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The first night I went with S’Tav for comradeship, to see and duly praise his latest pet, knowing he would be like all the rest, pretty, pouting and coy.  I felt no urge to indulge myself.  I planned to share a glass of Kavva, watch the entertainment, and then to leave.

S’Tav led the way to the House of Twin Jewels.  I thought his new fancy must cost him dearly, the Jewels was the most extravagant brothel in the city.  His sculpture was highly prized, but he could only bear to part with one work to finance another.  First in precious malachite, now in rare celadon jade, S’Tav had a passion for carving life size figures of the delicate and grubby urchins he was forever plucking from the streets.  They would pose for him, bed him…and steal from him.  Perhaps his money would last as long here.

We stood at the outer gates of iron wrought in the shape of mating dragons.  Two guards passed us inside, through the red grape arbor, to the exquisite inner doors of carved ivory, each panel describing a different erotic scene from Vulcan myth.  I recognized S’Kye and T’Lenda…T’Preta and the roguish le-matya, Kourkus…the brothers, Solan and Solad,…Syya and Surak the Mad, drowning in fire.

Impatient for his own beauty, S’Tav pushed open the doors and we entered the lavish central hall.  The interior was fragrant and gleaming, lit by scented candles in sconces and chandeliers, its floors inlaid with a pattern of colored marbles, its walls covered with alternating panels of gilt stenciled silk and rare woods—deep purple vour’ku, pale milkwillow, rose heddanut.

At one end of the hall a shimmering crystal curtain was parted to show a room of blood green and gold, circled with couches and low tables.  In its center, two soft furred Cedealian hermaphrodites played a teasing duet on lyre and flute.  Jeweled belts were locked about their waists instead of the usual bracelets or collars that might mar their wrist ruffs and fluffy white manes.  They were the newest and most piquant pleasure of the house, no doubt, Cedeala being a recent conquest of the Vulcan Empire.

The two creatures played sweetly.  It was early still, and the couches were just beginning to fill.  Wilder revelry would come later, with dancers and a sexual performance—perhaps the hermaphrodites tonight.

At the other end of the hall a wide staircase swept down from the rooms above.  There was movement on the balcony as several pleasure slaves gathered to make their entrance.  I looked up as you descended the stair.  They understood your beauty well here, and played it.  They kept you unpainted to emphasize your savage quality, the wild and tawny beast only half-tamed.  Your muscles were oiled and rippling in the candlelight.  Your pale gold skin bound with gilded chains—human strength frail against Vulcan power.  The strength and frailty equally enticing.

You felt my gaze and met it, level and cool, owning yourself still.  A look that would have been a challenge, if not so self-contained.  I stared back, entranced, while everything around you blurred, dissolved in a gold haze, a radiance.  As if your body cast not shadow but light.

It would be easier if my passions were not so sudden, so total…so few.  Better many small fires to warm the nights than a single consuming blaze.  Easier still not to care at all.

I thought I had starved my heart into submission.

S’Tav was shaking my arm gently and laughing, mocking me for my penchant for humans.  I turned away and tried to be attentive, greeting the dark eyed, sulky boychild he clasped about the waist.  Behind me, I could still feel your presence.  S’Tav was saying something…wine…sweetmeats…music…

I had to look once ore.  You stood, almost at the foot of the stairs, your eyes on the door.  I followed your glance and saw Skarrak had just entered the room.  I fought with him on this last Klingon campaign, and have seen him claim the spoils of war.  Rape is a kind word for his pleasures.  I saw from your face you knew him too…and saw your defiance even in fear.  Then for a moment your eyes caught mine again as Skarrak moved forward to buy you for the evening.  I was there before him, laying down my credits and receiving your key in return.

As I approached you still did not smile, but held my gaze.  Assessing yet another stranger…I could see the color of your eyes now, the bright flecks of green and gold and amber.  Then you turned, and, without touching you, I followed upstairs to your room and closed the door behind us.

Submissively, you held out your wrists to have your chains unlocked.  Smiling then, ruefully.  Gracefully performing a ritual abasement disguised as a ritual freedom.  I was already hard as you undressed me.

That first night we each tried to impress the other.  At what point did heartless skill transform itself to heartfelt passion?  The beguiling fingers begin to fiercely clench and grasp?  I remember your cries…and mine.  The slick slide of our bodies.  The coolness within you, your balls tight around my hand.  The sudden dark perfume of your musk as your body arched and shattered beneath me.

The second night I came to your drowning and pulled you down with me…

The third night…the third night I was late, after a quarrel at home.  They told me no one had claimed you--instead you were performing.  I stood behind the curtain, half hidden by its glittering, clinking strands, and watched you taken by two massive Orions, your mouth swallowing one great dark green cock, your ass the other, before the attentive crowd.

Perceiving me, you froze for a second, until the one fucking you slapped your buttocks sharp and loud, urging you on.  Your cock, dangling half hard between your legs, stiffened then and began to rise.  The audience laughed and cheered.  I wanted to know if it was my eyes or his hand which brought you erect.  Trembling, magnetized, I witnessed the end of your performance then left, full of nausea and desire.  I dreamed of them, dreamed I was them, taking you both ways at once.

For a week, wanting you, I refused to return.

Today in the gymnasium Skarrak made a point to seek me out, to tell me had had been to visit you, describing in detail your encounter, how he wound you in chains so you could not move, your hips raised to his entry.  He said he thought perhaps to buy you for himself.  There were certain pleasures the House would put no price to…fearing you damaged.

I told myself I came back tonight to put you from my mind and consign you to your fate.  To become the stranger I never was.

