Oh Selestialis. Oh Selestialis thank you that I only need this much training in torture. I walked up the steps and closed the door on the silence below. 2nd Amitzas kept reminding me how crude and usubtle this was, and typical of rough conditions with few pieces of equipment.
After the full day, he had deemed I understood basic principles enough to be able to direct my Mahid or, if separated from my entourage at any point, I would be competent to do my own work.
With 5th Eforas on my heels I went down to the lake and washed the stink of the cellar off me. I couldn’t demand that the clothes I’d worn be burned but I could strip them off and leave them on the shore.
The water was icy cold but I welcomed it for the first time, after the overheated air below. The man wasn’t dead. He was not badly disfigured enough to send him mercifully on to the afterlife. 2nd Amitzas hadn’t gone into detail about the use of fire and coals though he had talked about the use of molten metals and brimstone. The bandit was going to be kept as a training tool for the younger Mahid as long as he lasted. I prayed that he was not strong of constitution.
I couldn’t get the smell of the man’s semen off me from when 2nd Amitzas demonstrated that the amount of pain a man was in didn’t stop him from climaxing.
2nd Amitzas was convinced – on some level—that he could train those tastes in me. Of course he would have seen how much they existed in the fat guy and he would think I was the same. 2nd Amitzas in that sense... crude and raw compared to 1st Amitzas’s techniques... was the perfect reflection of the fat guy. As he was supposed to be.
I was careful to not go in deeper than my knees, as if nervous of deeper water; sat in the shallows, shivering, ducking my head under, trying to get the stink of semen and blood and vomit off me. It just wasn’t working. Was that why the fat guy always soaked himself in heliotrope? Some perfumes were enough to make me go pale and shake, or fill me with the urge to vomit. I realized they were all fa—the fat guy’s favourites.
“Spark of the Sun’s Ray.” I couldn’t hear 5th Eforas well, my ears, my head felt stuffed full of cotton from the man’s screams in the stone room. When he was allowed to scream.
“Spark!” He called me, louder. “You are required to get out.” The Mahid stood with the toes of his boots in the small wavelets of the lake. They had sent for Gannara and Binshala and they stood behind, holding towels.
“I’m not clean,” I said stubbornly.
“You will make yourself ill. Come out and a bath will be drawn.”
“In what? You’ve discovered an uncracked bathing pool? And a horde of slaves to heat it?” I could be snide to him, he was a lesser Mahid and I could get away with such behaviour.
“A basin of water will be heated.” I stumbled up to my feet, shaking so hard I almost couldn’t stand and made it to the shore where Gannara threw a towel around me, half holding me up, while Binshala wrapped a warm towel around my head. They’d had them in the sun and I was so cold I could almost not feel them.
“I just want to lie down.”
Between the two of them they got me up the hill to the villa. I didn’t want a Mahid touching me and if I fell over he’d carry me. I was stronger than that. 5th Eforas took up his proper place outside my door and left me to the care of my attendants. I was so happy that he took his faded onyxine out of my sight.
Binshala got my hair re-wrapped in another towel... where had she gotten this one? I couldn’t remember it in the logistics planning. “I want to lie down. Please Gannara, I just want to lie down.” It felt so good to be on the bedroll, even on the floor.
“We’ll get you all set. Don’t worry. Minis, you’ll be okay.” Binshala took the wet towels away and left us alone.
“Gannara, will you please hold onto me in the bed? I just need someone to hang onto. I don’t mean anything by it –“ He cut me off.
“Shush. I know, you need somebody decent to hang onto you...” I wanted it so badly. But the bang on the door was less a polite knock and more an announcement of intent.
“Ah, shen...” I said as 2nd Amitzas opened the door. He was cleaned up and the creases in his uniform were perfect. How he managed that here I had no idea.
“You had some light exercise today, Spark. Dinner is about to be put upon the table and you are required to be in your place when it is. The Coronet and the Mirror will wait on your appearance.” They’d have to wait, he meant.
I heaved myself up off the bed and pulled the last towel off my head. I was stronger than that. I was stronger than him. I wouldn’t let his harassment reach into me. “Of course, my guardian. Excuse me for being slow to cleanse myself.”
He wanted a monster. He was getting a stone and I had lots of practice with the fat guy, being stone.
Spark of the Sun’s Ray, welcome, welcome to my villa. Villa del d’Oro, or Villa of gold. The children were so happy to find out you were here. Please, don’t mind the wife’s fluttering. The place is a bit of a mess.
The villa is burning and the Aitzas gentleman walking next to me is on fire but doesn’t seem to notice. His wife and children are all there and some vague shadows around them all, shadows that seem to be people. A wall falls on and over and through us with a crash and I understand I am seeing the building burning.
There are roaring noises and the sounds of the fire but I am looking at the villa as though it were the pages of a book, slowly being turned. The halls peaceful and clean and quiet, the halls full of smoke and fire and running shapes that are memories of people.
