Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Fairy Code by Kaitlyn Weiss

The Fairy Code
Captive of the Shadows
by Kaitlyn Weiss

Release - July 3, 2019


The day started out like any other weekday. Who knew it would be my last day of freedom?
It was a Monday, right after a great weekend camping with my friends. I love the outdoors, and I especially love Golden Lake. The oaks and birches there are huge, maybe even centuries old, and yesterday the air had been clear and especially fresh, with a misty fog emanating from the lake. Lit by the morning sun, it had glowed a luminous golden pink, as if alive...

“He was staring at you.”
I yawned into my receiver. Liza always thought that guys were checking me out. “He was looking at anyone who had breasts and long hair.”
“But he was especially interested in you!” She insisted. Her tone held a note of accusation. “I notice stuff like that, you know.”
“Whatever, Liza. So he took a look, got a thrill, and moved on.”
We were talking about some guy who had joined us at the lake. Nothing special about him. For example, when they missed me in the evening, he hadn’t tried to find me. Instead, he just hung around camp.
“Okay, Aurora, but I thought he was kind of cute.”
“Maybe, but I want more than ‘cute.’ But hey, I’ve got to go before the traffic gets bad. See you tonight. And thanks againyou’re my guardian angel.”
That last bit, by the way, was the truth. Whilst in the woods yesterday, I’d actually lost my way. I was on a little hike and came across a really unusual clearing:  it was perfectly round, with lush green grass and strange shadows cast by the trees. I’d sat down and unexpectedly dozed off. When I awoke, I jumped up and headed back to the campsite, and ... that’s when I realized I was lost. I found myself wandering around in a circle, always ending up at the clearing. It was as if every path I chose took me right back there. It was only the sound of Liza’s terrified screams that broke this strange spell. And then she burst into the clearing, wrapped her arms around me, and crushed me to her chest like a python crushing its prey.
Ding! Ding! There went the coffee maker and the microwave, meaning coffee was ready, and so was my breakfast burrito. My workday morning was settling into its usual routine, which was breakfast on the run, then a splash of makeup on my pale face ‑ even paler than usual from lack of sleep ‑ dark pants and a fresh, light blouse. For whatever reason, this was the dress code for senior researchers. It didn’t matter that 90% of the time I was in a white lab coat. And in the lab. And that the genes we were experimenting on didn’t care what I was wearing - I really didn’t need clothes at all as far as they were concerned.
Ah, the great outdoors.... As I sat in my car, my eyes strayed out the window. To be sure, we lived in a beautiful town, green, pretty. I can’t complain. But the images from my weekend at the lake made me feel like something was missing from my life.
Like usual, the institute was buzzing with activity. As I rode the elevator upwards, I heard all the latest gossip and news. It came mostly from the men, who, contrary to the old stereotype, actually liked to gossip more than the women.
“Did you hear that Lab 5 is in hot water again?”
“Did you hear that Rostova had an abortion a  fling with her junior technician.”
“... and they told him to just hand over his cash like a good boy. Yet another scammer!”
“Oh, Aurora, you’re so pale! Didn't you sleep well?”
The last question came from Zina, our lead researcher. Around 60 years old, Zina puckered her lips, like usual, making them look like a withered prune below her thin eyebrows.
“I guess not, Zina,” I flashed a mischievous smile. “I didn’t sleep much, what with the orgy I hosted last night.”
Yes, it was a typical day.
My lab was on the tenth floor. Five years ago, the Institute of Molecular and Applied Genetics had moved from an old, pre-war building to modern facilities. Now we were surrounded by light and glass. Our labs new were state of the art in terms of our equipment. Pretty fancy stuff.
I don’t know what was behind such dramatic changes. Rumor had it that our institute had been given a lot of money for research and development. But from whom, and why...?
I wondered, but didn’t really care. What mattered to me was that we no longer had to worry about securing new equipment and such.
In fact, we had just about everything we needed. And this morning, like usual, instruments quietly hummed, including the genetic analyzer, which was shiny and new, and people were bustling around the microscopes and test tubes. It was just another workday. Ivory-colored blinds shuttered the windows, preventing the sun from blinding us and interfering with our work.
The fateful intercom call came after lunch. I had just returned to the lab and donned my lab coat when the senior technician shouted that Osipov wanted to see me.
My hands grew instantly cold. What did the director of the Institute want from me? I didn't have any transgressions on my record – I’d always carried out the experiments accurately and in a timely fashion, without any incidents.
“Aurora, maybe the old man’s lonely,” smirked Rostik, the junior laboratory technician.
“Ha ha! That’s rich coming from you.”
“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” Alice sneered. Unlike Rostik, she sounded downright mean. But that’s our Alice for you – kind of like cut glass. She didn't like her position – she’d wanted mine. She didn't like her salary – everyone else earned more.
But it didn’t matter. Our lab was the best – young, fun. No one was older than 35. So maybe we were a little irreverent, but we were always conscientious about our work, and really, a little kidding around was okay.
“Don’t cry when you think of me,” I muttered, taking off my lab coat. I ran my hand over the collar of my blouse, fixed my hair, which was tied back, and for some reason sprayed a little perfume on my wrist. I took a deep breath, and headed for the elevator, still thinking about what could be the matter.
Osipov wouldn’t summon me for nothing. In fact, he was a rather rare sight at the Institute. And even when he did show up, all he did was reprimand us, or drone on and on about how grateful we should be for the privilege of working there. I don’t know what he expected us to do – maybe fall on our knees and kiss his feet or something.
Our beloved leader was located on the top floor – the twelfth. The reception room was huge, with polished floors, glass walls and a secretary at a long semicircular table. Everything was expensive, stylish, and slightly over the top. Why, for example, did the sofas have to be covered in gold leather embossed with DNA symbols? Or, why the low table made of thick green glass with multicolored splotches suspended within? And these plants in dark, ornate tubs ... It felt cold, more like a cemetery than a reception area.
They were already waiting for me. The secretary glanced up from her computer, waved her hand toward the massive door, and plunged into her work again.
“Hello, Sir,” I said, standing at the door. I was doing my best to sound calm and businesslike.
“Come in, Aurora.”
Hmm...Was that a quiver in his voice?
I stepped inside, sensed the door close softly and silently behind me, and all of a sudden felt a stab of fear, like I had walked into a trap. I knew that was silly, of course. I was simply standing before the director, who, for whatever reason, was acting like he’d been caught smoking by the teacher.
Honestly, the director really was acting strange. He hemmed and hawed, tapping his fingers on the smooth surface of the table, while something twitched in his neck. Now and then, he reached for a glass filled with a dark gold liquid. I doubt it was apple juice.
“What is it?” I asked, looking from the director to the figure of a man standing next to him.
The latter was the picture of calm. He was tall and too thin. He wore a gray suit, which hung on him as if on a coat hanger. His gray hair and gray face were so impossibly dull that I felt the need to look away. Faded eyes in a forgettable face, and long pale fingers sporting a single, simple ring.
“Aurora, we’re sending you somewhere.”
I felt my eyebrows shoot upwards. Independently of my will, my hand grasped my own ring and began twisting it. Made of metal fashioned into the shape of a snake devouring its own tail, it never left my index finger.
“Is this a business trip?”
Wait a minute, it’s not the director who handles business trips, but the senior researchers. Or maybe the deputy director of research.
“You could say that.”
I really don’t like ambiguity, especially when it comes to my personal life or my work. “Sir, I have experiments to attend to, so why don’t we get to the point. Then I’ll be on my way.”
“You won’t be going anywhere.” The gray stranger's voice was soft, yet creaky. It made my skin crawl.
“Excuse me? Who are you? And what gives you the right to talk to me like that?”
“I came to fetch you,” he said indifferently. “Let's go, I’m out of time. Your master awaits you.”
So, who let a psycho into the Institute?
“Sir, I’ll come back later.” I said resolutely — I had no desire to play these games. What was up with this stuff about a “master?” Had someone been bingeing too much on Game of Thrones?
“Aurora, listen to this ... man,” the director suddenly said, and I thought I heard fear in his voice. “He is the representative of someone very important to our institute. And so please, just go with him. Moreover, I have already accepted compensation for you.”
Compensation?!? What did he mean? Was he crazy? Was I dreaming?
“Compensation, Sir?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I sold you.”
“You, you… you sold me?”
The director pretended to be busy looking at the table. As if he’d suddenly noticed something interesting there.
“Come here, little one.” The stranger said. Suddenly, there he was, right next to me, grabbing my hand ‑ the one with the ring. His finger brushed the metal.
And then he sort of…howled... And recoiled, as if in pain. His gray, expressionless face flickered, briefly revealing a completely different visage beneath it. Then I too screamed and pulled away, rushing toward the door.
Apparently, it was I who was losing my mind. I really need a vacation, I thought as I swept past the gaping secretary, past the elevator, and raced down the stairs. Away, away from this crazy nonsense.
My work mates opened their mouths in astonishment when I burst into the lab.
“Aurora ...”
“I’m not here!” I snapped, grabbing my bag, “Get back to work! I’m going to the police station.”
Everyone's eyes widened. I wondered what they thought. But really, who cares? What mattered much more was getting the hell out of there!

I am a biologist and geneticist who has spent her adult life studying the mysteries of human origin. I know for a fact that no one can change their face, like a mask, in a matter of moments. It’s physically impossible!
I dashed outside and ran to the parking lot, to my car, all the while afraid I’d hear the gray man’s creaky voice at my back.
My cell phone rang, causing me, already seated at the wheel, to start. It was an unfamiliar number.
