The song of tomorrow by Nuredhel
Summary:

The past reaches out towards the future...A living mystery is being delivered to the king of Mirkwood as a gift and a strange tale of longing and love, lust death and depravity is being told. And it is all bound together by the song of tomorrow...


Categories: Fiction Characters: Maglor, OFC, OMC, Thranduil
Content: Angst, AU, Drama, Dubcon, Erotica, Explicit Sex, Hurt/Comfort, Mystery, Rape/Non-con, Romance, Slash
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 15 Completed: No Word count: 127585 Read: 3793 Published: February 05, 2016 Updated: September 16, 2017
Story Notes:

I do not own these characters, they belong to Tolkien except those born from my own brain. I do not make any profit from this work of fiction, it is only made for entertainment. This story will contain explicit sex, slash and deathscenes. You are warned. If you don't like that don't read this.

1. Gifts given... by Nuredhel

2. A devils heaven, an angels hell... by Nuredhel

3. The games we must play... by Nuredhel

4. Teacher and apprentice by Nuredhel

5. Better the devil you know by Nuredhel

6. A dragons daughter by Nuredhel

7. The bones of the earth by Nuredhel

8. What the queen desires... by Nuredhel

9. The only certain thing in life... by Nuredhel

10. Burn like my sorrow, burn like my heart by Nuredhel

11. What goes around... by Nuredhel

12. Thy voice is thy weapon by Nuredhel

13. Memories of time unknown by Nuredhel

14. An emperor's fate by Nuredhel

15. Bringer of lies and deceit by Nuredhel

Gifts given... by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

This chapter is not too bad when it comes to explicitness, but it will follow...

 

boatmaglor 

 

As a Norwegian I am very interested in the history of my country and some years ago I taught myself how to throw the runes. It is a method of fortune telling a bit similar to using Tarot cards and it can be both rather simple and very intricate depending on how many of the 24 runes you use. Now, one of the runes are called Gyfu, gift. It is shaped like an x and so you have to mark it to be able to tell what way is facing up or down, for that will in turn change the meaning of the rune you throw. If it lands pointing the wrong way the dark sides of the rune are the ones who will decide the meaning of it. Just as if you write a letter of our alphabet upside down, it changes the meaning of it. Now Gyfu is a double edged sword, gifts are nice aren’t they? But they can be dangerous too, in special when they are used as a tool to bind others to you through their gratitude and the feeling that they have to return the favor. Gifts should be received gratefully but be aware, they can be something sinister, they can be dangerous and sometimes not even the one giving the gift are aware of the impact they’ll have. For good or for bad, Gyfu is one of the strongest runes and the one which is the most difficult to interpret for even out of a bad thing something good may appear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Prologue)   The gift

 

 

 

 

 

He was pacing back and forth through his study, the sound of his boots against the floor hard and it revealed his frustration and anger. The counsellor stood with his eyes turned towards the floors, patiently waiting for his king to calm down. “ So, what am I to do with this problem? Can I refuse to accept?”

 

 

 

The counsellor shook his head slowly. “ No my lord, remember this, the merchant will undoubtedly report everything to his master and if you don’t accept his gift it will jeopardize the entire trading deal. You have to accept.”

 

 

 

He sighed and stared out of the window, the forest was yet again green and the problems they had encountered almost gone but there were still things to be worried about. He had started the production of cloth made from spider silk and it had in turn brought them to this, a possible trading deal with one of the kingdoms very far to the south and east. Exotic spices and other goods could be attained this way and it would benefit them greatly but he hadn’t really anticipated that the lord of that land would seal the deal with the exchange of expensive gifts. The merchant who had been sent to seal the treaty had brought many marvelous things, glass so thin and delicate it was almost hard to believe that humans had made it, cloth that had colors the elves never had seen before, jewels and gold and herbs and spices. It was a fortune and one he gladly would accept but not that one last piece of the treasure. He turned to the counsellor once more. “We do not keep slaves, and I do not need one either, and absolutely not that kind of a slave.”

 

 

 

The counsellor sighed. “ The lord will not understand this, for them such slaves are just natural, a part of daily life. It shows that he truly regards you as his equal, sending this gift back will be interpreted as an insult, or worse. She is very valuable too, such slaves are treasured and very expensive. It is a royal gift for sure”

 

 

 

Thranduil groaned and his face was a bit red. “But what do I do with her then? I cannot keep her?”

 

 

 

The counsellor made a grimace. “ Well, once you have accepted the gift and the merchant has left you can of course give her away? Or let her loose? But mind you she is probably unable to survive here in our lands, she doesn’t know the language I am sure and she will probably end up in some brothel dying from disease and abuse.”

 

 

 

The king cringed. “ That doesn’t leave me with much choice now does it?”

 

 

 

His voice was tired and the counsellor nodded. “No, you will have to let her stay but it will only be a few decades before she’ll grow old and die as all mortal do, fear not. And she will have good life here, I am sure she can become a servant or something.”

 

 

 

Thranduil nodded slowly, a pleasure slave, when did he ever have need for something like that? “So, how am I to do this then?”

 

 

 

The counsellor smiled. “ The merchant will present you with the gift, and then you must go forth and claim her, it is tradition. “

 

 

 

The king scoffed. “And how do I do that?”

 

 

 

The counsellor smiled. “By taking the rope leading to her collar. Afterwards you present him with the gift from our realm.”

 

 

 

Thranduil turned around. “ And it is ready?”

 

 

 

The counsellor nodded. “ Yes, all of it. I am sure the lord will be more than satisfied with everything. It is very exotic for someone from those lands so far south. “

 

 

 

Thranduil sighed and made a grimace. “Very well then, let it be. Tell the merchant that he may present me with his gifts at sunset.”

 

 

 

The counsellor did nod. “ Of course my lord.”

 

 

 

Thranduil stared at the counsellor. “ Have you seen this slave yet?”

 

 

 

The elf shook his head. “No, she has been kept in his carriage ever since the arrival yesterday, but I have heard him praise her beauty. She is supposed to the most beautiful of her kind ever to be trained for such a task.”

 

 

 

Thranduil just shrugged. “ The beauty of mortals is as fleeting as the snow of winter, it disappears so fast. She would have been better off back home.”

 

 

 

The counsellor sighed. “ Yes, but she is a slave, she has no saying in this. Her fate is to drift like a ship without a rudder wherever the currents or in this case, her master decides that she’s to go.”

 

 

 

Thranduil couldn’t help but feel a sting of pity. Not being able to determine one owns faith like that had to be a horrible destiny. At least she would be treated with respect here, nobody would take advantage of her. The counsellor smiled. “ I will make sure that there are rooms ready for her, close to yours. Until the merchant leaves it has to look as if though you do make use of her talents.”

 

 

 

Thranduil cringed and just waved his hands. “ Alright, yes, go ahead. You may leave, I need to think.”

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Ghiandar of Dhal’ett had never travelled through such a landscape before nor had he been this far north. Every day brought new wonders and things that made him amazed and in awe or frightened. The elves did frighten him, but he was sure that he was protected by the fact that he as an emissary from the court of his master. He had been told to come forth soon and so he prepared carefully. He had put on his best clothes and the gifts were ready too. The king’s servants had come to carry it all and he went to the carriage and opened it. She was sitting in her place, her eyes towards the floor and he took her rope and untied it. “Follow me, it is time for you to meet your new master.”

 

 

 

She nodded and climbed out of the carriage, he was as always in awe of her beauty, such a creature had to be very treasured even by these elves. Ghiandar would never have been allowed to go anywhere near her if he hadn’t been chosen for this mission and he knew that his master would have his head if he did as much as touch her. She followed him with her eyes cast down, the veil covering her head and face was thin and couldn’t conceal her beauty. The king’s butler met them at the great door and he followed the dark haired ellon towards the throne room. The strange layout of this underground palace did make Ghiandar a bit dizzy and he was afraid of heights but he managed to keep his cools.

 

He hadn’t met the king of the elves yet, only heard the rumors telling of a very dangerous and strong ruler with a cold heart and a cunning mind. He had been told to use his words wisely and to be humble and never challenge the elven king in any way. The slave followed him closely, her feet never made any sound and he had found that both weird and disturbing. The elven servants carried the goods he had brought and he hoped that the gifts would be appreciated. The trading treaty was important, the silk these elves did make was just wonderful, a roll of that cloth was worth more than he could earn in an entire life.

 

The throne was impressive and it inspired awe and fear. He stared at the huge antlers upon it and then he dared to look at the elf sitting upon it. He started shivering, ice cold blue eyes appeared to pierce his very soul and he fell to his knees, staring at the floors. “Your highness, humbly I do present you with these gifts from my master, Aratha’rar of Dhal’ett.”

 

 

 

The elf got up, by every god Ghiandar knew, he was huge! The tallest person he had ever seen. The merchant was sweating now.

 

“ I see the gifts of your master merchant, and I do find them to be to my liking”

 

 

 

The voice was a soft deep baritone with an edge to it, it made the human shiver. “My master sends his best regards and hopes that these gifts will seal the treaty, and bind our realms together.”

 

 

 

The elf stopped and Ghiandar dared to look up. Thranduil was smiling, it was a rather cold smile and it didn’t make the human feel any more at ease. “ Indeed they will, and I will send gifts of my own to your master.”

 

 

 

Ghiandar slowly got to his feet. “ My master does send you this gift as a personal one, from one ruler to another, as a brother to another. She is a Sheay’ram and the most exquisite among jewels.”

 

 

 

Thranduil stared at the slave, he was intrigued. She was tall, taller than the merchant and her skin appeared to be very light for someone from the south and her hair was black and thick and silky but it had a tint of red in it. She was unusual and he walked down, he hesitated for a short second before he took the rope and he noticed that the girl seemed to shrink for a second, as if she was afraid of him. “ Tell your master that I am overjoyed by his generosity, indeed she is a gem.”

 

 

 

Ghiandar took a deep breath of relief. “I will make sure that my master receives your words of gratitude.”

 

 

 

He turned to the girl. “ You can remove the veil now”

 

 

 

She nodded, her eyes still to the floor. Long slender hands loosened the clasps and she pulled the veil away and Thranduil did for a second freeze. Her hair did slide away from her ear for a second but that was enough for him to see that she had pointy ears. He stared in shock and amazement at her, she was a peredhel! He managed to keep his expression, tried to keep his voice calm. “ You may look at me child, what is your name?”

 

 

 

She raised her gaze, her eyes were blue and grey like a stormy sea and they had a peculiar light in them which Thranduil hadn’t seen in a very long time. Only the first families among the eldar had had that strange light in their gaze and her colors and features told him one thing for sure. She was of noldorin descent. She trembled ever so slightly, scared by his presence. “ My king, I am known as Duvaine, I am humbly awaiting to serve you.”

 

 

 

She spoke a sort of common but it was heavily accented and it made it hard to understand her.

 

Thranduil stared at her. That name, it was an attempt at the elven name Duvainiel. She was beautiful, absolutely so, but did she know what she was?

 

He waved at his butler. “ Galion, take her to the rooms we have prepared for her. Make sure she is comfortable.”

 

 

 

Galion just nodded and she followed him without a word and Thranduil was getting more curious by the minute. A peredhel as a slave? That was atrocious and shocking and he wondered who her parents had been. But he hoped she would tell him sooner or later. Ghiandar had left bowing with his nose almost touching his knees and it almost made Thranduil smirk. The expression on that human’s face when he stood up… Sometimes it was good to be that tall, it created an instinctual sense or respect in those not so fortunate. The gifts were splendid indeed but he found that his mind was being quite overtaken by the peredhel, how in Eru’s name had a creature like that ended up as a pleasure slave? He had to swallow hard when he thought of what she had had to have gone through, she probably wouldn’t have survived if she was a full blooded elf.

 

He took care of a few more pressing matters, the stable master had asked for his permission to get some new horses and he had to sign the papers, and then there was a problem with a leakage in one of the lower levels of the palace. Apparently someone had managed to make a small hole in a wall and there was an underground creek on the other side…

 

He finished his shores and took a deep breath, he forced himself to sit down and eat some before he went to the rooms he had decided that she should occupy. He was curious, terribly so but also a bit nervous. She probably had her expectations regarding his wishes and he wanted to make it clear to her that he didn’t want to take advantage of her, not in any way. To her that was probably just unbelievable but he had to make her trust him enough to tell her story. There were two guards posted outside of her room and he nodded to them and entered. She sat on a couch and stared at a small pot containing a flowering plant with a peculiar expression on her face. She immediately got to her feet as he entered and bowed her head humbly and he tried to coax his face into a friendly grin. “I hope you find these rooms to be to your liking”

 

 

 

She nodded, her eyes turned towards the floor and she was shivering, he could see it. “They are more than I deserve my lord”

 

 

 

Her voice was low and soft and he went over and sat down, gestured for her to sit too and she hesitated for a second before she obeyed and sat down with elegant movements. It was rather apparent that she was way out of her comfort zone. Thranduil tilted his head. “Your name is elvish Duvaine, and you are half elven in origin. Do you know your parents?”

 

 

 

She shook her head. “ I can remember my mother, but just barely. She taught me to speak a little like your people, and sing.”

 

 

 

Thranduil smiled. “Then your father must have been an elf, did your mother ever mention him?”

 

 

 

Duvaine nodded shyly. “Yes, a few times. He was kind to her and saved her life. Mother was disfigured from having been burned once, and they wanted to kill her but my father bought her and trained her to be a singer”

 

 

 

Thranduil was getting curious. “So what happened? Why haven’t you met him?”

 

 

 

Duvaine looked as if she found the questions confusing but she didn’t protest. She probably didn’t know that she could protest at all. “He sent mother away, because she could be in danger, and she left before she knew she was with child. He never got to know about me”

 

 

 

Thranduil frowned. “Did she mention his name?”

 

 

 

Duvaine shook her head. “No, she only said that he was very tall, and very beautiful and terribly sad.”

 

 

 

Thranduil found that intriguing. It had to be a noldo, but who? “You are from a land very far south-east, have you lived there for a long time?”

 

 

 

She nodded. “For all my life, I was trained after my mother died, they believed that I could be the best and I am. I do no longer know how old I am my lord, I am sorry.”

 

 

 

Thranduil made a swift gesture, as if to make sure she didn’t think he blamed her for that. “That is alright Duvaine. It must be quite a shock to you, coming here, where things are so different.”

 

 

 

She swallowed. “It is so green my lord, and it smells so…different. There is so much life. “

 

 

 

Her accent made her hard to understand when she was getting eager but he did manage to piece the words together into something understandable. “I am glad you like it, we elves love the nature and we are more connected to it than humans. “

 

 

 

Duvaine looked nervous. “I hope that my mixed blood doesn’t disgust you my lord.”

 

 

 

Thranduil looked a bit shocked for a few seconds. “Absolutely not Duvaine, you look almost completely elven by the way, and you will fit in here quite well.”

 

 

 

She looked relieved. “ I am glad to hear that my lord, I live to serve”

 

 

 

Thranduil took a deep breath. “ I know that is how you have been raised and trained but here you are not a slave, not anymore. You are a free elleth and I will make sure that you learn all you need to make yourself a good life here among your kin”

 

 

 

She looked very confused. “ But, don’t you want me to serve you? Do you have females prettier than me in your harem? Or do you prefer males?”

 

 

 

If he had had wine in his mouth there and then he would have spat it all over the floor, he felt his cheeks burn a bit. “ Duvaine, we elves are not like humans, our customs are different in many ways. First of all, I do not have a harem.”

 

 

 

She looked extremely confused by that information. “But, all rulers have a harem? It shows wealth and power? “

 

 

 

He fought the urge to blush violently. “Not among our kin Duvaine. We have one mate and usually we do stay true to that one. And no, I do not prefer males.”

 

 

 

She almost gaped. “That…is odd”

 

 

 

He shrugged. “Not to us it isn’t, it is just natural.”

 

 

 

She frowned. “So, what…do you never touch anyone except from your mate?”

 

 

 

Thranduil squirmed in his seat. “Well, we can touch others yes, if both agree on it and it is alright with everybody involved but there can be no love involved, just physical pleasure. Our hearts are only for our one”

 

 

 

She looked as if she was thinking hard. “I am yours to order my lord, and I am very well trained, I assure you I know exactly how to bring a man so much pleasure it almost stops his heart. But, maybe elves are different from humans?”

 

 

 

He had to blush, there was no way around it. “No, I think we are pretty much the same there. But I will not push you into something Duvaine, I only wish to show you the way back to the people which you most resemble.”

 

 

 

She bit her lower lip. “ I do other things too, I am very good at calligraphy and I sing like an angel, and I dance very well too. Many have paid great fortunes to watch me dance.”

 

 

 

There was a naïve tone in her voice that was rather endearing and he realized that she didn’t have a lot of experience when it came to life at all. She couldn’t have seen that much. “So you dance and sing, and write. You have been educated I trust?”

 

 

 

She blushed. “ Oh yes, I read very well my lord, and I am very good at embroidery and I do make nice poems too. The ruler of my old land wouldn’t have sent anyone less than perfect”

 

 

 

She had probably only been allowed to read those things the masters wanted her to learn, it was a shame really. But she seemed to be intelligent enough and he was starting to make plans in his head. She ought to be given the opportunity to learn their history and the language and everything she needed to know in order to fit into the elven community.

 

She wet her lips. “Do you want me to dance for you my lord?”

 

 

 

Thranduil hesitated for a moment, she wore a very thin and flimsy gown that didn’t really hide anything and he had no doubt about the effect the sight of her dancing would have on him. “I would like for you to sing a little, I just want to hear your voice.”

 

 

 

She blushed and got up on her feet, she looked a bit relieved. She probably had no idea of how to behave around him if he didn’t make demands and she lifted her head and smiled. “This is a song my mother taught me, my father had taught it to her. “

 

 

 

Thranduil leaned back and she started singing and he was entranced right away, her voice was nothing short of amazing and it reminded him of the olden days when the great minstrels sang in the courts of the high kings. The song was bittersweet and sad and yet filled with an intense hope and energy, a longing and love that was touching his very heart. She sang for a while and when she stopped he had to discretely wipe away a tear from his eyes, he stared at her in awe. “That song, what is it called?”

 

 

 

She bowed her head, pleased with the fact that he had liked her song. “ It is called the song of tomorrow my lord, and my father made it for mother, so that she would remember that there always is hope.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter one: gifts given….

 

 

 

They came early one morning, the light of Anor hadn’t yet managed to color the sky and the beach had been very silent. He had laid curled up underneath a bush, trembling in uneasy sleep and too caught by his dreams to notice anything before it was too late. Hands were grasping him and he woke up with a start, gasping. Nobody had touched him for a very long time, so long he had lost track of time. Voices spoke in a language he didn’t know, he tried to fight but a cloth stinking of something strange was being pressed against his mouth and nose and he had to breathe. It made him dizzy right away and the world fell away from him, darkness enveloped him and his last thought was that whatever horrors it was that awaited him, he surely deserved it.

 

 

 

He woke up slowly, feeling nauseous and yet again that cloth was being held over his face, he gasped and struggled but everything disappeared again. It happened several times and he managed to notice that he was being transported. He felt a carriage move underneath him, felt scents and heard sounds he hadn’t heard for ages. Hands touched him, smeared his dry and cracked skin with ointments, washed his hair, oiled it, brushed it. He didn’t try to resist, he didn’t have the strength, he wasn’t able to think, to do anything really except await his destiny. Did they know who he was? Did they know what he had done? Or perhaps it didn’t matter?

 

 

 

They were men these who had captured him, he could smell it and their language was one he never had heard before. Sometimes the cloth smelled of something that was different, it only made him feel disoriented and weak, it was then they fed him. He was forced to eat and drink, and the food wasn’t bad at all, but he didn’t understand why they did this? What did they want?

 

Then he was taken onboard a boat of some sorts and chained to the floor. The place did stink of death and decay and rotten seawater and it made him nauseous. He could just sit there in the darkness and hope that he would see the sun again soon. There was a small opening in the hull not far from where he was placed and he would stretch himself as far as he could, trying to reach the tiny beam of light. To him it had become a life line, the only hope he had left. He was still being fed and taken care off but he felt sore and stiff since he couldn’t move and it almost drove him mad not knowing what was to happen next. Sometimes rough seas made him fear the boat would sink with him in it, and other times he was so thirsty due to the heat it made him desperate but he survived. He remembered what his brother had been through and surely this was nothing compared with the torment Maedhros had been through in the hands of Morgoth.

 

 

 

The sea journey ended, after what seemed like an eternity even to an elf. He was dragged from the boat in the middle of the night and suddenly it seemed like a safe haven, like a protected place where he had been shielded from everything. But he was yet again pushed into a carriage by rough hands and this time it resembled a cage more than anything else.

 

 

 

The smells changed, the sounds too. He had lost track of time, but he knew that he now was far south, and far east too. The sun was warmer than before and the nights darker. He had gotten stronger, they had put more of the light but strong chains onto him, shackles were around his wrists and ankles and a collar around his neck but they were padded as to protect his skin.

 

He didn’t understand.

 

 

 

Then one night he woke up and felt hands touching him but the touch was different, these hands were demanding, searching. They touched him in ways he didn’t like, in ways nobody was supposed to touch anyone. He tried to squirm, tried to get out of the way but the hands were still there, still eagerly stroking and caressing and his body did betray him, The hands in the darkness were so skilled, so determined , before long he shuddered and groaned in release and as soon as he had spilled he heard chuckling laughter and the hands disappeared. Someone was talking, they sounded pleased. He hadn’t really been afraid until then, but now fear started to dig its claws into his chest. What did these humans want?

 

 

 

The carriage rolled on, days turned to weeks and then into months and he was being fed and groomed and when he looked at his own limbs they had regained at least some of their strength and his hair was yet again like silk. The fear pulled him out of his apathy, made him more awake, more aware. He tried to listen to the voices, tried to learn the language. He tried to appear as docile as possible, hoped that the chains would come off but they didn’t. When they reached their destination he already knew what faith it was that awaited him, he was to be sold as a slave, as an exotic plaything for the rich. The thought made him shiver to the bone, made his heart hammer in his chest and sweat to break out all over him.

 

 

 

One of the people who had taken care of him came to get him, it was a tall slender man with a face that wasn’t too bad to look at, he did almost look friendly. He sat down and stared him strait in the eye. “ I pity you, don’t think that I am an evil man, I just did what I had to do, we all need to earn our living. And an elf is exotic and valuable here. They will take good care of you, fear not. If you behave well and please your master you will earn privileges, one day you may even get some influence, or your freedom back. Just don’t despair, use what the maker has given you.”

 

 

 

 

He swallowed, felt how his entire body shivered in fear. The man was right, if he was to survive this he had to play his cards right, use every opportunity. He didn’t want to die, he knew what awaited him on the other side of the veil that separated the world of the living from the halls of the dead, he was surely condemned. He pulled himself together, forced his trembling to stop. He had survived against great odds before, he would prove that he yet again could survive.

 

 

 

He was dragged from the cart and into bright sunlight, so bright it hurt his eyes and made him temporarily blind. He could smell scents so foreign to him and he heard sounds he never had even imagined. It was a city, and it was large. There was hard cobblestone underneath his feet and people everywhere, and the man who held his chain was joined by others who moved around him, guarding him almost. A huge cloak was thrown over him, and the chains were tight, there was nowhere for him to go. The smells became more intense as they approached the city gates, and by now he could see. And what he saw was breathtaking, a huge city build from stones in a soft pink hue, and sand colored bricks and its architecture and style was completely alien to him. There were humans everywhere, crowding the streets and the stench of excrements and sweat mixed with the smells coming from shops selling everything from food to cloth and jewelry. It was a mixture that sent his senses reeling and he gasped for air as he was dragged along. There were black people there, brown people, pale people. People wearing rags and people wearing silk and satin. There were men riding haughty elegant horses of a breed he had never seen before and also people riding some huge animal with a huge lump on its back.

 

 

 

The streets were filled with dogs and pigs and herds of goats, and beggars stood or lay on every corner and for a few moments he just forgot his fear in amazement of all this new that he saw. The buzz of the crowd was ear-piercing and he did notice that quite a few people turned their heads and stared at him. He was taller than anyone else there and even covered with a cloak he stood out in the crowd. The streets were rather narrow and terribly hot and the stench from the open sewer sometimes almost made him retch. Skinny children with eyes too large for their faces were staring from the alleys and he did see that this was a city of both splendor and horror mixed into one. Some buildings had high walls around them, heavily guarded gates and lovely murals painted onto the very walls. Other buildings were crumbling and housed only those without hope for a better future.

 

 

 

He was dragged along for quite a while, then they entered a huge square and he immediately understood that this was a slave marked. There were cages everywhere with people in them and he felt a sickening feeling in his guts. This was terrible, repulsive and just unnatural. He could smell fear, and despair and he saw that the square was sort of split into zones. The expensive slaves were sold at the top of the open area, and he was pulled in that direction. There was a huge tent erected in the shade and he was brought into it. A few men stood within the tent, all dressed in robes made from expensive cloth and they wore heavy jewelry and had their eyes marked with kohl. The man who had to be the leader grinned, a wide pleased grin and the man holding the chains bowed deeply and said something Maglor didn’t understand at all.

 

 

 

The man walked around the tall elf, eying him while letting his fingers play with his goatee, Maglor suddenly felt like a horse at an auction and he forced himself to remain calm. The man chuckled and suddenly he grasped onto the elf’s arm, felt the muscle. Maglor flinched and he felt how his heart was beating in a wild rhythm yet again. He felt rage, and humiliation and more than that he felt fear. Then his ass was pinched and he almost yelped and the man laughed, said something that made the rest of the men laugh as well. He was examined from every angle, his hair pulled and one man even opened his mouth and looked at his teeth. In the end the leader looked pleased and waved his hand and Maglor was lead into a sort of cage.

 

 

 

He felt trapped in more ways than just the physical one, he didn’t understand these humans and he had no way to control his own fate. Before long others started to arrive inside of the cage, all looked like very wealthy men and all stared at him. Some with curiosity, others with obvious lust and some with a sort of antagonism he didn’t understand. He could snatch up a few words here and there, some of the languages resembled that of those who had caught him. One man asked if it could speak. He had never ever been referred to as “it” and felt a burning ball of rage starting to form within his gut. He was not an animal, he was a son of Fëanor, blood of kings.

 

More came, watched, talked and some touched him, checked him over as if he was some animal they were considering buying.

 

 

 

He did understand the strategy though. The owner of the tent was the man who had ordered his capture, and he had allowed potential buyers to check the goods before they started bidding, to raise the price.

 

 

 

He could do nothing but to stand there, enduring the stares and the strange words while he was being glared at. He tried to hide his fear as best as he could while the humans discussed him. They obviously didn’t know anything about elves at all, and he heard some of them argue about whether or not this creature would be able to mate with a human female. But he did notice that they all found him beautiful and that they all wanted him and he wished he had been some scarred terrible thing, to repulsive to look at.

 

 

 

A slave brought some food, and he was allowed to eat. It was some fruits he never had tasted before, they were sweet and sticky but not too bad, and he was given some thin wine. It was sour and not good at all but he did drink it. He was also given some sort of stew, it tasted stale and the meat had to be that of some old goat for it was tough and dry. He ate slowly, not knowing when he would be allowed to eat next and then he tried to find some rest. There was a sort of a box placed within the cage and he sat down onto it, the humans didn’t protest so he guessed that it was alright. He used his keen eyes to learn as much as he could about his surroundings. The guards all carried scimitars and daggers, some had spears and they were well trained, he could see that clearly. There was one guard in special who apparently had to be a sort of special soldier, closer to the master than the rest. He also carried a whip and Maglor could see that it had been used, he felt the faint scent of old blood and cringed. This man took care of the discipline among the slaves, that was rather obvious.

 

 

 

The master was a rather handsome man who couldn’t be all that old, perhaps in his early thirties, he looked as if he was well aware of his power and there was a hint of ruthlessness in his eyes that made Maglor quite sure he had made a fortune from the sufferings of others without ever doubting himself. The evening fell and the master was being served a huge meal with many dishes, some of his friends were gathering around him and Maglor tried to listen to their conversation. The men drank heavily and laughed a lot, the master drank too but not as much as the others, he was obviously very cunning and aware of the dangers of losing control. There was almost a sort of party taking place and Maglor saw that they ate with their fingers and had small bowls of water placed next to them to clean their fingers in. When it got dark a tall man wearing some sort of uniform entered and three veiled women followed him. The master clapped his hands and the men fell silent, they all looked at the women in anticipation.

 

 

 

A small man wearing rags entered carrying a sort of instrument Maglor hadn’t seen before, and he immediately got interested. It was a string instrument with three strings and a bow and the man sat down on the floor and started playing. It was a very slow tune, with a sort of hypnotic quality to it and the women started to dance.

 

Maglor had never seen such dance, all of them wore some sort of flimsy and short top made from a very thin fabric and a type of very wide pants that almost resembled skirts. Their skin was decorated with gold dust and the faces veiled so only their eyes showed. The movements were sensual and slow and very elegant and he sort of understood that these females were professional and probably very valuable. The men clapped and cheered and the women danced for quite a while, and he was impressed although shocked by their lack of inhibitions. Some of the moves were so blatantly sexual it had to be done on purpose and he did notice that everybody there had forgotten about him.

 

 

 

The dancers were finished and left and the master shouted an order and the tall man left and returned with a girl who clearly had to be a slave. She looked terrified and she was wearing only a thin robe she tried to pull tight around herself. The master chuckled and said something and the others there were obviously waiting in suspense. He pointed at one of the other men assembled and he got up, looking very sly and pleased. He walked over to the girl who tried to back away from him but the man grasped onto her long braid and pulled her close, kissed her clumsily but with force and the girl screamed and tried to get away from him.

 

 

 

Maglor felt dizzy, nauseous. He couldn’t believe what he just saw, that humans could be that evil, that uncaring. The man forced the girl down onto the floor and ripped the fabric away from her body, she was screaming and crying and the others there were just laughing, as if it was a joke, as if this poor girl was just a funny thing to play with. The man got on top of her and Maglor turned his head away, he couldn’t watch. The man raped that girl and she screamed in agony and fear and Maglor felt hot tears flowing down his own cheeks. If the value of a human was that low there, then what about himself? He would have preferred being captured by Morgoth, at least he had known that enemy, and known what sort of torment he could expect. The man finished with a roar and then the others also took the poor thing, laughing and obviously making jokes about her.

 

 

 

When they were all finished the girl was unconscious and bleeding badly and the tall man came and just dragged her out of the tent, as if she was a slaughtered animal. Maglor felt cold to the core, he had ended up in hell for sure and he didn’t dare to sleep that night. He just sat there as the others in the tent snored and groaned, too caught by the horror of it all to relax even a wee bit.

 

The daylight brought only more fear, the tent was being cleaned by slaves that didn’t even dare to look at him and he was being fed again. Bread and some sort of bitter tasting cheese and a thin soup that tasted of nothing at all. Then he was dragged out of the cage and chained up in the middle of the tent and the master reappeared, seemingly very fresh and well rested. Huge pillows were brought in and before long the men who had looked at him the day before started arriving. This was an auction and he felt as if he was about to throw back up again all of his breakfast. He stood there with his hands up and the master grinned and ripped off him the dirty loincloth that had protected his modesty at least to some degree.

 

 

 

Maglor tried to control his breathing, tried to remain in control of himself but it was hard, he bit his teeth together so hard his jaw was aching and he kept praying in his mind. Praying for this nightmare to end, for Namo to claim his fëa there and then before he was to suffer the same fate as that poor slavegirl. The void was to prefer if a similar destiny awaited him. The men talked to each other and the atmosphere was cheerful but tense. A huge man entered the tent, he was wearing some robes in glary colors and he carried a sort of very wide scimitar and a ridiculously small hat. He was fat, and the body looked as if he was eating most of the time but there was a sly glimpse within his eyes and he acted as though he was the boss there. Even the master of the tent bowed to him and the man asked something with a voice that was thin and light and not at all suitable for a man of that size. The huge guy was sweating and fanned himself all the time and sat down onto the pillows with a groan. The others didn’t look too happy to see him.

 

 

 

The master of the tent spoke, he pointed at the chained elf and he kept speaking for a while, Maglor wished that he did understand what he was saying but not a word was familiar. Then the master crossed his arms and nodded and a scribe entered carrying a sort of blackboard and he started writing something down, it had to be the names of those present.

 

 

 

The men started shouting, gesturing and pointing and Maglor knew that this was it. He would go to the highest bidder for sure and he felt like weeping. He realized that he, a grown ellon with thousands of years of life behind him, missed his mother. She had protected him when he was an elfling and something had scared him and he swallowed again and again to hide his distress.

 

The voices were getting more and more agitated and the shouts rather loud. The only one not shouting was the huge fat man, he only raised a finger and the scribe added something to the blackboard and Maglor realized that this man probably was working for somebody else. He was obviously bidding over the others there and soon the other men started falling silent. They couldn’t afford the level the bids had reached and at the end only the fat guy and a small man dressed in what could best be described as a dress did bid.

 

The master looked very pleased, he was grinning from one ear to the other and bowed very politely to the two. The scribe was writing very fast and Maglor felt his heart beat like a drum. Then at the end the fat man raised two fingers and the other man let out what could only be a curse and shrugged, he sat down and the master of the tent bowed before the fat man and said something that sounded very respectful.

 

 

 

Maglor shivered, what now? He couldn’t fight, there were too many guards there and he was still weak.  The fat man got up with a moan and shouted and some tall guards wearing some very nice armor and uniforms entered the tent and grasped onto the chains the master released from the tent post. The fat man handed over a huge sack of what could only be gold coins to the master of the tent who looked almost overwhelmed and Maglor was yet again dragged forth. The guards stared at him with clear curiosity and the fat man frowned and yelled something that made them look the other way. Maglor was grasped and his arms bound behind his back, then he was pushed out of the tent and into a sort of wagon. He was chained to the floor of it and it was dark and the air inside of it was heavy and hot and he felt how fear and despair threatened to overwhelm him. He had to fight his urge to pull and tear at the chains with all of his power, he knew it would be in vain.

 

 

 

The wagon started moving and he heard the city again, felt the smells and heard foreign languages. He was alone, so terribly alone and he had no idea of what to do now. What the man who lead him to the marked had told him reemerged in his mind, he had to use whatever the gods had given him to stay alive. He was so tired, so weak and he was shaking all over with fatigue but he managed to stay awake. After a long drive the sounds changed, there was no more shouting and he heard the sound of gates being opened. The one who had bought him had to be rich, this had to be some sort of mansion or palace and he knew that nothing does corrupt like power. He was sweating by the time the wagon stopped and the door was opened. A servant dressed in a vest and sort of skirt released the chains and pulled him out of the wagon and he saw tall walls everywhere with strange mosaics instead of windows. He was then handled by some guards who dragged him in through a door and then into corridors that seemed to stretch on forever. This was no mansion, this was a palace.

 

 

 

He lost track of where he had gone, there were stairs and corridors and gates and after a while they stopped in front of a very solid door that was heavily guarded. He was then handed over to some other servants and they dragged him along for yet more corridors and huge rooms. The building was not too warm and the scents of flowers were heavy everywhere. He had no idea of what this was supposed to mean. At the end he was shoved into a room that had to be some sort of bedroom. It was not too bad, with a rather large bed, a washstand and a closet but it had no window and only one door and that could be locked. The servants gestured for him to sit down and he did, reluctantly and with a dry throat. The servants removed the chains and washed the red marks where they had rested against his skin. Then they came with a sort of collar made from silver and he almost resisted as they put it onto him and screwed it shut. He felt how his guts sort of turned to lead, he was a slave now. Property, a thing to be used and discarded off when he no longer had a value, or simply at a whim. He felt himself shiver again, remembered that slavegirl and he would rather slash his own throat than to suffer that fate.

 

 

 

The servants then dragged him out of the room and into a huge bath that had several pools. He was ordered into one of them with gestures and a small slender elderly man started washing him as if he was some racehorse hard ridden. His hair was washed too, and oiled and brushed and although it felt good to be rid of all the dust it didn’t lift his mood at all. He was getting more and more afraid and the old man looked at him with a hint of pity in his eyes. When he was dry he was given a sort of cloth to wear draped around his waist and he was taken back to the room. Some food was waiting for him and it was very nice, a huge bowl of stew and rice and fresh juice of some sorts and soft bread. The owner of this place did obviously feed his slaves well, Maglor wasn’t hungry but he forced himself to eat, just so that he could keep his mind occupied for a while.

 

 

 

The servants left and the door was locked behind them, he realized that he was all alone and he slowly laid down onto the bed and tried to relax. He quickly understood that he couldn’t, he was shivering still, and tears were burning in his eyes. He pulled the thin blanket over himself, the bed was soft but a bit too short and it smelled funny. Everything was so strange and he forced himself to breathe steadily. He was alive, that was the only thing he knew for sure right now and if he was to stay that way he had to use all he had learned throughout his life. He stared at his palms, they were still scarred by the silmaril and the scars would never fade completely. He just knew that. He remembered them all, all of his lost brothers and he let his tears run freely now. He sobbed and pulled his knees up towards his chest, let the grief and the fear drain from his body. He missed them all, he missed them so badly it burned within his heart like a never dying flame and his sobs turned into a stuttering lament for his brothers, and for himself. He should have had the courage to follow Maedhros into that fiery chasm, at least that had been a quick clean death. Now he was at the mercy of wicked humans and he did doubt that Eru would listen to his prayers, no, he was forlorn and forgotten and if he was to perish in this land of sand and heat who would ever care? He wept until his fatigue got the better of him and he fell into restless sleep.

 

 

 

He woke up to the sound of the lock being opened and he jerked and sat up, his head hurt and he felt the remains of tears on his face. A young boy entered, he looked harmless and wore a collar too, although it wasn’t made from silver but from what had to be bronze. He carried some water in a bucket and a basket of fruit and he smiled.

 

Maglor tried to look harmless, he didn’t want to make enemies the first day there and the boy filled a washbowl and then he opened a narrow door Maglor hadn’t even noticed before. It contained a sort of privy and Maglor blushed. He had to go, he hadn’t even thought of it until now but he got up and entered, he felt a bit better with an empty bladder and the boy pointed at the basked. Maglor walked over and picked out a fruit, he had no idea of how to eat it for the skin was oily and thick and the boy giggled and had to find it hilarious. He grasped the fruit and then he suddenly had a small knife in his hand and cut the fruit into smaller pieces with experienced hands. Maglor sniffed, the smell was sweet and very tempting and he took one bite and found that it was rather wonderful. The boy nodded and went over to the closet. He pulled out a drawer and it was filled with cloth and pulled forth what had to be a loincloth made from blue silk and a sash in the same material. Maglor felt embarrassed. The boy obviously expected to help Maglor getting dressed and that idea that a slave could have slaves was something he had problems understanding.

 

 

 

Maglor got the darn piece of clothing on and the boy nodded with a pleased expression on his face. Maglor felt half naked, but in this heat he supposed that it was very practical. The boy pointed at his own chest with his thumb. “Kôr”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “Is that your name, Kôr?”

 

 

 

The boy repeated the gesture and Maglor pointed at himself.” Macaläure Fëanorion Finwëion”

 

 

 

Kôr just gaped and made a gesture with his hands as if to shrink something. “Maglor”

 

 

 

Kôr gave him a thumbs up and smiled. “Ma-g-lor”

 

 

 

It was barely recognizable as his name but he nodded. “Yes, Maglor”

 

 

 

The boy smiled. “Come”

 

 

 

He pulled at Maglor’s arm and Maglor could only follow him. The guard on the other side of the door did stop them and put some light chains onto Maglor’s wrist but they weren’t tight and obviously only a safety precaution in case the new slave turned out to be a bit rebellious. Kôr walked ahead of him through some very beautiful corridors and rooms and then they entered a huge hall filled with comfortable furniture. Maglor had to blink, he had never seen a room like that and neither had he seen people like those assembled there. He just stared until a deep pleasant voice suddenly broke through the shocked silence. “ My oh my, so it is true. That old son of an ogre have indeed managed to get his hands on one of the eternal. I never believed I would see something like you beautiful one”

 

 

 

The language was understandable but just barely and Maglor turned around slowly and let out a yelp when he saw the man staring at him. He had never even imagined a creature like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A devils heaven, an angels hell... by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:
Maglor finds out where he is and what he is up against, and he is sure that it will be the Death of him. But there are others willing to go very far to keep him alive...

This Chapter is very explicit at the end, and rather long but i could not split it in half without ruining the flow of the story...
Chapter two: A devils heaven, an angels hell…

Maglor could only blink and he knew he did look ridiculous, he didn’t know what to say. The man standing there in front of him was not very tall, he was very toned though and obviously in excellent shape. Elegant was a word that described him pretty well, but the striking thing about him was the fact that he was completely white. His skin was so pale it was unbelievable and his hair was silky and snow white and so long it reached his ass. The eyes were red, Maglor had never seen a human with red eyes and he realized that this man was an albino and also that he was extremely beautiful. He did look like an angel and Maglor did notice that the body was covered with tattoos in a bright red color and also some decorations that had to have been drawn onto his skin. He wore only a very flimsy loincloth and sandals and a slave collar and Maglor tried to look calm but he failed. He was trembling all over.

There were several other men there, at least six or seven and he did see that they all were unusual. One was black as pitch with hundreds of tiny braids flowing down his back, all adorned with gold and gems. Another man sat in a divan smoking a water pipe, he was very tall and his skin was spotted like the coat of some horses. It was a bizarre sight. One young man sat on the floor, obviously busy with some game and he was a beauty with golden hair and blue eyes. Two identical young men sat with some books, they were slender and lithe and had long dark hair and golden skin and huge doe eyes. Two other men sat in another divan, one looked so much like a woman Maglor had to look twice to see that the bone structure of the face actually spoke of masculinity. The man wore a skirt and lots of jewelry and even the body language was feminine. The other one was a rather small man who had to be of mixed origin, he was covered with tattoos and he looked very masculine indeed.
Maglor felt that they all stared at him and he was quite frightened by the fact that they all stared at him with pity. The albino bowed his head. “ I am Artemar, do you understand what I am saying?”

Maglor swallowed, what was this place? “Yes…I…I am Maglor”

Artemar smiled, he had an expression of controlled sadness on his face and he sighed and touched a lock of Maglor’s hair. “Too bad, you are way too beautiful to end up here.”

Maglor swallowed hard again, he had no idea of what he ought to do or say. “What…what is this place?”

Artemar gestured for him to follow him over to a couch and they sat down, Kôr brought them a goblet each and it contained some sort of very sweet fruit juice. “This my friend, is hell!”

Maglor felt himself tremble and he didn’t understand, the other men there appeared to be very well taken care of, nobody was skinny and they all were absolutely gorgeous. He had never seen such a collection of male beauty anywhere. Artemar cocked his head, the red eyes were unreal and like rubies. “ I see that you are filled with questions and I will answer them. There will be a lot for you to learn now but we will try to protect you as much as we can.”

Maglor bit his lower lip. “Protect me? From what?”

Artemar sent him a somewhat dark grin. “From our master, the sha’al of this city. His name is Orieam son of Orien and he is a monster”

Maglor saw that the others there tried not to look at him, they looked guilty somehow.” A monster?”

His voice was trembling and Artemar sighed, crossed his long legs. He was so goddamn unreal and Maglor had never seen any albinos before, except animals. “Yes, I am not going to lie to you elf, this is truly hell, and believe me, if you want to live you have to adapt, and accept.”

Maglor felt a sinking sensation within his gut. “But, what…what does he do?”

Artemar made a gesture, as if to embrace the entire room. “ What the powerful and wicked do of course. What we all have had to endure.”

He stared at Maglor and the expression on his face was cold. “ He will rape you, and break you and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. You are property now and even if you were expensive he will not hesitate to have you killed in a most cruel way should you displease him”

Maglor felt as if the room suddenly had become too small, as if there wasn’t enough air to breathe. He gasped and felt how panic rose within his fęa. He almost sobbed and Artemar continued to stare at him, his eyes distant and cold. “ I am hard on you now, because you need to be prepared. I do not know for how long he will wait but there is to be a feast tomorrow night. I bet he wants to break you in then, so that all can see his newest possession.”

Maglor let out a thin wail, he felt tears forming in his eyes. “ No, oh Eru no. I…I can’t…”

He gasped for air. “There has to be a way out of here?”

Artemar shook his head. “ Only the dead may leave this place my friend, get used to the idea. Should anyone try to escape and get caught the master will make him watch how they pick one of us and torture that person to death very slowly and then the master will let his guards rape the culprit to death. If someone should manage to get out of here, which is impossible in itself, he will have us all killed.”

Maglor just stared, he could not believe his own ears. “Then kill me, please! Knock me over the head with something and strangle me, please!”

Artemar sighed. “ You are not the first one who has said those words Maglor, but if we do we will be punished. I am sorry, I already told you, there is no escape.”

Maglor sobbed and he just knew it, he had just a little more than a day left to live. Artemar reached out, touched his shoulder gently. “ There is a chance that I may manage to make him wait for a few more days but I doubt it. I am sorry”

Maglor gasped and he breathed hard. “ We elves don’t survive rape, our souls…our souls will flee our bodies”

Artemar looked puzzled. “ Always?”

Maglor shrugged. “I think so, oh Eru”

Artemar made a grimace. “ Not good, he will think we have caused it then. It is not unheard of here, many die from poisoning each year.”

Maglor gasped and his eyes were huge. “ What? But…I do not understand anything, are you all his…playthings?”

Artemar nodded. “This my friend is the collection. His grandfather started the tradition, the finest collection of gorgeous males anywhere. Each and everyone here is a gem, a treasure. We are cared for as if we were made from rubies and emeralds but we have no freedom, no rights. It is the devils heaven Maglor, and the devil is our master.”

Maglor almost keened. “So, this is a sort of harem?”

Artemar nodded. “Yes, we are a part of his harem, a separate wing of it you may say. He does also have a nice collection of young men of more ordinary appearance, sometimes they are brought here for some entertainment.”

Maglor tried to control his breathing, but it was hard. “ Entertainment?”

Artemar nodded. “ Do you see the mosaics up on the walls?”

Maglor nodded, there were stunningly beautiful patterns made everywhere, and he could not believe that such beauty in reality hid something so horrible. “Yes?”

Artemar smiled, a stiff smile. “There are peepholes everywhere and hidden corridors behind every wall. The master likes to sneak into them and spy on us. Fortunately I have paid off some of the guards so we know when he is heading our way and can prepare and put on a show.”

Maglor raised an eyebrow. “ Show?”

Artemar smiled again, an ugly smile. “ An orgy, sometimes it is just the eight of us, sometimes he orders that the other males in his harem is brought here, other times he may allow some of his favorite followers some hours here. We have all been through that, he shares us with his loyal men, and that keeps them loyal”

Maglor felt how disbelief was flooding his every thought. “ He shares you?”

Artemar cocked his head. “Yes, so be prepared. If you survive that is. You are so gorgeous they will beg him for a few hours with you. He does share his male slaves you see, to show what a generous and great ruler he is. His female slaves is another thing altogether. Do never touch any of the women in the harem, do not even look at them. He will kill any man who comes close to them.”

Maglor was confused. “And the reason?”

Artemar sipped at his juice and smiled. “ You are not familiar with the culture here are you? Here women are regarded as cattle, as a thing used for breeding and fun and since they are held in such low regard there is no thrill in dominating them. Men who want to be macho will dominate other males instead, that is way more challenging and shows power.”

Artemar had a cynical expression on his face. “The sha’al has a giant harem, at least five hundred concubines but most will never even see him and they are lucky indeed. Then he has forty wives of which only three have had the so called pleasure of his company and then there is the She’el, the queen. She is the one who gave birth to his firstborn son and the only one here who is relatively safe, for now! And why he doesn’t share his concubines? They may become pregnant, and he will not allow other men to plant their seed in his cattle.”

Maglor had started to realize that he indeed had ended up in a whole different world, one where lives were worth nothing and where those with power could crush those without. “I…I see”

Artemar sighed and leaned against the divan, his long eyelashes did make his gaze a little bit softer, but it was still rather unnatural. “The king has three sons and at least seven daughters, he barely bothers with them at all. His oldest one is the heir, but that doesn’t mean that he will be the one in charge when his father leaves this world.”

Maglor was still panting, still feeling as if he was choking slowly. Artemar grasped his hand and Maglor jerked, he wasn’t used to being touched and the hand was surprisingly soft and warm, and comforting. “ I have been here for ten years Maglor, I know the tricks and I know what it takes to survive here. Do not think that this is the end, please. I have watched too many die and I will not sit idly by and watch you die as well.”

Maglor felt an urge to tear his hand free but he didn’t, there was something so very solid and real about the touch, something that anchored him to reality. “Why not? I am a stranger!”

Artemar moved a little closer. “ Yes, but you are an elf, you can possibly live forever and you do have the possibility to outlive us all. Nobody survives here for very long Maglor, not after their beauty starts to fade. If they are lucky they gain some fame and people who admire them and buy them when the Sha’al becomes tired of them. If they are unlucky then, well, their end will not be pretty. “

Artemar leaned forth and his expression was one of intense energy. “ You can change things Maglor, living for centuries means that you will have a value beyond that of your body, you can become a counsellor, a teacher. You can influence the coming generations, and put an end to all this…madness!”

Maglor swallowed hard and Artemar reached out, cupped his chin in his hand. “ Look at you, no angel is that gorgeous, people will adore you and worship you and that gives me hope.”

He smiled and the smile was a very soft almost loving one. “ My mother once told me that the smallest happenings can change the very fabric of time. A flapping butterfly may cause a storm oceans away. You are that butterfly Maglor, your coming to this place is a sign, a harbinger of changes to come. You have got to live, for the sake of all those innocent lives that have been lost here and all those not yet born”

Maglor whimpered. “ But…I am…I am just one… how can I gain influence as a slave?”

Artemar nodded. “ By playing along, by putting on a good show. Do you see these?”

He touched the many gems attached to his white hair, they were rubies and emeralds and sapphires attached to a thin net of silver tread and Maglor knew it had to cost a fortune. “Yes!”

Artemar grinned. “Good, now, this I was given by the master and since a slave cannot own anything it is still his property, I am just wearing it, showing off his wealth. But the gifts we are given by his followers and noble men are ours to keep. He cannot take that from us since it still is their property and they do what they please with what they own. Nobody will protest if you sell some stuff now and then, that is how we keep the guards on our side, by paying them off”

Maglor felt dizzy, confused. “ So the followers pay you for…what? Sex?”

Artemar grinned. “ Oh no, not just that. There is a delicate balance here, we are so much more than the sha’al’s fucktoys. I am a dancer, and many of his men shower me with gifts just to watch me dance. I will teach you the tricks, you see, it is all about seduction, about making each and every one of them think that you are dancing only for them. People are funny that way, they see only what they want to see.”

Maglor felt as if he was calming down, just a tiny bit. Artemar had a very beautiful deep voice that was very pleasant and it was soothing. “So you do perform too?”

Artemar spread his arms. “ Heck yes, we all have talents. “

He pointed at the twins. “Those two over there are Rial and Kenar, they are from the borders to a land way to the north. They are acrobats and contortionists.”

The two winked at him and Maglor could really believe it, they appeared to be very agile indeed. “Then we have the huge guy over there, with the odd skin, he is Suuna, from north east of here. He is a singer believe it or not. And he has other talents too. “

Maglor thought that the man looked way more like a warrior than a singer. “The black man is Aerhan, he is the oldest among us and he is juggling and he is also a master with a whip. Then we have the blonde over by the game, his name is Demetry and he is a dancer too. I am teaching him all that I can. The short guy with the tattoos is Kerfem, he is a master at card tricks and illusions and then we have the lovely Noolar who is both singing and dancing”

Maglor was trembling still. “ I…I used to be a musician, I can…I can sing. And play, I can play the lyre. Maybe….Maybe the master will be pleased with just that?”

Artemar shook his head. “No, to him we are just nice tight holes he can fuck, with a pretty wrapping around them. He doesn’t care if you can make the angels swoon with your voice, all he cares about is your ass”

Maglor felt that tight feeling in his chest again. “ Oh Eru, I am doomed.”

He felt a wave of despair descend upon him and his tears started flowing again. “ You have no idea of what awaits me on the other side, I am forever cursed!”

Artemar took a deep breath. “Then I have just one advice to give you, stay alive!”

Maglor keened, he wanted to curl up into a ball again. “ What if I die by accident, they cannot punish you then?”

Artemar scoffed. “ Accident? We are watched constantly, and yes, he will punish the rest of us anyhow. He loves punishment that one.”

Maglor had to lean forwards, he felt dizzy again, as if this was some unreal and terrible dream. “ I can’t let him do it, I can’t!”

Artemar sighed and his hand slid through Maglor’s silky hair. “ But you have to, for us. He will be angry if you die before he has had the time to really enjoy you and when he gets angry someone will be hurt.”

Maglor just sobbed, he was breaking apart, the fear in him reaching a terrifying level. “Then I will die tomorrow night knowing I have caused you too harm. I am truly cursed”

Artemar bit his lower lip. “ I cannot lie to you Maglor, our master is a brutal beast and he never thinks about anything except his own pleasure. It will be terrible, I can assure you of that, you will get hurt and he will enjoy watching you in agony. But he is quick, he usually comes fast and when he is a bit drunk he doesn’t always get really hard. Which is good for he is hung like a donkey, he is truly a freak of nature”

Maglor just keened and Artemar shook his head, then he sat down next to the elf and embraced him. “ Listen, we are a brotherhood here, we all rely on each other. There is nobody else we can trust do you hear? You have brought hope! That monster cannot live forever, he is just a man. You are so much more. I can promise you that we will do all that is in our power to make sure that you survive, and that he doesn’t ask for you too often. I have been his favorite up until now and if it means that I have to endure his sick pleasures even more often than before then be it. I can seduce him, I know the things that turn him on, and I can cope with it”

Maglor felt empty, he had no strength left. “You are willing to do that, for me?!”

Artemar nodded and the rest got up and gathered around him. “ We all are, you are like a beacon in a black stormy night. You can change things, we know you can”

It was Suuna that spoke and the others nodded. “ Do not be afraid, the gods will protect you”

Maglor had to sneer, a bitter grimace. “ My god’s have cursed me!”

Artemar stroked his hair. “Then forget about them, there are so many gods out there, I pray to the great goddess, she gives strength to those bold enough to fight”

Maglor just leaned heavily against the albino, heaving for air and Artemar kept stroking his hair. “ I will tell Belerur, the top eunuch here that you may have some sort of exotic disease. He is terrified of sickness.”

Maglor had his eyes closed still. He wanted to shut the world out. “ Belerur?”

Rial, or was it Kenar grinned. “ You have probably met him, he is the mountain of blubber that the master sends out to buy new slaves. He is an asshole of grand proportions but he is very good at keeping things organized and he is stupid too. He can be fooled into helping out when things get too tough and he thinks he is so powerful and great. If you lick his ass, not literally mind you, he will give you special treatment for sure”

Maglor made a grimace, he remembered that huge fat man and he felt a shiver of disgust running down his spine. So he was an eunuch, that explained the girlish voice and the size of the guy. “ I…I do not think that will work, we elves do not get sick.”

Artemar raised an eyebrow. “ But Belerur doesn’t know that now does he?”

Suuna shook his head. “ He is no fool Artemar, he has checked Maglor out, he knows he is healthy. He would not have bought him otherwise.”

Artemar made a grimace. “ Well, you are right, of course. But Maglor, you have got to believe me, you must live!”

The elf bit his lower lip, eyes still wide with fear and disgust. “I still cannot understand why that is so important to you. I will still be a slave won’t I? That may never change.”

Artemar stroked Maglor’s shoulder in a soothing gesture. “ It will, believe me it will. His heir will of course inherit his father’s harem and us included and to be honest his sons are as bad as their father, but their sons again, they may be manipulated.”

Maglor swallowed, Artemar had a peculiar scent of sandalwood and roses and it was comfortable. “ But only one will be sha’al right?”

Artemar nodded. “ Yes, Orieam have been sha’al for fifteen years, that is a record. Usually they never last more than five years at the most but he is so ruthless and mean he has stayed alive longer than any of his ancestors. He killed all his brothers to get the title, he was originally third in line”

Maglor gasped. “ He killed his brothers?!”

Artemar heard the sore tone in the elf’s voice and nodded with a sad smile. “ Yes, being heir is dangerous, extremely so. I think there only have been two cases where the firstborn ended up on the throne. They were smart enough to have all their younger brothers killed before they reached adulthood.”

Maglor felt sick, physically sick! “So then the entire property of the father goes to the one bold and cruel enough to have his own flesh and blood murdered?”

Artemar huffed. “ Oh yes, and that doesn’t stop there, oh no. With Orieam on the throne it has stopped but with previous rulers the body count in the harem was extreme. The wives would murder each other to get closer to the sha’al and bear him sons and the concubines were no less savage. These days there is no fight there, if they were to fight it would be to avoid his attention”

Artemar continued, massaging the elf’s neck, he was as tense as a bowstring and shivering still. “ But in the early days the heir would start from scratch, when a ruler died all of his slaves and servants, wives and concubines and guards and horses and treasure would be buried with him. They would strangle everyone.”

Suuna made a wry grin. “ But it got too expensive in the end, they quit doing it a few centuries ago. Back then everybody would pray that the ruler would live forever.”

Maglor could hardly believe his own ears. “ That is awful!”

Demetry shrugged. “ Yes, but it was quite usual. My people would bury a king with all his goods too, and build a huge mound over the grave and then they would kill two hundred young boys and two hundred horses and mount them up around the tomb. It was the way it was done.”

“Oh Eru, I feel sick”

Maglor’s voice was thin and he tried to overcome his need to retch. Oh he had seen blood and gore enough, he had been there at the great battles, seen what Morgoth’s armies did to their enemies and he had shed blood too, way too much blood. But he had never heard of customs like these, ever.

He had to close his eyes, had to calm himself. Noolar sat down and put a hand on his knee, the strange features of the man were confusing, It was so hard to tell if he was a male or a female if you didn’t look very hard. “Things have changed, and they will continue to change, and you will bring a new start. It has been seen”

Maglor frowned. “What do you mean it has been seen?”

Artemar waved at Kôr who had stood by the door the whole time, ready to take orders. He ran off and returned with some sort of decanter. It smelled sweetly of cinnamon and vanilla and the albino poured the liquid into a cup. “Here, this will help you calm down.”

Maglor took a sip, the drink was very sweet but also strong and it left a simmering heat in his guts. It was good, and he drank the whole cup. Artemar patted him on the back. “ Great, yes, it has been seen. That is why we are so eager and why we all hope that you will make it. “

Maglor frowned. “ I do not understand?”

Noolar grinned, those dark eyes were really expressive. “ In this city there is a temple, and in that temple there are priestesses. They are the only females in this land who receive any respect from the men, in fact they can come and go as they like everywhere and nobody, not even the sha’al has the authority to give them orders. They are chosen by the Gods, sacred beings capable of seeing through the veil that separate the world of the living from the world of the dead.”

Artemar continued. “The rich often hire them to see the future of their children, to find the perfect spouse or to find existential answers. One of them came here two years ago, to tell the fortune of a daughter born to one of the sha’al’s wives. She said the baby would live for a year and a day and she did poor thing. But she stopped here too, apparently out of curiosity for the priestesses of fire is the only females allowed to see us except from the ones already in the harem”

Maglor waited, he felt tired and strangely hollow, drained somehow. “She sat down to speak to me, and she used the ancient language of this lands. I understand it, the guards do not and neither does the sha’al. She told us that there would come a stranger from lands afar, one of the first born people, one carrying the grief and regrets of many. One who would change it all”

Maglor shrugged. “ I have barely believed in prophecies.”

A shudder ran down his spine as he said those words, he remembered what Namo had said, the doom of the noldor, in tears and blood …

Artemar had a strict expression upon his fair face. “The priestesses are never wrong, believe me. She said that the stranger would have eyes of silvery grey and hair like black silk and that he would bring an end to the reign of the sha’al’s. It would take time, but it would happen. She also said that if the prophecy was broken darkness would engulf this land and it would fall into the hands of evil.”

Maglor grunted. “ She cannot have known anything about us elves then”

Artemar caught his eyes, the red was so tantalizingly sharp against the white eyelashes and the white skin. “ She said you would be in danger, but she didn’t say why. Then she gave me a seedpod from a poppy and told me we would understand.”

Maglor let out a small whine of despair, he was starting to feel more and more as if he was caught in some bizarre nightmare. “ And do you understand?”

Artemar shook his head. “Not yet, but I think we ought to ask old Harbal, he is the master of the baths and he is the healer here as well. He is so old and frail nobody bothers with him anymore but in truth he is very smart and also sly if he needs to be.”

Maglor remembered the man who had washed him, and the look of pity in his eyes, “ I do not think that matters, I have seen what happens to my people when their bodies have been violated, I am going to the void to join my brothers and my father and all those who followed us”

Kerfem tilted his head, the strange tattoos made him look feral and very barbaric but there was a sort of wisdom in his gaze that told Maglor he was way more than he appeared to be. “I think you have quite a story to tell Maglor, and we are all honored if you will share it with us, but that will have to wait until later. I do believe in the priestesses, I have seen them do miracles, and nobody here dares to question their powers. Believe, do it and you will live. I am sure of it”

The elf held onto the cup with trembling hands and Artemar poured yet another solid dose of the liquor. Maglor emptied the cup in one go, it burned but it was a good burn. “ I have lost whatever faith I once had”

Noolar tilted his head and pulled the long hair aside in a very sensual gesture. “Where I am from I am considered sacred, those like me are revered. But a tribe that lives not far from us believed that we were the work of some demon and ought to be killed. Yet both tribes prayed to the same god, it was just a cultural difference. I have not stopped praying to my deities because of that”

Maglor managed to produce a thin smile. “ I have a great reason for not believing I think.”

Artemar clapped his hands. “Do not turn this into a discussion about religion and stuff, that is for another time. There is way more important things at stake here.”

He waved his hands at Kôr and the boy ran off. Maglor stared after him. “ He is so young”

Aerhan crossed his legs and flexed his muscles, his face was a bit bitter. “ I was way younger when I was sold as a slave. Most slaves are born live and die that way, and they are lucky for, they have never tasted freedom and knows little of how sweet it is.”

Maglor was shocked yet again. “They sell children too?”

Artemar put on a very nasty grin. “ Of course they do, children are easy to control, can be manipulated and they are cheap so the loss isn’t that great if they die.”

Maglor let out a puff of air, he was getting more and more aghast. “That is just sick! Who sells their own child?!”

Kerfem shrugged. “ The poor and the desperate, those who knows that the child may have a chance of surviving as a slave. After all, a slave has some value, a free man has none if he isn’t rich.”

Maglor just shook his head in disbelief. “ So, what is a slave worth these days?”

Aerhan made a grimace. “ Well, a strong healthy male is most expensive, we talk about at least five gold coins. A strong young female is worth three but if she is pregnant she is worth three and a half so many slave traders do rape the females to increase their value at the market. A child is half a coin if it is under eight years of age and one if it is older. An elderly slave is worth from two up to five depending on what he or she has been working with. Few slaves are worth more than fifty gold coins.”

Artemar grinned, a somewhat proud grin. “ I was the most expensive one here, the harem master paid two hundred and fifty gold coins and a handful of grape sized rubies for me.”

Maglor felt a sort of bizarre curiosity. “ Do you know what they paid for me?”

Artemar grinned widely “Rumors do fly fast, even here my friend. Of course we know what he paid for you, one thousand gold coins and a bag of diamonds the size of a fist”

Maglor was stunned, he just gaped and Artemar chuckled. “ So you see, everybody who is someone in this realm now knows that the sha’al has a slave like none other. And they will kiss his feet and fawn up to him like never before just to catch a glance of you. It is power in that elf, a great power.”

Maglor felt his insides churn, he could hardly believe it. Kôr came running and the old man from the bath followed him, he was seemingly very fragile but he moved with the elegance of youth and his eyes were sharp. Artemar bowed his head and explained the situation, that elves do die from being raped and that the sha’al probably would claim Maglor the next evening. He also told of the priestess and her prophecy. Maglor didn’t understand that much of what they said but he saw that the old man was thinking hard. He went over and then he laid a hand on Maglor’s chest, over his heart. He seemed to count his heartbeat and then he nodded and looked pleased. “There is a way, I can feel strength in you, you have survived much, you will live through this. The gods have forgotten about you for now, they will not claim you for they are blind to those who suffer.”

Artemar translated and Maglor frowned. The old man seemed to know a great deal about the valar, it was a bit sinister. Harbal coughed and sat down, got a cup of liquor too and tossed it back as if it was water. “The poppy yes, you do all know about poppy milk?”

Everybody nodded, even Maglor. He had seen it being used as a strong painkiller but it was rare and very expensive. Artemar sighed, “ I know the milk very well, so do we all”

Harbal grinned, he had few teeth left and those he had were dark. “Few know about this but there is something else one can make from poppy. It is extremely strong and very dangerous and very few knows how to make it.”

Maglor got a bit curious, he had always believed that elvish medicine was the best there is. “What is it?”

Harbal made a vague gesture. “They call it different things in different places, but you mix poppy milk and the pollen of a rare flower with some herbs and it is dried and grounded into a dust which is mixed with alcohol. It kills pain and is very efficient at it too, but more so, it does create a sensation of not really being present. You feel as though you are dreaming, as if nothing is real”

Artemar looked a bit shocked. “I think I have heard of that, it can drive people in sane right?”

Harbal nodded. “ If they get addicted that is. But just once is usually harmless. I have no idea of whether or not it will work on an elf though.”

Maglor frowned. “ How is it supposed to help me?”

Harbal sent him a smile that actually was kind of sweet, the old man seemed to be a genuinely good person. “You will of course feel everything that happens, and know that it happens but at the same time it will be as if it is happening to somebody else, as if you aren’t really there. That may save your soul”

Maglor swallowed hard, drugged! That was if not the ultimate humiliation then at least pretty darn close. “Will he not notice?”

Aerhan grinned. “Nope, he will see that you are a bit lethargic but to him that doesn’t matter at all, he will just think it is convenient, less struggling and effort. We have often drugged those he have bought, to make it easier on them.”

Rial and Kenar both made some grim faces. “We were drugged, it was horrible still, but we managed to deal with it. And he prefers to watch us do each other, guess it is some odd kink of his”

Maglor almost gaped. “ But…you are brothers?!”

The two shrugged. “ Matters not to him, if he wants it then we have to do it.!”

Artemar stared at Harbal. “ Do you have any of that drug here? Please say you do.”

Harbal smiled, a sly grin. “ Of course I do, it is not legal mind you but all the good healers do keep some”

Artemar let out a sigh of relief. “Thank the Godess, then we must try it. It could be the only chance. “

Maglor swallowed hard. “ I will try, I have no idea of whether or not it will work but I will try”

Harbal patted his shoulder. “You are brave my beautiful one. I will come with it at noon tomorrow, it needs some time to work. I will make it extra strong, and help you prepare”

Maglor saw that the others there looked relieved and a sudden thought struck him. “ Uh, you said orgies, that means that I too will have to…”

Artemar nodded. “ Most certainly, but by then I bet you will have gotten used to us, and this place.”

The elf stared at the assembled men. “ Tell me, are you all…well…do you all prefer males?!”

Artemar shook his head. “ Heck no, but it doesn’t matter here, we just do what we have to do to stay alive. If you cannot take you must be taken, easy as that. Among us only Noolar and me prefer males and I do like females too.”

