hear any of this. It made him remember Teo’s soft kiss in the Temple’s garden and also, the one in the cockpit, when the Prince had brushed their lips together and that he had been so careful with his nails guards. Such disturbing and forbidden memories would lead to another heartbreak. He had been fool enough already.

“He may love you,” Machaon continued softly. “All the harem guests are aiming for the position as the Horus’s main lover and their eunuchs work for that. He never had any favorites so far, but I will bet all I have on you being the most likely to be. There’s something about you that the Prince can’t get enough of. Something that the others are lacking, no matter how seductive they try to be and how cunning their eunuchs’ schemes are.”

Adriel’s brain stayed shocked a moment, his mind blown away by Machaon’s bold statement. Teo loving him? Why was he listening to him, again?

 “I should know you’ve got a screw loose since this so-called romance you had with a Lumen,” Adriel snapped after twenty seconds being speechless. “Don’t imagine any other fucked-up love story. Get real!”

“Tell me, even if I agree Royals aren’t humans, what is the difference, you think, between Lumens and humans? Did I never tell you about Machiavel? I could see the Horus as a new Caesar Borgia...”

 The name meant nothing to Adriel, but he couldn't ask. The noise of a loud step coming near shut up the old man and an enormous figure appeared in the screened door and Adriel forgot about the conversation, busy studying the person. It was something roughly like a man, Adriel guessed despite the too-bright colors the newcomer was wearing. He was bald and the fattest person Adriel had ever met, with only slits as eyes, lost in the chubby face but also very greedy lips, painted like his face, like female whores had. It gave him a cunning, masked expression that awoke Adriel’s mistrust immediately.

“Machaon, what are you doing in the new guest’s cell?” the newcomer asked in an expressionless voice that gave Adriel the chills. Even the voice wasn’t either male or female.

“Eunuch in Chief,” Machon exclaimed with a bow. “The new guest had been attributed to me, as you know. He was making a ruckus because he was confused. I took it on myself to calm him and explain things to him,” the old man said obediently.

The display of obedience didn't touch the colorful eunuch in chief.

“If that’s so you should know that his beautician is waiting. You are late on the schedule. Should I call the discipliner?”

“Who are you thinking you will discipline, you dickless clown?”

Adriel knew that it was more Machaon than him that had been threatened but being called ‘new harem guest’ was rubbing him the wrong way. Moreover, Machaon shouldn’t have to be blamed because of his rebellious attitude.

The eunuch in chief looked like he was choking with indignation and Adriel pushed the advantage. He needed to set the boundaries clear immediately. “No need to treat me as a guest either. I have been drugged and abducted by that sneaky bitch. I won’t doll up for him, either. Let him his golden powder. He can shove it up his ass.”

The eunuch paled, his hand on his boobs, looking like he was about to have a stroke and Adriel sneered. Now, this fatty would know who he was dealing with and would let Machaon manage Adriel’s troublesome person.

“Are you referring to the glorious son, the Horus Crowned Prince, Master of the Rising Sun Palace?” he stammered, looking around him with scared glances.

 “Yes. I mean exactly him. But your forget his main title: The Bitch Queen.”

The Eunuch in Chief turned livid and was about to bolt, looking for this ‘Discipliner’, Adriel supposed, when Machaon decided to intervene.

“Adriel is new and had been dragged here, drugged by the Prince’s venom. He is angry because he is confused by his new environment, like I told you,” he pleaded. “He needs to get used to his new home. You yourself, when you had entered here, probably needed time to accept that you wouldn’t ever see your family again. Adriel has his freedom to mourn. Besides, the Horus has been very clear about him. This one is to be treated differently. If you punish him right away, the Prince would be mad and you would have your head sliced off more quickly than your genitals were.”

 This seemed to do a number on the chubby eunuch. Indeed, Adriel knew instinctively that it was right. Teo would be pissed if Adriel got hurt without him being there to get off on his suffering.

“He barely awoke ten minutes ago,” Machaon continued. “I know his beautician is waiting for him, but I thought that giving him some explanation beforehand…”

 The Eunuch in Chief made a sharp move with his hand.

“I’m Ipy, Eunuch in chief over the Horus’s male harem for almost twenty years,” he said pompously and Adriel frowned at this. Teo was around his age. Did that mean the Horus had a harem even when he was still in his Royal mother’s womb? It was insane, but Adriel would not even have been surprised if it was true. After all, Kleos had told him about Teo being older than him despite the appearances, ten years ago. “Let me explain the rules to you. I will do it once. There is no wake-up hour, but breakfast will be served in your bedroom between seven and nine a.m. You have this bell that you can ring to say you want your breakfast but it will not be served after 9:00. Then, the eunuch bound to you will unlock your door. You are free to do as you wish, either train in the gymnasium, study in the library, walk in the court or play chess in the common space, the atrium. Your eunuch will follow you, of course,” he said with a mischievous grin. “At noon, you have lunch, served in the atrium. Then, you can do as you wish until 3:30 p.m. Each day you have to be massaged, shaved, oiled and groomed to please the Horus’s eyes. It takes about two hours. The dinner is served at…”

“Never!” Adriel roared. “I won’t doll up for him!”

The eunuch uttered a disapproving sound.

“His Grace, the mighty Horus, shows up around 7:00 p.m., toward the end of dinner,” he continued, his voice clipped, acting like Adriel hadn’t spoken his mind ten second ago. “His harem servants will then show their pleasure they have to see him and entertain him until curfew at 11:00 p.m. This is the moment the Prince can make his choice of his night’s partner and this is the reason each day you must be prepared in the unlikely event the Horus Crowned Prince has the taste for a wild, rude human,” he concluded, his contempt obvious on his painted face.

 “I already told you,” Adriel growled, not giving a damn about Machaon’s desperate looks to make him shut up. “I’m not like the others. I won’t do shit for him because I don’t want anything to do with the evil monster. Just try and force me,” he taunted, raising high his chin, in a challenging gesture. “But I bet you will stay cowardly on the other side of the door.”

 “Evil monster? The Prince?” he repeated like Adriel was a nutcase. “Be assured I won’t dirty my hands with you,” Ipy retorted, obviously unpleased. “My job here is to watch the harem staff. If any of the guests or the eunuchs or beauticians misbehave, I only have to call the discipliner. The Prince granted me extra help with the new harem Commander. When I’m busy, he will take turn as watch, by day and night, since undead doesn’t need sleep and he can discipline troublemakers on the spot, without referring to the discipliner. So, my main duty is now to lead the chosen one to his Grace’s bed. Let’s say that it means I will be lucky enough to not to have to deal with you.”

Adriel snorted.

“What I understood from your ranting is that your Prince was so unsatisfied with your work that he decided he would be better served with a zombie instead of you and this so-called discipliner,” Adriel mocked. He had the great satisfaction of seeing the eunuch in chief flustered with anger. But Ipy tried to stay professional.

“If you say so,” he muttered, “but the issue is that you have to follow your eunuch, Machaon, to the bath. It’s late, but we can still skip the massage and get you at least washed, shaved and oiled with perfumes. Your beautician is supposed to choose one according to your personality, because each guest must smell different. I hope he hasn’t run out of jackal shit.”

Adriel bolted to the door and spat straight in Ipy’s face.

“It might be true I’m short-tempered,” he snarled, “but I don’t do brown-nosing. And I told you already, I won’t leave this room. Call your zombie already. You will have to drag my dead body out of here.”

He turned around to open the wooden door to find not a tube like in the Pyramid but a white, porcelain seat. Adriel has never seen that but its use was easy to guess. There was also a shower head and a sink. So, he could wash, piss, shit, and have water. He would probably die from hunger when the fruit basket was emptied, but it was better than being led by this fatass to the Horus’s bedroom like a lamb to a sacrificial stone.

 Ipy wiped his face of the spit, livid.

“The Prince will hear about this,” he growled. “There is another new guest that I just led to the beautician. He is gracious and handsome. I bet he will be chosen by the Prince while you are rotting in Sekhmet Hole.”

Adriel narrowed his eyes.

“That is exactly what I want.”

****

Machaon had followed a few minutes later, ordered by the Eunuch in Chief to follow him for ‘paperwork’ and Adriel was worried the old man got a beating for having stood up for him too much. But before leaving, Machaon had given him a serious look.

“Think about what we were speaking about,” he said, but Adriel wasn’t sure about what Machaon meant by this. “Also, you may be locked in here, but have you not been locked up all your life? In the human hood, in the Pyramid, in the barracks? This is less a cell that it looks to be. Most of the day, you are free to wander in the harem. You can even go outside in the court. You can study, you can train and you don’t have to worry about any vital need. You could even make friends, but this is a very hard, competitive world here. Maybe you will find the motivation to stay in this.”

Adriel didn’t even answer, but he glanced to how the door worked. It looked oddly simple; Machaon had only pressed the tip of his finger in the center of the knob. Then, he was left alone. Ransacking his room had been his first idea, but it would be a waste of energy and maybe Machaon would be the one paying the price.

Still dizzy from the venom and remembering with disgust what the Prince used to drug him, he drank some tap water from the sink and took a shower, using the horsehair brush to clean himself raw. Back in the bedroom, he took an apple. Even if he knew the fruit, it was one he had never tasted and with a little anticipation, he took a bite. Adriel knew the Prince wouldn’t poison him and so, he ate the apple until he bit into some seeds inside. It had been deliciously fresh, with a subtle sweet-tart taste and he lay down, despite still being hungry. He had no idea how long he would be there and so, he needed to make the fruit last a few days.

 From his point of view, he couldn’t see enough of the sun to know what hour it was. But from what he had understood, he had less than three hours before Teo came visit his harem. Now, Adriel knew the damn vampire enough to be sure the Prince would made a beeline to his room to taunt him. He only had to brace himself against his mockery and he worked his brain hard to find any witty reply he could to the Prince’s merciless teasing.

 He was there, laying on the bed for maybe one hour when he appeared.

 “I should have guessed you would stay sulking in your room,” Teo said idly, but from a slight hitch in his voice and the movement of the pectoral collar he could tell the Horus had rushed to see him. The idea gave the new harem prisoner mixed feelings, but he drowned them away.

“I’m not sulking,” he protested, but even at his own ears, he was sounding like a child. Where were all the sassy retorts he had prepared? “I just don’t want your filthy hands on me anymore.”

“Such an ungrateful kid you are. May I remind you these filthy hands made you cum?” he teased, showing his hands still wearing nail-guards, but shorter ones. “But I admit I’m surprised. I wouldn’t have guessed you would admit so straightforwardly that you are actually afraid of me.”

 Adriel knew it was only mockery, to work him up, but he took the bait anyway, livid at the idea the Prince thought he was scared.

“I’m not afraid of you! Just disgusted because you are a monster!” he snapped. “I won’t have sex with a bloodsucker. Just try to rape me!” he threatened, showing his fist. “I will bash your skull until that evil brain of yours pops out!”

 Teo’s face stayed smooth.

 “Well, you don’t have to look at me if you think I’m so disgusting and if you are concerned about your chastity, I can swear to you I won’t choose you as a bed partner until you beg me for it.”

 Adriel snorted derisively at this.

 “Your promises mean less than jackal shit! You told me you wouldn’t kill Kleos, but still sucked his life out of his body!” he growled, still incensed at the memory.

Teo made a smirk.

 “Does that mean that if I hadn’t sucked the life out of your General’s body, you would come out of this room?”

“You’d still be a monster, but at least a little more honorable one,” Adriel snarled.

 Teo stepped aside and turned to gesture someone to approach and Adriel’s breath caught in his throat. Next to Teo was Kleos, or rather, Kleos body. The Commander was standing with a Golden Anubis mask on his face, covering the upper part of his face and his nose, but not the mouth, like the female bodyguard. But he was still very recognizable. Only his skin had taken a greenish hue and his eyes were now shining between the slits of the mask with some mahogany gleam.

“He was my most loyal dog,” Teo explained. “Moreover, I only granted his wish and honor my part of the deal. He wanted to be one with me, forever.”

Adriel was hardly stomaching the shocking news. It was indeed true that Teo could make undead and the female bodyguard had probably hidden the scene for Adriel to don’t know how he did it. But what he knew was that from what he knew of Kleos, it was probably true and he had asked this favor of the Prince, in exchange for luring Adriel. The Commander had loved his Horus that badly.

“Each creation of undead puts a strain on my body, but I accepted it to keep my word to him and you.”

Adriel remembered that indeed, Teo had looked weak right afterward, to the point that if he hadn’t been tied up, he could have overpowered him easily.

“So you see? Now, you know I keep my promises and so, you can leave this room without being afraid I’ll jump you. If you stay there, it’s only because your jealousy doesn’t allow you to see me with others,” he sneered and Adriel tightened his jaws, furious to have fallen in the trap of the Horus again. The scene of the cockpit had mostly been orchestrated to let Adriel think Kleos was dead to use it as manipulation material later.

“Also, you don’t need to be shy,” Teo continued, looking very pleased with himself, the bastard. “There is another new guest in my harem. I know you will get along, because I think you may know him. His past owner died in such shady circumstances and, well, since he was cute, I decided it was a waste to let him die. You know how generous I am, to set murderers free from death row and make them into my pets.”Teo explained, pointing to an unmoving Kleos, but Adriel was even more still. He knew what the Horus, this evil puppet master would say and what this meant about this dead owner. “I’m sure you have a lot to learn from him, but for that, you have to get ready and attend dinner. His name is Mikelle, please try to get along,” Teo said carelessly before turning his back and leaving, probably knowing he had hit dead center and that Adriel would rush to this dinner.

But he stayed a moment, as lifeless as Kleos burning holes in him from the other side of the screened door. His father was dead. He might not have had a warm relationship with the man, but it was still a shock. But how? His father was old, but healthy the last time he saw him. Who killed him? Mikelle, because he wanted to inherit the place and have a more attractive owner? Or did Mikelle kill his father, so foolishly in love with him, ordered by Teo, only to fucking force Adriel out of his lair and he had been rewarded for his crime with a place in this harem? Everything Mikelle had aimed for, fancy clothes, jewels and meals and a gorgeous lover were waiting for him in this place, so Mikelle’s advantage was here, but what was Teo’s goal? The Horus could be evil, ending an old man only to make Adriel leave his room was too exaggerated, even for the dark Prince. Teo was clever enough to think of something else so maybe the pet did it for himself and the Prince learned of it, since he had to sign each death sentence and decided to use it as a tool to move Adriel’s stubborn ass.

From what he knew from both of them, it was the most likely option, but he couldn’t be sure. But what he knew what that the culprit of it would pay tenfold for the death of his father for whose only crimes had been petty ambition and a silly lust for a too-young boy.

 Adriel clenched his fists and bit his lip to draw blood. To have answers to his questions and before the Prince used Machaon as blackmail or any other dark means, he had to attend the harem dinner. He stood up and the Harem Commander opened the door.

 

 

Chapter Text

He wasn’t submitting, Adriel swore to himself. But it wasn’t like the other option was any better. It was either he stayed in his room and Teo would be convinced he did because he was jealous or he made a man of himself and walked into the harem. The Prince had told him he wouldn’t touch him and even if Adriel was sure that the vampire was only a lying snake and that he should know better than to believe him, Adriel guessed that, indeed, for Teo it would be more fun if Adriel begged for a fuck. As if he would do that, he snorted. It was fine for the love-struck, like Kleos had been, Adriel decided, walking behind the undead who had once been his general. In fact, the more honorable option for him was to walk out of his room like he was unbothered. He couldn’t find a way to escape if he didn’t take a look around the place. And also, leaving his room meant he would know what happened to his father. He gritted his teeth at the idea of seeing that son of a bitch Mikelle again. He knew that pet was worse than scum and he felt bad to not have done enough to prevent his father giving too much trust to the pet.

It was a strange feeling to think that the man he called a father was now dead. Even if he never had any warm feelings for the high priest, he felt a dull pain in his chest. Adriel guessed it was because it was so unfair. His father had been fooled by love and lust, as he had been himself. Only Adriel didn’t end up killed because Teo found it more fun to play his cruel mind games with a living toy. He clenched his fists in rage. For his father, for himself and even for that crazy Kleos, Adriel would get retribution, on Mikelle and on Teo. Revenge on Mikelle wouldn’t be hard. The minute he saw the pet, Adriel would smash his fist in his flirtatious face. The Horus would be the harder to get revenge on. Adriel could hate him deeply, but he had to admit that the Prince was probably the cunningest person he ever met and Teo had a way of crawling under his skin like no one else. But in the harem, he would be closer to the Prince and maybe discover a weakness in him. Thinking about seeing the Prince every day made him feel weird. He kind of hoped that if he would see the Prince daily, he would get used to his beauty and then, be unbothered by it and able to keep a cool head. A cool head was mandatory to escape. If he managed to run away, Adriel supposed it was enough of a retaliation. The Prince would be deeply humiliated. But to get there, he needed to be patient, like Machaon had told him.

Adriel had been too caught up in his own thoughts to look around. They were walking in a dark and narrow hall, far from the luxury he thought he would find in the palace and from what he had seen from the screened door. He guessed it was a ‘behind the scenes’ passageway, for Teo to never walk in on an ungroomed sex slave, used mostly by the eunuchs.

Could Kleos still talk, Adriel wondered? This silence was unnerving and he had so many questions. He also wanted to avoid thinking about what he was doing because even if his reasons were excellent, it still sounded wrong to him to act like a pleasure slave.

“Was it worth it?” Adriel asked the Harem Commander walking in front of him. “You get off once with him and then you hand over your soul to him?” he snarled, still mad. He could get that love was an exalting feeling, even if he didn’t feel it more than one hour in his life, but still, it looked to Adriel a very harsh—and dumb—way to prove his love to someone. Moreover for the Prince, the worst being in the damn kingdom. “I’m pretty sure there were other nice Lumens’ asses to tap in this damn city! From actually good people, not an evil monster. They would have been content with your cock, you know? They would not have taken your freaking life!”

Kleos didn’t even look like he heard but at the end of the hall, Machaon was waiting, obviously fidgety. Adriel bit his lip. Even if it was nice to see a familiar figure, Machaon’s presence meant that Teo had told him to wait for Adriel there, meaning Teo knew Adriel would yield. His wounded pride made him almost turn his back and make a beeline to his cell, but to return to his room, permitting Kleos would let him, wouldn’t bring him anything except a quick-lived satisfaction.

“I was waiting for you,” Machaon said. “We don’t have much time. The Prince arrived earlier than usual,” he trailed off, sharing a glance with Adriel before motioning him to follow.

They entered a room filled with scent and steam coming from a tub. A massage table with rolled white towels was in the middle in the room and jars against the wall. Two men wearing only loincloths were waiting and Adriel supposed they were the beautician and his assistant.

“I’m Pentou, your beautician,” the oldest man said, after a deep bow, like Adriel had never seen. “Dinner is about to be served. You have only time for body sugaring and to be rubbed with perfumed oil,” he continued holding respectfully a jar. "I heard about you and made this with the indications your eunuch gave to me. I used blood orange, lemon, blue lotus, myrtle, and cinnamon. I hope both the Horus and you will find the odor pleasant at the time of physical love," he said eagerly and motioned Adriel to take place on the bed.

"There will be no such a thing as physical love between us!" Adriel snapped. "It's pointless to groom me up!"

Even if it was to be expected, Adriel stood his ground. He would attend dinner to hear the truth about his father’s death, to know more about the Harem’s possible ways to escape and to make sure Teo know he wasn’t ‘jealous’ of any sex slaves.

“That bastard wanted me to eat at his table, but I won’t indulge him in more fantasies. I already have showered, it should be enough!”

"But the Horus insisted you be oiled!" Petou insisted distraughtly. He had never dealt with such a stubborn harem guest obviously. "He told us to skip the body sugaring today if you were blowing a fuse, but you need the performed oil. His Grace has a sensitive nose and…"

"He can smell the others' asses!" Adriel growled.