“Aurora,” I heard Osipov’s voice. “Get back here. You ... you, anyway, I can’t undo what is done. It is in your interest to go voluntarily. The contract has already been signed, and your stubbornness only worsens the situation and exhausts the patience of ... he who bought you.”
“I cannot be bought!” I shouted, starting the car. “Know that I'm going to the police and submitting a statement about your attempted abduction. Selling people - what the...! Is it because I’m an orphan? You think no one cares about me?”
I tossed the phone into the backseat, and clutched the wheel with trembling hands. With a shriek of tires, I pulled out of the parking lot and drove toward the nearest police station. I had to find how what was going on here.


No one tried to call me again. But I felt like I could feel the gray man’s eyes boring into my back. Now and then I peered anxiously into the rear view mirror, halfway expecting to see him sitting behind me, like in a horror movie. My hands grew cold at the mere thought of it.
Fortunately, I was alone. And, miraculously, I didn't get into an accident. In fact, I drove safely to the police station and almost ran toward the entrance. I didn’t feel safe out on the street. I mean, sometimes on the news they show how in the middle of the day people are kidnapped and dragged into cars. Even big men, so what hope would there be for someone as small as me?
It was quiet and sleepy at the station that post-lunch silence ‑ and the room was rather dark. The officer behind the glass looked at me a little lazily and raised his eyebrows in a question. Next to him stood a white sign: “Senior Lieutenant A.V. Krymov”
“Good afternoon!” I said, somewhat nervously.
“Hello, I’m listening.”
“Someone’s trying to abduct me.”
One of Lieutenant Krymov’s eyebrows fell into place, while the second remained suspended.
“Who?” He asked. From somewhere in the depths of the room a woman in a uniform poked her head out, and then withdrew it. And that was it. It was like everyone else was extinct.
“My boss,” I exhaled and tried to explain, “Listen, I work at the Institute of Molecular and Applied Genetics I’m a senior researcher. This afternoon, the director of the institute summoned me. He had a man in his office who tried to grab me, saying that he had bought me. And that they were going to take me to some kind of ‘master’.”
I shuddered at the last word, but went on:
“So I want to file a complaint about an attempted abduction!”
Krymov stared at me for a few seconds, then sighed and asked:
“Do you have a recording of the conversation? Any way to confirm what you’re telling me?”
“No! Of course not! How was I to know my boss would try to sell me? It’s crazy.
“Right. That does sound, er, crazy. Are you sure he wasn’t pulling your leg?”
“No!” I said indignantly. “No! You have to believe me! He was serious!”
“Okay, calm down. Let’s get to the bottom of this. What kind relationship do you have with your boss?”
“This isn’t like that!” I hissed. “You should see the freak he was with! He wasn’t normal, I mean it!”
“Not normal. Right. Got it. Sounds to me like maybe you need a vacation.”
“Listen, I’m in danger! Really in danger! I feel it, like something bad is headed my way. And those eyes at my back...”
I looked around, but there was no one there. Just a dark room with benches, and posters about battling crime. For a second, it seemed that the shadows in the corner flickered strangely, but after what I’d been through, I realized I could be seeing things.
Meanwhile, Senior Lieutenant Krymov was regarding me rather dubiously. “Ma’am, what’s your name?”
“Aurora Black, and I’m 27 years old.”
“You’re already a senior researcher?”
“That’s right. I'm a genius. Don’t let my looks fool you...”
“Calm down, Miss Black. You’re clearly upset. In fact, maybe I should call a doctor?”
“But they’re trying to kidnap me!”
“I really do think you need help. Of a medical nature. Maybe after that we can, er, file a report,” said Lieutenant Krymov, and I finally got it. I was wasting my time here. Wow. “Thanks, but I don’t think so,” I said, backing away from the window.
“Wait, miss! Don’t go!” said Lieutenant Krymov, and I suddenly got the creeps. This isn’t normal, I thought. And again, I turned around and fled.
Once on the street I got back into my car, and sat there, thinking. I was seriously starting to feel paranoid. Should I call Liza? I considered the idea for a few seconds, fighting to stay calm and think clearly.
Finally, I shook my head. Involving Liza might mean putting her in danger. I could not do that to my best friend. Gritting my teeth, I grabbed my phone from the back seat, ejected the sim card and tossed it out the window, and then sped off.
What I needed was a hotel. Hotels have security. Rent a room, lock the door, get to bed, I told myself. And in the morning, I’d simply call in and ask for some time off since I didn’t have any urgent projects going on at the moment. I’d submit my request by email with an electronic signature.
I chose a good hotel, closer to the city center, next to a brightly lit avenue. I opted for a simple single room and dined in the hotel restaurant, treating myself to a couple of glasses of Chardonnay. And yet, all the time I was on edge. I couldn’t shake this uneasy feeling. Was it residual jitters? Could just be the Chardonnay, which tonight made my head race with crazy thoughts. When I drink, I almost never get drunk. Generally speaking, wine usually relaxes me, and that’s it, but still...
In my room I carefully locked the door, and then, after thinking about it, I dragged a small bedside stand in front of it. There now. Should someone try to break in, the barricade would slow him down.
The room itself was ordinary. A bed with a nice comforter, blackout curtains, a beige carpet and a chair in the corner. A bottle of water and two glasses were perched on a round table. Oh, and there was a menu, in case someone suddenly felt like ordering room service.
Time to go to bed, so that, hopefully, in the morning, everything would seem like a crazy dream. I stripped down to my underwear, flipped the light switch off, and hurriedly climbed under the blankets. The moon glanced through the window, and pale streaks of light stretched across the floor and the blanket.
I was already dropping into sleep, when suddenly something made me start. It’s not like I heard a cough, or someone creeping around. It was just this strange feeling that lifted all the hairs on my body on end. I realized ... I was afraid. A wave of fear slowly rose from somewhere in the depths of my being, enveloping me more and more. It was like when kids get scared at night – they hear something strange, or see the play of light and shadows cast by an unseen monster. It’s the kind of fear that makes you turn to stone and shrink inside yourself at the same time.
I sat up and looked around at the gray gloom of the room. Everything was quiet, calm, except the thick shadows in the corner ...
There, they moved!
I blinked, deciding that wine and fatigue were playing a cruel joke. And then the shadows seemed to sigh and grow in size a little more.
This wasn’t happening!
I caught myself slowly crawling toward the headboard and whimpering in horror. But it swept over my head, turning my hands and feet to ice.
“My god...”
But no, I don’t know any prayers, not a one.
“This is a dream,” I whispered to calm myself down. But instead, the sound of my own voice scared me even more.
The shadows seemed to laugh, as if they were alive. They gradually grew, cascading across the walls and ceiling. They moved closer to the bed, which remained the last island in the looming inky darkness.
I was already crying softly, thinking about how to get to the door, yet deathly afraid to step out of bed. Then I couldn't stand it anymore and snapped into action, crawling across the mattress, slipping onto the floor ... The shadows swung in my direction and quietly, but clearly, hissed.
And I screamed. Because this just couldn’t be, it shouldn’t be. The laws of logic and physics were collapsing before my eyes.
Let them collapse. I was getting out of there. I rushed toward the door, though it took all I had I was stumbling in fear.
And then a male figure emerged from the yawning darkness, and moved toward me.


            The whine of car tires, a thump and a jerk. Screaming... lots of screaming.. And the crackling of flames. Pain all over my body, and the feeling that I was hanging upside down. Another jerk... yet one more, the screaming around me was interlaced with moans and the smell of blood and iron.
            I jumped up clawing at .... at the air. The last thing I remembered was a man who seemed to materialize from the night, and those strange, pulsating shadows clinging to him. My brain, already exhausted, hadn’t been able to process the sight, and so it did what it had to: it dispatched me into a deep unconsciousness.
            Or had it been something else that made me faint?
            I looked around, at the same time patting myself. Then I looked downward, remembering that I’d tried to flee wearing only my underwear.
            Which was gone. But now I was wearing a long white dress made of a very thin fabric. It was so thin that I could see my nipples through the fine material. And my bosom was barely covered by two flimsy panels and a prayer. Meanwhile, the sleeves of the dress were wide, but fit closely around my wrists.
            Sexual slavery! The thought flashed through my mind. It would explain everything: my being sold and that stuff about a master. The practice happened more than it should, in my corner of the world. But what brazen audacity! Selling women in broad daylight, at work!
            I flitted around the room, trying to figure out where I was. Alas, a smooth, opaque cloth shuttered the window, and try as I might, I could not open the heavy door. The rest of the room was pretty ordinary, although there were some oddities, such as a bed of frosted lilac glass and strange vine-like plants that almost totally covered the walls. Rarely, I could glimpse golden walls beneath the vines.
            I really wanted to scream and shout, call for help, vent and rage. But I didn’t, because I knew that this would probably make things worse. My best bet was to wait for someone to walk in and then make a run for it. My eyes fell on a black and lilac statuette depicting a woman holding a child. I picked it up and nodded to myself. It was nice, heavy, probably carved from stone.
            And before long, someone did show up. I’d been sitting on the bed, silently freaking out, so by the time the door swung open, I was ready to spring. The thought that I might be forced into slavery made me break out in a cold sweat, but it also made me mad as hell.
            You know, I probably should have tried diplomacy first. Instead, I rushed at the door brandishing the statuette.
            Which wasn’t smart at all. I fully understood how stupid it was when I was thrown back against the wall. The impact drove the breath from my lungs, even though the vines covering the wall softened the blow, if only a little. The next thing I knew, my hands were forced against the wall, palms out, and the statuette fell to the floor and rolled away. And I screamed, realizing that I was about to go stark raving mad.
            Because staring intently at me in a fury was a pair of eyes, inside of which a kind of darkness swirled.