Maglor bit his lower lip. “ I do like females, I was actually on the verge of getting married but then things…happened”

He could barely remember her though, a sweet elleth his mother had introduced him to, and there had perhaps been friendship between them but hardly more than that. At least at that time. He did remember his older brother though, and Fingon. There had been love between those two, great love. Aerhan grunted. “ There are slave girls working here, they are free for all. “

Maglor cringed. “That is just awful, free for all? And how do you know if they are among those and not some concubine or something?”

Artemar grinned. “ Easy, the concubines are not allowed out of their wing of the palace. The slavegirls can go wherever they are ordered to go. And besides that, they wear no veil, decent women are veiled, always.”

Maglor just shook his head, human customs! He did remember that many wore veils back in Valinor but that was to protect their skin and eyes from the light of the trees, those born in middle earth wasn’t used to such light and could be blinded.
Harbal got to his feet and patted the elf on the top of his head, he said something that made Artemar grin and then he left. Kôr followed him and Artemar sat back and made a vague gesture, “ So Maglor, what sort of experience do you have?”

Maglor felt confused, the language caused him some problems until he managed to wrap his head around the word for experience. “What do you mean?”

Aerhan tossed his head back and the thin braids made a small sound, there had to be some sort of bells attached to them, perhaps it was some of the beads. “ He means sexual experience of course, have you ever been with a man? Been taken?”

Maglor felt himself blush. “ No, never!”

Artemar cocked his head, he had an expression of slight resignation. “ Have you taken another man? You do have some experience I hope for by the Godess, if you are a virgin you are in for the shock of this age”

Maglor felt his cheeks burn, he swallowed hard. “ I…I have only been with females, a few times”

He had been popular back in the days of the trees and many had wanted to bed him but he had been too busy with his music and later on, well, love was not what he thought of when the oath drove them all headlong into disaster and bloodshed.
Artemar looked as if he was in despair. “ Oh by every sacred temple, that is rather bad. Have you seen others make love, other males?”

Maglor couldn’t help it, a very unwelcome memory popped up from his mind. He had returned home late one evening after a long day at the musical academy of Tirion and he had decided to go through the gardens to his room since he was tired and didn’t want to meet anyone. He had almost reached his destination when he heard a distant sound, almost a sort of whimper and he got curious, it came from a part of the gardens they hardly ever used, Nerdanel had tried to grow some herbs in there but they had grown a little too well and it had become a jungle. The plan was to rip it all up and plant something a bit more manageable but it hadn’t been done yet. Had some wounded animal decided to hide there?

He had entered, slowly and with stealth not to startle any unfortunate creatures but what he did see had made him freeze and just stare through the dense veils of vines. It was his brother and Fingon and Maglor had to put his hand over his mouth not to shout out and reveal that he was there. Maedhros was on his knees behind Fingon who had his ass tightly pressed against Maedhro’s crotch and his chest was almost on the ground, his arms stretched out and he was grasping onto some tufts of grass as if he was afraid he would be dragged away or something. It was he who had made the sound, and he made more. Keening wailing gasps and grunts as Maedhros kept thrusting in a fast but steady rhythm. At first Maglor didn’t even understand what he saw, then it dawned upon him and he felt himself go beet red. His brother and cousin were fucking, Maedhros was mounting Fingon like a dog mounts a bitch and Maglor wanted to be gone, to leave but he couldn’t. There was something so lewd and disturbing by the sight and sounds and yet something about it was hypnotizing.

Fingon’s long dark hair was like a sea around his head, he had tilted his face to the side, the expression one of utter ecstasy and Maedhros was moving with such force there was a smacking sound with each thrust. Both were covered in sweat and panting and Maedhros long red hair was a river of fire down his back, swaying with his moves. Then Fingon tensed up, his mouth an open O and his eyes clenched shut. He almost screamed but it came out as a series of sharp grunts instead and Maglor could see that his cock twitched and jumped and shot jets of white come over the grass and his stomach. Maedhros groaned and slammed into his cousin even harder and then he too came, hard judging by his expression of pleasure bordering on agony.

Maglor had snapped out of the transfixed state, had hurried back without being seen and he had been shaking all over. He was hard as a rock, panting and so ashamed of himself he could have cried. He had watched his own brother fuck and he had become aroused, was he some sort of pervert? He had not slept that night but lain there tossing back and forth, trying to fight his own desire. In the end he had given up, put a hand to himself and as he came with a cry he saw those two, and envied them both.
He brushed the memory away, tried to smile. “ I have, by accident, once”

Artemar sighed, “ Darn, well, better than never I guess. We will have to prepare you Maglor, to make sure that your body is ready and that your soul too can handle what is to come. When I came here an older slave taught me all I had to know and the first lesson was that to endure you first have to learn how to enjoy.”

Maglor started to feel nervous. “ I am not sure that I…”

Artemar touched his chin, stroked it gently. “Maglor, nobody here wants to force you into anything, believe me! In this realm we are your only friends so far. But you have to understand this, there is no way around it. If you are to endure what he is to do to you; you cannot be ignorant. The body has its own memory, if it has experienced pleasure once it will seek it again, and a violation may seem less horrible. At least you will know what you are heading into”

Maglor felt himself tremble, he remembered those hands in the night, the feeling of being utterly helpless, unable to resist. “ I…when I was captured I was…touched. It was terrible, even if I came”

The albino nodded in sympathy. “ That has happened to most of us, they wish to check the goods, to make sure they aren’t damaged in any way.”

Maglor remembered something from when he stood there in the tent, waiting to be sold. “ Ah, there is one thing…”

Artemar smiled. “ Out with it, be not afraid to speak or ask questions.”

Maglor felt embarrassed like never before. “ At the auction where I was sold, the men there, they stared at my…cock! A lot!”

Artemar lifted an eyebrow. “ Easy, you haven’t been circumcised. That is highly unusual in these parts”

Maglor didn’t recognize the word. “Circumcised?”

Artemar sighed and shrugged, then he pulled down his loincloth and Maglor felt himself blush again, violently. Elves are not shy of nature and nudity is natural to them but he still had some slight problems with others being undressed around him. He felt as if he was some sort of freak due to his history, and he also felt that he was undeserving of any care or compassion. But he had to stare, Artemar was very well endowed for a human and his cock did look rather pale too, even the head of it. But Maglor immediately saw that something was missing. “ Eru, what has happened to your foreskin?”

Artemar grinned. “That my friend is being circumcised, they cut it off”

Maglor groaned, the thought of having such a sensitive part of the body removed was enough to make him wince and his balls tried to return up to his stomach. “That is mutilation? We elves don’t do stuff like that, ever!”

Artemar just shrugged and let a hand glide over the soft skin above his sex. “ Better than being turned into a eunuch, that can kill you. Most boys are circumcised when they are just babies, it is more easy and then they won’t remember.”

Maglor shuddered. “ You humans are vile at times.”

Artemar nodded. “ Indeed. For instance, Belerur is one of those eunuchs that have had both his sack and his cock removed, few survive that procedure so he was pretty expensive. But he cannot do anything to a female, some who have had their balls taken out can still get a hard on and fuck. There won’t be any kids of course but to some even the idea of another man’s cock in their women is enough to send them into a fit of uncontrollable rage.”

Maglor was aghast. “ But how does he pee?”

Artemar grinned, a wide and vicious grin. “ Like a girl, squatting!”

Maglor had to grin, that was in a way something that huge guy deserved. Artemar smiled again and leaned back into the divan. “ So, like I said earlier, you need to be prepared. Are you ready for the first lesson?”

Maglor tensed up. “ Uh, I…I am not sure, I…”

Artemar caressed his cheeks, almost lovingly. “ I understand, believe me I do. Normally we would have taken this very slowly, given you weeks to adapt and get used to the whole concept of being here. But we have just a little over a day left, you are going to have to get a crash course I fear”

Maglor bit his lower lip, his heart was speeding like crazy and he was getting the sensation of panic again. “ I don’t think I can handle being touched, please!”

Artemar let a hand slide through his hair. “ You have to surrender to this Maglor, there is no other choice. We will take it slowly and nobody will do anything you can get hurt from. And we will stop the moment you ask for it, but for your own sake, you must at least try”

He knew the albino was right, deep within he knew that there was no other choice. But the idea of others touching him, it was so alien to him now. He didn’t even know for how long he had lived like an animal, roaming the sea shores in endless regret and shame. Would they be so kind to him whence they knew what he had done? But to humans such things seemed to be meaningless, to them the act of kinslaying was something ordinary, almost mundane. “ I…I will try”

His voice was trembling and Artemar smiled, a very soft smile. “ There you go, you are brave. Now, here is how we are going to do this. We are to retreat to your chamber, it is your own private room if one can use such a term here, if you are in there nobody will bother you unless of course the master asks for you, or Belerur.”

Maglor shuddered, he felt terribly nervous and not at all ready for anything that had to do with sex. Artemar got up and gave Maglor a hand, hoisted him up onto his feet. Artemar was still naked but it didn’t seem to bother him at all, and he was very beautiful for a human being, he could almost have been mistaken for an elf but he was shorter than most elves and perhaps a bit stockier. “ It will only be me and the twins, they are there just to stimulate, and they do that well. Is that alright with you?”

Maglor nodded. “ I…I think so!”

Artemar shouted something and Kôr came running. “ Bring wine and food to Maglor’s rooms, and some massage oil too, the nice lavender one.”

Kôr grinned and ran off and Artemar took Maglor’s hand. “ Don’t be afraid my friend, I know how to please someone, in fact I am an expert at it. I was trained by Emertham and he was a master unlike none other.”

Maglor frowned. “ Really?”

Artemar nodded and they started walking towards the room Maglor had gotten. “ He was one who had been taught how to train pleasure slaves. He was very valuable and the sha’al’s father was very fond of him. The slaves he trained were always sold at very high prices and their masters were very satisfied with their performances.”

Maglor had a hard time wrapping his head around the concept of having someone train others in such activities. They reached the room and the twins entered, they grinned and sat down on the bed. Kôr came with a basket with stuff in it and everything was placed on the small table in the corner. Artemar immediately got the bottle of wine and uncorked it, poured a lot of the golden liquid into a glass and handed it over to Maglor. Then he sliced some fruits into pieces with a dull knife and patted the bed with his hand. “ Come now, sit here with me”

Maglor sipped at the wine, his throat was dry and he was afraid. He knew that Artemar didn’t want to harm him and he already trusted the man for what else could he do, but the very idea was so foreign. Elves were not human, they could of course have sex just for the sheer pleasure and fun of it but it was more common for them to only do it with their one true mate and to stay true to that other their entire life. “What…what are you going to do?”

Artemar chuckled. “ First we are gonna watch the twins have some fun, like I said, stimulation, and then we will take it one step further.”

Maglor blushed, he had to swallow hard and took a mouthful of wine again, it was a very good wine and he felt thirsty. It had to be all the emotional stress. Artemar took some pieces of fruit and presented them to him. “Try these, they are delicious”

Maglor hesitated a moment, then he picked the fruit from Artemar’s fingers with his lips and Artemar smiled, a very pleased smile. “ You have it in you, I can tell. You can be a true master at seduction my friend. My masterpiece”

The twins stood there in front of them,, in the middle of the room and they had a naughty expression upon their faces. Then one went down on his knees and pulled open the sash around his brother’s waist. The loincloth was made from light green silk and Artemar nodded towards the two. “ The only way to tell them apart is by their colors. Rial likes green and Kenar blue.”

So it was Rial who stood there and Kenar who pulled down the loincloth. Maglor felt how embarrassment made his skin flush and he wanted to look the other way. This was too private, too intimate to watch and yet he had to. Artemar seemed to be able to read his mind. “ Don’t worry, they are used to it. They have others watching all the time. They have learned to ignore their surroundings, you will too”

Maglor felt an insistent need to leave, to avoid this and yet, in some dark place deep within him something did find the idea of watching quite exciting. He remembered what he had seen in the garden and he had to swallow hard. Oh he was cursed for sure. “But they are siblings, are there no rules here about that sort of thing? It seems so unnatural.”

Artemar chuckled. “For common people? Oh yes, but remember, you are talking about a culture where it was considered quite normal and in fact perfectly recommendable that a man married his sisters to keep the royal blood pure. Too many generations with that sort of practice and see what we have gotten, monsters like the sha’al.”

He grinned. “And unnatural? Maybe, but they have been forced to get used to it, and there is no shame in that. Like I have said earlier, we do what we can to stay alive.”

Kenar had started caressing his brothers thighs, nuzzling them like an affectionate cat greets its owner. Rial had already gotten hard and his cock pressed tightly against his toned stomach. Maglor did realize that something more than their foreskins were missing. “ Ah, do you shave?”

Artemar was laughing, he seemed to be completely shocked by Maglor’s lack of knowledge. “Of course we do, we’ll have to shave you too, here body hair is regarded as something utterly revolting. Everybody removes their hair, except the priestesses.”

Maglor moaned, that too! He didn’t have much body hair, like all elves he only had hair on his head and a little in his groin around his cock but removing that was bad enough. “Most people I have heard of don’t allow relatives to marry?”

Artemar was leaning back onto the bed, sort of half sitting with his weight on one arm. “That is wise of them, but here that was tradition among the kings and rulers of old. They would rather have their sisters as wives than having someone else from outside the family deflower them, and possibly gaining power from being married into the family.”

Maglor was staring to have problems, Kenar was licking the sensitive skin of Rial’s inner thighs and Rial was moaning and caressing his own nipples. It was such an erotic sight and utterly wrong and at the same time so terribly…tantalizing, and arousing too. Artemar was hard already, Maglor almost yelped when he saw the size of the man’s erection, he was impressive indeed. But he was fighting hard to control himself, he had never believed that he could be turned on by watching other males doing this, but he was, and he felt waves of sheer shame rush through him. Artemar put a hand on his thigh, very lightly and in a friendly manner and Maglor yelped and twitched. “ By every god, you are as jumpy as a cat in a doghouse. What is wrong?”

Maglor panted, Kenar had taken Rial’s cock into his mouth and was bobbing his head up and down, using his tongue and hand and he was making some very lewd sounds. Rial was whimpering, and he was trembling a bit too. “ I…I must be sick somehow, twisted! I feel like a pervert.”

Artemar took a quick peek at Maglor’s crotch, his loincloth had started to tent and Artemar sighed. “ Oh for heavens sake elf, there is nothing wrong with you. Do you hear me? All living beings are created to breed, to have sex, and watching the act being performed will arouse you, even if it is two males. Very few people are strictly bound to like just one gender, they may think so but it is a lie. You are perfectly healthy, and by the way, the twins would be terribly annoyed and confused if you failed to respond. That would be the first! Nobody have managed to remain cold when they do their best.”

Maglor felt his heart beating faster, he was sweating and the loincloth had become very tight indeed. Artemar started stroking his back, slow gentle movements that were very soothing and somehow they actually made him relax a lot. He felt that Artemar’s hands were rather soft, but there was strength in them and he obviously knew how to make someone surrender to his touch. The twins were both gorgeous, he had to admit that. Elves are very appreciative of beauty in whatever form it takes and they did please his sense of esthetics. Kenar was turning his brother around a little bit so Maglor could see what he was doing in detail, and the elf had started to feel rather confused by his own emotions. This was all wrong according to what he had learned in his youth, it was sinful and shameful and just sheer depravity. But why then did he feel so honored by their efforts, by their trust and help?

Oh by Eru, who was he trying to fool anyhow? Wasn’t he already cursed? Why would he care if he added one more sin to his list? He was destined for the void no matter what he did and what could possibly be worse than that? He was alive at the moment so why shouldn’t he enjoy it as long as it lasted? He was not the one to be a hypocrite, to lay false blame on others when in reality he too coveted what they had. If he was to live on then he should at least do it with honesty, not trying to be somebody he wasn’t, nor deny his own feelings. The elves were not flawless, not the way the valar wanted them to be. He had seen that on numerous occasions.
He remembered one day when he had joined his father for a meeting with his oldest uncle, Fëanor had been raging, so angry he was literally shaking but Maglor had seen so much more than just rage in his father’s eyes when he watched him stare at Fingolfin. There had been some sort of hurt pride in them, and later on, when he became mature enough to recognize that sort of feelings, he knew he had seen lust too. A burning raging lust, a desire to possess, to conquer and dominate and Maglor had realized that his father never truly hated his brothers, he resented them yes, but he also wanted their love and admiration, also in a physical sense. He had wondered if this meant that his father indeed had been tainted, marred somehow, later on he just knew that what he had seen was more common than anyone could have guessed.

He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the two young men, Rial was thrusting slowly into his brother’s mouth and Kenar was fondling with his balls and teasing the cleft of his ass with his fingers. Rial moaned and then he lifted one leg, put the foot up on a small chair that stood by the closet. Maglor could see that Kenar now had started teasing Rial’s opening and Artemar was making a pleased sound. “ Didn’t I tell you these two can make even a dead man come? They are brilliant and the sha’al is said to have assassinated two other potential buyers to make sure he got them before anyone else could buy them”

Maglor just moaned. He was terribly confused because he usually only found females attractive but he started to realize that it perhaps was because that was what he had believed to the only way. The one incident with his brother and his cousin had been dismissed within his mind as some sort of freak event that had turned him on simply because of the shock he had gotten. Now he knew that he had forced himself to ignore all sorts of feelings that could mean that he was attracted to another male. He had just called it affection, or friendship, or perhaps even thought that the person in question reminded him of some female he knew.

Kenar grasped the small bottle of oil from the basket on the table without even missing one movement with his head and he poured some onto his hand and started caressing his brother’s ass with more pressure and in a way more suggestive manner. Rial was keening, tossing his head back, his one hand grasping locks of his brother’s dark hair and the other pressed against the closet for leverage and balance. Maglor was surprised he hadn’t come already.
Artemar sent him a naughty grin. “ Oh, they are so well trained, he can keep himself from coming for quite some time, it is needed sometimes, to make the show last longer.”

That had to be a very useful skill indeed but Maglor could feel that he was starting to feel as if this was getting way too much. He was aching! He had never seen something like this up close and the smell of the twins musky sweat and the sounds they made, by Melkor’s balls, he was afraid he would come undone just by watching. Artemar smiled and his voice was soft. “May I touch you?”

Maglor hesitated. “ I am not sure I can…I mean…I may…”

Artemar nodded his head. “ You are afraid that you might come right away. But don’t be afraid, that is alright. What we all want is to bring you pleasure, don’t feel as if there is any pressure to perform. This is all about you!”

Maglor took a shivering breath, then he nodded, “ O…okay!”

Artemar smiled and his eyes were soft, dark with lust yes but there was such admiration and tenderness in them Maglor had to think of his parents in the good days before everything turned to utter darkness. “ I am so honored Maglor, remember, if anything doesn’t feel right just tell me and I will stop”

He managed to grin and Artemar sat up next to him and untied his sash, pulled it aside and undid his loincloth. The feeling of air against his aroused flesh made Maglor gasp and Artemar whispered something that sounded a bit like a mix of shock and awe. “By the tits of the goddess, you elves are indeed blessed!”

Maglor blushed, much against his will he felt a sting of pride too. He was larger than Artemar, not by an awful lot but it was noticeable and he knew few humans were as well endowed as him. It ran in the family apparently, Maedhros had been larger than him in means of length, not unexpected when one considered that he was eight foot tall. Celegorm had been way thicker than average and had been bragging about that a lot but Maglor saw himself as a perfect mix of those two. He was both long and had quite a girth and Artemar licked his lips. “I cannot wait to see what I can make out of you, you will be sought after like none other, believe me.”

Kenar had started to push a finger inside of Rial, moving it in and out as he still sucked his cock and he added one finger and then one more. Rial was trembling, his legs shook and he was covered with sweat, his hips were moving in a rhythm Kenar matched and Maglor discovered that he was panting. Artemar put a hand on his back, smiled. “ Lean back, this is much better if you relax completely”

He obeyed, laid back onto the bed and Artemar whispered to him. “ Don’t be afraid, you will love this.”

Artemar reached forth and Maglor jerked as a hand slowly started to stroke him. He gasped and trembled and for a second the panic fought to gain dominance over his thoughts again but it died down. It felt too good, and he knew that he was in control, that Artemar would stop the second he told him to. The grasp was perfect, not too hard nor too lose and the rhythm was just divine. He moaned, feeling how he started to leak clear fluid and Artemar smiled, a very content smile. “ Wonderful, you are responding so well.”

He nodded towards the twins and Kenar let go of Rial’s cock, Rial was shaking all over and his eyes were clouded with pleasure and lust. Artemar smiled and he too was breathing hard. “Isn’t he beautiful? Do you want him?”

Maglor couldn’t think, his ability to form coherent thoughts was gone, all that was left was a burning raging need like he had never felt before. Artemar’s hand felt so good, more than good, it was something he couldn’t even describe. “Y…yes!”

The albino kissed his shoulder and said something to Rial who immediately climbed onto the bed and Maglor didn’t really understand what he was doing until the young human straddled his hips. He looked as if he wanted this even more than Maglor could imagine and his mouth was wide open and his pupils dilated, he did shake all over. Maglor didn’t have time to feel nervous, or to feel as if he ought to say something, Artemar aimed his cock upwards with skilled hands and then Rial, already slicked up and opened by his brother slid down onto it in one smooth movement.

Maglor let out a hoarse groan, he bucked against the tight heat that embraced him and it was so exquisite it almost brought tears to his eyes. Rial leaned forth, then he kissed Maglor’s lips in a very hungry manner and he couldn’t help it, he answered the kiss, let it deepen, tasted the young man as if he was starving and Rial was providing sustenance. The kiss made sparks of pleasure fly straight down to his groin and he arched again and Rial started moving. Maglor saw sparks, he keened, writhed underneath Rial who was panting and whispering things in his own language. Kenar sat down on the bed, beside them, he was stroking himself with fast movements and he looked as if he was close.

Maglor couldn’t tear his eyes away from it, Rial’s sleek body bouncing up and down on his cock, his brother pleasuring himself next to them. Artemar just laying there, looking very pleased. He could feel his balls tighten and then he tensed up, he couldn’t stop it now, it was rising within him like an arrow splits the air and he screamed as the orgasm claimed him and his body started to shudder almost violently. Artemar stroked his hair as he felt how he shot his seed into Rial who let out some obscene moans and came too. Maglor could feel how drops of hot sticky liquid rained down over his abdomen and something about it made it all feel that more intense. Kenar grunted, and thrust into his hand and followed his brother, shooting white strands of come over the sheets.

Maglor came down from the high slowly, feeling boneless and limp and exhausted. Artemar smiled gently and kissed his brow. “ You needed that, I am sure of it. By every God, you are so very beautiful when you come. Like some demi God. But you are a bit on the thin side though, I guess you have been starved?”

Maglor nodded. “ It is a long story, but I was on a ship for months I think”

Artemar made a clicking sound with his tongue and teeth. “ I guessed so, worry not, we have ways to make you strong again.”

Maglor felt as if he was floating, he had to giggle, felt almost silly and strangely happy. “ I am not very strong now, quite the opposite in fact”

Artemar smiled and leaned forth, kissed him and Maglor didn’t hesitate, he answered the kiss and Artemar was spectacular at this. Maglor felt that his body started to stir again, even if he had just come hard. Artemar broke the kiss as Rial slid down from Maglor’s body and stretched out next to him, like a very pleased cat. “ Now, that was the first lesson, over to the second one.”

Maglor felt as if he ought to feel a bit apprehensive, or nervous. But he wasn’t, not anymore and it was weird. “What is the second lesson?”

Artemar smiled and his hand started caressing Maglor’s re-awakening cock- “ How to be taken.”

Maglor tensed up a bit. “Already?”

His voice did shiver a bit and Artemar kissed him once more. An almost loving kiss. “ Yes, we have no time to waste. It is getting late already and I want you to have felt the pleasure of being claimed before you are claimed by force.”

Maglor swallowed hard. “ I…I am ready!”

Artemar smiled. “ You are afraid, and that is alrigth. It is your first time after all, so I will be the one to claim you for I know exactly how to do this right. “

Artemar gestured for the twins to move aside and then he laid down next to Maglor. “ First, pull yourself further into the bed, you have to be able to lay comfortably.”

Maglor had seen that Rial had enjoyed being fucked like that, that there had to be pleasure in it. And he remembered Fingon, how his face had been contorted by his bliss. “Will…will you do it…right now?”

Artemar shook his head. “ Heck no, we have to prepare you, open you up as gently as possible. “

He gestured for Rial who opened the closet and found a small box on the floor, he opened it and took something out of it. Maglor stared, it was a very realistic cock, and it had to have been carved from some sort of hard material that wasn’t rock. Artemar saw the stunned expression on the elf’s face and caressed his hair and scalp again. “That is a toy often used here, and it is great to prepare someone with. It is carved from the teeth of a huge animal that lives in the rivers further south. Ugly bastards and quite dangerous too but they keep the canal’s open.”

Maglor stared, it was incredibly lifelike but not very large, barely half his size. Artemar got the vial of oil and kissed Maglor’s cheek. “Alright, I will start by slicking you up, then I will insert a finger and if that is too uncomfortable let me know.”

Maglor nodded, this was what he dreaded but he knew that Artemar was right, He had to have experienced this if was to endure the sha’al’s advances. Artemar let a slick hand play with Maglor’s cock, stroked him to hardness before he gently caressed his balls and Maglor gasped, it felt very good and he suddenly wanted, no, he craved more. Then the hand pressed against the area between his balls and his hidden opening and Maglor had to stifle a hiss. It felt odd, good yes but very weird. “ You are sensitive, wonderful! That makes this so much easier. Some aren’t and to them this is always uncomfortable, no matter how much they want to enjoy it”

Artemar dripped more oil onto his hand and then he nodded. “ Now, pull your ankles up towards you bottom and let your knees fall to the side, just relax”

He obeyed, he was too far gone to start having second thoughts now. Artemar let a finger slide around his opening, and it tickled more than anything else. “ Are you okay?”

Maglor tried to keep breathing evenly, to stay focused. “For now”

Artemar smiled and now the finger pressed against the muscle, teased it, slicked him up. Maglor tried not to tense up, it felt…he could not describe it, not quite. The finger slid inside, slowly and steadily and he gasped, his eyes wide open and his body did tense up for a few seconds, the muscles clenching around the intrusion. “Relax, believe me, you will find great pleasure soon”

Maglor forced his body to go slack, and Artemar started to move the finger in and out, adding more oil and there was little resistance. After a while it started to feel almost alright, there was no pain and it wasn’t really uncomfortable. The twins were sitting by the wall, chatting away in their own language and they didn’t pay any attention to Maglor at all, that was fine by him for he didn’t want anybody staring at him right now.
Then Artemar bent the finger, pushed upwards and hit something that made the elf almost levitate of the bed. Maglor let out a small shriek from sheer shock, lightning bolts of pleasure shot through his lower body and made his cock jump and ache again. “What…what in Eru’s name was that?!”

He was panting again and his eyes were wild. He had never even known that he had something inside of him that felt thus when being touched. Artemar grinned, a wide and very playful grin. “ That my friend was your prostate, and my are you just made for pleasure. I haven’t seen such a reaction ever!”

He pressed against the spot again and Maglor was seeing stars, he groaned. “ Oh please, please, do it…do it again!”

Artemar chuckled. “ Gladly”

He kept pushing against that spot and added another finger and even if that stung a bit and felt too tight Maglor didn’t protest. He was keening and writhing and the sensation was insane. He could barely breathe since it was so intense. Another finger was added and Maglor had to groan, it started to hurt a little but Artemar used his other hand on the elf’s cock and the discomfort was forgotten completely. Maglor needed to come, by Eru how he needed it. It felt as if he was about to explode from sheer lust and Artemar smiled. “ You are ready for the toy.”

Rial had slicked it up and Maglor didn’t have time to become tense again before the fingers were being replaced with the toy. He let out a long moan, closed his eyes, tried to control himself but he couldn’t. It hurt, but the pain was indifferent, like something he didn’t even really notice. The pressure and fullness was all that mattered and it was beyond anything he could have imagined. He felt whole, and it pushed so deliciously against that gland it made him push back. Artemar sounded delighted. “ My oh my aren’t you an eager one? Wonderful”

He started moving the toy in and out, in a very slow and steady rhythm, and before long Maglor found himself thrusting back, keening with need. The sensation was driving him mad, he as close but Artemar didn’t allow him to come, didn’t do it quite fast enough. He was being held on the brink and sweat was making his skin shine, his hair was sticking to his back and his cock was so hard he was sure it never had been harder nor larger, “ Oh fuck, please, I am almost there!”

Artemar kissed the knee closest to him. “ I know, you are ready for me I think”

Maglor keened, his insane need for release was driving him mad, he nodded. “ Do it, do it, take me, I am ready”

Artemar smiled. “ Yes, you are ready but we will do this according to my plan. You will experience pain, and I will make sure that your body is so occupied with feeling good you won’t notice.”

He pulled the toy out and tossed it into a basket, then he got up and stepped off the bed. “ Get up and come here.”

Maglor groaned, he felt strangely empty now the toy was gone and he felt open too, oil was dribbling down his legs and he wondered what Artemar had meant. He stroked Maglor’s back, soothingly. “ I am going to mount you from behind since that is what you have go get used to, the sha’al never takes his slaves face to face.”

Maglor tensed up again, just a little but Artemar saw it. “There are two things involved in this elf, one is the way we do it now, for pleasure and joy, to make each other feel good. The other is dominance. The sha’al is all about dominance. He doesn’t care about pleasure, he comes from being in power, from hurting others. That is the wrong way. There can be pleasure also in dominance and I will teach you this but it can never be one sided. What he does is against the very laws if humanity, he exploits and destroys and can never feel the joy of real love. Do you understand this?”

Maglor nodded. “ I understand!”

He felt nervous again, he knew that Artemar didn’t mean to dominate him but the idea of being taken like that did feel a bit humiliating or even degrading. He shouldn’t be submissive, after all, he was of royal blood. Artemar turned his chin with a hand and kissed him gently. “Stand by the bed, so close your legs touch it, spread them a bit, then put one knee up on the bed, it doesn’t matter which one.”

Maglor started to feel nervous, the need was still there oddly enough, and it hadn’t diminished, he was still rock hard. He did what he was told and Artemar caressed his ass, gently and teasingly. “ Lean forward, both hands on the bed, make sure you are steady.”
Maglor felt a sudden need to protest, to stop this but he had grown curious, and he discovered that he really wanted Artemar. He felt hollow, as if something, an important piece of him was missing. Artemar slid a finger inside of him again, pressed against the gland and Maglor winced, the pleasure shot from the base of his cock and he made a mewling sound. Artemar used the other hand to slick himself up and Maglor got nervous again. Artemar’s cock was so much larger than the toy, could he even take it? The albino made a gesture towards the twins. “Kenar, your turn”

Maglor frowned, what now? Artemar chuckled. “ Like I said, extra stimulation, believe me, you will barely feel that I am breaching you.”

Kenar jumped onto the bed, then he laid down on his back and slid underneath Maglor, so his face was below his crotch and Maglor stared down, in utter and absolute disbelief. Kenar tilted his head back and lifted himself a couple of inches and the he just opened his mouth and pushed himself onto Maglor’s aching cock. Maglor thought he would faint! The warmth and the feeling of a tongue teasing the head was simply too much. Kenar was a true master, he was sucking in a powerful rhythm, taking him all the way down his throat which by the way was open now that his head was tilted backwards between Maglor’s spread legs and the elf thought he would die. How could anything feel that good? Kenar had his neck in just the perfect angle for this and he had to have done this countless times before. Artemar almost giggled. “ By the way, that position would be called a sixty nine if you both were doing each other.”

Maglor was trembling all over and when he felt Artemar grasping onto his hips in a firm but gentle manner he could only think of the tight lips and the hot suction that drove him completely mad. Then he felt the bulbous head of Artemar’s member against his dripping entrance and he didn’t care, he didn’t care if it hurt, if it would tear him apart for all he needed was to be filled, to come. Artemar leaned in over him, kissed his back and nipped at the skin with his teeth and then he did one hard thrust and sheathed himself inside of the elf, completely.

Maglor saw sparks, he felt it stretch him to a degree he never had though was possible and he heard himself scream in a mix of pleasure and pain. He felt as if he was being skewered, torn open and it hurt but the pain was also pleasure, intense pleasure and then Artemar started to thrust and hit that spot again and again in the same rhythm Kenar was using. For each time the albino pushed inside of him his hips were forced forwards and deeper into Kenar’s skilled mouth. Maglor couldn’t think, all coherent thought disappeared, he gasped, moaned, mewled. Sweat flowing down his flanks, his legs trembling as if his muscles had gone and he was sheer emotion, sheer hunger.

Artemar was speeding up, he was groaning too, making grimaces of pleasure and he made sure that the angle was right each time. Maglor was thrusting back against him, bucking forward and seeking Kenar’s tight throat. His eyes were black and clouded and Artemar had never seen anything more arousing nor as beautiful. It felt as if he had been given the privilege of touching an angel, something way above himself. He felt that the elf couldn’t take anymore and changed his angle a tiny bit, hit the gland at a better angle and Maglor suddenly tensed up, threw his head back, eyes rolling up into his head and he was roaring like a wounded animal.

He had never felt anything like it, the orgasm started at the base of his cock and it was so intense but it kept growing stronger and stronger and it wasn’t the way it usually felt, normally it had just one level of intensity. He was sure he was going to die, was it possible to be killed by an orgasm? His muscles contracted and when it reached its very maximum he felt as if every cell in his body had started to shudder and clench up in cramps. He realized he was screaming Artemar’s name again and again as his cock shot load upon load of seed down Kenar’s throat. The young man swallowed and hummed and the vibrations made Maglor scream again, in an explosion of pleasure. He was seeing white light, his heart was thunder in his ears and he was being held upright by Artemar for his legs had lost all strength. The albino delivered two more deep thrusts that made Maglor shudder all over and then he too came, pulsing and coating Maglor’s insides with hot liquid. It made the elf mewl and gasp and Artemar growled his name and kept moving, riding it out.

Maglor was barely conscious as the albino gently slid out of him, a flow of sticky seed followed and dribbled down his thighs but Maglor didn’t care. He was weak like a newborn, trembling all over and Kenar slid out from underneath him with a wide grin on his mouth. “You do taste good, did you know that? Most taste bitter but your seed is sweet, I liked it.”

Maglor could only make a sheepish grin, he was so tired, and he felt so good. Artemar chuckled and caressed his sweat soaked hair. “ By the Goddess, you did really come hard didn’t you? I am very glad”

He turned towards the twins. “ You two can leave now, go to the baths and get cleaned up. Maglor needs to rest and I will stay with him tonight. He shouldn’t be alone.”

Artemar sort of manhandled the limp elf onto the bed, then he found a washcloth and removed most of the liquids from his skin before he got some water and let Maglor drink. He also made the elf eat some fruit and then he pulled the blankets over them and laid down, let Maglor rest against his chest.

The elf felt a strange need to weep, it had been the most wonderful thing he had ever experienced, and it had been so pure, so entirely based upon a wish to do good, to be kind to him. Artemar had worshipped him, shown him a realm of sheer ecstasy he hadn’t even known existed. He felt loved, cherished and appreciated and he hadn’t felt that way since long before that Eru’ forsaken oath was sworn. He felt tears running down his cheeks and didn’t try to stop them. Tomorrow evening the sha’al would claim him, he would desecrate this memory, turn the act into something terrible, despicable and violent. There would be only pain and fear instead of trust and compassion, and now that he knew what it was supposed to be that knowledge was terrible to acknowledge. But he would survive, he had to survive. He had gotten the will to fight back, he wouldn’t want the sha’al to win, to think that he could break a son of Fëanor. Never! To Namo with that bastard, the sha’al could torture him and do unspeakable things to him but he would never break.

Artemar and the others there were his friends, and he owed it to them to break this reign of terror. It was an oath he was willing to swear that he could stand by with a whole heart and a clean consciousness. Maedhros had never told him of what he had gone through while he was a prisoner of Morgoth, but in the night, when he slept he had been screaming in his sleep, reliving awful things Maglor had had a hard time believing were real. Now he knew the truth, they were. He knew now what his brother had been through and he didn’t for a second doubt that it had involved rape. Maedhros had survived, he had been strong and perhaps they all had been different somehow, stronger and more durable than other elves, harder to destroy. It wasn’t unthinkable at all.

He snuggled against Artemar, he was warm and safe and held him so gently and Maglor smiled. Even if he was a slave and the sha’al owned him, he could cope with is as long as he had someone to fight for, to protect and care for. Sooner or later the game would turn, and he would make sure to use every opportunity to his benefit. He had been a king once, now it was time to put his experience into use.

Artemar felt the elf’s hot tears against his skin, sighed and kissed his brow. “ Sleep now beautiful one, let no dark dreams visit tonight. I will be here, I will watch over you. Tonight you are safe, and tomorrow is just an illusion”

Maglor pressed his face against the albino’s neck, inhaled his scent and his fatigue overtook him and he was fast asleep. Artemar laid there awake until the last candles burned down and the room was cast into darkness. But now they had hope, hope in the form of the gorgeous mysterious being in his arms. He said a short prayer to his Goddess, then he too went to sleep.
End Notes:

ArtemarFear

The games we must play... by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

Maglor learns more of what it takes to survive in the Sha'al's harem, can he make it?

Chapter three: The games we must play…

Maglor was awakened by a hand gently stroking his head, he tensed up and didn’t quite remember where he was for a few seconds, then it dawned upon him and he whimpered and felt cold once more. Artemar sighed. “It is time to wake up, I am sorry, but I can’t let you sleep any longer.”

Maglor yawned, he felt strangely relaxed, almost well. “ I know”

He sat up, felt Artemar’s warm body close to his own and it felt surprisingly comfortable. He tried to gather his senses, to stay focused. It wasn’t easy, he knew what this day would bring. Artemar kissed his shoulder gently. “ Are you hungry?”

Maglor blinked, then he nodded. He was hollow and his stomach did growl when he thought of food. Artemar got out of the bed, walked over to the door and shouted something, before long Kôr came running and he left with swiftly when Artemar told him they wanted food.
Artemar returned to the bed. “ I will stay with you for as long as I can, but I will have to leave to prepare before the feast. Harbal will be here in a few hours, do as he tells you “

Maglor could feel his heart speeding up again, he felt dizzy and rather scared too. “ I…”

Artemar embraced him, held him tightly. “ Remember last night, okay? Think of that, only of that. It will be over fast, I will make sure that the Sha’al can’t last more than a few minutes at the most”

Maglor swallowed the taste of bile in his mouth. “I bet he will want me later on too, not only tonight”

Artemar nodded. “ Yes, he most certainly will, but I am trying to think of a solution. We have to use what we do know of him against him”

Maglor frowned, he felt sticky and his ass felt odd too, it wasn’t all that comfortable. “What do you mean?”

Artemar got a brush from a drawer in the closet, started brushing Maglor’s hair, it felt very comfortable, and relaxing too. “He has weaknesses, a lot of them in fact, odd quirks that could offer us a solution”

Maglor sighed, “ I am not sure I will survive this evening, why make plans?”

Artemar grasped his chin, turned his face against himself. “Do not say that, stay positive. You have a choice, you always have a choice. See this as a battle you have to win, by feigning defeat.”

Maglor let out a humorless laughter. “ Indeed, I have fought in many battles my friend, and yes, I have lost too.”

Artemar grasped onto his hair, braided it. “Maglor, listen to me. I think I may have a solution, we have some allies here and I will use them for all that they are worth.”

The elf looked puzzled. “Allies?”

Artemar nodded, added a small leather band to the braid to tie it off. “ Yes, allies! And if you catch the attention of someone in enough power that too may help us all. The sha’al may be the one ruling this realm but not even he can do that alone. He does depend upon the support of others with wealth and experience. Some of the families are almost as powerful as himself.”

Maglor sighed. “Are you saying that I should offer myself to those people? Offer to spread my legs like a whore?!”

Artemar shook his head. “ Heck no, but you are an elf. Nobody here is used to elves, to us all you are legends, myths. People are ready to believe anything they hear if they have no real knowledge and I bet we can exploit that”

Maglor was about to say something when Kôr entered, he carried a huge basket and put on the table and Artemar clapped his hands with a cheerful expression upon his face. “ Perfect, let’s eat”

He opened the basket, it was filled with bread and cheese and fruits and two bowls of some sort of porridge. Maglor was a bit shocked, the food looked excellent and it smelled very good too. Artemar grinned widely. “Like I have said, we are taken very well care off. We eat like kings, the food is the very best available and we can drink as much wine as we like. That is also the very best by the way. “

He removed the items from the basket and Maglor felt the smell of freshly baked bread, it was heavenly. Artemar gave him one of the bowls. “This porridge is very good, and it gives strength too. Try it”

Maglor grasped a spoon and took a mouthful, it was indeed good and he grinned, filling his stomach would be great. “The Sha’al must have a good kitchen”

Artemar nodded, he was eagerly tearing up some bread, spreading butter on it and some moshed fruits. “ He does, many kitchens in fact. One for himself, one for his harem, one for us and one for the rest of the palace. The other slaves aren’t as well fed as us, believe me. They are fed scraps”

Maglor did pity them but he was too hungry to care, he finished the bowl and then he too got some bread. Artemar smiled smugly. “Everything has been tasted before it is brought to us, to avoid poison. There are slaves who’s only job is the taste the food. I cannot say I envy them”

Maglor swallowed some bread, it was nutty and warm still and very good. It reminded him of the bread his mother had made back home. “No?”

Artemar shrugged. “Every piece of food they put in their mouth may be the last one, that is quite a knowledge to have don’t you think? But the chefs who make the food here are not slaves, they are paid workers and their salaries are ridiculously high.”

Maglor felt confused. “ I thought slaves did all the work here?”

Artemar shook his head. “Nope, there are free men working here, for money. The sha’al do pay the chefs so well to ensure they are loyal to him, they all are used to living in luxury and the prospect of losing that is more terrifying to them than anything else. “

Maglor emptied a cup of milk, it had a funny taste. “Is this goats milk?”

Artemar swallowed a mouthful and grinned. “ Indeed it is, cows are rare here, they eat too much and this land is rather barren. A goat can eat anything and thrive on it, a cow cannot”

That made sense and Maglor started to realize that he was very far away from the lands he had known. When they finished eating Artemar took him to the baths and he saw that the others were there already. They sat in the pool relaxing and Artemar stared at them. “Friends, tonight we must all do our outmost to make sure that Maglor makes it through the night.”

Noolar and Aerhan nodded and the others bowed their heads. “ We are ready”

Maglor felt a bit moved by their concern and their care and somehow they all reminded him of his brothers. They too had tried to stay together, to protect each other. The water was warm and pleasant and Kenar and Rial started washing his hair without being asked at all. Demetry massaged his shoulders and legs and he suddenly felt as if he didn’t really deserve all this gentle attention. Artemar smiled, kissed him on the mouth and Maglor found himself answering the kiss, to his own astonishment. “ Relax, enjoy it.”

They finished washing his hair, added oils to it that made it smell like flowers and then Artemar got him out of the pool, sat down by a table. “We have people here who help us prepare, slaves like ourselves and very skilled ones too. You haven’t yet gained any fame due to artistic skills, but you are so stunning I don’t think you will remain anonymous for very long, even among those who haven’t heard of you before. I will make sure that Thasul makes you look magnificent.”

Maglor frowned, he felt a bit drowsy still and Rial was massaging his scalp. “Thasul?”

Artemar nodded. “He creates our looks, makes our clothes, designs our makeup. He makes the illusion that this place is, makes sure it looks perfect all the time”

Maglor nodded, he remembered his grandfather’s palace in Tirion, how some elves were tasked with making robes for the king and his court and matching colors and designing the looks of the gardens and rooms. It had been a monumental task. “He is a slave you said, but he is given such a responsibility?”

Artemar nodded. “He is highly respected, very skilled and also a person with some power. A slave can be powerful but only through his master, remember that. You cannot do anything on your own, only what the master orders you to do. Within those boundaries you do have free reins, at least most of the time.”

Maglor nodded and Artemar sighed, he addressed the others there. “Listen, we have to make sure that the Sha’al doesn’t want to bed Maglor again, or at least not that often. Any ideas?”

Everybody stared at each other, and made grimaces. Noolar grunted, and the very feminine face was showing exactly what he felt. “Dear, I do not think we can scare Orieam from fucking his ass, Maglor is too damn pretty.”

Artemar nodded. “ I agree, nothing we say or do will make you repulsive to him, any other ideas?”

There was silence and finally Kôr broke it, he stood there ready to take orders and the boy tilted his head. “ My mother used to say that there is two methods of making someone do something, whip or carrot”

Kherfem smiled. “And your mother was a very wise woman indeed young one, we cannot use the whip, what about the carrot?”

Artemar bit his lower lip. “Temptation? What in the name of all gods would be more tempting than Maglor here? You all know how he is when he has a new slave to fuck, he is insatiable the first weeks. Heck, when he first took me he took me so often the first month I almost got completely ruined, if Harbal hadn’t managed to stitch me back up again I would have been unable to control myself and ended up being incontinent.”

Maglor shuddered, oh Eru. That was information he didn’t need.
Demetry squinted, his face looked as if he was concentrating hard. “The Sha’al is terrified of getting old isn’t he?”

Artemar raised his head. “Yes? So what?”

The blond man made a gesture. “Look, nobody here knows much about elves alright, but we all know they live forever. They are eternally youthful and beautiful. Among us there were legends claiming that elves got that way by sucking the very life out of humans, that they fed upon our souls”

Artemar frowned and Maglor scoffed. “That is a complete and utter lie, my race was around for thousands of years before there even were humans created. We do not need to feed upon humans at all!”

Artemar touched his chin, his eyes were narrow. “ Yes, we do know that but does the Sha’al know it?”

Kôr was almost jumping up and down. “ You could claim that fucking Maglor too often would drain him of life?”

Artemar just opened his mouth in shock and Kherfem scoffed. Aerhan got a sly expression upon his face. “ Know what? That may just work, but it cannot come from us, and there has to be a reason for him to keep Maglor here, something that makes him want to protect him, keeps him from selling him again”

They all looked at each other, minds were working overtime and then Noolar raised his hand. “ Well, I do have an idea, but it is…odd”

Artemar waved his arm. “ Come on, spit it out, every idea is welcome now”

Noolar blushed, he did look a lot like some young maiden and Maglor could clearly see that this man indeed was a soul trapped in the wrong body. “Back home we had a high priest, and he too was afraid of becoming old. He drank the morning urine of young boys every morning, and sometimes even their seed, to stay young”

Artemar made a grimace. “ Oh yack! Did it work?”

Noolar shook his head. “ Heck no, but he did live to the ripe age of eighty so I guess he believed it would work, and that was enough. Wrinkly old guy, rather rude and disgusting but he believed that he would live forever until the very end”

Kherfem got a very mischievous expression upon his face, he did look devilish. Suuna too grinned, he stretched himself and the dark eyes were gleaming. “We could use that, we could make him believe that fucking an elf is bad for his health but that drinking his piss or whatever will keep him young”

Maglor felt nauseous, that was disgusting but in a way also a bit funny, ironic. Demetry chuckled. “Just make sure that he thinks that Maglor’s blood is poisonous to humans, otherwise we all know what he may do”

Artemar shuddered. “Heck yes, but how are we to make the Sha’al believe all this?”

Aerhan had a determined look upon his face. “ I know how, through her”

They all nodded. “ Yes, that is the only way”

Maglor stared at them with a puzzled expression upon his face. “ Her?”

Artemar smiled, put his arm around his shoulders. “Yes, I didn’t tell you yesterday because you had enough on your mind as it was. We are speaking of the Sha’al’s mother. Her name is Shiìra and she is the only person he really trusts.”

Maglor frowned. “Is she to be trusted then?”

Artemar nodded. “ She is, you see, she is smart, and she has managed to stay alive for longer than any other former queen. First of all, she doesn’t at all interfere with the young queen and her court, second of all she supports every little thing her son does. She showers him with gifts and attention and just plain sickening love and devotion and so he has kept her alive. Other Sha’als have often killed their mothers or sold them if they have tried to interfere with the rule”

The elf looked confused. “She supports him?”

Artemar grinned, a vicious grin. “Officially yes, in reality she hates him. She has said she would have strangled him with his own diapers had she known what sort of monster he would become but now she tries to secretly overthrow his rule and disrupt his plans in every way that she can. She hates this place by the way, calls the collection a shame and a disgrace and want’s us all freed. But she have in fact bought slaves for him, as gifts. Everyone loyal to her of course and her very useful spies. He thinks she is incapable of anything so devious, the fact that males here think women are naught but animals does come back to bite their asses sometimes.”

Maglor chuckled. “So she may help you mean?”

Aerhan nodded. “She will help, for sure. I know how to come into contact with her, I have a contact among the kitchen slaves.”

Artemar grinned widely. “Do it, send the message.”

Aerhan smiled and Maglor felt a sensation of disbelief. If this worked then…but it wouldn’t save him from the feast, and the Sha’al would most certainly want to fuck him at least once. He tried to swallow but his mouth had gone dry again. Artemar handed him a goblet with wine and he drank it gracefully.
They had all bathed and most of them left to prepare, Artemar petted his hand and kissed him gently. “Do not be afraid, we will do our outmost to distract him and Thasul will make you look so gorgeous the Sha’al will be done in a flash.”

Maglor had a lump in his throat. “Is there anything I can do to…to help myself?”


Artemar nodded. “ You will not have to do anything except being shown off, so do try to look as good as you possibly can. Straighten up, keep your chin up, use those gorgeous eyes of yours for all they are worth”

Maglor sighed. “ How? What do you mean?”

Artemar looked a bit tired of Maglor’s lack of experience. “Doe-eyes, puppy eyes, pretend that you are begging your mother for that one last cookie she wants for herself. Make every other man in that room want to protect you, to save you from the beast. And make him believe that there is nothing you’d rather want than his cock balls deep up your ass!”

Maglor shivered. “ Oh Eru, I can’t do that. I bet I can look as if I need help for I do, but look wanton? Heck no!”

Artemar sighed.” Right, crash course in looking horny as hell, here goes!”

He got up onto his feet and then his entire face changed, he held his chin lowered and there was a faint blush across his cheeks and the eyes, Maglor had never seen such a transformation before. Suddenly they were ablaze, the gaze flickering to and fro, hinting and making promises of desire and it looked as if he found Maglor too darn attractive to even look at. It was a most impressive show of skills and Maglor was stunned. “That was….”

Artemar sat down again, grinned widely. “What you have to do tonight. Remember, the line between hatred and lust is very thin, think of how you hate this man and transform it. He is too darn stupid to notice the difference, believe me. “

Maglor made keening sound. “ I am not so sure that…”

Artemar took a deep breath. “ Oh yes you are, now, pretend I am the Sha’al, Look at me the way I did look at you”

Maglor concentrated, forced himself to focus and then he gathered the dignity and power he had had to exude when he was king and mixed it with his burning hatred for the evil deeds of this Sha’al and his desire to end them. He stared at Artemar who jumped and shook his head. “ Whoa, too much, way too much. You look murderous and that he will notice, now, pretend as if you are completely helpless, like a maiden abducted by some evil lord or something”

Maglor sighed, what a thing to compare him with, but he tried, he managed to soften his expression and Artemar grinned so wide the elf could count all his teeth, “Perfect, he will think he has you in awe of his power and attractiveness. Now, puppy eyes, do flirt, and beg”

Maglor tried, he had often been accused of having gotten everything his way too many times as a kid, as the secondborn he had had to fight for his parent’s attention and he had in fact been very good at making them forgive his mistakes and give him whatever he had wanted. He put on a slight pout and fluttered his eyelashes and Artemar let out a small shriek of joy. “Oh gods, how can anyone resist that? “

He kissed Maglor again, let his hands run through his hair. “Remember, let the crowd see your fear, beg them to protect you, to save you. When you look at him make him think that you want him so bad, okay?”

Maglor shuddered slightly. “Okay!”

Artemar caressed his face. “ It will be alright, I promise. Harbal will be here soon to prepare you and give you that drug, and then Thasul will make you look so gorgeous the Sha’al will come in his pants just by looking at you.”

Maglor tried to remain calm. “ Is he…is he really that well endowed?”

Artemar sighed. “ Unfortunately yes, it will be terrible, I cannot lie to you but you will make it. Harbal has become very good at healing us and he will help you afterwards. You just have to focus upon surviving”

Maglor swallowed hard, the feeling of helplessness fell over him again. “ I will try!”

Artemar held his chin hard. “No, you will not try, you will do it, do you hear me? You will make it!”

Maglor tried to convince himself that Artemar was right. “ I will live”

Artemar kissed him softly. “That is the spirit, stay strong.”

Harbal came walking with Kôr and another boy by his side. The other boy had skin covered with weird scars and Artemar sent the elf a sad smile “That is Jahm, he has had the pox, and he survived. Harbal took him in as an apprentice.”

Harbal carried a small bag of things and he nodded at Artemar. “ I will take it from here now, you go and prepare, get ready to dance the wits out of everybody”

Artemar smiled and got up. “ I will, Maglor, remember, do what he tells you to do”

The elf took a deep breath and felt alone the moment Artemar disappeared behind a door, the old healer smiled at him. “ Be not afraid fair one, I will do all I can to get you through this as unscathed as possible. I know elves heal well too, you will be alright.”

He pulled out a cup and poured it half full of wine, then he added some powder with a pale yellow color and stirred with a spoon. “ Here drink this”

Maglor took the cup. “ Is this…”

Harbal nodded. “The drug yes, that is enough to sedate a horse by the way, you elves have a much higher tolerance for such than humans, I have read a lot you see”

Maglor sighed again and emptied the cup in one long swig. It tasted like crap and he made a grimace. “ Oh Eru, that was vile!”

Harbal smiled. “ I made it taste foul on purpose, it does really taste rather sweet and there have been accidents, kids who have come across it and eaten it and died”

Maglor nodded. “ Smart, now what?”

Harbal removed some more items from his bag, one looked like a huge syringe and Maglor’s eyebrows almost touched his hairline. “ Is that…”

Harbal grinned widely. “ Yes, it is what we use to administer and enema”

Maglor hissed. “ I do not need one, I am not constipated and I haven’t eaten that much lately so…”

Harbal touched his shoulder in a soothing gesture.” It can also be used for other purposes. I will inject you with something that will make your insides numb, take away some of the pain. It will also relax your muscles and protect the tissue from being torn and bruised.”

Maglor managed to make a faint grin. “ Taking away pain sounds good.”

Harbal smiled and patted his back. “ Yes, it is a method I came across just recently. Now, the medicine will not relax your muscles entirely, that would give us away but it will give lubrication and make it a bit less terrible.”

Maglor bit his lower lip. “Then do it, before I lose my nerve”

Harbal sent him a polite nod and filled the syringe with some clear liquid, it was thick and didn’t smell much. “On your stomach, one leg out to the side. This is done in a flash”

Maglor did as he was told to do and jerked as the smooth cone shaped nuzzle of the syringe was gently inserted, it felt cold and hard and uncomfortable and he remembered how Artemars fingers and cock had felt inside of him and wondered how this could feel so different. The cold liquid made him twitch and Harbal laid a hand on the small of his back. It was small and warm and rough but had some strength in it yet. “Lay still, just a little more”

Maglor forced himself to obey and he felt strangely full when the syringe was pulled out, then a weird numb sensation spread through his insides and crotch and Harbal grinned, a very pleased grin, “ Great, this works well.”

The old man helped him get back up and gave him a glance filled with encouragement. “Do not drink much wine, it will interfere with the drug, but water is okay. And eat, do eat”

Harbal left and Kôr remained behind and sat down, the long thin legs swinging. “Thasul will be here in a minute, he is very kind, a bit strict but I like him. He is never cruel to us ordinary slaves”

Maglor couldn’t help but wonder how this Thasul would be able to make him look seductive and pretty when he felt everything but. There were footprints coming from the corridor and a man entered the room followed by three young men, all wore the same flimsy outfit and all three had their heads shaved and strange patterns painted onto their skin. They looked bizarre. Maglor stared, he couldn’t help it.

Thasul himself looked like an ordinary man, dressed in a long white robe that looked a bit like a dress and wide pants in the same material. His hair was braided and tied up and he had a nice well groomed beard and a face that looked normal. He was the kind of man you see and instantly forget. The three men on the other hand, they were so ghastly dressed Maglor wondered if this Thasul was color blind. Thasul put his hands together, stared at Maglor with wide eyes and a smile that just got wider and wider. He looked like a cat which have spotted a lame huge rat trapped in a corner. “ Oh by Sharbat’s sacred eye, you are beyond beautiful. They said you were a creature of amazing beauty but they were not nowhere near the truth. How exotic, how stunning, how enticing!”

Maglor had heard of men like Thasul, who were so extravagant it became way too much. Heck, he had met a few too. His cousin Finrod had always had a taste that was outrageous, that necklace he had been wearing was said to have been so over the top most people hardly had the stomach to look at it. Thasul grasped his hand. “ I am Thasul the magnificent, and I am going to make you look even more like an angel, oh you are going to be my masterpiece. They are going to whisper your name with envy, with despair for not being your master”

Maglor stared at the tree young men who stood there, looking a bit dumbstruck. “Uh, not to be disrespectful oh great master, but those three can barely be described as beautiful?”

Thasul snickered. “ Correct oh gorgeous elf, they look like shite now don’t they? On purpose, my servants are not to compete with my creations. Easy as that”

Maglor blinked, one of the men wore a sort of ass less pair of short pants made from a very shiny material and the top was a sort of bolero in a dirty brown color. It was so ugly he was sure not even an orc would have wanted to be found dead in that.
Thasul clapped his hands. “ Oh you are so tall, so elegant, I do not think I will put that many clothes on you, we must make the others at the feast desire you, and wish to be with you but at the same time….hmmm!”

He stroked his beard and took wide circles around the elf who felt like a horse at a freaking auction. “ I know, yes I know. Relax my friend, I will turn you into a gem!”

A short while later Maglor sat in a chair while two of the young men did his hair and another was busy putting small glittering pieces of a gemlike material onto his skin with some sort of adhesive. Thasul had tied a sort of thin lavender colored veil around his waist and that was obviously the only pieces of fabric that he was to wear, he felt naked. It didn’t hide anything and other from that he was being painted. Elegant lines made in silvery paint and it reminded him of vines and plants. Thasul nodded vigorously as the young men worked. “Yes, yes, nothing may compete with his beauty, it may only serve to enhance it.”

Maglor had surrendered, it felt surreal and he felt like he was going to look absolutely ridiculous. Thasul added thick lines of kohl around his eyes and some sort of pink powder to his cheeks and lips and the young men made lots of thin braids in his hair and attached bright white gems to them. At least that was very pretty. Thasul held up a hand mirror. “See? You have got to use those stunning eyes of yours, I have given you the tools you need to perfect it”

Maglor was stunned, the face that stared back at him was so different. The drug had started to work, making his pupils dilate and when he tried to look pleading the kohl made them look like puppy eyes for sure. Thasul laid his hands on Maglor’s shoulders, “ My friend, I will pray for you, and I am sure he will be so stunned by your beauty he will be swift. Do not despair, please”

Maglor tried to smile. “ I will not”

Thasul sighed and there was sadness in his eyes, “We strive to create a sense of beauty in a world ruled by horror, and what we do create is so frail, so short lived. But you, you may endure and bring our names with you through ages to come. That is our immortality, the only one for which we can hope”

Maglor felt a bit touched by his words, and he smiled back, a genuine smile “Thank you”

Thasul sighed. “ You are welcome, I would loathe to see such beauty desecrated by that…thing!”’

Kôr came with a tray of food and Thasul left, Maglor didn’t feel hungry but he had to eat. He was starting to feel funny, dizzy and light headed and also almost indifferent. Nothing really mattered anymore, it all felt slightly unreal. Kôr took his hand. “ I will stay with you until they come to get you, the feast has started already but the entertainment won’t begin for a while yet”

Maglor swallowed. “Thank you, you are a kind boy”

Kôr beamed with pride. “Be not afraid, you are nice, and the gods like the nice people. They do not like the bad ones like the Sha’al. I am sure”

Maglor hid a sarcastic snarl, if the world had been that fair everything would have been different. He stared at his hands, the palms were still hard and stiff from the burns and he took a deep breath. Had he been in his full strength he could have killed the Sha’al as easily as you break a toothpick, heck, he could have killed many but not all, even an elf isn’t invincible and there were too many guards. And the others in the collection, they would probably be killed if he escaped, and how would he be able to live with himself if that happened? No, he had to sacrifice himself for the good of others, as he had before. Maedhros had survived years in Angband, he had to be as strong as he had been.

After what felt like an eternity two guards came forth, they carried some light chains and Maglor felt dread creeping up his spine from the sight, this was it. He shivered to the bone, yet he held his hands out, showed that he was submissive, harmless. The chains were strong, they could hold any man but they would not be able to hold an elf as long as that elf was healthy. Maglor was sure he could have snapped them even now but what was the point? He didn’t want to cause more bloodshed and grief. He followed the men without a word and the surreal feeling just got stronger and stronger.

They entered a huge hall, it was airy and full of light and the scents of food and expensive perfume filled the air. There was huge tables there, placed along the walls so that the middle of the room was open and at the top of the room the Sha’al sat with his queen and closest men. The tables were low, people sat on pillows on the floor and ate with their fingers and there were only men there. The queen the only female present and she was covered from head to foot by a thick red veil. Only her eyes were visible, heavy makeup showed that she tried to look her best, and she was almost covered in jewelry made from gold and gems. She did look rather young and Maglor was a bit shocked. The Sha’al could have been a handsome man once upon a time, now the strong masculine features were covered with a thick layer of fat, and the eyes were small and golden brown with a bored and sly look in them. He wore a turban with diamonds sewed onto the fabric and he was wearing a pair of wide pants made from pure silk and sandals. Otherwise from that he only wore necklaces and rings and a wide belt with rubies and emeralds. He was ghastly, so ugly Maglor only could compare him with an orc. There was a complete lack of empathy in that gaze, a disregard for others that was inhuman.

Maglor felt his legs turn to jelly, he started to shiver. On the floor Kherfem was entertaining the crowd, he was speaking loudly and the men were clapping and cheering and laughing so hard they had problems breathing. He had to be making jokes of some kind. Maglor had to stay in the doorway, waiting. It felt as if he yet again was unable to breathe, to think. Kherfem bowed and left through a side door and Artemar and Aerhan entered together with Demetry. Artemar was almost naked, he only wore a very tiny loincloth and his body was covered with painted patterns in blood red and gold. He did look amazing, rubies were attached to his hair and he had small bells tied around his ankles. Demetry was painted in a similar fashion, but he had gold and green and he wore emeralds, he too was almost bare and moved with sensual slow gestures. Aerhan was different, his body was only adorned with gold, as if he had out his hands and lower arms and feet in a bucket of gold paint. He had gold bells in his braids and some lines in gold drawn around his eyes, He did look amazing too.

A musician playing some sort of lute started on a very slow tune and the three started to dance, Maglor was stunned. It was rather obvious that Artemar and Demetry were some sort of mythical creature and that Aerhan was supposed to be some hero. They danced around him, and Maglor was shocked to see that humans could be that elegant and swift. Aerhan tried to catch them, to grasp onto them and the music got faster and faster, They were swirling around, a fast and amazing display of sensual grace and the crowd was staring, many were making small shouts of admiration and the Sha’al looked very pleased indeed. He was staring at Artemar who really used all he had learned, he was dancing to seduce and the Sha’al appeared to be breathing heavily. The Queen was sitting quietly behind him, she didn’t reveal any feelings at all.

Aerhan played his role well, and as the dance got wilder they all shed the little clothing that they did wear. Maglor could see that they all were aroused, and the dance became even more sensual, more daring. Aerhan still tried to grasp the two, but now they almost let him get a hold of them and they caressed him whenever they could. Maglor was shocked, was this dance? Entertainment? The crowd was obviously very intrigued by it all for they whistled and called out and some of the men were clearly touching themselves. The elf was aghast.

Then Aerhan managed to get a hold of Artemar and threw him down, the floor was in fact sand and Artemar stared up at the Sha’al as Aerhan knelt down behind him and took him with one hard thrust. There were moans heard from the crowd and Artemar moaned too, long sensual sounds while he kept staring at the Sha’al in a very suggestive way while stroking himself with one hand. Aerhan held onto him and Demetry grasped onto Aerhan and shoved his own cock into the black man with a cry. The three of them were moving in unison, even now it was a kind of a dance and the Sha’al was sweating and leaning forth, staring at the display in front of him.

Artemar let out a loud hoarse cry, closed his eyes and shuddered as he came and ropes of come landed upon the sand, Aerhan growled and followed with Demetry right behind him, all three groaned and gasped and made quite a spectacle out of it, probably on purpose. All the men there were aroused now, and the mood was set. Maglor shivered, he did feel that odd feeling of not really caring about anything, of being indifferent and just a dream but at the same time he was scared. He could barely remember ever having been that filled with fear before. His heart was beating like a drum, his skin sticky with sweat and he felt his knees wobble. Eru have mercy! His own voice was trembling inside of him and he was sure he was about to faint. The medicine inside of him still made him feel numb but was it enough?
Then he felt it, a touch on his cheek, felt a scent of the lilies that had grown outside of the mansion back home, heard a voice whispering in his ear. “Be strong Kano, do not despair. You will know in time”

Maglor almost said the name out loud, Nelyo? Was his brother’s ghost there? Artemar passed by, still panting and sweaty, he couldn’t show any feelings towards this new slave but he did throw a swift glance at Maglor. “Remember to live, to breathe, just that, only that”

Maglor sent him a swift nod, the guards stepped forth, and Belerur stood up from the guests. He pointed at Maglor, obviously praising his beauty and his own cunningness for having found such a fine specimen and the Maglor could see that the Sha’al was staring as if his eyes were about to pop out of his skull. The guards pulled him forth, and he remembered what he had been told, held himself with elegance and grace. Everybody stared, the men looked flabbergasted and in awe and he fought his panic and fear and did what Artemar had taught him to do. He met their gaze, one by one, let them see his fear and despair, and when he stared at the Sha’al waiting by the high table he tried to look seductive. The guards pulled him along all the tables, so that all the guests could admire the Sha’al’s new slave. Some looked as if they were in shock and others had a dreamy expression upon their faces.

The Sha’al looked proud, and he was grinning but there was greed in his gaze, and burning lust. Maglor kept praying, the feeling of this not being real got stronger and stronger and he fought the urge to cry. He was dragged along for a good while, and he tried to do his best, to make sure that the men assembled there would remember him, and perhaps support him. Then he was taken before the Sha’al who stared at the elf with bulging eyes, he was breathing hard and Maglor felt sick, the man did stink of sweat and old wine and he was even more disgusting up close than from a distance. The queen looked as if she did pity him though, she didn’t look at the elf at all and her eyes were strangely clear, as if she was about to cry.