But he had just uttered his words when an unpleasant tingle ran through his spine and his knee buckled. Out of instinct, he reached to his collar.

"Shit!"

Kleos was the one having turned on the remote to shock him like a misbehaving dog.

Adriel leaned over the massage bed, bracing himself on his arms. It was probably the level one warning, he thought, like Machaon had told him of before.

The tickle faded away but it was like the memory of it was imprinted in his bones, still making him weak. He was still in a daze when a hard chest crushed him down on the bed, while twisting his arm. The muscle from his shoulder twitched painfully at each of his attempts to disengage but it was like Kleos was made of stone.

“Be reasonable,” Machaon pleaded over the scared murmurs from the other men present. “This is just perfumed oil. It won’t hurt you and it’s not humiliating. They will only rub it on you. It will feel good and you will smell nice while eating a lavish dinner. This is a luxury many humans could only dream of.”

The pressure the harem Commander put on his back was unbearable, threatening to snap his shoulder at any moment. It was just perfume. Adriel repeated the words of Machaon. It wouldn’t hurt, far less than Kleos’s hold, but whatever the eunuch could say, Adriel felt his blood boiling at the idea of Teo’s smug face when he saw him shiny from the oil.

A trembling wet hand stroked the twisted bicep and Adriel snarled.

"My friend, bear with it, " Machaon said again. "I warned you. Your body can’t take too much shocking. This isn't something worthy to fight for. A wise warrior chooses his battles."

Adriel twisted his neck to look up at the old man. He knew what Machaon meant and he was right. He should keep his energy for the real incoming fights.

He squared his jaw and swore to himself that one day, Teo would pay for it tenfold. After a moment, Kleos released his hold to let the beautician and his assistant do their job.

It wasn't that bad, Adriel admitted. The hands massaging him were skilled and he had never realized before now that his back muscles were actually stiff.

The perfume’s scent was strong but not at all girly and so it's wasn't that bad. As Machaon had said, it wasn't something worth fighting over. Whether he liked it or not, he was one of the sex slaves and so it was to be expected that he woud be treated like one. Even if the thought of it made him howl internally.

"Are you done?" he groaned. They were now rubbing his calves and Adriel considered he had been patient enough. "Your damn Prince won't touch me anyway."

He didn't add that he knew that because Teo had promised him. He would look foolish to believe in Horus's word. The beautician looked bewildered.

"You are a little unpolished," Pentou admitted. "We are running out of time, but tomorrow I can make you look good. Despite looking too old and, well, a little rough, you have potential. I can shave you and…"

"No shaving." He didn't comment about the fact about being called old when Teo was obviously older despite his smooth skin. It was indeed true that the last two years, most of them in jail, had been like ten on him. "I don't care about looking unpolished.”

"Are you not looking forward to being chosen as a bed servant?” Pentou asked in bewilderment. “Every harem guest does. In addition to his attractive face and body and also the honor to be his, the Prince is an exceptional lover, I hear. Each hopes to steal his heart and be his favorite, even if, so far, the Prince never showed any preference."

“I don’t give a fuck,” Adriel hissed and he had a moment of satisfaction to see how shocked the beautician was. “And I don’t look too rough or too old. Your Prince is the one looking unmanly!"

“How can such a tramp have entered this place?!” Pentou cried, indignant.

"Adriel is different,” Machaon interrupted, trying to soothe the spirits. “Don't forget he had been chosen by the Horus Crowned Prince himself," Machaon explained sharply and Adriel was surprised about how riled up his former cellmate was. “Critiquing Adriel is critiquing the Prince’s taste. This is a crime.”

“I heard another guest had been chosen by the Prince the same day. It happens much more than you think, newbie eunuch,” Pentou’s assistant said, to avenge his master. “He has long blond hair and he is gracious like fairies were in ancient human books. It was a wise pick.”

“A fairy hiding a knife behind his back, waiting for the best moment to slice a throat,” Adriel sneered, thinking about Mikelle’s saccharine smiles. “He is kind of a good match for your Prince, thus. They are both sneaky, murderous bitches.”

Kleos slammed his head hard and its reminded Adriel of the time in the Pyramid where he got his nose almost broken. The Commander’s hand was pressing him down on the mattress to prevent him from talking. Did that mean there was still something from the past Kleos in him?

“This is a mistake,” Pentou exclaimed, and by his voice, Adriel could tell how much the beautician was upset. “This person has been brought here by mistake. He couldn’t be an Horus’s bed servant. I bet his blood isn’t even good enough to serve for the royal wine! He must taste foul!” he grunted with frustration. “I even wasted such precious ingredients to make him smell good!”

“There no mistake,” Machaon stated firmly. “The Horus walked out of his palace for my guest and he picked him up by himself. I was there when they came back. Bast was carrying him, walking next to the Horus,” Machaon insisted and Adriel heard others in the room gasp in shocked admiration. Adriel couldn’t help but think smugly of how much further than just walking Teo had gone to catch him and he felt something warm up in his chest. “The Prince used even venom to get him and you know how precious the substance is. This is a huge difference, I’m sure of it. He isn’t treated the same, either. His hole is free and he is to be disciplined by the Commander or the Prince himself only. You had been chosen to be his beautician because you are the most skilled. The Horus has given you honor by choosing you to give beauty treatments for this guest. Picture him like he is a raw diamond and you are the jeweler having to make him shine.”

Adriel had rather preferred to have his ears covered than his mouth. Being spoken about like he was one of the other harem dolls was hurting his sensitive pride. Even if what Machaon was insisting about that he was different. It was surprising about how well-informed the old man seemed to be and Adriel wondered again to which side Machaon was the more loyal: Teo’s or his.

“Well for now, I can’t do more for him,” Pentou replied more patiently. “He refuses to be shaved and have body sugaring and even if he was agreeable, we are running out of time. I take pride in my work. Understand, eunuch, that it’s a shame for me to let a guest walk in front of the Horus’s eye so neglected. The Prince could have all our heads for that, too. You don’t know him as I do. He is unforgiving when he thinks he is poorly served.”

“I don’t think the Horus picked this one to make him look groomed like a fancy doll, but if it can reassure you, I will take the blame if the Prince is unsatisfied with him.”

“I don’t have the time to mark him with the henna, either,” Pentou said mournfully. “Guests have to be marked to show their purity.”

“It will be fine. Think of it, beautician. Would you dare put your hands on him?” he waited for an answer that Adriel supposed was a fierce denial. “This is the same reason he doesn’t wear the same device that the others do. No one would dare to, and he is not the kind to accept anybody, anyway,” Machaon retorted. “Being late would much more anger the Prince, thus. So let’s say we are done. Just oil his chest, too.”

With a iron grip on his curly hair, Kleos lifted his head and Adriel barely held back a hiss of pain. In a hurry, Pentou smeared his chest with the perfume and the thick scent made Adriel dizzy. It was that damn plant, the blue lotus, he supposed. The same he had drank when he had drugged sex with Kleos. It seemed in another life how blurred the memory was and it was the day before.

When the beautician was done, Adriel was dragged out by Kleos and led through another hall. The place was a maze, Adriel noted, trying to remember the path.

They arrived in front of a thick curtain but at the moment that the Commander was about to pull it open, Machaon held Adriel back.

“Let me give you some pointers. I will lead you to a place at the table. You can’t move from there without the Prince’s permission. His bed table is on an elevated platform between the table and the pool, his bodyguard by his side. All the eunuchs, the Discipliner and now, the Commander are around the dining room to check the place. If you need to take a piss or feel sick, you have a bell on your table. I will come assist you. After the meal, guests can bathe or dance or play music or games or just chat. If the Horus gives his agreement you can even join him on his couch to play with your bodies, but I guess you don’t intend to do that.”

“You guessed right,” Adriel mumbled, but at the same moment he felt a rumble in his stomach. He was hungry and thirsty. It was this damn perfume. It was making his mouth feel dry. He would eat and drink and have a ‘chat’ with Mikelle. He was sure it was the same Mikelle he knew. First, the description was too similar and there were so few people with long blond hair. Second, his guts were screaming it to him. Teo would not have that cocky grin for nothing. It was the smirk of someone having hit the bullseye.

“You can talk to the other guests during the meal but you can’t address the Horus if he doesn’t do so first.”

“I have no intention to even look at his ugly mug,” Adriel snapped. “Can we fucking go, now? I just want this day to be over already.”

Machaon sighed and Kleos pulled the curtain.

It was the same room that he could see from the screened door of his room. A wide, well-lighted room with a glass dome as a ceiling. It was compensating for the lack of windows since the Horus looked to protect his privacy. A long bench covered with cushions surrounded a table. The dishes had already been brought to the table and the others guests were already eating. But the first thing Adriel saw was the Horus sprawled on a couch with a golden frame and garnet cushions on a platform three feet above the marble floor. Teo was looking toward them and Adriel took the opportunity to stare. The Horus was wearing only chains of gold and jewels and his nailguards were holding a long, narrow gold pipe. The Prince was smoking and Adriel recognized the same notes filling the room as his own perfume. Shiny through a cloud of smoke, Teo looked like a divinity reigning over mere commoners even if each guest would have been a stunning man outside the palace, Adriel guessed. When he felt the Prince’s head move toward the newcomers, Adriel looked away stubbornly, staring at Kleos’s back.

The Commander stopped in front of an empty place at the middle of the table, just in front of the royal gaze.

Adriel refused to give Teo the pleasure of blowing a fuse about it and sat like he was unbothered, reaching for some food immediately and filling his plate, his face neutral. Some music was playing and it reminded him of his last dinner at the Temple. The memory made him think of Mikelle and he searched for a blond-haired head. Mikelle wasn’t the only blond in the harem since his father’s pet was the third he saw. It was indeed him. His long hair had been combed into a thick side-braid and like some other men he was wearing a flower crown. Adriel had a sneer studying each of the other guests. All of them were handsome but to his opinion, they would have been more beautiful without all this caked-on makeup. Well, they would also be more good-looking if they stopped glaring at him. Mikelle didn’t seem to have noticed him and was at the bottom end of the table. Adriel couldn’t question him nor punch his face in those conditions. He had to be patient.

“When the Horus smokes his pipe, that means he is in a bad mood,” one of them with red hair like Nefer had murmured to his left. “We must not fail to entertain him.”

Adriel continued to fill his mouth, refusing to care. The food was beyond good, the best he ever had, even if its pissed him off to admit it. He wasn’t sure if Teo was looking at him but he held back his curiosity, continuing to eat without composure.

“The sacred son was curious and wanted a new animal,” a guest across the table mocked. “He decided he needed a pig.”

“Bearded ones must be rare,” his neighbor added. “That must increase their value.”

Adriel reached for his glass. He had sworn not to have wine anymore, but he needed something to cool down his head. It wasn’t any worse than the insults from the guard in the Pyramid, he decided. He just had to not let these derisive quips reach him. They were probably teasing him to vent, because they were actually afraid of the Prince’s temper.

Since Adriel wasn’t reacting, each of them added a layer of teasing with a cruel snicker. It was infuriating and he couldn’t help it and he raised his look above the rim of his glass. Teo was staring right at him with burning eyes while smoking silently. It wasn’t what he had thought the harem master would be, not this seriousness. Their eyes met a moment, but Teo was the one breaking eye contact first with the shadow of a smirk that pissed Adriel off.

“I prefer to be a pig than a dog like you, who can’t take a shit when he wants!” he barked at another mockery from a guest, who gaped at the sharp reply.

The rumor spread around the table, going from one guest to another until it reached Mikelle. That one was already going along with the others, obviously, and with a cruel grin, the murdering pet looked up to see this scandalous object that was Adriel by himself.
It was the moment where he made eye contact with Mikelle. The former pet paled so much that it was already a confession of guilt. If he had been ordered by the Prince to kill his father, he would not look so scared, with his patron in the place. Mikelle shook the bell from his table and Ipy ran to his side, leaning over his protégé. It was probably only a question, because after having murmured something the Eunuch in Chief was back at his watching spot. Mikelle whispered to the guest next to him and the answer came to Adriel.

“It’s because the Prince didn’t plan to use you. He had too much taste for that and he knows none of us would touch you either! I’d prefer the new Commander!” the guest at his right jeered.

“I would like to see you try!” Adriel sneered. Kleos would likely snap any guest in two.

“I want my new pet next to me,” Teo said in a loud voice and Adriel froze. It wasn’t guest, it was pet and it was much more humiliating. Did that mean him? All of sudden, he wasn’t sure if he preferred the Prince to these painted faces around him. For his pride, being mocked by the Prince was less annoying. Teo had much more brain than all the other guests together, himself included, he admitted while gritting his teeth. He was the second most important person in all the kingdom and teasing commoners was a simple leisure for wealthy people like Teo. So, Adriel shouldn’t be that upset about whatever could leave the smug mouth of the Horus. He hated to admit it but even if they were all ganging up on him, the guests’ taunts were like the buzz of mosquitoes, when with only one glance the Sacred Son could make him lose it. He was freed from his hesitation when Mikelle literally crawled to the platform. Indeed, Mikelle was a new ‘pet’ too.

Teo didn’t refuse him or anything so Adriel couldn’t be sure if the Prince had meant him or Mikelle. But the former pet of his father reached the bed and sat next to it. The Horus only flexed his foot as answer, still smoking and without glancing down to Mikelle. Without a second thought, Mikelle started to suck the Royal’s toes with an eagerness that Adriel wouldn’t have ever displayed in front of people, even if he was a sub bitch. He couldn’t help but think about how his father had loved Mikelle, treated him well and got shit for it while obviously Teo wasn’t giving a fuck and received such adoration.

The dinner table was cleared for dessert but Adriel couldn’t take his eyes off of Mikelle’s tongue licking Teo’s toes. A weird, unbidden thought came to him that worship wasn’t what the Horus was looking for. The more he thought about it, the more he was sure that whatever happened to his father wasn’t Teo’s handiwork or his part had been very light. Mikelle was hard and trembling with desire just to kneel next to the Prince and sucked eagerly on the royal toes when the other didn’t even seem to notice his presence.

Of course, Mikelle there was like a jewel in its setting. The poor Temple of his father couldn’t make him shine like the pet thought he deserved. A golden string was mixed in the braid and he had pearl earrings with a shape reminiscent of his grey eyes, and a wide beaded collar over the discipline one, and Adriel had a melancholy thought about the charms fixed to his collar at the Temple again. Indeed, the charms brought luck and protection, but to Mikelle only.

The pet was now bolder, kissing the royal ankles with adoration and by the way he was moving, he could tell that Mikelle was a skilled bed partner. At least his father had known physical pleasure before his death, he thought, mesmerized by the new henna tattoo on the royal calf Mikelle was lapping.

A loud clashing sound kicked him back into the reality and he realized that Teo had dropped his pipe. One moment, Adriel had the time to read a flash of anger in the molten-gold irises, but it faded away too quickly for him to be sure. The Horus had been smoking for a while since Adriel had entered the dining room about an hour ago and he wondered what the effects on him were. His movements were slower than usual, he noted, but also more sensual, cat-like, and Adriel felt his groin aching with desire. High like that, Teo could be easily overpowered and Adriel could push him down and finally have his way with him. He shook his head, furious with himself. He should be thinking of overpowering the Prince to kill him or flee, not to have a shot at him.

“Undress me,” the Horus ordered Mikelle and the pet obeyed with hands trembling in his joy to get more of the Prince.

“Ipy,” Teo added, his voice dripping with lust. “You can reward the pets.”

All the eunuchs left their places to run to the guest paired with them and Adriel felt that now the room was filled with electricity.

“What is happening?” he asked to Machaon who was busy with his cock-device.

“The Prince allows the guests to touch themselves and watch him mating. This hasn’t happened in a while and so all the other guests who haven’t masturbated for over six months are excited,” the old man explained.

Adriel stayed speechless a moment. No wonder the others were so bitchy with him. They were in a sour mood from not being able to jerk off.

“They can also play with their behind, but only their own, not others’,” Machaon continued. “Even if this is not your thing, they are very envious that you get the freedom to play with yourself this way when they can’t.”

As if he would play with his own ass, Adriel thought bitterly. He looked around again while Machaon was freeing his genitals. They were all cats, he realized, glancing at the other pets, cats wanting to be eaten by the bird. He didn’t belong here at all and he mused about what Teo’s agenda was. Tame him and turn him into a cat was the most likely but Adriel knew deeply himself that of him, it would never happen, and he could bet that the Horus knew that too.

Teo had been slowly undressed by Mikelle. It hadn’t taken long, since Teo was only wearing a tiny loincloth, all the rest being only golden ornaments. His cock was standing proudly and Adriel looked away to stare at his own. He would have to watch Teo having sex again and he was even more deterred from jerking off than with the device on. He wouldn’t give the Horus the satisfaction of seeing him getting off while watching him.

“Ride me,” Teo told Mikelle idly.

All the other guests were already at it, devouring the sex scene with their eyes, one hand on their cocks and the other reaching for their now free holes, while Adriel was there, sitting all stiff, staring at his now empty plate and having nothing to do except to pour himself a drink. Even if he wasn’t looking, he could still hear: the fapping sound of the flesh against flesh, the labored breaths, the moans and groans.

His hair was gripped from behind and his head forcefully snapped to the scene he tried to avoid in front of him.

“If you don’t watch,” Kleos murmured to his ear in a taunting manner, “it's because you’re jealous.”

Hearing the eerie voice almost made Adriel piss himself. It was Kleos’s but only in tone; Adriel knew the words were Teo’s. They were made one with their master’s soul, Machaon had told him. Adriel wasn’t sure what that meant but it was terrifying. Did that mean that whenever the Commander was there, Teo could hear and see what was happening? Was it the same with the lioness bodyguard? If that was so, it was like he had three Teos to fool to run away, making it all much more difficult.

“I can bounce on your cock like that,” Kleos continued. “Open your eyes and watch me!”

The picture formed in his mind despite himself and he felt his dick hardening. In his doped state, the fight would not be long and Adriel could tie him up and play with the Prince’s body until the Horus begged to be fucked. Then, he could release two years of tension built up in him and make Teo cry with over-pleasure.

“Just like that,” Kleos whispered and the cold fingers of the undead man brushed his shoulder.

The spell broken, Adriel snapped his eyes open and looked straight at the black eyes watching him on the stage. Adriel folded his arms tightly against his chest, sinking his nails into his own flesh. He felt relief when his cock softened. He wouldn’t give in. He would watch, not touch himself and maybe Teo would grow bored of his lack of cooperation.

Mikelle was gyrating his hips, his face expressing the bliss he felt each time he met Teo’s. But suddenly, the Prince turned wild and he pushed down the pet to pound him senseless. The other guests were also near reaching climax and Adriel was so tense that he jumped like it was boiling oil when a splatter of cum touched his arm.

“You’re crazy,” muttered the ginger head in his afterglow. “The Horus Crowned Prince doesn’t give permission like this often. Who knows when the next time would be?”

“I don’t give a crap. He can’t get my motor running,” Adriel exclaimed enough loud to be sure that at least Kleos could hear, if it was true that Teo could too through Kleos’s transmission. On the stage, Teo was too rough and the frail Mikelle must have been having a hard time, but it was like only Adriel wasn’t turned on by the show. The only thing he really wanted was for dinner to be over so he could move. He realized then that Kleos wasn’t by his side anymore, back to the wall where he was watching the scene with dead eyes.

“I’m done,” the Horus said, backing off from Mikelle and he snapped his fingers. The Eunuch in Chief ran to him, making his fat belly tremble. Ipy poured some fresh water from an ewer on a linen cloth and wiped the Prince’s genitals clean but Adriel’s sharp eyes couldn’t miss the fact that there was no cum on the royal dick. Teo hadn’t cum despite having thrust so fiercely and so long into the attractive and submissive body underneath him.