            Then I felt a sharp pain in my right wrist, as if it had been burned to the bone. I screamed again and collapsed, having committed to memory the face of my tormentor. It was as if carved out of granite, the features were so sharp.


            Fainting twice in such a short time is a dubious pleasure. Especially since the first time I had nothing to compare it to.
            The second time I fainted, I wasn’t out for long. The pain is what woke me up. My right wrist was burning with fire, as if melted polyethylene was dripping onto it. It was like when I was a girl and my friends and I foolishly decided to make a fire in the backyard of the orphanage and melt cartons. At least I hadn’t ended up with any scars, back then.
            I was incapable of jumping to my feet, and so I slowly sat up. Someone had transferred me to the bed. Probably the same someone who sat opposite me now, in a dark armchair of a strange shape. He sat with folded arms, gazing into space. I remembered his dark, swirling eyes, and lowered my gaze.
            “What on earth...” I said involuntarily. Around my aching wrist burned a bracelet. Thin, ornate and bright red.
            “That bracelet branded into your flesh indicates that you belong to me.” The voice of the speaker was deep, and penetrated the very depths of my soul. It suited him, in terms of his appearance. Pale skin, short dark hair, a straight nose and thin, well-defined lips. He sat wearing only black pants tucked into high boots, as if he wanted me to see that every inch of his body was chiseled as if by Michelangelo: Wide shoulders and narrow hips, a six-pack abdomen and armor-plated chest. My heart was pounding, but certainly not in admiration.
            The stranger filled me with an instinctive horror.
            “I’m no one’s property.”
            “In this world you are. I bought you from your master.”
            Ah, it seems the chatter about a sale and a master had ceased being fun and had morphed into a real problem.
            I took a deep breath and, as calmly as I could, said, “Until right now, I always thought of myself as a contemporary kind of person, you know, free.”
            As I spoke, I felt the fine hairs rising on my arms. I mean, how to act around someone who thinks he bought me? What I wanted most of all was to get as far away as possible. But, remembering the force that threw me against the wall, I did not dare risk flight.
            The man finally deigned to look at his ‘property.’ And I blinked, trying not to gasp. The darkness no longer filled his eyes. Instead, I saw a dark golden iris with a narrow cat-like pupil. The man grinned, and the pupil became ordinary.
            What was going on? Was it some kind of trick?
            “You signed a contract at work. According to our laws, your employer is your master. I bought you from him.”
            “They will be looking for me.”
            It was good we were talking. The longer we talked, the longer I put off the possibility of being raped.
            The man’s narrow lips twitched slightly, as if my response amused him. “But of course, they look for everybody. Especially people who were brought up in an orphanage and favored books over friends. Aurora Black, I spent days learning all about you.”
            His nostrils flared, as if he had caught a scent. “I'll call you Rory.”
            “And I’m supposed to call you what, ‘master’?” I asked sarcastically. “What the hell am I here for?”
            “Good, you’re not hysterical. You have a strong psyche ... almost like ours. Let's talk, you must have a lot of questions, right Rory?”
            “Aurora,” I said through clenched teeth, “I’m not a dog whose name you can change on a whim.”
            “No, you’re not. You are my property.”
            I made a mental note to myself to stay calm — anger is not the way to respond to someone who was clearly insane. And it’s obvious that this was the case. Although his tones were measured, he seemed to be barely contained, like a dam about to burst.
            “My name is Doran. I am the Leader of the Wild Hunt, the Judge of the Three Courts and the Lord of Shadows.”
            Alright then, at least he’s not Napoleon. I silently hid my face in my hands and laughed. I laughed about the situation I found myself in, about my own foolishness, about everything. Where had I gone so wrong as to end up who-knows-where in the company of crazies?
            Strong fingers grabbed me above the elbow. Doran managed to do this without making a sound. “Come here.”
            I didn’t want to go anywhere with him, I didn’t want to be touched. But Doran easily dragged me to the window, although I struggled and kicked at him.
            “Stop that!” he said, intercepting my hand, ready to hit him. My efforts were futile, but I still tried to break free.
            “Look, Rory, just look.”
            Doran easily held my hands behind my back and pulled me against him. I squirmed, but he forced me to stand in front of the window. My bare back was pressed against his bare chest, which was so hot I recoiled. Was he sick? Was he raving because he was feverish?
            The dark surface of the window dimmed and disappeared, giving way to limpid transparency.
            And I caught my breath. This was impossible!
            Doran’s residence towered over the surrounding edifices, and so the city was spread out in a panorama. Strange, freakish. My head began to pound, and my stomach churned. The more I gazed at the lilac and white buildings, the more my head whirled. The city breathed with a kind of insanity, there was no other way of putting it. There wasn’t a single straight line, rather, it was a tangle of buildings and streets that seemed to breathe. I didn't see a single tree, nor any kind of green spaces. But there were numerous large statues, and when I looked at them, the nausea was unbearable, although at first glance I couldn’t see why. They were abstract carvings from dazzling white stones with dark veins.           
“Let go of me...,” I gasped I couldn't take it anymore. Doran silently released me, and even took a step back. And I fell to my knees, shaking and heaving, although my stomach was empty and I could only vomit bile.
            Strange, but after that I felt a lot better, and the throbbing in my temples even subsided. Now my head felt more like a bubbling cauldron, which was, somehow, an improvement.
            But why had I reacted so physically at the mere sight of a city?
            “Don't tell me that you have heightened radiation in the atmosphere,” I moaned, trying to catch my breath. “It’s...”
            “I know what radiation is,” Doran interrupted. I literally creaked as I turned my head, and saw that he was standing two steps away. He was looking at me with interest and approval. “Do you feel better now?”
            I listened to my body and nodded uncertainly. Better – at least the nausea had passed. My head was still pounding, plus waves of weakness rolled over me, but that could be because of the stress I was under.
            “I think you’ll be fine in a week,” Doran ‘comforted’ me and added: “Or sooner, if I deem it so.”
            Deem? Deem?!
            “Where am I?”
            “Ruadh ­ the city of the Sluagh, Shadows and Chaos. One of the three Faerie Courts.”
            I couldn’t hold it back – I giggled hysterically. Maybe I’d been drugged with some kind of stuff — what was it that caused hallucinations like this? Or, was I actually in a coma after an accident? This just couldn't be real!
            “You are not asleep, nor are you mad,” Doran seemed to have guessed my thoughts. “In the latter case, I would have to kill you, since you would be useless to me.”
            “Is that so?”
            “It is.” He approached again, and I did not have time to recoil before I was jerked to my feet, turned back toward the window, and forced to look at the lilac-white breathing city. For a moment, the nausea rolled over me again, and then it immediately disappeared.
            “Ruadh is partially subordinated to Chaos,” Doran’s voice above my ear vibrated deep into me. “Not every human mind can handle the sight of the city. If you don’t claw at your eyes and don’t beat your head against the floor, then your prognosis is good.”
            “So you weren't sure that I could handle it?”
            “No, I wasn’t sure.”
            My hands twitched from the desire to slap him. Alas, I lacked the strength and realized that, anyway, he definitely had the upper hand. He was in his element, while I could barely stand, I was so weak.
            “When you accept a job, Rory, you should take the time to read the terms of the contract.”
            “I don’t recall anything about selling employees,” I managed to snap. I couldn’t resist looking at the city, even though I had no desire to. It was like being drawn to something that both repelled and fascinated at the same time.
            Get away from me already! I thought. I wanted to be sitting on the floor instead of standing as I was, literally in an embrace with a stranger, a rogue. Whose fingers burned through the thin fabric of my dress, and whose visage frightened me. Not to mention his conduct.
            “Sometimes you have to read the fine print. In your case, it was written that the employer has the right to send the employee to higher organizations at his discretion and for an indefinite period.”
I involuntarily swore. I had read that clause in my contract, and I could never have imagined such a twisted  interpretation.. “So now what? Why am I here? Is this a harem? Am I your sex slave?”
            Then I exhaled and shouted, releasing all of my accumulated tension:
            “What the hell am I doing here?”
            “For work,” Doran replied calmly. Apparently, he thought he had something resembling a sense of humor.
            “What kind of work? Enough puzzles, I hate them unless they fall under my specialty! If my professional skills are what is needed, why not just ask me for help?”
            “The Sluagh have never asked for help!” growled Doran.
            He turned me towards him again. His iron fingers clasped my chin, forcing me to look into his eyes, which again were clouded in darkness. “If I buy someone, no one will suspect anything. If someone comes to me voluntarily, it means that we are in an alliance. Or that he, or she, is valuable to me. And then that person’s days are numbered. Do you know why? Because attachment — is weakness. And we are always on the lookout for any signs of weakness in each other.”
            I breathed quickly and raggedly, afraid even to lift an eyebrow. I just looked into the completely opaque eyes and listened to the hoarse, growling voice.
            “I bought you, Rory, to ensure that you stay alive. Therefore, it is in your interest to submit to me. In Ruadh, without me, you would not last a day. Now, here is my first order: Go to bed and lie there until you stop puking and come to your senses. You will be looked after. I will try to see to it that you adapt quickly. And then we’ll sit down and talk. And, by the way, you humans, you know nothing about me and those I rule.”
            He pushed me to the side, causing me to land rather clumsily on the stone floor. And, wide-eyed, I watched what ensued.
            “I am the King of the Wild Hunt and the Court of Shadows.”
            Doran’s voice growled and lowered to a hiss. Strange shadows swirled around him. Absolutely black and terrifying.
            “I am he who lives on the edge of Chaos, and in alliance with him.”
            The shadows slid along his long legs, wrapping around his waist.
            “And therefore I can preside in all of the Courts. For only Chaos is neutral and indifferent to everything. It alone confers the right to render a verdict.”