The Sha’al grasped onto his hair and Maglor tried to smile, to look as if he wanted the ugly brute to touch him. It was hard, but the drug helped. Orieam whispered something he sounded as if he was truly in awe and then he started groping Maglor, squeezed his ass, slid greasy hands along his chest and back, growled something that probably was rather obscene. Maglor swallowed a whimper, this was it, it was going to happen and there was nothing he could do about it. The atmosphere within the room had changed, Maglor sensed it, the men had been aroused, now they were disgusted, shocked. Orieam let out a sort of grunt, then he grasped Maglor by his neck and threw him down onto the table so goblets and plates and food and wine just flew everywhere. It was no small feat for Maglor was almost two feet taller than the man. He was thrown onto his stomach in a pool of wine and crushed fruits and the queen gasped.
Maglor felt a scream inside of his head, a wail in denial of what was happening and he was whispering the same thing over and over again. “ Nelyo, be with me now, please”

The Sha’al tore open his own pants and got onto his knees behind the elf, grasped his hips and Maglor closed his eyes, tried to relax but he was shivering so bad his teeth were clattering like castanets. Tears had started flowing down his face but the Sha’al didn’t see that, and he wouldn’t have cared. He was so consumed by his lust he was blind to the world. The crowd was no longer cheering or being entertained. They had seen something akin to an angel, and now their own master and leader was desecrating this most beautiful and innocent of creatures. There were angry mumbling being heard but nobody dared to speak up, they were all at the Sha’al’s mercy and couldn’t protest.

Maglor sobbed, his chained hands grasped onto the tablecloth, just to hold onto something and he felt something pressing against his opening, something warm and hard and way too big. He felt himself tense up, whimpered as the Sha’al started pushing, thrusting, struggling to gain access to his body. He was too tight, even in spite of the medicine Harbal had administered, and the man impatient and brutal. Maglor tried to breathe, to not resist but then Orieam growled and thrust again, hard, way too hard and Maglor could not breathe anymore. The world exploded in agony, burning tearing pain that made him almost paralyzed. He couldn’t move, couldn’t think, could only feel that impossibly large object being shoved further and further into his body and heard the Sha’al moaning obscenely, panting over him. The world spun, he was so dizzy and he felt himself trying to break free from his violated hroa. Breathe, just breathe! He forced himself to do that, to take a breath, one more.

The pain was unbearable and then the man started to thrust in earnest and it reached a level Maglor had been unable to even imagine, he was being torn apart, ripped open and he couldn’t hold back anymore. He screamed, screamed until his lungs burned and his throat went raw, tears flowing down his cheeks, his body pushed forwards with every thrust and he felt himself go cold, go heavy and numb. The people assembled looked away, there was no leering, no lustfilled glances, just disbelief, horror. Maglor tried to stay focused, to remain within his hroa but it was hard, so hard. He felt himself slipping and opened his eyes one last time, to see if he could see Artemar one last time, to thank him for his kindness. What he saw made him gasp. In the middle of the room he saw his brother, not as he had been, one handed and scarred but whole, and beautiful. He smiled, a sad smile. “Resist little brother, you can do it, for us all, do it”

Maglor keened, a rush of sheer power went through him, anchored him to this world. He wailed, tried to reach out towards the apparition and Maedhros smiled again. “ Remember, every strength is paired with weakness”

The apparition was gone and the agony made the elf sweat profusely, made his silky black hair cling to his skin, made him shine in the light like some divine being, tainted and abused by vile darkness. The Sha’al tensed up, pushed deeper than ever before as he came, bellowing like some beast. Maglor felt warm fluid trickle down his inner thighs, knew it was blood and he felt his heart struggle, beat in an odd rhythm. The Sha’al groaned a few times and pulled out, the elf felt as if all of his intestines followed, and he let out one last hoarse groan of pain. A flow of seed and blood left his body and he just laid there, panting, waiting for anything to happen. The Sha’al just tucked himself away, grinning, looking very pleased and sated. Then he grasped his sobbing wife by the arm and dragged her off. She looked horrified. Maglor tried to lift his head, it felt terribly heavy but deep inside of him a felt a spark ignite, become a roaring flame, as hot as the one which had devoured his father at his moment of death. He whispered, lowly and with every last ounce of determination in his body, “One day, one day I will kill you Orieam, slowly and painfully and I will laugh! I swear this, and this oath I will see fulfilled!”

There were hands upon him, gentle hands and he was turned over, someone wrapped a blanket around him, he opened his eyes and saw red eyes staring back at him, filled with concern and shock. “Don’t die on me Maglor, don’t you dare to die now”

Maglor smiled, a strange almost dreamy smile. “ I won’t, for now I know”

Artemar caressed his hand as the servants carried the elf off to the room where Harbal ruled. “Know what?”

Maglor closed his eyes.” I doesn’t matter, not now anyhow. But I will live”

Artemar let out a sigh of relief and they rushed into Harbal’s infirmary. The old man was ready and made Maglor drink a huge cup of poppy milk. He looked angry and Maglor moaned in pain as he was gently lowered down onto the bed and put onto his stomach. “Careful, he is badly hurt”

Maglor felt himself slipping into unconsciousness. “Artemar, tell me, how did the guests take this?”

The albino bit his lower lip. “Not well, he has lost much support now, they were aghast. They saw something divine Maglor. Something more than themselves, and they saw him brutalize and rape it. I do not think his rule will last that long now”

Maglor smiled again, a smile with a hint of wickedness in it. “ My arrival here was as a harbinger of doom, his rule will end”

Artemar squeezed his hand and Maglor closed his eyes, drifted off. The albino stared at Harbal who was assessing the damage. “ How bad is it?”

Harbal sighed. “ Awful, he is torn up, I have never seen anything like it, had he been human he would have been dead already. I will do what I can”

Artemar took a deep breath. “Will he be alright again?”

Harbal nodded. “ Yes, I somehow feel that he will recover fully, but he will need time. He won’t survive another round like this one, that is for sure. That goddamn ruler of ours is truly a monster”

Artemar remembered his own encounters with the Sha’al and cringed, yes, he knew. The Sha’al had never been that brutal when he took other slaves, never that eager, that driven. But still there was always injury, always pain and he leaned down and kissed Maglor’s brow gently. “ Sleep well and rest my friend, I will be here to guard you, worry not”

He sat there the rest of the night, as Harbal did his job, making sure that the elf who held the key to their salvation didn’t wake up alone.




Teacher and apprentice by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

Maglor has survived so now what? he has a taste of what the harem really is, and a secret meeting may change everything...

 

Chapter 4: Teacher and apprentice

 

 

 

The darkness was soothing, safe. A refuge against the cruelty of the world and he didn’t want to leave it, but slowly the world was yet again forced upon him and he had to open his eyes. He didn’t realize where he was at first, then he slowly remembered and winced, feeling how a sense of panic threatened to overwhelm him completely. He had to get out, away, escape. Then a warm hand touched his shoulder and another grasped his trembling hand and some of his panic did dissipate. “Relax my friend, you are safe”

 

 

 

He saw Artemar sitting by his side, the albino looked tired and Maglor realized that he hadn’t left the elf’s side since after that horrible event in the great hall. The albino smiled and caressed his hand, there was genuine concern in his eyes and Maglor tried to smile. “How do you feel?”

 

 

 

The voice was warm and caring and Maglor found the strength to speak. “Like shite, I ache allover”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded and sighed. “No wonder, that beast really went for it like the monster he is. Harbal managed to stitch you up together again, you will be fine but no solid food for you for a while.”

 

 

 

Maglor moaned, that too. Well, he bet Harbal knew what he was doing for he just felt numb all over, the ache was there but it wasn’t really awful, just bad. Artemar lifted a cup of something to his lips. “Here, drink this”

 

 

 

Maglor drank, it was cool fruit juice of some sort and it was just wonderful, the taste made him reach for more but Artemar shook his head. “Nope, no more for now. You have to be careful, too much to drink after having been drugged that deep will leave you nauseous.”

 

Maglor just moaned and realized that he couldn’t sit up. “Eru, I am still alive!”

 

 

 

Artemar clicked his tongue. “Indeed you are pretty one, very much so. Thank every God for that.”

 

 

 

Maglor blinked, he felt sort of terribly tired and dizzy. “Please, tell me there won’t be another encounter like that, I cannot bare the thought. If he does that to me once more I will perish for sure, I won’t have the strength to survive again”

 

 

 

Artemar grinned, a rather devilish grin. “Don’t worry, the boys have been hard at work while you were out. The Sha’al felt sort of weak afterwards and his mother did tell him that fucking you would drain him of energy. She got my message you see. But being around you may invigorate him, and well, the idea caught on. She got hand of some mystic or mage or whatever who showed up this morning and proclaimed that your bodily fluids would make the Sha’al live for a heck of a long time”

 

 

 

Maglor winced yet again. “By bodily fluids you mean?”

 

 

 

Artemar shrugged. “Sweat, piss, seed, whatever. From now on you will be washed by some special slaves and the sweat soaked cloths turned to medicine.”

 

 

 

Maglor felt even more dizzy. “So he won’t try to take me again?”

 

 

 

Artemar shook his head vigorously. “Nope, you are safe from him. But from now on you can bet that you will be the most precious thing he’s got so you will be treated like you were made from the finest china.”

 

 

 

Maglor had to grin. “Well, he didn’t exactly treat me like that when he took me, more as if I was a piece of meat”

 

 

 

Artemar reached out and caressed his cheek. “No more of that Maglor, I swear.”

 

 

 

The elf relaxed visibly and Harbal entered the room, the old man smiled and put a cool hand on Maglor’s forehead. “I have to check on the progress, do you mind if I do?”

 

 

 

Maglor shook his head, he feared this but he didn’t really have a problem with Harbal, he was a healer after all. The old man gently rolled the elf over on his side and moved his legs and Maglor whimpered. Now that he had to move he felt the pain again and it was making him breathe fast and  shallowly. Harbal sort of hummed, the sound was very soothing and Maglor felt gentle fingers examine him, it hurt but he knew it could have been way worse.

 

Harbal smiled and put the blanket in place again, washed his hands in a basin with water and wine. “You are healing at a tremendous speed, I have never seen anything like it. In a week or two you will be back to normal.”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed. He had survived so what now? He saw that Artemar was swaying and he frowned. “Are you allright?”

 

 

 

The albino sent him a swift grin. “Yes, I am fine. Worry not my friend. I have been watching over you the whole time.”

 

 

 

Maglor gasped. “Oh Eru, for how long…”

 

 

 

Artemar yawned. “Two whole days. Harbal kept you sedated”

 

 

 

Maglor felt a surge of a strange sort of gratitude rush through him, it was…well, it was in a way humbling to know that Artemar had done that. “ I am very grateful”

 

 

 

Artemar just waved him off with a swift gesture. “Oh don’t think of it, I wanted to make sure you weren’t alone if you suddenly woke up”

 

 

 

Maglor felt a sort of tenderness, nobody had done something like that for him for….he had no idea of for how long. He tried to give Artemar’s hand a swift squeeze. “Thank you my friend.”

 

 

 

Artemar just lifted Maglor’s hand and gave it a swift peck. “Like I said, no big deal”

 

 

 

Maglor tried to relax, weeks to recover? That would be boring to say the least. “What now?”

 

 

 

Artemar cocked his head. “What do you mean what now?”

 

 

 

Maglor sort of grimaced. “What am I supposed to do? There has to be something I can do yes?”

 

 

 

Artemar smiled and caressed his hair. “Oh I will transform you Maglor, into the best dancer ever. And the others will teach you their skills too, in time you will be so sought after you will become more famous than the Sha’al himself.”

 

 

 

Maglor blushed. “I am not a dancer? I have barely danced ever! My mom said I was constantly stumbling in my own legs even as a kid.”

 

 

 

Artemar rubbed his hands together. “Oh but I love a challenge my dear, believe me, you will become a gem when I am finished with you. And the others will help with the transformation too, believe me”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “The dance you and the two others did? And Kerfem told some stories? Is that common entertainment here?”

 

 

 

Artemar giggled. “Oh that dance was rather risqué wasn’t it? But it set the mood, we aren’t that …straight forward normally. And Kerfem, oh, he was insulting the crowd.”

 

 

 

Maglor raised an eyebrow in a manner that would have made his foster son nod in approval. “What?!”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded with a wide grin. “ Oh yes, he did insult them. It is regarded as an art you see, insulting someone in either an extremely subtle manner or a very rude one. The more inventive you are the better, and Kerfem is a master at it. It is all a show, and everybody knows that. If someone else said those things they would be executed on the spot but Kerfem is famous, it is seen almost as an honor to have your name slandered by him”

 

 

 

Maglor shook his head in disbelief, humans! “So, what sort of insults does he use?”

 

 

 

Artemar grinned widely. “Oh, some are so subtle, you would think he was actually trying to flatter the person, but just a small hint tells you that he is meaning the opposite of what he really says. His most famous one up to now is the one time he called some high ranking ambassador the son of a warthog with just one teat”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “Ah, I am not so sure I understand?”

 

 

 

Artemar giggled. “ Oh I am sure you do, what sort of hog has only one teat?”

 

 

 

The albino made a discrete gesture towards his crotch and Maglor blushed. “ Oh, a male one”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded eagerly. “Indeed, so he managed to call the ambassador a warthog, insinuate that his father was taken in the ass by a swine to have him, and that he doesn’t have a mother at all but was born in an unnatural manner”

 

 

 

Maglor felt a bit shocked. “ I see”

 

 

 

Artemar grinned. “So you see, being good at bending words is in high regard here, as is poetry too.”

 

 

 

Maglor got a bit interested. “Really? What sort of poetry?”

 

 

 

Artemar sighed. “The type of poetry that would leave you feel nauseous, believe me, it is so sugar sweet and terrible I sometimes wish I was deaf. They make poems about pretty maidens with doe eyes and skin like velvet and some even more over the top poems about their favorite horses. Sometimes those two types are hard to differentiate.”

 

 

 

Maglor had to grin. “Elven poetry is very different from that”

 

 

 

Artemar grinned again and caressed Maglor’s hair again. “Indeed, I am eager to hear some of it, but now I need my beauty sleep. Harbal will make you some food soon.”

 

 

 

Maglor did feel hungry after all and he wondered silently if the vision of his brother had been real or not. Artemar kissed his brow and left and Harbal came with a bowl of some sort of soup that smelled very good. Maglor did manage to eat all of it and Harbal sat down and started to examine his hands and his skin. “I have ointments that will make your skin soft as velvet again, and with the food we have access to here you will put weight on rather fast too. I will make sure that that weight is muscle and not fat”

 

 

 

Maglor had to make wry grin. “Nobody have ever heard of a fat elf my friend”

 

 

 

Harbal clicked his tongue and felt the scar tissue that covered Maglor’s palms. “The food here can make anyone fat, believe me. It is not very healthy at all!”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “Really? I thought the food where was rather nice?”

 

 

 

Harbal nodded. “Some of it is, but the costly food is not, and that is what the rich people crave. When they eat just fat beef and even fatter dishes too it is no wonder few of them live for very long. And the sugar, ah have mercy, it is a sweet poison”

 

 

 

Maglor couldn’t remember having tasted sugar more than a few times in his life. It had been extremely expensive and in his eyes way too sweet too. “How come?”

 

 

 

Harbal found a jar of some sort of greasy ointment. “It is very bad for you, I have seen it again and again, and it is not just the teeth which suffer because of all the sugar the rich devour. But they crave it and have enough money to buy it and they doesn’t listen to the doctors at all”

 

 

 

Maglor sort of understood, when something was expensive it became a symbol of status. And thus more people wanted to possess it and show off their wealth.  He felt a bit drowsy again and Harbal left him so he could nap a little and he fell into reverie very fast. When he woke up again it was one of the twins who sat by his side and as the days went by he got to know them all in a much more personal manner. Noolar did reveal that he had a very nice voice and he often entertained the elf with songs from his homeland. And Maglor soon realized the implications of the small lies the Sha’al had been told. Every morning a slave would come to his room to get the chamber pot and when Maglor took a bath another slave would use some sort of tool to scrape the sweat off his skin before he went into the water. The idea that the Sha’al actually ingested this was both a bit disgusting and a nice revenge and Maglor never failed to make sure that the pot was full in the morning. He had to drink a lot of soup until he was fully healed and he had a feeling that his bladder had gone into overdrive.

 

 

 

His injuries did heal and he was very grateful that Harbal was so skilled, and by now he looked a lot better. He had started moving about again and Artemar had shown him a room with equipment they used to stay fit, and he was looking forward to finding his old strength again. The other males there spent a lot of time in there to make sure they did look their best and Harbal had sort of made a program Maglor ought to follow. But Maglor was bored, quite so, and not even Kerfem’s most juicy stories could cheer him up when he felt too confined and depressed. Artemar showed him the garden, it was a closed roofless room with some trees and bushes and it was nice but not very large. It looked like a hall without roof in the middle of the harem complex and it was only for the males of the collection. Just the sight of some greenery was a huge relief to the elf and he tried to spend as much time in there as possible. It reminded him of his sad situation since there was no way out and it made his longing for freedom so much stronger at times but he did cope, in a way.

 

 

 

Artemar made sure he was kept busy with learning the local language, with listening to stories and with hour upon hour of body care. He had his nails filed, his skin oiled and his hair carefully trimmed and taken care off. His entire body was massaged at least twice a day and he almost forgot about what this place was until one evening when they all were gathered by the main pool in the baths, listening to Demetry trying to learn how to play the sitar. It did sound like somebody torturing a cat but he kept trying and Maglor was slightly amused by it. He reminded the elf of some of his younger brother’s when they were learning to play instruments or do other things. Maglor was tempted at giving it a try for himself when Artemar suddenly froze, one of the guards who stood by the doors all the time had made a small gesture, hardly noticeable but to everybody in the harem the meaning was clear. Artemar swore and got up, he pretended to be walking over to a table for some fruit but he walked by the guard and some swift words were whispered.

 

 

 

Artemar returned and sat down next to Maglor, looked relaxed but there was tension in his gaze and he was a bit pale. “The Sha’al is coming, he expects a show. He will be hiding in the wall underneath the balcony over there.”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned, he had sort  of forgotten all about that beast, and why they all were there in the first place. “A show?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded and Aerhan got up and moved some of the furniture so that somebody watching from that area could see everything that was going on in the room. “An orgy, that is what he craves, and we all have to participate”

 

 

 

Maglor tensed up. “ Uh, I do not think that I can…”

 

 

 

Artemar smiled, a hint of sadness in his eyes. “Don’t worry, nobody is gonna take you yet, but I will give you my full attention for a while, suck you off and so on, that ought to please that bastard”

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t feel like it, not at all. He wasn’t really feeling like having sex with anyone and the very idea of having others watching like that was a bit disturbing but he sort of understood that he had to. Here they all played a game, and pretended to be something they were not when their owner watched them. Artemar caressed his cheek. “ Relax, it will be alright. You just lay back and relax and enjoy and I will do the job. Just make sure to be loud, he likes it when we are loud”

 

 

 

Maglor made a grimace and saw that the others sort of distributed themselves all over the room and started fondling each other rather vigorously. Artemar whispered to Maglor. “He likes to think that we are at it all the time, that we are having sex constantly. That is his fantasy, his little turn on. So we do our best to uphold that illusion and thank goodness the guards can be bought and convinced that it is a good idea to tell us when he is near.”

 

 

 

Maglor could understand that yes, and he also understood why it was such a good thing that the slaves did get gifts from their admirers. It had to be rather expensive paying off that many people. Artemar gently untied the sash which held Maglor’s robe together, it was a very thin and flimsy thing and it had a very nice deep blue color he kind of liked. Artemar had already gotten rid of his own clothes and now he proceeded to kiss his way down Maglor’s body. The elf gasped and tried to relax, but it was very hard to do it. This was something completely new to him and back in the old days the idea of orgies wouldn’t even have crossed his mind. But his body did react to Artemar’s very skilled touches and before long he was hard and almost panting. Artemar whispered to him. “Forget everything, don’t think, just feel. That is how we all manage to get through these moments”

 

 

 

The elf managed to nod, then he just surrendered to Artemar who really knew how to use his lips and tongue in amazing ways, Maglor remembered what he had been told to do and moaned loudly, that at least wasn’t hard for Artemar sort of kept him on the edge for a long time. Each time the elf felt that he was about to come the albino slowed down, or stopped to stimulate him altogether and then he sort of coaxed the elf forth once more, until he was trembling and whimpering and almost desperate with need. Maglor could swear that he heard someone moaning from inside the wall and he refused to think about it, that the Sha’al was watching this. Instead he let his hands caress Artemar’s long silky hair and he wondered at how soft it was. The albino could almost have been an elf, and he sort of mourned the fact that Artemar was a mere mortal. Such beauty shouldn’t have to fade and disappear.

 

 

 

After a short while Artemar stopped teasing and brought Maglor to a climax so strong the elf feared that he would simply pass out. He was screaming from the top of his lungs as the albino eagerly swallowed every drop of seed he had and he heard that others too were coming rather hard. He was dead sure that some of it was just for show, they were faking it rather shamelessly and he could see that at least Rial and Kenar were pretending to be fucking between two huge potted palm trees. There was a switch of partners and now Noolar was suddenly climbing onto the couch next to Maglor, the beautiful dark male winked. “Don’t worry, I do not bite. At least not unless I am asked to, but that piece of dung wants to see us sort of fool around with everybody”

 

 

 

Noolar was naked and Maglor did notice some very beautiful tattoos on his body, some across the top of his back, at the small of his back and then a few just above his pubic bone. Noolar pretended to be almost rutting against the elf’s body. “I see you like them, they are special to me, very precious.”

 

 

 

Maglor turned a little, so that nobody in the Sha’al’s direction could see that they were talking. “Do they have special meaning?”

 

 

 

Noolar pretended to be slowly licking his way down Maglor’s sweaty torso, Noolar’s body wasn’t as toned as those of the other males there, it was softer and rounder and he did indeed look very feminine but he still had male parts and he appeared to be almost a bit ashamed of that. “They do, to my tribe.”

 

 

 

Maglor pretended to be pulling the other male against himself, rather hard and Noolar whispered to him. “The ones on the top of my back shows which family I come from, the ones lower on my back is the symbols for my spirit animal and the ones in front shows that I am an adult, and that I am a female spirit trapped in male flesh.”

 

 

 

Maglor found that a bit fascinating, he had never heard of an elf suffering from that sort of problem and it had to be something that was rather rare after all. Noolar grasped Maglor by the waist and flung him over, got up on top of him and started to kiss him rather eagerly. “Just play along, I bet he will be done soon and then he’ll leave”

 

 

 

Maglor could only comply to that, he kissed Noolar back with all the passion he could muster there and then and to his surprise he was getting hard again. Noolar grinned widely and pushed himself up, sent Maglor a swift glance filled with question. “Is it okay for you if I ride you? That will please that ogre in there a lot”

 

 

 

Maglor hesitated, then he nodded and Noolar was probably prepared already for he just sat up and let himself drop down onto Maglor’s cock. The elf gasped and he just shuddered and let Noolar set the pace. It was obvious that Noolar enjoyed it for he was making grimaces and made some rather loud sounds that told anyone who wasn’t deaf that this was great. Maglor could just lay there and enjoy, for it did feel rather wonderful and Noolar was after all very beautiful, and he did show off his beauty too. It was very obvious that they all had learned how to pose and look their best and Maglor saw that Demetry was fucking Artemar up against the wall and the albino was making some keening sounds while arching his back and thrusting back against the blond dancer’s hips in a very wanton manner.

 

 

 

The air was reeking with sex by now and Maglor’s very sharp senses were reeling from it, the musk in the air reminded him of goats for some reason. Noolar was tensing up, his face contorting with growing ecstasy and then he let out a hearty howl and came, Maglor felt how warm jets of seed coated his belly and strangely enough it sort of pushed him too over the edge yet again. He yelled as he spilled and for a few seconds the world turned into white light and nothing more. He could hear something that reminded him of a bellowing beast coming from the wall and Noolar let himself fall forward, laid on top of the gasping elf for a few seconds. “He’ll leave now, thank goodness. Sometimes it takes half an hour or more before he comes, and we all have to be at it the whole damn time”

 

 

 

Maglor felt drowsy and tired and Noolar laid down next to him, just cuddling. Artemar came and joined them and Maglor felt a bit odd, laying there with a warm solid body on both sides of him but it felt nice too. It felt safe and he sort of snuggled up against Artemar who snickered and kissed his throat. “That was great my friend, there will be some days before he returns. He is after all a ruler, and has things to do”

 

 

 

Maglor preferred not to know what those things were, he just closed his eyes and enjoyed the heavy sated sensation he felt. Artemar yawned. “ Time for a small nap, it is exhausting to participate in these activities, at least when it’s all about looking sexy the whole damn time.”

 

 

 

Maglor sighed, and felt that someone pulled a thin blanket up over them, he opened one eye and saw that it was Kôr who had entered the room, carrying a tray with some jars of wine and some jewelry. Artemar snorted. “Gifts from him, well, they aren’t really ours, just ours to show off so others can see his wealth. Ghastly things, well, I bet we have to wear it all the next time he has guests. “

 

 

 

Maglor just mumbled, and he didn’t even try to fight it when sleep claimed him. When he woke up the room was darker and the lamps were lit, it was hard to tell night from day unless you were in the garden and in here you didn’t see the skies at all. Only the lamps and the few small openings near the roof let light in. He felt the warmth of Noolar on one side and Artemar was laying with his head on Maglor’s shoulder, breathing slowly and deeply. Maglor was stunned by how young and innocent the man looked, and felt a surge of tenderness flow through him yet again. They had all tried to help him and support him and if they hadn’t Maglor would have been dead for sure by now. Artemar groaned in his sleep and pulled himself closer to the elf and Maglor just relaxed and laid there, staring at the ceiling, thinking of nothing at all.

 

 

 

When the others woke up it was late at night and they were hungry and smelly and took turns at scrubbing each other. Maglor did sense the camaraderie and the friendship between these males and understood that the bonds between them were strong. They were not related in any way except from the twins but this were bonds made from something so much more solid than even bonds of kinship. Here your life depended upon the others surrounding you and that forged a special type of friendship indeed. Artemar helped Maglor wash and the albino’s hands were firm but gentle and Maglor enjoyed it, he felt cherished and even perhaps loved in a manner he had completely forgotten during his long lonely years and he sort of felt quite humble because of it.

 

 

 

After they had washed they ate and Maglor understood what Harbal had been talking about. Now that he was aware of it he did see that much of the food was ridiculously sweet or spicy and some of it was swimming in grease. He preferred the vegetables and even they were almost covered in sugar. He washed it all off in a small basin of water meant for washing your hands and the others grinned but didn’t say anything. Artemar emptied his wine glass and sighed, stretched himself out on the divan and played with his hair. “Kôr, could you please get the pipes, it is time for something to soothe the nerves.”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned, pipes? The boy left and returned with the strange contraptions Maglor only had seen a couple of times before, and then he hadn’t really known what they were, they were waterpipes but more elaborate than those he had seen before. Artemar demonstrated one and Maglor got a bit shocked when he saw that they inhaled the smoke the thing created. Artemar smiled, a somewhat melancholic smile. “It is needed, if we hadn’t these we would go insane for sure, yes, it is drugging ourselves but the alternative is way worse. The herbs we use is very soothing and relaxing and they sort of removed dark thoughts. Try some”

 

 

 

Maglor waved his hand. “No thanks, I don’t think so.”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded, “ I understand, and these things are addictive as hell but we need them, after all, we are just mortal, and fragile, and this environment will be the death of your soul if you cannot escape, one way or the other.”

 

 

 

Maglor saw that several of the others already had rather huge pupils and were in a dreamlike state and he felt a bit disgusted by it but then again, he could understand them too. This was the only escape they could find, and one that was relatively safe too. Before long they all were smoking and some were humming softly to themselves while inhaling the sweet smelling smoke. Maglor found the smell a bit nauseating and he got up and headed back to his room. He had slept so much he wouldn’t be able to sleep again so he found some pieces of parchment someone had left there and a stick with some sooth on it and attempted to draw Artemar. It wasn’t too bad and he kept himself busy sketching them all that night.

 

 

 

The next morning Artemar showed up with some breakfast and a wide grin, the man looked well rested and eager for some reason and Maglor wondered why. Artemar put the basket onto the table and made a gesture towards it. “Eat my friend, but not too much. Today your training will start”

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t really know what to feel about that but he obediently ate some bread and cheese and drank some juice. Artemar had brought a pair of very loose and wide pants and made the elf put them on, then he braided Maglor’s hair and tied it up. He grinned from one ear to the other. “Follow me, and I will give you the first lesson of many”

 

 

 

Maglor grimaced but followed Artemar into a room adjacent to the baths. It was empty with mats made from straw on the floor and a huge mirror at one end and Maglor felt so out of his right element there. Artemar sort of pushed him into the middle of the room, then he made the elf sit down. “ Maglor, I am sure you elves do dance too, but here the dances are very different and I am going to teach you everything I know. It will be needed, believe me. So from now on I am your teacher whenever we enter this room and I expect respect and obedience from you, understood?”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded, Artemar suddenly looked stern and Demetry entered the room and sat down too, the blonde grinned with a bit of mischief. “He’ll push you hard, you can bet on that thing to be sure as hell. But believe me, you will dance like none other whence he is done with you.”

 

 

 

Maglor winced and Artemar walked into the middle of the room, then he sort of entered a pose and caught Maglor’s eye. “Let me demonstrate the difference between dancing and good dancing”

 

 

 

Artemar started to move to some music only he heard, and Maglor was stunned by the man’s elegance, he moved as fluently as a river flowing towards the sea and every move was filled with grace and power and yet….Something was missing. Maglor realized that Artemar danced with a face completely devoid of emotions, his eyes were blank and distant and even though the moves were perfect they were mechanical, and lacked life. Artemar stopped. “See? That was perfect technical dance, but it was still bad.”

 

 

 

He got back into a starting position, then he went at it again and this time it was so very different. His face sort of glowed with a secret joy, his eyes sparkled and he was smiling and everything was transformed even though the moves were the same. This dance was mesmerizing and hypnotic and Maglor couldn’t look away from Artemar at all. When he finished he did so with a sort of twist that sent him spinning around, chin up and hair flying and it was wonderful to behold. Artemar stopped and cocked his head. “ And that was the difference between a horrible dance and one that will make people remember you until their dying day”

 

 

 

Maglor was stunned by the difference and Demetry patted him on the back. “Don’t worry, he’ll teach you. He taught me, and I am good!”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “ Oh yes you are, but not as good as me”

 

 

 

Maglor had to grin and Artemar gestured for him to get up. “Now, let me show you how you are supposed to stand.”

 

 

 

Maglor sort of scoffed, he did know how to stand on his feet but Artemar sort of pushed and pulled him into a new position, one in which he held his chin up and his shoulders even with his legs slightly spread, weight evenly distributed onto both feet. “Like that, remember that pose, that is the way you center yourself and that is the basis for all movement”

 

 

 

Maglor remembered having learned how to fence, his teacher had used some quite similar terms. Artemar turned him towards the mirror and stood next to him. “Now, watch what I do and try to replicate it, slowly.”

 

 

 

The albino sort of sat down in a smooth movement with his arms up above his head and his head tilted to the side, in a very inviting manner. Then he went back up again, arms still up but now in a more powerful arched position. Maglor swallowed, then he tried to replicate the whole sequence and Artemar scoffed and rolled his eyes. “ Oh by every hairy God and Goddess, that was awful! Elves are supposed to be graceful, you were as graceful as a…as an old arthritic camel! Again!”

 

 

 

Maglor groaned and did it again, tried to be elegant and Artemar clicked his tongue and shook his head vigorously. “Nope, nope, absolutely nope. You were a bit better but still you act as if you have got a broomstick stuck up your behind, relax, slide into the position, imagine your bones being made from jelly”

 

 

 

Artemar demonstrated again and Maglor had to agree, the man did this so much better than himself. He gritted his teeth together and tried to do as he was told. Tried to slide down elegantly and look seductive doing it. Artemar hissed and rolled his eyes. “Who are you trying to impress? A blind old goat? Those mats over there? Let me show you”

 

 

 

Artemar stepped behind Maglor and put his hands on the elf’s hipbones. “Now, start to bend down but let me guide you.”

 

 

 

Maglor took a deep breath and started to do the movement but Artemar stopped him. “No, no and no again, you are not to bend at the hip, bend at the knees, keep you pelvis relaxed but upright, imagine that you are sitting down to ride someone really hard and long, express lust with that movement.”

 

 

 

Maglor moaned, that was bloody hard but he tried and Artemar made an approving sound. “Better, much better, but an old woman with a fractured hip would still do it better, again!”

 

 

 

And so Maglor spent the most of that day just learning to bend down, and after some hours his knees were aching and he was sweaty and panting but Artemar had proclaimed that he finally was onto the right track. At least he didn’t move .like a stick man anymore. Maglor was in the bath looking forward to a long hot soak when Kôr came by, carrying a note. It was small and discrete and Maglor sighed, he couldn’t read those letters at all. He showed it to Artemar and the albino got an odd expression upon his face. “It is from her, the Sha’al’s mother, she wants to meet you. “

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “Is that possible?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “Yes, she is allowed to meet others from outside of the harem, she is a widow and she is no longer fertile, so here she is regarded as a woman who no longer can tempt a man and thus she is rather free.”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed. “Why would she want to meet me?”

 

 

 

Artemar shrugged. “I sent her the notes that made the Sha’al think he can live forever drinking your piss didn’t I? I bet she wants to see an elf for real”

 

 

 

Maglor sighed. “Right, so where and when?”

 

 

 

Artemar held the note to a candle, burned it. “After sunset, in the garden. She has her own guards, loyal to her, and her son will never know why she has met you. He will believe whatever she tells him.”

 

 

 

Maglor tilted his head. “Anything I need to know?”

 

 

 

Artemar smiled and patted his shoulder. “Just be polite, address her as your highness and never look her in the eye, that is impolite. She is a grand person Maglor, and on our side, do not forget that.”

 

 

 

Maglor just nodded and Artemar helped him getting clean. Then the albino braided his hair and helped him find some suitable clothes for the meeting and then Maglor was left on his own for the rest of the day. The others were training or just sitting in their rooms reading or sleeping and he had sort of understood that it was normal here to sleep during the day and be awake at night since the temperature was better then. Maglor hadn’t really thought of it but the entire harem was rather hot and now he realized that it was because the entire land was very warm, not just this building. It had to be a desert near by.

 

 

 

He spent the evening just relaxing and when he went to the garden he did notice that some of the guards were strangers. They had to be the former queen’s men and he tried to smile at them and show that he was harmless. The garden was dark, no lamps were lit and he could see the stars through the open roof, they were like gems and he felt an intense surge of longing for what had been, for those glorious happy days so long ago, before the silmarils, the oath and the horrible events that followed it.

 

 

 

The woman waiting for him sat in a divan, lit only by a small candle and he bowed politely and she chuckled, her voice hoarse and raw. She was smoking a water pipe and her eyes were glassy but not in any way anything but keen and intelligent. She was huge, a woman once beautiful and elegant now trapped within a prison of fat and her face was round and looked bloated. Her eyes did look tiny and she wore heavy makeup and yet he could see that she once upon a time had to have been a great beauty. She wore a thick heavy coat which covered her entire body and only her face was exposed, but the coat was overhung with jewelry. It made her sparkle and shine and she gestured towards the divan in front of her. “Please be seated, they didn’t lie when they told me of your beauty master elf, you are as radiant as the stars themselves.”

 

 

 

He felt himself blush, there was a softness in her voice and he did understand that she indeed was a very good person, one forced to live a terrible double life every day.” You do flatter me your highness”

 

 

 

She tilted her head. “I am telling the truth my fair one, my son is absolutely fascinated by you and he is speaking of you all the time. I have worked hard to protect you from his advances.”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed. “ I am eternally grateful your highness, I wouldn’t have survived yet another…encounter”

 

 

 

She nodded slowly. “I know, cursed be that beast and cursed be my womb which bore such an abomination. I have wept countless tears for all the lives he has ruined, all those lives lost. He is a plague upon this earth and this collection of his a disgrace.”

 

 

 

The elf nodded slowly. “ I am glad you have that view your highness, that you are on our side”

 

 

 

She took a deep breath from the pipe again, the scent was different from that produced by the pipes of the others there. She saw that he did notice the difference and smiled again, widely. “It is a herb which invigorates you instead of making you docile and indifferent, it keeps the mind sharp and the thoughts flowing freely. I use another drug to make myself look half asleep, nobody knows of this”

 

 

 

Maglor smiled. “That is clever”

 

 

 

She sat up, put the pipe away. “Yes, I have to be, to survive. This land suffers under my son’s rule, and his sons are as bad as their father. His reign has to end.”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed, he felt nervous. “So?”

 

 

 

She took a jar out from underneath her robes, it was the sort which contains skin cream. “ I want you to use this every day, it will make your skin so smooth and silky, and it smells nice too. I use it every day, even if my beauty is long gone and my red river has run dry. “

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “ I do not understand?!”

 

 

 

She giggled like a little girl. “Oh but you will. You see, things put onto a person’s skin will be absorbed by the body, and affect also what they excrete.”

 

 

 

Maglor gasped. “Is it poisonous?”

 

 

 

She shook her head. “No, absolutely not, in fact it will have a great effect upon him when he ingests your water, it will make him feel stronger, more vigorous. He will think it is you who is the cause of that effect and I will make sure that he sees that you need all of the others here to remain strong and healthy, that you may need some trips outside of the harem, that you need some freedom. He will grant that after a while, and trust in the good effect of your…gifts”

 

 

 

Maglor felt a bit shocked by her ideas, she was cunning, so extremely so. “ And then?”

 

 

 

She straightened her shawl a bit. “Then I will send you a new salve, one with a new ingredient which won’t harm you since you are an elf but to him it will become death, a slow creeping and very hidden killer that will kill him so slowly he won’t have an idea of what it is until it is too late”

 

 

 

Maglor looked at the woman with a sense of disbelief. “ You want to use me to murder the Sha’al?”

 

 

 

She nodded, the eyes were rock hard for a few seconds. “ I want your help to rid the world of evil, that is what I want, so, are you in on this?”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed, then he gave her his hand. “ I am in, let us do this”

 

 

 

She smiled. “The gods must have smiled on us the day you were brought here, yes, it was a blessing. You will murder my son, and I will take care of my grandsons. Do not worry about that”

 

 

 

Maglor just took a deep breath, what had he just gotten himself into?

 

 

 

 

Better the devil you know by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

Maglor learns a lot more of this place he is forced into, and when danger lurks the devil you know is always the best choice...

 

Chapter 5: Better the devil you know.

 

 

 

Maglor knew he could trust Artemar, and so he did tell his friend of the plans made by the Sha’al’s mother. The albino just smiled, a very pleased grin and told Maglor that he had sort of guessed that the meeting would end with something like that. She had finally found a way to murder her son without arising suspicion and Maglor was to be her tool. Maglor had felt a sort of respect for the woman, a feeling of almost kinship. She too was trapped by the world and its demands and she was just as much a slave as he was, it was just another title to it. Artemar sat down and Maglor joined him, the albino had braided some colorful cords of dyed leather into his hair and the result was very pretty indeed. Maglor suspected that the efforts these men did to look good was something they did just because they had to, not because they really wanted to strut about looking like peacocks.

 

 

 

Artemar leaned back and sort of relaxed against the backrest, his eyes were a bit distant and Maglor realized that he probably had taken some sort of drug but his speech wasn’t slurred and he seemed normal enough, just a little sluggish. “I do remember the first time the old queen contacted us, she had asked to watch us dance and she looked as if she was utterly bored by the performance. It was then I knew she was different”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded slowly. “She couldn’t let her son see that she was disgusted by it all”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “ Exactly, she acts completely indifferent and like I have told you before, she has even bought him slaves. He trusts her and she has spoiled him a lot, just to blind him and turn his attention elsewhere.”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned, “What is her official title here?”

 

 

 

Artemar made a gesture. “Tha’vaal, queen that were. It is a sad title, and usually one which nobody keeps for long. The Sha’al’s have had a nasty habit of culling off relatives very fast when they take the throne. She is an exception”

 

 

 

The elf took a deep breath, remembered the Sha’al’s queen and she had seemed rather young.” The current queen, is she really the mother of his sons? She seems so young?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded, he ran a hand through Maglor’s silky hair and the elf sort of shuddered from the touch, it felt very good. “She is, but she was married to the Sha’al when she was just eight and got the first son by ten”

 

 

 

Maglor gasped and stared, it was rather horrible and he swallowed. “Ten? But…how did she…”

 

 

 

Artemar made a very ugly grimace, one that really transformed his face. “How did she survive bedding that monster? Considering his size? Oh the truth is weird you see, and ugly too”

 

 

 

Maglor leaned back, feeling slightly sick. Eight year old girls should never have to get married, they were children damn it. “How can anything be more ugly than this marriage as it is?”

 

 

 

Artemar just sent Maglor a rather odd glance. “ Oh believe me, you haven’t seen ugly yet. The Sha’al wants his sons to be special, to be empowered and strong and more than normal humans so he has made sure that they are born in a very unusual manner. You see, they believe that a man born by a maiden will become a true king”

 

 

 

Maglor felt confused. “Born by a maiden? How is that possible?”

 

 

 

Artemar smiled. “Oh it is, it requires some good healers and a lot of preparation but the queen is technically still a maiden, he has never fucked her.”

 

 

 

Maglor could in a way understand that, she would have been torn apart from the inside if that beast had taken her but how then…?

 

The albino grinned, a wry grimace. “The healers have injected the queen with the Sha’al’s seed, and thus gotten her pregnant. All of the Sha’als official children have been born thus. She had one child each year for ten years until she was too worn out and would have died carrying yet another one. The rumors are saying that he is contemplating replacing her with a new and fresher one.”

 

 

 

Maglor was shocked, and stunned. He hadn’t even known that such a procedure was possible. “How old is she?”

 

 

 

Artemar shrugged. “Her youngest daughter is thirteen so thirty three I guess. She looks younger thanks to the care she has received but in reality she is worn out and not at all the beauty she used to be. The clothes hides that fact of course, that is the only good thing about the veritable tents decent women are forced to wear.”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded. “ I saw what the Tha’vaal were wearing, so that is standard dress code?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “Yes, but in other noble families the women can gather and party without men present and then they wear very beautiful dresses and make up and jewelry too. It is just the Sha’al who doesn’t allow his females to have any sort of contact with the outside world”

 

Maglor had to sigh, it sounded like a terrible life. “Because he is afraid of others impregnating them?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded sternly. “Right, it would be a disaster the way he views the world. His females has to be pure. He is obsessed with virginity by the way, that is something you have to be aware of. He has some horrible kinks”

 

 

 

Maglor made a grimace. “Why am I not surprised, what sort of kinks?”

 

 

 

Artemar sat up again and leaned against Maglor, as if he wanted some comfort before telling of these things. Maglor put an arm around the albino who made a pleased sound and closed his eyes. “He loves to watch virgins being deflowered, if they are young and scared it makes it even better. He usually has some of his soldiers do the deed so to speak and sometimes he even makes it part of his parties. Then there is the other kink, the one we have to participate in”

 

 

 

Maglor bit his teeth together, that didn’t sound promising at all. “Oh?”

 

 

 

Artemar sighed and Maglor felt his breath tickle him a bit. “Yeah, he brings some of his slaves in here, for an orgy. Usually some of the male slaves and some female ones too, and one newly bought innocent one, male or female doesn’t matter.”

 

 

 

Maglor sighed and felt disgusted yet again. “And someone has to take that poor person?”

 

 

 

Artemar shook his head. “ Oh, that would be too easy, no! The slave is fed some herbs which makes a person very aroused if watching others having sex, so much so that it is unbearable. And then he sits behind the wall with some friends, betting on how long that poor thing lasts before he or she begs one of us to take him or her”

 

 

 

Maglor felt his stomach churn. “ Oh Eru, that is sick!”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded and nuzzled Maglor’s neck. “It surely is, and Belerur is a master at finding youth that are so uncorrupted they barely know what sex is. The Sha’al likes it in special when the person is horrified and yet so filled with need they cannot resist. That really gets him off, and if it looks painful it makes him come every time”

 

 

 

Maglor grasped a glass of wine left on the small table by the couch, he felt as if he had a terrible taste in his mouth. “Have you…?”

 

 

 

Artemar sighed and closed his eyes again, there was something akin to pain or perhaps shame in his eyes. “I have, twice. It doesn’t happen often, after all, virgins that ignorant are hard to find but I think we have had three or four such events happen each year.”

 

 

 

Maglor felt even more disgusted. “ Three or four? Eru’ that is awful. What happens to that poor slave afterwards?”

 

 

 

Artemar shrugged. “Often they are being sold again, they are no longer interesting to the Sha’al. Belerur has earned a shit load of money on that, he often claims that these slaves can’t be sold for a high price and the Sha’al believes him and accepts that Belerur is giving him just a symbolic sum of money”

 

 

 

Maglor sneered. “So he is embezzling money? That is brave I must say, what would happen if the Sha’al found out?”

 

 

 

Artemar just waved it off with an indifferent gesture. “Not much I bet, the Sha’al doesn’t care about money, he has too much of it as it is and he has no real understanding of their value. To him it is just something that is there. But try to avoid paying taxes and he will be at your ass like a hungry bloodhound”

 

 

 

Maglor had to grin. “So he does want his subjects to pay their taxes?”

 

 

 

Artemar smiled. “Yes, and the taxes are very high too, sometimes so high people have to sell everything they have to pay them. It makes the common population hate him, but he doesn’t care about that at all. All he cares about is his power and the ways he can show it off”

 

 

 

Maglor wanted to learn as much as possible, it could come in handy later on. “So he enjoys a lot of pomp and circumstance?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “He does, he likes to imagine himself as some sort of demi god, and he has this parade once a year when he rides through the city, dressed up and all. It is all a show of wealth and influence, and very gaudy indeed.”

 

 

 

Maglor had to grin. “Rides through the city? What horse can carry someone like that?”

 

 

 

Artemar chuckled. “ For the last fifteen years? None, he has adopted a custom from a realm to the far south of here, he is pulled forth on a sort of humongous wagon shaped like a resting monster of some sort and he sits on its back while at least two hundred slaves has to pull the absurd vehicle forth. It looks utterly ridiculous. That day we are allowed to watch, from a distance. There is a tower to the south of here, within the palace and we are taken there to observe the splendor of our master and be even more impressed by his might than before.”

 

 

 

Maglor smiled and ran his fingers through Artemar’s hair, it was silky smooth and smelled of jasmine. Artemar changes his smell rather often, the elf found that fascinating. “I bet you are laughing?”

 

 

 

Artemar giggled. “ Oh not there while his guards watch over us, but when we return here? Oh by every god, we have a good time. The last parade was horrible, so over the top even his most loyal subjects probably almost choked when they saw him”

 

 

 

Maglor pulled Artemar closer to himself, it felt good holding him and he had grown very fond of the human, perhaps even a bit too fond. Here such feelings could become dangerous but he couldn’t help it. “Tell me more”

 

 

 

Artemar kissed Maglor’s neck and smiled again. “Alright, he was wearing this armor you see, and it must have cost more than the budget of a small country for it was made from gold and there were emeralds and rubies attached to it everywhere. It was so silly looking it could have made anyone cry just by looking at the thing. “

 

 

 

Maglor felt relaxed and strangely at peace, sitting like this felt good. “An armor? Who the heck managed to make an armor his size? It must have taken years?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded and chuckled again. “He had some very good blacksmiths going at it for two years I think, and then they needed yet another year since he had grown a lot since he ordered it. He doesn’t see it himself but he is becoming a veritable mountain of blubber. He thinks he is handsome as fuck, but that is an illusion for sure.”

 

 

 

Maglor remembered the Sha’al and shuddered, the man had looked like some ugly angry disfigured warthog. Not even orcs were that nasty the way he saw it. Artemar stroked Maglor’s thigh gently. “I think we will split the day tomorrow, we will be dancing first, then we will have a break and in the afternoon I will start to teach you some of the other skills you will need here.”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed and felt less than enthusiastic about it. “As long as you are the teacher I will try to do my best.”

 

 

 

Artemar turned himself over and lay on top of the elf, staring him in the eye. “ I know you will, and I will show you that this is about so much more than mere fucking, if you can make someone come just by reciting erotic poems or massaging them you can save yourself a lot of trouble. And the more famous you become the less you actually have to do, a great reputation will do the job for you in most cases”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “Do you think the Sha’al will lend me out to his followers? Knowing how precious I am to him?”

 

 

 

Artemar smiled. “He will, but not for a long time. You are new now, and exciting, and everybody is talking about you and wondering what or who you are. He will wait until the excitement and curiosity reaches a peak, then he will let some of his best men enjoy your company and their gratitude will ensure his power for yet some years”

 

 

 

Maglor took a deep breath. “If he doesn’t die first”

 

 

 

Artemar sort of rubbed himself against Maglor. “It will take time my friend, maybe even a couple of years. The Tha’vaal is patient and she has to be, there can be nothing which arises any sort of suspicion”

 

 

 

Maglor felt a shiver running down his spine, that woman was not someone you would want as an enemy. “She said she would take care of his sons?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “And she will, in due time. There is so much which can happen to a man in this city, many accidents are possible even within the palace. And there are often diseases spreading through the population too and being royal doesn’t mean you are immune. No, they will be no problem whence she is done with them.”

 

 

 

Maglor found the information somewhat disturbing still. “She will have her own grandchildren murdered?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “Her grandsons, her granddaughters are safe. And believe me, the sons are just as mad as their father so good riddance. He has let them visit us and they are even more twisted than him so I cannot wait until that threat is out of the way”

 

 

 

Maglor hissed. “They sound like hell spawn for sure”

 

 

 

The albino raised himself up on his elbows, stared at Maglor from a few inches away. “They are the devils little minions, all three of them. The youngest is sixteen and he already likes to have slaves slowly strangled while they are being raped, often with huge objects. His older brothers are more sophisticated but no less sadistic.”

 

 

 

Maglor made a grimace. “His daughters?”

 

 

 

Artemar sent him a sad smile. “ Ignored, powerless, hardly worth mentioning. He has married off the oldest ones and three remain here now. They are of course taken well care off but they too are slaves, things to be exploited and used and tossed aside. Their only value lies in the ability to bear sons, and I have heard they all hate their father. The Tha’vaal will make sure they get a good life whence their father is removed.”

 

 

 

Maglor remembered his own childhood, the love and the feeling of being so very very precious to his parents. That feeling had never diminished, not even when they were seven in all. Fëanor had treasured his sons the whole time, even perhaps a bit too much. If he hadn’t showered them with such love and adoration they wouldn’t have followed him the way they did, without asking questions, without feeling doubt even once. “ I cannot understand you humans, among us daughters are just as treasured as sons”

 

 

 

Artemar sort of nodded. “ Your people is very different from ours then. In some tribes female children are killed just after they are born, nobody wants them. When their sons are ready to marry they kidnap girls from other tribes.”

 

 

 

Maglor shook his head. “There is much ugliness in this world I fear”

 

 

 

Artemar chuckled, a sort of sarcastic sound. “ True words my friend, I have seen things too terrible to describe, sometimes I think the God’s blessed me when I was born without color, I have been spared of a lot because of it.”

 

 

 

Maglor yawned and Artemar got up. “It is time for bed I think, may I sleep at your place tonight?”

 

 

 

The elf felt a bit confused but nodded. “ Of course?”

 

 

 

Artemar grinned. “Great, I sleep better when I am not alone”

 

 

 

Maglor got up and they walked to his room, he felt a bit odd crawling into the bed with Artemar that close but it felt good too, safe in a way. He had often slept close to his younger brothers when he was an elfling and this reminded him of those days of careless bliss and endless love. He didn’t need much time to fall asleep and Artemar laid with an arm around him and a small smile on his face. Maglor dreamed of things long gone, of his parent’s house in Tirion, the gardens and the lovely grooves of trees growing by the roads. He dreamed of playing games with his brother, remembering how Caranthir always got pissed off in a spectacular manner if he lost, and how Celegorm would let Huan chase the stray dogs away from their gate with glee. He remembered his mother, how her dark burgundy hair had shone in the light of Laurelin and how her gentle warm hands had caressed him when he had scraped his knees or been called foul names by others. He didn’t really understand why it had ended the way it had, light had been replaced by darkness and love with despise and hatred and fear. It was like a wonderful vision of something precious used to hide something awful.

 

 

 

He woke up with a feeling of being slightly smothered, Artemar had moved in his sleep and laid with his head on Maglor’s chest and one arm over his shoulder, the albino was still asleep and the beautiful face was relaxed and carefree. It was obvious that he had learned to take whatever joy he could find when the opportunity presented itself, for otherwise there wasn’t much joy to be found in this place. Maglor sighed, he didn’t want to move for it felt good laying there with Artemar this close. He closed his eyes and just dozed, enjoying the sensation of skin against skin. It was a moment of peace and bliss and one that gave him more strength to withstand the fear and confusion of this existence. His stomach growled and he was eying the basket of break and cheese Kôr had left on the table by the bed, he had put on some muscle and he already felt how that made him hungrier than before. An elf could go without food for a long time but there was a difference between survival and thriving and he wanted to grow strong and fit so he could use his strength to his own benefit.

 

 

 

He was about to gently remove Artemar’s arm when he heard some noises in the distance. It sounded like agitated voices and a door slammed and he heard feet running, then he heard someone shouting and something that could only be distant wails and he was wide awake and so was Artemar. The man was obviously sleeping lightly, ready to wake up at the smallest hint of danger. Artemar was up and on his feet in the fraction of a second and Maglor shook the sleepiness out of his body and got out of bed too. Artemar slid on his loincloth and he was wide eyed and seemed nervous. “What is happening?”

 

 

 

Maglor could hear that his voice was a bit rough, and filled with fear. Here he had no control of his surroundings, it was like being at war once again. Artemar swore and his lips were narrow and his eyes hard. “Nothing good, I am sure, Follow me, and be careful”

 

 

 

Maglor got his own clothes on and they left the room, the others were gathered by the pool, and Harbal and his apprentice was there. Maglor felt his heart speeding up, he heard moaning and knew someone was hurt, and hurt badly too. Artemar sort of pushed his way through the small crowd and Maglor followed him, some other slaves stood there too, the ones working with providing the men of the collection with the proper care and some cleaning slaves too. All looked nervous and confused and scared. Maglor gasped. Suuna laid on the bench by the pool, and he was terribly pale and sweating profusely. His body was twitching in an odd manner and Aerhan was holding his arms. He was constantly moaning and the sound was thin and just horrible, filled with agony.

 

 

 

Artemar sort of keened and fell down onto his knees next to the bench, Harbal was covering Suuna’s back with wet cloth and blood was running down his flanks and staining the bench in thick streams. It made Maglor feel nauseous. “What has happened to him?”

 

 

 

The spotted man seemed to be only half conscious and the odd twitching of the muscles was in a way almost obscene, it told of great injury. Harbal was pale but there was an unholy rage simmering within his gentle eyes and the old man almost sneered. Aerhan looked at Artemar with dark eyes, he had been crying for there were dark lines down his cheeks. “The master let one of his followers borrow him this night, he was supposed to just sing and entertain. But he has gotten whipped badly, and tortured”

 

 

 

Artemar closed his eyes in despair and Harbal growled. “They have raped him, and pushed skinned Thibar peppers up into him”

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t know what that was and Artemar sort of gasped. “They are used as food but raw they create a terrible burning pain when they come in contact with bare skin. They are horribly strong, some use them as a sort of weapon, smear them onto their blades to cause intense agony.”

 

 

 

Maglor cringed, and Harbal sighed. “ I have removed them, but the damage is great. “

 

 

 

Artemar caressed one of Suuna’s hands. “ Will he live?”

 

 

 

Harbal shrugged. “I do not know, only the Gods decide now. I have done what I can.”

 

 

 

Kenar stood there looking pale. “They tortured other slaves as well, several are dead. But the Sha’al won’t care about that loss”

 

 

 

Maglor felt how his guts churned, he had lost his appetite and he felt slightly dizzy. “Will the Sha’al punish that follower?”

 

 

 

Aerhan sighed and there was sorrow on his face. “Yes, most certainly. Nobody but  him is allowed to ruin his toys. The follower is probably going to be banished, and all his belongings will be seized by the Sha’al to become his own.”

 

 

 

Maglor made a grimace, it was not because of Suuna at all, it was because of property damage. Simple as that and he realized full out how little they all were worth, they were objects and things and their feelings and well being mattered little. He felt trapped once more. “Has anybody done something like that to any of you before?”

 

 

 

Aerhan made a sarcastic grin. “ Oh yes, but nothing that has left permanent markings, he doesn’t allow that. Scars are unwelcome so no cuts or wounds of any kind. But I was once raped until I passed out and another slave here was forced to suck off so many of the Sha’al’s guests he ended up puking seed and they just laughed and said he had a weak stomach.”

 

 

 

A couple of slaves entered through the entrance, an armed guard were following them and they carried a small body between them. Maglor felt his heart drop within his chest when he saw that it was Kôr. The boy was unconscious too and his legs red with blood. There was no doubt about his fate and Artemar got up, his eyes were blazing. “Now you see why we need you to end this, why things has to change. Nobody is safe here, this is indeed hell and the devil is laughing right now”

 

 

 

Maglor saw that Harbal gently examined the boy and he shook his head and made a grimace. “He will not make it, he has lost too much blood I fear, and they have fractured his ribs too. He is slipping away.”

 

 

 

Some slaves came with a stretcher and they carried Suuna over to the small infirmary where Harbal started sewing up the wounds and doing what he could to help the poor  man, Maglor felt sick to the core and Artemar was acting a bit strangely. He was almost frantic and Maglor realized that he was afraid of losing someone, he probably had done that before several times. Maglor sat down next to him, tried to pull him into an embrace and at first he was as stiff as a log, then he relaxed and let the elf hold him close. “ Oh Maglor, I had hoped this never would happen again, that we would be safe. I do not know what this means but I fear it”

 

 

 

Maglor kissed his brow and felt the albino shiver. “What do you mean?”

 

 

 

Artemar made a grimace. “I mean that nobody would dare to hurt any of the Sha’al’s slaves before, at least not one of us. This could mean that he has followers who no longer fear his power which is frightening in itself or that this was someone new to his court who simply doesn’t know the rules. And that is bad too.”

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t understand and Artemar sighed. “ He is expanding his power, his influence. Binding new powerful men to his rule through gifts and intimidation, I have heard lots of rumors.”

 

 

 

Maglor started stroking his hair, some slaves had carried Kôr too away and Maglor wept for the boy. He had liked him a lot. “Such as?”

 

 

 

Artemar frowned, he was clinging to Maglor now, in an almost desperate manner. “The Sha’al has enemies, there are other realms surrounding this kingdom and he is at war with some of them and wishes to conquer them. If he is expanding that means that he is showing his strength, and that he is sure of victory. He has to have some powerful ally to do that, his army isn’t that great”

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t know these lands at all, he had no idea of where he was compared with the parts of the world he knew. “So, what sort of realms are we speaking off?”

 

 

 

Artemar sighed and Maglor saw that the others had returned to their own rooms, probably too worried on Suuna’s behalf to be able to do much else than wait and pray. Belerur had arrived and he had gone straight to the infirmary, he looked furious and Maglor hoped that he would make the Sha’al punish the guilty one hard. Artemar shrugged. “To the north we have the Harad, it is far north from here, and then we have some mountains to the north east, I think they call them the Orocarni. The Sha’al have had them in his sights for a long time, there are valuable minerals and ore in them, they say they are inhabited by strange beings too”

 

 

 

Maglor could understand this, a ruler would naturally crave such lands, ore was valuable and if you are to build an army you will need much of it too. “Strange beings?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded, he was still weeping and he looked very vulnerable. Maglor felt a sudden urge to take care of him, to protect him and he pressed yet another shy kiss to his forehead. Artemar nodded. “ They say they dig through the very rock itself like worms through rotten meat, and that they are strong and tough as the very bones of the earth. And small, they say they are small”

 

 

 

Maglor scoffed. “Dwarves, you are speaking of dwarves!”

 

 

 

Artemar lifted his head. “ Dwarves? Please, tell me more of them, I need something to think of now, other than poor Suuna”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded and stroked Artemar’s silky hair again. “ Of course, I have met dwarves before, and they are an interesting race”

 

 

 

He started telling Artemar everything he knew about the dwarves and the albino just sat there, listening quietly. Maglor feared for Suuna but he forced the fear back and concentrated upon telling the story. After a while one of Harbal’s slaves returned from the infirmary, he held his eyes lowered towards the floor and Maglor had seen him a few times before. He wore just the standard slave uniform and was nothing special when it came to appearance. Perhaps that was a blessing in this place, being plain meant being safe. “The boy is dead, but Suuna will survive. He will be weak for a long time though, and he will have scars”

 

 

 

Artemar keened. “That is it. The Sha’al will sell him then, like a lame horse. “

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed hard. “Is there anything we can do?”

 

 

 

The albino sighed. “ I will inform the Tha’vaal, she may interfere and make sure that someone asks to buy him, someone kind. That is his only chance I fear”

 

 

 

Maglor bit his lower lip. “ And if that doesn’t happen?”

 

 

 

Artemar sort of shuddered. “He will be sold to a brothel, and will die from disease and abuse within the passing of a year. Nobody lasts for more than a few months in those places, it is what we all fear. Death is to prefer”

 

 

 

Maglor held the albino hard, felt how Artemar still shook and realized that the albino was genuinely horrified of that fate. No wonder, if people were treated the way Suuna had been those places had to be absolutely nightmarish. He remembered what his brother had revealed about his capture and the years in Angband and he started to realize that the difference between orcs and humans perhaps weren’t that huge after all.

 

 

 

Maglor spent the rest of that day there, with Artemar close and he found comfort in the intimacy and when he got too hungry some of the house slaves brought them some soup and both ate but with no joy. That night they gathered in the garden and everybody sat there, praying for Suuna and Maglor sang for the first time since he threw the accursed jewel into the sea. His voice was rough and raw and untested and it sounded horrible compared with before, yet it brought tears to the eyes even of the guards and he poured his sorrow and fear into it, and also his hope. Slowly the song became a new theme, a new tune and he wove it all into it, made it a haunting and epic tale of days that were and days that still were to come. It was his best work so far and he knew that he once again would claim the title of bard, and through his songs they would all be remembered once again.

 

 

 

The next day Artemar had sort of returned to his old self, but there was a hardness in his eyes and he pushed Maglor hard through his training, they just practiced dance that day but when Maglor tired and sore returned to his room to rest he found a book on his bed. It was filled with very explicit drawings of people having sex and he blushed and realized that this too was a part of his training. He couldn’t read that alphabet nor the language but he had to learn. Some of the house slaves came to him and tried to teach him the local languages and he tried to learn with a sensation of eagerness. It was the key to survival and to power. He had to learn as much as possible. Suuna recovered but very slowly and he was deeply traumatized. The slaves did speak a lot when they came to wash Maglor and to collect the contents of his chamber pot and through them Maglor learned that the Sha’al indeed was furious. Suuna had been a favorite of him for a while and he was regarded as very rare and valuable so the noble man who had tortured him had been executed. That made Maglor feel a wee bit better but not much. It still didn’t make things more right.

 

 

 

Artemar kept  training him every day and he slowly started to understand the concept behind the dance and the art of it. He was trying hard to excel and Artemar praised him a lot. The Sha’al was very busy and the slaves suspected that he was planning to attack one of the neighbor realms. Suuna had indeed gotten huge scars across his back and the spark was gone from him eyes, he was constantly afraid and had terrible nightmares and Harbal fed him strong drugs to calm him down.  Artemar had given the Tha’vaal the information she needed and his informants had assured him that someone already was trying to buy Suuna and bring him to safety. It all depended upon the mood of the Sha’al, and whether or not he was willing to sell Suuna to someone outside of the court or not.

 

 

 

The dead slaves had been replaced by new ones, a house slave was something you could buy as easily as you bought a loaf of bread and sometimes they were cheaper too. The other part of his training was harder to get through, he sort of knew he needed to learn and he did enjoy it when it was Artemar he practiced with. He felt more awkward when it was someone else he had to bed but he learned, and Artemar was an excellent teacher. Harbal too taught him a lot about the body and the way it responds and Maglor sort of overcame his shyness within a few weeks. The Sha’al demanded yet another orgy and this time Maglor participated and used everything he had learned, the guards who Artemar had bought confirmed that the bastard had been very pleased by his performance and that the Sha’al wanted Maglor to dance at the next party. Apparently there was a victory to be celebrated and the palace was in an uproar.

 

 

 

New slaves were brought to the harem, Maglor saw several very pretty young men who were ushered into the other wing of the huge building and the slaves spoke of a lot of women too. The Sha’al had apparently conquered his neighbor and taken all his treasures. Two days before the party Belerur entered the main room rather suddenly and he called upon Suuna, everybody had been sitting there listening to Maglor singing, the elf had gotten his singing voice back by now and knew he could use it to his benefit.

 

Everybody knew what this was and Suuna sort of paled and he almost collapsed. Belerur seemed impatient and Artemar slipped him a huge ruby, just to make him wait for a few moments. Everybody walked up to Suuna, hugging him, kissing him, wishing him luck, saying their blessings. Everybody wept, even Maglor and even though they all knew that the Tha’vaal had managed to find a good buyer they probably never would see Suuna again.

 

When Belerur at the end dragged the spotted man off even the house slaves wept and Artemar leaned against Maglor and there was despair in his voice. “One is gone from the collection, the Sha’al will work hard now, to find a replacement. Some poor unfortunate soul he can break, someone unique.”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “Are you sure?”

 

 

 

Artemar sighed. “Yes, he always does that when one of us has to leave, it is superstition. The collection must grow, never diminish for if it does so will his virility. At least that is what he believes.”

 

 

 

Maglor scoffed and held Artemar close, he felt terribly sad and he just hoped that this didn’t interfere with the Tha’vaal’s plans. He was using the lotion every day and he knew that the Sha’al felt fabulous by now, stronger and more vigorous and he had sent Maglor many gifts already. If the elf had been free he would have been rich by now but nothing of it was really his property, it was all his owner’s things. He was just a mannequin used to show it off. Maglor had trained a lot lately and he did eat well too, and now it showed. He was more beautiful than ever before and more toned too, and Thasul had created a special look for him for the party that was to be held. Maglor had to impress everybody and through him the Sha’al wanted to show his power so the designer had used rather dark colors and wanted Maglor to be both beautiful and menacing in a way. The inhuman parts of him were to be exaggerated and Maglor agreed. He knew that Thasul knew their master well, and it would please the Sha’al a lot.

 

 

 

Maglor was to dance just once, and it wasn’t a long performance. Artemar had taught  him the steps well, and the music was something he had gotten used to as well. He knew it by heart and knew exactly when to bow and when to swirls or jump and it felt good knowing that he would do a good job. Even if it was just for his own benefit it was strangely satisfying to know that he was able to do something well. He was taking pride in his training and the others were impressed by him. He was a part of this little society now and they all trusted him and that felt good. The evening of the party there was a lot of noise coming from the outside, the followers were shown the things the Sha’al had brought from his conquered enemy and he was giving things away too.

 

 

 

Thasul prepared Maglor and the others and Maglor was to wear a set of black chiffon pants with many thin layers and each layer was embroidered with tiny gemstones in different colors. He wore a thin belt adorned with diamonds and Thasul had painted him with some dark patterns which resembled war paint. He would dance to celebrate the Sha’als victory, show how powerful he was, an invincible enemy nobody should dare to challenge. It made Maglor spit with disgust but for his own sake he wanted to make a spectacular performance indeed. They had attached white pearls in his hair and he felt that he was ready.

