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When Tristan Met Curtis

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

Hello all. Some time has passed, I know. It's been strange times over in Mockland but I come bearing news.

I've mentioned in various places about the Tristan audiobook which will be narrated by Curtis Michael. It will be released in November, somewhere between the 19th and the 30th. I'm awaiting to see if I'll be given the go ahead for a presale. I've put in the request. Marie will be doing another cover for me in September.

Also, I've made the decision to publish The Heart of a Dragon Tamer. For those of you who have read it, not to worry, I will leave the Harry Potter version up on AO3. I'll have to do some major rewriting of course (don't want JK Rowling to sue me) but I have been musing on this a long while and I think I finally know how. I'll create a new world-ish. There are plenty of shows and books with "Wizard Schools" so I'll be okay there so long as I make it my own, and I've already begun picking new names. Charlie will remain Charlie though. He's my absolute favorite Top. He'll be Charlie Westley, *wink* and then I get a bit of a nod to The Princess Bride. Sorta. I already have someone working on the cover. I'm going to madly get it ready for before the end of the year.

With all that said I have two things for you here. Number One is: The day Tristan met Curtis. I thought this would be a fun way to introduce everyone to Curtis. I feel so lucky that he'll be the one narrating Tristan. Everyone's going to love him I just know it. Curtis very kindly took his free time to help me out with this little story. I hope you enjoy!

Number Two is: Part I of a Tristan II Outtake. I've got about 20K worth of scenes that didn't make it into the book because while they work well on their own, as part of the story, they slowed it down. I had to remove them BUT you now get to enjoy them here. In Part I, it's something we are "told" happens but we get to see the events happen in real time. It's a lot of fun and so much Tristan banter. If you haven't read Tristan, the outtake will not make sense. If you have read Tristan but not Tristan II, I think you would be find to read it and then when you do read Tristan II, you'll have deeper knowledge of what's going on. There will be more parts! At least one more but maybe two or three depending on how I break it up.

Ta for now! Love to everyone!


Tristan storms into my office. “Mock. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
Arms crossed, pout set, Tristan eyes me with contempt. “What on Earth are you wearing?” I ignore his question. He’s always on about something. I’ve learned to edit half of what he says. “Why are you dressed like, Loki?”
It’s not Loki’s Asgard attire. It’s the black slacks, white, long-sleeved button down with tie from the Loki series. I wonder if this is because I just watched it—how does the imagination work anyway?—or if Tristan’s a fan? His sword is still attached to his back of course. He rarely sleeps without it nearby let alone go to any place without it.