“Now, I need a drink,” Teo said with a clipped tone and the Eunuch, still kneeling next to the Prince, studied the guest assembly with dread printed in his face. His eyes landed on Adriel but he wrinkled his nose with disgust. His choice seemed to stop on the red-haired at his left.

“May I suggest a fruity and mid-bodied brewage after this work-out? Or this one,” he said pointing toward Mikelle now sitting up, slowed down by the afterglow. “Even if he is untasted so far, I bet he is like his perfume, delicate and light. The evening is still early, it could be a wise choice to awaken your palate.”

Adriel stared with horror, not believing what he had just heard and he felt a cold pit in his stomach. They talked about blood, he was sure of it. They talked of living people’s blood like freaking wine.

“I will take a sip of both,” the Horus replied idly.

Ipy motioned to Mikelle to come close and pulled the arm of his protégé under the royal nose.

“Look at the perfect shape of this arm. It, like his neck, round and elegant. The skin is delicate too and so fair. You can see the blood running through it. You can’t go wrong with this. It’s a perfect appetizer.”

Teo didn’t waste time admiring either arm, neck, or skin, and sank his fangs into the tender flesh of the arm. Mikelle didn’t seem to mind being called an ‘it’ and he barely flinched when he felt the bite. The sucking sound was sickening and Adriel’s eyes landed on the bell. He rang it and Machaon was by his side, fussing, while everybody looked at him with shocked expressions. Teo’s black gaze looked up over the arm.

“I need to take a piss,” Adriel growled lowly. “Why’re these fuckers glaring at me like I’m the one being a monster?”

“It's forbidden to disturb the Horus’s meal,” Machaon explained. “It’s my fault I didn’t tell you. Just wait until he is done.”

Adriel was tempted to just flip the table and walk away, but Teo spoke.

“His taste is weak,” he stated, slapping away Mikelle’s wrist. “Change his diet, he needs meat.”

Flushed with shame, Ipy dragged his protégé down and he switched him with the redhead, now making Mikelle sit next to Adriel.

Mikelle’s makeup had leaked during his intercourse, giving him a decayed, pathetic look of a broken doll and Adriel vowed again to never let his face be painted.

“Don’t give me that look,” Mikelle snarled in a low voice. “I got more than you would ever have. Next time, I will make sure to taste better.”

“How will you manage to fool such a connoisseur as the Horus?” Adriel mocked. “You could eat a raw beef, he would still know you’re just a little bitch.”

It was a quite amusing sight to see Mikelle’s face twisted with anger instead of his fake honeyed expression.

“This is your father’s fault!” the pet hissed. “He fed me so poorly during the past weeks. He should have died sooner.”

The powerful hook he delivered surprised even himself and so, when he was pulled up by the strong arm of the Commander, he didn’t resist, still watching the blood leaking from Mikelle’s busted lip.

“Your Grace!” Ipy cried. “This animal hit a bed servant of yours.”

Teo stopped drinking from the neck of his second meal.

“This animal as you call him is also a guest. Two guests have bothered my meals. It’s happened before. Just punish them both.”

“But...” the Eunuch in Chief started but a gleam in Teo’s eyes prevented him from continuing.

Ipy motioned to the discipliner but Teo stopped him.

“Just hold the blond one on his knees. It’s been a while since I have punished misbehaving pets myself. Commander, give me your whip. Bring both of them here. It’s two hundred lashes, I think… is that so?”

The Discipliner nodded, bringing a sobbing Mikelle, and the red-haired brewage left the stage in a hurry.

Despite his attempt of resisting, Adriel was dragged to the stage and forced down on his knees by Kleos. From where he was, Adriel could see the cruel look of the other guests. They weren’t feeling bad for them. Actually, they seemed glad that the guest who was too outstanding was punished. It was another kind of show like the public mating, just as entertaining for them. They were all ugly under their painted faces. Lumens were indeed only corrupted filth. Being that humiliated in front of them was worse, he decided. The Horus knew how to mess with him, he had to give him that. He must have refused Mikelle for that, only to get them close enough for Adriel to be able to punch him. Teo was cunning enough to have guessed Adriel would lose his cool.

Adriel braced himself for the first hit and so didn’t give a whimper when he felt the sting. Teo was whipping them one after the other with equal force, according to the slap of the whip. But at each of them, Mikelle was curling on himself, uttering cries and moans of pain. It wasn’t that bad, Adriel reflected. It was indeed painful but the humiliation of crying in front of the Prince would have stung him even more than the whip.

Mikelle lost consciousness at the 36th hit and Adriel supposed that the rough intercourse and the bite had weakened him.

“This isn’t fun anymore. Eunuchs, get rid of these pets. They won’t attend the rest of the evening with us, but will be grounded in their room for 24 hours without a meal, like the disobedient children they are.”

Adriel was forced up but he managed to turn toward Teo.

“One day, you will be at the other end of the whip,” Adriel vowed in a low growl, “and I won’t stop because you fainted.”

The Horus’s smile didn’t falter.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he replied like Adriel had invited him to a walk by the river.

He was dragged out the room and thrown back into his cell by the Commander, followed by a concerned Machaon.

“Listen to me, you little royal shit,” he snapped to Kleos, locking eyes with him, in any case Teo could see or hear. “One day, I will get off on your moans and tears.”

The Commander turned his back, unbothered, and left Adriel alone with his old friend.

“That was an unwise move, my friend. The other guests will target you to get you punished, since you are short-tempered. The Horus won’t be able to brush them off every occasion you challenge him publicly.”

“I can be punished. I won’t suck his foot. I’m not disgusting and weak like that pet.”

Machaon rubbed his temple with a long sigh.

“I was hoping my teaching reached you better. You are really not observant as I hoped you to be.”

Adriel was used to being a disappointment to any parental figure so he only tried to check his back with the mirror, touching it carefully. Long, bloody marks zebraed his back and he felt a throbbing but weaker pain than one might think when looking at the marks of the whip.

“What should I observe? That he is a kinky bastard getting hard for blood and tears? He was hoping to turn me into a sobbing mess like Mikelle, but he was disappointed. I’m tougher than that,” Adriel exclaimed. “Besides, do you think he would wait for me to get into trouble to whip me like that? Nah, he would make trouble happen.”

“You fool,” Machon replied after a moment of silence. “You had already felt that way, many times, but you are too passionate to even stop yourself and reflect. Look at your back. Even stubborn and proud as you are, you wouldn’t have been able to bear it so stoically if you weren’t drenched in blue lotus and royal venom. You should remember the effect. You had the same when you got branded. You won’t feel anything for a few days,” Machaon explained and Adriel’s heart missed a beat while his mind was racing. “Why do you think the Prince insisted on you getting oiled? He knew you would get in a fight and it was a way to protect you without claiming he was. He gave me the blue lotus bottle, since only the Royals could choose the use of it. But the fact he did by himself shows he didn’t want it to fall into any other hands. I had to watch over the beautician making his mix. It's obvious he added venom to it secretly. It activates the properties of blue lotus when it touches the blood. You will have amazing dreams,” he added with some sarcasm.

Adriel suddenly felt the blood leaving his head and his knees buckled, his vision blurry. He dropped himself on the bed and didn’t resist when Machaon pushed him on his belly to take care of his wounds.

“Since you are punished, tomorrow I will bring you books, ancient ones,” Machaon murmured. “I’m not done with your education.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 


 

Adriel woke up confused and feeling hot. He sat up and blinked, looking at his surroundings and it took him a full minute for his mind to recall his last events. Mixed with them, some flashes of his erotic dreams still lingered. Indeed, as Machaon had told him, he had amazing dreams and, frustrated, he noticed that from the opening of his cock device, some cum had leaked on his bedsheets during his wet dreams. Thankfully, nobody except him could know of what, or rather who, he had dreamed of and so, his honor was safe. His head was rather foggy and his back was throbbing. The whip lashes, he remembered. Before he fell asleep, Machaon had disinfected and taken care of his wounds but the words of the eunuch still haunted him.

Could it be true that Teo had insisted that he be anointed with venom and blue lotus as anesthesia against the pain? Why he would do that? Adriel thought. Teo had no interest in Adriel avoiding suffering. It was rather the opposite. He knew very well that the Horus was turned on by his misery. Machaon was the one making up scenarios because he was a dumbstruck romantic.

He had no idea of what time it was and he looked up, trying to get a better idea from the quantity of light the sunbeams were giving to the room.

He lay down, telling himself he should not be in a hurry for a day of being locked up. He was punished and so would have to spend the day without eating. His eyes lit on the fruit basket. It was still there, he noted, and before someone noticed the mistake, he took what he knew was a banana. It was another thing he never got to taste before and he chewed it with delight. He hid another apple and a few dates under his pillow, just in case. If they realized they should not have left him the basket, it would be too late for those fruits. With that, Adriel could survive the day without officially eating. He had tap water, a shower, and a toilet. He could stand his punishment without a flutter since the pain in his back was also bearable. And if he was honest, he rather preferred to be let alone than face HIM.

The memories from his dream were blurry but Adriel knew it was about him, the dark Prince. He didn’t remember where they were but he felt like the Teo’s touch still lingered on his skin and the Horus’s peculiar spicy perfume filled up the place.

“I’m looking forward to it,” were the words he remembered, spoken with gleaming golden eyes but maybe the Prince had actually spoken those. It was hard to tell. He was drunk, he decided. He was drunk on wine and anger. But the memory of the beating was vivid, making him ball his fists.

The son of a bitch had schemed this, Adriel decided, recalling the evening. Mikelle, the little rattlesnake, had killed his father in the hope of collecting money and maybe freedom but he had got caught like the stupid pet he was and since Teo had been the one having bought Mikelle for Adriel's father, he hadn't signed the death of the High Priest as having been murdered, so glad to find a new twisted way to drive Adriel crazy. Then, he had locked them up in his harem, to watch them fighting, as a new form of amusement.

Adriel imagined Teo in his mind, stretched on his couch idly, his pipe between his lips like he had seen the evening before. The picture of the confidence of being invincible, Adriel thought, gritting his teeth.

He just wanted to smash this image and shatter Teo, but if he managed to do that and survive, what next? He looked up again, trying to see the most of the outside he could, despite the window being too high. His mind pictured the priesthood, the Hive and the people living there. He even thought about the barracks and the Rip Fig brothel. It was testimony about how one wasn’t important. They were all probably having a normal day and he thought that in the barracks they were probably having breakfast, maybe frustrated that the General was gone before they could have a shot at him but glad about Adriel’s disappearance. How had the other officers explained that, he wondered? Was the training even for real? Was Teo crazy to the point of involving so many people in his scheme?

Adriel had to admit he had no idea. It wasn’t because he was stupid, he told himself, but the damned Horus was lying since day one and was pretty good about sending mixed signals to confuse the shit out of whoever he wanted. Anyway, there was nothing to understand. It was beyond being a Royal, Adriel decided. Teo was just twisted. Well, the only other Royal he had ever seen besides the Horus was the Regem. He had seen him at his father’s temple at the flood ceremony and also on the day of the barge. The Regem was more traditional than his son and was wearing a full-face mask and also had more composed behavior, but who knew? Maybe the Regem was worse than his sacred son in his intimacy. The Regem was the one ruling Theba and was older, and so maybe people had more expectations about him, when Teo could enjoy his youth and indulge himself in orgies with his pipe and pets, having fewer responsibilities than his father.

Maybe the Regem was disappointed in his son, too, Adriel pondered, as his own father had been with him. It was unlikely, he decided after a moment musing about the idea. First, Teo was far too smart for the Regem to not take pride in him. And well, he was gorgeous. He knew it was more a mother’s thing to be proud of her offspring’s beauty, but still, Teo’s was much too remarkable for the Regem to not like to show him off. Anyway, who was Teo’s mother? He knew the Regem had a harem as well. Was Teo the son of one of the Regem’s female pets? Had Teo been torn from his mother’s arms as he himself had been in the Hive? For once, Adriel thought of his mother. He didn’t have many memories of her, because the mothers weren’t allowed to be with them that much. She wasn’t affectionate but Adriel remembered that her face was one of someone knowing the outcome from the beginning and so, who stopped fighting. He remembered how much he had wished he had been able to wipe this sadness from his mother.

Was she dead by now?

Suddenly the thought of not knowing about something that never bothered him before was unbearable and he started to yell and kick. It wasn’t long before Machaon appeared, deep concern on his face.

“What is this about? Is your back in pain?” the eunuch asked before realizing that it wasn’t the case.

“I see. You still didn’t accept it. It was to be expected. Whipping you wasn’t the way to make you come around. The Prince knew it. I guess he is a patient man,” Machaon murmured. “Well, he is certainly more than you.”

“I don’t care, “Adriel snapped aggressively, pulling on the knob of the door. Open up now or bring me the little fucker. I will settle this once and for all.”

Machaon sadly shook his head.

“Do you have such a poor memory? This is the exact situation you were in yesterday and I will answer you the same. The Horus Crowned Prince is busy. He has kingdom duties to attend. You will see him after dinner since your punishment will end only at that moment."

Adriel couldn't imagine Teo attending serious businesses like political shit. The Horus was far too decadent a creature for that. He was probably busy smoking his pipe while he was sucked off by a pet.

"Don't give me that bullshit," Adriel growled. "I know he just fakes being busy only to torment me more."

"Arrogant much, are you?" the eunuch replied with a sneer. "The Prince could felt in a special way for you, he still has many responsibilities, like a kingdom to rule and diplomatic relations to handle," Machaon stated seriously. "Have you any idea about what the Horus deals with every day?"

Adriel flushed at these words. Indeed, he had no idea. And he felt ashamed to have exaggerated his own importance. "I’ll give you he seems to take pleasure in teasing you and puts some effort into it," the old man admitted. "But not to the point of losing Theba."

Adriel glanced up, now curious.

"How could he lose Theba? He is popular among the population.” Adriel remembered very vividly the cheers of the crowd when the Horus was in his barge. “And his father seems to trust him."

"I have chosen books for you," Machaon replied, without answering the question. "Use this grounding sentence as an opportunity to learn. In addition to old human books, I added some documents about Theba’s kingdom. You will find them interesting.”

Adriel understood that Machaon wasn’t free to talk. Maybe the fat Eunuch in Chief was listening, or Kleos. The mention of the books probably meant the answer was in them and so, Adriel nodded. Reading wasn’t his favorite activity since he was a slow reader, but here, like at the Pyramid, it would maybe prevent him from going crazy, having his mind busy with something else than the Horus son of a bitch.

Machaon returned to wherever he was sleeping and Adriel thought that even if he wasn’t sure if he should trust the old man, it was his best bet in the current situation.

The eunuch came back with a few books and carefully entered Adriel’s room. The old man was worried Adriel would use this short time to run away, but he wasn’t dumb enough to run in a place he knew nothing about. The next thing he knew, he would bump into the leopard woman. Teo’s bodyguard filled Adriel with dread, a terror he didn’t even feel for the Royal vampire. Kleos could be a zombie as she was, but Adriel had known the Commander when he was alive. Kleos had been too human in his deep romantic feelings for Adriel not to still feel a spark of sympathy for him. But Bast was a completely different matter; she was frightening even if he felt like a sissy to admit it.

“I took them from the library,” Machaon said, handing him the few books and a scroll. “The place is a pure paradise and I got used to spending my days there when you weren’t here yet. I learned more in a month than in my whole life. I would have never guessed the Prince loved ancient books that much but well, I suppose nobody really knows the Horus,” Machaon explained. “But it’s something that you can grasp,” he added in a very low voice.

“What I want to grasp is freedom,” Adriel spat. “For me first, but also for every human on this rotten planet!”

“For a destination, there isn’t only one path,” Machaon replied sternly. “Sometimes the best way to get what we want is one that we didn’t think of or refused to take.”

“I’m sure as fuck my path to liberty isn’t in a Royal’s bed,” Adriel snarled. “I know that’s what you’re implying. But I don’t fancy other species as you do! I can’t believe this bastard went so low, to the point of using you as a way to coax me…”

“Watch, read and learn. I can’t stay too long, today...”

Machaon’s sharp and short answer didn’t please Adriel a bit. After having been beaten in public and locked up just the day before, he wasn’t feeling like playing the devoted student. But it wasn’t like he could punch the man. Using violence against those weaker than himself was repulsive to him. The day before, he only hit Mikelle because of that dick’s answer. For a moment, he thought of the pet. Last night, Mikelle had fainted and even if he didn’t feel any pity for the one who probably killed his father, he wondered how he was.

“What about the pet? The one punished?”

“I’m not the eunuch of that one,” Machaon replied very collected. “Each eunuch has his own protégés that they train, advise and care for. Ipy has two guests as the Eunuch in Chief. Ruby is the one with the red hair that you have noticed. He is a very good pet but always failed to be a favorite, despite Ipy’s efforts. Now he hopes to push the young Mikelle into it since Ruby is already 23 years old and has been in the Harem for more than seven years already. The competition between the eunuchs can be as vicious as the one between the guests. You must have noticed how they got when they noticed you?”

“They are only bitter and frustrated about not getting laid as often as they want,” Adriel replied with disdain, shrugging. “I don’t mind them. They are just little butterflies having been caught by a cruel child.”

“Even if your analogy is interesting, I’m afraid it’s a little more complicated than that. May I suggest you to keep it down today and just watch. We can talk more tomorrow maybe but if I have been seen talking too long with you, since you are supposed to be being punished, I will also be punished and the punishments for the eunuchs are much harsher than for the guests. Guests should remain healthy and beautiful, which isn’t that important for an old man like me, I’m afraid.”

Adriel narrowed his eyes and bit his lip angrily at the idea Machaon could get hurt just for speaking to him.

“I would love to see them try! Anyway, the Prince wouldn’t allow it since he chose you personally!”

Indeed, he couldn't imagine Teo getting rid of such a precious ace as Machaon. He would use the old man the most that he could before getting what he wanted.

“The Horus wouldn’t because he doesn’t want to displease you too badly, but Ipy could,” Machaon countered. “While you get special treatment to only be punished by the Commander or the Prince himself, I don’t have those restrictions. He will be pleased to get rid of me. He knows I’m smart and that you are very different than the other guests. He wants his own protégés in the Horus’s bed.”

“I think it’s very easy to get in his bed,” Adriel mocked but a step interrupted them and Machaon left the room in a hurry.

“Calm down and reflect on your misbehavior,” the old man told Adriel loud enough to be heard. “And by the way, I forgot to tell you. You will have a medical appointment later today. It's a normal procedure but wait for me to be by your side…”

“Machaon. This guest received a sentence of isolation. You can’t talk to him,” another eunuch said. Adriel didn’t know who he was, but all his pompous behavior was bad news. “Besides, the Eunuch in Chief requests your presence.”

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” the old man said like a shot, but the moment the door was open, Adriel bolted to it, preventing Machaon from closing it and he clutched the other eunuch’s tunic with force. This one yelped in an sharp voice, calling for help.

“Don’t worry, I won’t beat the shit out of you, but… if something bad happens to him, I will complain to the Horus,” Adriel growled. Using Teo was repulsive to him, but his instinct told him it was the best protection he could give.

The other man tried to look unimpressed but failed. He was frail, even more than Mikelle, and Adriel could crush him very easily.

“The Sacred Son has other things to do than dealing with eunuchs’ matters,” he replied very dryly. “Master Ipy isn’t afraid of an untasted pet’s rambling. Now go back to your room or I’ll call the Discipliner.”

“I’m not a pet! Don’t cross me!” Adriel threatened. He caught sight of Machaon’s pleading eyes and returned to his cell even if he wasn’t afraid of any discipliner. This guy was probably only Ipy’s servant and didn’t know a thing.