 

 

 

The party started early in the evening with food and female slaves dancing, there was much laughter and talk and Maglor and the others watched from behind a mosaic. Then the Sha’al had his bards sing tales of his bravery and skills and of how brilliant he was as a strategic leader of men. Artemar scoffed, the truth was that the victory had been a very simple one due to three years of drought, the enemy simply hadn’t had the strength to fight. The concubines and wives of the enemy was dragged forth and showed off. Maglor saw that they belonged to another race, these women were short and stocky and their eyes slant and almond shaped and their skin had a golden tone. Most had rather broad flat noses too and had tattooed faces, they were not beautiful the way this people saw beauty with a few exceptions. The daughters of the conquered enemy was given to the Sha’als most loyal subjects and the girls seemed to be absolutely terrified. Then the Sha’al had slaves carry huge crates with treasure forth for everybody to admire, thick carpets with lovely colors, jewelry, balls of silk and other expensive cloths. It was very obvious that the Sha’al liked to show how powerful he was and to him that was synonymous with wealth.

 

 

 

When the crates were taken away some slaves came with horses, huge lovely animals with long legs and silky manes and tails and Maglor had never seen that breed before. The horses made the crowd shout in admiration and Artemar had told Maglor of the love they held for good horses, this was probably the most impressive thing the Sha’al had acquired. Maglor did notice that these animals acted as if they never had been treated with anything but the greatest respect, they didn’t fear humans and the huge soft eyes were just curious and friendly. The Sha’al had excellent stables and these beauties would be treated as if they were made from gold.

 

 

 

Artemar had heard rumors of a special prisoner who were to be showed off and when the horses were lead away some men came with some huge cats on leashes, the crowd got a bit nervous but the huge animals appeared to be completely tame and didn’t respond to the ahhs and ooohs at all. Then Belerur entered the scene, behind him two huge guards came forth dragging a man and Maglor frowned. The man wasn’t very old, perhaps in his yearly twenties and he was slender and elegant with a strong body and long black hair adorned with shells and small bones. He had tattoos on his face and he did look a bit barbaric but Maglor saw the hatred in his eyes and knew that this was a very dangerous human being. Artemar sort of gasped. “That is the son of the leader he conquered, a renowned warrior. I wonder what sort of fate he has planned for this one?”

 

 

 

Maglor had no idea, he just stared at the man kneeling before the Sha’al, he felt the man’s rage and hatred and he just knew that this was one human being capable of changing everything. The man was chained with strong steel and he was only wearing a very dirty pair of breeches and his feet were bloody. He had been forced to walk barefoot for a long time and Maglor did pity him. But the sight also made Maglor feel nervous, almost scared and he knew that this human being was unpredictable and driven by a hatred he barely had seen ever before, it was seething in that dark stare and Artemar whispered to him. “I do not like this at all, the Sha’al is mad to bring that man in here.”

 

 

 

Maglor took a look around. “ There are many armed warriors here? He should be safe?”

 

 

 

Artemar swallowed hard. “Maybe, but look at that man my friend. He isn’t someone broken or in despair, he has a goal in mind, a purpose. He is dangerous!”

 

 

 

Now the man was dragged off, placed behind the throne the Sha’al sat on and tied to the wall, apparently the Sha’al wanted to dispose of the son of his enemy at the end of the party, to make it the grand finale. Rial and Kenar were performing now, doing acrobatics and then Artemar and Aerhan were dancing. Kherfem and Noolar did also do a dance, Noolar were dressed like a maiden and he was being thoroughly seduced by the blond lad who was wearing some sort of see through uniform. Maglor didn’t have time to become nervous, he just had to get out there as the music started and he took a deep breath and remembered what Artemar had told him.

 

 

 

All eyes were on him now, many of those assembled had been there when the Sha’al claimed him and they had waited eagerly to see him again. Maglor let the music guide him, forgot about the crowd and the Sha’al and allowed the rhythm to guide him. It was a sort of freedom, of bliss. He was transformed to something otherworldly, divine. Each move sheer elegance and each part of the dance made to show the assembled crowd the glory of the Sha’al. Maglor was lost in the dance, it was all consuming but some sort of instinct warned him of danger. He spun an extra round and saw that the prisoner had managed to get his shackled off. He had hidden some sort of thin hard string in his hair and used it to open the shackles.

 

 

 

Now the man was sneaking forth heading towards the back of the throne and he had a piece of string in his hand. Maglor realized that the prisoner was about to pounce, to simply strangle the Sha’al and for a second he did hesitate. If this man murdered the Sha’al he wouldn’t have to, but then their plans would be ruined and they would be at the mercy of the Sha’al’s sons. It is better the devil you know and Maglor reacted within the blink of an eye. He leaned forth as he swirled by  table and grasped a table knife with one hand, threw it in one movement.

 

The knife was dull and made from poor metal but it was hard enough to do what Maglor wanted of it. It flew straight and true and hit the would be assassin straight in the eye, bored itself into the man’s brain and the prisoner dropped with a loud thud. He had died instantly and Maglor just finished the dance, everybody staring with huge eyes at him and the dead assassin.

 

The Sha’al stared at the dead prisoner and he looked rather comical, his eyes looked as if they were about to pop right out of his head and as Maglor stopped he got up and made a gesture as if to summon Maglor to him. Maglor knew he had to play his cards well now, he had just saved the Sha’al and this could perhaps give him some leverage. The Sha’al shouted something which sounded rather emotional, then he grasped onto Maglor and kissed him rather eagerly in front of everybody and Maglor forced himself to be soft and pliant, not to resist but to pretend as if he enjoyed it, even though he’d rather kiss an orc!

 

It was apparent that the Sha’al had said something important for the crowd cheered and the Sha’al removed one of his rings and placed it on Maglor’s finger, then he kissed the elf once more and Maglor managed to bow and look submissive before two guards came and escorted him out. Artemar was waiting, his eyes huge and he was gaping. “Maglor? That was an impossible throw, and by every God, the Sha’al has just named you his favorite and given you the right to own your own slaves and your own property.”

 

 

 

Maglor tried to smile but he felt a bit shaky, now that the adrenaline had worn off. “Great, just what I need, slaves!”

 

 

 

Artemar hugged him. “Don’t you see? You will be able to leave the harem, just under guard but still, you will be let out of here, that opens a lot of possibilities.”

 

 

 

Maglor stared at Artemar, he could leave this golden prison? Now that was good news, the first good news in a very long time!

 

 

A dragons daughter by Nuredhel

 

Chapter 6: A dragon’s daughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maglor soon realized that he by saving the Sha’al suddenly had become someone everybody had to admire, just to show that they did worship their leader. And the Sha’al was ready to exploit Maglor to gain loyalty from his followers. Now the Sha’al would let his most loyal subjects borrow the elf as a sign of trust and brotherhood and Maglor had to perform at the first private party. He did dance for a few men in a hall far from the harem and he made sure to remember the lay out of the palace. Dancing was all that he did but he tried to make it as sensual as possible and Artemar would have been over himself with pride had he seen the performance.

 

 

 

Maglor was rather safe there, nobody would dare to harm him in any way for that would have ended with the culprit being beheaded and dishonored. The men were almost brought to tears from watching him and when he was taken back to the harem he knew that these men already would want to watch him dance again and they would want to protect him if they could. The next day some slaves showed up with gifts from the men he had danced for and Maglor was a bit shocked. It was gold and jewels enough to buy a mansion and one had even gotten him some sort of rather large long legged cat with spots and huge ears. It was tame as a housecat and very beautiful and Maglor immediately liked the animal but he didn’t like the idea of it being kept in captivity.

 

 

 

Artemar was very pleased with him and he kept learning, and now he did speak the local language and started learning some of the other important languages of the region. Aerhan taught him the alphabet too and how to write and read and he never had the time to get bored. Artemar trained with him a lot and sometimes the two would get drunk together and end up in bed and Maglor didn’t find it weird anymore. He enjoyed the attention Artemar was showering him with and the obvious love too and he started to realize that he had become very fond of Artemar in many ways. He wasn’t just his teacher and a friend anymore but something far more valuable and he feared that something would happen to Artemar all the time.

 

 

 

Then he was told by Belerur that he was allowed to leave the harem once a month, to shop. He had to go with Belerur and several guards by his side but he could get out of the palace and with the gifts he had received he was rather rich now. He was beside himself with zeal when the day approached and even if he had to wear a sort of thick veil and be covered up from head to toe it didn’t matter.

 

 

 

Belerur seemed to be in an excellent mood for in this he felt that he was given the chance to showing off his skills. He had after all bought Maglor and he liked to show off the trust the Sha’al had put in him. The city was a shock to the elf, he had been in the harem for months and he had almost forgotten the world outside of the palace but now he was reminded of the real world and it wasn’t that nice. Yes, there was freedom but he saw that this realm was based upon the strong exploiting the poor and he saw countless beggars on every corner and whores in the dark alleys. There were bright colors and the scents of spices and perfume but behind it all lay a stench of decay and it wasn’t just physical. The Sha’al corrupted his own realm and ruined it and Maglor knew that such a dictator rarely stays in power for long, but here everything was made so that he could. Maglor had been planning well, he bought fruit and candy, some nice cloth and some musical instruments too. Nothing fancy, nothing which could indicate that he really had plans regarding his future. This was things a child would want to buy and he did give the beggars quite a lot too. He knew that they soon would know him and know that he was a friend.

 

 

 

He used the day well, got used to the city and he acted like a child most of the time and allowed Belerur to show him the grandness of the Sha’al’s capital. Belerur was beaming with pride when people were staring and whispering and Maglor knew that the population knew of him, he had to use that to his benefit. He was careful never to do anything which could irritate or annoy Belerur and he was polite also towards the guards. The city itself was rather large and built around a central tower or temple which seemed to be ancient. He saw that the population did consist of several different ethnical groups and he compared the chaotic city with the cities of his youth. He remembered Tirion and Formenos and later the cities of Beleriand, and he knew one thing for sure, human cities did stink. The sewer systems were terrible if there was one at all and he couldn’t imagine how humans could live under such conditions at all. Was it just that they didn’t know better?

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t want to buy any slaves, he didn’t need that and he sought out the other markets instead. Some places they sold spices while others had handmade things and jewelry Some of it was very nice and he bought a few things, just to do something. He tried to absorb it all and learn from what he was seeing and Belerur kept speaking the whole time. The huge man was obviously in love with his own voice. When Maglor returned to the harem that day he was very tired and a bit overwhelmed but it had been a wonderful day and one he would treasure until the next time. Artemar met him and accompanied him to the bath, Maglor felt sticky all over for the thick robes he had been wearing had been very hot and he had been sweating like a pig. Artemar helped him wash and then he got massaged and put on a sort of thin long tunic he had bought. It was very nice and Artemar thought that it looked good upon him.

 

 

 

He spent the rest of the afternoon telling everybody of everything he had seen and they had a rather good time, joking and telling stories. Maglor was yet again reminded of his brothers and he missed them all, wondering if they were in the halls or if they all had ended up in the void. The thought was unbearable. He had told the others of his past, at least the main parts of it and Artemar seemed to understand why he didn’t want to talk about the details. He never pushed the elf and Maglor did appreciate this. He had gotten the habit of sleeping with Artemar now, and sometimes Rial or Kenar would join them too. It was no longer something he found odd or uncomfortable and he enjoyed the physical contact a lot.

 

 

 

Artemar sometimes had to perform for the Sha’al’s nobles and Maglor did notice something odd at times. Since Artemar was so valuable he was rarely touched in any way, only the very favorites of the Sha’al was allowed to fuck him, but he would sometimes look very tired and Maglor did notice that he sometimes coughed rather badly. It had to be all the smoking and he didn’t like it at all but the albino just made jokes and told the elf that the smoking helped calm his nerves. Aerhan and Noolar sometimes had to perform other tasks than just singing or dancing too and Maglor did notice that Noolar in special found it hard to endure these happenings. He never spoke of it but he would spend hours bathing and Maglor knew that the strange feminine man was crying a lot, on his own. Kherfem didn’t have to do such things, for some reason the Sha’al’s followers never asked to have sex with him but he too had been trained and he often claimed that his more stocky body was a turn off for these people. Rial and Kenar often had to do different sexual favors for a multitude of nobles and Maglor did see the despair in their eyes each time Belerur came to take them to a party or a meeting. Maglor was very glad he was so valuable.

 

 

 

He and Artemar started to perform together, they both were otherworldly and unique and Maglor would wear dark clothing and jewelry and the albino all white and red.  They were a stunning couple and very popular and they did dance very well together too. Artemar did teach Maglor dances that were very vigorous and yet sensual and they would add some more risqué moves too. They didn’t fuck on the dancefloor but not far from it and Maglor knew that those performances were the ones which brought them the most gifts. Artemar too got more now when he had Maglor as a partner and they both benefited from it.

 

 

 

Then one day one of the house slaves came with news, and it was important news too. The Sha’al had managed to convince the ruler of a great land to the far east of the benefits of a trading treaty, and some military co-operation too. He obviously sought to increase his influence in any way possible and now strangers from the far east showed up, more by the day. Some were ambassadors, others scholars and all were welcomed with lavish feasts. The Sha’al showed off his wealth and his possessions every time and the men of the collection were all displayed like prized pets. Maglor and Artemar were the icing on the cake so to speak, they would perform at the end of the feasts and the elf saw that many of the guest were shocked by the sight of him. His race had to be completely unknown for these humans.

 

But he did see that some of them found him tantalizing and bids were made to buy him but none managed to tempt the Sha’al into selling his most precious slave. Maglor was relieved, he was afraid that he would end up somewhere very far away indeed if one of these people got their hands on him. The slaves of the household could bring new information rather often, the Sha’al was to go to war against a realm to the north of his own and he had gotten support from the ruler in the east. Apparently the kingdom they were to attack was a pain in the ass for many of the small realms to their south and east. Then one of the guards told them that the great eastern ruler had sent one of his daughters to the Sha’al as a new queen, that would of course mean that there would be a very lavish wedding feast and soon the preparations were well on their way.

 

 

 

Maglor get worried, a new queen would mean that the power balance within the harem of women would be completely shifted and he paid some of the guards to find out as much as they could about this new bride to be. Apparently the Tha’vaal had already been thinking the same and the young woman was being showered with expensive gifts, the Sha’al’s mother wanted to buy the woman’s affection, or at least see if she could control the new bride in any way. The guards didn’t bring any sort of news for many days but then one of them sort of sauntered into the room where the harem slaves were gathered and pretended to be admiring one of the very beautiful sand paintings Demetry was making. He told them that the new queen was rather young, about sixteen but a very spoiled person extremely well aware of her own status and class. Her father was regarded as an incarnation of the dragon God and so she was almost regarded as something half divine and the guard told them that there already had been some rather nasty incidences since the cultures were so different. She wasn’t used to being treated the way women got treated in this realm and he sort of guessed that she wouldn’t last very long. She was too proud and too used to having things her way.

 

 

 

The Sha’al’s mother did send Maglor a note one evening, it was hidden in a basket of figs and the message was rather short. The bride was a potential hazard to them all, she was hungry for power, rather ruthless and she saw everybody as below herself. Maglor knew that this one spelled trouble, there had to be something they could do. Artemar was nervous too and he feared that she would see the collection as a group of potential rivals. It was not very likely that the Sha’al would rid himself of the collection but she could make life more difficult for them all for sure. Belerur was already on the lookout for a new slave to replace Suuna and one evening he came beaming with pride, dragging a young man behind him. The guy was a redhead, which was extremely rare in this realm and he had freckles and large green eyes and he was probably about fifteen years old. The youth was terrified and in a bad shape and Belerur made sure that he got fed the best food and was taken care of by Harbal. At first the boy refused to speak at all, he was so traumatized he was shaking all over if anyone tried to touch him and Maglor knew that this was one person who wouldn’t survive being abused by the Sha’al. He was simply too frail. And he was unstable, that was the most frightening thing. He didn’t care if he caused others to suffer if he could get away. He didn’t care about the death of other people if it meant that he had a chance and it was rather obvious that he had lived  a very rough life, one where your own survival was paramount and others were just tools for use.

 

 

 

The boy was named Janders and he was from one of the islands along the coast to the north of there, he had been the son of a local whore and the gods alone knew who his father had been but he had made a living as a thief, and that was rather obvious too. He was stealing like a raven and nobody could leave anything valuable out in the open. Janders didn’t understand the severity of his situation, he had a good understanding of his role, after all his mother was a prostitute but he seemed to be unable to understand the consequences of being disobedient. Before long he did look rather spectacular with the thick red mane and the sparkling green eyes, and he had a very nice shape too so Belerur had hit the bull’s eye yet again, too bad he was a rebel at heart. He didn’t try to fit in, didn’t try to bond with the others there and just kept speaking of how he was to escape. The Sha’al was too busy now to present his new toy and Belerur was a bit disappointed. He had wanted to show Janders off like he had showed off Maglor but that wasn’t to happen. It was apparent that the Sha’al had enough with Maglor, and he didn’t try to fuck his slaves any more, his mother had probably made him believe some lie about him benefitting from being celibate when it came to other men.

 

 

 

But Janders was very pretty indeed and he did have to show up at some feasts, and before long he was asked for by the Sha’al’s nobles. It was unheard of that a member of the collection was to be used by someone else before the Sha’al himself but this time their master didn’t seem to care that much. He let the new slave be borrowed by some of his most loyal men and it became a disaster. Janders tried to escape, then he managed to injure one of the men and that was it. Belerur was rather angry when he came to tell them that the red head was to be executed for his crime. The Sha’al didn’t seem to bother with it at all, he had just given the order and Belerur was pissed off because he had spent a lot of money on the young slave. The Tha’vaal tried to get someone to buy Janders but nobody wanted to, the slave had after all attacked a master and that was unacceptable. Janders was taken away early in the morning and the guards said that every bone in his body would be broken before he was burned alive. It was a horrible punishment and one that made Maglor sick to the heart.

 

 

 

Then the new queen arrived and rumors spoke of her personality and looks, even the cooks had an opinion for she demanded food that was almost impossible to come by and Artemar sort of sneered and said that she probably acted thus just to be difficult. The wedding was being held on a sacred holiday and the feast afterwards was amazing. Maglor and Artemar had to dance for the crowd so they were allowed to leave the harem and dance on the great main courtyard and they both did their very best. Artemar seemed to almost glow when he was dancing but Maglor did see that he was getting tired rather fast, it could be that he was feeling his age. Artemar had confessed that he was older than anybody there knew, he was over thirty summers and Belerur had been tricked when he bought the albino.

 

 

 

They did several dances during the night and Maglor did see the new queen, she was rather small and doll like and she was absolutely beautiful but also very vain. She wore jewelry which had to have been made from diamonds and white gold and her dress was covered with pearls. Maglor didn’t like her eyes, they were hard and showed that she was the sort of person who never is satisfied with anything, and she was complaining even now. The food wasn’t good enough, the wine was too sour, the weather was too hot. The Sha’al seemed very pleased with his new bride, after all, she brought a lot of benefits with her and quite a huge dowry too and he was staring at her the way a cat stares at a lame mouse. Maglor did not envy the girl, but he feared that her presence there could spell trouble for them all. She did stare at him and Artemar though, and the glance was calculating and something about it gave Maglor the shivers.

 

 

 

The feast lasted far into the night but he and Artemar were allowed to leave rather early and the albino was sweating and he rolled his eyes. “The Sha’al has indeed grasped a she dragon by the tail. She will most certainly cause an uproar here”

 

 

 

Maglor got rid of the make up he had been wearing and made a grimace. “No doubt about that, I didn’t like the way she looked at us.”

 

 

 

Artemar scoffed. “ No shit, I just hope she won’t demand private meetings with us, I fear what she may want from us”

 

 

 

Maglor turned his head around. “You are not suggesting that she would want us to….you know?”

 

 

 

Artemar shrugged. “Hard to tell but possible? Oh yes. She is spoiled that one, used to getting whatever she wants, I bet that includes lovers too”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “I thought she had to be a maiden to get married to the Sha’al?”

 

 

 

Artemar made a sort of whistling sound. “A maiden by name, not by shame. There are ways to fake a maidenhood Maglor and I bet that one knows them all. And the Sha’al will probably use the same method with her as with the old queen, and that makes it even easier to hide her previous activities. She will just pay the healers to swear on her innocence and that is it, she is a confirmed virgin, pure as snow”

 

 

 

Maglor felt a need to shake his head in disbelief. “She is barely more than a child damn it”

 

 

 

The albino pulled off his wide pants and massaged his ankles. “Yes, but I have heard rumors about the court of that ruler. Everything is legal as long as you don’t get caught and some of the servants in the women’s wing of the harem have told the servants here that she is very fond of riding, and they don’t mean horses”

 

 

 

Maglor made a grimace, even there inside of the harem they could hear the distant noise of the wedding feast. Shouts, laughter, screams. “I wonder if he will find out?”

 

 

 

Artemar shrugged. “Well, if he does he will most probably just lock her away, he cannot kill her, not without risking the wrath of her father but if she suddenly were to take ill? Or even better, died in childbirth? That would be acceptable, nobody would see anything odd about such a fate.”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed. “Then I do pity her after all, she has tasted freedom but now that is taken away from her, completely”

 

 

 

Artemar put on a stern expression. “Do not pity her too hard then my friend, for she is not that nice. They say she has maimed several of her chamber maidens and even killed a few, just for fun. She is a sadistic bitch that one and this place will only make her worse, heed my words”

 

 

 

Maglor could only hope that Artemar was too pessimistic. The next days were spent training and they sort of forgot about the whole wedding thing. The harem returned to normal and Rial and Kenar had discovered some new moves they were trying to implement in their performances, much to the anger of Artemar who deemed it way too risky. The chance of one of them getting injured was way too high. But they insisted and managed the moves rather well too and Maglor had to grin and think of the fact that this would have been very easy for an elf. He had seen wood elves doing jumps and leaps which seemed to defy gravity completely and this was just nothing compared with that.

 

 

 

Then the Tha’vaal sent another note and asked for a meeting, Maglor immediately suspected that something was wrong and the former queen did meet him in the garden like before. She looked as formidable as before but her eyes were hard and she had a rather bitter expression upon her face. There was just two guards following her and they were half asleep and didn’t seem to care at all, she wasn’t a valuable person so the Sha’al probably gave her the least skilled of his men. She sighed and smiled at Maglor, tilted her head. “ You do look good my friend, blessed be the fact that Belerur found you. That fat bastard is a shame to humanity but sometimes even a blind chicken can find gold.”

 

 

 

Maglor just shrugged and she made a grimace. “My son has yet again done a monumental mistake, one which may cost him everything. He is too greedy and too stupid to understand the plans of this emperor he now is in cooperation with.”

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t say anything, he just listened and she played with her rings, she wore quite a few and her eyes were distant. “He is both dumb and greedy and that is a killer combination, I fear that the emperor wants to add this realm to his own, to expand westward.”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed. “Can he do that?”

 

 

 

The Tha’vaal nodded slowly. “Yes, he is so much stronger than my son, the might of that empire is to great to comprehend for such a minor ruler as my son. He sees only wealth and power and swallows every sweet word like a child swallows honey. And behind the façade they plan on taking the power from him, gradually and discretely”

 

 

 

The elf tilted his head. “So what are we to do?”

 

 

 

She sighed deeply. “We follow the plan, there is nothing else to do”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “His sons?”

 

 

 

She made a grimace. “I have people on it, but we cannot be too hasty here, we have to move slowly like a meandering river. The problem is that girl, she has changed a lot already”

 

 

 

The elf stared at the old woman and she bit her lower lip. “How so?”

 

 

 

The former queen shrugged. “His first wife has been pushed aside completely, I have arranged for her to be removed to a sort of summer residence my son owns in a different city to the south of here. If not the new queen will  have her murdered soon enough”

 

 

 

Maglor took a deep breath” How about you? Are you in danger?”

 

 

 

She snorted. “ Well of course I am in danger, I have no doubt about that at all. She is devious that one, very smart and very determined to rule everything here within a year has passed by. I am an obstacle since my son does listen to me, it doesn’t matter that I have pretended to be the most welcoming and friendly law mother ever. “

 

 

 

Maglor had to grin. “So she isn’t buying it?”

 

 

 

The Tha’vaal made a grimace. “ Oh she is buying it, but that doesn’t matter to her, Friend or foe, she will remover every obstacle in her way. It is just the way she is, unfortunately. She wants to control my son Maglor, to be the real ruler of this realm and when the time is right she will deliver it right over to her father, like a pretty present all wrapped up”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “So when you son dies…?”

 

 

 

The Tha’vaal tilted her head, her smile was grim. “ If I manage to get rid of that horrible male spawn of his the title as Sha’al goes to whoever he deems worthy. If none is chosen by him it goes to his favorite son in law.”

 

 

 

Maglor leaned back into the couch he was sitting on. “So she won’t inherit the right to rule?”

 

 

 

She shook her head, a strange glimpse in her eyes. “No she won’t, if this was her own homeland she would, but a female ruler? Oh I bet the old fools who claims to the guardians of good moral would suffer severe strokes just from the suggestion. No, if he dies she will become a Tha’vaal like me, just a relic of a past era. She cannot remarry, she cannot leave the palace, she is a slave and when a new ruler takes over she will become a burden and he will most likely have her discretely murdered or sold.”

 

 

 

Maglor took a deep breath “ So what if she manages to fulfill her plan, what will happen then?”

 

 

 

The Tha’vaal made a wide gesture. “This realm falls under the rule of the emperor instead, they say he is wise and just but also cruel in some ways, although much less so than my son. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all, time will show”

 

 

 

Maglor realized that this was something she had been thinking about for a long time, and it had bothered her too, a lot. “So we go forth with it, and do bring his rule to an end slowly.”

 

 

 

She nodded. “ Yes, and I will be very careful from now on, she has brought her own servants and they are all too scared of her to be bought. She does also have her own customs and her own ways of doing things and I am warning you my friend, she thinks she can get away with everything. She is used to having others bow to her every wish and it is rather dangerous to deny her anything.”

 

 

 

Maglor shuddered. “ Do you think she wants to…you know?”

 

 

 

The Tha’vaal shook her head. “Have sex with you? No, you are no human, she sees you as something akin to a very exotic pet, valuable and rare. But she will try to exploit her husband’s feelings in every way possible and you are most precious to him, because he thinks you can make him immortal. She is torn Maglor, torn between the urge to use that power for her own good and the urge to get you out of the way, to weaken the Sha’al.”

 

 

 

Maglor had to swallow hard and he took a careful sip from the glass of wine he had brought with him. “So she does believe that the Sha’al gets stronger because of me?”

 

 

 

She nodded sternly. “She does, and she is extremely vain that one, she wants to live forever, to bloom forever. If you can provide her with that she will make sure that you are safe, if you can’t then you are an enemy and to be disposed of”

 

 

 

Maglor sighed. “ I will watch my back then”

 

 

 

She nodded. “And your mouth too, I will send some good servants to the harem, to taste everything you slaves are given to eat. And your cosmetics too by the way. “

 

 

 

He nodded and tried to smile. “ I am very grateful”

 

 

 

She got up and gathered her voluminous skirts around her. “I like you my friend, I will be careful too, I will not let that little minx win this one, she is going to face some real competition.”

 

 

 

Maglor felt tense, suddenly the future did look uncertain yet again and he watched as she left before he returned to the others. They were waiting and he told them what she had said and they all looked worried. Kherfem spat and crossed his arms over his chest. “If the emperor conquers this realm it will change a lot, most of it to the better for sure, but if that overtaking is done violently it will be a bloodbath. The Sha’al has good troops but they are nothing compared with those of the emperor.”

 

 

 

Maglor saw that Artemar was rather quiet, he looked as if he was in deep thoughts. “If the Sha’al dies, and his sons have died before him the one to inherit the title will be one of his law sons. They are all among his favorites, and all very powerful. But we do know very little about them, all I do know is that they are less mad than him”

 

 

 

Maglor sort of scoffed. “That doesn’t tell me much, they could still be like rabid boar, we need real information”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded, he did look a bit pale. “It is a risk to take but I do have some contacts on the outside of this place, people who owe me a favor. I could see if they can shed some light upon this problem.”

 

 

 

Aerhan shrugged. “Do that, we need to get a view of the whole situation. Is there a risk of that woman murdering her husband before we manage to do the same?”

 

 

 

Maglor shook his head. “No, that would arise suspicion. I think she wants to keep him alive, but under her control. I bet she has ways to do that too”

 

 

 

Rial and Kenar seemed to shudder and Noolar snapped his fingers. “Drugs, you can get drugs which will turn any person, even a strong will, into a sheer puppet.”

 

 

 

Maglor took a deep breath. “Well then, we will see what fate has in store for us, this has gotten me worried to be honest”

 

 

 

Artemar sat down next to him and smiled, his smile was a bit stiff. “ Me too, if the Sha’al dies we will get a new master, one perhaps better than him, and perhaps even our freedom. If he lives and the emperor usurp the throne we have no idea of what our futures will hold.”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded and let Artemar hold him close, they could be split up, or abused in worse manners than now. It was a most horrible dilemma. Not being in control of one’s fate was a cruel sensation and he could just pray that the valar were on his side, even if he had turned his back on them. Everybody were rather quiet for some days and Maglor heard a lot of rumors regarding Belerur. He was trying to find a new slave again and using all his contacts and Maglor hoped that he would fail. They didn’t need anyone new in the harem now, someone who would disturb the balance even more.

 

 

 

Maglor and Artemar had to perform at some feasts again, the Sha’al were to entertain some dignitaries from the emperors court and they seemed impressed but one of the house slaves came from a tribe to the east and he did understand some of their language. He told the other house slaves that the men from the empire saw the Sha’al as an uncivilized and brute beast, barely more than a small chieftain of a wandering tribe of pig eaters and sheep fuckers. That made Kherfem laugh out loud and Maglor started to understand that the empire to the east was a very advanced society.

 

 

 

Then the new queen started to ask for private performances and she did ask for all of them, not just Artemar and Maglor. She did enjoy the shows and she never acted as if she was hostile but she could be hiding her true intentions well. The slaves managed to get in contact with her own slaves and they soon learned that it was common with harems like this also in the east but those who were held in them had been born into it, and trained from birth. They never bought slaves from the outside since they could be loyal to their previous masters. The only exception were courtesans and other slaves who were little more than common prostitutes. But they usually stayed only for a few months before they were sold again and the emperor or his kin never sought the company of these males or females.

 

 

 

The Sha’al also showed up a few times and they had to engage in orgies again, Maglor had gotten used to it in a way and knew what it did take to make the whole thing last for only a short while, and he did his best to please the Sha’al.

 

But one day the Sha’al brought some slaves from the other parts of the harem and Maglor was aghast. These were young men who hadn’t been trained nor prepared for this and some of them were terrified. All were beautiful and taken well care of but they weren’t as special as the men of the collection and because of that they weren’t that valuable. Artemar managed to arrange it so that Maglor spent the time with Aerhan while he and the others used the slaves, he knew that Maglor would have problems touching these poor souls without revealing his repulsion.

 

 

 

The new queen obviously caused the Sha’al some problems for she wasn’t demure and passive like the females of this country at all, and he couldn’t punish her without her father finding out and seeking vengeance. It had to be very hard for the Sha’al to endure being scolded by a female, when females normally never was allowed to even speak in his presence. Maglor could have admired her courage if it hadn’t been for the simple fact that she was a very odd and twisted person. She would punish disobedient slaves in the most cruel manners and she had some perversions which were just as bad as those of her husband. The Tha’vaal barely showed herself anymore, she tried to almost disappear into the shadows and there was little she could do to influence the court the new queen had created around  herself. The house slaves kept them informed about the development and Maglor felt more and more nervous. It was rather obvious what tactics she was using to gain influence, if you drop a frog into boiling water it will leap straight out of it, but if you put it in cold water and heat it up slowly it will be sitting there until it boils to death. She was seeking to control her husband’s realm through patience, one tiny act at a time.

 

 

 

She still stared at Maglor when he and Artemar danced for her, and there was something very calculating in her eyes. The slaves told that she would keep the elf for herself and she did believe that he could ensure her eternal youth. She too did hide in the walls when the Sha’al went to watch an orgy and Maglor was afraid that she would go too far and demand that one of them touched her. Maglor got new jars of skin ointment from the Tha’vaal and this time the scent was different, not much, but he knew that they now did contain also some sort of poison. His body wouldn’t react to it at all, but that of a human would and yet it would take months before the Sha’al felt any effect of it. But it had to be that way and he just hoped that nothing would interfere with their plans.

 

 

 

Then the oldest of the Sha’al’s sons suddenly died, he choked to death while visiting a rather shady establishment in the red light district of the city. Apparently he tried to show off and eat some sort of fruit whole and it got stuck in his throat. There was of course an uproar, the Sha’al was beside himself with grief and Maglor wondered if it was the Tha’vaal or the new queen who had disposed of the heir. The prince was buried with a lot of pomp and circumstance and there was a whole week of official mourning. The city went quiet, the shops closed and people were told to stay indoors and pray for the prince. Most did obey but not because they had loved the deceased prince. One of the slaves compared him with a wild boar with a boil on its ass and they all agreed that it was a fitting comparison.

 

 

 

Maglor would often sleep with Artemar curled up next to him but some nights when he woke up the albino wasn’t there. He would return after just a little and Maglor didn’t try to question him, it was obvious that the albino didn’t want any prying regarding this. But he did smell differently and Maglor saw that he often visited Harbal and he felt a surge of nervousness each time. He did see that Artemar did smoke like before but he used different herbs in the pipe than the others and sometimes he did appear sluggish, almost half asleep. Did his friend have a drug problem? That wouldn’t be so odd, most of them did use different herbs just to stay sane and he knew that Artemar had contacts on the outside who provided them with whatever they needed. But it still gave him a foul taste in his mouth and when he laid there at night, holding Artemar close he felt a deep fear of losing yet another one dear to him. For the beautiful albino was dear to him, very much so and he had started to realize that fondness had shifted to love, very gradually.

 

 

 

It was a startling conclusion and one which rattled him to the core but he couldn’t deny it, he did love Artemar and he knew that it made him vulnerable, and weak. Artemar spent much time telling him of how the network of contacts worked, who he could trust or not, which guard could be bought and which ones who were loyal to their master and Maglor didn’t know if he liked it. But Artemar kept saying that Maglor would outlive them all and for the sake of future slaves the elf had to know everything. He was the only hope they had for a better future and if he managed to gain influence he could change a lot.

 

 

 

When he did perform for the Sha’al’s followers he always tried to discretely flirt with the ones he knew were opposing their leaders rule and the list of gifts he had received was getting longer by the day. He was very rich now but he couldn’t use that wealth as he liked. The former queen had left the city and she was forgotten, nobody spoke of her at all and Maglor knew that it was her sons who kept her alive. As long as they did protect her she was fairly safe but the new queen would probably have loved to dispose of her. Not that the old queen was a threat in any manner but she was the mother of the Sha’al’s sons and that gave her some influence through them.

 

 

 

Then the new queen started to demand that Maglor did sing to entertain her and her maidens and he did, he doubted that she understood any of the songs but she seemed to enjoy listening and he had to tell her more of his people. He was careful about what he did tell though, and he realized that she knew absolutely nothing of the elves. To her they were something completely new and Maglor did see that she was rather intelligent. She was probably very well educated and had a keen mind and now she was trying to find if this information somehow could be used to her benefit. He didn’t really know what to think about that. But the new queen did bring one new change that was very noticeable, there were feasts thrown almost every night and so the men of the collection had to perform more often than before and Maglor exploited that for all it was worth He was flirting with the patrons as much as possible and the Sha’al would lend them all out more often than before. It was rather clear that she was affecting him, making him less possessive of the collection and that made them all somewhat nervous.

 

 

 

But the feasts did make the atmosphere within the harem more festive and Maglor did notice that the new queen brought some of her maids to the feasts. They sat there behind her, ready to aid her if she needed it in any way and it was so unusual to see unveiled female faces. The queen didn’t wear a veil neither, but she wore some rather heavy make up which turned her face pale white and she painted her lips bright red and bud shaped and added thick khol around her eyes. It did look odd but it was probably the way a woman was supposed to look in her culture. The men who attended the feasts were a bit shocked by the presence of female servants and some of them acted in rather rude ways too, they didn’t see it as wrong at all since unveiled women were seen as unworthy of respect.

 

 

 

Artemar sometimes let Maglor do the dancing alone, more often than before and Maglor was pretty sure that Artemar was drugged the times he did perform, but it was very hard to discover and he never mentioned it. Maglor was afraid to hurt his lover in any way by being too inquisitive and he did fear the answer. It was a bit of a cowards way of doing things but he had so much on his mind and everything was on edge the whole time. The constant performances meant that they all were tired and the time got spent sleeping eating and being groomed. There simply wasn’t time for worries and deep conversations.

 

 

 

Then one day one of the guards who were on their pay list came by and delivered a message for Artemar, the albino read it and frowned and the others gathered around him. Maglor immediately got nervous, was this bad news? Artemar sighed and put the small note into a lamp and burned it. “Belerur is out looking for a new slave again, and he has apparently managed to find one too. Or this says that he has found a slave and an exotic curiosity of some sort”

 

 

 

Kherfem sighed and Aerhan sort of grimaced. “Well, let us hope that this is someone able to cooperate, we cannot afford another fiasco like the last one.”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “That boy was not suited for this place at all, let us hope that this new one can survive here without putting us all in harm’s way”

 

 

 

Maglor sort of stared at Artemar. “You have this information from a contact?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “ Yes, a beggar who lives by the slave market. He sees everything which happens there and reports to me if it is something worth knowing about.”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded and wondered how many contacts Artemar had managed to get in all, it had to be quite a huge group. After a little while they all went to rest and Maglor did notice that Artemar had lost some weight, he had been training and performing a lot so it wasn’t that strange and Maglor too had lost weight lately but it did make him worried again. Was something wrong? It wasn’t until the next morning that Belerur yet again entered the harem, and this time he was grinning from one ear to the other. Several guards followed him and Maglor frowned, they dragged a young and rather pale and tall man with long blond hair after them and behind him again…. Maglor took a deep breath of surprise and the others there just stared, flabbergasted. He had to blink, how in the name of Morgoth had the slavers managed to get their hands on such a creature? He could only stare as the guards dragged the unfortunate fellow forth and his heart did beat hard, now this could spell disaster, for nobody are as stubborn, strong and willed as the children of Aüle!

 

 

 

 

The bones of the earth by Nuredhel

 

Chapter 7: The bones of the earth

 

 

 

The dwarf they were dragging forth was young, which meant the he was still attractive even in the eyes of humans with proud smooth features and a strong and very toned body. He had long curly black hair and a neatly braided beard decorated with beads made from turquoise and he was struggling like a maniac against the strong ropes the guards had put on him. The other slave was indeed very tall and had a sort of ragged handsomeness to him. He had to come from the north somewhere judging by his lack of a tan and he was muscular and had a physique which had to be described as absolutely stunning. The long deep golden hair was rare and in these lands almost unheard off. Maglor saw that the guards were holding the guy as if he was drunk and the pupils were dilated and his gaze unfocused. Drugged!

 

The dwarf sneered and Belerud grinned widely, he did look very proud indeed. “I have come across these two prime specimen and I want them ready for presentation in three days. The Sha’al is holding a banquette and I want them to look perfect”

 

 

 

Maglor swore on the inside, what the heck were they thinking? Dwarves do not fit in such a place at all. The dwarf spat at one of the guards. “Rhuksul menu, let go of me you beardless goatfucker!”

 

 

 

Two of the guards grasped the ropes and dragged the dwarf towards the baths and the rest of the slaves there followed, in shocked awe. The dwarf still fought like a madman and Maglor cringed when he heard the very elaborate insults he was yelling at the guards. Dwarves have a certain nack for coming up with colorful curses and this one was a true champion. “I will pull your ballsack out like twine and braid it if you don’t take yerr hands off a me!”

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t know what to do, he had not been among those who had a lot to do with dwarves but he had learned some of their language and he knew that their culture was a very special one. Some of the slaves which groomed and bathed the men of the collection came running with tools and the dwarf sort of went ballistic, the sight of the pool obviously scared the living daylights out of him. “Metun menu caragu sigim rukhas, let go of me!»

 

 

 

Belerur sighed. “He will be tamed, worry not. Get rid of all that hair and get some proper clothes on him”

 

 

 

The slaves sort of bowed and Maglor just knew it, this spelled trouble. The dwarf was like most of his race very hairy, and the elf knew that the body hair of a dwarf is a sign of maturity and strength. Having it shaved off would be a horrible insult, almost as bad as a death sentence. The dwarf obviously understood the language for he started shrieking something hysterically and the guards tossed themselves on top of him to hold him down. A very  nervous slave with a set of scissors and a razor approached the dwarf who immediately broke into a screaming fit which probably could be heard all over the palace. He had the lungs of an ox obviously and bellowed like one too. Belerur looked annoyed. “Knock him out, we cannot present this new pet to the Sha’al looking like that, he looks like some wild thing, just hair and muscle”

 

 

 

Maglor clenched his teeth. “ Master, I beg you, don’t shave him. I know dwarves master, and …they die if they lose their beards”

 

 

 

He knew that Belerur loved being called master and he was thinking fast. The huge eunuch tilted his head. “Really? Is that true? Why would losing some hair kill them?”

 

 

 

Maglor kept his eyes on the floor. “ Because they believe that their lifeforce flows through their hair, if it is shaved they lose the will to live and just lay down and perish”

 

 

 

Belerur grunted, he looked a bit shocked but found no reason why Maglor should lie. “Well then, he cost me four hundred gold coins and a half a pound of emeralds so I cannot afford that. Wash him, and get those rags off and burn them”

 

 

 

The dwarf wore some rather nice pants made from thick fabric and they were embroidered and very pretty but he had obviously been dragged through the mud and they were ruined and his vest too looked horrible. Maglor tried to calm the dwarf down, he knew a little khuzdul and tried to remember something which could help the dwarf accept the situation. “Peace friend, don’t resist, they will hurt you if you do”

 

 

 

The dwarf turned his head and glared, the sight of an elf obviously shocked him. “What? What is a beardless tree-shagger doing in this Mahal forsaken place?”

 

 

 

Maglor didn’t mind being insulted, not now. “ I am a slave here, as are you now, please, don’t fight them. I have convinced them that your beard stays on or else you’ll die”

 

 

 

The dwarf stared at him with narrow eyes, he sort of sighed. There were many guards there and even if the dwarves are tough and strong he was overpowered and couldn’t hope to win. “Mahal’s beard, what is this place?”

 

 

 

The guards let him get up and removed the ropes but they stood close by with their hands on their swords, the dwarf glared at them, if glances could kill they would have been ashes long ago.

 

A slave came and tried to get his west off and the dwarf growled and for a moment Maglor feared that he was going to hit the poor man but he sort of shrugged and sent them a fierce glare. “Ya wanna see me without me clothes? Fine, feast yerr eyes on this!”

 

 

 

He made a twist and let his pants drop, turned around and bent over. Maglor closed his eyes, great. That was a very dwarvish way of insulting someone, showing your naked ass. For someone not used to bodyhair the sight was…unnerving to say the least and he saw that the guards were staring at the dwarf’s cock. Like most dwarves he was very stocky and that was not only in arms and legs but also when it came to genitalia. Belerur sort of gasped and Maglor felt frantic. “They only want to wash you, be not afraid, we are your friends”

 

 

 

The dwarf sneered and then he straightened himself up. “ You are slaves? What sort of slaves? You don’t seem to be able to do much work”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed hard. “We will explain, now, please, don’t hurt anyone, they will punish us too if you do”

 

 

 

The dwarf frowned, the deep green eyes got narrow. “They will? Ass licking son’s of goblins, that is all that they are. Right then”

 

 

 

He stopped resisting and the grooming slaves sent Maglor a swift glance filled with gratitude. He saw that some had dragged the tall blond man into the bath and was washing him and he acted as if he really wasn’t there. Maglor felt curious and Artemar sort of sauntered over to Belerur and caressed his arm, like a playful cat greets its owner. “He is gorgeous, where did you get him master?”

 

 

 

Belerur immediately got flattered once more and grinned. “He is from the far north they say, a warrior. I paid twice the price of the dwarf, but I bet the Sha’al will adore him. “

 

 

 

Artemar almost purred. “ Oh I am sure he will, you are most clever master. “

 

 

 

Maglor sensed trouble, the dwarf was at least someone he could communicate with , the man was so drugged he couldn’t stand on his own legs and that told Maglor he probably would fight and resist in every manner possible. Now that he was washed they saw that his back was covered with exquisite tattoos, strange patterns which looked very geometrical and yet there was a wildness to them that was very fascinating. Aerhan stared at the blonde. “He is drugged?”

 

 

 

Belerur shrugged. “ Yes, he almost killed a man, but my guards will teach him a valuable lesson if he starts to make problems. If he get’s too cranky I will have Harbal geld him, that ought to mellow him down a notch”

 

 

 

Maglor cringed, poor bastard. They would have to do all that they could to prevent that from happening. The grooming slaves had managed to get the dwarf into the water and now they were scrubbing away at him and he stood there looking like a thundercloud but he didn’t try to shake them off or resist. He was really very handsome and the exotic look surely had to have attracted many potential buyers. Most of the guards left and Belerur took one last glance at the grooming slaves. “I want them looking their best, remember that”

 

 

 

He turned around on his heel and left and the doors were shut. The men of the collection stared at each other, their eyes revealed the shock they felt. Artemar broke the silence. “Well, two new faces, what a day!”

 

 

 

Kherfem grunted and stared at the blond man. “That one is trouble, believe me. I can smell it!”

 

 

 

Demetry nodded. “ Yes, we have to keep an eye on him.”

 

 

 

Maglor saw that the dwarf was finished and the slaves came with the same type of clothes the others there wore. He scoffed and looked as if he wanted to rip the fabric into shreds but he didn’t protest when they put the tiny pair of pants on him and attached the transparent skirt to them. Maglor gestured towards the nearest couch and the dwarf followed him, mumbling curses. “ I am Maglor, what name do you go by?”

 

 

 

The dwarf frowned again. “Why do you think I would give me name to a beardless one?”

 

 

 

Maglor tried to remain calm. “Because this beardless one is trying to keep you alive and hale. That is why!”

 

 

 

The dwarf sighed, his shoulders sank. “ Right, I am Negus, of the Orocarni”

 

 

 

Maglor knew that many dwarf tribes lived in that region so he just nodded. “Well met then, please, we are your friends, you have to listen to us if you want to live”

 

 

 

Artemar stood nearby and looked a bit uncertain, then he sat down too and Negus glared at him. “Now that’s a ghost if I ever saw one, if ya get any whiter we’ll all go snow blind”

 

 

 

Artemar scoffed and Maglor tried to smile. “Do you know where you are?”

 

 

 

Negus growled. “In some rich arse fucker’s palace, I overheard them. They want me to be a play thing?”

 

 

 

Maglor sighed. “We are the collection Negus, the Sha’al’s pleasure slaves. But yes, you described him perfectly”

 

 

 

Negus let out a hiss. “I will die before I let some cocksucker stick his cock up me arse, do ya hear me?”

 

 

 

Artemar made a gesture, he did look nervous. “Well, I do not think the Sha’al will want to touch you Negus, you are…well, not human.”

 

 

 

Kherfem shrugged. “ Oh, I don’t think that will keep him away, he has probably fucked just about anything with legs, two or four and everything in between as well”

 

 

 

Noolar sort of snorted and Rial and Kenar cringed but Artemar looked a bit curt. “He has Maglor now, and he haven’t asked for any of us since he arrived right? And he thinks that he has to preserve the power Maglor gives him by not fucking other males”

 

 

 

Negus looked utterly confused. “ What? What power are you talking about?”

 

 

 

Maglor sighed. “ He thinks that he may live forever if he…ingests some of my…bodily products so to speak. That keeps him from forcing himself onto me, I wouldn’t survive that”

 

 

 

Negus blinked, his eyes large. “Bodily products?”

 

 

 

He wasn’t that good in the language after all and Kherfem grinned widely. “ Oh you know, piss, sweat, seed. He really believes it”

 

 

 

Negus started to chuckle, then he threw his head back and started to laugh out loud. “ Mahal’s golden balls, that is precious! The fucker really drinks your piss elf? Oh how well deserved!”

 

 

 

Maglor had to blush and Negus took a look at them, let his eyes wander from one to the other. “So, you are all his slaves, and there is no way out of here I recon? “

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “Not unless you are dead or are being sold, and believe me, you were expensive so that won’t happen”

 

 

 

Negus swore so bad Maglor was glad none of the others there understood khuzdul, Kherfem would probably get plenty of inspiration for new and inventive insults now. Maglor hawked. “Excuse me Negus, but how come you are here? I thought you dwarves live way up northeast?”

 

 

 

Negus sat down on a couch, his fingers were plucking at the silk of his flimsy outfit, it did look bizarre to say the least. He sighed and looked fragile for the first time since he entered the harem. “ I was trying to get some more money ya see, I am engaged and we needed more money for the bride prize. I was entertaining people in a village not far from the mountains when some donkey’s arse of a slaver managed to drug me.”

 

 

 

Maglor got interested. “You entertain people? Are you an artist of some sort?”

 

 

 

Negus sent them a very proud grin and then he straightened himself up and grasped a vase full of lilies from the table next to the couch. Maglor just gaped when the lilies suddenly started to sing, an extremely naughty bar room song of the type you never even hum if there are ladies nearby. “You are a ventriloquist?”

 

 

 

The others were gaping too, when the couch seemed to burp and make a very amorous declaration aimed at the table. Negus grinned. “ Aye, and I was making lots of money too, too bad those leather skinned orc lovers managed to drag me away.”

 

 

 

Maglor knew that dwarves had to buy their brides, or rather, pay for her. “Your fiancée is a lovely dam then I bet? Of a good family?”

 

 

 

Bridal prizes were mostly demanded from high ranking families, rarely from the commoners and Negus nodded. “ Yes, my Jarna is from a great family, with power. She is a sight to behold, with beard as soft as satin and eyes like gems and she is a handful that one, she has got fire in her.”

 

 

 

Maglor had seen few dwarrowdams  but he did know that they too had beards and that they could be very strong willed and proud. “ I am glad to hear that, were you close?”

 

 

 

Negus nodded. “My Jarna is a warrior ya see, she will come looking for me, doubt me not for I know she will! She isn’t afraid of anything!”

 

 

 

Maglor just nodded, the chances of her finding Negus were slim to say the least but dwarves are stubborn like the bones of the earth and just as easy to push aside if they have their minds set upon something. Maybe she would be able to track him but then again, how was she then to free him?  Negus sort of grunted. “These clothes are silly, and the silk is horrible.”

 

 

 

Artemar frowned. “Horrible? It is silk from the far east, the most expensive there is”

 

 

 

Negus let out a raw laughter. “ Really? Oh you dumb wits have never seen the silk woven by our dams now have you? It is way way nicer than this burlap, it is so thin you can barely see it and they know how to create colors you wouldn’t even imagine”

 

 

 

Maglor had to think hard, yes, he did remember an occasion when they said that Finrod had received a roll of cloth from the dwarves and it had been so fine they believed it had to be spider silk. “ I believe you my friend.”

 

 

 

Negus nodded sternly and then he looked miserable again. “ Do ya have anything to eat? I haven’t eaten anything in days, those Mahal damned slavers only fed me dry bread and some wine and it was so sour you could have used it to rub the rust of old steel.”

 

 

 

It was apparent that Negus was rather outspoken and Artemar waved his hand at one of the servants who ran off like a whipped horse. Negus stared at them again. “ Now I must say you are a motley gang, who are you all?”

 

 

 

Artemar started introducing  everyone and Negus nodded at Noolar,. “ We have some like you back home, we see them as female and they dress and act like it too, nothing odd or wrong about it”

 

 

 

Noolar sort of sighed and sent the dwarf a sad smile “Then your people are smarter than most humans.”

 

 

 

Negus just nodded and the servant returned with a tray with food on it. Negus stared at it with narrow eyes and opened the lid of the bowl of hot stew. He sniffed it carefully and Artemar tried to smile. “The food has been tasted, no poison, I can guarantee that”

 

 

 

Negus just shrugged. “ I am not afraid of no poison, we dwarves can survive much more than a human, but is this even edible?”

 

 

 

Maglor scoffed, he remembered what he had heard of dwarvish  cooking techniques and Negus put a knife into the stew and stared at it with an expression which said it all. “ How can anyone stay healthy on this shite, where is the meat? This is all greenery!”

 

 

 

The last word was spoken with such vehemence they all cringed. Artemar sort of showed his teeth in a very thin grin. “ I recon you are not a vegetarian then”

 

 

 

Negus scoffed. “Heck no, do you know what vegetarian means in dwarvish?”

 

 

 

Everybody shook their heads and Negus barked a short laughter. “Horrible hunter!”

 

 

 

He stared at the bread and the cheese and shrugged. “Well, at least I can eat that, but Jarna better hurry up or I will be thin enough to be carried out of here”

 

 

 

Maglor made an apologetic grin. “ I am sorry, but meat is hard to come by here, it is very costly. They use sweets instead of meat I fear”

 

 

 

Negus just sighed again and started tearing into the bread. He ate a whole cheese and two loafs and then he burped and grasped for the jar of wine. Maglor wanted to warn him for that wine was very strong and had a fierce taste but the dwarf tossed it back as if it was water and didn’t even make a grimace. He did notice the stares and grinned widely, wiping the drops out of his beard with his hand. “We dwarves make real liquor, not this thin excuse for a good drink. This is what we give our weanlings.”

 

 

 

Artemar sort of scoffed. “Oh gods, that explains a lot”

 

 

 

One of the grooming slaves came over, he looked nervous. “We placed the blonde man in a room, and I think he is sort of coming too now”

 

 

 

Artemar sighed and closed his eyes for a second. “Great, I just pray he won’t go ballistic. Aerhan, you and Maglor go with me, you ought to be strong enough to subdue him”

 

 

 

Negus scoffed. “Be careful, a handful that one for sure. He is a wild one, and too proud to break”

 

 

 

Maglor had regained all of his old strength and knew he was way stronger than any human being now, he would be able to overpower any man. Aerhan too was very strong and together they ought to be able to control the blonde. Demetry sort of tagged along, he thought he could offer the man something vaguely familiar to look upon since he too was blond. The man had been placed in the room Suuna had lived in and he laid on the bed and he groaned and looked very confused. He tried to sit up but the drug was still having its effect on him and he hissed and his eyes did roll. Artemar sat down next to him, a very bold move if the blond turned violent. “Relax, you have been drugged. Do not move, it may make you nauseous.”

 

 

 

The man groaned again and relaxed, he was almost as tall as Maglor and the elf had to admit that he was very handsome, if his facial features had been less ragged he would have looked a lot like a vanyar elf. A servant stood by the door and Artemar nodded at him. “Get a bucket, just in case”

 

 

 

When the bucket was brought over the man sort of gasped and grasped onto it, desperately before he started retching violently and loudly. But his belly was empty and he whimpered and collapsed onto the bed again. Artemar sort of hesitated for a second and then he reached out and pulled the long curtain of thick golden hair aside with a very tender move and Maglor suddenly felt an odd twinge of a rather dark emotion boil up inside. No, he wasn’t jealous? There was no reason for him to be jealous and yet he was and he hid his gaze in shame. Artemar was just trying to be kind, to protect them all. The man jerked and stared at the albino with wild eyes, he retched again and tried to pull away and Artemar whispered softly. “It is alright, we mean you no harm. We are all in the same boat here”

 

 

 

The man coughed and closed his eyes. “So…dizzy”

 

 

 

Maglor sat down on the other side of the man and the blonde stared at him with huge eyes too. “A ghost and a demon? Am I in hell then?”

 

 

 

Artemar sighed. “Yes, and no, welcome to the harem of the Sha’al”

 

 

 

The man coughed again and Maglor grasped a decanter from the table and poured some wine, gave the man the cup and he grasped it with obvious suspicion. “What are you talking about? Where am I? Who are you?”

 

 

 

His voice was a bit hysterical and pressed and Maglor saw the panic boiling underneath the calm face. “ You have been sold as a slave human, to the ruler of this realm. We are also slaves, his property. Please, calm down. If you are harmed or harm anyone we will all be punished”

 

 

 

The man took a sip of the wine, then he gasped and tossed it all back, like he had been severely dehydrated and was desperate of thirst. Also a way to subdue ornery slaves. “Gods, why me?”

 

 

 

Maglor tried to smile, the man was obviously terrified and he was shivering all over but that was likely because of the effects of the drug leaving his system. “You are very beautiful human, and the Sha’al collects beautiful men”

 

 

 

The man gasped and blinked, tried to rub his eyes but swayed. “No, oh no, not…not a place like that. I..I cannot..”

 

 

 

He tried to get up and collapsed and Maglor grasped onto him. “Do not resist human, you cannot escape this place, believe me. They will kill you if you try. Do you want a horrible death and to cause the death of others? Innocent others?`”

 

 

 

The man sobbed and made a grimace. “No, no, but…I have to get back home, I have to”

 

 

 

Artemar sat down closer and started rubbing the man’s back, soothingly and with expert technique. “And where is home my friend,  how did the scumbags get their hands on you?”

 

 

 

The man took a deep breath, he was terribly pale and there were tears in his eyes. “ I come from a small island north of the ice bay of Forochel, I worked on a ship there, as a soldier but I left to go south and find a better job”

 

 

 

He gasped again. “ I was in a harbor in Harad when they drugged me and I don’t remember much after that”

 

 

 

Artemar sighed. “You are far from Harad now, that is north and west of here, many weeks of travel. “

 

 

 

The man swallowed hard, taking the wine cup and almost crushing it. “ I have family, I have to return to them”

 

 

 

Maglor tried to smile. “That will be very hard my friend, I suggest you try to forget about them, the chances of you ever seeing them again is close to zero”

 

 

 

The human let out a small wail. “My son, and my daughter, I have to return! They won’t make it on their own!”

 

 

 

Artemar frowned. “Your wife?”

 

 

 

The man shook his head. “Died giving birth to my daughter, and her family…I fear they are dead”

 

 

 

He just stared down at his hands with a dark expression and Maglor touched his shoulder gently. “What is your name human? We are your friends and we will try to help you stay alive but you have to do what we say or else you won’t last long, and that is the sad truth”

 

 

 

The man sort of groaned. “I am Aodh, just that. My mother was a temple prostitute so nobody knows my father”

 

 

 

Artemar lifted Aodh’s chin up and smiled at him, a sad smile. “We have all lost everything Aodh, the only thing we have is ourselves and each other. Believe me, if you want to live you have to prove yourself. The sha’al may sell you if you don’t impress him, and you don’t want to end up in the brothel’s. There you’ll live for maybe a couple of weeks before you’ll die from fatigue and abuse, someone as pretty as you will be given no break at all, they will be all over you like a pack of rabid dogs the whole time”

 

 

 

Aodh cringed and made a hissing sound. “A harem, the sha’al, will he…touch me?”

 

 

 

The voice was thin and filled with dread and Artemar shook his head. “Not now no, before yes, but Maglor has sort of weaned him off us. But he will expect you to look gorgeous and probably perform in some manner too, to entertain his guest. And he does like to watch us all fuck, and sometimes he does allow his followers to…borrow us. As long as they don’t harm us they can do whatever they like with us”

 

 

 

The blonde closed his eyes and he looked as if he was in pain. “Gods, this is really hell then. Back home a man would be flogged and burned if he…if he touched another man like a man does touch a woman”

 

 

 

Artemar smiled with a sad sigh. “Does it repulse you? Here you must allow yourself to be touched and to touch in return. We will teach you, and we will be gentle too, but we cannot do anything unless you allow it. And then the masters will force you”

 

 

 

Aodh made a grimace. “Are you all…that way then?”

 

 

 

Artemar shook his head. “No, but we have learned to adjust to live. Only I and Noolar prefer males, the rest here would rather be with a woman but what choice do we have if we want to live on?”

 

 

 

Aodh groaned. “What about your honor? It is better to die than to be dishonored!”

 

 

 

Artemar shook his head. “ No it isn’t! Believe me, there is no lack of honor in doing what you have to do to stay alive. Live today, fight tomorrow. You do not want to die the way they execute slaves who rebel”

 

 

 

Aodh winced. “What do they do?”

 

 

 

Artemar made a nasty grimace. “It involves a long sharpened stake and impalement, through the rear, so believe me, the other option is not that bad.  We have good food, nice wine and everything we want of luxury”

 

 

 

Aodh moaned. “But no freedom”

 

 

 

Artemar shrugged. “No, we are property, and remember that. Do you have any sort of skill you may use to stand out? Some sort of art? Dancing perhaps?”

 

 

 

Aodh snorted. “ I was a soldier remember? I was trained for battle, not for merrymaking.”

 

 

 

Artemar cocked his head. “Are you sure that there isn’t something you know which can be used?”

 

 

 

Aodh looked uncertain. “Well, there is a custom from back home, the men used to do it to honor the gods. It is a sort of dance, but we do it with swords”

 

 

 

Artemar grinned widely, he looked eager. “A blade dance! That is brilliant, they won’t let you dance with sharp blades but I bet we can make some pretty impressive blunt ones. That ought to make you interesting enough for the Sha’al to keep”

 

 

 

Aodh groaned. “But I do not wish to be kept, I have to return home!”

 

 

 

Maglor grasped his hand. “I know my friend, but believe me, there is no way out of here , at least not for now. Things may change soon enough, but until then we have to be patient. A wise man will never engage an enemy he know he cannot defeat and right now our master is that enemy”

 

 

 

Aodh bit his lip, his eyes revealed a great deal of despair. “I cannot bare the idea of abandoning my children, they trust me to return to them!”

 

 

 

Maglor smiled, a very sad smile. “Then do pray if you have gods to pray to, there is nothing else to do now”

 

 

 

Aodh rubbed his head. “I could have escaped you know, if that fucking drug didn’t make me so weak. I feel like shite”

 

 

 

Aerhan nodded. “ Oh yes, I know that feeling. I too was drugged and dragged in here, and I almost managed to get away but what good would that have done me? They would have captured me again and the next who bought me could have been someone way worse.”

 

 

 

Aodh looked shocked. “Worse than this?”

 

 

 

Aerhan nodded slowly, there was a very dark fire burning in his gaze. “ Way worse, the Sha’al is cruel and vicious and a pervert but even he is rather likeable compared to others. I know of some islands to the east who worship the dark gods, they buy slaves and kill them in manners you cannot even imagine, to feed their deity. And one ruler to the south of here, in a city now reclaimed by the endless desert liked to buy virgins and have them raped by his dogs and donkeys. No, the Sha’al can be manipulated and we know him. Your fate could have been way worse. “

 

 

 

Aodh sighed. “I used to think that the world was so small, just the islands and the clans. I guess I was wrong”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded and a servant entered with food. Aodh almost trembled and Artemar started to help him with some food, making sure he didn’t eat too fast. Aodh did stuff himself and then he laid back, too tired to do anything more and Artemar smiled and caressed his hair. “Sleep now, tomorrow we will start your training.”

 

 

 

Aodh just yawned and Maglor petted his back before he and the albino left the room. The others were waiting outside, they looked eager and curious and at the same nervous. Kherfem crossed his arms over his chest. “Does he understand his situation now?”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded. “ He does, and he is aghast. His culture does not accept the things we do so we better start getting him acclimatized right away. I think Rial and Kenar, tomorrow by the pool”

 

 

 

The two just giggled and nodded and Noolar cringed. “ I don’t think he will understand me then”

 

 

 

Artemar caressed Noolar’s shapely behind with a smirk. “ Oh he will. He has no other choice now”

 

 

 

Maglor saw that Negus had gotten a room too, and he came walking out of the door looking half impressed and half disappointed. He approached the dwarf who made a grimace and sat down. “Your bed’s are big, big enough for a whole company but they are goddamn hard, and what the fuck is that glary thing you are wearing around your neck?”

 

 

 

Maglor looked confused and touched his neck, he wore a simple and yet elegant necklace with moonstones and emeralds one of the followers had given him. “ What do you mean?”

 

 

 

The dwarf scoffed. “ Who makes your jewelry? It is ghastly, a trainee could have made something way better back home, in fact, I have seen better pieces made by toddlers”

 

 

 

Maglor had to grin. “ It was very expensive?”

 

 

 

Negus made a gesture and Maglor removed the necklace and let the dwarf hold it. “Oh I don’t doubt that, but look at this stone, the shape is all wrong. It could have been so much lovelier if they had cut it the right way. And the silver frame it is attached to? Horrible, the work of an amateur for sure”

 

 

 

Maglor felt his mouth twitch, dwarves do live for several centuries after all, they learn their craft to a degree humans only can dream off. “Oh I know your kin has skills which surpass those of the mortals in every manner. But don’t let the Sha’al know you are an expert on jewels, he will probably make you polish and cut stones until you drop dead then”

 

 

 

Negus scoffed and studied the moonstones, he made a huge grin. “Oh look at this beauty here, it is a fake one. Not even a real moonstone. Is all your bling this horrible?”

 

 

 

Maglor had to laugh. “ Yes, in the eyes of a dwarf I would guess it is”

 

 

 

Negus shook his head. “Too bad, you should have had a real dwarven smith here, then you would have worn things worthy of your beauty. Not this crap, it is what cheap prostitutes wear!”

 

 

 

Maglor had to cringe, oh dwarves were so blunt, they didn’t exactly sugar coat their words.  He remembered the whole debacle with the Nauglamir and the silmarils and had to bite his lip. The dwarves had killed the king of the sindar back then, he didn’t underestimate a dwarf for he knew that they were stronger than one could guess and they could survive injuries which would kill all other beings.

 

Negus nodded towards the room where Aodh rested. “ Is he alright?”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded. “ Yes, for now. He has to adapt or die, like all of us. At least he isn’t going berserk right now, he is too tired.”

 

 

 

Negus nodded. “No wonder, those slavers are son’s of deranged orcs for sure. I have never met more vicious people. I should never have gone to that village, that is for sure”

 

 

 

Maglor shrugged. “We have all done things we regret doing, that we do have in common I fear. “

 

 

 

Negus blinked and yawned. “ I think I will go to bed, I feel like I have been doing battle against an ox or something like that.”

 

 

 

Maglor smiled. “Sleep well then, I hope you will find true rest”

 

 

 

The dwarf sort of grunted. “Thank you, I guess. This place is a hell hole but it is at least better than the slavers wagon, I was in a cage, a cage! Can you believe it?”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded. “ I believe you.”

 

 

 

Negus walked off and Artemar sat down where he had sat, he looked tired too. Maglor saw that there were shadows under his eyes and he appeared to be a bit less enthusiastic than usual. Maglor laid an arm around the albino and Artemar smiled and sort of sighed. “Are you alright?”

 

 

 

Maglor’s voice was a bit nervous and Artemar nodded. “ I am fine, just tired. It has been so stressful lately and now this, two we have to train and prepare. Thank every God that the Sha’al no longer wishes to fuck his new pets. I do not think Aodh would be able to submit to that, not even drugged”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded slowly, Artemar coughed a little and got up, he did look unsteady on his feet for a moment and then he just smiled and gave Maglor’s shoulder a swift squeeze. “Do not worry, soon things will calm down again, and things will go back to normal”

 

 

 

Maglor tried to smile but a feeling of dread had buried itself in his chest. Was something wrong with his lover? He sort of smelled differently and Maglor swallowed hard. “You are coughing a lot, I have noticed it? Why?”