“You realize you are all dead, don’t you?” I asked him and he looked confused before answering.
“I’m... not sure. It seems odd. I recall peaceful days here, away from the city itself. But I also recall...” his face grew grim and drawn and skeletal, but I wasn’t frightened of him. He was only a memory of pain. Perhaps he was drawn to the reality of agony being dragged out of someone still living, the way flies are drawn to blood. “... I also recall the slaves rebelling. I was going to fetch my armour... my sword... but...”
“I think they killed you and your family. Perhaps you should stop being here and go on to talk to the Ten?”
He thought about it as we strolled through the ruined/fabulous/carefully tended/ruined gardens, the scenes flickering one over another as if the garden itself didn't know when in time it was. “You really think so?”
“I do. And I should know, since I’m the Spark of the Divine Light.”
“Ah, yes. Nuria! Gather up the children. It’s time to go!”
A fading whisper. “... Iakobas Mil Maren.”
“Goodby, Mil Maren...” We’re strolling over the gaping holes in the burned out section of the villa as he and his family---apparently slaughtered in some slave uprising---fade away. And I’m left alone standing now by the reflecting pool.
It’s reflecting dying flames and then its reflecting my face again from the other day. I like my face the way it is now, I think. It is nothing like... oh Gods. Oh GODS NO. I’ve lost control of myself. My face bulks out, puffing full of fat, nesting my eyes in the suet pudding of my face. The birthmark blooms out under the skin of my cheek, bloody and livid as Father’s smile stretches the lips of that grotesque face, my face.
The hands of that body, ballooning out to puffy sausage fingers dip down and scratch in the folds of belly, pulling moist curls of dead skin and wet stuff from between them in the fingernails. I can feel the relief of the scratching even as I’m screaming in horror in my head.
I can smell myself. I smell like Kurkas. I smell. My hands dip down even further and seize my penis, tugging lightly on that vile organ and I’m hard. Inside I’m weeping as Kurkas’s hands... 2nd Amitzas’s hands bring me closer and closer to another ugly climax. Their voices whisper in my head... “You see? You like this. Remember how good it felt? It doesn’t matter who it is pleasing you. Your blood draws you. You’re like this. This is the way you will be... this is what you want... this is the real you...”
No. No... oh help me... Selestialis.... “NOOOO!” I wake up yelling and thrashing, tangled in my bedroll desperate to get away even as I’m waking up, realizing I’m trying to get away from my vile self.
“Minis! Minis! It’s all right! It’s all right! Hey, Minis! It’s just a dream... Wake up, you’re dreaming... Minis!” I fetched up at last at the wall of my bedroom, the bare, worn boards under my butt and I realized I had not bound myself down as usual before bed. I was sick with the smell of my own excitement that had come up during the dream... the vile... evil dream... I curled up around myself and lay down, sideways. I didn’t want to touch the fast-fading stiffness between my legs but wanted to push it down all the same. It was like some hideously fascinating growth there that I had no control over.
2nd Amitzas had some control it seemed. When he wanted to be aroused he just found some way of causing someone else around him pain.
A faint whisper in my head as Gannara came up and knelt next to me... an echo of Def’s voice. You’re not vile, Minis. See? I think I sobbed then, with confusion, bit my lip to try and not let it out.
“Minis. It wasn’t real. It was just a dream. Every young man has these dreams—“
“No.” I interrupted him. “Not like mine. I don’t get the minorly sinful knuckle sucking dreams.”
“You’re getting what 2nd Amitzas is trying to load into you. It’s not real either.” I took a shuddering breath and sat up, thankfully I was cold enough to be safe from any kind of passionate reaction from my hateful body. It was sweating. Gannara flung his arm around me, settling next to me against the wall. “He’s full of it. You’ve been doing fantastic to not let him get to you.”
“Yet. If I start dreaming about what he does and and what he likes then he’s getting to me.”
“So we have to figure out something different. If he’s getting to you, you have to get away from him.”
“Run? Hmm.” I shuddered all over. “You’ll get cold sitting with me... let’s talk about this at least wrapped up warm... and if you get sleepy we’ll be in the bed.”
“Yeah run away, like a slave. You aren’t his slave even if your... the fat guy said he was your guardian. You’re better than him and you’ve had enough of this shen.” The bedding I had wrestled into a wad, we pulled straight and we wrapped arms solidly around each other. He was warm and strong and less bony now that I was asking Binshala to feed him more often if she could.
“I’ll think about it. The person I can’t run away from is me. And the only way I could do that would be to figure out how to run away from my own blood.”
“Bullshen. That’s 2nd Amitzas’s ideas and out of that crazy god-book. You’re NOTHING like the fat guy. I know.”
“All right, all right, Gannara. Thank you. You’ve got a good idea there. I have to think about it. But I’m not leaving anybody innocent in the Mahid’s bloody fingers.”
His hand on my shoulder flipped up in the Yeoli sign for yes, and I nodded. Something to think about.