            The shadows thickened into flickering shaggy manes with glowing red eyes. The grotesquely twisted muzzles of horses lengthened, replaced by no less grotesque dogs. And all this was delivered in a quiet sort of howling voice that pierced my soul. I didn’t realize it at first, but I was sort of howling, too, as I scooted away from him as fast as I could. I felt the leaves of the vines on the wall against my bare back, closed my eyes, and put my hands over my ears. I wanted to block out this nightmare.
            I was in serious trouble.
 Having scared me silly, Doran simply strode out of the room, leaving me sitting on the floor. I sat there another five minutes or so, and then crawled into the bed. I mean I really did crawl, because after Doran’s big scene, my legs weren’t up to supporting me. I couldn’t handle scary stories when I was a kid, and now here I was, thrust into one.
Bed seemed like a fine idea, actually. I still felt weak and wobbly and kind of muddled. It was kind of like having a slight case of the stomach flu, which a friend of mind caught once. I wondered why I felt this way, though.
Despite my unfortunate circumstances (to put it mildly), I was already processing everything I’d gone through. Perhaps this was my body’s way of dealing with it all. I was acclimating to my situation. I mean, it’s one thing to fly south and take a week to get over jet lag, but I’d been thrown into an entirely different world.
A different world ... it sounded stark raving mad.
My white dress was crumpled. I pulled it off with relish, and crawled under an unusually light, warm blanket. On top of everything else, I seemed to be chilled. I suddenly realized that my teeth were chattering from the cold issuing from deep within me. I quietly sobbed and bit my lip. Then the door opened, and someone new slipped in.
“I brought you food at the order of Doran.”
She was clearly a woman. And young. She wore a long dark-purple dress with a deep neckline and long flowing sleeves. Her hair was swept upward, and was an unusual gray color that almost blended in with the color of her face. And her eyes were enormous and black, rather like a bird’s. In contrast, the rest of her features were small and sedate.
With difficulty, I looked from the strange being to the tray that she put on the bed. My eyes immediately turned to her long fingers ending in sharp claws.
“You can eat this,” she explained, and added, “My name is Aderyn.”
“Aurora,” I mumbled, trying not to stare too openly at the girl. The food itself didn’t appeal to me much. My stomach was empty, but the nausea put me off of eating.
Meanwhile, Aderyn openly gawked at me. She didn't seem hostile, but she also didn’t display the slightest sign of friendliness. It was like I was some exotic animal at the zoo. So, I stared right back at her, and asked, “Is there something wrong?”
“Doran told me to make sure you ate.”
“I don't feel good.”
“That doesn’t matter. You should do what he says.”
“Or else what?” I asked acidly.
“Otherwise, he will punish me for not fulfilling his orders. You’ll catch hell, too. And so if I have to, I’ll force feed you.”
I could barely stop myself from diving for the plate laden with meat and vegetables and the glass with a strange bluish liquid. The last thing I wanted was to be force-fed by this creature.
“Drink the juice for starters,” advised Aderyn. “It will stop the nausea and help you get the food down.”
She kept her strange, unblinking eyes trained on me as I struggled to take two sips of the liquid. Then she smiled. Which was unfortunate. Aderyn's teeth were small and pointed, like that of a fish. “I’ve never seen a human before.”
“Back at you,” I mumbled, taking another sip. Yes, the bitter juice really did alleviate the nausea.
Aderyn sniffed and said, “You don’t stink.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Humans stink. Some reek of wickedness, some of lies, and some smell like sex. That’s what I was told. But you don’t stink at all.”
“So what does that mean?” I said, intrigued. What should I smell like, then? A thirst for knowledge?
“Well, either you’ll die or you’ll adapt to Ruadh. Doran will find out.”
What a thing to say. I mean, how very encouraging.
I totally lost my appetite, but Aderyn was hovering over me. For some reason, I believed what she’d said: she could absolutely force feed me. And if I were to spit the food out, she’d bring me something else and make me eat it. Doran's orders were clearly not open to debate here.
“And you're so frail,” said Aderyn. I pretended to occupy myself with the meat, which tasted like quail and melted in my mouth. It was good, but I ate just to get it over with.
Maybe I looked frail, but I really wasn’t. Most important, I was smart.
“I don’t know how long before he’ll use you up,” Aderyn went on. “Doran is a tireless lover, and humans, they say, are weak.”
I almost spat out the food: what’s up with this stuff about a lover?! Hello, who said anything about sex? Or was this a unilateral decision on his part?
Needless to say, after Aderyn left, I was beside myself. Despite my weakness and the headache, which had returned, I jumped up and, wrapped in a blanket, paced around the room. Damn, damn, damn! Fortunately, the window was again closed off, otherwise I would have lost the meal that I’d miraculously managed to keep down.
The light in the room was muted, golden. Pacing back and forth, I suddenly noticed how shadows were gathering in one corner. And I immediately guessed that I’d been ratted on.
When Doran, still clad only in his pants, materialized out of the thick darkness, I told him:
“If you touch me, I’ll hold my breath, got it? Or I’ll beat my head against the wall. Or I’ll come up with something else.”
And then I froze, waiting for a show of strength or something worse. But there was something strange about Doran, insofar as anything could be strange at this point. He shrugged his shoulders and ... began to peel off his trousers, under which there was nothing but his naked body. I stared wide-eyed, realizing that now, apparently, it didn’t matter what I wanted – sex was on the agenda. This was eloquently communicated by the erect shaft straining upwards. It was interesting how devoid of hair Doran’s body was. It was like he was carved out of hard wood. Every muscle was clearly etched and spoke of the incredible strength wielded by the King of Ruadh.
“The choice is yours,” he said, meanwhile casually dropping his pants on the floor, where they melted into a dark cloud, “You can lay here for a week, puking and passing out from pain all over your body, or you can get into bed and tomorrow you will feel a lot better. My energy will help you adapt faster. How do you call it ...” — a smile slid across his lips.
“Lust,” I said.
“Symbiosis,” Doran corrected me.
With obvious pleasure he settled into the bed, which suddenly seemed to shrink in size. It was quite small.
The nausea intensified, and for some reason I ached around my kidneys. Well, at least the wrist with my bracelet “brand” didn’t hurt anymore, but it itched.
“Hey, you said that since I didn’t die right away, that means I’m adapting!”
“Yes, that’s right. Only you can adapt the slow, painful way, or you can do it the easy, fast way.”
“I don’t want to have sex with you!”
“Don’t worry, I’m not interested in sex tonight,” Doran yawned. “I’m already sated, so I'm just going to sleep. But remember, Rory, I am asking you for the first and last time. After this, I will not put up with any protestations on your part.”
Alright, I wasn’t going to be raped after all. Just the same, I stood there, unsure of what to do. I really, really didn’t want to jump in bed with a naked man I didn’t know. And something I’d read in some trashy book about hooking up suddenly popped into my head. Essentially, it was that you shouldn’t sleep in the same bed with a guy unless you wanted to have sex with him. .
At the same time, I had no desire to experience an entire week of “adapting.” In all of my 27 years, I’d been laid up exactly twice: Once I broke my leg, and another time I suffered a concussion when I flew off my bike. But I’d miraculously avoided colds and such. Well, a couple of times I’d managed to get heat stroke. But that was it.
I took an indecisive step towards the bed, then another. After all, there was nowhere else to sleep, except on the floor. On the hard, bare floor. I wasn’t likely to be given a blanket or pillow.
Doran lay with his hands behind his head and his eyes closed, as if he didn't care: I could lie down or not. His broad chest heaved, as if this ... this beast had fallen asleep.
One more step ... another ...
My nails dug into the palm of my hand; I wasn’t at all sure that I was doing the right thing. But I needed strength to get out of here. And there was something else: I’d best be strong in this place, not helpless. Maybe it was Aderyn’s gaze swimming in my memory: too predatory and sinister. That’s the look one gives to future prey, a victim, not to an equal.
It was scary...
I knelt on the edge of the bed. It beckoned, so soft and warm, and I was still shivering. Not even the memories of Doran's hot touch scared me much. The light suddenly began to fade, as if by order. And in no time the room was plunged into darkness.
Absolutely. Startled, I flew onto the bed and covered myself with a blanket. For a moment, I almost experienced an attack of claustrophobia, so thick was the surrounding darkness. Inky black.
Then, a tiny lamp, invisible among the foliage on the wall, emitted a light, that slowly increased in brightness. It was weak, just slightly breaking up the darkness, but just the same, I breathed easier. And I laid my head on the pillow.
And found myself pressed against a solid, very warm male body. I couldn’t stop myself from crying out, startled.
“Symbiosis,” Doran said calmly. But his whisper raised the hairs on the back of my head. I froze, afraid to move, took a deep breath, and blinked. At the same time, I couldn’t ignore his still excited male organ pressed against my tailbone.
“Sleep, Rory,” he whispered above my ear again, making me shrink. “Tomorrow you’ll feel better, and I’ll tell you everything. I will teach you how to survive. Do not display fear or weakness to us. The stronger your fear, the more we’re attracted to the source. If you show you are afraid, they will devour you. Or, first they’ll rape you and then devour you. There are many options.”
“Why am I here?” I also whispered, staring into the darkness. Doran wrapped his arm around my waist and held me very tightly.
“You’ll find out.”
“Are you — faeries?” I asked him point blank.
I didn’t know much about mythology, but I did recall a thing or two. I had this Scottish lover once who adored the legends of his people. And often told them. I did not really listen, but somehow, I’d retained something from his stories.
“That's what humans call us. Sleep, Rory, I order you,” his was a little louder now, and sounded commanding.