 

 

 

For a second there was a glimpse of panic in the ruby red eyes, then the albino just shrugged and smiled. “It is summer, the air is so dry. And yes, I do smoke a lot, it is nothing to worry about silly, go to bed now. I will join you soon”

 

 

 

The last words came with a hidden promise and Maglor tried to smile, he still felt scared for some reason. He got up and went to his room, washed off and braided his hair, got ready for bed. Before long Artemar did join him and the albino immediately crawled in under the covers and went straight down to Maglor’s crotch, caressing him and then sucking him off as soon as he got hard. Maglor couldn’t help but think that this was a diversion but the pleasure soon blanked out his mind and when he did fall asleep he couldn’t even think a coherent thought. Artemar simply was too good at what he was doing.

 

 

 

Maglor did sleep well, in fact he slept like a log until he got rudely awakened by a horrible racket coming from the main hall where the pool and the common area was. It sounded as if someone was trying to torture them all making the worst noise possible and he groaned and got out of the bed. Artemar was already up and the elf staggered into the hall wearing only his own skin. He was used to that now. The source of the noise was the dwarf, he was obviously well rested and everybody stood there staring and blinking, all looked rather annoyed but also puzzled.

 

Negus had found some jars and now he was trying to join them using the hoses the slaves normally used when the pool needed to be emptied. He was banging at the jars and trying to fasten them and Maglor frowned, one of the jars were filled with what had to be moshed fruit and the smell was already strong. “ Negus, what in all the world are you doing?!”

 

 

 

The dwarf grinned, an insane spark shone in his eyes. “Showing ya all what real liquor ought to be like, not this…pissy excuse for it”

 

 

 

He struggled with the lid but managed to get the hose through a hole he had drilled in it, using just a piece of stone and a spoon. “See? I am making a still!”

 

 

 

Artemar showed up, followed by Harbal who looked slightly horrified. Maglor did notice that Artemar looked a lot better, and his eyes were shining. What was going on? Harbal cringed. “My dear dwarf, I would not recommend that sort of activity in here, the guards….they may steal your idea, but uh, is there a chance that you may tell me a little about your people and their knowledge of medicine? I am awfully curious you see and I would love to learn more”

 

 

 

Negus raised an eyebrow and grinned, the energy of the dwarf was obviously through the roof when he wasn’t working hard. He did see that Harbal was very old and in his culture old age demanded respect so he bowed his head. “ Of course, you must be the healer. I will be more than happy to tell you what I know”

 

 

 

Maglor wiped imaginary sweat off his brow and Artemar rolled his eyes in relief, a still in there? Belerur would have blown a fuse! But a still made from just those jars would have gotten very dangerous and Artemar walked over and looked a bit nervous. “That dwarf will be like a penned up dragon unless we keep him busy all the time!”

 

 

 

Maglor nodded. “Yes, we have to give him some job, a task to do”

 

 

 

Artemar made a grimace. “We have no tools, so we cannot ask him to make stuff. What about…the customs of his people?”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “What about them?”

 

 

 

Artemar gestured towards the door to Aodh’s room. “ I bet they have dances too? Perhaps we could persuade him to teach us a little?”

 

 

 

Maglor had to chuckle. “ Artemar? Are you insane? Dwarves? Dancing? Eru, I think orc’s are better dancers. He is as graceful as a drunk Oliphant”

 

 

 

Artemar sent him a rather harsh glare. “Do you by any chance have a better idea?”

 

 

 

Maglor had to regretfully admit that no, he didn’t.

 

Harbal sort of dragged the dwarf off to keep him busy and Artemar sat down and made a sigh of relief. “ Well, over to Aodh. Do you think he has slept enough?”

 

 

 

Maglor shrugged. “Maybe, he was in a bad state though so I bet he needs all the rest he can get to start with. And he cannot be used to the heat, he is from the north damn it.”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded, he gestured towards Rial and Kenar who came over and sat down by his feet. “You know what to do, so do it well. When Aodh wakes up he is to get a good meal, and some nice cool wine and then you go for it. The earlier he gets used to the idea of what this place is the better, if not the shock will be too much when he is dragged in front of the Sha’al”

 

 

 

The twins nodded and grinned and got rid of their clothing, got into the pool. Maglor saw that everybody had been awakened by the mayhem Negus had started and some slaves came to remove the contraption he had started to make. It made Maglor grin wryly, the dwarf was at least very eager to do something and he would probably turn this place upside down before long. Maybe he would bring some much needed fun and joy to the place, or at least some new ideas and thoughts.

 

 

What the queen desires... by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

The two newcomers are sure to make an impact but sometimes that may bring new dangers...

 

Chapter 8: What the queen desires….

 

 

 

Aodh had awakened, he was looking a bit disheveled and his eyes were a bit bloodshot. He had probably cried himself to sleep and Maglor felt that his heart was filled with a sort of compassion. Having to stay there when you have family waiting for you back home has to be absolutely awful. Artemar had ordered the servants to bring food and a tray with some very well made dishes were placed on the table next to where the tall human sat. The servants had brought a decanter with some nice sweet white wine too and it was cooled down. It was one of the perks of this place, the Sha’al had a wine cellar so deeply buried it stayed cold even in the worst heat of summer.

 

 

 

Aodh sighed and started to eat, Maglor could see that his hands were trembling and he just knew that the man hadn’t gotten over it yet, he probably never would. Aodh drank some wine and some fruit juice and Artemar sat down behind him on the couch and combed his hair and braided it gently. Aodh winced when he was touched by another male like that but he sort of relaxed and gave in to the albino, he probably knew that Artemar meant him no harm. The servants had done a good job grooming him the day before, the hair had been cut a bit and he had been shaved too and it was rather apparent that Aodh found that a bit disturbing.

 

They sat there just relaxing when Negus came sauntering into the room, he was grinning and made a very obscene gesture aimed at the guards, there was a dangerous spark within his eyes and he sat down next to Maglor and straightened his clothes with a dainty expression on his face. “Your healer is a wise man, worthy of respect. He knows a lot but he has no idea of how we dwarves are put together. I had to tell him everything last night, and yet he wants to know more.”

 

 

 

Maglor smiled. “Yes, he is very inquisitive that one. Now, I have a suggestion for you, I bet your people have dances and methods of entertaining each other we don’t. Could you perhaps teach us a little?”

 

 

 

Negus sort of scoffed, he rolled his eyes. “Oh Mahal, you don’t know what you are asking for now do you, but fine, I can teach you some.”

 

 

 

Maglor tilted his head. “Wonderful, what will you start with?”

 

 

 

Negus made a grimace. “I can teach you some dances, they are usually performed by females mind you, but here I don’t think that matters. In fact it will fit perfectly to this atmosphere of being fuckable”

 

 

 

Maglor had to bite his lower lip not to laugh out loud and Negus just smirked. He had accepted his situation, probably because he had some hope that his fiancée would rescue him. Aodh had finished eating and was looking a bit depressed again and Artemar caressed his shoulders gently. “Relax, don’t lose your spark. If the gods are smiling they may help you, there is yet some hope.”

 

 

 

Aodh just sighed and Artemar rolled his eyes, fine, they really had to change his state of mind and fast. He nodded towards Kenar and Rial who were sitting in the pool, both naked and without clothes on there was no way you could separate them from each other. They were like two drops of water. They started splashing water on each other, both giggling and then they tried to wrestle a bit. Both left the pool and Aodh blinked and tried to look away, to him nakedness was probably something very private and he wasn’t used to seeing others in such a state of arousal. Both twins were hard and now they started kissing and fondling each other. Aodh tried to get up but Artemar purred into his ear. “No, sit, you have to get used to this, we’ll might as well start today don’t you think?”

 

 

 

Negus was a bit flushed, he just gaped and stared and Maglor knew that dwarves are very private when it comes to showing more amorous emotions. He knew of countless elven books with erotic illustrations but none made by dwarves. They had an entirely different view on such activities. Aodh sort of heaved for air, one of the twins had knelt down in front of his brother and now he was licking the hard shaft very slowly and with cat like purring. The recipient just stood there with his eyes closed and an expression of bliss on his face. Maglor did notice that the others had arrived too, they had sort of arranged themselves into pairs and he realized that this would turn into an orgy, just to help Aodh adapt.

 

 

 

The golden haired human sat there looking tense like a bowstring and his eyes were flickering. Artemar had placed himself behind the man and embraced him gently, playing with his braid, coaxing him into surrender. “You didn’t think you could react to the sight of two males together? Worry not, nothing is wrong with you. Look at it as a survival mechanism.”

 

 

 

Aodh swallowed hard and his eyes did wander back toward the twins again. It had to be Rial who did the sucking and Kenar who stood there already trembling, he was moaning and didn’t try to hide his pleasure at all. He was close to coming but pulled his brother up and kissed him rather lavishly before he gave him a playful smack across the behind and pushed him up onto the bench Aodh and Artemar sat on. Maglor had to smirk, he had sort of understood what the two were planning on now, they had placed themselves so that Aodh could see everything, in detail! The blonde human was very tense now, and Maglor could see that his flimsy pants were severely tented already. Nobody could resist the twins, that was more than certain.

 

 

 

Artemar was whispering something to Aodh and whatever it was, it made the human gasp and then whimper, Artemar grinned slowly, a very pleased expression on his face. Kenar had found a small flask of oil and had applied a lot of it to his own cock, now he was caressing Rial’s ass with the slick liquid, inserting fingers and Rial was whimpering and rutting against his hand, being the very incarnation of carnal need. Maglor saw that the other there too were busy kissing and caressing and Aodh seemed to be more or less overwhelmed. Artemar was mumbling soothing words to him, it sounded almost hypnotic and it made Aodh tremble visibly. Maglor felt a sting of jealousy again, he remembered when Artemar gave him that sort of treatment and knew that Aodh really didn’t stand a chance.

 

 

 

Kenar had grasped Rial by his hips and Rial had lifted one leg so much that it rested upon the backrest of the low couch. It did enable Aodh to see how Kenar’s cock did slide into Rial’s body and Rial let out a wailing sound of sheer need and started moving his hips against his brother’s. The sight made Aodh gasp and Artemar had gently started to undo his clothes, the human didn’t resist at all, his eyes were transfixed upon the twins.

 

 

 

Maglor felt a surge of arousal too, he had become used to this but Negus wasn’t, that was rather certain. The dwarf was staring with huge eyes and he was sweating and mumbling curses, then he sort of shot up and rushed out of the room, heading towards the privy. Maglor had to chuckle, it was rather apparent that the dwarf had a problem he needed to take care of, on his own. They wouldn’t push him into something, it was very unlikely that Negus would have to perform any sort of sexual favors. Rial was panting and making grimaces and Kenar was groaning and holding onto his brothers for dear life and the sound of skin slapping against skin was rather loud.

 

Then Rial tensed up and closed his eyes, making a mewling sound as he started painting the backrest with thick ropes of come and Kenar too did cry out and stilled, shuddering. Maglor knew that they were exaggerating quite a bit, just to set the mood.

 

 

 

Aodh was gasping for air and his eyes were glassy, Artemar sort of slid closer and started stroking him gently and the human tossed his head back and let out a sore cry, it was rather obvious that he still had problems accepting his own feeling of lust, that he was ashamed and shocked. But his body did betray him and Artemar sort of nodded to Maglor. “Come, show me what you have learned. Do what you do so well”

 

 

 

Maglor realized that Artemar wanted to let him take care of Aodh this time, why he didn’t know but he did obey. He moved over and knelt down in front of Aodh and started using the things Artemar had taught him. Aodh sort of heaved for air, then he keened and his eyes rolled up. Maglor had never seen anyone react so vigorously to oral sex before, the man was shaking all over like a leaf in a storm and he was constantly whimpering. This had to be the very first time anyone came near his cock with lips and tongue before. It didn’t take long before Aodh came, tossing his head back and sounding like he was being murdered and Artemar just sniggered and caressed him gently. “That wasn’t so bad now was it?”

 

 

 

Aodh was still rolling his eyes and he was trembling. “ I…Nobody has ever…Oh gods!”

 

 

 

Artemar nodded to Maglor, there was determination in his eyes.” But now you know how that feels, and if you are to stay alive and stay safe you cannot try to resist. That will only get you killed.”

 

 

 

Aodh mumbled. “It feels wrong!”

 

 

 

Artemar kissed his cheek, the voice low and soft and very intense. “It isn’t Aodh, nothing of this is wrong. The fact that we are forced to do this to survive is wrong, yes; but not the act in itself. Are you ready for the next lesson?”

 

 

 

Aodh did look terrified for some reason but nodded, the others there were eagerly fucking like mad around them and the guards by the door did look as if they were close to bursting too. Normally they would have to wait outside when there was something like this going on, the Sha’al didn’t like that others enjoyed the shows he believed were put up just for his pleasure. By now Negus returned to the room, he did look very flushed and was blushing but he was calm, he had probably been wanking off rather vigorously.

 

 

 

Artemar stared preparing Aodh very gently and Maglor sat down next to him, holding his hand. “Don’t be afraid, it will hurt a little at first but you will find great pleasure whence you manage to relax. If you are to make it here I think the Sha’al wants to see you acting wantonly during the banquet, that would make him want to keep you here for sure.”

 

 

 

Negus had sat down on a small chair and he was munching at some nuts, the energy was a bit exaggerated and told everybody that he still felt a bit uncomfortable. “What that cocksucking son of a sough wants is change right? I have ideas guys, great ideas. I will transform you all, and I have no doubt that it will make you all even more interesting.”

 

 

 

Maglor saw that Artemar already was fingering Aodh who was whimpering and looking rather vulnerable but he didn’t resist. He probably understood that this was his only chance to learn. “What do you mean?”

 

 

 

Negus shrugged. “That blonde over there? I think I can add some color to his hair, and we have a long tradition of making very pretty henna tattoos. I can transform you into something very exotic to say the least.”

 

 

 

Maglor had to frown. “Hair color?”

 

 

 

Negus tilted his head. “Yes, very popular among the dams. They put stripes in their hair when there is something special to celebrate, and I know how to mix it too. And the things I need aren’t that hard to come by, I bet we can make that fat mountain get some for us. It will benefit him after all”

 

 

 

Rial and Kenar were at it again, now it was Rial doing the fucking and Maglor had to grin, he was indeed making it look almost comical. Artemar was busy with Aodh and was clearly having luck finding the man’s pleasure spot for Aodh was making some odd sounds and looked as if he didn’t believe his own feelings. Maglor sort of sighed. “We do have contacts who can get us what we need, in  exchange for jewelry and stuff”

 

 

 

Negus was rubbing his hands together, ignoring the fact that Aodh lay there next to him, now being slowly breached by Artemar who was making cooing sounds as if to calm a scared child. Maglor did feel that sting of jealousy once more and had to force it back. Artemar did this for them all, the Sha’al would still punish them if they somehow failed to please him and Aodh was pretty enough to catch the interest of his followers. Negus looked as if he was thinking hard. “Good, I will make a list then, of what I need. I can promise you that by the time of that party you will really stun everyone”

 

 

 

Maglor swallowed. “That is good, if we do well the Sha’al will be very pleased and we may get some privileges. I can sometimes leave this site but only with plenty of guards following me. He is too afraid of anything happening to me.”

 

 

 

Negus grinned widely. “Oh I bet he is, he is pretty darn desperate to think that drinking piss and sweat will help him live forever.”

 

 

 

Maglor almost told the dwarf of the plan he was involved in, but he didn’t. He knew that the Sha’al’s mother soon would get rid of his other two sons and then the ointments he would receive would be poisonous. The question was who the next ruler would be then. Aodh was clearly shocked by his own reactions to Artemar’s skills but he did react very well and Artemar did make him come. The albino smiled and gave him a swift kiss, looking pleased. “See? You can do it, and I think I have a plan for what we are to do during the feast. You have to make a really lasting impression.”

 

 

 

Aodh was barely able to speak and he just laid there, looking thoroughly debauched. Maglor almost had to grin, for a moment he did remind the elf of his brother Celegorm after a very long and tiring hunt. After a while Artemar started caressing the blonde once more and managed to get him aroused again and Rial came to ride him. By now Aodh seemed almost eager and it was apparent that his moralistic walls had crumbled completely. Maglor followed Negus into one of the side rooms where the dwarf did dictate a rather long list, Maglor had a hard time believing that they could get it all but Negus insisted that it wasn’t that hard to come by. Maglor managed to get the note to one of the servants who promised to deliver it to the right persons outside of the palace and now they could just wait and see.

 

 

 

Everybody rested during the midday heat, then Negus gathered Artemar and Demetry and Maglor, he did look very important and eager and he stood there with his hands on his hips and his chin up. “Listen, if you are to dance like us dwarves you have to get rid of those idiotic clothes. You look like you have been trapped in a tornado, carrying the remains of a clothes factory. “

 

 

 

Artemar did grin and Demetry raised an eyebrow, he was probably ready to do whatever it took to please the dwarf. Something new was always a good thing, it kept the interest up. Negus ripped off the skirts and tilted his head. “Loincloths, that would be perfect for this, weighed down a bit with gems. Yes, and henna tattoos, lots of them, in different colors. You will look amazing”

 

 

 

Maglor had to chuckle. “You better be careful, we have a slave here responsible for our looks and he will be very disappointed and mad even if you step on his toes.”

 

 

 

Negus just shrugged. “If he is any good he will understand, and maybe learn something too. If you are to achieve something you have to present the audience with something different every now and then. “

 

 

 

He straightened up. “Now, watch what I am doing, this is the sort of moves used when we dance at weddings”

 

 

 

Negus took a few steps forth and started moving and Maglor had to stare, he had never thought that dwarves could be graceful but Negus was very elegant, and the moves rather odd. There didn’t seem to be any rhythm to it at all and yet there were and he had such a dynamic power showing in each move. This did show off the strength of the dancer, much more than the dances they previously had been taught. Before long they were trying to mimic the dwarf and Negus was humming with satisfaction. “Good, excellent, smaller steps Artemar, and you Maglor, use that elven agility now, bow deeper”

 

Maglor was sweating and following instructions and Demetry almost lost his balance several times but managed to stay upright. Negus demonstrated that the male dwarves often mixed some pieces of martial arts into the dance and that they used each other as spring boards and made leaps and tosses nobody would be able to do on their own.

 

 

 

By the afternoon everybody was rather good at this peculiar style and Negus was starting to teach them the dances of the females. It was way more risqué and much more sensual and Negus sort of transformed the dance into something way more sexy than the dancing the female dwarves would do. He had understood what they needed and the dancers were eagerly learning. Some of the moves were very erotic indeed and when several were dancing together it became a show of sheer seduction and Negus kept changing the steps all the time to make the maximum impact.

 

 

 

He wasn’t satisfied before it was very late and by then they were exhausted. Aodh then came to demonstrate his dancing and they had one of the servants beat a drum for rhythm. Aodh was given two pieces of wood instead of blades and he sort of showed his discomfort but started moving. After just a little he sort of relaxed and started to really show off and Maglor did find the dancing impressive. If it had been real blades it would have been spectacular and he sort of started planning for maybe adding some suspense to the dance, by maybe joining the human.

 

 

 

Artemar did clap and proclaim that it would look good, and he promised that he would make Belerur find some blunt blades he could use. Two sticks sort of looked silly considering the nature of the dance. They were almost ready to go to bed when a servant entered, carrying a huge basket. On top there were figs but hidden underneath was several packets and Negus was chuckling like a madman, proclaiming that here he had everything he needed. He told everybody to get up early so he could prepare them and Maglor felt both a sense of anticipation and dread when he found his bed. Artemar came to him to sleep with him as he usually did and they fell asleep with their arms around each other. Maglor wondered if he ever was going to be brave enough to confess his feelings, he sort of wanted to, but then again, telling anybody of such strong emotions as love can be dangerous in such places.

 

 

 

The next morning they did awake to yet another racket, Negus obviously needed little sleep so he had transformed a corner of the main hall to a sort of gallery. He had gotten hold of a lot of discarded clothing and had torn it all into shreds and sewn beads onto some of it, he had mixed some horribly smelling concoctions and now he sat there with Thasul who looked extremely interested. The dwarf was drawing some sort of hair styles and the man was asking questions all the time. Negus grinned from one ear to the other, waving his hands.

 

“Wonderful, everybody, get out there. I am ready to start. The party is tonight so we better hurry”

 

 

 

Everybody looked at the mess with some worry but came forth and Negus immediately went to work with an energy that was close to shocking. He grasped Demetry and sat him down in a chair, started adding some goo to his hair. “So, sit with this for half an hour, it will give you some nice tones of red and orange.”

 

 

 

Then he attacked Aodh and added some other color to the tips of his braid and he also added color to Noolar’s hair. Aerhan and Kherfem was left alone but they had to endure getting very intricate drawings being made on their skin with a sort of thin blue paste. Then Negus sort of went berserk with other colors on Maglor and Aodh. Demetry too got painted and then the dwarf went to work with Artemar. He used black color and the result was in fact a bit terrifying since Artemar was so pale. The patterns were aggressive and very geometric and yet there was a sort of ancient beauty to them. Maglor’s patterns were clearly elven and he realized that Negus probably knew a lot about elves even when he didn’t reveal it to anyone. Thasul was paying close attention the whole time, even making notes and Negus was telling how the paste was made and mixed and how much one would need. The paste had to stay on for an hour before it was washed off and they spent that time eating some.

 

 

 

Negus had found the jewelry they used during shows and he had done things to it nobody could have expected. Maglor knew that the dwarves had a unique sense of beauty and that they had a gift of seeing the optimal way of displaying gems but this was beyond his wildest expectations. Negus had no instruments but he had still managed to turn the things into something very new and different and the elf realized that the entertainment this evening would be one the followers and the Sha’al never would forget. It made him feel a bit more enthusiastic right away, and the others too appeared to be looking forward to the evening. Negus then let them wash off, the colors were visible now and he went to work on their hair and made new hair styles which looked amazing. Aerhan never took the braids out of his hair but now Negus sort of used them to build a structure around the man’s face and it made him look very barbaric and ferocious, almost lion like.

 

 

 

Demetry had now stripes of bloodred and orange and they too were integrated into an intricate weave of thin braids which made it look as if the blonde lad’s hair was on fire. The loincloth’s Negus had made did perfect the look and Thasul did look very impressed. He helped out getting everybody ready and Maglor was put into a black piece of fabric and he had red markings. Negus just pulled his hair back into a high ponytail and then he made some thin braids and added beads to them. With makeup and some jewelry Maglor had to admit that he did look very different. Now there was a hint of danger in his looks, a sort of warning. Negus tilted his head. “That son of a mangy jackal wants to dominate yes, to be seen as strong and vigorous? You have looked like sissies, now you look  like warriors and that will boost his ego, to your benefit yes?”

 

 

 

Thasul was beside himself. “Yes, oh yes, he will feel mighty and powerful and more of the followers will want you”

 

 

 

Negus grinned. “I have to prepare as well, I have just the perfect performance for such a “fine gentleman”. A good thing nobody here knows anything about dwarves.”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned and Negus raised an eyebrown, there was a dark sparkle in his eyes again. “I have learned a few things ya see, humans are fascinated by things that are either beautiful or horrible. I have seen them flock around tents with some poor malformed kids in, or around people with injuries. So I intend to play my cards and play them well!”

 

 

 

He nodded and took off to the pool where he started undoing his braids and pulled the beads out of his beard. Artemar did look a bit in doubt. “What are you doing?”

 

 

 

Negus got his hair wet and sort of finger combed his hair until it looked like a stack of hay. Then he did the same with his beard and smeared some color onto his skin, here and there. “Making myself look like a wild beast, I intend to shock them. If they think dwarves are dangerous and unpredictable beasts who have no culture they won’t bother with seeking us out now will they? They will stay clear of our territories”

 

 

 

Maglor had to agree, it was smart. Negus soon looked like a wild thing indeed and he stripped down and pulled on a very simple loincloth which he sort of tore a bit. He also put a roll of gauze into the front of the garment, making his already impressive bulge look even more so. He had taken a piece of leather and formed it into a collar with some studs on it and it had a leash. Negus stared at Maglor. “Now, I want you to present me, and I will act up, be warned, Act as if you just barely are able to hold me back.”

 

 

 

Kherfem scoffed. “Just don’t insult them too bad, they may want your head”

 

 

 

Negus sent the short man a wicked glance. “Don’t worry, they won’t understand a word I am saying, but you my friend, you may follow us and Maglor will tell you what I am saying so you can translate. They will love it!”

 

 

 

Kherfem did smile, he did appreciate the idea of learning some inventive new insults.

 

Aodh did look nervous, he was to dance and Belerur had in fact managed to get two swords with blunted edges. They did look lovely though and Maglor could see that Aodh was very pleased with them. He did look handsome but barbaric with the paint, his tattoos and the odd clothing and Maglor was looking forward to the dance he and Artemar and Demetry was to perform too. It would create quite an uproar for sure.

 

 

 

Belerur came, looking very flustered, apparently the Sha’al had a sort of announcement to make and Artemar did grind his teeth together. “Don’t say it is what I think it is”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “What?”

 

 

 

Artemar crossed his arms in front of his chest. “The new queen, I bet she is with child, or at least claims to be with child. He has lost his oldest son right? He wants more, just to be sure”

 

 

 

Maglor sort of groaned. “Then his mother better hurry getting rid of the other two”

 

 

 

Artemar leaned towards him, whispering. “The rumors among the house slaves here suggest that their days are numbered indeed.”

 

 

 

He didn’t say anything more and Maglor grimaced. That the king had a new queen and that the Tha’vaal sort of had to step back was a disadvantage but it wouldn’t stop them. It would only slow them down. Thasul added the final touches to their makeup and they were ready. They ate some and relaxed and Aodh did tremble a bit but Artemar calmed him down with soothing caresses and soft words. Maglor didn’t doubt that the human would be popular, he was very unusual because of his hair and height and Negus was right, the added masculinity would make them even more attractive to these people.

 

 

 

Belerur came after a couple of hours and Aerhan followed him, he was to do some juggling to warm people up. Then they would present Negus and Belerur did look so self satisfied Maglor felt an intense need to strangle the human. Negus was preparing himself, swearing in khuzdul and jumping up and down, boosting his energy. By the time Belerur returned he did indeed look wild with wide eyes and sweat flowing off him. Maglor did take the leash and Negus started making some growling sounds. Maglor knew that some dwarves have the ability to quite literally go berserk during battle, Negus was setting himself into such a state and he was tugging at the leash and flexing his muscles.

 

 

 

The hall was filled with people as usual, the Sha’al sat in his throne at the top of the room and he did look very bored. The banquette was obviously held in honor of one of his most powerful followers for the man was being showered with attention and gifts but the Sha’al did look rather indifferent. There was a lot of silent chatting going on though, the Sha’al had made an announcement and it was as Artemar had feared. The new queen was with child and the Sha’al was convinced that it would be a son.

 

 

 

 Everybody stared as Maglor entered tugging the dwarf after him. Negus did bare his teeth, cursing and spitting and Maglor had to pretend as if he was holding onto the leash for dear life. Belerur did look almost ecstatic, this was really bringing glory to his name, and not the least to his pouch. Everybody just glared and the Sha’al looked as if his eyes were about to pop out of his skull. The new queen sat by his side and she too did look fascinated and Negus snarled and tried to look as if he was ready to attack anybody who dared to get any nearer. Kherfem followed them and Maglor whispered the translations to the man who gesticulated and tried to sound shocked. “This beast knows not that you are noble men, he is calling you all ass licking sons of crippled boars”

 

 

 

The men gathered gasped and then some laughed, this was in their eyes no more than an animal, and they didn’t find it offensive at all. The thing just didn’t know any better and Negus really did dig into the very bottom of his reserve of exquisite insults. Kherfem did look shocked a few times and Maglor struggled to control the dwarf who also used his other talent, He pretended to be farting and belching shamelessly, he scratched his crotch without any sense of propriety and even tried to show them his ass. Maglor had to really fight to stop him. The Sha’al did look very fascinated indeed, he was leaning forwards and his eyes were shining. This he wasn’t used to at all. It was new and exciting and he was smiling,

 

 

 

When Maglor hauled Negus out of the room he knew that the dwarf had shocked them all but also intrigued them a lot. The next round of entertainment was the dance and Maglor felt rather confident, he and the two others were ready and the slave who was responsible for the music entered and sat down on his designated place, starting the music. Artemar entered first, he made the others there gasp since he did look very different from normal. The black paint made him look otherworldly and dangerous and when Maglor and Demetry joined him everybody was quiet, just watching. The dance was vigorous and required a lot of strength and Maglor had to focus the whole time. Everybody was clapping and cheering and then they changed into the more feminine dance and Maglor did see that the dance did arouse the Sha’al. They did their best to look seductive and they finished with Artemar actually taking Demetry right in the middle of the floor.

 

 

 

The mood was set and Aodh was next, Belerur sort of described the new slave with almost lyrical descriptions of his strength and beauty and Maglor had to snicker, he had heard horses being praised the same way. Aodh entered and he did look almost royal, he let the nervousness present itself as pride, not as fear and he started dancing right away. It did look amazing and he was really good at it but Maglor did notice something which gradually made him very worried. The new queen was staring at the blonde man with a look in her eyes which couldn’t be misinterpreted. The elf swore to himself, if she was interested in Aodh things could turn nasty. As a slave he had no right to shun her advances and if the Sha’al did find out Aodh didn’t stand a chance. Something had to be done.

 

 

 

Aodh finished the dance and there was loud applause, the Sha’al did look very pleased and he did clap too. Aodh had in fact managed to throw some very seductive glances at the huge man and it was clear that the Sha’al did believe that Aodh did find him very attractive.

 

Now they all were to dance and Rial and Kenar joined them too, Maglor sort of managed to get a hold of Aodh, whispering to him. “The queen, she fancies you, beware”

 

 

 

Aodh made a grimace as he did a turn and Maglor grasped his braid and kissed him, it did look like play but Maglor knew that the queen may get less attracted if she thought Aodh was gay. Aodh gasped and whispered back. “ I saw that yes, she is dangerous”

 

 

 

They danced for a while, making it look even more spectacular than normally and when they finished the atmosphere within the hall was relaxed and the party goers drinking and making jokes. Belerur escorted the slaves back to the main hall and he was humming very loudly, he did look like a cat who has caught a fat lame mouse and Negus had an infernal glimpse within his eyes. He was staring at the huge eunuch with such hatred that Maglor had to sort of make him change his focus. “What is wrong with you? Relax!”

 

 

 

Negus just squirmed, he was growling slightly. “The bastard wanted to shave me right? Oh I’ll see who’s laughing tomorrow”

 

 

 

Maglor frowned. “Negus, what did you do?”

 

 

 

The dwarf stared at his fingernails, whistling lightly. “Nothing, I just got one of the house slaves to put a little something into Belerur’s bath. “

 

 

 

Maglor made huge eyes. “Negus! That can be dangerous!”

 

 

 

The dwarf shook his head. “No it won’t. He will not understand anything, trust me. I know a lot elf, don’t underestimate the khazad”

 

 

 

Maglor just raised his hands. “Peace Negus, I would never do that, but remember, Belerur has a lot of power here, it is unwise to piss him off. We all do whatever we can to lick his butt and keep him thinking he is in charge”

 

 

 

Negus scoffed. “ Aye, he is a bloody idiot now isn’t he. I think they removed his wits with his ballsack”

 

 

 

Maglor had to grin and they all gathered by the pool. Food was prepared for them and the mood was a good one but he was still worried about Aodh. The new queen could become a problem, rather fast. Artemar sat down next to him, his eyes were glazed and he did look very tired, Maglor immediately forgot about Aodh and got worried about his lover yet again. He couldn’t help but thinking that Artemar did hide something. There was drinking and eating, some sang and Rial and Kenar did some acrobatics and ended up in the pool and Artemar was amorous and before long Maglor was in a state of mixed arousal and fatigue. He was feeling dizzy and relaxed and Artemar was giving him head very slowly. It felt divine and he just laid there, watching as Negus tried to teach Kherfem some dance steps. It did look funny since Negus was a bit drunk too now and was stumbling and for a brief second Maglor had a feeling of seeing someone else there, a more slender elegant figure with golden hair. He blinked and then it was Negus again and the elf tried to think clearly again. Had it been a vision of some sort?

 

 

 

He knew that Negus believed he would get out of there and maybe he would, but that would require that serious changes did happen and Maglor did feel a short sting of fear. He just knew it, there was darkness awaiting them all. He tried to break out of his dizzy state but couldn’t, he just laid there and soon the pleasure overwhelmed him and he could think no more. Everybody was glad it was over,  that the evening had gone well and Maglor did fall asleep in a heap of warm bodies, barely remembering who he had taken and who had taken him.

 

 

 

When they woke up the next morning it was to a palace which was tossed into an uproar. Belerur had woke up and discovered that his skin had turned slightly green overnight. He was convinced that he would die so he did lock himself up in his room with Harbal. Maglor had to grin, Negus had indeed managed to get a fine vengeance. Then later in the morning news did arrive that the Sha’al’s two younger sons had perished, it had been a very nasty accident out in the desert which included one of the wind driven small carriages so many young men favored these days. Apparently the speed had been great and they had lost control, a wheel had exploded and they had been tossed into a cliff.

 

 

 

The palace went into mourning, no parties for a while, no banquettes and no performances. Everybody pretended to be grieving but in truth nobody was anything but relieved. Now there was only the Sha’al left to get rid of, and his queen of course. But the question was who his heir would be? Would they go from the ashes and into the very fire itself? Maglor didn’t know. The jars of salve from the Sha’al’s mother did still show up and now Maglor did smell that they were different indeed, they were stronger than before, contained more poison.  Before long the Sha’al would feel the effect and Maglor just hoped that this wasn’t a bad idea.

 

While the palace was in mourning something new did show up, they heard of the news through one of the Tha’vaal’s loyal servants and Maglor almost didn’t believe it when he heard it. Apparently one of the Sha’al’s followers had developed a serious crush on the queen and was plotting against the Sha’al and as of yet the ruler was ignorant of this. Aodh had received some very expensive gifts but nothing more than that and Maglor knew that the woman was forced to remain very discrete for as long as the mourning period lasted.

 

There were more and more people arriving form her father’s realm, merchants and diplomats and noblemen curious about this realm and Maglor had to admire the obvious plan behind it all.

 

 

 

The queens father was slowly sinking his claws into the very power structure of this land, when he finally came to claim it the war would be just a formality. There would be nobody there really wanting to fight. Negus had too much energy and Thasul had managed to convince the noble man responsible for maintaining the palace that the dwarf ought to be allowed to fix the roof of the main hall. The tiles of the mosaic covering it had started to fade and some had fallen out and for a couple of weeks Negus was happily working away at the roof. The result was very pretty but very obscene since the dwarf had chosen to make a mosaic picture of Artemar and Maglor in a very intimate setting and even Belerur blushed seeing it but it was a true work of art.

 

 

 

Now rumors claimed that the Sha’al didn’t feel so good, and Maglor knew that his mother’s plan was working. It wasn’t serious yet, just some slight discomfort and his healers had assured the man that it was just the season interfering with his health. These people were firm believers in astrology and apparently there were some stars visible which could cause some discomfort for people born in early spring. Maglor had to laugh hearing that, and Negus snickered and thought that the Sha’al was incredibly stupid. But the man hadn’t become less perverted since the loss of his sons, now he would visit rather often and they had to be alert and ready to start an orgy with very little ahead warning.

 

 They also said that he had become obsessed with watching people being killed very slowly and a guard confessed to having watched the Sha’al punish a disobedient officer by having him slowly strangled while the other officers fucked him. It made everybody cringe and Maglor just knew it, something would have to happen soon, before they once again became playthings he would abuse.

 

 

 

Then one day the follower with the crush on the queen did his move, he tried to break into the harem to kidnap her and  he was almost succeeding too. He and his warriors made it as far as the concubine’s area of the harem and there they were cut down by the harem guards. They did kill many but at the end only the noble man was left and he was executed by impalement on the city square the next day. This made the Sha’al very paranoid and now few were allowed to enter or leave the palace, even his most trusted servants were ransacked and to the slaves of the collection this was grave news. They couldn’t contact their supporters on the outside and now the Sha’al started to let his followers borrow them again, and he was less careful about who he allowed to touch them and how.

 

 

 

Maglor had to suck off a smelly half old man with lacking teeth and Artemar was borrowed out to some men who fucked him rather brutally. He was a mess when he returned and Maglor had started to feel fear again, lots of it. Things had to change soon, or else he feared for their safety. The Sha’al appeared to be losing his mind and rumors flew claiming that he was going insane, that he was losing his grip on reality. These days the whole collection would gather at night, sleeping on matrasses in the great hall, finding comfort in the closeness of their friends. Even Belerur was worried and the palace had become a very somber place now, a place where paranoia grew.

 

 The Sha’al had some followers executed for having been too outspoken and nobody was safe anymore. That became very apparent when he had some of his concubines drowned in wine jars for having talked to a guard. If nothing was done soon this could end in a disaster and Maglor had a sense of mounting dread and it grew everyday. His foster son Elrond had the gift of foresight, he had naught of that but now he started to feel that his assumption could be wrong. Something would happen, he just knew it, something disastrous.

The only certain thing in life... by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

Aodh and Aerhan has to participate in a party with potentially disastrous results, and someone leaves this world. Maglor discover a heart wrenching truth, will he be able to cope with this?

This chapter has a tissue warning.

 

 

Chapter 9: The only certain thing in life…

 

 

The life within the harem was getting rather tense now, the mourning period was soon over and the Sha’al was planning on several banquets and parties, to make up for wasted time. It didn’t appear as he was missing his sons overly much, since the queen apparently was with child he was probably certain that he would produce new heirs soon enough. Maglor and the others were training vigorously, just to stay focused and keep their minds occupied. Negus was as always a ball of sheer energy and Harbal had managed to manipulate Belerur into letting the dwarf organize the purchase of new cloth and jewelry. Negus found the task very rewarding and soon the entire harem was transformed, new colors and furniture and new clothes which gave them all a whole new look.

 

This in turn did bring some unwanted side effects, since the Sha’al now didn’t mind letting others borrow his toys except from Maglor they all had to go to entertain his followers rather often. The good thing was that they got a lot of gifts but the bad things were the things they had to do to achieve this. Some of the followers were nice, they just wanted a dance, or a pleasant conversation. Some wanted sex but of the more gentle sort and they could be both loving and affectionate but then they had the other type, the type who loved to dominate and hurt. Some were as sick as the Sha’al himself and Maglor had to sit one entire evening with a weeping Demetry in his arms, the young man had been forced to watch as the man who borrowed him brutally raped several very young girls and boys and Demetry had to dance the whole time, watching the horrible scenes. At the end he had to suck off the monster and Maglor just knew that the perversions which were brewing within this court only would grow now. The Sha’al was losing his grip, that was the nasty truth behind it.

 

One evening Aodh and Aerhan was called to a party thrown by the queen, they were to dance and Maglor did feel a twinge of worry right away. But he could do naught but sit there, hoping for the best and the sense of being utterly helpless had grown in him lately, until it became almost an obsession. If he really was to make a difference it had to happen soon! He would end the sha’al’s the prophecy had said, how? He still got groomed by the sha’als slaves every morning, they collected his sweat and urine and he used the ointments the Tha’vaal had given him but did it have any effect at all? He was starting to doubt it all and  Artemar had a hard time cheering him up. The only one keeping an optimistic attitude was Negus, the dwarf was high and low and his artistic ideas seemed to be without boundaries. He had made a sort of suit made from beads threaded on very thin line and Maglor had to wear it while he was dancing, in the dark it looked as if his body was made up from tiny shimmering stars and it was absolutely stunning but very uncomfortable. It squeezed his cock and crept up into his ass crack but otherwise from that the effect left everybody in awe.

 

Negus even added some new elements to the shows, he had a very wide knowledge of cultures and one thing he did manage to get his hands on was some odd shoes which made the one who wore them look almost ridiculously tall, and clumsy! They were heavy as fuck and very uncomfortable but apparently courtesans of the very far east wore them and Negus had Demetry put into a sort of very tight kimono and painted white all over. The odd make up with small red lips and kohl around the eyes sent some of the emissaries from the emperor into a frenzy, Maglor was sure at least one of them came just watching Demetry staggering around in a very helpless manner. He did come up with other odd additions too, leather harnesses and riding crops, he added some very comical scenes to the shows, made them sing some very rude drinking songs he had Kherfem translate and Maglor knew that Negus perhaps was the one who could make it there, because he had hope of getting out.

Aodh and Aerhan returned from the party the day after and both were very shaken and in obvious distress. Artemar had them both sit down and tell them of the party and Aerhan shivered and swallowed a glass of wine rather fast. “It was not too bad, at first. We danced and it was normal, we followed the routine we usually use.”

 

Aodh looked very tired and he was a bit pale. “Yes, the queen sat behind a screen but her maids were uncovered, and very drunk. I never thought women could be that rude”

 

Maglor had to grin, women who felt that they were safe could be just as foul mouthed as men. Aerhan continued. “We danced for a while and there was a lot of drinking going on, we were given some wine and then…”

 

Aodh swallowed hard. “They had drugged the wine for sure, for suddenly…I cannot even describe the feeling, it was like fire in my blood, I have never craved to be touched more.”

 

Aerhan nodded and he did look a bit scared. “It made us both so horny we couldn’t even think, and a couple of the ladies in waiting entered the floor, buck naked.”

 

Artemar looked as if he was very tired, not shocked at all. “You fucked them”

 

Aerhan nodded, he did look very ashamed. “Yes, both, we even switched. And then..I…”

 

Aodh looked as if he was ready to cry. “It was insane, like we couldn’t get enough, couldn’t find any satisfaction even if we did come. It is a haze now but I think we did do all those maids. “

 

Artemar frowned. “While the queen watched?”

 

Aerhan nodded. “Yes, she was behind the screen, the whole time. I heard someone move there and heard voices. Oh Gods, it was like I had no control over my own body, I just needed to fuck! It felt as if I would die if I didn’t”

 

Artemar sighed. “They are skilled in the use of drugs then, it was probably a mix of several substances. Were they hand maidens or noble ladies?”

 

Aodh made a grimace. “Hard to tell, only a couple wore a slave chain, most were the queens ladies in waiting I guess, at least of high birth if not noble women. But they all were willing, and eager.”

 

Artemar smiled, a devious grin. “They had been given the same drug for sure, the queen have a grip on them now, she know they allowed two slaves to fuck them. If she tell their families they will be disowned, or worse.”

 

Aerhan swallowed hard. “ I suspected something like that. Some of them could hardly wait to get a cock in them, and by the Gods, I think a few of them were virgins.”

 

Aodh nodded. “I know at least one of the women I took was untouched, she was screaming like mad but didn’t allow me to stop. It was a nightmare!”

 

Aerhan looked at Artemar and his eyes were even darker than normal. “ I didn’t want it Artemar, I didn’t want it at all. But I had no choice!”

 

Artemar smiled and caressed his cheek. “You were abused, that is the truth. Don’t feel guilty, you just did what you had to do.”

 

Aerhan sort of sobbed. “I am sore, can you believe it? My cock feels as if it has been skinned and my stones ache like crazy, I have no idea of how many times I did come, it hurt horribly at the end and yet I couldn’t stop it”

 

Aodh made a grimace. “Likewise, and in the end some new females did join the party, just three but I think they were someone of importance, their skin was softer and they had more expensive jewelry”

 

Artemar tensed up. “Were the others there then?”

 

Aodh shook his head. “No, they left and then these three entered. We had to do them too, we both did.”

 

Artemar was silent for a moment and Maglor saw a glimpse of pure horror in his eyes. “Was there anything special about these three, other than the obvious status?”

 

The two stared at each other, blinking. “No, or…yes, they had a small tattoo, on the inside of their right thigh.”

 

Artemar sighed, closed his eyes and Maglor just stared at him, confused and worried. “What?”

 

Artemar seemed to shrink a bit, his shoulders slumped forwards and he swore. “She wanted Aodh now didn’t she, so she found a way to get him.”

 

Aodh stared, eyes getting huge. “No? you cannot be serious, it wasn’t?”

 

Artemar shrugged. “It was, she pretended to be one of her own courtiers, it is a common trick among the royals of that realm. Nobody will bother to assassinate a mere hand maiden. It was one of her slaves sitting behind the screen.”

 

Aerhan let out a gasp. “Oh may the Gods protect us, did we…we did fuck the queen?!”

 

Artemar nodded. “Oh yes, did you please her?”

 

Aerhan wetted his lips. “Uh, oh I don’t remember, it was all a blur. But I know I made all three come.”

 

Aodh nodded too, looking horrified. “Me too, one of the even squirted at me, I was wet up to my chest.”

 

Artemar sent them a somewhat sardonic grin. “ Good, at least you did what she brought you there to do. To satisfy her. She will be pleased then, and ask for you again”

 

Aerhan moaned. “Oh no! If he find out…”

 

Artemar shivered slightly. “If he find out about this we all will be in mortal danger, he will have the whole bunch of us tortured and killed beyond any doubt”

 

Maglor felt ice cold, felt how horror crept up along his spine and he felt a desperate need to flee, to be gone, to save himself. But he couldn’t, there was no escape. He whimpered and Artemar suddenly looked old, worn and tired.

Aerhan was shivering like a leaf. “But the queen is pregnant? None of the women showed signs of being with child?”

 

Artemar laughed, a dry laughter without humor. “Do you really think that a daughter of the great emperor finds a simple Sha’al worthy of her womb? Do you think she wants to ruin her girlish figure with a swollen belly and aching breasts filled with milk? Oh no, she isn’t more pregnant than I am!”

 

Maglor had to blink. “But…?”

 

Artemar sneered. “I still have contacts within the women’s part of the harem. There is this one slave girl there who is so alike the queen nobody will be able to see the difference when she’s carrying the wife’s veil. She is pregnant yes, inseminated with the Sha’al’s seed and when the child is born the queen will claim it is hers. It is common for women of her culture to isolate themselves completely from the world the last four months of the pregnancy, to prevent evil spirits from seeing them and possessing the unborn child. The Sha’al will only see her a few times with a pillow under her dress and then he will be presented with a child, born by a mere slave but absolutely his blood”

 

Maglor took a deep breath. “And in the meantime she can do whatever she fucking like and even sleep with other men?”

 

Artemar nodded. “Pretty much yes, the Sha’al only sees her during parties and banquets, it is not exactly a marriage based upon love. They probably loathe each other but an heir is needed and she knows that very well. It is her one task, and one she gladly orders her slaves to do for her.”

 

Aodh frowned. “The other two women?”

 

Artemar sighed again, leaned against Maglor and the elf did notice that his skin was very warm, did he run a fever? “Her body guards, women of a special clan, born and bred as assassins. They have probably been her confidants and friends for years, the only ones she can confide in. Such are even trained to withstand torture, nothing will make them reveal any secrets”

 

Maglor swallowed. “So the queen has her fun with other males than her husband, I wonder if this is the first time she does this?”

 

Artemar had a cold expression on his face. “It is not, one of the servants I use to gather information had once seen her being taken by one of her own guards. The servant had been in one of the small closets looking for clean linen and saw through a crack in the wall.”

 

Aodh frowned. “Her guards? Those huge dark skinned ones? They are eunuchs!”

 

Artemar sniggered. “Seemingly yes, they claim to have had their balls taken out and when examined they do have an empty sack and a scar. But males can train themselves to pull their stones up into their abdomen. Some warriors do that to prevent themselves from being harmed by a kick to the groin. Those guards are still men, and they are still as virile as anyone. I bet the queen enjoys them rather often”

 

Maglor scoffed. “A fake castration, now I have heard that too!”

 

Artemar nodded. “Yes, a cut to make a scar and that is it. Very useful when their owner wants to be rammed hard and often and hates her husband.”

 

Maglor sighed, “Oh Eru, what a mess. Is there a chance the Sha’al will find out?”

 

Artemar shrugged. “I have no idea, the slaves and servants of the queen are extremely loyal to her, they have to be to still have a head on their shoulders. They won’t tell, but if one of the Sha’al’s servants were to witness something like this? Oh the situation would turn very violent very fast.”

 

Maglor shivered. “Then let us hope that he never does learn of his wife’s escapades.”

 

The albino sent them a skew grin. “This place is about power  dear, if one sees an opportunity to gain more influence one seizes it. This is like dancing on a razor’s edge, and the only certain thing in life is death”

 

Aodh swallowed, he was very pale. “Gods, I did spill in many of those women, what…what if…”

 

Artemar waved a hand. “Don’t worry, they use herbs. I strongly doubt that any of them will become with child after this. They would protect themselves from such mishaps.”

 

Maglor had to concentrate on breathing, if the Sha’al was told of this…He couldn’t bear the thought. Something had to be done, but by Eru, what?

 

For the next day they were walking as if on broken glass, expecting the guards to rush in and grasp them, drag them away to a gruesome death. Artemar was hardly moving away from his rooms, he wasn’t even training and Maglor got very worried. Then they suddenly got a new thing which gave them even greater reasons for worry. The Tha’vaal passed away. Harbal told them, he came running into the harem early in the morning, obviously upset and Maglor almost passed out there and then, sure the Sha’al had found out about the orgy the queen had arranged. Harbal sat down, gasping for air and Artemar came walking from his room, he did look very frail and Maglor was certain, something was very wrong with him,

“The Sha’al’s mother is dead”

 

Maglor felt a surge of relief, it was shameful and just terrible to be glad someone had died but at least it didn’t mean that they were in danger at the moment. Artemar swallowed some wine and his eyes were hazy and distant. “How?”

 

Harbal swallowed. “We are not sure, I have spoken to the royal physician and he doesn’t think it is foul play. He believes that she has suffered a stroke during the night and just passed away”

 

Maglor took a deep breath. “Oh Eru, what blessing. At least she wasn’t killed by someone”

 

Harbal nodded. “Yes, she was no longer a young woman and she was obese. She is at peace now, safe among her ancestors”

 

Maglor felt a sting of genuine sorrow, he had respected the woman and liked her. Now they were without her protection and help, it was not a good situation. “What will happen to her body?”

 

Harbal shrugged. “I don’t see the Sha’al bothering with arranging a grand funeral for a mere woman, even his own mother. I doubt there will be even a day of mourning. I think they will just carry her into the desert and bury her there, in an unmarked grave like some slave.”

 

Maglor swallowed, he felt tears sting his eyes. “That is so undignified, and just…there is no respect in it. It is his mother damn it”

 

Artemar made a grimace. “These men spend their entire lives trying to forget that they were born between the legs of a woman. She is worthless to him, just a reminder of his own human nature. I bet he is glad he is rid of her.”

 

Maglor almost keened. “But she did support him?! She did stay by his side, did her best to please him? Doesn’t that count for anything at all?”

 

Artemar smiled, a sad smile. “No, because that is what a good woman is supposed to do, it is taken for granted. Now he can forget about the fact that he is born out of flesh and blood”

 

Maglor cursed. “The ointments, what about them?”

 

Harbal looked down. “It is just a jar left, and  it isn’t that strong. Her plan failed Maglor, I am sorry. Death claimed her before it could claim her son”

 

Maglor took a deep breath. “Then what, what are we to do? The Sha’al has to die!”

 

Harbal bit his lower lip. “Yes, but at the moment there is nothing we can do, I am sorry. I don’t know the recipe for the ointments, it was a secret of hers and one she most certainly have taken with her to the other side. “

 

Artemar sighed. “The Sha’al’s daughters? What about them?”

 

Harbal smiled. “The Tha’vaal sent them off to some famous noble woman to be taught about the etiquette of the emperor’s court. I think the Sha’al planned on getting them married to one of the emperor’s sons. The emperor would of course not agree on such a union as the princesses would be of a way too lowly birth to be wed to an offspring of his but he would probably pretend to be willing for a while”

 

Maglor sighed. “Then they are safe, at least for a while”

 

Harbal nodded. “Yes, and I bet they will disappear from that noble woman’s hands pretty fast, out there you can get away from this realm unseen.”

 

Maglor sighed. “I wish that was true also for us”

 

Artemar hugged him. “But it isn’t, we are trapped like birds in a cage and we can only pray the cage won’t crush us”

 

Maglor continued to use the poisoned ointments until they ran out and then he just used normal ones and the rumors said that the Sha’al felt a lot better after his mother died. Some suggested that she had been a witch and that she had tried to subdue her son through spells to claim power for herself and Maglor felt a terrible rage within hearing that this good woman’s name was being slandered thus but he couldn’t say anything to defend her honor. There were banquettes and feasts like before and they had to work hard and yet the followers were allowed to borrow them and now the Sha’al allowed his followers to join him while watching the orgies. He even allowed some of them to participate and Maglor felt how despair tore at his heart watching his friends being forced to lay with these men. Some acted worse than orcs and he was glad the Sha’al didn’t allow anyone to fuck him. He watched how two sweaty grinning men took Noolar at the same time and heard his helpless cries of agony. The anger which already burned in him turned white hot and he had no idea of how to vent it. Negus were forced to dance too, he pretended to be stupid and brutish like a beast and the men loved to throw burning candles at him or even sharp daggers.

 

Negus was very agile and fast and he did avoid being badly burned but Harbal had to fix cuts and burns rather often. They treated him the way people of the street would treat one of the poor chained bears some showed off and Maglor’s heart was weeping. Artemar didn’t dance as often as before, and when he did he did take a smaller role. His dances were as spectacular as before but he was exhausted afterwards and Maglor did notice that he was coughing a lot. It was a nasty cough, hard and raw and deep and one evening after a performance he did see that his lover did toss some pieces of fabric into the trash. He had used them as handkerchief’s and Maglor saw a hint of red color and his heart leapt in his chest. He pulled one of the pieces out of the deep barrel and he gasped when he saw that it was soaked with blood. He felt heavy, then cold, and then heavy again and he felt a shiver running down his spine. Artemar was a mortal, he could get ill and Maglor went to Artemar’s room, this time he would demand an answer. Artemar laid on the bed and Harbal gave him a cup with something in it, Artemar drank it with a grimace and Harbal saw Maglor and jerked. “Oh, Gods, you elves are so silent, I didn’t  hear you”

 

Maglor sat down next to Artemar and Harbal sent him a very sad glance. He bowed his head and left the room and Artemar sighed and looked down. Maglor reached out, almost reluctantly, stroked the soft white hair. Artemar looked terribly vulnerable, naked in a manner which was so much more profound than physical nakedness. “Artemar, please, are you ill? You are coughing blood!”

 

Artemar closed his eyes, took a shivering breath. He swallowed and held Maglor’s hand, he could feel that the pale fingers clinging to his own were trembling. “Maglor, I am so sorry, I should have told you but…I couldn’t”

 

Maglor swallowed hard. “Tell me what? That you are ill?”

 

Artemar smiled, a very sad smile. “ I am not ill Maglor, I am dead”

 

The elf just stared at him, eyes wide and he felt an odd sensation of not really being there, as if nothing was real anymore. “What?”

 

Artemar sighed. “There is only one end to this my dear, it is a slow lingering death but it is unavoidable. Like I said, death is the only thing certain in this life.”

 

Maglor had to take some deep breaths, he was staring to shake. “No, you are ill, but there has to be a cure!”

 

Artemar reached out, stroked his chin. “Oh my beautiful minstrel, there is no cure, no salvation. Harbal has kept me alive this far, held it in check but it is getting stronger now, the medicine won’t work that much longer. I have some weeks left, not more”

 

Maglor stared, mouth open, heart beating like a drum. “No, it cannot be true, say it is a lie”

 

Artemar sighed. “I wish it was, but there are no lies left now my dear. Harbal can keep me looking seemingly healthy until the very end, but it is inevitable.”

 

Maglor keened, there wasn’t air there, he was choking, it couldn’t be so. “What…what is it? What disease is so horrible?”

 

Artemar held him close, Maglor could smell it now, an odd alien scent which was just wrong. Artemar’s perfume had masked it before, he realized that now. “It is in the lungs, it is eating them away. Many catch it and nobody survives. But if you are strong you can live for a while, for some years at least.”

 

Maglor felt tears swell up in his eyes. “How, how did you get it?”

 

Artemar sighed. “From one of the Sha’al’s followers. The man coughed straight at my face, I didn’t think of it then but after a few months I realized what I had been given. A death sentence, a very slow one too.”

 

He held the elf close. “That is why you are so important my friend,  that is why I had to teach you everything I know. I cannot let that knowledge follow me into the afterlife. “

 

Maglor sobbed, tears swelling in his eyes. “The others, do they know?”

 

Artemar nodded. “Yes, the only one who doesn’t know is Belerur, and of course you and Negus. But now you know, I am sorry to have held this from you, but I felt that if I could pretend to be well it would make this …less real”

 

Maglor gasped for air. “Artemar, I love you”

 

Artemar smiled, a smile with such melancholic tenderness and sadness it made the elf gasp. His eyes were soft and he reached out and cupped Maglor’s face between his hands. “ I know, and cursed be the Gods for blessing us with such feelings for it is a love born to die.”

 

Maglor gasped, tears streaming down his face. “ Please, there has to be something we can do”

 

Artemar shook his head. “No, there is nothing anyone can do. I have accepted it, I knew it the day I entered this place that I would die here and so it shall be. I only wish to die as I have lived, in beauty.”

 

Maglor let out a wail, his heart beating so hard, so fast. He hadn’t felt such a horrible feeling for years, not since that awful day outside of Sirion when he watched the bonfires consume the bodies of his two youngest brothers. Not even the day when Maedhros in madness and grief chose to end his life in that fiery gorge had felt so awful. He shook his head slowly, in agony. Artemar sighed, stroked his hair gently. “Maglor, do not mourn me. I am not dead yet you know, please, let my last weeks here be good ones, let us celebrate life instead of embracing death”

 

Maglor gasped. “I don’t know if I can. You are…”

 

Artemar sighed and kissed his brow. “ I know, I feel the same way, damn it elf, the moment I saw you being dragged in here I knew I loved you. But here love is like poison in honey, it can become a lethal thing unless it is kept as a secret.”

 

Maglor swallowed, his nose felt clogged and he was shaking. “What are we to do without you?”

 

Artemar smiled and kissed him again.” Go on, life doesn’t end with this, you have learned all I know, you will be the new leader here now. I trust you to protect them all.”

 

Maglor hid his face against Artemar’s neck. “Oh Eru, I don’t know how I can do that!”

 

Artemar almost purred. “You have it in you, I couldn’t ask for anyone better to take my place here.”

 

Maglor sobbed again, this couldn’t be real and yet it was. “You should have been our leader for many years still”

 

Artemar scoffed. “Maglor, I am too goddamn old, believe me! Soon the Sha’al would have sold me and then I would have ended up as someone’s toy until I perished from abuse. This is better, this is at least something I can control to a certain degree.”

 

Maglor had to lift his head, stared at Artemar. “You are not old, you look like a young man still”

 

Artemar giggled. It was absurd to hear that sound from him considering the grave situation, but perhaps the drugs did change his perception of what was normal or not. “Maglor, I am well over thirty, they lied when they sold me back then. And I lied to the slavers too, here a man is old if he lives to see his fortieth birthday”

 

Maglor had to cringe, forty years, what was that to him but a mere blink of an eye? “Oh Artemar, I…I wish I could accept this but I can’t.”

 

Artemar smiled and stroked his hair, caressed him. “Listen, all I ask of you is to be with you now, until the end. To be in your arms every night, to forget in the fire of your spirit. You make me feel as if there is hope in this world, don’t let me down by giving up. I will be safe my love, where nobody can harm me anymore. “

 

Maglor heaved for air, held Artemar as if he was afraid the albino would vanish into thin air there and then. “ Oh by the valar, I…”

 

Artemar laid his arms around the trembling elf. “Don’t speak love, I know death is so hard to accept for you and your kin, after all, it was never meant for you. But for us mortal beings it is the one thing we do know will get us in the end, no matter what. Just promise me to be there when the Sha’al meets his end”

 

Maglor nodded, unable to say a single word out of fear of bursting into tears once more, of wailing like a child. Artemar sighed. “Good, and when he goes make sure you send a curse after him for me as well.”

 

Maglor had to swallow and swallow and Artemar kept stroking his hair. “My poor beautiful one, I need you to be strong now, for me. You have to keep your head straight now these weeks, to prevent Belerur from finding out. If the Sha’al learns of my illness I will be sold, before the news can spread, while he still is capable of earning good money on me”

 

Maglor gasped for air. “I will do whatever I can, I swear!”

 

Artemar smiled gently. “Great my love, that is all I can ask for, and that you love me like you have since you arrived, without worrying for tomorrow”

 

 

Maglor kissed the albino, desperately. He could taste some bitter medicine on his lips but didn’t care, he suddenly needed to hold him, to have him, to absorb every aspect of him so that he may never be gone, never completely. Artemar sort of groaned into the kiss and before Maglor knew it he was on his back, Artemar on top removing his clothing. “There is one good side effect of the drugs I am using, it makes you so much more sensitive”

 

Maglor could only moan as Artemar slid down his body, starting to tease him with the usual expert technique but this time there was a hint of desperation to it, like he was afraid this would be the last time and wanted to make it a memory to last. Maglor had never seen Artemar thus, so uninhibited, so free. This was no longer about teaching but about enjoying and he surrendered completely, praying that the passion would remove every dark thought and every fear from his heart.

 

A couple of hours later they laid there in a heap, sweaty and sticky and gasping for air. They had sought each other again and again, as if they couldn’t get enough, as if the body of their lover was water and they had been thirsting for days. Artemar nuzzled Maglor’s neck and closed his eyes, drifting off into a deep sleep while still laying more or less on top of him. Maglor just laid there, listening to the albino’s heartbeat, his unsteady breathing, the rasping sounds he wondered how he had missed previously. He waited until Artemar was sleeping soundly, then he silently wept until fatigue overcame him and he too fell asleep, wishing that this day never had come, that he could wake up and find that it all had been a cruel dream. But he knew it wasn’t, he knew it was all too real.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The realm of the Sha’al did reach way out into the deserts, and there were paths through the dry ocean which travelers often used. Caravans transporting goods used them, slave traders too, and ordinary humble travelers and even pilgrims seeking the grand temples. This night a small camp fire could be seen close to a cliff a few hundred yards from the most used north eastern route. Some figures were moving and voices could be heard. Two men laid on the ground, neither was moving and the reason was very obvious. One had an arrow protruding from his back and the other a huge gash in his head. Three hooded figures gathered by the small fire, checking their weapons. “Brima, you didn’t have to smash that man’s skull. We could have just tied him up and left him here!”

 

The dwarrowdam in question frowned, she was short but stocky and her hair had an auburn tint. “He could have warned someone we were coming, easier this way Jarna”

 

Brima smashed the war hammer she was wielding into a rock, just to put some power to her statement and the third one shook her head. She was a bit taller and blonde and she had striking blue eyes and wore a very elegant armor with some nice Mithril details. “ Well, we did get what we wanted now didn’t we? Your fiancée is most definitely in the capital, and it should be easy enough tracking him, dwarves are not usual in these lands”

 

Jarna just growled, she carried a small crossbow and some long knives and she had a dwarven axe strapped to her back. As a warrior she knew better than to go anywhere without weapons and she knew that they had to stay together. A single dwarrowdam would be easy prey, even if she knew how to fight. All three were still young and even to a human being they would be regarded as very attractive since they hadn’t yet developed the bulk more mature females got. Neither were their beards all that thick yet and they were bustier and more hourglass shaped than most other females, both humans and elven. Jarna knew that she and her two bridesmaids were in danger of sharing the fate of her fiancée but her honor did dictate that she did whatever she could to help him. Her clan didn’t approve of this rescue mission since he was of a clan with lower status than her own but she didn’t care. She loved him and to a dwarf such matters are taken very seriously. You didn’t abandon your one, no matter what happened. Since females were so few among the dwarves and so very valuable Jarna had simply lied to her family and told she was going to visit some kin further west in the mountains but instead she had turned south and east, towards the area where Negus had been when he disappeared.

 

Careful intelligence had revealed that slavers had been seen in the area at the time he went missing and it was easy to put two and two together to find the answer. He had been taken and Jarna was furious. Nobody touched her husband to be, absolutely nobody! She would walk through hellfire to rescue him, yes, bring the very bane of Durin and she would face up to it. Her two friends were warriors too, skilled and trained and Sapphire was the oldest of them. She had travelled outside of the Orocarni a few times and knew the ways of humans well. Jarna walked over to the camel the two men had been using, the animal was tied down and stared at them with a mix of sheer hatred and mistrust. Camels were like that, they didn’t do diddely-squat unless you forced them to. “Do we ride this lumpy beast or do we release it?”

 

Brima cocked her head. “We ride it, I am tired of walking and it is faster than us. We can get there faster on its back”

 

Jarna removed the ropes and got up. The saddle was narrow and hard and the two others sort of clung onto it and the ragged hide of the animal. Jarna had never ridden a camel before but  she had seen how the humans  did it. She kicked the flanks and yelled ” Chee Chee, up you moldy piece of spoiled pork, get up!”

 

She used the whip the man Brima had killed had worn in his belt and the camel sort of groaned and let out a long array of awful belching sounds before it slowly and with rolling eyes managed to get up. It looked as if it was plotting on throwing them off but Jarna grasped the reins and gave it a few good kicks and it let out another angry sound and started trotting. They left the two bodies there, both had been highwaymen trying to rob the three dwarves and Jarna had at least gotten some information out of them before Brima lost her patience and practiced her war hammer skills using the man’s head.

 

 It was shaking like mad, the camel was swaying like a ship caught in a squall but it went forwards and faster than they could run so it was a good thing they had come across these two idiots. They had probably never imagined that females could be dangerous but anybody who knew dwarves would know that a dwarrowdam will be like a mother bear when she is defending her beloved ones, and between her and that person is the one place in the world were you definitely don’t wanna be. Jarna had sworn to find Negus, dead or alive, and if he was dead she would avenge him, and that vengeance would be one to be remembered through history. She kept her eyes on the horizon and smiled to herself. “I am coming for you my love, just you wait and see, I am coming for you!”

 

 

Burn like my sorrow, burn like my heart by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

This chapter contians major character death, and some angst. Tissue warning.

 

 

Chapter 10: Burn as my sorrow, burn like my heart…

 

The city was huge, Jarna and the other two dwarrowdams had never seen the like of it. When they did approach the gates Jarna did realize one thing for sure, finding Negus here could be like finding a needle in a haystack if they didn’t think and act strategically. Luckily for them the people of this region were rather short and when the three wore the dense veils of the nomads few could see that they weren’t human. Jarna and Brima had the dark skin of the Orocarni dwarves and Sapphire was a bit lighter in hue but all could be mistaken for a young and pretty human lad if they played their cards well. Jarna and Brima had bound their breasts and wrapped some cloth around their waists to hide their shape. Sapphire was more boyish in shape and didn’t need that much alteration before she could enter the city.

 

Brima was overwhelmed by the place and she walked very close to Jarna but the two others had decided to let their goal become the most important thing and they ignored pretty much everything they saw. It was of no importance. They did find a very shaggy inn somewhere in the poor parts of the city and paid the landlord some copper coins for a room, the man believed that they were lads from the villages to the east, trying to find work. Jarna did the speaking, she knew quite a few languages and she had a deeper voice than Brima and Sapphire. The next day they left the inn to start the search, the room they had gotten had been small, stinking of piss and rot and infested with bedbugs but the dwarves had ways to repel such pests. They had eaten a meal most people would consider not worthy of a mangy dog and then they took to the streets. Negus had been taken as a slave, that was very obvious so they had to start with the slave markets. And make sure that they themselves didn’t fall prey to these people and their horrible trade.