He sat on his bed and picked up a textbook randomly, the one called ‘The Prince’, that Machaon had already spoken about. But he couldn’t focus, tormented by this upcoming so-called medical appointment. He didn’t find any interest in the old book and wondered why Machaon had picked a story for him from six centuries before the humans left the Earth. There must be a reason, but today he felt too restless to try to understand. He regretted not having asked Machaon what time it was. He dropped this book after a while and looked for another one. One caught his attention. It wasn’t a book but a papyrus scroll

‘The Oath of the Sun’: Theba Royals’ Speech of Allegiance to Ouranous.’

The papyrus roll was so old and dry that some parts of it were torn, and Adriel unrolled it carefully. It seemed to be for the Prince’s use, and a kind of odd curiosity took him. Teo could be a royal asshole, the fact that he was so mysterious giving him an advantage. Knowing more about him could only help Adriel’s own purpose. This was the reason Adriel convinced himself he had to read it.

It was a very long text and boring. Adriel guessed that in every kingdom, the Regem and their heir would make this speech. But then, what about the kingdoms that didn’t have Royals anymore? It wasn’t any more interesting until he got to this sentence:

“I won’t be the woman of any man and won’t let their seed taint my Temple.”

That only confirmed what Adriel already thought. Teo was taunting him with all those allusions about him being ready to play bottom for him. Teo couldn’t be a cat, like he had believed in his young innocence. Even in the unlikely event the Horus wished it, it was forbidden by Ouranous’s rules. But then, what about Kleos?

Adriel recalled very vividly how the Commander had thrust into the Prince’s body in front of him. Did that mean Teo didn’t give a damn about these rules? Well, nobody could report it, anyway. The only witnesses had been him, the female bodyguard and Kleos. The Commander couldn’t boast about it now and Adriel wondered if it was one of the reasons he had been killed. Because even if the Commander was walking around, his soul was gone, eaten by the vampire. Kleos had probably asked the favor of topping the Horus, knowing Teo couldn’t allow him to live after, since it was a sin Royals weren't supposed to do. Kleos was aware of it, but did anyway, preferring to live his fantasies and then, be one with Teo’s soul, like Machaon had explained in a poetic way. It was indeed true that it hadn’t been a huge difference for Kleos. He was already the Horus’s puppet when he was alive.

But then, why had Teo decided to include Adriel in the scene?

To mess with him more, Adriel decided, putting away the scroll. But why did Machaon want him to read that? He was still pondering over this when he heard steps getting closer again.

The Eunuch in Chief was there, a vicious smirk on his face, accompanied by the same man Adriel had threatened before.

“It is time for your appointment,” Ipy said, looking at him with contempt through the screen.

“Where is Machaon?” Adriel snapped. “I’m not moving if he isn’t here.”

Ipy put his hand on his belly, his painted face expressing a very obvious fake desolation.

“Alas,” he said, “for his disobedience, your Eunuch has been disciplined.”

Adriel turned livid; his breath caught.

“You will regret this!” he roared, slamming his fist into the wall. “I will tell the Prince you punished him for nothing!”

“The Horus Crowned Prince didn’t even spare you a glance, except to whip you,” Ipy snickered. “He won’t care about a newbie eunuch and nor for such a gross furry animal.”

For a moment, Adriel was tempted to actually try to see if there was something deeper in the Prince’s interest for him, like Machaon seemed to believe. He could just try to see if the old man was right and that Teo had special feelings for him. Then, the rational, suspicious part of his brain kicked in gear. If he was wrong, Teo would win the game they started to play two years ago. Adriel couldn’t allow that, not now, when it was his second day in the harem. Besides, he remembered the strange words of Machaon. The old man had said the Horus wanted to protect him without this being apparent. But why would the Prince have to hide his fancies from a fatty eunuch when he was so powerful and could make Kleos and Bast slaughter the place in a blink? That didn’t make any sense and Machaon definitely had a screw loose to have read so many old human romance novels.

Ipy‘s grin grew, mistaking Adriel’s silence, taking it as if it was fear and realization of his helpless situation when in fact Adriel was only pondering again about if it was indeed possible that Teo had asked him to be oiled with anesthetics in case Adriel’s behavior required a physical punishment.

But why do that when the Prince was the one holding the whip? It was a way to deceive, Machaon would say, and Adriel remembered what he had just read or rather what he had understood of it. A prince must be feared more than loved to ground his power, but must keep secret his motives and his private life to not show any weakness to a potential enemy.

But whatever the Prince could think, he wasn’t there and Machaon either, Machaon who had insisted on being at Adriel’s side for this medical appointment. There was only this Ipy with his crocodile smirk.

“I won’t move,” Adriel repeated through his gritted teeth. “Just try to force me and I will kick your fat ass like I punched that little double-faced bitch of yours yesterday.”

“The Honorable Mikelle has been tasted by the Sacred Son in every sense of the word,” Ipy hissed. “He is a beautiful flower that the Prince would want to pin close to his heart.”

“And still he got his share of lashes and wasn’t even manly enough to take it to the end!” Adriel sneered maliciously. “The Prince will grow tired of those kinds of fragile flowers, who can’t take full sun exposure.”

The jab had landed a bullseye and it was the Eunuch in Chief’s turn to be livid.

“We will see if you are so smug, during your check-up. Guards!” Ipy shouted. “I have a recalcitrant guest!”

At that moment, a door flopped open and a dozen of the guard in full gear invaded the hall in front of Adriel’s room. It was something he didn’t even know, he thought. So far, his mind had pictured the Discipliner, Ipy, Kleos and Bast as the ones in charge of the security. That there were also guards made any escape attempt harder.

“I’m a special guest,” he decided to protest. “Only the Commander and the Prince can use force on me. Call one of them!”

Obviously, Ipy hadn’t expected Adriel would demand the Harem Commander. He could relate that for the eunuch, Kleos was maybe like Bast was for Adriel, a foreign monster with an incredible force.

“The Horus is on the other side of the river, at the Regem’s palace, probably in a full meeting with the ministers and the High Priests,” Ipy explained with a lofty face and Adriel’s mind tried to picture a Teo actually busy handling kingdom business, but he wasn’t able to. He was only able to imagine him, lustful on his couch, smoking his pipe, a slave sucking on his toes. “His Grace‘s mind is very far away from any pet and even more from you.”

“The Commander, then,” Adriel insisted. “It's either him, my eunuch, or the Prince.”

Adriel saw Ipy gesture, about to command the guard to take him by force. Adriel wasn’t sure about why Ipy was so insistent and nor if Kleos was really an ally, but he threw in his last argument.

“I will fight them and maybe get hurt and then the responsibility for it would fall on you. The Prince may not care for me but he cares about obedience. He gave orders for me and ignoring them would turn more badly for you than me.”

It was a wild guess since Adriel wasn’t sure if what Machaon had told him was true but his speech did a number on the eunuch’s resolve.

“Go get the Commander,” he told his assistant, who didn’t hold back his quiver.

“But... but the Harem Commander only obeys the Sun Loved Child,” he protested and Adriel snorted derisively at this new title for Teo even if he felt a pit in his stomach. What if Kleos and Teo’s link wasn’t working over such a distance? But anyway, why the fuck was he so hopeful in Teo today, the same guy that would kill people without any kind of emotion and who gave him a public punishment the day before? He cursed himself for being so weak to Machaon’s words.

But the servant was sent anyway and a few minutes later, the Harem Commander was there, eyes gleaming but expressionless. The guards were sent back to where ever they came from and Adriel had no other choice than to follow.

He frowned in confusion when he realized he was led to the beautician again but he was too proud to ask the reason for it from Ipy. But this guy who was maybe feeling talkative because he felt he had gained an upper hand, started a long explanation.

“You need to be cleaned before the eunuch in charge of the check-up can do it. I mean by that that your genitals also need to be cleaned. ” Ipy said wrinkling his nose in disgust like having a cock was an abnormality. “I heard that they didn’t get to wash you down there and it needs to be done in the unlikely case the Horus wants you. It’s common hygiene.”

If it was the worst thing supposed to happen, Adriel was relieved. He wasn’t shy a bit and having this device removed and being washed was good news.

“Then you need to give a blood sample. We must be sure you don’t have any diseases. We also need to have your blood labeled according to its type and taste. Who knows, maybe the Prince will have a bitter-sour craving one day,” Ipy mocked.

The idea of Teo drinking his blood brought back memories and mixed feelings. It wasn’t the blood loss that bothered Adriel but being modeled in kind of wine catalog.

“We need to weigh and measure you to add it to your description and take a picture. Each night the Prince is in his harem, he could ask for the catalog and he will put the bookmark at the page of the one chosen for the night, either if it’s to have a late drink or to indulge in sexual pleasure.”

“I won’t…”

They were now in a room with a tub and Adriel stopped in his tracks when he saw Mikelle was already in there, being washed by the beautician’s assistant.

“Mikelle was scheduled as well but since he is less pig-headed than you, his bath is all done now,” the Eunuch in Chief stated, motioning the assistant to help Mikelle to get out of the tub and to lay on one of the two beds. The blond pet stood up giving a full view on his lacerated back and Adriel noticed with a pinch of guilt how frail and young Mikelle was. His long, wet hair stuck to his back and it was then that Adriel marked the presence of someone else. The red-headed one with the weird name of Ruby was tying Mikelle’s hair up in a bun.

“This is Ruby,” Ipy said. “He is a senior in this harem and also, my protégé. He is acting as Mikelle’s big brother. He is also the Prince’s favorite drink,” he said like it was a matter of pride to talk about the flavor of the blood of someone else. As for himself, Adriel knew he would be pissed to be called a favorite drink.

Ruby nodded in acknowledgment, his face smooth, and he returned to wiping Mikelle dry with his towel. Mikelle turned a languid glance to Adriel’s side and Adriel noticed immediately that something wasn’t right. His eyes went to Ruby and Mikelle and he found to each of them with the same empty look, with dilated pupils, but worse in Mikelle’s case. They were intoxicated with something, it was easy to tell. Maybe it was a pain-relief, he supposed.

With an indecent hurry, Ipy worked on his cock device. It was locked with a keypad but also a number code. As extra security, one could only get rid of it by having both the key and the number but to his great displeasure, it seemed that the usual code wasn’t working.

“I don’t have any choice, I must call your eunuch,” he said dryly and Adriel’s heart jumped in happiness. But at that moment, Kleos, who had been mute and still from the beginning took a step forward and pushed away the fat eunuch to bend over the device, entered the code, and Adriel felt the fresh air on his cock with pleasure, almost getting hard from it.

“I see,” Ipy said, with a trembling double-chin and he motioned Adriel to get in the tub. The Eunuch in Chief must have been upset and humiliated to not be trusted that much by the Horus, Adriel guessed.

The water was good but he refused to be scrubbed by the assistant and did it by himself. He felt the Commander’s eyes burn holes in him and he wondered again if Teo could see through Kleos’s dead eyes. Were the others aware of it? Or was it Adriel himself who was making up scenarios from what he had supposed was Teo’s speaking via Kleos’s mouth?

In any case, he was determined to not give a show to the Horus and to stay unbothered by whatever Ipy had in store for him.

As well, he asked to oil himself, except for his back, so as not to infect his wounds, but Kleos took the bottle and put it in the hands of the beautician, pointing to his back, and the quivering Pentou obeyed. Even if he felt nothing more than a dull pain, Adriel kept a stiff posture to look like he was suffering more than in reality. Whatever Teo’s reason was, he had to admit that he felt as light-headed as when he had been bitten, even if Pentou used very little. It was very convenient since he wanted to be the less reactive he could, to spoil Teo’s and Ipy’s possible fun.

Feeling more relaxed from it, like Mikelle had been moments before, he let himself be marked with henna, the feeling of the brush almost pleasant, and they took his picture. He thought back to the last time he had been photographed. It was maybe six months before his first encounter with Teo, at the Human Citizen Bureau. Lumens took pictures of them every two years and linked them to their ID number to keep track of them. He couldn’t have guessed that the next time would be in the Palace.

“This is a special blend of henna,” Ipy explained, kicking him out of his train of thought. “Your body is marked at the different erogenous zones. They will turn invisible after a few minutes and enter your bloodstream. The Prince’s sweat makes the henna marks appear. If anyone else with a mark touches you, like any other guest here, at one of the places you have been marked, your mark would be smeared and the Horus would know you had been unfaithful. We usually mark the lips, the nape, the chest on both sides, and also the thighs and feet.”

“I’m not the one with the foot fetish,” Adriel retorted, feeling too mellow to snap but couldn’t help but to give a jab to Mikelle. Being drawn on wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t like he lusted for any of the other pets. On his other side another man, the doctor, he supposed, was done drawing his blood. “The Prince either. He didn’t get off despite Mikelle’s efforts. He‘d be better off with a good dicking,” he commented idly.

The beautician dropped the henna on the floor, his face expressing pure shock, but Kleos’s reaction was harsher and he slapped Adriel with the back of his hand so hard that he almost fell off the cot he was lying on.

Ipy gave a sly smile.

“You must be unaware of the Royal rules. The Horus can’t be the bottom one,” the eunuch said. “It would be death for both of you if the Regem or the Ra High Priest knew. But anyway, it’s only crazy talk. The Sacred Son has better taste than that.”

The slap had awoken Adriel from his numb state. He had acted like an idiot. He had just read about it and still, he was speaking his mind aloud.

“It’s time we pass on to the last part of the check-up,” Ipy declared. “We need a sample of sperm and also to be certain you are a virgin. The Prince doesn’t want used pet.”

“I’m not,” Adriel declared with fire and he looked Kleos straight in the face to read any hint of recognition on his stern features. But nothing moved on his stone face. Anyway, maybe it was the only thing he had to say to get kicked out of the harem. “I had sex before.”

“We are not talking of your little cock…” Ipy said disdainfully and Adriel snorted again. He was sure as fuck bigger than Ipy, anyway. “…but your ass. Have you been the bitch of someone else before?” the eunuch asked very crudely.

Adriel turned livid at the idea. Even to get out of there, he wouldn’t say such a lie.

“Of course not! Anyway, I intend to stay that way. I won’t ever try to seduce your Horus. I’ll leave him to your protégés. I know he’ll be in good hands,” he mocked.

“Well, it’s too bad you have no say in this matter,” Ipy deadpanned and he snapped his fingers. At the same moment, the doc and Ipy’s servant held his arms above his head to lock his wrists into restraints.

“What are you doing, you bastards?” Adriel roared. He looked down at an impassive Kleos who was also locking his spread legs. He had been fooled into believing Kleos was an ally and he regretted Machaon’s absence.

He paled by several shades when Ipy waved what looked like a golden cock.

“This has been molded on the Horus’s actual genitals. The fact is that the Prince wants virgins but hates to have to train them. He doesn’t mind if the virginity is taken by proxy with this for your body to know his shape. It will feel like the real Prince is breaching you. Since you are inexperienced, we will try it with Mikelle first for you to see how to take it,” he mocked.

“Mikelle... Mikelle isn’t a virgin,” Adriel exclaimed, feeling deeply for the other man the for the humiliation of being penetrated by a fake cock.

“Of course, we know; the Prince took it yesterday,” Ipy said but Mikelle snapped his head toward him and despite his inebriated state, he glared at him. Ruby was there too but careful to stay away and Adriel remembered the henna marks.

It was useless to try to prove Mikelle was a used pet and since he didn’t mind having a cock up his ass, he let it be, busy trying to pull out of his own restraints, cursing and vowing that anyone touching him would be killed one day.

On the bed next to him, Mikelle was spreading his legs eagerly, snapping his hips in sync to meet the golden dildo held by the doctor. The man was a lecher, his lust very apparent on his face like he was the one fucking Mikelle. He was probably a eunuch, but maybe a late one, having known the pleasures of flesh before getting cut. Mikelle’s cock had been slid in a transparent tube and the thing looked like it was pumping him. When the pet came, with a cry of ecstasy, Adriel understood that the purpose was to collect a sperm sample for analysis, for whatever this crazy bastard of a doctor wanted to analyze.

There was no way this man would touch him, and Adriel tried to break free while the doctor was cleaning the sex toy and lubing it again. Now Adriel understood why Ipy was so self-pleased since the beginning. He knew Adriel would go crazy from the humiliation. It wasn’t only the bottom part who was driving him mad and it wasn’t only his pride who was hurt. With his life-partner and soulmate, Adriel wouldn’t mind to bottom for a change of pace once in a while. But to be breached with a false cock, watched closely by people hating him in the purpose to be trained or tamed was hurting him to the core.

The doc managed to take his cock despite Adriel, who was twisting his body in an attempt to escape, and slid it into the tube. He immediately felt his dick being squeezed and sucked by the machine. Adriel could guess it was supposed to feel like a blow job but he was too riled up to appreciate it or care. But at the moment the man got near his lubed hole with the dido, Kleos snatched it and after a very short-lived hope where Adriel thought he was off the hook, the Commander breached him with it without any mercy and Adriel arched his back from the pain of the intrusion, hissing curses.

But the Commander took a restless pace, not giving a damn about whatever Adriel could yell as threats, insults, and his endless string of curses.

“Highest setting,” Kleos said and after a moment where everybody looked frozen by fear, the doctor turned his machine to the highest setting.

His cock was squeezed so tight that it was like he was fucking someone for real, but again the situation was too revolting for him to enjoy. He glared the best he could at Kleos, swearing to not give them the satisfaction of seeing him cum. Teo was behind this, he was sure of it. That wicked Prince was getting off, watching the scene from Kleos’s eyes.

Then, it hit him hard. If Teo could see him, it almost felt like having sex together for real. It was even more real than the time with the Blue Lotus. He could see Kleos‘s body but it was Teo’s soul and mind in there. This is why the Commander had wanted to do it himself and had ordered the highest setting and was so rough with the dildo. It was the fire from a real lover or at least someone passionate about him.

“You are starting to understand, aren’t you?” Kleos said in his eerie voice, but Adriel was convinced it was the Horus speaking. Teo was there through some invisible link, maybe pumping his own cock on his way back from his meeting, turned on by the faces and sounds Adriel was making.

The tube now felt like it was Teo’s hot core sucking him in and the pain turned into a sharp pleasure. He focused on this sensation and tried to dismiss the one in his rear and also everyone in the room with him. He just had to close his eyes and enjoy the ride, to show these pervert they won’t break him so easily. His cock was feeling like melting and he briefly thought it was so great, he won’t be ever able to jerk off after this. What he had now was probably the closest he could get to feeling what the real Teo could have been and he came helpless against the rush of pleasure, picturing the Prince’s body above him instead of the tube.

“For such a manly guest, you came pretty quickly with a cock up your ass,” Ipy commented, but Adriel stayed mute, caught up in his afterglow, endorphins flooding him too much to be furious. He was taking slow breaths and didn’t even hit the people around him while he was delivered from his restraints after his cock had been washed and put back in its device. He could tell that the eunuch was pissed. Probably Ipy had hoped to break him and was furious to have failed.

At some moment, Mikelle had left the beautician, his makeup and hair being done while Adriel had a climax ripped from him. Ruby and the Commander had left too. Now that the afterglow was fading and Kleos went away, the spell was broken. The realization of what had occurred struck him hard. He had been raped; there wasn’t any other word for what they had done. Teo had done to him what Adriel had wanted to do to Teo when they first met. It was payback, Adriel guessed, payback at tenfold the price, because it happened in front of people he disliked so much. Never had Adriel had the intention to fuck Teo in front of everybody when they first met in the garden. He had been sincere in his interest and would have wooed him properly and treated him right after that. But Teo only knew pain and humiliation. Indeed, he had been humiliated, even if he was sure to not have moved his hips as eagerly as Mikelle. But tamed? No. It was a physical attack, he decided and this called retaliation.

He had been weak, but it was because of the oil and he swore to refuse it from now on.

There was no use crying over spilled milk and he refused to let his shame be apparent. Adriel stayed stoic while he got dressed in a soft burgundy tunic. He had a plan in mind and it was his only hope. If he knew Teo enough, it might just work. The Horus was beautiful and a mastermind. He had many supernatural abilities, but if Teo couldn’t move his ass without being followed by his bodyguard and was now using Kleos as a weapon, that meant in a fight, the Prince wasn’t so strong and confident about his skill. Adriel was in his, and so, maybe it was a way to escape.