Was he for real? How to fall asleep with some inhuman man breathing in my ear, excited and scary as hell? My fingers were numb and my throat was dry. Plus, our naked bodies were touching. More closely than some lovers embrace.
But all of a sudden, I fell asleep, as if a switch had been flicked off in my head in response to Doran's command.


I woke up to strange whispers and giggles. For a few seconds I struggled to cast off the last vestiges of sleep, and then I jumped up and began to look around.
The laughter quieted down. Near my bed three girls abruptly froze. They looked so exotic, that my eyes popped out of my head.
“Who are you?”
“Oh!” exclaimed one girl, whose hair sparkled in every shade of gold, “She speaks! We understand her! Her! A human!”
She had enormous blue eyes and perfect features, along with an ideal figure, which was barely covered with an airy, bright garment.
“Most likely Doran did what he could,” said another, with black hair and opal eyes. Slightly curved horns peeked out from under a canopy of hair, and a tail, much like that of a donkey, poked out from under a black dress that looked like swirling smoke.
“What do they call you, Human?” asked the third, whose appearance was the most startling of all. This was the first time I’d ever seen a creature with membranes between its fingers, long feathers instead of hair, and fangs instead of teeth. Despite this, she wasn’t at all ugly. Rather, she was exotic.
“Aurora, Aurora!” The golden-haired girl clapped her hands “That means ‘dawn.’ What a beautiful name”
“Shut up, Briallyn,” the dark-haired girl said, and then turned to me: “How do you feel?”
Strange. I feel strange. Kind of like a patient in a mental hospital.
“Okay,” I said.
And in fact, I did feel okay: The nausea had passed, as had the chills, and if not for feeling weak, I was perfectly fine. Had sleeping with Doran really helped, then? So, had he really spent the entire night there? Where had he gone? Although his whereabouts didn’t really concern me. What mattered was that he wasn't here.
“My name is Meldyt,” the brunette continued, “and this is Derryt. We belong to the Court of the Shadows now. Derryt was born here, and we were gifted as tributes from our Courts.”
“Nice to meet you,” I mumbled, wondering what they wanted from me.
“Before now, we've only seen a human once,” Briallyn piped up, “And that was just a glimpse. The poor thing went crazy almost immediately.”
I swallowed and asked in a hoarse voice:
“So then what happened to her?”
“They gave her away to the bestiary,” Derryt quickly squawked— her voice reminded me of a petulant bird. “Had to find something to do with her.”
“You, though, are strong,” Meldyt spoke again, her eyes fixed on me, “But you’re sad.”
“I was sad, too,” broke in Briallyn, “when I first got here. Now I’m used to it. When eternity lies before you there’s no point in being depressed. You’re better off looking on the bright side.”
“She won’t succeed,” Derryt objected. “She’ll perish as soon as she steps out the door of this room.”
“Hello, I’m right here,” I said, trying to get their attention. “What are you doing here?”
“We wanted to look at you. You’re pretty for a human. Have you already been with Doran? He’s an insane lover, always summoning all three of us at once. Can you walk?”
I felt my cheeks and ears burning.
“I’d rather not talk about it.”
“Why not?” asked Briallyn, surprised. All three girls knelt on the floor by the bed, eagerly looking at me. Here they were at the zoo again. And I was the latest attraction.
“Let’s move on,” I said glumly. “What goes on between two people is private.”
I could see total incomprehension emanating from the eyes of my visitors. Then Meldyt blinked and said, “Ahhhh, I heard that humans had hang-ups about sex.”
“Hang-ups?” Briallyn gasped. “Whatever for? How do they generate offspring?”
“The same way we do,” Derryt said. “Except they do it in the dark and just in twos.”
Their chatter was getting to me. Meldyt kept casting covert looks at me with her large, dark eyes, and then she asked, “Are you unhappy? Do you want to escape from here?”
At which a hush fell over the room. The girls leaned forward, waiting for my response. But I silently shook my head and said quietly, “I don’t know how to escape. Of course I’d like to.”
“I know how,” said Meldyt. “There are ways.”
I felt a nag of suspicion. Totally justifiable, of course.
“Um, why should I believe you? I’ve just met you.”
“Faeries don't lie,” offered Briallyn. “You didn't know that?”
I recalled then that yes, I’d heard something like that before. “And what’s in it for you?”
And again they exchanged glances. Then came the somewhat hushed voice of Briallyn.
“Well, what does Doran want with a mistress — a human?”
“I’m not his mistress!”
“Not yet, anyway. Did he promise to never try to take you?”
“Well, no.”
I was dying to go home, but something continued to bother me. For example, the fact that these girls I barely knew were so ready to help me. I asked, “Are you jealous, is that it?”
“What?” Meldyt asked.
Derryt explained, “That’s when a woman wants to keep other women away from a man and is furious if he sleeps with anyone else, or pays attention to them.”
“Ah, well, that’s so silly!” Briallyn chuckled. “Doran is the King of Shadows and we are all at his service. Until he finds a Queen for himself. Then, under the laws of our world, they will forever be together. Well, until one of them is bored with living. In the meantime, he can summon any of his subjects. And you are no exception.”
Briallyn nodded toward my wrist, encircled by the intricate bracelet-brand. “You belong to him, Aurora. So either make peace with it, or run away.”
Make peace with it? With the fact that I, a living person, belong, like property, to some creature? Okay, I had to get used to the reality of having been transported to another world, as crazy as that was. But I wasn’t about to become someone’s plaything. Should I trust these wenches? I looked over the trio once more.
One kept her eyes glued on me. Derryt shook her head, making her hair-feathers softly rustle, and rasped, “Time’s up, Aurora, you don't have any to spare.”
“Won’t you get in trouble for helping me?”
“Do you worry about us?” asked Meldyt, surprised. “In your place, we’d run away, no matter what the consequences.”
“Well, I’m not like that.”
“Doran will be angry,” Briallyn interjected, “He might even punish us, but he won’t kill us. He’s used to us. And to kill over a human? Pfff. Besides, he might be able to impregnate one of us, and he knows that. So fear not.”
It all seemed to make sense. Too much sense, actually. But I really wanted to go home. What if this was my only chance? What if, right now, Doran was on his way to come screw me silly? The very thought of it drove me crazy. True, I slept fine last night, and at some point, the man’s embrace had stopped seeming so very bad. In fact, he spooned me in such a way that our two bodies fit perfectly. But it was one thing to sleep together. When it came to sex, I preferred to be ruled by love rather than by a master.
“What do I have to do?” I still had lingering doubts, but I decided to believe the three wenches. All the more so because they were looking at me so avidly. And they sounded so very sincere.
Faeries don’t lie...
“I have no clothes,” I said. Apparently, this signaled to the trio to start moving, and they practically jumped around me.
In fact, they’d brought clothes, which all this time had been quietly lying on the floor alongside the bed. Were they so sure I’d agree? Suspicion nagged at me again, but then Briallyn touched my hand, looked gently at me, and the doubts disappeared. Yes, they’ll return me to my home! Realizing this, I was elated with happiness, like a balloon. Just a little more, and I would float up, up, and away from Doran and this crazy city.
Fortunately, they gave me a dress that wasn’t too long. But once again the cut was rather daring, featuring thin strips crossed over my chest, with a hem made of ribbons, and the fabric was also thin. The color was scarlet and could be seen from afar. I hurriedly pulled it on, deciding not to worry about incidentals like underwear. The main thing at this point was to get back home.
“Ready?” Briallyn took my hand, and a new wave of euphoria surged over me, washing away all my fears. Soon ... I'll be home soon!
But just the same, I hesitated when I saw a thick cloth bandage in Derryt’s hand. “What's that for?”
“You are a human being,” the bird-woman explained patiently. “Your eyes cannot stand the sight of the palace. Our city is partly in Chaos, and humans are weak creatures. You’d return home stark raving mad.”
I didn’t want to go crazy, but I also didn’t want to wear the blindfold.
“Decide,” Derryt said, seeing that I was hesitating. “Doran left the palace for a while, but soon he’ll be back.”
“Aurora, hurry up!” Briallyn’s pleading voice seemed to foster something inside of me that I didn’t understand. I felt a warmth toward her, a kind of confidence that just didn’t make sense. And yet, I went with it. After all, there I was and maybe this was my only chance to escape. Let’s do this thing, I thought.
The blindfold covered my eyes, tightly and gently. I immediately felt uncomfortable — I really don’t function well in the dark. I grabbed hold of the golden-haired girl’s hand. Fortunately, she wasn’t about to let me go.
We walked quickly, but carefully, apparently along some kind of secret passages, since I did not hear voices around me. The smooth floor chilled my bare feet, the air grew cooler, and then it started warming up so that my back started sweating. I smelled something sharp and spicy, as if some spices were, in fact, spilling out somewhere nearby. And I couldn’t escape the feeling of something huge and alive around me. This living thing was neither evil nor good, rather, it was indifferent. It was taking measure. Of me.
A turn...Briallyn whispered, telling me to step up, so a threshold was in front of me. Another turn, an easy gradient. The tiles under our feet became a little warmer and began to spring a little. How fun.
“Aurora, now is the most crucial moment.”
I nodded, communicating to her that I was ready. Only Briallyn spoke. The other two were silent. But I heard their breathing nearby. The feeling of something huge and alive increased from time to time.
“Aurora, you have to crawl up to a boundary. I'll tell you when to stop. The most important thing is to keep on crawling. And utter this phrase.
Briallyn said something in an unfamiliar language. She had to repeat it several times before I could reproduce the words correctly.
“Crawl! When I whistle, take off the blindfold.”