Tristan giving Loki vibes

“Who’s Loki?” That answers that. “Anyway, I don’t have time for this. Mock, I was told someone’s impersonating me and I came to put a stop to it.”
“No one’s impersonating you. They’re narrating you. He’s coming by today. Wanna meet him?”
“Oh, I’ll meet him all right.” He leans back.
“Tristan. Be nice.”
He smirks. “I’m plenty nice. He’s the one not nice.”
“Good, Lord. Wait in that chair. I have work to do—and frankly so do you. We have a third story to write.”
He stares out the window, ignoring me.
Curtis rushes in. “Sorry, I’m late. It’s a long way from where I live.”
I came all the way from the first Elven realm, and I was early,” Tristan mutters. I don’t point out that he wasn’t told to be here. That he arrived uninvited.
“What’s with him?” Curtis leans over the counter to say.
I roll my eyes. “Dunno. Just go with it. He’ll warm up to you as we go.” I look at the brat to my right. “Actually Tristan, Curtis has been busy. He’s narrated Denial by Ki Brightly and M. D. Gregory, a book I know you’d love. You are not so different from Max, and JP would make you shiver in good ways. There’s also Amos Ridge by BL. Maxwell and he’s slated to narrate The Crow Flies Free and Clubbed this fall. Did you know?”
“Impersonating more people I see. Where does it end?”
“Uh, Mock?” Curtis raises his brows.
“Oh right. Yeah, he thinks you’re an impersonator,” I tell Curtis, wincing.
“But I’m not—”
“—doesn’t matter. He’ll just keep saying it.”
Tristan glares at Curtis.
“Tristan, why don’t you ask Curtis some questions? Get to know him.” I’m sure once he knows Curtis, they’ll get on famously.
“Love to. Curtis,” he says. Too much pressure on “Curtis.” “How long have you been impersonating—”
“Narrating—he’s a narrator,” I correct him. I’ll try.
“Right fine. How long you been narrating for?” He says narrating like he says impersonating though.
“It’s been just over one year. I’ve had the opportunity to stretch my vocal and technical skills from my theatre background to performing in a new context.” Curtis smiles when Tristan’s left speechless. “Does that please His Majesty?”
Tristan scowls and ignores him. Long, uncomfortable moments pass with the three of us staring at each other. I try to come up with something. “Tristan, you and Curtis both like cool swords.” I don’t know if that’s true for Curtis but I give him a look, begging him to go along with it.
He nods.
“I doubt Curtis has ever picked up a sword in his life. Tell me, how many heads have you chopped off?”
That was a disaster.
“Tristan,” Curtis tries. “You’re right. I’ve not … lobbed anyone’s head off with a sword. It’s illegal where I come from—”
“—no real world experiences. Mock, are you hearing this? How can someone who’s never used a sword properly tell stories about me?”
“I mean, I’ve never used a sword and I wrote the books,” I remind him.
“That’s beside the point,” Tristan says. “I was telling you the story.”
“Tristan,” Curtis tries again. “Maybe it will help if you know how much I admire you. I love your sass, your class and the mythical, mystical-ness of your story. I’ve been reading, studying up. You can count on me to make this epic.”
Tristan’s body language gives the impression that maybe he’d like to eviscerate Curtis. Tristan turns to me, not giving Curtis the time of day. Jeez. Poor Curtis. “I should tell the story. I don’t care how many accolades he has, Mock, or how handsome a face he has. If anyone should be reading my story, it’s me.”
“All right, fine. Curtis, I’m sorry. The deal’s off. Tristan will be reading for himself.”
Tristan’s smug—I know that look—and he lets Curtis know it, suddenly paying interest in him. “Guess you have no more need to be here, Curtis. A shame. We’ll miss you. Carry on.” He waves a hand at him.
“All right, I guess you win, Tristan. That’s too bad I spent a long while warming up this morning.”
“Warming up?” Tristan says.
“Yeah. Before you record you’ve got to spend around five to fifteen minutes warming up the vocals. Not to mention keeping yourself hydrated and healthy, on top of matching the energy of all characters in the story.” Curtis appraises Tristan pointedly.