Without blowing a fuse he accepted being led to his place at the table, Machaon still nowhere to be seen. Dinner was almost over and a glance at Mikelle, who was eating like no tomorrow, showed the punishment had been raised, even if the 24 hours wasn’t over yet. A huge fire roared in the center of the room. Guests leaned over the table to languidly roast mouthfuls of food on ornate skewers. Mikelle threw a look back over his shoulder and glared when he saw him, but Adriel refused to be impressed. The young man's soft, red mouth and sun-kissed skin might have seemed warm, except for the roaring fire that framed him. The contrast against his pale hair made his blue eyes stand out in shadow like chips of ice. He was naked except for his earring and his chastity device, like many other pets. Mikelle was so gorgeous and so evil. But as for the beauty and the evilness, Mikelle was only an apprentice in comparison of Teo. 

The Horus crowned Prince was still on his couch, watching Adriel like a hawk while he was playing with the beak of his pipe.

“May I come near the Sacred Son?” he asked Ipy’s servant, who was leading him.

“It’s too early,” the servant protested. “Besides, that isn’t your choice, but…”

“What is it?” Teo inquired, stretching his body lazily.

“Divine Light, this unworthy person asks to go to your side.”

Teo made a languid move with his hand, motioning the servant to allow Adriel to climb onto his stage, but from the side of his eye, Adriel caught a glimpse of movement. Bast was ready to lunge at him at any suspicious touch. He smirked; Teo was indeed not confident in his fighting skill. How he was dragging on his pipe was making him even weaker.

He respectfully knelt near Teo’s face and the other raised an eyebrow before blowing some smoke in his face.

“So?” Teo asked. Without waiting for a reply, he continued, stretching out a hand to pat Adriel’s head. Adriel held back his first instinct to slap the wrist away and Teo smiled with complacency. “I learned your blood type is B-positive. A long favorite of mine, but there are less people of this type lately.”

“Cut the crap,” Adriel whispered, grinning to deceive the one observing them and Teo leaned down his head, like he was allowing a kiss, but Adriel saw the eyes shining with real amusement. The Horus hadn’t been fooled a bit by his docile act. They knew each other well by now.
“I’m here to make a bet, with you.”

He could see the Horus’s surprise by the way he leaned his head to the side.

“A bet? That’s interesting. I’m overjoyed you want so badly to play with me,” Teo teased, stroking Adriel’s hair like he was some sort of dog.

“Fuck you, you rapist,” Adriel growled lowly and he feel a warmth of pride when he saw the shock in the golden eyes. He wasn’t sure if Teo would play a fair game, but he saw no other hope. “I’m here to challenge you. You are sure a smug son of a bitch. Let’s spar. You alone, not with the help of your two damned souls.” Teo nodded in agreement, interested to know more. “If I win, you loan me an aircraft and let me leave this planet.”

“Sparring? This is what you’ve got?” Teo asked, bewildered, but in a very loud voice. Indeed, whispering too long would look suspicious. “And what if I win? You get to leave my harem, you ungrateful pet, if you win, but what do I get if you lose?”

“I stay a day more, until I beat you,” Adriel said boldly.

“This ungratefulness breaks my heart,” Teo exclaimed loudly, waving his hand to get rid of him and Kleos appeared to bring Adriel back to his place where he was forced to sit down.
Teo took a drag on his pipe and after releasing a puff of smoke he gave Adriel a teasing smirk.

“I accept your challenge.”

 

 

Chapter Text

The second part of the evening that Adriel didn’t get to see the day before because of his punishment started at the sound of a gong. The music became louder and some guests rose to go dancing while others dove in the pool. Adriel stayed there at the table and wondered what Teo would do. The pool where the other pets were was to the other side of the Prince’s stage and so, the Horus needed to choose a direction to look. The Horus’s smirk showed that the Prince was guessing Adriel’s intention. As a compromise, or maybe he always did it, Teo lay flat on his back, a languid leg over the edge of lounge, balancing in an inviting manner from Adriel’s view and he continued to smoke his water-pipe, but his face slightly turned toward the pool, appearing to ignore the stubborn pet at the table. Adriel couldn’t help but take in the details of the Horus’s body again. He was only wearing a very short platinum-colored kilt and Adriel thought of Mikelle’s hair earlier, surrounded by the flames from the feast.

The fire had diminished now that the meal was over, but the embers were still burning, giving a bronze tone to the Horus’s fine legs, enhancing the smooth skin and the hard muscles. In a flash, Adriel pictured himself licking his way up from the knee to the ultimate prize between the thighs. He imagined breaching the almost virgin hole with as much as roughness as Kleos had given him, possessed by the Horus’s perverted mind. Well, he wasn’t even sure if that was the case. Teo had looked surprised to be called rapist, he thought back, but fantasies took over his mind. He looked at Teo’s hips and pictured them snapping as Mikelles’s did with the gold dildo. He imagined that supple body twisted and spreading, opening eagerly to be filled. It was a heretical thought about the Horus and Adriel knew he could get sentenced for that. But Adriel had denied desiring him so many times that nobody could suspect it, except the Horus himself who wasn’t fooled by his refusal since he was an arrogant bastard. Teo could have denounced him years ago, but it looked like the Prince was rather amused by it and was maintaining the fire in him on purpose, the damn cock-tease.


Suddenly, being ignored weighed heavier on Adriel than being taunted, but he chastised himself for having such thoughts. It was a great moment to observe, he decided. He couldn’t see very well what was happening in the pool, because Teo was blocking his sight. He could see the dancers more to the right side of the pool. Their dance was sensual but he noticed how the guests were careful to not touch each other. The Prince didn’t seem to pay them any kind of attention from what Adriel could see and after a moment, they also dove in the pool, leaving Adriel with nothing more to watch.


He looked around. Machaon hadn’t come back yet and he was very worried. Ipy was standing near the wall with the others, with a very self-pleased expression and shame made Adriel’s cheeks burn. Was the fat eunuch still thinking about Adriel’s moans? Well, from what he remembered, he had managed to hold back any whimpers, but who knew? The fact was the humiliation of being taken in this way, watched by so many people, had been as sharp as the pleasure he got from having his cock pumped so strongly. He flushed again at the memory and his eyes flicked over the Prince. Teo had his head leaned to the side and their eyes met. The Horus’s face was inexpressive, but Adriel saw his pupils growing wider, to the point that only a thin golden ring was still visible. Adriel looked away, uneasy as usual before the supernatural traits of Teo. He knew that when the Prince was aroused it would happen, but it was still disturbing, and another reason to never had sex with the real Teo in the flesh. It made him remember the time on the barge, when the Horus was fucking a corpse. That was a memory that would never fail to make him gag. Who would want such an alien monster as a lover? It was beyond him that he alone felt that way.  

 “Ipy!”


The Prince called his Eunuch in Chief in a loud voice which froze everybody, from what Adriel could see. Ipy ran to the Horus as fast as his fat allowed him, looking already drenched in cold sweat. 


“My Highness, First Son of the Sun, what may my miserable person do for you?”


Teo stirred on his bed and he sat up, his legs spread straight in front of Adriel, whose throat grew dry with desire. The Prince was wearing nothing underneath, like a sub among humans, to have sex more quickly and conveniently. He felt the burning gaze on him and realized he had been caught staring. Adriel fidgeted in his chair. Why he was sitting there so obediently, anyway?


“Ipy, I must say that I’m very satisfied with your work,” the Prince said and the round, painted face of the Eunuch split in a big, blissful grin, but Adriel knew better. Teo was up to something. “The pets under your care always meet my expectations. When I look at them, my heart and eyes are pleased. I will tell you right away, prepare the two of them for my bed tonight. I feel an appetite tonight enough to give satisfaction to more than one pet.”


The golden irises rolled toward Adriel and he caught a glimpse of a smirk on the Royal’s lips. From what he could see and that he already knew, it wasn’t usual to announce in the open who the Prince wanted as bed partners. The fact that he was acting this way must have had a purpose. Did the little fucker hope to make him jealous, Adriel wondered furiously? He wasn’t, and he would show him. 


Adriel rose up and stretched his stiff muscles. He could go swim in the pool, right? Maybe the water would remove the oil from his body and he would be able to think more clearly. Mikelle must be over the moon, he guessed. He would have another fierce night with the Horus. But he preferred to bear with Mikelle’s boasting than support the heavy looks on him. 


“But I admit I’m dissatisfied with this one,” Teo stated in a very cold voice.


The long and sharp golden nail-guard was pointing toward Adriel before he could make three steps and he turned toward the Prince, stunned to be called out all of sudden. What was this cunning asshole plotting then?


“Your Grace!” Ipy was eager to explain himself now. “I deeply agree with you and since his arrival, I can’t help but wonder why such a rude animal is in here.”

“A  eunuch’s job is to tame misbehaving pets,” Teo retorted icily. “I remember having whipped this one yesterday and still, he has the audacity to challenge me in public. I admit such a behavior could be entertaining, and it wasn't like a mere human pet could win from me,” Teo snorted and Adriel felt his blood boil. “But still, his boldness shows a lack of discipline on the eunuch’s part. “


“This guest isn’t attributed to me,” Ipy stammered. “But I keep telling his eunuch to be more firm with him, but it seems he is taken with his guest, and is stubborn too. He keeps spoiling him rotten, having chats in his cell and bringing books, despite him being grounded, Divine Horus!”


“Is that so? Well, where is his eunuch? If you fail to make him obey you, I will make him hear reason.”


Uncertainty floated on Ipy’s face.


“I have already taken disciplinary measures, Light of Life.” Seeing the Prince silent, waiting for him to continue, Ipy swallowed and continued, probably sure the Prince would be grateful for his initiative. “I decided to anticipate your wishes and I ordered the Discipliner to give him one hundred lashes and then he was brought to the Sekhmet Hole.” 


Teo stood up, anger rolling in hot waves from him and Ipy took two steps back, his face pale with fear. Adriel’s heart pounded like crazy in his chest. He knew this punishment only from reputation but it sounded like right below outright death as a sentence.


“I see, but usually this punishment must be decided by me,” Teo spoke in a voice which meant to stay neutral, but a bone-chilling tone crept around the edges of it. “Well, it’s too late now, but bring him back to me. Just because he's already been punished once doesn't mean I can't do it anymore”


Adriel jumped with indignation at these words but the Prince glared at him with such furious eyes that even he was frozen.


But no one was more terror-stricken than the Eunuch in Chief.


“But, your Majesty, no one could walk into that place without being torn apart. Only Bast,” he started stammering, glancing at the female bodyguard. “She is their mother.”


“I’ll do it!”


Adriel realized after people looked at him in pure shock that he was the one having exclaimed these words. But his concern for Machaon was stronger than his fear of the unknown. He had survived the eerie solitude of the Hole of Seth. If he was honest, all his time in the pyramid had been bearable only because of the old man. If he was doomed to stay here, Machaon was still the only one who made it liveable. The place was probably filled with leopards like the ones wandering in the harem at night and Adriel would probably die from it, but it would be an honorable way to leave this world.


But the Horus only uttered a hiss of disapproval and didn’t even look at Adriel, watching Ipy like a falcon watching a mouse.


“Bast is mine to do with what I please,” Teo growled and Adriel glanced at the woman. She was in fighting position, he noted, ready to leap on the Eunuch and devour him at the snap of the royal finger and Adriel wondered again when their two paths met. “You don’t get to command her! You were able to shove him there, so you must be able to get him out.” he snapped, thoughtfully mad. 


The Eunuch fell on his knees and bowed to the point his forehead touched the ground, sobbing in apologies and pleas.


“Fine, I will get it by myself. You and your apprentice, come with me,” Teo declared and he climbed down of his stage. “You,” he told Adriel, “you will follow, since you are the cause of this from your recalcitrance. Commander!”


Kleos walked to the Prince, putting a knee down.


“You will stay here. Now, as Commander, you have the power to discipline every pet and staff member. I don’t need a Discipliner who goes behind  my back and follows orders I didn’t give.” The Discipliner, a bulky man, reached unconsciously for his whip, but Bast had snuck up close without anybody even noticing it despite her seven-foot height, and she snatched his wrist, breaking it in only one sharp move, and the Discipliner yelled in pain.


The pets in the pool looked like a flock of scared sheep while the Prince cursed under his breath about how dinner was spoiled. 


Adriel obeyed more out of concern for Machaon than to comply with the Horus. But he felt the Prince buzzing with an unknown energy. Teo wasn’t faking or playing around, and he was also curious to see what would happen.


They walked outside the main room and the doors were opening before Teo even reached them. There were guards behind each of them, Adriel’s brain noted. 


They climbed upstairs and arrived in front of a metal door, and when it opened, Adriel felt the fresh air on his face. They were outside, in what looked like an insanely wide terrace, lightened by what he knew was called electricity. From there, he could see Theba’s roofs as if it was daytime as he got closer to the edge. But they were in front of a tower with a door at the base. The Prince put a hand on the face of the door and shouted a word in another language and the bodyguard who was always silent growled.


Mews and roars could be heard as scratching sounded behind the doors and Ipy seemed to be on the verge of fainting. Adriel was probably pale himself. He always liked cats, but these didn’t seem like the regular alley ones he liked to pet. He wondered what cats could do to a human locked up with them, like Machaon seemed to be. He guessed it would depend on their number, their training, or how starved they were.


Teo turned toward them, his voice almost covered by the furious snarls and yowls from the other side.


“I’m going in there to bring him back,” he said, his eyes gleaming with anger. “Because in addition to being disobedient, you are a coward.”


Adriel knew the words were meant to Ipy, but they poked at his pride. 


“Stay behind, I’m going to get my friend back,” he said, taking a bold step forward, showing aside the useless Eunuch in Chief. “He is mine, not yours, and besides, if you got yourself killed, those ass-kissers of yours would be sad.”


Amusement shone briefly in the Horus’s eyes and Adriel wondered why he had done that. With Teo dead, he would probably be free to return to his former life. 

“Indeed, they would be sad, because all the Prince’s pets must follow him in death in a twenty-four hour period,” he mocked.  “They have to be buried with their master to pleasure him in the afterlife.”


“I’m sure as hell not your pet in any life,” Adriel hissed. “But better reason to protect your damn cocky ass. I want to live long enough to see your loser’s face.”


He stretched forth his hand to open the door but Bast stopped him by elongating her arm. Adriel locked eyes with her and again felt edginess. It was because her mask was hiding too much of her face, he realized. He couldn’t read them at all, except that they were bright as wildfire.

 “Neither Bast or myself risk anything,” Teo said. “We are their parents. But thanks for your concern,” he teased.


Adriel received the news like a ton of bricks. Parents? What the fuck did that mean? Was it only a figure of speech? He was still musing over it when the door was pushed open and Teo entered without any kind of hesitation. The place was pitch dark but from the doorstep where he was, Adriel could see hundreds of pairs of eyes shining through the dark and still saw the silvered kilt of the Prince. He heard something purr very loudly before Bast shut the door behind him.


Adriel was now in front of the door, with the Discipliner, Ipy, his servant and the bodyguard. Adriel wondered what could happen if he decided to make an attempt. He could sprint to the edge of the terrace, about 150 feet, and then, jump over the balcony. He had no idea of the height, since he was unconscious when he had been dragged into the harem. But if the harem was at ground level, they had just climbed up a story and one story height wasn’t a big deal. If he didn’t strain his ankles and if there were no guards waiting for him below the terrace, he could still run. The Prince wasn’t there and Bast had to watch the three other men as well while Kleos was busy babysitting the other pets. It was the best opportunity he could have, he supposed. But then, what would happen to Machaon? Was he still alive? Maybe his state required some medical care that the Horus wouldn’t give him  Adriel wasn’t around anymore?


The hesitation, even if it was short-lived make him waste his chance. The door opened and Teo stepped out, carrying a Machaon with his face covered in gore.


“They pierced his eyes,” Teo said, looking unimpressed. He was unharmed, Adriel noted. The only blood on the Prince was Machaon’s. “Cats, big or tiny, always aim for the eyes. I think the right one is a complete loss, but maybe the left one can be healed. They didn’t do much could the leader’s ones told them no. They didn’t get our approval and are more obedient than humans,” he snarled. “But I did give them my approbation for their next meal. Bast! Mihos.”


In a blink, the door swung open and a seven-foot-tall leopard appeared, walking on his hind legs, and Bast shoved the Discipliner and Ipy to him. The giant walking leopard grabbed one with his clawed paw, as big as Adriel’s head, while he had the other's neck between his jaws.


Someone, Bast or the Prince himself, closed the door, but Adriel was still shocked, his mind replaying scattered images of what had just occurred and Ipy’s torn-out throat. 


Bast was now carrying Machaon and Adriel saw the old man was indeed still alive. Relief flooded him despite the bone-chilling chewing sound and cracking bones he could still hear from the other side of the door. 


“Now, Ipy’s servant, tell me your name?” Teo asked and Adriel realized that this one was still alive and, considering the odor, had probably pissed himself.


“I’m Seti, your Immortal Grace, may you live ten thousand dawns,” the poor man, probably younger than Adriel was, stammered. 


“Now, you see what the fate of disobedient servants of mine is?” Teo snarled. “If I gave you the place of your master, would you follow his path or do as I tell you to do?”


The man threw himself to the Horus’s feet, swearing to have no other master than the Bright Horus, Divine Light of the Kingdom and other pompous titles Adriel didn’t bother to listen to. Teo told him that in addition to having charge over Ruby and Mikelle, Seti, the new Eunuch in Chief would be the one taking care of Adriel until his usual eunuch could heal. 


The man gulped, glancing at Adriel, not eager at all to take care of such a hard-headed troublemaker of a pet. But Adriel was too concerned to mock his lack of enthusiasm. Despite his uneasiness toward Bast, he grabbed the hand of the old man, squeezing it. 

 “I’m here, Mac,” he mumbled nervously. He couldn’t help but feel guilty about had happened to the old man. Machaon had warned him he couldn’t stay, but Adriel had aroused attention by prolonging their conversation. Machaon had lost his cock for Adriel’s sake and now, he had maybe lost his eyesight.


“He is unconscious,“ Teo said. “Bast will bring him to the infirmary. The doctor will take care of him.”


“I don’t want your perv doc for him,” Adriel snapped, his nerves taking over the best of him. Why did the Prince let him see this horrific show? “I want a real doctor.”


“Aten got pretty excited for the first pet’s check-up in the hamman, I’ll give you that, but he is a very capable doctor. Trust me on this or...” Teo’s voice turned polar cold. “…you will be Mihos’s next meal.”


“What was this Mihos?” Adriel asked but the Prince and Bast were returning to the dining hall, racing with long strides, and Seti turned to him, his look still haunted by the dreadful images of Ipy’s death. He was his apprentice. How many years he had served Ipy and how he was feeling to have seen his immediate master devoured?


“You, hurry up! I’m sure not ending up as a cat treat because of you!”


Of course Adriel would turn out to be the hated one, even if he had no part in Ipy and the Discipliner’s fate. But before he reached the main room, the new Eunuch in Chief held him back at the stair.


“Tonight you do like the others do,” Seti insisted. “This is not hard. You play volleyball in the pool or dance or whatever until curfew. Don’t let yourself be remarkable. Anyway, Mikelle and Ruby are the ones named to entertain the Horus tonight. It's useless to try to catch his attention or seduce him with your hard-to-get act. Anyway, the Horus is too smart to fall for that!”


“Believe what you want, but it’s not an act,” Adriel hissed lowly, shoving the man away. “I explained until I was blue in the face to your dead master I wasn’t interested in being chosen by the Prince. I only want to leave this place.”


“No one can leave here. If your purpose is too irritate the Prince and get kicked out, forget it already. The Prince would bleed you dry of his own account or give you to Bast. You see what is living in her den,” the man said, quivering hard.