The swift light in your face quickly faded.  You were tense and wary as I led you upstairs by your chains.  I did not unlock them, but bound you to the bed to remind you—and myself—of what you are.  I took your legs over my shoulders and bore down on you, pressing my taut and aching cock to your tightly clenched orifice.

You gasped and bit your lip as I entered abruptly, driving myself through the closed muscle into the lush coolness inside you.  I shuddered, held myself still for a moment, the exquisite sensation threatening to overwhelm me.  Gaining control, I thrust fiercely, fighting my enjoyment to keep my dominance.  Your body refused to respond until I neared climax and the fire caught us both.  We struggled against each other then, against our own flame, both wanting denial more than pleasure.  The orgasm was sharp and cruel, tearing from us, and we screamed in pain and fury.

I let you lie there, chained, thighs and belly streaked with my semen and your own, as I rose and with forced leisure cleansed my own body.  I poured a glass of kava and stood on the terrace, listening to the play of the fountains, watching the foliage glimmering in starlight, and the faint, iridescent sparkle of the forcefield enclosing the garden.  I breathed deeply, deliberately, forcing myself to enjoy the evening fragrance, the sweetness of the night-blooming liata, the heady resin of the scarlet spice trees.  A pungent waft of incense.

The earthsea scent of your flesh lingering on mine…

Below me two figures moved, pale flesh, anonymous in the darkness.  I heard a soft moan…a little cry…laughter…

I returned to the bed and unwound your chains from the lacquered posts.  Head averted, slowly you lowered your arms, till they came to rest crossed on your chest, covering, touching the pale, sticky shine of the sperm I could see pooled between your ribs.  Your face turned back to me, tight with anger, your voice low and cold as you said, “I didn’t choose to be a whore.”

“You are insolent, slave,” I answered, trying to match your coldness.

Your body tensed as if you would strike me.  Perhaps you would.  Your eyes defied me, refusing to play the game I paid so well to play with you tonight.  That you are bound to play—or be whipped for your denial.

You do not act like a whore.  You act like a lover betrayed.

This House was not your choice…but it has been your life, child of a conquered planet.  You have learned certain skills to survive, forced to live by your wits and your beauty, your strength a toy for the amusement of aliens.  Why should you not use those skills against me, the enemy?  I told myself you were clever enough to pretend, to practice your wiles in hope I would purchase you, besotted with passion.

I have not asked what it would cost to buy you.  It would be too high a price for both of us.

You think it would be better?  Shall I take you home and introduce you to she-who-is-my-wife?  She resents her bonding to the legendary half-breed.  She has no love for me, but is displeased that her lack of feeling is reciprocated.  There is no peace between us, though our marriage keeps peace between two great clans.

Wealth, power, lovers do not satisfy T’Pring.  She has a lust for cruelty.  Shall I leave you to face her vengeance when I fly the stars.  My father would not protect you.  He resents the one thing we seem to share…this penchant for humans.

I had a favourite once before.  Two years ago I found her poisoned.  Her pale hair spread like a fan on the tiles, her body bloated and twisted.  The child she would have borne me a red smear on her thighs.

Leila…she was sweet water as you are bright, intoxicating flame.  Yet you are alike.  She saw me too, always.  Saw through my ruses and spoke always to what I meant, if not what I said.  She would not have lies between us.

I have lied tonight…and chained you to that lie.

I move away from your reproachful gaze, crossing to my scattered clothes.  You are here beside me, kneeling, your arms around me.  So bold before, and now you cling.  I tell myself to take the chains, to jerk you to the floor and leave as planned.  You raise your face and your expression has changed again.  Your smile is bitter, tremulous, mocking me and yourself.  Your eyes dark and full of pain.

“Stay,” you whisper.

Do you see that it is the last time…that it must be the last time?  I want you too much.

Let my touch be truth at least.  As yours has been.

Slowly my hand winds through your barbarian’s clipped hair.  It flows through my fingers cool and liquid smooth as water, faintly rustling like sand.  Your breath is on me, warm against me so I harden once again…so soon.  I hear myself moan as your mouth takes me.  Tender wet silk membranes, the keen edge of teeth, soft stroking muscle of tongue.  You fasten on me, sucking desperately, and now I am desperate too, hungering to taste you.

Pulling away, I press you to the floor, smooth and sweetly chill beneath our fevered flesh.  Heads bent to loins, our bodies mirror each other.  Two mouths decend on two straining cocks.  Two hands shape the slope of back and mold the swelling curve of hip.  Paired fingers part the mounded cheeks, tease the damp curled tendrils…seeking the moist pulsing rim that contracts, then opens to their touch.  We enter gently, probing to reach the deepest point of pleasure.  Fingers burrowing, cocks thrusting, mouths sucking, we devour each other…our only desire to drink each other’s hearts.

My other hand finds your temple.  Our bodies jolt and quiver with the burning current of desire.  Melded, we plunge deeper and deeper.  Linked to form one crazed, craving creature, we drown ourselves in fire.  Our flesh melting, dissolving into flame, flame bursting, exploding into light liquid light pouring from us into us…filling our souls with an oblivion of brightness.

My senses return to me slowly.  I sigh.  You reach out and clasp my hand.  We lie together exhausted—Syya and Surak cast up from the Sea of Flame.

Traces of rich seed linger on my mouth, potent milky wine.  I lick the prodigal drops from my lips savoring the salt sweet taste.

After a time I feel a sudden tension in your hand, and it withdraws.  Rolling to your side, I see the questions in your eyes, and see you are too proud to ask.  You close them and smile, keeping what we have shared.  Accepting the parting I can no longer endure.

I have spent too long in the darkness myself…

Whatever your price I will pay it.


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