“Sounds like a lot of work. Don’t you just read? How hard can it be?”
“Well no. You’ve got to put inflection into words and bring the author’s intention to life.”
“Right. The ‘author’s’ intention,” Tristan says, making air quotes around ‘author’s’ while I wonder where he learned to do that and definitely don’t feel insulted by Tristan’s dig. He thinks I have nothing to do with his storytelling. “That sounds complicated. Mock, I’m not doing any of that, so you know. Just reading. I don’t have time for all that. I’m a very busy person.”
“Oh and Tristan. Word of advice,” Curtis says. “It’s going to take you hours. It’ll cut into time you could be spent doing otherthings.” Curtis waggles his brows.
I stand back enjoying Tristan’s face transform from smugness to horror.
“How many hours we talking?” Tristan shrills.
“Hours and hours. And let’s not forget the time I spend improving my craft by taking acting classes, plus the coaching I receive regularly.”
Tristan looks like he’s contemplating his own death.
“Problem, Tristan?” Curtis asks.
He swallows. “No. No problem.” But he’s a lot less arrogant than when he walked in here.
“All right then, Curtis. I’m sure you’re busy—” I begin.
“—you know Curtis,” Tristan cuts in smoothly. “I was thinking… what was that you said about my mythical-mysticalness? I like that. I think you could really work with that.”
“Oh I could, could I?”
“Yeah.” Tristan turns to me. “Mock? I think you should rehire Curtis.”
“You do? You’re not worried he’s here to impersonate you?”
“Didn’t you hear a word he’s said? He’s been doing this for forever. He warms up his voice, he attends regular coaching for the Gods’ sake—which I assume is as grueling as training practice—and classes. Anyone who can take classes by choice gets my vote. I think he knows what he’s doing.”
“All right, Curtis. You’re hired back. If you still want the job that is?”
“Hmmmm. I dunno. Tristan’s the only one who can do his voice. Tristan’s the only one who can tell his story. I can’t even wield a sword.”
Tristan gets on his knees. He tugs at the hem of Curtis’s shirt. “Curtis. I’m sorry for what I said. I was just being a fucking brat. Please you’ve got to. You’re the only one who can do this properly.”
And Tristan doesn’t want to miss out on hours and hours of the stuff he likes to get up to.
Curtis takes pity on him. It’s hard not to. Tristan is a brat, but he makes up for it with his charm … which has kinda left the building today but the essence of it is always floating around. “All right. All right, Tristan. I’ll narrate your story for you. Get up here.”
Tristan stands, pleased with himself. “There you go, Mock.”
“There I go what? What did you do other than cause a scene and throw a tantrum?”
Tristan waves a hand at all that. I should really call in someone—Corrik would teach him. No, Corrik would be amused. Tristan’s put some kind of spell on him. Bayaden might at least give him the eye, but he’d be useless in this situation too. Especially with the way Tristan’s pouting. Alrik! Alrik would … do nothing more than pull him away to scold him but then end up with a Tristan cat on his lap. Dammit. Tristan’s found a way through his defenses too. I give up. “I don’t know what you’re upset about, Mock. We’ve got Curtis helping us and he’s a standup guy. The least you could do is offer him something to drink.”
I roll my eyes. “We agree on that. He’s a standup guy.”
“Scratch the drink, Mock. We’ll have tea or something later.” Tristan pulls his sword; Curtis and I jump at the ring of steel announcing its arrival to the room. “Come with me, Curtis. I’ll show you about swords. They’re heavy but you look like the sort who could get used to swinging one around.”
Curtis looks back at me helplessly as Tristan puts his arm around him, dragging Curtis off. I shrug my apology. “Um, see you in November, Curtis?”
*NOTE* The Crow Flies Free is written by Michael Robert
Clubbed is written by Robert A. Karl
I own both books. Currently reading The Crow Flies Free.