Adriel stayed silent. He would have nightmares of what he had just witnessed, that was for sure.  Indeed, the Horus was terrible under his shiny envelope and perhaps Adriel was trying to play a game he couldn’t win. 


When they arrived in the dining room, everything was like nothing had happened. The pets were still in the pool, playing with a ball they smashed over a net, separating the pool in two and Adriel supposed it was the so-called volley-ball game. Kleos was watching over them from the edge of the pool and the Horus was smoking again. Adriel supposed that Bast had brought Machaon to this so-called doctor.


Adriel was brought by Seti to the edge of the pool and uncertain, Adriel removed his tunic with a slow gesture.


“You can’t join their game,” Teo exclaimed over the noise of splashing water. “There are even players on each side. Come play Senet with me.”

 Adriel stopped undressing, now only in his loincloth. Seti ran to get the game and Adriel had no choice but to climb up onto the stage. The Horus looked unbothered by the previous event like he didn't send two loyal employees to death. Adriel might not be fond of Ipy, but the eunuch looked like he had taken his job seriously. But Adriel guessed that for the Horus, life and death were not important matters.

 The board was posed on the Prince lap and so, Adriel was forced to stay kneeling. Damn, senet was a long game and after ten minutes he was cursing the pain in his knees. 


“You want to challenge me each day until you win and I agreed to this,” Teo said moving his pawn. But let us make a deal. We can spar at sunrise and play a board game at night. If you win a sparring match you can leave but, if I win a board game, I can ask you something.” 

 “I won’t have sex with you,” Adriel blurted out and Teo smirked, probably having expected it.

 “It’s not like I was lacking for partners,” he teased, glancing briefly at the pool. “But I won’t ask you to have physical relations with me. I already promised you that. I prefer waiting for you to beg for it.”

 What Teo asked was fair, but Adriel didn’t want to agree without having won something.


“What it was?” he asked blunty, knowing the Prince would know what he was referring to. “Is Machaon alright?”

 “The old man is at the doctor’s, and Mihos is my first-born son,” Teo commented without looking at Adriel, his focus solely on his five pawns. “Never talk to me about it, ever again. This is an upsetting matter to me.”


Adriel stomached the news and nodded, too in shock despite that his mind was now full of questions and silence settled between them while Adriel mused over the revelation. His first born son? Did that mean the Prince has other children? But if this leopard monster was, that meant only one mother was possible. Subtly he looked around but the Sekhmet woman wasn't there. Did they have this  relationship when she was alive, he wondered? How could Teo have gotten hard with her?, he thought with a shiver. Did Teo turn her into a zombie as punishment for having given birth to such a monster with nothing human except the ability to walk?


Adriel decided to focus on his game, knowing that he couldn't have answers to these questions, anyway. From instinct, he knew that he couldn't use this to taunt the Horus back. It was something that Adriel would never come back alive from if he dared.

 The only moment Teo spoke was after the gong had been rung by a servant and curfew was announced. He asked Seti to prepare the two pets he wanted for the night.


“I’ve finished my game and I’m going to my room,” he said and all the guests and eunuchs left the place. They were alone except for Kleos when, with frustration, Adriel realized the Horus had won, fair and square.


“What do you want, then?” he grumbled and Teo motioned him to sit by him. Adriel complied because his knees were throbbing and he didn’t want to appear to be a sore loser.


“What about a kiss?” Teo murmured and without giving Adriel the time to react, Teo crushed his lips to his, letting him taste the gold of the rod in his tongue. The cavity was smooth besides that and the taste of it was strange, this mix of sweet and spice. It was like remembering something and Adriel deepened the kiss to know what it was. It was addictive and he craved for more, yanking the Prince toward him. He ran his hands all over Teo’s body. It was as firm and as soft to caress as Adriel had imagined, and Teo's hair, now disheveled, smelled good. The scent of it was going straight to his head and groin, making him crazy with lust. He rubbed his crotch against the Prince above him, remembering from earlier he was naked there. He still had that damn device on, but Teo could remove it, couldn’t he? 

The Prince gave him a smug smirk and Adriel kissed him again on his own to wipe it away. 

He decided to push Teo on his back but then, he noticed that the piercing wasn’t the only sharp object and Adriel could also feel the fangs in his mouth. It was at that moment, his brain kicked in and he noticed that they had been making out for a while already, in the open. But it wasn’t what was the most shocking. He was acting like a horny animal when he just witnessed Teo being an even bigger bloodthirsty monster than he thought and that poor Machaon was maybe blind for life. Adriel thought with his dick and was ashamed of it.

 Teo looked at him with hooded black bedroom eyes, his knol having leaked a little, giving him an even more forbidden 'do me' face. It was the first time he hadn't been put off by the eyes and the idea frightened him.


“No sex, you said!” Adriel snapped, angry with himself for having gotten carried away.


“We didn’t have sex and it wasn’t my intention to,” the Prince denied, but with a teasing smile. “You were the one all rapey on me.”


The word ‘rapey’ remind him of his so-called check-up and he was about to talk back when a guard struck his staff on the ground to signify someone would enter.

 “Your  Highness, the guests you have honored with your choice await you in your chambers," Seti announced, entering.

“I have just finished my senet game, I’m going to my bedroom,” the Horus said and when he got up, Adriel realized the Prince was still half hard from their kiss and he felt punch drunk to know, the Prince had been so reactive to his touch. “I need to wash; make the pets wait. The Commander will take this one to his room and take care of yours guests after.”

Kleos was now by his side and Adriel again checked to see if there was something still there of his past General. The former Kleos would have been mad to see his unrequited love being kissed and groped by another man, but the Commander's face was expressionless. 


They passed by Ruby and Mikelle, dolled up and cheerful, and jealousy hit Adriel hard. They would get to touch and kiss the Prince while he was led back to his doghouse. Mikelle stuck out his tongue at him like a child, and Adriel barely contained himself to not bitch slap him.


It was only in his room that he kicked over a table in front of an unimpressed Kleos.


“That motherfuker won tonight but tomorrow, I will beat him. He won’t get off for rubbing his bitches in my face! And you,” he spat in Kleos’s face. “I want to see my friend tomorrow.”


The Commander gave a slight nod.


“Sparring is scheduled for 6 a.m. Sleep well instead of brooding out of jealousy. We will see each other in your dreams.”


“Fuck you! I’m not jealous of your sex dolls and if I dream of you, it’d be a nightmare!” Adriel snapped, now positive from Kleos’s smirk that Teo could hear him. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 That night, Adriel didn’t have any erotic dreams. He woke up covered in sweat with some still-lingering images of fangs, gore, and gouged eyes. He stayed confused a moment by the darkness around him, before realizing he wasn’t back in the Pyramid but in a harem. It wasn’t sunrise yet, but he caught a glimpse of the sky turning teal and he supposed it was around 4:30 a.m. and he remembered the morning sparring session.

His first thought was for the Horus. The lucky bastard must be spread in his bed, next to two other male bodies, the room filled with the scent of sex after a night having ridden both Mikelle and Ruby’s asses. Both of them must be bearing fang marks, too; the Prince probably needed to fill his stomach after having emptied his balls. Meanwhile, he, Adriel, couldn’t scratch his own dick even if it was itchy because of this damn device. He looked at his trapped cock with a scowl. He could use a good rubbing to alleviate his stress, too. But he wouldn’t complain about being horny when he didn’t know about Machaon’s state yet.

 He stood and walked to the screened door. The whole harem was eerily silent and his thoughts turned to the Sekhmet hole, where the huge cats were sleeping after a meal. Adriel quivered, hoping one day he could unsee that. Why had Teo dragged him there? It was easy to tell, he decided. Teo used this as intimidation material. Indeed, he told himself with disgust, even the Seth Hole was appealing in comparison. It wasn’t enough to turn him into an obedient puppet, but it was enough to teach him patience.

But if he beat Teo in the sparring session, all of this would have had the same consistency as his nightmare, just scattered images and blurred memories. But for that, in addition, to managing to beat the Prince, he had to hope he would play a fair game. Since the Horus had spoken of this challenge in a loud voice, he supposed that if Teo had honor, he would keep his word. The bastard hadn’t even hesitated to accept the challenge publicly like it was obvious to him he would kick Adriel’s ass. But it was nothing new that Teo was a smug prick.

Adriel went to the bathroom to take a piss and shower. He tried to avoid wetting the device. Who knew if it would fuck up the mechanism and he’d get stuck forever with it. If he won against Teo it would be the first thing he would get rid of. Adriel daydreamed a moment about how satisfying it would be if he could lock up Teo with it and change the PIN number. The Horus would have to beg to have it removed. Horny as Teo was, the Prince wouldn’t be able to bear chastity more than a half of a day before dragging himself on his knees in front of Adriel. He bit his lip, feeling his cock hardening in the device. It was painful and it made him even more determined to try to avenge himself before leaving this cursed planet.

 When he came out of the adjacent bathroom, the sky had shown the first signs of the sunrise.

 Adriel regretted not having Machaon with him at this time. The old man always had good advice and he would probably tell him something useful in anticipation of the sparring match. But the eunuch wasn’t there, fighting for his life because of Adriel’s selfishness and so, he had to think by himself. The first thing he needed to do was warm-up, he decided. He had an advantage over Teo. He slept well, despite his nightmare, and so his body had rested. The Prince was likely to have spent the night mating with his sex slaves and had smoked his pipe. Moreover, Teo wasn’t a man used to fighting if he was busy all day doing political shit and all night having sex. Not too long ago, he was trained mercilessly by Kleos. The Commander could have faked a lot of things, but the fact was he had been an efficient instructor.

 Adriel stretched his muscles and practiced some fighting moves to warm-up. Teo’s mental image was enough to give him strength and velocity for his punches. He wondered if they would have weapons. If that was so, he would ask to choose first, or to check the Prince’s. Teo was such a sick bastard that he could easily poison his blades or something to win.

 He was caught up in his thoughts of his imaginary fight when he heard a knock. Kleos was already there, having hit the door with his sword handle.

 “The Horus Crowned Prince is waiting for you on the terrace,” he said in a low, slow voice. “You have to hurry. The Prince has other duties afterwards.”

“Talking in the third person, now?” Adriel snickered. “You cocky son of a bitch. Maybe I will hit you so hard, you won’t have the energy to attend any duties!”

The Commander didn’t reply and unlocked the door, expressionless. He motioned to Adriel to follow him and turned his back, as if sure that Adriel would follow. Indeed, Adriel knew better than to attempt to run away and he guessed Teo knew it, too. The harem was still too much of an unfamiliar place and he wasn’t there long enough to have thought over of an escape plan.

While Kleos was leading him, he paid attention to his surroundings and he got the weird feeling the path had changed.

The first day from his door, he could see the main room by twisting his neck, but this time, he realized, the place couldn’t be visible from his cell. They also walked through a few screened doors but a curtain pulled from the inside prevented peeking inside. When he had walked to the beautician the first time, he had used another passage.

“Each day, some new walls rise from the ground and others are pulled in. Some turn ninety degrees to lead in another direction and some don’t move. The rooms aren't changed but the way to walk from one point to another change,” Kleos told him, his voice clipped. “No need for you to slow your pace and try to remember the way.”

 Adriel couldn’t believe such a refinement in the security but he had no choice but to accept the explanation. Royals had so much money that he wondered why he even had even bothered to be surprised. But if the security was so high level that could maybe mean a pet already succeeded in escaping.

“So, the Prince isn’t in too bad shape for a man having banged two other guys all night long?” he exclaimed, not wanting to look too deeply in reflection.

 But at the same moment, Kleos pushed open a door and the wind blew through Adriel’s curls. They were on the terrace again, but from a side door, he supposed.

“Ask the Prince yourself,” the Commander said. “He is at the practice field.” After a quick bow, Kleos turned his back and closed the door behind him. Now alone, Adriel took a few steps forwards, mesmerized by the sun rising from over Theba’s double walls that he could see despite the column in front of him. He was on a low stage, he realized, and climbed down the dozen stairs to be at the terrace level. The temperature was already hot for so early in the morning and Adriel realized that the temperature inside the harem was always pleasant and even and that he had even forgotten they were in the peak of the season when the heat was suffocating. Are they spoiled rotten, he sneered mentally. He looked around and didn’t see any Prince. Only fresh flowers, scattered on the ground to cover some luxurious carpet leading to the bottom of the terrace, all made in precious, rare ceramics. A wall was built at the edge to prevent falling, with a column every seven feet, each of them joined with some linen hangings. He turned to the door where he had come from for a reference point. A Horus statue was next to him, not of the actual Teo but an allegorical one with a hawk head. Next to the door was another door but with a grid, that seemed to lead to some private garden, from what he could see.

Taking a few steps forward he could see what was hidden from the spot near the door. It was a stage where a huge golden lotus-shaped throne stood, between two monumental falcon statues and surrounded by censers, perfume burners, and flower vases.

Adriel walked to the edge of the terrace to appreciate the height. A water channel ran around the whole terrace, but was only for decorative purposes and he had to jump over it to reach the edge. He leaned over the wall at his shoulder’s height to see from above and froze. He had never gotten close to the palace before. The closest he’d got was when he was at the barracks, three miles away of the Rising Sun Palace. He never realized the height of it, nor had it been built with cliffs around. But if he fell it would be from around five hundred feet, he realized, and so, he would end up with more than a mere strained ankle.

 He continued to walk the length of the wall, now remembering the day of the ceremony. There were stairs, leading to a terrace… maybe not this one, but this terrace looked to join another one a level lower, and maybe they would have, like, many lower levels until he reached one from which it would be less hazardous to jump. In any case, it wasn’t the same one he had been led to the day before. The tower where Bast’s offspring was was nowhere to be seen and Adriel felt his insides churn again at the memory. But even in his mind, he could only say Bast’s and not Teo’s. The Horus might be a monster inside, but Adriel couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea the Horus, who could have sex with any beautiful creature, would have chosen such a scary one.

 The second-lowest terrace was different. Where the first looked like an open-sky temple, meant for worshiping Teo as a god, the second one looked to be for the pets’ enjoyment with a pool and a few of what looked like sport or game fields and was more lively with the numerous palm trees from which he could see birds fly.

 “It’s about time!”

 Adriel snapped his head toward the voice. Teo was there and despite the heat, he was wearing much more clothes than usual and not in the cool colors he favored. He was wearing a long red robe with some gold ornaments: a loose golden belt with a spread-winged falcon as buckle at his waist and a heavy gold and garnet pectoral necklace. But there were no nail guards and he noticed that, indeed, the three fingers usually hidden by them had longer nails. His skin was still golden but in the full daylight and from so close, Adriel could tell it was the genuine skin of the Prince and not make-up. The Prince may have only used powder for enhancing it during special occasions, Adriel supposed, but so early in the morning the Horus had seen no point in dolling up. His general look was one of a rightful kingdom heir, taking his role seriously. He had nothing of the debauched man and twisted Prince aura he gave off usually. It was slightly troubling.

“Aren’t you wearing too many clothes and jewels to fight?” Adriel mocked, even if Teo wore more jewelry most of the time. “I don’t want you to complain it was the reason you lost.”

 “Pff, you are only disappointed to not be able to ogle me like you usually do,” Teo teased back. “The fact is I’m aware of this but I need to head to the other Palace in a very short time. Let’s say there is a dress code there.” Adriel frowned, not able to imagine someone like Teo bent to a rule. “Also, it gives you some kind of chance, I guess.”

 Adriel narrowed his eyes with anger in front of Teo’s overconfident display.

 “I’m maybe stronger than you believe. Maybe you should warn your daddy’s counselors you will be late.”

 “I know exactly what you’re worth,” Teo said idly. “I know you’re good. In addition to my loyal Commander’s daily report about your improvement, I get to see you every day.”

 Adriel stared, speechless. How was it possible? He never saw Teo at the barrack. Even incognito, nobody would have missed noticing such a gorgeous man.

“I don’t need to read minds like you seem to strongly believe to know what you are thinking about at the moment. You never see me because I have some secret powers.” Teo smirked because he was probably gaping like an idiot, Adriel thought. “I’m not sure I wanted to tell you and lose my advantage.”

Teo had admitted he was good and it was enough in Adriel’s book. He wouldn’t beg to know or ask questions to make the Prince think he was interested in him.

“I don’t give a damn about the Royals’ black magic... Let’s just start with the sparring already,” he growled.

Teo leaned his head, giving him a pretended mysterious glance.

 “This is not about Royals. This is about me. I can tell you something nobody knows for sure, but I do. I’m different from the others. I haven’t been made the same way.”

 Made? Teo was spouting nonsense, maybe to confuse him, Adriel decided.

 “It’s nothing new that you think of yourself as the center of the universe, Mr. Narcissist. The only thing unique I see in you is the size of your ego,” he snarled. “I’m here to fight and defeat you.”

“Now who is smug?” Teo mocked. “I just said I know your exact worth but you don’t know mine. You are not even interested in listening to the pointers I’m willing to give. Challenging an enemy you don’t know a single thing about is foolish and dangerous,” the Horus scolded, getting closer at each word. Teo had his hair in a bun again, perfectly combed and it looked fresh-washed. The Prince had probably taken a shower to cleanse himself of his lovers of the night’s scents. “You are lucky this is only me,” Teo continued. “If it was someone ill-intended, your survival chances would be low.”

 “Spare me the lecture!” Adriel snapped angrily. He just visualized what Teo would look like when he was messed up, covered in sweat and semen, disheveled, with leaking khnol. The Prince had shown that face to that blond brat a few hours ago and that made him mad with this proper version of the Horus.

 “Since you are so eager, let’s begin. I’m not sure how you want to do this. Weapons? Bare handed? Any other rules you have in mind?” Teo shrugged idly. “I’m not used to sparring. When I fight, I go for the kill.”

 “Don’t hold back on me,” Adriel spat through clenched teeth. He had no doubt about Teo being a cold-blooded assassin. “Weapons. You show me the choices and I choose first. I don’t want to get tricked by your venom.”

“I was sure you would ask that.” Teo gave him a complacent smile. “That’s the reason we’re here. The door there gives access to the weaponry.”

 Adriel hadn’t even realized the door was there, hidden behind the palm trees and columns, and followed the Prince. The wind was against him, he realized, blowing the Prince’s scent in his face. Today, it was herbal and slightly fruity which remind him of the cherries he ate before going to sleep.

“This armory has a door to the training field and one to the gymnasium inside. Most of the guests here train daily but armed sparring never happens without me requesting it. Nothing is more exhilarating than seeing two pets fight to the death to win me,” he said with a wink and Adriel turned livid.

“I’m kidding,” Teo exclaimed but Adriel wasn’t sure. It suited the Horus’s wicked personality to get enjoyment from such a bloody pastime. “So, there are many kinds of swords, spears, bows…”

“I’m taking this one,” Adriel decided on impulse, seizing the biggest one to check if the weight would slow him down. It was just fine, he decided, slicing in the air to test it. “What about you, your Gracious Majesty?” Adriel mocked.

“I guess you chose that because it reminds you of your cock, huge and powerful,” Teo snickered. “Well, I will take these” Teo said idly, grabbing two very short and curved dual swords. “Now what?” he asked again, rolling his shoulders and stretching his arms as a light warm-up.

Adriel hoped it wasn’t showing on his face, but he was actually quite surprised about how easy-going the Prince was, looking serious and honest in his dealings with him. First, he was there, despite this so-called busy schedule of his. Then, Teo was alone; there was no Commander or bodyguard and the Prince had allowed him the first weapon choice, and now, was waiting for his instructions.

There was no way Adriel would admit he hadn’t thought about it. Having Teo there, so close, looking more human than usual was making him almost look... reachable, like the day in the garden, two years ago, and it was making him lose his cool.

