Cyr sent lots of letters home to his family. His apprenticeship was going well, he said. Having trouble making friends, but he wasn’t too lonely. The food was okay, his bed was actually fairly soft, and he had enough room. Was the capital as beautiful close up as from far off? Yes! He attended services regularly and promptly? Of course! Was he getting enough sleep? Yes, he wrote back, and this was the only lie he put down on paper.
Did he get along with his master?
To this, Cyr only wrote that First Inquisitor Charibert was training him up from his nose to his toes.
His toes—Charibert’s temper certainly kept him on them. But he was getting good at anticipating his moods and whims! When his current subject was recalcitrant, Charibert did not want cheering-up or encouragement, he wanted tools handed to him. But when his mood was already up, then yes, he would take Cyr’s compliments (unless they went too far, then it would push him into fury...).
And the rest of him was kept moving—Charibert was a demanding taskmaster, who did not tolerate laxity in his inferiors. And while surely Cyr’s spirit was willing, sometimes his flesh was weak—such as now, which was why he was so furtive and quiet as he sneaked back to his bedchambers. He just needed a little rest, before he could return to being properly trained up, from nose to toes.
Because his nose had grown exceedingly keen over these past few months—not as keen as his master’s, but Cyr liked to think he was an apt pupil, as adept as smelling fear as Charibert was, even though he couldn’t quite manage to pin down the scent of heresy—but he had pinned down other sins. Wrath burned the inside of his nose, Avarice was slimy-oily while Gluttony was buttery and smooth. Sloth had hints of loamy earth, Pride an almost alchemical high, and Envy was low, smoky, and Lust...
Quickly, before anyone could turn a corner and catch a glimpse, Cyr darted down the hall that contained his room—closed the door, locked it, double-checked the lock (sometimes he thought Charibert knew how to pick them, but surely he wouldn’t deploy that skill against his own apprentice...) and flopped into bed. For a moment, he laid so still he could convince himself he was falling asleep, eyes shut and mouth a little frown. But then, Cyr shivered, and started to squirm. His brow furrowed and lips parted, and from his back, to his side, and at last to his belly he rolled—still squirming, though his arms he kept firmly pinned to his sides, as if so doing would help the little lies he told himself.
For he told only the one lie to his family, and didn’t dare lie to Charibert except by strategic omission, but to himself, he lied all the time. Some were little white lies, about his confidence or his assurance. Some were violent and vicious things, about his ability, about his intelligence. But most of all, he lied about his emotions and senses. About fear and longing, about sensibility and sensuality and sensitivity.
And about his sense of smell. With his eyes tightly shut, and the near-silence of the room, his sense of smell was all that connected him to the outside world and he desperately concentrated on it and denied the sense of touch: the sensation of his clothes, hot, confining, the bedsheets rumpling under how he moved, how he still squirmed and pushed and shoved and gasped and at last, gave in.
Lust, Cyr had learned since starting this apprenticeship, smelled like rosewater and sandalwood, like lavender, like vanilla and incense, trailing in the air in his wake, for to his horror, Cyr had soon learned, desire and Charibert went hand in hand.
It wasn’t like he wanted this, or intended this. Fury, but only a fool would lust for the First Inquisitor, no matter who held the title, and only a madman would long for this particular one, this Charibert de Leusignac—this cruel, bad-tempered man, this towering torturer, with amber eyes devoid of warmth and only cold lights in his twisted smiles.
It was because Charibert was beautiful, Cyr lied to himself, as he yanked at the knot in his rope belt. In a sense, this was true; Charibert had a handsome nose and fine jaw, full lips and delicate brow, and he took excellent care in his appearance. And he wasn’t beautiful like Cyr’s old beaus, but in a wickedly patrician way, befitting one of the first faces he’d seen in the city. But there were many beautiful men in Ishgard, so how—so why was this one the one haunting his dreams?
Perhaps instead, Cyr continued reasoning with himself (his inner monologue manic and powerless to stop his hands now that his robe was open, now that he had access—), instead what he really wanted was Charibert’s approval, and that was what fixed him in his mind like this, like a lodestone. And this was more true than the other lie, he craved Charibert’s approval in so many ways, on so many levels—from fear of punishment to prideful ego to—to—
Groaning, Cyr buried his face in his blanket and both hands between his legs. With no technique other than desperation and no restraint other than fear, he pulled at his cock, stroked his balls, and he rushed and it hurt but he didn’t mind—far from it, for as his memory gladly supplied and imagination eagerly continued, Charibert would absolutely almost definitely hurt him, if he ever deigned to touch him, and that prospect sent shivers of fear and desire alike racing the other along his spine.
Charibert would hurt him, he recited madly as he pumped his cock, and if this mental exercise was supposed to stop him it was failing utterly. How would he hurt him, he wondered, greedily embracing everything his imagination could provide. Hot wax? Tight ropes? Fury, maybe the clamps—
Gasping for breath, Cyr lurched forward, pushing his knees under him and then his arse into the air. This, he thought dizzily, would be the closest to how Charibert would do it, how he would want it, unless of course—unless he had other tools, or devices better suited to the purpose...
With his face so buried in blankets, Cyr could barely breathe, let alone smell anything other than laundry soap—but he could imagine, he was good at that; he imagined leather, rosewater, hot steel, lavender—all the things Charibert used, maybe could use on him—Fury but he was close, too close for guilt anymore, too close to lie, to confess anything other than the truth, he wanted Charibert to fuck him—
The jolt of climax, the splash of his seed against his hand was so hot as to burn, yet such a relief it almost felt cool. Collapsing down, all his muscles pleasantly slack, maybe now he would steal that nap he’d told himself was all he wanted...
“Well, well.” The scent of sandalwood and rose was suddenly overpowering, and Cyr recoiled from the direction of that voice, that silky, sultry, dangerous voice, as though he’d been burned. “What have we here?”