TRISTAN II OUTTAKE PART I: Tristan's New Clothes

Timeline: Just after Tristan is taken in the First Book, before Chapter 20. I'd place it just as Chapter 19 ended.
After I agree that Diekin is sufficiently healed, he’s taken away. I’m still sitting in a chair, naked, only now I’m in chains, my wrists and ankles shackled, my beautiful hair lifeless on the ground. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to cry over that. My hair is part of my identity or well, it was part of my identity. It’s not just hair on the ground, it’s a piece of Tristan hacked from me. “Give me some clothes, Andothair. And I want some for Diekin too.”
“I do not take orders from humans,” he says.
“Fine. Please may I have some clothing, Andothair?”
“But I asked so nicely.”
“You are a slave now. It will be up to your master if you are to get clothing, or not.”
“Who said anything about slave? You said I was to be a manservant.” I’ll make a terrible manservant as it is and whoever is about to become the lucky recipient will find that out soon enough. But a slave? Oh boy.
“Potato. Potawtoe.” For some reason, he likes to mock me with Markaytian sayings.
“Whatever. May I at least have a bath? Look at me. I’m a disaster.”
“If my brother deigns it so, then yes.”
This is becoming an irritation. I scowl at him. Andothair smiles his cocky smile; there’s an impish gleam written there I don’t like but this time he's not looking at me, he's looking behind me.
A deep, rough voice cuts through our fun like a blade. He sounds as irritated as I am, but I can’t understand any of the Elvish he speaks. I know enough Elvish from what I’ve learned from Corrik and what I heard the Mortougian Elves speaking, that I can glean it’s a different dialect. When I look over to see the face attached to the angry tone, I forget how to breathe.
He’s older than Corrik by far.
Stop comparing him to Corrik. The two are nothing alike. Even the dominant presence in him, the one I’m beginning to develop the keenness to sense, is not like Corrik’s. This Elf carries himself like a heavy axe that will slice your head clean off. Corrik’s dominant nature is more like a graceful blade, swift and artistic.