Well, okay then. I took a deep breath, and crept forward, repeating the phrase I was told in a trembling voice. The floor really was warmer than in other places. It was even rather pleasant to be crawling, although I wished I knew where I was...
Suddenly the euphoria began to subside, like water swirling down the drain. Then the certainty washed over me that this was a trap. Plus, the feeling grew that I wasn't at all alone here.
And then I heard... A barely perceptible laugh. I could barely hear it, but there it was.
I’d had it!
I pulled off the bandage and jumped to my feet. And then I closed my eyes — from the light and the shock. It was a lot. It filled the huge hall where they, not people. Creatures, the sight of which really could make you lose your mind.
And they laughed out loud.
The first impulse: plug my ears and run, run, run. The assembly reminded me of facing down the gangs of “troubled kids” at the orphanage. They also laughed at anyone who was weaker than them. I got it before I consciously understood it: the greater your weakness, the more joyously they tore into you. It was probably just like that here.
Slowly and carefully, I brushed off my dress, although there was not a speck of dust on it. Good for them, what a clean palace. Then I looked around.
The space must have been something like a dining hall. Gleaming stone tables were scattered about, on the right was a dais, and strange, as if melting, furniture stood under a huge transparent dome that spanned the ceiling, under which an almost palpable gloom prevailed, making my head spin a bit. Again lilac colors mixed with black and light gray.
The noise of voices, strange creatures, the sight of which made my blood run cold What to say? It’s not like they were really scary. No, a lot of them looked a lot like people. But each of them had something off about them—a too-long nose that reached the chin, or eyes all over the face, or four hands rather than two.
I slowly turned to the trio —the girls were clearly enjoying themselves. I asked as coolly as I could, “So what does the phrase I was repeating mean?”
“I’m a dirty slut who wants to suck you off,” Meldyt said.
And again the spectators broke out in laughter. Amidst the laughter, I distinctly made out phrases about how I could satisfy my wish. With whomever.
“Ugh!” said Briallyn in response to this. “Do the subjects of the Court of Shadows want to debase themselves with a human?”
“So you’re saying I debased myself with her.” The voice came out of nowhere. And made quite the impression: the entire room fell silent.
The faces of the trio took on a greenish tint. Although, Briallyn tried to look chipper and even jutted her trembling chin out a little. “My King, we were just having fun!”
I couldn’t tell where Doran was. His voice echoed through the hall, but the Lord of the Shadows himself was not visible.
“Fun?” Doran asked, his voice deceptively soft.
Briallyn nodded hastily and repeated: “I remember, my King, you said — do not harm your new toy. And nothing befell her. We just wanted to get to know her. It is amusing, isn’t it?”
Yes, how very fun. I gritted my teeth, doing my best to look calm. Even though inside I was overwhelmed with humiliation as I imagined what all these creatures had seen. Me, crawling on my hands and knees and asking to ...give them blow jobs. Oh, how funny, really really funny.
Suddenly Doran appeared on the dais. There was a ball of darkness, and the King stepped out of it, dressed in black pants and a black shirt of a silky-looking material. A large bright lilac pendant shimmered on his chest, and darkness swirled in his eyes. Was I right in assuming this was a sign that he was furious?
“Rory, how did they get you to leave the room? What did they promise?”
The gazes of hundreds of creatures closed on me, as if piercing me with the finest needles. My skin actually began to burn. Well, don’t lie. Something inside was resisting...
“I ...” – I had to cough. “They offered to help me escape.”
“And she believed us,” Meldyt suddenly laughed. “My King, we only offered to help her leave, but to where and from where we did not specify.”
Fool, my inner voice told me, I didn't ask the right questions.
“So, you were ready to escape, Rory?”
He turned right toward me. And I involuntarily backed away from the dark, wide-shouldered figure. Because I understood: Doran, to put it mildly, was furious about my escape attempt.
My tactical retreat ended quickly. The faery quickly crossed the hall and grabbed my throat. I could still breathe, but just the same, it was highly uncomfortable. I helplessly clawed at his fingers around my neck.
“You wanted to flee?” The black eyes bored into me. I felt sick at heart and ready to die.
“Yes, I wanted to flee, and I still want to.”
He’ll kill me.
Doran’s eyes spoke volumes. On the one hand, I never promised him I wouldn't run away. And so...
A sharp pain burned my wrist with the bracelet so sharply that I flailed my arms, trying to scream. Doran graciously gave me the opportunity to do so, letting go and letting me fall onto my knees. It was like my wrist had been sawed through: slowly and sadistically. I couldn’t even scream — my breath caught in my throat. All I could do was moan. At some point I fell on my side and through the din in my ears I heard the voice of the faery:
“The punishment for attempting to flee, Rory, is extremely serious. Think about that, human.”
Through the red veil of pain, I saw the black figure turn towards the trio.
“Did I give you permission to enter the room and approach my human?”
“No, King,” the friendly one sang. All of the others were silent and eagerly listened to the conversation.
“And did I really allow you to let her out of the room?”
“But, my King,” Meldyt said, “you did not forbid it. You just said not to harm her.”
“You’re a clever one, Meldyt. It’s not for nothing that you were at one time an advisor to the Unseelie Court. How could you be so very stupid?”
I swallowed and tried to breathe evenly. Yes, the pain had definitely waned, although I could not move my hand.
“What do you mean, my King?” Meldyt’s voice acquired a tremulous tone.
“Humans are naturally very fragile. She could have been emotionally damaged by this. What would I want with a broken plaything? Worse still, you turned the magic of the Seelie Court on her. Briallyn, is this your doing?”
“I have done nothing wrong, my King. My magic cannot be used to harm anyone. I just caused her to relax.”
“How sweet of you, Briallyn. So very caring of you.”
I managed to somehow rise to my knees so that I wasn’t lying at Doran’s feet. But for the time being, there was no way I could stand on my feet. I was trembling from what I’d gone through.
“Henceforth, I advise you not to feign good intentions. Meldyt, what did you have Rory say? ‘I am a dirty slut who wants to suck you off?’ An excellent idea. Today, you three will serve my Hunt.”
“My King, have mercy!”
“We won’t survive!”
“You’ll recover,” Doran snapped. Ignoring their screams, he threw me over his shoulder and carried me out of the hall. I managed to glimpse a few dozen of the creatures rushing towards the sobbing girls. And then the doors closed, and at once the screams fell silent. Now I could hear only Doran’s measured steps, and his breathing. Well, along with my quiet sobs from the mental overload from everything that had transpired.
“You had to be punished in front of everybody, Rory, so that no one thinks twice about any favoritism.”
I was silent, staring blankly at the dark shiny tiles beneath me. What did it matter what anyone said or thought about me? I wanted to go home. Away from this surreal nightmare.
“We’re going to sit down and talk with you, Rory,” Doran continued calmly, “You have already collected yourself; your adaptation is going well. You’re capable of hearing me out.”
I’m not going to hear you out. You’d be better off going to hell and back. That’s where people like you feel right at home.
“I think you’ll be interested in hearing that I need your brains.”
So he’s a zombie, then? Awesome! How perfectly awful!
“The fact is that we are dying out, Rory. It’s been going on for some time now.”
For real?!
I wasn’t about to tell him about the dinosaurs – not to mention the mammoths. Sorry, dude, extinction happens. And yet something in Doran's voice made me bite my tongue, both literally and figuratively, and humbly ride on his shoulder and wait. At the same time, I stole a look around me.
We proceed along wide corridors that were as if carved into the rock. Everything around us was massive and evidently heavy. The creatures whose path we crossed either bowed low or knelt before us. This seemed to depend on their status. And no one was surprised that their King was walking around with a woman over his shoulder.
I didn’t see many doors — instead there were high arches, through some of which a pearly fog hung in the air. What was it? Through one arch, I thought I saw something move in the hazy depths.
A strange place, unpleasant. But at least it was no longer trying to deprive me of my sanity. And I was starting to kick my legs when Doran strode toward a foggy opening. Of course, my feeble squirming was totally ignored.
For a few seconds the fog totally shrouded me. It was warm and dry, not at all watery. I tried not to think about what it was composed of. All the more so because we passed through it, and ended up in a spacious room that was very bright with no windows. I could not discern the source of the light.
“This is how we transport ourselves through Chaos,” Doran broke the silence. Just when I was starting to feel good about his deciding to give me the silent treatment.
“That is a human word, and you have yet to master this concept you came up with.”
I shuddered, because I did not expect that we’d be alone. But from behind tall stone cabinets emerged a man...or, yes, it was another faerie. He could have passed for an ordinary, although extremely good-looking man of around 40. He had a chiseled profile, with a lean face and bright blue eyes, a mane of ashy hair held back with a thin dark band, and a lean body encased in something long and shapeless. Only one thing spoiled the impression: his goat hooves. Well, nobody’s perfect, right?
“You seem to be well versed in our terminology,” I said, trying to work out a kink in my neck and properly check out the new guy.
Greenish brown furniture cluttered up the room, which reeked of herbs and something else which made my throat start to feel sore.
“I am one of the Hunt,” said the ash-haired faerie and smiled broadly, which made my own smile quickly fade as his teeth were triangular and sharp.
“More precisely,” Doran corrected, “you are my adviser and doctor, and at the same time a Hunter. This is Rory.”
“Oh, she survived the night. This is good. I am Haedyn. I know a little bit more about your kind than the others do.”
“I’m a little intimidated by how popular I am,” I said.
Doran responded by throwing me off of his shoulder and plopping me into one of the chairs. It looked like it was stone, but in fact it was quite soft and comfortable. I didn’t really like having the men towering over me while I sat here, though. Just the same, I threw up my head, meeting Doran’s usual gaze, and informed him:
“I hate you.”