“I don’t want to kill you and get a sentence on my head,” Adriel said, making up his mind. “We will go up on your throne terrace. The first of us stepping into the water channel loses or the first drawing blood from the other wins. If I win, you call your Zombie Commander and order him to walk me to the exit and to an aircraft.”

 Teo nodded but with a cocky smirk on his face.

 “I’m kind of relieved you don’t want this to turn into a duel to the death,” he said. “I wasn’t looking forward to killing you after all the trouble I went through for you.”

 Grinding his jaws, Adriel didn’t reply and climbed the steps, awfully aware Teo was behind him. In one swift move, the Horus could end him since Adriel had his back turned. No need for such cheap shots for a good fighter. But Teo was calm, walking with an even step and it was with a smooth face that he took a defensive position in front of Adriel, waiting for his signal. It was only to lure him, Adriel decided. Teo would pull a dirty trick on him at the first chance the Prince got.

But Teo still quietly waited and Adriel wasn’t sure what to say in such circumstances and so, he rushed at his opponent, sword raised, with a war cry. But with a clanging sound, Teo’s shorter sword blocked his attack. Adriel lunged forward again, his sword always meeting with the Prince’s blade.

 Teo was moving with the agility of a rope dancer, always easily dodging any of Adriel’s strikes. The son of a bitch had reflexes, Adriel thought, tightening his grip on his sword handle before lunging again and getting blocked. They were only going in circles and Adriel wiped the sweat off his forehead, studying Teo from a few feet away, searching for an opening. It was then that he realized that not even once had the Prince been the aggressor. Teo was only defending himself, like he wanted to spare Adriel or something, and his pride hurt so much at this idea that he lost it.

“Fucking attack me already!” he bellowed. “I’m not a child or a sissy! I can take it!”

Teo chuckled, untying his bun and smoothing his hair from it, like Adriel was nothing more than a mosquito. It made Adriel tremble with rage.

“You can’t handle a sword, can you?” he snarled and Teo lowered his head to hide his snicker, riling up Adriel tenfold. “You can only defend yourself like a little bitch…”

At the same moment, Teo snapped his head up, his eyes dark and blank like two black holes, his mouth open in a silent scream showing his fangs and long tongue. The vision was so unexpected and so nightmarish that even if he was able to hold back a yelp, Adriel took two steps backward, making his left foot touch something wet and realization struck him hard when he looked down.

He had just stepped in the water and that just cost him the victory and only because Teo had scared him like he was a child. To say Teo was pleased with himself was an understatement and Adriel squared his jaw and straightened up, taking all the shame of his loss for such a stupid reason. He wouldn't give the Horus the pleasure of thinking Adriel was a sore loser. Because even if he was pissed he could admit Teo hadn’t cheated. He had played along with Adriel’s rules.

 “You surprised me,” he muttered, “I’ll give you that, you little monster, but that trick will only work once. Tomorrow, I won’t be taken aback by your ugly vampire face.”

Teo smiled without looking at him, swirling the dual swords and Adriel noted how easily Teo handled them, making them rotate effortlessly. This little display wasn’t purposeless, Adriel guessed. The Horus wanted to show him he could fight with swords just fine.

 “Well, tomorrow, I will find something else,” Teo grinned. “It’s not like I’m lacking for ideas. Don’t get discouraged,” he added. “You have still the board game tonight and then, daily sparring sessions for a long, long time. I’m sure you will improve, but fair warning…” The Horus gave him an evil smile, his eyes gleaming with mischief. “I have no intention to ever let you go so there’s no way I’ll lose.”

Adriel’s heart pounded hard in his chest and self-doubt brushed his mind. Teo was right about something… Adriel had no idea of the Prince’s ability and he envisaged with dread what his future would be, locked in this harem.

“You fought well,” Teo continued, “and so, I want to reward you. Let me show you my secret garden.”

At the word ‘reward’, Adriel had been close to barking at Teo to shove his reward up his ass, but curiosity took him. It must have been the garden that he had glimpsed. It was nothing threatening or fishy looking.

“I thought you were in a rush,” Adriel grunted.

 “I can just sit and enjoy the sun on my skin a bit,” Teo murmured, looking slightly sullen. “I will have to wear a mask all day.”

 It was true Royals were supposed to be masked and it was odd thinking that Adriel had barely seen the Prince with a mask.

 “I thought vampires couldn’t take full sun exposure,” Adriel said following the Prince absentmindedly. Teo had pulled a key out of his clothes and he was unlocking the grid.

 “I told you, I’m not like the others, but this is something we don’t want others to notice,” Teo said, his finger on his lip to show it was a secret and a weird feeling crept into Adriel. The Horus pushed the door open, motioning Adriel to follow and hesitation took him while he stepped in the garden. The place was secluded by high walls and by raising his head, he noticed no palace window was visible. It meant that at the moment, no one could see them.

 The garden had a pond with nenuphar and the biggest blue waterlilies he had ever seen. A waterfall was trickling from a stone wall with a sweet murmur. There was also a fountain, near a stone bench, surrounded by flowers, ivy and trees and from nowhere, a deer walked up to them. Adriel was bewildered by the animal appearance, having never seen such.

 “I have a zoo in this palace wing. I keep some animals that you can’t see in Theba and keep them with all they need in their natural environment. They are free to come into the garden. Thankfully, blue lotus’s smell isn’t appealing to them so they don’t eat it,” Teo explained. “You can pet them. They are not dangerous. I know you like animals and knew you would appreciate this.”

 Adriel carefully stretched his hand toward the nose of the foreign animal. He had only seen them in books and now, the grace of the animal was going straight to his heart, moving him. He must have done it wrong since the deer shifted his focus on Teo.

 “I prefer animals to humans; we are alike on this point,” Teo explained and the deer licked the royal hand, recognizing his owner.

 “We are nothing alike,” Adriel mumbled, refusing to be stirred by the gentleness in Teo’s hand. It was the same hand that held the neck of a man he had just killed, he thought, still haunted by memory flashes of the barge ceremony. “So, this is my reward?” he asked to look neutral, petting the deer’s head again.

 “No.”

 The Prince leaned toward him and with a sure move, unlocked the device, and next thing Adriel knew his cock was free.

 They locked eyes and something ran through Adriel until Teo opened his mouth, breaking the spell.

 “You real reward is to jerk off to your winner.”

Adriel couldn’t tell what did it, if it was the teasing comment, the smug look, or the shining eyes, but something snapped in his mind. Teo was there, alone, and he had left his dual swords on the bench a few feet from them. Nobody could see them from their spot and Teo was carrying the key on him.

With Teo dead, Adriel would be able to run and he would be rid of this too-long obsession at the same time. He didn’t think any further and leaped at the Prince, hands forward, going right for the neck, slamming Teo down while he squeezed the monster’s throat. Adriel knew he had a good grip and with a burning satisfaction, he saw the wide eyes of the Prince. Teo hadn’t seen this coming, he thought feverishly, and now the Horus would understand he had played the wrong man.

On the ground, Teo arched his back and was struggling and Adriel pictured a gracious butterfly getting caught by cruel kids because they grew curious and envious of its shiny wings. He choked down the voice in himself telling him he had acted like a coward and a sneaky traitor. Teo was probably waiting to do him the same when he grew tired of playing with him.

 It took him a moment, too caught up in watching Teo’s choking face to notice the hard flesh trapped between them. It wasn’t only him, Adriel realized even if he was a little ashamed to be turned on by someone else’s agony, even if it was his nemesis. Under his robe, the Horus was titanium hard and Teo was more gyrating his hips and trying to reach his own cock than struggling to get free and save his life.

The Horus Crowned Prince, the sick bastard, didn’t even want to fight Adriel for his own life. He preferred to use it as an opportunity to get off, rubbing his crotch against the one attempting to murder him. Adriel had no idea if it was the craziest thing ever or the hottest, ashamed to be so captivated by Teo’s twisted face. It was maybe that he looked like he did with his lovers: sweaty, messy and flushed; such a gorgeous sight that he didn’t want anyone to see but him.

 Teo was about to die or cum and Adriel knew that even if the Prince died, he wouldn’t ever be able to run away from this memory. The realization stunned Adriel, making him release the neck he was squeezing and he stumbled backward, scared of what he had just done or almost did and of his own aching hard cock. Damned was this cursed blood-sucker, but Adriel’s desire to know Teo’s core at least once was just too strong for Adriel to drop it. It would be a waste and he would deeply regret it, as absurd at that was.

Teo coughed, his fingers brushing his bruised neck. The edge of the golden pectoral collar must have made the choking even more painful.

 “You... idiot…” Teo managed to stammer, his voice hoarse and Adriel wasn’t certain if the Prince was calling him an idiot because he had tried to kill him or because he didn’t do it or maybe he was an idiot to not have just fucked him senseless on the ground. Suddenly, he guessed that Teo dragging him there wasn’t random or to show him the garden. Teo knew Adriel would make an attempt but the Prince looked pissed and an idea bloomed in Adriel’s mind. The Horus was still half-hard and maybe what the Horus had really hoped was not to get killed but to get jumped. It was crazy, he thought, while Teo was standing up, brushing off his red robe and his hair to wipe away the dirt and weeds with a scowl.

 “I read the Royal Oath,” he said slowly. Adriel needed to talk, feeling the atmosphere very tense. He wondered if he should apologize, but he felt inside of himself it wasn’t what the Prince wanted to hear. Teo wasn’t looking like a man offended to have been almost choked to death. Teo looked pissed like a lover being denied sex, he decided, even if he had never seen that, except for Mikelle, but the little pet didn’t count. Adriel wasn’t sure of his guess, being too inexperienced with love and sex matters. But why had he also unlocked his device, then? It was like the Horus had hoped Adriel would seize the opportunity for them to have sex, since the Prince had said he wouldn’t call him as a night partner, but wait for Adriel’s own surrender to his desires… All the times Teo had teased him about wanting to have Adriel’s cock filled his memory. Was it that all of these weren’t only teasing, but the truth? It would turn Adriel’s world upside down and he clung to the impossibility of it. “You can’t be a cat. It would cost you the kingdom, my Eunuch told me.”

“Your Eunuch knows little,” Teo replied, his voice clipped. “I’m a god among my people and control both sides of Theba. There is no way that what I do in my private time gets to the ears of the Ouranos Council, if I’m discreet enough. The Emperor is very fond of me.”

 It was the first time Adriel heard about the exterior political organization from someone knowing about it firsthand. Machaon looked knowledgeable but he had never been on Ouranos’s private Council and never met the Emperor like Teo did.

 “How is it?” he couldn’t help but ask. “I mean Ouranos.”

 Teo glared at him.

“I’m not in the mood to satisfy your plebeian curiosity,” he snapped.

 “What are you pissed at me for, to begin with?” Adriel shouted back. He just realized that in his explanation, Teo hadn’t denied wanting to be a sub. It was even quite the opposite and his heart missed a beat, remembering the Prince’s face when Kleos was thrusting into his body. But he needed to hear it loud and clear from the royal mouth. “Are you mad I tried to kill you or that I didn’t pound into you like you seemed to want? Eager for my cock that much?” he roared, now feeling a desire of dominance flaring into him.

Now that he looked at him, all that he had found attractive in “Aelurus” was still there. The silky jet-black hair, the gorgeous eyes with such a rare hue, the sensual lips and the flawless and supple body, with a color recalling warm honey. Instinct had told him the guy was a bottom and that their bodies would be highly compatible. Then, he had felt tricked to see Teo was from the hated Royal species. He still hated Royals, he decided, and even more the Royal bastard in front of him, but if Teo was willingly offering himself, he was a fool to not taste him at least once. Kleos had been killed to have this honor, but Kleos had been the one begging for it. But right now, Adriel wasn’t the beggar and the idea that such a breathtaking and powerful creature, spoiled rotten by an army of servants and sex dolls, worshipped by millions of his people, wanted him, a mere human, gave him the effect of a sucker-punch in his guts. He tried to hold back his excitement at the discovery and chastised himself. He was maybe misreading Teo, or he was setting a trap to have a reason to punish him. The memory of the Sekhmet Hole was still vivid and besides that, Adriel was confident the Prince was pretty creative when it came to punishment.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Teo hissed and his almond-shaped gleaming eyes were giving him the expression of an angry cat. “For having been that foolish, you need a punishment,” he declared, like he was reading Adriel’s mind and he wondered again if he had been foolish for the murder attempt or to not have fucked the Prince. “I could deny you access to the Eunuch you like so much to punish you but you are so misbehaved that I won’t do that.” Adriel’s heart jumped at the idea of seeing the poor old man again. “I have been neglecting the female pets too much and so, I will attend the gynaeceum for the next week.”

Adriel scoffed. Being freed from Teo’s presence wasn’t a punishment in his book.
“That also means no sparring.” Adriel protested but the Prince shushed him with a glare. “We will spar again when you are able to lose gracefully and not sneak up on me,” Teo exclaimed stiffly before throwing him an object. “Here’s the key of the garden. The only ones having one are the gardener, who also takes care of my animals, the Commander, and the doctor. No one will disturb you here, if you want to read or draw or pet the animals. But this is also where the Royal variety of blue lotus grows and since it’s a powerful drug, you need to lock up behind you each time. Don’t lose the key, either”

 Adriel looked at the key in his hand with the end shaped like a lotus and felt bad. Why did the Prince entrust him with this, he wondered? He almost killed him and the Horus was giving him a key to what looked like a private place.

“Why are you giving me this?” he asked, his voice thick like he had been the one strangled.

“I told you. My palace is huge and I won’t come to this Palace wing for a while.” It was bullshit, Adriel decided. Even if the palace was huge, it wouldn’t take the Prince more than fifteen minutes to walk there, he bet. “I’m the one who pets the deer every day. I don’t want them to feel lonely,” he replied, his voice clipped. “I’m leaving, now. Don’t fight the Commander when he puts your chastity lock back on. I don’t have the energy for this with my morning meeting with the Amun Priest at the Regem’s Palace.”

 Teo didn’t wait for his answer and he walked away with nervous long strides, leaving Adriel crushed by an odd feeling, a mix of shame, longing and relief. Teo’s presence was affecting him too much and after each of their encounters, he felt raw. When he was alone, he sat on the bench and looked around, taking in details of the precious flowers and the birds with bright colors and the calming sound of the waterfall, the only thing breaking the silence other than the birds chirping. A squirrel came near and sniffed his foot and all the beauty of the place jumped to his eyes. It was like a forbidden paradise. It was weird to feel such intimacy and calm in a crowded palace in the middle of a populous city. It was the best place for a first lovemaking, Adriel realized and also, a recall to the first time he kissed Teo. The Prince knew he liked animals even if Adriel didn’t know how he knew and he must have guessed that Adriel loved gardens too, since they met in one. Or maybe, Adriel’s overworked imagination made it all up, making him believe what he still wished despite all that had happened since then.

Teo was still for him as tempting as a ripe peach, an appealing forbidden fruit, growing in a secret, almost virgin garden. A secret garden he had the key for.

His cock was still hard, he realized and Kleos would come soon to put the device on him. Maybe Teo was also in a hurry to leave and was just next to the entrance door, working furiously on his own swollen shaft, biting his fist to not let out a single whimper for Adriel to know what he was up to. The image was so lifelike that his hand reached for his own cock, pumping it with strong pulls. He closed his eyes, his mind still recalling Teo with some weeds in his hair, flushed, with his back arched. The image was so striking, his climax came very a few moments later and his cum splattered in the pond. The squirrel, scared off by the jerky movements or his labored breathing, had already run away.

 When he opened his eyes, Kleos was there, the chastity device in hand.

 

 

Chapter Text

It took a few hours for Adriel to find out in which way the Horus’s absence would be considered a punishment. What Machaon had told him was true about the relative liberty the pets had in the harem. After Kleos had put the chastity lock back on him, Adriel was left alone. He could walk on the terrace and, out of curiosity, he opened each door he saw. None was locked and he discovered the library and the gymnasium. No one was there to prevent him from stepping in or touching anything and with amazed eyes, he touched the machines in the gymnasium. They were the kind of machines humans used to stay in shape on Earth before, but Adriel had no idea how to use them. He sat on one with some pedals like he had seen in the barracks and he started pedaling. It was amusing, he decided and he put more energy into it. There was also a clock on it and this time marker was a blessing to his mind. He remembered Machaon's advice about how losing track of time was the worst that could possibly happen to the mind of a prisoner. After having used the machine for thirty minutes, he tried a few others with eagerness and he realized that each of them was designed to work out specific body parts. He had tried out several when Seti arrived.

“The Commander told me you were here. You didn’t have breakfast but it’s not like you deserve it anyway,” he exclaimed angrily. “The Horus warned me he won’t attend our Harem for a while!!! He just started to visit us daily again and then you chased him away with this stubborn spirit of yours!”

“I did nothing at all,” Adriel lied, shrugging, but he mused over the words that had escaped the new Eunuch in Chief. Teo had just come back to visit the male harem. Was it because Adriel was there? But did that mean Teo’s preference leaned toward women? Adriel couldn’t call him for that. A female body was a forbidden fantasy for a human like him, out of the mating supervised by the Lumens. He had always been curious about it but Adriel couldn’t help but feel a pinch of jealousy. He wasn’t sure what he was more jealous of and preferred to not let his mind linger on that. “If your Prince was craving pussies, don’t blame it on me.”

“I’m sure you are the cause of it,” Seti hissed. “You had this foolish sparring match with him this morning and the Prince wasn’t his cool, usual self when he came back from it. He was happy and satisfied with your brothers in my care, Mikelle and Ruby.”

“Those two aren’t brothers of mine,” Adriel muttered

“You are the three under my direct supervision until your Eunuch heals so they are! We are like a family and you should feel solidarity at least!” Seti scolded. “I asked them how the night was and Mikelle was positive he was off to a great start to be favorite!” the voice of the man shrieked and Adriel remembered what Machaon had told him about it. Each eunuch’s ambition was to have his pet chosen as the favorite. Adriel wondered why this man wished so much from Mikelle. The blond pet was an ungrateful bitch and there was no way Seti had any control over him or got anything from Mikelle’s favor. But Seti seemed to think otherwise, still incensed on Adriel’s account. “The Horus Crowned Prince had no reason to leave us for women except if you did something!”

Adriel didn’t reply and wiped his face with a towel hanging on the wall.

“So what if he left? It makes your job easier, right?” Adriel mumbled with indifference. “You won’t have to kiss his ass.”

The slap across the face surprised him and he touched his face in wonder. It stung but the hit had been too weak for a man used to hard training and sparring to hit back.

“Watch your tongue! When the Horus isn’t here, our treatment is different. We have no meat and no wine, nor blue lotus powder. The beauticians don’t do massages and a few other entertainments are forbidden!”

The eunuch looked so distraught for such a cheap punishment that Adriel couldn’t help himself and held back a snicker.

“Addicted much? Who knew a eunuch could be such a lush? Well, I’m not the one who will miss that stuff.”

Indeed for Adriel, Teo, as well as wine and blue lotus powder, were too dangerous for him, making him unable to think straight. Having none of those was kind of a relief in Adriel’s opinion.

“I’m not,” the eunuch protested. “I eat meat and I admit liking wine, but we never get more than two cups. Blue Lotus is forbidden to us. But the other guests won’t be of your opinion. Many wait impatiently for the time when the Prince shares some of his precious ground flowers. Thrice a week the Prince does, even when he isn’t attending the harem. It was supposed to be tonight but he left with the order to not give any of it!” Seti exclaimed. “I will be the one dealing with their bad mood because they won’t get any! He also sometimes gives permission to remove the chastity locks when he is here, but now, of course, he won’t! All the guests will turn needy without anything to scratch their itch and without the Prince and Bast nor a Discipliner or my poor deceased master, they will turn mean and vicious!”

Adriel was still unimpressed. Teo used those so-called privileges to control his pets even more. The scheme was obvious and it made Adriel tenfold determined to not use it.