Bayaden's Inspo Pic

The Elf’s ancient eyes look me over, disgusted. He says more things to Andothair in Elvish that I don’t understand as I try to find my breath again. “What is this creature? It’s absolutely hideous,” he says in Markaytian, just so he can insult me I wager.
“It is a gift. Your new pet,” Andothair tells him.
“I am not a pet, Andothair!” I snap.
“You dare speak back to my brother?” his voice roars. He’s kind of scary looking so I shut up, for now.
“Is this some kind of a joke, Ando? He looks like something the sea washed in,” the dark, dangerous Elf says.
“No joke, brother. Father and I thought it would suit for you to have a manservant.” Andothair shines his pretty nails on his sleeve. He’s the only one of us wearing a substantial amount of clothing. The other Elf has his armor and some kind of armored skirt thing, allowing his thick legs to move freely.
“That’s the pendent from the House of Mortouge on his finger,” he hisses. “What have you done?”
“We will discuss the details later, Baya. For now, meet Tristan. Tristan, my brother Bayaden,” Ando introduces like we’ve sat down to tea.
We both stare in a way that says we hope the other will fall down dead and if the other doesn’t, we’ll quickly make it so. “Doesn’t he have a lovely mouth and cock? I figure you can make use of those if nothing else,” Andothair wheedles.
That’s it. “I am married if you’ll remember. Have you no morals whatsoever?” I say.
“Silence creature. Andothair, he’s wild,” Bayaden says, in Markaytian for me to understand.
“I will not be silenced,” I continue. “He stole me from my husband. I agreed to be a manservant, not a concubine. That wasn’t the deal, Andothair.”
“The deal,” Andothair says, “is whatever I say it is.” He slides his thumb across his throat, and I roll my eyes. Okay. I get it. I don’t do what he says, and he kills Diekin—no need to be dramatic.
“I’ll not stick my cock anywhere near that thing. It’s probably riddled with fleas,” Bayaden says.
“How dare you? I am Markaytian royalty. We do not have fleas but I’ll tell you what I do have, the blood of dragon and in a minute—”
“—silence! Both of you.” Andothair’s agitated. Bayaden and I stop talking, but we say plenty to each other with our eyes. “I don’t care what kind of arrangement the two of you work out, but you will be in each other’s company, so I suggest you get along. Neither of you have a choice in the matter.”
Regarding me, he is of course right, but I’m surprised when Bayaden doesn’t say anything. Just his constant glare trying to set me on fire with his eyes.
“Good. I have many important things to do. I’ll leave you two to get to know one another.”
Andothair finally unshackles me, and I rub at my wrists. Wait. He’s leaving? Suddenly I don’t want him to. Andothair is the evil I know. He’s irritating, but he hasn’t been cruel. I have no idea what I’m in for with his brother. I won’t beg him to stay though. I let Andothair stalk off without a word from me.
I have no other option than to hide my fear. I won’t let Bayaden know how terrifying he is and if he beats me within half an inch, I’ll take it. I’m a warrior. I’m built for this kind of thing. He wrinkles his nose at me. “You stink, Human.”
“I need a bath and some clothes.”
“Slaves do not get clothes but yes, you do need a bath—you’ll not go anywhere near my chambers without one.” I’ll work on the clothes thing later, for now I’m happy to get clean. “Go. Bathe. I don’t care what you do after that but stay out of trouble. Be in my chambers by night fall.”
Really? So basically, he’s given me free reign to do whatever I want? I smile wide. “Yes, sire,” I say, only it's all sarcasm and he knows it. He growls before storming off in the other direction.
That's when I realize he hasn’t told me where his chambers are or where I go to take a bath. That’s fine. I’m sure I’ll have no issue finding it myself. How hard can it be?
I’ll find the bathing area, I said. How hard could it be? I said. For the record, really fucking hard. I wander around lost for at least an hour before I’m stopped by two guards. They point and shout at me in Elvish. I take their shouting to mean, “Get him.”
I try to run which in hindsight was a terrible idea—I only look more guilty of something—but they’re faster than I am anyway, and they catch up with me no problem. Once they have me, I struggle, kick and scream. “Let me go!” They continue to speak Elvish even though it’s clear I can’t understand them. “Fuck you guys!”
One of them punches me in the side of the head, the other presses his staff under my throat. “How did you get in here?” one of them says, finally in Markaytian.
“Kill me.” In case you haven’t met me, I’m Tristan Kanes: Stubborn fool. That's the last thing I remember. Everything goes black.
I wake up in a cold, dark place with a throbbing head. I don’t know how much time has passed, but it feels like a while. Great. I have to get out of here and I feel the way to do that is to make demands. A guard walks over and his arm twitches, just itching to cuff me across the head or worse. He’s a different guard than before. “If you don’t quit hollerin’ like that, I’m going to give you something to holler about.”
Oh yeah. Very original, guy, but at least he’s speaking in a language I can understand. I refrain from making sarcastic comments to him about his lack of verbal ingenuity. I don’t think that will help me get out of here. “I need to speak with Andothair.”
“And I need a new horse, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.” He turns to walk away.
“Wait, I’m manservant to Baya…” Fuck, what was his name? “Bayaden?”
“You must think I’m stupid. Our Warlord doesn’t have a manservant,” he says, sneering.
“That’s because I’m his new manservant. I’m supposed to be in the baths right now, by his very orders.” Fuck, though. I’m stuck here until someone discovers I’m missing, and this guy is an absolute moron—I didn’t think stupid Elves existed.
“Right. And I’m king of the ninth realm.” He’s gone after that, and I’m left naked, cold in the dark. Now that the fog is lifting from my head being whacked, I think of Diekin—he’s been confined to this cold place indefinitely. I try calling his name with no answer, but I’m not surprised, this dungeon is probably large with many twists and turns.
The same guard returns, but this time he’s got a nasty looking whip. “You don’t want to shut up? You can squeal about this.” He opens my cell and advances on me, whipping my naked body to hell. I do end up squealing, screaming more like and it’s fucking embarrassing. When’s he finished, I’m bleeding in several places and everything hurts. I curl into a little ball crying and fuming at the same time.
Eventually, I’m silent with nothing but the stink of mold and rotting flesh to keep me company until I’m either discovered or I die one day of my festering injuries. I know I can’t count on Bayaden coming down here for me. He clearly doesn’t want me, and this might be a great place for him to keep me out of his way.
Father always warned me of this, me with all my bravado, finally abducted into a terrible situation where I’ll be starved and beaten and then fall apart because I’ve been too coddled. I thought he was being cruel, but he was trying to prepare me. I’m grateful for the harsher lessons he taught me. I vow to get through my prison stay, whatever the cost, but at the same time, I want out of here.
The pain keeps me awake and focused for some time, but it also exhausts me, and my eyelids grow heavy. I wake to the sound of a voice I already recognize, and I’m surprised he’s here—though I don’t get my hopes up yet. Maybe he’s got reason to be here other than me. Bayaden chats with the guard in Elvish and I don’t catch any of it, even if a few of the words sound familiar. And fuck, honestly? I hope Bayaden is here to take me with him.
My heart lifts when I hear the clanging of metal-on-metal and my cell door is opened. “Up yeh go, then.” It’s the same guard that beat the daylights out of me. He’s smiling, amused. I glare fire at him. “Feisty. Maybe you will make a good manservant to the Warlord after all.”
Is Bayaden Aldrien’s Warlord?