 

It didn’t take long to find the slave market, it was in the very center of the city and huge, but Jarna soon discovered that it was divided into sections. The ordinary slaves were sold in one section, more expensive ones in another and the ones with special talents or an extraordinary beauty in yet another. And then there were some sections where they sold what could only be described as trash, old and worn out slaves, sick ones or slaves who were found guilty of crimes and thus deemed unfit for further service unless it was in the mines or some other deadly and hard work.

 

Brima and Sapphire had their doubts, it had been months since Negus disappeared but Jarna was sure that someone would remember if a dwarf had been through this place. They just had to find a way to make someone speak, and find the right person too of course. They spent the day there, observing the people, trying to see who was who. That evening they did realize that there was one person who probably would know if Negus had been there, an old man who worked there cleaning the boots the slavers used when they presented their goods. He had to have seen every slave who passed through this place and it was obvious that he was no slave himself. He was a free man but very poor and Jarna and the two others kept an eye on him for a couple of days. They listened to the word on the street, mingled and learned to disappear into the crowd, to become anonymous and faceless like the rest of the milling mass of people this city gathered.

 

The old man would stop by a road side bar every evening, drink one cup of pale ale and head back to the shed he owned in a backyard. Jarna had her plans clear, the next day when the old man entered the bar a young fellow sat there already, with a turban and a hood and a friendly smile. He did look a bit odd, feminine and very pretty but the old man had seen people who looked way more exotic so he didn’t respond. Besides, he was almost half blind due to old age and it could be that his eyes were deceiving him. The young fellow was polite enough to buy him a glass of wine and the old man accepted with glee. It was rare that anyone these days did respect their elders. The old man wasn’t used to strong wine and before long his tongue became very lose indeed. The nice young man did make sure that his cup was filled regularly and the old man told of his work willingly. He didn’t realize that he was being asked just the right questions and that the young man was interrogating him.

 

In the end the old man had to be helped back home and he fell asleep in his old rags, not knowing who or what had just bought him such nice wine, Jarna left a small pouch with some coins in them for the old man, he did deserve it. She ran back to the inn and the other two gathered. Brima bit her lower lip. “Now, what did you learn?”

 

Jarna took a deep breath. “ Something rather disturbing. Negus is in the royal palace! The sha’al’s harem master bought him.”

 

Sapphire swore. “Damnation, Mahal’s curses. Nobody enters the palace without permit. It is impenetrable.”

 

Jarna made a small smile, it was wry but her eyes were dark and had a dangerous glimpse within them. “Maybe not, do you remember old Wigar?”

 

Brima frowned. “The alchemist? Yes?”

 

Jarna sent her a triumphant grin. “ He once taught me how to make flash fire.”

 

Sapphire went pale. “No? don’t tell me that you…”

 

Jarna sneered. “Yes! In the chaos of a fire we can enter unseen!”

 

Brima made a grimace. “Jarna, listen to yourself, even if we do get in, the palace is huge! There is no way we can find him quickly enough!”

 

Jarna did look extremely determined by now. “Oh but there are, I have learned a lot from the old ones”

 

She pulled a medallion from her bodice and it was rather flat and seemingly not very valuable but it had an arrow printed into the metal and the two others gasped. “Jarna, that is…that is forbidden magic.”

 

Brima did look shocked, the medallion was something they had heard of but never seen, it would turn towards where the object you desired were but if your reason for searching wasn’t pure it would lead you into danger, and many dwarves had used it to find gems or mithril and in the end been lead to their death since they had become greedy. Using it was seen as very dangerous indeed.

 

Jarna didn’t answer to that, she just hid the medallion again. “There is a warehouse close to the walls of the palace, with windows. If we use a small jar and some strong elastics I bet we can get the jar into one of the courtyards pretty easily, or onto the roofs. That part of the palace has thatching, not bricks.”

 

 

Brima looked at Sapphire and moaned, this would go to heck with record speed but they did know their friend rather well. She wouldn’t let anything stand in her way and they could just comply. Jarna smiled, a stiff smile. "Brima, you get elastics, I have seen some very nice rubber ropes in one of the backstreet shops not far from here. Sapphire, you help me build the foundations for a slingshot”

 

Sapphire rolled her eyes and Jarna stared towards the palace, her eyes revealed a great deal of hatred. “Negus could be suffering now, be abused in horrible manners. I will use the evening to get the stuff I need for the flashfire, tonight we will strike”

 

Brima felt a surge of excitement. She was scared as heck but at the same time, excited in a whole new manner. This was a plan worthy of their great forefathers, worthy of a song.

 

 

 

The men of the harem had been working hard the last few weeks, the sha’al was celebrating his birthday, then the birthday of one of his most loyal followers and then it was some sort of annual celebration to honor the Gods. They all had to perform almost every day and when the day was over they all collapsed in fatigue. Thasul had a horrible job trying to make them look good now and Negus and Harbal had to cooperate with him to make sure that nobody saw how tired everybody was. Maglor realized why drugs were so sought after there, they did enable a man to dance and sing and perform as if he didn’t have a single sorrow in this life but it did only last for a while. Maglor didn’t know how he managed to continue, how he managed to smile and flirt and act like this unreal ethereal dream when his heart felt like a block of lead in his chest. Artemar was performing like before, he had changed his style of dancing now, it wasn’t as vigorous as before but more sublime and flirtatious and the sha’al appeared to like it. Harbal managed to hide the symptoms of the disease rather well, the medicine suppressed the cough and made Artemar appear to be healthy as a horse but it was a terrible lie. If he hadn’t been an albino everybody would have seen that he was pale and that the glow in his eyes and the flush in his cheeks were because of drugs and fever.

 

 Every nigh Maglor would lay with his arms wrapped around the wheezing albino, feel how his lover was struggling for every breath of air, listen to his terrified feverish nightmares. It tore the very soul out of him, but there was nothing to be done. Maglor had never been a healer, he didn’t know how to use his own energy to heal and he wished that his step son Elrond had been there, he could perhaps have saved Artemar but then again, probably not. It had gotten too far now, way too far.

 

The sha’al had replaced quite a few of the guards in the last months, he feared that some were loyal to the wrong master and some of the new ones couldn’t be bought. That was a problem, a huge one. The sha’al had bought some new young men too, for the other part of the male harem. They were very young, some barely more than children and Maglor saw with his own eyes how covered bodies were disposed of after one of the sha’al’s orgies. It made his stomach churn, and he knew that such a fate was awaiting them all sooner or later. The sha’al would let someone kill his pets before he let them go, he had become that mad now.

 

Maglor had discovered that a few of the emissaries from the emperor seemed to return rather often, they could be seen at every feast and he sensed that they were watching him in special. Why he didn’t know but he feared the answer, he knew that his race to the people of the far east were a mere myth, that they probably saw him as a demon or worse and that that sha’al openly had claimed that Maglor kept him young was perhaps the most stupid thing he had ever done. The emperor was mighty, from what Maglor had learned the power of the sha’al was miniscule compared with it, and mighty men fear death, more than anything else. He was afraid of these men, more than he was of the sha’al.

 

Then one day Belerur came to the harem, one of the sha’al’s followers wanted a private show, Maglor, Artemar and Negus were to perform and they were taken away from the harem and into one of the side wings of the palace. It was older than the rest of the building and poorly built, a fact that some hopelessly glary paint and some godawful repairs tried to camouflage. Negus hissed when he saw that masonry, the mortar was dry and brittle and the bricks not that strong since they had been made from what could only be described as desert sand mixed with cowshit. This was the part of the palace reserved for the followers the sha’al didn’t deem as very important and Maglor did find it a bit odd that the sha’al let such a man borrow him and Artemar but Belerur did tell them that the sha’al owed this man a favor. Apparently the noble man had once cured the sha’als favorite horse of lameness and now he wanted to admire the sha’al’s favorite slaves on his own.

 

The man was perhaps in his mi-forties but he did look older, with a bit of a belly and thin arms and legs. He did look like someone who has let himself go and Maglor saw that the skin was scarred by smallpox and other diseases. The clothes were nice though, the man had some wealth and the room was well decorated with good furniture. It showed that this man had a sense of taste the sha’al lacked completely. A musician sat in a corner and Negus did some acrobatic drills before Maglor and Artemar was to dance. The dwarf tried to behave the way he usually did, like a child or some tame ape and the man was laughing and clapping. Maglor did in fact pity him, it was obvious that the human was someone who desperately tried to suck up to the sha’al to stay in power and that this power could slide out of his hands at any minute, it probably made him terrified.

 

Maglor and Artemar did dance for a while, a very sensual dance they only did when there was a small crowd or a private session and it had its effect on the man. He sat there on his pillows and was breathing hard and Artemar gave Maglor a small nod. It was obvious what the man expected and wanted so they helped each other strip as they danced. When they were naked Artemar did sink down onto his knees in front of the man, gracefully as ever and Maglor knew that he had prepared himself well before they left the harem. They all did, every time. Maglor had become used to the sensation of being filled with oil by now and didn’t find it uncomfortable anymore, and Artemar was even more used to it. Maglor found his position and entered the albino with a quick thrust and Artemar moaned and rocked back against him.

 

 It was no different than the other shows they had performed in, the man sat there groaning and he was touching himself rather vigorously while watching the two fuck. There was little pleasure in this, it was a job, a means to stay alive. Maglor managed to moan and act as if he was mad with desire and Artemar had learned how to become aroused even when he felt horrible. After a while the albino came with a loud cry and spilled onto the tiles under him and the man came too, groaning and rolling his eyes.

 

Belerur had been waiting at the back of the room and Artemar sat there for a while, panting. His eyes were dark with pain and he was sweating. He leaned forward, pretended to be wiping the come off the floor with his sash. “Maglor, I…I cannot move”

 

Maglor felt ice cold, if Belerur discovered that Artemar in fact was sick he would make sure that the albino got sold immediately and horror filled his soul. Negus did understand the situation, he started dancing. It was an odd dance, filled with all sorts of wild gestures and it caught the noble man’s attention and also that of Belerur who just gaped. The dwarf was rubbing himself up against Maglor in a very erotic manner, then he did the same to Artemar and thus he helped the albino get up. He whispered to Artemar. “Insult me, now! And I am sorry!”

 

Artemar didn’t hesitate. He sort of growled and tried to pull the dwarf’s braid. “Get off me you animal”

 

Negus sneered. “Animal? You darn sack of old flour!”

 

Negus kicked Artemar in the leg, seemingly very hard and Artemar let out a howl of pain and fell down onto one knee before Negus started hopping up and down, rubbing his foot. It was all a game and very comical and the noble man started laughing very hard. “How precious, such a rare creature. No Belerur, do not punish it, it doesn’t know any better. “

 

Maglor went over and now Artemar had a reason to rest on Maglor. He was pretending to limp and Maglor let out a sigh of relief. They were saved in the nick of time. Belerur smacked his tongue, he did look annoyed. “Come now, it is time to return. Dwarf, if it hadn’t been for this kind gentleman’s plea for mercy I would have had you flogged! “

 

Negus rolled his eyes and pretended to be very scared. “ Oh thank you most honorable and merciful master!”

 

Maglor had to snicker, Negus did know how to exaggerate, a lot. Belerud sort of bristled with pride by hearing the dwarf’s words and they entered the corridor leading back to the harem. Only to find it filled with smoke.

 

 

Jarna and the two others stood by the window, outside it was dark but they had been there for hours and knew where to aim. They had hit the old part of the palace with three jars of flashfire and the old thatching had immediately caught fire. Now flames were reaching towards the havens, throwing an unreal red shine over everything and shouts and screams were being heard. Jarna bit her teeth together, she pulled out the medallion. “Come. It will show me the way to him.”

 

Brima and Sapphire took collective breaths to gather their courage and then they ran down the stairs and got closer to the gates. There were gates to every part of the palace, most were not in use anymore or they were heavily guarded but this one wasn’t. It was just a very plain gate made from hard wood and steel and it didn’t look very impressive at all. Smoke filled the skies and Jarna bared her teeth. “Wait for it”

 

Brima looked confused. “What?”

 

Jarna smiled again, a narrow smile, her eyes were shining. “Panic”

 

It took a while, the shouts and screams got louder and then the doors were pushed open by gasping guards and servants and slaves ran into the street. Some came with some horses in a lead rope behind them and the horses were screaming and whinnying, scared by the commotion and the fire. Jarna nodded. “Now, he is in there, the medallion tells me so”

 

The opening in the wall was filled with black smoke and the three covered their faces with wet cloth before they ran, all armed and all ready to do whatever it took to get inn.

 

 

 

Maglor and the other two coughed, the smoke was very thick and dark and Belerur sort of squealed, he did seem very scared all of a sudden. “Oh no, a fire, I must get you back to the harem, now. Come come, don’t hesitate”

Belerur grasped Maglor by the braid and pulled him along and Artemar moaned and had problems keeping up. He was coughing violently now and trembling and his eyes were huge and filled with fear. They heard cracking sounds and suddenly the corridor collapsed behind them, burning wood rained down and Belerur screamed and sounded like a small girl. He too was scared and shaking and they tried to move forth as fast as possible but the smoke was so thick and Maglor could feel himself choking. Artemar was unconscious, hanging in his arms and Belerur was tugging at them both. Maglor refused to let go of Artemar, he could easily save himself but he would never abandon his lover, and the smoke was horrible and made him feel very disoriented and weak.Negus was coughing and wheezing as well, and yet he was better off than the humans and the elf. Dwarves are very resilient to smoke since they spend so much time by the forges. Belerur saw that Maglor and Artemar were unable to move further, he swore. The sha’al would have his head if he let the most valuable of the slaves die but the need to rescue himself got too strong, he grasped Negus and ran.

 

Negus was fighting the huge human with desperation, he didn’t want to leave his friends behind, Maglor and Artemar would die if he didn’t get them out and Negus was about to reveal just how strong a dwarf really is when Belerur found a door and ran through it. They entered an open yard, a very small one but it was air there. And more so, as Negus prepared to really fight back a door at the back of the yard opened and three figures appeared. They were a bit short and covered all over and Negus knew them, by Mahal’s beard how he knew them.

He tried to wrestle himself free but Belerur growled and kept a hard grip on the dwarf, he thought the three were servants trying to escape the fire and didn’t react to the odd clothing and the stature of the three. Negus shouted. “Jarna, you found me!”

 

Jarna bared her teeth, she saw a mountain of a man holding her beloved like he was a goddamn ragdoll and something inside of her snapped. She grasped the Warhammer Brima carried in her belt and tore her veil and turban off. Belerur just gaped, what was this? A small woman with a beard? “You let go of my fiancée or prepare to meet your forefathers”

 

Belerur did the mistake of laughing at the angry dwarrowdam. It was his last mistake. Jarna was half of Belerur’s height and probably only a fifth of his weight but she was angry and strong and she ran faster than anyone could imagine that it was possible to run for someone that stocky. She jumped and swung the hammer and it hit Belerur straight in the forehead. The man fell, letting go of Negus. Belerur roared and tried to grasp onto the female but Jarna swore and brought the hammer down one more time, this time there was a cracking sound and Belerur’s eyes rolled up and he went limp. Negus gasped for air. “Jarna, sweetheart, light of my life, there is someone in there I must save, or else I can never live with myself.”

 

Jarna put the veil back on. “Alright, lead the way”

 

 

Maglor was close to passing out, each breath of air stung like a thousand daggers and his eyes were burning too. He grasped Artemar’s hand, if he was to die now then be it, at least he died with the one he loved, and they were together. He saw that the smoke moved a bit, looked up and for a moment he was sure he saw two figures, one tall and darkhaired clad in silver and one shorter with golden hair and what had to be a dress in a lovely color of mint green, then Negus came out of the smoke like some apparition. A cloth over his face, and by his side three other short stocky creatures. Maglor felt that Negus grasped him and hauled him up over his shoulders and Maglor was twice the dwarf’s height and yet Negus carried him with ease. The other three carried Artemar and they rushed back to the yard and Maglor gasped desperately for air. He immediately grasped Artemar and put an ear to his chest, he was breathing but only just and he whimpered with despair. Negus stared at them. “Follow me, we can get out of here. This is my fiancée Jarna and her bridesmaids, they can lead us all to freedom.”

 

Maglor felt as if his heart was made from stone, from ice. At that very moment he knew that there was no choice, no freedom. He shook his head, “No Negus, you go. I will lie, say you died back there. Artemar…Artemar is sick Negus, he is dying. I cannot leave him behind, and he cannot live without his medicine, not even a day. I have to stay, for him, for the others”

 

Negus stared down at him, there was a sort of silent acceptance in his eyes. “Then be it my friend, you are most brave. I will never again look at your kin as cowards and spit lickers. You are as bold as a dwarrow for sure”

 

Maglor swallowed hard, the thought of freedom was like a promise of heaven but he knew he wouldn’t reach it, if he left now he would never be able to forgive himself. “Go Negus, live on and have good life, swear this!”

 

Negus knelt down, embraced the elf with an unusual amount of feeling. “I swear, I will tell my children and their children of you, and we will remember, we always will remember. Your name will not be forgotten but be honored. “

 

Maglor nodded and hugged the dwarf back. “ And I will remember you my friend, stay safe”

 

There were the sound of shouting and Negus smiled. “ Come to the Orocarni when you get away from here, you will always be welcome.”

 

He took a small ring from Jarna and put it in Maglor’s hand. “Keep it, show it to any dwarf and they will know you are a friend. “

 

Negus kissed Jarna once, winked at Maglor and then the dwarfs ran back through the door, cutting down a few guards on the way. The building was on fire now, the bodies would appear to have been the victims of the flames. Another door opened, and some of the harem guards came running, they stopped when they saw that Maglor was kneeling on the ground, holding Artemar. Belerur lay where he had fallen, he was dead. The lead guard grasped Maglor and another took Artemar. “Quick, we have to get you back before the whole wing goes up in flames. Where is the dwarf , and what happened to Belerur?”

 

Maglor coughed, it wasn’t hard to lie now. “The dwarf got the roof over him, he was crushed. Belerur got a huge beam in his head, I dragged him out”

 

The guard just nodded, there was no reason not to believe him. The smoke was still thick and it made their eyes sting and run but they did get away from the burning buildings and now slaves and servants ran carrying water. Maglor didn’t see at all when they ran the last stretch back to the harem. His eyes hurt so bad he had to close them and the guards sort of hauled him through the doors. There was no smoke in the harem and the others gathered immediately and started to wash the smoke and grime off the elf. Harbal threw himself over Artemar and started working on the albino and the guards left. They were needed elsewhere. Aerhan sat down next to Maglor, the elf was beside himself with worry, Artemar was in severe jeopardy now and he didn’t want to lose his lover like this. There was no honor in this, no beauty. “Where is Negus? And what has happened to Belerur?”

 

Maglor kept his voice low. “Negus has escaped, his fiancée and two other dwarrowdams came for him. They think he is dead, nobody will bother looking for a corpse in the ruins. Belerur got killed by Negus fiancée, a formidable female I must say. They think he got hit by debris. “

 

Aerhan took a deep breath of air. “Oh Gods, well, not that he didn’t deserve it, but I wonder who the sha’al will chose as his replacement. There has to be a harem master at all times.”

 

Maglor just frowned. “ I don’t care right now, I just pray Artemar will make it”

 

Aerhan hugged him swiftly. “So do I my friend, so do we all”

 

Maglor remained sitting by Artemar’s side. Harbal did all he could and used some methods other healers probably would have shunned but by the dawn Artenar was breathing rather well, and he was waking up slowly. Harbal had given him massive amounts of medicine and enough poppy milk to knock out a horse. Maglor heard the guards chatter about the fire, it was stopped, only the old wing of the palace had burned and the sha’al was already planning on replacing it with a grand new building. Twenty had died in the fire and many more were injured but the only thing the sha’al bothered with was the few valuable pieces of furniture which had burned and the loss of Belerur. Not that he wept over the eunuch, he just expressed his anger over losing such a skilled man, getting someone equally good at getting the best slaves for the harem wouldn’t be easy.

 

Artemar couldn’t talk for two days, and he was terribly weak and frail. Since Belerur wasn’t there they could treat his injuries rather openly since the guards didn’t understand but Maglor wept constantly. The smoke had been way too much for the already weakened lungs, Artemar had just days left and that was only because of Harbal. When Artemar finally got back on his legs everybody could see that he was ill, he had lost much weight and his eyes were sunken and the spark was gone from them. He did look like a corpse, and Maglor could only hold him and mourn and try to make him forget the pain. The sha’al wanted a feast, to celebrate his new palace. The fire came as ordered, he had wanted to get rid of the old buildings for a long time and now he was in a brilliant mood. Maglor knew that Artemar was unable to perform again, it was impossible and yet the albino insisted that he was allowed to dance one last time. Harbal seemed to know something the others didn’t, and he did look rather mournful but even when Maglor begged him to sedate Artemar he didn’t budge.

 

Artemar stayed with Maglor the night before the performance, the elf knew somehow that this was it, their last night together and he tried to forget his grief and make it a good memory but in the end he lay there, weeping, holding Artemar so close to his body as physically possible. Artemar sighed and kissed his brow. “Tomorrow I will dance as never before Maglor, please remember it, every moment, every move. It is my legacy.”

 

Maglor nodded, trying to suppress a sob and Artemar smiled and stroked his hair, it was oceans of love in that simple gesture. “ I will die dancing Maglor, it has always been my dream, and as I die it will be with one last effort to spite the sha’al.”

 

Maglor had to scoff. “You are mad!”

 

Artemar shrugged. “Maybe, but it doesn’t matter anymore now does it?”

 

Maglor sighed. “No, it doesn’t. I miss Negus, he could have cheered me up, even now.  I wonder if they made it out of the city?”

 

Artemar snickered. “Oh they did, be sure they did. The gods are with our friend Maglor, they won’t deceive him. Some of my contacts claim that many fled the city during the fire, I can bet all the gold in this palace that Negus and the three others were among them. Don’t worry about Negus Maglor, he is safe, and so will I be. At least I will rest”

 

Maglor gasped and whimpered and Artemar smiled, that soft seductive smile that always had made the elf’s heart shudder. “Come now, dawn is yet far away. Love me while I still am alive, while I have a body to enjoy”

 

Maglor closed his eyes, swallowing his fear and the burning grief. “Yes, and may tomorrow never come”

 

 

But tomorrow did come and Maglor had problems facing it, he didn’t want to let go of Artemar but he had to. There was no way around it. They got up and ate and he did notice that Artemar did eat more than usual, there was a carelessness in the albino’s behavior which hadn’t been there before, a sort of freedom almost. Artemar even ate stuff he normally never ate, stuff which would make you fat if you had it often and he didn’t appear to care at all. He had wine and ale and Maglor just stared at his food, unable to force down even a bite. The others too were very somber, Aodh wept and Rial and Kenar were red eyed and were clinging to each other the whole time. Tharsul came to prepare everybody for the show, he had a hard time camouflaging the signs of sorrow and he started working on Artemar at the end. He took the albino into another room and it was clear that Artemar and he had a plan. When the albino got back everybody were stunned. Maglor had go gawk and he felt almost shocked. Artemar did wear some heavy makeup which camouflaged the fact that his eyes were rather sunken, and his body was covered with paint in a silver color Some places Thasul had attached tiny gems to the skin and his hair was lose and filled with rubies.

Artemar did look almost supernatural, like a God descended from heaven and his gauntness only made it even more apparent. Harbal came with medicine, and Artemar drank it all. It would give him the strength to perform one last time. Maglor was wearing some black lose pants this time, with diamonds attached to the thin fabric and nothing more, the contrast between the two was striking and Artemar smiled. “This dance will go down in history my friend, just follow my lead”

 

Maglor had to choke a whimper and Artemar caressed his cheek. “Do not cry my beautiful dark one, look, I am not crying. I have accepted it, I will go out in a blaze of glory and you will carry my name with you, into eternity. No greater honor can be given a mere mortal”

 

Maglor didn’t know what to say and Artemar just embraced him, held him close. “Remember, I can feel no pain now. I have been so thoroughly drugged I feel nothing, except euphoria. I will be free Maglor, truly free. And one day you will all experience freedom again”

 

Maglor just sobbed and stood there, until one of the guards came to tell them that it was time to go. They went to the great hall and the others started their performances. Rial and Kenar were juggling each other, Aerhan and Kherfem told jokes, Demetry danced with Aodh, Noolar sang and then it was the elf and the albino, the height of the evening. Harbal had stayed there with them and now he took a small flask from his belt, handed it over to Artemar very discretely. Artemar smiled, a very sad and yet grateful smile and opened it, he emptied it slowly, with reverence and Maglor almost keened when he realized that it was poison.

 

Artemar did really intend to die this night, before the disease took the rest of what he was and reduced him to a shivering wreck. Harbal had tears in his eyes and Artemar kissed him on the brow, handed over something and Maglor saw that it was a very valuable ruby necklace. The payment for his help in hiding the illness.

Artemar came over, grasped Maglor by the hand. “Come now my love, let us dance the way it is supposed to be done, for love”

 

Maglor could only whisper, his heart felt like lava in his chest, he was close to passing out from sheer emotional stress. “Yes, for love”

 

They ran into the hall, the music was already playing and Artemar caught his gaze. “Don’t let me down, let this be my finest moment”

 

Maglor swallowed all feelings, all fear, all sorrow. He became the dance, like so many times before and the crowd was watching in awe. This time the elf and the albino were outdoing themselves, each move so powerful and so elegant it wasn’t hard to believe that these two in fact where divine beings sent from above. Artemar spun and jumped, discretely leading Maglor through the dance and this time it wasn’t sexual, it was joyful, a celebration of life and the rhythm and the very force of the dance left nobody untouched. The sha’al was staring at them as if he was paralyzed, eyes wide open and his mouth ajar in awe and Artemar was flirting with the huge man rather shamelessly. He danced by the table and snatched the goblet of wine which stood in front of the sha’al with a wicked grin, emptied it and put it back on the table after having licked the rim very suggestively. Maglor almost lost it, the audacity was horrendous, he was willfully trying to give the sha’al the same illness that was killing him. The sha’al filled the cup again, drank it all down as if the touch somehow had transformed the cup into some part of the albino’s godlike body.

 

Maglor and Artemar danced on, for a long time, slowly, faster, sensually, wild. Artemar looked almost drunk but Maglor knew it was the drugs, his eyes were shining, his cheeks were red and he was smiling, a wide smile filled with wild ecstasy and fierce joy. This was what Artemar loved doing, it was the core of who he was and suddenly Maglor felt a sense of deep reverence, almost a sort of religious awe. Who was he to decide how another living being chose to live or die? Artemar had embraced life wholeheartedly and now, in his final hour he was more beautiful than ever before, more alive, more vibrant. Artemar gave him a small signal and Maglor knelt down, swaying with the music and Artemar started dancing solo, making pirouettes and jumps that almost did defy gravity. It had to hurt but the albino was too far gone now to care, and the poppy milk did sedate him.

 

He swirled and spun, spun and jumped, leaped high into the air and looked so much like an angel some there almost covered their eyes in fear of invoking the wrath of the Gods. He leapt higher and higher, the music was building to a crescendo and Maglor knew, he just knew. He wanted to scream, to beg Artemar to stop, but he couldn’t. This was the albino’s ultimate triumph, his final escape, his moment of glory and freedom and he couldn’t ruin it, even if his soul was screaming in denial. Artemar spun around, smiling down at the elf and then he let the music carry him into a leap so spectacular nobody was able to believe it. He seemed to hover, to have defied the very law of gravity, arms stretched, a blissful smile on his lips and his hair was like a halo of milk and blood around his head. The moment seemed to last forever, the music reached its climax and then it fell silent and Artemar fell.

 

He fell like a ragdoll, like a shot deer, collapsed into Maglor’s arms as if it was planned and the crowd cheered, went almost crazy, believing that this was as it was meant to be. Maglor had managed to catch him but he knew that Artemar now was crossing the border between the world of the living and the world of the dead. He opened his eyes one last time, stared up at the elf with a faint smile on his lips, blood had started flowing from his nose and mouth, and he was cold, so very cold. He lifted a hand, let it run through the elf’s long silky tresses and Maglor whimpered, tears filled his eyes. “Maglor, remember, I love you. If there is a way to return, I will. Then we may meet again.”

 

Maglor kissed him, didn’t bother with the blood and the bitter taste of the medicine. He kissed him as if he tried to pull some part of his soul into himself, to store it there forever. Artemar shuddered slightly. “Hold me, promise you’ll live on, swear it”

 

Maglor had to take a deep breath. “I swear”

 

Artemar smiled, a very pleased smile. “Good, you have become a true masterpiece, use it for all it is worth. “

 

Maglor hid his face against the Albino’s silky white locks. “I promise “

 

Artemar closed his eyes, he was barely breathing now. “And Maglor”

 

The elf stared at the beloved face one more time. “Yes?”

 

Artemar opened his eyes, a faint smile on his lips. “Beware of the eye”

 

Maglor frowned. “What, what do you mean, Artemar?”

 

He shook the albino but there was no response and the glow in the eyes that once had been like rubies were now extinguished forever. Maglor saw that the others had extinguished the lights, as planned and now they rushed forth, grasped Maglor and Artemar’s body and pulled them out of the hall. Maglor wanted to scream, to wail, to protest but he couldn’t. The crowd would think that this was a part of the show, a game. They carried Artemar back to the harem, and laid him on the bed of his room. He did look as if he was sleeping and Maglor bent down and pressed one last kiss onto the now cooling forehead. He hadn’t known that such pain could be felt, and survived. Harbal entered and he was crying, he embraced the elf. “ The sha’al was in awe of the performance, I sent one of the loyal guards to tell that Artemar has taken ill suddenly. That I suspect poisoning, that it could have been the wine he drank from the sha’al’s cup.”

 

Maglor keened, tears running freely down his cheeks. “Sick? He is dead!”

 

Harbal sent him a weak smile. “Not yet, I will leave in half an hour and give the sha’al’s butler the sad news. The wine was poisoned, and meant for the sha’al. Artemar saved his life”

 

Maglor had to scoff, what a perfect plan, what a devious way of assuring one’s legacy. Now the sha’al would most certainly think of Artemar as his savior, as a hero. And give the slave a royal funeral. It was so ironic it made Maglor grin, a swift and very sardonic grin. He remained by Artemar’s side, crying and grieving and in the middle of the night slaves came to take the body away. Maglor almost lost it, he wanted to fight them, to keep Artemar there but there was no point in it. It was just an empty husk, a shell. The sha’al was in utter shock, his favorite slave had died to save him and suddenly there would be a grand funeral the next morning and Artemar would be prayed for in every temple in the city for a year ahead.

 

Maglor almost sneered, Artemar hadn’t cared about religion, not at all. But he was safe now, free from the hardship of this world and Maglor found some solace in that thought. He felt as if his heart had been ripped from his chest, and the others gathered in his room, they all slept there the rest of the night, in one huge heap. Comforting each other, finding some little glimpse of hope, of love.

 

The next morning Maglor was allowed to watch the funeral, the others weren’t but he was regarded as loyal to the sha’al so he was taken outside, although in chains to watch it. Normal people were buried but royalty were burned and Artemar had been washed and put into some glorious clothing. Thasul had put make up on him and he looked as if he was about to open those sparkling eyes and grin as mischievous as ever. But he was dead, gone, as dead as Maglor’s heart felt. The funeral pyre was large, in it they had placed everything the dead would want in the afterlife, clothes, food, jewelry, furniture. Some dolls to represent slaves were laid there too, a horse had been killed and placed at the bottom with tack and equipment and also some hunting dogs and a few goats. It was a royal funeral gift and Maglor saw some irony in it. Artemar had never been treated thus before, but now, when he supposedly had died instead of the sha’al he was turned into some sort of saint. The sha’al himself lit the fire and Maglor was shocked to see that the man in fact was crying, perhaps he did have feelings after all, but most likely it was just because he had lost valuable property.

 

The fire caught immediately, a good sign and they all stood there until it had burned down. Maglor felt a strange sort of light headedness. He was almost dizzy, now it was his job to keep the others safe, to make sure they survived to maybe one day taste freedom again. It was such a responsibility but one he had accepted, and had to fulfil, for the sake of his lost love. He was returned to the harem and it was a silent place now, a place of mourning. Aodh came to him and they laid together on the bed, holding each other. Maglor had never felt that alone before, even when he lived as a hermit along the weather worn beaches.

 

Some days later it was still quiet, the sha’al had put the palace in mourning for a month and it gave the men of the collection a good chance to recover. Maglor sat in the garden when he suddenly heard an odd sound, he looked up and saw a raven sitting on the roof. Ravens were rare in this land but it was really a raven and the bird made a croaking sound and jumped down into the garden. It cocked its head, stared at the elf with black eyes and Maglor felt a chill run down his spine. This was no ordinary animal, it was way too intelligent. The raven walked towards him with short dignified steps, then it bowed its head and opened its beak and what came out was Negus voice. “Maglor, my friend. I have returned safely to my people and I am to be wed soon. I wish you all the best in this world, and I am telling you this; if you send a message with the man named Hasul Fh’harak it will reach us. Should you ever want our help just send a note, and an army of dwarves will be at your command. Your friend, Negus”

 

The bird croaked and Maglor just stared, he knew that the dwarves had talking ravens, but he had never met one before and the bird just nodded and took to the wings, disappeared over the rooftops. Maglor felt an odd calm, somehow he knew that these promises were some he would find useful one day. Why he didn’t know.

 

That night he went back to the garden and for the first time in ages he did sing the noldolante, softly and in a low voice. And then he let the song carry him, sweep him away. He sang of his love and his grief, of the loss and the pain and the terror. He sang of hope and despair and everything in between and in the rooms of the palace the guards did shiver and the sha’al was shifting in his bed, feeling uncomfortable. The horses were stomping in their stalls, restless and nervous. Dogs howled in their kennels, the cats sought shelter in the darkest corners of the rooms. Maglor kept singing, in a voice no human could even hear, he was lost in it, in a trance and just vaguely he remembered the tale of the songs of power, songs with the magic to change the world. Songs which could conquer even a God. He didn’t stop until the soft first rays of morning light reached the roofs, then he got up and returned to his room. He had cleansed himself, now it was time to take on a new role, as protector and leader, a role he had held once before, when he had worn the cloak and the crown of a king.

 

 

Authors note: the vision Maglor sees in the smoke is of Negus descendant Narvi and her husband Celebrimbor, the dwarves in this story is a co-operation with the author Rogercat, and they are linked to her story An open door.

 

What goes around... by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

Things are about to change, a lot. Can Maglor cope with it?

 

 

Chapter 11: What goes around…

 

The atmosphere within the harem had changed a lot since Artemar passed away, he had been the one who kept everybody positive and even though Maglor did try to copy him he wasn’t quite as good at it as the albino. Now things got more and more uncertain and many said that the Sha’al was getting increasingly unstable. There were nobody there to control him anymore and they all missed his mother. The feasts all lasted until the very morning and were extremely lavish and some of the more friendly guards did confess that many believed that the Sha’al would go bankrupt rather soon. But he didn’t put the breaks on in any way and one of their contacts told Maglor that the Sha’al was searching for a new harem master, and some new slaves too. He seemed to crave novelty now, needed something exciting and exotic at every banquet. The new queen was rarely seen, she did appear at some of the more formal feasts but then she just sat there for a while before retiring. The parties of this court were probably very different from the ones she was used to.

 

Maglor made sure that they all trained, that their performances went well and that they kept changing their shows so they never got predictable or boring. He had talked Harbal into getting some music from this region and now he did sing a little at each show. It was rather well known ballads, usually sugar sweet and filled with clichés but the crowd loved it. Aodh would impress the guests with some sword dances and Kherfem had learned a lot of very juicy insults from Negus and used them for all they were worth. The Sha’al seemed to be very pleased with them but there had been some changes Maglor didn’t like at all. The Sha’al now demanded that at least two of the slaves did fuck during the show, preferably more than two, and neither of them liked this new trend.

 

The followers still borrowed them every now and then and they got increasingly demanding, Maglor was afraid someone would get seriously hurt, Aerhan returned from one such session bruised all over for the follower had started beating him with a stick while he danced and Noolar did return in tears one morning and he refused to even mention what he had been through but Maglor could smell that he probably had been in contact with shit, both human and animal. Maglor was thinking about the possibilities of escape but as Artemar had said, there were none. There were guards everywhere, and even traps on the roofs. Not even an elf could get through there unseen and his only comfort was Aodh. The two of them had grown rather close but Maglor didn’t love him the way he had loved Artemar, it was more of a brotherly love and he knew that the tall blonde did remind him of his brothers, in some ways. There were rumours flying about attacks being made against the realm, by roaming hordes of bandits and the caravans were not safe anymore. The attacks were rather well organized and the guards were afraid of being sent out to war.

 

In the dark warm nights some of the younger guards were easily persuaded to speak after being offered some glasses of good wine and the news they told made the elf frown and think about the battles of old. He managed to get a map of the realm and started making notes of where the attacks occurred. The Sha’al was of course furious and he emptied the cities of soldiers, nobody had ever had the audacity to raid his property and the servants told them that their oh so great leader would throw tantrums like a toddler. But Maglor did see a pattern, and it made him realize that these attacks in deed were planned. Someone was deliberately trying to weaken the realms defences by spreading them out over a great distance, choking it’s assess to new goods and at the same time cause distraction and terror. The attacks were never truly destructive, no buildings were harmed and civilians were usually left unharmed, no slaves were taken and the only things stolen were some valuable things like cloth and gems and horses. These bandits were not raiding for riches, they were raiding to draw attention to themselves.

 

Maglor already knew who the culprit was, the emperor. It was a brilliant strategy, while the Sha’al struggled with the onslaught of ceaseless attacks the emissaries of the emperor were helpful enough to take over more and more of the administration of the realm and in the end the Sha’al would be no more than a puppet, easily disposable. Maglor had to grin thinking of it, the Sha’al saw himself as high and mighty and probably as a strategic genius too but he was far from it. Anyone with a brain ought to see the obvious plan behind the raids.

 

Then one day the guards gathered the slaves and announced that a new harem master was found, and Maglor feared the worst. Belerur had been a nightmare to handle and what if the new one was someone even worse? The new master arrived the day after, escorted by four guards and they all stared at the man with something akin to shock. Belerur had been a huge mountain of blubber but this guy was tiny, skinny as an old cat and he had long thin white hair and an impressive moustache. He was of eastern origin with almond shaped eyes and one eye was white and blind. He was tanned like leather and did stink of something not even Maglor could identify. The guards looked as if they did pity the slaves, they rolled their eyes as they closed the doors behind them and the old man turned around and made a very obscene gesture. Then he farted and scratched his arse and nobody made even the smallest sound. The man had to be old as the hills and yet he had some sort of uncanny vitality to him that told Maglor he was more than what you could see with the naked eye.

 

The man stared at them, the seeing eye did sparkle. “Oh what a wonderful collection of fuckables, this Sha’al of yours is one humongous load of camel dung but he does have a good taste when it comes to man flesh.”

 

Maglor had to blink, the man’s voice was incredibly deep and hoarse and that collided completely with his looks and he obviously disliked the Sha’al. The man was so tiny  he barely reached Maglor’s chest and he looked as dry as old firewood, the thin white hair made him look incredibly frail but the elf sensed that he was everything but. He tilted the wrinkled head and grinned. “I am Feng, just that. Yes I am old but I am well known for my skills, I managed to convince the Sha’al’s men that I was the perfect harem master, not too hard really, they were as stupid as a rabbit with its head chopped off”

 

Maglor had to say something. “Ah, what are you then?”

 

Feng tilted his head, the eye was glittering. “I once worked for the emperor, the key word is once alright?”

 

Maglor understood, Feng still worked for the emperor. “So?”

 

The tiny guy stared at the elf with something akin to reverence. “Ah, such exquisite beauty, the idea of that beast violating something so gorgeous, ah, it tears my soul in half, truly”

 

Aerhan and Demetry looked intrigued and Aodh was frowning, what in the world was this tiny man? Feng turned around, a wide grin on his face and Maglor started to realize that this guy was uncouth to say the least. He didn’t care about manners at all. He scratched his crotch without any shame and then he made a wide gesture. “I am a man of many talents, but I am most often referred to as a mage of some sorts. I do know how to take care of a harem, worry not, for I did work for the emperor, teaching and training his deadly flowers.”

 

Rial and Kenar squinted. “Deadly flowers?”

 

Feng nodded with glee all over his face. “Yes, you see, a ruler needs body guards yes? He is a prime candidate for assassination at all times and even the biggest and toughest guy can be brought down. But nobody expect a female to be dangerous yes? So his female servants, his favoured concubines and even the ladies washing his chambers were all trained by me.”

 

Maglor tilted his head. “What does this all boil down to, and what exactly did you teach them?”

 

Feng chuckled, it did sound a wee bit like a laughing hyena. “Oh, allow me to demonstrate, the big black guy over there, come over. Worry not, I will not cause you any harm, not for long anyhow”

 

Aerhan hesitated, then he stepped forth and Feng walked over to him. “By the ancestors, you are large, and gorgeous too. I am sorry I no longer feel the urges of the flesh, this place could have been sheer paradise if I still did. “

 

He lifted a thin arm with a hand that looked just as frail and withered as the rest of him and poked Aerhan in the gut, very gently with one finger. The huge black man frowned, what was this supposed to mean? Then he suddenly froze up and started to tremble, obviously incapable of drawing breath and Feng giggled like a deranged schoolgirl before he grasped the tall man’s wrist and rubbed one spot on it. Aerhan gasped for air again, visibly shaken and Feng did make a very theatrical bow. “That my new friends is what I teach. The knowledge is ancient and deadly and based upon the principle of energy. What I did was block the energy stream in his body which controls breathing, it is very simple and yet incredibly intricate”

 

Maglor was stunned, he had never seen anything like it and the others were silent. “Why teach us this?”

 

Feng sighed, he made a grimace. “The Sha’al is a scumbag right? A swine, an abomination, and he rules his realm like a spoiled child. You are confined to this harem and have probably never seen the misery he has caused but I have, and my master knows of it too. Believe it or not, the people of these lands would be far better off with a new leader”

 

Maglor had to stare at the small man with a frown, he felt uncertain. “Are you saying that we are to assassinate the Sha’al?”

 

Feng shook his head. “No, the Sha’al will be dealt with by the emperor, no, one day the Sha’al will be no more and what then? You are slaves but unusual ones for sure, and the emperor will want to implement you to his own staff. You will still dance and perform but you will also be able to protect his greatness in a manner nobody will expect.”

 

Everybody were staring at each other and Feng sighed and rolled his eyes. “No, you will not have to fuck to please the emperor, his feasts are very…orderly. No obscenities, no blatantly sexual acts. It is classy and elegant and no, he will not want to touch any of you. The emperor only seeks the company of females, and he is very picky.”

 

There was a sigh of relief and then Maglor saw some new hope blossom on everybody’s face. “How long do you think the Sha’al can remain on the throne?”

 

Feng spat on the floor, his lack of manners was actually a bit appalling. He raised an eyebrow and giggled. “I am doing this on purpose, to everybody I am this disgusting old man but in truth I could kill the whole lot of you in no time, except from you elf.”

 

Maglor frowned and leaned forth. “How can you be so sure?”

 

Feng smiled. “I was taught what I know from a very odd old man wearing blue, when I was but a wee lad. And he said that this technique only works on the second born.”

 

Maglor felt confused, a man wearing blue? Who could that be? A maia perhaps? Feng continued. “The emperor tries to take over without bloodshed, by replacing the Sha’al’s loyal men with his own, slowly of course but he is patient.”

 

Aerhan almost growled. “The queen, she is one of the emperors daughters is she not? Can’t she do anything?”

 

Feng scoffed, and spat on the floor yet again. “Oh, she! No, her guards could probably have strangled the Sha’al with their own hair but she is useless. Sparkling flower is the black sheep of the family, hopelessly spoiled by her mother and all she cares about is riches and cock, not necessarily in that order.”

 

Aerhan and Aodh had to cough and look away, both blushing vigorously and Feng grinned widely. “See? You have already encountered her majesty’s insatiable appetite, she is known for having lost her maidenhood at the ripe old age of nine, to one of the guards. She almost raped the poor man. She is as nasty as they get my friends and my master married her off both to get rid of her and to cause the Sha’al problems. He knows his daughter you see, better than she thinks he does. “

 

Maglor squinted. “Causing him problems?”

 

Feng nodded vigorously. “Yes, she is terribly demanding, a menace to be around and the bullshit about her expecting? No, she has a slave doing that for her”

 

Maglor mumbled. “Yes, our contacts have told us that much”

 

Feng grinned. “Yes, you are smart having good contacts, and I will make sure that you from now on get more information, and perhaps I can make the situation easier on all of you. But I have to warm you, I have seen the way the Sha’al has started to behave lately and I do know that in order to keep you safe you will need to continue, and take it even further than before. But it won’t last, sooner or later the beast will make a mistake that will enable the emperor to strike.”

 

Rial cleared his throat. “How can we take it any further? We are already doing everything that we can out there, we are running out of ideas. The moment he finds us boring he will sell us off, to some sadistic follower, or to a brothel”

 

Feng went over and grasped Rial’s hand, caressed it. “Oh worry not beautiful one, I have plans. He will not grow bored of you for sure, I have…ordered for some…items…to be brought here”

 

Kherfem frowned. “Items?”

 

Feng nodded with an eager expression on his face. “Yes, books, and toys and a whole lot of other funny things.”

 

Maglor shook his head. “We are dead tired of having to fuck whenever he shows up to peep at us, can anything be done about the orgies?”

 

Feng nodded. “Yes, there is another feast tomorrow, I will be presented to him then, and I will try to see if I can make his appetite less vigorous whence I have gotten his trust.”

 

Demetry looked intrigued. “How?”

 

Feng sent the blonde a wide grin. “You wait and see”

 

Aerhan pressed his lips together. “I trust that the harem won’t expand then?”

 

Feng sighed. “Unfortunately it will, the Sha’al has already acquired some new slaves, and I have not met them nor do I know anything about them, but they are four in number and are said to be very exotic.”

 

Everybody groaned, four more! That meant that there would be a lot of work to do, to implement them into the shows, and prepare them. Feng sent them a soft smile. “I am the new harem master remember? I have loyal people, and they will arrive too, as my personal slaves. They will help, worry not.”

 

Maglor made a grimace. “Alright, when will the new ones arrive?”

 

Feng shrugged. “I am not sure, but I would bet that they arrive tomorrow, from what I managed to pry out if the guards the caravan transporting them arrive this evening if they aren’t waylaid.”

 

Maglor closed his eyes and sighed, four new slaves, four new lives which potentially could be completely ruined. It was in fact terrible.

 

Feng clapped his hands enthusiastic. “So, names please, and what do you all do?”

 

Everybody did present themselves and Harbal and Thasul did also show up. It seemed as if Feng did like Thasul right away and the two were eagerly chatting away about the fashion within the great cities and seemed to forget about everybody else. Maglor stared at the old man, Feng was very dangerous, but he was on their side and even if he had his own agenda, or rather, followed the emperors agenda he could be trusted and he did want to make things better for them. Maglor started to believe that the  emperor in deed was a better alternative, he just worried about the fact that the Sha’al still believed that Maglor kept him forever young.

Feng turned around and walked over to Maglor again, he winked at him. “You are worried, and I think I know why. Everybody knows that the Sha’al has an elf and that it keeps him young and vigorous. My master doesn’t believe in that crap, he won’t abuse you in any way my friend”

 

Maglor let out a sigh of relief and Feng lowered his voice. “I did hear about his mother though, a formidable woman, so brave and strong. I suspect that she had her own plans?”

 

Maglor nodded. “Yes, poison, in my skin cream. But it had to be stopped when she died”

 

Feng frowned. “Too bad, way too bad. But I can counteract the lack of this vital spice he he he”

 

Maglor had to grin. “Oh?”

 

Feng cracked his knuckles and made everybody cringe. “I am a master at massage believe it or not, and knowing what I do I can make the Sha’al feel like a lad of fifteen again, but only for a while. It will be like drugging a racehorse before a race, it can produce a winner but also a fatal heart attack. His system won’t take the strain for more than some months but by then I bet my master will be at his throat anyhow. And as I said earlier, at the same time I can manipulate his appetites too, at least to a degree”

 

Maglor was a bit intrigued, against his will. “You can? How?”

 

Feng stared at his hands with a proud expression and Maglor did see that the man had rather long fingernails, they seemed to have been polished and perfectly cut. “By activating the right trigger points of course, it will restore vitality”

 

Aerhan scowled. “You cannot make Maglor seem useless”

 

Feng shook his head. “Of course not, he will never know that it is the massage which have had such a miraculous effect on his physique. He has ingested your sweat and urine yes?”

 

Maglor cringed and nodded. “Yes”

 

Feng giggled. “Then let’s take it to a new level shall we? A shot of fresh come will set him straight for sure”

 

Maglor had to make a grimace. “Uh, that is…”

 

Feng grinned with an insane expression on his face. “Ingenious, I know!”

 

Maglor bit his lower lip. “ I don’t think that I can…that often…”

 

Feng waved a hand. “Ah shush, I can make a man ejaculate with just a wee touch, no need to worry. I bet that trick will work even on an elf, you are not that different from us”

 

Demetry had stared at Feng with narrow eyes the whole time. “The emperor obviously trust you, and has faith in you, why?”

 

Feng sighed and smiled at the blonde, he didn’t appear to be insulted by the questions. “ That question is easily answered young one. It is common to have more than one son also in the royal houses of my realm, and unlike the Sha’al’s most sons are rather safe. Being the emperor is not a job anybody wants, it is in truth like being a slave to the entire land so younger brothers usually end up serving the emperor as counsellors and so on, a much more desirable job. I was the brother of the emperor’s father’s father”

 

Aodh blinked. “Ah, how old are you exactly?!”

 

Feng bowed his head and grinned. “One hundred and twelve and counting”

 

Maglor was impressed, the humans of the days when he had been a king had been able to live for several hundred years, and they could chose to die when they felt tired of this world but now few humans lived to be sixty. It was a very high age and he suspected that this man indeed knew things few others had any knowledge about.

Harbal took Feng to show him the infirmary and the slaves gathered, everybody looked at Maglor and he tried to smile. “I feel that things will change from now on, I hope for the better”

 

Aerhan bit his teeth together. “So do I, the Sha’al is getting more crazy by the hour.”

 

Feng got the rooms Belerur had owned and within an hour he had managed to turn them into a complete pigsty, Maglor suspected that it was on purpose. People tend to underestimate those who smell, makes a mess and acts strange. They had a very quiet evening meal and that night Aodh came to him again. Maglor had started to crave physical contact, it made him feel safe for some reason and Aodh had overcome his eventual fear of being touched by another male. Now he was rather eager too and they did make love before going to sleep, Maglor was very curious about the new slaves. He just hoped that they were well behaved and wouldn’t cause them any problems.

 

The next day Feng ordered them a breakfast consisting of rice and fish, claiming that it would help harden their bones and Maglor had to grin. Both things were hard to come by and expensive as hell. The local grain was a sort of wheat which could grow under dry conditions and it did taste like cardboard even when carefully prepared, the cooks used insane amounts of spice to camouflage the taste. Feng then watched them train for a while and he seemed to be pleased by what he saw. He made a few adjustments to the exercises though, claiming that the ones they used could cause their bodies to come out of balance. He told them of some guards of the emperor who kept building these huge upper bodies but their legs were puny and it made them look so silly the emperor had forbidden the practice. He didn’t want guards who looked as if they were ready to topple over at any moment.

 

At midday the guards opened the door and dragged four new males into the harem and Maglor had to blink to believe what he saw. Two were twins, boys of perhaps thirteen years of age, black like Aerhan and both had intricate patterns of small scars covering their bodies like some sort of tattoo. Both had shaved heads and they were terrified, they had been crying and were shivering, holding onto each other desperately. They were lithe and elegant but thin and Maglor suspected that they didn’t even know the language of this realm.

 

The next to be hauled in the door was a male of obvious eastern origin, he was short but very pretty with long silky black hair and slanted almond shaped eyes, he did look a bit feminine in some ways and he too appeared to be very frightened. Maglor did pity him right away. The last one came freely, and they all stared. The man was rather tall and his skin was very dark, almost as dark as Aerhan but his hair was a bright orange colour and he had the most eerie green eyes anybody had seen. More so, he wore the most gaudy jewellery anybody has seen and a loincloth so embezzled with gems it was a wonder it didn’t slide off him.

 

Maglor almost scoffed, the guy wore paint on his nails, make up and he was pretty but it was over the top. He could be somewhere in his twenties and he had a gorgeous physique, strong and elegant, too bad he seemed to be the kind of a person who takes everything just a wee bit too far. The guards grinned. “Beware of this one, he is more horny than a bag of bunnies. Don’t let him wear you out”

 

Maglor stared at the guy, he didn’t seem scared at all, rather thrilled, and Feng scoffed and rolled his eyes. Maglor had already realized that this person was a bit like Noolar, but where Noolar really felt like a female and tried to act accordingly to it this guy was just being odd. Maglor stepped forth and the two twins did scream when they saw him and both sank to the floor, shivering like leafs. Aerhan swallowed hard. “They think you are a demon, and that you will eat them. I recognize some of the language, they come from realms far south of where I was born”

 

Maglor sighed. “Try to calm them down please?”

 

Aerhan started speaking, Maglor could hear that he struggled with the language but he managed to calm the two boys down and appeared to ask them questions. “They are twelve! Twelve! And their names are Abu and Abebe, they were stolen from their tribe and sold, apparently male twins are seen as sacred by their tribe”

 

Feng shook his head and suddenly he appeared to transform into the worlds kindest and most friendly grandfather. He walked over, mumbling softly to the two, wiped their tears and the two stared at him with awe. Old people were probably revered by their tribe. The eastern looking man stood there and he did still look nervous but Kherfem went over to him and tried some questions and the guy answered eagerly, almost too fast for Kherfem to understand. “He is known as Ursra, that means fast rider. He was captured by the Sha’al’s soldiers for having stolen a horse and sold”

 

Ursra spewed out a long tirade of words and Kherfem frowned. “Pardon, they took his horse because they claimed his people hadn’t paid their tax and he took it back?”

 

Maglor tilted his head. “They like horses then?”

 

Kherfem translated and Ursra nodded vigorously, hitting his chest with his fist. “They are the people of the horse he says, they are born, live and die on horseback, most are made on horseback as well”

 

Rial and Kenar had to giggle and the guy with the orange hair sort of scoffed. He did seem to be haughty and proud and that didn’t bode well. Maglor made a welcoming gesture. “I am sorry you have ended up here, what is your name? Do you understand me?”

 

The tall man raised an eyebrow and did for a moment look like a certain nobleman Maglor had been struggling with more than once when he was high king. “ I am Adanais, and I am a very valuable pleasure slave. I expect class and luxury”

 

Maglor had to hide a wry grin, oh brilliant, this guy would most certainly learn a few lessons, maybe even painful ones. “Our master is all about class my friend, I am sure he will be delighted by your skills”

 

Adanais stared at Maglor and he didn’t seem to be too impressed, that was the first really. “Sweet gods, an elf! Is this a harem or a menagerie? And what is that?”

 

He pointed at Feng who bowed politely and smiled, there was a devil dancing in his one seeing eye. “The master of this harem, responsible for making sure that you all please the Sha’al”

 

Adanais blinked, he crossed his arms over his chest. “Let me put you all straight, I am a master at what I am doing right? I was owned by the lord of Thiksrha and I was sold only because he died and his heir was such a pussy and preferred females. I am to be the favourite of the Sha’al, let’s make that clear here and now”

 

Maglor had a hard time not laughing. “Wonderful, nobody will stand in your way then, there is a feast tonight or tomorrow night, I bet you can prove yourself then.”

 

Adanais suddenly seemed eager, he leaned a bit forth and Maglor saw that the others there looked a bit stunned. Nobody in their right mind wanted to be the Sha’al’s favorite, Adanais had no idea of what he had gotten himself into. “Really? Wonderful, I can assure you, I will teach you some of my tricks but do not try to come in my way”

 

Aerhan snickered and raised both hands. “No way, go ahead. But be warned, the Sha’al can be a bit…impatient! And he likes it rough. And he is very well endowed and then I mean VERY well endowed”

 

Adanais just waved a hand. “Ah, that is sweet of you darling but believe me, I can handle it, I am well trained, nothing will shock me. I can take any sort of cock, worry not”

 

Aerhan leaned over towards Maglor and snickered. “I wonder if he ever has had a donkey up his arse for that is what he’ll get tomorrow!”

 

Feng grinned and took Adanais by the hand, took him to his new quarters and Maglor could focus on the other three. That they didn’t speak the language was a problem but Maglor was somewhat relieved that Adanais was among the new ones. He would draw the Sha’al’s attention away from the three others. He turned towards Ursra, thinking hard. “He is an expert rider I suppose, can he do acrobatics on horseback?”

 

Kherfem translated and Ursra nodded vigorously. He said something and Kherfem smiled. “He can do anything on a horse, and ride it in every possible manner”

 

Feng returned and listened inn, he frowned. “Ask him about what he will have to go through here, can he accept being touched by other males? If not he is in for a very rough break inn. “

 

Kherfem asked and Ursra swallowed and looked nervous again. He spoke with a low voice and he was a bit pale. “His people have very strict rules, he says that men who fall in love with other men and can’t lay with females are accepted, but if you prefer females and let another man lay with you it is an abomination. The ancestors will not let you enter the afterlife then. He cannot let anyone do that to him”

 

Feng swore. “Cursed be all superstitious religions, well, if we can keep him safe until the Sha’al bites the dust he should be okay. I can get a well trained horse, if he manages to impress the Sha’al with his riding skills that ought to be enough”

 

Maglor had to look at Feng twice. “You can get a horse, just like that?”

 

Feng nodded. “The head of the Sha’al’s household is now a man serving the emperor. And the feast hall is great enough for one horse, I think we can add some comedy to it as well, the Sha’al will get in a good mood by some laughter”

 

Feng turned to Ursra. “Kherfem, ask him how much he weighs?”

 

Kherfem frowned but obeyed and Ursra looked puzzled but answered. Feng grinned. “Excellent, I have just the right idea!”

 

Maglor frowned and Feng grinned widely. “Ah, don’t look so worried, it will be fine, I promise, just fine”

 

He turned to the twins who still looked terrified, there was sadness in the face of the old man. “They are children, unfortunately there are many among the Sha’al’s followers who enjoys youth  a little too much. What are we to do to protect them?”

 

He sat down and smiled and the two tried to smile back, still clinging to each other. “Aerhan, ask if they know any sort of skills, something which makes them valuable beside their youth and beauty.”

 

Aerhan spoke to the two and they hesitated but whispered something back. Aerhan nodded. “They can play the drums, they use old shields as drums they say”

 

Maglor had to scoff. “Shields?”

 

Aerhan nodded and asked some more questions. “Yes, metal shields, hammered into a curved shape.”

 

The elf turned to Feng. “Can you get something like that for tomorrow?”

 

Feng nodded. “ I will try, and I will ask Thasul to add some makeup to these two which will mask their youthful appearance.”

 

Maglor smiled. “A good idea.”

 

Aerhan and Kherfem took their new protégés to their rooms for rest and food and Maglor sat down with Feng to plan the show. It had to be perfect and Feng grunted and pointed towards the room where Adanais now rested. “That one is a pain in the ass, we have to get rid of him as soon as possible, for he will endanger everything here if he thinks that it can give him an advantage.”

 

Maglor swallowed. “I hope you aren’t planning on murdering him? We all get punished if someone dies”

 

Feng shook his head. “No, what do you take me for, a monster? No, I bet that he will lose his enthusiasm whence the Sha’al has had his wicked way with him. I will make sure that our oh so great master will ravish that idiot like nobody before”

 

Maglor bit his lower lip. “It is cruel, he cannot help being who he is!”

 

Feng nodded, “Yes, I know. And the courts he has served in are way more civilized and orderly than this. Back there he was respected and revered. Here he is just another ass to fuck, and I think the truth of that will break him. But we have to be cynical Maglor, you cannot make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and better him than those innocent children, right?”

 

Maglor felt a sour taste in his mouth, remembered the horror of being raped by the Sha’al. “I agree, but I do not like it”

 

Feng petted his shoulder. “Neither do I, but we do what we have to do to survive right? It is a dog eat dog world my friend so bring forth the fangs and hide the velvet gloves”

 

Feng got up, he smiled. “Prepare well, it will be a great show, the Sha’al will be most pleased for sure. I have things to do now, so rest, eat and look as gorgeous as ever”

 

Maglor nodded, he was kind of glad they had gotten someone like Feng, that man was devious, sly and probably capable of things that would have made even the dark lords wince, he was perfect to keep them safe and alive. And more so, it was no longer only Maglor who had to work to keep them that way, the load was shared from now on and it was such a relief. Feng knew the world out there, had connections and friends and his presence bore the promise of a better future for them all.

 

The feast was announced to be the next day and everybody were preparing. The new slaves were to be introduced at the end of the show and Adanais did drive everybody up the walls with his demands. He took all of Thasul’s time and Maglor was glad most of them could prepare on their own. He helped Feng fix Abu and Abebe so that they looked older than they were by adding some streaks of bright red paint to their faces and Thasul had found some old goat hides he cut into bulky and ugly looking coats which made them look way less graceful. He also put a pebble in Abu’s sandal to make it look as if he was limping and he dripped some liquid in Abebe’s eyes that made it look as if the boy had an infection. The metal drums had been made and prepared and Aerhan gave them strict instruction so they would know exactly what to do.

 

The rest of the show was no different from the other ones, Noolar would dance dressed as a woman, Aerhan would chase him and then bring him down and take him. Demetry and Aodh had a dancing routine and Kherfem would as usual tell dirty jokes and insults. Maglor and the twins would then dance and Feng would be introduced afterwards. The elf just hoped that he would hold his word.

 

It was a very lavish feast, held in honour of one of the followers who had gotten his tenth son earlier that week and the Sha’al seemed to be in a very good mood as the crowd gathered. He had been drinking some wine already and the queen was there too, holding her belly. By now she ought to be showing and she did but it was probably just a pillow hidden under her lavish dress. But Maglor had very keen eyes and he did notice that the woman looked rather pale compared with before, and she didn’t touch her wine at all. Instead a servant constantly filled her glass with water. Maglor did doubt that the Sha’al knew that pregnant females are to stay away from alcohol so why would she then shun the wine?

 

He didn’t have time to think for very long, they started and the males of the collection was always what the crowd really came to see. There were others there too, jugglers, musicians and so on but they were just to fill in the gaps between the performances. Noolar did absolutely stun everybody with his elegant dance and then Aerhan did make a very convincing barbarian chasing a poor defenceless maiden and then having his way with her. They all did their best and Maglor and the two twins did also dance very well this evening, the twins had mingled some acrobatics into the dance and Maglor had made sure to look as stunning as he could so the crowd was already very pleased when the one in charge of the shows announced that it was time to see the Sha’al’s newly acquired treasures.

 

The Sha’al looked very enthusiastic, he was grinning from one ear to the other and the queen sat there looking bored. Maglor couldn’t help but thinking that something was off. Feng was the first one out, he had actually taken some time to fix his appearance. Now he did look like a truly wise old man, with his hair in a top and the long moustache kempt and elegantly formed. He wore a silk kimono and sandals and he did smell good. The new master of the harem was introduced as a skilled slave from the far east and Feng did walk into the open area in front of the throne with his head bowed and his hands hidden within his sleeves. He did walk slowly, like an old man usually does and he bowed so deeply his chin almost hit the floor. The Sha’al appeared to be amused by this display of submission and Feng started talking with a croaking old man’s voice. “Oh great master, heavenly ruler, lord of this realm, what honour your grace has bestowed upon me, a poor wretch. I live to serve thee, I am not worthy of being in thy presence oh great one”

 

Maglor had to snicker from behind the door, Feng did know how to exaggerate. By now the old man was kneeling by the Sha’al’s feet, literally kissing his sandals and then he touched the Sha’al’s big toe with a finger, shivering as if he was touching a deity. “Oh mighty ruler, ox of this realm, I am thy humble servant”

 

The Sha’al was grinning, he found the old man hilarious and Feng did retreat, backwards, mumbling praise the whole time. Everybody thought that this was such a sweet innocent old man, truly harmless and probably full of useful wisdom. The next post on the programme was Ursar and Maglor was a bit nervous, what had Feng been doing? The answer was unexpected to say the least. A door at the end of the hall opened up and in ran a horse, a very small horse.  It couldn’t be more than eleven hands high and it was fast as lightening and clearly untamed. It was bucking and jumping around and suddenly Ursar came running into the hall and jumped onto its back. The horse reared and tried to buck him off, then it ran again and as it ran he started to climb all over it, in spite of the frantic attempts at shaking him off.

 

Even Maglor was impressed, the guy hang from its neck, ran alongside of it and since the animal was so small it did look rather comical. The Sha’al was both amazed and amused and was laughing when the animal tried to throw the man off but Ursar did hang on like a burr. In the end the door opened again and he rode the now steaming horse out, everybody was clapping. In this society a good rider was admired, Ursar had gathered some fame this evening.

 

The two boys were next and they were lead into the arena by Aerhan, the drums were carried out too and the two of them didn’t hesitate but started playing. The metal had been tuned and Maglor was in shock, it did sound rather amazing and they were really good. The song they played was cheerful and lively with a good rhythm and some of the guests started to sway with it. Even the queen did clap and seemed to enjoy the unusual music and the Sha’al was grinning widely. He was enjoying himself a lot and Feng did wink at Maglor, pointing to his own toes.

 

Adanais was the last one out, he had been waiting impatiently and Maglor had to admit that he did look stunning. He wore a gorgeous necklace made from crystals which really showed off the long neck and the elegant shoulders and the long orange hair was not braided and hung freely down his back. Instead of a loincloth he wore a sort of kilt and it was white and made a great contrast to the dark skin. Maglor saw that the make up was meant to make the green eyes look even more stunning than usual and Adanais did look very confident as he sauntered into the hall. He winked at the Sha’al and Maglor saw that the man was flirting, shamelessly.

 

A musician started playing and Adanais was a good dancer, in fact he was fabulous. He could have rivalled Artemar but Maglor did see that he lacked something vital. Artemar had danced because he loved the dance. Adanais danced to achieve something, not for the love of the art and that made the performance less impressive. It was not likely that the Sha’al nor the crowd did notice though, the dance was extremely sensual and loaded with sexual innuendo and Adanais was constantly eying the Sha’al like he was a dog and the huge fat man a juicy bone someone had left behind. Maglor did feel sorry for him, he couldn’t help it. The Sha’al was clearly getting aroused and Aerhan stood behind Maglor and made a grimace. “I just hope the moron survives this, but he will make a pretty corpse if he doesn’t”

 

Maglor scoffed. The dance ended and Adanais knelt down gracefully, the Sha’al gestured for him to get up and get closer and the tall man obeyed, smiling sweetly. He was actually swaying his hips and playing with his hair, pouting. The Sha’al grasped onto the long orange locks, fascinated by the rare colour, then he grasped Adanai’s rear and the man giggled and wriggled it a bit. He was still flirting and the Sha’al was obviously in a hurry now for he was panting and sweating and his eyes were dark. Feng’s little trick had had its effect for sure. He grasped Adanais by the hips and pushed him down onto the low table in front of the throne, then he yanked the kilt off the man and tore his own pants open before throwing himself on top of the shocked slave.