“Nothing strange about that,” Haedyn said, soothingly. “He’s hated by a large portion of the Courts. Want to know what they call him? The Dog of Chaos.”
“Haedyn, examine her, and then we’ll talk.”
“What do you mean by ‘examine?’” I asked cautiously. “And why now instead of yesterday when I was throwing up my guts?”
Doran shrugged, as if I had asked the dumbest thing in the world.
“I myself can alleviate the period of acute adaptation, but had you perished during the night, then an examination by the doctor would have been in vain. And his energy — wasted.”
“I see,” I nodded. “Why squander the national wealth on a future corpse.”
“She’s afraid, but hides her fear,” Haedyn commented, turning to Doran.
Doran nodded, continuing to look at me. Then he spoke, slowly and clearly, trying to drive every word into my head. “The gift of a doctor, the gift of a healer is very much appreciated here, as it is extremely precious. Therefore, we surround them with honor and attention. You’ve demonstrated that you can survive in my Palace. Now, Haedyn will use his gift on you to ensure that you’ve adapted and are in complete health.If he discerns any problems, he’ll neutralize them. You humans are good at ailing, and love it, too.
I flashed Doran a look that communicated what I thought about his understanding of humanity. But that was all. I mean, I really had no desire to experience pain from the ‘bracelet’ again.
“Okay, stand up,” Haedyn said. “This won’t hurt at all.”
They could pull my teeth out then and there, but I wasn’t going to let out a squeak.I had no intention of seeing the satisfaction in the eyes of the King of Shadows, who was, it seems, a covert sadist.
To onlookers, it probably looked like a performance in a two-bit magic show. Haedyn and I stood face to face while he placed his hands along both sides of my head, all but touching my skin. Then, he slowly moved them downwards, along the sides of my body.
In fact, I didn’t feel anything at all. Haedyn’s face, however, displayed ever-increasing pressure. I saw the hair on his temples darken with sweat, and his pupils dilated so much that they eclipsed his irises.
Doran was silent, but I could not look at him.I was not allowed to turn around.So I stared at Haedyn, whose hands were now hovering near my stomach. Suddenly, our eyes locked, and I saw such pain in his that for a moment I felt uneasy.
“You are ovulating now,” he said softly. “You can be impregnated now.”
Was I imagining things, or did Doran softly sigh? So...
“It’s normal for women to ovulate,” I said, trying to stay calm. “So I don't see what the big deal is.”
“People have always multiplied randomly without ever thinking about how valuable it is,” Haedyn sighed.
“Not true. Right now humanity is crazy about babies and children.”
The healer just shook his head, still very sad. And also tense. After completing the examination, he shook his head and made a strange clicking sound.
“How is she, then?” Doran asked rather harshly. By now, of course, I was used to being referred to in the third person. Whatever. So be it.
“That’s the first human I’ve ever examined,” Haedyn said obliquely, stepping away from me, “I can assure you that she’s healthy.The picture of health.”
“So what is it?”
I looked at each man in turn. What was what? As regards my health, I was happy to hear I was fine, but it’s not like I didn’t know that was the case. I mean, I seemed to have good genes.
“Well...” Haedyn was obviously feeling unsure about what he was about to say. “Doran, perfectly healthy just doesn’t happen.”
“That's what we say, as well,” I cut in. “That being said, there are things we know little about.”
“I gave you a very thorough examination,” the doctor said.
“Quiet now,” Doran said. “Haedyn, besides her remarkable health, what is it that gives you pause?”
I bit my tongue, lest I let loose a snarky response. I had the feeling that any outbursts from me wouldn’t help. In fact, they might worsen my situation.
“I’m at a loss,” the doctor said, “Perhaps it’s the result of her exposure to Chaos. I don't know, Doran, she seems to be fine. And yet something isn’t quite right. But I’m repeating myself: neither she, nor her life, are endangered now. So you can make full use of her.”
I couldn't take it anymore and coughed. My mind suddenly supplied me with images of how the three wenches were being “entertained” right now. And Doran was looking at me so thoughtfully, as if pondering whether to eat me right then and there, or have some fun tormenting me.
I gulped and asked, “Well, now that we know there’s nothing wrong with me, then maybe you can finally tell me what I’m doing here? I mean, it clearly doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that I’m ovulating?”
Haedyn chuckled and muttered something in an incomprehensible language. And suddenly it dawned on me.
“Why is it I understand you?”
“Because I gave you the ability,” Doran said. “Have a seat, Rory. Let’s talk.”
He extended his hand to me, but I looked at it with righteous suspicion. Although at first glance, I had no reason to fear it. It’s just a hand, extended by a strong man, with a strong wrist, and long, sinewy fingers, one of which sported a gleaming silver ring. But I remembered how they’d grasped my throat.
I hesitated, and then extended my hand. And very softly exhaled when our fingers touched. Why was Doran so hot? He was like a stove. His heat penetrated under my skin and froze there.
It was a strange sensation.
He led me to a wide table carved from a greenish stone, which was silky and warm to the touch. It was only now that I noticed plates covered with silver lids on the surface of the table. And I realized that I was ravenous and even had cramps in my stomach.
“Let’s eat, Rory.” It was like he was ordering me.
Silently, I took the lid off of the nearest dish. Some kind of meat under a strange golden sauce, and some kind of vegetables.
“You can eat everything,” Haedyn said, as if hearing my thoughts. “Your kind can eat our food. So feel free to eat whatever you want.”
The meat turned out to be juicy, succulent, and the sauce imparted a delightful piquancy to the dish. I couldn't begin to say what it was, though. The vegetables were like a combination of potatoes and eggplant, with a consistency that was ‘al dente’ on the outside, and tender on the inside.
Doran himself poured me a glass of the bluish beverage, and said, “Drink, it's good for you.”
What would be good for me would be to get back home, but that’s a luxury no one could provide me here.
I drank the drink, all the while imagining tossing it into Doran's stone face. And as soon as I put the glass down and took up the fork and knife, he began speaking. Haedyn silently chewed and listened closely.
“Rory, our people can live forever. We are not affected by illness, and it’s quite difficult to kill us. We can choose to die if we lose our appetite for living and slip over the border into Chaos. Several hundred years ago, we lived side by side with humans. Our chronicles depict the legends of these days of yore.”
I silently nodded, and began cutting the meat into neat little cubes.
“Our worlds split apart when humanity began to develop too rapidly. Perhaps the technological leap somehow impacted the structure of the world. And we left, came here to Alfheim. In the legends, it is called Avalon, Alfheim, and there are other names, as well.”
“Are you afraid of iron?” I asked, remembering how Gray had screamed in the Director’s office.
“Some of the lesser nations are quite allergic to it,” nodded Haedyn.
“So you have quite a few,” I snapped my fingers, trying to find the right word. “Races?”
“Yes, many races,” nodded Doran, “and we all ended up here.” He drank a silvery beverage from his glass and continued, “In your world and ours, time is not the same. I can’t be sure about when we first started noticing that something was wrong. Even before the schism between our worlds, we rarely had children, and after we all ended up here, we stopped altogether.”
Whoa, that made me uneasy. I mean, what with Haedyn going on about ovulating, fertility, how very healthy I am.
“Are you planning on making a breeder out of me?”
The doctor was about to take a sip, but then he stopped, his eyes bulging. He looked bemused, to say the least.
As for Doran, his impenetrable composure was no doubt the stuff of legends. He looked at me closely and said calmly. “No, our need for you is of a professional nature.”
Whew. What a relief. Kids are great, don't get me wrong, but no way did I want to be anyone’s incubator. “Can you give me more details?”
“I can,” said Doran politely, “I want you to study our genetic makeup and restore our ability to bear offspring.”
“Ah, I see,” I thought about it, and said again, “Ah.”
Then I burst into somewhat hysterical laughter. And I laughed for several minutes, releasing all of the tension I’d accumulated. With effort, I managed to get myself to stop before my ragged laugher turned into sobs. No way did I want to cry in front of these two. A voice within me told me that crying was not respected here.
Doran and Haedyn patiently waited for my bout of levity to pass. But it did seem that the King’s sinewy hand gripped the handle of his knife rather hard. The table knife was beautiful, gilded, with small diamonds set into the handle. There were a lot of valuable gems here. I even saw entire panels displaying them on the walls.
“Gentlemen Faeries, are you serious?”
“Do I look like I’m joking?” asked Doran, very softly. Under his gaze, my laughter was instantly quenched and banished. Again, his pupils became like slits.
“You appear to be an intelligent faery,” I responded diplomatically, trying to choose the right words. “But I can’t do what you ask all by myself, understand? It ... it sounds simple enough, but in fact, it would require the whole institution to carry out. Okay, maybe a state-of-the-art lab with solid professionals, the best equipment, reagents. Can you provide me with all that?”
“Give me a list, and we’ll find what we need.”
“My god!” I exclaimed, putting my head in my hands. “No, no, you just don’t get it. I can’t pull this off on my own. All the more so because you aren’t even humans, and I don’t know your DNA, your physiology, and so on. Why did you think you needed me for this? Look at all of your abilities!”
“Our abilities can’t help us,” Doran snapped, rising from his seat slightly. “And your institute is a sad joke that’s only good for hemorrhaging money. Who do you think invested in its development? Your former boss is up to his ears in debt to me, and for what? It’s all smoke and mirrors, what he does. Yes, it’s true that I understood this before I provided him with some of our genetic material. But you are the one to do this. And do you want to know why? It’s because you alone managed to put together a strong team and produce some solid results.”
“He showed me your work,” Haedyn said. “You did not even have magic, and yet you applied science to the task and made great progress. I lack such knowledge, I am not able to change how each cell in the body functions, plus delve into anomalies, hunt them out. We do things a little differently here. I see what’s what and I heal. If I don't see it, I cannot heal it.”