Bayaden by Sparkle

When he sets his black eyes on me, I want to run back into the cell and stay there. He might finish the job the guard began. I won’t let him see my fear; I continue to spit fire with my eyes. He grabs me by the arm, spins me around and smacks my arse, which is already painted red with welts and I take this to mean, “Bad pet, bad.” I wince and hiss. It hurts, but only because of what has already been done. Truthfully, it’s more embarrassing than anything else because I’ve got an audience of guards.
“He didn’t have a pendant, Sire. We thought he was riff raff.”
“An honest mistake,” Bayaden says curtly—he’s a man of few words and this is like Corrik. Why must I always be given to the most taciturn of men? With every place on my body throbbing and my face heated with embarrassment, Bayaden parades me through the palace expecting me to keep his quick, Elven pace. I don’t say a word and neither does he.
He delivers me to the baths. There are several washing basins about, all made from white ceramic. It’s not what I’m used to, but I suppose this is how one bathes their pet in Aldrien.
I’m unceremoniously tossed into one of the deep basins, it’s full of lovely warm water, but also with sudsy soap that eats into my red welts and lights them up anew with a burn. “By the Gods,” I cry.
“No. You did that on purpose. You didn’t even tell me where the baths were because there was no point. You knew I’d get caught soon as I took half a step.”
He picks up a brush and begins to scrub me, I scream. “You are a clever creature, disgusting as you may be,” he says over my screams, ignoring them altogether. No one else pays us any mind, not wanting to invite trouble from the dark Elf.
“If I’m so disgusting, are you sure you want to get this close? You might infest yourself with fleas. Gimme that. I am quite capable of cleaning myself thank you very much.”
He releases the brush and sits back on a short stool beside the basin, watching me as I clean up. “Pass me that,” I demand pointing to a little cup on a table beside him. He does, saying nothing over the fact that I’ve demanded him to do so and continues to watch me in awe as I wash up. He studies me like I'm something he’s never seen before, and probably, he hasn't.
It feels good to be clean and warm again. I relish in being refreshed and forget that I’m slave to a brute for the moment. When I’m finished, he yanks me out and hands me a plush, white towel. I dry my hair as best I can and wrap the large towel around my waist, hoping he’ll let me keep it. No chance of that. He rips it from me and takes reconnaissance of my body. “You are quite nice to look at when you are not full of dirt.”
I don’t care to be complimented by him or leered at like I’m a cow for sale. “May I kindly have that towel back?”
“No. I wish to look at you.”
“And I wish to tear your eyes out,” I say. I can’t even help it. His presence brings this sort of behavior out in me. Bayaden must be Dominant. I respond accordingly and can’t help thinking to myself how this interaction gives credence to Diekin’s claims on me being the brat designation. He snaps the towel, and the tail lands on my sore arse. “Ow! Do you mind very much?”
“Not at all. Follow me.”
I do as I rub my arse and keep my mouth shut since it keeps getting me into trouble. We walk down long, open corridors where the sun can shine in from the windows and even the ceiling in some places.
People stare at us, both Elves and humans. I imagine we are quite the sight. Me, a naked Markaytian, striped with fresh welts still bleeding all over the place and him the giant Warlord of Aldrien, storming through the palace, his wrath so thick it slides off him like tar. People back away, but they can’t stop looking.
When we reach his chambers, he points to a stool. “Sit.”
“Oh, I’m allowed to sit on the furniture, am I?”
He doesn’t say anything about my insolence, and I sit in the appointed chair. He brushes my hair. My short hair. I already miss my long, raven hair, the lightness of its absence reminds me I’ve lost a piece of me. “Now you know where everything is, you may bathe yourself.” He hands me the brush and I gladly take it. I’m not a show horse. I continue to brush my own hair while he moves to a drawer and then returns.
“Much as I detest it, you are mine now and you will wear this.” He thrusts a black leather collar toward me; it has a pendant, hanging from it. The pendant is blue, like my eyes. “That is the pendant of our house: House Tar Jian. You won’t be bothered anymore.”
I swipe it from him and secure it around my own neck. “Would have been nice to have earlier.”
“Let that be a lesson to you.”
“What lesson is that, exactly?”
“Ando and I are the only ones that keep you safe here. You would do well to show us some respect.” I don’t like the eyes he’s giving me, like he might tear me in half.
The day is still young.
There’s a knock at the door and Bayaden tells them to enter. It’s a small human girl—she’s wearing a dress, clothes, I can’t help but notice—and she’s bearing a tray of food, which she sets at the large table. My nakedness stands out more since I’m the only one not dressed. You think a guy would be used to it by now, but I’m not.
She isn’t fazed seeing a naked man in a collar in front of large War Elf which I take to mean that naked people is a common occurrence here, so lock my embarrassment over it away in a box. She’s in and out speedily and with the way her eyes flick to Bayaden multiple times, it’s safe to say the Elven warlord makes her uncomfortable. It’s good to know I’m not the only one he’s less than friendly to. He sets a bowl of water and a plate with bread and meat on the floor by the chair he then sits in. He digs into fair meant for a king straight away and when I don’t join him, he cocks his head toward the meager leavings on the floor. “Eat.”
“I refuse to eat from the floor like a dog.”