“Well, the Commander is here to discipline and he is not a someone you joke with,” Adriel replied. “Also, aren’t you there too?” he added, mocking.

“When the other guests know you are the cause of it, we’ll see if you find it so funny!” Seti threatened, pointing at Adriel. “Don’t count on me to protect you from their fury! This new Commander might be scary, but he may have his hands full with all the harem guests and staff to deal with!”

Adriel snorted derisively. A bunch of effeminate guys craving some drugs couldn’t worry him. They could bring it on, it would make a nice distraction.

Seeing Adriel didn’t care the slightest, Seti stormed off, leaving him alone in the gymnasium. He decided to try out some other machines until he didn’t feel like training anymore. Then, Adriel decided to continue his exploration of the harem. It was a great opportunity to try to find a weak point from which he could escape one day. Now that he thought about it, what Seti just told him took on a new dimension. From what he understood, the security would be reduced without the Prince. The two people he feared the most, Bast and Teo himself, wouldn’t be there. The Sekhmet girl put him off just by her foreign presence. On the aircraft, when he had tried to steal it, he had seen her fight and obviously she had received orders at the time to not hurt him but he could tell she was a formidable opponent and she wouldn’t ever disappoint her master by letting him run away. She was also another pair of eyes for the Horus. Teo himself was the biggest threat. The guy was just too smart for Adriel’s good and he had to admit his focus went down the gutter whenever he saw the Prince. But now that the Horus was gone and the harem was low in staff, maybe Adriel had a possibility. Kleos was still there and through him, the Prince could watch over his pets, but how did this possession thing work? If Teo was busy with real kingdom issues, maybe he couldn’t have his full focus on what happened in the harem and like Seti said, Kleos was only a man, and well, a dead-man who couldn’t control all the people he looked after here at once. If the other pets made trouble, it would serve Adriel’s purpose just fine. He would use the Commander’s distraction to escape.

But what about Machaon? He couldn’t leave with his friend here. The poor man gave Adriel all his knowledge and care, only to lose his dick and eyesight. If the man refused to follow him, Adriel wanted to at least say a proper goodbye to him. He still had time. Teo, the arrogant idiot, wasn’t coming back for a few days in this foolish attempt to punish him.

There was a sink and Adriel drank some water from the tap and splashed some on his face. He tried again to wrap his mind around what had occurred earlier. Now that Teo wasn’t there, Adriel wasn’t sure of his theory anymore. The Prince looked like he wanted to be his sex partner like Adriel had wanted him to be the first time they met. Of course, if Teo had been a human and willing, they would have been lovers. At the time, Adriel was thirsty to know about sex and love, but mostly to have someone to make his gritty reality livable. But since then, Adriel had lived and now he knew that happiness was something he wouldn’t find in Theba. Tasting the Prince’s flesh would be a high, even more now that he knew it was dangerous and well, if the Horus begged again for it, maybe Adriel could give it to him. But then, what was next? Teo was obviously a guy so jaded about his position he needed to risk it and he was so used to worship he wanted to spice it up in bed with a man who hated him. What was with that hard-on when he was choking? It was sick. Adriel could have killed him and now he almost regretted to not having done it, but still, Teo had been turned on. Were there people who got off on pain? And then, what about himself? He had been excited as well. It was probably because of Teo’s amazing twisted face, he decided. Even in agony, the man was too enticing. Anyway, admitting he would give the Prince what the asshole wanted, what would happen to him afterward? Since it was forbidden, maybe the Prince would want to be sure of his silence by killing him or turning him undead as he did with Kleos. The Prince would use the momentum, while Adriel would be too jello-boned from his orgasm to still have his fighting reflexes. Adriel was filled with dread at the thought of knowing the same fate as the Commander. He preferred to die than to be only a mindless flesh envelope filled with Teo’s evil soul.

But he knew it was the Horus’s unique possibility to be assured by Adriel’s silence. He knew firsthand Adriel wasn’t obedient. He would have his kink to be dominated once in his life (the time with Kleos didn’t count, since Teo only did it to keep his word, having never been interested in his Commander) and then, would end him, in one way or another. What he wanted two years ago, to be soulmates and life partners with this beautiful stranger, couldn’t happen. There was no way a happy ending would come from their mating. Now he knew better about Teo’s ruthless personality.

His best chance of survival was to keep refusing the tempting Royal until he found a way to escape. But to find a way to escape, he had to explore.

The first room he stepped in after the gymnasium was the library. He looked quickly around. There were bookshelves everywhere, which held books of all sizes and colors. A long table was in the center of the room with a few chairs. A wide screened window lighted the room and Adriel glanced through it. He could see glimpses of the terrace but besides that, only the Palace’s exterior walls. No one could see him and anyway, even if a guard or someone walked by, what could they say? Nobody would stand against the Horus Crowned Prince and try to make him escape. Being a Royal Pet wasn’t a fate feared by common people. Adriel knew that people thought like Mikelle about it. Pets were groomed, pampered with precious clothes and jewels and fed delightful meals, without a care in the world. They couldn’t be free; the Palace was a golden cell, and well, he had to admit that, indeed, for someone like Mikelle, one wouldn’t feel like a prisoner at all. Adriel was wandering freely at the moment, wasn’t he? He looked down at his groin, glaring at the chastity lock. No, he wasn’t free. He didn’t blow a fuse when Kleos had put it back, not to comply to the Horus but because he was still in the afterglow of his jerking-off. He had wondered if Teo could see him at that moment, flushed, his cock slippery with cum, but the Commander had remained expressionless.

He glanced around him again. He loved to read but he still had the books Machaon lent him in his room. It reminded him that seeing his old friend should be his first goal. He left the library and followed a long hall and turned to the left to discover a room whose purpose was not very clear at first sight. It was dark and the place was filled with seats facing a black screen on the wall. He decided to turn back, but then got lost a moment and wound up at a dead end.

After some wandering, he smelled a weird odor and after having opened the door he found himself in what looked like an office with a desk. His heart raced while he looked at his surroundings. It was certainly the perv doctor’s office, considering the images of bodies covering the wall and the cot with a tray next to it. But then, where was Machaon? Next to a mirror, there was a door and Adriel pushed it open. His breath caught in his chest. On another cot, Machaon was lying, his eyes blindfolded. Adriel threw himself on the old man, but with gentleness to not startle his blinded friend nor pull out his drip.

“Hey Mac, it’s me, Adriel,” he whispered. He wondered now why he was speaking in such a low voice. The door wasn’t locked and, well, there was no sign forbidding entrance, so even if he got caught by the doctor, he was the only one to blame.

“I have found you again…” the old man murmured. “I knew you couldn’t be mine but in the end, what you really wanted did happen… We found the good one... The perfect honey trap to ride our Trojan horse.”

Confused, Adriel realized his friend was high on painkillers and was probably dreaming about that past lover of his.

“Your creation is... like you said he would be; a beautiful mess.”

Machaon was chuckling, and troubled, Adriel shook him.

“Mac, it’s me, Adriel. Get a grip, buddy. You are creeping me out”

“Adriel?” Machaon exclaimed in a low voice, now fully awake. “Where are we?”

“We are in the infirmary, I guess,” Adriel replied. “You... do you remember what happened to you?”

“Yes, I remember... “Machaon painfully recalled. “The Eunuch in Chief, Ipy, had me whipped and then he threw me in a dark, awful place…”

From his face and the way he was now trembling, Adriel guessed his friend remembered it and he tried to sidetrack Machaon’s thoughts.

“There a new Eunuch in Chief now, his apprentice. Ipy and the Discipliner were sent to death by the Horus, since they bypassed his orders,” he explained. “The Prince never demanded your punishment,” Adriel insisted.

Why was he defending that prick, he wondered.

“Good,” Machon mumbled. “That Ipy was our enemy. Without him, it will be easier for us. The Horus has also gotten rid of an indiscreet pair of eyes without anyone being to blame it for. I’m sure this Ipy was a spy from the Amun Priest.”

Adriel blinked, a little taken aback by Machaon’s indifference and even relief about the death of two men without even caring about his lost eyesight.

“What were you talking about a few moments ago?” he asked. “When I touched you, you were mumbling about a Trojan horse. What is a Trojan horse?”

Machaon looked stunned for a moment but then, noises from the other side of the wall caught their attention. Surprised, Adriel realized that what looked like a mirror in the room next to the infirmary was like a window from their side. He could see who had just entered the office. It was the pervy doctor and the red-headed pet, the Prince’s favorite’s drink.

“So, Ruby, the Prince has decided to cut you off from any blue lotus. He got in a fight with this new pet of his, the bulky one with the beard. The Horus then decided to punish all of his male harem by leaving and forbidding you all any consolation. He is so cruel. What will you do?” the doctor sneered. The pet looked truly miserable until the doctor pulled out a little bag. “You are lucky I like you. But it’s for you only. I can’t use the Horus’s stock too much without him noticing it. You can imagine he has more important things to do, but he is pretty attentive even to the merest detail, for a kingdom heir. Well, it has been said that his water-pipe is probably the only thing this creature loves.”

Adriel realized he was holding his breath. At first, he had told himself that even if he was found in the infirmary, he wouldn’t even be scolded. Anyway, it wasn’t like he was afraid of the doc. But he was clever enough to understand he was listening to a dangerous conversation. The way Machaon was clenching to him, like Adriel was his only bulwark in a storm and to restrain him to barge in the office was also a giveaway that he should not get caught.

“But I’m not cold-hearted like the Horus,” the doctor continued and Adriel tried to remember his name. Teo had told him and had also seemed to trust the man. It made a weird feeling creep into Adriel to see that for once, Teo could be the one fooled. “You know how much I like you, Ruby.”

He waved the bag under the pet’s nose and the other looked at it, his eyes full of longing. Adriel recalled that each time he had seen Ruby, the guy seemed very passive and almost sweet. He was probably high on this drug all the time, like the time he had been with Mikelle, after the whip lashing.

“Can I have more for my brother?” Ruby asked in a beggar’s voice, like he was reading Adriel’s thoughts. “He will need it too, during the Prince’s absence.”

The doctor looked like he was considering it.

“If he wants some, he will need to play with us,” he decided and Ruby’s face twisted with pain.

“Please, he is only a child and new to this place,” Ruby pleaded. “He will next time. Let him get used to it.”

Adriel might have contempt for the pets, and even more so for addicted ones, and hate Mikelle, but he had to admit that at least this Ruby wasn’t all bad to try to protect his younger ‘brother’.

“No blondie, no candy,” the doc replied, pulling away the bag. “You greatly upset me at your refusal, Ruby. Now, I won’t even give it to you.”

The other pet begged but the doctor stayed cold.

“I have to do the harvest now, in the garden. We will see each other tomorrow. Maybe you will be more sensible.”

Adriel resumed breathing when the office was empty again.

“What was that?” he whispered to Machaon.

“Blue lotus leads to addiction very quickly. It is not that bad when you can have all the time, considering the Prince’s great use of it doesn’t damage the mental faculties. You only had some when you were hurt so you didn’t feel it the same and couldn’t know. But when you get cut off from it, the craving is intense, I can suppose.”

“Didn’t they give you some?” Adriel asked. “For the pain, you know?” They hadn’t talked about Machaon’s eyes yet and the topic was making him uneasy, devoured by guilt as Adriel was. He didn’t tell about the one time he took the powder on his own free will without being in pain. It was a moment he wasn’t proud of and wanted to forget.

“No. I’m only an old eunuch,” he snickered. “There’s no way they’d waste such a precious resource on me. I just have regular morphine, I bet.”

“But what is this doctor doing?”

“Trafficking drugs to satisfy his own addiction.” Machaon’s tone in his reply showed he wasn’t surprised. “But what about what he said? The doctor blamed you for the Horus’s decision,” Machaon pointed out. The man could be blind, but he was as sharp as ever, not missing a thing. “What did you do this time?”

“I challenged him to a sparring match to get my freedom if I win.”

“You didn’t win, did you? You foolish child. Royals have been made to be killing machines. There’s no way you can win in a fight. Not a fight like that. The battlefield is the place where Royals shine the most. Did he hurt you?”

‘Made’: again, this weird choice of word, but it was perhaps a reference to the way Teo had been trained. But what he suspected was true; Teo had pulled his hits. His pride was the only thing hurt here.

“He didn’t,” Adriel hissed and he wondered how he should explain what had occurred after the sparring match. “He brought me to his garden and, well, I guess I tried to kill him.”

It was weird to see only Machaon’s gaping mouth and not his gaze.

“I choked him and, well, he didn’t fight me back. I changed my mind,” he struggled to explain, self-conscious about how he had been turned on by Teo’s pain. “He turned all pissy and said he would punish me by attending his female harem. To be honest, being delivered from his obnoxious presence is a relief.”

Machaon stayed mute a moment and Adriel supposed that he would get a lecture.

“I’m not sure what the outcome of this will be,” the old man finally murmured. “But you will probably have to endure the other guests’ displeasure if the rumor spreads you are the cause of it.”

“What about this doctor?” Adriel decided to change the topic. He would deal with the consequences of Teo’s leaving but this man was rubbing him the wrong way. “If the Horus is so smart, how hasn’t he found out about this blue lotus trafficking?”

“As you saw, it’s trafficking to get sexual favors, not a political conspiracy,” Machaon huffed. “I discovered that the staff is chosen by the Amun priesthood,” Machon explained. “The Prince wouldn’t turn them down without reasons. Their mischief must be proven and public, with testimony for them to be killed having been accepted by Amun’s Grand Priest. This man is in contact with the Emperor, even if he never leaves for Nexpolis, like the Prince is forced to do, thrice a year, to pay homage to the Emperor. The Grand Priest’s job is supposed to be making sure that the Royals from Theba are worshipped like they should have among the Lumen population. This is exactly what your father was doing, but for the humans. But in fact, they are there to spy on the Regem, but mostly on the Horus. For a while now, the Theba Regem hasn’t seemed to hold the kingdom anymore. The Horus Crowned Prince does, and it’s very uncharacteristic from the other kingdoms. Maybe you don’t know but, in Corinthia, there was no such thing as an heir… From what I know, no other Regem has a successor.”

Adriel listened, interested. Is that why Teo was boasting about being different? But then, what happened when the Regem died if there no other Royal to take the power?

“I don’t know much about what happens in Ouranous’s private council. When I left Corinthia, we were in a revolution. The Regem ruling in Corinthia was dead and we held an election, but we were about to get invaded by the Ouranos imperial army. We left in hurry, because there was nothing else for us to do... In fact, my lover did the best he could to get exiled... it saved our lives, to serve a better purpose.”

For once, even if Machaon was in a weak state, drugged on morphine, he felt that this Lumen lover story was true. But Adriel also got the feeling that Machaon was hiding something from him, but before he could ask, the old man continued.

“For now, the Prince seems to manage to keep his position because he is a great schemer and from the outside, he has all that a Royal needs to be respected. But he still needs Amun’s support to stay in the Emperor’s favor. The Amun Temple needs a Royal to serve its purpose, but they could stand for one of his... siblings.”

“Teo has siblings?” Adriel asked without realizing he just called the Prince by his given name and he chastised himself for displaying such intimacy with him.

“’Sibling’ is maybe an overstatement. They are like natural aberrations or maybe more accurately, errors of science. Maybe you will see them. They look like twin teens but they are truly monsters that the Prince keeps on a leash. But they’re not important,” Machaon quickly added and Adriel recalled the ones he saw on the barge. “The priests are. The Horus just got rid of two staff members chosen by Amun and I guess this doctor has still a purpose for the Prince and doesn’t bother him too much. When he becomes a nuisance and in a way that he could prove it to the Amun priests, he will get rid of him, don’t worry.”

“How do you know that much?” Adriel asked, slightly suspicious.

“I’m observant and think before acting,” Machaon deadpanned but Adriel put aside the sarcasm only to feel a stab at the word ‘observant’. Now Machaon wouldn’t be able to observe anymore.

“I’m sorry,” he said miserably even if he knew apologies wouldn’t give the old man his eyesight back.

“What for? Machaon asked. “If it’s about my eyes, don’t worry. One is fine and for the other, I had a transplant. I didn’t ask questions, but the doctor told me someone ‘gave’ his eye to me. I guess someone else got executed or it’s the remains of a Royal’s meal.” Machaon shivered. “I don’t want to know, but what I know for sure is I’m actually glad I got punished.”

Adriel opened his eyes wide in shock. How could Machaon be glad to have lost his eyes?

“I got to validate a theory we have,” Machaon murmured and Adriel knew from instinct he wasn’t included in this ‘we’. “I know much now because... it could talk, you know... it’s is more human than it seems to be.” What ‘it’ was, Adriel was not sure if he wanted to know but he guessed it had something to do with the... thing called Mihos. “But as for that, you must not tell what you have seen in there,” Machaon continued and Adriel realized he maybe missed a part of the old man’s speech. “If you do, I will be got into so much suffering and troubles for nothing.” The eunuch squeezed his hand. “Promise me. You are the only hope we have.”

“I promise, Mac,” Adriel exclaimed. “I don’t understand shit, but I promise. Anyway, it’s not like I want to remember what I saw…” He was the one quivering now, picturing the monster he saw in the Sekhmet’s den in his mind. “Also, the Prince said... to never talk to him about it, if I don’t want to have the same fate as Ipy.”

 “Good,” Machaon murmured, laying back on the cot, like he was really relieved Adriel was threatened. “Now leave me, please; I need to rest.”

 “I’ll let you dream of that past lover of yours,” Adriel teased with a moved smirk.

“Don’t judge me, I’m not lucky enough to live under the same roof with him, as you do,” Machaon sneered back and Adriel felt his cheeks burning. “Deny it as much as you want, I don’t care,” the wounded man said with a dismissive move of the hand. “The only way I get to see him in the form I loved is in dreams. I will try to get to you as soon as I can. The Gods know what you would do without my guidance,” he chucked and Adriel decided that maybe he would wait to ask questions and protest he didn’t love this Royal asshole when Machaon wasn’t high on morphine. He sneaked out of the office carefully. He was now hungry and he decided to return to his room to get some fruit, not sure if Seti would give the order for his lunch. If he complained to Kleos of being hungry, he wondered what the Commander would do.

 Adriel found his way to the atrium, led by the sound of voices, and it was weird how the place felt dead without the Horus smoking his pipe, laying languidly on his lounge, even if all the pets were there. He met all of the other twelve guests’ gazes, gleaming with hate, and he understood that the rumor had spread that he had angered the Prince.

A plate had been put in front of an empty place and he supposed it was his, next to Mikelle who was glaring at him with the most hatred while Ruby, on the other side, seemed to be pale and sweating.

Unbothered by the display, Adriel sat and immediately, Mikelle leaned over his plate to spit into it.

“Return to your shitty human place, already,” he growled.

Discreetly, Adriel glanced to the Commander standing up next to the table. He was staring into the void, looking indeed very dead to the world.

With his spoon, he put aside the part of the black bean dish where Mikelle had spit, and took a bite from his plate, his face neutral. He hadn’t gotten vengeance from the pet yet for his father’s death, but he felt this wasn’t a good occasion for it. It would only look like getting Mikelle back for his childish bullying.

Seeing his enemy was not taking the bait, Mikelle stretched his hand to take his cup of water and poured it on the plate.

“Dogs like you should not eat at a palace table,” he snarled again. Snickers arose from the pets and Adriel sighed. Hitting back would be so easy, but it was obviously what Mikelle wanted. Seti wasn’t moving a bit to protest even if Adriel was to be in his care, as Mikelle was. Mikelle was obviously the harem’s favorite, maybe not in the Prince’s heart, but for everybody else, seeing him as a future prince-consort or something. He felt a bean thrown on his cheek and barely kept himself in check to not give them the satisfaction of seeing him reacting and getting punished. The week would be long and Teo knew what would happen by leaving, that son of a bitch. He rose up, took his plate and headed to his room. To his surprise, nobody prevented him from doing so.