“You know what, this is crazy! It’s stark raving mad! I really feel for you, I do. But what you want — it’s impossible.”
I suddenly stopped, overwhelmed by my thoughts. And then I cautiously suggested, “Although, if you let me go home, then I could go back to my lab and...”
“No,” Doran roared so loudly my hair stood on end. “You will stay and do what you can right here.”
“What do you think is going to happen? Do you think I’ll wink and nod and say “Oh, I see, you’re lacking this and that in your DNA, so just take this magic pill and you’ll all be fine?”
“If you succeed, I’ll let you go,” the King softly said.
I froze and right then realized that we both were standing, palms on the table, staring intently at each other. And we were practically yelling.
But yes, he was dangling quite a nice carrot in front of me.
“But what if I can’t do it?” I asked, almost involuntarily whispering. And even though it was hard, I resisted the urge to avert my gaze. Doran's eyes almost burned a hole in me.
“I’ll give you to my Hunt. First you will be devoured, then your remains will be thrown into Chaos, and you will return as a red-eyed skank.”
I swallowed and suddenly said, my voice hoarse, “Well, your offer is just so-so.”
“Rory, I will help you get everything you need to carry out your research,” said Haedyn, whose presence I’d almost forgotten about.“In general, I’m here for all your questions.”
I almost collapsed back into the chair and covered my face with my hands. My head was spinning with thoughts, but I couldn’t seem to focus on any of them. It was as if Chaos had invaded my head space. Right now, Doran’s order seemed like the ravings of a madman. I’d been almost sure that the King, despite his obvious brutality, was still a smart man. But then to be given such an order. And he was clearly confident that I could do it.
Of course it’s nice when others think more of you than you do yourself. At the same time, it can lead to certain pitfalls.
I was absolutely sure I did not want to be thrown to the Hunt. But I didn’t know how I was going to carry out Doran’s order.
I slowly lifted my head from my hands and sighed. Whatever, it’s not like I had a choice. So I had to move forward one step at a time. “I’ll start tomorrow. And the first thing I need is to learn your entire history, all about your species, your races, and your abilities. This is just the start.”
I felt like a tightrope walker on a thin wire with no net underneath. One step in either direction and I’d fall into the abyss. It’s not like if I failed, Doran would issue me a fine and shake his finger at me.
So I had to do my best.
I suddenly felt incredibly tired, no doubt from the information overload I’d been swamped with — it was like I was seeing double, even.
Doran noticed how pale I was and said, “You need to get some sleep. You haven't adapted to our cycle of life here. Let’s go.
Right. Cycle. There was something I wanted to ask, but I couldn't remember what it was. The thoughts that had been racing through my mind seemed to slow down. I felt lethargic, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was easier to think of this as simply a matter of acclimating to this place.
I was glad that, rather than carrying me, Doran simply walked beside me. True, I had to keep up with his long stride. This wasn’t easy given how sleepy and shell-shocked I was. Again the fog-enshrouded Archway, a barely noticeable resistance field, light warmth, and we found ourselves in a wide corridor with a dark, flickering ceiling, empty and echoing. The light had an unpleasant, reddish cast, which looked like spatters of blood here and there. We were alone.
“Why is this place so empty?”
“There are lots of people here,” said Doran, not breaking stride. “You simply can’t see them yet. Here we are.”
I recognized the door to my room: tall and dark gold with obscure symbols. And, reluctantly, I stepped inside.
“Is something wrong, Rory? What is it?”
“It’s nothing. It’s just that I have some bad memories associated with this room.”
Doran’s eyes swept round the room as if he was seeing it for the first time. Then he looked at me and said, turning back to the door. “Follow me.”
I definitely preferred the new room. The furniture was dark, but I felt especially comfortable here. Maybe this was because of the many strange golden lights stationed around the room, or maybe it was because the room wasn't as spacious as my last chamber. And I didn't feel like a rabbit on the high plains.
“Does this room suit you?”
I looked around again and nodded. “Yes, it’s perfect. And I don’t have to worry about any unexpected visitors, right?”
Doran grinned. “Don't worry, Rory. I don't share my toys.”
“Especially when it’s an educational toy, right? You’re not afraid you’ll break it?”
“Are you referring to how I had to punish you?” Doran’s eyes narrowed, and he stepped closer to me. I felt my insides tighten up, but I stood my ground, hoping that my chin wasn’t quivering with fear. It wasn't the King’s height that was so intimidating, although he was a full head taller than me. Rather, it was his aura. I don’t know how I managed to not fall to my knees. I could clearly see why he was the King. He didn’t have to even try, he simply exuded power and might.
“Rory, you tried to run away. You never promised not to try this, but I had to punish you in public to demonstrate to everybody that you were no exception. To me and Haedyn you’re a scientist on whom the survival of the species depends. To everyone else, you are my property, and as such, totally off limits. That’s for your own safety. And so behave yourself, so that we do not have to again mete out punishment.”
“Why this secrecy?” I had to ask. “You’re all facing extinction, yet you alone are worried about it.”
For some reason my breathing was impeded by our close proximity. It was like the air itself was infused with his aura. And his fingers suddenly brushed my cheek, as if scorching them. I couldn't stand it, and shied away from his touch.
“Because I alone am able to swallow my pride and clearly see what’s happening here. Get some rest.”
He walked out the door, leaving me pensively looking after him as I bit my lips. What’s happening here...
I was full of questions. But I did the only thing that, in my opinion, mattered. I set off for the bathroom. It was situated in the same place as in the lavender room, behind a door in the far corner. It was spacious, with mirrors everywhere, and a glossy stone floor and shower that cascaded down like a waterfall from an artificial cliff. The toiletries were arrayed on flat stones, in silver jars. Shampoo, soaps...they all looked like a rainbow of multi-colored gels.
Afterwards, I barely made it to the bed, casting off my dress en route, and then climbing under the covers and passing out. I wasn’t tormented by thoughts because my brain had simply decided I needed to rest up for the labors that awaited me.
I don't know how long I slept. I know only that I was awakened by what I’d expected, but didn’t want to be right about.
Actually, what first awakened me was an exquisitely delightful sensation. The sensations started down there and filled my core. Oh, yeah. Someone’s fingers were tantalizing me, and I was already hot and wet. The fingers expertly fondled me, sending sharp stabs of pleasure throughout my body. My breath caught, I was so aroused.
This went on until I finally shook off the deep slumber. Then, the delicious pleasure was abruptly replaced by a tremor of fear. Here I was, naively hoping for the best, but here we go again!
I silently started to fight back, realizing now whose hot form was pressed against me from behind so tightly that I could feel his throbbing member against my back.
Strangely, as soon as I started kicking at him, he let me go. I rolled off the bed, my knees hitting the stone floor, and turned around, shielding my chest with my hands. Yes, it was futile, but I still had my pride.
Of course, it was Doran. He sprawled across the bed, resting on his elbow. Naked and aroused. In the semi-darkness, I could barely see the green glow of his eyes.
“What the devil!?” I cried out, although in my head I was thinking “What the faery!?”
“I think I should sleep here with you to ensure your safety.”
Maybe I was imagining things, but his voice seemed deeper than usual, and sort of purring or something. Like a huge beast ready to mate.
“And touching me is also part of your security measures?”
“You were aroused,” he said. “I was just helping.”
I stared at him, waiting for an explanation. And, sighing, Doran deigned to provide one. “We attract people to us. Perhaps you have yet to realize this, but your subconscious is already in the know. When I arrived, you were evidently dreaming of something that caused you to moan and stroke yourself. This state could hinder you from thinking clearly.”
“So for you it’s just fine to climb right into bed and start... joining in?”
“Sex is simply pleasure. Well, or torture, depending on the situation. You humans ascribe too much to it.”
“While you simplify it too much,” I retorted, continuing to cover myself while hiding behind the bed. I had this totally awful feeling of complete helplessness. Because if he wanted to carry on, there was nothing I could do about it.
Meanwhile, Doran contemplated me thoughtfully until I began to freeze, kneeling on the bare floor. Although it was certainly warm enough in the room itself.
“Your condition may interfere with work.”
“It’s not like I’m at work right now. And yes, I appreciate your concern, but it’s not warranted.”
“Okay, but bear in mind that you’ll get no leniency from me.” With these words, he simply stood up and left, while I stared after him, dumbfounded. So that’s the way it was going to be, then?
Another five minutes passed before I felt that I could trust what was happening and go back to bed. Where I sat and thought. A thoroughly aroused man had just left who had not really insisted on finishing the job, so to speak. It was kind of...well, strange, maybe.
Although, it just hit me, he is the King, after all. Why should he struggle or force anyone when all of the women at the Court were at his service? How many did he have at once? Two, three? Who cares? What mattered, really, is that now I could sleep.
Which is easy to say. All I had to do was close my eyes to see the image of Doran in all of his naked glory. His slightly narrowed eyes, perfectly chiseled muscles, narrow hips and throbbing cock, so very big and kind of scary.
Damn! Again I was overwhelmed by lust. No, it wasn’t all about Doran. I was just really horny.
I tried counting sheep, but they melted into vibrators jumping over a fence. Then I tried meditative breathing, but this just excited me all the more. What was going on? I hoped that this was a passing phase, because I had no desire to turn into a raging nymphomaniac.
My fingers slid under the blanket to the sweet spot that Doran had so recently caressed. In no time, I came. I gritted my teeth, arching in a flash of pleasure and relief. And then, almost immediately, I was overwhelmed by a drowsy fatigue. Alright then. Let’s get some sleep.

Release - July 3, 2019

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