 

The sight reminded Maglor of something his Uncle Fingolfin had told him about, when they crossed the great ice up north they had come across animals living in the ocean and on the ice, and some were humongous. A male could weight several tonnes and Maglor remembered that his uncle had described their mating habits. He had been stunned by the fact that the females didn’t get crushed by the huge mountains of fat. This was such a sigh, Adanais was almost gone underneath the huge Sha’al who hadn’t exactly lost weight over the years and his legs did stick out on each side of the grunting ruler. Maglor didn’t want to watch but he felt compelled too, it was like watching an accident happen.

 

The Sha’al found his way and started to thrust and Adanais started to scream, desperate terrified screams of sheer agony. He was pinned down and couldn’t move and Maglor could see the wide open eyes and the pale face and knew that even someone as used to this as Adanais would be hurt from this, possibly seriously for the Sha’al appeared to be almost desperate, and very vigorous too. He kept fucking the poor slave for what had to be at least five minutes and by then Adanais had passed out and just laid there, legs twitching as if in death spasms with each thrust.

 

The Sha’al roared through his release and grinned, got up and tucked himself in and some guards came and grasped Adanais and dragged him out. Harbal was already waiting and Maglor cringed when he saw the trail of blood left by the poor soul. The party was over and the slaves returned to the harem, Harbal went to work on Adanais immediately and Feng too tried to do whatever he could. Maglor did drop by after a while, he was feeling guilty. They should have warned Adanais about the Sha’al. They should have insisted that he didn’t tempt the beast, but then again, Adanais hadn’t wanted to listen to them. Now he was reaping what he had sowed.

 

Harbal did wipe the sweat from his brow and made a grimace. “He will live, but he is badly injured. I fear that he may suffer for a long time to come”

 

Maglor crossed his arms over his chest. “Is there a way to prevent him from being abused again?”

 

Feng shook his head. “No, the Sha’al liked him, so he will most definitely become the monster’s favourite from now on, at least when it comes to fucking. I am sorry but Adanais had it coming, easy as that.”

 

There wouldn’t be more shows for a week at least because of a religious holiday and they all used that respite to relax and get to know the newcomers. The two boys did thaw rather fast, and they tried to learn the language and proved to be very smart and even the guards soon loved the sweet faces and their childlike innocence. Ursar had more problems, the very concept of pleasure slaves was something he had a hard time understanding and he refused to let anyone touch him. Then one day the guards came and took him away and Feng did proudly announce that he had managed to convince the master of the Sha’al’s stables that this slave could teach the soldiers how to ride way better than before. Hopefully Ursar would find that job much more rewarding and way more befitting his nature.

 

Adenais on the other hand wasn’t so lucky, he did heal but slowly and Harbal said it was because his body had been used so much before. The muscles refused to contract and there were tears and other damages too. The Sha’al did ask for Adanais again, before he was healed and Feng knew that one more encounter like that would kill the man. He had gotten a terrible shock and if he had been an elf he would have been fading. Feng managed to convince the Sha’al of Adanais other skills and so the orange haired human had to please the Sha’al orally and returned to the harem with an aching jaw, in tears. He had never been treated thus, never been regarded as just another piece of meat and now his haughty behaviour turned into a very nervous one. He had discovered some nasty truths and Maglor sat with him often and tried to explain the nature of this place to the weeping human.

 

To Adanais it was almost incomprehensible that valuable slaves could be treated thus, he had been safe and sure of his worth but now he realized that he truly was just a slave and that scared him almost out of his wits. Aerhan started sharing his bed, just to be there and offer comfort when the guy woke up in the middle of the night, screaming. Oddly enough everybody started liking Adanais much more now that he had showed his fragile more human side and Feng did his best to keep the Sha’al away from his arse. He had started to offer the Sha’al massages and he did keep his promise, every morning Feng would give Maglor a cup and touched his wrists in a certain way and before two minutes had gone the elf would suddenly ejaculate, it felt just like peeing and gave no pleasure and even if it was awkward Maglor did not protest.

 

The Sha’al was beside himself with joy, this was better even than sweat, it made him feel like a young stallion and he was vigorously making plans for his counterattacks on the bandits. He even suggested riding out to lead his troops and Maglor had to snicker when he heard that. No horse could carry that lump of fat. But the attacks continued and Feng did confirm that yes, the emperor was behind it, testing the defences, drawing attention away from himself. Soon he would offer the Sha’al troops to help him beat the menace and when the troops were inside of the realm taking the helm would be easy as pie. The Sha’al’s soldiers were rather worthless, they had little discipline, were lazy and unskilled and worst even, they hated their leaders. That did not leave the army with much of a chance against the emperors elite forces.

 

Feng did start to train them in his special technique but it went slowly for it took great skill and a lot of concentration and they didn’t have that much time available each day. But Feng did massage the Sha’al rather often and rumours said that the Sha’al suddenly had gotten quite a new appetite, for fruit and females instead of males like before.

 

Adanais did reveal that he originally was a shepherd’s son from the mountains to the west, the unusual colours were rather common there and when the area was caught in a terrible drought many sold their own children to prevent them from starving. Adanais had been a very handsome boy and so he was quickly sold to a man who trained pleasure slaves and the boy soon proved to be his most skilled student. Adanais had never been hit, never been scolded. He had always been told what a true gem he was, how precious and rare his colours made him and how valuable he was. In truth he had never been treated as a slave but as a confidant, and he had owned a lot of influence and prestige since the ruler had listened to him over the pillows at night. The fall from glory had been a devastating one and Maglor did fear that this place soon would reveal its true ugly face to the beautiful human.

 

The Sha’al did still demand orgies but not as often as before and luckily Feng had some of his loyal men among the Sha’al’s closest servants. Thus they would always know when he was on his way and could keep the show going for just as long as needed and nothing more. Adanais had no problems with these situations, he would participate with both zeal and glee and Maglor had to admit that he had been trained very well. Feng had indeed brought items, and now the use of certain toys were a part of the orgies and enabled most of them to just lay there and be passive while one or two of them actually did anything. The books Feng brought was on the other hand something which made even Adanais gape. The books were old and valuable and showed couples in positions seemingly humanly impossible. Feng were grinning like mad when Demetry and Aodh tried one of the odd ones and had to be helped since Aodh’s hip locked itself up and Demetry overstretched his knee.

 

Abu and Abebe learned more instruments and as the weeks went by they became very good at playing. Maglor taught them and he found that the odd sound of the metal drums did fit some of his songs rather well. He was constantly trying to explore the local music, just to learn something new and he did sing a lot. His voice had returned to its former glory and now he could move people to tears with just a short song. He did also explore the songs in a new way, what if he too could sing like his relatives had? It had to be investigated.

 

The shows went very well and the Sha’al rarely let his followers borrow them these days, he was too busy with the preparations for a swift war to listen to their pleas and Maglor and the others were just glad. News told of battles and the bandits obviously fled whenever the troops showed up but they did attack again, in different locations. It was a cat and mouse game and the Sha’al was spending more and more resources on the campaign. After a while it became clear that the people by now had turned away from their ruler, few supported him and even fewer would volunteer for the army.

 

Then one evening as Maglor and Adanais were practicing some moves for a performance Feng came running in through the door, visibly distraught. Maglor felt how a cold chill ran down his spine, what could this be? Something bad for sure!

Feng did toss back a huge glass of wine like it was water and then he coughed and wiped his mouth with his sleeve. “By every ancestor, trouble is brewing”

 

Maglor swallowed. “Oh? What is wrong?”

 

Feng did pant and rolled his eyes, it did look rather insane. “What is wrong? The shit just hit the fan as we used to say in the courts of old, the slave who carries the Sha’al’s offspring just lost her baby”

 

Maglor gaped. “Really? But…what will the queen do then? She cannot keep pretending to be pregnant now?”

 

Feng wiped his forehead and sighed. “Listen, I have bought one of the queens personal slaves right? Sparkling flower has no idea that I work for her father and if she does find out, oh my goodness, she will cause us huge problems. The thing is, the queen is really pregnant”

 

Adenais just frowned but Maglor felt his heart turn around in his chest, at least it felt that way. “Oh Eru, that is bad!”

 

Feng nodded. “To say the least yes, she is about five months on the way, three months less than she really ought to be, and I don’t think that anyone, even she herself, knows who the father is”

 

Maglor swallowed hard. “Five months, it is five months since Aerhan and Aodh had to…entertain her and her ladies in waiting”

 

Feng made a nasty grimace, his face wrinkled up like a raisin. “So it is a chance that Aerhan or Aodh could be the father, and if that gets out….Then we are all screwed, the Sha’al is viciously jealous of any males who comes near his females. He will have us all executed if she gives birth to a black baby, or one with blue eyes.”

 

Maglor felt faint, dizzy. “Isn’t there any other female slaves who are due to give birth at the right time? Most people in this region look pretty much the same.”

 

Feng shrugged. “She does already have people looking for someone who can be persuaded to give up an infant for a huge amount of money but I doubt that it will work. A daughter perhaps but not a son, and she needs a son. “

 

Adanais frowned. “And even if she manages to buy a baby she will still be pregnant right? Unless she decides to remove the baby?”

 

Feng shook his head. “No, she won’t do that. A sister of hers died after having had an abortion, she is terrified of such a procedure.”

 

Maglor scoffed. “I thought she was using herbs to prevent such mishaps`”

 

Feng nodded, with a rather vicious smile. “Yes, but the stupid mare forgot that herbs lose their potency if stored for too long. You have to increase the dose, which she didn’t.”

 

Maglor felt the need to do a face palm. “So now what?”

 

Feng tried to look calm but he still  had a wild expression within his eye. “The queen will pretend to go over her due date, claim that it is normal in her family or that it is because of her royal blood or due to a curse or something like that. I bet the court astrologist will back her up, claiming that a son born at her due date will be weak and die. “

 

Adanais frowned, he looked as if he was thinking very hard. “Back where I was from there was a herb we used on goats which were due to drop their kids during the droughts. It made the unborn kid develop slower so they could be born in the wet season instead. If the queen claims to have used something like that…to ensure that her son is born at the astrologically correct date?”

 

Feng just stared, then he leaned forth and planted a huge wet kiss on Adanais mouth, the orange blonde looked absolutely horrified. “Thank you, thank you, praised be thy father’s goats, they have bought us some time!”

 

He got up, shaking with zeal.” I have to tell that slave of this, she can give the queen the idea and claim it to be her own. I hate to help that selfish little wench but if it gives us four more months it will be a blessing”

 

Adanais shrugged. “It could be that the baby looks like the Sha’al after all? If she has fucked some of her own guards it could be one of them who is the father and they are black haired with olive skin and brown eyes, just like the Sha’al?”

 

Feng sent the man a nervous smile. “Of course, and most likely that is the case but we cannot be sure now can we? “

 

Feng did turn around and ran off like a rabbit out of a hole and Maglor leaned back against the pillows. His head hurt and he felt horribly tired of all this, it was madness. Four months, what could they possibly do in four months? He had no idea, and if the baby was born black and just one of the ladies in waiting did speak? He grasped onto Adanais hand and prayed the valar for guidance, something had to be done, but what?

 

Adanais sighed and made a grimace. “There is just one solution to this my friend, either murder the queen before she gives birth or bribe each and every one of her slaves, ladies in waiting and guards”

 

Maglor moaned. “Are you insane, we are speaking about at least two hundred people? All so terrified of her they probably have to be tortured to betray her.”

 

Adenais smiled. “I am used to courtly intrigues, trust me. You cannot buy them all off at once, but one at a time, discretely, they have to believe that you are telling the real truth, and that the things they have seen or experienced is a lie. People are odd like that, memories can be changed”

 

Maglor tensed up, he held his breath, could it be done? Adanais stared at him. “For a moment there you looked sinister, what are you thinking of?”

 

Maglor got up, clenching his fists. “I may have the power to influence people’s minds. Through song. But I am not sure if I am strong enough, or how to do it efficiently.”

 

Adanais shrugged. “Then try, Feng and I can try the more mundane way of bribery while you use your elven magic or whatever it is. We have four months, no more”

 

Maglor closed his eyes and sighed. He had to discover his true power then, and time was running fast, way too fast.

 

 

 

 

 

Thy voice is thy weapon by Nuredhel

Chapter 12: Thy voice is thy weapon…

 

It was Harbal who came up with the solution, and it was a very smart one too. Since he was the best physician around he was the one who would be called upon if someone got sick and so he managed to convince the Sha’al and his men that someone had brought a communal disease into the harem. Everybody had to be checked for it was very contagious and only a trained doctor could treat it. The Sha’al had panicked for he was terrified of illness and gave Harbal free reins and he would check every human being within the palace and Maglor would sit in the background playing his harp, singing softly.

 

The odd thing was that it in fact was needed, Harbal did find quite a lot of filth and did take his job seriously too, he prescribed treatments and acted just the way he was supposed to, Maglor was just there to soothe the patients and he did sing in his own language. He had discovered that it didn’t matter what language you used when trying the songs of power. He had trained and tested it for more than two weeks and he had found that yes, humans were susceptible to the method. He slowly changed the memories of those present at the orgy, made them believe that only the slaves had laid with the two dancers. He had no way of getting to the queen herself but if she knew her own good she wouldn’t protest if her child was born with dark skin and the slaves claimed that a guard or someone like that had to be the father.

The harem was a rather busy place these days, Feng was training them in his technique and they also had the performances to prepare for so everybody were kept busy the entire time. Maglor and Aodh had implemented a sort of mock sword fight in the dance and it was a great success.

 

 But the Sha’al was not slowing down in any manner, he was still partying hard every night and the contacts said he even fucked some of his concubines now. Feng had obviously managed to manipulate his appetites and Maglor did pity the poor women. But the Sha’al didn’t care about who he hurt or how, as long as he managed to fulfil his needs. It was very apparent that Feng had contacts and they got daily reports each night, carefully hidden in the bottom of a jar of oil Feng used to smear onto them all. He was after all the emperor’s man and shared the news with the rest of the men there. Abu and Abebe were the ones who didn’t really understand the severity of it all, they were too young so they were spared from the worst. The sha’al had spent too much money lately, way too much. They said the vaults were almost empty now and the taxes had been raised several times. The result was that the caravans no longer came to the city, and some of the rich noblemen moved away with all of their wealth.

 

The governing of this country was falling apart and Feng said that the Sha’al’s father had been a bastard just like his son but at least he had owned some practical sense and had been very smart when it came to economy. Now his son was emptying out the storages once built painstakingly over decades and nobody managed to convince the Sha’al of the severity of his deeds. The crops had failed for two years now, due to a very bad drought and the emperor had kindly offered to send some of his economic counsellors to the Sha’al to help him prepare for the famine which was sure to come. The sha’al declined, using a language which would have made a less civilized ruler demand his head on a platter.

 

Maglor was sometimes allowed to leave the harem once again, and what he saw shocked him. He was still being followed by a horde of guards and Feng of course did accompany him but he used his eyes and the city had changed a lot over just a short year. The poverty was everywhere now, and the liveliness of the city had been choked by a sensation of impending doom. And the Sha’al was no longer being praised by the people, Maglor saw them whisper prayers which seemingly were made to make sure that the Sha’al’s rule would last forever but Feng did whisper to him that some subtle nuances changed the meaning of the prayers completely. And also his guards had started to feel the pressure now, the salaries had dropped a lot, some of their privileges removed and rumours told that some already had deserted.

Maglor knew that this realm by now was like a giant on legs made from clay and they all just waited for the rain to wash them away from under it.

The queen had taken the idea of the herb to her heart and the child was due to be born exactly when the astrologist said it would be most beneficial. The Sha’al swallowed the lie with hook line and sinker and he wanted a strong son so he did praise her initiative. Harbal did also do his outmost to convince everybody of the fact that Aerhan and Aodh both preferred males and were incapable of sleeping with a female. When the Sha’al came to watch an orgy Harbal gave them some drugs which prevented them from getting an erection when there were females present and both did their best to convince him that they only found men attractive. The Sha’al did buy that too, and Maglor let out a huge sigh of relief. He wasn’t sure if his songs had managed to convince everyone in the queen’s court of the “truth”.

 

But as the threat of a bankruptcy crept closer the Sha’al brought more and more followers to his parties and Feng said he tried to buy the loyalty of these men, in every manner possible.  Now the followers were allowed to touch the males from the collection during the parties and some even fucked them, right there and then. Maglor was still off limits for the followers, but Adanais and the others were not and Harbal was so angry he almost shat bricks. One of the noblemen had given Aerhan crabs and another was so brutal towards Rial and Kenar both were unable to perform for many days afterwards. Feng told them to be patient, to stay calm but it was hard. Maglor spent one evening sitting on the lap of some man with a huge boil on his cheek and the human did smell so bad he almost retched but he did manage to smile and act like he was flirting, although it cost him a lot. The atmosphere within the realm did effect everybody and everything, slaves were being punished more severely now and Feng told them he had seen many being whipped to death. And at one party the Sha’al had two of his concubines drowned in wine barrels, right in front of the guests. Apparently they had failed to bow deeply enough one time he came by. Everybody was walking on needles now, the Sha’al was acting more and more like a spoiled child and he demanded the most horrific things from his loyal men. He seemed to believe that he was some sort of deity and deserved to be worshiped and many claimed that the nobility of the city now tried to avoid coming to the parties. It was no longer seen as a shortcut to power but a shortcut to being robbed of everything you owned and loved.

 

The Sha’al had become a true tyrant and Maglor did feel chills run down his back whenever he laid eyes on the human, something was simply wrong within that man’s soul. One of the noblemen refused to give the Sha’al all of his precious thoroughbred horses and as a punishment the Sha’al sent men to his palace and gathered all his daughters and wives and sisters and all the women were brutally raped in front of the crowd at a festival. Most of them died afterwards and the nobleman committed suicide even if that was seen as a mortal sin by this people. But the queens due date was approaching fast and the Sha’al was very excited now, he was sure he would have a strong son, one who would be worthy of being his heir and he kept bragging the whole time about his virility. Feng said the queen was suffering a lot, she was not prepared for a pregnancy and the problems a pregnant woman may encounter had descended upon her with a vengeance. She could barely move and Feng said the royal midwife was worried, the queen’s baby bump was too large and some had seen two dead doves fall from the skies and land on the roof of the palace wing where the queen lived. It was a very bad omen and the atmosphere was extremely tense as the big day got closer.

 

Maglor was still afraid that the queen would give birth to a black baby, if she did little could save Aerhan in spite of everything they had done, the Sha’al would most likely execute every black male within the palace and Harbal had prepared. He had made some poison which worked very fast in case things went to hell, if Aerhan or Aodh were accused of having slept with the queen he would assure that they didn’t suffer. The poison would give symptoms of a heart attack so nobody could be blamed. Maglor just kept praying every day and the Sha’al did more and more resemble some huge and obnoxious monster haunting his dreams. Feng made sure that the Sha’al remained vigorous and now some of the concubines too were with child. They would of course not become heirs to the throne since they were born out of wedlock but the Sha’al only got his own superiority confirmed thus and he was acting worse than ever before.

 

The perversities which before had been kept hidden were now shown openly, he demanded orgies during the parties and many of the followers were aghast since they too had to participate and some of them were in fact religious and saw the coupling of male to male as a sin. He kept loosing support and the males of the collection were hoping that he would just drop dead, it would solve many problems. But no, he kept going, sent more and more of the country’s men to war and he didn’t care that the aquifers were running dry. The palace used an insane amount of water every day, it was thousands upon thousands of gallons of it and the rest of the realm had barely a drop left to spare.

 

Then the queen went into labor and the palace was in a state of lock down, to prevent anyone from possibly stealing the Sha’al’s new heir. Feng had gathered the males of the collection and they were sitting in one of the smaller rooms, everybody feeling nervous. Aodh and Aerhan sat in the middle of the group, both pale and scared and Harbal had been called to help with the birth. It took a long time, they sat there for more than a day, sweating and shaking and Maglor just knew that something was off. When Harbal returned to the harem he was covered with blood and his eyes were huge and he was pale. At first everybody feared that worst, that the baby indeed was born with black skin but the old doctor sat down and he was shaking all over. The queen was alive but the infant was not, that was bad enough but the worst was that the child had been deformed.

 

Harbal said that the baby was born with a terribly misshapen head. It had been flat and small and the infant had a cleft palate too so it looked almost monstrous. And it had a tail, and the hands and feet looked like claws and it had most of its guts on the outside of the body, the heart included. It couldn’t have lived, and everybody in the room had entered a state of complete panic. Even the midwife said it was black magic, that someone had cursed the queen and the Sha’al had exploded with rage.

 

Maglor felt a huge relief, Aerhan was safe but what now? The effect was almost instantaneous. The queen was suddenly seen as a burden, as dangerous and the Sha’al did divorce her and she was actually put into a small cell and the door bricked shut. She could receive food and water but nothing more and if it hadn’t been for her father the Sha’al would have burned her alive. But many of her court ladies were to suffer that fate and all her slaves. Some were drawn and quartered and the Sha’al did surpass himself when it came to grotesque torture. He was convinced that someone within the court had cursed the queen and caused the baby to become a monster and now someone had to pay. The palace did resound of screams for several days, even some of the guards were put to death since someone said they had liked the queen a little too well, and when the madness did subside the Sha’al had ordered the execution of at least four hundred people. The bodies were placed on stakes around the palace walls and the stench was horrible.

 

Feng got nervous, the emperor had to be told of this, Sparkling flower was after all his daughter and he was bound by his honour and had to avenge her and possibly rescue her too. The Sha’al would stand no chance if the emperor decided to attack, and everybody held their breaths. The Sha’al had tipped over into madness now, he still demanded parties and orgies and now he developed an eerie fascination with blood and strangulation which made even Feng shocked. They waited for the emperor but what descended upon the city was the plague. It came fast, and with horrible effect and the death toll within the city reached epic scales just after a few days. The plague had probably arrived with some new slaves brought in by a caravan and the Sha’al went mad with fear. He had bought some of the slaves and some had been placed within the harem too, he was horrified and isolated himself completely. He forced his favourite men to spend the time with him and that included his sons in law.

 

Nobody was to enter the rooms and they all bathed in honey and donkey milk each day for someone had said that it could counteract the plague. Harbal gave all the men of the collection a strange concoction, it made sure that none of them got ill but others did fall ill and die with horrible boils everywhere and in intense agony. Harbal was everywhere these days, he told them that only the priestesses of the temple were safe, they kept cats and used the same medicine and the population of the city was suffering horribly. The Sha’al ignored them, he closed the palace gates, stopped the distribution of food for the poor and left the country to its destiny. The result was that desperate people gathered before the walls, screaming and cursing the Sha’al and he sat there in his isolated rooms and drank and partied and pretended to be a God. But the plague spares nobody, his sons in law did succumb to it one by one, then his other followers and the Sha’al ventured into absolute madness. He demanded human sacrifice now, as if he was some monstrous deity fed by the blood of the innocent and every day some slave was dragged in front of the closed doors and cut down. He thought that the blood would protect him.

 

The palace was becoming more and more like a madhouse, nobody dared to do anything except lay low and bodies were dragged out almost every day. The plague was the worst kind, it was very contagious and more than half of the ones who got ill died fast. Those who did survive envied the dead for they were often left scarred and weakened and by now there was hardly food nor water to be found anywhere. Desperate people attacked the palace walls every day and got shot at by the guards but that didn’t stop them at all. Feng and Harbal worked continuously to keep the men of the collection safe, the Sha’al was so mad now he may demand some of them sacrificed and Feng said that the man had lost whatever wits he once had. Why he hadn’t gotten the plague yet was a mystery but Harbal said that the man probably was among the few immune to that particular disease. It was ironic but true.

 

The queen was alive still, suffering a lot yes, but the few slaves who dared to move around did tell Feng that she hoped her father would come to her rescue, and that kept her going. The males of the collection had isolated themselves now, the luxury they were used to almost gone and fear was their constant companion. They would all sleep in the same room, huddled up like puppies in a basket and Maglor would hold onto whoever lay close to him and try to pretend that things were good, and that they were safe.

 

The plague died down, after about two weeks of absolute mayhem, a merchant who managed to get access to the palace told them that the plague had come from an oasis along the caravan route. There was a colony of marmots there and in desperation some had started hunting them and thus gotten infected. The disease didn’t normally harm the animals but it was lethal to people and  it had spread to rodents and birds and thus gotten into every building in the city. Now the rain did return, and it washed the streets clean and brought new hope and the Sha’al believed that he was the reason why the gods suddenly showed such pity. He still demanded sacrifice and if it hadn’t been for a small group of loyal and very ruthless guards everybody would have fled the palace and left him to simmer in his own insanity.

 

The city was recovering and Maglor and the others were getting more nervous than ever before for who could challenge the Sha’al now? He was mad as a hatter and couldn’t be trusted for a second. Then the news came, the emperors forces were on the way and at first the Sha’al just laughed at it. He believed that they came to help him fight the bandits who by now had simply vanished into thin air. Then he believed that they came to help them rebuild and get things back into order and it wasn’t until one of the emperors generals rode up to the palace gate with a letter from the emperor that he realized what this was. The letter was demanding his complete surrender and that the queen was to be returned to her father unharmed and that the city and the realm from now on was to be a part of the emperors lands. The Sha’al went ballistic with rage, he was roaring like an animal and the palace was shut off completely. It was built almost like a fortress and could be defended and suddenly the Sha’al was under siege.

 

The emperors troops made his army look like toy soldiers, what little resistance they met was merely symbolic and the city was conquered without any bloodshed. The people were beside themselves with relief, some spread flowers under the hooves of the horses the emperor’s soldiers rode and others were singing hymns to his praise. The troops had brought supplies, food, water and medicine and it was distributed and the city transformed as the Sha’al still sat there in his palace, stubborn like a donkey. He was convinced that his army would be victorious and nobody dared to tell him that his army no longer existed. Most of the men had deserted and some had switched side too. The army of the emperor was well equipped, had discipline and was well paid too and most of all, the soldiers were treated like human beings, not things. The emperor had sent one of his most powerful men to take over the rule of this realm, Feng said he was wise, just and very kind but also hard when he had to be and the palace had been under siege for days now. There was no food left, little water and everybody were suffering. Maglor didn’t need much of anything but the others had started to feel the stress and Harbal was nervous. They had gathered rainwater but it didn’t last long and the emperors troops started to attack the palace actively with catapults and a ballista. Feng gave a damn about the Sha’al’s orders, he took the men of the collection with him into hidden rooms in the basement and they were safe there. They would have to stay there until the Sha’al was captured and his reign ended.

 

The Sha’al still believed that he could escape and he did something incredibly stupid. He did send his wife back to her father’s emissary but not before he had raped her and then let all of his guards do the same before they cut her hair and blinded her. That was the final straw, the troops had brought special soldiers who were trained as assassins and they had no problems entering the castle over the roofs and killing the guards. They avoided the traps easily for Feng had sent messages telling the emissary of them and the Sha’al was dragged out of the rooms he had barred kicking and screaming.

 

The men of the collection were allowed to get up from the basement and some of the warriors brought them food and water and Maglor was so relieved he almost wept. Most of the others did weep and the feeling of euphoria was almost unbelievable. They were safe, the reign of terror had ended and for the first time in years they had hope. Feng made sure that they could return to the harem and their rooms and before long they had all the luxury they had missed and now they were no longer locked in. The Sha’al was kept in a cell until further notice and the emissary was officially announced as the new ruler of this realm, on behalf of the emperor himself. The people welcomed him wholeheartedly and Maglor did see that this man was nothing like the Sha’al. He had a keen intelligence and he also had an understanding of other people’s thoughts and emotions which was almost uncanny.

 

When the palace was back in its old order the new ruler ordered a huge victory feast and for the first time they all looked forward to a party. Thasul and Feng made sure that they all looked amazing and the feast was so different from what they had experienced before it was hard to compare it with the Sha’al’s mad orgies. Now they just danced and sang and entertained and they were admired and respected and nobody tried to grope at them or shout obscenities. Maglor saw that many found his presence there shocking, now most of the people present were from the emperors court and they had never seen an elf before and he was warned by Feng that many would want to talk to him and learn more of his people. But the joy they all felt was deep and profound and Mhoy Hang as the new ruler was named said that there would be a trial where the Sha’al would have to pay for his crimes. Maglor fell asleep in the arms of Aodh that night, happy and relaxed and for the first time in months he didn’t dream of Artemar but of his brothers. He had no idea of what that meant but he knew that things would look much brighter from now on.

 

The trial was held a few days later, the men of the collection were treated like professionals now, as employees more than slaves and thus they were allowed to go where they wanted. Maglor and the others were watching from a veranda and the Sha’al was dragged out in front of Mhoy Hang naked and in chains. The man was shouting cuss words and obscenities but nobody cared. He was no longer one they feared, he was something they loathed. The emperor had been told of his daughter’s fate, she would survive but was damaged for life and the response was one they all had expected. The Sha’al was to die but everybody was eager to find out how. It ought to be spectacular and frightening and even though the emperor was renowned for being very merciful and humane this was a case where he had to show strength and determination to remain respected. The punishment was one nobody there had even heard of before, it was so bad it made even Maglor cringe for he doubted that even Morgoth would have been so cruel. The Sha’al was smeared all over with honey, and a small boat was brought forth. He was tied into the boat on his back and then they pushed a rather thick tube up his arse so he couldn’t control his bowels. This made the man scream and howl in agony and few if any showed any signs of feeling pity. The boat was then covered with canvas and only the man’s head did stick out and they force fed him a mixture of sweet beer and honey. Then the boat was left in the sun.

 

The guards did give the Sha’al more beer to drink, and kept feeding him honey and as the day went by he had to relieve himself and now the true horror of this punishment showed itself. He was laying in his own filth, which attracted flies. And soon the boat was buzzing with them, and the flies attracted other bugs and the man was screaming in desperation since the insects started to lay their eggs on him. Snakes were coming in from the basements to hunt the mice which were tempted by the scent of the honey and where there is mice there is rats, and there were some holes in the boat through which the rodents could enter. The man was prevented from dying from thirst, but he did die slowly and horribly due to the bugs and the rats eating him alive while the temperature also cooked him. Many walked by and spat on the man and Maglor and the others also paid him a visit. Maglor had sworn that he would kill the Sha’al, now he just stepped back for nothing he did could ever serve justice as well as this.

The man was alive for more than a week, he was fat and large and stronger than one would have expected and thus he lasted for a long time. The last days he lay there moaning and begging for mercy and some came with more mice and rats and more honey which they poured into the holes. One man even brought a whole jar or ants and dropped it into the boat. When ten days had gone the Sha’al was unconscious, he was bloated and stinking and his body was more or less dissolving itself so Mhoy Hang ordered one of his guards to kill the man the way they killed sick or injured cattle, by hammering a chisel through the forehead and into the brain.

 

Afterwards the boat was thrown into a dry riverbed where it was left to rot along with its disgusting content. The Sha’al’s reign had ended and now there were officials everywhere, trying to repair some of the damage the Sha’al had caused. The aquifers were empty so people were brought in to build aqueducts and pipelines and some started to rebuild the buildings which had fallen into disrepair. The temples were renovated and the palace buzzed with activity. Maglor and the others had little to do these days, they just trained and relaxed and soon they realized that Feng was right when he said that they would be regarded as very precious by their new master. Artists of any sort were held in high regard by the emperor for art was what separated man from beast and Feng was being told that some new teachers would arrive soon to teach the men some new skills they would need.  This time they all looked forward to learning something new and when Maglor did sing now it was songs of joy, of hope for a better tomorrow.

 

The last remnants of the Sha’als rule were removed, his insignia erased and his palace was to be completely rebuilt to better suit the new ruler. Mhoy Hang did call the men of the collection to him one evening, and he managed to impress them all with his kindness and polite way of addressing them all. Mhoy was not very tall but he was very elegant and perhaps somewhere in his fifties but he did look younger and his hair was very long and braided carefully. Maglor did notice that he had very long fingernails and Feng explained that it was a sign of prestige. If you did physical labour it would be impossible to follow that fashion so it showed that the person was of high status. The Sha’al’s concubines were freed, each and every one of them. Some were in fact pregnant and they were taken to the emperor’s court to be taken care of until their babies were born, after that they could choose what to do with their lives. The wives were sent to the emperors own harem to serve there and the collection of pretty young men was also dissolved. Most of the male slaves were given the choice of joining the army and most of them did grasp that opportunity with glee.

 

There would never be people peeping from behind the walls again, and that was a freedom in itself. The collection would not be ended though, but their tasks had changed a lot and it was odd but it wasn’t until now, when they were safe, that they all realized that they had been living in absolute horror for years. The weight of their destiny had lain on top of them the entire time until they had become blind to it and only now when it was gone could they fully appreciate this new life. But they all were scarred, for some reasons quite a few of them started having breakdowns and Harbal called it belated stress. The body didn’t have the opportunity to react while the danger was there but when it was over the reactions burst forth. Rial and Kenar still slept together, for they had gotten so used to it they no longer managed to stay apart. Abu and Abebe were terrified that the ghost of the Sha’al would return to haunt them and Kherfem had horrible nightmares every night. Noolar would spend entire days in the pool, frantically scrubbing away at imaginary stains on his skins and then he would collapse into exhausted tears. Maglor found it hard to understand but the human mind was probably more complicated than that of an elf.

 

Adanais was the one with the worst reactions, he would go completely catatonic and just sit there, staring into nothing, trembling all over. Harbal said they all needed to cleanse themselves from the terrors they had been trough and the mind needed time to do that. Mhoy sent them all off to one of the Sha’al’s summer palaces in an oasis a day’s ride from the city, and the change of environment was like a breath of fresh air. They were still slaves, at least on paper and they couldn’t leave but they were able to at least pretend that they were free men. Here they could just relax and enjoy the luxury and Maglor and some of the guards did take long rides through the desert. The Sha’al had owned a huge collection of the best horses ever bred in the country and Maglor had been given a few too, from admiring noblemen. Now he finally had access to them and he was amazed by these lovely animals. Most of them were grey or white and they had a dish shaped face with huge eyes and wide nostrils and they seemed to fly over the sand. He had barely ridden better horses ever and his control of the animals made Feng suggest that he could help the emperor chose the best animals for further breeding. Horse breeding was big business also in the emperor’s realm and it was said that there was a breed even better than this one, and that these animals were made from gold and was sweating blood. The emperor was trying desperately to get his hands on some but he had failed so far.

 

The evenings were dark and warm here, and they spent them with song and dance and now Aodh started to think about asking for permission to return home. It was a thought which never left his mind and Maglor knew that the emperor probably would allow the man to return home but he feared what Aodh would find. It had been so long since he was taken, and even if his family was alive getting back north was dangerous and a very long journey. The rest of them uttered no such wishes, they had been there so long they all felt that they belonged within the collection. They had no other home and they were all part of this odd brotherhood now. The idea of the emperor breaking them apart was terrible and even Maglor felt that he preferred this now. He had an odd sensation of waiting for something, but he had no idea of what that could be.

 

Then one day a priestess entered the palace, and everybody was in shock for what was a holy woman doing there? Maglor and the men of the collection was having a late breakfast when she entered and even the guards bowed down with their faces turned towards the floor. The woman was perhaps somewhere in her late forties, rather voluptuous and she had shaved her head except from one long braid at the back of her head. She was naked, not even wearing any sorts of jewellery but she was covered head to toe with gold dust and odd patterns had been drawn onto her skin in black and bright blue. Her eyes were bright blue, and it was most peculiar since she obviously was of the race indigenous to this region and they had dark eyes. The priestess stared at them and she had a tiny smile on her face, a huge black cat was following her and the animal purred and stared at the men with golden eyes. Harbal was bowing so deep his forehead almost hit the floor and even Feng bowed his head in respect. The woman sat down in a chair and Maglor could only compare her to a queen, full of regal elegance and power. “ I am Iatha, just that. It means the enlightened one, I am a seer”

 

Harbal was swallowing, his eyes large with reverence. “We are honoured by your presence”

 

Iatha cocked her head. “The Sha’al was like a boil on the arse of this world, and I am in awe of the fact that you all have managed to survive him. He was evil, but also stupid”

 

Feng had to grin. “That sums him up pretty neatly yes”

 

Iatha smiled and the black cat walked over to Maglor and started to rub itself up against his legs. “I have come to share my visions with you, I have seen much and I will give you this gift for you all deserve it. “

 

They all fell silent, staring at the woman who elegantly crossed her legs and tilted her head, she had a catlike elegance and Maglor realized that cats were sacred to these worshipers of the great Goddess. She let her gaze wander over them. “You will all serve the emperor, and serve him well. He is nothing like the Sha’al and for  most of you the future looks bright. There is happiness to come, even love. You have little to fear”

 

Aodh swallowed visibly, his eyes downcast and his face a bit pale. “Most revered one, will I ever return to my family?”

 

The woman looked at him with sadness in her eyes. “You have two choices my friend, two possible futures. You can chose to return to your home in the north or you can chose to stay here”

 

Aodh frowned. “And what will happen if I chose to return home?”

 

The woman sent him a small smile, it was melancholic. “You will die, and many others with you. You will meet your children yet again but you may bring doom to everyone you know up there. If you stay here you will never see them again, but they will live, and have children of their own and your blood will live on”

 

Aodh was pale, his eyes large and dark. Maglor had to embrace him, to show his support and understanding. Iatha sighed. “You all will live long and prosperous lives within the emperors court, if you chose to serve him.”

 

Everybody looked at each other, it was good news indeed and some sighed with obvious relief. She stared at Maglor. “You on the other hand, you are of the eternal,, your path leads to places far from here but the lifespan of a human is but a blink of an eye to you. Much will crumble and fall and empires will rise and fall before your task is fulfilled”

 

Maglor felt nervous. “What task are you talking about?”

 

She smiled, the smile was almost sinister in a way.” The reason you are here, nothing happens by coincidence beautiful one, we all have a role to play. “

 

Maglor frowned. “I was destined to be here?”

 

She nodded, the cat came over and jumped into her lap, purring. “Yes, everything happens for a reason son of fire. I have this to say to you”

 

She closed her eyes and her voice suddenly dropped, it sounded as if someone else was speaking through her mouth and the effect was horrifying. “The one who followed will lead, the nine deceived will bleed. The one forged in fire betrays all upon which the eye rests, and forth the wave will spring, bringing deception and lies. Beware the bringer of false gifts, for his words are poison and his gaze that of a serpent. The eye will find these realms, and covet them. “

 

Maglor stared, he understood close to naught of this and the woman smiled slowly, her eyes dark. “There will be a day when you will see the meaning of this, stay here in the east son of fire, and prepare. Make these realms strong, make them prepare to resist. The deceiver will return, and with him darkness and despair”

 

Maglor felt his stomach drop, he knew she was speaking the truth and she smiled again, got back up. She made a gesture and suddenly she held a small packet in her hand, it hadn’t been there before and where it came from was anybody’s guess. She handed it over to Maglor, it was heavy and cold and he frowned. Iatha caressed his hand. “You miss him my friend, and no, you will never find another love quite like him but one day you may come across his spirit once more. The soul of a human has to face many lives to be complete, look for the one carrying a turquoise bracelet.”

 

Maglor blinked, his heart made jump in his chest. “What? But…when?”

 

She turned around, prepared to leave. “Many ages of men will pass before your paths will cross beautiful one, and no, that person will not know. But you will recognize that soul, even if the body is different”

 

He felt an odd sensation of relief and yet he also felt despair. How would it be to yet again face Artemar, but as a completely different person? She gestured to the cat which sprang up onto her shoulder and she left without saying another word. Harbal cleared his voice. “We have been blessed guys, the priestesses rarely seek out people to tell their future.”

 

Maglor had to sit down, what he had been told had shocked him but he already knew that she was telling the truth. Aodh was still pale and he grasped a jug of wine and emptied it rather vigorously. Maglor walked over and hugged him again, Aodh sobbed. “ I can never see them again now can I? but I can live knowing that they will be safe”

 

Maglor nodded and Harbal clapped his hands. “Friends, this is a lot to digest but we have things to do. We cannot skip training just because of this little visit, no matter how welcome it was. Come on, we have to stay sharp”

 

Everybody got up and followed Feng, he was as usual very impatient and forced them through some rather difficult routines but he did also praise them when they did things the right way. Maglor had a hard time concentrating, he remembered the battles of old, when he had fought alongside other elven warriors, trying to defeat the great enemy. He had survived when Beleriand sank beneath the waves but he had had no contact with his people since that terrible day when he had thrown the Silmaril into the sea. He knew that Morgoth was conquered but evil rarely rests and it is hard to eradicate. He feared for the future of middle earth.

 

That evening they all dined by the pool and when they were finished two men entered the harem. Feng introduced them as teachers and Maglor sensed that these two had several roles. One was very old and frail, he was being carried by two servants and he was obviously unable to walk for his legs were crippled and seemed to be almost dead. His name was Hoy Yan and he was to teach them all how to follow the strict etiquette of the court. He was also a master of poetry and Feng explained that poetry was seen as the highest form of art. The other man was much younger and he did look very feminine, as a matter of fact they first almost believed that he was a woman, a rather flat chested one but the face was very beautiful and he wore makeup. His name was Rhabay and he was to teach them the ways of the theatre, since women were prohibited from being actresses  all female roles had to be played by men and thus everyone had to learn how to move and behave in a feminine manner. Noolar looked delighted and Maglor felt a sting of joy seeing this. For someone like Noolar this had to be like a dream come true. After the introductions Rhabay divided them into two groups, the ones able to play female roles and the ones who just couldn’t because they were too masculine and Maglor ended up in the last category with Aerhan, Kherfem and Aodh. He was beautiful but way too tall. Rhabay did show them some small tricks and it made most of them laugh and when Rial and Kenar tried to copy him that made everybody break into tears of laughter. Even Demetry had problems staying serious even though he usually was able to keep calm no matter what.

 

That night they were singing and laughing and drinking and Maglor had way too much to drink. He and Aodh ended up in bed together and they spent some very passionate hours there before they both passed out due to fatigue and alcohol. Maglor suddenly knew he was dreaming, he was sitting on a horse in the desert and the animal was shining like it was made from metal, it was pawing the ground, eager to go. In the north there was a huge cloud covering the horizon and as he sat there it grew, got darker and darker and a foul stench of sulphur and death filled the air. The air cracked and a wind started to pick up the sand, yet it was calm around him, as if he was an island in the middle of the eye of a storm. Then the skies caught fire, flames reached towards the heavens and in the middle of it all he saw a dark figure, shaped like a man and yet it was no man but something way more terrible. A horrible weight fell upon him, like it was trying to push his very fëa to the ground and the dark figure changed its shape into an eye, a giant flaming eye staring directly at him. He could not hide, could not run and a ghastly voice kept chanting in black speech, words he never had heard before but he knew their meaning. The eye didn’t blink, didn’t waver and he felt the voice in his head. “You cannot hide from me spawn of the fallen one, I will rule, I will conquer and the world will end in flames!”

 

Maglor jerked and he felt a hand on his shoulder, it was cool and held such power but it was a gentle power, one with benign intention. The hand was almost covered by a blue sleeve and he couldn’t turn his head to see who it was. “Remember what your father taught you, remember who you are. Your voice is your weapon, and yet you wield one even more terrible, one yet discovered. We will meet son of Fëanor, until then gather influence, gather power, and before all else, remember!”

 

Maglor opened his eyes with a yell and Aodh grunted and work up too. He rubbed his eyes and yawned. “What is the matter? Is the Sha’al giving you nightmares?”

 

Maglor just panted, he tried to control his breathing. Now he knew what she had meant, now he knew what would arise in the north. “No, something worse, way way worse my friend”

 

Aodh tried to grin, his eyes already glassy with sleep again. “I find that hard to believe, who could possibly be worse than the Sha’al? “

 

Maglor leant back into the pillows, his head spinning. “Sauron, our enemy will awaken yet again!”

 

He stared up at the roof and knew that yes, he did really have a task ahead of him, to prevent the lands of the east from falling into enemy hands. And it was a task he couldn’t fail at, for if he did the world was doomed.

Memories of time unknown by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

Maglor is to discover taht there is a prize to pay for fame

 

 

Chapter 13: Memories of time unknown

 

 

The city changed, at first it was subtle and not really visible but then it was as if an avalanche had been released and the place appeared to be quite different from one day to the next. Harbal and Feng said it was because people finally truly realized that the Sha’al was gone and now there was a new freedom and new hope. From being a place of terror and dread it became a city filled with a new sense of optimism and energy. They saw it every day, shops opened up, new people arrived and with them goods and new ideas. Maglor and the other males from the collection were allowed to visit the city now, whenever they weren’t busy and even though they had some guards following them it only felt safe, not oppressive. There were still pick pockets and beggars around and the gorgeous men did draw a fair amount of attention. Many knew who they were, that they had been the Sha’al’s most priced possessions and they were shown both reverence and the opposite. Maglor did cover himself up now, he would wear a thin face veil and keep his ears hidden, his height couldn’t be hidden that well though and many recognized him.

 

The city became wealthy again over  night or so it seemed, nobody had dared to bring their stuff there because of the extreme taxes and the threat of everything being taken by the Sha’al but now merchants arrived from all over the world and you could buy everything you could ever want. The emperor did do his best to boost trade and commerce and even though he did tax everybody he didn’t demand anything from those who were poor and the taxes were miniscule compared with before. There were soldiers wearing the emperors colours everywhere now, and they were polite and treated people with respect, which in return made people regard them with trust. Buildings were being repaired or erected everywhere and even the palace was being changed a lot. There were builders scurrying around and the smell from the furnaces where bricks were burned could be felt all over the city. Huge loads of thick and oily silt were brought in by wagon and mixed with lime and the local sand to create strong building materials and children were sent out to gather cow dung and other animal droppings which made it into the mixture.

 

The increased flow of goods also meant that the men of the collection finally could spend some of the money they had accumulated on things they wanted, and to them it was such a thrill. Noolar went almost berserk in the shops selling jewellery and expensive cloth and he hired a local man to sew dresses and other outfits to them all. Demetry bought some very nice decanters made from a sort of glass nobody had seen before and Kherfem did find some beautiful carved wooden chairs he kept bidding for and got after about two hours of begging and pleading with the salesman who claimed that Kherfem was trying to bleed him dry by only offering half of what the salesman had originally asked f

or.

The training progressed, Feng kept teaching them his methods and the other trainers too did good work, they didn’t have time to become bored. The meals had become a joy as well, the food had been good before but now it was more varied and the chef had access to new and exciting ingredients. Maglor tasted fruits he never had even heard about and one day Aerhan came back from a shopping trip carrying a huge nut and the bottom of it looked just like the bottom of a woman. It made them all giggle and laugh.

 

Maglor did discover a huge difference between the parties of old and the ones Mhoy Hang did throw, not only were his demands not sexual in nature but due to their new owners culture they were much more elaborate and the details had become more important. Dresses, make up, jewellery, it all held a far greater significance than before and Harbal and Thasul kept checking them over again and again to make sure that no mistakes were made. They had become artists instead of pieces of meat on display and had to act accordingly to that fact. Maglor had hoped that Mhoy Hang would end the collection by not getting any new slaves for it but he was disappointed. They were no longer sex toys, and their role had changed a lot but Mhoy Hang did buy new slaves. He felt that the group was too small, they were in trouble if someone fell ill or got injured and also, he tried to save other special ones from being sold into far less gentle hands than his own. There were new laws made concerning the selling and treatment of slaves but many didn’t change their ways at all in spite of this and some parts of the slave trade had gone underground so to speak.

 

Maglor heard of it, he kept trying to build a small network of contacts throughout the city and they did keep him and the others updated on the things which happened. Feng did encourage this, and so did Harbal, there isn’t such a thing as too much knowledge. Mhoy Hang had people working for him at every slave marked in the realm and while some were kept busy checking that the slaves weren’t abused others kept a watchful eye on the slaves themselves and gave their boss a heads up warning if something special did show up. About six months after the execution of the Sha’al two new faces did arrive, and by now Maglor had to agree with Mhoy Hang, they did need more people. The parties were less frequent but the demands much higher and the performances had to be flawless. Everything had to be planned down to the smallest detail and Maglor learned that this was because of the belief that errors during such a performance was a bad omen. The odd thing was that  one flaw was to be found at each party, it was planned each time and that was seen as a way of warding off bad luck. If no mistakes were made the spirits could become jealous and mess things up for them the next time so if they did one mistake, even if it was on purpose, they could be spared that fate. Maglor found the culture of the emperors men fascinating and strange and yet he did find some similarities between that and the culture of Aman, at least they had the attention to details in common.

 

The two new males were both like Noolar and both were stunning beauties. They were from the south west of the city with huge almond shaped eyes and dark skin and long silky black hair and they were rather young. The tallest of the two was named Nhaan and he was so feminine it was hard to believe that he in fact was born as a male. The other one was called Rishu and he was an eunuch, when he was a child they had removed both his scrotum and his cock and he had barely survived. Now he had to sit down to pee and there were some shadows in the lovely dark eyes which told them all that he had become rather emotionally scarred by the experience. Harbal did examine the poor guy and said afterwards that it was a miracle he had survived the operation, the amount of scar tissue told of a job a butcher could have done way better.

 

But with two more in the shows the pressure became less on the rest of them and they had the opportunity to rest more and learn more. New teachers were brought in to teach them how to read and write if they didn’t already possess those skills and to their shock both Abu and Abebe revealed a talent for math which was staggering. Both had the ability to add numbers in their heads within seconds and Feng was beside himself with awe and joy. Such talents were held in high regard back at the emperors court and when it became clear that the two in fact could calculate dates years back in time or ahead they suddenly became trainees for the royal astrologist. Astrology was important to the emperor and his realm and nothing was done if the astrologists said it was a bad day for certain activities.

 

Feng said that the emperor lived his life dictated by the calendar, in fact he had less freedom than even his royal dishwasher. Maglor recognized that, remembering the many restrictions the royals back in Aman had lived under. He knew his grandfather had insisted on having a few hours each day which were only his own and without them he would have gone nuts rather fast. With two new members of the group the dynamics within it changes a little, Noolar suddenly had new friends but they discovered that Rishu was a troubled person indeed. Nhaan was soon a good friend to them all, warm and open and very jolly and also terribly glad he had come to this place where he would be accepted and welcomed as who truly was. He and Noolar were often giggling and chatting like most ladies do and Noolar did blossom and became even more beautiful than before.

 

Rishu on the other hand was in fact a person who normally would have had a very masculine type of personality in spite of being spiritually female, the fact that he had looked very pretty even as a child had been his curse and he had been forced to become someone he was not. He was doing his best to fit in and to do his job and he did enjoy dancing and performing but they all felt that he was suffering. Aerhan sort of befriended him and managed to make him open up and speak of his problems and Aerhan did tell Maglor that most of it was just heart breaking and gut wrenching.

 

Aodh and Maglor still slept together and they did perform together too, a sort of sword dance which became famous rather fast. The parties were no longer filled with shouting and yells, cat calls and obscene gestures. The guests would enjoy the entertainment in silence and afterwards they would politely clap their hands five times since the number five was seen as a lucky number. Nobody would get drunk for being drunk in front of others were seen as a great shame and nobody would try to grope at anyone or assume that the ones dancing were free for all. It brought the joy back into the dance and Maglor was truly enjoying life. Noolar and Nhaan and Rishu had these dances where they were dressed in lovely saris and lots of jewellery and they all received notes with elaborate poems praising their beauty.

 

Maglor and the others also received gifts, some very valuable and someone had apparently told someone that Maglor was fond of cats for suddenly the elf received cats by the dozens. Cats were expensive animals and regarded as sacred to the people of these realms so the cost of the many animals brought to him was astronomical. Maglor couldn’t send them back, the givers were anonymous and so he suddenly had almost thirty cats and they all insisted on sleeping in his room at night. Luckily Aodh was fond of the animals too, he hadn’t even seen a domestic cat before he came to these realms and were fascinated by them. Some were sleek short haired animals in colours ranging from black to white and others were balls of fluff but they all loved the elf and would follow him everywhere. When Maglor visited the markets he would be followed by at least ten cats and this made the local residents convinced that he was some sort of deity since cats in their eyes only followed those touched by the gods.

He even received one perfectly white long haired one with golden eyes and a collar studded with diamonds and the animal was the size of a good sized dog and extremely fond of laying on top of people when they slept. It was fond of Noolar in special and since it did look spectacular together with his dark beauty the cat often participated in the shows.

 

But cats weren’t the only gifts given, they got jewellery and money and cloth too, some even went so far as to give them the ownership of stores or land and Maglor had to sit down one evening and do some paperwork and to his shock he did realize that he by now was filthy rich. They all were rich, in fact they could match the wealthiest of the Sha’als followers if they gathered it all. And by the laws of the emperor everything  a slave got did in fact belong to the slave, and not to his master. Aodh became very popular because of his exotic looks and he got a lot of weapons since he mostly performed with the sword dance. Maglor also received a few exquisite blades and he was very proud of them but Aodh probably got the most attention since he was blonde.

 

Maglor didn’t forget the visit though, he remembered the priestess and her haunting words and so he started to gather information, all sorts of information. He was told of the things which happened in the north and he learned of the might of Numenor and the rise and fall of many a great king and nations. He now knew there were elves still in middle earth, and he didn’t really know what sort of feelings that gave him. He sort of longed to meet someone of his kin once again and yet he dreaded it. Mankind could have forgotten all about the war and the horrors but the memories of elves last forever and they would never forget who he was. So he stayed where he was, content with the knowledge he gathered from sailors and travelling merchants and pilgrims.

 

Aodh was curious about the things Maglor sometimes mentioned and so the elf told him the story of the past, of the enemy and the darkening and the role they all had played in the horrors of these years so long ago. Aodh was a bit stunned, to him it had all been legends, barely remembered and rarely mentioned, but now he learned the truth from someone who had been there and it made him fully understand how fast men forget and how easily the truth is warped into something which can barely be recognized, just over a few centuries.

Maglor spent quite a lot of time with Mhoy Yan, the man was very curious about the elves and wanted to know more and Maglor was shocked by how polite and gentle the man was. He was no soldier, he was a scholar and a scribe and probably somewhat of a diplomat as well and he knew how to behave, how to treat others with respect and politeness even when he most of all wanted to do the opposite. Maglor realized that staying in control of yourself was very important for these people, losing your temper or saying something uncouth was taboo, you would be dishonoured for decades to come

.

Mhoy Yan was also very smart, he had a keen intelligence and he did understand the things Maglor spoke of, even when he tried to explain the valar and Eru and the war against Morgoth. To the human being these things had to be hard to believe but he accepted it and said that nobody can claim to know everything. The man who claims to own the whole truth and denies the words of others is in fact blind and he will forever be chained by his own ignorance. Maglor had to agree, it was possible to be wise and yet know naught if the knowledge given was false.

 

Mhoy Yan was fond of games and they would often sit there and play board games into the night while Maglor told the human of Valinor and the valar. Mhoy Yan never treated Maglor like a slave but as an equal and he did in fact often ask the elf for advice. Maglor learned a lot too, Mhoy Yan would explain the details of the emperors realm and how it was ruled and Maglor  realized that the realm was enormous and that it spanned giant areas which included both deserts and jungles and huge stretches of ocean too. He did not envy the emperor at all, keeping such a vast realm together was not a job for the lazy, that was for sure.

 

They were becoming famous again, now as artists and performers and it was a more attractive kind of fame since they were respected and the things they did something they could be proud of. They did mix the style of the emperors court with the things they had done before and they kept evolving and changing their style, just to make sure that they didn’t get too used to the same stuff and lost their edge. Mhoy Yan was very restrictive with his guest list, only very important guests were treated with a performance by the collection and it was considered a great honour to be allowed to watch a show. But sometimes there would be huge festivals and other celebrations and then they would perform in public.

 

The crowd always cheered and showered them with praise and gifts and it felt odd, knowing that this huge gathering of people knew their names and almost worshiped them in some ways. Some liked Noolar and Nhaar and Rishu while others were calling out for Demetry or the twins and some also liked Aerhan and Kherfem who was becoming more skilled at insults every day. But it was Aodh and Maglor who drew the biggest crowds every time and the elf was glad Abu and Abebe had been removed from the collection for they would have freaked out since they hadn’t been that used to crowds. Artenais too was getting some die hard fans and he sort of loved it and embraced it whole heartedly. Maglor liked to perform, to challenge himself and to please the people who were gathered but he also felt a sort of fear whenever they were to show their skills in such a manner. The crowd felt intimidating and sometimes he felt as if these humans had become one single being, hungry for whatever he could give them.

Of course these few events did have their benefits, they were receiving many gifts and most of them were promptly given to the temples to be distributed among the poor but Maglor kept a few things which were simply too odd to be given away. He found that he loved exotic and strange objects which often could be hard to identify and he would gather the others sometimes and then they would have fun sitting there, trying to guess what the things were to be used for. The suggestions could become rather wild at times.

 

A couple of years had in fact passed by when Maglor first saw that his fame had some nasty downsides too, and to an elf they were unbelievable. It started with the many letters he received from people who had watched the performances, to begin with they were nice, filled with praise and admiration but that gradually changed into cases of sheer obsession. He got detailed descriptions of what certain individuals would love to do with him, he also got marriage proposals, letters from people who claimed to plan on committing suicide if he didn’t answer and so on and so forth and he wasn’t the only one in the group to receive this sort of letters. Aerhan came into Maglor’s room one evening carrying a letter from a woman who claimed that watching Aerhan and Demetry dance had been such an overwhelming experience it had rendered her pregnant. Maglor first laughed until he almost choked and then he felt horrified.

 

Most of the letters were from people who just simply wanted to have sex with the performers but some were clearly sick and Harbal started reading through the mail each day to spare them from the most disturbing letters. He was used to the quirks of the human psyche and very few things could throw him out of balance even though some letters apparently did. The worst thing was that many had known that the Sha’al had owned and elf and since elves were basically unknown in this realm many believed things which weren’t true at all. Many people did believe that Maglor in fact had kept the Sha’al young and that being with him would make anyone immortal, thus Mhoy Yan received countless letters from people who offered giant sums of money just to spend the night with the elf. And some believed the same thing as the Sha’al and begged for just some hair, or bodily fluids, or his used bathwater. It was insane. The Sha’al’s paranoia had in fact protected them from this sort of attention but now that protection was gone and Maglor had to take the brunt of it since he was the one who wasn’t human and could possess such coveted abilities.

 

The others were just desired, in lots of ways, but it was basically just lust and a desire to own or control which drove most of the attention seekers. Those who coveted Maglor on the other hand were in a whole different league and Mhoy Yan didn’t let Maglor perform in public that often anymore, they did hear of a rich merchant who planned on kidnapping the elf and selling drops of his blood as talismans and that frightened them all. To humans the idea of immortality was more tempting than anything else and thus Maglor had to be very careful all the time. But he and the others didn’t really understand how desperate some could become until a night in the heat of summer, the whole collection had gathered by the pool since it was cooler there and they all slept on matrasses and were more or less covered up by Maglor’s cats. The animals loved the heat and it didn’t bother them at all but the humans did suffer at times and some bright head had invented a sort of fan driven by a small dog on a treadmill and it helped a bit but now they cursed the architect who had designed the palace like a freaking fortress for it didn’t really provide much fresh air.

 

Some suggested moving down into the cellars but that proposition was promptly laid dead since it reminded them all way too much of the last horrible days of the Sha’als reign. Maglor and Aodh laid curled up together, by now Aodh had let his hair grow to full length and he had a nice well trimmed beard and had become very handsome indeed since the good food and Harbal’s careful care did bring out the best in all of them. He and the elf was a stunning couple and they allowed the passion between them to show during the performances and it did add a lot of energy to the dancing. The last days they had been training on some new things Feng had suggested and they were tired and sore and suffered from headaches due to mild dehydration. All tried to drink as much as possible but they kept sweating it all out and Feng was getting worried that they would have to cancel some performances. Mhoy Yan wouldn’t want them to risk their health and it was his privilege to cancel his feasts whenever he felt like it.

 

Maglor slept soundly though,  he was more resistant to such problems than his human friends and he was tired too, the new dance he was practicing did involve some rather hefty acrobatics and he had liked it so much he had been a wee bit too eager. He hadn’t been that eager for years and had drained himself of energy even if Feng had told him to slow down. Aodh and he had not been intimate that evening since they all slept in the same room and Maglor was having a very pleasant dream about his blonde lover when he realized that something was off. He was being handled and that by hands he didn’t know, in a way too aggressive manner too. He woke up within the blink of an eye and stared straight into the somewhat flustered face of a very small wiry human with a poor excuse for a goatee and acne scars all over his face. The man had his hands on Maglor’s crotch and beside him was a small glass jar. The elf reacted the only way he could, he gave the attacker a kick to his stomach which sent him flying straight into the pool and Maglor let out a yell which made the others wake up too. Harbal came running and so did Feng and with them some guards who pulled the coughing and wheezing man out of the water.

 

Maglor felt shaky, what if the human had been trying to kill him? It was rather apparent what he had been after but what if it had been blood instead? Feng realized what had happened and he went pale and then he went red and suddenly the small old man became terrifying. He grasped the human by his wrist and the man went rigid immediately, struggling to breathe. “Now you talk you stinking piece of dog turd or I will make sure you’ll never draw breath again!”

 

The man rolled his eyes in fear and Maglor felt an acute need for a bath, he felt soiled somehow. The man had been masturbating him and it felt terribly alike to many of the more unpleasant situations he had been in during the Sha’al’s reign. It wasn’t a thing he liked to be reminded off. He growled and the man looked as if he was about to piss himself, he was shivering and his eyes were bloodshot and enormous. “I…I…”

 

Feng touched him again and the man gasped and managed to draw breath yet again. “I…wasn’t gonna harm him, I swear!”

 

Feng hissed like a snake. “No? so practically raping someone isn’t harmful?”

 

The guy shivered. “But…he would have liked it…I am good at doing handjobs, everybody says that!”

 

Feng rolled his eyes. “Kid, your good handjobs would never be regarded as anything but mediocre at best at this place, what in the name of all my ancestors were you trying to do?!”

 

The man tried not to look at Maglor who by now had regained his composure and was doing his best at imitating his father’s best death glare. “Uh…they say that the elf here…uh…he kept the Sha’al young no? And they say that…well…I could get rich…just a few drops…”

 

Feng groaned and Maglor felt a wee bit nauseous, he had to swallow and bite his lip not to say something very rude. “Aha, so you thought that breaking an entry, violating our masters most precious servant and stealing his ah…essence….would make you rich? Young man, you could just as well go and suck off a donkey, it would have the same effect!”

 

The man looked puzzled. “That too can make you immortal?”

 

Feng slapped the man over the ears with a loud thud. “No you dimwit, those first born are born immortal and you cannot steal that from them, no matter what you do you twat! No, let us see what Mhoy Yan decide to do with you, oh I bet he will be so thrilled to see that someone has managed to break into his palace like this”

 

The guy went pale and his eyes got as huge as dinner plates. “Oh mighty sorcerer, have mercy upon me, please don’t let him boat me!”

 

Feng almost lost it, they could see tears of mirth forming in his eyes but he managed to stay cool in spite of it all and he almost looked more intimidating because of his desperate attempt at keeping his face straight. “I will see what I can do but I fear that our master will be bloody pissed, maybe I can convince him to just have you flogged thoroughly”

 

Everybody knew that Feng was playing with the guy, and they found the small man pathetic and did not think of him as a threat in any manner, he was obviously as intelligent as a one day old loaf of bread and it showed. “Oh thank you kind master, thank you!”

 

Aodh rolled his eyes and had a peculiar expression on his face, the guy was obviously so ignorant he had no idea of the severity of what he had done. Feng started circling the guy, pulling his beard. “Now, how did you manage to get in here?”

 

The man tried to smile. “ I got in with some salesmen this evening and hid in the stable and then I crept up onto the roofs when it got dark and ran along them until I found an open hatch.”

 

Aerhan looked a bit shocked. “Well, if someone like him can just crawl down into our home like that I dare not think of what an assassin can do”

 

Everybody stared at each other and Feng cringed. “Goodness, Mhoy Yan must know of this, we need to increase the security again”

 

He turned to the man again. “Did you come here just for your own sake or did someone put you up to this?”

 

The man blushed and cringed. “Uh, they…ah…”

 

Feng sighed. “Someone told you to do it right?”

 

He nodded slowly and blushed even worse than before. “Ah, yes. I am sorry”

 

The guards looked shocked as well and two had already left to tell Mhoy Yan of the unwanted visitor. Harbal made a grimace. “So, who was it then, who gave you this brilliant idea?”

 

The man cringed. “If I tell you, will you promise not to boat me?”

 

Feng tried to stay serious. “ I promise, the names if you please?”

 

The man looked down and Maglor realized that this person was one of those people who probably does anything he is being told to do if someone more dominant asks it of him. “The lords Ahmad and Zerbur, they are afraid of getting old you see and I used to work for Ahmad tending his goats”

 

Feng sighed again and he made a grimace. “You should have stayed with the goats young man, I bet they are both more intelligent and way more interesting than these two lords of yours”

 

The man looked confused and Maglor had to grin to himself, the guy was obviously easily distracted. The door opened and Mhoy Yan came rushing in, followed by more guards. The guy cringed and looked like a lame mouse caught in front of a hungry cat. Mhoy Yan stopped and put his hands in his sides and looked like a thundercloud. “What is this supposed to mean and who are you?!”

 

He stared at the guy who shrank visibly. “I…I am Gubhu, I am a goat herder”

 

Mhoy Yan glared at him. “A goat herder who enters the palace like thief in the night, if you have something to say for your defence do say it now before I order to have you transformed into a ghastly wall decoration”

 

Gubhu whimpered and Feng sighed deeply. “He was sent by the lords Ahmad and Zerbur”

 

Mhoy scoffed. “Doesn’t surprise me, they were the Sha’al’s ass lickers, both of them. Now what am I to do with them, and with this not so shiny specimen of thief?”

 

Gubhu was trembling and Maglor realized that Mhoy Yan already knew what sort of person this wannabe thief was. He was just trying to fish for as much information as possible. Gubhu gasped and looked as if he was about to piss himself once more. “You cannot tell them that I told you, they will…they will do terrible things to me”

 

Mhoy Yan stared at the small man and his eyes were distant. “You are a goat herder, I suggest you stay in the profession for you have absolutely no future as a thief, trying to steal someone’s bodily fluids like that? It was as clumsy as it is possible to get!  I hereby sentence you to ten years of service herding my own herd of goats, then you will at least do something useful”

 

Gubhu looked shocked and the guards dragged him off. Feng stared at his master and Mhoy Yan closed his eyes and looked very tired. “That was unexpected, and absolutely not welcome. I will have to get more guards, and the roofs are to be booby trapped again, there is no way around it”

 

Everybody looked at each other, they remembered the fear they had lived under and now they got a reminder of it, although it had a different cause. Maglor cleared his voice. “Master, what are you to do with the two lords?”

 

Mhoy Yan was cracking his knuckles. “They have committed a great crime, using some poor stupid guy to do their dirty work for them, and the cause is just as horrendous. Trying to become immortal? It frightens me that people are that ignorant”

 

Harbal stayed behind the others but he cleared his voice. “The Sha’al believed that Maglor could keep him alive forever, it is just natural that those who served him believed the same.”

 

Mhoy Yan nodded slowly. “I understand that, but we have to do something. This will not be the last attempt someone does at this if we cannot convince people of the futility of such actions.”

 

Maglor cringed inwardly. “They won’t forget that fast now will they?”