“You can eat what’s there like the pet you are and be grateful for it, or eat nothing at all,” he says and returns to his meal.
Using my last scraps of restraint, I walk over and pick up the water, tipping it to my mouth and guzzle it down. I can’t remember the last time I drank or ate anything.
He didn’t say how I had to eat it so I collect the plate and return to my stool. He doesn’t do anything about it, so I assume he doesn’t care. He’s quiet but I know he’s studying me. I was once a Warlord too and I’m doing the same thing with him on instinct: studying his every move. He’s still angry, but I suspect most of his anger is not aimed at me. If I were to measure a guess, I would say his brother is the target of most of his ire. But since he can’t take out his anger on Andothair, he’s happy to take it out on me. “Why does Andothair get to boss you around?”
“Quiet, human.” As least he speaks in Markaytian.
“I don’t know how it works with Elves. With my cousin, he could have told me what to do, but he never did. Unless I would refuse him some dangerous adventure then—”
“—because he’s the Crown Prince. That’s why Ando can… boss me around as you say. Satisfied enough to quit your infernal chatter? I want silence.”
“Well, at least give me some duties,” I say around a bite of bread. It’s good bread and there’s butter on it.
“You will have plenty of duties in the morning, I assure you.”
“What is this meant to be then? Get to know you hour? Because let me tell you, bang up job you’re doing.”
He turns and sets a glare on me that could melt steel. I’m quiet after that and finish the meager meal. I can still hear my stomach growling, eating itself but I don’t bother asking for more—he’s not going to give it. Instead, I sit on my stool, backside aching as he eats, and I think about Corrik. Does Corrik know where I am? Does he even know I’m still alive? Or has he given me up for dead?
I’m brought out of my thoughts when more food is shoved onto my plate. I almost drop it as I look up surprised into a set of fiery, black eyes. “I’m full. Your first duty is to make sure the rest of this food doesn’t go to waste,” Bayaden says. “I’m going to wash. Do not leave these chambers. If you do and I hear you are in the dungeons again, I’ll leave you there for a fortnight.”
“But I thought this pendant would tell everyone that I’m, you know, with you?”
“Not everyone will care at first. Once they know who you are, they will leave you alone, but that will be some time from now.” He stares at me a few moments more and then he’s gone.
He’s left me fruit, more meat and even a slice of pie. Hmph. Maybe he knows how to take care of a ‘pet human’ after all. While he’s gone, there’s another knock at the door. The little human girl is back; she’s carrying bed sheets and behind her is a human man about my age with fiery, red hair that’s closer to orange. “Hullo,” I say.
The girl smiles at me shyly while the man gets busy pulling a mattress into the room. I rush to help him. “I’m Tristan,” I tell them both, but the girl doesn’t answer and busies herself making up the mattress once it’s laid down, which I’ve noted is on the floor beside Bayaden’s bed.
Good Gods. It’s a pet bed.
“I’m Tom,” he answers. “Manservant to King Caer Gai.” He shakes my hand. He’s dressed too and I decide clothing could be a status thing. Tom has a collar like mine, but the girl doesn’t. “That’s Mary. She doesn’t speak a lot of Markaytian.”
I use gestures to show her I want to help, and she and I make up the bed as Tom clears the dinner dishes. I chat a bit with Tom, and he translates for Mary and I. We get on well, even have a few laughs. It all ends when Bayaden returns. Tom and Mary finish quickly and take the dishes with them when they leave. “You know how to clear a room.”
He glares at me but walks toward the side of his bed that is mattress free. “Undress me, Human.”
I freeze. I have no more sarcastic comments left but when he snaps his fingers, I run to him quickly. I remember that this is nothing for a prince. I was only a member of the Royal Family, a kind of Lord, and even I had my own attendant. I don’t know why my mind automatically jumps to sex. I blame Elves. Since I’ve begun my relations with Elves, sex and everything to do with it has been at the forefront of my mind.
I’m familiar with armor of all kinds but Bayaden’s armor is different than I’ve ever seen before. Thankfully, the logic is the same and I can find the buckles and snaps easily. I think I’m doing a good job, but apparently, I don’t please His Majesty because he whips my arm away and finishes the job himself.
I stand there, feeling like a moron for the several moments it takes him to undress, and the Gods’ help me since I’m a married man, but I spy Bayaden’s naked body including his hefty cock and I have to make myself tear my gaze away. He’s easy on the eyes and the man radiates dominance, a combination which has become a weakness for me. When he’s done, he points to the mattress—now covered in pillows and blankets—with rage so hot on his face I swear he could cook eggs on it. “Go to bed.”
I do. For being a prisoner, this isn’t too bad a gig. I’ve been well-fed and have comfortable lodgings. I’ve barely done anything in the way of duties—so I can’t claim my new “Master” works me to the bone—and I’ve been bathed rather than left to rot and stink like in some of Father’s stories where he’s been taken prisoner. Sure, I’m naked, collared, and have been whipped by a prison guard, but it’s none of these things keeping me awake. I’m thinking of Corrik.
I’ve hated and resisted him all this time, only to realize that I don’t hate him at all. I wish I could tell him. Andothair has the upper hand now, but I was once a warlord: Strategy is still a forte of mine and I will find a way out for Diekin and I.

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