 

Mhoy Yan nodded. “No, not as long as there is an elf here. I am sorry”

 

Maglor swallowed. “Could I be endangering the rest of you?”

 

Mhoy Yan petted his back gently. “From now on you will only perform here within the palace and when you visit the city you will be wearing a sort of disguise. There is no way around it, this has gotten out of hand”

 

Mhoy Yan crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I will deal with the two lords, believe me, they will regret this funny little idea of theirs, to their dying day”

 

He turned to the guards. “From now on nobody enters this wing of the palace without being searched and any gifts or letters are brought to me before they are given to anyone in here. No Maglor, I will not let anyone harm you nor the rest of this group, believe me, I will protect you all”

 

He turned to the group and bowed his head. “Do not let this small incident frighten you, it will not happen again. Others will almost certainly try but they will not succeed, I will make sure of that”

 

Maglro still felt odd, violated yes but even more than that he felt shaken and scared and Aodh embraced him. “Come, let me ease you down, you are not yourself, I can see that”

 

Maglor followed Aodh back to the room they now shared and he allowed the tall blonde to hold him close. “Don’t worry Maglor, Mhoy Yan will protect us all, nothing will happen”

 

Maglor took a deep breath, he could see it now, how the future would unfold. He could never truly be free, for he was bound by what he was. Had he been human he would have been able to live a very pleasant life but as it was this dream was impossible. He had to remain hidden and in the background at all times and it made his heart ache. Aodh kissed his brow and did rock him in his arms, mumbling soothing words and the elf felt a sudden surge of sheer desperation, The sha’al had imprisoned them all and chained them with fear but now, now that they were more free than ever it was his own nature which became the great hurdle he couldn’t challenge at all. He kissed Aodh with passion and the man answered the kiss, grasping onto locks of long silky black hair. “Let go Maglor, I am here, don’t worry, just get it out, all of it”

 

Maglor threw them both down onto the matrass and before long they had forgotten everything for the touches of their lover. Maglor didn’t care if the others could hear them, they were used to it and he wanted to feel safe and loved yet again. When the morning came both were sleeping in a heap of soiled sheets and tangled hair and one of the servants had a hard job waking them up. Mhoy Yan had let them all sleep a little longer than usual this morning and sleepy faces were seen everywhere.

 

The breakfast was eaten in silence and they could already hear the sound of workers who had been ordered to fix the hatches and windows so it became impossible for someone to sneak into the palace unseen. There was training to be done but Maglor didn’t feel like it at all, he felt sulky and somewhat distracted and even Aodh’s  most gentle caresses didn’t manage to calm him down. Feng however didn’t allow anyone to sneak away from his lectures and neither did the other teachers so Maglor had to suffer through several hours of poem analyses and the rules of how to properly address a lady of the court. It was time for lunch when one of Mhoy Yan’s closest servants entered the room, the man was a rather tall fellow with a very long thin braid and he kept one finger nail long while the others were kept short. It was a sign that he was a scribe and rather important but not nobility. He bowed his head. “Gentlemen, our great master have ordered me to bring you all this message, the lords in question has been caught and they are to become jesters in the great festivals for the next five years to come”

 

Everybody just stared at each other, they did indeed remember those two lords, both had survived the plague by abandoning the city rather early on and seeking refuge out in the desert and some mouths whispered that they were huge cowards at heart. But being jesters? That meant being forced to wear silly costumes, telling rowdy jokes and risk being covered with all sorts of filth since it was allowed to toss stuff at the jesters to ward off evil spirits. Mhoy Yan did have a very dark sense of humour and suddenly everybody was laughing, Maglor too. He remembered the two as the most obnoxious of the Sha’al’s followers since they had acted as if all the slaves carried some sort of disgusting disease. It was well deserved. The rest of the day was spent in relative peace and quiet and when they went to bed that night Maglor did dream again, of a huge palace somewhere in the desert, surrounded by ant hills and everywhere there was servants with brooms trying to keep the ants out.

 

He had no idea of what that was supposed to mean. He only knew that things yet again had changed for him and that he from now on had to be extra careful not to draw too much attention to himself, it had been vital before but now it was even more so, every instinct he had told him that. He had to be forgotten, and he knew that he couldn’t remain there for too much longer, sooner or later he had to go to the emperor’s court, only there could he gain the influence he needed but how he was to do that was another question, and how could he leave his friends here behind? He couldn’t, it was easy as that. He had to stay for their sake but then he might jeopardize the entire future. It wasn’t easy, no, it wasn’t easy at all.

 

An emperor's fate by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

It is time for change, what will the future hold and what does the emperor truly want with his new and exotic servant?

Chapter 14: An emperor’s fate

 

The wealth gathered by the men of the collection had grown over the years and Feng made sure that some of it got invested in manners which brought even more wealth as time passed by. Maglor and the others were capable of surrounding themselves with luxuries but they made sure that much of the money was returned to the city as gifts to the temples and help for the poor. Maglor had managed to maintain the network of informants Artemar had created and he had in fact expanded it so now they received news from all over the realm on a daily basis. Rumours said that the emperor had encountered problems, that some sort of war chief from up north had started to cause some damage and Mhoy Yan could neither confirm nor deny them. The collection was as always very busy and the performances kept evolving and transforming, Feng and the other teachers did their best to help the performers excel in every manner and Maglor was proud of them all.

 

Then some bright head came up with the idea of theatrical plays and it caught on, Feng was a bit reluctant at first but he sort of melted into the thought of it gradually and before long he was the most eager one. Plays were all the craze at court and he quickly got some famous writer to create some new ones. Most were sweet and romantic tales which included song and lots of dance and some were just slapstick humour of the very silly type. This of course meant that the performers had to train even harder than before and the training was also different. Feng made sure that they had at least one day off every now and then, just to relax and blow off some steam. Maglor found that he loved going for rides in the dessert around the city and if he dressed like the bedouins nobody could recognize him. Aodh often joined him and they explored the area rather thoroughly. The plays became very popular and it allowed them all to show off other talents than the ones most usually shown. Maglor found that he liked pretending to be someone very clumsy and Kherfem did make a huge success as a very menacing and mean old man. Everybody was thriving and none of them ever doubted that they were appreciated.

 

A couple of years went by and it was odd but Maglor was almost forgotten by the general public, they had sort of forgotten that the Sha’al had ever reigned over them and Mhoy Yan did his best to encourage this. They didn’t need to be reminded of the darkness of the past but to look ahead towards brighter days. The city continued to grow and it had become much more complex than before. There were people there from every corner of the world and Maglor enjoyed learning new languages and hearing about places even further away from his home than this. It was from one of his informants that he heard that the mighty island nation of Numenor had fallen, that its last ruler had been seduced by the wickedness of his prisoner and Maglor knew that eru himself probably  had been forced to react. The damage along the coasts had been enormous with huge waves reaching land and only a few ships had escaped the cataclysm. Maglor just knew it, the fallen maia had perhaps perished in the flood but most likely not and he would regain his strength. It was time to prepare, to make plans and see what he could do and he only prayed that he would have time enough to do what he could.

 

By now he could see that years had passed by since he came to this place, Aerhan was getting grey, the twins didn’t look like tender youths anymore but adult men and Kherfem was wrinkled and his voice more hoarse. They were aging and still he was the same and it felt just wrong somehow. To him it was just a blink of an eye but to them a great part of their life. Feng had finished training them and he made a request of Mhoy Yan, he wanted to return to the emperor’s court one last time and he wanted to bring Aodh and Maglor with him. The others would be welcome too of course and the emperor would probably be thrilled by the novelty of their performances. Mhoy Yan was thinking about it for a few days, the city had become rather hard to govern and he rarely had time for parties anymore. Often he would be busy with some administrative work while the performances were made and he felt that it was time to let go.

 

The decision was made, the collection was to be sent to the emperor, and even though it would be a long and hard journey most of them was looking forward to it. Days and weeks went by just to organize it, carriages had to be built and horses bought and their belongings had to be packed carefully. The collection didn’t just include the performers anymore, now there were servants and helpers employed and all in all they now were more than hundred and fifty people in all. It was a huge caravan which left the city early one morning and it was escorted by three troops of the emperor’s best warriors. Riders had been sent ahead to prepare the roadside inns for the guests and Maglor knew that the emperor was very smart since he had managed to create a way better system of roads than the Sha’al. And the inns were placed along the roads and with just thirty kilometres between and they were bound by law to have a certain amount of fresh horses available at any time.

 

Maglor did enjoy the first days of the journey, since he was a good rider he was allowed to travel on horseback but many of the others preferred the carriages. Maglor’s cats occupied an entire wagon and some huge hounds he had gotten from an admirer did run by the carriages and provided some extra protection. At night they would rest and recover at the inns and there was a mood of almost festive relaxation among them. Feng was getting rather fragile now and he rarely left the carriage he travelled in, some servants were responsible for his well being and made sure that he always had everything he needed close at hand. The desert did create some unique problems, the roads had been marked and were taken care off by a small army of workers who made sure that nobody got lost by placing poles with flags on them at even intervals but it was still hot and dry and even though wells had been dug not all of them did provide enough water for such a huge group. The result was that some extra carriages had to be added, carrying huge ceramic bottles filled with water.

 

Camels did pull some of the carriages and they too soon proved to be a problem for a camel is not like a horse, they are stubborn and rather mean tempered and they would often delay them with several hours when they refused to move. Maglor was fascinated by the odd animals at first but even his elven skills didn’t seem to matter to these beasts, they grunted and complained and tried to bite you whoever you were. Slowly the desert changed, it became rockier and the sand dunes were replaced by huge stretches of bare rock, flat and scoured by some unknown force. Here and there bizarre rock formations could be seen and Maglor made sure that he found the time to draw some of the most weird looking ones. Here and there they saw bones embedded in the rock, and they were not from any animal Maglor knew of, the locals believed that they had been demons some angry god had destroyed ages ago.

 

Then the sandy rocky desert gave way to savannah with trees and grasses and huge herds of animals. The warriors did hunt and bring fresh meat and Maglor saw many animals he never had seen before or even heard of. They had to cross rivers here and there and far from everyone of them had bridges so they had to find the best spot to cross and that wasn’t always easy. Some rivers were rather wide but shallow and others were both wide and deep and the servants had to fell trees and build rafts on a couple of occasions. Maglor loved to help out with the work and after some weeks they turned northwards again and the terrain shifted into green hills covered with dense forest and small farming communities. Here it wasn’t so warm and the air was damp and they all enjoyed bathing in the rivers and trading things with the locals. Maglor tried to stay as anonymous as he could not to trigger any sorts of fear among the local people, but he enjoyed watching how the culture changed as they travelled further and further into the realm.

 

Since they travelled so slowly the journey took two months in all, and it didn’t go any faster when they reached the roads of the inner realm. Here the roads were paved and wide and very well made but they were crowded all day long. Hundreds and hundreds of travellers were heading to and fro the great cities and by now the warriors became useful. They had to guard the carriages for many would try to beg or even steal and the traffic could be completely jammed for hours if someone had a mishap with a wheel or something like that. There were people there making a living out of selling water and food to travellers who had gotten stuck and some of them were as hard to get rid of as crabs. Aerhan often jumped out of the carriage he rode in when someone didn’t accept no for an answer, the tall black man scared the living daylights out of the locals since they never had seen anyone that dark before and Aodh too managed to chase off a few overly eager salesmen. He was so tall and exotic looking they probably thought he was some sort of deity.

 

Harbal and his servants had a wagon all to themselves and they spent the days training and perfecting their skills. Harbal had discovered a new type of makeup which enabled him to create very realistic looking wounds and injuries and some of his experiments almost drove poor Feng mad since he believed it to be real and not fake. But now they were approaching the inner realm and there were villages and cities everywhere, the rivers were forced into canals and the land covered with fields and orchards. It was very beautiful and reminded Maglor of Tirion although this was man made and lacked the finesse elves would create. The cities were all surrounded by a tall wall and the gates were guarded well, the houses built in a peculiar style with saddle shaped roofs and he saw something new every day. Feng would explain how the huge realm was being organized, there were people responsible for keeping law and order in every town and the hierarchy of power was very strict. To be given the responsibility of controlling a settlement was seen as a huge honour but it did of course mean that the person in question also carried a large burden on his shoulders.

 

Feng spent the time telling them of famous mayors who had failed monumentally at their task and the emperor was always reacting very fast if someone tried to step outside of the boundaries they had been given. The worst crime was in fact corruption and the emperor did strike at that with an iron fist, it could threaten the stability of the entire system and Maglor understood this. Many had been executed for this crime or sent away and many claimed that the emperor had spies in his service just working to uncover such filth.

 

The capital was enormous, a city of a size Maglor barely was able to fathom, many millions called it home and it was densely populated but not at all like the city of the Sha’al, or at least the way it had been. It was clean and open and there were large parks at certain intervals. Garbage and manure was removed twice a day and there was a huge guild of people who had the not so enviable job of emptying the latrines, both the public ones and the ones in people’s homes. The rule was that no public latrine ought to be left unemptied for more than three days and no private one for more than five. The streets were swept and kept tidy and if you wanted to sell things from a cart or a stand you had to get a permit which lasted for no more than a week at a time. The elf was stunned by the level of organization and the neatness of everything, with that many people present it was needed and the discipline was strict too. Everyone took great pride in the task they were given and Maglor didn’t see any people there who were visibly starved or sick. Most looked rather happy and the shops seemed to be filled with goods.

 

Feng also told them of the social hierarchy within the city, among the commoners the priests and healers were the most revered, then salesmen, fishermen, farmers and other workers except from those who worked with metals who were ranked among the priests. Maglor was stunned to see that prostitutes were seen as very respectable and almost revered in some manners. Here only the prettiest girls could get into that business and they were guarded and taken well care off in every way. The courtesans were trained as entertainers and some didn’t offer any sexual favours at all, they were simply bringing glory to a festive occasion by being present and thus bring good fortune. Feng warned them that there were common whores available too but they could be infected with diseases and they were cheap and unskilled and usually rather unattractive. If their belts were tied off in front it usually indicated that this was a woman who was for sale for anyone and they weren’t that respected at all.

 

The city was so huge it took a whole day just travelling from the gate to the emperor’s palace and they had to pass twelve huge walls on the way, and five golden gates. The houses got more elaborate as they got closer and the gardens more spectacular and by now there were guards surrounding them all the time. The etiquette of the court did dictate almost every little thing people did, and it was a good thing they weren’t noble men but performers. The long list of things to do or not to do was enough to drive anyone insane. Just the seemingly easy task of bowing to someone had to be done in a certain manner depending on who you were bowing for, but as commoners they were excused from this and could bow anyway they liked.

It was dark as the carriages pulled into a large courtyard and huge lamps did provide enough light for them to see that they were surrounded by tall buildings made from a very light stone. It was a beautiful architecture and Feng grinned and raised his hands. “Welcome my friends to the palace of a thousand joys. Here the royal entertainers do dwell and it will be your home too. Rooms are prepared for your arrival”

 

Maglor felt a tinge of anticipation, this ought to be interesting to say the least. Servants wearing very beautiful uniforms came to lead the way and Maglor did discover that their quarters were organized very much like the ones back at the palace they had left. A huge central hall and then many private rooms attached to it. There was a pool and a small park and everything else they would need and Maglor liked the place right away. He and Aodh had gotten a large room with a bed so huge it could have roomed ten people easily and he felt that the luxury he had been used to would be dwarfed by this. Everybody settled in and got a warm meal made from rice and vegetables and some meat and then they all returned to their rooms. Their personal belongings had been brought into them as they ate and Maglor’s cats had sort of laid claim to most of the bed. It was clear that the servants were unaccustomed to cats for they showed great curiosity and Maglor learned that cats were very rare in this country and that only a few very rich people owned one.

 

He and Aodh were tired and they went to bed feeling rather at ease, here things were very different from what they had been used to and they hoped that the emperor would appreciate their work. The next morning some giggling young servants woke them up for a bath and a meal and Harbal gathered them all in the great hall. They were to be presented to the emperor and his closest court that evening and everything had to be perfect. That meant hours of careful preparations and when they were finished they all looked stunning. Maglor felt rather certain that this court never had seen anything quite like them before and the performance they were to give was to be a short one, but it had to be impressive still the same.

 

The palace was a city in itself with streets and parks and all sorts of buildings. The dwellings of the emperor and his family were placed behind a very thick wall with just one gate and the collection was driven there in a large carriage pulled by twelve snow white horses. The skills of a good driver were highly appreciated there and being able to handle horses the key to a secure job. Feng had told them that this inner palace was home to hundreds of people, servants, some slaves, guards and cooks and gardeners. The kings concubines, his wives and their children and his brothers and sisters and their families. Maglor did notice something rather odd, the higher on the social ladder people where the more elaborate clothes they wore but only until a certain level. The most high ranking members of court dressed very simply with little jewellery and finery. The cloth was expensive and had gorgeous colours but the cut was modest and almost anonymous.

 

Feng explained that the royal family and their closest of kin showed their status in other manners than through their clothing, Only when something special was happening would they dress up in their best costumes and then everyone else was supposed to go for a more modest style. They were lead ahead through a wide corridor adorned with beautiful ornaments and gorgeous paintings and now Feng insisted on walking on his own, two servants had carried him this far. They had to wait in front of a wide door for a while and the place was very quiet, and clean too. Maglor couldn’t see dust anywhere and Feng whispered that servants washed the entire building at night, so nobody of noble blood had to watch it happen.

 

They were let inn by a huge guard and Feng walked in with his head held up and a firm expression upon his face. He had dressed in white as always and looked as fragile as dandelion puff. The room they entered was grand, not overly large but impressive with gold, black and red colors. Thick columns carried the roof and between them hung delicately painted silk banners and elaborately carved wooden panels. The scent was spicy and warm and Maglor knew that nothing in this room was left to chance. The room ended in an open area with no columns and at the end was a sort of dais with several wide steps. There were people on every level and also guards and the top level was dominated by a low throne and a number of uniformly dressed men. The emperor sat on the throne and he wore a grey silk robe with exquisite and yet discrete details and his face was covered by a sort of veil made from hundreds of tiny strings hanging from a sort of head dress Maglor never had seen before. It did look odd but he supposed that this was the custom of this court. A couple of females stood in the background, both wore the same rather odd makeup and they did look like dolls.

 

Feng walked forth in a peculiar stiff manner and he made a very deep bow in front of the dais, it did look extremely theatrical and Maglor realized that everything here was some sort of show. The men standing behind the dais had to be high ranking officials, his counsellors and others with great power and they did look as if they were carved from stone. Not a facial muscle did move.

 

Feng kept bowing and he started reciting a very long list of different names used for the emperor, divine son of light was one of them and Maglor would have found it comical hadn’t it been so obviously serious. Nothing could be forgotten, that would be an insult. Feng finished by swearing his everlasting loyalty to the emperor and then he got up from the very awkward position and raised his hands. “From afar I have brought you this treasure of beauty, lo and behold the pride of the vanquished Sha’al, his most prized possessions”

 

One of the officials on the lower level of the dais raised a hand and Feng nodded to Demetry and the twins, they were to perform first. Maglor did see it now, how the two lads had become bulkier and not as lithe as before but they were still lovely and Demetry too had matured into a very strong and yet elegant man. Now they did perform a very intricate dance and the crowd watched in absolute silence. Noolar and Nhaan and Rishu did dance too, wearing their beautiful saris and lots of jewellery and Aerhan and Kherfem did juggle. Artenais did a very slow bellydance routine and then Maglor and Aodh did their sword dance. Nobody moved as they did their best and even though it was clear that everybody watched very intently nobody made a sound until Feng bowed and declared the show as finished. Then the emperor got up from his seat and clapped five times, slowly and with power and that set loose a flood of clapping and cheers, suddenly everyone was trying to show more enthusiasm than their neighbour and it lasted until the emperor tapped on the armrest of the throne with a finger, then everybody fell silent yet again.

 

One of the officials wearing grey stepped forth and bowed deeply. “Our great master and beloved leader is very pleased with this, it delights his heart to see such grace and beauty and you are all most welcome. You will be treasured among his most valuable possessions and soon songs will be sung in your honour all over the realm.”

 

Feng bowed even deeper. “We are grateful beyond words to hear this oh enlightened one, our love for our emperor is like a mother’s for her firstborn son, our hearts will ache until we yet again can gaze upon his might and splendour”

 

Feng did back away from the dais still bowing and Rial and Kenar had a hard time trying to stay serious, it looked absolutely ridiculous. They were escorted out by some guards who did smile and nod as soon as the doors were closed, they too had liked the performance but they weren’t allowed to show any emotion while being in the same room as the emperor. Maglor did pity them, the Sha’als court had been an orgy of excesses and everything had been legal, here things were the absolute opposite, at least in public. The carriage drive back to the huge building which from now on was their home was spent asking questions, lots and lots of them too. Noolar wanted to know if every woman in this realm had to wear that dreadful white makeup and paint her lips into tiny rosebuds and Aerhan wanted to know just how much power the officials had. Feng tried to answer as much as he could but he was tired and Maglor realized that the old man in fact was extremely old now and heading for his grave. He probably had only months left if he lasted that long and it made the elf feel rather sad.

 

Everybody was giddy with adrenaline, and servants brought them a meal and lots of wine too. Before long the atmosphere was one of relaxed joy and Harbal told them he was extremely proud of them all, they had done very well. Maglor had seen some rather unusual instruments stacked away in a side room and he was dying to test them out and he did sing a little to entertain the others. Now he sang of hope and joy and he knew that his friends were safe. It was a good thing and it gave him some peace of mind. They went to their rooms to rest and Aodh was rather eager, he wanted Maglor’s attention and got it too and they both fell asleep after a couple of hours, entangled and pleased.

 

From now on life fell into a predictable rhythm, the performances were planned weeks ahead and they had plenty of time to prepare and polish their skills. Maglor and the others got to know the staff and the huge palace and they sort of learned to appreciate the routines and rules. The meals were served at certain intervals and if they wanted something to eat outside of that they would have to make special orders. The food was something they had more problems getting used to, it contained a lot of spices and a few of the dishes made them cringe. Maglor had never had raw squid before, or fried giant rats and when the servants brought in a huge snake, carefully prepared and seasoned Aerhan almost lost it since he was terrified of snakes. Feng had warned them that here everything which moved could be eaten and it was obviously true too.

 

The servants had been nervous around them in the beginning and since few of them yet spoke the language it was hard to break the ice but after a couple of weeks they got used to the silent and elegant people scooting in and out of the rooms, fixing the beds and bringing them food and whatever else they needed. Their own servants were occupied preparing the stuff they needed for the performances and so it was welcome but Maglor often  felt that they were being regarded as something so exotic they were barely human. But now the servants had thawed and would laugh and smile and try to explain things and some even flirted a bit, even though very discretely. Feng told them that the servants were free people, not slaves. They could decide for themselves what they wanted to do and nobody would be punished for bedding anyone of the males in the collection. It just had to be very discrete, and hidden.

 

Here discretion was a virtue and Aerhan told Maglor that he had been visited by a couple of the maids who usually was cleaning the rooms. They had been very curious about him and he had gladly complied, after all, it was a long time since he could bed someone only because he wanted to and not because he had to. Feng told them that the emperor sometimes would reward his favourites with concubines from his own harem, these women were highly trained and extremely sought after and receiving one was seen as a great honour. Some of the officials there had their own concubines and the nobles had many since it was seen as a sign of wealth and status.

 

The performances were long now, lasted for hours and the atmosphere was much more relaxed than at the first introduction. Now the crowd gathered would clap and cheer and show their appreciation openly and if the emperor was present they were even more eager to cheer than otherwise. It was a lot of drinking going on but nobody lost their composure in spite of it and the music and the food was always exquisite. Maglor started learning to use the different stringed instruments he had seen and liked them all but they were rather different from the lyre and harp he had been used to before. The emperor had other entertainers there as well, in fact hundreds of them and thus they didn’t have to perform that often and Maglor was pleased with this. He sort of immersed himself in the culture of the realm and had a scribe coming over rather frequently, reading out loud and explaining everything he wanted to learn. He knew he needed to learn as much as possible if he was to prepare for the future. Slowly he gained a greater understanding of the dynamics within this court, the emperor had several wives and the two favourite ones had been the two at display at the reception. He also had about a hundred concubines who were his personal ones and all were chosen following strict guidelines. They had to be born on a specific date and year and in perfect physical condition. Everything was done according to the stars and planets and Maglor found that a bit silly but here astrology was seen as a science.

 

The emperor had plenty of offspring, his sons were being trained as officers and they had to serve for at least twenty years before they could even think of following in their father’s footsteps. One had to learn how to serve and be humble before one could be put to rule. His other family members also had important positions and many of his daughters were married off to high ranking noble men. Everything was calculated and thoroughly planned and it was impressive but seemed a bit inhumane somehow, the people were taken out of the equation and treated like commodities.

 

The performances were a huge hit, many came to watch and the novelty of these strangers proved to be very alluring. Suddenly gifts arrived yet again but the letters which followed were quite different from before. There were no lewd suggestions or barely concealed offers, just heartfelt admiration and some rather lovely poems. Feng explained that here it was seen as noble and honourable to pine for someone out of reach. Sending letters with poems was as far as anyone could go without losing respect. It was believed to purge the spirit and open one’s mind, and in special young females were encouraged to keep their true feelings hidden and admire their idols from afar. The gifts they received weren’t as opulent as before, it was smaller things, of a more personal nature and when Aodh one day received a very beautiful gold comb with rubies and amethysts Feng sniggered like mad. It was a sign of very strong desire for the comb was certainly the personal comb of the one who sent it and something that intimate was almost sacred. The women of court would rather wear another woman’s used underwear than wear someone else’s hair ornaments.

Maglor did notice that hair seemed to be of immense importance, even among the men. They all wore it long but it was braided or pulled up into extremely elaborate hairdo’s which had to take hours to complete. Kherfem did some asking and told the others that going bald here was seen as a sign of sin. The women wore huge combs and clasps and there was an entire guild which only worked with hair. Since everyone was dark haired Demetry and Aodh received a lot of attention and so did Artenais too. Many tried to touch their hair to see if it was real and in some plays Gods and Goddesses were portrayed as being blond or red headed. Wig makers payed huge sums of money for blonde hair.

 

They had been there for almost six months when Maglor one day was approached by one of the officials, the  man was scrawny and thin and he wore his hair spun around his head like a turban. “Honoured one, our great father wishes to speak to you, in private”

 

Maglor almost gaped, the emperor wanted to speak to him? That was quite a shock and he just stood there blinking for a few seconds before he managed to pull himself together and get something done. He bowed deeply and felt how his heart was racing in his chest, this was not like meeting the Sha’al. The Sha’al had been a mad hyena, the emperor was someone with true power and wisdom and he felt nervous. “Of course”

 

The official smiled, a rather gentle smile. People were much less stiff in private and could be rather outgoing too. “Worry not, I am sure he wants to praise your skills”

 

Maglor had in fact been singing a little and he knew that he still had it in him, at least everybody had seemed deeply moved by his music. “I am honoured”

 

The man took him by the elbow and nodded. “Follow me, I know of a short cut”

 

Maglor followed him through some doors he hadn’t seen in use before and they entered a very narrow long corridor. “There are servant corridors everywhere, they are hidden but you can reach any part of the entire palace from them. Some even go underground.”

 

Maglor realized that the palace you saw was a façade, the real life went on behind closed doors and double walls and he felt a bit nervous, what if someone managed to get inside with evil intent? The man almost ran and they kept going for a long time, after what had to be almost an hour the man stopped by an anonymous looking door and he bowed deeply yet again. “Our great emperor awaits you”

 

Maglor took a deep breath and pushed the door open, he had no idea of what he was to encounter. It was a small room dominated by a fireplace and it was obviously a private room for there were papers left all over a desk in the corner and items of clothing lay on a chair. A man stood by the fireplace, wearing a light dark robe and holding a glass of wine. Maglor stared, he had seen him before, among the officials. What was this?

The man grinned, he did look like a very friendly and somewhat tired elderly man and he waved a hand towards a chair. “Do sit down fair one, worry not. Etiquette is forgotten within these rooms.”

 

Maglor just stared, was this the emperor? The man grinned even wider. “Oh I see your confusion, it is a deception. A way to protect my person. My officials switch playing the role as emperor, the face veil is such a great invention don’t you think?”

 

Maglor took a deep breath. “That is very clever”

 

The man nodded and sat down in a couch by the fireplace, he emptied the wine. “Being emperor is not a title coveted by many, yet there are those who believe that someone else ought to be left in charge and I always try to think one step ahead of them”

 

Maglor swallowed and found it hard to believe that this kind of ordinarily looking man was the mighty emperor. “There have been attempts at murdering you?”

 

The emperor smiled, a joyless smile. “Of course there have been attempts at putting me in an early grave, officially we have no dissidents within this realm but that is a sweet lie.”

 

Maglor was a bit confused. “Why? Everybody seems to be happy?”

 

The emperor tilted his head. “You are ancient aren’t you, born before even the sun had risen from the east. I bet you know the hazards of being a ruler of many?”

 

Maglor frowned. “Uh, yes, I do?”

 

He didn’t know where the emperor was going with this and the man sighed and stretched his legs. “I do my outmost to ensure the safety and happiness of my subjects, I strive to transform them into a nation of wise and understanding people, people with compassion, culture and wealth. But sometimes sacrifices has to be made and to some, well, they refuse to see the greater picture.”

 

Maglor found a better position, he found the chair way too soft for his liking. “I see, any reason in particular?”

 

The emperor sighed again, a deep sigh and he rolled his eyes. “The most common reason for all ignorance, religion. All the attacks on my person has been triggered by religion, and one particular one in special.”

 

Maglor hadn’t really seen any signs of religious belief anywhere when he was thinking of it, people seemed to be very private about such matters. “Your realm is a secular one?”

 

The emperor nodded sternly. “Yes, everybody has the right to worship as they wish as long as it doesn’t interfere with their everyday duties, and sacrifices and such nonsense is of course forbidden. Once the temples gathered insane amounts of wealth and gained way too much power. The result was horrible and the commoners lived in constant fear of deities which were just clever constructions conjured up by greedy men hungry for power. My father razed the temples and I have continued his work. Now reason and science rules over superstition but some don’t like that. They have lost their grip on people and of course a source to an endless amount of gold. I bet that hurts the most”

 

Maglor bit his lower lip. “So, what sort of religion are we talking about?”

 

The emperor looked a bit glum all of a sudden. “An ancient one, honouring what they refer to as the lord of fire, the bringer of eternal life, the one above all others”

 

Maglor had to take a deep breath. “Oh Eru, did it come from the west?”

 

The emperor nodded. “Indeed it did, and that is why I have summoned you here my friend. You know of this don’t you? My astrologist have seen a rising darkness from the northwest, a terrible scourge arising and his words brought me great fear. I think that these men can be used by whoever that is, and I fear for the stability of my realm”

 

Maglor looked down. “The one they worship was named Melkor, one of the original deities, a dark and twisted one. The one to rise is called Sauron, he is just as bad”

 

The emperor got up, poured another glass of wine and found one more and filled it too, gave it to Maglor. “Tell me my friend, tell me everything you know about these deities. If they have followers among my people I want to know how they can be vanquished, before it is too late”

 

Maglor took a sip of wine, it was sweet and tasty and very nice and he had to control himself not to drain the glass completely. So Morgoth had worshipers still, probably descendants of those who had betrayed their kin back in the days of the great war, the ones who brought doom upon mankind. Maglor took a deep breath. “I can start by telling you that the first worshippers of this deity we call Morgoth is the reason why man doesn’t live for more than a handful of decades. Their betrayal caused Eru, the one, to determine that man no longer can decide when to die. Death claims you when it wishes to”

 

The emperor looked shocked. “So much for the bringer of eternal life hu? Rather the opposite, well, begin with the start, I have much time at hand. My stand in is in a meeting, deciding what to do with this year’s crop of peaches.”

 

Maglor started telling and he didn’t hide anything, he told of Morgoth and his war with the other valar, the fortresses and the death of so many and the emperor sat there and listened intently. The man was obviously capable of handling a great deal of information in a short time. When Maglor finished hours had passed by and the emperor hadn’t even yawned once, he had the stamina of an ox or so it seemed. He sighed and leaned back against the couch. “My friend, you have given me much to consider. I now know of the origin of this cult, and it is disturbing”

 

Maglor wetted his lips. “Are they many?”

 

The emperor shook his head. “No, maybe a  few hundred, but they are not afraid of anything and do willingly die for their cause. That is the most terrible thing about them for a man who doesn’t fear death is  unstoppable.”

 

Maglor looked down, feeling uneasy” What will you do your grace?”

 

The emperor waved a hand. “Oh for goodness sake, put those “your grace” things aside when you are here. Here I am just a man, flesh and blood, weakness and flaws just like every body else. They may call me the a son of heaven or a child of dragons but my father was flesh and so was his father too. It is all a show, and sometimes a rather lousy one too but it does give me the opportunity to keep an eye on things.”

 

Maglor had to grin. “ I was a king, for a short while. I didn’t want it, but it happened nonetheless”

 

The emperor grinned, his dark eyes and elegant features made him look rather handsome in spite of his obvious age. “Oh I know that fate so well my friend. I wasn’t given much of a choice neither, I was the one most suited for the job and it has been a sacrifice but one I haven’t truly regretted, yet!”

 

Maglor smiled, he reminded the elf of his grandfather. Finwë too had had this somewhat melancholic and yet accepting view upon his situation. “It is a lonely life?”

 

The emperor nodded and emptied his wine. “Very lonely, being put on a pedestal gives you a great view but it is windy at the top, and you are exposed. I have wives and children and I am surrounded by people all day long but still? I am a prisoner, imprisoned by my title and my duty and I cannot escape in any manner. To my death I will remain emperor and only on the other side will I find freedom”

 

Maglor felt sad somehow. “I am sorry”

 

The emperor smiled slowly. “And you mean it too, you do not speak hollow words. I like that, there are plenty of spit lickers here at court and half of the nobles are so inbred I wonder if they are able to tie their own shoelaces. I bet most of them need a servant for that too.”

 

Maglor sort of scoffed, the man had a sense of humour and it seemed to be of the dark type. The emperor tilted his head. “My daughter believed that she would be able to become powerful, to rule a realm all of her own. I wouldn’t have stood in her way hadn’t she acted like an idiot. Sparkling flower was raised by her mother and is a shining example of why royal children has to be raised by servants. Power corrupts you see, and none of my offspring have any real power until I know for sure that they can handle it, without flipping over like she did”

 

Maglor nodded “I wondered about that, she held orgies and acted like a monster”

 

The emperor looked down. “Yes, she was a menace here too, and yet I loved her. Her mother was given to me as a gift, a very beautiful woman from a realm to the southeast of here, but unfortunately she poisoned the girls mind from the very start. When women are given no rights and no real power they become dangerous and even self destructive. She is a prime example of that.”

 

Maglor remembered his cousin Galadriel and her ambitions, he wondered what had happened to her, was she still alive somewhere in middle earth? Was she happy? He just nodded and the emperor looked at the wall with a distant gaze. “ I am the ruler of millions Maglor, the one to decide the fate of thousands of souls and yet my own fate is out of my control. Isn’t it ironic? I cannot even protect my own daughter from her own short comings”

 

Maglor tried to smile. “I am sure you did whatever you could”

 

The emperor snorted. “Bha, and that was not much, just giving in when she asked to be sent to the Sha’al. I hoped that she would prove to be mature enough to understand what sort of responsibility I had placed upon her but no, she only sought her own enjoyment.”

 

Maglor remembered hearing of other cases like that, the Sha’al was the one which sprang to mind first. Ironically the Sha’al and his young queen had been rather alike. The emperor took a deep breath. “I am not a young man anymore, and yet the demands I face each day haven’t diminished at all. I must always be strong, always be in charge of my own feelings. When my astrologer tells me to bed some concubine in order to conceive a son I have to oblige, or else my power will be questioned. When my army is showed off  I have to ride in front, so everybody can see my might and splendour. I wear a mask all the time and only in here am I truly me, truly Ayjun. This room elf, is more sacred to me than any temple and only a handful of people does know of its existence. “

 

Maglor bowed his head. “I hear you, I will not speak of it to anyone”

 

Ayjun smiled gently. “I trust you, and now to the real reason I summoned you here, and the answer to your question of what I will do. I will live for perhaps a few decades more, then age will claim me. I will choose a son to follow me on the throne but I wish to make sure that this realm is kept safe. You are immortal, you can prepare us and strengthen us for the future, make sure my legacy never will fall into the hands of darkness. I will entrust you with this task, make my realm strong”

 

Maglor swallowed hard. “I will do my best, but how?”

 

Ayjun tilted his head. “From the shadows my friend, from behind the façade. Nobody must know of your true intentions, of your assignment but you will spread awareness and influence people a little at a time. A small trickle of water may fill an ocean given enough time, you must be that trickle”

 

The elf nodded, he felt a bit overwhelmed but he had been prepared for this, at least partly. “So who am I to be?”

 

The emperor closed his eyes. “The one closest to the ruler, a personal counsellor, camouflaged as an exotic servant, as a precious pet. A protector and a bringer of advice, one to ensure that none of my descendants stray from the path of light. You have seen darkness my friend, make sure this realm never becomes its tool”

 

Maglor filled his lungs. “I will do as you bid, for as long as needed”

 

Ayjun grinned widely and petted the elf on the arm. “Good, from now on you will be a teacher for my children among other things, and you will tell me which of my sons I ought to choose as my heir. The people will not know of your true nature, only the court and they will keep their tongues behind their teeth if they value their influence.”

 

Maglor frowned. “Are you sure?”

 

The emperor nodded and there was steel in his eyes. “I haven’t ruled this realm for more than thirty years without learning which buttons I need to press to achieve what I wish. Worry not, nobody outside of the palace will know I have an elf in my service”

 

Maglor bowed his head. “Alright, the Sha’al believed I could keep him young forever.”

 

Ayjun snickered. “Oh what a glorious fool, craving what the Gods have denied you is never wise, and futile at its best.  I have no such foolish ideas. You are safe here, but beware, even here many lust for more power and the moment you become important people will do whatever they can to remove you from my favour”

 

Maglor had to laugh. “I know, the courts I have visited did also work like that. Lots of backstabbing, both metaphorically and quite literal.”

 

Ayjun put down his glass. “You will soon receive a gift from me, to show how grateful I am of your skills. In reality she is one of Feng’s trained girls, and she will be a second set of eyes and ears.”

 

Maglor blushed. “I do not need a concubine”

 

Ayjun laughed, “Of course not, you have that gorgeous blonde of yours, but I will gift him with one too, just to make it seem natural. Worry not, they will become useful, believe me”

Maglor had to sigh, that too!

 

Ayjun got up. “I have to return to my wretched duties, but you have given me some hours of information and things to consider. I thank you for this”

 

Maglor blushed lightly. “It was an honour”

 

Ayjun bowed his head. “I will summon you again later, I wish to hear more of the firstborn, and the past. “

 

The elf blushed even deeper. “Gladly my lord, I will come when called”

 

Ayjun nodded and rang a tiny bell. “Good, now, return to your quarters with Hushru here and I will soon arrange the formalities.”

 

Maglor bowed deeply and the door opened, he saw that same man as before waiting and he followed him back to their building. His mind was reeling, but he felt that fate itself had intervened. He was where he was supposed to be, where the powers wanted him to be. Now he would have to see if he truly could protect this realm from the powers of the dark maia and its followers.

 

Bringer of lies and deceit by Nuredhel
Author's Notes:

Maglor's role is about to change yet again, from a dancer to a warrior...

 

 

Chapter 15:Bringer of lies and deceit.

 

Maglor soon discovered that things indeed did change also within this realm, the changes were always subtle and they did take time but they were there. The introduction of the collection had shifted the tastes of the court towards different types of entertainment and now many came to Thasul and the trainers and asked them to train also their own artists. Few were given this honour though, the trainers had more than enough to do already and they weren’t swayed by money or influence. But a few were given permission to train there and they were kept separated from the collection and they had to prove that they had real talent too. Maglor had sort of dreaded having to teach the emperor’s children but he soon discovered that they all were eager to learn and also very humble.

 

He did like this extra job for it did provide him with some very different tasks and he did also learn a lot. He had a fairly good grasp on the local culture but every now and then he did notice things he had been unaware of. One of the young princesses had a servant who wore some odd facial tattoos and he did also see some old women who were unable to work since their feet were crippled. It was an old custom which was abandoned now but some still lived who had been the sad victims of this tradition. It was done to ensure that the women wouldn’t run off and thus stay at home where they could be controlled.

 

The performances were a joy now, something they all looked forward to and the others had sort of changed a lot. It was changes which were rather subtle but Maglor did see them rather well. Most of them had thawed a lot when the Sha’al was brought down but they had still lived within his shadow, now they were somewhere new, and there were nothing there which reminded them of the past. They had blossomed and Maglor found great joy in this fact. Maglor did often meet with the emperor within his secret room and they had long conversations, Maglor did know that the man appreciated this a lot and the elf did also like these quiet evenings with good wine and relaxation. The emperor did discuss the realm and its problems with Maglor, the elf did recognize many of the things he struggled with from his own brief time as a ruler and he hoped that the advice he did give was sound.

 

They had been there for half a year when the Ayjun one evening looked more worried than ever before and Maglor became a bit nervous. He saw that the emperor looked tired and there was a dark expression within his eyes. Maglor didn’t speak until Ayjun sat down and made a grimace. “I see your face my friend, yes, you are allowed to ask”

 

Maglor managed to smile. “I doubt that I need to, something is bothering you greatly”

 

Ayjun sighed and grasped a goblet of wine, Maglor did notice that his hand was trembling ever so slightly. “Indeed it is, you have heard of the war campaign up north? Some barbarians are rustling their feathers and they refuse to listen to common sense. They do believe that they can attack this realm and occupy land which belongs to us.”

 

Maglor frowned. “I have heard about it yes, is it a real problem?”

 

Ayjun sighed again and made a grimace. “No, not really, I could send just a few of my troops and they would be obliterated completely but I don’t want to do that. Needless bloodshed should always be avoided, we are civilized and peaceful, not mad dogs. I want to solve this in a more elegant manner, by diplomacy.”

 

Maglor leaned back against the backrest and tilted his head. “I know, but this war chief doesn’t sound like someone who wants to back down at all?”

 

The emperor nodded slowly. “And herein lay the problem. I cannot convince the blockheaded fool of the folly of his deeds. I have forged an alliance with some of the tribes south of his realm, they will do their outmost to keep him at bay but I doubt that it will be a success. I don’t want to bring an army up north, too many lives will be lost”

 

Maglor found this a bit fascinating, things were done so very differently now from when he  was forced to rule. “What sort of an alliance?”

 

Ayjun put down the goblet. “One forged through marriage, I have to marry the daughter of the one in charge of those tribes. Yet another demand fate has put upon me, I cannot say that I am looking forwards to this at all”

 

Maglor blinked. “Yet another wife?!”

 

Ayjun looked as if he was tasting something rather foul. “Yes, but there is no way around it. We need those tribes as a sort of buffer, if that idiot think that he can make a move against this realm he will have to get past them first and I know that he does respect them, at least to a certain degree.”

 

Maglor had to snicker. “So you are not looking forward to yet another wedding?”

 

Ayjun almost snarled. “No, most definitely not, but I just have to. And I bet she is pretty and young and eager too. I am not young anymore, my libido is dwindling and a hot blooded bride is the last thing I need”

 

Maglor tilted his head. “Can’t your oldest sons do the honours? They are old enough to marry?”

 

Ayjun scoffed. “Yes, they would do well as husbands, it would teach them a wee bit about responsibility but no, it has to be me. Until one of them can take the title of emperor they are nobody in the eyes of that chieftain.”

 

Maglor did pity the emperor. “So, when is the great day to come? And what do you know about this bride to be?”

 

Ayjun made a grimace again. “Next full moon, that doesn’t give me much time to prepare now does it?  All I know is that she is regarded as a very wise girl and that she is about twenty years of age. That is rather old for a bride so perhaps that label of “wise” is an euphemism for “unattractive” What do I know really!”

 

Maglor tried to hide a small grin. “You will find out soon enough, think about the alliance. It will be useful for sure”

 

Ayjun nodded. “Beyond doubt yes, Tharaghan the great is stupid enough to think that he can challenge this realm head on. He does have a great army but they are not really soldiers. He is uneducated and very superstitious and he has never seen anything else than the vast steppes and the small villages of his people. If he does go to war against us we do have to fight back and it will be as if an aunt decide to charge at an elephant.”

 

Maglor looked down. “Maybe he does need a demonstration of your strength? Have he seen your soldiers? Have he seen the weapons you have?”

 

The emperor frowned. “Know what? You are right, it could be that he need to see what we can accomplish. I will think about it, but I still have to go through with the wedding. “

 

Maglor tilted his head. “See it as an opportunity to dress in style”

 

Ayjun scoffed and then he laughed “You do see the good side of everything my friend, bless you for that. If that girl does expect a vigorous and zealous lover I am afraid she will be greatly disappointed but at least I am no overly eager teenager who will just go for it and be done in seconds”

 

Maglor had to snicker. “That is the right attitude, but do think about what I said. It could be that the sight of a real army will make that war chief change his plans”

 

Ayjun smiled. “Speaking of plans, I have finally chosen the two concubines you and Aodh are to be gifted with, I know you think you don’t need them but I insist. You are slowly becoming someone of importance and you will need someone to guard your back”

 

Maglor sort of cringed but he didn’t protest, he had sort of hoped that the emperor had forgotten about the promise he had made. “I guess I am grateful”

 

Ayjun laughed out loud. “Oh that is precious, you guess you are grateful. I do so appreciate your honesty. Few dare to speak their mind directly to me”

 

Maglor shrugged. “I remember that too, things were sugar coated and twisted until there were nothing left of the truth. “

 

Ayjun got up with a groan, his age did show now when he wasn’t trying to hide it and Maglor knew that he soon would have to chose between his sons and decide who he would declare as his heir. “I will talk to my generals, they may have some ideas. Take care my friend, I will look forward to our next meeting. “

 

Maglor got up too and bowed gracefully. “Me too, it has been a pleasure as always”

 

Ayjun was still chuckling as Maglor left the room, he knew the way now and didn’t need to be guided and he walked back to his own rooms with many thoughts spinning through his head. He was greeted by the cats and sat down by his desk. Lately he had tried to write some poetry in the style of this realm and it wasn’t easy for the poems themselves didn’t really reveal what they were about. The main theme was sort of hidden behind the lines and thus they were hard to interpret. He liked the challenge but he had already made a few blunders and the list of unwritten rules was very long indeed. Aodh was training with Demetry for a new sort of dance routine and Maglor was all alone for once. He was thinking about the things Ayjun had said, the best way to avoid a war was in fact to show some real strength and determination, this Tharaghan was probably the type who only understand one language and that was violence. Maglor hoped that the emperor didn’t need to shed blood, he was a wise man but sometimes wisdom can come at a price.

 

Aodh returned late and he was really tired and Maglor did realize that he too was getting older. The blond did drink some wine and sat down. “You look thoughtful?”

 

Maglor nodded. “Yes, I have received some news today. The emperor is to get married again, to form an alliance with some northern tribes.”

 

Aodh frowned. “Why? “

 

Maglor sighed. “The war chief we have heard of? The one raising hell along the borders? Ayjun want to use the tribes as a sort of buffer zone.”

 

Aodh leaned a bit forwards. “Uh, that is silly? With his number of men and his strength he could easily wipe the floor with that war chief and his men?”

 

Maglor nodded. “Yes, but he does prefer diplomacy first. Tharaghan haven’t seen the true strength of the empire, he probably thinks that his army is large and impressive”

 

Aodh almost giggled. “From what I have heard it is nothing compared with the armies of this realm, is this man nuts?”

 

Maglor shrugged. “I suppose so? But time will show, I gave the emperor some advice and maybe he will follow it too. “

 

Aodh went over to the bed and laid down. “Good, ah, have you heard the latest news?”

 

Maglor frowned. “The latest news? No?”

 

Aodh snickered. “Aerhan is about to become a dad, he has managed to knock up one of the servant girls who found him so fascinating. “

 

Maglor just blinked. “Oh darn, ah, how did he react to that piece of information?”

 

Aodh grinned widely. “Supposedly with great calm, he almost passed out!”

 

Maglor had to laugh. “Good for him, but he will continue? Dancing I mean?”

 

Aodh shrugged. “I don’t know, I suppose so? He has to support her from now on, pregnant women are not allowed to work you know”

 

Maglor swallowed, this reminded him of all the things he had lost and he sort of grimaced and put down his quill and tried to remain calm. Aodh saw his expression and sighed. “I am sorry, I didn’t think. Are you alright?”

 

Maglor nodded slowly. “Yes, it is…it is just hard, to be reminded that there is a difference between us after all. I am not human, and I never will be.”

 

Aodh embraced him. “One day you will meet someone too, I am sure of it. You are a good person, whoever your gods are, they must see that? “

 

Maglor just caressed the strong arms and leaned his head onto Aodh’s shoulder. “No Aodh, I have done things you cannot even imagine. Let it lay, forget about it. Maybe I am meant to be here to make amends for my sins, I cannot hope for the joy Aerhan is blessed with”

 

Aodh took a deep breath. “Then come with me to bed and let me at least put your mind to ease for a while, it is late and tomorrow is yet another day”

 

Maglor nodded and got up, he was feeling melancholic. “Yes, you are right, another day”

 

They went to bed and when the servants came to change the candles both were asleep.

The next day they were awakened by one of the higher ranking servants, the man was grinning and he seemed eager. “Good morning gentlemen, our great father has sent you gifts”

 

Maglor groaned inwardly, the concubines! Damnation, he had almost forgotten about that. Aodh yawned and got out of the bed, he put on a robe and Maglor joined him, both were at least decent when the servant opened the door and two females entered. Maglor tilted his head, both were rather tall and their facial features told him that they were of mixed race. Their faces were more elongated and they eyes larger than on the local women. Both were gorgeous though, with long black hair and both wore simple but elegant clothes and Maglor did realize that they had to be twins. They were so alike it truly was hard to tell them apart. He tried to smile and the servant bowed deeply. “This is Yanhe and Yanhu, they are very well trained and capable of making a man very happy, in every way”

 

Maglor didn’t doubt that, both girls looked curious but not alarmed and he realized that they had been informed of who they were to serve. Aodh looked stunned and Maglor had to grin a bit. “So, you two girls are from the great father’s own harem, are you ready to serve two simple performers?”

 

They looked a bit shocked by the question. “Of course we are, it is an honour”

 

Aodh sort of giggled. “I wonder what the other guys will say when they see these two?”

 

Maglor just rolled his eyes. “I don’t care, so, which one of you is Yanhe and which one is Yanhu?”

 

The girls laughed. “I wear earrings, I am Yanhe. I am for Aodh.”

 

Maglor smiled. “Great, then we can tell you apart. So, I bet you weren’t born here?”

 

Both shook their heads. “No, we come from east of here, near the coast. We were sent here as children, to train. The seers saw that we were destined for that”

 

Maglor sighed. “Alright, are you aware of the fact that this will be different from serving say a noble man? We have duties and spend much time training”

 

The girls nodded as one. “We do know yes. Worry not, we will not be in the way”

 

Maglor smiled and hoped that she was right, these two could most certainly cause some uproar. Both were stunning and Maglor wondered if they perhaps could be masked as performers? They were both athletic and they were probably more than capable of filling the role as dancers. It wouldn’t look odd at all if the collection now also were made to include females, after all, the emperor didn’t favour males the way the Sha’al had and the culture here was very different. Maglor pointed towards a couch placed in a corner. “Right, you may wait there until we are dressed and then we’ll let you meet the others”

 

Both girls giggled and sat down and Aodh stared at Maglor with huge eyes. “Hot damn, and they are ours?”

 

Maglor nodded. “Yes, but don’t think they are slaves, they are here to make sure that nobody try to do anything funny, I have become someone with influence through my friendship with the emperor, which means we both can become targets since you are my lover”

 

Aodh just grinned. “It doesn’t frighten me, oh I cannot wait to see their faces when these two show up”

 

Maglor felt a short sting of worry, he had come to appreciate Aodh a lot and he was suddenly afraid that the man would lose his interest in Maglor when he had a pretty female readily available at all times. They got dressed and walked to the great hall where the others had gathered and the two girls did indeed cause quite a stir but not as much as one perhaps would anticipate. Thasul did immediately declare that they were to be a part of the shows and that they could pretend to be prop workers and help Noolar and the others with their dances. They would fit right into that dancing routine and both accepted that gladly. Maglor was glad they didn’t protest at all, they were probably capable of adapting to almost any situation they could encounter.

 

The odd thing was that Maglor and Aodh got used to the two rather fast, at first it was strange to have them there all the time but both were easy going and nice and Maglor found that they indeed were very well educated and he found it stimulating to talk to them. Aodh on the other hand had another way of appreciating them, he was after all not that intellectual and soon Maglor found himself dragged into veritable orgies. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate it but he often found it to be a bit disturbing. Both girls were trained also in this art and capable of giving great pleasure but the elf did appreciate mental stimulation higher than physical one.

 

The emperor’s wedding was drawing near and the party which was to be held demanded excellent entertainment so they had to train a lot. Both girls were tasked with dancing and did so very well and for a few weeks all their energy was put into training. New costumes were made and new routines practices and Maglor didn’t get to meet in private with the emperor until the day before the wedding. He was shocked by what he saw, Ayjun was pale and his face a bit drawn and there were dark rings underneath his eyes. He did look older than before and Maglor sat down and felt a sting of fear. Ayjun sighed and his movements were stiff. “You were right, it cannot be solved through diplomacy. I sent some men to the war chief, may the ancestors curse his bones. Three days ago I received their heads, in a casket filled with turnips. I cannot ignore that”

 

Maglor swallowed. “Does he want a war?

 

The emperor nodded, wetted his lips. “Yes, he thinks he can win. When this mess is over with I am going to send troops up north”

 

Maglor nodded. “That is wise, show him that you do have teeth”

 

Ayjun looked at Maglor with eyes half shut. “You have fought in many battles have you not? You have seen war, I want you to go up north and see what it is that man is up to. Is he really so stupid or is there something else going on?”

 

Maglor blinked a few times. “Ah, of course, It is an honour.”

 

Ayjun sent him a pale smile. “I trust you Maglor, you are capable to seeing what man cannot for you have a different background. And I bet you are a capable warrior as well”

 

Maglor nodded but he felt a knot form in his stomach. He hadn’t thought of that possibility for a long time, that he once again would have to pick up a sword and go to war. But this time it would be for a worthy cause and if he was lucky he wouldn’t have to fight at all. “I…I am very capable yes”

 

Ayjun smiled again and patted his shoulder. “I have several reasons for sending you my friend, I want you to watch and evaluate the warriors, both those of the enemy and our own, If there is any flaws in their training I want to know and I want it addressed. We cannot allow ourselves to grow soft in times of peace, it may become our downfall later on”

 

Maglor bowed his head. “That is most wise of you, I will do my best”

 

Ayjun went over to a table and opened a small box which rested on it. He picked something up and brought it with him back to the elf. “Here, wear this at all times. It shows that you have the right to speak on my behalf. “

 

It was a ring, bright green and obviously made from Jade and in the middle was a huge garnet which shone like blood. Maglor blinked and bit his lower lip. “Are you sure about this?”

 

Ayjun nodded. “Yes, you carry our hope for the future, you have full freedom to use whatever authority you need from now on.”

 

Maglor could only swallow and smile, it was really overwhelming. The emperor put on a fake grin and his eyes did sparkle with mirth. “I better go and get ready for this grand event, I doubt that I will impress my new wife but at least I can look amazing when I want to. The servants have gathered some robes and I fear that my back will snap while wearing them for I bet not even a horse would be able to carry all that weight.”

 

Maglor did pity the man, a lot. He was like a puppet in the hands of fate and had to sacrifice almost everything in order to keep things in order. The elf wondered how in heavens name anybody could wish to become an emperor, it had to be a cruel fate unless you were a cruel person, like the Sha’al.

 

Maglor and the others had a very early dinner that day and went to bed early. The preparations were on their way everywhere and the palace was being decorated and everything had to be in perfect order. The servants were scurrying around like frightened rabbits and the work leaders had panic in their eyes and were sweating as they ran around shouting orders. Everything had to be ready.

 

The morning came with the sound of trumpets and drums and a thousand doves were released the moment the sun did leave the horizon. The collection wasn’t to be a part of the celebration until after the ceremony and Maglor was glad, there were endless rows of traditions to be followed and he already knew that the bride and groom had a very hard day ahead of them. The collection had to prepare to and had a light breakfast and then they warmed up and went through the routines one last time. Maglor was a bit nervous, he and Aodh were to do the sword dance and this time it was very important that nobody made any mistakes for that would be a bad omen.

 

When they finally were let into the huge hall everybody were shivering with nervous anticipation, the hall was enormous and filled with tables and the bride and groom were placed upon a dais and sat there on a throne each and looked as if they both were terribly bored. Maglor saw that the bride wore a very elaborate headdress with long golden chains hanging down forming a sort of veil and it also decorated her hair in a peculiar manner. She wore a sort of kimono which was so stiff it had to be like wearing plate armour and her face was covered with make up. She did look like a masque of some sort, not a living person. The emperor too was wearing some very elaborate robes in gold and green and he had probably dye put into his hair and had make up on too, for he did look better than the day before.

 

 

The entertainment was to last for hours and Maglor and the others were very glad when their part was done. The hall was filled with nobles and the atmosphere was good but there were tension there too. Maglor could sense it, the conflict up north was making many nervous and that the emperor did marry this girl to forge an alliance could be seen as a sign of weakness by some. Maglor had already decided that he wanted to bring Aodh with him up north, he needed someone by his side who he knew and the two concubines would of course come too. He was already making plans as they returned to their home, he wanted to make sure that nothing went wrong and the sad death of the emissaries told him that this war chief was bold and brutal. He saw why the emperor was nervous, such a man can be manipulated by someone even more ruthless and crazy.

 

He and Aodh did spend some days packing and preparing and troops were chosen to go, there would be some cavalry and also some of the emperor’s elite corpse. They all had been given new equipment and they all looked amazing. Ayjun spoke to Maglor the day before they were to leave. He was obviously tired and Maglor wondered if it was the new wife who wore him out or the general situation. Ayjun was sitting down and he was smiling but his eyes were sad. “I am a newly wedded man  and yet I feel little joy.”

 

Maglor frowned. “The marriage isn’t a very happy one?”

 

Ayjun sighed. “She is a daughter of the plains Maglor, born in a tent! She has spent her days riding and hunting and being free. Placing her in this court is like cutting the wings of a hawk and then expecting it to turn into a canary. She will probably fade away like roses on a chilly day. I try to protect her but the other women here are acting like hens, pecking at her whenever she goes.”

 

Maglor was a bit shocked. “They don’t like her?”

 

Ayjun shook his head. “Of course they don’t like her, she is threatening their positions. I have given her a sealed off part of the palace in which to live and her own servants. Until she learns more I think she will be better off being isolated from the court in every manner.”

 

Maglor sort of winced. “That bad? Poor girl”

 

Ayjun sighed again. “Yes, she is brave to have come here and I think I will try to find a way in which I can send her back home without her losing any honour. Time will show. But when you return I want you to help me chose my heir, I am very tired Maglor, and I know that my days are numbered. I want things to be organized and prepared for my…demise”

 

Maglor gaped. “You have years left?!”

 

Ayjun nodded. “Yes, probably, but if I know that everything is in order I can relax and enjoy these so called golden years. There is no reason why I should wait, my oldest sons are more than ready for this. “

 

Maglor took a deep breath. “It is a deal then, I will help you when I return. I swear!”

 

Ayjun grasped his hand and shook it gently. “Good, go in peace my friend and find out what that moron is up to. There has to be something we don’t know anything about behind it all, some hidden truth”

 

Maglor smiled. “I agree, I will reveal it all, don’t worry”

 

Ayjun grinned. “You are to pretend to be a general, I bet that the truth would shock even that barbarian. An exotic dancer is hardly what he would expect to go up against!”

 

Maglor had to snigger. “No, I bet he wouldn’t.”

 

Ayjun let go of the hand. “Ride knowing I trust you completely my friend. Gather all the information you can. I will be waiting here!”

 

Maglor bowed and kissed his ring and then he left the room. He had to get ready, they would leave by the first light of dawn.

 

-----------------

Saying goodbye to the others had been hard, he hadn’t been away from them for many years and now he was going on a journey he knew could last for months if not years. He was rather emotional when he told them to take care of his cats and make sure that they all did practice as much as they possibly could. He had been given some horses by the emperor in addition to those he already owned and all were excellent and of good breeding. He was also given a huge carriage in which to rest and Aodh were to share it with him. The two girls did ride with the two of them and revealed that they were expert riders. Both had been given rather docile mares and the animals were dun coloured. It was common that concubines and wives rode dun mares for it was said that it was smart since evil spirits couldn’t see a dun horse as well as one of other colours and then they wouldn’t be able to spook the animal. Maglor did ride a rather tall black gelding at first, it wasn’t his favourite horse but it was very hard to handle and that gave him some respect from the soldiers of the cavalry. The number of soldiers sent north was large, they were at least ten thousand strong and yet this was just a minor part of the army of that region. The emperor could muster millions if he needed it and Maglor did doubt that the war chief would dare to attack when he saw this.

 

At first they did ride through farmlands and villages and the landscape was relatively flat. Then sloping hills did take over for the plains and the hills continued for many days before they too rose into small mountains. Maglor was fascinated by the geology of this region, here and there they saw hills which had sort of lost their top and formed craters and he believed it to be a sign of ancient Volcanism at first but then their guides explained that many of the hills were hollow and that time and erosion made them collapse into themselves. Some formed very deep lakes while others were the entrance to huge cave systems. The local people didn’t dare to enter the caves though, they feared a sort of spirit they believed to live in them. Here people farmed other things, fruit and berries had taken over for the rice and the wheat and as the landscape did rise yet again sheep and cattle became the main source of income. The temperature dropped and Maglor realized that they would have to cross some rather high mountain passes on the way.

 

The landscape here became almost unreal, huge spires of rock with tiny patches of forest on top of them, rivers and gorges between them and sharp ridges no wider than a man. There was a road there, unbelievably enough, it was well made too and wide and Maglor realized that they had built huge bridges over the worst gorges and in some places the bridges were hanging from these odd stone needles. It was a lush landscape but odd and alien and few people lived there. There was little food to find for the soil was poor and the narrow valleys were dark and dank and there was always the risk of flash floods for it did rain a lot. Some had in fact hollowed out some of the stone towers and made villages on the inside of them and it was a very safe place to live for all they needed to do was to pull up the rope ladders and nobody would be able to get to them.

 

The army moved rather fast even in this terrible terrain and Maglor was impressed by the efficiency. He realized that the generals were very good, they didn’t push the men too hard but allowed them to rest well and regain their strength at certain intervals. After a week they were out of the odd area and a more normal looking mountain valley opened up in front of them. The guides said that this was the only way across the mountains  which by now seemed to touch the sky and Maglor was stunned by the wild beauty of this place. The people living there were tough and small and also very jolly. They didn’t seem to worry about anything, they had very little but made due with whatever they had.

 

Maglor did find some young boys who were willing to tell him  more of the history of the people and the area and he was entertained for several nights. He and Aodh would sleep very tight now for it was ice cold there and even the carriage couldn’t contain the heat very well. Maglor could deal with the cold but Aodh had become accustomed to the warmer climates and had some problems. He was shivering a lot and wore their best and warmest cloaks. They had reached the mountain pass when Maglor for the first time met someone who could tell them more of their enemy. It was a warrior from one of the tribes which weren’t loyal to this leader and he was heading towards the south to sell some jewels he had found in the mountains. He had a pack horse behind him and carried two slightly curved blades and he did look like a very tough person. Maglor found the man fascinating for he did speak the language of the capital very well and he appeared to be very well educated and after a while he did reveal that he in fact had been born in the capital by a mother who had been one of the mountain people.

 

He had returned to his mother’s people when he was ten since she divorced her husband and left and took her son with her as the custom was and he hadn’t looked back at all. He was much happier in the wild mountains. When Maglor asked him about the war chief Ulkchan spat on the ground and made a sort of sign in front of his chest, as if to ward of evil. “Tharaghan is a bastard, the son of a rabid pig and a snake. He was always a coward and now he is mad as well”

 

Maglor frowned. “Could you please explain?”

 

The warrior grimaced. “He believes that he can conquer the entire world, that cities will fall at his feet and armies flee. He thinks that walls will crumble and kings surrender. He does believe that the gods have spoken to him but the truth is that he is being fooled and that rather royally too.”

 

Maglor got interested. “Is he being controlled by someone else?”

 

Ulkchan nodded solemnly. “Oh yes indeed, there is this priest you see, one who has convinced the poor idiot that he is the chosen one and will bring a new beginning to the world.!”

 

Maglor frowned and petted his horse which was getting rather impatient. “What sort of a priest is this and what faith does he preach?”

 

The warrior spat once again. “He does worship some ancient god, very dark and sinister. Apparently he can bring immortality to mankind but that is a huge load of horse crap. He is only after wealth and prestige, nothing else. The priest is a charlatan and a bandit and ought to be dragged to his death after a mad mule.”

 

Maglor felt a chill run down his spine, was the cult responsible for this? It was a very smart way of causing trouble, and if they played their cards well they could make people feel sympathetic with their goals. Maglor had to gather more information, and he had to do that fast. He thanked the man for the chat and told Aodh of the information he had gotten. Aodh was a bit shocked but it made him think hard. “If the emperor’s army does slaughter these mislead people the priest will most certainly use that to his advantage. I think he wants Tharaghan to attack and lose, to make the emperor seem like a terrible tyrant.”

 

Maglor made a grimace. “Know what? So do I, so we have to make sure that there won’t be any fighting. We have to win with as little bloodshed as possible. “

 

Aodh was stared down at the neck of his horse. “There is just one way to accomplish that my friend.”

 

Maglor sighed and nodded. “We have to get rid of the spreader of these lies, the priest. He serves Morgoth for sure, and he will not just back down. He is serving Tharaghan a lot of lies and makes it look like the truth and I don’t think Tharaghan will be as confident without the priest. Such men rarely are, they need that little push from the back to step forth and truly go for it”

 

Aodh smiled but the smile was a stiff one. “So, the plan is to assassinate the priest?”

 

Maglor nodded. “In a way that makes it look like an accident. Yes, we have to avoid a disaster here”

 

Aodh sighed. “The emperor is most certainly better off without these idiots.”

 

Maglor grinned. “He is better off without all these worries is a better way of saying it, we just have to find a way of doing this elegantly without arising suspicion.”

 

Aodh petted his horse “That won’t be easy?”

 

Maglor  shook his head and made his horse trot again, there was still at least two weeks of travel left.” No, it won’t be easy at all, but we have to try, for the sake of the realm. If someone worshiping Morgoth does get real power then Eru help us all”

 

He stared ahead at the road, his mind filled with alternatives, none too tempting. He was an elf, they wouldn’t expect that. He was rather sure that he could take advantage of his skills and his previous experiences. Yes, he would have to train a lot from now on, get familiar with a sword yet again. There was no way around it. He wouldn’t let Ayjun down, he had to solve this and keep the realm safe. It was his task, and he wouldn’t back away from it, no matter who or what he would have to kill to achieve that goal.

 

This story archived at http://www.faerie-archive.com/viewstory.php?sid=1758